Laughing All the Way!

Laughing All the Way!

My husband can make me laugh like no one else. As a matter of fact, I believe it is his life’s mission to make me belly-laugh at least once, every single day. This makes life fun for sure! He loves this if he is intentionally making me laugh, but not so keen with it if I am laughing at something he did unintentionally….

Life has been busy. It’s Christmas and we are planning to move in January. I have been trying to pack things in boxes, and at the same time unpack Christmas decorations. Frustrating to say the least! I would forgo decorating at all this year, but the kids would never forgive me.

We usually make going to get the Christmas tree a family outing. Most years, we go to a farm and cut our own. A few years ago, we picked the kids up from school and surprised them by going straight to the Christmas tree farm to get a tree. I thought they would be so excited, but my 10-year-old son said, “Oh man, why couldn’t you have just done that while we were at school?”

Then two years ago, there was the incident at the Christmas tree farm when Eddie laid on the ground to cut down the tree, and suddenly we all got the whiff of something stinky. Of all the acres on that farm, my husband managed to lay in a pile of dog poop under the tree. Yuck! We all had to ride home in the truck with the windows down in 30 degree temps trying not to gag!

This year however, time just didn’t allow for this. If we didn’t get a tree today, it wasn’t going to happen. Eddie had to drop Ethan off early for a wrestling scrimmage and I told him to just go to the Home DePot and get a tree. I had no worries because Eddie is a bit of a perfectionist. I did tell him however, to not get an overly large tree because I just wanted to do things simple this year.

He had one job.

A few hours later he arrived home. It was starting to snow and I was playing holiday music. It felt so Christmas-y!  Eddie yelled upstairs for me to come and help him, so I put on my Carhart coat and work gloves and helped him haul it to the living room. He stood it up, and that’s when I got a little nervous. The top didn’t quite clear our NINE FOOT ceiling. I thought to myself, “I thought I told him small…” And although the tree was still encapsulated in that tight, orange netting, I was thinking it seemed awfully full. While still holding my tongue, he began to cut off the netting. Next was the scene we’ve all seen from the movie, Christmas Vacation. As the branches were freed, this tree opened up to be extremely wide. Luckily, I had move our end tables. I mean if a tree could be pregnant, she was expecting twins.

Eddie excitedly looked at me and said, “What do you think?” I think he could tell by the look on my face, but I wanted to be careful with my words. So I said, “Um, wow. It’s a little bigger than I expected, but I guess we can make it work.”

We tried to adjust the balance but the crooked  trunk looked like it could have been out of a Dr. Seuss book. I couldn’t seem to find ‘up.’ I stood back while he laid under the tree to turn it, so I could find it’s ‘best side.’ Every time he turned it a fraction of a turn, the view got worse. Her pregnant belly traveled across our living room like a sundial. After the third adjustment I started to giggle. With each consecutive turn, the laugh got harder until I was bent over with my legs crossed, so as not to do ‘the thing’ women my age can’t help doing, when they laugh too hard. I could not control my laughter and my husband was not amused in the least. The more annoyed he got, the harder I laughed. I was trying get the words out to explain why I was laughing, but it was impossible!

The next thing I knew, he announced he was “taking the tree back.” Now I’m lying on my back with tears running down my cheeks and can’t catch my breath. I managed to compose myself long enough to spout out, “You can’t take a Christmas tree back!” To which he replied, “Watch me.”

As he dragged the tree down the stairs and out the door into the snow I vaguely heard him mutter something about ‘dumping it in the woods…’

I’m dying!

After he drove away to return the tree to Home Depot, I immediately texted my bestie. I knew she would understand the hilarity because we get each other. She is a photographer so her first question was, “Did you get a picture?” Somehow I had managed to snap a pic with my phone and sent it to her. She said, “It’s pretty.”  I said, “It is not pretty! It is a Charlie Brown Christmas tree the size of Texas! He just felt sorry for it and brought it home!”

Laughing emojis for miles….

A little while later, I heard the diesel engine as he backed the truck in the drive. I peeked out the front window and watched him emerge from the cab and drop the tail gate, my anticipation rising. I notice how adorable he looked in his red and black buffalo print flannel shirt, and his thick beard. He was dressed perfectly for this occasion.

I cautiously opened the front door and peeked out. Eddie spots me and gives me a sideways glance as he pulls the tree from the bed of the truck.

“Hi honey. How’d we do?” I say. He says, “I don’t know, you’ll have to answer that.” He’s still pouting. I feel slightly bad so I give him my sad puppy face and say,  “Come on babe, don’t be mad, let me see the tree.”

I admit, when he stood it upright, it was significantly smaller. “Perfect!” I say. We bring it upstairs and set it up. He announces, “My job here is done.”

It will be up to the kids and me to decorate it.

He goes to busy himself with something else and I feel like I need to make amends for laughing at my husband’s first choice of tree – even as funny as it was to me.

Last year, our two children wanted their own Christmas trees in their rooms, so I bought them each a small tree to decorate. “Twins!,” I think to myself. I tell the kids to bring their trees downstairs. We finish decorating the tree and set the twin babies beside her. I think this will be a funny and cute way to end the Christmas tree story for 2017.

Later, we show him the little Christmas tree family and I say, “Doesn’t she look great for just having twins?” He just shakes his head and chuckles. He knows we love him.

I hope your Christmas season has been full of laughter amidst the chaos. I am so grateful that I have someone who can make me laugh everyday, because I love to laugh. Laughing is my favorite.

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

The Vexing Issue of the Yearly School Portrait

The Vexing Issue of the Yearly School Portrait

I am waiting for my car to be inspected, along with a part replaced due to a recall on my Honda Accord. The technician told me it would take about an hour and a half to complete the job. He shows me to the waiting area where the TODAY Show is playing annoyingly loud. I sit down and look at the other waiting customers who all have their noses buried in their phones. I glance at the variety of magazines, but am not intrigued. After a few minutes of listening to Martha Stewart show Hoda Kotb how to peel garlic without using her hands, I knew I couldn’t sit there any longer, so I decide to go in search of a cup of coffee. I find a vacuum carafe, pour a cup and stir in powdered non-dairy creamer.  I find a quiet table in the showroom to sit down and make a to-do list. It is the kids’ first full week of school and between signed syllabuses, multiple checks written for a variety of things, three-ring binders coming out of my ears, new sneakers and gym uniforms, I remember that tomorrow is picture day. It is only the sixth day of school and  I’m tired and broke. Who schedules these things?  Thoughts go through my head, “Should we get Ethan’s hair cut after school today?” He is in that in-between stage of the ‘summer buzz cut’ and  ‘no real style yet.’  Not the best look going at the moment, but that would add another $21.00 to the cost, so I think we’ll pass on the hair cut….

As I think back on Ethan’s school pictures, I fondly remember his third grade picture in which I sent him to school in a nice button down plaid shirt. He decided to take that shirt off at recess so he wouldn’t get it dirty. Good thinking on his part, but they went directly from the playground to the photographer. His picture is of a sweaty, red-faced boy in a white Hane’s undershirt. I have 2 8x10s, 3 5x7s and 100 wallets of this precious memory. The next three years, he managed to wear the same bright orange shirt. Last year, I opened his package and thought, “Finally, a great school picture!” His hair looked great and he had the best smile that showcased his new braces. At closer glance however, I discover they took the picture after lunch. Food in the braces – yummy. Another $45 down the tube.

School pictures are the worst, but such a tradition. They awkwardly pose our kids, make them smile on demand and you get what you get. I begrudgingly write checks every year to Lifetouch so I can send Grandma pictures that she treasures, so she can show all of her friends and hang them on her refrigerator door with cute magnets.

After four children, I have thousands of school pictures still in their original envelopes with the celophane windows. I have several friends who are amazing photographers, yet I continue to spend a small fortune on these packages year after year. Is it a mom-guilt thing? If I don’t buy the package, I’ll deprive my children of their ‘school-days’ memories? Will my kids feel left out if they don’t show up with their money envelope in hand?

I force down another gulp of my luke warm coffee and I try not to make an ugly face. I shudder and know a drive through Starbucks is in order as soon as I leave here. With thoughts of school portraits, a memory pops into my head of my fifth grade school picture.

Just look at this gem:

IMG_5635

I giggle as I recall the story of this photograph….

My mother decided it would be a great idea for me to wear my Girl Scout uniform to school for my class picture. Wearing your Girl Scout uniform to school wasn’t unusual back then- when your meeting was after school in the cafeteria- everybody did it. So when I showed up on picture day in my uniform, my best friend immediately noticed and then reminded me that we didn’t have a meeting that day. I told her I knew that, but my mother wanted me to wear it for my school picture. She then informed me that school pictures weren’t that day- they were the next day. What? Not only did I have to wear my uniform to school on a non-meeting day, but it wasn’t even the correct day for the school pictures! I was so embarrassed! I went though the entire day with people reminding me that I had worn my uniform on the wrong day. I could not wait to get home.

When I returned home that afternoon, I informed my mother what had happened. She could tell by my attitude that I had been completely mortified by the whole experience and that I was not at all happy. It would have been the perfect day to come home to some warm, fresh-baked homemade chocolate chip cookies, but that didn’t happen either.

My mother seemed unaffected by my drama, and then promptly told me to go to my room to change, and to make sure that I hung up my uniform so I could wear it again tomorrow. That’s when time stopped. Everything froze. She could not possibly be serious. I could not live through this indignity again tomorrow. I was panicking! This.was.not.happening.to.me.  My life was over. I could already picture the kids laughing at me in my predicament.

The thing is, I knew that I would not win this argument. I was the fourth child, and if I had learned anyting in my 10 years of life, it was that once my mother spoke something, she could not be persuaded to change her mind. Arguing or complaining only cinched the deal all the more. It was my sentence. I bowed my head in shame and slowly walked to my bedroom.

When I woke the next morning, I thought I could fake an illness to escape my fate. After some volleying inside my head, I knew that it was either today or prolonging the agony until make-up picture day. Maybe she would forget, but I knew that would never happen. I resigned myself to my degradation.

The funny thing is, I showed up to school in the same outfit- a Girl Scout uniform- two days in a row, and no one really noticed. At least they pretended not to notice. Other than my best friend who just rolled her eyes, no one said anything. Maybe they felt sorry for me or maybe they just didn’t care, but I walked in expecting to be humiliated and nothing happened.

I got my portrait taken in my Girl Scout uniform and despite my vast array of mixed dentition, I think I looked adorable. I know my mom was happy, she got her wish. When I got home there still were not any warm chocolate chip cookies waiting, but there were homemade brownies – and a big hug.

Touche’ Lifetouch.

Are Ya Sure?

Are Ya Sure?

My bestie lives in Arkansas. We met when we both lived in Maryland in 1991, and we were both pregnant with our second daughters. She only lived in Maryland for three years, but we have remained best friends ever since. Our friendship is easy. Although there have been many tears shed together, our favorite thing to do is laugh.

I’m not sure how long it was after she moved back to Arkansas, but one Saturday afternoon she called to chat and to tell me what had happened to her that day. I was laying on the couch as she told me her story…

She and her husband had gone to the hardware store to pick up something that they needed. While they were in the checkout line, a young girl at the cash register began to make conversation with her; southern folk are nothing if they aren’t friendly. This is how their conversation went:

(You have to picture this in your mind as being said with an adorably thick southern accent.)

Cashier: “Hey” (because people in Arkansas don’t say ‘hi,’ they say ‘hey.’)

Bestie: “Hey”  *smiles warmly*

Cashier: “How are ya’ll doin’ today?”

Bestie: “We’re good, how are you?”

Cashier: Suddenly and excitedly says, “Oh! When is your baby due?”

Bestie: *Stiffens*

Bestie’s husband: *gets deer-in-the-headlights look*

Bestie: Smiles politely and through her teeth says,  “I’m not pregnant.”

Cashier: Looks confused, pauses for a minute and says: “Are ya sure?”

Bestie: *Begins to climb over counter as her husband physically attempts to restrain her*

The cashier said, “Are ya sure?” LOL! She was only a teenager, but still. I thought I would die laughing! Actually, I fell off the couch onto the floor from laughing so hard. My bestie wasn’t laughing, as she was still pretty sore about the whole incident. After a few minutes though, we were both laughing at the whole story, the unbelievable comment, her reaction, her husband’s reaction, all of it. Ever since then, I cannot think about this story without giggling. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to witness the whole thing.

My laughter was at the young girl’s comment. I mean she said, “Are ya sure?” to a grown woman after she told her she wasn’t pregnant. That’s funny, I would never laugh at my bestie.

I’m certain it was the way she was standing, or an unflattering top accentuating what my husband likes to call my ‘woman-ess,’ to make the girl think she had a tiny baby-bump. I’ve had days where I’ve felt bloated to the point of looking pregnant. However, the comment made her feel not-beautiful, and immediately she was hard on herself for not being what our world brainwashes us into believing we should look like. There are many shapes and sizes of women, and all of us wish we could change something about ourselves, especially our weight. Why do we do this? Embrace your ‘woman-ess” ladies. Don’t let the world take away from you what is beautiful, which is all of you; not only your physical body, but the beautiful person, mother, daughter and woman you are. My bestie is one of the most beautiful woman I know on the inside and out, and I want her to know that and believe that with all her heart.

However, never ask a woman that question unless you are 110% sure.

You’re welcome.

 

 

Caution: Debris on the Road

Caution: Debris on the Road

It had been a busy day. It was late summer/early autumn and the day had been warm, but there was a chill in the air as evening was approaching. I spent the day making 100 gourmet caramel apples as thank you gifts for my job, to distribute to our referring offices. It was more work than I had planned on, but they turned out great. They looked absolutely amazing!

When the kids came home from school, I was reminded that there was an event at school that evening and it was the last night to register my daughter for her Brownie Troop. Of course they were in totally opposite directions. I decided that since I had been working in the kitchen all day that we would run to the library in our neighboring town to register for Brownies, grab dinner at Chick-fil-A and then head to school for the event. I was determined to make it all work.

We successfully registered Charlotte at the library and were heading back to our town on the main two-lane road. It was such a beautiful evening I had the windows down in the car. The breeze felt awesome. As a car passed me coming in the opposite direction, I felt something wet splatter on my face. Funny, the road wasn’t wet so I thought perhaps they had been washing their windshield as they drove by, and I got splashed. I touched my hand to my face as I glanced in my review mirror, and to my horror I saw blood. I was confused until the smell hit me; it was the worst stench I had ever smelled in my life which made me practically vomit. I suddenly realized what happened – the car that passed me in the opposite direction had run over the remnants of a decomposing varmint in the road, (aka roadkill) kicked some of the debris up from their car tire where it landed on my face. MY FACE! I let out a scream that could have wakened the dead from their sleep and then everything went dark…..

Not really. I did scream, but I was driving, so passing out wouldn’t have been cool with my kids in the car. My kids by the way, didn’t know what to think as I was going loco in the driver’s seat. While ranting non-stop, I held my contaminated left hand in the air as I steered with my right, occasionally dry-heaving from the smell and glancing at the horror show on my face in the rear view mirror. How in the world could this have happened? Only me.

As we came into town, the kids noticed I wasn’t in the correct lane to go to Chick-fil-A and started complaining loudly that “I was going the wrong way!”

“Children”, I said, “Are you serious? Can you not see that I have roadkill on my face?” *dry-heave* “I have to go straight home.”

Their reply was, “But Mom, we’re hungry. You promised! What are we going to eat?

I told them it wasn’t my biggest concern at the moment, but then I quickly realized if we went to the restaurant, I could at least go inside and wash the stench off of my hands and face. Win-win.

I hurried into the bathroom and attempted to run the water with one of those stupid touch-less, motion censored faucets which gives you three seconds of water before it automatically shuts off. Whyyyy?? I was impatiently stomping my foot and whimpering like a baby trying to get continuous running water. I overdosed on the soap – again motion sensored- and the timing kept landing the foam on the counter instead of my hand. Grrr!!! As I look into the mirror to wash my face, I discover bits in my hair – my hair!! Then of course, because we are so earth conscience here in southern Pennsylvania, there are no paper towels – only an air dryer in this restroom. I have a wet face that cannot be dried. I shamelessly go into a stall to get toilet paper and I can’t even get a good six squares without it breaking. Tears…

Charlotte was standing there waiting for me and says, “Mommy can I get a milkshake?” I look down at her sweet face and think to myself, “I’m so glad she is not scarred by this event.”

I order their food, rush home and go straight to the shower. I make it as hot as I can stand it. I lather, rinse and repeat seventeen times. I still don’t feel clean.

It really did happen. I was splattered with decomposing varmint matter on my face. Stinky, nasty, putrid, gross roadkill. It haunts me. I can no longer ride with the car windows down. Whenever I see anything dead on the road, the memories of that day come flooding back. Therapy has helped a little.

I caution all of you who love to drive with the wind in your face – it sometimes comes at a cost. Be aware lest this happens to you.