Archive | March 2013

A Good Friday

Since having children, we have usually taken advantage of Good Friday to spend time with our children doing some sort of family activity, dependent upon Joel’s schedule as to whether it is local or a day trip.  Today, as we drove several counties away with the kids for a day of fun, we reminisced about our first Good Friday together.

Shortly before Joel and I were introduced on a blind date, Joel purchased a 1960’s era basement rancher house.  He allowed the widow from he purchased it to live there even after he closed while she finished a new home in another state.  And, then we met.  Fast forward through our quick engagement, and it became financially practical for me to move into the house while he continued to live in one of his father’s rental properties.  After becoming engaged and the widow simultaneously vacating, it was time for me to move in.  Which, in a stroke of good fortune, or so I thought, the timing coincided perfectly with accomplishing this on Good Friday since my office was closed for the holiday.   The house needed interior painting, and I sprung my plan for painting and moving on Joel.

“But, its Good Friday!” said Joel.  Exactly!  “Yes, it’s a good Friday to do all this since I am off work and we have a long weekend.”  Joel sputtered again about it being a religious holiday without articulating exactly how that prevented the plans from going forward.  As envisioned, I moved in that weekend, including painting the living room on Friday.

Now all these years later, when thinking back with humor to our initial differing views of how to spend the holiday, Joel said as we drove today, “Oh, yes.  That was when you moved into my house.”  What?  Whose house?  Not your house, it became my house that day and four months later it became our house, right?  Laughingly, Joel retreated a little.  What’s that saying about what is yours is mine, and what’s mine is mine?  Um-hum.  So many years of marriage, so little progress it seems.  *wink*

And, so early this morning we found ourselves driving to Dollywood because the kids requested that as our family activity.  Particularly, Sarah Grace is finally tall enough to ride all of the big rollercoasters (except for the Wild Eagle), and Noah was eager to escort her onto all of them, encourage her, and protect her as a loving big brother.  The two of them almost, but not quite, relegated me to the un-cool parental chaperone in the seat behind them on all of the coasters.

It is fair to say that if given the choice between randomly painting some room of our house today versus going to a theme park, Joel would pick painting.  But, parental love and duty ushered us into the sports utility vehicle and into a theme park where the high was forty-two degrees, and the rain began only an hour after arriving.  The rain started as a mist, became a steady drizzle, and by suppertime was relentlessly soaking.

Joel does not “do” roller coasters.  He becomes green on them.  And, Samuel refuses to ride roller coasters because he is a child trapped in a little old man’s body who worries about safety, and will not relinquish control long enough to learn to love that fluttery feeling in his stomach.

Consequently, I am the Coaster Mom.  And, let me assure you, you have never really lived until you ride EVERY. SINGLE. COASTER. IN. THE. COLD. POURING. RAIN.  (The Wild Eagle was the Wet Eagle today.)  As we whizzed upside down and through corkscrews, on state of the art metal tracks, and on old teeth-rattling wooden tracks, the freezing rain stung our cheeks like tiny icy needles horizontally attacking our faces.  Our breath, when we could actually catch it between death-defying drops, visibly hovered in front of our noses and mouths.

We were unprepared for poor weather, other than our hoodies.  And, yet, we all had a wonderful day.  Joel and Samuel spent time watching the blacksmith make tools and decorative implements over the hot fire or exploring wildlife exhibits, while Noah, Sarah Grace and I tackled the bigger rides.  In the end, the rain did not dampen our fun.  We made a lot of memories, laughed at each other’s soggy and bedraggled appearances, and all climbed into bed tonight sweetly tired.  A Good Friday, indeed.

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A GOOD DEAL

Joel’s 48th birthday was Monday. As a couple, we generally don’t exchange gifts–not for birthdays, holidays, or anniversaries. We do, however, usually exchange cards.

(Okay, confession time here: Joel called me from Walgreen’s the night before Valentine’s where he was buying the kids’ cards for their classmates and asked if we needed anything else. Oh no. It dawned on me I had not bought him a card and the next day was Valentine’s. So, I said, “Um, well, I haven’t bought you a card, YET. Really, I was going to.” He laughed and said, “You want me to buy my own card for myself?” Well, if you put it that way, yes. Love you!)

Both of us like the humorous cards better than the sappy, hearts and flowers cards. Funny is good, and a zinger or two is even better. This year, I was exceptionally pleased with my birthday card selection. But, more on that shortly.

Anyone who knows Joel well knows that he loves finding a bargain. Our basement is full of one man’s treasures, formerly another man’s junk. Garage sales. Going out of business sales. Mark downs. Flea markets. If I am guilty of owning too many purses and shoes (and really, is there even such a thing to be guilty of??), then Joel is condemned for never passing a yard sale without finding the next must-have item.

As a newly engaged couple, and in light of our quick romance and engagement, I slowly began to comprehend Joel’s compulsive impulsive inability to resist the siren song of a sale. We bought bedroom furniture together for our future home (yes, on sale), but we needed a mattress. No rush, or so I thought, since we had months to go before being married.

One weekend while in Knoxville seeing my parents, we climbed into the back seat of Mom and Dad’s car to go out to eat. A few minutes into the drive, Joel gleefully exclaimed that he had forgotten to tell me that he had bought a mattress. What? He had also forgotten to tell me he was even shopping for a mattress! Yes, he went on to say, he stumbled across a mattress outlet, became enamored of a mattress and bought it. Sputtering, I asked if it crossed his mind that a mattress purchase should have been made together, you know, so I could inspect it, lie down upon it, and assess it for comfort. Bewildered at my objection, Joel blurted out, “But, it was a GOOD DEAL! It was on sale!” My parents exchanged awkward glances with each other in the front as I fumed and in a solemn tone said, “But it is not a good deal if I do not like it.” Joel bleakly stared out the car window and softly said “oh!” as the implications of impending married life settled about him.

Now, almost seventeen years of marriage later, we still have that mattress, although now it is on our daughter’s bed. I did like it. I have not liked all of his purchases and our basement is the graveyard for many of the trinkets he has bought. (He vehemently denies that the basement has anything other than priceless finds in it.)

I have used his penchant for bargains to my advantage a time or two. But, none better than this week. As I stood in Walgreen’s looking for a birthday card, I found myself involuntarily laughing out loud in the aisle. I found it. The perfect card. The front had a picture of a donkey and a price tag that dangled from the card saying:

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And inside, it said:

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Joel loved the card. He rolled with laughter. He took it with him to a men’s breakfast to show to his buddies. As he pulled it out of his coat, he told his friends that when he opened it, he did not let me see him crying tears of happiness as he knew I finally truly understood him.

Now that is a good, no–a great deal if you ask me.

Aunt Loser Goes to D.C.

According to Noah, whenever Aunt Cyndi travels with us, its just like adding another kid to the trip. And, you know what? He’s right! The kids’ affectionate nickname for her is Aunt Loser. On a prior vacation, after playing games together and sweet teasing between her and them as to who would win, the kids triumphed and she became Aunt Loser forevermore.

We took our kids and Aunt Cyndi to Washington, D.C. for Spring Break. Only minutes into our road trip, and from the far back row of the Suburban wedged among the suitcases encroaching from the trunk, she taught them the following joke:

“Do you know what a fart is? It’s a turd honking to get out.”  This met with raucous laughter from our three. (Footnote:  Recall the trip last fall where she taught them the term “craptastic”.  That has haunted us for months.)

Swell. Really swell. Insert parental eye-roll here. How many weeks, or worse, months will we hear that joke repeated? I lamely attempted to recall that joke in an email to family, but I didn’t get it right. Cyndi corrected me, to which I replied, “Pardon moi.” Sheesh. I’m not current on the scatological humor I guess.

Mockingly exasperated at her, I said, “CYNDI! If you don’t behave on this trip then we will lash you to the roof for the rest of the trip.” Score one for Mom! Even rowdier laughter from the kids. And, then for the rest of the trip we teased her a lot about stopping to buy bungee cords if necessary. She explained to the kids that as their Aunt it was her duty to teach them all sorts of irrelevant things in life.

From what I could observe, she also believed it was her duty to keep them stirred up and laughing at bedtime, and to disrupt bedtime as long as possible. She and the kids had a running routine that centered around whether or not she could creep in on her hands and knees after they were tucked in and scare them. Every night she tried, and every night they erupted into giggles when they caught her. But, one night after I had warned them AND her that it was way too late to keep on with such silliness, I went into my bedroom, and when I came out there she stood with her nose poked into the tiny crack between the door and jamb. CYNDI! THAT IS ENOUGH! She jumped like a sprung Jack in the Box and we both laughed that instead of her scaring them, I scared her! Finally, toward the end of the week, she began hiding in their bedroom closet and successfully scared them witless as she sprang from the closet in their darkened room. Surely there’s no connection between that and their reluctance to turn out their lights at home now?

Cyndi and Sarah Grace were our Metro navigators.  Our hotel offered a free shuttle to and from the Metro, and all we had to do was call them when our train passed a certain stop, which Cyndi heard as the Boston Commons stop. (Which if we were in Boston, would be logical.  Not so much in D.C. though.)  However, Cyndi couldn’t find Boston Commons on any of the four Metro lines, and fretted silently the first day.  As we rode the Metro back toward our hotel, she confessed she couldn’t find any such stop on the map.  Just then, we whooshed into the next station and “Ballston” whizzed by.  Sarcastically, with one eyebrow cocked, I asked, “Would that be Ballston perhaps?”  Relief flooded her face even as she started laughing.  She said, “Yes! How embarrassing!”  To which I mocked her with, “Yes, I’m embarrassed FOR you!”

As our trip progressed from one historical site to another—Monticello, Ash Lawn, Ford’s Theatre, Arlington Cemetery, and all through D.C., and finally Mt. Vernon, Noah quipped that this was the Dead President’s vacation. Cyndi, despite now working for the University, was not a scholarly sort in her younger years, and a trip full of history would have tortured her. But, she seemed to enjoy this trip.  Mostly.  Except for the First Ladies’ Dress exhibit in the Smithsonian American History Museum. There, her enthusiasm lagged. Cyndi and I are opposite in many ways including that as much as I love frou frou, she dislikes it equally as much. While Sarah Grace sought a picture in front of each and every dress (a child after my own heart!), I spied Cyndi texting inside the exhibit and she confessed to the following text with her friend:

    Cyndi:  Annnnnd now we are looking at dresses worn by First Ladies. Can we go back to the space museum?

   Friend:  Oh lord.  Cyndi is tugging at her sister’s shirt saying can we gooooooo? Lol

   Cyndi:  Pretty much!  My niece is loving it though.  But how much longer?

   Friend:  That makes me laugh and feel sorry for you at the same time.

We love Cyndi despite, or perhaps because of,  her craziness.  Cyndi is a winner in our eyes.  Even if she is Aunt Loser.