Cross-Texting

I recently texted on two different occasions that either were the right message sent to the wrong person, or the wrong message sent to the right person.

Occasionally, we ask a young woman to help us clean the house.  So, in anticipation of her visit that morning while we weren’t home, I texted her the details of how to get  in the house and where the supplies were stored and that Joel would be home later in the day.  Except that the reason I texted for Joel being home was utterly and completely wrong:

I:  Joel should be home in time to pat you.
Her:  Ok.
I: PAY you! Not pat you!  Agh.

Darn you, auto-correct! I just made a simple and honest plan sound so perverted and twisted.  Good grief.  Hope she’ll return!

But, the best unintentional text was this:

My sister recently interviewed for a new position with a different company and in the week or two ahead of the interview, she shopped for a new suit and accessories.  I offered virtual advice through texts and emails and review of photos that she sent me from dressing rooms clothed in potential outfits, along with the occasional phone call to emphasize that she needed a new lipstick color.  (She really needed a brighter lipstick!  I had been teasing her about that even before the job interview.  Spoiler alert….she got the job!  I know it was the lipstick that did it for her…… and maybe her winning personality and strong credentials didn‘t hurt either.)  So, in the midst of my virtual fashionista / bossy big sister strong-arming, I texted her:

I: Put on whole outfit including all accessories and text photo to me…..lipstick too.

Ding. I heard Joel’s iPhone text message alert.  I hollered for him to check his texts since he was in the other room and usually his church members text him about assorted church things.  Joel walked into our bedroom, picked up his phone from the nightstand, read the text and said casually to me, “Huh??  Well, okaaaayyy.”  He laughed a deep rolling belly laugh as he peered at me over his drugstore readers.

Oh no!  I didn’t text Cyndi.  I texted that to Joel!  Wrong, definitely wrong meaning altogether!  But, after I posted a blurb on Facebook about the misdirected text asking him to accessorize and wear lipstick, some of our friends noted Joel’s seemingly compliant and non-bothered response .  Comments to my post included:

“If Joel does as instructed and takes a pic, you better post it for all to see.”; and
“Whoa! TMI re our pastor!  He said okay!  LOL“;

And then there were these slightly more knowing comments:

“Seems like I have seen Joel in lipstick too….hmmmmm?”; and
“Haha!  I think I remember a Halloween costume?”

Yes, friends.  Joel was quizzically lackadaisical in his response because like many men before him who have cross-dressed for a laugh or fame and fortune—-think Robin Williams as “Mrs. Doubtfire“, or Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in “Some Like It Hot“, or Dustin Hoffman as “Tootsie“, or Tom Hanks in “Bosom Buddies“—-I have proof of Joel fully sequined and bejeweled, wearing fire engine red lipstick,  a demurely flipped lavender coiffure, and more turquoise eye-shadow than you would find on a peacock.  You might want to avert your eyes or look away. What?  You say you want to see that?  Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you:

photo (6)            photo (7)   photo (8)  photo (9)

Joel dressed up as Dame Edna for Halloween a couple of years ago, to the surprised delight of many.  Joel went all in for it too….check out the nail polish on fingers and toes—his idea.  Oh, and the open-toes silver shoes?  He found those himself in a local slightly used shoe store, size 13 Ladies.  They show off his delicate ankles quite nicely, don’t you think?   (Oh, and I am the blonde hippie next to him, by the way.)

After we came home that Saturday night, I did my best to remove the coral colored polish.  But, it was late and we were tired.  That next morning as Joel gave his sermon and gestured in the pulpit, I noticed traces of the polish still lining his cuticles.

Joel good-naturedly agreed to this post and the questionable fame, or perhaps infamy, that will result?  However, he is still waiting on the fortune to follow from my blog posts about him, which as of yet, have not panned out in that regard as he hoped.

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Puking in Public

Our Sunday morning service includes a time designated as Prayers and Concerns.  Church members raise their hands to share prayer requests and offer updates, as well as rejoice in their joys with each other.  Everyone is welcome to participate.  Everyone.  Even our children.

I am conflicted when I see their tiny hands expectantly raised high.  I sit on the back pew, while they sit on the front row waiting for the children’s sermon, called Feeding of the Lambs. Therefore, I am powerless to give them the raised eyebrow, or menacingly shoot them the evil eye, or to firmly press a hand upon their thigh to dissuade them. I am encouraged that they feel comfortable participating in the service, and that they have empathy for others, hopefully.  And, yet, I mostly feel slightly queasy that they are so comfortable because frankly there is no predicting nor controlling what they are likely to say.  I involuntarily hold my breath and start praying that it won’t be too embarrassing.  For me, of course.  Not for them.

This past Sunday, Samuel raised his hand.  Joel saw it.  Joel called on every last adult and still Samuel patiently waited confidently holding his hand up high.  With a slightly resigned trace of a chuckle under his breath, Joel looked down from the pulpit and said warily, “Yes, Samuel?”  Samuel said with relish, “My friend (name) just returned from a trip to (his home country), and on the very first day back to school he puked all over the place.  He needs prayer.”  A subtle ripple of congregational laughter ricocheted through the pews all the way back to me on the last pew.  Just fantastic.

Unfortunately, this is not the only time that topic has been broached outside of our own private conversations.  Several years ago, we invited an older couple to our house for Thanksgiving.  They were friends and church members who could not travel that year to see their family.  We prepared our traditional Thanksgiving meal, and set the formal dining room table with our fine china and crystal and the silver utensils I inherited from my grandmother.  We sat our children at the kitchen table with the cheap everyday place settings, of course, just as any holiday meal dictated in my childhood.  You have to grow your way up to the adult table, right?  Surely from in there, no disasters could occur, neither from breaking or spilling, nor any breaches of etiquette.  Which in a very short time, I realized I had underestimated.

While sitting in the dining room with our guests, one of the boys left the table and for some unknown reason opened the door into our garage and our cat, Sterling, slipped in.  Sterling stealthily padded straight for the dining room, and directly for our guests’ legs to rub on and slither between.  Samuel ran in to grab him.  Mrs. Guest –most likely humoring Samuel –went on about how she loved cats, and couldn’t the cat please stay inside with us?

Samuel, quick on the take, sincerely and emphatically said “Oh, no!  Dad says the cat can’t be in the house because if he pees, poops, or pukes in the house, he’ll kill us!”  Ah, yes. Words to live by from Reverend Cook.  Love is patient.  Love is kind.  Unless the cat is in the house.  Prayer requests, anyone?

THE ROAD TO HELL

We spent the afternoon with our three children at the orthodontist.  He and his staff are lovely people.  And, given the amount of work needed on the road to beautiful teeth, we will see them more regularly than we see our family.  In fact, we invited them to supper next week!  We will also be giving them a lot, let me repeat, a lot more money than we give our family as we will soon have three children simultaneously wearing braces.

While scheduling the next visit, the assistant mentioned their office in another small city in Southwest Virginia and inquired if we had been there.  Oh, yes.  We know that city all too well as is it one to which we pilgrimage every December for a meal with friends.  The friends are dear.  The meal is wonderful.  The trip is not.

Every December our friend invites us to his mother’s home in Southwest Virginia for a professionally catered meal.  The invitation includes all of my husband’s immediate family and assorted mutual close friends.  Our friend and his mother are gracious hosts.  We have attended this meal since our children were infants.  Our friend’s home is elegantly furnished with luxurious fabrics and fine furniture, and decorated with expensive and fragile accents.  A delicious meal is served upon fine china, in crystal glasses, with silver utensils, and upon tables dressed in linen.  Imagine three toddlers rambling around while we anxiously hawk-eye them the entire time while we pray they don’t spill drinks or break a family heirloom. Until very recently, we were frightfully worried about the damage our children could inflict.

But, the true stress occurs during the drive there, through no fault of our friends, of course.  The journey over the Appalachian Mountain range is dark and curvy.  And, it snows every year, no matter what date the dinner is held.  The drive one direction under the best of circumstances is one and a half hours.  Unfortunately, a recent trip was far longer than that.

Dinner was to be served at six o’clock.  We left at a quarter after four.  I drove our brand new Suburban with Joel as my co-pilot.  An exceptionally heavy fog descended upon the mountain accompanied by a misty combination of snow and sleet.  The sky loomed grey and murky and gradually turned inky without any man made light sources along the route.

Suddenly, in the indistinct shadows ahead, I saw a white car stopped in our lane.  Instinctively, when the car did not move after blowing the horn, I looked to change lanes, and could not because the only other car we had seen the entire way was driving immediately to our right.  We veered hard left into the center grassy median to avoid the obstacle—which turned out to be a white washer and dryer set.  We drove out of the median astonished and thankful that we avoided an accident with household appliances.

Just as our nerves settled down, we approached a group of assorted emergency vehicles parked ahead in the roadway.  Blue and red lights blinked, flashed and rotated. State Troopers wearing rain slickers and clear shower caps over their felt hats waved yellow signal wands to divert us off the main route because a mudslide covered all four lanes of the road ahead, only minutes from our final destination.  The detour sent us off on what became an embattled debate with On Star and eventually between Joel and myself.

We turned onto the diverted route in the soupy blackness.  Unfamiliar with this detour route and with scarce roadway signage, and by following the defective On Star route downloaded to our car after a live chat, we found ourselves thirty minutes later back to the exact same point of our initial detour.  Optimistically delusional, we attempted the detour a second time with no better results.  A debate began in which driving and navigation skills, or perceived lack of the same, were hotly contested and unfairly criticized. After all, mine weren’t the only eyes that failed to see the critical turn, were they?

I impulsively threw the Suburban into park on the gravel shoulder, jumped out, offered Joel the opportunity to drive, and slammed the car door as hard as I could.  (Just for some perspective, I am 5’3” and the side view mirror on the door is dead even with my cheekbones, so it required a lot of effort to achieve enough momentum to slam that heavy door.)  It felt so good to hear the resounding “wham”, that I momentarily considered opening it again just to slam it a second time.  Instead, I stomped around the back bumper of the car in the wintry precipitation, marched along the side of the car, and climbed into the passenger seat.   Have at it.  Good luck getting us there.  Our third attempt at the detour met with success.  We arrived three hours after leaving home.  The party had saved our meals, although the caterers were already clearing the dishes.

Our tempers calmed, our stomachs full, and our patience restored, we struck off for home—after confirming the mudslide was cleared.  We stopped at the two pump local gas station.  Fifteen minutes later, a state trooper roared up behind us with the blue lights flashing.  (Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha’ gonna do?  Whatcha’ gonna do when they come for you?  Could this evening be any more bizarre?)  We prepared for a ticket although we believed we had not sped.  Noah began panicking in the back seat that we were going to jail.  Please, Noah, be quiet and calm.  Just let Daddy talk to the trooper.

The trooper cautiously approached Joel’s window.  Did we just gas up at such and such station?  Yes.  The trooper said, “Ah, well, the clerk reported you as a drive-away without paying.”  Bewildered, Joel explained how he paid with a credit card and the pump wouldn’t work if payment had not been authorized.  The trooper was extremely polite, but asked us to follow him back to the station to sort it out.  Fifteen minutes later at the station, the clerk sheepishly admitted to making a mistake.  All for a measly seven gallons.  And a lost thirty minutes of travel time.

Friends, we have traveled the road to hell.  And it is littered with appliances, mudslides, and a police escort.

JO AND BO: OTHERWISE KNOWN AS MY FATHER HAS LOST HIS MIND

My father, Jo, is 71.  Unfortunately, I have suspected for some time now that he is losing his mind.  The signs at first were curiously concerning, but I rationalized them away.

For example, Dad had daughters.  Twin grandsons were his second chance to engage in all sorts of “boy” activities that he missed out on with us:  Scouting, fishing, sports, BB guns, etc.  But, earlier this year, when the boys were nine years old and the new James Bond movie premiered, Dad sat at my kitchen table one Saturday afternoon and suggested–with a straight face– that he take the boys to see the movie.  Mistakenly, I thought he was pulling my leg per his dryly sly sense of humor.  But, no.  He was serious.  Hang on there, Dad….let me read the review of that movie.  Humph.  Extra violent, inappropriate humor, an ambiguously bi-sexual villain, and of course the usual female love interest…..nope.  Not going to happen.  (So, I left the boys with Joel and I went with him. 😉 Just being a loving daughter.)

But, perhaps most strange was when about three years ago he acquiesced to my Mother’s plea to buy a standard size poodle puppy.  During my childhood, Dad tolerated our assorted dogs…two toy poodles, and later a three pound Chihuahua.  Dad is a cat person.  And, once he raised me and my sister and sent us into the world, there would be no reason for him to ever own another dog.

So, throwing common sense to the wind, enter Bo, the black standard poodle.  Bo is at least as smart as a three year old child, and far less mannerly.  I recall in my raising being expected to mind my parents, and I never got away with anything.  Bo?  Not so.  Bo is incorrigible.  And, my parents are not upset by his antics.  No, they laugh!  They tell tales about him that horrify me.  I know they are capable of better, obviously, since they raised me and my sister!  They were uber alpha dog with us, so to speak.  When they said sit, we sat and said yes sir, thank you, sir.  Bo?  So far, he has eaten, chewed, and mangled no less than twelve leashes, two wallets, one cell phone, a several hundred dollar pair of prescription glasses, countless socks, a door facing or two, and several sandwiches left unattended on the kitchen counter for milliseconds.  Bo understands Spanish and English, especially when pertaining to his intended bedtime or being placed in his crate resulting in my parents resorting to spelling or subtle eye movements to communicate around the dog.  All this despite professional obedience training. 

And, in yet the strangest twist, guess who Bo adores?  Exactly.  Not Mom.  Bo is extremely possessive of Dad to the extent that he wedges between them when they hug, and he sleeps in the bed between them.  A sixty-five pound dog, in my father’s bed—without objection from Dad?  This is certainly not the father with whom I lived.  Who has kidnapped him and where have they taken him?  Now I’m really worried that early dementia is setting in.

But, tonight I received confirmation that my father is slipping away.  He sent email, which I have pasted below:

———————————————-

I have just come in from walking Bo. I asked permission from Doris to beat him, but she won’t let me.

When I started out with him I gave him a chance to poop in our yard. If he will do that before we get into the road I don’t have to scoop it up into a plastic bag from the road and then carry it in one hand all around the neighborhood. He didn’t accept my offer to poop in the yard. So we headed out down the road with his leash securely around one wrist so he can’t get away from me. I called my sister on the cell phone to talk with her as I walked, as we talk every Sunday evening. We had only gone about fifteen yards, just past my neighbor’s driveway when Bo began to squat to poop. Great, Bo. Couldn’t you have done this one minute ago before we left the yard?

I told my sister I had to lay the phone down a minute to clean up after him. I placed the phone on the road pavement and squatted down on my knees to scoop poop. The leash was still around my right wrist. While starting to scoop poop, I felt Bo pulling on my right wrist, toward my neighbor’s yard. I looked to my right and there in the brown mulch surrounding one of his trees was a brown calico cat that blended in almost perfectly with the mulch. Almost. But Bo saw him. Bo suddenly bolted, and with the leash attached to my right wrist he suddenly jerked me off my knees to the pavement, landing on the right side of my chest.

While I am stretched out in the road, I hear a car coming around the curve. Great. I’m on my side in the road and the phone is on the pavement to my left. If only the phone is about to get smashed by the oncoming car that will be great. I just hope he doesn’t hit me.

Fortunately the driver saw me and stopped. I recovered the phone, got up, and walked on. My chest is a little sore and hurts a little when I cough, but I don’t think I broke a rib. We went on around the curve and Bo spotted the cat again, once more in the next tree bed around the curve. Fortunately I was on my feet and could stop another rush at the cat.

Now I ask you – am I justified in beating the dog tonight?

—————————————————————————

Now, in his younger years, Dad would not have asked permission of any sort.  What crazy stranglehold does this dog  have on Dad?  Sadly, my mother’s take on it came minutes later via Dad’s second email:

————————————————————-

Doris just said, “The only thing worse would have been if Bo got away.”

HELLO – How about if the car had flattened me? Would that maybe have been worse than Bo getting away?

————————————————

It is so sad to see a parent start to slip away, to become a shell of the person they once were.  Dad, I promise when I select your assisted living home, it will be the best money can buy.

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.

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.