Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mimi Van Winkle


"I love to sleep."  If I've heard her say it once, I've heard it a thousand times.  My mother can almost fall asleep on command.  There is Van Winkle blood flowing through her veins.

My sister, Kathy, and I used to tease mother about her ability to fall asleep while getting her teeth cleaned or waiting for her tires to be rotated.  We truly believed that general anesthesia during surgery would be a waste of money because The Meems would fall into a deep, wild-dreamed sleep before the surgeon had time to gown up for the procedure.

Now that Mom is a Lady of Leisure - because living at Raider Ranch is like living in a "resort hotel" - she has taken sleep to a whole new level.  She takes her shower right after dinner and heads to bed around 8:00.  She tells us that she lies there awake until about 11:00.  That is utter nonsense.  We've seen how she falls asleep when the lights go down in a movie theatre.  

At Raider Ranch, the residents are supposed to push a button in their apartments every morning by a certain time to let the receptionist-on-duty know that they are still members of the Land of the Living.  Mimi's bladder wakes her up just before the...uh...deadline (couldn't resist).  She pads into the bathroom and pushes the button which is conveniently located just above the toilet paper holder.  

Yesterday, I went by to see her.  I go over weekly to check on how many of her daily pills she dropped on the floor or left in the Sunday-Friday box entirely.  I also needed to see how her new pair of jeans was fitting after some alterations.

I called ahead from my car.

"Mom, sorry to wake you!  I know that it's only 11:00, but I need to come over now because it's next on my map of errands."

"ok"  (tiny voice)

"I'll be there in 20 minutes, so go ahead and leap out of bed and jump into those new jeans before I get there!"


"Be ready when I get there!  So commence to leaping and jumping!"


She was still in her robe and gown when I got there.  "What jeans?"  "I have new jeans?"

While she was tediously putting on said jeans she looked up at me and grinned.  "Guess what time I woke up on Monday?!"

She usually sleeps until 11:00ish.  "Hmmm.  Let me think...  Noon?!"

"Nope!  I slept until 4:30!"  We're talking PM people.  She was actually bragging.

My jaw dropped.  "Did you have fever?"  "Were you feeling poorly?"  "Were you restless during the night?"  I started studying her face for a slack jaw or half-closed eye.  She seemed just fine.

"No!  I just slept because I love to sleep."

That line in the song Silent Night is actually referring to Mimi Van Winkle.

Sleep in heavenly peace.  
Sleep in heavenly peace.  

The rest of us will stand watch over you while you Dance with the Stars and chase babies down the street in your new dress.

And so, she sleeps.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Diary of a Wimpy Woman

January 21, 2014

Dear Diary,
I can't believe that I sat through a whole movie clenching the arms of my seat pulling myself forward to allow Mr. Wiggles more leg room.  Ugh.  The stupid movie theatre at the mall has NO LEG ROOM.  

I considered moving to another seat.  Here are the considerations of a Wimpy Woman:
  1. If I look behind me to see if there are 2 seats together that also have 2 empty seats behind them, Mr. Wiggles might mistake my squinting for a dirty look.  Maybe if I smiled sweetly and open my eyes really wide while looking past him...
  2. Oh, well.  The theatre is really full, so I doubt there are any seats up there that fill the bill.
  3. Even if I find 2 seats together and we pick up all our stuff to move, Mr. Wiggles might get his feelings hurt because his wiggling caused me to get a bit carsick.  Or, he might think that he is repugnant to our sensitivities.  I can't bear the thought of making a stranger feel repugnant!
  4. Just pull forward as far as I can and try to ignore the staccato jiggles of his knees!  I can do this!  Only 1:45 left of the movie!
  5. Besides, remember that guy that got shot in the theatre for using his cell phone during the movie?!  Moving seats in a dark theatre would be way more distracting.  Extreme distraction coupled with implied repugnance is a recipe for disaster.
So, Dear Diary, I sat there with my bottom scooted towards the front of my seat and my legs spread wide with one foot dangling over each side of my seat in order to spread my weight to keep the seat from automatically leaning so far back.  This position coupled with the clenching of the armrests helped.  A bit.  Alas, Mr. Wiggles thought that I was providing him even more room in which to wiggle.  Sigh.  There I sat muscles clenched breathing slowly in and out to ward off nausea.

Why do I do it?  Why won't I speak up for myself?  

Why.  Am.  I.  Such.  A.  Wimp.

I smile through gritted teeth when a waitress asks me how my mediocre food "is tasting."  "Oh, fine," I say, "and, if it won't be too much trouble, could you refill my tea when you head back this way?  I really wanted unsweet tea, and the glass of sweet tea you first gave me was fine.  But, this time could you please grab the pitcher of unsweet tea?"  A steak has to be gushing blood from an artery for me to speak up to the waiter.  I secretly fear that offended chefs spit on food that has to be "fixed."

I leave 20% tips for bad service because I don't want to hurt the bad waiter's feelings.  The time that we had horrible service - horrible - in a restaurant in Park City, I got sweaty palms as Alan wrote a scathing note on the ticket.  He left not one penny of gratuity.  As soon as he put the pen down, I jumped out of my chair and hurried to the door.  I didn't even put on my coat until I was standing in the snow.  When Alan casually sauntered out of the restaurant, I spat out a desperate whisper, "Run! Run!"  I took off running.  He sauntered.

I have bought clothes that I didn't like because the salesgirl proclaimed them to be The Most Flattering of All the Clothes in the World.  I have then tried to figure out the exact day of the week she might have the day off or time of day that she might possibly be at lunch so that I won't see her disappointed face when I make the return.  My  #1 backup plan: tell her that my husband simply loathed the flattering clothing.  "I loved the giant brown lace top that made me look like a linebacker, but my husband...  What can you do?"  

Just the other day a dear friend told me about an unsatisfactory experience she had during a massage.  Out of the one hour service she paid for, only about 37 minutes were spent on the actual massage.  When the girl announced that the massage had ended, my friend actually looked her in the eye and said, "Are you kidding?!"  "Yes, ma'am, that's the way we do it at Massage-A-Rama (not real name of spa)."  My heroic friend then proceeded to the front desk and let the powers-that-be know how very disappointed she was with the treatment she received.  Boom!  No charge!  Oh, how I wish I could be more like Linda the Lioness!

Thank you so much for listening, Dear Diary.  Your little lock broke years ago, but that's OK because the little key kept bending in odd angles.  Seriously, it's no problem at all.  I'm a freakin' genius when it comes to sealing my secrets with duct tape.


Friday, January 17, 2014

The Wedding Cake that Gave Me a Twitch

Yesterday I ran to Hobby Lobby at 3PM.  I'm sure of the time because I said to myself as I was walking out the door, "If you hurry, you can make it back in time to watch Dr. Phil!"  So, hurry to Hobby Lobby I did.

I've been in a baking mood lately.  So once I picked up the items on my mental list, I checked my watch - 3:30 - and allowed myself a little browse on the baking aisle.  Ahhhhh.  Cookie cutters!  Fondant!  Sprinkles!  It was supposed to be a 5 minute joy break.  

I had the aisle to myself save a cute couple that was gathering up supplies right and left filling their arms with more and more.  As I neared them, I playfully chided, "You guys are gonna need a basket!"  The guy who was in his mid-20s grinned and said, "Yes!  A basket!"  He quickly stacked on a shelf all the baking paraphernalia he had been hugging to his chest and sprinted towards the front of the store.

I strolled along a few steps past the young lady, then I just couldn't resist.  "So, what kind of project are you guys working on?"  I know.  It seems nosey.  But in Hobby Lobby, that's what we women do.  Like men who meet by happenstance while forging trails through the mountains, we are curious about where our fellow Project Queens are headed.

The young lady was beautiful.  She was either Hispanic or of Indian descent.  Her skin was rich and flawless.  Her glossy, smooth hair draped down her back.  She turned towards me with a radiant smile and exclaimed, "Our wedding cake!"

I was taken aback because of the way that they were rapidly selecting items from fondant to various fondant tools.  "What about this?!"  "Yeah!  Get that!  Oh....and one of these!!!"

I was in - hook, line, and sinker.  Trying to mirror the excitement in her eyes I exclaimed, "How fun!  When's the wedding!?"

Grinning like she was on some sort of romantic adventure she said, "Tomorrow at 2:00!"

Tomorrow at 2:00.  Less than 24 hours.  My stomach tightened.  I struggled not to react in a horrified manner.  What to say...what to say...what to say...

"Well, how exciting [trans:  terrifying]!  What an adventure [trans:  trip to crazy town]!" I croaked, barely able to breathe.

"I know!  I've never made a wedding cake before!  I'm going to try covering it in fondant, and I've never done that before either!" she continued, "It's going to be 3 layers and each one will be a different flavor and the top one is going to be heart-shaped!"

I turned my head slightly away from her so that she could not see the twitch that was rocking my left eye.  Visions of Pinterest cake fails flew through my mind.

All I could say was, "Well, congratulations!  Happy caking!  (yes, I said "caking")  Happy wedding!"

Her fiance rounded the corner with the promised shopping cart.  As I started to turn at the end of the aisle I heard her exclaim, "We need to go back to Michaels!  I liked that cake topper the best!  The dress matches mine better!"

Both eyes twitching, I headed across the store to browse the ribbon aisle.  I needed time to decompress.  It was all I could do to keep from running back across the store to offer my help on their monumental project.  But, I remembered how happy and silly-in-love they looked.  And, I was glad for them.  They had it all figured out.  A wedding should be relaxed, fun, and exciting.  They had definitely checked off all 3 boxes.

I slowly made my way around the rest of Hobby Lobby browsing to my heart's content with a song rolling 'round in my head.  "I'm gettin' married tomorrow AT 2!  Ding Dong!  The bells are gonna CHIME!"  I missed Dr. Phil entirely.

Dear LORD, please get the happy couple to the church on time.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Yuletide Nemesis: The Christmas Card

As I sit here in my cyber-confessional, guilt trickles from the top of my head to the bottom of my toes.  I received, yet, I gave not.  Beautiful family photos with artistic designs landed in our mailbox day after day after day throughout the holiday season magnifying my own personal dilemma.  The bar was set so high that I crumbled under the peer pressure.

I did not send out Christmas cards this year.  
Not one.  
True story.

Let's begin in the beginning.  My Christmas card history didn't really get into full and faithful swing until little boys began to spring up in our household.  Oh, their precious faces and silly antics!  Oh, so many cute quips and quotes!  The words of our Christmas letters flew from my fingers to the page in an 8 pt font into single spaced lines with 1/2 inch margins all around.  Tales of forts and "klubs" and skateboards and Suburban-flipping (new driver...) poured from my heart.  Those Christmas letters marked the genesis of blogging for me.  They date back to the '90's and most of the early ones were handwritten and covertly Xeroxed at the my husband's bank-o'-the-day.

Exhibit A
Exhibit B
(My All-Time Favorite)
Life was so simple then.  I bought 1/2 price matching sweaters at Gap in January.  Then come fall, it was simply a matter of picking the location for the "shoot," slicking back hair, and wiping peanut butter off of chins.  A big thanks to Alan for standing behind me acting like he was either pulling dollar bills (the bribery money) out of my ears or just about to give me a big sloppy wet willie while I shot the picture.

Last year, we sent out a recreation of the above picture.  The boys were pretty pumped about restaging their poses but put a big ix-nay on wearing matching red shirts.

Unless I miss my guess, Alan was probably behind me acting
like he was pulling ten dollar bills out of my ears.
Now, the boys are grown and gone.  The times that they are all together standing in my kitchen are few and far between.  So when I began imaginating (just got home from seeing Saving Mr. Banks) our 2013 card, I scrolled through the past months of pictures in search of that one perfect - no, LUCKY - shot.  Below is the only group photo I could come up with.  Problem:  The obvious bright sun effect.  And, missing people:  Grandpa and his wife (also named Carolyn), Nana, and ME.  Also, Leonard (far right) isn't technically a family member.  He's the Meems' best friend from Raider Ranch.  It would be weird if he was in the picture without Grandpa, Carolyn, Carolyn and Nana...  It gets complicated.  You're shaking your head mumbling, "Mmm Hmmm."  You, too, have faced the same dilemma.

Turns out there was never a Plan A.

Plan B:  Comb through hundreds of pictures in search of an appropriately sized and optimally flattering picture of each boy - preferably all "head shots."  According to Tiny Prints little computer elves' "warnings," some of the pictures were lacking in the "high quality" department.  "You can certainly use that picture!" they teased, "But we can't be held responsible for how terrible it's going to look.  It's up to you."

Plan C:  Aha!  I know what I'll do!  I'll have each boy take a fun selfie of himself - a selfie that represents what each boy is "all about."  For Reed, it would probably involve watching Baylor football.  Jonathan could take a picture of himself sitting next to one of those huge recording thingys with all the knobs and buttons at Chicago Recording Company.  Bryce's could be at a fun street fair in Chicago since he's a newby to the city and still enjoys every outdoor "feeding" opportunity.

I begged.
I pleaded.
I threatened to take matters into my own hands.

Then, I declared defeat.

I don't know how you other moms do it.  I've seen your casual family group shots on facebook.  You're "Hey, Everybody Look At Me" pix are like professional portraits compared to my most vigorous efforts.  My boys simply don't have the time or patience to pose for pictures.

Just before Jonathan and Bryce flew back to Chicago the Sunday after Christmas, I finally guilted them into a come-as-you-are photo session in the sunroom.  

"Do we have to take the picture outside?  It's too cold!"
No, Goldilocks, we can stay inside where the temperature is JUST RIGHT.

"Do we have to wear something in particular?  I don't want to be in the picture if you're expecting us to wear the matching sweaters Mimi gave us for Christmas!"
No, Goldilocks, whatever you are wearing will be JUST RIGHT.

"Is this gonna take very long, 'cause we have a plane to catch!"
No, Goldilocks, I'll keep it brief so that our timing will be JUST RIGHT.

I shot exactly 3 pictures.  In the other two, the smiles seem more "forced."  Lacking a background of mountains or a beach or some significant landmark or a wedding cake or a building with peeling paint, this is not what I'd call Christmas Card Worthy but will have to suffice.

The Good News:  This year all of our bills and birthday cards will sport stamps with Jesus and the Virgin Mary on them.  The KING OF KIIIIIIINGS!  FOREVER AND EVER!


Meems had a very special visitor this weekend.  Our friend, Laura Ard, flew down from DC to spend time with her.  Laura lived next door t...