Category Archives: Story

My Son, the Grave Digger

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grave digger2My kids love their electronics. For this, I am immensely grateful! Oh yeah, you heard me right.  I thank my little parental stars for the attachment my kids have to their respective devices for one reason and one reason alone – it is the best tool known to man/woman (the parenting kind, that is)when it comes to getting  kids to do parental bidding. Nothing says get your chores/homework done like the threat of losing a device – or screams curb your teenage posturing after being separated from Clash of Clans or (gasp) texting for a few days.

Little did my kids know when they succumbed to the charms of their electronics, the slippery slope of manipulation they were setting themselves up for. Their misguided devotion has most definitely been my gain!

However, maybe, a complete ban from all electronics for say something like – not doing your homework when you are told to leaving it until the last possible moment having to stay up late into the night with Mom helping you in order to just finish adequately and then being all snarky about it to boot – is sometimes a little precarious as well.

Case in point. Recently, Pre-Teen, lost his electronic privileges for an extended amount time due to…well, I think you got the general idea above. For the first few days, he walked around the house like one of those zombies looking for fresh meat (the kind that says “I’m bored” a lot). Now don’t get me wrong, Pre-Teen loves the outdoors, when the weather is nice (which it’s not) and reasonably warm (which it hasn’t been for what feels like an eternity). However, finally out of sheer desperation – i.e. looking for something to do that did not involve my offer of household chores – outside he went. I have to say, I did not pay much attention. I suspected the basketball hoop was getting some long denied attention and there was likely some random rock throwing going on, but other than that, I did not have much concern…until Pre-Teen came blustering inside one afternoon.

Pre-Teen: “Hey Mom, do you think Dad will care if I dig a hole in the field?”

Mom: (picturing something the size of your average garden hole) “No, I don’t think so.”

And back out he went.

When it started to get dark and still he had not come back in the house, my parenty senses (you know, the Mom version of spidey senses) began to tingle and I felt compelled to go and investigate. This is what I saw:

Don't bother me, I am busy exploring a new career path.

Don’t bother me, I am busy exploring a new career path!

And as the days ensued, he began to gain eager followers, or rather, enthusiastic diggers.

His brother, Teen, got in on the action:

Finally, something they can do together without fighting!

Finally, something they can do together that does not end in somebody bleeding!

Soon, friends began to show up…fully equipped with shovels and picks for the task at hand.

Where was this gang when I needed sticks picked up?

This gang could come in handy come yard clean up time…

And every day, there seemed to be more work than one guy could handle.

Where will this madness end?

Where will the madness end?

Pre-Teen has long since earned electronic privileges back, and still the digging continues on a daily basis, rain or shine, no matter the temperature – except now, he has a pad to play music on while he works and a phone to text friends to come over during his hours of operation.

Where it will all end, I have no idea.

But, I do know these three things…

1.  The hole keeps getting bigger,

2.  I have been parenting long enough to know, sometimes it is best not to ask too many detailed questions, and…

3.  If you have something dead you need buried…I know just the guy for the job.

(But, he probably won’t come cheap)

Other adventures with Pre-Teen

A Decade of Wisdom

Never Sit On a Couch at a Nudist Colony

Puerto Rico Island Travels Part 2: The Clothing Optional Tour

The Day I Killed the Vacuum

 

Spring Break at The Devil’s Bridge

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Along the hike to The Devil's Bridge

Along the hike to The Devil’s Bridge

Around this time last year, I shared some of my favorite pictures and moments from our Spring Break trip to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Sedona, Arizona – more particularly, the highlight of The Devil’s Bridge!

However, I never really got around to telling the story of how we actually got to the Devil’s Bridge – or rather almost didn’t get there – until now!

Thanks to my fabulous writer friend Sherri Kuhn (whom I have known since the dark ages – i.e. when I still had braces) I am sharing the story over at SheKnows.com as part of a multi-writer contribution article about most memorable Spring Break vacation trips!

Find out what turning 50 (please, NOT ME – my husband) and a quest for The Devil’s Bridge have in common.

Go here to jump right to my story of how we strayed off the beaten path!

Go here to start at the beginning and read all contributing articles!

Really, it’s all good!

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

“We Got to Let Love Rule”

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Accademia Bridge

The Love Locks – Venice, Italy

I think I may have mentioned we were in Italy last November (I promise to shut up about it after this post, maybe).  But one day, walking across the Accademia Bridge in Venice, my sons and I noticed rows of padlocks lining the hand rail up and down the bridge. We were intrigued (‘cause what is cooler than a bunch of unexplained hardware on a historic landmark?) On closer inspection, we discovered the locks were inscribed with names and sentiments of love – which I found adorable, and my boys found just plain embarrassing for the poor schmucks involved.  As we began to notice these locks secured on other historic bridges around Venice, including the famous Rialto Bridge, our curiosity grew.

And thus, through deep investigation (aka google search) we were able to solve the mystery of what we found out was called The Love Locks.

So, this Valentine’s day, if you want to say I Love You Italian-style, here is how it is done.

Accademia Bridge - Venice, Italy

Accademia Bridge – Venice, Italy

1.  Choose a romantic and/or historic bridge as depicted in the 2006 novel responsible for the current craze, “I Want You” by Italian author Federico Moccia. The preferred romantic locations seem to be in Italy – Rome, Venice, and Florence – although bridges in other countries such as Ireland, Germany, France, Canada and Russia seem to qualify as well due to the locks massively appearing.  Heck, a bridge anywhere will probably do the trick.

The Love Locks

2.  Get a padlock. Go fancy by engraving it with the name/initials of you and your lover and maybe some gooey sentiments.  Or do a poor man’s version by hand writing names and message of everlasting amour on your padlock (sharpie , nail polish, whatever is handy).  Then lock the padlock onto a historic/romantic bridge and throw the padlock key into the canal or body of water while thus swearing eternal love and devotion to one another.

But pay heed to #3…

The Love Locks2

3.  Seriously, here is the most important part, so don’t zone out yet.

Once you have put your lock into place and thrown the key into the water, run like Willie Nelson from the IRS!  You see, the truth is, putting the locks on the historic bridges is, in many places illegal due to the fact that they are considered by some to be an eyesore and also damage the old stone on the famous bridges as the locks begin to rust.  Getting caught locking your love to a bridge could be accompanied by a heavy fine, and in some cases, jail time (um, you have seen Midnight Express, right?).  All in the name of love.

However, don’t despair because…

The Love Locks3

While it is true that your padlock of eternal love could end up victim to massive bolt cutters in the night by authorities cleaning up and protecting the historic bridge (making the whole eternal thing a little less everlasting), there is still hope.  In true love Italian-style, authorities have in some places near or on the preferred historic bridges begun to install fences or special bars on which to hang the locks of love legally, without damaging the bridges.

You know what they say (or, well,  Lenny Kravitz says it – which is good enough for me),

“We Got to Let Love Rule!”

Happy Valentines Day from Sweet Spot!

Other Valentines Day Posts: True Love By Way of a Kitty Dance and a Bucking Horse.

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

I Have a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

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Muffin_Top

I had a dream.  No, not one of those “lofty” dreams like Martin Luther King, Jr.  Just a dream.  Come to think of it – it was more of a nightmare.  Honestly, I  usually do not write about this type of thing on Sweet Spot.  However, the dream has haunted me ever since.

It started out simply:

There I was in my kitchen one morning,  wanting (more like needing desperately) to make coffee – a typical morning. But, try as I might, I could not find the coffee machine, anywhere.  I searched and searched.  Finally, I did find a machine for making coffee – but it was miniature, like Barbie-sized.  Anyway, it was of no consequence about the missing coffee machine because it was then I realized there were no coffee grounds to be found anywhere in the house either.

Quickly, I grabbed my kids (no dream is really a nightmare unless your kids are somehow involved) and we headed out in search of coffee.  We didn’t have to go far, for very quickly we came to a place whose countenance promised loads of coffee.  I quickly stepped up to the counter,

Me:“Coffee, please”

Her: “Sorry, no coffee”.

Me:  “What? “Well, where can I get coffee.”

Her:  “Nowhere.”

Me:  “What are you saying?

Her:  “This is the Alternate Universe.  There is no coffee in the Alternate Universe.”

Me:  “Alternate Universe?  What?  How did I get here?”

Her:  “You thought the wrong thing.”

Me:  “How do I get back?’

Her:  *shrugs*

 “Also”, Alternate Universe Girl continued, “In the Alternate Universe you don’t have to even order.  We know exactly what you want.”

No sooner had Alternate Universe Girl uttered this statement when she handed each of my kids a bag with one donut each inside and then to me she handed…

a box of a dozen muffins with NO MUFFIN TOPS.

The end.

Seriously, the Alternate Universe sucks. Don’t ever go there…

(Please, do not attempt dream analysis.  I fear the results would be futile and not a little bit scary).

Down with Fish Tyranny!

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fish4

My son got a 5.5 gallon fish tank for Christmas – something he had long wished for.  The day came to go purchase the lucky inhabitants.  My son dutifully put in colored rocks, hooked up the light, put together the filter, let it run for a few hours, and “Voila!” ready for fish!

Our trek to the pet store was actually twofold.  One, to acquire the perfect fish for his tank and two, to pick up potty training pads for puppy-size-of-a guinea-pig  my mom & dad in-law had UN-preparedly acquired (which is a story in an of itself and will likely be filed under the heading – Sounded Like a Good Idea at the Time).

Anyway, back to my fish story.

Once at the Pet Store, we confidently headed for the fish section and engaged the attendant.  However, before we could even start our fish inquiry, we were barraged with questions.

“Has your tank been running for a minimum of two days?”

“Umm, no, more like two hours.”

“Have you treated the water in the tank so the fish don’t get stressed?”

“Fish stress-out?”

“Do you have thermometer in the tank?”

“Well, no.”

“Is the water the right temperature for tropical fish?”

“Yeah, probably.  The guppies we had in the fish bowl seemed to do fine…well, two out of three anyway.” (In retrospect, I probably should have kept this last tidbit to myself).

“Do you even know how warm it needs to be for Tropical Fish?”

“Warmish?”

“Do you have a heater in the tank?”

“No.”

“Have you considered tank décor?”

(ok, she didn’t ask this but I know it was coming!)

I sensed where the inquisition was going and so did my son whose eyes were beginning to well up in disappointment.  I offered to him that we could go ahead,  get the fish and take our chances. It was at this very moment we discovered we had fallen into the net (ha, fish humor, get it?) of The Fish Nazi – for before my son could even consider my proposal, the Fish Nazi interrupted with…

“OH NO, NO FISH FOR YOU!”

“But…”

“NO, NO FISH FOR YOU!”

And that was that. We were loaded up with all the necessary items needed to acquire fish in some distant future and hustled out the door with an unceremonious don’t let the door hit you in the butt.

However, two days later, we dared show our faces again in the Pet Store Fish Republic.  But this time, we were prepared.  When we arrived, The Fish Nazi was busy terrorizing another customer so we were offered help from The Fish Nazi’s Assistant.

We were informed by The Fish Nazi’s Assistant,  for the fish tank size, my son could have 3 “beginner” fish and two shrimp cleaners – any more than that and the fish get “stressed” (Oh yeah?  Bring it on Fishies, I’ll show you stress – can you say Christmas shopping in Wal-mart???).  However, with The Fish Nazi within earshot,  we decided to acquiesce quietly.

Once chosen, we left The Fish Nazi’s Assistant on his own to collect our 3 fish & 2 shrimp into a bag – a mistake as it turned out.  For, when we returned for our bag-o-fish & shrimp, The Fish Nazi’s Assistant was having trouble looking us in the eye.

“Ummm, well, you see,  I was just told (duh, by The Fish Nazi!) that you can’t have the shrimp until you have had fish in your tank for a minimum of 2 to 4 weeks.” 

In other words,

NO SHRIMP FOR YOU!

So for now, my son’s tank has 3 fish and no shrimp as we await the day our tank will be worthy.

The fish, however, seem happy and completely without stress (boy that Valium works wonders).

I, on the other hand… well let’s just say I fear the fish tank experience may also end up under the heading – Sounded Like a Good Idea at the Time.

Aaaand….

That is where my story was supposed to end.  But, before I could stop being a slacker and finish it, I found myself a few days later back in the Pet Store returning items (a little over zealous on the tank décor).

I couldn’t help it.  I had to take a chance.  I stealthily crept through the aisles and peeked around the corner at the wall of fish tanks. There, happily scooping up fish for any and all, was your average (but knowledgeable) Pet Store employee without The Fish Nazi or The Fish Nazi’s Assistant anywhere in sight.

So, I explained to the average (but knowledgeable) employee, I wanted for my son’s new  5.5 gallon tank, a cleaner fish or shrimp.  She unceremoniously offered me the very fish my son had previously been denied – something about it being an “intermediate” fish and he  but a lowly “beginner”.  She, however, did not seem concerned.

“I’ll take it”, I said as I quickly looked around for any blindsided sneak attack. (i.e The Fish Nazi jumping out from behind the fish food). Home I went, cleaner fish happily in hand (or, well you know, in the bag).

And with this heavy blow to the  reign of The Fish Nazi and let’s just face it, to all Fish Tyranny in general,

My fish story is finally all told out.

Resolutions for 2013 – Sweet Spot Style

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Yes, it is that time again – Resolution time.  Truthfully, I hold with the Non-Resolution style of ringing in the New Year.  That being said, there is always something of value to be learned from history – ones own adventures and, well, misadventures.

Thus this year, I decided to scour the Sweet Spot Archives of 2012 in search of some well earned Resolutions for 2013.
I think I found some pretty powerful nuggets of advice for the New Year…

1.  I will be sure to check my pants zipper (Life, the Ego-Sucking Siege) before entering any and all public establishments.

2. I will struggle on in my war against electronics (I Am Woman – Ode to Chris the Caveman) in the never ending battle for influence over my kids’ brain.

3.  I will try to have a kindler, gentler approach to my vacuum (The Day I Killed the Vacuum) and well, for that matter all machines in general (Woman vs. Machine).

4.  I will try to take Teens advice to drink water and recycle – preferably at the same time – (Teen Talk: Episode #3) and, of course, Pre-Teens advice to Never Sit on a Couch at a Nudest Colony.

5.  I swear never to utter the chant “Party at home plate” at my kids’ baseball games (Take Us To Warp Speed, Scotty), or do any of those other things that would qualify me for “bulldog” status as a  Sports Mom (Bulldogs Don’t Wear Lipstick).

6.  I promise, for Teen and Pre-Teen’s sake, to work in the words “Balls”  (Word-Up: We’ve Got Big Balls) and “Weenus” (Word-Up: Show Me Your Weenus) into every conversation where possible but not necessarily appropriate.

7.  In true Mid-West fashion, I promise to generously give the “no problem” wave, the “thanks for not honking at me even though I deserve it” wave, and possibly throw in the “I’m cool” head wave.  (You Deserve the Wave Today).

8.  I will seek out adventure every chance I get (Sweet Spot Travels), even the scary kind (Today’s Best Moment Thursday April 5.)

9.  I will try to make someones day as often as possible  simply by donning a pen and piece of rainbow stationary. (Go Ahead, Make My Day).

10.  I will be sure to have plenty of stockings/pantyhose and pet hair removal devices on hand for whatever occasion may arise. (Bag Lady Goes a Job Hunting).

11.  I will try to never, ever forget how good it feels to laugh (Destroy This Note After Reading).

And lastly, two lessons –  clearly resolution worthy – from some recent experiences:

I will try to not take as a personal commentary the worker-monogrammed cups received at Starbucks:

Starbucks cup

And, I will remember to pee prior to attending a D-Box movie.

Happy New Year from Looking for the Sweet Spot.

Go get ’em!

Pay Attention in School, You May Win the Lottery Someday

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winning the lottery

Powerball-mania!!  Do you or your kids have it?  Well then, I suggest you share with your kids a cautionary tale I wrote about on ParentSociety!

Do your kids complain about school? At times, do they just not want to go, do the work, be bothered with it, get out of bed in the morning, pay attention, apply, learn, concentrate, etc.? I mean, what kid doesn’t have those days (or weeks, months, or even years)?

But, every once in a while, a real life story comes along that plays right into the little parental hands. I love these moments. And even though my kids probably secretly hate them, this particular cautionary tale about why they should always pay attention and stay in school was pretty hard to deny!

OK, so here is the  story…

What?  You didn’t think I would put it here.  No, you will have to go to ParentSociety.com to get the whole story.  It is a good one, I promise!

Go here

A Tricky Way to Get Your Kids to Pay Attention in School.

Bag Lady Goes a Job Hunting

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I have been job hunting. And when I say “job hunting”, I mean random-resume-submissions-online-from-which-no-result-occurs.  However, finally, I received a phone call requesting my presence at an interview…with, like, people and stuff.

The fact that I had not been on an actual job interview in a ‘coons age (Country-slang for a long, long, loooong time) should have paralyzed me with fear, but I confess it did not.

On the day of the interview, I selected my clothing carefully – dress, nylons, heels, the whole works – and packed them into my car to be changed into after I ran to the hair salon to have my emerging grey hairs vanquished.  Possibly, this detour was the beginning of my folly. But, I tend to think it was my venue of choice for changing into my interview attire – Home Depot.

Yep, you read that right.  Apparently, a stop at Home Depot for husband was unavoidable.  But, hey, the Women’s bathroom at Home Depot is big and virtually unused. However, the moment I left the bathroom in full interview attire, my trouble began.  You see, as soon as I started tromping through the Home Depot aisles towards the exit in my high heels, I began to feel a slippage.

Ok, hold on, allow me to explain.  I hate panty hose as in; I detest the feel of the ‘panty part’ under clothes.  Therefore, I have long opted for the stocking scenario – the kind that has an elastic/rubbery band to hold them in place on your thigh.  However, not having occasion to wear stockings much, it had been a while since the last wearing of this pair.

So again, there I was marching confidently to the front of the store heading to my interview when I began to feel slippage of one of the stockings.  Quickly, I ducked behind a display of sockets to inspect the problem.  When I looked down, I found to my dismay the band of the offending stocking was bouncing, exposed around my knee!  I quickly pulled it back up and in my haste ripped a run down the entire length.

My first thought was, surely I had but failed to pull the one stocking up enough the first time. So, I can just hide the run in the back and take care to never turn around in the interviewer’s presence – it won’t look that weird when I back out of the door to leave, right?

But, I did not even it make to my car in the parking lot before the stocking band was slipping down again, now making it to my ankle.  And although the guy who tried to solicit “gas money” from me in the parking lot did not seem at all alarmed by my wardrobe malfunction, I was completely horrified.

I jumped into my car and started driving to my interview.  I began to worry.  What if the stocking starts slipping while I am trying to think of answers to the interviewer’s questions?

“What is your strategy for handling a problem?” (You mean, like, your stockings falling down in Home Depot?).

“What do you consider your strong points?”(Um, surviving this interview with droopy stockings?).

“Where do you see yourself in the future?” (Well, in the next 5 minutes, I see myself walking out of here looking like a Bag Lady with stockings puddling around my ankles).

And that was it, full-on panic took hold.

My mind began to race.  If only I would pass a drugstore on my way to the interview.  I could have just enough time to run in, grab a pair of dreaded pantyhose (not a stocking type place), change in the car and make my interview on time.  If only…

And then, like chocolate from heaven – there it was!!  A Walgreens Drugstore right off the highway – a bit of a back track from my exit, but still possible in my time frame!  I was saved!  I sped to the Walgreens, whipped into the parking lot, searched for the entrance.  It was only then I discovered it was a Walgreens Infusion and Respiratory Center.  Yeah, I have no idea what the heck that is – all I know is, they do NOT sell pantyhose…I checked.

At this point, I knew I was sunk. Going “nylon commando” was not an option as I had neglected shaving … and tanning. So, I reluctantly drove on with the top band of my stocking now getting stuck on the gas pedal when suddenly, within a block of my interview, where no self-respecting store should be, stood- like my very own “beacon of hope” – a Dollar Store.  You know, where they have dollar knick knacks, dollar pet toys, dollar toothpaste and apparently, dollar pantyhose…two pair in a pack.

A speedy superhero-like change in my car, an unavoidable flash to a guy walking by my car window (you’re welcome) and I was on my way again.

And thus, I made it to my interview on time, answered questions brilliantly, with pantyhose securely in place, completely professional and positively no Bag Lady overtones whatsoever.

Or so I thought.

For, it wasn’t until after the interview, driving home in my car, I noticed the white cat fur confidently clinging to various parts my dark colored, interview appropriate dress.

Next time, perhaps I will get dressed at home.

Or, just bring a shopping cart to the interview.

For an update go here – Bag Lady Gets a Job

Nightmare on Doddridge Street

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Ok, I confess, this is a post I wrote for Halloween last year during the first month of my SweetSpot days.  But I am thinking all ten of the followers I had at the time won’t mind the re-blog…hopefully!

Happy Halloween

Monday seemed like a normal day. Little did I know something was lurking, lying in wait for me. It started out like any other day; kids off to school, coffee hot, dog fed (thus, her own personal nightmare assuaged).  I turned on my computer, ready to work, blog, socialize, check Facebook.  And that is when the horror began as I was greeted by the words – NO INTERNET ACCESS. I took a deep breath, no need to panic, it’s probably nothing, I thought.  After all, my dog appeared unconcerned and you know how animals can “sense” things.

Very calmly, I began to work my magic…or rather, I began to work tech-guy-on-speed-dial’s magic.  But still, ACCESS DENIED.  Then tech-guy-on-speed-dial offhandedly suggested, “what about your home phone line?” (You see, us here folks out on Doddridge, a.k.a. the boonies, rely on phone lines for our DSL mojo).  I ran for my cordless phone like a chick trying to outrun a chainsaw and as in any good bad horror flick, the line was dead.

However, unlike next-to-die-screaming-teen, I still had cell phone service.

So, to the phone company I went for rescue. Harassed-phone-company-lady informed me that “they” (guys-with-huge-hacking-scissors?) had cut the lines and “no”, the DSL line would not be reconnected anytime soon because first the phone line must be repaired in order to restore 911.  But I stammered that this was a 911 – No internet, no access to the World Wide Web, NO FACEBOOK!!

Harassed-phone-company-lady, unmoved by my hysteria, hung up, leaving me once again to face the horror alone. So there I was, waiting, staring, pacing, looking out for strange-guy-in-hockey-mask; when suddenly, out of nowhere, a thought struck me.  Something my Dad used to always tell me;

“Don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers.”

I grabbed my car keys, I grabbed my dog, (because clearly, judging by her worried look, the canine sixth sense had kicked in), and we started driving – away from the dreadfulness and in search of flowers.

We didn’t find any flowers, because, well, it’s October, but we did find a pretty spectacular fall tree to hang out under.

We didn’t worry about work, we didn’t long to socialize, we didn’t angst over missed Facebook posts,

And nobody denied us access.

Life, the Ego-Sucking Siege

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having a bad day?

Have you ever noticed how life can sometimes be a constant barrage, sucking away your ego and self-esteem bit by bit?  Yeah?  Well, I have been having one of those days weeks months (as proof I submit to you The Day I Killed the Vacuum and Why I Can Never Be a Big-Boobed Hoochie Mama).  But today, well today was like the cream of humiliation rising to the proverbial top.

Today, I had to go to my sons’ school – Teen and Pre-Teen.  Not what you might think, I was just dropping something off to Teen.  I stopped in the office to talk to the secretary, school nurse and principal.  I walked through the school, waving and saying hello to students and teachers I know.  I went into the middle school cafeteria, located Teen at his table, having lunch with all his middle-school teen friends and gave him the item I had brought for him.  I stopped to say “Hi” to Pre-Teen as he entered the lunch room with his classmates.  Lastly, I had a quick impromptu meeting with a teacher and then left the school, waving to more teachers and students as I exited the building.

Once back in the car, I headed straight to the grocery store.  Upon arrival at the store, I leaned over to pick my grocery bags and for the first time noticed that the zipper, on my ever-so-snug skinny jeans, was wide open, X- Y- Z.

Yep, that’s right, I had just cruised all over Teen-dom with my barn door flapping in the breeze. (I just know tonight I am going to have one of those naked-walking-around-school dreams.)

(sigh)

And then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, I marched straight into the grocery store and for some bizarre reason, bought a plant.  You know, a plant – innocent, helpless and with no idea of the horror that await it under my care. Knowing my track record with all things green (The Accidental Farmer), this venture will surely end badly for all involved – especially the plant.

And so,

The siege rages on…

Why I Can Never Be a Big-Boobed Hoochie Mama

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hoochie mama

I have recently been in the unenviable position of seeking employment. Honestly, in this economy it’s a bit of a futile trek uphill.  It doesn’t help that in my job life I have jumped all over the map. However, at this phase in my life I can pretty much rule out a few occupations:

A Vampire – I mean, Bella makes it look pretty cool but seriously, how great could it be having to drink animal blood for an eternity?

A Doctor – apparently you need some kind of special license for that job or something.

And after my experience last week, A Big-Boobed Hoochie Mama is now permanently off the list (and I am just sick over the lost tips wages).

How could such an admirable career goal be dashed with one experience?  Well, let me explain.

Last week, I had an appointment with the dermatologist to have a little, itty bitty, teeny tiny cyst removed – a cyst that was trying hard to mind its own business but made the doctor nervous nonetheless.  Apparently, the whole idea of someone coming near me with a knife freaks me out (Thank you Nightmare on Elm Street) because the closer to the appointment it got the more nervous I became – to the point where I could not sleep the night before and was a bundle of jittery goop by the time I arrived at the office on “the day.”  However, the Doctor assured me once the numbing agents were in place, I wouldn’t feel a thing and it would be no big deal. Low and behold, he was right – that numbing stuff is the bomb!  So I settled down and prepared for an easy experience feeling proud of my Spartan Woman level of bravery.

But then I began to hear something– snip, snip, snip, snip.

Doc:  “I know you can hear the ‘snipping’ but don’t let your imagination run away with you.”

Um, too late.

It was pretty much a quick toboggan ride downhill from there.

Me: “Doc, you should know, I feel kinda sick at the moment.”

That statement was instantly followed by cold sweats, light headedness, the urge to hurl, and the involuntary desire to pass out – which I would have done had I not already been lying down with my feet now so very attractively hiked up in the air and the AC cranked down to Arctic proportions. Right then and there I knew I had pretty much blown my whole “I am woman hear me roar” status so I tried to concentrate on preserving what dignity I had left. And then finally, after an eternity, the ordeal was over.  Ok, it only took, like, 10 minutes, but it felt as if I had watched Dr. Zhivago…twice.

Later, as I lay on the recovery table of shame, the Doctor came in the room to check on me.

Doc:  “How do you feel?”

Me:  “Fine” (I lied, no sense in enhancing  my newly acquired wimp status).

Doc:  “Hey, look at the bright side…”

What, there is a bright side?  I’m not as big a wimp as it seems?  I won’t be trying to live down my behavior for the rest of our doctor/patient relationship?  I really am the Spartan Woman I momentarily believed myself to be??

Doc:  “…At least you didn’t puke on my shoes.”

Yeah, ok, I guess I will take what I can get.

But, clearly, the boob job required for me to ever acquire the rack needed for Big-Boobed Hoochie Mama employment is unequivocally off the table.

There goes that “special skill.”

Today I go back to the Doctor get my stitches out.  I hope Doc chooses his shoes accordingly.

The Day I Killed the Vacuum

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I hate vacuums.  I can’t even express how much I dislike all vacuums. Vacuums have been a plague on my life (no drama at my house).    No matter how many vacuums I purchase, or how much money I pay for them, it is always the same story.  They don’t pick up what they should, like dirt and animal hair. But oh yes, they love to pick up what they shouldn’t, like the carpet corners and their own chords.   And speaking of the chord, is it my fault that my vacuum chord always ends up a mass of black electrical tape to fix the places where the vacuum has continually sucked up its own appendage and stripped it clean?  Shouldn’t a self-respecting vacuum be more discerning?  Eventually, my vacuums always end up spitting more dust than they pick up. And don’t even get me started on the new and improved “bagless” vacuum. Because changing a bag every once in a while was so much more inconvenient than having to manually dump the disgusting contents from the canister into the trash (as dust flies everywhere) on a regular basis!

Anyway, on the day in question, my current vacuum/bane-of-my-existence clearly crossed the line.  Now, it is only fair to point out this was not my first indiscretion where machines are concerned.  There was the time with the smoke alarm (Woman vs. Machine).  However, trust me, this time the machine really had it coming.

Last week, I was up to my neck in a heinous vacuum job involving the eradication of a summer’s worth of dead and live, scurrying spiders. It was near the end of the job when the vacuum chose to jump (ok, it might have fallen) off the step it was perched on, thus dislodging the nearly full “bagless vacuum” canister and spilling contents all over the floor.  In that instant, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt the vacuum’s time had come.  And, ok, I will admit it…I was a tad peeved, and maybe a little pms, and possibly temporarily off my rocker.

Whatever the case,  the annihilation began as I kicked the offending machine…several times.  Lacking the desired results, I then proceeded to take the vacuum apart piece by piece and throw each piece violently out the back door onto the concrete driveway.  I swear I heard the sweet sound of cracking plastic and dislodging mechanisms.  The attack was only complete when the main vacuum unit was sent skittering across the driveway to its final resting place, lodged partially under a parked car.

Around this time, my sons, hearing the ensuing brawl, came to investigate.

Teen: “Uh, Mom, what are you doing?”

Me:  “Killing the vacuum.”

Preteen:  “Need any help with that?”

Me: “No thanks, I think I’ve got it covered.”

Then, I shed tears – not for the vacuum now lying scattered all over the driveway like the Scarecrow after the Flying Monkeys had their fun – but for the dusty, bug infested mess left in its wake that had to now be manually cleaned up and just out of good old frustration.  And that my friends, was the end of the vacuum, or so I thought.

For you see, sometime later that day, I looked outside to see Preteen collecting up all the scattered vacuum parts. And when next I looked out the window, there sat my vacuum on the back porch fully reassembled (and I am completely sure it was snickering at me).

I left it sitting on the back porch hoping it was reflecting on its bad behavior and fairly certain of its demise as a result of the onslaught.  However, the time came when pet hair in the house began to clump and blow in front of me like tumbleweeds in the Nevada desert.  Dreading the thought of facing yet another new vacuum purchase, to the porch I went to drag the vacuum back in the house, hoping it could, albeit inadequately, still to do its job.

That afternoon, when Preteen came home from school…

Me:  “By the way, I tried using the vacuum today and, guess what? It worked!”

Preteen:  “Really?  That is amazing!”

Me: “No Preteen, actually, you are amazing.”

Preteen smiled and then we both laughed.

As parents, it is our job to pick up our kids when they are down and put things back together for them.

But sometimes, it works the other way, too.

Leaving My Heart (and “the Cheeseman”) in Hamburg, Germany

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In the middle of a whirlwind tour of the UK, we flew to Hamburg, Germany (boy are our arms tired, ha) to visit friends. For the duration of our stay in Hamburg, we didn’t stay in hotels, tour many historic sites, or contribute to the tourist traps.  Instead, we squeezed into our German friends’ lives – ate homemade meals with them, played on the Elbe River together, shopped, talked, laughed and learned more about each other.  The best kind of travel – Travel with the heart.

On my final night in Hamburg, it became glaringly apparent, I must return to Hamburg – to be with my friends again, to  partake of the wonderful Northern German gastro delights of fresh fish, cheeses, meats and breads, and to play in the Elbe River once more.  But there is also an infinitely more dire reason I must make a reappearance in Hamburg. I must return to see “the cheeseman”.  You see, upon the eve of my departure I learned that “the cheeseman”  is Brad Pitt – David Beckham – Channing Tatum – Ryan Lochte all rolled into one glorious package selling, what else but cheese, at the local market.  Unfortunately, I did not learn this little nugget of hunk-alert (yes, I have a husband, but who doesn’t enjoy a good view every now and again) information until our farewell dinner where, upon learning that I had in fact been to the local market that very day, it was quickly discovered I had failed to purchase any cheese or even approach the cheese stand. The women in attendance began to exclaim…

“Ah, you have been to the market, did you see “the cheeseman”?

“What? I can’t believe you did not see “the cheeseman!”

“Oh, “the cheeseman”.

“He is so beautiful; “the cheeseman” should give up his life of cheese and be in movies”

“I order my cheese very slowly just so I can stay longer staring at “the cheeseman”.

“ ‘The cheeseman’s’ Dad isn’t so hard to look at either!”

So you see, clearly, my Hamburg experience is not yet complete! I will have to return, very soon, before “the cheeseman” runs off to Hollywood.

Some favorite pictures:

Playing Viking Chess on the banks of the Elbe River…to an audience.

Seeing off the Queen Mary 2 as it leaves the Hamburg Harbor.

100 year old underground tunnel, crossing underneath the Elbe River.

Playing and swimming on the Elbe River as massive ships cruise by on their way out to sea.

Making discoveries.

Time to sail on, for now.

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

6 Reasons to Reconsider Being Man’s Best Friend

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Two years ago my son was granted permission to buy a dart board because, well, truthfully the reason completely alludes me now (more proof of too many brain cells destroyed prior to or as a result of motherhood).

No sooner had the dart board been placed on the wall when an argument commenced between my two boys bringing to mind a long ago fight between my then teen brothers involving the last frozen pizza and proof that a pizza cutter can stick in a wall when thrown with conviction.  But I digress.  Back to my boys, I arrived on the scene to find them  with smoke coming out of their ears (descriptively speaking, of course), darts clenched in hands and a shattered window with a suspiciously small hole the size of um, a dart.

Well, turning darts into weapons of mass destruction definitely called for an all-out ban on all dart board usage for an indeterminate amount of time.

However, finally the amount of time (2 years as it turned out) was determined when I arrived home to find the dart board placed on the wall (far from any windows this time) and darts actually being thrown at the dart board and not each other (shocking!).

Which brings me (finally, I know) to the point of my story.  You see, my boys and I commenced in a rousing game of round robin darts.  It very quickly came to my attention that our border collie had chosen a particular spot from which to observe the action.  No matter how hard we tried to get her to move, she would not be budged.

Why is this a problem, you ask?  I can offer not 1, not 2, but 6 excellent reasons my dog should reconsider:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you see, our proficiency in darts is, in a word, lacking.  So either our dog is devoid of all common sense and intelligence or is truly Man’s Best Friend with an unflagging amount of faith in us.  Honestly, I am torn.  My dog is an excellent watch dog and can take down a UPS man with the best of them, but she also eats cat poop.

In closing, allow me to add that our cat chose a spot just around the corner where she was positively safe from stray dart harm but still had an eagle eye view of dog…just in case?

Maybe, just maybe, the whole Man’s Best Friend gig just isn’t what it’s cracked up to be…but don’t tell my dog.

Ready, Set, Shop!

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Yesterday was epic.  Bigger than man walking on the moon, the first black president or even, yes,  the joining of chocolate and peanut butter.  Yesterday, my teenage son and I went shopping.  Mind you, not grocery shopping, or all-the-junk-I-don’t-need  Walmart shopping, but to the mall…clothes shopping…for him! Yeah, that just happened.

You see, both my boys hate to shop for clothes.  In fact, I would probably have better luck getting them to paint their nails pink and do a CanCan on the Vegas Strip.  (oh, that is unless there is a video game demo anywhere within a reachable radius).  This being the case, I normally opt for the, purchase what looks to be the right size-bring home for them to try on- return for size that fits, method (I know, I am more saintly than suspected!).

I made the mistake years ago telling my kids the story of how my older brothers would always steer Mom away from any and all clothing displays saying “don’t even look, Mom.”  Consequently, it has become routine whenever we ‘accidentally’ (hey, a girl can try) venture close to any women’s’ accoutrement each boy grabs me by an elbow and hustles me on like a criminal being escorted out of the store, repeating the mantra “don’t even look, Mom, just don’t even look.”

However, the current clothing situation for my growing teen had become dire.  It seemed like all of a sudden, virtually everything he turned up wearing looked like he had wrestled it from some poor, unsuspecting short person. I mean, boys don’t wear ‘daisy dukes’, right?  And with our current drought situation, those ‘floods’ were of no use to him whatsoever.  Therefore, one brave morning, I broached the subject with trepidation:

“I was thinking, maybe you and I should go shopping to get for you some clothes that actually fit?”

(Look of incredulity, like I just suggested we shave the cat or something)

“I promise I will make it quick”

(grunt)

“We will only go to a few places.”

(groan)

“I will only make you try on stuff when absolutely necessary.”

(eye roll)

“I will run you by the army surplus store when we are done?”

(ding ding ding, we had a winner!)

So yesterday, off we went.  I made good on all my promises and at the end of the day we arrived home with a bag full of clothes that actually fit him and, one army issue backpack & canteen.

For me, it was a great day.  I got to utter terms like “v-neck tee”, “contrast stitching” and “skinny or straight leg jean?” and experience on a small scale the Mom/kid shopping outings so long denied.

For him, well, he found a way to make it work.  I believe his exact words at the moment just prior to this photo being taken were

“Hey, like this, shopping isn’t so bad after all!”

Like I said, an epic day…

4 Reasons Parents Should Get A Life

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Yes, folks, it is that time again!  The time of the week when I drop a few words over at my home away from home – aka: ParentSociety.com.  Today I am talking about why all parents – yes, myself included – should Get a Life!

It starts out something like this:

Becoming a first-time mom late in life means two things:  First, my grandkids will have a super cool walker to climb on and second, I had an activity-filled life before my kids ever came along. For me, this included many aspects of theater and performing. However, I always knew when I became parent, I wanted to give my kids full and undivided attention. So when the kiddos came along, I put those extracurricular activities on hold.

But, then things changed and no, I did not “run off to join a geriatric production of “CATS”…or worse.  As usual, you will just have to go HERE to get the rest of the story and of course the 4 “pearls of wisdom” as to why as parents, we should all Get a Life!

4 Reasons All Parents Should Get a Life!

After Years of Searching for Justice

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On ParentSociety.com, I have an article running today.  It is not my usual ” humor infused” (attempts at humor anyway) type of  Sweet Spot story. However, I wanted to share it here nonetheless.   It starts out like this:

Yesterday, I read the news, much like I always do in the morning before sending my kids off to school. I enjoy reading up on a variety of subjects: health, stupid Hollywood pet tricks (a.k.a. celebrity news), consumer reports, world news, etc. Most of the time, once my kids are off to school, I begin my work and go on with my day. Sometimes, I even relay interesting information to my husband. But yesterday, I read an article that haunted me throughout my day and into the next.

Go here to find out why we should all pay attention to Fakhra Younus’s story.

Some stories must be remembered. Thank you for reading.

Little Orphan Annie Wears Dittos Jeans

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From left: Lori Kickliter, Kristen Sauter, Jennifer Cihi, Michele DeCuir, Paula Benedetti (Danner), Molly Ringwald.

Today I am hanging out at one of my favorite places to guest post,  DenimDebutante.com.

I love random.  Today, I am writing about the musical Annie and Dittos Jeans.  It may not be as random as you think (then again…).  I guess you will just have to go here and find out. And yes, that is me in the  picture (Annie/National II) above…a “few” years ago.

True Love By Way of a Kitty Dance and a Bucking Horse

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Over the years I have been encouraged to tell the serendipitous story of how my husband, Jim, and I found each other. Valentine’s Day seemed like a good time.  Honestly, I tried to keep it short, but it just isn’t that kind of tale.

I was 23, touring as a performer in the National IV tour of CATS.  He was 25, working at his family owned hotel in New Orleans, LA –  which is where the story begins.  The tour stopped in New Orleans for  2 weeks of performances and some of us ‘Kitty’s’ were thrilled to find and stay at his quaint, historic hotel.  Our first meeting occurred over a broken stove. I called the front desk to have someone come repair the stove in my room (this was when cooking actually seemed fun) and he showed up at my door. Over that hot and steamy repair job (kidding!) the attraction was immediate. We spent those 2 weeks together, getting to know each other.

After those two weeks, though, on I went with the tour to the next city.

Over the next several months we stayed in contact by letters (you know the handwritten thing that goes on paper).  We kept in touch while I finished the tour and went back to Los Angeles to continue my performance career and he cruised around South America starting an export business (the legal type – Alpaca sweaters) and around the US on the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) circuit as a Bull and Bronc rider (all true, I swear).

Finally, an agreement was made; he would come to LA to visit me.  However, not long after his arrival in LA, I informed him “I do not see this relationship going anywhere”.  In truth, I do not recall saying it in just this way (as he relayed to me some time later), but my Mom ratted me out by saying it sounded “exactly like something I used to say in those days”. (There went her Christmas present that year!).

Anyway, off he went, back to New Orleans. That was the last time we spoke.

7 years went by (yep, 7 years!).

In that time he continued with his export business, riding the Pro-rodeo PRCA circuit, and attending to the hotel.  I kicked around LA doing commercials & videos, singing in bands, marketing music artists, and doing what all aspiring performers do in LA –bartend, waitress and do odd jobs.

But, the pertinent part is, during that time, I had the pleasure occasion to kiss a lot of frogs. Cute some may have been, but none of which turned into a handsome prince (although, a few morphed into evil wizards with bad complexions).

Then, it happened.  One day, on the heels of the crown jewels of bad relationships, I was teaching Line Dancing at the trendy Denim & Diamonds Country Music Nightclub in Santa Monica (one of those odd jobs).  I happened to look up at the TV screen with the ever running assortment of ‘all things western’ and there he was; on the screen, in all his Pro-rodeo glory, riding a bucking horse (well, getting bucked off a bucking horse if you must know), in a PRCA rodeo in Texas. Thus began the obsessive thought process that would plague me for days on end:  “He was a really good guy”…”What was I thinking back then (as in, what an idiot I was)”…”man, I really blew that”…”I wonder what he is doing now…married???”

I spent days thinking and thinking about it; until I could not take the cosmic hammering anymore and decided to take action.

At the time, I was performing in a trio that was preparing to open up for Carlene Carter.  As the group was addressing promotional postcards with our picture on it (this is what one did before “social networking”), I addressed one to him at his hotel in New Orleans, which consequently his family still owned, with a small note (and, duh, my phone number) included. (oh, home-wrecker I’m not – one call to chatty desk clerk at hotel confirmed bachelorhood).

Since our final parting 7 years prior had been, ummm, not the best in his memory, he was prepared to possibly discard the greeting.  That is until his English friend (I knew I liked that bloke), in his never beat around the bush way, pointed out that due to the “positive physical attributes” displayed in the picture, perhaps at least a return phone call was in order (praise be the wisdom of guy-logic).

He did call.  Then he called again, many times.  And then we arranged to get together. Gullible Forgiving guy that he is, he, again, came out to see me in LA.  This time, I did not send him home with some stupid edict, but rather with the promise of a reciprocal visit to New Orleans and more.

And despite the fact that I bristled ever so slightly at the statement made by him some months later that if “anyone had ever told me I had already met the girl I was going to marry, I would never have thought of you” and he, annoyed by the fact that I had to slobber all over a bunch of frogs before finally getting it right…

We married a 1 ½ years later.

Well, 7 years and 1 ½ years later.

This year we will celebrate our 16th anniversary. I am thinking all those frogs and bucking livestock were well worth the trouble – which only goes to show that it is a good thing, life is what happens while you are busy making plans!

As author Saul Bellow so eloquently put it:  

“Unexpected intrusions of Beauty.  That’s what life is.”

Happy Valentines Day