H.I. Ate Us– Or, What I’ve Been up to for the Past Eight Months

H.I. Ate Us?  No he didn’t!

Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging; at least that’s what I’m blaming my eight month, unplanned hiatus on.  It couldn’t be laziness or my incredibly short attention span that’s kept me away from sharing my life on WordPress for the past three-quarters of a year.  Since a picture is worth a thousand words, making a mere word is just worth a word, I thought I’d combine the two to let you know what I’ve been up to.

 

 

 

November:  I went through quite a little art phase that began in November and is still going on.  I collage. I paint. I shop at Michael’s.  I make art, not great art, but I think that people at Michael’s probably think I’m Picasso as much as I’m in there!

Look out, Target! Here comes the smooth art stylings of Sprinkles!

December:  In December, my husband made one of my wildest dreams come true!  It involved a bus, the hubs and another man who I hope to one day make my second brother-husband.  Minds out of gutters, dear readers!  My husband took me to Manhattan to see Hugh Jackman on Broadway.  Our seats were close enough for me to see the sweat on his well-chiseled brow.  The whole trip was one of the best times I’ve ever had.

Hooray! There’s the Broadhurst! I’m coming for you, Hugh!

Right before going in. Oh how I wish I’d had the balls to sneak a forbidden photo, or two, inside the theatre, but I know I’m the type who would get caught!

*January:  I couldn’t recount the past eight months without recalling my favorite trashy TV premiers.  VH-1’s Mob Wives premiered in January.  Now repeat after me in your very best Botox inhibited and cigarette induced New Jersey accent:  “You ain’t lived until you’ve seen and heard Big Ang!”  Really, readers, you haven’t!

Courtesy of VH1's Mob Wives

Oh, Gawd, look at her posing! She’s a jewel!

*February:  TV goodness continues with the premier of National Geographic’s Doomsday Preppers.  If this show doesn’t help you get ready for December 2012, nothing will.

Courtesy of National Geographic Channel

Thanks for helping me prepare, dudes! They’ll always be a spot for you in the Sprinkles’ bomb shelter! 🙂

March: I got my first, and only, tattoo.  My oldest daughter designed it and got the exact same one on her bicep.  My youngest daughter wants to eventually get it.  She’s still a little bit unsure about the pain aspect of being tattooed.  The three birds on the branch represent my lovely daughters and me, and the bird above them represents my mother watching over us.  March was the 28 year anniversary of her death.

My healing tattoo. How tough is that?

*April:  Celebrating my 48th birthday in April paled in comparison to the mystical wonder of the premier of TLC’s My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding.  This show is especially near and dear to my heart because much of it was filmed just 20 minutes away  from my house!!!  I’ve actually seen the following people in my local Michael’s!

Meet Nettie and her younger sister, Mellie. These girls know how to make bling bras, keep one hell of a clean house, and fight like they’ve got nothing to lose!

This fight is taking place outside of the exact same courthouse that I got married in. Too bad it wasn’t on the same day. I would have been a big help to Mellie!

May: We took our annual beach trip to Nags Head, NC.  While there we endured tropical depression Beryl, ate tons of glorious crustaceans, and my husband plucked a glass lizard out of our pool filter!  Yikes!

Behold my mighty husband holding a beautiful glass lizard! He didn’t even hesitate before picking it up! What a man!

June:  Welcome to now!  I’m chilling with the cats and blogging to you.  (Actually, I’m chilling and they’re staring at me.  It’s pretty creepy.)

Are you almost done blogging? I have needs!

Seriously, woman, I’m waiting!

(I like to imagine that my cats sound like Stewie from Family Guy.)

*I do other things besides watch TV.  No, seriously, I do!

What have all of you been up to lately?

A Spooky Mystery for You to Solve!

This is the real ghost story that I promised earlier this week. I apologize for the lack of my usual  writing flair. The three-day migraine that I’m in the midst of seems to have stripped me of all creativity!

The following creepy occurrence kept me out of our basement for pretty much the rest of my teenaged years. What do you think it might have been?

Picture via trueghosttales.com

This mist is very similar to what I saw! What could it be?

As a teenager, I had an obsessive love-hate relationship with all things otherworldly. On one hand, I adored talking about and reading tales of poltergeist, demons, and monsters; but on the other hand, they scared the living crap out of me and forced me to sleep with the lights on whilst I pathetically begged my mother, in much the style of a three year-old, to sleep with me. By the time I’d turned 15, I’d read every ghost story that my small town’s library had to offer, and I’d listened in awe to every creepy story that my friends had to tell, but despite my burning interest, I had no personal ghost stories of my own to share. With my easy spookability, I’d certainly imagined ghoulish hands reaching from beneath my bed to snatch any limb or appendage that accidentally exited my covers during the night. I’d additionally witnessed demonic profiles and ghostly pictures haunting the shadows on my walls as I’d attempted to fall asleep. However, these spooks were merely figments of my very active imagination, and it wasn’t until January 1, 1980 that I had my first, and thankfully only, supernatural experience.

I remember the exact date because it was the last day of my winter break from school, and like most 15 year-olds, I’d put off doing any homework until the last possible moment. I’d gathered my books and headed downstairs to my usual study spot, our basement rec room. I’d just spread my school stuff out on half of the ping-pong table and settled into a chair swiped from the card table when I felt a swift, icy breeze sweep across my back and neck. Adrenaline shot through me and the hair on my arms instantly rose. I scanned the room for the source. The basement was completely underground making a wind of any temperature impossible. Our house was still decorated for the holidays, and I watched in terror as the wind that touched my neck ruffled the Christmas cards arranged atop a bookshelf on the opposite wall. From the shelf my eyes were instantly drawn to the slightly swaying branches of the Christmas tree situated in the corner directly beneath my bedroom. A cold, horror filled me as a foggy mist began surrounding the tree. The mist weaved and moved through the branches, and condensed around the nativity scene arranged on the tree’s skirt. My mother had long ago painted the figures for this crèche in a ceramics class, and my father had crafted the wooden stable that housed Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. Atop the stable’s entrance was an angel. I stared in disbelief as the ethereal fog thickened around it. I tried to call out to my mother, but no words would escape my lips as I watched the tiny cherub shake and rock from side-to-side. I remained frozen, feeling an overwhelming sense of evil, as its quaking and quivering continued. Finally, the angel dropped from the nail that it had once securely held it and hit the carpeted floor. It was then that I was released from my stiffness; then that I could scream and run breathlessly up the stairs to the security of my family.

At first, my parents naturally blamed my experience on my overactive imagination and my above average desire to put off schoolwork, but I think my mom eventually began to believe my tale after several sleepless weeks of being called to my room in the middle of the night. My friends thought my encounter was awesome and all had their theories about what I had seen. Was it a ghost? A demon? What do you think?

Have you ever had a ghostly encounter? Tell me about it.

What in the World is Going on in the World?

via 123rf

I have a pathetic confession, I have absolutely no idea what the latest, serious news stories are. This is usually not like me. I used to teach school and I know the importance of keeping up with current events. My normal “first thing in the morning” routine is to drink coffee (lots of coffee), read the news on my computer while I watch it on television; perfect multimedia multitasking. The truth is, from around the time the last Harry Potter was released, I haven’t paid one iota of attention to serious news. I’m not blaming this on Harry. Lord knows, the poor guy has had enough on his plate, with defeating “You-know-who” and restoring the wizarding world to normalcy, to shoulder any of my burdens. It is solely my doing, or the doing of my mid-life crisis, that has caused me to delve into the world of escapism. So, for the fun of it, I’ll share with you the few things that I’ve discovered during my six week hiatus from reality.

First off, I know exactly what’s happening on True Blood, and may I share that I wasn’t thrilled with episodes eight, nine, or ten. C’mon, Alan Ball, can’t you at least pretend to have read the

He's the man! (Photo via Wikipedia)

books? Next, I’ll confess that I wish I would have started watching Boardwalk Empire last season. I’ve watched the first seven episodes online and it is AMAZING!! You go Steve Buscemi! I’ve also been delving into documentaries more often than usual. I watched Supersize Me for the third time. I developed an appreciation for street art after my youngest recommended Exit through the Gift Shop and I surprised myself by enjoying Beyond the Mat, a film about the lives of several professional wrestlers.

It’s not just the high quality entertainment that premium channels have to offer that’s been making me forget stuff like who our president is or whether we’re allies with Libya, it’s the less costly, trashier channels that have been keeping me occupied, as well. Have I watched a women reenacting giving birth in a toilet, because she didn’t know she was pregnant? Yes. Have I observed housewives from New Jersey forgetting to follow the golden rule? You know it. Have I tuned in to Joey Greco showing hidden camera footage to woman who is ready to kick her cheating boyfriend’s ass? Yep. Do I know whether or not Eden Wood won the “Rumble in the Jungle” beauty pageant? That would also be a yes. Do I feel guilty for watching any of these low quality programs? Oddly, I don’t.

Picture via Amazon

Before you judge me too harshly, I also read. Like a champ, I read all of the blogs that I subscribe to almost every, single day. I’m also reading several books at once. My bedtime book is The Sea of Monsters; book two of the Percy Jackson series. My living room forwhentheTVgetsboring book is currently Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks, and my bathroom book is David Haviland’s Why You Should Store Your Farts in a Jar & Other Oddball or Gross Maladies, Afflictions, Remedies, and “Cures” (and, no, I didn’t make that up). I’ll admit, none of these are on the classics list, but if their subjects were too heady I wouldn’t be escaping.

As superiorly pleasurable as escapism is, I feel that it may be time to return to the world of the living. So, now I’m left wondering about the happenings of the world while I was “out-to-lunch.” Should I be learning Russian? Has the Zombie Apocalypse occurred? Have scientists discovered a cure for chronic flatulence? Only time, and a few Google searches, will tell.

How do you “escape,” dear readers?

Yes, I Love Techonology!

via Photobucket/susano75

Ten years ago at 12:15 p.m., my husband and stood in front of a towering judge, along with my daughters, my ex-in-laws, and two of our best friends. The ceremony was short and sweet, and at its end, we were bound for life, just as we knew we would be from the day we met. While friends, family, and coworkers rejoiced in our happiness, very few of them knew the real story of how we came to be standing in front of that Frankensteinianly tall judge and saying our vows.

Years ago, I was a skinny blond school teacher; a not so gay divorcee, raising two kids on my own. Though I had my work and my beautiful daughters to keep me occupied, my inward lack of gaiety was a definite problem. I was lonely. When I’d first divorced I’d promised myself that I wouldn’t date anyone for at least a year, and even then, I would confine my dating to the weekends that my daughters were visiting their father. The last thing I wanted to be was one of those women who introduced their daughters to an endless string of men. I had taught children whose mothers acquainted them with a “new daddy” every few months and I certainly feared for their future.

In my college days, before I met my first husband, I’d dated a fair variety of gentlemen, so I assumed that once I put myself back out on the market that dating would be effortless. Oh, I was wrong, so very, very wrong! If I were to blog about my post-divorce dates, you would see titles like, “Don’t Call Me Sunshine,” “If you Touch me with your Foot Again, I’ll Kill You” “Wrangler Jeans and Flannel Shirts in August,” and the classic “Oh, you Live with your Mother.” In spite of well-meaning friends, with scores of dudes to fix me up with, I just wasn’t finding Mr. Right, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. My dating plan was oddly intermingled with a lay-away plan at my local Wal-Mart. It was simple; I’d buy computer in six easy payments, secretly post a personal ad, and in a few short months, or sooner, I’d be dating the man of my dreams.

After my debt was paid, and I’d figured out which cord went where, I began to compose my ad. I brain stormed by making a list of attributes that I hoped for in a mate. He needed to be kind, responsible, sober, and willing to accept the fact that my children were a huge part of the package. He had to be intelligent, financially secure, and cool with the fact that I’m an adult who still likes to make prank phone calls. When I finished I had a list of 54 requirements that my future husband needed to possess. A girl has to be picky, but to assure you that I’m not shallow; there was nothing on the list referring to appearance and nothing that I that I required of Mr. Right that I couldn’t bring to the table myself.

I spent an entire Saturday munching on baby carrots, cooped up in my stuffy apartment trying to turn my list into the most brilliant personal ad ever written. Finally, after hitting the delete button fifty bazillion times, I settled on something like this:

SWF, 35, seeks responsible, kind, intelligent guy to date, to eventually love, to potentially marry, and to possibly make prank phone calls with.

The problem with personal ads is that lots of people aren’t reasonably good at self-assessment. There are guys who’ve had restraining orders placed against them who consider themselves kind. There are guys that are chronically without jobs who consider themselves responsible and there are dopey dudes who think they’re Einstein. There are also lots of crazy guys out there! So, once the fruits of my labor began showing up in my inbox, I had to do some serious analyzing to make sure I wasn’t about to hook up with Hannibal Lector. I immediately deleted any email that came from a father of four plus children. I’m no Carol Brady. Then I axed anyone who couldn’t write in complete sentences. Sadly, this got rid of quite a few. If an email had anything remotely perverse such as a reference to fetishes, or a vibe that there might be a girl chained up in the basement, it was a goner. After my careful scrutiny, I was left with an inbox containing three potential choices. I replied to all and one guy answered back. He was a civil engineer eight years my senior and Guardrail1234, was his screen name. For a few weeks Guardrail and I wrote back and forth. His letters were always witty and fun. After we’d learned all that we could about one another online, he asked to meet me. Amazingly, although I’d received emails from men who lived hundreds of miles away, Guardrail lived only eleven miles from my apartment. After asking for his social security number to have him checked out (not kidding, girls have to be careful), and after telling two of my closest friends exactly where I’d be (really, you can’t be too safe). I met Guardrail1234 at a Chinese restaurant downtown. As silly as it sounds coming from a non-romantic girl like me, it was love at first sight. He was, and still is, the beautiful human form of everything on my 54 item list, and then some.

A burning question among family and co-workers was, “How did you meet?” This was 12 years ago, before the answer, “Oh, we met online,” was acceptable. I didn’t want everyone to know for a fact that I’m as flakey quirky as they imagine I am. So, my über conservative grandmother was told that we were introduced by friends. My co-workers were told that we met through one of my relatives, but anyone who really knows and cares about me is aware of the real way that we really met.

The one I met him on was a little older than this one!

I’m dying to know!! How did you meet your partner?

Mr. Sprinkles: What a Funny Guy!

Image by ulayumbgota via photobucket

 Throughout the years, I’ve teased my darling husband just a wee bit for his lack of comedic style, but today, after a telemarketer called for the second time, I had to generously extend him some comic credit. Now, I’m never one to be rude to a telemarketer, but I have been known to mess with one, if they won’t take no for an answer. After all, this is the modern age of malls and online shopping. If I want something, I can usually find it myself without the assistance of a telemarketer. A few minutes ago, I picked up a call that went something like this:

Call #1:

Me: Hello?

Telemarketer: (of nondescript nationality, phoning from a very noisy call center) Hello, I am prepared to offer you international calls for only $4.99 per month.

Me: No, thank you. I don’t usually make international calls. Please put me on your “do not call” list.

TM: (Very passionately) We have no list madam, but we have $4.99 a month international calling!

Me: No, thank you. Goodby…

TM: But madam! I have a proposition. I give it to you for free for one month.

(At this point, I am unable to resist such an offer.  After all, a comment like that is similar to an opportunity to say “That’s what she said!”)

Me: You’re going to give it to me for free for a month?

TM: Yes, free.

Me: So, are you any good at it?

TM: The phone service madam. It is good.

Me: I didn’t think we were talking phone service anymore. I thought we were talking sex.

TM: I am married man!

ME: Then why are you propositioning me?

TM: (Yelling) It’s $4.99 now a month for you, madam!

ME: Sorry, but you generously offered to give it to me free for a month. I won’t pay for it. I never pay for it.

TM: (Exclaiming in total exasperation) You pay $4.99!!

ME: Are you crying?

TM: (I swear he said this!) I never cry! I am a man!

(At this point my husband in his best little boy voice says, “Help me, mommy! I’ve stepped in poop. Hurry mommy! I’m sinking in a big pile of stinking poo!)

ME: I’ve gotta go. My boy just stepped in crap.

TM: But $4.99, Madam! You must say yes!

 I decided the poor guy was about to blow a gasket, so I chose to stop the madness and hung up. Two seconds later, the phone rings again. This time my husband picks up.

Call #2:

Mr. Sprinkles: Hello?

Telemarketer: Are you the man in the house?

Mr.S: Yes, I am.

TM: Your wife. She has hung up on me and I will sue!

Mr. S: You can’t; we’ve already started the proceedings to sue you.

TM: You cannot sue me! Your wife will not accept my offer of $4.99 a month international long distance!

Mr. S: (Sternly) Put us on the “do not call” list.

TM: There is no list!

Mr. S: Don’t call us again, or I’ll put a curse on you! (By this time my youngest daughter has entered the room to listen!)

TM: There will be no curse!

Mr. S: Ha La La Ba Un Da Gaaaaaa! You will burn like fire!

TM: Noooo! $4.99 a…

Mr. S: Ba La La Un Da Ga Haaaaa! You feel that? That’s what a curse feels like!

TM: But…

Mr. S: Bun Da La Ha Da La Baaaaa! You’re cursed now, buddy!

TM: Ok, I end call. (click!)

This is when we all explode with laughter. My husband, the sweet, nerdy, engineer and voodoo priest! Who knew?!

***The poor guy must be a glutton for punishment, because a few minutes later there was a third call that I answered.  I won’t go into great detail, but in my best hillbilly accent, I accused the unfortunate fellow of causing my home to be invaded by ghosts, told him that I never made international calls because “them international people is why we lost the Civil War,” and that “I can’t afford $4.99 a month because it’ll cut into my beer money!”   He’s promised never to dial our number again!

That’s the Power of Processed Cheese, Baby!

Yum! Creamy, dreamy queso goodness!

I live near one of those draft house cinemas; the wonderful kind that keeps the beer or wine flowing while you eat delicious treats and enjoy your movie. I’d been thinking a lot about my approaching viewing of the last Harry Potter movie, and thinking about Harry made me think of the draft house theater, which in turn caused me to think of my very favorite snack served there; queso and chips. Soon, my thoughts turned to cravings, and yesterday I was forced to begin my quest to find the components that made up the queso of my dreams. Luckily, my quest was short lived and went something like this:

Me: (to my friend Michelle) Hey, what do you think is in the draft house’s queso?

Michelle: I’m pretty sure it’s just Rotel and Velveeta…Oh! And those sliced pickled jalapenos.

Me: That sounds too simple.

Michelle: I’m pretty sure that’s it. Trust me.

Since Michelle had no reason to give me a bogus queso recipe, I made my way to the store to look for the three magic ingredients.

The can of Rotel and the glass jar of jalapenos had no effect on me as I placed them in my basket and made my way to the cheese aisle. It didn’t take long for me to find the familiar yellow rectangle with its accustomed red font screaming “Velveeta” on each

Processed never tasted so good!

side and boasting a $5.99 price for 32 ounces of pseudo cheesy goodness. I realized as I placed it in my cart that my last visitation with this product had been sometime in the late 1970s or early ‘80s.

Velveeta was the processed cheese product of my childhood. I have fond lunchtime memories of creamy tomato soup accompanied by toasty grilled cheese sandwiches filled with melty Velveeta. As my seven, ten, or fifteen year-old self dunked a triangle of sandwich into my soup, I never once considered Velveeta’s composition. It could have been crafted of yellow Play-Doh and dog hair and I would have eaten it because it tasted so darned good.

Once I made entrance into the exciting worlds of adulthood and motherhood, I began to actually consider what I was putting into the bodies of myself and my little minions. Words like preservatives, additives or processed had no place in our pantry or fridge, and my love affair with Velveeta fell by the wayside—until last night when I dipped my first tortilla chip into its creamy goodness. It was then I realized how much I’d missed seeing its quadrilateral form in the door of my refrigerator. And when my youngest daughter asked me what was in the dip, I couldn’t resist introducing her to the remaining quivering block of cheese product residing in its classic foil wrapper. Her taste testing led to a discussion of bubbling mac and cheese and burgers fresh from the grill with gooey cheese product dripping down their sides. It brought back memories of backyard “picnics” by my plastic kiddie pool and packed lunches with thick slices of Velveeta on whole wheat with mustard. Soon my daughter and I were making plans for a lunch of grilled cheese and tomato soup.

I’ve heard our sense of smell evokes our strongest memories, but I have to believe that taste runs a strong second. The foods of our childhood are time machines, linking us to the warm comforting memories of our past. Though its label may feature words that I’ve tried to eliminate from our food vocabulary, Velveeta’s ability to catapult me to simpler times may just make it a permanent fixture on my refrigerator shelf.

What are some foods of your childhood that take you back in time?

Darling daughter delves into delightful dip!

Classic Rotel and Velveeta Queso Dip

1- 10 oz. can of Rotel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies (do not drain)

1- 16 oz. package of Velveeta cut into 1 inch cubes

Heat together on a medium setting, stirring constantly, until creamy

Garnish with pickled jalapenos and enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips!

A Tale of Two Bunnies

Bunnies One and Two! Can you guess which one is "real?"

Don’t ask me to read Margery WilliamsVelveteen Rabbit in a clear voice. I can more than guarantee you that before I reach the end of the opening sentence, there will be a catch in my voice accompanied by the inevitable welling of tears in my eyes. Stuffed rabbits, or bunnies as we like to say at my house, hold a dear place in my heart. This is a tale of two such bunnies. The first is old and worn, and frankly hardly recognizable as a 1988 Fischer-Price Puffalump Special Edition. The second has yet to complete his mission.

Bunny Number One was an Easter gift to my four month old daughter, Kalah. I clearly remember purchasing him on the Thursday before that holiday, my payday. Money was tight and I wavered between buying her one gift, a lavender bunny nearly half her size, or several small rattles and a chunky board book. Perhaps it was his soft brown eyes, or the “magic” that still resides in his egg that called to me, but I ignored my usual philosophy that more is more and I chose the rabbit. Right from the start Kalah latched on to him. From four months of age through toddlerhood

A thumb and a bunny; a winning combination!

she could be found with the thumb of her right hand planted steadfastly in her mouth and the fingers of her left hand firmly clutched to Bunny.

As Kalah’s perpetual pal, Bunny experienced life with her and regularly bequeathed his vast wisdom as they navigating the world. He was an expert on sharing, on taking turns, and on table manners. He always picked up after himself, said excuse me when he burped, and, like all good rabbits, ate his vegetables. Bunny, like Kalah, loved to play. He built block towers and put together puzzles. He soared to the moon on the swings and climbed Mount Everest on the monkey bars. He was a lover of nature and was always the first to sniff a flower or spy a toad. He liked to travel and soaked up knowledge as Kalah did when we visited the library, the zoo, or the Smithsonian museums. Perhaps one of his best attributes was his expertise in all things associated with bedtime. It could be counted on that Bunny always became incredibly sleepy exactly thirty minutes before lights-out time. He would insist on telling stories that more than often detailed adventures that he’d had long before he’d been chosen to be Kalah’s constant companion. Often these tales featured times when he’d slept all by himself without waking up Mother Bunny before 8 a.m.

Bunny was darned near perfect friend, yet he had two clear downfalls; he had very poor hygiene and a propensity to get lost. Because prying him out of my daughter’s clutching paws was often a trick, Bunny only got washed about once a month. Kalah would lovingly place him in a pillowcase, watch me knot the top, and then stand by the washer as it whirred through its gentlest cycle

Look past the dirt and see the love!

until Bunny was once again sanitary for human use. She held vigil at the dryer, as well. Clean or not, Bunny was a wily critter who would often seek his own path. The phrase, “Where’s Bunny?” accompanied by a frantic glance from my tiny daughter would strike fear in my heart. Many is the time I  combed through a toy box, searched through cabinets, and dived into dumpsters in search of Bunny gone rogue. And somehow, no matter how bizarre his journey, he always found his way back home.

Though Kalah gave up the thumb, and the constant need to carry her rabbit to every destination, Bunny was still there for her. He saw her through becoming a big sister and through our divorce. He waited patiently for her on her first day of school. He’s slept with her through every peaceful, fevered, or sleepless night. He’s been sneezed on, confided in and has soaked up tears. There is no doubt that he has long been “real” according to Velveteen Rabbit standards.

Bunny turned 23 this past March, which has to be something like 161 in rabbit years. He no longer tags along on my daughter’s every mission. He mostly spends his days in an honored sunny spot on Kalah’s bed, often with a purring kitty nestled near him. On the chance that he’s feeling spry he fills the role of sagacious Jedi Master to his young Padawan, Bunny Number Two; a recent EBay find. There is not much to tell about my daughter’s second Bunny. He’s spent most of his time in a plastic container atop her closet. Although he’s 23 years old, he looks as good as new. He’s never been clutched, or loved, or sneezed on. He’s never helped to build block towers, or been the keeper of great secrets. For now, he’s a stuffed rabbit in a box, lacking wisdom, and hoping for the day that a little boy or girl will love him and make him real.

You have much to learn, young Padawan.

Did you or your child have a special stuffed animal?  Tell me about it!

Kicking it; Bucket List Style

A goal met long ago. It's me as an extra in a PBS movie. I'm not sure who the dude in the chair is, but he looks very in character! (Photo by my mom!)

I’ve been thinking of a “Bucket List.” No! I’m not becoming morbid, but I will be turning 50 in 2.5 years and it seems to me that I’ve gotten a bit too complacent. My life has become a series of status quo induced, bland, events and I’m in need of some spice. So, late last night, with my trusty husband by my side, I began composing a list of 50 things that I’d like to do before I hit the half century mark. Here’s how far I got:

1. Pay for the drive thru meal of the person behind me.

2. Publish something

3. Plant a vegetable garden (or at least a tomato plant)

4. Sew something

5. Take a writing class

6. Write a letter to someone who’s made a difference in my life

7. Reconnect with an old friend

8. Learn how to bake bread

9. See a Broadway Play

10. Find a snail mail pen pal

11. Visit Montreal

12. Go to a gay bar

13. Go 1 week without the internet

14. Refinish an old piece of furniture from a thrift store

15. Do impromptu stand-up comedy in a town far, far from home

16. Go to the Spy museum in DC

17. Write and host a murder mystery party

18. Watch a movie of my husband’s choosing and write a blog post review of it.

19. Add ten new words to Urban Dictionary.

20.

I pathetically couldn’t even make it to number 20 before I ran out of ideas and had to consult my trusty friend, the internet, for suggestions. After a quick Googling, I found tons of other people’s lists of things they wanted to do before they turned 50. The only problem was that most of these lists contained unrealistic goals for their set time frame. One dude, who happened to be 49, wanted to visit all seven continents, write a book, find a wife, and become a first time father. Unless this guy is rich enough to afford all of those travel expenses, writes a book while on his intercontinental flights, marries the first girl he meets on Match.com, has supersonic sperm and impregnates her on their first date and she gives birth to their child prematurely, it ain’t gonna happen! I found other lists that contained horrendous things that I’d never want to do, like spend a month alone in a jungle (ewww snakes!), win a spicy wing eating contest, (IBS anyone?) or go a month without bathing (why?).

With the net not being much of a help, I roused my dozing husband for advice. By this time it was well after midnight and I was in my usual state of punchiness. “How about adding watch the sun set from the upper deck of a cruise ship?” he suggested drowsily. I turned to give him my full attention, jiggling the sofa to further wake him. “Or, I could add, do an upper decker in the bathroom of a cruise ship,” I said with a giggle. He smiled sleepily. “You could take a trip on Route 66,” he offered in an attempt to keep the conversation sane. I moved in for a snuggle. “I could also write 666 on my forehead and take a trip to a Pentecostal church,” I said laughing even harder. He kissed my forehead with pity. “What about photographing all of the homes in our county that are on the National Historical Registry and posting the pictures on your blog,” hubby even more seriously suggested. I tickled him. “What if I photograph all of the homes of the people in our county that are on the Sex Offender’s Registry, and I post them at Wal-Mart?” I added. At this point my husband hauled me off to bed, deeming me too silly to write even a grocery list.

This morning, I awoke still pondering my list of goals to reach before turning 50. I thought of a few more items and I’m creating a new page for them on my blog. The fact is my “bucket list,” or whatever you want to call it, needs to be uniquely mine. As much as I would love to find answers via the internet or through suggestions from my hubby or blogging buddies, I know that I need to create list of activities that are realistic and distinctive to my personality and lifestyle. So, dear readers, stay tuned for my list. Also, out of curiosity, I must ask, what are some goals you’ve created for yourself? Do you have a timeline?

Mad, mad props must be given to the adorable Thoughtsy at Thoughts Appear. She has a great list of 35 things to do before she turns 35. She gave me full permission to modify and use her idea, and for that I am very grateful! Thanks Thoughtsy!

Tom Asks Great Questions!

What is the one thing that you did as a kid that you wish it was still okay for you to do now, at your current age?…

This is a great question posed by my buddy, Tom Baker over at The Morning Erection, and since I’m up way past my bedtime, cranked full of caffeine, I’m all for the challenge of answering it! My first mental response was flagrant nose picking. Then I remembered my time spent in charm school where Mrs. Miles, my Uber-polite teacher, reminded me time and time again that nose mining is not an activity befitting of a lady. Now, after a few pleasant moments of revisiting the simple pleasures of childhood, I realize that there is nothing that I did way back then that would be forbidden for me to do now.

In my youth, I loved the outdoors. The majority of my free time was spent biking, swimming, and playing games of make-believe in the woods behind my house. These things are all still feasible. I have a perfectly lovely 10-speed in my shed, and while I may not have the same stamina, the same carefree schedule, or the same quick access to a pool and wooded area that I had in my childhood, a quick drive to a nearby park could easily fix that. I have no doubt that I could out bike and out swim any porky little kid who normally spends most of his or her time on a sofa, in a supine position, playing video games and eating endless sleeves of Chips Ahoy for dinner. And, when it comes to imaginary play, I’d have all of those little suckers beat! Look out park patrons, Sprinkles is playing Army just like she used to when she was ten! I might look a bit silly in the woods stalking my husband with a toy rifle in the same way that I would have hunted my brother years ago. I might even get questioned by the park police, but I’m sure, after a short explanation of how I’m revisiting my youth, I wouldn’t be banned from the park, taken to a psychiatric facility for observation, or placed on a terrorist suspect list, at all.

So, there you have it! My answer is a big old nothing. There is nothing I can’t do now that I did way back then (except touch my brain with my index finger via my nostril). No matter how old I live to be, my inner-child is always ready to pop to the surface for an appearance. What about you, dear readers? What activity calls to you from your youth?

Forest Fires, Phantoms, and Fender Benders, Oh, My!

Our rental by the sea!

Yesterday was our final day in beautiful Nag’s Head, North Carolina. All day Saturday, as I basked in the sun and ate a mermaid’s share of seafood, you could hear me whimpering, “I don’t wanna go home.” This phrase was accompanied by my saddest of pouty faces. Apparently, my occasional grumblings angered the vacation gods, because our Sunday was thick with woe, and this ever-so-long account proves it. Sit back; grab a beverage or a snack, and read my wretched tale. I find reading it with a pirate’s voice during some parts greatly enhances the story.

Our troubles started with a wind shift. Sometime, after midnight the winds began a SSW journey causing the smoke from an ongoing forest fire in Pain’s Bay to drift our way. At first it was tolerable, but sometime around 3:00 a.m. the entire third floor of the house, where hubby and I were sleeping, became hazy with the acrid smell. Never one to let anything disturb our slumber, the spouse and I drowsily descended the stairs to the second level where we crashed in the unoccupied children’s room. I had just settled into a top bunk, (for the first time since 4H camp 30 years ago), and was about to begin my second journey to Slumber land when I was jolted awake by an ear-splitting composition. “Who would be listening to Cradle of Filth at 4:00 a.m.?” I asked my sleeping husband. He snored in response. He was out cold, leaving me forced to investigate the unwelcomed cacophony alone. The small window in our room yielded only murky darkness and no partying college students, so I moved into the open hallway. The music sounded like it was coming from the first floor game room. The doors to our kids’ rooms were closed and the space beneath them was dark. Knowing that they all like their sleep WAY too much to be up at four in the morning listening to music, a creepy feeling swept over me as I slowly descended the stairs to the first level. Any sane person sleuthing down the steps might expect to catch rogue teenagers, who had jumped our fence and jimmied the door, playing pool or foosball and drinking the last of our beer, but in my smoke induced, sleep deprived brain, I fully expected to be faced with the ghosts of pirates or worse. “I’m coming down there!” I yelled with a shaky voice. “Leave while you can. I’ve got a gun,” I added. I quickly reminded myself that ghosts would not fear my imaginary gun. “I’ve got holy water, and I know spells, too,” I said hoping that a line from Harry Potter would be enough to ward away the evil that awaited me. I descended the last step that placed me in the dark game room. There, in the corner I met my foe. A monster was hissing, roaring and glaring at me with its large, green, glowing eye! Alright, it wasn’t exactly a monster, it was the stereo, and its green, lighted display proved it was on. Only slightly relieved, I pulled the plug, not wanting to fumble for the off button, but the music DIDN’T STOP! In a dark, dark basement, an unplugged stereo that refuses to silence its music can mean only one thing; GHOSTS!! This is when I full-on lost it and screamed bloody murder. Actually, I screamed “Help!” which is not always the best thing to scream in a houseful of sleeping people. Terrified, my groggy family rushed to my aid. My oldest daughter found the off button. My youngest showed me where the battery back-up was, and my eldest’s boyfriend said he must have accidentally turned on the alarm feature when he was figuring out how to turn on the stereo early Saturday evening.

I was pretty sure this dude was waiting for me! (photo via: http://hercxena.wikia.com/wiki/File:Green-eyed_monster_close_up.jpg)

After a hearty laugh at my foolishness and a few reassuring hugs, I ascended the stairs for my third attempt at sleep, but the sandman would not find me. The smoke was intolerable and we decided to abandon our home by the sea a few hours early. Covering our mouths and noses we carried the rest of our belongings to our car and drove caravan style to the realtor’s office to drop off the keys. This is when the vacation gods decided to get one last lick in. As we pulled out of the realtor’s parking lot, my youngest daughter’s boyfriend somehow managed to rear end my oldest daughter’s car. Thankfully, the hit wasn’t hard enough for her airbag to deploy, but it was hard enough for my daughter’s neck to feel jerked out of whack. A quick (and, yes, I really do mean quick—props to Outer Banks Hospital’s emergency department) trip to the emergency room revealed a slightly sprained neck, but no serious damage. After many rest stops, some complaining and a wrong turn or two, we arrived home around 8:00 last night no worse for the wear.

Today when I look back on our “wretched” Sunday, I have to smile, because despite the smoke, the “spirits,” the fender bender and the lack of sleep, it really wasn’t the worst possible day that a family could share together. Perhaps the vacation gods were gently reminding me to not spend the last day of a nearly perfect vacation complaining!