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?

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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?

Day 17: 31 Days of Blogging Honesty

 

 

 

 

Day # 17 Question: Given the choice between giving up sex for the rest of my life or giving up kissing, I would choose…

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Remember in the movie Pretty Woman when Julia Robert’s character, Vivian, told Richard Gere’s character, Edward, that she had a strict “no kissing” rule? In so many words, she told him that it was too personal, yet by the end of the film she threw her “no smooching” regulation out the window and played some serious tonsil hockey with old Eddie. As viewers of the flick, we knew that this was the point that Vivian had fallen in love with Edward. It was the moment when rules no longer mattered and she was willing to engage in an act that she believed to be far more intimate than sex.

At first, I was going to impulsively say that I would give up kissing, because who really wants to give up what most consider being the ultimate act of intimacy, sex? But then, my husband’s simple goodbye kiss this morning made me rethink my answer. A kiss can mean so many things that sex cannot. It can be the first greeting given or the last touch when you say goodbye. Remember when you were “sweet 16 (now days perhaps sweet 14 or 15) and had never been kissed?” Recall the awkward anticipation of lips against yours and the secret thrill of meeting a milestone when at last you engaged in your perfectly imperfect first one? A bride and groom kiss when they are pronounced husband and wife. Loved ones kiss the forehead of a friend or relative who had passed away, in a final goodbye. We kiss mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, friends, and even our pets. Sex could never replace all of the beautiful things that a kiss means, and if we tried to replace a kiss with sex, well, that would just be awkward!

Day 16: 31 Days of Blogging Honesty

 

 

 

 

Day # 16 Question: If I were given just one day to relive I would most definitely choose…

Bridal magazines are too expensive!

Lately, one of my favorite Friday night activities is watching wedding shows on TLC. Shows like  Say Yes to the Dress and Four Weddings give me a small glimpse into the lives of other women on one of their most special days. While I enjoy living vicariously through these brides as they plan their lavish weddings, I think that my own very simple wedding was perfect and it is the day that I would most like to relive.

If TLC were to make a show about my wedding it might have a title like Say No to Spending Money or Four Guests. My wedding was C-H-E-A-P, and that’s just the way my dear husband and I wanted it to be! Shortly after my husband asked me to marry him, we decided to add an addition to his existing home so that each of my daughters could have their own bedroom and my husband and I could enjoy extra closet space and a bathroom of our own. This was an expensive undertaking, so we decided that the best place to cut costs would be in the wedding department. After all, a wedding is one day, and a marriage is a lifetime.

Being a thrifty girl, I’m actually quite proud of the details of our big day. I wore a lovely, form-fitting, white, beaded dress purchase from a consignment shop for $25 and my husband wore a black suit that he already owned. My bouquet was a simple mix of flowers from our garden (free) and our venue was the county courthouse (free) with the justice of the peace officiating (so free that you’re not even allowed to tip the guy!). I splurged a bit on my daughters and took them to choose dresses and shoes from the mall. They both agreed on lavender, and all totaled with shoes and hair accessories I spent about $100. We had four guests; my ex-in-laws, whom I’ve remained good friends with, and two of my best friends who served as best man and maid of honor. Our rule for them was no gifts and no buying anything special to wear for that day. After the ceremony, we all went to lunch at a fancy restaurant with a bill of about $300. I guess we could have made things less expensive if we had all gone through a drive thru, but I thought that just seemed tacky!

The very best moment of our wedding day was when we’d said goodbye to our friends and loved ones and just the two of us were in our car heading to Rehoboth for our honeymoon. We were slightly tired from the excitement of the day and our fingers intertwined on the console as we quietly looked to the road ahead. I was thrilled, not just to be going on my first real vacation without my kids, but thrilled at all of the possibilities that our new life together would hold. So far, I haven’t been disappointed.

What Comes Next

I’ve been busy having my midlife crisis. The times a certainly are a changin’ at my house. My oldest daughter, to whom I have been attached cord, breast, and always heart, is graduating from our state’s university in less than a month. In July, she’ll move five hours away to attend medical school. My purely sweet youngest daughter, who needed me so much when she was ill, is now a thriving university student who is making her natural break from home and talking marriage with her long-time boyfriend. While I’m sad that the hands-on mothering stage of my life is coming to a close, I’m not complaining. In fact, I’m in complete awe of both of them, and in total wonderment of the natural progression of something that I didn’t experience. They are easing gently into adulthood without skipping any steps.

My entrance into adulthood felt abrupt. Its evolution seemed to move from my mother being sick, to my mother dying, to my father selling our family home and moving in with his girlfriend. The fact that I was a junior in college without a place to go home to on weekends, holidays and summers didn’t faze my father who was of the old school mindset of “18 and out.” While my life certainly wasn’t as difficult as the lives of some, I found myself thrust into adulthood with an incomplete copy of life’s survival manual.

Now as my daughters grow past the age when I became motherless, I marvel at what comes next. I experience with them, and through them, what my mother and I didn’t. I will see them walk across stages to get diplomas and possibly down aisles to get married. I will be privy to their life plans, listen to their worries, and guide them in solving their problems. They will never wonder where they will spend a holiday, or feel a mournful longing when a coworker speaks of “going back home” for the weekend.

As I write this I am sad, sad for my mother who so wanted me, and sad for the girl I was when I lost her. Yet, in my gloom I feel the distinct joy than one can only feel when they have been given a gift most though-out and meaningful. It is the gift of watching my daughters reach adulthood whole and prepared. The gift of watching the apron strings between us gently thin from love and wear, and dangle as ties between mother and child eventually must. It is the gift of watching them stand on the precipice of adulthood confident that their first steps won’t be into a swirling abyss of the unknown. But mostly, it’s the gift of knowing that if a page is missing from their life’s survival manual, they have the skills to rewrite it, and if they are unsure of the correct words, I’m just a phone call away.

Memories of my Grandmother

 I got up early Sunday morning to spend the day with my grandmother who is in a nursing home.  It was her 95th birthday and I’ve always thought it wonderful that she celebrates growing another year older on the first day of spring.  When I was a little girl, Grandmother was never the huggy, snuggly cookie baking kind of grandma that you see on the Hallmark Channel.  In a time period where most grandmothers had spent their life taking care of only a family and home, my grandmother had been a shrewd businesswoman.   In addition to owning a slew of rental properties on the beach in Florida, she and my grandfather owned a bustling motel in a busy tourist town.  Back then the housekeeping staff was given Sunday as their day off and my mom, dad, and baby brother would help my grandparents clean the rooms as the guests checked out. Although I was only five when I first began helping, I was allowed to help dry the tubs and sinks, after my mom or dad scrubbed them.  I was also given the honor of placing a miniature bar of Ivory Soap in the soap dish on the sink and in the bathtub.  At five, nothing seemed more perfect to me than those tiny, deliciously clean smelling soap bars.  I would put my whole face in the cardboard box that held them and breathe in their sanitary goodness.  Each week I would beg Grandmother to let me take one home to put in my bathroom.  My mother would always intervene and tell me no. I thought I must have been the only kid in the world who broke out in a rash when they washed with Ivory Soap.  My reward for helping would usually be a glass bottle of orange soda from the motel’s Coke machine.  My granddad would let me put the fifteen cents in.  I would open the frosty glass door and grip the cold neck of the bottle, anxious for the metal clasps to release it.  Then I popped it open using the bottle opener on the side of the machine.  My mother didn’t really like me drinking soda.  I was one of those unfortunates raised on a very strict diet.   Luckily, mom bent her rule once a week as long as I promised to sit down while drinking it.  According to her, walking around with a glass soda bottle was dangerous. If I fell with a pop bottle in my mouth it could knock my teeth out, cut my lips beyond recognition, and possibly render me blind from the shards of glass that were sure to bounce from the pavement into my eyes.  I was a rule follower, so I sat on the wooden bench on the sidewalk outside of the lobby swinging my short legs and drinking every drop of my payment while I imagined how hard my life would be if I suffered a soda bottle injury.

 After the cleaning was finished we would stay for Sunday evening dinner.  Grandmother was an amazing cook, and she would always have the main dish simmering as we cleaned rooms so it would be easy to get dinner finished up when we were done.   I loved her roast beef the best.  She would cook it onions, celery and peppers,  slowly on the stove top until it was so tender you could cut it with a fork.  She’d serve it with creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, creamed corn, and coleslaw.  It was a meal so delectable that I could have eaten it every day.  During dinner the adults would talk while my brother and I listened and politely ate our food.  This was a Sunday ritual that lasted throughout my childhood until my grandfather passed away and Grandmother sold the motel and moved into a little yellow house a few miles away.  Once this happened we spent Sunday afternoons helping to weed my grandmother’s garden, or doing other chores around her house while she made dinner.

As I grew up, Grandmother and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye.  She didn’t approve of the music I listened to, nor did she like the fact that I decided to stop piano lessons to be in plays.  I was also pretty certain that she liked my brother far better than me just because he was a boy and because he stuck with his piano lessons. I once asked my very affectionate mom why Grandmother didn’t seem to like me. She assured me that Grandmother loved me very much, but that she just wasn’t very good about expressing emotions.   There were times, though that we got along just fine.  She painstakingly taught me how to cook; a skill that I took to like a fish to water.  My remaining family swears that my mashed potatoes taste exactly like hers.  When my mother, her daughter, became terminally ill and I wanted to quit college to stay home and care for her, she dropped everything and moved into our home to serve as a round-the-clock nurse.  “A woman can’t be without a college education,” she insisted.  Two years later, as staunchly religious as she was, she didn’t judge me when I confessed to being pregnant a few months before I married my first husband.  She simply helped me plan my wedding in her calm steady way.

Now that she’s 95, she doesn’t remember who I am, and when she does have a small glimpse of memory she’ll ask how my long-dead mother is doing.  I always swallow hard to suppress the ache and, say, “fine.”  I’m afraid telling her that she’s gone could be like hearing it for the first time.  Now, my grandmother is far more affectionate when I visit her.  She hugs me hard and holds my hand.  The lines on her face that were once pinched with all of the worries that running several businesses can cause, have softened.  She is childlike and happy.  In her own world, she laughs and sings to herself  When we showed her the brightly frosted birthday cake made just for her, she reached out and took a piece with her hands, gleefully devouring each bite with gusto and licking the frosting from her fingers.  It was a pure moment, without rules, just the way life should sometimes be.