If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, 1 grandson, 3 granddaughters, 3 dogs, and a whole lot of love.

Family Story Pic

Family Story Pic


Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Buck U

Let's get something clear right off the bat. I'm not qualified to commentate on the topic of football. That being said, I'm about to commentate on the topic of football.

Despite being a die-hard cheerleader, I don't sit down and watch football games. I read library books. People don't hire me to write articles on my opinions about football games and for good reason. But I do however write snarky recaps of reality shows and after sitting through the Ohio State/Clemson game Saturday night, it occurred to me that it's all basically the same thing.

Everybody seems to have an opinion about that game so I thought I'd throw in my unbiased 2 cents. To set the record straight, I am a Buckeyes fan simply because I married a Buckeye's fan, and for the sake of my marriage, when he yells, "O-H" I will obediently answer, "I-O!" I always hope they win, but only because that effects the rest of my day too, and the fact that my granddaughter's name is Scarlet Gray and I use her baby pictures to make inappropriate memes is irrelevant.

That being said, I had no stake in the Ohio State/Clemson game. And in my opinion, since I'm openly admitting to having zero comprehension of the rules of the game, much less knowing any names of the players, I think you can trust my unbiased observations on what went down at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl that night.

Side note. While I was writing this, I literally had to text my husband and ask which Bowl game it was because, unbiased. And I literally replied, 'PlayStation Fiesta Bowl? WTH kind of lame bowl name is that?'

Seriously, do they just throw random words together and put Bowl at the end? Like, hey there you Ohio State and Clemson guys...you played games and stuff and you know who's known for games and stuff? Play Station. And it looked like you were having fun. Hey! Fiestas are fun. And voila. The PlayStation Fiesta Bowl was born. It sounds like the equivalent of a participation trophy bowl until your husband tells you that there's also a Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl, a San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl, and a Tony The Tiger Sun Bowl, which I can only assume is the bowl reserved for the teams who played GRRRRREAT!!!

Okay, if the names of the bowls are like little league t-shirts with the sponsor's name across the front, are you trying to tell me that Tony The Tiger sponsored a bowl? Let me stop you right there. I think you mean Frosted Flakes, which would make that The Cereal Bowl if we were to be accurate with the half-assed naming of the bowls.

And one more thing before we get to the game. Can we ask why the Ohio State end zone was rust orange? Was PlayStation too cheap to spring for red? Wonder what Tony The Tiger's budget was?

Ok. Onto the game. Seeing as I already admitted I know less than nothing about the technical game of football, I see no reason to discuss every play. I'll just focus on the highlights and keep my observations about the pivotal and controversial points of the game according to the reactions of my husband and son as they sat beside me watching.

1. The Buckeyes were winning pretty solidly except for a couple of missed touchdowns and they ended up kicking the ball instead. Only one of the missed touchdowns stands out to me, because the refs decided to "review the play" and noticed in super slow motion that the ball turned a little in the guy's hands in the end zone and so they reversed the original call on the field and took the touchdown away. That seems a bit unfair considering the guy was sliding across the grass on his head at the time, but, oooh, that ball moved a little. NO TOUCHDOWN FOR YOU. As one of the announcers pointed out, "That's why it's so important to review these plays in slow motion.
Remember that he said that. It'll be important later.

2. All that aside, things were going pretty well for Ohio State until their player with the long orange tipped hair got kicked out of the game because his helmet hit the Clemson quarterback in the face. In his defense, that quarterback is like 8 feet tall and from where I was sitting, it looked like he bent his face right into it. Also, it's football, so hitting people with your helmet seems like part of the game, unless of course you're the Clemson player whose helmet just rolled off willy nilly and he bonked his head on the ground. Dude. Don't they make straps for that? But he didn't get kicked out. I mean, the trainer took him away for a few minutes, but probably just to show him how to use the chin straps for future reference.

3. At one point, a short fast guy on the Buckeye team the announcers referred to as a bowling ball for some reason, hurt his ankle. It appeared that happened when a guy from Clemson grabbed onto it and was holding onto it for dear life while the poor bowling ball dragged him along. Probably targeted him, too, but did anyone review THAT play in slow motion? Nope.

4. This wasn't pivotal or anything, but needs to be addressed. Ohio State did something that had my guys laughing. I don't understand it and probably never will no matter how many times my husband tries to explain it to me. Something about a clap that made the Clemson team turn their heads to look at their coach and the Buckeyes barreled into them while they stood staring off to the side. I don't get it, but apparently it was legal, not to mention clever, and I'm a fan of clever.

5. Another moment for the Buckeyes happened when I noticed one of the Clemson players practically leap over a ref trying to bolt across the field to his sideline, but the Buckeyes started the play before he got off the field and Clemson was penalized for too many players on the field. Also clever, but seriously Clemson? When you know you're that short on time and you have to get off the field, just jump off on the Buckeye side. Maybe you could ask 'em about that sneaky sneak clap play while you're over there.

6. BUT THEN, the big terrible thing happened and nobody was laughing anymore. Clemson caught a pass, fumbled it, the Buckeyes picked it up, and scored a touchdown. The refs called it just like that, too. Until they decided to "review the play." While that happened, we were treated to a disagreement between the announcers. One announcer seemed to think that slow motion showed it exactly as the play was originally called on the field and that it should stand. But the other guy, the one who pointed out the importance of reviewing plays in slow motion, was suddenly saying, "Slow motion isn't always the most accurate way to determine these calls."

Whoa. Hold up. So you're saying that this time, slow motion should not be used because real time is more accurate and therefore, it should cost the Buckeyes a touchdown. Hey! Remember that time 3 quarters ago when you declared the infallibility of reviewing a play in slow motion and it cost the Buckeyes a touchdown? I bet Buckeye Nation does.

So the "powers that be in the replay center" finally made their decision. They decided that even though the guy was like, literally coming down with the ball in his hands and taking steps before he dropped it, that he didn't really catch the ball at all, so that means, when he dropped the ball, he wasn't really dropping the ball, because it doesn't matter what the replay shows. If you say he didn't really catch it in the first place, you get to say he didn't really drop it either, so they decided to change the call.  According to my husband, reversing an original call should only happen when review of the play unquestionably proves the call was a blatant mistake, but when even the announcers are debating what they're seeing, it makes it appear that the "powers that be in the replay center" might've been looking for an excuse change the original call.

*whispering* shhh...I think they might be democrats.

7. Just in case you suspect I'm Buckeye biased, I'm going to tell you something I'm not allowed to say in front of my husband. I like the Clemson quarterback. There, I said it. I liked how he patted the Buckeye players after plays and helped his guys up when they were down. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy and I truly believe he didn't mean to hit his face on the Buckeye guy's helmet and get him kicked out of the game. I was also happy to see him score a touchdown because his mom was there to see it and she deserves that. Plus, he looks like her and they're both really pretty, even though that has nothing to do with the game. This is me being impartial. You're welcome.

So there you have my unbiased observations. No matter what you believe about the Buckeye's mistakes or the ref's calls, the end result remains the same. The Buckeye's can hold their heads high knowing they played a pretty good first half of the game, the little bowling ball can finally rest his ankle, and Clemson will go on to play in the game known as, 'The College Football National Championship Presented by AT and T.' At least they chose a name that answers any and all questions so everybody's not left wondering, "But who is it presented by?"

As for me, I'll keep my day job...unless of course they want to hire me as a sideline commentator to represent the common folk who just want someone to ask about the obvious things until they fire me, which would happen the first game obviously, but like, which quarter? I would just be like, "Nice to meet everyone. Why's that guy's hair the same color as the end zone and who's that jerk announcer that can't seem to keep his biased opinions straight? I'll show myself out."

ESPN, call me.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Let It Go

Our lives were carrying on all normal and stuff...which is to say we were semi-successfully keeping our crazy away from the general public...and then Ron read me a text from one of his co-workers: "Your wife should be a princess."

Hellooo. Obvi. I didn't even need to know the context behind the statement.

Then he explained that they needed someone to be Elsa on their company float for the Christmas parade. I mean, of course I'll do it because it's basically what I've been training for my entire life, but I had some questions.
1. Will a costume be provided?
2. Are we going minimum or maximum cleavage?
3. Will I wear a wig or are we taking this in a new direction and introducing Badass Brunette Elsa to the community?

I'm fine with whatever y'all decide because I don't micromanage.

A few days later, he answered my questions. A costume will be provided. No wig necessary, because it's a bobble head Elsa.

Soooo. Follow up question. what the hell is a bobble head Elsa? He answered, "I don't know, but she said it's hideous."

I didn't know who "she" was and quite frankly, it didn't matter. Hideous? I'm gonna make my princess debut as a hideous Elsa?

But I'd already agreed to it, so I'd do it, and just be grateful that no one would know who was under the bobble head. And this was no longer my official princess debut, just so we're clear.

Fast forward to the morning of the parade when one of my Zumba friends asked me what I was doing that weekend and I reluctantly told her about the parade and hideous bobble head Elsa. And then she changed the course of my day...and maybe my life...by telling me her daughter-in-law has a real Elsa costume that I could borrow, complete with wig. Also a fur cover for warmth which meant zero cleavage, but beggars can't be choosers, am I right?

And so began the rush to prepare. Watching Elsa eye make-up youtube tutorials while I awkwardly tried to follow along, finding out I needed false eyelashes, so a mad dash to the local Family Dollar, and then attempting to follow the step by step instructions before quickly coming to the realization that applying false eyelashes falls under the category of 'crafts' so profanity entered the picture.

No princess is perfect.

Finally, I picked up the costume, came back home, carefully put on the wig...and then waited for my client to arrive because I'm a massage therapist and I had no reason to think I should cancel an appointment, because believe it or not, becoming Elsa- Ice Princess, wasn't originally on my to-do list that day. So yeah. A guy got massaged by Elsa, whether he liked it or not, and I'd just as soon not know whether he liked it or not.

It can't get any more embarrassing than that, right?
Hold my wig.

No sooner had I completed his massage, I heard honking outside. I looked out to see the UPS truck parked at the end of our long driveway surrounded by our dogs barking at him while he leaned out the door motioning for me to come to him to get my package. Please, God, no. That hideous bobble head was sounding pretty good as he witnessed Elsa- Ice Princess running barefoot down the driveway while he didn't even try to hide the look on his face. When I offered up a quick out-of-breath explanation, he interrupted me with, "It's cool. I don't need to know."

Well, good, cuz I didn't want to tell you anyway. Now if you could please quickly drive away before you see the guy come out of my house and pay me, that'd be best for everyone involved.

So it can't get more embarrassing than that, right?
You should probably stop asking. We're just gettin' started.

Now it's time to go pick up my grandson from preschool, because we're heading straight to the parade from there. The Pre-school pick-up policy is that you park at the front of the loooong line of cars and when the preschool teacher brings out the little ones, she'll wait until the adult gets out of their vehicle and approaches so that she knows who the child is going home with.

So where do we begin with all the potential problems here?

Elsa stepping out of a mini-van in front of a parking lot full of witnesses, thus landing me on youtube somewhere. Again. The potential mob as little girls realize that Elsa is on the property at the peak of the release of Frozen 2. The possibility that my grandson won't recognize me, clings to his teacher when I tell him to get in the van, and the authorities become involved. Because if Ace doesn't recognize me, there's no hope Miss Becky will.

So I did what I thought was best. I stayed hidden in my van, gambling on the fact that Ace will recognize my van, and if Miss Becky ever wanted to go home, she'd have no choice but to bring him to me. And that's eventually exactly what happened. And when the van door slid open I saw it register on both of their faces that Sassy was Elsa and Elsa was Sassy. Miss Becky laughed and laughed. Ace, on the other hand, was not amused in any way and as we drove away, he asked, "Sassy, can you please not do that anymore?"

Poor little guy. Only been around for 5 years, so he really has no idea what he's in for.

On the way to the parade, I felt Caymen staring at me. I turned to her and in my most charming Disney princess voice, snapped, "WHAT???" She jumped and then hesitantly said, "You know Elsa's white like snow, right? You're more...bronze...like sand." I glanced at myself in the rearview mirror. "So what's wrong with a tan Elsa? I'm a healthier beachy-er Vitamin D Elsa, which doesn't justify your disapproving face here."

When we arrived at the warehouse where the float was being decorated, things got awkward.
Wait, you thought things were already awkward? Are you new here or something?

I walked in to the crowded warehouse in full-on Italian Elsa, to the appalled looks of everyone, mainly my husband. That's when I was informed that I was going to be required to wear the bobble head. Why? Because Elsa had to match Anna and Olaf, who were also wearing bobble heads. Which only goes to show that not everyone was as fully invested in this as I was.

Sooo...you wanna make Elsa mad...have you even seen the movie?
Before I could begin freezing things with my fake-lashed ice glares, Ron pulled me aside and whispered, "No one asked you to do...*pauses and looks me up and down*...this."
Well then let me refresh your memory. HIDEOUS. So, THIS, should be self-explanatory.

I'll spare you the details of the angry whispered conversation, and maybe a few tears. (Wasn't my fault he cried, either.) I wore the bobble head...and stood on the top of a float pulled behind a truck being driven by Ron, which means bobble head Elsa, who couldn't see a damn thing out of her bobble head face, was but one hard brake away from tumbling to an embarrassing death in a Christmas parade at the hands of her own husband. A fitting end to the story, if you ask me. But the only bad thing that happened was getting frostbite in my hand. We'll just chalk that up to staying in character because going above and beyond is what I do. Obvi.

To be perfectly fair, the bobble head wasn't really hideous...I mean, for a bobble head...and in retrospect, maybe bobble head Elsa was more believable than The Soprano's Elsa, and probably slightly less scary.

The bottom line is, all good came from this entire saga, despite my husband's feelings on the matter. Or my grandson's. My client. The UPS guy. Okay, mostly good came from this entire saga. I got a picture on a float with two of my grandkids aaaaand twelve hours after posting that picture on my facebook page, I got a message from one of our pastors: 'Shari- How are you at acting?' Funny you should ask...

Guess who's The Virgin Mary in our church's Christmas Eve Eve Service? They said they'd provide the costume. Ron thinks I should go ahead and let them do that.

Give me some credit. I'm not gonna go rogue with the Virgin Mary costume. Unless of course it's hideous.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Boys Of Fall...Through

My husband and I met our senior year of high school. He was a football player and I was a cheerleader. Classic fairytale that all girls dream of. It doesn't even matter that we went to totally different schools or that we met after the football season was over, so let me live my truth and don't be a fairytale ruiner, k?

All of that to say, I never got to see him play football or cheer for him on the sidelines, which would be like, the hottest thing ever.

BUT. THEN. All of that changed with an email inviting him to play in his high school alumni tackle football game against their rivals, the alumni of the Kenton Ridge Cougars. *cross self and spit here*

Flash back to 2011 when my alumni was invited back to cheer for the Homecoming game of the Shawnee Braves. *And the crowd goes wild*

My husband was being offered another chance to play football for the Northeastern Jets against the Kenton Ridge Cougars?!? Which means I was about to wear my boyfriend's jersey on game day?!? Bucket list complete. Works out well that we still have his original ripped up team jersey, blood stains and all.

He started to ask, "Do you think I..."
Let me stop you right there, because I'll have my old cheerleading uniform on before you can even finish your question. And with that, he signed up.

Their first scheduled practice was several weeks away, so he started his own version of training. Mainly playgrounds, rough housing, and tubing...cuz ya gotta be able to "take a hit."

The day of practice, someone in the group text asked, "Anybody have a ball?" Surely a foreshadowing of how this was about to play out.

He pulled up to the first official practice in badass mini-van fashion, with the sunroof open, and probably blasting Def Leopard, if you'd be so kind as to extend me a little latitude while I add my own touch of hotness to the visual.

Everyone gathered on the field where he was told he was the 2nd oldest player signed up. Oldest guy was 67. No problem there though, considering the youngest guy informed the group he has a heart flutter and has to lose 10 lbs before his doctor will clear him to play, so there's that.

Someone brought some half deflated balls. (Insert your own jokes here, because I can't narrow mine down to one.)

No coach yet, but I vote the guy with the old balls step up.
Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

If I haven't offended anybody yet, stick around.

Here was the breakdown of the team:

Ron- Offensive and Defensive tackle, because 'hot' and 'can take a hit', remember?
Older Than Ron Guy- Didn't actually show up to practice, but would probably be the Receiver, assuming his wife agreed to sign the waiver. No lawsuits here, folks.
Heart Flutter Guy- Running Back...pending those pesky 10 lbs.
Ankle Brace Guy- Center...under debate, because Knee Brace Guy was also vying for that position, but when Ankle Brace Guy persevered after taking them off because blisters started to form, he earned some major kudos.
Knee Brace Guy- Punter and Field Goal Kicker and Center wanna-Be. (Someone might have control issues. Also, not to micromanage, but maybe Older Than Ron guy might be better suited to kick a ball and suffer less risk of getting tackled. BUT...he never showed, so here's to you, Older Than Ron Guy...good luck Receiving.)
Healthy Guy- Offensive Guard...but also had an 8:30 bedtime, so the 2nd half of the game would go unblocked. Obviously unavoidable.

Wait, no Quarter Back? What the hell, Knee Brace Guy? Where's your skill set? And why does the movie, The Replacements, come to mind?

Anyyyyhooo, that first practice consisted mainly of driving the sled, trick plays talk, and possibly a locker room huddle and some, 'How strong are you? Too Strong! You want a victory?! I want a victory!!'...because Remember The Titans. Also someone asked if they could bring alcohol, which I'm pretty sure still violates school grounds rules everywhere, but I can't blame him for wanting to tap into some liquid courage before the big game.

Later that night, when I found him massaging his shoulder in our hot tub, I voiced my concern that maybe this alumni game isn't a safe idea. He told me not to worry because Emergency Squads from 3 surrounding townships would be on standby, which wasn't as comforting as he might've thought. But he assured me, he was game ready.

And this is where the story abruptly concludes. The opposing school couldn't get enough alumni to form a team...which truth be told was probably the only thing that stood between some middle age guys and a new Dyer Garafalo Mann & Schultz commercial: "...if you or someone you know suffered injury or death because of the negligence of your high school's alumni association..."

Thankfully, nobody needed a tiger on their side, because Cougars saved the day. Thanks Kenton Ridge. 
*cross self, spit*
Nothin' sayin' I can't still wear his jersey on game days, though.

Friday, October 11, 2019

If you can't think of anything nice to say, let Jesus do the talking.

I'm sitting between the two most annoying women on the beach, I thought to myself.

Just so you understand where my attitude was that day, lest anyone read this post and mistakenly think I'm proud of myself.

Ron and I were away for our annual getaway. It was our last day and I told him I was going to sit on the beach all day. Since it's off season, it wasn't crowded and I loved the peace and solitude.

But as I walked the path to the beach, I began to notice the tide. What the crap is this? It was the highest I'd seen it this entire time. It was washing up past the rental chairs, which are generally placed beyond where the tide reaches. Therefore, there was very little "beach" before it turned into rushing water and waves, so I was forced to park my chair near other people, and it was an inconvenience to everyone, meaning me.

I was being a brat. Hang on, I get worse.

The lady to my right had a voice that could best be described as "squak." Not even sure that's a real word, but it's the only one that suited her voice as she talked loudly into her cell phone. You have to be loud to drown out the sound of crashing waves. Squak had the gift.

The only thing that made it worse was the lady to my left. Beach Mom. She was there with her husband and many children. I couldn't tell the exact ages, but her youngest was an infant, the one above her was a small toddler, and the stair stepped height of the rest of them led me to believe she's been pregnant for the past 12 years straight. Beach mom was entertaining herself in the ocean while dad held the baby and the rest of the kids played in the water. None of whom were wearing flotation devices. Tsk Tsk.

See, I'm the mom who specializes in worst case scenarios, so I had our kids in flotation devices before we ever stepped out of the condo, because preventative actions based on fear is my parental style of choice. Normally, I'd say 'Don't judge me' here, but since I sat there judging her, I forfeit that right.

When she wasn't boogie boarding or flipping her hair upside down in the water, she was screaming at her older kids to stop letting the current carry them away from her.

Side bar. One does not "let" the ocean current do anything. The ocean current does what it damn well pleases. I speak from experience as a woman whose husband is surprised when he gets carried down the beach by the current every.single.time.

Beach Mom stopped to nurse the baby, then she lay the sleeping baby down beside her on a towel under the umbrella. Under normal circumstances, there'd be no problem with that. But on this day, the tide just kept rising. I thought to myself what a terrible idea that was to lay the baby down there, but her parenting style obviously differs from mine and that doesn't make her's wrong, except yes it does, said me, who sat back silently observing Beach Mom's choices on my left, while also wondering how anyone could stay on the phone that long with a woman who squaked on my right.

I'd long jumped over the line from brat to b*tch.
Judge me. I deserve it.

Just as Beach Mom began assembling a kite, a quick rushing wave washed over the baby. Dad pulled her up quick, but she'd swallowed a bunch of water. Mom turned her over, pounded her on her back, water came gushing out of her mouth, and the baby must've started breathing ok, because she handed her back to her husband. I couldn't hear what she said, but she was clearly not happy with him. And then she went back to getting her kite in the air. Crisis averted.

Squak was finally off the phone and Beach Mom had successfully launched her kite, so I closed my eyes. And then I heard Beach Mom screaming, 'GET HIM!' My eyes popped open to see the toddler being carried away by the current, tumbling head over heels in about a foot of water. Dad still sat holding the baby, Beach Mom was screaming and trying frantically to wind the kite back in, while the older kids ran through the water trying to catch up to their little brother. A man down the beach saw what was happening and jumped in ahead of the situation to catch him, but the brothers caught him before he got there. The toddler was soaking wet and obviously terrified, but he was ok. Another crisis averted.

Except, when the kids brought their little brother back to their mom, she snapped. Screamed how irresponsible they are, threatened to end their vacation, and ordered them to clean everything up, and get back to the condo. Fighting off tears, they did as they were told. Husband included. As the toddler passed me, eyes down, I asked him if he was ok. He wouldn't look at me. As each of the older kids passed me, eyes down, I told them they did a great job catching up to their brother like that. They wouldn't look at me.

After watching her defeated children walk away, my head turned back to see her standing on the beach alone, trying to untangle her kite string, and I knew I was in it now. I know things sometimes. I knew I was going to walk up to her and I knew I was going to say something. But because I don't know everything, I didn't know what I was going to say and I didn't know if I was about to go viral on a youtube video titled 'Beach Moms catfighting in a tangle of kite string.'

I silently called out a quick 'God help me' and then I stood up and approached her.

Let me be perfectly clear here. I take ZERO credit for anything that happened from this point on. I just finished admitting to you my shameful attitude that day. That, I own. All I can say is that the Holy Spirit is real within those who invite Him in and He reserves the right to overhaul your mouth. It might've been my little prayer for help or He might've interceded regardless, but I heard myself ask her, "Are you okay?"

Wait. What'd I just say?!? Is SHE okay? Of course she's not okay! She just spent the day making a festival of terrible choices and then blamed her husband and children for all of them! Why didn't I open with THAT?!

Then I stood completely silent while she vented. She told me everything that had gone wrong that week, that month, that year, and maybe her whole life. It poured out of her like she'd just been waiting for someone to ask her that simple question. Are you ok? And I didn't say a word while she answered. I stood there quietly absorbing it. All of her unspoken pain. All of her unspoken fears.

Flash in my mind to Jesus, kneeling there beside me, using His finger to write my sins in the sand.
Wait a minute. Beach Mom is me. And I wonder, if Beach Mom might be you, too?

We all just desperately crave a short reprieve from the world inside our head where we bottle up all of our fear, pain, stress, anxiety, and all of the things we shield from our family...until something finally tips us over the edge and we explode on the very people we love the most and the ones we work tirelessly to protect. This woman just wanted to fly a kite, dammit, and I sat there focusing on a spec of sand in her eye with a piece of driftwood sticking out of mine. God, forgive me.

When she finally stopped talking, I asked, "Are you done?"
She looked a little startled by that question but she said, "Yes."
Then I asked, "Can I say some things to you from a place of love?"
She squinted at me confused but she said, "Yes."

And so I said, "You just poured all of your frustration out on me. I willingly accept it. Now you need to leave it all here on the beach with me. Don't take any of it with you when you go back to the condo and apologize to your family. You're a good mom, but you got scared. Tell them you're sorry and explain to them that your anger came from a place of fear. Then I want you to praise each and every one of them. Praise your husband for pulling your baby from the wave. He saved her. Then praise each of your kids for saving their brother. Because they did. You don't want this scene to be the lasting memory of a family vacation."

FYI; Love doesn't throw fuel on a blazing ember. Love doesn't help a sister throw her husband under the bus. Love doesn't agree with someone simply for the sake of agreeing with them. Love is truth. Sometimes love is hard truth. And I was standing there receiving a dose of my own right along with her.

I waited to see if she'd hit me for what I said, but she burst into tears and hugged me.

My eyes widened. Oh boy. She's hugging me what's happening we're in bathing suits and ohhhh noooo, here comes Squak. She quietly handed Beach Mom a wine cooler and lo and behold, Squak started to grow on me, too.

We stood there talking for another half hour...these 2 women and me, the most annoying woman on the beach. I'm pretty sure Jesus would've written that in the sand, too.

Before I walked away, I pointed to my chair sitting alone on the beach and said, "One day, you're going to be sitting there by yourself like me..."

She said, "...and wondering what my children are doing, right?"

I answered, "Nope. You'll be witnessing a young mom trying to hold it all together until she can't anymore and you're going to remember this day, ask her if she's okay, and offer her a wine cooler before it's too late."

She said, "God sent you to me today."

God sent us to each other, actually.

Then a teary eyed Squak initiated a group hug...oh lawd, Squak...and she said, "Wanna meet back here again tomorrow?"

Lady, not even Jesus would ask me to do that right now.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Jump For Boy. Again.

You might remember a few years ago when Zac and I went skydiving together. It wasn't my idea, but rather a follow through to a commitment I'd made to him when he was 8. Also the fact that if one of my kids is jumping out of an airplane, I ain't waitin' on the ground to see how that ends. For better or worse, I'm in this parenting thing for the long haul.

It ended up becoming a spiritual event in my life and I told Zac I'd do it again with him sometime.

Six years later...flash to "sometime."

They ran a Valentine's special and Zac purchased jumps for he and his wife. He asked me if I wanted to join them. Welllll, maybe, but I didn't wanna be the third wheel in a special moment between him and his wife. I mean, he's still my boy, but he's her's too. And let's be real. She's first now, as she should be.

Months passed and they booked their jumps for August 10th. He asked me again and this time I agreed to go. Then came the 2 week saga of trying to book my spot. It began with a continually glitching website and ended with Ron calling and feeling "sassed" by the girl who answered the phone, so he refused to call her back. (Welcome to my world of dealing with the "Coffee Maker Normans", there Chuckles.) So, armed with my best 'Good Cop' persona, I called the place back, smoothed things over for him, and arranged for him to speak with a different girl who promised not to sass. Sigh. The role of Bad Cop is much more my forte, but I'm nothing if not versatile.

My spot got booked. Unlike last time, I wasn't nervous about the jump at all. I just figured I already knew the outcome. I mean, it wasn't exactly an easy process for me to get booked, meaning I was probably going to die on Saturday. Not that I made any important decisions or official proclamations, except I did refuse to go to the doctor when it started to burn when I pee because why bother when I'd be dead soon, and I told Ron a few things he might like mentioned in my eulogy...like, my aversion to dramatics.

Hey. I'm too frugal to waste money on a doctor bill when he'd have a funeral to pay for and it's my eulogy, so it's important he get it right.

We all showed up on Saturday, given our tour, and explained the meaning of all the numbers on the light up name board by a girl who talked really fast under her breath and had no business explaining anything to people who are about to jump out of an airplane from 13,000 feet. Also she's probably the girl who sassed my husband if I had to guess. The only thing I understood was when she asked if we had any questions. I said, "Could you repeat everything you just said?" Barbara cut in and dismissed the girl before she could answer. I assumed that meant that Barbara had understood the girl, so when she walked away, I turned to her and said, "What'd she say about the light up board?" Barbara replied, "I have no idea, but I couldn't take one more minute of her talking."

Ooookay. So my daughter in law has even more in common with me than I realized.

It was 6pm when our names appeared under the green number 120. We all speculated what that meant, since fast-talking-sass-girl didn't talk clearly enough to understand. Zac figured it was the plane number. I wondered if it might be how many minutes before our jump and Zac said, "Two hours?! Stop." Then we all laughed, because we were hungry, and the thought of waiting 2 more hours would've put us into a full on hangry-rage. It was obviously our plane number. And then our "plane number" dropped to 90, then 80, and 60, and we finally admitted that that's how many minutes left before we jump. We should be detectives or something.

We were starving. Had I only known, I would've enjoyed one last meal. Dying on an empty stomach just seemed cruel. It was approaching 8pm and I wondered if we were about to skydive in the dark of night. Probably best my husband and 12 year old not witness me plummet from the sky and bury myself 4 feet into the landing field anyway.

At 8pm, our names were called, we were put into our flight suits, and harnessed up. On my 2nd harness check, the guy discovered my leg wasn't through the harness strap, thus the reason for their 3 rounds of harness checks. So I'm not gonna die from my legs not being through the harness holes. Check.

My TI, (Tandem Instructor), Matt was SO NICE!! He triple checked my harness and seemed pleased when I pointed out that my legs were through the harness holes. When he interviewed me for the video and asked if there's anything I'd like to say, I hesitated, but decided against asking him if he knows Jesus and telling him we might be joining Him together in about 20 minutes. I need to find a balance between bold and clinically insane. Fine line there.

We loaded into the plane with a bunch of other people, both tandem and single flyers. One single flyer sat confidently by the open door, even as the plane began to ascend. Maybe he thought he was gonna die too, and was planning his roll out if things went south on take off.

I was at the other end of the plane squeezed in beside Zac. I leaned over my son and said to his TI, Jacob, "Get my boy down safe, ok?" He replied, "Your boy will be fine. I have a lot more experience than your TI." He was probably being funny. I just knowingly nodded. I had the new guy. It was all coming together.

Within a matter of minutes, we were all on our TI's laps while they hooked us together. I felt complete peace, despite my underlying urge to apologize to my TI for drawing the short straw and being strapped to the woman destined to die that day. Suddenly, the door opened and the single flyers starting dropping over the side, while the tandem flyers were slowly inched toward the door by their TI's. The order of the jump would be Barbara, me, then Zac. It wasn't until Barbara was positioned on the ledge of the open door that I saw the look of complete terror on her face. All I could say was, "You're ok, Barbara! You got it, Barbara!" Thinking, please don't let her see me speed by her in a free falling death spiral.

She went over the side.

My turn. He pulled my head back, reminded me to put my feet on his butt, and over we went.

For as much as I expected to die that day, this flight wasn't nearly as spiritual as my last one. For example, I'd completely forgotten that it feels like your eardrums might rupture and you can't breath for that first 30 second free fall, but you can't look like you can't breathe, because camera on the TI's wrist, so you wave and blow kisses and pray to God that you reach the breathable altitude before you get the panic eyes and start flailing, because my feet were still firmly planted against Matt's butt and the last thing I wanted was to be kicking it when we slid into the light. Insult to injury and Matt doesn't deserve that.

But there's no disguising my face skin flapping wildly in the wind, which is probably the same as how I'd look if I didn't like food so much. Guess we'll never know.

Then our chute opened and suddenly I could breathe. It was that moment I realized, unless we get randomly struck by a giant bird or tangled in some unlikely electrical wires, me and TI Matt were going to live to see another day.

I asked him if my boy's chute was open, he looked up, said yes, and pointed him out to me. That's good. Cuz if his chute didn't open, I would have no choice but to throw an elbow into the nose of super nice TI Matt, unsnap the parachute line, and spiral out with an unconscious Matt on my back to meet Zac on the other side. Glad it didn't come to that.

Time to sit back and watch a sunset from a view I never have before...which was basically a glimpse of heaven, so maybe my premonition wasn't completely wrong.

He handed me the chords to steer us and I thought maybe we shouldn't press our luck, huh? But he assured me I couldn't mess it up. So naive, that one.

I asked him if we could land on our feet, because that would be a super cool ending to celebrate us not dying and everything. He said we're landing on our butt. I told him last time I landed on my feet. He said this time we're gonna land on my butt. Matt clearly didn't understand how close he came to dying that day.

We slid in on our butts. I jumped up to see my boy coming in behind me and Barbara gliding in behind him.

As Matt unhooked me, he asked, "Will you do it again?"
If my boy asks me to, I will.
Then he asked, "What are you gonna go do now?"
Eat a porterhouse, drink a margarita, and then look into why it burns when I pee. 
He might've thought I was kidding.
Thank you for another adventure, Zac and Barbara.
Say the word if you're up for doing it again...in another 6 years or so.
A HUGE THANK YOU to Matt, Jacob, and everyone at Start Skydiving.
Their professionalism, safety standards, and personal care for their jumpers is 2nd to none.
You might wanna have somebody else answer the phone and give the tours, though. 
Just a suggestion.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Coffee Break

As a general rule, I don't use my blog as a platform to poorly review a company. Well, if you don't count Direct Tv. And Verizon. And Chuckie Cheese. And The Zoo.

Ok, so maybe I occasionally use my blog as a platform to rant on a company, but only if they deserve it, and Gourmia and their stupid coffee maker? Yeah, they deserve it.

Three of my life rules:
1. I do what I say I'm gonna do.
2. I expect a shred of customer service decency from anyone selling anything ever.
3. Don't mess with my coffee. Amen?

So when a company obliterates rules #2 and #3, and I tell them I'm gonna spread the word about that, I will. Because, rule #1. You've tied my hands here, Gourmia. Or maybe I should say, you've unleashed them...

I received the Gourmia Espresso Machine & Single Serve Pod Coffee Maker as a gift last Christmas. A mere 7 months later, it broke. Flooded my coffee bar and started spewing coffee grounds at me, broke. Like, my coffee maker turned against me, waged war, and literally assaulted me, broke.
Sorry, it's still a bit raw for me.

I pulled out the manual and it said it was under warranty for one year. Perfect. I called, told the lady I'd received this as a gift 7 months previously, gave her the model number, lot number, and date code she requested, and then she said I'd be receiving an email from their Customer Service Dept. Fine.

The following day I received an email from Norman requesting the model number, lot number, and date code.
I think I've seen this episode before.

His email signed off with,
Happy Cooking :) Norman. Customer Care at Gourmia,
Where delicious gets done.

Okay Norman, if that's your real name, do you even talk to the chick who answers the phone?

But I was still being pleasant at this point, so I sent him the requested information. Again.

The day after that, he sent me another email requesting a copy of my receipt.
Happy Cooking :) Norman. Customer Care at Gourmia,
Where delicious gets done.

Again, I explained that I'd received this as a gift, so I didn't have a receipt. The day after that, I received another email.

For those keeping track, I'm on Day 4 of no coffee.
Know who wasn't happy about that? Everyone.

My pleasant tank is nearing empty and you're on a short leash here, Norman.

That email listed detailed instructions on how to package this machine to ship it back to them, along with the minimum price it would cost ME to have it fixed, and he sealed it with a 'And by the way, if it's damaged when we receive it, it's all your fault and screw you.' (I might be paraphrasing there, but barely.)
Happy Cooking :) Norman. Customer Care at Gourmia,
Where delicious gets done.

How dare you wish me happy cooking and claim you're where the delicious gets done. You're just giving me the email finger at this point.

I emailed him back.
I'm sorry, Norman. You must be confused. I'm the CUSTOMER. YOUR machine broke. Delicious is no longer gettin' done here, Norman. I ain't cookin' and I ain't happy and I sure as hell ain't paying shipping and handling.

Pleasant has left the building.

Ron went out that evening and bought me a new coffee maker, because he knows what happens when my pleasant leaves the building, and he was picking up on my red flags, subtle as they may be.

Norman emailed back that until I show proof of purchase, I'm SOL.
Signed, Happy Cooking :) Norman. Customer Care at Gourmia,
Where delicious gets done.

He's laughing now, I know it.

I responded:
Unfortunately, I had no reason to ask the giver of this gift for the receipt, because it never crossed my mind that this machine would be such piss poor quality, which coincidentally, matches your company's customer service skills. I'll do my best to track down the receipt. In the meantime, I'll do my part in warning potential buyers of your shoddy brand.

Norman won.

But then, miraculously...Ron found the receipt.
I'm back in this thing. *The crowd goes wild*

I emailed Norman a copy of the receipt and a note:
Let me know if you prefer to send me a new one at your expense or refund me completely.

Norman isn't the only one who can give the email finger.

He emailed back:
I need the Amazon order number.

I responded:
Of course you do, you SOB.
Then I sent him the Amazon order number along with:
Surely this is the last hoop I have to jump through for you to make this right.

He emailed back. (And I couldn't make this up if I tried.)
He required that I CUT THE CHORD OF THE BROKEN MACHINE IN HALF AND SEND HIM A PICTURE AS PROOF that I couldn't use the broken machine. He suggested I unplug it first.

Thanks, Norman. Now I have a suggestion for YOU, Norman...

Ron: "Maybe you should just let this go."
Oh, sweetie...nooooo...
Come hell or new coffee machine, I'm taking this to the end.

I sent Norman the picture with:
I'll gladly destroy this piece of crap, Norman.
Signed, Happy Refunding :) Shari. Blogger at CloseCourters,
Where Rule #1 gets done.

Norman stopped emailing me.
I was passed off to Yameese, who wanted to let me know that a brand new unit was being shipped to my house ASAP.
Signed, Happy Cooking :) Yahmeese. Parts and Repair at Gourmia,
Where delicious gets done.

Don't start with me, Yameese.

Friday, August 2, 2019


Friday is supposed to be the best day of the week.
If someone could tell my family that, that'd be great.

                                       Meet Ryder Beau.
                                       German Shepherd.
Struggles with anxiety, abandonment issues, fear of change, and refusal to do what she's told. The dog version of me, basically.
Quincy May. 
Territorial, opinionated, semi-controlling, borderline intolerant, and struggles with general b*tchiness. 
The dog version of me on my period.
Bamberly James. 
Part Chinese Crested Powder Puff/Part Frat Boy A**hole.
Stirs up drama and then pretends to be confused by said drama. 

It's rarely a good thing when my dogs are the stars of the blog, but rat poison, dog fights, and roast thieving will occasionally land them here. When they earn it, they really earn it, so here we go.

Two weeks ago, I was having a pretty rough week. I kept telling my husband, "I can't wait until Friday." Our wonderful cleaning lady was scheduled to come and my day was going to consist of listening to true crime podcasts and solving unsolved murder mysteries, because somebody has to.

Twenty minutes before she was scheduled to arrive, I was listening to 'my stories', as I call them, and doing the pre-cleaning cleaning.
Women everywhere know exactly what I'm talking about. Nobody wants their house to look like it needs cleaned before the cleaning lady arrives, am I wrong?

Halfway through the unsolved murder of the day, I heard screaming. Wow. This podcast went above and beyond with the special effects background noises. I appreciate that.

If you're wondering why I didn't assume the screaming was coming from inside my house, it's because my husband wasn't home to cause any screaming inside my house, that's why. Just the 12 year old and the 3 dogs all asleep in my bed. Nothin' to scream about here, folks.

But when the screaming continued, I ran toward my bedroom. Caymen met me halfway screaming, "RYDER IS KILLING QUINCY!" Everybody calm down. Ryder wouldn't kill Quincy.

I ran into our bedroom as Ryder ran out and I saw Quincy laying on our bed. Oh sh*t. Ryder killed Quincy.

She was alive, but her right eye was bugging out, there was blood on our sheets, and poop all over the floor.

And I was worried about what the cleaning lady would think of dried ketchup on the counter. Psh. This is nothin, Jackie. Wait till you see our bedroom.

Caymen: "Quincy wouldn't share the stuffed bunny."

Oh. Ok then. I'm sure the Vet will totally understand when he sees her eye and asks 'what the crap happened here.'

Let's go ahead and address what some of you might be thinking:
Ryder is vicious.
She's not. She's a gigantic fearful baby and that's why Quincy mothers her. The problem arose because neither of them realized that one could actually eat the other. Now they know.

But if you're still concerned, I would ask you this:
Who amongst us hasn't snapped when denied a turn with a stuffed bunny? That's what I thought.
And who didn't heed the warning of the raised back hair, hmm?
That's correct. So let's everybody keep the blame where it belongs.

Where were we? Ahhh. The Vet's office.
I politely asked the lady in front of me if I could please check in before her. One look at Quincy and she quickly agreed. But because nothing can be that simple, the lady interrupted my conversation with the receptionist to tell me that the dog she was holding lost all the feeling in his legs and she had to bring her coffee with her because she was in such a hurry. I could only stare at her because sometimes God renders me speechless for the safety of others. This was one of those times.

I sat in one of the 15 EMPTY chairs in the waiting room and if you're guessing that the weirdo with the coffee and her numb-legged dog sat in the chair directly beside me, you win the big prize. I looked at her and the guardian angels over my mouth permitted me 3 words, because she totally deserved it.
"Could you NOT?"
She quickly moved over one chair, but before I could go rogue and say all the other words that suddenly came to mind, the Vet appeared and called me back. My angels were on full alert that day.

I put Quincy on the table, had barely begun to explain our lapse in judgement of having 2 female dogs and only one stuffed bunny, and the vet said "We need to knock her out."
Knock her out? Because she wouldn't share her damn bunny?! Has she not suffered enough consequences?!?

Then they gave her a shot in her leg, her tongue drooped out of her mouth, and they went to work.

I didn't even have time to put my hands behind my back so they wouldn't accidentally give me the shot, which is what I always do when they give our dogs their rabies vaccine. Not that they've ever come close, but the thought of them shooting me up with the vaccine of my number one fear is too much to bear. You'd think receiving the vaccine would seem like a wise preventative choice for me, but surprisingly it doesn't. Neither does having me knocked out on the table beside Quincy with my tongue drooping out of my mouth, but that's what almost happened when he took her face in his hands and popped her eye back into the socket and then shaved her head and began putting stitches in it right there in front of me.

Oh lawd, I see funny colors and why do I smell toast?
This is now the second weekend in a row where I've stood over someone in my family getting stitches in her head, so my therapist will have to be tagged in. I have my limits.

Twenty minutes later, they said I could take her home, he was confident she'd regain vision in her eye, and he assured me that life would go back to normal in a week.

He was right.
Exactly one week later, my phone broke and we went to the local AT&T store to get a new one. Ron parked in the strip mall and while he was getting out of the car, I walked into the store. The guy behind the counter asked if he could help me and I explained that I need a new phone, but we needed to wait for my husband because he handles everything for me. Then Ron opened the door and said, "You're in Game Stop. AT&T is next door."
And that's why he handles everything for me, and why feminists hate me, as they should.

Later that night, he was outside on our driveway using his coyote caller when the neighbor texted and asked if our dogs were inside because her boyfriend was outside looking for the coyote. EVERYBODY. STAND. DOWN.

I get lost and Ron gets mistaken for coyote.
What the Vet doens't know is that 'back to normal' for us isn't necessarily a good thing.

TGIFriday, everybody.
It's gonna be a good one.
I know that because we're not leaving the house...just us and our two stuffed bunnies.