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


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.