8 tips for holiday airplane travel with toddlers in tow

airplaneMy family travels with me despite the fact that I am a traveling liability for them. It’s our family joke.

I am the one in the security line that gets selected for the mystery line or pulled aside to be double-checked by scanners. We’re not sure if I just look shady (my kids’ guess) or if I look like I’ve kidnapped my kids. We just expect it.

It turns out that I have a magnet implant that activates when I travel by air. It attracts less than desirable seatmate situations and more often loud and sticky toddlers. As soon as we spot a cranky toddler or belligerent traveler in our terminal, my family starts betting money that they will sit next to me on the plane.

So, on our recent pilgrimage to our home state for the Thanksgiving holiday, my usual air travel magnetism did not disappoint.

En-route to our turkey destination, there was a belligerent man sitting next to me in the terminal who was bragging loudly about how many shots he’d been getting from the airlines all day. After a full fifteen minutes of this, I exchanged rolled-eye glances with another woman nearby who was also witnessing his glory.  I joked after he left his seat that I would end up next to him on my flight. She knew I was heading to the same place that he was (and she wasn’t) and she wished me Godspeed.  And yes, he ended up two rows directly behind me where I could hear him offering to buy his entire row discounted shots.

On this flight there was a very upset, crying baby directly behind me.  This I could handle because the poor baby wasn’t kicking my seat and I was able to listen to music and tune him out. Also I realize that babies are hard to travel with.  I’ve been there. And mainly, I could tell that the dad with him was trying as hard as he could to comfort him.

On the way home however (after waiting in the airport for a couple of hours due to weather and air traffic delays), I had a yelling, grabbing, kicking, sticky toddler creature directly behind me on our tiny, claustrophobic plane.   He sat next to a man who appeared to be his Grandfather who had no awareness or control of the situation.   This scenario is the expected result of my air travel magnetism.

So, in light of my plethora of experience in this area, here are a few issues with related requests to parents traveling with kids.  I know it’s upsetting that passengers are bothered by your angelic children, but please read the following while imagining that you are in our seat:

Disclaimer: I have two kids and I love them dearly. I realize that they were young once and they certainly weren’t perfect.  I also know that often when kids on airplanes act out, the blame usually falls squarely in the clueless or exhausted parent’s lap, rather than the poor kiddo.

1. Males in charge.  Letting a male adult (dad, grandpa, brother, uncle) be in charge of the baby or toddler on the plane is not a good idea (most of the time).  Moms, I know you are trying to catch a break by getting someone else to be in charge and I also know that this is rather sexist of me to say, but most guys don’t seem to notice when a child in their charge is losing it.  They for sure don’t seem to know how to exhaust the fumes once the tantrum has begun. Save us all some brain cells please and hold the baby.  Maybe a glass of chardonnay will help.

2. Games and movies on Ipads. We’re thrilled you’ve got them busy.  Really we are. But when the volume on those things is on high and the voice of Dora the Explorer is almost as loud as your child’s voice, we want to hurt them both.

3. Baby talk.  We realize you don’t want to miss any opportunity to squeeze in a vocabulary lesson, Mommy.  I bet you have teaching experience.  You’re good at it.  But please save the incredibly loud drawn out baby-talk lessons that point out each plane and cloud in grave detail for a road trip in your car when we don’t all have to take the lesson too. Maybe try talking quietly in your toddler’s ear.  Or get creative with that Chardonnay.

4.  Flying objects.  On my way to Thanksgiving the other day a pacifier from the row behind me landed in my lap out of no where.  I was listening to music with my headphones and trying to doze off, so it scared the heck out of me.  The event did make me laugh a little because of the randomness as I passed it through the seats and handed it to the Dad (who was really working to comfort the little guy).  But in general, try to keep flying objects at a minimum.

5. Space invaders of the toddler kind. Sorry Moms and Dads but unless I am in a particularly good mood, I don’t think your kid is darling as she peers over my seat, drools on my tray and blows snot bubbles at me.  And no, we don’t all want to play peekaboo with your little angel. Please, please, please get them to sit down or to at least try to contain their bodily fluids in your seat area.

6. Seat kicking. Surely you notice that your child is kicking my seat.  Are you just tuning it out?  Or does it not cross your mind that in the same way that it bothers you when people kick your seat, we feel your child kicking our seat at about 13 kicks per minute?  Please try to be aware. Even with my music and earphones, I can’t tune this out.  And my Chardonnay isn’t nearly strong enough to help either.

7. Sticky, grasping hands.  Even if your kid’s hands aren’t that sticky, we don’t really want them to reach out and touch someone, especially us.  The toddler creature behind me on the way home the other day was able to fit his entire head and arm between my seat and the window as he literally grasped my arm.  Once again I was trying to doze off, to no avail.  Grandpa, you can’t tell me you didn’t notice this happening. You seemed awake.  Honestly, the thought of grabbing this little toddler’s arm back did cross my mind — just to mess with him. However, I realized this might cause more screaming or seat kicking.  It was a no-win situation.

8. Kids running loose up and down the aisle.  I’m concerned for you if you think that this is okay because it seems so very obvious.  Even if the seat belt sign is off, please don’t let your kid roam up and down the aisles skipping and yelling.  Not only is it dangerous due to the fact that YOU ARE IN AN AIRPLANE, but it’s also dangerous because I’m guessing I’m not the only one imagining what it would be like if someone tripped them after the thirteenth time they pass our seat .  Plus, it sure doesn’t help the poor flight attendants trying to do their job of serving all of us. Lock ’em up, people.  It’s your job to bring games or snacks to occupy them, not our job or the flight attendant’s job to entertain them.

All snot bubbles and sticky hands aside, if parents and grandparents could just exercise the teensiest bit of common sense and courtesy, and try to be a little  aware of the fellow travelers around the kiddos in their charge, we can definitely all peacefully coexist on an any airplane.  And I’m guessing your kiddo could even develop some wonderful courtesy skills of their own.

You just might even catch me playing peekaboo with your toddler to help you out.

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

cart before

I admit it. I like to find things in other people’s trash.  Not deep in the trash under banana peels or dirty diapers or anything, mind you (I am still a germaphobe), but trash that’s visible from my car as I drive by.

I like to think of it as high-end dumpster diving. Or re-purposing of perfectly salvageable items on their way to the dump via the neighborhood trash truck. Items for which it causes me physical pain to think about them being hoisted up and over the back of the garbage truck cab and tossed into that teetering back heap in pieces.

These dumpster dive treasures call my name and wave me down as I drive by, shouting out to me “Hey, hey you…  Here I am… Yes, me! Isn’t this a shame?  You can’t let this happen, can you?”  They wait for me to slowly turn my car around to take a closer look and that’s when if they had a tail it would certainly start wagging … and in the car they go.

This is why my kids and MacGyver don’t even flinch when once every few months they see a new piece of very questionable looking furniture in the garage.  They know the drill.

Maybe I’m a hoarder, It may be genetic.  But I like to think of it as being a rescuer.

So, when I was driving through my neighborhood a couple of weeks ago and saw this old tea cart out on the curb by someone’s trash cans, I had to stop and perform a rescue mission. Yes, I was already cutting it close for my appointment, but I could hear the roar of the trash truck getting closer and her demise was imminent.

She had badly chipped veneer (under a perfectly quaint and in-tact wood framed glass tray) and she was missing wheels (which the owner was kind enough to set out for the likely rescuer) and she was was scratched, crooked and unsteady as hell.  In the back of my 4Runner she went.   

cart wheel

MacGyver grinned and shook his head as I later pleaded this poor little tea cart’s case and asked for his help in attaching the wheels and leveling her out.  ‘She can make it,’ I explained.

And so it was.  Here are the steps of this ‘little cart-that-could’s rebirth:

1. MacGyver reattached the little wheels under the cart. cart level

2. She was still unsteady due to the odd wheel configuration, so MacGyver worked to level her by adding spacers above her smaller wheels.  I was the assisting nurse, keeping watch on her vitals by watching for the little bubble in the little window of the metal level.

3. Then came the spray paint.  Oh, the glorious spray paint.  I can change the world with a few cans of spray paint.

cart paint

4. I taped and sanded her tray and on the front lawn where I still had good sunlight (my neighbors think I’m nuts) I gave it a few shots of a brilliant, deep red to test out the color.  She started to smile instantly.

5. Then the next day after the glue dried on the little wheels, this little cart got a thorough sanding and a coat of all-over red, except for her big, center wheels which I spray painted black as if they were the black patent shoes she needed for her new, red dress.cart red

6. Her makeover was complete.  She turned out so beautiful in the end that we decided to let her live with us on a permanent basis.  She has found a home in my dining room.

Despite her questionable background,  this little tea cart has made a lovely addition to our family and she seems to be working through her abandonment issues.

It turns out that you just never know what you might find on someone else’s curb on trash day.  And what it could become.  And that, my friends, is the fun of it.

Have you ever dumpster-dived?

Snap. Crackle. Crap.

ImageSo I’ve gone to a personal trainer (I shall call her Firey Ginger) for two weeks now.  Twice last week, twice this week.  This is huge.  She’s been making me actually sweat and breathe heavily and work muscles that my body had almost forgotten how to use.

She is a cute, firey redhead who looks like she could kick my arse in a New York minute if I pissed her off.  And her tattoos make it even more believable.  Which is a good thing since i have the self discipline of Monkey Dog eyeing a slab of bacon.

So I’m feeling better about myself, eating fewer BBQ Lays and even trying to drink more water. (Now I understand how drinking more water helps you feel full.  Took me 30 years to believe that fact.  Better late than never.)

I’m even trying to be more aware of how many calories are in a glass of Chardonnay.  And I’ve realized the grapes really don’t count as fruits.    The potatoes in vodka aren’t veggies either.  For real.

Life is good, I’m feeling good, I’m on a roll.  (Insert sound of stopped record.)

So Firey Ginger says to me yesterday as I’m doing squats, “You know, you might want to have those knees checked out by a doctor or something.  Just in case. They’re pretty loud.”

Crap.  I’ve been noticing how much noise my  knees have been making but hadn’t stopped to realize that the hideous crunching noises have most likely increased since I’ve been working my tail off for an hour at a time with Firey Ginger.  Or it may be because I’m actually doing something physical and my body is in shock.  Either way, ick.

I came home and started doing enough research online to freak myself out.

Several references to crunchy knees had people comparing the sound to Rice Crispies.  Nice.

It seems that I have crepitus, which probably means I’ve lost some cartilage and now things are rubbing together the wrong way.  Could be caused by osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritus, or patellar dysfunction which means my kneecap doesn’t track properly.

Or my legs are going to fall off.  Or something like that.

Either way now I can’t stop hyper-focusing on the sound they make when I go up and down my stairs.  Luckily it doesn’t hurt.  FOR NOW….. BEWARE… all the websites say.  Lovely.

Apparently it’s important to have this checked out so that I do not injure my knees by doing the wrong exercises.

So I have a doctor’s appointment to have my Rice Crispy situation looked at later today.

I’ll bring along a little carton of milk and a spoon, just in case.

More on this at a later date.

Happy Friday.

“Sorry honey, I think you have the wrong mother.”


Little Red Riding Hood’s coat now hangs in her closet.

Before my long weekend get-away, I visited Little Red Riding Hood (aka Mom) in her dementia facility home last week.

My usual feelings of dread – and the pit in my stomach – had been building up as I anticipated my visit. I knew that once I saw her, the pit in my stomach would begin to dissipate into the smaller, more manageable pit that’s taken up permanent residence. Sweet Clone (my youngest son) offered to accompany me.  Having someone with me every now and then takes a little of the sting out of my visits.

We arrived and I punched in the code at the front door, where a much different reality exists beyond the threshold.  This is where I take a deep breath and swallow my trepidation for how the visit may unfold.

These days Little Red Riding Hood doesn’t recognize me. For the last two years she seemed to at least realize that I was someone she knew and someone who was nice to her.  Now it takes more effort to briefly catch her gaze once I track her down.  She’s usually rearranging silverware or dusting a table with a tissue.  Her head hangs low but she walks with surprising agility.

This time as we walked into her area of the facility, her roommate Amy (who scares me a little because she always looks angry even though I don’t think she is), was holding Mom’s arm and leading her toward me.  I just knew she was going to tell me that something was wrong.  (Mom has been irritating some of the other residents lately walking into their rooms and taking her shoes off to stand and gaze at them. I can understand their frustration  even if it isn’t that uncommon around there.)

Instead and to my surprise, after I said hi to Mom and tried to get her attention, Amy held Mom’s arm as if protecting her and told me that I must have the wrong mother.  That Mom couldn’t be my mother because she was actually her daughter.  She inquired about my last name as if to double check but then kept walking with Mom.

Christian, the sweet caregiver, told Mom’s roomate that I was indeed Mom’s daughter and wanted to visit.  She argued again, told me “Sorry, honey, you’ve got the wrong mother. It just can’t be.”  She explained that Mom was her daughter, and that she had not been herself this week, and therefore she needed to be taken care of.  And it was her job to do it.

I looked to Christian and nodded with a smile to let him know it was okay.  I softly touched Amy on the shoulder and thanked her for being so sweet and caring.  Her wide, smoky blue eyes met with mine  and her facial expression lightened, as if she suddenly realized I wasn’t going to take Mom away from her.

After chatting with Christian about how Mom was doing, checking her room and leaving her favorite Russell Stover’s Assorted Creams on her little bedside table, it was time to say goodbye.candy

I caught up with them again and Amy was still holding Mom’s arm lovingly as they strolled around the facility.  I stopped them to give Mom the longest and most loving embrace possible and I told her that I loved her.  I almost, for a second, felt the old her hugging me back.  Or maybe I was trying to wish it to happen.

I leaned down to capture her attention and tell her again how much I loved her.  I got a brief smile but she kept on walking.

Amy looked at me and smiled like she felt badly for me, and told me not to worry, that Mom “just hadn’t been herself lately.”

As we left, I smiled and was grateful that someone new was also watching out for my Little Red Riding Hood.

Rocky Mountain Wry

IMG_4594Visiting Crested Butte for the weekend.

Staying in an old 1800s garage converted into a small house called the License Plate House which is covered in old license plates.IMG_4665

There is an art festival this weekend so there are tents and tents of handmade pottery, ceramics and clothing. Coffee shop next door.  Open patio.   Perfect weather.

Right now I can hear a beautiful wooden pan flute being played by a man set up at a table next door.  I think he’s playing Scarborough Fair. For real.

Hiked Friday on Snodgrass trail. Through the Ancient Aspen Grove.  Surprised I didn’t fall multiple times (given my natural grace) because I was snapping a picture at every turn, in awe of the beauty everywhere.

Biked through a summer rain around Peanut Lake.  Came back covered in mud and laughing.IMG_4666 IMG_4623

Away with Macgyver and the boys.

Wry is happy.  And grateful.


A Different Kind of Moving Day


Moving Day in 1991: MacGyver and I were just married and Connecticut-bound. That little truck was full of hand-me-down furniture from our parents. We just needed streamers and cans tied to the back of our little caravan to make the picture complete.

So many “moving days” flash through my mind like a slideshow in an old Kodak carousel.

Up to this point, moving days that I recall have been full of happy memories.

My nervous anticipation as I unpacked my little red car to move into my first college dorm room.  And the bittersweet excitement I felt when MacGyver and I left my hometown in our little Budget rent-a-truck as newlyweds to drive 1500 miles away and start our life together.

My overflowing sense of pride as we moved into the first little house we purchased years later, and the unbound  joy we felt as we brought our babies home from the hospital and moved them into their newly decorated little rooms.

I can also envision moving my kids to their own college dorm rooms in the not-so-distant future, as hard as that is to believe.  Just imagining  how bittersweet that will feel puts a lump in my throat.

So many moving days filled warm, bittersweet feelings.

Then there’s tomorrow. A move-in day I hadn’t really ever imagined, mostly out of denial. The day I move my Mom into a nursing home.

A wonderful, safe and perfect place for her.  But a nursing home no less.

She doesn’t recognize me much any more and her head has started to hang lower as if  her little neck muscles are starting to give up, so I don’t think she will be sad about the move.  Correction: I pray that she will not be sad, or give me that far-away, but at the same time, not-so-far-away look in her deep, beautiful, soulful brown eyes.

Our roles have now reversed.  And as such, I have written her name in Sharpie on the labels of all of her clothes and towels as I have packed them for her moving day. As if I’m getting ready to take her to camp tomorrow.

It’s all very surreal in so many ways, as the snow spins in the wind outside my window this first day of May.

A new and different kind of ‘moving day’ indeed.

Goldilocks mission for Little Red Riding Hood successful thus far: The dreaded nursing home decision.

little redI haven’t written any posts for more than a week. I’ve been a bit numb from the drain of the last weeks with Mom, or Little Red Riding Hood, as I like to call her on my blog. And I know you readers enjoy my more light-hearted posts. So I’ve been torn about writing about Little Red Riding Hood for the last month or so. But it’s part of my Life on Wry, so I’m sharing a post I wrote today for my other blog, Laughing at Alzheimer’s (because laughing doesn’t’ make my mascara run).  So here we go.

Nursing Home selected. Check. (I’m tired … are you?)

The much anticipated intervention meeting with my Stepdad was successful. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy convincing a man that it’s best for his wife of 30-plus years to be in a nursing home because of the level of care she needs. But the hospice folks helped me get through this difficult conversation. It had to happen. I was losing too much sleep worried about them both.

We ended the meeting with him open to the idea and to hearing about my top choices after researching and touring area nursing homes that were a potential fit.

The next day when I came to help with Mom, I again explained to my Stepdad that I wasn’t trying to be pushy, but that I felt – for various reasons that I explained and probably over-explained – that it was the right thing to do for both of their safety and well being, as hard as it was to formulate those words.  He knew I didn’t take this lightly and that I had been researching options for when the next shoe might drop (after our infection in December sent Mom into a tailspin of decline). He knew my heart was in the right place.

In true Goldilocks style, I have been researching and touring various nursing homes of various sizes with differing amenities and programs. Small, medium, big homes, ones with lots of programming and little programming, ones close to my house and close to my parents’ house, in the lower, medium and higher price ranges.

I participated in these tours almost robotically, as if for a work project for which I was designing a features and benefits grid in order to write a brochure about their differences. I only cried on the way home from the tours a couple of times. It was a completely surreal experience. I wanted to have my sister with me, but it wasn’t an option. She’s been gone for 13 years. This was a solo mission. And she was with me in spirit, I really think she was.

After I went through all of my notes and all of the brochures with my Stepdad he agreed. He said it sounded like I had a favorite and he liked my rationale. I gulped and told him how much pressure that was to be the one to pick and he calmed my nerves and reminded me how much effort I had put forth. Was he really on board? He would go see it with me later in the week (last week) and bring his checkbook for a deposit if it felt right.

Was I hearing him right? Was he really on board? Don’t get me wrong, this took much time and many “come to Jesus” conversations, as I like to call them, over the last couple of years, and more angst than I can even explain. But he knew I seemed more serious this last few months since Mom’s decline. And he knew, in his heart, it was time. But was I actually hearing him agree with me on this subject for which I dreaded the very thought of? Indeed.

I explained to him how one of the nursing homes just felt right to me and I could picture Mom there. How natural it even felt with the Executive Director who gave me the tour. She reminded me of someone dear from my hometown. So many things made it seem like the right place. I drove away dabbing tears and pulling myself together, knowing that it was the place my Mom should be.

I took my Stepdad a couple days later. It was clear to me that he had taken some time to think about this whole issue, and felt even more resolve that the stimulation and care she could receive was what would be best at this point in her decline. I was still in shock that this was really happening and that I had steered our ship to this point.

Tomorrow the ‘assessment team’ from the nursing home will assess her at my parents’ house. To determine her needs, and that the facility is a good fit. Now that we’ve come this far, I only hope it will all go smoothly. I know it’s going to be a rough ride, but surely it can’t be more rough than the last couple of years, right? I’m probably wrong about that aspect, but I still know in my heart it’s what is best.

I’ve already picked out a comforter and curtains for her little room. They have flowers and the colors of pink roses in them like she likes, or liked anyway. And I have a list ready of what all that I will furnish her room with, from photos and knick knacks to her wall calendar and hand lotion. My stomach is wrought with unease, and I wake each morning consumed with guilt and wishing my sister were here to tell me I’m doing the right thing.

We’ll see what tomorrow holds. I’m going to think positively. Besides, that’s what I tell everyone else to do all of the time.

But being a grown-up really does suck sometimes. And it makes me tired.

Wish me luck.

Little Red Riding Hood and the Monkey Palooza

sock monk

Little Red Riding Hood keeps me guessing on her visits. If I turn around for more than a minute, she will nicely rearrange things for me.  Almost always after she leaves on her Wednesday visits, I either find that something is missing or that she has moved something to a strange place.  Almost like my Mom is messing with me, but she has no idea given her Alzheimer’s.  And I have to smile sometimes.

Since we are a dog lover family, we have a basket of dog toys in the living room for our spoiled dogs to access at their leisure. As you can imagine, there is always a dog toy,  or two, or three, strewn across the living room or kitchen floor.  They know who’s in charge here.  They are.

But things on the floor seem to bother my mother, who kept our house the cleanest and most orderly on the block. So she spends a lot of her time here picking up dog toys, leaves and such.  (Less vacuuming for me.)

Our mini Golden Doodle is nicknamed “Monkey Dog” in our house because we’re sure she has opposable thumbs which she uses like a little monkey to scavenge for food and trouble at all times.  So ‘monkey dog toys’ for our Monkey Dog are quite fitting, and thus aplenty in our house.

Last week after my Mom left, I found the sock monkey dog toy in my spoon rest by the stove. Once I figured out that she must have done it, I got such a kick out of it that I left it there for a few days despite how germy it probably was. (I have germaphobe issues.)

Then yesterday after she left, I found another monkey dog toy perfectly positioned in our home computer chair, as if ready to type.  This too cracked me up. I left him there until the kids later moved him.monkeychair

Today I am grateful for our monkey palooza and the smiles that Little Red Riding Hood gives us.

What are you grateful for today?

It ain’t always easy being grateful. Gratitude Experiment: Day 69

As I try to channel Chester Cheetah from the Cheetos commercials, I fully realize that I am truly a lucky person.  I have a wonderful family, a roof over my head and plenty of food on my table. Really, I should have nothing to complain about. But it’s all relative right?

When some days come to a close, I sigh and wonder what I am going to be grateful about when I blog.  And then I feel guilty for thinking that, because relatively speaking, depending on what you compare it to, I’ve got it made.  But where does that thinking end? And let’s face it, we all have our days.  Fortunately, I’m learning that it’s okay to be honest with myself.  And I’m grateful for that.

Today, I ran from point A to point B (and back to point B and then A again so that I could get work done in between), more times than I could count.  I didn’t feel like I got anything accomplished in as complete of a way as I would have liked. I continue to feel guilty about not spending enough time helping with my Mom and I feel like my kids are growing up so fast that I need to soak up every minute of it and teach them everything I can before they leave the nest. But days like today make me feel like I didn’t get to soak up any of it at all, because life got in the way.

Not to mention that tonight’s presidential debate just plain stressed me out.  As a conflict-avoider down deep, these debates cause me angst no matter the outcome.

Much more importantly, today I worried about my oldest son who I am convinced is still having a hard time emotionally since his concussion last spring which kicked his butt and changed his life, athletically speaking, and consequently, self esteem-wise.  I really think more research needs to be done about the link between concussions and depression, and everything in between.  I swear he is not the same kid, emotionally speaking, and it breaks my heart.  I’m trying everything I can think of and taking him to every kind of specialist I can think of, but my heart still knows he is far from himself. And this makes me sad, and tired on days like today.

On the flip side, my youngest son put on a heck of a show in his theater arts class at school this morning, and I was so very proud of him.   I think he is truly an actor down deep in that body with a face that is a clone of mine. And I can tell it makes him truly happy to make others laugh. This is what I am most grateful for today.

And the fact that my family, near and far, is safe and sound tonight.

I’m also grateful, for you, my loyal readers, and your patience with the ups and downs of my blogging catharsis.

Sleep tight.

Mike Foxtrotter, this has to stop! Gratitude Experiment: Day 51

This morning I was running late for a meeting and getting ready far too late to comfortably make it in time.  And that’s usually when it starts.  Words that would make most people blush begin to fly out of my mouth as I fumble for my mascara and search for my iphone that invisible elves continue to misplace every morning when I need to leave the house.

This is all much to my husband’s amusement.  He often laughs quietly (for fear of his life), sometimes muttering that he thinks he would hear less cursing if he were suiting up in marine barracks each morning.

Today after my explosive rant while hurriedly applying makeup with one eye on the clock, searching for my phone  and changing clothes at the same time, he suggested that I might think about substituting my litany of four-letter words with military alphabet terminology:  “Foxtrot!  Where’s my mike foxtrotting phone?  Delta it.”

Yesterday after I broke a glass in the dishwasher and exclaimed a few niceties, he asked,”Is that how Honey Boo Boo would say it?”   This is getting serious.  I know I need to clean up my act.

At least I’m becoming more aware and I think I have some semblance of control.  I actually do know when to limit my Sierras, Foxtrots and Deltas in certain circumstances when it would be totally out of line.  So why am I unable to harness that kind of self control more often?  Maybe I need to be checked in somewhere.

This afternoon I asked my almost sixteen year old son if I cursed too much.  When he told me “Well, yes Mom, you do, but it’s sort of but it’s funny.”  I threw out a curse word before asking he was serious.  “Sierra… am I that bad?”  I didn’t even realize the irony.

In a fellow blogger’s recent post, Cursing: An Editorial Style Guide (http://imissyouwheniblink.com/2012/04/26/cursing-an-editorial-style-guide/), his guidelines for optimum profanity usage are explained.

Below is rule number one:


1. Show some ingenuity.

Contrary to what you may have heard, using profanity isn’t necessarily a lazy way of speaking or writing. Using the wrong profanity is lazy. Choose all words with equal care, I say. My mother, who by the way is one of the classiest dames you’ll ever meet, has been known to brandish curse words in entirely unique ways, inventing whole new parts of speech. She always has the right expression for a situation. For example, walking into an unkempt room: “Holy shitstorm, it looks like the ass end of destruction in a typhoid whorehouse around here.” [Exit with flourish.] What does it even mean? I don’t know. But somehow I can picture it. She is a genius. Always be creative and specific.


I can only hope that one day my boys will refer to the ingenuity of my profanity with the admiration that this blogger has for his mother’s.  I know my college roommates have that kind of admiration for me to this day. I had some doozies my freshman year. They still quote me on a couple of key phrases that broke records for profanity ingenuity.

Today I am grateful that at times I am self-aware enough to know when I need to work on improving my less than ideal habits.  And for my family’s patience while I do so.  Thanks for reading!

Watch out for flying pumpkins. Gratitude Experiment: Day 50

by Scenic Reflections

Warning: The following post is a work of NONfiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are NOT products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely real. (This actually happened to me and I am not making it up.)

October has arrived and I am starting to see Halloween decorations in all the stores. Each October for the last 30 years (except for the last two), my Mother has sent me a Halloween card that says “Watch out for flying pumpkins!” She probably bought the cards, as well as some little Halloween gifts, at least eight months in advance and had everything wrapped, stamped and ready to go each year on September 1st.

Halloween is my favorite holiday when the semi-suppressed kid in me goes hog-wild decorating with creepy stuff that scares really little kids. But I must admit the lack of that tradition of a card for this last couple of years has been bittersweet since the Alzheimer’s grim reaper came to visit.  At any rate, I  tell this story at least once a year explaining why my Mom always sent me a card that said “Watch out for flying pumpkins” each year.

As I was growing up, one of my closest friends was almost as big of a freak as I was.  Actually a few were but I’m going to focus on one of them for now. I had a way of attracting them.

In sixth grade, we didn’t want to admit that we still had closets full of Barbie condos, cars and outfits, so we began disrobing them and being creepier than we already were.  We would prop them up on mailboxes and trees naked on the path between our houses ( she lived up the hill a good ten or so houses away).  We always attached notes with disturbing sentiments to amuse each other. That way whichever of us was walking would have to see them and collect them for reuse at another date. (We brought Barbie arms to each other’s weddings for photo opps of Barbie’s arm in our wedding cakes.)

We even put one in the middle of the road one time with ketchup on it like it had been run over.  Cranky Mrs. Clapp from across the street (our version Mrs. Kravitz) found me less than amusing and came and told my mother about it. What a buzz kill.  Fortunately my mother already knew I was warped.  It was in the genes.

At any rate, one year my friend and I wanted to go trick-or-treating even though we were in the 9th grade.  We wanted to be those creepy way-too-old kids that come to the door for candy and make people want to lock the door early.  Clearly we thought we were hilarious.

I wore a super realistic (or I thought so at the time) ‘old man’ mask and a man’s sports coat, and used a golf club as my cane.  I cant’ remember what my friend’s get-up was, but I’m thinking she was equally disguised so no one would realize what freak geeks we were trick-or-treating in high school.

As we strolled up and down the streets on our neighborhood Halloween haunt, suddenly a speeding car came racing by us. It kept turning around at the end of the street and racing by us again.   It was a navy blue Honda Prelude (I can’t believe I remember but I can see it now). It was a 1980s version before they came out with the new body style which I thought was super cool.  (The new body style had a “moon roof” and I used to tape magazine ads of it up around my dad’s office and house to give subtle hints of my auto preferences.)

Anyway, about the third or fourth time the Honda Prelude zoomed by us, I decided ( in keeping with my character) to wave my cane in the direction of the car and yell “Slow down you meddling kids!” full-on Hanna Barbera style.

The next thing I knew I woke up on a couch at my neighbor’s house.  The house that now had splattered pumpkin all over the driveway.  Luckily they called my Mom and when I came to, she was staring down at me as I lay on the couch.  My friend had probably crapped her pants by now thinking I might be dead, I can’t remember.  But I’m thinking she’ll remember when she reads this post.

I had a gash on my nose from where the stem of the pumpkin made its impact and it knocked me out cold. Those meddling kids had been throwing pumpkins out of their speeding car that night (super smart, almost as smart as I was yelling at a car and waving my fake cane).  My mom and her boyfriend (now my stepdad) drove me to the Emergency Room in his super cool white Firebird. As we walked in , I kid you not, my mom said to the nurses at the front desk “My daughter’s been hit by a flying pumpkin.”

The nurses at the station did everything in their power not to break out into hysterical laughter at my expense. I was sort of out of it, but that part I will never forget. Complete teenage mortification was in process and it was only getting started.

I got to miss school that next day.  The ER doc told them I had a concussion.  I sort of remember my Mom waking me up in the middle of the night to make sure I was breathing.

Word got around school about what had happened to me.  Nice, my nerd cover was WAY blown.  Turns out the person who threw the pumpkin was an upperclassman named Doug that I sort of had a crush on (I promise I am not making this up).  What are the odds? Word got around that my dad was a lawyer, so he got scared and called me at my house to apologize.  That was a super fun conversation to have with an upper classman.  I was mortified.

It all ended well and makes a great story to tell that explains the “Watch out for flying pumpkins” cards.  I am grateful that I survived the Pumpkin Incident (sounds like a Charlie Brown holiday special)  even though I miss receiving that card every year. I’m also celebrating my 50th post – half way through my 100-day gratitude challenge!   What are you grateful for today? Thanks so very much for reading!

Top 10 Reasons Not To Have Petite Friends If You’re Not Petite. Gratitude Experiment: Day 48

I will preface this post with a note that I am not of Amazonian proportions. In fact,  I am an average sized person if not a tad less bulky than average.  But growing up in my family, 5’7″ actually was Amazonian.    I towered over my mother and sister for much of my life.  Yes, they were short, cute, petite little buggers and I heard quite a few wisecracks from them over the years (although it was advantageous to be taller than your older sister).

As an adult,  I have formed wonderful friendships with a few petite, some might even say tiny, friends. But I’ve realized this doesn’t do my vain ego any favors.  Too late to change direction on those friendships for sure, but I can apply these findings to potential petite pals in the future.

At any rate, here’s why:

1. There is no way I can be in a photo with these petite pals and not look like I am a giant who is getting ready to eat them.

2. I’m destined to have a “big eater” complex at restaurants with them whenever I reach for the breadbasket (let alone the New York Strip and loaded mashed potatoes).

3. My large head,  especially next to them, looks freakishly out of proportion in photos — especially if, heaven forbid, I end up in the foreground of the photo.

4 . There’s not any clothes swapping or borrowing going on with these mini mates.

5.  If I was to try on their jewelry – their rings would barely fit my pinky finger I’m pretty sure.  Not an ego booster.

6. There’s not any shoe swapping going on with these bite size buddies either.  And I’m convinced that shoe manufacturers either produce less attractive shoes in size 9, or they just look far less attractive when that long.

7. Sometimes aforementioned photos end up on Facebook and I wonder if it’s because I make them look great by size comparison.

8 .  There is the distinct possibility of jail time for me after violent reactions to any one of them complaining about feeling too big or fat (even though I know it’s all relative).

9. Few clothing items that look good on my pint size pals will look good on me when found in my size.  Let’s face it, clothing designers like the way their clothes look on small framed people and they design them that way.

10. When in photos with these friends, I usually have to lean or kneel down a bit so that I don’t tower over them or end up out of the picture frame.  This usually ends up creating an even more awkward looking photo — like I have a hunchback or spinal curvature condition.  Super sexy.

That Randy Newman Short People song kept going through my head as I was writing this post.  I wondered what his motivation was for the lyrics and thought about how controversial and mean it would sound today.  After a little research, it turns out that he was referring to people with short tempers who are small-minded.   Or that’s his story and he’s sticking to it.

Today, despite my whining, I am very grateful for all of my friends, large and small.  And for my readers, short and tall.

If you aren’t registered to vote, quit reading my blog and register. Gratitude Experiment: Day 42

While more countries than ever around the world are fighting for the right to vote, the United States has one of the lowest voter turnouts of any comparable wealthy countries.

According to Pew Center Research, 51 million people are eligible to vote but are not registered.

Of those polled by CNN, 26% said they were too busy to get themselves on the voter rolls. Twelve percent said their vote wouldn’t count anyway, and 10% said they just didn’t want to get registered.

Even more sobering are estimates that only 75 percent of registered voters will actually cast a ballot this fall.

In a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll of people in the United States who are eligible to vote, eight in 10 say the government plays an important role in their lives. Yet these same people say that the odds are 50-50 that they will even vote.

The main reasons cited are that they are too busy, they just aren’t excited about either candidate, they think their vote doesn’t really matter, or my favorite – nothing ever gets done anyway.

However a look back at history not very long ago shows just how many have fought and sacrificed to establish the right for all citizens in our country to vote.  And it makes this lack of concern distressing, to say the least.

When the US was founded, only white men with property could vote. By 1869, the 15th Amendment guaranteed the right to vote to black men (but it wasn’t until 1965, after much suffering and violence, that literacy tests, as well as many other tactics to dissuade voters of certain races or colors, including violence, were banned).

And it wasn’t until 1920 – less than 100 years ago — when all women in the U.S. could vote, after 50 years of suffragists being beaten, jailed and treated like traitors for wanting the right to vote.

So when I hear that the top reasons given by unregistered voters and by registered voters not planning to vote is that they are too busy or they don’t think it matters, it gets me a little hot under the collar.

Today, on national register to vote day –  as voter registration deadlines loom –  I am grateful for my right to vote and the fact that I realize it does matter.

(For information on voter registration and where candidates stand on various issues, see votesmart.org. For your state’s voter registration deadline visit: http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Voting.shtml.)