Friday, May 29, 2009

700 miles

Last weekend, I packed the kid and two suitcases into my little Hyundai Accent and prayed that she could maintain a speed of at least 50 mph while climbing a hill. Between Jacksonville and Rock Hill, South Carolina, there are alot of hills. Personally, I like to call them mountains but I know that real mountain people would laugh at me. To my surprise, Ramona handled the mountains quite well.

(Ramona is my car. Of course, I name them. My last one was Carmen Elantra. Her mileage was running pretty high and she was on the verge of being dragged into the woods and shot but, because I'm a decent person, I decided to trade her in for loyalty points with the local Hyundai dealer.)

When I left Jacksonville on Saturday the 23rd, most of Florida had already endured 10 straight days of rain. And while the majority of the year is devoted to hurricane survival and fire prevention, nobody quite knew how to handle the 10+ inches of rain that inundated the city without a break in the weather. No sunshine, no blue skies. Just a constant cloud of depression and mood-altering grayness and the self-realization that one could never live in the Pacific Northwest. We are Floridians, for cryin' out loud!!! We need our sunshine! So I, along with my favorite roadtripping co-pilot (the Kid), gassed up the Little Engine That Could and got the hell outta Dodge.

I was greeted with a 3-minute display of sunshine in Walterboro, South Carolina. That's it. And by the time I arrived in Rock Hill, it was decided that I was the bearer of bad weather. Never in my three visits to Rock Hill (so far) has the weather been enjoyable. It's either warm and rainy or 40 degrees and rainy. My best friend declared, "I'm starting to think it's you."

After spending the weekend with my best friend, my brother, and the only guy I could possibly get a date with within 350 miles, I packed up the kid again and we said our goodbyes. With the entire day all to ourselves and three interstate changes in our future, there was no telling where we'd decide to park the car and explore the treasures of some unknown small town. My XM Radio trial period had ended that morning and I was suddenly the Trivia Master to my daughter's Quiz Machine.

"Mommy, tell me about China."
"Mommy, tell me about Texas."
"Mommy, tell me about Abrahan Lincoln."
"Mommy, tell me about Hitler."

What? Well, okay. I decided she was old enough to know the basics of world history and how tyrannical leaders have been found hiding in poorly dug holes with bags of Doritos and their bodies sore from trembling at the thought of being confronted by The American Soldier. Yes, she asked about Saddam Hussein. Or, specifically, Saddamassan, but I knew who she was talking about.

Because it was Memorial Day, we decided to stop in Pooler, Georgia, to visit the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum. I can't begin to describe the atmosphere in that building, even though, at the time, I was completely unaware that my grandfather was a part of this. Military veterans from every branch volunteer their time and knowledge (and, if you're lucky, a story of their own personal war experience) to guide visitors through what has been called one of the "most powerful museum experiences" in the country. I will agree with that as I had to offer a tissue to the crying woman who sat next to me in what was known as the simulator. She thanked me for my kindness and introduced herself to me as "a widow".

It's hard to complain about anything after meeting someone who lost her everything.

(Mighty 8th Air Force Memorial Gardens - Pooler, Georgia)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

They're ALL created from nonsense!

My daughter's homework assignment was to write a story using her spelling words. For some reason, Elle didn't want to show me.

So I whipped out ye olde "Because I said so!!" command and she allowed me to read her story. Aaaah, the power of parenthood!

It's wonderful. (The story and the power of parenthood!)

"But, mommy, it sounds like nonsense!"

"Elle, have you ever heard of two parents who leave their children in the woods with a loaf of bread so they can be eaten by some endangered bear species only to end up discovering a house made out of delicious gingerbread and inhabited by some crazy old bat!?!?!"

Blank stare.

My point has been made.


The Skunk and The Lost Key

Once upon a time there was a skunk who lost his key so he couldn't hop anymore and he wouldn't lose anything. When he heard an odd sound he sang along. He followed the voice and went the wrong way. It was a lady. An evil lady. She sleeps on a cot. She was the one who was holding the key and she called it a jobkey. The evil lady dropped the key in the lake and the skunk caught it. He lived happily ever after.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pool. Eat. Sleep. Hug. Cry. Drive home.

A sad event brought a friend of mine down to Jacksonville this weekend. A friend whom I've known for sixteen years, as she reminded me around midnight on Night 1 of our weekend of slack. We didn't completely engage in slack. She has a baby to care for and I have a seven-year-old to care for. And I did come home while DeAnna and Delilah went to the funeral so I could get the oil changed in my car and finish a few loads of laundry. So, no...there probably was no slacking going on. But with all of our time in the pool and hanging out with cute kids and enjoying the company of my ever-elusive friend, Carolina, it is hard to remember that I did anything remotely productive this weekend.

Delilah & Elle

Elle & Delilah

Carolina, DeAnna, Delilah, and me (Elle was the photographer!)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

There are a million reasons to feel old. Here are a few:

Elle: "Mommy, maybe you have lines on your butt 'cause you're old."
(No. I have lines on my butt because I gave you precious life while you sucked away at my insides for nine months.)

Elle: "Mommy, you put colors in your hair because you don't want to look old because you are old. But it works and I think you're pretty."
(I can't argue with this. Putting color in my hair does make me feel pretty.)

Elle: "Mommy, your butt is getting big."
(Thank you, Elle. After having spent thirty years at a weight of ninety-five pounds or below, being told my butt is getting bigger is quite the compliment.)

Elle: "Mommy, sometimes you act like your sixty years old."
(Well, after coloring my hair and admiring my widening, stretchmarked ass, I'm allowed to take a break.)

DeAnna: "Wow. Sixteen years. I met you when I was fourteen."
(Oh. My. God. Has it been that long? At least we can grow old together.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Have you washed your hands today?

Because I am the Senior Secretary/Glorified Coffee-Maker/Under-appreciated Master of Office Supplies for my department, I get to choose who gets what color Post-It notes, how many reams of paper will be available on any given day, and how many toner cartridges are kept on the top of the cabinet or the side of the cabinet.

(I know. It's so easy to be jealous of me. But you, too, can be this successful one day!)

Other fun things about my job (other than, of course, the gobs and gobs and gobs of respect I'm given (she says sarcastically)) include my frequent dealings with the dreamy FedEx delivery guy and my absolute control over whether I'll be ordering Ocean Mist or Spring Bloom scented Purell hand sanitizer from OfficeMax.

Except OfficeMax emailed me last week to tell me the Ocean Mist scented hand sanitizer is out of stock and on backorder. For up to three weeks! Ok, this isn't a big deal as OfficeMax is loaded with other scents and brands of hand sanitizer. So I cancelled my backorder for Ocean Mist and re-ordered with the Spring Bloom, which I preferred anyway because it's a really pretty shade of pink. But then OfficeMax emailed me again to tell me the Spring Bloom scented hand sanitizer is out of stock and on backorder. For up to two weeks!

Wait. What? Why? Oh...(groan), that's why.

Yes, folks. The OfficeMax representative informed me that their warehouses are completely sold out of all brands/sizes/scents of hand sanitizer since the Pigs in Space have unleashed their deadly strain of nuclear Swine Flu on the masses of unsuspecting (and easily panicked!) Americans and other Earthlings.

swine flu and pooh bear Pictures, Images and Photos

Let's keep in mind that your normal, run-of-the-mill strain of influenza kills tens of thousands of Americans every year. But swine flu? This calls for a National Handwashing Day. Whatever it takes...whatever it takes.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


A 7-year-old placed in a class with teenagers, an unfortunate meeting between her head and a bar, and a heartbreaking display of stress at the overwhelming nature of the balance beam during her gymnastics presentation...and yet she wiped her tears, walked right over to the bars, and pulled it off like a champ.

Her coach even called Elle her "little bar girl".

I'm so proud!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Destination Unknown

Oh, c'mon! Sing along...

Life is so strange
Destination unknown
When you don't know
Your destination
Something could change
It's unknown
And then you won't know
Destination unknown

-Missing Persons

I love that song.

Anyway, I have a problem. Our little circle of friends tries to get together whenever the opportunity presents itself (You're driving through Virginia? Stay at my place! OR When you pass through Columbia, South Carolina, call me. We'll have breakfast!). Because of my nomadic childhood in the military, I made friends that eventually had to move away. Then I moved away. Go figure, now we're everywhere. It's hard to get us all in one place. But, it happens. With some work and some organization and some kind of plan.

The plan. Oh, yeah. A plan. Did anyone this year put one together? Not really. Well, yes. But did we stick to the plan? Nope. Now there's a problem.

The plan in 2006: Savannah, Georgia. Friends from Florida, Maryland, and South Carolina.
The plan in 2007: Charleston, South Carolina. Friends from Florida, Maryland and South Carolina.
The plan in 2007 (PART II!): Savannah, Georgia. Again. Just friends from Florida and South Carolina.
(Are you seeing a pattern here? We needed to step up the number of participants.)
The plan in 2008: York, South Carolina. Friends from Florida and Virginia.
The plan in 2008 (PART II!): Byron, Georgia: Friends from Florida and Maryland.
The plan in 2008 (PART III!): York, South Carolina. Friends from Florida and DeAnna's womb (Delilah was born in May of 2008.)


The plan for summer 2009: Jekyll Island, Georgia. Friends from Florida, South Carolina, Maryland, and Texas. Five adults and seven kids.

Oh, yeah. We forgot to book the rooms a few months ago. Actually, we didn't forget. I just put it off. "Let's wait to see if anyone else can make it!" Now the rooms are running at least $169 per night. And because there are so many of us, we cannot just book two rooms like we originally planned (there's that damn plan again!). Now we have to book three rooms and split that cost four ways (two of the five adults are married to each other), but Jekyll Island is too much money.

So I've thrown a few options out to my high school pals to see if they're open to moving to a new location. Suggestions include Tybee Island, Ga., St. Augustine, Fl., Savannah, Ga. (been there, done that 3 times), or Helen, Ga. - a small Bavarian mountain village north of Atlanta. It totally goes against the whole We Don't Live in Florida Like Dena Does So We Want The Beach vacation that we all had in mind a few months ago but it's inexpensive, has tons of water fun, and actually has quite a few activities for families. And if you forgot how many kids were going to be there, here's a reminder: seven. SEVEN!! All between the ages of 1 and 13.

Does anyone else have any other suggestions? We're looking for a family-friendly vacation area (east coast/southeast) that offers lodging for regular people. No resorts or week-long condo rentals here. We're of the hotel/motel crowd. Of course we won't sleep in a hotel that rents by the hour. We do have standards.

On a semi-related note, check out the website for Destination Unknown Journals. I came across this site when I was looking up the song lyrics and fell in love with some of these designs. $40 for a journal is craaazaaay, but they're pretty. This one's my fave:


Anyway, I'd love to hear your suggestions!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I recently read some quote about facing one's fears, to not let the things we are afraid of run our lives. I'm afraid of things. We all are. Some of those things are understandable (flying, falling, drowning) while others are slightly...well, irrational, such as my fear of throwing up (nobody likes that!) and, phew...

Oh, this is hard, folks. Really. Because this thing freaks me the f$*! out.

Do you remember wondering what it was that really lurked under your bed when you were a child? Can you recall that sick feeling that completely overwhelmed your insides and made your body so tense that it was actually hard to breathe without crying or calling for your mommy?

(Ok, so stay with me here! Because this thing I fear actually gives me that sick feeling in my stomach. And I probably won't be able to sleep tonight, but I'm trying to be a big girl.) So here goes:

Sloth Pictures, Images and Photos
three-toed sloth

Sweet Jaysus!!!!!! I'm 32 and that still makes me want to cry. My stomach is in knots just having to search through images of those damn things (thankfully I can't see the picture while I'm writing this - it's only HTML code I'm staring at). I'd rather walk barefoot in a room thick with slithery snakes than have one of these things anywhere near me. Looking at me. I mean, look at it! It's got this creepy little face and this body that is so....God, I don't know. This thing reminds me of that little black-haired girl from The Ring when she began crawling out of the TV.

I'm gonna go watch Ace of Cakes and get my Duff-on. Hopefully that will settle my stomach.

I know, it's silly. But I remember some television therapist saying that the best way to start confronting your fears is to speak the word, then look at pictures, then video...yaddayaddayadda. I stop at the pictures.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Finding my roots

Sure. You can laugh at my picture. I suck at technical stuff and quite honestly don't know any other way to show you what I'm talking about in this here post without drudging up actual tooth pictures from the Internets. And, trust me, those actual tooth pictures can be downright disgusting.

So I drew a picture for you instead.

See the Normal Tooth? He's the Happy Tooth (that's why he's smiling!). He is normal because he has three roots like any normal molar has. Three. And they're straight. Three straight roots. Normal. Happy.

See the Freak Tooth? He's the Grumpy Tooth (that's why he's frowning!). He is grumpy because he has the normal three roots plus an extra root that magically fused with one of the other three roots and they had a baby root and somehow there's a straight, parallel root that runs along the top where the jawline meets the palate and...LET'S STOP AND DO A RECOUNT!! 3 + extra + baby + parallel = 6. Six. And they're not straight. They're HOOKED. Except for the parallel root that totally stumped the dentist who said he's "pretty sure" it won't cause a problem later on(because he can't get to it on the roof of my mouth - he's an endodontist, not a magician!).

Well, I'm "pretty sure" that root canal was the most painful, traumatic experience of my life. Three entire thingies (I don't know what they're called) of the numbing gun and then direct injections of lidocaine into each root as the drilling required. Drilling. Into roots! That weren't NUMB!!!!!!

And because my teeth are freaks of nature, I'm thinking of donating my body (at least my mouth) to the University of Florida's College of Dentistry when I die. Which I actually wished for more than once today.

Has anyone seen my Lortab???!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The view from here...

Well, it ain't so bad!!!!


The kids and I headed out at 9 o'clock IN THE MORNING! This guaranteed me a good seat on the beach and a good chance of getting home early enough to do other things today. Like sit in front of my computer and type! I am listening to some really good music right now so it's not a bad thing being right here.

We were lucky enough to show up when the tide was out and it had left a wonderful little pool (more like a small stream as it even had a northward current and little tiny fishies!) for the girls to play in.



This meant that I could turn my chair toward the beach and the sun and close my eyes...except when those two really nice looking tattooed guys had to chase after the runaway football. I promise I didn't take pictures of them because that would just be weird. But I should have.

It was just a beautiful day.

Could it get any better?!?!!

Why, yes. Yes it can!


Ha! They fell asleep. Now it's my turn.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

I should probably tell this kid's mother

Sleep is not going to happen tonight. For me, for Elle, for anyone in this house, including her. Her being my daughter's sleepover guest.

Poor Little J. Her mother dropped her off at my house around dinnertime and reminded me of Little J's odd sleeping behaviors, such as talking, screaming, mumbling, giggling, and sometimes even hysterically laughing. I was told to just ignore it. It happens most nights (one of the above behaviors or a combination of some). Okay, I can deal with that.

That is, unfortunately, not what I'm dealing with tonight. Little J is fast asleep and coughing like mad. I noticed her coughing alot just a few minutes after her mother left and I had to ask her if she was sick. Little J said no. So I did a rundown of basic cold/flu symptoms:

headache - no
sneezing - no
runny nose - no
sensitive skin - no
itchy eyes - no
just the cough - check

What gives? She was fine when she got here. I remember asking Little J's mom if she was allergic to anything (I'm never in the mood to deal with anaphylactic shock) and the answer was no. But soon after another one of Little J's coughing spells, a little lightbulb flickered above my head and I asked her another very important question: Do you have any pets?

Yes. She does have pets. No. They don't make her cough like this. Holy crap, is this kid allergic to my house? I mean, she's still coughing. And sleeping through it (which is really weird because these are some hardcore coughing spasms, methinks). I'm even checking on her every 20 minutes or so to make sure she hasn't thrown up from coughing so hard. When I took Elle and Little J to the park earlier this evening, Little J was fine. She was running and laughing and playing chase and...oh my goodness, she was not coughing.

Until we came back home. To my three pets and all of their fur. Like I said, the girls are having a sleepover and, to keep them both together, I have them camped out on the living room floor with tons of blankets and pillows to make it all soft and cushiony (as soft and cushiony as a carpeted living room floor can be). Floor. FLOOR!! Where the fur is resting. Next to my girls' heads.

I vaguely remember she told me about her hamster (he's dead now), then she told me about her toy poodle.

Poodle! You mean, the hypoallergenic breed? I think our mystery is solved.

How to waste a beautiful day

1. Wake up late.

2. Spend 10 minutes in the bathroom wondering if the Nair for Sensitive Skin will work better than last year's attempt at hair removal with regular Nair.

3. Spend 10 minutes in the shower blasting cold water on your legs that were literally set on fire by Nair for Sensitive Skin (which, obviously, does not work better than regular Nair).

4. Spend 10 minutes trying to shave your legs with a razor and sensitive skin shave gel before you remember that your skin was burned off completely.

5. Spend an hour caressing your smooth legs. Beauty equals pain, people.

6. Go to Starbucks with a headache and order a grande Iced Caramel Macchiato for yourself and a box of organic chocolate milk for the kid. Squeal in delight when the barista gives you your drink for free because you're "always here and we don't want you to go broke."

7. Fire up the Internet with a renewed hope in mankind and the job market.

8. Sigh in despair as the clock creeps closer and closer to nighttime which, on this night, will be spent with your daughter and her best friend. Remember last time how giggly they were? Yeah, they're older now. And louder. And gigglier.

9. Realize after 3 hours of internet job hunting that you will be stuck in your current job until retirement age.

10. Blog while the sun is still out and the air is still warm and remember where the sidewalk chalk is. Go outside and enjoy what's left of the day.

Tomorrow: THE BEACH.

Friday, May 1, 2009

When I am the leader of my own island, these people (and others like them) will not be allowed to live there

My daughter wasn't allowed to pick out her own clothes until she was halfway through Kindergarten and even then I had the last word. That sleeveless camo dress with the bedazzled black leggings? No, ma'am! In fact, just this past weekend, Elle was given the opportunity for the first time ever to choose the haircut & style of her choice (pending my approval, of course). My daughter's going into the 2nd grade and, while I think I have given her many of the freedoms that I was never given as a child, I still believe there are just some decisions that should be left to me. Her mother, the adult (stop laughing!!). The one who is so undeserving of this awesome job of making sure she stays happy, healthy, and safe.

Maybe I'm stirring up a hornet's nest with what I'm about to say but why, oh why, are we letting our kids behave like grownups? And not only that, but why are we encouraging them to behave like grownups? I was recently confronted with the fact that not all parents are on the same parenting page as I am. Actually, we're not even in the same book.

As it turns out, Elle's been handing out our phone number to her little girlfriends at school and one of her friends actually called. When her mother was told that I do not allow my daughter to talk on the telephone because I think she's too young, she asked, "Well, how old is she?"

"She's only seven."

"My daughter's seven and I let her talk on the phone," said the mom.

Well, damn! Do you make sure she fills up the gas tank when she borrows the car, too?

My point is that I cannot possibly imagine what two 7-year-old girls would need to discuss over the phone that cannot be discussed at school.

RING!!! RING!!! (...says the imaginary phone!)
Little Girl #1: "Hi."
Little Girl #2: "Hi!"
LG #1: "What are you doing?"
LG #2: "Nothing. What are you doing?"
LG #1: "Nothing."
LG #2: "Are you gonna wear your pink capris tomorrow? I'll wear mine if you do. Then we can be twins."
LG #1: "Okay."
LG #2: "I gotta go."
LG #1: "Okay. Bye."
Lg #2: "Bye."

Now wasn't that fascinating?

This phone call thing actually happened a few weeks ago. I didn't really think too much about it until this morning, though, when I read about this woman in England who allowed her 10-year-old daughter to act like she wasn't 10-years-old by sticking her in an unmanned tanning bed. Why? Because her daughter wanted to know what is was like. Well, what was it like? It's a little bit like this: 70% of her body was burned, nearly to the point of requiring skin grafts. The worst part is that this little girl has been advised - NO! instructed - to stay out of direct sunlight for

So much for her childhood. Good job, Mom!

Now I understand, as I am also a parent (a clueless parent), that we sometimes make poor decisions, bad decisions, really stupid decisions. But I try to never forget that I am her mother (not the other way around!).

Unfortunately, this woman in England is asking the public to join her while she sees to it to have all unmanned tanning salons shut down. You know what else needs to be shut down? Parents who don't take responsibility for their own stupidity.