Friday, July 18, 2014

This might sting a little

All I had to do was pull a few weeds.

And now I think I have the Ebola Virus.

Yeah, I know. It’s not something transmitted by plants.

But I don’t care.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.


My assignment was a simple one - pull a few weeds around plants in the yard. I didn’t even have to get all of them. Just the little buggers that had grown too closely to the pretty flowers and bushes.

My husband, armed with some new fancy, schmancy organic weed killer, would then kill all the rest of the dastardly weeds in an ala Dirty Harry, Make My Day kinda way.

No big deal, right?


Unless...well, unless someone...I’m not saying who...put her hand somewhere she shouldn’t have and had an allergic reaction to something she never should have put her hand into in the first place.

Got it?

And, no, I wasn’t wearing gloves. It was just a few weeds, right? Only wusses wear gloves to pull a few weeds.


I looked down at the side of my right index finger where a blister the size of a Buick had busted and torn away, leaving a large flap of skin hanging in the wind.

Some type of bodily essence (I’m not sure what exactly) oozed from the wound. And since I hadn’t been wearing the aforementioned gloves when the darn blister made its appearance and broke, there was a ton of dirt and grime and other nastiness coating the entire thing.

Hands down, one of the grossest things I’d ever seen.

And I’ve given birth, people. Seen a new baby, covered in all the goop and slime of childbirth, recently expelled from my uterus. Moving on....

At least only one of the blisters had ruptured. The rest caused by the allergic reaction were currently behaving themselves. So that was good.

My husband wasn’t home, and the 9-year-old pansy insisted, “Owies creep me out.” Not so good.

So it was up to me to serve as my own EMT. Sure, I’m not gonna be that guy who cut off his arm to free himself when he got stuck while rock climbing, but I can handle a blister.


It’s a bad sign when there are three large bottles of hydrogen peroxide in the house, and all of them expired before 2008.

I was up the proverbial creek at this point, but I needed to clean the darn thing before it got any worse.

I turned on the faucet and stuck the raw wound under the running water. Bad idea, I know, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

And apparently a girl’s gotta throw up.

The streaking hot pain shot through my hand, up my arm then into my stomach where I just about tossed my breakfast all over the bathroom floor.

Screw this. There’s no need to live in the Dark Ages, people.

A quick call to my mom-in-law - since my husband was still AWOL - meant a new bottle of hydrogen peroxide was on its way.


In all fairness, a little hydrogen peroxide isn’t a big deal.

Shortly after college I went rollerblading for the first - and only - time. After a few short blocks on level streets, I’d suddenly decided I was a kickass rollerblader and could do hills too.

...For the record, I was not a kickass rollerblader.

I soon limped back home with a new respect for gravity and a swathe of road rash down my thigh.

Fresh out of college with no medical insurance meant I had to take care of it myself, and the only thing I had to clean it with was a bottle of rubbing alcohol.

So, yeah, I poured half of it onto my cheese grater-looking thigh.

I’ll be honest with you.

It stung. More than just a little bit. I cursed a few times then passed out in the bathtub where my roommates found me two hours later.

But I survived. And I will survive this blister too.

However, don’t think for a New York lovin’ minute I’m ever gonna weed (or rollerblade) again.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Even though the passage of Title IX in 1972 opened more doors for female athletes, the effects had yet to trickle down to my small Midwestern town when I was a tow-headed, six-year-old tomboy in 1979.

We had a soccer league, but due to the lack of interest from the XX chromosome group, the few girls who signed up had to play with the boys.

I was sometimes the only girl on a team, which usually meant I got to hold the soccer ball in the team photo and pick where we’d go for our post-game snack.

Life was pretty good.

For 11 years, I lived with sprained ankles and bruised shins and loved every minute of it.


Dear non-soccer-loving friends, it’s OK if other people like soccer.

Really. It is. It has no effect on your life whatsoever. Bashing people who like the speckled-ball game won’t make you richer, better looking or get you into a size-2 dress.

There’s no need to trash them on social media with hashtags like #SoccerSucks, #IHateSoccer and #SoccerFansDieVirgins.

Please don’t debate the merits of American football vs. international futbol and who has the better athletes.

Because, really, 99 percent of us can’t run two blocks down the street without getting winded, throwing up all over our $150 running shoes then keeling over into the gutter waiting to die.

So - honestly - we’re not qualified to judge anyone here, regardless of what sport they play.

Unless it’s bowling.

I think we can all agree about the physical prowess of professional bowlers. Moving on....

There’s no need to whine about how boring soccer is. It’s boring because you don’t watch it enough to understand the strategy involved, how plays are set up and what the heck offsides means.

Just let go of the anger and move on to something more worthy. Like reintroducing lawn darts to the American public.

Now there’s a game that I miss. Although with inflation and the escalating cost of health care, those visits to the ER would cost a lot more in this day and age.


Dear soccer-loving friends, it’s OK if other people don’t like soccer.

I know, you hear the insults and it hurts. They kinda make you feel like that Cousin Oliver character on “The Brady Bunch,” don’t they? He was just never part of the “bunch” no matter how much they tried to make us like him.

But get over it.

Who cares if people think soccer is boring? Quit being so defensive. We don’t need to hear about the merits of the sport in detail great enough to fill a doctoral thesis.

And, come on. Nobody cares what the difference is between soccer and futbol. And that futbol is supposed to have that pretentious little accent mark over the “u.”

You’re purposefully trying to sound superior.

People. Don’t. Like. It.

And you gotta admit that non-soccer fans have a point about the players flopping on the ground like a fish out of water after a collision equal to a warm breeze floating by on a summer day.

It’s embarrassing.

I’ve no idea when this concept of flopping started. Back in the day, I would have been jerked out of the game for acting like, well, a jerk.

Then I’d have been put on water cup duty with a stern promise from the coach that I’d be running extra laps the next practice.

Bring back the No Flopping, No Whining, No Acting Like A Big Crybaby days and you’ll get more fans.

Just sayin’.


Dear bandwagon soccer friends,

You rock. You are the reason television ratings go sky high in the U.S. during the World Cup.

You are the Goldilocks of the soccer world. You are hated by soccer fans and non-soccer fans alike simply because you are exercising your God-given right to root for the Good Old U. S. of A.

You paint your faces and wave your flags, and it’s awesome. You wrap yourselves in red, white and blue colored scares when it’s 125 degrees outside. You sing and cheer and laugh even though you have no clue what’s happening.

Rock on.

It’s not bandwagon to root for the Americans in the World Cup when you don’t watch professional soccer any other time.

If that was the case, we’d never cheer for USA Hockey and the please-eat-a-sandwich-sometime American figure skaters during the Olympics when we don’t watch those sports any other time of the year.

We’re Americans. Let us have our fun.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Misspelling bee

Wednesday was the last day of school, but I think it’s safe to say my son just phoned it in the last few weeks of third grade.

Usually he’s a great student. Provides little to no fuss when it comes to homework or school projects. All in all, it’s like we’ve been raising the Dalai Lama of Third Graders where life is all peace and love and roses and rainbows.

But then the calendar flipped to May, and his attitude took a definite turn for the worse.

Like North Korea “I’m gonna launch a rocket at you because I want to feel like a big boy who wears big boy kinda pants” worse.


It all began with a spelling bee.

OK, let’s get real for a moment. We’re talking third grade here. In the classroom. With no parents watching. It was like the Spelling Bee for Dummies version of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

There would be no crying. No pressure. No strange rituals. No dancing. No fainting. No “language of origin, please” kinda stuff. Just a few kids standing around spelling a few words.

But this was a class assignment, and when the teacher says practice the words, you’d better bet I’m gonna make my son practice the words. 

Because I know what happens when you DO NOT practice the words.


Some wounds never heal. And for me it was the word “brilliant” in MY third-grade spelling bee.

There I was looking all cute and spiffy and ready to take on the spelling world.

Then I got the world “brilliant.”

And it all went Hindenburg disaster-like real quick.

I forgot the second “i” and down I went. I slunk back to my desk where I immediately noticed my 64 box of Crayola colors sitting there, taunting me. The words “Brilliant Colors” stamped across the top in letters so noticeable that they practically burst into flames.

It was like the universe had flipped me the bird.

I can’t remember to put milk on the friggin’ grocery list, but I remember the feeling of misspelling that #*&@ word 30 years later.

So I was determined my son would not follow in my misspelling bee footsteps.

Did I want him to win?

Not really. I can’t keep him from wearing blue and gray striped shirts with orange and purple shorts, so how in the hell would I turn him into a spelling champ overnight?

So, no, I just wanted him to make an effort, you know. Have a respectable showing and not go out in the first round with a word like “cow.” 

Or “brilliant.”

It should have been simple. He would study the list then I would quiz him. Divide up the words. Do a few each night over the course of the two-week preparation period. Leave a little extra time for the bonus words.


Napoleon had a battle plan at Waterloo.

See how well that turned out?

“Or for the love of God,” I cried and waved the word list in the air as if I were signaling an approaching plane for landing. “Can we just get through these?!”

My son crossed his arms, cocked his head to the side and quickly answered, “Hmmm, no. You said I had to spell 10 words, and I spelled 10 words.”

Crud. Who taught the kid to count?!

“Yes, I did,” I quickly conceded and flipped through the long list of words, “but I had no idea there were so many. At this rate we’ll be finished by Christmas.”

He shrugged, clearly not concerned with my inability to make a proper deal without substantiating all the facts.
I had failed the spelling bee for a second time. 

How did my son do?

I have absolutely no idea.

He told me that he “didn’t win but did OK.” 

And he refused to divulge any additional details.

I’d have better luck getting North Korean leaders to let me see one of their rockets.

But at least there’s a silver lining.

He knows how to spell “brilliant.”

Friday, March 7, 2014

It's his saliva!

Oh, the birds and the bees.

I knew the day was coming - in the not-so-distant future - when my young son would start asking more detailed questions his parents weren’t quite prepared to answer.

But the universe is really screwing with you when that day comes not while in a library, surrounded by a dozen pamphlets, three DVDs and two books on human reproduction, along with your junior high school health teacher.

Alas, no.

It comes at dinner. On a Tuesday. While your mouth is stuffed to the gills with loaded mashed potatoes.

The projectile distance of such a food is really quite mind-boggling. Why wasn’t I eating something that would be expunged with a little less force?

Like, say, a carrot?

....Well, I friggin’ know why.

The day I choose carrots over potatoes is the day they put me into the cold hard ground. 
Probably because I had a coronary due to too many potatoes.

However, I digress.

Back to the birds and the bees.

“Mom, I don’t understand how a baby can look like the daddy,” our 8-year-old son announced at dinner one evening.

“Hmmmm?” was the only response I could muster with a mouth full of the aforementioned mashed potatoes. Priorities? Why, yes, I have them.

“You know,” he continued, “because the baby comes out of the mommy, so it has all her stuff. So how can a baby look like the daddy since he doesn’t give any of his stuff?”

Oh, $(*%.

OK. Be cool. No need to panic.

These little observations have popped up now and then over the years. Best to just handle them with answers suited to his age, right? 

Just keep it simple until the time comes to really hit him with all the good stuff. After all, that’s what his college graduation is for, right?

I swallowed, buying myself a little time before whipping up something amazingly astute that would a) satisfy his third-grader mentality and b) not lead to a lunch table discussion at school that would lead to c) a call from the principal.

I looked him straight in the eye and said, “Well, you see, the dad does give stuff to help make the baby.”

And...I left it at that.

Question answered. Problem solved.

Where are the mashed potatoes?

But just as I shoveled in another huge bite, my son attempted to expand upon my oh-so-unhelpful answer.

“Oh, wait!” he hollered in excitement, holding up one index finger in the universal sign for I Got It, “It’s his saliva!”

...And that’s when I spewed potatoes.

All. Over. The. Table.

As if that minor indignity wasn’t enough, I made the mistake of trying to hold in my laughter.
Because the experts said no matter what comes out of their little mouths, you must not laugh, possibly destroying any future desire to come to you with their questions about sex, instead relying on the weird guy named Dave who stands outside the hardware store asking people to feel his tinfoil hat.

So, yes, I tried very, very, very, very hard not to laugh.

And what did I get in return for my friggin’ sensitivity?

I peed my pants.

But that is NOT MY FAULT.

That’s what 24 hours of hard labor does, my friend. Do not judge unless you’ve sat in the stirrups, so to speak.

Anyway, there I was. Wiping mashed potatoes from my face and sitting in my own pee.

Not really my best moment.

So I decided it was time to salvage a little piece of the situation.

“No,” I shook my head solemnly, “it’s not his saliva.”

I briefly explained how a mom provides the egg and the dad provides a little something called sperm. Mix up the two and - voila! - a baby comes out of the mom nine months later.

Then I sat back and silently began to pray that he wouldn’t ask how the egg and the know...get together. 

After a moment of silence, he shook his head and said, “I get it.”

OK, let’s not delude ourselves. He doesn’t “get it.”

There are fraternity guys and members of Congress who still don’t “get it.”

But at least we gave it a try.

And tomorrow I’m off to the library to find those pamphlets, books and DVDs. And - fingers crossed - my former junior high school health teacher.

I bet she’s on Facebook.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hanging with the ladies

Bob and Zach took a quick trip to the North Pole yesterday to deliver our son's letter to Santa. But they didn't make the trip alone. They emailed this photo to us last night. 

Apparently they took a couple of ladies from Mystery Inc. with them for a quick trip and a round in the hot tub.

Monday, December 9, 2013

A sticky situation

The elves were in a sticky situation this morning. SpiderMan and Venom, aka Bob and Zach, left a note for our son that they were just hanging around...waiting for him to write his letter to Santa.

Message received! It was written before he left for school this morning.

Now...the fun part will be using the kitchen today!