Sunday, October 31, 2010

Grin and bear it

It was like sleeping with a grizzly bear.

You know, without that whole fear of being eaten alive kinda thing.

I shoved an elbow and growled, “Move over.”

“I’m already on the edge. In more ways than one,” my husband growled back.

The love between us (along with the 60-pound golden retriever “puppy” ironically named Bear) was skating on thin ice.

And when said Bear rolled over onto her back, stuck four fuzzy paws in the air and dropped her golden head on my pillow (and half my face, by the way), I’d had it.

Take my blankets. OK.

Take my spot. I can deal.

But mess with my pillow, and you’re gonna find yourself homeless. Or at the very least - bed-less.
I shot up, pointed a finger at the corner of the room and ordered, “Get down!” 

Suddenly the dog who can pinpoint a tomcat from six houses over had apparently gone stone deaf.
I shoved her fuzzy rump and shouted, “Out!”

She stretched long legs into the air, lifted her tail and swatted it back down onto the mattress. Then commenced snoring.

This. This right here is why people buy ankle-biter dogs the size of a pot roast.

Pot roast doesn’t steal half the bed during the night.

“What is her deal?” I asked my husband in exasperation. “Every day. Every. Friggin. Day. At 5 a.m. She jumps on the bed, wiggles her way between us and goes back to sleep. She’s the alarm clock from hell.”

He rolled over, threw me a dirty look in the dark and answered, “Why are you talking to me like I don’t already know that?” He swung out an arm, “I’m lying right here, you know.”

Ignoring him (as usual) I poked the dog in the side and muttered, “Move it. Out. Down. And whatever other preposition I’m forgetting at the moment.”

I reached a hand under her back to give her extra motivation and received a low grrrrrr in response.

Flashes of grizzly tore through my mind, and I decided to live to fight another day.

Later, my husband spotted me curled up on the couch, reading.

He leaned over to read the title, “German for Dummies.” He raised an eyebrow and pointed at the cover.

I shrugged, pointed at the dog and said, “She doesn’t appear to understand English very well, so I thought I’d take a stab at German.”


The phone rang the next day while I was at work.

Without a “hey, baby, whatcha doing?” or even a “hello” my husband proceeded to tell me - in a rather loud voice, if the ringing in my eardrum was any indication - what he’d come home to at lunch time.

“She chewed on the corner of the grandfather clock. You know, the one your dad made?”

What? The clock we wrapped up tighter than King Tut’s booty in order to transport it from my mom’s house to ours and still ended up disrupting the mechanism so it only chimed at 2:47 in the friggin’ morning, trying desperately to keep from taking a baseball bat to it while feeling guilty about moving it in the first place only to break it because my dad crafted the thing with his own blood, sweat, tears, swear words and 47 cases of Budweiser?


I vaguely recall it. I cringed and answered, “So how bad is it? Did she just take a nibble or did she go full beaver on the thing?”

“Well, you can definitely tell she tried to eat it for a snack,” he snarled. “Plus, she ate a book.”

Uh-oh. Not quite the way a dog should get a little extra fiber in her diet. “Which one?” I asked.
“Does it matter?” he asked.

“Well, I’m kinda curious,” I said. “Is she a Harry Potter kinda girl or did she go straight for the Mark Twain?”

“I don’t care, and I gotta get back to work,” he snarked back.

“Why are you barking at me?” I sniped in return (two can play this game). “I’m not the one who ate it.”

“I’m not barking at you,” he responded.

“Yes. You are,” I countered. “No. I’m not,” he answered.

Man, marriage is the BEST!

“Tell you what,” I offered. “When I get home I’ll sit her down and read her the riot act.” I paused. “But I’ll probably have to do it in German.”

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Put that in your peace pipe and smoke it

Nothing spells trouble like a deadline around the corner with a case of writer’s block camped out in the driveway like Cousin Eddie in “Christmas Vacation.”

It ain’t going anywhere. And there’s a good chance something is gonna explode. So you’d think the family would help me out a little bit, right?


Wednesday. 7:14 p.m. Four days before deadline. Geesh. Even God had seven. Six if you don't count his day off.

“Do flies poop?”

The question, uttered by my five-year-old son, popped up just as I sat to write my weekly column.

It’s like he’s watching me on closed-circuit video and pounces just when he thinks things are starting to get interesting.

My fingers frozen above ASDF JKL; and there they stayed. I turned toward the royal heir and stumbled through my response, “Uh…er…what?”

He replied, “I was reading a book about flies and wanted to know if they poop. ‘Cuz it wasn’t in the book.”

The mom in me was THRILLED the little guy was reading something on his own, without threat of death or confiscation of future Halloween candy hanging above his little blonde head.

But the wife (and writer) in me who didn’t want further interruptions simply responded with wisdom passed down through the timeless ages of parenthood.

“Go ask your father.”

Thursday. 4:12 p.m.

We arrive home from school. I set up the little guy with SpongeBob SquarePants and instructions not to bother me unless the house was on fire.

And only then if he can’t remember where the fire extinguisher was.

I sit at the desk, turn on the computer and click open a blank page. And away we go….

A poke to my shoulder registers a brief moment before “I’m hungry. What can I have to eat?” reaches my ears.

For the love of all that is holy!

“Are you freakin’ kidding me?” I asked with the minimal amount of love I was capable of at that moment.

Sure, it didn’t sound too loving, but I thought not shooting death rays from my eyes showed remarkable restraint on my part.

I should get a medal or something.

Sunday. 9:05 p.m.

I sat in bed, laptop across…well…my lap and running the risk of getting Toasted Leg Syndrome. Leave it to the media with waaaay too much time on their hands to come up with this happy term. Seriously. It sounds like something you’d make with s’mores and top off with a beer.

Chuckling at the irony of not being able to use a laptop directly on my lap top, I proceeded to get down to the business of writing.

My husband, settling in for an early night of beauty sleep, plopped down beside me, pulled the covers up to his neck, rolled onto his side and commenced snoring immediately.

He had no cares. No column to write. No deadline looming over his head. I envied his guilt-free conscience, allowing him an easy route to blissful slumber.

I’d love to clock him with a pillow right about now.

Just as I began reaching for said pillow, the dog bounded on the bed and began boofing for all she was worth.

“The dog has to go outside,” I lamented to my hubby. “I’ll give you a million dollars to go downstairs and let her out.”

“You don’t have a million dollars,” was his muffled response.

Mentally counting the money left in my wallet I asked, “How’s $12 sound to you?”

Silence. “Sounds like you’re going downstairs.”

Monday. 7:02 a.m.

“OK, it’s crunch time,” I wailed. “I need a column idea. Now.”

My husband chuckled with a non-surprising lack of sympathy.

“Careful,” I cautioned. “I suggest you not mess with me today. I come from a long line of people one does NOT mess with.”

He smirked and answered, “Your ancestors were Irish and German. The only thing you’re gonna do is pour a whiskey and start a war somewhere.”

OK. Good point.

“Hey, there’s also some Native American flowing through my veins,” I countered. “At the risk of sounding insensitive, I could scalp you. Or, at the very least, crack a peace pipe over your head.”

“That doesn’t sound very peaceful,” he cracked back.

And there’s my column….

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Learning about your past

Gabe's assignment this week in Kindergarten is to pick a community helper and do some research.

He chose to learn about a police officer. And that we did. We learned what requirements the job entails, what he/she does for a living and how he/she helps the community.

Plus, the kids are encouraged to bring a picture of something that represents their community helper.

As it happens, I have this great photograph of my Grandpa Kelley taken during his years as a motorcycle cop. He eventually became chief of police in Ossining, New York.

Gabe didn't know which was cooler - that his great-grandpa was a police officer...or that he rode a motorcycle.

My grandpa passed away many years ago, so it was nice to share his story and his life with my own son.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Happy Birthday, Masa!

Earlier this year we joined Northwest Missouri State University's Friends of International Students. Community residents are paired with international Northwest students. Last month we met our friend, Masa, who hails from Japan.

The university did a great job in pairing Masa with our family. He loves sports (especially soccer) and has a golden retriever at home. We welcomed Masa and his friend to our home yesterday for an early birthday celebration.

The guys played soccer and Wii with Gabe then we followed with a traditional don't-count-the-calories American fare of hot 'n spicy chicken, green bean casserole and loaded mashed potatoes. PLUS, we made Masa our family's traditional Red Velvet birthday cake.

According to Masa, only Japanese children get cake on their birthdays. We told him - here in America, you get cake until you die! Hah!

Gabe gave Masa good points for his technique for blowing out the candles while we sang "Happy Birthday." All in all, a great day spent with new friends. Next up? Gabe wants Masa to teach him how to write his name in Japanese. Stay tuned....

Friday, October 1, 2010


“We should make him run laps,” I muttered to my husband in disgust.

He snorted in response. “He’s 5.”

I shrugged and gestured toward our son as he fluttered around the soccer field like a ballerina on LSD.

“I don’t care,” I said. “Look at him! He’s not even trying. I’ve seen kids wearing full-body casts make a better effort.”

“When? And where?” my husband asked, apparently doubting my statement about viewing kids in full-body casts playing soccer. Come on. Like that’s so hard to believe.

“On YouTube. You can find anything on YouTube,” I answered. “In any case, it’s embarrassing.” I waved toward the field. “And what is he doing now? The ball is over here, and he’s way over there PULLING HIS SHIRT OVER HIS HEAD?! Oh, for the love of God.” I dropped my head into my hands and felt waves of shame wash over me.

“Hey, it’s kinda cold out there today,” my husband, Mr. The Glass is Half Full and apparently in the running for Parent of the Year, pointed out. “Maybe he’s cold.”

OK, so the unseasonable cool September Saturday was a little out of the norm. And the monsoon that preceded the game probably hadn’t helped. Big deal. So it was a little cold.

“Anyway, we don’t have room to complain,” my husband continued. “We’re sitting here in the car where it’s warm and dry.”

“Hey,” I answered defensively and waved my hand out the window, “we got the windows rolled down.”

The coach blew the whistle and hollered, “Half time!”

Thank God.

Our little boy ran over in excitement, yelling for water as if his little life depended on it.

I handed over the water bottle and watched him chug down half the contents in one big gulp. Man. He’s soooo gonna be a legend in some fraternity one day.

He finished, swiped his sleeve across his face and handed the bottle to his dad. Before he could turn and run back toward his teammates, I slapped my hands on his shoulders, looked him dead in the eye and yelled, “Let me see your game face!”

He smiled, put up his hands like an extra in “A Chorus Line” and sang, “La-di-dah-di-dah.” Then he giggled.


“I don’t think so,” I growled. “Like this,” and screwed up my face like I’d been constipated for a week and grunted.


The people sitting next to us – the nice people who actually sat on the sidelines in their lawn chairs who teach their children it’s not about winning, it’s about having fun and learning to play by the rules and the world is a warm and fuzzy place where everyone skips around eating lollipops – began to snicker behind their foam #1 fingers.

I waved my hand dismissively in their direction and told my son not to pay attention to them.

“Let’s try that again,” I instructed. “Game face. Now.”

He sighed but decided it was not time to push the crazy lady. He balled his fists, bared his teeth (even the two loose ones on the bottom) and grunted, “Grrrrrrrrr!”

Oh, it was a Dear Diary moment. Proudly, I wiped a tear from my eye, pointed toward the dastardly enemy (four little boys wearing cheery, Cookie Monster blue uniforms – they didn’t fool me) and hollered, “Now, go get ‘em!”

I watched my son run back on the field and high-five a teammate. OK, I thought. That’s a good start.

…And that was the highlight of the second half.

“Look at his teammate,” I told my husband. “Now THAT’S what I like to see. He’s a foot shorter than everyone else and running with his hands in his pockets and STILL beating them to the ball.” I paused and looked around for his parents. “I wonder if they’ll let us trade.”

My husband screeched like a little girl and answered, “You cannot be serious.”

“I guess not,” I conceded. But before I could make a mental note to have our son run laps after we got home, the game had ended, and I noticed my beautiful, spastic, goofy child was the first in line to perform the post-play “Good Game” slapping of the hands ritual.

I guess we must be doing something right after all. But maybe next time I can get him to do it with his game face on.