Wednesday, February 29, 2012

JR's Little Dallas Motor Inn

Never judge a book by its cover.

Or a hotel by its name.

Years and years and years ago, my mom booked a family vacation to the southern Missouri town of Branson. I can't remember how old I was. Not quite a teenager yet but old enough to begin using that "Do we gotta?" scorn kids are famous for.

The trip took a few hours. Somewhere along the halfway point, it dawned on my brother and me that we had no idea where we staying.

Mom's reply?

JR's Little Dallas Motor Inn.

Are you friggin' kidding me? Are we hillbillies?

Or worse? Fans of that '80s iconic classic soap, "Dallas"?

Uh. No.

So we gave her grief over the remainder of the trip. Sure, we weren't rich, weren't Waldorf Astoria people. But - COME ON! Were we so broke we had to rest our heads at what would undoubtedly be nothing more than a glorified doublewide??!

Imagine our surprise - and chagrin - when we pulled into the drive...of a Best Western.

Which just happened to be named JR's Little Dallas Motor Inn.

Oh, childhood memories.

So I was sad to learn this morning that Branson was devastated by a possible tornado in a line of storms that moved through the area last night.

And this is what used to be JR's Little Dallas Motor Inn...

(photo courtesy of Branson, MO Recovery, Facebook)

My heart breaks for all of those who woke up to this. Downtown Branson, including many of its famous theaters, are in a similar condition. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

No stink bombs allowed

It was our 6-year-old son’s turn to play scientist in school today. I’m sure I’ll hear all about it later...from the teacher. Lord knows our son won’t have any comment.

If it doesn’t involve recess, lunch, the bathroom, recess or recess...he really doesn’t have much to offer when I ask each day, “How was school?”

If he’s ever captured as a prisoner of war....He. Will. Be. Unbreakable.

Unless they offer him vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup.

As you may deduce, finding a suitable science experiment for a first grader that his classmates hadn’t already done or that didn’t involve a multitude of ingredients, a stove or electrical current wasn’t the easiest of tasks.

And we all know we can’t do the potato/lightbulb trick.

That’s sooooooo 1983.

But that’s why people a hell of a lot smarter than me invented the Internet (and I’m not talking about Al Gore here).

Anyway, after a search through cyberspace, our son decided to make a color wheel and explain how the eye sees color then use a prism to show how white light can be divided into all colors of the rainbow.


Of course, it decided to rain today.


I’m sure he’ll do what he does best and wing his way through the rest of the experiment.

If not, what are they gonna do? Send him back to kindergarten?

At least they get snacks there.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Chili cheese Fritos and the Five Second Rule

I don’t need a book to tell me men are from Mars and women are from Venus.

One look at my kitchen pantry tells me everything I need to know.

There are chili cheese Fritos in there.
I know I didn’t buy them. There aren’t enough symbols on my keyboard to adequately describe the ICK factor here. And thank God the techno geeks (who secretly rule our world and spend their days sticking it to everyone who bullied them in junior high gym class) haven’t perfected Smell-O-Vision yet.
And it’s not enough my husband eats them. He’s sharing them with the dog too.
“Quit feeding chili cheese Fritos to the dog.” 
My husband only smirked in response. Then proceeded to stick his hand back into the bag, pull out another chip and toss it in the dog’s direction.
And being the garbage-disposal-not-so-very-disguised-as-a-Golden Retriever, she hopped up and snatched it right out of the air before it could hit the floor.

Why the hurry? I’ve no idea. The taste of chili cheese-flavored corn chips isn’t gonna be all that affected by the Five Second Rule.
Of course, we’re not talking about a wildly discerning palate here.
She eats poo too. Guess I should just be happy my husband doesn’t.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

We're not fancy faucet people

It was like Moses trying to part the Red Sea.

In my kitchen.

“What the (insert appropriate swear word here)!” my husband yelled.

I hurried over to see him hunched over the cabinet area under the kitchen sink.

....Water. Was. Everywhere.


That’s not good.

“What the hell happened?” he squawked, looking up at me.

I took a step back, my Dutch/Irish/German dander up, locked and loaded. “Uh, excuuuuuuse me?” I snarked, “What makes you think this is my fault?”

He was smart enough not to answer that question.

Anyway....long story short?

There was a leak in the faucet.

God help us all.


Well, as they say, when God closes a window, he opens the door to a better faucet...or something like that.

“What do you think of this one?” my husband asked, pointing to one faucet near the top of the display at the local hardware store.

I leaned in to get a better look. “Where’s the handle to turn it on?”

He laughed, “There is no handle. You just touch it.”

Aha. Technology has rendered us completely stupid yet again. “Seriously? Have we gotten so lazy as a society that we can’t even flip a friggin’ handle to turn on our water?” I pontificated and gestured angrily at the shiny piece of chrome that would look more at home on the space station rather than in our humble home.

A hurt look crossed his face, “No, it’s useful when your hands are full.”

But I wasn’t listening any more. My eyes slid over to the price...and HOLY MOTHER OF GOD!
I pointed and shrieked, “That cost more than my first car!”

“I know,” he agreed, “but it doesn’t hurt to dream.”



My ears perked up at that sound, so I went hunting for the source. Only to find my husband in the kitchen, holding the brand-new faucet in one hand and the hose for the sprayer in the other.

We’d been home 7 minutes with the new faucet.

It only took him 6 to break it.

And that included the 4 minutes it took to remove it from the box.

I pointed and asked sweetly, “Problem?”

He looked up with a sheepish expression and admitted, “I think I pulled too hard on the”


Faucet - 1.
Mr. Plumber - 0.

So he did what any self-respecting American male would do.

He tried shoving it back in.

But the hose? It had other ideas.

Like screwing with my husband. Which meant it wouldn’t to go back inside the faucet completely, getting jammed near the very end and refusing to move any farther though the faucet’s cylindrical base.

After 10 minutes of grunting and sweating and “You stupid, #*&^ piece of $@*&!” I decided to take matters into my own, delicate hands.

Thirty minutes later, including four useless screwdrivers, two crappy pens and finally one stainless steel barbecue skewer that was actually long enough, we managed to carefully guide the hose’s end around the obstruction and completely through the faucet.

And then just 2 short minutes later, he did something again.

“It’s stuck,” he moaned, tugging on the hose where he had connected it to one of the faucet’s couplings.

“Was that in the directions?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

He shrugged and gestured over his shoulder with the faucet. Said directions?

Still in the box.



“Do not - and I mean DO NOT - repeat any of those words at school tomorrow, OK?” I pleaded with our six-year-old son whose eyes had gotten THIS BIG after hearing my husband attempt to install the new faucet later that day.

“The one that starts with ‘F’?” he whispered after one very colorful use of the English language. “That’s a really bad one, right?”

You see, it’s important kids learn these things. Sure, we could shelter him from all the evils in life then toss him out on his own at 18 and expect him to achieve greatness rather than run with wolves.

But that seems unfair.

So we choose to let him witness the seedier side of some things then instruct how to deal with them.

It’s what the experts call a “teachable moment.”

It’s what I call a “next time we hire a plumber moment.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A really good armpit fart

Oh, to be six years old again and discover one of life's greatest joys.

My son returns home after a play date with a friend yesterday. He marches inside and immediately asks, "Guess what I learned today?"

Without waiting for my reply, he snuck his hand under his shirt and preceded to give me a demonstration of a quality armpit fart.

Atta boy.

He then launched into a diatribe about how he learned it, the dynamics involved, how it's important that your armpit is "kinda sweaty but not too much" and that it took "a long time to learn how to do...almost the length of the car ride home!"

Which, in reality, was only a few blocks. Apparently time gets distorted when you're concentrating on the fine arts in life.

In any case, my husband was amused and immediately requested this be next week's column topic.

Oh, yes.

It will be.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How do I love thee?

Nothing says "love" like a Darth Maul mask/double lightsaber combo Valentine's Day gift from mom and dad.

As for me, this is still my favorite Valentine's gift of all time....

Chaser and me, circa February 2003, the day after we brought her home. We had no idea the impact she would have on our lives. She taught Jon and I many things....

How it SUCKS to potty train a dog in the dead of winter and in a half-foot of snow.

At 2 a.m.

How to deep clean carpet.

How a queen-sized bed is not big enough for two adults and a Golden Retriever.

How to capture a soap-covered butterball who's escaped from the tub.

How to identify various creatures and crawlies she managed to eat so we could determine if a trip to the vet was necessary.

More than anything, she taught us patience and unconditional love....Damn, I miss that dog.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The tooth?! You can't handle the tooth!

For the past month, our 6-year-old son’s loose front tooth had slowly begun creeping upward until it was sticking out from his gum at a 30-degree angle, morphing him into a hillbilly Jerry Lewis.

With a lisp.

It would have been cute if it didn’t appear to lower his IQ by 40 points every time he opened his mouth.

“It’s not coming out,” my husband whined one afternoon.

I shrugged, “It’ll come out. Just give it time.”

“Seriously. I wiggled it,” he said. “It’s stuck.”

Our son stood in front of us, giving us the evil eye and channeling his inner Clint Eastwood in a go-ahead-and-make-my-day kinda stance, daring us to reach in and pluck the tiny enamel square from his tender gum.

I caved. Shocker.

But my husband? Mr. Tough As Nails (as long as it doesn’t involve spiders)?

“I’m calling the dentist,” he blurted.

Four little words certain to instill terror into the heart of any child, if watching our son’s backside tearing down the hallway at Mac 3 was any indication.

Apparently Mr. Eastwood wasn’t feeling so lucky.


My husband turned to me and muttered, “Was it something I said?”



We made a deal with our son. No dentist, but he would have to keep wiggling his tooth and get the sucker out himself.

But sometimes Fate, after watching us mere mortals stumble through our daily lives without any real clue, will intervene and show us the universe just likes to screw with us.

Returning home from school, my son emerged from the car only to be scooped up by his dad with a “Hey, how was school?” full-on bear tackle.

They wrestled and laughed on the driveway like only those with an XY chromosome combo will do.

A few minutes later, my son walked into the kitchen, turned to me and said...something. I don’t remember because all I could see when he smiled was a BIG GAPING HOLE in his mouth!

Holy Bucktooth, Batman!

“YOUR TOOTH IS GONE!” I hollered.

His eyes got THIS BIG and he screamed, “Oh, no!”...then he ran right back out the door.

OK. Not the response I expected. 

...then he was right back in the house. There he stood with his tooth, holding it in his little fingers like it was the key to the city.

“Dad knocked it right outta my mouth, Mom!” he screamed in delight. “I found it outside!”

The kid can’t see six days' worth of dirty laundry littering his bedroom floor but manages to spot a tiny little tooth among the sea of concrete that is our driveway?

If only we could use his special powers for good.


The little guy was getting ready for bed, and it was time to put the aforementioned tooth under his pillow.

I looked around the kitchen and quickly realized something.

The tooth?

It wasn’t where I had left it earlier that afternoon.

I pointed to the counter and asked my husband, “Where did the tooth go?”

He shrugged, “I don’t know.”

Big help.


I - again - pointed to a spot on the counter. “Here. It was right here. I put it on a paper towel and left it right here.”

My husband? Just looked at me like I was speaking Swahili.

“Helloooo!” I waved a hand in his face. “Where did it go?”

His eyes slowly drifted toward the trash can, and his mouth formed the word, “Oops.”

The tooth was gone. In the trash with the paper towel because Mr. Clean can’t stand anything on his countertops for more than 5 seconds.

Oh, *&!#


I walked back into the kitchen after putting our son to bed, whistling a happy tune. Which I can do, by the way. Unlike my son, I have all my teeth.

“So,” my sheepish husband said, “did you tell him we lost his tooth?”

I stopped whistling, “Are you crazy? No, as far as he’s concerned, his tooth was wrapped in the tissue he carefully placed under his pillow.”

My husband looked at me and asked with trepidation, “And it was actually....?”

I smiled and pointed to the dog treat canister on the kitchen counter, “A small, broken piece of Milk Bone.”

Moms. Who said only magicians can practice the sleight of hand?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Thinking outside the box

So I began my day wearing two different shoes.

Good news: I noticed before I left the house for work.

I'm-an-idiot news: It was only AFTER I walked downstairs and noticed my right shoe was clicking on the hardwood floor louder than the left.

I'd like to say they were at least the same color.


My son had a more productive day, building a Valentine's Day box. Out of plastic blocks.

Complete with cannons. My guess is they are his last line of defense in case some girl tries to smooch on him.