Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I love you, Bro

Growing up, I had two sisters. The eldest is 8 years older than me. The middle sister is 6 1/2 years older. I envied how close they were and begged my parents to give me a younger sibling to play with. Being in their 40's, I was denied.

However, thanks to a divorce, I got my wish. My father and his new wife had my brother (Bro) when I was 13. When he was a baby, they had to work weekends, so my dad asked me if I wanted to babysit while they worked instead of putting him in daycare. I jumped at the opportunity, I love my new little brother.  9-10 hours of play time each Saturday and Sunday, and I got paid well? I was living the life.

My brother and I immediately formed a super strong bond. An unbreakable bond that exists this very day. We talk every week (every day?), even though we live in different cities. He drives to stay with me when he has a break from college and can take a few days off work. We always have a blast when we are together. Usually an hour or two after he arrives, my face hurts from laughing too much. I am sure you think in order to have this much fun we must be drunk or on drugs. This is not the case. We have pure kid fun. I revert to the age of 10 (instead of my usual 11) when he is around.

On a recent visit, I ask if he would like to play PickUp Sticks with me. "What is that?" he asks. I am shocked to find this is to be his very first game, and feel I failed him as his older sibling. We lay on our bellies in the middle of my living room in front of a pile of brightly colored plastic sticks. I explain the rules to the game. He cackles at the simplicity of it. I dump the pile on the floor using the dreaded "twisted drop" which makes them land all directly on top of each other, but also intertwined.

Being a nice, kind, fair minded sister, I let him go first. When I hand the white stick over to him, his face changes. It is as if I just passed the baton in a 4 x 100 yard relay race during the Olympics. The laughing dies down to a chuckle, and eventually to silence (we are extremely competitive). He keeps inching forward to the pile of plastic sticks, analyzing the right approach. He decides on his target, the blue stick, and hovers the white stick above it. I can tell the pressure is too much. He reaches a shaky hand out, and immediately bumps another stick.

"My turn!" I yell, in a sing songy voice. He jumps at the distraction, and reluctantly hands the stick over.

Heh, heh, heh. Little does he know you gotta rock it out at the beginning of the game when sticks are laying in positions where they are easy to manipulate to gain a strong head start, before the complicated end where they are all impossible to move as they are dog piled on top of one another.

In a few seconds,  I have a pile of sticks lying next to me. I look up at him. He is looking at my pile, and back to the lack of his own.
"You are cheating." He accuses, pain and the fear of losing easily detectable in his voice and clearly written on his face.
"Bro, you are inches from the sticks, carefully watching me. I can't really cheat in two person PickUp Sticks."
"YES, somehow you are! Then how do you have that gigantic pile?"
"I have mad skills, young grasshopper. You have much to learn." and just to show off I grab a fly mid-flight using my pickup sticks as chop sticks (totally kidding).

I realize if I want to him to willingly play another game with me, I must at least make him feel is he doing well. So I bump a stick.
"Awww, darn."
"MY TURN!" He yells. I hand the stick over. I am smirking.

He army crawls the last centimeter toward the pile. Face mere inches from the stack. He reaches a shaky hand out, lets out a long breath, digs in and successfully pulls out a stick. I'm proud my baby bird just left the nest for his first flight. "YAY!" He cries out triumphantly.  We go along like this, sighing, cheering, sighing, cheering, until we are nearing the end of the pile. It is a close race, our piles similar in size, only a true count will reveal the winner.

My Bro knows every move is important. He angles the white stick in. Beads of sweat begin forming on his forehead. He hesitates, and yells out, "The pressure is too much! It is making my butt clench!"

It's all over for me, I burst out laughing and roll around on the floor holding my stomach. He wins.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Umm, I think that will come out

I thought it time to post an unrelated kid story. My life revolves around my bundles of "joy", but this has to be shared, as it's the worst I've felt since the cursed event occurred several years ago.

I worked in Corporate America, and didn't belong (imagine that). My two older sisters and I went out on a limb and decided to remodel homes....ourselves. Now there are several stories that should be shared, and will be eventually. But this one takes the cake. (Suzanne, can you guess which one?) ;)

We literally taught ourselves by means of conversations with Home Depot employees and books that should have been titled, "Remodeling for Dummies", as in the beginning that is what we were. Self taught- and a big yikes to that. Imagine- tile, grout and thinset in hand all ready to go. Book laid on floor, Suzanne reading aloud, "Step one mix the thinset..." etc.

But we were, in the end, mostly successful. I am proud were not "flippers" but took time and care bringing love back to dilapidated homes and moving people in with a little to no down payment.

On our fourth remodel we decided to take on a gross second floor condo, to do a "quick" rehab. There are hundreds of hilarious stories with this home, like painting the kitchen THREE times because the first two came out horrible, but I digress.

Suzanne and I were exhausted. Hauling: flooring, tools, paint, tile, a toilet, up and down stairs in the middle of the Arizona summer.  Day. After. Never. Ending. Day. Nearing the end of the remodel one particular bright and sun shiny afternoon we loaded the back of her newer, hatchback, spiffy red car with several five gallon buckets of paint as well as other miscellaneous remodeling tools. Her tools, her rules-they had to be fastidiously cleaned and packed in an orderly fashion at the end of every twelve hour day and hauled back up the next as to not risk overnight theft in the vacant properties.

We drove to the condo and commenced lugging heavy items out of the car, up the stairs, back down the stairs, up the stairs, until we were mind numblingly exhausted and I felt as if I had gotten lost in the Sahara Desert for five days with no water or camels to assist. Ya, it truly sucked that bad.

On trip number bazillion (in actuality number five), I leaned all the way in and grabbed the handle of the last of the five gallon paint buckets to drag it to the end of the hatch. It tipped as I dragged. The joke was on me, along with the paint. The lid wasn't fastened securely, probably my due to my carelessness and haste in packing up at the end of remodel three. A sea of gleaming white ceiling paint came splashing over the edge. I do not possess Ninja like reflexes similar to my sister (she got all those genes, and there was none to spare by the time I was born). All I could do was helplessly yell, "Noooooo" and watch this horror unfold before my very eyes. In slow motion even.

Latex paint sloshed all over the inside of her car, down her bumper, my legs, caught in the roll of my capri pants, on my flip flopped feet and finally onto the pavement. I didn't cry. Instead stared in awe and disbelief. A few seconds later I yell- in my little sister panic voice, "Suzzzzaaaannnnneeee!" That tone of voice has been used in our family only when she had to protect us from a bully or we were in danger or hurt. And true to her big sisterly nature, she came bounding down the stairs lightning fast- even evoking her Ninja skills.

She screeched to a halt and just looked. Her eyes large and nostrils flaring like a bull in a rage, for what seemed like an eternity. She didn't say a word. Silence is deadly with her, so I started devising a plan and settled on crying to evoke some sympathy. Unfortunately my body was too dehydrated to squeeze out a single tear. I immediately began working out plan two. Which direction to duck the blow that was surely to come. I know she can catch me, so running was out. Plus I had a shoe full of paint and it was wicked slippery.

She told me to go upstairs and rinse off. I hung my head and complied. At least that would give me some space so I wasn't in reaching distance. I slipped and slid my way up the stairs, leaving a trail of white flip flop paint marks in my wake.

Once I was cleaned and knew the initial anger had passed, I crept back down. "I'm sorry!" I say, "I'll clean it." "Damn right you will." she responded, and to my relief started laughing. The cursed cleaning took several hours and my arms stung all night from my torn bicep and forearm muscles burning. 

If you look carefully, to this very day, you will see little white paint speckles in the locking mechanism of her trunk. My bad.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Acquiring the duck.

My teenager diligently saves change in a dinosaur piggy bank and has devised an insanely intelligent way of acquiring said change.  When her friends at school buy items for lunch or snack, she simply asks them for their leftover change. None of them care about a few pennies, nickles and dimes.

Little do they know....

I recently took her to cash her change into dollars at one of these high tech coin taking machines in a local grocery store. She shook the plastic green dinosaur for all it was worth. $42.55 later, my mouth dropped open. Apparently $.01 + $.05 eventually equals $42.55. A smart girl, this one (sniff, so proud).

We were in line with the cash ticket to change it for real money when I noticed a quarter machine. I automatically revert to the age of five. My eyes sparkle and I clasp my hands in anticipation. They typically are disappointing, with candy or stickers. But every so often they hold a true treasure. Like miniature plastic ducks. This was the case.

I start jumping up and down saying, "Oooooh, ducks!" And then I notice the gem. "Wow! A vampire duck! I wonder if I could win that!" I automatically reach for my shoulder, and realize I've left my purse in the truck. And longingly look at my kid.

She sees the look in my eyes and says, "Yes mom, you can have a quarter." I don't even have to ask! Oh joy! I put the quarter in and get a yellow duck. The disappointment was overwhelming. My face falls.

"Here mom, you can have another quarter." YAY me! I put the coin in and turn the knob while chanting, "Vampire duck, vampire duck." I get a smiley face duck. Gah. The horror.

My kid feels so bad she actually gets back in line to change her dollar for quarters, even though she just changed her dinosaur coins for the dollar. I hold the sparkly quarter like it is a handful of diamonds and put it in the machine. You would think it was a slot machine with a million dollar payoff, I was so excited. My adrenaline starts pumping as I carefully insert the coin. Cow duck. Really? My kid says, "Mom, I have good luck, let me try." And she wins. Vampire Duck is mine!!! I unintentionally let out a scream of joy and commence a happy dance with the duck raised triumphantly over my head. I stop dead still as I now realize there are a good ten people watching this entire scenario unfold and they are now laughing.

I assess the situation and realize how ridiculous it may seem to outsiders. I am the kid begging for a quarter for a plastic duck, and my kid is now the adult giving me quarters for the machine. Great. Well, at least I got the duck.

You can see my new collection of ducks and our adventures at my other blog- Duck Bob. Duck! "Fang" is pictured above.

Fang's photoshoot was done by my loving sister who always entertains my sillyness. Suzanne, I love you.

Monday, August 8, 2011

I'm not responsible for your boobs.

We had to get out. The desert has it's wonders and beauty but who ever came up with this "Meh, it's a dry heat" needs to go to rehab, because that is a serious drug they are smoking. It has been over 100 degrees for what seems like an eternity here in Arizona. California and the ocean were calling my name. Last minute, I hastily cooked and got road snacks for my vegan, vegetarian and meat eater. We took off Friday at 4 a.m. to go for a much needed road trip to the beach.

However, not before my horrific last minute bathing suit shopping experience, Thursday night. Yes, I do live in Arizona. Yes, we swim in pools here. No, everyone and their mom is not starting at my cottage cheese and back fat when we swim in our backyards- only family who appreciates seeing out of both eyes and know I used to be a much beefier girl than I am now. Who designs these bathing suits anyway? Do they ever take into consideration that other people besides older women and people with teen sized breasts wear them? I was embarrassed for me and I was just looking at myself alone in the dressing room. I didn't cry, talk/cuss to myself nor get mad at my current weight. I placed the blame where it rightfully should be, on the faulty designer. I am not huge (that's me in the photo above) but not fit. I have successfully lost 60 pounds, and fought hard to push out of the plus size arena (I earned every plus size joke I make). But am not at the "YEAH! I'm going to parade around in public in something that covers less than my own underwear." stage.  I decided, after much deliberation, on men's trunks and a polka dot top in XXL. I'm a D cup and apparently that pushes me back into the "you are huge" size chart again. I had the extra material puckering where the "men parts" are suppose to go in the trunks, but that was the sacrifice for not sporting daisy dukes and giving those around me nightmares as I run past. I shudder at the thought.

I haven't seen the ocean in several months. The waves have such an impact on me. It's a cleansing experience and only takes 15 minutes before I am so relaxed, I have to concentrate on not drooling.
We went to bed early and woke up to set up our tent for a day at the beach, which was already getting crowded. I say to my teen, "Hey, can you grab that pole and help me set this beast up?" She mutters, "Great, we are the jerks with the tent." I look around and realize, oh crap- we are. So I ask the fellow beach goers around me if it will be a nuisance that their view will be blocked, and explain my youngest is fair skinned and goes from white to red and back to white again. Most laugh and say they understand. So, I set up the monster.  

My kids are giggling and doing the "can we get in the water?" dance.  Sure-I say. But put your sunscreen on. I immediately get the round of grunts of disappointment. Really?! They act as if I am asking them to take dog poop and smear it all over their bodies right before they give an oral dissertation on the economy in front of their peers. My kids have school photos on Monday and I don't want an 8 x 10 lifetime memory of the time I let them burn at the beach. So I slather their faces, backs, shoulders, and necks and remind them they are now at the age that they are responsible enough for arms, legs, stomachs and other girly parts now.  I am so concerned about the burn and 9 hours in the water I annoyingly call them back every 30 minutes (no exaggeration) for sunscreen re-application. One of my kids is tanning, so she doesn't want 55 SPF on. She literally came back from vacation looking like a different race. The beach sand was everywhere and I was exfoliating their skin every time we reapplied. I was becoming more concerned about the all new layers I was exposing and how irritated their skin was becoming, than the old layers I was trying to protect from the burn. Next time, I will just use spray on sunscreen. 

Alas, at the end of the day-success! Not one of my kids was burned! Except me. I was so concerned about them, I completely forgot my stomach, which is still a lovely shade of dark angry red. 

That night back at the hotel, my daughter asks, "Am I sunburned? My skin feels hot." Seriously?! The "I'm the worst mom" thoughts start creeping in my mind. She slightly pulls down her tank top to reveal a mad, red line on her chest. I sigh and say, "Yes. You are sunburned. But in my defense, I'm not responsible for your boobs. That is your bad for not applying properly."

Thursday, August 4, 2011


I am at work, and thus have to keep this short. But I am so excited to have my first official follower, I just couldn't resist posting. Suzanne, I love you but you are my sister, and thus don't count as official because you fall under the "obligated to show support" list.

I just happy danced around the office, raising the roof and scared my co-workers by shouting and hollering.

To you, my first follower, thank you for my bit of joy today. You rock!!