Wednesday, December 21, 2011

If someone could possibly make a nativity out of buttons this would all make sense.

Last night was Dotter's school Christmas Program. (It's okay; she goes to a parochial school so we actually get to say the word "Christmas.") Anyway, Big V spent a good portion of the program pointing the giraffes out to the toddler. And I spent a good amount of time giving him the sideways eyeball.

Dude. They're not giraffes. 


Quit saying they're giraffes. 


Because they're camels.

Well, they look like giraffes.

No they don't. Those are plain; giraffes have spots. 

Giraffes don't have spots... they have blobs and blotches.

Whatever. Just stop saying they're giraffes. They're camels.

I don't know what that bothers you.

Because giraffes weren't present at the birth of the Lord our Savior.

Do you have proof?

And then I just glared at him until the toddler drove us both nuts and he had to take him out for the rest of the program at which time I was able to update my Facebook status to something snarky about Big V's Jesus being born under the watchful eye of an 18-foot cud chewing mammal.

Then, today I was reading what The Bloggess wrote about how there's probably hula hoop porn - but she doesn't necessarily partake in it, regardless of what her neighbor might think, and sure enough, there really is hula hoop porn (but I was way too chicken to click on that link) and then The Bloggess said that there's basically porn for everything and that got me thinking about hopscotch porn because if you think there's a lot of wiggly and jiggling going on while hula hooping imagine what the jarring motions of hopscotch could do?

Then that got me thinking about Big V and his giraffe attended nativity and I thought huh. Maybe if there's hula hoop porn there might possibly be a nativity with a giraffe in it and guess what I found?

Yes, Virginia, there really was a giraffe present at the birth of Jesus Christ!

And then that got me thinking about how I've been wanting to collect things for awhile now but I just can't come up with the right thing to collect. I thought about collecting buttons because they don't take up much space, plus every shirt and sweater I buy seems to include an extra one in a mini plastic Ziploc bag and I never know what to do with them. But then I thought what if people find out I collect buttons? They'll want to give me buttons as a gift. Which is cool to grow my collection, but let's be honest. Who wants to open a button for their birthday?

So then that made me think maybe I'd start collecting nativity scenes. Only strange ones. Like this one:

But that got me thinking about how I am actually terrified of owls for two reasons: (1) they're always glaring and I'm basically terrified of anything and anyone that glares (which explains my irrational fear of Jack Nicholson) and, (2) my sister once loaned me a book and said I had to read it and it was this horrible psychological thriller about a guy who kills his friends off one by one and leaves this little owl figurine at the scene of every crime.

And so then I thought about what messed up nativity scenes I'd surely receive because I've got some really twisted relatives. And friends.

And then I decided I'm definitely not collecting nativity scenes. Because of the nightmares and also because they take up way more space than buttons and I hate clutter. So, I guess I'm basically saying I'm open for suggestions. Because I want to be the type of person who is remembered by others when they're out shopping.

"Oh, look at this beautiful music box! Aunt Susie will absolutely love it!"
"...and then we saw this gorgeous dolphin sculpture and immediately thought of you!"

See, there really isn't anything out there that people see and go, "A-ha! This is absolutely Bridget!" Although, now that I think about it, maybe buttons is the direction to go because they're basically everywhere.

"I was about to throw out this sweater but then I remembered you collect buttons, so I took them all off and here, I'm giving them to you."
"And then I looked down on the ground and wouldn't you know it? A button! Like it was a sign from God!"
"So, I come out of the john, buttoning up my pants and I totally started thinking of you!"

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When A Child Goes Missing

A girl went missing Sunday afternoon.


She was 13 years old.


The day that I was Christmas shopping and chiding myself for almost forgetting the Santa wrapping paper and performing in my last holiday show of the season and gathering with friends for their annual White Elephant Exchange Christmas party - a mother across town was frantic.

She was panic stricken and not knowing what to do.

She was worried and afraid and scared and confused and overwhelmed.

And I was at a party, sitting in a circle, unwrapping my gag gift: a trashy supermarket check-out novel; you know the kind, with the shirtless man posed on the front cover, long hair blowing in the wind, called The Lady and the Falconer. And I swore to everyone I would read it.

As I was laughing, the mother of a beautiful 13-year old child, was living her worst nightmare.

Her child was missing.

Her daughter wasn't at a friend's house.

She wasn't where she was supposed to be.

No one knew where she was.

And no one knew if she would ever be seen again.

It's those things that aren't said that goes through a mother's mind; things that you must push down and push aside so you can try to remember something, anything, no matter how small - something that will make a difference.

How do you sleep when your child is missing? How do you eat? Where do you go? Do you stay? Do you go out looking? Where do you look? What do you do when you can't find your child?

Within hours news hit our small community; a place where everyone knows everyone else and everyone is connected by just two or three degrees of separation:

Her aunt is my friend.
My daughter is in her dance class.
I work with her grandmother.
They live across the street.
I went to school with her mother.

Everyone in this small community seemed to be thinking the same thing: this is way too close to home.

Fliers went up everywhere. In every store. At every corner. In every school. The rate information was shared virtually was astounding.

People prayed.

Family prayed and strangers prayed. Please, please bring her home safely... Protect her, dear Lord... Don't let her go, Lord... help bring her home... please, please just find her and bring her home....

And all those prayers were answered.

She was found last night.

The media release the news that police gathered information from her computer and quickly came to realize there was a very real possibility she was in the company of a 21-year old man from Nebraska. An Amber Alert was issued which included a description of the car and the Nebraska license plates. The car was found at a motel in a neighboring community. So was the 13-year old girl.

And this news brought together a great sigh of relief...

and also some incredibly insensitive commentary.

I suppose it's easy to jump to the assumption that this girl's parents are a bunch of morons who allowed their young daughter unsupervised time on the internet and so what did they expect? It's easy to say that this happened because the computer should have been in the living room where all the perfect parents of all the perfect children keep their computers. (Even though none of us truly know where the computer was stationed in their home.) And I suppose it's easy to say that this would never happen to our child because we don't allow our daughters to talk to 21-year old men.

I suppose if you said any of that then you wouldn't have to really deal with what this situation has brought to our attention:

Is the answer unplug the computer? 
Or do we have some real work as parents to do?

I have a daughter who is 10. Once, at a local high school football game some high school boy was walking by and said hi to my daughter. By her name. Who was that? I asked. And how on earth does he know you? "Oh, that's one of Katie's brothers friends. He was there when I was spending the night."

Now, I'm pretty confident saying Katie's mom wouldn't invite a child molester to spend the night in her home. But then I thought -- how does one actually recognize a child molester? Because I usually do only after their booking photo is released.

I have another daughter who is a junior in high school. She has friends who are freshman in college and we happen to live just twenty minutes away from the college. It is not inconceivable for her to get together with her friends for dinner in order to catch up. In fact, I would encourage that. Learn about college life! Listen to how fun it is to live in the dorms and meet all sorts of neat people and then perhaps that will encourage you to choose more seriously when you're considering colleges. And so it wouldn't be so out of the realm of possibilities to have my daughter get together with her freshman college friend... who happens to bring along a sophomore college guy friend because it's his birthday.... and now my 16-year old daughter is hanging out with a 20-year old.

I pray that 20-year old is interested in other 20-year old's. But that isn't always the case.

I think back to when I was a teenager. And I thought I knew all the answers. And I thought I could handle it all. And then I remember how I felt when I found myself in the middle of a situation I didn't know how to get out of. Because I was young. And I didn't have the experience or knowledge or know how.

I pray that every older person in my children's life will forever have my children's best interest in mind and not their own. And I pray that for your children as well.

It's easy to say the answer to keeping our children safe is to unplug the computer.... and I absolutely, 100% agree that there needs to be very real controls when it comes to children and the internet --- but we say the fault is the computer's because as parents there is a comfort in that. 

A 13-year old should not be allowed on the internet. 

There. We wrap it up nicely with a neat little bow so we can go back to our holiday prepping and reminding ourselves we still need a gift for the Sunday School teacher because the reality is we don't know how to keep our children forever safe and that reality scares the life out of us.

We don't know how to glance through society and pick out and stop the 21-year old creep who would actually drive all the way from Nebraska to a small town in Wisconsin to pick up a 13-year old girl.

We don't know how to stop the teenage boy who happens to be at the same house during a sleepover from inappropriately touching our daughters - and if you think that would never happen, I have a good friend of mine who would tell you otherwise. And she would unapologetically explain it is that exact same reason none of her children have ever been allowed to sleep over at anyone's house.

We don't know how to stop the college boy from trying his luck with the cute high school girl because, well, she looks older than what she actually is and she was totally flirting with him and so obviously she wants it.

As adults we need the answer to be unplug the computer because the real answer is so incredibly overwhelming.

Because the real answer involves raising moral children against a sexually charged society - where babies are put in bikinis at 9 months and girls with huge boobs sell chicken wings. Where images of men seducing women are casually displayed in ads painted on the side of a city bus and during a commercial break at the 6 o'clock showing of Wheel of Fortune.

The answer is raising young boys who believe with every fiber of their being that it shows true strength of moral character to respect a girl and not that it's cool to have sex by the time they're a freshman in high school because 'they're the man.'

The answer is raising girls who don't want to have sex just to get it over with because the pressure from their friends is just too much, but rather patiently waiting for the guy who will happily sit at the family dining room table and study with them; and not to even bother with the guy who defines a date by honking the horn in the driveway and parking alongside some cornfield for a quickie.

The answer is cleaning up song lyrics and music videos and what's flashing across our television sets. I grew up when George Michael was scandalous. My children are growing up when Lady Gaga is flopping around topless in a tank of water and Rose McGowan shows up on the red carpet wearing a see through dress and thong.

And even then the answer doesn't come close to figuring out how to identify and deal with the sexually deviant. The answer doesn't stop the kidnapper from taking a girl walking down a street so that the last image of her alive is him pulling her by the arm behind a local car wash. Even then the answer doesn't stop the seemingly nice looking man from grabbing the young lady running through the hiking trails and leaving her for dead.

The answer doesn't keep our children forever safe. It just does the best that we can.

For the rest we rely on our community.

We need our neighbors to keep an eye out and stop when they see something that doesn't look quite right.

We need our friends - and the friends of our children - to say something to us when they hear something concerning.

We need our community to pass out fliers, and share information on Facebook, and search in the nearby woods --

and we need them to pray.

We need to remember that we're all in this together. Each and every one of us should do our part to keep all the children safe because in today's society we need all the help we can get.

We need to remember that support proves far better than judgment and working together for the common good will reap benefits far more becoming than pointing fingers and laying blame.

This beautiful, young child is only 13 years old. This is a defining point in her life, but with the right guidance and support this will not define who she is.

Although, I wouldn't mind if the way we came together as a community defined who we are.


I believe very real controls should be in place with children and the use of computers. Computers should be located in main/open areas of the home and not used late at night. Webcam use needs to be clearly defined. In a world where families benefit from webcam conversations (like the father serving in the military overseas) some very candid discussions and absolute rules need to be in place. However, the reality is, we don't always have control over what happens in other homes. I know children who don't have their own Facebook account, but actually sign on using a friend's account password. In my belief, every bit helps - so control as much as you can in your own home, and educate, educate, educate! Also, make sure your children have someone they can go to - no questions asked - if they think something not quite right may be going on. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

The One In Which I Bestow Upon You Awesome Gifting Ideas. (You are welcome.)

Christmas preparations are in full swing in my neck of the woods! And by that I mean just about everyone I know is finished shopping and wrapping their gifts and they're all sitting around cozy fires drinking eggnog and reveling in holiday cheer. Except for me. Because I pretty much need to get my butt in gear ASAP or Santa will be issuing a statement to my children stating Christmas has been postponed until March. (Don't think I won't.)

Since the spirit of the season is all about helping others (and not complaining about my own situation) I figured I'd help you brainstorm some last minute gift ideas for those Hard to Buy For people you've got sitting on your list. Sure you could always fall back on your standard gift card to the local big box store but everyone knows that's basically another way of saying I didn't care to expend actual effort figuring out what to get you so instead I met my friends for a glass or three of wine and stopped half sloshed to grab you this gift card. You should be thankful I physically got out of the car to purchase it. Which reminds me, when is Walmart getting a drive through? 

Yes, gift cards say all that. So, allow me to move you back up to Best Gift Giver EVER status with the following suggestions:

Perfect for your four year old nephew who can't
stop body ramming you around every corner
and who still hasn't learned to shut the hell up.

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without Mary.
Here's a little something for your Catholic grandmother...
it's perfect because old people eat a lot of toast.

For the person who needs everything to be just so....
the perfect solution to avoid crazed murderous
holiday meltdowns in the kitchen
(although, admittedly, they are fun to capture on video
and upload to your YouTube account).

Every parent likes to know how they can improve
on what they're already doing:

For that really weird cousin whose name you drew
that you're pretty sure has never succeeded in any 
normal social interaction:

Finally! A bedtime classic kids can actually relate to:

For the man who has everything; 
including an odd obsession with bacon...
(I'm thinking of you, Joe Falcone.)

Ladies! A little book to help get you in the mood.... 
or to just leave around the house 
in the hopes that your man will open it and TAKE THE HINT.

and for my Jewish friends - 
you know I would never forget about you 
during this snowy season:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Girls Night Out: Thirty(ish) Style!

Sometimes I do something and I think why the heck am I not doing this more often? Because it's awesome. And awesome needs to happen way more often.

Case in point:

The Ladies Who Lunch.
Or in this case: 
The Ladies Who Eat Double Their Body Mass And Then Go To The Theater And Then Eat Some More.

Which is totally what we did!

As you may or may not have realized by now, one of my most favorite places on the planet is the Young Auditorium at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater because:

1) I love theatre.
2) It's close by.
3) The eclectic array of performance choices each year never fails to impress me.
3) Their prices are very reasonable.
4) This is the closest I'll ever get to Broadway. Again. (Because I've actually been to Broadway but I don't see the probability of revisiting in the near future.)

So my friends and I planned a night to go out to the thee-ah-taahhh. And every cultured woman in America knows that to begin a Girls Night Out you need to start with food. And drinks.

My dear friend, Kim, suggested the restaurant - which ended up being a Mexican joint in a strip mall called Cozumel. And Holy Mary Mother of Jesus was this food awesome! And the drinks were ginormous! And we asked the waiter to take the obligatory we're all here at the same time picture except he was kind of weird about it so we all look like we're slightly afraid of him. Which I admit I totally was.

Ummm... does he know he has to push the button?

The food was delicioso (delicious) y barato (cheap) and I'll totally go back with Big V because that guy could eat a horse and still be hungry.

Then we made our way to the theater to watch a musical comedy called Church Basement Ladies: Away in the Basement - and I can sum it up like this:

 do-whopping bible verses = AWE.SOME.

Although we did have to Google egg coffee (which I would recommend you doing the same because there is no way I can do it justice here) since the show kept making reference to Lutheran/Norwegian foods, of which none of us had any experience.

We also learned about a smelly fish they served at a church supper which had been soaked in lye called Lutefisk. It sounded funny and cute when they were singing and cracking jokes about it but I have a hard time understanding why a church would want to serve poisoned fish to its congregation. Apparently Lutherans have tough stomachs.

They also have teenagers that acted just like my teenager! Seriously - the actress that portrayed the 15-year old was freaking amazing. I bet even she hates herself after a show.

There were a lot of laugh out loud moments in the first act (the pastor walking in on a crotch shot comes to mind) which was just what I needed. Then I decided I also needed a drink. Which me and gal pal G decided to track down at intermission.

Being that the coffee was at one end of the lobby and the alcoholic beverages (a.k.a. Bar) were at the other end, and also that the cardinal rule of girlie friendship is Always Do Everything In Pairs, my dear friend G waited patiently for me to get my booze. Then she came to my rescue and paid when I was told they only accepted cash, which to me is kind of one of those things you might want to point out before they pour the drink because it's the 21st Century and I don't carry cash. Neither do millions of other people. Except G, obviously, because she actually had cash on her person but that is so not the point.

Then we wandered across the lobby to the coffee side and I pretended not to feel like the sole lush of the group. G asked the pretty girls behind the pots if they had regular coffee, which they did not at that particular moment but would shortly should she like to wait. Which G gladly agreed to because she needed her caffeine whereas I was content sipping my booze through my theater friendly plastic cup and didn't even realize we were waiting for anything at all.

Then the lights flickered which meant we had two minutes left. But that was okay because the regular coffee was finally ready and the pretty girls behind the pots were team working to make it happen: one pouring a cup, the other collecting G's cash. And then we power walked back to the auditorium doors to find our seats before curtain only to be told excuse me, but you can't have that drink in there.

Huh? Me?

The coffee. It doesn't have a cover. 

Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't see the covers - I'll go back to get one.

There are no covers.

Excuse me?

Nope. There are no covers for the coffee. No cover; no coffee. That's the rule. You'll have to drink it in the lobby. By yourself. While your friends are watching the show.

(Okay, so only half that sentence was actually spoken. You get the point.) 

And so it was that G had to throw her coffee away if she wanted to see the rest of the show. She did say the one sip she had was pretty good.

But here's what I'm thinking:

They had theater friendly cups for the hard stuff but not for coffee. Regular or the decaf. And who can slam a cup of coffee at intermission? Coffee is sipped, not slammed.

Hey, pretty girls behind the pots... it might be a swell idea if you told people something along the lines of "there's just two minutes left of intermission so you can certainly choose to stand here and wait for this pot of coffee to finish brewing but the fact is you won't be able to take it with you into the show and I highly doubt your taste buds or esophagus will appreciate the scorching if you attempt to guzzle it. I suggest saving your cash and then getting a cup of coffee after the show."

Is it just me or does this whole thing come across as they'll encourage the drinking of alcoholic beverages but the coffee drinkers are shit out of luck?

To get past the coffee letdown (and maybe also to prove we weren't old fogies who were home by 10pm on a Saturday night) we headed over to Perkin's for a late night cup of coffee and piece of pie. Except I couldn't eat the pie now that I know I have celiac (gluten is my lye) so I ordered sausage links and bacon. Best late night snack ever.

And then we went home because it was midnight and sooner or later we had to accept the fact that we weren't in college anymore and there were little human beings waiting for us at our homes that depended on us for their emotional and physical well being and, let's face it. we're not getting any younger.

There's just something special about gathering your friends together for a night out. As we get older there seems to be a lack of places to go. The bar makes me feel old. And hard of hearing. But the theater was the perfect place. I do believe we'll have to go again.

We asked some guy in the lobby to take our photo. 
He totally looked like he was zooming in on our girlie bits.
Not a bad photo for a perv.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Necessities: an imperative requirement.

Dear Teenager:

Please take up a hobby. Because right now you have way too much time on your hands attempting to badger me into purchasing a brand new phone for you. Again.

Here's a few thoughts - things I would tell you if you quit whining long enough to listen:

(1.) No where in the Parenting Manual does it say I owe you a phone.

(2.) Your current phone seems to be working just fine since you've called me no less than three times in the last two days to complain about it. Not to mention the various text messages you've sent to remind me of what a piece of crap it it.

(3.) I don't care that so-and-so's mom just got her the brand new iphone 4s super-soaker deluxe model with real 3-karat diamonds for buttons.

(4.) Actually, "just a hundred dollars" is a lot of money. If it wasn't, you'd have it.

(5.) It's one hundred dollars. Not a hundred.

(6.) Get a job. That way you could buy a new phone every week if you so desired.

(7.) In case there's an awful emergency and I need to get a hold of you I will more than likely call the land line. It's an ancient procedure but one I'm proficient at.

(8.) Yes, I realize it's so unfair that I won't get you a new phone.

(9.) It's also so unfair that 1/3 of the world is starving and that more than 15 million children die from hunger each year.

(10.) Maybe you ought to take a few minutes to rethink your priorities.

Merry Christmas,

Love Mom

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Nothing honors the birth of Jesus Christ more than a perverted Santa.

The phone rang that cold, wintery evening several years ago as snow began to fall. There had been talk of a blizzard, worsening road conditions, lots of drifting. It was a night where you just wanted to pull on your sweatpants and cuddle on the couch. Which was exactly what I was doing.

"Uh, Bridget?" [That's me, for all of you who thought my real name was Phoenix.]


"That was my friend, Sean - you remember him... the teacher over at the Catholic school?"


"He needs me to do a favor.... tonight.... uh, right now?"

Okaayyy.... what kind of favor?

"Well, it turns out they have some sort of Christmas Party thing at the school and Santa comes and delivers gifts to the kids and stuff except the guy that was supposed to be Santa just called and said he can't make it because of the roads and so since Sean knew I lived just a few blocks away he asked if I'd be willing to play the part of Santa. Do you think I should do it? He said you and the girls can come with."

Let me get this straight. Some teacher at a private Catholic school wants you to dress up like Santa Claus and interact with young children under a false identity?

"He said they have the costume there."

Hell, yes, you should do it! I'm not missing this for the world! Grab your coats, kids - we're about to witness something spectacular!

And so we all piled into the truck and carefully made our way the six blocks over to the big church on the corner.

Remember, you can't promise things like a new baby sister or a puppy - parents get pissed at that stuff. Hey, wait, do Catholics even believe in Santa Claus? Shouldn't they have asked you to dress up like a Shepherd? Or Joseph? Even a gift giving angel makes more sense than a Santa. Also, you have to stay in character the whole time... even when you talk to another adult, or a teacher, or me. You never know when kids are listening - they're sneaky like that. You have to use the Santa voice the whole time. Do you even *have* a Santa voice? You should practice. Are you going to have to lead a prayer as Santa? Do you even know how to pray? Is Santa even Catholic?

And then Big V was whisked away to a back classroom at the end of a dark hall while the girls and I were escorted into the Lunch/Gym/Basketball Court/We Only Have One Big Space In This Entire School So This Is Where We Party At room. And it was filled to the brim with kids. Lots of them. Hyped up on sugar. Lots of it.

"Hey, Ma." My littlest leaned towards me. "Does Big V even know how to be a Santa?"

I don't know, honey. But we're about to find out....

And as if on cue, jingle bells began to chime in the distance.

The teacher gathered the attention of the children and their parents, "Shhh.... do you hear what I hear?"


And just like that way too many children were making way too much noise and jumping up and down.

"Ho! Ho! Ho!" In walked Big Santa V, decked out from head to toe, and he looked, well, like Santa.

"Hello, boys and girls! Have you been good?!"


Again with the screaming.

My oldest leaned towards me from the other side, "he looks... good?" Trust me. I was in as much shock as she was. He did look good. And he sounded good. And, hey, maybe he could pull this off. Look at all those smiling faces....

And just then the teacher announced that it would be piñata time ... because apparently Catholic Santa's are known for busting candy out of papier-mâché containers shaped like Sponge Bob Square Pants. Who knew?

So all the excited kids formed a wide circle around the surprise piñata which was being hung from 40-year old ceiling tile, which was probably dropping toxic asbestos on to the heads of the innocents, but no one seemed to mind. Not even the parents, who busied themselves with their video cameras because you can't miss an opportunity to record the destruction of artwork with a stick for the sole purpose of immediate sugar gratification.

Then, into the center of the circle strutted Santa. Oh, yes. There was a strut. Because, you see, Big V is a very athletically competitive person. And in his mind, he had a baseball bat and he was walking up to home plate ready to score the winning run.

Until the day I die, I will never fully understand why Big Santa V chose the following words... as he strutted around the children, twirling that stick:

"Who wants to see me WHACK IT?! Who wants to see Santa WHACK IT?!"

And - my personal favorite - as he pointed his big stick to some unsuspecting 5 year old boy: "You! Do YOU wanna see Santa WHACK IT?! Do you wanna see Santa WHACK IT HARD?!"

And that would be the one and only time Big V was ever asked to portray Santa Claus at the local Catholic School.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a most Joyous Hanukkah
to you and yours!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

This Moldy Spaghetti Sauce is a symbol of my love for you. Or perhaps not.

When I see a ladybug I think of my cousin. She loves ladybugs. Even sports a tattoo of one on her foot. To me, the ladybug is a symbol that reminds me of my fun loving, not afraid to laugh out loud cousin.

When I see an apple I think of my aunt. Her kitchen was decorated with apples. Cheery red walls and apple topped canisters on the counter. I can't help but smile when I see a kitchen towel designed with a screen printed apple for sale. There's my aunt. Right there.

My relationship with Big V has symbols, too. 

I remember when Big V finally got around to putting up the shutters. The house had just been painted and those shutters were the first step in our process of beautifying the outside of our home. Don't you just love the shutters? I'd swoon. Big V put them up just for me!

Those shutters were a symbol of my knight in shining armor. The man I would happily be marooned on a desert island with. Those shutters showed the world that he was my one, my all, my everything.

Relationships, like life, have seasons.

Currently we're in the Symbol of Spaghetti Sauce Season.

Six days ago, I lovingly prepared a boiling pot of water and dumped some pasta in it before rushing out the door to get to my curtain call in time. I had exactly 27 minutes between arriving home after work and hustling out the front door to get to the show. In those 27 minutes I chose to feed my loving partner.

After quickly applying another coat of mascara and brushing my teeth, I managed to drain the noodles and take out a jar of sauce. Now, let me explain. This is not just any sauce. This is my secret sauce. As in I want to make you believe I can cook so I'm gonna use this $8 jar of sauce that seriously tastes like heaven in a jar. Or, as it's more commonly referred to: Big V, you have no taste buds of which to speak so there is no way in hell I'm wasting this phenomenal $8 jar of sauce on you. Go get the Ragu. 

But I felt bad because I haven't been home lately and, well, he was agreeing to actually sit through my show later... so I set the jar on the counter and said, "Here. You can use some of this - BUT REMEMBER TO PUT IT IN THE FRIDGE WHEN YOU ARE DONE. If you don't, I will have to kill you."

The next morning I saw the jar - half used - still sitting on the counter.

My wonderful, beautiful, heavenly Victoria Arrabbiata sauce - left to rot alone on the kitchen counter.

"Uh, why is this still here?"

Oh. I must have forgotten it. I'll put it back in the pantry.

"It can't go back in the pantry; it's open. You have to put it in the fridge. I told you to put it in the fridge. Why isn't it in the fridge?!"

Fine. I'll put it in the fridge.

"You can't put it in the fridge!"

You just said to put it in the fridge.

"Yesterday. Yesterday I said to put it in the fridge."

No. Just now. Just now you just said 'put it in the fridge.' You said it like thirty times. How can you not remember?

"How can you not remember I said it last night?! This was my only jar of good sauce - and now it's filled with germs and eColi and the Black Plague!"

It's fine.

"No it is not fine. It says right on the label to 'refrigerate after opening.' That means, after you open it - you put. it. in. the. fridge. It's not that difficult."

Well, since it's not that difficult maybe you could figure out what to do with it.

"Me?! You're the one that should have to throw it away now that you wasted it!"

And so it sits.

On the counter.

Where it has remained for the past six days.

Getting moldy.

A jar of spaghetti sauce symbolizing the stubborness of the active participants in this relationship. (Although, he did admit that it was one mighty fine jar of sauce.)

What's your symbol?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

What's for Dinner?

Tonight's dinner will be held at a local restaurant.

With a friend I haven't seen in forever.

There will be no children.

Big V will be at home listening to the kids whine about how sucky their Ramen noodles dinner is. (Pretty much the only thing he makes.) (Unless it's a Nutella sandwich.)

Big V will be at home stepping on matchbox cars that have been dropped in the middle of the kitchen floor.

I might stretch dinner to last until Big V has to wrestle the children to bed.

I might stretch dinner until Big V has to get the kids up in the morning.

I might stretch dinner until Big V has to force the kids into the car for church, and argue over homework, and schedule the orthodontist appointments, and fold all the laundry, and scrub the food stains off the couch cushions...

.... but then I'd miss them all and I'd come home.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Slather on the Old Spice - it's Opening Night!

Tonight is Opening Night! And my armpits are already drenched. With sweat. Because I have to sing. About bowling. By myself. Twelve seconds into the show. By myself.

And for those of you that don't know what by myself entails, it's like this: the act of making a fool of yourself while a room full of people stare at you; many of whom are in the cast with you and actually have fantabulous singing voices, so they pretty much feel like you're the one crappy cast member who drags the talent level way down but because they know you could totally mess with their props and jump their lines on stage they will never actually tell you to your face.

Which reminds me of when I did Oliver with the amazing shit-starter Scott Stratton who tried to make me laugh out loud on stage every. single. night. The talented bastard.... oh, yes, Mr. Stratton, I have not yet forgotten. Mostly because the jerk succeeded just about every single night. And there I was, on stage, in front of a room full of people expecting something amazing and there I was snorting and holding back laughter. My, lord, but he is incredibly talented, that one! If you get a chance to see him perform - don't pass it up. He's in the Chicago area. 

Anyway, the good news is: I wrote the lyrics myself!

The bad news is: I still can't remember those tricky lyrics I wrote. Why did I make them so complicated?

Also, it's roughly 98 degrees backstage and -12 onstage so I'll probably catch pneumonia. And then they'll have to wheel me onstage in one of those huge iron lungs so I can do my part. Which will be tricky because there are stairs involved. Just saying.

And, yes, I realize they don't actually treat pneumonia with an iron lung but the visual wouldn't have been as funny if I had said, "I'll probably catch pneumonia and then be prescribed an antibiotic." See, you don't feel sorry for me at all, do you? But you were just about tearing up picturing me in a negative pressure ventilator, weren't you?

Wish me luck tonight.


Don't do that. That's like, really bad luck. You're supposed to say break a leg but I'm so insecure I usually answer with why do you hate me so much? when I hear it and then spend the rest of my life in quiet fear of your obvious annoyance of me.

Maybe if you send me good vibes I'll be so amazing Christopher Walken will want to play opposite me in a musical comedy and use my song! That would be totally epic. Mostly - okay, completely - because it's Christopher Freaking Walken!

You should come see our show. Each and every one of my treasured readers. If you let me know you're in the audience I'll totally try to work your name into my song. I swear. Unless there's too many of you. Then I'll probably just randomly shout out names throughout the performance. I'll just let the audience assume I'm a bowler with tourette's.

You can find more info about our holiday musical RIGHT HERE! 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Because God loves the Kardashian's I might have to kill my sleeping partner.

Night Two of the Loud Sleep Breathing. One of us is not going to make it out alive.

I'm surprised more men aren't murdered in their sleep. Although, to be fair, I suppose women could be Loud Sleep Breathers, too, and then they also could be murdered in their sleep. Because I'm all about equality.

In this case, however, it's Big V with the Loud Sleep Breathing complex. It's like listening to Eddie Haskell try to mimic Darth Vader. For hours. But never getting it right. For hours.

And then I gently shake Big V's shoulder. And he moves over to his side. And I get two seconds of golden silence. And then he starts in with the loud breathing again.

And then I poke him in the shoulder. One of those pokey pokes. That hurt. And he moves over to his other side. And I get two seconds of golden silence. And then he starts in with the loud breathing again.

And then I'm going all shaken baby syndrome on his sleeping a$$ screaming things like if you don't figure out how to breathe in silence I'm taking this pillow and show you silence! Because I believe in communicating your feelings.

And the next evening, when I shuffle through the door after a long day of consuming 14 cans of sugary Mountain Dew in an attempt to keep my eyes open after having only slept twenty consecutive minutes at a time, he looks up at me and says, "I hope I'm not getting sick; I woke up this morning and my throat was really sore."

This is what I get for judging Kourtney Kardashian and that boyfriend of hers - the one that looks like a weasel - for sleeping in separate bedrooms. When I heard she was pregnant again I thought, "why bring a baby into an environment where mom and dad can't even sleep in the same bedroom?! That poor baby..." And then God was all, "DO NOT JUDGE OTHERS!" (Because my God always talks in capital letters.) And just to prove his point he infected Big V with Loud Sleep Breathing - which honestly is way better than leprosy, so I probably shouldn't complain - but now I feel like I should write Kourtney an apology.

Dear Ms. Kardashian:

Specifically Kourtney.

Not the other Kardashians.

Because I'm probably still judging them.

Dear Ms. Kourtney Kardashian:

I accidently jumped to conclusions about how dysfunctional your relationship is with The Weasel. Well, not exactly "accidently," per se... more like "intentional" - but you get my point.

See, I assumed that you and The Weasel were on the outs because you sleep in different bedrooms and I think it's pretty stupid to stay with someone you can't even stand to sleep next to. But then God heard my judgment and got mad at me because, well, God loves you. (As evidenced by the ridiculous amount of fame and money you and your family make for doing absolutely nothing.)  (Except for Bruce. Bruce literally had to work his hiney off for that Wheeties Box, but then again, he's a Jenner and not technically a Kardashian. But I digress...)

Anyway, God has inflicted my guy (who isn't a weasel at all) with Loud Sleep Breathing and now I can't sleep. In fact, I haven't been able to sleep for a long time. Too long. And also he's been getting up at four o'clock in the morning to go to work which also wakes me up because he has this ridiculously loud alarm. And I get that you're just coming home from a night of free dining and boozing and schmoozing at four in the morning, so you're also awake, but what you might not get is that I have to go to this thing called A Job and then actually be able to function. I don't get to sleep in until noon on my extra fluffy pillow top mattress covered by my 3,000 count Egyptian Cotton sheets while the housekeeper is busy dusting my mini blinds and watering my plants.

So, for the sake of Big V's life (and also my sanity), I sincerely apologize for judging you. I now get why you sleep in separate bedrooms. It's because The Weasel breathes obnoxiously loud in his sleep, isn't it? I understand now. Really. I do. So if you could just let God know the next time your people set up a meeting with His people that I learned my lesson and maybe ask that He please turn Big V back into a silent sleeper that'd be just swell. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

So, I heard there's this thing called Black Friday.

I'm still trying to figure out if I survived Thanksgiving Weekend.

In addition to rocking out an awesome full basement clean out, I also managed to singlehandedly consume an entire pumpkin pie, wrangle a toddler's constantly disappearing diaper and a teen's radically erupting hormones. I'm pretty sure there was a third child in the mix somewhere but for the life of me I can't picture how she fit into the weekend. For all I know she spent the entire four days in her room playing video games.

While at my parent's house for Thanksgiving Dinner, Big V was educated on this little event referred to as Black Friday. The man had never heard of it. But there was my dad, waving a Best Buy flyer announcing a 42" television set for only $200!

Why, we must get this TV!

You're on your own, buddy. I don't like shopping. And I don't like people. And I definitely don't like shopping where there are people.

But it's only two hundred dollars! You're never going to find a deal like this!

And you aren't either because there are only ten sets in the store and people have been camping out in front of the store for two days already waiting for those deals. They'll be gone in three minutes.

Oh, ye of little faith...

It was at that moment decided Big V would attend his first ever Black Friday event. Solo. Because there was no way I was going out in the freezing cold just to stand amongst people. And then be forced into friendly banter because Big V always gives me the hairy eyeball when I'm around strangers who try to talk to me. I don't know you! Why are you talking to me?!

Around 8pm I looked at him and said, "you'd better hurry." But he said the doors don't open until midnight. (He's so cute.)

Around 9pm I looked at him and said, "you'd better hurry." But he reminded me that he had three full hours before the deals began. (He's so innocent.)

Around 10pm I looked at him and said, "you'd better hurry." But he cocked his head to the side and asked what he should do should he arrive two hours before the store opened. (He's so wrong.)

Around 11pm I looked at him and said, "you'd better hurry." And he finally left. (Just to shut me up.)

During his fifteen minute drive he called with the following report: "There's not one car on the road! Not one! No one is out right now! No one!" That's because they're already parked, waiting at the store.

His next report came in upon his arrival at the strip mall: "OHMYGAWD! THERE'S PEOPLE EVERYWHERE! There's no place to park AT ALL! WHAT ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE DOING HERE?!" Welcome to Black Friday, honey.

After waiting two hours only to learn the prized television sets had been sold three minutes after opening, Big V announced that he's never going to waste his time at a Black Friday ever again.

And then my sister introduced me to this little thing called Cyber Monday.... my results were much, much better.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Supervising Santa

I suppose the reason Santa Claus hates parents so much (and therefore is committed to making our lives complicated and miserable) is because he couldn't have kids of his own. And then Mrs. Claus was all why don't we just take some elves in; they're cute and small - they'll be our forever children. And Santa probably agreed because he assumed if he threw Mrs. Claus an elf or two, Mrs. Claus would throw a bone back at the big guy, if you catch my drift. Everyone knows infertility struggles can cause a tremendous uh, dry spell, between couples and he probably figured if she were happy then he'd be happy.

But then, like some kind of out of control kitten hoarder, Mrs. Claus couldn't stop at just one elf. Or two. Oh, no - she needed hundreds! Thousands, even! And Santa was all what the hell am I supposed to do with all these elves? And Mrs. Claus was all I have a splendid idea! You can take them out to your workshop and they can help you! 

Well, as a parent you know what it's like spending a few hours with a whining midget. No fun at all. And here was Santa, surrounded by scores of them. It was like the preschool that never ends. Day in. Day out. Why do I have to make the jack-in-the-boxes? I always have to make the jack-in-the-boxes. And that's my hammer! HEY! Tony took my hammmmeeerrrrrrrr! And what a stupid waste of time mounting fake singing trout on a piece of wood. They look dumb. No one's going to want them.

Any normal person would lose their flipping mind listening to that nonsense. But Santa knows better. If he loses his mind, Mrs. Claus leaves him and then who's going to want to hook up with an overweight geezer who only goes out once a year? Besides, Mrs. Claus feeds him pretty dang well and always has his clothes washed and ready to go. Plus she's putting out twice a week because she's inside the warm house by herself all day humming holiday music and whipping up batches of gingerbread and hot cocoa. Santa isn't ruining that for nothing.
So he takes his anger and frustrations out on us. The parents. The ones that can have children and lead a (in his mind only) normal life.

He's jealous.

And so he messes with us.

"I come in through the chimney," he explains to a frightened kid who's now paranoid that Santa is going to skip his house because we don't have a freaking chimney, Mom!

"Oh, well, he can also come through our front door."

Which leads to but how can he if the door is locked, Mom!

"Oh, I'll unlock it after you go to bed."

Which leads to but you told Dad that we always have to lock the doors ever since the creepy college kid next door got drunk and accidently walked into Mrs. McKloskey's house and peed in her desk drawer thinking it was a toilet!

"Well, I'll just hide a key outside."

Which leads to but how will Santa know where you hid it?

"Well, I'll just write him a letter explaining where it is."

Which leads to but Christmas is only two days away! There's no way he'll get the letter in time!

"I'll send him an email? Okay? Is that good enough for you? I'll send Santa an email and I'll tell him where the key is hidden and I'll also tell him how you badgered me for twenty minutes about how could he possibly get into our house since we don't have a chimney and he'll probably be really disappointed in the fact that you're trying to ruin the magic of Christmas. Will that satisfy you? An email? Good. Can we move on to other things now? Like the fact that your shoes are still sitting in the middle of the living room floor? Bet Santa won't like that either, will he?"

And then there's the whole why does Santa wrap our presents but at Susie's house the presents aren't wrapped and they can just play with the presents when they get up?

"Because at our house, Santa Gifts are the best ones and we save the best for last! If you opened the Santa Gifts up first you'll be incredibly let down by the packages of socks and underwear you'll be getting from Mom and Dad. This way, if you wait until all the other presents are opened, you'll end on a happy note."

And also the I told the class that I can't wait to wake up early and find my stocking that Santa hid but Santa doesn't hide any of their stockings. Why would Santa hide our stockings and not theirs?

"Because those parents are early risers so they don't mind jumping right into the action but Santa likes to help out the parents who don't like getting up at godforsaken times before the sun actually emerges and so he does this thing where he hides the stockings and that way when kids get up ridiculously early they can quietly hunt for their stockings while making sure not to wake up their Moms and Dads. And then when ALL the stockings are found, then - and only then - can you go to your parent's bedroom door and wake them up." (And if Santa happens to hide one of those loot filled socks under Mommy's pillow stretching the actual search time into several hours that's okay, too.)

And might I suggest that if Santa does in fact leave wrapped gifts under your tree you might ask him to please leave the remainder of the wrapping paper roll, should there be any left and you happen to be the last stop of the night, that way it won't get wasted? And then you might be able to use that exact same wrapping paper the following year without scrutiny? Yes, that's an excellent idea. Trust me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

But we can't drop the baby off at the Humane Society.

Last night, as with the previous 1,040 weekday evenings, I arrived home well after everyone else did with only a six minute allowance to urinate, grab something to eat and re-establish an effective antiperspirant barrier to both pits before heading out to drop Dotter off at swim practice and arrive safely at theatre practice.

[Side note: this year's holiday show is dinner theatre at the beautiful Lake Lawn Resort and includes a riveting solo by me. The girl who doesn't sing. Except for that one time when I played an angry - and very intoxicated - Mrs. Hannigan during a review. Here's a hint: my solo involves bowling terminology and a hippopotamus. I'll be signing autographs and taking pictures after the show.]

Anyway, such is my reality that I walk, no, race into the house in the hopes of emptying my bladder sooner rather than later, only to be bombarded with noise. Lots and lots of noise. If you know the adult me you'd know that one of my most common sayings is quit making noise for the sake of making noise! I like quiet. Peaceful. Calm.

Of course, those of you who knew me in my youth are snickering and saying something along the lines of I remember your mother complaining that just listening to you talk made her tired. To you I say, that was then, this is now, and yes, I am completely aware that Karma hates me.

Big V was attempting to change Cletus's diaper. Cletus, a rambunctious 2-year old who figured out about 18 months ago that he doesn't have to listen to Dad, is screaming at the top of his lungs No Addy! while systematically batting Big V's hands away. The Teen Bean is tired of listening to the screaming and the pleading and the fighting and the begging that she has turned the television up to decibels that would allow Helen Keller a chance to enjoy truTV present World's Dumbest Partiers. Added to the mix is an anxious and worried Dotter, afraid she'll be late, who keeps yelling out the time rapid-fire-burst style like she's suddenly developed tourette's.

Of course I go over to the changing table. ... like Russian roulette; it's only a matter of time before my head explodes....

Cletus! Cletus! You have to get your butt changed. Do you want to play with the Nintendo?


"Don't bribe him. Just tell him he needs to lay there."

Here. Here's my phone. See if you can get it to play music!


"The last time he had your phone we were charged $49 in apps."

Dotter wails: WE'RE GOING TO BE LATE!!

I run to the bathroom to pee, come out and lo and behold! There's Cletus laying nicely on the changing table, munching on some fruit snacks while Dad changes his diaper.

"You rewarded his temper tantrum with fruit snacks?"

It's the only way I could get him to stay still.

Feeling the pressure building in my brain I decide to exit the situation and run away. Far, far away. Which would have been a great plan had Dotter not forgotten her swim goggles. That meant I had to turn around and go back.

Thinking I was keeping one step ahead of the game I called Big V and asked if he could see the swim goggles on the kitchen counter.

Yeah, they're right here. But Cletus is playing with them.

"I'm almost in the drive. Can you run them out to me?"

Well, he's going to cry if I take them away.

"That's fine. Dotter needs them for practice."

And that's when I pulled into the driveway and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I'm not stupid. Of course I know what he's doing. He wants me to go in there and be the bad guy.

Not happening.

Not doing it.

Still waiting.

Still waiting....

Oh, for the love of -----

But just when I had given up hope the door opened, and there appeared in the glow of the light, a man.

A man holding a toddler...

a toddler that was holding a pair of swim goggles.

Really? Really?

And slowly the man holding the toddler who was holding the swim goggles walked towards my car. Where, without saying a word, I unrolled my window, snatched those goggles out of the toddler's pudgy hands and left the wailing child in his father's arms while I drove away.

You all remember The Satanic Dog, right? And how well Big V exhibited the signs of being the Alpha Male? I'm calling it right now: we are in so much trouble.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thankfully, Date Night Made Me Think Twice About Killing Big V

Next time Big V is on my shit list I'm going to have to search out where American Folklore Theatre is performing because dat der Guys & Does show was a hoot!

Twelve seconds into opening the crowd was hootin' & hollerin'! I can't even begin to describe it, except to say it was the strangest most hysterical theatre experience I'd ever been to. A lot of people in the crowd came dressed in their camo and hunting orange so that should have been a tip off right there that I was about to experience something unique. I mean: hunting groupies?! Awesome!

The basic premise was a man who had offered to take his young adult daughter's new boyfriend hunting with him for the weekend. While the dad was your typical hunter, the boyfriend was anything but. I thought I'd pass out from laughing when he whipped out his knitting.

When you're laughing that much you can't help but forget why you were mad in the first place. Half the time I was clutching my ribs from laughing so hard.

What's the difference between deer nuts and beer nuts?
Beer nuts are a dollar fifty... deer nuts are under a buck.

Intermission was lengthy. Twenty minutes. And we were sitting in the middle of the row... where you hope the people to the left or right of you move on out so you don't have to crawl over their laps. They didn't move. So we didn't move. But I wish we had - and next time I'm totally hiking across people because Young Auditorium totally serves alcohol.

I thought the second act had some slow parts in it, but overall it was just as funny as the first act. Also, the lady sitting next to me was hysterical. She kept muttering, which normally drives me nuts, but she was funny so I kind of wanted to hear what she had to say.

After the show we high tailed it over to Randy's Restaurant and Fun Hunter's Brewery where I chose a pork chop which was as big as my head. It was awesome.

Overall Score:
Most. Perfect. Date Night. Ever.
(Right under the one where I thought Big V and I were just going to a Badger Basketball game and he ended up proposing to me at half court during half time.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

oooo.... you're in TROUBLE!

Tonight is Date Night. The one in which we go to the theatre to watch a musical about deer camp. Except I want to trade in my date. Because right now Big V is irritating me in a major way. Like, in an I'm about to spear your eyeball with this fork if you even utter one more word kind of way.

It started last night when I entered our home after a long day at the office only to find several able-bodied people plopped in various comfortable positions around my living room. They called it relaxing.

The Bean had a long day at school (that ended at 2:30pm).
Dotter had a long day at her school (that ended at 3:00pm).
And Big V had a long day at work (that ended at 4:00pm).

I walked in from my long day at the office at 6:00pm.

All three turned their pathetic heads towards my direction and one of them - the biggest one, also referred to as the Role Model, actually voiced the words out loud - so that I could hear them: what are you making for dinner?

Well, that pretty much sealed his fate for the upcoming two weeks.

Except now I have to go out in public with him. And be in the company of witnesses.

Wish him luck.

Veterans Day

The following words aren't mine. In fact, they've been around so long people may have read it a time or two before, but on this great day I suspect it bears honor to read it again. I wish I knew who wrote it but I think he or she would rather each and every one of us personally thank a veteran for their service rather thank them for writing these words.

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a Jagged scar, a certain look in the eye.

Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, A piece of shrapnel in the leg or perhaps another sort of inner steel: The soul's ally forged in the refinery of adversity.

Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe Wear no badge or emblem. You can't tell a vet just by looking.

What is a vet?

He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She or he is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Danang.

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another or didn't come back AT ALL.

He is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other's backs.

He is the parade riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor remains unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket, aggravatingly slow, who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He is a Soldier, Marine, Sailor or Airman, and also a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

So remember each time you see someone who has served our country. When you see one just lean over and say Thank You.

That's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.

Two little words that mean a lot, "THANK YOU".

Tec 4 Gerald J. Sterken
HQ Co., 192 Tank Battalian

Born: 30 March 1918 - Richland, Iowa

Parents: Gerrit & Catherine Sterken
Siblings: 2 brothers, 1 sister
Hometown: Avalon, Wisconsin

Enlisted: Wisconsin National Guard
Inducted:  U. S. Army , 25 November 1940 - Janesville, Wisconisn

Duties: mechanic

Overseas Duty: Philippine Islands

Battle of Bataan

Prisoner of War:
9 April 1942
The date of surrender on Bataan.

The Death March Followed.

POW Camps:
Philippine Islands: Camp O'Donnell and Cabanatuan

Friday, 24 July 1942 -dysentery & malaria

Approximate time of death - 11:30 PM

For more information of the Men of the 192nd click here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Frank Breneisen Pottery

There is a potter located in a quaint little village by the lake.

His name is Frank Breneisen.

I am in love with his pottery. 

He also travels to faraway lands.

All by himself, carrying only a single backpack.

And he sketches what he sees in journals.

He is nothing short of amazing. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Planning for the Future

I just realized if I go blind I'm totally screwed because I don't trust dogs. Or monkeys. And there just aren't a whole lot of helpful seeing eye cats available. I once heard about someone using a miniature pony to help them get around but we all know how I feel about horse teeth. That is so not happening.

I'd rather go deaf. Mostly because I am experienced at exaggerated facial expressions which makes me confident that I could still get my various points across. Also, my primary form of communication happens to be Facebook and ridiculously lengthy text messages so that wouldn't change a bit. And everyone knows I don't talk to people out in public because I'm freakishly convinced of Stranger Danger to the they're-going-to-duct-tape-me-and-hide-me-in-the-trunk-of-their-car degree.

Not to mention, with the amount of whining and complaining that goes on in my house, a little bit of peace and quiet would be well deserved. But that got me thinking:

If I do go deaf, how long will I be able to sustain the (usually foreign accented) voices that conversate in my head? Do I have enough years of listening and talking to keep that going? Or will the sound I hear in the silence of my mind eventually be, well, silenced?

Because I think I could keep myself entertained pretty well if it was just me listening to the nonsense I come up with. Either that or I need to hurry up and get all this nonsense written down before I lose access to it.

On a completely separate note, if I end up in a nursing home when I'm old, unable to communicate, please do not let anyone put a dog on my lap. I won't mind them if they stay standing on the floor while I'm in my wheelchair but I promise to lose my mind (and probably all bladder control) if you put that thing in my lap. You never know when they're going to turn on you and rip your face off. Don't judge me; it's my irrational fear, not yours. Also, respect the elderly.

Cats are okay. Especially gray cats. Or grey cats. I've never really understood what the difference between gray and grey is and I'm far too lazy to google it. Someone find out and let me know if it's interesting.

But no birds. At all. Absolutely no birds around me ever. Not even in a cage in the building.  I swear, you watch one Alfred Hitchcock movie and live the rest of your life completely freaked at the possibility of avian violence.

Darn you, Manwich, for not speaking to the masses!

I left Big V alone with the children.

Which meant the house was clean, the pantry was stocked, the toddler had just drifted off to sleep, the teenager was taking her 4th nap of the day and the 10-year old was in the car heading out with me.

All he needed to do was sit on the couch and ensure the safe escape of two children should the house spontaneously burst into flames.

And also he needed to make dinner.

"The frying pan is already on the stove," I said, pointing to the pan sitting on the stove.

"The can of Manwich is already next to the stove on the counter," I continued, pointing to the can of Manwich sitting on the counter next to the stove.

"As are the buns." I pointed to the buns.

"All you need to do is get the hamburger out of the fridge and fry it in the pan. Then, drain the grease. Put the Manwich in. Heat it up for a few minutes and it'll be ready to eat."

Big V looked at the stove. "So, I just fry the hamburger? Drain the grease? Put the Manwich in and cook it?"

"Yep. Fry the hamburger. Drain the grease. Put the Manwich in. Stir it all together and let it cook for a bit."

"How long do I cook it?"

"Uh... I don't know. You'll have to read the can. The directions are on there. I'm late - but just read the directions."

Fast Forward two hours....

I'm sitting in the middle of a rehearsal. People are singing. I'm supposed to be singing. But I have six missed calls from Big V and another one coming in... someone must be hurt. Maybe Cletus fell down the basement steps; dammit! I've told them to make sure that door is closed! What if he broke his neck? What if he has brain damage? Ohmygod - what if he got strangled in the window blinds? That's why I tell them not to lift the blinds all the way up - the cord gets too long and drags on the floor and he likes to pull on it and what if it got twisted around his little neck and I need to take this call!


"These are the stupidest directions ever!"

"Is Cletus okay? Is he hurt? Can he breathe?!"

"It doesn't tell you anything!"

"Are you at the hopsital? Which hospital?!"

"All it says is 'heat through' - it doesn't give you a time frame or anything!"

"Do you hear that music in the background? That's me not singing at my rehearsal."

"I fried up the meat then drained the grease - which was a pain because I couldn't find a bowl big enough --"


"You know, to catch the grease. I found the strainer but I couldn't just let the grease go down the drain and all the bowls in the kitchen were too small. I finally found one big enough to rest the strainer on - in that fancy cabinet in the living room with all that pottery in there that you collect."

"You poured hamburger fat in a one of a kind Frank Breneisen?"

"Who's Frank?"

"The man's pottery I collect. Which happens to be the only thing I collect. Which I happen to love more than life itself. Which you happened to use to put grease in."

"I thought you loved me more than life itself."

"At this moment, not so much."

"Anyway. These directions are stupid. After I drained the grease I read the directions and it just says heat through. That's it! Heat through. What is that supposed to mean? There's no temperature, no time limit. Am I supposed to cook it for ten minutes? Twenty? In the oven? On the stove? Whoever wrote these directions didn't do a very good job."

"Why don't you just put it on the stove and turn it on low and cook it until it's warm enough for you to eat. You know, until it's heated through enough to be an enjoyable meal?"

"How long is that going to take?"

"Turn the knob to number 3 and set the timer to eight minutes."

"Well, why didn't they just say that on the label?"

Friday, November 4, 2011

Guys & Does: The Perfect Date Night

Next Friday Big V and I are venturing out into public not only with each other - but with good friends of ours (we really want them to be our "IT" couple... you know, the go-to couple: for dinner and drinks and vacations in Belize when they win the lottery and become filthy rich). We're heading to (my favorite place) The Young Auditorium

Now, before you go and jump to conclusions about how boring it's going to be for the guys to spend an evening at the theatre... We are going to a deer hunting musical. THAT'S RIGHT! A show about hunting up north in Wisconsin! Complete with song and dance!

Considering one of the first questions a girl in Wisconsin asks a potential suitor is, "Do you hunt?" (which is translated roughly to "will you abandon me for weeks on end in the winter months leaving me to deal with the high-strung, house-bound children all alone while you're guzzling beer by the cases and laughing about farts with your buddies?")

Here's the write up:

American Folklore Theatre of Door County, WI is touring this wacky and wonderful excursion into the world of Wisconsin deer-hunting! It's a show that appeals to hunters, non-hunters, the wives who stay home while their husbands make the annual trek to the north woods (wink, wink, nudge, nudge on the stay at home part ladies!)

The hunter is celebrated once again in Guys & Does. You’ll meet Fritz Dingleheimer, burned-out mill-worker and wise hunter ready for his annual respite “up nort’.” You’ll also experience the hunt through the eyes of Bambi-loving non-hunter, Duane Puddles. Adding another take on hunting is Joe Jimmy Ray Bob Johnson III, a swaggering Texan whose quest for rare game is not quite so noble. And providing a rarely heard point-of-view on the matter is Staghart of the Golden Horns, an ancient, talking white deer. Guys & Does explores the hunt for deer, as well as the other things we all hunt for: validation, job satisfaction, significance, love and the perfect Christmas gift for your spouse.

Join the boys Up Nort' to find out what really happens in deer camp!

I figure it'll be an all around win: I get a "real date," the guys get up north deer humor and my mom gets to deal with my children while we're out.

But that's next Friday. This Friday I'll be home cleaning the toilet. And doing laundry. And vacuuming the floors. And doing the dishes...

Guys & Does tickets for Friday, November 11, 2011 at 7:30pm available by contacting the
Young Auditorium online or by calling (262) 472-2222.

The One in which I take my Father for his Covid Vaccine

I got a voicemail the other day from the hospital saying ‘since you’re the contact on record we just want you to know your Dad can get a Cov...