The Mystery of the Mint Oreo

It was a dark and stormy night.

Okay, so it was dark because the sun went down. And it wasn’t exactly stormy but it was probably raining off and on because it did that a lot last week.

Mark and Jake had already been gone for a few days, off fishing with Brad and a group of other dads and sons. It had been a long day at work and I was happy it was Friday with an entire weekend stretching out ahead of me. Kacey was off on a date with Connor and I had the house and the Netflix menu all to myself.

I was immersed in an episode of my latest Netflix addiction. This one has eight or so seasons, so no chance of running out of things to watch anytime soon. I was prepared to watch until I could no longer keep my eyes open. Suddenly, as so often happens in the evenings when I’ve settled in and relaxed, a sugar craving struck me. The food supplies had dwindled. They don’t last long with an extra kid home for the summer along with her boyfriend who all but lives here. But I was pretty sure there was still a package of Mint Oreos hanging around. I paused my show and wandered into the kitchen to go forage in the snack cupboard where I discovered there were, in fact, a good supply of the mint-creme filled sandwich cookies.

Mint Oreos

I grabbed a few and headed back to my comfy chair in the living room, diving right back into my show. I enjoyed my first cookie in two bites. YUM! I do love Mint Oreos. And very quickly after the first was gone, took a bite out of the second cookie. As I was immersed in the drama on television, it took me a moment to realize that something was not right with the cookie. It didn’t immediately break apart as I bit into it. There seemed to be a reluctance on the part of the creme filling to separate in half. It was almost as if the filling had hardened into a leathery, fruit roll-up type substance. It occurred to me that something wasn’t right and I lunged out of the chair and straight to the kitchen wastebasket, spitting the remains of my cookie into the trash. I was vaguely aware that I should probably throw the remainder of the package away too, or at least inspect the cookies to see if we got a bad batch, but I was lured back to my show and the cookies went forgotten for the time being. Sometime later that evening, I awoke in my comfy chair having fallen asleep in the midst of another episode. I dragged myself to bed and didn’t think about the cookies again.

Saturday arrived and I was busy. I started my day with a walk outside with Lucy. Then I cleaned house and did laundry and finally showered sometime after noon. I was just getting ready to dry my hair when Connor arrived to hang out with Kacey. As boys his age often are, he was hungry. He knows where to find the frozen pizza and he took one out and preheated the oven.

Connor was finishing his pizza just about the time my hair was dried and I was presentable to leave the house. I announced that I was going to pick up a few necessities at Target. Kacey said, “I’ll go with you.”

I looked at Connor, wondering if he would tag along too, but he informed me he would stay at the house and keep Lucy company while we picked up what we needed. I’m sure his stomach needed a rest anyway after he had eaten almost an entire pizza on his own. Kacey and I weren’t gone long and were back home again within a half hour. As we were unpacking our purchases, Connor watched a ball game on t.v.

“Hey,” he said, getting our attention. “Did either of you two happen to eat a Mint Oreo that tasted kind of funny?”

“No, why,” Kacey asked?

“Maybe,” I said, eyeing Connor with suspicion. “I had a couple of cookies last night. One of them didn’t feel right so I spit it out before I could taste it.” As I was talking, it was dawning on me that Connor definitely knew something about the funky cookie. He loves to play practical jokes, especially on Kacey and Mark.

“Connor, what did you do?”  I was suddenly very creeped out with the fear of what he could possibly have done to that cookie. I had put it in my mouth! I couldn’t even imagine what he might have done and why, but I was assuming the worst.

“Connor Dane, YOU TELL ME RIGHT NOW!” Connor was looking sheepish while simultaneously trying to hide his smile and I couldn’t help but laugh. I was hit with the full realization that Connor had somehow tampered with one of the cookies. He must have checked the package of cookies while we were gone and saw that someone had fallen victim to his prank.

Connor was fast-talking now, trying to justify what he had done. “I thought Mark was the only one who ate Mint Oreos…”

Kacey interjected, “My dad is probably the only one who doesn’t eat Mint Oreos!”

Connor continued, “So I opened up one of the cookies and squeezed toothpaste into it. Then I put it back together and stuck it in the middle of the package.” (The cookies were gone just about to the middle of the package when I had taken a few. I definitely got the toothpaste cookie.)

“CONNOR,” I yelled with mock indignation. “You are SO lucky I didn’t actually eat that cookie!”

“Yeah, Connor,” Kacey chimed in! “What were you thinking?” My dad’s gone for five days! Next time you try to play a trick on him, you might want to make sure he’s actually here to be your victim.”

Clearly, Connor is not a very smart practical joker, but we love him so I’ll forgive him. Mark got a good laugh when he heard how I’d become the unsuspecting victim of the ridiculous prank. As for me, just as soon as I can figure out how to make Connor unknowingly eat a brussels sprout, I will consider us even!

How to brighten my day via text message:

Text messaging is a wonderful invention, (when used properly, of course.) Don’t you think? My days are often made brighter when I hear a little vibration from my phone and notice there are unopened messages awaiting me.

text unread

The following are real-life examples of text messages sent by friends or family members that have actually brought a smile to my face.

Random observations are always welcome.

Cori Text

 

Requests for gift-giving advice … always welcome.

text monkey powder

 

Statements about my obsession with my dogs … Welcome.

text ecardPictures of your cute dogs … Always welcome. (Cute babies are more than welcome as well!)

text BertEven pictures of your arm, strategically focused to look like a butt … are welcome. But not too often, CONNOR!

text armBut pictures of a sunny Florida beach? Sent from your position on a sunny Florida beach? When you know damn well that it is 6 below zero up here where I am?

text beach

Not welcome! Likely to be met with retaliation of some form.

Now you know.

 

 

 

 

God’s not in the mailbox

As it often does, the lunch time conversation turned to religion. We each talked about the different ways we were raised in our faiths, our pitfalls along the way, the different beliefs we’ve held over the years. I mentioned my disappointment over the fact that I couldn’t recall having one of those big faith moments that so many people have experienced. You know the ones – those moments when someone clearly hears God speaking, or sees Him in the everyday surroundings, or simply has a defining moment when His presence is undeniably felt. I said that maybe it’s a failure on my own part that I haven’t had one of those moments. Either way, it contributes to my struggle with religion.

I wanted to lighten the mood, so I relayed an experience I had just last night. I was reading. Mark was watching t.v. and opening mail. I hadn’t been minding my husband, but he caught my attention when I heard him say, “Oh that was freaky! This is freaking me out! Look at this!”

I looked up to find him holding a sheet of paper in front of me that looked like this:

“Just stare into His eyes,” Mark told me. “Stare at them for a few minutes and you’ll see them open!”

So I stared.

And I stared.

And I stared some more.

I could literally feel my heart sink. His eyes didn’t open for me. I was sure it was a sign of my failure to be strong in my faith.

“His eyes aren’t opening for me,” I sort of whined to Mark.

“Just keep looking. They’ll open.”

I stared more. I knew what this was. I’ve seen plenty of optical illusions in my time. I couldn’t make this one work.

“I can’t see it,” I said to Mark, feeling defeated. And then I Googled the image to see what my failure said about me.

I explained to my coworkers that I was relieved to see that according to Google, this illusion was unanimously seen as a scam. The picture comes to you by mail. When you see the eyes of Jesus open, you are amazed and filled with awe. And this will make you want to follow the enclosed instructions and send your prayer requests (and some moolah!) to the designated church, which only exists as a P.O. box. Some “pastor” is getting rich off this scam. But he’s getting nada from me because the miracle failed to materialize for me.

My coworkers wanted to see the image that had me so bothered, so after lunch, I passed on a link. Thus ensued the following instant message conversation:

I’d like to think God has a sense of humor. I sure hope so because this had me laughing harder today than I’ve laughed in … I don’t know … a long time! And I’ve really been feeling like I could use a laugh lately. My coworkers sensed my feelings of worry over a silly mailing and took it upon themselves to make me see the lighter side of it. And anyone who has coworkers like mine would surely feel blessed!

Have I learned anything from this experience? Yes. I can find God wherever I think I might find him. It doesn’t have to be where others tell me he should be found.

Valentine’s Day, Schmalentine’s Day

My husband doesn’t listen very well. I told him, “NO Valentine’s Day gifts this year.”

Did he listen to me? No.

I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. It’s a fabricated holiday designed to get us to buy cards and spend money on unnecessary gifts to prove our love to another. You want to show me you love me? Make the bed. Clean the kitchen. Cook dinner sometime. And stay on your own side of the bed when I’m sleeping.

My husband is not a good gift hider either. He really should learn that if he wants to hide a gift from me, he should put it somewhere I’m not likely to go. Like the grocery store. The closet in our bedroom is not a very creative hiding place. I knew on Saturday what he was giving me when I … get this … went into my own closet! That’s okay. It gave me time to figure out how much money I did or didn’t have to spend on him.

He did tone it down a bit this year and just got me a big box of chocolates. Good ones. I’m not complaining. There’s never a bad time for chocolate. Last year he got me a Nook e-reader. I wasn’t complaining then either, but it seemed a bit extravagant for a holiday I don’t even believe in. I didn’t feel strongly enough to return the Nook though. That was a damn fine gift. Probably one of my favorite gifts he ever got me!

I hate looking for Valentine’s Day cards. I read all those mushy, sentimental cards and I have to fight to keep from sticking my finger down my throat and making a gagging sound. We like to get each other stupid humorous cards that convey the idea that, “Hey, we may get on each other’s nerves on a daily basis, and it may drive you nuts that I left the vacuum cleaner in the living room two days ago and still haven’t put it away. It might annoy me that you can’t watch one t.v. station for five minutes without flipping to another channel, but you do have some wonderful qualities which I don’t acknowledge nearly often enough and congratulations to us on managing to stay married anyway.”

This year, he got me a fine specimen of a card with a caveman on it, with caveman-ish sentiments inside.

 

Personally, I kind of like the part that calls me “hot like fire.” At my age, not many would be so inclined to describe me that way. It was perfect. Because I got him this one:

Because nothing says LOVE like making fun of each other’s imperfections. And an Adele CD, which is what I got him. And if he’s lucky, I’ll let him put his feet over on my side of the bed tonight.

Happiness is a Bunch of Toys

It was a busy and very productive day. Contrary to yesterday, things seemed to go just as planned and there was no headache at day’s end. After work, we met our friends, Dave and Shelly for a long overdue dinner together. We had such fun. Shelly had us in stitches telling us how her daughter, (and Kacey’s friend) Andrea always takes her check card when she needs to go buy a few necessities. One day while Andrea was off with the check card, Shelly called her and asked, “Are you still at the store?”

“I’m just leaving,” Andi said.

“I need you to do me a favor,” Shelly told her. I’m really having bad poops lately. I need you to go back in the store and ask the pharmacist if they sell home enema kits.”

“MOM! Are you kidding me???” came Andi’s reply.

We were doubled over with laughter as Shelly explained how she pulls these jokes on Andrea all the time. And poor Andi! She never knows if Mom is being serious or pulling her leg. I told Shelly that in all the years we’ve been friends, I never knew she was such a prankster. That’s the great thing about good friendships. There’s always something new to learn about each other. (I hope she won’t mind that I shared her story. It was too good not to share!)

After dinner, we came home to relax and let dinner digest. Lucy welcomed us home by parading all of her toys for us and then leaving them scattered all over the family room floor. Here she’s surrounded herself with most of her favorites. There’s only one stuffed toy she hasn’t ripped apart and removed all of the stuffing. We call this one Baby. She insists on having Baby when she has to go in her kennel and she always brings Baby out with her when we let her loose again.

Clearly, my dog is a never-ending source of cuteness for me. I’m such a sap.

The Difficult, Challenging, Sorta Good, Very Long Day

I have a headache. Everything I touched today fell apart.

Okay, no. It’s not that everything really fell apart. It’s just that everything became such a bigger deal than it was supposed to be. And I’m not complaining. Because there’s nothing I love more than being challenged and I probably haven’t been challenged enough lately. But if we could space these challenges out some, I might not have a headache.

AND … just when I thought my head was about to explode, I called home from the office, just as a courtesy, because I am nice like that, unlike some other spouses I know, to let my spouse know that I was still at work when I would normally be halfway home and that I would be just a little bit late today.

(I should get some sort of prize for that run-on sentence. Do they award chocolate for poor sentence structure?)

So as I was saying, I called home. I said I would be late. The husband said, “Okay. But will you do me a favor please?”

I didn’t even wonder what the favor might be. I was tired. I said, “Sure. What?”

At this point, he would normally say something like, “Drive careful, will ya?” Except today he didn’t say that. Today he said, “Say hi to Lucy will you?”

“WHAT?” I screech-whispered into the phone, hunching forward and tucking the phone in closer to my face. “No. No. I am not talking on the phone to our dog!”

“Yes. Come on. Just do it.” He was cracking himself up now. There was no question in his mind that this was going to happen. I’m not sure where this was coming from because, you’re just going to have to trust me when I say that my husband does not normally have silly tendencies. That’s my department.

“Mark. No. Stop it,” I whispered fiercely. I was not in the mood for this. This is something my daughter would do, not my husband.

“Yes. Come on. Hold on while I put the phone by her ear,” he was insisting.

He needs to get out more, I thought as I resigned myself to the fact that, like it or not, I was going to become the doofus who talks to her dog on the phone. But I refused to pretend like it was cute and funny.

“Okay,” Mark’s voice sounded a little more distant now. “Say hi to her.”

I hunkered further down at my desk, casting sidelong glances to make sure no one was witnessing this colossal act of stupidity. I lowered my voice, and so as to discourage any further attempts on his part to solicit any further participation on my part, I muttered in the flattest tone I could muster, “hi. lucy.”

Mark was giggling. I swear he was giggling and then cracking up and his voice came back clearly on the phone as he laughed, “Her butt is wiggling and she’s bouncing off the walls! Do it again! Hold on…”

Please God, not again.

“Mark, no… if you ever want me to get home tonight….”

My pleas were interrupted. “Never mind. She ran off to the front door. She’s looking for you outside.” He was still giggling.

“Yeah. I’m gonna get my work done here so I can come home tonight anyway,” I said dryly, trying to make him see my eyes rolling via mental telepathy.

“Okay. See ya in a while!” He was still laughing. Clearly he was oblivious to the fact that I was rolling my eyes at him. Or he was choosing not to acknowledge it. He’s an expert at that.

I’m sure you think that this story ends with my headache magically disappearing due to the comedic relief provided by my husband and dog. You’d be wrong. But there is a happy ending in that I did eventually make it home where my dog attempted to wiggle her butt off the back-end of her body in her overwhelming joy at seeing me again. And she tried to eat my black boots as I was attempting to get them off my feet. But I didn’t even care because it sure was nice to have such a warm welcome after such a challenging day. But I am  definitely not having any more phone conversations with Lucy. She’s a terrible conversationalist and her phone manners are deplorable!

Happiness is Celebrating the Little Things … and Hanukkah

Happiness is celebrating the little things. That was the message inside the foil wrapper of a Dove chocolate that I ate today. How true that is!

I think we proved this in the office today. The announcement yesterday of The Twelve Days of Holiday Fun was well-received. People seemed genuinely surprised, excited even, and several stopped to thank me for my part in the planning.

Today we had our first actual event – a pot-luck breakfast. We actually have a put-luck meal once a month to celebrate birthdays, so technically, this event wasn’t planned specially for the holidays. It just happened to fit nicely in our holiday schedule.

Normally when we have a pot-luck meal, the same people participate and the same other people do not. There’s usually a noticeable absence of management-type participation. And I get it. Those people are busy people. On any given day they are juggling more projects than they can possibly hope to get caught up on. They don’t purposely not participate in these team building things. They just don’t have time to slow down.

Still, it has often been said that it would go a long way to boost morale around the office if the management-types made the time to contribute to the put-luck meals. It would give the staff such a boost if management made it a point to grab a plate and just spend some time eating and talking with their people, even if it was only for a few minutes.

So … Denise poked her head into the CEO’s office one afternoon last week. It just so happened that the CIO was there too. She asked for just a moment of their time and explained that we were making the breakfast pot-luck a part of our holiday events schedule. She told them she thought it would go a long way with the employees if the two of them would commit to participating in the pot-luck event. They agreed and wanted to know what she was thinking. She told them that she thought they should cook French toast for the employees. Denise would bring all of the ingredients and supplies if they would commit to one hour of cooking and team-building with their staff. They agreed without hesitation and one of them even committed to bring in a couple of electric griddles on which to cook the French toast.

Every month there is a sign up sheet on the company intranet where people sign up for the pot-luck and designate what food they will bring. I think when people heard that the two big guys would be cooking and serving, they were more motivated to join the fun. We had the best turn-out in months! There was more food than we knew what to do with and everyone was talking about what fun it was and what a great meal it was.

A pot-luck breakfast. Such a simple thing. But there was a definite boost in the mood around the office.

Friday’s event is an office/cubicle decorating contest. I was at the store tonight, looking around for something to decorate with. I saw a Justin Bieber ornament and some Justin Bieber Christmas wrapping paper. For a moment, I considered being really weird and going with a  Justin Bieber theme. The idea was just so stupid it was funny! But the side of me that wants to be taken seriously wouldn’t let me do it.

I’m still going to have some goofy fun though. I know my boss won’t participate in the decorating contest. He just doesn’t have it in him and really doesn’t have the time. But he likes to have fun and poke fun with the best of them. He was ribbing me today. I can’t let him have the last word.

I found some Hanukkah wrapping paper at home. I have no idea where I got it nor why I have it since I am not now, nor have I ever been Jewish. At the store tonight, I found a little box full of foam Hanukkah stickers. My boss’ office door is going to get decorated for Hanukkah.

By the way… He’s not Jewish either.

I’ll try to remember to take pictures. :-)