And so the Wedding Years Begin

My kids have great friends. I have often thought this and am always grateful that they are surrounded by such good people. A few of those friends have been there all along, sticking it out through the years and along the road of life as they grew up together with my kids.

Justin is one of those friends who has come and gone through our house for many years. He’s been Brad’s friend since they first played baseball together, probably around the time they were in middle school. When he and Brad attended the same high school, their bond grew stronger. Their friendship intensified over a mutual love of the outdoors and countless fishing and hunting trips. They grew even closer when Brad stood by Justin’s side as he and his family endured the loss of Justin’s older sister, Katie to bone cancer when she was barely beyond her high school years. There was that horrible car accident they somehow survived with just a few scratches and bruises. And there were the college years when they went in different directions, but still held tight to their friendship.

Justin is one of those friends we just can’t help but love. He has been a true and loyal friend to our oldest son. And we got to see him this past weekend! I sat in a bright, pretty church on a sunny Saturday afternoon, looking upon a young man standing before family and friends. He was gazing in absolute adoration at the young woman, Jenny, to whom he was about to be wed. He was glowing with such happiness that it brought tears to my eyes.

It was the most beautiful wedding, not only because Justin and Jenny were so clearly meant for each other. They not only celebrated their new life together, but honored the memory of Justin’s sister in their ceremony by making her an honorary bridesmaid. As the congregation stood waiting for the wedding party to process, a cousin first came forward with Katie’s bouquet and placed it in a vase on the altar. Justin stood in his place at the front of the church, remembering Katie and unable to fight back the tears. All of us who knew Katie’s story were in tears at that moment, watching Justin and remembering with him. But a few minutes later, after bridesmaids and groomsmen (my son included,) were in their places, Justin’s tears turned to tears of joy as Jenny’s dad brought her to Justin’s side. Later on at the reception, there were happy memories and toasts, dancing, and an air of pure celebration.

There aren’t many weddings in my memory where such love and joy seemed so tangible. It’s hard to believe that Justin, the “boy” we’ve come to know and love, is old enough to be married. But he is. He’s found his soul mate and I couldn’t be happier for him. Brad had such a good time being a member of the wedding party and he and Heather danced the night away at the reception.

It was such a memorable occasion, one that left some of us hoping for a very similar, very special kind of day in our family’s near future!

Twenty Five Years

Twenty five years has made us who we are. We tend to deal with life and each other with a bit of sarcasm softened with humor. Sometimes minus the humor, but usually with humor.

Due to some significant expenses both recently and in the near future, I declared this a cards-only anniversary. On Saturday, while doing some boring domestic-type shopping, I remembered to look for an anniversary card for my hubby. I thought to myself, “Mark never gets me a flowery, romantic card. He always gets me a ‘funny’ card. I’m not gonna get him a mushy-gushy card. I’m getting him a ‘funny’ card.”

I browsed through the cards, contemplating what said “Mark” to me the most. I finally picked one that seemed the most Markish.

Meanwhile, Mark was picking out a card that seemed the most Terri-ish.

Today’s the big day. Twenty five years. While Mark was still sleeping, I went to get the card I had bought him. And as I was getting ready for work, I found the card he’d left out for me to find when I awoke today.

 

I guess this means we’re compatible.

Anniversary Card

Those three little words? “Let’s eat out!”

Life is Good – December 18, 2011

Everyone wishes their lives were all shiny and perfect. No one really has a life like that though. Not one hundred percent of the time.

Here in these pages, I can write whatever I like. I try to keep it upbeat. Probably makes it look like things are pretty darn nice around here. And they are, most of the time. I can’t complain. But we have our share of imperfections. Today was one of those days that heartily reminded us of our imperfections.

It’s funny how the people in a family can be very like one another, and in other ways, very different. Sometimes different equals difficult. Sometimes different means hard to understand. Come to think of it, sometimes our similarities make us butt heads! (As in we butt heads with each other, not we are butt-heads. Then again, maybe both are true!)

I try to be patient with what I don’t understand. I try to be open. I hope that my kids know they can rely on me, even if they don’t want to talk to me. As a mom, it’s hard when your kids don’t let you inside. But I hope they always know that I love them, even when I am unhappy with them.

When I feel closed out, I try to rise above it. I try to keep being a mother who is able to show her kids that she loves them, no matter what, no matter their successes or their failures, no matter their similarities or their differences. No matter how they feel about themselves or about the rest of their family members, I hope they always know that I love them. But I think I have the right to speak up when someone falls short of being respectful of others. I have the right to say so when someone doesn’t carry their weight around the house. And I think I have the right to say so without feeling disregarded.

Understandably, telling someone else that they are falling short isn’t going to be met with enthusiasm. I get that. But sometimes there are issues that just need to be addressed.

I lost my cool today. I’m not proud of myself when that happens. Sometimes it just can’t be helped. But me losing my cool resulted in others losing their cool. Big time. All I could think about was the fact that we are one week from Christmas and we were having ourselves a rip-roaring, three-way screaming match. Great. Just great. And it doesn’t feel good when you’ve let it all out that way. It just feels like failure. The silence and the walking on eggshells afterward is proof of that failure.

It’s my way to crawl inside my shell after something like this. I need to stay to myself for a while when I feel slammed this way. We’ll all sleep on it and we’ll test the waters with each other in the coming days and hopefully we’ll remember that we are a family with our own unique ups and downs and that when it’s all said and done, we love one another. I hope we can all remember that.

So yeah. Days like this suck. But days like this are bound to happen. And as hard as it is to admit it right now, this was just one day in the broad scheme of days. This is our life. Not all wonderful and perfect, but still … a pretty good life.

I’ll just be happy to put this one behind us.

I haven’t written because I’ve been busy fighting with my husband and such

It’s been requested that I get the lamp shade off my head and write another post. I guess it has been a few days, hasn’t it? What can I say? I’ve been busy.

Things at work are going swimmingly, but busily! Busy is good, right?

And the after-work hours have been busy this week too. I bowled one night this week (very well, thank you!) Another night we took Lucy to meet Mark’s parents. She was extremely sweet and gentle with Grandma and Grandpa. Mark’s dad is recovering from a bout of pneumonia and Lucy seemed to sense that she needed to be extra gentle with these people. She walked right up to where Grandpa was sitting and rested her chin on his knees and let him pet her and tell her what a good girl she was. Then Grandpa showed Lucy where the doggy treat cupboard is and proceeded to feed her several treats.

Oh, and then there was the night that I was home, but I didn’t have time to write because I had to go to bed early because I was mad at Mark. See, there was an issue involving one of our children. Not an extremely serious issue, mind you, but one that needed discussing. I suspected Mark’s reaction would be less than calm. I suspected his reaction would be something like …

No! Not happening. To which I would reply, “Well wait a minute. Let’s talk about this.”

To which he would then say, Fine. But then (child in question) can plan on paying for all of this out of their own pocket! To which I would say, “Can I say something here?”

To which he would respond, Fine. Do whatever you want. I don’t care.

To which I responded by telling him that those three reactions are exactly how he always responds when there isn’t an easy answer to a problem and that he can’t just expect to proclaim his decision and then sweep the issue under the rug.

To which he responded that I always think he should never get angry and that I always cater to the kids. To which I told him “For your information, I am not necessarily in favor of this and I have all kinds of feelings about this but you are so busy making decisions all by yourself that you couldn’t even bother to act like a grown-up and have a reasonable discussion with me.

At which point I shut myself in the bathroom because I was done talking to him and didn’t want to continue. At which point he knocked on the door and said, I’m sorry. What are you feeling? To which I hollered, “ANGRY!” To which he responded, So I’m thinking you don’t want to discuss this right now? To which I said, “Not particularly.”

And being the pig-headed woman who I am, I required a couple of hours to stew about the whole thing (during which time he would ask, Are you still mad at me? To which I would lie unconvincingly and say no) before deciding to punish him by depriving him of my presence and going to bed early. Like 8:30 early.

(May I just take a moment here to give my husband credit for putting up with the emotional tornado he calls his wife?)

And so I slept on it and woke up realizing that the problem was not Mark’s reaction at all, since I knew this to be his typical reaction. The problem was that I took his reaction personally. Again. Twenty-three years of this, you’d think I’d have this figured out by now. So I now know that in the future, I should expect these very reactions from him in the face of difficult decisions, let him get them off his chest and proceed after he’s done pretending he’s in charge of everything. Because we all know that it’s really me who is in charge of everything anyway.

I’M KIDDING! (Sort of.)

So anyway, that’s why I’ve been a slacker this week. Sorry if I’ve disappointed anyone with my lack of writing. I promise to try harder to keep up from now on.

Family Harmony Classes

Kids (and husbands) of all ages are welcome:

Replacing the Toilet Paper Roll 101

3 Sessions Available

March 5, 2010          9:00 – 9:01 a.m.

March 6, 2010          1:30 – 1:31 p.m.

March 7, 2010          3:15 – 3:16 p.m.

Class sizes limited to three. That’s all we can fit in the bathroom at one time.

~~~~~~~~~~

Where Do the Empty Milk Cartons Go?

Contrary to popular belief, empty milk cartons placed on the kitchen counter or in the sink aren’t likely to find their own way to the trash. Come join us as we explore the mechanics of opening the kitchen trash can and the proper placement of said cartons. Participants will receive a cold glass of milk as part of their training. (White and chocolate varieties available.)

Bonus training includes an in-depth discussion of reasons NOT to leave 2 tablespoons of milk in the carton so as to “justify” returning the carton to the refrigerator.

1 Session Only

March 6, 2010          1:45 p.m.

Class size is 10. The kitchen is much bigger than the bathroom.

~~~~~~~~~~

Guided Tour of the Home in Which You’ve Lived for the Vast Majority of Your Life

Includes a detailed exploration of the mysterious location of the laundry hamper.

March 6, 2010          10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

~~~~~~~~~~

It’s a Crummy Life

Come join us as Mom demonstrates several techniques for wiping up counters and tables after food preparation and eating. Also includes instruction on deciphering nasty smells and the frequency in which the dishcloth should be changed. Participants will be shown the location of the linen closet (contrary to popular belief, it hasn’t moved in 22 years) and where to find stacks of clean dish cloths within.

March 5, 2010          6:30-7:00 p.m.  (Right after dinner when we’ll have ample opportunity to provide examples.)

Awards will be given at the end of each class for those able to participate without rolling their eyes or snide remarks.

Register now. Classes are filling up quickly!

Drama Queen

Communication can be a problem at times in any marriage. I sometimes feel that my husband makes it a point to make communication harder than it has to be. I’ve taken to referring to him as “Drama Queen” because of this tendency.
 
Mark likes to notify me that there is something of which I’ll soon be hearing. Then when I ask him what it is, he says, “I can’t tell you. You’ll have to wait to hear it from so-and-so yourself.” 
 
Take, for instance, the other day when I came home from work. I asked where Jake was and Mark told me he was out fishing with a friend. Then he added, “And by the way, Jake has some big news to tell you!”
 
Of course, I gave him the expected response. I’m sure my eyes grew big as I asked him with anticipation, “What? What is it?”
 
“I can’t tell you. You’ll have to wait until Jake gets home so you can hear it from him.”
 
Irritated now, I asked, “Then why did you bother to say anything? Why didn’t you just say nothing and let Jake tell me when he gets home?”
 
Mark just shrugged and couldn’t explain himself, as usual and so I reminded him again of his tendency toward the dramatic. In the end, it turns out that Jake had caught a big muskie and Mark wanted Jake to tell me himself. Before that could happen, Jake sent a picture text to Mark’s cell phone and I saw the fish long before Jake even had a chance to tell me himself. I don’t even think Jake cared about being the one to tell me the story of the big fish.
 
See what I mean?
 
Yesterday evening, Mark was at work and he called me at home. He asked if Brad was at home and I said that he was.
 
“Did he have a conversation with you,” Mark asked me?
 
“Not really, no. He was sleeping when I got home and we haven’t really talked yet,” I told him. “Why?”
 
“I told him he needs to talk to you about something he told me.”
 
Here we go again.
 
“What,” I asked? “What’s going on?”
 
“I’m not going to be the one to tell you. I told him he has to be the one to break the news to you.”
 
“Fine,” I said. “I’m waking him up right now.”
 
With Mark still on the phone, I woke up Brad and asked, “Do you have something you want to talk to me about?”
 
Brad had started work very early yesterday morning, which is why he was napping in the early evening. Looking a little groggy, he confirmed he had something to discuss with me. At that point, Mark told me he was going to hang up and let us talk. I was thinking the worst. I was panicked. I wondered if Brad had been fired from his job, was dropping out of school or worse…if this was a girlfriend-related issue. The word “pregnancy” sprang to mind as I saw my son’s future drastically changing very quickly.
 
“Brad,” I began. “What is going on?”
 
“Ummm…” he looked me in the eye. “Heather (his girlfriend) is going to live with us.”
 
I was confused. I wondered why Heather would want to come live in our house when she attends school in North Dakota. How did her parents feel about this? And why hadn’t Brad asked me if this was OK? Why was he simply telling me this as if I had no say in the matter. I blinked. And then the light bulb went on.
 
“OH! Heather is going to be one of your room mates when you go back to school?”
 
Brad looked cautious, trying to gauge my reaction. “Yes.”
 
“Will she have her own bedroom?”
 
“Mom! What do you think? Of course,” he replied, seemingly breathing a sigh of relief at the fact that I wasn’t going postal on him.
 
“That’s all,” I asked?
 
“That’s all,” he said.
 
I was OK with this news. Brad and his room mates needed one more person to share the rent. I already knew this. I felt that Heather staying in the same house seemed safer than her other options, for reasons I won’t get into. They are good kids and I trust them. I reminded Brad that they are young, and if a break-up were to occur, that would make things uncomfortable, to say the least. So he needed to be prepared for the possibility that things might not to work out as well as he might hope.
 
“Mom, there isn’t anything you can bring up that I haven’t considered. I know.”
 
So that was that.
 
“Your dad made this sound very dire,” I laughed.
 
“I can imagine,” Brad agreed knowingly.
 
“I should call and tell him we’ve got it all out in the open,” I said with a gleam in my eye. Brad smiled while I dialed. When Mark picked up the phone, I laid into him.
 
“So you’re comfortable with this living together business,” I demanded?
 
“Well…. I said I was OK with it, depending on you being OK with it…”
 
“Our son is shacking up with his girlfriend and you’re just fine with this,” I accused!
 
“I…..I….ummm…”
 
“How are we going to explain this to our parents,” I went on, winking at Brad. Brad picked up another phone, turned it on, pressed the mute button and began to listen.
 
“Well, maybe we shouldn’t mention it if you think they’ll be bothered by it,” Mark was saying.
 
“And you think it’s alright that they are sharing the same room? SHARING THE SAME BED,” I ranted on?
 
“Now wait a minute. I…I…I didn’t know anything about that. Brad told me that Heather would have her own room,” he defended himself.
 
I was on a roll. My words were growing more heated. “I told Brad that if he is going to be living in sin with his girlfriend, he damn well better invest in a big old box of condoms. Didn’t we raise him to know better than this?”
 
Brad was nearly in hysterics. I was waiting for Mark to respond. Mark was at a loss as to how to respond. He obviously didn’t expect this reaction from me.
 
Finally, I couldn’t contain myself any longer. With a snort, I burst into hysterics while Brad un-muted his phone.
 
“Dad! You should have heard yourself,” he said. “I was trying so hard not to laugh out loud while mom was talking!”
 
“Yep,” I said. “We talked it out and everything’s fine here.” The laughter continued on my end while we waited for Mark’s reaction.
 
“Who’s the Drama Queen now,” I asked? Finally, Mark conceded and let out a laugh and a sigh of relief.
 
“You guys are toast,” was all he could say.
 
Maybe so. But for now, I’m enjoying my reign as The Queen!
 

I'm sweating the small stuff…

and I need to quit.

Seriously, why do we throw graduation parties for our kids? Wouldn’t it be easier to toss a bundle of money at them and call it good?

A word to the wise. When your son decides he wants stuffed manicotti at his grad party, and your husband suggests making grandma’s home-made spaghetti sauce, you should not say to yourself…

“Self? Wouldn’t homemade stuffed manicotti and Grandma’s sauce be good? Won’t everyone just love all your homemade food? What a great idea!”

No…Instead, pull your head out of your nether regions and just say no. And call a caterer.

Seriously though, I think I have the food situation under control. Gina (the best friend) came over Monday night and we did an assembly line production of stuffed manicotti. I cooked the pasta and mixed up the cheese mixture. She brought some kind of cake decorating tool that looks like a cookie press, filled it up with the cheese mixture and squirted the cheese inside the pasta. We got nine pans done Monday night and I made five more Tuesday morning. I hurt my shoulder filling all those shells. (Don’t ask.) And did I mention that I didn’t think that the manicotti would be enough pasta? I didn’t. I decided to add mostaciolli to the menu and spent the rest of Tuesday afternoon making ten pounds of meatballs and three batches of Grandma’s sauce. Everything is in the freezer and ready to just toss into the roasters on Friday. Now I just have to make a couple more batches of sauce for the manicotti. That’ll be easy enough. It’s just a matter of dumping some ingredients and adding some spices and cooking on the stove for a couple hours. Yes, that will be easy enough if I’m not in jail for killing someone first.

You might have guessed that tensions are running a little high around here.  Some of the big stuff that could have been done, oh… I don’t know… anytime in the past year, as opposed to leaving everything until the last minute… didn’t get done before this week. Divorce court, session two nearly happened last night over the hanging of some pictures. Alright. Nine pictures, to be exact. I’ll explain. There’s a wall in our entryway that has never been decorated to my liking. Using the grad party as an excuse to do all the home improvements that we’ve let slide over the years, I decided to take care of that wall. I had nine of my flower photos printed. I framed them and enlisted Mark to facilitate the hanging of all of these photos. Did I mention the wall in question is a section of wall over the stairway to the lower level? Did I mention this project would require the use of an extension ladder? Did I mention that I had a vague idea of the placement of said pictures, but no solid plan because I was sure Mark could figure out details such as spacing and measurements and patterns? I just may have set my expectations a little too high and let me just tell you it was a recipe for disaster when things were not happening to my liking. Thankfully, Brad stepped in with a great idea for the placement. Tempers cooled and pictures got hung to my liking. Crisis averted.

On the plus side, this house is going to see a level of cleanliness and organization such as it hasn’t seen in a couple of years, since the last graduation party. I wonder if I’ll learn a lesson from this and face the next graduation party in two years with a little more organization and planning?

What?

It could happen!

Cool Balls

Does anyone else find themselves needing to say things like this to their spouse?

“If you suffocate my cat, I will suffocate YOU!”

It occurs to me that it’s kind of odd I find it necessary to ask my husband not to trap my cat under a comforter and then torment her from the outside. It’s not the first time a warning of this nature has been made. Of course, this is the same man to whom I’ve just explained for the millionth time that he can’t command the kids not to pout after he’s reprimanded them. Especially the girl kid. She is going to pout. That’s what girls do. Get over it. Sheesh. Besides, he should be used to pouting by now. He’s married to me.

HarveysMark, Kacey and I went over to the new Pinz to have some dinner and check out the place. The restaurant inside Pinz is called Harvey’s Pub and the food was excellent! I had a turkey avocado wrap, Kacey had chicken quesadillas and Mark had the philly cheese steak hoagie. I just grazed on everyone’s food. It was that good. It was big food too. I had to get a to-go box for my leftovers.

ball-largeAfter dinner we went to check out the rest of the place. The bowling alley is very cool, very state of the art. While Mark was checking it out, I wandered into the pro-shop and made friends with the… I guess you would call him “The Pro.” I was checking out his balls….ahemthe selection of bowling balls on display in the shop. There were pink balls, blue balls, sparkly balls, swirly balls and even Harley Davidson balls. Kacey thought I should go for the Hello Kitty ball, but it wasn’t my style. I’m leaning toward a little hot pink and black number, myself.

Mike, my new friend, The Pro, asked me if I was interested in a ball. I mentioned I might be, but didn’t know what to look for as I am very much a novice when it comes to bowling balls.

“You throw a hook or a straight ball,” he asked?

“Straight.”

“You wanna learn to throw a hook?”

“I might,” I said.

“If you want to buy a ball, I’ll help you figure out which one is best for you and I can teach you to throw a hook in three throws,” he assured me.

“Really? You give lessons? Here?”

“We’ll go wherever you’re bowling, watch you bowl and teach you some basics.”

Not a bad deal!

By this time I was leaning over the counter, deep in conversation with Mike when Mark finally wandered in, probably afraid that I was spending a bundle of money. I glanced at him and mentioned I was trying to decide which of Mike’s balls I liked best.

“I’m picking out a ball,” I tossed over my shoulder.

“She’s thinking about one of these, right here up front,” Mike said.

Mark had a questioning look on his face. “How much?”

“About $270,” Mike stated, matter of factly.

I like Mike. I didn’t even have to tell him to play along. Of course, Mark wasn’t really fooled and Mike was even nice enough to suggest I wait until August to make my purchase as there would be about thirty new styles coming out in the much-less-than $270 range.

Yeah, so I guess I’m getting serious about my bowling.

After we said goodbye to Mike, we hit the arcade and laser tag area to watch Jake working behind the prize counter. I tried not to embarrass him too much when I waved from across the arcade and shouted, “Hi honey! Don’t you look handsome in your work uniform!”

I’m kidding! I wouldn’t do that to my kid in front of his peers.

Jake looked pretty confident and very personable. I was proud of him! I discreetly caught his attention during a free moment and asked if he was scheduled to work this weekend. He said he wasn’t, so I mentioned that I had checked out the bowling alley and asked if he wanted to bowl a few games this weekend. The place is very cool! Jake gave me a very non-committal “maybe.” It’s the best I can expect when asking my 18 year old if he wants to hang out with his old mom.

We let Jake get back to work and spent a few bucks in the arcade. Kacey and I played the giant Guitar Hero game and rocked out on Mississippi Queen. Mark played some shooting games, one of them a giant virtual reality kind of thing where he was shooting at gigantic monster spiders. I was grossed out. I’m going to have nightmares. Unless maybe I end up dreaming about hot pink balls instead.

Of Blessed and Not-So-Blessed Unions

I was jolted out of a sound sleep at six o’clock this morning by the ringing of an alarm clock. I lay on my back for a moment, heart pounding, eyes wide open, desperately trying to clear the cobwebs from my head and figure out what day it was. I heard Mark ask me, “What’s wrong?” With much relief, I realized it was only Sunday. He had to go to work, but I didn’t.

After he left for work, I tried but couldn’t drift off again. Of course, after an awakening like that one, it was impossible to go back to sleep. I slipped out from under the covers and padded to the family room to peek out the windows. The sun was shining and it looked like a good day for a run, so I quickly changed and slipped out the door while the kids still slept.

The weather over the course of the past few days has not been ideal or even typical for this time of year. It’s been gloomy, windy and has rained off and on. In fact, on Saturday, the wind was nearly gale force and temperatures were downright cold. I was relieved this morning to find the wind had died down. It was still a little on the chilly side, but I almost prefer that when I run. With my back feeling so much better, I feel like I’ve finally found my groove again with the running. I found my pace today for the first time in months and had an incredible run. I feel SO good!

I was concerned that the weather was going to ruin an important day this weekend. Our next door neighbors, Kevin and Kelsey got married on Saturday. Mark and I were the only ones in the neighborhood to be invited to the wedding so we felt kind of honored. Kevin and Kelsey are young; just a few years out of college, but we get along great with them. And since they’re so young, they’ve connected well with our kids too; especially Kevin and Brad since they’re so close in age. When our old neighbors moved out of the house a couple years ago, we worried. We were very close with the old neighbors and didn’t think we’d be lucky enough to get more great neighbors, but Kevin and Kelsey proved us wrong.

I hoped the weather wouldn’t ruin their big day. Early in the morning it was partly cloudy and the wind was relentless. Thankfully, the sun eventually prevailed and it turned out to be a beautiful wedding day. The temperatures, however, weren’t quite what I’d normally expect in mid-May. There were a couple of dresses I contemplated wearing to the wedding, but since both dresses have spaghetti straps, I knew I would freeze. I opted for a long sleeve blouse and some favorite Express dress pants instead. And since it’s a rare occasion when we’re both dressed up, pictures had to be taken.

IMG_0057_1 by you.

The wedding was beautiful. And it wasn’t just beautiful in the sense that everyone looked great and the ceremony went off without a hitch. It was beautiful in the sense that the love Kevin and Kelsey feel for each other was tangible. I can honestly say that there have been few times in my life that I have felt that way when attending a wedding.

A couple hours after the ceremony, we headed to the reception, which was held in downtown Stillwater, a beautiful and very historic town. As Mark drove, I provided directions to the banquet hall. As I read the directions, I realized that we would arrive slightly early- the first hour was a social hour. I was slightly apprehensive, knowing we would know no one other than the bride and groom and didn’t want to arrive too early. I’m not great with meeting new people and tend to be rather introverted in unfamiliar surroundings. So we found a place to park in a nearby lot and decided just to hang out in the car and listen to tunes for a while before going in.

We were parked in a lot, facing a cement wall that was alternately patterned with smooth and textured surfaces. I was chewing gum and enjoying the music when I got a sudden urge to do something. I looked over at Mark and said, “I bet I can throw my gum at that wall and make it stick.”

I do things like this on occasion to see if I can get a rise out of Mark, but apparently he is way too used to my antics. Anyone else would shake their head at such a proposal from a forty-something woman, all dressed up, who’s supposed to be acting like a grown up. Not Mark.

“Go for it,” he said.

So I rolled down my window, took my gum from my mouth and launched it with all my might. The gum hit on a textured part of the wall and stopped dead in its tracks. I pulled my arm back in the car, looked at Mark and cheered, “YES!” And then just as I looked back to survey my accomplishment, it dropped off and fell right to the asphalt below. DAMN! Mark egged me on, and talked me into trying it twice more. I failed two more times to make my gum stick before we decided we should head over to happy hour.

The reception hall was packed and I suggested we go to the bar and grab a beer before finding a place to sit. As I suspected, we knew no one, so we found an empty table, enjoyed our beers, talked and did some fine people watching. I noted that young women wearing dresses seem to be unaware of the value of wearing a slip underneath for smoothing and discretionary purposes. I wanted to dispense fashion advice to them, as well as the woman whose muffin top needed some camouflaging, but you’ll be happy to know I refrained.

Soon an older couple looking just as isolated as we felt hesitantly approached our table and asked if the open seats were taken. We assured them they were not and welcomed them to sit down. Steve and Cindy introduced themselves as “fringe” relatives and seemed nice enough. Steve appeared to be in his sixties while Cindy appeared a bit younger; probably in her fifties. They mentioned that they lived in Milwaukee and for a while we talked about “the lake” (Lake Michigan) and they described the extreme snowfall their area has experienced over the past couple winters.

As the evening went on, we ate dinner and Steve explained that he was a step-brother to Kevin’s grandfather. He pointed out various people and tried to explain their relationships to Kevin. But poor Steve would confuse Kevin’s placement in the family with Kevin’s father and would accidentally describe one of Kevin’s cousins as Kevin’s nephew, instead. At times like these, Cindy would scornfully correct Steve and he would quickly correct his mistake. This went on and on throughout dinner and Cindy’s sharp tongue became evident as she admonished him for things like talking about horse racing because, “Just because you’re a sports fanatic doesn’t mean these people are interested in horse racing.” Mark assured Cindy he was interested, though not very familiar, so he welcomed the conversation.

I felt immensely sorry for Steve during the groom’s speech. Kevin’s words were heartfelt and at one point he said, “I want to thank my beautiful bride for saying ‘yes’ to what was probably the worst marriage proposal in the history of the world.” I saw Cindy smack Steve on the leg and say, “I don’t think so. I think your proposal was the worst marriage proposal ever!” Steve merely looked down and tried to pretend that none of us could have possibly heard her. I made a mental note of my occasional habit of sinking to sarcasm in my words and vowed to bite my tongue more often. I don’t want to grow up to be Cindy.

We tried to enjoy the evening as much as possible. The bride and groom made an announcement that every couple in attendance had their names written on a slip of paper and all were placed in a bowl at the head table. Each time a round of clinking glasses was heard, rather than the traditional display of the groom kissing the bride, they would draw a slip from the bowl. The couple whose names were announced would have to stand up and show Kevin and Kelsey how to kiss. This was great fun. Young and old couples alike were put on display and I couldn’t help but smile at them all. Young couples put on shows of dramatic passion but I especially loved the older couples who displayed their affection for one another as if they were young and newly in love. Mark grinned at Steve and said, “I won’t complain if my name is called.”

Cindy interjected, “I will if mine is called.”

Steve looked at her and said, “I can’t have a kiss?”

Cindy seemed to realize her abrasiveness for a moment and conceded, “Yes, you can have a kiss, baby.” Regardless, none of our names were called. That was probably a good thing. I was afraid to see how Cindy would respond to having to kiss Steve in front of everyone.

There was a beautiful, fun slide show set to music of Kevin and Kelsey through the years and I was relieved that Cindy was forced to stop talking. She and Steve announced their departure as soon as it was over. I looked at Mark and breathed a deep sigh of relief. We laughed and finished our beers and decided to call it a night ourselves. When we reached the car, Mark opened his door and looked across the top of the car at me before either of us climbed in. Without a word, he plucked his gum from his mouth and launched it at the wall. In the tradition of its predecessors, Mark’s gum promptly fell to the asphalt. We shrugged and went on our way.

As we made our way out of Stillwater, we were stopped for a traffic light and I noticed these street signs. They made me think of Steve and Cindy.

stitched by you.

I'm not nice

The virus that plagued my daughter last week has found another host body.

My husband.

The women will know what that means…

Someone is whiny!

See, the problem is, hubby has not been sick in a really long time. It’s probably been years. So he’s forgotten what it’s like to be sick. He doesn’t know what to make of all the symptoms. And personally, I don’t understand his behavior because when I am sick (which is rare, because I am Super Woman and I faithfully ingest a multi-vitamin every day,) I just want to curl up in a ball and not talk to anyone and just be left alone.

Not so for the hubby. He gives updates. These began on Sunday when he started feeling less than stellar.

“Are you hot? Is it really hot in here? I’m sweating like crazy,” he announced.

“The temperature hasn’t changed in here. You just have a fever. Chill out.”

(Ok, so maybe “chill out” wasn’t the most compassionate choice of words, but he would wonder what was wrong if I displayed a sudden case of “nice.”)

Not long afterwards, he had a comforter wrapped around his entire body including his head.

“Are you cold? I’m freezing. Is it cold in here,” he asked?

(Notice the pattern? I always know what he’s feeling because he starts by asking me if that’s how I’m feeling.)

“Honey, it’s not cold in here. You have a fever, which means you’re also going to be experiencing the chills.”

In an effort to be nurturing, I tried to assess his symptoms so that I could find him an appropriate medication to alleviate his discomfort.

“Does your head hurt? Have you got a headache?”

“No, but I can feel it getting ready to settle in. I feel it coming,” he whimpered.

“Do you have a sore throat? Is your head congested? Stuffy nose? Is your stomach upset?”

“No, I just feel something coming.”

“Ok, so…. nothing hurts and there’s no mucus filling up your sinus cavities or settling in your chest and you don’t feel the need to hock up your last meal…yet?”

“Yeah. I just feel like sh*t.”

I could understand that feeling and I honestly did sympathize. It’s no fun being sick and he was truly miserable. He had trouble sleeping Sunday night, slept all day Monday and then was in and out of bed Monday night. I was awakened before 4:00 am Monday morning to the sound of the television blaring loudly in the family room while hubby snored in the recliner. By Monday evening when I got home from work he looked much less like death on a cracker and seemed to be returning to the land of the living. A cough had settled in his chest and he sounded a little stuffy. He was supposed to go to work Tuesday night; his first night on the midnight shift this month, but he called in sick. Understandable. He would frequently remind me how awful he was feeling. He talked to his mom and his buddy on the phone and seemed to be having a great time explaining how deathly ill he was. To hear him tell, we could expect to see one of his lungs expelled from his chest and land on the floor in front of him at any time and in addition, no one has ever been as sick as he was.

That’s when I knew he was feeling better. And I knew I could start poking fun at him again. He informed me that he had called in sick again for the Wednesday night shift, in spite of the fact that he was eating quesadillas and Spanish rice; playing on the computer and tormenting the kids. He wouldn’t let his daughter use the computer because he wanted to sit in the desk chair. He didn’t need the computer. He just didn’t want to give up the chair. I informed him that he was being unfair, not allowing Kacey on the computer simply because he wanted that chair. That’s when I was informed that I’m mean, and I should remember that he is sick!

And furthermore, when I’m sick, he offers to make me soup and get me something to drink and asks if I need another blanket. And have I done any of those things for him? No! And also, he has always prepared our tax information for the accountant and I have never had to do that chore. (What this has to do with his illness, I do not know. Guess he was running out of insults.)

I shot him the evil eye and Kacey jumped to my defense, reminding him that in all fairness, I was away at work for the majority of the time he was under the weather. While she was explaining this, I continued to focus the evil eye on him, hoping to inflict pain and scar his forehead with my evil-eye power.

“You just called in sick so you can be off tomorrow when the temperatures climb into the balmy range,” I challenged him.

“I’m nicer to you than you are to me,” he informed me.

“Just for that, you’re getting blogged about,” I replied.

I may be tempting fate and risking illness myself with this stunt, but I got the last word!

I better go take an extra vitamin…