My Calendar is Driving Me Crazy

I live with the constant realization that I have the capability of messing up my calendar – writing in the wrong date or forgetting to write something down. That is why I use both my iPhone and a paper calendar which hangs on my kitchen wall. They back each other up. Or do they?

When I looked at this week and saw that on Friday, I have something on my iPhone calendar that I didn’t enter, it made me wonder – am I keeping my phone too close to my bed at night? Maybe I did enter something and I just totally messed up the entry? Finally, it came down to the big question: Who or what in the world is Holi?

Yep, “Holi” is listed as an all-day event for this Friday. If I’m supposed to participate, I sure don’t want to miss it or her or him. What if he, she, or it is important? What if they are relying on me? What if the fate of the entire free world lies with me participating in this?

What if I take it down a notch and use google? Of course, the answer is always right in the palm of your hand. And this time the answer is: my phone is trying to convert me to Hinduism. Holi is the Hindu holiday known as the Festival of Colors which is observed in India and features colored powder covering everything and everyone in celebration, I believe, of spring, among other things.

I’m not sure why my phone thinks I’m open to converting to other religions. Maybe I haven’t had enough Christian events on my calendar. Maybe it doesn’t recognize the initials that I use, like CG for our church Community Group or Peggy means Bible Study (don’t try to figure that one out). Maybe I confused it by going to see The Book of Mormon last year. I don’t know.

Next in my investigation I picked up my phone, clicked on the event, and discovered that Holi is part of US Holidays. What? Now I’m really confused. When did this become a US holiday? Is this simply some app-maker’s idea or could it be part of a larger iPhone plan to unify the world? I don’t know. Maybe it’s due to the fact that my phone was made in Southeast Asia. What I really want to know is – who included this day as a US holiday? And, more importantly, do they know how that messes with me?

It wreaked havoc with my week. I was afraid to plan anything for Friday in case there was something I had forgotten – had to keep it open for Holi or whatever I really meant to enter on my calendar. So now Friday is just a blank spot – nobody to see and nowhere to go. A veritable waste!

Wait a minute, that’s a win-win for me. Now I have a free day to do whatever I’d like! That’s awesome! I need to celebrate. You know, do something colorful and festive – go all out – pretend it’s a holiday! Want to join me?

This is the color I enjoy!

Amazon is Trying to Ruin My Valentine’s Day

I just returned home from a solo trip to North Carolina where I was visiting my daughter and her family. I wanted to make sure I was home for Valentine’s Day because, well, you know, I had a hair appointment. They are kind of sacred.

Bob and I don’t make a huge, big deal about Valentine’s Day. We blame it on the commercialism and crowds – the 2 Cs. But we do not ignore this holiday. Ignoring it is tantamount to romantic suicide. We feel free to make light of it, but we always recognize it in some way. We’re not stupid! You don’t stay married for over 42 years and not learn a thing or two!

For instance, when I was in North Carolina I ordered something for Bob. Over Amazon. The account which we share. Which means that there are no more real surprises in life!

Of course, I forgot to tell Bob that something was coming. Something that I would like him to set aside without opening, and while he was at it, please keep his eyes off of the Amazon app on his phone – at least the orders section.

My mistake.

So, when I got home last night I noticed the opened gift on his dresser. Of course, he apologized.

It was really no big deal. None at all. But then I got to thinking.

Me: I was wondering why you opened the mysterious package that arrived while I was away.

Bob: It was addressed to me (they all are). I didn’t remember ordering anything so I figured you did.

Me: But why did you open it?

Bob: I wondered what it was.

Me: So, you didn’t think it was for you.

Bob: Right.

Me: Why did you open something that you thought was for me?

Bob: I wanted to find out what it was.

Me: So, it didn’t really matter who it was for, you were opening it.

Bob: Now you understand.

It’s hard to argue with that kind of logic.

So, a big HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY to Bob and to all of you, too. May your day be filled with scintillating conversation.

Flowers from Bob, waiting for me when I got home. He’s so sweet.

A Sign of a Healthy Valentine’s Day

This is a public service announcement. If you’ve been caught up in the post-holiday clean-up or the crazy cold weather that has invaded the country, then allow me to put you on notice that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. To be exact, 22 days as of this posting.

As I ponder the sign at the corner Walgreens, I realize it is more important than ever to plan ahead for this day of unleashed romance. This is a night when restaurants set up extra tables and there are long lines at the grocery store as men pick up handfuls of flowers as they head home from work. The card aisles in the stores get picked over so badly that if you are pale like our family, you may have to show the DNA results from Ancestry.com to explain the Mahogany brand being chosen as the best of the remaining three cards.

Sidebar: Yes, I have received the Mahogany brand before, and while the verse was very nice it was unusual to have white-as-white Bob and I being portrayed by a couple of a different race – not that there’s anything wrong with that. Our kids called their dad out on being a last-minute shopper, while Bob said he didn’t know what they were talking about. For the record, I’m sure both sides were telling the truth.

But I’m not hear to warn you about card choices, though I will say it was long overdue for the card industry to recognize that it’s a colorful world out there. I’m here to join with Walgreens and encourage you to get a flu shot or do something equally special for Valentine’s Day like Lysol down the house. Do you know how many germ-infested people have used their disgustingly dirty hands to look through those cards? Some have probably flipped through them while awaiting their prescription for strep, flu, or bubonic plague, while sneezing. And the close quarters at restaurants are a veritable petri dish of influenza. That’s not the kind of culture you’re looking for on Valentine’s Day, that’s for sure.

Thanks, Walgreens! You truly are a caring organization.

In case you’ve been under a rock somewhere, let me inform you that the flu shot takes two weeks to gain efficacy in your body, so you still have a few days to ensure a very special Valentine’s Day. If you’re not an immunizer, you may want to stay under that rock for a few more weeks until flu season passes. Or you could do what Walgreens is really promoting, plan on getting those shots together for Valentine’s Day. Now that’s love!

CVS, Where You Can Get a Prescription, Pick Up Some Milk, Be Stalked by Zombies (a vintage post)

Enjoy this  post from four years ago. It was included in the Erma Bombeck Humor Blog in 2012.

CVS just might stand for Customers are Very Scary.  I offer you proof with this frightening but true story that happened at my local CVS.  (Note:  I have changed the name of the girl in this story, at least I think I changed it.  This was not to protect her privacy, but because I couldn’t remember her name by the time I got home.)

Once upon a time there was a little girl of seven.  She was a happy, friendly child who roamed the aisles of the store alone without a care.  Or so it seemed.

She approached me and asked me my name.  “Bonnie,” I said.  “What’s your name?”

“Melissa.”

“Hi, Melissa.  How are you?”

“I’m fine except a scary thing is following me around the store,” she replied.

I saw a boy walking towards us.  He resembled her so strongly that he had to be her brother.  “Do you mean him?  He does look a little scary.”

“No, he’s my brother.  He’s eight,” she replied and pointed to a zombie Halloween decoration, which was in fact scarier looking than her brother.  “That.  That’s following me.”

I quickly learned a lot about seven-year-old Melissa.  She loves Halloween and is going to be a fairy when she goes trick or treating. Her brother joined us.  She tried to convince him that a spooky creature was following her, but he was uninterested.  Soon they were totally absorbed in the many choices of candy on display.

I then became a ghost to Melissa, who diverted her attention fully to the candy.  At this point I seized the moment and sneaked one of the zombies from where it was perched on a shelf, placed it behind Melissa and her brother and ran down the aisle to hide.  She turned around and jumped and said to her brother, “See, it’s following me.”

They headed farther down the aisle and I was able to use my powers of stealth and move Mr. Zombie right down to the spot where they were about to round a corner.  She gave a little scream and again insisted to her brother that she was being followed.  At that point I walked up and she recounted the entire story to me.

I got into the story with her and asked lots of questions.  She was obviously having a great time.  I was able to add zombies to her path about four times before I had to make my purchase and return to the land of the living.  At the check-out I came across the kids again, this time with their mother.  Melissa was going on and on to the cashier about how zombies had been following her around the store.  Then she looked at me and said, “You wouldn’t have moved them around, would you?”

“Now why would I do that?” I replied with a wink.

Hands down, this was the best time I ever had in CVS.  The Very Scary part does concern me, though.  I was a harmless stranger who really enjoys playing with kids on their level.  I’m glad I’m the one she befriended as it scares me to death to think about this little girl and her brother unsupervised for so long in the store.  I hope this serves as a gentle reminder to people to keep an eye on their kids and grandkids.

It also reminds me of the story of my daughter trying to impress on her kids not to be taken in by a stranger.  You want your kids to be friendly, but they need to keep their distance.  Every time she asked her three-year old if he would go with a stranger who offered him candy, his answer was the same.  “Yes!  I like candy.”  It’s a hard lesson.  Even at my age if you offer me peanut M&Ms, I still will be tempted to go with you.  I probably won’t, but I’ll be tempted.

Miracle at CVS

While in CVS today I was able to get a rather large knife out of the hands of a man.  And then I thanked him.  The amazing part of this story is not that the man pulled a knife on me – he didn’t.  It was that I asked him if he had a pocket knife I could borrow to pop open the back of a watch; and he, without hesitation, pulled out the biggest pocket knife I have ever seen.  He must have huge pockets.

I smiled about this for a long time because it did my heart good to be able to ask a stranger for help of this type, especially in this crazy world we live in today; and he helped me without hesitation.

Yes, Virginia, there are kind, knife-wielding people out there; and they are ready to lend a hand at the mere request of a stranger.  It’s a Christmas miracle.

Of course, it didn’t take but a moment to relate this to a Seinfeld episode or two.  This isn’t too Christmassy, but today I felt a little bit like Elaine.  Lesson to be learned here:  Never judge a book by its cover.

 

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Where is Jesus?

The last of my father-in-law’s possessions was spread across my dining room table ready to be claimed by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as keepsakes and reminders of him.  This was his collection of animal figurines and carvings which he collected from around the world and which were very dear to him.  Also included was a crèche complete with Mary, Joseph and a manger in which to lay baby Jesus.  Every Christmas he would display the crèche with all of his animals surrounding it.

Somewhere along the way Jesus must have gone missing, not unlike the time when Jesus was twelve and Mary and Joseph had traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover.  On the way home, you may remember, they thought he was in the company they were traveling with and it took three days to find him.

The comparison breaks down quickly, but it does come to mind that sometimes one thinks they have Jesus and they really don’t.

IMG_2652Anyway, one of our sons chose the crèche.  The figures have wonderfully expressive faces and are stamped with Italy as their country of origin.  Jesus looked a little off to me.  He wasn’t made of the same material, but it was something about his eyes that gave him away.  We turned him over and there it was.  Jesus was made in China.  I’m guessing he was purchases in a Dollar Store and added to the scene like an understudy in a play.

This troubled me, but we figured lots of people display manger scenes without Jesus in the manger all through the Christmas season.  Then on Christmas morning He miraculously appears.  This hatched a plan to look on E-Bay to find a baby Jesus that was fitting to sit with his Italian-made parents.

IMG_2654I wasn’t comfortable throwing made-in-China baby Jesus away.  It seemed wrong somehow.  I figured we should put him some place where I could remember where he was; so just in case I didn’t find a suitable replacement, the manger would not sit empty on Christmas.  I put him in the china closet.  You know, China/china – I should remember that.

Then it occurred to me.  Bob and I are going to Italy in the spring to celebrate our fortieth wedding anniversary.  I can look for Jesus there.  That would be awesome.

So, this year if you come to my house on Christmas, please do not look too closely at Jesus in the manger.  We have hope that next year he will look a lot better.

I would encourage you to look for Jesus where he may be found this Christmas.  He is there at the mere mention of his name.  He is no longer a baby in a manger.  He is the Prince of Peace and our Savior.  Merry Christmas!

Luke 2:11-12:  “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign to you:  You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

 

 

Four for Four, Plus One More

Our family has been a buzz of activity over the last few weeks.  It all began earlier this year when our youngest son met the girl of his dreams.  Now, there was a lot of pressure on him because our older three kids have amazing spouses who love them and fit in with our family like they were hand-picked by God, which we believe they were.  So, when Scott met Julie, there was a lot at stake.  It didn’t take long before we realized that she is wonderful.   Over the Thanksgiving holiday he proposed and she said yes!  So it looks like we are going to be four for four in the kid-in-law department.

But that wasn’t the only thing afoot.  Our son, Joe, and his wife were expecting their first child.  He came a week late but arrived on December 6, healthy and beautiful.  They are living with us temporarily, so our lives have taken a bit of a return to earlier times.  We live in the same house we lived in when Joe was born.  So just when my baby who is 27 is getting ready to get married, we are transforming the house for our grandson.

Before Thanksgiving my house was overrun with my father-in-law’s furniture, which we pulled out of storage so Bob could refinish it.  You may remember that he was blind so there were quite a few spills and rings from glasses marring its finish.  So arranged among my regular living and dining room furniture, we had a large credenza with bookshelf, two dressers and two nightstands.  There was also a pile of artwork resting in a corner of the room.  We suddenly had too much stuff!

I was desperate to clear out the excess because not only were we getting ready for our grandbaby, we also were going to need a spot to put our Christmas tree.  I was determined it would not go on top of one of my father-in-law’s dressers, but that was looking like a viable possibility.

A few days before Thanksgiving we were able to consign and/or sell his remaining furniture and transform the living room and dining room back into something we could live with, even if that does include a sofa in the dining room.  Clutter stifles me, distracts me and gives me an excuse to be unproductive.   When the excess was removed, happiness and contentment returned.

Christmas tree and baby paraphernalia are all set up.  Notice no bedroom furniture in the living room.  Victory!

Christmas tree and baby paraphernalia are all set up. Notice no bedroom furniture in the living room. Victory!

Now all I have to do is finish my Christmas shopping, do some baking, clean the house (again), wrap the rest of the presents and finish the book I’m writing.  Last week I decided I would not panic until Tuesday (today).  So far I’m not panicking.  I guess I’m procrastinating doing that, too.

From Two to Ninety-Two

Easter Sunday afternoon has changed a lot for us over the years. Bob and I have always lived close to my parents. For the most part, we were the only of my four siblings that lived near them, and we’ve never lived close to Bob’s family. That made for fairly easy holiday celebrations. Mom and I would take turns having events at our houses. We’d flip Thanksgiving and Christmas each year, but until the kids were teenagers, we usually ended up at their house for Easter afternoon.

They had a beautiful backyard on a small lake.  The beach area was dotted with palm trees and citrus trees lined the edges.  Mom loved hiding Easter eggs and the kids loved the hunt. Those times were uncomplicated. Once in a while relatives or some friends were there, but things still fell on Mom and me; and we liked it fine. My mom and I could throw together a holiday dinner with hardly a thought. We just split things in half. We each had our specialties.

This Easter we met at our house. We equals Bob, me and our four kids, three spouses, six grandkids (plus one in the oven), my mom who is 86, Dad who is 90, and Bob’s dad who says he’s 92 but is really 91.

That means there are five wives to cook. What a spread we could put on! What culinary masterpieces we could display. How our taste buds could be titillated! But I choose Costco, the happiest place on earth. Nothing beats picking up a spiral ham (no slicing), Hawaiian rolls, redskin potato salad and a vegetable tray. Throw in paper plates and you have yourself a perfect day. Okay, we did have homemade deviled eggs and desserts – we’re still human.

It has taken me a while to be able to admit this publicly, but simply put – it’s time for me to simplify where I can. 20140425-141648.jpgI’ll also admit that when I see Facebook posts of lovely tables set up in anticipation of Easter lunch, I feel a little guilty, but the feeling disappears as fast as a bowl full of Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs.

20140425-113424.jpgThose wonderful, simple days of eight of us celebrating together are gone. I love having 18.25 of us together and look forward to the number growing. The challenge for me is remembering it’s about enjoying the people, and I don’t want to be so worn out from prepping and cleaning up that I don’t get to relax and play with them. Also, our people span 90 years. That means keeping the floor clear for a walker and a wheelchair, making sure I have my dad’s favorite root beer on hand, and giving Bob’s dad some time to tell a story to his grandkids and spouses. It also means having a portacrib for the youngest with a sound machine to drown out noise, and taking some time to play a board game with the kids. And, of course, there are always activities beyond the egg hunt in the backyard. Our oldest son is great about getting the kids outside and active. We have the added joy of our neighbors’ grandkids playing with ours – three generations of friends.

The Quest for the Golden Egg

The Quest for the Golden Egg

We are an exhausting group, so Bob’s and my parents don’t stay as long as they used to. My mom brings bags of treats, but now they’re for her great-grandchildren. We still have the egg hunt as the Big Deal of the Day.  My kids and I hide the eggs and Mom watches us.  I think she loves watching the children scour the yard for treasure more than any of us. I like to observe my mom. She stores up treasures in her heart more than the kids store eggs in their baskets. I want to be like her.

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And let’s not forget about Jesus.  I’m not sure how we went from the resurrection of our Savior to dying and hiding eggs, but I don’t want Jesus to get lost in the shuffle.  When my oldest son was little, he and his buddy were into action figures.  They had all the usuals and a few unusual ones.  Among those were Jesus and Moses.

20140425-141704.jpgThis past week I found Jesus in the top of my closet, just in time for Easter.  I handed him to my grandson.  He couldn’t guess who it was and tossed him aside in favor of the Millennium Falcon.  I picked Jesus up and set him on the mantel among the chicks and bunnies.  He looked out-of-place, but I know better.

 

 

Christmas Wrap-Up

I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season. Our Christmas was wonderful. Bob’s dad, my parents and my brother were with us on Christmas Day, as were all our kids and grandkids except for our son and daughter-in-law, who are still in Paris. They did visit us by video chat. We passed them around the room on my iPad for everyone to share a few minutes together.

There were a few unusual or noteworthy things this Christmas Season.

1. We decorated the inside of the house early this year. It was complete before we left for Europe back on November 15. I did not want to return home on December 1, jetlagged and worn out, with that task ahead of me.
2. Our first weekend home, we decorated the outside of the house. We scaled back – no lights on the roof so we (meaning Bob) didn’t have to do any climbing. The mandatory outdoor decoration is my Christmas moose. He is made from grapevines and stands proudly in our front yard with his head swaying back and forth as he greets passersby. This year, however, the lights on his antlers didn’t work. In the dark it looked like a headless moose – not too Christmassy. We never got around to fixing him, but as we walked into the house the evening of Christmas Eve, we noticed he was fully lit from antlers to tail. That’s right – it was a Christ-moose miracle.

Christmas Moose

Christmas Moose

3. I saw Santa Claus shopping at Costco on December 23. Further proof that Costco has the best stuff.
4. On that same Costco trip, I was nearly run over by a man texting while driving a motorized shopping cart. Makes you wonder how he ended up needing that cart to begin with.
5. While waiting in line at the grocery store I heard the elderly woman behind me quietly singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It struck me as funny that out of so many beautiful Christmas carols, this was the one she was singing. She must be a grandmother.
6. I did a photo Christmas card, which I have never done before. One of the photos was us posing with a monkey in Gibraltar. I mainly did this for my relatives who live out-of-state and figured it would be the only card they received with a picture of a live ape surrounded by family. This checks another thing off my bucket list.

Pictured left to right - Aubyron, Joe, Monkey, Me, Bob

Pictured left to right – Aubyron, Joe, Monkey, Me, Bob

7. I successfully made two new recipes for our Christmas meal. This is very unlike me on both counts – trying something new and having everyone like it.
8. There is one day out of the year that I can count on Bob being totally exhausted. That day is Christmas Eve. He hits the wall around 10:00 every Christmas Eve night without fail. I typically have crazy energy on Christmas Eve and am constantly amazed that he doesn’t. I’ll be getting stockings out to stuff and putting gifts under the tree and he will be down for the count. This year, however, Bob stayed up all the way until 10:30. That may have something to do with #9.
9. The stockings were stuffed and 95 percent of the gifts were wrapped by December 23.
10. Dena’s oldest three children painted a statue of whales for Bob’s dad. Dad is almost 91 and legally blind.  He has a collection of carved animals, which he has acquired from all over the world. He was holding his gift and trying to figure out what it was. The kids told him it was two whales. He strained his eyes and asked, “Are they doing something obscene?” Another classic Grandpa quote.

On that note, I wish you a Happy New Year!

Stuck in the Middle

If you are a middle child, please stand up. Be careful when you do, though, because your older sister or younger brother is likely waiting to take your seat.  They will claim you got up and everyone knows there is no seat saving.  Mom will give the seat to the baby of the family to keep peace and the oldest will take the next best one.  You might as well sit on the floor.  Such is life for the middle child.

This should cheer you up, child in the middle.  You have a national holiday, Middle Child Day!  It’s unofficial, but you have to take what you get, like your sister’s jeans with the hole in the pocket and green paint on the leg.  Or your brother’s jacket with his name embroidered on it.  I digress, which is something we middle children tend to do.

The special day was August 12.  Sadly, it came and went without any fanfare, but because I am a middle child (number three of four and the middle of three girls), I cannot ignore this day.  (I can’t ignore it, but I can manage to be late to blog about it.)

My middle-child experiences include my dad referring to me as his Number Two Daughter, which is appropriate because, like Avis, I try harder.  The good thing about being Daughter #2 is I’m better than Daughter #3.  (Yes, I realize that his ranking is by birth order.  At least that’s what I tell myself as I pour him a drink and rub his feet while repeating how much I love him.)

I’m also a mother of four children; therefore, I have two middle children.  My daughter’s status is not as distinctive because she is the only girl.  My son, Joe, is like me – number three in line and the middle son.  I have determined not to call him my #2 Son, but that’s all the headway I’ve made in keeping him from having Middle Child Syndrome (MCS).

I thought I was being creative (that’s the middle child in me) when I wrote MCS.  Wanting to be thorough, I googled it.  It’s real!  Isn’t that something a middle child would do – make up something that she thought was funny only to find out that somebody else already made it up, probably someone’s older sister?

I’ve looked at middle-child life from both sides now (to quote Joni Mitchell).  From being in the middle to observing it.  My conclusion – it’s not bad.  In fact, it’s quite comfortable.

As a kid I admired my older sister.  I wanted to be like her, so getting her hand-me-downs was great.  When I wanted to play with dolls and my peers made me feel like I was too old for that, I could play with my little sister.  As long as she promised not to tell anyone, I could stay in a child’s world longer and also make Mom happy.  I was never lonely.

There are down sides.  Middle children have probably shared a room most of their life.  Then there’s the baby book – mine is practically empty.  But since I’ve been on both sides I declare, “I forgive you, Mom!  To make you feel better I have left large portions of my third and fourth children’s baby books empty, too.”  (See, I’m still trying to please!)