Monthly Archives: June 2016

Throwback Thursday….

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Currently I’m not at home so the picture I’d like to accompany this is out of reach. However if I do my job right, that will be unnecessary.

Growing up in a house with nine kids pretty much assured a few things in life:

1. Without debate, you were wearing hand-me-downs.

2.The only quiet place (in the house) was the upstairs bathroom-away from all the commotion (and cleaning) downstairs.

3. You always shared a bedroom with at least one other person.

4. You were blessed with an opportunity to develop a close and personal relationship with the other eight children; regardless the age differences and bedroom placement.

My sister Ann Marie, five years my senior, by virtue of birth placement, had the “pleasure” of sharing the same bed (for a while) and bedroom with her little-or as she prefers; her “baby” sister (me) from the moment I was kicked out of the crib (due to yet another child born) until she turned eighteen, declared her independence and moved out.

Sharing the bedroom with my big sister had it’s ups and downs. Ups, like at night when we would take turns scratching one another’s backs before bedtime, even though she would always want to go first and then pretend to fall asleep while I scratched. Or the time an incense stick smoldering in a can gave off a mosquito attracting smell, thus helping a swarm of mosquitoes find a small hole in our bedroom window screen and declare us dinner for the night. While that may sound like a downer, we became closer, sisters in arms, while swatting those devious insects for both our common good.

The worst thing Ann Marie ever did to me was come home from the bars late one night while I was in high school and yell, “Marsha you’re late for school, you’re going to miss the bus!!” Not looking at the clock, I jumped from bed, ran down two flights of stairs to the shower in our basement and quickly washed my hair–because there was no way I would go to school with dirty hair. When I came back into the room, a towel wrapped around my wet head, there she sat on her bed, laughing. “What’s so funny?” I asked her. “Look at the clock…” She said before climbing into bed and yelling for me to turn off the lights. Looking over at the clock radio, the time read 2:30 am.

I was not a happy camper and probably used profane language to express my extreme displeasure with her. But a million years later, we both laugh at the nature of the beast…growing up with instant best friends and pranksters.

I wish I could say the worst thing I ever did to my sister was something so inane, but over the years I’ve opened my blunt mouth and said some pretty terrible things I wish I could take back. She always finds a way to forgive me, but I’m sure there is some wariness in there too. I wish I could erase those moments when I felt small and lashed out. They were never about her, always about my own insecurities and my inability to face them.

Today is Ann Marie’s birthday. This morning I mentioned to the doll that she should give Aunt Ann a call and she replied, “Mom, I know it’s her birthday…” I smiled, Aunt Ann Marie has become as special to my kids as she is to me. I can’t thank God enough for giving me a best friend right off the bat, who’s taught me the importance of friendship, love and caring for those you do and for her showing my kids that importance too.

Happy Birthday Ann Marie, I love you.

 

a little bit more…

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My blog on Tuesday was supposed to conclude Monday’s blog, A quiet afternoon. However, due to Pat Summitt’s death yesterday,  that blog has since been pushed forward to today. However, I also have an addendum that goes along with yesterday’s blog too…so be prepared, this might take a while…

If you recall, on Sunday, my husband, the doll and I left our house in search of adventure and considering that I left my phone at home, I had unfettered access to whatever form that adventure came. We drove a short distance from our home to the area botanical garden, which was hosting an art fair and began walking around. “Mom, the signs say no taking of photos,” the doll said trying to lessen the pain of my missing iPhone. “Doll, I would be taking pictures of the flowers or you and dad, not the artwork…” I complained. “Regardless, you’re not getting my iPod,” She rudely returned.

As we walked amid the booths and tents of the artisans, some items caught our eyes more than others. At one jewelry booth (which contrary to by gender is boring to me), the doll asked how much an interesting coin necklace cost? The artisan reached into his case and pulled out the necklace, laid it down and said, “$3400.00”. “I looked at the piece a moment longer before saying, “Thank you,” and then walked away. My doll looked at me and said, “I thought maybe $300 but, seriously?” My husband, who was still looking at other pieces in the booth, noticed us walk away and joined us shortly thereafter. “It must be the heat because when he told you the amount, it didn’t bother me…” “Does that mean you’ll purchase that for her?” I asked quickly. “No, I think I’ve recovered from my heat stroke,” He replied.

We came upon an photographic artist who had nice sized prints from the inside of abandoned buildings and churches–one that caught the doll’s eyes in particular. After discussing with the artist the inherent beauty found within abandoned buildings, we continued on. “Have you found anything you like?” I asked the doll once we finished walking the entire artists loop. “There was that one abandoned church picture, but she wanted $50 for it,” She complained. “I’ll tell you what. I’ll pay for the picture today, but you have to pay me back-deal?” “Are you sure?” She asked me. “So long as you promise to pay me back…” We shook hands and then found our way back to the artist. “You’re back…” She said, pleasantly surprised by our return. “Yes, I can’t get this picture out of my head,” the doll blushed and a short time later, we were walking back to the car with her new photo. “So mom, I owe you $50?” She asked. “I’ll tell you what…you pay me back $40 and use that other $10 bucks to help pay for a frame. okay?”

She’s already paid me $12

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Yesterday’s blog I wrote quickly during my lunch break and had very little time to properly edit the piece, before I hit publish and then went back to work. However, I asked the doll to listen to me read the blog aloud-hoping to catch any mistakes and make sure the  flow of the piece sounded okay. Shortly after I finished reading she said, “I don’t remember those cookies…” “That’s because you never got them…” I said and laughed as she yelled, “What?!? You owe me a cookie!!” “Well doll, first of all, they were evidence–proof that I had sat next to Pat Summitt. I couldn’t just let you kids eat my evidence!” “MOM, SHE GAVE YOU THEM TO GIVE TO US!!” She loudly complained while I laughed. “I kept them in the refrigerator for a few years, before I finally threw them away…” I explained and enjoyed the doll’s protestations. “I am not amused by these turn of events. You owe me a professionally made cookie…” She argued to which she received the standard, all knowing, all mean mommy answer, “We’ll see…”

 

 

 

reaching the summitt…

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When the boy was preparing to enter kindergarten, his father and I were told by his preschool teachers that he should be held back a year, due to immaturity. “His socialization skills are not on par with the other children…” His preschool teacher informed. “Is he intelligent enough to go?” I questioned, knowing her answer would be “Yes,” but she added, “However his socialization skills are lacking”. “There’s more important criteria than his socialization with other students we should consider, like his height, early birthday, his intelligence…” We argued and then sought advice from numerous (more qualified in my opinion) people on the subject. One person in particular I will always remember was Pat Summitt, the legendary coach of the Tennessee Volunteers women’s basketball team.

My friends from college and I spent a long weekend in Las Vegas, NV  while my family vacationed in Knoxville, TN, where their grandmother lived. I flew from Knoxville, to Chicago and then caught a flight to Sin City from there. When I flew out of Vegas, my route was the same in reverse and when I boarded my plane from Chicago to Knoxville, lo and behold, Pat Summitt sat in the seat next to mine. I can’t tell you how long it took me to work up the courage say, “May I ask you a question, Are you Pat Summitt?” but somehow I did. “Why yes, and you are?” She returned. “Hi, I’m Marsha8of9…” I said as we shook hands in greeting. Then I fumbled with what came out next. “I’ve been a fan of yours, I mean your program since you beat… I mean won that first championship.” “Why thank you, I’m glad to hear this,” She replied. “What’s bringing you to Knoxville?” She asked and I explained quickly that I was rejoining my family in Knoxville after a memorable trip to Vegas with some friends. Then politely she asked if I would share the USA Today I was reading, with her and I did.

After a spell, when we’d both had read enough of the news of the day, she asked me, “How many children do you have?” “Two, a boy and a doll…” I said. “I have a son Tyler, he’s our pride and joy, just as I’m sure your children are to you,” She replied. “Yes, my son is preparing to enter Kindergarten, but we’re a little worried about our decision,” I said. “Why is that?” She asked. “Well his preschool teachers seem to believe we should hold him back another year for socialization issues. But he’s smarter than I am and he’s going to be very tall. We don’t want to put any additional pressures on him if we hold him back…” I explained. She nodded her head taking in what I said before she answered, “My son Tyler has ADD and we were advised to hold him back a year as well, to help him mature before entering elementary school. We weighed all the pluses and minuses too, but at the end of the day, we just wanted our son to be happy. So we held him back and he’s done very well. But, I won’t tell you there wasn’t a lot of soul searching and praying to come to that decision. You just have to follow what your gut tells you and pray your decision is what’s best for your son”.

I thanked her for the bit of wisdom as our conversation drew to a close. When the plane began to make it’s final approach, she asked me, “Do your children like cookies?” Smiling back at her I replied, “Of course, their children…” and we both chuckled. Reaching into her purse, she pulled out two large sugar cookies, professionally decorated to resemble basketballs and wrapped in cellophane. “I was in Chicago to give a speech this afternoon and they handed me these cookies to take home. Would you be interested in giving them to your children?” “Sure, I’m sure they’ll love them…” I replied taking the cookies from her and feeling like the most blessed person on that plane.

Shortly before we disembarked from the plane, I thanked her again for the nice conversation and cookies, and then wished her well on her upcoming season. In the end, we decided to enroll the boy in half day kindergarten, hoping that would help with his socialization issues. Little did we know at the time, his Asperberger’s was the root of the problem, not maturity.

Today as I read of  Pat Summitt’s passing from Alzheimer’s at the ripe young age of 64, I couldn’t help but recall that plane ride so long ago. She was right, the boy’s father and I needed to find a solution that worked the best for our son and I’ve been grateful all these years for her advice and wisdom. Rest in heaven Pat and thank you from the generations of women you’ve inspired one way or another.

a quiet afternoon…

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Yesterday, as the temperatures in my neck of the woods, rose higher and higher and the humidity did the same, my husband was biting at the chance to do something other than hanging around home and the air conditioning contained therein. “Let’s do something, go somewhere, c’mon let’s go…” He implored. Once we agreed on a destination, we invited the doll to come along (the boy was at his Grandmother’s) and then waited an extra hour for her to get ready.  In the meantime, I took the sports page from the Sunday paper outside, sat down on our stoop and began to read how well my Cleveland Indians have been playing against a local favorite.

After a while, the doll emerged from the house and said, “I’m ready, what’s taking so long?” Dropping the paper to my lap, I looked at her and said, “Yeah, I wonder…” as she smiled in response. Not bothering to go back inside, I opened the door and yelled in, “The doll’s ready, let’s go…” and then proceeded to start the car so the air conditioning would kick in soon. A short time later, we were on our way.

That’s when I noticed…I had forgotten my cellphone. “I’ve got mine…” My husband laughed. “Yes you have a flip phone…” I replied, trying not to ask him to turn around and go back home to retrieve it. “The doll has her iPod if you feel the need to take pictures…” He offered and we were met by, “Uh, no, it’s my iPod camera, not mom’s”. Shaking my head I replied, “I get no respect whatsoever…” as we continued toward our destination. “Are you going to survive an afternoon without your cellphone?” My hubby asked. “What do you think?” I replied annoyed by his question. “You’re braver than me mom, I don’t think I could,” The doll said before adding, “but that doesn’t mean you can borrow mine…”

Oh brother!

 

 

memory lanes…

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Almost every given day, I take my strolls down memory lane, reliving and sharing funny moments in my children’s lives and the happiness derived therein with Mrs. K and Mr. L. The reason is quite simple. My memories are used to act as a kind of trigger to their own memories, often of times when their children were young too. As Mrs. K often reminds me, “Kids are kids,” before laughing along to my storied memory.

Take for instance this morning when I reminded Mrs. K about the time I took the boy to “dreaded” baseball practice and raised the volume on the car stereo when the song “What is this Feeling?” from the Original Broadway Cast of Wicked, began to play.  The boy loathed this soundtrack and repeatedly asked me to stop embarrassing him with this music, as we drove along. “There isn’t anyone in the car with us to embarrass you by,” I replied. “Just being in the same car as this horrible screeching is embarrassment enough!” He explained–which only encouraged me roll the windows down, turn the music up louder and attempt (albeit very badly) to sing along.

“And what was his response?” She asked, her eyes alight with wonder. “Well, when we arrived at the ball park, before I had even come to a complete stop, he jumped from the car and ran away toward the diamonds faster than I’d ever seen him run before which includes up to this day. So you see, the moral of that story is I learned how to motivate my boy to move,” I said as we both dissolved into giggles. “Oh my…” she replied before she began telling me a story about her three sons being members of the high school marching band and how they had to learn to step/march in time.

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My daughter has been behaving in a most peculiar way recently, even going as far as tellin me, “Mom, my “emo” days are almost behind me…” “You were emo?” I asked with a sarcastic tone. Looking at me as if I were daft she said, “Hello, black clothes, heavy metal music…” “So this means you’re going to stop wearing black clothes?” I asked. “What’s wrong with you? If I did that you’d have to buy me a new wardrobe,” she returned. “Well then what makes you believe your “EMO” phase is coming to an end?” I asked. “Well, I’m not happy about this, but, I’m beginning to like mainstream music…” She replied, a little frustrated with herself. “Doll, I feel your pain, but no worries. Soon another trend in music will begin and you’ll find yourself drawn towards it…” I explained. Looking back at me she replied, “I hope so cuz this mainstream music is really lame…” 

Out of the mouths of babes…

 

look at the time…

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I overslept, barely worked out, received a much needed massage, did some quick shopping and then arrived home to tackle the mess that is my kitchen and do laundry. When I finally sat down to eat some lunch, I looked at the time and realized, I forgot to write a blog again.

Damn.

Well the good news is I have one mostly written, but won’t be posted until tomorrow, because some blogs need to a day to sit before I publish them. Therefore, today you’ll be treated to photographs taken with my birthday present–which I’m still learning to use. Good news again, most are in focus…

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the mall…

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Shortly before taking the doll and cousin Mary to the mall Saturday, I handed the doll a gift card to the one store I cannot bring myself to enter. “Is this mine?” She asked. “I don’t know; I think I got it for Christmas. But you know me, I wouldn’t get caught dead in that store,” I said as she put took the card from me. “Mom, it’s really not that bad…” She tried. “Perhaps for you, but not for me. In any case, I think there’s like $25 bucks on it. See if there’s something Mary might like to get too…” I replied.

When we arrived at the mall, I said to the girls, “Okay you have two options, wander around up here while I try on new bras, or go wander around the mall, together.” “Wait, you’re giving us permission to walk around the mall unattended?” Mary asked. “How old are you?” I asked, pointing at Mary. “Thirteen,” She replied quickly. “Doll?” Confused she said, “You know how old I am Mom,” “Say it please…” I said. “Fourteen, duh,” She replied in a “dumb” voice. “Right. Thirteen and fourteen year old girls, seems mature enough  to walk around the mall to me–unless of course, you’d rather hang out with me trying on bras too…”

“So, you’re letting us do what?” Asked Mary, still incredulous I was giving them a green light to wander around the mall without me. “Okay, listen, will you two talk to any strange men?” “No!” they quickly replied. “Will you remain inside the mall at all times?” I asked. “Yes,” they replied. “Will you text me where you are every ten minutes?” “I don’t….wait, yes, yes we will…” They laughed in reply. “Well then, so long as we keep contact, there shouldn’t be a problem…” I said. Looking at each other, then back toward me, they agreed, “Okay…” before walking toward the mall entrance. “I hope I’m not making a big mistake…” I thought to myself as the girls disappeared from view.

A half an hour later I received a text from the girls informing me they were busily using the gift card I gave the doll earlier. “Meet me in the middle of the mall when you’re finished,” I replied and then waited. I didn’t have to wait too long, as I smelled them long before we met up. “Did you have to try on every fragrance inside that store?” I asked, plugging my nose upon their approach. “Not every one,” Mary began before the doll finished, “Just most of them. Mom they have sooo many delicious fragrances to try….””I know…” I said sarcastically; my nose still plugged. “Aunt Marsha why are you plugging your nose?” Mary asked. “Mom has issues with smells; they make her sneeze and can affect her asthma…” the doll informed. “Which has never stopped you from wearing perfume or buying smelly candles…” I added. Looking at her cousin she replied, “Note to moms everywhere, “Teenage girls need something to drive their mother’s insane…” I rolled my eyes and said, “Oh brother!” as we exited the mall together.