Tag Archives: family

Prayers…and Thanksgiving!

When I talk about my life, people often say, “You should write a book!”  My usual response is, “I’m waiting until some people (99% of our relatives) have passed so I don’t make them angry.”  I care less and less about that as I age because life is what it is.  When I have no family left that speak to me, you, my fair readers, can feed me on holidays.  I’ll be right at home in your laundry room, using the washer as a table.  Just save me some rolls & slip me a glass or two of wine. White, please.  A nice Pinot Grigio.  Speaking of holidays, this Thanksgiving provided me with a classic “relative” moment to share & brought similar holiday moments of the past to mind.

Chuck invited me to move in with him after I graduated from college in May of 1992, one semester behind him.  It was TOTALLY his idea, regardless of what you might have heard when his mother stood up in front of her Baptist church congregation and asked that we be prayed for because we were “living in sin.”  I appreciated those prayers, and felt them working deeply as I was swinging naked from our cheap brass light fixture, but NOT as much as I appreciated the calls from friends saying, “Holy SHIT, Chuck’s mom told the entire church congregation you were living together!”  Those, I appreciated.  So……I took him up on his offer & my dad helped me move from Springfield to Kansas City. I had a lot of t-shirts, a cheap O’Sullivan coffee table & an end table that was made to look like a dalmatian.  It was an easy move.

My dad is the sort of man whose train of thought goes something like this:  “She’s moving IN with him?  Before marriage?  Well, at least she’s not pregnant and I didn’t have to pay for a dime of her college expenses and she’s never given me an ounce of trouble and HOT DAMN!  That boy is willing to take this hot mess on? Where do I sign?”  That’s my dad.  He wasn’t overly upset and as my former college roommate likes to point out, my grandma was likely sure I was sleeping on the sofa because I was such a good girl.  God LOVE that woman – I do miss her.

Our apartment was in a really nice, new complex in Overland Park, KS, the most vanilla, suburban city in which one could lay down roots.  I longed to live near downtown Kansas City, which was undergoing extensive urban renewal at the time but Chuck liked to be literally five minutes or less from his office.  The apartment was 762 square feet and had one bedroom, one bath, a living/dining area and a small kitchen.  It sat right next to a major four-lane highway.  I loved the traffic noise & Chuck hated it.  Furnishings were sparse. Our used microwave oven was so old and heavy that when it quit, we had to disassemble it and carry it to the dumpster in pieces. Amana Radarange, baby!  We were living the life!  Remember those old sofas from the 60′s and 70′s that were made of a knotty, plaid fabric woven in a lovely array of fall colors?  Had one!  Chuck’s grandparents had donated it to him for his first apartment.  We were very happy and really proud of our first home, despite it’s shortcomings.

We hadn’t made a lot of friends yet and didn’t entertain much (or at all), but Chuck had relatives who also lived in Overland Park and once when several members of his extended family were in town, he invited everyone over.  If I remember correctly, in that tiny apartment were Chuck, two aunts, two uncles, a cousin or two and his grandparents, who (bonus!) got to reminisce about their old sofa!  Chuck decided it would be nice to give everyone a tour of our place, which, had he thought, could have been accomplished by letting people stand beside the kitchen (card) table and spin in a circle while he yelled out the room names. Now remember, these people are all very, very uncomfortable with the idea of us living together because history will tell you that living with your future mate is bad.  Charles Manson and all of his followers?  Lived with their mates before marriage.  John Wilkes Booth?  Assassin and co-habitator.  Healthcare.gov website developers?  ALL CO-HABITATORS.  So you can see why the worrying was rampant.  Chuck wanted his relatives to really experience our place and file through all four rooms.  He led them just like a realtor needing one more sale to wrap up a good month and when he got to our bedroom, they would not go in.  WOULD.NOT.GO.IN.  A team of sled dogs couldn’t have pulled them across that threshold.  Poor Chuck was all the way in the room pointing out the lovely features (“This is where Noelle was stricken with her first kidney stone!”) and some of them didn’t even go near the open door while others peeked in like one might peek into a room fully expecting to see a dead body but hoping like hell not to.  I hurried to look in there thinking, “Have I left a teddy on the bedpost? Panties on the ceiling fan?  K-Y Jelly on the dresser?  IS THERE A LARGE SPIDER?”  Nope. Nothing.  I  sat back down, as did Chuck, eventually, and the circle of visitors had taken on the look of a gathering of relatives waiting for the doctor to come out and tell them if their loved one survived a harrowing surgical procedure.  Apparently just thinking about the sex that went on in that 9×9 room had them all entirely discombobulated.  After a few attempts at conversation – “How ’bout a game of Monopoly?” “How ’bout those Chiefs?”  “Isn’t that George Brett somethin’?” – the party was clearly over and everyone left.  Chuck walked them out and came back inside.  He looked at me with an odd expression and said, “Did they think a giant condom was going to attack them if they went in our room?”  We still laugh about it today because it was just so…….INANE!

A few weeks later we were (surprisingly) invited over to his aunt and uncle’s house for Sunday dinner and his uncle’s sweet, elderly mother, who is no relation to Chuck, was there for a visit.  We were all sitting at the nicely appointed dining room table eating dinner when the woman blurted out, in the clueless manner of Aunt Clara on Bewitched,  “DO THEY PAY RENT???” You can’t buy these moments, people.   We still laugh about it because our assumption is that she was so absent-minded she thought we lived in the basement or another part of the house & had just come up to dinner.  I wanted to yell back, “NO! We live in sin over on 103rd!”

By now, my hope is that you’re getting an idea of why I cringe when holidays roll-around.  One year, I walked into Chuck’s grandmother’s house and she greeted me with, “Wow, you’ve really been a-putting it on ain’tcha?  You used to not be that big!”  I wanted to say, “Yes, Chuck looked into moving me up the Mississippi on a barge but in the long run it was cheaper to just rub Crisco all over me and shove me in the car.”  Instead, I turned to Chuck and said, “WHAT THE HELL?” At a previous holiday dinner, she had accused me of not eating enough.  I was pregnant and she said, “You’re gonna kill that baby!”  I walked out that time and drove to my own grandma’s house.  THIS IS WHAT I ENDURE.  All out of respect for Chuck.  Well, this grandmother is 89 now and still going strong.

Last week, on the day after Thanksgiving, we had dinner with some extended relatives on Chuck’s mother’s side and you guessed it, she was there (although she’s on his dad’s side).  Being the nice person that I am, I walked into the living room where she was sitting with Chuck and sat down on the couch.  Wyatt was in the recliner across from us, watching TV.  The woman looked at me, flung her hand toward Wyatt and said, and I am not EVEN kidding, “That one there, he goes to a school for special kids, don’t he?”

Who SAYS that??  “Special needs or not!  Who SAYS that?? A special school?  NO. No, he doesn’t.  He’s been in the family for 14 freaking years.  He’s perfectly normal, if not extremely intelligent and how many……I literally have no words, except NO, he does not go to a “special” school! Now before you sensitive readers freak, I have nothing against children with special needs, obviously, but if your child does NOT have special needs, you don’t want people to say that they do and you certainly don’t want a grandparent who has known the child for over a decade to be telling people that your child has special needs when they don’t!  I took a deep breath, counted to 10 and said, “He and his brother go to a private school.  His sister went to a public school.  They’re both great schools.”  How do you even answer that? Thankfully, we don’t think HE heard her asinine question.  We’re trying to laugh about it now but I have to tell you that one has just left me shaking my head.

All I know, is at this point in my life, all bets are off as to how I respond. To any relative.  About anything.  And all of this is happening to me because I CO-HABITATED, right?

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Change is good.

The other night Chuck & I took Brooks to his baseball game.  The boys have to be there early for batting practice/warm-up so we dropped him off and stole a few moments to go grab drinks at the nearby Sonic.  I love my husband dearly but one of my biggest pet peeves is going through a drive-thru with him.  Especially a drive-thru like Sonic that he goes to fifty or more times a year.  A drive-thru whose menu, WITH the exception of adding and dropping jalapeno poppers on a regular basis, has not changed since oh, we were in high school.  (OK, they added breakfast but we never go for that meal, so it doesn’t count.)  A visit to Sonic with Chuck goes much like this:

WORKER:  Welcome to Sonic, may I take your order, please?

CHUCK:  Ummmm……….yes……….I need a……ummmm……..

(Stares longingly at menu AS IF #1 He has never seen it before. #2 It’s filled with all manner of European delicacies to tempt one’s palate.)

WORKER (to herself, I’m sure):  Not that hard Bozo.  You got people behind you……….

CHUCK (after literally 50 FULL seconds):  Uhhhh, yeaaaah, I’ll have a Sonic burger with everything on it…….except cheese.  Well, no.  Make that a Sonic Cheeseburger with everything……

WORKER (undoubtedly rolling her eyes):  Would you like to make that a #1 meal?

CHUCK:  Uhhhh…….yes, with fries and a large sweet tea.  NO!  Make that a cherry limeade!  Yeah, a cherry limeade sounds good!

WORKER (tapping her fingers on cash register while looking away & chewing gum, I’d imagine):  That will be $7.85.  Will that be all?

CHUCK:  Yes.

ME (waving hand):  Me? Over here?

CHUCK:  Oh!  And a grilled cheese sandwich with two sides of pickles and a medium Coke.

WORKER (gritting teeth): Ok, your total is now $10.87.  Please pull forward.

CHUCK:  Oh, can I get tater tots instead of fries on that #1?

WORKER (in her mind):  “OH MY GOD, YOU ASSHOLE, PLEASE PULL FORWARD! AND THANK YOU FOR CHOOSING SONIC!  NEXT TIME GO TO THE ONE ON CHENAL!”

(in reality):  YES.  Thank you for choosing Sonic.  WILL THAT BE ALL???

CHUCK:  Yep, that’s it!  (as if it’s been a damn pleasure to serve him all along)

CHUCK (looks at me in horror):  WHAT TIME IS IT?

ME:  4:58.

CHUCK (losing at least 6 months off his life):  If we had been here at 4:00 the drinks would have been HALF OFF!

This is my life every freaking time we go through a drive-thru.  Every time.  Sonic, McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Bell….and God FORBID, he be presented with the choices at a KFC/TACO BELL combo.  Please, no.  YES, you can order from both menus at no extra charge, honey.

So, back to the incident at hand.  Every game night, the drive-thru at this particular Sonic is quite busy so we have some time to kill between the order and the delivery.  He’s mustering around in his wallet for bills and the console for change.  He gets out a brown, wood-tone card.

CHUCK:  Oh, I can really annoy you now with my super-annoying yuppieness.  Look at my Starbucks card.  Real wood! SUSTAINABLE.  From a rainforest somewhere.  (Touching it to my leg…)  Wanna feel it?

ME:  As much as I’d love to feel your wood in the drive-thru, we need to pull forward.  The game’s going to START.

Pulls forward and hands the girl his bills and change.

AND THIS IS WHERE I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN.  I should have seen it coming.  Probably one of my biggest pet peeves in the giant, VAST, far-reaching land that is known as “Things that irritate the living SHIT out of Noelle,” comes this perennial favorite….

HE HANDS THE GIRL ELEVEN DOLLARS AND TWO CENTS.  Not $10.87, which is the total but $11.02, so that in this world where people are blowing up other people and dropping their kids off at school and disappearing for 11 years & surviving day to day on a handful of rice, my husband can get back a dime and a nickel instead of a dime and three pennies!  No pennies!  My GOD, we cannot have such travesty in our lives as PENNIES!

This bothers me for two reasons: #1  It’s an old man thing and he is all of 44.  (“Soon I’ll be 45!  Won’t be long!”  The man embraces aging in a way Estelle Getty couldn’t in her wildest dreams.)  #2  It’s just inconsiderate.

Inconsiderate??  What kind of an uptight bitch ARE YOU??  (I can hear you.)  YES.  Inconsiderate.  Because in this day and age, Cheerful Sonic Worker has a computer in front of her that’s sole purpose is to help move the drive-thru in an efficient and timely manner.  And my husband just totally fucked with that.  Now granted, the average high school/college student worker should be able to do that in their head.  Please keep in mind, however, this is not the Apple store.  These people get in a rhythm.  You catch them off-guard.  All in the name of NOT HAVING PENNIES IN YOUR PANTS!  Sometimes, you guessed it:  He does it JUST to see me get all worked up.  He’s sadistic like that.  Deriving pleasure from cruelty in the Sonic drive-thru.  Needless to say, now the girl is completely confused & somehow gives him back a dollar more than she should.

Then I say, “You didn’t tip her.”  So he gives her back the dollar and she thinks she’s been tipped, but she hasn’t because she gave us an extra dollar to begin with.  I don’t have the heart to tell her.  I’m horrified!  I still feel guilty about it.  At my funeral, I want people to say, “She was nothing if not a damn good tipper!”  Because I am.

And NONE OF THIS would have happened had I been driving.  None of it. :-)

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Cain & Abel – The Sequel

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Is that not the SWEETEST photo ever?  I thought so at the time.  Protective older brother embracing his little brother.  Perhaps a hint of pride in the eldest’s eye.  Utterly unconditional love emanating from the youngest.

HAHAHAHAHAHA………….I’m glad I have this moment in time captured because it isn’t happening now.

Before I begin this entry, I should probably warn you that I write to get things off my chest.  I write for a release – cheap therapy, or at least cheaper than the therapy I pay for on a regular basis.  I don’t write for solutions and I don’t write to hear wonderful, drippingly sweet stories of how your kids are your best friends & the other day while one of them was kissing you goodbye, a butterfly lit on your shoulder making the moment so perfect you had to go inside and light a woodsy-scented candle to complete the scene.  I don’t want to hear that.  You should also probably know that I carve out and eat the entrails of people who have ONE child & give me unsolicited child-rearing advice.  Take on THREE motherfucker & then go all “Dr. Phil” on me.  That’s why there is one of those tiny, little salt shakers in my handbag.  Entrail seasoning.  Just a fair warning….

My boys now literally FIGHT ALL OF THE TIME.  I fully intended to be one of those nauseating parents who was not going to have kids who played video games.  They were going to build with blocks and Lincoln Logs and swing happily on their tubular, metal swingsets, for Christ’s sake.  Build forts in the woods!  Do puzzles! Draw! READ!  (They do read – I’m not a complete failure.)  However, in this day and age, the problem with that line of thinking is that sadly, those children become the misfits who have no friends.  We eventually joined the masses and let them get a game system.  It hasn’t been too bad.  And we have rules.  One of my biggest is no hand-held games when we’re at dinner.  You must sit & be part of the family.  In all honesty, I struggle with that one myself sometimes.  But a few months ago they found this seemingly innocuous game on the computer called Minecraft.  It seemed cool at first.  It’s almost Lego-like in that you build things – buildings, cities, rooms, etc.  You can talk to other kids who are building stuff too.  And there-in lie the issues…… It fosters meanness.  Knocking down each other’s stuff, destroying each other’s buildings, and the language!  Oh, my, the language!  I’ll be the first to admit that my kids hear bad language from me.  I say shit, damn and hell on a regular basis.  They’ve heard me drop the F-bomb, though I’m really trying on that one, God, really.*  But really children.  Pre-teen unsupervised children.  Cunt???  Pussy???  Whaaaat?  Coming from the mouths of 10 year-olds!?!?  My boys pointed out that THEY weren’t using the language, & that the other kids were just typing it in and it appeared on the screen.  Yeah, also, officer, I wasn’t drinking that liquor, I was just holding it for my friend & it spilled on my shoe.  I’ve watched enough crime tv to know that my boys have big potential as defense attorneys but that crude language was the last straw for me.  Minecraft is gone.  For good.  Not just because of the language but the fact that something about this game got a strong hold on their impressionable little minds and turned them into violent little asshats.  Punching, knocking chairs into tables, name-calling (though not “cunt” or “pussy” that I know of, YET) & wrestling each other over SHIT THAT DOES NOT ACTUALLY EXIST?!?!  I think not.  Things were very improved for a while after we deleted it.  They read soooo much more.  Wyatt watched the History Channel or documentaries for hours on end. They fought much, much less.  I was rather pleased with myself.  But it’s starting again.  And sometimes it is not even provoked by video games.  Just meanness.

Our youngest cannot seem to understand that we do not allow name-calling.  Our oldest two cannot seem to understand that we do not want or need their advice when dealing with them and that we will be happy to sit back and watch them try out their parenting skills in due time.  I intend to have my hand buried in a bowl of buttered popcorn, watching Roseanne re-runs in a muu muu while this is going on, by the way.  Chuck and I may briefly argue some (generally over where we are going to eat or what movie to see or how the dishwasher is supposed to be loaded – nothing serious) but we are not a violent couple.  I yell, oh, yes, I yell.  I’m working on that but damn, it’s HARD.  We will continue to take things away until they get the idea that we mean business.  I have said things to them recently that I am not proud of.  I really would not take them downtown and start the adoption process.  I really would not put them on a plane to Russia to live in an orphanage.  I probably would not send them to Colombia to harvest coffee beans in stifling heat and humidity.  But I will continue to enforce the rules in our house until they decide it will be easier to comply & be fed & live peacefully.  Or until they move out.  Hopefully they will come to their senses sooner rather than later.

* (As for my ‘trying’, please feel free to ask for prayer for me in front of your church congregations. Most parishioners will remember me as the one who lived in sin before marriage. “Oh, HER?  That was ’92 & she’s STILL sinnin’ ?”)

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