Category Archives: write

A Word on Abercrombie. And Probably Not What You’re Expecting….

The world of social media has been rife this week with criticism of Abercrombie CEO Mark Jeffries and his brash, controversial business plan to market only to the “beautiful people” — those who are thin and “cool” & good-looking.  At first, I thought, “how awful” and I completely agree that he’s a little off his rocker when he has quirks like this and himself could be described as less than attractive.  Might want to sweep off your own front porch there, double-bagger.  But then I got to thinking……..WHY is it socially unacceptable to exclude overweight people and not question how they got that way or why they got that way, yet completely acceptable to consistently demean and make blind assumptions about people, teens included, who are naturally thin?  Overweight people have every excuse in the book: She’s big-boned, her mother was built like that–it’s GENETIC, it’s a thyroid issue, she has a disability & can’t be active, she’s impoverished and uneducated and doesn’t know how to eat healthy, she has a sedentary job, NEED I GO ON?

Yet the underweight set?  They get: Well, she has to have an eating disorder.  She has poor self-image, she starves herself, bless her heart she must not eat, she’s DYING to be thin, I wonder if she’s anorexic or bulimic or BOTH, she’s EMO, do you think her parents are in denial?  Seriously. You have to see the double-standard in this.

I’m going to go out on a limb and tell you that had it not been for Abercrombie in the middle school years of my daughter’s life, she might well have run around naked.  Abercrombie was literally the only place that carried jeans small enough, yet long enough for her tiny frame.  Slim, long, XS, and even God forbid XXS (you’re cringing, admit it)!  There is a tiny part of me that is thankful that this asshole had his obnoxious business philosophy to aid my cool, beautiful daughter.  The loud music and horrid scents, I could have done without.

You might guess that I take this issue rather personally and you’d be right.  I’ve spent a good part of my child’s high school years defending the fact that she is “off-the-charts-skinny”.  I spent many years of my own life doing the same in reference to my own ultra-skinny frame. In fact, right up until I gave birth to the very child I ended up defending.  I remember being at Chuck’s family Christmas dinner three months into my first pregnancy.  I weighed 118 at the start of my pregnancy.  I was 25.  At this point I was probably around 130 lbs & I had eaten a large Christmas dinner at my own family celebration. Not wanting to be rude, I took a few small helpings of what his family had to offer.  His grandmother was the first to speak up and said, “Ain’t you gonna eat?”  I said, with a wan smile, “I am eating – I just had a meal with my own family so I’m not super hungry but this all looks so good.”  Always trying to please, that USED to be me.  She said, hand to God, “You never eat.  You’re gonna kill that baby.”  I was young.  I hadn’t had as many years of being demeaned as I have in me now so I looked to his aunt for support.  She and her husband looked at me and said, “You’re too thin. We never see you eat. It’s not healthy.” (Please keep in mind, they never saw me eat because I lived in Colorado and they lived in Missouri.)  I was crushed.  I felt at that moment like I had never felt before in my life.  I wanted to run, so I did.  Right out the sliding glass doors on the back of the house, into my Ford Explorer and back to my own grandma’s home where there was no judgment.  Just good food and acceptance of who I was and what I looked like.  Another of Chuck’s aunts and my mother-in-law came over to my home apologizing and making excuses for what was just blatant, mean-spirited cruelty and uneducated judgment of someone who, in all honesty, his grandma & aunt barely knew and had NEVER attempted to get to know.  It was, as Dr. Phil calls these little snippets of our life, a defining moment.  I tell this story for a reason………..Can you IMAGINE if I had walked up to his family’s dinner table and said to his grandmother, “You’ve got a lot of food on your plate there, fat ass!  If you keep eating like that you’ll have high blood pressure, heart disease, maybe even keel over from a stroke! Hell, I’m surprised you’re still with us.”  And then she could look to Chuck for support and Chuck could say, “No, really!  I bet you’re about to bust the scales.  Better cut back or you’ll be diabetic!  We see you stuff your face all the time!”  No one would have made excuses for us and they would still be talking about how rude we were today.

There is no difference.  I repeat, there is no difference.

As I said earlier in this post, I have spent 4 years defending my child’s weight. My child that I starved & had a birth weight of almost 7 1/2 pounds!  Never mind the fact that she had a negative weight percentile from about 4 weeks of age.  I joke that she would hold the record for longest-living, healthiest anorexic.  At her school, it’s ok to question the skinny ones, pull them in to social workers’ offices for interviews and accuse the parents of being in denial.  It’s ok to give little condescending looks to parents who have offered medical documentation from experts that their daughter is healthy.  It’s ok to give a pissy, half-hearted, “I’m certainly glad you are staying on top of things” response when you report, with great relief,  that your child doesn’t in fact have a life-threatening genetic disorder that makes her thin and could kill her and the medical experts have declared her “genetically thin”.  I’m so glad you are still able to hold out hope that you might be right & we’re in denial.  EIGHTEEN long years of denial, mind you.

What I want to know is this:  Where is the LONG line of parents whose children attend this school and weigh three times what they should with bellies and breasts pouring out of their tight-knit shirts and pants?  Where do they form a line to be interviewed and grilled and told, “We’re just trying to save your child’s life.”?  I can assure you many of them are closer to heaven’s door than mine is.  WHY is it not socially acceptable to question their parents and conclude that they have poor self-image and stuff their faces with junk food?  WHY is that not politically correct but harassing my child, myself and the Abercrombie CEO is noble?

There is no difference.

I agree that Mr. Jeffries business philosophies are crass, elitist and far from admirable.  He’s more than a little off the beam.  I’ll give you that.  But the fact that you are judging the consumers who frequent his brand & then patting yourselves on the back for being so right-minded is cause for concern in and of itself.  We might better serve ourselves as a nation if we just minded our own business.  Swept off our own doorsteps as I advised Mr. Jeffries to do.  We must realize that judging each other & our children for being thin is as horribly off-base as calling someone fat and lazy. “Beanpole” is as demeaning as “fatso”.  Both imply gross inadequacy.  I know.

If you remember anything after reading this, let it be this:

There is no difference.

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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?


(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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Grandparenting 101 – Observations From The Other Side

DISCLAIMER:  This is not entirely based on my own experience but on many poolside & patio conversations with friends and fellow parents. Some of it is, however, personal.  

I’ll probably pay for this one.  I’ll be written out of wills.  And I hate that because I was so looking forward to being able to slather on the leftover cold cream that is probably bequeathed to me by my in-laws.  But Grandparent’s Day……can we just cut to the heart of what this is all about, o ye school districts, both public and private?  Grandparent’s Day is a day set aside to honor the grandparents of children in said school districts by sucking up to them with such sweetness and adoration that they will feel the urge to get out their checkbooks and donate thousands of dollars or buy a stack of books at the “not-coincidentally-simultaneously-held” book fair that is so heavy they have to make two trips to their Cadillac sedan just to get them home with the child.  This is just a sneaky way of getting grandparents to spend thousands, with the annoying added benefit of cluttering up the kid’s home & pissing off his parents.

My child?  My sweet little boy who DOES love his grandparents very, very much & even enjoys a good stack of books?  BOYCOTTED GRANDPARENT’S DAY. And I let him.  He’s no dummy.  When teachers tell the children, “After your performance & lunch with Granny, your grandparents have the option of taking you home”, my kid hears, “There is absolutely no point in going to school today.”  He’s probably right & so he is home.  My mom took it quite well, I’ll give her that. I’m sure she was disappointed because she loves my kids and loves being there for them.  Lately though, I’ve been wanting to bitch about grandparenting and the image versus the reality, so today Grandparent’s Day is providing me with that jumping off point.

Sometimes I get frustrated with my kids and I complain to Chuck, “This shit would have never happened on the Brady Bunch.  Those Brady kids would never pull a stunt like this.”  Or, “Carol & Mike would sooo know how to handle this situation.  What are we doing wrong???”  Chuck then pulls out the “You do know the Brady Bunch wasn’t realistic, right?”  I come back with “Of course it was realistic.  The Brady grandparents made ONE appearance on the wedding episode & after that did you EVER see them come get those kids so Mike & Carol could have a weekend of hot, uninterrupted sex?  No. Never. They got dressed up, were there for the big event & then they were gone.  THAT shit is real.”  (It’s also quite possible they knew Mike Brady was gay.)

Perhaps I’m jaded, because as a child I lived in the same house with my grandma and great-grandma.  I lived behind my best friend who had older siblings with children and those kids were over at grandma’s constantly.  The grandparents embraced it and wanted it that way.  I see a HUGE difference in what grandparenting used to be and what it is now.  The problem is that many (& I repeat MANY, not all) of the grandparents still want to do what I call “walk the grandparenting runway” —- grandkids in tow, dressed to the nines, waving the wave to their fellow lunch lady grandmas so they can then gloat that  “these are our grandkids…..aren’t they beautiful…….they make such high grades…….they are so good at sports…….”  YET, when it’s time to do the dirty work and take over for a weekend so the parents can escape, they suddenly have work to do, parties to attend, etc.

My dad gets a pass on this one because he is generously keeping the children Labor Day weekend so we can escape for our 20th anniversary.  He didn’t even have to be coaxed!  BUT, herein lies the difference in my dad keeping the kids and many of today’s grandparents:  While we are gone, unless it’s a serious emergency, we will not hear from him.  He will handle what comes his way and should he have a legitimate question like, “Where in the hell do y’all hide the extra toilet paper?”, he will send us a text.  Unless he’s already sitting on the toilet and then we may get a call.  If the kids fight, he doesn’t call us. He handles it.  Every little thing is not an emergency.  Never during the trip or after we return does he feel the need to tell us every little transgression that transpired in our absence.  He doesn’t greet us with 100 concerns over how the kids dress, talk, text, play video games, treat one another, treat him, treat the dog, bathe improperly, eat too little, eat too much, are rude, are lazy, etc.  We get NONE of that, because he understands his role is to be their grandparent and friend, not their parent and prison warden.  And most importantly, he does NOT shower them with gifts to win their love and approval.  He just treats them like kids he could not be prouder of and they can tell he just loves being part of their lives. He will reprimand them if necessary, like a good grandparent should, but he is not constantly preaching to them & criticizing all that they do.  So…….that said, I feel the urge to come to the aid of other grandparents or grandparents-to-be & list some advice for you.  Trust me when I say this will not only help your relationship with the grandkids, but your kids too!  And trust me when I say that I’m glad I won’t need to depend on an inheritance in my elder years, because I’m screwed.  But seriously, some tips:

1) If you have grandkids, I can logically assume you had children.  You got to choose their names.  Your kids get to choose their kid’s names.  Do not offer suggestions or assistance. Do not take it personally if your kid doesn’t name one of his after you.  It doesn’t mean they hate you.  They just hate your name, Gertrude.  And for God’s sake, do not tell your kids how much you dislike their choice of names.  Even if they picked something like Nakkole, Zephyr, or Stump.  As PAINFUL as it will be to watch them write a ridiculous spelling such as Gynniphyr on that birth certificate, it’s really none of your business.  (I fully realize I will have trouble with this one day should it happen to me. Yes,  I realize that. I’m saving these to refer to in my own grandparenting years.)

2) Do not attempt to influence how your children dress their kids.  I was never a frills and bows sort of girl and I didn’t really want my kids to be that way. Yes, even my daughter. As a child, it was, at times, forced upon me and I hated it with a passion.  I also never wanted a bow on my daughter’s head that would be visible on Google Street View.  Easter bonnets were terribly humiliating to me and I did not want one on my own child unless she wanted one.  Do not try to buy your grandkids clothing that reflects YOUR taste and then get mad when the parent doesn’t make the kid wear it.  As a side note, on one side of our family there seems to be a notion that if your children are given something to wear and you don’t put them in it and line them up for a portrait, you are being disrespectful.  This is not true.  Disrespect is doing something you know your child or “child-in-law” doesn’t like and then pouting because you didn’t get your way.

3) Honor the wishes of your children in how they raise your grandkids unless they go totally freaking bonkers with Scientology or become Wiccan.  What I’m referring to here is simple stuff.  If they don’t want their kids to have sugar, respect that.  If they insist in making their kids sit in car seats and wear seat belts, respect that even if your own children “BY GOD,  SURVIVED STANDING IN THE FRONT SEAT & TAKING NAPS IN THE BACK OF THE STATION WAGON!”  Also, I might point out, it’s the law.

4) This may be the most important one yet.  Respect who your grandchildren are.  Do not try to make them what you want them to be.  My daughter is one of the most independent, spirited kids I know.  She was never a girly-girl, never wanted to learn traditional girl things like sewing and cooking, enjoyed being alone & had her own tastes.  Respect and in fact, EMBRACE THAT, even if it’s not what you envisioned your grandchild being.  Can I shout this one from the rooftops?

5) Do not say things about your grandkids based on speculation, not fact.  This has been a huge issue in our marriage/parenting.  I could write a whole book on how the townspeople where I grew up thought I was spoiled.  As a result, we have relatives who immediately thought that my child would be overly indulged and turn out to be a spoiled brat.  It has been assumed that because my daughter gets to go to Italy on a senior trip that she is spoiled.  No one seems to take into account that she works her little butt off babysitting during the school year, works at the pool in the summer and has earned it by being a wonderful kid who made us proud all 18 years of her life.  We have never once told her she has to work; she just chooses to. It bothers me that she doesn’t get respected for that.  Those same relatives assume that my kids are crazy about my dad because he “buys them stuff”.  This has never been further from the truth.  I can’t remember the last thing my dad bought my kids that wasn’t for a birthday or Christmas. He does slip them a $5 or $10 bill now and then because, “A feller oughta have a little money in his pocket.”  So the gist of this one is really, “Mind your own business, don’t make assumptions and keep your mouth shut.”

6)  Realize that times have changed and circumstances are different than when you raised your kids. ( i.e. This ain’t the 70’s!) We get constantly criticized because we do not force all the kids to attend family gatherings.  Hell, we get criticized if WE don’t attend all the family gatherings.  Things have changed, people.  Schools are not as lax about kids being absent. OR, we may choose to put baseball first that weekend because our child made an obligation to his team and coach when he agreed to be part of that team & it’s not fair for him to not be there for them.  Our kids grew up in the city with friends all around and things to do & they may not want to go spend 4 days in a town of 1,800 that, and I quote, “DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A McDONALD’S!”  There is no need to take it personally, but if you constantly criticize a child, chances of them wanting to spend time with you decrease greatly.

7) Understand that once your children are married that they have AT LEAST two families to consider now & sometimes with re-marriage, 3 or 4.  Sometimes you are the one that there isn’t time for on a holiday and PLEASE consider the stress it puts on your kids when you make them feel guilty about choosing.  This one is basically a “Put your big girl – or boy – panties on & realize you don’t always get your way.”

8) If you take your grandkid to the movie, buy him popcorn.  If you take him to the County Fair, let him play games.  If you take him to the town festival, buy him a snowcone.  It’s the little things.  Chances are, if you could afford admission, you can get him a treat.  This is not spoiling your grandchild.  This is avoiding looking like an asshat in his eyes.  Otherwise, just don’t go.  Would you rather them remember that you bought them a grape snowcone or would you rather them remember that you were to cheap to buy one?

9) Don’t go the guilt trip route, ever.  With kids or grandkids.

10)  FINALLY, just enjoy them.  Stop worrying about perfecting them and just enjoy them.

You’re welcome.  Or not.  Your choice 🙂

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Woke Up Sunday Morning……..

My day started perfectly.  Snuggling with the one I love (Chuck, not Tom Brady), with the bathroom window SECURELY locked so that we weren’t invaded by wayward children.  Peace….calm….birds singing….and of course, I had to roll over to check my iPhone. (Don’t effing lie. You do it too.) I scrolled through my newsfeed and saw a post by an artist whose work Chuck and I have admired since we started our married life together in Kansas City in 1993, Mike Savage.  He had a booth at the Plaza Art Fair & I swooned over his work.  He used to display it in Minsky’s Pizza, which we frequented and one of the paintings of a chef at the Minsky’s location in Overland Park, where we lived, looked JUST like Chuck’s uncle, Lowell.  Anyway, we admired his work and I always said one day I would own an original.  (That day is coming, Mike, I promise!)  This morning he posted another of his beautiful works on Facebook and I “liked” it and commented that he was immensely talented.  At some point, I rolled back over to sleep a bit more and when I woke I had a notification that he had posted on my timeline.  I expected a “Thanks for your sweet comment. Does anyone ever tell you that you look like Sofia Vergara?” or something similar.  What I found was this, with the caption, “Morning, mommy!”:

Is this not awesome?

Is this not awesome?

It’s one of the sweetest things that anyone has ever done for me! (And MUCH sweeter than lying and telling me I look like Sofia, though we DO both have dark hair.)  I had posted an Instagram pic of Apollo the night before and with a few strokes of a pen, Mike took that & created a work of art immediately recognizable to me as Apollo, right down to THE LOOK IN HIS EYES.  I’m humbled.

So, after having a delicious breakfast of bacon and eggs and realizing that the temperature was perfect and the sun was out, I deemed my day awesome & did what all asshats do when their life is going nicely.  I posted it on Facebook! “The sun is shining!  Birds are singing! Chuck has his teeth in!  Happy unicorns just flew out of my ass!”  Later today,  I planned to stair climb with my trainer, take Brooks to practice, finish another book, organize my den, go eat fried pickles with my mother…..WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

Well,  THIS IS WHAT.  My dog could go running into the neighbor’s yard and ROLL AROUND IN FECAL MATTER & come inside to present himself to me while I’m chomping on bacon & loading the dishwasher.  My dog that I paid thirty-six freaking dollars, this past Monday, to have bathed by people trained in that skill,  is now covered in the smelly excrement of one of his canine buddies.  He couldn’t be happier:  “Hey mom!  Wanna scratch my ears?  Where’s my treat?  Am I not adorable?  Odor?  What odor?  That’s just those boys you smell!  Really, can I have some bacon?  No, a whole piece, bitch!  Nice try though!”  I had to drop what I was doing and bathe his stinky ass so he didn’t rub shit anywhere in my house.  Read that as ON MY NEW COUCH, if you will.

So…… I now have a beautiful sketched portrait of my dog, who is once again fragrant and beautiful and sporting his new preppy bowtie that his best dog buddy, Senna Bartlett, picked out for him.  AND I have proof that the internet is a powerful thing & that random acts of kindness are awesome.  If someone will just beat Tiger for the Master’s title, I can move past having to deal with a dog flinging shit everywhere.  (Kidding, I’m over it.)  And if you would like to pass on the love of Mike Savage, go perform a random act of kindness.  You will feel SO good.  I promise.

The "dapper" version of Apollo

The “dapper” version of Apollo

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Facebook Break….

photo-4So, I took 4 days off Facebook.  I have to say, I missed the interaction with friends I wouldn’t normally be able to interact with.  BUT, I wasn’t back too long (like 45 seconds) before it was getting on my nerves again.  If I created a “Holy Facebook” would some of you who do nothing but preach the Bible go over there? And perhaps a “Political Facebook” for those of you who like to argue to the point of futility?  I digress.

This is what I did while I was gone.  And these are some things I would have said, had I been on Facebook (in italics):

*I enjoyed some uninterrupted, silent stitching time.  I made progress on my vintage winter crewel kit that reminds me of Keystone, CO, where we spent Christmas this year.

*I got a great new bench for my entryway and assembled what little there was to assemble MYSELF, thank you.

*I had the carpet cleaned.  Guy didn’t do as great of a job as my regular guy so, screw you, Groupon.  Wait, it looks like Groupon IS screwed.

*“Barnes & Noble sales fell this quarter.  No one can blame me for that one.”

*Overheard at our house.  Brooks:  “Moooooom!  Ryder ordered a fake squirrel head on the internet!”

*I ordered a swimsuit but the one I REALLY wanted was out of stock.  Damn you, Garnet Hill shoppers.

*“Know what is more annoying than a reformed smoker?  Someone who doesn’t do Facebook.  That’s right.  Chuck.”

*I watched “The Help” again with Chuck because he had not seen it.  He liked it too.  I love that movie.

*I locked myself out of the house so I went to Chuck’s office to get the key.  By the time I got back, Ryder was home from school and had locked me out again by locking the deadbolt, which I don’t have a key to.  Needless to say, I WOKE her.

*“Let there be peace on Earth.  And let it begin with my kids getting their asses in bed and going to sleep.”

*I had a date night with Chuck at YaYa’s Eurobistro.  I freaking love date nights with my husband.  And he bought me shoes while we waited!

*“Would all the transvaginal mesh victims please come forward so the commercials will freaking end?”

*Commercial: “Do you or a loved one use an IUD for birth control?”  What else would I use it for – a slingshot?

*Overheard at our house:  “Chuck:  You know….the parting of the Red Sea.  Wyatt:  Party at the Red Sea?”    Yes, we go to the Christian school.

*Spent two and a half hours in a dental chair starting the process of getting two veneers replaced with crowns.  Fun.

*“Donning my bullet proof vest to go to the mall and purchase a bra.”

*Cooked two great meals.  Pioneer Woman’s pan-fried pork chops and Rigatoni Bake.  Someday I’ll share the rigatoni recipe.  It’s painfully easy and far from gourmet!  Chuck gave the pork chops very high marks 🙂

*I ordered a new slipcovered loveseat for our tiny den.  It hasn’t shipped but when it arrives I’ll be in heaven because I can watch Investigation Discovery while the rest of my family flips between the Razorbacks and something like Worst Cooks in America or Dual Survival.  And before you start in on it being snow white, TALK TO THE HAND.  My friend highly recommends it because it can be washed and bleached.  So, no, I don’t think white is a bad choice.  Hush.


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I try….oh, God, I try….

Simply because this picture makes me very happy....

Simply because this picture makes me very happy….

It’s a hard, freaking world to stay positive in.  I don’t watch the news, I don’t watch debates, I generally attempt to avoid things in my life that cause undue stress from negativity. (Sarcasm, folks is not negativity.  Or it’s at least a very acceptable, entertaining form of it, so don’t go there.)  Just today, in fact, I walked out of a convenience store when the skinny, white clerk and the obese, white clerk got into a tiff over a drawer being short $41.00, while the nice, African-American manager was trying to diffuse the situation with humor and basically make the point that it’s no big deal.  His attitude was that the problem would be found and we could all go our separate ways and not leave any ripped-out strands of hair, nose rings or torn flesh on the counter for me to accidentally pick up with my 2 giant King Size Kit Kat bars and Evian water. (Maybe I made that last part up, except for the candy bars & Evian, they were real.)  I just don’t want to endure such as that.  You want to know what I want to endure?  THIS:

I want to wake up happy, which I usually do.  Joyous, in fact, if Chuck is willing at 6 a.m.  I want my kids to get up without my hounding and remember their lunches and homework as they exit the building.  I don’t want them to call me from school unless they are sick.  And by sick I mean near death to the point that they cannot pick themselves up off the floor and have gone to the nurse’s office.  WTF with letting kids just call parents to come and get them?  Did not happen in my day.  Have some balls, school administrators.  Unless truly ill, they’re yours from 8-3.  Next, I do not want to have to call the effing attendance office because my daughter “needs” to check out early.  Next year, I’m going to prank call them sometimes just for shits and grins.  Because I’ll miss being talked down to like an I’m an idiot when my eldest goes off to college. Someone will have to fill in for her.  The attendance office is great at that so I figure I’ll just pretend to have a kid there or randomly check out your children when I feel like it. And they will talk down to me and it will make me miss Ryder so much I’ll send her a care package.

I don’t want to wonder if people are mad at me because I send them specific questions and lunch invites via text and they just ignore them.  No one is too busy to answer a text.  Maybe you can’t answer immediately but eventually during the day we all have time to answer texts.  Even if just to say, “Hey thanks, I’d love to, but I’m busy blowing a congressman.”  I mean, if you go to the toilet AT ALL in the course of a day, you have time to answer texts. Not doing so is the height of rudeness.  (Answering texts, that is.  Not going to the toilet is your own business.) If I even take the time to text you, I consider you one of my closest friends, so be nice to me and don’t play games. SIDE NOTES:  I cut people slack on texts that are just informative, funny or a statement of declaration. No need to answer, though it’s sometimes nice.  Question texts are my topic here.  It’s like ignoring someone standing next to you.

I also don’t want to have to spend an inordinate amount of time on homework with the kids.  Actually I don’t want to spend any time on it at all because no one ever helped me with the little homework I ever had.  I want them to come home and play and have fun and be kids and maybe study for their spelling words or a test but constructing some food item to look like alveoli or pancreatic juices is not a project for kids.  It’s a project for kids and parents to do together.  And I guarantee you they will never use anything that they learn in the process of doing that project again unless they leave the oven on and then Chuck will NEVER let them forget that you ALWAYS TURN OFF THE OVEN.  I also don’t want “partner projects” where I have to organize a “study date” that I ordinarily wouldn’t have to organize, with a kid I barely know, who probably picks his nose , has lice, or hates my dog.   What educational scholar started this craze? More on this in a later blog entry.

If I get on Facebook, I just want to make people smile or let them know that my meal is better than theirs 🙂  I don’t care what they think about politics (& no one is changing their mind on the issues near to their heart so why go there?), I don’t care who’s puking and who’s got all A’s.  I just like to be entertained. I like to see vacation pictures and I love to see a goat singing along with Taylor Swift.  But lately I just see bickering so freaking much.  So I’m thinking Facebook might not be the place for me.  At least not as often.  I’m taking a full 5-day fast to see if I survive.  After, I’ll get back on, hopefully not as much, and let you know.  Blog entries are set to automatically link so it’s possible those will come through on FB anyway, even in my absence.  Enjoy.

I want to come home after carpool to a rather peaceful home, where I can prepare dinner for a family who all eats the same thing and sits down with a dad who is home on time.  I don’t want to go to yet another season of baseball practices where I’m faced with a whole new set of people who I have to hope judge me for who I am and not what people have said I am.  I  want to be able to agree on television shows to watch in the evenings, be able to sit and read or stitch quietly while the kids play and then everyone go to bed without having to be cajoled or pulled by a mule or threatened with a potato masher (hey, sometimes it’s all that’s near).  I want my kids to brush their dang teeth, reapply deodorant, not get up 7 times, not decide they need another meal at 9 p.m. (which I will NOT cook), I want them to say a little prayer that their mom acquires patience & prescription refills and not have their friggin’ phone on speaker when they talk to their friends at 11 p.m.

I ask a lot, I know.  I always have.  Chuck says I expect a lot from people, and I do.  Why? Because I give a lot in return, damn it. But when it comes down to it in the end, all I ask is that people be respectful and nice.  And laugh.  I’m a good friend.  I’m just having a rather depressing time dealing with parenting and friendship lately and wanting things to be easier than I’m finding them to be.  I don’t think I have ever been around more adults in my life who let little things come between friendship and love.  I don’t ever mean to anger people on purpose.   Bear with me on this and hopefully  a short break and a vacation will have me in a better frame of mind soon.  Until then,  hug each other,  love each other and remember why you were friends with people in the first place.

And stop friggin’ debating politics on social media.

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44 in my 44th Year…

I have so many things I want to do in life.  So many.  I have a HUGE bucket list.  I may start sharing some of it on my blog but this year I wanted to have a plan for accomplishing some minor goals in my life.  You know….. those little projects you *say* you’re going to do but probably won’t get around to doing unless you write them down and approach the act of accomplishing them with some sense of purpose and sincere intent.  The following list was born from my desire to have a plan & I chose my 44th birthday as my target date to complete it!  photo-1

1. Try 10 new recipes.

2. Complete 6 needlework projects.  (Finished one today!)

3. Be a more engaged parent.  Sometimes I feel like I’m in the room but not tuned in.  I need to improve this.

4. Have a professional massage.  Or 2!

5. Volunteer at least 60 hours.

6. Paint 2 things at the Painted Pig.

7. Buy a pair of cowboy boots.

8. Visit my daughter at college!

9. YOLO board in Watercolor, FL on Hwy. 30-A.

10. Learn to make a great chocolate cake.

11. Successfully make “Cupcake Cafe” buttercream.

12. Design a crewel stocking pattern.

13. Save $1000 using coupons and rebates.

14. Blog photo tips on a regular basis.

15. Paint entire kitchen white and then go from there with kitchen decor….

16. Buy rainchains for the corners of our house.

17. Re-do/paint our front porch.

18. Make peace, or attempt to, with someone I don’t get along with.  (I did this.  It’s overrated.)  – CHECK

19. Learn to use Netflix via the PS3 without the assistance of someone 13 or under.  Or Chuck.

20. Climb Pinnacle Mountain again.  The hard side.

21. Take a vacation with just Chuck.

22. Visit Eric & Stephanie in St. Louis!

23. Weigh 135.

24. Rewatch all Seinfeld episodes.

25. Read 10 books.

26. Paint the living room.

27. Buy a desk for myself. – CHECK

28. Compile dad’s Vietnam pictures into a book for him.  (I guess after posting this it won’t be a surprise.)

29. Open an ETSY shop.

30. Camp with Tcheanina and all our boys.

31. Start my “other” blog.

32. Photograph 10 dogs.

33. Draw & paint for fun.  On a regular basis.

34. Launch a black & white division of Buttry Photography.

35. Organize my home completely.  Room by room. Closet by closet.

36. Keep a “good things” jar. – CHECK, or in progress, anyway!

37. Visit Albert Pike Recreation Area for the first time since the flood.

38. Frame my needlework projects.

39. Walk the dog more.

40. Have another trip with just my mom.

41. See 5 movies at the theater with Chuck.

42. Learn to make really good & pretty sugar cookies.

43. Keep an art journal. – CHECK, in progress

44. Practice random acts of kindness.  26 at least.  For Newtown, CT.

Think I can do it?  To help me stay organized & motivated, I devised a checklist of sorts for this adventure. It’s mainly to help me keep track of the ones that have multiple items, like “10 books”, “5 theater movies”,

I plan to keep myself accountable on my blog too & on or near my 44th birthday (December 14), I’ll let you know how I did!

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What price, beauty?

Disclaimer:  This will be a post without a photo.  Why?  Because I’m not a big self-portrait kinda gal.  I never take those dressing room photos or bathroom mirror photos because I WILL forget and be shirtless or pantless OR Chuck will walk by in his skivvies, completely unnoticed until one of my children brings my blog up at the Christian school to show their teacher what kind of camera I recommend or how to make a Valentine wreath.  So there.

ANYWAY.  Since I tore my MCL (medial collateral ligament) in my left knee while snow skiing over Christmas, my days go much like this:

Get up.

Go out for breakfast.

Run a short errand.

Rest & stitch until carpool time.

Pick the boys up.

Rest & stitch until bedtime where I then continue to rest until it’s time for breakfast.

(Coincidentally, this is very, very close to how my days went PRE-injury but as the Bible says,  “judge ye not others, lest ye be judged or called a judgmental asshole by Noelle” — Book of Matthew, verse 7, slightly paraphrased.)

I digress.  Today, after a lovely breakfast with a girlfriend, I decided my short errand would be to get my eyebrows waxed.  Now, my grandma always drilled into me that you get what you pay for.  I knew better…. I have the absolute, most talented eyebrow waxer named Danielle, who is NOT expensive and who hand to GOD & placed on Barack’s grandma’s Bible, I will NEVER stray from again. But one day, when I got a pedicure, I noticed the lovely Asian people at the nail place also wax body parts as well.  I looked like Tom Selleck at the time so I thought, “Why not?”  A young, Asian man did my eyes and upper lip and I left very happy & slightly smug that the sixty-something man getting a pedicure (yes, you read that right) proclaimed “You didn’t even FLINCH!”  I don’t get many opportunities to feel like a badass, so you know, cherish the moments as they come.

Today, I decided, rather than use my BRAIN and call Danielle, to just run in there and get a “quickie” wax job, so to speak.  At first, I thought things were progressing nicely.  Nice Wax Lady did both eyebrows & started on the lip.  She seemed a little sloppy with the wax but hey, as long as my eyes are shut, no biggie, right?  It did cross my mind that perhaps my upper lip covered more acreage in her opinion than it did in mine but it would be over soon.  At one point a drop landed on my earlobe and another on my neck and she just ripped them off with fabric like it was part of the plan.  Someone was repeatedly sending me texts during all of  this and Nice Wax Lady would say, “You get phone?”  And I would say, “No.” And she would say, “Yes.”  This dialogue was repeated every single time the person who sent me 6 photos in a row, sent a text.  I still have no idea what it meant but finally she just sticks my phone in my face and I say, “No answering phone,” because as we all know, when a foreign person begins talking to you, you have to respond to them as if you too suddenly have no grasp of the English language!  C’mon, just ADMIT that you have answered, “Si, large chis dip!” when ordering at Senor Tequila.  Do not lie to me.  The waiter asks, “Rice & beans with that?” And you say, “Jes.”  ADMIT IT.

After finishing my lip, she bends down & I know the inevitable is coming……….  “Chin too?  Hair on you chin?”  I say, “Yes, I have a couple, you can get them too.”  She says, “LOT of hair on chin!”  I mean, for the love of God, perhaps I should just let them grow & guest star on Duck Dynasty! Damn! But of course I say, “Yes. Hair on chin.”  I swear she took that little wax-covered stick and began slathering on the hot wax like Pollock painting a canvas and every time she would put the fabric on and rip it off she put it right up in my eyes and said, “See?  See all that? LOTS of hair!”  When she finishes the chin, I start to sit up & HOLY HELL, if at that moment she doesn’t stroke both sides of my face and say, “I get all this too or you be all uneven, you know!” She gestured to her own cheeks as though I might have two large tufts of hair protruding that would cause small children to run and hide.  At this point, I honestly thought, “My God, what am I, THUMPER?”  But, of course, I said, “Just take it all. Please. Make even.”  I almost cried because I’m sure that my friend who is completely bald, has more hair on his head than I do at this moment and I’m wondering if Al Gore has to endure this torture when the little Asian people “take care of” him. She starts putting the wax on my face and the best way I can describe what she did next is to liken it to taking a piece of packing tape and jabbing it at a skirt to get the lint off.  Only she’s doing it with wax strips on my face.  OVER & OVER.  You liberals bitched about waterboarding?  Have I got some torture for you?!?!  Once my face is as smooth as a baby’s ass, she reaches for a mirror and I seriously feared I would look into it and know how Quasimodo felt when forced to look at his deformed countenance.  It wasn’t bad.  I am hair-free.  If you see me out, feel free to rub my cheeks.  I think it might bring you some sort of good, Asian luck.   Thank GOD, I crossed my legs, had on jeans and put my purse over my bikini area or I might still be there.

Also, Danielle, have no fear!  Next time, I come see YOU!

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“The End of Normal”

The End of Normal A Wife's Anguish, a Widow's New LifeI don’t normally review books.  I will likely catch some flack for liking this one.  One of my friends likes to jokingly call me “Champion of the Rich” & although I might not go that far, I certainly do not understand the tendency in our society to dislike or even hate someone because they have been successful or born to a life of privilege & have access to more luxuries and resources than we do.  There is no doubt that the infamous Bernie Madoff, former Chairman of NASDAQ, who defrauded many, many people of billions of dollars in his infamous Ponzi scheme, is the epitome of  heartless.  You will likely think that even more after reading this book.  Throughout this book & since I finished it last night in a puddle of tears, I am fascinated by the psychology of such a person.  I cannot reconcile the two personas that the author, Bernie’s former daughter-in-law, Stephanie Madoff Mack reveals:  Bernie, the financier who took people’s money, security, college funds, retirement savings, etc. with seemingly no conscience whatsoever & Bernie, the grandfather who came by in the middle of the workday just so he could feed his newborn granddaughter a bottle.  But this book is not about him.  This book is about his son Mark, who took his own life on the 2nd anniversary of his father’s arrest and the life he shared with his wife, the author, Stephanie Madoff Mack.

I’m not a lover of the media & have long been of the opinion that half of the things that are reported are not only grossly inaccurate but are stories I don’t even need to know.  I will confess that when the Madoff scandal broke in 2008, I made the erroneous assumption that his entire family had to be aware of what was going on.  I had no idea that his sons actually turned him in to the authorities immediately after he confessed to them & that, although it was in the same building where their father’s investment company was based, they worked in another business that they grew to be successful on their own merit, not Bernie Madoff’s.  They were, however, unfortunate enough to have their father’s last name.  And it would haunt Mark for what ended up being his short life.  The relentless pursuit of Madoff’s sons and grandchildren is a disgrace & Stephanie has been brave enough to expose that injustice.  Heartbreaking, really.  The final straw that drove her husband to hang himself from the beam in their NYC loft was that victims, led by a team of lawyers, filed suit against his four year-old daughter.  I cannot begin to imagine the inner emotional turmoil that this man, who immediately severed relations with his father after his father confessed his crime, must have endured every day he lived.

I read some reviews of this book on Goodreads AFTER I had finished  the book & people continue to be impossibly unfeeling and callous — downright cruel.  Stephanie is called whiny, bitchy, “born with a silver spoon”, etc.  The bottom line is, she WAS from a wealthy family and she then married into a wealthier family & the controversial “stolen” wealth of her father-in-law would destroy the marriage and family that she and Mark had worked so hard to build.  Should she be given less sympathy because she has more financial resources at her disposal and multiple residences, purchased with her wealth, not her father-in-law’s?  I think not.  When she wakes up every day, she is still faced with two children whose father took his own life & the loss of the man that she considered her soulmate.  This book was, for me, a fascinating study of relationships and human nature.  It explores the complicated inner workings of families.  It explores the odd reasoning that some victims go through in an effort to seek compensation and damages so that they feel justice has been served.  It disturbs me that in our society, people seem to feel that if they cannot get blood from the turnip that wronged them, they are entitled to the blood of people connected to the turnip, who bear no responsibility for the “wrong” in the first place.  The investors who pursued Mark and Stephanie’s wealth as compensation for what Mark’s dad did are no better than a victim who sues an uninsured, drunk driver to no avail and then decides to go after the family of the drunk.

Several reviewers on Goodreads felt the need to criticize Stephanie’s writing style, her grammar, & her use of the Madoff name.  I don’t think she set out to write a literary classic.  I think it was pretty necessary to include the Madoff name, considering that that is what the book is about.  I read it in less than 2 days and couldn’t put it down.  I think she wrote a beautiful memoir and tribute to her husband.  I think she wanted to vindicate Mark because he had been tried in the court of public opinion and sentenced himself to death.  The book changed my life for the better.  I want to wake up every day and thank God that I have my husband here to father my children.  I want to understand and dear Lord, I want the public to understand that having wealth does not make someone greedy, selfish & unworthy of our love & respect. Are there evil, greedy rich folks?  Yes.  There are evil, greedy middle class folks too.  Is it ok to be privileged & enjoy that blessing?  It certainly is.  Pray for these people if you like but in most cases you have no reason to belittle or persecute them.   I encourage you to read “The End of Normal” without passing judgment on this beautiful, brave woman.  Please read it and take something away from it that makes you a better person.

And if you’d like to follow up on Stephanie Madoff Mack, you can read more here & here.  I think she is a beautiful person, inside & out.  Thank God she is there for her children.HBZ-STEPHANIE-MACK-3-0312-de

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Thank God I Had My Pants On…

photoSo…….I love social media.  And now I’m pretty impressed with Hugh McDonald.  I’ll admit I had read a little about him & he didn’t strike me as a guy who wouldn’t care about his customers.  I had a feeling social media was our only hope, because as I have learned from my dad, there is a wall of sorts in most corporations that is comprised of people who are there to insulate the upper management from crazy people like myself.  So I hatched a plan about 2 a.m. this morning & it worked.  HOWEVER, I expected a phone call from Mr. McDonald or more likely, someone who works for him during the upcoming work week.  I can’t really say I expected a personal visit, on the weekend, during an NFL play-off game.   Wow….I am truly impressed.

We had settled in to watch the Patriots play.  Chuck was waiting on me hand and foot & he had just commented that it was because he really needed to up his game the next few hours since he was competing with Tom Brady. (I mean I’m wearing “I love the Patriots” underwear, not “I love Chuck”.)   Apollo started freaking out & Wyatt said, “There’s a strange guy walking up to our house in leather!”  My first thought was “Holy cow, Ryder has finally fulfilled her dream of snagging a country star!”  But, no.  Chuck went to the door & honestly neither of us can remember exactly what happened except that a really tall guy in jeans and a leather jacket & Ray-Bans was standing there & he wasn’t selling the Democrat-Gazette.  He said something like, “Is this the Buttry’s?  I’m Hugh McDonald.  Did you guys write the letter?”  Chuck, jaw still on floor, said something like, “Uh, letter.  SHE  (pointing, of course) wrote the letter.  I, uh, thought it might find it’s way to you…..but not so soon.”  So he came inside, shook our hands and was very good-natured & grinning at me with a sideways glance.  In that moment, I knew he was just fine with a fart joke or two.  That was a big WHEW.  Everyone was afraid he’d be angry but what man doesn’t enjoy some fart humor, really? I wasn’t too concerned.  I mean I was very understanding in my letter and didn’t go off on him but I knew a normal letter just wouldn’t get the job done.  (Plus, I’ve never written a normal letter.) I also confessed to Mr. McDonald  that Chuck only found out about the letter a few hours prior & approved it, with a grin,  but was going to claim he did not know me.

Back to Hugh, ….er Mr. McDonald.  He had actually taken my advice and printed out all of our outages from the past few years and said, “You are right.  This is unacceptable.”  He was genuinely concerned.  My feeling all along has been that the right people just did not know that the good folks of Waverly were suffering so.  I mean with a different crew dispatched each time, some from other states, I felt like we were just lost in the shuffle.  To get something done, you need to go higher than the bottom.  We talked. He asked about my leg.  He asked where we went skiing & I couldn’t remember.  Seriously drew a blank for a few seconds.  He asked if the Patriots were winning. He said had done a quick survey of the area, saw some issues and I’m convinced he’s going to look into our problems. Some have asked if I grilled him. Uh, NO, I did not.  The man went above and beyond and he deserves a chance to make a change.  Besides, I also learned from my dad that you catch more flies with sugar. And humor. I have his card.  I can follow up.  By the way,  I gave him permission to bulldoze every tree within 50 feet of a power line.  I hope my neighbors are ok with that because Hugh….er Mr. McDonald & I are a team now.  Like Starsky & Hutch, Hart to Hart, Cagney & Lacey – WE GOT THIS 😉  I’ll profess my love for him on here, but I’ll try to keep it off my underwear.

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