Friday, July 30, 2010


I have a confession: sometimes I zone out when people are talking to me. It's not that what they're saying isn't interesting. Well . . . sometimes it is. But MOST of the time it's just that I have a million things going through my head at that moment and I can't keep my attention focused on the person who is talking to me. It's so rude, I know it. And I hate when I do it. But I REALLY hate it when I get busted . . .

One of my favorite "busted" moments happened a few years ago. I was at work at the firm I used to work for (let me give a shout-out to the old Gauntt & Kruppstadt crew!!) and I was talking to a man who leased office space from us. He was talking to me about going to see his son and I zoned out and started making my grocery list in my head. I kept eye contact with him and nodded occasionally but I really was NOT paying attention:

Man: He'll be there from . . .
Me: [I should stop by Kroger's on the way home and get some Macaroni & Cheese for dinner. That would be good. Do I have butter, though? I might need to get some butter. And my milk might have expired . . .]
Man: And so we . . .
Me: [I should have looked at the expiration date on the milk before I left home. Oh well - I'll just get another one. It's probably time for it, anyway. He's looking at you - better nod or something.] [Nodding] Oh really??
Man: So that's when he . . .
Me: [Ooooooh ice cream sounds good, too. Maybe I'll get some Cookies N Cream for dessert. Just a pint though - people are so judgmental when you eat a half-gallon by yourself. Mmmmmm Cookies N Cream . . . Or wait - should I get Banana Pudding ice cream?? That sounds good, too.]
Man: And you should have seen . . .
Me: Mmmm hmmmm . . . [I mean, Cookies N Cream is a classic. You can't go wrong with that. Love the Oreos. But the Banana Pudding is so awesome, too, with the Nilla Wafers in it.]
Man: But the funniest part was . . .
Me: [So it's really just a cookie debate then. Do I go with the Oreo or the Nilla Wafer? Maybe I should make a pro and con list for each?]
Man: And you would NOT believe . . .
Me: [The Oreo has a good texture. But . . . so does the Nilla Wafer. That's two pros for each.]
Man: And the only way to get there is Air France. [pauses and looks at me, as if for a reaction and a response.]
Me: [Oh crap. What was he saying? WHAT WAS HE SAYING??? Crapcrapcrapcrap! Just admit to him that you were zoned out, Catherine. Just admit it.] [Shaking my fist in the air and squinting my eyes in mock anger] CANADIANS!!
Man: [confused look on his face]
Me: [What? WHAT?? Did I just shake my fist and say "Canadians???" That didn't make any sense!! I don't know what just happened! I'm so confused!! Quick, Catherine - think of something. Convince him that you're drunk or something. No that won't work - he'll see right through that. Just explain to him that you were daydreaming. It's okay. People do it all the time - he'll understand . . .] I don't know why but every time I think of Air France I think of [shaking fist again] those Canadians! [Oooooooor you could say THAT . . .]
Man: [smiling and trying to look like he's following my logic] Yeah.
Me: [Don't break eye contact. Sell it, Catherine. Sell it!] Well . . . see ya later!

I was so embarrassed. So I did what I always do when something embarrasses me - I told everyone I knew. Pretty soon, "Canadians!" had taken on a life of its own and become the universal way of saying "Sorry - I just zoned out on you." For example, I would walk into my boss Tom's office and start telling him something and he'd shake his fist and say "Canadians! I wasn't paying attention - start over." Or my boss would come into my office and I'd zone out and say "Wait. Canadians! What did you say?" And then he'd laugh and repeat himself.

So in the end, it turned out to be a pretty awesome expression, if I don't say so myself. And the way I see it, you get two benefits out of using this expression: 1) you don't actually have to say the words "Sorry, I wasn't paying attention." and 2) you get to blame the Canadians for something. So it's really a win-win in my book.

Much like the choice between Cookies N Cream and Banana Pudding ice cream . . .

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Name that Restaurant!

Last night I was at my mom's house and she asked me to help her redeem a gift certificate online so I got on the redemption website and then entered in her certificate number. She had earned $100 through her credit card but, when we got to the site, we realized that it wasn't really a gift certificate. It basically entitled her to $100 in discounts to various restaurants. We talked about what a rip-off the whole thing was and we talked bad about the credit card company's mother . . . well, really - she should have raised them better than that, right?

ANYWAY, the site listed lots of restaurants that were "participating partners" and you just had to find one on there that you liked, then click to get some totally realistic and usable deal like $100 off your next $200 purchase at Joe's BBQ. Like I said - total rip off . . .

ANYWAY, we were trying to find a restaurant that we actually recognized on the list and we weren't having much luck. The site had a search feature so my mom wanted me to look up a couple of restaurants by name to see if they were on the list. As my mom is predictably and hilariously bad at remembering the names of places, this proved to be an entertaining task:

Me: Let's try Cheesecake Factory . . . [searching] . . . Nope.
Mom: What about that one that you always laugh about because I called it "Starburst?"
Me: Only if you can remember the name . . . [smiling with great anticipation].
Mom: [head down, thinking hard] Ummmm . . . don't tell me . . .
Me: Oh, I won't.
Mom: The name "Sawmill" is coming to mind . . .
Me: Close. It's "Saltgrass Steakhouse." [searching] Nope - not on there either.
Mom: What about . . . ummmmm . . . oh, what is it called . . .?
Me: [oh, this is gonna be good . . .]
Mom: I can't think of the name but . . . now don't laugh at me . . .
Me: [Laughing] I already am!
Mom: Well, I can't think it but . . . I WANNA say . . . "Crocodile Dundee" . . .?
Me: Crocodile Dundee???
Mom: Yeah . . . [head down, racking her brain] . . . oh! I got it! Outback Steakhouse!
Me: [belly laughing] CROCODILE DUNDEE??
Mom: Oh, shut up.

She never lets me down, that's for sure!

And, just in case you're wondering - that rip-off website didn't have any deals for Outback Steakhouse.

Or Crocodile Dundee . . .

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pizza and a drunken orgy - Part 2!!

Last year, I blogged about a mural at a local restaurant called the Grotto. I was there eating with my mom and our friend Vicki when Vicki pointed out the paintings on the walls. Once I started looking at them, it quickly became clear to me that, when the artist painted the mural, he was either drunk, high, sexually frustrated, or a combination of all three. So I shared those with you last year.

Well, I was there again recently and saw some pictures that I had somehow missed last time. I thought you might like to see some of the other scenes going on on the walls of the Grotto . . .

Liiiiiiiiike . . . "The World's Weirdest Kiss."
I don't blame her for not closing her eyes - I'd want to know if those things were coming at me, too. I'm not sure what his excuse is for keeping his eyes open, though. Unless that's the way he compensates for his inability to hear, what with his unfortunate lack of ears.

Or . . . "How To Tell If You're Having an Aneurysm."
Seriously. I'm getting a migraine just LOOKING at that him.

Next ,we have what I call "The Harassment of the Grape Stomper."
Okay. First of all, this guy was MADE for grape stomping - those feet are amazing. But he appears to have fallen into a bad situation. Here he is with his dream job, utilizing his giant green feet. But, alas, he has a boss who makes him balance a tray in one hand, hold a glass in the other and balance a cat on his head while she gooses him with her 20 foot arms. It's an all-too-common problem, people. All too common.

Then we have "Are You Compensating for Something?"
I love the love story depicted here. She stands quietly behind him, her tambourine ready. Her focus is so strong, her connection to him so unbreakable, that she does not even acknowledge the miniature chef above her who appears to be waiting for spaghetti to fall from the sky. She's prepared to support him in sickness and in health, through phallic nose phases, and through what appears to be a broken elbow of some sort. Love like that is hard to find anymore, folks.

Then there's the one I like to call "OhmygoshwhatshappeningatTable10??"

I have no words for this one. But I DO have a word for the guy in the top left: PERVERT. Seriously though - this is hardly compliant with Health Code regulations . . .

We also have the one I have named "The Pizza Stretch."
Hmmmm. Interesting . . . this picture may have cured me from every wanting another slice of pizza again.

And last, but not least, my personal favorite: "The Leg Transplant."
I just . . . I don't . . . does she . . . is that . . . WHAT IS THAT?? You know, if you're gonna wear your sassy red heels out on the town, you have to make sure that they aren't upstaged by things like - oh, I don't know - YOUR LEG BEING IN THE WRONG PLACE. I hope she sues the doctor who did that to her. I know a good lawyer . . .

So there you have it - the rest of the characters from the walls of the Grotto. If you want to get to know these guys more, go check them out yourself!

But do NOT look under Table 10 . . .

Monday, July 26, 2010

Yep. That's my luck.

This morning, my alarm went off and I hopped out of bed . . .

Oh boy - that was a good one. I just had to stop typing because I was laughing too hard at that sentence. Let me try it again.

This morning, my alarm went off and, after hitting the snooze button for an hour, I rolled out of bed. I had gone to church last night so my plan for the morning was to finish up a deposition outline that I need for work tomorrow. So I got up, got dressed without paying any attention to what I was putting on, and went downstairs. I made myself comfortable on my couch with my laptop and started working. An hour or so later, my doorbell rang. So I got up and answered the door . . . aaaaaaaaaaaaand found Gustavo standing there.

Gustavo. As in the yard guy I have a crush on . . .

He was stopping by to give me some receipts that I needed to help him with something that he's working on. The only problem was that I didn't know he was going to drop by so I answered the door looking a little rough.

With yesterday's mascara under my eyes.

And dirty hair.

And unbrushed teeth.

And sweat pants.

And a light pink shirt . . .


I greeted him with an exuberant "Hi!", trying hard to not breathe too hard when I spoke, lest he get a whiff of my morning breath. Then, as he walked into my foyer, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and saw the black bra mocking me through my shirt. That's when I fell to my knees, shook my fists at the sky, and yelled "Why, God?? WHY????" Gustavo stood there politely until I had regained my composure and then we chatted for a few minutes while I tried to think of how to put a piece of mint gum in my mouth without being too obvious. I was JUST about to grab my Spanish dictionary so that I could figure out how to say "Sorry I look like such a dirty, greasy tramp" or "My kingdom for a dark shirt and a toothbrush!" but he was leaving so I let it go.

Seriously . . . why do these things happen to me?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Calming sounds

My mom had her Dearsie Day with my 6-year-old nephew, Ben, this week. They had lots of fun hanging out, watching Scooby Doo, and spending lots of time playing dominoes - Chickenfoot, to be specific. My mom thought it would be fun to help him learn the game so that he could play with the adults when we play. The only problem is that, apparently, Ben is one heck of a Chickenfoot player and thoroughly schooled my mom and won game after game after game. We have decided that we should NOT let him play with the adults.

What? We're competitive people . . . don't judge us.

ANYWAY . . . while they were playing, Ben made some sort of noise, the source and cause of which has yet to be identified - my mom was only able to determine that it was some sort of bodily noise. That's when Ben and my mom had this conversation:

Mom: Ben, did you just toot? Or was that your tummy?
Ben: Well . . . [sigh] . . . I don't know.
Mom: You don't know?
Ben: No. [with a very serious air, explaining] It's just . . . it's something that I do when I have to go poo poo but I'm like playing a game or something and don't want to stop playing to go potty.
Mom: Okaaaaaay . . .
Ben: [sighs] It just calms me down.
Mom: Well . . . how 'bout you take a valium instead . . .

Maybe it's time to teach him about deep breathing or meditation . . .

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't give up on me . . .

Hey, guys!! Just wanted to let y'all know that I haven't been writing this week because I'm in trial . . . didn't want y'all to think that I was dead or anything.

Actually, now that I think about it . . . why haven't you all been by my house to make sure I'm not dead?? Whatever, y'all. What. Ever.

ANYWAY . . . I think I'll be writing again tomorrow night so PLEASE DON'T GIVE UP ON ME!!!


Friday, July 16, 2010

Sometimes honesty is NOT the best policy . . .

Kids are brutally honest. And my nieces and nephew are no exception . . . they definitely tell it like it is. I've written before about how they hold nothing back when it comes to me being single and not having kids but I've never written about how they put it all on the table with my mom, too.

For example . . .

My 6 year old nephew, Ben, was sitting on my mom's lap watching TV with her. He picked up her elbow so that her arm was at a 90 degree angle with her upper arm parallel to the ground and her forearm and hand pointing upward. He closely studied the loose skin hanging on my mom's upper arm and then had this conversation with her:

Ben: Dearsie?
Mom: Yes?
Ben: Your arm is like a hammock.
Mom: Oh. Thanks.
Ben: Cuz it hangs down.
Mom: Thank you for clarifying.
Ben: [poking at the skin so that it was swinging] See? It's like a hammock.
Mom: Yeah. I got it.

And my 5 year old niece Avery doesn't hold back, either. She recently had a slumber party with my mom (it was her Dearsie Day). She was very excited about hanging out with my mom all by herself and had planned some activities . . . iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiincluding Tag:

Mom: [with excitement] So what are we gonna do tonight?
Avery: Ummmm . . . we're gonna color and play tag!
Mom: [gulp] Tag?
Avery: Yep!
Mom: [again, with a slight crack in her voice] TAG?
Avery: Yep. Except we're gonna play "Walking Tag" . . . because you're old.
Mom: Oh good . . .

Luckily, they didn't play Tag that night. But they DID color together. And that's when they had this conversation:

Mom: So what do you think you're gonna be when you grow up, Avery?
Avery: A doctor.
Mom: A doctor?
Avery: Yep.
Mom: Well, that's good! Then you can take care of me when I get sick!
Avery: [looking at my mom like she just said something ridiculous] You'll be dead.
Mom: Okaaaaaay. Good to know.

Well, she might want to work on that bedside manner between now and then . . .

Geez . . . someone needs to teach these kids how to lie.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

When we talk like that, we're annoying.

Last Wednesday, my dog, Jacques, started throwing up every few hours. As he hadn't gotten into anything, I became concerned about him and I called the vet to see if I could bring him in and get him some medicine.

Okay - fine. I'll be honest. I just got new carpet and didn't want him to ruin it. Don't judge me.

ANYWAY, I called the vet and they said that they were all booked up. I explained my reason for calling (leaving out the new carpet part) and the receptionist said that she'd check to see if they could squeeze me in and then she'd call me back. A few minutes later, one of the vet techs that I deal with a lot called me to chat with me about my dog. He's a SUPER nice guy but this conversation nearly drove me CRAZY:

Tech: Hi. I hear we're siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiick . . .
Me: Yeah. Jacques has been throwing up today.
Tech: Okay. Well, did we eat something that we shouldn't have eaten?
Me: [Maybe some Swiss Cake Rolls but that hardly seems relev- oh . . . he's talking about Jacques] I don't think so. Just his food.
Tech: Okay. Why don't you drop him off with us and we'll do some blood work and maybe some X-rays, if necessary.
Me: Okay, I can do that.
Tech: The blood work will tell if there's anything wrong with any of our levels.
Me: Okay.
Tech: Or if maybe we have pancreatitis.
Me: [Wait - why does he keep saying "WE?" That's annoying.] Okay.
Tech: The X-ray will tell us if we have anything lodged anywhere it shouldn't be.
Me: [Wow. He's gonna keep saying it, isn't he?] Okay.
Tech: Like maybe we ate a toy and it got lodged in our intestines.
Me: Uh huh.
Tech: Or maybe we ate something when we were playing in the backyard.
Me: [stopitstopitstopit!!!] Okay.
Tech: Because sometimes we can do that. We can see something laying around in our backyard and we can eat it and before we know it, we have a sick tummy and we're throwing up.
Me: [I can't take it anymore.] Okay.
Tech: When was the last time we threw up?
Me: [Me? Three years ago] Ummmm . . . he threw up about an hour ago.
Tech: Okay. Why don't you get him up here and we'll see if we can figure it out.
Me: [Oh good - he's talking normally again . . .]
Tech: Because it's no fun when we're sick to our tummies.
Me: [Crap.]

It was the strangest conversation I've had in a long time. But I really appreciated him taking the time to talk to me and to help me figure out was wrong with my dog. So I took Jacques up to the vet and dropped him off so that they could run their tests on him. About an hour later, the vet called me to tell me what they'd found out:

Vet: Well, we ran the blood test on Jacques and everything looked normal.
Me: [Oh good - he 's not gonna do the whole "WE" thing . . .] Okay - that's good.
Vet: Yep. But the pancreas levels did come back abnormal.
Me: Oh - okay.
Vet: Soooooooooo . . . it looks like we have pancreatitis.
Me: [Son of a - here we go again . . .]. Okay. What does that mean?
Vet: Well, it typically means that we have a little too much fat in our diet. Have we had anything fatty recently?
Me: [And by "we" you mean . . .?] No, not at all.
Vet: Have we had any cheese?
Me: [Shoot me.] Nope.
Vet: Have we had any treats?
Me: [SHOOT ME.] Nope.
Vet: Have we eaten something in the backyard?
Me: [SHOOOOOOOOOT MEEEEEEEEE!!!] Not that I know of. The only thing that he's eaten lately, aside from his food, is his rawhide bone.
Vet: Okay. And do we have a basted rawhide bone?
Me: Yes.
Vet: And when we eat it, do we gnaw on it or do we swallow it?
Me: We swa- HE swallows it.
Vet: Okay, because sometimes we can eat it and it can get lodged in our intestines. And that will make us throw up . . .

And it went on and on like that. For several minutes. Question after question phrased that way. I don't get it. Is it just a bad habit that has caught on at my vet's office or is some sort of new communication style that they're going to be using from now on. I need to know because I really don't think I can take it on a regular basis.

It will drive us crazy . . .

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Talking with my hands

Have you ever been in a situation where you find yourself saying something or doing something completely inappropriate without realizing it? And then when you DO realize it, you're completely beside yourself with embarrassment, hoping that no one else noticed? Well, I found myself in that situation on Saturday.

With Gustavo.

You remember Gustavo, right? He's my yard guy I have an inappropriate crush on him. And you would, too, if he were your yard guy. So I will NOT be giving you his number, thankyouverymuch.

ANYWAY, I completely embarrassed myself with him this weekend and I'd give anything to forget about it. So, naturally, I thought I should write about it here for all of you to enjoy. Here's the story, complete with background:

When I bought my house, there was a gas grill outside that was connected to my gas line. The grill was on a post in the ground right next to my deck. It was very convenient but eventually it died out and it was time for me to get a new one. So I did. My new gas grill is also connected to my gas line but it is NOT on a post in the ground - it's on wheels on my deck. The problem is that, apparently the old grill post concealed the gas connection that comes out of the ground. But now that post is gone so the result is that there is now a white cylindrical gas connection thingy (it's a technical term - stay with me) sticking up out of the ground, unconcealed. And I don't like it.

Gustavo recently landscaped my yard and I told him that I was going to try to get an extension built onto my deck so that I could cover up the white connection thingy and be able to wheel my grill off of my deck and over the connection thingy. He told me that he could actually accomplish the same thing using bricks and crushed granite if I wanted him to. As that was more time that he'd have to spend in my backyard, I said that was great. So that's what he did - he built up a little area next to my deck with crushed granite and bricks and now I can roll my grill from my deck onto the extension that he made. And it covers up the white thing. So it's perfect.

BUT then I realized that I need to be able to access the gas thingy in case of any problems with the connection so I was planning to talk to him about how much he'd charge me to re-do it so that it would be accessible. So when I heard him mowing the yard on Saturday morning, I hopped out of bed (but not like in a desperate way or anything so quit judging me) so that I could ask him about that. I went into my bathroom, brushed my teeth, and changed from pajamas to actual clothes. I checked to make sure that my bed head wasn't too bad, grabbed a 20 to pay him for mowing the yard, and went downstairs. But by the time I got down there, he was already gone. So I went to the front yard to try to catch him as he loaded up his equipment.

I caught him just in time and yelled "Gustavo" as sweetly and non-desperately as I could. He had already closed his door but when he heard me, he got out and he ran over to me. (Yes, I said "ran" - don't interrupt my fantasy, people.) As he ran toward me, I walked calmly to the end of my driveway, resisting the temptation to run toward him, yelling "Mi amor! Mi amor!" When he got to my driveway, I smiled too big and handed him his money for mowing the yard. Then we had this conversation:

Me: Sorry! I was actually asleep. [But then your big, manly lawnmower woke me up.]
Gustavo: [smiling] Oh, that's okay.
Me: [Oh, he has the cutest smile . . . focus, Catherine. Focus.] I wanted to ask you something real quick. You know how you built up that thing for my grill?
Gustavo: Mmmm hmmmm . . .
Me: [Mmmmmmmm hmmmmmmm - focus, Catherine. Focus.] Well, it's hard to describe, but there's a white thing under there -

This is when things got off track. In my effort to describe/break the language barrier, I tried to also charade what I was talking about. So I formed a "C" with my right hand and then put my left hand around that C so that I had made a hole with my two hands - like as if I were forming the letter "O". But since the gas connection is a cylinder and not an "O", I needed to charade it's shape by doing something that would demonstrate it's 3-dimensional nature. So I took the "O" shape that I was forming aaaaaaaaaaaaaand then I started moving my hands up and down.

This is NOT the universal sign for "cylinder" . . .

When I realized what I was doing, a voice inside my head started screaming "whatareyoudoingwhatareyoudoingWHATAREYOUDOOOOOOOOOIIIIIIIIIIIIIINGGGGG???" My eyes bulged out and I quickly stopped. I tried to put my hands down calmly, hoping to play it off as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. But, in reality, I yanked my hands down and slapped them against my thighs. I paused for a second, let my thighs stop stinging, stuttered through the rest of my sentence, and blushed violently. I silently vowed right then and there to never talk with my hands again. And to learn how to say "white gas connection thingy" in Spanish . . .

Gustavo was quite the gentleman and never reacted to my inadvertent obscene gesture. And he never once asked me why I kept looking at my hands, yelling "Traitors!" He simply told me that he had actually anticipated that need and that he had left the gas connection accessible by building around it with bricks and covering it with a flagstone. So it turns out that all I had to do was lift the flagstone up and I would have seen that he had already taken care of it. And I could have avoided the whole obscenity thing.


After I said goodbye to Gustavo, I walked back into my house with my hands still placed firmly on my thighs. I was so embarrassed. And then, to my horror, I thought about the rest of his crew in his truck. They wouldn't have heard anything - they would have only seen me giving Gustavo 20 dollars and then making an obscene gesture.

I'll never be able to look any of them in the eye again.

But maybe I'll get a discount out of it . . .

Monday, July 12, 2010

When Chicago came to Texas.

Last month, my mom's brother Bernie and his wife, Mary, and their 5 kiddos came all the way from Chicago to visit us. While they were here, my mom's other brother Terry surprised us all by showing up in our backyard - also all the way from Chicago. It was SUCH a fun visit with lots of swimming, lots of laughing, and LOTS of great memories. Like . . .

Discussing Texas history with my Uncle.
My uncle Bernie is a history buff. So while he was here, he wanted to show his kids the Alamo. Luckily, he has three nieces who are proud Texans and are well-versed in Texas history so we were definitely on board with that plan. During the days before our trip to San Antonio, we had lots of little discussions here and there about little factoids from Texas's glorious history. But what we found out was that our Uncle Bernie actually knows a LOT about Texas history. In fact, he crossed the line - yes, Uncle Bernie, you crossed the line - by knowing WAY more about Texas history than his three native-Texan/raised-by-Charlie-Palmore-who-knew-everything-about-Texas nieces. It didn't matter what it was, he had the right information and we were woefully incorrect:

Me: We should go see Goliad, too. That's a really cool place to visit, too. You know about Goliad, right? How Santa Anna executed all the people there just before the Alamo?
Bernie: Was it before the Alamo? I think it was after the Alamo . . .
Me: No, I think it was before.
Tammy: [pulling the laptop out to Google it to prove that I was right because that's what we Palmores do . . .]
Bernie: Because I thought they were sending troops to help out at the Alamo.
Me: Well, maybe that's what they taught you in CHICAGO. But in my TEXAS HISTORY classes, taught here in TEXAS, I learned that it happened -
Tammy: It was after the Alamo.
Me: Crap.

Or . . .

Me: [talking about the Alamo] And then Fannin wrote a letter -
Bernie: Wasn't Fannin at Goliad?
Me: Ummmmm . . . [confidence waivering] . . . I think . . .
Tammy: [Googling]
Bernie: I think he was the commanding officer at Goliad.
Me: Are you sure? Because I thought he was -
Tammy: He was at Goliad.
Me: Crap.

Even walking up to the Alamo, I was getting it wrong:
Me: I took this Texas history class in college and the professor was saying that, you know how Travis was in bed sick when the Mexican soldiers finally got in and he killed a bunch with his knife while still lying in bed?
Bernie: Wasn't that Bowie who did that?
Me: Crap.

It was embarrassing. And I finally stopped arguing with him.

And, believe me, that's no easy feat.

Stopping at Buccee's with my mom.
On our way home from San Antonio, we stopped at Buccee's for gas. And Beaver Nuggets, of course. My mom was standing at the cash register, paying for a Diet Coke and some chips. My 12 year old cousin Declan was standing with me, waiting for my mom to finish paying so that we could walk out to the car. That's when my mom walked away from the register with her bag of purchases and a confused look on her face. She held up a cigarette lighter and we had this conversation:

Mom: [with a tone of bewilderment] I just accidentally bought this.
Me: What?
Mom: [still confused] I just accidentally bought this.
Me: [looking at Declan for help] How does one accidentally buy a cigarette lighter?
Mom: I have no idea. I was just looking at it, trying to figure out what it's shaped like and the guy charged me for it.
Me: Well, you should take it back to him and tell him you were just looking at it.
Mom: [studying her new purchase] What IS it shaped like?
Me: [studying it, too] I have no idea. I guess it's just a . . . maybe it's a . . . I have no idea.
Mom: Well, what on EARTH am I going to do with this??
Declan: You could go buy some cigarettes . . . accidentally.

I wanted to give him a high five right then and there for being the funniest 12 year old EVER. But I don't think that 12 year olds think that high fives are "cool" because . . . well . . . they're not. So I just laughed and acted like the super cool cousin that I am.

The next day, my mom told my brother-in-law Matt all about the lighter and how she had accidentally bought it. Since he smokes occasionally, she asked him if he wanted it and he said sure. As she handed it to him, she asked if he knew what it was shaped like. He looked at it and said "Yeah - it's shaped like a crack pipe lighter."

I think my mom lost consciousness for a few minutes at that point.

Seeing Toy Story 3 with my cousins:
While they were all here, Toy Story 3 came out and the kids were VERY excited about it. Oh, who am I kidding? I was very excited about it, too - I LOVE those movies! So we rounded up all the kids and headed to the theater for a date with Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

Aaaaaaaaaaand then we got a little sucker-punched. I mean, it was a GREAT movie, as usual. But it was SAD, too, because it's about Andy going off to college and moving on without his toys. I was THIS close to letting loose with an all out wail at the end. My niece Avery was absolutely inconsolable when it was over, no doubt making a silent vow to play with every toy in her room when she got home. When we were standing outside and she saw a paper cut out of the one of the toys from the movie. She picked up and said "Catchy, I'm gonna keep this forEVER. [looking at it meaningfully] I'll NEVER get rid of it."

Yep, I'm pretty sure that movie scarred her.

And do you know how many times they say "Buzz" or "Buzz Lightyear" in a typical Toy Story movie? It's a lot. You hear it in almost every scene: "Buzz! Over here!" or "Where's Buzz?" or "Noooooooo Buuuuuuuuzzzzzzz!" - lots of references to him throughout the movie. But somehow, someway, my mom walks out of the theater saying: "I thought it was funny when Bud Lightyear . . ."

I honestly don't know how she does it.

Listening to concerts in the living room.
My nieces and nephew and my cousins enjoyed giving concerts in the living room. And they were very entertaining. We heard lots of great songs and saw lots of great acting in those little concerts. Avery gave us LOTS of introductions for herself that went a little something like: "Ladies and Gentlemen. You are about to hear Avery. You're gonna love her because she is so amazing." And then my 10 year old cousin Patrick got up and started all his songs off by turning his back to us and pretending to spray breath spray into his mouth. It was so hilarious. But one of my favorite parts of those concerts was listening to my 7 year old cousin, Nora, sing some of her original songs. My favorite one went like this:

"I am so coooooooooooooooool. Cuz my name is Noraaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Everybody likes meeeeeeeeee. And when you see me, you'll want to hang out with meeeeeeeeeeeee. Cuz I'll be like "Hey, do you want to hang out with meeeeeeee?"

She'll be famous one of these days, mark my words . . .

Aaaaaaaand swimming with my mom.
I've told you before about how my mom thinks that she will drown in pool if she ever falls in because she'll get disoriented. Well, she decided to try to work through that while my uncle Bernie was here because he's a firefighter and a trained paramedic and could, therefore, oversee any necessary rescue efforts. So we watched her slide down the slide and flail around in the water a few times before she finally started to get the hang of it. And my uncle only sent me in once to rescue/re-orient her, so that was good.

We just still can't seem to help her understand that all she has to do is stand up because her pool is not that deep. That's all you have to do. But she just doesn't get that AT ALL. In fact, while she was in the 3-foot-deep shallow end of the pool playing volleyball with us, she was holding onto the beach ball that we were playing with and she had picked her legs up so that she was floating - like sort of using the ball as a flotation device. We were waiting for her to serve while she was floating there, slowly spinning around several times. Then she said "I can't figure out how to stop spinning."

This whole standing up thing is really a challenge for her . . .

Anyway, it was such a fun trip and I'm so glad that they made it down here to see us. We had a great time with them and were very sad to see them go. I know it was quite the sacrifice for them to leave that Chicago weather to come spend a hot week in Houston in JUNE, but I'm so thankful that they did.

Because, frankly, I know a LOT more about Texas history now.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Greatest Show on Earth!!

My sister Erin called me a couple of months ago and had this conversation with me:

Me: Hey! What's up?
Erin: Hey! So, listen - I have an idea.
Me: Okaaaaaaay . . .
Erin: I think that you should start a book club.
Me: Okay!
Erin: And we can meet once a month to discuss the book at your house and you could make dinner for all of us. [pause] And dessert.

As I am one more club away from having to attend Club Starters Anonymous classes, I agreed to organize the group. So my mom and sisters and a couple of our friends are now in a little book club that meets once a month to discuss books that are picked on a month-to-month basis by a member of the club. Since the whole club was Erin's idea, I decided that she should pick the first book for us to read and she picked "Water for Elephants." So that was our book for June.

Have you read this book? It's about this guy who ends up joining the circus as a vet in the 1930s after his parents are killed in a car accident. It was really a good book and had lots of interesting information about the life of circus folk back in the day. Aaaaaaaaaaaaand it had lots of scenes depicting the . . . ummmmmm . . . "seedier" side of circus life. Scenes that I really don't want to have to discuss with a group of people.

And, ESPECIALLY, not with a group that includes my mom . . .

We scheduled our "Water for Elephants" meeting/avoid-eye-contact-with-mom meeting for July 6 so I started brainstorming about what I could serve for dinner. I'm a sucker for a good theme so I had a circus-themed menu in the works, complete with elephant ears for dessert.

I know - I'm precious and you wish I was in your book club, too, right? I know. I know. But I'm taken.

As the meeting date approached, I was driving to work, and you'll never believe what I heard on the radio. No, seriously - you'll never guess. As if by divine intervention, the week of our book club meeting was also the first week that the FREAKIN' CIRCUS WAS IN TOWN. How were we supposed to pass that up?? How could we be meeting at my house eating elephant ears when we could be at the dang circus, watching it all played out before our very eyes??

So last night, we piled into the car, braved the weather, and headed downtown to Reliant Stadium to the Ringling Brothers' Zing Zang Zoom show. We had really good tickets and sat in our seats wide-eyed like little kids watching all the animals perform, the aerialists scare the bejeezus out of us, and the clowns make the kids laugh. It really was so much fun. It brought the book to life, for sure.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand made me look a little more closely at some of the performers now that I know about the behind-the scenes stuff from that book . . .

ANYWAY, here are some of my favorite moments from the night:

The "Do Not Try This At Home" song:
Okay, so it appears that someone let the lawyer sit in on the Creative Team meeting. Every time - and I do mean EVERY time - there was something cool like the aerialists, the tigers, the elephants, or the high wire, an entire group would come out and sing this song in Christina Aguilera fashion: "Do. Not. Tryyyyyyyyyyyy. This. At. Hoooooooooooooooome." They even had it choreographed. Like so . . .

And each time they'd come out to sing it, they'd sing the whole stinkin' song. It got so annoying that I found myself actively planning to rebel against them by leaving the circus, buying an elephant, and riding around on its head.

Stop laughing - it could happen.

"Oooooooooooooh!! Cotton Candy!!"
Jill was sitting by me at the circus and saw the cotton candy guy walking around. Suddenly, she was like a 4 year old, saying "Ooooooooooooh! Cotton candy!! I need to get some cotton candy!!" She decided to resist the temptation the first time around but when he made his second pass by our section she said very seriously: "No - I'm gonna get some cotton candy." Because she's pregnant and sounded VERY determined, I helped her flag the guy down. He walked up and gave her a little bag of cotton candy and then said: "That'll be 12 dollars."

I almost put some cotton candy in my mouth just so I could choke on it for effect. I'm not a cheapskate or anything but, for goodness sake . . . TWELVE DOLLARS? But at least it came with a hat . . .
Seriously - if I'm gonna pay that much for a little bag of cotton candy, it better give me a massage. Or have a cute brother.

The high wire was definitely one of my favorite parts. But it was a little nerve-racking. Especially when they did stuff like this . . .
I really don't understand how they do it. But that's not surprising because I failed the balance test on my Wii. So, understandably, they are QUITE impressive to me.

And they'd totally kick my butt on the Wii . . .

The elephants!!
Of course the elephants were the highlight. We loved the elephant in the book that we read so it was cool to see them all right in front of us doing things like this:
Then they stood on their heads. When we saw that they were all about to do head stands, we were super impressed and super excited. I think I even heard a collective gasp rise up from our group. But THEN we realized that we were DEFINITELY on the wrong side of the elephants to enjoy the headstand. Our faces went from awe and admiration to looks of disgust and confusion. You don't ever want to see that part of an elephant, friends. Ever. Take my word on that one. We'll have nightmares about it for years.

Anyway, it was a great show and a great night to spend with friends. We left the show feeling childlike, $12 poorer, a little more knowledgeable about elephant anatomy, and all agreeing that it truly is the greatest show on Earth!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Such humility . . .

My mom (or "Dearsie," as the kids call her) has recently started a new tradition with my sisters' kids and she calls it Dearsie Day. What is "Dearsie Day," you ask? Well, it's a big stinkin' deal, that's what it is. Here's how it works: Each kid gets to pick a night to come spend with Dearsie all by himself or herself. Then, the next day, they get to pick an activity to do (i.e. bake a cake) with my mom and just spend the day hanging out and getting spoiled rotten by her. The kids LOVE it and they get so excited when it's their turn.

Last night was my 7 year old niece, Savannah's, night to spend the night with my mom. She sort of made the decision last minute while they were over swimming yesterday afternoon so she didn't have any pajamas with her for the slumber party. That wasn't a problem for my mom - she just made that a part of the special day and took Savannah up to the mall before it closed to let her pick out a super cute pair of pajamas for their slumber party. Savannah tried on LOTS of pajamas and came out and modeled them for my mom so they could pick the CUTEST pair. They had it narrowed down to a couple of cute ones when Savannah took the final pair into the dressing room and then had this conversation with my mom, through the dressing room door:

Savannah: Oh . . . Dearsie . . . I am so cute.
Dearsie: Well, come show me!
Savannah: I am SO cute in these.
Dearsie: [looking at the huge three way mirror outside of Savannah's dressing room] Well, there's a mirror out here. I'm not sure it's gonna be BIG enough for you, but . . .
Savannah: Well, Dearsie - I WANNA come out. But . . . I JUST can't even stop looking at myself.

She finally came out of the dressing room and gestured toward herself as if to say "Am I cute or WHAT??" And I'm pretty sure when she saw the three-way mirror, she heard angels singing the Hallelujah chorus and then took in all the angles of her cuteness until the mall closed.

Yep. Definitely NO self-esteem issues there.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I Can Be . . . a floozy?

My niece Emma did something nice recently that I thought was deserving of recognition so I told her that I would take her to Toys R Us to let her pick out a reward for herself. She reminded me about it yesterday and decided that she wanted to go get her prize today. She had it all planned out, too: we would get the toy and then we'd go eat lunch at Black Eyed Pea. She planned our route from place to place and she even told me when I was supposed to leave my house so that I could get to her house in time to do everything.

I started to wonder if she might want to get a freakin' day planner at Toys R Us . . .

So I picked her up today for our big shopping trip. On our way over to Toys R Us, I asked her what she was planning to get and she named off about 4 Barbies. One of the ones that she listed was a Zoo Doctor Barbie, which I thought sounded pretty cool. And kind of a different career choice for Barbie.

Apparently, Mattel now has a whole line of "I Can Be" Barbies that have interesting careers and come with lots of accessories. When Emma was telling me about this, I had to give some major props to Mattel for using their toys to educate girls about the kinds of careers they can have. And the idea that the line is called "I Can Be" makes it even more worthy of props because it just reinforces the idea that these girls CAN be whatever they want to be - and the earlier they know it the better.

Way to go, Mattel. Way to build these girls up and help them to reach for the stars. People should stop giving you such a hard time for making Barbie's body proportions so unrealistic and giving little girls bad body images. You're not trying to objectify women at all. You're teaching girls that they can be anything they want to be.

Like a distinguished Zoo Doctor . . .
Wait. Hold up. What just happened?

What is she wearing? They had me at the "Zoo Doctor" part. But they lost me at the "Zoo Tramp" part. What the heck? They even have the elephant staring at her . . . ummmmmm . . . veterinary degree. Come ON, Mattel!

Well, maybe zoo doctors dress that way. I've never known one so maybe I'm being too hasty in my judgment. But a regular vet that you take your pet to - I know how THEY dress. They're usually dressed pretty comfortably, like scrubs and tennis shoes - right? So the Barbie Pet Vet would SURELY be more appropriately dressed . . .
Wait. Let me read the box again. Did it say "French Maid" or "Pet Vet?"

Then I saw a box that said "I can be a Baby Doctor," and I got my hopes up. Surely, Barbie would wear something appropriate around babies. Some scrubs, perhaps? Maybe a nice knee-length skirt with a lab coat? Maybe . . .
An obscene mini-skirt? Yeah - I guess that sounds about right . . .?

I looked around for a Prosecutor Barbie just so that I'd get an idea of what I should be wearing to work, but I didn't see one of those. So I guess I'm on my own with that.

Speaking of . . . I gotta wrap up - I still have to iron my hot-pants and belly shirt for work tomorrow.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Not again . . .

My sister Tammy was out shopping and saw this sign:

Seriously, people?