Siri, my new best friend.

This past year my kids upgraded their cell phones — while I walked FullSizeRender (1)
around with this. A shattered iPhone4 with a broken camera.

Don’t be surprised by the look of it. If you’ve read any of my blogs you know I drop things all the time. I remember dropping this sucker and watching it land on a big rock.

Anyway, I was due for an upgrade, so I caved and bought the iPhone6. Didn’t want to spend the money, but trying to answer my phone while hiding it from the public became too cumbersome.

When I got it home my son said, “Hey, you have Siri on your phone.” I was like… “I do? I’ve only heard of Siri — through visitors from faraway lands.”  That’s too strong, but you get my drift.

After asking Siri a number of questions like, “How do I get rid of belly fat?” and she’d kindly answer, “Checking… Here’s what I found on the web about how to get rid of your disgusting belly fat.” And she’d list a bunch of sites — that I will never look at.

Then, I decided to have some fun with my new-found friend.

How are you feeling?
Siri: I’m fine thanks for asking.

For good measure, I asked again….

How are you?
Siri: I’m finer than a frog’s hair.

What the hell is Siri talking about? My friend said that’s a southern saying, so maybe Siri is from Georgia. Then I wondered how Siri would handle it if I swore at her.

Ya know what, Siri?  “&%$@ You!” 
Siri: I wouldn’t say that to you.

Now, I’ve gone and offended her. But she kept her cool. I have to respect that.
Then I asked her something she couldn’t have possibly done.

Have you ever climbed a mountain?
Siri: Who me?
Yes.
Siri: I figured as much.

But she never really answered.

At this point, even though I’m laughing like a five year old, I’m also realizing that I’m talking to a phone.

And acting like it’s a real human being.

And thinking maybe I should put it down.

I don’t think I’m ready for new technology. Anyone for a game of PONG?

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Do Thundershirts for dogs really work?

As soon as I see lightning, or hear thunder, the feeling of sheer panic overcomes me. It’s the same feeling I got when my mother-in-law was about to visit.

Although two of my dogs are fine in a storm, my one golden retriever, Cosmo, turns into a lunatic and it’s CRAZYTOWN in our house. There is no calming him, and no rest for the weary. 😦

He paces like an expectant father, cries at the back door…then cosmoruns away when you open it, and finds comfort in relieving himself on the upstairs hallway carpet.

And, he’ll get hist 100 lb. body in bed with anyone who will allow it — even if it means suffocating them. But how can you say “no” to this face?

Last night, during a thunder-storm, I slept on the couch in the living room with Cosmo’s head on my belly, petting him all night and telling him the world was not coming to an end. Eventually he fell asleep, and so did I.

I woke up at 3:30 this morning to find my other pup, Forrest, curled up in a ball making a nest out of my legs. Somehow I managed to walk my stiff mangled body upstairs to bed.

So, I may buy him a doggie Thundershirt… it’s cheaper than doggie therapy, right?

Thank you, Mom… for putting up with me!

In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to thank my mom for putting up with me and my shenanigans, and always standing beside me even when she could’ve run away screaming.

We are very different people. She’s always doing the right thing, not a trouble maker. She never smoked a cigarette a day in her life, and almost never touches alcohol — with the exception of a well-made Fuzzy Navel on a special occasion.

She’s always working to help others. And no matter how much she gives of herself, no matter how tired she gets, she never complains.

So, to my sweet mother, thank you for:

  • Not spanking me when I hid by your expensive floor length white drapes (after sneaking a chocolate pudding), and forever ruining them. But instead, taking a picture and laughing.
  • Being involved in every activity of mine as a kid, even though I must’ve embarrassed you because I was the weird one.
  • Teaching me to work hard, and not to expect a hand-out from others. This one came in handy big time!
  • Accepting that I would spill my milk at dinner every night.
  • Always having the good sense to keep me safe from the sun’s harmful rays, without hatssacrificing style.
  • Being patient the day Ricky and I pretended to run away from home. I guess you had a feeling we weren’t going far with that can of Campbell’s soup and one of your big chocolate chip cookies in our runaway pillow case.
  • Calmly cleaning up… after one of my friends vomited all through our house on graduation day. And mom, thank goodness for Facebook because the culprit finally came clean 30 years later. It was Larry Rothang… and he apologizes.
  • Just shaking your head as my friends and I returned from a crazy night out before heading to college, and I rang the doorbell so you’d answer it and see me on the front porch hugging an orange traffic cone.
  • Being honest enough to tell me when I’m too hard on my kids, too petty, or overreacting. Because…. I still do all of that stuff, but not as much.
  • Pretending to agree when I tell my kids “I was the perfect child,” and not selling me out like dad does.
  • Being my role model. Someday I want to grow up to be just like you. 🙂

mom

I love you, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day!!

SHE SAID “YES” TO THE DRESS

Today my future daughter-in-law picked out her bridal gown. She looked absolutely stunning! I’d love to post a picture, but I’ll have to wait until after the wedding.

Once she announced “this is the one,” a few of us got a little teary — she just looked so beautiful. I can’t wait for my son to see her for the first time in this gown, as she enters the church on their wedding day. Yup, another Kindergarten Moment. 🙂

My friend asked if I looked for a mother-of-the-groom dress while I was in the bridal shop. Well, no, but luckily my Facebook friends have offered a few suggestions.

What do you think?

dress 1 dress 2 dress 3

The Life of a Candy Striper

When I was 14 years old, my friend Cindy and I signed up to volunteer as Candy Stripers at a local hospital. Each weekend we’d report for duty. We were never assigned to work together — somehow, they knew we should be separated.

At the end of each day, we’d compare stories. And boy did we have stories. My only regret is that I never kept a journal.

One of my jobs was to go room-to-room with a cart that contained items from the gift shop (candy, magazines, personal care items, etc.). One patient, an older woman, asked if there were slippers on the cart. There were.

She asked if I’d help her try them on. I agreed. When I brought the slippers to her, she lifted up her gown and extended her legs. But, Oh my God!, she didn’t need to lift up her gown that far. My 14-year-old eyes were burning!

Somehome-alone-fearful-facehow I kept my composure, got the slippers on her feet, made the sale and went on my merry way. [In later years, when I was telling my friend that story she replied “She had no feet?” I guess I didn’t tell the story quite right.]

Between the two of us, my friend Cindy was the bubbly one… cute as a button. It even said so in her personal file. Not that we peeked or anything.  😉  And when she had “candy cart duty” the old men would hit on her. Where have you been all my life, sweetheart? they’d ask, with their dirty old man smiles …and never mind the marriage proposals!

Over the course of two years a lot happened…

One time I was admitting a patient and couldn’t find his room. I had this poor man walking all over the hospital. Unfortunately —  he was a heart patient — and my dad’s boss!

I became accustom to the man on the 2nd floor who yelled vulgar obscenities due to Tourette’s Syndrome, saw way too many naked old people, and a young mother gave me the blow-by-blow details of her home birth.

One patient asked me to be her “look out” and watch for the yellow get-away car, and another accused me of drinking her juice…then spitting back in the cup to cover my tracks. True story. But poor Cindy. She witnessed the worst of them all. She saw a a fellow candy striper slip and fall in a pile of…. well, you know.

But at the end of each day, Cindy and I would have quiet time. We’d sit and visit with the elderly in the Extended Care Unit. They couldn’t be placed in a nursing home because of their extensive medical conditions. I think the patients and candy stripers mutually enjoyed each other’s company.

And we definitelyl learned some life lessons too. Some things that can scare a young teen, became so familiar to us. We learned how to stay calm, and have what I think is called… compassion. Someday, we may be here, ya know?A young hand holding an elderly hand 665 x 400

To this day, hospitals don’t scare me. Not everything is sunshine and roses. We get sick, we grow old…we just need people to be there for us along the way.

Even now, 35 years later, when Cindy and I are out with the girls — if  we excuse ourselves from the table you often hear us say “Gotta Peeeeee!” as those were the words of one of our most beloved patients, and will forever be embedded in our brains…. and her, in our hearts.

He Said What?

The other day I was reading a post entitled Out of the Mouths of Babes. If you’re a parent, you’ve had a moment where your kid says something so embarrassing you wish you could shrink to the size of a bug and fly away. Even though I have four children, all of the moments that came to mind involved only one…my son, Michael.

There’s a couple of things you need to know about Michael.

  1. He was born with perfect comedic timing.
  2. He has a brain like a sponge, and can regurgitate information at a moment’s notice. (Name a movie and he’ll tell you the actors’ names, the characters they played, and famous quotes from the movie like he just studied for an exam.)

I remember this first story as if it was yesterday.

Michael and I were in a card shop and I was waiting in line at the register. He was three years old. He turned to me and asked loudly “Mommy, why did you fart?!” Ok, first…I didn’t.  And, second…how do you get out of that one?

Looking back, I don’t know why I handled it this way… but I decided to defend myself — in front of a crowd of people. “What? I didn’t fart!” The more I heard myself saying those words out loud, the more humiliated I became, and I sounded like I was lying.

When I got to the cashier, she was doubled over the register laughing. I didn’t learn my lesson. I said it again…“BUT, I DIDN’T FART!!” pleading with her to believe me. And she replied… “Kids are so honest, aren’t they?”

I gave up.

I walked sheepishly to the car with my face as red as a cranberry. Once inside I asked him… “Michael, why did you say that?” His response. “Oh, I know you didn’t. But the lady in front of us did.”

I wasn’t present for this second story. But it’s one for the history books.

My brother, Rick, decided to take Michael to McDonalds for lunch. When the cashier reached out her arm to give my brother his change, he decided to lift Michael up and let her give the money directly to him, for keeps.

As the women stood waiting to drop the change into Mikey’s palm, he keep the changelooked at her and said… “Keep the change, you filthy animal.” [We all remember that line from Home Alone, don’t we?] My brother said he dropped to the floor laughing. I’m glad somebody did. Ugg.

And for the grand finale….

We were staying at my parent’s house, and my dad was at the dining room table going over paperwork with a woman who was purchasing a piece of property from him. Michael was watching television in the next room. When I walked past the dining room I said hello to the woman. She didn’t acknowledge me. My dad seemed agitated…a bit on edge. Something was wrong.

After my dad saw her out, he shut the door calmly, then slowly turned around. “Well…YOUR son almost blew a property deal for me tonight.” What? Now, how could a toddler do that?

He continued… “YOUR son wandered into the dining room and proudly announced to the woman ‘My mom thinks you’re full of crap!’

Well, that explains the cold shoulder.

I assured my dad that I never even met that woman before in my life. I asked Mikey, yet again, why he said such a thing. His answer…“The boy at the birthday party on TV said it to the Ghostbusters2_2Ghostbusters. The boy’s dad thought they were full of crap!” [Ghostbusters 2]

I’m pretty sure this is when I started purchasing an extensive collection of Sesame Street tapes.

Why I Should be Banned from Wegmans

First, if you don’t know what Wegmans is… it’s a grocery store. The Disneyland of all grocery stores. You may have seen Alec Baldwin on the David Letterman show where he suggests that his mom move to California and she says “And leave Wegmans?”

Wegmans is fantastic, but to be honest, I try to steer clear. First, it’s kind of expensive. My friends and I joke that you wear sweat pants to Aldi, jeans to Price Chopper and a tux to Wegmans. And, being on a tight budget, I know I shouldn’t shop there as much as I do. But it’s like a drug — addicting. “I need those damn Feta Cheese Stuffed Olives from the Mediterranean Bar! I can’t stop shaking.”

However, the real reason I shouldn’t go in there, is because I wreak havoc.

I remember the day it started. I decided to get some Marie’s Chunky Blue Cheese. Not the small jar – the super large jar – the “let’s top the salads of everyone in the neighborhood” jar. When I got to the check out, I dropped the jar. Yes, it broke. Yes, it splattered. Yes, Marie’s Chunky Blue Cheese can travel approximately 32 feet upon impact.

Soon after, I noticed a pattern. I knocked over numerous stacks of yogurt (domino effect), smashed my cart into a free-standing display, dropped-kicked a hand-held shopping basket into a stand of strawberries (I accidentally picked up two basket and the bottom one came loose), and last but not least, I pulled out a bag of white chocolate chips only to find the seam on the back was ripped open.

Yes, I took a picture because I figured nobody would believe that I did it again.
Yes, I took a picture because I figured nobody would believe that I did it again.

It gets worse. The curse was contagious. I passed it onto my daughter. She dropped a tub of sour cream all over the floor in Wegmans just moments after a friend of mine walked by with her cart, packed with perfectly unbroken items, and yelled “Don’t drop anything!”

So, lately I’ve been shopping at Price Chopper. Which is fine by me. Because at Price Chopper… I’m allowed to wear jeans.  🙂

“DO” Talk to Strangers

For some reason, strangers talk to me. All the time. I don’t know why, but they do.

I’ve seen people walk by an entire aisle of shoppers in the grocery store, then approach me… “Where can I find the cinnamon? My wife needs the cinnamon and I can’t find it. She’s gonna kill me.”

Once a cashier felt comfortable enough to hide behind the counter, then jump up and yell “Boo! Did I scare you?”  Of course, not wanting to hurt his feelings… “Well yes. Yes you did. I didn’t even see the top of your head as you were hiding on me.” Since I never met him before in my life… I don’t know why the comfort zone.

I even had a woman sit down next to me in the mall and tell me about the corns on her feet. She was going to show me. I’m dead serious. She wondered if I thought her shoes gave her enough arch support. Clearly, I look like an orthopedic specialist, and didn’t have the heart to tell her I was just a graphic designer.

And, I love it when people mistake me for someone else. I had a “twin” in college; a local bartender that looked very much like me. People called me by her name all the time. One day, her ex-boyfriend approached me and started conversation. I said “I’m not who you think I am.” He became upset…“Really? You’re going to act like you don’t know me after we dated for nine months?!” So, I showed him my driver’s license. By the look on his face, I think he may have done a doo-doo. And I’m thinking…How could YOU not know your own girlfriend. He apologized profusely.

But, then there are the encounters that are really sweet…

Once, there was a women in a restaurant that was thrilled to see me. She thought I was her niece. Her daughter whispered that she had Alzheimers. When I looked at her face, her eyes lit up! So, I sat down in the booth next to her and visited a while…pretending to be who she thought I was. She was so happy — it made me happy. That stuck with me. When a few minutes of your time can make someone’s day, spare a few minutes of your time.  

But, my all-time favorite was on Christmas Eve. I call this story “Build it Anyway.”

My kids didn’t feel like going to the late night church service, so I went alone. An older, very sweet woman sat next to me. She reminded me so much of my grandmother it was hard not to stare. And, ironically, my grandmother’s birthday was on Christmas Eve.

gram
My sweet granny!

When it was time to greet your neighbor, she reached out and patted the top of my hand. My grandmother always did that. It was one of those things I remember so clearly about her.

When the service ended, we exited out the same door. She veered to the right, and I headed to the left. It was snowing, lightly, but the snowflakes were probably the biggest I’ve ever seen in my life. Now, this woman was about 20 ft away and she stopped suddenly. She turned around and said… “Have you ever seen snowflakes like this before?” I commented that they were really beautiful. She said she wanted to go home and build a snowman. But, considering she was over 80 years old her neighbors would think she was nuts. I smiled at her and said “Build it anyway.” She laughed, “Ya know what…I think I will.” Then she waved good-bye and said “Merry Christmas.”

So yeah, I do talk to strangers. I mean, not in a dark alley or anything. And I certainly don’t take candy from them. But I don’t ignore people who cross my path.

Some of them need help, some of them make me laugh…or need us to make them laugh. And some simply leave a lasting impression — one that you wouldn’t give up for the world.