7.30.2008

Attachment Parenting vs. Detachment Parenting Part 1

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about Attachment Parenting. Sibling Six of Nine is big into this and I have to be careful what I say about it because she is practically the president of the Attachment Parenting Fan Club and also you don’t want to make her mad because I did that once in high school and she gave me the silent treatment for two whole weeks.

Being a bit afraid of her as I am, I decided that the responsible thing for me to do would be to learn a little bit about Attachment Parenting before I write about it. And so, even though I really hate homework, I went online and found out a little more about it.

I found out that the essence of Attachment Parenting is to form a strong connection with your kid. I think that is a great idea and I’m in big favor of it as long as the parent doesn’t lose his or her own individual identity in the process.

Now, Attachment Parenting has eight main principles that the new crop of moms and dads are following. They are quite different than the principles that I followed when bringing up my kids, but I think I am fairly open minded about most of them, especially since I brought up my kids on the DETACHMENT parenting model, where you react to having no time for yourself by hiding from your kids in the bathroom just to hear yourself think.

The first one is to Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life. This means that you have to say “no” to all of the people who are asking you to spread yourself too thin because that makes you cranky and you won’t be nice to your kid. I think this is a great idea. It means that raising a kid has become elevated in importance.

Twenty years ago, if you stayed home with your kids like I did, you were kind of embarrassed about it. You sort of dreaded meeting new people who asked: “So, what do YOU do?”

Now I feel like moms of little kids would reply: “I’m shaping a human being, that’s what!” I like the concept of that, but I feel really badly that these poor moms who are investing so much time and effort into every phrase and action might not realize that the kid and his brother are going to grow up with two completely different personalities even though they were raised exactly the same and then you will wonder if you were fighting a losing battle against a stronger opponent called Personality.

Stay tuned as we examine a principle a day for the next week.


7.27.2008

You Know What I Hate?

I hate it when I am starting to feel pretty good about myself and one of my kids will casually throw out some comment about some other mother they know who is doing something really fabulous.

Like I am trying to get up to 13 mailboxes (see "Running") and my youngest child, The Athlete, will say:  “Hey. I saw these really cool tennis shoes I want for school. Erica’s mom got them to train for the 10-K she is running in next month.”

Or I will be out on the deck talking with The Overachiever, and I will excuse myself to go to bed because I have to leave for work at 6:45 a.m. the next day, and she will say, as if she just HAPPENED to remember it at that moment: “Charles’ mom is crazy. She left the house at 4:15 a.m. yesterday to go to the gym before work.”

Oh really.

Even though she is very smart, sometimes that Overachiever has some bad timing. Like the other day when I was stomping around the house carrying a laundry basket on the day of the week I hate the very most: Cleaning Day.

The Overachiever pops her head into the bathroom while I am scrubbing the toothpaste globs off the porcelain from some slob who didn’t learn that you have to run the water during the part where you spit and says: “Did you know that Mike’s mom had like four cleaning ladies quit on her because she likes to clean so much that she would follow them around and try to clean with them when they were at her house.”

Fascinating.


7.24.2008

Tsk, Tsk

Sometimes my regular customers whose gardens I care for each week really push it to the limit as far as the things they ask me to do.

One person I usually let get away with this is The Little Old Lady. She has been my customer and friend for about 10 years now, and now that she is pushing 90, there isn’t a lot she can still do around the yard. But MAN can that woman boss!

My hubby, Willis, jokes that the night before I come over, she gets together on her splendid little screened porch with her friends from the retirement community and they all have a few cocktails and dream up things for me to do that are a little out there. He thinks the conversation goes something like this:

Friend in wheelchair: “Make her move that big bird feeder that hangs from that high branch in the Willow tree. I’ll bet you my yarn collection she will have to climb the tree to get that done, because you only have that little stepladder.”

Friend with Alzheimer’s: “Good one! Hey. Call me in the morning to remind me so I can watch from the back window.”

Yesterday I was asked to move an old pile of wood from the back yard to the garage. This is the same pile of wood I have personally moved about a dozen times to different locations depending on “where it looks best.”

Grudgingly, and after accomplishing all of the other tasks on the very long list written in the world’s most perfect handwriting, I looked at my watch and realized I was going to have to tackle the woodpile, which was located at the farthest end of the garden behind some tall bushes.

After walking through the bushes a few times carrying several armloads of wood, accumulating scratches on my arms in the process, it occurred to me that a more efficient way to move the pile would be to throw the logs over the fence surrounding the garden and then go get them and bring them to the front. I had been doing this for a while, and was at the point during a mundane task where I let my mind wander to deciding what I might like to have for lunch, when I looked down after picking up a piece of wood off the pile and saw a chubby gray mouse looking back at me.

The moment seems frozen in time, looking back on it, as all traumatic moments are. I looked at the mouse and then I screamed and accidentally dropped the big log on his head. I was instantly horrified, due to the fact that I am opposed to killing of any kind and am the type of person that gets made fun of for capturing spiders I find in the house and releasing them outside unharmed.

Not wanting to pick up the weapon of death to check the status of the mouse. (The half of his body that was showing wasn’t moving.) I walked back to the garage to confront my abuser.

“What was all that ruckus back there.” She asked.

“I think I accidentally killed a mouse,” I said.

“Good,” she replied. She hates all kinds of varmints.

“I don’t think I can go back there.” I said sheepishly.

Then she made that little sound with her tongue on the roof of the mouth that my dad made when I was little that said: “You are really a disappointment to me.”

Then I went home and took a nap and dreamed that the family of the mouse was chasing me in hopes of revenge.


7.23.2008

Intimidation by Note

At my house you have to watch your stuff. Because I am one of those mean moms that doesn’t buy junk food, the girls will sometimes use their hard-earned money to satisfy their sugar cravings.

But because the sight of sugar is so exciting, every now and then they will pretend that there is even a chance that I purchased, say, the pound of chocolate-covered peanuts hidden in the cupboard and one of them will eat them.

Then there is a holy war when the one of them who bought them goes to eat the beloved chocolate covered peanuts and they are gone. Sometimes there is scratching and biting and words that I didn’t know they knew.

But these are smart, clever girls. And so now they have developed the system of intimidating notes.

Here is how it goes: If you have a tasty item that you need to protect, you must take the time to write an intimidating note and attach it to the item before placing it back in the refrigerator or cupboard.

The overachiever explained to me last night that a funny note will work if it will make the reader laugh. They will give you credit for being clever by not eating your stuff. This method works for her. Last week one of her notes, written on the raspberries she purchased to make smoothies said:

“These are my razzbabies. Don’t eat them because then I won’t have any children.”

Sometimes she is sarcastic (I wonder where she gets that from?). Her note last week on her beloved 100-calorie pack snack box said:

“Don’t eat these. They are to take to my job where I work all day every day without getting paid.” (She is doing an internship for the summer.)

Her sister The Brainiac sticks with the fear factor when writing her notes. I see this morning that she has written a note on the delicious and expensive looking box of Tom’s Mom’s chocolate chip cookies her boyfriend brought back from his trip to Michigan. It says:

“DON’T EVEN DARE!”

I don’t think anyone will be touching those.

7.22.2008

US Gymnastic Team Chosen

Being a former gymnast and the mother of a gymnast I have to tell you that I am really excited about the Olympics. Yesterday the women’s gymnastics team was named for this year’s Olympics and here they are:

Shawn Johnson from Iowa. This is a girl you have to love. She is a junior in high school and only spends four hours a day at the gym, which is unheard of for athletes at her level of skill. Just 4’ 10’’, she reminds me of my other Olympic pixie Mary Lou Retton with her winning smile and perfect landings. Shawn is my choice to win the all around for the U.S.

Nastia Liukin from Texas. The bar routines of this athlete are the best in the world. She is the daughter of two Olympic gymnasts and was destined to succeed in the sport even though she is a bit tall and doesn’t have the typical gymnast body. What she lacks in power, she makes up for in grace and flexibility. She will be Shawn Johnson’s main competition for the Gold.

Chellsie Memmel from Wisconsin. Chellsie is making a comeback after being injured. She is coached by her dad and he is always positive. Chellsie has the competitive spirit to try to surpass Nastia and Shawn.

Sam Peszek from Indiana: Sam is the beauty queen of this Olympic team. She was most likely chosen for the consistency she shows in competition.

Alicia Sacromone of Massachusetts. Alicia is a college student at Brown University. She is the oldest of the athletes and a natural leader. I love seeing Alicia on the team because she just missed the cut at the last Olympics.

Bridget Sloan of Indiana: This girl is all humility and sweetness and can’t seem to believe what is happening to her. My daughter with the same name is mad about this selection, because she is planning to make the next Olympic team next time around (hey, a girl can dream) and wanted to be the first Bridget to compete for the U.S.

7.21.2008

Ramblemania

What did you guys do last weekend? Some of you with the fantastic lives probably did a little traveling. I know my fantastically successful realtor sibling four opened a Rolex watch as a gift from my fantastically generous sibling eight for selling her fantastically awesome and expensive house in Edina, Minnesota in five days.

For me, not so much fabulosity. Despite my pledge upon graduating from old Mankato State University to never, ever do homework again, I did what I had to do. I did some research on blogging.

The bad news for you guys is that I learned I am being a blogging overachiever. Because of my newspaper background, I was under the assumption that all of my little stories had to be well-formulated and have a point. But after spending some time on OPB (other people’s blogs) I now know that I can write about anything I want.

One of the most successful blogs on the internet devotes much of the content to pictures of the author’s four cats doing what they do in a typical day. I guess I am really over-reaching and all you might really want to hear is that we had a bonfire in the backyard last night even though the temperature was 90 degrees, because you can avoid bundling the yard waste for the trash man by burning it and also avoid any kitchen mess associated with preparing dinner by searing a few brats over the flames.

Something great happened to my third child (the Brainiac) this weekend that was the cause for much celebration. Checking the mail for college literature like she does every day, she held an envelope high in the air and announced: “Well. Harvard wants me.”

No. Not the acceptance letter. An offer to visit. But hey. It’s nice to be invited.

Also, after being dumped by her pretend boyfriend in a text message (how rude), my fourth child (The Athlete) hooked up with someone new and they went to open gym so she could embarrass him by showing him all of the tricks she knows. There was a mom next to me with a gymnastics hopeful watching her daughter dedicate herself to learning a full twisting flip for an entire hour and a half while I watched The Athlete teach the new pretend boyfriend how to do a front flip. I think her $10 was better spent.

7.19.2008

Let's Share


I was reading today in my new book Blogging for Dummies, which I purchased using my birthday gift card from my good buddy Joan, that the way to get readers to leave comments is to “inspire” them. Being from a family that loves to shop, I had an idea. Let’s all tell each other about a cool new product that we found that has been very useful to us. Then we can learn about everyone else’s favorite product and other people will be writing things and that will give me time to work on the horrendous project my zany brother Joe gave me to diagram complex sentences for some artsy thing he is working on.

Because bribes have been a useful tool to me so far in my life, I am going to continue the trend and give the person who reports on the item my blog administrator Amy finds the most useful a $10 Walmart gift card just to get on my husband’s nerves because he hates Walmart and all it represents.

O.K. so here we go: My favorite new product are are the little single fertilizing packets made by Miracle Gro. They are these great little tubes which probably get low marks from my family in Colorado who are into the Green movement because they probably hate the waste of all the packaging and they would never dream of fertilizing with anything chemical, but I have a business to run and my busy clients, who don’t even have time to plant their own garden containers, certainly appreciate these things. You can pick up a bag of about 20 at Walmart or somewhere similar for under $10. If you dump one into the watering can twice a week, your containers will look very lush and colorful. Especially if I planted them in the first place☺

7.17.2008

My Church is Too Hip


I never thought I would say this, especially not six years ago when I left my conservative Catholic church hoping to find someplace a little less formal and confining, but I’m afraid my new church is becoming too hip.

In the beginning, it was great. The non-denominational church was a refreshing change from the standing, kneeling, sitting, aerobic church of my youth. Gone were the skirts and ties. Kids showed up in cargo shorts and tennis shoes, adults in the golf clothes for the match they were playing after the service. That was O.K. That was just more COMFORTABLE.

The music was better too. The large clientele at the new church meant there were singing tryouts to be in the chorus. Gone were the bad cantors of my youth that threatened to shatter the stain-glassed windows on the high notes. Instead of hiding out up on the balcony, the singers were up on the stage where you could see them. That was great. That was just more ENJOYABLE.

Communion was simpler. Instead of having to walk up to the front and share the same germy goblet of wine with the rest of the congregation, the ushers passed out little plastic cups of grape juice and mini-saltines to each pew. That was great. That was just more EFFICIENT and HYGENIC.

The message was more meaningful. Spoken by our charismatic and (O.K. and I’ll say it) attractive pastor with a great sense of humor, the message (formerly known as the sermon) hit home and was something you could reflect on in order to try to make yourself a better person. That was great. That was just more ENTERTAINING.

But lately, in order to “bring the message” to the younger crowd, I think my church might be going a bit over the edge.

It started with the Coffeehouse. When the droves of people leaving their churches to come to this great new church could no longer fit in the sanctuary, they opened the doors of the giant meeting room on Sundays and advertised it as the answer for the “teen worshipers and their families.” The sermon was piped in and displayed on a giant screen. That was just so IMPERSONAL.

Next came the band. Kids like bands, right? I think that was the reason for the full set of drums and the electric guitars and the lyrics that kids were jamming to. That was just so LOUD.

The final straw for me was the coffee bar. I think the reasoning was: “Well. People get thirsty and sometimes in their hurry to get to worship, they forget to eat breakfast.” So now, right outside the door, you can pay a few bucks for a smoothie or a cup of coffee and a roll. And don’t be in a hurry. Bring them on in and sip them in comfort during the show. That is just so COMMERCIAL.

I’m headed back to the sanctuary where the more conservative service is held. I think I’ve gone a little too far to the left in order to combat the strict religion of my youth. But my girls are going to be mad. They are big fans of the mango smoothie.

7.16.2008

Running



I think that in order to distract myself from some of my goals that have hit a little slow-down right now in my life I am going to create another goal. I am going to become a runner.

O.K. This is really hard for me to admit, but honesty has always been my policy, and I’m not going start running to improve my cardiovascular so and so. I am going to do it because lately I have been very afraid of the legs of people my age.

Everywhere I look are legs that really don’t belong in shorts, there they are. The combination of the of cellulite and spider veins like some kind of intricate world map for all the world to see.

Below the knee my legs still have it. I think it was from the tap dancing for our high school musicals at good old O’Gorman High School, but I’ve got a pretty good calf muscle going on there. Up above the knee things are starting to scare me a bit. This year I have switched over to the “walking short,” otherwise known as the “covering up the unsightly portion of your leg short.” These are referred to by the teen set, who would never wear them, as the Bermuda Short. They hover somewhere around the knee, or cover them up sometimes if you are vertically challenged, like me.

In the extra closet down the hall are the shorter shorts. The cute and youthful shorts. The goal shorts. And before the summer is over I am going to look good in a pair of those.
Here is how I am going to do it: I am going to do it using mailboxes.

Out here in suburban Ohio, where I live, the mailboxes are at the curb. They are up on wooden posts placed about 120 feet apart. Ohio is a great place for out of shape mailmen and women because they never have to get out of the little white trucks. They just drive along the curb line and shove in the mail.

But I digress. The great thing about the mailboxes is that they set little goals for me as I jog along. I already know from reading an article in Better Homes and Gardens about how to take 10 years off your legs that the walk/jog method of exercise is preferred for out-of-shape mothers trying to become runners. They recommend mixing walking with little spurts of jogging until you build up your endurance. So as I am huffing along I just look up ahead and say to myself:

“Just a little longer, flabby. Just push it to the ugly plastic mailbox with the purple flowers painted on the side.”

Today I jogged for seven mailboxes. Then my legs started to itch like crazy for some unknown reason and I had to walk the rest of the way home. Tomorrow my goal is the mailbox that is being eaten by a poisonous vine. That seems like a good place to end.



7.14.2008

Olympics

Well since there is no new news to report, you will have to listen to a cute story that I heard at a dinner party I was invited to where all they served was fish except in the dessert which mercifully was chocolate cake until I took a bite and figured out they messed it up with bananas.

As I was hiding my Chilean Sea Bass under a pile of sweet potatoes, the couple across from us said they had lived in Atlanta when the Olympics were there and there were signs all over hanging above traffic that said how many days until the Olympics.

One day the mom was picking their five-year old daughter Emma up from preschool, and they drove under a sign that said "Thirteen More Days until the Olympics comes to Atlanta," and Emma yells out from the back seat: "I wish someone would have told ME the Olympics were coming. I'm GOOD at A LOT OF THINGS!"

That just cracked me up and everyone else at the table too, so they didn't even notice when I fed my shrimp to the cat.

7.13.2008

Itsybitsyteenieweenie

Here's a little advice: Don't go swimming suit shopping with your 18-year-old with the perfect body. She will try to tell you that you can wear a bikini when it's obvious (especially standing next to her in one) that is just not a good idea. She will say that your tasteful and trendy one-piece is too "momish," which is a word often used to describe anything un-hip.

It is fun to point out to her, though, that the stretch marks you are trying to cover are her fault.

7.12.2008

The Young and the Restless

That's the name of my Soap Opera. I go to work every morning and I come home for lunch and eat my stupid South Beach Diet rabbit food lunch and watch a half hour of these lives that are so much more desperate than mine. I like the way the women always are wearing dress-up clothes and make-up and their hair is never in a pony tail.

Then I go back to work and I come home again and I log on to my other soap opera: My extended Family Website (www.myfamily.com).  And do you know how disappointing it is when the only thing on there is pictures of my own kids?

I have proposed a new rule to my family where everyone will have to develop a story line a week. If they don't have one in their real life, they can make one up. It would be good if it was funny or scandalous. I'll start: Mine is really true.

When I went to get my boy some poker stuff at the poker store, the guy who owned it started hitting on me (if you think I'm bragging here, it is because you didn't SEE the guy).  

I was like: "Are these slot machines also for sale?"

And he says: "Everything in here is for sale.  Even me." And then he winked at me.
Poker Boy and his sister were with me and they were giving each other the glance and then when we got to the car the boy said:  "Hey.  Did you ever see anyone hit on our mom before?" 

Then the next day I had to go BACK, because I had to pick up this book on poker tells and I was scared to go in the place because of the creepy guy. So I waited in my car until I saw some other people go in and I quick grabbed the book and sprinted to the register because creepo was busy with some other customers. As the lady was ringing me up, Mr. Suave comes up to the register and sees my billfold, which has a big L on the front and says: "What's that stand for? Luscious?" And I said: "Are you for real?"

Now if that happened on the Young and the Restless, the guy would have been the heir to the throne of a small country and gorgeous, but in my life he was the owner of a poker store and looked a lot like Bozo the Clown.

Stay tuned to tomorrow, when Lisa's youngest daughter pinches her stomach and suggests she go on Biggest Loser . . . 

7.11.2008

The Game of Life


Recently I took a trip to the beautiful state of Colorado to visit siblings three, six, seven and nine. I stayed at the home of sibling six with her husband and two girls. One of her girls is at the age where kids like to get rid of the aggression they feel towards the bossy adults in their lives by beating the crap out them at board games.

And so we all played the Game of Life.

After struggling to remember the rules a bit, I soon recalled that the Game of Life is much like real life, where most of your success depends on the cards you draw, but some of it can be tracked to good choices.

And that’s why my niece can usually kick my butt at this game. Her mom gives her choices.
For example: She was driving her little Game of Life car around the board and she stopped to get married. This is the part of the game where a girl adds a blue peg to the car to symbolize her husband.
Or so I thought.

I was reaching for the blue peg to put next to her pink one in the front seat of the car and my sister kind of stopped my hand mid-motion and looked at her kid very casually and said:
“Honey. What color peg do you choose?”

I was very confused and said: “What do you mean?” I thought there was some new rule that had developed in the last couple of decades.

“Well,” said my niece. “We believe in choices. And so now I have a choice whether to be homosexual or heterosexual.” Today I think I am going to choose . . . . to marry a woman.”
And she popped a pink peg into the front seat.

When I landed on the marriage square, the pressure was on. I got the eye roll from my niece after choosing the blue peg (“boring,” she said), but defended my choice by saying I wanted children.

“You can ADOPT,” she smartly retorted.

I won that Game of Life, in the end, and she pouted a bit about that. But I think she is going to be a big winner in the real game of life because that kid has something that I never had enough of.
That kid has CHOICES!!!

Guest Blog by Number Nine

I have been doing some software training south of Denver this week, so I decided to go to the climbing gym ( really close to the training center) yesterday to get a little workout in. I haven't been to the climbing gym in so long because it is a good distance from our home and since gas is so expensive, well you know...............

So I get to the gym, change my clothes, and start bouldering a bit. For those of you who don't know, bouldering is when you do a series of short, powerful moves, but stay closer to the ground, and use no ropes. It is a fun thing to do when you don't have a partner to belay you, or when the creepy guy offers to be your "climbing partner" and belay you on a few routes ("no thanks, I'm just going to boulder today"). Anyways, I am feeling pretty strong, and the creepy guy leaves, so I am feeling like I could use the auto belay to do some top rope climbs and work on my endurance.

I reach for my harness.

OK, step one, slide right foot into leg loop. Step two, slight left foot into other leg loop. Step three, slide harness up legs and onto thi...........wait, wait a second! Why won't my leg loops slide past my knees?

In a panic, I think back, trying to identify the last time I wore the harness - one year ago. How could this be? Has my girth really increased that much in 12 months? Why haven't those squats been paying off? Maybe that cellulite cream I've been smearing on my thighs is actually a cellulite growth formula.

Regretfully, I adjust the leg loops to accommodate my new thighs, and continue climbing, trying not to cut off the circulation to my feet. My BF offers me some excuses (when people get desk jobs....) I know the real reason- my Minneapolis Cake Trip.

7.10.2008

WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!?

One of my new garden-design clients just got divorced and purchased a really ugly fixer-upper because his wife got the house. He asked me to stop by and walk around and then let him know what I thought could be done with the landscaping.

When I called, I said: "So, what were you thinking?" meaning, "what area are you thinking you might like to tackle first," but the poor guy took it like, "What WERE you THINKING!" as in, "What could have possessed you to buy this ugly house?"

He said: "Well, I think it has a lot of potential." and then I realized what had happened and I was like: "Oh, no, I didn't mean it like that. I'm a big fan of the fixer-upper!"

Fortunately he understood. I am such a dork.

7.09.2008

Baby Graphing

Recently sister sibling number eight and our niece both reported their respective 6-month-old sons' progress on their growth charts.

I think the predictions doctors make based on those charts are interesting. When my daughter Bridget was about three, her height was not even on the chart and the doctor said "Do you have any small people in your family?"

I was like: "Well, my husband's sister is only 5' 1''

And he said: "No. Really small."

And then I freaked out and I kind of shouted: "YOU MEAN DWARFS???"

I thought he was trying to tell me Bridget was going to be a little person. But he was just breaking it to me that he didn't think she would reach five feet. She still hasn't, but we are just and inch away and hoping to prove him wrong.

7.08.2008

Modern Fireworks

You know what kind of trend I hate? I hate the trend that takes a perfectly beautiful, simple thing and tries to add on to it, thus creating some strange mathematical equation like the ones I could never understand in my youth where a positive and a positive suddenly equals a negative.

I’m talking about the new idea some cutting-edge DJ had of combining fireworks with a medley of patriotic songs.

Last weekend some friends took us to one of those Fourth of July country club soirees that start in the afternoon with swimming and face-painting and snow-cones for the kids, followed by dinner with the bugs and then an endless wait for the main event: the fireworks.

There is kind of a build-up to the fireworks in the last half-hour before dark, where all of the kids grab blankets and sit on the lawn near the water and look up at the sky in wait and where the parents stop drinking and fall into a contemplative state of happy patriotism. This is the point where I think back to the fireworks of my youth, where the only sound was the pop of the display when it finally hit the place in the sky where it was destined to explode.

Now I can’t really hear the pop. Or the sizzle that the really cool ones make that peter out and then end in little snapping bubbles of color. I can only hear the words to Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA blasting from a poor quality speaker a couple of feet from my ear.
video
And if they insist on this over-stimulation, could they at least leave the finale alone? After all, the finale of a fireworks display is a magic that cannot be messed with. There is the fake finale, with several big explosions in a row that have you dreading that the end is near, and then a few more ordinary fireworks that hand you hope that the real finale is a little further ahead.

Then. There it comes. More amazing and loud and beautiful than last year. And you would be thinking you are proud to be an American, but you don’t have to. The song the DJ is playing is saying that for you.


The Speed-Park Man

When you have just lived through a family reunion with all of its back-to-the-future sibling rivalry and strained relationships caused by the choice of each person to live an entirely different lifestyle from everyone else as a way of standing out from the crowd, the last thing you need is to almost get killed by the Speed-Park guy on the way from the airport back to your car.

Looking at this man as he kindly waddles down from the front seat to lift your oversized bag into the caddy in hopes of a $1 tip, he doesn’t seem dangerous at all. You even feel sorry for him, knowing that between the weight of his stomach and all of those bags he lifts in a day, his back will be shot in no time. But he is bitter. You are the reason for his misery. And he is going to kill you on the way back to the Speed-Park.

Getting there is a little bumpy, but there are red lights to slow him down a bit. But once on the Speed-Park property, there is no stopping him. He flies down the lanes of parked cars at breakneck speed as the passengers look at each other uncomfortably. A mother clutches her crying baby. A standing man falls into the lap of a man holding tightly to his guitar case. I am the last to exit. Fate - which is never on my side - has me parked in aisle V. But V is for Victory. Except for a scraped elbow I received from grabbing for the balance pole on the final turn, I am unscathed.

I want to say something to this Mario Andretti of the Speed-Park, but instead I cast my eyes downward and hand him his $1. I am very afraid of the Speed-Park man.

Family Gatherings


These are great places to collect stories. You can get all sorts of free stories here and then shine them up and add a little to them and make them your own. Not long ago I was at a gathering of my very large family celebrating a baptism, a graduation and four birthdays. Sitting around a table watching my family consume two cakes, a case of beer and two pots of coffee (we all have our drug of choice) I heard this very great story from sibling number nine:

Seems she needed to have some moles checked out which were located on her chest. Anticipating the action of opening the gown at the doctor’s office, she creatively went on-line to the directory of the doctors in her network and chose a doctor of middle age based on photos available on the site. She didn’t want to show her chest to a discerning young handsome doctor, after all.

Relieved of that stress, she drove the two hours to the doctors’ office the day of her appointment and was surprised when the door to the examining room opened and Brad Pitt walked in.

“Hi. I’m filling in for doctor what’s-his-name today,” he said with a movie-star voice and a twinkle in his blue eyes. “Let’s open up that gown and have a look."
(Opens gown and looks critically and with furrowed brow)
“Mmmm,” he hums with concern. “How long have you had that acne on your chest?”

“About a year now. Since I went off the pill.” replied my sister.

“What are you using?" asked Dr. Pitt

“Well, um” my sister stammers, not sure of the significance of this personal information but trained from childhood to politely answer all questions from professionals. “Z is out of the country right now, but when he gets home we will probably use condoms?"

“No. I mean what are you using on the acne,” he replied with a little shake of his head.

Then my sister died of embarrassment.

But it was worth it for that story.