Just a Ukulele, Please

Sometimes a small, silly suggestion makes perfect sense down the road.  Here is a tale of goofy present with fun results.

For Christmas 2010, I didn’t want anything.  Nada.  Zip, zero, nothing.  Many asked.  Everyone got the same answer.  Nothing.  It was one of those years.

Lots o' Legos.

Once I had children, the holidays changed.  It was all about what I could find for them, what Santa would bring, what batteries I needed to buy to make sure their toys lit up, played music and had motion.  As my boys have gotten a little older, holiday shopping turned into finding the perfect Lego sets and Nintendo DS games.  Christmas wasn’t about me anymore, and that was perfectly OK with me.

Unfortunately, my personal philosophy about the holidays didn’t stop everyone from asking what I wanted for Christmas.  Some members in my family were not to the point where they understood how one could not even care less about what they are getting for the highly over-commercialized holiday.  The Captain, my husband, was frustrated because usually every year I give him an idea of something that I would like him to buy for me – i.e. a print-out with the exact item, store, size and price.  I kept telling him that I needed nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch.  He wouldn’t let up.  So, after being exhausted from being asked, I told him, “Just a ukulele, please.”

He thought I was kidding.  Maybe because a ukulele is an uncommon thing for someone like me who has absolutely no musical talent whatsoever.  For some reason, at his staff holiday party, it became the story of the night.  His principal walked me around the room to retell the story about what I wanted for Christmas.  I tried to explain to her it wasn’t really much of a funny story at all, I just told my husband to get me a ukulele.  She thought this was hilarious.

On Christmas morning, after the boys tore into their gifts, The Captain surprised me with a big box.  I opened it, and voila, there was a real, genuine, no-bones-about-it ukulele.  I was surprisingly ecstatic with the gift.  I couldn’t believe he actually got me a uke.  Hilarious – yes!  A proud ukulele owner am I!

Since then, I have written a few songs for the ukulele.  Most are in reference to what my little dudes are up to.  Mind you, I have no idea how to play the thing, besides strumming randomly, so the songs don’t really count.  But, it turns out, that creating a silly song on the uke is very motivating (and somewhat embarrassing) for two boys.  Phoebe from Friends knew it all along!  Here are a few of the titles to further explain my point:

Sleepover, Yeah, I Better Sleep

Don’t Eat Your Boogers ‘Cause It’s Gross

The Homework Blues

Put the Seat Down or Mommy May Drown

Nine-Year-Old Crankie Pants

Little Brothers Sure Make Me Fart

Don’t Tell Daddy

Not Gonna Buy It

and last, but not least,

Livin’ on Chicken Nuggets and Chips.

A few weeks ago, I ran into my husband’s principal.  She introduced me to her friend as “the one who asked for a ukulele last year for Christmas and writes silly songs for it.”  I chuckled and asked her why she even thought of the ukulele.  She replied, “I think it is so funny, cool and unique.”  Mmmm.   Maybe next year I will ask for an oboe.

The Uke of 2010. A Holiday Hitmaster.

Say Cheese

I love taking pictures.  I have always loved it.  I am not a professional by any means, but it is a little hobby of mine.

My dad liked to take pictures.  He had a Vivitar SLR camera that he took to Disney World when I was nine.  I remember being so interested in that camera – the weight of it, the feeling of looking through the viewfinder, and the connection we had because I admired the camera so much.

When I was in junior high, my dad got me this great little camera that took a disc instead of a film roll.  It was a lot like the little Canon Digital Elph point and shoot cameras of today.  It fit perfectly in a back pack and was fun to use!  Plus, if you looked really closely at the disk film, it looked like little, itty bitty photo slides.  Coolness for a very gawky time of life.

In high school, I got another camera.  It was a Kodak film camera – the real film, not a disk, and I remember settling into my dark closet and putting the film it in so I didn’t expose any of it (because sometimes I could get more than 24 pics on a roll if I did that – score!)   I was on the staff of the school paper and by my junior year, when I moved to Ohio, I got a Canon Rebel SLR for me.  Unfortunately, there was not a school paper at my new school, but I loved that camera.

When I got to college, my major was journalism with a minor in English literature and another minor in (drum roll here) photojournalism.  The good thing was that I got two photography classes in.  Bad thing was we had to use slides.  Right around that time, and before the end of my freshman year, the university removed the photojournalism option for a college minor.  If one wanted the photojournalism degree, it had to be their major in the school of the arts. So back to taking pictures for fun.

One of my favorite pictures I have ever taken. Ever. It was also pouring down rain. She is beautiful, isn’t she?

Which leads me to today.  I like taking pictures. I like cameras.  I still have my original Canon SLR, but I also have two Canon Rebel DSLRs  and a Canon Digital Elph (for my pocket).  I also am into digital video editing, and teach Broadcast journalism at school along with updating the district’s webpage. Whew.

In my post about being a digital hoarder, I mentioned I have over 25,000 pics in my iPhoto.  My kids are the subjects in most, and are never surprised when the camera comes out and I chime, “Say cheese!”  They now roll their eyes at me, but smile all the same.

But I want to get better at taking pictures so this past summer and fall, I took two digital photography courses with DSLRs.  They were really informative and sparked a new level in taking pics for me.  It was time for me to do something for me, which can be very hard sometimes for moms to separate ourselves from our little ones.  I knew it was time to rediscover what I liked about photography so long ago – and find out how to push myself to taking better pictures – manually instead of relying on auto.

iPhone pic of Squishy drawing.

On my blog, I try and take most of the pictures I post with my articles.  I am somewhat of a freakish purist.  However, my neighbor two doors down wasn’t home last night so I had to use Disney pictures of the witch from Snow White instead.  Just kidding.  Kind of… I do find that it is so easy to take shots with my iPhone on Hipstamatic (which I love).  I also adore the fact the iPhone pictures float through “the cloud” and land on my laptop in iPhoto – ready for my blog.  Hooray!  Photos made easy!

I know I should use pictures I take with my DSLR, but sometimes I am just a little lazy.  There are days when I just don’t feel like uploading them, editing them if needed and all of that hoorah.  Maybe next week.

But, hey, it is pretty outside so I am going to call it a day and run and take some pictures of my dudes with my real camera for a change.

Say cheese!

Yes, I am the Tooth Fairy

Spoiler alert:  If you still believe in the tooth fairy, stop reading now.  This may come as a shock to you, and I want you to be OK and not to worry your pretty little head about anything.   Go back, visit Freshly Pressed and wait for the Easter Bunny and Santa.  And remember to brush your teeth because the Tooth Fairy really appreciates it. 😉

This is me! Ready for anything to come my way - involving teeth!

Now, let’s begin.  I am the Tooth Fairy.  I provide the almighty cash when teeth are lost in my home.  I collect the teeth and put them in a special “place” in my secret container located in my bathroom.  I could make a glorious necklace of teeth shed from the children, but I am not creepy so I won’t.

I am the Tooth Fairy.  I have made stealth missions under pillows to find the tooth in the porcelain holder.  I plan my missions with ease and expertise.  I begin planning as soon as the tooth becomes visibly loose.  I show many ways the tooth can be wiggled, prodded, twisted and pulled.  After all, the goal is to lose the tooth.  I patiently wait for the tooth to be placed under the pillow.  Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible has nothing on me.  I am ready.  Bring one the tooth!

I am the Tooth Fairy.  I have made mistakes.  Once, hunting for a particularly difficult tooth under a pillow in a bed surrounded by over fifty stuffed animals, I woke up the sleeping darling.  He looked at me and asked if it was morning yet.  I told him no, that I heard him coughing and I was checking on him.  The Tooth Fairy must think quickly on her feet.  Another disaster was when the sleeping angel woke up and asked me why I had the tooth holder in my hands.  I said I was checking to see if the Tooth Fairy had visited because I knew I would not be home to see if she came.  This answer was acceptable, and the little man drifted back to sleep.  As the Tooth Fairy, I am ready for anything.

I am the Tooth Fairy.  For some reason, my sidekick, The Captain, conveniently never has any cash on the precious Tooth Fairy visits.  “With great power, comes great responsibility.”  Being the Tooth Fairy carries a high threshold of organization and duty, and, obviously, The Captain cannot handle the extreme elements of the task.  For some unknown reason, he does not worry if the Tooth Fairy forgets.  This has happened on his watch and, in Tooth Fairy land, is unacceptable. On my watch it won’t ever occur again.  In retrospect, The Captain makes an awful Tooth Fairy.  He is fired from ever being the Tooth Fairy again.  He may have to do double duty as Santa next year.

I am the Tooth Fairy.  It is a hard job.  It is demanding, does not come with rewards or benefits.  But there is one thing it does – it keeps the belief alive.  So, I will stay the faithful Tooth Fairy until my services are no longer required.

After all, I am the Tooth Fairy.

A happy customer.

The Thinks You Can Think

This past weekend, The Captain and both of my dudes wrapped up a three-weekend run of the musical Seussical at our community theater.  In a word, it was “adorable.”  I really wanted to be clever and put a Seuss word in there, but, alas, none come to me.  Yet…

“I meant what I said, and I said what I meant. An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent.”  The musical is actually the story of Horton Hears a Who and Horton Hatches the Egg.  There are also references to The Lorax, The Grinch, Oh, The Places You’ll Go, The Cat in the Hat and Green Eggs and Ham.  The Cat is the “narrator” of the musical, and the characters are all the Seuss favorites.  In a word, it was “magical.”

Both of my dudes are in this photo.

My little guys were Whos.  They had to wear stuffed suits and wild wigs.  They were adorable.

String Bean had to hold the roast beast so the Grinch could carve it.  His face was priceless!  In a word, it was “precious.”

The Captain played one of the three monkeys who torment Horton.  His song was called, “Monkey Around” and the main lyric was, “You wanna monkey, monkey around?!”  Is it bad that I completely burst out laughing during this song?  Well, I did.  Thank goodness I was sitting by one of my friends, who also was laughing.  Not sure why this song would be included – adult humor?

A monkey…I am so proud.

It was pretty difficult keeping a straight face while my husband, in orange and white striped bib overalls, orange Chuck Taylor’s and an orange beanie is bouncing around the stage, like a monkey, asking the audience to “monkey around” with him.  So wrong on so many levels.  In a word, it was “goofy.”

“Don’t give up! I believe in you all. A person’s a person, no matter how small!”  The musical itself carries this message throughout, and it is one to always remember.  I don’t know how the good Dr. Seuss did it – but he made his work immortal. Move over vampires, read some Seuss.

I had the pleasure of getting to take pictures for the show, and that was a blast, but very challenging, too!  I hope I captured the heart of the show.  In a word, it was “memorable.”

So, here are some of my favorite “magical, precious, goofy and memorable” Seussisms:

“Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!”

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

“From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere!”

“I know it is wet and the sun is not sunny, but we can have lots of good fun that is funny.”

“Be who you are and say what you feel,
because those who mind don’t matter,
and those who matter don’t mind”

“Today is your day, your mountain is waiting. So get on your way.”

In a word, Seuss is “Seusstacular.”  And a happy belated birthday to Dr. Seuss.

Oh, the thinks you can think!

The Spanish Inquisition

As a high school teacher, sometimes the littlest of instances force a reflection on my own less-than-stellar moments as a student and helps me get through some less-than-stellar days on the education front.

So a confession: There were times when I did not behave as a good student.

Spanish class was one of those times.

I was horrible in Spanish class.  From the day I stood in the door of the classroom, to the day I vowed never to take another course from that teacher, I was just an absolutely plain awful student.

Let me back up and explain that this was a difficult time for me.  My dad’s career transferred us from New Jersey to Ohio.  I was a junior in high school, moving away from all of my friends, my networks, my favorite mall (this is important to a teenager) to a town I didn’t understand.  I went from being a Fighting Eagle to a Fighting Quaker (yes, frighteningly enough, this is a real mascot – an oxymoron in itself).  Did I mention that I was a junior?  In high school?

As a new student, I got the thrill of being escorted around the building by the wind-pant wearing, whistle-swinging P.E. teacher.  He led me through the building with an editorial about many different things: who not to hang out with, what not to eat in the cafeteria and where not to sit at the stadium.  He also introduced me to all of my teachers – as they were in the middle of teaching their first period classes.  It was quite embarrassing, if I do say so myself.

He directed me into the Spanish classroom, and I stopped dead in my tracks.  The class was being taught by the wife in The Shining with a pyramid haircut.  I had a flash to being snowed in the high school and this teacher screaming as her students shouted “Red Rum, Red Rum!”  I could not step any further into the door.  This did not bode well for the gym teacher who proceeded to push me as if I was on the defensive line through the doorway.

Mrs. S. looked at me inquisitively, introduced herself and was very nice that day.  It was the first and last time that would happen.

I was awful in her class.  First, I was placed in the back of the room.  This is not a good place for me – especially in a class that was Greek to me, oops, I mean Spanish.  I would try listening to her, I really would, but I couldn’t get the vision of her fighting off Jack Nicholson’s character out of my mind.  The same actress also starred in Popeye – as Olive Oil – so it was Shining or Olive Oil, all day, every day.  Also, Mrs. S. talked like she was eating her face.  It was very disturbing.

After awhile, I began to read in class.  Novels, not Spanish.  This is when Mrs. S. caught on to my less-than-stellar performance as a student.  She began taking away the precious novels I would be reading in class.  I switched to magazines.  She figured that out, too.  Darn.

My mom, Crazy Pat, was concerned when Mrs. S. called her in for a conference.  I told my mom that Mrs. S. was mean and that she reminded me of a horror movie actress.  I also told my mom that Mrs. S. was so boring and she always took my things away.  Did I mention I was awful?

Crazy Pat went in for the conference.  She came home, spread out 12 novels and 16 magazines on the kitchen table.  She told me she believed that I was not acting appropriately, and there was a personality conflict because of it.  She said I needed to apologize the Mrs. S. and start paying attention.

I started paying attention.  But I never apologized.

Driving home from school yesterday, I saw my Spanish teacher walking her dog.  She still had the pyramid haircut.  She still had the inquisitive look on her face.  She still looked exactly like the actress in The Shining.

I felt badly for my behavior as a 16-year-old.  To Mrs. S., I am truly sorry for my poor behavior.  The old saying is true: what comes around goes around.  And it has come full circle now that I am a teacher.  Oh, and one more thing, thanks for giving my novels and magazines to my mom.   I really appreciated it.  Oh, and, sorry for being just plain awful.  OK?  Thanks.

Welcome to Spanish.

Life is Laughter and Rediscovering Erma Bombeck

My mom, Crazy Pat, has always really been into the Erma Bombeck books. She would buy the hardbacks, read them cover to cover, and then let me read them.  The two I most vividly remember are Family – The Ties That Bind…And Gag! and If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits?  It was 1987, and both of these books were keepers.

In 1987, I was 15.  It was a strange year.  I was a sophomore in high school in New Jersey. I had frizzy hair, the wrong clothes, braces and even a bionator – which is orthodontist speak for torture device – see my post on Teen Gooberville.  I worked at a doughnut shop in the mall where I had to wear a t-shirt that said “A Hole Like No Other.”  I. am. not. kidding.  (This shirt will have to be a topic for an entire other post).  😉

Every evening, no matter what, my mom could be found snuggled in on the sofa (or couch – whatever you want to call it depending on the region where you reside) reading Erma and laughing hysterically.  I had to read that book!

Looking back, after getting married, having children and dealing with progressive-like family dinners during any holiday, I decided that I needed to look at these books again, with a new perspective.

Here are some things I have rediscovered through Erma (all of her famous quips are in quotes):

Don’t deny yourself the little things.  “Just think of all those women on the Titanic who said, ‘No thank you’ to desert that night. And for what?!”

There are no instruction manuals on how to being a good parent.  “When a child is locked in the bathroom with water running and he says he’s doing nothing but the dog is barking, call 911. ”

Pets are important members of a family.  “Despite all the demands pets put on you, in the pecking order of a family, they are right near the top.” and “A dog will sit with you through the worst television show…and never once will he try to change the channel.”

Life may hand you lemons, and that is just life.  “There is a thin line that separates laughter and pain, comedy and tragedy, humor and hurt.”

A clean house is for the birds.  “Housework can kill you if done right.” and “Housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop-offs at tedium and counter productivity.” and “Housework, if it is done properly, can cause brain damage.”

Be a good listener.  “I love my mother for all the times she said absolutely nothing…Thinking back on it all, it must have been the most difficult part of mothering she ever had to do: knowing the outcome, yet feeling she had no right to keep me from charting my own path. I thank her for all her virtues, but mostly for never once having said, “I told you so.”

Having children can make one feel like a crazy psycho at times.  “Insanity is hereditary. You can catch it from your kids.”

Family is important.  “Families aren’t easy to join. They’re like an exclusive country club where membership makes impossible demands and the dues for an outsider are exorbitant.”

Justifying my kitchen prowess (or not so much of one).  “Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes.”

Recycle, reduce, reuse.  “I found a letter to my sister the other day that I had forgotten to mail. It just needed a little updating to send. After “The baby is…..” I crossed out “toilet trained” and wrote in “graduating from high school this month.”

Laughter is highly important.  “When humor goes, there goes civilization.” and “If you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.”  Amen, sister.

I wonder what Erma would think of blogging today.  Would she thoroughly enjoy the sharing of silly stories, life lessons and bittersweet sentiments?  Would she laugh at my doughnut shop uniform?  I think she would be pleased with this paradise of connecting through technology.  Thanks, Erma, for being the first to really write with flair, laughter and humbleness.  Glad I rediscovered you.

The original Crazy Pat hardbacks circa 1985 and 1987.

The Importance of Workout Buddies

BC, Before Children, I had a great workout buddy.  Her name was Mary Lynn aka Wild Blond.  She and I would walk daily in the spring, summer and fall, and workout indoors during the winter.  She was one who would be sitting in my driveway waiting for me so I couldn’t use any excuses not to go.  She would talk non-stop and sometimes we would even end the workout at the local pub for a beer, a light one of course.  She was the best workout buddy, and I was in the best shape of my life since graduating from high school.

When I met The Captain, he and I would workout together.  He liked going to the gym and on the treadmill.  When I would get him to walk outside with me, he insisted on bringing my hulking golden retriever, who enjoyed sitting periodically on the journey.  This did not make for a real walk, more of a start/stop, pull the dog sort of expedition.  Not quite the motivation of having Wild Blond honking in my driveway.

BC it was easy to find time to workout.  AC, After Children, not so much!

BC it was fun to go to new classes.  AC I am too tired.

BC I was vain and searching for a husband to have children with.  AC, well, yeah.

Sadly, I have not had a workout buddy since my youngest, Squishy, was born.  That was seven years ago.  I think I am in desperate need to get a workout buddy, but I don’t know where to find one because most of my friends have kids, activities and busy lives, too.

I have a friend who teaches workout classes.  She is a workout guru.  Recently, as in two summers ago, I attempted to have her as my workout buddy.  It didn’t go so well.  Instead of Wild Blond honking in the driveway, my workout goals were reduced to guilt.  I was afraid of not doing what I was supposed to do.  It was as if all of the family obligations were overtaking me, and I felt bad about not being able to make a good effort at the gym.  So, I ended the workout buddy relationship, and we are better friends today without it.

The Captain and I were chatting in the kitchen and I was explaining my workout buddy woes.  I asked him to teach me how to run.  I have this fantasy of doing the Princess Half Marathon at Disney, mainly because I want a bag of goodies, cute t-shirt, character autographs and a crown.  Disney, ah.

“I want to learn how to run.  You are a runner, can you teach me?”

“There is no way to teach someone to run,” The Captain replied, already appearing as if this conversation was one he wished to avoid.

“You run.  Who taught you to run?”  I wasn’t letting this go.  No way.

“I am not sure why we are even talking about this.  You have had a gym membership for three years and you have only gone three times.  Maybe you should just go to the gym,” he said, and then picked something invisible off of the floor.

My eyes glazed over, red as the gates of Hell.  My lips quivered, like the impact of a tornado.  My body shook, with the strength of a nuclear bomb.  The wrath was coming.

“Wow.  Really?  When am I going to pencil that in between working, your rehearsals, running kids, helping with their homework, grading papers?”

“You forgot about sitting at your computer for hours,” he mumbled as he went to take out the garbage.  Exit The Captain.  Obviously this was the end of the discussion.

Grrr.  So, I am now reevaluating.  To The Captain’s sheer excitement, I dragged him to the running store and, with his superior running guidance, bought new running shoes.  Now, I just need to find some poor sap who wants to be my workout buddy and make it happen.  Maybe I will increase my gym attendance to double digits.  Maybe…

Anyone want to be my oh-so important workout buddy?  Honking in the driveway is a must.

My new kicks. Time to get going!

The Queen Bee

Around Christmas, I posted that I am the worst gift giver ever.  This did not magically change with the dropping of the 2012 ball in Times Square. Valentine’s Day just further proved how much I suck at gift giving.

Usually, on VD day, The Captain will run out that afternoon and get me a gift.  It will be a spur of the moment thing and I end up laughing at how much thought didn’t go into it.

Bee the Queen.

Bee the Queen.

This year he raised the bar.  He went out the day before Valentine’s Day with both boys and picked out a Pandora charm for me.  It was the Queen Bee, and it was adorable.  I ordered him a jacket on my go-to Amazon.com, but it didn’t arrive in time.  Who was the bad Valentine this year?  Yeah, two thumbs point to this girl.

The entire evening, The Captain wouldn’t stop gloating over his VD victory.  He even went so far to text some of our closest friends and gloat over his ultimate win.  He was so proud of his purchase and even more pleased that he out witted and out gifted me.  Score one for The Captain.

Since my night was going so well already, I decided to approach the subject of why he picked the queen bee charm for me.  Here goes:

“I love this.  Why did you choose it?” I asked as innocently as a church mouse.

“Because I knew you liked that one,” he said, obviously not interested in discussing the reason behind the purchase any further.

“There isn’t another deeper meaning of this Pandora charm?” I pressed.

“Maybe because everyone serves you.  That could be a reason,” he said without hesitating.

“What does that mean exactly?” or translated:  What the (insert expletive here) does that mean?

“Do we have to go through this right now?  Really?”  he sighed, visibly ready to cease the entire thread of the conversation.

“I don’t know.  No… I guess.”  I mumbled.

“Let’s not.  Here is some more wine,” he refilled my glass, “and now I am going to text B. and let her know all about how your gift to me isn’t here.”

“Great.  Thanks soooo much,” I replied sarcastically.

And so it goes.

The more I think about the queen bee charm, the more I am laughing about it.  Ten years and six months ago, when we said “I do,” he knew what he was getting into.  He knew he would be the chef at our home, he knew his organizational and banking skills would be utilized to the fullest and he knew his OCD cleaning would come in handy.  He also knew that I was and am the classic non-domestic goddess, and that is OK most of the time.  I guess I am literally the queen bee, but don’t tell him I said that!

Now, if only he would refill my glass again, I would be a super queen bee.  Buzz.

May the Force Be Mine

During college, my mom sent me a Valentine’ Day card.  It read:

Happy Alentine’s Ay.

On the inside, it read:

Try and keep the VD out of it.

She wrote on the card saying that it was a “knee slapper” and a “hoot” and I should show it to my friends so they could get a good laugh.  I didn’t show it around.  In fact, I hid it immediately in the bottom drawer of my desk (I have trouble throwing cards away – don’t ask).

Strangely, I was thinking of this card as I was helping String Bean decorate his Valentine’s card box for school.  We were putting letter stickers on it, writing “May the Force be with you” and spicing it up with Lego Star Wars stickers.

May the Force...

“Mom, you rock at this.  Did they have Valentine’s Day during your childhood?”  String Bean asked.  He likes the word childhood when it comes to any of The Captain’s or my stories about our youth, which String Bean seems to think was during the ice ages or BN (before Nintendo).

“We did have Valentine’s Day.  We decorated boxes with construction paper and paper doilies.”

“What are paper doilies?” he innocently asked.

“It is just like a very intricate paper snowflake-looking thing,” I stated knowing the next question would be about the word intricate.

“Is it as intricate as my Star Wars box?” he asked, skeptically.

“Not exactly. Your box is much cooler.”

Happy Alentine’s Ay to all.  May the Force, not VD, be with you.

VD in reverse is DV or Darth Vader. Interesting...

Teen Gooberville. Population Me.

In sixth grade, my mom decided it would be a good time for a family photo at Olan Mills.  She dressed us all in our Sunday best and attempted a new hair do on me.  Let me say this: my mom has short, naturally curly hair that she never uses anything more than a hair pick on it.  She never uses a curling iron, flat-iron or hot rollers.  But on this fateful day, she decided that my hair needed some “body” and “lift” and plugged in her 1965 set of hot rollers.  One of them was very stubborn.  It happened to be in the center of my head by the crown if you will.  She could not get it out.  She tried everything.  Even peanut butter because she read somewhere that could get gum out of dog hair.  Hmmm.  Gum and hot rollers.  I never knew they were in the same category.  I went to Olan Mills with a hot roller stuck smack on the top of my head.  They positioned my brother just so it would not show in the pictures.  The show must go on, my mother said.  Nice.

In seventh grade, my mom bought me a faux fur coat.  It was my new school coat and she really thought it was very stylish for a new, gawky thirteen-year-old.  It was hot pink.  It was hideous. I wore it with my head hanging down.  I tried to wear sunglasses with it.  Did I mention that I rode my bike to school so I got the thrill of being honked at on my ride home?  Nah.  I probably didn’t mention that.  Unfortunately, no one threw any red paint on my coat thus making it unwearable.  I have never forgiven her for this.  Ever.

Yes. This is it. Someone is selling it on Etsy. Good luck with that.

In eighth grade, my mom took me to the orthodontist.  To add insult to my already brace-faced injury, he put me in this fun gadget called a bionator. “This will make more room in your mouth, and it really isn’t that bad,” he said to me.  It is reminiscent of a torture device circa WWII.  A bionator was hastily cemented (yes, really) to the teeth in the top of the mouth and has a special, little key for turning and opening it.  My mom was to insert the key and turn it each week.  On the first “turn of the screw” she accidentally released the key and it went down my throat.  It was never found.  Maybe it was taken out with my gall bladder last year.  Who knows.  This torture gadget caused my speech to sound a little garbled and caused me to spit on people as I spoke to them.  I am sure this is why I had a massive bankroll of friends in eighth grade and why only two of them showed up at my slumber party.  Rock on.

In ninth grade, my mom and the very wise and evil orthodontist decided that the bionator was not working. His suggestion?  Pulling two teeth on the top and two on the bottom and pulling them all together with the already in place braces.  I was the only 14-year-old that could use not one, but two straws without opening my mouth. The orthodontist tried to make me feel better by saying he would wait until next month to put the rubber bands in.  Thanks, dude.  Dating score for me as a freshman?  Zero (unless you could the rubber bands – I mean, they were truly sexy.)

In tenth grade, my mom took me to this amazing, huge and completely confusing outlet mall.  We shopped all day.  At one point, she called me over to look at a dress.  She was holding onto the clothing rack and it turned, hitting me directly in the eye.  I sported a black eye at school for the next few days.  No one would believe me when I said that shopping with my mother is really quite dangerous. They must have forgotten about the obnoxiously bright pink fake fur coat.