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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Some days you just need to see someone else giggle.

Good evening!

Over the weekend I was beyond blue.  Things around here have sort of been weird, and not in the usual "oh hey, Sarah's going to laugh it off" sort of way.  In fact, I was in the middle of writing a very dark, depressing, not at all funny blog when Hubby invited me to walk to Starbucks with him.  (We have a Starbucks about a mile from our house.  Makes for a nice walk.)  I said, "It's cold, it's gray, it's windy.  I'm not walking to Starbucks."  He said he'd walk there and I should meet him in twenty minutes.

Twenty minutes later I dragged myself away from my very unfunny blog and drove to Starbucks.  He'd already ordered my favorite late in the day beverage, a grande vanilla rooibus tea.  We sat at a table in the middle of the place, which was full of people sitting at their laptops, sort of being social in a very isolated way.

In walk two girls, maybe 16 or 17.  They sort of giggling, the type of giggling girls do when they're in a group and doing something they're not comfortable with, but they're in a group so it's not uncomfortable it's funny.  They went to a woman behind me, and put a small cake on the table.  It was the kind of cake that you get at bakeries, sometimes it's brownies, sometimes it's a cake in a foil pan.  They said something about random acts of kindness...it was hard to hear because they were giggling so much.  The lady at the table said thanks, and they left the table, giggling.  

The girls then went to the counter and ordered a drink, giggling the whole time.  By this time Hubby and I were looking around, but obviously the laptop crowd hadn't exactly picked up on the fact that something pretty fun was happening.  The girls took the drink over to another lady at a laptop and said something again about random acts of kindness.  This time the lady explained she couldn't drink anything with caffeine in it.
(Wait, you're at a STARBUCKS!)  So the girls were now confused...in a very vocal, giggling way.

They ran out of the store, giggling the whole way.  Hubby spotted the adult with them, some youth group leader or something.  (Hubby is our church youth group leader, so he knows the look.)  The leader sent those girls back in the place with the drink.  Doggone it, they were going to bestow a beverage on SOMEONE.  

They found another lady, handed her the drink, and, covering their faces with their hands, giggled out of the store.  By that point it was hard for anyone to ignore them, and there was a general murmur of social approval before everyone went back to their laptops.

The lady with the cake, well, come on, she's not going to sit at a Starbucks and eat a cake, she gave it to the Starbucks employees, explaining that she wasn't headed home any time soon, and she didn't want the cake to go to waste.  The lady who wound up with the drink did drink it and seemed pleased.

As for me, I got into my car and on my windshield was a pink sticky note that said, "have a blessed day" and it was written in that loopy, giggly handwriting teen girls tend to have.

I felt a little brighter for a bit, which is saying something given how the past few weeks have been.  The sticky note is on my dashboard and every time I look at it I think of those two girls giggling.

They'll never know how big their random act of kindness was for me.

Friday, April 18, 2014

FIVE FOR FRIDAY! Easter Egg Hunt torture and other memories...

Good morning!

Easter is two days away and I can't help, as I pack the traditional shoe boxes full of goodies from the Naughty Easter Rodent  (oh what, you don't stuff shoe boxes full of goodies from the Naughty Easter Rodent?  Then how do you make sure your children have a year's supply of apple cider and toothpaste?) of my Easters as a child.

No Johnny for you!  It's Easter!
I didn't love Easter much when I was a kid.  Easter Sunday meant a couple things in my world:

5)  I wouldn't get to watch "Emergency" the night before.  

Most Christians know Easter Sunday means SUNRISE SERVICE.  This was especially true at my house.  We'd have to get up at 5 AM.  I've never been a morning person, neither has my brother.  My parents figured they'd put us to bed at 7 PM on Saturday so we wouldn't be so hard to get up at 5 AM.  We all know that didn't work.  But every year I had to miss Johnny Gage.   Taking away "Emergency" was also my mom's favorite, go to punishment for me.  Way to equate punishment with celebration of the Risen Savior, Mom.

4)  Everyone was in a foul mood.
My mother never drank coffee.  And, since it was the seventies, neither did my dad, because my mom wouldn't let him.  Staying up late to hide the eggs and baskets plus getting up early to be at church early plus extra long service because it's EASTER plus having to be nice to more church people during the Easter breakfast plus the basket and Easter egg hunt at our house plus loading into the car to drive from Michigan to Wisconsin to spend the week after Easter with the grandparents equals two parents in ROYALLY FOUL MOODS.  And, throw in two kids who are sleep deprived because no, we didn't go to sleep at 7 Pm and yes, we did stay awake until  my parents finished hiding the Easter Eggs and baskets  (they would yell, "WOULD YOU KIDS GO TO SLEEP?  WE HAVE CHURCH IN THE MORNING!"  My brother was an idiot, he'd yell, "WE AREN'T TIRED!"  That would lead to my mother and father arguing about the drive to Wisconsin.  "They'll just sleep in the car.  Then they'll be up all night when we get there.") and you have four people in WILDLY FOUND MOODS.

3) We always, always, always got in trouble for doing something early.

Again, my mother didn't drink coffee. Maybe she should have.  One of my clearest memories of Easter Sundays always involved getting yelled during a predawn breakfast of cold cereal and milk.  Dad would be showering  (mom and kids bathed the night before) so he was never part of the fracas of breakfast.  Mom would slam breakfast in front of us and snarl something about "eat it quickly, we have to leave."  Inevitable, while sitting at the table, minding our own business...one of us would find an Easter egg.  We'd point it out.  That was enough to set my mother off to some outer limits rage.  ("SO YOU DON'T WANT YOUR EASTER BASKETS?  IS THAT WHAT YOU;RE TELLING?"  Well, no, we're telling you, we see that egg you hide on top of the fridge.)

In my parents' defense, Easter was stressful on them because they were in church choir and Easter is THE DAY for Church Choirs, plus the 8 hour drive to Wisconsin was never fun.  There was always traffic, car trouble, something.  Once we got there it was okay, but getting to my grandparents' house was stressful.  Plus, we had no money, so my folks did the best they could with the whole Easter egg thing.  Our baskets weren't anything special, but I think they took some pride in hiding the eggs, imagining the fun of the Easter Egg hunt after church.  Thing is, they were always, always tired, my parents were.  I get that now, I understand the endless exhaustion that comes with trying to be a good parent.  But really, a cup of coffee might have fixed the situation.  And maybe we wouldn't already be in trouble when we walked into church...it was still dark outside, but not nearly as dark as my mother's expression.  We always managed to break some unwritten rule in church so that by the time we got home, we'd get yelled at or, maybe even a spanking before we did the Easter egg hunt.

2)  Easter Egg hunt torture.

My father is a quiet man.  He's an educated man.  He's a well read man.  He's a calm man.

He's a man with an evil, twisted, demonic sense of humor.

EVIL DEMON EGGS!
Those Easter Egg hunts at my house were sometimes torture dressed up in Sunday best.  Oh we'd have to keep our Sunday outfits on while crawling through the house looking for eggs.  My father would follow us with a checklist.  (In retrospect, this was not a bad idea.)  He'd say, "You have 14 more to find."  The rule was we weren't allowed to "find" the basket until we found all the eggs.  The house was only 900 square feet, and we knew there weren't eggs in the bedrooms.  You'd think two kids would figure it out in ten minutes.  Every year, however, we'd find all but one or two of the eggs in the first half hour. What followed next was an hour of whining, crying, destruction, and yelling.  My father would give no hints about the last eggs.  My mother, at this point, was lying on the couch trying to catch a nap.  My brother and I, sleep deprived and on edge, and wanting to get at the candy in the baskets we'd found immediately, would descend into tears begging him to tell us where the last egg was.  

He'd just grin and say, "You have one more to find."

"If I have to get up from this couch and find that egg"  my mother would shriek from the couch, "NO ONE is getting their basket."

That would set us to wailing even harder.  We'd tear through the house, banging doors, upending laundry baskets.  One year I dumped the flour and sugar cans on the floor.  That did NOT go over well.

1)  The one thing that made it all awesome...Tips and Butts.

Once we'd found all the eggs and had stuffed as many jelly beans and peeps into our mouths as we could, we'd get in the car and head to Wisconsin.  Easter dinner at my grandmother's house was always fun. My dad's side of the family didn't get together very often, so when they did, they shared stories and everyone laughed loudly.  We kids were left to our own devices so it was a blissful week of not getting yelled at because the adults were busy laughing.  

Easter dinner meant the long table in the dining room was full of food and in the middle there would be two huge platters of decorated eggs.  My grandmother LOVES decorated eggs. She loved making them.  But the thing about hard boiled eggs is that they do tend to go bad after a while.  So, what to do with these platters of decorated eggs that won't involve wasting food?

Tips and Butts!

Here's how you play:  Each person at the table gets an egg.  Challenge someone.  Decide if you want to battle the tip end of the egg or the butt end of the egg.  Decide who is going to be the hitter or the hittee  (we say "up or down")  the person who is "up" is the hitter, and he hits the "down" egg.  The egg that cracks is the loser.  The same pair then does the other side of the egg with the "down" person from the previous challenge being the "up" person.  Inevitably there will be one egg that survives battles and is the champion of the day.  You can play until all the eggs are cracked.  My uncle Bob didn't take part in the game.  He peeled the eggs and happily ate his fill topping egg after egg with salt and pepper.  Meanwhile, battles would rage around the table as relatives gleefully yell "I've got a butt!"  indicating the butt end of their egg is still unbroken.

It might seem like a dumb game to play, but we've passed it on to our kids, with a feel twists.  While my grandmother was never this twisted, we have, some years, included an uncooked egg in the tips and butts game.  This makes for a jolly mess and not every home owner loves cleaning raw egg off the floor, so be careful with that one.


What's the point of all this?  We parents try hard to make memories for our kids...not all of them are great, obviously.  But if you can end a holiday so fraught with stress on a high note with something as stupid as cracking eggs, then that holiday will, one day, become the favorite holiday.  I know it doesn't seem possible, but it is.

Easter is, for so many reasons, my very favorite day of the year.


 Whether  you celebrate the secular... or the religious, have a wonderful Easter.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Looking for something fun and a little twisted to share with your kids this Easter?

Good early morning all!

Another holiday where small children
pee on mall workers clad in
overheated costumes.
For Christians this is Holy Week, which will culminate with Easter.  Easter is fast becoming like Christmas with many secular traditions adding to the fun of a holy festival.  The biggest is The Easter Bunny. 

Growing up, my parents had Easter Bunnies as part of the holiday decor.  We hid Easter eggs  (I'll rant about that later this week) and had baskets of candy (that had to last us until Halloween.)  My parents were pretty traditional...and therefore never really explained why there was an Easter Bunny.  It just was.

Our children were a bit more inquisitive, as they should be.  "Why is there an Easter Bunny?"  "What is the Easter Bunny's purpose?"  "Did the Easter Bunny role away the stone and get Jesus out of the tomb?"

Faced with these heavy doctrinal questions, I did what any mother with a twisted sense of drama would do:  I created an alternate story for the Easter Bunny.

In our house, it's not the Easter Bunny.  It's the Naughty Easter Rodent.  He a rabbit who somehow manages to get into the house in the wee hours of the night.  The Naughty Easter Rodent takes all the eggs we spent hours the day before boiling and coloring and he hides them.  This is very annoying to the parents because we have to be in church, singing with the choir, by 6:30 in the morning.  The Naughty Easter Rodent will, however, as a way of making peace for his naughtiness, put a small gift, usually some piece of clothing or new shoes, by the child's door in the morning.  These are clothes the child is to wear to church.  When we get home from church, we have to search the house for the eggs and at the end, the Naughty Easter Rodent also hides baskets full of small gifts and candy.

Then we sit down to a ham dinner.  After dinner we open the cellophane on the packages of Peeps so they can age and be stiff and crunchy enough to eat in about June.  (Oh you eat your Peeps fresh?  HAH!  We've got a package from two years ago sitting there, aging.  This year we have well aged Peeps on the menu!)

I'm not saying this works for everyone, and when the kids were small they were a little nervous about the Naughty Easter Rodent wandering around the house...well, they were until my daughter found her dream shoes and my son got that Pokemon shirt he wanted.

And no one in my house has ever asked me why there's an Easter Bunny.  So...win for me!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Farewell, John Pinette: YOU GO NOW!

Good afternoon!

Yesterday, while most people were mourning the loss of the great Mickey Rooney, another star fell up to heaven:  John Pinette.

On AOL he was listed as "Seinfeld actor."  I had to be honest, I didn't even know John was in Seinfeld.  Turns out, he was in the final episode.  And, sadly, most in this world will remember him as the fat guy in the last episode of Seinfeld.

But to his legions of fans, John Pinette was a stand up comic genius.  He was a large, baby faced wonder who made us laugh until we tore a muscle. His love of food came as a surprise to no one, John was a large fellow and he didn't shy away from it.  Salad was anathema to him, a big theme in his "I'm STARVIN'" tour.  

John made it okay for fluffy people to find humor in him and in themselves.  And he made it okay for non-fluffies to laugh as well. His story telling was masterful, and we knew exactly what he was talking about because most of us had been there.  (Who, among us fluffies, likes the idea of going down a water slide in our swim suits?)

For me, John pointed out a part of life that resonated with me:  Standing in line.  He could work himself and his audience into a frenzy talking about the stupid things people do when they are ahead of us in line. His furious shriek, "GET OUT OF THE LINE!" echoes in my head every day.  
Very well said.


John had other, classic, catchphrases I'm sure we've all heard:  "I say, NAY NAY!" is one of the best and it works when someone suggests something stupid.  Click on the video to the left to check out one of his best specials. His moments talking about working out with a trainer might be the best work any comedian has ever done.

The first time I saw John on TV, however, was when the comedy channel aired his uber famous bit about eating at a Chinese buffet.  For the last twenty years my husband and I will find reasons to mimic his high pitched faux Chinese accent and yell "YOU GO NOW!" at each other. Check out the video below, recorded years ago, before he'd started dieting.
John was working on his health in recent years.  The last special I saw him do he'd lost quite a bit of weight and was actually talking about exercise as something he did on a regular basis.  So it was really sad to learn he'd passed away on Saturday, probably from liver and heart disease.  

He was very much an inspiration to me because he made the small things about being big funny.  I loved him, and I will miss him.    I want this post to be a salute to one of the very best, very funniest men to ever walk this earth.  Farewell, John. you were gone too soon, but I will never stand in line without thinking about you yelling at the people in front.

We now know what Hubby does NOT have in his pants.

Good morning! So last weekend Hubby and I joined my parents, brother, and my brother's kids on a trek to Kentucky to see the Crea...