An Interesting Observation By Diana Gabaldon

Remember the funny-post-not-by-me called The Stance? In that post I shared about every woman’s graduation into that wonderful world of  “The Stance.” The act of avoiding, to the point of self-inflicted bodily harm, any and all public toilet seats. It was a hysterical piece, not-by-me, and I enjoyed reading it as much as you did. And, look, I still have the picture!

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Since then, I’ve come across some very freeing information that I would like to share with all of woman-kind. Men, I would ask you to ‘kindly avert your eyes,’ but I think that will only make you more inclined to read on.

Diana Gabaldon, is the author of the Outlander series and a myriad of other stories. She is an amazing author and one of my favorites. A bit of Gabaldon trivia, before she was a writer, Ms. Gabaldon was…are you ready for this…a scientist. Who knew? Having traveled the world and frequented innumerable public restrooms, Diana has something to say.

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But First, Thanksgiving…

Over the years I have noticed more and more that Christmas comes earlier and earlier and for some strange reason Halloween has become a major holiday.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas as much as anyone. I love what it stands for and, more importantly, Who it stands for. I admit, there are no cheery Thanksgiving songs and it may not have cute reindeer decorations, but still, Thanksgiving deserves its day. Without Thanksgiving think of all we’d be missing, the food, family Christmas pictures, food, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, food, Football, and what would be do with Black Friday?

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“But, Mommy I’m Not Allowed…”

By August of 1986, we had three children, Eric, our very obedient boy, Rachel, and Autumn, our quiet one. You’ve already heard about Rachel, she’s the one with the Cotton Socks that brought down the Great Wall. Autumn’s little girl exploits will come; but, this story isn’t about either of our girls. This story is about our firstborn, our calm, obedient one; our son.

And so it begins…

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Once upon a time in a faraway land in the North, otherwise known as New Jersey, there lived a little dark-haired boy named Eric. Now, Eric was not your typical little boy. Eric was a very obedient little boy. In fact, Eric was obedient to a fault, which is what this story is about. If I told Eric to ‘stand in the kitchen and wait’, I was convinced that I could have cleaned the entire house, taken out the garbage, done five loads of laundry and he would still be standing there…in the kitchen…waiting. Little did I know that on this particular day, one command I’d given him would come back to bite me. Hard.

There were once dark days in the world. Days when not everyone had a cellphone in their back pocket and the word text was a noun and not a verb. You may not remember those days, but there are certain ones that are hard to forget. I remember clearly a day in September of 1984 when Eric was almost three, Rachel was seven months old,  and Autumn was still just a wish in my heart. It would be one of “those” days.

It was a blustery,  windy,  cool, and rainy day. I packed Eric and Rachel up in their car seats to go to a wellness appointment at our pediatrician’s office. Once both children were contained, we began our journey to Morristown.

A little history, because I love history. Morristown, is a  very old town in New Jersey. In fact, it played a pivotal role in the Revolutionary War. It was here that George Washington established two winter encampments. And, it is also in Morristown that, seemingly, every old house has a plaque stating ‘George Washington Slept Here‘. So many plaques, in fact, that they had convinced my Grandma Moon that George  Washington must have been a ‘dirty old man.’

By 1984, many of these old houses had been transformed into offices. Since homes don’t usually come with parking lots, parking for offices was on the street. These stately old houses were set back far from the road and though the walk to the door sometimes felt like a small marathon, I liked the pediatrician and didn’t mind.

I’d found a parking spot right in front of the doctor’s office, no small feat on a rainy day! I was so excited, I jumped out of my car, pushed the lock button, and slammed the door. That’s when I realized that my keys and my children, were still inside. I knew I couldn’t panic because that would scare my babies. So, I calmly looked at my boy through the window, smiled, and said, “Eric, I need you to be a big boy and help Mommy.”

Okay, Mommy.”

“Eric, I need you to get out of your car seat and unlock the door for Mommy.”

These words were met with silence and as much a look of consternation as an almost four year old can muster.

His voice said, “Mommy, I’m not allowed to get out of my car seat.” The look on his face said, “You must be crazy!

“Yes, Eric, Mommy knows that; but this time it’s okay because Mommy needs your help. So, please get out of your car seat and unlock the door.”

Silence.

Mommy, I’m not allowed to get out of my car seat.” He was almost angry.

It was then that I realized Eric thought this was some kind of a ‘sick’ test, I was putting him through. What kind of a Mommy was I?

I tried again.

“Eric, honey, you won’t get in trouble if you get out of your car seat this one time and help Mommy.”

At this point, Eric’s little chin was quivering. My poor little boy was upset and to top it all off, Rachel started crying.

Mommy, Rachel is crying.”

“I know, Eric. If you open the door for Mommy, I’ll make her stop, but I need you to climb out of your car seat and unlock the door.”

I’d love to say that Eric obeyed at that point, but it took about five more minutes, that seemed like an eternity; and Rachel’s crying jumping into high gear before he finally, with tear-filled eyes, complied. It took a new superhero figurine to convince Eric that he wasn’t in trouble and that he’d done a good thing. It took me a long time to contemplate what we’d done to make our son so afraid of disobeying. I finally decided that this was our boy…an obedient, little perfectionist, who told on his sisters for the smallest infraction, and was appalled when they disobeyed.

My boy is a 36 year old man today. He’s still obedient, but now to the Cross. He’s less of a perfectionist, because he knows only Jesus is perfect; and he loves his sisters with all of his heart. He is a devoted husband to our sweet, Kylene; and a  wonderful Daddy to two beautiful little boys, Colby and Sawyer. He is all of those things and more, but, overall, he will always be my little boy…and he really is a very big deal.

Happy Birthday, Eric! You are so very loved!

 

 

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“The Stance”…A Funny Story Not By Me

I did not write this story, but I could have. In fact, if you’re a woman or even a girl, you probably could have, too. It’s a story that is an integral part of our gender. One that is instilled in us at an early age.

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No man will understand, no woman can deny…”The Stance.” Enjoy!

“My mother was a fanatic about public bathrooms. When I was a little girl, she’d take me into the stall, teach me to wad up toilet paper and wipe the seat. Then, she’d carefully lay strips of toilet paper to cover the seat. Finally, she’d instruct, “Never, NEVER sit on a public toilet seat!” Then she’d demonstrate “The Stance,” which consisted of balancing over the toilet in a sitting position without actually letting any of your flesh make contact with the toilet seat. By this time, I’d have wet down my leg and we’d have to go home to change my clothes.  Continue reading

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‘Grandkids’ Say the Darndest Things…

Currently, there are seven of them. They come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Some of them are tall, or at least “tall” from our perspective which is somewhat skewed. Some of them are very small and one of them is still ‘cooking’ but, all of them are ours and we love each and every one.

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I am, of course, talking about our grandchildren. One girl, five boys and one, at the moment, to be determined. They are all unique and each has had their own special way of communicating. One ate ‘buzzert’ after dinner. Another did not like ‘waspspsps’, while his brother still eats, ‘gleen glapes’ and wears ‘glubs’ when he gets cold. One of the most creative ate ‘peetspa’ and ‘skrimps’, thought some people needed to go to the ‘psychopeetreeish,’  and considered himself to be an ‘Asiant’. He also coined the phrase, “crotch roach”, but that’s another post.

Of the six that are walking among us, there are two that are in a category all their own, the oldest and next-to-youngest boys. This post is about the next-to-youngest. His name is Gavin. He’s the one making the “Popeye” face in the picture, front and slightly off center, which suits him perfectly.

As fate, if you believe in that, or God, which is much more likely, would have it, Gavin is Rachel’s youngest child. You remember Rachel. If you don’t remember her, you can read about her ‘Rachel Story’ adventures here and here. Now, before you start thinking that I bestowed every mother’s ‘blessing’ on Rachel and told her, “I hope you get a kid just like you,” I didn’t. She and Thomas, her husband, came up with this guy all on their own.

Gavin just turned 7, looks like he’s 5 and is not afraid to say anything to anyone. Like most little kids, he has no filter. He also likes to talk. Incessantly. He talks from the time he opens his eyes in the morning, until he passes out at night. He talks to his toys if nobody else will listen and makes up dialogue – legos, stuffed animals, blocks, trains – he’s not particular. He talks while movies are on and while you’re driving in the car. He talks while he’s watching things on his mother’s phone and while he’s playing video games with his brother. He talks.

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During a recent family walk he told his mother that a bush he saw looked like it had ‘diabetes’. He is completely serious about his observations.

On his first day of school, the teacher gave the kids a bunch of different household items that they could put together to make anything they wanted. Most made little houses, sleds, bunnies, kittens, and puppies. But, not Gavin. Gavin brought a playing card, the Joker, up to his teacher and a styrofoam cup with a million toothpicks jammed into it.

“This is my death dungeon. I need you to cut this guy out so I can put him in the dungeon.” His teacher, startled but immensely entertained, obliged.

His most recent declaration is one of my favorites. While enjoying early morning cuddles with his Mom and older sister, Madyson, he started to tickle his sister.

Madyson asked, “Gavin, why are you tickling me?”

The response, “I’m tickling you because I’m constipated.”

“Gavin, do you know what constipated means?”

“No.”

“Gavin, constipated means you can’t poop!”

“Oh. I thought it meant you were scared.”

We have no idea what he was scared of, why tickling would be his response to fear, nor how he would remember a word like ‘constipated’ but, if it made you smile or brightens your day, the rest is really not that big a deal!

 

 

 

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And the ‘Great’ Wall Came A-Tumbling Down: A Rachel Story

I’ve already introduced you to Rachel. Remember those “Little White Cotton Socks”? If not, you can read about them and their sad ending here. As previously noted, Rach was that child. The one your Mom blesses you with by declaring, “I hope you get a kid just like you!” I did. Rach is it.

Had she been born a Native American, her name would have, undoubtedly, been “She-Who-Will-Not-Be-Ignored.” Since she was born of a Chinese-American father and an Italian-Irish American mother, her name was Rachel. She was a very tiny, very busy little girl with a huge vocabulary and a mouth to match. At 18 months old she could carry a complete conversation with anyone. At 22 months her vocabulary and complete lack of inhibition made her a force to be reckoned with. Though there are many “Rachel Stories” in our family, one in particular is outstanding. It was a plane ride, one that we will never forget, one that she does not remember. She was 22 months old and firmly believed that the entire world was made to converse with her.

It was a business trip. Our family, at the time, consisted of my husband Cliff, our 3 year old son Eric, Rachel, and me. Our youngest child, Autumn, was also there, but we didn’t know it yet. To give you a visual, here is a picture of Eric and Rachel on our trip.

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We had flown as a family from New Jersey to Los Angeles for my husband’s business trip, and  decided to take a side trip to  San Francisco to visit close family friends.

Los Angeles to San Francisco is a predominantly Asian-infused flight and I knew what to expect. The older Chinese would look at my husband, smile at our children, and give me a dour look as though I’d slid through a crack in their Great Wall and kidnapped one of their native sons. They sat us in the front of the plane. Eric was near the window, Cliff and his newspaper were in the center, and I was on the aisle with Rachel perched on my lap.

She greeted each and every passenger.

“Hello Lady! Hello Man!” Rachel knew no strangers. She was having a wonderful time and everyone thought she was adorable. Well, almost everyone. There he was, an older Chinese gentleman. As he passed us, he looked at Eric, he looked at Cliff, he gave me that dour look, and he ignored Rachel’s greeting of “Hello Man!”. Little did he know the horrible mistake he had made.

As the plane took off, Rachel was content. She played with some toys I’d packed for her, then spoke with a young Chinese man seated across the aisle. When that got boring, she stood on my lap and peeked over our seat at the two women seated behind us and talked to them. All was going well and then she saw him.

He was seated on the aisle, four seats back and to the left. She called to him. “Man, Hello Man!” No response. She called a little louder. “Hello Man!” He ignored her. I pulled her down and distracted her with her toys. She played, spoke to the man across from us, visited with the ladies behind us, and called again in her sweetest voice. “M-a-n, H-e-l-l-o M-a-n!” I glanced back. The man had turned his head away and pretended to be looking out his window. I pulled her down again.

Rachel continued her little orbit for awhile, the toys, the man across the aisle, the ladies behind, always  ending with the patient harassment of the older Chinese  gentleman. Finally, she’d had enough. At the end of one of her many orbits, in her loudest voice, she yelled. “MAN, I’m talkin’ to YOU, Man!” And then it happened. The man smiled and waved to her! “Hello Man…” she repeated. And with a big smile on her face, she turned and sat contentedly on my lap and didn’t bother the older Chinese man again. Everyone within earshot, which was most of the plane, had stifled their laughter, but couldn’t hide their smiles. This little sprite of a girl had won. She had broken down cultural barriers because she would not be ignored.

As he left the plane, the old Chinese gentleman stopped at our seats, smiled, and took Rachel’s little hand in his. She smiled back, shook his hand, and greeted him for the last time. “Hello Man.”

It was a very big deal.

 

 

 

 

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It’s All About the Name

Back when I was a teenager and dinosaurs still walked the planet,  I wanted a song named after me. My cousin, two weeks younger than me, was named Donna. She had a beautiful song named after her. I wished for the same thing. My Mom always said, “Be careful what you wish for.”  I didn’t know it then but, Mom was right…

A little background, I am the oldest of four children in my Italian-Irish family. If I was a boy, my Dad wanted me to be named, Rocco, after him; kind of an Italian tradition. Since I was a girl, I was given the name, Roxanne. Close enough, right? But wait, Mom was smart. She knew she didn’t  ever want to name her son, if she had one, Rocco; so she appeased my Dad by naming me Roxanne. Then, when I was a teenager and the threat of any more children being born had passed, she revealed that I was named for a character in the book, Cyrano de Bergerac. She thought the name was close enough to Rocco, to please my Dad, and she liked it too, so everyone was happy, at least until 1978.

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In 1978, I got my “wish”. They named a song after me and it has haunted me…continually…every since. 

Enter the Police and a man named ‘Sting’.

Roxanne. I heard it for the first time when I was 18 years old. I was working as a receptionist/proofreader at a small Data Graphics company. The typists and graphic design people in the back rooms always had a couple of radios on. Suddenly one day, all of the radios were turned up full blast…just for me…so I could hear my name blaring from them. They did this every:single:time that song came on and it came on a lot. As if that wasn’t enough, my co-workers would sing my name to me whenever they needed to talk to me or passed me in the hall. One day when I came back from lunch the inevitable happened. There on my desk was a red light. It was all in fun and I laughed along with them and left it there because, after all, it was just a song. It was popular, but how long could that last?  Soon, it would just be a memory.

Funny thing about memories, sometimes they don’t actually fade from people’s minds.  Sometimes they get kind of…stuck.

It took a very long time before I could hear my name without someone singing it. Years, in fact. Then, just when things started to settle down, in 1997 ‘Sting’ did a remix of the song with ‘Puff Daddy’ and it started all over again. Thankfully, it burned out a little more quickly the second time around; but not before I got a very special phone call. One I will never forget.

It was a solicitor, you know the type. Poor guy sitting there with a long call list saying the same thing over and over to people who don’t want to hear it. This guy must have been bored out of his mind. I answered the phone and heard him say, “May I please speak to…” Evidently, he hadn’t seen my name before he dialed my number. Suddenly, this solicitor began singing my name, but not just my name, he sang me the entire song. I have to admit, I thought this was pretty amusing! When the serenade was over, he ended with,

“Well, I guess you don’t want to hear my spiel after that.”

No, not really. But thank you,  that was very entertaining.

One night, while Cliff was out of town and I was in the shower, I heard my children screaming for me. I jumped out of the shower, wrapped myself up in a towel, and ran down the steps. I was sure someone was either dead or couldn’t find the peanut butter. Nothing could prepare me for what I saw. There he was in my living room, on my television screen, singing that horrible song to my teenage children. Sting. I couldn’t believe it! Why wasn’t this man dead yet? My children were ecstatic. They’d never heard the song before, something for which I’d been very grateful. But now they knew…their mother had a song, a red light song, a song about a prostitute.

I considered writing a letter to ‘Sting’. I thought it would be nice if he paid royalties to all of the Roxanne’s that have had to deal with the aftermath of that song for all of these years  but then, it’s really ‘not that big a deal’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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