Life Is So Much Better With Your Friends

The 1980’s were such an incredibly colorful and fun time to grow up in. We all had big hair that made us appear three inches taller than we actually were because it was so teased and poofed up like a rooster crown. Our clothes were made up of big, baggy neon shirts with low hanging belts, printed or acid washed jeans, colorful pumps with lace socks, and fingerless lace gloves a la Madonna. Jewelry consisted of earrings that each weighed the equivalent to a TV remote control, Swatch watches, and hundreds of jelly bracelets in every color imaginable that went halfway up our arms. And don’t even get me started on rabbit fur jackets. I wanted one so bad but I got a faux fur jacket instead. Do you know the difference between a real rabbit fur jacket and a fake one? One feels soft and snuggly while the other feels like you took the built up hair out of your hairbrush and made it into a coat. Definitely not the same. (But then I found out how rabbit fur jackets were made and I was glad I had a faux one.)

AND GOOD GRIEF – THE MAKEUP! We would wear purple or blue eye shadow and then line our eyes with darker shades of more purple or blue and we would end up looking like the daughters of Dr. Frank-N-Furter from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Mascara would be applied in so many layers that it looked like tarantula legs were stuck to our eyelids. Blush was always applied in a dark stripe across the cheekbones, and foundation was so thick that a chisel was the only way we could take it off. Maybelline must have made a killing in the 80’s.

High school is where I spent my time during the 80’s. It’s normally a place that most people try to purge from their memory. For me, it’s the time in my life where I had a really bad overbite that was trying to be rectified with braces. …and not the cool colored kind they have today. Mine were shiny metal and unfortunately for my popularity status, I also had to wear rubber bands and headgear. Anyone that doesn’t know what headgear is clearly did not grow up in the 1980’s. I am confident that somewhere there was a demented orthodontist that created a metal torture device called headgear that you had to clip around your head that other othodontists could use for their own merriment.

But back to high school. It’s where I tried but completely failed at having a Farrah Faucett hairdo. It’s where I had crushes on boys that didn’t know I even existed, most likely because I had a chest flatter than a 10 year old boy.

But while the 80’s are home to some of my most embarrassing memories, it’s also when some of my best memories were made of growing up. I made some of my best friends while cheerleading for the basketball team, dancing across the football field at half time with the drill team (squeeze the marble, girls!), and of course, I made friends in my classes.

My best friends, however, were a group of girls I bonded with like no others. Somewhere along the line, we started calling ourselves “The Hatundas”… I don’t know where it came from or what it meant, but it sounded funny and we thought it was wicked. We would be heading to the latest football game, acting so cool in our class-after-class-hand-me-down polyester uniforms while sitting in the back of the bus screaming “Hail to Hatunda” and “Back of the bus forever!!!” The other girls would just look at us like they should redirect the bus driver away from the football game, and instead head on over to the local mental institution and schedule us for individual lobotomies. We didn’t care. We were just having fun and acting stupid. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do in high school?

After graduation, the Hatundas all went our separate ways and ended up at different colleges. Some got married and had babies, others traveled all over, and some started jobs in the corporate world. Over the years we tried to get together but it wasn’t until our 25th high school reunion that we really realized how much we missed seeing each other and how much we still really needed each other. Plus we realized we were getting old. And when the day comes that you realize you’re getting old, it’s a bad, bad day.

We have started getting together every other month for dinner and I look forward to each time like a kid looking forward to Christmas morning. Knowing that I am going to reminisce, laugh and talk with the girls who helped shape my life is priceless to me. The endless bags of taco-flavored Doritos, late night pizza and Dr. Pepper menu has changed to Tapas and Mojitos and wine. The conversation has also changed from who were we going to the Prom with, skanky girls that hit on our boyfriends, passing the test to finally get out driver’s license, and curfews… to our husbands midlife lack of hair confidence, the gross time when our son’s figured out what their willie’s do, and simply how hard it is raising kids. Our clothing is much better as well, but the giggles have a tendency to stay the same – especially at the stupid way our kids wear their hair and the way they dress, since the 80’s style is coming back around full circle.

I love these ex-Madonna wanna-be’s with all of my heart and wouldn’t trade my lifelong membership in the
Hatunda’s for anything in this world.

So, Hail to you, Hatunda! WHATEVER that means.

Do you stay in touch with your high school friends? Share your story!

We made the fun photo below using StoryMark – download for free in the iPhone app store and Android Marketplace

http://www.blogdash.com/full_profile/?claim_code=82826f1a7ae056c8819c407bf0b602cd

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Don’t Judge A Book By Its Go-Go Boots or Letter Sweater

Today was actually a really great day. Not because anything super-interesting happened. It’s just that my husband and I took MY parents and HIS parents out to lunch. Yes, you read that correctly. My parents. His parents. Us. We went to lunch to-geth-er. Without any special occasion where we HAD to get together. No birthdays. No anniversaries. Just lunch, and we meant to do it.

Most people seem to either really like or simply hate their in-laws. When I was married before, my in-laws and I got along with each other but that was about it. It’s not like my ex-in-laws were mutants or anything. We just didn’t “get” each other. For some reason my FIL called me “Meg” because he once said I looked like Meg Ryan. (Disclaimer: I was married to his son long before Meg had all of that plastic surgery that made her look like a fish, so I have always taken his calling me Meg as a compliment and not an insinuation that I look like Nemo.)

Fast forward several years – I am now married to a great man, Dale, who truly has the most wonderful parents, whose style and personalities growing up could not be on more opposite sides of the spectrum from my parents, who are also pretty wonderful.

For many years, Dale’s father was the President of a record company. His parents met when his mom was working at a record store and his dad walked in. He says he made a cat-call whistle in his mind when he looked at her, and asked her out. They got married during lunch one day after he said “Hey, wanna go get married today?” so they did. He had a big scruffy beard, smoked cigarettes, and wore clothes that were either made of leather or polyester and usually had some kind of fringe hanging off. She wore hot pants and halter tops with white patent leather knee-high go-go boots & big hoop earrings. In other words, they were hippie fabulous.

My parents were equally as fabulous but were considered to be more on the more conservative side. My parents met in college and after getting married in a small Southern Baptist church, my mom became a teacher and my dad joined the military, went on to law school and eventually became a Judge. (That resulted in my very strict upbringing, but that too is another story). My mom, Ninny, wore full skirts and shirts with Peter Pan collars, and my dad was the “Hey, want to wear my letter sweater” kind of guy. You get the picture.

Before getting married, my husband and I got our parents together for a “trial run” before the wedding just to make sure there wouldn’t be any crazy interactions at the reception. You would think that two sets of adults that had such different lifestyles for years would not be able to carry on a normal conversation, but when these four people met it was like they had been friends since birth. They laughed. They told jokes. They liked each other immediately. I was relieved.

Watching them interact together makes me understand that we all have the opportunity to be great friends with people who don’t normally “fit” with us…but ones whose friendships could become our greatest and most treasured gifts.

We went to a fantastic new restaurant today to have our annual Christmas lunch – yes, I know its July, but for various reasons we had not been able to get together until now. The restaurant was called Antebellum in Flowery Branch, GA (yep – that’s a plug because it was THAT DARN GOOD), and the menu was full of wonderful Southern fare that makes your arteries close up a bit and your blood pressure elevate just by reading the menu. We laughed and stuffed ourselves silly on fried green tomatoes, pimento cheeseburgers, sweet potato fries, and Jack Daniels bread pudding. (Seriously – this chef is a GENIUS. Jack Daniels in a dessert? Good grief I love the South). Yes, please. I’ll have another.

The conversation was all over the place: We talked about how viruses can spread on a cruise ship since it’s like a floating petri dish; how to keep those damn squirrels from gnawing holes in your tomatoes; and how my mom unintentionally-on-purpose uses her middle finger to adjust her glasses when she thinks you’re doing something idiotic, silently giving you the bird without you always catching on.

And as I sat back and watched my mother lovingly fight a fork dual with my husband for the last bite of peach dessert with lavender ice-cream, I was reminded of how lucky I am that I have two Moms as well as two Dads that I absolutely adore, and who are equally quirky and unintentionally hilarious. The go-go boots and letter sweaters are long gone and are replaced with bifocals and more comfortable shoes, but the laughter and love remains the same, and I can quite honestly say that my life just can’t get any more blessed than this.

Do you and your in-laws get along? Share your story!

I made the fun photos above using StoryMark – download for free in the iPhone app store and Android Marketplace

And be sure to check out www.antebellumrestaurant.com for more information on the incredible restaurant we visited.

Should I Pack The Kitchen Sink Too?

It’s Saturday morning and I wake up and realize that OMG – I promised the kids we would go to the pool today. I had come up with a gazillion great excuses during the week but today it is warm and sunny…and no rain in sight. Thanks a lot weather.com.

Drats. I’m stuck.

Kids don’t realize that you just don’t hop in the car and head on over to the pool or water park. Those clean towels and drinks and snacks and sunscreen and toys and floats and chairs don’t just magically appear in the car.  Someone had to get everything together and put it there.

Then once you get to your destination, be it a beach, a pool or the lake, someone has to set everything up. There are bodies to be sprayed and noses to be covered with sunscreen, floaties to be blown up, pool toys and sand buckets and goggles to be found and handed out.

Finally, when all is complete then I sit down and open my book to page four…the exact place where I left off the last time we were here.

Ahhh. I can finally relax. I settle down into the lounge chair, close my eyes for a brief moment and feel the sun beating down on me when I suddenly realize that I forgot to put sunscreen on myself.  About that same time I hear the sound of the lifeguard’s shrill whistle and him call out “adult swim!”   Suddenly the kids climb out of the pool and state that they are starving, all the while dripping all over my nice dry towel and book.  Never mind that we just ate lunch moments before we left the house, everyone is acting like they haven’t eaten in a week.

I hand out crackers and cheese and Capri Suns and water and right before they’re finished the lifeguards blow their whistles again and state that adult swim is over. The kids drop everything and start to head out like a stampede of buffalo until I yell for everyone come back and take their trash to the can. They slowly come back each one not wanting to claim the trash that ended up on the ground. The rule is – no one goes in the pool until the trash is gone so it finally disappears.

Ahhhh. Back to relaxation. I start back on page two because I’ve now forgotten what the book was about. I get to page four again when I hear someone crying. Uh oh. I look up from my book.  It’s the dreaded water-up-the-nose scream. I do my best to calm the victim and after a while she slowly heads back to the water and I turn back to my book, about which time I see a tiny drop of water soaking into the tender paper and spreading out like a virus. Then another. Tiny little sprinkles. No big deal. I can handle some sprinkles.  I read another page. Did I just hear thunder or am I just imagining it? I look towards the lifeguard stand and see that the lifeguard hasn’t seemed to notice. I begin to relax a little.  Then I hear it again and this time the life guard does too because his whistle is in his mouth already.  “Thunder. Everybody out of the pool.” I look towards the sky. It looks like Storm from X-Men has been here. The sky is getting darker and darker.   Where did this come from?

The kids stagger up and I distribute towels and flip flops.  I collect goggles, ear plugs, & toys.  I let the air out of the floaties and start to pack up.  Hopefully we can get to the car before the bottom falls out.

When I get home I’ve got to empty the cooler, put away snacks, wash and dry towels and bathing suits, and then I can finally take a shower.

And as I’m soaping up my hair I realize that dang it….I never even got to chapter two.

I used www.storymarklife.com to create the photo above.  Download for free in the iPhone app store or Android Marketplace.

Click HERE to follow Dana on Twitter!!

Star Wars vs. Nicholas Sparks. Who would win?

By Dana McIntyre @DanaMcIntyre1

My husband, Dale and I are very similar in so many ways – that’s what really attracted us to each other. We both love to camp, participate in triathlons, and so many other things. His parents have been married for 38 years, mine for 52. We both share the same religion, are non-smokers, and have the exact same political views.
But when it comes to movies, we are on complete opposite sides of the RedBox. I am a hopeless romantic so I’ve always loved movies like “When Harry Met Sally” and “The Wedding Date.” But I also love rough and tough movie like “Slap Shot” and “Gladiator.”

My husband however, loves action movies and…wait for it…..sci-fi. And I mean ANTHING sci-fi. Star Wars. Star Trek. Tron. Flash Gordon. If it has the word “Universe” or “Droid” or “Legion” in the trailer, then it is on his list of movies to watch. (Please don’t get me wrong though. I know a LOT of people like sci-fi…It’s just not for me.)

One afternoon Dale and I were kidding around and he started quoting something from Star Wars. I was completely lost. What the heck is a Boba Fett? Why would I know any of that? He started to clue in when my eyes started rolling back into my head.

“WHAT?” he said. “You have never seen STAR WARS??? Not ‘The Empire Strikes Back?’ Not the ‘Phantom Menace?’ NOTHING???”

Unknowingly, I had committed the cardinal sin of being a software programmers wife: I was not geek-worthy. Clearly I would never win at “Jeopardy!” if the category was science fiction.

One evening when we were trying to figure out what to watch on TV, Dale had the brilliant idea that we should finally watch Star Wars. He was completely serious. He said I could finally find out what a Sith was! YAYYYYYY! A sith? I was thinking hey I already know what that is. It’s what you use in the kitchen to drain your pasta. What’s it got to do with science fiction?

When I gave him a scowl, he then suggested “War Games” and I asked “Is that the movie you wanted me to watch where the guy lived in the computer game?” This time HE scowled and said “That’s Tron, doofus.” I just smiled and said ‘Did you seriously just call ME the doofus here?”

We ended up watching “21 Jump Street”.

Dale has suggested that we have a “Star Wars” marathon one day. That’s fine. Because if we have a “Star Wars” marathon, I have told him that we will also be having a Nicholas Sparks marathon.

I can’t wait!  He’s going to LOOOOOOVVVVE “The Notebook.”

 

I used Face-In-Hole and StoryMark to create the great picture above! For more information visit www.storymarklife.com or download for free at the iPhone app store or Android Marketplace.

Have you ever had TV wars with your spouse about what movies to watch?

4th of July Hotdogs & Freedom

By Dana McIntyre  @DanaMcIntyre1

The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays.   Someone is always having a cookout – you can smell the burgers and kabobs on the grill as soon as you walk out of your house.  You hear the squeals of the kids as they do cannonballs into the deep end of the pool.  And you wait patiently for dusk to fall and so that you can begin looking towards the sky in anticipation for the fireworks show to begin.

I remember going to Stone Mountain with my parents and sister every year.  My mom would pack a cooler with drinks and snacks and we would all pile in our old Volkswagen van.  While everyone was heading to the lawn in front of the Stone Mountain carving where the fireworks would be, my dad would drive in and park on the side of the road where we could see the fireworks but could also had semi-easy access to get out before the crowd departed.

The only bad thing about that plan was that he had three girls with him…and there were no bathrooms on the side of the road.  So my mom would walk us to the bathroom (about a mile away) and then by the time we got back the fireworks were almost over.

Other parents clearly had the same great idea as my dad and they would also start to leave the park before the fireworks were completely over, to “beat the crowd”.  It really didn’t help since everyone else had the same great idea, and we would end up sitting in the same spot for more than an hour while my dad’s blood pressure rose and he swore over and over that we would “never do this again.”  Eventually we would make it out of the park but by then, my sister and I were comfortably asleep on the back seat.

Fast forward 20 years and my husband and I just took our kids to the local venue for fireworks.  As we celebrated this beautiful country’s 236th birthday and as we were watching the fireworks blast off, I was reminded of how fortunate we all are.  I realized that the 4th of July has a different meaning to me as an adult.  It’s much more than fireworks and sparklers and hot dogs.  It’s freedom.

And as we all piled back in our SUV to “beat the traffic” home, I heard a little voice coming from the back seat.  “I gotta pee.”

What did you do for the 4th of July this year?

For more information visit www.storymarklife.com or download for free at the iPhone app store or Android marketplace.

Bailey’s Birthday Minus Mom

By Dana McIntyre      @DanaMcIntyre1

It’s so hard for me to believe, but my husband and I have been married now for almost three years. We don’t have any kids together but we both brought kids from our previous marriages into our new one.

Most parents will agree that one of the most difficult things about getting divorced is not having your children with you all of the time. (Although for some people, they consider that a vacation!) For me, the hardest part was missing important holidays and events in my child’s life. He would spend Thanksgiving at my house one year, the next at his dads. Splitting Christmas day right in the middle…half at mom’s, half at dad’s.

This year, my step-daughter, Bailey was with us on her 11th birthday. We planned the usual birthday festivities – cake, balloons, gifts, friends, grandparents, etc. But as a mother who has been there, I knew it would be difficult for her mom not to see her on that day.

We used StoryMark to document her special day with tons of pictures (even using Instagram to add effects), but we also were able to add the sounds of the party and the ear bleeding result of our family singing Happy Birthday to her off-key. Bailey e-mailed the StoryMarks directly to her mother, allowing her to share in the party festivities.

So the next time you can’t attend a birthday party or a school chorus recital, consider using StoryMark to include the other parent. Bridging the gap between divorced parents can be so beneficial to your kids, and can start with the most simple gesture .

So Happy Birthday, Bailey! Cha! Cha! Cha!

Baileys Birthday – YouTube.

So what about you?  Have you ever been away from your kids on a holiday or birthday due to a divorce?  How did you cope?

For more information on StoryMark, visit http://www.storymarklife.com or download for free on your iPhone or Android.