Along Came A Spider

I’m a girl. I have a God-given right to be afraid of a lot of things. Mice, snakes, bugs, etc.

Those things, however, do not scare me at all. I mean, I’m not crazy about them and I certainly don’t want them on me, but I’m not really all that scared of them.

I am, however, terrified beyond belief, of spiders.

I don’t care if they are big or small. As a matter of fact, there is no such thing as a spider that is “small”. They are ALL enormous.

Every hair on my body will stand on end when I see one.

I think it all started when we would spend summers at my grandmother’s house. My cousin, Brian, who is four years younger than me, would throw granddaddy long-legs at me. My hair was really long at the time, so they would get stuck in my hair. Sometimes I didn’t realize he had thrown them in my hair until hours later, when they would get untangled and would scoot across my face, causing me to scream in terror until the culprit was found and destroyed. Although I love him now, I was not Brian’s biggest fan back then.

As an adult my fear of spiders has not faded. If anything, it’s gotten worse.

My ex-husband and I were visiting my great-uncle in Alabama on his farm. We had to drive through a wooded road to get to the farm and I saw him out in the field on his tractor. I rolled down the window to wave at him, when suddenly a huge gray and black spider with equally huge hairy legs appeared out of nowhere and began crawling through the open window into the car.

And disappeared inside.

Did I mention I was in the driver’s seat?

And the car was still moving?

And I jumped out of the moving car on the passenger side?

While somehow my seat belt remained buckled?

My ex-husband and my uncle searched the car high and low until they found it. Which was very smart of them because otherwise I would have just sold the car as is to the highest bidder.

After my divorce, and until my son got older, it was my job to be the spider killer in the house. I was prepared. I kept cans of raid within an arms reach.

Spiders in my house should know upon arrival that they are in serious danger if I see them. You know that old saying “They’re probably just as scared of you as you are of them?” Well that’s just a bunch of malarkey. Even armed with a can of Raid, old shoes and a vacuum cleaner to suck up the bodies, I still break out into a cold sweat at just the sight of them.

One morning I woke up all sleepy and snuggly in my bed. I laid there listening to the bird chirp outside my window and allowed my eyes to adjust to the light.

What a wonderful morning.

That’s when I saw it.

Dead center above my head, on the ceiling, was the enemy.

And he was big. Actually he wasn’t big-big, but as I said earlier, there is no such thing as a small spider.

And he was looking down at me.

I stealth-rolled out of bed, smooth like a Navy Seal. I slowly pulled the pillows off the bed and then the sheets. (After I counter-attacked, I didn’t want spider guts or the occasional severed leg to end up on sheets! Or even worse, God forbid that it should get LOST in my sheets, so I put them in the bathroom. Just in case.)

My son, Matthew walked in the room as I was standing on top of the mattress, shoe in hand, armed and ready to kill. However, I was startled and started to lose my balance when I heard his voice saying “WHAT. ARE. YOU. DOING. MOM?”

At that moment, the spider jumped like he was kung-fu fighting.

At me.

Or so I thought.

I threw the shoe at the ceiling and somehow hit my target. I fell on the bed and bounced onto the floor
as if I had hit the trampoline safety netting of a trapeze artist.

I looked around.

Where the heck was it?

Matthew was laughing hysterically.

I tried to calm myself. I mean, good grief – I was almost ambushed by my nemesis WHILE I WAS SLEEPING. He was going to get me while all of my defenses were down. What kind of fair fight is that?

I looked around and found it’s crumpled dead body right where my pillow would have been. And his leg was still hanging from my ceiling.

Gag.

Thankfully his family never came after me for revenge.

Because otherwise I would have just sold the house.

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My Mother And the Middle Finger Salute

My mother, who we call Ninny, is one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. And the funny part about that is that most of the time she doesn’t mean to be funny. It’s completely unintentional – it just happens.

Some people are just funny because of things they do or the timing of when they say things. Ninny is a master of both of those things.

A perfect example of this would be what I call the “Glasses Adjustment” story.

And it goes like this:

My sister Cathy and her husband, Jonathan were at my parent’s house for a cookout, along with me and my husband. Jonathan and Dale have always had great son-in-law/mother-in-law connections with Ninny. They love to mess with her and she is just as quick to dish it back to them.

Jonathan was in the middle of telling us his favorite story about Ninny. She was staying at their house watching the kids while Cathy and Jonathan were out of the country for their anniversary. She was running late to pick the kids up from school but couldn’t find the car keys. She finally found them, jumped in the car, hit the garage door opener, and backed their brand new Mercedes into the garage door.

You see, in her haste she neglected to see that the garage door was already open and when she hit the button, the door closed, resulting in a dented car, damaged garage door, and a deflated Ninny. 2653_57801271098_5312612_n

Jonathan laughed as he told about Ninny having to call them in Italy to tell them about the accident.
We looked across the dining room table at Ninny, who was looking straight at Jonathan. She was giggling but he noticed that she was also adjusting her glasses…with her middle finger.

Jonathan said “GOOD GRIEF, I think that Ninny just shot me the bird!”

More giggling from Ninny.

My husband choked on his sweet tea, while my sister sat there with her mouth open. Jonathan started laughing.

I stared at my mother.

Our Ninny? Sweet Ninny? Did she understand what she was doing? Shooting someone the bird? The middle finger wave? The one finger salute?

And doing it so discretely that no one even noticed?

Not even her???

Until now.

The conversation moved on and we continued eating. Every once in a while someone would giggle.

“Does anyone want dessert?” Ninny asked.

“No, I’m good,” I said. “I’m trying not to eat so many sweets.”

Papa looked over at me. “You’re too thin. You don’t need to watch what you eat. You’re not fat like Ninny………..(enter LONG PAUSE HERE)……….and me.”

Dale ducked under the table in fear of flying dishes.

Cathy again sat there with her mouth hanging open.

Jonathan clapped his hands and laughed a huge belly laugh.

I looked over at my mother.

Who was looking at Papa.

And she was adjusting her glasses.

Daddy’s Little Girl

All of my life my dad has been my hero. He was always there for me growing up and is still here for me now that I’m an adult. The strength and stability I always felt being in my Daddy’s arms can not possibly be measured. He would carry me on his shoulders when my legs were tired. He could do the best cannonball into the pool out of all the dads. When I was in trouble, he could put the fear of God into me with just a look. And when he’d jokingly ask me “What am I going to do with you???,” I’d say, “Just keep me and love me,” which he still does. 4887_94743471098_643154_n

And over the past year, he has fought cancer by having a stem cell transplant and will continue treatments for many years to come. He has always been strong – not only physically, but mentally – he’s a judge as well as retired military. (Yes, my upbringing was a little strict!)

Knowing that the next few years are going to have their ups and downs, there are some things I want him to know to help keep his spirits up. So this is for my Dad…

Dear Daddy,

I want to thank you for being so strict with me when I was a teenager. I used to think you were the meanest dad EVER for giving me a curfew of 10 p.m., but now that I am a parent, I realize that what you always said is true: “Nothing but trouble happens to a teenager after midnight.”

Thank you for letting me be Daddy’s little girl, but also Daddy’s little tomboy. Thank you for making sure I could take ballet and sewing classes, but I’m sure at some point you wished you had a son. I was as close to it as you got. I love going camping and doing everything outdoors because of you. You encouraged me to go outside and play so I never was really interested that much in TV -except for “The Donny Osmond Show” of course.

Thank you for insisting on meeting my (and Cathy’s) boyfriends, and giving them the kind of handshake that could break their hand and letting them know they were in for it if anything happened to me. Thank you for telling me straight off which boyfriends you liked, and which ones you clearly DID NOT. Looking back on several of my dating mistakes, I realize you did know what was best for me after all…if only I had listened!!!

Thank you for teaching me how to drive a stick-shift. Learning how to drive an “H” shift was pretty tough on the old F150, especially since it didn’t have power steering or power brakes, but I think it is something every girl should know how to do.

Thank you for teaching me manners. I have come to realize that “Yes ma’am” and “Yes sir” were not only polite when I was younger, but beneficial to me as an adult. These are traits I have passed on to Matthew as well and he, too, has seen how people react when they are treated with respect. 4887_94991191098_2137511_n

Thank you for loving me enough to give me boundaries. Although I didn’t get in too much trouble (because I was terrified of getting in trouble with you), I know I was not the easiest teenager to bring up. I got your stubbornness so I’m sure you saw some of yourself in me! And even though I never wanted to hear it, I thank you for loving me enough to tell me “NO” some times.

Thank you for teaching me to be financially responsible and hiding my first credit card from me when it came in the mail. You taught me that if I can’t buy it with cash, then I don’t need it. This is a lesson many never learn until later in life. You taught me that just because my friends may have new cars, big houses and go on luxurious trips, they are also probably swimming in debt. Because of you, our only payment each month is for our house, and if we don’t have the cash for other things that we want, then we save up for them.

Thank you for teaching me how to stand up for myself. As a single mom for almost 10 years, I had to handle things that can be foreign to many women, such as getting work done on my car. If you hadn’t taught me how to watch when someone was about to screw me over, I would have probably would have been financially taken advantage of numerous times.

Thank you for showing me what true love is. After 52 years of marriage (and counting!) you and Mama have shown me that marriages have good times and bad times, but you stick with each other and are there for each other no matter what. Watching you reach over and grab Mama’s hand just while driving in the car makes me smile.

Thank you for teaching me to treat everyone with the same respect. The circle of friends you have surrounded yourself with come from every race, gender, and sexual orientation and EACH ONE of those friends considers you to be a very good friend to them. What an amazing example you lead!

Thank you for teaching me right and wrong. Even when Mom got a speeding ticket in a different city, you never even considered contacting the other judge to get it erased. Instead you told her that since she was in fact speeding, that she needed to pay the $250 fine. I respected that so much more than you will ever know. So many others in your position would have “called in a favor” but you didn’t – and I love that about you.

Thank you for trusting me when I announced ‘I’m getting married!!!” only four weeks after meeting Dale. Although I’m sure you ran a background check on him, you still trusted me enough to officiate our wedding ceremony. To this day, that memory makes me smile. And thank you for setting the kind of example a good husband is. When I first met Dale, I was amazed at how many similarities the two of you share and I knew immediately that if he was anything like you, I had a keeper.4887_94743461098_2165253_n

I hope you are proud of me for what I have accomplished in my life. Everything I have in my life, in some way or another points back to you. Your guidance has led me to where I am and who I am today.

And although we know the next couple of years are going to be both good and tough, please know that I plan on taking care of you and Mama as you have ALWAYS taken care of me. Cathy and I will be the strong ones for you this time.

I’m all grown up now, but I am and always will be, Daddy’s little girl.

Let me carry you on my shoulders now.

Letters To Banma

Every Monday morning after I have gotten my step-son up and ready for school, I sit down at our breakfast bar and get out my nice stationery and pen.

I begin to write.

I write about what went on that particular week. I write about how my son is doing in college and what my step-kids are doing. I write about how cold the weather has gotten and how I can’t wait until spring time so I can plant in my garden. I write about the cold I think I’m getting and I hope I don’t pass it on to my husband. And how I probably should have gotten a flu shot but because I am mentally allergic to needles, I never made the time to get one. I write about the house we just moved into and how I am finally getting everything unpacked.

This letter, I write each week, is to my 93-year-old grandmother, whom we call Banma. Banma, Ninny, and me.

She lives in a little town in Mississippi and since my grandfather passed away in 1987, she has lived by herself. She doesn’t have cable TV so she only gets three channels using the bunny-ears antennas, and usually repeats of Lawrence Welk can be found on at least one of the channels.

She doesn’t own a computer and other than taking care of her dog and working in her vegetable garden during the warm weather, there isn’t much for her to do.

I picture her sweet face each week as she walks the length of her driveway (which is fairly long) to check her mail and when she opens her mailbox, she sees my familiar stationery. The thought of her smiling upon seeing my letter makes me so happy.

I could call her on the phone but since she is getting older, I find myself repeating things over and over, and louder and louder. She gets frustrated because it’s hard for her to hear me and so she ends up saying “Well, isn’t that nice?” to no matter what I’ve said.

I want her to KNOW what’s going on in my and my family’s life, so I write to her.

My mother, Ninny, says that when Banma gets my letters she doesn’t just read them once and put them away. She will leave them out on the coffee table and several times during the week, she will sit down and read them over and over.

Each day we all receive junk mail, report cards, tax information, and of course, bills. How nice does it make you feel when you open your mailbox and get a surprise card from someone? It kind of makes you overlook how stinky the rest of the mail can be.

So the next time you feel like texting someone or just making a quick phone call, consider writing a note or letter to them instead.

Because the day they receive your letter may also be the day they find out they’re going to be audited by the IRS and it may be the only bit of happy coming out of the mailbox that day.

Tom Selleck Called. He Wants His Mustache Back.


I have been lucky enough to call myself a hockey mom for the past 13 years. My son Matthew started playing when he was five years old. He had gone to the ice skating rink with his dad one Saturday afternoon just to skate around the rink. He had played t-ball and done some karate, but when he saw the players coming out of the locker room in their full gear and skates, he decided he wanted to play hockey. Now he had never seen a hockey game before and wasn’t even tall enough on his skates to look over the top of the goal net, but once his mind was made up, that was it. He was going to be a hockey player.

My hockey mom status started with me being (mostly) quiet during his early years. I became the obnoxious hockey mom during his high school years. Matthew made the Varsity high school team while still in middle school so yayyy – I had an extra year of high school yelling.

Hockey isn’t one of those sports where you sit quietly like you’re watching a chess match. Hockey is rough and tough. People are fighting. People are yelling at the coaches and the referees. People are banging on the glass. People are embarrassing themselves.

Wait. I’m talking about me.

That’s right. I’m the loud mouth hockey mom that all of the other parents avoid like I have leprosy. I’m the one decked out in my team’s colors and sometimes I even have a cowbell. I don’t sit down. I’m usually yelling. I sometimes bang on the glass and yell through the seams of the glass JUST TO BE SURE they heard me. And the other parent’s on the team act like they have never seen me before.

“Who is that?” the other team’s parents ask.

“Never seen her before! She looks a little crazy”, our team parents say.

And this all started when Matthew was in first grade. He’s 19 now, so that’s a lot of time to work on my yelling pitch.

Through the years my reputation grew to being a “lipstick-pitbull” (as Sara Palin called hockey moms). The game would begin and I would start yelling. Another parent would lean over and look down the bleachers and me and say “I wondered when you were going to get here.” hockey mom

Yep. I had arrived. I rarely missed a game. I think in the 13 years I missed less than 15 games.

There were few that my fury would not be directed at. What is the coach thinking? Why is he playing that line instead of the other line? That kid he just put on the ice just got his training wheels off his skates. (No, not really. There aren’t training wheels on ice skates.)

The refs were not exempt. As a matter of fact, they received the brunt of my wise cracks.

“WHAT??? How on earth did you miss that penalty??? He was HIT FROM BEHIND you BONEHEAD! My 93 YEAR OLD GRANDMOTHER COULD HAVE SEEN THAT HIT!!!”

Or

“HEY HOPKINS – you must have gone to Collins Hill High School since you’re not making any calls against them. Way to keep your Alma mater winning!!” Incidentally, we were playing Collins Hill that night.

Or even better…

“Hey Linkissy – YOU SUCK at reffing. And by the way – Tom Selleck called from 1986. He wants his humongous mustache back.”

And although I only started yelling at opposing players when my son got to the high school level, they were no less victims. (And don’t worry – what I yelled was G, I mean PG, I mean PG-13 rated.)

There was one guy who always played so dirty – the kind that would take a swing with his stick when the ref wasn’t looking, or checking from behind, or tripping the players with his stick. Penalties that could have caused another player serious injury should have been called and sometimes were. I didn’t like him AT ALL. His hockey pants were so shredded (from what I heard was what he thought was good luck) because he would put his skates on BEFORE his pants, so the blades of his skates would cause tears.

“Hey #81, we can see your pretty lacy panties because your hockey skirt is so ripped.” I would usually get the third finger salute back at me.

That’s right, #81. I just got under your skin. Let’s see how well you play NOW.

And now that my son has graduated and is going to a college that does not have a hockey team, I feel a little sad and melancholy. I miss the smell of the rink after the Zamboni has cut the ice. I miss the chill of the metal bench freezing me to my core.

I miss watching my favorite player and his teammates win two State Championships. Oh how I miss the game.

I ran into another hockey parent at the grocery store recently and I asked how the season was going. I felt a little stab of jealously since her son is still in high school and she is able to continue on with the weekly rituals of being at the rink.

“Yep, the team is playing pretty well” she said sweetly, “but some parents from the other teams were just saying that the games aren’t nearly as entertaining this season without your loud mouth there.”

Oh. My. Gosh.

I’m a legend.

My Gynecologist Appointment With Doogie Howser

I went to the gynecologist recently for my yearly checkup. I’m usually a procrastinator in general, but making this appointment is rarely high on my list of priorities. I know that going to the gynecologist is for preventative maintenance, just like making sure you change the oil in your car every 3,000 miles but don’t most people try to make it to 5,000 miles before changing the oil?

Everyone knows it needs to be done, but nobody I know ever wakes up and goes “Yayyyyy! It’s gynecologist appointment day!”

I get to the doctor’s office and sign in, then head over to the waiting room that is currently hosting several pregnant women and now me. I feel like the new kid in school that everyone stares at because she’s different.

After 40 minutes or so (who’s counting?) the nurse calls me back.

We go through the typical steps. She checks my blood pressure. Normal. Pulse? Normal. Then I get on the scales. I drop my purse, jacket, and take off my shoes. I even remove my Pandora bracelet in fear that it will add another few ounces. I let out all the air in my lungs and lightly step on the scales, like it will take a pound or two off the final result.

“Oh, you’ve gained a few pounds since you were here last year.”

Seriously? Does she not realize that I don’t know my pants are tighter this year than last? Do I need the nurse at my gynecologist’s office bringing that to my attention? This appointment is getting off to a bad start.

I’m already in a bad mood lady just because I have to be here. Don’t push it.

I am led into a little room with all kinds of posters on the walls with pictures of vaginas, birth control, babies in the womb, etc. Wow. This is not helping.

The nurse lays out a gown and sheet and I’m told I’m supposed to strip down to my birthday suit and put on the gown.

After a while, my doctor and his nurse come into the room. He’s new to the practice so I have never met him before. He looks like he just graduated from middle school. And he’s so cheerful that it makes me want to slap him. I’m thinking, “Please don’t be this happy while you are looking up my vajayjay because it will make this experience even more uncomfortable.”

He asks me tons of questions.

How many children have I had? Am I married? What do I do for a living?

Sounds like I’m being picked up at a bar. I squeeze my eyes shut. Please stop the small talk and get this show on the road.

He checks my tiny boobies out to make sure there aren’t any lumps in there. My chest is flatter than the table I’m lying on, and all the while he asks me if I have dogs, isn’t the weather nice today, and whether or not I watch football.

What?

I lay back and he does the “other” part of the exam. My knees are like magnets. They instinctively keep closing back together. It is clear that I am not enjoying this experience.

Then he does an ultrasound to see what my baby makers look like. They are 44 years old so they are probably starting to look like shriveled up raisins, but he says that everything looks good.

“Just please don’t see a heartbeat in there”, I say.

“Oh, nothing to worry about. You’re getting up there in age so unless you are trying to get pregnant, you probably won’t.”

W.T.H???

The humiliating part of the exam is over. I can only compare a gynecologist exam to prostate exam. In theory of course, since I don’t have a prostate. You just had someone poking around in your no-no spots and he hasn’t even bought you dinner.

I sit up on the exam table and he asks me more questions.

“How old are you?’

“Just turned 44.”

“Ahh. Are you experiencing hot flashes? Weight gain? Mood swings?”

“Yes. Oh my God, am I dying? What do I have?”

“Oh it’s nothing. You’re probably just experiencing early menopause.”

Early menopause? Seriously? I’m 44! Not 104! Didn’t my grandmother just go through menopause? She’s 93. I’m too young to be going through menopause. Here I was worried he was going to tell me I’m pregnant, and instead he tells me my girly parts are antiquated.

I sit there, stunned, as he goes over other symptoms. These are just some of the fun features of menopause: Hair loss, loss of libido, brittle nails, anxiety, paranoia.

“Oh great”, I think. I’m going to turn into a bitchy, bald, edgy, sweaty, freaked out sex-hater. Sounds like my husband is just going to LOVE the new me.

He asks if I have any more questions. I mumble “no” as I’m still trying to process the fact that he not only insinuated that I’m getting old, but he also just had his hand up my hoo-ha. I sort of feel used.
I could use some chocolate.

And as I’m leaving, Doogie Howser hands me a slip of paper, smiles at me and tells me to have a nice day.

I leave the office and go sit in my car. I look down at the piece of paper.

That little bastard. It’s a prescription for my annual mammogram.

Why March Is A No Nookie Month

Nineteen years ago today, my life changed in a way I never could have imagined:

I became a mom.

It all started with the infamous “blizzard” of 1993 in Atlanta, GA. We actually got enough snow that year to cover the street, which, if you are familiar with living in the South, means that all normal ways of life come to an absolute stand-still.

It’s pretty simple. We don’t know how to drive in the snow. It is rare that we see more than an inch of it at a time. Even the mere mention of the word “snow,” people will flock to the grocery store to stock up on bread and milk even though the snow more than likely won’t last past 11 a.m. the next morning.

Such was the case in March, 1993. What started off as snow flurries quickly turned into what would be soon plastered across the news as a “blizzard”. Anyone living North of Tennessee would have considered it a light dusting, but people in Atlanta were in a panic. You would think us Southerners will begin to contemplate cannibalism if we can’t get enough bread and milk to last us a few days.

Then the power went out.

With no power and no backup generator, what was a young newlywed couple to do?

Five weeks later, I was in for quite a surprise.

I made an appointment with an OB and soon found out that my husband and I weren’t the only ones who lost power. A RECORD number of pregnancies were reported that year and they were all due in December.

Fast forward eight more months.

My son was actually due on my mother’s birthday, which is Christmas Day, but he had other plans.

For the first time in his life, he came early and showed up on my father’s birthday – December 9.

Now that would be a coincidence in itself, right? Due on my mother’s birthday but born on my father’s birthday?

December 9, 1993

December 9, 1993

What is really interesting is that my father has a brother and three sisters. Three out of five children were born on December 9. And when my sister was pregnant, her due date was also December 9 (but he broke tradition and arrived two days later.)

December 9, 2012

December 9, 2012

March, it appears, is a very fertile month in my family.

And as we celebrate the lives of two of the most wonderful men that I have in my life, I am also thankful that I have an equally wonderful and understanding husband. Because he knows that March is officially EXTRA SAFETY MONTH in the romantic department at the McIntyre house.

Just in case.

My Other Thanksgiving List

As Thanksgiving draws closer, I realize how blessed my life is and how many things I have to be thankful for.

I’m thankful that I have a wonderful husband, great kids, loving parents and a warm house. I’m very thankful my dad’s cancer is in remission. I’m thankful for my 93 year old grandmother who is here visiting for this Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for all of my friends who make me laugh. But I’m also thankful for a lot of other stuff that never receive any recognition.

So here’s my list of “other” things I’m thankful for:

1. I’m thankful that I don’t have another gynecologist appointment for another full year, because those appointments are just not any fun.
2. I’m thankful that I have a zero balance on my credit cards. (Which means I can go hog wild at ANY MOMENT.)
3. I’m thankful for my favorite restaurants that offer take-out when I’m too lazy to cook.
4. Which makes me also thankful for whoever invented microwave ovens because when I’m too lazy to leave the house to grab take-out, I can just nuke a hot dog.
5. Now that I’m in my 40’s, I’m thankful for hair dye.
6. I’m thankful for plug-in air freshener that makes my house always smell like I’m Betty Crocker and I’ve just taken an apple pie out of the oven.
7. I’m thankful for FaceBook, because it allows me to mass-notify people of things going on in my life.
8. I’m thankful that Girl Scout cookies only come 15 to a box, so when I have a sweet tooth it’s not as damaging to my waistline as eating an entire package of Oreo cookies…unless I have TWO boxes of Girl Scout cookies, which I have done before.
9. I’m thankful that I have not had a cavity in 20 years, because I loathe going to the dentist just as much as I loathe going to the gynecologist.
10. I’m thankful I have not found any wiry chin hairs yet.
11. I’m SUPER thankful to the girl who invented Spanx so I can eat like a Sumo wrestler and still squeeze myself into my clothes without looking like a stuffed sausage.
12. I’m thankful for texting because there are just some people I don’t want to talk to on the phone.
13. I’m thankful that when I forget to take my 6 pound dog out and she accidently poops in the house, there’s not much to clean up.
14. I’m thankful that I have had the opportunity to eat Twinkies and Ho-Ho’s in my life, because my future grandchildren will never know how wonderful that creamy filling actually is.
15. I’m thankful that I live in a country where I can practice my faith and not worry about whether I’m going to get shot in the head.
16. I’m thankful for Purell. If you’re a germ-o-phobe like me, you will totally get why I’m thankful for this.
17. I’m thankful for MapQuest because otherwise I might end up in Alabama when I want to go to North Carolina.
18. I’m thankful that my step-kids don’t view me as their Step-Monster, even though my husband tells me they are a little afraid of me. Winning!
19. I’m thankful that my husband’s SUV and my car are both paid off, even though the windshield is cracked and the bumper has a dent in it from where my husband backed into my son’s truck.
20. I’m thankful for heated seats in my car so when it’s freezing cold outside, my butt is toasty warm.
21. I’m thankful for Dutch Monkey doughnuts. If you don’t know what that is, look it up and have some shipped to you. You’ll be thankful too.
22. I’m thankful that I made it to 43 years old before I had to get reading glasses.
23. I’m thankful for my high school girl friends who I’ve known for (cough) over 25 years but when we get together, we are taken back to 1986 and giggle like we are 16 years old. But then again, that could be the wine.
24. I’m thankful for the Weather Channel so I know how to accurately dress each day.
25. I’m thankful for e-bay so when I want to buy something but I don’t want my husband to know, I can sell stuff and have cash to go buy what I want.
26. I’m thankful for Clorox wipes to help my Obsessive-Compulsive tendency to easily clean everything.
27. I’m thankful that someone mixed tequila with some frozen lime juice and created the margarita.
28. I’m thankful that I have a dishwasher because I would totally hate to have to hand wash those utensils we used for our take-out dinner.
29. I’m thankful that I don’t have any other body-invasive procedures on the schedule such as a colonoscopy or anything super fun like that.

I’m sure there are a zillion other things I’m thankful of and should put on this list, but that could take all day to list and seriously, no one is that interested in my life.

But there is one more thing…I am thankful for the people who actually read and enjoy my blogs. It’s fun to write them, but it’s even more fun when people acknowledge that they enjoy them.

So, dear reader….I’m thankful for YOU.

It’s Okay To Play Hooky With Your Kids

There are some days that life just catches up to me and I just want to take a day off. I don’t want to turn on my computer. I don’t want to see what e-mails have come in. I don’t want to check Twitter or Facebook. I just want to veg out.

And then something wonderful happens. My sweet husband will say, “Hey – let’s go out to dinner tonight – just you and me.” And my day doesn’t seem so hard. Something as simple as that can really just make you happy.

I remember when I was in first grade. I was sitting in Miss Lapin’s class when the school secretary called my name over the intercom to come to the office. I was a good girl! I didn’t talk during class! Why was I being called up to the office??

With my heart beating a mile a minute, I rounded the corner to see my mother smiling at me.

“Am I in trouble?” I said.

“Nope! I have a surprise for you”, my mother said, leading me out of the school.

Thirty-eight years later I can still remember it as if it were yesterday. We drove into Downtown Atlanta to the Fox Theater… (If you’ve never seen the Fox Theater, google it!!!)…to WATCH A MOVIE! During school hours! This was awesome! I looked at my mother. She was grinning at me. My heart burst. I was so excited! This was by far one of the most fun days of my young life.

Me, not too thrilled about going to school

Many years later, I showed up at Matthew’s school to do the same thing. He is a hockey player, and the movie with Kurt Russell about the 1980 Olympic Hockey team that beat the Russian team had just come out. He was dying to see it and said so every time the trailer would come on TV.

I went to the front office and told the office staff that I needed to check him out of school for “an appointment”. Thank goodness they didn’t ask me what for.

As we got to the car he finally asked me what we were doing. I told him to wait and see. We drove to the local mall and he looked at me like I was crazy.

“Shopping? Please, no.” he said.

But when we got to the line to buy movie tickets, things began to fall into place.

“Are we going to watch ‘Miracle’????” he asked, the pitch in his voice raising with each word.

“Yep!” I said.

The grin on his face is one that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Recently, my husband did the same with my step-son, Austin. They went to a midnight release for a video game that he had been saving up for. As Austin was getting ready for bed, Dale said “Hey, get dressed – we have to go somewhere.”

Austin looked confused but did as he was told. As they pulled into the BestBuy parking lot, it began to register that they were there for the game release. Dale said that Austin had that look that I had described to him that Matthew had when I took him to the movie.

Playing hooky from work or school isn’t something to make a big habit of. My mom only did it once with me, and I only did it once with Matthew. It was so special that I wouldn’t want to ruin those memories by doing it over and over.

I realized at that moment that we don’t need to buy our kids expensive gifts or take them to exotic places for them to be happy. It’s really just the little things that they will remember the most.

Matthew recently mentioned that day we played hooky from work and school just to spend the day together, doing something that he really wanted to do.

And I hope he does the same thing with his kids one day, and those “hooky day” memories will continue on for the next generation.

Wiring The Technical Generation Gap


Technology isn’t easy. We all know that. But technology is extra difficult for those who didn’t grow up with it. My parents are no different than anyone else in their age group. They don’t like change, and technological change is an even harder pill to swallow.

My parents have never had a passion for technology.

I remember in the 1980’s when my dad purchased a VCR. It was one of the most technological events in the history of the Gunn household. We could actually rent movies and WATCH THEM ANY TIME we wanted. We were late to the party, but at least we were taking baby steps into this new electronics world.

The next step was to get a microwave. Regardless of the fact that it weighed 300 pounds and you could fit a compact car in there, our family finally had one.

In the mid-1990s, my parents got their first computer. It was a 380 with a 5 ¼ inch floppy drive and offered a dial-up modem that connected to AOL. (My parents still have the same AOL account.) They had a dot-matrix printer that you could hear printing from the next house over and felt like a tiny earthquake every time it would print a line. Zzzzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzz. Zzzzzzzzzz.

But they were opening up to change and I was very proud of that.
In the early 2000’s my dad decided he needed a new computer because his floppy drive went out. By this time, mind you, there weren’t any more floppy drives on computers. Everything had moved to CDs. My dad however, had to special order a floppy drive and had it installed on his new computer. In the father/daughter world, this is known as “pick your battles.”

The next step for the Gunn household was to upgrade their internet connectivity. The Bellsouth installer came out but had one little problem: My parents still had permanently installed rotary phones….and this was 2004. I might have the only kid under the age of 30 that has ever even SEEN a rotary phone, much less talked on one. Thank you Bellsouth for helping to guide my parents into the new and high tech world of push button telephones.

Recently, we got a phone call that went like this:

“Hey Dana! Can I talk to Dale? I’m having a computer problem.”

I handed the phone to my husband (the default technical support for our family) who said, “Hey! What’s up?”

“Well, I was opening my e-mail and I got a message from someone I thought I knew, so I opened it and now my computer won’t do anything”.

Nine hours and two trips to their house later, my husband has made sure that their computer is now 100% hardened against a potential criminal attack from China. (And he did the same for my computer too!) I don’t know how families without an in-house technical support person can keep their computers running these days, but God help you all.

Recently my mother was given an iPhone by my sister and brother-in-law. We have the most fun going through her photos seeing how many times she has taken a photo of the inside of her purse, or a picture of herself when the camera lens did the “flip” feature. But I am proud to say that she has mastered texting and is even using LOL and emoticons.

And my sweet daddy is perfectly happy with his featureless flip-phone, but it was extra nice when we finally convinced him that keeping it turned on all day wouldn’t ruin the battery life.

The moral of this story is to be patient with your parents and their resistance to change and technology.

Because OUR children are going to think that WE are technology challenged when we don’t understand how teleporting works.

(These are not my parents, but this video made me laugh so much that I had to include it!)