Friday, November 12, 2010

She's Baaaaaaack!

Back and on the move!

I hope you all had a great summer. And then a nice fall. And that your Thanksgiving dreams are all on the brink of coming true.

The extended vaycay was a fantastic period of personal introspection, relaxation, and Facebooking. But I am regrouped and recharged and relocating...

Check out my new site, including new contact material, my Lawrence Journal-World column, and a few fun links. will redirect to the new site as soon as I figure out how to do that. In the meantime, click on:

Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Weekly Jules is going to spend some time under re-construction. Botox? Implants? No, nothing that exciting. Just re-evaluating the direction for the blog while a few irons heat up in the fire.

In the meantime, I want to wish my blogger friends a very happy summer (school's out in 90 minutes, my party-of-one clock is ticking) and promise to check in as much as I can...

  • Chris at Knucklehead:  With every post, you prove The Onion should be begging you to drop out of school and work for them.
  • Cora and Scope:  Best Wishes for happiness always and forever! (Check them out, they met RIGHT HERE in blog world and are getting MARRIED this summer!)
  • Mrs. Eye Can See:  I hope to be back before baby boy bounces out, which I hope is quick and painless. He will re-define "worth the squeeze!"
  • Skylar's Dad:  You embody two of my favorite things. Parenting special-needs and a twisted loved of tattoos.
  • Ron:  Everyone needs a friend like you to entertain, inform and give us the Hollywood down-low. Always remember and never forget, you can go as fast as you want!
  • And check out newbie blogger, Eddie C, for insight and humor as he navigates his way around our ever-changing world and prepares for marriage this fall!
And be sure to check out the Lawrence Journal-World (search Julie Dunlap) for River City Jules, appearing every Monday.

Have a great summer, see you again soon!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

She's Only 12-and-a-half...

     I have this "friend" who happens to have a daughter in 7th grade, just like me. Her daughter is going out with a boy (and, by "going out," we mean they only text each other and have an understanding of only dancing with each other at the few school dances each year.)

     All year long my "friend" has wondered if her daughter and this boy would ever move from exclusive texting to first base. Not hoping, just wondering.
     Any plan for it to happen at the Valentine dance was squashed when the boyfriend came down ill the week before. Not wanting to see her daughter home from school sick like the boyfriend was, my "friend" suggested to her daughter that she keep a healthy distance from the boy.
     No moves were made at the next dance, thanks to some very close chaperoning by my "friend's" friends.
     So it came down the final dance of the year. The daughter looked fresh, innocent and so happy to bop about the dance floor to the Black Eyed Peas. The boy seemed to be a bit pale. Their friends hoped this would be their night to move into new territory, making lip-to-lip contact for the very first time.
     The daughter was nervous. The boy was irritated. Neither of them knew exactly how to handle the pressure as their friends continued to push the two into lip-locking. And then the boy spoke up:
     "Knock it off, guys," he told the posse, "We're only in 7th grade, we're not going to do that!"
     Upon hearing of this, my "friend" was most relieved.
     And hopeful that next year they all remember they are only in 8th...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


   "Fetch" is about as simple as a game could be.
   I throw the ball into the backyard. Dog runs to the ball. Dog picks it up with his mouth and returns the ball to me. Repeat.
   Dog gets all hot and panting, I do not.
   Dog wags his tail, scampering about in nature, I sit under the shade of our pergola and maintain a resting heart rate.
   Easy, right?
   Not yesterday...
   I throw the ball into the backyard. Dog runs to the ball. Dog picks it up with his mouth and puts it back down. Dog pees on it. Dog runs away.
   And I abandon my resting heart rate in favor of wagging my tail, scampering about the neighborhood looking for Dog, who appears on our driveway only after I resort to driving a two-mile loop at a child-predator pace in search of him.
   At this rate he will never learn to play chess.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Unexpected Love Story

Christmas finally arrived for our two oldest daughters when we took them to the Taylor Swift concert last weekend.

My husband (a metalhead) and I (anything but country) knew Taylor was a talented singer and songwriter with fabulous hair and a tremendous following.

But we did not know that at 20 years old, Taylor Swift can not only take command of a stage, but of an entire arena. And not just the pre-teen to sorority girl demographic. She had their parents too, many of whom I recognized from the Bon Jovi concert three weeks earlier.

The show opened with the curtain rising to reveal a multi-leveled set constructed entirely of LCD screen that spanned the stage, depicting a high school hallway with bright blue lockers with the cheer captain and her squad practicing their routine in front.

Taylor rose from a platform on the highest set piece dressed as a drum majorette, her mane tucked up high in her hat while singing “You Belong with Me,” standing perfectly still, to balance her massive hat full of hair, I imagine. She whipped off the hat after the first verse, revealing her signature golden locks, and made her way down from alone in the bleachers to the cheerleaders.

Not to be outdone by the girls in short skirts, Taylor ripped off the marching band uniform and finished the number in a glittery mini-dress.

At this point, my Metallica-loving husband, who is pushing 40 years old, was ready to hop in a time machine and take this country girl to prom.

I watched the rest of the show trying to decide if I would rather *be* her or *adopt* her.

She sang, strutted and swung her hair for over two hours, rotating through sets and costumes like a Broadway show, from a school library to a Renaissance castle to a Bellagio-style waterfall. One song, featuring Taylor playing a baby grand, ended with a backbend over her piano bench.

(I offered my fifth-grader $100 to end her recital piece the same way. We’ll see if she takes me up on it.)

But while she inspired young girls to dream big - and me to grow out my hair - her most-illustrated lesson of the night was the liberating effect of singing about old flames. We would probably all be better balanced if we could record songs about the Drews and Stephens in our lives too.

With every number, she more than redeemed herself after her shaky Grammy performance, proving beyond doubt that Kanye West had behaved like an absolute donkey at the VMA’s.

And by the end of the show I realized Taylor Swift set the bar so high, she had effectively ruined every concert my daughters (and their love-story-stricken dad) will ever attend for a very long time.

Or, as Taylor would put it, the night “was a fairytale.” And I have no idea how to top that when Christmas rolls around again.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I got nothing.

Children have behaved appropriately, husband has not planted any Japanese maples of note, and I have gone an entire week or so without embarrassing myself.

But I've got friends... funny ones.

So please enjoy riding out the rest of the week with a visit to a few of my favorite places to drop in for a chuckle. Tell them Weekly Jules sent you.

And come back next week for some fresh, new fun...

Chris at KnuckleheadHumor (featuring a Q&A with yours truly)
Kim at Yellow Trash Diaries (I always feel more culturally enriched after a visit)
Chrissy at I Should a Been a Stripper (love the blog renovation)
Ron at Be. Differently. (#1 stop for all things pop culture)

(I tried and tried to create an award featuring sangrias, but alas, I am not smart enough to post it. I will continue my work on it!)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

How to Handle a Telemarketer

Our friend, Stan, was enjoying a family dinner with his wife and two children when the phone rang.

"Hello, sir," the voice on the other line began, "I'm calling to talk to you about an exciting opportunity for term life insurance."

"Oh yeah?" Stan said, stealthily moving out of earshot of his wife and kids. "Well I want to talk about pu$$y."

Clearly this was not in the telemarketer's script.

"Um, I'm sorry?" she stammered.

"You heard me," Stan continued with gusto, "I want to talk about pu$$y!"

"Let me get my manager," she said, probably right before bursting into tears and resigning.

Stan, who could have simply hung up and resumed eating meatloaf with his family at this point, decided to wait for the manager and see this to the end.

"Sir, is there a problem here?" the manager asked over the phone.

"Nope," Stan assured him, "no problem here, I just want to talk about pu$$y."

"Sir!" the manager exclaimed, "You cannot talk like that to us!"

"Listen, you called me," Stan replied calmly. "If you don't want to talk about pu$$y, then don't call!"

And Stan enjoyed the rest of his meal, and every meal thereafter, without interruption.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Paging Dr. Luke

Unlike his father, my 8-year-old son, Luke, has never expressed interest in the medical profession. He actually hopes to be a pilot in the Air Force someday.

But over spring break, Luke performed his first operation, leading me to wonder what, exactly, the future holds for my boy.

"Mom," he told me Monday morning, "I'm going to do an operation today."

"Wow," I said as I helped him make his bed, "What kind?"

He held up his recently-acquired blue duck. While at his end-of-the-season basketball party at the local pizza joint, Luke won (and I use that word loosely) a stuffed animal from the claw-grabber game in the arcade. A blue duck:

Obviously winning a toy meant for a 3-year-old girl in front of a flock third grade boys does not do much for an ego. And Luke aimed to remedy the situation as easily as possible while still maintaining his prize.

"I'm turning the duck into a boy," Luke declared.

My boy was about to perform our home's first sex-change operation using nothing but a pair of fingernail scissors.

"I'm going to name him Todd when I'm done," he added.

Not wanting to break his confidence, I offered to assist. He took me up on it, and within minutes Todd was a new man - er - duck:

This little procedure beat out trekking to Oklahoma in a the snow to watch the Jayhawks go down in the 2nd round of the NCAA Tourney as the most unexpected thing to occur over spring break. And certainly far less painful.

(Patient is recovering well and is fully-integrated as a male duck with Luke's menagerie of animals that occupy space on his closet floor.]

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Poop in the Night

The following was first published in the Lawrence paper and ended up being the #1 emailed article from the paper for the week. (We are a disgusting group of people.) Somehow, that still did not make up for the incident....

Like the minutemen of old, parents are conditioned to react to noise in the night. Whether stirred by a hungry newborn’s midnight cry or a child standing over our pillows uttering the words, “my tummy hurts” (nothing propels me out of bed faster than the threat of being spontaneously covered in rotavirus), we are always ready to respond when we hear a call for help.

Rarely, however, is it the sense of smell that stirs us to action, which was one of the many thoughts that crossed my mind when an unpleasant aroma filled my nasal passage, waking me in the dark of night.

At first I assumed the odor had escaped from my dear, though often flatulent, husband, though I quickly realized as I came to consciousness the smell was not human, but animal.

Assuming our dog had let a gas bomb fly in the night, I waved the bedspread up and down to air out the room.

Like a tsunami, the stench rolled mercilessly from its unknown source directly to me, swallowing my head, flooding my nose and throat, and rendering me unable to breathe.

This was no ordinary dog fart.

Just like days of late-night potty runs with our toddlers, this animal had business to tend to, and it was going to be up to me to escort him.

I slowly removed the covers and tumbled stealthily out of bed, so as not to wake my husband, who, by the way, was the only one out of the two of us in favor of owning a dog in the first place.

Quietly, carefully, and completely barefoot, I crossed our dark bedroom to take the dog (I had not wanted) outside (in the cold) to finish the job he had started (at 4:30 in the morning).

I had just rounded the corner of our bed when I my right foot settled deep into what felt like a heaping serving of warm mashed potatoes, yet smelled like canine colon.

“CRAP!” I yelled, paralyzed in the mother of all fecal landmines.

In one seamless movement, my husband shot up in bed, turning on his bedside light, something I wished he had done about three minutes earlier.

“What happened?!?” he cried before choking on the stench.

I surveyed the floor in the light. Piles-o-poo were strewn about the carpet like a toxic constellation. Our furriest child was ill, and I was ankle-deep in it.

Two 32-ounce cups, one heavy-duty trash bag and forty-five minutes of scrubbing later, the carpet and I were clean, but the scars remain. For there are things that cannot be unseen and, apparently, things that cannot be un-smelled, and this one, I am afraid, has been forever burned in my memory no matter what we do to erase it.

Although if you happen to run into my man or his best friend, please let them know a night at a nice (no-pets-allowed) hotel (with room service and a whirlpool) would be worth a try.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Name is Jules, and I am a Cookie-holic

I should have listened to Boomer Girl.

Remember back in November when she warned us the Girl Scouts were making their way around town, suckering people into purchasing what she called “legal heroin” with their cute, semi-toothless smiles?

Rather than heed her warning and avoid eye contact with the brown-sashed cookie pushers, I ordered four boxes from one. And four more from my niece.

What can I say? I got hooked on them long ago, when a neighborhood girl came by selling cookies. And, boy, did she hit the jackpot, I was eight months pregnant and ripe for the sale. Six weeks later the girl showed up with a truckload of Thin Mints that I, in my pregnant state, had apparently ordered. I looked at them in horror as I stood in the doorway holding my new baby girl in my arms – and about 20 extra pounds around my middle.

No longer sporting the metabolism of a breastfeeding twentysomething, I placed my order this time around with the belief that eight boxes (and a pair of Spanx) would hold me until next winter. Unfortunately I failed to consider the autonomy of my four cookie-hungry children, and all eight boxes vanished before I could sink my teeth into any of them.

Feeling empty inside, I shared this sad tale with my bunko group. The hostess announced that she, being the Cookie Keeper for her daughter’s troop, had in her possession a stash of leftover cookies for sale, and I returned home six boxes happier.

They lasted through the weekend, and not one of them landed on my lips. My kids had become cookie Ninjas.

Just when I had resigned myself to a long and cookieless winter, I overheard a mom at school discussing her troop’s plans to sell cookies at the grocery store that afternoon.

I casually sidled up next to her and muttered, “Caramel deLites?” under my breath like a junkie.

“Two cases,” she replied, “Should I hold them?”

Scanning the room, I whispered, “Three boxes, I’ll be there at 4:00.”

I arrived at 4:15 (so as not to appear desperate) and secured ten assorted boxes of cookies. The girls manning the table watched in awe as I walked out with 5% of their inventory, which I should have taken straight to my closet for personal emergency use. But that is something only an addict would do. Instead, I left them out in the open, unprotected.

Big mistake.

Five days later, I pulled the plastic tray out of the last box of Caramel deLites to find it empty, leaving me $84 down (don’t tell my husband) and destitute.

Alone and weeping over a barren purple box in the kitchen, I realized my cookie obsession had spiraled out of control.

And now, after some serious soul-searching, I am ready to admit I am powerless. However, I am not sure if I am powerless over the cookies themselves, or my family, who will not let me have one.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Dancing with Myself

A number flashed on my scale after a holiday season (apparently) heavy on edible cheer, a number not seen since my postpartum days.

Fearing the looming 4-0 was already wreaking havoc on my metabolism, I called my friend, Paula, for support.

“You should try Jazzercise,” she said.

I laughed. “My last dance class was when I was four,” I told her, “and my coordination has not improved much since then.” (True story, I once fell down a flight of stairs. On a date.)

But Paula had faith in me. So, powered by her confidence and my six-week holiday eating binge, I ventured into the studio to dance away the pounds that had landed on my backside.

Several other women were already there when I entered, ranging from grandmothers to a pair of snack-sized sorority girls.

“I like to stand away from the mirror,” another mom offered as I stared at the young coeds, secretly wishing breach births upon each of them someday.

Heeding her advice, I grabbed a spot away from my reflection as the instructor took the stage.

“Let’s warm up!” the instructor cheered as the music started, “Look right; now left; now right… “

The room started swaying. I searched for a focal point, determined to not pass out three minutes in.

“Are you ready to move?” she asked.

Before I could answer, the music pumped faster, “… step-ball-change and now chasse… ” My two left feet tried to stay out of each other’s way while my heart rate blew right past its target.

“How’s everyone doing?” she smiled, looking right at me.

I did not know. I could not see the mirror. I had, however, decided that “Hip Hop” music would more accurately be called “Hip POP,” as that is what mine seemed to do with every swing to the beat. But I could not tell her this. I could not tell her anything. I could only pant.

I glanced back at the coeds, who had yet to break a sweat, and the grandmas, who were kicking it high and having a ball. I was being schooled.

Song after hip-popping song played on, and I had not performed a single combination correctly since the neck warm-ups. But then the familiar sound of Billy Idol, from my own (pre-hip-pop) era, filled my ears, and I knew I had this one in the bag…

However, the instructor’s moves were nothing like those from the ‘80’s, not a single Robot in the whole routine. Just like in high school, I was dancing with myself.

Triceps on fire, I was ready to throw in the towel - had I been able to lift it - when, as if from heaven, the cool-down began. Two songs later I was heading home to a warm bath, savoring the taste of victory in my first hour of battle against the holiday bulge.

Not surprisingly, that victory tasted a lot like sweat.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

All They Were Missing Was Danica

Until a couple of weeks ago, the Cub Scout Pinewood Derby had remained a suburban legend to me. Sure, I had heard tales of thrilling victory and agonizing defeat, but none of them measured up to experiencing the derby firsthand.

Never in one room had I seen such a competitive, anxious – and TIRED – group of dads. “I finished a car two nights ago,” one dad lamented, “but then I tried to tweak the wheels and broke it. We bought another kit yesterday. I was up past midnight balancing the thing.”

Some took it all in stride. “I don’t know why my son chose to decorate his car like a banana,” another dad commented, scratching his head. “I questioned his choice from an aerodynamic standpoint, though admit it has a certain appeal.”

And it turned out I wasn’t the only rookie there. “I didn’t realize we had to actually make it ourselves,” yet another dad said. “I couldn’t believe it when I opened the box and a block of wood fell out.”

But not every dad had fashioned his own (son’s) car.

“My grandpa cut mine since my dad couldn’t find the saw,” my son told his friends. This is because I hid the saw after the ceiling debacle of ’02, never to be wielded by my husband again.

Luckily my dad had fashioned many a winning derby car for my brothers back in the day and was happy to emerge from retirement for another go at a title.

Over 90 cars raced down four parallel tracks, rotating through each track and timed with Olympic precision to the nearest one-thousandth of a second. Round after round, countless hours of sawing, sanding and sweat were put to the test.

There were tears, there were cheers and there were boys who did not notice the race going on around them. But it was the dads who saw their reputations speed along the track with each run.

A shaky start on the first run held my son’s car back from placing within his den, but the next three runs were just fast enough to qualify him for the pack finals. My son was relieved. His grandfather was mortified.

“He didn’t win the den?” he muttered to himself as he shook his head. “My cars always win their dens.”

Unable to re-graphite the wheels, the two were forced to sit by and watch as their car raced against the other 30 finalists. Tanks, rockets, and even the banana flew down the ramp, until the checkered flag waved and the results were announced.

“Papa, I got sixth place!” my son beamed, holding his sixth place trophy.

“That’s… great!” his grandfather said, forcing a smile while mulling over design changes for next year. Then he turned to me and whispered, “You aren’t going to tell anyone I came in sixth, are you?”

“Oh, Dad,” I grinned, patting him on the back, “no one would believe it, even if I did.”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On the Roof

Last week's story about our ailing hermit crab included the phrase "on the roof." Because several friends have asked for clarification, I am going to take this week to explain where the phrase originated for me and my husband...

There once was a man who went on vacation, leaving his cat under the care of a neighbor. When the man returned from vacation he went to his neighbor and asked, "How's my cat?"

The neighbor, lacking in social graces, replied, "The cat's dead."

The man was distraught. Not only did he lose his cat, but the news was dropped on him like a bomb.

"You can't just tell me my cat's dead!" he cried. "You have to ease me into it! Say, 'Your cat was on the roof,' and then, 'Your cat fell off,' and then 'Your cat was badly hurt,' and then 'The doctors tried everything they could,' and THEN, 'Your cat passed away.'"

"Gosh, I'm really sorry," the neighbor replied.

"That's alright," the man said, regaining his composure. "How was my mom while I was gone?"

The neighbor's face became very stoic. He drew a deep breath before starting, "Your mom was on the roof..."

Have a fabulous week, and stay off the roof!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

RIP Kermit

(an updated version from the Lawrence Journal-World's River City Jules)

Our family grew by two over the winter break.

We planned to give our two older daughters Taylor Swift concert tickets for Christmas and wanted to get our youngest daughter, Caroline, something equally exciting that would not involve taking a six-year-old to a concert.

Or owning a puppy.

So what does one give a miniature diva that is equally as awesome as a ticket to Taylor Swift?

And is not a puppy?

Hermit crabs, of course.

Our plan worked perfectly Christmas morning as Caroline squealed with delight at the tank while her sisters danced around her, waving their tickets and singing “Love Story.”

(Luke sat oblivious to them all as he dug into his new magic kit.)

She named them Hermit (the yellow one) and Kermit (the green one, duh) and immediately began playing them on the living room floor. Meanwhile, I studied the crab care book and learned that we needed to create a Florida-Keys-like environment in order to keep the crabs alive.

This is not easy to do in the middle of a Kansas winter. The challenge of feeding, warming and watering these seemingly h-i-g-h maintenance sand-dwellers with whom Caroline had so deeply bonded quickly took over my life, and I began to crack under the pressure.

My days soon revolved entirely around keeping these creatures from dying on my watch. My husband grew concerned about this relentless quest for humidity and warmth, concern he finally expresses one evening after work.

“Why is the tank in front of the fireplace?” he asked.

“The crabs were cold,” I replied.

“So why is the fireplace off?” he asked, reaching for the switch to turn it back on.

“DON’T TOUCH IT!” I screamed. “The tank hit 90, I almost baked the poor guys.” I ran over and poked them to make sure they were still alive, a habit reminiscent of the early days of fretting minute-by-minute over the wellbeing of our firstborn. Post-crab-purchase depression was only one more sleepless night away.

“Julie, they’re crabs. They live on beaches,” he said, shaking his head, “without anyone regulating the temperature for them.”

“I know, it’s a miracle,” I said. “Do you think the vet would take them when we go on vacation? And neuter and vaccinate them too?”

“They’re crabs, Julie, not dogs,” he said, leaving the room.

Alone with the crabs, I began to wonder if my husband was right. Was I taking this whole crustaceous pet ownership thing a bit too seriously? I looked down at Kermit again, wishing we had sucked it up and taken Caroline to the concert instead.

Just then Caroline joined me, skipping over to the tank and giggling with delight as she pulled her two buddies out for a little playtime, and I realized these hermit crabs are a far better love story for her than Taylor Swift.

And a lot easier than a puppy.

Or so I thought...

Fast forward one month later, when I received the following text from my husband:

"Kermit is on the roof" (code for nearly dead)

After some text debate over whether or not I should call our family priest, I called my beloved to find out the scoop.

"He's dead," he said with about as much fanfare as you might imagine.

"How do you know?" I asked, having never seen a dead crab before, save for those in the seafood case at the grocery store.

"I'm a doctor," he said (family practice for humans, btw), "I know what dead looks like. I saw him in the corner staring out into space, so I tried scaring him. He didn't retract like usual. I tried to pull him out of the tank, but he slipped out of his shell, limp and lifeless."

"Caroline is going to freak," we agreed.

I will spare you the details of her reaction and simply say that I hope when my time comes she is even half as sad as she was about the crab.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Great Information, How Does It Apply To Me?

Sitting in the junior high auditorium at parent information night listening to school officials outline the expectations for my soon-to-be eighth grader was a piece of cake. I was calm and relaxed, and, unlike at last year’s parent information night for incoming seventh graders, I never once hyperventilated.

Unfortunately, my peaceful state was short-lived as the focus shifted from eighth grade course descriptions to a frightening presentation regarding ninth grade.

“When choosing classes with your future ninth-grader, be sure to read each course description carefully,” I heard the advisors caution, “as failure to select the correct courses will undoubtedly ruin all hope your child has of living up to his or her fullest potential.”

At this, I looked up from the eighth grade course catalogue.

“Depending on which course you choose, you could either set your child on a track that will guarantee a post-doctorate research grant midway through his or her junior year of high school, OR you could set your child on a track that will guarantee he or she will live at home with you for the rest of your life…”

My pulse quickened.

“… so choose carefully or you will end up spending your golden years doing LAUNDRY for a nest full of 30-somethings...”

My breathing grew shallow.

“… because high school, college and the REST OF YOUR LIFE are right around the corner.”

I began to sweat. I had no idea how much pressure was involved with pursuing a junior high education.

While one parent asked a question about the Fulbright Scholarship, my mind wandered back home to my firstborn, content in seventh grade and far away from frat boys and finals. My dear daughter, who, thanks to unlimited texting, can type 40 wpm using just her thumbs but is nowhere near ready for a dissertation. My little girl, who looks forward to using her new algebra skills someday (in fashion school) but, at that moment, was most likely in her room humming a song by a band I have never heard of before.

All this talk about college as it related to my daughter seemed a bit premature, given the fact that she still hasn’t grown in all of her permanent teeth yet.

Then I remembered how quickly the time passed from seventh grade to the day my parents moved me into the dorm at KU. I went from navigating my way through puberty to navigating my way through campus in the blink of an eye. And through it all my parents never knew the names of my favorite bands either. In fact, they still don’t get that Bono sings with The Edge and not Cher.

On the other hand, they do NOT still do my laundry.

Which gives me hope. I may not know who sings “Fireflies,” but I’m sure when ninth grade enrollment comes along next year my daughter will be ready. Even if I am not.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The First One was HUGE!

“Hey, Mrs. Dunwap!” yelled little Patrick (not his real name, for reasons that will soon be obvious) from across the grocery store checkout line.

Patrick is my friend’s son, a beautiful, wide-eyed little three-year-old with a fantastic speech impediment I hope he never outgrows.

“Hey, Patrick,” I said as I swiped my credit card. “How was Christmas? Did you get lots of presents?”

His face lit up, “It was gweat! Santa didn’t bwing me a puppy, but I got a wemote contwol twuck. And you know what?” He continued without letting me answer, “I got to go to Wichita fo Chwistmas and wide in my Gwampa’s WHEE-YO-CHAY-YO!”

“Wow! A ride in your Grandpa’s wheelchair!” I replied in an effort to both match his enthusiasm and confirm what he had just told me.

Patrick was on a roll. He was so excited he could hardly contain himself. My groceries were bagged and in the cart, so I drove my cart closer to Patrick, who had attracted a small audience by this point.

“Yeah! And it’s a AUTOMATIC one!” he yelled with glee, clapping his hands and laughing.

“An automatic one?” I smiled back at him, “How cool!”

“Yeah!” He bounced around in the seat of his cart delighted to share his good news. His mother, however, seemed nervous.

“You wanna know why I got to wide in the AUTOMATIC whee-yo-chay-yo?” he asked, about to burst.

“Oh, no, here it comes,” she mumbled as she smiled at me, grabbing the cart handle and speeding us along to the exit.

Unfortunately we were not out the door when Patrick shared this next part.

“I POOPED IN THE POTTY FO-AH TIMES!” he shouted with pride for all to hear.

Unfazed by the personal nature of his announcement, and knowing how much my friend had hoped this accomplishment would one day be reached, I joined in Patrick’s celebration.

“FOUR TIMES?” I said, dropping my jaw for emphasis.

“FO-AH TIMES!” he squealed. “The fohst one was HUGE!” he exclaimed, holding his hands apart for visual effect.

My friend smiled at me and explained, “It had been almost a week; he had a lot to unload.”

But Patrick wasn’t through. “The next one was---“

“And now Patrick isn’t afraid of the potty anymore!” she cheerfully interrupted through a tight grin, jumping directly ahead to the end of his play-by-play.

It took all I had to stifle the laughter, but as I walked to the car my New Year’s resolution came to me: to celebrate every achievement in 2010, no matter how HUGE or insignificant, with the same enthusiasm Patrick had, though perhaps not always in public.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Best Care in the Air? (continued)

I wrote to Midwest Airline's Customer Service Department. (It was a [mostly] nice and non-flippant letter. Swear it.) That was over a week ago.

I even tried writing to Oprah.

Unfortunately no one has responded. Not a word. Not even an automated "we got your email" one.

And, while I did not want to do this, I see no other options. So if anyone out there knows how I can reach Chairman, President and CEO of Republic Airways, Bryan Bedford, please send me the contact information so I can forward the following revisions to his letter in the MyMidwest in-air magazine on behalf of myself, my husband, the other 98 people on the plane, the 25 people who were not allowed to fly, and the flight attendants who gave these revisions their blessing (click on photo to enlarge):

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What I was Doing New Year's Eve...

The following is true. I could not make it up if I tried...

This New Year’s Eve, and Dave and I, along with our friend Michelle, visited our college friend, Ron in Palm Springs for New Year’s weekend.

“Be sure to wear something nice,” Ron told us before we got dressed for the evening. Dave and I had not been out on New Year’s Eve in many, many years, so I was really looking forward to getting dressed up and counting down with people other than Ryan Seacrest and Dick Clark, hours past my actual bedtime to celebrate the new year.

With people my own age.

And no kids in sight.

Dave wore black pants and a nice shirt. I wore a short patterned dress with black boots. I even did my hair. Michelle looked stunning in a one-shouldered black dress. Ron wore a plaid vest and matching jacket. And his murse.

Unable to get tickets to the Rolling Stones cover band at Agua Caliente Casino, we opted for a party at a nearby resort that featured a DJ, followed by a classic rock cover band.

Our first clue should have been that this venue did not charge a cover.

Our second clue should have been the elderly woman exiting the very upscale resort entrance wearing polka-dot Capri pants and an oxygen tank.

Still, Dave, Michelle and I made our way through the exterior entrance while Ron parked the car, excited about ringing in the new year with dear friends and maybe making some new ones on the dance floor.

We could hear loud music coming from the lobby behind the resort’s front doors.

With one last primp of the hair and straightening of the dress, we flung open the heavy doors to find…

A bunch of families on vacation filling the lobby floor, surrounded by elderly couples in velvet, sequins and lame` watching everyone cut loose to "Celebration" on the dance floor.

"It looks like a wedding,” Dave said, as a flock of pre-pubescent boys wearing flannel shirts and sideways baseball caps came tearing through us, sliding on their knees to the dance floor.

Michelle and I couldn’t speak. As dressed up as we were, we looked like 30-something hookers next to the clean-cut all-American families cutting a rug to, at this point, “Hey, Mickey!”

We laughed so hard I not only lost all of my mascara, I nearly lost all of my bladder control too. I made a quick dash to the restroom where I overheard two elderly women in sequins remarking to each other, “This is just the happening place to be!”

Thinking the party for grownups who did not have their kids or their AARP cards with them must be in another part of the resort, we explored the ballrooms (empty) and the back patio (where the 13-17 year olds apparently escaped their parents to go make out while a band covered Beatles songs in Spanish). We looked around for Ashton Kutcher, thinking we surely were being punk’d, but he was nowhere in sight.

Just then, Ron finally showed and rescued us from the Griswold Family Reunion and took us to the casino with an hour to go before midnight, where things were bound to be better...

Fast-forward to 11:55 pm:

Dave sat in the poker room trying to take pension money from old people (apparently they are mass-produced in Palm Springs) and unable to receive any texts, while Michelle, Ron and I sat at the one bar on the property open to the public, wondering where the poker room was.

This bar faced the main entrance. It was dimly lit with light blue tones. Beyond the bar was a restaurant resembling a Denny’s. There were a couple of drunk businessmen to our left and a couple of gigantic hooters trying to escape some poor girl’s push-up bra to our right, with a throng of young men around her, ready to come to their rescue.

Sipping our drinks out of disposable cups – and looking radiant doing so – the three of us counted down the end of 2009 with our bartender who, we discovered, had not only never heard of the Regal Beagle, but, three minutes into the new year, would shout, “Last call!”

We finished our drinks and set out to find Dave…

Dave, meanwhile, sat in the poker room beefing up the pensions of the old people who, at the stroke of midnight, looked out into the rest of the casino and grumbled, “Why are they being so loud?... When are they going to quiet down?... What’s with all the noise out there?”

After checking in with Dave, Michelle and Ron decided to hit the Blackjack table. I tagged along for moral support and to protect Michelle from the Russian man who seemed to be following her.

But as we made our way to the tables, we found ourselves behind a very elderly woman in a wheelchair, scooting along the packed casino by moving her chair a few inches at a time with her foot.

Ron, being the kind-hearted and concerned gentleman that he is, leaned down to her and asked her if she needed any help.

“WHY, YES I DO, YOUNG MAN!” she shouted in a voice that could best be described as a cross between Marge Simpson and Dick Cheney.

“Are you headed back to your room?” Ron asked (because it was after 1:00 in the morning, not because he planned to join her there).

"NO!” she shouted, “PAI GOW! WE'RE GOING TO PAI GOW!” And she nodded to the Pai Gow table 40 feet to her left.

Then, thrusting her arm in that direction she barked at Ron one last time, “AND YOU CAN GO AS FAST AS YOU WANT!”

Without delay, Ron wheeled his new BFF to the Pai Gow table, where she joined a friend.

Needless to say, she stayed at the casino much longer than we did. I just hope she came out better with Pai Gow than Dave did at the poker table.

And so I leave you all with the first lesson I learned in this new year...

PAI GOW! May 2010 bring you everything you need, as fast as you want.