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Dog Sons 

13 Sep

“Whose idea was it to get two dogs?” 

It’s a question Andrew and I will ask each other when things like canine messes or vet bills or daily dog obstacles happen. After our first dog son Joey died in July 2014, we took our time before opening our hearts to another pup. We waited until late December to start scrolling through the local humane society web pages. Even then, we were gravitating toward dogs that looked like Joe-Boy. One even motivated us to drive to the shelter. We were too late to be his rescue family. Fortunately, someone had already saved the sweetie so that meant we could save another. We kept looking. 


There he was. He looked so sad — like he needed us. We visited him. He was intensely shy. Wouldn’t come out of his kennel. When he finally did, he only came to Nate and then he went straight to a kennel two spots down from his to lick another dog through the fence. We finally got him outside but he had to be carried and wanted to go back to the other dog. That made us curious. We took that other dog out. He led us back to his buddy’s kennel to sit next to him. 


Separately, they were timid and almost unmovable. Together, they were happy, trusting and playful. Turns out, they were brought to the shelter together as strays. Someone found them on the road. Bonded. 

Naturally, we left with both. 

We named them Charlie and Linus because they are best friends and Linus needed his security blanket. Linus saved Charlie and they both saved us by filling the piece of our hearts and family that was missing after Joey.

Whose idea was it to get two dog sons? We all take credit. 

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Homemade Sauce, Lyrics and a Little Girl Growing Up

5 Oct

The time to clean out the kids’ clothes is always tough. As if the actual task of sorting through it all isn’t a drag enough, there’s that whole sentimental hurdle we have to face while conquering the closets. 

It’s such a tangible sign of how they are growing. This most recent gutting was especially stinging. Even more so than the time we first received this keepsake for the students to wear on the first day of Kindergarten.  

Then, 2021 seemed so far away. Sure, it still made us aware of its presence but that would be something like 12ish years away. Now, it’s less than SIX school years away. I gasped at this slap in reality and then gently folded the shirt and placed it in the pile of “special” things to keep safely in storage.

I didn’t fully feel the sting from the slap until later that night while I was making the homemade spaghetti sauce I learned how to perfect from my mom who learned how to perfect from my grandma Nancy. Nia was sitting at the kitchen table doing her homework and we were listening to “mommy’s” music. I’ve known and felt the lyrics from James Taylor’s “You’ve Got a Friend” but never like this. That night, they had me adding tears to the meatballs. I looked at Nia as her eyes tightened at a thought she was writing, unaware of the emotional montage I was producing in my mind.

No matter where that brilliant brain and lovely personality take her in life, I will come running. 

Class of 2021.

  

 

101

3 Oct

Who taught you makeup, fashion and overall “beauty” tricks? Sure, I had plenty of motherly and sisterly guidance in the form of taking care of myself and style but what I secretly obsessed and studied were my sis’ Cosmo mags. Photo linked from Bellazon.com and Pinterest

When I was 10-14 years old, my sister was 18-22. I remember absorbing every page — from the perfume ads to those relationship-solving quizzes. I most loved the makeup and fashion tips with featured products. I soaked up every word of these magazines like a soap opera and couldn’t wait for the next one. 

Not that I ever attempted the tricks though. None of it seemed like real life to me. It was a sensual and extraordinary fantasy world where I would live on the weekends when I visited daddy and sis. Kind of like the TV Guide or J.C.Penney catalog at grandma’s. Marking the shows like 90210 and New Kids on the Block appearances I didn’t want to miss and the toys and clothes I desperately needed. A wish list and a plan, charted out with blue-inked circles and stars. 

This memory got me to thinking about what our kids have that mirrors this. Sure, magazines like those still exist but my kids don’t see them. They do spy an occasional People or Us Weekly though. I’d imagine they feel the same land of pretend when they flip through one. Right after they leave the land of Minecraft, that is. 

Ah, young minds. Such a maze with so many maps to explore. Cosmo didn’t prepare me for this. (I did learn how to entertain sleepover buddies with great romance stories about winning over the hot lifeguard named Jordan or Donnie though.)

Mad Mix

18 Jul

Mix TapeLike many young guys wooing a girl in the 90’s, Andrew knew the swoon power of a good mix tape.

The first one he ever made me arrived in my dorm room mail – along with a catalog for BMG CD’s and a deal for a long distance phone card. It was 1996. I was a freshman at West Virginia University while he was a junior eight hours away at West Point. I thought it was the best mix tape I ever received. Not only did HE make it for me, it held some of the most heartfelt and rockin’ songs – especially since we were just friends “with potential” (Who knows that movie?!) at the time.

At least, I thought it was the best mix. My feelings about that tape would all change a few years later when (after successfully winning me over — with mix tapes of course) I was helping him pack up his things before he moved to Georgia to start his Army career.

I’ll get back to that in a paragraph or two, but first I need to tell you about what would become my most favorite mix tape of all.

We never really did become a couple that year. He came to visit me at college once and we both had a wonderful time but my heart wasn’t quite able/ready/sure of itself to be fully his then.  If Facebook existed at the time, I would’ve been guilty of “It’s complicated.” Because of that and the cold way I acted toward him, I received what I have since dubbed the “I Hate You” mix tape. It was filled with songs of agony and heartache and anger. It made me roll my eyes and huff and puff when it was first sent to me because I knew I was wrong. He now tells me he borrowed the CD’s of friends to make it because he needed to have just the right songs.

A few of them included:

Nine Inch Nails – “Something I Can Never Have”
Pearl Jam – “Better Man”
Tonic – “If You Could Only See”
Counting Crows – “A Long December”
Nirvana – “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”
Soul Asylum – “Promises Broken”
Smashing Pumpkins –  “Crush”
Radiohead – “High and Dry”
Guns ‘N Roses – “Patience”
Tim McGraw – “Don’t Take the Girl”
Spin Doctors – “How could you want him when you could have me?”
Radiohead – “Creep”
Jewel – “You Were Meant for Me”

He must have forgiven me and I must have made the right choice because here we are now, about to hit our 14th wedding anniversary. Even after all that AND it turns out that the first mix tape was actually not the first mix. You see, when helping him pack, I discovered his song list on an index card and that he had made that same mix tape for another girl before me.

Stupid mix tape.

That’s why I really love that Mad Mix. It’s all mine. I earned it. And, as he would say, it worked.

Papa Talk

23 Mar

“We talked for 41 minutes!” A happy Nia processed in her brain as she looked at her phone after hanging up with her Papa.

She couldn’t wait to call him that night. She wanted to talk to him about what she learned in class about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. She knew Papa is better than google or any book she could read when it comes to history. Forget about playing a game with trivia with him, unless he’s on your team.

I know she will always treasure their talks. I think he will too. After their history lesson, he sent me a text. “Thanks for letting Nia call. Were you trying to get her sleepy by talking to me?” Silly, smart Papa.

Papa

Jacked Up

19 Nov

I had a flat tire after work this week. Here are some things I learned from it:

  1. I prefer the kind of flats that are waiting for me – as opposed to the ones that happen as I’m driving down a busy interstate. This one was safely hanging out for me on Level 4 of the parking garage. Swell!
  2. I shouldn’t refuse the kind offer of help from strangers. My stubborn “I got this” personality caused me to turn four people away. I gave some line about being “woman, hear me roar” and immediately felt dumb after it.
  3. Glad I admitted defeat and reluctantly accepted the fourth offer of help after trying to loosen the lug-nuts with my cute purple pumps. Andrew had tightened those lug-nuts with the “intensity of the sun” as I heard him once use to describe Nate. During my attempt to break the lug-nuts free, I called Andrew, out of breath, verifying, “It’s lefty loosey still, right?!” He responded yes and told me he was on his way to help. That’s also when the fourth person to offer help showed up and didn’t take no for an answer. He just started fixing it.
  4. People who don’t directly offer to help feel the need to give advice or just make an acknowledging comment as they pass. “Did you call someone?” “Don’t forget to use your emergency brake because your car could roll backward.”
  5. There’s a special place for the jack under my car. If you don’t use it, you will bend the area near the door frame. That happened. I now need new tires and some body work.
  6. It’s very difficult for me to drive slower than 55 mph. Thank goodness for cruise control. Glad I had that padiddle light too. That really added to the comedy of the situation.

Dough-no

Significant

7 Nov

Maybe it’s because we lived it. We try not to make big deals of things we’ve been through or accomplished. People have done/do more. We may feel like that because part of us feels like we don’t deserve special acknowledgement. We just are people doing things other people do.

For whatever reason though, Andrew and I don’t really recognize his military service on the designated holidays. We certainly think of the others though. Those friends who are no longer with us, those still serving or who’ve served longer or long ago.

Then, a stranger changed that. To her, Andrew’s service is significant and should be noted.

She only really knows him to say hi to him in church but that didn’t stop her from getting his address from the church directory (I imagine) and sending him a card to thank him for his service.

I’m not even sure how she knows about his military history. In the end, it doesn’t matter. What does is that someone reminded us of it.

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