Tuesday, January 20, 2009

How Old Do I Look? --Wait, don't answer that!

I had a birthday. Well, technically, I've had thirty-five of them now. That's a more recent development, that thirty-fifth birthday.

My Michael and the kids made me this cake in my new Bundt pan. I also got the power sander I've been wanting!

I spent the day with my little family. In the morning, I took Teensy to a birthday party. It was at the roller rink. Did you know those are still around? I figured it out and I think the last time I went skating was when I was 20 years old! Even though my dear friend gave me this advice/warning when she heard how I was spending my morning: "Don't break something! You're not as young as you once were!" I still felt young and spry out there on my skates.

On the floor, I skated forward and backward (those were the only tricks I had ever known), so I was pleased with that. And while I giggled with my five year-old whist doing the chicken dance on roller skates, I had this thought:
You haven't lived until you've chicken danced on roller skates with a five year-old. It was a genuinely enjoyable morning.

With just one small dark mark upon it. During eat-the-cake time, I was talking to another mother and mentioned that it was also my birthday. Her immediate response was, "Oh, are you forty?"

Excuse me? Who says that? I think that even if I were forty I would have been caught off-guard.

I was a little surprised and said, "No, no I'm not. I'm just barely 35. Today." I wasn't offended. Just surprised. I don't think that is a typical response to someone saying that it's her birthday. I think the typical response is, "Oh, it is? Happy Birthday!" but maybe that's just me.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Accidental Shoplifters

Last week, I ran to a certain department store to return a couple of items. While I was there sans children, I thought I'd take a gander at their jewelry department and look at the necklaces. I put my giant purse on the floor between my feet and began to rifle through the accessories.

Now, on the regularly-priced hooks, the necklaces were all neatly displayed, about four or five to a metal prong, but in the clearance area, the necklaces were shoved about twenty to a prong. Every time I touched a necklace two others fell onto the floor. I kept bending over, picking them up, and putting them back.

Eventually, I went up to the register and paid for my new purchases and then skedaddled home. A few days passed. For some reason, I needed something from my purse and dug my hand clear to the bottom in an effort to find it. I felt something strange, unfamiliar.

I pulled the foreign object out of my purse and low and behold, it was a necklace with a clearance sticker on it from that store I had visited a few days previously. I had inadvertently stolen a piece of jewelry! (And a hideous one at that! It was a giant hot pink circle medallion on a long gold chain.)

I had a little chuckle and made a mental note to take it back to the store. Lucky for me, my dear friend Tracy frequents said store and mentioned that she was headed there. I suckered her into taking the necklace back for me. She was a great sport about it and only requested that if I got a phone call from her from jail, that I post her bail. I mean, that is only fair since I am the one that stole the necklace in the first place.

Now, that is a cute little story, isn't it? Oh, how funny. Mendy stole a necklace by accident. Then, she gave it back. No harm, no foul. Right? I mean, it was totally innocent. Who couldn't see that?

Well, dear friend and devoted reader, I have another tale to tell. This one is not my own. It's my sister-in-law's. I'll try to tell it as briefly as possible.

Upon returning to the USA after living abroad for 6 months, my sister-in-law needed to go to the grocery store to restock her house with essentials. She was jet-lagged from her journey halfway around the world, but bellies were a growlin' at her house, so she set out to do some major shopping.

She felt herself dragging down the aisles at the neighborhood grocery store where she's shopped for the past ten years. Her eyes saw a Red Bull. She pulled it off the shelf, popped the top, and began to drink while she shopped. (Who among us hasn't done something similar?) She piled her groceries high and eventually checked out, paying the cashier $400 in cash for all that she had purchased.

While walking to her car, she was stopped by a policeman and asked, "Excuse me, but do you have a receipt for those groceries?"

"Absolutely," she replied as she handed him her long receipt.

"Did you, by chance, pay for a Red Bull?" he queried.

Suddenly, it hit her. Her Red Bull. She didn't remember paying for it. But it wasn't in her hand anymore. "No. I don't think I did. I'll pay for it now. I don't know what happened to it."

Basically, she had set it down somewhere in the store while she was shopping and had forgotten all about it. She was denied the option of paying the $1.67 on the spot and issued a citation for shoplifting right then and there.

Since, she has gone to court where a judge accused her of thinking that she is above the law because she actually had the ability to pay for what she stole. She has been fingerprinted. She got her mug-shot taken and was bodily searched for her mistake.

And it's not over. She has to go back to court again to try to plead her case to a different judge. Is this not crazy? Yes, she stole a drink, but she didn't realize it. When she did realize it, she tried to pay for it, but the store wouldn't let her. It was just an honest mistake.

Like the one I made last week at that department store. Only, I got lucky and didn't get caught. (And it's no accident I'm not typing the name of that store. I don't need any charges filed against me!)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rules for a Rockin' New Year's Eve

Consider this your personal invitation to join my family next New Year's Eve chez mes parents, in the basement, where we have our Annual New Year's Eve Karaoke Extravaganza. Sometimes when people ask what my plans are for New Year's Eve, I am a little embarrassed to tell them that I am going to my parents' house to karaoke. But, hand on heart, it is a wonderfully good time.

Seriously, you are welcome to join our soiree this year. But there are probably some things about our New Year's celebration that you should know. Particularly if you are a girl (we don't so much make the boys do all of these things). There are some rules you'll need to follow.

Rule #1: You must surrender all vanity and allow a sister to give you a make-over of her pleasing. This past year, we commandeered Marlee's fresh-from-Santa make-up kit and spread hot pink tar-like lip gloss on everyone's lips. We also liberally smeared body glitter on each other's faces. Amber apparently took "liberally smear" to new heights when she did my face because when my sister-in-law saw me she asked if I was the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. (Although, looking at this photo, I can't help but think that it couldn't have helped that I was wearing metallic sequins.)

Rule #2: You have to get your hair coiffed in a fun, new way. Sometimes we go legit with hairdo's, but sometimes we go a little crazy. My SIL Kim had a hard time doing anything too crazy this year. She actually wanted to look genuinely good. I forgive her; it was her first karaoke with us. We'll break her down slowly but surely.

Rule #3: You must have a mole. And not one God gave you. You have to let someone put a make-up mole somewhere on your face. You can choose a Cindy Crawford placement above the lip, one under the corner of your eye...the sky is the limit. Be a good sport about it. If 90 year-old Grandma can wear a fake mole without complaining, you can, too. (Clearly, Grandma went for the under-the-eye mole.)

Rule #4: You must accessorize. Usually, my sorioara (little sister) Whitney's earring collection is enough to satisfy our New Year's needs, but this year we also had Kim's haul of necklaces and bracelets from her past six months in the Philippines to add to our collection. We share a lot. If you don't like to share, you might not want to join us.

Rule #5: Your wardrobe choice should have some shine, fuzz or other texture. In 2007, Amber introduced her silver sequined mini-dress. It's shiny and indecently short and does the job beautifully. Amber's specialty is Broadway and this little number is a show-stopper, to be sure! For 2008, we pulled from various wardrobes to give everyone something with that little dazzle that says, "It's New Year's Eve."

Rule #6: You can't take yourself too seriously. This is, after all, karaoke. In my parents' basement. In rural, southern Pennsylvania. No one is going to see you except family. Until it gets posted on the Internet. hee hee

Please note my dad's fauxhawk here, people. My dad. Fauxhawk.

Rule #7: You gotta eat guac. For some reason, nothing says New Year's to us like some yummy guacamole. And bruschetta. And artichoke dip. And left-over fudge. And...well, you get the idea. Just don't show up with a full stomach, okay?

Rule #8: At midnight, you drink the good stuff. We go for variety when we purchase our sparking ciders: white grape, red grape, apple, wild berry, peach, if we can find it. There's just no non-alcoholic beverage we won't buy. That's how wild we are!

This past year, my sister, Amy (who has never in her life stayed up until midnight) graced us with her presence for the first time. We even got her to stay until 10:30. Wahoo! Whitney straightened her hair and my mom didn't even recognize her! She sang one number; we were so pleased with our new convert.

But I must give the award for Best Newcomers to my brother, Joel, and his wife, Kim. I didn't know Joel had it in him, but he was quite the karaoke maniac. Kim was great, don't get me wrong, but I knew she had it in her! They did several duets and were just darling. And who will ever forget Kim's "Pour Some Sugar on Me?"

Just click on it! It's only 20 seconds, but, boy, do they sound good!

Adam and his Laura have been rocking the house with their vocal instruments for years, but I never tire of his Neil Diamond or her anything. The girl was in a rock band in college. She's seriously good.

My Michael, ever averse to following Rule #6, spent another year sitting in the back corner, refusing to sing a note. In all fairness, about three years ago, I got him to do a duet with me--"The Ketchup Song"--that was something. But that's it. One year. One song.

One of my favorite things about our little party (aside from the fact that all the grandchildren are sleeping peacefully two flights up while Amber belts out, "New York, New York") is that my Grandma loves to come. As a long-time recipiant of Amber's make-overs and my hair-do's, Grandma knows exactly what she is getting into when she comes over. And she came prepared in 2008, let me tell you. She had a little bag with her and wouldn't let us peek until it was time. Then, she proudly put a "Happy New Year" headband on her head and a plastic lei around her neck and pronounced herself ready for the party. When she sang "That's Amore" with my dad, she let him wear her headband and switched to the other headpiece in her bag, a sun hat. She's as nutty as the rest of us, I tell you.

This video is only a ten-second taste of my family's talent.

And so, if you'd like to come, you're invited. We do it every year. Same time, same place. And many times, the same songs. It's just good, clean (family) fun.

Quotation of the Month

There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.

-Jill Churchill