And Away She Goes!

Brace yourselves for a tiny little blog hiatus, y'all ... because I'm going on VACATION!

Yep, that's right: Curtis and me (and my orange knees) are going to be exploring the fair city of Charleston, South Carolina for the next four days. Sans kids.

Do you know what that means?

-No butts, noses, faces, or sticky fingers to wipe
-No crumbs between my boobs
-No drool/snot/food stains on my clothing
-No squabbles to mediate
-No pounding on the door while I'm trying to go to the bathroom in peace

I foresee a couple of adult beverages in my future. And a big king-sized bed to roll around in without worrying about a child or two falling off the edge. And being able to jump on aforementioned king-sized bed without being a bad influence. WIN!

Of course, I'll end up calling to check on the boys every couple of hours, and by the time we get home I'll be elbow-checking the other passengers to get off the plane first so I can see my babies again. But. For right now I'm all, "No kids! Weeeeeee!"

Anyway, comments are off, and I'll see you guys in about a week. If I decide to come back, that is. :)

A Tale of Pale

In case you couldn't tell, I'm white. And I mean that in two ways: I'm Caucasian, and I'm also white as in ... white. Pasty. Pale. A woman of non-color.

Here, let me show you. This picture was taken in Cancun: it's me and my friend Lisa (I wouldn't have cropped her out, but her boob is kind of showing and she would really kick my ass for that). Lisa is just as Caucasian as me - she's a blue-eyed brunette - but she's obviously not nearly as white:

I wish there were some cute little slogan to say about my skin color. Black people can say catchy things like, "The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice." I could say, "The whiter the skin, the more apt you are to hurt people's eyes" - but somehow, I doubt it would ever catch on.

On some people, pale is pretty:

But as I was looking at my legs out in the bright sunlight the other day, I could no longer delude myself. I'm no Nicole Kidman, y'all. She can make pale look good; I make it look all veiny and cellulite-y and weird.

So I bought myself a tan-in-a-can.

I took great care before using it. Showered, exfoliated, stood on a towel so I wouldn't get it all over the floor. I sprayed the mist all over myself in what I thought were even strokes. It was a really fine mist so I wasn't sure exactly where it was landing, but I felt, you know, moist. So I figured it was hitting me somewhere.

And I was right. It was collecting on the tops of my feet and every movable joint, turning them an extra-toasty tan. Now I no longer have to shield my eyes and squint when I look down at the sunlight glaring off my legs, but I also have orange knees and ankles.

Oh well. I guess it's a trade-off. Now I won't accidentally blind anyone.

Now THAT'S Recycling

People eat weird snacks. One of my best friends, Lisa, eats dill pickles with peanut butter. Hey, I'm not here to judge ... I used to consume lemons dipped in kosher salt (minus the peel, natch).

When it comes to weird snacks, though, my 2-1/2 year old takes the cake. Well, I guess that isn't a very good expression to use, because it actually isn't cake that Cameron likes to nosh on. It's ... paper products.

Yes. You read that right. PAPER PRODUCTS. But he's discriminating - he's not out eating pamphlets and stationary and the pages of books. No. He prefers soft paper products: like toilet paper. Tissues. Baby wipes. Paper towels. I just confiscated about six squares of T.P. from his mouth, which is what prompted this blog.

It's actually a condition called pica, where kids eat non-food things like they actually taste good. A lot of times it stems from some nutritional deficiency, but not in Cameron's case ... his pediatrician ran a whole panel of tests and proclaimed him good to go. So I guess it's just weirdness (which he gets from his father, I swear).

It makes it easy on me, though. As any mom knows, it's imperative to keep a stash of napkins handy in your purse - and for Cam, they can double as snacks. Y'know, in case I ever run out of Goldfish crackers.

I'm just kidding, y'all. I would never give him a napkin as a snack.

Everybody knows that baby wipes are easier to swallow. ;)


The Frump is Grumpy

There are things I like waking up to: beautiful sunshine illuminating my room, sweet kisses from my boys, a cuddle from my husband, the smell of breakfast cooking (which means I don't have to do it which is ALWAYS a plus).

And then there are things I don't like waking up to. Among those things: a torn-up bathroom. But this, my friends, is what I stumbled upon first thing this morning:

Yeah. That's my floor ... which was already torn up, but not quite that bad. And my wall, which until sometime in the wee hours of the morning, was actually intact. The damage to both is the result of the same furry asshole culprit ...

... our seven-month-old chocolate Lab, Josie. (Otherwise known as, "Dammit, Josie!!")

Yeah, she's cute, but I swear - the bowels of hell couldn't release a more destructive force. Not even my three boys, all of them together, could compete. Sadly, the damage to the bathroom is just the tip of the iceberg. I could post pictures of the four-inch HOLE she chewed in my living room carpet yesterday. Or the gnaw marks in the living room wall. Or the two hairbrushes she's demolished this week. Or the countless toys and books she has destroyed. The two iPhone chargers she's eaten. The TV cable. Need I go on?

For six weeks I took her to obedience training. When I asked the trainer about her destructive habits, she insinuated it was my fault. "It's a matter of unpreparedness," she chirped. "Leaving things around is fair game." But that's not very practical; I have three kids, and as much as I'd love to have a neat and tidy house at all times, there's always stuff on the floor. Period. And what about the carpet and the wall? Do I need to somehow put those away, too? Ugh.

Josie was in the bathroom because that's where she sleeps. And why does she sleep in the bathroom? Because if we leave her out overnight, she pees and poops in the house. But I don't know why I bother, because I "miraculously" find pee and poop on the laundry room floor nearly every morning. Curtis gets her out of the bathroom when he wakes up for work and takes her immediately out, then brings her immediately back to the bathroom - or at least he says he does - yet when I get out of bed and go downstairs to feed and water the pets, there it is. Sometimes a puddle, sometimes a pile, sometimes both ... but always a mess, and always a hassle. As if I didn't have ten thousand other nasty things to deal with on a daily basis.

It's not a matter of unused energy. She plays with the boys all day long. We go for walks. She has tons of her own toys. At this point, I'm at my wits' end ... I have no idea why she's so naughty.

I would never get rid of Josie. Once she grows up and matures a little bit, she's going to be a good dog. And I didn't go into this thinking it would be easy: that's how so many dogs end up in shelters (which makes me so sad). But damn, dog. Give me a break already. 

Girls? Oh Boy.

When I tell people I'm the mother of boys, I often get a similar response: "You're so lucky you don't have girls." People are emphatic about this - like, if I could see the words coming out of their mouths, they'd be in bold, caps-lock AND italics. It's almost the same tone people adopt when they say something like, "You could have been killed!" Once at a playground, I was chatting with another mom and she said the "you're so lucky" line ... and then went so far as to tack, "You'd hate it," onto the end in a desperate whisper. She sounded like it was a secret she'd been dying to spill to the right person.

I'd hate it? Really? Are girls that bad?

Admittedly, being the mom of three sons, I'm not as experienced in the art of raising a girl. But lest we forget, I myself was a little girl at one point, so I do have a teeny bit of insight. And aside from a handful of bad things, I honestly think I was pretty well-behaved. I don't ever remember being particularly mischevious or troublemaking. I was good at school. And I know I wasn't sassy, 'cause my mama would've slapped me into next week. I didn't do a lot of eye-rolling or door-slamming or back-talking.

I go through a lot as the mom of boys. I can't imagine girls smearing their poo all over the place or constantly pestering me to do science experiments that could get them blown up. I don't think girls "sprinkle" all over the toilet seat and the floor (and I only have one potty-trained so far, so I can only imagine what it's going to be like magnified by three) or request wedgies (yes, Colin actually does this). I'm fairly sure I wouldn't have to warn a girl that when she goes to school, she can't fart and then laugh about it. I've become accustomed to cleaning up squishy messes, finding food stuffed into weird places, and not having a heart attack when the boys climb onto - and then jump fearlessly off of - things that are far too high. And the thing is, my boys are still little. I can't even imagine what awaits me when they're sweating, stinking, eating-us-out-of-house-and-home teenagers. 

Apparently, though, my lack of female offspring is akin to a one-way ticket down Easy Street.

That's confusing in itself, but then people insist on confusing me even further. Despite all the "you're-so-lucky" hoopla, the question I get most often is: "Are you going to try for a girl?" Like I've failed three times, but maybe if I tried again, I might get it right.

Are you kidding? After hearing how much I'd despise it, and how difficult girls are?

I think if I ever get pregnant again, I'm hoping for another boy! Moms of girls, enlighten me: are they REALLY that bad?!

Porch Profanity

I may have stood on my front porch the other night and kind of yelled a profanity-laced sentence at the top of my lungs. And I hope my neighbors don't hate me for it.

In my defense, I had a good reason. No: it wasn't that I finally went crazy over the sheer volume of poop I'm forced to deal with on the daily (although that kind of breakdown seems inevitable). Let me set it up for you.

It was about 9:15 pm, and I had just finished putting my kids to bed. Their bedtime is usually 8:30 - and I'm pretty strict about that - but it's so hard to get them in sleepytime-mode when it's still light outside. By 9, though, it's sufficiently dark. I was just preparing to leave their bedroom when I heard the ding-dong of the doorbell. Just once.

My first thought: WTF? Who could be here at this hour?
My second thought: That doorbell-ringing fool better not wake my kids.
My third thought: Damn. Curtis is already in bed. That means I have to answer the door in my effin' pajamas.

While I was thinking all this, I was slowly making my way toward the door. Out of the boys' room, down the hall, down the stairs to the landing. Our front door is flanked by two tall, skinny windows, so before I opened it I peeped out to see who I'd be griping at for coming by so late.

There was nobody there.

But y'all know doorbells don't ring themselves, so I stood at the window and looked into the darkness as hard as I could. I didn't see anything. Not a soul. Not a leaf stirring. I must've stood there for a minute and a half, just staring out. Everything looked normal, so I turned to go back up the stairs.

The dog was sitting there, and I thought, "While I'm down here I might as well take Josie out to potty." So I called her to me and leashed her up. Then I opened the front door.

The moment I stepped outside, I heard noises beneath my feet - which was startling in itself. What was even more startling was when what appeared to be three fully-grown men hurtled their way out from where they'd been hiding underneath my porch. They ran as fast as they could toward a getaway car which was parked unassumingly in front of my next-door neighbors' house, its lights off.

I could have shrieked like a scared little girl. I could have burst into tears on the spot. And truthfully, I was frightened enough in that split-second to realistically do either one of those things. But in addition to being frightened, I was also angry. And so while the interlopers fled across my yard to their escape, I bellowed at the top of my lungs the first thing that came to mind:

"Get the F#%! out from under my porch, you a$$holes!"

And then I held up my phone, which I had conveniently decided to bring outside with me, and pretended to punch in some numbers. "I'm calling the cops!" I screamed. "I've got your license plate number!"

I'm surprised nobody called the cops on me, really, for standing outside making a racket. It was a nice night, and I swear every single window in the neighborhood was open. And it was only 9:15, so I'm betting most of my neighbors were still awake. Of course they hadn't seen what had gone down under the porch, so they probably think I'm this crazy lunatic who stands outside and cusses. Or that I was having some vicious fight with my husband (which probably fits in with their suspicion that he's a slave-driving tyrant who makes me mow). Either way, I'm sure everyone's opinion of me has gone down a couple of notches.

But I was just protecting my turf, y'all. And what was I supposed to say? They trampled my flowers. 

Hey Look, a Poem!

Some bloggers have the foresight to write their posts out in advance, so they'll always have one ready. But not me. No, I fly by the seat of my pants and blog off the top of my head. Which means that if a.) there's nothing in my head, or b.) I get interrupted a bazillion times, there's no daily blog post. Today was one of those days that I tried and tried and tried to write a nice coherent post - but it's like some cosmic force is working against me. So I just dashed off a poem instead, based on this morning's actual events. Hope you enjoy it more than I did!


I wanted to blog - I sat down to do it -
But then I smelled poop, and I had to get to it.
A big diaper blowout, smushed all out the top,
Means additional laundry - the crap never stops.

I wanted to blog - I sat down to do it -
But the shelf got knocked over, and I had to get to it.
A busted-up plant pot, dirt coating the floor,
And the dog tracking through it just scattered it more.

I wanted to blog - I sat down to do it -
But then I heard splashing, and I had to get to it.
Two-year-old in the toilet, arms up to the pits,
Take a deep breath, Mommy, don't have a fit.

I wanted to blog - I sat down to do it -
But the dog wanted out, and I had to get to it.
'Cause when she needs to go, she doesn't wait,
And a puddle of pee I cannot tolerate.

I wanted to blog - I sat down to do it -
But the kids were too quiet, and I had to get to it.
If there's one thing I've learned, when my kids are around,
Sometimes silence is worse than the loudest of sounds.

I wanted to blog - I sat down to do it -
But life interrupted, and I had to get to it.
Squabbles to mediate, children to feed,
Dishes and laundry and phone calls and need.

I wanted to blog. I sat down to do it.
Here was my chance, so I had to get to it. 
A precious few minutes ticked by on the clock ...
And I still didn't blog. Damn you, writer's block!

I'm Incredibly Neurotic About Kindergarten

Less than a month, y'all. In less than a month, I'll have my very first school-aged child. My (biggest) little man is going to Kindergarten.

He's excited. But I? Am terrified.

For some reason (most likely my sheer awesomeness) I was never teased about anything in school - not that I remember, anyway. Looking back, that's probably amazing, since I had like a quarter-sized gap in my teeth and eyebrows that made me look like the love child of Brooke Shields and Groucho Marx. (And you guys have seen my hair.)

Plus my mom dressed me in outfits like this:

Seriously, Mom? The collar and the bow? REALLY?

Anyway, for whatever reason (miracle?), I never had to worry about bullies or feel self-conscious - but I always felt sorry for the kids who did. And now that Colin is getting ready to start school, the thought of him being teased or made to feel sad - especially while I'm not there to protect him - just petrifies me. 

He's never been an outcast, exactly, but he's never totally fit in anywhere with other kids his age. I never sent him to preschool - something I fear may have been a mistake, for the social aspect if nothing else. But, like, at the playground or Sunday school or wherever else there are kids, Colin always wants to hang out with the adult in charge. He endlessly watches surgeries and plant documentaries on YouTube and tends to talk about those ... which makes the other kids (and sometimes the grownups too) look at him like he's completely crazy. 

And he stutters. It's fairly mild, and it comes and goes, but it's there. I'm so used to it that I hardly notice it most of the time - but I see the looks on the faces of waitresses and grocery store checkers when he's talking to them and he strains to get a word or two out. Their expressions always change. Sometimes they look like they think he's joking, sometimes they look like they're listening harder in order to understand him, but very few people look like they don't notice. Reason number 1,082 that I'm scared for him to be around people who might tease him.    

Now, for the record, let me just say that I love my son's quirks. All these things are endearing to me, and to everyone else who loves him: Colin just wouldn't be Colin if he were any other way. But I'm afraid that other kids might see them as reasons to tease. He's so gentle and passive that I'm afraid he'll be targeted, and won't do or say anything about it, and it'll just make him miserable.  

The icing on the cake? He's begging me, begging me, to let him grow his hair out like Justin Bieber's for school:

The problem is, this is Colin's hair:

I'm betting Justin Bieber was a lot more tamely coiffed as a baby.

I never fully understood why mothers cried on their children's first day of school, and I'm still not completely sure: is it that "my baby is growing up" feeling? Or are all mommies as neurotic and worried as me, afraid that they're sending their little lamb off to a lions' den? Am I just, like, being overdramatic?

Advice and experiences, please!  

Just Wait 'Til You Have Kids!

My mom - along with, like, 90 bazillion other moms out there - has always enjoyed saying, "Just wait until you have your own kids!" I think she secretly relished in the thought that someday, years in the future, I would realize with perfect clarity how much hell she went through.

And now that I do have kids of my own, sure enough, I've got a sneaking suspicion that I'm being karmically punished for the irritating things I heaped upon my mom when I was a child. Which gave me an idea: maybe if I apologize to my mom for some of my worst infractions now, I won't be punished for them later. Because I don't know how many more poo-smeared fiascos I can take.

So without further ado ... Mother dear, I give you this public apology for the following misdeeds:

- Painting my dollhouse with nail polish. Yes, Mom, I did realize it was salon polish. I stood right there as you paid like thirteen dollars for the "good stuff" as opposed to the two bucks you'd have usually forked over. But the fact that it was a salon brand means nothing to a four-year-old ... especially a four-year-old who was intrigued by the round bottle. And who also had a dollhouse that would look SUPER AWESOME painted with such a fabulous mauve! You have to admit, it looked smashing on that lime-green plastic table.

- Ordering $75 worth of toys C.O.D. Hey, I was only seven, and all I knew was that I couldn't write a check or use a credit card. So I chose the only other option - cash on delivery - to order my Samantha doll some kick-ass accessories. She needed a lunchbox and a backpack and schoolbooks, Mom. Geez. I guess you're pretty lucky that they didn't let me complete the transaction because I (obviously) wasn't eighteen.

- Moving 90% of our belongings into the (muddy) back yard while you were at work. Okay, in retrospect it was a pretty stupid thing to do. But I was almost certain that our house was heating up somewhere within the insulation, and was sure to blow up any minute.* I was trying to save our stuff, damn it!

*I may or may not have come to that conclusion when I held my Hypercolor socks up to the wall and they changed color.  

- Putting eggs in your shampoo. I was just playing "mix" with my friend Bobbie - the same Bobbie who helped me move all our stuff into the yard. We were creating a whole line of beauty products. Those eggs were to turn your boring old shampoo into a nourishing protein pack! Ever thought of just being grateful that your daughter cared about the health of your hair? Huh Mom? HUH?

- Dyeing my hair purple. And red. And blue. And green. And shaving the underside of it off. And letting my friends use our patio to dye their hair said colors while you were at work, thus unfairly saddling you with the scorn of those friends' parents because you "let us" do it at our house.

- Lying about my first serious boyfriend's age. You nearly had a heart attack when I told you he was eighteen, so can you imagine what would have taken place if I'd told you that he was actually twenty-one?! I was just protecting (myself) you from a major freakout. Because, like, I was a grown woman of fourteen years old and I knew everything, duh. Your inevitable forbidding of our dating would've like ruuuuuined my liiiiiiife!

There you go, Mom. I'm sorry for all that stuff ... especially now that I'm worried it'll come back to haunt me!

Uphill, Both Ways

When I was little, I used to marvel at how old my mom was (because when you're five, someone in her late 30s seems positively ancient). It's because she'd tell me all these stories about how candy once cost a penny, phone numbers were only a few digits long, "gay" meant happy and "fag" meant cigarette, and pterodactyls used to chase her home from school. Okay. Maybe not the pterodactyls, but you get the point: the world was much different when my mom was a little girl.

Fast-forward to now, and I'm the one that's old. My kids think it's mind-boggling that I grew up without the Internet. I had to use encyclopedias to learn stuff, and - gasp - the library, where I looked stuff up in a non-computerized card catalog! (Dewey Decimal System, anyone?) I used an actual paper phone book when I wanted to prank call look up someone's number. And speaking of phones, you wanna know something I find hilarious? Like virtually every other child for the past, oh, thousand years or so, my kids have one of these:

But you know what they call it? A car. They call it a car. Because it has wheels. And because they have never seen a corded, rotary phone. The only phones they're familiar with are small, cordless, and have buttons to push. So their toy doesn't look like a "real" phone to them, hence the reason why they pull it around the house shouting "Vroom!" and "Beep beep!"

I'm going to get to tell my kids that I remember life before voicemail. That I used to have to actually stay tethered to the wall when I talked on the telephone. That I recieved my first cell phone for high school graduation, and that it was the size of a brick (and just as heavy) with a long-ass antenna. That my family had an 8-track player, and I remember when cassette tapes replaced 8-tracks, and then when CDs replaced cassettes. That I remember when VCRs and microwaves were fancy and expensive. That the soda machine at my dad's office dispensed tall glass bottles. That I didn't even know what an e-mail address was until I was in high school. And that, when I started driving, gas cost like 85 cents a gallon.

It's really gonna make me look old in their eyes, y'all.

Some of it even makes me laugh in amazement. Like the fact that inspired this whole post: I was telling Colin that when I was in elementary school, if you behaved badly enough, you got spanked. At school. With a wooden paddle that hung in the Principal's office. Can you imagine if any Principal tried to spank a kid these days?

It's crazy to think how much has changed since 1985, when I started Kindergarten. That's only 25 years - in the grand scheme of things, not all that long. I can only imagine what it's going to be like by the time my boys are in high school. I'll look totally archaic when they trade their backpacks for jet packs.

Parentese: a Primer

Did you know I'm bilingual? That's right. I have two languages in my vast verbal repertoire. (Marvel at my mad linguistic skillz.) There's English, which is my native tongue ... and then there's a language that I picked up a few years ago.

I call it Parentese.

Parentese is actually a common form of communication, and can be found in most households with children, though the dialects vary from family to family. It is used when one parent is talking to another and becomes second nature after a while.

One particular form of Parentese includes lots of spelling, which is handy for a.) avoiding embarrassing questions, and b.) withholding information from children.*

Example A: "Did you remember to hide the c-o-n-d-o-m-s?"

Example B: "As soon as the kids n-a-p, I'm going to eat the last of their c-a-n-d-y."

The spelling aspect comes in handy during the holiday season, such as when you're in a store and see a gift idea but the kids are within earshot: "Did you see that little pack of c-a-r-s? It would be a perfect gift from S-a-n-t-a."

*Note: this form only works with small children. Never use it around a kid who is even close to school-aged, even if you're not sure they can spell, lest something like this happen.

Speakers of Parentese are highly intuitive to their fellow speakers, especially those with whom they use the language most: their co-parent. Vague gestures sometimes replace entire words, yet the co-parent naturally understands. This is useful for situations where mentioning a word out loud would almost certainly cause demands and/or pandemonium.

Example: "Did you bring the pacifier?" becomes, "Did you bring the ..." accompanied by a nonspecific gesture in the general mouth area. Subsequently, "Of course I did, it's only like the most important tool in our shutting-up-the-baby arsenal, I would never forget it, it's in the front pocket of the bag where it always is, duh," becomes, "Yep," perhaps accompanied by a nod.

Alternately, there's communication through implication: "Did you get you-know-who's you-know-what?" This is found most commonly among advanced speakers of the language, especially those with multiple children, and can be difficult for an outsider to decipher.

Parentese also includes lots of nonverbal communication cues, such as ...

-The "Don't say it!" eye-widen
-The nearly-imperceptible head shake
-The "Did the baby just say a bad word?" sideways glance
-The disapproving lip-purse
-The extra-loud throat clear

If you're unfamiliar with Parentese, and worry that you won't be able to pick it up, take heart: it comes naturally. That's why you don't see any Parentese-English (Spanish, German, French, whatever) dictionaries, and no one ever says, "I'm taking Parentese lessons."

Life is your Parentese lesson. You'll learn soon enough.

Havin' a Breakdown

So you guys missed me during my little blog hiatus, right? I can tell on account of the one dozens of "where are you?" comments and the zero tons of worried e-mails. Well, I’m back, and I've been doing so many amazing, life-changing things* that I don't even know where to start.

*And by "amazing" and "life-changing" I mean slightly more exciting than diapers and laundry.

The primary reason I put the blog on hold, though, was for a surprise trip to Missouri to see my best friends. I get so tired of those hussies (and I say that with the utmost fondness) doing things without me. The nerve! Just because I live four hours away, I get left out of everything? Hmmmph. So when I heard that Betsy, Denni, Jenna, and Lisa were going to a crab-leg buffet - a CRAB LEG BUFFET, y'all - I was really sad. And right after I posted something on Facebook about craving crab legs, too.

"Iotiredamiingoutonerythiiiiing," I sobbed to Curtis.

"You're ... so tired of ... missing out on everything?" he guessed.

"Yeeeeeess!" I wailed.

"So let's drive to Missouri this weekend, and you won't have to miss out on those crab legs," he suggested sweetly.

I swear, at that moment the sun brightened and a hallelujah chorus sounded. My husband may spend ridiculously long stretches on the toilet playing with his iPhone, but by golly, he's a pretty awesome guy. As we made our weekend plans, we decided to take it one step further and make it a big surprise. I love surprising people - especially my friends! This was gonna be SO awesome!

Friday morning came and we headed out. We motored happily down the road for about an hour. But the happy motoring was interrupted when Curtis said, "Uh-oh. We've just lost all our oil pressure." And sure enough, the gauge was on zero. Within a minute or two, there was an ominous knocking sound from underneath the hood.

Fortunately we were close to a small town with a mechanic right off the highway. So we pulled in, and I slumped grumpily in my seat as Curtis and the owner poked around. I was praying that it was something that could be easily fixed and we'd be on our way - but then I heard the owner say, "You won't make it back home, let alone to Missouri."

This is why we had to fork over two hundred bucks to get our Jeep towed back home. And this is why we had to call Curtis's mom to come and get us all the way from Missouri, which is why we ended up waiting in a little cafe for three hours. But there was a bright side to all this fiasco:  a.) the kids were actually good, even with the wait; b.) my grandma's car was sitting unused in her garage in Missouri, and we'd been planning on buying it anyway; and c.) despite our HUGE unplanned detour, I'd still make it just in time to surprise my friends.

The rest of the trip went relatively smoothly. I hadn't planned on telling anyone I was coming in, but I realized that considering the circumstances, I'd need some help - so I let one of my girls in on the secret. Jenna was the only one who I could trust to keep it under her hat, and without her assistance I'd never have been able to pull off my fantastic surprise. She just about exploded trying to hold in the news, but she managed not to leak it to anyone.  

I had jumped through hoop after hoop that day, and at one point hadn't even been sure I'd make it - but I ended up in the parking lot of Denni's apartment just in time to make my grand entrance as they left for the buffet.

Tow truck - $200
Lunch at the cafe while we waited for a ride - $45
Photographic proof of just how much my friends love me ....

... absolutely, positively priceless.


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