Our Lady of Fatima... Pray for us.
Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament... Hear us.
Our Lady of the Rosary... Strengthen us.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Funny Guy Friday... Rules is rules...

    Funny Guy Friday is written by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy.
    Michael Irvin is a wide receiver that played for the Dallas Cowboys.
    I hated the Dallas Cowboys.
    He attended college at the University of Miami. "The U" as they annoyingly refer to it. The U was full of talented self-professed gangsters that attempted to... and often succeeded... in intimidating their opponents. I hated the University of Miami.
    Irvin had one of the worst reputations in the NFL. Often boastful and loud and frequently in trouble with the league. I hated guys that acted that way!
    Michael Irvin was the type of guy that I loathe.
    Having said that. Michael Irvin may just be one of my favorite players of all time.
    Why? you ask?
    Michael Irvin was on the very first fantasy football teams that I ever owned.
    He was awesome that year, leading the Palumbo Patriots to the championship in the inaugural year of the BSFL. The League initials were derived from the founder of the league, Barry Smith. Either his initials... or another word that has the initials BS... I was never sure.
    Barry dubbed himself The Commish and ruled with an iron fist. He was not kind, and he was not benevolent! RULES IS RULES was his mantra... and always in caps!
    We were ahead of our time.
    The first year of the BSFL, we met at The Commish's house and immediately retreated to his basement. There were no computers, no internet, no cell phones, no shows dedicated to "the top fifty running backs for fantasy football." And no computer drafting. The Commish took a roll of paper and taped it to the wall.  We walked up with a magic marker (sharpies had not yet been invented) and we wrote down our picks. The pressure was on to not only make a good selection but to do so with good penmanship.
    There were twelve teams whose owners were manned with football magazines that were purchased... typically on the morning of the day of the draft. Magazines were necessary so we could figure out who the hell we were drafting after the fifth round. It took hours to get through the draft and guys would draft players that were injured and out for the year or guys that were retired or my personal favorite... drafting guys that had already been drafted. That would typically consist of someone saying...
      With my last pick of the night, I will take Dan Marino. I am surprised he is not already taken!
      He was taken at 8:15 with the third pick of the draft, you idiot. Please, dear God, just pick someone... it is 2:30 in the morning! 
      There was no computer scoring system. We had to get the newspapers out on Monday or Tuesday and calculate the scores for ourselves and the person we were competing with that week. We had occasional controversies but the league policed itself. For instance, one playoff week my kicker attempted an extra point but the snap was bad and he never got the chance. A missed extra point was -1 point. This; however, was not a missed extra point as it was never attempted and I won the week by one point.
      Naturally, a protest was filed.
      Typically, all protests would be submitted to the Commish and he, like Roger Goodell, ruled with an iron fist. He was my competitor that week so he agreed to submit the protest to another very smart, very intelligent member of the BSFL (who also happened to be a fellow member of the Bar... legal Bar not the other bar).
      I am sad to say that I actually submitted a legal brief on the subject... obviously, it was very persuasive!
    By the way, the arbitrator was very smart and very intelligent man because he ruled in my favor issuing a well thought out, well reasoned opinion siding with the side of justice and the American way!!!
    We had a great time with the BSFL.
    Twelve teams but thirteen guys. One team was a brother combo... two knuckleheads that couldn't make a decision to go out of the room to pee without meeting with each other three or four times. On one occasion they called another team and proposed a trade. When the trade was accepted, they accused the guy of trying to rip them off... on the trade that they proposed! Those two only lasted a year or two. Not sure if they quit or were asked to leave. I am guessing they were asked to leave because it would have taken them at least four seasons to come to the agreement to leave the league!
    Every year we would get together three times. Once for the draft, once for a mid-season get together and once for the the season finale at some restaurant where cash prizes were awarded and the bottom six treated the top six to dinner and drinks. It was always good to be an eater as opposed to a buyer!
    I had a lot of success during my time with the BSFL. The inaugural championship and a couple second place finishes. Most years I was a eater.  It didn't really matter if you were a winner or a loser because it was always good to get everyone together to talk about what else... fantasy football!
    All of this is fresh in my mind because my son is now competing in a couple of fantasy leagues... but it is not the same. Last year, he drafted his team in the car while were driving on the Ohio Turnpike. The entire draft took about forty five minutes and it was all done on line. If he did not make a selection in two minutes, the computer selected for him. Once the season starts, he will log onto a website to check his scores and he will never have any contact with any of the other guys in the league.
    What is fun about that?
    Nobody to yell at when they select Aaron Rodgers for the second time in the eleventh round and proclaim I got a sleeper in the eleventh round. Nobody to protest a scoring error to. No-one to laugh at when they select Peyton Manning to lead their squad through the 2017 season only to be reminded that he retired two years ago. Okay, I'll take Ryan Tannehill... he's good, right? 
     Yep, he is great... but he is out for the year, you idiot!!!
     Not to sound like an old curmudgeon but... our way was way better. I know that watching the games and keeping track of your players during the season is going to be fun for folks, but there is no personal interaction with other guys in the league. Of course, the lack of interaction is perfect for a generation of kids that never talk to each other but spend every second texting.  Never a conversation but constant contact.
     It is all very idiotic to me!
     They need to do the draft in person. They need to meet periodically. They need to laugh at each other and make fun of their stupid draft picks. They need to do it the way that we used to do it.
     They need to draft a guy they hate... from a team that they hate... from a college that they hate... and then fall in love with that guy!
     This is the way we did it. This is the way they should do it. It has to be this way.
     After all... a very wise man once proclaimed RULES IS RULES!  

Friday, July 21, 2017

Funny Guy Friday... Live by the... stats?

     Funny Guy Friday is written by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy.,,
     My boys have been altar servers for a few years now. Typically they serve at the same mass but occasionally, one of them will fill in for someone and only one of them will be up on the altar. Several Sundays ago was one of those days. Matthew was a "fill in" at the 8 o'clock Mass.
      I love the 8 o'clock Mass! It is the Reader's Digest version of our weekly obligation. It is quick and typically sans music... except for the concluding hymn. Not that I don't like music, I do. But occasionally, you just want to spend a little quiet time with the Lord, get your blessings, and hit the road.
      Cheryl goes to adoration every Sunday at 8:00 a.m., so it was just Matthew and I. After the Mass, while walking to our car, Matthew was singing the concluding hymn.
      Live by the Cross... Dumdee dum dum dum.  He sang the first line but faked the rest because he didn't know those words. Then it occurred to me that he didn't know any of the words. I gently advised him.
     It's not Live by the Cross, knucklehead. It's Lift High the Cross... Dumdee dum dum dum. I didn't know the rest of the words either, but we both knew Dumdee dum dum dum. But at least I knew it was Lift High and not Live By!
     Matthew insisted he was correct, but he has a habit of singing the wrong words to songs. I correct him all the time because I don't want him embarrassing me when he sings out loud in public. He knows it drives me crazy, so he does it on purpose. At least I think he does it on purpose.
     Anyway, Matthew was pretty insistent so I began to doubt myself  This is not typical because I am right most of the time. Okay, sometimes I am wrong but I am never in doubt. I have heard that song sung hundreds of times. So many times, in fact, that I should probably know the second line.
     There was only one way to settle this... we would ask Cheryl. She knows all the churchy songs. She immediately advised that it is...
     Lift High the Cross
     The Love of Christ proclaimed
     'Til all the world adore
     His sacred name 
     She knew the part in dispute, but she clearly did not know the Dumdee dum dum dum part.
     Vindicated! I won. I beat Matthew. I cherish these victories.
     Why? Because it is becoming clearer and clearer that these victories will occur less and less as he gets older, bigger, stronger and smarter.
     It is the middle of summer and Matthew has completed his junior year and is in the middle of summer ball. Matthew played for his high school's varsity team and all things considered, had a pretty good season. The team did well and Matthew had some good games along the way. I believe among his several hits, he finished with five triples and seven doubles. And after a slow start to the summer season, he just went crazy down at a tournament in Florida.
     I love watching him play and breaking the games down afterward.    
     Sometimes, during some of our discussions, he asks me about my high school team, and if we could compete with his current high school team.
     Compete... We would beat you guys! I declare with great confidence.
     No way, he says with equal confidence.
     Yes way... In fact, we could have beaten last year's team. That was a bold statement because that team was pretty good.
     Those guys won three championships... you are crazy!
     Crazy?  Well not to burst your bubble but we were State champs, 22-0, selected as the number one team in the nation by Easton Bat Company in 1981.
      I was told this back in the day by one of our coaches and have repeated this line on numerous occasions but I have never actually fact checked it... I am pretty sure it is true.  Even if it is not true, it has been repeated so many times that I am officially announcing its truthfulness... Sort of like a political talking point.
     Matthew was not convinced by our lofty rankings and demanded that we go position by position and see how you old guys stack up against us.
     I can do that... but you can't! Because between the two of us, I am the only one that saw both teams play and I can assure you that we match up against you pretty well.  I am not sure what you think... we were not all fifty-year-old-out-of-shape men when we were in high school. We were all in shape back then, just like you guys.
     That last line is not necessarily true.
     That is one thing I can say with certainty: These kids work out all year long and they are big. Even the little guys are big. When I was in high school I was 5'9" and 135 lbs. Now that may surprise you if you ever see my high school program listing me at 5'9" and 160 lbs. Matthew is 5'8 3/4" (although he denies it... just a smudge shorter than I... another win for me) and a solid 170 lbs. We had some big kids, but overall, today's kids are much bigger and in much better shape.
     When we ran through the lineups and got to second base, he immediately declares that You were not better than Dave Harding!
     Dave Harding may... and I say may because I like the kid... have been our right fielder! Ultimately, I get to the one thing I love to repeat... We had four guys who were All Met in my senior year... Best players at their position in the entire Washington Metropolitan Area.
     Ah, the All Met card. I love to repeat this because as you might have guessed... I was one of the four.  That's right boys and girls, All Met Second Baseman in the Washington Post and the Washington Star! Lest you think that my brothers let that go to my head, one reminded me that all the real good infielders were playing shortstop!
     As an aside... Unfortunately, I peaked in high school but I don't ever tell that part of the story. And I think the Harding kid was just named a Freshman All American at Princeton!
     Forget what you just read and move on to read more about my high school greatness.
     Every now and then, Matthew will ask if I were better than he.
     Yes, I was! I was as good a fielder as anyone and hit well over .400. I led our team in walks and stolen bases. Yes, I am sorry to say, I was better.
     Now, truth be told... I did hit "well over" .400 (to many .405 is well over .400) but I was kind of a Punch and Judy hitter.  I dinked and dunked my way around. I also had a great relationship with our lovely scorekeeper who may have hooked me up on a hit or two along the way!
     Shout out to Tracy Hooper!
     Matthew, with his five triples during his Junior season had five more triples than I had my senior year and with his seven doubles, had six more doubles than I had my entire senior year.  And truth be told, my one double was a single that I took second on an overthrow... Thanks again Tracy!
     The true story is that every hit my senior year was a single. That would be kind of embarrassing if not for the fact that they were some of the hardest hit singles you ever saw.
     The other thing that Matthew does not understand is that his teams face much better pitching than we did. They see guys throwing in the mid to upper 80's and some in the 90's almost every game. We saw two all year! I am sad to say that I hit well under .400 (.250 is, in fact, well under .400) against those guys.
     Alright, full disclosure... We would have been competitive against Matthew's high school teams but we were not better. And I will agree that if we played in their league, we would not have gone undefeated. But I still like to cling to this delusion.  Why you ask?... Because it is getting to be all that I have. Matthew is bigger than I was, faster than I was, and stronger than I was. I just don't want him to know this. For instance, when he tells me he squatted 265 pounds, I respond that when I was in high school I squatted 270. He may be on to me though because he mumbles... You never squatted in you entire life!
     This is true, but if I had, it would have been 270... maybe even 275!
     I have to stop. This is bad. I have to face reality.
     Okay, I will say it once and for all. Matthew is bigger, Matthew is stronger and Matthew is faster.
     There I did it!
     Wow, that is liberating. I feel pretty good about myself... I think that I have turned the corner.
     Of course,  it easy to feel good about myself because I can say with complete confidence that I was a much better fielder than he will ever be.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Funny Guy Friday... Religion and politics, if you will...

    Funny Guy Friday is written by my husband Mark.  So... I married a funny guy....
    This may be my most controversial FGF ever.
    Full of politics and religion.
    Before I get started, I will acknowledge that some of my opinions might surprise some of you and that this may not be as funny as some of my previous posts. I will further acknowledge that my opinions could be totally wrong... but I don't think so.
     This all started about six weeks ago when Cheryl and the boys went to a Saturday evening Mass.  I stayed home and was not present when it was announced that the pastor from our church for more than eighteen years was getting transferred to a different church. Now, it is not uncommon for priests to get transferred; in fact, it happens every three years or so. But our Father Parry seemed to have dodged this bullet for several cycles.  I always surmised that he had some compromising photos of the Pope or something.
     Apparently, he does not!
     Noah was first to deliver the news to me. I think Noah was able to hold the big news for about three seconds before he blurted it out. I am sad to say that my initial reactions were not shock or surprise, but instead I immediately began to wonder why the archdiocese did not consult with me as head of the Sacred Heart Labor Day Festival before making such a drastic move. Second, why, at this time, would the archdiocese elect to move him... after such a long period of time.
     Father Parry is a good man who did a beautiful job of leading our traditional Catholic parish... he did a beautiful job... I mean it, he did a beautiful, wonderful job of leading our congregation.
      Now I repeated that three times for a reason. Father Parry has this teeny tiny... itty bitty... you wouldn't notice unless you listened real hard... habit of repeating things. Three times. He does... he says things three times if he feels it is important... three times, right out there, he will say it... four if he deems it real important.  Yep, you would hardly notice!
      As far as Father Parry goes, a few things are universal. First, as I repeated three times, he is a good man. Second, he has done a wonderful job of guiding this parish spiritually and financially. I have some inside knowledge of the church finances because as you might have heard, I was the head of the Labor Day Festival that generated tons of cash... well, maybe not tons of cash but a pretty hefty sum... maybe not hefty but nothing to sneeze at... I suppose you could sneeze but we turned a profit... we never lost money... Hey, it was really more of a fun-raiser than a fundraiser.
      Back to Father Parry... Third, and most important, he loved this church.  And by this church I mean both Sacred Heart with its history and its beauty and the Catholic church with her history and her beauty.
      So... back to my original thoughts of why. Well, at this time, there is a contemplated sale of property that surrounds Sacred Heart to developers. My understanding is that it spans more than a hundred acres and involves tens of millions of dollars. The Jesuits own the property, and I had heard Father Parry mention in the past that he would have liked to have had Sacred Heart purchase a portion of that property to expand Sacred Heart's cemetery and to eventually build among other things, a small section of housing for the elderly.  The Jesuits weren't selling.
       For those of you that don't know, Jesuits are an order or congregation of men of the Catholic Church. They engage in ministry, education, intellectual research and cultural pursuits. Unfortunately, they engage in ministry, education, intellectual research and cultural pursuits. I refer to Jesuits as the section of the Catholic Church that doesn't really like the Catholic Church. In my opinion, you rarely
find a conservative Catholic who loves the history and the teachings of the Catholic faith, who defines himself as a Jesuit.
     Pope Francis is a Jesuit.
     I digress.
     I could digress further... but I won't.
     As I mentioned, the Jesuits are now interested in selling this property to developers. It is a bit of a controversy in the city of Bowie because of infrastructure, water rights, and the typical argument of developing and when is enough enough. I am the first to admit that I am not an expert on local
politics, but I read... and I listen... and suffice to say, it is a fairly big debate in the city of Bowie. Preserving the land is probably more of an issue for the people who belong to Sacred Heart Church. And it is probably even more of an issue to Father Parry because of his love for the history and sacred nature of this holy land.
     So my theory is that the archdiocese has no problem with the sale of the land by the Jesuits. My theory is the archdiocese wants no interference with the sale of the land by the Jesuits,  My theory is that the archdiocese is willing to help resolve problems that may hinder the sale of the land by the Jesuits.
      Thus the transfer of the potential fly in the ointment.
      Like I said, I could be wrong but I don't think so. If nothing else, the optics are bad, but I guess the archdiocese does not really care about the optics. There is money to be made and if the local parish suffers, so be it. If a dedicated priest gets inconvenienced (and I think it is more than an inconvenience), so be it.
      Oh by the way, this past week, our associate pastor announced that he too is being transferred. He is actually becoming the administrator of a different church in Bowie, so it appears to be a promotion for him. Not so much a good thing for Sacred Heart, as we are now losing our parish priest from the last eighteen years and our associate pastor.
     Hmmmm, does that make any sense to transfer them both at the same time? Wouldn't you want the associate pastor to stick around for a few months to help with the new priest coming into town. Or if you are going to transfer the associate pastor to a new parish, wouldn't you keep the old priest around to continue his good work and provide consistency to the parish, if you will?
     I have heard we are not getting a new associate pastor so wouldn't that mean keep the old guy who knows how everything works and who in the parish can do what to help out if, in fact, we are not getting a new associate priest? It all could just be one big coincidence but remember the optics of it all!
      Cheryl often says that God has the master plan and Father Parry is going to a church that is also affiliated with an elementary school. It is Cheryl's theory that God knows that the children of that school need Father Parry more than Sacred Heart does. She could be right. I certainly am not going to argue with God... or Cheryl... but I think there could be more to it. I would also point out that Cheryl's point of view and my theory are not mutually exclusive.
     This is not the first time that I have struggled with decisions made by the leadership of the Catholic Church. I often joke with Cheryl that we are one more bad decision away from becoming Lutheran. If you know Cheryl, you know that she hates that joke. If you know me, you know that I like to repeat that joke. But Cheryl always reminds me that no man or men run the Catholic Church and there is going to be a day of reckoning.  Then she mutters something about Vatican II and going to a Latin mass... "The way the Mass was intended."
      So we are not leaving the Catholic Church nor are we leaving Sacred Heart. We love everything about that place and I am sure we will like our new priest. I don't know his name but I lovingly refer to him as Father Everyoneisgoingtohateme.
      This, of course is not true. The people of Sacred Heart Parish will open up their hearts and their homes to the new priest. After all, we have, for the past eighteen years, heard God's message loud and clear. We will accept God's plan because He knows better than we.  God is all knowing and all powerful and he has a plan that may not fit in with Man's plan. Who are we to substitute what we think should happen versus what God knows is going to happen.
     We have heard it once, twice, three times. And if it was really important, we got it a fourth time!
     God bless you Father Parry! We will see you at your farewell Mass this Sunday at noon, but we will miss seeing you every week.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Funny Guy Friday... Swimming pools and movie stars...

     Funny Guy Friday is written by my husband Mark... So, I married a funny guy.
     Two recent events have prompted me to make yet another comeback to FGF. One shines a light on how great a coach I am, and the other shines a light on how my many talents are an attraction to very cool and very famous people. Both events have a teeny, tiny, wee bit of a connection to my youngest son Noah and his friends.
     The first story involves Noah and his good friend Joe.
     It started last December during a drive home from my office Christmas Party. Noah and Joe, being the enterprising middle-schoolers that they are, had spent most of the night working in the coat room but had several opportunities to mingle amongst the crowd. At the end of a long night, I was driving them and my high school boy home when I broke the silence. Joe is a swimmer so I inquired about his swimming career. He politely told me it was going well and that he had a meet coming up the following morning. I found that a bit odd since it was near midnight at the time. Joe assured me he would be okay.
     The conversation went something like this:
     Shouldn't you be home in bed... I see where Michael Phelps sleeps in a pressurized chamber and sticks to a strict diet before he swims.  You go to parties, eat chicken wings and stay out 'til midnight before your matches.
     They're called meets, Mr. Palumbo.
     Whatever... meets... matches... whatever...
     I should be okay. Two of my main competitors have aged up.
     So these guys were better than you and would beat you.
     Not really... Well, one guy beat me once.
     Soooo you're their main competition and they are just like everyone else you lap around the pool?
     Yeah, I guess so. (Slight giggle)
     Pretty confident, I like that.  So you win most of your matches?
     Meets? Yes, Mr. Palumbo. (giggling)
     So tomorrow, you will show up late, still smelling of bourbon and chicken wings from your night of partying, step up to the launch pad, strip down to your speedo, jump in and crush all those other little swimmers?
     Yes, probably Mr. Palumbo. (still giggling).

     This was intriguing to me for two reasons. He was remarkably confident without being the least bit cocky and I had heard some rumblings that he was quite the swimmer. Being a bit of a competitive swimmer myself, I continued my inquiry:
     Do they have State rankings in Maryland?
     So, where do you rank.
     Do they have Regional rankings like East Coast or something?
     Yes. Mid Atlantic region.
     Soooo, where do you rank?

     At this point, my boys were very impressed. They knew he was good but they had no idea he was this good.  I, on the other hand, was not as easily impressed. I continued...

     How about Nationally?
     Well, nationally, I am only fourth.

     Suddenly, it was just awkward for everyone. First, I felt embarrassed for my two boys as they oohed an ahhed at this news... as if it were some big accomplishment. Second, Joe was only ranked fourth in the nation in the twelve and under age group, and I knew he could do better... all he needed was a little help from a new coach. Someone with bold ideas and a knack for building champions. That's right... Joe needed me!
     I pointed out that nobody walks around holding up four fingers claiming, "We're Number 4!"  The goal is to be Number 1!

     Joe, I am willing to give up everything to take over your swimming career.  Here are just a few quick questions and a few suggestions... First, do you shave your head?
     No. (giggling)
     Next time I see you, I want to see a shaved head... That will cut off some time. You have to commit!
     I do wear a swim cap.
     Get rid of the cap. Commit to our cause, Joe. You have to be all in if you're going to swim for me. That or get a cap with my law firm's logo on the side. Cross-pollinating my business interests is a good idea.
     Do you do that flappy-arm thing that I see swimmers doing before they jump in the water?
     No (giggling).
     Well, that's gonna cut some time off too! Start flapping before every race.
     Do you shadow box in front of the competition? Like that guy who raced against Phelps in the Olympics?
     No. That guy lost to Phelps?
     Has Michael Phelps aged out of your age bracket?
     Yes. (giggling)
     Then shadow box until you run into him at a match.
     Finally, and this may be the biggest advice I can give you... SWIM A LITTLE BIT FASTER!
     Well, Mr. Palumbo, I already have a coach.
     Who is your coach? I am not sure this guy is on the cutting edge like I am. Does he know anything about swimming!
     Well, I have my regular coach and my mom helps me out also.
     This could get tricky... How is your mom going to take the news that she is fired? I do think we can all agree that this switch is for the best.
     This last exchange did not get a verbal response from Joe, but it did get lots of giggling! I am guessing that Joe was a bit nervous about giving Coach Mom the heave ho! I felt for his mom, but this is business. To keep Joe in his mother's good graces, I suggested that Joe let his dad give her the bad news but that we throw her a bone and let her continue to coach Joe's siblings. I like Joe's mom, but we are going to the next level. It may cost me a friend, but success comes with a cost!
     My son Matthew felt it necessary to interrupt and chime in with his two cents...

     Dad, YOU don't know ANYTHING about swimming!
     This may be true... But I do know about winning!
     I pointed out a little known fact to Matthew:
     I know more about swimming than art, but I coached Noah up to the 16th ranked artist in the twelve-and-under cartooning division. I was working with no talent then and I worked miracles!
     This was a little known fact because I had completely made it up... but it made me feel as if one of my kids had some special talent and I am sure it gave Joe more confidence in my abilities.
      I quickly went back to ignoring my own two boys and turned all my attention back to Joe. I asked if he knew where we were going for the next Olympic competition and he immediately replied... Tokyo.
      Cool, I have never been there.  I said this very matter of factly... as if I had been anywhere.
      Matthew butted in again and turned to Joe and said... no offense, but I hope you don't make it to Tokyo because if you do, my dad will take all the credit.
      You're darn right I will. Who deserves it more than I?  His mom? She's welcome to come but just as an observer.
      So why am I writing about all this now, you might ask. Well, I am happy to report that Joe and I placed third in a national match... meet... whatever... this past week.  We posted some of our best times ever. After only one car drive and a couple of refresher courses along the way, we made great strides... or strokes... or whatever swimmers do when they improve. Just think what we can do when he comes to me full time.
     We have until 2020 to get his head shaved, perfect the arm flapping, shadow box... and to swim just a little bit faster.
     Congratulations to Joe.  Job well done!

     Now the next story involves Noah's friend Casey.
     Casey's uncle is president of some small company up in New York City. I think it is called The New York Stock Exchange. I don't know what they make or manufacture, but people tell me it is a pretty big deal. I don't really care about that, though. What I do care about is the fact that Casey's uncle is good friends with Hugh Jackman.
     That's right... that Hugh Jackman.
     Noah, the mythical 16th ranked cartoonist in the twelve-and-under division, drew a picture of Hugh Jackman's Wolverine character and gave it to Casey.  Casey gave it to his uncle and his uncle gave it to Hugh Jackman.
     Yes, that Hugh Jackman.
     Well, several months went by, and Casey recently met up with Noah and handed him an envelope. Inside the envelope was an autographed photo of Hugh Jackman... yes that Hugh Jackman... with a thank you and some other kind words about Noah and the picture he drew.
     How cool is it that some superstar talks about one of my kids. But even cooler than talking about one of my kids is that he probably talked about me.
     Let's think about how all of this went down for a second.
     My guess is that the New York Stock Exchange guy told Hugh Jackman all about me when he handed him that Wolverine picture that Noah drew.  My friend Hugh... I am just going to call him my friend Hugh from here on out... had to be totally impressed that I was able to teach my kid how to draw. As a result, he probably wants to hang out with me. Who knows, maybe he wants me to teach his kids how to draw.
     Even more awesome... Just imagine if my friend Hugh's kids swim. Hugh is Australian, so I could potentially have two swimmers from two different countries competing in Tokyo.
     If that were to happen, do you know who the big winner would be?
     Well, I don't want to brag or anything, but I am pretty sure that I would be the big winner.  And with my new friend Hugh, I won't miss losing Joe's mom's friendship.
     I guess everyone's a winner, except maybe Joe's mom.
     Maybe I can resolve that if I get her an autographed picture from my friend Hugh.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Funny Guy Friday... Happy Thanksgiving...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark.  So... I married a funny guy.
    I am sitting here at 5:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning smoking a 20 lb. turkey. I have no idea how to do this other than a five minute tutorial from my new secretary's husband. He provided the smoker, the coal chute, the coals, the thermometers, the lighter cubes (boy those things work well) and the five minute tutorial!
    Seemed easy enough to him, but my guess is that he has done this before. Why, you ask, am I doing this for the first time on Thanksgiving day without a test run. Well, we need to keep our oven open for the other 20 lb. turkey to cook in the oven.
    Wow! I hear you thinking... that is a lot of turkey.
    Guess what... that ain't all... my nephew is smoking a 14 lb. turkey and bringing that to the dinner!
    Let me start this story about two months ago. As I have written in the past, my mom is getting older and her mind has a lot of miles on it and does not always work as well as it used to. This is code for she has dementia. She has been living with us for about two years, and things have progressed. There are times of confusion and times of lucidity... but the confusion seems to be more and more frequent.
    Cheryl and I host Thanksgiving every year at our home. Every other year we host my family and every other year we host Cheryl's family. We never cross pollinate families because the last time we did that, it cost Cheryl's dad thousands of dollars at our wedding! He refuses to let that happen again. That or he is still a little frosty that my brother mispronounced their name during the wedding toast.      
     Man, those Wanderers sure do hold a grudge!
     This year is a Palumbo year and I put out a message to the family updating them on my mom's current status and suggesting that it might be a good idea if folks came for Thanksgiving this year. I figured that when we host my family, we get anywhere from thirty to forty people. So if a few more heed my call, we might get forty-five or fifty.
     Cheryl and I can do that standing on our heads.  Here is what we were thinking...  
     My oldest brother Joe, he has seven adult children (all married and located in Maryland, California, North Carolina, Virginia and Canada for goodness sake) and a slew of grandchildren.  Definitely, the locals. There are three of them, probably the Virginia clan. Maybe the North Carolina contingency and no on the San Diego daughter and definitely no on the Canadians. Now, all of them have more kids that we can count but they are all cute so we want them to come.
      My sister Sheree has three adult children (all married and living in Maryland). We figured all but maybe one of their kids would come.
      Then there is Jeff. Four adult children (three married, two with kids and living in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina). Two locals would come. The Virginia son travels with his work and the Carolina kid was a maybe.
     Well, the wild cards were my brother Paul and my sister Michel. Paul lives in Washington state and has four adult children (Washington and Pennsylvania) and Michel lives in Texas and has five adult children (Texas, Florida and California) and a few grandchildren in Florida and Texas. We figured Michel would be a yes with her youngest daughter, Katherine, who has what can only be described as an insane Siamese twin type relationship with our daughter Grace. They are about a year apart and as long as we can remember, whenever they are together, they are by each other's side. They eat together, sit together, sleep together... just a couple of weirdos! But I think they bonded because they both were younger than most of the other grand kids so when the older ones went about their business together, they were left with each other... all alone... bitching and moaning the whole way!
     In fact, one regret that I have as a youngest of six kids is that my kids are all younger than their cousins. They missed the "golden days" when twenty of the twenty seven grand kids were within about eight years of each other. Because I started having kids later than my siblings, only Grace caught the very tail end of that. Mostly spent lamenting (more accurately described in the previous paragraph) with Katherine, that she couldn't do what all her older cousins were doing. Don't ask me to explain the fact that my oldest sister, the oldest in the family, is Katherine's mother. Maybe she just felt guilty about telling me I was adopted when I was a kid and made it up to me by spitting out a kid to keep Gracie company.
     Just as an FYI to Michel, thank you for Katherine but I still am seeing a psychiatrist for my multi personality disorder. Thanks for nothing Kimosabi!
     Anyway, Michel, her husband and Katherine were probable. Paul and his entire family were doubtful. Long trip, oldest daughter just got married and it is a tough week to travel. Maybe their son Sam up in Philly would make it but he has a long time girlfriend and we all know how boyfriends and girlfriends can screw up family plans!
     Well, Michel was the first to respond. Yes for her, her husband and Katherine. Probable for her oldest daughter and no on the other three. Jeff's family was next. Yes on the two locals, yes on the Carolina son with his wife and two boys and no on the Virginia son (traveling to the Bahamas and missing all the fun. Maybe he will find something to do in the Bahamas but I doubt it).
     Sheree got into the act with two children yes and one no.
     Then Joe chimed in. Yes on all but the one daughter in San Diego!
     This is a bit of a game changer. Even the Canadians are coming. Turns out they don't celebrate Thanksgiving in Canada and I am not sure they even have turkeys up there so they had to come home in order to partake! This really spikes the numbers. Seriously, there are a slew of kids that come with this package.  Too many to count and way too many to remember all their names. All cute as can be.
     In fact, I have to say, we all make good looking children. Not a dud in the group!
     Finally, Paul responded with a maybe. Maybe this... maybe that... maybe he hits the lottery, which I doubt he even plays. Maybe not! Probably not. This is a bummer because although I don't really care for Paul... he is my mom's favorite. Something that she used to deny but now freely admits to my angst as I tuck her in at night!
     God I hate him!
     Okay, more people than we expected but we can handle this.
     But the one constant in everyone's life is change. And the changes started to roll in. Paul did not hit the lottery but he and his wife decided to come and bring along two of their Washington  daughters and Sam was coming in from Philly.
     Add five more to the list.
     Then Michel called and her daughter from Los Angeles was making a quick trip to the east coast. Florida son still a no buuuut maybe he may get off work... but she doubted it... buuuut maybe!
     Of course he got off work... and, of course, he is coming with his wife and four kids.
     Add six more.
     Then Sheree threw us a curve ball. She invited her son's wife's parents. Interesting twist... but all are always welcome to our Thanksgiving feast.
     Hi nice to meet you. You know my sister Sheree... My name is Mark and my wife Cheryl and these seventy two people are the rest of my family. Don't worry if you don't remember all their names... I don't. Enjoy your time in our home. 
    These folks better bring a pie!
    Cheryl and Noah started counting and the grand total is seventy five.
    So, what am I thankful for.... Besides my secretary and her husband and their smoker. I am thankful for my family. I am thankful that Cheryl and I are able to care for my mom and that she has moments where all is clear. Thankful that so many have come home to see her. Thankful that we can get together and give thanks to God for a mother that was always there for us.
     In one of her less lucid moments, my mom asked me if she had other kids. I told her yes, that she had six of us. She then asked if she were a good mother.
     I told her that she was the best.
    Today, seventy five of us will let her know exactly how good of a mother that she was.
    Happy Thanksgiving to all. I hope all of you have an opportunity to spend time with your family and give thanks for all that God provides!  

Friday, July 29, 2016

Funny Guy Friday... Negotiating a trade...

     Funny Guy Friday is written by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     It is that time of year... the baseball trade deadline is fast approaching.  Every team has to make the choice whether they want to trade young potential talent for older, more established talent. A good trade will work out for both teams while a bad trade might set a team back for years to come.
     This past week we made our own trade of sorts. Noah was invited by my best friend and his wife,   PJ and Geraldine Smith, to go to an art camp in St. Michael's with their son and another friend. The Smiths recently invested in a home in Saint Michael's, so the boys would stay with them for the week. I have not been to the new home but I am pretty sure it is a small shanty, so the boys will be  suffering through cramped quarters. A little discomfort isn't a bad thing. I thought it would be good for Noah to see how some of the less fortunate kids live.
    Art camp does not seem very interesting to me, but my man Noah was all in. He went off with the notion that it would be fun being bored at art camp and roughing it on the Eastern Shore with his buddies.
     Anyway, the day after Noah left, Grace's boyfriend Brian came for a visit. Cheryl and I decided to take the week and see what, if any talent the kid might possess.  It was not a full-out trade because eventually, I would insist that Brian go back to PA and make Noah return to the bosom of our home, but we were open to giving the switch a chance.
     I have to admit that Brian got off to a good start.
     He recently returned from a missions trip to Mexico City.  While in Mexico, he picked up a few things at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He brought Grace a beautiful rosary made from rose petals and a framed painting of Our Lady for my wife.  Now he said it was a gift for "the family," but it was really for Cheryl. Cheryl gushed over his kind gesture, while Matthew stood behind him making kissing lips. Although nobody said it, we all knew what Matthew was thinking... What is your super power... butt kissery?    
      Cheryl rushed to get a hammer (actually a crab mallet because we can never find a real hammer) and nails. She picked out the biggest wall in the house and hung that 6 by 8 inch picture.  I am guessing the picture was so small because he was operating on a tight budget.  The picture now hangs on that big wall with a small spotlight shining directly upon it.  
      Gifts are good but Noah cooks all of our meals! There was no way that this trade was going to make our home better.
      Besides giving gifts, Brian also gets Gracie in a good mood... so that counts for something. But did I mention that Noah cooks all of our meals?
      But as the week wore on, there was a surprising turn of events. Something fabulous happened. Gracie and Brian went grocery shopping and offered to make dinner. They started out with a lime chicken dish with asparagus and rice.  I have to say that it was the... best... chicken... ever! Dare I say... cooked to perfection.
      The following day, Grace and Brian followed the chicken dish up with stuffed shells, caesar salad and Italian bread. After this meal, I forgot all about our young son... the one who draws a bit and recently broke his ankle. Moses... or some other biblical name.  We didn't really need him anymore so you know what they say, out of sight... forgotten! 
      Perhaps we could finalize this trade after all!
      The problem was, I began to feel sorry for the little guy that is related to us. He was suffering through an art camp on the hottest week of the year, living in a little cubby hole of a home. I am sure that he was missing us and suffering from home-sickness.
      Then the pictures and the text messages started rolling in.  What I saw was shocking.
      Who knew that they were staying a Five Star establishment... the Smith Carlton Regency Hotel. Complete with swimming pool, kayaks, ping pong tournaments, bike rides, and a week long monopoly game.  Would be nice if the Smiths ever invited Cheryl and me to their new palatial estate. I would say it has a beautiful view of the river, but it is smack dab on the river. I am not bitter, but I would point out to stupid ol' PJ that I can make friends with anybody... any day of the week... I don't need him! I never liked him.
      I suppose that is a story for another day!!!
      Anyway, Noah was having a ball and was not missing us at all. He loved art camp and even got asked to help the instructor with a project she will be working on in Virginia. He was swimming, kayaking, ping ponging and having a great time.
     That ungrateful little...! I bet he was trying to negotiate his own trade!
     And to add insult to injury... he made them Bang Bang Coconut Shrimp one night.
     I don't care how many gifts the boyfriend brings... or how many meals he helps make... I want my Noah back! Don't tell Grace, but Noah is younger and better than Brian.
     As I contemplated the week, I was really happy for Noah... and thankful to the Smiths. Noah is an eleven-year-old that has been doing a lot of grown-up things lately. Besides cooking our meals, Noah is a big help with my mother. He helps her get dressed, walks with her and calms her when she worries. He needed some time to just be a kid and hang out with his boys.
     Of course, I am still a little bitter that he did it at my best friend's new vacation home that I have never been invited to.
      All in all, I think it was a good week for everyone. Now if the Nationals could just trade for a closer, things would be perfect!  

Editors note: Apparently, Funny Guy is a prophet because the Nats got their closer!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Funny Guy Friday... Who loves Dad the best?

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So... I married a funny guy.
     This past weekend, we took a road trip to visit some friends in New Jersey. It is a relatively short trip... about four hours. Four hours is child's play for this family.
     We are great travelers. Matthew has his ear plugs in listening to music... completely unaware of anything around him. Noah watches some show on our iPad... barely aware of anything around him. And Grace texts with her friends or surfs snap chat stuff... giggling at her and her friend's inside jokes, unaware of anything else around her.
     Occasionally, all of the stars align and we find ourselves talking to each other. When this happens,  we have to strike fast and take advantage. On this particular occasion, about an hour into the trip, I decided to drop a very important question... If Mom and I ever get divorced, would you guys ever go visit her or would you be so mad at her actions that you would spend all your time with me? 
     You may have noticed that I made a few assumptions in my question. First, that the divorce would be Cheryl's fault. Second, that the kids would gravitate towards me.  This is a given... I am the fun parent.    
     This used to be an easy question to answer.
     Three years ago, had we gotten a divorce, Noah would have gone with Cheryl... Matthew would have gone with me... and Grace would have gone with her friends. Nowadays, the division of our children is not as easy to predict. I thought it important to get a feeling for what we would do in our hypothetical divorce.
     Noah was first to chime in... Okay, who has the best lawyer? I will go with the one with the best lawyer! 
     I was proud of this response... he has been paying attention to all of my stupid lawyer stories. I was irritated at Noah when he followed up with... Are you representing yourself, Dad?... because if you are, I'll be going with Mom! 
    Cheryl turned to Matthew and asked... You'd go with me, wouldn't you Buddy?
    I looked in the rear view mirror and what I saw was perhaps one of the most impressive things I have ever seen. Matthew made eye contact with me through the mirror and while saying... Of course, I would go with you Momma!... he was shaking his head no and pointing at me!     
    Try to do that. Try to shake your head no while saying yes when someone puts you on the spot. And he did it with complete sincerity in his eyes. He made the right decision and he did it with style!
     Grace never really responded. Well, that is not exactly true... she did say Hey check this out, some lady pooped herself when she found out that her daughter was pregnant! 
     Not exactly responsive to the question, but Grace is an adult... which makes her answer even sadder!
     Now, anyone that knows us knows that Cheryl and I will never get a divorce.
     This was just a hypothetical question... you know... to pass the time in the car... coincidentally made at the exact time when I've been redoing my will and trying to gauge who is with me and who isn't.
     Aah... we'll stay together. In fact, this past Thursday was an anniversary of ours. The anniversary of the day that I asked Cheryl to marry me. Twenty-five years ago.
     As I recall, it was the hottest day of the century. I asked her at Great Falls where we had had one of our first dates. I pretended to drop the ring into the rapids... and the rest is history.
     My mom and my sister were not too keen on the fact that I was proposing because Cheryl and I  had only been dating for six weeks. I am guessing that Cheryl's parents probably weren't so sure about it either. Like any good future son-in-law, I had gone to speak to her parents before I popped the question. For some reason, they thought I was there to talk to them about buying a car.
     Think about that... why would I ask complete strangers about buying a car?
     I was there to let her parents know I was going to marry their daughter. I had done my research and I knew Cheryl loved me... and that she would say yes.    
     Happily, the marriage has worked out.
     It was the right decision twenty-five years ago and there has not been one single day of doubt.
     And for those of you who think my question in the car was silly, I was just doing my research and seeing which of my kids love me the best.
     It worked once... why change now!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Funny Guy Friday... Miss Alabama and Me...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So... I married a funny guy...
    The other day, I flipped on the television and saw a story about Miss Alabama. It would appear that she filmed herself giving an impassioned speech about the awful shootings in Dallas. She was crying and lamenting the fact that she had no feelings about the shootings and that she considered the shooter... a martyr!
    As I watched Miss Alabama's video, which she had posted on some social media vehicle, and then her attempt to explain herself and walk back her comments, I turned to Cheryl and expressed my disgust. In the course of my diatribe, I rhetorically asked Cheryl... why do people need to publish every single thought they have or event that occurs in their life on social media... and why do people think anyone really cares about their thoughts? I hate social media and want no parts of it in my life!
    Then it occurred to me… for five years straight, I have done exactly the thing I despise. Anybody… and I do mean anybody... can log onto my wife's blog and read about my every thought… and I'm pretty sure people do care about what I think.
     I was bewildered and confused by this realization and struggled to come up with some distinction between me and Miss Alabama (besides her high cheekbones and beautiful skin). There has to be something that differentiates the two of us. It took me a while to figure it out but eventually, I did.
     First of all, Miss Alabama is not very funny.
     I, on the other hand, am hilarious!  Modest and hilarious. I take some random event and with my formula of 80% truth, 15% exaggeration and 5% fiction. I spin a clever yarn making people laugh along the way. At least I think people are laughing. I hope that people are laughing!
     Yes, yes, they are laughing because I am funny!
     Second, my thoughts and ramblings don't ever offend anybody… with the possible exception of my wife… my sons… my daughter… my daughter's boyfriend… my sister Michel… my mother… my mother-in-law (whom I would stop offending if she would ever call me by my given name instead of always referring to me as Funny Boy)… my sister-in-law... my other sister-in-law... okay, all of my sisters-in-law… the lady at Toys R Us… the dude in my neighborhood that pointed at me… my law partner… my secretary… a couple of the eleven-year-olds on Noah's team… nephews… nieces… people that look like their dogs… a brown mouse named Reggie... an entire church choir assembly… an occasional priest… a few politicians… a judge… and a lawyer or two.
     Okay… perhaps I have offended a few people along the way... but never an entire nation!
     Third, I have never taken the time to write a FGF, rewrite that FGF, have it edited, reviewed the edited version, had Cheryl post it on Facebook and then declare that the particular post is not me! It is not who I am! It does not represent the way I was raised and I am a big fan of the person or the institution that I just offended.  I DON'T BACK PEDAL!
      I offend and I press on!
      Finally, I try to avoid the more controversial topics. In fact, I believe that if you went back and read a bunch of my previous FGF's, you would be hard pressed to figure out who I might vote for in the upcoming election or my religion or that my favorite sport is baseball or that I love my wife and kids more than anything else in this world.
      Okay, maybe if you read a few old FGF's real carefully, you could figure out all those things pretty easily... except for the President thing... I don't know who I am voting for. I do know who I am not voting for, so that might help you figure it out.
      I suppose the real question is will I vote at all. I digress...
      As easy to read as I am, you can pretty much figure out that I don't really give a rat's rear end what Miss Alabama thinks.  She is free to have her opinion... as misguided as it may be... and she is free to express that opinion any way she pleases.
      However, I do have one simple bit of advice. If you are going to express your opinions to the entire world... try to be funny!
      People eat that up!
      You know it occurred to me that I may have upset Miss Alabama and her supporters. That was not my intention. That is not me.  I was not raised that way.
      Roll Tide.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Funny Guy Friday... The Fourth of July...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So... I married a funny guy...
    What an interesting Fourth of July weekend!
    It all started on the drive home from work on Friday. Grace was in a great mood because she was going to get up the next morning and get a ride to meet her boyfriend and go back to his parents' home near Philadelphia.
     I interrupt this regularly scheduled story about my Fourth of July Weekend to give a testimonial about today's common core math...
     Earlier in the week, Grace had asked Cheryl and me if we could drive her all the way to boyfriend's parents' home so she could surprise him.  I mentioned that I did not want to drive three and half hours up and three and half hours back on the first day of the long weekend. She insisted it was only two and a half hours each way.
     After much discussion of the matter, we decided it would be better to let boyfriend know that she was coming and meet him at the last rest stop before leaving Maryland going into Delaware (about an hour and fifteen minute drive from our home). Grace thought that this arrangement wasn't fair because boyfriend (I can't even say his name... and I like the kid) would have to drive nearly three hours and we are only driving one!  
     Okay, I am no math major but let's do a world problem... if a parent leaves with a daughter and drives one hour and fifteen minutes to meet boyfriend and that same daughter's boyfriend drives three hours to meet same daughter, the total driving time for all parties involved is... If you guessed four hours and fifteen minutes, you are correct. When I pointed this out to Grace, she just mentioned something about approximations.
    Back to my originally planned story about our Fourth of July weekend...
    The day before Grace left, on my drive home, Cheryl called to report that it was a rare night when everyone was going to be home. No practices, no games, no babysitting jobs, and no meetings. Cheryl announced that nobody was going anywhere and we were going to just enjoy each other's company. 
    In principle, that is a great idea. The fact of the matter is that we do eat dinner together almost every night. We either eat before everyone runs off to their various events, or we eat when everyone returns home from their various events.  We have been doing this for years.
    Practically speaking, once the meal is over, we're done. How did Cheryl plan on keeping everyone in the same room without cell phones or iPads. I had brought home some steaks and once they were grilled, we are talking 15 to 20 minutes tops for eating. Clearly, Cheryl had not thought this plan entirely through. It did not matter to her though, we are hanging out together and having fun come hell or high water. 
     At that very moment, I had a stroke of genius. What is the one meal that will keep everyone together for hours.
     If you are from Maryland, you should know the answer to this question.
     What is the one meal that all Marylanders know will last well into the night?
     If you have never been part of a Maryland crab feast, it is kind of hard to explain. The crabs are  the stars of the show but not exactly the main course. You either eat them before the other food, which is typically burgers or dogs... usually not something as great as steak but that was what we had planned before I hatched my brilliant plan... some corn and potato salad.
     Admittedly some folks will have the corn and the potato salad and just the crabs but that is wrong. You have to have some main meat course to fill you up. Crabs do not ever fill you up. You get tired of cleaning them before you ever get full from the crab meat.
     Cleaning a crab is a work of art. Our kids were taught at a young age and once they got past the age of four, it was every man for himself.  My position on this was made clear to the kids at a very young age. You eat what you clean... do not look to me to shell that bad boy for you... I am not your grandfather. You are on your own kiddo. 
     And heaven help the kid that didn't properly and completely clean all of the meat out of the crab because that was just wasteful. We used to check every pile of discarded shells to ensure maximum crab intake. We only have so many and if you can't do it right, step away from the table! There will be no wasting!
     There are several effective ways to clean a crab but only two strategies for eating. The best method is to eat as you go. Each tasty morsel goes from the crab to the mouth. The second method is to make a pile and eat it all at one time at the end of the picking. This method requires patience... which I don't have. In fact, we only have one stock piler and that is Noah. The risk you run with stocking your crab meat is poachers. I hate poachers. They sit away from the table and then swoop in to check on the goings on...  Oh, let me have just a little taste! 
    NO! You want some, you get your hands dirty!
    Poaching crab meat in our house is a hangable offense.
    While I am at it... another pet peeve of mine is when people pick a crab out of the pile to feel how heavy it is... and then put it back if it feels light. Eat what you touch... don't leave the light ones for everyone else. How is that fair?
     Anyway, crabs are delicious! So delicious that our kids are willing to sit and eat them for hours.
     As luck would have it, I passed a woman selling live crabs on the side of the road. I asked her how many I could get for eighty dollars, which was all the money I had in my wallet.
     Thirty.  Oh yeah, did I mention that they are not cheap! This also explains why we used to monitor our kids' discarded piles.
     My crab lady hooked me up with some beauties. Typically, I don't cook them myself, but this was just another opportunity to bond with the family. A little beer, a little sea salt and a lot of Old Bay. Old Bay is the mother's milk when it comes to crab eating. You douse them in it when you cook them and you keep a pile of it for dipping. Some people use vinegar for dipping but I only like vinegar when it is saturated with Old Bay!
     Needless to say, our crab feast was a huge success. We sat around the table until about ten o'clock. No phones and no iPads. The fact that our hands were full of crab goo ensured that nobody touched their devices.
     Honestly, the rest of the weekend was pretty uneventful. When the Fourth rolled around, Grace was with nameless boyfriend, Matthew and Noah were visiting at friends' homes and my mother went out to dinner with my sister in law. Cheryl and I found ourselves home with nothing to do.
     Wait a second... WAIT ONE SECOND... we found ourselves at home on the Fourth of July with nothing to do.  Can you say fireworks?
     Yeah... neither can I.
     We had an all American Fourth of July meal... sushi (Cheryl's choice) and watched a movie.
     On the one hand, we enjoyed our quiet time together but on the other hand, I really missed having the kids around.
     It got me thinking that next year, I am going to do something that will keep the kids home on the Fourth of July. Wonder what I could do?
     Hmm, if you're from Maryland, you should know the answer to this question.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Funny Guy Friday... My mom and Michel...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     As many of you know, my mother moved in with us a year ago last November.
     At first, we thought she was just a little lonely after my father passed away; so, we encouraged her to come live with us. And as time went by, we discovered more and more that she is not immune from the common problems that plague the elderly... and then some.  She does her best, but she gets confused with fairly simple concepts, like scheduling and which kid is where; she frets over trivial matters; and she often forgets how to do the most routine of daily tasks.
     Without being too specific, her brain has suffered a lot of wear and tear. But she is still so pleasant, and she is a joy to have with us.
     As you can guess, my mom needs a lot of help and support, so we are truly blessed to have Cheryl at the helm.
     Cheryl is perfect for the job.
     When my mom gets frazzled, Cheryl is there to calm her. Cheryl often reminds her that her only job is to not worry. And when my mom gets confused or forgetful, Cheryl takes the time to explain every detail.
     Oh, how Cheryl loves to explain things. Queen of the Over-Explanation is how I often refer to her.  No matter how many I got it's that I give her, she plows ahead. For instance:
     Cheryl: Hey, can you get your mom's pills ready?
     Me: Sure. Where are they?
     Cheryl: Okay, they are up in the cabinet where we used to keep the glasses... not the coffee cups, they are on the other side... where we kept the water glasses...
     Me: I got it, the cabinet....
     Cheryl:  ...the water glasses and the juice glasses. Before we moved them to the drawer under the forks and knives.  
     Me: I got it. The cabinet above...
     Cheryl: Above the junk drawer... the cabinet with the happy birthday banner on the right side.
     Me: I got it!   
     Although at times these explanations can get... um... er... I don't want to say annoying because they are not annoying... okay maybe a little bit annoying.  Let's go with endearing... yeah... endearing is good.  Endearing is annoying but in a nice kind of way.
      Although at times these explanations are... ahem... endearing, they are perfect for my mom because no matter how many times my mom hears them, it is as if it is for the first time.  Cheryl never gets short with her, she never gets impatient with her, and she never gets tired of explaining and caring for her.
     Having said all that, occasionally we need help.
     This past week, my sister Michel came into town from Texas.
     You remember Michel... in a previous FGF, I may have referred to her as Nurse Kevorkian because she plugged my dad's oxygen tube into an empty oxygen tank. He was dying anyway so what the heck.
     Fortunately, her mistake was discovered, so we decided to give her another chance with Mom.
     The plan was for Michel to come into our home and take over mom's care for a week and give Cheryl a break. Two birds.
     We quickly discovered that Michel has her own style of management.
     We should have known this from the last time she visited. During that visit, Mom and Michel had discussions about foot massages. I was sure that Mom would love that. The next day, I walked into the house and heard them talking about how great it feels. How nice of my big sister to take such loving care of Mom... washing and massaging her feet like Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.
     Yeah.. not so much.
     When I walked in the room, I found my mom giving Michel a foot massage. I am not sure Michel really gets how this is supposed to work.
     Anyway, Michel is a tad less patient than Cheryl. For instance, Michel was making crab soup and Mom gently reminded her that she needed to take the time to chop the onions into smaller pieces. Michel responded by tossing her out of the kitchen.
     If Mom were to make such a comment to Cheryl, Cheryl would have gotten my poor mother her own damn onion and cutting board and lovingly asked Mom to show her how to properly chop that onion.
     This was not the first battle over food that Michel waged against our dear mother.
     Earlier in the week, Michel made some potato salad. The next day, Mom commented that the potato salad did not taste good (she has lost a little of her tact filter). When Michel asked her what the problem was, Mom complained about the ingredients. Michel went through every ingredient that she had included and Mom confirmed that she used to put in the same exact things.
     Michel did not let this go and the inquisition began... what could have possibly been wrong with  that potato salad?
      I could see that Mom was getting brow-beaten into agreeing that Michel's potato salad was yummy, so I came to her defense. I chimed in:  Love! Mom used to put love in her potato salad! You're missing the most important ingredient. 
     Under Michel's rigorous cross examination, it turned out that Mom was talking about some other food that we had eaten the night before, and it had nothing to do with the potato salad.
     Even still, Cheryl would have just agreed with Mom and thrown all the potato salad away! I still think we should have thrown it away because it really was missing love!
     But that little anecdote was just the beginning.
     Mom still likes to play cards but is pretty limited as to what games she can play. Go Fish is a big favorite, but she has a tough time remembering to ask for matches to the cards in her hand.
     One day... after waking up from one of her many naps in Mom's bed (it would appear that Michel treated mom's care as a union job)... Michel hustled Mom into a card game and took advantage of the old bird.
     You see, Mom had a handful of cards but kept asking Michel for nines on every turn. Michel had seen all of Mom's cards and was tired of being asked for that same old nine. Michel lovingly insisted that mom ask her for a seven.
     Okay Michel... Do you have any sevens?
     As God is my witness, Michel replied...
     No... GO FISH! HA HA HA!
     Okay, I may have exaggerated the Ha Ha Ha part, but I am not exaggerating the Go Fish part. She tricked our mom into asking for a seven so that she should crush her hopes and dreams. What kind of monster is she?
     Even for a family that is as competitive as ours, that was beyond the pale.
     Michel claims she was just trying to move things along.
     Why? I ask. Where did mom have to be? Is she dating now? Did she finally figure out how to work her cell phone?
     Let me tell you something... if that had been Cheryl playing with Mom and mom had asked Cheryl for a nine, Cheryl would have just flipped over a six and handed it to her and called it a match.
     All kidding aside... it was great having Michel and her daughter Katherine in our home for a week. Michel and Mom had plenty of time to visit and Cheryl got a much needed break. It is very difficult for my sister to leave Mom and go home to Texas, but I am sure that she leaves with the knowledge that Mom is loved and that she is getting great care here.
     And for some reason, Mom misses Michel.
     She even commented that since Michel had left, her bed was now going to be cold. I suppose she warms it up with all those naps she likes to take.
     Since my Mom has moved into our home, I have come to the realization that I married the most selfless woman in the world. Her only complaint has been that she can't do more.
     The kids are just as helpful as they take their cues from their mother's calm, consistent love. It is not always easy, and occasionally, after we have helped Mom in the bathroom, dressed her in her pajamas, and tucked her into bed with good night kisses from the whole family, Cheryl will ask me how I feel about my mom's condition and her dependence on us.
     My answer is pretty simple.
     For years, my Mom helped her six kids in the bathroom, she dressed us in our pajamas and she tucked us into our beds with good night kisses.
      I am happy to return the favor.
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