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

Friday, July 25, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Mickey and Minnie...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     This past week, Cheryl and I were driving down the road with Noah in the back seat.
     We started to talk about one of those silly quizzes that people post on facebook: What Disney Couple Are You and Your Significant Other?
     Clearly, we are Mickey and Minnie because we have kind of an old fashioned love affair... and Cheryl always wears a silly red bow in her hair with some honking big white mittens. And Mickey is kind of a jolly, benevolent leader of his Disney family... much like yours truly.
     We really did not need to take the test to confirm what we already knew, but just for fun, we asked Noah to answer the questions that would lead to an inevitable conclusion.
     I specifically asked Noah to answer the questions as he would answer them and not what he thinks Cheryl or I would answer. Armed with these instructions, Noah went about his business. For the most part, he took his time and was thoughtful in his answers. Then he reached the following question:
When you fight... you...
     -Don't Talk
     -Debate Fiercely 
     -Take turns talking
     -Just work it out
     -Try to see the other's point of view
     -Quickly forget about what you were fighting about
     The answer was simple... we rarely fight.
     I mean, it is not as if we never argue, but it is pretty rare. Noah, however, had a different opinion... he shouted out: Debate Fiercely!   
     What! No way. We don't debate fiercely. Where do you get that from? I love your mother more than anything, and on those rare occasions that we disagree... we do not debate fiercely! 
     I all but called him stupid.   
     Cheryl piped up: Honey... I think you are debating fiercely. 
     Then I got to thinking about it... and I got really mad at Cheryl. I wanted to lay into her like a windmill in a tornado. Little Noah's misperception was all her fault.
     Cheryl may disagree with me about this... and if she does, she can get her own blog. What's that? This is her blog. Then she needs to be funnier so people read what she writes!
     Anyway, when we do argue, it is because Cheryl thinks that she is right, when in fact, I am right. That simple fact tells you all you need to know.
     Fine... sometimes I am the one who is wrong, and I am the one who starts the argument, but we don't really ever Debate Fiercely. I know people who debate fiercely! I represent people who debate fiercely! Cheryl and I are not those people. How is it possible for Noah to be so wrong?
     Is it possible that this is what he sees when Cheryl and I have a disagreement?
     Noah's answer really bothered me, so I decided right then and there that I was never going to argue with Cheryl in front of the kids ever again. I just don't want them to have a negative image of their mother!
     Later in the week, my peace pledge was put to the test when I may have inadvertently pointed out a teeny weeny little defect about the cleanliness of our room. Cheryl correctly observed that I could have married a lot of other women! You didn't have to marry me! 
     Yes, this is true, but I picked you... despite your laundry shortcomings. I said it with a smile, in an effort to avoid any further bloodshed!
     Cheryl persisted: You have the same DNA as your brothers, perhaps you would have been happier had you married one of their wives. 
     But I picked you... you are the only one for me. With that being said, is it possible to open up the list of potential candidates to replace you beyond my three sisters-in-law? Can we at least include a few of the Sports Illustrated swim suit models. They don't seem to wear much, so laundry will be less of a problem... assuming that they, like you, don't like to do laundry. 
     This witty exchange was lost on Cheryl, who appeared bored, but I could sense she really wanted to escalate things.  
     You go ahead and try to find a replacement model for me, see how that goes for you.
     So we are expanding the field to include models? Now we are talking.
     Whatever you want, honey. 
     I don't think that she really meant that I could pick anyone I wanted. She was being sarcastic. You can see what I am dealing with... can't you?
     Anyway, when all was said and done, we did get Mickey and Minnie. Fits us perfectly... just an old fashioned love affair!
     I would not change a thing... except maybe for how we fight!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Soon she'll be on her own...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     Our baby girl is going to college in just a little more than a month.
     She will be on her own... pretty much free to do whatever she wants without parental interference. The problem for Gracie is that she still has about thirty-five days of parental interference.
     My father used to always tell me... so long as you live under my roof, you will follow my rules. At the time, I thought my dad was an intolerant, overbearing tyrant. Now I think he was a soothsayer, a profit, a parental genius, if you will. It is amazing how much smarter he gets as I parent my own kids.
     The other night, Cheryl and I were watching TV in bed, and Matthew came to us and asked if he could watch a movie with Grace and their cousin Katherine: The Fighter.
     Cheryl immediately checked it out on and found that the film may contain a couple of bad words. By a couple of bad words I really mean one particular "grand daddy of bad words" uttered more than 125 times. Not only was Matthew not watching this movie, Cheryl demanded that I go downstairs and tell Gracie and Katherine that they were not watching the movie, either.
     I pointed out that in a little over a month, our soon-to-be-eighteen-year-old-anyway daughter was going away to college, and we would no longer control her every move. We won't be with her. She is going to make decisions without our input.
     Additionally, if we had rushed down there to tell her that Matthew asked us if he could watch the movie... and then we tell Gracie that not only can Matthew not watch it, neither can you! we were just going to get Grace upset with Matthew.
     Seriously, shouldn't have Matthew sacrificed himself so Grace could watch a inappropriate movie? He had to have known that there was no way Cheryl was going to allow him to watch this movie and would then put the big kibosh on Gracie.
     Now, to be frank, I do not particularly agree with letting Grace make her own decisions.
     I want to make decisions for her for the rest of her life.
     Nor do I care if she is mad at Matthew. If it weren't his asking about the movie, she probably would have been mad at him for something else.
     The real problem was that it was 10:30 p.m. and I was snuggled in for the night. I would have had to get up out of a nice warm bed and run downstairs to tell her that she couldn't watch a movie because of bad language... and I was tired!
     I was snuggly and tired!
     Look Cheryl, Grace is almost eighteen years old. At some point we need to let her make her own decisions. 
     Did I mention that I was tired... and my bed was warm... and I was really, really tired... and snuggly!
     As it turned out, it didn't really matter anyway. Cheryl decided to conduct a little test. She was sure Grace would have had the good sense not to watch an R-rated movie, full of darkness and violence. So she just rested confidently on the notion that we had raised Grace right and that Grace herself would reconsider her movie choice and pass on watching The Fighter.
     Unfortunately, Mark Wahlberg trumps good sense, and Grace and Katherine did watch the movie.
     Bad move because the next day, Cheryl did what mothers have been doing for years. She made Grace feel guilty! Tried and true method of parenting. Although I would point out that my dad never made me feel guilty... he had other, more effective ways of making me tow the line. Although he never hit me... there was never any doubt that he would have! That was enough for me.
     As the guilt trip continued, Grace asked me to intervene because Mom can't make you feel guilty! I didn't have the heart to tell Grace that I don't have that antidote.
     But Cheryl was not the only one to crack down on Gracie this week.
     I had to bring the hammer down and advise Grace that if she continues to use her cell phone as if it were an appendage that she would be going to college without it. I feel sorry for Grace because this had less to do with her as it has to do with everyone else in our society.
     Everyone has instant access when they have their phone.
     I would like to say that "the second they get out of whatever"... the phones come out and everyone starts checking for messages or finding scores or texting or emailing. I would like to say "the second they get out of whatever" but they check for messages, find scores, text or email right "in the middle of whatever!"
     And the cell phone function that I hate the most... the ability to take selfies!
     Personally, I believe that the need to constantly take pictures of yourself is a character flaw.
     I am not sure which of the seven deadly sins this falls under but it has to violate at least four of them! What is the problem with our society when everyone has to take pictures of themselves every second of every day?
     Poor Gracie made a move for her phone in the middle of entertaining a guest for dinner. That was enough for me, and I may have overreacted.
     Put it down! If I see you so much as touch that phone one more time tonight, I am never paying another cell phone bill and you are not taking it to school with you. And another thing... no more selfies!
     Now I know that if I stop paying the bill, the phone won't work and at that point, she can take the darn thing anywhere she wants... but I think she got the point.  
     To Gracie's credit, she apologized.
     To my credit, I refused to accept her apology and remained irritated. 
     I am serious; if you so much as touch, I mean, touch that phone tonight, I am going to throw the thing away! Don't do it... you can't win this one, Gracie! 
     On second thought, I think I reacted just right!
     So now we are sending Grace off to college where she will have no adult supervision.
     Where she can watch what she wants... and my guess is that she will, in fact, have her phone with her. She can take photos of herself taking notes in her first class, eating in the dining hall, sitting in her dorm room, and chatting with her new friends.  But hopefully not watching an R-rated movie.
     And do you know what I want? I want to see them all!
     I mean, we are not going to be there with her; the least she can do is text us the pictures.
     You know what this means? It means she is going to have to have that phone!  
     I guess Grace can win this one!
     I am going to miss that girl!            

Friday, July 11, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Getting back in shape... sort of...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     I want to start this week off by letting everyone know that I used to be in great shape.
     Don't get me wrong, I still look good... although apparently not as good as I think, as a friend recently commented that you don't weigh much but you're not cut or anything! 
     I used to be cut.
     Not like body building cut but thin and defined. I see pictures of myself back in the day, and I think Dang! Why can't I look like that again? 
     I mean if you saw me in the street today, you wouldn't avert your eyes or anything like that. In fact, you might even think.. He looks pretty good for a fifty-year-old guy! But then again, you probably would think to yourself... that is a fine looking thirty-year-old. I mean on the outside, I look okay!
     The inside is the problem!
     Just for some history: when I was at the University of Maryland, they did a study comparing percentage of body fat and flexibility of scholarship athletes... of which I was one, thank you very much! I had one of the lowest percentages of body fat of anyone in the study... and the worst flexibility of anyone in the history of the free world.
     I had them baffled... but that is not important right now.
     Here is what is important: I made a life-changing decision tonight while walking to Dairy Queen to buy ice cream! What was that life changing decision, you ask?
     Let me explain.
     This past Sunday, Matthew was out of town, and Cheryl and Grace were at a wedding shower. This left Noah and me to fend for ourselves.
     Our day started off with a round of batting practice, and then I scored us an invite from my sister-in-law Karen to the local pool. Basically, I called Karen and said, Hey, Noah and I need a pool to go to... are you using yours today. 
     Karen advised that she was sick in bed, but I was undaunted: WhateverIs your husband Matt home? What are he and the kids doing? I need someone with a pool membership. We are hot, and we are sweaty. We need a pool, so please put him on the phone. Oh yeah... hope you feel better! 
     Matt came through like a champ and dropped everything and joined us at their pool, er uh, allowed us to join them at their pool.
     Karen's family recently joined this pool and they go all the time. In fact, her kids are on the swim team. I found this very interesting because they only just started swimming.
     Once we arrived, we jumped right in.
     During the adult swim, Karen's cute little daughter Elaine, who happens to be my sweet, adorable Godchild, was explaining how she recently got moved up to the "A" meets. Pretty impressive, I thought, since she basically is a beginner. I asked about her times and what distances she raced. She told me that in her most recent meet, she swam the fifty-meter freestyle.
     On a side note... I have always hated the metric system. I laughed then... and I laugh now... thinking about how our third-grade teachers used to admonish us that Someday the entire world will be on the metric system, so you better learn it. 
     Whatever! No, uh uh! I still live in a country that measures things in inches, feet, yards, and miles! Thank you very much! U-S-A!  U-S-A!  U-S-A!
     Okay, I learned that fifty-meters is one time up and back in the swim lanes. Oh, that doesn't seem so bad... I think I can do that! 
     Sure... try it Uncle Mark... encouraged my little all-that-is-evil, witch-of-a-niece, Elaine... with a sly grin.
     So off I went.
     Dove right in, and off I raced... dodging two old women floating around in the racing lanes.
     I started out pretty steady... taking three or four strokes before coming up for air. Felt I was going at a pretty good clip... but I must admit, it did seem to take a little longer than I had thought to reach the floating women who were about about halfway out... oh, I'd say... at about thirteen meters.
     Not yet through the first leg of my race, I was already getting pretty fatigued. Having to avoid those women was not helping my cause.
     When I finally reached the wall, I considered a flip turn... but then I realized, I don't actually know what a flip turn is. I mean, I know what it is, but I don't actually know how to do one. At this point, my brain was still functioning, and I actually had a coherent thought, I may end up swallowing all of the water in this pool if I try the ol' flip turn.
     I touched the wall and headed back! My fiend of a Goddaughter later advised that this poor turn killed my time.
     Whatever... at this point, I was taking one breath for every stroke... and these were big, desperate breaths that don't seem to get any air into my lungs. I was struggling, but I saw those floating ladies and I pressed on.
     The problem was that those two old, bobbing biddies seemed a lot further away than thirteen meters.
     The more I think about it, I think those mean old gals were messing with me. You know how when your kids try to swim to you, and you keep moving away, so they can never catch you. I think they were doing something like that!
     I hate those ladies!
     Eventually, I passed the two floating speed bumps, but I still had half the lane to go.
     This next part you are about to read is the absolute truth... as God is my witness... there is no exaggeration in what I am about to write:
     I thought I was going to drown!
     All the signs were there. My brain stopped functioning. I was gasping for air. I was flailing my arms. I was what my wife refers to as a chocolatey mess!
     I mean, I knew that I could just stop and stand up and survive. I was only in five feet of water... but frankly, I would rather have drowned than to quit halfway through my second lap.
     No way I was going to let my son and my niece and nephews see me quit. I would rather that they see me die trying than to see me quit! And if those old ladies had tried to come to my aid, to give me mouth to mouth, I would have taken them down with me! I hated them anyway, so if one of them were to go... so be it! They killed my time, so turnabout is fair play!
     There was only one of two ways that this was going to end... I was either going to finish the last thirteen meters... or I was going to die trying!
     I am proud to say... well... proud is probably not the best word to use... let's just say... I finished my race. I touched the wall, and if I had had the ability to raise my arms above my head... or to raise them to any level for that matter, I would have slapped the water as if I had just beaten out Michael Phelps for the gold medal.
     As an aside... I still don't get the metric system, but here is one thing that I do know... meters get longer as you get tireder!
     I was finished for the day.
     I tried to play it off like I felt good enough to do it again, but the reality was... I was looking for a place to fall.
     I eventually found that place in a nice lounge chair. Five minutes into a conversation with Noah, I passed out, er uh, fell asleep. I never felt so old in my life. "Fine looking thirty-year-old man" my rear end!
     So you are probably wondering... what was that life changing decision I had mentioned before?
     You might be guessing that I decided to start swimming on a daily basis. If you did guess that, you would be wrong... way wrong. No... Hell No... Hell to the No!
     I may never get in a pool again.
     What are you some kind of masochist? Didn't you just read about my near death experience? Geez!
     No, I decided that I am going to start working out on a daily basis. I am just not sure what I am going to do. I am doing some research to see what might work for me.
     I came across some of that cross-fit stuff, and this is my take on that: I think that those people are just nuts. God bless 'em, but I just want to get in a little better shape... not kill anyone... especially myself. I tried killing myself in the pool and didn't like it. There has to be a better way.
     I will think of something, and I will make it work. I kind of started the whole process tonight, once I got to the Dairy Queen.
     I ordered a small cone instead of a large.
     Baby steps... that's what I need... baby steps.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Reluctant to try anything new...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     When I was a kid, one of my most vivid memories was going to the pool with my family one hot summer day. I was reluctant to jump in the "big pool" because it was my first time in the "big pool," and I was afraid it would be too cold.
     So stupid! What kid thinks the water is going to be too cold? I am getting mad at myself just thinking about it.
     I waited and waited... and waited. Finally, after about an hour, my dad coaxed me in. I leaped up and out... and in mid-jump... lightning!
     I hit the water... and the whistles blew... and the pool was cleared.
     I was bummed... might have even cried. Missed opportunity because of my reluctance to try new stuff. That event epitomizes my life as a kid. Very reluctant to try anything new.
     Even when I love to do something... sometimes I hate having to go and actually do it.
     For example, I love to play golf... but here are some of the ridiculous things I think about when I am going to go play: Man, I am going to be gone all day and I have so much to do. I should probably stay home and hang out with the kids. If I stink, it is going to be a big waste of money. I really don't have a good golf outfit. 
     So... why am I thinking about all of this?
     Because people don't always get better about these things with age.
     This past week, Cheryl's sister Sue and her family came to town. Susan has three kids that are similar in age to our three. They all get along well, and they love to spend time together. A lot of time together. Lots and lots of time together. Complete with breakfast, lunch and dinner... followed by a snack together... wrapped up with a sleepover.
     It's all good clean cousin fun.
     They arrived last Wednesday and on Thursday, Cheryl called me at work and asked if I wanted us to join them sightseeing in Washington, DC.
     I am going to let you all in on a little secret... I have lived in the Washington, DC area my entire life and never... I mean never... not once... have I ever been sightseeing in DC. When I was in the 5th grade our school took a field trip to the Washington Monument. I was sick, so I missed it. That was my one and only brush with tourism. I hate going into DC.
     When it comes to our nation's capital, I have a little credo: It ain't going anywhere. Neither am I. I'll catch it next time. Admittedly, it's a stupid credo, but it has worked for me for more than fifty years.
     I believe that I am what some people refer to as a Renaissance Man.
     Anyway, my response to Cheryl's inquiry was typical... Can't we just go get some Italian ice at Rita's? Kids love Italian ice and it is ice from a foreign country, sooooo it is kind of an educational food outing. Besides, I hate driving in DC and Rita's is right around the corner from your parents' house.        
     I don't think Cheryl was seeing it quite my way.
     After much discussion, we were off to our nation's capital.
     Wow... did you know that the Washington Monument reflects right off of the Reflecting Pool? I never knew that. Or that you can walk right up to the Lincoln Memorial? You can practically touch the man's toes. Who knew? Noah asked if he could sit on Lincoln's lap, and at first I said no way, but then after we kept getting closer and closer, I thought to myself... Hell, yeah! You can sit on his lap!
     It turns out that you can't, but I wasn't so sure.
     By the way, the Lincoln Memorial was built in 1911, before a lot of stuff was invented that would have made it easier to carve. Just thought I would share a little bit of what I learned that night! I know it is technical, but try to keep up.
     That night, we also visited the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam Memorial. All very moving in different ways... and as we walked to our car, I found myself regretting not having taken advantage of this opportunity sooner.
     I felt a little better about myself when I finally realized that it is all Cheryl's fault. She knew this stuff was there the whole time and never made me go until her sister came to visit. I think we can all agree that she should feel a little ashamed of herself. I tried to explain this to her on the drive home, and we agreed to disagree.
     So, fast forward to this past Tuesday, and Cheryl's sister Annie was also in from out of town with a couple of her kids. And my niece Katherine was in from Houston. I was looking forward to a relaxing evening because I finally had a night off from baseball.
     It seems as though every single night since March, I have left work and rushed directly to a baseball field. So on this particular night, I was happy to have a break.
     Once again, I get a call from Cheryl: Hey, Matthew's team is off tonight... My sisters would like to know if we want to go...
     I interrupted... Go sightseeing in DC? Sure, we had a great time the other night. Hey did you know they also have museums and stuff downtown? 
     I didn't want to embarrass Cheryl with the museum info, but I thought it was important for her to know that, in case it ever comes up and I am not around.
     She countered: Yes, I am aware of the museums in DC, and no they do not want to go back to DC tonight. They want to know if we want to go to Baltimore... to an Orioles game. 
     NOOOOOO! I hate baseball. 
     No you do not... and it will be fun... the kids want to go! 
     I don't care about those stupid kids... I need a break from baseball. What time? 
     Game starts at seven. They play the Texas Rangers. Katherine can be the Lone Ranger.
     Fine, we need to leave by 5:45. 
     On a side note, I would have bet you a million dollars that I would never be late to a baseball game as a result of watching... a soccer game. Only in soccer can you go 1-2-1 and everyone thinks it was a successful tournament. But I digress.
     Susan had purchased the tickets and we were the last to arrive.
     As I walked up to our seats, which were in the last row of the lower deck, I couldn't help but notice that the entire thirty rows in front of us were empty. I jokingly said, I think we can move up! 
     Unbeknownst to me, Susan was on it. She had already approached an usher and apparently had given him a $20 hand shake. Before I could even sit down, we were escorted to seats that were about fifteen rows behind the third base dugout. It was the start of a perfect night at Camden Yards, complete with our own beer salesman.
     Say this with a Boal'mer accent:  Ya gotta stay hyyydrated, not dehyyydrated... drink waaater... you gotta stay hyyydrated... you want sum peanuts with that beer or water... the salt is good for ya!  They call that the upsell! I tell ya, if I waasn't at work, I'd be drinking a col' one right now. Where ya from Hon? Well this is the way we do it in Boal'mer! We got it all, humidity, beer and Oreale basebaall!  ... and you have our beer salesman.
     It was the most enjoyable sporting event that I have ever attended.
     Not so much because of the game... but because the kids... as well as the adults... had a great time and really enjoyed their time with one another.
     The whole week got me to thinking... If I could just get Cheryl to get out of her comfort zone and explore some new things or to just enjoy herself doing the things that she loves to do... we could have great nights like these more often!
      It won't be easy because as you know... people don't always get better about these things with age!
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