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

Friday, August 29, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Why doesn't she call?

     Well, it has been one busy week at the old homestead.
     It was our first week without our baby girl who went away to college. From what I can tell from the phone calls that she is not making home to her patiently awaiting parents, she seems to be having a great time. And when I broke down on day one of her college career and called her, she advised that she was "busy with some friends."
     What's the big idea of her making friends? I remember being miserable on my first night away at college, so she should have the decency to have that same experience.  
     But that is not the worst of it.
     On day two sans Gracie, Cheryl texted her and advised that she should try and make it to the Grotto and say a prayer for her cousin who was getting married this weekend (actually on Friday... but more on that in a minute) and for her first week up at the Mount. Gracie texted back that she couldn't because she was out partying with two boys lol.
     No lol... in fact, no l at all! Those two boys can burn in l for all I care.
     When people ask me how she seems to be adapting, I tell them that the ungrateful little rascal seems to be adapting pretty well... a little too well for my tastes.
     I am not obsessing over it or anything, but I can't figure out why she is not calling us all the time wanting to come home. I mean we had a great little thing going!
     Oh well... I am over it!
     But a call home every once in awhile is really the right thing to do, don't you think?
     Additionally, in all the excitement of Gracie starting her college career, we forgot all about our brand new high school student. That's right, little Michael is started his high school career. What's that, his name is Matthew?! Wow, we really have been ignoring the little guy! 
     After four years of homeschool, Matthew is ready for the hustle and bustle that goes along with a large Catholic High School... and as a bonus, he has both male and non-male classmates, if you get what I am saying.
     Times are different than when I was in high school. I used to get sick to my stomach pacing around trying to build up the courage to call a girl. Of course, I always hung up if someone actually picked up the other end. But even with the hang up, I felt pretty cool calling a girl.
     Today, everyone has everyone else's number, snap chat account, twitter feed, instant message or face book page programmed into their phone.
     And my little hang up routine would never work today because my picture would pop up on their phone revealing my secret identity. In fact, the death knoll for the hang up was the invention of caller ID. I can remember my shock and horror when I got a call back from someone who had caller ID.
     Did you just call this number? 
     Huh, what, me er, uh, uh, no. And don't ever call me again! Click!
     I figured the best defense was a good offense. I was an idiot!
     With all of this new schooling going on, my nephew got married today.
     I know what you are thinking... Isn't that kind of odd to get married on a Friday?... before Labor Day?... Isn't there a chance that traffic could be bad? 
     Don't worry, they took that into consideration and chose a location far away from all the tourists and the traffic... downtown Annapolis. What are the chances... 100%... that there will be a lot of people in Annapolis on the Friday before Labor Day!!
     I was told that by getting married on a Friday, they got a great deal. I bet they did. I bet it would have been cheaper on a Tuesday, but they did not consult me!
     Family has been rolling in all week, including Grace who arrived home on Thursday night. If you were not at the rehearsal dinner, you were invited to our house for some Italian subs, Italian sausage and Italian wine.
     All great treats that we enjoyed while growing up.
     As we sat around the table, eating, drinking, laughing, and telling stories, one thought kept going through my mind...
     Why isn't Gracie calling me every day!
     Forget it. Now I am over it. It's on to the wedding.
     Say a prayer for my nephew Daniel and his new wife, Kelsie. May they have a long happy marriage and a home blessed with love, laughter, good food, and good wine. And may God bless them with beautiful, happy children. Happy... that is... right up until they go off to college. At that point, I hope, for every one's sake, the kids are a little bit miserable and call home.
     Let's face it... it's the right thing to do!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Gracie goes off to college...

    Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my kooky and often sentimental husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
    The other day, Matthew, Noah and I were waiting for Grace and Cheryl to come out of Target. As we waited, and waited... and waited... Matthew commented that he really thought that Gracie was ready to go off to college. 
    This made me feel proud of Grace as she is growing up to be a responsible adult... proud of Matthew for recognizing Gracie's evolution... and proud of Cheryl and myself for raising such a good person who was ready to take on a new challenge.
    I should have just left it at that, but I opened my big mouth in order to confirm that this was exactly what Matthew meant when he made his keen observation.
    So, you think she is ready to take on a new phase in her life, do you?
    No, I mean that she is ready to get away from us!
    By us, do you mean Mom and me?
    Well, yeah... kinda!
    We leave today to take Gracie to college. Can you believe that? I am old enough to have a kid in college?  
    Gracie and I have had the opportunity to spend a little extra time together this week. I have tried to convince her that the Community College is still the way to go, and it is not too late to change her mind.  She just smiles, nods, and tells me that she is not going to change her mind.
    I wish you had never been home schooled.
    Because then you wouldn't have gotten tired of being around Mom all the time, and you would want to go to the Community College and continue to live with us... and by us, I mean me! 
    As always, I blame Cheryl. Not just for home schooling her but for being excited about this "great opportunity" that Grace has.
    Cheryl... college is the worst preparation for life that has ever been invented. What other time in your life are you only accountable for about three hours a day. You get to hang out with your friends all day, every day. You get a week or two off every forty days or so, and you get every summer off! You don't even use 85% of what you learn. Most college classes are like the metric system... you learn it for no plausible reason. Why would anyone ever want to quit going to college and join the real world? 
    College is just part of a process. You gain knowledge, whether you use it or not. And it's not just job training. You develop into a whole person... a wise citizen. You learn to be a critical thinker. 
    Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah! Please, just, please, one time... can you just be on my team and try to make her feel guilty about leaving me and going off to go to college... please... just once! 
     I must admit that the fact that Gracie is leaving me had not really sunk in until someone pointed out that this could be the last time that Grace lives full time in my house. She is going to go to college and return during her breaks and her summers, yes, but after four years, she may just get a job and live on her own.
     I am assuming that by "on her own" means someplace other than with me! 
     Think about that. Grace may never live with me again for the rest of her life. Unless, of course, she marries some idiot with baggy pants hanging down around his rear end, a flat brimmed baseball cap cocked sideways with ear rings and tattoos all over his body... who cannot find a job... so they move in with me... and tell me how awful my political views are... all while eating my food and drinking my beer!
     Uh... uh hey Mr. P... should I call you Mr. P or can I call you Dad?
     Please don't call me anything. Do what I do to my in-laws: address me only after you have made eye contact. 
     Uh, okay, sure, uh... I think that the Occupy Wall Street Movement was aaaawesome. Fat cats should give back to people like me... who can't find a job doing what I love... Skateboarding! Hey, are you going to eat that roll?
     I know I just made this guy up... but I hate him!  
     As stupid as this sounds, in the last two paragraphs I just created a fictional husband for my daughter ... and I hate him with every fiber of my being! Just the thought of this idiot has raised my blood pressure!
     Please say a prayer for me.
     Anyway, we are very proud of our beautiful little girl.
     I remember her first days of preschool and how hard it was for me to drop her off and leave her as she cried and cried. Here is a little secret that I have never shared with anyone before...I cried too. I hated making that long drive into work knowing that she was not happy. Eventually, she stopped crying and my drive into work got a lot shorter.
     Here is another little secret... Matthew is correct when he said that Gracie was ready to go away to college... but not because she is tired of Cheryl (or me). In fact, Gracie has told us that she loves being around us and appreciates all that we do. She enjoys her brothers and is a great big sister. The best sound in our house is when Cheryl and I are in one room and the kids are laughing about something in another room. Probably about something Cheryl did or said.
     And I'm pretty sure that when that day comes and she brings home her future husband, I will not hate him. Maybe hate him a little bit... But not with every fiber of my being... Maybe.
     Everything leads to one logical... and painful conclusion. We try to give our kids all the tools they need to survive on their own and they repay us by growing up...and leaving us. College is just the first step out the door.
     Grace is ready to go because it is her time. Everything in her life up until now has led her to this school at this time. I am sure that there will be some bumps along the way, but I am confident that she will do great things. It is an exciting time for all of us.
     Our drive up to Mount Saint Mary's will take about ninety minutes. The drive home is going to be a lot longer. I am hoping there will be no tears... but I can't make any promises.
      By the way... an aside note.  Every time I reference me or my... as in she will live with "me" in "my" house... you can include Cheryl in that. I just forgot about her in all he excitement of Gracie going off to college. 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... Life was always good on Kennison Lane...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     What a week!
     It all started with our annual family retreat to Camp Maria. This year's theme was Being a Catholic in a non-Christian World!
     Think about it... every day, even in the most innocuous situations, we are faced with non-Christian images. Don't think so? Pay attention to the commercials that air during prime time or better yet... during a major sporting event. Let's just say, nothing good comes from an ad for a product that warns of a side effect that "... if it lasts for more than six hours, you should contact your doctor."
     I think you know what I'm saying.
     The retreat began with the priest asking what we were hoping to gain from the weekend. I mentioned that the retreat's theme lends itself to gathering information that you can take with you and assist you in being a better Catholic and a better parent to our kids. 
     I was proud of my answer and thought that I led the retreat off with a solid single. Some people even nodded... either agreeing with my assessment, or perhaps just in awe of being in my presence. These are my peeps!
     Then some smarty pants Old Timer... not naming names or anything Mike... ooh did I say Mike?... chimed in.
     Isn't that what we do every retreat... no matter what the theme?  
     I thought people might just laugh the poor old guy right out of the retreat. But then I noticed that more people were nodding at his silly little rebuttal than were nodding for my insightful observations. These aren't my peeps at all... what happened to my peeps? 
     I thought about coming back with some clever little quip but thought better of it for two reasons. First, I did not have a clever little quip to come back with, and second, he had asked me to play golf with him next month and I did not want to jeopardize that!
     I let it slide. It was the right thing to do. I am glad that I did because things got better from there. I think we all could agree that much of the retreat did focus on strategies that we, as parents, can use  when raising our kids.
     During almost every talk, I couldn't help but think about my mother and my father. I would just sit and think... my parents did that! 
     I commented that my dad used many of the methods that the priest discussed in raising his kids, but I was not so sure he did it for the same religious reasons that the priest raised. Instead, I believe that he acted out of a very strong sense of what was right and what was wrong. I suppose that the two are intertwined, though not exactly the same.
     Good Ol' Mike had nothing to offer to this keen observation.
     It was a great retreat, with, as I said, great ideas for walking upright through our earthly life.
     If we weren't prepared before the retreat... we sure were better prepared to guide our kids after the retreat. I suppose that makes the weekend a big success.
     The retreat was not the only time this past week I was left thinking about my parents.
     My mother still owns my childhood family home, and she has been renting it out for a few years. New tenants are moving in this weekend, so my oldest brother put a shout-out to all brothers, sisters, and grandchildren to meet at the house to help finish getting it ready. At the same time, my mother is getting ready to move from my sister's home to our home, to live with us.
     As a result of the changes, we met at my mom's current home on Wednesday to help pack up and throw away all unnecessary junk. I would call it something different if it were not for the fact it is... junk.
     We were also advised to take whatever we wante
     I sent Grace to my mother's jewelry box, but was advised that some stuff was off limits.
     Anyway, I assigned myself the task of going through my father's dresser drawers. He passed away over three years ago so the only things still in the drawers were pictures and old papers. I was advised to just stack the photos in a pile so everyone could look at them at a later date to pick out the keepers and look through the papers and get rid of the ones we don't need. Don't just sit there reading stuff and looking at old photos. 
     Sure... right... don't read stuff and don't look at old photos. Got it!
     There were pictures of my dad in the army, my mom in her twenties (as an aside...he was a stud and she was not hard to look at), my brothers, sisters, and all the grandchildren at various ages. There were love notes my dad had sent to my mom when he was in the army, tax documents from the 1950's, medical records from one of my mother's pregnancies, a cryptic note from my uncle Vito (all Italian families have an Uncle Vito) with a key to a safety deposit box with very specific directions, my grandfather's will, a crucifix, and articles from newspapers... mostly about my brother Jeff.
     My dad must have kept articles about me in a separate drawer that I haven't gotten to yet. I am sure they are there somewhere. Have to be... I was his favorite!
     In short, it was an entire history of our family in a dresser.
     I will say, as the youngest kid in the family, there was very little documented evidence that I ever existed... with the possible exception of one photo and a beer cozy from my office.
     I had a great time ignoring my siblings' instructions and explaining as best I could to my kids who the people were in the photographs. My boys are convinced there is a great story located in some safety deposit box in New Jersey. There probably is because I had great stories about a lot of the other stuff we found.
     At the end of the night, my boys took home new pocket knives, Grace got the small crucifix that she can hang in her new dorm room, I took home my grandfather's rosary beads, and my mom gave Cheryl some pretty dishes... lots and lots of dishes. Quite a haul.
     The following night we all went back to the home we grew up in... the one my mom is renting out... to help get it ready for the new tenant.
     Having not been there for several years, I was was anxious to see the place. As we turned onto Kennison Lane, I commented on how narrow it seemed. The whole neighborhood seemed so much bigger when we were running around as kids playing football, hide and seek, kick the can, release, freeze tag, kick ball, hill dill, SPUD (by the way, you don't get a period after spelling SPUD, it is a word, not a sentence) and wiffle ball.
     I remember that we came home from school, went outside and played until it was time to ride our bikes or walk to the local field for practice. No facebook... no instagram, snap chat or any other social media. No travel teams and no specialization in one sport. We just played whatever happened to be in season.
     My goodness what a deprived childhood... MY KIDS HAVE!!!!!!
     We went through every room of that now-empty house... and each room had a story.
     My parents had raised six kids in that house with the small yard... with the corner of the garden being first base, the dead pear tree as second base (dead because it was second base for several wiffle ball seasons) and the small stone... not the bigger stone next to it... was third. I want to make that clear because the confusion as to which stone was third always led to several arguments... and the general area where you stood and swung was home. You would have thought we could have thrown a shirt down or something for home plate, but we rarely did.
     I explained to my kids that over the course of time, I was moved into every bedroom except my parents' master bedroom... which only got the title of master bedroom because it had its own bathroom.
     I laughed at the memories of sharing my room with my two nephews when my brother and his family moved back to live with my parents for a period of time. Not surprisingly, my nephews had their own great stories about every room from the time that they lived there.
     The thought occurred to me that I did not need a retreat to help me raise my kids. I got all the instruction that I needed on Kennison Lane.
     After most of the work was done, we all lingered on the living room floor and exchanged our own great memories of growing up in this house. It was one of the few times that I wished that I were not the youngest sibling. So much happened without me... I mean it's true that nobody's life was complete until I came around... but they did manage to do stuff before I was born... or was adopted by the Indians as my sister often informed me.
     As we drove off, I once again commented about having the house all to myself and then having to share a room with a ten-year old and a twelve-year old. Cheryl asked if I would change anything.
     The answer was easy... absolutely not.
     Life was always good on Kennison Lane!  
~ Joe, Michel, Mom, Jeff, and Funny Guy. Paul and Sheree not pictured ~
~ Get down from there Michel! Dad wouldn't like that! ~

~ Mom...  aka "Grandma" ~
~ The "P" in the patio ~

Friday, August 8, 2014

Funny Guy Friday... I just want to get there...

    In spite of my family's failure to understand the meaning of doing nothing... we had a great vacation. Unfortunately, it came to an end on Saturday as we made the trek home from North Myrtle Beach. As we traveled, it became very clear to me that Cheryl and I have had very different family vacation experiences.
    This was never more evident than when Cheryl excitedly suggested that we stop at the North Carolina rest stop because... North Carolina has great rest stops and this is going to be a good one! 
    What? A rest stop is a place to take a pee when you don't need to get gas! If you do need gas, you go to a nice North Carolina gas station and bypass all rest stops! 
    That is not true... when we were kids, we stopped at every rest stop along the way. We would get peanuts in Georgia and fresh-squeezed orange juice in Florida. We loved stopping.   
    We don't stop... for anything... except gas and bathroom breaks! And when we do stop, it is a one-stop shop... Preferably, there's a Dairy Queen, but if not... no ice cream until we hit our destination. And to be even more succinct, no crossing the road for gas or bathroom breaks. Having to make a left turn is a non-starter! There is always a gas station up ahead... on the right! Hold it until we get there! 
    You don't enjoy the journey, you just want to get there!
    That is correct.  I want to get there, and then I want to get back. I want to do it in as short a time as possible... and I want to arrive before my expected time of arrival. I detest anything that slows me down.
    This was never more evident than when, in a moment of weakness, I agreed to stop to feed my family. I needed gas and there was a request for Chik-Fil-A from the back seat. I saw a sign for gas and a Chik-Fil-A right off of exit 61.  I thought that I could curry favor by killing two birds with one stone right off of exit 61.
    As we exited, I saw no restaurant and no gas station. Against my better judgment, I continued. I was perfectly calm... for about the first mile. This restaurant and this gas station were nowhere to be seen. I may have expressed my displeasure and accused this major chain of false advertising at the three-mile mark. After four miles, I had to make another turn off of that road to get to the food.
    Four miles... that is ridiculous!
    Where do you have to be? 
    Home... I need to get home and I need to do it in less time than it took to get down to Myrtle Beach. This is killing my time. I may say something to the manager about that sign.
    Does every one have kids that are mortified at the thought of their parent complaining. I had absolutely no intention of actually complaining to the manager, but when I made the threat, I got the impression that my kids would have preferred that I pull a gun and shoot the poor slob versus making a formal complaint.
    To make matters worse, they forgot Noah's nuggets. That was forgivable... Noah could have eaten some of his brother's fries for all I cared... but we had wasted close to an hour. That I could not forgive. As a result of this personal affront, I have declared Chik-Fil-A off of my list until further notice.
    My pleasure... my rear end!
    Once we got started back on the road, we had our usual battle for control of the radio.
    My dad used to rule on all radio-related activity in the car. Whatever he put on, stayed on. Typically, it was talk radio. I hated talk radio, but the thought of touching the dial and changing stations was unthinkable.
    Our front seat, on the other hand, is a scene out of the Wild Wild West!
    Anything goes to get to your station. My strategy is to flip around and if I happen to hit a song that Cheryl likes but I don't, I quickly hit the button in the hopes that she did not hear. When Cheryl hears my music choices, she typically fakes a headache. Certain favorites of mine invoke the worst headaches. Jackson Brown invokes a mild pain behind her eyes. The Rolling Stones causes a throbbing on the top of her head, and Springsteen causes a full-out migraine. If she doesn't immediately flip the channel, she turns the volume down to dog levels.
    Of course, if ABBA, The Carpenters or Toto are playing on a new channel, she recovers long enough to turn the volume up. The headaches return once The Doors shows up!
    We actually got into an argument over 80's music.
    Cheryl loves channel 8 on XM Radio which plays 80's music. I expressed my displeasure with hearing the Go-Go's for the tenth time and she said the music you like came out during the same time frame. The Rolling Stones played in the 80's, Bob Dylan played in the 80's, Neil Young played in the 80's.
     No, no, no, no... just because they happened to have songs that were popular in the 80's. they are not known for 80's music. They had great songs in four or five different decades. 80's music is full of one-hit wonders and songs with a specific sound... an awful specific sound. To place those classic rock groups and singers in the same musical genre as the The Bengals, Cyndi Lauper and Rick Springfield is a joke! 
     We agreed to disagree. Fortunately, I was able to change the station in the middle of the argument, so it was not a total waste of time.   
     The worst of all worlds is when the kids start flipping channels from the back. Who knew that they could even do that? For the longest time, I thought that Cheryl was changing channels through telekinesis. She just sat there and channels were changing to songs that neither one of us even recognized. I was afraid to do anything when the station landed on some rap song because I honestly thought that Cheryl might be some type of bipolar witch. I was relieved... and a bit embarrassed... when I found out that Gracie was the guest DJ rocking it from the back seat
     Fortunately, we made it home safe and sound. Unfortunately, I was unable to beat my time. Typically, I blame Cheryl for these types of failures. This time, the finger was pointed directly at
     Four miles... I still can't believe it.
     On a different note...our little man has hit double digits. That's right, Noah turned ten this week. Actually, he is ten going on thirty. He has such a mature presence and sense of humor, it is hard to believe he is only ten years old.
     When he was younger, he loved being with his momma. I used to say that if Cheryl and I ever got into a custody battle, Matthew would want to go with me, Noah would go with Cheryl, and Grace would go to a friend's house.
     Now, I am not so sure about Noah. I think he likes me more than Cheryl at this point. Not that I keep score on such things... But I do!
      Anyway, Noah and I are hanging out more and more these days. On vacation, he was my partner in crime, hanging out on the beach, in the water, building sand sculptures, shopping or parking the car after dropping off the rest of the crew at the condo's entrance.
      His sense of others at such a young age is pretty amazing as he opens doors for his mom, his grandmothers or just about any damsel in distress. He walks arm in arm with his grandmothers, he talks with kids that may be sitting by themselves, and he helps around the house without being asked. All reasons why I love him the most... er uh... I mean... all great reasons to love him.
      Grace and Matthew actually do make the accusation that Noah is my favorite child. I tell them that he is cuter than they are, so it is a pretty simple choice. Of course, I don't really have a favorite child... I love them all the same.
      Having said that, sometimes, Noah is just so dang easy to love!
      Happy birthday, buddy.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Funny Guy Friday… Doing nothing...

     Funny Guy Friday is written each week by my husband Mark. So, I married a funny guy...
     "There is one all time greatest moment in the history of sports… and it happened in the 1932 World Series. The story goes that in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs, a full count and the tying run on base, Babe Ruth raised his arm and pointed to the center field bleachers. No one believed it because no one had ever done it before, but the Babe was calling his shot..."
     We were a half-hour into a nine-hour drive to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, when Noah asked if we could pop The Sandlot into the DVD player. And with that first line from the greatest baseball movie ever made, we officially began our summer vacation.
     We really had not even finalized our plans until a few weeks ago.
     I had specified only one criterion for Cheryl when I asked to her to decide where we should go… I want to do nothing… nothing at all. 
     I had thought these were simple instructions that had provided a wide variety of destinations and opportunities.
     Earlier this summer, we had been invited to spend some time with friends at their lake house in northern Michigan. This was an option that intrigued Cheryl, so with my simple instructions, she hatched Plan A.
     Plan A included driving to Niagara Falls for a couple of days... and then driving to Ohio to go to the world's greatest amusement park... and then heading to the Great Wolf Lodge for an overnight… and then driving on to Michigan where we would stay with our friends for a few days before heading over to visit Mackinac Island for a day or two. Of course, at the end of our stay, we would be rewarded with an eleven-hour drive home.
     Honey, that is a lot of something… mainly driving... and it is clearly not doing nothing. In fact, it is a lot of stuff… but mostly driving! Can we please get a Plan B. 
     Sure honey... do you want to get another family to go with us… that would be fun. 
     It might be a little difficult to get another family to join us on such short notice.  
     Well, you know that our friends in Michigan invited us... we could go see them.  
     I understand... and it's not that I don't like the folks in Michigan, it is just that I don't want to do all that driving and visit our friends... and besides, this is Grace's last vacation before college.  It might be nice to just spend this one with just our family!
     Cheryl concurred, and after a few days, I was presented with Plan B.
     Plan B included a trip to Niagara Falls... followed by a drive to Ohio for amusement park fun... then a short stay at the Great Wolf Lodge before driving to Michigan to see our friends. Oh, and a day trip to  Mackinac Island.
     Honey, what am I missing? Plan B looks an awful lot like Plan A. 
     It is… but I mapped it out for you... so you could see it on paper. What do you think?
     I think it is a lot of driving… I want to do nothing… nothing at all! Don't mind some driving just not five days of driving.
     How about the beach?
     Sounds great. 
     I love the beach, the perfect place to just sit and relax and do nothing.
     I could not wait to get started. I was so anxious that I decided that we would leave on Friday night and drive halfway and get an early start on Saturday and start our week of doing nothing.
     Friday did not go as planned… we forgot that we had a dog and neglected to make plans for him and besides Noah, nobody was packed. We go on one vacation a year and we cannot remember to pack. No problem, we would get up early on Saturday, leave at the crack of dawn and get to South Carolina in time for 5:30 evening Mass. Get church knocked out of the way on Saturday and be ready to do nothing early on Sunday morning.
     Apparently, Saturday's "crack of dawn" leave time was redefined as 10:00 a.m., and you won't believe this but... there were no 9:30 evening Masses in all of South Carolina when we arrived.
     Again, no problem; we would get to the first Mass on Sunday and then we could still get an early start. Soon we would all be doing nothing as a family.
     Noah was all-in with my plan to get the week off on the right foot, but I got a little blowback from the his two older siblings. They somehow got the mistaken idea that they were on vacation and that they had done something to deserve sleeping in for a few days.
     I totally disagreed, but in the spirit of compromise I agreed to attend the eleven o'clock Mass on Sunday morning.
     Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men: the church that we selected was not there. Poof! It was gone. Evidently, we were staying in North Myrtle Beach, and not technically Myrtle Beach where the eleven-o'clock Mass church was. Worse than that, we missed the much-preferred 10 o'clock Mass at the local church, and the next Mass did not start until noon! Noon, as in, by the time the Priest is done with his homily… it is going to be 1:15 and I won't be out on the beach until after 2:00 p.m. and there won't be any good sun left for me. 
     I was not a happy camper!
     How can you be upset when all you wanted to do was nothing? We have to go to Mass and you can't just joyfully give God an hour of your time? We need to go to Mass. I can still hear your instructions… 'I just want to do nothing… nothing at all.' And she said it all in an annoying, nasally kind of way. I can assure you that God was not very happy with her at this point.
      First of all, I have no problem giving God an hour… but for some reason, that God only knows, He vanquished the church with the Mass that worked on my schedule. Second, we can still be doing something even when we are doing nothing. Lying on the beach or out by a pool qualifies as doing nothing. Third of all, I don't talk like that. Am I right, Noah? 
     I went right to Noah because I knew he shared my desire to get the ball rolling on doing nothing. He sort of nodded but added that sometimes I do talk like that.
     We got settled into our pew for the noon Mass, and Cheryl got on her knees to say a prayer before things got started. A women started playing the organ in what I perceived to be the start of the service. She played and she played. She played so long that Cheryl completed her prayer and was seated back in the pew. I looked at my imaginary wrist watch and turned to Matthew and commented that she must have been the warm-up act and that they needed to get this show on the road. My thoughts about her being the warm up act were confirmed when the congregation started to clap. Seriously, who claps for the organist at Mass?
     Unfortunately, Cheryl was eavesdropping on my private conversation with my son and rolled her eyes before dropping back down on her knees to say yet another prayer... this one dedicated entirely for me.
     Mass finally ended with the congregation whipping out their Bic lighters in an attempt to coax an encore from the organist. I am just kidding about that, but it would not have surprised me.
     We, and by we, I mean Noah and I, finally made it to the beach... at about 1:45 p.m.  I must say, I was right; the beach was perfect for just sitting there and doing nothing.  
     Remember my ally, Noah?
     It turns out that he and I have very different views on "doing nothing."
     I do nothing when I am just lying there doing nothing. He, on the other hand, likes to swim or build some elaborate sand sculpture or throw the Frisbee. Why, he had us doing something the whole time we were supposed to be doing nothing. Of course, I was his only do-nothing-mate because he and I were the only ones down at the beach. The rest of the group was up in the condo... doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
     To be clear, doing nothing is acceptable, but doing absolutely nothing is unacceptable.
     What kind of vacation is that? Who bums around the condo the whole time? You can do that at home. No no no no no… I was not going to let this stand.
     Of course, when I pointed out the obvious, I was the bad guy who had to be doing something all the time! 
     Nonsense… I just want to do nothing… nothing at all.
     We seemed to find our groove as the vacation progressed.
     We never got started as early as I would have liked, but everyone seemed to get some much-needed rest. Except, of course, for me. I lay awake worrying about what I wasn't going to do the next day.
     In the end, I discovered that doing nothing can be exhausting!
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