Thursday, May 15, 2008

Necessity is the Brother of Invention

So the little guys have had it with being squished in a room together. It's time to strike out on their own, leave the nest, stretch their wings and fly. I just hope they bring lots of tape.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Shock and Awe

That's what I felt when I opened the envelope. Shannon asked for my address a couple of weeks before, and I'd anxiously been watching the mailbox ever since. Shannon's the one in the Mickey Mouse sweatshirt, while I, in all my 7th grade glory, am looking rather daring in my denim jacket. My older sis, is looking fab in MY plaid pants. We all lived in the same block of civil war era apartments at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where our dads were stationed. It was a very hot social scene, and we had a lot of crazy adventures together. We said goodbye at the end of the 9th grade when my family was transferred out west. We lost touch for a couple of decades, then she found my email address and wrote to find out what I'd become.

What had I become?

Hmmm, that's a tough one.

How about an expert in son manufacturing and distribution?

Queen of a small city state, plotting to conquer the world with my offspring?

That sounds about right.

So when she asked for my address, I assumed she'd stumbled upon priceless photos like the one above.
There were no photos in the envelope. I found, instead, a gift card to Macy's. She frequents my blog, and when she read about my ill-fated swimsuit dreams, my pain was her pain. So, in her infinite compassion, she reached out to me in love, and curiosity. See, she had a few stipulations for it's use.
#1 despite any family needs, spend the money solely on myself. Ha! No problem there.
#2 post what I spent it on.
So what did I do? I grabbed my mom, and we went shopping!
We tried on dresses, and suits...

Here's my mom with her "I can't believe I'm letting you take this picture, I know I'm going to look bad" look. Come on, Mom, loosen up! During this process, we realized that we have freakishly similar hands.Even the same crooked pinky.
I tried on a few tankini tops that didn't do me any favors. One made me look like a saggy elephant. One left a lot to be desired in the 'support' department, if you know what I mean. Then, I happened upon this little beauty:And I knew love. There was music playing, there were little sparkles in the air. It was magic. It's comfortable, secure, generous where it should be, multiplying my assets, obscuring any squishy parts. Hmm, it sounds like a man instead of a swim suit! I paired it with a cute blue swim skirt that is cellulite covering length, and we were in business.
I can't believe I'm actually posting photos of me in a swimsuit on my blog, but you wanted to see what I bought. A promise is a promise. Thanks, Shannon, you've done a great service to mankind.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Why were you in Poland, anyway?

Well my friends, I'll tell you the whole story. I want you to let your minds wander to the distant past. Travel with me back to a time of innocence, back to fall of 1991. The leaves are starting to turn gold, the air is crisp and the apples are hanging ripe on the tree in my backyard. Inside the house is a flurry of activity. I'm standing in front of a mirror, putting the final curls in my chin-length hair. I fiddle with the brooch on the front of my black brocade dress. I made it myself from a vogue pattern. My little brother, dressed as a waiter, is darting from room to room, pretending to be a spy. In the loft of the sun room, a fancy table is laid, all ready for a homecoming feast. The doorbell rings, my handsome prince arrives in a brand new gray suit. He's tall and blond, with broad shoulders and a goofy grin. This isn't his school's homecoming, it's mine. A year older than me, he'd graduated in June. His eyes are sparkling as I descend the staircase to meet him. No, it's not my beauty that's dazzled him, he's come with news. "I got my mission call today, I'm going to Warsaw, Poland!" It was a brand new mission, exciting and exotic. We talked about his dreams and plans, dancing and holding hands.
Flash forward to summer of 2006
My aunt in trying her best to cajole me into taking an exchange student. "Why would an exchange student want to live with us? We don't have any teenagers!" I reason.
"He's from Poland, L could speak Polish with him."
"Where would we even put him? On the couch?"
"Just think about it," she begged. "No one else will take him. If he doesn't have at least a welcoming family, they won't even let him on the plane." That got to me.
"Fine. If it comes down to him not being able to come, he can sleep on our couch for a week. How's that?"
Well, that was how things stood until I read his letter to his host family. He spoke of his fascination with America, his desire to spread his wings and have an adventure. He told us of his love for his family, and how much he helped out at home. That was it. I called my husband at work, and said, "Honey, I've found a puppy. He's from Poland, can we keep him?" He was thrilled, because he'd wanted him all along. He wasn't going to be the one with the extra burden, though, so he'd let me decide. So Kuba came. We found out later that the touching letter he wrote was all lies, he invented it out of whole cloth because his dad wouldn't let him go to a party until he'd written it. It was too late by then, we already loved him. Ah, Kuba, and his rap-loving soccer watching ways. Kuba's dad was thrilled to learn that he and L worked in the auto industry. They met at an NADA conference and hit it off famously. They attended classes together, and Marek learned more about what L does. He was impressed, and asked him to speak to a group of Polish dealership owners that night. They were impressed. They invited him to come to Poland and put on a seminar and training. Because this wasn't strictly for work, and in order for the trip to be kosher with corporate, I was invited to come along as his pay. We went, had a fabulous time, and I thought that was my first and last encounter with that magical (but very cold in November) land. Now, he's been invited again to do some teaching, and who gets to come? You guessed it, me. Woo hoo!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Our Epic Journey

My neighbor and I have never been to Ikea, and our lives have been an empty sham. Feeling that aching emptiness in the place a trip to Ikea should be, I hatched a scheme. My sister was having a baby, and she lives by a large city. A city with an Ikea. We decided we'd haul all the seats out of my van, take the three hour drive, kiss the baby, and have a shopping trip of dreams. There was one problem though. Her husband wanted to come. If her husband was coming, nothing was going to keep my husband from coming along. So our girl's getaway turned into a double date.

We took off early in the morning, and all was smooth sailing until just before we hit the mountain pass. Then the engine started overheating. Luckily, we were close to a little town with a mechanic.This dude took a look, but was too busy to fix our van.
He sent us to this guy. I'll call him "Belly". He told us he'd take a look, and to come back in a hour or so. So we took off walking.
We spent many a diverting moment in a farm supply store.

We found some fascinating ensembles.

Who knew farm supply stores would be so fashion forward?We went to an antique shop that was really more of a thrift store. I had to drag my husband out of there before he bought the book "The Secrets of Psychic Powers". He sighed, and figured he knew everything in that book already, being a psychic and all. "Belly" turned out to be a really nice guy who fixed our van for cheap. It ended up only needing a new thermostat.
We made it to my Sis's house. I got to kiss the baby.
Isn't she sweet? She never did wake up the entire time I was there, despite my repeated encouragements. Here she is with her big sis. I heaved a sigh, and said goodbye. Then she woke up.
Then we went to Ikea. I was right. I hadn't really lived until that moment. We ate, we explored. We dumped tons of money and got really, really tired. I don't have any pictures of this part of the trip, I was too busy peeking in cupboards and closets.
After Ikea, we stopped at an old fashioned burger joint. My husband must have decided things were a little too quiet, because he told the waitress it was J's birthday. I tried to escape to the bathroom to avoid the embarrassing and fraudulent scene, but no dice. The waitress returned, and directed us to the front of the restaurant.
Yeah. It was loud, and he was embarrassed. But, he got a free t-shirt out of it, so it was all good. We took off, and headed for home. We saw about 20 elk! We also saw some pretty nasty blood stains and splatter patterns on the road that I could only assume were wildlife encounters. We talked, we laughed, it was a straight shot from here to home.Until we got pulled over. Apparently, my tabs had expired six weeks ago. As the cop took my husband's license and papers back to his car, I got a mini lecture on how expensive our ticket was going to be. I kinda remembered seeing the postcard in the mail around January, and thinking, 'wow, I have forever until I need to pay this' then I forgot it completely. Luckily, he had bigger fish to fry. He consented to a quick portrait, and the took off after someone whose tabs were way more expired than mine.We drove, laughed, and talked for hours. Please note that while my husband is posing for a picture and making a silly face, his eyes are still on the road. He's good about things like that. It was really, really late when we made it home. It was eleven, which in parent years is, like, four in the morning. I stumbled into my room, took off my shoes and fell into bed. "Close your eyes," my husband said, "I don't want you to see your Mother's Day present."
I don't remember anything after that. He unloaded the van, hauled the seats back in, picked up the kids from my parent's house and put them to bed. All the while, I was snoring peacefully. Now that's what I call a Mother's Day present.