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Posts Tagged ‘Embarrassing Family Stories’

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I love maps; I studied geography in college, not as part of my career goals, but just because it was interesting. 

When my friend and blogging buddy told me about ClustrMaps and I saw the link info on her site, it looked like fun. 
I like seeing where the people who visit my blog come from.  It makes me feel connected to the world, and chances are I will never visit some of the far flung places in the world that drop by my blog for a visit.  Welcome.  Stay and have a cup of tea while you read.   Someday I hope to get to Europe & stay in a castle, any castle will do.  (I know they are drafty…I will bring a sweater.) We have plans for an Alaskan cruise in 2010….but I’m afraid that my long desired trip to the Holy Land will have to wait.

When I was growing up, my family travelled cross-country…three times…from coast to coast…by car.  When we lived in the east, there were trips to Georgia, Florida and the east coast…New York, New England, Canada and our nation’s capital. 
I was always in charge of the AAA Trip-tick on these adventures.  I read aloud from the appropriate tour book that listed the hotels and points of interest along the way. 

I know what you’re thinking…..”Oh how romantic and fun that must have been!”…..traveling by car, learning about the United States, meeting interesting people…visiting national parks, monuments, historic cities…seeing America up close…Yes, that would have been fun. 
Let me clarify…
I would have enjoyed the maps, the traveling and the history much more, if my father was the kind of person that actually pulled over to enjoy the scenic outlooks that the tour books boasted about. 

Rather, our stops were fast…fill the car up with gas and a potty break for the occupants…including the dog.  Sometimes the stops were just to let the dog out for a quick pee and maybe  a poop.  Teddy got really good at holding it in for…..hours.  She was the only dog I have ever seen who could cross her legs.  Since she also had motion sickness, we had to give her Dramamine.  I still have a vivid memory of her vomiting on the edge of a mountain road on the way to Big Bear, CA.  Poodle puke is not pretty. 
Sad face. 

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Some of these cross country road trips also included my 70-ish year old grandmother.  
While having three generations trapped in a vehicle is great for family togetherness & bonding….one member of our family was not thrilled.  You see, my dog HATED the sound of my grandma’s voice. 
So we had to medicate her during the trips….the dog…not my grandmother.   

Fortunately for Teddy, the Dramamine helped her sleep…again, the dog slept…. not my grandmother.
Oh no!  Grandma did not sleep, maybe briefly doze off perhaps, but never a good long nap…filling the car with peaceful quiet….
Those brief ‘cat naps’ (sorry Teddy) gave Grandma the energy to talk, a lot.  Grandma had opinions to force upon you share; people to gossip talk about…

My grandmother did not approve of the music selections, restaurant choices (she wasn’t paying), conversation topics, or the level of the air conditioning.  She was not afraid of loudly voicing her opinions and Grandma’s opinions were many. 
During her lectures, Teddy would have her head buried in my mom’s armpit, even the Dramamine didn’t help. 
Sometimes she would whimper….(yes, the dog.) 
There were times during the trips that I’m sure my dad wished he could slip her a ‘little something’…in this case…his mother…not the dog.

As far as the music selections, don’t get excited.  We had approximately a dozen 8 Track tapes…remember those?  Montavanni & His Orchestra, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Doc Severinsen (from Tonight Show fame), Nat King Cole….(I heard Mona Lisa so many times that I could probably re-write an arrangement  of it today, myself – from memory.)  Then, there was the very jazzy 8 track tape that came with the car.  I can’t remember all the performers, but every time I hear Carlos Santana’s “Oye como va“, I am transported to a long stretch of deserted highway somewhere in the continental US. 
I actually have the music playing “as we speak”…it’s giving me, my inspiration.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpPb2cVswlI

While Grandma claimed to not like the the uptempo numbers, she kept time by tapping on the passenger window….for miles……(she really liked the Carlos Santana piece.)  Sometimes we could get a smile out of Grandma by singing a chorus of “Sweet Hour of Prayer” along with Tennessee Ernie Ford in Donald Duck voices.  And they call this…talent. 
There were other artists, but I can’t remember the titles now…the tapes have long since been donated to the Smithsonian. 
(Although Manilow’s “Even Now ” 8 track is still around here somewhere.  Notice:  Any snotty anti-Barry Manilow comments will earn you an immediate place of dishonor in the Spam folder.)

During one rather eventful trip, my mom was seated behind my grandmother.  Mom was in the direct line air conditioning for hours;  she had a serious case of bronchitis/pneumonia by the time we reached our destination.  Luckily, hospitals are also listed in the AAA tour books.

I saw the Grand Canyon as a ‘tween.’  My father parked the car, we got out, walked to edge, stared out and took a photo.  I still have the pic of me and Teddy in a photo album…acid free of course.  My dad said “that’s the Grand Canyon.”  We got back in the car.  The little tour had taken away 10 minutes from our valuable drive time. 

Teddy was not without her colorful moments.  Once in Canada after the Olympics in Montreal, a lovely Canadian with a French accent asked if he could pet Teddy.   I did not understand, “Does she bite?  in French….fortunately he moved his hand before she tried to give him a nip.   She was an adorable dog, and the fact that she wore her security ‘blanket’ sweater even in the summer made her even cuter.  I apologized profusely for my dog, I must have had the gene for diplomacy even then.  The gentleman was very kind and accepted my regrets for the behavior of my medicated poodle.  Turned out he was some sort of Canadian diplomat….good thing Teddy did not start an international incident. 

My husband’s traveling experiences were similar to mine. 
His family made approximately 15 trips between CA and the Midwest during his childhood. 
My in-laws had two weeks vacation each year and they did not want to spend all of it driving.  Hubby’s father and mother would take turns at the wheel, stopping only for potty breaks until they reached their destination.  Hubby’s CA grandma would make sandwiches for the trip….
Hubby says they had to hope the food would last and not spoil….luckily Coleman coolers had been invented by then…..

His family would always begin their journeys late at night or in the wee morning hours…to get through the desert while it was cool. 
Of course this meant the first leg of the trip was in the dark….making it difficult to see the beautiful scenery. 
There were often conversations like the following –
“Hey Kids!  Here’s Yosemite….But Dad, it’s 3 am – it’s kinda dark!” 
“Oh look!  That was an indian reservation!…Really? Where?” 
It’s a wonder when we were growing up that neither one of us had whiplash from watching the scenery zoom past. 

Hubby is willing to share some personal anecdotes of travelling with his family: 
One trip all the children had coloring books.  They kept the new crayons in a coffee can…never put a coffee can filled with crayons in the back window of an Oldsmobile on a hot August morning…..

There was the time in Arizona….on a indian reservation…surprisingly enough during daylight hours…when Father-in-law bought fireworks.  “FIL” thought he was purchasing the tiny ‘lady fingers’ fireworks, when what he actually bought were full fledged firecrackers.  “FIL” thought it would be funny to light one off in the car…..I mean, light a firework in the car…don’t EVEN get me started on personal emissions.  After the blast rocked the station wagon, I’m surprised they all didn’t lose their hearing.  Could this be why sometimes Hubby says “Huh?” when I ask him a question?   

…Then there was the time that the brakes went out on the Oldsmobile, coming down out of Loveland Pass in Colorado…wheee…Rocky Mountain Higgggggggggh!  My mother-in-law nearly had a nervous breakdown from the joy ride down the mountain road. 

I don’t think I can tell you what happened in Yosemite…I’ll check to see if there’s a statute of limitations on flowers before my next post on Clustr Maps.  So – between hubby and I, we’d seen lots of the country by car…at 60 – 70  miles an hour or whatever….speed that our fathers could get by with…the speed limit allowed…often in the dark.

Coming in Part II – Stories from the Road when you take the time to stop and “Smell (Don’t pick) the Flowers!”
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      If you’ve wondered why I don’t blog much about my older sons, it is for a very simple reason.  These three boys who were once cradled in my arms, spit up on my shoulders, these boys, my children who now tower over me, they forbid me to blog about them. 

     When Peter found out that I had another hobby he said….”Mom!  You haven’t even finished my high school scrapbook yet….what do you need with another hobby?  You cannot blog about me!  What if my friends see it?!”  “If your friends see it, it will drive my blog stats up!” I said, smiling at the thought.  “I’ve already agreed to not get a My Space account…give me blogging at least!” I said.

     Peter called his brothers.  There was some sort of sibling “Geneva Convention” that convened in my kitchen.  The subject of debate was on the fair & ethical treatment (not blogging) about grown…nearly grown sons….you should have heard the whining.  Do you want cheese to go with that? 

     “Mom!  You cannot blog about the time we went camping and we had to ‘go bad’, so we went behind those trees!”   I was laughing. “Guys!” Do you know how many little boys pee behind trees while they are camping?  That’s really not going to be news.  And it wasn’t just one time!” 

     Timothy said, “Mom, please don’t tell anyone about when the three of us were ring bearers at that wedding…..”  I had to think for a minute.  “Oh, you mean when the three of you were doing Kung Fu moves while you were standing on the altar during the ceremony?”  Matthew shook his head, “No, remember the bride and groom liked that so much they had the photographer take our picture doing it again afterwards?”  “I have that photo in one of the albums…..maybe I should just go through your old albums and get ideas for blogs….”  “No!” they shouted in unison. 

     “Okay, then what was the incident at the wedding?”  Tim said, “Mom, if you remember it wasn’t just one thing….I was picking my nose during the ceremony and those two were scratching themselves.”  Peter quickly said, “I couldn’t help it, the tag was itchy!” 

     Matt reminded me of the ‘piece de resistance’….”Remember, we helped ourselves to cake before the bride and groom had even cut their slices?.”  Oh yes, I remembered that.  At least it was from the back of the cake and it didn’t show.  The wedding couple had been more than gracious. When they were planning the wedding, I had asked them repeatedly if they were sure they wanted children in their wedding party or even at their wedding.  They were sure.  She was a kindergarten teacher, he taught special ed.  “Yes, I remember the cake, the scratching, the nose picking and Kung Fu fighting those were truly Kodak moments for sure.”  Too bad we didn’t have digital cameras then. 

     “I remember that you guys used to play ‘naked super hero.’  (Noticeable horrified looks.)  You guys would throw your dirty clothes in the laundry room, put your super hero capes from old costumes or pajamas and then you would run around the house, naked, before getting into the bath tub.” 

     As the afternoon wore on, they remembered of more and more times of things that I could not blog about. I promised that I won’t tell anyone that Tim was infatuated with the vacuum cleaner, Matt would carry the hair dryer around the house and “plug it in” to the couch cushions and Peter had a small crock pot that he would “cook in.”   Legos were his ingredients.  Sam chimed in a few times, once with “that’s nothing…you didn’t tell that lady in the pharmacy that Mama had a rash!  Besides, what’s the big deal?  People come to her site to read her posts on that NPD thing anyway.” 

     I think sometimes we forget the stories of the cute or embarrassing things our children did, even with scrapbooks and journaling….honestly though, my first three sons were not nearly as “colorful” as Sam.      I think Sam prides himself in giving me material to blog about.  The older boys were so easy….and then came Sam.  I have stories about Sam that could fill a blog. 

      Tim, Matt, Pete and I have come to an understanding….I will not tell the embarrassing stories about them and they will continue to sit in my kitchen, while raiding the refrigerator and having sibling pow wows.

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 We were at a dinner party with family and extended family recently.  Our grown sons were there, as well as some people we had not seen for several months.  One member present has never caught on about inappropriate topics of discussion or language for that matter, when children are present.  I am one of, (I believe) the last handful of people on earth who think that children should get to be children for as long as possible.  When the boys were small, I would remind our family member that “there are ears at the table.”  That always quieted him down. 

The evening was progressing nicely, the dinner, delicious, when the conversation grew quite lively over a particular aspect of the coming election.  Nearly everyone had joined in the heated discussion, when from Sam & his cousin’s end of the table, we hear in that clear, crisp voice….yes, think of the pharmacy story….he said “Excuse me!  There are EARS at the table.”  That stopped everyone where they sat.  The instigator of the story was quiet the rest of the evening.

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Around this time every year, the ironing board comes out.  I search through the linen closet for the spray starch and the iron, I got as a wedding gift MANY years ago.  (Yes, it is the kind that plugs in…..) 

Summer vacation is over, it’s time to go back to work.  All the office clothes come out from hiding.  Each item gets the once over and the….”Well I guess this could use some ironing.”  My sons see this and say, “Mom’s ironing!  Time to go back to school!”  Yes, I only iron once a year.  Once everything has been worn to work and then laundered again, that blouse is on its own.  I confess, I have NEVER ironed my sheets.  Who’s going to see them? 

Do you remember the new product that Downy Soft Rinse came out with?  It was supposed to all but eliminate wrinkles.  Well – I am hoarding gallons of it in the bomb shelter.  If it is true that cockroaches will survive humans, they won’t have to worry about wrinkles. 

Seriously, the fabrics of our generation are not those of our mother’s or grandmother’s.  (Is anyone else glad that the bullet-proof polyester of the 70’s is gone?)  When things are taken out of the washer promptly, (not allowed to dry in a twisted bunch in the washer…..I never do that) and then quickly hung up, there are very few wrinkles. My family has never looked like Shar-Pei puppies when they left the house. 

Thinking about ironing or rather not ironing, reminds me of a story…C’mon you knew one was coming. 

When Sam was barely three…, Oh, Sam was an outspoken little dear…  

We were in our drug store waiting to pick up a prescription.  Seems I had managed to pick up a lovely little skin condition from one of the children in my day care business at the time.  My business ended shortly after this event, because I was tired of checks bouncing and the ‘little skin condition’ left me thinking about signing up to be an ‘extra’ in a remake of Ben Hur. 

This case of ringworm was not just a ‘little bump’, this was seriously nasty.  After three trips to the doctor, she finally saw the rash in its full glory, or gory, take your pick,  I was hoping that it would be ‘three times the charm’ for this new ointment, and it would be cleared up for good.

We waited near the pick up window, after I had steered Sam away from the condom and personal hygiene aisle… “Really, they’re balloons for grown ups”…Into the pharmacy walked a woman in a black cocktail dress, stiletto heels, & blond hair that looked like it never had “Chicken Mc Nugget fingers” run though it…(her loss).  To coin a phrase from my father-in-law…”she was stacked like a brick outhouse.”  (Personally, I’ve never seen a brick porta-potty.)  

Sam immediately gave her the once over.  Then he looked over at his mommy.  Stirrup pants…remember those?  One of Daddy’s over-sized t-shirts, running shoes, no makeup and hair pulled into a pony tail.  I was the before photo for Extreme Makeover.  He looked at me and smiled.  I wondered if Sammy had ever seen “tired Mommy” dressed up.  More importantly, I silently wished that the pharmacist would hurry with my medicine. 

Sam continued to stare at the woman in black.  She did not appear to be very comfortable around children, or maybe it was because Sam was circling her, in a friendly manner….(I knew I shouldn’t have let him watch “Shark Week”….)  He finally looked up at her, batted his eye lashes and said, “We’re here to get medicine for my mommy’s rash!”   She gave me a weak smile; at least she didn’t burst into hysterical laughter…

Why wasn’t there a hole for me to climb into?   I tried to distract Sam with an informational brochure on hangnails or something light hearted like that.  My usual standby, the blood pressure machine was out of order.  The highlight of a trip to the drug store was taking mom’s blood pressure.  It was a good thing that it was out of order; I didn’t want to know that my b/p was 160/100. 

The pharmacist told the blond bombshell that her prescription would be up next.  Apparently mine was taking some time.  It must be tricky to mix ‘eye of newt’ with ‘wolfsbane’.  Sam seized the opportunity, he slid off the chair where I had him cornered, walked over to the blond woman, and before I could scoop him up, he looked up at her and said, “My Mommy has an iron and an ironing board – and she never uses them!”  I looked at her, smiled and I said, “This is such a proud Mom moment!”

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     I have long been of the opinion that dust “is a protective coating.”  You can also write a quick note to a loved one, or a phone number, if no paper is available when you take that pesky phone call.  As Martha Stewart says, “it’s a good thing….” Yes, I know she never meant to include dust. 

    We have finally come out of the Stone Age and entered the Modern Era in our home.  We’ve gone wireless, with fiber optics.  (Those two things may not even go together, I am the first to admit that I am technically challenged as you will later learn in a post yet to be released.)  We were scheduled for service that took ALL day.  I figured that the technician would plug in a couple of things and we’d be set.  After he had been working for about an hour, he started sneezing.  I was afraid that he was allergic to the cats. Hmm no, it was the dust.  It was pretty embarrassing the amount of dust and ‘calico mouse’ cat toys that were behind and underneath the wall unit.  In my defense, let me say that this is a MASSIVE wall unit. 

     Our technician, I’ll call him Joe, had to run out for a missing piece of equipment.  Personally, I think he was going to find some Benadryl.  The moment his truck left the driveway, I yelled, “Somebody grab the vacuum!!” Before ‘Joe’ returned, there wasn’t a missing cat toy or spec of dust to be found in my house, the carpet looked brand new.  The underwear and socks behind our son’s bedroom door were even gone.  All of our cats’ playthings were neatly tucked in their toy basket.  Our gray and yellow cat sat next to it, awaiting Joe’s return. 

     Joe was able to finish without incident or sneeze, and even found it amusing that the cat sat nearby as he worked, watching.  She does the same thing with our plumber, and I could swear that if the plumber asked her, she’d hand him a wrench. 

     Now we have Internet in the time it takes to breathe, a total of 22 assorted cat toys were found and returned to the fold, and I won’t have to dust for say…at least 6 months…or until the next workman arrives.  I will be forever grateful that there will be no dust in Heaven.

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