Tag Archives: Men I Love

Dads, daughters and dookie

It all happened several summers ago.

There we were, enjoying the Happy Place. For those of you unfamiliar with the Happy Place, it looks like this:

This is Lake Jordan from my point of view, former home of the fabulous Clearwater Resort, current home of fun, sun and Karaoke Bob. Those are my feet. If you look closely, there is something on my big toe. If I had to guess, I would say it was food. The Happy Place is also the messy place.

This is what children look like in the Happy Place:

George

Cece

Oh my God how HAPPY is that?? You can see why we call it the Happy Place, eh? Check out how my brother feels about it. Spoiler alert: HE LOVES IT TOO.

In case you were wondering, The Happy Place is in Wisconsin. So all those folks scouring the globe for a place of peace and happiness and parties featuring rude beer and roasted pigs, stop looking in tropical or exotic locations. A little bit southeast of the Wisconsin Dells is all you need to know.

Anyway, back to my story. It all happened several summers ago. There we were, enjoying the Happy Place. Now, it’s important to know that over its history as a vacation destination, the Happy Place once hosted two resorts and one campground. The campground remains, but the resorts have all given way to more upscale lakeside homes (which may or may not always come with more upscale residents). But on any given weekend in summer, the lake is crawling with boats, jet skis, swimmers, fishermen and other water babies. On any given weekend in winter, the lake is packed full of ice houses and fisherman who, for some demented reason, think that it is fun to drill a hole in the ice and sit there until a fish grabs hold. Clearwater Resort is gone, in its place (but at the top of the hill instead of lakeside) is the tacky and lovable Boondock’s Bar (home of the aforementioned Karaoke Bob. Don’t put in too many songs, he won’t call you).

It is safe to say that upon the thousands and thousands of bodies that have taken to the water over the years, sooner or later, someone is going to have a little dookie. You know what I mean. Number two. Pinch one off. Doodie in the pool. A dump, if you will. In the water. In its history, an Illinois politician who shall remain nameless may have been one of those who took the Browns to the Superbowl at the back of the lake, only, you know, the Browns were a poop and the Superbowl is Lake Jordan. You probably didn’t need me to explain that.

Anyway, as we enjoyed the back of the lake that hot summer afternoon, I heard a familiar voice call for my attention.

“Hey Kid!”

It was my father.

My parents have five children. Carrie, Tommy, Laura, Amy and Marney. And in his lifetime, my father has actually used those names only a handful of times. We are all called, affectionately, Kid, Stosh, Gertrude or Ike. In trouble? Thy name is Clown. In super trouble and about to get hit? You’re called Pal, and you better duck. Call out any of those monikers while we are together, and all of us will turn. But, I was being called Kid, so clearly, I was not in trouble.

“Hey Kid!”

I turn.

“Catch.”

*toss*

In slow motion, I saw it. Being hurdled at me. Brown. Stiff. Log-like.

*smack*

It hits me.

“Dad just threw dookie at Marney!!!!!!!!” Laura shouts.

There was the evidence, floating in the water. My father, upon spotting dookie in the water, thought, “Hmmmmm, what should I do with this? Oh look, there’s my youngest child, I better throw it at her.”

And so it was.

Thus began the family legend of how my father threw dookie at me. Now, to this day, he SWEARS it was just a stick, and I suppose that is possible. Water-logged branchery submerged in Lake Jordan is plentiful, and certainly takes on a dookie-like appearance. And of course, after being doused with dung, I screamed like a little girl and swatted it away, so I certainly didn’t inspect it a la Bill Murray.

Still, I prefer to say that my father, when listing his life achievements, can put “I threw dookie at my kid” somewhere near the top. Or, perhaps, the bottom (bah-dum-dum).

My father turned 71 years old this week. Brought into this world on August 17, 1939, he’s still as sassy as ever — dookie throwing abilities and all. So when you see him, wish him a Happy Birthday.  But be careful at the Happy Place. He’ll throw dookie at you, too.

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Kane and able

There’s some exciting happenings here in the greater Chicagoland area this fine June day. And all thanks to a bunch of guys collectively known as the Chicago Blackhawks.

Let’s start with the obvious: I am not a hockey expert. Not even close. When I lived down in Baton Rouge, where hockey was surprisingly popular, Kayla, Nancy and I, along with other various WBRZers, would often find ourselves at a Baton Rouge Kingfish game. With no idea what was going on, but there were fights on the ice and cold beers in our hands and um, we were young and kinda hot and those were the days, you know what I mean?

My first Blackhawks hockey game was with my sister Laura at some point in my early 20’s. We found our seats at the United Center, somewhere around the ninth row off the ice. I turned around to put my jacket on the chair, and *WHACK* something hit my ass. I turned around and there were a few players warming up on the ice — not Hawks but I can’t remember who they were playing, maybe Tampa — who were actually laughing at me. It was a puck. My big old butt was a bulls eye. I looked around and found that puck on the ground under my seat. I think I still have it somewhere. I also dropped 40 pounds after that!

I watched my first Stanley Cup Final in 2000, while working nightside at WGNO. I do not remember who was playing or who even won (though Wikipedia tells me it was Dallas and New Jersey, and New Jersey won). I do remember that the game went into triple overtime one night… and double overtime the next game. And Al Michaels said, “If you don’t love hockey, you should.” That struck me as very funny and I thought, maybe I should watch hockey. But it wasn’t something I ever got into.

When I moved to Quad Cities, I went to several Quad City Mallards games. There’s a pattern here, in case you were wondering — people who work in television, especially in small markets, really have no issues getting free tickets to minor league games of any kind! I remember one game, when a guy was leaving the ice after a fairly nasty fight, and one of the dudes from the other team was chasing him. And we were all in the stands yelling “BEHIND YOU!!!” like it was a scary movie. That guy — the Mallard — got to the exit, waited for the guy to get close, and pulled the glass door behind him real fast so the would-be attacker just smacked himself into the glass. Hilarious. That was the last time I went to a hockey game until I met my husband in 2004.

Jim loves hockey. Loves it. Loves it so much that, knowing it was not a popular sport in these parts, did not TELL me that he loved it until after we were married. Made it sound like, sure, I’ll watch it if it’s on, but I mean, it’s no big deal. He was a big fat lying liar. He loves hockey. The day he realized I would sit and watch it with him, I think he fell in love with me in a whole new way.

Here’s Jim loving hockey as a baby:

OK, it’s a picture of a picture, so it’s cooked and not so great. But as you can see, he’s wearing a Blackhawks shirt.

Here’s Jim and his friend Eric loving hockey somewhere in the early 90’s:

No comments on the hair people. And by that I mean, no comments on the actual presence of hair. (That’s my thumb in the corner, too, I should really get a scanner.)

Just a few years ago, if you went to the United Center on hockey night, it was a ghost town. Totally dead. These days, it’s packed. Now, there are those folks (Tommy) who like to get into the issue of “true fans” versus “band wagon fans” and all that nonsense. That the “true” fans are the rough and tumble guys in the upper deck who stuck with the team even when they sucked, the same guys who couldn’t afford a playoff ticket even if they sold their alcohol-infused liver on the black market. To this, I say, bah!

First — who cares when someone became a fan? You’re not allowed to love a team because you just started loving them this year? That’s stupid.

Second — the Blackhawks just came on television last year. For years they were blacked out, because owner “Dollar Bill” Wertz wasn’t willing to put his team on television and give the product away for free. They only came on TV now because the old man kicked off and his son decided to actually let the fans WATCH what was happening. It’s asking a whole lot of people to stick with a team through and through when not only are they not winning, but you cannot even see them play unless you drive into the city, pay for parking, pay for a ticket (even a cheap one) and pay for concessions. My husband still did this — often. But there were plenty of smiling and cheering faces in the crowd this year and last year who did not. It does not, in my opinion, make them any less worthy as fans.

I asked Jim if I was one of these band wagon fans, and he quickly pointed out that I am not. That while I certainly am no expert, the team sucked balls when he first started taking me to games. And I tried, desperately, to learn the game. I get strategy and I can follow the puck (which is a feat, by the way, when you are trying to learn this sport — that stuff moves FAST) and I understand some of the calls and rules but not as many as I wish I did and I FINALLY get the line changes.

So last night, as we watched Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, I reached over and checked Jim’s pulse. It was racing. Then, I checked my own, and it too was racing. Sweet Christmas, I AM a fan!!

Jim was deflated when the Flyers tied it up. And just like everyone in the world EXCEPT for Patrick Kane, we were more confused than excited when that winning goal went in the net during overtime. I’ll bet if we could turn back time and listen to the city of Chicago and the city of Philadelphia as a whole, we would hear a collective, “What the hell just happened?” PK was the ONLY person who knew that puck went in. When we watched it back in slow motion, you could pretty much hear most of my neighborhood cheer as we realized that the Stanley Cup was coming home to Chicago. Neighbors let off fireworks. Hank ran out the back door with a pot and spoon and banged away. Jim did NOT cry (ahem). Dudes… THAT.WAS.AWESOME. 49 years without a championship. It’s nice to be on this side every once in a while.

So thank you Blackhawks. Thank you for giving my husband a championship team. He loved the Hawks even when they were completely unloveable, and doesn’t care who is loving them now right with him. Mostly, thank you for giving us something to watch that is not baseball, because seriously, the Cubs and Sox blow. And thank you PK for knowing it before anyone else did. That was pretty cool.

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Dude… for real

Actual conversation this evening between myself and Mr. Wonderful:

Marney, at sink, washing dishes: “I’m having issues with you, dude.”

Jim: “What?”

Marney, holding up turkey baster, when there has been no turkey or other assorted meat in need of basting cooked in this house in months: “This. What the hell did you do with this?”

Jim: “Oh. Did you clean it good?”

Marney: “Did you use this on the toilet?”

Jim, furiously rinsing the baster under the running water: “I used it on the toilet.”

Marney: “THROW IT AWAY.”

Jim: “It wasn’t the pee water.”

Marney: *blink*

Jim, tossing baster in garbage can: “You need to get a new baster.”

Sweet mercy.

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boys. boys. boys.

I’ve been quite busy lately. In all honesty, I am exhausted. And it’s all about the boys. They are taking a lot of energy out of me these days!

Let’s take a look at some examples, shall we? There’s Hank’s new-found love of soccer:

I won’t lie. I’m not really a fan of soccer. Call me a sports elitist, but soccer is kinda… gay. You know, like when we were in 4th grade and someone did something dorky, only you didn’t call it dorky, you said, eyes rolling, “That is so GAY!” That kind of gay. Not the kind of gay that inexplicably cannot marry in most states, but gay gay. So very gay! That’s how I always felt about soccer. Not to mention, this makes me a soccer mom, which is downright unacceptable. But the truth of it is, I missed baseball sign-ups, and I knew the kid would like to play a sport, and might as well let him learn more than one. And color me confused, but man, does the kid ever like it! Not enough for his mother to learn the rules, mind you, but enough that I find myself cheering. Which almost hurts. Because this is the position he is playing:

Sweet beef jerky, my kid is the GOALIE! It’s nerve-racking enough when your kid plays a sport where he and a bunch of other uncoordinated 7 and 8 year olds are kicking at each other. But when he is actually in a position to single-handedly make your team suck, you really, really feel like you are going to pee your pants. A lot. This is Hank’s very first save. I will spare you the next several plays at the net, and show you this nice photo from practice instead:

Nice form kid! See, don’t I sound like I know what I am talking about? I’m getting gay-er by the minute!

In addition to the weekly heart-thumping soccer action, we got to celebrate George’s latest milestone. Turning 4!

Oh looky, Lightening McQueen and thumbs up! You’d never have guessed that one!

Apparently not satisfied with my own children, I hopped a plane to Omaha.

Hello Tom! Love your Cubs hat. The one that I forced on your head and then snapped a flashy instant camera in your tiny little blue eyes all in the scope of 2.2 seconds! It looks good on you (even though you are in the process of pulling it off). I took this photo with a disposable camera that I bought before my trip. And when Kayla saw it, she said, “Wow, did you have to go back to the 90’s to get that?” Yeah, well, shut up! It travels well!

While Kayla was at work, I let Tommy eat plastic:

Ahhhh, kids!

Of course, after returning from Omaha, I had several photos to blow before I took the film to get developed. So naturally, I went to soccer practice and pretended to take pictures of one thing while really aiming at another:

Wow, George, what a great photo of you and your soccer ball and your “thumbs up!” Very original. But for real, I was just trying to capture that woman in the background wearing the tye-dye. Hey lady, the 80’s masquerading at the 60’s called. They want their t-shirt back. Seriously, why would you wear that alone in a cave, let alone in public? And when you are heavy, no less. It’s like she’s TRYING to draw attention to herself. She wouldn’t look any worse had she put on a big target or a silkscreen of dogs playing poker. Please, honey, burn that shirt. If Heidi Klum would look like ass in it, then the rest of us should stay far, far away.

With one photo left in the camera, I handed it off to George, who took the single coolest picture I have seen in quite some time, and possibly one of the best photos of Jim ever:

Seriously, how cool is this shot? From the way the child was holding the camera, we figured it would be half George’s grimy fingers, half Jim’s belly button. But something about the way the sky looks, the look on Jim’s face, and even the open car door just look so freaking cool. My kid is a genius!

As you can clearly see, the boys are keeping me busy.

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Drinking problem

My husband and I have issues.

Over the past few months, we have been working super hard to drop our bear blubber. Because 1) we are simply too fat and 2) we are not actually bears who need to stockpile on a few layers of fat to make it through hibernation season. Hell, the fact is, all this extra cushion does NOT keep me any warmer in winter, no matter how much I try to use that as justification for the weight of a small child being attached to my ass. It’s kinda why it’s important to put polar bears on the endangered species list. How they do that, stay warm AND not develop diabetes is AMAZING — we need to study that. But that’s a different topic.

So to the gym we go. Or, as we call it, the exercise place. Because Jim is Jim, as opposed to gym, and my Jim-gym jokes get very tiring for him, and he began calling it “the exercise place” and he was relentless and I finally gave in. We lift three times a week, we do cardio at least four times a week. Sometimes we play racquetball and dammit is that funny. For real. Drop by the gym with your video camera and Bob Saget will be handing you a $10,000 check before you know it, it’s that entertaining. I once drilled the man right in the ear hole, which was almost as funny as the time I nailed myself in the face.

The result of this has been good. We generally watch what we eat, and we’re not over exercising, so the weight is coming off slowly but surely. Since Christmas, we have both dropped something in the area of 20 pounds. Yeeeee-hoooo! That is nice to see when you strip down completely naked because surely your clothes weight double-digits and  get on the scale.

But we all have our guilty pleasures. We all need our guilty pleasures. And for me and Mr. Wonderful, ours comes in liquid form:

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Time to make the donuts.

I use this image because Homer Simpson truly expresses how the fatty within emerges when Jim and I get our hands on a big, fat, delicious cup o’ Dunkin. Large. 1 cream. 2 Splenda. Oh. My. God.

Tonight, I went to the gym for cardio. We usually go together and drop the kids off at the daycare, but we couldn’t do that tonight because George only has one pair of shoes, and they were in the sink. Don’t ask. So I went first, ran for half an hour, then Jim went and did the death machine stair climber. Then, before returning home in time for the Blackhawks game, he stopped at Dunkin. He walked in the door with a cup in each hand and a big old smile on his face, and I kid you not I fell in love with him all over again! Seriously. Forget the selfless way he loves even the crappiest parts of me, or how he has to be reminded that he was not there when Hank was born because he has simply forgotten that he’s not the child’s biological father, or that he is patient even when I fill up his TiVo memory with episodes of “The Ghost Whisperer,” or that he managed to deliver the sweetest and most awkward marriage proposal ever in my parent’s driveway. It’s the Dunkin Donuts coffee in his hands. This is why he is awesome. 

It is truly the strangest thing ever. Tonight I referred to it as our “36-year-old beer,” because apparently we have reached an age where we do NOT grab a beer first thing when getting set to watch the big game. Of course — there IS beer in the fridge, and I’m sure we’ll both down one soon. It’s not like we’ve turned our backs on frothy-brewed deliciousness. But for whatever reason, there is a new liquid we cannot live without. And its name is Dunkin Donuts coffee.

My cup is currently empty. My coffee is in my belly. I might have to go grab my shoes and see if I can make HIM fall in love with ME all over again.

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Thumbs up

We all know it. We’ve all done it. It’s the international sign of “hey, it’s all cool.” It brings us closer to the Fonz. It’s “thumbs up.”

Back at St. James, when we were occasionally good-natured children (which wasn’t necessarily common for the Class of ’88 but it did sometimes happen), we would be rewarded with a game. “Thumbs Up” or “Thumbs Up 7 Up” or “Heads Up 7 Up” or something like that. The jist of the game was, you put your head on your desk and your thumb in the air while a few people would go around the room. If someone pushed your thumb down, you had to try to figure out who it was. My thumb always, ALWAYS remained in the air unless Jenny or Jacki was one of the thumb-pushers. Then it was fairly obvious who picked me.  I know it’s hard to believe, but despite my current ability to ooze cool, I was once quite the geek.

Anyway, this game played on the irresistable need that children have to stick their thumbs up in the air. Thanks to the arthritis that attacked my right thumb last year, my thumb these days is perpetually sticking up (you should see me try to hold a pen, it’s quite entertaining). But after watching my kids pose for the barrage of pictures I have been taking thanks to the recent nice weather, I am starting to think that giving the thumbs up is as instinctive as breathing or blinking.

Take a look:

 

I took this photo to demonstrate the ridiculousness that is my nearly 4-year-old still sitting in a stroller designed for a child half his age. But look at his hands.

This photo was taken after I decided to completely and utterly give up on dressing my son. Much like Jim, Hank apparently chooses his clothing by squeezing his eyes as tightly shut as possible, reaching in his closet and grabbing anything he wants. No matter how many times I say, “You don’t match,” he continues to put THIS shirt and THESE pants together. This picture is proof of two things: 1) Even when your mother is mocking you, you will still give the “thumbs up” for a photo, and 2) It’s nurture, not nature.

I’ll give him this one… bubbles ARE cool.

Being encouraged by parents will also create a need to stick that thumb in the air.

This one was tricky. It’s difficult to enjoy your Batman ice cream and give it an “aaayyyyyyyyy” at the same time, but he’s trying.

Then, of course, there is this, which you might recognize from the top of the page:

What you cannot see from the cropped photo up top (other than the fact that they both are wearing Bears hats and that is just cute) is that George has not just one but BOTH thumbs prominently in the air. A double is surely a sign of a good time!

I am not sure what to make of this phenomenon. I can only assume this uncontrollable desire to tell the world that everything is cool is just innate. It makes taking a picture difficult if you are hoping to capture a moment WITHOUT this international symbol of “everything’s all right.” But I suppose that is really the best way to capture their childhood anyway.

What do you think, boys?

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Style is in the eye of the beholder…

Last summer I thought long and hard about starting a blog. I really wanted to. But I have a major confession I must make. The whole concept did not start as an effort to type out my daily rants and ravings over the awesomeness that is my children or the ridiculousness that is GleN Beck. No, my friends, I had one reason and one reason only why I wanted to start posting stuff online on a regular basis: I wanted to expose the clothing disaster that is my husband.

I have no style. For real. When I was a kid, I would throw on whatever pants and whatever shirt were closest to my reach, and present myself to my mother and say, “do I match?” Mom would give it a glance, the kind where she lifts up one eyebrow, and say, “You blend.” Now, I imagine what was going through her mind was, “For the love of God child, how the hell old are you that you cannot figure out that some colors go together and some do NOT? It’s not that hard. Red and Orange and Charcoal are not a good mix unless by some cruel chance they are your school colors and even then you look like a complete dumbass just with a jersey on. I have five kids. FIVE kids! I don’t have time for this shit. I’m not digging through your closet to find the actual pair of pants that match that monstrosity of a shirt and JESUS WOULD YOU BRUSH YOUR HAIR God I cannot wait until you are a little older so I can kick you into the kitchen and make “You blend” me a drink!” Seems like a reasonable train of thought.

Anyhow, I tell that story just to illustrate the fact that I am in no position to be critical of someone else’s wardrobe. But seriously, my husband would be better dressed if we let a blind monkey pick out his clothes.

*note – This only applies to his causal wardrobe. When the man goes to work, he morphs into a regular human being who can pair a nice shirt, a classy tie and a clean pair of pants together. But it’s clearly only a skill he has a grip on Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

So when I wanted to blog, I was seriously planning on calling it, “Does My Husband Match.” I checked, and at least at that time, doesmyhusbandmatch.com was available! But, after consideration, and realizing I have MORE to say than to rant about Jim’s outfit choice, I realized that the topic might get tiresome for both readers and author.

But alas, it cannot be ignored.

Here is how March Madness is being watched tonight:

Trust me, he’s not lounging. If we were to suddenly decide to go out and grab some dinner and drinks, this is what he would wear. Brown comfy pants and all.

The Blackhawks jersey is my favorite part. In his defense, he said he was cold, and in hockey, a jersey is actually called a sweater. I only managed this snapshot. I unfortunately didn’t catch it when he put on his Notre Dame Snuggie.

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