Put Me in Coach.…

I am not par­tic­u­lar­ly ath­let­ic, unless you include Sweat­in’ to the Oldies, but as a moth­er of a lot of boys, sports, cur­rent­ly base­ball, have infil­trat­ed every part of our lives. I love to watch lit­tle kids get a hit, or make a catch and to see the pride beam­ing from their faces. There is noth­ing like watch­ing your child smil­ing from ear to ear after mak­ing a great play and know­ing that not one bit of that ath­let­ic abil­i­ty came from you, and your pret­ty sure not your hus­band either, but hop­ing that it might last a few more years.

Recent­ly, Hand­somes #1 and #2 had week­night games, at dif­fer­ent loca­tions, that over­lapped; there­fore, The Grillin’ Fool and I had to divide and con­quer. It’s bare­ly mid June and already 1000 degrees in St. Louis, so a full day at the pool fol­lowed by an ear­ly evening game, that I kind of for­got about until about an hour before hand, is about as much fun as I could pos­si­bly han­dle dur­ing the last week of my mater­ni­ty leave.

In typ­i­cal fash­ion, we couldn’t find hats, socks or cleats, despite the fact that every sin­gle per­son in the house swears that they put them away in their prop­er places just like I asked. Hand­some #2 and I were head­ed out for the ear­ly shift. He was clad in head to toe black and grey poly­ester, bright blue and yel­low soc­cer socks and ten­nis shoes due to the fact that we couldn’t devote any more time to the scav­enger hunt for prop­er equip­ment. All the damns that I gave had melt­ed in the heat.

The game start­ed at 6pm and was locat­ed at least 15 min­utes from home. We left at 5:51pm. I bare­ly made it out of the sub­di­vi­sion when I noticed this in the rear view mir­ror.

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He hadn’t just nod­ded off, this child was snoring.…loudly. Rather than poke the bear, I fig­ured I would let him rest until we got to the field. We rolled in at 6:03pm and I noticed that every play­er on the field was female. Per­fect. I had dri­ven to the wrong place, miles past where we were sup­posed to be. Sud­den­ly, Chief Mete­o­rol­o­gist Mau­r­mi comes in with this warn­ing.

h22

I check my cal­en­dar, find the right loca­tion and get to the field at 6:17pm just in time for Hand­some #2 to wake up with a seat belt crease across his face that could eas­i­ly be mis­tak­en as a failed attempt to gauge his eye out.

Are we here? Oh good, my team is up to bat!”

He runs to the dugout and after miss­ing the top of the inning some­how finds him­self on deck. Seems fair that all of the oth­er soon-to-be first graders who have bat­tled the sev­en­th cir­cle of hell in the field should move aside for some­one who just fin­ished his beau­ty sleep, right?!?!?! He gets a hit, the kids fin­ish out the inning and head back out to the field.

Hand­some #2 didn’t seem par­tic­u­lar­ly thrilled to be out in the heat and each time the thun­der would clap, he’d look up as if God was talk­ing direct­ly to him. The oth­er team got a few hits, scored a few runs and it was time for our boys to bat. Once again, there he stood with a hel­met on, seem­ing­ly unde­served­ly high up in the bat­ting order, when the coach­es spot light­en­ing and the game is called.…at 6:31pm. In just 40 min­utes, Hand­some #2 had tak­en a nap, vis­it­ed two Catholic Church fields, bat­ted and got­ten a hit, and played an inning in the field. This kid has done more with his ath­let­ic career in less than an hour than I have my entire life!

We head­ed for the car and he looked up at me and said,

I need a nap, that was exhaust­ing!”

 

 

 

 

Hangin’ Tough

Not a sin­gle soul had spo­ken to me for the last two hours. I announced to every per­son in the house that I was going upstairs and would be back in 20 min­utes. Clear­ly, this was a rook­ie mis­take. Nev­er make your pres­ence known lest you want the preda­tor to devour you. I had bare­ly turned the water on when the door opened the first time.

Hand­some #2- Mom! Can you make me some­thing to eat?

Me- Can you please give me a few min­utes?

Hand­some #2- Yes, but hur­ry!

I sham­pooed and almost con­di­tioned before the next inter­rup­tion. A naked from the waist down light saber-wield­ing child appeared and opened the show­er door. 

Me- Hon­ey, I am in the show­er. What do you need?

Hand­some #3- Um, noth­ing. I don’t need noth­ing.

Me- Where are your pants?!?!?!

Hand­some #3- I lost them. But, I could find them. Mom! Can you wipe me, please?

Suc­cess­ful­ly wip­ing a child with one hand while putting the rest of the con­di­tion­er on your head with the oth­er should at the very least come with a cash prize.

Once he was gone, I thought I’d try shav­ing my legs. Then I heard the scream­ing from the oth­er side of the door, the only one of my chil­dren to give me any pri­va­cy.

Hand­some #1- Mom! The baby is cry­ing!

Me- Put the binkie in her mouth, I’ll be there in five min­utes.

I want­ed a few min­utes of unin­ter­rupt­ed time, but instead I got to speak to all three of The Hand­somes and got a sta­tus update on the baby. As I stepped out and caught a glimpse of my face in the fog­gy mir­ror, I cried. I cried big ugly tears because all too soon, it will be over. I will miss the scream­ing and yelling and con­stant emer­gen­cies. I will miss the hugs and the kiss­es and a chub­by sweaty hand grab­bing mine. I will miss my lit­tle loves need­ing me as they become more inde­pen­dent and self-suf­fi­cient.

As much as I want­ed to wal­low in my sor­row, I decid­ed that my hus­band find­ing me in a heap on the bath­room floor wouldn’t be the best way to kick off his week­end. My moth­er always says that a lit­tle bit of fra­grance and a fresh coat of lip­stick can alter your mood instant­ly, so I fig­ured I would give it a shot. Despite the fact that I am now a moth­er of four, near­ing forty with a road map of stretch­marks and oth­er badges of life’s expe­ri­ences, The Grillin’ Fool still likes me and he deserves me at my best.

And today, the very best I could do was my sig­na­ture red lips and a New Kids on the Block T-shirt that could like­ly find a home in the Smith­so­ni­an. I snapped a self­ie, because no one would real­ly believe that I not only still own this shirt but wear it often. And just like that, as if on cue, from the first floor I heard, “MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!”

 

NKOTB

An Open Letter to the Lady at Church

To the hate­ful wom­an at mass,

Today, I was a few min­utes late and snuck in to the sec­ond to last pew with my near­ly three-year-old son after stop­ping at the bath­room. He is very new­ly pot­ty trained and the thought of tin­kling in every toi­let in the city is appeal­ing. He was excit­ed that he had made it to mass and saw his favorite priest on the pul­pit. Nat­u­ral­ly, for a child his age, this caused chat­ter and wav­ing and even a bit of cry­ing and com­plain­ing when he couldn’t see.

He was loud, as most small chil­dren are, but that is why I chose to stay close to the back. I try not to use the cry room or stand in the vestibule because I feel that if my chil­dren are going to behave, they actu­al­ly have to be in the church to learn that lesson. Sad­ly, you dis­agreed and were incred­i­bly out­spo­ken and judge­men­tal. The moment he began to squawk, you imme­di­ate­ly start­ed with the huff­ing and puff­ing and dis­parag­ing glances. I tried to ignore you, but in time I had enough and explained that he is just a baby. This is when you took it upon your­self to advise me that I shouldn’t have my chil­dren in the church if they can­not behave and that I should take them else­where.

Here’s the thing, lady, you have absolute­ly no idea what we were deal­ing with this morn­ing. I was gone all day yes­ter­day and nev­er saw him. He was asleep when I left and in bed when I got home. He has had the rare oppor­tu­ni­ty to spend a lot of one on one time with me late­ly, that he has nev­er had before. He was the youngest of three boys for the last three years and his world was turned upside down eight weeks ago when his baby sis­ter was born. Luck­i­ly, I have been able to soft­en the blow dur­ing my mater­ni­ty leave, but he still wants all of my atten­tion all of the time. And that can be exhaust­ing. I am also a bit more lenient with him because he is adjust­ing to a tremen­dous amount of change that you know noth­ing about.

Per­haps you nev­er had a child, because I can­not imag­ine what they must think of your behav­ior if you did, and are tru­ly igno­rant to how this whole par­ent­ing thing works. Let me give you a bit of insight. Chil­dren are com­plete­ly and total­ly 100 per­cent unpre­dictable. If Jesus Christ him­self had a sched­uled appear­ance this morn­ing and I had pre­pared my chil­dren to meet him and how to act in the pres­ence of the Lord, at best we are work­ing with 50/50 odds in my favor. Kids are con­stant­ly talk­ing and ask­ing ques­tions, and you guessed it, mis­be­hav­ing. But they are also always learn­ing. And I want my chil­dren to learn to be kind and lov­ing and faith­ful and to live their lives as God wants them to. Fun­ny, when it was time for the sign of peace, you com­plete­ly ignored my moth­er when she tried to shake your hand, so incred­i­bly Christ-like.

What if my child had autism, or a brain tumor, or some oth­er kind of ill­ness that caused him to act out? Thank­ful­ly, he is healthy, but I am cer­tain that you would have still cast asper­sions on his behav­ior and my par­ent­ing because for some rea­son you feel enti­tled to judge oth­ers. Sad­ly for you, you missed the entire mes­sage of today’s homi­ly. Had you been pay­ing atten­tion to it, and not my child, you would have heard the priest preach about how impor­tant it is to treat oth­ers with kind­ness, love and respect. It’s about what hap­pens here on earth, not what will hap­pen after you die. But instead of soak­ing the mes­sage in and reflect­ing, you are like­ly sit­ting at home tonight with an ice pack on your neck from all of the head shak­ing.

Until next week­end my friend, when I will be back in that same church with my four chil­dren, I hope that you are able to feel good about what you did, how you act­ed and what mes­sage you walked away with. Remem­ber, if you want the church to con­tin­ue to grow, we must engage the youth and keep the pews filled. And I will always have my pew filled with chil­dren, fruit snacks, scream­ing and yelling and more love than you will ever know.

Sin­cere­ly,

Your worst night­mare that will come back over and over and over againimg_7572.jpg

Vacation, all I ever wanted.….

Last sum­mer, super new­ly preg­nant, we trav­eled with my par­ents, broth­er and sis­ter-in-law, also preg­nant, and our nephew to Hol­i­day World in San­ta Claus, IN. If you haven’t been, you need to go. It’s fam­i­ly friend­ly, clean, afford­able and there is a ton to do with lit­tle kids. My boys love it and talk all the time about when we can go back.

Recent­ly, Hand­some #2 was given an assign­ment in his kinder­garten class to bring in a pic­ture and a brief write up about a recent trip. The­se pic­tures would be shared with the class in a show and tell for­mat. Obvi­ous­ly, he was super excit­ed about this par­tic­u­lar home­work and couldn’t wait to recount his adven­ture with the class. 

We talked about the rides, the food, the water park and even the car ride there. He was proud as a pea­cock to tell his friends all about it. He wrote three sen­tences on the paper and I found a pic­ture on my phone and sent it to Wal­greens. Done and done. Weeks have passed and the assign­ment was all but for­got­ten. 

Today after school the boys burst through the door soak­ing wet from the tor­ren­tial down­pour that hit this after­noon. I ran upstairs to get clean clothes for each of them retun­ing with a Hol­i­day World t-shirt. This opened Pandora’s Box.

Hand­some #2- Mom! I am not wear­ing that. I’m not even going back there.

Me- Why not? You love Hol­i­day World.

Hand­some #2- Nope. Not any­more I sure don’t. Do you want to know why?

Me- Please, tell me.

Hand­some #2- Remem­ber my vaca­tion home­work?

Me- Yes.

Hand­some #2- Well, that’s why! 

Me- I don’t under­stand.

Hand­some #2- That pic­ture you got of the trip, well guess what? You can’t even see me. Hand­some #1 is hold­ing up the park map right in front of my face! 

We took approx­i­mate­ly 5,000 pic­tures on that trip.….naturally, I chose this.…..

Ah, Ah, Ah, Ah.…..Stayin’ Alive.….

Yep, the test is pos­i­tive,” the doc­tor said to me with sad eyes.

OMG, I thought. This is all I need right now. I have four kids and I don’t have time for this! Ugh, no! I am not preg­nant, God help us all.  Strep. Hand­some #2 test­ed pos­i­tive for strep. The nasty lit­tle bug that for my chil­dren means not only a high fever and sore throat, but we get the added bonus of vomiting.…awesome! Per­haps I should have believed him when he said he didn’t feel well.

I can­not go to school today, said Hand­some #2, Hooray!

I left the pediatrician’s office to grab Mau­r­mi, Hand­some #3 and the baby and head­ed to the phar­ma­cy to pick up Hand­some #2’s pre­scrip­tion. We made it past the check­out line when all of a sud­den I heard the hor­ri­fy­ing scream­ing.

Ouch. Oh. Ouch. I am so hurt. Ahh­h­h­hh! I have too much blood!”

I looked down to see Hand­some #3 on the floor and huge droplets of red all over the bright white tile.

OMG! What hap­pened?” I screamed.

Mau­r­mi hurt me so bad,” He blub­bered as tears poured down his cheeks and blood ran from his fin­ger.

Colleen! I would nev­er hurt him. OMG, my baby. Nev­er. I would nev­er hurt you.”

Duh.

He got the fin­ger caught in the cart, how, we may nev­er know, and some­how ripped a ginor­mous piece of skin in the process. I thought that we were head­ed to the ER, I mean, So.much.blood. I always react well in emer­gen­cy sit­u­a­tions.

Jesus, mom! OMG. What do we do?”

Colleen! He is hurt.”

I real­ize that. What am I sup­posed to do?”

Colleen! He is hurt!”

What do I do?”

This game of moron who’s on first went on for much longer than it should have, extreme­ly loud­ly and nei­ther one of us real­ly doing any­thing. Mau­r­mi took off to grab nap­kins when a help­ful young man in uni­form appeared to inform me that they had a first aid kit avail­able in case I need­ed it. Nice offer, but I need­ed some­thing imme­di­ate­ly as my child was becom­ing more and more hys­ter­i­cal.

Mau­r­mi returned with her con­tri­bu­tion to the ER effort and I ran to the phar­ma­cy area to grab a box of Band Aids, hop­ing that he would sit still long enough for me to put them on. As I returned to the scene with a box of Paw Patrol ban­dages, there stood a big man with a walkie talkie act­ing very impor­tant.

Yep. I’ve got them. I am here. Yep. Blood. There is blood. Yep. Yep. Got it. Bring on the clean up crew.”

By the look on his face, I was cer­tain that there would be a haz­mat team approach­ing soon. Mau­r­mi did her best to wipe up the floor while big red stood there doing a whole lot of noth­ing.

Excuse me,” I said try­ing to get to my baby.

Ma’am, we have a first aid kit for the­se kinds of the things.”

This is now the sec­ond time that the first aid kit has been offered, but noth­ing has been pro­duced. Per­haps they want­ed me to sign some kind of per­mis­sion slip, but instead I ripped open the box and start­ed to tend to the wound. Thank­ful­ly, my baby boy sat still and I was able to attach the ban­dages tight­ly enough to stop the bleed­ing.

Oh. Ewe, gross,” Said the walkie talkie man.

Thank­ful­ly for him, I bit my tongue and went on about my busi­ness. I want­ed to get Hand­some #2’s med­i­cine and get the heck out there. I head­ed to the phar­ma­cy, still cov­ered in blood myself and look­ing like a seri­al killer, and request­ed the pre­scrip­tion. Not ready.…awesome.… Since the bleed­ing had stopped and I need­ed a few more lunch­box items, I pressed on with my shop­ping.

We wan­dered through the toy depart­ment, the gro­cery area and the baby sec­tion when I noticed that Hand­some #3 was start­ing to act fun­ny. His eyes were droop­ing and he was nod­ding off.

Colleen, what is the mat­ter with him?” Mau­r­mi asked.

I don’t know. This is real­ly odd, ” I replied.

My God, did he hit his head? Or is he in shock from the pain?”

Hand­some #3, wake up! Wake up!” I demand­ed.

Stop talk­ing to me. Don’t look at me. I am so hurt­ing,” he screamed.

Cer­tain that he had some kind of con­cus­sion, again, I start­ed to pan­ic. Mau­r­mi and I stood next to the cart dis­cussing our next course of action, but nei­ther one of us touch­ing him, not want­i­ng to dis­turb him. Had we reached out to com­fort him, per­haps we could have saved the con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and real­ized a few min­utes soon­er that he was hot­ter than a fire­crack­er. God help us, anoth­er one bites the dust. Strep is ugly and mean and con­ta­gious as hell!

Thank­ful­ly he had tried to ampu­tate his fin­ger a few min­utes ear­lier and we were still at the store so that I could call the pedi­a­tri­cian and get his med­i­cine called in before I left. I checked in at the phar­ma­cy to make sure they had received the new order and grabbed Hand­some #2’s med­i­cine and gave him a dose right there in the store. The soon­er we attack the bug, the bet­ter, right? Ten min­utes lat­er, Hand­some #3’s med­i­cine was ready, so I dosed him up too and we head­ed to the cafe for a quick drink and a pret­zel.


The fever had tak­en its toll on my bud­dy and he had enough trau­ma for the day, so we head­ed home to get every­one com­fort­able and in bed. As I unload­ed my bags to put away the gro­ceries I found that I was one bot­tle short. Hand­some #2’s med­i­cine was some­how left at the store. Come on! Seri­ous­ly?!?!!?

I wait­ed until the Grillin’ Fool got back from work before I head­ed back to the store, with Mau­r­mi of course, to pick up the new­ly ordered med­i­cine because no one could find it in the store. Mau­r­mi looked through every cart.


We retraced our steps, searched the aisles and shelves, but it was nowhere to be found. I returned to the phar­ma­cy for the third time and promised not to lose it, even putting it in my mother’s purse to ensure it would stay with me.

As we left the store to head home, we walked past the scene of the crime and noticed there was still a bit of blood left. Inter­est­ing­ly, the large fel­la with the walkie talkie was also still there, still hooked up to the walkie.…Having a snack.….

 

If only I had Listened to My Mother.….….

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I love to write. Love it. Love it. Love it. I tru­ly believe in the fact that God gives each of us very speci­fic gifts and tal­ents that He wants us to use. He hap­pened to make me a pret­ty good sto­ry­teller, a tal­ent that I cer­tain­ly inherit­ed from my moth­er, and I chron­i­cle those sto­ries on Face­book and here on my blog. I have often been told to write a book by friends and fol­low­ers and near­ly dai­ly by my moth­er. They tell me how much they love my sto­ries and would absolute­ly buy my book and share it with their own friends and fam­i­ly. This is where my crip­pling fear takes over. This is when my com­plete and total lack of self con­fi­dence comes in to play and I imme­di­ate­ly sec­ond guess myself and want to run and hide. Sur­prised? Don’t be. That’s the real me.

I know that I make you laugh. I know that I have made you cry. I know that I have made many of you feel bet­ter about your­selves by liv­ing vic­ar­i­ous­ly through my mis­ad­ven­tures. Through­out my jour­ney on this site, social media and shar­ing my life with you, it has always been easy for me to hit post and then hide. While I know many of you per­son­al­ly, I don’t inter­act with you face to face very often. I love to read your com­ments and reac­tions, but if you see me in per­son, you will often find that I become very embar­rassed by the atten­tion. I have a total and com­plete lack of self con­fi­dence that has plagued me my entire life. This may come as a sur­prise because I put on quite a show, but the fact of the mat­ter is, I always feel like I am just shy of being good enough.

Recent­ly, I took a plunge, a leap of faith. And I did it in com­plete and total secre­cy. I had read about the Lis­ten to Your Moth­er Show on Face­book the last cou­ple of years and thought that it was an amaz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty. I envied the sto­ry­tellers with their con­fi­dence and mox­ie. I just didn’t have it. I stalked the web­site and knew exact­ly what it entailed, but I nev­er could pull the trig­ger. The pro­ce­dure was sim­ple enough. All I had to do was sub­mit a sto­ry about moth­er­hood, that I had writ­ten, to a pan­el to be reviewed. If they liked it, I would be called to read my sto­ry at a live audi­tion. Cer­tain­ly I would nev­er real­ly be called upon to audi­tion, so what is the harm in send­ing an email?

For those of you think­ing, wait a min­ute, aren’t you the same per­son who was in like 100 plays in your life­time, often play­ing pret­ty big roles? Yep. Why in the world would this be a prob­lem for you? True, I have had a life-long love affair with the stage. I have nev­er had a prob­lem speak­ing in front of a crowd. I haven’t got­ten par­tic­u­lar­ly ner­vous, it has always come nat­u­ral­ly. But nev­er in my life have I actu­al­ly pre­sent­ed my own work. Some­thing that came from inside of me. Some­thing that I was allow­ing total strangers to read and then decide whether or not they thought it was good enough. The thought was tru­ly ter­ri­fy­ing.

I didn’t dare run it by Mau­r­mi or The Grillin’ Fool because I knew that they would instant­ly encour­age me, which would make me even more uncom­fort­able and resis­tant. Instead, I penned a tale about a tru­ly stand out mem­o­ry from my own child­hood that depicts exact­ly the kind of moth­er I want to be and I hit send. Not expect­ing to hear a thing. A few weeks went by and then this.….……

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! We are thrilled to inform you that YOU have been select­ed to AUDITION your writ­ten sub­mis­sion piece for Lis­ten To Your Moth­er, St. Louis!”

Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph! They want­ed me to read. They want­ed me to tell my sto­ry in per­son. They want­ed me to audition.…at 37 weeks pregnant.….this would be no problem.….no prob­lem at all?!?!?!?! I could no longer keep it to myself, so I shared my excite­ment with my moth­er, who sad­ly was attend­ing the funer­al of Jus­tice Anton­in Scalia, in her kitchen, at the time and may have been caught a bit off guard.

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Once it hit her, she was thrilled and encour­ag­ing and insis­tent that I fol­low through. I sched­uled my audi­tion and promised that she could come along if she swore on her life that she wouldn’t say a word. I didn’t want her telling any­one because I was cer­tain that it would be a bust and I didn’t want to not be cho­sen and have to explain it to any­one. Plus, since the sto­ry was about her and what may or may not have been, prob­a­bly was, a total ner­vous break­down dur­ing her mid thir­ties, I thought it only fair that she hear it first hand.

image2

We arrived at the audi­to­ri­um, I signed in and was imme­di­ate­ly tak­en in to read. I hadn’t been to an audi­tion since col­lege, but it just felt right. Despite the fact that I was read­ing my own words, I felt com­fort­able. I felt hap­py. I was at home.The pro­duc­ers laughed and they cried and they clapped. For the first time in a very long time, I felt real­ly, real­ly good about what I had done.

I walked out with my head held high tru­ly believ­ing that no mat­ter what hap­pened, I had accom­plished some­thing big that day. I had a fingernail’s worth of self con­fi­dence and it felt great. But I can’t lie, I want­ed it. I want­ed it bad­ly. I want­ed to be a part of the cast to prove to myself that every­thing that I had been hear­ing was true. That I am good enough. For the next 10 days I ago­nized over the silence. I checked my email over, and over, and over again. Noth­ing.….…

I had decid­ed that it was a lost cause that it was time to give up and then the email arrived.

CONGRATULATIONS!!! We loved your sto­ry on “AIRING THE DIRTY LAUNDRY”, and you have been cho­sen for the cast of the 4th annu­al Lis­ten to Your Moth­er St. Louis. Whoo Hoo! We applaud you for hav­ing the courage to share your sto­ry with us, and you are one of 13 peo­ple in the cast this year. We promise, it’s going to be an expe­ri­ence you will nev­er for­get!”

I cried. I cried big ugly tears. This is real­ly hap­pen­ing. This is huge. I feel so hon­ored. This has ignit­ed a fire inside of me and I can­not wait to write more sto­ries and to share them with the world. This is all hap­pen­ing because I lis­tened to my moth­er. I just wish that I would have done it soon­er.

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Merry Christmas, Richard Simmons!

I am so behind in life right now it’s embar­rass­ing. We are get­ting ready to move in less than a week, it is Decem­ber 17, my Elf hasn’t even shown up yet. There is no Thomas Fam­i­ly Christ­mas Card. I am a mess. But, not too much of a dis­as­ter to wish a very Mer­ry Christ­mas to the man who has made a dif­fer­ence in my life. Slow your roll friends, this is not a sap­py shout out to my hus­band and the father of my Hand­somes, my amaz­ing dad or even any of my broth­ers. But if you know any­thing about me, you know that this sil­ly lit­tle sprite made an impres­sion on my heart 20 years ago and I have nev­er been the same.

June 1995. No Inter­net, no cell phones, a few dozen cable chan­nels and a stack of ads clut­ter­ing the kitchen table. There were no text alerts or emails offer­ing 20 per­cent off a pur­chase in the next 10 min­utes. If you want­ed to know what was hot and on sale, you mulled through page after thin, grimy page of glossy ads. Sec­ond only to the Have You Seen Me? cards that I painstak­ing­ly stud­ied just to be sure that no one in my class was liv­ing with a group of secret psy­chopaths, I loved those ads. I liked to look at Tar­get and Wal­greens, but my very favorite week­ly was Ven­ture. There was some­thing about the black and white stripes that was sort of mem­o­riz­ing.

Richard simmons

One par­tic­u­lar Sun­day as I watched Zach and Kel­ly head to the Max and break up, again, I mind­less­ly scanned the Post Dis­patch. When I got to the mid­dle of the Ven­ture ad I near­ly had a heart attack. There he stood tanned and flash­ing those pearly whites like no one else could. His brown locks posi­tioned per­fect­ly on his head and his brown eyes pierc­ing a hole right into my heart. I was so tak­en aback that his pic­ture was right there in the mid­dle of the women’s cloth­ing spread that I near­ly missed that he would be com­ing to vis­it St. Louis the next week.

Holy hell in a hand­bag! There was no way that my six­teen-year-old self was going to miss this. It was a dream come true and I could hard­ly con­tain myself. In order to make this a real­i­ty, my moth­er had to take the day off of work. But, she too, knew that this was a once-in-a-life­time expe­ri­ence and want­ed in. We recruit­ed two of my three broth­ers and my Nani, who nev­er missed a good time, and we were off.

The appear­ance was sched­uled for noon, but I knew that if we weren’t there when the store opened, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in fiery hell that we would even be able to get near him. Secu­ri­ty would cer­tain­ly be beefed up for such a big celeb, so we couldn’t risk it! As I round­ed the cor­ner to make my way down the long aisle to the Women’s Depart­ment, I was in a total state of shock. There was only one per­son there! It was the best moment of my life. I was going to be up close and per­son­al and in the front of the line.

After what seemed like hours. It was seri­ous­ly like four, the crowd had mul­ti­plied over and over and it was just about time for him to arrive. I could feel the but­ter­flies in my stom­ach. What would I say? What would I do? OMG, what if he doesn’t like me? Sud­den­ly, there was a burst of sound like a huge thun­der clap. I turned as he appeared at the end of the aisle. It was as if he was sur­round­ed by angels singing and a burst of light beamed from his wings as he began to prance down the aisle. I was over­come, awestruck, I thought I would faint. There was noth­ing that I could do to con­trol myself, the tears just start­ed to fall.

I wasn’t the only one. Legions of fans sur­round­ed him, tot­ing signs, books and VHS tapes. The all want­ed a part of the man who had changed their lives. They want­ed to thank him for mak­ing them smile when they need­ed it the most. They want­ed to hug him and give back the feel­ing of uncon­di­tion­al love and accep­tance that he had shown them. Some even want­ed to rip his short shorts, but their wasn’t enough time. As quick­ly as he had made it down the aisle, he was up on stage singing, laugh­ing and sweat­ing.

The con­sum­mate hap­py man with encour­ag­ing words and a pos­i­tive atti­tude that could rival any man­u­fac­tured tele­vi­sion per­son­al­i­ty was there to do what he did best, make peo­ple smile, and smile we did. Well, some of us ugly cried before we were old enough to tru­ly under­stand what an ugly cry is, but I digress. In that store, in that moment moment in time, we were a unit­ed front of hap­py fans. There was no judge­ment about who we were, what we looked like or what we stood for.One sin­gle per­son was able to make so many peo­ple feel good about them­selves just by being him­self.

As I walked out the door that day I felt blessed. I was hum­bled by the out­pour­ing of love by one per­son for every­one in that line. It was gen­uine car­ing, gen­uine con­cern, the kind that is absolute­ly impos­si­ble to fake. It was a hap­py day for so many, one that we will like­ly nev­er for­get.

Today, I read some­thing that made me sad. Real­ly, real­ly sad. The kind of sad that makes you hurt a lit­tle. Richard Sim­mons has not been seen in near­ly two years. He is suf­fer­ing in some way and is appar­ent­ly no longer leav­ing his home, accord­ing to a sto­ry on TMZ. This man has devot­ed his entire life to mak­ing oth­ers smile, but for some rea­son, his joy is gone. It’s trag­ic, real­ly.

Sure, peo­ple make fun of him because of the way he looks, the way he dress­es and the way he acts. Yep, he is flam­boy­ant. His shorts are short and his tanks are tight. But, his heart is huge. Richard has devot­ed his life to mak­ing oth­er peo­ple feel good and to live a hap­pier and health­ier life. I chal­lenge any one of us to sim­ply treat our own fam­i­ly mem­bers with that kind of com­pas­sion and kind­ness, not an easy task.

I am one fan. One insignif­i­cant per­son with a sto­ry even more insignif­i­cant. I was nev­er mor­bid­ly obe­se. I haven’t been hos­pi­tal­ized because of my weight. I have nev­er been des­per­ate seek­ing help so that I don’t die. Many of the hearts that Richard has touched have been in worse predica­ments than this. I was just inspired by some­one who cares about oth­ers and has a pos­i­tive atti­tude.

When I update my blog, which is embar­rass­ing­ly infre­quent­ly, I nor­mal­ly just talk about my kids and the fun­ny things that the say. Of course, I also point out all of the dumb things I do too, just to be fair. But today, I have a mis­sion, I want to Ral­ly for Richard. He needs love and hugs and prayers. Whether you have nev­er been Sweat­in’ to the Oldies or had to Deal a Meal, I would be will­ing to bet that at the very least, you laughed until you cried when he was on,‘Whose Line is it Any­way?’

 

For the record, the above account, total­ly hap­pened. I cried like a baby, like, I could bare­ly con­sole myself. It was so bad that the only thing that I could do to calm myself down was walk across the Ven­ture park­ing lot to Wendy’s for a quick burg­er, fries and a Frosty to wash it all down.

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Years lat­er Hand­some #1 had his first celeb encoun­ter at Wal­greens

Ain’t too Proud to Brag.….…..

March 16, 1992 I turned 13. I also got the chick­en pox. In all of my new­ly-crowned teenage wis­dom, I picked the first spot that appeared on my face, despite my mother’s warn­ing, “leave it alone or you will make it so much worse.” The pim­ple turned out to be the first of about 5,000 pox that made the next two weeks among the most mis­er­able of my entire life.

I laid on the couch day after day cer­tain that death was impend­ing. The fever and itch­ing and just plain dis­com­fort made each breath resem­ble my last. Per­haps it was my flair for the dra­mat­ic, or the fact that she had three oth­er plague-strick­en chil­dren to take care of, but my moth­er didn’t seem to think that my sit­u­a­tion was quite as dire. Luck­i­ly for me, my then 80-some­thing-year-old Nani dis­agreed and tend­ed to my every need.

As my three broth­ers healed and went back to school, my mom went back to work while I lay con­va­lesc­ing for the sec­ond week with Nani at my side. She brought me Sev­en­teen Mag­a­zi­nes, made me Lip­ton Cup of Soup and watched end­less hours of Press Your Luck Reruns. She was my best friend not just when I was sick, but always. There was noth­ing that she wouldn’t do for me and I sim­ply loved to be with her.

When Press Your Luck turned to the less enter­tain­ing Card Sharks, I would flip the chan­nel to VH1 which played an end­less loop of Vanes­sa Williams’, “Save the Best for Last” and TLC’s, “Ain’t too Proud to Beg.” I don’t know if it was the col­or­ful over­alls or per­haps the con­doms pinned every­where, but she just, couldn’t, “under­stand those dirty girls.” Why would they put on such a “per­for­mance?” And they would look so much nicer in a, “pret­ty dress.” For a solid week every time it came on, she laughed and said, “There they are again. Those crazy girls with those dirty pants on.”

Last Fri­day night while going to see Push the Lim­it, a friend’s band, per­form at Jun­gle Boo­gie at the STL Zoo, I spot­ted one of those crazy girls. T-Boz was there, in the flesh and I was sud­den­ly 13 and starstruck. I can’t lie, I total­ly fol­lowed her, from afar, cer­tain that it was her, but still too shy to approach. With Hand­some #3 in his stroller, I pushed toward the Frag­ile Forest where she stood admir­ing the ani­mals. Sud­den­ly, Mau­r­mi strikes up a casu­al con­ver­sa­tion with her as if she is a vol­un­teer zookeep­er for the day.

She was so kind, so friend­ly and so far from any­thing osten­ta­tious. I made eye con­tact and blurt­ed out with tears in my eyes,

OMG?!?!? Are you who I think you are? You are so beau­ti­ful. I just saw you in con­cert a few months ago. You are just. I am hav­ing a moment. Your music. I just. OMG, can I get a pic­ture with you?”

She gra­cious­ly said, “yes,” ignor­ing my ver­bal diar­rhea. We exchanged pleas­antries and she was on her way. I spent the rest of the evening rev­el­ing in the excite­ment and the fact that my celebri­ty friend list is no longer just Richard Sim­mons!

Ain't Too Proud to Brag

Crazy, Sexy and so insane­ly Cool

I attend­ed a work event on Sat­ur­day morn­ing and made it home just in time to head to Mass before Hand­some #1’s evening soc­cer game. As I sat in church, I saw the date on the bul­let­in, August 8. It was the eight-year anniver­sary of my Nani’s death. My heart broke a lit­tle, as it does every time I think of her, but I found strength in my faith, know­ing that she is with God and her fam­i­ly in heav­en.

I smiled to myself as I pre­pared for com­mu­nion and the organ­ist began to play, “Here I am Lord.” It was the song played at her funer­al and the one that always hap­pens to start the moment that I need it most. I felt her hands on mine and rubbed my thumb over her knuck­les just as I had thou­sands of times in our 28 years togeth­er.

As a tear ran down my cheek, I began to laugh. I could see her in the blue reclin­er eat­ing a bowl of ice cream and giv­ing her dis­ap­prov­ing dis­ser­ta­tion about T-Boz and her clan. I real­ized that she had been with me the night before, that she approved of the nice young wom­an that T-Boz has turned in to and that she still loves me the most. And if she had been there, she would have dis­pensed the fol­low­ing advice.……

Don’t go chas­ing water­falls
Please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to
I know that you’re gonna have it your way or noth­ing at all
But I think you’re mov­ing too fast

It’s Rated Arrg.….….……

I love the Time Hop app. It allows me the oppor­tu­ni­ty to revis­it the adven­tures that I have shared on social media in the last few years. I am often brought to joy­ful tears as I see pic­tures of my beau­ti­ful baby boys and am remind­ed of how fast time goes by.
As a moth­er, I try very hard to instill strong val­ues in my sons encour­ag­ing them to show love and kind­ness to those around them. As my moth­er always did, I am quick to remind them that they must treat each oth­er with the utmost respect and love because in the end, your broth­ers are your very best friends.
Clear­ly, I have been extreme­ly suc­cess­ful in mold­ing young minds, as evi­denced by the con­ver­sa­tion had by my then five and three-year-old sons exact­ly two years ago today.

After leav­ing the Sci­ence Cen­ter today, I noticed a man in the car next to us was wear­ing an eye patch. 

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, my back­seat crew also saw him.

Hand­some #1- Why is that man wear­ing an eye patch?

Hand­some #2- On account a he’s a pirate, Hand­some #1.

Hand­some #1- So you think every­one with an eye patch is a pirate?

Hand­some #2- Yes, I do.

Hand­some #1- (Gaffaw­ing) So you think Nick Fury, the head of all the Avengers, is a pirate? That is crazy!

Hand­some #2- No, you are crazy you poop head face dum­my! And when I poke you in the eye, you will be a pirate too!

 

 

The Devil Went Down to SoCo

Recent­ly, Hand­some #2 and I had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to spend some time togeth­er, just the two of us. When I have the­se spe­cial moments, I am sure to tell each boy how much I love him and that he is my favorite. I also make him promise that he will nev­er, ever tell his broth­ers. It makes them feel good and each of them tru­ly is my favorite, in very dif­fer­ent ways.

Hand­some #2 and I dined at his first-choice fan­cy restau­rant, Steak n Shake, and then head­ed to a moth­er son event at his school. I was a bit weepy that night, real­iz­ing that he would be in kinder­garten next year, com­plete with blue Tom Sawyer shorts and a crisp white polo. OK, that is a lie. That crisp white polo is just for the first day of school pic­ture. The rest of the school year is slight­ly dingy with a required morn­ing sniff test to see if we can make it one more day.

My sweet sec­ond son was so proud to have me with him and couldn’t wait to show me all around the build­ing. We ate snacks, played games and had a fun pic­ture tak­en.  But, the evening start­ed after 6pm, which is oh so close to the witch­ing hour when all of my hand­somes become blood-lust­ing demons. As the evening pro­gressed, I noticed his eyes glaze and the horns begin to pop from his head.

If I was going to make it home unscathed, I’d have to move fast while he was still smil­ing. We said our good­byes and head­ed to the car, still hap­py and chat­ting about the fun we had. As he climbed over to the third row seat, I put my key into the igni­tion and the horns popped all they way through as his eyes became flecked with flames.

Hand­some #2-Mom, what are you doing? I am not buck­led. Do you hear me? I am not buck­led.

Me-It’s ok, bud­dy. I’m not going any­where, just get­ting the air flow­ing. Buck­le up.

Hand­some #2- Yeah, right. You big dum­my.

Me- Excuse me?

He caught my icy glare in the rear-view mir­ror and began to pan­ic.

Hand­some #2- Oh no. I’m sor­ry, mom­ma. I’m sor­ry. I’m real­ly sor­ry.

Just as I was about to acknowl­edge the apol­o­gy and excuse his moment of tem­po­rary insan­i­ty, his eyes closed and his hands clasped. He implored our Lord for for­give­ness, cer­tain that I was going to mur­der him.

Hand­some #2- In the name of the father, son, holy spir­it. Amen. Bless us, Oh Lord, for the­se thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy boun­ty, through Christ, Our Lord.

Amen.

And just like that, he earned him­self an extra spray of starch on the first day of school.…..

 

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Ladies, I’ll be Pressed to Impress on the First Day of Kinder­garten

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