Turkey Day was yesterday. Did you enjoy it? Did you have fun? Did you wave your hands in the air like you just didn’t care?

BFF Jen gets so excited about Thanksgiving that I always sniff her drink to make sure that is the only reason she’s excited. I, on the other hand, have never been one to get excited about Thanksgiving. Not that I don’t look forward to it – I love getting together with everyone. It’s just not something I get YAY YAY YAY IS IT THANKSGIVING YET excited about.

Except for this year. This year, I was so excited about Thanksgiving that I was literally counting down until the end of the day on Wednesday. I couldn’t decide why I was so excited. Maybe it was because I didn’t get to see my side of the family as much for Thanksgiving last year. Maybe it was because I hadn’t been to my grandparents’ in a while. Maybe it was because I knew my aunt would make brownies again – and that woman knows how to bake a brownie, let me tell you. 

But otherwise, Thanksgiving was the same as it had been every year. And then it hit me – maybe that was why I was so excited. Maybe I was just looking forward to relaxing and laughing with my family in the same way I have done since I was a baby. And because my family is awesome and I have never fully appreciated them before. 

I’ve said before (and stand by it) that my grandparents are better than yours.  It’s still true. My grandparents open their home to us every year. They are so excited about their two great-grandchildren and that is so fun to see. Just picture my Papaw leaning over 3-month-old Peyton and making kissy noises. Best visual ever and even better to see in real life.

And I love seeing my aunt and uncle and cousins. My cousin Allen wasn’t able to come this year, so we poured some cider out in his honor. But I did get to see my other two cousins, who I hadn’t seen in ages, and get to know my newest two cousins, Ashleigh and Tenley! Ashleigh is a grown-up; Tenley is a baby. That will assist in future confusion in this post. It was wonderful to catch up and see them and ask about their lives. And, of course, to totally abuse my friendship with Ashleigh to ask her pregnancy and baby tips.

Seeing my aunt Shonda is an experience in itself :) since she always brings the fun and crazy to the party. But it’s a good crazy, the kind your children can witness, so don’t be alarmed. She’s funny and goes with the flow. And I already told you about the brownies. You want to be her friend. My uncle Stan, who is the quietest one (or used to be; we broke him in), always wholeheartedly participates in our crazy, and doesn’t even complain when we change our plans 16 times in a row. He needs a medal.

I get to see my immediate family a lot, but it’s still fun when we get to see each other at Thanksgiving. It’s like when you see a movie you love on TV and you have to watch it, even though you own it and can watch it whenever you want. I am eternally grateful for my parents and siblings. They are weird and funny and ridiculous and I know I am blessed to have my whole family around all the time. When my sister got married, I worried it would be hard to adapt to a new member of the family. But Andy jumped right in and became one of us so fast it was like he was always there. That is partly due to the fact that my entire extended family has the attitude that after we meet you once, you are now related to us and may come to all events. Please bring a dessert to share.

Then, of course, my great-grandmother and great-aunt made the trip to come see everyone like they do every year. They live a little ways away but they came anyway. And it was so fun to see them meet Peyton and Tenley. That made 5 generations of us in one room! Can you imagine that? My great-grandmother was born in 1918 (I think. If that’s wrong, someone tell me, quick!!). Peyton and Tenley were born in 2012. Almost 100 years of family, together for Thanksgiving. 100 years of Thanksgivings and Christmases and birthdays and being together as often as possible.

And then there’s Daniel. Oh, Daniel. Who sits quietly while my family complains about Yankees and people from “up there.” Who not only engages himself in conversation with everyone from my great-grandmother to the babies, but spends his time fixing people’s guns and showing them how to make all sorts of dangerous things. He got to know everyone and is genuinely glad to be part of my family. I am so grateful that my family welcomed him right away.

Even though I didn’t see them at Thanksgiving this year, I have to give a shout-out to my in-laws. They have welcomed me into their family and have made a sincere and loving effort to get to know me and be my friend. I now have more parents, more sisters, more brothers, more aunts, more uncles, and more cousins to call family. Not to mention all of my cute nieces and nephews.

So this year, I am thankful for my family. I never realized how blessed I was until this year. I grew up with grandparents and great-grandparents and this year it really hit me that a lot of people do not have that opportunity. I get to not only meet but have a relationship with so many people in my family. And while so many people do not get along with their in-laws, I can’t wait until Christmas so I can see all of mine again. I am blessed beyond anything I have ever deserved.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and have a Merry Christmas. And if you don’t have any family to see this year, or just want to borrow a grandparent, give me a call. You can join us any time. 

But stay away from the brownies. I call dibs.

5 generations of awesome. 

Nancy Drew is a Truant Jerk.

Nancy Drew is a Truant Jerk.

My sister and I used to read the Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys Super Mysteries. Nancy Drew would team up with the Hardy Boys – yes, they’re still using their famous “hand signals” to communicate – and they would solve crimes all over the world. It was glorious. And the cover art was just the stuff of legend:

Check out that bad boy. I cannot decide if her hair or the expression on the dark-haired guy’s face is worse. Not to mention the kid in the back being chased by a ninja.

Recently, I discovered the best store on the planet, Books for Less.  It has books that are out of print, hard to find, etc. etc. Shockingly, my beloved Nancy Drew books have been out of print for quite a while, but I found them all at Books for Less. Every. Last. One. So I got some. Shut up; they’re awesome. Okay, that’s a lie. They’re horrible. I have discovered that Nancy, Frank, and Joe are all terrible students with no regard for education or safety. And they’ve started dragging their friends into it.

What’s that? You want me to break down a list of examples for these statements? Okey dokey. For you, anything.

I now present to you the reasons that cause me to believe Nancy Drew is a truant jerk and the Hardy Boys should be in prison:

1) She is never in school. Ever. Neither are the Hardy Boys. I could maybe get on board with them being 18 and just not going to college, thus explaining the oodles of free time they all enjoy. But no – the books regularly mention that one of them has a paper due soon, or how Joe is on the football team, or how Nancy knows French because she is taking it in school.

WHY AREN’T YOU IN CLASS, KIDS. I know you have parents – fine, one of you has a dad and a housekeeper – so where do they think you are? Do you live in some kind of time warp with infinite Thanksgivings and spring breaks and summers? Or have you somehow removed your name from the roster so the truant officer doesn’t even know you’re missing?

Don’t take this path. School is cool. I get it – solving mysteries is exciting. You know what isn’t exciting? Getting fired from the minimum-wage job you only barely acquired after you got your G.E.D. at the age of 47 because you left for 6 weeks to solve a mystery in China. Get to class.

2) Nancy’s fat friend Bess has no brains, no life, and no future. You remember Bess. She is the “curvy” one that all the boys love. However, in the books, she is portrayed as a sad idiot who probably couldn’t tie her shoelaces if Nancy wasn’t waving a donut in front of her.

In every single book, Bess is hungry. She wines. She naps while Nancy is out crime-fighting. We know all of this because Nancy tells us in her condescending super-sleuth tone of snottiness. It always goes something like this: “Nancy turned around to ask Bess if she wanted to come with her to the mystery mansion, but Bess was sound asleep in her bed. As usual. But that was okay, because Nancy knew Bess would only find a guy to flirt with. Darn her and her socializing, anyway. Nancy left a note and a pastry by Bess’ bed as she snuck out of the room, glad her friend wasn’t joining her this time. Also, Bess was fat.”

That might be a slight exaggeration. But only a slight one. Be nice, Nancy Drew. You keep promising Bess awesome vacations to Seattle and Rome and Greece and France and then you drag her into your quest to catch a serial killer and get her kidnapped. And when she tries to make a new friend or, heaven forbid, eat lunch, you moan about it. She just wants to RELAX, Nancy. Friendship means doing what the other person wants sometimes. 

3) The Hardy Boys are always breaking and entering. I am throwing down a challenge right now. If you can find me one of these books where the Hardy Boys and occasionally Nancy do not break into a suspect’s house, only to be caught because ~SPOILER ALERT~ the suspect comes home unexpectedly. I will give you a prize if you can bring me the title of the book.

Do you boys think this will hold up in front of a judge? I’ve watched Law & Order enough to know that if evidence is seized unlawfully, they can’t use it in court. So instead of helping the police, you’re really just proving the person committed the crime while simultaneously ensuring that they will never ever go to jail for it. Isn’t your dad like an international detective or something? Use your noggins, boys. And call the cops to help you, for crying out loud. I’ve never been in a dangerous situation and thought “Gee, I hope a 17-year-old kid and his brother show up to save me soon.”

Also, it’s just creepy to be breaking into people’s houses and hiding in their closets and going through their underwear drawers. Fine, the last one hasn’t happened yet but you know it’s just a matter of time. Use all that energy to play Halo or whatever the kids are into.

Don’t forget my challenge. Bring me the book that contains the lack of illegal break-in and you shall receive your prize. And stay in school.

Do You Want Fries With That?

Do You Want Fries With That?

Well, Obama won. I’ll be honest and say I was disappointed, but them’s the breaks, right? I will be praying for him to make wise decisions as he leads our country. I encourage you to do the same – regardless of your opinion of Obama, he is still our President and we still need to care about our country. 

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun with it, too.

This morning when Daniel told me Obama had won – my dedication to my country is second only to my dedication to my pillow so I was fast asleep for the results – my first thought was, “Okay. Just four more years. We can do this.”

And then something occurred to me. What will Obama do after his next four years are over? I mean, he has kids, who I am assuming like food and shelter. And he doesn’t appear to have any kind of magic wand or leprechaun to provide him with resources. So what will his next job be? **Disclaimer** I know there is probably an answer to this. I don’t care about that answer. Mine is more hilarious.

I like to picture President Obama walking into a Barnes & Noble in about 4.5 years. He will walk up to the counter, straighten his tie, and say, “I’d like an application, please.” A bored teenager will hand one over to him without looking up from his Angry Birds game and Obama will sit on a nearby couch, filling out his application, wedged between George W. and Sarah Palin.

Just picture it. For the section about his former jobs he would have to put “President of the United States of America.” That’s awesome. 

Then, of course, the interview process would be next. Still wearing his best suit, he would sit down with the manager of the store – a guy named Bobby who wasn’t even eligible to vote in the last election because of his age – and proceed to answer some of the typical interview questions:

Bobby: So, Mr… How do you say it?

Obama: It’s Oh-bah-mah.

Bobby: Right, sorry. So, Mr. Obama –

Obama: It’s President, actually.

Bobby: Sorry?

Obama: It’s not Mr. Obama; it’s President Obama.

Bobby: Listen, Mr. Obama, the first thing you need to know to work here is that we are all team players. There’s no room for any superstars here. May I continue?

Obama: Sorry; of course.

Bobby: What do you think qualifies you to work here at the B & N?

Obama: Well, I have great leadership skills.

Bobby: Can you give me an example?

Obama: Uh – well, I led a country for eight years.

Bobby: Mmhmm, I see. I noticed that you also wrote down that you had your last job for a while and then it suddenly ended. Tell me what happened there.

Obama: Well, that job had predetermined time limits. You can’t work there for more than eight years in that position.

Bobby: Mr. Obama, we don’t like the word “can’t” around here. And we don’t like excuses. It sounds to me like the job got too hard after eight years.

Obama: No… I mean, they made me leave. I didn’t have a choice. It’s the law.

Bobby: So you’re telling me you were fired.

Obama: NO. I knew it would not be a permanent job when I took it. That is how the job is set up.

Bobby: Okay. Is there anything else you want to add?

Obama: Just that I also love the work of J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer and would be a great help to shoppers in the teen and young adult section.

Bobby: Great. We’ll call you.

AAAAnd scene.

Tell me that wasn’t the best thing you’ve ever pictured.

Good luck and God bless you, President Obama. And if you get to work at Barnes & Noble, call me. I applied like a million times in high school and need to know what I was missing.

“And then I got to see the BREAKROOM. Boom. Obama’s back in action.”
Lock Lock Chain Chain

Lock Lock Chain Chain

When Daniel and I were dating, I was on this quest to make his nieces and nephews like me. They tend to like everyone so this wasn’t hard but I was determined to be the best aunt ever. So when Christmas came around and we wanted to give his nieces and nephews a gift, I was trying to think of something that would be good for a variety of ages.

What about stop blocks?!” I said. “Kids love stop blocks!” And before Daniel could even raise both of his eyebrows, I realized my mistake.

In my family, Legos are called stop blocks. I don’t know why. All I know is that my sister Mandy started calling them stop blocks when she was little and it stuck. My parents just let us live in a world where the actual names of toys meant nothing. Since my sister also had a doll named Nobody, maybe they figured it was best to just let her figure things out on her own and subsequently misinform her siblings. I don’t know.

What I do know is that I had just called Legos, an item so popular that there are entire stores and theme parks centered around it, a name that made absolutely no sense to anyone but my family. And Daniel’s eyebrows were getting higher and higher.

I tried to explain. But it was too late. The damage was done. Our relationship was a little rockier after that. And we wound up getting the kids something non-Lego related.

You think I would have learned my lesson about revealing weird childhood secrets. But no. Just a few weeks ago, when Daniel and I were on vacation with my family, it happened again.

We were all sitting in the pool, including my nephew, Peyton, who was just over 8 weeks old at the time. My sister (yes, the stop block creator) was trying to dip Peyton’s toes in the pool but he was having none of it and was getting fussy. Can’t blame the kid. So then I spoke up:

“Maybe when he’s older he’ll like playing Lock Lock Chain Chain.”

I had done it again. Daniel turned to look at me. “What in the world is Lock Lock Chain Chain?”

Here’s the deal with this game: When I was little, I loved for my dad to chase me around the pool pretending to be a bad guy. He would catch me and say he was going to eat me for dinner. (Hang in there; it gets weirder.) When he caught me, he would take me over to a ladder and pretend to secure me to it with a lock and chain. In order to do this, he had to say, “Lock lock chain chain…” as he pretended to make me his prisoner.

But it didn’t stop there. Locks and chains were not enough to hold me so I would always escape. Honestly, it was like my dad wasn’t even trying. So when my dad would catch me again, he would add things to the security process to keep me there. It would turn into “Lock lock, chain chain, nail nail, hammer hammer, glue glue…” And, yes, everything was said twice, like some kind of very specific obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Trying to explain this to Daniel went a little something like this: “My dad used to chase me and tie me up. Well, not really. I mean, I wanted him to. Wait, back up. We would go swimming. Not like just to play this game but if we were already in the pool we would usually play it. He would chase me and pretend he was going to boil me in a pot and eat me with ketchup. It sounds worse than it is.”

Daniel’s face now had the expression of someone who had just seen a naked clown juggling babies on an ice rink.

“Did you just say ketchup??”

Apparently, other children did not play this game. Apparently, it was “creepy.” Apparently, pretending to be a serial killer with your children is not something every parent promotes.

But look at us! We turned out great!

Okay, so… maybe don’t play Lock Lock Chain Chain with your kids.