What is Gratitude?

Wish I could take credit for this post, but it's not mine.  Written just in time for Thanksgiving by a great author, Tommy Newberry. 

Please read Genuine Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

The Finger is Mightier than the Crowbar

I love this story out of our local paper today... just a regular guy standing up for himself and his store.  Go you, Michael Allgeier!


Have a great day everyone!

Woman Barely Escapes Testosterone Overload

My home had been overtaken by teenage boys. The girls heard them coming and scattered, but I had to play hostess. Luckily, that simply consisted of buying enough soda and chips to feed a small country, and making sure that anything I didn't want broken or smeared with chocolate icing was safely put away. Then I just gave them the following items: 

1. A football (ONLY when outside) This, of course, ended up stuck in a pine tree.  More than once. 

2. Small squishy football (because I knew that eventually they were going to be throwing SOMETHING around inside the house) We learned that bouncing it off each other's head apparently NEVER STOPS BEING FUNNY. 

3. PS2 with Madden Football (borrowed from a friend because we're not above mooching) 

4. A couple bags of balloons (Steelers black & gold of course) for them to get "inventive" with. 

Okay, that last one wasn't really planned, but just sort of turned out that way. Put some balloons in the hands of a slew of guys running on pure adrenaline, testosterone, and sugar... and stand back. 

But sitting there observing them, it occurred to me... why in the world did these creatures scare me 25 years ago? When I was a teenage girl, there were only a handful of guys that I truly felt comfortable to hang around with. Anyway, so other than the crew that I hung out with, guys were like foreigners from a strange country with different customs and their own language. But now it's so easy to sit around my house with all the boys laughing and cracking jokes, pulling pranks on each other. In many ways, it's more comfortable than when I have a houseful of girls. Not that I don't enjoy hanging with the girls, too, but some of them just make you feel like they're probably mocking you when your back is turned and saying nasty things about you when you leave the room. Or maybe that's just my leftover insecurities from high school... but guys are just... guys. Take 'em at face value and they'll do the same with you. Why couldn't I see that when I was a teenager?

Now, I do have to say that I'm glad I don't have all boys all the time. I've wondered how my friends who have just boys handle all that... manliness 24/7. We have two boys, two girls... a nice balance. The girls give the boys enough practice to know how interact with the opposite sex, and the boys keep the girls from thinking they're "all that". It all works out. 

So it's all good.  Although next time we have a houseful of teenage boys, I might go to the mall with the girls.

Come Any Closer and I'll Beat the DUST Outta You!

Shortly after graduating from high school, I moved to Rochester, New York and rented a room from a woman with two kids who marched in the drum corps with me. Ann-Marie and Jimmy were still in high school, about 16 and 17 years old I think. I was working second shift so I was still at home when Ann-Marie and her friend Jennifer would get out of school. Her brother worked right after school, so it would just be the girls until the mom came home from work a few hours later, which was about the time I left for my job.

So here’s the scene: Ann-Marie and Jennifer are sitting at the dining room table doing their homework. I’m just puttering around the house until it’s time to go to work. Suddenly there’s a huge CRASH in the basement. We all stop what we’re doing and stare at each other until someone suggests it must have been the cat. This sounds plausible, so we all go back to what we were doing until Jennifer says, “Umm, the cat’s sleeping on the chair next to me.” In case you’ve never been a teenage girl or spent any time with a teenage girl, let me tell you that we can go from zero to PANIC in about point four-two seconds. It’s called Drama, and nobody does it better than three teenage girls home alone!

Of course, Drama dictates that the only other plausible cause for the noise in the basement was a serial killer/rapist or Freddy Krueger. We need to get out of the house now! But wait, that’s not good enough for Drama; instead, we need to INVESTIGATE first. We tiptoe towards the basement door, single file so that Freddy the serial killer/rapist doesn’t have to tackle us all at once but can take us down one at a time in a nice orderly fashion. Since it was Ann-Marie’s house, we were fine with letting her go first. Yeah, I know I was a couple years older and should have taken charge but c’mon, we’re talking about a serial killer/rapist and/or undead child murderer! Wait, we need weapons to defend ourselves, so as we creep through the kitchen, still in single file, Ann-Marie starts grabbing potential weapons and handing them back to Jennifer, who hands them to me. Let me tell you, by the time six weapons had been acquired, Ann-Marie had two big kitchen knives, Jennifer had two smaller-but-still-potentially-lethal knives, and I had a wooden spoon and a rug beater. I am NOT making this up. Maybe I should have taken the lead. At least then I would have had first pick of weapons and been able to do more than just give the guy a headache.

Well, the decision to check out the basement flew right out the front door when there was another CRASH. Actually, it was three screaming girls that flew right out the front door, but same thing. We tore out of that house like Freddy was right on our heels! At this point in the story, I should mention that our house was next door to an elementary school. And the little kids were just being let out for the day. And standing on the sidewalk in plain view are three teenage girls holding knives and freaking out. Correction: two teenage girls holding knives and one holding a rug beater. In front of an elementary school. Yeah, we got some looks. Oddly enough, now that I think about it, no one said anything to us. Then again, maybe that’s not odd; I don’t know that I’d walk up to a panicking stranger holding kitchen knives and ask them what was going on.

Over the next half-hour or so, two things became abundantly clear. One, we needed to call for help (this was in the 80s, before cell phones) so we needed to get the phone. And two, we were FREEZING and wanted our jackets. So we developed a fool-proof plan for entering the house, retrieving the phone AND our jackets, and getting out in one piece. Ann-Marie would find the phone, Jennifer would collect our coats, and I would stand halfway between the front door and the basement door holding two of the knives. I don’t remember if we actually decided what I was supposed to do if someone actually came out of the basement, we might have overlooked that variable.

I'm in the sunglasses, Jennifer is the redhead on the right and Ann Marie is directly in front of my in the first row.  Me and my girls... I miss you ladies!
It took another fifteen minutes to get up the nerve to carry out this plan. We were in and out in about ten seconds, just as my boyfriend pulled up to take me to work. He thought we were being ridiculous and went in to investigate. There was nothing awry in the basement. No signs anywhere in the house of an intruder. Although I imagine that any respectable serial killer/rapist/movie villain would never leave behind any evidence of his presence. Well, except for all the blood and carnage. And probably something cryptic written on the wall in blood. But nothing identifiable. But, we were assured that it was probably a stray cat or raccoon or other harmless rabid creature. So I wished the girls good luck not getting killed and then I headed off to work. I'd like to think the past twenty-some years have matured me to the point that noises in the basement wouldn't automatically bring to mind images from every scary movie I've ever seen. I have a feeling that's not the case.

NOTE: this photo was actually taken in Quebec City, which you can read about here.

No, Really, It's My Lunch Break!

Wow, the past couple days at work have been zipping by!  But not so fast that I didn't take a moment to photograph a couple things that amused me.  I should warn you, I'm easily amused and it's usually with by myself...

male pattern baldness

This poor tree outside my window apparently suffers from male-pattern baldness.  I wonder if the landscape people could fashion some type of comb-over?


Not a very clear photo, but in case you didn't know it, the label identifies this object as a BANANA.  Whew, I'm glad they told me!  I thought it was a carrot.  Labels for the produce-challenged?

OK, lunch time's almost over; back to work.

Well, let's just say there are about sixty-eleven things you could've said besides that!

Sometimes I think my parents should have named me Pollyanna.  I know that being optimistic about other people’s intentions can blow up in your face.  But I really believe that there is no reason to think that other people are any different than me.  We make the same mistakes, want the same basic things out of life, and hold the same expectations of everyone else.  This is why I have trouble understanding the whole mother-in-law stereotype.  Who decided that most mothers-in-law are meddling, judgmental and nasty?  That hasn’t been my experience, and I’ve had TWO of them!  While my first mother-in-law is an amazing person and worthy of a blog post of her own, I’d like to share with you a little about the woman who made Hubby who he is. 
Our bittersweet last visit with Mom 2006

The late Natalie Young was a million times more of a Pollyanna than I am.  She always chose to see the good in people.  I say “chose to” because she wasn’t naïve; she knew a bad egg when she met one, but she was not a judgmental person and her upbeat mood was contagious.  I remember the first time I met her; she and her husband had just gotten back from a Mediterranean cruise and I was nervous about meeting them both.  I should point out that Hubby is such an amazing man that I have always struggled with feeling unworthy of sharing my life with him.  (I know, it’s stupid… he tells me so)  But especially when we were dating, I had a bit of an inferiority complex and felt sure that his mother would agree with me that her son was too good for the likes of me! 

Instead, I walked into a home where these two happy, laughing retired people hugged me like I was a long-lost loved one.  She gave me a scarf that she had bought in Greece.  I don’t wear scarves, but that particular scarf has hung in a prominent place in our bedroom for eight and a half years.  Especially now that she’s gone, it reminds me every day of how blessed I was to have such a great lady in my life. 

Hubby and I were both married before but I was welcomed into the family so quickly, it almost felt like they had always been my family.  Even more important, Mom opened her arms and her heart to my eleven-year-old daughter.  Shortly after we were married, my daughter even asked to change her last name to Hubby’s, because she was so loved by the family that she wanted to share their name, too.  I remember Mom introducing her to people as her “newest granddaughter”, which always got funny looks since a new grandchild is typically a baby. 

Shortly after we got married, I lost my job.  Mom said, “Great, now we can have some girl-time, to get to know each other better.”  And we did.  The woman had a way of making you feel like you were pretty darn awesome yourself!  She always laughed at my jokes and smart remarks like I was the funniest person she had ever met.  And I bet if you ask others who knew her, she probably made them feel the same way. 

When we learned that Mom had terminal cancer, it was like being smacked in the face with a brick and then immediately hit by a speeding bus.  They had moved to Florida a few years earlier and we went to spend some time with them.  Even miserably sick and with the knowledge that she was dying, her mood didn’t drop.  She joked, laughed, and lifted everyone else’s spirits just like she always had.  We shared some amazing conversation that I won’t go into, because it was between her and me, but once again she had made me feel like maybe if I was just a fraction of the person she saw me as, then I was pretty okay. 

The day we had to leave for home was one of the hardest, most painful days in my life.  We knew we wouldn’t be seeing her again and that hurt more than I could have imagined.  Hubby stayed pretty calm; especially considering the fact that the man knows he has the most amazing mother ever.  The kids tried to just get through the good-byes.  I was a blubbering idiot who Hubby had to practically push out the door.  She was gone a couple weeks later. 

I had an amazing mother-in-law who taught her sons to be good men, good husbands, and good fathers.  I missed out on being able to know Hubby’s dad, he passed away before we’d ever met, but another good man came along and treated that woman like the precious gift she was.  We all miss that gift terribly but are grateful for having been blessed with her in our lives!

As Seen On TV!

I was on my way home from work tonight when Hubby texted me to say the power had just gone out.  That was over an hour ago and here we sit, still in the dark.  No storm, it was a beautiful fall day and I didn’t see a car smashed into a utility pole anywhere, so I don’t know what the problem is, but I called the electric company and they said they’d already received about 300 calls about it, so the power should be back on soon.  Uh huh.

We’re just getting really tired of flipping light switches that we’ve flipped twenty times already.  How long does it take the human brain to figure out that THE POWER IS OUT AND FLIPPING THE LIGHT SWITCH ISN’T GOING TO HELP?  Yet every time one of us walks into a different room: *flip* “Oh, yeah.”  Hubby said we wouldn’t be able to make supper without power (we have an electric stove), so I thought I’d prove him wrong and just make some chicken salad sandwiches.  Got out a can of chicken, walked over to the can opener, and stared at it, stupified.  “Ummmm….”

Now I have a manual can opener for just these occasions, but not your typical can opener.  THIS is the “As Seen on TV” Miracle Can.  Well, ok, it was seen on TV maybe twenty years ago.  I even tried to Google it just now and everything that came up for “miracle can opener” looked like it actually could open a can.  Then toward the bottom of the page of images, I found this:
pineapple couch

I think this picture is pretty much representative of my Miracle can opener.  It’s not the one made by Ecko that kept showing up on Google.  I wish I had that one.  No, this is one of those that cut the side of the can instead of the top, supposedly eliminating any sharp edges.  It’s actually quite effective at eliminating sharp edges… because it doesn’t actually open anything.  After about 237 trips around the can, I managed to loosen it enough so that Hubby could use a pair of pliers to pry the top off.

So then I thought, “Aha!  I can still get online using my laptop.  The battery doesn’t last very long, but it will be something.”  Then Hubby pointed out that without power, the router wasn’t on.  Grrrrr.  So instead I decided to sit down and write this until the battery died.  Then the power came back on but by then I was halfway through this post, so I decided to keep writing and Googled miracle can openers.  And found a frowny face instead.  I have now succeeded in not doing anything I had intended to come home and do tonight.  Mission accomplished.
This is a beautiful, albeit unnatural creature!

baby liger picture

But Zombie Squirrels Don't Wear Lipstick... Do They?

One of the worst feelings is that moment when you realize that you are not wearing what you thought you were wearing. And there's nothing you can do about it. It usually stems from getting dressed in the dark. Or in a hurry. Or hiding from the zombie squirrels. OK, I've never actually experienced that last one, but it would have be hard to coordinate your outfit in such a situation.

Like the one night when I was getting ready for bed... I took out my earrings and discovered that they were not a matching pair. They weren't even CLOSE. And I had been wearing them all day. At work. In front of everyone. And no one told me. Sometimes I find myself in awe at what a loser I can be.

But way worse than that was the time I was sitting in my kids' Sunday school class and I glanced down to see brown shoes sticking out from under the cuffs of my black pants. I could have SWORN I'd put on black shoes that morning! Of course, I didn't actually swear, because I was in church, but I could have! But what I did do was quietly get up and leave. I raced home, changed my shoes and made it back before the worship service started. It's very likely that nobody would have noticed anyway, but I was mortified! I imagined that I must look like somebody's senile grandma; all I needed was some red-orange lipstick drawn about half an inch outside of my actual lips and I'd be all set to scare small children. Maybe some of that rose-scented perfume that always made me gag as a child. Who decided that roses smelled good, anyway? I was CERTAINLY not consulted on that issue. Logic would tell me that we all have different tastes in what does and doesn't smell good. Logic would tell me that, but I wouldn't listen to Logic, because Logic probably thinks that roses smell good. Or that brown shoes go with black pants. Stupid Logic.

Recognize Truth When You See It

I read an article today that blew me away. I was intrigued by the title or else I might have skipped over it, thinking it was just another "love yourself the way you are" message. It's not. Dan Pearce writes Single Dad Laughing. Like me, he hasn't been blogging for very long. But the honesty and sincerity I found in this post cements his place as one of the top blogs on the Internet. Take the time to read this and see if you don't feel the same way...
God bless your day!

The Whimsical Life of Pico and Annette

My siblings and our mother are spread all over the eastern US, so we keep in touch through email.  We actually carry on conversations throughout each day, hitting "reply all", so that sometimes, you might not be part of a conversation but you can always "listen in".  Most times, it doesn't take long for these emails to become pretty silly.  Here is a snippet of one such email conversation:

My brother Dave: "I have been wondering for years how flowers (and other plants) follow the sun.  Everyone I asked either ignored the question or didn't know or restated the reason they do it, but no one said how.  Finally, I found an answer.  Not certain if it's the right answer, but it sounds plausible.  Plants follow the sun because of increased elongation of the stem on the shadowed side.  The growth of cells on the sunny side of the stem is suppressed by the presence of light (the growth hormone that causes cells to lengthen is photo-sensitive), so that one side of the stem is slightly longer than the other.  This makes the stem bend toward the sun during the day."

My brother Bill: "That is interesting."

Me: "No it wasn't. It wasn't the least bit interesting. Stop encouraging him!"

My sister Sue: "*yawns* I have a new grandson if anyone is interested. Not sure the sun-worshipping flowers can be outdone, though."

Me: "Was Heather pregnant? Or is it one of the boys'? I'm pretty sure I'd remember if you had told us that Rachel was expecting... so, what's his name?"

My sister Betsy (after two days with no answer from Sue): "Based on Sue's current reply rate to email, this grandson will be celebrating a birthday before we know whose child it is... or did she answer you personally, Julie?"

Me: "Nope, not a word.   I've decided to make up my own version of who the parents of this baby are... it'll be juicy!  Very soap opera-ish."

Bill: "The father is a displaced chef from the New Orleans flooding.  The mother is a waitress he met as he migrated north to escape the rising waters.  The father's name is Pico Sanchez and he is a mouse.  He fell in love with the beautiful waitress right away.  The waitress was surprised by the mouse.  She was not aware that mice could cook so well or where he kept his wallet when he tipped her as he didn't seem to have any clothes on.  She admired and respected him and eventually loved him for his skill in the kitchen.  Eventually they were married.  Thus begins our story of Pico the mouse and Annette.  Both Pico and Annette had some money saved and began their life together north of Mobile, Alabama having started their own little diner.  Recently, they had their first little one which we were told about by our sister Sue."

Me: "VERY good, but one question... Sue refers to the baby as her grandson? So is she Pico's mother or Annette's?"

Our Mom: "You people!  You build up such kooky stories, I'd nearly forgotten what the original story was. Oh yeah, Ethan!"

Me: "I think we've just been scolded by Mom for making fun of Susie's grandson. Tee hee... I'm gonna start poking her when Mom's not looking."

(So apparently, Sue's stepson Ethan is the proud new daddy. But technically Mom, the original story was Dave's flowers-bending-toward-the-sun snoozefest.)

Bill (continuing the story without missing a beat): Sue was very proud of her new grandson named Ethan.  She was not alone in this though.  Pico was also very proud and sent out letters of announcement to all his relatives who had stayed and lived through the flood in New Orleans.  Shortly afterward those very relatives came to visit Pico and Annette, all 423 of them.  Pico was overwhelmed by their family spirit.  Annette was just overwhelmed and asked Pico where they would all sleep for the duration of their stay.  "Under the sink next to the soap, of course" replied Pico.  "There are so many" said Annette as she put their son in his crib.  "Not so many" replied Pico. "Combined they make up less mass than one of your legs".  Annette looked at him with a shocked expression.  Pico began stepping backward with his paws up.  "No no, I didn't mean it like that.  Your legs are not fat.  I am just saying that mathematically speaking, one of them has more mass than 423 of my relatives"  Pico said smiling.  Annette said nothing and turned to go to get the child's bottle.  Later that night as they lay in bed, Pico assured Annette that his relatives would only stay a few days.  He was not sure she was placated.  She reached over and patted his head and said, "Well I should just be thankful you aren't a rat".  Pico knew he had that coming.  He apologized to her and they both went to sleep knowing that their son was being watched by 423 pairs of little eyes.

No one else probably cares about this, I just find my mood is lifted every time one of my family shows up in my inbox. Especially Bill... we don't hear from him very often, but when he does chime in, it's always entertaining.

Every Year, I Understand a Little More Why Bears Hibernate

It was a VERY snowy Saturday but my doctor had scheduled me for an MRI on my back in the city.  Even though it was really snowing and blowing and the roads were getting worse, I HAD to get groceries.  So I thought, “Great! There’s a supermarket right next door to the Imaging Center.”  My back had been in spasm for a couple days by then, in addition to the sciatic pain in my hip, so I really just wanted to get home quickly and safely.  After the MRI, I dragged myself through the store as quickly as I could.  I probably looked like Igor if he'd been a contestant on Supermarket Sweep.  

Next was the monumental feat of getting my shopping cart through the snow and slush in the parking lot to my car.  Once I finally loaded my groceries in, I got in the car and started it up.  I was just two car rows away the gas station that shared the same parking lot and since I only had about an 1/8th of a tank, I just needed to brush the snow off my windshield enough to drive over there and fill up.  So I grabbed my snowbrush and got out, brushed off the snow and tried to get back in.   All the doors had locked behind me.   The keys are in the ignition.  Car’s running.  My purse is on the front seat.  I always carry my phone in my pants pocket, except when I wear my comfy yoga pants, which have no pockets.  I was wearing comfy yoga pants.  My phone was in my purse.  I can barely see the other side of the parking lot through the snow.  My back and hip are killing me.  And Hubby has the only other key, but he's half an hour away.  That was a very long half hour.  

I walked over to the gas station, since it was closer, and used their phone but they had nowhere to sit and my back wouldn't allow me to stand that long, so I bundled back up and journeyed back across the parking lot frozen tundra to the grocery store to sit in their café.  And I couldn’t even buy a stupid cup of tea to warm me up because my stupid purse was locked in the stupid car.  Hubby drove up, with a happy little grin on his face… I just climbed in the truck and pointed to where the car was.

So then, a few days later…

The day started out nice enough… and then I heard a lot of banging around behind the stove, so I figured a mouse had gotten stuck in the trap Hubby put back there and apparently didn’t die. Sure enough, his little arm was caught by the trap and so was a piece of yarn that I had tied to one of the cat’s little jingly balls.  Hence all the racket.  Well, Wally was VERY excited about this find so I pulled out the drawer below the oven and let him go get it and went back to getting ready for work.  When I came back downstairs, the mouse was still in perfect health, except for that broken arm.  Wally was just batting him around, so I picked it up and tossed it out in the snow, trap and all, so I wouldn’t have mouse guts in my house when I came home.  Wally went bounding out into the snow after it and I watched him having a blast tormenting the thing, but when I went to leave a little later, Wally had managed to FREE the mouse from the trap and then lost interest in it, so I saw it scurry away while the cat just watched.  Somewhere out there is a mouse with a limp and an amazing story to tell his grandkids.

So I left… or tried to leave.  Hubby had warned me that the snowplow had left a good-sized pile at the end of the driveway and I’d have to blast through it without slowing down.  But I still got stuck.  In my own driveway.   With the trunk of my car sticking out into the road in a snowstorm.   Hubby had left for work, so I called the Boss, who sent one of our truck drivers over to free me. (I should have asked Wally to do it; he’s good at freeing things)  In the meantime, I kept starting the car to keep it warm and brushing off the back end so any cars going by could see it and hopefully not hit it.  It was snowing fast that morning!  And yes, I was extremely careful to check that the doors were unlocked before getting out each time.  I also tried shoveling around the tires, which didn’t work but did remind me of the reason I just had that MRI done.  Doc had said no shoveling.  Go figure.  So the truck gets there, and of course it’s Bill, the driver who pulled me out of a ditch two winters ago, so I’m really embarrassed.  He surveys the situation, decides how he’s going to do it and what I need to do, and I go for the door.  It’s locked!  A moment of panic, followed by several moments of thinking “I can’t cry in front of this guy!”  Bill tried the passenger side door and apparently my repeatedly hitting “unlock” each time I got out had worked on that door.  So he pulls the car out, plows the snow, and I go to work.  I’m met at my desk by the Boss, but I really just want to turn on my space heater to dry out my not-so-waterproof boots.  So I reach under the desk to plug it in.  And smack the top of my head full-force on the corner of my desk drawer.  In front of the Boss.  So I STILL can’t cry.  

Now even though it may sound like it, I refuse to believe that I have some dark cloud over my head.  I do still have a very tender spot, though.

Magic Realism Is a Thing and Apparently It Is Preoccupied with Ears

So the title of this post is dedicated to Rhysaurus, whom I came across while Googling "chimney monster" to see if such a creature was out there on the web or isolated to my father's imagination.    If you'd like to read his interesting blog about stories of magic realism, go here.  Anyway, back to my original post...

See, my dad loved to tell us stories.  Scary stories.  Right before bedtime.  Maybe he thought it would toughen us up.  Pretty much, I think he just got a big kick out of scaring the crap out of us.  Probably the most commonly told bedtime story around our house was "The Chimney Monster".  I have no idea if Dad heard of this character from somewhere else or made it up himself, but I'm sure that the stories about him were all Dad's.  Most of it I've blocked from my memory.  My brain probably figured that was the only way I was going to fall sleep.  Ever.

What made this story work for us was the location of the chimney in our house.  We didn't have a fireplace, so there was no fear of him coming out that way.  No, the Chimney Monster lived at our house because the chimney came up through the middle of the attic.  It wasn't a typical attic, but just an unfinished room on the second floor.  The doorway was in the bedroom I shared with my sister.  Right next to my bed.  So late at night, once we were all in bed, the Chimney Monster would come out of the chimney through some doorway that was invisible to the human eye.  And then he would slowly and quietly open the door to our bedroom.  And then he would eat us.  Or something.  I'm not sure Dad even had to go that far into the story; all he had to do was pause dramatically... and then grab one of us with a yell.  Yep, that pretty much guaranteed Mom wasn't going to be getting much sleep that night.

Dad loved to play hide and seek with us kids, too.  Only our games had to be at night in pitch black rooms.  Mom would stay in the kitchen with the light on and the door closed because invariably at least one child would need a safe haven at some point.  The rest of us would go upstairs and find our hiding spots in the dark.  Then we'd hear Dad start up the stairs.  Slowly he would ascend while using his creepiest scary-monster-voice: "Ready or not, here I come!"  I’m told that when my one brother was little (before I was born) he would typically meet Dad at the top of the stairs, shouting "You found me Dad! You found me!"  Guess he wasn't up for the suspense.   Or peeing his pants.

My sisters and I joke about how we learned to do everything with our elbows firmly dug into our sides.  This was conditioned into us by our Dad who loved to jab us in the ribs.  At the dinner table, if Dad got up and walked behind us for some reason, we would simultaneously sit up very straight and rigid, protecting our sides with our elbows, just bracing for what we knew was going to happen.  We learned to eat, watch TV, do homework and even play the piano in this position (for the most part).  Whoa to the girl who let down her guard!   And we would fight over who had to sit next to Dad at dinner.  He loved to mess with you with you tried to eat.  Waiting until you had the fork almost to your mouth and then knocking it down.  Taking food off your plate.  He was quite a jokester, but after several years of it, we dreamt of eating just one meal in peace.  Then again, I wouldn't trade one minute of my childhood.  I miss you, Dad.