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I received some devastating news on Saturday*: my twenty one-year-old son said that he enjoys an Almond Joy candy bar now and then.

Almond Joy

DEVASTATING*.

I thought I was the only one in the family who consumed Almond Joy bars. I mean, I have enjoyed the heck out of grabbing the fun-sized Almond Joys out of the boys’ trick-or-treat bags after they spent Halloween night ringing doorbells for sweets, because they ranked Almond Joy down there with Circus Peanuts and Whoppers. I’ve loved buying the occasional Almond Joy and leaving it on the counter where it would stay untouched until I was ready to eat it. Making sure that Almond Joys were a part of whatever Halloween candy mix I purchased meant that I would always have my own stash of treats for later. I have hid candy from the rest of my family for years (Hello Hershey Eggs and Cadbury Mini Eggs), but a package of Almond Joy bars was always safe. Mine. No worries. MINE.

But now this*.

I found out by accident. He went upstairs to the kitchen while we were watching TV and returned with a handful of candy from our Halloween leftovers bag. I saw a couple of those distinctive blue wrappers and exclaimed, “What the heck???!!!”

He smiled and said, “What? I have grown to like them.”

I think I then said something like “ARGHHHHHHH adkfoieyaiajdf;kdj;afdiuateurnsfojslsakjsoiuc!!!”

Smiling, he gingerly slid one over my way and that’s when the child became the parent. Again.

*In case you wondered, this is all in fun. I really don’t mind sharing; I’ll just make a point of buying double from this point on. *wink*

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The Mystery of the Denim Shorts

Alternate title: Designer Label Averse, Apparently.

The scene: my bedroom.
Jim, home for the first time since August, has handed me a pair of Calvin Klein denim shorts and questions to whom they belong.

CK denim shorts

“You, I thought…” I replied. “They aren’t yours?”
“No,” he said. “They aren’t my size and anyway, I don’t wear Calvin Klein anything.”

“Oh, maybe they belong to Dylan,” I said.

Sidenote: Dylan, who currently lives here full time, is so well-known for his love of wearing denim shorts that his college/fraternity nickname was “Jorts”.

Jim strolled into Dylan’s room and put the shorts on his bed.

About an hour later, I was back in my room putting some laundry away when Dylan walked in with the denim shorts.
“Uhhh,” he began, “I think these are dad’s. Definitely not mine. They’re not my size.”
“Are you SURE?” I asked. You’re the denim shorts guy and I could swear these were yours.”
“No,” he said. “They’re too big, and I don’t wear Calvin Klein. Maybe they’re Grandpa’s?”

*both of us laugh, slightly maniacally* (Grandpa wouldn’t wear Calvin Klein either.)

Jason arrives on the scene. He’s still in college and is only home for the weekend but it occurs to me that perhaps he has one solitary pair of denim shorts among his customary cargo shorts and athletic-style shorts. “Are these yours?”

“HA! Uh…NO,” he said definitively. “No way. And I don’t wear Calvin Klein.”

“You guys,” I said, “these denim shorts have to belong to somebody.”

Two hours later the four of us were in the car, on the way home from lunch and an errand at the mall. The denim shorts came up again, and again someone suggested they belonged to Grandpa.

*we all laugh*

“Dad, they’re yours!” Dylan said.
Jim said, “No they aren’t! They’re a size 34! Totally yours.”
Dylan vehemently disagreed.
I said, “Didn’t you get them a while back at Savers?” (Savers is a Goodwill-type of store where the boys have made some great second-hand jeans purchases in the past.)
He shook his head. “Absolutely not. And I don’t just go out and buy Calvin Klein clothing, you know.

Back at home, I grabbed the denim shorts and looked at the tag. They are size 36, which happens to be a size that none of my three guys wear. Basically that means it’s yet another laundry mystery, along with “Where are half of our socks?” “Whose underwear are these?” and “Why do I have so much trouble remembering to move the clothing from the washer to the dryer before it ends up having to be run all over again?”

It’s a good thing I enjoy an awesome mystery. Something else I enjoy? All of us being at home on the same weekend.

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Thirty-ish.

Thirty-ish

I remember when I was a kid I was fascinated with the year 2000. It didn’t seem real to me that in my lifetime, all of a sudden the years would begin with “2”.

I figured out that in the year 2000, I would turn thirty-two. When I was doing that math, thirty-two seemed a million years away. It also seemed SUPER OLD.

Tomorrow I’ll be sixteen years past thirty-two, and there’s really no need to do that math because in addition to what they say about fifty being the new thirty and forty being the new twenty (or something like that), mentally I honestly still feel like I’m half of my actual years. Since “they” also say that age is a state of mind, I plan to stay in that youthful state for as long as possible.

I have no idea where my kid got these candles but I’m in love with them. Thirty-ish? I’ll take it. And now if you’ll excuse me I have a coconut cupcake to enjoy, while I’m still young.

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TGIF!

TGIF!

TGIF, you guys.

I don’t have much today, but it’s Friday and I’m feeling some relief even before the day is over.

My life lately has looked like this:

stress
exhaustion
stress worry exhaustion
stress stress
overthinking
exhaustion
OMG TIRED
Cubs
Cubs
Cubs
Cubs

CUBS
CUBS!
CUBS!!
CUBS!!!
stress
exhaustion
Cubs
stress worry exhaustion
overthinking
CUBS!!!
TIREDDDDDD
stress stress
OMG IT’S FRIDAY!
TGIF!

I’ve already written about the Cubs twice this week so I won’t say another word about them…except to say that today is Cubs Day in Chicago and I sobbed like a baby watching the festivities on TV. Dylan took the train downtown to watch the parade and I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to be in the city so badly in my life, but work kept me home today.

After a crazy week, I’m looking forward to a slightly-lower key weekend, one during which Jim and both boys will all be home, all of us together for the first time since the summer. The weather is going to be beautifully fall-like, we’ve got some fun plans, and all of us get to turn the clocks back one hour on Sunday, which means my birthday gets to be 25 hours long this year. You can’t ask for much more than that. I’m going for some flotation therapy on Monday and Election Day is Tuesday, which means most American citizens are in a state of dread but one thing we can all look forward to is no more political ads everywhere we look.

So, TGIF. I’m focusing on the good stuff and looking forward to breathing a little bit this weekend, surrounded by my guys. Whatchu got?

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Superstitions Be Gone: Cubs Win the 2016 World Series!

Chicago is a very happy city today.
I am a very happy person today.

I am nearly too exhausted to write about this but I’m going to give it a shot: bear with me. I was up until 2am and slept in a most terrible manner for the duration before my eyes sprung open again at 6:45am. I suspect it was because internally I sensed that “Good Morning America” was coming on and I didn’t want to miss the World Series recap, which I enjoyed immensely.

Let me back up.

Chicago Cubs. Cleveland Indians.
What a World Series: a real nail biter.
Game 7, though? I literally thought I was going to have a heart attack at one point.

blood pressure

True story: I went to the doctor today and my blood pressure meds were increased. Hilarious, right? (Not really.)

Ahead of the game there was a lot of chatter among my friends about what to wear, what to do, who could watch and who couldn’t watch…for example, my dad told my sister and me a couple of weeks ago that whenever he used to watch the Cubs play, they would lose. Suffice it to say, he was banned from watching the game.

I bought a Cubs NLCS Champions shirt last week and heavily debated (with myself) whether to wear it or not:

Me: “You should wear it: Cubs spirit! Let’s go!”
Me: “Ugh maybe not. Introducing new Cubs wardrobe items might jinx the whole game.”
Me: “Nah, don’t be silly.”
Me: “I don’t know…I wouldn’t want to be responsible for a Cubs loss in Game 7…”

On the other hand, I KNEW that Dylan and I needed to enjoy Portillo’s Chicago hot dogs for dinner. (They paired really well with the rum and Coke in my Cubs glassware.) No superstitions there. Or were there? I guess so.

Chicago dog

I was on the phone at the start of the game; I had scheduled a business-ish call before knowing that the Cubs would be playing in the World Series. My friend on the other end of the line is a White Sox fan so the timing didn’t bother her. (I forgive you, Steph.) While we were talking, the Cubs scored a solo home run. Jim suggested that perhaps it happened because I was on the phone and, well…

Get on the phone

About an hour and a half into the game, my friend Kori posted on Facebook: “I made myself a Bloody Mary, and the Cubs started scoring again. Coincidence? I think not. #gocubsgo”

Naturally we all encouraged her to keep drinking. (Thanks, Kori!)

Of course, what it boils down to is that the Cubs had a great night. They played so well and while Cleveland did too, the Cubs just scored more runs, plain and simple…no superstitions involved.

Side note: when Cleveland scored two runs to tie the game at 6-6, that’s when I started preparing myself for a Cubs loss and the nausea began. The near-heart attack happened in there too, and then the 17-minute rain delay nearly killed me. In the end it was a 10-inning game and the Cubs won, 8-7. I cried, shouted, screamed, and jumped around. I tweeted it, I Facebooked it, and I created the graphic (below) I had envisioned since Game 1. I will never forget this World Series, and I’m super proud of my team. Next year IS this year. Yesterday afternoon it had been 108 years since our last World Series win. Late (SO LATE) last night, all of a sudden it was zero.

Years since last world series win

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The Clock Goes Ding Dong

Clock

My in-laws are fans of clock chimes. I know this because they have a grandfather clock and two other clocks that are set up to go off in succession and not at the same time on the hour (or the half hour, or the quarter hour). The clock in the kitchen chimes in song, and there are multiple choices including Bread’s “If” (I’m certain about this one) and Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly” (I’m not certain about this one but I thought of it at the top of most hours when I was around to hear the extended version of “ding dong*”).

I had a lot of time on my hands during my last visit and was inspired to come up with this list:

Song Chimes Rejected by the Rhythm Clocks Company

1. Crying (Roy Orbison)
2. Stan (Eminem)
3. You Oughta Know (Alanis Morissette)
4. F—k tha Police (NWA)
5. The Walking Dead theme song (Bear McCreary)
6. Billy Don’t Be a Hero (Paper Lace)
7. Cat Scratch Fever (Ted Nugent)
8. Luka (Suzanne Vega)
9. Disco Duck (Rick Dees)
10. Good Bye Earl (Dixie Chicks)
11. Sexy MF (Prince)
12. Rehab (Amy Winehouse)

*I’m not a crabby, ninety-five-year-old woman in a nearly-forty-eight-year-old’s body, I promise. Also, this list amuses me on a level that borders Ridiculous. Yes, I amuse myself: I said it. Hush.

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#NaBloPoMo: 30 Days of Back to Basics

I celebrated my ninth blogging anniversary last Friday.

Well, “celebrated” isn’t entirely accurate. I literally noticed that it was the anniversary of my first post, mentioned it on Facebook, and whispered to myself, “Yay me!” That’s it.

Nine years of blogging is nothing to sneeze at, however. It’s a pretty nice accomplishment. Sure, I don’t blog nearly as much as I did in the beginning or even five years ago, but I still love to write here when I can.

NaBloPoMo 2016

November is National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo. During NaBloPoMo a bunch of us crazies make a commitment to ourselves to post something every single day. (November is also National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, in case you’re into longer form writing.) I’ve done NaBloPoMo for years, mostly successful for all thirty days each year. What I love about NaBloPoMo is that it forces me to make time for Suburban Scrawl, it forces me to think outside the box for topics, and it brings me back to basics, just practicing my creating and writing. My posts don’t have to be perfect. (My own) studies have shown that 99.9% of my NaBloPoMo posts are far from perfect and in fact, many of them are downright unsatisfactory. That’s okay, though. I love the camaraderie of NaBloPoMo. I love the increased traffic and interactions with my community, I love the time I spend writing, and I love feeling successful no matter if I do all thirty days or just knowing that I tried my best. This year I’m looking at NaBloPoMo as self care. I NEED to do this.

I’m not alone, either. I had a laugh today because in years past I have begged people to participate with me, and many of them “blame” me for their November misery. (Insert evil cackle here.) This morning I mentioned on Facebook that I’d link up anybody who’s doing NaBloPoMo in this post, and everyone crawled out of the woodwork. So, without further ado, here is a partial list in no particular order of my friends who are committing to thirty days of blogging for NaBloPoMo 2016. If you’re not listed here, leave your info in comments!

Up Popped A Fox
The Miss Elaine-ous Life
Mama Knows It All
Genie in a Blog
Arnebya
The Stable Mables
More Than Thursdays
Triple Venti
Adventures in Babywearing
Me, Myself, and Jen
Houseful of Nicholes
Stop, Drop and Blog
Nothing’s Gonna Stop Me
The Headless Family
Hysterical Mom
Tabatha, Etc.
Mari, Quite Contrary
Heather Davis
My Crafty Life
Misery Loves Cookery
Miss Lori TV
A Madison Mom
You Know Neen
Redhead Reverie
Headband For Today
Ask Dr. Ho
A Savings WOW
Little Tech Girl
Redhead Ranting
The Dusty Parachute
Two Cannoli
The Free Bird Sings
Missed Congeniality

Please support my friends and me by reading our stuff and commenting (either on the blogs or on Facebook, wherever). It fuels us, I promise. Also, if you’re participating and haven’t yet signed up over at BlogHer, do so by November 5. Four participants will be selected to win a conference pass for 2017! You can find writing prompts over there, and also make sure to check out my 2013 post on surviving and thriving during NaBloPoMo. I put enough tips in there for you to last way beyond thirty days.

NaBloPoMo Day 1? In the can.
Good luck and happy writing (and reading!), everyone!
Now GO. Make some new friends!

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Happy Halloween! Is It Over Yet?

If you only know me online and have seen that I’m an optimistic, (usually) happy-go-lucky kind of person, it might surprise you to know that I’m not a fan of holidays. In fact, complaining about holidays is one of my talents. Here’s why: holidays and all of their pomp and circumstance get in my way. They disrupt my routine, my clean(ish) house, everything. I don’t usually mind the actual day of any given holiday; what bothers me most is the period of time in advance of each holiday, time that is spent preparing and decorating and spending money for one “special” day. I have always found much more happiness and enjoyment in random days on which we happen to have some spontaneous family fun, not planned holidays.

In fact, in typing that out I even surprised myself because now that I think about it, it does seem odd for a Type A planner sort of person to enjoy the heck out of something that happens randomly or with little notice over something for which time intensive prep time is spent.

Anyway, decorating for holidays is one of my least favorite activities ever, so I hardly do it. My fourth blog post ever back in October 2007 was called “Pitiful”, and it was about my Halloween decorations. (“Decorations” isn’t even the right word.)

On the scale of how much I like or dislike holidays, with my birthday being on the most favored end (not just because it’s my birthday but also because I don’t have to do anything to prepare for it) and the entire Hanukkah/Christmas season being closer to the other end, Halloween is nearer to my birthday (in date, too!). I don’t have to decorate for it (even with pitiful things); really all I have to do is buy candy and then hand it to adorable children who show up on my front porch. My candy bowl is currently full and sitting on the kitchen counter waiting for 4:00pm, when our neighborhood’s “official” trick-or-treat hours begin.

Eager anticipation aside, I’ve been dreading today a little bit. This will be the first Halloween spent without Roxie barking her fool head off at all of the people invading her territory in between begging me to drop just one piece of candy on the floor for her so she can run off with it. This year I really missed our yearly photo session, in which she would humor me for ten minutes while I dressed her in twenty-five dollars’ worth of dog costume elements just to snap some pictures before removing all of it again, so she wouldn’t run off with clothing items in her mouth, too. (She hated wearing anything other than a simple neckerchief, and only did that on occasion.)

Halloween trick or treat

Halloween door keeper

Happy Halloween!

My favorite butterfly.

Today is also odd because I won’t have Jim here at home with me to complain about how he “hates kids” (he doesn’t) and “hates handing out candy” (he doesn’t). Answering the door on Halloween is always more fun with him around.

Halloween

halloween kids

Halloween over yet

Halloween double candy

That said, I’m not wallowing in misery, and I’m not closed off to building new traditions. Over the next couple of hours I’ll be trying to come up with one for Dylan and me to follow this afternoon that doesn’t involve handing over all of the snack-sized Almond Joys and Reece’s Peanut Butter cups to the neighborhood children while still looking extremely generous and maybe even having a little bit of fun before we start handing out double candy just so we can turn off the porch light and enjoy the rest of the evening in peace.

Whoppers and Kit Kats, anyone?

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World Series 2016: Go Cubs Go!

My very favorite baseball team is the Chicago Cubs. Actually, my very favorite team in any sport is the Chicago Cubs.

When you’re from Chicago, it’s kind of a rule that you have to pick a baseball team, because we have two. You HAVE to choose.

The Cubs or The White Sox
North Side or South Side
Red, White, and Blue or Black, White, and Silver
Wrigley Field or Comiskey Park (It’s not technically Comiskey anymore but go with it.)

The thing is, I don’t actually remember picking the Cubs; I only know that I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember.

One example of how fiercely I loved the Cubs even before I had ever seen a game or, for that matter, knew how to play baseball at all? This hat.

Go Cubs Go

I’m not sure how or when I acquired this hat, but just like my love for the team it’s been with me for as long as I can remember. When I was six or seven, a family friend repeatedly offered to give me money for it. I repeatedly turned him down.

“Twenty dollars,” he’d say. “I’ll give you twenty dollars for it. They don’t make hats like exactly that anymore.”

Back in the mid-70s, twenty dollars was a ton of money for a kid.

Each time though, I’d tell him no. “I love this hat! I’m keeping it!”

In the summer of 1980, my Cubs hat even figured into an Anne Geddes-style photo shoot with our dachshund Dapple’s two newborn puppies, Sandy and Willie.

Sandy Go Cubs Go

Willie Go Cubs Go

That hat and my Cubs love, forever.

It’s not easy being a Cubs fan. We’re so used to losing that when people talk about how badly the Cubs suck (ahem, before the current roster!), we shrug and say, “Yeah, oh well.” Head shakes and heavy sighing are customary when you’re a Cubs fan. (That said, we are THE most loyal sports fans in the universe.)

The last time we won the World Series was in 1908. The last time we were one of the two teams playing in the World Series (before this year, holla!) was 1945, seventy-one years ago. That was the year the Curse of the Billy Goat came into play. A man named William Sianis brought his goat to the game and when he was asked to leave because the goat’s odor was bothering other fans, he allegedly stated that the Cubs would never win again.

We’ve also dealt with the Bartman incident, which happened in 2003 when the Cubs were playing the Florida Marlins in Game Six of the National League Championship Series. The Cubs were ready to win their fourth game and take the series when Steve Bartman reached out in the eighth inning to grab a foul ball, disrupting a catch by Cubs player Moisés Alou and thus preventing the second out. It was all downhill from there and Steve Bartman’s life has never been the same, I’m sure.

Our mantra is “There’s always next year!”
We’re used to losing.
We’re the “Lovable Losers,” in fact.

Yet…

It’s finally next year. After the longest drought in North American sports history, we’re in the World Series. The city is going nuts. Cubs fans who are sprinkled in other areas of the country are going wild. It doesn’t even seem real. We keep pinching ourselves. Could this really be happening?

We’re playing the Cleveland Indians, another team and city who’ve been waiting an awfully long time for some glory on the world stage. It’s going to be more heartbreaking than usual for whichever team loses because we both want it so much more than those who make it every few years. (Obviously I hope that it’s the Indians and I hope their grief is short-lived, but you probably knew I felt that way.)

After Game One, when Cleveland shut us out with a 6-0 final score, I felt Cubs Nation fall back into old habits, just for a minute. There was, even though we all WANT to believe, a virtual shoulder-shrugging. We lost. Okay. Maybe this isn’t our year. But you know what? We bounced back in Game Two. Cubs fans collectively rallied and looked to this talented, young team we have now, and their amazing manager Joe Maddon; they’re teaching an entire city to truly believe. Every game doesn’t have to be won in order to succeed. Sometimes losing one game fuels the next one.

Will we win the entire series? Gosh, I hope so. I want this so, so much.
I look forward to the explosion of excitement around here should what has seemed impossible for generations actually proves to be possible.
I can’t wait for the virtual sign that says “Years since last World Series Win? ZERO.”
I’m excited to be a part of a city-wide identity crisis when we shed the “Lovable Losers” nickname and figure out where we go from there.

And if we don’t win?
Well, there’s always next year.

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The Comforts of Home

This morning, exactly two weeks to the hour after I was at O’Hare airport and getting on the plane that would take me to Jim after his cycling accident, I was at McGhee Tyson airport and getting on the plane that would take me home.

McGhee Tyson airport on my way home

In the past two weeks I covered every single emotion under the sun as I watched Jim’s condition go from only being able to speak one word at a time, having practically zero memory, and needing assistance walking to a state I would call “100% back to normal other than the residual bruises and healing wounds”. The fact that this happened at all was tragic but it could have been so much worse (believe me, I ran every scenario through my head multiple times) and when I take my customary pause on the half-full/silver lining aspect, I’d say that the whole thing really caused a refocus on what’s important and a sense of gratitude for my husband and our life as a couple that I can’t describe in words.

We still have a home in Chicago though, so once he went back to work Monday and I stayed an extra day for good measure, it was time for me to head home. I’ve been missing home, everything about it. I cried on the plane and I cried when the taxi driver dropped me off, and again when I walked in the door to see my house exactly as I left it (thanks to 24-year-old Dylan, who held down the fort).

Here’s what I did in the first thirty minutes I was home:
1. Cried
2. Dropped my bags at the door
3. Called Jim
4. Cried again
5. Opened the chest to look at the mail pile that has been growing for two weeks

Mail pile at home

6. Closed the chest and pretended like the mail pile didn’t exist
7. Grabbed my keys and drove (I missed my car so much) to grab lunch across the highway at McDonald’s
8. Put on my favorite sweatshirt and comfy pants
9. Snuggled up on the couch with my laptop, the remote, and my lunch
10. Cried again

Since I’ve been sitting here I joined a conference call, made some travel arrangements for work (Not until December, shew!), watched an episode of “This is Us”, and started this post. I haven’t left the couch once except to use the restroom.

My plan is to keep things as low key as possible (stop laughing) for the next few days. I have work to do, and it will get done, but I’m ready to bask in the enjoyment of being home and in my comfy clothes for as long as possible while I’m taking care of business. Need me? You know where to find me.

finally home

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