Posted in Birth Stories, Hippy-Dippy Stuff

How low can you go?

FOREWARD

When my son talks about Ultimate Frisbee Tournaments, my brain hears:  “So this player ran down the field and dove and caught it and then he threw it and then another player ran down the field and dove and caught it and then we scored and then the same player ran down the field again and then yada yada…”

When my husband regales me with horse stuff, I TRY to listen, but I hear this:  “A horse ran to the field and I ran after it and made it run circles until it got tired and then I went to the barn to get the other horses and they ran to the field, so I ran after them and made them run circles until they got tired…lather, rinse, repeat.”

So when I share a birth story, I’m very aware that to some of you it sounds like:  “She had a contraction, so we walked and then she had more contractions and dilated to 4 and then she had more contractions, so we walked some more and then she dilated to 5, ad infinitum.”

But I’ve got a birth story to share, and I promise it won’t sound anything like that.

INTRODUCTION
Birth Mama was only worried about two things:

  • Transporting the 40 miles to the hospital in the dead of winter, and
  • Staying calm, relaxed and peaceful. (She had been very stressed and anxious the last time, and did NOT want a repeat.)

CHAPTER ONE
The Call came just after midnight. Contractions 10-12 minutes apart, she is ready for me. I threw on clothes and hit the road, stopping only to fill my empty gas tank. Six blocks from their house, her husband calls (NEVER a good sign), “Steph, we are at 4 minutes apart, we need you now.”

Seconds later, I let myself in the side door. Hubby starts loading things into my van. I find her laboring in bed, eyes closed, internally focused. I remind myself: she wants calm, relaxed, peaceful. I rub her gently across the back, listen to her moan, and discern that contractions are MUCH closer together and we are not going to have a long, slow labor at home.

Holding her hair back and doing my best Julie Andrews’ impersonation (who once said about herself, “Sometimes I’m so sweet, even I can’t stand it.”) I whisper, “You’re doing so great we need to go on and transfer.” Inside my head, Gilbert Gottfried is shrieking, OH MY GOODNESS, THIS IS TOO FREAKIN’ FAST!!!”

The next contraction finds us squatting in the driveway. Her mom asks, “Are we going to make it to the hospital??” Calmly I smile and hear Julie Andrews say, “Most certainly we are going to make it!” (Internally, Gilbert panics, “probably not until AFTER the baby comes out, but we’ll definitely make it!”)

Now the 40-minute drive…and though I could drive crazy fast and get us there in 30, there is a laboring woman on her knees in the place of my center console, so safety has to take precedence.

Through all of this, I am pretending to be cool as a cucumber. Driving 80 mph, talking over my shoulder in my best Mary Poppins voice, “You are doing such a great job! Practically perfect in every way. Take a deep breath through your nose and blow it slowly out your mouth. Goooooood.”

With every mile, contractions are growing more intense, and suddenly she responds to one of them with a screeching dolphin-call. I speak in a soft, low tone, and quite possibly with a British accent, “Remember what we talked about. Keep your throat relaxed. Bring your voice down low. Moan it out. Remember: LOW.

From the floor behind me I sense the beginning of the next contraction…her throat tightening, her shoulders rising, her voice starting to squeak with the pain…and the next moment I will forever remember as one of my Favorite Things (“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and labor contractions…”) She brings her dolphin screech down to a deep Darth Vader growl, and for the next 45 seconds I hear, “low low low low low low low low low low low low…” as she literally chants the word “low” through the entire contraction!

Now I become a living GPS, with a slow, lilting voice.

julie andrews (2)“Only 10 more minutes and we’ll be there.”

“Three more contractions and we’ll be at the door.”

“Just a spoonful of sugar and the baby will be out.”

Maneuvering the parking lot like Speed Racer, swerving around parked cars and cigarette-smoking nurses, I zip to the front door, jump out and grab a wheelchair. After some chair-not-working-and-what-do-we-do-about-the-bags confusion, the four of us glide through the deserted hospital corridor, up the elevator and into Labor and Delivery.

It is 2:02 a.m.

“We’re here to birth a baby,” my Julie Andrews voice tells the desk nurse.  And even though we are pre-registered, the nurse asks for insurance cards and social security numbers and due date and Groupon Coupons, and a request for laboring mama to get on the scales.

Clearly, they are not understanding, so Gilbert makes an appearance outside of my brain, “Ladies! THIRD baby here! Doesn’t matter what she weighs as she will weigh 14 pounds less in a very few minutes! We need a room STAT!”  (I try to speak their language, you know). 

Finally sensing the urgency, one of them calls, “Room 4!” and in we go. Birthing mama stands up out of the wheelchair and grabs the bed as I instinctively take my place behind her. A splash hits my shins and runs into my shoes. “My water broke! My water just broke!” Why, yes, yes it did.

She lays down as we get her lower half undressed, feet still dangling off the bed. Dr. M. commands, “Let’s get you all the way up in the bed.” Before hubby and I can even get the head of the bed raised, one nurse is trying to get her shirt off, because apparently it’s critical that she wear pale blue cotton to push out a human. Another nurse is trying to velcro straps around her belly.  Seriously?

I politely ask them to “get real”, just as she is hit with one MASSIVE contraction – her feet and head on the bed, the rest of her body imitating the St. Louis arch. gilbertShe looks wide-eyed at me and declares,“I’m on my back! I’m on my back! I don’t want to be on my back!”  I understand completely, and assure her as SOON as this contraction is over, we’ll get into a better position. Before I finish my sentence, Dr. M. announces, “We’re crowning and…yes……..THERE she is!”

And Gilbert Gottfried screams, “WHAT THE…???”

Posted in Parenting, Quirks and Other Weirdness

Not the half of it…

15330641I was trying on a pair of strappy ankle boots the other day, which, of course, I will never buy because of the whole, you know, “legs like tree trunks” thing. Anyway, as I was trying them on, pretending to be tall and graceful, it occurred to me:
Women’s shoes begin at size 4 and progress by half sizes.

WHY??

Please tell me what’s wrong with consecutive Arabic numerals? Why the “half” sizes?  Why could they not begin at ONE and proceed to two, three, four, and so on? Whose asinine idea was it to require the use of fractions and decimals when purchasing footwear? (Probably the same genius who established a mile at 5,280 feet, or a pound at 16 ounces. Or maybe it was the gy who decided to say “numeral” instead of “numberal”.)

As I was mentally trying to figure out what my hypothetical shoe size would be if adult shoes began at size 1 and progressed upward by whole numbers, I overheard a conversation between a mom and her preschooler.  The child was repeatedly kicking the angled shoe-mirror at the end of the aisle with her black patent-leathers.
“Bailey, stop kicking the mirror. Bailey, I mean it. Stop. Do you want to go to the car? I’m going to count to three, Bailey. One. Two. Two-and-a-half…”

3-stepsAnd…there we go.

 

Posted in Just Funny, Parenting, Starting Over

the name game

At the age of 46, I became a grandmother. I don’t know how it happened.

I mean, I’m not stupid.  I know HOW it happened, I just don’t know WHAT happened.     To my life, that is. Where’d it go so fast?

The worst part of the grandmother gig was The Name Change.

See, I like my name: Stephanie. Steph to those who are close. I like my identity: Mom. Mommy, even still on occasion, to both my grown children. I’m a natural at the mom thing. It fits me. But this “G” word thing…ohhhhh, not so much. It SOUNDS old. It FEELS old. And I have to live with this stupid grandmother name for the rest of my natural-born life (which may be spent in the state pen for strangling my son with his own tongue if he refers to me as “MeeMahw” one more time.)

I am so not kidding.

As far as I’m concerned, if you insist on calling me any variation of the “G” word, just go ahead and put me in an Alfred Dunner blouse, pull my hair back in a bun, and plant me in a pine box. That’s all she wrote. It’s over and done. The fat lady has sung.

I needed a cool, or at least creative, name.

Not TOO creative, mind you. I’ve run across my fair share of monikers like Granny Grunt, Big Momma, Gunkie, Cookie, Cherry, Sweetums, Cracker, Chicken Nana and Butter Butt. Seriously?!

So I embarked on a 6-month quest to ascertain an alias. As Thomas Edison might have said, “I did not fail. I just found 10,000 names that wouldn’t work.” At least not for me.

Right off the bat, I eliminated the names already in use in my family: Nana, Granny, Grandmama, MaMa, etc.

I also ruled out Grand-MaMa as I don’t have the appropriate jewels to be a Dowager Countess.

MaMaw, MeMaw and GeeMaw all sound too much like HeeHaw. YeeHaw.

Gams – not exactly well-suited for a gal with tree trunk legs.

I thought there might be potential within the international community:
Ya-Ya (Greek) – but I’m not a Sisterhood, nor do I have any Divine Secrets. 

Lola (Philippino) – she was a showgirl, you know, with yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to THERE. But I don’t Merengue or do the ChaCha.

And then there was the Yiddish Bube.  Boobie?

Speaking of boobies (Did I REALLY just use the word “boobies” in my blog?), the cowboy thought I should be ChiChi, which is a Spanish euphemism for breasts. Frankly, I always have cleavage issues, even in a turtleneck, so my g-mother name shouldn’t further the focus.

DeeDee can be a grandmother name, but double D’s brought us back to the boobie thing, so no. 

MPViaI kinda liked the concept of Diva or Goddess, but there’s no way my kids would have EVER let me get away with those. At least not without an ironic tiara.

One of the kids at church always greeted me with “Hello, Gorgeous!” I kinda liked THAT.

And “Hot Granny” was offered as a choice, but who are we kidding here? That is the ultimate oxymoron. If you don’t believe me, google at your own risk.  

Frankly, I just like “Stephie“. It’s what my niece and nephew have always called me, but I was told that using my real name would sound disrespectful out of the mouths of babes.  Ugh. The quest continued.  

As Kacey and I were driving around discussing my dilemma, she said my new name should be cute and cool, but be something that’s NOT my real name.

Fine.

After analyzing all the data, I decided on the perfect grandmother name. It’s cute and cool and NOT my real name…

Veronica.

Posted in Starting Over

50 shades of concrete

It began as a convenience store – a Minit Mart or 7-Eleven maybe… I forget, but you know the building I’m talking about. For several years they were successful selling gas, cigarettes and Big Swigs before they moved closer to the interstate and abandoned this structure.  After a while, a talented burger-flipper thought he could turn the empty building into a lucrative greasy spoon, but he was wrong. The concrete blocks were soon vacant again.  More time passed and an up-and-coming chiropractor painted the exterior a dark shade of gray (“Rain Dance” to be specific), put a couple of topiaries by the front entrance, and opened up her practice.  Eventually, however, she upgraded, leaving the building abandoned once more. For exactly 73 days, a local dude transformed it into a pool hall.  A few months after the pool hall endeavor, the left side opened as a Tanning Salon, while the right side converted to the Second Church of Holiness Prayer Center.  Kind of a “Body & Soul” joint venture, you might say. Eventually a hippie chick came along, painted aliens and spaceships on the ceiling-to-ground window and attempted a consignment store she called “Clothes Encounters of the Second-Hand Kind”, which again turned out to be a mistake, as almost all thrift stores are. It seems like, one summer, the place might have even been a burrito joint.  Who can remember, really? The point is, in-between each ending and the subsequent beginning, the building sat empty and abandoned, looking increasingly world-weary, waiting to either collapse or find its niche.

At this point in the blog, my brain has wandered into some sort of middle-aged commencement speech, and I am thinking how much this Building of Perpetual Beginnings and Endings represents my life, each business undertaking a different phase of life – some successful, some not so much. Always doing my part to be accommodating, generous, 50 shades of concrete (2)compliant.  Always doing my part to suit the needs of whatever came next. Each in-between phase leaving me hollow and lonely, looking for occupation and purpose.  Waiting for things to happen. Hoping for things to work out. Waiting. Hoping. Waiting and hoping.

Wait a minute….WHAT???

DID I JUST COMPARE MYSELF TO A CONCRETE BLOCK BUILDING????  Well…that DOES appear to be the metaphor I was going for 23 minutes ago, but now there’s this alarm going off inside my head. And not one of those twinkle-ding-dong alarms that awakens you gently to a dewy sunrise. This is one of those “TAKE COVER, SHE’S GONNA BLOW!” Emergency Alert System Warnings. Exactly when did this disaster occur??? How did I get here??? When did I decide to allow people to walk all over me, take from me and not give in return, use me as a pawn in their self-esteem games?  When did I become the passive voice in my own story?

50 shadesDarn it, I am SO not as mundane or prosaic as a lifeless rectangle of concrete blocks.  (A colorful Duplo castle, possibly. A mosaic tile window, maybe.)  A gray concrete block convenience store?  Not on your life.

At least, not anymore.

At some point I started settling for less than “me”. Somewhere along the line I allowed generous, helpful, patient and funny to morph into subservient, conforming, peacekeeping and sarcastic.  I became someone who waits and wishes instead of someone who imagines and creates. I allowed myself to become a martyr and a victim. I can’t even put my finger on when this spiral started, but I can certainly pinpoint exactly when I knew I couldn’t survive in Kansas anymore.  And while the ending of “what was” has been devastating, and this new beginning is more than a little terrifying (think “Twister” where Helen Hunt watches her life torn apart by an F4), the reality is there is a fresh start emerging from the aftermath, and – with a great sigh of relief –  it is all mine.

I’m no longer passively wishing and hoping for change…the storms of the last few years have left the concrete building in ruins, and what few gray blocks were left standing I kicked over into the pile of rubble with my own two feet.  This next adventure is my own. I don’t know how long it will last, but I hope the whole time.

 

The End

or rather … The Beginning

Posted in Minimalism, Quirks and Other Weirdness

Desperately Seeking Simplicity

elfilm.com-the-jerk-302431“I don’t need this stuff…I don’t need anything except this ashtray. That’s it. And this paddle game. The ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need. And this remote control. The ashtray, the paddle game and the remote control, and that’s all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, and these matches, and the remote control and the paddle game. And this lamp. The ashtray, this paddle game and the remote control and the lamp and that’s all I need. I don’t need one other thing, not one – I need this! And this! And that’s all I need. The ashtray, the remote control, the paddle game, this magazine and the chair.”

Sitting barefoot under a tree on this serenely gorgeous September afternoon, I should be content to just be. But I can’t get my mind off all the stuff.  The stuff in the house. The stuff in the garage.  The stuff in the barn. The stuff in the other house. (Yes, we just bought a 2nd house). The stuff in the other garage. The stuff in the other barn. The stuff in the cabinets and closets and boxes and drawers.  

This is not the first time I’ve proclaimed this, but
I AM SO TIRED OF ALL THE STUFF.

I don’t deal well with clutter – physical or mental. Disorder and chaos make me feel overwhelmed and out of control. Truthfully, the “Where’s Waldo?” books even kinda stress me out. I spent the first half 5706126657_cca84635bdof my adult life wanting and wishing I had more; a bigger house, nicer car, more shoes, and an endless supply of essential throw pillows.  But now all I want is less. It’s not exactly the Amurican Dream, but collecting and cleaning and organizing useless junk is not how I want to spend the remaining 301,128 hours of my life (give or take a few).  

I’ve been on this journey of simplifying for about 4 years; unfortunately most of it has been verbal. I talk a good game. I get on a kick and clean out a couple of closets, haul it off to Goodwill/consignment/the dump, but to be honest, I haven’t made notable progress.  I continually bring more in than I remove.  The closets are overflowing, the utility is packed, and there is such a quantity of food in the house we could survive the apocalypse by bartering frozen okra and jars of salsa.

minimalism-empty-shelf (2)Do the cowboy and I really NEED 16 towels and 32 washcloths? What about the collection of coffee mugs in the cabinet or the accumulation of boots by the garage door?  Does every flat surface in the house have to be “decorated” with lamps and vases and picture frames? And have we EVER used the pickle fork that came with the flatware?

My makeup bag contains no fewer than 27 cosmetic items, when I’m certain paring down to 8 items would achieve the same underwhelming morning makeover. I have an entire drawer devoted to hoarding nail polish and Jamberry stickers, and I haven’t done my nails since April.  And don’t even get me started on the clothes (the ones that fit now, the ones the optimist in me hopes to wear, and the ones the pessimist in me is afraid to let go of)…and shoes…and bags…and oh my goodness, the jewelry.

Why do we feel the need to possess 207 dvds when we have Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime and a library card?  For that matter, why do we have Netflix and Hulu and Amazon Prime when we hardly ever watch tv? And can I confess the only reason I stockpile books is because smart people have books and I want you to think I’m smart even if I never intend to read most of those books again???

ZZ08EBF772I may not have the body of a minimalist, but I sure have a frustrated one living in my brain. One who needs to go home and start decluttering. Again. But it’s so much nicer spending this afternoon lounging under a tree, soaking up the 72° weather, and pinning dozens and dozens of great ideas to my “Minimalism” board on Pinterest.  

Yes, I get the irony.

Posted in Just Funny, Minimalism, Parenting

Jeep Thrills

Amazon gives it 5 stars.

I know, because I read the reviews. Hundreds of satisfied customers raving about the quality of this toy – the speed, the size, the durability. Important details to know when purchasing a $300 ride-on Fisher-Price Jeep for your favorite 5-year-old.

The biggest perk in all of those reviews, is that not one of them mentioned the phrase “some assembly required”. WHOO HOO!

I say “whoo hoo” because I am not a woman with skillz.  With a world population of 7.125 billion, my mechanical competency ranks near the bottom, only slightly higher than community college philosophy majors.  Seriously. Just getting my lipstick to roll up and down without breaking off is a pretty big deal for me.  

So when this package arrived, it was in a box.  A box.  And not the jumbo kind you might see on The Price is Right where they drop open one side to reveal an assembly-line-fully-manufactured 3-dimensional vehicle, but a FLAT box that could contain, oh say, a chalkboard . I felt a stabbing pain shoot down my left arm.  I consoled myself, “It might not be so bad.  Maybe it’s just a matter of slipping on a couple sets of wheels and popping up the roll-bar. Yeah, I’m sure that’s it.”


And with that, I drove to my daughter’s house where this little Jeep would find its new home.  She met me at the garage door.  When I opened the back end of the van, 
she mumbled something nondescript and ispygave me that look.
You know… the one that says,

“What have you done, woman???”  
We proceeded to unpack the box. Once we had all 169 parts – please don’t skip over that number – ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-NINE PARTS scattered across the garage floor, it looked like an impossible page from “I Spy Extreme”.

3952b87d8faaba39d9b9d78607b71c4cThe Fisher-Price
I knew and loved
as a child
had just become
my mortal enemy.

I reached for the manual.  Kacey immediately swiped it from my hands.  “Oh no you don’t.  We both know what happens when you try to read instructions. Just sit down and look cute.”  She reconsidered. “On second thought, go to the kitchen and and get a screwdriver.  You DO KNOW what a Phillips head is, don’t you??”

Do I know what a Phillips head is?  It’s a crosshead screwdriver named after Henry Frank Phillips of Portland, Oregon, but actually invented by John P. Thompson who sold his self-centering screw design to Phillips in 1935.  Duh. Do I know what a Phillips head is.  Then I mumbled something motherly like, “I’ll Phillips your head” and went to retrieve the tools.

I unwrapped parts and handed her pieces and made up cheers as she moved through the  42-step instruction manual for the next hour. I even pre-assembled smaller parts that she would, of course, later have to disassemble.  During the dashboard installation she discovered a working radio that plays songs from Disney’s “Frozen”. She mumbled curses my direction and sent me away to fetch food and coffee.

After Step 16, Kacey had a conference call for work, so I decided to try my hand at connecting the pieces. She glared at me over her reading glasses,
skepticism oozing from her eyeballs, screw (2)but I stated emphatically,

“I CAN screw things!”

“Oh…that’s what SHE said,” she grinned mischievously.

I managed the hood, doors, hinges, steering column, wheel, and even the seats before she rejoined me.  I was patting myself on the back when she found a leftover pin. After backtracking the steps, seems I had neglected to install said pin in the steering wheel mount.  So while she undid what I had wrong-did, I flipped ahead to the final few pages of the manual.  “Hey! Don’t read ahead and spoil the ending!” she teased.  I told her I found no intrigue in this tragic saga, and just wanted to see how many more pages I had to endure.  With that, she threw a sheet of 44 decals at me and said, “Shu-up and put on stickers.”

jeepThree-and-a-half hours from start gun to finish line, and the 12-volt battery-powered 5-star-rated Fisher-Price Frozen Jeep Wrangler, suitable for children ages 5-8, was complete and ready for the birthday girl.  

But for Christmas, that kid is getting socks.

Posted in Down on the Farm, Just Funny, Minimalism

Holy Cow, Batman

The cow. Got out.

Repeat after me: Green Acres is NOT the place to be. Farm living is NOT the life for me.

My husband, the cowboy, was out of town. WAY out of town, buying a registered quarter horse, because… you know… we didn’t have one yet.

I was hosting something we called “Friday Night Hangout”, where a bunch of high school kids would come over to the house on Friday Nights to – you guessed it – hang out.

And since the cow (affectionately known as “Patty”) was a relatively new phenomenon at Reynolds Ranch, the kiddos wanted to go out and see her.

And, apparently, pet her.

The problem: She is a COW. She does not wish to be petted. She wants to be left alone. The kids approached her. She backed away. They moved closer. She ran in circles. They continued to advance. She disengaged her hindquarters (which, in the animal world, has something to do with submission. In marriage, however, it has an entirely different meaning…but that’s another blog altogether.)

Patty tried to dissuade them from petting her. She spoke to them in Bovinese:
“Children, lovely children… I do not wish to be touched.
I do not wish for you to come closer. I prefer that you not force me to…”

Then she squealed some sad-sounding cow scream, bolted to the north, and jumped a 4-foot chain link fence, yes she did.

Kevin immediately ran into the house to inform me of the Cattle Coup, and I instantly did what city people do in a farm emergency: I made some phone calls. After many calls to multiple sources all giving me the same ludicrous advice (“just go find her and herd her home”), I did the other thing city people do in an emergency: drive.  I put on my 2 1/2″ black wedge sandals, and took the car up the road, all the while muttering to myself as to why I wasn’t living somewhere – anywhere – that didn’t offer a view of manure-freckled hay fields.

I found Patty a few tenths of a mile west in a neighbor’s side yard. I parked the car, got out and walked toward her, wondering exactly how one persuades a cow to go home. She just stood there. So I waved my arms (hoping to scare her back the direction of the house). She waved back. I stared at her. She stared at me.

We stood there
Just staring,
We stood there
We two.
And I said,
“Oh, I wish
I knew how
to speak Moo.”

And since Dr. Seuss rhymes seemed ineffective as a herding tool, I went back to the house to herd the kids up to the cow. Kevin drove up in a second car.

I was now finally able to reach the cowboy by phone. Though he was 320 miles from our house, I felt it imperative that he know what was going on.
“COW JUST GOT OUT!” I yelled.
“How are the trout???” he queried.
“THE COW HAS GOTTEN OUT!” I yelled again.
“The power has gone out?” he asked, confused.
“NO NO…YOUR STUPID STUPID COW HAS JUMPED THE FENCE AND RUN OFF!!!!”
I declared in no uncertain terms.

“Then go find her and herd her back home,”
he responded calmly.

Ohhhhh . . . this ticked me off.

“Well, honey,” he asked sweetly, “What do you want me to do?”

What do I want you to do? WHAT DO I WANT YOU TO DO???

WELL, FIRST OF ALL, I WANT YOU TO PANIC WITH ME, DOGGONE IT, BECAUSE FREAKING OUT MAKES THINGS SO MUCH MORE MANAGEABLE.  AND SECONDLY, I WANT YOU TO GIVE ME THE STINKIN’ CODE TO THE COW SIGNAL YOU HIDE OUT THERE IN THE BARN SO I CAN SUMMON SUPERHERO ‘SADDLE BOY’ TO COME RESCUE ME! THAT’S WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO!!!

So, basically, I hung up on him, somewhat angry and incredibly frustrated that this Big Dumb Future Shish-ka-Bob was going to make a beeline for the interstate and cause a 7 car pileup resulting in death, dismemberment and a really big e’splosion, and I would be responsible.

I went back up the road and found Kevin driving his car through somebody’s backyard and a conga-line of kids dancing in circles and flailing their arms. Patty darted left, then darted right, and eluded them. We lost her again, and since it was nearing dark, it was becoming virtually impossible to locate a black cow in the country.

Thankfully, a couple of cowboy superheroes-in-training had been viewing our slapstick routine, and came out to join in the chase about the time Patty reappeared on a side road. After another half hour and a 9-person team of rodeo clowns, we managed to herd her into somebody else’s field, via somebody else’s gate, where she joined a herd of somebody else’s cattle.

Our Friday Night High School Hangouts included a lot of weirdness: playing “Murder”; having finger-dart wars; heckling bad movies; playing Hide & Seek at night, and glow-in-the-dark ultimate Frisbee. This, however, was a whole new experience. Just as I wondered what they would tell their parents, Erin answered the question for me: “This was the MOST FUN Friday Night Hangout . . . EVER!!!”

For those of you who are concerned about the cow, the answer is “no”, Patty never made her way onto our dinner table…

but have you seen my new black leather boots?