Zookeeper of the Day

Greetings!

It’s been busy up in this piece. Just a quick update to fill you in on the goings-on:

1) Flash is still buried in the backyard. RIP, Buddy.

2) Dylan‘s football team won the City Championship this season!! Usually, the Honey Badger was playing in the dirt at the games, but here is a picture of her in the stands:

Honey Badger watches a playoff game.

Honey Badger watches a 5th grade football playoff game. She LOVES watching her brother play football.

3) I was so excited to take the Honey Badger to her natural (faux) habitat: The Zoo. Contrary to popular belief, at least around here, it’s not open on Mondays during November. Now, I don’t normally run out and buy my kids something if they are disappointed, AT ALL, but it was in it’s room sobbing it’s eyes out because I lied to it about going to the zoo. We put tights and a skirt on, and everything. I felt sooooo bad. So, I threw out the Disney Store as an alternative! HB didn’t flinch. She said she didn’t want to go, but I don’t think she knew how magical it could be. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that Disney doesn’t make dreams come true.

They asked HB why she was in the store today. I explained that I broke her heart, and she thought she was going to the zoo. This Manager engaged HB and said she needed help naming some animals. HB, naturally, got all of them correct.

They asked HB why she was in the store today. I explained that I broke her heart, and she thought she was going to the zoo. This manager engaged HB and said she needed help naming some animals. HB, naturally, got all of them correct. The manager was so “impressed” with her animal naming skills, that they named her the “Zoo Keeper of the Day” and presented her with a gift certificate and a crown.

A very pleased Zoo Keeper of the Day, along with her certificate and crown.

A very pleased Zoo Keeper of the Day, along with her certificate and crown.

But, let's not ruin the moment by actually admitting we had a good time.

But, let’s not ruin the moment by actually admitting we had a good time.

4) Mr. Dylan had to get some new photos taken, and I will post them below. He and I ended up on an episode of Parks & Recreation, that will be airing on Nov. 21st. I hesitate to even admit this, because I haven’t gone Vegan yet, or even vegetarian, so I am pretty sure I am going to be kind of a fatass in the episode, but we’ll see. VEGAN 2014! (New motto). Just watch “Forks Over Knives” and you will understand.

DYLANDylan2Dylan3Dylan4

5.) Lastly, I don’t normally run out and buy my kids something for being good. I know, I know. #3 was well warranted, but damn if this one wasn’t WAY more warranted. So, yesterday, I had to drive 30 minutes south for an appointment.  This was a couple I had seen before, and they carved time out of their busy week to meet with me. The problem was, I had to bring HB to the sales appointment with me, unexpectedlyMy plea was not overkill, but simple in nature: “I will promise you the world, and all of Meijer, Target, and Walmart COMBINED, if you remain quiet the WHOLE time and do not ask Mommy a single question. NOT ONE QUESTION.”  Ok, so in reality, I promised “ONE” item to pick out if she did not interrupt my very important sales meeting. 

Here’s how it went:

Oh, did I mention my sales manager was meeting me there because I asked her to support me in this very important endeavor?

They answer the door –  “Oh, Hi! I just brought my whole entourage here (hee hee)…this little one was a last minute addition!”

I go to set HB up on the floor with a blanket, library books, a doll, and lots of doll clothes (that I gave her the day before – I found them in the basement….my own doll clothes from when I was little….)

Anyway, set her up and…….

TWO HOURS LATER…

It never said a single word. 

I could have cried. I did, in fact, as I carried her to the car, with 3 completed applications for business, 3 checks, and all her stuff that she spread all over their living room floor. She played incredibly quietly until she fell asleep on top of her library books. She broke my heart again, as my children do repeatedly, only because I can’t fathom how they could treat me this way. How could she have known, that today of ALL days, I needed her to be as responsible and absolutely perfect as possible?

So, I promised her something. And, she didn’t forget. She picked out a Barbie makeup kit for $9.99, and she and her Daddy dived into it as soon as possible last night:

20131111_195922 20131111_195917

But, of course, today is another story.

– HB had bath.

-HB got dressed.

-HB insisted on doing makeup on my face before she went to school. Ok, no problem.

-HB always has another plan. She wants to paint her face as a kitty cat before she goes to school.

-HB wins.

"Erin, you cannot wear makeup to school." "Wellllllllllll, Odette wears makeup all the time and paints her face all the time." "Oh, reallllllllllly."

“Erin, you cannot wear makeup to school.”
“Wellllllllllll, Odette wears makeup all the time and paints her face all the time.”
“Oh, reallllllllllly.”

As usual, HB wins.

As usual, HB wins.

Famous last words, as she walks out of the house to go to school.

“MEOOOOW!!”

“I’m Gary.”

Compassionate Creatures

Have you ever had one of those days where things were just hitting you from every direction, all at one time? Normally, I tend to take things in stride;  If I have a missile fired at me, I may be a bit wounded, but I dust myself off and carry on.

Yesterday, was one of “those days” where everything kind of comes at you at once- physically and mentally. My brain could only handle “INCOMING!!!” so many times. Call it a meltdown, call it just being spent, or call it what my mother would call it, “The Change” (too early, Mom!).  Whatever it was, it consisted of many tears streaming down my face, and my children not really sure how to handle me because they don’t normally see me this way. In fact, they never see me this way, so they had no idea what to make of it. So, given the spontaneous creatures they are, they simply sprung into action.

Here’s how it went:

  • Tons of hugs from the both of them. PRETTY AWESOME.
  • Dylan : Threw together a “Snack Bowl” consisting of Annie‘s pretzels, cheddar rabbits, yogurt, applesauce, and a kid’s drink. He promptly brought it to me, as if I was starving for snacks. Even though I was the opposite of hungry, DEFINITELY AWESOME.
  • Honey Badger: She made beautiful pictures of an Invisible Car, and a Spider Web. I’m not sure I would have guessed each of those on the first try, except Dylan labeled them in cursive. 🙂 DEFINITELY AWESOME.
  • While I’m “eating” (pretending to enjoy, rather) my snack, Dylan disappeared to his room and wasn’t to be heard from for at least 15 minutes. Hmmm, I’m a little curious.
  • During those 15 minutes, HB ran circles around me – from the kitchen, family room, and dining room, it’s a perfect oval for children to run. In her case, she KNEW it would make me feel better if she ran that course, chucked the Twister “board” at my feet, continued on, and then chucked the Twister Spinner board at my leg. It definitely made me feel kinda better. On her final lap, she dumped “Baby” in my lap. I was pretty verklempt at that point.

By this point, my tears had dried up, and I was thinking that, as usual, my kids were pretty amazing.  I got up to go to the other room. and Dylan stopped me in the hallway. He was genuflecting, Tebow style, head down with something on his palm lifted up to me: He made me my very own Rainbow Loom bracelet.

Man.

That was pretty strong. I gave him a giant hug, because I thought it was so sweet. He grinned at me, because he knew I loved the bracelet, and I grinned back.

BUT.

The Honey Badger witnessed my embrace with Dylan.  All of a sudden, she let loose a gut-wrenching cry, and ran out into the family room with her arms covering her eyes in disgust and sobbed:

“I was going to make Mommy a bracelet, BUT SHE’S NOT CRYING ANYMORE!!!!!!!!” and the heaves and heaves of sobbing that went along with this was so very sad. Oh, man. I tried to talk some sense into her. IT HAS NO SENSE!

MOMMY ISN’T CRYING ANYMORE, SO I DON’T GET TO MAKE HER A BRACELET!!!!!”

Sean walks in the door:  “I was going to make Mommy a bracelet, BUT SHE’S NOT CRYING ANYMORE!!!!!

Dylan tried to comfort her and offer some ideas.  She cut him off:    “MOMMY ISN’T CRYING ANYMORE, SO I DON’T GET TO MAKE HER A BRACELET!!!!!”

Oh, man. I am NEVER crying in front of the kids again.

It’s hard out there for a Honey Badger.

Knowledge is Power

Hey there.

I truly didn’t mean for nearly 4 months to go by before my next post. I feel like I’m in the confessional booth: “Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.  It’s been 4 months since my last blog post.” It’s been quite the ride recently. I completely changed careers, for the better, after realizing some things (or people, rather) just weren’t at all what they were cracked up to be. An opportunity presented itself, and I took a leap of faith.  After tons of studying for weeks around the clock, I passed the state licensing Health & Life Insurance exam and was certified to sell insurance in the state I reside. I work for an incredible company that sells insurance to school teachers and their families  – both retired and working, and also to retired public employees. I LOVE WHAT I DO. I am making a huge difference in people’s lives because of the policies I sell. I do everything from Medicare Supplements to Cancer Insurance (NOT a gimmick, as I have witnessed with my own eyes), Long Term Care Insurance (EXTREMELY important), Whole Life Insurance, Annuities, etc.  More importantly, the rates are extremely affordable as they are endorsed by a state association, and they are group negotiated rates. Anyway, long story short, I’ve been sorta wrapped up in my new career. And, that meant one huge issue: I was no longer working from home, as I did the last two years. So, we had to figure out what to do with the Honey Badger.

Well, I heard somewhere that knowledge is power.

So, we sent It to school.

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I am all for The Uniform. I think kids look much better and ready to learn when they are all tucked in, and nicely, uniformly dressed. However, you cannot cloak the Honey Badger entirely. She wore her vibrantly mismatched shoes, and flashed her lovely, little painted nails (each a different color). She displayed her beautiful feathers in a subtle, yet ingenious, way. Despite her flair, she was all business when she walked through the door. It’s been 5 weeks since she started, and she now owns the place.

Aside from the Honey Badger, we’ve had some other animal issues at hand. Flash, the PTSD hamster, kicked the bucket. He called it quits after a year in our home. When the Honey Badger turned 4, she received her very own hamster to torture play with. Her hamster is male, and she named him: Emily. We firmly believe that hamster fighting is not a sport, and we do not support it. But, sometimes things went on behind the couch that we weren’t necessarily paying close attention to, and hamster races/ homemade mazes / homemade hamster ramps might have been a couple of those things. We are saddened to deliver the news that Flash is sleeping with the fishes, but we want you to know that he is DEFINITELY in a much better place now.

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(He’s in this box, wrapped up in a Foot Locker bag [because “he liked sports”, said Dylan] taking a permanent dirt nap in our back yard. Yes, he’s in a better place, for sure. RIP, Flash. Hang in there, Emily.)

Ok, moving on. What else have we been up to? Oh, yeah! YOGA. Not just your Momma’s yoga, but DDP YOGA. We are doing the hell out of it, or trying to, anyway. We decided to take some pics of ourselves pre-workout. Don’t be jealous. It’s just that, we were really feeling it with our bandanas. We were channeling our inner Flash Dance. We ALWAYS wear bandanas when we do yoga. And, then we high five after the “Diamond Cutter” exhalation and a “BAM!” to the ground with our palms. The couple that does yoga together stays together!

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So we’ve had a major job change (oh, for my husband as well. He got a promotion, which meant completely new job responsibilities and learning curve), death of a beloved hamster, fitness regiment ignited, and two significant words that nine tenths of the population would understand : 

Breaking Bad.

We signed up for the free Netflix temp membership and dedicated ourselves to watching Seasons 1-5 of “BB” in a mere 30 days, so that we could get caught up with the rest of society for the Series Finale next Sunday. We came to the end of the free Season 5 episodes last night, but there are 8 more that we must watch to catch up, which aren’t easily accessible. We frantically Googled to see where we could stream them for free. If you were to bottle Breaking Bad and inject it directly into our veins, we would have breathed a sigh of relief last night. Instead, we connected my laptop to the flat screen TV and watched a choppy, crappy version of the next episode in the last series.

That’s all I will say about that, because I respect the silence and abhor the spoilers. But, it’s been a lot of sacrificing to get caught up, and a lot of serious dedication. A LOT. We feel we’ve come very far.

Lastly, I had a bit of a running list of some of the best Honey Badger quotes. I will leave you with some, not all, of those, as well as a promise to pick this thing back up and keep it running.

HONEY BADGER QUOTES

“Hey! I don’t hear that smell anymore!”

Erin, someday you’ll grow up and marry a nice man like your Daddy. “Then I’ll get my baby?!”

(Loudly, as in disbelief) “DO YOU KNOW WHAT FREEZING HOT MEANS?” No, I don’t. Please tell me. “IT MEANS IT’S FREEZING IN SPANISH!!!!!”

“I don’t like church. Why don’t you just take Daddy, and Grandma can babysit us.”

Erin, you feel warm. “I do? How come I?”

“Can I use scissors? I PROMISE I won’t cut my hair.”

From the backseat, while I’m driving: “Daddy’s awesome, right?” Yes, he sure is.  “He’s much more awesomer than you, right?!”

As always, thanks for reading.

Who Am I? What Have I Done?

What do you do when you have been laid up for awhile, can’t really carry a cup of coffee for the life of you, and every step is agony, but then you start to feel SO MUCH BETTER? Well, you would load your minivan up with a half ton of rock and haul it piece by piece to your backyard to create a majestic wonderment, of  course!

Two weeks ago, I got a crazy idea in my head and it wouldn’t go away. Our behemoth, 4-burner gas grill was just a giant stainless steel shell, whose innards had basically disintegrated. We used eBay and Amazon to replace the parts, only to find that we were spending more than if we just bought a new one outright.  Not to mention, we had my husband’s charcoal grill from his bachelor days waiting in the wings, but we got that sucker going and our chicken is still stuck to the grates (from about 9 days ago), womp womp.

We returned the gas grill parts, shoved the behemoth gas and pathetic bachelor grills to the corner, and I headed to Lowe’s with these two yahoos to purchase a brand new grill:

THE GRILL 933 start

Reading Grill Cookbooks while I “grill” (HAHAHAHA) the salesmen and “pepper” them with questions.

We settled on a Weber grill. More bang for the buck. Plus, I talked them into giving me 8% off, in addition to my husband’s 10% Veteran’s discount. I had big plans for this grill of ours, so I wanted something that was going to last.

Next, I watched YouTube videos and Googled incessantly.

I took a “Before” shot. I wasn’t totally convinced there would be an “After” shot by the time I would likely hose up my own plan, but you must always have hope.

THE GRILL 935 before

Before. So boring.

Speaking of “Plan”, I made an actual drawing of my “Plans”. My first ever, official Plans that I created out of my own head…and executed!

SERIOUS PLANS!!

SERIOUS PLANS!! These might be the most serious plans you’ve ever seen. View them wisely. Seriously.

Now, comes the moment of truth. I can’t do this by myself. I couldn’t count on my husband (he was too busy making kick-ass dinners). I only had these two to REALLY lead the way:

THE GRILL 952 erin lowes THE GRILL 942 dylan1

I said, “Guys, will you please stop being so silly and please just act like your normal selves?” And, finally (thankfully) they did:

THE GRILL 953erinnn

THE GRILL 944 dylan2Alright, so my boy just provides love and support, but the Honey Badger has REALLY got to get in there and HELP – in capital letters. Each stone was 12 lbs.; I had 100 of them. My Dad suggested I rent a truck, or do multiple trips. I said, “No! One trip!”  and just loaded them all up at once. I drove home with the hazards blinking and the windows down, because I blew the fuse to the AC in the van from the weight of the stones. Just to be clear (some have asked), I am pretty sure that I reclined my seat and had the bass bumpin’, although I was sweating and I don’t recall what song HB and I were swaggerin’ out to, but, we had PLANS up in that piece!! I was making things HAPPEN.

Honey Badger was making things happen too. She would have collapsed into a crying mess on the driveway if I didn’t let her help move the stones. So, maybe she did and that’s how I know this. Ohhhhhh, yeah, speaking of 12 lb stones… That wheelbarrow that we had, that I was planning on using to haul this shit to the patio, yeah, the, uh, tire was completely deflated, therefore rendering it useless.

Hmm. That threw a wrench into my project.

PLAN B!

THINK.OUTSIDE.THE.BOX.

THINK.OUTSIDE.THE.BOX.

And, here’s the Honey Badger : Even 1 block at a time was a big help. She’s my Big Helper.

THE GRILL 936 erin bike

Ok, so my Dad helped me bring my plan to light. He was there to assist and light a fire under me. We could have gone round and round about how this was going to go. But, he likes to Get ‘er Done, and I like to, well, procrastinate and chat. We busted a move and got the stones set up, took a picture, then tore them down. We built it back up and glued it together, piece by piece. We marveled at what we accomplished, yet acknowledged we may have sped the process up a bit and so we aren’t exactly at 90 degrees in some spots. Oh well. I think he was just extremely impressed with my work ethic on the job site and couldn’t see past that.

And then, my father left me on my own. “Sink or swim”, he thought. This is pretty much how he raised me anyway, thank God.

So, I swam for dear life.

I can’t draw a stick person to save my life, but I measured, drew precise pencil lines that weren’t actually precise, tried to erase them, gave up on the eraser, went through an entire package of baby wipes (Kirkland brand, from Costco,- I cleaned my entire van out with them the other day – they can be utilized in ANY situation)  and sent my husband to Lowe’s to have the tiles cut down to my “exact” pencil markings.

Next, I needed more tiles cut. But, in a moment’s notice, I had to draw my lines there on the spot, at Lowe’s. I asked for a pencil and tape measure. They gave me a “grease pencil”. That went over well. The grease pencil was gigantic compared to my small pencil at home. So, I made a lot of noise using their ink pen to draw my lines, much to their dismay. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

THE GRILL 977 lowes pen

Ok, ok, ok. So – I started this little project with the Honey Badger in tow on Tuesday. After many days of rearing the children, working from home, and the everyday stuff in the middle, I finished the project tonight (Saturday). It really is a 2 day project. Knowing what I know now, I could do this in no time. I feel so completely empowered, I just want to stand on the damn thing with flames shooting out from behind me shouting, “I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR!!!!!!!”. But, I don’t think my neighbors would like that. Plus, the dogs would go crazy everywhere and cause quite a stir.

Here’s the finished product. Disclaimer: Once again, I must credit my father with the awesome wisdom and time he provided to the project. I will say, though, that the tile part was completely independent of anyone but myself. I have never tiled anything in my life, so this was quite an achievement. I want to tile the shit out of anything and everything now! I want to tile the backyard!!!

Here are the final pictures:

THE GRILL 985 FINAL

THE GRILL 987 side

I especially want to say that that this project makes our back porch so versatile. I made it so that, during the wintertime, the grill could slide back, and we can store it in the garage. More importantly, this brick wall becomes The Most Amazing Snowball Shelter in the History of Mankind.  If you don’t believe me, take a look at my oldest below, demonstrating just how awesome it will be:

THE GRILL 991 Sean

Treasure Hunting with the Honey Badger

I’m bored. I have nothing to look forward to in life any longer. Valentine’s Day is over, and so is the thrill of the hunt. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care about Valentine’s Day at all. My husband and I opted to not do anything for each other this year. When I talk about the thrill of the hunt, I am referring to a competition that a local jewelry store puts on every other year called “Finders Keepers”. Here are the details, verbatim from their website:

“Cupid’s little helpers at Reis Nichols Jewelers are going out into Indianapolis to hide one elegantly wrapped silver box outside a public place each day until Valentine’s Day. Yep, we’re hiding our little silver wrapped boxes with bright red bows filled with beautiful jewelry, outside public places, throughout the entire city.

NO STRINGS ATTACHED.
FINDERS KEEPERS.

We only ask that if YOU find one give us a call and let us know where and when you found the package.
AND… once you call us, we’ll give another gift! We will donate $100 to the charity of YOUR choice.

THE JEWELRY IS REAL.
THE GIFT IS YOURS.
THE PLEASURE IS OURS.

Finder’s Keepers. One gift a day, every day, until Valentine’s Day. Just our little way of spreading the love!

THE DAILY CLUE WILL BE POSTED PROMPTLY AT 9:30AM.

I am a Competitor. I live for this kind of thing. Whether in work or play, you dangle a carrot in front of me, and I am THERE. Given any kind of incentive, like an all-expenses paid vacation or money, to meet or exceed a goal : I will smash it. I have been the recipient of those very things in my day. But, times have changed. I am no longer in the full-on workforce. I work from home at random hours, feast or famine, to be able to be the full-time, stay-at-home Mom that I am. So, when something like “Finders Keepers” comes along, I am ALL IN – whatever it takes.

This year, I missed the kick-off on Feb 1st. The clue was posted, the piece of jewelry was found, and I wasn’t fazed. I decided to jump into the action on Feb 2nd. My husband and I figured out the clue very quickly, and I dragged my 10 year old son along for the hunt. It had everything to do with Pat McAfee, kicker for the Colts, and the canal in Broad Ripple. We searched in the exact location it was found, we just missed spotting it. Perhaps it was because I was hungry, and we were freezing looking in the snow, so we ditched the locale and headed to Perkins for breakfast. In retrospect, that was probably why we missed it. 😉

I didn’t play Days 3 & 4 because I was swamped with work. Not to mention, the Honey Badger was at home with me. I was starting to lose interest in the game.

Day 5: I didn’t even look at the clue when it came out at 9:30am. Who am I? What happened to my competitive streak? Oh yeah, I was still working my ass off.

Until, the phone rang.

My sister, Susie: “Are you playing?”

Me: “No, I’m working. Why?”

Susie: “I know where it is.”

Me: “THEN GO!!!!!!!!! What are you doing?!?! Where is it?”

Susie: “I’m not going anywhere, I haven’t showered.”

She told me where she thought it was, and based on the clue, there was no doubt in my mind she was spot on.

I grabbed the Honey Badger, who was in shorts in 25 degree weather, threw some snow boots and a fur coat on her, and told her we were headed out to “LOOK FOR TREASURE!!” She grabbed her Jake & the Neverland Spyglass, map, and pirate bandanna. We were set.

We hauled ass to the south side of the city – a 35  minute drive. I was on the phone 3-way with my sister and my husband. Sean was looking at the park we were headed to on Google Earth. It was huge. Luckily, since he’s not a dumb guy (which we established in this blog posting), he instructed me to head straight to the basketball goal. Part of the clue was, “If you’re Jonesing for another clue…” and he connected the basketball reference. Susie and I would have totally missed that, as did everyone else that started to show up at the park and search! I was running out of time. I was driving around the park going, “I don’t see the basketball courts!!” when Erin piped up,  “There’s the basketball goal, Mommy!”….she got us there, pointing to exactly where the lone basketball goal stood. She led us to the treasure.

We hopped out of the van, searched everywhere, and came up with nothing. We searched high and low, kicking snow over in case it was buried, and still no treasure. We got back in the van and drove around. People were arriving now, but they were searching on the other side of the park, at the playground. I knew we had a leg up with the basketball reference, so I drove us back to the basketball goal. Not wanting to tip off (ha, pretty clever play on words) the other searchers, I drove PAST the basketball goal and parked in the lot next to it. As I put the van in park, something in the tree directly to my right caught my eye. I stepped out of the van. I was still on the phone with my sister, exasperated that I hadn’t located it yet when I knew I was in the right location. I stepped toward the tree and took a closer look.

There, inside a plastic bag, was a beautifully wrapped silver box, with a bright, red bow.

“I found it.”

Susie: “WHAT! Are you serious?!”

Me: “Oh my God. I found it.”  I very calmly tucked it into my jacket and slid back into the car. I unwrapped it. It was a beautiful red box, and inside was a silver and diamond Colts horseshoe pendant, valued at $280. Not too shabby!

Colts necklace

I turned around to show the Honey Badger what we found….only “we” didn’t find it. I did.

Tears. “**I** wanted to find the treasure and open it!!!!!!!!!!!”

Oh no. I felt awful. I got so caught up in the excitement of finding it, that I forgot the most important thing – letting her find it. I WRECKED IT!

She bounced back pretty quickly, after the tears subsided, and I let her hold the box and ribbon. Not the necklace, though, that was around my neck. If that sounds mean, well the Honey Badger was not going to break it! She already broke my Dylan & Erin necklace that I adored. I called in my find and asked that they donate to the American Heart Association, in honor of my Mom, who is battling heart disease. I kept reiterating to HB how I never would have found the treasure if she hadn’t pointed out the basketball goal. That seemed to placate her, and her spirits lifted as we drove back north. She called Grandmas, Grandpa, and Daddy along the way to tell them about our find. She was hooked. Just like her Mommy, she wanted more.

**INTERMISSION**

During Intermission, I would like to share an excerpt of something I wrote to my dear friend, Laura, two years ago. She lives in Arizona and plays the game from afar, helping me out. Based on how it ended two years ago, I’d say I’ve come a long way on this year’s Finder’s Keepers hunt. (The final day’s clue had everything to do with an Irish restaurant/pub.)

“I am finally getting my life back in order now that the damned contest is over! I drove RIGHT by O’Charley’s yesterday on my way to McNamara’s florist in Broad Ripple after leaving Murphy’s Steakhouse. I also wet my pants on Prospect St. in the hood, looking at the Golden Ace thinking it was there FOR SURE. There was not a single place to stop and go to the bathroom, and then I would have simply gone behind a brick wall, but I deemed it too unsafe for myself. So, I finally reached the point of no return from drinking too much coffee during my pre-game.

Also, it was Valentine’s Day, so I had chocolate for breakfast and lunch.

This concludes this season’s edition of ‘Finder’s Keepers’.”

ACT II

Now that my sister directed me to the treasure, she was all GAME ON, MOFO! for the next one.

Day 6 : Clue leads you to believe it is at the Carmel Ice Skadium, in well, Carmel, where my sister lives and my husband works. Susie and I are on the phone when the clue comes out, promptly at 9:30am. She is in her car in a split second, heading to find it. My other line rings. It’s my husband, breathless, running to his car from his office. Oh shit, it’s a showdown. They meet there at the same time. I’m still talking to Susie; Sean has to fend for himself. I’m telling her where to look – don’t forget to look under things, in trees, on the outskirts…she tells me she has to focus and needs to hang up. A “trail” is part of the clue, and the Monon Trail is right across the street, so she’s headed there. My phone rings again. It’s Sean.

“I’ve hit your sister with a brick! She’s lying on the Trail! Nothing is standing in my way!”

Good grief. Those two couldn’t find their way out of a paper bag. They walked by the jewelry multiple times before someone else found it. And, they were the first ones there. I was disappointed in both of them, shaking my head in disbelief.

Days 11-12 : Erin and I were dressed and ready to go well before the 9:30am clue. We were in our car by 9:20am, with the engine running. Some days, I had my laptop set up in the front seat, it’s internet capability being suctioned from my phone as a mobile hotspot, iPad at the ready, posted at the entrance of my neighborhood. We were ready to dart north, east, south, or west. Each time, Erin packed her Spyglass, map and bandanna. She was so excited to be out looking for treasure with Mommy! Our searches took us to every nook and cranny of the city…and beyond. We saw places and things in our city that we never knew existed. We browsed through bushes, trees, parking lots, beautiful parks. I googled incessantly. I spent many an hour on the phone with Laura in Arizona, my sister, and my 70 year old mother, playing from home. I racked my brain all day and night when prizes went undiscovered into the night, and into the next day. I met some wonderful people when we all converged on the same spot, and we congratulated each other sincerely when one of us found the jewelry.

By Day 13, I had to throw in the towel. My son had a Dr’s appointment when the clue came out at 9:30am. I wasn’t playing. But, Laura was. I drove Dylan back to school, and was headed home with Erin. Laura got the clue right away and was sending me fragmented text messages. Fragmented to me, anyway, because I hadn’t even seen the clue and didn’t know what she was talking about. I pulled over to the side of the road.

The Clue: “Feb. 13th: Climb, Hop and Navigate your way through a tunnel and slide as you play all day.”

As we had come to expect, if certain words are capitalized, you can’t ignore that. Laura insisted it was at the Community Health Network sponsored playground in Hamilton Town Center. I couldn’t ignore her pleas. I promptly headed towards the interstate, and drove straight there. I told Erin, “As soon as we park, we are RUNNING to the playground, ok? Then, search for treasure everywhere!!”. Well, she ran straight to the slide and started playing. She left all thoughts of treasure behind, because in her mind she struck gold with the playground.

A man stepped out of Noodles & Co.

“You lookin’ for jewelry?”

I answered, “SURE AM!”

He said, “Well, it’s not here. People have already been here looking.”

I happily nodded, and kept on searching. I knew it was there.

I searched the entire vicinity and playground. I finally stopped in my tracks and focused on the slides. I checked under one: nope. I had to duck to get under the other one. There, wedged in a small crevice, was the silver package with the bright, red bow. This time, I wasn’t going to get it wrong.

“Erin, come over here, honey. Do you see the treasure anywhere under here?”

We were standing under the playground slide. I was turned away from the jewelry, feigning to look all around.

“MOM-MMEEEEEE, I SEE THE TREASURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Her eyes so wide, the excitement dancing all over her face. She reached for it, but it was wedged so tightly, I helped her get it out. We sneaked it into her jacket, and took off in a sprint to the car. The same man from Noodles & Co was yelling to me, asking if we’d found it. I smiled, and waved, and we kept running. We got inside the van and locked the doors. I let her peel off the bow, and tear open the wrapping paper. I was dying to see what was inside. We pulled out a pair of beautiful ‘Stephen Webster Superstud earrings, retail value $350’. She was beside herself for finding the treasure all on her own. It was a moment she, nor I, will ever forget. I finally got it right the second time around.

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The Honey Badger is sooooo happy upon our return home. I am sporting the earrings and necklace that we found!

Funny thing is, I’m not even a jewelry person.  However, I do still have the Colts horseshoe around my neck. It’s simple, beautiful, and I’ve fallen in love with it. More importantly, I just had an absolute blast for two weeks looking for treasure with my daughter, no matter what we found….or didn’t find.

On a recent trip to pick up her brother from school, she was “reading” aloud from a magazine in the backseat. Here is just a bit of what I caught, in a very careful, whispered tone:

“When you are looking for treasure, be sure to look everywhere outside. It could be up in the treeeeeees, it could be down on the grounnnnd, it could be by a rock, you just have to keep on looking and don’t ever, ever give up……” 

Know Yourself

When I was in college, I was a leader for my high school’s very amazing Senior Retreat. I had to give a one hour talk, and my topic was chosen ahead of time: “Know Yourself”. I was terrified. Not one to enjoy standing up and talking in front of people, let alone high school seniors, I had to figure out how best to break the ice and connect with them on their level. I opened with a bit of a wisecrack. At a mere 19 years of age, I held up my driver’s license. I said, “This is me.” I described my hair, eye color, and other obvious factors that you can see. I set it down on the podium, and pulled out a different driver’s license, that of a 21 year old woman. Next, I said, “And, this is who I pretend to be.”  I figured if I didn’t bullshit my audience, who was soon to strike out on their own after graduation, I had a much better chance of reaching them. Based on the reaction to my talk, I believe I did.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

This is the Honey Badger:

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“HELLO! I’m the Honey Badger! I like to cut my own hair!”

And,

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“THIS IS WHO I PRETEND TO BE! BWAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!”

She really can’t help but be herself. She is the happiest creature on the planet. I am constantly shaking my head at her saying, “Erin, what in the world am I going to do with you?” and she happily replies,

“Put me in the potty and flush me down the toilettttttt!!!!!”

or –

If she is having a bad day, which is rare, her big bro will try and cheer her up, “Erin, you are SO AWESOME!”

Her disgruntled, angry response : “I DON’T LIKE BEING AWESOME!!”

She lays it all out there. Kind of like her Mommy. What you see is what you get. I like that she is free to be herself, and doesn’t try to be like anyone else. I give her props for being edgy with her new haircut, for trying to get past us that she is wearing her PJ’s under her clothes out in public, and for looking for treasure everywhere we go (my fault, and that’s an entirely different story).

All I ever really want for my kids is for them to have self worth – to know their strengths, their faults, their own opinions, their motivations, their goals, and most of all: to be happy with exactly who they are. I believe if they truly know who they are, then they will succeed.

Lastly, I hope they never have fake ID’s and then write about it in a blog, or give a speech to seniors in high school and reveal it to them, but that’s just me.

WE ARE HAVING A BABY!

Greetings! Before I fill you in on our big news, let’s get reacquainted. It’s been 3 weeks since my last post. Utterly unacceptable. I’m not sure how I got to this point. Oh, I know. Christmas hoopla, New Year’s hoopla, New Year’s Day Flood in my Basement, the Flu, and so on. I’m just glad to be back. Actually, what has really hindered my progress lately, is the Honey Badger. Her school is undergoing construction, and they had to extend “Christmas Break” until 1/14/13. She’s not real hip on going with the flow; she marches to the beat of her own drum. That pretty much consists of wearing PJ’s no matter what time of day. And, since it’s winter, she likes her silk, sleeveless nighties best of all. (During the summer, she wore only footed fleece pajamas.) Honey Badger don’t care what season it is. She likes to wear her PJ’s wherever we go, and pack about 3 extras in her bag.  She likes those extras in case of an emergency. Getting her out the door is literally most of the battle. After that, she’s a happy little camper. Once we step foot back in the house, though, she disappears to her bedroom to get new PJ’s on before you can blink your eyes. She’s a very complicated HB.

Anyhither, let’s get back on track. The Baby. Am I having a baby? Good God, no. Do you think I’m insane? I tiptoed quietly into the bathroom this afternoon to, you know, go potty BY MYSELF, when it trotted in and declared to me, in the most serious tone I’ve ever heard it speak, “Mommy, I’m ready to have a baby….a REAL LIVE one, all by myself.”

Let’s stop here for a moment. Lots of things were going through my head, but the intent, imploring, naive face was too much. I felt awful. It needed to hear the truth, and quickly.

“Sweetie, you are WAY too little to have a baby.”

“I know…”, it said, “I need to be in high school first.”

Um, negative. “You need to get MARRIED first!”…..says the mother that had a child out of wedlock and we both turned out just fine, thank you very much.

“I know, Mommy! I’m going to marry Dylan [NO!], then go to college [YES!], then go to high school [IT’S SO CONFUSED!].”

“Erin, that’s a looooong wa -”

“I know, Mommy, I just want a baby for ALL of us to have!!!”

“Erin, you have a lot of time, like many, many, MANY years before you have a real, live baby, honey.”

“It will need a changing table, a rocker, and diapers!”

“At some point in – ”

“AND A CRIB!”

I must kiss it and reassure it. “One day you WILL have a baby, but not for a long, long, time….when you’re a grown-up.”

“Oh!!,” it exclaims, as the light bulb goes off in its head, and it runs to its room to pull out all of the baby things I’ve ever saved for her. “The baby can wear THISSSS!!!!”…..she proclaims it. So loud and proud to be getting ready for the baby’s arrival, which is set to come, in her mind, at any moment.

Quite possibly, the scariest part of this entire scenario, is that for the next 30 minutes, she dragged out things that were exactly what a baby would need. She was spot on. Bibs, sleeping, eating, clothes, I mean, we are covered. Honey Badger is not playing games!! To take a break, I interrupted the imminent arrival of the baby to make some banana bread. I thought it might distract her. It did. Until bedtime.

Her poor Daddy is sick in bed with the flu. He had a rough day, and went to bed at 6:30pm. I got everyone fed, Dylan’s homework and studying done, then I thought both kids were in bed, and I was working in silent bliss.

It was still awake.

I quietly made it to her room to investigate. I caught her playing in mid-act. Discovered, it blurted out, as if we were so stupid to not think of it before, “THE BABY NEEDS BABY TOYS!!”.

I guess we’re not over it. She was tripping over her words and excitement to tell me what more she has stockpiled for The Baby. It all might as well go into a time capsule, because this baby isn’t coming anywhere near us for another 20 years. We will make do with her Christmas gift of Baby Alive (AKA “Baby Shits Her Pants”, “Baby Chokes on Food That’s Been Caked on For Many Days and Hardens”, or a plethora of many other colorful names). Ah, well, what can you do.

Here is a picture of my Modern Day Mother Warrior…..in her, uh, Jake & the Neverland Pirates outfit from Xmas. I’m sure she’d make an awesome Mommy right  now. I mean, Flash is still alive and that’s HUGE.

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