Let's get one thing straight

I love Erma Bombeck. But I ain't her. Unfortunately. OMG. That's the first time I ever wrote "ain't."

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Redemption Bag

If you've ever been an 8 year old girl, you know this is true: you are only as cool as your sleeping bag.

My 8 year old daughter is at her first sleepover tonight. She's never spent the night away from home. I was just like her 36 years ago. The first sleepover didn't warrant a bag. Most of us made a pallet out of quilts because, honestly, our moms didn't see investing in a sleeping bag if we weren't going to use it for several years. But after the first successful sleepover, I got my sleeping bag.

It was mostly yellow and had big red apples and hearts on it. Inside the apples, it said "You're the apple of my eye." I was 9. It was cute.I don't remember picking it out. It probably came from the Sears catalog (for you younguns, that's sort of like an online store printed out on paper). It's how we ordered stuff before the Internet. It might have come from the Shur-Value store in Little Rock. It used to be that when we went grocery shopping, we were given trading stamps as a thank you for our purchase. Those stamps were licked and stuck in books that we collected then traded in for merchandise.

The sleeping bag was fine. I think I was in 7th grade before someone made fun of it. As I unrolled it, I heard a friend snicker, "You're the apple of my eye." It became apparent that this bag was not meant for a 12 year old.

I don't know how I presented the topic to my mother. I mean, the bag was good enough. There was nothing wrong with it. But someone had made fun of it. My dad would have told me to slug the person who made fun of it. My mom, on the other hand, must be the one I told because I ended up with a new bag. It was a Hershey's sleeping bag that looks like a label, but not the brown label we're all familiar with today. It's so old that I couldn't even find a picture of it online.

That bag got me thru my sleepover years, then was used by my niece. I thought I saw it at my mom's house recently and asked her about it. She had forgotten about it.

"How can you forget the Redemption Bag?" I asked.

"Redemption Bag?"

"Yes. Redemption! It redeemed my social status in junior high."

"You had a social status in junior high?"

Nothing like a kick in the confidence seat 30 years after the fact.

I told her the story about how I  had been made fun of at a party because of my old sleeping bag.

"I'm surprised you didn't knock her out," my mom said, knowing that I was apt to take my dad's advice had he given it. But it was puberty and my hormones were making me try to be all girly and stuff so there was no bloodshed. I do, however, recall wondering if the fun-poking would warrant me dropping the girl during our levitation game or using my Ouija board to predict her certain doom. Because all us Christian girls became pagans during sleepovers. But that's another story.

My mom said, "That's the silliest thing ever. I can't believe someone made fun of you for your sleeping bag and that I bought you a new one because of it." Whew. Thank goodness I had a kinder, gentler mom 30 years ago.

"Hey," I snapped. "It's a good thing you did because someone else was making fun of that sleeping bag not too long ago."

"Who?" she demanded.

"Donna." I answered. Donna has been my pal since 10th grade. We've known each other since fifth, but it wasn't until 10th grade that we tagged up as best buddies. Not too long ago she laughed and said, "Who was it that had that 'You're the apple of my eye' sleeping bag?"

That was me. We laughed about it. I don't even think she was at the party when the initial remark was made. Thus proving that a girl's sleeping bag reputation precedes her and sticks with her for life.

So Syd got her first sleepover invitation this week. My first sleep over was for my friend Lori's birthday. Syd's was for Lori's daughter. "We'll need to go buy you a sleeping bag," I said.

"You can use mine," Jim said. He thought he was being helpful. I must have had *that* look on my face.

"It's in the hall closet," he continued.

"I know where it is! I'm not sending my kid to her first sleepover in an Army green camping bag." I'm pretty sure I was indignant. He obviously didn't know girl code. So I told them the story about the apple sleeping bag and how I had redeemed myself in the eyes of teen girls with the Hershey bag.

"I had no idea that Hershey trumped Army green," Jim said thoughtfully.

"Duh. It's CHOC-O-LATE. Of COURSE it trumps slick Army green. I mean, I want your sleeping bag if I'm lying in mud in a tent but I want mine if I'm asleep on another girl's floor."

"I've never seen another kind of sleeping bag," he said. But that's understandable because he's never been a little girl.

"Do you still have that Hershey bag, Mama?" Sydney asked me a day or so later. I called my mom to ask and sure enough, it was at her house. "Can I use it for Abby's party?" she asked.

Well, of course.

We got it from my mom, washed it and fluffed it up. It's seriously 30 years old. Other than a little fading it was fine. She was happy to roll it up and carry it with her tonight. We'll see how it went over tomorrow.

"You know Syd took my old sleeping bag tonight, right?" I asked Jim.

"The apple one?" he asked innocently.

"Well, no! The Redemption Bag. She took the Redemption Bag."

"Redemption bag? The Hershey bag?  You're calling it the Redemption Bag?"

"Yes I am. Because it redeemed my social status in junior high."

"You had a social status in junior high?" Somehow I'm starting to think I didn't. And unfortunately now I know it was no fault of my choice of sleeping bag.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Prince Penguin

"Will and Kate pen"

That's the second most popular thing trending on Yahoo as I write. Before I could even click on the link embedded, my mind was racing....

Will and Kate pen...itentiary sentence?

Will and Kate pen...one-hit wonder?

Will and Kate pen...cil dates on calendar?

Will and Kate pen...dulum hangs at Big Ben?

Will and Kate pen...sion is cut?

Will and Kate pen...ny minted in UK?

Will and Kate pen...tagon guests?

Will and Kate pen...sacola honeymoon?

Will and Kate pen...tagram?

Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! I had to know.


Will and Kate penguin? You're kidding, right?

Nope. The woosome twosome has been given a penguin from the Chester Zoo. They're adoptive parents of a penguin named .... Acorn. Not the name I'd pick for a penguin, but nobody asked me.

Names I'd suggest for the penguin:

Billy (after his father, assuming that he's male. The penguin, that is. I think we all know Will is male. After all, nobody talked about his dress before the wedding)

Chuck (to honor his grandfather)

Randy (just b/c I know a guy named Randy who looks like the penguin in "Happy Feet")

Percival (for the alliteration alone)

and, possibly my favorite due to marketing potential -- Prince.

Just think. They could use music by Prince to blast from the zoo speakers and they could cast purple lights on the penguin water, which would have to include a water fall to create a mist that would resemble "purple rain." Come on, you saw that coming.

Anyways, congrats to the Duke and Duchess on their bouncing baby penguin. I hope someone gets to spend Mother's Day at the zoo with her little one ;D

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Our first trip to Build-an-Addict Workshop

We took our 8 year old daughter to Build-an-Addict Workshop. You know the place, you pick a limp-bodied critter, fill it with the perfect amount of stuffing then dress it. I didn't think Syd would have fun there. She hates to shop and try on clothes. I figured she'd hate the whole outfit approach and just leave with a naked animal.


She finally decided on the lamb and explained to her daddy why. "It's a limited edition Easter lamb. So, they're not going to make any more. The lady said there are only two bags of them left, then they won't get anymore. It's rare." Yes, she asked the lady how many more lambs she had in stock and if she'd be getting more. When I was pregnant, we used to do a lot of flea market collectible shopping. I think this is one of those things she picked up in the womb.

"That's nice," he said as he headed to the register to pay.

"No, wait," said the really nice sales lady. "We've got to make her fluffy."

She talked to Syd about the importance of caring for her new stuffed, cuddly friend. We chuckled. What she didn't know is that we talk to Syd about the importance of caring for her real life cuddly friend (min pin Candy) and it's all for naught as soon as cleaning up pee or poop is involved. "At least this one won't pee," Jim said.

The nice sales lady gave us the evil eye.

Then she went back to her speech.

Just before pulling the string to tie the stuffing into the lamb, she told Syd to pick out a heart. Syd reached into a box of 2 inch hearts and handed one to the lady.

"Not yet," the lady said. "First, you have to rub it in your hands to make sure it's always warm."

Jim raised his eyebrow. The one that I call Geraldo Rivera. Honestly, an eyebrow that can move on its own like that deserves to have its own name.

"Now, touch it to your heart so it will always feel close to you." Or something like that. Whatever it was, the kid was eating it up.

"Touch it to your head, so it will be as intelligent as you are."

"Touch it to your tummy, so it will never be hungry."

I lean over to Jim and whisper, "Touch it on your booty so it will always have health bowel movements." He laughed. The sales lady did not. She's never met us before so there's no way she could know of my mom's obsession with everyone's bowel movements. ("Did Syd go to the bathroom today? Did she eat salad? You should give her prune juice. Does she eat as much peanut butter as Jim? Bananas will constipate her. Did I send enough bananas home with Syd?" --yeah, there's no logic.) Anyway, there's no way that sales lady could have heard me. Jim says it was the motion I did that gave it away.

Oh. Oops.

The end was to kiss the heart and drop it inside the lamb. Syd kissed "at" the heart and tried to stick it inside. The lady said, "That wasn't a kiss. Give it  REAL kiss." Syd froze and I knew that my 8 years of brainwashing had paid off.

"It's a germ issue," Jim explained to the clerk. As it turns out, she has a Geraldo Rivera on her face, too.

I explained further. "You have all these hearts in a box and lots of little fingers touch them and we don't know where those little fingers have been or what was on them when they touched the little hearts. I think I have an individually wrapped sanitizer wipe in my pocket..."

"Just put it in," she told Syd.

Anyway, we got through the ritual. From there, it's time to fluff your critter at the spa station. My kid who hates to hear a blow drier absolutely loved blow drying this lamb.

"Now it's time to pick an outfit," the sales lady said.

It was like someone aimed a remote at the kid and pushed "fast forward." OMG. Seriously. I didn't know she could move that fast.

She had cheer outfits, swimsuits, coats, crowns, shoes, you name it. I stepped in to start winding things down. I limited her to one outfit. She wanted to know if she could get the car and the beach chair to go with the outfit.

No, not today.

So in trying to decide what to get, the sales lady suggests getting a first outfit that reflects something Syd loves to do. Back went the cheer outfit.

Back went the beach gear.

Back went the sparkly dress and shoes.

Then, we saw it. A night gown with a robe. Perfect for the home-schooled kid who asks, "Mom, do I have to pants today?"

Jim was relieved. The sales lady was ...well, she was hard to read at this point, but pointed out that the newest member of our family didn't have on any undies.

Jim said, "Really?" Then he looks at me and asks, "What kind of person am I if I say our lamb doesn't need undies?"

"I don't know," I said. "But there are little undie thongs back there to wear under those low cut critter jeans over there." That's his pet peeve: young girls (and old women for that matter) who wear low rise jeans and high rise thongs to show off. I forgot to tell him I was just joking.

So, we did skip the lamb undies but did get her one pair of bunny slippers. At $8 a pair, I-- the cheapskate of the family -- wasn't going to point out that the lamb has two more feet. I was the one naive enough to think we could go in and get out of the store for less than $25.

Syd named her lamb Snow, which is a good name for a fuzzy lamb whose fleece is white as snow. I had Jammy Lamby in mind, but I'm just a mom. What do I know?

I do know a little more after my Build-an-Addict experience:

1. Don't expect to build a critter for less than $25 unless you get a mini animal. They're in the back. The big ones are prominently up front. Because they expect cheapos like me.
2. The stuffing and heart ceremony is as almost as sacred as a wedding. More sacred than two of my own.
3. It's addictive for moms, too. I've spent the day designing a canopy bed and closet system to hold all the clothes I'm going to make. Snow will wear one-of-a-kind Jammy Lamby designs.
4. Get a hanger. We didn't get our hanger that the outfit came on. If we had, I'd have been able to trace it to make more. As it is, I had to design my own (I'll post it soon).
5. I wish I'd thought of that!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The butt biting ways of karma

We were watching cartoons when my 8 year old asked me about karma. A talking dog had just told a boy not to do something because "karma would bite him in the butt."

"Is that true, Mama?" she asked.


"Will karma bite you in the butt?"

"Not only will karma bite you in the butt, it can also bite the butts of those you love," I said.

Her eyes widened. "Is karma gonna bite my butt because of something you've done?" she asked.

"Nah, not you. Daddy."

"Oh." And she continued watching.

But I had one of those flashback moments. Like the ones on tv where they have squiggly or fuzzy lines to denote a flashback. Yeah. The lines were part of my flashback. I think maybe I watch too much tv.

The year was 1990-something. I was married to a different husband at the time. We had a convenience store and I loved to  heckle the customers, especially the ones who picked on me first.

Officer X was one of those. I'm not sure of his title. Honestly, I just called him by his first name. Everyone else did. It was no disrespect on my part.

He was an officer for the state Game & Fish Commission. Great guy. Always came in at the same time of day and bought the same thing. Day in and day out. And he'd find something to pick on me about. Anything. And I never could get him back.

One day as he was leaving, I noticed he was wearing a gun.

"Hey!" I shouted. "You came into my store with a gun?"

"I always wear a gun," he said. "It's part of my uniform."

"Do they let you have bullets?" I asked. I was a little serious with that question.

"Of course they let me have bullets," he answered. He could tell I was serious and I could tell he thought I was an idiot. That's the first rule of not getting picked on: Never let them realize you're an idiot.

He was just about to make fun of me when I said, in my most serious voice, "Wow.  You've got cuffs too. I guess you need them when those fish get out of line. How many times in the course of a day do you catch yourself having to say 'Spread 'em, Fish! Put your fins on the hood, Fish?"

Haha. I got him first.

He left.

But the next day he came back. I said, "You have the right to remain silent, Fish. You have the right to legal counsel, Fish." He bought his stuff and left.

But the next day he came back. "I bet those bass are troublemakers with their wide mouths and all," I said. He bought his stuff and left.

But the next day he came back. "I don't know how you put up with deer and their insubordination." I got a response.


"You know, when you interrogate one and they just stare at you like they're caught in headlights." He bought his stuff and left.

This witty, one-sided banter went on for ages. I'm not sure why I stopped picking on him. Maybe it's because he finally stopped picking on me. I figure you shouldn't dish it out if you can't take it. Maybe he figured me out.

The flashback ends about here. Squiggle lines back into reality.

Now, I'm happily married and my husband has the job of his dreams...with the Game & Fish Commission. In our state, training for this job is a lot like boot camp. It's 4 months long and extensive. It's hard work. The long-term officers generally teach classes.

That's where I feared my karma would bite my husband's butt.

Sure enough, Officer X was an instructor. I prayed long and hard that he'd never figure out that I was married to one of the cadets. I was afraid he'd have been picked on mercilessly.

"You didn't tell him who you were, did you?" I'd ask when we talked at night. No, he hadn't. Whew.

The day Officer X left, he wished my husband luck and said, "I won't be working with you, but I'm sure I'll see you when you come to visit your in-laws," he said knowingly. He knew all along and, fortunately, he's a forgiving soul.

THAT, I tell the kiddo, is how Daddy's butt could have been bitten by my karma.

But since I can't undo the past, I tell my husband, "Get ready for those trouble-making bass. I hear their wide mouths keep them in trouble."