Each year my company has a VERY BIG user's group meeting for our clients. Seriously, there are like 6,000 to 7,000 people who attend from all over the world. It's quite an event. This year, my birthday was right smack, dab in the middle of the conference. Over the years, I've spent a fair amount of birthdays on the road, but not this year. I took off two days for my birthday....and in turn, did not go to the conference. When folks asked why I wasn't going, I said, "First, it's my birthday on Monday, and second, I have Bon Jovi tickets on Tuesday." My former boss said, "That's the best reason yet I've heard not to attend."
I actually really missed seeing the clients. After 14 years in the biz, I know many of them, and I consider several of them friends. I won't miss next year's conference for sure...it's in Vegas, baby!
Can I tell you that I have a serious crush on Bon Jovi. The man is HOT.
I also really like his music. Slippery When Wet came out when I was in high school, and that whole album pretty much defined my senior year. Over the years, I've belted out the lyrics to "Livin' on a Prayer" more times than I can remember. I also think Jon Bon Jovi is a good guy. He's done some great nonprofit work, and I just think he's an all around good person. In short, I love Bon Jovi. When I heard he was coming to Utah, you'd better believe I was on that computer at 10:00 AM snagging my tickets. We had awesome seats right by the stage.
Here are some of the sites and sounds from the concert....enjoy!
This is me and Dean, pre-concert. I'd like to point out that all of my private parts are covered....but there were a lot of ladies at the show bearing some serious cleveage. I'm not sure who the audience was for that type of dress (or lack thereof). On the TRAX, I thought one woman's boob was going to come flying out. I keep checking to make sure they were still in place. She managed to keep them in, but I'm telling, you, one jumping incident would have exposed those babies. Dean and I are getting older....and this is about as dressed up as we get for a concert; we're way too practical. And old...did I mention that we're old. So old that I will definitely consider wearing earplugs to the next concert I attend. I'm fairly certain I have some hearing loss going on...
Today was a classic windy March day here in Utah. As Dom and I were driving home, I saw a dad at our local middle school with his two small children coaching them on how to get their kites in the air. I LOVE TO FLY A KITE! I really do! I remember that we'd get about one new kite a year and it would last all of about 20 minutes. It usually took a nose dive..or the string broke...or it got wrapped around a power line.
As I mentioned my love for kite flying to Dom, she said, "I've never flown a kite."
I was stunned. My knee-jerk reaction was to blame that missed childhood experience on her mom...then I realized that since she's been with me since the age of 5...that it's MY fault. Boy, did I feel badly. We're going to remedy that situation ASAP. I'll be buying some kites so we have them on hand ready for the next good windy day.
What else have I missed from their childhood? I need to create a "must do during childhood list" because I'm running out of time!
For now, I'll try not to beat myself up too badly. I'll sleep tonight with the lyrics from a Mary Poppins song running through my head.
With tuppence for paper and strings,
you can have your own set of wings.
With your feet on the ground, you're a bird in flight!
With your fist holding tight, to the string of your kite!
Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height
Let's go fly a kite
And send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let's go fly a kite!
I'm here in Washington State right now, and in the hotel gift shop, they are selling some ash from Mount St. Helens. I remember when she blew back in 1980. I was 10 years old. I remember that my mom thought she saw volcanic ash all the way in Pekin, Illinois. I have no idea what my mother was smoking that day, but I'm fairly certain that she didn't see volcanic ash.
In the early 80s, my dad lived in Lynnwood, Washington (just north of Seattle), and the summer after my 5th Grade year (in 1981), I visited my dad for several weeks. I wish I could tell you that I fell in love with Washington that year, but I didn't. It rained and rained and rained and rained some more.
That summer, a few things stick out in my memory. First, I discovered the Ouija board. For some unknown reason, my step-mother thought it was ok to leave an 11 year old and a 9 year old alone with a Ouija board all day long. Good heavens...the spirits we conjured up from the dead were mostly good ones...but a few still freak me out today.
Second, I remember that my sis Sarah (a toddler back then) tried to ingest two snails. She said, "Look, Daddy...rocks." (Open mouth, insert pudgy little fist full of slimy snail.) That got all of the adults' attention. She lived.
Third, I remember the day that I found illegal drugs at Fred Meyer.
I was taught all kinds of things in elementary school like "Stranger Danger," "Reading is FUNdamental," and "Take a Bite Out of Crime." In short, I was a walking source of soundbites on how to be an educated and aware citizen. So, the day I found drugs at Fred Meyer....I wasn't sure what to do. I was with my dad on some shopping errand, and my dad was probably meandering in the hardware section. Near an endcap, I found a small plastic bag about one inch by one inch full of what I was convinced was "coke." Mind you, I'd never seen "coke," but I had heard about it. Also, somewhere in the back of my 11 year old mind, all drugs came in little plastic bags. I found one of these bags on the floor of a Fred Meyer, and I was faced with a moral dilemma. If I took the small bag of drugs, that would be stealing. If I left the small bag of drugs, I would be helping someone else snort coke. This is really how it processed in my mind.
As I was struggling with this moral dilemma, I decided to tell my dad about the drugs I found on the floor of the Fred Meyer. He looked at the bag of coke, looked around and found the source of the drugs. There were these commemorative plaques for the Mount St. Helens explosion, and on the back of each plaque was a small sample of volcanic ash. The bag of coke I found on the floor was really a small bag of volcanic ash from Mount St. Helens.
Whew! Crisis averted. No one would die from snorting volcanic ash!
It's funny the things we learn as kids, how we incorporate them....and the odd reason that this memory has stuck with me for 30 years!
The gift store volcanic ash triggered this childhood memory. Yeah, I'm a freak!
Tonight we were at dinner at Mimi's Cafe. I had a Cobb Salad with blue cheese dressing (on the side). They delivered it in a container that looked like this: Probably prompted by the shape of the container, Dom asked, "Where do Genie's live?"
I said, "In a bottle?" Because whenever I think of Genies, I think of "I Dream of Jeannie" and something that looks like this:Dom: "Not a bottle!" "Like that (pointing to the salad dressing thing)! A Genie lives in something that looks like a gravy boat." (still pointing at the salad dressing thing) Click HERE to see previous confusion related to a gravy boat.
Me: "Ah, yes, I genie can live in a lamp" (And why I'm pretending like genies exist is an entirely different matter).
She thought we meant a lamp like this:
Or perhaps this:
Since we have one of these up in our house from Thanksgiving to New Year's each year.
We then tried to convince her that something that looked like this:
is actually considered a "lamp."
Me: "Have you heard of the Parable of the 10 Virgins?"
Me: (Pointing at Dom) "One." (Then pointing at Elle) "Two."
We had an interesting conversation about oil lamps. For whatever reason, Dom hasn't seen an oil lamp (or if she has, she doesn't remember seeing one). We don't have them at home. My mom used to have them. We had the colored oils and everything. I don't know why we ever used those things. I can't imagine the fire hazard that they were. I don't remember seeing one after about 1979 (or about the time that we got our first CB Radio.....connection? correlative? hummm?)I LOVE having these times with the girls. I'm so glad that Dominique (at the age of 12) still asks questions like "Where does a genie live?" I love that it leads us down unexpected paths of conversation and exploration. When we eat at home, we actually sit around the table and talk; some of my best conversations with the kids happen there. Tonight it was at a restaurant table. This is the fun stuff of life.
Where does a genie live? Why of course, a genie lives in the imagination of a child.
Our kids have said some hilarious things over the years. I used to keep a file with the things that they said, but somehow...somewhere...that file got deleted. So, I decided to do my best to search my memory and write them in cyber space. If you have kids...I totally encourage you to do this....you will forget. Also, the kids love hearing stories about themselves...no matter how crazy they are. Here are a few oldies but goodies.
A few years ago at Christmas, Dean needed a phillips screwdriver to dismantle our stocking holder. He sent Bradley to the tool box to look for one. Finding none there, Bradley went to the garage to look (we have more tools in the garage). He came back several minutes later exasperated claiming that he couldn't find a phillips screwdriver. I insisted that there was definitely one in the garage. He said something like, "I don't know what to tell you. I checked every single screwdriver we have. All of them say "Craftsman." Not one of them says, "Phillips"." I thought Dean was going to pass out he was laughing so hard!
This child is geographically challenged. No one believes me about this first story...and dang it, if I had my file, I could *prove* that I wrote it down when it happened. A few years ago (maybe three or four years ago), Mariah was doing an assignment/studying for a test related to capitals. She said, "Is Oregon the capital of Washington?" I'm assuming that she got Olympia confused with the other "O word" that came to mind. I said, "No, Oregon is a state." Mariah: "Yes, but is it the capital of Washington?"
Major parental fail. Again, Dean still thinks I got that one wrong, but I assure you, I got that story EXACTLY right. I was vindicated last year by Mariah's more recent display of geographical ineptitude. We were in San Francisco for a nice weekend, and we were down on the piers somewhere. Someone made a comment, and I said (sarcastically), "Welcome to California!" To which Mariah said, "We're not in California, we're in San Francisco." LONG pause from both me and Dean. Dean tells her that we are indeed in California. She insists that we are not. You'd think that she would have just believed us...my heavens I've been to California more than 150 times on business, and I've been to San Francisco at least 10 of those times. Dean calls her bluff saying, "Ok, Mariah...then what is the capital of San Francisco?" The wheels were spinning so quickly in her head that I thought her red hair might catch on FIRE. She suddenly realizes that San Francisco *is* a city, not a state. She had just not made the connection before that moment. The only other time she'd been to California was to go to Disney, and to her defense, the Bay Area is NOTHING like SoCal...but still....
I have since purchased a puzzle map of the US. I have no idea why she struggles so much with geography. I shudder to think of where she might place other NATIONS on a world map!
Elle gives me so much content that I don't even know where to begin. One of my FAVORITE stories about Elle has to do with Aliens, Leprechauns and the Tooth Fairy. I know...it's hard to believe, but it's true.
We were at the post office one day, and when I got back into the van, Elle said, "Did the aliens invade Europe in 1944?"
Me: "What??? Do you mean Hitler? Did Hitler invade Europe in 1944?"
Elle...adamantly..."No, the aliens....did they invade Europe in 1944?"
Me: "What in the hell are you talking about?"
Elle: "It's in this book that I read."
Me: "And where did you get this book?"
Elle: "The school library." At this point in time I begin to panic. What kind of books do they have in the middle school library. Our school was built shortly after the invasion of Normandy...I'm thinking...maybe it's left over WWII propaganda literature.
Me: "Honey, I don't know how to tell you this, but me and Dad are the Tooth Fairy, Leprechauns aren't really, and, no, aliens did not invade Europe in 1944."
Elle: "Oh, I totally believe in Leprechauns." This conversation has just taken an even more bizarre turn.
Me: "What in the world did you have for breakfast today, child?"
Elle: (not missing a beat and COMPLETELY serious): "Lucky Charms"
At that point in time Bradley, who was also in the car about peed his pants laughing so hard!
When I queried her about why she believed in Leprechauns she told me that she was at a friends' house recently, and a group of girls were sitting around a kitchen table. One of the girls scooted her chair out to go to the bathroom, but by the time she got back, the chair was back in place. Elle deduced that a Leprechaun had definitely pushed the chair back in. I honestly didn't know whether to laugh or to call a therapist. That girl was CONVINCED that Leprechauns existed and that they could move chairs!
Incidentally, I scrounged around in Elle's room until I found the book about aliens and 1944. She should have read the book....instead of just looking at the pictures. She must have concocted a story in her head based on her understanding of the photos. The book was about crop circles throughout the world. There must have been some reference to the 1940s. Other than that, there is no logical answer to her deduction of aliens invading Europe in 1944.
She can come up with some real doozies, too. Smaller kids sometimes hear a word and think they know the meaning. Then when they try to use the word in a sentence, it can be pretty funny. I found a few of Dom's bloops written in my journal today.
1) Pig's indigestion. She was referring to sausauge and the fact that pig's *intestines" are used to case sausage. It came out "pig's indigestion," though.
2) "Mr. Randall (her 4th grade teacher) would never take money from the Governor." I'm thinking....is there some state scandal going on with the Governor paying teachers off for some weird reason. I asked her to clarify.
She said, "Mr. Randall said that no matter how poor he got, he would never take money from the Governor."
Me: "Honey, do you mean the 'government'?"
Dom: "Yeah, that."
Me: "And how did this come up in your 4th Grade classroom today?"
Dom: "Oh, we were talking about welfare."
Me: "Ooooohhhhhh, reeeeaaaalllly?" I'm not sure if you realize this or not, but teachers have TREMENDOUS influence over what kids think. Dom would say nearly every day, "Mr. Randall said....." followed by some interesting tid-bit of information. Sometimes I think Mr. Randall crossed the line, but all in all...I think he did more good than harm. He got the kids thinking.
3) "Exculsive Branch of Government." You know where this one is going....she was learning about the *Executive Branch* of government....although, some might argue that *Exclusive Branch* is not a bad name for it!