Cross THAT Off the Bucket List

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I’ve been playing musical instruments since 4th grade, starting when my mom brought me back a little silver fife from Williamsburg, Virginia. I played it for hours. My brother Sean, a first grader at the time, tried to play his but he couldn’t and said it was “stupid” and “girly” and then I had two fifes.

(He would later go on to be a fantastic trumpet player that could hit the highest of high F’s after not playing for a year, but gave that up for FOOTBALL…)

I played flute in 5th grade, then Mom then dusted off her clarinet and I started playing that in 7th. I couldn’t stop practicing, I loved it so much. I would tape myself on a cassette recorder (for the youngins, it was something we old-timers used to record music with) playing one part, then rewind and have a duet with myself.

Good times.

I played all through high school, then packed the clarinet away before leaving for my freshman year at Kent State where I was majoring in elementary education.

That year, I was MISERABLE without playing.  After 6 + years of playing my clarinet, I missed it, but what could I do? I was too shy and figured everyone at the music building were Juilliard caliber players.

Then it happened.

I heard the soundtrack to “The Little Mermaid” and decided right then and there to change my major to music. I went home, got the clarinet, and practiced in the dead of night at the music building so none of the music majors could hear me in case I sucked real bad.

I auditioned, made it into the school and got a scholarship to boot. I was so excited to change majors.

I met my best friend, Diane, the 2nd day of my sophomore year, the fall of 1991. I walked into the band room, and had NO clue where to sit. You have no idea how terrifying that is…everyone knew everyone, and I was freaking out that I would accidentally sit in the flute section, the HORROR.

Thankfully, Diane recognized me from our clarinet class the day before, and yelled: “Hey, come sit by me!” I loved her that moment, and 24 years later we are still best friends.

In college, I played clarinet, then became the Eb clarinet player (it’s like a piccolo clarinet) for the school. At least I played it for most of the pieces, unless a greedy clarinet grad student took my part because there was a great solo in it. BUT I’M NOT BITTER.

I’m still bitter. 

With all the opportunities,  I wasn’t satisfied with just playing clarinet, I needed to play everything I could get my hands on. Luckily I was indulged greatly by the music faculty, and during my years as a music major I played: piccolo, flute, alto flute, bass flute, oboe, Eb clarinet, Bb clarinet, Bass clarinet, contra-bass clarinet, alto, tenor, and baritone saxes, and accompanied soloists on the piano.  I was the person that played what no one else wanted to.

One thing I really wanted to do, though, was direct sing. I thought I had a decent voice, but was so unsure of it that I botched all of my singing auditions in high school. One time, I pretended to have a cold when auditioning for “My Fair Lady” and ended up getting the role of a MAN with 3 lines.  My singing was then limited to a few karaoke sessions at dive bars but only after a few wine coolers.

Hardcore.

I eventually sang in church for a few years, but was always uncomfortable. I decided that one day, I would find the opportunity to sing with a band and belt out something before I die.

Then the community band director mentioned needing a vocalist for “Blue Moon.” In a rare moment of “OMG I WANT IT, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE LEMME HAVE IT!” I asked if I could audition right there. He looked startled and had an “oh-crap-what-if-she-sucks-then-I’ll-have-to-figure-out-how-to-say-no” face, but he let me, and next thing I know, I’m in.

I made it!

So the concert was June 20th, and I got up on stage in a middle school auditorium and sang my heart out. I was not even a little bit nervous, and I’m not sure why. Before a clarinet recital in college I would be ready to hurl 3 seconds before going on stage then break into uncontrollable yawning.

Not this time. I had a lot of friends and family come to see me. The best parts were my husband waving to me like a goober from the very back of the room, my twins yelling: “That’s my mommy!”, and my own mommy beaming at me from a few rows from the front. (She told everyone afterwards: “This is my BABY!”)

Scratch that off the bucket list.

I need to get started on my other items, such as finishing my novel and making millions of dollars, meeting Jon Stewart, and getting my 5 year olds to wipe their butts consistently.

That last one is going to be a doozy!

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Bird Mocking – You Know You’ve Done It…

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There was one day last week (just one) where I could actually open my windows without dying of Ohio humidity induced sweat-death. It’s so nice to have fresh air. As I was standing in my kitchen, breathing in the scent of, well, air, I heard a bird whistle.

“Dee, doo.”

Without thinking, I whistled back: “Dee doo.”

Silence.

Then a quieter “Dee, doo?”  (I swear I heard the question mark at the end.)

So I thought I would try to converse and gave back a “Dee, doo!” As in, “YES, I was whistling at you!”

Silence.

Then a pissed off sounding: “Dee, doo, doo, dee, doo!”

Well! I never! I gave it right back to him, adding an extra “DOO!” at the end.

Next thing you know we’re engaged in a birdcry whistle battle fight. This went on for a good 5 minutes, getting more and more heated as the whistling went on.

The bird got closer and closer to the house as we were fighting, then suddenly it ended with Mr. Bird yelling a final authoritative: “DEE. DOO!”

I’m not sure what we were talking about, but either he was going to send his minions after me, or we’re going out for drinks later.

The strangest thing about all of this, was a day or two after my bird fight, I noticed a new resident on my front porch…I think it’s a sentry to keep me in line. Unfortunately, it won’t stick around to chit chat…probably because the kids named it “Dolly Bear”…so embarrassing.

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If Animals Could Talk…

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Today I was sweeping the driveway and a bird hopped about 5 feet away from me with a worm hanging from its mouth. Without thinking I said: “Hi birdie!” (For the record, I know he wasn’t going to talk back.)

He looked over at me and stared while the worm was desperately trying to wriggle out of his mouth, hopped a few more inches towards me, then a truck drove by scaring him, and he flew away.

Boring story, I know. But what if it happened like this:

Me: (Sweeping, sees bird) “Hey, Johnny! How are you doing today?”

Johnny: (speaks English just because) “Cwwie!” Turns, spits out worm on the ground. “Sorry, I shouldn’t talk with my mouth full! Carrie, I’m doing great! Just found me a big old breakfast, gonna surprise the Missus with it in a few.”

(Worm wriggling away at -45mph)

Me: “Well, don’t let me keep you! By the way, could you tell Adam to stop pooping on the kids’ swingset?”

Johnny: “Oh man, that kid is gross, and he refuses to eat anything that isn’t blue.”

Me: “Um, yeah, I noticed.”

Johnny: “I’ll have a chat with him, feather – to – feather. Bye now!” Spies the worm that made it 3 centimeters away, scoops it up, flies away.

MUCH BETTER STORY.

The other day there was something going on in my woods. There was an epic amount of birds flying around that would have made Alfred Hitchcock nervous. They were squawking and flying and screeching and I was sure there were zombies out there.

I would have loved to be able to go out there and say: “HEY! What the heck is going on out here?”

Then Johnny would come down and say: “Oh-Em-Gee, Carrie, Cindy’s eggs just hatched. Two of the babies are red, and one is blue. The blue one is from another birdy daddy…it’s gonna be on like Donkey Kong.”

Better than zombies any day!

Try to Argue with 4 Year Old Logic…

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My 4 year old twins are hysterical. The stuff they come up with makes me laugh so hard, it hurts. One reason I became a teacher for the elementary grades is because the younger students are (mostly) innocent and look at the world from a different perspective. The way they try to make sense of things is so beautiful and they often have a logic that would make Mr. Spock (R.I.P.!) crack a smile.

Last night, the kids went to bed a little late. The husband and I were pretty tired and just ready for them to sleep. Andy has a cold and REFUSES to use tissues (gag) and his eyeballs were the size of basketballs. He NEEDED to sleep. We told them they needed to be quiet. No talking. Just go to sleep.

We weren’t downstairs for more than 3.5 minutes when we heard thumping, and giggling, and loud talking. The Twinion Conspirators are at it again.

“Wuke, I am you fodder!”

“Noooooooo, don’t cut my hand off, fodder! AHHHHHHH!”

“I have to! It was in da movie.”

“Nooooooooooo!”

I race upstairs, and open the door. They do that thing that must be instinctual for little kids where they flop down on the bed and instantly play dead, like I didn’t see them just jumping around like loons.

“Boys, didn’t we say you needed to be quiet? Tyler, Andy is sick, he needs rest. You are so loud, we can’t even hear the TV!”

Andy won’t stop giggling, probably from the Zyrtec and Nighttime Dr. Cocoa medicine combo.

Tyler looks at me, dead serious: “Mommy, you said we couldn’t talk, but our toys need to, so that’s why we’re talking so wowd. They need to play, not us!”

I’m dumbfounded and impressed. He was right, we didn’t say the toys couldn’t talk.

“Um, ok, well can Luke and Darth Vader keep it down?”

More Andy giggles.

Tyler sighs a deep, why-do-I-put-up-with-her? sigh and says: “We will try, my princess mommy. Dark Vader IS evil you know, and wikes to get us in trouble.”

I wish I were a celebrity so camera crews could follow these two around and capture all of these moments. Then I would make a documentary and show it to every girlfriend.

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I Gave Birth to a Clown…

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Not the disturbing “IT” clown, or the creepy “Poltergeist” puppet clown that have both individually scarred me for life, but a regular old, fun-loving actual clown. A 4.5 year old clown with no way of controlling his random spaz movements, or about 99.999% of what comes out of his mouth.

And I love it.

Our twins are definitely representative of my husband and I. Andy is loud, a ham, thrives on attention and making people laugh, is creative, quirky, and breaks almost everything he touches.

Like me.

Tyler, on the other hand, is a serious little monkey. He needs to know how everything works, and likes to pull things apart, then put them back together, then pull them apart, then put them back together, ad nauseam. He is quietly funny, likes to be alone in a room of people, and likes to imagine.

Like my husband.

Of course when either one of them is acting like a jerkhead, we like to say the child got that from the other parent. Who doesn’t do that?

So, the clown, my Ando Bonando:Andy the Clown

He likes to break into random dancing like Elaine on Seinfeld, and there’s nothing he won’t dance to. He does the “worm” standing up, then falls onto the floor, does a handstandand just stays like that for a few minutes. I call it Abstract Breakdancing. He bursts into Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive” while banging on the piano, and loves the beginning of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”.  He likes to talk to adults, and he says the most awesome things.

Today, he was talking about his teacher, Ms. Stacey.

Andy: I think Ms. Stacey is engaged. ( I didn’t think he knew that word)

Me: No, she’s married, honey.

Andy: (eyes wide) To the MUFFIN MAN????

Me: (likes to go with it) The one on Drury Lane?

Andy: Well, there is only one muffin man, mom

’tis true, I know of no other muffin man.

He’s also very blunt, crude, and kinda gross.

We were at the McDonald’s play area the other day, and he and Tyler were playing with a little girl they just met. (They call girls “girdle”)

Andy says LOUDLY:

“I smell farts. I can taste them in my mouth! Hey, girdle, are you farting???”

I died for a minute.

He is in love with “Shrek the Musical” and screams at anyone that will look at him: “WHAT ARE YOU DOIN’ IN MY SWAMP?!”

He wants toys and costumes that don’t exist and if he had his way, he’d be wearing a Doctor Doom costume and carrying around a 4 foot Buzz Lightyear toy that will clean his room for him.

I hope he’s always this carefree, although not too much in school.

I don’t want to have a permanent chair in the principal’s office.

Words and Phrases That I Hate…

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You know how there are some things people say that make you cringe? I have a few of those. They are either not actual words or they invoke a feeling of oogieness I cannot shake.

Please to enjoy the following:

1. Irregardless – YES, I know it’s in the dictionary, but it says it’s nonstandard, which is a nice way of saying: “OMG, we totally know it’s not a word, but since people keep saying it all the damn time, we’re just gonna stick it in here.”

Regardless means: “Without regard”, sticking the “ir” on it, makes it a double negative and I ain’t got no time for that.

2. Preggers – The most bass-ackward way of saying pregnant. It makes me want to rip off the ear lobes of the person who says it and then sew them back on upside down.

3. Fester – This word brings to mind an image of unhealed, moist, infected wounds and bald Uncles.

4. Feces – I know it’s the technical term, but for some reason “poop” is just way less gross. Say it with me: Fee – Sees

5. Bosom – I’m pretty sure it’s because I used to watch “Bosom Buddies” and called it “BOZE-EM” and my mom made fun of me. Plus just look at it for a minute, it just looks weird.

6. Broad – I hate it when men call women a “broad”. I want to yell: “Hey, great-great grandpa, 1914 called, and they want you back!”

7. Maggot – *full body shiver*

8. “Cheaper to Keep Her” – Nothing says love more!

9. “Old Ball and Chain” – See #8

10. “It is what it is”: It has to be what it is, or it would be what it isn’t, and that would blow everyone’s minds.

11. “Could care less” – Now, if you could care less, that means you still care a little. If you don’t care at all, and have no more caring about it to do, then you couldn’t care less.

There are more words and phrases that irritate me, but in keeping with my G – PG13 rated rants, I will refrain.

This broad’s outta here.

 

Feel the Power of the Elf on the Shelf!

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I did something kinda bad last night.

I made my kids cry, and deep inside, where my cockles are, it gave me a HUGE happy.

They were being ROTTEN, and I WANTED them to cry.

(Ok, in their defense, I didn’t try to redirect them, or pay attention to them, or feed them, but STILL, acting like the end of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, is no bueno.)

So, the Elf on the Shelf, named Shredder, has a lot of power in my house. At least for a minute or two. Telling the kids that Shredder is going to tell on them helps keep them in check for about 56.8 seconds.

We ONLY move the Elf at night after the kids go to bed, on days they are being punkasses bad listeners. THAT way, they know they need to try harder.

Last night, I was on my last nerve, and that was even my last reserve nerve, of which I had about 5,000 stored up in my nerve reserve holder. I was about to lose my mind. I was trying to wrap presents, and they had to wrestle RIGHT THERE.

I was trying to eat dinner and they were wrestling RIGHT THERE.

I was trying to Pee, for crying out loud, and they were wrestling RIGHT THERE!!!

So, when they weren’t looking, I grabbed the Elf off the shelf and hid it in my underwear drawer, ’cause that’s how I roll.

I walked into the family room and said loudly: “Oh, NO. THAT’s NOT GOOD!”

The kids came running, and I pointed to the empty space on the shelf.

I said: “Oh, Wow, guys, Shredder was so irritated that he left WHILE YOU WERE STILL AWAKE to tell SANTA you’ve been bad!”

Instant wailing.

Like at an Italian funeral. ( I can say that, as those are my people).

“I DON’T WANT SANTA TO BE MAD!” one wails.

“I’M NOT GONNA GET ANY PRESENTS!” the other wails.

They were so loud, I shut the pocket doors to the family room, and sat in the living room with my equally irritated husband and we giggled.

Hard.

The Elf has power. Not like Grayskull power, but that little creepy thing is a wielder of something helpful here and there.

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