It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Loses a Shoe. (Or an Election.)

20161128_131946As Thanksgiving 2016 winds to a close, there’s just one thing left to do: Brady and I each wrap a pinky finger around one side of the wishbone from our turkey dinner. At stake? One wish, winner take all.

It’s been a good day. Brady was in charge of the pre-dinner prayer (“thank you for all the technology”). I was in charge of dessert (pumpkin mousse pie and pumpkin cupcakes). In between, we scarfed a boatload of food: turkey, green beans, stuffing, rolls, sweet potato casserole (with toasted marshmallows), and cranberry sauce (the yummy homemade kind, not the scary jiggly canned kind). After dinner, I volunteer for Brady Entertainment Duty, which gets me out of doing dishes, although the down side is that I’m not around to supervise the divvying up of the leftovers (#AuditTheStuffing).

Brady and I decide on our wishes, and then we each give our side a big tug. Brady (with an assist from my Dad) ends up with the larger piece. I ask him what he wished for.

Brady looks up at me earnestly and says, “I wished for it to rain candy corn.”

I lower my voice to a whisper. “Did you make that wish up? So you could keep your REAL wish a secret?”

He looks at me like I’m a total moron. (He’ll probably use this look on his parents in about 10 years).

“No. That’s my wish.”

20151126_155725-1We squeeze in together for a picture and smile for the camera – Brady holding up the winning end of the wishbone and me the losing end. We’re family – and best buddies – and we always will be. After a hard-fought competition, we are ready to put aside old grievances and move forward together.

Just like America.

Ha, ha! I’m kidding, of course. Continue reading

The Disappointment Dilemma

img_3603It’s a sweltering summer day. Captain AmeriCute and I are returning from a Superhero and Sidekick outing to an indoor play gym and Target (one of his favorite destinations). I park my car in Brady’s driveway and hop out to open the back door. As Brady climbs out, I scan the back seat, and my heart suddenly drops into my stomach. My mouth is dry, and it’s hard to get the words to come out. I look at Brady, trying to keep my face neutral and my voice steady, so the fear won’t show:

“Where is Princess Leia?”

Our eyes lock, and I can see the fear overtaking Brady as well. “I don’t know!” he blurts out, looking horrified.

“Did you take her into Target?”

“No!”

Oh, Fu-, I mean, Fudgsicle. Continue reading

Butterflies

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESIs there anything more miraculous in all of nature than the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly? (Well, aside from the obvious example of coffee beans becoming gingerbread lattes). How freaking awesome would it be to go to sleep as a caterpillar and then wake up with wings?

But human transformations are still pretty darn cool. Brady continues to blossom. His first grown-up tooth is coming in to replace the one he lost, and another baby tooth is loose. He graduated from pre-school last spring, and as he told his Mommy at bedtime the other night, “I think I’m getting the hang of this kindergarten thing.” (Last week, I asked him what the best part of kindergarten was, and he said, “snack time.” Yep, we’re related).

And I’ve discovered that even grownups can still go through a butterfly-like transformation. You never really know when life is going to wrap you up in a colossal chrysalis and work its magic. Continue reading

Faking Out Fear

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESCaptain Batten and the crew of the Rusty Crutch had never lost a sailing ship to raiding pirates. At the first sign of trouble, the Captain would shout, “First Mate! Fetch my red shirt!” Then donning the red shirt, Captain Batten would lead his crew to victory against the invading party.

The First Mate eventually grew curious and asked what was so special about the red shirt. “If I am wounded in battle,” Captain Batten explained, “the red shirt will hide the blood – so that the crew can continue to fight without fear.”

Then one day, the ship’s lookout yelled, “Captain! FIFTY pirate ships right ahead!”

The First Mate shouted, “Captain! Shall I bring your red shirt?”

Captain Batten bellowed back, “Yes! And fetch my brown pants!”

I have a secret. I’m afraid.

I’m at the park with Captain AmeriCute. He immediately heads for the highest horizontal bar, scrambling up fearlessly, swinging back and forth three feet above the ground, and then executing a leaping dismount worthy of an Olympic medalist. Brady is all smiles and giggles as he smacks into the sand. I, however, am doing my best to not lose my lunch. I point out the lower bar, the one where his toes dangle a mere inch from the ground, and explain to Brady that it would be MUCH more fun to swing from that one. We make it back to Brady’s house without any injuries, and I breathe a huge sigh of relief. Continue reading

Getting my MBA (Master of Being an Auntie)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESDuring the 1990s, I enrolled in night school to get an MBA. My dad was pleased because this effort would expand my skill set and hopefully enhance my future career opportunities. My mom was pleased because this effort would expand my dating pool and hopefully enhance my future marriage opportunities.

I graduated three years later (still single – sorry mom), and received a piece of paper that said to the world, “I have smarts! I have skills! I have several thousand dollars in student loan debt!” Along the way, I did learn some useful stuff. Like how to read a financial statement. How to prepare a sales forecast. How to use Deming’s PDSA Cycle to complete process improvements. How to cook the books of a multi-national corporation and retire with a boatload of embezzled funds to an uncharted island somewhere in the Pacific.

Ha, ha! Just kidding about that last one. I actually don’t have a retirement plan at the moment, unless you count the fact that I am thinking about giving up my weekly Starbucks Venti Mocha Frappuccino and using the extra money to buy lottery tickets. And yes, as a matter of fact, I am fully aware that this is a sorry excuse for a retirement plan. I have smarts, remember?

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESBut anyway, over the last few years, I’ve been working on another MBA: Master of Being an Auntie. Brady, my pint-sized teacher, is awesome, the dress code is super casual (goofy socks optional), and I won’t have to go into debt to complete the program. Well, probably not. In addition to tempting me with offerings that cover my usual vices (books and music), Amazon now insists on sending me regular e-mails filled with awesome books and toys that Captain AmeriCute would like. During the holiday season, I pretty much end up eating off of cardboard Prime boxes because I can’t find my dining room table. Continue reading