Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Grandparent Names-What Do You Call Yours? Volume II (The Sequel)

Three minutes after hitting “publish” on yesterday's post, my best friend Shanna called me.

SHANNA: “Girl, I wish I’d known you were writing about grandparents’ names, I’d have told you about my Grampa Cooter.

ME: (thinking Cooter from the Dukes of Hazzard, like maybe he was a tow truck driver or something). “How’d he get the name “Cooter?”

SHANNA: “Take me off speaker phone.”

ME: “Never mind. So was Grampa Cooter your mom’s dad or your dad’s dad?”

SHANNA: “Oh, I don’t think he was related to us or anything. Ya know how growing up, your parents have those friends that are over at the house all the time, for every holiday….and during the week…sleeping on your couch…. and using your phone to call in bomb threats to the DA’s office? Maybe I should clarify, he was LIKE a grandpa to me. Except for the restraining order.”

Shanna’s Grampa Cooter reminds me of my cousin Sugar Man. I’m guessing he’s really affectionate…or a coke dealer. Sadly, I’ve never met Sugar Man, but he’s a fabled hero in many family stories.

When I was a kid, I asked my mom what his real name was. She got onto me for being too formal.

“Quit actin’ all uppity askin’ his birth name. All you need to know is ‘Sugar Man’! If it’s good enough for the Postal Service, it’s good enough for you.”

My friend Tanya, who has an adorable new granddaughter, was telling me yesterday that her nickname (not as a grandma) is “Tata.” Then someone suggested that her grands call her “Yaya.”

TANYA: “What do you think of ‘Yaya Tata?’”

ME: “Sounds like the frantic communication of someone who has just bitten off the tip of their tongue. Or a Greek appetizer, like Spanakopita. ‘I just made some fresh Yayatata. Try some?’”

If you’ve been reading the comments on my “what do you call your grandparents” Facebook poll, no doubt you’ve laughed out loud a few times. I certainly have. And I’ve learned that it’s sort of awkward to break out in laughter when you’re doing a solo activity in a public place, like yesterday when I was writing at the library. I couldn’t help but get a little resentful about the staff members’ disdainful looks every time I’d snicker. Meanwhile, the incontinent smelling man behind me sounded like he was trying to cough up a 6-foot, barbed wire tumbleweed every 30 seconds. And they shushed ME for laughing?

Did I miss a sign reading “no laughing allowed, but patrons are welcome to spew their consumptive lung shrapnel all over our vast selection of periodicals.”

Here are a few more clever, cute and hilarious grandparent nicknames from my FB poll along with my unnecessary comments in the parentheses. And I still have enough for a Volume Three post.

Becky-“My kids call my mother Giddy.”

Tyna-“Grummer” (Grummer for Grandma reminds me of people who say “Deddy” instead of “Daddy.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Melissa-“My kids call my mother Nag-Nag. My brother helped name her this for obvious reasons.”’

Natalie-“Lovey and The Standard.” (I think Lovey is a wonderful grandma name, but The Standard? The Standard what?)

Margaret-“Toodaddy and Toomama.” (they were just over the top at everything.)

Mi-“My mother-in-law is called ‘Darlin’ and my sister-in-law is called ‘Whoopie.’” (Darlin! Every time the kids call their grandma it sounds like the beginning of a country song.)

Cherrie-“Shugie and Papa and Fefe and Peeps.”

Marla-“Honey and Boss.” (When I was a kid, we had golden retrievers named Honey and Boss.)

Cheryl-“My niece and nephew call their grandmother ‘Bear’ for reasons no one can quite fathom.”

Clare-“Geo and Poc”

Olivia-“My better half calls his grandmother ‘Moopha.’” (the perfect name if grandma's a hip-hop artist.)

Keila-“a friend’s grandmothers are ‘Mema Rideto’ (lived far away) and ‘Mema Walkto’ (lived nearby) {Those are the cutest nicknames EVER!!!!}

Pam-“Sweet P and Gag” (Don’t take it personally, Gag, unless grownups start to call you that.)

Libby-“Mopsy and Popsy” (they’re not rabbits, are they?)

Katrina-“Ra-ra and Too-ra” (can’t wait to hear the story)

Lisa-“Brad’s parents are Big Choo Choo and Little Choo Choo and my grandmother is BowWow.” (Hi, everyone, meet my grandma Little Choo Choo and my other grandma BowWow.)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Names for Grandparents...What do you call yours?

Last week I had lunch with my dear friend, Faith, whom I don’t get to see often enough. We chatted merrily over fried fish and sweet tea, catching up on PTA gossip, Pinterest failures and family news.

Faith is super excited about becoming a grandmother at the end of May. She’s all ready to meet her granddaughter …. except for one detail.

FAITH: “People keep asking what I want to be called, ya know, as a grandmother. And I can’t come up with anything. I don’t really feel like a ‘Grandma.’ That sort of denotes gray hair and Little Red Riding Hood and storing BenGay in your purse.”

ME: “What about ‘Nana’ or ‘Gigi?’ Those seem more youthful. Less BenGay, more Juviderm.”

FAITH: “Yeah, we’ll see. Maybe the right name will come up before the baby is born.”

I didn’t think about Faith’s nickname conundrum again until yesterday when Andrew told me about going over to his best friend Brady’s grandmother’s house.

ANDREW: “We changed into our baseball uniforms at ‘Munk Munk’s’ house.”

ME: “Excuse me? ‘Munk Munk?’”

ANDREW: “Yeah, that’s what he calls her.”

ME: “I hate to ask, but was there any resemblance to a chipmunk? Long striped, furry tail? Cheeks full of acorns? Was she up in a tree?”

ANDREW: “Mom! It’s just what he calls her. Ya know how people sometimes have weird names for their grandparents.”

My sister, brother and I called my dad’s mom “Granny.” She chose it for herself, shooting straight past “Nana and MeeMaw’ to the oldest sounding thing she could possibly think of. It’s like she viewed grandmotherhood as one step away from death….and a need to wear really baggy, high waisted underwear. (I can’t believe I just went there.)

My childhood friend John called his grandmother “Jocelyn” at her request, which was weird because her name was Patti. Apparently, Jocelyn is what her clients had always called her. And coincidentally, her clients were all named John. Funny how that worked out.

Sabrina, my first roommate after moving to California, called her grandpa “Spider.”

“Is it because he’s so creepy?” I asked.

“No. Didn’t you see the web tattoos on his elbows? Duh!”

“Oh, right. My bad.”

Later, Sabrina told me that lots of people call him Sixteen-Thirty-Four, and I could too if I was more comfortable with that. Apparently those numbers gained special meaning to Grandpa Spider when he lived in a resort town called Pelican Bay.

In an effort to learn more nicknames of parents’ parents, I conducted an informal Face Book poll. The responses have kept me laughing all morning.

Here are some of the funnier, more unique names I can suggest to Faith and her husband Dan, along with my tasteless and unnecessary commentary in parentheses.

 Lisa- “Spot”

Cindy - “Glamma”

Katy –“ZsaZsa” and “Cookie”

Dale-“Sugardoodle” (I’m starting to crave sweets. Thank you, Katy and Dale.)

Wendy-“Papas-the-Builder” and “Eeh.” (Don’t you think compared to Papas-the-Builder, Eeh, got the short end of the stick?)

Angel-“Lolly and Pop.” (too cute!)

Maria-“Lela and Lelo”

Whitney-“Papa Woofie” (I wonder if he’s really hairy… or howls a lot.)

Judy- “Grumpy”


Jamie-“Wheazy” (Fish don’t fry in the kitchen. Beans don’t burn on the grill! Guess what theme song I’m singing.)

Mary Ann-“GranMary” (I like that! I want my grandkids to call me Grangela.)

Gil-“Bark Bark” (really? Bark Bark? I hope it isn’t because of severely dry skin or a smoker’s voice.)

Gil-“ Pop Tart would be a good grandpa’s name.” (Why do we so often name our grandparents after food items? Maybe Faith’s granddaughter could call her “Jello.” or "Fish Taco.")

Miz Thang-“GoGo.” (I wonder if Belinda Carlisle’s grand kids call her that.)

Nicole-“Pumpkin and Poppy”

Jennifer-“Nana Boobies and Gram Cracker” (Imagine the family reunion! “Which one is Nana Boobies? Oh, wait. I bet THAT’s her.”)

Darlene-“Dardo,” pronounced “Dardoo.”

Billy-“LaLa” (not the yellow Teletubby)

Brad-“Queenie” (I’m guessing humility is not her strong suit.)

Ashley-“Gemma” (love this!)

Alexis-“Cappy” because he’s a retired airline captain” (this would also work if your grandpa’s a street thug who does a lot of drive by’s. Just sayin.’)

Good stuff! Thank you all for sharing. I’ll update this post as I receive more names. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Locker Room Toilet Paper and Eating African Violets (two topics you've never before seen together in a title)

This morning, before starting my workout I stopped into the women’s locker room to use the restroom.* Instead of being on the plastic roll thingy, the toilet paper was sitting on top of the dispenser cover, where I also set my phone and water bottle. When I finished, I picked up my things and headed across the gym to the elliptical machine. It wasn't until I’d stepped up onto the pedals that I realized I’d strolled past about 20 people carrying my phone, water and the toilet paper roll, with about eight squares dangling behind me like a two-ply tail.

Not knowing what to do with the knock-off Charmin and especially not wanting to parade past the audience again to return it to the bathroom, I decided to slide the roll onto one of the machine’s handle bars.** That’s when I heard one of the old men who works out in khakis and Rockports say,

“Dang! She ain’t gon’ stop her workout for nothin.’”

There was a woman two machines down who could’ve won a blue ribbon at the state fair with her gargantuan breast implants.*** Feeling snarky and competitive I had to fight back the urge to tear off massive handfuls of the toilet paper and stuff it into my sports bra. I thought it would be funny. But, a lot of the things I do trying to be funny just wind up embarrassing my kids and cause me to not get invited back to places.

My dad was like that too. But, somehow it always worked for him.

Apparently, one night long ago, at a dinner party, he ate the hostess’s floral centerpiece. I have a feeling that perhaps alcohol played a role. Or either he was starving and the meal wasn’t ready. Or both.

Years later, the hostess, who was then my seventh grade English teacher, shared the story with me as if it was just hilarious.

“That Robert! He does the funniest, craziest stuff. Keeps us all in stitches!”

That night at supper, seeking a few laughs for myself, I bit off a leaf of my mom’s African violet and got sent to my room for acting like a freak at the dinner table.**** The next day she made an appointment with a psychologist to have me “tested.”

How was it that when my dad did something socially unacceptable, destructive and borderline psychotic, he got laughs and crowned “life of the party.” But when I did it, my brother smacked me on the head and called me a creepy little, plant-eating weirdo?

Life’s not fair.

If my dad were here today and found himself standing on an elliptical machine with a roll of toilet paper in his hand and a bunch of people staring at him, I wonder what he would do with it.

What would you have done with it?

*No, I don’t normally start out blog posts or even conversations about going to the bathroom. I’ll probably do it regularly when I’m about 80, though. And you will too.
** I mean, where else would you put it? The drink holder was too small and the phone slot was too narrow and I didn’t want to just drop it on the floor.  
*** Well, at least the left one could've won.
****If you’re going to act like a freak, don’t do it at the dinner table. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Pip Squeaker Shoes: A Surefire Way to Make Your Toddler Want to Murder You

This morning at Walmart, I was strongly tempted to put down the cantaloupe I was checking for freshness and call DFACS about the cute, yet neurologically abusive shoes a mom was making her daughter wear. Yep, I’m sure you’ve already guessed it. They were the kind with squeakers.(Squeakers, Little Green Trike shoes, Wee Squeak Baby Shoes, Pip Squeakers Little Monkey Feet: These are some of the common street names.)

What kind of sadistic kids’ footwear company would manufacture shoes with  squeakers in the soles? So that with EVERY step the poor kid takes, he or she hears squeak, squeak, squeak. As if learning to take steady, unassisted steps isn’t difficult enough, having to deal with shrill, annoying noise pollution with each stride is just maddening.
If he could talk, this kid would say, "Fergoshsake, make it STOP!"

Hey parent, you think it’s so blasted cute watching your daughter confusedly try to figure out where that noise is coming from with each wobbly step she takes. Do YOU enjoy realizing that you accidentally selected the squeaky shopping cart at Kroger?

“Oh,freakin’ yay, for the next 45 minutes, I get to listen to that squeaky, whistling sound with every wheel rotation. Forget it! I’m going back to get another one.”  

Sure, at first the kid is mildly amused with the squeaking novelty, but after half an hour, the neurological effect rivals Chinese water torture. You silly moms probably think your kid is toddling all over the house for his own amusement. But really, he’s searching desperately for the liquor cabinet, so he can drown out the racket.

And think of the unfortunate siblings and pets who have to endure this! For those with super sensitive ears, the nervous system damage is similar to that of second-hand smoke.

(an actual defense from a squeaky shoe buying mom)

“I like them because I can hear my daughter wherever she goes. I know where she is even when she’s out of my sight.”

Sure, Mrs. Einstein, I bet your cat, the one with the anxiety disorder, has a bell on his collar too. That’s why you keep catching him stealing your Xanax. 

Here’s an idea! Put down your phone and actually watch where your daughter is running off to. Then you won’t need the squeakers. Then, 15 years from now, she won’t shoot you with a 44 Magnum while you sleep.

An actual torture video masked as toddler delight
(Did you see the little girl running and screaming to escape the auditory cruelty?)

No research has been done on the long term effects of squeaky toddler shoes (I Googled it.) But I’m pretty sure that in a few years a disturbing similarity will emerge among America’s petty thieves, arsonists, serial killers, drug abusers, sexual predators and fanny pack wearers. And the root cause will be undeniable.
Years later, the effects of Wee Squeaks will follow these two victims wherever they go. 
If you know someone who puts squeaky shoes on their child, it’s your responsibility to closely follow this person around, rhythmically sounding an air horn for hours at a time. It might also help to buy them season one of Criminal Minds on DVD. Be sure to tape photos of their precious child wearing the squeaky shoes all over the box. You might need to draw an arrow from the title down to the shoes. (some people need hints.)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Enter My First Annual Rotten Food ID Contest

Jack and I drove down to Tybee last night to spend some quality time with my mom, sister and nephews, see the St. Pat's parade and enjoy a small "after-the-fact" birthday celebration.

My sister Pamela gave me my first gift this morning.

P: (dropping a mysterious metal object in my outstretched hand) Happy Birthday!

ME: Cool! A mood ring! 

P: I prefer to call it an "external danger level indicator." You get to wear it, but it's  actually more for your friends and family and other people you come into contact with. Ya know, since you don't have a tail with rattles or the ability to shoot out ink like an octopus."

ME:  (thinking about how helpful it would be to be able to shoot out poisonous ink) Do you think I'm moody?

P: will you put it on before I answer?

11:15 am. That's me! Calm, relaxed and loveable.

ME:  What the heck? I don't feel any different!
P: You don't realize it, but you're a ticking time bomb....And you need a manicure.

I wish there had been an "OMG! What the crap is THAT!?!?!?" ring color setting for when I opened the mini fridge downstairs in search of a Diet Pepsi. 

This photo doesn't do justice to the horror I felt at discovering that someone (hopefully not a family member) had defacated in the refrigerator. 

(If someone is going to defacate in your refrigerator maybe it would be better if it was a family member. Although I can't conceive of any explanation whatsoever to make defacating in any kitchen appliance an acceptable thing to do, whether you're family or not.)

P: Do you think it could've been a leftover  pizza at one time?

(And I thought finding a rattlesnake in my dad's storage house freezer was a special kind of disturbing. Maybe this is a good lesson never to look inside any refrigerator or freezer owned by my parents.)

P: (after staring at the mysterious glob for 15 minutes)
"Maybe we should take it into the light."

So we proceeded outdoors like scientists carefully transporting a decomposing tumor of Jabba the Hutt.

What was even more unsettling than the looks of the thing was the smell. Earlier in the day I'd wondered if there was a septic backup.

After interviewing various family members about their downstairs refrigerator usage over the past six months and consulting with the CDC, we were able to positively ID the remains. And thankfully it's not feces. 

(I'm really glad because having to ask someone if they defacated in your parents' fridge is just sort of awkward.)

What do YOU think our mystery leftover is? Just leave a comment with your guess. The first correct entry will receive an authentic Dan Uggla bobblehead. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cheetos and Calvinism

Picture me sitting down at my laptop, covered in orange crumbs. I would provide a photo, but I’m a little Amish when it comes to selfies.

I think that Cheetos are the snack food equivalent to eating a slab of sauce-laden ribs (as opposed to sauce bin-laden ribs, for any Islamic readers I may possibly have). Sorry, I digressed in the first sentence again. 


Let me start over.

Eating Cheetos is like devouring a plateful of spaghetti with powdered sauce using only your hands and mouth.

That didn’t sound right either.

Cheetos are really messy! Ok? There!

(Why was that so difficult to write? Sometimes flowery language and trying to relate things to Middle Eastern pork condiments can get in the way of your main point. When I publish a book on being a better writer, I’ll have to remember to include the part about not letting condiments detract from your story. It’s like that time I tried to start my mother-in-law’s obituary with a haiku about horse radish. It just didn’t work.)

Okay, where was I?

Ah, Cheetos. (I’m still munching away on them and will need to vacuum this chair when I’m done.) They’re the only snack food that causes me to have to change clothes after eating a bag. Usually emergency wardrobe changes are reserved for falling in puddles or accidentally letting the back of your dress fall into the toilet when using the bathroom.

It just sounds lame to have to say “sorry I had to run home to change because I ate a bag of Cheetos.” And you think you can just brush the orange powder right off, but you can’t. It’s like glitter. No matter how hard you try to remove a piece of glitter from your face, it’s stuck there for a month.

Demetri Martin calls glitter “the herpes of crafting supplies” for that reason. So I guess that makes Cheetos the herpes of puffed snacks. Ew! Somehow comparing food to a recurring communicable disease just zaps the yum appeal right out of it.  

I sat down to write something sweet and touching about my dad and what the last three days have been like without him. Instead I’ve just spent 10 minutes waxing nonsensical about the inconvenience of Cheetos powder.

My friend Amy would say that it was meant to be. “Girl you weren’t being silly. God led you to write about Cheetos today because he knew that it would help a lot of people.” Amy doesn’t get upset about much that happens to her because she believes that everything is destiny, even dialing a number and getting that super loud FAX beep in your ear. It’s all meant to be. 

I once asked her if she was a Calvinist. She replied, “No, I usually wear American Eagle.”

I’m not sure what you were supposed to learn from this post. Wear gloves and a bib when eating Cheetos? Be more like Amy? Stay away from glitter? Try not to let condiments distract you?

I’ll let you decide.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Losing My Job and Getting Back My Stay-At-Home-Mom Status

DISCLAIMER: I do not and have never had an open case with DFACS. And I’ve also never stolen any copper wiring. But I have tried to color my own hair before. The results inspired the invention of Chia Pets.

Today is my first full day as an unemployed person. Sort of by choice (another blog post entirely). I’m back to being a stay-at-home mom and quite happy about it.

Yesterday, leaving Hospice Advantage for the last time, I felt like Dorothy at the end of The Wizard of Oz tearfully saying “Goodbye, Tin Man! Goodbye, Lion! Goodbye, Scarecrow!” That emotional experience taught me that most of my coworkers have never seen The Wizard of Oz. And that people really don’t like to be called things like “Scarecrow” and “Tin Man” if they don’t get the reference.

Working full time, with a husband in another state, two kids and four pets to maintain has left me frazzled beyond the help of Xanax-infused Calgon. I’ve never been one of those women who could juggle a lot.

They say to start out with scarves. And with lots of practice, you can slowly work your way up to juggling leaf blowers and livestock on America’s Got Talent. But the Youtube tutorials didn’t work for me.

Video of a Goofy Clown Guy Giving Juggling Lessons

My brother Rob was a great juggler. Growing up, he used to practice with eggs all the time, which is why we always had to have Pop Tarts for breakfast, rather than French toast. And why, to this day, people’s shoes still get stuck to my mom’s kitchen floor.

(somehow I got WAY off track. I wonder if there is an award for most unrelated tangents in a blog post. I’ll check and get back to you.)

What I meant was, I’m not one of those moms who is chief of staff at the local hospital, runs two successful side businesses, home schools her 11 children, publishes a New York Times best selling young adult series, raises her own certified organic vegetables, wins three triathlons a year, always has her kids’ raffle tickets sold before the deadline and never turns down her husband’s requests for nightly affection. Whoever she is, I hate her. I’d totally not wave at her in traffic. But she wouldn’t notice because she’d be too busy organizing a mission trip to Croatia and quizzing her kids on the Beatitudes and practical uses for Plutonium.

So, in order to preserve my sanity and get DFACS off my back, my job had to go. Which, unfortunately means that the paycheck did too. Which unfortunately means that I’ll soon be coloring my own hair, shopping at Good Will (more than I already do), collecting tin cans and stealing my neighbors’ copper wiring. As they say, resourcefulness is Godliness.

So, here I sit, at 1:51 pm, looking around my living room for the first time, thinking “so that’s what it looks like in day light!” AND I solved the mystery of why the bedroom trashcan is always turned over.

I should probably clean something. Do stay-at-home moms still do that? Wasn’t there some kind of new labor law requiring it to be outsourced to cleaning union members? I’ll look that up too.

Another cute Callie photo.
Jack is still at school and Andrew just left with the Dudley Baptist Youth Group to go on a ski retreat.

Helping him pack (my first order of business as a stay-at-home mom) was totally different from how it would’ve been if I’d had to work today.


Flying up to the middle school 10 minutes before the church bus is to leave.

ME: “Get in, Honey. We’re late!”

ANDREW: “But all my stuff’s at home. We forgot to pack it last night.”

ME: “We don’t have time to go home. You should’ve thought of that!!! What do you have with you right now?”

ANDREW: “My social studies book, a protractor, my bat bag, sliding shorts, cleats, a leftover Uncrustable from lunch and half a Gatorade.”

ME: “Perfect! Let’s roll.”


ME: “I’ve packed you enough canned goods to survive for six months after a nuclear holocaust. Things aren’t going well between us and North Korea these days. Have you even THOUGHT about that? Oh, and here’s your freshly pressed tuxedo in case you guys attend a royal wedding. And don’t forget this indestructible auto-filtration water bottle with solar powered GPS, ya know…..in case you get lost in the dessert.

(Zipping his suitcase) Oh Gosh! I almost forgot your Undead Survival Tactical Walking Axe! What kind of mother am I?


ME: “It could totally happen! Don’t act like you haven’t seen The Walking Dead! With that attitude, you’ll be the first to get eaten.”

 It wasn’t until after I’d left the church that I realized neither one of us remembered to pack him any underwear.
       (On the bus, waiting to go.)

I guess I still need more practice at this whole staying at home thing. And with juggling. Now where are those eggs?