Days 3 and 4: Everybody’s getting married in Helsinki

Midlife Sentence | Uspenski Cathedral, Helsinki

The days are starting to run together at this point, so that’s the perspective you’re going to get from this blog now, dear reader. If anything you’ve read heretofore made any sense whatsoever in the first place, that’s probably outside the norm, anyway.

Regarding our last day in Copenhagen, remember that thing where I said ‘Mike kept testing the gods, saying things like “I thought it always rained here? You guys are just pulling my leg.”?’

You knew that meant rain in our future, right?

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We’re Mostly Perfect For Each Other

Manic Mumbling | We're Mostly Perfect For Each OtherThis week we celebrate the silver anniversary of an event that almost didn’t happen because I’m a flake, and back then I was worse.

The summer I graduated from college, Mike drove me home and we started talking about our shared, bucolic vision of owning horses and rearing children who would wear gingham and have double names we could holler from the front porch like proper folk. Mike thought naming a kid Cletus would be hilarious, so we agreed to give at least one kid a single name just to make fun of.

That was all before we realized both horses and children make an awful lot of poop, and also that picking out a baby name based on how much it made us giggle would be kind of cruel.

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We have been doing it all wrong

8058562257_2328ffa1a4_z“Nothing against the way you and dad did things, but …”

When a conversation with one of my kids starts like this, it’s time for my poker face. Whatever he has to say is likely to conjure up an “oh reeeaaally,” followed by a “let me tell you a thing or two about a thing or two …”

…which is a good way to shut down a conversation with the under 20 set. Or, anyone for that matter.

In our case, this smooth entre into conversation always precedes something that can be filed under: You’re Doing It Wrong. Subsection: No Offense

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Think YOU can mess with Texas? A mini Houston tour recap.

The George R. Brown Convention Center. Which I nearly destroyed
The George R. Brown Convention Center. Which I very nearly destroyed.

Houston folks may have thought their little ol’ convention center was in the middle of a billion dollar (yes, I did say billion … with a b) renovation.

That was before I got there.

Subsequent to an inopportune brush with fate and my big fat elbow, they’re going to have to add another couple hundred thou to that figure. That’s just a rough estimate, though. I’m no architect.

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Houstonians may be able to deal pretty well with flooding, but they clearly need to be warned to batten down the hatches and stock up on Krazy Glue when I come to town. Thankfully, the damage done was contained, and apparently won’t impede preparations for the 2017 Super Bowl, which is when the Marriott Marquis Houston, with it’s Texas-shaped rooftop pool (yes, I did say Texas-shaped rooftop pool) is scheduled to open.

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Searching for the perfect icebreaker

icebreakerI’m supposed to come up with an icebreaker for an upcoming workshop, and all I can think of is … beer pong.

I’m not big into icebreakers, something to which anyone who’s ever thrown me any kind of shindig can attest. For about as long as I can remember, my main party requirement has been NO games. Not one. Nada, or I’m leaving.

These days, if someone’s throwing a party for me, and I want to avoid looking like a total jerk, I’ll concede, but only if it’s a drinking game. That’s it.

It’s not that I want all the guests to get loaded, it’s just that my request usually ends up translating into no games, just like I want. Maybe the event in question is too polished for boozing it up. One time I was pretty sure it was because nobody wanted to get their butt kicked in beer pong by a pregnant woman at her own baby shower. ‘Fraidy-cats.

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Homecoming, Halloween and a cure for those distraught over bacon

It’s been a while since we’ve visited our alma mater, University of Idaho, and it almost took an act of God to get us all in the car and on the road in time to actually get there before dark. It’s a six-hour drive to Moscow from here.

We’ve been meaning to get up there more often. At one point we’d made it an annual gig during football season. But years have gone by. Last year there was a huge snowstorm that would have made travel hellish. Other years there was work, or kids’ stuff. Sometimes it’s hard to get hotel reservations on big game weekends like this one.

It’d been a rough week. Mike has taken on a big project and has had his nose to the grindstone. I’d spent hours schlepping Jack from home to his school in Timbuktu and back again since he wrecked his car. Colin had just learned about his beloved bacon’s fall from grace. It’d been hard for him to take. He’d been peppering me with questions ever since (how MUCH bacon? What KIND of cancer? When?). It’s ridiculous. I’m not a scientist, people.

So a car trip with friends through the mountains and north to the rolling hills of the Palouse to see our favorite campus at probably the most beautiful time of the year was a salve.

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Photo by Hip Shooter
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Betty, Bill Gates, and Beer Pong

young-betty2Originally, today’s post lamented the lack of beer pong at baby showers.

No, really, it did. This is an important conversation to be had.

However, I recently also realized that today is World Polio Day, which is another subject that speaks to me, although it occupies a different part of my consciousness than beer pong.

You may remember that my grandmother lived with us for the better part of five years when the kids were little. Before that, I knew her mostly as the curly haired lady who lived far away, watched a lot of Lawrence Welk when she and Grandpa visited, and sent one or two crisp dollar bills in a card every birthday.

When she moved to town, after the death of her second husband, it didn’t take long before her regular anxiety attacks and inconvenient trips to the emergency room helped us realize that independent living wasn’t her thing. We had moved our little family into a much larger home, down the street from my parents, and there was space for a full apartment in the basement.

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Teen Drivers and the Tao of Natural Consequences

2015-10-Life-of-Pix-free-stock-photos-man-night-smoke-red-Joel-CampbellWhen the kids were little, I was known for making threats that would be difficult, inconvenient or downright impossible to carry out.

Mostly, this consisted of vowing to deposit a passenger or two on the side of the road if they didn’t stop arguing, or to “turn this car around” when we all knew wherever it was we were headed was someplace I particularly wanted to be.

I loved the whole “natural consequences” idea the Love and Logic practitioners touted. I gave it a good, college try for a while.

I rarely got it right, though. Somehow “I’m sorry your inability to clean your room has resulted in your being late to the birthday party because you can’t find your shoes,” always morphed as it was coming out of my pie hole.

What my kids ended up with was usually more like: “I’m sorry you can’t find your shoes, jeez, what HAPPENED to your ROOM? Oh MOTHER OF ALL THINGS HOLY WHAT WOULD IT TAKE TO BE ON TIME FOR ONCE?”

Like that … but with more profanity.

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Autumn is awesome. You shut up.

104HAmong the latest Internet hate-fest rampages is the subject of autumn. I don’t get it. People seem to have lost sight of the fact that pumpkin spice lattes signal the end of the asphalt-melting, sweating-out-your-eyeballs, my-lawn-is-crispy-but-I-no-longer-care season.

But I haven’t.

True, summer around here has yet to come to an abrupt end. It’s still that time of year where the jacket I wear in the morning is something I come regret like that 9th grade mash-session with the kid from band club by about noon. At least the nip in the morning air heralds a season where I look forward to no longer worrying about whether I’m overdue for a pedicure. See ya, sandals.

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Don’t make me shop with these people

109H

Do you want to know what I enjoy more than clothes shopping for myself?

… That is to say, more than hauling my carcass to some monolithic mecca of commercialism smack in the center of an asphalt plane crowded with cars? More than wandering through crowds of gabby, smelly shoppers and their sticky progeny meandering four abreast at a rate one might compare to plate tectonics? More than perusing aisles crammed with textiles which, regardless of how they look on a mannequin, will transform me into something lumpy and wan in the warped dressing room mirror under fluorescent lighting not fit for a morgue?

Want to know what I enjoy than that?

I enjoy taking my younger son shopping for clothing. That, my friends is a real treat.

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