What to do when someone gives you the bird

When we got married twelve years ago, we received some interesting wedding gifts.

A dust buster, slightly used.

A set of gaudy, crystal and gold frames that looked straight out of the Liberace museum.

An Amway coupon.

And then there was the person that gave us the bird.

No, not figuratively.  Literally.

Meet “The Bird”.

The Bird was a present from a relative who, for the sake of anonymity, we’ll just call Aunt Betty.  I admit, we had kind of a “WTH?” moment when we opened the tiny little package and discovered the painted ceramic creature.

We’re not really bird people.  Or ceramic people.  Or ceramic bird people, for that matter.

Nevertheless, I firmly believed it was the thought that mattered.  So we wrote Aunt Betty a nice little note, thanking her for thinking of us.  And then we put The Bird on a bookshelf somewhere, where the little guy quickly made fast friends with the dust bunnies.

And there he remained.

Until one day, The Bird went AWOL.

I didn’t notice his absence at first.  It wasn’t until several weeks later, when I was watering the plants, that I stumbled upon our little friend.   He was tucked in the flower pot of a big palm in our living room, peeking out from behind the leaves.

“Did you put Aunt Betty’s bird in the flower pot?” I asked my husband later that night.

“Yeah.  That thing was just so ugly,” Jay answered back, nonchalantly.  “So I decided to hide the bird.  I thought we could take turns putting it somewhere in the house.”

Again, I encountered another “WTH??” moment.

I’ll never quite know what inspired my husband to hide The Bird in the first place.  But his quirky little idea caught on.  And soon, it evolved into a game.  We began trying to one-up each other, to see who could hide The Bird in the most bizarre location in the house.

It went on for months.  Until one day, The Bird was hidden in such an obscure place, it remained hidden.  And he was forgotten.

Recently, however… a few years and a couple of kidlets later, The Bird mysteriously resurfaced.

And the rousing game of “Hide the Bird” has once again resumed in our house.  Only this time, there are four of us playing.

Can you find the bird?

The bird can often be found reading the classics. He's well-read.
... and sneaky...
And he also knows all the best spots in the house. This is totally where I'd hide if I were him.
And, sometimes, when he's hidden by a two year-old, he can be found right under your nose.

Ironically, I figure that The Bird has actually gotten more use than any other wedding present we received.  Maybe my aunt knew something we didn’t.

So, thank you, Aunt Betty.  Yours is truly the gift that’s kept on giving.

I’d love to hear: What’s the “best” wedding gift you received?

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An Oldie but Goodie: The Turkey Said Google, Google!

Thanksgiving is next week.

I know.  I’m in a bit of denial myself.  I can’t believe how fast this holiday season has snuck up on us already. 

I’ll be hosting the festivities at our house this year, which means that over the next week I’ll be busy cleaning, ordering a premade turkey from New Seasons cooking delicious homemade food, and generally making sure the house is picked up enough so that my guests don’t break a leg by tripping over random matchbox cars lying around.  And because I’ll be unusually busy with the domestic chores that I typically neglect, I’m resurrecting an old post about my first experience hosting Thanksgiving.  Enjoy.

***

Everything was all ready.

The tables were set.

The 16 paper handprint turkeys Bobo and I made were cut, glued, and set out as placecards.

The pies were cooling on the rack ordered and picked up from the bakery.

It was my first Thanksgiving dinner at my house, and I was determined that everything would be perfect.  There was just one thing left to do.

The turkey.

I had planned meticulously ahead.  I had researched spice recipes on the internet.  I had called my mother earlier in the week and grilled her about how to cook the perfect turkey.  (What kind of roasting pan should I get?  What are those little tinfoil snakes used for, anyways? How does your gravy turn out so good?  No one can make turkey gravy like my mom.)  I actually remembered to defrost the bird.  I had set the alarm to an ungodly hour so I could pop it in the oven.

I was fully prepared to cook the dickens out of my first turkey.  Or so I thought.

The morning of Thanksgiving the alarm went off at the crack of dawn.  I stumbled downstairs and groggily turned on the oven to preheat.  With one eye open, I lugged the turkey out of the fridge.  But when I took it over to the sink to wash it out, something fell out of the middle of the bird.

When I saw it lying in the sink, I yelped and jumped back a bit.  For the love of God, what WAS that?

And then I knew.  Obviously, someone had left the frank and beans in the middle of my turkey.

A slew of questions raced through my mind:

What kind of sick joke is this, anyway?
Am I being Punk’d?
What exactly am I supposed to do I do with that?
Cook it up?
Throw it away?
Use it as a garnish?

It was too early still to call my mom.  And I was more than a little embarrassed to try 1-800-BUTTERBALL.  So I turned to my old standby.  Google.

In the wee hours of the morning, I sat at the computer, Googling the phrase “turkey penis.”  Not how I envisioned starting my Thanksgiving.

Eventually, Google straightened me out.  And, suffice to say, the meal (and the turkey) turned out just fine.  But I learned a few things that Thanksgiving day.

I learned that there are some phrases you should never, ever type into Google.  Oh MY.

I learned that you can cheat and use the pre-cut, frozen mashed potatoes.  And, if you add enough butter and cream, no one will know the difference.  As long as you carefully dispose of the packaging.

I learned that my mom really does make the best turkey gravy I’ve ever tasted.

I learned that being able to have four generations of family sitting down at my dining room table is something to be thankful for, indeed.

I learned that tryptophan has no effect on children under the age of four.  Especially after three pieces of chocolate pie.

Most importantly, I learned that store-bought turkeys come with the neck and the gizzards inside the bird.  And I learned what a turkey willy does not look like.

Thank you for that, Google.

I hope you all are endowed with a wonderful Thanksgiving.

We thought we had time…

We thought we had a few more years until it all started.

The love notes.  Names of boys doodled on scrap pieces of paper.  Talk about boyfriends and girlfriends.

“She’s only in Kindergarten,” I thought, naively.  But I had no idea how early it started.

I thought I had plenty of time before my hair started really turning white.

We thought we had a few more years until dad had to dust off the shotgun to ward off potential suitors.  (Kidding, people.  We don’t even own a shotgun.  Yet.)

Apparently, we were wrong.

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Monday through Friday Momma

It’s Monday morning.

We stand at the window, watching as she runs to the bus stop.  She gets to the corner, and sucks her thumb as she waits in line, looking so tiny amongst all of the other grade schoolers.  A few minutes later, the bus comes, and she’s off for another day of adventure.

And I realize I’m once again a Monday through Friday Momma.

I knew things would change quickly for her once she got into Kindergarten.  But what I never realized is how it would impact me as a parent.

I’m a different mother Monday through Friday.  I’m no longer Saturday and Sunday Momma.

Saturday and Sunday Momma helps her daughter into her carseat.  She helps her buckle the straps, and holds her hand tightly in parking lots.  Monday through Friday Momma sends her daughter off onto the school bus every day.  She hopes her daughter has learned enough to look both ways before crossing the street, and to be careful of cars.

Saturday and Sunday Momma makes sure we have a warm coat and hat on when we go out.  Monday through Friday Momma knows that, even if the coat is sent to school, it’s often shed the moment she’s safely aboard the bus, and remains shoved in the backpack throughout the day.

Saturday and Sunday Momma makes sure the fruit and vegetables are eaten, and that at least one “no, thank you bite” of everything is eaten before dessert can be consumed.  Monday through Friday Momma is the one who tucks the cookie at the bottom corner of the lunchbox every morning, hoping it will be discovered after the carrot sticks are eaten.  She is also the same one who unpacks the same uneaten carrot sticks from the lunchbox later that afternoon.

Saturday and Sunday Momma still, on occasion, helps her daughter go potty.  The phrases “Flush!” and “Wash!” are hollered often on Saturday and Sunday.  Monday through Friday Momma remembers the fact she goes on her own, far away from home, every day, and doesn’t require any adult assistance (even if she does forget to flush at school).

Saturday and Sunday Momma will intervene on the playground if an adult is not around.  “Play nicely,” she’ll remind.  She forgets what Monday through Friday Momma already knows: that kids do not always place nicely, share or use kind words.  And there is often not an adult around to intervene.  Sometimes, they need to figure out how to resolve conflict on their own.

Saturday and Sunday Momma still thinks of her daughter as a preschooler.  Because up until a few months ago, she was a preschooler.  But she’s crossed the threshold into elementary school.

And what a difference that makes.

Monday through Friday Momma is learning, ever so slowly to let go.  She resisted it at first.  But then she realized it was inevitable.  When it came down to it, she really had no choice in the matter.

She’s Monday through Friday Momma now.

Maybe that’s why she looks forward to the weekends so much.

Gone

It’s gone.

And every time I peek through the doorway, I’m surprised that it’s not there.

It had been through a lot.  It had been urped-on, peed-on, and projectile-vomited-on.  It had been the launching pad for countless binkies, stuffed animals and sippy cups that were chucked out, trajectory style, by the little occupant within.  The thing had been plastered with stickers.  Heck, it had been used to cut teeth on.

But I hung onto it.  Because it was one of the last great markers of babyhood.

It reminded me of late night feedings.  Of stumbling into his room, my eyes halfway shut, to snuggle with a warm, hungry little infant.

It reminded me of a time, before he even arrived, that I lovingly decorated his nursery with little stars and cowboys.  When we redid his room, he decided he didn’t want no stinkin’ cowboys anymore.  “Big Boys like dinosaurs,” I was told.

It reminded me of walking into his room in the mornings, and seeing him beam and stand up, arms outstretched to greet me.

It reminded me of a time when I knew he was safe, secure and, most importantly, contained in one place in the house.  Now, he gets out of bed at will, roaming the house and stirring up mischief at ungodly hours.

When we packed it up, it reminded me that it was the last time it would ever be used.  At least by our family.

It reminded me that I could still pretend that he was my little guy.  A baby.  Now he’s a Big Boy, because he sleeps in a Big Boy Bed.

He was ready.  Even though I was not.

iPhone Photo Phun