Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I think we should go now

My parents came to visit. The weather was great, so we took a walk down the gravel road in front of our rural home. Midnite, our 90lb jet black Lab/Samoyed mix, was walking along with us. Dusk was just arriving and the air was crisp and inviting. A perfect night for a walk. At least until Midnite darted into the woods and came out with the neighbor's cat.

I don't think I have ever seen that look on my parents' faces before that moment or since. They looked at the dog, at the cat, and then at me. In totally non-Shelley fashion, I calmly took the cat from the dog, walked over to the woods and then walked into the woods. I came out alone a short time later, looked at my parents and said, "I think we should go now."

We didn't speak of that moment again until after we moved.

Monday, April 29, 2013

I won't read your meter

Ring, ring...bang, bang, bang. Hello.
Hey there.
I am your water meter reader and I am afraid I cannot read you meter until you kill the spider.

MICHAEL!!!! We have a problem. Actually you have a problem. There's a spider at the water meter.
Well the water guy says he won't read it until we kill it.
Fine we won't pay the bill until he reads it.
Michael, kill the spider.

2 cans of Black Flag later...
It's not going to die.
Okay, we'll just set it on fire, get some gas.
Are you crazy?
Yes, yes I am

That was disgusting

I am reminded of my first day in North Carolina in 1990. We moved there for my job when Erica was just 1. As we were walking around our apartment that July day, I walked into the bathroom. As I looked around I saw there at the side of the toilet THE largest spider I have ever seen. It was about 3 feet in diameter and I think had a tattoo of Chuck Norris on its leg. Okay maybe that is a slight exaggeration. I instantly went into Super Shelley Spider Slayer mode and stepped on it.

It was at that moment my life changed. I could feel the bones through my shoe. Aaaaarrrrrggghhhhh aaaaahhhhhhhhhh! I started doing that spastic dance you do when something totally grosses you out. Clearly North Carolina was used in secret nuclear experiments in the 80s.

That was just the first of many spiderific episodes that I will recall from my time in the southern wilderness.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

What I think about college graduations

1988: Oh My God, make them stop talking. Just give me my degree.

2013: OMG, make them stop talking and singing. Just give her the degree.

Friday, April 26, 2013

C-A-R-N-I-V-O-R-O-U-S carnivorous

L-I-N-I-E-R linier. I'm sorry that is incorrect. Please sit down.

That's what started it all when I was 11. It was the city spelling bee and I came in third. I was upset to say the least. So I took a year off because the stress was incredible and...yeah, that's crap. Actually my confidence was shaken, I didn't want to lose again with that many people watching, so I waited until I was 13 and then it was game on. Eighth grade - I studied relentlessly. Then the day came.

It was serene really. I still remember how great I felt. I wore my yellow CHiPs Poncherello Tshirt and jeans. I loved Erik Estrada. He was so handsome. Remember the episode when he crashed his police issued motorcycle and was on death's doorway on the show because in real life he crashed his bike and was seriously injured? That was high quality TV programming.

Away we went to the bee. The place was packed. Round after round, word after word. Finally it was down to Mark F-something and me. I want to say Freebee. It was something like Frieje. His name was right after mine in the alphabet. He always, let me repeat, always got one point more or a percentage point higher than me on everything. He was my arch nemesis. His smug little self sitting behind me in class always with the right answer. I hated that. He was so irritating. He was short, blonde, and brilliant. Yep totally opposite of what I was looking for. Funny how when my girls were growing up I told them to latch onto those ones. "They have the high power earnings potential," I would say. They would "grow into" themselves in college is what I told them. Its true, think about it. You know at least one boy like that.

He probably was a great little kid. He just needed to have an accident so I could be number one in the class. Geez vindictive a little? Ah, I digress - back to the bee. My mom had to leave the room. Later she said she felt like she was going to vomit.

He got his word - baccalaureate. Somehow he spelled it wrong. I couldn't believe it. Neither could he. He had won the bee two years earlier when linear had taken me out of contention. He turned to me and said "that's it, you've won." I said, "not yet, you never give up until its done." The mic picked up our little exchange. I spelled his word and then came mine. Done. Victory.

I loved my Poncherello shirt. I made sure they got it in its full glory in the newspaper story. I kept that shirt for years. Funny how I thought the spelling bee was so important. That beating Mark was so important. When in the end, it was way more important that I become Erik Estada's wife.

I remain an excellent speller.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I hear the secrets that you keep when you're talking in your sleep...

Dreams have always fascinated me. I mean we've all had dreams that we think WTF?!!

My brother used to be a very active dreamer. And by active I mean he did in real time what he was dreaming about. One in particular that comes to mind is the time he was dreaming he was swimming in a race. He was swimming up on that top bunk and did a flip turn right off the edge onto the floor. My mom came in and he was still swimming on the floor. She was amazed he didn't kill himself. I don't think he even hurt himself. He was a talker too. My mom would get him just talking crazy in his sleep. It was funny.

My eldest was a sleepwalker as a kid. There is nothing, I mean nothing more creepy to a person who is already scared of the dark and has been visited by ghosts than having a child who moves about at night. There were two times that to this day I am still amazed I survived. I clearly should have had a heart attack. One time I was sound asleep when I felt a soft breeze on my cheek. My childhood experiences reminded me not to open my eyes until I had a plan. Once I collected my fear and reconciled the fact that death was probably imminent, I opened my eyes expecting to be attacked and killed. Instead there she was standing next to the bed just staring at me. I have always been told you don't wake the sleeping so I just led her back to her bed. She didn't remember it. The second time I awoke to find her standing at the end of our bed staring at us and talking. I am pretty sure she was putting a hex on us. At least that's the story I'm sticking to. It makes the event more fun to talk about. When that movie Paranormal came out, I was like really? How about you pay me for using my life events...except for the killing. I think that was dramatic license.

My own dreams have been vivid over the years. The recurring one is the one that really fascinates me. Everyone probably has one. Mine is that I either fall off an incredibly tall building or I am swinging and I jump off, go incredibly high and then start falling. Every time the outcome is always the same, even since I was little. I always find a way to cushion my fall...always. I either am able to grab a ledge or a pole to slow my descent or somehow keep myself going just a little further until I am able to make a safe landing. I now realize what it means. I don't ever let things beat me. Things may not go my way, but I don't give up. I keep working on a solution.

My worst nightmare though was after the birth of my first child. I had a dream that someone came into her room and tried to kill her. That dream got me up and talking. I popped up on the bed, jumped off the edge, really gave myself a nasty bruise as I beat the hell out of the nonexistent killer. My husband woke me and was like WTF?! Actually there was another time I dreamed of spiders and did the same thing. I guess murderers and spiders fall in the same category for me.

What do you dream about and what secrets do you tell in your sleep?

Friday, April 19, 2013

No fear like this fear

As all the events unfold around us this week, the only thing that even allows my mind to come close to understanding how people feel is the day our middle daughter got lost. Yes, responsible parenting continues...

As a little girl, her voice was like a song. That cute curly blonde hair and blue eyes, she charmed everyone. We were at the State Fair with my parents. She was holding grandpa's hand as we walked through the crowds. We moved with her two sisters across to the other side of the road and in an instant she was gone.

Now one thing to keep in mind is that she was a wanderer. She was so happy and so in the moment that keeping a hold of someone's hand wasn't foremost in her little happy mind. We knew that, but this moment made it real.

I can tell you every move everyone made from that moment on. It was like time slowed. I checked to see that the other girls were secure. Then I could not find a police officer fast enough. The one I did find probably still remembers me. I grabbed his arm. I began telling him every detail about her from the pink overalls and white shirt to her height and coloring. As he looked sternly at my spider-monkey 5'2" frame, he told me to let go of his arm. I said, "you aren't moving fast enough. Do I need to find a more competent officer?" Now that is how you charm someone into wanting to help you.

He was on his radio and in the next minute he said, "we have your daughter." I bet not 5 minutes had passed but it was a lifetime. In that time you remember everything you have ever done wrong and are sorry for it (okay that took a few moments considering the volume). You tell God that you will be better if only you receive this one thing.

I arrived at the State Police post and there she was. Sitting on the counter with the Assistant Attorney General just chatting away all happy. She was like, "Momma!" I thanked everyone profusely and away our reunited family went.

She hates this story and dreads when I tell it. It was 18 years ago, but as I think about it, it is as crisp in my mind as yesterday, maybe even this morning.

After that fun event, we put her on a little kiddie lead when we went places. I never let go of her again and as she gets ready to graduate the end of this month, I think I will be getting that lead out again so I can't let her go of her now...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Safety Scissors

That's right folks, Only cuts through paper! No sharp edges. Safe for children 4+.

My girls loved playing dress up: darkwing duck (otherwise known as clothespin towel cape girl), mighty morphin power ranger (otherwise known as clothespin towel cape girl), and on occasion the amazing haircut girl (otherwise known as mischievous curly auburn headed girl lacking parental guidance).

As dad slept on the couch, almost two-year old Emmy decided she was going to be a hairdresser. She chose her weapon of choice and person of choice: Safety scissors and Erin with her long blonde curly hair. Emmy stood behind her sister who was seated on a little plastic chair talking happily in front of the Barbie "something or other" mirror table. Now you say, no worries. You read the package. It is not possible that those scissors cut more than paper.

After careful evaluation and personal research, they cut whatever you want them to. They just don't put your eye out on the first attempt. Erin had short curly blonde hair after that day.

You would think we young parents would learn...but, no. There will be many more stories of our idea of responsible parenting.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

You can sweat where?

As I sit here in Asia, I am reminded of many things. The heat as it beats down upon me, big bugs - really big bugs, holding on to my organs, and Jack Sparrow - Captain Jack Sparrow.

Now the thing that is bothering me the worst is the sweating. I do not seem to recall in the summers of my youth sweating like this in 90 degree heat. I certainly don't remember butt sweat. What the hell kind of deal is it when you can sit down at a pleasant cafe for a cool drink and look as though the drink moved straight through you as you stand up. Butt sweat. It is the evil for all business women everywhere trying to maintain their savoir faire.

I haven't seen any big bugs yet. And that's a good thing or the news would be reporting that a particular country is on fire and some crazy lady is on a raft floating away from the scene and laughing maniacally.

Now finally my mom has warned me relentlessly about traveling and maintaining my organ count. So far so good. No one has taken nor offered me money for my pieces and parts. I will remain vigilant so as to stay in one piece or rather a collection of many fine pieces. I am sure during our call she will remind me "they will come in the night or just take you off the street."

As a kid from a family that didn't travel and who stayed pretty close to their roots, I am happy for the opportunity. I am hoping I sweat off a few pounds for Erin's graduation later this month. For that I will put up with butt sweat even boob sweat. This is however the last time I will be alone on my birthday. I enjoy the company of family too much.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Don't F%@k With My Kids

In third grade there were two kids who were causing me trouble, Joyce and Bruce. They were really bad little kids. They cheated in class, they threatened other kids, they carried knives, they threatened teachers, they were just plain nasty. Their favorite thing to do was pick on the kids who couldn't really stand up for themselves. That didn't sit well with me. One day I challenged them and told them to stop. They threatened to kill me. I told the teacher, she told the principal, and he called my mom.

As you know by now, my mother is no one to fuck with. Mr. Crabbs (yes Spongebob stole that name from the Joy Elementary School principal in the 70s) knew my mom was a force. A strong wind blew when she entered the building. It could be 85, sunny, and 0 wind and when my mom arrived it would turn -20, cloudy, and gale force winds would announce her presence.

So as my mom entered the building you heard a lot of "Hello Mrs. Frageman." She had no time for fluff or niceties. It was always cut to the chase, make a decision, and move on (hmmm sounds familiar to me somehow). The situation was described and my mom demanded swift action and accountability. Expel those kids and deal with their parents (or lack thereof). As usual the answers from the school were less than satisfactory. They had to go through certain channels, all kids deserve chances and opportunity no matter what they did. That response would not be enough, that I knew for sure. She whisked me away still quite angry. As we made our way to the car, school had already let out. She began to drive home when she spotted two kids walking along the road. She looked at me and said "is that them?" "Yes," I said, "it is." She turned the wheel of the car violently toward them and cut them off from their intended path. I think my head hit the dashboard she stopped so hard. She put the car in park and was out of the door in a fraction of a second. As usual, the wind kicked up, the sky darkened and the forces of evil arrived. She was pissed and she would have justice. She returned shortly to the car and we drove home. Yes, they were still alive when we left.

I have no idea what she said to them and I probably don't want to know (I am sure the statute of limitations is up by now). What I do know is those kids never bothered me again. They never came near me or my friends. They didn't even look at me.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Fried Peas

I am reminded of learning key lessons about cooking as my eldest stands in our kitchen frying chicken while we sit in the living room with the fire extinguisher. Okay that is an exaggeration, she is becoming quite the cook. But it does remind me of some great kitchen moments.

#5 Did you know that you are supposed to pour the liquid and the vegetables from the can into the pan to heat up? If you throw away the "juice" the peas fry in the pan.

#4 If you put too much water in the mix and don't boil it first the jello never solidifies, ever. I don't care what you do to it. Put it at zero Kelvin I dare you. It defies physics.

#3 Do not, I repeat, do not confuse salt and sugar. That will make the nastiest cookies ever.

#2 When your child says "the oven is on fire," go ahead and believe her.

#1 Never, I repeat, never joke when your mom makes cookies so hard they bounce off the floor. If your mom is my mom, she will proceed to send said cookies through the mail to you. The squirrels even rejected the cookies and threw them back at the house. The name of those cookies - Jello cookies. They will live in infamy.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Dad isn't ready yet...

Today we went on our first visit to a potential wedding venue for our eldest daughter. As we looked around it was easy to remember the early days, the sleep-walking, the whining, the pushing of the littlest sister off the couch... It seems like just yesterday she was drawing with colored markers on the walls, on herself, in her middle sister's mouth. I am certain that is all her dad can see now. It's like the commercial where the daughter asks for the keys to the car. The dad sees a little girl asking, the rest of us see a 16 year old. Even at 23 when Michael looks at her he sees his 2 year old with the curly hair.

What is it about daddies and their daughters? Why is that bond like no other? Why do they say "you aren't getting married" and get mad and walk out of the room if you even mention having kids. The tears in the eyes when they say "I started your wedding dress bank account." The tears on the day you are asked for your hand in marriage.

Well this daddy has another 18 months before his eldest daughter moves to the next stage of her life. That still won't be enough time for him to be ready.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Smoking in the bushes

I used to go over to Aunt Thelma's house quite often. Aunt Thelma was quite the busy-body. She would stare out her window and watch the neighbors. She would open the windows sometimes so she could hear them. Sometimes I was there when she did it. She would give me the low down on what was happening with who. And if they looked up at the window, she would say, "get back." We had to hide. It was so exciting for a kid. We were like spies.

The most fascinating guy to me was the old man across the street. He was really little. He was short, bent over, and skinny. He wore glasses. He smoked. He smoked a lot. He smoked behind the bushes. He was always out there in his underwear, one of those tank top undershirts and white boxers. He did wear the standard old man black calf length socks and black shoes. His wife was always yelling at him. One time when she turned her back he flipped her off. Aunt Thelma would say how disgusting he was and then at that moment we would have to hide because he would look toward the window. Um, pot...kettle...hahaha.

She was so funny.