Coupons from Heaven: A Eulogy

Almost every week for I don’t know how many years, an envelope would land in my mailbox, my typewritten address perfectly stamped out directly in the center. I never needed to look at the return address to know exactly who had sent it or what I would find inside. There was rarely a note…just a handful of meticulously clipped coupons from the current week’s mailer. And every time, it made me smile. I could hear my Grandpa’s voice saying, “Well, I don’t know if you can use any of these, but just throw them away if you can’t.” Continue reading “Coupons from Heaven: A Eulogy”

Fourteen Years, And Just Another Day

What does a 14th wedding anniversary look like?

It starts with a 5:30 a.m. bootcamp class. When you get home, you spend 15 minutes with your husband before he heads out to work. It’s the only 15 minutes you will see him all day, but you’re a sweaty mess from bootcamp, and he is dividing his time between talking with you and finishing up his morning routine before walking out the door. You’ll spend the rest of the day doing laundry, running errands, then heading off to spend the night with your daughter’s girl scout troop before your husband even gets home from work. You’re the troop leader, and tonight was the only night that all the girls would be in town to have their final field trip. So 15 minutes with your husband on your anniversary will have to do. Continue reading “Fourteen Years, And Just Another Day”

A Mother’s Advice for A 10 Year Old Daughter

Dear Daughter,

Welcome to the double digits. Turning ten is considered a milestone, celebrating the first decade of your life. But becoming the mother of a ten-year-old for the first time, well, this birthday is kind of terrifying for me. And not just because finding a gift for you is a real b*tch…since you feel you are too old for toys, and feel you are too young for just about everything else. (You also likely know the word b*tch and how to properly use it. Thankfully, age ten does not seem to come with the courage to say it in front of me, only the eyerolls that imply it.)
Continue reading “A Mother’s Advice for A 10 Year Old Daughter”

Advice for a Double-Digits Daughter

Dear Daughter,

Welcome to the double digits. Turning ten is considered a milestone, celebrating the first decade of your life. But becoming the mother of a ten-year-old for the first time, well, this birthday is kind of terrifying for me. And not just because finding a gift for you is a real b*tch…since you feel you are too old for toys, and feel you are too young for just about everything else. (You also likely know the word b*tch and how to properly use it. Thankfully, age ten does not seem to come with the courage to say it in front of me, only the eyerolls that imply it.)
Continue reading “Advice for a Double-Digits Daughter”

The Kids Have Spoken: #ilovemymayhem

Since the beginning of January, I have been touring elementary schools, reading Absolute Mayhem to the students. Guys, if I thought I loved being a children’s author before, these visits have made me 100% certain this is exactly the path I should be traveling. Interacting with the kids, listening to them laugh at all the right places, answering their hilarious and intelligent questions, and hearing what they love about the book is about as delicious as it gets. At one of the visits, a little girl raised her hand and said, “I want to be just like you when I grow up.” I can’t even. I mean, that phrase is usually said to, like, astronauts…and people who save puppies dressed in butterfly costumes from raging fires. She may not have said that if she knew behind my author/illustrator facade is just a mom who never buys the latest trends for her kids and is capable of taking away trick-or-treating on Halloween as a punishment.

Aside from getting a huge ego boost from these kids, I am genuinely moved when they display their approval for Absolute Mayhem. Parents say their children ask to read it over and over again, and some even “play” Lulu and Milo, acting out their adventures (I smell Queen Comma and Count Milo of Fractionville Halloween costumes). Continue reading “The Kids Have Spoken: #ilovemymayhem”

But You Never Knew Him

You talk about him quite often.

But you never knew him.

You recognize him in photographs.

But you never knew him.

You include him in your prayers.

But you never knew him.

You sometimes reveal a little smile that has just a breath of the one he used to give me.

But you never knew him.

You would have gotten “the look” from him on many an occasion. And you would have towed the line when that happened. Trust me.

But you never knew him.

Yet you also would have made the apples of his cheeks protrude with the pride and joy he felt for all of us who felt safe standing in his shadow.

But you never knew him.

He would have loved you and your funny ways. Loved those hugs of yours that come with a running start. Loved your wacky dances. Loved your toothless grin. And he most certainly would have had a nickname for you. Something like “Muckel Jay” or “Mike the Tyke.”

in memoriumBut you never knew him.

Still, you act like you did.

When his name is the first one you think to write down on your paper for All Souls’ Day…

…you act like you knew him.

When I say, “You know who hated strawberries?” and you say, “Dooda”…

…you act like you knew him.

When, out of the blue, you draw an amazing picture of a tank and tell me you made it to put on his grave, the man who always had a war story to tell…

…you act like you knew him.

Maybe I talk about him more than I realize. Maybe the family lore of this man who was our hero is that strong and present. Or maybe he whispers to you when the rest of us are not listening. Maybe God tucked a little bit of him inside of you before you became ours…so that he could still be ours, too.

in memorium
Visiting Great-Grandpa, a.k.a. “Dooda.” My daughter was the only great-grandchild he ever got to meet, but somehow I think he and my son are good friends.

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If You Wanna Get With Me, Put Away the “Just For Men”

“Good news. I found a few more gray hairs.”

Only my husband would qualify that as good news. Because he knows what a few more gray hairs mean: he has moved one step closer to being my dream man.

Why?

Very simply stated, I have an unhealthy attraction to old men.

old men drinking beer
Is this seat taken? Because this would be the cutest beer I would ever have.
photo credit: Hindrik S via photopin cc

Sometimes it’s more of an adoration, akin to how others might fawn over a baby duckling and a kitten being friends, or squeal at the sight of miniature infant-sized hiking boots. I mean, those boots are exactly.the.same in every way, but just tinier. I never get over it. Just in the way I never get over the overwhelming urge to snuggle with just about every adorable elderly man I see. When my husband and I took a trip to Ireland just over a year ago, I became exhausted from practicing the immense restraint that was needed to NOT hug all the cute old men who seems to overpopulate the country. As I observed:

Cute old men strolling/walking their dogs/riding bikes. These guys are everywhere in Ireland. Everywhere. And one thing you might not know about me is that I am a tad obsessed with cute old men, especially if they are riding bikes, walking dogs, or strolling in little Irish tweed caps. […] I move that we need more of these cute old men on the streets of America. Here, they are all behind the wheels of cars, decreasing the cuteness factor, as well as the safety for all drivers in the vicinity. I may try to start an organization that works to put new shiny bikes in the hands of  cute old men everywhere. It would be a step closer to my utopia.

I can’t help it. A cute old man will make me smile every time. Unless he makes me cry…because he can’t open a door, or finally learns how to read, or has to move away from his little three-year-old neighbor and best friend.

So there’s that.

But what is more perplexing is that in addition to being a sucker for the elderly male persuasion, I also tend to focus my crushes on them as well. My list of celebrities who do it for me are all eligible for AARP benefits:

steve carell
photo credit: ElHormiguero via photopin cc

Steve Carell, age 52 – It started with The Office, but he locked down my heart as Gru in Despicable Me. Who knew big-nosed bald guys with dogs named Kyle got me hot and bothered?

tom hanks
photo credit: aphrodite-in-nyc via photopin cc

Tom Hanks, age 58 – I have never not loved him. Even when he was in Joe Versus the Volcano. And I used to like Helen Hunt until she didn’t go back to him after he had survived a bagillion years on a deserted island, only thinking of her, in Cast Away. Now I just think “stupid wench” whenever I see her.

tony shalhoub monk
photo credit: Hot Rod Homepage via photopin cc

Tony Shalhoub, age 60 – I’m not sure if it’s really Tony Shalhoub I have a crush on or his legendary character, Adrian Monk. Either way, I’m fishing for an oldie. I spent a lot of Friday nights with Monk. A lot. It was a blessing and a curse.

micky dolenz meet and greet
The Happy Couple – Me and Micky

 Micky Dolenz, age 69 – We all know I want to be his girlfriend. Not only is he older than my dad, but he is currently starring in a play called Comedy Is Hard, where he plays an 84-year-old retired comedian in a old folks home. If that doesn’t have heartthrob written all over it, I don’t know what does.

nathaniel hawthorne
He’s like the Leonardo DiCaprio of the 19th century

Nathaniel Hawthorne, dead – When I used to teach The Scarlet Letter to high school students, I often referred to this revered American author as “Hottie Hawthorne.” I am pretty sure that had I lived in the early to mid-1800’s, I would have gladly brandished the mark of a sinner for a little sumpin’-sumpin’ with this wizard of words.

So finding a few more gray hairs was indeed good news for my husband. In my eyes, it just means he is getting hotter. I can’t wait to see how he is going to look in that tweed cap and sweater vest I’m going to get him for his birthday.

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If You Wanna Get With Me, Put Away the “Just For Men” Hair Color

“Good news. I found more gray hair.”

Only my husband would qualify that as good news. Because he knows what a few more gray hairs mean: he has moved one step closer to being my dream man.

Why?

Very simply stated, I have an unhealthy attraction to old men.

old men drinking beer
Is this seat taken? Because this would be the cutest beer I would ever have.
photo credit: Hindrik S via photopin cc

Sometimes it’s more of an adoration, akin to how others might fawn over a baby duckling and a kitten being friends, or squeal at the sight of miniature infant-sized hiking boots. I mean, those boots are exactly.the.same in every way, but just tinier. I never get over it. Just in the way I never get over the overwhelming urge to snuggle with just about every adorable elderly man I see. When my husband and I took a trip to Ireland just over a year ago, I became exhausted from practicing the immense restraint that was needed to NOT hug all the cute old men who seem to overpopulate the country. As I observed:

Cute old men strolling/walking their dogs/riding bikes. These guys are everywhere in Ireland. Everywhere. And one thing you might not know about me is that I am a tad obsessed with cute old men, especially if they are riding bikes, walking dogs, or strolling in little Irish tweed caps. […] I move that we need more of these cute old men on the streets of America. Here, they are all behind the wheels of cars, decreasing the cuteness factor, as well as the safety for all drivers in the vicinity. I may try to start an organization that works to put new shiny bikes in the hands of  cute old men everywhere. It would be a step closer to my utopia.

I can’t help it. A cute old man will make me smile every time. Unless he makes me cry…because he can’t open a door, or finally learns how to read, or has to move away from his little three-year-old neighbor and best friend.

So there’s that.

But what is more perplexing is that in addition to being a sucker for the elderly male persuasion, I also tend to focus my crushes on them as well. My list of celebrities who do it for me are all eligible for AARP benefits:

steve carell
photo credit: ElHormiguero via photopin cc

Steve Carell, age 52 – It started with The Office, but he locked down my heart as Gru in Despicable Me. Who knew big-nosed bald guys with dogs named Kyle got me hot and bothered?

tom hanks
photo credit: aphrodite-in-nyc via photopin cc

Tom Hanks, age 58 – I have never not loved him. Even when he was in Joe Versus the Volcano. And I used to like Helen Hunt until she didn’t go back to him after he had survived a bagillion years on a deserted island, only thinking of her, in Cast Away. Now I just think “stupid wench” whenever I see her.

tony shalhoub monk
photo credit: Hot Rod Homepage via photopin cc

Tony Shalhoub, age 60 – I’m not sure if it’s really Tony Shalhoub I have a crush on or his legendary character, Adrian Monk. Either way, I’m fishing for an oldie. I spent a lot of Friday nights with Monk. A lot. It was a blessing and a curse.

micky dolenz meet and greet
The Happy Couple – Me and Micky

 Micky Dolenz, age 69 – We all know I want to be his girlfriend. Not only is he older than my dad, but he is currently starring in a play called Comedy Is Hard, where he plays an 84-year-old retired comedian in a old folks home. If that doesn’t have heartthrob written all over it, I don’t know what does.

nathaniel hawthorne
He’s like the Leonardo DiCaprio of the 19th century

Nathaniel Hawthorne, dead – When I used to teach The Scarlet Letter to high school students, I often referred to this revered American author as “Hottie Hawthorne.” I am pretty sure that had I lived in the early to mid-1800’s, I would have gladly brandished the mark of a sinner for a little sumpin’-sumpin’ with this wizard of words.

So finding a few more gray hairs was indeed good news for my husband. In my eyes, it just means he is getting hotter. I can’t wait to see how he is going to look in that tweed cap and sweater vest I’m going to get him for his birthday.

Customers who like this blog also follow me on Facebook, Twitter (@RYouFinishedYet), Instagram (ryoufinishedyet), and Pinterest.

To My Children’s Grandparents

You are not who you used to be. The moment my husband entered the waiting room and smiled the words, “It’s a girl,” you became something new and different, while being altogether exactly the people we had grown up with. Before that moment, you were our parents. Nothing more. Nothing less. You were the ones who provided for us, comforted us, bailed us out, held us to consequences, and loved us unconditionally, whether we cared or not (though we usually did). You were either the gateway or the obstruction to everything we wanted to do and be…depending on the day. It was easy for us to find you annoying, or call you unfair, or roll our eyes, or take you for granted. Because we were your kids, and you were our parents. Nothing more. Nothing less. Continue reading “To My Children’s Grandparents”

Homemade Ice Cream + Grandma = Love

There were three things I was taught to love fiercely growing up: God, family, and homemade ice cream. About everything else I could form my own opinion; but there was this unwritten, unsaid expectation that I would hold these three particular things in unconditional favor. Continue reading “Homemade Ice Cream + Grandma = Love”