Dance like nobody’s watching.

Dance like nobody’s watching.
My husband occasionally admonishes me for staring at people when we are out in public. He is right.  I do stare but sometimes when I see something so adorably cute I can’t make myself look away.  Tonight at Target I saw a family come through the door, Mom, Dad and four little girls.  Dad was still dressed in his Army fatigues. As Mom went to retrieve a shopping cart one of the daughters said “Look Daddy” and pointed to the security camera monitor.  Then they did the adorably cute thing that made me stare.  Dad and all four daughters started dancing around and watched themselves on the monitor.  I don’t mean they were just acting funny, they were full on dancing.  Dad stretched out his arms and started doing the wave.  The girls were booty shaking and spinning around.  They didn’t talk to each other; they just saw the monitor and started dancing.  Obviously they’ve done this before.  It must just be something they do.  It was hysterical.  It was magical.   I have very few memories of my dad and the ones that I do have are not magical by any sense of the word. My father abandoned his wife and five children when I was nine years old. The lack of my father in my life affected me profoundly.  When I see a good Dad like the one I saw tonight it touches my heart in a way that is hard to put in to words. Some day those girls will be grown women and they will more than likely have many similar experiences to the ones  I’ve had in my life like career, family, etc. They’ll sit around with their sisters and tell stories of their childhood like I do with my sisters and share memories. But those lucky little girls will have one memory I never will…they'll  say “remember when we danced with Daddy?”

Fix the Bed

Fix the Bed
A few weekends ago we were sitting around telling stories, laughing and generally having a good time when my best friend said “Have you told them the story of when we broke the bed?”  She loves to do that when there is someone new in the room. I had not told this particular story to present company but of course the minute she mentioned it they were intrigued.  Honestly I hadn’t really planned to tell this story on my blog. It’s a long one and while it’s funny to those of us who were there,  I’m not sure it has broad comic appeal.  However, today I was looking through pictures trying to find something for the story I had intended to tell when I came across this.  This picture was taken a few seconds before the 100 year old antique bed we were on gave out and hit the ground like a ton of bricks. 


Telling this story is bittersweet because one of these beloved children isn’t with us anymore.  One day I’ll tell you that story but not today.
Don’t be fooled by these smiling faces.  They are the faces of children who will abandon you the minute the going gets tough. The one holding the camera is the same friend who dragged this story out of me around the dining room table not long ago.  She is the mother of two of these hoodlums.  The other three are mine.
 My first husband’s parents owned a house on beautiful Smith Mountain Lake in south western Virginia.   It is the only thing I miss from that marriage. The place is picturesque. The house is furnished and decorated with antiques.  You have to use a step stool to get in to the beds.   I loved it at the lake house but I was always a nervous wreck when my kids were small worrying that they would break something.
This particular summer (probably 1995 if I have to guess) my kids and I went to the lake for a week along with my best friend and her two boys. The Dad’s would be joining us on the weekend. We fished, swam, explored, and soaked up the sun.  We went to a Mennonite auction. We crashed a local fireman’s fundraising dinner.  We put a fish in the freezer with the hook still in its mouth. It was a fun week.
The picture of the kids on the bed was taken on Thursday. I know because when all hell broke loose I kept thinking I’ve got twenty four hours before my husband gets here to fix this.  I was in bed waking up from a nice little nap, reading my book and enjoying a rare moment of peace.  The silence was suddenly broken by a familiar voice saying “Go get her guys!” and next thing I knew I had five children jumping up on the bed on top of me. My friend ran in with the camera snapping away taking pictures. “Ha ha…you got me….so funny guys.  Ok now everyone off.”  I’m pretty sure I said something like that but I didn’t have a chance to hear their response because suddenly I heard this loud cracking sound and before anyone had a chance to even process what was going on, the bed hit the floor with a WHOMPH that I’m fairly certain could be heard echoing down the lake. 
My memory of the next few moments is fuzzy.  I think I was in shock.  I felt like throwing up. I laid there for a second stunned and that’s when the traitor children jumped up and scurried out of the room as fast as their guilty little legs could take them.  They knew what was about to go down was bad and they wanted no part of it. When I started to come to my senses I was aware of this piercing cackle, a choking, gasping laughter coming from the floor next to me.  My dear friend had fallen to the floor and was laughing so hard she was in danger of giving herself a seizure.   
I remember what happened next like it was yesterday.  I screamed at her “What the hell are you laughing at? I am going to be in so much trouble.  What are we going to do?  I will never be allowed to come back here.  My husband is going to kill me.  WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO?”  The louder and more upset I got the harder she laughed which just pissed me off even more.  We were stuck – her laughing me screaming for a good five minutes or so. The kids lingered just outside the bedroom door with the older ones peeking in. I jumped up and started pacing around the room.  “What am I going to do?  This is bad.  This is really, really bad. I can’t believe this.”  I was frantic.  My friend finally calmed herself enough to speak and said “Stop freaking out. We’ll fix it.”  Are you kidding me!?  I wanted to hurt her. I wanted to slap that silly grin right off her face.  Fix it?  Fix it with what? We are out in the middle of nowhere.  The closest Home Depot was over an hour away.  I was starting to feel like I might pass out.  “Of course we’ll fix it.  All we need is some wood, some wood glue and a few nails.  We’ll have it like new tonight! Trust me” she said. 
We pulled the mattress off the bed and examined the damage.  Turns out it was only one piece of wood that was broken.  If we could replace this one piece of wood we might be ok but how?  I told her “go find some tape so we can tape this back together and take it with us to the store.”  She came back five minutes later with band aids.  She couldn’t find the tape so we used about 10 band aids to tape this four foot piece of wood back together.  I ran for the phone book to look up the nearest hardware store.  There was a small hardware store down the road so we rushed the kids in to the car (still in their swimsuits) and headed there.  When we explained our problem to the owner he said “well ya’ll are gonna have to have a piece of wood custom cut.”  I started to get dizzy again.  Custom cut?  That’s it I thought.  I’ll never come back to this beautiful place again.  I must have looked like I was going to cry because he suggested we go down the road and visit his friend Tim the custom cabinet maker.  Maybe he could help us out. “I’ll call him and warn him, err I mean tell him you are on the way.”  I dared not get my hopes up but this Tim was our last chance.
It was clear as we pulled in to the parking lot at Tim’s shop that he was a craftsman.There was wood everywhere.  Little did he know that he was about to add Knight in Shining Armor to his resume.  We told the kids to wait in the car, and grabbing our broken bandaged up  board we went inside. Tim met us as we came through the door.  “Can I help you?” he said.  “We broke a bed” I said.  He looked at my friend, he looked at me, he looked back at her again and said “You did what now?”  I can only imagine what was going through his head.  My friend thrust our piece of wood in his face and said “We need another one of these.  Can you help us?  If we don’t fix this bed her husband is going to kill her.”  Poor guy just shook his head in confusion.   I am sure my eyes started to fill up again because he quickly took our piece of wood and said “Give me an hour or so and I’ll see what I can do.”   “Halleluiah” I thought, this might work.   We took the kids for ice cream to kill an hour and then went back to the wood shop.  Tim charged us $5 for a duplicate piece of wood cut to the exact proportions of the original. I was so happy I threw my arms around him. He saved my butt. I could hear him laughing at us as we went out the door.



We made a quick trip back to the hardware store for nails, wood glue and a hammer and then went back to the house to fix a bed.  I am proud to say that bed will never break again.  There are so many nails in it and so much glue on it that it is easily 10 times stronger now than it was before it broke. It’s been  about 17 years since then and so far as I know our repair still holds.  If anyone ever decides to climb under that bed they will be in for a surprise but it’s not my worry any more. 

The morning we were getting ready to leave my friends son came to us and admitted that he had broken an antique plate that had been sitting on the dresser in his room.  I looked at her and said “I got the band aids, go get some of that dang glue.”  Piece of cake.

Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate

Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate
Dear Walmart Cashier,

Thank you for your friendly greeting and personable manner.  I really thought you were the exception to the usual indifference I normally get at the register.  That is, until you scanned the Snickers bar that sat between the rye bread and shampoo and asked me if I wanted it.  Oh wow.  How rude.  What makes you think it's for me (it was) and what makes you think I was going to eat it the minute I got in the car. ( I did.)  You don't know me. You don't know that I had to eat lunch early so I could go to a meeting so by the time I dropped by your store on my way  home from work I was starving.  You don't know that I made it past the potato chip aisle without adding anything to my cart.  Those crunchy salty little bastards were calling out to me but I stayed strong and moved on.  You don't know that I spent a solid two minutes staring at the doughnut case trying to decide which was more fattening, glazed or  chocolate frosted . You see I'm trying to eat better and make healthier choices.  I'm trying to avoid sweets and things that are not good for me.  I was pretty darn proud of how well I had navigated through your aisles and made it safely to the register with nothing bad in my cart.  I would have been fine too if the woman in front of me didn't have an issue with her credit card.  While you and she ironed it out my eyes wandered over to the candy display and most specifically to the Snickers bars.  Unfortunately, Snickers are one of my favorites.  In my mind I heard a voice say "Snickers really satisfies" and as if in a trance I picked it up and threw it on the belt. Well you know what happened next.  So let me tell you something about me Lady…next time I've got a candy bar on my belt don't bother asking me if I want it for my purse….just give me the damn thing and no one gets hurt. 



Smooth Criminal

Smooth Criminal

I like rocks. I’ve always had a thing for them. I have a bunch of them in my jewelry box and other places around the house.  I’ve been accumulating them for years.  I have a pretty decent sized one in my glove box. My family refers to it as my “rape rock” meaning if someone menacing ever comes near me they are going to get a rock upside the head.  You can do many things with a rock.  Did you know that if you are hiking in the woods on a hot day and you run out of water you can put a small stone in your mouth and it will help alleviate your feelings of thirst?  I learned this from a scout leader on an actual hike in the woods.  I didn’t put a rock in my mouth when she suggested it because I wasn’t actually dying of thirst; however this crazy lady was popping them in her mouth all day long. She only took it out when she wanted to eat her GORP.  (GORP = good old raisins and peanuts which by the way would make you more thirsty in my opinion) Every time she said “Want some of my gorp?”  I would seriously crack up. There may be a reason none of my kids stuck with scouting.

The other day my husband I were shopping at a small hardware store and we saw this fake rock that you would put in your garden.  It said “Grandpa’s Garden.”  We both had an “awww” moment because he’s a grandpa and he loves being a grandpa. However we both agreed that the decoration on it was kind of hideous. It had a scary looking ladybug and I think that ladybug’s should always be cute.  It was also covered in flowers which for a Grandpa’s rock was a little girly if you ask me.  My last complaint was that it was plastic.  I mean if you’re going to put a rock in the garden put a ROCKin the garden.   “Cute idea but I can make something just like it on a real rock for free!”  I told him. 
I’m always admiring oddly shaped and cool looking rocks outside of restaurants, stores or anywhere else they are used in landscaping or are there naturally.  I’ll pick one up and say “oh look, I like this one” and my husband will say “Put it back, you can’t take it.”  To which I argue, “It’s a rock, who really owns a rock? The earth?  The universe? Applebee’s? 
Until Saturday that is…. 
We saw that plastic rock at the hardware store and it changed something. As we turned in to our neighborhood we drove past the community center.  They have these medium sized landscaping rocks all artfully arranged with flowers and bushes.  I looked at him and said “That would be the perfect size rock for your garden.”  I fully expected his usual response. Instead he grinned at me and whipped the car in to the community center driveway and said “Quickly.”  I jumped out of that car so fast it was a thing of beauty.  It took me only a moment to find the perfect one.   I was back in the car within seconds.  As we drove the last minute up the street to our house I held the rock to my cheek to feel its warmth. Few things feel as good in your hands as a sun baked rock.  We took it home and I painted it.  Not my best work by any measure but this little rock means something to me.
I know it’s a silly thing to be proud of someone for helping you steal a rock but I am.  My husband has a stressful job and I’ve been trying to get him to relax a little more lately.  When he pulled accomplice to one of my capers, he gave himself completely to the moment. For someone who has a hard time with that, this was HUGE. 
Hey honey…how’s your throwing arm?  I haven’t been toilet papering in years. 

The Bees Knees

The Bees Knees
This morning my husband and I were talking about something (can't remember exactly what at the moment) and I was being my usual ornery self.  Our conversation went something like this:


Joel:  You're a pip.
Me:  A pip?  As in a singer?
Joel: You're a pistol?
Me: What does that mean?
Joel: You don't know what a pistol is?
Me:  I do, it's a gun.  What does that have to do with me?
Joel: (big sigh) Ok, you're a firecracker.
Me:  As in dangerous?
Joel: (big sigh with eye roll) You are the bees knees baby! 
Me: Bees don't have knees.
Joel: (big sigh, eye roll, with exasperation) You my dear are the cat's pajamas.
Me: Do you know any compliments from this century?
Joel:  (big sigh, eye roll, exasperation and long pause) Boo, you so fly. Gurl you're so PHAT it's ridonculous.
Me: …What were you saying about kitties in pajammies?

Legal Notice

Legal Notice
PUBLIC NOTICE is hereby given on this date, June 9, 2012 to the three adults who reside with Felicia Agnew in their Woodbridge Virginia home.  Those individuals shall henceforth be known as “housemates.”  Felicia Agnew, who shall henceforth be referred to as “The complainant” alleges that this Cadbury Caramel Easter Egg (which shall furthermore be referred to as Exhibit A) has been sitting undisturbed in the fruit bowl since approximately April 8, 2012.  The complainant alleges that an unidentified “housemate” has abandoned Exhibit A and would like Exhibit A to be declared as unencumbered property.  The complainant would like to assume possession of Exhibit A immediately.  Any claims that are to be made in regards to this case must be submitted by midnight of June 9, 2012.  Proof of ownership must be presented.  At the expiration of this notice, Exhibit A will become the personal property of the complainant if no other petitioners come forward.  Once complainant has assumed possession of Exhibit A all evidence will immediately be consumed destroyed.

Engaged to be Married.

Engaged to be Married.

We've all heard the saying “A son is a son til he takes a wife; a daughter’s a daughter the rest of her life.”   As the mother of two sons I have issues with this statement and now that my oldest is engaged to be married I like it even less. It’s true that my daughter and I remain very close and in fact having the shared experiences of being a wife and mother may have made us even closer.  But who says I can’t stay close to my boys too?  Why is a man supposed to only have room in his life for his wife? Doesn’t whoever wrote this understand that my sons wouldn’t be who they are today if it weren't for their mother?  I didn’t pour my heart and soul in to these boys only to see them on holidays and at the occasional family gathering.  I pray my sons’ future wives will see me as friend not foe.  

I don’t worry about Alex.  Everyone knows he is a Mamma’s boy and the youngest.  He even refers to himself as my baby.  As in, “You would never kick me out of the house, I’m your baby.” (Future writings will reveal that he was oh so wrong!) His girlfriend and I feel like team mates on some special project called “Operation Alex.” Working together she and I might be able to slap him in to something that resembles an adult some day. 
Things are different with Nick.  I don’t get to see him as often as I’d like and the last few years there has been a bit of a distance between us.  It’s nothing deliberate on either of our parts.  He’s just all grown up and off living his life.  Sure we had some rough spots when he was a teenager but who hasn’t?  I’d love to see him more often but we both rest easy in the knowledge that our love for one another is infinite.  
He has been in a very committed and all consuming relationship for the last three years.  I told him a few months ago that if he planned on getting engaged I would appreciate the courtesy of knowing about it ahead of time.  I didn’t want to get a text message from his girlfriend (the usual method of news delivery) informing me that he had proposed. So a few weeks ago he asked me to lunch and told me he had the ring and he was going to ask.  It’s hard to describe how I felt. We love Katelyn and they are a good match but I also really miss the little boy he once was. I asked him if he was happy and his response was “yeah, I really am.”  What else can I ask for?  Isn't that what we wish for our kids when we are knee deep in raising them?  He knows it’s not going to be easy. Their situation is fraught with special circumstances.  The last three years haven’t been easy but he is going in to this with his eyes wide open. Marriage is hard work and he has seen me fail at it with his dad.  It takes commitment, dedication and sacrifice, but if anyone is loyal and loving enough to make it work, that would be my Nick.  Congratulations Son.  You got this. 

Photographer in the Making

Photographer in the Making
Yesterday I had my regular Wednesday night play date with my grandson Riley. He loves playing with my phone and wanted me to show him how to take pictures.  I showed him what to do and let him have at it.  Now I know I'm a bit partial but I think the kids got some natural talent. Here's a peek into the mind of a three year old. These are the things he apparently thought were important enough to take a picture of.


A rock.  If you have a rock why on earth wouldn't you take a picture of it?





The Wii remotes.  Maybe he was trying to point out that I need to dust back here.




His foot. Now this is a seriously cute foot.
His puppy Spot. That Spot is always getting in to some kind of jam.




His shoe and socks. See my beautiful daughter in the picture below?  He gets his stinky feet from his Mama. 


A picture of a picture of Mom and Dad.
He did this on purpose.  He knows she gets on my nerves. Where are her parents and why is she allowed to go out exploring without an adult?
This is sock puppet Mom. She has dread locks, listens to Bob Marley. eats tofu and doesn't shave her pits.




Bob the Builder. He says "Can we fix it?  Yes we can!" but I'm still waiting for this lazy SOB to hang a shelf in the guest room.
Random toys on my livingroom floor.


My favorite picture that he took.  Lord how I love this face.

I know everyone's favorite day of the work week is Friday but mine just might be Wednesday. No matter what kind of day I've had, the minute he gets in the car my troubles melt away. If that doesn't make for a favorite day I don't know what does.



This video is a skit they did on a recent episode of Saturday Night Live. On its own it’s mildly funny but to my husband and I it is hysterical.  Give it a look.
The reason it's so funny to us is because he swears I sneeze like that. I admit my sneezes are very loud but to that I say “I can’t help it!”  I’m not doing it on purpose.  I don’t ramp up the volume just to drive him crazy.  That’s just how they come out.  My grandmother once told me that you should relax and enjoy a good sneeze.  How can I put this delicately?  She said a sneeze can simulate other pleasurable sensations if you relax and go with it.  You had to meet my grandma.  She was WAY ahead of her time.  So while I’ve never enjoyed a sneeze as much as Gram apparently did I don’t hold back when I feel one coming on.  I recently had a co-worker tell me that she used to try to hold in her sneezes until she burst an artery in her nose and had to have it cauterized.  Ouch.   My husband’s chief complaint is that they usually come with no warning and as he puts it “One of these days I’m going to give him a heart attack.”  So we’ve devised a sort of warning system which basically entails me smacking him if we’re sitting close and if we’re not I wave my arms around like an idiot pointing to my nose.  He‘s lucky I don’t have allergies or the poor guy would be jumpy as hell. I know my sneezing is over the top and I’m sure it’s quite annoying but he loves me anyway.  That is the great thing about my husband.  He realizes that my maniacal sneezing is part of what makes me ME. And while I’m sure he fears for his cardiac well being every time I get a cold he wouldn’t want me any other way.

What the what?

What the what?
My son has this tattoo on his forearm.   
Why you ask? Why would he do that? That’s a question I’ve been wrestling with for over a year.
The short story is he’s an idiot.
The long and true story is that he wants to duplicate the tattoos his cousin Bobby had including this one.  I told him that just because Bobby had it doesn’t make it a good idea but I’m not sure it’s right to speak ill of the dead.
Bobby was killed three years ago in a drunk driving accident.  His friend lost control of the vehicle they were riding in and wrapped it around a tree.  They were both killed instantly.  It remains a tragedy of unspeakable proportion. My brother lost his only child.  My son lost his childhood best friend.  He was only twenty one.
So Alex wants to memorialize his beloved cousin by recreating his tattoos.  He never wants to forget someone that he loved.  I understand that.  I respect it.  I am not against tattoos but this one has been hard to swallow.  I think because it is offensive to many people, it’s hard for me to accept that it’s now a permanent part of his body.  When my brother saw it for the first time he literally said “WTF Alex?”
It’s pretty common knowledge what WTF stands for.  Even my mother knows. In my quest to make this go down easier I’ve convinced myself that there are lots of other things it can stand for.  What do you think of these?
Why the Frown?
Where’s the Food?
Well that’s Fabulous
What’s that Friend?
Wow that’s fun
Welcome to Facebook
Write to File
What's This For?
Who the Freak?
Where's the Fridge?
Where's the Fish?
What's This Foolishness
Where's the Fire?
We’re Tasting Frosting
Work Time Fun
Welcome to Finland
As much as I’d like to think it stood for something else I know in heart what it really means.  It means my nephew is gone way too soon.  It means my son has to deal with his loss in the best possible way he knows how.  And when I honestly think about it I’m inclined to say WTF myself.  In this situation….what else can you say?