Chapter 4: The Alligator Mouse

Happy December! Christmas is right around the corner guys, can you feel it? For anyone thinking about getting themselves or their kids a pet this year for the holidays, I’d say go with a snake.

When we were kids, we had this pet snake, slinky. He was an albino something or other corn snake, and really I only thought he was cool because a) he was pink and b) his jaw was too small to bite me. My mom was 110% against us getting this snake, but when you have two kids that REALLY WANT IT and it’s 3 against 1, it’s not a hard sell. Plus, it was good entertainment for all of the neighborhood kids when we’d feed it. We were so popular.

In the beginning, Slinky ate little baby frozen mice, pinkies. It wasn’t that exciting to be honest. I mean we’ve all had a frozen dinner before- was it really that good? NO. But when Slinky upgraded to live mice- things got serious. Feeding him was supposed to be the coolest thing ever. However, he wasn’t that smart. Sometimes the mice would like sit on top of him and he’d just lay there… is this normal? So, like any antsy kids waiting for animals to attack, we watched him. FOR DAYS.

Now, nine times out of ten, Slinky would eventually eat his mouse. But one time he went a few days without eating, and the Suz decided that it was inhumane to let that ‘poor mouse’ sit in there and starve. So she gave him a saltine cracker. Slinky still wasn’t interested, so after a few more days, we apparently had a pet mouse. The Suz got him a little cage and whatever other crap you need to have a pet mouse and decided that he was no longer dinner, he was now a guest with his own wing in the family room. Thus, he needed a name and became, Petey, The Mouse.

Petey was kind of an asshole, and I mean, can you really blame him? His so called family tried to literally feed him to a snake. Plus, no one but my mom even wanted Petey- we wanted snake food. “See, this is why I didn’t want a snake” she’d say, as if she was proving her point that having Slinky was a terrible idea.

Hello lady, we weren’t the ones that adopted Petey into the family like a new puppy… that’s ALL YOU. You have NO ONE to blame but yourself Suz…

Anyway… someone had to clean Petey’s cage, and despite her instance on keeping the mouse, the Suz was not going to be the one to clean the cage. And, I mean… I clearly wasn’t going to do it. This left two people- Dad and Nick. Maybe dad felt that Nick needed some responsibility in his life, maybe he just was playing his dad card, but he decided that Nick was going to be the one to do it. Except Nick said no. Understandably, Nick was scared that Petey was going to bite him. I mean hell, why WOULDN’T he? We were literally the worst mouse owners ever. [Remind me to tell y’all about the time my mom didn’t take my hamster out of the cage before cleaning the inside of the glass with Windex]. But dad was insistent that Nick needed to clean the cage, and Nick was equally as insistent that he was not sticking his hand in there. So, dad did what any good father would do. Similar to the golf incident, he was going to show Nick just what a baby he was being. “OH, for Christ’s sake, it’s not an alligator, it’s not going to bite you,” he proclaimed as he shoved his hand in that cage. And all be damned if Petey didn’t grab a hold of that mans pinky finger and would NOT. LET. GO.

Dad flung his hand out of the cage, Petey still attached to his finger and was swinging him around cursing and yelling something about ‘ow’ until finally Petey let go.

To be honest, I don’t even remember what happened after that. {When you laugh too hard, you lose track of mice apparently} Like, did Petey run away? Did he eventually die? Did the snake ever eat him? I probably can’t remember because I didn’t care in the slightest. If I wanted a pet mouse, I’d have asked for a pet mouse guys… but I didn’t.

Once again though, my dad was reminded about how incredibly lucky he is to have kids, especially ones that remember these kinds of things well into their 30’s. RIP Petey, where ever you are.

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Chapter 8: The Handicapped Ramp

Happy Friday Blog People!

It’s the last day of the month, and you know what that means?

15 more days until I go back to work full time
23 days until my fall semester ends
25 days until CHRISTMAS.

We have so much going on between school and festivities that I can’t even begin to fathom when I’ll have the time to blog- probably when I’m supposed to be doing homework. Say it with me, PROCRASTINATION.

Do you ever try to do something nice for someone, only to have it totally backfire? This is the story of the time I tried to do a nice thing, and instead my family will forever be reminded of that time I killed the mini-van.

So, I’m 16 years old, and I hate our mini-van. Don’t get me wrong, I love riding in it, I just hate driving it and refuse to do so. It’s big and clunky and it was one of those boxy ones. I was used to driving a smaller car, and as a new and inexperienced driver, I hated that you had that extra row of seats to look back at in the rear view mirror. I know, SO DRAMATIC, but what can ya do.

So, I didn’t drive it. Ever. To this day, I think I only drove that van twice in my life, and apparently for good reason.

Let me set the scene:

My mom has to take her car to the local gas station to get some work done- probably like an inspection or oil change. So, she asks me if I can go with her and then drive her home. “Sure,” I said, “NO PROBLEM.” So I got in the car, she got in the van, and we drove up to the gas station. Mom parked the van and I parked the car and she went inside to talk to the people about the work. Since I’d given her the car keys, I went and hopped into the passenger seat of the van. COMMENCE DOWNPOUR. I mean… like out of no where rain. And I thought… “Man, this van is parked SO far away, mom is going to get soaked if she comes outside.” So, I decided to do a nice thing. I was going to move the van closer to the entrance.

I figured, what the hell, I’m just driving it like 30 feet, if that. I don’t know, I have no concept of distance or measurement. It could have been 300. But the bottom line was, I was going to be courageous and drive that van so the Suz didn’t get wet. So, I jumped over to the drivers seat, put that baby in drive, and went around the building so that I could pull up right at the entrance ramp. It was a super proud moment. I was driving the van, and doing a good deed. What could possibly go wrong?

But then, the inevitable happened. As I pulled up to the curb, parallel park style, I felt a little bump. Almost like the wheel got stuck on the curb, but I didn’t actually know what that felt like, because hello…I was 16. So I kept going… and going…. and… going. I figured, “eh, a little curb never hurt anyone”

Inside the gas station, a different view of the same scenario was taking place. My mom was facing away from the outside and the cashier was facing the street. Supposedly she was all “Oh my God, look at that!! What is that girl doing? Oh my.. oh my GOD, she’s just still going… what kind of idiot… yup, she’s hitting the pole, she’s totally ruining that van”… and at that juncture, the Suz whipped around in time to see her beloved van just scraping along that bright sunshiny yellow handicapped ramp/pole marker thing. You guys know the one I’m talking about? Y’all, I wasn’t hitting the curb…

I GOT STUCK ON THAT POLE BY THE RAMP AND RATHER THAN PUT IT IN REVERSE AND MOVE,

I JUST.

KEPT.

GOING.

As it turns out, my mom KNEW “what kind of idiot” was doing that, her daughter guys. It was her daughter. So she rushed out, visibly upset and was like “What in the hell are you doing?” Meanwhile, I’m all “HEY! I did it! I drove the van! I was picking you up so you didn’t get rained on!” And really, how can you be mad at that.

Well, you have someone rip off half a running board and scrape yellow paint down your sliding van door and let me know how mad you can be at that…

The damage was done… I was embarrassed, but also feeling a little justified. “See,” I said… “This is why I don’t like to drive the van.” I was such a smart ass about it too. But, what are ya gonna do? Nick tried to help me buff the yellow paint out, and we decided the best course of action was to find a piece of construction paper that matched the color of the van and somehow fashion that over where the hole was. Our hope was that this would break the ice and serve as a reminder that while ineffective, it was the same solution my Aunt Terry (dad’s sister) tried to do when she hit something as a teenager. Spoiler alert- it did not work, mostly since they didn’t make dark teal construction paper.

So, that van, aka: the Grocery Getter, lived out the rest of it’s days with a semi-detached running board and a few scuffs of yellow paint down the side. A nice little reminder of how fun it is to have kids and let them use your expensive stuff. We can laugh about it now, obviously, and we do. Every time we tell that story we laugh and laugh at the women inside calling some girl me an idiot and we laugh harder at the cover up attempt and the mental image of that van just scraping down the side of that pole, screeching and scratching the whole way. I never even looked back or thought to like, throw it in reverse.

Lessons were learned by everyone that day guys. I’m the reason my parent’s can’t have nice things.

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Chapter 5: The Golf Lesson

Hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving! True to my blog post about Black Friday Shopping, Thursday I paid $5.35 for the Washington Post and organized the crap out of my ads and lists. My mom came to our house for a few days, so Friday we decided to hit up some stores, but not until lunch time, because >>>> CROWDS. I got most of my shopping done online before Thanksgiving, but it’s still fun to follow the traditions and window shop. Monday was back to the grind of homework and chores but I couldn’t let you guys wait any longer for a new blog!

So, for as long as I can remember, my dad and brother have been golfers. I have no clue when the obsession started, but I know that it’s been since at least the early 90’s. I never really had an interest. As a teenager, if I had my choice between trying to smack a tiny ball with a stick as far as I could or making out with boys at the movies hanging out with my friends, I’d choose the later every time. Sure, some girls were into golf and that’s awesome. But it just wasn’t my thing. So at 17 when my family said “hey let’s go to the driving range and practice” I wasn’t super excited… but I went. I have NO idea why that time was different or why I decided to go. I vaguely remember Nick wanting to go to Glendale because that is where his High School would practice, and now that I think about it- that was probably the reason we went. So he could practice. But, I thought, what the hell, I’ll give this a try. So, armed with some sort of ‘iron’ I gave the ball a whack. Or, so I thought. Mostly I just hit dirt. This continued for a few minutes before my dad finally yelled “oh Jesus, move, let me show you how it’s done.”

Now, I should probably tell you, that at this time, my dad had just had surgery. Technology wasn’t all advanced yet, so his surgery to have some skin cancer removed on his back was pretty invasive and required a huge incision. He legit had part of his back stapled back together at this point and was still recovering. So, naturally, I thought that this was a terrible idea, but figured hey-you do you dude- GO FOR IT.

So, dad got up there on the driving range area thingy, to “show me how it’s done”… and all he showed me was what NOT to do. This man took a HUGE swing at that ball, and when his club got about 5 millimeters away, the force just came to a halt and he tapped that ball so soft it rolled about a foot forward.

I DIED Y’ALL. Like, full on tears running down my face, hysterical laughing. One of those laughs that no matter how hard you try to calm down, every time you give someone that knowing look, it just starts all over. These laughs are typically reserved for my hilarious family and my college roommate {and forever bestie}, Therese. My mom was laughing. Nick was laughing. The guys next to us that we didn’t know were laughing. Mr. “let me show you the right way to hit a golf ball” sure did show me.

Apparently, so we later found out, he was trying to be all cocky and fatherly, but realized about mid-swing that his shit would be REAL weak if he popped his stitches trying to swing a golf club. He knew that Dr. Mom would be peeved and that he’d never hear the end of it. And, I mean, rightfully so! What sort of wife wouldn’t be annoyed at their husband if he was told to take it easy and rest and he tries to golf? It’s totally understandable but without that inner monologue being known, all the naked eye saw was that man “showing us how to golf.”

We still laugh about this any chance we get. The memory of it, the mental image of my dad as he realized the error of his ways, the little 1 foot putt of the golf ball… hell, the image of the guys next to us trying to stifle their laughter and looks of sympathy for my dad… Maybe one day I will learn how to golf, but for now I will just continue to let my dad show me how it’s done.

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Black Friday Shopping

As Thanksgiving approaches, I can only think of two things: FOOD and SHOPPING. Yes, yes, I get it- Thanksgiving is about being thankful and grateful and spending time with your family, blah blah blah. I’ve heard it all. People who complain about working on Thanksgiving, working Black Friday… and I hear ya, I really do. But there is just something about eating 10 pounds of food and then finding door-buster sales that makes me giddy, what can I say.

Now, I wasn’t always like this. Years ago, when I was younger and before my brother and I got married, we did family dinner. We would pick a place and all gather and watch the parade, stuff our faces and then nap or play games. But as we grew up and family members moved away things changed. My brother got married, and had another family to celebrate with. So, with that my parents and I started a tradition of going out to dinner on Thanksgiving. Cook a turkey for 3 people? HARD PASS. Clean the house for no one? GOD NO. Who wants do to all that work for 3 people? So, now that my husband and I are in West Virginia, we continue to do Thanksgiving Harmon style, and get our grub on at some delish restaurant where we can eat and eat… and eat, without having to clean or do dishes. It’s a win win really. And since I was in my 20’s my dad has played ‘wheel-man” for me and my mom. We all go get hot cocoa and hit the stores. Dad drops us off and waits somewhere for us to call and say “Ok, come back to get us” and we go on to the next store. It’s the perfect arrangement. Dad doesn’t have to shop- ie- can nap in the car, and mom and I don’t have to fight for a parking space.

But even with the family changes and restaurant outings, my “Black Friday Shopping” tradition and routine has never altered. Every Thanksgiving, I make my husband personally go get the Thursday newspaper.  I’m talking, black and white, at the 7-11 in a big stack PAPER. I carefully take out all of the ads and arrange them by stores I like best. Obviously, the big pile gets things like Walmart, Target, Kohl’s & JCP. And then I hang onto Home Depot, Lowe’s, Macy’s, etc for the ‘just in case’. And I sit with my PEN & PAPER, old school style, and go through every. single. page. I write down all of the things that I am interested in for myself or others and the price. (this way I know if it’s cheaper elsewhere). Yes, I realize all of the adds are already online, and I can shop now… but where is the fun in that? I still like to print documents out and write on them. I still like to take notes on a pad of paper instead of my laptop. I still buy text books and highlight passages that are important. Yes, technology is fantastic and I’m probably way too addicted to my iPad. But I stand firm when it comes to old school notes.

So, this Thanksgiving Thursday, you can find me with Rich & my parents at Brewer’s Alley in Frederick, MD… at the buffet… eating shrimp and mac & cheese and stuffing and pie. And then you can find my husband, bless his soul, taking on the role of wheel-man for me and mom as we hit the Thanksgiving sales & head back to West Virginia. Dad is getting a little reprieve this year and going home. And then Saturday, we will all meet back in Frederick with Nick, Ash & the kiddos to have Thanksgiving 2.0, Red Robin style. Because ultimately, Thanksgiving IS all about family, and being thankful that I have this crazy crew in my life. I hope everyone else has a fabulous Thanksgiving, eats lots of delicious food and gets in some shopping- if that’s your thing.

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Life Happens

Hey Hey blog people!

The last few weeks have been a total whirlwind of a time. I decided in early October that I was going to take a few weeks off of work for me. Prepped with my paperwork, I set forth on getting approved for FMLA, for basically, my mental stability. To say work was overwhelming and stressful was an understatement and I just felt like I needed a break. Armed with my approval, I made BIG plans. I was planning on joining a gym and paying for a personal trainer for 4-8 weeks. I had a list of at least one thing to clean or organize in our home every day. And I planned on meal prepping and cooking every evening so we could save on some money and eat healthier.

And then life happened.

My LAST day at work, Friday October 12, I powered through what I assumed was a kidney stone to get some final shit taken care of at work. We had an out of town wedding that night and I was gearing up to leave in a few hours. However, by lunchtime I was texting my boss letting him know that my husband was instead taking me to the emergency room for my pain. Shocker, it was kidney stones. As I write this, all I can picture is the friends episode where Joey gets kidney stones and keeps trying to see if it could be anything else. NOPE, kidney stones.

I stuck around the hospital for a few hours, on amazing pain killers, and then went home, of course, missing the wedding. By Sunday, I was back in the hospital in the morning, sent home with some more powerful meds, and subsequently back in the hospital by dinner time, where I stayed until Tuesday morning. I had emergency surgery Monday night to place a stent and see what they could do, and then spend all week with the stent in. Now, if you’ve never had a kidney stone, consider yourself lucky. If you’ve never had a stent, consider yourself LUCKIER. That thing is by far the worst part. And not only did I have it for a week from emergency surgery, but I then had to go in for scheduled surgery the following Monday where they removed the kidney stones but placed another stent for a week.

Not only was I super blah because of the pain, but that was two weeks… TWO WEEKS Y’ALL of my leave that I did not get to do any of the things I had planned. There was no gym or trainer. There was no home cooked meals (unless you count grilled cheese or mashed potatoes). There was no cleaning or organizing. It felt like I had just totally wasted two weeks of my life to this stupid surgery that was not planned, but I guess in hindsight came at a good time since I was already on leave from work. That’s really the only silver lining, if I had to find one.

Long story short, I’m back. Immersing myself in loads of homework and blog writing while trying to get my life together and take some time to work on ME. That was the whole point of the break from reality (which is really what it is). Time for me to focus on my physical and mental and emotional health and stability, time for me to “do me” so to speak. So often we forget to take time for ourselves or take care of ourselves. I have lived for so long by that “I can do this tomorrow” or “I’ll start this after vacation” mantra, that I’ve let so many things slip through the cracks and slide on by. I needed this time for me, and while I may have ended up shortening the time by a few weeks, I still have 5 weeks left to meet my goals. Hopefully this break will give me a chance to write more and focus on what I want out of life and how to maintain my happiness and life a little more stress free. Who knows, maybe I’ll come out of this break totally refreshed and ready to take on the world. Only time will tell…

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My Almost Red Light Ticket

It’s been years since high school, and years since the days of trying to decide whether or not to skip last period and head to the mall or to the movies. 16 years to be exact. God that makes me sound and feel so old, but hey… who am I to judge and frankly I’m totally embracing the “old.”

ANYWAY, when I was 16 I got my drivers license. It was literally the best. Having a late birthday subsequently led me to be able to go to drivers ed at 15 with all my friends, so that when summer came around and I could get my learners permit, I was ready. I mean, READY. I took the classes, I did the driving time with the instructor, I studied that little stupid booklet they give you from cover to cover for days. So, I show up with my mom bright and early one Saturday to take the test for my learners permit. Now, it’s been a long time since I had to do this and maybe it’s the same still, but back then, you could only get a certain number (four) of questions incorrect and once that happened it stopped the test and basically said “thanks for playing, try again next Saturday.” The reason I know this, is because I got the first 4 out of 4 questions incorrect and through my tears that’s what I remember seeing.

Turns out, the lady working there had directed me to the incorrect computer and I was taking a test to apply for a CDL License. Seriously? No wonder I didn’t remember learning anything about how fast an 18 wheeler should go to get off an exit ramp at a particular angle, but then again, I was 15 so what did I know? After what seemed like a genuine, “oh, bless your heart hunny” she led me to the correct computer but I was an emotional mess and totally failed that test anyways. The Suz was pissed. But, what can ya do… so we went back next week where I passed. Fast forward a few months and it’s time to get a full on drivers license. Apparently, even if they say “ok the test is over go park in that lot” that does NOT in any way imply you do not need to come to a full stop at the stop signs, so obviously, I failed. I was so annoyed. Like, the stop sign was part of the test course and if the test was over, why did I have to stop? I remember the test guy literally telling me “if people were crossing there you’d have hit them” and I remember thinking “you moron, we are in the back of the DMV on a test course, no one is walking here…”

For the first few years of driving- basically through most of high school, I had to share a car with my mom. It was this gold Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera, which we eventually deemed “the loser cruiser” because well… it was a gold Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. Okay, okay- it wasn’t awful, and yes I was totally grateful to have any car, but at 16 the last thing you are excited about rolling up to the movies in, is a gold “mom car.” But for my 16th birthday, my parents installed a CD player and I was good to go. Some days I could drive to school, I guess if my mom didn’t have anything going on. Other days I had to get a ride.

I wasn’t a bad kid- I didn’t really skip school. I was involved in a lot of extracurricular activities that required me to be present and the daughter of a retired cop, so typically I’d just panic and go back inside, if I even made it to the parking lot. I know, sad right? But one day, in 2001, I decided to go for it. My friend and I decided today was the day that we were going to skip school and go to Annapolis Mall to hang out. I was ready. It was my first time skipping school without my mom knowing, and I had the car that day, so we were on our way. We made it to the mall okay, and just sort of hung out I guess until it was time to go home. I honestly don’t remember what we did, so clearly it didn’t make a real impact and must not have been that exciting. I do vaguely remember running a yellow light because a trucker was in front of me though…

But if we fast forward about a month later, this is where the story gets good. The Suz, who thinks she is hilarious apparently, decided to play a prank on me. She got one of those letters in the mail for a red light ticket. Sure enough, it was somewhere toward Annapolis mall in the middle of the day. I got home from school and this woman jumped in my shit.

Suz: So, I got this in the mail today- want to explain?
Me: What are you talking about?
Suz: The red light ticket, want to explain what happened here?

Now, at this point I was like “shit, I’m SO busted and SO dead” so I just start bawling and confessing (not to skipping school, just the light) and I’m like “OMG, I’m so sorry, there was a truck in front of me and I didn’t notice it was yellow and blah blah blah”

And do you know, the Suz was kidding? YUP, that’s right, I panicked, so she apologized and laughed… and now I was confused. 

Suz: {hysterical laughing- IN TEARS Y’ALL} Oh my God, I’m sorry don’t panic, I was kidding! This is my ticket! It’s ok! You’re not in trouble, it was a joke! see?! {holds up ticket}
Me: What? What do you mean?
Suz: Well look here, at the date and time. It’s a weekday, you were in school- this must be me and grandma on our way to Annapolis for a doctors appointment! GOTCHA! Man, that was good, I really had you going! You thought you got a ticket and panicked…see! I can be funny!

[crickets]

Just to re-cap here, I skipped school and got a red light ticket. The Suz assumed it was her since it was during school hours, but decided to “trick” me and pretend it was my ticket and I was in trouble, but it actually WAS my ticket, but she didn’t know that it was my ticket. So, did the prank really work? 

So, I stopped crying (and talking) at this point, because I mean… self incrimination. Had I literally just gotten off Scot free and –SHE- felt bad for upsetting and tricking –ME-? Was this real life? So…no one knew I skipped school and it was my ticket?

FANTASTIC

So, the Suz sent in her money for her red light ticket, and no one was the wiser until years later when I finally told her “hey, remember that time…” and we all almost died of laughter. She thought she was SO clever tricking me and it almost worked. I ALMOST confessed to skipping school, but thankfully I’ve learned from the best and know that you never give people more information than what they already know.

Do you guys have any awesome stories that you told your parents later in life? Like once you were an adult and couldn’t get in trouble anymore? I feel like there are SO many stories that my parents still probably don’t know, but at this point I usually tell them so we can all laugh about it. 90% of the time the Suz’s reply is “did you seriously think I didn’t know about that?”… which just proves that moms really DO know everything and are ALWAYS watching.

I ended up getting this little gem for my mom for her birthday one year, because #truth

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When Your Bestie Is A Badass

When you were growing up, did you ever have that person that you weren’t allowed to hang out with? One of mine was Erica. She was what I considered one of the “cool kids” and despite my desire to be her sidekick, my mom had other plans for me. That plan was for me to not associate with her because she was “bad”- whatever that means when you’re 14. Thankfully for my mom we were total opposites that ran in different circles, so I actually never really had plans to hang out with her, I just longed from afar. She was one of those badass girls that shined with confidence and would kick your ass in a heartbeat if you looked at her wrong. She wasn’t afraid to get into a fight with someone that earned it and apparently, the Suz didn’t want me fighting (or well, let’s be real, getting my ass kicked for my smart mouth).

At the same time she was off kicking ass and taking names, I was dating this older boy. We will call him B. B came into my life early in high school and we were super smitten. While ultimately we broke up (shocker) we remained friends and still tried to connect on holidays or when he was in town. And then I got the news- B had gotten married. And to that bitch ERICA. I don’t know if it was the fact that she was too cool for me in high school or jealousy over B, but I did not like what I was hearing. So, with that I started calling him on Christmas and because we were long time friends, he’d answer- and stop what he was doing with his new wife to talk to me- and that made me feel like a rockstar while subsequently pissing her off.

B and I lost touch over the next few years but made our way back to each other in our mid-20’s. Erica and I started chatting through a mutual friend and I realized that we actually had a lot in common so we decided the three of us should go out to a bar one night and all be damned if Erica and I did not end up becoming best friends y’all. And instantly. She was, and is, anything you could ever want or need in a best friend. She loves wine & sushi, she laughs at the dumbest shit & laughs at herself, she ALWAYS has your back and will take down any guys that hurt you, even if it means making a redhead cry or chasing down dates in parking lots. All of the things I was jealous of or hated about her in high school were all of the things I loved about this girl now. We basically became inseparable me and her. Eventually, B was out of the picture and while she was dealing with all of that drama, a new chapter of her life started.

At 31 years old, Erica was diagnosed with Stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Dumbed down, girlfriend had breast cancer. FREAKING BREAST CANCER. At age 31. MY BEST FRIEND.

Everyone thinks they are invincible, or they have that “eh, that’ll never happen to me” attitude, which is what I always had, until that moment. How was it possible that someone so young and so close to me was this sick? Over the next few months, she had a bilateral mastectomy and underwent 6 brutal months of “the red devil” chemo. Nurses had to wear hazmat suits to administer that shit, that is how scary and serious it was. In the next 6 months after that, she went through more rounds of chemo and thankfully survived. I honestly don’t know what the hell we would have done if she didn’t. I try not to think about that, like EVER. But can we just take a second and appreciate how freaking amazing this girl is? She had 3 young boys, was going through a separation, was going through chemo and dealing with cancer all while juggling a job she loved and not losing her mind. Shit, I can barely handle having a headache and getting up to take the dog to daycare and here she is hitting the ground running every morning. She’s one of those people that fits the saying “when her feet hit the ground, the devil thinks ‘oh shit, she’s awake’.”

My best friend survived cancer. She is surviving balancing a household and cooking dinners and rushing kids to sports and tackling algebra homework and maintaining a relationship and damn, just life in general. Thankfully, she now has an AWESOME man by her side that we all just totally adore. Even the Suz is a big fan and is always gushing over how she wants to hug him. But through the hard times, Erica never lost hope. She never lost that urge to fight, just now instead of fighting some asshole in high school or some guy that hurt me, she was fighting her own battle. Erica has courage, confidence and just a whole new outlook on life. If she was ever scared or fearful, you’d have never known it. I remember seeing photos of her hanging at chemo and I’d think- should someone with cancer look this happy?

Sure, she lost her hair- but she was confident in rocking that short hair and then shaved head and now her hair is growing back with some natural beach waves, which don’t even get me started on how jealous we all are of that phenomenon. People pay a lot of money to have their hair look like hers, and hers is just natural. Can you feel the jealousy in my veins? Her smile and laughter is contagious. She glows when she smiles, because she knows that despite all of the shit life threw at her, she is a damn survivor. Her story and struggles inspire me. Her bravery makes me feel brave. Any obstacle or struggle she faces, she knows that it could be a lot worse, so she just takes it with a grain of salt. You can just tell how more more she values life and love and happiness now. I mean, you literally cannot look at these before and after photos and tell me you don’t see the pure happiness radiating off this chick. Sure, she was sexy before, but check out that SHINE y’all. The smile says it all.

Erica before and after.jpg

She is a true inspiration to so many people, but most of all, she is my sister by choice. My very best friend. My partner in so so SO many crimes, my ride or die. She’s my person, and I love her and just want her to know how amazing and strong and courageous and beautiful inside and out she is. If I fall, she gets on the ground with me and we laugh till we cry. When I want to quit, she tells me to pull my shit together. She loves me when I don’t love myself and I couldn’t be more blessed and thankful for this girl right here.

I will say, she did come out of it with new perky boobs, which she always wanted anyways after having 3 kiddos ‘ruin’ her existing ones, so we always joke that this was the silver lining. And let me tell you, the boobies are nice. She’ll probably show you if you ask her nicely.

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The Fraud Mobile

My mom, since the beginning of time, has held onto cars until their death. A true believer in really getting your money’s worth, we had the ‘Loser Cruiser’ and ‘Grocery Getter’ for YEARS. Now, I really shouldn’t poke fun at the loser cruiser. It was this gold Oldsmobile that admittedly I actually liked because it was my only mode of transportation. Just the other day I was telling the hubs that for my 16th birthday, my parents actually put in a nice little CD player in since mom and I had to share the car. Frankly, looking back, I’m just grateful they let me share a car at all, the CD player was just an awesome bonus.

So, eventually, that car moved on, we all grew up and got new cars. The Suz, still determined to hang onto cars forever finally wanted to bite the bullet and get a new ride, all for herself. Her and my dad must have looked for years. She went back and forth, always looking for something that might be big enough for the whole family. She was concerned that on the off chance we all wanted to go on a road trip together, we’d have to take two cars. We tried numerous times to explain to her that smushing 6 adults (and NOT skinny ones) and 2 car seats just wasn’t a really realistic goal. And when i say she looked at and test drove probably 100 cars, that is NOT an exaggeration folks. She was legit. It had to be perfect.

She finally settled on what she claimed to be the perfect car. It was a gigantic SUV, the kind you see stepford soccer moms driving around, and low and behold, would fit all freaking 8 of us on a family trip. This car was over the top huge y’all. I’m talking needing a step ladder to get up into it. We tried to discourage her from getting it, knowing that she could really get something much smaller and more realistic since no one was actually going to pile in that car for a road trip that lasted more than 10 minutes. But she had to have it. And if she was doing it, she was doing it right- fully loaded.

Sh was so proud when they brought that car home. I mean, talk about a woman over the moon with excitement. Her whole family would fit, it had heated seats, a sun roof- what more could you ask for? Well, the car should have come with a prescription of Xanax.

So, I’m at home checking my bank account for some random reason, and suddenly notice that I’ve inherited about $20,000. I mean, clearly I was excited hoping that I had won some sort of prize or that the bank made some mistake and owed me 20k and was just giving me my money. But because I share an account with my mom, I could see that it was from her. And I thought to myself, “I wonder if she knows she did this?” I mean, hindsight being 20/20, I should have pretended I didn’t notice and immediately purchased tickets to Hawaii or something. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

So I call the Suz to ask about this newfound cash advance and she sounded panicked. I mean, PANICKED. She kept going on and on about how getting this car was such a terrible idea, what the hell was she thinking? How could we let her do this? Sensing she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, I went to the house to see what was up.

This is what she did y’all:

Step 1: Get excited and write a check for the down payment of the SUV

Step 2: Go home and panic since you don’t want the SUV anymore

Step 3: Transfer all of your money from your account to your daughters to “hide” the money

Step 4: Avoid prison

Yup, that’s right. She panicked and took all of the car money that she’d written a check for, and transferred it OUT of her account and INTO mine, and then told me not to touch it she was “working on it.” My dad about had heart failure, because my mom did NOT think this through and while it was kind of hilarious (well, it is NOW), it was clearly fraud. So, I’m now sitting on the sofa listening to him explain to her why this counts as fraud while she’s trying to defend herself, and I’m like “omg, should I get her a Xanax or a beer? Like is she going to be ok?”

Ultimately, she transferred the money back and then made my dad go back to the dealership and tell them that they didn’t actually want that car, but could they just get this other one instead and thankfully it all worked out. But it was a rough few days for the Suz. We all started referring to this SUV as “the fraud mobile” which she was not super impressed with but thankfully can look back now and find the humor in it.

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Husband Meets the Family

Today’s blog is dedicated to my awesome husband. He tried to tell me that I wasn’t allowed to tell stories about him but of course we compromised so here we are. Isn’t that the way a good marriage works? Compromise? We both give our input and then do what I want to do? Well, it works for us. I had to gently explain to him that if he wanted to be married to a blogger, he’d have to get used to some of the stories being about him. Maybe he won’t read this and will never know… who knows.

So, in early 2014 my now husband and I went on our first date. Fast forward a few months, things are going really well with us and I get this awesome promotion at work. My family decided we should all go out to dinner to celebrate and I thought that this setting would be a great opportunity for Rich to meet the family.

So, we get to Houlihans for dinner {obvi for the celebratory blueberry martinis} and Rich is early and waiting for us. My loud and crazy family arrives and we all go in to sit down. Rich and I sit on the outside of the booth (the chairs) and Nick and Ash sit next to each other as well. You’d think that the seating arrangements wouldn’t be an important factor to the story, but just you hang tight. Happy hour is going to be over soon and we’re all starving, but we’re also all catching up and gossiping. Dad tries to ask us like 20 times what we want to drink and as an appetizer, but people keep talking over him and eventually he just told the waiter to bring everyone two drinks to get happy hour prices. It was going to be one of THOSE nights.

Dinner was uneventful. Fun, but nothing of note happened at dinner. It’s what happened after dinner that literally has me hysterical laughing every time we tell this story {which would be never if it were up to my husband}.

Now, I should add a disclaimer here, that up until this point, Rich knew about my parents, my brother, my sister and their kid Allie. By this time, Ashley 2 (yes, yes, my brother married an Ashley) was basically like a real sister and so when speaking about her I didn’t really say ‘sister in law’ unless someone asked. My assumption was anyone who was unsure would ask on the premise of why would sisters have the same name?

I was wrong, by the way. Not everyone asks.

Rich and I get into the car after dinner and he looks mentally and emotionally drained. I mean, I get it bro, Harmons’ are a little bit wild crazy, but was it really THAT exhausting? Rich was pretty quiet during dinner, which wasn’t surprising since he’s a generally quiet dude, or was before me. So I start to ask him what he thinks of my family. And he wanted me to first and foremost know, that he likes the fact that my parents, especially my dad is so open and accepting of Nick and Ashley. I’m thinking, “well, yea.. I mean that’s his grandkids parents.” What I did not realize, was that all this time throughout dinner, hell, throughout our first few months of dating, Rich thought Ashley was my blood sister. Yes folks, that’s right. He not only thought that my parents named TWO kids Ashley Harmon, but … wait for it…he also thought that my actual brother and sister got married and had a baby. And that my family was just very modern and accepting.

Bless this man’s heart y’all he thought we were some weird ass family where brothers and sisters just make babies and live like normal people, and this man STILL WANTED TO DATE ME. I don’t know if that says more about me or about him, but damn did that not make for one of the best stories.

Note: My parents actually accidentally met rich at my house one night when I left him there sick to go to a party. He got to my house so we could go to my friends house for a party, and he didn’t feel good. And like the true excellent girlfriend I am, I said “well… that’s a bummer, I’m still going. You’re welcome to crash here and take a nap we can watch a movie when I get back” What I failed to remember was that I also told my parents that since I’d be out for the night, they could stop by (using their key) to get something out of my house. They heard someone in the house that wasn’t me and panicked, rich heard someone that wasn’t me and panicked… shit got real. I felt sort of bad that it was literally 100% my fault, but also not so much because I was drinking at a party and not home experiencing that awkward moment! WHOOPSIES!

Sorry babe, thanks for still marrying me.

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Monat Journey

I jumped on the Monat bandwagon about 3 months ago and to say I am impressed with results is an understatement. As someone with both baby fine and thin hair, I’m always up for trying new things that promise to strengthen my hair and give it some more life and body. I’ll be honest – the samples I tried did NOT impress me, but what DID impress me was all of the amazing reviews and testimonials and my girl Amanda’s customer service. So, with a margarita in one hand and my Amazon card in the other, I signed up for the VIP membership ($20 and it gets you free shipping- DUH) and set up my first few subscription orders.

BEST DECISION EVER Y’ALL.

For those of you now looking at Amanda’s awesome FB page and thinking “please tell me you did not spend $200 on shampoo”… fear not, it was actually only $168 {whoopsies} What can I say, I’m a sucker for trying new things and apparently money is no object after 10pm.

Amanda helped me with my hair goals and made some awesome suggestions. They have some awesome monthly promotions, and I signed up to get two systems and some added extras. Was it expensive, yes. Did I cringe a little hitting that “confirm purchase” button, absolutely.

The first thing you should know about this product is that it’s highly concentrated, so you ONLY need a teeny bit for each use. I was skeptical about this, but so far I’ve been able to follow the recommended usage and it’s lasting a long ass time. Secondly, some of the bottles are designed with a locking top. I stumbled upon this youtube video of how you’re ‘actually’ supposed to use the products like this and HOLY COW, MIND. BLOWN. Highly recommend checking out the video below if you’re going to make a purchase, because this shit will literally save your wallet.

At this point, I probably have enough products to be my own consultant, but for now I will stick to just stocking up on repair treatments and let people tell me how amazing my hair looks. Because really, what girl doesn’t like to hear that? If I was smarter, I’d have taken some before and after photos of my hair but I can assure you that other people are even noticing a difference in how healthy and amazing my hair looks.

They have some awesome promotions going on now along with their holiday collection. I am going to try to stock up on the travel collection so that I can take Monat with me on all my vacations, sparse as they may be.

Have any of you tried Monat? If you need more convincing, Melanie of Untamed Melodies just discovered Monat this month and totes gets the hype now.  Questions? ASK! I’d love to hear if you love Monat or any of the other hair products you swear by.

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