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Memories of the Hawaiian Room and Outer Space

23 Nov
Image courtesy of bulldogz at freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of bulldogz at freedigitalphotos.net

My uncle Barney Barnes just passed away. He was 82 years old, extremely intelligent, and a unique individual. I know that his widow and my Dad’s eldest sister, Aunt June, misses him greatly, as does my cousin Greg Ratcliff, who was greatly inspired by Barney in scientific ways.

I did not know Uncle Barney all that well into his later years, which I regret. But I do have vivid memories of time spent with him and my dad’s eldest sister, my Aunt June, when I was young. Here are some of them:

THE HAWAIIAN ROOM

When it came to visiting relatives’ houses, Aunt June and Uncle Barney’s mid-century modern home in east Columbus, Ohio was hands-down THE BEST. I’m confident that my brother Kirk and many cousins would agree.

June and Barney did not have any kids, so they were extraordinarily patient with their many nieces and nephews, but the key attraction in visiting them was their back room. One step down from the kitchen, this room was decorated entirely in a Hawaiian theme: tiki hut bar, palm tree, waterfall, and a lot of plants. I don’t remember whether or not the plants were real, but the palm tree was not. It didn’t matter.

For a young child, this room was 100% fascination and playground for me and my cousins. We served each other “drinks” from the tiki hut, rearranged the water flow in the waterfall (which I don’t think we were supposed to do), and pretended to be in, of course, Hawaii. I wish I could see that room today, but the house was sold long ago.

PROFESSIONAL ROLE MODELS

Both June and Barney were professionals–rare role models for me as a youngster.  They worked in engineering at North American Aviation/Rockwell International, and June went on to pursue a creative career as a photographer (my brother and I appeared as child models in many Christian Sunday school collateral).

Uncle Barney, notably, designed many missiles for Rockwell and then Boeing. I remember going to company parties at the Rockwell Park and receiving models of the Space Shuttle that they helped to architect. This was exciting–to have a relative playing a role in the company making the next generation of space exploration in the 1970s and 1980s. It made an early impression on me seeing my uncle’s use of his mind to create things, and this exposure in part inspired my desire  go to college and have a professional career. Uncle Barney was curious–and I absorbed a small part of his considerable spark.

THE INTERNET

In 1990, I went to Atlanta to visit Aunt June and Uncle Barney when I was a senior in college. They relocated there in the early 1980s when Rockwell was bought by Boeing. I remember sitting with Uncle Barney at his desk while he showed me a unique new thing: the Internet.

Barney demonstrated how he and his defense contractor colleagues shared “instantaneous”  messages through this new technology. It took longer to push things through the tubes then, but this was my very first look at the Internet, introduced by my technologically advanced Uncle Barney. I thought it was pretty cool, and since then I’ve sent and received about a million emails.

Rest in Peace, Uncle Barney. Your star is still shining brightly in our memories.

French Lesson

10 Aug
Image

Image courtesy of num_skyman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As I sit here on the back porch on a beautiful morning, enjoying my tankard of strong coffee and yogurt with fruit and granola, I’m appreciating the simpler things in life. Less is more in most cases, especially when it comes to food.

Some of this I learned while living with a family in southwestern France as an au pair, back in the Pleistocene Age (1989). Here’s why my breakfast made me think of this:

Plain yogurt is better than any other yogurt. Why?

There are no extra ingredients.

It is tart, has a lovely texture, and 100% real. The flavor is even better if left to sit close to room temperature. (Most Americans find this gross, but in France it is quite normal.)

Mountain High, Fage, or Stonyfield are my personal preferences. We buy the giant containers and use them up. Because it’s an Ohio company and because the milk is extraordinary, I want to also try Snowville Creamery’s plain yogurt.

And forget the 0% fat. For a dessert yogurt or a special treat, go for full fat…it’s the good kind so nothing to feel bad about. And for everyday use, 2% is fine unless you really need to shed pounds.

I always substitute plain yogurt for anytime sour cream is required (with burritos or tacos, gazpacho, baked potatoes). The flavor is better, and you get more goodness out of the experience because of the live and active cultures, or probiotics.

Especially interesting to point out that I learned this NOT while in the notoriously liberal Paris, but while living in an area of France well-known for its political, cultural, and culinary traditionalism. The family I lived with supported Jean-Marie Le Pen, an ultra-conservative politician whose daughter is following in his footsteps. (Note that I did not share the family’s positive opinion of Le Pen!)

My family in France earned their living through veal farming (the famous black and white “Limousin” cows named for the region) and a small factory that made animal food. But unlike many American farmers, they did not support the use of small pens or antibiotics. They never used them and would not consider it because they found both practices fundamentally wrong, in keeping with their traditional views on farming practice and healthy eating. I received regular lectures from my family about the negatives of antibiotics and why eating such tainted meat was unthinkable “en France.”

So that’s my take on being simple, brought to you by my breakfast and my memories of simple living in France.

Bottle Patrol

28 Jul

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Everyone has their thing.

My husband’s thing is to be OCD about windows and doors in the house, specifically windows and doors being open or closed at certain times of day. And fans being on or off at corresponding times of day, to maximize air flow in our “naturally” air-conditioned home.

And my thing is bottles. That’s right: bottles.

Specifically, it drives me crazy when people (i.e., my husband, and following in his footsteps my son) open a new bottle of something when there is already an available bottle that is not yet empty.

This is a significant issue in the refrigerator and in our bathroom. It happens with ketchup, mustard, pickles, and personal care products. I have come to believe that this issue is associated with the regular requests from my husband and son that go something like:

Where is my ___________?

Note that I get this question on a daily basis, in person, via text and voice mail. I can guarantee that if I have an early morning flight, as soon as I arrive at my destination I will hear this question from either my husband or my son.

Another variation on this same theme:

I can’t find the milk (I just bought) in the refrigerator. Where did you put it?

My response:

If you just bought it and put it in there, why can you not find it yourself? Do you still have eyes?

And,

Why do I have to know where all of your stuff is?

If I am not around to answer these questions, then a new bottle of (fill in the blank) gets opened.

I have dubbed myself “Bottle Patrol” in order to keep this problem in check. This is a real-life story about the hell I go through to keep this house organized in terms of bottles.

Two weeks ago, I had to consolidate body wash, dandruff shampoo, and conditioner in the bathroom because there were so many opened bottles of the same thing. It took me an hour to do this, upending bottles and draining them into corresponding already open bottles, rinsing out the empty ones, and putting empty and washed bottles into the recycling.

This morning, Bottle Patrol was on duty yet again. This is often the case after my husband makes the bi-weekly trip to Costco. He grew up Mormon and therefore has a natural instinct for stockpiling large amounts of supplies. The man has strong survivalist tendencies. His philosophy of “More is better” gets him in trouble with the Bottle Patrol.

Upon entering the bathroom this morning, I noticed that the problem I’d cleaned up two weeks ago had reappeared:

Three bottles of dandruff shampoo (two as of yet unopened) and two bottles of body wash (one still unopened) were overpopulating the shelf in the shower.

My response (he was not here to hear me say it):

No, no, and NO! Why do you keep doing this! We have tons of storage space for all your extra supplies. Why do you have to put the new bottles into rotation when the old one is not yet empty? Why, why, WHY?

I often go on to ask myself:

What does he think will happen that he puts so many flipping bottles of stuff in the shower? Will he for some reason be taking a shower and finish off the opened bottle of dandruff shampoo, and then have to be forced to open BOTH of the new bottles? The man has no hair. I cannot imagine this happening!

My son, as mentioned, has these same tendencies. Being a newly minted pre-teen, he is all of a sudden uber-hygiene-aware. He is stuck on Dove Men’s Body Wash EXTRA FRESH with Cooling Agent and Micro-Moisture. Promptly upon opening a new bottle, he announces:

Mom, I need more of the Dove Men’s Body Wash, THE GREEN EXTRA FRESH KIND. Can you get me three bottles?

Clearly, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to bottle accumulation.

I will train that kid, but my husband is beyond help.

Like Riding a Motorcycle

9 Jul

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About halfway back during our return trip to Columbus from the Outer Banks, the AC died in our car. I think this was karmic payback. Since we missed all the power outages while we were playing on the beach and enjoying air-conditioned goodness in our our vacation manse, we had to pay the price.

While simultaneously being deafened, windburned, and sunburned due to open windows all through the Blue Ridge mountains, I tried to imagine myself on a motorcycle. (It worked out pretty well unless the complaining from my kids in the back seat interrupted the flow of my imagination.)

In my motorcycle dream, I looked like Penelope Cruz in a Pedro Almodovar movie, gracefully accelerating my motorcycle across the Spanish flatlands with wind turbines in the background. (To keep the dream alive, there had to be many wind metaphors, along with me looking like Penelope Cruz with windblown hair.)

The reality is that I looked more like the crazy lady riding the moped in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. My hair achieved a variety of full-volume not even possible with repeated blow-drying. I accentuated this look with a Starbuck’s coffee frappuccino serving as a functional air conditioner in the old school “before we had cup-holders” position.

Ah, the sophisticated look of a mid-40s lady. Yep, that’s me.

Family Time

4 Jul

I am currently at the Outer Banks in North Carolina, on vacation with my extended family. There are 18 of us in a four-story house, with five branches of the Edwards clan. Eleven of the group are under the age of 25. Man, this house is loud.

Some highlights:

  • Overhearing my 11-year-old son and his two similarly aged cousins having a discussion about “Monk” while hot tubbing. “Did you see the one where….?” About 100 times.
  • Grocery shopping with my husband, making quiches one afternoon in an empty kitchen while everyone was at the beach…and other fairly routine activities that are made all the better by having ZERO competing obligations or distractions.
  • There are more bathrooms in this house than I can precisely remember. I think there are eight. A real necessity with so many people. I could go on…
  • This house has fabulous AC, powered by the wonders of electricity. Back at my house in Columbus, the power has been out several times, and it has consistently been 100 degrees. Here, it is only in the upper 80s. Cue the “ha-ha” sound effect.
  • There are several children among the contingent of cousins with behaviors reminiscent of my own children’s when they were younger. I find them endearing, and at the same time am quite pleased to be beyond having to police my kids.

Probably the best part of the trip has been seeing my kids get to catch up with all of their cousins, who live in Maine, Florida, and California. It must be a very instinctive behavior to get goosebumps as a parent when all of the kids are together. Something tribal or clannish about this. I wish we all lived closer–but it’s impressive that everyone stays caught up via Facebook, Skype, and texting.

With this very large extended family of my husband’s, I often find myself being an observer. There are so many big, loud, lovable personalities to just sit back and watch. I’m thankful to experience the rollicking fun (and occasional insanity) of being in a big family. Good times.

 

Permission to Zumba

14 Jun

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have discovered that embarrassing my teenaged daughter is a relative thing.

A few weeks ago, she decided to take a Zumba class. This is a new fitness approach developed by a Colombian man and involves a vast menu of dance moves, including belly-dancing, hip-hop, and meringue–interspersed with squats, martial arts, and the occasional Bollywood move.

I offered to join her and was quickly rebuffed. “Please don’t.”

It’s true that I have been accused of being a great embarrassment to her. Sad, I know.

Well then. So much for bonding with my daughter before she becomes a fully licensed driver in October and I never see her again. (This is what will happen if she follows in my pattern as a teenager. Luckily, so far she has not followed in my footsteps except in a few good ways, so she’ll probably stick around.)

But tonight, she went to the class and came back to report: “Um, it’s okay if you want to come with me. There’s no one my age there. It’s all older ladies like you.”

And so, just like that, I have been granted permission to Zumba.

Apparently my attendance is only a problem if other teens are present. I probably would have felt the same way at her age. I’ll take this opportunity to spend some time with my firstborn.

Whetstone Rec Older Ladies, watch out for me and my daughter. We are ready to Zumba like nobody’s business.

An Optimistic Start?

28 Dec

Speeches have been on my mind. I have a few lined up this week, and they do get my blood going. The build-up, the thrill of the unexpected (hopefully not something embarrassing) and the fun of sharing information with a group that is actually interested in learning something. For all of these reasons, I have come to seek out opportunities to present. This was not always the case.

imagesMy first experience with public speaking was with the Reynoldsburg, Ohio Optimists’ Club. I was in fourth grade (I think?). My memory is not so good here, probably because this was not a positive experience. Sorry, Optimists!

There were lots of other kids lined up to speak. Probably 25 or so, several from each grade level in the school district. We were somewhat on home turf for me as the event was held at the church I grew up in. Methodist. (This was before my brother and I transferred over to St. Pius X, which led to my later becoming Catholic.) All of us waited in a hallway outside a very small, hot and stuffy library where each orator had his or her brief shining moment. The judges chose the best orator from each grade level and presented awards to each at the end.

I was more than a little intimidated while waiting in the hallway for my moment. I was nerdy, like everyone else there, so I had no reason to feel self-conscious. but I was probably more obsessive-compulsive than the rest and had an amazing ability to worry about every possible worst-case scenario. Here’s what was going through my head:

  • What if my notecards get out of order?
  • What if I open my mouth and nothing comes out?
  • What if I pee my pants?
  • What if my notecards get out of order?
  • What if I sweat so much that a puddle starts forming underneath me?
  • What if I pee my pants and sweat so much…..and so forth?

I had a good hour of running through these questions in my mind, visualizing each one of them happening, over and over. By the time I got to the front of the line, I was on adrenalin overload. I could have accomplished a major athletic feat, but instead I walked into a very hot little room with lots of serious-looking grown-ups who’d likely had their fill of kids giving speeches. I felt like I was free-falling.

Here’s what happened:

  • I did not get the notecards out of order, clam up or pee my pants.
  • I DID sweat a lot, have a very shaky voice, almost drop the notecards because my hands were shaking so much and talk so fast thatIgotthroughmyspeechinabout30seconds.
  • I did not win an award, nor did I deserve one.
  • My poor dad. He was there in the audience and probably wondered what the hell happened to me out in that hallway with the other kids. (He once defended my honor when I dropped a ball I should’ve caught while playing left-field with my third-grade softball team. Another parent made a critical comment in the stands and he nearly created a scene. Will write more about this another time. Go, Blue Blazers!) Mom was not there as she was stuck at home with severe agoraphobia. Afterward, Dad congratulated me and told me I did a really great job, and he was proud of me.

I am really grateful to my dad for his hopeful attitude about my future. I don’t think I gave him a very good glimpse of it that night, but he believed in me anyway. And I am happy that I don’t get nerves before speaking anymore.

To date, the Optimists remain my most difficult audience.

Forgotten Love Letters

27 Dec

Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Back in the 90s Ben and I lived in a small brick apartment building in Grandview, right behind the St. Christopher Church and Trinity School playground. It was our first off-campus home as newlyweds. We moved there after I graduated from OSU in 1991.

The building was the smallish variety, with just four units, so that we knew everyone around us–mostly because we could all hear each other through the walls. Below us was an older gentleman from Bulgaria who made exotic dishes requiring mysterious herbs in small baggies, which my cat would retrieve from his apartment and bring back to us on occasion. And next to us was an older couple in their 60s or 70s, named Agnes and Steve.

All of us shared a basement. Around the time we moved in, we were putting a bunch of our boxes down in the basement and were cleaning out the area that was “our” storage space, just beyond the laundry chutes. We found a dusty old box of letters that we’d been told were the remnants of previous tenants. I opened the box and took a look.

These were intense love letters, from WWII, written by a soldier to his girlfriend. The guy was a prolific writer and the passion of a 20-year-old who’s away from the one he loves. He missed her terribly and went through a lot of paper saying so.

There wasn’t anything sublime in the letters–mostly what you’d expect. In one letter, he mentioned resisting the temptation of a solders’ night out in the city, all for her. (The guy was earnest but not a good liar, by the way.) In another letter, he clearly described which parts of her he most missed, in graphic detail. I couldn’t help noticing that he signed his name “Steve,” and the letters were addressed to “Agnes.”

Well, this could not be a coincidence. Feeling a bit embarrassed to have rifled through my neighbors’ love letters, I closed the box back up and went upstairs to tell my husband. Sheepishly, we took the box to our neighbors, not mentioning that it “had been opened.” Interestingly, they said that the letters did not belong to them and told us to put the box in the trash.

We lived in the apartment for about two years, and since the love letter incident, we discovered more about Agnes and Steve, thanks to our thin walls. They argued a lot–loudly. Steve snored–loudly. And every few nights Steve wanted to do things that Agnes didn’t. They argued, things got quiet, and then Steve snored.

The repetition of their argument–the same one every time–was both sad and comical. It was sad because they were oblivious to how ridiculous it had become. I wondered how long they had been caught in this loop.

As a naive and newly married 23-year-old, the state of Steve and Agnes’ relationship baffled me. How could they write letters so full of life and love, then deny ever writing the letters and sink into the opposite of domestic bliss? Maybe the letters were a bittersweet reminder of things past–a life so long ago that it didn’t really belong to them anymore.

I could never find any resolution to this mystery, and after a few years we moved into another Grandview apartment where we could no longer hear Steve and Agnes. That was 20 years ago, and I’m sure that they have moved on as well–perhaps even passed on.

Steve and Agnes taught me a lesson about love. When the spark and joy of relationship fade so far into the past that you don’t care about throwing memories away, when you repeat yourself over and over again and fall deeper into the rut of the same argument, when the status quo becomes good enough, having past tense love doesn’t make a difference. I’m thankful to have learned that lesson.

The Search for Perfect Waffles

23 Dec

Image: Rawich / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yesterday, the kids and I ventured out into holidayland (aka Target) to purchase a gift from them to my husband.

My husband clearly defines what gifts he wants for Christmas each year, from me and from the kids. Down to the make, model, and serial number. This is because I have a history of giving him gifts that he really doesn’t like. A few examples:

  • 1987: A snake ring. I thought it was really cool, but he’s not a snake ring kind of guy. Honestly, I’m not sure what I was thinking. They must have been burning some extra-strong incense at Tradewinds (vintage Columbus-ites will remember this hippie campus tchotchke store), which is where I made the unfortunate purchase.
  • 1988: A juice-maker. Although he’d never expressed interest in receiving one, I thought that he probably really wanted one. I was wrong.
  • 2007: A really cool metal mobile made by a Columbus artist who used to be a barista at Cafe Brioso, David Morgan. This mobile is very modern-looking with lots of abstract shapes and mirrors and is hanging in our big room, but it’s become part of the “why the he!! did you think I wanted that?” collection. Several friends have complimented me on it. It truly is a work of art and I love it, but Ben has determined it was more for me than him. Well, maybe.

You will note that I had a good run of 19 years in there. Hey, we’re not all perfect. The only good explanation that I can give is that when pushed against the wall (because I normally buy gifts at the last minute) I have lapses in taste (notably, the first two items above, not the last).

Back to Target. Now, I know that the waffle-maker variety my husband has determined the kids can afford ($40, he won’t let them spend more). In a fit of unprecedented early preparation, I’d skated through the kitchen small appliance aisles at our local Target and found “it” a couple of weeks ago, but the whole point is to have the kids and their wallets with me when making the purchase. So I felt pretty proud that I’d done some reconnaissance work well in advance.

It took us 20 minutes to get in and out of the store, even in the midst of the busy holidays. Yet another pat on the back for me, eliminating wasted time wandering around the store, etc. And, added bonus, the thing was $20 less than I’d originally thought, saving the kids’ allowance money.

We get home, and my daughter has volunteered to wrap the waffle maker. As we’re getting out the wrapping paper, she says, “Hey, this one doesn’t flip.” What? WHAT? WHAATTTTTT!

Yes, it’s true, we picked the wrong one off the self. Dangflabbit. This inferior non-flippable version was right next to the flippable one that we wanted. Explaining the lower price. Ugh.

So last night, after my daughter and I went with friends to see the Nutcracker, we go back to the neighborhood Target to get THE waffle maker. It was 11 pm, and we could have done cartwheels down the aisles it was so dead in that Target. Pretty smooth process with the return, until we get to the small appliance aisle, and of course all of the flippable ones are gone.

After 20 minutes of wandering around the store to find a customer service person (after incorrectly pegging several unsuspecting innocents wearing red), we locate a true Target employee, a young woman with dyed-black hair and multiple swirly tattoos on her arms. She comes to help us out with her revved-up calculator inventory-checker thingy and scans the product code to find out if they have any “in back.”

After five minutes of scanning, pushing buttons, and saying nothing to us, she pronounces, “We don’t have any in back. Do you want me to see what other stores have them?”

Well, why the he!! not? It’s 11:15 pm, and what else do we have to do? There will be no sleep until we finish this thing. I do not want to be hunting for this blasted waffle maker on Christmas Eve Eve.

She asks, “Do you know the DCPI?”

Since I do not speak the Target dialect of Vulcan, why no, I do not. But she tells us that by knowing this top-secret product code we can properly determine whether or not the store has the exact waffle maker of our liking. Since this is still a foreign language to me, I let her do the honors by checking on her revved-up calculator inventory-checker thingy. Polaris, Sawmill, and Lennox have them. Ding-ding. We can quickly run to Lennox.

“Do you want me to have them save one for you just in case?” she asks.

Of course I do. I am taking no chances.

So she pages the friendly guy at customer service that moved me through so quickly minutes ago, but the guy says that I can come up to the customer service desk and use their phone to call Lennox because he “has Guests waiting in line.”

Forget it. I can call them on my way there, or take my chances that no one will take the last 2 flippable waffle makers at 11:30 pm. As I walk by the customer service desk on my way out, I see that there’s one person in line. Thanks, perky customer service guy. Also, I am not your Guest…I am just someone who wants to buy a waffle maker and get the heck out of here.

Daughter in tow, we shoot over to the Lennox Target. I am now competing against a mystery shopping opponent who also wants one of the two remaining superior waffle makers at the Lennox Target. The clock is ticking, and I WILL get there first. En route, I alternately hum and whistle “The Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairies,” which has the intended purpose of driving my daughter nuts and does work.

Upon arrival at the store, we see that since everything’s set up the same, this is going to be quick and easy.

Back again in the familiar small kitchen appliance aisle, there are NO waffle makers of our variety. Of course.

Right around the corner there’s a helpful Target Host ready to assist me, his Guest. He too has been equipped with a revved-up calculator inventory-checker thingy but has learned more English than his Vulcan Graceland Target Hostess friend. Plus he’s funny. While waiting for him to follow the same five-minute scanning and button-pressing process as his cohort, my daughter and I walk around to the end-cap and I knock into a Kitchen Maid can-opener, which falls to the ground and breaks. “I saw nothing!” declares my witty Target Host. And then, “You’re in luck, we have one ‘in the back!'”

And so we follow him, and he smartly agrees with me when I say, “These damned waffles had better be good.” We wait by the bra and undie section while he searches through “in the back.”

As our Target Host swings through the doors with box in hand, the “Hallelujah Chorus” is playing on the muzak. Until I see that the box he has in hand is for the same unflippable variety waffle maker that we just returned at the Graceland store. “This isn’t it, is it?” I now realize that “in the back” is a terrible place of mere illusion.

Are we going to have to leave the store with the same inferior waffle maker that we’d returned shortly ago?

I tried to convince my daughter that a fondue maker or cupcake-shaped cupcake-maker or donut-shaped donut-maker would be great, but at this point I’ve clearly reached the danger zone that brought about the snake ring oh so many years ago.

My daughter helped to find a solution that will (hopefully) make my husband happy. She has good taste and a smart head on her shoulders.

I will report back on the end of this story after the gift has been opened.

Birthday Magic

21 Dec

Image: m_bartosch / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yesterday was a good birthday. Let me count the ways:

  1. While I love my work, I was able to leave a bit early, and a minimum of annoyance happened throughout the day. While at work, I celebrated with a colleague who shares the same birthday by giving her a mix tape/CD that I made for her…I think she will like it.
  2. I got my new license, sliding in just under the wire 15 minutes before the BMV closed.
  3. I ate dark chocolate (during my last two conference calls of the day, phone on mute).
  4. My friend Ali Cloth gave me a yoga gift certificate and some beautiful flowers. Plus a great card with this hilarious message: “It’s so nice to have friends that are worth the time….otherwise I wouldn’t keep hanging around your ass.”
  5. Lots of people wished me happy birthday, thanks to the electronic reminders at work and on Facebook. It really is the best thing just to hear/read people say/write it!
  6. My husband made the most fabulous dinner: Medium rare filet mignon, giant baked potatoes with sour cream and freshly cut chives, and a lovely salad.
  7. My husband bought me the best birthday cake from a new bakery close to Graceland. Fluffy white cake with three layers of chocolate ganache and a butter cream icing (not too much, not too sweet). And hey, guess what’s for breakfast today?
  8. My kids and husband bought me a new set of Fiestaware (lime green)–since they know I like practical gifts. They also got me a new necklace and earrings, since they also know that I like personal gifts. Added bonus: The dishes came wrapped in a very large sheet of bubble wrap, which made a thunderous popping sound as I jumped up and down on top of it.
  9. And then, my kids and I watched all of “The Simpsons” Christmas episodes. I always believe it’s good to end the day with something sublime.
  10. Today, as I have my second piece of birthday cake for breakfast, the world will officially begin to become a brighter and better place. So even though it’s raining cats and dogs in Columbus, Oh. and becoming more like a rainforest by the second, the days are getting longer. Take THAT, crappy wet weather.

And that, my friends, is the making of birthday magic.