Friday, June 29, 2012


So remember how I said I'd make up for only posting columns? Yeah, I lied. Don't look so surprised—you knew what I was when you started reading my blog. Well, maybe not when you started, but it had to have become clear when you returned. And yet you did...which continues to stump me.  ;) And for which I bow in gratitude. Two fingered heart pound kiss. Now, I give you my latest submission:


Some of you may know me from my days playing Betsy Ross. You remember—the theme was The Bicentennial. The year, 1976. There I sat, in a wagon, being jerked in circles around the grassy field of Syracuse Elementary as I pulled my make believe needle in and and out, of the beautiful flag that lay across my very important lap. And okay, sure, I was one of about 300 children with wagons and bikes decorated in red, white and blue crepe paper, but my mother had made me a mop cap, so I’m pretty sure you saw this star being born. And if not, well...I’m sad for you.
Such were the original Syracuse Heritage Days parades. But back then, we called it SYRACUSE STAKE FUN DAY! The LDS Stake was the host, but the entire city was welcome and came. You couldn’t help but know about it either, because just as dawn broke on the beautiful June Saturday, the entire town was jolted awake by Duffy Palmer and friends—Chet Ashby, Kay Darrington, Buck Holbrook and others—driving through every single neighborhood with a crackling bull horn, alerting us to the day’s activities. If the parent’s slept through the announcements, the kids’ screams of excitement would take it from there.
After the pancake breakfast and parade, ladies sold freshly baked bread, apple pies, taffy and fudge in the tented booths. Far as I knew, nothing was “Made in China”. It was made in our kitchens. Under the bowery, (where I kissed boys) men in aprons cooked scones, hamburgers and tacos and poured ice cold, foaming root beer. Everything cost a ticket, and you had to stand in line to buy them, which was AGONIZING for a child hearing the siren song of the fishing pond, because we just KNEW all of the good toys would be gone!
Assorted attractions covered the lawn—a mini train with wooden seats for the toddlers. Pooping horses all saddled up for a guided trot. The whirling wheel powered by burly men and teenaged boys where you’d climb in, strap yourself down and they’d spin you until their muscle power ran out. 
But the ride we anticipated more than aaaaaaaall the rest, was the “Bumpity Bump” ride. That’s right. The Bumpity Bump—an old gated flatbed truck with no shocks, lopsided wheels and car seats that lined the perimeter. Basically, the ride consisted of driving around the grassy field and bouncing. And by bouncing, I mean ALL HECK BROKE LOOSE, BODY PARTS FLEW THROUGH THE AIR, LITTLE KIDS RICOCHETED OFF EACH OTHER, BUMS LANDED ON HEADS, ELBOWS INTO EYE SOCKETS AND WE LAUGHED SO HARD WE ALMOST THREW UP! When it rolled to a stop and they opened the gate, we tumbled out in a sobbing, laughing, hysterical pile, covered in unidentified bodily fluids. Then we quickly searched around in each other’s skulls, found our two front teeth, plucked them out, and handed them to our mothers, as we ran back in line to do it all over again.
As the day wore on, they held the Old Timers’ Baseball Game. At bat were Thurgoods and Thaynes and Hamblins and Cooks. Fielders were Hansens, Barbers, Stokers and Briggs. Hand sewn quilts for auction lined the chain linked fence, and the rope pull with teenagers vs. men ended with the fathers dragging their kids across the length of the field until the rope snapped.
We eventually returned home, out of tickets, worn to a frazzle and covered in sunburnt flesh and snow cone syrup. Our mothers would bathe us, drain the water, and bathe us once again. Then, dressed in summertime pajamas and slicked back hair, we pulled our bean bags onto the front lawn, climbed under a blanket, and watched as twilight turned to pitch, which signaled the fireworks display. We’d oooo and ahhh and hope with each passing BOOM that this was not the finale.
They stopped with the bull horn when somebody on grave shift complained to the city. The homemade fudge likely ended when another became sick and pointed a finger of blame. The auctions and bumpity bumps and rope pulls and ball games ceased over the course of the years, as the Stake handed the reigns to the City, and the carnival came riding into town.
Boom. Silence. We didn’t realize until too late—the finale. 
But for those of us who remember the way it used to be...Oh, how we bless your heart, our old time Syracuse. Because every year, for one glorious day in June, Syracuse was Harrington Town. And we were Pollyanna.
“Oh what did you do in the summertime, when all the world was green? Did you sit by the stream (irrigation canal) and lazily dream on the banks as the clouds went by? Is that what you did? So did I....”

Thursday, June 14, 2012


I'm getting shameless, only posting with newspaper articles, rather than fresh blogs. You deserve better. I'll come up with something brand new soon, even if I have to make it up! (Like I've never done that before. Ha!) ;)


I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m not a fan of my children having girlfriends or boyfriends in their teenaged years. And it’s not that I don’t trust them. It’s just that I don’t trust the flaming hormonal parade that IS them. So no, actually I DON’T trust them.
I’ve done my best to discourage any of their possible love interests from emotional and physical attachment. Through trial and error, I’ve found the most subtle way to do this is to put a pan of sulfur on to boil, when I know they’re coming over. This leads to a hasty departure and I click the lock behind them. Listen, a mother does what a mother has to do, people. 
This is not to say the battle is won. In fact, my daughter recently admitted to me that she is “going out”.  But truth be told, elementary crushes don’t really count, because the two of them only speak through interpreters, and haven’t made actual eye contact since they agreed to become linked. 
And to be honest, all of my kids had their fair share of early romance. My firstborn son was a chick magnet for older women, as he was deceptively tall. He loved this, until one summer afternoon when a flock of them came to call, then sat giggling like idiots on our couch. I hid behind the wall eavesdropping, as any good mother would do, when I heard this conversation extinguisher, “Sooooo...(uncomfortable silence)...any of you paint your toenails lately?” The discrepancy between his physical and intellectual development was suddenly so evident, their eyes rolled in unison and they all left in disgust.
My second son had an intense attraction to the daughter of a friend of mine, requiring me to drive him across town for play dates. He brought her valentines in October, and thousands of sketches of her standing under a rainbow. One day they were playing together in her backyard, and he accidentally let a shovel fly through the air, which whacked her in the head. She went wailing into her mother, and he climbed quietly into our car, never to return with honor again.  
My third son spent every waking moment polishing the skill of lifting one leg behind his head and hopping around on the other. When we received his 4th grade year book, we were surprised to see that every picture had been taken on the same day, as he was wearing identical clothing, and his foot was behind his left ear. Turns out nope. Not the same day. All different days. Apparently some girl had told him she liked that jacket and his trick was awesome. So he wore and performed them both. Every single day. Of the entire fourth grade. And never once do I recall washing that jacket.
I’m sorry, Mrs. Provost. So very sorry. 
‘Course, I myself had a bigamist love affair with Shawn and Joby from pre-school through fourth grade. I held them both spellbound, until Neely bewitched them by running across the playground faster than me, ending my reign of love in a pool of sweat and grass stains. But not before I was given my first real gift from a boy—a bottle of puce green finger nail polish. Regrettably, my mother deemed it, “hideous,” and made me throw it away. But I snuck it back out, painted my nails and admired my split-pea nubs all night long, lamenting how my mother just didn’t understand young love. 
This awakened in me a desire to find more boys willing to give me stuff, and I soon became loose and crafty with my promises, as I told my 5th grade boyfriend that, “I think I might like to kiss you behind the bowery. I love Atomic Fire Balls and Bubblicious gum.” (raised eyebrow and sideways grin)
Lucky for us all, that was about the time I entered the ugly stage. My disproportionate nose and love of sky blue eyeshadow kept me on the platform long past the curtain call, which may have been a tender mercy from heaven, saving me from myself.
Eventually I climbed back down to let someone else be ugly for a while, but by that time, I could buy my own candy and had little use for boys and boweries. It was also about that time I met my husband, and he gave me the best present ever, which I wear on my left hand. 
This brings us back to the reason I continue to interfere in the love lives of my teenaged children. There’s something greater on the horizon, and my job is to keep them distracted—even with rotten egg gas—until they’re able to see it on their own. And if this means I buy stock in Febreze and light matches like a caveman, well, so be it.
Bless my very determined heart.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Seems I'm lazy. Like that's news. Here's another newspaper article, but this time...THIS TIME...IT WAS PUBLISHED IN TWO NEWSPAPERS! Totally famous now. Don't hate.


My daughter is playing city ball. I have been happy (compelled) to attend every practice, every game, and often commanded with raised eyebrows to report back the highlights in order to prove I was paying attention. We also had to furnish her with a new ball, bat, glove and shoes, because apparently she was the ONLY ONE wearing flip flops in the dugout, which I find hard to believe, but whatever. Of course, at the end of all of this, she’ll likely receive a two foot trophy for, “Best Ponytail.” This makes me question the sanctity of the league. 
Now when I played city ball, it went something like this, 
“Hey, Mom, I’m goin’ to my game! Do we have a mitt I can use?” 
“I don’t think so—use your hand. Have fun!” 
Repeat every week ‘till the end of the season, culminating with, 
“Hey, Mom! We won the championship game!” 
“Fantastic! I’m so proud of you! Now go clean your bathroom.”
This kind of thing happened regularly. In fact, I think the first words out of my mother’s mouth when Nicki was crowned Homecoming Queen were, “Homecoming Queen? Wonderful! What a beautiful tiara. Here, I’ll hold it while you go clean your bathroom.” 
Now it wasn’t that she wasn’t tickled for us. Or supportive. Or that we had really dirty bathrooms. It’s just that the sun didn’t rise or set on our golden fannies, which is a good way to see your children, if you ask me. I remember when I was trying out for the squad and my mother said, “Lisa, we don’t really CARE if you’re a cheerleader. We don’t really WANT you to be a cheerleader. In fact, we would really rather you NOT be a cheerleader, as it will be a terrible burden on our family. And with that being said, I want to make it crystal clear to you that if, at any time, your head becomes inflated, or you turn rotten and snotten, or heaven forbid, you begin to act entitled, I WILL RIP YOU OUT OF THAT UNIFORM SO FAST YOUR HEAD WILL SPIN.” 
She said that last part quietly, but it screamed and echoed through my brain...while I cleaned my bathroom.
Apparently, my mother found no pleasure in living vicariously through me. Inconceivable. (I bet you all said that with a lisp. Thank you, Princess Bride.)
My dad felt the same way. He’d known his fair share of kids who’d let their titles and sweaters get the best of them, and he wasn’t about to let his own children join the ranks. I’ll never forget going into town with him one afternoon. I had come straight from a school event and was wearing a shirt that the varsity team had chosen for us. FOR THE RECORD, I WAS A LOWLY JV, AND HAD NO SAY IN THE MATTER—A LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER, PEOPLE. AN INNOCENT, BLAMELESS, EXPLOITED BABY LAMB. Anyway, the back was completely devoid of any buttons or zippers—just gaped wide open making some sort of slutty fashion statement, and beckoning for the wrong kind of attention. 
Crossing the parking lot, I accidentally walked directly into my father’s line of vision, and Bam! Lightning fast came the grab and clench of his fist to the back of my shirt while he propelled me into the first store in the mall to ask for a safety pin. I didn’t say a word. Just picked up speed right along with him, as I knew my name was Mudd.
Many lessons were learned that day. First, avoid walking in front of your father if you’re tramping it up. Second, record stores don’t have safety pins—neither do Mervyns, ZCMI, Nordstrom, Nations Creations, Hallmark, The Copper Rivet, Orange Julius or the entire food court. And last, but most important, dads are protectors. Not friends.
Now this is not to say that my mother and father have not become my very best friends. In fact, all those years ago, we spent many wonderful, laughing, delightful times together, being just that. But their allegiance was first and foremost to parent. To raise up a child in the way she should go. Work without praise, be modest and have integrity. Three lessons taught that will bless generations much more than a trophy or a sweater or a tiara in a glass case ever could.
And now that I am old, I will not depart from it...mostly because it’s safety pinned to my blessed heart.