Free Dinner for Those Buying Cemetery Plots

Recently I received the most peculiar invitation in the mail. This gem contained complimentary admission tickets “good for two” persons for FREE FOOD! Now with the hunger crisis widespread throughout our country, why on earth were they trying to give ME and my plus one a free meal?

At first I was keyed up by the prospect of someone wanting to award me something, especially if that something might include perhaps ice cream; but then I remembered a prophet’s advice, “No one gives out ice cream for free, unless they want something in return.”

So I called my mother, who is the oldest person I talk to on a regular basis, so that puts her closest to prophet status. I asked her, “Do you think this free meal is some kind of a scheme?” Being that she is a savvy retired elementary school educator, she asked, “Who sent these tickets to you, my child?”

I turned back to the not-so-fine print (actually it was in bold, italicized and about a 32-point font). This might be a first warning  to slow down a bit in life, or else bump up to the next level on my cheap drugstore reader glasses.

This is when I should have hung up the phone or claimed I had the wrong number; but I had already announced to my mother who I was, called her by name, and discussed who was coming to a family get-together. So I’m pretty sure she recognized my voice.

I tried to cough, sneeze and mumble at the same time, “A funeral home.”

Although, since she is my mother and can understand every word of mine even if I had all my teeth knocked out and my lips sewn shut, she blurted, “How did you get on THEIR list?”

“Weight Watchers, I can only assume,” I sighed as if receiving an unsatisfactory mark on my report card.

Then to add salt & vinegar potato chips to my wounds, she laughed, “I haven’t even had a funeral home send me invitations yet!” Nice. Coming from a woman who happens to be substantially older than me.

Our conversation morphed into what we thought should be on the menu for such an event to discuss “final-arrangement planning.” Whole grapes? Big chunks of hotdogs? Or would they go the cholesterol-laden route … triple cheeseburgers and a side’s bar of anything fried? We both assumed a fruit and veggie tray wasn’t going to be part of this artery clogging affair.
Since we were on the subject of dying, I thought it an appropriate transition to inform her I had accidentally killed the Cecropia caterpillars she had recently given my children. The science project for the summer was over after one week. Fuzzy and Wuzzy wuz no more.

Too bad the funeral homes don’t take caterpillars. My daughters would have loved a nice service for their beloved 7-day inch-long friends. How to pick your final resting place for caterpillars isn’t a common request, apparently.

However, I do have these two complimentary tickets from experts who “want to ease my family’s emotional burden.” Maybe I will give them a call…

previously published on July 8, 2012 in The Kansas City Star  

THE TOOTH FAIRY DITHED MY KID

Being an “old-ish” mom, somewhere between fitting in Gap clothing and wearing Depends, I have found motherhood has its ups and downs.  Like when trying to remember what it was like when I did things as a child…pretty near impossible!

My oldest daughter asks, “Mom, when did you first ride a bike without training wheels?”

“I’m sure I rode a bike. But to tell you the truth, I haven’t the foggiest!” I say squinting my eyes and searching the ceiling for answers.

Or…the latest, “Mom, how much money did the Tooth Fairy bring you when you lost your first tooth?”

Now I have a mouth full of Big Girl Teeth, so I know I must have lost some baby ones during my younger days; but if you can’t remember them falling out, how can you be expected to retain the cash value for those babies?

“I believe I was given diamonds and rubies,” I retorted.  “A girl’s best friend, you know.”

“MAH-OM!!  You are joking, right?!”  Can’t put anything past this one!

“Honey, the Tooth Fairy is the one who makes these decisions and whatever the going rate is will be what you get.  It’s just exciting you have entered a new phase of tooth-dom!”

“What?” she gives me the look which I know will be repeated way too many times in her adolescence.

“Forget it,” I smile baring all my big girl teeth.  “Congratulations on losing your tooth.  Tomorrow we’ll see what this tooth fairy thing is all about!”

That night Munchkin #1 put her first bloody, hollow tooth into her precious Tooth Fairy pillow and placed it under her regular pink sleeping pillow.  Her younger sister was almost excited for the impending event; but since it wasn’t about her, why should she waste her energy?

The next thing we know it is morning and over the monitor we hear the squawking, “THE TOOTH FAIRY CAME!!!”  Have I ever mentioned how fast that kid can run?  Two-point five seconds later, she is practically beaning me in the head with 2 golden coins.

“Look, Mom!  I got a Sacagawea!” she started in her best high-pitched girl scream.

“First of all…you are in Kindergarten. How do you know who Sacagawea is?” I asked reaching for my glasses.

“And another one with some guy on it – but Sacagawea!!” she said flopping on the bed like she had just won the Powerball.

“That other guy is a U.S. President, not that I can focus on him yet to tell you who he is, but he was famous too.  These are gold coins the Tooth Fairy left you!”
“Gold? How much is it worth?” she eagerly inquired.

Inspecting the coins carefully I whispered, “It’s a gold dollar! Each one is worth ONE dollar.”

“ Kathy got FIVE dollars and she said her cousin got TWENTY dollars from the Tooth Fairy!!” she quipped.

“I hate to be the one to tell you, but you saw that tooth of yours…it was totally hollow.  I bet those other kids had diamonds or rubies in the middle of theirs.”

 

Grandparent Sleepover Healed my Poor Tired Heart

Christmas wish listAdmitting my years in age are increasing, instead of the opposite — which would be more appealing — I have noticed the hard drive that sits firmly above my shoulders seems to be full most of the time.

Like my computer, when storage is nearing maximum capacity the operating system slows down. This was my brain in 2012.

The holidays typically are a time for enjoying family, passing down traditions, completing a complicated puzzle or perhaps downing that box of wine you’ve been saving for a fancy puzzle.

However, I somehow I washed over that frivolity this year and I don’t think I was alone in that feeling. In the last few months, so much anger and hatred had reared its head across the world and its horrific force consumed even the most chipper and positive thinkers.

This winter holiday I had lost my umph, my festive tree-topper attitude. I didn’t take advantage of tormenting my children with all the verses of every Christmas song like I normally do. I didn’t bake my traditional cookies for neighbors or friends. Our Christmas cards were generic and boring for the first and last time, I promise. I didn’t even curl up to watch my favorite Christmas movies with the kids. Bad mommy? No. Sad mommy is closer.

“Blue Christmas” lyrics seemed to be mocking me at each turn, so I needed to find the antidote to this cultural plague, for the health of my family and myself.

De-cluttering the house was step one in finding the carpet. It was calming to see amber waves of plush pile beneath the myriad plastic parts that only a year before resembled workable toys. Not only did I carry out trash bags of paper, fill the recycling bin with flattened boxes and, with my head dropped, add to the Styrofoam landfill “Forever There” program. I also dumped a truckload of our old pink and purple toys off at Goodwill, making room for new, shiny pink and purple toys. Somehow that made room in my ribcage for me to breathe again.

Then in the midst of a semi-clean (I have children, I’m not going to lie about the condition) yet OSHA-safe home, I found the key to my newfound serenity of 2013! It came in the form of a list my 7-year-old daughter composed sometime during winter break. It’s what broke the Blue Christmas Camel’s back.

My daughter was elated to have a sleepover with her grandparents. She always is. Both sets of grandparents bring great joy to my girls. This time, she decided to create a list. Of course it was meticulously illustrated, like all award-wining lists are. It was stunning! We should have framed it.

What we will do at Grammy and Pops’s sleepover:

• Pillow fight

• Eat pizza

• Act out story of Peter Pan

• Make a gingerbread house

• Dress Pops up like a girl

According to my children, not all of the bullet points were performed that night. When asking my parents about the list and whether all activities were enjoyed, for some reason, the details were evaded.

The night of the Grammy and Pops sleepover — I don’t know if I will ever know exactly what happened. But I do know the list made me laugh until I reclaimed my super-chipper attitude.

Father And Two Children In Pillow FightI did find it peculiar, though, that it took me over a week to find all of my cosmetics. And I’m sad to report my Bamboo Pink lipstick will never be the same.

Christmas Sonnet to my Trash Man

Oh, the weather outside is frightful. BWAM!
But the fire is so delightful. BWAM! BWAM!!
In case you’ve no place to go…

“Holy, mountains of recycled boxes!” I screamed out my home office window. The trash truck was in my cul-de-sac and the only “can” on my driveway was a huge red and white inflatable one on the back end of my 7-foot friendly Santa!

“What did you say Mama?” asked my youngest who was trying to get on my lap to play computer games.

“Quick. Get down!! I’ve gotta stop that truck!” I shouted over my shoulder, sprinting for the stairs. The last thing I heard was my child teetering to the floor and dizzily crying out, “Mama?!” (I’m pretty sure by the sound of the thud; she wasn’t hurt, so I continued at a good clip.)

A bolt of scantily-clad lightning zipped past my eldest daughter, whilst grabbing a pair of sweat pants, snow boots and something that resembled a warmish jacket. I can’t be sure when I got all of my clothing on; but hopefully, it was before I arrived on the driveway — I’m not putting any money bets on it though. Also, for those with wandering minds…I don’t make a practice of writing in this type of wardrobe and no, it wasn’t in the afternoon. The morning sun was just announcing itself as I took a break from reading the paper to check my emails.

“Mom, where are we going?” asked my oldest briefly looking up from the TV. She is such the thinker. “I thought we were still on vacation.”

“Just stay here. Don’t let anyone in. Mama’s chasin’ down the garbage truck again!” SLAM! The door sucked closed which gave me an added push toward the street.

Unalarmed, my children went back to winter-la-la-land, called “Christmas holiday TV brain.” They weren’t a-feared of being left alone by this crazed woman, who was lively and quick, carrying a white sack of refuse on her back. Oh, no, they knew in a moment she must be just in the nick of time…to have her annual winter public display of the crazies! Nothing new here for these kids.

Heard around my LAST neighborhood’s ladies’ coffee…

“SHIELD YOUR CHILDREN’S EYES AND EARS – for that writer gal down the street who seems so normal the remainder of the year is back to her end-of-the-year shenanigans. And bless her ever-loving heart; it involves the trash truck service…again. Remember the winter of 2006? She actually drove her minivan down the street, cutting off the truck, and forced them to slam on the brakes! Why I nevah…”
Woman pushing trash can.

Yes, it’s true. I chased a trash truck like a dog, with a hefty leaf-sized-bag of poo-poo diapies, only 3 weeks after giving birth to my second child by the method I like to refer to as a beautiful, yet memorable “fish gutting.” Apparently, the fancy medical types like to call it a c-section, but you say “abdomen-full-of-staples” and I say “Nurse! Can I have another Percocet?”

Back to January 2013: No one is to blame for not having the trash on the curb. Mistakes happen. I am the spouse who routinely forgets the children’s names and takes them to school on national holidays; but just this once, my brilliant hubby did NOT forget his weekly chore, but was under the impression the trash was to be picked up the following day. No finger pointing here. He’s a gem. A saint. After all he married me.
So I’m half-dressed and wielding a tuff-stuff bag of Christmas stank over my shoulder and becoming ever aware that my driveway has a steep decline when covered in an 1/8th inch of ice. I could have grabbed the wagon, the toboggan, or butt-scooted all the way down, but that would have only shaved minutes off my time and that truck was aiming for a neighborhood record.

So here’s my pretty little painting in a nutshell: wackadoodle hair, holey sweats, pajayjay top with no support (mind you), ice-running on the slippery sidewalks and street, and a’swinging my trash in the air to get my guy’s attention. And how did that work for me this year? Did he respond to my yelling of his holiday bonus I had for him? No he didn’t. He turned the corner and stamped his foot to the green metal floor boards, and probably wondered why no one left him a tip this year. I thought I would leave him a message to clear up his confusion and to form a bond with one of the most underappreciated city workers.

Dearest Mr. Trash man,
I hope you had a pleasant holiday season! With all the hustle and bustle of getting things done, it’s so nice good people like yourself are consistent and doing their jobs well, with being interrupted by outside distractions. A good work ethic is hard to come by and you, Sir, have displayed this.
Unfortunately, I made several attempts to show you my gratitude for your hard work. Just this week, I ran after your truck for several blocks trying to give you our trash for the week and a monetary gift of thanks. I know you must not have seen me, for if you had you would have stopped to wish me happy tidings.
Normally I don’t leave my children unattended for that long, but I hadn’t anticipated you not seeing me or hearing my piercing screams for such a lengthy period. Don’t you worry though… they were just fine.
Sad to say, the inflatable Santa in our front yard didn’t fare as well. Apparently beating Santa with a bag of trash isn’t recommended by the manufacturer. Who knew?!
May you have a peaceful 2013!
Sincerely,
Mrs. Hatton

Santa Baby

I’d love it if you would join me on Facebook. Come on over. It don’t cost nuthin’!

Dinner for Two? I Think Not

I have been a little preoccupied chasing trash trucks (literally) in my pajayjays with no support (mind you) on the icy sidewalks of Hades, with a bag of smelly Christmas trash in hand and perhaps a monetary tip for the driver (you lose, dude!); hence, this story previously published on my blog last summer will keep things going until I rip a new one about my snowy, slippery bouncing episode avoiding cranial abrasions and black eyes from running full force with the “girls” doing the mambo in my jammie top. Happy New Year and (spoiler alert) I might have killed Santa in our yard.

Shield your eyes kids. Santa is looking bad!

Shield your eyes kids. Santa is looking bad!

previously published in The Kansas City Star – July 8, 2012
Stacey Hatton Commentary

Recently I received the most peculiar invitation in the mail. This gem contained complimentary admission tickets “good for two” persons for FREE FOOD! Now with the hunger crisis widespread throughout our country, why on earth were they trying to give ME and my date a free meal?

At first I was keyed up by the prospect of someone wanting to award me something, especially if that “something” might include perhaps ice cream; but then I remembered a prophet telling me, “No one gives out ice cream for free, unless they want something in return.”

So I called my mother, who is the oldest person I talk to on a regular basis, so that puts her closest to prophet status. I asked her, “Do you think this free meal is some kind of a scheme?” Being that she is a savvy retired elementary school educator, she asked, “Who sent these tickets to you, my child?”

I turned back to the not-so-fine print (actually it was in bold, italicized and about a 32-point font). A first warning I may need to slow down a bit in life, or else bump up to the next level on my classy CVS reader glasses.

This is when I should have hung up the phone or claimed I had the wrong number; but I had already announced to my mother who I was, called her by name, and discussed who was coming to a family get-together. So I’m pretty sure she recognized my voice.

I tried to cough, sneeze and mumble at the same time, “A funeral home.”

Although, since she is my mother and can understand every word of mine even if I had all my teeth knocked out and my lips sewn shut, she blurted, “How did you get on THEIR list?”

“Weight Watchers, I can only assume,” I sighed as if receiving an unsatisfactory mark on my report card.

Then to add salt & vinegar potato chips to my wounds, she laughed, “I haven’t even had a funeral home send me invitations yet!” Nice. Coming from a woman who happens to be substantially older than me.

Our conversation morphed into what we thought should be on the menu for such an event to discuss “final-arrangement planning.” Whole grapes? Big chunks of hotdogs? Or would they go the cholesterol-laden route … triple cheeseburgers and a side’s bar of anything fried? We both assumed a fruit and veggie tray wasn’t going to be part of this artery clogging affair.

Since we were on the subject of dying, I thought it an appropriate transition to inform her I had accidentally killed the Cecropia caterpillars she had given my children. The science project for the summer was over after one week. Fuzzy and Wuzzy wuz no more.Caterpillar on a bush.

Too bad the funeral homes don’t take caterpillars. My daughters would have loved a nice service for their beloved 7-day inch-long friends. However, I do have these two complimentary tickets from experts who “want to ease my family’s emotional burden.” Maybe I’ll give them a call…