Maybe Uncle Ben was stubborn, too

He is still refusing to come out. Maybe today will be lucky. It is the anniversary of my Uncle Ben’s birthday. He was a musician who lived in Austin. He loved cats and Garfield and could play almost every instrument. It seemed like it anyway. He died almost twenty years ago of a brain aneurysm, so I didn’t get to know him very well, but I thought he was cool. He taught me how to blow bubbles with bubble gum and gave us McDonald’s gift certificates for Christmas. I feel connected to him whenever I play the piano, although I can’t play rock ‘n’ roll on it like he could. I’m better at classical. Thanks to him, my brother and I discovered Nermal (the cutest cat in the world) and garnered hours of entertainment from that and marveling how cute his cat was all hunched up behind the curtain on the windowsill. It’s actually amazing how alike we are. I wish I’d gotten to know him better, but I’m glad for the time we got. Thanks, Uncle Ben. Hope you’re still rocking out up in heaven.

Tales from Grandpa, part 2

So, Grandpa has a lot of great stories about his time serving in World War II, but it’s hard to get him started telling them. He did tell me once about a bunkmate of his who had that famous pin-up of Betty Grable pinned up over his bed. Every time they would leave, the guy would kiss his fingers and then press them on Betty Grable’s rear end in the picture. Grandpa asked him why he did that. He replied, “Because if I die, I want to be able to say that the last thing I did was kiss Betty Grable’s ass!”

Tales from Grandpa

I’ve been thinking about my Grandpa a lot lately. He was quite the raconteur in his day, but he has been declining somewhat lately. I feel like I want to preserve some of my favorites of his stories.

In my previous post, I mentioned that I am supposedly related to Jesse James on my mother’s side. My grandfather’s mother’s maiden name was James. This was Grandpa’s main proof of the relationship when we got older, but his proof was slightly more colorful when we were younger and more gullible. He told us that Jesse James used to come by his house and his mother would give him a bag of cookies, which he would then sling over his saddle and ride off! Grandpa later admitted this wasn’t true, but he still insists we are related to Jesse James.

Weird (and some wonderful) factoids about my family

1. An inordinate number of people in my mom’s family go by their middle names. My mom, grandfather, younger brother, uncle, aunt, and two cousins, to be exact. In fact, my step-grandmother’s and late uncle’s chosen monikers aren’t part of their name at all. If my uncle, aunt, and cousin went by their proper names, they would be Rady, Alma, and Stephanie, rather than Tom, Jane, and Michele. If my step-grandmother and uncle went by their proper names, they would be Ila and Charles Michael, instead of Tiny and Ben. In fact, Ben was named for my great-uncle Ben, who was also named Charles Michael. No one knows why anymore.

2. My younger brother and two first cousins all have the same birthday (albeit in different years).

3. I am supposedly related to Jesse James on my mom’s side, as well as Brigham Young. In fact, Young is a family name on both sides. I don’t want to look too closely at that.

4. Five of my dad’s six sisters have a form of “Mary” as their first name. My paternal grandfather was a devout Catholic and, after one of my aunts died at the age of two weeks, he promised God that any other daughters he was blessed with would be named after Mary. He got six more.

5. An inordinate number of people in both of my families have the same name. My grandfather and uncle, my niece and first cousin once removed, my mom and my paternal grandmother, my first cousin and me, and soon, my son and another first cousin once removed. Oh, and my stepfather and my older brother. That’s the most confusing one.

6. My mom’s first and third husbands have the same name. Which is why my stepdad and older brother have the same name. My older brother was named after his biological dad. (Before you start thinking my mom gets married every time she turns around, she was married to my dad for over 20 years and has been married to my stepdad for almost 16 now.)

7. I have a niece who is 13 years younger and an aunt who is 13 years older than me. In fact, the age difference between my youngest aunt and my older brother (oldest grandchild) on my dad’s side is 3 years.

8. My uncle’s first wife’s second husband was the son of Ross Barnett, former governor of Mississippi. My former aunt and her husband called the governor and his wife “Big Momma” and “Big Daddy.” To quote Dave Barry, I swear I am not making this up.

9. My stepdad, older brother, and I are all left-handed. (Well, I think my older brother is ambidextrous.) In fact, both of my stepsister’s parents are left-handed, but she is right-handed.

10. My stepsister is four days younger than me. We always refer to each other as “sister,” so you can imagine the confusion we caused when we told people that. So much fun.

Top 10 Most Annoying Things Said to Expectant Parents

In no particular order:

1. It will change your life forever. (If they are too stupid to know this, they shouldn’t be having a baby.)

2. Sleep when the baby sleeps. (Every baby book says this. You need to think up better material if this is your best advice.)

3. Anything prefaced with “It was good enough in my day…” (Moms get VERY huffy about the changes in child-rearing since they raised their own children. They seem to take them as a personal insult.)

4. “You’re going to get the drugs, right?” (Followed by a polite “Oh” when you tell them you are, in fact, crazy enough to want to try natural childbirth.)

5. Retelling a friend’s horrific birth story to a first-time mother. (Why did the checker at HEB, a complete stranger by the way, think I wanted to know about her friend’s emergency C-section?)

6. “You’re not a Mommy yet!” (In response to the “Mommy and Me” shirt I wore at my baby shower. My uncle should try saying that to me after he lugs a baby around inside him for six months.)

7. “Say good-bye to a good night’s sleep.” (Oh, REALLY? Babies don’t sleep much? They wake up at night?? Why did no one tell me this???)

8. “Are you going to lock her up till she’s 30?” (Sexist humor never gets old.)

9. “I wonder if you’ll still be as crazy about your cats after the baby comes.” (Oh, yes, that’s an excellent trait for a parent. Ceasing to care about living creatures who depend on you after you get a new, more demanding one.)

10. “I know this isn’t what you registered for, but this worked so much better for me.” (Why don’t you just come right out and say that you think my carefully researched parenting decisions are stupid?)

Thank goodness for…

pregnancy hormones. I hunted up a picture of me with my maternal grandmother today. I want to take it to the hospital with me, because it always makes me feel good. Except for today, for some reason. I took one look at it and bawled for half an hour. I cannot believe it has been seventeen years this month since she died. I still miss her so much and I wish she could be here to meet my little boy.

Although the picture made me feel sad, I think I needed the catharsis. It’s always nice to feel true, genuine emotion, rather than the anxiety that plagues me some of the time. At least this sadness is based in reality and it comes from the fact that my grandmother and I loved each other so much.

The end for Jon and Kate

And by that, I mean the couple, not the show. I am a fan of the show, but I don’t really care at this point whether it ends or not. I understand why they started it and why they kept doing it. They needed to take care of their family and I, for one, am grateful for the inspiration and warm-hearted moments they provided during their first few seasons. I don’t think they are, or ever were, any more hungry for money or fame than the next person, but come on. Let’s be honest. If someone offered you a reality show and told you it would make you famous and rich, would you say no? Not even consider it? Especially when you have eight children to raise and put through college? I don’t think so. No one could have foreseen how this show would explode and I doubt that many of you who keep recommending they “walk away” would really find it that easy to do so.

I am saddened to hear of the end of their marriage, but I am almost as saddened by the sick, jealous comments I have read about the couple in the past few weeks. The Gosselin family turmoil has brought out a side of the American public that saddens, sickens, and enrages me. They are REAL PEOPLE. A REAL couple with children who are breaking up. This isn’t a primetime drama on the CW, no matter what storylines they may or may not have come up with for ratings in the past. This is no storyline, as far as I can tell. A family is really dissolving before our eyes and all that most see fit to do is to make terrible, inappropriate comments about real human beings with whom they aren’t even acquainted. You do not know Jon and Kate Gosselin or their children, people. No matter how often you have watched them on TV. Neither is perfect, but neither is the devil or a “fame whore” or any of the other horrible epithets I have read about them (mostly Kate) lately. Also, if I read one more time that Kate deserved to be cheated on, I will scream. For one thing, we don’t know that Jon cheated. For another, no one deserves to be cheated on. If you don’t like the way someone treats you, you speak up or you leave.

It seems to me that Jon and Kate were doing fine before the American public stuck their dubious two cents in. Everyone who has made a nasty comment about this couple should be ashamed of themselves. We are all becoming way too casual with what we say about others.  This callousness towards others is a big part of what is wrong with our country and the world today. When you say something terrible about someone else, it hurts you and the person about whom you have said it, no matter how famous they are. It hurts the world.


I get unreasonably annoyed when I am finger-combing my hair (or combing or brushing it at all) and I hit a snag. It seems like the most surprising, hurtful annoyance. Especially when I have already brushed my hair five times. How are there more tangles??? I guess I am still tender-headed. I used to run away from my mother screaming when she would brush my hair when I was a child. At least, when I thought I could get away with it. We have a picture of my paternal grandfather comforting me after I ran from my mom and the brush. I still probably got spanked, which shows how much I hated having my long, tangled hair brushed. I would get so fed up I was willing to risk a spanking.

Eventually, I started brushing my own hair and I realized why it was so hard for my mom. It was soooo long and thick. Plus, my short, little arms couldn’t reach the bottom of my hair with the brush. My mom noticed too late one morning when dropping me off at school that the bottom half of my hair was still tangled. She couldn’t catch me in time. I was mortified when I found out. My mortification remained unsurpassed until she let me go off to school with my fly unzipped on picture day in 8th grade. And who was it who noticed my fly was unzipped and started laughing uncontrollably? Oh, yes. My ex-boyfriend. Ever since that day, I have compulsively checked my fly, even when there is no chance of it being unzipped. In fact, it took me awhile to stop checking my maternity jeans, even though they have no fly.

I have finally let go of my resentment towards my mother for not making sure I was properly attired before school twice in the thirteen years during which I attended school living under her roof.  However, the paranoia will last forever.

wussy pregnant lady

I think the last trimester is making me extra-squeamish. Every time I look at my husband’s injured toe, I get butterflies in my stomach. Maybe because I am remembering how scared I was when he dropped the sheet of glass on his foot. Blood and stitches don’t usually bother me, so I don’t understand it otherwise.

Not only that, but I wigged out when Fudgie tried to eat a lizard earlier. He got the poor thing’s tail off and it (the tail) kept wiggling and bouncing around. Totally grossed me out, even though I’ve seen that happen before. Poor, poor lizard.

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