A**hole Armadillo and the Flightless B*stard

I currently have a wadded up stuffed pink Snoopy in the cabinet above my refrigerator….

I let Snoopy stretch out a bit for the photo op…

This is not some “the rooster flies at midnight” secret code, nor is it commentary on the beloved Peanuts franchise.

It is the result of lessons learned from A$$hole Armadillo and the Flightless Bastard. Who are they, you ask? I’ll explain in a minute… (Yes, this is a shameless bid for reader engagement, and no, I’m not sorry. )

Fridge Snoopy (hopefully I’ll come up with something less serial killer-esque before I hit post, but for now its the best I have) is our backup Snoopy. Little Ginger imprinted on a pink Snoopy in her collection of stuffed toys about a year and a half ago and decided that was her go-to bedtime stuffed guy. After pink Snoopy suffered a near- decapitation incident we realized we needed backup. I do not posses Doc McStuffins level abilities when it comes to rehabbing injured toys and it was REALLY touch and go for pink Snoopy while he was nearly channeling Anne Boleyn.

Side Note- does anyone else DESPERATELY want a follow-up Doc McStuffins series where Doc is grown-up and a high powered research physician? I want to see Callie the Hippo become a nemesis after not getting due credit for Doc’s accomplishments… Can’t you just see her strolling in saying, “We meet again McStuffins…”

This might just be me and it’s entirely possible that this is a side effect of having Disney+ joining, and becoming a crucial member of your pandemic co-parenting team…

Anyway…. A$$hole Armadillo and The Flightless B*stard….

Big Ginger tended to rotate through a variety of stuffed animals, called his “guys” in his toddler/ preschool years. Then he bonded with a stuffed armadillo and armadillo got upgraded to Armadillo-with-a-capital-A and we moved into life with one specific special stuffed animal. I made sure he was ready for bed every night, triple checked that Armadillo was packed for overnights, kept him clean. I even took Armadillo with me on errands to photograph what he got up to while Big Ginger was at preschool.

What didn’t I do? I didn’t have a backup identical armadillo…. This was a huge problem because that Armadillo was a stone cold asshole.

Armadillo would invariably disappear as we were approaching bedtime. No matter what I did, it would be five minutes to go to powering down for the night, and that asshole would be nowhere to be found. We worked through it, and I became aware of his favorite hiding spots. It got to the point where I could locate him before bedtime and keep tabs on his whereabouts until tuck-in.

However, there was also Armadillo’s other favorite trick – going AWOL in the middle of the night. I’d be woken up by a tear-stained little face (inches from mine) or summoned by a shrieking of “I CAN’T FIND ARMADILLO ANYWHERE!!!! WHERE’D HE GO?!?!?!?!?” Invariably Armadillo would be found in the bottom of the bed, he usually had managed to wrap himself up in a sheet and masquerade as a lump in the comforter… I told you he was an A$$hole….

Finally I decided that I HAD to have a back up armadillo (which is a sentence I never thought I’d write, and honestly hope is never necessary to write again.) My mother and aunt tracked down replacements and had them sent to me in a bid to shore up my armadillo-depleted sanity. I was ready, I had a system, I was going to rotated armadillos to ensure even wear, and…. Big Ginger moved on to another favorite stuffed animal, leaving me with two backup armadillos.

To this day the back up armadillos live in the back of my dresser drawer, both as insurance and reminder of the wonderful lengths (and eBaying) family members will go through when you just cannot face another armadillo hunt (stuffed armadillo- I wouldn’t know where to begin with a real armadillo hunt and NEVER want to find out that information).

With Armadillo out of our life, we moved on to Penguey the penguin. (We tend to opt for pretty on the nose names in this house. I expect if I have grandchildren their names will be, while not super orginal, extremely accurate.) Penguey wound up being a worse escape artist than Armadillo, which I really didn’t think was possible, even thought I have seen all the Toy Story movies, and really should know better.

Penguey did better at not going AWOL in the middle of the night, to his great credit. We were able to return to regularly scheduled middle of the night wake up reasons, including- but not limited to; the dinosaurs on the comforter facing the wrong way and socks falling off feet.

However, Penguey was a massive flight risk (despite being unable to fly) right around bedtime. He mad Armadillo look like a total amateur. At this point I was pregnant with Little Ginger and my penguin detecting abilities were not great. My breaking point was a night that both Father of Gingers and I spent quite a while searching for that stuffed bird, and was at the end of my rope. I may or may not have texted in a fit of frustration ,

“I CANNOT FIND THAT FLIGHTLESS BASTARD ANYWHERE!!!!”

The name stuck….

Fortunately, BG never picked up on it – at least to my knowledge… This could come up years from now.

Good old FB…. I was unable to locate Armadillo for a picture, I told you that guy was a total A-hole

Strangely- I’m STILL waiting to hear from the Mom of the Year award committee… maybe they’re saving me for some sort of lifetime achievement award???

Time has marched on and both A$$hole Armadillo and the Flightless B*stars have moved to way background supporting characters in our life. However, their lessons stay with me.

Just ask Over the Fridge Snoopy.

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Run (Ins) with Cows…

Sure, they look peaceful…

If I’m being truthful it’s more of a runs from cows situation…

Yesterday, after we got through a semi- productive day of home learning, Father of Gingers came home from work, and offered me a chance to run for the hills get out for a walk to get some exercise, fresh air, and the chance to complete a thought without interruption.  It was, as they say, an offer I couldn’t refuse.

I got into my workout clothes, grabbed my earphones and phone and made my bid for freedom headed out the door.  Living in the English countryside means options when it comes to our allotted outdoors time right now, something I am very grateful for.  I decided to walk up to the next village, cut down behind the church, go down through the field where the cows are, take the footbridge over the river, walk by the sheep field towards the next town, then turn around and come back.  We’ve done this walk as a family several times, and I usually wind up wearing Little Ginger in the toddler backpack for at least part of the trip, so I thought it would be nice to do on my own, and maybe even throw some running into the mix…

I headed off, listened to a Marco Polo from a friend, and then attempted to record my reply while walking.  There are people who are coordinated enough to exercise and send messages at the same time.

Unsurprisingly, I am not one of them.

I managed to send off a message in which I only forgot to answer 80% of the questions I had been asked and not fall in a hedge, so that was a win, and I continued down the road.  I did a bit of jogging and was feeling pretty good by the time I reached the church and the field behind the church.  I had big plans to run through the field to the foot bridge.  I stopped to take another video for the Marco Polo message of the scenery.  Said scenery is so quintessentially  British countryside that one expects to see Mr. Darcy (played by Colin Firth, preferably) striding over a hill at any moment to offer a mildly withering comment. To be honest, if you factor in my workout outfit, we’re probably looking at a level ten withering comment.

The view for reference (without Mr. Darcy)

As I stopped to do this, I realized that the small herd of cows that occupy the field were not on the far side of the field but laying down right right on the side of the path I usually take down the hill to the bridge. This gave me pause, given my less than stellar track record with wild life. I decided to ignore the little voice in my head that was frantically reminding me that cows are freaking ginormous and that I always forget this fact until I’m up close and personal with a member of the bovine community.

I started to go down the footpath at a very cautious jog/ walk, keeping an eye on the potential killers cows. Then I realized there was at least one baby cow in the entourage. My first thought was, “oh how sweet” rather than, “hey, most animals are super protective of their babies.” This is why I wouldn’t last long in the wild.

Then two cows stood up very quickly. One, a rather sizey brown cow, turned to face me head on, and started to stare me down while standing right in my path. She was looking at me like she just knew my favorite bag is made of leather.

I don’t think she was waiting for me to ask her, “How now, brown cow?”

At this point my brain was causally shrieking asking me, “I can’t remember, is it a fact that cows kill more people than sharks, or is it lightening, or maybe plane crashes? Anywho, maybe, just maybe, it’s time for us to skedaddle, shall we?”

Taking the cows-as-harbingers-of-doom statistics into consideration- I started to rethink my plan. I then factored in the fact that Father of Gingers has repeatedly stated he is not prepared to be a single parent and I started to turn around. Yet another cow stood up to provide backup to her sisters in being surprisingly menacing for animals that feature prominently in such classics as “Old MacDonald” and are frequently portrayed as wise and gentle in a number of children’s movies.

At that point I decided that running back up the hill was the best choice as having she was trampled to death by cows in a pandemic written about me felt a little bit excessive and definitely not how I would want to be remembered.

On the upside- I knocked some serious time off my mile time average. I continued on to a cow-free route and finished up my outside time. Then I realized- I’m totally like Ernest Hemingway…

Kinda…

He ran with bulls, I ran with away from cows- practically the same thing, right?

Sorta…

I’ve never driven an ambulance in wartime, though.

Not really…

I’m honestly not a fan – this really wasn’t the best comparison…

I wonder if Jane Austen had any close cow calls?

The Grocery Shopping Cart…

Hello from social distancing day I don’t even know any more…

I was looking across the kitchen this morning, saw the toy shopping cart and started to laugh.

A result of cracking due to the lockdown? That would be an entirely reasonable assumption at this point. It has been a strange and challenging experience for all of us. In this case I was cracking because the grocery cart gave me the perfect metaphor for this scary and bizarre point in time if you throw an elderly Turkish street dog into the metaphor mix.

I really promise I haven’t lost it.

A bit of background…

When Big Ginger had just turned two and was really starting to fully come into his nickname, Ginger Fury, we moved from Germany back to Virginia. We were living temporarily with my parents while we waited for our household goods to arrive and to be able to get into our new house.

A wonderful friend with amazing foresight got Big Ginger the toy grocery cart for his birthday AND held onto it until we got to my parents house. It was wonderful to have a new toy to distract a two year old who was not thrilled about the drastic changes to his life. He loved his “grocery shoppin’ cart” with a fierce passion and would demonstrate that love by careening around the kitchen and family room madly. He looked like the worlds tiniest “Supermarket Sweep” contestant ever. This SNL clip of Melissa McCarthy is an eerily accurate representation of that time in our lives:

Now we get to the Turkish street dog. She had signed on with the organization when I was twenty and I affectionately referred to her as my fur sister. She had always been very sassy and rather set in her ways. In her opinion, her golden years should be spent being pampered, lounging on the dog bed, bossing all of us around, and the occasional constitutional in the yard when it suited her. The “grocery shoppin’ cart” (and the tiny human at the helm) in no way, shape, or form featured in her ideal (or even barely adequate) retirement plan. This created some real problems. She hated that grocery cart with the burning fury of a thousand suns and wasn’t shy about throwing shady looks to let us know it.

We did our best to keep the grocery shoppin’ cart loving camp clear of the hating it camp and were moderately successful. I was the regular recipient of doggy snorts, eyerolls, and dramatic flopping into bed but I thought it was manageable. Then I came down one morning and saw her final word on the situation.

She had pooped.

On the floor.

In a perfect circle around the grocery shoppin cart.

To this day, it remains the most impressive and weirdly eloquent expression of displeasure I have ever seen. There was something slightly awe-inspiring in the attention to detail and commitment to a project.

This lockdown is becoming my “grocery shoppin’ cart.” However, I won’t be choosing that expression of displeasure for several reasons:

  1. I’m very grateful to be safe with my family and we have what we need
  2. I know this is the best choice to keep everyone safe
  3. There are still toilet paper and paper towel shortages

All in all, better not to chance it.

Epilogue:

The grocery cart was moved to a safe location until we were able to move into our house, it continues to be driven at breakneck speeds to this day. My fur sister went on to enjoy her golden years in the manner she expected- free of any annoyance from wheeled toys. She lived to be about eighteen years old and provided unsolicited editorials to the end.

Groceries with Gingers…

So, it’s been a while since I’ve written due to a combination of busyness, working on other writing projects, flu, visitors, and general life with the Gingers. I’m trying to get back in the routine.

A trip to the grocery store with Little Ginger the other day reminded me that shopping with small humans is always a gamble….

Groceries with Gingers is much like Tuesdays with Morrie in that lessons are learned and anecdotes are shared. Unlike “Tuesdays” there’s a much higher chance of mortification and possible unintentional swearing…

When Big Ginger was my Little (and only) Ginger, he had a deep love for the song “Uptown Funk.” We played it nonstop- I can’t hear any version of the phrase “I’m too hot” without feeling immediately compelled to add a “HOT DAMN!” regardless of circumstances.

It can get awkward, but not as awkward as Big. Ginger’s tragic mispronunciation of the word funk at age three. I’m sure you all can see where this is headed… We were at the grocery store, enjoying their music and a much needed break when we came across the group from a local retirement community, also out on their weekly shop. I’m fairly confident they had not listened to Uptown Funk on repeat on the ride over (but this totally reminds me I have a great story for next time). As we were in the aisle with all of these sweet old ladies who were waving to Big Ginger and telling him what a good boy he was to help me with the shopping, he chose that moment to look at me and say,

“Mommy, I don’t like this music! It’s time to sing the F$%# you up song! Let’s sing the F$%# you up song. You start Mommy- F$%#. YOU. UP!”

The kid had the clarity of diction you’d expect from an evening news anchor. There was no pretending he’d said something else, it would have been easier to convince people Walter Cronkite wasn’t really saying, “And that’s the way it is.”

There is never a hole to crawl into when you REALLY need one. So, we did the walk of shame down what was apparently the worlds longest cereal aisle and moved in with our day. We switched to listening to the “Hamilton” soundtrack shortly thereafter and he promptly misheard the lyrics to “Helpless” as “Topless”. It was marginally better and I’m big on celebrating the small wins. A preschooler singing “I’m TOPLESS” earns fewer glares in public – verified by my highly unscientific and embarrassing study.

I had actually managed to successfully repress forget about this until I had Little Ginger at the grocery store last week. A very sweet and proper elderly lady started talking to LG in the checkout line and told her she had pretty hair and she liked her coat. She went on to ask LG if she liked shopping with Mummy. Little Ginger took a deep breath, looked up at this lovely woman making pleasant conversation in the store and said, completely deadpan,

“Did you know that it’s REALLY important that blood stays inside your body?”

It’s nice to know that mortifying grocery story experiences know no national boundary. I smiled weakly at the rather shocked lady in line and mumbled something about learning/science/school. She gave me and (I’m sure she thought) my little potential serial killer plenty of space for the rest of the checkout experience.

I guess there’s no real way to wrap this up beyond saying if anyone from a grocery delivery service is reading this and wants to sponsor me, it would probably be best for everyone.

Hal, Mavis, and An Unnamed Peacock

So, when we left off last time; we’d arrived safely, started our marathon hotel stay, and needed to find a house… A few hours after arrival we hopped in the car to look at a possibility.

At that point in time Father of Gingers had started to look and the house hunt had not been going well. He’d seen a few that just weren’t going to work and was more hopeful that this one might be a match for our list. Bleary-eyed we headed off to the house.

It had some very good points – decent yard (garden), Harry Potter cupboard under the stairs, but also had a minor issue in the fact that a not-insignificant percentage of the interior was painted what can only be described as Pepto Bismal pink. If you’ve seen the wedding scene from Steel Magnolias, imagine that- but pinker. BG, who’s going through a “distaste of all things that could be considered girly phase” wasn’t sure he could live there. LG, on the other hand claims the unicorn as her spirit animal and was more like, “I live here now!” I seriously think she was contemplating moving in without us.

We decided to keep looking at listings and hope that house would be available as a fall back. At that point I’d been up for the better part of forty-eight hours and wasn’t sure what exactly was going on but I was pretty sure I would feel like I’d been slapped in the retinas every day with that paint scheme.

Motivated by the prospect of Pepto interiors, I hopped back on RightMove to see if any other listings had come up. There were two that looked like they could be winners. One was a farm house that had a snug (I’m still not one hundred percent sure what that is, but at the time, I felt passionately about it) and one that kind of looked like an old Tudor house. We got times to tour both scheduled and continued to obsessively check listings settled into wait.

The day of the first tour for the farm house arrived. I was woken by the gentle chirping of birds and the first rays of sunshine.

No, no, I wasn’t.

I was woken by LG gagging and crying as we heard the unmistakeable sounds of retching. She and I spent the morning taking turns changing outfits and hosing off with pauses to attempt to clean out the Pack and Play. I told BG to go wild on screen time and try not to breathe in any germs. Then the email came, the first people to come look at the farm house had snatched it up, and our viewing was canceled. I mopped up LG yet again, started a load of laundry and watched some Daniel Tiger. Sadly, Daniel doesn’t have a little jingle to deal with real estate disappointments.

LG recovered from her bug and we spent the weekend waiting to go look at the next house. We decided that short of a major haunting, we were going to take it and anything from moderate haunting down, we would happily live with. The house looked promising and I was REALLY trying not to get my hopes up as there was at least one showing before us.

The big day came- I got myself and the Gingers dressed in our best “we’re totally normal people who you’d love to have living in this house” outfits and away we went. We drove over and the front gate opened… (Yes, I said front gate, things are about to get a tad Downton Abbey). We walked to the front door and the family who was touring before us came out. I did my best not to stare them down. It was a challenge. We also were doing our best to not look completely over eager, but hotel living may have put a dent in that effort.

We walked through the front door and into the kitchen where I saw this:

And then this

They were promptly named Hal and Mavis (in my mind- I managed to have some self control) and I decided that I lived here now and was busy frantically trying to communicate this to FoG with only my eyes. He did not have the same instant attachment to Hal and Mavis and we did a walk through of the rest of the house to make sure we were set on things like bedrooms and bathrooms (this was probably a good thing). All the boxes were checked and we said we’d take it then and there. We were set, we’d just have to wait about a month and some change.

We went back to the hotel, the previously mentioned aggressively quaint Air BnB, then back to the hotel, and then to stay at a friend’s house. All the while I kept a Downton Abbey-esque vision in my head, fueled by the fact that a former “great house” was less than a quarter mile away and the area our house is in was the support village for the big house. I didn’t really see myself as a member of the family who lives in the big house, or the household staff. I’m more of the mind set of minor villager who makes an appearance at the yearly fair with an award- winning cake or something.

Move in day finally came! We headed over with our nine pieces of luggage, two Gingers, and assorted other paraphernalia. We pulled up to the gate and were greeted by this sight:

Yup- that is a full blown peacock. I promptly turned over the keys and he lives in the house now. I hope he’s happy.

Kidding. I’m kidding. However given my track record with nature and my fear of birds, I feel like it would’ve been understandable. My family didn’t agree so we pushed forward. I’m happy to report as of this writing there have not been any run ins with the unnamed peacock and I’ve only been stuck in the car once waiting out a pheasant who was taking his sweet time exploring the joint.

So we moved in- and all we had to do was wait for a week for all of our household goods, without internet, and one car. Piece of cake, sort of, kind of, well- I mean- we survived it.

I’ll write about that later.

Bag of Hair Blues…

So, the last month has been pretty heavily consumed with moving stuff. I go back and forth between, “I’ve totally got this, it’s all manageable and under control” and “HOLY FORKING SHIRTBALLS THE MOVERS ARE COMING!” (This was the second most famous phrase by Paul Revere) I may also be watching The Good Place when I have a moment… (according to the wise sages who write BuzzFeed quizzes, I’m a combo of Chidi and Janet- in case anyone was wondering)

Okay, back on topic now. Moving means sorting and trying to purge. If I do say so myself, I’m doing a much better job than I have in past moves and have managed to get rid of a lot. I do not like purging. Some of it is I’m always convinced as soon as I get rid of something I’m going to need it. The fact that I’ve found some, um, interesting surprises while cleaning out in the past also significantly factors into my reluctance. However, Marie Kondo would totally give me a gold star right now… until she saw my dresser.

My dresser has a problem. It kind of looks like it could belong to a serial killer. You may be asking why right now…Is there a dark side to me that you never knew about? Are we about to learn about an ill-advised goth phase in my past?

No.

It’s just that my dresser happens to be home to a bag of hair and some teeth that are not mine.

I guess I need to explain more.

Let’s start with the bag of hair. When Big Ginger was about fifteen months old, we took him for his first hair cut. We were still living in Germany and I grabbed a Ziploc bag on my way out the door, thinking I might want to save a lock of hair from his first haircut. We got to the hairdressers and I explained (I thought) that I just wanted the first lock of hair to save. She gave me a strange look but said okay. BG was seated with Father of Gingers and the haircut started. I stood there clutching my sandwich baggie, possibly with a few tears welling up in my eyes, and she handed me the first lock of hair. I put it in the bag carefully, and got ready seal it up, and then, before I knew it, the hair dresser was handing me another lock of hair, I accepted it, and tucked it in next to the first.

Then she gave me another. And another. I kept on collecting locks of hair in my little Ziploc baggie while trying to figure out if there was a way to politely ask her to please stop giving me hair. I couldn’t come up with anything and resigned myself to being the weird American with the bag of hair. We brought it home and I couldn’t bring myself to reach in and pull out a chunk for safe keeping, so I put it in my dresser and didn’t think much more of it. I took BG to a different barber shop from then on so I wouldn’t have to be the “weird bag of hair chick” or worse, find myself with an ever-growing collection of bags of hair. That’s how you wind up on the news, and not in a good way.

The teeth were less of a cultural misunderstanding situation and more a “I’m not exactly sure what to do about this” scenario. BG started losing teeth a few years ago and I felt weird throwing out a piece of my kid. Also, FoG was traveling for work and I didn’t want him to miss out on the full experience. I should probably also mention at that time Little Ginger was still waking up twice a night and I was running on four-ish hours of sleep on a good night. My decision -making processes may not have been at their most coherent. So, I now have a little drawer full of teeth.

And my dresser has a creepy vibe.

I guess on the upside it’s not a shrunken head, right?

Maybe it’s time for me to look into Swedish death cleaning?

Your move, Marie Kondo.

Lamaze breathing, repurposed…

So, the gingers are safely with their grandparents and Father of Gingers and I are in England looking around at places to live/ having an early tenth anniversary trip.

FoG arrived early for work and I caught up with him yesterday. The flight over was so nice and peaceful, and I loved having some travel time to myself. As I might have mentioned before, I’m in one of my favorite countries, as I’m might have mentioned before, and I’m ready to start this adventure. Nowthat we’re all up to speed…

When I’m not dreaming of high school the other stress dream/ nightmare I’ve had for years, pretty much since I learned to drive- is that I’m trying to dive the car from the wrong seat and having to reach over to use the steering wheel. As we’ve discussed before, I REALLY like having things under control, so I think it’s safe to assume the dream is about my control freak tendencies has something to do with that.

Well, yesterday I was literally living the dream.

FoG picked me up from the train station, I hopped into my seat, looked for the steering wheel, noticed it was AWOL, and then remembered I was in England. In my defense, I didn’t sleep on the plane so I’d been up for about twenty-six hours at that point. I pulled myself together and got ready to get back on the road. I should probably mention that FoG was on day two of driving on the wrong (to us) side of the road.

Then I tried to grab the gear shift.

At that point I decided it was best to hold the phone in my right hand while watching the map to reduce the temptation to grab the gearshift. I sat on the left, looked out the window with a view unobstructed by steering wheel or dashboard instruments and quietly chanted, “It’s okay, it’s okay” to myself. I’d take breaks in chanting to assist with navigating and reassure FoG this was not editorializing on his driving. Fortunately he was totally understanding and had bigger fish to fry. Right hand turns have taken on a whole new meaning in his world, mine too.

We’ve now made several car trips without incident.

On a related note- both Gingers signed on to our organization via C-section so I always assumed those hours we spent in childbirth classes before Big Ginger were just a write off. Now I’m happy to report those breathing and relaxation techniques are excellent for working through learning to be on the wrong side of the car and/or feeing like you’re in a stress dream.

I don’t think I’ll be attempting to drive on this trip since it’s going to be a short one. Also, I have a feeling it’s going to take a while if my original leaning to drive experience is anything to go on. I’m also flirting with the idea of writing a book, this would definitely give me some serious material. I should probably brush up on my breathing techniques too..

But Does It Spark Joy?

So, I was chatting with my aunt the other day (I have been very lucky to have a ton of support from my family as I’ve started this whole blogging thing) and she reminded me of an escapade that I had written on a list of topics to write about but then forgotten about (or possibly suppressed, you’ll understand in a second)…

This all took place back before Father of Gingers and I started the whole Parents of Gingers circus act collaboration that is our life today. At the time we were living in Germany and had been married almost two years. It had been a very eventful two years, with a trans- Atlantic move, lots of travel, new jobs, and a guest room fire- just to name a few highlights.

It was summer time and we were headed back to the States to see friends and family. Due to the fact the trip wasn’t very long, we had decided to each go visit our grandparents separately. I went to see my Gran in Texas and future Father of Gingers (FFoG?) was off to Michigan.

I should take a minute here to explain my Gran. Honestly, there’s enough material for several posts but I want to keep this short today. We will be coming back to her, especially as I seem to have reincarnated her in Little Ginger, whom we frequently call ReGran. I guess the fastest way to sum up Gran for this post is- she was a red-headed army nurse in the Pacific during the Second World War, and there were combat boots involved. She was eighty-eight when this happened, living on her own with an aide that came in daily to help her with errands since Gran was no longer driving.

Gran was the original Ginger and my gingers often remind me of her. Big Ginger is named for that set of grandparents, and as I said before sometimes Little Ginger is just my Gran in a toddler body. I never feel Gran’s presence more strongly than I do when I’m trying to unload/reload the dishwasher and Little Ginger feels compelled to supervise.

Gran liked to stay busy, to the point where I was usually totally exhausted by the end of the visit. There was always something we could be doing, dusting off the top of kitchen cabinets, unloading a dishwasher, going through a closet or drawers to clean out any clutter. On this visit, she decided she would really like to go though some filing cabinets that had not been sorted since my grandfather had passed away. I agreed that we could do that (we were going to do it either way, if I’m being honest) so her aide and I got to work.

We got through the first few drawers of the filing cabinet fairly quickly and purged what needed to be purged. Then we got to the top of the filing cabinet, and it was one of those cabinets where the top drawer opened up towards you then slid in, kind of like a garage door, giving shelf space to store things. The key that opened the bottom drawers did not open the top drawer, and it was the only one we had. Fortunately my grandfather had decided that basic lock picking was a skill I should learn when I was a teenager. He was absolutely right and it has definitely come in handy more times than many other things I learned as a teenager- looking at you Trigonometry.

I told Gran and her aide that I thought I could probably get the lock open and got the go-ahead. A few minutes later-success! I lifted the drawer to slide it back, promptly shrieked and let the door slam shut. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’re probably wondering what kind of woodland creature I ran afoul of this time?You be justified in wondering that. Totally justified and completely wrong. Not every traumatic event in my life has been the fault of a woodland creature; although it does seem to be a bit disproportionate compared to other people I’ve talked to. Even without getting into the time a mouse died in my office at the retirement home…

Anyway- back to the filing cabinet.

I opened it again, convinced I couldn’t possibly have seen what I thought I saw, but the fact that Gran’s aide looked equally horrified gave me the sinking feeling I was right. And, yup, there it was, sitting in a display case; a freaking shrunken head! As I sat there, stunned, wondering how this was possibly my life, Gran peered over my shoulder to see what the fuss was about and matter of factly said:

“Oh, I wondered where that had gotten to… It used to be part of a set.”

Other families have salt and pepper shakers that are part of sets and handed down. Or vases, or heirloom quilts. You never hear about anyone fighting over who gets the shrunken heads. Maybe it does happen and it just doesn’t come up in conversation? I just don’t know.

I don’t remember much about what happened after that, I guess a surprise shrunken head when you’re expecting to find decades-old tax returns will do that to a person. I do remember Mexican food and beer were part of the afternoon. It was medicinal at that point. I talked to FoG on the phone that night. He was telling me about his very busy (but surplus head-free) day he had with his grandparents and said he was exhausted. I announced I’d picked a filing cabinet lock and found a shrunken head. I won the conversation/ who’s the most tired contest.

The rest of the visit with my Gran passed unremarkably, and I made a mental note to let my mother and her siblings know about the plus 1/4ish of a person hanging out in the filing cabinet.

I can’t help but wonder what Marie Kondo would have said about the whole situation.

***I should note here that later on after further discussion, it was determined that the shrunken head was not a real one but a souvenir that had been picked up during my grandparents’ time living in South America. So, the good news was I had not disturbed someone’s head. Be grateful for the small things in life, I always say. Whether it’s sunshine or the fact you didn’t get surprised by authentic human remains, just imitation.

The whereabouts of the other half of the set remain unknown.

Circle of Life (ish)

So this is a totally random post, but I felt like it was time for some more nature-based perspective.

A couple of years ago, when Little Ginger was really little and Big Ginger was in preschool we were careening through our days, one of us on less sleep than she thought humanly possible, one who slept whenever the mood struck her, and one who had probably taken a solemn vow against sleeping past sunup at birth.  I’ll leave it to you to figure out who was who.

One day after coming home from the preschool/ drive through mandatory caffeine Starbucks run, we pulled into the parking space.  I immediately told Big Ginger to stay right where he was and NOT get out of the car.  Most people would probably use the tone I used if there was a life-threatening emergency going on outside the car.  I opted to use it for a woodland creature-related crisis.  There was an enormous (I thought in my sleep deprived state) squirrel on our front stoop.  This thing was a monster.  It was the Godzilla of squirrels. It was terrifying.  It was proudly standing up on its hind legs as if to say,

“That’s right b*%$!, I LIVE HERE NOW!”

I was getting ready to carefully get out of the car and get a picture of this beast to have for later when I was explaining to Father of Gingers why I’d handed the keys to the house over to a woodland creature. I took another look, and it wasn’t a squirrel, but a groundhog or woodchuck.  It was still concerning as it did not look like it was going to back down and I was busily googling rabies and deciding if this was an emergency that warranted asking FoG to come come.

Big Ginger then announced he had to go potty in that special tone that preschoolers use when you have minus two minutes to make it to a bathroom or you’re going to be cleaning a car seat, at minimum.  The time for debate was over.  I took a deep breath, told my children Mommy loved them, and got out of the car to face my woodland demons.  I slammed the door and the behemoth turned to look my way.  I took a few steps closer, it took a closer look at me and practically flew under the front stoop.  I should mention that at this point I was getting maybe three (non-consecutive) hours of sleep a night and had elevated the messy bun concept to an art-form that was probably prize winning. (The prize would  be either more coffee or a dark room to sleep in, winner’s choice.)  Any makeup I was wearing had been applied in less than thirty seconds.   In short- I was a vision.

My ego took a hit at what I perceived as the not-a-squirrel’s judgement on my appearance, but I was just happy to make it in the house and avoid a potty-related disaster. I made a mental note to remember we had a new (most likely very traumatized) neighbor under the front stoop and to keep an eye out.  I also called FoG to announce that I hadn’t given the house away to wildlife, but it’d been close.

Fast forward a few months later.  I’d seen the not-a-squirrel a few times, but we seemed to have settled into a state of icy detente. I think it knew I  had no problem going full messy bun again, and it respected my dominance.

Then, FoG was going on his first business trip since Little Ginger had signed on to the organization.  She was still sleeping on a schedule that more closely resembled a newborn than a seven month old and we had recently found out that there were most likely food intolerance/allergy issues at play.  I was off dairy to help her and feeling a little delicate about the whole situation.

That morning FoG had some appointments and the Gingers and I had errands. I stepped out the front door and was hit by an unholy wall of stink. Something had definitely departed the land of the living. I was devoutly hoping my under the stoop friend hadn’t gotten the last word by dying under said front stoop. I was not equipped for corpse removal. I couldn’t help but think that Disney totally glossed over this aspect of all the Princesses having woodland friends.

Then I looked out over the parking lot. There was my former nemesis. It was definitely very dead and the source of the unfortunate stench. I shepherded the Gingers out to the car keeping my body between Big Ginger and the deceased as that was going to bring up a lot of questions I didn’t feel equipped to answer with ice cream being a non-option.

We accomplished our errands without further incident and returned home. I asked FoG if he’d noticed the stench and if there was someone we should call. He had noticed it too. I then said I was going out to do a few more errands and grab some lunch and would look up the number we needed to call. FoG then informed me in a carefully neutral voice that he didn’t think I would need to make the call. I said,

“Oh, great! One of the neighbors must be on it!”

He said, not in the way I was thinking and maybe I should take a peek out the front window. I looked and there was an entire flock of vultures gathered around the not-a-squirrel. I was upset for two reasons:

1. Not-a-squirrel and I may not have had the best interactions, but I felt bad he was becoming a buffet

2. I am deathly afraid of birds. My bird phobia makes my squirel phobia look completely rational and reasonableAt this point there was nothing to do but respect the impromptu sky burial going on in our parking lot. Nature would run its course, and I still needed to run errands. I got FoG to go out to the car with me in the event that the vultures decided I looked like a good second course. I went and did my errands and picked up my lunch, hoping it would all be over by the time I got back.

No such luck. More vultures had shown up and there was now a sort of line forming. And there I was with a bag of food. I was practically setting up for a remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds outside my front door. I gave myself a pep talk and explained to myself that there was no reason to be afraid. I could totally just get out of the car and march myself into the house. I’d just stare down any a-hole bird who dared to even look in my direction.

Then I called FoG from the car and requested an escort into the house. My need for my lunch not to get cold outweighed my need to overcome my bird phobia. I got inside safely and lived to tell the tale. Have I mentioned FoG is really patient and understanding?

A few hours later, it was all over and everyone had left the parking lot. It was almost like it had never happened except for a few tufts of fur. Which was both sad and disgusting.

The whole experience was very Circle of Life but with way less Elton John and more vultures. Unfortunately, there was no parting of the clouds with an accompanying delivery of a profound lesson. Maybe the lesson was I’d be a terrible Disney Princess given my track record with woodland creatures? For now, I’m just going to assume it was a sign to continue my “I’ll stay out of your house, you stay out of mine” pact with nature and leave it at that.

An Open (Slightly Sheepish) Letter to the Universe… Part Two

Hi Universe,

It’s me again. I know you’ve been REALLY busy, but you might remember I wrote you a letter a while back

So, we had a little chat about the whole bucket list confusion issue It felt great to get it off my chest- and, as I said, I get it- these things happen.

Well, I seriously have to thank you – a move to England MORE than makes up for the whole “I missed seeing Kate Middleton” thing. Like to the point where I don’t know what to say… I was thinking at most maybe one day I’d run into Jenny Lawson at the grocery store one day or something and we’d be totally cool. But here we are; you’ve gone above and beyond and I’m feeling a little sheepish. Thank you thank you thank you.

(I should note here we’re relocating to England for FoG’s job. It’s a really exciting time for us and he did a lot to make it happen, just so I don’t give all the credit to the universe. Good job FoG, or I guess I should now say well done)

Back to the letter. I know that you still have a lot of things to sort out, so I don’t want to mess up your work flow, but I thought I’d bring you up to date on where my head is at…

As you might or might not have noticed we’ve already taken the Gingers to get their passports. It may also have come to your attention that their passport photos look like mug shots for a very small pasty crime ring. Big Ginger looks prepared to deny everything while Little Ginger looks pissed that they were caught. It’ll be super fun to have those the next five years. Big Ginger’s first passsport photo was taken when he was about three and a half weeks old. It was an epic experience that involved me making an improvised baby poncho out of a green blanket due to an epic spit up situation that left us with only his white onesie. (I know you were there but I’m filling in everyone else) The man in the passport office said the baby couldn’t be in white for the picture because he’d blend into the background too much. I must have really looked like a woman on the edge because he then backtracked and said if I had a blanket that was not white we could probably work the problem. Boom. Baby poncho.

Now I think about it- Little Ginger is fairly new to the whole command of spoken language thing. I wonder if living in England is going to result in a toddler/preschooler who sounds like Madonna in the late 90s/ early 2000s or Sliding Doors era Gwyneth Paltrow? I guess we’ll find out!

It has also occurred to me that I’m going to have to learn to drive on the wrong side of the road. Hmmm. This might prove challenging for me. I almost failed my driving test because I swerved to avoid a squirrel. Obviously this was before I learned the truth about squirrels. My driving is definitely impaired by my tendency to overthink and that is on the regular side of the road. As we discussed before-I am a total Anglophile and can tea, crumpet, Harrods, Hobnob, Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and BBC my way through anything. However, the driving on the wrong side of the road thing gives me pause. On the upside, thank you very much for a lot of guaranteed content for the blog- assuming I survive the learning curve. It’s time to summon my inner Dowager Countess.

So, I’ll let you go now, I know you have your hands full at the moment. I will just say thank you in advance for the amazing adventure. I’d probably be pushing my luck to inquire about a play date with Duchess Kate and the kids… I do feel like Little Ginger and Princess Charlotte have major BFF potential. Just gonna leave that here. Go big or go to England home, right?

Good luck with the other things you’ve got on your plate. I’m here if you need help

Hugs and Kisses,

Katie