Thursday, February 21, 2008

My Dog Faith

I let Faith sleep inside last night. She doesn't get to do that very often, but last night I couldn't stand to put her outside. She is a Southern California Dog and she, like the rest of our residents, is afraid of the rain. She doesn't know what to do with it. In fact she goes as far as to run around the yard at high speeds, getting that beautiful golden coat of hers muddy and dripping wet. (If you think it sounds like she likes the rain, you are wrong. I know dogs.) We have a nightly ritual, Faith and I. I get the kids to bed, get myself ready for bed, finish up any unfinished chores around the house and she waits patiently at the door. She looks in the window with an ever so desperate look of, "Is it time for me to come in yet?" Finally, I open the door. She immediately jumps into her spot on the couch, careful to leave just enough room for me to sit. I grab a book and the remote control and settle in for some Faith and Mama time. I wrap a cozy blanket around me, turn on my latest episode of Monk or House (Two shows, apart from my usual favorite, that I haven't seen every episode of so the writing strike doesn't effect.), and Faith takes her place on my lap. Faith, though a starved 49 pounds when God showed her to us at the pound, is now a healthy 72 pounds and believes she is a lap dog. She has to be as close as she can be to my face and my hand must be resting on her somewhere, preferably scratching her head. A soon as she has found her spot, she lets out the most contented, guttural sigh. Within minutes she is a 72 pound of sleeping, softly snoring, pooch. The routine goes: I read/watch TV/fall asleep myself. Then Steve wakes me up, or the crushing, live heating pad, becomes so uncomfortable that I decide its time for my own comfy bed. I open the door; she goes in her house; I get in my bed and another day ends. Last night I just couldn't put her out. So she slept all night in her spot on the couch. No accidents in the house this morning, just a very warm and happy puppy.

It reminds me of an incident that happened when I was in the 5th grade. I was 10 years old, living in Oklahoma. We had a white lab named Muffy who, to this day, I could cry about her death on my 21st birthday. I have always had a tender spot for animals, but if it was/is my animal I'm a lost cause emotionally. Anyway, since I lived in Oklahoma, occasionally the meteorologists would come to our school to teach us about severe storm and tornado safety. This particular day I was listening intently in the library of the school where all of the elementary school had gathered. He was talking about how quickly tornadoes can come upon a community and how necessary it is to have a good plan for evacuation to a cellar or a safe place in your home that the whole family knows to go to. He said the worst place to be during a tornado was outside. I was riveted, because I knew Muffy didn't know all of this information and she was an outside dog. I'm not sure what else was said that day, but I do know that I raised my hand in front of all of these kids and said, "What about animals? Is it OK for animals to be outside?" His response was something about animals being smart, but if there was enough warning, and all the people in the house were safe, it would be a better idea to bring the dog inside the cellar or the safe place in the home. I was panicked. I knew my mom. I knew she would not bring our dog inside for any reason. But I asked anyway. She of course said something like, "Muffy would be fine in a tornado and no, I won't bring her inside."

So I wrote a letter to the news station and said something like this:

Thank you for coming to my school. My mom said that even if she had enough warning she would not bring my dog inside during a tornado. Is there anything you can do about that?

Guess what letter they chose to read on the air during the news? Yep, my pathetic letter of desperation, pleading for help for my dog. I, of course didn't hear it, but my parents friends did and knew about my, let's say, obsession, with animals. They told my parents about the public reading and about how the whole news team laughed at how "cute" the letter was. They laughed. I still can't believe they laughed. I was very serious.

Now you understand why my dog slept inside last night.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Perfect Day

Last Tuesday we had one of those perfect Southern California Days. You southern California residents know what I am talking about: 80 degrees inland and about 75 degrees at the beach. I told the girls that if they got up early to finish school we could spend the day at the beach. Well, at 6:45 the girls were up and hard at work. Kayci finished at about 10:00 and Haley....well, Haley was still working on her stuff on the way to and from the beach, but she put forth a great effort to get done. After some minor repairs on our dusty bikes, locating helmets, de-black widowing the bike trailer, and making a simple lunch of PB and honey we were off. It took only about 45 minutes to get to Newport Beach and we were not disappointed. Parking was easy, because it was a school day for everyone else in California. The weather was perfect. The bike path was empty. The girls were so excited to be outdoors instead of doing school that there wasn't a complaint heard for hours...ok long stretches of minutes at a time. We called Mamow to come down and join us. She's retired...she has nothing else to do but respond to every whim of her daughter and granddaughters. We rode to a park; we ate lunch (Why does PB and honey taste sooooo good at the beach?); the girls played in the water (yes it was that warm); they collected 139 sea shells (Yes, we counted); Mamow treated us all to a beach time favorite: frozen bananas; we rode bikes some more; Mamow treated us all to a Spaghetti factory dinner. (No, we don't just invite her for her generosity. It is much deeper and loving than that. I obviously can't watch three bikes AND take the girls to the bathroom.)

The day was just perfect. In fact, if I had tried to plan a perfect day, it would not have turned out this great. I find myself wanting to go back, just to see if we could have another great day like that. But I know, inevitably someone would get sick, the weather would stink, the complaints would abound, and PB and honey would not taste as good. So I will settle for the day we had...unplanned...just a whim that we acted on. A day that the Merrick girls and Mamow will always remember as the most perfect day!!

Two good things:
1. I am so thankful for a husband that works so hard that I am able to stay home with the girls and do fun things like this. (This particular day he worked from 8:00 am to 8:30 pm) We love you honey!!
2. Steve is nothing but encouraging for outings like this. He has every right to be bitter about the fact we do fun things while he is working, but he is supportive and excited to hear about our adventures.
Click to play Beach Day
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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Scrapbooking Weekend

Oh, the little pleasures of this world. I just returned from a glorious weekend in the mountains at a bed and breakfast with my girl friends. Really that sentence explains it all; away...mountains...bed and breakfast...girlfriends. I have been on several of these retreats with the same consultant and pretty much have the do's and don'ts memorized. Being a small, repressed trouble maker, I am always thinking of ways to pretend I don't know what is going on at the retreat in order to ask questions that annoy other people. It's a gift and a curse. (My favorite Monk quote.) So for those of you who know me, and pretend to love me, here is a list of dumb questions that my consultant, Lisa Hemstreet, and other fellow scrappers love to hear.

Top 10 Most Irritating questions to ask at a Scrapbooking Retreat.

10. What if we don't like the song that is playing? Can I turn off the i-pod before I go to bed?

9. Can I put a plastic bottle in the trash can marked CANS ONLY?

8. I know the pizza is labeled, but what kind is in each box, really?

7. Are all of the salads the same and um...I see salad dressing on the counter, but where do I get salad dressing for MY salad?

6. Jodie, do you have a sticker to go with this lay out?

5. What's for dinner? Do I have to eat it? Is it the same CRAP as last year? (Remember these are dumb questions, not necessarily questions I ask.) The food is amazing...always amazing...but people still ask, even though there is a menu posted in clear sight.

4. Are you hungry?

3. Jodie, do you have a piece of peach colored paper? Scissors? Adhesive?

2. Lisa, I know I already turned in my cost sheet, but can I add this one sheet of stickers too?

1. Have you thought of going digital?

Yes, I know, it is a talent. I know how to make questions that annoy people. However, I can't take credit for number 1. Jodie made that one up all by herself, and used it, and used it, and used it. It wasn't really annoying until the 531st time. But it worked, and I have decided to go digital. Good bye world of scraps of paper and pages of stickers. Good bye back breaking bags full of stuff. Good bye heavy albums. Good bye being a year or more behind. Digital world of scrapping, here I come.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dorks and Divas

While watching the Grammy's last night with my musically gifted husband, I came to a very interesting conclusion. Musicians are a little dorky and a little geeky and a little socially awkward. Now I realize this could illicit some strong feelings among readers of this blog, but hear me out. I think you will agree and see that it is not an insult, but just inevitability. Also, keep in mind, though not as accomplished as my husband, I too wear the title of musician and will admit to my nerdiness wholeheartedly.

When I get together with any musicians they fall into two categories: either extremely quiet and focused or side-splittingly hilarious. Really, these are the two categories. Here is my theory on why. Any musician that has come far enough in life to play professionally or semi-professionally has had to have spent HOURS in a practice room somewhere. These hours in the practice room going over and over scales, etudes, minuets, sonatas, etc. are spent in order to first, impress and not anger a musician's teacher, and second to actually learn and perfect whichever instrument the musician has chosen. When I say hours in practice rooms I mean hours. When Steve and I were dating and he was practicing for his recital, he would spend 6-8 hours or more a day in the practice room. So because of all these hours spent in a practice room by most musicians, when given the opportunity to see daylight or mingle with other musicians you get a collective group of people socially retarded by the non-musician community, but brilliantly funny or abnormally focused to those of us in the musician community. When I play with a group I have never played with, there is always an instant connection. We've spent our time alone, refining our craft, now it is time to play (musically and socially).

Now think of the "successful" musicians of the day. I mean the ones that are true musicians, not just especially good at rhyming words. If you look closely, you can see the dorkiness that once described them. It has of course been replaced by an admiration and adoration by those who appreciate a good piece of art. Here are some examples from the Grammy's last night:

1. Brad Paisley: Now a very accomplished singer, song writer, and tremendous guitarist. None of these really come naturally and all take work to attract the kind of attention he gets. For crying out loud, his most popular song right now is "I want to Check You for Ticks." This song is very weird and very funny. I would even call him attractive. But if you look closely at him; take away the sexy cowboy hat and cowboy duds, you can see a nerdy kid who spent hours locked in his room practicing guitar licks over and over again, adding occasional silly lyrics, dreaming of performing for the Grammy’s someday.

2. David Grahl: Dorky. In his post show interview he was a goofball. I liked him immediately because he was funny. I like funny, but I bet he was not a popular guy in his youth. A lot of scream singing into a broom-stick/microphone stand letting his hair hang carelessly in his face while driving his mom crazy with heavy metal guitar licks played over and over and over and over...really the same could be said for the entire Foo Fighter Band. (Substitute cello, bass, or drums for the guitar though)

3. Josh Groban (sorry Jodie) "The Josh"- What an amazing voice. Notice I didn't say great voice. This voice is a trained and practiced voice. He could sing anything and hearts would start to pound. This took years and years of practice and discipline. To this day, I'm sure he has to exercise regularly to maintain the quality of his voice. And women all over the world now swoon at his voice. They fantasize about the sensitive caring man he must be and play his music as inspiration for getting through yet another day with the non-singing man they have married. They attach words like sexy and alluring to him. But look at him!! He, stripped of his voice, is not at all attractive. I'm sure there are bullies from his past that would never admit that they used to give him wedgies at school, or TP his locker, or call him a girl because of the vibrato in his voice. I'm sure there is more than one "pretty girl" that laughed when Josh got up the courage to ask her to a dance. She laughed and said, "I could never be seen with someone like you." But now women all over the world pay top dollar to hopefully sit in the shower of his spit and sweat as he sings songs of love and survival.

4. Herbie Hancock- Jazz pianist extraordinaire. Years and years of practice went in to making this Grammy award winner the musician that brings people to their feet. Practicing piano is one thing. Learning the art of jazz is another beast entirely, and takes a drive reserved for only the best. But before playing under the likes of Miles Davis, I can almost bet he was not a popular kid. While other kids in his neighborhood were perfecting their pass reception, he was spending hours inside hammering out Dorian and mixolydian modes to the point that it came so naturally he no longer had to think about them.

My point? Well, I can't remember really. There are those who may call my husband "socially retarded." To those people I say, look at the above examples and remember them when the day comes that the name Steve Merrick comes with the prefix, "Grammy award winner." Those people who have made it to where they are now, for the most part, have earned it. They make it look easy. But behind these confident exteriors of the performers are geeky musicians who gave up the title of being "Cool" to gain the title of "Grammy winners."

New Words to an Older Rhyme

We are all familiar with the old rhyme:

Rub a Dub Dub Three Men in a Tub (this needs to be blogged about all by itself)
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker, the candle stick maker....

Well, my Kayci was just reciting it for some reason and she said:

"Rub a Dub Dub Three Kayci's in a tub
And who do you think they be?
The butcher the BITCHER, and the candy stick maker..."

These were her words. I kid you not. I'm not sure how to respond. I'm pretty sure she has never heard that word; I'm hoping it was just a twisted tongue type insident.

They don't even go to public school yet...I have no one to blame but myself. Or could it be that while I was gone this weekend, Steve taught them some more colorful language?

Yes, that's it. I will blame Steve.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Chevron Station

I've been meaning to write about this event in my life for sometime. However, it has taken some mental processing to be able to convey the interesting aspects of this particular occurrence. It really was something like out of a movie. Except in the movie, the mother is some kind of super hero and handles the situation better than I did. Or the mother is killed because she, like me, didn't know the correct way to handle what was thrown her way.

Here is how the event unfolded. It was a cold and rainy Wednesday night. I was running late to my church rehearsal and the girls' church clubs. ("Running late" will be what my epitaph will read). As I piled everyone into the car and started to roll out of the driveway, I noticed my gas light on. Of course it was on, because I was running late and it was raining. It was going to take me an hour to get to church anyway, because Southern Californians freak out at the sight of water dropping from the sky. So I quickly drive to the local Chevron station that also has a McDonalds attached. I thought the kids' liver had had it too easy lately. I didn't want their digestive system to get lazy or their immune system to become too healthy. I like to keep all body systems on their toes at all times. So while the gas was being pumped I loaded up on America's health food of choice: cheeseburgers (no onions), fries, and vitamin C rich hi-C orange drink. I brought the above mentioned food to my starving troops. Kayci, from the back seat says, "Mom I forgot, I have to bring snacks tonight for Pioneer Girls. And, also it has to be healthy because we are trying to live healthy lives." Now remember, I am running late AND it is raining. Before panic completely set in, I remembered that Chevron is also equipped with a nice snack shop too. As I was looking through the shelves and shelves of healthy options in this quick stop, I noticed a steady stream of shady looking women filing into the Chevron snack shop. At first I just notice them. Then I noticed 4 armed guards guarding each door. You see, next door to this Chevron/McDonalds/Snack shop station is a bus station. Apparently some women prisoners were being moved from one facility to another and this was their "potty" stop. (If you are just now realizing it; yes, I left my children in the car without me while I was making these purchases.) I swallowed hard and carried my healthy treasures of cheese and crackers toward the check out line. At this point the space inside the little store had become very small and awkward. I was trying to avoid making eye contact without appearing to be trying to avoid making eye contact. It's not that I feel like I am better than these women; (actually, I don't feel like I'm better than anybody or anything for that matter) I'm just certain these women know they are tougher than me. To my surprise one of these women grabbed my arm and said, "Hey, hook me up, I don't have no ID and I gotta have some smokes; you feel me?" Now I've actually only heard "bad guys" talk this way on CSI, but being an avid TV watcher, I was "Down" with what she was sayin.' I nervously smiled and said, "Um, n-n-no I can't do that. (smiling awkwardly) I'm really sorry." (I apologized because of my pathetic need for everyone to like me). She mumbled something under her breath that I'm pretty sure was NOT "God bless you." Then she moved on to someone else. I kid you not; I was asked this same question in very similar ways 4 times in the short excursion between the snack shelves and the check out counter. While I was checking out, the clerk wasn't sure how much one of the kinds of snacks that I picked was. I desperately said, "Just charge me whatever. I've got kids in the car. I'm late and it is raining. Please let me go." I couldn't get the tears to come, but I think she sympathized with the wildly panicked look in my eyes.

After I got safely to the car and to my kids I started thinking of funny things I could have said as reasons I couldn't buy smokes for these delightful women. Since this will probably never happen to me again, I thought I would pass on some of my wasted ideas, so if you ever encounter a similar situation, you will be prepared.

10 things to say to someone, from prison, who asks you to buy smokes:

1. I'm sorry I don't speak English/Spanish/whatever language they just used.

2. I don't have any money and I'm not allowed to use your money.

3. You shouldn't smoke. It looks like you've already made some pretty poor choices in your life. Let's make a good choice by not smoking.

4. I am also a prisoner disguised as a mother. Leave me alone !@#$.

5. I'm not quite 18 yet. I totally would otherwise. I know I look 30 something...but that is because I have been smoking since I was 9.

6. Yes, I will buy your smokes if you will buy all of these snacks for my kids.

7. Hey, I recognize you. I knew you would end up in prison. (start pointing and laughing)

8. What are smokes?

9. I have to use the restroom.

10. (just start crying uncontrollably out of fear).

I hope this list helps someone out there. I think any of these would work, by themselves or in conjunction with each other.

As always, my faithful readers: You are welcome.

Good Advice from Courtney

While I was holding my sick little Courtney in my arms last night, she astounded me with some great advice that I thought I would pass on to my readers.

She said, "You shouldn't eat your boogers when you are sick, because it is gross."

Profound, I know. Good advice Courtney. We can all use a reminder of when one should and shouldn't eat one's boogers. It is an easy tidbit to forget.