Thursday, December 31, 2009

Cramming a Carry On

The Challenge: An 8 –day medical mission trip to Jamaica, beginning this Saturday – and I'm limited to a carry-on bag. Wha??! Yes – a carry-on bag. That’s it.

This. is. devastating. This is impossible for the Drama Queen. I normally travel with bags and bags and bags – shoes, gadgets, comfort items – you just never know what you might need – and being the good Girl Scout that I am – I like to travel prepared. Besides – it’s not like there’s a Walmart down the street in Falmouth, Jamaica. Cuz’, if there were – that’d be a different story. I could live at Walmart.

But. No Walmart. And one carry-on. For 8 days. So – can I do this?

A general overview of our schedule is something like this: We fly in Saturday, where we’ll spend most of the day in Customs. That sorta’ happens when there’s 26 of us – and 26 checked suitcases are full of drugs. Yeah, our one checked bag is carrying drugs for the medical clinic – not any of MY stuff – and Customs gets all funny about all the drugs we’re bringing into the country. Go figure.

Sunday, we head to church (ah – church clothes needed!) and then to the beach (woo-hoo – beach clothes!).

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday will be spent working in the clinic – so scrubs will be the outfit of the day.

Each evening, we’ll relax around the dorm – so some comfy shorts and t-shirts will be needed for lounging. Wednesday of that week, we’ll be at Dunn’s River Falls and shopping – so, back to the beach wear and some sort of casual stuff to shop in. Sunday – time to come home. Darn it.

So – there you go….let’s begin. We start with our carry-on bag – just a standard little suitcase.

Now, the most important thing in any lady’s wardrobe – especially a Queen – is shoes. I need church shoes, work shoes and beach shoes. Oh, and shower shoes in the dorm would be nice. I’m packing some flat gold sandals for church and the beach, and I’m wearing those white/green "crocs" you see onto the plane – but I can wear them at the clinic, too. They're also good in climbing Dunn's River Falls. Those white & black thingies are my shower shoes. Nice & flat. Won’t take up much room in the case.

….Bags…it’s nice to have a bag to carry around while on vacation – and in this case, I’m carrying the big orange bag – as a beach bag and as a purse. It’s nice because it folds down very flat and will fit in the bottom of the suitcase. That blue thingy in the pic will hold my water all week. It’s a Guatemalan thing - but it works.

…Towels. Yeah, we gotta bring our own towels. I’m taking two– I’ll rotate them between the shower and the beach. We’ve got a washing machine – so I can rotate them through the wash. They won’t get too skanky, I think. Ewww.

…Clothing. Well – being that we’re in Jamaica – my swimsuit is essential. Check. I’m taking 2 sets of scrubs,
2 pairs of shorts, 3 t-shirts, pajamas, and a dress for church. Oh, almost forgot – underwear. Duh. That’d be important.

Okay, we’re almost done….

….last, but not least, all that miscellaneous stuff. I need my 3-1-1 bag – you know, the 3 oz of my liquid stuff – shampoo, sunscreen, deodorant, etc. I have a very tiny alarm clock, as well as ear plugs (it’s very noisy at night – the goats, the people, the reggae music – it will drive you nuts!), a Kindle so I can read at night, sunglasses, my iPhone for music & games on the plane, journal & pen (no laptop - you all voted and the computer is kicked to the curb), photos from last year that I want to give to my Jamaican friends, and my camera. For lots and lots of photos.


And in my pocket – on the plane – I’ll have my passport and my money.

And my Happy Pills.

I’m good to go. ☺

Now - do NOT show this post to my Hubby - or he'll get this insane idea that I can travel like this all the time. That is NOT happening. It's just our little secret that I can actually DO this! So - everything's packed and ready to go for early, early Saturday morning.

Until then, have a safe and Happy New Year's tonight, everyone - however you choose to celebrate the evening!



Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Pills in Hand

I leave for a medical mission trip in 3 days. I’m leaving the frozen tundra of the Midwest and I’m heading to the sunny shores of Jamaica, where I’ll spend 8 days working, playing, sunning, and soaking up the sunshine. Yeah, I’m trying not to rub it in – but I WILL be rubbing the suntan oil in just a few days….take THAT, Blizzard of 2009!

It’s the same trip I did a year ago – right at this time of year, in fact. There’s doctors, dentists, nursing students, pharmacists and support staff (like me!), and we work at a medical clinic in Falmouth, Jamaica…smack between Montego Bay and Ochos Rios on the northern shore of the island. We work hard – but we’ll play hard, too. I’ve learned that mission trips are all about the work – as well as the play. Both are very much needed.

I hate flying. Okay…hate is an awfully-strong word. How’s this…I LOATHE flying….better? However, yesterday I got my “happy pills” from the doctor, so I’m good to go. My happy pills allow me to get on and off the plane without having a panic-induced heart attack. They not only make me happy, but they make everyone around me happy so they don’t have to deal with the panic attacks. Some of my friends have had to “babysit” me on a plane – and it’s not pretty. Trust me on that. The happy pills help.

It didn’t help that the American Airlines plane crashed in Jamaica 10 days ago. Nope – that didn’t help at all. I’m flying American. To Jamaica. But I’ll be okay. I will. I have my happy pills and my faith. Between the two, I should be just fine.

My dilemma – do I take my laptop? Or not? I will not have internet access while there….However, I do like to journal while I travel. If I take my laptop, I can open up a word document each night and quickly type up the day’s events and thoughts and observations. If I don’t take it, I have to write. By hand. Which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but I have a bit of carpel tunnel in my right hand, and holding a pen is very painful. So - what to do? What to do?

But – argh – the hassle in taking a laptop anymore through security.... Security, itself, is a bitch. The shoes…the liquids & gels…the metal detectors…and now, thanks to the Christmas Underwear Wannabe Bomber, security is going to be just that much more of a bitch. Thanks, dude. But – better safe than sorry.

Tomorrow, I’ll be blogging about packing. I have a challenge ahead of me – and it will be very interesting to see if I can rise to it and meet it. If you know me at all – you know I never back down from a challenge. ☺

I’ll be off-line for 8 days – no blogging. Ouch. I will certainly catch up when I get back – and post photos and stories and anecdotes from my adventures. So don’t leave me. Be sure to come back and visit – I promise I’ll be back! ☺

Peace. (or, “Irie” – as they say in Jamaica.)


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Death by Technology

Whoever invented technology should just be shot. Really. Line 'em up on a wall and let the firing squad begin. Because – frankly? I’ve had it. I’m THIS CLOSE to a nervous breakdown thanks to all of the wonderful technology in my life.

I’ve had an iPod now for several years. The little screen now has some funny black squiggly lines – blocking out who’s singing and what they’re singing. It’s like driving in the dark with no lights. We may get there, but God knows what we’ll hit along the way. I’ve asked around, and no one else I know has funny black squiggly lines on their iPod screen. I seem to be the lucky one.

When we moved to the new house, we, of course, disconnected our computer and modem and plugs and wires and cords at the old house and transported them here. Slight problem, now, though - we no longer have “wireless” internet. I think we have all the parts, pieces, cables, plug-ins, etc to have wireless. But hell if I know how they all plug in and hook up and what goes where – and if I start hooking up and plugging in – I’ll probably electrocute or strangle myself. You think I’m kidding. I’m not.

I got an iPhone a few months ago as a gift. Why? I have no idea. All I really need a phone for is to make and receive phone calls. Nothing else. Nothing fancy. But anyway – I have the little sucker and I charge it faithfully and keep it in my purse for emergencies. And yet – for the last month, the darn thing wasn’t working. I wasn’t getting any phone calls. Nada. I was cursing the phone and calling it every name in the book when my son showed me that I had the ringer volume turned all the way down. Oh. My bad. Apparently, the phone was working after all – I just couldn’t HEAR the darn thing. Who knew that volume was so important?

My car has a built-in GPS system – “Betsy," I call her – which is helpful when responding to fires as a Red Cross volunteer. However, about 4 months ago, Betsy decided that she doesn’t recognize street addresses anymore – just cities. If I put in a street address for a certain city, Betsy takes me straight to the post office. Seriously. I kid you not. I live in an area where we have dozens of cities around us – and I have been to every post office in every one of them. ARGH! I’m about ready to break up with Betsy and call the whole thing off. She’s got a screw loose somewhere – or she has a freaky obsession for post offices.

I got a Kindle a year ago so I can take my “books” with me when I travel. Only now, none of my books are downloading from Amazon. Why? I have no freakin’ idea. If I knew why, I’d know how to fix it. I do know how to curse and scream and throw the Kindle against the wall – which doesn’t really fix the problem, but it sure makes me feel a whole lot better. In the meantime, I sit with an empty Kindle and no answers from Amazon.

Am I the only technologically challenged person out there? Surely not. I would hope not. Someone else has to be as stupid as me when it comes to all of these little gadgets that profess to make our lives easier but instead, seem to bring nothing but frustration and headaches and mental anguish.

If anyone has any ideas or suggestions on how to fix squiggly black lines on an iPod, or hook up a wireless internet system, or make Betsy recognize streets again, or download books onto a Kindle, let me know.

In the meantime, I have no idea what I’m listening to on my iPod as I drive around LOST, and even when I finally GET where I’m supposed to be, it’s not like I can read any books, since my Kindle is now empty. Geesh. But I can at least answer my darn phone now, if someone calls with solutions. Unless I accidentally turn the volume down again. Oops.



Monday, December 28, 2009

Waiting to Be Smote

Wow…I am SOOOO glad to be here today. You all have no idea.

No, seriously. I am SOOO thankful to still be alive after yesterday. I am holding my enemies close and my loved ones even closer – well, all except for my teenage sons – I don’t hold them so close cuz they kinda’ smell like – well, teenage BOYS – so the farther I can hold them, the better. Trust me on that.

I really thought yesterday was IT. The day I bite the big one. The end of the world as I know it. The day where my family would be gathering for my wake and having a big old party to memorialize me and drink toasts to the memory of the Drama Queen.

Why, you ask?

I wore jeans to church.

(insert big DUN-DUN-DUMMMMMM music here)

In my defense, Kansas City was hit with a record-breaking blizzard on Christmas Eve – which lasted all through Christmas Day. And although the blizzard “ended”, which just meant the 40-50 mph winds ended, the snow didn’t. It kept snowing Saturday and Sunday…piles and piles of snow. Snow as far as the eyes can see. Lots of snow. Snow. Snow. Snow. (okay, you get the picture).

The snowplows can’t keep up with it – and hence, our roads are a mess. Half of the drivers are getting stuck and then having to wait for the other half to come along and push them along on their merry, snowy way. There's a lot of sticking and pushing going on our streets here.

And so – I wore jeans to church yesterday. On the good chance that either:
1. we’d be stuck and I’d have to get out and push, or
2. someone else would be stuck, and we’d have to get out and push.

Either way, I knew there’d be pushing involved. So – being the good Girl Scout I am, I was PREPARED. I wore jeans.

I arrived at church and then held my breath - and waited for God to smote me. Lightning bolts to come through the church ceiling and strike me down. Right there in the pew. I knew it would just be a matter of time, because growing up, my wise & all-knowing mom would tell me I’d get smote if I wore jeans to church. God was a loving God and all, but He didn’t love blue jeans in church. According to my mom.

And it didn’t happen. Huh. And – for the first time I can remember in a very long time, a good majority of the people there were in blue jeans. Just like me. Apparently, we were all thinking the same thing while getting dressed for church. We were all PREPARED.

And I’m telling you – if 400 people wearing jeans in church didn’t get smote, then I guess God loves us all – whatever we wear to church. And maybe – just maybe – my Mom was wrong. (insert DUN-DUN-DUMMMM music here, too. Because if you know my Mom - you know my Mom is like, never wrong. Ever. So when she IS wrong - she deserves dramatic music. I'm just sayin'.)

And maybe – just maybe – I might just do it again. Maybe. Or maybe I won’t push my luck. You just never know.



Sunday, December 27, 2009

Dear Commenters

Dear Readers:

Today's subject has to do with blog comments....those little snippets that bring joy to any blogger - somewhat like a little treat for a dog. We all love comments - especially the comments oozing with praise and ego-stroking gratification that justify the hours spent toiling over a post.

However, when we get a comment from "Anonymous" that goes something like this:

"Opulently I agree but I think the post should have had more information" -

-it leaves me shaking my head in a "what the hell?" sort of way.

There are so many things wrong with this - so let's begin:

First, "Anonymous." Who are you? If you can't put a name to your comment, you don't deserve to get published. Period. I don't even ask for real names - use "John Smith" for all I care - but put a name to your words - or they don't mean squat. Hiding behind "Anonymous" is just that - hiding. Man up and use a name.

Second, "Opulently". Another "what the hell?" moment for me. As in, "What the hell does 'opulently' mean?" I looked it up in my Mac dictionary - it didn't know what it meant either. Opulent means rich and luxurious - so are you saying, "Richly and luxuriously, I agree??" What? Whatever. So - for future reference, whoever you are - use a word that I (and my Mac) can understand. It helps get your point across if I can understand what you're saying. I'm just saying. You can call me dumb if you want - but my peeps and I aren't ones to go around using "opulently" in our every day conversation. Or bloggings.

And third, "the post should have more information." Oh, really? Do you not understand what a blog is? I can tell you what it is not. It is not an encyclopedia. It is not a reference book. It is not a "how-to" manual. It is a BLOG, for crying out loud. It's whatever I want to make it. It's whatever I want to write about. I give you as much information as I see fit. If you don't like it - move on. I'm not even sure what "information" you're looking for - that sounded rather creepy or stalker-like, if you ask me. Ugh.

So, be gone with you, "Opulent Anonymous Commenter Who Seeks More Information."

I will stick with my non-opulent writings of little information. And proudly sign off as the one and only,


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Let the Reindeer Games Begin

Poor, poor Rudolf, the Red-Nosed Reindeer…remember how the other reindeer used to laugh and call him names? And how they wouldn’t let him play in any reindeer games?

Well, all I can say is, “run, run Rudolf” – right over to my house, because it’s our Annual Reindeer Games Night!!!! Yes, the night that all of our family and friends look forward to with anticipation – it’s our annual Christmas party of fun and frolic and mischief and letting loose your inhibitions! (I know, I know – pretty much every day of my life is full of fun and frolic and mischief and losing my inhibitions – but this night is for everyone ELSE in my life! What can I say? Life is too darn short to live it any other way, I always say!)

We’ll have games set up all over the Drama Queen’s castle – games that are new – and games that aren’t so new, but will take you back to your childhood….

We have “Operation” in the breakfast/dining area….for those aspiring doctors and surgeons…remember removing the “bread basket” and getting shocked?! And there’s “Kerplunk!” set up in the living room – how many sticks can YOU pull out without making all of the marbles come crashing down, creating the most God-awful racket known to mankind?!?!

In the formal dining room, we have a relatively new game – “Deal Or No Deal” – and although we don’t have Howie hosting it for us, it’s still a lot of fun to see if we have any millionaires going home tonight. And no, we don’t have Super Models standing there in tight, little short dresses holding the briefcases. Sorry. Although hubby sure would have liked to have them – but I put my foot down on that. I said, “No Howie – then no Super Models. A deal is a deal. Or a deal is No deal. Whatever. You know what I mean.” Hubby immediately got on the phone and tried to arrange Howie to fly in to K.C. to host our game, but Howie apparently said, “No deal”, too. Oh well. So - I tried to make a deal with Hubby - I told him that if he'd shave his head and pretend to be Howie, I'd wear a super short tight dress and pretend to be the Super Model with the briefcase. He rolled his eyes, shook his head, and walked away mumbling something....all I heard was, "crazy" and "poor me" - which, I have no idea what he was talking about, but we can only speculate. Ahem. Moving on.

We have “Catch Phrase” set up – for those who aren’t so shy and are very verbose…(don’t look at me when I say that – why does everyone always look at me when “aren’t so shy” and “verbose” are said??!!! I don’t get it…..)

Downstairs, near the bar area – we have the classic “Trouble” – which was always a favorite of mine, as I loved the sound of the “pop-o-matic” button. When I was younger, I would push that button over and over and over and over again – I loved it. I loved the “POP” sound. I can only thank the gaming Gods that my parents didn’t kill me over all that “popping” – but I do remember my mother “popping” a lot of Excedrin back then. Wonder why??

And, of course, we’ve got the pool table set up and ready to go, as well as the slot machine….yes, Trouble In River City – right here at the Drama Queen’s castle.

It’s always a great night to get our family and friends together for Reindeer Games Night – to let go of the holiday stress and just kick back and have some good, old-fashioned fun!

So, Rudolf – you’ve earned a night of frolic – you worked hard the other night, guiding Santa’s sleigh – so come on over and join us and let the festivities begin!

Do you have Reindeer Games Night at your house? Are there games that are classics and take you back to your childhood that you just love to play over and over again? Let me know – I’m always looking for ideas for our next Reindeer Games Night. Now, I'm going to just "run" right over to the bar...ahem...for a chocolate martini.



Friday, December 25, 2009

I Caught Santa!

Santa came! He came! I must have been on the GOOD list - and not the naughty list - as Santa left me some delicious chocolate. Yummo - Santa seems to always come through.

I was worried - first, I never know which list I'm on - and second, Kansas City had a record-setting blizzard last night. We're digging our way out today so we can head to Grandma's house for food, fun and making merry.

And - I have PROOF that Santa came last night. Here's a photo of him, in my OWN living room, caught in the act last night:

Awesome, huh? I know my daughter's jaw dropped when she saw the photo this morning....I think she was having doubts, but no more - she knows, as do I, that Santa is ALIVE and WELL!

Merry Christmas, everyone!



Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's Christmas Eve

It's Christmas Eve...

...are you ready?

It's Christmas Eve... all your shopping done?

It's Christmas Eve... everything wrapped?

It's Christmas Eve.... all your baking & cooking & cleaning done?

It's Christmas Eve....

...and we're ready.

It's Christmas Eve...

...and all our shopping is done.

It's Christmas Eve...

...and everything is wrapped.

It's Christmas Eve...

...and all of our baking & cooking and cleaning is done.

It's Christmas Eve...

...and tonight....we celebrate the birth of a baby born in Bethlehem thousands of years ago...

It's Christmas Eve...

Are you ready?


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

How Lovely Are Thy Questions

Oh Christmas Meme, Oh Christmas Meme...thanks to my friend, Kate, over at, I am going to answer the following Christmas-themed questions, as it's the Eve of Christmas Eve and I have so many things to do and so little time and I have to find the hidden presents and run some errands know how it is. Ahem. Here we go:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper…but if the present is like, really odd-shaped or big-assed huge, then it doesn’t get wrapped and it's put out Christmas morning, and it’s now from Santa. (I cheat. Deal with it.) I hate wrapping. I really do. Sigh.

2. Real tree or Artificial? I refuse to be a part of the tree massacre each year when thousands of trees are chopped down by ax-wielding murderers. I swear, if my tree were real, I’d hear it screaming in agony as it sits there dying, day by day. So – I take fake. If you don’t like that – suck it. It works for me – and I don’t feel guilty looking at a dying tree every day in my living room.

3. When do you put up the tree? Whenever I can nag my hubby long and hard enough that he finally gives up and drags the tree upstairs for me to decorate. Preferably the day after Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down? December 26th. Except for this year – because we screwed up and planned a freakin’ Christmas party on the 26th – so now my tree gets ONE more day of grace and doesn’t come down until the 27th. Dammit – I will so NOT do this again – plan a party on the 26th – cuz that one extra day is going to drive. me. crazy. Yeah, I've got the Christmas spirit, can't you tell?!

5. Do you like eggnog? Love it. Especially with a little rum. Rum ta tum tum.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? My red leather go-go boots which made me so incredibly hot and sexy that my friends could hardly stand for me to be in the same room with all my hotness and sexiness oozing from my 7-year old pores.

7. Hardest person to buy for? Hubby. Christmas also happens to be his birthday – so it’s DOUBLY hard this time of year.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My sons – one of them is a book-a-holic, and the other is a University-of-Oklahama-holic, which makes my life so easy. Just buy some Sci-Fi books, and some OU-themed stuff, and I'm good to go. Done.

9. How do you decorate your tree--matchy-matchy or hodgepodge? Uh, both? All the “balls” are matchy-matchy- this year, they're white & silver... but the ornaments are from our travels all over the world. Wherever we go, I buy an ornament for the tree - and as we're decorating, it's fun to remember our adventures and travels.

10. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning? Christmas morning. Duh – Santa doesn’t come until then – so why would I open up presents before then? The best gifts are from Santa – I want to wait for the GOOD stuff.

11. Favorite Christmas song? I have a lot of favorite songs, but my favorite is Emerson Lake & Palmer’s “Father Christmas.” A close second is Trans Siberian Orchestra's "Christmas Canon."

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Hands down, my favorite Christmas movie is Cary Grant & Loretta Young in the original, “The Bishop’s Wife.” Love it. After church on Christmas Eve, you can bet your sweet buppy that I'm in front of the TV, with the DVD popped in, watching me some Cary. Ooh la la. And he plays an angel. Even better.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? The day after Thanksgiving. After the tree is done, I plop down on the laptop and begin my shopping. I hide the gifts – and I’ve been known to forget where the hiding place is…which really sucks when it’s Christmas Eve and you’re in a panic because you’ve lost half the gifts and you’re running around the house like a crazy woman trying to find them and your hubby just stands there watching you, shaking his head and muttering, “Why does she DO this every year?”.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes. And I am not ashamed. I figure it’s going to a better home, where it will be loved and taken care of. The gift is happy. I'm happy. It's all good.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Peppermint bark, with Christmas cookies a close second.

16. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Oh, stay home. I love it when the family is all together – that’s the best present of all.

17. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Of course - all 10 of them. What? You don’t think there’s 10 reindeer? Well, let’s name them: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer & Vixen….Comet, Cupid, Donner & Blitzen (always my favorite – we all need to get a little blitzed at Christmas.) And then there’s Rudolph, up front, of course, leading the way on the sleigh. And the 10th reindeer is “Olive”…as in “Olive, the other Reindeer” – who used to laugh and call Rudolph names….which was really bad for Olive to do, but oh, well – if I was named “Olive”, I might just do that, too.

18. What do you want to do for Christmas this year? Eat, drink and be merry!

God bless us, everyone! And God bless all of you, dear readers, as well as your friends and family!


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Do You Believe?

Confessions from a Working Mom

A "Truthful Tuesday" question from Elizabeth over at "Confessions from a Working Mom".

Today, she asks, "Is there a Santa Claus?"

Well, duh.

Let's set the scene: It's Christmas Eve. I'm a wee-little girl all of 8 years old. And I loved to read. (Still do - but that's not relevant to the story). Back to the story: I loved to stay up and read in bed. And so - it's late one Christmas Eve, and I'm in bed, reading. With the covers over my head, of course, and a flashlight. Because that's how I'd get away with staying up late and reading every night, so the evil parents didn't catch me.

Anywhoo - I'm reading, very happy and content, in my little "blanket fort", when - all of a sudden - I hear a loud THUMP on the roof.

I am NOT joking, my dear readers. There was seriously a thump on the roof.

Adrenaline shot through every vein and artery of my body - from my brain to my toes - and I froze. Although my heart was racing along now at 200 beats per minute - sounding like a bass drum - THUMP, THUMP, THUMP - as I was petrified....

Was that Santa????? OH MY GOD!!!!! Seriously? Was that Santa on my roof???!!! Did his sleigh just land on my roof? OH MY GOD!!!! I'm AWAKE!!! I'm not supposed to be AWAKE!!!! I'm supposed to be sleeping!!!! CRAP!!!!

I sat there in bed, trying to not. move. a. muscle. Even to the point of holding my breath - because God forbid, if Santa saw me breathing, he'd know I was awake. Or that's what my 8-year old logic told me.

Now, at the house I grew up in, we did not have a fireplace. My parents always assured me that the lack of a fireplace would not stop Santa from coming into the house - perhaps through the front door - and they were always right. Every year, we'd still get presents from Santa - no fireplace and all - and so that year...I listened, very carefully, for the front door to open.

And I could hear it open!!!! I kid you not! Very slowly...and then, I swear - I heard footsteps coming up the stairs (we lived in a split-level).

About this time, I was pretty close to a heart attack. I wondered what my parents would do the next morning when they found my lifeless body in bed - would they know what caused it? I could just hear my mom the next morning: "Oh, look, honey - it's the Drama Queen - She must have been awake when Santa came - we always tried to tell her, but would she ever listen?! Oh, no - not our little D.Q. Stubborn little thing, wasn't she?"

After a few minutes, there was another loud THUMP on the roof - and then - I kid you not - I heard sleigh bells....

The next morning, I told my parents what I had heard the night before. They gave each other a "look" - that I didn't understand at the time, but now as a parent, I totally understand. It's the look of, "My - don't we have crazy kids - but you gotta' love them and their imaginations!"

But. I know the truth. I know what I heard that night. I really did hear all of this. And so - I DO believe in Santa. I've never stopped believing.


Monday, December 21, 2009


I had meant to call her.

She was on my mental “to-do” list - that internal list that runs through your mind – the “I need to take my dry cleaning in”, or “I need to take the dog to the groomer” list that sticks in your brain….there’s always the, “I need to call so-and-so and see what she’s up to” thought. In my case, it was Shirley.

“I need to call Shirley.” The thought kept popping into my mind. October. November.

But life got in the way. I was busy with packing. I was busy remodeling the new house. I was busy moving. I was busy getting ready for the Homes tour. I was busy with Christmas. Busy. Busy. Busy.

I didn’t call her.

She died. Early December. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Tragically. Shockingly.

And now it’s too late. Shirley will never know that I had intended to call her. Good intentions. Bad execution. And I am left with my guilt – of not calling her and seeing how she was doing. Of not calling her and letting her know I was thinking of her.

Don’t let life get in the way of your intentions. I found out – too late – that there isn’t always a “tomorrow” for everyone in your life. Today may be it. Call them today. Call them now. You just never know.

Rest in peace, Shirley.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Why We Aren't Invited to Weddings Anymore

Last night, hubby and daughter and I attended a Christmas wedding.

It's been quite awhile since we've been to a Christmas wedding - I had forgotten how beautiful they are...elegant green dresses, fragrant red roses, and twinkling white lights and candlelight - all putting everyone into the holiday spirit.

The bride - a friend of mine whom I met last year on a mission trip to Jamaica. Rachel and I roomed together - and we spent many a night, laying in the Jamaican heat, listening to the goats and reggae music blaring outside our window, sharing stories of our families, her fiance, and planning her wedding. Here's a shot of us from last January:

The ceremony was short, sweet and profound...the pastor, although fresh out of the seminary, gave a moving message that hit home. The music, although simple, was fitting and beautiful.

After the ceremony, we drove a few miles to the reception - and WOW! It was like walking into a winter wonderland - I couldn't get over the decorations. And yet - while I was absorbing the elegance and beauty of my surroundings, what did my wandering eye see? Off to one side? Is that a CANDY STATION? With chocolate?? Why, yes it is - I had died and gone to heaven! Jars and jars, full of delicious, delectable delights - just waiting for the guests to pick up a gift bag in one hand and a scoop in the other and scoop away to their heart's delight. Not known for my shyness, I picked up a bag and said, "I don't mind if I do, thank you very much."

And then...just when I didn't think it could get any did. I turned away from the Candy Station and my eyes spotted the best invention ever in the history of mankind. I mean, life does not get any better than this, folks. There it was - in all it's glory....(insert trumpet fanfare here)....

A chocolate fountain. A 3-foot tall tower of oozing, melting, heavenly food-of-the-Gods chocolate, cascading down in oodles and oodles of delicious puddles, with a cornucopia of delightful & tasty fruits, cookies, breads, candies, etc just waiting to be speared and then dipped in to the fountain of heaven.

I almost needed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation - as well as an AED machine - as my breath stopped and so did my heart. Just for a moment. And then I quickly recovered and walked - in a hypnotized trance - over to the Alter of Chocolate - where I bowed in deep reverence. I sent up a whispered prayer of thanksgiving, "Thank you, Jesus. And thank you, Santa. I believe." And then I went to work.

A delightful buffet dinner, cake, dancing, toasting and conversation followed. We met someone who works for "The Jay Leno Show." Seriously. Okay - that may not sound like a big deal - but when you live in the sticks of Kansas City - in the middle of the boonies, like we do - that was a BIG DEAL! We were impressed.

And then - time for the bouquet toss. My dear daughter hasn't been to too many weddings; she asked innocently, "Why are all the girls going up there?"

I explained to her what was about to happen, and half-jokingly suggested she join the posse of girls...and so she promptly did.

What happened next defies explanation. When Rachel, the bride, tossed the bouquet - I saw a 10-year old girl make a Major-League, gravity-defying 6-foot vertical/sideways jump - snagging the bouquet in one hand, and fist-pumping with the other....It was an AMAZING catch - similar to this one: About the time I was admiring the beautiful athletic prowess I had just witnessed, I realized it was my daughter.

Part of me was proud - I mean, that jump/dive/catch would make the highlight reel of ESPN proud - and the other half was mortified. She jumped/dove/cut off about 50 women to make that catch.

Hubby and daughter and I quickly said goodbye to Rachel & the groom - and then slunk out of there - me with my bulging bag of chocolate from the Candy Station - and my daughter with her beautiful bouquet of red roses. We were both ashamedly happy. And then we wonder why we aren't invited to too many Christmas weddings.



Saturday, December 19, 2009

Snippets of Randomness

Today's Saturday - so we're doing "Saturday Snippets" - just random bits and pieces because that's how my Saturdays usually roll - random bits and pieces of activity & non-activity until before I know it, the whole day is gone.

I was feeling pretty “merry” until yesterday afternoon when my credit card bill came. Ouch. Now I’m needing some spiked eggnog to get back into that merry mood. Not to mention, our personal property & real estate taxes are due by Dec. 31. With two houses, that’s a lot of freakin’ taxes.

Yesterday's blog was about "Aunt Janice" and the day my sister was born 40 years ago. Last night, we attended a surprise Birthday party for my sis - and who should walk in but Aunt Janice. I hadn't seen her in years - that was too freakin' funny that I had just blogged about her. She still scares the hell out of me.

Two weeks from today, I leave for an 8-day mission trip to Jamaica. Am I ready? No. Who plans a mission trip a week after Christmas? I can only do so much – I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around packing for the Caribbean right now. Shorts? Shoot – I’m wearing long thermal underwear right now. I couldn’t begin to tell you where I packed my shorts during the move. I couldn't begin to tell you the last time I shaved my legs. Yeah, I know - TMI - but - I'm just sayin....I'd better get my butt in gear here soon and get ready for this mission trip.

My new house came with central vac. I got my courage up to use it the other day – and all I can say is, Wow. It’s almost better than sex. It’s that good. I may soon become addicted.

Speaking of addictions, I wish I wasn’t allergic to wine. My husband gets a box of wine every month – and the other day, he received a chocolate dessert wine. How cruel – all I can do is salivate at just the idea of it.

I have never seen so many cologne/perfume commercials in my life lately. Every other commercial is touting a fragrance – and some of them are just downright x-rated. I cover my eyes & my daughter’s eyes when they come on.

My 16-year old son is driving me nuts because of his reluctance to look for a job. I only want him to work about 10 hours a week – just so he can be a little responsible for his gas & insurance for his car. He will soon be handing me the keys back if he doesn’t get his butt in gear and get a job.

Last night, overheard from my 10-year old daughter in the back seat: “Look – “Waffle House.” I wonder what they serve there?” She said this in all seriousness. I lost it in the front seat.

Heading to a wedding tonight...a year ago, when I was in Jamaica for last year's mission trip, the bride-to-be was my roommate for the week - what a sweetheart. We spent many hours at night talking about the wedding - and here it is - finally! She's a great girl and I love her to pieces, like she's my own daughter. Should be fun. I love weddings. I love the cake. I love the food. I love the love. Okay - enough - now it's getting downright sappy. No sappy on Saturday.

That's it - random bits of nothing.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Mumps and a Baby Sister

Today – a Friday Flashback.

Next week, my baby sister will turn 40 years old. Happy early birthday, sis. I know exactly where I was 40 years ago the day she was born. I was all of 7 years old – my brother, 3 years old. And it was getting pretty close to Christmas.

Daddy woke brother and I up very, very early the morning of Dec. 22. He scooped us up, put us into the car in our jammies, and drove us up the street to Janice’s house – my mom’s best friend.

“Where’s Mommy?” I sleepily asked. “Where are we going?”

“Shhhhh – Mommy’s getting ready to go to the hospital; the baby's coming,” Daddy replied. “You’re going to spend the day with Aunt Janice.”

We arrive at Janice’s house, and shuffle off to the guest bedroom where both brother and I fall back to sleep. I had school that day – it was to be our Christmas party – and the last day of school before Christmas break. (Yes, they called it "Christmas break" back then – screw “Holiday” break. It was Christmas.)

Later, Janice got me up for school. She fried an egg and sat it down in front of me – and then the phone rang. It was Daddy with good news – we now had a new baby sister named Traci Christine. Mommy and baby were doing well.

However, I wasn’t doing well. I was having a very difficult time chewing that fried egg. My mouth wasn’t working. What the hell? I debated whether to tell Janice or not. Janice was a very vocal, fiery redhead – as a meek, mild-mannered 7-year old, she scared the hell out of me. Do I tell her? Would she yell at me? Would she beat me?

I finally resigned myself to whatever consequences this would bring, but I knew that egg wasn’t going down my throat. I tentatively said, “Uh, Aunt Janice? I’m very sorry – but my mouth’s broke. I can’t chew the egg.”

Janice took one look at me, and shrieked, “Oh. My. God! You’ve got the mumps!!!! Back to bed.”

Yes. I officially had the mumps. Which meant I missed the Christmas party & gift exchange at school. Which meant I had to stay at Aunt Janice’s for a week. And at the end of that week, my baby brother got the mumps, as well. So we stayed another week. Janice never let my parents live that down. Our “one-day” visit turned into a two-week extended stay. We couldn’t be near mom or the baby – we were in “quarantine” – whatever the hell that meant. To a 7-year old, it meant I was stuck in a terrifying woman’s house without my own clothes and without my own toys and missing my Mommy. And I couldn't play with any of my friends.

Christmas was very weird that year. We celebrated Christmas in late January –after we were all reunited. I was terrified that Santa wouldn't come in January - he was probably lounging on vacation in Florida by then - but my folks reassured me that Santa makes "late runs" - and he did. Santa came in January to our house. All was well in my world.

Yup – a Christmas to remember, 1969. The year Santa brought us a baby sister and the mumps. I’m still not sure which one was the better deal. ☺



Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sounds of the Season

Yesterday was daughter’s music program at school. The 4th, 5th, and 6th grade band and orchestra each had a “mini” concert – serenading the audience with 60 minutes of torture joy for the holiday season.

Dear Daughter just started playing the violin 3 months ago.

All I have to say, is, there is nothing quite like the sound of a 10-year old practicing on the violin each night. And the cats, too, just love the sound of the bow as it screeches glides across the strings.

Yesterday's concert had at least 3 versions of Jingle Bells. Which is what daughter's been practicing over and over without end driving us all insane at home.

Don't you just love the sounds of the holiday season?!



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Paper & Clocks & Diamonds & Chocolate

Where are my gifts, people? Where are my roses? My accolades? My tributes? Children throwing roses at my feet? Subjects bowing down when I walk by? My ticker-tape parade down Main Street?

“What???” you ask, in confusion.

“WHAT!!??” I reply, in shock. “How could you NOT know what today is???!!! Why, today should be declared a national holiday! Wait – scratch that. It should be declared an INTERNATIONAL holiday!”

My dear readers – today is – drum roll, please - the 1-year anniversary of the Drama Queen’s blog. Yes. You heard right. The 1-year anniversary of “ The Adventures of a Middle-Aged Drama Queen.”

‘Tis true. It was one year ago today – December 16, 2008 – that the Drama Queen humbly (okay – that made me laugh – the Drama Queen never does anything humbly….) began the writing journey that has seen her rant, rave, review, criticize, joke, complain, bitch, laugh, joke, praise and/or recommend every thing she has come into contact with for the past 365 days. (Whew. That was a long sentence. Excuse me for a second while I take a breath.)

The Drama Queen really didn’t know where the journey would take her when she began it a year ago – but it’s been a fun and interesting journey along the way. And we have a long way to go, folks – it ain’t over – not by a long shot.

So – take the day off. Tell your boss that the Drama Queen said it was okay. Go have a drink of champagne – and send up a toast my way. Send me paper (the traditional 1-year anniversary gift) or a clock (the “modern” anniversary gift.) Or just send me diamonds – those always work. ☺ Or chocolate. You can never go wrong in sending a Queen diamonds or chocolate.

Thanks for sharing my wonderful day with me. ☺ You may have the rest of the day off – but I expect you all to be back here tomorrow.

We’ll start Year #2 of the Adventures. Stay tuned.



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Girl Scouts Are So Blessed to Have Me

Last night, I hosted my Girl Scout troop’s Talent Show at our house. I had eight little 4th grade girls over, along with their parents and siblings – all gathered to watch our future rock stars/musicians/artists/dancers/soccer stars show off their incredible talents.

After the show, I had cookies set out (duh – we’re Girl Scouts, after all) and I invited everyone to walk through the new house and see all of the remodeling we’ve done.

A little later, I’m in the kitchen, talking with several of the parents, when suddenly, several of the little Scouts come running up to me, all breathless & excited.

“Mrs. Drama Queen! Mrs. Drama Queen! Your daughter’s hurt! She’s crying!”

I went tearing down the stairs, expecting to find my daughter’s brains or bones or blood sprawled or oozing everywhere. As a parent, don’t you hate that? That nanosecond of time between hearing about the injury and actually seeing the injury??? Your heart’s racing, your brain is racing – and worse - your imagination is racing.

I find my dear daughter crying, curled up on the floor in a fetal position, and complaining of the incredible pain... in her tooth. Yes, her tooth. She had hurt her tooth. No brains. No broken bones. No oozing blood. Just….a tooth.

Want to hear how? Sure you do. Because my dear readers know – if I’m posting it – it has to be something good. Or something incredibly funny. Or insanely weird.

So - here's what happened. My daughter was leaning over the foosball table – leaning "way, way" over the table – “to get a closer look at the ball” during an intense game between the kids.

Yeah, you see where this is going, don't you? Well, of course – another kid “spun” the little foosball men – and one of the little men smacked daughter on her tooth. It didn’t break it – or crack it – but it hit the tooth pretty hard. No cracks - no chips - just a glancing blow on the tooth.

I, being the wise and wonderful Girl Scout leader that I am, used it as a teaching moment for my little Scouts. I gathered them all up close and said, very seriously, “This, Scouts, is a good lesson – never put your face down really, really close in a foosball table...especially when a game is going on."

They all looked solemnly at me – and then glanced over at my daughter with pained looks on their faces – nodded, and said, “Yes, Mrs. Drama Queen. Now we know the consequences.”

See – always a teachable moment. That’s what separates the good Girl Scout Leaders from the GREAT Girl Scout Leaders. If there's a badge for "Safe Foosball Play" - we'd be all over it.