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Paton Manning

March 14, 2013

“Honey,” Jason called from work last week, “You will never guess who is going to be here, tonight, at the BX on a USO tour…Austin Collie!” This name might not mean anything to most football fans but in my husband’s not so humble opinion, Austin Collie is potentially “one of the greatest wide receivers in BYU football history.”

Jason is just about as committed to our college Alma Mater and their athletic institution as he is to me. It goes without saying that after thirteen years of marriage I have come to accept that I will simply have to make do with half his heart.

“He’s going to be here with a group of athletes, you know, some Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders and someone from the Red Sox, Paton Manning, an ex-American idol contestant, just a group of celebrities.”

I might not be a huge football buff but even I know that Paton Manning is pretty much the Elvis of this generation’s football world. But in my husband’s eyes the equation was simple: Paton Manning is great but he’s not a Cougar.

“Do you think I could get Austin to sign my Steve Young autographed football?” he said.

We arrived two hours early dressed to the nines in all things BYU. My girls were in full cheer costumes (complete with pom poms), the boys in their football jerseys, and my husband with blue and white stars in his eyes.

There were three or four families–about twenty people including kids–decked out in BYU gear to welcome Austin Collie. Amid a couple hundred Bronco and Red Sox fans it goes without saying that Austin was pretty much the least well known of the bunch; rumor has it he’s good friends with Mr. Manning and was probably invited at the request of The King.

After the show and two exhausting hours in line we finally started to move. That’s when the bad news came, “No autographs! No pictures! No speaking to the celebrities!” The look on my husband’s face was pure devastation.

“What?” he said, “We’ve waited all this time and I’m not even going to get an autograph?”

Now, I like my man to be happy. He constantly goes out of his way to spoil me, the least I could do was wrangle an autograph for him.

As we finally made our way to the top of the stairs we could see the ten celebrities sitting in a row in front of a back drop with Manning smack dab in the middle and Austin sitting just to his right. The fans were herded behind them in groups of 10-15 for a quick snapshot then immediately moved off for the next set. Super impersonal.

“Here,” I said to Jason as our turn grew near, “Get your marker and your football out and just…trust me.” In the shadow of the Paton Manning fans it was easy to see that we were probably the only ones who cared about Austin Collie. Chances were he’d appreciate our efforts.

Finally the moment arrived and we made our way along the back of the celebrity line. I leaned in past Mr. Manning and put a hand on Collie’s shoulder. “Austin! We are so excited to see you! You’ve got BYU fans here!”

His smile was huge. “Awesome! Thanks so much you guys!”

Despite the aggressive barks from the USO chaperones I moved in for the kill. “Excuse me,” I said leaning in past Paton Manning, “Austin, would you please sign our Steve Young football? Just really fast? My husband is a huge fan!” Jason was standing behind me with watery eyes and a slack jaw. In hindsight I probably could have pulled the “emotionally delayed” card.

“Sure!” Mr. Collie said. I took the football from my shaking husband and passed it through. Then I noticed Paton Manning giving me the stink eye.

“Oh!” I said to Mr. Manning when I realized how odd our request must have looked, “Hi! Um…you’re here too!”

I guess my blood runs blue after all.

Remember that time I dissed Paton Manning?

March 13, 2013

“Honey,” Jason called from work last week, “You will never guess who is going to be here, tonight, at the BX on a USO tour…Austin Collie!” This name might not mean anything to most football fans but in my husband’s not so humble opinion, Austin Collie is potentially “one of the greatest wide receivers in BYU football history.”

Jason is just about as committed to our college Alma Mater and their athletic institution as he is to me. It goes without saying that after thirteen years of marriage I have come to accept that I will simply have to make do with half his heart.

“He’s going to be here with a group of athletes, you know, some Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders and someone from the Red Sox, Paton Manning, an ex-American idol contestant, just a group of celebrities.”

I might not be a huge football buff but even I know that Paton Manning is pretty much the Elvis of this generation’s football world. But in my husband’s eyes the equation was simple: Paton Manning is great but he’s not a Cougar.

“Do you think I could get Austin to sign my Steve Young autographed football?” he said.

We arrived two hours early dressed to the nines in all things BYU. My girls were in full cheer costumes (complete with pom poms), the boys in their football jerseys, and my husband with blue and white stars in his eyes.

There were three or four families–about twenty people including kids–decked out in BYU gear to welcome Austin Collie. Amid a couple hundred Bronco and Red Sox fans it goes without saying that Austin was pretty much the least well known of the bunch; rumor has it he’s good friends with Mr. Manning and was probably invited at the request of The King.

After the show and two exhausting hours in line we finally started to move. That’s when the bad news came, “No autographs! No pictures! No speaking to the celebrities!” The look on my husband’s face was devastation.

“What?” he said, “We’ve waited all this time and I’m not even going to get an autograph?”

Now, I like my man to be happy. He constantly goes out of his way to spoil me, the least I could do was wrangle an autograph for him.

As we finally made our way to the top of the stairs we could see the ten celebrities sitting in a row in front of a back drop with Manning smack dab in the middle and Austin sitting just to his right. The fans were herded behind them in groups of 10-15 for a quick snapshot then immediately moved off for the next set. Super impersonal.

“Here,” I said to Jason as our turn grew near, “Get your marker and your football out and just…trust me.” In the shadow of the Paton Manning fans it was easy to see that we were probably the only ones who cared about Austin Collie. Chances were he’d appreciate our efforts.

Finally the moment arrived and we made our way along the back of the celebrity line. I leaned in past Mr. Manning and put a hand on Collie’s shoulder. “Austin! We are so excited to see you! You’ve got BYU fans here!”

His smile was huge. “Awesome! Thanks so much you guys!”

Despite the aggressive barks from the USO chaperones I moved in for the kill. “Excuse me,” I said leaning in past Paton Manning, “Austin, would you please sign our Steve Young football? Just really fast? My husband is a huge fan!” Jason was standing behind me with watery eyes and a slack jaw. In hindsight I probably could have pulled the “emotionally delayed” card.

“Sure!” Mr. Collie said. I took the football from my shaking husband and passed it through. Then I noticed Paton Manning giving me the stink eye.

“Oh!” I said to Mr. Manning when I realized how odd our request must have looked, “Hi! Um…you’re here too!”

I guess my blood runs blue after all.

lost

March 17, 2011

I swear this is the last you’ll hear about Disneyland, but I had to save it for my column. Enjoy the anxiety.

“Is there anything worse, as a mother, than the realization that you did not prepare your child?

Our trip to Southern California a few weeks ago was loaded. I’d say it was fantastic, but I’ve got four children under the age of seven, and frankly, it was seven nap-free days of torture.

By day four we had mostly perfected our security watch. When you’re walking through a crowded amusement park with four small children who like to follow random flashing lights and pigeons, you need seventeen extra eyes to keep everyone under surveillance.

“Okay,” I said to my husband, “I’m going to get a corn dog for the six of us to share. I’ll take Junie and Georgia, and meet you back by the Tiki Room in ten minutes, and we can finish the day up with one more trip on The Jungle Ride.”

The little girls and I wound through the crowd to the much anticipated corn dog stand, loaded up (and bought an extra chocolate chip cookie just to be rebellious), and slowly made our way to the designated meeting place.

As I walked up to my husband ten minutes later, I could see by the look on his face that something was amiss in the Magic Kingdom.

“Honey,” he said, “Is Harrison with you?”

“Of course not,” I replied as my heart started to slam around in my chest.

“I hate to tell you this, and don’t freak out, but I think–”

“We’ve lost him.”

There comes a moment in every mother’s life when she realizes that as tough as this job is, she really wouldn’t sell any of her children to gypsies, given the chance. This was one of those moments.

I immediately headed straight to the nearest employee for help. It had been over ten minutes; my husband thought Harrison had followed June and me, and I had left my cell phone in the stroller so he couldn’t call and confirm.

Twelve minutes.

It’s funny, because we’d had a number of serious discussions with our children on this trip about strangers, and staying by Dad and Mom so the bad guys didn’t stuff them in bags and take them away forever. Yes, our children are now terrified of people who carry gunny sacks around.

But as I reported my missing boy–seven-years-old, blond hair, green t-shirt, smart, thoughtful, loves hugs and motorcycles and Shamu and oh my gosh, where is my baby–I realized that we hadn’t talked about what to do if someone got lost. How could we forget the if? Why did we think that the two of us could possibly keep them all safe?

Fifteen minutes.

I know that children who are lost at Disneyland are always found. I know that the park is full of responsible adults who know just what to do with a little boy who followed the wrong pair of Levi’s. But when the clock hit fifteen minutes, I began to think that maybe, for the first time, the system was going to let some poor mother down. That mother was going to be me.

And then the phone rang.

My strong, smart boy, had made his way to The Jungle Ride, where he thought we were headed. He waited, and as his panic grew, he started to cry. Some other wonderful mother found him and gave him her cell phone. That was when he called me.

All those little trips in the car when we sang the phone number song, just in case someone ever needed to call Mom or Dad, finally paid off. We might have forgotten to have the, “Let’s meet at the flagpole,” conversation, but somewhere along the line, I gave him what he needed to find his way back.

We can’t prepare our children for every possible dilemma, and that’s a scary thought. But at the same time, we’ll never know how many catastrophes they’ll avoid, or how many life altering mishaps will never come to pass because, as parents, we took the time to give them our best.

Sometimes that’s all we can do.”

mommy revenge

March 14, 2011

So when we were at Disneyland, we had the chance to grab a photo op with Chip and Dale. As we turned to leave, Rex shouted out, “By Chicken! By Dale!” Get it? They thought it was hilarious.

Last week I was wiping June after a #2 and praising her for her toilet talent. “Sweetheart, I love that you poo poo on the potty,” I said.

She smiled, “And my poo poo loves you, Mommy.”

Lastly, I try to keep stashes of candy around this place for good behavior rewards. I also keep sugar-free candy for myself so I don’t catch low carb insanity. But no matter how hard I try to hide it, someone always finds it.

That someone is three and female and has a radar for chocolate like nothing you’ve ever seen.

So you will understand why, as I was cleaning behind the recliner yesterday, I happened upon something that made my entire week. It was a large chicken bouillon cube, unwrapped, with a big bite taken out of it.

I just might have cackled like the wicked witch of the west. That’s what you get for getting into my candy, my pretty.

Baby makes three, and that’s not usually the best number

March 11, 2011

We’re coming up on twelve years of marriage, and I’ve been popping out kids for the last eight of them. It won’t be hard to convince you that this kind of recreation (not that kind) puts a serious strain on Dr. Love.

The reality of our situation is simple. Yes, we do regular date nights. Of course, they’re always timed because The Budget doesn’t allot for more than two hours of babysitting, and our little GG always accompanies us because nothing tastes quite like Mama, and Mama suffers from a closet case of separation anxiety.

So when Jason asks me when or if I’m planning to wean the baby so we can “take that trip” before the big move, I get a panic attack. Wean the baby? My last baby? My best nurser, who loves me more than anyone else in the entire world? Leave her for four days with a stranger???

I love him. He’s the king, my best friend who spoils me, and helps out around the house better than a Disneyland employee. Of course I want to run away forever and enjoy days and days of QNT.

But the baby. My baby. Did I mention that she snuggles and hugs me tight all the time? Did I mention that she’s only six months old, and that even when she’s ten months old it’s probably going to be too soon?

I know our window here is closing fast. In four and a half months we’ll be jumping the pond and leaving our support system behind–support that the children know and love and are related to. I feel horribly torn. It’s not even that I need the getaway from the kids right now, it’s that I need the reconnect time with my man.

But I can’t seem to wrench this mommy cap off my head long enough to shake out my hair and have a little fun.

There really is no happy answer. We can’t take her with us, it would defeat the purpose. I don’t know. Ask me in three months.

vacation money, or the lack thereof

March 10, 2011

Here’s this week’s column. I’m guess we’ve all been here at one time or another.

“I have one more thing to say about last week’s “vacation”. Other words to describe those eternal seven days of my life might include “mobile prison” and “meltdown time bomb”. We will never, ever, take a toddler to Disneyland ever again.

But the thing that really made my week irritating was the money issue. Some of you might remember that a few years back Mr. Frugal and I converted to the Dave Ramsey way of thinking. It’s a financial debt reduction program that brings peace and happiness to your credit score. It’s been a few years, and the pinch has really paid off. We are now responsible, mostly debt-free adults who know how to be money healthy.

We’re also no fun anymore.

See, Dave’s financial debt reduction method includes mantras like, “Never have fun if it involves money”, and “Hi, I’m Annie’s husband. You might know Scrooge, my generous older brother.” My husband is now very good with money. Darn it.

Here’s the thing about a vacation to Disneyland. You save and save and save for the tickets, and you think it’s going to be the best reward in the world . And yes, getting into the park is a treat. Standing in line for Peter Pan is a treat. Doing the Buzz Lightyear ride seven times in a row is a treat.

But frankly, that just doesn’t cut it. We have four small children who do things like, oh, I don’t know, eat.

Our big problem this vacation was colossal miscommunication. I thought we were buying our food in the park, and he thought we’d live on one meal a day, supplemented by following the mouse around and nibbling on his leftover churro crumbs. We were there from open to close, with one meal to hold us over. Seriously.

Have you ever seen what happens to four children when they’re tired and hungry? Even worse, have you seen what happens to their mother? I don’t know about you, but splitting an ice cream six ways is no fun.

Day two, I got a little smarter and stopped ahead of time to get cheese and crackers and strawberries. And while this was a good idea, I couldn’t help feeling irritated that there wasn’t a single penny alloted for Park Fun. We didn’t even let our kids get within ten feet of the souvenir shop doors. It was smart, but they were sad. I was sad.

My poor husband, really the man had the best intentions. Unfortunately for both of us, we didn’t talk about this elephant until the last day of our vacation. I was really fed up and really underfed by that point, so I kind of growled all over him. Of course, it was all too late to rectify the issue, so we kissed and made up.

And next time, we will budget accordingly. It will include sufficient money for food.”

just don’t tell

March 9, 2011

Well, now that this karate saga is finally closed, I am happy to report that Rex has started in a new class called Motion Evolution at the Bravo! academy here in Layton. It’s climbing and tumbling and fun, and the goal is to help children build self-esteem through movement. It’s like the class was specifically designed with Rex in mind.

When I started him in the class two weeks ago, I made a quick decision to NOT tell his teacher about his anxiety. In hindsight, I think talking to the Sensei about him ahead of time made her a little prejudiced towards him. Prejudiced might not be the right word. Maybe it just tainted the water, you know?

So this time when I introduced him to his teacher, I decided at the last minute to let him have a go and see how he did before burdening her with that kind of information. What’s the worst that could happen, he wigged out and I had to ‘splain myself?

I don’t know if it was the weather or the teacher or what, but the kid totally rocked his new class. He listened, he waited his turn, and he absolutely loved it. There’s no doubt that karate is too rigid for him right now, and seeing him in an environment where the teacher encourages them to have a great time has brought me so much peace.

I guess what I’m saying here is that there’s nothing wrong with switching gears. Sure, we don’t want our children to feel like a failure by pulling them out of something, but we also don’t want them stuck in a program that doesn’t feel right.

In the future, we’re starting every  new venture with a two month reevaluation date for our kids. We’re telling them right from go, at eight weeks, if it isn’t a good fit, we’ll try something else.

And I don’t think I’ll mention Rex’s problems until they need to be talked about. He’s doing better every day, and I don’t want him to think that this is something he can’t overcome on his own with practice and maturity. I think the best thing I can do for him right now is have confidence in him. That’s exactly what I’m going to do.