Tag Archives: Florida

5 Things I Remembered About My Husband

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1. He Has Shpilkes.
What? You don’t know Yiddish? Don’t worry; I’ll help you. The dictionary defines “shpilkes” as sitting on pins and needles. Well, that doesn’t really capture it, does it? When you say someone “has shpilkes,” it implies that person has a nervous energy, an impatience. Simply put: Hubby can’t sit still.

While I slept late on morning two of our vacation, Hubby got up and rented a truck. His goal? Transport two humongous palm trees to The Happy House. But that’s not all. He dug two huge holes, added soil, and rolled the huge trees into our backyard.

Then he mulched and watered.

Then he golfed 36-holes.

Thirty-six.

After that, he bought a mountain bike and went zipping through unfamiliar terrain. When he came home – in the dark — he showed me his ripped up his legs.

“The trails are awesome!” he gushed. “But I should probably get a helmet. And a headlamp.”

During vacation, Hubby burned 8,673,412 calories.

I burned 17.

2. He’s Losing His Hearing.
Apparently, I’ve started speaking at a decibel that only dogs can appreciate.

3. He Snores.
At home, I’ve got ear-plugs. But I forgot to bring them to The Happy House. Let’s just say, that’s been rectified. They’re there now.

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Thank goodness for these!

4. He Relaxes. Eventually.
It takes my man a bit of time to switch from work mode to relaxation mode. On our last day, after he’d watered his new trees, unplugged all the electronics, turned down the hot water heater, and adjusted the air conditioner to AUTO, he gathered up all our garbage and drove it to some gas station where he filled up the gas tank of our rental car.

When he got back, Hubby brought his breakfast outdoors to the lanai. Putting his feet up on a wicker table, he shoveled spoonfuls of granola and yogurt into his mouth.

“Look at those palm trees,” he said, admiring his handiwork. “Now it looks tropical down here.”

{you know, as opposed to before, when we could only admire the stand of palm trees on the far side of the man-made pond.}

“Did you have a good time?” Hubby asked.

I nodded.

Because how could we not have a good time? The Happy House was made possible by my husband’s hard work. Hubby is a worker bee and, truth be told, he’s happiest when he’s busy. He works hard, so he sleeps hard. He thinks the beach is boring. Plus, he’s practically an albino, so even SPF 1000 doesn’t quite do the job. And nobody likes a sunburn.

But you know what?

5. He’s that guy.
After all these years, he still carries my suitcase to the car. He holds my boarding pass and watches my bag when I have to pee. He’ll buy the curtain rod, and then return it because his crazy wife decided it wasn’t right, and then he’ll go back and buy it again because his crazy wife screwed up and, yes, that first curtain rod was right after all.

When she was pining to leave Oz and return to Kansas, Dorothy Gale closed her eyes and said: “There’s no place like home.”

How many people are lucky enough to have two places that hold their heart?

And how many girls are lucky enough to know home is wherever we are, as long as I’ve got my ear plugs we’re together?

What little things drive you bonkers about your partner? What things do you love the most?

tweet me @rasjacobson

Happy anniversary, Hubby. Eighteen years. You knows I loves you. Do you think we can get stock in ear plugs? Is that a thing? If so, maybe we should look into that.

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Incident on a Plane

At the end of the flight, two boys sitting one row apart stood up and discovered each other. Neither of them could have been more than 7-years-old. One little guy held a Buzz Lightyear action figure; the other gripped a pile of Pokémon cards in his hands. While waiting for people on the plane to file out, they boys introduced themselves and chattered about their love for Minecraft and Legos.

“We have lots in common!” Jesse announced.

For a few minutes, the boys lived without fear of loving or not being loved. Neither was afraid of being rejected. They stood with their hearts open, unafraid of being hurt. And they were actually doing a pretty good job of it.

“Also, we both have something wrong with us.” Mason pointed to his mouth. Anyone could see the brackets and rubber bands on his tiny teeth. “I have braces, and you have those things on your ears.”

Jesse’s mother pressed her son against her hip. “Are you talking about Jesse’s Super Special Auditory Amplification System?” she asked. I could practically hear her inner monologue. Stay calm. He’s just a child. He’s not trying to be cruel.

hearing-aids-heart“No,” Mason shook his head. “I’m talking about his hearing aids.

The plane was emptying quickly and Jesse’s mother asked her son to take one last look around to make sure he had all his belongings. As Jesse bent down, she leaned in to say something.

“Work with me here, Mason,” she whispered. “One day, your teeth will be straight. This hearing loss thing is forever.”

Jesse popped up like a meerkat. He handed his mother some candy wrappers, which she pushed into her pocket. Grabbing her suitcase from out of the overhead bin, she guided her son out of the row so he could walk down the narrow aisle in front of her.

“Jesse!” Mason waved his plastic Buzz Lightyear in the air. “Bye Jesse!” But the boy with the Pokémon cards didn’t turn around, and Mason looked wounded.

“You shouldn’t have mentioned his hearing aids!” Mason’s mother scolded. Throwing her purse over her shoulder, she pulled her son out the door.

The boys didn’t mean to hurt each other.

They didn’t.

But mothers love.

And a mother’s love, which sometimes seems weak can also make us fierce. We want the world to appreciate our most precious people the way we do.

But isn’t this life? And don’t we, adults, sometimes find ourselves in these kinds of situations? Sometimes we make the wrong assumptions. We may inadvertently touch a tender place near someone’s heart. We may injure someone and never understand what it is that we did to hurt them. Or we may feel injured or rejected ourselves.

In airports, people carry suitcases and backpacks, but people lug around invisible baggage, too.

With friends, we like to think we have an inkling, but this is not always the case. Sometimes the feelings in our friend’s hearts are as far away as a distant galaxy or an exotic sounding destinations, like Kamakura or Fuzhou.

If only we could all activate our own Super Special Auditory Amplification Systems and really hear what’s going on inside each other’s heads. If only we weren’t so quick to believe the worst about each other.

Ever had an interaction with a stranger that wasn’t well received? How about a positive one? Do you talk to strangers on planes?

tweet me @rasjacobson

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Thank Goodness For Spraypaint

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I’m not known for having the most incredible sense of style.

Y’all know I live in a sleeping bag coat for most of the year.

When we bought The Happy House and the task of decorating a second home fell to me, I kind of vomited in my mouth a little.

Luckily, our place in Florida is situated near two HomeGoods Stores.

{If you’re scratching your head going, What is HomeGoods?, it’s like Marshall’s with a delicious TJ Maxx filling.}

After we bought mattresses and basic bedding, we decided to tackle the foyer.

Because, you know, that’s the first thing people see when they walk in your house.

And we all know first impressions stick!

Anyway, I was adamant that The Happy House needed to be filled with joy, which for me means lots of bright colors and lots of whimsy.

One day while shopping, my friend Jan pointed at this awful table.

“That’s a cute table,” she said.

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Kinda drab, right?

I looked at it, nonplussed.

Because it was gray.

Where was my color? Where was my whimsy?

But it was made well enough, and it was cheap the price was right.

So we jammed that sad, gray table into my rental car.

I figured it could always be returned.

That afternoon, Hubby bought a couple cans of spray paint.

Everyone knows a fresh coat of paint can transform a room.

Why not a drab piece of furniture, right?

Duh.

Thirty minutes later, Hubby killed the can of spray paint.

And I was dancing in the middle of the road.

(Sorry, new neighbors.)

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But that table?

Totally awesome sauce.

Inspired, I forced Hubby to take me to Sarasota Architectural Salvage: nine jazillion square feet of crap treasures like old lobster traps and wooden oars, brass ship lamps and carved wooden mermaids, concrete urns and gargoyles. I could go on. The place is huge. We picked up a couple of knick-knacks, and voila.

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Our foyer is on its way.

Now, if only we had some window treatments so the gators out back don’t see us walking around naked.

What Do-It-Yourself Project have you done where you got it right?

tweet me @rasjacobson

When Vacation Lowlights Become Highlights

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The other night, I asked my son to tell me his favorite memory from our recent vacation in The Happy House. It was a good one. We swam in the pool and the ocean. We visited with neighbors and spent a day at Magic Kingdom. We planted palm trees and went bike riding. We even had a dinner party where guests came over to watch Syracuse University get crushed by the Wolverines in The Final Four.

“Sitting in my rocking chair and eating pie,” my son said.

Seriously. That was the highlight?

But then I remembered.

When my brother and I were young, we went on a family vacation to Florida with our parents. For weeks, they told us we were going to have the best vacation – ever.

After a long flight and what felt like an even longer drive, we made it to our hotel It was nighttime, and we were all exhausted, so my father left us in the car and went to check in at the front desk. After a while, he returned with a map, a compass, a walkie-talkie and a survival guide.

Not really, but it would have been nice if he’d had that stuff.

Because we walked in circles forever, trying to find The Nepa Hut.

Apparently, the clerk had given my father explicit instructions. We were supposed to walk down a path to where the crushed shells ended, take a left, then a right, being careful not to fall off the pier into the ocean. Eventually, we’d see a gecko sitting on a rock. Or something. I don’t really know.

What the guy at the front desk should have given us was a flashlight.

It was so freaking dark, we couldn’t find our damn room.

Dragging our bags behind us, we wandered back to the lighted lobby where my father confessed we were lost.

My mother must have caused a fuss because we ended up with a guide.

Once in the room, we started to unpack. Someone went to the bathroom.

I heard the flush.

And then I heard my father. “Oh no! he begged. “Omigosh! No!”

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Click for photo credit

You guessed it. The crapper was overflowing. Water poured over the lip of the toilet, spilling onto the floor until the tiles were soaked.

Though my mother threw towels onto the tile floor, the icky water would not stop, and the carpet outside the bathroom door was soon drenched.

While my father dialed housekeeping, my mother chastised him for using too much toilet paper.

My brother and I couldn’t stop laughing. The poopie geyser in the bathroom? That was the best.

He and I danced around the ever-widening wet-spot as our father warned us to keep away from the bathroom door.

It’s one of my favorite vacation memories.

Memories are weird. If I think about it, I suppose it isn’t so much that I love the fact that our toilet overflowed. It’s more that my parents had set this expectation that our vacation was going to be totally awesome, and even when things didn’t go to plan, we found a way to make the most of it. I love the memory of all of us being together, flailing around, figuring things out, being perfectly imperfect with each other.

I suppose if my son forever remembers kicking back in a rocking chair eating a slice of raspberry pie, well, as the kids say, that’s the shit.

What is one of your weird vacation memories? What about memories involving toilets?

tweet me @rasjacobson

challenge106I’m linking up with Yeah Write, a wonderful community of supportive and talented writers. If you’d like to click on the badge, you will be magically transported there. You might even consider submitting your own piece — under 600 words.

 

When Your Kid Is Smarter Than You Are

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Many summers ago, our family went to a local art festival, and while I visited another booth, my son found a turquoise and green glass pendant and, though he only had eight dollars in his pocket, he convinced the vendor to sell it to him.

We coined the piece of jewelry my “compliment necklace” because every time I wore it, I received kind words from strangers who gushed over the glass that glowed in the sun.

I loved my necklace like nobody’s business, and I wore it every day.

Recently, while we were vacationing in Florida, the glass pendant slipped off its silver chain and smashed on the bathroom tile.

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“NoooOooooo!” I wailed, falling to my knees. “NoOoo! No! NoooOooo!”

Carrying the jagged shards in my open palm, I showed the pieces to my son who happened to be sitting in his brand new rocking chair, reading a book, and eating a slice of pie.

Standing, my boy put one hand on my shoulder. He’s taller than I am now, so he looked down at me a little. Stepping aside, he pointed to his new rocker, not 24-hours old.

“Come. Sit down. Have a little pie. You’ll feel better.” He offered me his plate.

I shook my head. Because I didn’t want any pie.

I wanted my glass pendant back.

“You bought it for me when you were 7,” I complained. “Every time I wore it, I thought of you.”

My son settled back down in his rocking chair. “If we didn’t lose people and things we love, we wouldn’t know how important they are to us.” My son shoveled some pie into his mouth and pointed to his chest. “Anyway, you don’t need a necklace to think of me. I’m right here.”

At home, TechSupport doesn’t let me tuck him into bed anymore. But, the night my pendant smashed, my son let me cuddle with him for a few minutes. As I stroked his spiky crew cut, I saw a silver thread in his hair.

I tried to pick it out, but it was attached.

Turns out, my 13-year-old has a gray hair.

My husband and I have said our son is an old soul. To us, he’s always possessed the understanding, empathy, and kindness of someone with more life experience.

As a youngster he always shared his toys. He was comfortable with rules, and sometimes, as I explained things to him, he eyed me suspiciously, as if to say: Of course we don’t write on walls, or touch hot pots on the stove, or stick fingers in electrical sockets. Of course, we don’t bite our friends. Or push them. Duh.

Over the years, I’ve complained when he’s been overlooked for awards. It kills me each Friday when his middle school publishes its list of “Great Kids of the Week,” and his name never makes the list. Meanwhile, he doesn’t care. He tells me he doesn’t need his name announced over the loudspeaker or his picture posted in the hallway. He knows about his good deeds, and that’s enough. A stellar student, he doesn’t like me to mention his grades. When he was bullied in elementary school, he refused to retaliate. Even when his father and I gave him permission to kick the bastard who was bugging him in his cahones, our son told us he believed in nonviolence. Like Gandhi. How did he even know about Gandhi in 5th grade? Though middle school can be an unhappy time as teens jockey for popularity, Tech has maintained a core group of smart, kind people who are loyal to each other.

Our son has never been interested in material things.

He has simple requests.

A bed.

A book.

A rocking chair.

A slice of pie.

That one single silver strand of hair on his head confirmed it for me: proof positive that my kid is an old soul — unusually understanding, wise and empathetic beyond his years.

Don’t get me wrong: he’s a teenager, too. He eats constantly, hates putting away his laundry, and making his bed. He laughs at dumb YouTube videos and would play Minecraft all day, if we let him.

But he knows how to talk me down when ants are crawling across the kitchen floor. Or tonight, while I held my stomach as I listened to the news, crammed with voices, the President talking about justice and violence and terror — again.

This is the world I brought you into, my son. A world where things are always breaking. And nothing is solid.

But he has the right words. Reminds me that most people are good people. That G-d hears prayers and love transcends zip codes and time zones.

“Kinda makes you realize your necklace wasn’t such a big deal,” he said.

What will I ever do without him?

Have you ever lost a sentimental something? Do you put on a strong front for your children? Or do you let them see you cry?

tweet me @rasjacobson

What Made the Happy House Happy?

You left such positive comments about my recent post regarding our second home, I felt I needed to let you in on a little secret.

You know how I told you my husband fell in love with a sandy lot?

It’s true. The lot was nothing but sand when he first saw it.

But he also saw this:

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Now you see why we call it “The Happy House”!

Talk about *erecting* a house.

What other construction related double-entendres can you think of?

Wow, I’m really *opening myself up* for this one.

If it helps, imagine you are building a home in Florida.

Speaking of which, I wonder if it is *warm and wet down there*.

tweet me @rasjacobson

NOTE: This was my 469th post. You can’t make this stuff up.

 

When Your Teacher Goes Off Topic: #LessonLearned by Dawn Sticklen

Click on the teacher lady's butt to see other posts in this series!

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Dawn Sticklen writes a blog called Since You Asked… in which she explores… well… everything. This April she did the A-Z Challenge along with a lot of other bloggers who pushed themselves to post every day with a significant word or concept that corresponded with the assigned letter of the day. I don’t think Dawn has missed a single one. And they are at Y! (Why? Because we like you!)

Dawn started her blog to write about adoption and parenting, but these days she writes about everything under the sun — which is really refreshing because you never know what you might find at Dawn’s place.

Tweet with Dawn, and you’ll see she exudes a positivity which is infectious. But not like herpes!

Folks can Find Dawn on Facebook and follow her on Twitter at @JoMoBlogger.

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Ode to Sweet Jimmy

Mr. Padgett was my high school math teacher. While “Sweet Jimmy” had a disposition that was anything but, he nonetheless managed to endear himself to his students. (Well, some of us.) With arms covered in tattoos commemorating his service in the navy, Mr. Padgett’s imposing presence intimidated the typical mild-mannered high school student. In his booming voice he frequently offered his opinion about matters such as the low rate of pay afforded teachers in our district: “I am the ONLY certified mathematician employed by Nassau County and yet I receive no extra compensation for my credentials. Thus, I am compelled to teach night classes at the community college,”; or the district’s refusal to participate in the one Federal holiday deemed worthy of recognition by the ex-fighter pilot: “Once again it is Veterans Day and Nassau County is the ONLY school district in the entire state of Florida that does not feel it is important to show honor to our war veterans by giving us the day off.” This last declaration was always followed by a vivid depiction of how, while serving in Viet Nam, Sweet Jimmy’s plane was shot down and he was in a total body cast for the remainder of the war (or something like that).

Dawn's "Sweet Jimmy"

Mr. Padgett had quaint little phrases that he wrote on the board each year to help us better understand the material he was covering. Statements such as, “Pi R Squared Cornbread R Round,” helped us to remember basic formulas in geometry while, “O I C, I C Y, and I C 2,” reminded us that eventually the light will indeed come on during a lesson and we WILL understand the concepts presented to us (or else we would fail and end up in Mr. Roberts’ less challenging, albeit more practical, math class).

Mr. Padgett took time to teach us about the finer points in life, since Nassau County also refused to present solutions for the real issues teens in the 1980’s faced (you know, those unique dilemmas only those of us who graduated in 1984 dealt with – namely, sex, drugs, and rock and roll – but mostly sex). We never knew if a morning’s math lesson would also include a reality check about birth control (“You do, of course, realize that the pill must be taken more than just either before or after you have sex in order for it to work?”) or sexually transmitted diseases (“Herpes is forever; true love is not. Always use a condom.”)

One of the most memorable math lessons, though, was the day that Mr. Padgett instructed us to take our seats and prepare to pay close attention to a film he thought would prove enlightening to us. He proceeded to turn off the lights and cue the projector for a film hosted by none other than Ann Landers. For 50 minutes we listened as Ann interviewed couples infected with either herpes or gonorrhea. “What about…herpes?” became our class mantra as we tried to figure out what possessed those couples to agree to be interviewed on camera about such humiliating afflictions. (Remember, this was in the days before reality TV.)

Mr. Padgett taught us much more than just mathematics. He taught us about life, and somehow managed to teach me, personally, to respect myself enough to always put forth my best effort – no matter what the task before me.

Sadly, Sweet Jimmy died a few years after I graduated from high school. However, his legacy lives on not only as a great math teacher, but as one who helped prepare students for life in general. His impact on students’ lives has survived long after his own mortality – and how many teachers can say that?

What is the weirdest thing you ever learned in a class that had absolutely nothing to do with the course subject matter?

Tweet this Twit @rasjacobson

Teens Leavin’ On a Jet Plane

photo from Rob! @ flickr.com

In 1985, when I was a senior in high school, my parents allowed me to go on Spring Break to Ft. Lauderdale with my four closest friends. We flew on (the now defunct) People’s Express for $39 each way. (I know this because I still have the ticket stubs in my old scrapbook.) We stayed in an almost completely unfurnished condo, some of us sleeping two to a bed; we shopped and prepared an amazing spaghetti dinner which we cooked for ourselves (careful to put placemats on the floor so as not to get sauce on the new carpet). Now, we were “good girls,” so we didn’t get into too much trouble — but we did do some things that I am kinda sure our parents would have deemed questionable. (I will not post the evidence here.) I will simply ask:

If your 18-year old child asked if he/she could go and spend a week somewhere with friends — without any adult supervision, what would your answer be?