Christmas Came Early This Year

I was at another cross country meet early Saturday morning when my phone rang. It was my uncle asking what I was doing and what time I’d be home.

“That was weird,” I said to Dave after hanging up. “My Uncle John said he’s coming over this afternoon to bring us something.”

“What do you think it is?” he asked. My uncle lives about an hour away from us, so it had to be something that he really wanted to get rid of. Especially since we are going to his house for Thanksgiving in less than two weeks. (Ohmygod how is it possible that Thanksgiving is in less than two weeks?!)

“I have no idea. I hope it’s a car,” I joked. “Or maybe he won Lotto and is splitting up the money.”

“I don’t think it’s either of those things,” Dave said bringing me quickly back to reality and popping the Italian-villa-vacation, new-car, new-floors, new-windows Lotto-dream thought bubble that was forming inside my head.

“Are you sure?” I joked again. I really had no idea what my uncle could be bringing us. Maybe some old Coke bottles he found at a yard sale for Chandler’s collection. Or perhaps he and my aunt got a new bed and were bringing us their old mattress. He always joked that he was going to give me a lump of coal for Christmas. Maybe it was a really big lump. I was certainly intrigued.

I called Marley to tell her to please vacuum the den and make sure the bathroom was at the very least not gross. We clean our house on Sundays so by Monday morning Saturday it’s full red alert FEMA disaster status. People dropping in on a Saturday (without giving me at least 24 hours notice) and seeing my dog-haired, dusty, two-teenagers-live-here-and-I-work-full-time mess of a house is enough to make me break out in hives.

When my uncle got to the house he had me look in the back of his truck. I could not believe my eyes. It was not a mattress or old Coke bottles or even a really big lump of coal. It was unbelievable. It was a box for a 60 inch flat screen smart TV.

“You got us a TV?! Where did you get this? Did it fall off a truck?”

He laughed. “This is the box for my new TV,” he said. “I read on your blog that you still have a box TV so I thought you might like my old one. It’s a few years old, but it’s a 50 inch flat screen.”

Uh, yeah. I was at his house about a month ago watching football on his “old TV.” Let’s just say that it’s more than just a little bit better than watching football on the twenty-year old twenty-six inch box we have sitting inside our antiquated TV cabinet.

He and Dave carried in the TV, we did a bit of furniture rearranging (and behind the furniture ohmygod-I-can’t-believe-how-much-dog-hair-there-is-back-here vacuuming) and set up the TV that brings the Ross family into the 21st century. Mostly.

We are a bit tech un-savvy (I know, shocker!) and had a little trouble getting the TV to display a picture (which it turns out is kind of important), but I figured out the problem shortly after my uncle had to go. (Hint: it helps to attach the cable box to the cable cord coming out of your wall as well as to the TV.)

I can’t tell you how blown away Dave, Chandler, Marley and I are at my uncle’s generosity. (Even though it’s painfully obvious he was just trying to find a clever way to be mentioned in my blog.)

Dave was in heaven watching the final NASCAR race of the season. Football is a lot more exciting to watch on our new flat screen. The Walking Dead is a lot gorier. According to Dave and Chandler we never need to go to the movie theater again. I think having a houseful of teenagers for a movie/video game night is in our near future. We might even host a Superbowl party next year.

Thank you Uncle John. I love you.

And to anyone reading this who’d like to be mentioned in my blog -and who wouldn’t?!- have I mentioned we drive a 2000 Honda Civic and a 2003 Mercury Mountaineer? (I’m just sayin’….)

Applying for School

My friend’s son is applying to a private middle school. I’m in the process of high-school-junior-year-searching-for-college-stress, so I really do feel her pain. Of course her search is much easier. In the first place, it’s middle school. And she’s not even searching – her older son goes to the high school. I’m pretty sure her soon-to-be sixth grader is locked in – you know, legacy status and all.

But still, there are some steps they have to go through. Formalities. They have to fill out an application. There might be an interview involved. And her son has to write an essay.



Oh the dreaded application essay. I’ve been hyperventilating over contemplating the college essay prompts from the Common Application that Chandler has to choose from. All I can say is that I’m glad I’m not applying to college. Those prompts are hard.

For example, here’s one I’ll take a stab at:

  • Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure.  How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

I experience failure all the time. You see, I’ve written a book. I think it’s awesome. My mom and all my friends tell me its awesome too. (Except for the part when my mom told me my protagonist was a bit whiny. Or maybe that was one of my friends. Whatever.) I’ve submitted it to several agents and they do not think it’s awesome. Most have rejected it outright.

A couple asked for a partial and one requested a full manuscript, but they ended up rejecting it too.

One very junior reader at a literary agency seemed to like it and passed it on to some senior staff members. They suggested she might be better suited for a career in retail. (Okay, I might have made that last part up.)

This affected me by making me dive face first into my secret stash of sea salt and turbinado sugar dark chocolate almonds from Trader Joe’s and chase it down with my not-so-secret stash of freezer vodka. Every time.

I’ve learned that dark chocolate goes better with wine than with vodka. And also that I must be a big dum dum who is quite possibly incapable of learning, because I keep querying that damn book and pairing dark chocolate with the wrong alcoholic beverage.


I think it’s a good thing I already have my degree.

But back to my friend and her son’s quest to be accepted to a particular private middle school (which for the purpose of this post we’ll call Awesome Middle School). She shared her son’s application essay with me and it is so spectacular that I told her I needed to share it with you. Here it is:

What gifts can you bring to Awesome Middle School?

I bring a few gifts to Awesome Middle School, such as my strength as a leader, my athletic abilities, and my level of knowledge. The reason I said I am a good leader is because everyone is afraid of me, and it’s not my fault, it’s my height. I mean it’s not my fault that I’m five four, but it comes in handy sometimes telling people to be quiet. Also I’m not that scary once you know me. I have a good sense of humor, and am decent all around at sports playing defense. Defense is my best position in most sports except football, where I play offensive line. My grades are good all around and I have a love for reading an am really good at it.

The kid is obviously a shoo-in. Even without the legacy status. Maybe we can have him come over and help Chandler with his application essay. It couldn’t hurt.


Photo credit: Chris Drumm via