Monday, September 7, 2009

Move over Michael and Britney

I just had to add my 9 year old's video to my blog. Nicholas aspires to perform and one night he stole his brothers video camera amd made this. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Fireworks...or just fire? : the RV trip heats up

We settled into a great 4th of July evening with nice, clear weather and our first cookout by the campfire complete with crowd-pleasing weenies (I'm referring to the food not the company).
Everyone is in high spirits except for Honey, the Retriever...Springer...I'm not sure what kind of dog she is. Honey does not appreciate the noise from the fireworks going off around us. Still, she manages to shed less than Windsor, the Lab...Shepherd...I don't know what kind of dog he is. Windsor has been able to eject one clump of matted black hair every 3.5 minutes. And Pixie, the Springer Spaniel (got one right) was entertaining herself by barking at anyone who set foot near our campsite. With our furry security force we had no fears of being robbed.
Now need to see some real fireworks. The nearby racetrack is holding a big display after tonight's races and it will be easy to know when to head there because, from our campgrounds, we can hear every lap the cars make.
Just then, Lisa and I see bright light and a lot of smoke just over the hill. Maybe they are starting early - then we hear the firetrucks (maybe not). Soon the racetrack noise is drowned out by emergency vehicle horns and sirens.
Bubba and the Bubba Juniors (sounds like an act from America's Got Talent) race off in our rented van leaving Lisa Loo Li and I to tend our own fire and the pets. They return with video from Al's Flip Cam. A stray firework landed on a quonset hut filled with 3,000 bales of hay. It is right near the racetrack and now Lisa and I want to get a look.
The whole Durfey clan drives to a lot across from the races. Despite the loss of feed to the local livestock the night turns out to be pretty magical. From our spot we can watch a least 8 gorgeous firework display along the whole vista of the Black Hills and we can gawk at the fire which is just up the block.
We all jump when the racetrack is suddenly plunged into darkness. Seems the generator tor the track was in the building behind the burning hay. At least no cars were racing. Lucky for us they decide to start the fireworks. I am in incendiary heaven as I snuggle with Nick in the open back of the van.
Join the Durfeys at our first tourist trap day:
Bear Country or "Mom what are those animals doing to each other?" : the RV trip

Monday, August 3, 2009

Who pooped in the pool? : RV trip continued

Before we get any further I need to explain the Bubba reference from my previous blog - Bubba and the gang : RV trip continued.

My son Alex bought a little Flip camera to film short videos to chronicle our big trip. He wanted to spice it up by calling it "The Durfey's Vacation to South Dakota." Durfey being a name we made up years ago as a name for all the dazed families that wander around the Wal-Marts and the K-Marts of the world looking for a mile-long list of school supplies.

In South Dakota, the Durfey's would represent any less-than-intelligent folk often seen on shows like Hee Haw, the Beverly Hillbillies or King of the Hill. Our cast would go like this:

Mike - Bubba Durfey - patriarch of the Durfey family

Lisa - Little Lisa Loo Li Loo Li Loo Durfey Jones- Bubba's wife

Kevin - Bubba Junior

Alex - Bubba Junior

Nick - Bubba Junior

And me - Becky Sue Bell Jessie Jo Mae Bob Jones Durfey - undetermined relationship

(The cat and the dogs would play themselves)

Camping in Rapid City started off rocky as some poor child got run over by a golf cart on the campgrounds. It wasn't fatal but it put all of us parents on high alert. We eventually make our way over to the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast where a cook as old as the hills themselves makes what I can only call pancake art. If you are a young camper he would make you a perfect Spongebob, or butterfly, or whatever you wished out of pancake batter. I was jealous.

Later that day Lisa and I decide it is high time we got our butts in the pool so we join our boys in the swim area and spot a tempting hot tub. We make a bee-line to it and that turns out to be the best decision we make all vacation. We are soaking only about 15 minutes when we notice the pool the looking kind of empty. What we witness next was a scene eerily similar to the candy bar in the pool scene from Caddyshack. (It seems this whole vacation will be a reliving of every film moment Chevy Chase has ever had.) The difference for us is that it is not a candy bar we are looking at. Someone informs us the pool is closed.

It is now the evening of the 4th of July and we want to see some fireworks. Boy do we get our wish! Stay tuned for part 4: Fireworks or just fire? : RV tip continued

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bubba and the gang: RV trip continued

Our first night on the road and at about 2:30 or 3:00 am we pull over to sleep in a rest stop parking lot. This is my first experience with this. My sleeping spot happens to be right by the door and the parking lot light is shining right onto my face. No worries, I'll sleep, the cars constantly pulling in and out and all the slamming doors won't keep me awake. No sir-ee. I'll be out like a light as soon as that dog gets off my bed. I can sleep on this hard little cushion with the one inadequate blanket I brought to keep out the cold. Sure, I can sleep. Yes I can. You betcha.

What? It's 9:00 am?

We're ready to go. Okay, so I am pumped for the trip. Who needs sleep anyway? I should have realized that the innocent idea I had of an easy RV vacation was gone as quickly the digital camera my son left at the restaurant breakfast table this morning.

After the quick stop at Wall Drug where my son and his friend bought real Samurai swords (a warning to parents - not everything at a tourist trap is a fake as it looks) we drove on to Rapid City skipping the Badlands until our trip home, since we had to get to a rental car place before it closed.

We eventually find our first KOA Kampground which is nice and pretty much right in Rapid City. We are very close to a race track and that plays heavily in our second night here. After a bit of maneuvering to get the RV in the right spot so both the water and sewer connections will reach, we start to unpack. The kids race over to the pool as the parents walk dogs, haul folding chairs, test the AC, find the supplies we need to eat and drink, sweep out dog hair, get the mysterious blue tablet in the toilet, etc, etc, etc. We're camping now.

My sister-in-law, niece and her daughter drive up and after we visit for a while we follow them to a spot in the hills where the locals go to watch the 3rd of July fireworks. That is, if it weren't so foggy up in the hills that you could see the fireworks. Nevertheless we have a great time talking and get back to camp tired enough to actually sleep.

Stay tuned for our next adventure called "Everybody out of the Water" or "Who pooped in the Pool?"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Chevy Chase has nothing on us

Put together 3 adults, 3 children, 3 dogs (of the large breeds) and one cat in a 30 foot RV and let them drive from the Twin Cities in Minnesota out to camp in the Black Hills of South Dakota and what do you get? You get plot for a reality TV series for which Mark Burnett would pay good money. The story line includes fires, poop, golf cart accidents, lost personal items, no cell phone reception, a total melt down and my personal favorite, projectile vomiting.

As I start this I should say that all parties involved are still great friends and we all know each other A LOT better than we used to. Let's begin.

After work on Thursday, July 2nd I get the call that my friends have secured the RV a day early and would we like to leave that evening. Why not? I have most of my packing done. The kids are anxious to get going and we'll get out to S. Dak. in time for the July 3rd fireworks at Mount Rushmore. Let the good times roll.
We have going for us: Mike, our professional driver who is a veteran of driving semi trucks cross-country. He vows to do all of the driving. Sweet!
What we have against us: Three adults who have never camped in a big RV before...and everything else.

Sleeping arrangements: Mike and Lisa in the back room, Alex and Kevin in the loft, Nick I on the fold outs in the main area and dogs and cat wherever they damn well please. This should work.

The RV toilet: I never understood the word "throne" being used to describe a toilet until I had to use the potty in the RV. With very little room to maneuver one is expected to climb up on this toilet which must be mounted about 3 feet off the floor. Add another 2 feet for the actual bowl height and consider that I am only 5'3" tall. I felt like a contestant on one of those Japanese game shows every time nature called. Not to mention there was virtually no place to put your feet down once you were up there. Okay, I can live with it.
The dogs: I love all three of these dogs but I am currently not returning any of their phone calls. Here are some things to remember when vacationing with dogs.
1. Water bowls spill a lot when you are driving.
2. Nervous dogs shed a lot when you are driving.
3. Some nervous dogs drool a lot when they are resting on your leg for comfort.
4. Dogs who have just been walked have very dirty feet when they re-enter the RV.
5. Dogs with dirty feet love to jump up on your bed.
6. Calm dogs shed a lot.
7. Dogs like to escape after being cooped up in a RV for a long time.
I guess that's enough for our first lesson on the RV vacation. Stay tuned.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Horcruxes versus hormones

NOTE: Spoilers in here for those who have not read the book or have yet to see the movie.

What is going on with David Yates? My 13 year old son and I went to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on the second evening of its opening. Our hopes were high from the exciting previews we saw, and then… eh!

The only word I can use to describe my feelings for the new Harry Potter film is ambivalence. For what was one of the most emotional and revealing books of the series I was left wanting much more from the film. Yes it was fun to see the old gang at Hogwarts yucking it up again. Most of the scenic elements we have grown to admire were there, but some were altered for no reason like the pensive that now looks like a modern day bathroom sink and the Quiddich pitch witch looks like a strong wind hit it and knocked off all the siding.

These minor alterations don’t really affect the story, however, what was David Yates thinking when he left out the biography of Tom Riddle? Almost every piece of exposition from the book that explained his ascent into evil and the birth of the Horcruxes was left out of the film. Instead we got to see an overabundance of Hermione pining for Ron, Lavender pining for Ron, Ron infatuated with Slughorn, Harry and Ginny infatuated with each other and most of the girls in Hogwarts along with Professor Slughorn desperate for Harry. Funny yes, essential to the plotline, not so much.

The movie did get one scene spot on and that was Dumbledore and Harry in the immensely creepy cave with the underground lake searching for one of the horcruxes. That type of imagery and attention to the plotline of the book should have been in more of the film. Mr. Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves didn’t even let us see the Tom Riddle’s family home or the bloody betrayals of the Gaunt family.

I was also sad to see no hint of Dumbledore’s funeral which was a poignant ending to the book and left anyone with a heart a bit misty-eyed. I kept waiting for the merpeople, Hagrid's brother and the centaurs. I can only assume production costs removed them from the storyboard only to be replaced by lit wands held in the air reminiscent of the ending to any kick-ass rock concert.

The last scene in the movie shows a bird flying off and unless you read the book it is very hard to tell that this is Fawkes, Dumbledore’s faithful, mystical phoenix. I needed binoculars to get the full effect. I can only hope there is some back-tracking in the next two films to get the plotline back on track. Those of you who follow the wands will know what I’m talking about.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Mother’s Day letter to a great man

I don’t know how many millions of small and large decisions have to be made in just the proper order and carried out in just the right way to save a life. It is a miracle and I have been blessed to witness it. We are supposed to write letters to our mothers when Mother’s Day draws near however, this is a letter FROM a mother. A very, very grateful mother. I write it in an open forum to express to as many people as I can how very humbled and appreciative I am for having Alex with me today.

It has been one year and 5 months since I sat in PICU, looking at my beautiful son, lying in a bed, unconscious, with most his hair shaved off, tubes down his throat, coming from his hands, his heart, his arms, monitors on every side and a shunt sticking out of a hole cut in his skull to drain fluid from his brain. I still tear up as I write this.

When the vein burst in Alex’s head and we rushed him to the nearest hospital, they put us in an examining room. No doctor came in. Alex had no sight in one eye and was in and out of consciousness. His pain was unfathomable and they could not even get a temperature because he was panting, shaking and sweating so badly. Besides a couple of nurses, the only one who made it into the room was a guy with a computer and a credit card machine to collect my $100 emergency room co-pay. After an hour I was beside myself and told them we were leaving. A nurse took pity and found a doctor. Then, and this is the only cliché that fits, all hell broke loose.

Al was whisked off to a CAT scan followed by a trip to the Red Room a staging area used for severe cases to be prepped for transfer to the nearest trauma center. At one point I counted seventeen people working on my son. I couldn’t even see him on the table through all the bodies. The look on everyone’s faces was between desperation and pity.

After the ambulance ride to hospital #2, the gurney Alex was on was ripped away from me and the next thing I knew he was given an operation to relieve the pressure on his brain. He remained unconscious when I saw him again. The next day Dr. Nagib came over from his hospital to consult on the case.

What can I say about you doctor Nagib.

Maybe I should just repeat the words I heard over and over from surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and many others, “If it was my child, he is the only surgeon I would let touch them.” You were understanding and very clear on the severity of the situation. We decided to move Alex to hospitals #3 and 4. It was the best decision I have ever made in my life.

I am grateful to everyone who prayed for, and worked so hard to save Alex, but I have a special place in my heart for you Dr. Nagib. Through each surgery that different teams performed you were so clear and calm as you informed us of each hurdle Alex had to face. A few people had told me you did not have the best bedside manner. I beg to differ. The day you performed the surgery to remove the dead vein tissue it was an excruciating wait. After hours of surgery passed I could see from the information screen that Alex was in post-op and my heart was in my throat. You came into the waiting room with the biggest and brightest smile on your face. That was all the bedside manner I needed. You saved my son.

I suspect this seems like a long time to wait to say how eternally grateful I am, but the feelings have been so deep that no words seemed enough. All I can say is…Alex turns 13 in May. Thank you.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Secret identities

I am always curious about nicknames. Those identities you've gained through the years that only people who know you well can truly understand.

For example: one of the kid's at my son Nick's childcare is called "Stink". I assume the worse.

Over the years, I have had the luxury of having more personalities than Sybil. Quite a few of theses characters were paired with friends who also assumed false names just for the fun of it. Here are a few of the aliases I have gone by:
  • TIGER (given to me by my father and my first and favorite name)
  • TOOTS PICKLE (from my cousins - when we were kids we all gave each other fruit and vegetable names. This is ironic because my son Nick is currently known as Nicky Pickle)
  • SUE-EEEE! (from my brother who thought it was fun to torture me with a pig call name. I've tried to block this name from my memory but my psyche has permanent damage)
  • SUSABELLE (from my dear friend Patti's mom during our college days. I am still called by this name by the entire Richard family)
  • BECKY SUE BELLE JESSIE JO MAE BOB (again college, again with my friend Patti who was known as Patti-Poo-Pie-Poo-Poo-Pie-Poo)
  • Part of a fictitious girl band called SLEEZE AND THE WRYTHETTES (also college, also with Patti and with Barb. I was one of the Wrythettes)
  • MAMA ONI (with my now departed sweet friend Chris who was Papa Oni. This family was based on the Farkels of Laugh In fame. Papa and I had many, many children)
  • BETTY (counterpart to Bill who is my friend Steve. We met doing summer stock theater)
  • BEA (counterpart to Howard who is my charming friend Tommy. We met at college and were reunited touring in children's theater)
  • KATE (for Katherine Hepburn - during my serious acting days)
  • DAGO CHICK (part of a four person national acting tour that included Spence, Jewfish and Macho Chick - a.k.a Jeff, Bob and Maria)
  • LA-QUICHE-A (part of a current duo with my crazy bud Lisa who is Om-Letta)
  • And of course - SB (given to me by dear Joanne, the original SB)

If I have forgotten anyone of my names, please feel free to send them to me or to one of my personalities listed above. :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Junior High Sucks

I dedicate this blog to my son, Alex, who this very day spent over 6 1/2 hours in one of the roughest, most judgemental, confusing, challenging and altogether frustrating places on earth - Junior High School.

It has been a while since I have written about the SB code of ethics and nothing displays those ethics better than our advice to our children on surviving junior high. Now we don't sugar coat much here in SB-land. No matter how you slice matter how prepared you think you are for matter if it is a 2-year or 3-year stint...the plain and simple fact is...

Junior High Sucks.

I may have mentioned in a previous blog the terror I experienced going from a small, Catholic grade school to a large, public junior high. Talk about being thrown to the wolves! I went from wearing uniforms and attending church every morning to wearing anything I wanted and being allowed to pick some of my own classes - hey wait, I guess it wasn't all bad.

The worst part of JH is how it seems to hit at the time of your life when you are most insecure and your hormones are making all the decisions for you. It is also time when you are expected to make the all-important decision on your school social grouping. You know: jock, nerd, invisible, druggie, brain, slut, etc. Being an SB my whole life I was a bit rebellious of this plot to be labeled. I discovered that a good sense of self deprecating humor allowed me to mingle amongst all the tribes without really joining any.

When my son started JH last fall I told him it is a time in your life you just sort of endure. Like hitting puberty - it is inevitable. My son has already managed to get in a fight and punch a bully, break his leg, discover acne, get sent to an after school study class to catch up on algebra and meet a girl. Not bad for his first year. I learned the other day that the main activity on the long bus ride to school was comparing the amount of armpit hair each kid had acquired. I guess some of the girls are in the lead. Ahhhh progress.

So for those of us who have made it through junior high relatively unscathed I want to applaud you. And for those who are in the throes of learning to shower in groups and stand endlessly staring at each other at school dances - I feel your pain.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Good Chick Flick can do the Trick

The following blog is meant for women only (and possibly a few of my very close gay men friends).

There was some sort of harmonic convergence tonight as I discovered that more than one of my dear friends of the female persuasion was able to have a reduced testosterone environment for a few hours and release a few antsy hormones by watching a chick flick.

Chick flicks (CFs) are one of the few places women can let their eggs hang out. Crying is almost mandatory as is laughing like a banshee. Food of the non-dieting variety is a must and no one leaves without having shared one extremely personal story with their fellow chick flick viewer.

Tonight we indulged in the classic CF - "Steel Magnolia's". I have personally watched this movie at least 20 times and never fail sobbing like 2 year old each time I see it. My dear friend Lisa, who had somehow made it this far in life having never see it, was almost comatose by the end. Mission Accomplished.

Another CF that is in the same emotional league as Magnolias is "The Joy Luck Club". Kleenex brand tissues owes much of their success as a product to multiple screenings of this tear-jerker.

For the uninitiated I will share some of my other CF favorites. Not all are meant to make you cry uncontrollably. Some are just so romantic you get utterly depressed for not finding anything like that in real life. Again, Mission Accomplished.
  • Pride and Prejudice - Keira Knightly version
  • Return to Me
  • Hope Floats
  • Shall We Dance
  • While You Were Sleeping
  • Fried Green Tomatoes
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Murphy's Romance
  • Moonstruck
  • Chocolat
  • Under the Tuscan Sun
  • Something to Talk About]
  • Beauty Shop
  • Where the Heart Is
  • French Kiss
  • Like Water from Chocolate]
  • Twilight
  • Quigley Down Under
  • Crossing Delancy
  • Parenthood
So, all you woman and SBs out there, if you have a night where you can truly let the estrogen run wild I'd suggest going to my list here and sitting down to watch one of these with a close friend or two. Poor some wine, have something salty and the tissues are on me.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Qwest for a working computer ...or why I still love my pen and paper

My cousin Paul is giving my butt a kick to start writing again so I am on a borrowed computer until I can get my laptop working properly. I think I'd better recap since my absence has been due to technical difficulties. Here's what happened:

  • Nov. 2008 - My old computer dies from sheer exhaustion on election night and Barack Obama becomes President. It was worth the sacrifice.
  • Dec. 2009 - who cares. It's the holiday season and I would rather visit face-to face instead of face to Facebook. I am broke anyway so computer issue will have to wait till next year.
  • Jan. 2009 - Good friend at work has her husband put together a hard drive for me powered by something called Ubutu. I didn't speak the language.
  • Feb. 2009 - get a used Gateway laptop from work that has been wiped so clean I have yet to soil it. I buy Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007. Load that and call Qwest to get a modem. Yes folks I decide to spring for the wireless and loose my dial up. (Moment of silence).

  • Mar. 2009 - After much downloading and hours talking to people in India with names like Jennifer and Mitch my modem still will not work properly. I whine - it does no good.
  • Yesterday - My second visit from a Qwest service technician and we discover that none of the drivers for sound, video or the Ethernet are anywhere to be found on the laptop. Solution: download them. Problem: can't access internet to download. Solution: go out and buy a 4 gig jump drive to download drivers from another computer. Problem: When I try to unzip them on my laptop it cannot "create C:Cabs" and aborts the unzip process.
  • Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!

(Go to your happy place SB.)

Now I never said I was a computer guru but I have Googled C:Cabs and found that nothing of much use turns up. I also added a new WinZip in hopes I could fool it into unzipping the files but no such luck.

My bedroom is strewn with so much non-working hardware and software I am thinking of dating a guy from the Geek Squad just to give us both some satisfaction.

Anyway, Now you know why I haven't written for a while.

Friday, March 6, 2009

She's baaaaaack!

So sorry about my immensely, obnoxious, long absence but life is funny that way. My computer died on election night. (From joy and ecstasy I presume). I am still getting hooked up again, but wanted everyone to know I am still kicking even if I am not typing. My son, Alex however is hobbling. He broke both bones in his right leg in school last week doing a drama, jumping exercise that just happened to be on a throw rug that moved. Ahhhhhhh! It is our crisis du jour.

I'll write something substantial next time but for now it is just good to be back.