International House of Problems

Have I ever told you that my Mom is hysterical? I mean she is so funny, but has no idea. Also, she has quite a dramatic flair. She loves to wear those really big pashmina’s and they end up looking like a giant cape on her tiny frame.

Back when I was about 8, which would have made my sister (Amanda) 5 and my brother (James) 4, Mom had all of us with her one Sunday. After church that day we went to a very fine eatery for Brunch: I-HOP. (Only the best for us!) As we walked in my Mom noticed a sign that said the special of the day was Egg’s Benedict, as it always was on Sundays, and that’s exactly why we were there. Now, one thing you have to know about my Mom is that she LOVES Egg’s Benedict, so naturally she knew what she was going to get.

We all sat down and we kids got the chocolate-chip pancakes that I-HOP is so famous for while my Mom ordered The Special Sunday Egg’s Benedict. According to my Mother we kids were being especially demonic that day and she had Had It Up To Here and the only thing that was going to get her through that meal and to our home without killing one of us was the bliss she was about to experience via her Benedict.

Unfortunately for my Mother the waitress informed her that they were out of Egg’s Benedict. After Mom’s head spun around about 5 times and she breathed fire on that poor girl she settled for a sub-par breakfast substitution: Scrambled Eggs; which, by the way, ended up being very lack-luster.

Side bar: Do you know what Egg’s Benedict is made of? Eggs – you KNOW they had eggs. Bacon – what I-HOP doesn’t have bacon? There would be a riot! English Muffin – the wildcard of the Benedict ingredients, but could have been substituted with a bagel, toast or biscuit if push came to shove. Hollandaise Sauce (Eggs –check, Butter – soooo check and Lemon Juice - they totally have lemons for sweat tea.) So, with this list of ingredients how could ANY breakfast establishment be OUT of Egg’s Benedict?? It’s virtually impossible. WTF International House of Panackes? END RANT.

After a mediocre brunch, and dealing with her HORRIBLE kids, my Mom was ready to get the hell out of I-HOP. She gathered us up and we all walked to the front check-out to pay. As she was standing there she noticed that same sign for the Sunday Special still proudly displaying false information so she mentioned to the check out lady that they might want to take it down. The manager was standing near by and said to my Mom that he was so sorry she was misinformed, but that they did, indeed, have the Egg’s Benedict that day.

Wrong Answer Manager Boy...

Mount St. Helen made less of a scene than my Mother.

She FREAKED out on that poor man. She told him just how incompetent our waitress was and how the ONLY reason that we ever came to this CRAP HOLE OF A RESTAURANT was for the Egg’s Benedict!!! After he stopped crying and crawled out from under the desk where he had curled up in the fetal position, he very timidly offered an apology. He said that he was so, very sorry and that he would be happy to give my Mom a free Egg’s Benedict on her next visit (and could she please let him know what day that would be so that he could vacate the state?).

My Mother stuck her nose way up in the air, grabbed the end of her pashmina and threw it across her body and over the other shoulder dramatically, and said in her best British Royalty Voice: “Don’t bother –we WON'T be back!!!!”

And then Amanda and I both mimicked her dramatic pashmina throw move and said “YEAH Mister, we WON'T be back!!” and followed her out the door like a little row of indignant ducks.

Apple, meet the tree you fell from.


Doggie Paddle

While attending Auburn University I didn’t exactly try to stretch myself scholastically. I was more interested in having fun than learning much of anything. So, as you can imagine, I did not pick the most challenging classes as my electives. Instead I gravitated towards the easy stuff like tennis, rowing and swimming.

I was very excited about taking swimming as a class because I used to swim when I was little. I was the Butterfly Champion for the 5-7 year old Albany Doublegate Swim Team -two years running. Thankyouverymuch! So how hard could this be? I singed up for Swimming 101 and felt confident that I would ACE this class. A few days before class started I got a call from the instructor and she asked if I knew how to swim?

Blink, blink.

I was 21 years old; of course I knew how to swim! She then told me that the 101 class was for students that did not know how to swim and that I would need to go to 201. Well, long story short 201 was full and so was 301 and so I ended up in a Graduate Level Swim Class (if there even is such a thing) and I think it was actually called Swimming 97001. No sweat for an old swim pro like me!

I was running a little late to the first class and hustled into the indoor pool to find everyone already in the water. When I looked around it was apparent that I had missed some sort of memo regarding the details of the class expectations; specifically the dress code. All the other kids had on their Fancy Professional Auburn Swim Team One Pieces, matching swim caps and goggles. I, on the other hand, had on a bikini, a pair of swim floaties and I think I even grabbed a shower cap to put over my hair.

I got the stink-eye from everyone and the instructor felt it necessary to let me know how inappropriately I was dressed, as if I hadn’t already figured that one out. So, to “warm up” we swam 30 laps. I thought I was going to die but everyone else seemed fine. I started noticing that everyone else was, like, really fast. And, like, really good. And then I took a closer look at their Fancy Professional Auburn Swim Team gear and realized that they all said “Auburn Jr. Olympic Swim Team.”

Oh. Dear. Lord. All I wanted to do was take an easy elective and somehow I ended up training with Michael Phelps.

The smart thing would have been to drop the class but, as we all know, I rarely do the “smart thing” in these situations. I had to defend my swimming honor! So there was no way that I was giving up.

Over the course of the semester we had to perform ridiculously difficult swimming tasks. Things that I had never heard of. Things that you only see in Rocky! One class all we did for the entire hour was tread water while holding a 5lb weight above our head. I know that may not sound that hard but it would take a lot less than 5lbs to drown you if you are totally exhausted from treading water for an hour! A lot of days we had to do relays of some sort; sometimes just for speed, sometimes utilizing different strokes and sometimes we had to swim through fire. Ok, maybe the last one was a stretch. But every time there was a team relay I was ALWAYS the last one to be picked.

I was totally the fat kid at swimming dodge ball.

Then one day we went over and practiced with the dive team. Now, I am not a fan of heights. The prospect of standing on a chair to change a light bulb kind of makes me woozy so you can only image how freaked out I was when we had to jump of the high dive. Head first. Do you know how high the high dive is????

Thirty Three Feet!

Thirty Three Feet straight up in the air!

That is really freakin high!! Especially when you are forced to leap off of it HEAD FIRST! All the rest of the class had no problem climbing right up and taking a perfect swan dive off. I was the very last one to go and I cried like a little girl. When I eventually got up there I just could not muster up the nerve to actually stand up on the board. I clutched on to the board for dear life and inched my way out to the end of the board. And then I just stayed there paralyzed with fear. There was no way that I was voluntarily launching my body off this bouncy board, so I started inching my way back. The instructor had enough of my antics and eventually just climbed up there and pushed me off the damn dive board with her foot. I screamed bloody murder all the way down to my death.

Ok, I didn’t die. But, I totally could have.

By the time the semester ended I felt like I had gone to war. I was bruised, tired and physically exhausted from the TOTAL HELL this class had put me through. The upside was that I was in amazing shape and could totally out-swim any of my friends. I got there on the very last day of class praying that the instructor would take it easy on us since we had been in full forced Olympic training for the last three months.

Not so much. Our “final” was that we had to swim a mile. A MILE. Do you know how many laps that is in an Olympic sized swimming pool? Seventy Two. And one lap is there and back, so that is really 144 lengths of the pool. I was obviously the very last one to finish. It took me the entire class time (plus a little extra) and I puked about 15 times during it, but so help me I finished! I could not believe it.

So, I was unofficially on the 2004 Auburn Jr. Olympic Swim Team and am damn proud of it.


Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams

For our very first (dating) anniversary Brad and I took a trip to Chattanooga, Tennessee. We thought it would be fun to see the Aquarium there and bum around the quaint little town. I didn’t realize how impressive the Aquarium would be, but it was really awesome.

Brad knows everything in the world there is to know about the ocean and all of the creatures that live in it. He watches the Discovery Channel non-stop and can tell you the Genus/Phylum/Order/Species of practically any fish in the sea. It’s pretty impressive. Me? Not so much. I’m doing good to identify a “Dora” fish or a “Nemo” fish and that’s about it.

So as we were walking through the different displays Brad was telling me all about the little creatures and their lives. We saw some pretty cool things. There was this one Seahorse that was bright yellow and looked like seaweed - very cool. I’m kind of skived out by things in the ocean, but this guy – he was really cute!

When we got towards the end there was an “interactive” area (which I now know is code for HELL ON EARTH Kid Zone) where you could touch some of the sea life. As we got closer we saw some small-ish fish-type things that were swimming around in a kiddy pool. They were about 2 feet long and grey and seemed unbothered by the pummeling they were receiving by hundreds of snotty hands. I looked at the sign that said “Beluga Sturgeon” and had the following exchange with Brad:

Me: Huh. Beluga? Like where you get caviar from?

Brad: Well, yes, you get caviar from Beluga Sturgeon.

Me: (the hamster in my head is running FULL SPEED on his wheel)

… ??....??….

(Light bulb goes off)

Me: So, those things are WHALES?!?!?!!?

(massive laughter erupts from the sea of children around us)

Punk Ass Kid: Lady, these are not whales! They aren’t big enough, these are fish.

Brad: Actually, they are Sturgeon. (laughing hysterically) We get Beluga Caviar from Beluga Sturgeon, not whales. Whales are much, much bigger, Rebekah. You just got schooled by a 9-year old. (high-fives Punk Ass Kid)

Me: Whatever. I hate fish.


A few things about my ‘09

1. Due to the fact that we experienced a WORLD WIDE RECESSION, and I am in finance; I spent the greater part of the year hiding under my desk in the fetal position wishing to die.

2. My Husband was subsequently laid off due to said WORLD WIDE RECESSION. It was a shock that you could be laid off at the tender age of 27. We felt that it was the universes way of giving us a nice, swift, kick to the balls. And it took 6 months for him to find new, gainful, employment. But he was some of the lucky few who actually did.

3. Also, in a related note: Because of said WORLD WIDE RECESSSION and temporary unemployment for the year of 2009 we went nowhere, saw no one and did nothing.

4. Except for our anniversary. My loving husband of one whole year, with all his marital knowledge, completely surprised me. We already had planned on going back to the Ritz, where we were married, to cash in on our “free anniversary dinner.” (That’s the thanks you get in exchange for spending a gazillion space bucks on your wedding.) Brad had suggested that we go early and hang by the pool for a while before dinner. As we walked into the hotel Brad suggested that we change into our swimsuits upstairs in the locker room?...... What locker room? But I went along with it, and as Brad swiped a 5th floor room key I begin to wonder where we were really going. He then took me to a beautiful Club Level Suite where we were greeted by a bellhop who congratulated us on our anniversary. The room was covered in roses, a bottle of champagne was chilling and there was a present on the bed. As I opened the gift I couldn’t believe how thoughtful he had been. He had the lyric’s to our first dance song framed beautifully with our wedding date at the top and “On this day I married by best friend. The one I laugh with, live for and dream of” inscribed below. He had packed a weekend bag for me, got a friend to watch the dogs and did it all without me knowing a thing! We spend the rest of the weekend walking along the lake, standing where we said our vows, lounging by the pool and enjoying the peacefulness of Lake Oconee. He got some MAJOR brownie points with me but all of his guy friends now hate him since they are being forced to do kind things for their wives. (boo freakin hoo)

5. I changed jobs. This included moving about 150 families with me via uprooting every invested dollar they posses and forcing them to sign an egregious amount of paperwork and endure untold phone calls from Ameriprise advisors begging them to stay. It’s been a lot of work, but by far the best business decision I have ever made. Holla at your girl if you need financial advice!

6. We got ANOTHER dog. I know, it’s ridiculous. She is another Red Sable Simba Pomeranian, just like our precious Pancake, and they could almost be twins…. that is, if Pancake weren’t such a chubster. Her name is Roxanna Eloise Nuss, but we call her Roxy, and the vet said that she has a “sexy little body”. Brad gave her to me as an “anniversary gift” but really it was just an excuse to have another dog! She is such a sweet little pumpkin and I just want to eat her up. Witness:

7. Speaking of dogs… we had an unfortunate “incident” between Roxy and Fisher in 2009. Ok, so, Roxy had not been fixed yet and she was in heat for the first time so we had to get her little diapers to wear. They were too cute. Well, Brad had taken the dogs out, and they ran upstairs before he had a chance to re-diaper Roxy. I heard Roxy and Fisher playing around, and then I heard Roxy starting to cry. I ran over to see what was going on, and I. ALMOST. DIED. Apparently Fisher got excited over her being in heat and had his way with her and THEY GOT STUCK! I am not even kidding. So they were stuck together, but facing opposite directions. I started screaming for Brad, Roxy was crying and the peanut gallery (Pancake) was barking at nothing. We had no idea what to do so we called the emergency vet (excuse me, I called the emergency vet and Brad took pictures with his phone. And NO, we will NOT send them to you, you sick weirdo!) and they said it was pretty common and that we needed to let the “swelling go down.” Eww. So I have Roxy’s head in my hands and I am telling her it will be alright and that I was so sorry and Brad is holding Fisher telling him he’s a no-good, dirty bastard, and to leave his little angel alone!! They eventually just came apart, but I was emotionally scarred and have still not fully recovered.

8. I was conned into doing Boot Camp for a month by my cousin, Tiffany. If you don’t know what Boot Camp is, it’s a workout group that meets at 6 AM each morning and pushes you to the brink of death. And it SUCKS! There is nothing worse than being forced to do 100’s of push ups with someone yelling in your ear to go faster at the CRACK OF DAWN. No fun. Not at all. Not even a little. But, I did do it for the entire month and I was very proud that I finished it. And we are going to leave it at that.

9. One big theme for 2009 was friendship. I made it my mission to make new friends and deepen my existing relationships. I started a monthly –ish dinner for a small group of girls that I knew from my neighborhood, college or work. They have been gracious enough to eat the food I make (trying to become a better chef!) and I have enjoyed the gatherings immensely. It has really been a joy to get to spend time with ladies I admire and love. And it’s also been a great excuse to drink. I have tried to theme our dinners and so far we have had a lot of fun with meals like Fancy Valentines Dinner, Fondue Dinner, Spaghetti Night, and a Southern Spread!

10. I also took it upon myself to be the self-appointed Social Chair of my Junior League small group. It has been so rewarding to be apart of such a wonderful organization and to become friends with some truly inspiring women. These new friendships have become such a welcome addition in my life. We have had some very fun gathering including a BBQ, cocktail parties (with man-friends), Christmas parties and other fun outings. A funny story about this group…

I was so excited to host our very first get together with the Jr. League girls at my house! I had the maid come, I got out all my fancy serving dishes, polished the silver and put on my pearls – it IS the Jr. League after all! I spent all this time and effort in cooking elaborate hors devours, and making sure everything was picture perfect. As I opened the door to welcome in the first arrival, the heavens open up and torrential downpour began like I have never seen before and our power WENT OUT! It didn’t come back on that night even though we had a house full of people. We made the best out of it and lit a MILLION candles, so many that I am sure my neighbors thought we were hosting a séance instead of a dinner party! I guess I should’ve left the house a mess and used Chinet! Lesson learned.

11. I think the best part of 2009 was that we survived. Between job loss, investment losses, changing jobs and the recession as a whole, we count our blessings that we made it though alive. We are very lucky to both have jobs, have food and shelter, and to have come through this whole mess almost unscathed. It has really confirmed what’s important to us: Our love, health, friendships and families. Oh, and our precious little pups, too.