Date your spouse.

This post is sponsored post by Fyllan and Rozzelle Court Restaurant in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Date your spouse.

It’s marriage advice. You’ll hear it at weddings. You might even hear it repeated at a baby shower. It’s advice for empty nesters or retirees too, although that’s a guess. I haven’t reached that point in life.

The fact that it is a piece of advice will tell you it’s hard. Dating your spouse is hard.

Babies are good at putting out a rockstar couple’s fire. Really good, like rolling in on a firetruck with a water hose. But I’m not here to tell you that. You know. You also know it’s not always the kids. It’s stress too – the adult kind of stress that no one sees coming. A job loss. A breast cancer diagnosis. Losing a baby. Caring for aging parents. Life will throw something at you.

Even the day-to-day repetition can turn a marriage from for better into for worse. This isn’t a sad post. It’s a real one.

Date your spouse.

What kind of date? Well, that’s up to you.

I’ll tell you one of my favorite dates – feed me and take my dirty dishes away. 

For better is red lipstick. It’s watching Scott knot a tie even though he changed his mind later and went with a cowboy shirt instead. It’s curling my big hair. Scott trims his beard. He won’t shave it all because he knows I love his beard. For better is when Scott kisses my hand in the car on the way to our dinner date. I’m driving, of course, because I wear the pants in the relationship. That was a terrible joke, Scott. I’m sorry. For better is a dress and high heels. The heels that are just high enough to put me face-to-face with Scott. I love being his equal. He opens the restaurant doors for me and lets me walk in first.

For worse is putting in our name and waiting. It’s staring at other couples waiting. Everyone is on their phones.

For worse is making a mental note who was waiting before you. It’s our night, not theirs.

For worse is knowing you’re paying a babysitter to watch the kids while you stare at a hostess. You question if you remembered to give her your name after asking how long the wait is. Yes, I have done this before and Scott will never let me live it down.

Romance shouldn’t come with a wait.

Fyllan (pronounced “fill-in”) is a new restaurant app for your android or iPhone. I got to try out the app on Friday. We never waited for a table at Rozzelle Court Restaurant in the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. Scott and I checked in by showing the app code and we were ushered directly to our table.

The app works in real time so you never have to call or book a reservation days in advance. The app is free to download.

The app is easy to use. We picked a restaurant from the map.

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We wanted a restaurant with ambience. Oh, I don’t know, maybe a 15th-century Italian courtyard ambience. And live music! Sold.

Rozzelle Court Restaurant at the Nelson-Atkins Museum.

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We booked two guests for a 7 pm dinner time on July July 21, 2017.

Each restaurant will display a price to book. The price is determined by the restaurant according to the average ticket cost. This cost, paid on your credit card at time of booking, is used as a credit towards your final bill. The credit will also cover gratuity. Restaurants may list specials or additional options such as “meet the chef.” Fyllan charges 10% of your final bill for its service. Fyllan will make sure you’re dating – not waiting.

And rest of your night is yours.

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Thank you Rozzelle Court Restaurant and the Nelson-Atkins Museum. I am not a food blogger or even a foodie but you sure do make me look good on a Friday night.

And Fyllan – thank you for giving us a date night without the wait.

Scott still knows how to make me laugh for the better.

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Links: 

Fyllan app

Rozzelle Court Restaurant

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri.

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Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?”

I interviewed Trooper Ben.

We all have those friends with certain careers that can hook us up.

Maybe you have a friend that works at Chick-Fil-A and you score free chocolate shakes when you walk in.

Or it’s possible you started choking on a fish bone at dinner and your doctor friend jumped up and performed the Heimlich Maneuver on you.

Photographer friend? Maybe she gives you a family photoshoot for your birthday.

Or maybe, just maybe, you know a highway patrol trooper. You can throw questions at him without feeling like you did something wrong.

Meet Trooper Ben on Twitter.

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Trooper Ben works for the Kansas Highway Patrol. The man has 28,000 followers on Twitter – although, I would call them more his friends. He’ll answer your questions with humor but he also keeps in mind he doesn’t want you to die either. If he has time, he’ll tweet Q&As from his followers.

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I found Trooper Ben’s twitter handle from Eric Stonestreet.

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Yes, this Eric Stonestreet. The K-State family is a close one.

It doesn’t really matter how I met Trooper Ben. We’re friends now even though I’ve never met him in real life. And hopefully, I never meet him because I’m a safe driver.

Mostly.

Ok, like one speeding ticket.

I’ve gotten out of two speeding tickets with warnings.

Oh, and then there was that one time I got a ticket for not moving over a lane while a South Dakota trooper pulled over another car on the highway. Yes, I broke the law and I wasn’t safe. My ticket was fair. I should have moved over a lane. But that wasn’t my question for Trooper Ben.

My question for Trooper Ben:

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If you want the long version of this story, click here.

In short – I was pulled over for not moving over a lane. The South Dakota trooper asked me to leave my car, walk along the side of the highway, and sit in his car while he chatted and wrote me a ticket. This happened in the middle of the afternoon. My husband and two daughters were in the car. It was clear we were on a family road trip.

Trooper Ben was kind enough to give me a call today and explain the trooper’s possible reasonings.

I did not record our conversation for direct quotes but I did take notes.

Trooper Ben asks drivers to sit in his car for various reasons, although it is rare.

If he smells alcohol, he has been known to ask the driver to sit in his car. Using his car as a “neutral scent” zone, he can smell possible alcohol on the driver’s breath. My breath smelled like coffee, cream, sugar, and nachos cheese Doritos.

Another reason – smuggling drugs. By questioning a person away from the “comfort zone” of their own car, he can gather more information from the driver to make sure stories add up – Who is in the car with you? What are the kids’ names? Where are you going? Believe it or not, people have been known to smuggle drugs with kids in the car. The particular car I was driving at the time was a rental and it had Florida plates. I gave the South Dakota trooper my Kansas driver’s license.

I asked Trooper Ben the number one answer I’ve heard when I tell this story – was it possible the trooper just wanted to hit on me away from my husband? Trooper Ben said he hopes that’s not the case. Looking back, I don’t feel like this particular trooper was hitting on me but I do remember being scared that he might. I felt vulnerable away from my husband.

My biggest question for Trooper Ben – did I have the right to refuse to get into the trooper’s vehicle if I wasn’t under arrest? Trooper Ben said it wouldn’t be an unreasonable request if I feared for my safety. Another option Trooper Ben suggested is to ask if I could record the conversation via video or voice.

In the end, everyone was safe. I still got a ticket. It was possible the South Dakota trooper thought I was smuggling drugs. But I can’t interview that trooper to ask him why.

I can only interview Trooper Ben.

Don’t forget to move over a lane when you see another car pulled over.

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And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?”

Oh Emma, Oh Kate.

Oh Emma, Oh Kate is a series of funny things my kids say. Emma is 11 and Kate is 8. 

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Me: It’s 9:00! Go to bed!

Kate: Mom, it’s 8:49.

Emma: Yeah mom, stop rounding.

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Kate: Wait, a minute. Are you writing down what I’m saying?

Me: Yes.

Kate: Write to the people that I said you have a big butt.

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Kate: Happy New Day’s Eve!

Me: What?

Kate: Every day is New Day’s Eve.

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Kate: Can you imagine the first person to eat an egg?

Me: Yeah, can you imagine someone saying, “I should eat that thing sliding out of a chicken’s butt.

Kate: What?!

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Emma: MOM! I picked off a scab where Kate scratched me and now I’m bleeding again and basically this is all Kate’s fault and needs to be grounded again.

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Kate: My temperature is 89.1.

Me: That’s low. Pretty sure you’d be dead. That’s not right.

Kate: I put it on my chest.

Me: Well those kind of thermometers need to be put inside your body – like under your tongue. Or up your butt.

Kate: Butt?

Me: Sometimes they do that for babies since they can’t hold a thermometer under their tongue.

Kate: What about poking inside the eye?

Me: It’s placed somewhere in your body that wouldn’t hurt, crazy.

Kate: So putting things up your butt doesn’t hurt?

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Kate: What was your first job?

Me: I worked at a daycare.

Kate: Yeah right.

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Leaving for the pool.

Me: Anyone need to pee before we go?

Kate: Nah, I’ll just go in the pool.

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Hostess: If you can follow me, your table is ready.

Kate: I’d rather just sit at the bar.

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Me: STOP. FIGHTING! Kate! Stop being bossy. I’m going to start calling you momma bear!

Kate: Stop it, mom! I’m going to start calling you mommy bear don’t care!

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Me: Girls, today is the first day of summer!

Kate: It is?

Me: Yep, longest day of the year.

Kate: In real life?

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I asked Emma and Kate the same question, but separately. They didn’t hear each other’s answers.

Me: So who’s the cutest boy in your grade?

Emma: Ugh, mom. They’re all so annoying.

Me: So who’s the cutest boy in your grade?

Kate: Why are YOU askin’?

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Emma: Mom! Kate’s being rude to the neighborhood kids!

Me: What did she do?

Emma: She said we live in the biggest house on the street and she’s making people feel bad.

Me: KATE! GET IN HERE! NOW! Kate, you watch your mouth. Stop saying we live in the biggest house on the street. One – it’s not true. Two – Stop saying things like that. How would you feel if someone said that to you?

Kate: Sorry. The words just come out of my mouth.

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Emma walked in the kitchen.

Me: Hm, I don’t think Kate will like my dinner tonight.

Emma: Looks good to me. Who cares? The kid will survive.

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Kate had a friend over.

Friend: What’s this?

Kate: That’s a National Geographic Kids book. My mom gets free stuff from them because she writes for them. They’re in Washington, DC.

Friend: Where’s Washington, DC?

Kate: (points) Like, way over there or something.

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At Target with Kate.

Kate: I need a new bikini.

Me: You have a lot of swimsuits! No, you don’t.

Kate: Only one bikini.

Me: You’ll have to ask your dad about that one.

Kate: He won’t understand. He’s a boy.

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Kate rambled something.

Me: Sorry, I was reading something. What did you say?

Kate: Don’t make me waste my voice again.

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Kate: Emma has lipstick on!

Me: I don’t care.

Emma: Kate, you wear lipstick too!

Kate: No, I don’t. DON’T make me raise my voice at you, Emma!

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Me: Ready for math camp next week, Emma?

Emma: Ugh, I don’t know why you’re making me do this.

Me: Because your teacher highly suggested it before middle school. I put you in the same week as one of your friends. I figured you’d have a funner time.

Emma: Funner is not a word, WRITER.

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I was working on an article for SimplyKC magazine. Kate walked in my writing room.

Me: Hey, this is a work day for me. You need to get out of here.

Kate: Sorry. Can’t. I’m not old enough to leave the house on my own.

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Me: Oh my gosh, girls. 105 heat index today.

Kate: No wonder I’m so hot! I thought it was my shirt.

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I took the girls out to get things for our upcoming road trip to Minnesota. I pulled up to the library.

Emma: Can we stay in the car?

Me: No. It’s too hot. And I need you two to pick out some library books here for our road trip.

Emma: I thought we were going to Barnes and Noble.

Me: We are because I need to get something from there. You’re going to get books from the library. It’s free here.

Kate: But everything in life is free to me and Emma.

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There’s a new grocery store in our part of town. I took the girls in to check it out on the first day. A lady handed Emma a store map. Emma opened the map.

Emma: We are here. And this is where mom made us follow her into the exit door because she doesn’t read signs.

 

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Oh Kids: Nieces Edition. 

I put sunscreen on myself before I got my nieces ready for the pool.

Evelyn, 4: You smell like swim lessons.

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I took my nieces to the library. I let them walk around the kids’ section with other kids playing.

Kid: Is that your sister?

Evelyn, 4: Yes, her name is June.

Kid: Oh.

Evelyn: You should say hi to her.

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Me: Do you take naps with your nana, Evelyn?

Evelyn: No, I don’t take naps.

Me: Oh. Hm, are you lying to me?

Evelyn: No.

Me: I’m going to ask your nana.

Evelyn: But you can’t ask her because she doesn’t lie.

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And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?”

This picture cost me $20.

I don’t post many pictures of my kids on social media.

It isn’t because I don’t want others to know what my kids look like or I’m trying to protect their digital footprint.

I am in a unique position when it comes to social media – I have public accounts. Anyone can look at my Facebook page, Instagram page or Twitter page. We don’t necessarily have to be “friends.” I made those public because it’s a platform to showcase my work. I’m a writer.

And to be honest, an Instagram account with pictures of my kids would be boring to everyone but me. It’s the same concept as handing someone my kid’s scrapbook – anyone can look at it and enjoy it but I am the most proud of it. Social media only shows the good memories. Happy moments. Sometimes people forget that and families appear to be perfect.

I’m not perfect.

My family is not perfect. Happy – yes, most of the time, we are. Do I patiently wait for my family to run out of clean clothes before they realize I’m retired from picking up their clothes off the floor? Why yes, I do, because I’m a mean mom and evil wife.

I don’t post many pictures of my kids because I ask my kids’ permission to post pictures. Emma is eleven and Kate is eight. They both realize people they’ve never met will see the pictures. For the most part, Emma always gives me permission and Kate never does. I also never ask Kate because she rarely smiles for posed pictures. Her reason is because she “doesn’t like fake smiling” and no one needs to be in her damn business. Ok, she didn’t say damn but I know she’s thinking it.

I asked Kate to take a selfie with me at a neighborhood party this weekend.

She agreed.

I was shocked.

We took the photo.

Kate: That will be $20.

Me: What?

Kate: You heard me. I know you sold one of your books and you have a twenty dollar bill in your pocket.

Me: I’m not giving you twenty dollars to smile for a picture.

Kate: What if I let you put this picture on Instagram or Facebook?

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This picture cost me $20.

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Wait, don’t go! Find me on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?” 

Kate will take your money.

Biodegradable marriage.

Today’s blog post is brought to you by the sun, sunscreen, bleach cream, and Scott and I were married on July 17, 2004 by a pastor in front of one hundred witnesses.

When people say they don’t want to get married because it’s a piece of paper – they’re right. Marriage is a piece of paper.

It’s a piece of paper that can be easily misplaced when a newlywed couple moves from Manhattan, Kansas to Charleston, South Carolina. Misplaced meaning it probably got thrown in the trash. Thirteen years later, it most likely doesn’t exist because paper is biodegradable, much like a marriage. Hold on. That last sentence came out wrong. Scott and I are still married. According to our health insurance, we are not.

“Mr. Burton, we regret to inform you that Julie Burton will not be covered on your health insurance policy effective immediately. Please submit a valid marriage license stating you are married.”

Proof.

The insurance company wanted proof Scott and I are married. They also wanted proof that Emma and Kate are Scott’s dependents. Emma and Kate’s birth certificates were sufficient to prove that Scott is the father of Emma and Kate Burton. The birth certificates also lists the mother – me, Julie Burton. I share the family last name because we’re married and Scott didn’t bang his sister. 

I’ve nagged the shit out of Scott to order a new marriage license. No, I didn’t politely remind Scott. I nagged because we’re married.

A few months ago, Scott pointed out a dark discoloration on my face because we’re married. 

Scott reminded me for weeks that my face is flawed and I should get checked out by a dermatologist because we’re married. 

I lied. Scott didn’t tell me my face is flawed. But he was concerned I would get skin cancer. But, to me, he totally looked for flaws because we’re married.

I finally made an appointment with a dermatologist.

“Mrs. Burton, your insurance card isn’t working. We even called and they said you aren’t covered anymore. You’ll have to self pay and resubmit it when it’s working again.”

Mrs. Burton.

My thumbs rage-texted Scott in the waiting room.

“Julie Burton? If you follow me, I’ll take you back to the room and the doctor will be right in.”

Burton.

The doctor walked in the room.

“Hey Julie, what’s going on today?”

“I have this discoloration on my face. I’m a little concerned about it. It’s been there for months now. The intensity changes but it’s always there.

“What SPF sunscreen do you wear?”

“Oh, high. 70, maybe? I’m paranoid about that stuff. I’ve been at the pool with my kids a lot this summer.”

“Do you reapply?”

“I do to my kids. Hm, no, not to me. I kinda forget about taking care of myself when I’m with them.”

“I see. This is from the sun. Make sure you continue to wear a high SPF and reapply. That’s key, make sure you reapply. I’ll prescribe some bleach cream that should help balance out the discoloration.”

“That’d be awesome. Thank you.”

I walked out to the receptionist.

“That will be 108 dollars, Mrs. Burton.”

Mrs. Burton.

Dear health insurance company, I regret to inform you you didn’t get a wedding invite on July 17th, 2004. You missed a hell of a party. You also missed being a witness to the words, “I take you in sickness and in health as long as we never lose the marriage license because official name changes, tax returns, and bank account statements won’t be enough to prove we’re married.

Marriage is a piece of paper.

Don’t forget to wear sunscreen.

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And don’t forget to buy my book, “But Did You Die?”

But Did You Die?: Setting the Parenting Bar Low.

Stop here!

Just scroll.

You found the landing page to purchase an autographed copy from Julie Burton of But Did You Die?: Setting the Parenting Bar Low by A Bunch of Know It Alls.

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But Did You Die? is the fifth hilarious installment in the New York Times bestselling I Just Want to Pee Alone series by Jen Mann. But Did You Die? is a collection of terrible (but also kind of good) parenting advice from some of the funniest moms and dads on the ‘net. And that one super helpful childless friend we all have who loves to tell us we’re parenting wrong. So put your kids in front of the TV and let them eat junk while you read this book and laugh your tail off. We set the bar low so you can feel better about your parenting skills. You’re welcome.

Thank you for giving me the gift of your time over the past eight years to read my words on this blog. Your support allowed me to land a spot in my first book. I hope you like my essay titled, Oh Shit.

Because the day your child cusses is a huge milestone.

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An autographed copy of But Did You Die? is $15 payable via PayPal or credit card.

Shipping is included if you live in the U.S. If you are overseas (including Canada and Mexico), I would love to send you a copy but the additional shipping is between $15 and $25. Please email me if you are still interested.

Also – if you would like the book to made out to someone other than you, please shoot me an email and let me know after you’ve paid.

Any additional questions or to check your book status, feel free to email me at: Jbugbytes@gmail.com

And thank you! Thank you so much. — Julie Burton

Ok, now you can stop scrolling and click here: 

Buy Now Button

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Shiplap lover.

What makes something funny?

I don’t have an answer for you and I consider myself a humor writer. I can tell you humor is an art. There are different styles of humor – parody, satire, slapstick, irony, sarcasm, puns, spoofs, dark humor, the unexpected. Any stand-up comedian will tell you timing plays a role in humor. My parents will tell you humor is genetic.

But recognizing when you’re a dumbass and telling the world takes a certain skill. I once told Scott that people only think I’m funny because I’m good at making fun of myself.

It’s called the dumbass humor.

I was in the bathtub when I realized – holy shit, I might be the dumbest person I know. And I know a lot of dumbasses.

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What is this empty tub you see?

That’s the after.

Before I get to my story, let’s talk about my house. If Scott got his way, our house would look similar to a mountain lodge. Towering windows, ceilings that can easily fit a 15-foot Christmas tree, wood beams, a statement shed chandelier. Animal fur rugs under your feet and big game animals staring at you as you drink your hot cocoa with a splash of whiskey.

I mean, I don’t have anything against mountain lodges. They’re beautiful. They have a charm about them that makes you go straight for the red wine, the stout beer, the whiskey, and the medium rare steak. It’s hearty, warm, and full bodied. It’s man versus the wild – even if the eyes of the wild are made from glass.

We live at an elevation of 1,040 feet above sea level. We live in Kansas. We do not have majestic views of mountains but one time Scott saw our next door neighbor topless, popping a zit on her face in the mirror. Stop. It wasn’t at this house. Scott closed our blinds at our old house one night and there she was, really digging in with her nails. And Scott isn’t a peeping tom if he called me to watch too. That’s as far as we get for views of majestic – fine – full but a little saggy mountains.

In order to make our house a normal looking Kansas home, I need to balance the man vs. wild on our walls. I try to soften our home with flowers and white knit blankets. I weave my love of script and words with Scott’s fur and glass eyes staring at us. I think I do a good job. I am always looking for ways to mix our own version of the outdoors into our home.

The first weekend of the month, thousands of people head to the historic West Bottoms of Kansas City. You will find stores filled with antiques, one-of-a-kind vintage finds, thrifty picks, other people’s junk, whatever. It’s an interior designer’s dream. I went down to the West Bottoms this past weekend with two girlfriends. We wandered into store after store, each talking about our homes and our personal styles.

I found a perfect piece.

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Shiplap lover.

Me: Oh! This is cute. I have a whole fishing theme going on in our bathroom. Shiplap lover. Sounds sexy.

Cody: Oh, you should get it then.

Me: Yeah, I think I will. I’ll get it to decorate the shelf by our tub. It’s perfect.

Kathy: What’d you get?

Me: Isn’t this cute? I have a fishing theme in our master bath.

Kathy: Oh. Yeah. Get it.

It was perfect. There’s something about the master bathroom, especially the bathtub, that can be intimate without mushy. Shiplap lover is sexy. If there’s one thing Scott and I love with a passion, it’s fishing. You will see that love in our personal spaces.

Scott: What did you buy with Cody and Kathy?

Me: This. This. Isn’t this cute? Oh, and this too! For the tub.

Scott: What’s a shiplap?

Me: Oh, you know. Like lovers on a ship. It’s like us and fishing!

Scott: I’ve never heard of that.

Me: You’re not romantic. It’s a thing. It’s cute.

Scott: Oh.

Sunday night. I put my new decor pieces out. I filled the tub with epsom salts and oils. I applied a facial mask to my face. I poured a glass of wine, grabbed a book, and my phone. I sank into the tub and looked over at the words shiplap lover.

What is a shiplap anyway? I better make sure it’s not like the bottom deck with the rats or something gross.

Google search: shiplap

Um, what the hell is HGTV’s Fixer Upper? Who is Joanna Gaines and what the hell did I tell everyone I was buying?

Shiplap refers to a style of building material made of wood boards that overlap each other. No, not in the form of making a ship but in the form of wood pieces being nailed up on a wall like a barn. Go ahead – Pinterest search: shiplap. It’s bringing the look of a barn indoors. Some woman named Joanna Gaines from a show called Fixer Upper made it popular.

Shiplap has nothing to do with ships or fishing or getting drunk on the high seas with a lover. Nope. Any reference to fishing and shiplap makes zero sense to anyone that is not a dumbass. I don’t have one wall in my house that is shiplap. How can I be a shiplap lover if I don’t have shiplap? I love fishing and Scott not Joanna Gaines and Fixer Upper what the hell? Is that what I’m declaring now? My love for a television show that made shiplap popular?

Not only did my girlfriends probably think to themselves, what the hell was Julie talking about? But Scott called me out on it too. The employee at the store in the West Bottoms probably thought, this dumbass is buying a turquoise starfish with a shiplap sign. Every person I have ever fished with is sitting on their phone and laughing at my anchor, a turquoise starfish and shiplap lover. HGTV viewers, Joanna Gaines and interior designers everywhere are thinking, but those are rocks on her wall. Where’s the shiplap?

What makes something funny?

My dumbass.

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Oh Emma, Oh Kate.

Oh Emma, Oh Kate is a series of funny things my kids say. Emma is 11 and Kate is 8. 

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Kate: Do you have a bra on?

Me: No.

Kate: Good.

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Emma had a friend over.

Elle: HEY! I NEED TOILET PAPER!

Emma: Just shake it off and let’s go!

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I was driving the girls somewhere.

Kate: Telling dad you turned on a red light.

Me: You can turn right on a red light after a stop.

Kate: Oh. Still telling him.

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After school.

Me: Hey, where did you get that band-aid on your toe?

Kate: School.

Me: What happened?

Kate: Nurse said it’s infected and I told her YOU yanked off my hangnail this morning. It was all YOU.

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Kate: One time, I told the school nurse my throat hurt so she gave me a cough drop. I told her one time I asked you for a Luden’s cough drop and you took one too. And then I told the nurse that your throat didn’t even hurt, you just ate the Luden’s cough drop and told me not to tell dad.

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Emma opened presents on her birthday.

Emma: A magic 8 ball? What’s that?

Me: You ask it questions and you shake it and then it will tell you the answer.

Kate: So like Siri but better.

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Me: Emma, help Kate write her birthday thank you notes, please.

Emma: Ok, Kate. After you write “to,” write “thank you” and then whatever gift they gave you. Then write, “Love, Kate.” And then write “this friendship is OVER.”

Me: EMMA!

Emma: What? It would be hilarious.

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Me: Your hair is a mess.

Kate: Thank you for telling me that. How sweet a mother you are.

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Kate and I were waiting in line at Chipotle. The line was long.

Kate: Hey, mom.

Me: Yeah.

Kate: I bet you we could cut in this line.

Me: We’re not doing that.

Kate: I know. But I bet we could.

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Kate: I wish sunset was a color.

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Kate jumped in my bed. She grabbed my boob.

Me: KATE! Stop!

Kate: What? I saw you playing with daddy’s nipple in bed.

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Emma dropped a piece of food.

Emma: 5 second rule!

Kate: Chloe and I have a 30 second rule.

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Me: Hey, Kate. Come here. I can’t see my back. Is this a tick?

Kate: Hm. No. It’s like red and it has a white nipple in the middle.

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In the car.

Me: Ready for your soccer game, Emma? Do you have your soccer ball for warm ups?

Emma: I don’t know where it is. So yeah.

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I picked up the girls from school.

Emma: MOM!

Me: Oh God.

Emma: MOM! Kate and her SQUAD. Kate’s the leader, by the way. Kate and her SQUAD sat on the sideline of my soccer game during PE.

Me: How did she sit in on your PE?

Emma: We played outdoor soccer and Kate had recess the same time. Every time I got the ball, her and her squad chanted “BOO! EM-MA!”

Me: KATE!

Kate: Mom. I don’t have a squad.

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Kate’s teacher emailed me.

Kate’s teacher: By the way, Kate’s hair is totally cute today. I told her I love her braid and she whips it off and says, “thanks. It’s fake but still cute.”

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I took Kate grocery shopping. We passed the pre-packaged Rice Krispies.

Kate: One time, at school, I found one of those Rice Krispies in my lunch and I thought I didn’t like it. But I tried it and liked it and I was like, “Mommy, why you holding out this long?”

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Kate: I was at gymnastics today and they played your song, mommy!

Me: What song?

Kate: Bruno Mars! 24 Karat Magic. I was like, “UGH! MOMMY!”

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Me: Hey, Kate. Go tell Emma to come down here.

Kate: Can I yell?

Me: No. Go get her.

Kate: Is daddy here?

Me: No.

Kate: EMMMMMM-MMMMMMMAAAAA!

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Me: Kate, are you wearing Emma’s PJs? She’s going to be mad when she gets home.

Kate: Well, Emma is just going to have to deal with it.

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Me: How are both of you already tanner than me? I’m the half Mexican here.

Emma: Then maybe you should stop sending us outside all the time.

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Emma: Mom, look. It’s a swimsuit.

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Kate: Yeah a swimsuit with a ….

I glared at Kate, waiting for her to finish.

Kate: What daddy has.

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Scott: No one listens to me in this family. If I were to say “the earth is round” one of you would disagree.

Emma: Actually, the earth’s atmosphere isn’t perfectly round.

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I’ve been helping my sister, Jenna, these past few weeks with watching her two daughters, Evelyn (4) and June (2). Aunt Jules is always listening.

Me: Where’s Evelyn? I’m ready to take her.

Jenna: Pooping.

Me: Oh, I’ll wait.

Jenna: I shut the door to the bathroom and she told me to leave it open.

Me: What?

Jenna: She said she wants you to see her pooping as soon as you walk in.

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Evelyn: You look 40. Are you 40?

Scott: I feel 40 but no, not 40. Next time you see me I’ll drink from the fountain of youth and look 20.

Evelyn: It won’t work.

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Evelyn: I love my mom more than hopping.

Me: Hopping?

Evelyn: Like a bunny.

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Evelyn: Who held me first when I was born?

Me: I wasn’t in the room. You would have to ask your mom that. I’m sure your mom or dad held you first.

Evelyn: I remember this. I remember my mom holding me.

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Evelyn: Poop duty.

Me: Huh?

Evelyn: Poop duty. You think Emma and Kate would like those words?

 

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Henry.

I don’t want to write this.

I don’t want a lot of things but I especially don’t want to write this. I suppose when you need the right words, you turn to a writer.

That’s me. A writer.

My name is Julie. My parents are Tom and Abbie. I have three younger siblings – Jessica, Jon, and Jenna.

Jenna.

I met Jenna when I was in Kindergarten. I remember the day she was born. I remember waiting in the waiting room with my two siblings and my aunt Mary. A male nurse ran in to tell us my mom had her baby. I asked if I had a brother or a sister and he said he didn’t remember. A few hours later, my dad handed me my baby sister. I still wonder how a nurse forgets such a thing.

Jenna and I are six years apart. That’s a huge gap when you’re growing up together. Jenna started Kindergarten when I headed to middle school. Jenna was in middle school when I left the house for college. Jenna became a first time aunt to my daughter, Emma, when she was still in high school.

But then Jenna married Steven. Jenna gave birth to Evelyn four years ago. And then she gave birth to June two years ago. I was in the room during June’s birth. Jenna looked up at me with the baby crying on her chest and whispered, “Her name is June Elaine. June Bug. She’s a bug too.” Jenna and Steven named June after my nickname “bug” and Jessica’s middle name, Elaine.

The six-year gap between Jenna and me doesn’t exist anymore. Jenna, Jessica, and I became the same age when we became mothers. Aunthood and motherhood – it’s the same with my sisters and me. All three of us gave birth to Emma, Kate, Gabby, Evelyn, Savannah, June, William, and Jenna’s little boy – due in June 2017.

We never knew the name of the little boy Jenna carried.

On May 13th, 2017, a nurse knocked on the waiting room door. Our heads shot up. Our swollen, blood-shot eyes stared. The nurse seemed flustered.

“Jenna is still in the operating room. We’re doing everything we can. Steven and Henry are on the 2nd level. I will escort you to down there. We offer our deepest condolences.”

Henry.

His name was Henry. Henry Steven Flanery.

They say babies can hear outside of the womb. Henry Steven Flanery must have known us all. He knew his sister, Evelyn, and her voice of song. He knew his other sister, June, and her screams of laughter. He heard his dad, Steven, take aim and fire at a box that exploded blue powder, announcing his gender to the world of Facebook. He heard our families cheers of joy. Henry knew us and he knew our love for him. Above all, he knew his mother, Jenna, the most.

I held Henry. He was beautiful inside his mom’s womb. The ears he heard us with were his mom’s ears. I held the same ears 29 years ago, only they were my baby sister’s ears. Henry weighed 5 pounds, 1 ounce. He was 18 inches long. He looked like a sleeping newborn. I stroked his face and touched his light brown hair. He had a small dimple on his chin. I held Henry but I never met him.

Henry wasn’t in my arms. He was two flights up in the hospital with his mom. I met an angel on May 13, 2017.

After five hours of waiting, one of Jenna’s five surgeons knocked on the waiting room door. Jenna was stable but in critical condition.

During the early hours of May 13th, Jenna started to throw up. She started a giant contraction that wouldn’t let go. A doctor would know this means the placenta tore away. Usually there is bleeding with this but Jenna didn’t bleed. Her pain and condition worsened and she went to the hospital around 6 a.m. By the time Jenna was at the hospital, the doctors couldn’t find a heartbeat. Henry passed away due to placental abruption and lack of oxygen.

There are three risk factors women generally have when the placenta tears away from the uterus – the woman is on drugs, the woman has high blood pressure, or the woman suffered trauma. Jenna did not have any of these. The five surgeons could not tell us why her placenta tore away at 8 months. We will never know why.

Jenna delivered Henry with ease. She was able to hold Henry and see his face. Then she started to bleed. The blood wouldn’t stop. Doctors had to put Jenna under while they worked to save her life. The surgeon tried every trick she knew to stop the bleeding. Jenna wouldn’t stop. It was like water flowing out of a sink. Jenna lost 8 liters of blood. She lost as much blood in a non-pregnant body. Not only was Jenna losing blood from her uterus, she was also filling up with blood in her body cavity. In order to save Jenna’s life, surgeons removed her uterus. The surgeon took her uterus to a table and searched everywhere for a hole. Jenna had to have been leaking; the surgeon was determined to know where. The surgeon couldn’t find the hole. This is another answer the doctors could not give us. We don’t know why Jenna bled outside of the uterus. We will never know why.

The five surgeons told us they have never seen a hemorrhage this catastrophic in 25 years of practice.

Jenna lived.

Henry never cried that day. He wasn’t in my arms. He was saving his mom.

There’s nothing I can do for Jenna but be her sister and I will write this story for her even though I don’t want to write this.

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Many people have asked what they can do to help. We set up a GoFundMe page for Jenna and Steven. If anything, we can relieve the financial stress with medical bills and funeral costs. If you would like to help my sister, please consider donating. 

The Flanery Family Go Fund Me

Thank you for your prayers and love as we mourn the loss of Henry and continue to support Jenna’s healing.

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No solicitation.

We have a problem in Suburbia.

Yesterday, my door bell rang three times. I did what I always do – I hid, peeked out the window, and let my two dogs bark at the door. It was two different solicitors selling two different products. One came back within 30 minutes which is totally weird, dude.

Adding a “No solicitation” sign has always been on my to-do list. It shot right up to the top of the list after I saw my neighbor’s version of “No solicitation.”

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Melissa is one hell of a woman. A woman after my own heart. Not only do I crave deep-dish pizza but I also love a good writing project to keep the solicitors in check.

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