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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The birth of Kate.

Good evening.

It’s May 7, 2017. Kate is eight years old today.

It’s story time here on the blog.

I can’t think of a better story than the birth of Kate. I’ve never written Kate’s birth story. I’m a little surprised at this because birth stories are one of those staple stories we, as parents, tell one another. Placentas, foot-long needles to the spine, a smear of poo on your baby as it slides out – I mean, there’s no filter when it comes to birth stories. No, I didn’t poo on Kate.

Before I begin the story, I will tell you I am feeling more pain now than I did eight years ago. That’s because my dumbass decided to book a dugout suite to watch the Kansas City Royals play the Cleveland Indians on the afternoon of May 6th. This normally wouldn’t be a huge deal but the group of people we joined are good storytellers and their stories always include a party bus, two stripper poles, fireball shots, and Prince’s power ballad, Pussy Control.

Back to my daughter’s day of birth –

Kate was due May 17, 2009. On the evening of May 6th, I felt contractions. I couldn’t sleep through them. Once the contractions were five minutes apart, we called my parents to pick up Emma and headed to the hospital around 2 am on May 7th.

I changed into a hospital gown and monitors were wrapped around my belly. The nurse checked my cervix and we waited.

Nurse: No change. You’re at a 3.

Me: No change?! They’re five minutes apart!

Nurse: I’ll wait another hour but if you don’t move, I might have to send you home. You are welcome to walk the hallways and see if that helps.

I walked the hallways with Scott. Another nurse pushed a baby burrito past us in a clear bassinet.

Nurse: Look at this little girl! Her daddy is a Sporting KC player!

Scott: Really? That’s cool!

I stared at the baby. And then looked at the mountain attached to me.

Me: Don’t let anyone upstage you, Kate. GET OUT.

I waddled back to my room. The nurse checked me again.

Nurse: No change. I’m sorry, Julie. I’m going to have to send you back home.

Scott: And do what?

Nurse: Come back when the contractions get stronger or if her water breaks.

Scott: If her water breaks at home, I’ll be delivering a baby at my own house. You better send me with a handbook on how to deliver a baby.

Me: SCOTT.

Nurse: You’ll be ok. It’s probably false labor.

Scott: No, you don’t understand. She’s Mexican. Last time she had a baby and her water broke, the baby just flew out of her vagina. And the doctor said she’ll be faster with this one. Get ready for us to be on the news with a highway birth.

Me: Scott, it’s fine. We’ll go.

I walked into the bathroom to change into my own clothes. I held on to the sink. The contraction took my breath away. I walked out to the nurse’s station where Scott was still arguing with the nurse. He was writing down notes on the hospital admittance form.

Scott: So I’ll take the shoelace and tie it around the umbilical cord?

Me: Oh my God. Let’s go.

Scott: This nurse is making a huge mistake. Sending us home like this when you’re clearly in labor.

Scott drove me home. The morning light was just starting to fill the sky with color. I was quiet. The contractions were intensifying.

Scott: I guess I’ll call my parents and tell them false alarm. They’re probably almost to Kansas City by now.

Me: Uh huh.

Scott: Why don’t they induce you? What kind of nurse is that?

Me: Mm.

For the next 30 minutes, Scott drove back to our home. We turned down our street. I felt liquid on my legs. I jumped out of the seat.

Me: SCOTT!

Scott: WHAT’S WRONG. WHAT.

Me: Scott. I think. I think my water broke. It’s all wet. Everything is soaked. Scott this can’t happen. Why did she break my water on our street? KATE!!

Scott: Are you sure? Are you sure your water broke?

Me: I know I didn’t pee. It’s gushing. Scott, I can’t stop it. I’m wearing your pajama pants. It’s all over my car! She’s not letting anyone upstage her.

Scott: What?

Me: Just go.

Scott turned around and floored it.

Scott: Damnit. We’re going to hit the morning rush hour traffic.

Scott started to make phone calls. I cried with the pain and the fear of my fast deliveries.

Scott: I DARE A COP TO PULL ME OVER. THIS IS THIS STUPID NURSE’S FAULT. I’M GOING TO FIND HER AND RAISE HELL.

Me: Don’t. Don’t kill us. Scott, you need to hurry.

Another 30 minutes passed and Scott pulled up to the hospital again. A nurse ran out of the emergency department with a wheel chair. I stood up out of the car. Water gushed again. I cried.

Nurse: Yep, your water broke. Let’s go. Dad, park the car and meet her in labor and delivery.

My room sat untouched since I left an hour before. Another nurse walked in.

Nurse: Yep, that’s amniotic fluid. Go change into a gown in the bathroom. If you need to, go ahead and pee too.

I sat on the toilet and peed. I wiped and looked inside the toilet. White flakes were everywhere.

Me: HEY! What is all this? Is something wrong? There’s white flakes in my pee!

The nurse walked in.

Nurse: That’s amniotic fluid. It’s normal. Nice and clear. That’s good.

Me: Oh. Hold on, another contraction. Ok. What happened to the other nurse in here?

Nurse: We had a shift change.

Me: Oh, thank God. No ass ripping.

Nurse: What?

Me: Nothing.

Nurse: I’m going to check you and if you’re far enough, we’ll call the epidural team in here.

Scott arrived. I was at a 6 and the epidural team wheeled their cart in. I finally sat in my bed, relieved I couldn’t feel anything anymore. The nurse walked in again to check me.

Nurse: Wow. You really go fast, don’t you? You’re ready to push!

Me: But I didn’t even get to close my eyes.

Nurse: I’ll call your doctor.

The hospital staff prepped the room. Lights came down out of the ceiling. Stirrups were placed in front of me.

Nurse: Bad news. Your doctor is stuck in traffic.

Scott: Are you kidding me? Can’t one of you deliver her?

Nurse: We could but legally can’t. I’ll call a doctor off the floor. Oh, honey. This baby is falling out.

Another nurse ran in and held Kate’s head. The nurse ran out of the room and ten seconds later a female doctor walked in. She put her hands up, like she was being held hostage.

Doctor: I don’t deliver babies.

Me: WHAT!

Doctor: I didn’t sign up for this. I’m not an obstetrician. I’m a D.O.

Me: You’re not a doctor? What the hell is a D.O.?

I looked at the nurse holding Kate’s head. My legs were spread as far as they could in the angry D.O.’s face.

Oh my God. She’s scared of my big vagina.

Scott: Looks like you’re delivering one now. Someone better catch my daughter or I will.

Nurse: We’ll talk you through it.

I didn’t push. Kate fell into the doctor-but-not-an-obstetrician-doctor’s hands. Kate cried. The nurse took Kate and put her on my chest.

Me: Oh, Kate.

Scott: Hi, Kate! Happy Birthday.

Me: Scott, her hair! She has blonde hair.

My real doctor ran in as the nurse helped Scott cut the cord.

Me: Oh, thank God. Don’t let that woman near me with a needle and thread.

Doctor: I’m so sorry. The traffic. I’ll finish you up. We’re going to deliver the placenta. You might have to push again.

A nurse took Kate away.

Doctor: Beautiful. Placenta looks good. I’m going to stitch you up. What’s your daughter’s name?

Me: Kate. Her name is Kate Audrey.

Scott: Hey! I won the baby football pot! It’s 5-7-9! And 8:30 am!

Me: SCOTT!

Happy birthday, Kate! May 7, 2009 at 8:27 a.m. – you never did let that other baby in the hospital upstage you. You always have the best stories.

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The letter Z.

Ah, the letter Z. I thought I’d never see the day.

It’s the last day of April. It’s the last day of the 26-day A to Z Writing challenge. This challenge forced me to constrain each post within a letter. I wrote each post around 9 pm at night, not knowing exactly what I would write about until my fingers hit the keyboard.

There are some posts that make me cringe re-reading them, such as the letter L and the letter G. I could have written them funnier if I had more time to think.

Some posts did statistically well. The letter R is the most popular. My personal favorite is the letter M.

Before I get to Z, let’s recap.

The letter A – Awe.

The letter B – Baby Got Back.

The letter C – Chocolate.

The letter D – Drag queen.

The letter E – Emma.

The letter F – Fifth grade.

The letter G – Grocery stores.

The letter H – Hairy butts.

The letter I – Ice cream.

The letter J – Jockstrap.

The letter K – Kate.

The letter L – Lead foot driving.

The letter M – Motherfucker.

The letter N – Nice.

The letter O – Oh Emma, Oh Kate.

The letter P – Parenting.

The letter Q – Questions.

The letter R – Revenge.

The letter S – Scott.

The letter T – Thank you.

The letter U – Underwear.

The letter V – Vodka in Preschool.

The letter W – Wife.

The letter X – “You are here” X.

The letter Y – Yellowstone National Park.

The letter Z.

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.

You may think of Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah as an expression of happiness. Or due to its sappy usage by Disney you may think of Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah as an expression of happiness in a sarcastic way.

When, in fact, Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah is a song from Disney’s 1946 movie, Song of the South. It won an Academy Award for Best Original Song.

Speaking of Mickey Mouse – I got a story for you. I always have a story. I hoard stories until it’s the perfect time to tell you I got hit on by Mickey Mouse. 

Yes. You heard me.

My family is a “Disney Family.” From 2nd grade to college, I went to Disney World every other November. It’s the only vacation destination I knew growing up – Orlando, Florida. I’m not complaining. I was one of few kids in my school that went to Disney World every other year.

And then I wasn’t a kid anymore and Mickey Mouse hit on me.

I was an awkward early teenager eating dinner with my parents, three younger siblings, and my aunt Mary at a Disney World restaurant. It was one of those restaurants where the characters stop by your table to sign autographs and smile for pictures. All communication is through hand gestures and body language.

Goofy stopped by and posed with my brother’s Goofy hat. Pluto stopped by and pinched my baby sister’s cheeks. And then Mickey Mouse walked up.

Mickey stopped dead in his tracks and stared at me. He held his heart and got down on one knee.

Oh my God, my dad is right here, you pervert behind the mask.

Mickey got up and walked up next to my seat. He rested his Mouse arms on the table and cupped his Mouse chin in his white gloves and stared at me. I ignored all fake-eye contact. I picked at my chicken as the family laughed. Mickey took a piece of my chicken and held it up like he was going to feed me.

Oh, hell no, Mickey. You’re not feeding me.

I took the piece of chicken from Mickey’s hand and fed myself. My dad clapped. Mickey held his heart again.

“Mickey’s in love with Julie!”

I glared at my brother. Mickey pet my hand.

You sick pervert.

By this time the rest of the restaurant was watching because Mickey is the star when you’re at Disney World. Mickey wouldn’t even look at my siblings or my parents. Kids yelled for him. He ignored the kids. Mickey stood up. He knew every person in the that restaurant had their eyes on him.

He put his hand out, making it clear he wanted me to stand too.

“Do it! Do it for Mickey Mouse!”

“Mickey’s in love!”

“Shut up, JON! Mom, help me!”

My mom and my aunt laughed.

I stood up.

GODDAMNIT. 

Mickey pointed at his nose.

I shook my head. I didn’t understand what he was doing. The wait staff gathered around.

Great.

Mickey pointed at his nose again.

“I don’t get it.”

One of the wait staff said they think Mickey wants a kiss.

“WHAT!! NO! WHO’S UNDER THIS MASK?! DAD, STOP LAUGHING. YOU DON’T KNOW WHO IS UNDER THIS MASK. SINCE WHEN DOES MICKEY ASK FOR KISSES? DAD, HELP ME!”

My dad had tears in his eyes from laughing so hard. He couldn’t even talk.

“Give Mickey Mouse a kiss!”

“Mickey Mouse is hitting on Julie!”

“Do it! Do it!”

I hate my life.

I kissed Mickey Mouse on the nose.

Pervert.

Mickey’s nose wiggled up and down and side-to-side. Mickey started clapping. He held his heart again and walked off.

Finally.

“That wasn’t even funny. Is everyone done? Let’s go.”

We finished up our dinner. I stood up, getting ready to go.

Fucking Minnie Mouse showed up out of nowhere. She stomped over to my family’s table. Her hands were on her hips. The restaurant fell silent.

OH. MY. GOD.

My eyes got huge.

My siblings’ mouths dropped.

“MINNIE MOUSE! UH-OH! THIS IS GUNNA GET GOOD!”

“SHUT UP! UGH! THIS IS SO ANNOYING!”

Minnie pushed her nose in my face.

“I didn’t….I didn’t do anything.”

Minnie threw her hands up in frustration. My family got up and we left the restaurant.

I let my family have it.

“Oh yeah, real cute. Dad, why are cheering on some pervert under the mask? Why didn’t anyone say anything? This is Disney World! Since when does Mickey hit on teenagers?! This is so embarrassing. I can never come back here.”

“Yeah, because Minnie is here ready to kick your ass.”

“UGH!”

One by one, we filed on to the escalator that took us down to the pavilion level. My mom yelled.

“LOOK! Look at Mickey!! He’s coming outside of the restaurant!”

Everyone turned around and looked up. Mickey stood at the top of the escalator and blew his nose with a napkin. His head hung down and he cried. He took the napkin and waved a sad little wave.

Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah. to the man behind the mask. 

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The letter Y.

I had another piece I wrote on this rainy Saturday. It was about staying young. Then I decided it sucked and thought this one is much better.

Originally written July 23, 2015.

The Land of the Free.

The letter Y.

Yellowstone National Park.

Raw America.

Untouched land, sitting four miles over a volcanic hot spot. Geysers spew. The bigs roam free – elk, bison, moose, wolves and the great grizzly bear. The only shots fired are with the click of a shutter speed. Winters are brutal. Summers don’t exist.

The Burton family decided we would take a break from our family vacation in the Florida Keys. We headed north to a place we have never been. The land of the free. America. Old Faithful. Red, white and blue.

Red, white and blue flashing in my rearview mirror somewhere near hour 8 on our road trip to Yellowstone.

South Dakota Highway Patrol Officer: Ma’am, the reason I stopped you today is did you know you drove past me on the highway and didn’t move over? Did you even see me?

I glared at our friends’ car driving by, honking, with a camera phone out the window.

Me: Uhhhh…Yes. I saw you. I guess I wasn’t paying attention?

Officer: You do know if you see flashing lights on the side of the highway, you need to move over.

Me: Yeah, yeah I knew that. My mother-in-law got a ticket for that once.

I dug through my wallet for my driver’s license.

Officer: Do you have registration and insurance papers?

Me: Um, this is a rental. I don’t really know…

Scott handed me our rental paperwork.

Officer: That will do. Ma’am, I’m going to have to ask you to step out of your vehicle.

Me: Wait, what?

Officer: Can you follow me to my car? I want to explain the law in detail with you. It’s loud on this highway and I want to talk to you.

Me: Huh? You want me to get out of my car. Walk along the side of the highway. And then sit in your car?

Officer: Yes, ma’am.

I glanced at Scott. He looked confused.

Me: Uh, ok.

I walked in front of the officer.

Officer: Just sit in the front seat there. That will be fine.

I looked over his car to make sure it was a highway patrol car. I looked back at Scott. I opened the passenger door and sat. The driver’s door slammed shut.

Officer: So where are you headed?

Me: Yellowstone.

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Officer: You have quite a drive from Kansas.

Me: It’s taking longer now.

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Officer: Let’s see Julie. Burton. Are you related to the Burton Snowboards?

Me: Nope.

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Officer: And who is that man up there? Your husband, I assume?

Me: Yeah, his name is Scott.

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Officer: And those are your kids?

Me: Yes, two little girls.

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Officer: I see. And what does your husband do?

Me: He’s Vice President at a medical software company.

Officer: And what do you do, Julie?

Me: I’m a writer.

The officer stopped punching numbers in his computer.

Officer: Oh. Uh, so does this mean I’m going to end up in the papers or something?

Me: Yep.

Officer: So back to the law you broke. I want to explain to you that whenever you see flashing lights on the side of the road, you need to move over a lane. Especially on a highway. This is a four lane highway. You need to move to the next lane. If this was a two lane highway, you would slow down to twenty miles under the speed limit. The goal is not to injure anyone along the side of the road here.

Me: Kinda like when I walked along side the highway?

Officer: I pulled you over for breaking the law, ma’am. You need to move over a lane and make way for others when you see a car pulled over to the side.

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Me: I believe I was more concerned about my speed at the time.

Officer: I clocked you at 81 in an 80. Do you understand the law you broke, Julie?

Me: Yep. I understood it when you were at my window too.

Officer: So where are you staying at in Yellowstone?

Me: Montana. My in-laws rented a house.

Officer: Oh, no camping then?

Me: Not this time.

Officer: I took my wife and kids out there to camp. Watch out for the bison. They’re everywhere. And they’re dangerous too.

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Me: That’s what I heard.

Officer: It’s crazy how many animals you will see.

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Officer: And the bears. Oh man. I won’t camp there again. They get a little too close. You have to keep your food far from your tent. It’s not my thing.

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Officer: So what are you guys going to do if you’re not camping?

Me: Oh, I don’t know. I definitely want to white water raft. I love the thrill of danger and going really fassst uhhhhm… I’ve never done it before.

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Officer: Yeah, that’s pretty fun.

Me: Oh! And I really want to try fly fishing.

Officer: Really? Fly fish? Not many women do that. Man, I could never get my wife to fish.

Me: Yeah, fishing is our husband/wife thing, I guess. We just got back from the Bahamas last week. And we got an invite to fish in Costa Rica with some friends. We went to Dominican Republic last year. I caught my first white marlin. So this fly fishing will be interesting.

Officer: REALLY?! A marlin? Yeah, I want to fly fish. But I decided that will take up too much of my time. I’ll just wait for retirement.

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Me: Well, at least you have some pretty views here in South Dakota. Is that where I am at?

Officer: Yes. Ok, world traveler. I printed out your citation here.

Me: Damnit.

Officer: You can mail the fine to this address in South Dakota. It’s not due until mid-August. That should give you enough time to enjoy your vacation and get back to Kansas. If you would like to plead not-guilty, you must appear at this courthouse at this time.

Me: I’m not coming back to South Dakota.

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Officer: If you would sign here for me, saying you understand you broke the law.

I signed.

Officer: Here is your driver’s license back. And you’re free to go.

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I opened the door and slid a foot out.

Officer: Have fun in Yellowstone!

Me: Thank you.

I slammed the door. I opened my driver’s car door. Then slammed the door again.

Scott: What the hell took so long?

Me: I said thank you, Scott.

Scott: What?

Me: He gave me a ticket and I said thank you. I hate it when I do that.

Scott: You got a ticket? How much? You were in there for 20 minutes! Did he do anything to you? I was about to get out and see what was going on!

Me: I don’t want to talk about it. No, he didn’t do anything. He just talked my ear off. Thank you. Jesus. Thank you, officer. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you, Yellowstone.

Thank you, Yellowstone.


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Thank you.

 

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The letter X.

There are few words in the English language that start with the letter x.

The letter x is more of a symbol than an actual letter.

X means kisses.

X means “sign here.”

X means multiply.

X means “marks the spot.”

X means 10 in Roman numeral form.

X means “you are here.”

The letter X.

X – You are here.

You are here in my writing room, on my laptop screen.

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When we built our house, Scott suggested I have my own room to focus on my writing. He calls it my writing room. It’s behind the kitchen. It’s really just a smaller living room with its own fireplace. But the room echoes what I love.

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That’s my white marlin I caught off the coast of the Dominican Republic. He looks much bigger in Kansas. He’s made out of fiberglass. My writing room does not smell like dead fish.

I just mentioned you’re in Kansas. Overland Park, Kansas. It’s not as bad as you think. Look at any of those “best cities” lists and Overland Park is always on there. Kansas is lovely.

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That’s a real sunset in my backyard without filters. No one really talks about the times heaven opens up over Kansas. Everyone stops and stares. It’s a secret every Kansan knows but never brags about. But I’ll brag. I don’t care.

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This is not my backyard but I had to include a field of Kansas sunflowers. Did you know the sunflower turns its face towards the sun? That’s why they’re always looking the same way. Sunflowers know about the sunsets too.

I don’t know what you look like. I guess it depends on what I’m writing. But most of the time you’re female. You are probably married with kids. But that’s just a guess. I’m not sure how you found yourself here in my writing room but I’m glad you did. There’s always someone to talk to in my writing room.

It used to be strange, writing to people I’ve never met. It’s hard to judge your thoughts when I can’t see you or hear you conversing back. Maybe that’s one reason I feel like this room can be too much “me” when I also want to hear about you. I worry about that – I don’t want to seem egotistical. As much as I write, I am a good listener.

I am assuming you will stop by when your schedule allows and tell me a little about yourself.

But now I must go. I have a friend picking me up for a yoga class in about 30 minutes. The class is called Namaste and Chardonnay.  I’m going for the chardonnay.

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The letter W.

Hi, I’m Julie. I’m married to Scott. We have two daughters, Emma and Kate.

We are the Burtons.

Unless it’s September through December.

Hi, I’m Julie. I’m married to Christine. We have three daughters – Emma, Kate, and Elle and two sons – Wyatt and Lane.

We are the Burton-Bentons.

The letter W.

Wife.

I met Christine years ago at a Eric Church/Kenny Chesney concert. We ran into each other in the parking lot of Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. We realized we were neighbors, of all things. She told me my house was on the way to school and she could tell I had a husband who hunts. She said her husband is a hunter too.

We became good friends after that fateful meeting in the Arrowhead parking lot. My first time in Christine’s house lead me to reach for my cell phone to text Scott, – “You need to come over here and meet these people. She showed me their room of death and they have a deer feeder in their backyard. Get over here NOW.”

The next week, Christine posted a picture on Facebook. It was a picture of a bottle of No-Scent soap with the caption “Fall has arrived. My house stinks.”

That’s when I fell in love.

I now pronounce you hunting wife and hunting wife.

Our husbands are outdoorsmen. If you don’t know what that means – it means they hunt. A lot. It’s not just a hobby. Their soul belongs in the woods. If we lived during the 1800s, we would be the fattest in all the land of Kansas. I never thought I’d meet a man with more hunting stories than Scott. Yet, Christine found that man and married him. I couldn’t believe my luck in such a friend – a wife, excuse me. A wife. 

Christine and I put our heads together to show the world our lives as hunting wives. They’re in the form of memes because that’s all I do now. We don’t lead an easy life but in the end, we all live happily ever after.

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The letter V.

When you write about your life on a blog for eight years, the stories start piling up. Some are bad, some are good, and some are just there to save you from a hard letter during the A to Z Writing Challenge. I already wrote about the difficulty of the letter V.

The letter V.

Originally posted February 9, 2011. Emma would have been a 4-year-old preschooler and Kate would have been about 18 months.

Emma has show and tell on Friday. This week’s theme is “something that starts with a V.”

Could there be a harder letter? X, maybe? I sent a group text to my immediate family for help. This is what they replied with:

Vacuum

Violin

Victoria’s Secret catalog

Heidi’s Vase – Heidi is my parent’s dead dog sitting in an urn, not a vase. Nice try.

Vibrator

Vino

Vodka

Victoria, Posh Spice doll

Veal

Vaccine

Veil

Viagra

Just bring something purple and call it violet.

Voluptuous breasts in a magazine

Vagina

Vaseline 

Her Aunt Jessica – her Valentine.

Vehicle

Vicks Vapor Rub

I can’t send Emma to school with a Victoria’s Secret catalog or my parent’s dead dog’s ashes. I’m going to go with my brother’s suggestion and have her bring “something purple and call it violet.”

The letter U.

I’ve been waiting for the letter U.

I wanted to write a post on this but never found the inspiration. It’s a personal subject matter. It’s one of those subjects that creeps up at the age of 35 and it makes me wonder if I’m doing it right.

The only way I know if I’m doing it right is if I pull your pants down.

The letter U.

Underwear.

What kind of underwear do you wear?

I mean, obviously, if you’re a guy you will have a completely different answer than what I’m wearing. Scott wears boxer briefs. He always looks good in them. He has the perfect bubble butt and you should really check him out sometime. He could be an underwear model.

I’m 35 and still wearing a string up my butt.

Ladies, are we still wearing thongs?

I started wearing thongs in high school because my best friend, Patti, wore thongs. It felt weird for a few weeks but then it didn’t feel like anything anymore. The stringier, the better.

High school Julie, college Julie, just married Julie: Thongs were acceptable and encouraged.

Pregnant Julie and postpartum Julie: I was still in my early 20s. I didn’t know any better. In fact, a string up my pregnant butt made me feel like I could still fit into something. I left the hospital in a big ‘ole pair of granny panties with an ice pack stuffed down them. I thought my thong days were destroyed with the rest of my body.

Nope. I bounced back to my old ways.

Pregnant Julie again: The string up my pregnant butt was stretched even more. To threads.

And now, age 35 Julie: All I have are thongs. I have thongs from high school. I don’t even know how they survived 18 years. Holy shit. 18 years? I’m too old for thongs. Am I too old for thongs?

I tried “normal” bikini cut underwear. I can’t do it. It’s too much fabric. I feel like I’m wearing two pairs of pants and who needs pants anyway. At what age do women stop wearing thongs? I’m sure I’ll hang on to my drawer ‘o thongs from 1999 and roll those right into the nursing home in 40 years.

But really – what kind of underwear do you wear? I’m curious. I can’t exactly pull your pants down. But I sorta pulled my own down and that’s why I never wrote about this until the letter U showed up.

Oh but before I leave, it’s not called panties. It’s called underwear.

___________

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