Monday, July 28, 2014


"I have a little bit of a sore throat," I announced to my husband today.


"Did you know that Ebola is a thing again? What if I caught Ebola while we were in Miami? Miami seems like the type of place that I could catch Ebola."

"Ebola, Ashley? Are you serious?"

"I'm just saying. No one thinks they're going to get Ebola! Or Meningitis. What if it's Meningitis? I just read an article about how no one thinks they have Meningitis, and that's the whole problem."

"I'm sorry your throat hurts."

"I don't believe you. You're going to feel bad when I do have Meningitis."

A few hours later, I announced that my chest hurt in a weird way. "You know how I think my sternum pops?"

"Your sternum?"

"Yes, right here? In yoga? During back bends? It pops?" I reminded him.


"It hurts in a weird way right now."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"You don't seem very sorry. What if I'm having a heart attack?"

He put his head in his hands and started to laugh until his eyes watered. "Oh, Ashley. I do love you. I don't know whether to laugh or cry but I love you. A heart attack?"

"Chest pain is one of the symptoms. Why are you laughing? You're going to feel terrible if I am having a heart attack!"

"I'll take my chances. I guess I'll just have to live with the fact that I'm a horrible person if you do die."

"No one thinks their wife is going to have a heart attack in five minutes."

"Especially not when she's smiling and speaking just fine."

"I'm just saying it hurts in a weird way."

"And I'm sorry about that."

"In a 'I might die' kind of way."

"You had Ebola earlier."

"Maybe it's related to that! Maybe it's another symptom!"

"Maybe you should go to bed early tonight."

I think he's just tired of me.

But I did quarantine myself in my room really early tonight, just in case.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Kid Snippets

I spend a ridiculous amount of time in parking lots or at stoplights, hurriedly entering clips of conversation into the notes section of my phone. So often, these bits and pieces never make it to an actual blog post and I feel bad about that but also not quite motivated enough to craft them into something interesting. So here are a few of those lost snippets:

"Why would you get to be the deciding factor?" I asked little kid when overhearing Big Kid's pleas to be the first to use the computer that day.

"I love when you say that, mom." Big Kid interrupted.

"When I say what?"

"Deciding factor. It's just really classy, so much better than the word choice. Deciding factor...yeah, that just sounds really good, two excellent words to use together."

It's so nice to have another word nerd in the house.

While listening to the radio:

"I knew you were trouble when you walked in -- she better be talking about herself! That girl is nothing but trouble, I don't even know why anyone would date her, knowing she's going to write trash talking songs about them later when they break up."

"Who is it?" I asked, not smarter than a 5th grader when it comes to pop culture.

"Taylor Swift."

"Who would break up with HER?" asked little kid. "She's totally rich. I wouldn't even care if she wrote mean songs about me, you can deal with some stuff for that kind of money."


"Max is my favorite boy lately." I said.

"Mooooom! Why Max?" little kid protested.

"He's sweet, he loves me all of the time, he rarely asks for anything. It doesn't mean I love you less, Max just gets to be the favorite this week."

"Great. Now I'm living dad's life."


little kid walked into the family room, bounced a Nerf football off of the side of an unsuspecting Big Kid's head and yelled, "Hash tag, deserved it!" as he continued walking into the next room.

I wasn't even mad. It was hilarious.

(Big Kid was mad.)


"Big Kid, you know why you don't like mustard?" little kid asked. "Mus-TURD," he finished before Big Kid could answer. He then repeated the joke 3 different times over the next two days.

I don't even know if those are funny to anyone else, but I don't want to forget them.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Okay That's Enough

Mr. Ashley yelled at the kids earlier (I was going to re-phrase that so it sounded better, but to hell with it, sometimes we yell a little) because they barely looked up from their devices when I walked in the door and asked them about their day. He talked to them about listening generously and participating in a conversation instead of being so absorbed in your own activity that you can't even pretend to be polite.

Then he left to run errands.

Then I heard the entire history of the Nintendo franchise from Big Kid. A full forty minutes of character evolution, highs and lows in design and ideas that were either destined to fail or did because of bad timing or competition that should have never been considered competition at all if people could only appreciate true video game design craftsmanship.

God damn, this generous listening business is hard work.

Then we moved on to Weird Al Yankovich's latest comeback and some of the highlights of his career. I couldn't make it up if I tried. 

I was appreciative of the attempt at first but I had a headache and, let's face it, even in tip top shape, this is just too much. Even for the best, most generous listener.

I finally told him I had a little bit of work to catch up on since I was out of town today but that it was really nice talking to him, and we happily went our separate ways.

I'm fine with that. It was a good start.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Banned Breeds

The other day we were talking about how our dog, Max, was found roaming around an industrial area with two other dogs that were obviously younger than him and looked half like him. We often speculate on what his prior situation was and what his relationship is to the puppies. I think he's their dad, even though that seems like an odd dog set up--that the dad would end up with the babies and no mom in sight. I don't know, it's a mystery and will remain one. I am Facebook friends with the people who found him and they have the other two, is there dog DNA testing? Would Maury get involved here?

The kids aren't so sure that he's their dad, and think they're just a rag tag gang of shaggy street dogs.

"They don't even look like him," little kid said during the latest conversation.

"They look kind of like him. Like maybe he had babies with, like, some sort of little shitzu--"

Big Kid gasped and little kid burst out laughing.

"No! No! Shitzu is the name of an actual breed of dog. I'm not cursing!"

"It just sounded so bad," Big Kid said, beginning to laugh.

"Shitzu. Shitzu. Shitzu. It sounds awesome," little kid said. "Shitzu."

"Knock it off. Don't make me ban that word." I once had to temporarily ban the word 'potato.'

"You can't ban types of dogs. What if I see a shitzu?" This child has spent every day of his 7 years practicing his negotiating skills in some way.

"You don't."

"It's such a great word. Shitzu is the type of word people should write on the back of their cars."

"On the backs of their cars?"

"Yes, everyone should do it. Shitzu."

"Stop saying 'shitzu', for real."

"You have to ruin all jokes, little kid! God forbid this family have any fun before you have to ruin it for EVERYBODY!" Big kid, always serious, started. "The Swedish Fish joke is all we have left and she wouldn't even let you talk about that for, like, a week or something!" 

Rita's Italian Ice once texted me every day for weeks to tell me they had the Swedish Fish flavor that day. They have it everyday, apparently. All attempts to stop it were ignored and the boys liked to say, "We haaaaaaave Sweeeedish Fiiiiish tooooodaaaay!" in a really creepy voice every time my text message alarm would sound...several times a day, for un-Rita related texts, too. It was hilarious and almost as annoying as the text messages after a while.

"Shitzu is a BREED of a dog, it's not even a joke, it's a real thing!" little kid insisted. "Mom, what if I see a real shitzu? Tell him I can say it then."

"If you can actually find and identify a shitzu then I guess I'll let it slide in that context, but otherwise, no, you're not allowed to say that dog breed. You've already proven that you can't be trusted to use it responsibly."

"Oh, I'm going to find some, trust me." 

So let's not be surprised when little kid grows up and gets a shitzu, complete with a matching "shitzu" bumper sticker.

Note from Ashley: It has since come to my attention that it is actually spelled "shih tzu"--who the hell knew? That actually would look better on the back of a car, he might be on to something here.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Clone Wars

"Remember how they were planning on cloning a woolly mammoth?" Big Kid asked.

"Yep. Haven't heard much else about it, though," I said.

"What if they could do that with people? Take DNA from people long ago and make new ones?"

"They probably could, but ethically it would be a nightmare. It would be hard to pull it off publicly. Ethics is like the difference between right and wrong, people would feel this was wrong."

"Yeah, because then everyone would want you to clone someone they lost and it would be crazy!" little kid chimed in.

"People would be like, 'Obama, I miss my dad and I demand you bring him back!' and it would mess everything up and they'd be mad at Obama even though it was their idea. But it would be nice for people."

"Yeah, but if someone replicated you exactly and made a baby that was identical to your DNA, but that baby grew up with entirely different experiences and memories--would that be you? In any way?" I asked.

"Hmmm. Good point. But what if you could somehow recreate the same life?"

"How could you? Even little social interactions could throw something off. Even if you put them in the same scene, it would be a different time and different people--there would be no way to recreate the old life exactly. Maybe if you could download memories and experiences but we can't. So you would just raise a baby that looked exactly like your dad, which would be pretty weird."

"True. What if you brought Elvis back and he had no interest in music?"

"That would be pretty crazy. He'd have a lot to live up to," I said.

"What if we brought Adolf Hitler back?" little kid tuned back in. (Have I mentioned little kid's obsession with World War II? It's a little creepy. He also thinks China's government is pretty bad ass and can't be convinced otherwise. little kid loves dictators. I have no idea how or why this happened.)

"What if we brought Hitler back and he wasn't a jerk? What if he fell in love with a Jewish woman?" Big Kid asked.

"He wanted to be an artist. What if he was a successful artist instead? What if his life just took a different path? It's weird to think that at some point all evil people were just innocent little kids." I said.

"That is weird. That the Fuhrer himself was just an innocent little boy who wanted to be an artist one day. It's kind of sad. Everyone was just a little baby at some point."

"Maybe Hitler just wanted to make the Jewish people feel some of the pain that he felt inside about art school," little kid offered.

"Eh, I don't know, I don't think so. He was, no doubt about it, a horrible guy--maybe at some point he wasn't, but what he did was really inexcusable, we can't afford to have a lot of sympathy for someone like that."

"But maybe if we can clone him and raise him to not hate Jews, maybe it would help balance everything out. But if we did that, I don't think we should tell the new Adolf Hitler about the old Adolf Hitler and that could be tricky. It would just make him feel bad, though." little kid speculated.

"Yeah. Hopefully. Don't think we'll clone him, though."

"But what if we did?"

And right then we arrived at the birthday party they were attending...and I was glad. Although these conversations are amusing and enlightening, they can go on FOREVER. FOOOOOOREVER. And I just don't freaking know. Just like I don't know what would happen if you dropped someone wearing a suit of armor into a tornado from an airplane, I simply don't know how the life of a new and improved Adolf Hitler would go. Also, don't care.

Parenthood comes with a ton (A TON) of unanswered questions. Thank God for drop off parties.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

'til the End

These were my grandpa's best friends. I met them at his funeral on Thursday.

Of the three of them, two were nearly deaf and one can barely speak but their friendship has spanned years, has been the witness of this physical decline, and has persevered in spite of it.

I was doing really well with my grandpa's passing. I figured I was just all out of emotions for the year and that I know, really well, that people die. My brain had decided that, from now on, that shitty fact of life was going to be strictly business...right up until the little one was wheeled in to my grandpa's funeral on an office chair, after running out of energy in the parking lot.

He was a wild sight, but sharp and focused and sincere as he met our family. Then he got up to speak, but he's the one who can't speak, and he delivered the most beautiful whispered eulogy that no one other than my cousin and I heard. He was funny and authentic and truly, heart-wrenchingly sad.

And that slayed me.

The other got up and shared tales of their years of shared breakfasts and how my grandpa hated his jokes. He was "the young one" in his late 70s. During any pause in the ceremony, he would kid that the one who couldn't speak would like to speak again. The duo was dark comedy genius and I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry.

I met his other friends--tiny, wizened, filmy-eyed people whose creased faces creased more as they openly cried. They were simultaneously hardened and softened by life and their many years. It was amazing and it also sucked. My biggest consolation lately while reviewing morbid thoughts is that some people live to a ripe old age but now I'm thinking maybe that's not such a great end either. My grandpa was going to be 93 next month, and I console people with that as they try to console me, but it's really not much consolation.

Those old people spoke of their memories of lost friends and spouses, and their deep sadness made me realize that, unfortunately and fortunately, there is no such thing as being an "old pro" at grieving.

(I want to punctuate that sentence with "Fuck" but grandpa wouldn't like that.)

This trio down to two really did me in. They also made me realize the true value of friendship.

One of the most surprising aspects of motherhood was how incredibly isolating it can seem (and maybe this can be said of adulthood in general, I'm not certain since the two went hand in hand for me. I became a mother at 25 and I only consider those older than 25 to be official adults). When I needed friends the most, I had the hardest time making them. I can now say with certainty, through a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work, that I have a few friends who I can count on to roll into my funeral on an office chair full of whispered memories 60 years from now.

I urge you to look for that and cultivate that, and if it's not readily available, to keep looking. I urge you to be the most you that you can be, because that's how you find those kinds of friends--the type who can spend years contentedly together despite no longer being able to hear what the other has to say.

Also, be nice to old people. They're dealing with a lot of shit.

So that's what I've learned for the week. However, I'm officially done learning life lessons for the year--seriously, it's enough already. Please let's get back to poop jokes.