life on the run

when you read the title of this post you might assume that i write "life on the run" to mean "life on the go," or "life as a busy mom," or even "my life is so busy and important, and it just never stops..." i don't mean any of those things.

sure, life is busy and all. annalee is in kindergarten, marlie is in pre-school, harper is a maniac, my fetus won't let me sleep... life is sure busy. but, that is not what this blog is about. when i say "life on the run," i mean life on the run. i am talking about my life as a fugitive. the following information is all factual, unless it is used to make a case against me in a court of law. then, it is actually just a fun and lighthearted blog post with no actual facts.

ya see it goes back far, and it goes back ugly. but, i am not going to relive my whole criminal life for all to see. i am just going to start with the most recent criminal activity... which took it's root in pennsylvania. i moved to PA about 8 years ago. i moved there to go to school at e@stern univer$ity. i became a resident of PA to decrease the tuition amount at a local community college so i could take some inexpensive summer credits. i never actually enrolled at the community college, so fat lot a good that did me. but, it was all worth it when i saw the picture on my pennsylvania driver's license.

my first driver's license was issued to me in michigan. i was 16 years old, and a poor driver. but, worse than my driving was my picture on the license. i had wet hair (which for me translates to a flat wet look on top, and frizzy bush-fest near the ends of my hair. picture a frizzy pyramid, and that was my head. i call it my mufasa.) i was also unusually pale, almost yellowy. and my eyes were completely closed. i looked like a jaundiced mufasa in a choma.

not a big deal to have a bad license picture right? well, mostly right. that statement is true for every driver's license you have, EXCEPT that first one. the first one is the one all your friends ask to see. that FIRST driver's license is the one you proudly (or shamefully) pull out of your crispy, fake-leather wallet to display to your other bad-driver friends. it was traumatic.

so, imagine my joy at seeing a normal-colored, awake, okay-haired version of myself in my pennsylvania driver's license. not to mention, the words "organ donor" were printed in green, right underneath my picture. in the picture i am wearing a sweater in the exact shade of green. it really did look like a custom match job. i was pleased as punch.

then i moved to new york. i refused to trade in my license. it was a good picture, yes. but it was not vanity alone that prevented me from surrendering my license. there was also a little voice reminding me that PA was a swing state and if i stayed a PA resident, i could vote in PA via absentee ballot. (hey - every vote counts. rock the vote.) that voice was small though, and the voice of the custom-matched license was loud and proud. so, i kept my PA license, despite my new york residency. then, after time... a LOT of time... that license expired.

new york law states this: if a resident of another state moves to new york and does not surrender their license in exchange for a NY state license... and if the out-of state license has expired more than 12 months ago, then you must be subjected to humiliation far worse than what you may/may not have experienced when showing a bad driver's license photo to your friends at 16 years of age. oh, and you will be sorry. very, very sorry.

yes, my license expired over a year ago... yes, i have been driving without a "legal" license for a very long time... yes... i have crouched behind the steering wheel in fear of police officers every time one passes me. (i feel like i can really understand the fear that fugitives experience when living life on the run. it really is terrifying) ...yes, i have gotten pulled over during the time in which i have been driving illegally... no, i have never been ticketed... yes, i am proud of how my charm rescued me from jailtime... no, i never cried or flirted my way out of a ticket, thank you very much.

here is the punishment that the wicked ladies of the dmv have brought down upon my criminal behavior:
  1. i must get an "official" copy of my birth certificate. (apparently i wasn't really born unless i pay $45 for the county office of vital records to stamp some photocopy. they are also far too good to accept a passport that expired 8 years ago. well, la dee dah.)
  2. i must submit the expensive version of my birth certificate, along with 1 million other pieces of paper that i cannot find.
  3. then, and only then, can i apply for MY LEARNER'S PERMIT. yes, you read that right. i have to get my learner's permit. again. at 28 years of age.
  4. i have to complete a 5 hour driver's education course. (i am really looking forward to doing this while i am 7 months pregnant. my friend abby pointed out that i look young for my age, so people will just think i am a pregnant sophomore in high school. that was really comforting.)
  5. i have to take a driver's test. (chances are i will be older than the twerp testing me...)
  6. then if i don't back over any cones this time... i can apply for a big-girl license.
  7. then i do a walk of shame down a plank, they push me into a pool of slime while all of my friends and family laugh and point. this part isn't really required by the state, but as it turns out, those closest to me have already done this (figuratively speaking...)

ok, nobody has slimed me just yet... but, a lot of laughing and pointing has already taken place. i don't think people understand how taxing the fugitive life can be. the laughing and the pointing, really not needed. you know what else i didn't need? the driver's manual my father-in-law sent me in the mail. inside the front cover, this was inscribed:

to lara, from mom and pops:
study hard!! if you want to practice parallel parking, we've got just the spot! we know you're going to be a great driver someday!! we love you!

again, with the laughing and the pointing. that is when i accidentally called him an @s% w*pe.

anything written in this post, was again inspired by a true story but was intended for comic relief only. it should not be used against me in a court of law. names and locations may have been altered to protect the identity of me, the negligent criminal. i am very sorry for my behavior and am looking forward to becoming a contributing member of society once again.

don't take anyone's crap.

when i was a baby, i ate my sister's poop.

it's true. we are only 18 months apart, so when she was potty training i was apparently very interested. what happened was this... she went #2 on the potty (which we are all still very proud of) and i guess my mom had left the bathroom or something for a second. when she returned this is what she saw: my sister, swirling a comb around in the poop water and sliding down the length of her hair. (i always imagine that part in slow-motion.) and me: with my sister's big achievement caked to the roof of my mouth. (this part, i fast-forward through in my mind.)

my mom was, naturally, horrified at the sight, and began frantically cleaning out my poop-mouth and then my sister's poop-hair. it was a disgusting mess. now, this was not the last time i took crap from my older siblings... but it was the one and only time that it ever happened this literally.

sometimes i wonder what possessed me to venture into the pot for something to eat. sometimes i wonder why kids do a lot of things. i just can't wrap my mind around their minds, and how they work. my daughter marlie is something like myself... which oftentimes means she is a bit eccentric, but this gives me just an occasional peek into the thought life that i must have possessed as a child. last halloween she insisted on being a chicken-mermaid. when i couldn't (despite my best effort) find a suitable chicken-mermaid combo... she settled for being a "mermaid princess" (i may have swayed her by using a glorious red ariel wig, but i can't say for sure.) a more recent example of the unique inner-workings of her brain is her upcoming birthday party theme. she will be turning four at the end of this month, and has politely requested that the theme and decor be aliens and strawberry shortcake. i am very confused, but a little excited to make the party hats out of tin foil.

but, back to the poop fiasco. why would i eat something out of the toilet, when i'm certain my mom had an adequate lunch in mind for me? you see i never technically ate poop again... but, figuratively speaking, i eat crap every single day. every time i settle for what i think is best, and ignore what god thinks is best... i might as well go back to the toilet and dig in. why do i settle for my crap plan for myself, when god as a nice lunch-type plan waiting for me? it makes about as much sense as a chicken-mermaid.

if i am being really, truly honest with myself (and with whoever you are)... i could tell you why i choose my own crap ways, instead of following god's way 100% of the time. it's because deep-down, in the pit of my dark, depraved soul... there is still that poop-eating little girl who is scared to trust a god that would let me go through so many painful things in life. intellectually, i KNOW that god's plan for me and my life is far better than the comfort-filled life i would give myself, that would build no character or endurance in me. i KNOW that god is real and true and that he loves me more than anyone else has ever loved me. i really do believe that with all my heart. but there is a tiny corner of my heart that remains so self-protective that i would rather take familiar poop than wait to see the mystery of what god has for me.

i am pregnant, expecting baby #4. we have had a pretty rough journey through this pregnancy. i have essentially been on bed-rest the entire first half of this pregnancy. i have been into the ER on numerous occasions, have experienced two different complications that put me at risk for pre-term labor, one of which poses potential risk of various deformities and birth-defects to the baby. if i could choose the outcome for myself and for this baby, i know that it would be crap compared to the outcome that god will determine for us. still there is the poop-loving part of my soul that is still being changed by god, that is still learning to trust in him, that is still surrendering myself to him every day. or at least trying to.

why getting older is the new getting younger.

it's 4:30 in the morning, and i am almost thirty.

ok, that isn't entirely true. it is actually 4:40am and i won't be thirty for two years. i just turned 28. i am almost sure that that is true. (since i have had kids, i have had a very difficult time remembering my age. i think it is due to a cocktail of hormones, exhaustion and trying to pretend that my kids' birthdays are more important than mine, when secretly i love my birthday the most.) but, i went an entire year thinking i was 28, only to turn the real 28 this past june. repeating that year made me take my actual-age-remembering more seriously. now, i won't forget. i am 28, two years until i turn thirty.

i realized this so fully, because i just woke up from a dream where i was sitting on the floor in the back seat of my grandfather's car telling everyone that i was thirteen. i kept saying it, over and over (like an actual thirteen-year-old would. how annoying would it be to be thirteen again? i can't even stand the thought of myself.) anyways, i kept saying it "i'm thirteen, really... i am!" the car was jam-packed with so many people, yet was still somehow unusually spacious. i was sitting on the floor, and on the seat above me was my friend lexi's brother, lindy. (don't ask me why he was there, i am pregnant and my hormones are even making my dreams do irrational things. i am completely out of control.)

so, when lindy looked at me skeptically at my last profession of being thirteen, i slipped. i vowed "i really am fifteen!" busted.

he looked at me with a little pity, and patted my back like i was his elderly grandmother. (i have met lexi and lindy's grandmother, she's seriously cooler than i am, and isn't really elderly elderly at all. but, when she gets super elderly, i know how her back will feel when it gets the you-poor-old-thing pat from lindy.

the thing that startled me out of this dream was not what one would expect. it was not the sudden realization that thirty "looms" in the distance. it was not how roomy grandpa's car inexplicably was, it wasn't the fact that lindy would let a pregnant teenager sit on the floor, while he took the seat... it was the fact that i lied about my age (and probably also because i was sleeping on my back, which forces my fetus to squish my bladder, which is always packed to the brim.)

but the real shocker here was that in my dream, i did not want to be older. in my dream, i was ashamed. i was so ashamed in fact i was willing to be thirteen again. that is the true horror that made this go from dream to nightmare. the reason this is so shocking to me is because a long time ago, i read a stupid article, by a stupid woman, in a stupid magazine that focused on stupid topics. in this article the woman seriously lamented over turning thirty... how thirty was the beginning of the end, how much your thirty-year-old body has changed since you were 20, how all the good times were behind her... on and on it went. she alluded to not being able to find a good man, and believed in large part that it was because she was getting old. even in my irrational dream state i could have told you that she couldn't find a good man, because she was so bitter about being thirty she couldn't see past the end of her nose... not because there was actually anything wrong with her, or being thirty.

from that article on, i vowed to embrace what would inevitably come. the age 30. i've actually collected a great deal of data in the past several years, and have found a few things out. 1) most of the woman i knew in their thirties had more money than i did, were smarter, had decent husbands (with the exception of the bitter article-writer who hates herself), and many had jobs that they loved, and/or children they loved even more than the dream job. 2) most the women i knew seemed a little more comfortable than i did. they knew what they believed in, and were fine with it. they dressed how they dressed - whether good or not great - and they were fine with it. they seemed to be in a stage where they kind of accepted who they were. they weren't unchangeable or anything, but they were done with the uncertainty of the twenties.

here's is what all my data-collection has taught me. (now i am only a stupid twenty-something, so i am probably wrong... but here goes nothing.)

the teenage years are marked by one major thing: we think we know everything. we are immature, kind of awkward for most of these years, and despite knowing everything... we are extremely insecure. for me personally, these years were also marked by big hair and being gangly. seriously, my brother-in-law dan, used to come to my volleyball games in high school and say that my knees looked like oranges on toothpicks. unfortunately, i graduated from high school in 1999, so i don't have the 80's to blame for my bad hair... unlike those lucky thirty-something subjects of my research at the time.

if the teen years are marked by thinking you know everything, then the twenties are marked by realizing you know nothing. if you thought you were insecure in your teen years when you knew everything, imagine the insecurity that comes when you move in to a dorm with strangers and realize you possess none of the knowledge you swore you had, and your parents lacked. in reality, the twenties are spent figuring out what you believe, who you are, who you hope to become and other tid bits of the like.

i started my family in my early twenties, so i can't say that it was a bad stage for me, just a lot of not really knowing enough about who i was. i got pregnant before i was married (exhibit a. in the case to prove that i knew nothing as a 20-year-old) so figuring out who i was and who i wanted to be, was perhaps a little difficult, because i was "wife" and "mama" while i was also "student" and "waitress." i know that not everybody knew as little as i did, but if we are honest, we were all pretty stupid in our late teens/early twenties. this is a safe place, and you can admit it here.

enter turning thirty. i think the thirties seem to be marked by self-awareness, improved self-worth and self-acceptance. i think the self-focused self-discovery of the teens and twenties, free women in the their thirties to be more focused on others (in a good way.) having done the research, turning thirty is not at all scary to me. in fact, i cannot wait to turn thirty. i really am completely excited about being in my thirties. i once told my friend kathy that for my thirtieth birthday, i was going to throw myself a huge party, and i was going to send out invitations that said "come to my party, i am turning 30, and i want to celebrate with all the people who helped to make me fabulous in my thirties!" kathy pointed out that that sounded a little arrogant of me, and that maybe i shouldn't brag about how fabulous i was in my thirties, since i was only 26 at the time. i think kathy was right, but she was also 29, three years closer to being thirty... which explains why she saw the flaw in my invitations, while i thought they were brilliant. stupid twenties.

i am going to skip to the forty-somethings now. women in their forties seem to go one way or the other... if they embraced their thirties and loved every minute of it, they are even greater in their forties. if, however, they fought their way through the thirties kicking and screaming, this is when the mid-life crisis hits. i think that the women who go bananas during their forties, are the same women who were afraid of turning thirty. you can't stop it, so it makes you crazy. for the women who don't go bananas, the forties are a time where the start putting themselves back on the to-do list (again, in a good way), and they buy things they have always wanted, but didn't really need at the time. the forties are when i will get really nice bedroom furniture. i am forty, i have waited a long time for this, i want a nice headboard.

fifty and beyond are admittedly, a bit of a mystery to me. i am currently conducting research about these years. i will say, the earliest trends in the data suggests that the more women fight the aging process, the more likely they are to go bananas. these are scientific studies, and i can't expect all of you to understand... so just try to keep up.

it's like this: my first car was a chevy something. i think it was mostly a chevy celebrity, but i don't for sure what kind of chevy it was because it was such a piece, that it had a trunk from a different kind of car... which is where the car type is written. (i'm sure it is written elsewhere as well, but i was a teenager - i knew nothing, and didn't know it.) the car was a gray matte finish, with a black trunk with a glossy finish. i had one hubcap, total, and no spare tire. i did, however, have a spare steering column in my black trunk, which was a bonus. so, the car was obviously not a lease from a dealership. the fact was that it was a piece of crap, but it was my car, and it was the only one i would have.

so, when i kept putting mile after mile on that car... i had two choices. i could pout and whine and complain about what was inevitably coming... or i could throw myself a little party every time the odometer hit a big number. the big number was coming either way. sure, it was tempting to covet the nice honda accord with all it's hubcaps, when i was out of gas at a busy intersection (with a tail light out and my keys locked in the car) but what good would that have done? i was still going to have to pry my foggy window down, climb in my crap car through the window, fish out the keys, dig in the trunk for the empty gas can (next to the spare steering column) and walk to the gas station. when i did that, i would drive my car until it hit 250,000 miles or until it died... whichever came first.

turning thirty, or turning 130 is sort of the same thing. you either will or you won't. i will either turn thirty or i'll die, whichever comes first. as far as i can tell, we can't stop it... nor should we want to. i would never want to go back to knowing less, being more confused, less sure. i especially wouldn't want to go back just so i could have my 20 year old body again... it would be nice, but i wasn't crazy about it when i was twenty, who's to say i would appreciate it any more now? so, the fact remains... it doesn't matter what kind of car you are driving, it's the only one we got and we're packing on the miles one way or another. if my odometer reads a big number, that just means i went a long way and the car didn't die. how can this be a bad thing?

i have to pee again. and eat a plum. happy aging!

90 minutes is really just too long.

okay. let's pretend we are now in the first week of march.

we are clinically insane people. here's why.

every year we drive to florida. we pack up pretty much everything we own (including our kids, ages 5, 3 1/2, and then 17 mos.) and venture out on the drive which is approx. 24 hours. there is actually a test to see if you are clinically insane. phase four of the test is this question: would you drive three small children to florida in one shot? if you answer yes, you are truly insane. phase five of this test is this question: when driving three small children to florida in one shot, would you, under any circumstances (including duress), take route 15? (now taking route 15 is the equivalent to taking a bike path. through a retirement community. in a snow storm.) if you answer yes to this question and anybody with authority finds out about it... i'm pretty sure they just put you in right in jail.

so far, my father-in-law is the only human to ever answer that phase five question with an enthusiastic yes. but, that is neither here nor there.

so. we're in florida, and we have two beautiful little girls who actually believe that you can grow up and be a princess for your profession. it's just what they do. they dress up, have royal balls and tea parties, talk in nearly perfect british accents, call each other "lady" (with a really sharp T sound, like "lay-Tee") and call their baby brother the grand duke. they wear hats, gloves, scarves, jewels, glass slippers, sunglasses, tiaras, and bunny ears... usually all at the same time. they are divine.

so, can you bring two of that species to florida and not take them to disney world? it would feel a little criminal not to. so, we saved up garage sale money and lemonade stand money to go to the magic kingdom for one day. it was like bringing them to their motherland.

they both carefully selected which ball gown they wanted to wear and i allowed one accessory. annalee settled on an ariel gown - post human transformation... so neither fin nor seashells were involved, trust me i would not have allowed it. marlie went as a blond snow white. they both decided on bunny ears with sequin detailing. very classy touch. the weather was beautiful, the tickets were overpriced and it was american capitalism at it's finest. a little disgusting, but for my girls... it was truly a dream come true.

now, when i went to disney world as a child, you could do disney in one day. at least we did. my mom would force us to sprint from attraction to attraction, mapping out show times and distances from one thing to the next. we would inevitably be the pale northerners running around frantically, wearing socks and tevas, and we looked like idiots (especially because i am pretty sure i also wore a fluorescent orange fanny pack, covered with a fine black mesh, set a little more toward one hip than the other. try not to covet.)

but, the point is we did it in a day. i can't imagine the disney world people are struggling financially... but i have a theory here. i am convinced that they have carefully and cruelly figured out how to make it almost impossible to do it in a single day. for example, when i went in the early 90's, you could be on your way to space mountain (which we peer pressured my mom into deviating from her map-plan and letting us go on several times in a row) and you would happen to run into your favorite character... mickey mouse, alladin, cinderella even. but, noooooooo... that's not how it works in the 0's. in 2009, they lock the characters up in some building and make you wait in line to see them. this, of course, takes anywhere between 60 and 90 minutes. even if you are sprinting as fast as your tevas will take you, you are NOT going to meet characters and hit pirates of the caribbean on the same day. it is impossible.

so, like good parents, we tried to convince the kids that they didn't really care about meeting the beautiful princesses in real life. then annalee, who is five years old, put on her lawyer face and made her case. in her mind, meeting the princesses in person was sort of like job-shadowing. she simply had to do it in order to become a real princess herself. could we deny them this right of passage? probably not, but we were gonna try. annalee leveled with us. she said "mommy, even if it takes all our hours, i really want to see ariel."

so, we caved. we went to ariel's grotto, which is a smart set-up. ariel herself is hidden back in a cave (so that the poor people who could barely afford this one day at disney, have to choose between seeing her, and doing anything else that day) and there is a long line of parents standing in a roped off area around the outside of a little sprinkler park. the kids can run around and play in the water - in their ballgowns - while the parents wait forever. i think this appeases the parents because we feel like "at least are kids are doing something while we wait."

we walked up to ariel's grotto and their was a sign there letting us know how long the wait would be until our little girls would fulfill their destiny. 90 MINUTES. we had an hour and a half to wait in line. if you break down the cost of disney world minute by minute... i think we spend about 40 bucks just in that line. but, this was why we were there, so we got in line and the kids ran wild in the water. harper, 17 months at the time, was very intent on fleeing the grotto and returning to the carousel ride - and he spent the entire time trying to escape. so, naturally... my attention was mostly focused on him. plus, i know the girls knew better and would never DREAM of leaving that area without an adult. they simply know better. or so i thought.

i look up. marlie, 3, is missing. i am completely frantic - only a parent who has temporarily misplaced one of their humans knows what i mean. i am terrified, angry, nervous (with a dash of embarrassed)... and running around like a crazy person looking for her. then i see her. she is holding the hand of a disney world employee and she looks busted, she has her head (which looks a little like a small bowling ball, covered in wild tumbleweed-like hair) hanging down very low, but her eyes are looking up. right on me. i run up to them and apologize to the lady. as i am walking marlie firmly back to the bench to get the whole story, i see another disney world employee going down the line of parents waiting to meet ariel, shouting "is anyone missing a snow white?" i was mortified. i went and told the lady that i had found her, and all the parents give me that look of "you negligent parent... losing your child like that. you should be ashamed of yourself." which i was. so i hope they're happy.

marlie and i are sitting on the bench. i explain to her how relieved i am that she is safe, and how disappointed i am that she disobeyed. then the story came spilling out. what happened was this... marlie (who is my strong-willed, free-spirited second-born... who pretty much has my personality and lack of delayed gratification. oh, and my attention span.) she is innocently playing in the play area... running around the large rocks in the middle, and weaving in and out of the water, when she discovers that from the very end of the play area, you can see the back of ariel's cave. this is where those lucky girls and boys who have waited 90 minutes to meet ariel, have their photograph taken by a disney picture man and of course their parents or other supervising adult, and then they joyfully exit the cave through a turn style. this is what all the good american boys and girls are doing. not my marlie. she sees that turn style. and more importantly she sees just past that turn style. into the cave, just far enough to see ariel herself. sitting on a rock, calling children up, one by one, talking to them in a perfect ariel voice, and posing for a picture with an exact ariel smile.

this was simply too much for marlie. she apparently could NOT contain herself. she would later report this to me. she crawled under the gate (aka the turn style) and walked up to the front of the line. ariel said "come sit next to me." so marlie did. marlie, i'm sure, showed ariel her shoes and her dress, and quietly whispered her name when ariel asked. at this point i don't think anybody realized that she shouldn't have been there. but, when marlie asked for her photograph to be taken, they realized there weren't any adults involved here.

first of all, i am completely shocked that she would do this. i can't believe that she would leave our supervision (which clearly wasn't adequate), cut off all those people, then have the audacity to get up there and demand that the photograph be taken! so, as she was telling me this (i am in complete disbelief) i asked her "did they actually take your picture!?" she said on the verge of tears "no, because they said i didn't have the right lady with me!" i then explained to her furiously, that i was the right lady, her mother... that she needed to stay with ME!

after many lectures and some time of sitting alone to think about what she had done while tom and i discussed whether or not we would allow her to meet ariel and get a legit picture taken with her... she knew she had one chance to redeem herself. here is what she said in her needlessly loud three-year-old voice, "mommy, i know that i disobeyed and it was dangerous. it was disrespectful to all the other customers. but mommy..." (insert long pause, as if this was the crowning moment of her argument. this was her chance to explain why she did it. knowing it was wrong, why she had no choice but to take that chance...) "...but mommy... ariel is not a statue... and her tail was real."

that is a three-year-old way of saying, "i'm sorry, but what were my options!? i had to see that tail."

in a blend of anger, and trying not to laugh out loud... i left her there alone to stew in fear that she would never have that photo to relive this adventure, while tom and i stepped aside to discuss her fate. tom's parents, who came with us to disney, gently reminded me that this was, for her, a once in a lifetime opportunity and maybe today wasn't the day to drive home that lesson. they pleaded her case, and tom and i did end up letting her have a legitimate meeting with ariel and many pictures were taken - both by the disney picture-taker, and by me... the right lady.

bamboozled, quite literally.

so i have not posted in a long time. after a little bit of verbal abuse from my fanlets, i have decided to post - or at least try to post - more frequently. twice a week as my friend sam firmly requires. (i say fanlets because i don't think they can technically be called your fans if a) they are the only twelve friends you have, b) they are related to you, or c) they are willing to verbally abuse you a little bit. also, i say fanlets because as far as making up your own words goes, i'm... fine with it.)

so, this is how we're going to do it. i am going to take my fanlets on a journey back in time... to all the dates i meant to post but didn't. for today's journey, we are going to go back to valentine's day. *i would like to apologize in advance for my reckless and excessive use of parentheses in this post.

for valentine's day tom and i unknowingly got each other the exact same gift. this story of our gift buying and exchanging shows the major differences in our personalities. but the fact that we ended up getting each other the exact same gift, in the most polar opposite way possible kinda says a lot about us and our relationship... and about how i believe god paired us uniquely together - to both irritate the junk out of each other, and also to complement each other in the most profound ways.

many years ago, for a wedding present, some of my wonderful friends decorated tom and my first "apartment" while we were away on our honeymoon. (now our first apartment was a beautiful deluxe penthouse suite in a big city high rise, it was gorgeous. wait, actually... it was a bedroom in my sisters basement. i was knocked up and we were broke. it happens.) part of the lavish decorations included a lucky bamboo plant, which we have always called "our love fern." (this plant nickname is in reference to one of my favorite movies, "how to lose a guy in ten days," which for the longest time i couldn't remember the title of, and i kept calling it "ten things i hate about losing a guy." but that is really neither here, nor there.)

so. the love fern. while i took excellent care of it for many years, and in many homes... from the den of our poverty (my generous sister's basement)(grand haven, michigan), to a converted horsebarn with a mold problem (wayne, pennsylvania), to the top floor of a home we shared with an elderly man named lefty (willow grove, pennsylvania) to a great little apartment above a couple from singapore (landsale, pennsylvania) to our very first owned home (rochester, ny). it survived many moves and many spils, and the many rough pulls and grabs from lots of little chubby hands. until, one day... inexplicably, the love fern died. actually, it's totally explicable. i overwatered it and put it in direct sunlight - and you bamboo lovers out there know that both are ill-advised. fried it to a crisp.

the bamboo plant died about a year ago, and tom (being unable to let go...) has kept the plant remains on his desk, wrapped in a paper towel that says 'RIP love fern.' so, for v-day, we both unknowingly bought each other a replacement fern (which, if you haven't picked up on yet, isn't a fern at all... but rather a lucky bamboo.) i bought mine at the florist in our local supermarket, and it is beautiful - but looks nothing like the original. now, tom went to great lengths to find an exact replica of the original. he ordered his online from a florist in california. he had it shipped to new york just in time for valentines day. it looked exactly like the original love fern, and was dead upon arrival. apparently he didn't open it up soon enough and it died in the box. when he actually did open it, there was a piece of paper inside that said to 'open immediately.' he was not happy that the warning was INSIDE the box that should have been opened immediately.

when we sat down to celebrate valentines day, i gave tom several ryhming clues that sent him and the kids on a scavenger hunt to find cards, treats and the grand finale... our lucky bamboo. when i saw tom's face... deflated and disappointed, i thought maybe it was a little too early to replace the love fern that died. maybe it was just too soon. or perhaps, after all is fried and repurchased, you really can't replace such a beloved fern to begin with.

then, tom sadly goes to fetch the crispy, air-deprived lucky bamboo that he has special ordered from california, had delivered, and had stored in a drawer. in the box. on its side. not so lucky. but...he was right. i would never find it in there.