Those were great years.  Possibly my favorite of my childhood.

It was after make-up and before a driver’s license.  I had gained a slight advantage over my unruly hair from, say, sixth grade, and was blissfully ignorant that I was a marriage away from a flat iron. 

My biggest concern was whose mom was dropping off and whose was picking up. Okay, well it was a close second to the beginning of the school year classroom seating arrangements and what cute boy would grow to love me over the span of a semester as we worked on our science homework together and passed quippy notes.

With the help of Turtles stamps, I was growing my cd collection.

I saw every movie made during that time period. 

Dead Poet’s Society broke my heart. 

Christmas Vacation was released…it would forever define Christmas moving forward. 

Public Service Announcements were about runaways…not Crystal Meth.

C+C Music Factory was making us all sweat ‘til we bled…and we were all pretty much fine with that.

I was at the Playground…ya know…with Iesha (are you trucking with me?)

We didn’t have real problems back then…why should we?  We had just been introduced to Dylan McKay and his overalls and NKOTB was telling everyone to “Hang Tough."  I was doing my best to do that in secret as my NKOTB fandom was of the "in the closet" variety.  

Those were the years I was unashamed to be crafty…artsy even. 

Not the good crafty, mind you.  I was more like Theo’s horrific shirt made by Denise crafty.  You had to look hard if you really wanted to see my genius.  

I used to take old Keds.  I mean old Keds.  Not white anymore Keds.  Should have been thrown away six months earlier Keds. 

You get the picture.

And I would attack them armed only with puffy paint, glue on sparkle gems and a vision.

Debuting each new pair of puffy painted Keds was as exciting as opening nights would become later in my life or posting a new blog would be even later than that. 

I would debut them at school.  Most people would just stare.  Some would say things like “wow.”  One boy would inevitably ask me when the box of crayons had thrown up all over my shoes. 

Undaunted I would go home convinced that the problem was that no one “got me.” And indeed that most likely was the reason...that and the tacky multi-colored Keds I was wearing that were so bright you literally could not look away from them.

I think my most memorable creation had to do with a jean jacket that I “refurbed”.  Let me stop right their and share with you my level of obsession with jean jackets.  I loved them.  Loved everything about them.  Loved the way a pair of dangle earrings fell at the slightly turned up collar and how fantastic they looked when paired with a banana clip. I still love them.  I would like nothing more than to wake up tomorrow and learn that jean jackets and sweater skirt sets (see Can't Buy Me Love...or my 7th grade class picture) were making their comeback.  

But back to my 1989 self and jean jackets.  

Enter Teen Witch. This gem of a movie starred the original Lively sister…Robin.  I wanted to be her.  I knew a refurbished jean jacket was the way to go.

I assembled my puffy paint collection, old pins, earrings that were missing their match and anything else I could find.  I had an old jean jacket hanging in the back of my closet that I was going to work my magic on.  I went to work, spacing the earrings and pins out on the back of the jacket to perfect that “organized messy” look that would partner so well with my pre-smoothing serum frizzy hair and my hoop earrings.  I attached the earrings and pins and puffy painted some finishing touches.  I sat back and admired my work. 

I was incredibly pleased. The jacket may have been flashier than my first pair of Jams or my original orange Swatch watch with the hot pink watch guard. I could not wait for school the next day. 

The next morning, I donned my new Teen Witch inspired jacket, re-sprayed my bang wall, slipped into my puffy painted Keds, secured the Chinese jump rope that never left my wrist all four years of middle school (you never know when you might need a Chinese jump rope at a moment's notice) and started for the door.

Oh Wait.  I also put on my hot pink lipstick holder necklace with the mirror inside and the black tassel hanging from the bottom.  Can’t believe I almost forgot that. 

NOW, I was ready to go to school. 

So what was the reaction at school?  Who was the first to want a Rachel designed Teen Witch inspired jean jacket? 

Sadly, we’ll never know.  I went to get into my mom’s car to go to school and leaned back against the seat.  When I did, I gave myself the most unsanitary and painful acupuncture treatment from the high concentration of mainly post earrings I used to decorate the back of my jacket. 

My back burned in agony.  I was wounded…possibly mortally.  I strained to feel the trickles of blood that I was sure were finding their way down my back from the puncture wounds.  Spontaneous tears began to stream down my face from the pain.

So, in the end, the jacket didn’t make it to school and the incident reminded my mother that I was overdue for a Tetanus shot.

Today, I look back at those years and wonder if I am still that fearless.  I mean that fearless minus the puffy paint of course.

Just a regular old update

Right now, I'm trying to save all of my "interesting" material as I work on my submission for the Erma Bombeck writing competition.  It happens every other year and I want to take a crack at it.  I am limited to 450 words.  I have NEVER been able to convey ANY message in less than 700 words...so the challenge is two-fold for me.

I have exactly one month to write something hilarious, Erma-like and short.  I might as well have said I'd climb Everest.

So here is how our holiday went...

Samuel didn't sing one word of one song in his entire Christmas performance (he's in the red sweater in the back).  I'm not sure why I got to the school 1 hour early to reserve seats when I could have seen him look annoyed and frustrated at home on any given day. :)

He loved his visit with Santa.  And his dad's camo hat.  And Santa.  And presents.  And The Nightmare Before Christmas.  We sat down and Andy shared the Christmas story.  You know, the one about Jesus.  Samuel interrupted a few times to add a ghost and a zombie into the manger scene.  I told him to stop going totally Hollywood with a very traditional story.

Aunt Jen came over the week before Christmas to make Christmas cookies with Sam and when we came home from our date, we found that he had talked her into making zombie cookies.  Excellent.  The spirit of Christmas is alive in this little one (or undead, as the case may be).  This is a cute pic of them on Christmas eve.

On Christmas morning, he completely forgot what he was supposed to be excited about. I asked him what day it was and he told me it was Saturday.  Then I asked him who came to the house while he was sleeping and he said "Nanny Cooke?".

No, Samuel.  Nanny Cooke did not come by last night while you were asleep.  AS you would say to me "I think that's kind of weird."

He finally got it.  As seen here.

He was very excited to get a minion.  Funny, I thought that's what we were to him.

Despite his unnatural affinity for all things undead, this little boy gets sweeter and sweeter everyday.  He is a joy in ways I could have never imagined and, like all parents, Andy and I stay amazed at him.  I had such a great time with him over the holidays and we were both sad to go back to the normal day-to-day of work and school.

Finally, my Christmas present to myself.  A writer's nook.  It's really hard to get a good picture of it but I love the space and I finally have my own little corner to be creative.  

In addition to the amazing holiday we had, my parents celebrated their 40th anniversary by taking their children out to a fancy dinner and cracking open a bottle of Cristal that my dad has been saving for awhile.  Andy and dad got to enjoy most of the bottle because the rest of us, apparently, "didn't get it."

Andy had a lot more time off than normal and it was wonderful to have the family time.  In fact, for the first time in a really long time, we rang in the New Year together and celebrated by playing a pretty cut throat game of Candyland.  

Well, that's all for now!  Happy New Year!