Michon, The Starter Child

Our daughter Michon Foos Simanoff celebrates her 37th birthday today. Happy Birthday, sweetheart. I bet you wish I would stop here. I don’t know how she got older than me, but she has been doing amazing things all her life. It is always a source of pride to have a child smarter than you, but only after she is out of high school. She started out so special she needed a special name. Her mother, Gayle Kelly Foos swears we hadn’t decided on a name and I took advantage of her wooziness right after birth to impose my choice of names for our beautiful daughter. I’m going with the concept that she was woozy and couldn’t remember when we decided on the name. It is true it was my choice. I would like to claim that is an old family name from the time in which our forefathers were roaming the European continent, but in reality I had a student by that name and I liked it. Michon alternated between liking it because it made her stand out and hating it because it made her stand out. Before she was married and became a Simanoff, most people who had only heard her name and not met her in person were very surprised she wasn’t Asian.
Michon was our starter child and therefore we got to use her for practice. By the time her sister Lindsey Foos Lebowitz came along we were old hands at that parent thing. When she was born, Gayle returned to work and I stayed home with the baby. It wasn’t because we were an enlightened couple who wanted to break the stereotypes of gender. Gayle made more money than me and we really couldn’t afford day-care. So for six months I was mama/daddy. That was a great time in my life and I will always cherish those memories, but there were a few things that were difficult. I learned that soap operas have the same attraction as crack. I planned our day around “All My Children”. When Erica would file for another divorce (I think it was 3 times in that 6 month period) I would be heartbroken for days. I learned that showering was a thing you could do without for days. I learned to clock-watch and sit by the front door to hand off the baby when Mama walked in the door. When I got after Gayle for being so rude to not call me and let me know she was going to be 10 minutes late, she told me it was time for day-care. I learned that before children I was a selfish person, but being responsible for a baby made it very easy to give that up. I also learned how much you could love a child and how that doesn’t change just because they grow up.
Back to that practice child thing: Michon believed we were the most strict parents ever. The thing she hated most was curfew. She lost the use of her new car for a week on the first night of driving alone for being 5 minutes late. I think she’s still mad at us for that. Here’s a quick aside. When Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her lead role in “Gravity” (the movie that taught us that no matter how bad things are, they can always get worse) she thanked her mother for her curfew rules. Sandra stated that, although she hated it at the time, she would have probably done those things her mother was afraid of without the curfew. We’re still waiting for our thank you’s on that one. When we dropped her off at college she let us know that she planned on staying out after curfew every night.
Her mother and I couldn’t be more proud of Michon. Look what she’s accomplished. She is Master’s educated, holds down an important job and takes care of her beautiful family. Her 13 year marriage to Lee Simanoff is strong, and her boys are, of course, pretty special themselves. We are going with Attribution Theory to explain how she is the strong, independent woman everyone knows today. It is because of her parents and the good job they did in raising her.
Happy Birthday, Michon!! We love you and can’t wait to see you and your family soon.

Love,
Mom and Dad

How I Spent My Easter Weekend

How I Spent My Easter Weekend, or; I’m Really not a Dumbass, or; Why I Am Banned From the Local Home Depot, or; Norman Saves the Day.

High everyone. Jim the Honorary Jew, here. How do you like the title of my new rambling essay on stuff? We just celebrated the holiest of days for both Christians and Jews. Like I mentioned in my post at this time last year, Passover is a big deal, but it is not in the same league as Rosh Hashanah. In that same vein, Good Friday and Easter don’t measure up to Christmas. And by the way, why is it called Good Friday? It seems to me that it is a very cruel misnomer. It should be called “The Worst Friday in the History of the World for Christians”. I am sure there is a logical explanation for this. But I can’t speak as a religious scholar, only as an observer of cultural phenomena. Religious scholars may well argue the significance of these celebrations are at least as weighty as the Rock Star holidays (I’ve only known two religious scholars: my college professor, who Really liked his female students to the tune of two to three per semester; and a good friend, Curt Edward Allison, who puts his religious knowledge and training to the test daily as a marketing director for a car dealership. Oh yeah, and my brother, Reverend Robert Foos. His church service is live on the internet every Sunday, so he must be good at it. I think so, anyway).
Okay, so what does that have to do with the odd titles of this piece of work? Well, nothing, actually, except that it happened during the holidays. Hence, the first title, “How I Spent the Easter Holiday”. It all started because our washing machine broke. The cost of the repair seemed exorbitant so Gayle Kelly Foos and I decided to spring for a new one. So off we went to to the Mall to shop at Sears. Parking was pretty easy; we were car #8 in a parking lot designed for 1400 cars (thank you, Amazon, for freeing up all those spots for us). We then spent an hour comparing different models and prices. We didn’t need that long, but the helpful sales person was a bit slow to help. Perhaps, he was helping the only other shopper in whole the store. We finally made the purchase. The next big decision was delivery and installation. For a mere $100 they would arrange for a crew to deliver and install the washer and haul off the old one… in two weeks!! I was was wearing my last pair of clean underwear, so that timeline was way off. We decided to pick it up and haul it home ourselves. How hard could it be to install a new washer? The hardest part for me should have been getting Gayle’s SUV backed up to the loading dock (I have a car-and-trailer-backing-up disability; I got a Gentleman’s C in Boat Backing Up School. Gayle aced it, but she couldn’t stand to back the boat into the water for fear that she would be pulled into the sea and die. What a pair we are!). But in just a short while we were loaded and headed home. What could go wrong?
Next, comes the “I’m really not a dumbass” part of the story. Removing the old washer and installing the new one should have been a 10 minute job. The washer and dryer share a closet with the hot water heater and the HVAC system. To remove the old washer, I had to move the dryer out of the way, which was relatively easy. Getting the old washer out of the closet was a bit taxing, but straight-forward. I was now ready to install the new one. And then it happened. While moving the dryer, the dryer vent hose disconnected from the outside vent….Now, I need to pause the story for some background. I have a Doctorate earned after 22 years of public education. I can build you a statistical formula that can produce a regression wave so beautiful you’d think you were looking at it from the beach at sunset. I know lots of stuff. It’s kind of hard to beat me in Trivial Pursuit. But when it comes to household repairs, however, I am a grade school dropout. Okay, back to the story…. So when I was able to pull out the old washer without problems, I was a little cocky. Yes, that is a very easy task, but I set low bars for myself. After inspecting the old dryer vent hose, it was obvious I needed to replace it with a new one. So off to Home Depot I went. During that first visit I found the dryer vent hose department, which, oddly enough, is right beside the dryers. I purchased the most expensive hose because it looked very sturdy, even though Gayle argued for the more flexible one. I also purchased a vent with a flap because the old one didn’t have a flap, making it quite the welcome mat for everything living outside to take up residence in the dryer. Then I headed home to try out my new DIY skills.
The dryer vent to the outside is located behind the water heater in the closet. The space behind the water heater didn’t lend itself to getting my whole body into a position in a way that I could use both hands to hook the hose onto the vent. Now here is the problem. The dryer hose and the vent are exactly the same size in diameter, so just sliding the hose over the vent and then getting the clamp in place and tightened is an impossible task, especially with only one hand. Try as I might, I couldn’t make it work. The solution I came up with sounded good to me. The expensive hose I purchased was very stiff. The old hose was damaged and had to be replaced, but it was made of thin plastic and was flexible enough to fit over the vent. I decided to return to Home Depot and find the cheap hose even though I would have to endure a few minutes of “I told you so” from Gayle.
“This shouldn’t take long” I said to myself. “I know where it is located. I’ll just pick it and go”. They didn’t have plastic ones. They had a cheaper one that looked more flexible than the expensive one. It was right beside the vents, so I decided to try to put the hose onto the vent before I left. Well, the cheap hose is also exactly the same diameter the vent, and I couldn’t get it to slide on. As I was struggling with this dilemma, the friendly dryer salesman from the next aisle asked in a not so friendly tone what I thought I was doing, so I told him, perhaps in the same tone as he used. I was into the 4th hour of a 10 minute job and I admit I was a bit testy. He told me to quit messing with the merchandise. I then requested that he try it. He related that all the hoses were the same size and 100 people per week install dryer hoses without a problem. Except he could’t do it either and I gave him a big smirking laugh. He then asked me to leave his department. “Huh, I’ve been kicked out of better places than this” I said to myself as I left hurriedly because I couldn’t think of anything witty to say at the moment when he pointed to the door. I realized then I forgot to get the hose. You know, I really love Loews, and they have cheap vent hoses.
So I arrived home not in the best of spirits. And low and behold, I couldn’t get it to fit, either. I can tell you that my man pride was pretty much finished off. I though I might have to take up crochet-work. When I get into these snits, Gayle does one of two things: her first choice is usually to find a Utube video, watch it for a few minutes and then fix it, much to my chagrin. Her second choice, the secret weapon, as it were, is to call Norman. Norman Nickle is good friend of mine. He is somewhat of a freak of nature, however. He owns several small businesses that all take mechanical genius to keep them running and he is up to the task. He is a combination of the Car Guys, Bob Villa and Mr. Wizard. He would still be a good friend even if he wasn’t a fixit savant, but he is. If you have a problem with your car, whether it is a flat tire, an odd noise being emitted from the rear differential, or brake problems, call Norman. If your garage door isn’t working, call Norman. If you have plumbing problem, call Norman. If you can name it, he can fix it. I called Norman. Did I mention we are friends? Oh yeah, I may have mentioned that. He brought his truck filled with every tool imaginable and his future son-in-law to help him get stuff out of his truck. He began the task trying all the things I tried with the same success. I did smirk a little about that. But instead of throwing up his hands and whining like an eight year old girl he kept trying alternatives until he had it mastered. It did take him about 15 minutes, while I only worked on it for about 6 hours. Did I mention he is a friend of mine? We sat around and talked for a few more minutes and then he had to go. It was the holiday weekend, after all.
So that’s how I spent my holiday weekend. And now I’m sitting at home writing this tome in clean underwear, once again proving the adage that all things turn out OK in the end. If it’s not OK it only means it isn’t the end.

The Foos/Simanoff Union: The Reason there is an Honorary Jew

Happy anniversary to our daughter Michon Foos Simanoff and son-in-law Lee Simanoff. I think it’s their 13th or 14th, but who’s counting. This liaison is the reason I have anointed myself an honorary Jew. From the very beginning of their relationship it seemed to be destined to a solid future. I remember that Michon wanted us to meet this special guy (Dad, he’s just like you, except he’s smart, tall and good looking). Although Lee couldn’t tell it, I was impressed. I was into projecting the “Be good to our daughter or you won’t like the consequences” demeanor. But when he asked for our blessing to marry Michon, Gayle Kelly Foos and I were both thrilled. And since that day we gained a son.
Not only did we gain a son, we gained a new family who welcomed us with open arms. Lee’s mother, Ann Simanoff, father , Don Simanoff and brothers Michael and Dave Simanoff and more recently Britt Shirley graciously share holidays and vacation time we have together. We truly have become good friends. But now there are grandchildren to be shared. We all agree that Ryland and Max are two of the most special boys ever. Michon and Lee only half-heartedly joke that we have stopped coming to see them; we are just in it for the grandkids. While that’s not entirely true, it absolutely is a big selling point. We all share religious holidays. Who else gets Seder and Easter dinner; and Christmas and Hanukkah, too?(that Kosher thing, though, is little too hard for me, being a member of Bacon Nation). We are quite the multicultural stew.
So, everyone that knows Michon and Lee be sure and with them a happy 13th or 14th (I think) anniversary. They will be celebrating in high style. The evening starts with soccer practice and is then highlighted by a a romantic dinner at Chick-Fil-A. Perfect!

Happy anniversary you two, and many more.
Love, Mom and Dad

Bill’s Birthday and Other Deep Thoughts

It’s Sunday afternoon and I am in Rockport. It’s cloudy and windy so I don’t feel like going fishing, and Gayle Kelly Foos left me…..(for 10 days to visit her elderly mother in Wichita) so I’m all alone with my computer. What could possibly go wrong? I guess I’ll need to fill my time by writing pithy musings about stuff. I’ve always had pithy thoughts, according to me, but the world was spared from my witticisms because I couldn’t type. I tried to take typing in school, but the teacher informed me I was by far the worst typing student she had ever seen and suggested shop class so I could learn a trade. And she had taught people with no hands! I thought about sending a copy of my Doctoral degree to her, but I still couldn’t have typed the address label (it’s not true that I married Gayle, a typing teacher by the way, so she would type my dissertation). Look at me now! I’m a regular Tammy the Typist. Now, I guess I should talk about what spurred my witty musings today.
A friend from my past had a birthday a few days ago. Bill Werth and I were roommates for about a year or so when we were 18. We’ve known each other since Kindergarten in LaCrosse. His birthday is on April Fool’s Day so everyone always remembered it, even without Facebook reminders. Lucky him. He and his family moved to the big city of Wichita and some time later, so did I. We remained friends because we are from a small town and that’s what you do. During that time in our lives being responsible meant making sure we had enough money for bail when we went out on Saturday nights. Lets just say that was a very good idea, and leave it at that.
Remembering his birthday reminded me of that time in our lives when everything was possible. We definitely lived in the moment and for the moment every moment of the day. But despite that, we both turned out to lead fruitful and successful lives filled with family and good friends. I do believe no one who knew us then would have predicted that outcome for either of us.
I am much older now, but as far as my thoughts, wants, desires and dreams, I feel almost exactly the same (so I am really 18, but there is just something really bad the matter that makes me have bad eyesight, poor hearing, walk slowly, and have a heart that may be a ticking time bomb). I have found some truisms, though. Here are a few. See if you agree:
1. Those who say that with age comes wisdom has never met me or any of my friends; or I’m not yet old enough. Yeah, that must be it.
2. Whenever there is a chance to not open your mouth, take it; especially if the conversation is about politics, religion or sex. This one was learned the hard way. Too bad I couldn’t have just read it in a book and absorbed the information.
3. Alcohol consumption does NOT make you witty. Another hard lesson.
Well, that’s enough. The sun just came out! A buddy just texted that he is at the pool with a drink in hand and needs company. I just need to remember #3; and check to see if I have enough for bail.
Happy birthday, Bill.