A Side of Rice

Hopefully Humorous (and sometimes R-rated) Musings About Life

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I’ve Got An Announcement to Make

There are a number of things I never would have thought I’d hear myself mutter in 2020. Those include, but are certainly not limited to:

What the fuck is a murder hornet?”

Oh, please. You know you’d vote for murder hornets.

“I need more fabric paint to decorate/personalize my face mask and headband.”

Glitter gold and royal blue fabric paint. But nothin’ for those grey roots starting to peek through.

“Look, I need the steps. Let’s go inside and pick up the food, instead of being so lazy and doing curbside delivery.”

Image courtesy of SafetySign.com. Because who says there isn’t money to be made in a pandemic (see also masks, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper)

“I haven’t filled up my car with gas in 2 months and I still have a full tank. And nowhere to fucking go.”

Image from the Chicago Tribune, courtesy of Paul Sancya/AP

“Well, we’ve watched everything else. So, sure, we can watch John Tucker Must Die – it’s such a masterpiece of American cinema.”

If you ask me, we should watch Bridget Jones’ Diary again.

“Oh shit. I never ordered your cap and gown. I wonder if we could borrow Noah Ferguson’s?”

Thank you to the Ferguson family for the loaner cap and gown, and the awesome packaging you put it in!

“What in the ever-loving pandemic hell do you mean you don’t expect a delivery of toilet paper for another week?”

“I really wish there were more cool memes about whatever the hell this COVID-19 thing is, so that I could share them on social media.”

And my personal favorite? “Hey genius…get dressed before you come downstairs. I’m really not interested in having all my colleagues see you walk behind me again in just your boxer briefs.”

Thank goodness no one was recording our Zoom meeting

The genius I’m referring to is my oldest son Alex. He made the guest appearance in the background of a work Zoom meeting, with about 15 of my colleagues watching.

But, I’m giving him a bit of a break because he’s a Class of 2020 Senior. And his final few months of high school have gone nothing like we ever anticipated:

  • There was no Spring Track & Field season, where he would have competed in the throwing events with his football buddies Will and Ben
  • There was no Prom
  • There was no Senior skip day
  • There was no Senior prank
  • There will be no Big 33 game for him to play in, with the other kids from Maryland who made the team.
  • There will be no Senior Week (now called SWeek) at the beach
  • There will be no graduation ceremony with his entire class
  • There will be no ‘Safe and Sound’ all night party at Adventure Park

And there was no formal, fancy, grand, scrolly-font-on-linen-paper graduation announcement to send out to family and friends, touting the fact that he had achieved this milestone.

Well, it’s not that an announcement like that wasn’t offered. It was offered, but we had no idea at the time if the scheduled June 3 graduation ceremony was going to take place at all. But that didn’t stop me from coming up with an idea for something special, to let everyone know just how special we think Alex is.

I had my amazingly talented designer friend Rebecca create a non-traditional card as an announcement. So, without further ado…

I have an announcement I’d like to make:

Cover of card

Inside of card

Back of card

A final accolade came in after the announcement was printed. Because of Alex’s accomplishments and awards for football in his Senior season, he is being inducted into the Walkersville High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Globally, things we are familiar and comfortable with have changed. And for our family, things we are familiar and comfortable with will be changing when our oldest heads off to college this Fall.

Change and uncertainty be damned. The Rice family will be over here putting together something good. Maybe even something great. Please join us.

Congrats to all those in the Class of 2020!


My 20/20 Vision Sometimes Gets a Little Blurry

Today is Alex’s first day of high school. I was able to obtain the obligatory first day of school picture. Evidently, once you hit high school (or teenager status), smiling is no longer allowed  cool  something you do, just so you can annoy the snot out of your mother.


This is my happy face, mom.

Was it only a few short months ago that the parents of 8th graders were jammed into a school gym with no air conditioning to celebrate the milestone of middle school graduation? Editor’s note: Sorry for the quality of the video – that’s what happens when you are a lame parent and don’t think to film the entire room, so you have to steal  swipe  use some fancy technology to copy as best as possible an uploaded version to Facebook by a parent who does have their shit together  was thinking it would be a good idea.

Was it only a few short months ago that my kid was already practicing his ‘we shant smile for anything when mom asks’ look, so that it took at least three tries to get a semi-usable photo of him next to the school mascot?


This is as happy as my face gets, mom.

Was it only a few short months ago that the video compilation of pictures moms and dads submitted was played at the ceremony?

Was it only a few short months ago that the parents, grandparents, and guardians in attendance realized there was one problem?


You see, our 20/20 vision for these kids’ future was a bit blurry. Because tears of pride will do that to you.

Whole class

Walkersville High School Lions Class of 2020

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Lessoning the Pain

When my husband and I moved to the little burb of Walkersville just over ten years ago, we didn’t know anyone. Well, except for his uncle and aunt, who showed up on the evening we moved in and asked for a tour of our new place. We really had nothing to show because the moving truck with all our stuff broke down halfway to our new home, but it was nice to know family would feel comfortable stopping by, uninvited at any inconvenient time they pleased.

Our social isolation didn’t last long, as we made friends with the parents of our boys’ classmates in daycare. But the real place we found our circle of friends was with the organized sports of baseball, football, and basketball.  We typically saw the same kids and parents throughout the year as we cheered the kids to victory, and supported them in defeat.

And it’s been that way for the past 6 years. We’ve spent some of our evenings and many of our weekends with these folks. So our closest friends are not our neighbors, but the families we spend the majority of our free kids’ sports time with.

Two years ago, our community was rocked by a tragic accident. Our next door neighbor’s teenage daughter was driving a car that was involved in an accident. One of the passengers was seriously injured. He was a teenager from our neighborhood. And the other passenger in the car — the driver’s very good friend — was killed in the accident. She lived 5 houses away from us.

We didn’t run in the same circles as the parents of these teenagers, but as a mom, it broke my heart to know what these parents were going through. The parents who did run in their circles and had been part of their kids’ lives were all going to be grieving. And while I was too, I was an outsider looking in. A safe distance from the major hurt.

Saturday, my sons had their first football playoff game, en route to a possible Super Bowl game.  On the way home, I checked Facebook and saw a post in the local high school news feed about a player who graduated in June 2014 who had died Friday night/Saturday morning.  My heart sank thinking the high school community would be suffering again.

Then this series of events took place, and I began to piece together how close yet another tragedy was:

  • when we arrived home from the football game on Saturday, there were more cars than usual at our neighbor’s house. “Must be having a party tonight,” I thought to myself.
  • cars kept showing up at our neighbor’s house all day on Sunday, and my son Alex said “they must be having a game watching party.”
  • later Sunday afternoon, the high school principal sent a message to parents and students to let them know June 2014 graduate Jon Sandoval had died due to possible alcohol poisoning, combined with over-the-counter medicine. The message was circulated via Facebook as well. Jon’s mom had asked that all parents use this as a teaching moment with their own children.Letter_from_Principal
  • while watching Sunday Night Football at my friend Rebecca’s house, her son told me he heard that the kid who died lived in our neighborhood
  • another mom texted me while we were watching Sunday Night Football and said she heard the kid lived on my street

On Monday afternoon there was a knock on our door. When I answered, the delivery man asked “Do you know the family across the street?”  I slowly responded “the Sandovals?”. And confirming what I pretty much had already figured out, the deliver driver said “Yes.”

The family wasn’t home and he had a delivery, so he asked if I could make sure they got it.  “Sure,” I quietly responded.

Later that night, as more cars came and went, I walked over to my neighbor’s house to deliver the basket. I stumbled and fumbled over my words, as I handed the basket to Jon’s younger sister Emily who had answered the door. I was barely able to choke out, “Uh…I’m your neighbor from across the street. This arrived today while you were out. Um…the delivery driver left it with me. So…I wanted to make sure you got it. And I  just want you to know that my family is thinking of your family and we offer you our sympathy.”

Emily very graciously took the basket and thanked me.

I was no longer a safe distance from the hurt. Even though we didn’t really know the family, this hurt felt up close and personal.

We’ve already talked to our 12 and 11 year old sons about this, as honestly and openly as we could. I write this post to respect the wishes of a grieving mother. She asked us to share Jon’s story, with the hope that it could make the difference for just one kid.

So, while I’m doing this to help with lessoning the pain, I really wish I could lessen the pain for my whole community.

RIP Jon Sandoval

RIP Jon Sandoval