Surprise!

Some friends come and go in your life.   You make friends at the playground when you’re a toddler.  The relationship lasts until your mother decides it is time to leave.  You think someone is your best friend in kindergarten because they sit at your table.  In third grade you asked someone to be your best friend.   The friendship is legit if you walk around with “St   End” around your neck.   
  

In grades six through eight you make additional friends, but struggle fit in.   Many of those people will be in your circle throughout high school.   Some will fade from the picture when you leave for college.  I don’t think you truly value friendship until you become an adult.  

It is no secret that I struggled with turning 40.   I focused on the negative things: flabby stomach, less than perky breasts and a forehead that looks like a four lane highway.  It turns out none of that matters when you have a good plastic surgeon or good friends.   I have really good friends.  They surprised me this weekend with a trip to New York City to celebrate my birthday.   We tossed around the idea, but I was told the trip wasn’t happening.  They had me fooled.  The doorbell rang at 7 a.m on Saturday.   I answered the door, bra-less and wearing a scrunchie in my hair.  (You can take the girl out of the 90s, but cannot take the 90s out of the girl.)   They were smiling ear to ear as they announced their plan to kidnap me for the weekend.   Once I woke up and understood what they did I got teary eyed.  Who am I kidding? I cried.  They planned this extrordinary trip and coordinated child care. They did it for me.   These women have been by my side through love and loss.  We cheer for one another when times are good and lift each other up when they are bad; and there have been some really awful times in our lives.  They are caring, honest and loyal.   

We had an amazing trip.  There wasn’t a moment of silence in the five hour car ride.   

  
We reminisced and shared new stories. Truth be told, there were some things I wish I hadn’t learned. We laughed and laughed until our bellies hurt.  
  

They thought of everything.  

  
We went to dinner at a restaurant that doesn’t have crayons or balloons.  
 

  
We drank beverages that didn’t require a lid. 

  
  
 We watched an amazing Broadway show that didn’t include a cartoon character.  

     

     
 

We ran in Central Park on a beautiful spring morning.   
  

It was perfect.   
  

It turns out 40 is fabulous because  I have something at 40 that I didn’t have at 20 – true friendship.   I wouldn’t trade it for all the cellulite cream in the world.   

  

What the PARP?

It is PARP Reading Month(s) at my child’s school. Until one minute ago I had no idea what PARP stood for.  According to Google, it means “Parents As Reading Partners.”  Basically, the idea is to encourage parents to read with their kids.  We do that everynight, but I have to play along.  The children are supposed to bring in a slip of paper, about the size of a credit card, everyday indicating how many minutes they read the previous night.   The school sends home a booklet of these ‘reading slips.’  It is up to the parent to cut them out and place in their folder each morning. 
  
The note that came with the PARP packet might as well have said, “Here is something you will forget on a daily basis.    You will spend 20 minutes looking for scissors to cut out each slip.  Then, you will scribble your initials on the paper. Your child will criticize your handwriting.  After a few weeks you will forget about this program altogether because you have responsibilities that actual matter in life. You will lose the packet.  Your child will nag you in the afternoon about forgetting the slip of paper. At that point, you will email your child’s teacher asking for a replacement accepting the fact that she probably thinks you are a terrible parent.  Have fun!”

I forget from time to time.   Last week, I forgot to pack my son a juice box.  He took me on a guilt trip.   He had to drink water after eating his peanut butter sandwich.  Gasp.   There are children in this world that don’t have the ability to buy peanut butter by the gallon young man!   I have forgotten field trips and money for book fairs.  I missed “Pajama Day” last week at my daughter’s school.  She told her teacher she was wearing her ‘fancy pajamas.’ She had on a sweater.  She told a friend she didn’t have any clean pajamas.  Translation: my mom is lazy and we live in filth.  I don’t have an excuse.   I just forgot.  I am happy if I manage to get my children to school on time, fed and clothed.  Their homework is done.  We read every night.  What more do you damn people want from me?  Nobody said anything in the ‘Parenting for Dummies’ book about small slips of paper.  “But you can win a bike Mommy,” said my daughter.  That’s right.  The school takes all of these PARP slips, throws them in a box and draws one to win a prize.  One. They choose one child in the entire school.   I can’t wait for that day to come.  I am sure my daughter is going to be a-okay losing the drawing.  Perhaps, I will forget to send her to school that day.   

Razor-sharp battle

I recall, as a teenage girl, the embarrassment I felt when I got hair on my legs.   I was like an overwatered Chia Pet.  I’m certain that if my mother didn’t finally give in and buy me a razor I would’ve looked like a Yeti by the  8th grade.  Women will and do spend a lot of money to get rid of unwanted hair.  Men, however, come up with any reason possible to grow it.  A playoff beard?  The only game you’re playing is “Game of War” on your iPhone 5s, hoping to get a sneak peak at Kate Upton’s animated breasts.  You’re not even going to the playoffs as a spectator.   Yet, every hockey and baseball season you turn into a lumberjack.  What’s the deal? Most men don’t even care if they have hairy chests or backs.  Well, most straight men.   My gay friends are smooth as butter with bodies that you won’t find in suburbia.  Quite frankly, it’s not fair.   

A man’s love of facial hair begins during his pubescent years.  It is new and exciting, but just  because you can finally do something doesn’t mean you should.  The message falls on deaf ears.  If you stand outside a high school on any given day you will see a parade of Burt Reynolds wannabes with braces wearing Hollister sweatshirts.   I had to break the news to my son that a mustache is not cool on anyone, but grandpa. My father has had one all my life.  I grew up during a different time.   Plus, at this point he looks weird without it.    I have never heard a young woman say to her friend, “Hey, look at that hot guy with the stashe!”  

  
There are a lot of things teenagers say, do and wear that will drive you crazy.   I hate the tube sock trend.   Who thought that was a good idea?  Next thing you know kids will be wearing white New Balance sneakers.   I don’t get why anyone would want to suffocate their ankles with tube socks, but I tolerate it.  My daughter loves to wear bedazzled shirts.   I prefer not to dress like a craft store threw up on me, but I allow her to express herself.   My middle child walked around every day for a year wearing superhero shirts.  It pained me.  I let him be.   I draw the line at a mustache.  I will not let my son leave the house looking like he is about to get in a conversion van and cruise the strip.   If he wants to look creepy when he is older that is up to him.  Hell, who am I kidding?  I will buy him razors then, too.  

Lordy, Lordy

I can clearly recall being a kid and reading a classified ad in the newspaper that read “Lordy, Lordy Suzanne is 40!”  

For those of you in your twenties, a newspaper was where we got our news before the internet was invented.  Articles, cartoons and even an advice column were printed on paper.  The print was bold and perhaps something like Sans Serif.  No, a newspaper did not have Siri.    

 Below the cheesy birthday poem was a grainy black and white photograph of a woman named Suzanne.  Let’s just say the years were not good to her or she wasn’t good for forty years.  At the time, the woman in that photograph seemed so old to me. Her skin looked like a broken-in baseball mitt.  Her hair was course and unkept. Come on,  was that really the best picture they could find of Suzanne?  Hundreds of people would see that photograph and know Suzanne was over the hill.    Fast forward and there is no need to place a classified ad.  Facebook advertises your birthday for you.   I thought about removing a birthdate on my profile, hoping the day would quietly pass by.  It’s unavoidable.  Friends would post on my wall anyway.  Then, other friends would get nervous that they forgot the date and post their wishes.  Then, the kid who sat catty corner to me in 7th grade biology would follow suit.   Then, the toll booth worker I befriended would give me a shout out and so on and so forth.   In fact, you could put the wrong birthdate on your profile and I guarantee people would still wish you a Happy Birthday.
 
So, here it is.    I will no longer be in my thirties tomorrow.  I spent the past few weeks feeling sorry for myself.    There is a good chance, given my family’s medical history, that I have lived more than half of my life.  Over and over again people tried to cheer me up by saying,  “Forty is the new 30.”   Then, it hit me.   Forty is nothing like 30 or even 20 and that is a good thing.   There is something I have at 40 that I didn’t a decade or two ago: appreciation.  I appreciate the parents that bothered me in my teenage years.  I realize how lucky I am to have that incredible support system.  I appreciate the family I come home to every night.   I appreciate the incredible friendships I have formed.  I know  my made up friendship with Ryan Gosling doesn’t count.  I have friends to laugh, cry and occasionally dance like fools with.   I appreciate  little things like a good meal, someone holding the door for me, my child’s giggle and the smell of fresh cut grass.  I appreciate gifts because now I know it takes hard work to get a paycheck.  I am grateful that someone would spend any of that money on me.   I also value handmade gifts that come from the heart.  Don’t get me wrong, I would enjoy a pair of Christian Louboutins more than crocheted slippers, but I appreciate the thought.    Most of all, I appreciate being loved.  I’m not talking about the kind of love I had for Kirk Cameron, Kenny Rogers or any other Tiger Beat pinup on the wall in my childhood bedroom. You read that right.  I had a crush on Kenny Rogers.  We are still working to get to the bottom of that in therapy.
 
 I don’t take anything for granted.   I appreciate moments in life that, as a teenager or twenty-something, you allow to pass by without giving a second thought.   With age comes wisdom, inner peace and wrinkles, but luckily there is Botox for that.  Lordy, Lordy someone should have told Suzanne that when she was 40.   

Guessing Game

I am convinced my children were game show hosts in a past life.   They are constantly making me guess things, but there is never a prize.  Every statement begins with one question: “Guess what?”  I am at a disadvantage. I would have to be the ‘Long Island Medium’ to guess correctly and that’s impossible because my curling iron retired in the 1990s.

I recently jotted down some of the interesting things that followed after my children said, “Guess what?”  Well, that’s a lie.  I didn’t jot anything.  Who jots anymore? We keep notes on our phones.   ‘I typed on my phone’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it.   Anyway, here are a few of my favorites:

“Guess what?” …..

“What?”  (Children will speak out of turn on a regular basis, but they won’t finish a sentence unless you say ‘What’ until you are blue in the face)
….. “The caterpillar hatched at school.”  

How the hell was I supposed to guess that?  A minute ago we were talking about the character you unlocked on Lego Batman.  Plus, I thought caterpillars were cut from the Common Core curriculum.  

“Guess what?   (While eating dinner) ….. You have silver hairs on top of your head.”

Tell me something I don’t know kid.  

“Guess what?  (While playing with the Barbie Dream House)  …..  This Barbie’s mom is dead.  She wasn’t nice. ”  

Is she threatening me?  Did she see this tactic on an episode of the Sopranos? 


“Guess what?  ….. I slept in the corner of my bed.”

Damn it, I was going to guess you slept in the middle.  It’s a good thing I didn’t place any money on that bet.  



“Guess what? …... I just burped and it tasted like the cheese I had for lunch”

 I  believe that is why the hashtag “TMI” was invented.  


“Guess what? ……  I don’t really like those meatballs”

I could never have guessed that judging by the tantrum you threw 30 minutes ago when I told you I was making spaghetti and meatballs.  Well, guess what?  I don’t like cooking them.  How about we do a little experiment where you try to survive off the land?  


“Guess what? ……. I ate the grapes you packed in my lunch today.”

Well, I didn’t pack it as a decoration.  I am pleased.  Especially since I found out you throw out most of the food in your lunch box.   Let’s skip the middleman and I will throw my paycheck directly in the garbage can every two weeks.  I don’t mind that I’m using my Botox funds to buy overpriced snacks that go to waste.

 
“Guess what? ….. “Doug” (withholding child’s actual name to protect myself)  got a red card today.”  


Was he playing soccer or misbehaving?   I would never have guessed that because I don’t know “Doug.”  I couldn’t pick him out of a line up and judging by his behavior that may be a possibility one day.  


“Guess what?….. someone got mud on the floor in the hallway at school.”

I  hope they launch an investigation and find the criminal responsible. 

Britt McHenry 0 Tow company clerk 1

Have you seen this video? ESPN reporter Britt McHenry goes on a nasty tirade against an attendant for a towing company.  Britt was upset that her car was towed while she was at dinner.  So, she criticizes the lot clerk’s job, education, teeth and weight.  Britt clearly believes she is above this woman because she in on TV and went to college.  The funniest part is that Britt thinks she was hired for her degree. Bless her heart. That is like saying the restaurant “Hooters” hires waitresses because of their personalities.  ESPN wanted to give their mainly male audience some eye candy.  She may actually have sports knowledge, but was on air to wear short, tight dresses.  I am sure many viewers heard Charlie Brown’s teacher speak when Britt opened her mouth.   I have seen a lot of people responding to this viral video with posts along the lines of  ‘this is why you need to be careful what you say because you never know if you are being recorded.’  No, you need to be careful what you say because it’s the right thing to do.  You should treat people with respect.    ESPN has suspended Britt McHenry, but I imagine she will be in the unemployment line very soon.  Perhaps, she should have asked for an application at the towing company before she left.

 

 

 

“It is nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” – John Templeton.

Mama Mia! 

My jaw dropped when I read this story online. 






 I cannot imagine having another baby at 39 let alone 65 years old.  Yes, I am still in my 30’s for a few more weeks. (wipes tear)  I have already mourned the loss of my uterus.  I still have one, but it moved to a gated community in Florida.  I longed for another baby for years.  Then, almost overnight, the feeling was gone.  I am thankful for my three blessings.  I love holding my friend’s baby and it saddens me that I can’t remember my children being that little.  Yet, I still cannot imagine having another.  My children can dress and feed themselves. They can communicate their wants and needs; sometimes in an incredibly annoying whiny voice. My teenager has mastered the art of talking back.  But, I don’t have to worry about them putting their fingers in an electric socket.  I don’t have the time to chase a toddler around.  I  am only on Season 3 of “The Wire” on Netflix.  Perhaps, this woman is trying to get her own reality show or German women don’t go through menopause.  This woman already has kids ranging in age from 9 to 44 from five different fathers.  I think it goes without saying she is not  a Republican. 

 

 

Here is a list of things I would rather do than have four more babies in my 60s:

 

 

1.)  Try on bikinis on a stage in NYC’s Time Square


2.)  Be handcuffed to a chair in front of a TV with surround sound playing  a Caillou marathon.  (Yes, that little bastard makes the list everytime)


3.)  Tell parents in any school district their children must take a Common Core state test


4.)  Have someone follow me around for the rest of my life chewing potato chips in my ear.


5.)  Wax this guy’s back:





6.) Be Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager


7.) Wear these pants 





8.) Be a Driver’s Ed teacher 


9.) Be Amish (Don’t worry.  This won’t hurt their feelings.  They don’t have the internet) 


10.) Have to tell my own children everyday that the wifi isn’t working.  



 



 


Here is the full story from the Associated Press:

 

BERLIN (AP) – A 65-year-old German mother of 13 is getting ready to give birth again – this time to quadruplets. Annegret Raunigk, a Berlin schoolteacher who is due soon to retire, is expected to give birth to the four babies within the next two months, Bild newspaper and RTL television reported. She already has children ranging in age from 9 to 44, from five fathers. Raunigk said she decided to become pregnant again because her 9-year-old daughter wanted a younger sibling. Her decision was met with widespread criticism by medical professionals as a risk both to her and the unborn babies. “Any pregnancy of a woman over age 45 has to be considered a high-risk pregnancy; over 60 this is naturally extreme,” Dr. Holger Stepan, head of obstetrics at the University of Leipzig, told the dpa news agency. “The 65-year-old body is definitely not designed to carry a pregnancy, not of one child and certainly not of quadruplets,” he said. Raunigk told Bild that donated eggs were fertilized and implanted at a clinic outside Germany, which was successful only after multiple attempts. She defended her decision: “How does one have to behave at 65?” “They can see it how they want to,” she said, “and I’ll see it the way I think is right.”

Would you care to donate?

I am not a bad person.  I said that to myself over and over as I pushed a shopping cart out of the grocery store yesterday.  I wanted to buy bread, instead I was criticized by a judgmental cashier.  

This is the third time in a week that I have been asked to donate money at the checkout.   I applaud companies that partner with charities to raise money.  I hate having to defend myself for not wanting to pay $1, $2 or $3 to sign a piece of paper that will be taped to the supermarket wall.  I am starved for attention, but ‘making it’ does not mean seeing my name on a high-top above the soda display or near the lottery tickets.  But that is not why I said no.  I don’t like being that person, but I cannot give money away every time I am at the store.   I have a teenage son which is the equivalent of having a tapeworm.  So, until I convert an entire bedroom into a refrigerator I have to make several trips to the store every week.    Then, I have to go back because I forgot items on my list.  Actually, I usually forget that I made a list. 

On this occasion the cashier asked loudly if I would like to donate money to raise awareness for a particular disease.  My face got hot.  I felt like everyone in the room was staring at me, waiting to hear my answer.   “No thank you,” I said politely.  I donated twice this week and last week and the week before that.  Every time you turn around a cashier is putting you on the spot.  I understand it’s not their fault.  They were likely ordered by management to push the fundraiser.  Since I foolishly decided to have morals instead of releasing a sex tape, I am not a millionaire.  I cannot afford to ‘make it rain’ in aisle five. I give my fair share.  I am not heartless or selfish, damn it. The cashier didn’t seem to think so.  She lowered her head and looked up over the rim of her glasses as if to say ‘Shame on you.’  

To make matters worse, I walked out the door and was pooped on by a bird.   



I am going to start a GoFundMe account to pay the dry cleaning bill or maybe I can partner with a grocery store to raise the money.  

Vacation, all I ever wanted

I haven’t had time to blog the past week because I was on vacation.  To some people that would seem like a ridiculous excuse.  Vacations are supposed to be relaxing.  You go away to lounge by the pool or on the beach.  The most difficult thing you should have to do on vacation is lift a fork, drink a frosty beverage  or read a book, right? Well, that’s if you vacation without children.  

I convince myself every year that this year will be different.  My children won’t fight at the happiest place on earth.  They will thank me daily for bringing them to a state without snow.  We will laugh in the pool and bond over dinner.   The meals will be delicious, hot and cooked by someone other than me.   

Wrong.   

We were less than 24 hours into this year’s vacation when things went horribly wrong.  I was sitting in a lounge chair watching my children swim in the pool.  My kids have reached the ages where I don’t have to hold them in the water.  I can and did swim with them, but I can also enjoy watching while relaxing in a lounge chair.  

 Well, that’s what I thought. 

There was a winding water slide at the pool.  It wasn’t a tall slide.  My daughter went down six times, squealing with excitement.   Well, number seven proved to be unlucky.   The water was moving faster and she panicked.  Halfway down the slide she attempted to turn her body and flip over, but her leg got stuck.   I jumped in the water to grab her. She was crying.   Initially I figured the tears were brought on by fear.  Children will cry after a fall because they were scared regardless of whether it hurt or not.  It only took a few minutes to realize she wasn’t being dramatic.   I took her back to our condo to apply ice on her ankle.   I felt sorry for my daughter, but was also sad for me.  I spent money on a trip that should have been used to replace the circa 1985 countertop in my kitchen.  I was buying memories damn it, not a trip to Urgent Care.  It turns out the whole ‘when you wish upon a star…’ thing only works in the commercials.  After an X-ray we were told she sprained her ankle.   

We later learned, during a follow up visit with our doctor, that the diagnosis was wrong.  She actually fractured her growth plate.  What are the odds I can get the $35 co-pay refunded? 

Edit

I felt sorry for myself for a minute.  We were traveling with my friend and her three children.  We rented a wheel chair and still had an amazing time at Walt Disney World in between the whining and fighting.  The staff was extremely accomadating.  We had an incredible view of the parade at Magic Kingdom.  

Edit

I bought a $12 balloon and spent their college tuition on lunch.  The look on my daughter’s face when she saw Princess Elsa made it all worth it.  I will show her the picture when she is working a minimum wage job out of high school.  Overall, it was a valuable learning experience. 

I came away from this trip with this knowledge: 

1.) never trust a doctor you just met.

 2.) never order chicken wings in Florida if you’re from Buffalo.  

3.) I am stronger than I thought.

4.) I need a vacation from my vacation