Remember ….

My Facebook feed was flooded tonight with pictures of a doting husband and father.  There was a photo snapped at a party, on the sidelines of a football game and in the pool.  The backdrop changed, but one thing remained in each shot: a genuine smile. This was clearly a man who was happiest when surrounded by his wife and two young daughters.  I went to high school with this couple.  That was a long time ago. They were a few years younger than me.  I won’t pretend that I knew him well or could even call him a friend.  However, I know many people who did and are in mourning.  At the young age of 38 the man I’ve heard described time and time again as “one of the nicest guys I know” passed away suddenly.  I was stunned when I heard the news this morning. I have seen this couple around town recently and at school functions.  This isn’t supposed to happen.

 

I cannot begin to imagine how painful it was for his wife to break the news to the children that their father wouldn’t be coming home.  My heart was heavy all day as photo after photo appeared online.  Just days ago, the family posted a shot of a New Year’s Eve celebration.  They had no idea what 2016 would bring. I thought about that a lot today.  The truth is  none of us do, but we get so busy with mundane tasks that we forget that tomorrow isn’t promised. We have no control of the future.  Yet, we forget to be grateful for today. We forget to stop and reflect. We forget to count our blessings.  Then,  tragedy strikes and we remember what truly matters in life.

 

I am guilty of complaining when I should be celebrating.  I have put laundry, dishes and other chores at the top of my priority list.   This as my children waited to play or talk to me.  I did not do that today.  I danced with my daughter and laughed with my son.  I didn’t nag my oldest about leaving his clothes on the floor. I took time to tell family and friends what they mean to me.  Then, I prayed for this grieving family. I prayed for his wife. I prayed for his daughters. And I prayed that I never take another day for granted.   

  

Finding Nemo 

My daughter wanted an aquarium for Christmas.   This is the same little girl who won a fish at a Penny Carnival and kept it for a few days.  Every morning she woke up and asked, “Is the fish still alive?” By day three she couldn’t take the anxiety anymore and asked me to flush the fish down the toilet.  She thought it would end up in the ocean and spend eternity with Nemo.  I wasn’t going to spoil a good Disney movie for her.  

I know what would have happened if we purchased a fish tank.  I would be the one feeding the fish and cleaning the tank. It’s a chore for my children to put their shoes on.  When told to put her clothes in the laundry or make her bed – my daughter has a worse meltdown than a Republican presidential candidate who didn’t get equal air time during a debate .  The bottom line is I didn’t want to give myself more work for Christmas.  I was going to be busy ripping the skin off my fingers trying to get toys out of  boxes.  Many companies still use dozens of hard plastic twist ties to secure toys to the box.  I want to meet the shoplifter who prompted the need for such extreme security.  Was a bandit hitting stores up to steal one Barbie shoe?  

To avoid the fish tank chore we purchased an ecosphere.  What is an ecosphere?

This is the product description:

This fascinating enclosed world contains marine shrimp, algae and micro-organisms. Made from hand blown glass, each EcoSphere is a completely enclosed, self-sustaining little world. The EcoSphere only needs indirect light and comfortable room temperature (between 60F and 80F.) The EcoSphere works on the basis that a closed system recycles its nutrients and does not produce excess waste. 

My heart skipped a beat when I read “does not produce excess waste.” Sold!    The only problem is the ecosphere, which is slightly larger than a baseball, never arrived.   We received an email that the package was delivered.  The company claimed the product was left on our doorstep. 

Fast forward to January 5, 2016 and a man working for the local gas company knocked on the door to read the meter.  I was on my way out to get my son at school and pretended not to hear the doorbell.  I didn’t hide per say, but I stood still until he left.  There isn’t much to read on that meter anyway.  El Niño has saved me a lot of money this winter.  I drove down the street only to be flagged down by the meter man.  It turns out he wanted to do more than read the meter.   Get your mind out of the gutter.  This isn’t a Jackie Collins novel.  The meter man didn’t look like Fabio.  He wanted to tell me that a package addressed to me was on the porch of a house  a block away.  Fed Ex got the house number right, but the wrong street.  That particular house is currently unoccupied.  
  

The box had been on the porch since December 4th.  Inside was the ecosphere: the Elsa edition. 

   

The good news is my daughter won’t lose sleep wondering if the shrimp will survive.  She has a glass globe full of dead sea life.  

So long, farewell 

Hallelujah, he is gone!  I don’t have to see that little bastard for a year.   After I put the kids to bed I’m going to have a glass of wine and relax.  I’m talking about the “Elf on the Shelf.”  I buried that sucker in a box in a closet.   It’s beneath my high school yearbooks and coats from the late 1990s that I’m hanging on to just in case they come back in style.  You never know when the windbreaker will be cool again.  One style I hope never comes back is women  wearing men’s boxer shorts as shorts.  My friends and I would tuck the front of our shirt into the boxers and strut around town like we were something special.   

We didn’t have the Elf on the Shelf until this year.  I  caved  to peer pressure.  I didn’t think it was possible at my age.   I make my own decisions.  I proved the day I bought my minivan that I don’t care if people think I am cool.  However, I do care about my children’s happiness.  My daughter came home  from school on a daily basis asking, “When is the Elf coming to our house?”  She heard tales from friends at school of their toy elf’s shenanigans.  

 So, I bought  the “Elf on the Shelf.”   I spent $30 to give myself even more work this holiday season.  The creepy elf had to be in a different spot every morning.  My daughter was halfway down the stairs on day two of the Elf’s visit before I realized I forgot to move that little sucker.   I panicked and yelled  for her to stop.  The sound of my voice screeching in an otherwise quiet house scared the hell out of her.   The rest of the family was still asleep.  She cried.  I apologized, but am certain that will warrant at least two therapy sessions when she is older.  

One morning the Elf was riding a decorative reindeer.  My daughter giggled with delight.  I patted myself on the back.   By the 21st of December I was out of creative ideas.  The Elf was parked on the tree and didn’t move until today.  I told the kids the Elf was waiting to greet Santa Claus.  Meanwhile, their friends Elf  was putting toy wrestlers in headlocks, pooping out Hershey Kisses and dancing with Barbie.  I don’t have time for this nonsense. Why does the Elf have to move anyway?  It is the Elf ON THE SHELF.   It is not the Elf HANGING FROM A LIGHT FIXTURE or the Elf SITTING ON A TOY CAR.  The instructions are simple.  Quite frankly, I’m a little concerned my children actually believe this toy comes alive, but the rest do not. They saw Toy Story.   I’m not playing this game next year.  They will have to go back to thinking Santa has hidden cameras in the house.   It’s creepy, but doesn’t require me to do anything, but make empty threats.  

True Christmas Spirit

‘Tis the season for my 6-year-old daughter to go around the house gathering her toys, jewelry and crafts made out of toilet paper rolls  to wrap up. She is the queen of re-gifting. I remember going to a birthday party as a kid and one of the guests did something similar.  She re-gifted used earrings. Some of the girls laughed behind her back. Others felt bad that she couldn’t afford something new. As an adult I think differently about that box of tarnished stud earrings. Perhaps, the gift was actually more thoughtful than any of the scrunchies, banana clips or jelly bracelets we purchased. Maybe she sacrificed her prized possession in order to make a friend happy. Today my daughter wrapped one of her favorite teddy bears, football cards and a few crayons for her grandmother. She was so proud to deliver this gift. “Grandma is going to be so happy,” she said skipping to the front door. I patted myself on the back for raising a daughter with such a giving heart. It doesn’t hurt that she saved me $50.  

This video of equally as thoughtful children popped up on my Facebook feed. It was in between a post about a friend frosting Christmas cookies and another demanding I share a post to prove I love my dog. I won’t be bullied into expressing my feelings. My favorite chain letter-eque Facebook post is Share this if you love your children. I think we should be asking people who don’t love their children to ‘like’ a post so Child Protective Services can intervene. Those are the people I’m worried about. Anyway, I ugly-cried watching this video.  In this clip, children were given the option of taking a present on their wish list or one for a member of their family. I know at least two of my children would have done the same thing.

Instagram Husbands

This video is pretty funny.  It’s funny because it happens.   I went to a wedding this past weekend and forced a friend’s boyfriend to retake a photograph a dozen times. (I also may have participated in a dance-off.  A.C. Slater doesn’t have anything on this girl after a few cocktails.)  I blamed the boyfriend’s photography skills.  The truth is the lighting was less than flattering if someone was overdue for a Botox injection.  The camera has to be positioned at the right angle to get the Jennifer Lopez glow and avoid the double-chin shot.  If that doesn’t work you can go with the black and white filter.  In desperate situations you can add the blur effect.  The technology we have is simply amazing.  My children will never have to manually rewind film in a camera.  I miss banana clips and pinning my jeans, but not having to wait for film to be developed.  There was a 50/50 chance a picture would turn out to your liking. Nowadays, we can delete a bad shot in an instant.  Instagram is a gift from above; a middle-aged woman’s best friend.

 

 

 

Victoria’s Secret

I caught the last 20 minutes of the Victoria’s Secret fashion show on TV.  I was flipping through the channels when the musician “The Weekend” caught my attention.  He has an amazing voice, but crazy hair.  It looks like a horn is protruding out of the top of his head.  I don’t know if it is hairspray or a lack of washing that helps keep its form. I wish I had the confidence to leave the house like that.

Over six million people tuned in to watch women walk. That’s it.  Well, actually they walked while wearing angel wings.  They also pointed to the audience and blew kisses.  These ladies must have been exhausted by the end of the night.  I am sure their mothers are proud.  I don’t blame them.  I just hope my daughter doesn’t look up to theirs.  It’s an unrealistic goal.  Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.  

I cannot deny Victoria’s Secret makes quality brassieres.  I usually wear one while sitting on the davenport with my pocketbook on my lap.  The bras are more expensive than those at a big box store.  It’s worth it to avoid an awkward encounter with your elderly neighbor or son’s teacher while searching for a cup size.  The bras also hold up well in the wash and keep the girls from getting scrapes and brush burns on the pavement.  As for the rest of the store?  Lingerie is bait.  Thongs are torture devices.  The end.  

These models are making a fortune because they can put one foot in front of the other.  Meanwhile, somewhere there is a woman working the overnight shift at a factory to make ends meet.  There is a teacher who spends countless hours nurturing young minds who is vastly underpaid.  I know what you are thinking: She is just jealous.   I was jealous when I had to cram my body into a pair of Spanx on a 90 degree day to fit into a dress.  I was sweating profusely.  My body was begging for mercy.  I’m sure these models have never even heard of Spanx.  

Sure, models have rock hard abs and long legs.  They don’t have to push their skin aside to zip up tall boots, but my glass is half full today. Here are a few things I have that the models do not:

1.) The freedom to ask for extra cheese 

2.) The freedom to eat the extra cheese.  

3.) A stomach that is also a comfortable travel pillow for my young children.  

4.) A friendly upper arm that keeps waving when my hand has stopped.    

5.)  I can walk into a room without anyone noticing. 

6.) The acne of a 17-year-old and children to point out each blemish.  It’s a fun game. 

7.) You could light a match on my thigh after a power walk.  It will come in handy during the zombie apocalypse. 

8.) I don’t hesitate when the Barista asks “Do you want whip cream on that?” Hell yeah! 

9.) I get to try on a few dozen pairs of jeans before finding one that fits. It is hours of entertainment.  

10.) My back makes a cool ‘suction cup’ sound when I’m doing sit ups.  

 

 

 

 

 

Neverland

Christmas came early for millions of women (and some men) this weekend.  Ryan Gosling hosted Saturday Night Live.  He broke character in many of the skits, but his giggling was endearing.  He has come a long way from his days on the Mickey Mouse Club.  Many other child actors didn’t fare as well.   I admire parents who encourage their children to pursue the arts.  Unless you were a student on the fictional TV series “Fame”  singing, dancing and acting isn’t usually popular.  My teenage son joined the drama club in 7th grade.  He is generally a quiet kid, but comes out of his shell when he steps on the stage.  It is a beautiful thing to watch.  Plus, the actors are so supportive of one another.  It is a great group of kids.  

His high school drama club performed Peter/Wendy this weekend. The entire cast worked very hard for months and nailed their roles.   The script, however, was not as great.  If I were nice I would describe it as different.  If I were honest I would tell you it was freaky as hell.  There was a scene when the cast was simultaneously listing their  ‘happy thoughts’ while walking in circles.  So, there were about 25 people talking at the same time, but saying different things. I was waiting for Tom Cruise to start jumping on a couch.  Tinker Bell cursed like a trucker in this play.  The characters jump from speaking in first person to third person and back.  There were a few comical scenes. Overall, the  students did an incredible job in his/her perspective roles.  I was blown away at their ability to memorize the script, let alone stay in character through difficult transitions.  They didn’t have props or a grandiose set to use as a crutch.  There was a black back drop with writing and three black boxes on stage.  

  

Being the proud, helicopter mother that I am, I attended all three performances.  Then, I treated myself to a large margarita – which may have been what the playwright was drinking when he crafted this dark interpretation of Peter Pan.

Perhaps one of the students on that high school stage will grow up to be the next Ryan Gosling.  Here is one of my favorite skits from his appearance on SNL:

 

This one was good, too. Kate McKinnon is hysterical in this skit, but Ryan is still pretty.

 

 

and this one…..

 

Nails did

I went to a salon to get a manicure. I left with baby poop colored nails and hurt feelings. I’m not sure what was said, but I don’t think it was good. Please allow me to explain. My friend and I scheduled a ‘girls day out’ with our young daughters. First, we ate lunch at Ruby Tuesday. No, we didn’t have a time machine. It still exists for those desperate enough to eat flavorless food in order to avoid waiting for a table with whining children.  After lunch we decided to take the girls to get our nails done.  We rolled the dice that there would be a salon in the mall.  We stopped at the first one we strolled upon.   The prices were descent.  The manager directed our crew to choose a nail polish color.  The girls picked two bright colors.  Apparently, the trend is to paint one finger on each hand a different color.   I’m guessing the trend was started by a cosmetics company.  The girls were excited.  Their smiles were contagious.  ‘What a wonderful memory’ I thought.   

I grabbed a bottle that appeared to be gray. That’s a little edgy for me, but I decided to take a walk on the wild side.  I can let my hair down every now and then.  In fact, a few days ago, I crossed the street outside of the crosswalk and took a drink of my latte before stiring it.

The technician assigned to do my manicure didn’t speak much English.   She seemed lovely, but we wouldn’t be having a deep conversation about global warming, the crisis in Syria or Ryan Gosling.  Actually, we wouldn’t converse at all until she cut my fingers.  She got a little cocky with the clippers and took part of my skin with the nail.   She quickly apologized and dug through a drawer for a small bottle.  It had what appeared to be rust on the side and was about three quarters full of a thick blue fluid.  She preceded to pour this magic liquid on my fingers to stop the bleeding. Funny how I’ve never seen this used by a licensed doctor or surgeon.   I have no idea what it was, whether or not I will get an infection, but it worked.  At this point the manager suggested I cash out before the technician painted my nails.  They ran my credit card and overcharged me $5.   I told the technician that I would give an additional $3 for her and the young girl who painted my daughter’s nails to split a total of $8 for a tip on a $15 manicure.  I thought that was fair.  Plus, I only had three ones in my purse.  She looked confused. So, I turned to explain the situation to the manager.  When I turned back around the manager said something loudly in Chinese and every worker in the joint laughed.   They laughed hard; deep belly laughs.  They were making fun of me.  I don’t know what she said, but my gut told me it was rude.  I wanted to stand up and shout, “What’s so funny, huh? Huh? Huh?”  I would have said three “huh’s” for dramatic effect if I were brave.  Instead, I sat silently as the technician began painting my nails.  I instantly realized the color she was using wasn’t gray at all.  It was baby poop green, but I couldn’t complain.  My ego couldn’t handle another foreign language put down. 

  

 So, I walked out with baby poop green nails.  I guess I faired  better than the last person to sit in this chair: 

 

 

 

 

I hate myself for loving you

I have set my children up for a lifetime of disappointment.  They are Buffalo Bills fans. I was born in raised in Western New York.  It’s in my blood and now theirs.  My 8-year-old son went to bed last night when the game was tied between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots. The first thing out of his mouth this morning when I woke him up for school, his eyes barely open, was,  “Did we win?”  Bless his heart.  Like most Bills fans he is the eternal optimist.  We may complain about the team after a loss, badmouth a player here or there, but we never give up hope.   They will grow up to be loyal and, perhaps, have a prescription for Xanax.

If you missed last night’s game, there was a moment when Tom Brady was exchanging words with a player on the Buffalo Bills.   After telling the defenseman “F*ck You” Brady preceded to run to the referee and complain that he was being taunted.  He may be one of the greatest football players of all times, but he is also a tattletale.  Here is the video with my 6-year-old daughter as the voice of the cheater, I mean, Brady.  Did I mention Buffalo Bills fans are a tad bitter?

American Music Awards Wrap

When I was a kid I begged my mom to let me stay up and watch the American Music Awards. This was back when we had to walk from the couch to the television to turn up the volume or change the channel. Then, we actually had to walk back to the couch.   I lost my mind when Michael Jackson did the moonwalk across the stage.  I dreamed of performing on the show even though a dying cat sounds more soothing than my singing voice.  Actually, I had a descent set of pipes until I entered puberty. Not to brag, but I once had a solo in the Christmas concert at my elementary school.  That is when we were allowed to sing Christmas songs in December.  Now, it’s called a holiday concert and often includes cover tunes.  Here is what I took away from tonight’s award show: 

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Nobody told Prince he wasn’t performing.  He walked on stage with a giant guitar.  Either that or he thinks a musical instrument is an accessory.  A bracelet would be much lighter and goes with just about everything.   

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Jennifer Lopez is not human. It’s impossible to have skin and a body that perfect. She even looked  good when dressed like a raccoon in her opening dance number.  

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People jumping up and down in the shadows can substitute for back up dancers if Gwen Stefani is performing. 

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Nicki Minaj can be inspiring when she isn’t singing about her ass or male genitalia.  She told people to “find their purpose before it was too late.”  

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One Direction won the Artist of the Year Award despite losing one of its members.  Somewhere a guy named Zayn is crying in his tea. 

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The Rihana commercial freaked me out and I don’t even know what it is for.  

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Justin Bieber has talent, but is shopping in the wrong department.  It was nice that they let him have a playdate with his friends at a water park on stage.  

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Ariana Grande can hit high notes, but is incapable of pronouncing consonants.  
The Weekend doesn’t like combs.   
Speaking of combs, Sean Combs is calling himself Puff Daddy again.  You’re welcome. That would have been embarrassing if you ran into him and said “Hi Diddy!”  or “What’s up P. Diddy?” 

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Alanis Morisette’s song “You Ought to Know” isn’t as powerful when sung by a middle aged mother.  

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Jared Leto is the only man who can pull off a man-bun and pink hair. 

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Celine Dion’s voice is angelic no matter what language she sings.  She performed a beautiful tribute to the people of Paris, France. There were a few folks in the audience caught on camera sobbing.  Let’s hope they didn’t DVR the show.