Unexpected item…

I thought taking my children to an amusement park was exhausting.  That was until I took an 8-year-old and 5-year-old to the grocery store.  Now, spinning violently on tea cups while children scream at 130 decibels seems pleasant.  I usually make the trip alone.  I save money flying solo.  Children want everything they see on TV.  I mean everything! For example, my daughter has an unhealthy obsession with OxyClean.  She acts like a teenager at a One Direction concert when we walk down the detergent aisle, “Mom, look it’s Oxy Clean!”  It actually works, but she doesn’t know that.  She has been brainwashed by commercials.  So, my children want the cookies, yogurt, potato chips, etc. they saw on a commercial.  Stroll around a supermarket on any given day and you will see a woman, with clenched teeth, telling her children, “I said no!”   This time I managed to escape with only a few extra items.  We made our way to the checkout and of course, there are two dozen cash registers, but just one lane open.  So, I had the bright idea of going through the self-checkout line.  I was embarrassed I made that call.  It was another rookie move.  This wouldn’t be any quicker with two children.  I just made their dream of playing with the store scanner a reality.  They got a burst of endorphins every time they heard a beep.  This was so fun! It was fun for them.  It was excruciating for me.  They wouldn’t put the item in the bag fast enough after scanning it.  Therefore, I heard ‘Please place item in bagging area’ over and over again.  “Mom, what did she say? What was that?”  

  

I instructed my children to put the item in the bag and explained each item was weighed to make sure we didn’t steal.  My daughter got defensive and said loudly, “We aren’t stealing!” I’m surprised security didn’t come running. My daughter was talking about a crime and I was arguing with the machine.  “It’s in there!”  All that was missing was a straitjacket.  

  
 I encouraged my offspring to put the items in the bags faster. I just wanted to get the hell out of there, but it wouldnt be that easy.  ‘Unexpected item in the bagging area.’ 

   

Jeb on pause….

I finally got around to watching the premiere of “The Late Show”  with Stephen Colbert.   I am hoping to get a chance to finish that new movie “Titantic” next weekend.  Of course, I didn’t watch “The Late Show” in one sitting because my children don’t want me to relax.  They usually wait until I sit down to ask for something.   In this case, I am grateful for their neediness.  I discovered a real gem watching the interview with Jeb Bush.   I should clarify.  I discovered a hidden gem pressing pause during Jeb Bush’s interview.   Perhaps I am just sleep deprived, immature or both, but I found his facial expressions hysterical.  I think both Republicans and Democrats can agree on this.  

  

Did someone slip an Ambien in Jeb’s water?  Donald?
 
Don’t do it Jeb!  You are on live TV.  
  

Nice save.  

  

Jeb’s impression of “The Church Lady.”   Well, isn’t that special! 
 
The ‘I have no idea what you said so I will pretend to laugh’ laugh.    
  

Wake up little buddy.  You have a presidential campaign to run.  

 

Public Display of Affection

I spent quality time with my teenage son this weekend.  I only had to bribe him with tickets to see Jim Gaffigan.   He is a huge fan of the comedian.  There are very few things my 15-year-old wants to do with me these days.  He responds to questions with one or two word answers.  So, when he used a complete sentence to suggest “we” buy tickets I jumped at the chance.    Of course, in a teenager’s mind my money is his money and his money goes in a vault.   

The show was at the New York State Fair.  It is approximately a two hour drive from our house.  My son got into the minivan and sat in the third row.  He had his phone on and ear buds in which serves the same purpose a glass partition in a limousine.   I was basically his driver, but instead of a suit I was sporting Bermuda shorts.  

I had to park miles away from the Grand Stand at the fair.  We walked by food stands selling everything from fried Oreos to crocodile sandwiches.  I lost my appetite.  My son wanted French fries.  For some reason they were served in a giant dog dish.  

 
I don’t know if the dog dishes were on clearance or if the man operating the stand was expressing his disdain for the slobs he had to cook for.  There was also a stand where a woman was selling “Dirt Therapy.”  It appeared to be bottles of dirt.    If I had more time I would have stopped to investigate.    

We had decent seats for the show. 

  
There was one problem.  The couple directly to my right were obviously in a new relationship. They couldn’t keep their hands off each other.  The man kept rubbing the woman’s arm and she didn’t even have an itch. His hand brushed across my shoulder several times.  

  
It was irritating.  There are rules when you are sitting in stadium seating.   You don’t stretch, pass gas or caress your significant other.  

My son was ecstatic when Jim Gaffifan stepped on stage, but all I could see was this man’s hand going from her shoulder to elbow over and over again.  Is he going to do that the entire show?  I tried to hold my hand to my face like a visor, but my arm got tired.  So, I leaned forward so my hair blocked my peripheral vision.  If he kept this up she would end up with a brush burn.  

The show was fantastic.  Jim Gaffigan’s act was hysterical.   He is much smaller in person.   
  

Overall, the memory was worth the $100 I spent for tickets, gas money and the cost of French fries in a dog bowl. I love my son and enjoy spending time with him.  I could’ve done without the loving couple in seats one and two.   I give that relationship five years before they are complaining about someone else.  In ten years they will buy tickets in separate sections.  In fifteen they will be chauffeuring their son to a show.  

Chariots of Fire

When I was a kid I would tell my parents “One day I am going to be really rich and take care of you.”   I dreamed of being a network news anchor.  I was going to replace Joan Lunden. Well, that didn’t exactly happen since Lunden left Good Morning America when I was still in college. Of course, that’s the only reason.  I did become  a TV news reporter.  I worked in a medium size market  for nearly a decade.  I was born and raised there.  After living briefly in a few other cities I realized it was the only place I wanted to call home.  GMA was going to have to try and go on without me.  

It turns out you wouldn’t get rich by reporting the news.  I have a friend who worked as a reporter by day and was arranging fruit baskets by night.  She didn’t go to college to stick skewers in a strawberry, but it paid the rent.  I didn’t want a mansion or designer shoes.  I wanted to help my dad retire.   He worked in a factory most of his life.  At one point he held down two jobs to make ends meet.  My parents loved us and each other.   Sure, we never had new cars or went on vacation, but I had everything I needed and more.  Back then things I needed included a jersey shirt with George Michael’s face on the front and my name printed on the back, a pink cassette player and Aqua Net.

Until last weekend my father had never seen the ocean.   He was looking at someone’s vacation photos and said, “I doubt I will ever get to see the Atlantic unless you throw my ashes in it.”  That wasn’t going to happen.  I planned a weekend getaway to a beach on the east coast.  It took six hours to get there.   I envisioned us laughing along the way and the Chariots of Fire theme song playing as the waves crashed around us.  It wasn’t as magical as I had hoped.  My children bickered along the way. My daughter nearly threw up on several occasions from motion sickness. Traffic was atrocious and I may have developed Tourette  Syndrome.    It was still worth it when I saw my Dad step into the water.
   
     
It doesn’t come close to repaying a man who sacrificed so much for his family, but it’s a start.   

Half full

Sometimes my glass is half full.  Tonight we took the kids out to dinner and I was optimistic that I would eat a bite of hot food.  My children are getting older.  They don’t require constant attention at the table.  Someone else would be serving the food.  So, it was going to happen, right?  Silly me.  I forgot that my children are drawn to public restrooms like a Kardashian to silicone. I tried to herd the cattle to the lavatory before we were seated.   They didn’t have to go.  Well, they didn’t have to go until the food arrived.  Then, my daughter whispered, “I have to go..” I finished the sentence for her “….to the bathroom, right?”   

I escorted her to the bathroom dodging waitresses carrying trays of steaming hot food.  I envied the person who would get to sink their teeth into a hot meal.  I forget what that is like.  

When we got to the bathroom my daughter revealed she really had to go to the bathroom.    At five years of age she is still to young to go into the bathroom alone.  I usually wait outside the stall.  However, this time she asked if I would go in with her.  “Please Mommy!”  There was a catch.  She wanted me to turn around and face the wall.  The only thing missing was a dunce cap.  

Toilets that flush automatically are fantastic until a child is using the facility.  My daughter was doing her business when the toilet flushed.  The water splashed back on her keister.  She was disgusted and distracted.  She complained and moved causing the toilet to flush again.  She demanded,” Make it stop doing that!”  There was nothing I could do but laugh since I didn’t have my tool box to disconnect the automatic flusher. She got angrier.  I laughed harder.  The toilet flushed again.   Her discomfort wasn’t funny.  Mine was.  The toilet flushed again.   I was standing with my face to the wall of a bathroom stall while my child was getting splashed with filthy water from a public toilet.  We couldn’t leave until she finished and she couldn’t finish because it wouldn’t stop flushing.  I can only imagine what the other patrons using the facilities thought about us.  

We finally made our way back to the table.  I took one bite of my cold food and my daughter dropped her drink.  It landed under the table and on my feet.  I gave her my beverage.  She looked up at me as she took a sip.  Her beautiful blue eyes were smiling.   My glass was now half empty, but my heart was full.  

Sleep over

My 5-year-old daughter reached another milestone this weekend.  She was invited for her first sleep over.   The invitation brought her so much joy.  She practically skipped around the house gathering the necessities.  In order of importance: American Girl Doll,  dress-up shoes and a half eaten bag of chips. That would be one hell of a party, but we traded Barbie and chip crumbs for pajamas and a sleeping bag.  

I asked her not once or twice, but three times if she  wanted to stay.   “Are you sure?”    I’ve known the other child’s mother and father since middle school.   I didn’t have to run a background check or interview their references.  They are really good parents.   I was completely confident my daughter would be safe and well cared for.  I just wasn’t ready for her to want to go.  

She is still the little girl who likes to crawl in my bed and says “I love you” a dozen times a day. My daughter is my shopping buddy and doesn’t leave my side at most events.  I dropped her off fully expecting to receive a call in the wee hours of the morning.  She will want to come home.

The phone never rang.  It was like I was in high school all over again. 

I should’ve been happy.  My 8-year-old son was occupied watching a video of somebody playing a video game.  Doesn’t that sound like a blast? He has the video game, but instead of playing it he watches someone named “Stampy” play.  “Stampy” is a cat.  Well, it is a British man with a high pitched voice pretending to be a cat.  “Stampy” has over six million subscribers on YouTube.  Let that sink in.  

I had several hours to myself.   I could’ve spent that time reading a book or watching an entire movie.   Instead, I  checked my phone every minute or so while binging on hard candy.  How was she going to fall asleep without me tucking her in?  What if she wakes up in the middle of the night?  

  

She actually had a great time.  The only tears shed were my own.   I realized several things last night.  1.)  A cat named “Stampy” makes more money than anyone I know with a college degree   2.) I am one root beer barrel away from wearing support hose and playing Bingo  3.) I am going to need a prescription for Valium when my children leave for college.  

Boyfriend pillow 

I have made some regrettable purchases in my life.  “Lassy Legs”  didn’t replace shaving and ‘buff away unwanted hair.’  The “Perfect Fit” button didn’t extend the waistline of my pants.  It popped off and went airborne, nearly injuring a passerby.  That was a real self esteem boost.  Serves me right for thinking something purchased at the “Dollar Store” could improve my quality of life.   

I found a product that someone can purchase when they are living below ‘rock bottom.’   

 

It’s the “Boyfriend Pillow.”  I stumbled across this gem while looking online for decorative pillows. I recently updated the paint and furniture in our living room and it needed a pop of color.  I needed something to send my OCD into overdrive.   Who wants to be productive when you can spend time rearranging throw pillows?  I searched “yellow pillow” and the Google Gods blessed me with this item.  If your friend owns this  he/she needs a therapist or a Tinder account.  A stuffed man with half a torso and one arm shouldn’t be comforting.   It’s creepy.  I was amused by some of the product reviews over at Amazon.com :
   
  

   

 
   

   
 
Oh, and in case you were wondering:
  

   

What’s in the box?

I bit off more than I can chew.  I decided to paint  our living room.  Home renovations always seem like a great idea when you’re in the hardware store.  That’s because the couple on the cardboard cut out isn’t arguing.  You won’t see an advertisement of a man sweating profusely and cursing as he attempts to hang a light fixture.  There isn’t a woman on the paint can stomping her feet when drops splatter on the floor.   There should be a warning label on all paint products.  

WARNING: This product is known to the State of California to cause stress and anxiety. 

I wanted to brighten up our “living room.”   We call it a living room.  Some people refer to it as a “family room.”  There is a TV, comfortable furniture and it is just steps away from the refrigerator.   What’s the point of a room with furniture and no TV?  What are you supposed to do in there?  

The walls were painted a sage green in 2007.  It was time for a change.  My daughter had a very difficult time with this project.  I am apparently a clown and supposed to entertain her at all times.   I encourage her to play alone, but she knows how to lay it on thick.   “But, I just want to spend time with you Mommy.”  Well, this time I had to say no. While I was busy she found “the box.”  I was afraid this day would come.   What’s in the box?

 

The box contained toys I planned to sell at a garage sale.  Garage sales are one big party. What could possibly be more fun than sitting in the hot sun and negotiating with an elderly woman who doesn’t want to pay 25 cents for an item? My daughter was overcome with joy.   She hasn’t played with this stuff in years, but it was as if she found a long lost treasure, “I have been looking all over for this!”  That was a big, fat lie.   “You liar,” I screamed.  I’m kidding. I just wanted to see if you are paying attention.  My plan was foiled.  I will not collect fifty cents for an oversized plastic My Little Pony.  Plus, now I have to paint the ceiling.  I was distracted by her squeal and made a mess.  You won’t see that in the Home Depot commercial.  

Amish volleyball

It’s not enough that I spent another day at the amusement park.  My children didn’t go to bed until after 10 p.m.   How is that possible?  We spent eight hours outside on a sweltering day.  They played in the water.   Taking your children swimming usually means automatic alone time at night.  I feel like I ran a race, was in first place and tripped at the finish line.   

The amusement park passes were a surprise for my children.   I don’t know if you can call it a gift.  A gift has a positive connotation in most cultures.  Sending me with children to stand in long lines, spin repeatedly and wade in the water with strangers isn’t my idea of a present.   I was given a chore.   Okay, I will admit it’s not completely horrible.  I wish I could bottle the sound of my 8-year-old’s giggle when we were blasted with water on a rafting ride.  My 5-year-old daughter was grinning ear to ear as we splashed in the wave pool.   I cherish those moments.  It’s the other seven hours and 50 minutes that is exhausting.  There was something bizarre happening in the wave pool.  A man carrying a bible was walking around looking for people to save.  There was a religious retreat at the amusement park this weekend.  I was fascinated by his presence and in awe of his determination.   Preaching to people being tossed to and fro by man made waves seems challenging.  Then again, I did pray to God several times after being knocked over by teenagers.  Dear God, get these kids away from me before I hurt them.  Amen.  

That was yesterday.  So, when presented with the opportunity to spend a few hours alone today I jumped at the chance.  I dropped my children off at their grandparent’s house with a plan.  I was going to relax after running a few errands.  I had a pleasant drive to a local mall.  The sun was shining. I was drinking my favorite coffee and listening to Howard Stern on the radio.   I drove by a group of Amish men and women playing volleyball. 

  

There was a group of women huddled in a circle near the volleyball nets.  I can only imagine they were venting about their lackluster dresses and the fact that they still have to wear bonnets in 2015.   

I went to one store in the mall and left.  My 20-something self cannot believe it either.  I didn’t have any children tugging on my leg to leave and I left anyway.   Then, I went to the store to get milk.  One wheel on the cart was rebelling against the other three and spinning in another direction.  As I struggled to keep the cart straight one question crossed my mind.  Why am I wasting time at a grocery store when I could be doing anything I want?  Then,  I passed a few women standing in the vitamin supplement aisle and debating which probiotic is more effective.   Suddenly, my Saturday night seemed exciting.   I didn’t have to break up a single fight for several hours and can now cross ‘Watch an Amish volleyball tournament’ off my bucket list.  

Snack insanity

I am convinced my children have tapeworms. There is no other explanation for their incessant need for snacks. They want a snack before breakfast. They want a snack before lunch. They ask for two or three  before and after dinner.  

They survive the entire school year without snacking all day, but are famished in the summer.   “There is no way you are hungry again,” I insist.  My daughter will grab her stomach in a dramatic fashion while pleading, “But I am starving.”  I swear she could’ve been a star on Days of Our Lives.  

The grocery store clerk must think I have an unhealthy obsession with Goldfish crackers. My children also consume a large amount of also fruit, yogurt, etc.  The issue isn’t  what they are eating, but the frequency.  Yes, they are capable of getting their own snacks, but I don’t want them ending up on Maury Povich.  Children don’t quite grasp the importance of portion control.  

I make them throw away garbage and put their dishes away, but I have to clean up, too.   A 5-year-old’s definition of clean isn’t the same as mine.   I prefer not to live in filth.  I always remind my children  “I am not the maid.”  I am a waitress who cleans.