As good as it gets

A letter to my children,

I know you think life is hard right now.  I made you brush your teeth twice in one day.  I am also the monster that wouldn’t let you stay up late on a school night to play video games, with Barbies or to watch Netflix.  I had the nerve, because I love you, to make you eat something nutritious for dinner,  denying your request to feast on cookies.

You think everything will be better when you grow up.  You can stay up as late as you want and eat junk food.  The truth is as an adult you will long for sleep and run for miles to burn calories so you don’t end up on a reality TV show called “My 600- lb life” .

You are convinced that, as an adult, you won’t have to do chores and can spend money on whatever you want.   Not only will you do chores, you will do most of them.  You will spend money.  A lot of it ….. on bills.

I wish I could tell you life is better as an adult – that you won’t have to deal with the drama of high school anymore.  That is true until you get a job.   If you thought the kid who didn’t return your text is bad – wait until you meet the co-worker who would eat their young to advance a career.

So, enjoy these carefree days.  This is as good as it gets.


Dead Man Walking 

I feel like a dead man walking. There is a violent vomit virus going through our school district.  I hold my breath every time I log on to Facebook. It seems every day someone else has fallen ill.  My initial reaction is sympathy for the sick child.  Well, truth be told, I am concerned about the sick child and how it will affect me.  Did my children come in contact with this kid?  Should I wash everything or burn the house down?  I am not trying to be selfish, but I must be prepared.  Waking up to the sound of a child vomiting is worse than anything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.  In case you missed the act in the center ring Thursday night, this GOP presidential candidate actually talked about the size of his penis.  That statement made me puke in my mouth.  

It takes skill to comfort your patient while cleaning chunks of food off the bed, carpet, wall, etc.   A child doesn’t discriminate when he or she is sick.   They will vomit on as many surfaces as humanly possible.  You could place a bucket near his or her face and they will turn and spray something that is labeled ‘Dry Clean Only.’ 

This time I have a game plan.  The designated puke bucket is on a stand outside my room.  
It could happen at any moment or I could get a stay of execution. I am hoping for the latter.  

Express Yourself

You can stop ‘liking’ posts about car accidents, grandma’s funeral and when the children of that guy you sat behind in 7th grade Science class get a puke virus. Facebook is rolling out five new emojjis today.   The instructions on how to access the new emojis were printed in several news articles in between the less important stories about ISIS, the crisis in Syria and a plane crash in Nepal.


Hold the “like” button on mobile or hover over the like button on desktop and five animated emoji pop up. Then, tap on love, haha, wow, sad or angry to express your reaction.

Facebook said it wants to give people a fast and simple way to express thoughts or feelings in a positive, supportive way, not to troll friends.  I remember the days when we would actually speak face to face with other human beings to express our feelings.  We actually laughed out loud.  Instead of typing LOL.  I know that is crazy.  Now, you don’t even have to comment. These guys will speak for you:



It took a year for Facebook to develop these emojis.  Think about that.  A corporation devoted 365 days to create animated stickers.  Facebook tested “Yay” in several countries, but it was dropped after Facebook’s team said it wasn’t universally understood.  There is an emoji for everything.  Many children know how to send a steaming pile of poop in a text message, but haven’t learned cursive.  I am going against ‘the man’ and teaching my children to write their names in cursive.  You can’t sign an important document with a crying cat, cactus or pan of eggs emoji.


I think I figured out how people choose tattoos.   Some request an intracit piece of artwork, a name or even a symbol because it has meaning.  It represents a moment in time, reminds them of a lost loved one or offers inspiration.  Done right,  a tattoo can truly be a piece of art.  Others walk into a tattoo shop and say, “I’m going to a waterpark next week and I need the ugliest tattoo you got.”  There is an unwritten rule that these tattoos cannot be hidden.  It must be inked on a breast or in the middle of a hairy back.  I saw a few dozen of these tattoos Sunday afternoon.  I took my children to an indoor waterpark.  These are the sacrifices we as parents make on a regular basis.  Our children won’t fully understand until they become parents themselves.   As a child I loved waterparks.  As an adult I feel like I am taking a bath with strangers in luke warm water.   Discarded band aids follow me wherever I go.   But I push through because my children enjoy it and I live to make them happy.   They ran around with their friends laughing and splashing.   They went down the slides over and over again.  I embraced the moment.  At one point I smiled and thought ‘What a great day!’  I was feeling hashtag blessed. Then, all hell broke loose.  A panicked lifeguard began ordering children out of the water.  It was  like a scene out of Caddyshack.   The sprinklers were shut off.  Then, this came out:


The manager wasnt catching butterflies.  Someone either dropped a deuce or vomited in the water.  It was difficult to tell and in my opinion this net wasn’t an effective cleaning tool.  A worker informed me that they would put chlorine in the water and the kids could continue playing in one hour.  I have suffered through episodes of Caillou, a cartoon about  a whiny child with unexplained baldness.    I have waited in line for hours in the scorching heat at amusement parks so my children could sit on a ride for three minutes.  However, to quote the musician Meat Loaf  “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that, no I won’t do that.”  And with that we packed up and went home.  

Shop ’till you drop

When I was a kid trolls were pencil toppers and not crazy people who insult you on Twitter and Facebook.   People on the world wide web can be vicious.  The worst offenders more than likely live in their mom’s basement, are highly medicated or both.  

I am constantly lecturing my son to make good decisions for two reasons.   1.) It’s the right thing to do 2.) There is a good chance you could end up on social media.  Case and point, this woman who fell asleep in an unflattering pose at a shopping mall.  A picture of the exhausted shopper has gone viral.  I hope she has a good sense of humor.  Her picture has been photoshopped into different scenes.  I predict she will end up on a national talk show.   These pictures made me chuckle.  Is using the word chuckle a sign that I am getting old?  Before you know it I will be falling asleep on a davenport in a mall atrium.  

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Super Fail

If you didn’t watch the Super Bowl you didn’t miss much.  The game was boring.  The commercials were boring. The halftime show was boring.  There was a ‘dance off’ between Bruno Mars and Beyonce.  Queen Bey almost fell during a squat, thrust dance move.    That would have been an internet meme sensation. During the show the stadium looked like a hippie threw up.  

I watched most of the game with my family.  We binged on snacks including taco dip, pizza, candy and soda.   My children looked confused when they saw the junk food laden spread.  She is going to let us eat all of this? 

My 8-year-old got extremely frustrated when we couldn’t fast forward through the commercials.  He rarely watches TV where that option isn’t available.  There was no such thing as On Demamd when I was growing up.  I had to record shows on a VHS player by pressing play and record simultaneously.  It took time to perfect that skill.  You had to apply the exact amount of pressure to both buttons.  Push one harder than the other and the MTV music video you were trying to record wouldn’t be on the tape.   I tried to explain to my son that many people tune in to the Super Bowl just to watch the commercials.  They have historically been creative and funny.  That proved to be untrue during Super Bowl 50.

Doritos had a commercial where an expectant father was eating while his partner was getting an ultrasound.  If this really happened, he would have been punched in the face after the first crunch.  The only thing this commercial made me crave was a  hysterectomy.




Mountain Dew’s commercial featuring “Puppy Monkey Baby” was just  plain weird.   However, it got people talking on Twitter which is how we measure success nowadays.



There was a commercial about constipation and foot fungus.   Colonial Williamsburg decided to promote itself by using graphic images from 9/11.  

Lady Gaga sang a beautiful rendition of the Nationsl Anthem.  It’s unclear whether or not she performed live.  One thing was certain, she was hosting the Hunger Games afterward.  



King Kong

When my son was little he was obsessed with King Kong.  And not just the modern remake.  He loved the older films.  He is an old soul.  Unique.  I will be honest, I got sick and tired of watching the same movie over and over again.  The graphics in the 1933 film were on par with the Davey and Goliath clay-animated cartoon series. 

 In elementary school my son was assigned  a project to make something using 100 pieces of any object.  It was to commemorate the 100th day of school.  I have no idea what makes day 100 any more special than day 79 or 84 other than it’s an even number. People love even numbers especially when it comes to pumping gasoline.   Anyway, he made the Empire State Building out of Popsicle sticks.  My son would eventually move on to something else.  Living in denial that my baby was maturing,  I packed the King Kong toys in a bin and placed it in a corner in the basement; just in case.  

My son turned 16 on Sunday.   We took a trip to New York City to celebrate.  I drove him, two classmates and my friend, Elizabeth, to Manhattan early Saturday morning.  I couldn’t possibly take this trip alone.  Teenagers can be more difficult to rein in than toddlers.  We were going to visit the Museum of Modern Art and see “Something’s Rotten” on Broadway.  These are things my son is passionate about.  On the drive down we listened to a variety of music.  Elizabeth was in charge of the radio and at one point she turned to the 80’s station.  “Oh, wow.  The oldies,” said one of my son’s friends.  The oldies? I dropped him off a rural road in Pennsylvania and we continued on our  journey. 

We were strolling through the streets of Manhattan when my son asked if we could go to the Empire State Building.  We took a subway near the popular tourist attraction and followed our map.  For those of you under 20 years of age, a map is like a navigator, but it doesn’t talk, have moving graphics or do any of the work for you.   We went down a few blocks and crossed several streets. “I don’t see the building anymore,” Elizabeth said.  I didn’t see it either.   That is, until we looked up.  We were standing at the entrance.   Now, I just had to pay $25 a person to ride an elevator to the top.  I grumbled a bit about adding this additional stop to our itinerary.   That is, until we stepped off the elevator.  The view was spectacular.  The look on my son’s face was even better.  “This reminds me of those King Kong movies I used to  watch.”  We both smiled, but I was fighting back tears.  I could see my little boy running around the house with a King Kong figure in his little hands.  I could hear him playing with the toys, roaring and laughing.   I am proud of the young man my son has become, but I miss those days.  The hardest part of being a parent is when your children grow up.  


I did something I have never done before and will never do again.  I got on a hoverboard.  I like to think I am a smart woman.  I know my left hand from my right.  I don’t put an s on anyway or misuse their, there or they’re.  I have seen viral videos of people getting tossed on their keisters.   There have been enough accidents that someone created a compilation of the most painful falls recorded.  Mike Tyson couldn’t operate one.   I don’t know why that is significant, but his name came up in a Google search so I thought it was worth a mention.   I knew all of this, yet I still stepped on one of these death traps.  I blame my co-worker who  asked  if I could bring it into the office so he could take it for a spin.

It has been sitting in my garage, uncharged since Christmas.  I shelved that sucker the minute stories about hoverboard fires started crossing the news wires.  My children haven’t asked for it.   They take after their mother in the coordination department.  I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was 9-years-old.   Nothing boosts your self esteem more than using training wheels in the fourth grade.
Before packing the board in my minivan I decided to step on to make sure it was charged.  As I raised my foot my 6-year-old daughter said, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”  I reminded her that I am an adult  and knew what I was doing.   I try to pull the ‘adult card’ once a month to remind her whose the boss.   It didn’t work for Tony Danza and it doesn’t work for me either.  I ignored her disapproving look, hopped on and it jolted forward.  I tried to jump off, but only one foot made it to the ground.  I was near the pantry and reached, arms flailing for anything to grab on to.  It turns out a box of crackers cannot be used in case of an emergency.  The box fell, sending orange fish flying everywhere.  I reached for a door handle, but missed.   I went down faster than Jeb Bush in the polls after a Republican debate.  I landed hard and sat moaning in agony for a few minutes.  After I caught my breath, I attempted to stand, but struggled like a newborn giraffe.  My 6-year-old was standing above me as I moaned in agony.  “Are you okay?”  I assured her I was fine.  She shook her head, her ponytail swaying from side to side and replied, “I told you so.”  I was hurting the rest of the day.   I iced my back at work and popped Ibuprofen.

You will not see video of my fall online.  I am a grown adult who doesn’t record her mistakes.

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.