Monday, March 20, 2017

You can take the girl out of the Basket, but you can't take the Basket out of the girl!

So the other day I stopped at Wegmans on the way home from work.  I needed some Buratta cheese, remember I told you it was a game changer for me and I needed some of my fake sausages.  Now don't get your mind all in the "fake sausages" I mean vegetarian sausages not something one would buy at Amazing Superstore.   Yes, I am a vegetarian and yes, I am a little overweight and yes, I know that an overweight vegetarian is somewhat like a have heard about them but actually seeing one is damn near impossible.  So again world, you are welcome!  Just doing my part for humanity.  Oh, as a side note for the first time in 17 years I actually ate a piece of meat over the weekend.  It was St. Patrick's Day, the Corned Beef smelled sooooo goooood that something came over me and I ate a slice of it.  OK, 2 slices.  Vegetarians take note; if you have not had meat in 17 years--DON'T!!  It tasted OK, but the texture of it was hard to swallow, literally, and the stomach pains I got about 20 minutes later were totally not worth it!  In my defense, before I took my first bite I did make sure I had the next couple of days off from work and that the bathroom was well stocked with toilet paper.  Fortunately for me and my darling family, I didn't need the extra TP, but the pain in my belly confirmed my lifestyle choice for at least another 17 years!  But once again, I am way off topic, back to Wegmans...

Now the reason I chose Wegmans over Market Basket was one of convenience.   It was closer to work and it does carry the sausages I like whereas Market Basket does not.  As you all know, I have a love/hate relationship with the Basket (as does every Basketeer).  Before I had kids I was a Whole Foods aficionado.  Once kids came into the picture Whole Foods was out.  There is no way I can afford to buy groceries for a family of 5 there without putting us into financial ruin.  So the Basket became my go-to store.  Plus, deep down the clientele at the Basket are my people, my kin folk if you will.

So I pulled into the only available parking spot, so maybe it wasn't the only spot available but the others were way over by another store and it was about 8 degrees out and the winds were whipping.  I get out of the car and as I start to walk away I notice there was a sign at the head of the parking space.  It read; "Parking for Expectant Mothers or Parents with small children".  Hmm, for a second I thought I should move my car but then my inner Market Basketeer came through and I started to play the game of semantics in my head.  Technically I am an expectant mother.  No, seriously, hear me out...I am.  I am expecting my children will clean their room.  I am expecting my children will complete their homework.  I am expecting my children will grow up to be respectful, productive members of society.  See, what I did there?  I just made a good legal case as to why I can be classified as an expectant mother.  Parent with a small child was another qualifier for the spot and yes, again, I can make a solid case as to why I fit into that category as well.  Here it is; I am a parent with small children.  Simple as that.  Nowhere on the sign did it say I had to currently have the small children with me.  But for good measure and so as not to be crowd shamed I may have protruded my belly out slightly to give the appearance of a pregnancy.  I may have kept this charade up for an aisle or two on the off chance a lookie lou was keep track of me and my belly.  So as I was perusing the cheese aisle I got to thinking; have I completely gone to the dark side and crossed over from a suburban mom who shops at the Basket to a stereotypical, rathced-ass Basketeer?  I have assembled some scenarios and I will let you, the court of public opinion, decide if I am more a part of the main stream or if I am more likely than not to find myself on the People of Market Basket website with my eyes covered over with a black band...

I was recently at a conference.  There were a crap ton of vendors there and to entice you to their table they had little giveaways. I am a firm believer in one per customer, but....this one table had the pens that anyone in health care has gotten from a conference, you know the ones that look like little syringes filled with blood.  Now, as a Child Life Specialist I am against medical personnel using them in front of children, but, as a mom they are cool "souvenirs" for my kiddos.  So I took one.  Then I started to hear the inevitable fight in my head; why does she get that pen and I get a plain purple one that says Medela?  Not fair that she gets the cool one!  So in all my ratched glory I watched the table from afar and whenever it was super crowded I would stroll by and nonchalantly take another one.  I did this until I had a pen for all 3 of them.

Another sketchy thing I do happens at Home Depot.  Whenever I am there I go to the flooring section.  I pretend to be looking at all the flooring choices and then head over to where the sample carpet and hard wood squares are.  I pick them up and carefully exam them before placing a few in my cart.  Now, these are free samples so I am technically not doing anything wrong.  However, the belief on the part of  Home Depot is that you are taking these home to see how they would work in your house and then potentially spend a lot of money purchasing them for your home.  I take them home so the girls can use them for flooring in their Calico Critter and doll houses.  Brilliant, right?!  I can almost guarantee at least on of my readers is going to start doing this and for that you are welcome!

I may not always be honest when it comes to coupons and store rewards cards.  I have learned if you are at Kohls and they ask if you have any coupons ALWAYS say yes!  Even if you don't have any!  I tell them I got one for 30% off emailed to me but I didn't have any ink in my printer, or it is in my other bag--- and I have never been denied!!  I am new to this whole smart phone world so this may be old news to most of you but the Savings Catcher on the Wal-Mart app is great!  You scan your receipt and it searches surrounding stores and if an item is found elsewhere for a lower price they give you the difference back.  I have had my phone 3 weeks and I am already up to $32 back.  My plan is to keep growing it all year and use it for Christmas shopping.  So what's my angle?  I have told some people that don't care to use the app to give me their receipt info so I can use it.  Scandalous? Not really.  A receipt can only be used once so you can't double dip but in some small way I feel like I am sticking it to the man.

Someone I know, and I swear to God it is not me, would take the extra Box Top coupons off of items at the grocery store.  Now for those of you without children in the public schools, Box Tops are like gold.  They are small little coupons on select items that when turned into the school is worth 10 cents.  They add up quick and the schools can get several thousand dollars a year from them.  I have never done this but, for the record, I would look the other way if I saw someone swiping them off of some Progresso Soup.

Anyone that works in health care knows about the tedious annual education we have to complete.  Not the specific things that are actually instrumental in saving another person's life, but the online learning modules teaching us not to share our computer password or not to talk about a patient in the elevator.  It is the same mind numbing videos year after year.  So every fall we need to watch a video/power point and then complete a test assessing our understanding.  Truth be told, 17 years in I hit "next" without reading a damn slide until I reach the test page.  Shockingly I get 100% on all of the tests.  **As a disclaimer I do read the slides/watch the videos for things like CPR and safety standards.**  Also, as I complete the tests each year I do wonder if they added a new slide saying "Yes, please share your password-we actually encourage it " to see how many people just breeze through straight to the test portion.  Someday it might come back to bite me in the ass but until then I am hitting "next".

When I sign up for something online and it has a microscopic list of terms 16 pages long I just click "agree".  Am I signing my first born grandchild away?  Perhaps, but I am not busting out a magnifying glass to read the terms to connect to the internet at McDonalds or to let Emily play a round of Star Stable. 

Another example of me bucking the system happened when I gave birth to Anna.  Sara, my first born was an emergent c-section  I had been in labor literally for days.  Then at hour 36 she was having some trouble so they decided to take me to the OR.  I was already numb and could not move easily when they gave me some medicine to clear out my stomach or something like that.  I took it and immediately vomited.   It was the most foul tasting liquid on earth and with my movements constricted I puked all over myself.  It was awful.  Fast forward 2 years and I was waiting to go to the OR for a scheduled section.  This time I had not had anything to eat or drink after midnight and my table time was pushed back 5 hours so my stomach was free and clear.  The nurse handed me the medicine.  I asked if I had to take it since I hadn't had anything to eat or drink and she said yes, you may have taken something and not remembered.  She then left the room.  I put it up to my mouth and the smell was too much to handle.  I threw it away.  She came back and asked if I took it.  I gave an honest answer of  "Yes, I took it"--as in I took it from your hand.  Perhaps a better questions would have been did you ingest it?  Now, shame on her for giving me a medication and not staying to see if it was taken properly.  Fortunately, by the time Emily came around the medicine had been improved and tasted like a grape Jolly Rancher.  So I can honestly say, that unlike Anna's birth, Emily's life did not start out with a lie.

The last example of my  questionable ratchedness is an oldie but goodie.  My long time readers may have heard this one before but it deserves to be told again.  Before Chuck and I got married I wanted to lose some weight for my wedding day.  I joined Curves..hey it was over 10 years ago--Curves was legit back then.  I would go after work.  Well, one day I just didn't have it in me.  Instead of going home and owning up to my laziness, not that Chuck would even care, I devised a plan to give the appearance of having gone to the gym.  I drove around for a while to kill the amount of time I should have been doing my 30 minute workout.  I pulled into a parking lot, turned out to be a liquor store, pulled around the back and changed into my workout clothes in the car.   Way to keep it classy!  In an effort to make it look like an authentic workout I drove home with the windows up and the heat on full blast as I leaned my face towards the blower.  I arrived home all red-faced and sweaty.  Chuck was none the wiser.

Yes, I know I was only cheating myself and I have long since come clean to him.  So after careful examination of the sum of my parts prompted by my attempt of shopping in a bit more upscale store like Wegmans I have realized; You can take the girl out of the Basket, but you can't take the Basket our of the girl!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

If a Tree Falls in a Forest and Nobody is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

We have all heard that expression at least once.  It is an age old question posed to make you wax all philosophical about what is reality.  From that quote there have been other incarnations; If a bear sh*ts in the woods and no one is around to smell it does it still stink?...If a man is talking in the forest and there is no woman around to hear him is he still wrong?...Is a frog's ass watertight?...the list goes on and on.  Now I am not trying to go all Friedrich Nietzsche on you, but I have a philosophical question for you to ponder.  It is one I bet you have never heard; If a bin full of craft supplies falls on a mom's head and no one comes to see if she is OK does it still hurt?  YES!  Yes, it does!!

This happened to me the other day.  We have so much craft stuff we needed to buy a 5 foot pantry cabinet to hold it all.  I noticed something was hanging out of the bottom of the cabinet so I innocently opened it to remove the scrap paper hanging out.  What I didn't realize at the time was that I was not simply opening the craft cabinet door, no, it was much more sinister...I was opening the gates to HELL!  As soon as I opened the door to the cabinet a rain of arts and crafts crap that would make Martha Stewart proud fell down upon me culminating with a heavy bin of colored pencils whacking me on the head before spilling all over the kitchen floor.  It was a loud crash.  Very loud.  Now, our house is on the smaller side.  It is small enough for us to hear each other's thoughts.  There is no way on God's green earth that my family did not hear the crash.  Surely one of them would come running to make sure their matriarch is still alive.  Nope, OK, they would at least call out from their rooms to see if everything was alright.  Negative.  Not one person, or pet for that matter came to my rescue.  I sat on the floor for a bit amidst all the recyclable egg cartons, cray-pas, Mod-Podge and glue sticks and realized no one gave a sh*t.  It was a sad, sobering thought...

This little incident was quite enlightening.   I am not going to lump Chuck in this whole equation, he does care about me and we make a good team together.  But my children don't really give me a second thought.  Once they have what they need from me I become useless.  I don't think this is unique to my kids, I think this is generally how it is with children and their moms.  Sara is 9 and starting to hit that age where she thinks she knows everything and assumes I know nothing.  This becomes even more apparent when one of her friends is around.  It is as if she can't admit she likes me to anyone.  I remember years ago when my niece was around this age my sister saying when she is with her friends she acts all queer.  At the time I had no children and I thought calling your kid queer was kind of harsh.  Now, going through it myself it is spot on.  She becomes queer with a CAPITAL Q!!  She rolls her eyes at whatever I say, she tries to make me look like super nerdy and like an idiot in front of them and that I am just all around uncool.  It is so annoying and I want to scream out, "oh was I uncool last night when you were begging to sleep in my bed because you were afraid of the wind?"  But I don't.  It is just a phase that all mothers and daughters go through.  Lucky me gets to go through it 3 times and between them I get to be ridiculed and mocked for the next 15 years.  YAY ME!!

We went to buy new furniture for our TV room the other day.  We are actually buying real, grown up furniture!!  I told Chuck the day it gets delivered we should ship the girls off somewhere for the night so we can say we actually had something nice for a few hours before they destroy it.  But I digress, Sara came with us and she was making suggestions about what we should get.  I told her that ultimately Chuck and I had final say and she said without missing a beat, "oh so it will be something ugly then".  It is that kind of stuff I am dealing with.

The other day Sara was getting ready for school and her hair wasn't just the way she wanted it.  It looked fine by the way.  I offered to help and was very politely told in a voice reminiscent of the Exorcist, "no I don't want your are terrible at doing hair".  Now, as a general rule I do suck at doing hair but all she wanted was a simple pony tail.  I CAN handle that. I didn't get upset or flustered by the wonderful vote of confidence from my own flesh and blood.  I actually had to chuckle.  I remember doing the exact same thing to my mom when I was about that age. Thankfully nowadays the girls were their hair long and straight.  I was in school from the late 70's until 1990.  My poor mom had to deal with the Dorothy Hamil bowl cut of the 70's, the straight down the middle with feathered sides of the early 80's and the huge Aqua Net hair of the late 80's.  She didn't stand a chance!  There was so much yelling, throwing of brushes and slamming of doors every morning it was a wonder DCF didn't come and take me away.  Being taken away by the state wasn't the only hazard I had to overcome.  My mom would do my hair every morning with a cigarette in her mouth, hey, it was the 80's.  With the amount of hairspray being dispensed each morning I am lucky to have not been blown up.  Oh and world, I am so sorry about the ozone.  I think I may have single handedly depleted it with my Aussie Sprunch Spray.  I wish I could talk to my mom again and offer her a mea culpa, Lo siento, Je suis desolee, Scusa, Ich bitte Sie, Sumimasen and I'm sorry in as many languages as I can.  I know I can't say those things to her anymore...but I feel as though she is somewhere looking down on me and laughing and laughing about me getting my comeuppance.  As a side note, I just had to take a 15 minute break from writing my blog to deal with a meltdown due to the fact a certain someone can't find a hat that doesn't make her look stupid.  Mind you we are in the middle of a blizzard and all of our immediate neighbors are in their 80's so I don't think they will be making any fashion commentaries.  But hey, what do I know?  I'm just the mom.

Sara isn't the only guilt party.  The other two chime in with their little digs too but they are just that much younger so they aren't nearly as bad...yet.  I did tell Chuck years ago that he had my permission to move out when Sara hit 11 returning when Emily turned 18.  I figure that would give him enough time to avoid the majority of the drama, hormonal instability and all around shit showiness of the female pre and teenage years.  I will stay home, not because I am a martyr, more of penance for my own teenage angst I put my parents through.     

When I was talking about the subject of my blog with Chuck, Emily said if a craft bin fell on my head she would come to see if I am OK.  I reminded her that the other night when that happened she ignored me.  She thought for a minute and told me, "well, if it happens today I will see if you are OK".  The sentiment is nice and I think she really believed what she was saying but somehow coming from the girl who yells, "don't talk to me" when asked if she has poop in her diaper...I somehow don't trust her to come rushing to my aid.

This is going to be a long ride....I guess I better buckle up!  Thank God for Prozac an awesome therapist and wine.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Grab some patchouli...I think I have gone Zen!

So my life is somewhat chaotic.  Three young children, a husband, an overweight puppy, two cats, one of which hates me, a job, a position on the PTA Board and two Girl Scout Troops keep me on my toes.  All of he demands placed on me and the ones I place on myself were really starting to make me lose my mind.  I seriously had one foot placed on the ground and one stepping into the funny farm.  Something needed to change and quick.  As 2017 was approaching I really started thinking about my life.  I am 44 years old.  So if I live to be 80 my life is more than half over already.  The second anniversary of my mom's death was also looming and I wasn't in a particularly good place.  I really started to do some soul searching on what kind of life I wanted to have in my second act...

For the past 17 years I have been working in healthcare.  As a Child Life Specialist I have a clinical role, however, it is a position that is not a billable service.  Meaning that the hospital can not charge the patient or the insurance company for the services I provide.  That translates into 17 years worth of proving the "value added" by Child Life Services.  Then it hit me.  Am I leading my life in a "value added" way?  Am I doing things for everyone else, adding value to their lives and not considering the value added to or taken away from my life?  About 6 months ago I decided to live my life in a new way.  I decided to live it for me...not for the way I wanted people to think about me.  So now I know this whole new Zen way of thinking may be confusing, so let me give some examples of how I am living my "value added" life;

Saying NO more--I love to help out.  If there is a committee I join it.  If there is a project that needs attention I jump in and help.  That was the old me.   The new me now takes time to see if the benefits of the project justify time away from my family.  Will there actually be value added to me, my children, my marriage, my community or my work?  If not, the answer is simple.  I say no.  Now, please note that if I have said no to any invitation you may have extended, don't read too much into it.  Sometimes I really am just too busy. 

Saying YES more--  This is new one for me too.  I have always been a people pleaser and since having children my life has pretty much revolved around them, and as a general rule it should.  However, in the 9 plus years I have been a mom I have kind of lost myself a bit.  I decided that in order to be the best Mom possible to my girls I have to take care of my needs too.  I have started to take back my life in small ways.  My family likes me with longer hair.  I like it short.  My last hair cut I have gone shorter than I have in a while.  Were they thrilled, no.  But I like it.  I love Anderson Cooper.  He is coming to town for a show.  It is expensive and the money might be better spent on groceries or a car payment, but I said yes to Anderson.  I am going to go and see the Silver Fox and not give it a second thought.  I will probably even go out to dinner before the show.  Oh, speaking of dinner.  I made what I wanted last night!  No taco dinner for the umpteenth time.  I made Oriecietta pasta with San Marzano tomatoes and burrata cheese and guess what?  They ate it!  Side note-if you have never tried burrata you need to.  It is a game changer.  If Emily asks me to play animals for the thousandth time, instead of saying "sure, I will play after Dr. Phil" I play with her.  I have re-adopted the whole play-chores-play mantra from my friend Dawn G.  Somehow the past year I have gotten away from being the "present" parent I am in my head.  Here's a big one.  I said yes to going away to a conference!  I have been away for a night here and there since I had my kiddos, but not for an extended period.  For some reason I always just deleted conference emails or threw the flyers away.  This time I just went for it.  I went to Florida, by myself for 5 days.  My first thought was I had to leave a 20 page manuscript detailing everything that needed to be done while I was gone.  In the end I decided Chuck is more than capable and I wasn't going to insult him with a set of instructions.  I had a great time at the conference.  I learned a ton, relaxed and even read a book! Everything went smoothly at home and Chuck not only kept everything on track he even managed to find time to clean out and organize our kitchen cabinets something I have been saying I was going to do for about a year now!  I came home refreshed and with a renewed sense of purpose.  The getaway could not have come at a better time. I needed this break more than I had realized.

At the conference one of the presenters was talking about mindfulness.   She said something that really stuck with me.  When she is faced with adversity or when something goes wrong she will say to herself, "something about this is perfect....I just don't know what it is yet".  Meaning that things might not have gone as planned, but it is not the end of the world.  There is always something to be learned from every experience.  I am going to try and adopt that as my new mantra.  To that end one of the things I have been working on is;

 Not sweating the small stuff--Working in pediatrics I am constantly reminded of how quickly life can change and I am pretty good about appreciating life and making the most of it.  That being said, I am not perfect and I do have times when I get bogged down in the minutia.  I like to keep the house clean.  Not museum clean, but organized.  Sometimes I would let that get the best of me and I would spend more time cleaning than focused on more important things.  Like Elsa, I have let that go.  Now I know there was an article floating around Facebook a few months back about vacuum lines.  How if you have perfect vacuum lines in your carpet you are not actively engaged in your life.  I agree to a point, but I think you can have vacuum lines and still have appreciation for the small stuff.  My vacuum lines may be a bit zig-zagged these days but I don't regret the extra time I am spending with my kiddos.  To that point though, I am not spending any more time worrying about the state of their room.  If they want a messy room have at it.  I am no longer spending every day cleaning it for them.  I will keep the rest of the house in relative order but I am just shutting their door from now on.  I have stopped yelling.  Ask my kids, I could be a yeller.  It might feel good in the moment, but in the long run it is ineffective.  My kids respond better to me since I have cut out the yelling.  When I get frustrated I say to myself and even out loud sometimes, "oh what are you being 3?"   or whatever the age said child is.  My friend Sherri taught me this technique years ago and I have gotten away from it.  It really gives you a minute to stop and realize yes, they may be annoying and yes they may be frustrating but they are only children developmentally doing what they should.  Mary Alice, our dog, is still a puppy.  She is not chewing stuff up like she was in the beginning but she does have her moments.  Not gonna get all bent out of shape.  One of my kiddos colored her own hair while I was at work.  Does it look crappy?  Yes.  Did I get upset?  Nope.  It is only hair.  It will grow out.  Another one of my kiddos refuses to poop on the potty.  Am I stressed?  Nope, I just slap a diaper on her butt at about 11 a.m. everyday and all is right with the world.  My 3rd child spends all of her time up on the top bunk bed.  It is a disaster up there.  I could make a stink about it everyday, but I don't.  Instead I am letting her build a good basis for when she will inevitably show up on an episode of Hoarders.  I have put on a lot of weight.  Am I happy about it?  No.  Am I beating myself up over it?  No.  Am I working on it?  Trying to.  Plus, remember what happened the last time I lost weight?  I got pregnant with Emily.  I just keep reminding myself I am doing my part to curb the world's over population program.  What is the saying?  Think Globally, Act Locally.  You are welcome world!  While I was going through the security check at the airport the other day my jeans ripped.  Not just a cute little stylish hole near the pocket.  Nope...a huge rip right in the ass cheeks.  I had nothing to cover it with.  Did I get upset?  No.  Did I pay a fortune for a "Tampa" Sweatshirt to cover it up?  No.  I just walked through the airport with my ass and new 'Hanes Her Way' flapping in the breeze. 

Does this shift in the way I look at life mean I am a better person?  Probably not.  Am I going to tick people off because for the first time in 44 years I am going to truly speak my mind and put myself first?  Probably.  But those people that get upset by me probably are not 'value added' to my life in the first place. 

Full disclosure;  While in the middle of writing this blog a situation presented itself that made me, how should I put this?  Go absolutely Bat-Shit Crazy!!!  There were a lot of "for f*ck's sakes", a lot of "crazy-ass bitch" and a whole lot of "people suck" 's thrown around.  So apparently I am not as evolved as I had thought.  But I am trying....oooommmmm, oooommmm, oooommmm....

Friday, February 24, 2017

I have gone to Hell and back!

OK, so I am talking about the real Hell, not that cliche fiery pit you think of, not Beelzebub's lair.   I am talking about Market Basket, on a Saturday morning, with a blizzard watch for that day.  Yes, my friends...true, living hell.  Now I know there are 9 circles of Hell, and I believe deep in my core that the 7th Circle (Violent) of Hell is the Salem, MA Basket.  Even though the one I go to now is much more rural it is still within the hellish realm. 

So why am I here?  The typical pre-storm bread and milk run?  Loading up on comfort food?  Nope.  I was running out of dog shampoo.   So my faithful blog readers know what that means.  For you newbies let me fill you times life gets away from me.  The laundry might pile up and on occasion I have been known to use a table cloth or blanket to dry off post shower when no towels were available.   Many times both Chuck and I thank our walking upright God we got a dog.  Not for the typical reasons; companionship, protection and life lessons for our children.  Nope.  With a dog comes dog shampoo!  You know what that translates to?  Buying a few extra days of not having to go to the store when you run out of people shampoo.  Yeah, I've done it.  I have used Mary Alice's Hartz puppy shampoo.  And guess what?  I have done it more than once and I make absolutely NO apologizes about it.  So I know I am fortunate and only work 3 days a week and I probably could have fit in a Basket run before the predicted blizzard but I haven't really been watching the news too much.  Not even my beloved Anderson Cooper,  who by the way I will be seeing live in person in 64 days!!  I just can't watch the news anymore without screaming obscenities at the TV regarding the state of our country.  So needless to say, I was ignorant of the blizzard heading our way when I took full advantage of 2 childless hours and took a much needed nap.  I have not been getting much sleep since I found out I was pregnant... With Sara...Ten years ago.   Sara has been ending up in my bed a lot lately.  She is a small, wiry child.  However, when she sleeps she spreads out like friggin' Christ on the cross.  I am relegated to about a 1 square foot patch of the bed.  Not compatible with sleep.  So long story, long....that is how I find myself in hell on this glorious morning.

So here I am wandering about amidst the countless number of larks and hoverounds tearing ass down the aisles wondering why I bothered to put clean, matching clothes on.  The clientele of Market Basket can be described in many ways but for this piece I am going to go with-- consistent.  True Basketeers know that the scooter rider to walking customer ratio is consistently disproportionate.  Now I am not an ableist by any stretch of the imagination,  one of the main reasons I shop at the Basket is because they hire people with differing abilities and I want to support that, however, many of their able bodied customers take full advantage of the plethora of free scooters they have available and since they are not really scooter users they don't know the rules of the road per say. I have gotten a scooter basket up my ass on more than one occasion from an unruly teen who thinks it would be funny to shop for their munchies while seated.  Also, the MB shoppers are consistent in their attire.  The official uniform of the citizens of the People's Republic of Market Basket is lounge wear chic.  Otherwise known as the clothes one has slept in for a fortnight.  For some ungodly reason I actually used up a dollop of puppy shampoo and a clean table cloth for this shopping trip.  What a waste of resources.

So I somehow manage to get a full shopping done without committing felony murder and settle into line.  Now, I am no merchandising expert, but, with a store as busy as Market Basket and with a clientele so volatile the idea of a fellow shopper shanking you in Aisle 3 as other shoppers step over you as you bleed out, is a thought never far from your mind, I would design the checkout area a bit differently.  I would actually leave room for lines to form.  The Basket is famous for crowding up the checkout area with bin upon bin of sale items.  Truckloads of pilaf and wafer cookies surround you as you try to successfully negotiate the unbelievably process of paying for your groceries.  I make it into the inner sanctity of the check out belt area.  I load all of my stuff onto the conveyor and just as the girl is finishing up with the person in front of me I realize I forgot my ATM card.  Oh for f*ck;s sake!  I have to reload my cart with all my groceries and try to back my way out of the line.  Let's just say that was as well received as a fart in church by the people in line behind me.  I pull over by the customer service area and call home.  Thank God that for once I actually had my cell phone with me and miracle upon miracle it was charged!  I call home and tell my betrothed my plight.  His love for me is so deep he was thrilled to pack up all 3 kids and drive 20 minutes to drop off my card only to turn around and drive 20 minutes right back home.  Yeah right.  My desperate cries for help were met with a very long, very audible sigh.  Turns out the 3 beautiful children that I birthed, the 3 children my every breath I breathe is for, wanted absolutely no part in coming to rescue me.  If I understand correctly I think there may have been some bribery involved in getting them to actually agree to come to my rescue. 

20 minutes later my knight in a shining minivan shows up, rolls down the window, hands me my card and drives away.  You could have cut the "love" with a knife!  I head back in, retrieve my carriage and settle in for another round of check-out line Frogger.  A lady behind me realizes she forgot a bag of tortellini and asks if I mind holding her space.  Forgot some tortellini I snort?  Amateur! Try forgetting any and all forms of payment.  When I tell my dad this story he causally says, "why didn't the cashier just take you next after Chuck dropped your card off?  They usually let you jump right back in line".  Oh, bless his little heart!  My dad has obviously never been to a Market Basket.  If you even think about jumping back in line you are literally asking for a beat down.  This isn't Shaw's for Christ's sake! 

I kept my head down, did my time in the second round of lines and  made it out with my life  just as the first flakes were falling.  Lessons learned...oh who am I kidding?  I could say I learned to be more aware of the forecast, or to always check to make sure my ATM card is in my purse but we all know this is just a typical day for me!  Market Basket for life!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


I really hope when you read that in your head you said, “Number-sign thankful”.  If not, I am not sure we could really be friends.  Sorry, but I never was able to conform to societal norms decades ago when the # symbol was changed to a pound sign.  There is no way in hell I will call it a G. D. hash tag.  It is, was and always will be the number sign to me.
That being said, with Thanksgiving mere hours away I am getting “Number-Sign Thankful” burnout.  It is that time of year again when people’s Facebook news feed gets jammed up with their friends and family posting daily what they are “Number-Sign Thankful” for.  Now I am not a complete Scrooge, I don’t mind seeing people posting they are thankful for their children, family and friends or their health.  I actually think the “Thankful for Us” frame people are putting around pictures of their loved ones is cute; it is the ridiculously superficial ones that make me cringe.  You all know the type I am talking about; “Number-Sign thankful for cozy socks, a mug of steaming Chai and a warm blanket”.  OK, so when posting these things keep in mind your audience.  I actually laugh out loud when I see some of these Norman Rockwellesque posts.  I want to comment back, “Bitch please, I know you!!  That pair of cozy socks is more likely than not a mismatched set of tube socks and I can almost guarantee one of them is your husbands.  That “mug” (wink-wink) of tea you are sipping on is really an environment depleting, re-heated, Styrofoam cup you got through the Dunks drive through 4 hours ago while chauffeuring your ungrateful offspring to their activities.  Oh, and that good book you claim to be reading, I bet your TV is tuned to Bravo and you are watching one of the Real Housewives incarnations. Don’t get me wrong, I watch my fair share of trashy TV, but I can honestly say I have never watched one of those deplorable Real Housewife shows.  Though, this goes without saying, Much Love Andy Cohen!!  Muah!!  See you in April with my boyfriend Anderson!  I am going to see their AC2 show and I can’t wait.  The births of my children, my wedding day and being in the same room with Anderson Cooper have been the most anticipated events in my life.  Don’t ask me to rank them in order because there may be some hurt feelings in my house…

But back to my story… How am I able to read between the lines of a FB post and real life you ask?  Because this is my real-life too!  We are all just a bunch of hot messes trying to survive the day.  So in keeping with that theme and the spirit of the season I am going to let you in on some of the things that I am truly “Number-Sign Thankful” for;

Number-Sign Thankful the Presidential Election is over.  Now, it is not for the reasons you are guessing.  Though, as a registered Independent I am Number-Sign Thankful I am not getting a call from each candidate every two minutes.  But now, hopefully Anderson Cooper can go back to his regular, tried and true format with him sitting at his anchor desk filling me in on the news of the day.  I am sick of the bat-shit crazies, from both sides, that have made up the panel discussions for the past 18 months.  Please bring back the best 5 minutes in television each day, The Ridiculist.  I mean if not for the Ridiculist would the world have ever learned of Prancercizing?  Would we have heard The Coop giggle uncontrollably when saying the name Gerard Depardieu?  Would I have ever heard the death metal song, “Wolf Blitzer?” Probably not.  So Anderson, you have until April to get back in the swing of things or you and I will have a little talk.

Number-Sign Thankful for the Internet.  The internet is one of the most prolific game changers to come along in my life-time.  Not only can we connect with people around the world we would never otherwise come in contact with, we can learn anything and everything on infinite topics with just a click of the mouse, but more than that I can see what every Real World Cast has been up to for the last 20 years.  I can follow Kanye’s meltdown in real time.  I can binge watch Dr. Pimple Popper videos on You Tube—an oddly relaxing pastime Sara and I have spent endless hours bonding over.  Without the internet I would have never known there is a whole subculture dedicated to making slow motion videos of things being flattened in a compressor.  When I am faced with household chores or spending time going down the rabbit hole that is the world wide web I will pick random Buzz Feed Top 10 lists Every. Single. Time.  Forget it when I get on a Joe Santagato kick.  Who knew there were so many Idiots of the Internet?  I did.  You know why?  Because I have watched every one of Santagato’s Idiots of the Internet Videos multiple times over.  So, rhetorical question here…does that make me one?

Number-Sign Thankful the girls’ pediatrician is not my Facebook friend.  He is wonderful and I have the utmost respect for his knowledge and skills, however, I have been lying to him for years.  Well, OK, I lied to his face once, but since then it has been more of a lie of omission.  Two years ago at Emily’s one year appointment he asked if we transitioned her from bottle to cup and I kind of tilted my head, rubbed the sweat off the back of my neck and in a high-pitched voice made a noise that resembled; mm-hmm.  So technically I never truly verbalized a real definitive answer.  I just made a guttural vocalization that when put under cross examination could go either way.  Since it was never brought up subsequent to that conversation I have never offered additional information on the subject.  If he were my Facebook friend I would be Number-Sign Screwed!  Somehow Emily has turned 3 and still uses a bottle at night to fall asleep…I know, right?  The WORST kind of bottle!!  So thank Christ he has never brought it up during an appointment because Emily sees no shame in still using a bottle and would proudly pound one in front of anyone as if it were a pint of Guinness. 

Number-Sign Thankful for Emily’s honesty. So during a recent outing to Bass Pro Shop, or as I like to call it; the poor man’s zoo, Emily made an observation.  She stopped what she was doing, looked me up and down then stared right into my soul and declared to all who would listen, “Mom, you’re fat!”  Sara and Anna stopped in their tracks and looked as if a nuclear bomb was about to go off.  Hmm, I guess you are right Emily, I am fat… I responded.  Thank God she brought it to my attention.  I knew something was off, all my clothes were way too tight, and my double chin is about a double chin and a half at this point, the numbers on the scale for some reason keep climbing in an upward pattern.  Something was up but I just couldn’t put my finger on it.  I am so glad she decided, while out in public mind you, to put all the pieces together for me and announce to the world what she discovered.  That child has impeccable timing.

Number-Sign Thankful for Tosh.0.  Whenever life or one of my children gets me down there is nothing like watching an episode of Tosh.0 to pick me up.  It’s like the saying goes; “No matter what, there is always, always something to be grateful for.”  Sometimes not being on an episode with Daniel Tosh is the one something to be grateful for that day.  After watching the complete white-trash, sh$t show that is Tosh.0 makes me not feel so bad about myself.  Speaking of white trash, after our trip to Bass Pro Shop I did come home and watch Tosh On Demand.  I may be going to hell being one of his biggest fans, but hey, at least I will have a smile on my face when I get there.

Number-Sign Thankful for 8 easily accessible toilets in the NICU.  If you have been following my blog for any length of time you know that I have some rather effed up, to put it mildly, GI issues.  I am supposed to be on this ridiculously crazy diet to help control flare-ups but I would be less than honest if I said I followed the diet.  I do religiously follow 2 Low FODMAP Facebook pages so that has to count for something, right?  Now, the thing with my GI issue is that it is completely unpredictable.  I could eat a trigger food and not have an acute reaction to it…I might not get symptoms from the offending food for several days.  That makes for an interesting life.  I could be having a great day and out of the blue, literally from one second to the next, I have to go to the bathroom.  Doesn’t matter if I am driving, talking on the phone or holding a baby at work…I need to go and I need to go now.  There are no second chances to get this right.  If I miss my window of opportunity of making it to the restroom, and let me tell you, I will not be doing any “resting” in there, I will need to move out of the country and join some type of program akin to a Witness Protection Program.  A Shitness Protection Program if you will.  Fortunately at work there are 8 toilets strategically placed around the unit.  From any given spot in the NICU I know how many ass-clenched, speed walking steps I need to take to get to every last one of those toilets.  I have been in the NICU for 7 years now and I have yet to join the Shitness Protection Program and for that I am truly Number-Sign Thankful.

So the moral of this blog is; be thankful for the truly important things in your life; family, friends and health…but know that no matter what kind of fantasy life you try to put out there for others to see, we are all just in this together and when all else fails, be Number-Sign Thankful you are not getting a call from Daniel Tosh’s production company.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

There's a Mole in our house...

Seriously, there was a mole in our house.  I am not talking about the saboteur kind of mole portrayed on the TV show hosted by my imaginary boyfriend in his younger years.   What, you didn't have faith in me  I could work Anderson Cooper into a blog about a rodent?  Oh ye of little faith...Google it!  My little Andy was the host of the reality show called "The Mole" back in the day.   But back to my story...

So about 2 weeks ago I was sitting on the couch watching TV.  Chuck walks in with a clear plastic box and says, "look what I found".  I look over and I see what looks like a cat turd in the box.  I asked why he brought it in and he said because it was crying, I couldn't just leave it there.  Crying?  What?  Turns out it wasn't a cat turd, it was a newborn rodent, less than an inch long!  I need to get my glasses fixed.  Mary Alice, our dog ate my glasses.  Chewed through the lens and everything!  I swear to God my eye doctor thought I was making up a lame excuse as to why I wasn't wearing my glasses, that was until I pulled the eyeglass carcass out of the case...

So Chuck takes the little creature into the kitchen to show the girls.  The 3 of them start "oh-ing" and "aw-ing".  Great, I think.  Now I'm in for it.  They want to keep!  For Christ's sake...  So five minutes in they have it in a plastic little critter cage and are You-Tubing how to feed newborn mice.  So here is my husband, who if he found this little animal a few weeks later when it was full grown would have set a trap to kill it, is now hand feeding it milk from a paintbrush.  Keep in mind, Chuck is NOT a fan of the dog or cats or companion pets in general, yet he has told the girls we can keep this little, fetal looking rodent.  I am thinking, OK, so we keep it but to what end?  Are we going to keep it forever?  Are we going to let it go after we nurture it back to health only to be set free and later eaten by Mary Alice.  She does not have a refined palette by any means.  She has been known to snack on field mice, multiple moles, a baby bunny and oh yeah-sh*t.  Actual sh*t!  She pulled one of Emily's poopy diapers out of the trash and ate a fist sized lump of crap before I could get over to her.  You think for one second she would hesitate before devouring a fellow "pet"?  Plus, by the time the creature, who now has been named Penny-Cookie is able to be released it will be domesticated...even if he escaped Mary Alice's wrath, it wouldn't survive.  There isn't going to be milk soaked paint brushes in the wild for her to suck on.  So I guess we (meaning me) is in it for the long haul.  Yay!!  (said in mockingly triumphant voice, with my arms half-heartedly raised).  

OK, so if you know me at all you know I don't do anything half-assed.  Well, maybe exercising.  That I mail in.  I think I told you all about the time I was trying to get into shape for my wedding and I really wasn't feeling it one day so I changed into my gym clothes in a liquor store parking lot and drove around with my face leaning towards the vents with the heat on full blast.  By the time I got home I was all red and sweaty giving the appearance of a solid workout.  That may or may not have happened more than once.  But I digress....when it comes to taking care of my pets that is a different story.  I remember years ago one of my friends told me when she died she wanted to come back as one of my pets.  What up Shannon?!!  So it was now on me to keep this thing alive.

I ask for advice and I am told I need to keep it warm so I fill a little water bottle with warm water and replace it every few hours.  I also find out I need to "help" it pee and poop.  So as I am wiping it's tiny ass with a warm paper towel I start to contemplate my life and where did it go so wrong that I am sitting alone in my kitchen at 2 in the morning wiping some rodents ass trying to get it to sh*t on me?  Hmm.  Really?  Who was I or what did I do in a past life to deserve this?  Was I Genghis Khan for f*ck's sake? 

So we are one day into running our animal rescue center.  I go to Target to get something and I inexplicably find myself at Petco purchasing a teeny, tiny bottle and cat formula.  I know full well it is not a cat, but I am thinking it is closer to a cat than a cow.  So maybe cat milk is better for it than cow milk?  That decision would of course come back to bite me in the ass. Oh and I decided it was a mole and not a mouse.  It's eyes were funky and when I did a google image search of baby moles it looked just like one, plus, we have a crap ton of moles living in our yard.

So we are on about day three of the rescue mission and my time in the NICU is really starting to show.  I am feeding this thing every two hours....I am diligent about maintaining its temperature even providing modified kangaroo, or skin to skin care....I would hold it between my hands trying to keep it warm but there is no way in hell I would put it on my chest!!  The thing was so tiny it would get lost in there and probably crushed by one of my boobs and how would I explain that to the girls?  Then I notice Penny's belly and I don't like the looks of it.  It looks distended, dusky and then eventually you can see a black blob under the transparent skin.  Great!  I gave the baby mole NEC.  I tuck Penny-Cookie back into her blanket, warm up her water bottle and put her back in the cabinet.  Oh yeah, so we have to keep her in a safe spot away from the cats and dog so Chuck puts her in the cabinet with our drinking glasses.  So while we are saving one beings life I may just be endangering all of ours by exposing my family to the hantavirus.  At one point Anna spiked a fever with no other symptoms...I was prepared to tell the ER to call Dan Riskin from Monsters Inside of Me, that we have an episode for him...

So we get home from picking the girls up at school they  want to feed Penny.  I tell them sure.  Poor Anna gets the critter tank down and makes the discovery.  Poor Penny is dead.  Great!  I didn't even want this thing to begin with and now I am the one home that has to help them process the death and listen to them sob.  I get accused of killing it--why did you give it cat milk and not mole milk?  Yeah, like that was the deciding factor in it's demise.  Anna decorates a jewelry box to bury Penny in.  Sara goes on and on about how this is the worst day ever and instead of validating her feelings I remind her the day Grandma died was maybe a little worse.  That went over like a friggin fart in church!  While sitting in the midst of this chaos I go off into my little happy place in my mind...sitting at Cafe Zurich at the top of the Ramblas in Barcelona, drinking una clarita without a care in the world.  That is short lived because now we have to have a funeral and bury Penny.  Chuck comes home, digs a hole next to our dead cat and bury the rodent.  The irony is not lost on me and I have to stifle a laugh. 

So we all settle in and sit down for dinner.  Our nightly tradition is to go around the table and talk about the best part of our day.  I remind them that even on the saddest days there is always something to be thankful for.  Sara and Anna pass, Chuck and I mutter something corny  and then Emily proudly announces her favorite part of the day was when Penny died.  Serial killer in the making?  Perhaps.  Sh*t stirrer? Absolutely!! 

I know my kids were upset that Penny died, but, I feel like there were some great life lessons--they learned about responsibility, if you take something on you see it through, that all living creatures, no matter how small, deserve a chance and that sometimes, no matter how badly you want something to work out it just might not work out the way you plan. 

So it has been about 2 weeks and Sara and Anna have adjusted and have used this experience as a positive.  But just last night Emily asked me if I was still sad that Penny died and I said yes.  I asked if she was and she gave a resounding "NO"!   I guess two out of three ain't bad. 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Public Service Announcement for Beach Season....

So we have the week off and decided to take the girls to the beach for the day.  We had a great time collecting shells, playing in the waves, constructing "Anna Island"--a family engineering project that consisted of a moat with a channel to the water that was supposed to fill up around an artfully created island complete with seaweed trees.  All in all it was a great day.  However, I am ALWAYS looking out for my blog reading friends....I have come up with a few simple rules to keep in mind when heading to the shore...

 #1.   You will get older.  Your skin will get older.  Ladies, no matter how fit you are there will come a point in your life that you have old lady crepe paper skin.  It just happens.  There is nothing more bizarre, I guess I will go with that word because after several minutes of thinking I can't come up with anything else, than seeing a 70-ish year old lady with saggy crepe paper skin over her entire body with rock hard, taut skinned boobs the size of cantaloupes standing at attention.  God as my witness, I tried to look away, I really did, but I couldn't help but stare.  It didn't help that she had a tiny bikini on putting them on full display.  Maybe disturbing is the word I should have gone with, yeah, it was disturbing.  So young girls if you are contemplating getting breast implants please keep this in mind when choosing what size to too will someday be an old lady trapped in an old lady body with the boobs of a twenty something and it just ain't right!!!

#2  Along those same lines are tattoos.  They seem so cool when you are younger.  Don't get me wrong.  I love tattoos and when done by a really good artist they can be so beautiful.  I have one myself.  But ladies, please for the love of Psamathe (the God of beach sand...I do my research) make sure your choice will fit your lifestyle for LIFE.   For example, a tribal tramp stamp really seems out of place 20 years later when playing in the sand with your kids and digging their PB & J out of your Vera Bradley beach bag.  Or. if you choose to have yourself inked with a cute little rose on your hip it WILL become a rose bush if you have children down the road.  Just a few things to ponder while you are in line at the tattoo parlor.

#3  This is a big one.  If you have an asshole kid at home, I have no doubt they will continue to be an asshole while out in public.  If you have one of these said A-holes, please, please, PLEASE do not, under any circumstance, let them bring a God Damn water squirter to the beach!!  They will be the ISIS of the waterfront, wreaking havoc and leaving destruction in their wake.  One little sh*t ran right through the sand castle we were making and another kept squirting people NOT WITH HIS GROUP with his friggin squirter!  Seriously, if you are going to take your little terrorist to the beach please keep an eye on them and don't give them a weapon.

#4  No body shaming here.  I have put on a good 40 pounds since my mom died a year and a half ago (yes, I did...I have a scale and a mirror, its true).  I ate my feelings, yet, I still wear a bathing suit and participate in life for my kids.  However, as I gained weight I purchased appropriate sized bathing suits to go with my new chubby body.  I am not telling anyone not to go to the beach or not to wear a bathing suit or even to wear a cover up.  Not at all...I think everyone should go and enjoy life just as they are... I just implore you to wear a bathing suit that fits properly!  There were a bunch of bigger girls rocking bikinis yesterday and they looked GREAT!!  You know why?  Because they bought a suit in THEIR SIZE!!!  Sorry, but if you are a size 18, buy a size 18 suit and wear it with pride.  Do not try to stuff it into a size 8.    Some people were just asking way too much of their swimsuits.  A triangle of fabric on just a nipple with everything else hanging loose looks ridiculous.   Sorry, it just does.  Also, try to be age appropriate in your swim suit choices.    If you are a woman of a particular age, keep it simple.  A tiger striped, string bikini should be left for ladies born oh, I don't know, maybe after George Washington left the White House.   

#5  Know when to say when.  The girls and I were in the bathroom and I sh*t you not, Magda from Something About Mary came sashaying out of a stall.  The girls couldn't stop staring.  I have never seen a person resemble an old, worn leather couch so much in all my life.  She had bright white hair to boot.  Soaking wet she probably weighed all of 80 pounds.  The color of her skin was not normal, the consistency of her skin seemed alien.  She looked to be around 78 years old...but who knows maybe she was just a 32 year old sun worshiper.  Whatever the case she needs a new religion...

# 6  I am white.  I am very white.  Once a child told me I was so white I was see through.  My whiteness is on par with the love of my life....Anderson Cooper.  I believe in sunscreen.  I use it faithfully.  I bring an umbrella to the beach and sit in the shade when I am not playing with the girls.   Again,  sunscreen is a must, rash guard shirts are fine, my girls are into them now.   Anyone know why they are called rash guards?  Just curious.  But there are some people that just take it to the extreme.  These are the people who wear pretty much a space suit to the beach.  Again, umbrellas I get, toddlers in a tent? Sure.  But what I don't get is a sun hat as big as a beach umbrella with Urkel like flaps, sun glasses, long sleeve shirt and long pants.  Why?  Just why?  Stay home and put a picture of the beach on the TV with the soundscapes channel on....same experience for your poor kid.

#7  Teenage boys with teenage girls...public service announcement...get a bathing suit that has a little more strength in the fabric to hold "things" in place.  That's it.

#8  This is a huge pet peeve of mine.  People on phones...more specifically  parents on phones when they should be watching their kids.  I am NOT a helicopter parent by any stretch of the imagination.  I don't hover over my kids making sure they never have a negative experience.  However, and this is a BIG however, when there is the potential my child could lose their life I kinda keep an eye on them.  Yesterday I was at the edge of the water collecting shells with my girls.   There was a family next to us.  Both parents were on their phones, texting/playing a game/working/ who knows, but the 3 year old had their 18 month old on a boogie board and was towing her out to sea.  Part of me was like, "serves them right if they go home with one less kid"...but I am not a total jerk and I said loudly "oh, hey you little boy, you might not want to pull your little sister out to far...she could fall off and go under water"...the parents glanced up and brought the kids back to shore.  Then they gave me the stink eye!!  Oh, OK, sorry I interrupted you to save your kids next time do you want me to let your kiddos drown and not interrupt your Candy Crush?  So parents, put your frigging phones down and enjoy/watch your might just save their life!

#9  Don't go to the beach during shark week!   Big mistake!!! Every odd shaped wave, large piece of seaweed etc. was a flipping shark.  If I had to guess I would say my heart rate was close to 200 every time I stepped in the water.

So there you have it.  9 simple steps to having a fun, safe and enjoyable day at the beach.  You're Welcome!!