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....