Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Looking back to just relax (with a little Lionel Richie)...

Things are hectic in my world with many impending deadlines before the Easter holiday, soccer start up with my son, and my daughter's gymnastic season won't end for a couple more months, but I am doing my best to keep in touch with all of you. My post tonight is not what I had intended, but mental and physical fatigue always goes along with the pressures of not having enough time for what I have to do and want to do, and I decided once again to “look back” in order to relax.

I am a child of the 70s and 80s so I tend to look to music from those eras when I need a breather. Tonight is Tuesday so I am going to treat you to a favorite soothing tune of mine from the 80s-Lionel Richie, former lead singer of the Commodores, singing “Hello.” I will touch base with you later in the week with a longer post, I promise, but until then, sit back and enjoy!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I love Redbox, I hate Redbox...

Gone are the days of packing the kids in the car and driving across town to the closest Block Buster store only to find out that the movie you wanted to rent was unavailable. And your second, third, and fourth choices were all taken too, so you grabbed an old stand by just to keep the kids happy and then entered the longest line in history to rent a movie you didn’t want in the first place. You inwardly swore but outwardly smiled as the clerk asked if you found what you were looking for, and you peeled your kids away from the humongous bubble gum machine ingeniously placed right at the exit door. So you couldn’t have been happier when Satellite TV started renting movies you could watch anytime that day for $1.99 and you didn’t have to drive anywhere to return them.

Unfortunately, what started out as a good thing soon turned bad as Satellite TV got greedier, offering fewer and fewer movies for rental and raising the price three times in the past three years. Rentals are now $4.99 per movie, and there are only half a dozen titles to choose from-not a good deal in my book, so we stopped renting.

But a new technology is in our midst-Redbox. You just can’t beat a video rental for $1.06 (with the included tax) that you can have all day and then return by 9 PM the next night at any (yes, I said that right) Redbox machine-and if your area is anything like mine, there are Redbox kiosks everywhere, including the grocery stores. They started getting a little greedy too, raising their rental price to $2.00 a night until they began getting competition from the old video powerhouse Block Buster with their new Block Buster Express machines.

At first, Mr. Redbox and I had a love-love relationship-I could usually find a movie the kids or I liked, and we would all go home happy. Then, as more and more people started visiting our favorite kiosk locations, we would have to wait in areas not big enough for lines, while people searched the kiosk for a rental. Less and less movies were available and after waiting for 20 minutes or more, we sometimes walked away from the kiosk empty handed and unhappy. I silently cursed Mr. Redbox for letting us down until this tech savvy mom found out about reserving a Redbox movie online-now I didn’t have to waste a trip to a machine that didn’t have the movie I wanted. I could now check on that movie’s availability at a particular location, reserve that movie, and pick it up by 9 PM that night.

All was right with the video rental world again until the kiosks started having problems. It all started one particularly cold and rainy day when my kids and I went to pick up a reserved movie at the Walgreen’s outside kiosk. I still had to wait while a woman scrutinized the movies for over 15 minutes before finally walking away, but I only had to swipe my card and go right? Wrong. I reserved two movies but only one came out of the machine, and a line was forming around me. I called customer service, and after about 5 minutes in the cold and rain, an operator told me the movie was stuck in the machine. Uh, yea, I knew this, but when and how would I get it “unstuck.” The operator said technician would look into the matter the following day, but there was no charge and she gave me a promo code to use on another rental.

That incident started a downward spiral of continual evils with Redbox (“stuck” movies, unable to process my debit card, charged twice for the same movie…), and I amassed several promo codes in the process. But you can’t use promo codes when reserving online, plus offering promo codes used to be standard, but now I am just supposed to be happy that I won’t be charged for the rental, so in my eyes the company has never made things right. I am also worried I will still be charged for these movies since customer service says it takes up to 3 business days for the rental charge to be credited to my account, but there is no way to check this until I get my monthly statement.

Last night I reserved two movies (what can I say, I am the eternal optimist and movie watching is our Friday night entertainment) but when I went to get them, the one machine said it didn’t recognize my card and the other did. Once again I called customer service and here is an excerpt of our conversation:

Me: Hi, yes, I reserved two movies online and got one from machine B but machine A says it doesn’t recognize my card.

Operator: Give me the last four numbers of your account. (I did)

Operator: Ah, I see the problem.

Me: What is the problem?

Operator: Sometimes when the machine authorizes a rental it really isn’t authorizing a rental.

Me: What?

Operator: That machine didn’t authorize the rental and you can try to find that movie in another machine.

Is this guy from outer space or am I brain dead?

Me: It did authorize the rental-I got the confirmation.

Operator: No it didn’t really, you see it can’t authorize a rental. It didn’t authorize a rental and I would suggest using another machine.

Me: I think I follow you now-the machine is faulty?

Operator: Yes. Don’t worry because you won’t be charged (yea, I know) but it will take three business days to credit your account. (I know this too.)

Now my relationship with Block Buster Express hasn’t really taken off even though Mr. Redbox and I have had our share of troubles. You see, the Block Buster kiosk is only about 5 minutes from my house, but I had such a hard time retrieving my rental (the touch screen kept highlighting everything other than what I had selected) that I gave up. Heck if it’s that hard from the start, what else may be in store for me? Will Mr. Redbox and I continue our relationship? Sadly yes, but I will approach our meetings with a little more caution, and maybe if I expect the worst, he might surprise me…

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"It's where?"

The weekend was spectacular with temperatures hovering in the low 70’s, not a cloud in the sky, and just enough of a breeze to remind you that we hadn’t headed into summer yet. With no particular place to be, we decided to hang around the house spending as much time outside as possible. Do you see the problem with this yet, or are you thinking what could possibly go wrong with everything so perfect? If you are a follower of old Murphy he has a law for this: “If anything simply cannot go wrong, it will anyway.”

I don’t think I’m a pessimist because I pride myself on having a positive outlook, preferring to “shake off” setbacks instead of dwelling on them, but when you are dealing with kids, anything is entirely feasible all the time. I am also a realist and just as I told a blogger friend tonight, with everything good there is always the chance that something bad may happen.

For the most part, this weekend was fantastic, so what happened to slightly tarnish this you ask? Well, think about it-we were hunkering down at home so that would mean a little more than usual “together time,” and when you spend more time with your family there is bound to be something, no matter how small, that gets on your nerves.

There was one phrase that seemed to resonate around our house from the moment the kids got off the bus until bed time tonight, and that phrase is (drum roll please): it’s where? It really doesn’t matter what it is-band aids, flip-flops, a basketball, the dog’s collar-it couldn’t be found anywhere. It seems that when the sun stays out everyone’s mind goes blank except for me-I became like the all powerful Oz himself, reconnecting my family with all their lost goods. The funny thing is (now it’s funny, but at the time it wasn’t), these things really weren’t lost, and sometimes they were staring them right in the face.

Case number 1:  My husband Friday night looking in the refrigerator for some peppers for his salad
Where are the peppers?”

“They’re in there.”

“I am looking and they aren’t here. Why can't I ever find anything in here?

And then he starts reorganizing (not!) the refrigerator shelves in search of the elusive jar of peppers. I start to give directions from my seat but soon realize it would be easier to get up and find them myself. And that I did, in about 30 seconds flat, a new record for finding elusive pepper jars I think...

Case number 2: My beautiful daughter.

(Me) “Put the orange peels in the bag on the sink, ok? I’ll put them in the compost later.”

“What bag?”

“The one on the counter.”

“I don’t see any bag.”

“There is a bag-I just put it there a minute ago. On the sink...”

“I still don’t see it” and she is looking right at it!

“The old hamburger bun bag on the sink. See it?”

“Oh, you mean that bag” uh, yea, that bag...

Case number 3: My little boy.

“Where is my other soccer shoe? Mom I can’t find my other shoe!”

“Look where you took it off.”

“Where did I take it off?”

Now how in the blazes was I supposed to know? I walked into the kitchen and there, lying in front of the refrigerator, was the lone shoe, and I am still puzzling over how it got there!

And this kind of thing could be contagious, because-
Case number 4: The great and powerful Oz (remember, he was human after all)

I decided to hang some laundry outside and couldn’t find the bag of clothespins. I started tearing around the house muttering things about people not putting things back, about the mess in the family room, and how it would be nice if someone(meaning my husband) would finally change the light bulb in the closet so I could look in there. I did eventually find the bag, right where I put it last-it was inside the large laundry basket just waiting for the next time I would need it... Here's hoping you always know where it is-goodnight everybody!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Firendship and Tunes

I wanted to side step today and talk about something that is near and dear to my heart, and that is all of you. See, I live far away from family and all the friends I grew up with, and many of the friends I have now are through work, and you know what most work friends tend to talk about when they are together… Plus with work friends I am never sure what to share and what to hold back because once again these are work friends, and things could get sticky if you reveal a side of yourself and you cease to be friends!

My post tonight is for a couple reasons-I first want to thank all of you for finding joy in my joy, “getting” my sense of humor, and listening without judgment, and I truly hope I have entertained you in some way. I am also feeling pretty mixed emotionally this evening, and what better way to get mellow than with a song or too, right? So I am giving you a couple Tuesday Tunes tonight to calm you down from a couple old guys (yes, they are looking old I’m afraid) who are the kings of mellow. Here are Simon & Garfunkel with “The Sound of Silence”, and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” Goodnight everybody!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Mabel's Labels BlogHer '10 Contest

The blog Magically Ordinary recently advertised a contest hosted by Mabel’s Labels -it seems the company is on the lookout for its next paid blogger but the contest ends tonight at 11:59, so head on over and check things out.

An electrical storm that has entered the area may wipe out Internet service forever, and I have one day left to tell the world what I am truly passionate about, so what would I write? At first I was dumbstruck-what is the last impression I would want to leave my blog community and how would those words describe me? Webster defines passion as, “the object of any strong desire,” and time after time, and post after post, I have written about what I love best-may family. Now I know I complain every now and then, like when I buy several pairs of black socks for my daughter’s gymnastics meets but by the end of the season she has only one black sock left, and where the others are remains a mystery.
Or when I find remnants of things gone wrong in the bathroom, but when I ask my son who did this, all I get is, “I don’t know.” (I have got to meet this “I don’t know” fellow because he is responsible for many of the mishaps that happen around here!) But there are many more moments, quick flashes in time, when I look at my kids and realize that they are what matters most in my life. They are my living, breathing legacy, and I want the whole world to learn about me through them.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Becoming Mom

I am looking back tonight-eleven years and 4 days to be exact when my daughter came into this world and my life did a 180-every now and then it still amazes me. Mind you, I am not talking about the whole birthing experience (this I would like to forget); I am referring to the fact that I trusted myself enough to become a mother. You see, I attended high school in the 80’s, and the message that we too should strive for a career was just starting to take hold. I can still remember arguing with my best friend on the bus because all she ever wanted to be was a wife and mother, and I needed to find out how far my talents could take me-I just couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t want the same things I did.

So, off to college I trekked, as far away as my bank account could carry me, and I immersed myself in my studies and the particular freedom known as college life. A few years after graduation, I became both a career gal and wife, and for a while that was enough for me. But as soon as you say, “I do,” others start asking questions like, “When are you going to start a family?”

My husband was ready, and I knew from watching him with our many nieces and nephews that he would be a great father, but I was afraid-afraid of babies (I was really never around any until I became an aunt), afraid of losing myself, afraid of how my life would have to change (and you all know how I feel about change), and most importantly, I was afraid I’d be a lousy mother.

I also suffered from what my husband half-jokingly refers to as the “me” syndrome, and unfortunately this syndrome resonates throughout my family as well, so how the heck was I going to give my all to a child? But something also seemed to be missing, and a husband, dog, and cat just didn’t quite feel like a complete family, so I made the decision to add one more. It turns out that the decision to enlarge our family was the easy part, and actually getting pregnant was the hard part. I had been involved in a pretty serious auto accident as a senior in college, and some internal injuries had left me with scar tissue-basically I was told I probably wouldn’t have a baby the “normal” (man, I hate that word) way.

My husband and I decided that we were not going to put ourselves through what we had seen friends of ours go through just to have a child, and we went on with life thinking that if things never changed we would be fine. Anyway, things were fine-I had just started a new teaching job and we had bought our first house, so now may not have been the best time…

What is it that they say about the best-laid plans? Just when we thought we would always be a family of two, surprise! I think I took a total of three different brands of home pregnancy tests, partly to be sure, and partly because my husband didn’t believe the results of the first two! I even had to take another test in my doctor’s office because even she didn’t believe it.

My pregnancy was pretty unremarkable, although I got as big as a cow from the front, and had to be munching on crackers constantly because when my stomach was empty I got nauseous. I was also in some serious denial when it came to finally purchasing maternity clothing. I still remember seeing one of the other doctors in the practice during one visit-I had on a blouse and a vest, and this “male” doctor quickly proclaimed that if buttons could talk, mine would be screaming right now! My husband and him roared with laughter but I didn’t think it was even the tiniest bit funny-I felt like a guest in an all-male club, and I vowed that there would be no way this particular doctor would be anywhere near me when my delivery time came…

As the due date approached, my mind became mush-I was losing car keys, sunglasses, anything not nailed down or physically attached to my body. Numbers just wouldn’t stay in my head, and I kept changing the baby’s due date every time I talked with anybody-I did it so often my husband wasn’t even sure when it was! I also spent countless evenings looking up girls’ names on Websites (I was sure I was having a girl, although my husband wasn’t convinced-he was picking out only boys’ names), and reading excerpts from “What to Expect When You Are Expecting,” my new go-to book for everything. My bag was packed-check. I had some soothing music-check. I had tennis balls for back massages and a stuffed animal for a focus point-final check. And I knew all the signs and symptoms of labor, or so I thought.

Funny thing is that 11 years and four days ago was also a Sunday and I was lying around the house the Saturday before because my back hurt and I just couldn’t get comfortable. I wasn’t happy with my husband because a co-worker and his wife had called and asked if they could “pop” in on their way home-they had a gift for the baby so my husband said yes even though I said no. I had to drag myself up out of bed to straighten up the house, but I think they must have sensed my discomfort because thankfully they didn’t stay long.

11:30, Saturday night, my back pain had me doubled over, so my husband called my practice, and they instructed us to go to the hospital just to be on the safe side. The car ride took forever, and when we got there, we had to park in Timbuktu because the parking garage was closed. My progress resembled some funky new dance steps with a step, step, ooh, step, step, ooh, and there was no wheel chair greeting like they do in all the good medical dramas on TV. We were instructed to take the elevator up to the maternity ward because walking would do me good.

And the doctor on call that night? It was my husband’s good buddy who had given me clothing advice only a few months earlier! Everyone seemed so surprised at how far along I was (7 centimeters)- I wasn’t at all surprised. The doctor left me with a decision to make-get the shot or not-and I was half tempted to try to make it through on my own when my husband nearly knocked me off the table when he screamed, “This isn’t the old days anymore. GET THE SHOT!”

Unfortunately, the shot slowed things way down, and when it was time for the final pushing, I started whining, and the doctor asked me what I was worried about. Tact was not my strong point at that time, and I said I was worried the baby’s head was as big as my husband’s-I was tired! Finally, after applying several layers of oil to her head and a final push, my daughter came into the world at 11:30 Sunday morning, sporting a rather odd shaped banana head that I covered with quite a few hats until it rounded out. And me, I couldn’t sit down without a cushion for three months, and at 11 years and four days old, there are times that she is still a royal pain in the tushy, but I couldn’t imagine my life without her, and I love this adventure they call motherhood. Goodnight everybody!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Way overdue

I recently (OK, who am I kidding, it was back in February) received accolades from a few favorite blogs of mine, but unfortunately that thing called life had me running in circles-I was at my daughter’s gym four times a week in addition to everything else, and my blog posts were few and far between. But they always say better late than never, right?

I was delighted when The Girl Next Door Grows up gave me the Happy 101 award. The rules are that I am to compile a list of at least 10 things that make me happy, try to do at least one of those things today, and then pass this award on to blogs that in turn “make my day.”

First my “Happy” list:

1. I get immense pleasure from writing my blog and reading what all of you write, and because there is something so personal about the written word, I feel as if I have made many new friends in the “blogosphere.”

2. When something good happens unexpectedly-whether it be with my kids, husband or me. I am a romantic at heart, so anytime things come together to give me that storybook happy ending, I’m ecstatic.

3. A warm, sunny day is definitely something that we can use right now and something that always turns my mood.

4. When my husband and I laugh so hard that no sound is heard, and we are breathless, teary eyed, and closer than ever in the end.

5. There is nothing better than when all my students recognize the importance of why I am trying to teach them a particular concept, and understand what I am teaching.

6. I know that dogs are a lot of work, but nothing can replace that unconditional love that they shower your way when you come back home at the end of the day.

7. Hot chocolate on a cold night, or any kind of chocolate at any time can produce more than a little “feel good feelings.”

8. Days when I don’t have to be anywhere at a certain time-these are the kinds of days when I stay in my pajamas way more than what is considered acceptable.

9. Although this hardly ever occurs, I love when my whole house is neat and clean, especially the kid’s bedrooms!

10. I love sharing in my kid’s passions, whether it is gymnastics or super heroes, and I love seeing them excited about something.

And these blogs always make me smile (and yes, I always go over the number, but who's counting? :)

Nicole over at A New Normal
Molly over at I'm a Sleeper Baker
Shelly over at Tropical Mum
Amo over at Where a Woman Shakes her Tablecloth
Zen Mom over at Zen and the Art of Motherhood
Motpg over at Mom of the Perpetually Grounded
Janie over at Life Not Wasted or Lost
Diary of a Madbathroom
Tesa over at 2 Wired 2 Tired
Flory at A Woman's Life Stages

Molly from I'm a Sleeper Baker also surprised me with The Sunshine Award, and I would like to give this out to all the blogs I follow because without you, well, I would just be sitting here typing to myself. Hope your tomorrow is full of sunshine! Goodnight everybody...