Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Just another manic...Tuesday...

I live on a road that is currently being demolished...er...uh..."improved"...by the GA DOT.  It's not much fun right now, because there are no back roads for me to take - I have one exit to my neighborhood, and it dumps right into a huge mess.  So even basic errands are incredibly stressful right now, and likely to be for 9 months.  I do my best to be patient and let people out.  The way I see it, we all have to help each other.  But some days...I'm just not in the mood.

Today was one of those days.  I was on the phone with a doctor's office that I've been tangling with since January.  It's been one thing after another, and today's call featured the hysterical, brand new office manager who apparently does not know the policies of her own practice.  After a 90 minute phone call that STARTED with her shrieking and crying at me (yes, there WILL be a letter!), I said, "I'm sorry, but I have to go.  I need to pick up my children.  I will call you back tomorrow."  I hung up on her shouting, "This isn't resolved ye-"

So now it's time to tangle with the traffic to get the girls from PreK.  When I exit the PreK, four year-olds securely buckled, I turn right, turn left into a parking lot, and then turn right out of there to get back home.  It doesn't take anywhere NEAR as long as making a left out of the PreK!  Most of the parents use this method.  I have a limited amount of time in which to accomplish this, as I have to beat my eldest daughter's bus from elementary school.  So time is of the essence, and when I'm crabby, like today, it's hard to let others out and be charitable.

Usually I make the first right turn in two minutes.  Today I had to wait six minutes.  Not a happy camper here...and the non-stop wave of noise from the back seat isn't improving things.  Then I have to make the left.  Where I'm turning left, on the right side of me, is another shopping center.  As I'm sitting and waiting for a break in traffic, a lady in a silver minivan pulls up.  She attempts to make hopeful eye contact with me, as she wants to turn left.  I'm not having it.  Sorry - I know.  I'm a bad person today.  Today I'm owning it.  A break comes up, and I start to turn left.  I'm on the roadway.  She's on the side road waiting to turn ON to the roadway.  Bad news for her - I have right of way.  So I'm turning.  She suddenly peels out of the shopping center and shoots in front of me.  I slam on my breaks and hit my horn (I just had a feeling she was one of those drivers...).  She gives me a dirty look but continues.  Really?  I get it, I do...but does NO ONE know the rules of the road anymore???

The man coming towards me sees all of this, stops, and lets me go.  I wave a thank you and turn into the grocery store.  There is another entrance just a little down the road.  As I'm driving through the parking lot, this woman squeals into the other entrance, driving like a maniac, and pulls to a screeching halt about a foot from my bumper.  The second time today this witch has made me slam on my brakes!!  I hit the brakes so hard the twins actually react to it.  "Mommy?  What's happening, Mommy?  Why did we stop??"  She gets out of her van and stomps towards me.  She's not a little woman, and she's her heavy stomp says she's definitely not happy.  I roll down my window, praying I can make it home in time.  She storms up and says, "Are you a Christian?"

Why, hello to you, too.  This is how I start all my conversations...I replied, "I'm not sure the bearing of that request, but please move your vehicle, I need to leave."  I'm trying to be adult here...

"If you were a Christian," she continues, "You would know how to behave and treat others nicely.  Do you have any idea how long I sat waiting to turn left?"

Me: "Yes, I saw you pull up AFTER I had been sitting for a couple of minutes waiting to turn left.  Are you a licensed driver?"

She paused, totally taken aback by that. "Of course I am!  Shut up!  I'm tal-"

Me: "OK, if you are, then you can answer my question.  Who has the right of way - the person on the road, or the person entering the roadway?"

"Excuse me??? "

Me: "Like it or not, I had the right of way.  Now get back into your van and leave.  If you continue to block me, I'm calling the cops!"

She was really angry at this point.  "I really hope you grow up and act like a Christian!  I'm gonna pray for you to see the error of your ways!"  She turns back to her van.

I started laughing.  This was absurd!  She's going to pray for ME to be a Christian?  Yes, I know I could have let her out.  But the law says I'm not required to.  And now she's accosting me in a parking lot taking me to account for HER bad driving??  "Ma'am, amazingly enough, that makes two of us.  Good luck with that growing up thing."

She stops and whirls about, eyes bulging as she begins shouting obscenities at me (like any good Christian, right?).  I put my van in reverse and cut through rows to get to the other exit.  As I put on my turn signal, I see this woman whip around to get back to her van, ostensibly to cut me off.  In the process, her foot slips off of the step to get into her van, and she falls on the ground.  Now I'm torn.  I know I should go back and check on her, but the elementary bus is driving past me, and today I don't have anyone as back up to get my eldest.  I see the woman get up heavily.  Her face is red, but not from blood.  A gentleman from my neighborhood (who sees me get my daughter from the bus every day) honked and motioned me to turn in front of him.  My worry about having to chase the bus won out.  I got to the neighborhood just as my daughter's bus pulled around the corner, and picked up my child.

Out of curiosity, what line in the Bible justifies road rage?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Showerus Interruptus

Showerus Interruptus: A dramatic retelling of one mom's struggle to take a shower during the day when her children are home.  

Those of you who do not have children, or whose children are small enough to STAY WHERE YOU PUT THEM, have no idea what luxury a daytime shower is.  Of course, if your children are small enough to STAY WHERE YOU PUT THEM, you may not remember what the luxury of a shower IS, but that's not my tale today.  

Today, our heroine, Mom, has had a busy day.  She got up, dropped her children at PreK, worked out, cleaned the kitchen, family room, front hall, and bedroom, worked on laundry, and ate a little lunch, before heading back to take a - oh, is that the time?  Gotta leave to get the girls from school.  Shooting out the door, she drives the less than a quarter mile in 10 minutes because wouldn't you know the DOT has to chew up the ONLY road out of her neighborhood, sits in line for 25 minutes, drives back 15 minutes (she has to make an illegal left, cut through a parking lot, and turn right to get back the other direction because left turns are impossible on this GD-forsaken road...), debriefs her twins about their day, then heads to the bus stop to pick up the elder child.  But I digress...

What this ultimately means for our heroine is that she's hot, sweaty, tired, and desperately in need of a shower.  Normally she'd do this BEFORE the girls got home, but time got away from her, so now she has to figure out how to do this with the children home.  And let's face it...she's WAAAY too gross to wait another minute.  What to do...Aha!  Snack time!  Snack time usually lasts at least 20 minutes.  She can use this to her advantage today!  Leaving her 8 year old in charge of doling out the crackers to her 4 year old twin sisters, she heads back to the bathroom.  Stripping off her clothes in record time, she dives into the ice-cold shower before it heats up, praying she can complete her 60 second shower in 45 seconds.  She lathers her hair, which naturally drips into her eyes, when - 

Eldest: Moooom!  The bread...THE BREAD!  Did you buy bread with white stuff on it? 
Twins (loudly in background): The bread!  Snow!  It has snow!  I like snow!  Can I eat the snow?  No!  It's my snow to eat!!  Give it to me!  No!  It's mine!!
Mom (face covered in shampoo): What?  Huh?  YUCK!! (spitting sounds)  Hold on, honey.  (rinses face)  There...what now? 
Eldest (impatiently): Did...you...buy...BREAD...with...WHITE STUFF...on it? 
Mom (peering through foggy shower glass): No, honey, that's called mold.  
Eldest (gasping with extreme shock): MOO-OOOLD!  (Tosses bread across bathroom)  Mo-om?!?  That's MOOOO-OLLLLLLD?!?!?  AAAAAUGH!!  (The sultry sounds of dramatic wailing flood the bathroom...)
Mom (exasperated): YES!  Would you stop it!  It's only harmful if you eat it.  Did you eat it? 
Eldest (pauses, considering these words.  Did she eat it?  Did she?): Well...I don't THINK so...I don't see any teeth marks...
Mom (nonplussed): You can't remember if you ate any of the bread in the past five minutes? 
Eldest shrugs, gives mother disinterested glance.  Twins, meanwhile, begin sneaking towards bread piece.  Mold?  But it looks like snow?  Is she sure? 
Mom: STOP RIGHT THERE!  (Twins freeze, bodies bent, hands poised to snatch up the intriguing foodstuff)  Eldest, you take that outside now and feed the birds.  Why do you have the bread out anyways? 
Eldest: Oh, I wanted to make my sandwich for tomorrow.  There's one piece of bread left.  I'll just make a half sandwich.  That's alright, because my friend always brings extra cookies on Friday, and I can eat one of those...(Eldest eyes bread dubiously, takes a deep breath, holds it, grabs the bread between forefinger and thumb, and dashes out of the bathroom, fighting desperately to keep from breathing before she flings the offending item away to the birds.)

Mom returns to her shower...oh yes, time to shave (past time her husband might argue, but we digress)...Picking up the razor, she regards it - the blade is getting old, but it should serve it's purpose.  She places it to her calf, poised to begin, when - 

Eldest: MOM!!  MOM!!!  MOOOOOMM!!

The razor goes sailing through the air, but not before carving a small chunk out of the skin that hurts like the dickens and bleeds profusely...

Mom: Mother-!  WHAT?!?
Eldest (looking at the razor that landed outside the shower in confusion): Oh, um...yeah...the other piece has mold on it, too.  
Mom (through gritted teeth): Then throw it out to the birds, too!!  (This nick REALLY hurts!)
Eldest: OK...can you get me more bread?
Mom (In her "I'm about to LOSE it voice"): I'm in the SHOW-WER!  What do you want me to do about it RIGHT NOW?!?
Eldest (mildly surprised...gosh, what did SHE do?  She's just trying to help her mom...): Yeah, of course.  No problem...just take your time...

Eldest troops out.  Mom turns wide-eyed, near lunatic face on twins, who are staring at Mommy's leg.  
Twins (speaking over each other): You are bleeding, mommy.  There's blood.  Is that blood, mommy?  Mommy, that looks like blood.  Should you get a band aid?  Why are you still in the shower?  Are you done yet, Mommy?  We need crackers...

As we leave this scene, we see the eldest daughter on the couch, unable to comprehend for the life of her why her mother's gone mental.  The twins stand in the kitchen, unable to figure out why mommy wouldn't want them to tell her about the blood...and they are hungry, because big sister forgot all about giving them their crackers in her excitement to make her own sandwich.  They pull the box out of the pantry, showering the floor and cat's dish with crackers.  Big sister, remembering her duty, starts arguing with the twins over just who should clean up this mess.  And mommy, half washed, bleeding, and soggy, staggers out of the shower, to find the OTHER piece of bread, lying on the bathroom floor in a soggy heap...

If I ever show up sweaty and dirty, you know why...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A "Choose His Own Adventure" Post

How the post works: Read the first section about a...uh...hypothetical...husband and wife.  Then customize his demise...um...your reading experience...by choosing the section that you want to see occur.

Section 1:  Once upon a time, a husband and a wife make a deal.  He will take the children up to his sister's house to play in the pool and hang with their aunt and uncle IF she agrees to spend those three days cleaning the house.  Really getting in-depth and getting some serious work done.  The wife, "Capital A hyphen Capital R" by nature before three children beat it out of her, agrees with enthusiasm.  After all, she can't get much done with the children underfoot.  So off he goes to spend three days playing on his laptop, hanging with his sister, watching them play in the pool with the children...working on his tan and generally gloating over what a fabulous husband he is.  His wife, he's sure, is laboring industrially away, cleaning the master closet, scrubbing the floors and baseboards by hand, discarding and sorting, revealing vast open spaces...Yep, he's a real gem, alright.

The day comes to drive home.  Despite her repeated requests he leave at a certain time, he chooses to leave two hours later.  After all, being such an amazing husband, he's giving her extra time to clean, ignoring the plans they made as a family for the evening.  But then, it all goes wrong.  The wireless system in the van kicks out, forcing him to listen to the Muppet Movie most of the way home.  When the movie isn't playing, he's enduring the incessant, high-pitched "conversation" of three voices competing over each other.  His wife even calls to ask him to stop and buy something to help her prepare dinner.  What did she do for three days?  She can't have dinner ready?  Tired, headache-y, and utterly convinced of his misery, he soldiers on, as a good husband must.  No one can understand the stress and exhaustion of dealing with three children in the car.  Surely he's the first to shoulder this burden?  He thinks of his wife, thinks longingly of his quiet, and now most assuredly clean, house.  Could she possibly understand his sacrifice?

After a grueling two hour drive, he's home.  He bursts into the house, rushing for the bathroom, shoes shedding grass and mud as he goes.  He leaves his children sitting in the van...but surely they'll figure out, "Just sit tight" really means, "Unbuckle and come in the house," right?  He drags his weary body outside, exhausted from a weekend of resting, and manages to haul his overstuffed duffle bag in, which turns out to be open, and spills clothing all over the floor.  He's a weary warrior, but still, unloading must continue...He brings in the girls bags, which he strews in various places in an effort to press on with the unloading.  Finally finished with his burden, he collapses on the bed, still wearing his shoes.  Victory complete, he regards his wife happily snuggling with her children.  Then he regards the floor.  Good heavens!  Grass, mud, and bits everywhere!  Clothing sprawled about!  What a mess!!  He looks at his wife in shock, and asks, "Did you do ANYTHING while I slaved away with your children this weekend???  Where did this mess come from??"  In shock, his wife looks down at the carpet that was just clean 2 minutes ago...

If he is verbally decapitated, choose Section 2.

If physical violence is dangerously close to errupting, choose Section 3.

If she lovingly forgives him, laughs like a 60s sitcom, puts on an apron and begins cleaning up his mess while putting the finishing touches on a pie, choose Section 4.


Author's note: There is no section 4.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Verse for El Gato...

Oh moron cat, moron cat,
Why do you keep doing that?
I'll step on your tail,
You'll let out a wail!
You'll yowl and screech and hiss!
You'll race out before me,
Then pause to ignore me,
Shocked that my sneakers won't miss!
When I come home all laden,
A grocery-bearing maiden,
My toes I can no longer see...
What does this cat do?
This feline who needs a clue?
He darts in to stand under me!
Oh frustrating cat, little ding bat,
Why do you keep doing that???

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monkeys and monitors

I finally decided to take down the baby monitors today.  Given that my first child is 8, the twins will be four in a couple of months, and we haven't used them in months, this may make you wonder, "What the heck took so long?"  It's that silly step that makes you officially say, "I'm all done with babies."  Don't get me wrong - I don't want anymore children.  But there is something about babies...yes, they cry, they spit-up, they fuss all hours of the night...but a baby makes no demands on your mind, your soul.  They are the perfect confident, the best snugglers ever.  Their helplessness and dependence on you...it's both terrifying and endearing, and I can't help but be sad.  We took down the gates last month, the gates that we put up with Princess C, our first child...and now I dismantle the baby monitors...

So why now?  More importantly, what is this woman doing with a baby monitor on her perfectly healthy, intelligent, and capable 8 year old?  Well, when Princess C was 5, we were discussing taking down her monitor.  She is our first, and it can be harder to let go of the first sometimes.  After all, this monitor had been with us for five years, and it was my lifeline at night, when I sprang bolt upright in bed for no seeming reason. I'd listen for the reassuring sounds of her breathing (after I smacked my DH and made him roll over because I couldn't hear ANYTHING over his snoring).  The rhythm of her breathing would soothe me back to sleep. Or I'd realize she was having a nightmare, coughing...for some reason needed me to drag my weary butt out of bed.  That was when I'd curse (but deep down, bless) that silly monitor...

So here she is, 5 years old, and we've got infant twins in the house.  Two sets of monitors in the kitchen and the bedroom.  I'd wake up and strain to figure out who was breathing (all of them, of course, but at 2am when you explode into wakefulness, you are CERTAIN someone has stopped breathing...which was usually my DH, temporarily, thanks to his sleep apnea.  But I digress...)  Do we really need this?  We decided to get rid of them, when Princess C entered this absolutely HILARIOUS stage!

Of course, no child likes to hear no.  And how often do they react with good grace and humor, especially if denied something they MUST HAVE RIGHT NOW or else the world will end and she'll just absolutely DIE!!  (Yes, I'm already in dread of the teenage years).  She'd get the dreaded no, and she'd stomp off to her room, muttering under her breath.  Typically she'd flop down on her bed (right next to the monitor), and she'd start with the most dire imprecations:

"I jus' wanted some dessert and mommy said, 'No!' because she doesn't love me anymore...and if she doesn't love me, I'm not gonna stay!  I'm gonna go...I'm gonna run away...to the zoo!  I'll go to the zoo!  'Cause the monkeys'll let me sleep with them...and I can get a elebant [elephant] to give me a shower.  All I want is one banana.  The monkeys'll share a banana.  They got lots.  Jus' one lil ol' banana...I said dessert, and she said, 'No' without asking what I wanted...jus' a banana...and a little chocolate.  Bet I can find that at the zoo...and I won' hafta shower...'cause the aminals don't care if I'm stinky...I'm not stinky...mama says I'm stinky and hafta shower..."

For the record - "dessert" and "banana" were not synonymous until AFTER the denial.  I'm pretty sure, had I asked before saying, "No," a banana would not have come anywhere NEAR the request.

I'm at the kitchen sink, preparing to do the dishes, when I hear this rant...and I'm transfixed!  I whisper to my DH to come quickly, and we sit next to this monitor, desperately attempting to shush our peals of laughter so we can hear.  We've got this monitor turned up as high as possible in an effort to hear EVERY word.  She just continues going on - I'm sorry I can't remember the rest.  It was AWESOME!  We look at each other, and then DH raises an eyebrow suggestively before grabbing a banana and heading to her room.  He leans against the door frame, peeling the banana, and looks around her room.  "You gonna get undressed for your shower?" he asks nonchalantly, as he takes a bite of his banana.  Princess C is clearly the most picked on child in the world.  "Yes," she gulps.  Taking pity on her, DH asks, "Do you want a bite of my banana?"  She sniffs pitiably, and nods.  He offers her a bite.  She takes it, pride slightly assuaged.  They share some more bites.  DH asks, "Am I as good as a monkey?"  Princess C, now feeling much better, giggles.  "Oh Daddy!  You are the best monkey ever!"

And I thought I married an ape!  ;-)  I love you, honey!!

This stage lasted about a year and a half.  I admit it - there were days when she was driving me nuts and I was sorely tempted to deny her something just to get the rant.  I really tried not to...although I'm not perfect, so I can't say it never happened...Jesus still loves me, right?

And it just worked out that we never took down the monitors until I realized today that I hadn't turned any of them on in months.  Why don't I keep them up for the twins, you wonder?  Seriously?  My house is the size of a postage stamp!  And these girls don't know the MEANING of quiet.  One day they will rant, but I guarantee you it will be at high volume!  If I'm quick enough, I'll record some of it!  Do you think Hallmark would like to use it in a new line of greeting cards?  The outside could say, "Sorry you are having a bad day."  The inside might read, "But there's always a way to make it better."  And then it would play my children, "My parents NEVER let me do anything fun...if they loved me, they'd let me jump outta that ol' tree with a cape tied around my neck so I could be a superhero and fly...stupid broken necks..."

Talk to the monkeys, honey...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Animal? Mineral? FRUIT??

I like to think we have a pretty good sense of humor in my family.  We like to laugh, to give each other a hard time, and to joke around.  Oh, indeed we can take ourselves a bit seriously at times, but overall, we take a joke pretty well.  My husband and I enjoy teasing our daughters.  My eldest, C, gives as good as she gets.  She's in that phase where she can take a joke a bit far, but she has an excellent sense of humor.  Twin B is starting to get into the spirit of joking around, and is realizing that mommy is not as literal as she thought.

Twin A, on the other hand...she is an awesome kid.  But she is definitely my mini-me.  Such a straight line child!  She makes jokes, but she does NOT take them well, and she is convinced that 90% of my jokes are literal.  And me, being a product of my family (I blame my grandfathers...both of them!)...well...I have to say I really enjoy teasing her.

Our latest family joke centers around the question, "What's to eat?"  My girls are forever asking, "Mommy, what's for (breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack/second breakfast/noonsies...)?"  I swear I have small-footed Hobbits around here!  So my response has become, "Hmmm...let's eat [insert name of family member here.]"  C and Twin B will laugh, saying, "No!  That's crazy!"  Or better yet, Twin B will usually decide which section of her sisters we should eat first.  "Start with the shoulder.  It's yummy!"  If I say we will eat Twin B, she will laugh and say, "OK, but only one bite," or, "No, I haven't showered and I'm yucky!"  Twin A, on the other hand, will FLIP OUT!  "NOOO!" she'll howl, "YOU CAN'T EAT _______!  THAT'S MEAN, MOMMY!!!"  I try to gently point out, "Do you think Mommy is serious?"  Even then, she'll become very upset with me.  "It's not a funny joke!" she'll insist. 

Today, of course, I was teasing my child.  Here is what happened:

Twin A: Mommy, what's for lunch?
Me: Well...hmm...let's have...(casting about for least offensive choice)...the cat!  Let's eat Bart!
Twin A (shocked and offended): MOMMY!  NO!  You can't eat the cat!!
Me (amused): Well, why not?
Twin A (indignant): Because he's stinky!
The cat jerks his head up and gives Twin A an offended look!  Stinky?  Why, he never!  He'll show her stinky, he thinks, as he proceeds to groom his nether regions...
Me: Stinky, huh?
Twin A: Mommy!  He's furry!  Hair tastes bad! 
The cat pauses, narrowing his eyes, tongue sticking out...leave a hairball on my bed, cat, and see if I don't make good on that last statement...
Me: Really?
Twin A (exasperated): He's a CAT, not a MANGO!!

And there you go.  Cleared that one up for you, didn't we? 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Worst return policy ever!

So I decided to see if I could return these allergies.  I mean, this is America, right?  Land of returns and the customer is always right, right?  Nothing ventured, nothing gained...

So I called Mother Nature:
*Ring ring*
"Mother Nature here."
"Oh, I expected a computer."
"No, honey, only organics here.  What can I do for you?"
"Well, I'd like to return my allergies."
"OK...let me see here...hmm, well, according to your contract you have passed the point of no return."
"Wait?  How long did I have to return these?"
"30 days from date of installation."
"30 days?  But...I'd be only a month old."
"Oh, I know dear.  I told God it wasn't a good plan.  But He insisted...why don't I transfer you to His line?  Hold, please."

*Heavenly choir muzac sings softly in the background*
"This is St. Peter."
"St. Peter?  I - uh...oh.  Umm, hi.  I'd like to talk to someone about returning my allergies.  You see, I don't think the policy is very fair.  I have to return them after 30 days, but at a month old, I couldn't possibly make those decisions."
"I see your point.  Let me check something.  Now where did that scroll - ok, here we go.  I see here you were given two very fine guardians.  Your baptism, First Communion, Reconciliation...they are all in order.  I - Oh, did you REALLY lie that many times?"
"Er - I don't...OK, wait, let's get back to my allergies.  What does this mean?"
"Well, your parents filed all the forms, but I see no 'Nix Allergenis' form here, so I'm sorry, but you'll have to take it up with them."
"But...I mean...most 1 month olds don't even SHOW allergies.  How can that be?  It's a flawed system!  There has to be a way to register a complaint."
"Absolutely!  Let me transfer you to our complaint department."

*More Heavenly choir muzac*
Mechanical voice: "You have reached the complaint department.  I'm sorry, but all our demons are busy collecting souls.  Please stay on the line-"
YIKES!  No thank you.

OK, well, if this rests with my parents, let me talk with them...
"Hi, Mom.  How's it going?  Listen, I was talking with St Peter and Mother Nature, and it seems you had a chance to return my allergies in the first month of my life.  Did you know anything about this?"
...Mom is silent..."Wait?  What?  We were told you were non-refundable.  What are you talking about?  Because believe me, there were times we wanted to return you.  Do you remember the time you broke-"
"Mom!!  Geez!!  This isn't about that.  I just want to know if you can file a form to return my allergies!"
"Let me talk with your father.  If we were misinformed about your being returnable, we need to register a complaint..."
"No, Mom, you don't want to call" - *Click*

Think my return policy is expired?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Software Renewal: A play in one act

Welcome to Adequate Piece Theater's presentation of "Software Renewal: A play in one act".  Tonight's presentation is brought to you by Houraway.  Houraway: When you don't want to lose an hour of your life you didn't know you would spend on a seemingly simple task.

Tonight's play features a small cast of characters whose rapidly falling careers will be little noted and oft-forgotten.  We have a protagonist...we'll call her..."Me."  The antagonist here is played by several characters, most notably "Renewal Specialist."  Please enjoy tonight's offering of "Software Renewal."

(Electronically-produced, low-budget brass fanfare)

[Stage direction: Protagonist "Me" is seen walking into a store with bright neon signs flashing statements like, "YOU ARE NO LONGER PROTECTED IF WEB BROWSING WITHOUT OUR PRODUCT," and "DOWNLOADS IN ONE MINUTE OR LESS." She is carrying a laptop and looks harried.]
Renewal Specialist: Hello!  How are you today?  What can we do for you?
Me: Hi.  I'd like to -
Second Renewal Specialist: Excuse me - are you protected?  You don't look -
Renewal Specialist: Excuse ME!  I was talking to this nice customer.  Could you please let me -
Second Specialist: But I just wondered
Me: HEY!  PLEASE!  I'd just like to renew my internet security software.
Stunned silence as Specialists stare at each other
Renewal Specialist: Uh...oh!  Sorry!  You said you want to renew your security software?  Wonderful!  Well, you've come to the right place.  First of all, though - do you give us permission to renew your software and make any needed modifications to your computer?
Me: Yes, of course, as long as it's not excessive.
Renewal Specialist, laughing: Excessive?  Of course not!  We will only modify what is absolutely necessary.

[Stage direction: Second Specialist goes in back.  Renewal Specialist takes laptop from Me, boots it up, and begins checking for old software.]

Renewal Specialist: Let's see here...oh, hey!  You have our old software.  Oh dear...you know this is out of date, right?  You are no longer protected.
Me [blinking in surprise]:  Uh, yeah...that's why I came in.  You sent me a coupon and a reminder, and now I'm here.
Renewal Specialist: Great.  OK.  Before we begin, which option would you like?  Option 1: We protect everything, back up your data, nuke any and all viruses within a 50 yard perimeter of your computer, and hide inappropriate web-browsing history from your boss for $$$.  Option 2: We protect your internet browsing when convenient, update virus definitions, and actually clean the virus off your computer after warning you and waiting for you to click buttons for $$.  Option 3: We update your virus definitions with six month old definitions, tell you there is a virus and you'll need to get it fixed, and offer an electronic selection of prayer cards for $.
Me: Prayer cards?  Oh...well, I'll take the option 2 for $$, but I have a coupon which brings it down to $.
Renewal Specialist: You have a coupon?  Umm...[Looks unhappy] Are you sure it's one of ours?  We don't usually offer coupons unless it's to returning customers.
Me [frowning and obviously concerned]: I thought we just covered that...I AM a returning customer.
Renewal Specialist: You are?  Oh, let me check.  [taps computer a few times]  Oh, hey!  You are a returning customer!  I'll bet we've got a coupon for you.
[Me sighs, waiting impatiently as Renewal Specialist searches around for coupon.  Me edges coupon closer to Specialist.]
Renewal Specialist: Here it is!  [Triumphantly holds up Me's coupon].  I knew we had one!  OK, so that will be $.  Although, if you renew for TWO years, it will only cost you half price for the second year.
Me [pausing to consider]: Yeah...OK, that sounds good!
Renewal Specialist: Oh, I'm sorry.  With the coupon you can only have one year.  OK!  That's great, let's get started.
Me [looking confused]: But I...
Renewal Specialist: You DO want me to get started, right?
Me: Uhhh...yes, please...

[Stage direction: Renewal Specialist begins process of updating with lots of mouse clicks, button pressing, followed by long pauses.  After almost two minute, Renewal Specialist turns to Me.]

Renewal Specialist: Do you give me permission to get started?
Me [Startled]: What?  Yes, of course.  Please begin -
[Suddenly the door bursts open with a crash, causing both Renewal Specialist and Me to jump.  An Employee from a Rival Product (EFARP) comes rushing in]
EFARP: WAIT!!  YOU HAVE A PROBLEM!  Ask me what it is and I'll tell you!!
Me [shaken and confused]: Wha?  Huh?  What are you talking about
EFARP [looking smug]: You don't have security software.  Do you plan on renewing it?  Because, if not, what I have is free, although it's notoriously unreliable, but you can't beat free!
Me: Well, um, thanks, that's nice, but I'd like to renew with the software I already have.
EFARP [looking surprised]: Really?  That's your choice...Oh, OK.  But if you change your mind I'm over here...

[Stage direction: Renewal Specialist looks at Me.  Me shrugs.  Renewal Specialist returns to process of clicking and pressing, then pauses.]

Renewal Specialist: You are sure you give me permission?
Me [Growing agitated]: YES!!  Would you PLEASE get started?
Renewal Specialist: Of course.  There's no need to get worked up.  Just standard stuff, you know.  OK, now I need to go to the back to get some things, and I'll be right back.
Me: OK, I'll wait.
Renewal Specialist: I'll be back in a jiffy!  You'll never know I'm gone.

[Stage Direction: Renewal Specialist goes through a door, leaving Me standing at the counter.  Canned electronic music plays in background.  Silence ensues, and the audience sees Me looking at her watch, starting to grow frustrated.  Suddenly the door opens, and Renewal Specialist comes back through, carrying a cup of coffee with glasses on his head.]

Renewal Specialist: Now where did I put my glasses...[Catches sight of Me and stops short.]  Oh!  Oh shoot!  I was in the middle of...Oh!  I'll be right back.
[Renewal Specialist sets down coffee, rushes through door, then rushes back to grab coffee, muttering things like, "I forgot what I was doing!  Shoot!"  Then rushes back out of door.  Returns a moment later, sets down coffee, then runs back through door, returning with handful of papers and disks].
Renewal Specialist: Ok, where was I...oh, that's right.  I need permission to -
Renewal Specialist, [with mild reproof]: OK, ok, just checking.  Let's see.  Um...OK, since this is a renewal, all I need to do is uninstall the old program, install the new one, and you'll be good to go!
Me: How long is this going to take?
Renewal Specialist [chuckling]: Well, aren't we in a hurry?  Fortunately for you, we specialize in speed!  We'll be done in a flash.
Me [huffing with annoyance]: Good!  This is getting old.  I'd appreciate some speed!
Renewal Specialist: No problem.  I'll just click this here...and type that...insert disk...Perfect!  OK!  We'll see you tomorrow!
Me [nonplussed]: Excuse me?  Tomorrow?  What...do you want me to bring the laptop back so you can check to make sure it all downloaded correctly?
Renewal Specialist [Laughing loudly]: Bring it back to check...HAHA!  No, no, we're closing!  We'll see you tomorrow when we reopen and you can have the laptop back then.  We should be done by then.
Me: WHAT?!?!

[Stage Direction: Security Guard comes from off-stage, stage left, and escorts a confused and angry Me off the stage.  The stage grows dark.  After a moment, the lights return.  We see Me stalking up to the door of the store, furious.  Renewal Specialist is web-surfing on laptop and playing game.  Renewal Specialist does not notice Me until she rings the bell.]

Renewal Specialist: What?  Oh!  Hey there!  Have you played this game, Annoyed Avian Struggle?  It's great.  See, these winged creatures are annoyed -
Me: They aren't the only ones!  Where's my laptop?
Renewal Specialist: And their porcine adversaries are - what?  Oh, laptop...right.  It's right here.  It just needs to finish loading, and then you are all set to take it.
Me: You said it would be done by the time you reopen!  Come on!!  Let's finish this already!!  Your sign says your downloads take less than a minute.
Renewal Specialist [With exaggerated patience]: Well, that's true, but it doesn't mean that ALL parts of it take less than a minute.  Just the end parts after the downloading...and there you go!  All set!

[Stage direction: Laptop beeps, and box pops up on screen.]

Me [Reading screen]: "Program is requesting permission to modify certain processes.  Do you want to give this program permission to access these processes?"  YES!  PLEASE!  YES!  FINISH THIS AND LET ME GO HOME!!!
Renewal Specialist [Alarm showing on face]: Uh...here's your laptop.  You just go on home and have a good day, now.  [under breath]  We always get the weirdos...

[Stage Direction: Me closes laptop, grabs it, and storms out of store.  She opens the door to find two more customers standing there.  Looking at Me in surprise and a bit of alarm, they take exaggerated steps back and allow Me to pass.  Fade to dark.]

March with us! March of Dimes

Every year, thousands of babies are born premature.  Some kids, like mine, come out raring to go!  Others spend time in the NICU.  Thanks to the March of Dimes, all babies have a much better fighting chance at life, no matter when they come!  And even if they don't make it, their parents at least have a chance to say goodbye.  Even if your baby wasn't in the NICU, just knowing the research and doctors funded by March of Dimes were standing by takes a little stress out of birthing.

I'm asking you to donate to the March of Dimes walk being hosted in Roswell, GA on April 27, 2013.  Whether you have $1 or $100, anything you give is helpful and wanted!  Please click the link below to help us out!  I'm participating with team Multiple Mayhem through my club, the North Fulton Mothers of Multiples.  March of Dimes has a special place in many of our hearts.  Multiples have a much greater chance at surviving birth thanks to this group!!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Attack of the Hot Air Balloons!

It was a year ago this month, on a beautiful weekend like this, that my girls and I were having dinner on our back porch.  Daddy was on his annual pilgrimage to Bristol, TN, a land where children learn such songs as "The Wheels on the Nascar can't make right turns" or "Heads, I got slammed into the shoulder..."  The girls and I were on our own!  We had big plans alright!  Pizza on the newly-cleaned back porch, special dessert (yum - microwave brownies!), and an episode or two of VeggieTales!

As we're sitting outside, enjoying the evening breeze and dwindling sunlight, we hear a rushing sound.  Whoo-OOOSH!  Whoo-OOOSH!  It wasn't so much a loud sound as unknown.  The twins are momentarily paralyzed but then begin freaking out.  What strange creature could be coming our way?  Naturally it has only one thing on it's mind - twin-napping!  The girls start climbing my legs, overcome by the fear of meeting this unnatural apparition.  "Relax," I tell them, "It's just a balloon."  B'oon?  B'oon?  What b'oon makes THAT noise?  "I'll show you!"

A mile or so from our house there is a field by the Ingles where hot air balloons are launched.  Sure enough, we see one of these beasts floating up into the air, accompanied by the afore-mentioned terror-inspiring  sound of the hot air filling the brightly-colored silk of the balloon.  The twins are amazed!  But where is the string?  The girls start crying, thinking of the balloon sailing off into the great unknown, and no one there to rescue it.  With the help of big sister, I explain the concept of sailing balloons into the sky.  WOW! We return to dinner, mystery solved.

As we dine we continue to hear the rushing sound of the hot air.  "Mommy," says my eldest, "That sounds so close."  I agree.  We eat, when suddenly it dawns on me.  Whoo-OOOSH!  WHOO-OOOSH!  Hmm...that DOES sound close...I ask the girls to stay on the back porch and head out front.  Oh my...apparently it sounds close because the balloon is 20 - 30 feet off the ground, blundering it's way up our street.  Well, that's kind of cool...never seen it this close before...hmm...it's lumbering bulk is slowly moving up our street...and then veering...STRAIGHT TOWARDS OUR HOUSE.  Of course this guy is going to turn, right?  I mean, seriously, it's not like he doesn't know there is a house there, right?  Uh...I mean, surely he sees my house...does he see my house?  Oh crap!  He can't miss it, can he?  It's the structure he's about to crash into.  He's now starting to drift up my incredibly short driveway, and I can hear frantic clicking noises.  It's surreal!  This balloon is drifting lower and lower...closer and closer...I mean, can you imagine trying to explain to YOUR insurance carrier that you have damage to your house because some guy hit it with a hot air balloon?!?  "That house came out of NOWHERE, Officer!"

"Hey!  What's going on?"  I yell,  "Are you going to go over my house?"  Do I get the girls out of the back porch.  Do I run for cover?  What the heck do I do?  Where is my husband?  House damage is definitely "man" territory.  My brain is transfixed by the slow-motion train wreck oozing towards me.  One of the people in the basket yells, "Do we jump out?  Why are we so close to that house?!?"  Oh...&#$%...that's not good.  The operator hollers back, "I'm going to try to fly over your house?"  What the?...Why not BETWEEN the houses?  Why not further up the street?  WHY MY ROOF?!?

Suddenly the burners kick in.  No more "whoosh."  Now it's the roar of a jet engine, and the balloon magically shoots into the air.  The operator shouts, "OH THANK GOD!"  You are telling ME?!?  My girls come screaming through the house like bansidhes, certain of imminent danger.  The balloon shoots up and over, barely clearing my roof.  If he was two feet to the left, I still would have lost my chimney.  I can see the people in the basket, relief written all over their faces.  My legs and brain unfreeze, and I shoo the girls back into the house.

It hits me that perhaps I should be documenting this electronically.  I run through the house, grabbing my phone as I go, and pop out of the back porch in time to see the balloon right over my backyard.  I didn't zoom or anything.  This is a picture of the balloon almost directly over my head.

Once again, the jet engines roar, and the menace shoots directly up into the air.  

The danger resolved, the balloon resumes it's peaceful journey into my neighbor's back yard.  "OK," the operator says, "Well, that was a little more eventful than normal..."  Ya think?

The wind continues to drift the roar of the balloon back to us.  We keep a wary eye on our foe, pizza in hand (what, like property damage is a reason to lose one's appetite?).  It bobs majestically out of sight.

As I took this picture it hit me that the balloon was now back over the road...so why the close call over my roof I couldn't say.  For weeks the twins had nightmares of roaring, bulbous monsters attempting to eat them.

We went back inside to get dessert.  The front door was open, sunlight pouring through the glass door.  The twins cuddle on the couch, shaken.  C wanders the family room aimlessly.  Suddenly she streaks to the glass door and starts screaming, "IT'S GONNA CRASH!!!!"  I drop the brownie pan on my foot, batter everywhere, and promptly begin uttering a series of unmentionable obscenities.  Towel and phone in hand, I hop to the door to be greeted by this sight:

A different balloon was floating through the other neighborhood, WELL above the tree tops, although it was hard for C to know that, given our recent encounter.

The night ended with no dessert, a lesson in distance and perspective, the doors and windows TIGHTLY locked, a hysterical call to a howling Daddy (no, I didn't have enough time to change the locks before he came home, wisely bearing flowers), and all three girls super-glued to mommy on the couch attempting to watch VeggieTales...

About a week ago, we saw this in the field:

Gazing thoughtfully at the scene, my eldest muses, "Wouldn't it be cool if they flew over OUR house?  I bet, if we stood on the roof, we could almost touch them..."

You have no idea, kid...

Sunday, February 10, 2013


We were trying to get ready for our annual club Valentine Day party when Twin B suddenly announces, "Mommy, we're going to play flipple."
"Flipple, huh?"  I say quizzically.  "What is flipple."
"It's played outside.  Basketball is played inside.  This is not Basketball.  It is Flipple.  Me and Twin A will play it.  You will watch.  You will watch on TV."
"Oh...OK...um, how do you play?"
"I will have a purple shirt.  It will have the letter B on it.  It will have a big number on the back."
"What number, honey?"
"Number 3 1/2.  Twin A will have a pink shirt.  It will have an A on it."
"OK...will it have a number?"
"Of COURSE, Mommy.  It will have the same number!"  DUH MOM!
"Oh, well, yes...that's nice.  And we'll watch this on TV?"
"Yes.  During the Super Bowl."
OHHHHHHH, OK, I get it...
"What is the Super Bowl?"  Now I'm just busting her buttons.
"It's where you eat SOUP," she says with a touch of asperity in her voice.  "We will play.  If we do good, there will be funny shows.  If we don't do good...you'll be bored."
"Shows?  You mean commercials?"
"Yes!  'Mershels.  Funny ones are for when we are doing good."
"I hope you always do good.  Are you the only ones who play?"
"No...C will play.  She will wear blue.  Her number will be 7 1/2."
"Cool!  Can I play?"
"No...you have ta eat soup....Daddy will play.  He will wear green."
"Does he have a number?"
If she was a teenager she would have been rolling her eyes by now...
"Ye-ES!  It's 10!"
"Who will win?"
Silence...this had not been part of the original equation...
"The dragon."

Thursday, January 24, 2013

We've all had it happen (or will at some point).  You hear suspicious noises, check out the garage/attic/crawl space, etc.  Oh crap!  We have a squirrel!  I love squirrels.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love to watch them.  In fact, in college, I scared off a record number of hawks to protect "my squirrels."  Yes, I'm a nut.  But here's the thing - if you get into my house, all bets are off.  So how do you get rid of the squirrel.  Of course, I'm the sort who wants to give him a chance initially - trap him and let him go somewhere FAR, FAR AWAY from my house.  But some squirrels just don't want to play nice...hmm, then what?  Traps?  Poison?  A strange electrical device purchased off late night TV?  Not me!  I say if the bugger isn't smart enough to take a hint, it's garage door time!

I'm pulling into my parents' house when I notice a bar across the garage door window.  I open the other door and go to investigate...oh, it's just a piece off the screen door which my dad stores in the garage.  I grab it...crunch...what's that?  A piece of a terracotta pot.  Uh-oh, doesn't bode well.  I start investigating my mom's side of the garage...what are all those tiny black rubber pieces?  More broken crockery?  Checking out my mom's car (just seconds before putting my hand on the trunk) I realize that something has peed all over it.  Yup, no questions here - we have a rodent.  There's bits of eaten bulbs all over the place.  Part of the weather stripping inside the garage door is totally chewed off.  The garage door ain't looking that great, for that matter.  I get a broom, have the girls sit down, and start sweeping.  I'm making banging noises, too, in the hopes that I can scare the sucker out.  

I have to open my mom's garage door to sweep everything (biodegradable) out.  I then go to close the door...what the?  It bounces back up!  So I check the area to make sure nothing is in the way, then I press the button again.  This time it goes down, but it won't seat properly.  These garage doors rails are 25 years old, and the garage doors aren't exactly spring chickens.  Sometimes they get off track a bit.  I ask the next door neighbor to come over and hopefully help me re-seat the garage door so it doesn't have a crack at the bottom.  Bad enough I cleaned up for ONE squirrel.  "Hey guys - look!  Squirrel Ho-Jo!"

Did I mention my dad has spent hours, days...weeks...MONTHS trying to get squirrels out of his attic?  One particularly determined squirrel caused him a lot of grief.  At this point we are no longer trying to promote the squirrel population around his house.  It's important I mention this.  

So the next door neighbor and I start investigating and realize that there is something caught in the top of the door.  My dad has carpet padding that he has rolled up and stored over the top of the garage door.  This padding (which you keep because "you never know when it will be useful," especially if you were hoping to have a massive allergy attack by using dusty, mite-infested padding) is  wrapped in black plastic garbage bags.  One of the garbage bags is hanging down and caught in the door.  It has a small lump in it, but given the deteriorated condition of the carpet padding, it's entirely possible it's just foam.  So the neighbor says, "I'll get a stool.  You open and close the door, and I'll grab it and shove it through."  No sweat!  The girls are getting INCREDIBLY bored by now.  Let's get this show on the road so we can move on to our next activity!

So I open the door.  He gets on the stool.  I close the door.  He reaches for the lump.  "AAAUGH!  IT'S DEAD!  IT'S DEAD!  IT'S DEAD!!!!!" he screams.  I jump.  The girls stare at him in fascination, all thoughts of the box they've been playing with lost.  I hit the button to stop the door, and say, "Oh no...is that..."  He looks at me in shock.  A piece of....grey...fuzzy...body part...drops to the floor...ICK!  Oh, seriously????  It must have gotten tangled in the garbage bag when it went up there to sleep.  

He looks at me and says, "So, um...how good is your husband with dead squirrel?"  At that moment, liquid drips out of the bag.  I stare at him in shock.  "Did I kill it with the garage door?"  He peers warily at the item in question, then says, "I think so...critters usually lose their bowels right after..."  He beats a hasty retreat.  O...M...G...do you mean to tell me that after all those weeks and months of killing squirrels all it took was a GARAGE DOOR?!?  

Did you ever take one of those tests in high school to help you figure out which career would be a good fit for you?  One of my many suggestions was "bug and rodent extermination."  

FYI:  DH stood outside the garage and held the ziploc for it to drop into.  I stood inside the garage and had to cut the garbage bag, cursing that stupid squirrel at every instance.  It was kind of stuck in the middle.  It involved a lot of whacking the garage door button.  

And for the record, my husband says that it was probably dead shortly before I got to the house.  But I like to think it was justice...and there are squirrels out there very afraid of my parents' house...