I feel the need

I feel the need

Friday, November 26, 2010

10,000 steps before 9 AM? Must be BLACK FRIDAY!

Good afternoon!

I'm almost on my way back to bed.  I realize it's only 1:13 in the afternoon as I write this, but I've been up for nearly 12 hours now and I'm beat dog tired.  You see, I'm one of those women you read about in the paper:  I'm the woman that gets up to get to the stores in the middle of the night on Black Friday.

When this tradition began I am not sure.  I think a few years back Skippy thought it would be good fun to go to the mall at 5 AM.  So with Peaches and niece, we'll call her Twinkle, in tow, we hit the mall at 5 am.  We wandered around, the girls tried on some shirts at Justice, and Skippy got to roam the mall alone for the first time.  As we were wandering about, the girls and I landed upon Windsor a store in the mall known for selling prom style dresses all year long.  They tried these dresses on...at 5:30 in the morning.  I snapped a few pictures with my phone.

And thus a tradition is born.

But in the years since, the tradition has grown out of control.  Personally, I blame the stores.  Why, oh why, do they keep opening earlier and earlier?  Dont' they know that just means I have to get up EARLIER?

Getting up at 4 to be at the mall at 5 is one thing.  But this year we hit a new high...or low.  Kohl's opened at 3 AM.  Guess who was there, WITH EYELINER ON?

Yep, yours truly!

We planned this trip to the minute.  2:50 AM, hit the gas station to get some donuts and a beverage.  3, Kohl's.  4, Target, 5, Walmart because, though Walmart never closed on Thanksgiving, the real fun started there at 5.  (Not really, the real fun started at Midnight and if you thought the fun at Walmart started at 5, you were five hours late.)  Then, after Walmart, off to the mall.

Now, in years past, we've been able to navigate through the shark infested waters of "while they last" quantities and women all filled up with stuffing and disapproval from the day before without too much time spent in lines.

However, when the greatest place to shop in the world, Kohl's, opens at three...well, no one misses that opening.  Old Navy can open at midnight...Walmart can let people wander around for five hours, but the official kick off the Black Friday is KOHL'S.  And all of Waukesha, I believe, was at the same Kohl's this morning.

I wasn't too distressed that, though we entered the doors at 3:05, there were no carts.  It didn't bother me that the store was BAKING HOT to counter balance the Arctic winds outside, making the fact that there were no carts for people to stow their parkas a little annoying.  I wound my way in and out of the crowd, making sure I got the best price on a gift for my husband  (I did) and finding the perfect gift for Peaches (got it) and some new pillows for the kids (can't beat $5 pillows).  Bonus, I ran into a friend of mine...I forget what we call her, so we'll call her Charlotte, because Charlotte is the name I always used in my party lite days when I couldn't remember some one's name.  Charlotte and I had a great chat while our young were out foraging for deals on tops and bangle bracelets.

Once Twinkle and Peaches texted me they were ready to get in line  (and honestly, what did we do before texting?)  we got in line....at the back of the store!  For this I was NOT prepared!

A short (!) 20 minute wait gave me enough pause to dump the top I was about to buy  (It would have looked like a sack on me.  I need to drop 15 more pounds and I can go down a size in tops.)  I was not the only person reconsidering purchases.  The wait line was strewn with items, though picked up in the heat of shopping, were discarded in the cold realization that at some point the credit card bill was coming and no amount of Kohl's cash was going to ease that pain.

Back to the car...in the blustery winds, and on to Target.  We were 50 minutes behind schedule.  No matter, this was FUN!

We got to Target...and I wondered why so many people were standing in line to check out in electronics at the back of the store.  After about ten minutes of fighting my way to the back of the store, this time with a cart full of coats, I realized that this wasn't a line for electronics.  This WAS THE LINE.  And the line ran all the way from the front door, around the store, to the bank of cash registers.  This is a new Target and who ever designed it never expected so many people to come out at the same time for discounted copies of "Toy Story 3."

I texted the girls that we were abandoning Target.  After all, our next stop was Walmart.  There's nothing at Target that I can't get at Walmart, plus this is a new super walmart  (Do you hear that sound?  That angels singing!)  so there would be enough cash registers to check out several waves of shoppers.

I gave Charlotte, who had caught up to us at Target, my cart.  She was smart, her girls were standing in the line already as she was shopping.

Off to Walmart...but first, breakfast!  The donuts well worn off already, we stopped at Mc D's for a spot of grease and a touch of salt and fat.  I asked the nice lady there to rid my front seat of rubbish.  She informed me that she was "NOT ALLOWED" to take rubbish from cars.  Geez, it was just a coffee cup, and by the way, if you're not allowed to take rubbish, how about putting a garbage can someplace in the parking lot?

On to Walmart.  Yes, Super Walmart.  Super parking lot super full.  No worries.  We parked out by "the small tree."  (A new parking lot...there were only roughly 50 small trees...they were all SMALL TREES!)  Again, the crowd was at electronics, but this time things were better managed.  Something to that not closing...ever.  No glut of customers 40 minutes at opening.  I took a look at a gift for Skippy. Not the right model, not the right price.  Girls went through self check.  We were out of Walmart and back on schedule.

Until we tried to find the car.  Did I mention it's COLD OUT THERE?  (well, not maxi pad freezing cold, but still, cold.)  Turns out...I'd forgotten exactly which small tree.  Five minutes in a frozen tundra of a parking lot, in the dark...yeah, I won't be reliving those five minutes any time soon!


The gods of parking lots smiled on us.  Brookfield Square is one of those silly malls that, in recent years, has added quite a few stores around itself, using up parking spaces in the process.  Not a big deal...except on Black Friday.  But, like I said, the gods of the parking lot smiled on us, and we found a spot a short Laura Ingalls style hike from the doors. 

This is when Twinkle and Peaches mention that lugging a coat into the mall is a drag.  So we all decide we're brilliant and we are NOT going to wear coats into the mall.  This is not uncommon here in the Northern lands.  We are happy to withstand a few moments of shocking cold so that we do not drop dead from heat exhaustion indoors.

But it's really, really, REALLY COLD and the girls start to jog to the door.  I join in the jog.  What follows is something that's one part foot race, one part farce because, as I have said many times, "Homey don't run."

There' s a reason for that.  I have weak ankles and tender heels.

So...that 150 yard dash I did essentially crippled me.  My ankles hurt, my heels are throbbing and I'd kick myself for running at my age and current state of fitness, but that particular motion would render me incapable of actually walking.

Once inside the mall, we spread out a bit, agreeing to meet later.  Which I was happy to do.  Until I get a text from Peaches informing me that she's found a brilliant pair of heels and wants my opinion. 

I don't have to look.  My opinion is that she has a closest full of brilliant heels she doesn't wear.  She's tall, she's slim, she has ridiculously long legs and high heels only serve to make the other girls jealous.  But I digress.

She didn't get the heels but after several hours now of shopping, we all decide we are thirsty and a quick trip to the food court is in order.  By this point it's almost 7:30 and we haven't tried on any formal dresses yet, so, beverages in hand, we head to Windsor.  That's the highlight of my shopping with these two, because I take pictures and then send them to their fathers...who immediately have strokes at the site of their young teen daughters in formal wear looking about 22.

Peaches and Twinkle in some really pretty, and very grown up dresses!  Not bad for 7:30, after being up for 5 hours!

From Windsor we hit Bath and Body works and here's where I did my damage. To my credit, I did NOT purchase the $120 gift bag for $20 with every $40 purchase.  I could have purchased three.  But I didn't.  What can I say?  I love their soap!  (And if you're on my gift list, well, expect some!)

Heading for home and what I thought would be a short nap, I get a call from my mother who informs me that she now has my grandmother's jewelry and since I have both the girls she wants me to come up and take a look.  Well, since her house and Twinkle's mother's office are close, I figure, why not?

As long as I'm home by 2 to wake up Skippy who has to finish raking the the yard, a job he started at 2 AM, but promised to finish before he went to work.  He hit the mall only and did not shop with us today.  So I have to wake him at 2.

I then get a phone call from Hubby.  Can I pick him up something for lunch?  Well, since his work and my mother's house are close to Twinkle's mother's office, I figure why not?  As long as I 'm home by two.

We sort through the jewelry, I drop a very tired Twinkle with her mother and then...we decide to stop at Mayfair Mall to pick up a Five Guys burger for hubby.

Those of you familiar with Mayfair mall know that it's a zoo in the best of times, again because they built a ton of stores in all the pointless parking and driving space.  All of Milwaukee, most of Wauwatosa, and a good portion of Northern Illinois is in this parking lot. 

It takes us 14 minutes for me to get close enough to drop Peaches off to get the burger.  It takes me another 14 minutes to drive around and get back to Five guys.  Peaches, burger in hand, leaps into the car and we fly....okay, it takes us roughly another 10 minutes to get out of the parking lot.  But Hubby got his burger.  I'm home in time to write this and wake Skippy.

It's 2 pm, I've got 15,065 steps on my counter.  Dee is proud of me.  (I texted her at 7 AM when I hit 8500)  Charlotte has been napping for a few hours.

Was it a successful day?  You bet.  Am I beat tired?  Yepper.  Did I spend too much?  Probably.

Will I do it again next year?

Of course!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's chemical warfare in the battle of the sexes!

Good afternoon!

I was watching a bit of television last night  (big surprise there!) and I saw a commercial for men's hair coloring.  I'm sure most of you have seen this commercial...there's a guy with lovely salt and pepper hair about to answer the door for a blind date when he realizes his salt and pepper hair makes him look, well, older than 25. 

The date is on the other side of the door!  What's a graying man to do?

AHA!  Use this mystical hair color product that you can comb in, let sit for five minutes, and then rinse out and POOF you have lush, dark hair without a glimmer of gray.  Better yet, you can do this coloring in the time it takes for a blind date to stand outside your door without leaving.

Let's ignore the fact that not one single woman on the planet would wait outside someone's door for five or more minutes if there's no response.  Well, unless she's a stalker ala Glen Close in "Fatal Attraction" and in that case, do you really want her lurking outside your door? 

Oh, but we're ignoring that.

Let's focus instead on the fact that there's a hair coloring product out there that 1)  covers gray  and 2) apparently doesn't smell AT ALL, and 3)  works in FIVE MINUTES OR LESS!

Most women I know color their hair.  Some go so fare as to go to a place to get it done.  The battle against gray hair for most women starts sometime in the their 30's.  For me, well, I started young.  I was 22 and hours from getting married when the stylist working my hair into a form I affectionately call the "bouffant mullet" informed me that I had a patch of white hair right on the hairline along my face.

Oh that's that a bride wants to hear on her wedding day.

I didn't go all "Bridezilla" on her.  Hey, I was 22, I'd been coloring my hair for almost 5 years already and box hair colors still worked and lasted for 6 weeks or longer.  Life was just fine.

Now, some 20 years later, I'm finding that box hair color isn't lasting more than a week, isn't covering the gray AT ALL, and most assuredely is NOT smell free.  I've gone several shades lighter blond just to camouflage the fact that my hairline is now completely white, while my roots remain staunchly dark blond.  Left to its own devices, my hair looks like a strange, washed out version of the Irish flag.  (And I can say that because over the years I've had both orange hair and green hair.)

So why is it that men can have a hair color that works (oh, and did I mention it works on their face?  Yeah, they have hair color they can just comb into their facial hair so that the face and the head match.) but it's inexpensive  (when was the last time you saw an ad for a salon for MEN'S hair coloring?) and it works IN FIVE MINUTES!

Oh yes, I believe that Eva Longoria gets her fantastic hair color from the same box I do.  I also believe that late at night I can see Unicorns dancing on my lawn.
Women's box hair coloring 1)  May or may not completely cover the gray, no matter what that hag Eva Longoria tells you.  (Oh yeah, I'm believing that TV and movie queens use the $8 a box hair color.  Yep, I can just see Sarah Jessica Parker at my local Walmart picking up a box right now.)  2)  Smells like a science experiment gone wrong  (because the ones that don't smell REALLY don't work) and 3)  Absorb roughly and hour or more of your day.  As long as you're prepared, you know, with clean hair that you didn't wash on the day you're coloring, but that doesn't have any product in it.  (And how many of us can line that combination up easily?)

But that's the way of it, isn't it?  Men's products, no matter what they are, are always less expensive, last longer, and work better.

Consider men's clothing.  Ever see a "raw edge" on the bottom of a MAN's shirt?  No, of course not!  Why not?  Because a MAN is going to DEMAND that his clothing be FINISHED, whereas we women have come to accept the fact that not all of our shirts are going to have a hem on them.

Men's underwear:  Double stitched, comfy, and come six to a pack for $6.

Women's underwear:  Elastic will wear out in three washes or less, provided the seems don't come apart first.  Underwear WILL RIDE UP.  Accept it.    And if you want a pack of 6, be prepared to pay $12 or more.  (And this is for the name brand stuff that regular women wear.  If you want the fancy stuff that will make you look like an "angel..."  well that's going to be $5 a PAIR!)

Men's moisturizer:  Buy it in 36 ounce bottles.  $5 a bottle.  It works. 

Women's moisturizer:  Oh, you want something that's NOT going to be the equivalent of rubbing cooking oil on your pores?  Well, then you'll be wanting to pay $15 an OUNCE and still, I wouldn't put actual cash on a bet that it'll ease your winter skin...without, you know, giving you a teen age case of pimples.

Men's shampoo: Includes conditioner, can double as a shower gel, smells clean, doesn't leave a residue in your hair.  $3 for a jug the size of a gas tank.

Women's shampoo:  Okay, first of all, you know you have to buy the conditioner separately right?  Because you can get that all in one stuff, but that just makes your hair stiff and sticky.  Oh, and you're going to need a separate shower gel, because this is SHAMPOO, not meant for the rest of the body and will actually dry out the spots you can't reach to itch if you wash with it.  Oh, and you have color treated hair?  Well, then you're going to need a SPECIAL SHAMPOO...up there, on the top shelf.  Yes, that little bottle.  Yes, that's really $9 for 8 ounces.  Will it make your hair color last longer?  Who knows?  But don't forget the conditioner!

Men's make up:  Men don't wear make up.  Men look great without make up. Men with imperfect complexions look RUGGED.

Women's make up:  First, you need a base.  Now you can get the cheap base, but that's going to make you break out, so you may as well just  buy the $15 and ounce base.  Then you'll need a powder because, well, the base is NOT going to be enough to cover your blemishes.  And then you'll need a blush, eyeliner, mascara (Because you have SHORT LASHES) and or course you'll need eye shadow, even if you're going for that natural dewy look.  Make up cost:  Somewhere between $45 and $300 depending on how much you really don't want acne to make an appearance.
Men's razors: You can get 12 blades to a pack for $10. They last longer than five shaves and they WORK.

Women's razors. 3 blades to a pack, also for $10. They last MAYBE five shaves, and that's if you're lucky enough to not have, you know, actual hair.

Men's unwanted hair treatments:  Men don't have unwanted hair.  Men with hair are RUGGED.

Women's unwanted hair treatments:  I can't even go into the hours, the pain, and money involved with this. 

So let's go back to that TV commercial and imagine if the guy had to go through all the steps women do, using women's products, and realized he was ugly just before opening the door for that blind date.  He'd emerge from his bathroom two hours later, and he'd look pretty great.  But he'd be BROKE, the look would last MAYBE two hours before it started to disintegrate.

Personally, I'm thinking about switching to all men's products.  Just the extra room in the shower, once I remove all my girlie stuff might make it worth my while!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Forget wrinkles...aging isn't for sissies!

So this past Tuesday was my birthday,and I am now 43, firmly entrenched in middle age.

I've been thinking this week about how I was going to approach getting older.  Like most women in this time, I battle the physical creep of age.  Okay, I don't battle it that hard, but I do notice certain things aren't the same as they were a few years ago.

I've come up with 10 things that prove aging isn't an easy, graceful process.

1) Weight:  It's true, I think, for most women, that the metabolism is the first thing to go.  Sure, we all blame weight gain to child birth, to sedentary office jobs we take because it fits with kids' schedules, to raising kids and eating kids' food which is fine for children who have the metabolism of rabbits, but not so good for us.  I suppose I could point to the Internet too as a reason for weight gain.  Hey, if I can get everything online, why bother getting up, going outside, driving a car to a store, walk around?  That just seems wasteful to me!

Try as we might with gym memberships, pedometers and whatever latest shake fad diet there is, the weight sticks with us.

Well, I mean, I suppose we could eat that Special K cereal with the chocolate bits instead of inhaling half a gallon of extra creamy choco-marshmallow ice cream while watching "The Biggest Loser." 

Let's not get crazy!

2)  Aches and pains and energy...or lack thereof!

I can remember sleeping on the floor at a friend's house for about three hours, getting up, going to class, working a job, and coming back to my room to a late night pizza party, then going to bed at about three only to get up and doing it all again.  Other than being a little sleepy in class, I could live like that for weeks on end, so long as I got a four hour nap on Sunday afternoons. 

Now, if I'm not in a Tylenol PM coma by 11, that 5:45 alarm is all but missed.  Then I drag myself through my work day, boosted by coffee.  And forget about sleeping on the floor.  If I'm not a couch at the very least  (and my tempur pedic bed is definitely the better choice!) my back and hips ache all the next day. Not only that, but if I've been sitting too long, and then I get up to walk, thanks to my heal ailments, I stagger around for a couple steps like some old person...

But why get up from the chair at all?  It's sort of just easier to wait until a family member strolls past for me to request them to fetch something for me.  This plan has made it possible for me to spend large chunks of time on the couch without actually having to move off of the heating pad.

As for boosting my energy level with caffeine...I'm not the only mom at the soccer game with the Starbucks cup.  That's all I'm sayin' about that.

3)  Memory

I'm not saying I'm losing it or anything, but there are days I cannot remember things.  In writing this blog today I actually had to sit try to recall the word "metabolism."  It took me a couple of minutes.  But words aren't all you lose with age.  Hubby and I often have conversations that go something like this:

ME:  Do you remember that movie with the guy and the boat?

Hubby:  You mean that guy, what's his name?  The one with the hat?

Me:  No, the other guy...the one with the wife who did that song with that other guy.

Hubby:  Oh, yeah.  That guy. 

Me:  So do you remember that movie?

Hubby:  What movie?

Me:  What do you mean, what movie?

Hubby:  What are we talking about?

Me:  I don't know.  Is Sport Center on?

Personally, I blame a lot of things on my memory loss, but mostly I don't think of it as memory loss.  I believe the human brain only has so much space in it.  Mine is full of Princess Bride quotes, Rick Springfield song lyrics, and family birthdays.  I have phone numbers stored in my brain.  (Teen agers don't memorize phone numbers anymore.  So, when a cell phone dies, I am the smartest person in the room.)  So, if I forget where I put my purse  (which I do every morning) or if I forget what the word for "metabolism" is, I can't feel bad about it because if I actually memorized where I set my purse down, I would lose information I will definitely need later...like the complete lyrics to "Super Freak," or the real names of the cast of "Emergency."

4)  Hair

Yes, now we're getting to the crux of aging, aren't we?  The hair on my head is turning white, regardless of what I do to it. Hubby tells me to embrace the white hair, as he has...or as he would be if he had any visible white hair on his head.  (Men with white hair are distinguished.  Women with white hair...)  Meanwhile, the hair on my FACE is turning BLACK, and growing nice and thick! 


Well, I'm from German stock, so I'm a naturally hairy person.  My razor is my best friend.  I don't travel to warm places anymore because, thanks to 9-11 security, I'm not allowed to bring a razor on a plane.  A woman my age does not get into a swim suit without a touch up on the legs and pits.

But when the hair on my face started to betray me...especially on my cute as a button chin  (okay, chins...) I got indignant.  If I had to have black hair, why couldn't it be on the HEAD and the face?  Conversely, if I must go white, why can't the hair on my FACE be also white?  Why must my old age include a darling little fu-manchu dealie on my chin?  Hmmmmm?

So I have a couple of choices.  I can embrace the white hair on my head and battle the black hair on my face.  I can battle the white hair on my head AND the black hair on my face.  Or, I can just give up and hope that the white hear hair/scanty black beard look comes in for American women at some point.

5)  Fashion.

As if fashion for curvy girls isn't bad enough, now let's try to find something nice for a curvy girl who is over the age of 18 and under the age of 80.  Everything in the plus sized section of most stores either has puffy sleeves, something I gave up in my teens, or looks like cruise wear for the blue haired set.

I thought I was doing okay, shopping at CJ Banks the other day.  I love that store. The clothes are well made and if  you find a good sale, they aren't too expensive.  However, while trying on something I emerged from the trying on room to the disapproving eyes of Peaches.

"Mom, you cannot wear that," says she.

"Why not?"

"Because that's old lady clothes."

I was wearing a perfectly acceptable pair of jeans, but I was trying on one of those adorable sweatshirts with the collar and the cute picture of snowmen...you know, that triptych of pictures across the chest?  it's a top that's comfortable, but also a little dressy.  At least, that's what I THOUGHT.

So I walked Peaches around the store and she picked out...nothing. 

"It's all old lady clothes mom."

While I was flattered that she didn't want me wearing old lady clothes, I wasn't sure she meant it as a compliment.  After all, I've gotten some of my best outfits from CJ Banks.

After an exhaustive search of two more plus sized clothing stores, I've decided that it is actually easier to lose weight than it is to find something age appropriate in my size.  And if that's really true...shame on clothing designers because it's really hard to lose weight!

Maybe I'll just wait until I'm old enough for the snowman sweatshirt...or at least until Peaches is in college.  Then she can't tell me how to dress!

6)  Acne


7)  Find a moisturizer that works...really works.

There are 1000's of ads for moisturizers for women.  And not that many for men.  I've tried a ton of different products for women and have yet to find one that doesn't make my still somewhat supple skin oily.  I can't go without it because, thanks to Andie McDowell, I'm very aware of my deep set wrinkles.  (I call one Peaches and the other one Skippy.) 

That search continues...

8)  Stink

I live in a region where the weather can be super humid or super dry from day to day. After living in this region my whole life, my skin is starting to rebel against the constant changes in air moisture.  On humid days I'm okay, but when the air dries out, as it does in the winter, my skin dries out and I start to have issues with a burning feeling in my legs and back.  "Winter Skin" my mother calls it.  (Thanks for that clinical diagnosis doc.)  Again, I've tried all sorts of creams and lotions, and very little eases the burning.  One thing has helped a little, however.  Not showering every day.  The hot water dries out skin really fast, so not showering every day eases that exposure.

One problem, and I know middle aged women everywhere will agree with me.  By 40 there's a certain funk that women start to notice about themselves.  It's a funky stink that wasn't there in our 30's.  It's almost impossible to pinpoint.  It's no one certain body part that smells, it's everything.  So there I am, burning skin or funky stink?

Oh yes, that's a great choice to have to make at 5:45 AM.  And it's not a choice I can make unless I was in a Tylenol PM coma by 11, and in a bed the night before!

9)  Intolerance for food and drink

 When you're a kid, all you want to do is do what you want to do, eat what you want to eat and not have to listen to anyone.

Once you're an adult, you realize you have to listen to one very important being...your body. 

People in my age group live in fear of late night heartburn.  Don't believe me?  Turn on the TV.  Ignore all the Erectile Disfunction-female satisfaction-maxi pad-athlete's foot commercials and you'll see a huge glut of heartburn meds out there. 

Heartburn is our body's way of telling us party time is over.  I get heartburn if I drink too much wine.  I get heartburn if I drink coffee too late at night.  I get heartburn if I eat something involving tomato sauce.

Sometimes I just get heartburn just because.  And that's the biggest head scratcher.  As I'm clawing through the medicine cabinet at 3 in the morning  (why don't I have this sitting on my nightstand?  Probably because I forgot to put it there.  Hey, I do not have room in my brain to remember something like that...I have to keep the theme song to the Lawrence Welk show up there!)  looking for Tums or Rolaids, I go through my day's intake.  And, after being horrified by what I've shoved down my pie hole, I realize I didn't eat anything heartburn inducing.  Which is about the time I start cursing the aging process.

10) General uncoolness in the eyes of the younger set.

I am the coolest Sunday School Teacher my church has ever had. 

I am the coolest parent that ever walked.

Both of these statements were once true.  But, as I aged, I became less cool.  I don't know when it happened.  One day, my children decided that hanging out with me wasn't cool anymore.  My Sunday School kids no longer think of me as the shock jock of Sunday School.  Where once what I said or thought was absorbed, now it's ignored...if I'm lucky, or mocked.  I'm not longer cool.  Because I'm no longer young.

And that's the cruelest blow to anyone, isn't it?

So, hey, happy birthday to me.  Happy birthday to hairy, itchy, stinky, uncool me.  I'm going to go now, put on my snowman shirt with the collar, and take some Tylenol PM for all the aches and pains, and settle into bed.  I know I'll be up at 3 looking for some Tums, but I'm not going to go find them now for two very good reasons:  first, I don't have the energy and second...

...well, second I've already forgotten what I was looking for.

Would anyone like to hear the list of zip codes I've lived in?

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Tale of Two Days

"A Tale of Two Cities," Charles Dickens' epic novel of conflicted heroes, opens thusly: 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Yeah, after Friday and Saturday last week, I totally get that. 

Let's start with Friday, shall we?

Friday opened normally enough.  Got up at 5:30 to make two breakfasts and wait for my turn in the bathroom.  Skippy emerged from his 67 minutes in the bathroom  (seriously, how much primping can a kid do when eyeliner isn't involved?)  looking surly. 

"I feel sick."  says he.

"Vomit or fever," says I.

"My head is going to explode," says he.

"You should have taken me up on my offer to take to you to the doctor on Monday when you first complained about this, but now you've had super fantastic fun time all week and guess what?  You're going to school," says I.

"I'm dying," says he, as he uses all his powers for surly and slams the front door, startling the cats and waking Peaches.

"Not likely,"  mutters I.

Not atypical at all. 

Until 8:30.  8:30 is the time when my boss discovers that when he crashed the website a month ago, he wiped out the list of wholesale customers' emails...all 800+ of them.  Now he wants to send a Holiday email to the stores that sell our products, and he can't because he doesn't have the email list.  Oh, and bonus, it has to be done RIGHT NOW because he's on his way out of the country...again...for his fourth out of the country vacation this year.  (I cannot make this up.) 

So it falls to me to start searching for emails.  Then the phone rings at 9:30.  It's the nurse at Skippy's school informing me that the child is running a roughly 100 degree temp and would I give him permission to come home?

"No," says I.  "He has permission to drive himself to the doctor and get looked at."  Whereupon I call the doctor's office and get an immediate appointment.  (Ah, the joys of having kept the same pediatrician for 17 years...)  I feel no guilt at all at this point.

Then there's a knock on my door.  And it's my friend...let's call her Penny.  Penny is holding a beautiful vanilla shake and something in a Styrofoam box.  Penny tells me a tale of how she got a new job and was bringing a treat to the woman who gave her a recommendation, but said woman was not at the office so Penny was left holding the treat.  A healthy person herself, Penny was not going to eat the treat, and wondered to whom she could give.  TAH DAH!  She happened to be in my offices' neighborhood!    We were in the middle of a very nice chat when who shows up...but Sally, the woman who used to be my assistant, but quit because working for us was cutting into her unemployment benefits. 

I haven't seen Sally in a year...not since the day she called in for the last time.  As Penny leaves, Sally walks in, heads for the shelves of winter gloves, proceeds to boost several, asking me if they'd make good gifts for her grand kids.  (I should mention that when she worked here, Bossman gave her permission to take some small items if she wanted them  I was unaware that this offer extended to a year beyond her employment.)

While Sally is in the office, regaling me with the latest tale of how working is cutting into her unemployment benefits, the phone rings and it's Bossman who has found the missing emails! (YAY!)  And now needs three different and equally urgent items done pronto.  I inform him that Sally is in the office, stealing things and talking my ear off.  He tells me to give her a long, very involved, and cheerful message.  I decline. 

"Bossman says hi," says I.

After another half hour, Sally leaves, just as my phone rings.  It's Skippy.  A prescription for antibiotics await at the local Walgreen's.  I'm cheered by this because I can pick it up on my way to Peaches' school where I'm to help serve hot lunch.

I reach Walgreen's with roughly 15 minutes before I'm to be at the school.  No trouble, it's Walgreen's!

Except for two small details:

1)  They have no record of a prescription for Skippy.

2)  They have no record of Skippy.

What follows is a series of phone calls  (Thank goodness for cell phones!)  between the doctor, our health care provider  (Yeah, never try to get a kids' prescription filled without holding the correct health care card in your hand...)  and my husband  (who has more vital info about the kids in his wallet than I have in my whole purse.)  After 50 minutes...I was the proud owner of 56 capsules of antibiotics to cure Skippy's sinus infection.

Obviously hot lunch was NOT happening.  I phoned my apologies, ran home to dose my ill son.  I informed him that had he not been so surly, I would have kissed his forehead and known he was running a fever. 

Back at the office, a circus ensued.  It's getting to be the holidays, you know, and anyone who works in any kind of retail will tell you that those who shop for the holidays are not always easy to deal with.  Multiply that by ten when your store is online and every grandma who's ever discovered her son's computer password whilst babysitting the grandkiddies is suddenly very interested in shopping online, yet not terribly skilled.

By the end of the day I was shot, but on my way to a Party lite party an hour from home.  I was not about to miss this party because these are women I adore and haven't seen in a very long time.  The perfect end, I figured to a frantic day.  I got home late, stayed up late watching a movie with Hubby and Peaches  (Skippy was in an amoxycillian coma in his room.)

That was Friday.  Frantic, frantic Friday.


I got up about 7:30 and decided to have breakfast in my jammies.  I have these super cute red flannel jammies with dogs all over them.  Flipping through the channels, I landed on "The Oxbow Incident."  I don't generally dig westerns, but I liked the book when I read it in college, and besides, it seemed like a cool thing to watch on a gloomy Saturday while everyone else was still asleep.

The next time I looked at the clock, it was 10:30.  Peaches and Hubby were milling about, getting ready to go shopping for my birthday (I've reached an age where I've decided to start lying about my age.  More on that tomorrow.)  Skippy was still sleeping off an infection.

Well, I got dressed, and did some household chores when I realized the Badger game was on at 11.  So I turned that on.  Skippy came upstairs, we discussed football and grilled cheese sandwiches.

The next time I looked at the clock, it was 5 PM.  Skippy was in the shower, Hubby and Peaches were not yet back.  It was dark in my house, and the cats were curled up on me, and none too happy when I moved.

I'd literally slept away a day.  Made me wonder why I got out of my doggie jammies in the first place.

I didn't think grown ups did that. 

So there you have it my friends.  Two completely different days one right after the other.  Which one did I like better?

I'll let you sort that out. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

A couple of things I probably shouldn't share, but I will!

Good evening!

I'm actually on my way to a Partylite party this evening.  In answer to your questions, yes, I do need something in spite of the mass of candles I have and no, I'm not going to book another party...I already have!

But I have a few minutes before I leave and I thought I should share a couple of quirks about me that might just explain my skewed view on life.  Or, what I'm really hoping is that someone in the mental health field will see this as a cry for help and starting treating me for free! 

There are two things about me that, as I've been told over the years, people find...odd.

1)  I cannot abide an unmade bed.

Maybe this goes back to my mother.  (Doesn't everything go back to your mother?)  My mom never made her bed.  Let me repeat, MY MOM NEVER MADE HER BED.  Every day and night it was there, this huge pile of tangled sheets and pillows and her leg pillow  (which was really a big foam wedge she covered in pillow case material) and her jammies.  Every day I passed by her room, (Because we NEVER SHUT DOORS either) and there is was, all unmade and making the room look yucky.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a picky house keeper.  I'm more of a  "Shove everything into one pile and the room will look better" person.  Which is why I lose stuff all the time, especially forms and bills.  But making a bed makes the room look about 90% better.

I didn't realize this was a problem until college.  Living in the door, I either roomed with a bed maker or I roomed alone.  I didn't have that roommate who rolled out of bed five minutes before class and then rolled back into bed five minutes after class.  (That was actually my friend, let's call her Eve.  She knows who she is!)  I didn't realize that this bed making thing, combined with my need to be early  (Not a weird thing about me, just good manners.)  made me a big annoyance to my friends.  I would come in to get them for breakfast and while I waited for them to finish getting ready, I'd make their bed.  I thought I was helping. 

Apparently, I was not. 

My husband is not a bed maker, and that's fine because even if I don't sleep in the bed (we have a rule, DO NOT WAKE MOM no matter where she is sleeping.)  I will make it in the morning.  It's a rare thing that my bed goes unmade much beyond 10 AM on any day.

I'm thankful that my children, who are also not bed makers, at least keep their beds out of my line of site.  Peaches has a big loft bed, and I'm not crawling up there to see if it's made, and Skippy lives below decks in the basement.  He barely has a bed.  It's really more of a campsite.

I don't know if it's a sign of insanity or not.  I do know that my mother always has me put my coat on her bed when we visit...

2)  I do not like trays of Christmas Cookies all mixed up.

Okay, even I admit this is a little nuts.  But with the holidays right around the corner, I have to explain this to anyone who might be giving me cookies for Christmas.  I LOVE COOKIES.  I love to bake cookies, I love to eat cookies, I love to exchange cookie recipes. 

What I do not love is those huge platters of cookies all stacked together, as if they belonged on the same plate.  To me, that's killing the cookies.  I can't eat any of them.

This was something I realized only a few years ago.  See, my mom didn't make a lot of cookies, she made Kringle and gave that to the neighbors and friends.  I do the same.  But our neighbor some years ago brought a plate of cookies over.  They were all lovely, he'd dyed some pink and green and all of that.  And there they all were, arranged on a platter like a work of art.  An oil painting of cookies.

I couldn't look at those cookies, all crumbling together, their flavors mingling and muddying.  I couldn't look at it and I realized that this was going to save me from gaining tons of weight over the holidays.  (Of course, the same rule does not apply to cheese and sausage platters, so I still do gain weight.) 

You see something delicious.  I see...a nightmare?

My grandmother always kept her cookies separated in a carrier that was a tower of trays that stacked on top of each other.  Hubby found me one just like it and I love it.  It's how I store my holiday cookies and how I serve them.

So my friends, do not be offended if I don't eat your cookies at your gathering.  I'll make up for it by making your beds!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How much damage can you do only going 12 MPH?

Hello all!

Well, I'm going to take your collective minds off the fact that it's election day here in the States and no matter what the outcome, there's going to be shrieking and howling from both sides of the aisle for a couple of months.  At least maybe after today they'll stop calling our houses with those ridiculous taped messages.

I realized I haven't told you all a story that's sort of core to the person I am now.  And I probably should.  Not everyone who knows this story finds it funny, but I do because, after all, the blog is entitled "It can only Happen to Sarah."  I'm Sarah, and this is something that could have only happened to me.

It was December 20 of 1999.  The whole planet was in a fevered pitch over the Y2K virus that was going to take down civilization at the stroke of midnight on the 1st of January.  I was a mom of a newly turned 6 year old and a not quite 3 year old and I was running late.  See, Skippy had forgotten his snow pants  (For those of you who don't know what snow pants are, they are big puffy pants we make our children wear in the winter because it's really, really, really cold here but the children like to play in the snow.  Snow pants are not stylish, but they do keep the little guys warm and dry.)  in his father's car, which was parked at his father's work.  So, I drove to Hubby's work, got the snow pants, and then drove across town to school.  Yes, I was running late.  And yes, I was probably going a touch too fast for conditions, especially since conditions were COLD  (about the coldest day on record for the last few years) and icy  (black ice...ice you can't really see until you're on it, is a special on the roads here in Wisconsin.)

About halfway to school, I hit a patch of ice, and spun the Pontiac 6000 twice.  It was a smooth spin because I, like most adults who live in the Upper Midwest, know how to handle ice without big panic.  The kids loved it.  "DO IT AGAIN MOM!"  They both shouted.

"Well," says I, "We were very fortunate we didn't hit anyone or anything, and Skippy is going to be late for school, so let's just drive, okay?"

Three blocks later, I hit another patch of ice and spun.  In the middle of the spin, because even though it happens very quickly, it's like slow motion, I realized I was either going to hit a car stopped at the stop light, or a parked car.

I opted for the parked car.

Obviously, we're not talking about high speeds here.  I think I was moving at all of about 12 miles per hour, which is fast enough to do some damage on the icy roads.

Again, the kids were cheering, but this time around I wasn't so calm. I hate getting into accidents.  It completely slows down the whole day.  My first call was to Hubby.  He had to come and get Skippy to school because, though I was almost within site of the school, I knew I was going to have to wait for the police.  The next call was to the police.  (The non emergency number, of course, because no one was hurt.  The other driver didn't even know he'd been in an accident yet.)  The police told me it was going to be a wait because, after all, there were a lot of accidents up and down that stretch of road.

By this time, the owner of the parked car was outside his house and looking at me with not too fond an expression.  I walked him over to his car, and explained, very apologetically, what had happened, and we examined the damage to his car.  (There wasn't much.)

I learned later that he didn't speak a word of English and had no idea what I was saying.  (Waukesha has a very high population of Hispanic immigrants.)

Now, just so we have the logistics laid out...My car is parked at the curb, and the car I hit is parked at the curb.  The damage to the car I hit is on the driver's side...so when the owner and I were looking at the car, we were, yes, STANDING IN THE STREET.  This is not uncommon, but it's not terribly smart, given the fact that a massive patch of black ice lay there, waiting for another victim.

The ice didn't have to wait long. 

We were still looking at the car when another vehicle came over the small rise in the road, hit that patch of ice, spun around and smacked, like I did, into the same spot on the car.

Only, she didn't hit the car.  Because I was standing between her and the car.  So she hit me.

I don't actually remember much of that part of it.  I remember trying to explain to the owner what I had done, then I remember lying face down on the pavement between the cars, with the hood of my Green Bay Packer Winter coat  (A must have for everyone in Wisconsin) flopped over my head.

All I could hear at that point was a woman shrieking and crying.  And apparently a crowd gathered quickly because I could hear an angry man shouting that someone should sue the city for not salting the roads earlier in the day. 

The only thing I could think of was, "If I don't get up, they're going to take me to the hospital and my kids will go into protective custody because Hubby isn't here yet and I'll never see my kids  again."  So I tried to get up.  And I fell back to the pavement immediately.  It wasn't like I was in pain, my legs simply weren't there. 

This renewed the woman's shrieking.  I guess the site of me, flat down on the pavement, is good theater because no one in the crowd reached down to help me up.  Again, I pictured my children 1)  Seeing this, because I knew by this time Skippy had unbuckled himself and was watching everything and 2)  sitting in some Dickensian Orphanage.  It was almost Christmas!

I tried getting up again, and this time someone put a hand out to steady me.  "Are the kids okay?"

"THERE ARE KIDS?????????"  The woman who apparently hit me was now on some level of panic I don't recognize as human.

"Yes.  Are they okay?"  I pointed to my car, and I saw Skippy looking at me, his dark eyes huge.

No one seemed to be able to tell me, so I opened up the car door.  Skippy handed me my cell phone.  "It's time to call 911 Mama." 

I knew he would have called 911, too, if I hadn't gotten up.  Good kid!

"Mama bleeding!"  Peaches announced.

Only then did I realize that I had blood on my face.  I felt okay, nothing too bad, except for my left knee and my mouth.  I guess I landed on those two points.

Did I mention it was cold?  It was at least a -10 Fahrenheit, and that was without the wind chill.  I didn't want to scare anyone, because I had no idea what my face looked like, so I popped my hood back up while I again called the police, and said that we now had multiple cars and an injury at my location.  (Johnny Gage would have been proud.)

A man walked up to me and said, "Sarah, the children can sit in my house while you wait."

I looked up and didn't immediately recognize the younger Hispanic gent in front of me.

"Sarah, It's Roman."

ROMAN!  I'd worked with Roman a year earlier at the cleaning company.  He was part of a very large family.  I'd worked with almost everyone in his family and I liked them all.  It was like an angel sent from Heaven.  "Okay kids,"  I unbuckled Peaches.  "You're going to go to Roman's house and wait for Dad."

"Do you have Cartoon Network?"  Skippy wanted to know.

"I do."  Roman took Peaches and Skippy two doors up to his duplex.

The police arrived..just in time to watch car #3 come up over the rise, hit that patch of ice, spin, and hit the parked car.  And this time he hit the back of the parked car.  Complete count:  Four damaged cars, fifteen or so people milling around, one hysterical banshee of a woman, and me.  I got into my car, because it was cold and looked at myself in the rear view mirror.  Ewww.....my mouth was bloody, I'd cut my lip inside someplace.  I was going to have a bruise on my face.  Other that, I seemed okay.

Multiple cop cars closed off the area.  One officer talked to car #3, one came over and talked to me.  "How did you cut yourself?"

"A car hit me."

Another rolled Hysterical woman around the corner because, as it turned out, the one vehicle that hit me was the only UNINSURED VEHICLE in this little scene. 

Of course.  So the damage to me and the damage to my car was not going to get paid for.  Lovely.

Hubby got there and said, "How did you hurt yourself?"

"A car hit me."

"What you hit your head on the dash or the steering wheel?"

"No man,"  Angry guy stepped in.  "That car hit her man!  She popped up and bam, landed on her face!  Somebody needs to sue the city!  Where are the salt trucks?"

The cop suddenly looks really worried.  "The car hit you?"

"Yes.  I said, a car hit me."

"I thought you just meant you hit the steering wheel."

At this point my knee is really starting to hurt.  (Get used to that phrase from me...for like the next forever years.)  And Hubby is giving me that look, you know the one, like you've lost your mind.  "Where are the kids?"

"I told you, at Roman's."


I look around and realize that my cop is now very interested in what shrieking, uninsured woman has to say,so he's no longer standing next to me.  I walk Hubby up two doors to Roman's duplex.  there, in the blessed warmth, are my two kiddies, sitting in front of the TV, which is situation under THE LARGEST PICTURE OF JESUS I've ever seen.  Seriously, I've seen a lot of pictures of Jesus, this one was MASSIVE.  Hubby got them both into their winter gear again, amid protests, of course, and hauled Skippy to school.

Skippy's Kindergarten teacher later told me that he told a very long story for about ten minutes and yes, he saw everything.  That's a chapter in his book I guess.

A few minutes later, Hubby returned to collect me and take me to the doctor to get my face looked at.  We dropped Peaches at a friend's house and headed for the clinic.  At the doctor's I finally got to see the extent of the mess that was my face.  I had blood all over my Johnny Gage/Roy De Soto "Happy Holidays" sweatshirt.  All I kept saying was, "I got blood on my guys."

Five stitches in my mouth and a series of x-rays that showed no damage to my knee (Yeah, right) later, I was on the couch nursing a lot of aches and pains with lots of Advil and a bag of frozen peas.  (Those of you with kids in sports know that frozen peas make the best ice packs.) 

I don't need a fancy ice pack when I have frozen peas!
I can never thank Roman enough for keeping my kids warm that day.  I sent him a flower arrangement and a pie  (It was the Bob and Brian special at Locker's Florist.)  But I will never forget his kindness.  I hope some day I'll be able to pay that one forward.

As for the damage to the car, it wasn't much. That happens when you stand in front of the car that's about to hit your car.  So there's a money saving tip for ya!  (Hey, if we're going to have government run healthcare, why not make use of it?)  We sold the car a few months later.  We never did fix it mostly because uninsured woman was supposed to pay us $250 (which was our deductible) in $50 installments.  She made one payment, then declared bankruptcy.  I wonder where she is now.

I got the stitches taken out on Christmas Eve.  And on New Year's eve, I was ready for the y2K virus to destroy the world.  I had 6 months supply of baby wipes, water, meat, matches, and toilet paper. 

Yeah, and just like the X-rays on my knee, y2K sort of wasn't what was predicted.

The kids still talk about the accident.  Skippy I think has actual memories of it, but Peaches has heard the story often enough.  They both still wish I'd spin the car again.  I haven't since that accident,  and I don't intend to.

Oh, and the owner of the parked car?  Well, I know what our insurance paid him and I'm sure car #3's insurance paid him plenty.  I'm guessing we both got billed for a complete repair on the car, and he got enough money to actually go out and get a new car.  That's what I would have done! I suppose we're all lucky no one was moving quickly that day.  I mean, how much damage can you possibly do when you're only going 12?

Today I have a bum knee, and I can point to that day as the day I started putting on weight because it simply hurt so much to exercise.  I'm sure there's a surgery in my future, but I sort of don't mind it too much.  My knee reminds me just how dramatic and funny life can be.  Seriously, if you can't laugh at those moments of drama to seem like too much, you're going to just drop dead from being too serious!

Which is what I hope you got from this story.

Fun Fact Friday: Now that it's dead, Sarah reveals a childhood dream.

Happy Friday all! What do you want to be when you grow up? That's a question we ask little kids...and I haven't a clue why....