Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Happy Birthday to Boy #2!!

Today is my son's birthday. He is nine. Every year, around November 1st, I always have great intentions. "I'm going to plan his party now. I'm going to think of some great presents for him. I'm not going to get distracted by Thanksgiving and be scrambling after Turkey Day to plan a party in December." This was going to be the year. But guess what? Last night I was at Target at 9:30 at night filling a cart with a bunch of crap--I mean, some nice presents--so Boy #2 would have something to open today. I booked a bowling party for him today, too--the second weekend in December. What is my problem? Why does this whole month fly by every year?

Actually, I think Boy #2 had a pretty nice day. He got some nice presents including a Spongebob cap, a Ripley's Believe it or Not book, and a label maker. Nothing says "Happy Birthday, kid" like office supplies! He got many more presents from other friends and relatives, including 3 pounds of rubber bands to make a giant rubber band ball--but that's a whole 'nother story. He got a giant cookie cake to share with his class at school, and dinner out at one of those Japanese places where they cook on the table in front of you. All in all, a pretty good birthday.

Next year I start planning in October.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

More Vegas stuff

Yesterday morning I almost walked right into Robert Kennedy Jr. when I went down to the lobby. I told him I really enjoyed his speech at the show the night before. I had to say something, right? Then last night at the very funny hour and 20 minute Jon Stewart show I sat three seats away from a bearded and corduroy-wearing Jeremy Piven. He is another pint-size celebrity, no taller than my 5'6" and very slight. He must have had a busy weekend because he took a little catnap during the performance!

This morning when we were leaving the bellhop told me he had helped Dave Chappelle with his luggage and he gave him a $50 tip. I broke the news to him that the day could only go downhill from there.

Now we're back in Chicago enjoying the 30 degree temperature difference. It's fun to go away, but it's always good to go home.

Friday, November 18, 2005

What happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas....

FROM LAS VEGAS--Last night I spent the night with Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Dustin Hoffman, Steve Martin, Ray Romano, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (whom I prefer to think of as "Bobby"}. It's not what you think. Mr. Minivan and I are at the HBO Comedy Festival in Las Vegas, and last night we went to the taping of "Earth to America", a collection of stand-up comedy and music with an overall theme of global warming. And in case you're confused, all the participants are against it. Last night's show really made me think about this issue, which I must confess, I don't do a lot--think about global warming, I mean, not thinking in general. This planet called Earth has limited resources, and we should all be doing our part to protect them. If you watch the show this Sunday night on TBS, people like those above as well as Larry David, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Bill Maher, and astronaut Jim Lovell will explain it all to you in a very entertaining way. Check your local listings...

After the taping we went to a private party thrown by HBO. We saw Bill Maher (very short, with a huge head), Bobby Kennedy Jr. (I restrained myself from asking him if he was the one who had a fling with the babysitter) [NOTE--he's not--that was his brother Michael], a man dressed head to toe in a Chicago Cubs uniform with Dempster on the back of it (Ryan Dempster IS a Chicago Cub, but if it was him, why would he be in full uniform in Las Vegas in November, and if it wasn't him, why?). We saw and met Larry David, who looks and sounds exactly like he does on his show. I couldn't help myself, I told him he was responsible for the bags under my eyes from staying up late and watching TIVO-ed episodes of his show.

After we left the party, we walked through the casino, where we saw a huge crowd of people gathered in one area, watching something. We got a little closer and saw that Tom Hanks (slicked back long hair, what is he thinking? I hope it's for a movie and not his own personal choice) and Faith Hill (tall, slim, gorgeous, tons of hair, and even more tons of eye makeup) were at a craps table surrounded by many large, beefy security men without smiles. We kept walking.

When we got back to our room we found a gift from the elves at TBS, a Polaroid camera. Just another night in Vegas...

Friday, November 11, 2005

Dropping The Ball

Tonight Boy #1 made a simple request. He wanted to go to the local high school football game ("Everybody's going, Mom!") with some friends. A simple request, right? Here's the catch. These friends were getting dropped off. At the game. Alone. They are 11. Yes, 11. Is it me? When I was 11 a big night included watching "The Brady Bunch" and getting to stay up til 10:00. I don't understand it. How can parents think it's OK for 11-year-olds to be out at night unsupervised? Big-time fumble, in my opinion. When I told Boy #1 he could not go unless an adult was going too and then offered to go to the game with him and Boy #2, it turned out he was actually fine not going. He was a little tired and was perfectly happy to go home and watch TV with his brother. I think he just wanted to know that he could go if he wanted to.

What's next, weekends in Vegas when they're 12?

Sunday, October 23, 2005

It's an epidemic...

My brother just called He is missing his prescription sunglasses. He wants me to keep my eyes open for them around my house. Is it an epidemic? Is this some hellish curse I have brought upon my entire family? What does it all mean? Maybe it's time for Lasik...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

More glasses problems....

As you may recall, I lost my prescription sunglasses a while ago. I finally got myself over to the eye doctor, got a new prescription, and after endless hours in the glasses store, with my friend to help, and several second, third, and fourth opinions from store employees, I selected a new pair of sunglasses and a new pair of regular glasses. I especially liked the regular glasses. They are designer, not my usual 2 for $99 kind of glasses, and a bit hip and funky. Think dark, think Charlotte from Sex and the City, oh, heck, think Prada. So I pick up the glasses and I love them. Everyone notices them and compliments me, my mahjong group, moms from school, my friends. Even Boy #1, who notices everything, likes them. Everyone likes them. Everyone except.....Mr. Minivan. "I hate them," he says. "They overpower your face. I like your old ones." "I paid over $300 for them, and I like them," I said. "You'll get used to them," I told him.

I wore them for three days and noticed that not only were my eyes watering a bit, but I was dizzy. The kind of dizzy that you expect when you've had a few drinks, NOT a few Diet Cokes with Lime. My mind went a little crazy. I tried to remember all the medical conditions that would cause dizziness. Mr. Minivan told me I was nuts. "So you assume right away it's a dire medical problem, huh? Maybe it's your new prescription." As much as I hate to admit it, he could be right. So today I went back to the eye doctor to have the glasses checked. He told me he had underprescribed or overprescribed or something like that--hoping to get my vision a "little crisper." He told me he would adjust the prescription closer to my old prescription because that little bit of crispness was apparently making me a bit woozy. Also told me something about the base curve and a face wrap--for the glasses, not me. I have it all written down. Tomorrow I will go back to the glasses place and have them remake the lenses.

Unfortunately for Mr. Minivan, I'm keeping the frames.....

Guest Blogger: Boy #1!!!

Mrs. Minivan can't think of anything so she's having ME write so she won't look bad. Since I'm blogging I will write about what the public wants, and what the public wants is..........A CHICAGO TITLE!!!!!! Most people, including myself, are Cubs fans in Illinois. Even though I'm a Cubs fan I want a professional sports title in Illinois, and that's why I'm offering my support to the White Sox by going to Game #1 of the World Series!!!

This is all I have to say until I blog again so I bid you adieu!

Boy #1

Friday, October 07, 2005

No, I have NOT gone into the Witness Protection Program!

Bad case of writer's blog here. No excuses. I'll be back soon.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Heard Around Town

I heard two women talking at Costco a couple of months ago:

One to the other: "My son's at camp and my daughter's a bitch....she's 15...."

Heard at the grocery store the other day:

"I bought these jeans two years ago. They're the only thing I've ever bought that was on sale."


Dad update

Less than four weeks ago, my dad had surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm. Recovery from such a major surgery will take a while, but he feels better than he did a week ago and way better than he did two weeks ago. We went for a short walk today and within a three-minute time span this was what he said: "I think I'll go to the pancake house and have a Dutch Baby for lunch." "Maybe I'll go to the library". "I'm going to play bridge this weekend." "Next week I'm going to drive my car." Whoa, Dad, slow down!!! I think it's safe to say he's feeling better.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Sweating Soccer Mom

So today I really fell off the deep end. Boy #2 had a soccer game and I had to help Mr. Minivan with some work stuff. I asked the mom of one of his teammates (who is also one of his classmates) if she could give him a ride home. This other mom, who is a lovely lady, by the way, said it was no problem. The game was scheduled from 3 to 4 and is no more than 10 minutes away from our house. I did my work and sent a few emails and then glanced at my watch. 4:32!! I started to wonder where he was. I realized I did not have this mom's cell phone number and called her home number, hoping she would not answer, hoping that maybe her outgoing message would contain her cell number, or that a helpful husband or child would answer and give me the number. No answer. Then I remembered that a friend of mine worked with her and might have her number.

I called my friend and she did have the number. I then proceeded to leave two slightly panicked messages on the cell phone, which, of course, went straight to voice mail! "Hi, I was just calling to see where you are. It's after 4:30 and I'm getting a little worried." By this time my imagination had gone into overdrive and I pictured myself arriving at the soccer field and finding....no one. I grabbed my car keys and left Boy #1 at home with the portable phone in his hand, instructing him to call me immediately when (if?) Boy #2 arrived. I ran out the door and started to drive to the soccer field. Time now is 4:45. I am crazed. I drive up the highway, looking at both the road ahead of me and the cars traveling the opposite direction on the other side. I think I see her car, but I'm not sure. Could be an illusion. I call home and tell Boy #1 to go downstairs and open the garage door and stand in the garage with the phone. "He's home, Mom. I just heard the garage door open," he says. I breathe a sigh of relief and head for home. The demons and dangers lurking in my imagination, in every mom's imagination, have receded. I pull into the garage, go into the kitchen, and see a flushed and tired Boy #2 drinking a Frostee. "How was the game?" I asked. "Why were you so late?" "The game ran a little late and we stopped at Wendy's," he answered, happily slurping.

I called the other mother and told her to disregard the messages on her cell. "I just got myself a little worked up," I told her, "I should have gotten your cell phone number." I could tell she was a little offended. We had been in parallel Mom Universes--me trying to make sure my boy was safe, and she getting the soccer players an icy treat. We were both being good moms, each caught up in our own moment in time.

I know one thing, though, in the future I'll get a cell phone number and make sure the phone is ON.

Friday, September 16, 2005

They're Dropping Like Flies

First Renee and Kenny, now Tori and Charlie. How can the rest of us hope to make marriage work? And you know these things always come in threes. Who's next, Julia and Danny? Ben and Jen? Or, dare I say it? Britney and Kevin? Pretend you didn't hear that last one. That would be unthinkable.

Renee and Kenny have only been married four months. That's barely enough time to have changed their vacuum cleaner bag, much less their minds. And it's not like they have the stresses we mere mortals have, like making the mortgage payment on time, keeping up with the laundry, and finding time to stop at the grocery store after work. They have people to do all that. I guess it just shows that, even if you have no money issues, marriage is tough. You'd think Renee and Kenny would give it a bit more than four months, but what do we know? Here's what came to my mind when I first heard the news........ Do you think they will return the wedding presents they received?

UPDATE: There may be hope yet. Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards might be getting back together.

UPDATE #2: OMG!!! I can't believe I forgot the Mother of all Breakups--Brad and Jen. I guess it was too painful for me to think about all over again. I'm in such denial...

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

PTA Overload

I'm exhausted. The bags under my eyes have their own bags. Yesterday was a two-PTA-meeting day, and let me tell you, it's like running a marathon without those little packets of goo. The first PTA meeting of the year is usually the one with the best attendance. The moms new to the school want to see what it's all about, others want to see what's going on, some want to get involved, and of course, at every school there is the core group of Moms Who Do All The Work. The first one was actually not so bad. It was at Boy #1's middle school. I went for the first three reasons. It's too soon to know if I'll fall into the last category. There were about 30 people there, including the principal and the assistant principal, both new to their positions. They are so young I had to restrain myself from asking them if they babysat. The budget for the year was discussed THOROUGHLY and approved. Upcoming activities and programs were also discussed. I like the feeling of knowing what is going on at school and being involved. I also like passing notes back and forth with the friend sitting next to me. It really felt like I belonged in middle school.

Then last night, the PTA meeting at Boy #2"s elementary school. Let me describe it to you this way. A hot and humid night. A sweltering cafeteria. Several families decided it would be a good idea to bring their babies and preschoolers, so there were about 6 LOUD children running around providing singing, dancing, and whining distraction. But wait, there's more. Several horrified kindergarten moms, thinking all the meetings are like this one. I assured them that they are not. Oh, yeah, several of the women doing most of the talking are low-talkers, so between that and the dancing children, who knows what any of us agreed to. It was sort of like a Seinfeld episode. We were only missing the puffy shirt.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Reason #4 Why I Will Never Have a Dog

Imagine the horror. Imagine my shock. Imagine for yourself. Did you know that a "girl" dog has to get her "period" before she can be spayed? Did you know that they sell little doggy panties for that "special" time of the little girl doggy's life? Little. Doggy. Panties. Yep, that's what my friend told me the other day. She just confirmed it on the phone. Have I entered the Twilight Zone? It sort of feels like it.

I'm Also More Than My Laundry...

We are either very clean or very dirty, I'm not sure which. All I know is I am surrounded by laundry. Dirty laundry, clean laundry, it is unbelievable. It is everywhere. And somehow laundry must be related to dishes. They both spontaneously generate. You know how, when you've loaded your dishwasher and are listening to that comforting hum, you glance toward your sink and cannot believe it but you see two spoons, a knife, and a couple of glasses which must have emerged from the drain in the previous half hour? That's how it is with laundry at my house, too. Right now there is a load in the washer, a load in the dryer, 2 piles of perfectly folded clothes on my bed ready for the elves to put away, and, shockingly enough, an overflowing basket of dirty clothes ready to be washed. And, I swear, five minutes ago, that basket was empty. You know what they say about rabbits.....who knew it was the same with laundry?

Friday, September 02, 2005

Nightmare in New Orleans

This is America in 2005 yet when I watch the coverage of what is going on in New Orleans it brings back memories of the scenes in Gone With The Wind of the burning of Atlanta. Except the scenes in GWTW didn't look as bad. How is it possible that in the greatest country in the world our own citizens are dying on the streets and in the Superdome and in abandoned hospitals? The scenes remind me of an Arnold Schwartzenegger movie except where is he? And if you think it can't happen to you think again. We are all just a disaster away from seeing ourselves on CNN. Think about it. You're displaced from your homes with no water, no working toilets, no phones, no food, no clean clothes, no gas. And it's 95 degrees outside and there is water up to your waist. It's great that Congress passed yet another bill to send money but it seems that these people need buses to get out of there, clothing, food, diapers, infant formula, water, and medicine. Maybe they should send that stuff immediately and worry about how to pay for it later. It's great that President Bush has assured people that help is coming but where is it? As my brother says, it's a disgrace.

This disaster is so immense it is hard to wrap your mind around it. Here's a clue--when you hear "it's a crisis of biblical proportions" more than once, it's a big, bad crisis. People are trapped in hospitals. The hospitals are surrounded by water. People with guns are shooting at rescue helicopters. Everyone is desperate. Oh, yeah, and now there are fires burning out of control. This morning I heard about a woman who recently had a baby and she was released from the hospital but her baby was not. Now she has no idea where her newborn is. And there are thousands and thousands of stories just as bad or worse.

If you are able to read this you have an Internet connection. That alone means your day is already about a hundred thousand times better than anyone you're seeing on CNN. And that should make you realize that, no matter who cuts you off on the highway, or how long you have to wait in a long, slow post office line, or how expensive it is to fill up your gas tank, none of us reading this has any problems.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Medical Update!! Good News!

Dad was released from the hospital today! He is apparently doing well enough to be released, or possibly, insurance decided it was time to kick him out. He sounds good, has been walking a bit, and will be home on Saturday. He will now have time to watch his large collection of DVD's and figure out what kind of pizza to make for the grandkids when he feels up to cooking. We all cannot wait to see him. We love you, Dad!!!

Monday, August 29, 2005

Reasons #1, 2, and 3 Why I Will Never Have a Dog!!

Boy #2 is desperate for a dog. Unfortunately, he is unlucky enough to have a mother who, how shall I put this delicately....sort of, a little bit, kinda doesn't really (but I'm a nice person anyway) want dogs.

How is it possible that on the same day last week I heard two stories that reminded me why I will never have a dog? One friend told me about how she was sitting on the couch with her dog and he not only had a seizure but then threw up. Another friend called me that same night frantic because her 2 dogs had just come from the backyard (one with a live baby rabbit in his mouth) and smelled awful. It didn't smell like skunk, she said, but more like gas--it was foul. She was on the way to the emergency vet with them, with both her kids, (because of course her husband had a business dinner downtown!), giving me a running commentary the whole way there. When she got there they met her in the parking lot and uttered the words no dog owner wants to hear. "It's skunk. Take them home." She disagreed. "It's skunk," they said, as they handed her a recipe for a homemade deskunking concoction. It's 2005 and dog-owners still have to whip up potions involving hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to deskunk their dogs! I wondered, can this same concoction be used on the kids? What about the interior of her car? But I digress.

So now it was over to Dominick's for my friend, with dogs and kids in tow. Nothing like making an entrance at the grocery store at 10 at night smelling like eau de skunk. She assembled all the necessary ingredients as she and her kids made a lasting and indelible impression on everyone doing a little late-night shopping. The cashier looked at her sympathetically as she put the items on the conveyer belt. "Your dog got skunked, right?" she asked. I guess the secret potion is not a secret to everyone. It must be kind of like having membership in a club that no one wants to join.

She went home and started a long night of cleaning. First the dogs, then the kids, then the floor of the laundry room where she did the dog-cleaning. Finally, finally, it was her turn sometime late in the night. I bet a shower never felt so good!

Then, the next morning, just as I was remembering the skunk story from the night before that I was trying to forget, the first friend called me at 8 AM asking me to give her son a ride to the middle school for the
9AM ice cream social and locker set-up session.
It turns out she had been up since 4 AM cleaning up after the dog who had a seizure. My friend woke up in the middle of the night smelling something horrible. When she went out into the hall she found doggy diarrhea and blood all over the floor. So she and Pine-Sol spent a bit of time in the wee hours of the morning cleaning her wood floors.

And Boy #2 wonders why I don't want a dog!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Saturday ICU update

Dad is in the regular ICU and today sat up in a chair for about 2 1/2 hours. He watched a little TV and tried to rest. His only complaint is that "they don't let you sleep." Still a slight fever but no one seems too concerned.

Medical updates will be much less frequent from now on unless there is a significant change.

We now return you to your regular blog programming....

Friday, August 26, 2005

5 PM ICU Update

My dad continues to do well. He will soon be in a regular ICU room and actually walked a couple of steps to a chair and sat up for a bit!

School Supply Update

One backpack has been returned and I just got off the phone with a loyal blog-reader (OK--one of my girlfriends) who kindly told me definitely not to use the sling one. Looks cool but too small is the verdict. We just got back from setting up Boy #1's locker at middle school. I may have to take an Advil and lie down for a while. Unbelievable. I must have carried 3 shopping bags full of supplies. I for sure took less to college. We outfitted the locker, which looks great, by the way. The locker has more accessories than I do. Well, maybe not. But it has a little mirror, 2 cool shelves, and a little magnetic container on the back of the door. It is a vision of organizational excellence. I should have taken a photo of it, because today is probably the last day it will look like that. I don't believe his coat will fit in it come winter, but the locker itself looked amazing!

10 AM ICU Update

Still stable. Some more tubes are being removed today and he will hopefully be moved from Cardiac ICU to the regular ICU. In the ICU world, apparently that is a promotion.

School Supply Blues Revisited

So I buy all these very specific and very many school supplies for Boy #1, for more than I think I spent on supplies my freshman year in college, I might add, and now it's time to test out the backpack. What a hellish nightmare!!! Boy #1 and I have 5 backpacks spread out around us, a rolling one, a sling one, a GIANT one big enough to hold a laptop, too, and 2 "regular" ones. We are testing them out, putting the 2 large binders (one for morning classes, and one for afternoon classes) filled with 3 spirals and 3 color-matching folders each, along with a pencil case per binder--in each of the backpacks, trying to figure out how this is going to work come next Tuesday. It seems like there won't be room for textbooks too. Not to mention that the backpack is so heavy I don't know how he'll carry it. And he is one of the bigger kids in his grade--almost 5'5".

What has happened in our schools? Why do 11 year-olds need well over $100 worth of school supplies? And why do I have to also provide Kleenex and paper towels for the classroom? You'd think that the almost $200 "registration fee" or a tiny bit of the property taxes I pay could be used for facial tissue. I don't get it, but I don't have time to think about it. I have to go to four different stores to return four extra backpacks......

Thursday, August 25, 2005

5:00 ICU Update

News from the Cardiac ICU is good. He is speaking and is stable and is alert. He is getting oxygen and antibiotics. More news as it arrives....

Patient Update

Breathing tube out. Ventilator off. Legs moving. Patient confused and a bit groggy--asking when his surgery is. (!!!) But perhaps the best sign of all is my brother thinks my dad was asking him for stock quotes!

All good signs right now. Stay tuned....


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Surgery is over!! Now we wait...

1-- very large aortic aneurysm
8--hours of surgery
1 --Dacron graft
25 --(or more) phone calls to and from worried relatives
159--Jelly Bellies consumed by my brother in the waiting room
1--patient out of surgery..... PRICELESS!!

Yep, he's out of surgery. What a HUGE relief. My brother told me that the doctor was going to be coming out to speak to them shortly after the main part of the surgery was over. "What?", I asked, "Like a pilot putting the plane on auto-pilot and coming out of the cockpit?" I guess it's like on ER, when the surgeon strips off his gloves and says, "Close him up!" as he's turning away from the operating table.

My dad is in Recovery and will soon head for a couple-day stay in the ICU. The surgery went fine, all things considered, and hopefully there will be no complications and his recovery will go well, too. Now we wait and hope....

It's happened again!

The breakdown continues. My sister-in-law was over and I offered her some tea. As the water boiled, I went to get my little Tupperware container of tea bags. A fabulous assortment, I might add, everything from mint herbal to PG Tips to plain old Lipton. Unfortunately, however, I could not find them. The container, which should have been in its usual spot, wasn't. I searched the pantry and all my cabinets. Nothing. Maybe it's with my sunglasses. If I could barely find my minivan, I'll never find the tea. I broke the bad news to her. "I lost my tea, can I get you something else, some coffee, a Coke?" She'll just have some hot water. "What are you, 80?" I asked. Hot water is impossible to lose. Should I be concerned? Is a pattern developing?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

My dad

My dad is the greatest guy in the world. No, I'm serious. He is. A gentleman in every sense of the word. I'll give you $10 if you can find one person who says something bad about him. No, make that $100. He is a true renaissance man--interested in golf, cooking, golf, pizza-making, cards, bowling, golf, pretty much everything. He is headed to the Lone Star State this week for major surgery. He is going to the best surgeon in the country for this type of thing. His sense of humor and irony overtakes his nervousness most of the time and he says, "It's good news, bad news. The good news is I have the best doctor in the country. The bad news is I NEED the best doctor in the country."

I'm considering sending this best doctor one of those squishy pillows from Brookstone with a note telling him to get a good night's sleep the night before the surgery....

Good thoughts, everyone, please.

UPDATE: Surgery is scheduled for noon tomorrow, Weds. I'll keep you posted. He will be off golf for 4 months, but the doctor assured him it will "cure his slice." Stay tuned.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Never Marry a Baker

Mr. Minivan, Boys #1 and 2, and I went into the city to Mr. Minivan's office yesterday. He had to do a little business, and we tagged along. After we left his office we walked around the neighborhood in search of food. Mr. Minivan remembered a NY-style pizza place that one of his employees had discovered. The pizza at Santullo's was thin, NY-esque, and delicious. It was so NY I could almost see graffiti appearing on the buildings across the street. After pizza and a salad, we decided we needed just a little taste of something sweet to finish off the night properly. We walked into
Sweet Thang , a charming little French patisserie with the most delicious tarts and other goodies. Boy #2 said his lemon tart was "one of the best desserts I've ever had." He may have meant "that day", but a compliment is a compliment. I asked the young woman with the French accent who was serving us if she was the baker and she said she was his wife. I had to ask. "When you start dating a baker, how much weight do you gain?" "Probably double where you start," was the shocking answer, "and then you lose it." Sounds like fun on the upside, no?

Friday, August 19, 2005

School Supply Blues?

Remember the good old days when you could buy all the school supplies your kid needed for ten bucks and have money left over for lunch at McDonald's too? Yeah, neither do I. I just bought school supplies for Boy #1, who is headed soon for middle school, and spent over $100!! That's without the flash drive, which is "strongly recommended" for all students at his soon-to-be school. (No.... Mr. Minivan--a flash drive doesn't involve shocking the truck driver next to us on a long, lonely stretch of highway....) For those of you wondering what a flash drive is, which is what I was wondering when I first read the school supply list, it is a little thingy that hangs on your keychain that allows you to transfer your files to it and access them on another computer. Just what every 6th grader needs, right? Well, I grew up in a time when a couple of new spiral notebooks, as well as a Chandler's assignment notebook (with as many colors of Flair pens as you could get your parents to buy you attached to it) meant you were ready for a new school year.

I still love school supplies. What a sense of hope and optimism there is in a simple crisp new spiral. Every new school year the same thoughts: "I'm going to keep up with assignments and not try to cram everything in on Sunday nights. " I'm going to do this three-week project a little at a time." Even if you're not in school, every fall is a fresh start and every new notebook a new beginning.

I love school supplies so much that, as I was picking up six 70-page spiral notebooks (blue, yellow, red, green, black, and purple) for my son, along with matching colored pocket folders, I threw in a couple for myself. After all, you're never too old for new beginnings, are you?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Dinner Dinner Everywhere Yet Not a Bite to Eat!

When I was a kid my mom made dinner every night. A REAL dinner with a salad, main dish, vegetable, and starch. There were four of us kids, and we all took turns setting and clearing the table. It was like a well-oiled machine. Can you imagine making dinner for 6 people every night? Neither can I. We rarely went out for dinner because, well, people didn't then. Sometimes, when my parents went out we got to have Swanson TV dinners. Yes, sadly enough, that was a real treat. My personal favorite was the meatloaf dinner. Remember that one? Meat loaf in a tomato-ey sauce, little tater tots, green beans, and that brownie. That brownie that was never cooked properly. It was always a bit too mushy or after it was put back into the oven, a little overdone. And that was back in the day when the TV dinner came in a tin container with tin foil on top and had to be cooked in the oven. Yep, we had to wait about 30 minutes (not counting preheating time) for that "special treat". It's not like today where you can pop that paper container in the microwave and have your dinner cooked in the time it takes you to put the box in the recycling bin.

When I had my kids, I looked forward to the days when I could make lovely family dinners. In my imagination it went something like this: My sweet, freshly-bathed little darlings would gather 'round the dinner table, sitting perfectly with napkins on laps. My husband would be at the foot of the table and I would bring in dinner from the kitchen. I would walk in with Chicken Marsala, or Meat Loaf or perhaps Soy-Glazed Salmon. With all the trimmings, of course. Their little faces would light up as they saw what was for dinner and they would excitedly hand me their plates to be filled up.

In reality here is sort of what it's like at my house: Mr. Minivan travels and works late. Boy #1 likes red apples and green grapes and would be happy eating pizza every night for dinner. Boy #2 likes green apples and red grapes and everything from sashimi to cheeseburgers to tilapia. A very common comment (usually from Boy #1) at dinnertime is "This is a horrible dinner!" As you might imagine, my cookbooks are covered in a very thin layer of dust, which is so sad, as I love to cook.

That meatloaf dinner is sounding better and better. I have to go now and make a quick stop at the grocery store....

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I live in a pretty upscale town. OK, it's really upscale. In one small downtown area we have 2 Starbucks, our very own Saks Fifth Ave., Pottery Barn, a grocery store where you don't touch the groceries after you place them in your cart, and about a zillion banks. I grew up here, but I didn't realize we also have our very own Moose Lodge. My sharp-eyed Boy #1 did, though. For weeks now, as we've driven by the Moose Lodge he has been saying, "Mom, I want to go play BINGO there--the sign says BINGO every Tuesday night at 7. Doors open at 5. Mom, next Tuesday we HAVE to go play BINGO." So last night, at 6:40, I told the boys to get their shoes on and that we were going somewhere.

For the next 15 minutes it was like listening to two little stream of consciousness detectives. "Where are we going, Mom? Tell us! Is it the mall? No, we're going the opposite way. Is it the library? Is it Dairy Queen? Where, Mom?" I just kept driving.

We parked and the guessing continued. "Is it Williams-Sonoma? Is it Chipotle? Is it Jamba Juice? Is it Ann Taylor?" Yes, boys, I know Ann Taylor does sound like a fun surprise outing, but...no. As we got close to the entrance of the Lodge, it all clicked. "We're going to play BINGO!!" they said. "BINGO!" I said.

Well, after we entered and were told the boys could watch but they couldn't play a bit of the enthusiasm had worn off. I guess I never realized BINGO was considered gambling. I sort of think of it as wholesome family entertainment, like BINGO night at school with pasta as the markers and toys as prizes. But we were there to play and we were determined. I purchased 6 BINGO cards. The regular kind, not the kind you use with daubers. See, I had already learned something new about BINGO--daubers vs. markers--who knew?

We entered the BINGO area and it was like a whole new world. Boy #1 whispered, "Mom, they're really serious about their BINGO." Um, yeah. Rows and rows of tables with many many SERIOUS BINGO players. WITH their own daubers. With their own garbage bags for their tear-off BINGO cards to use with the daubers. One woman brought her own little personal fan. One had a few Beanie-type stuffed animals (for good-luck?). Many had magnets with handles (sort of like a hairbrush without the brush) to clear the cards of the metal-edged markers. Where would one buy something like that? Mostly older women, a few younger women and a few older men. I would say that the three of us brought the average age down to about 62.

I tried not to look at the two giant moose heads staring down at me--one on either end of the hall. It was hard not to look, though. Those eyes. The Moose Lodge runs a great little concession stand--hot dogs, chips, soda, microwave popcorn bags, candy, etc. And when we walked in a table in the lobby was covered with plates of pie slices. Maybe there's a social hour after the BINGO. Who knows? We were loaned chips to use as markers and found seats in the back of the hall. As we walked in there were a few stares. I guess children are not a common BINGO accessory but they were quiet and well-behaved so the staring didn't last long.

We....I mean, I, played about 8 games. Interesting ones like four corners and postage stamp. The most exciting one was 9-pack--with a $60 prize. Needless to say we...I...did not win. A couple of times during the play one of the Moose men running the BINGO passed by us and gave us an extra card. By the time we left we had 9 cards.

At about 8:15 all of a sudden everyone got up and headed for the pie. It was the first break of the night. We decided we had had enough excitement. Thanks a lot--we had fun in this brave new world. We'll be back when we're all legal.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

How do you misplace a minivan?

I have to admit that lately I have been having a little problem. I've been misplacing things. Some I've even "misplaced" permanently, I fear. Two weeks ago, I misplaced my keys at a friend's birthday party, which necessitated a frantic midnight search before the keys were finally found in a closet next to the stereo system. Huh? Then, two days later, I lost my prescription sunglasses somewhere between a giant sports bar/restaurant Boy #2 has been desperate to go to for months, and home. I had them when we were leaving the restaurant. I know that because they fell on the floor when we were walking out (talk about foreshadowing!) and I picked them up. But the next morning when I went walking with friends at 7 AM, I could not find them. And since then, I have searched and searched both my house and car repeatedly and called the restaurant so many times they said "Oh, it's you again" the last time I called. All searches have turned up nothing. I have finally accepted defeat and have made an appointment with my eye doctor for a check-up. It's probably time, anyway. I know, I know, I will find the glasses as soon as I order new ones. Don't remind me.

But last night was the icing on the cake of my descent into absent-mindedness. Boy #1 and I met some friends for dinner at a local restaurant in town. Boy #2 was at a friend's house, and Mr. Minivan was working late, so we ventured out. After dinner, when we walked out, I had no memory of where I had parked. As I stared out onto the familiar street, I couldn't even remember which stores I had passed on my way to the restaurant. I walked across the street to a parking lot down the block, pressing my remote and hoping to hear the beep-beep I know so well. Nothing. I went back into the restaurant ready to ask my friends to drive me around in search of my missing minivan. Suddenly it all came flooding back to me--I had parked around the corner, across from Borders. The crisis was over. As I got closer to the car, I realized why I had misplaced it. As I had gotten out of the car and walked toward the restaurant I had been talking to a friend on my cell phone and had no memory of the route I had taken to the restaurant. (Right now my mother and my aunt are getting ready to pick up the phone to lecture me on the dangers of mixing cell phones and driving--OK, OK you're right!!!)

At least I know why I misplaced my minivan. And at least I found it. The sunglasses are another story. I'm going to go call the sports bar just one last time now....

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The end of everything

Mr. Minivan, who has many many wonderful qualities that I will discuss in depth at a later date, also has several that drive me crazy. The man refuses to use up the last bit of certain things. Shampoo is one of them. I realized this years ago when I went to empty the wastebasket in the bathroom he showers in. Imagine my horror when I noticed, in the trash, his bottle of shampoo, discarded with an inch and a half of shampoo still in it!! Well, I was raised right, so I knew what I had to do--I pulled the bottle out of the garbage, turned it upside down, and put it back in the shower. Of course he ignored it so over the years I've devised a little system to fool him--I pour the last bit of the shampoo into the new bottle he is using. You do what you have to do.

Now that the shampoo problem has been solved, I realize I must turn my attention to Grape-Nuts. He will not eat the last inch or two of the bag of Grape-Nuts, claiming it is all "dust". Last night I found the old bag of Grape-Nuts (with 2 inches of "dust" in it) on the counter with the new box, opened, next to it. He may be onto me about the shampoo, so I have to proceed carefully.

The thing is, if it were me with this "last bit" issue, I'd just do what I wanted and hide the evidence. But I'm much sneakier than Mr. Minivan (I actually prefer the word "clever")--and one of the things I love about him is that hiding the evidence would never occur to him!

Anyone have a good recipe for Grape-Nut muffins?

Addiction in the Suburbs

We've all read the articles, we've all seen the pictures--addiction is an ugly, dangerous thing.

Little did I know it would strike in my own home, to me. It started out so innocently. I tried it and liked it. I found myself doing it often and for long periods of time. I ignored my own children--"Mommy, I'm hungry!" they cried. "Just one more minute," I said. I turned my friends onto it. One of my friends got so caught up in it she forgot to pick her daughter up at school.

For a while lately, I thought I had beaten my addiction. I hadn't done it in months, but recently, I felt the urge. I knew it was a mistake but I was in the clutches of a power stronger than my own.

You know what it is. You want to do it too.

Don't say I didn't try to warn you.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

It's not their fault!!

During the twelve and a half years that I've been married, I've often wondered how it was possible that my husband, Mr. Minivan, a college grad (business school, too!) could forget/ignore the simplest of requests. How could it happen that, when repeatedly asked to take out the garbage or recycling, he would immediately walk past said bag of trash or newspapers? I know he's got a good memory for certain things because he remembers in great detail the intricacies of various business deals and complicated football plays from the 1985 Bears. Imagine my surprise when I read today that it is actually harder for men to hear women's voices than men's voices.

Now I realize it's not that he's playing a little passive-aggressive mind game with me or just ignoring me. He has an actual physiological impediment, as do all men. I feel so much better now.

Tennis, anyone?

Here in my town, there comes a time every year when all thoughts and conversation turn to.....Park District Tennis Sign-Up. Yes, it's quite the event here, mainly because if you get into a certain class you get first dibs on sign-up for that particular class for the rest of the year. So people go and literally camp out at the tennis facility because sign-up is on a first-come first-serve (no pun intended) basis. So the other day was the sign-up for kids' classes, and it started at 7 PM. I needed to sign up my younger son, Boy #2, and there were a couple of class options that would fit into his busy schedule. You know how it is--between soccer, Hebrew, and basketball--we still had a few openings available! So I drove up at 6:40 PM. I knew right away I should have come earlier and brought a little snack and perhaps a 300-page novel to pass the time--because the parking lot was totally full and the minivans and SUV's were even forced to park in the fire lanes. I, being a law-abiding citizen, parked legally down the road and walked toward the building. I ran into a woman whose kids go to my kids' school. "I'm having a hard time picturing my mother doing something like this!" I commented. "I know," she said, "and I'm really bad--I hired someone to sit there for me." I stopped in my tracks. "What?" I stuttered, "you mean, like a kid?" "Yes, " she answered "she's been there since 4". "Cool," I said weakly. "Damn!!" I thought to myself, "What a great idea!! Boy #1 has been home all afternoon--he could have been sitting here. A couple of bucks for the vending machines and he'd have been fine. I have to make a note for next year's sign-up."
Anyway, I walked in at about 6:42 and was #84. I got the class I wanted for Boy #2 and all's well that ends well! I was home by 7:20. Next year Boy #1 gets dropped off right after lunch. Maybe the last Harry Potter will just have come out and he'll never realize he's not on the couch at home.....
If you see my mom, let's just keep this between ourselves. She'd never understand.