Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Mile High Club

No, no--it's not what you're thinking--Mr. Minivan is on an American Airlines flight RIGHT NOW (OK, American, you don't totally suck) to New York and he is emailing me from the air!!!! Yep, now we can be connected and contacted and stressed out ALL the time, even 35,000 feet up. Or...maybe it's the best idea ever--you can surf the net and play addicting online games and blog (!!) even in the air. I know I will love it--what do YOU think of this new cyberdevelopment?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again

It's official. I've become my mother. The evidence is overwhelming. It's not just the words that come out of my mouth....the classic......."Because I said so!"....."If you went to bed earlier it would be easier to get up in the morning!"....."I don't care what all your friends do!" ...and so many more. It's not just that I rip the address labels off of all my magazines before I recycle them, or that I wrap the strap of my purse around my foot when I am at a restaurant to guard against a thief who possibly stopped for dinner. That's just the tip of the iceberg. But today, today as I ripped out several magazine articles and a New York Times article to send to various friends--all with personalized post-its affixed to the articles--- I realized the transformation is complete. Good job, Mom. You can relax now. Your work is done. With me, at least. Dad, on the other hand--- still a work in progress.

UPDATE--Thursday 12/11--I just received a package from my mother containing a nightgown she swears she bought for me a week and a half ago--before this posting went up. I may demand to see the receipt as proof. Here's why--look what is on the nightgown:

Isn't that freaky? I really have become her. Or she has become me.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thank You Oprah!!!

I watched Wednesday's episode of Oprah on Wednesday night.  Oprah announced her "Clean Up Your Messy House Tour" with the help of organizational guru and clutter buster Peter Walsh.  There were a lot of great tips on the show, but one of the best, I thought, was a way to deal with the masses of artwork your children bring home, especially during elementary school.  Their suggestion was to take digital photos of the artwork and then create a photo book of the art.
 What a great idea!  And even better, Oprah and her friends at Snapfish
were offering Oprah viewers a free 20 page photo book!  It was a limited-time offer (register for the free book by tonight, Friday, at midnight, and order the book by this Sunday--get moving if you want a free book, too), so I had to act fast. (They are also offering 20% off all Container Store purchases for the next week.)  I have lots of beautiful artwork that I haven't been able to part with--especially from Boy #2.  I spent most of the day yesterday photographing, uploading, and playing with the layout of my photo book.  Very cool.  It is now being made and I should have it next week!  I now feel much better about getting rid of the slightly rumpled pieces of construction paper I have been saving without knowing why.  Thank you Oprah!!! You too, Peter! Now onto my closet......

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Coming Soon To a Backyard Near You.......Winter!!!

It's happening again here.  "Winter" is coming and is scaring the #$*!@ out of the natives.  I was talking with a friend of mine on the phone this morning and she was telling me that she was considering having a party in her backyard for her daughter's birthday at the end of November.  "Do you think it will be too cold?" she asked me.  "No," I said, "it will be great--they're kids--they'll be moving around and they can bring a sweatshirt if they want to. "  "But I looked up the average temperature at the end of November, " she said, "and it said it could be 71."  I was sure I had misheard her.  "71?" I asked.  "Yes, 71 degrees," she answered.  "71!!" I said, "that's perfect--it will be great."  "But 71 is cold for LA," she said.  "Do you hear yourself?"  I asked her.  "71 is great--they can bring a sweatshirt," I said again.  "Maybe I can rent heat lamps," she continued.  Huh?  Every time I start to feel sort of normal here something like this happens.  I am already wearing long sleeves most days because even though it is 80 degrees most days it is already the end of October.  I'm done with summer.  I've moved on to fall.  I'm ready for some cool crisp days.  Bring on those 71 degree late fall and winter days--I've got my scarves and Uggs all ready.  

Monday, October 27, 2008

Twilight Zone, Anyone?

I was talking to my mom today and she mentioned that she had been at her health club last week and was reading an article in an Oprah magazine that she found on a coffee table there.  She told me that she hadn't finished the article and was going to take the magazine home, finish the article, and return the magazine to the health club.  But she forgot to take it home.  So today she was relieved to find the magazine still there.  Imagine her surprise when she picked it up, looked at the address label, and found that it was addressed to me!!!!  (Insert Twilight Zone music here).
Yes, very spooky.  I haven't been in Chicago since the middle of August--but I was there most of the summer, and I had my mail forwarded there using a forwarding service provided by the Post Office--gotta have my mags! And my bills. :(  My mom said she must have brought some of my magazines down there and given them to the ladies who work at the health club and somehow this one found its way back to her!!  
And to think she didn't rip off the address label before she brought the magazine down there--shocking.  After all, who do you think taught me to do that?  

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Scariest Halloween Costume Ever!!!!

I could use a new wardrobe.
I would like to fly my kids all over the country with me and not pay for it.
I'm not exactly sure what the Vice President's job is.
I can talk a lot and not say anything when I want to.
I am good at name-calling.
I can see the moon from my house.
I can do that Midwestern "dontcha know you betcha" stuff too.
I think I'll run for Vice President.
I forgot.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dear, you REALLY suck!!!!

Two friends and I ordered a functional and oh-so-fashionable leather cross-body bag from a Canadian company called Roots as a birthday present for another friend.  I went to the Roots store to buy the bag first, but they had none in stock, so I went home and ordered it online.  I ordered it on September 5th, a Friday, in the evening.  I paid for standard shipping, as I believed a week and a half was enough time to get it to her before her birthday celebration.  Imagine my surprise when I got a call--I think it was on the following Monday--from a Roots employee--let's just call her Wanda--asking me to confirm the same information I had entered online three days prior.  My name.  My address.  The recipient's name and address, etc.  All the information they already had.  And had had for THREE days.   I thought that was the whole point of online ordering--that I'd never have to speak to a human being at the company. Then Wanda told me that she was now able to "release" my order.  "So it will ship out today?"  I asked.  She told me it would and that delivery time was estimated at 3-5 days.  I reminded her that this was a gift, and to make sure that there was no price or receipt in the box.  She assured me that this would be taken care of.  15 minutes later, after changing my mind about the shipping method, I called back.  "I'd like to change this to expedited shipping," I explained.  I was told it was too late--once the order had been released, the shipping method could not be changed.  So regular shipping it was.  I received an order confirmation by email and waited to receive a shipping confirmation as the email said I would.  I waited.  And waited.

And waited.  Then one of my friends who was going in on the gift started calling me.  Daily.  "She still hasn't received it."  "When did they say it was going to be delivered?" "Call them and find out."  On Thursday, the 18th, my friend left me about a 4 minute voicemail--our mutual friend--the one who was to receive the gift--had received a backpack--a nylon backpack with the Canadian flag on it.   A clearance, final sale, marked-down-to-$39.95 nylon backpack with the Canadian flag on it.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  But it certainly wasn't the chocolate brown leather cross-body bag that three of us had sent her.  And it was received almost 2 full weeks after I had ordered online.  Happy Birthday, Pammie!  On Thursday, the 18th, I called the Roots Customer Service number, which I would advise them to rename the Roots Customer Complaint number, because there isn't a lot of service going on there.  My friend got on the phone with me.  We eventually spoke to Jackie, some sort of supervisor, who told us that standard shipping to the US from Canada was 15 days.  I told her that not only did the website not indicate that--if it had I never would have chosen standard shipping--but that Wanda had told me delivery time was 3-5 days.  "Don't worry," said our new friend Jackie--"we want to get this resolved.  Don't worry about your friend shipping back the backpack--she can keep it and do whatever she wants with it.  We just need to get the correct order to your friend.  I will check into this and make sure we have the cross-body bag and I will call you back tomorrow to tell you what is going on. "  Tomorrow, which was last Friday, came and went.  No call.  I called Jackie on Monday--"You never called me back on Friday and you told me you would," I said.  "No," she countered, "I told you someone would call you back on Friday."  "OK," I paused, "well no one did."  "I apologize for that," Jackie said,  "I sent an email and am waiting for a response."  "Can't you just pick up the phone and actually speak to someone at your company?" I asked.  "No," she replied, "we do everything by email.  I understand your frustration."  I don't think you do, Jack.  Between that conversation and now, I have spoken to Audrey, Robert, and Jackie, who I think is now avoiding my calls.  They all understand my frustration.  They all apologize for the problem.  But somehow, the folks at can't seem to get this problem resolved.  And they've already charged my credit card for the order they can't manage to fulfill.  After I blasted Jackie on Tuesday for not calling me back yet AGAIN when she said she would--for me having to call three times that day to get in touch with her--so she could tell me she still knew nothing --(Guess what, Jackie--I already figured that out), she called me twice yesterday to tell me that......she still had no response from whomever she was emailing at the same company.  So I very politely told her that because fixing this problem seemed to be beyond her, to please have her supervisor call me back the next day.  So, Susie, wherever you are, I'm here, I'm waiting for your call, and I know that you (and all your Roots pals)  are SO sorry for this mess and that you understand my frustration.  Thanks.   That makes me feel MUCH better.  Not.  

The most humorous part of all this is that everyone I speak to at Roots ends every call with "Is there anything else I can help you with?  Thank you for calling"  Yes, you can help me--just get the bag I ordered to my friend.  That would be great.

This isn't over.  It's getting personal now.  Stay tuned.

LATER THIS SAME DAY:   Taking no chances, I called Roots and asked for Susie around 11 AM.  "Hi, Susie, did Jackie tell you about my situation?"  Surprisingly, Jackie hadn't.  So I told Susie everything that had happened, or, maybe, that hadn't happened.  She assured me that she was going to read through my "case notes" and get some information and call me back.  4 hours later, I decided to check back with Susie and guess what?  Susie had gone home for the day.  And hadn't called me back.  I left her a voice message that said, among other things, that I was really very surprised that she hadn't called me back.  Actually, between you and me--I'm not that surprised at all, given Roots' customer service up to this point, or rather--lack of it.  Anyway, I need to get a good night's sleep so I can get ready to battle it out tomorrow.  Details to follow as they occur.  

NEXT DAY:  Damn!  My cell phone's ringer was off and I missed Susie's call.  She left me a voice mail that said that the item was being shipped out today and she would call me later to tell me when to expect delivery.  And guess what?  Hours later I called Susie, since I hadn't heard anything from her--no surprise--and guess where she was?  Yep--Susie was gone for the day.  I left yet another message for her on her voice mail.  I think I might apply for a job at Roots--it sounds great--the hours are great, you get to go home early enough to catch all the TV season premieres, and you seem to have plenty of free time AT work since you don't seem to do any actual work.  I wonder what the vacation policy is.  

TUESDAY, SEPT. 30:  The bag finally arrived.  My friend loves it.  That's what's important, anyway.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dear American, You Suck

American Airlines' response to my complaint letter.

Dear Mrs. Minivan:

You trusted us with your valuable time on August 4 and you were understandably disappointed when we didn't get you to Chicago on time. There's clearly nothing more frustrating for everyone -- customers and employees alike -- than having to endure the difficulties associated with air travel when bad weather impacts our flights. From the details you provided, it certainly sounds as if the circumstances surrounding your flight were made even more frustrating by the lack of assistance you received.

When bad weather happens, in the interest of safety, we don't have too many options to get you to where you are going as planned. What we can do, however, is display a friendly attitude to help make the situation a little less trying and I'm sorry we didn't do so on this occasion. At the same time, we are glad that you took the time to share the details of your experience. Your comments enable us to see things from our customers' perspective and help us to improve.

Regrettably, prohibitive cost issues prevent us from stocking additional food and beverages aboard for "just in case" delays. In addition, since our catering schedules are carefully planned well in advance, our caterer can't accommodate unanticipated, last minute food and beverage requests for an aircraft full of customers. We hope you understand.

Bad weather is not something we can overcome and the direct impact on our flight schedules is unavoidable. Accordingly, it is not our policy to reimburse our customers' out-of-pocket expenses, make up for lost time, or offer compensation (like additional mileage) when we don't operate our flights as planned. I am sorry. Nevertheless, you have my assurance that we will continue to focus on the on time departure of our flights and our customer service standards.

Mrs. Minivan, we are eager for another chance to serve you -- we will do our very best to get you to your destination as scheduled and provide you with the kind of service you deserve.


Customer Relations
American Airlines

Was that a response or a therapy session?  Because I sure don't feel any better.

This is what I'd like to say back to them:

Dear American,

Thanks for the carefully personalized form letter.  You certainly read the employee manual on how to deal with frustrated customers.  I appreciate all of your understanding and caring.  I am glad that my experience has enabled you to see things from your customers' perspective and that my letter will help you to improve.  And thank you for reminding me that bad weather is something you can't overcome.  If you look back at my original letter I believe I mentioned that everyone knows that "weather happens."  Oh, and when the "just in case" delays become S.O.P.(that's standard operating procedure, FYI, and we all know it IS), it might be nice to have a few extra pretzel packets on board.

Anyway, keep working on your customer service and getting your customers there on time.  From what I can see, you have a lot of opportunities for improvement.  


Mrs. Minivan

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oh, crap!!

The first thing I'm going to do when I become Vice-President is to go after the dog-owners who don't pick up after their dogs.  This morning I went walking and on my 1 hour walk in this well-known and affluent community I saw no less than 10 fly-covered piles of you-know-what on the sidewalks.  Totally disgusting.  Is it too much to ask dog-owners to clean up their mess?  I just don't understand people but I think the punishment for anyone who is caught on a crap-and-run should be several hours of community service cleaning up doggy do on the streets of their community.  Just my opinion.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A BIG Announcement!!!!!

I wanted to let you all be the first to hear the big news.  After much thought and careful consideration, I have decided to run for political office.  At first I thought I'd just run on the local level but after reviewing my qualifications I have decided to go national.  Yep, that's right.  I am officially throwing my hat in as a Vice-Presidential nominee.  I'm not sure of all the logistics and rules--don't know if I can run as a write-in candidate, but I'm going to give it my best shot.  If it doesn't work this year, I'll be back in 2012. 

Let's just take a minute and let this sink in before I go over my qualifications for you.  OK, here we go.  I realized this morning, as I got ready to go to a PTA meeting, that I would be a great Vice-President.  I've always been very involved with the PTAs of my sons' schools--I have many years of experience working in a group, often with very difficult people.  Have you ever dealt with a mother who's been told she can't park in the pick-up line at 3:15 and run into school for "just a minute?"  Or one who is trying to save the whole front row of seats at the school play?  I have.  It's not pretty.  So Afghanistan and Iraq should be a cinch to deal with.  

It's no easier on the home front.    Have you ever tried to wake up a sleepy 6-foot-tall 9th grader who doesn't want to get up?  Or remind several male people to put the seat down?  Or tell your husband where the jelly is or where the paper towels are for the 5000th time?  I do all this--and so much more--every day!  So as far as domestic policy is concerned--I truly believe I am ready.

I am a great multi-tasker.  Even as I am typing this I am on a phone call and checking out the news headlines on Yahoo.  Yet I am giving each of these tasks the careful thought and consideration it deserves.  

I was just suckered into--I mean--I was just made recording secretary of the high school's PTA.  That's a BIG job requiring careful listening and good penmanship.  Not to mention computer skills.  And organizational skills.  I went to the meeting as an ordinary mom and hit the ground running as the recording secretary.    I also campaigned for another spot within the PTA.  I had to make a campaign speech off the top of my head and I can basically sum it up like this, "It's time for a change!"

And so I say to you, my dear readers and friends:  We need a change right now.  It's time for a change.  Now more than ever before.   I'm all for a woman VP or President--but it has to be the right woman.  Especially when she is going to be a heartbeat away from a 70-something President with some not-so-insignificant prior health issues.  I think you know who I'm talking about.  We need the right woman.  Not one picked because she has a great pair of glasses or whatever--but one picked after careful vetting and consideration.  Mine are nice though.  (I'm talking about the glasses.  Not the whatevers.) Yes, we need the right woman.  We need me.

Some differences between me and you-know-who:

1.  She went to 5 colleges in 6 years.  I went to just one.  For four years.  A good one.
2.  She got a passport last year and has been out of the country once, on an official tour of military installations in Kuwait and Germany.  A spokesperson's claim that she's also been to  Ireland was actually a refueling stop during the Kuwait/Germany trip.  I've been out of the country many times.  I know all the good places to shop.  If that's not a good start to our foreign policy I don't know what is.  
3.  I stand for freedom of speech, freedom of choice, and freedom to read whatever you want.
4.  I will work hard to protect the rights of women, children, the earth, and polar bears.
5.  I think sex education is a good thing.  Sometime when kids don't learn about stuff like that they actually get pregnant at age 17.  
6.  I do not have a baby.  Or a pregnant teen-ager.  Both of whom just might need a lot of face time with their mom in the near future.  
7.  I am a people person.  I play well with others. If my mother-in-law ran for political office, I would support her.  If only for the sake of harmony at the Thanksgiving table.   And I make a great brownie.  And fabulous short ribs.  What world leader wouldn't listen to our point of view over a short rib dinner followed by a plate of homemade brownies?  It's a win-win.

So.....domestic experience....check. Foreign experience.....check. Organizational skills....check. People skills.....check. Good listener....check. Multi-tasking skills.....check. I think I've hit all the major categories. Check. Check. Check.

So, for those reasons, and so many more, I urge you to vote for me on November 4th!!  My campaign starts immediately.  Donations and volunteers are needed and much appreciated. 
Change starts now!..........

This post was approved by Mrs. Minivan.  

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Rocker Boy

Last winter the boys received Guitar Hero as a present.  They immediately became obsessed with it and spent lots of time practicing the game.  Boy #2 soon started begging for guitar lessons.  He started taking guitar maybe in January or February, and after the second lesson or so, his teacher--a REAL professional guitar player who has played with many many bands told us that Boy #2 was really good at guitar--that he was doing things that people who've been playing six months can't do.  Of course, I believed him....I'm sure he doesn't say that to ALL the parents.  Or does he?  Boy #2 has been getting better and better and practices all the time.  I've already informed him there are to be no tattoos in his future.  Can you be a rocker and have a 9:00 bedtime?  I wonder.......    And to think we owe it all to Guitar Hero......  In this clip--my first effort after an iMovie workshop at the Apple Store today--I present.....Boy #2, future rocker.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

A Hug and A Quiche For You

Been busy today cooking, baking, dishwashing, etc.  Had friends over for brunch and made this delicious quiche.  Check it out.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Love the Sound of Helicopters in the Morning

When you're at home with the TV on in the background and you hear something that sounds like "if you surrender now blah blah blah....." you know that something might not be right.  Especially if you're watching the Food Network.  And even more especially if you hear a helicopter circling over your house.  I made sure all the doors were locked and called my friends at the police department.  The non-emergency number, of course.  "Is there something going on?" I asked.  "Yes, we're looking for some burglary suspects," I was told.  I decided to stay inside for a while.    I listened to the helicopter for about another half an hour.  Then there was silence.  I called my police pals again.  "Did we get the bad guys?" I asked.  "No," I was told.  "The helicopter is gone but now we're searching with dogs."  Good to know.  I have some laundry to do anyhow.  I'll be back with any updates.  

Monday, August 11, 2008

What I Did For Love

There are things a girl will do for her father that no one else could get her to do.  No one.  My dad had knee replacement surgery last week and is happy to be home and recovering.  Before he went into the hospital he left his wallet and other valuables at home for safekeeping.  My mom noticed that his credit card was not in his wallet.  The search began.  We looked in pants pockets, dresser drawers, on his desk, by the computer, all over.  No card.  "Call the credit card company," I suggested.  "Tell them what the last few charges were and if there are no others you'll know it has been misplaced and hasn't fallen into the wrong hands."  No extra charges.  The search continued.  No card.  This morning, which just happens to be garbage pick-up day at their house, my dad appeared to be resting when I checked on him.  His eyes popped open.  "I think I might have left my credit card in a Walgreen's bag," he said.  "Tell your kids I'll pay them $10 each to go through the garbage and look for it."  Since the little darlings were still sleeping, and you never know when the garbage collectors will decide to come early--I headed outside, my hands encased in protective plastic  bags.  Several moldy ears of corn and one almost-battle with a chipmunk later, let me just say that I looked through every bit of garbage generated by this house in the last week....and the card was not there.  I think the time has come to admit defeat and cancel the card.  That's the only way we'll find it anyway.  Happy Knee Rehab, Dad!!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Something Special in The Air

Dear American,

I was on your flight 2074 last night from LA to Chicago.  Actually, this flight was supposed to take off at 12:55 PM but was delayed til around 2 PM.  Not that I'm complaining--all your flights seem to be delayed these days.  If it's not weather it's mechanical.  Too bad we never seem to know about the delays til we get to the airport.  Oh, well.  Anyway.  The flight took off and should have landed around 8 PM.  The unsmiling flight attendants served us tiny little cups of soda and sold frighteningly large and unhealthy snack items.  We were told several times that because of weather we wouldn't be able to land in Chicago just yet.  The delays continued.  I put my headphones on around 8:30 or 9 and could barely hear the next announcement.  I took them off.  "Did he just say St. Louis?" I asked my seatmate.  "Yes," she said.  "It's a refueling stop."  I watched as a parade of people walked by to get to the bathroom or to request a drink from the flight attendants who were chatting each other up in the back.  I heard one woman ask for coffee.  The screaming babies made it hard to hear but, "No, we have no more water," said the flight attendant.  

We finally landed in Chicago around 11.  And then we sat on the runway in the plane for an hour watching sheets of rain hit the ground and lightning dance in the sky.  Several times the pilot announced that the "ramp" was closed and we were just gonna sit.  I asked one of the flight attendants what that meant.  "We lost a ground crew guy to lightning last year.  It's not safe for them to be out there right now."  Oh, OK, I understand that.  Why couldn't the pilot just speak English?  Oh, and the pilot kept thanking us for "our patience."  Ha ha.  Is it really "patience" when you have no choice?  I might have used another word, but that's just me.

Weather happens, American.  We all understand that.  I don't blame you for this big thunderstorm at all.  But don't you think someone who works on that plane should have had the brains and sensitivity to pull the beverage cart out a second time?  In 9 hours?  It's just common courtesy.  Just good manners.  And maybe you could have some teeny little pretzel packets available just in case a flight is.....let's say.....more than double its original flying time?  I don't know....I'm just asking.  And I guess the chance of getting the extra miles to St. Louis is out of the question.

9 hours on your plane, screaming babies, circling, delays, a refueling stop in St. Louis, unsmiling flight attendants, one round of the beverage cart.  What a night.  I could almost have gotten to London in that amount of time.  Next time I'm driving.



Sunday, August 03, 2008

The World May Be Ending

My dad is an awesome guy. He is fun, interesting, and interested in everything--cooking, sports, cards, golf, reading, theater, and so much more. He loves surfing on his circa 1990 computer, which until this weekend, has been sort of a joke. "Dad--GET a new computer--what is the problem? Mom has a brand-new Mac--you NEED a new computer. This is ridiculous!" He usually had no answer other than a sigh and a distracted "Yes, ok"--which we both knew meant, "Go away and leave me alone." This is a man who has a conflicted relationship with technology. He has a brand-new car with all the most up-to-the-minute bells and whistles. He has, and knows how to use, at least 5 remotes which control his TV and various recorders and devices. He usually has his cell phone with him and always answers it when he does.  Yet I sent him a text message several months ago, and I was the one who retrieved it for him TWO MONTHS later!! And then there is this boxy, white computer which he clings to. So I was very pleased to hear that one of my brothers was hooking up my mom's former Mac for him. "You're gonna love it Dad!" I told him. And then my inbox chimed. An email from my dad entitled: "I am now on iChat." "My name is xxxxxxxx. Please feel free to IM me at any moment. Pop" What is going on here? Who is this man and why is he sending me emails? So I IMed him. And he actually answered! And here's the crazy thing. My dad was iChatting. Not only that, he was using abbreviations like "u" instead of "you" and when I told him "gotta fly--bye" he responded "bibi." We've created a monster.  My almost 80-year old dad is IMing and using IM lingo correctly.  Next he'll be texting me from the golf course.  Fill up some water bottles and head for the basement.  Clearly, the world is ending soon.   

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I Feel The Earth Move......

Where I come from if the whole house starts shaking you look outside to see how windy it is. You usually see the trees and bushes being blown by the strong wind. Not here. Today when the whole house started shaking and I heard dishes clattering and trembling in the china cabinet I looked outside to check out the wind. Nothing. Oh....I get it.....THIS is what an earthquake feels like. It was all over in seconds. 5.8, they said. Epicenter east of L.A. Now the local news is filled with people telling where they were and what they felt. The usual after-storm stories. One friend of mine in Chicago--a fellow news junkie like me--called me minutes after the quake to check on me. Thank you Trixie!!! I called Mr. Minivan at work and told him..."time to move." "Stop," he told me. He thinks I'm kidding. That's the funny part. Why would I want to live somewhere where, if the earthquakes don't get you, the fires and mudslides will? It's been a couple of years. We gave it a shot. We did the Disneyland thing, we've done the celebrity-spotting thing, now we've done the earthquake thing. Maybe this is a sign. Maybe it's time to get out. While we still have all of our dishes and mirrors.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Happiest Place on Earth

It's been a tough year. A few months ago I realized something that no one should ever have to face. I never really had a first birthday. My brother stole it. Let me explain. I was born January 1. That same year my brother was born December 30. So do you really think anyone was celebrating my birthday just two days later? I don't think so either. I was probably lucky if someone remembered to change my diaper at that point. I'm sure all the attention was on the new little squalling bundle of joy. That whole thing was tough enough to come to terms with but I've worked through it and I was on my way to a full recovery. Until tonight. I was at a friend's house for dinner and had brought my dad along. My mom is out of town and my dad's Poker After Dark wasn't on til later so he had a free night. We were sitting around the dinner table and I mentioned that I had never been to any Disney park til several years ago when my dad let the cat out of the bag. "No that's not true--we went to Disneyworld and maybe to Epcot too." "No, Dad, I've never been to Disneyworld or Epcot and I've never been to Florida with you." "Yes, we went," he confessed. I mean--he went on, "I remember because I had to go on the Hammer and Thunder Mountain with the boys." "Wait a minute," said one of the guys at the table, "that must have been when you were at college because that was around the time Epcot opened." Suddenly it was all clear. They packed me off to college with my hot pot and a few quarters for the pay phone and immediately headed south. And the fact that it was apparently a family conspiracy of silence was just the icing on the cake of their betrayal. I've quizzed my brothers and they claim I knew at the time and just don't remember. Of course that's what they'd say. I've seen 24 and Total Recall. I know what's going on. What's next? Will I find out that I was found on my parents' doorstep? That I have an evil twin? I don't know how much more of this I can take.
UPDATE: My mother claims that they were very disappointed that I didn't go with them as I wanted to spend Spring Break with my friends in Miami. It's all very suspicious to me. I DID go to Miami with my friends during one Spring Break in college but I just don't remember the rest of my family going to Disney. Could my own mother possibly be in on the conspiracy? Is my whole family trying to alter history or my memory? The plot thickens.........

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Youth is Wasted on The Young

I am so depressed. I am minutes away from Botox or bangs. Today I dropped by my aunt's house and she showed me a DVD she had just picked up from the photoshop. She had had some VHS movies transferred to DVD---- note to self-- do the same--and we sat down and watched for a few minutes. First her kids popped up--adorable toddlers and children--now 27 and 30--and the best part was that although there were a few birthday parties and other "events", the most interesting part of the video (DVD???) was seeing the ordinary, everyday things her kids were doing back then. Riding the Big Wheel, learning to roller skate, the 3 year old pushing the baby in his swing, etc. Note to self--take more videos of the kids--FAST!! Then we saw a few family parties-my brothers and I sticking our tongues out every time we saw the camera. Grandparents as we knew them as kids--not how we remember them when they died--and other older relatives who at the time of the filming were younger than I am now. And then back to some everyday moments. I saw myself at about age 20 or so coming into my aunt's house and playing with her kids. And guess what--I was so cute--yes, I was--beautiful hair, beautiful smile, a few less pounds--OK, OK--a few few less pounds, no wrinkles, etc. But I know at the time I didn't think I was as cute as I was. I thought--"if I could only lose 7 pounds....", "if only my hair were different.....", "if only......" And now I look back at this cute girl on the DVD and I think--"Wow--you wasted some of that pretty because you didn't realize you had it." Why can't we be happy with ourselves as we are? If in 10 years I am going to look back at a photo of myself today and think--"Wow--what a babe!"--why can't I do that today when I look in the mirror?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Phone Call From Camp and A Letter From Camp

When your kids are at camp, the LAST phone number you want to see on your phone is the camp's number. Camps don't call to say "hi" or to tell you about a great sale they ran into at the mall. They don't call to ask you to meet them for lunch or to take a walk. No, calls from camp are usually bad news. The last time I got a call from camp it was Boy #1's first summer there and it was the day before Visiting Weekend. He was going for 4 weeks and we were going up for Visiting Weekend and then bringing him home. I was coming back from a girls' trip with some of my peeps and my cell phone rang. I saw the caller ID and my heart started to pound. "Hi, it's Jane the camp director," she said, "Everything's fine.......but.....Boy #1 fell and we think he broke his wrist." Um, so then everything's NOT fine is it? Boy #1 HAD broken his wrist. Luckily, or unluckily, he had broken the same wrist a year or two before, so I was somewhat familiar with broken bone protocol.

Anyway, today, strangely enough--the day before Visiting Weekend-- my cell phone rang, and the camp's name popped up on the screen. Uh-oh. Pounding heart. A man's voice--one I barely recognized--said, "Hi Mom." OK, at least I know he's alive. "Hi, Boy #1," I said. "Nothing's wrong, Mom, I'm OK. Everything's fine." Clearly, he had been coached. "Are you sure?" I asked. "Well, maybe something's a little wrong," he said. "What happened?" I asked. "I did something stupid and let one of my cabinmates cut my hair and one of my sideburns is all cut off," he said, "so I want to know if they can take me into town and get a haircut or a buzz cut." I don't think I have ever been so relieved. If he had asked me if he could shave his head at that moment I would probably have said yes. "Sure," I said, "but don't get a buzz cut unless you really want one--remember--you have 4 weeks of camp left and it will have grown back by then and there will be something to work with. You can just have them even it out. And if you want to wait til tomorrow we can go and get your hair cut then." "No, I want to go today," he said. "And, Boy #1," I added. "Yes, Mom?" he asked. "Don't let anyone near your head with scissors, razors, or shavers, OK?"

Letter from Boy #2 which arrived today:

Dear Mom, Camp is awesome! We have started the Spectacular (competition). I am a Dayton Flyer (team). Boy #1 got a haircut and it looks bad. I can't wait to see you! Love, Boy #2

Monday, July 07, 2008

Letters From Camp

Boys #1 and 2 are in the middle of Wisconsin at camp. They are having a great time. So far, two and a half weeks since they arrived, I have received 4 letters from Boy #2 and one from Boy #1. I have been writing them every 2 days or so, but apparently that isn't enough. Writing and sending packages--mostly Archie comics--is becoming a full-time job. What about MY summer vacation??

1st letter from Boy #2

Dear Mom, Camp is great. It rains everyday here. Write me more letters. I am the only one who doesn't get letters. I love you. Love, Boy #2

2nd letter from Boy #2

Dear Mom, We had a camping trip. It was really fun. We slept in tents and we had s'mores. We built a fire and told scary stories. I didn't get scared. I just wanted to tell you. Love, Boy #2

3rd letter from Boy #2

Dear Mom, Sorry for sending this letter. It is letter writing day and I have nothing to say. I love you. Love, Boy #2

4th letter from Boy #2

Dear Mom. I am appaled (appalled) ! Not just appaled, scared (scarred) for life!! Today Boy #1 got a package of Archies and letters. AND No, he has NOT GOTTEN the package from Grandma yet. Why don't I get packages from Grandma. I am very angry. I took biking club and have excursions today. I am going bowling.

A very Angry, scared for life, not accepted,

Boy #2

So of course, after receiving letter #4 from Boy #2, I immediately ran to the bookstore and mailed him out some Archies and a Simpsons comic book. And how's your summer going?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

My Aching Back

For the past few weeks, I've been miserable. And for the last week I've been REALLY miserable. In pain, crying, depressed, Lifetime TV-movie watching miserable. I have had acupuncture, x-rays, chiropractic stuff, ice packs, Advil, Aleve, and chocolate. Somehow, I felt much better when I just had lower back pain than when it became "a possible herniated disc." My galpal from Chicago had to talk me down. "It's like the deviated septum of backs," she told me. I've received referrals for back specialists, orthopedic doctors, sports medicine doctors, etc. I've scared the crap out of myself by searching the Internet. A friend told me to ask a fellow baseball mom if she knew of anyone who could help me and she told me she had recently had the same problem with even worse symptoms. She said that she had never even been to a chiropractor before and that she had always been very "Western medicine centric." She's not originally from California, that is. She told me that she had been given the name of this osteopath by someone she knew and trusted and that he solved her problem in 4 sessions. And, that her worst symptoms had been resolved after one session. Well, as you may know, I am from the midwest and, thus, am a bit cynical, but I was desperate. I was intrigued. I was curious. I was open-minded. I could be a believer. Even though she couldn't really tell me what he actually DID to her--with her?--I figured it was worth a shot. So I called Dr. Osteopath and went to see him yesterday. He spent an hour and a half with me--said he didn't need to see x-rays--that the body just "spoke" to him. "You're like the Body Whisperer," I said. The funny thing is that I was on my back on his table for an hour and a half--fully clothed, Mom!!--and I'm STILL not sure what he did--but all I know is that my back and leg pain are pretty much gone. Yep, the leg that had ached for days, and all the way on the drive over to his office--that same leg didn't hurt from the moment I got off of his table. I can get up out of bed with no pain. I'm so much better than I was just a few days ago I can't really believe it. Not 100%--but much better. I tried to get him to say that I shouldn't cook or do laundry for a few weeks, but he just smiled. Thank you thank you baseball mom/my NBF!! Thank you thank you Dr. O! I'm going back to see him next week. In the meantime, my back, my chakra, and my chi are enjoying a bit of peace.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Ancient Chinese Secret

Twice during the last 6 months I have had a couple of days of horrible back pain. Horrible, terrible, hurts to get out of bed back pain. I've used ice, heat, Aleve, and both times, after a couple of days, my back felt better and I was pretty much back to normal.
This week it came back. Strange. Wednesday I was fine and went for a long, long walk, and Thursday it was painful just getting out of bed. Desperate, I decided to listen to several people who recommended acupuncture. I tried acupuncture once, about 10 years ago, when I had terrible shoulder pain. I blamed it at the time on chubby little baby Boy #2 combined with a heavy tote bag. I didn't love it, I have to admit. Something about needles being jammed into me gave me the creeps. And then I had to be still for a while WITH the needles jammed into me. Hard for me to do. Anyway, today I went to the local acupuncturist. Immediately after making the appointment my back felt better. I guess it's kind of like how right after you call for a haircut you love how your hair looks. She asked me a few questions, and then started with the needles. A bunch in my back, one in my hand, and one on the top of my head, in my hair. Then she rubbed a little oil on my back and placed a heat lamp over my back and told me to relax and meditate for half an hour. As I tried to relax, in this sweltering room, with needles all over me and the oil heating up on my back I realized I really don't like needles jammed into me. Half an hour later, she returned to remove the needles. She gave me some herbal oil to use during the day and some patches to use at night for any pain. Hope it works. She told me I should come back next week. Of course I should. As I wrote the check for $175 I realized what real pain was. My back feels better already.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Potty Talk

Did you ever have something happen to you that was so embarrassing that you couldn't help but laugh as it was happening to you? Yesterday Boy #2 had a baseball game at a local park. I was sitting at the top of the bleachers, with my two best friends--my tote bag and my cup of Diet Cherry Coke. My tote bag was filled with all sorts of stuff--magazines, sunscreen, a book,my camera, my phone, my datebook, the school directory, my purse, some gum, well, you get the idea. I'm the kind of person people love to make fun of but they love having me around when they need some dental floss, a tweezer, or someone's phone number. I also have this plastic Big Gulp cup from a long-ago visit to 7-11 that I use for my 4:00 pick-me-up can of Diet Cherry Coke. Some people have their blankies, some have their Starbucks, and I have my grungy old 7-11 cup. And my tote bag. And a few other things. Anyway, I was at the game and I had finished about half of my DCC, my toes in their flip-flops were getting a little cold, and to be honest, I really had to pee. So I gathered my cup and my bag and carefully manuevered down from the top of the bleachers. I thought I would make a pitstop in the bathroom and then go see if I had another pair of shoes in my car or at least a blanket. I thought maybe I would sit in my car for a few minutes and then go back to the game.

I went into the bathroom and entered the stall. I was annoyed to see that there was no hook anywhere in the stall. I've noticed this lately. It seems to be a disturbing trend. And you don't want to put your purse on the it becomes a balancing act. I perched my Big Gulp cup on the giant round toilet paper dispenser and adjusted my tote bag on my shoulder. I grabbed a seat protector and put it on the seat. As I started to sit down, I turned my head and noticed that the seat cover had fallen into the toilet. I didn't want to have to readjust my tote bag and get another one, so I decided to.....squat. Yes, my dear readers, squat. This is actually something I am usually pretty good at, but I don't have a lot of experience WITH a tote bag on my shoulder. Let me tell you, it's not easy. I'm going to say right now that the tote bag surely affected my balance because.....I can barely get the words out.....stay with me here....I'm trying to figure out how to say this delicately. OK, there's no ladylike way to say it. I peed all over my underwear and the back of my jeans. Yes, I did. And don't act like this has never happened to you. We all know it has. So as it's happening I can't do anything, because to salvage the situation, and my jeans, just a bit, I'd have to toss my tote bag on the floor and I don't want to do that. I can at least wash the jeans. I stand up and in the process knock my cherished 7-11 cup on the floor and spill Diet Coke everywhere. And here's the clincher. The giant toilet paper dispenser...? Empty. Of course it was. Icing on the cake. Luckily, seat covers have multiple uses.

I exited the scene of the crime, and raced to my car, hoping I wouldn't run into anyone I knew. I had my cover story ready--about how I had spilled a bottle of water all over myself and was running home to change clothes. Luckily the coast was clear and I hurried home, changed clothes, and came back to watch Boy #2's team win their game.

There are so many lessons to be learned from this story I don't even know where to begin...

1. Always carry an extra pair of underwear with you.
2. And some toilet paper.
3. And maybe an extra pair of jeans.
4. Don't drink Diet Cherry Coke.
5. Don't bring your cup with you to the bathroom.
6. Leave your tote bag in the car.
7. Thank God for leather car seats.
8. Any more? Your thoughts?

Monday, March 24, 2008

More Lunatic Parents

Boy #2 was invited to a sleepover birthday party over the weekend. (I made the mistake of saying it was a slumber party and was quickly corrected.) The party was to start at 2 PM with the 6 guests meeting at the birthday boy's apartment. Then they were going to go to a movie, then back to the apartment for dinner and birthday festivities. We were asked to bring a sleeping bag if we had one. It seemed clear to me that the boys were going to actually sleep. After all, it was a SLEEPover. But I never counted on these lunatic parents. When Mr. Minivan got back at 11 the next morning with a zombie-like Boy #2 and told me the boys hadn't slept all night I couldn't believe my ears. The kids apparently took a vote and decided to stay up all night. And these moronic parents let them. More idiots. Or is it moronic idiots? No, that's redundant. So I cancelled my plans for the day and Boy # 2 dragged himself upstairs and slept for 5 hours til I woke him. I guess it could have been worse. The boys could have taken a vote and decided to jump out of the windows to see if they could fly.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Brrr....It's Cold Out Here!!!!

OK, it's January here and I've had it!!! The coldest it has gotten here during the day is about 55 degrees and I seriously think I could snap at any moment. People I know talk about how "freeeezing" it is. Let me explain to you what freezing is. Freezing is when you are so cold that you can't feel your legs. Or your hands. When it hurts to take a breath. Freezing is when the frigid air on your face is so painful it hurts. Hurts so much that when you come inside you wonder why you look sunburned. THAT is freezing. 55 is a beautiful spring day. Kite flying weather.... sweater weather.... long-sleeved tee-shirt under a sweatshirt weather. But here, now, the Uggs are out. In full force. Sometimes paired with a ski jacket and a miniskirt. Sometimes over leggings. Usually with jeans. Scarves, too, are plentiful. People here wear them inside, though, artfully draped over a shirt--lovely, a wool scarf as indoor wear....who would have thought? I see parkas, shearling coats, North Face jackets, occasionally...gloves or mittens. It's winter after all. In the interest of full disclosure I will tell you that a few weeks ago I went to pick up Boy #2 at a friend's house at about 6 PM. It was about 55 or 60 degrees out. I put on my Uggs, my North Face, and an artfully arranged scarf felt right. I was a bit panicked at that moment because the Midwesterner in me realized how insane that sounded. Yet, the emerging Californian in me felt quite comfortable. What a frightening moment. I still haven't totally crossed over, though. I find myself irritated at all the smiling faces in the 60 degree sunshine. "What the hell are they so happy about?" I think. Last week it rained ALL week and I was SO happy. Today at the grocery store I took the photo above. And nobody here thinks it's strange at all. After all, it is "freeeeezing" here. Stay strong, my fabulous Cali friends, spring is close at hand.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Could I Possibly Be a Freak Magnet??

There is something so comforting about the fact that, no matter where you live, you will eventually come into contact with the lunatics of the neighborhood. We all know them. They think they are better than all of us "regular" parents. They are the parents who don't let their kids watch TV, the ones who don't let their kids eat sugar, the ones who plan activities that exclude certain kids, the ones whose kids are so scheduled they don't have time for playdates, the ones who hold kids to adult standards and don't give second chances, the kind of parents who believe in tit for tat and pay back every real or imagined slight in kind. We've all met people like that. A mom here, a dad there. Just not necessarily all in a perfectly matched his and hers set. I myself had never met one person who had ALL those characteristics and more. Until today. I can't speak too freely. It might not be safe. Here's one universal truth, though. Remember this. Crazy people don't know they're crazy.