Thursday, January 29, 2009

How to get your waitresses' attention (and make her move REALLY fast)

I’m sure it’s happened to every parent: You screw up the courage to take your kid(s) to a restaurant. You somehow make it through the ordering and dicey waiting-for-the-food-to-arrive period. Your kids (sort of) eat what they’ve been served, and just when you’re feeling like you dodged a bullet, the wait staff disappears at the end of your meal.

The seconds tick by and your newly-recharged children seem to be gaining strength by the second. Any moment now, you expect one of them to screech loudly then jump out of his chair and run wildly through the restaurant.

You feel powerless. You look anxiously around, but your server is nowhere to be seen.

Finally, he or she usually shows up right about the time your beloved child spills an entire glass of water onto the floor, or rips open six packs of sugar at once sending a shower of sweetener flying across two tables (not that I’ve ever had *that* happen).

:::whistles and looks up at ceiling::

Well, today I discovered the surefire way to get out of a restaurant quickly.

It was lunchtime. I picked Loaf up from school and had an hour and a half before Peanut was released. Feeling adventurous (and being utterly starving) I decided to take her to a local diner.

Once inside, the waitress handed her a cup of crayons and she spent the first several minutes happily coloring while I perused the menu. I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and side salad, figuring we could split them between us.

While we waited for the food to show up, Loaf and I happily filled the back of her placemat with butterflies, flowers and letters.

The food came quickly and we dove in. Her grilled cheese had a healthy side of fries, so I squirted a small mound of ketchup on her plate. I started eating the salad.

Not three minutes passed when she leaned her head against my arm and whined, “my tummy feels funny.”

I stopped chewing and looked at her.

Oh no way. I thought. No freakin’ way. Not now.

Not really wanting to ask, but knowing I had to, I whispered to her, “Are you going to throw up?”

She shook her head “no” vigorously, but covered her mouth with her hand. I’ve seen this maneuver before – about 30 seconds before she spewed vomit all over me, the couch, and two-thirds of the living room floor.

Panic took over.

I spied our waitress at the far end of the counter, leaning lazily against the end of it and chatting with another server.

“Um Miss,” I called, raising my hand like a kid in elementary school.

She slowly walked toward us. And I mean S-L-O-W-L-Y. Like a friggen’ three-toed sloth probably would have beaten her there.

“Everything OK?” she asked, though given the bored expression on her face, it was clear she really could not care less whether things were OK or not.

“I need to take this all to go,” I said. “She just told me she’s not feeling well.” I motioned toward Loaf and then followed the waitresses’ eyes as she slowly took in the scene.

Unfinished food.

Small child with her hands clasped firmly over mouth. Eyes as big as saucers. A little green around the gills.

Then, it was like an alarm went off in her brain.

“OH!” she said in alarm.

She turned on her heel and was gone in a flash. She returned not five seconds later with the printed check, two takeout containers, a plastic bag and a man who I think was the manager. Her first order of business was to shove the plastic bag at Loaf’s face.

I didn’t get why she was handing it to her at first, but then it dawned on me.

Ahhhhh. Barf bag. Smart.

They both quickly began dumping our uneaten lunch unceremoniously into the containers. She slapped the check on the table and the manager asked, “Do you need help getting her coat on? Do you need help getting out to the car?”

He might as well have just come right out and asked, “Can you please get the fuck out of my restaurant RIGHT NOW.”

And I don’t blame him. A small child tossing her cookies in the middle of the lunch hour is not exactly a boon to business. In addition to the gross factor, it probably gets people thinking, “did the food here do that to her?”

But still. This was just plain funny. Not a minute ago this woman was moving like molasses dripping down an icicle and now she was apparently attempting to win “world’s fastest server award.”

I quickly paid and Loaf obediently walked out the door with her barf bag firmly held under her nose. The whole exit occurred in less than five minutes.

Now, the whole situation was nerve-wracking, and I’m eternally grateful that Loaf didn’t puke (not at the restaurant and not later either), but I came away with a newfound knowledge: you actually aren’t powerless in these situations. Just unleash the power of the possible puke and poof! You’ll be in the car and on the way home in minutes.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Target. Ooooo, Target.

As you may know, I just love, love, love Target. Even if shopping there with the short people is a somewhat exasperating experience at times.

If you like Target too, An Iowa Mom is giving away an awesome $50 gift card to Target this week.

Stop by and leave her a comment to enter!


Monday, January 26, 2009


Loaf is a big, open heart. Beating, beating, she is a constant barrage of “I love you’s” and hugs and kisses. She will grasp my face with both hands and place a loud, smacking kiss right on my lips. She will rush to me and grab hold, pulling me close and tight. She has a smile as wide as the Grand Canyon.

Throughout the day, I am blessed with Loaf’s outpouring of affection. She rushes to me announcing she has “something special, just for you, Mom,” then gives me a giant bear hug.

“Don’t lose it,” she orders, and showing my hand clenched around an imaginary ball that I tuck against my heart, I promise not to.

Peanut is more reserved and contemplative. She snuggles only on her own terms. When she decides she needs it, usually at the end of the day when she’s most tired, she’ll curl against me like a giant kitten – feet tucked under her, head pressed against my chest, hands gently splayed across each shoulder. She brushes my hair from my face and whispers her affections in my ear.

“Just for you, Mommy,” she says. “Don’t tell anyone else.”

She resettles and I look down to see a satisfied Mona Lisa smile on her flawless face and know she is comforted.

In the course of my busy day, they are just moments on the clock. Mere things that happen in between checking e-mail and folding laundry.

In reality, they are so much more. They are what matters most. They are treasures in a day that could otherwise border on monotony. They pass in a heartbeat, but will sustain for a lifetime – a child-to-mother life support system.

Someday, when they have left our home and the hugs and kisses only come a few times a year, when the “I love you’s” are mostly heard on the phone, I will think back on them. I’ll remember a secret sweet nothing whispered in my ear as I lift that imaginary ball once again to my heart.

“Still here,” I will say.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Haiku Friday: Cat nap

Haiku Friday

It is 6 a.m.
Hungry cat wants to eat now
Too tired to move

Cat stands on my head
Wake up, food lady! Wake up!
Leave me alone, please!

It is 2 p.m.
Cats are sound asleep in house
Life is just not fair

Molly Sleep

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Let us eat cake

Last night, as we sat in the kitchen eating dinner I casually reminded the girls that they did not have school today.

“Oh yes,” said Peanut. “It is somebody’s birthday.”

“That’s right,” I said, smiling at her. “Do you know whose?”

“Somebody’s king,” she said, rolling her eyes to the ceiling to think. “A king of something.”

“Close – Martin Luther King, Jr. We have a holiday to honor him. Do you know why?”

She shook her head.

I launched into a discussion of dark skin and light skin, and of laws that used to say people of different skin colors couldn’t drink from the same water fountain, or attend the same schools.

She listened raptly. “Tell me more about that,” she asked.

I explained how people — lead by Dr. King — fought against those laws. How Dr. King stood up and talked and got people to listen. How he led the country to slowly change.

She sat transfixed.

“What do you think of all that?”

“It’s not fair,” she said. “It’s not fair that people couldn’t do the same things. Why was that?”

Taking a deep breath I carefully explained how some people with light skin thought they were better than people with dark skin.

“That’s wrong,” she said breathlessly.

“It is. It’s so wrong. But things are changing. This week this country will have the very first president with dark skin.”

“Barack Obama!” she interjected excitedly.

“That’s right! And he made it to president because of the bravery of Martin Luther King. Only about 50 years ago, Barack Obama wouldn’t be able to eat in the same restaurant as us in some states, but on Tuesday he’ll be our president. What do you think about that?”

“That’s really cool.”

“It is.”

“Can we have a cake tomorrow for the birthday?”

“Maybe,” I said.

My children are growing up in a country that has elected a black president. They will never sit around wondering if it will happen. It has happened. They will never think, "not in my lifetime," as I once skeptically did.

Tomorrow we will watch the inauguration. I will probably cry tears of joy - heart swelling with pride as a long-overdue realization of Dr. King's dream finally occurs.

We did not have cake today, simply because I spent the day at the office and they the day sledding with their father and friends. But I think tomorrow we will.

I feel like celebrating.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The naked truth

I am not really very comfortable with public nudity. Mine or other people's.

In the locker room at the gym, I duck into one of the curtained changing areas to slip on my swimsuit and I wrap myself in a huge towel on the way to or from the shower. Other women are not so modest, and that's cool, but when confronted with other's nudity, I can't help but feel really uncomfortable. I look up at the ceiling or down at the floor or I study the really fascinating tile work on the walls and find myself wishing they would all respect my other people's hang ups and use that long wall of private changing areas, thankyouverymuch.

I have been swimming every Wednesday night for 19 weeks and every Wednesday night when I come out of the pool there is an elderly woman there going through some type of strange ritual involving the sauna, the shower and a lot of meandering about. She walks around the locker room slowly, sitting sometimes on the benches but mostly just kind of loitering. Every now and then, she'll duck into the shower or the sauna for a few minutes, but then she emerges again only to wander around with seemingly no real purpose but to make me twitchy.


Because she is naked as the day is long the entire time.

(Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

But, well, it's kind of - disturbing, at least to an uptight born-and-bred New Englander like myself. And odd. I really want to ask her what the hell she's doing. And why is she doing it nude? And can't she at least throw a towel down on that bench because really . . . ew!

In any event, I've sort of gotten used to her and accepted the fact that she's a bit . . . eccentric. And besides. I only have one more week of Wednesday night swim classes, so I can deal.

Except, I can't. Because she tonight she crossed over from simply strange to complete whack-a-doodle. (A naked whack-a-doodle at that.)

Let me explain: I was standing at the sinks drying my hair. No one else was in the locker room. She came out of the sauna and walked over to one of the other sinks where she proceeded to wash her armpits. Which . . . OK. Maybe she got sweaty in the sauna, but then again, there's a whole room of showers not 10 feet away.

But then, THEN she proceeded to pull one of those single-blade disposable razors out of . . . where? I have no idea. (She was nude, people, so I really don't want to spend too much time thinking about where that puppy was stowed). But in any event, she begins to SHAVE HER ARMPITS. Right there at the sink.

Which is when I went into major defense mode. I bent over and began drying my hair upside down. I did this because 1. I no longer had to look at her and 2. my hair dries faster this way and at this point all I want to do is get the freakin' hell out of there.

Then, she ups the ante AGAIN.

With no warning, she throws one leg up on the counter top (she's apparently quite limber for an old broad) and begins SHAVING HER LEG.

Now, I would like to remind you where my head is at this point. Down. Low. Which means that when her leg hit the counter top with a large thump, I involuntarily glanced in her general direction and out of the corner of my eye I saw WAY TOO MUCH OF THIS WOMAN. WAAAAAAYY TOO MUCH. Like as much as we all saw of Britney Spears when she forgot to wear underwear for a week straight.

(And yes, I am scarred for life and no, I will never be able to burn this sight from my brain.)

For a split second, I actually wondered if I was on some type of bizarre, adult candid camera show. I started looking around for the hidden camera and wondering if Ashton Kutcher or someone was going to pop out of a locker. But of course, that didn't happen and she went right on calmly shaving her leg while my brain - frozen like a deer in the headlights - attempted to process what it was seeing while at the same time desperately trying to forget what it just saw. ::shudders::

This was the straw that broke my proverbial back. I switched off the hairdryer and walked out of there before she could start shaving SOMETHING ELSE and me and my still-wet hair went swiftly into the frozen night. Which was infinitely better than hanging around for the finale to this woman's highly bizarre grooming ritual.

Next week, I think I'll use the girls' locker room. Just to be safe.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Can you hear me now?

Scene: Our house earlier today. Peanut is in the living room and Loaf is in the kitchen.

Loaf: Peanut! Can you hear me?

Peanut: No!

Loaf: Now? Now can you hear me?

Peanut: No, Loaf, I still can't hear you.

Loaf: How about now? Can you hear me?

Peanut: I said I can't hear you!

::silence for several seconds::

Loaf: Then stop answering me!


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Something borrowed

"Mommy, can I see your wedding dress?"

The question caught me by surprise. She never asked before.

Shrugging, I pulled the huge box that holds my wedding gown out from the bottom of Mark's closet. The box is crushed a bit at the top. I wondered if the dress inside was still in decent condition.

Carefully prying the lid off of it and gingerly removing the acid-free paper from the top, I turned the box toward her.

"Wow," she sighed, catching her breath. "It's beautiful."

She crouched down to get a closer look.

"You can't touch it," I told her.


"Well, you might have dirt or oils on your fingers that could stain it and someday maybe you or your sister will want to wear it for your own wedding, so I want to keep it in good shape."

She sat gazing at it for a few seconds.

"It has glitter," she remarked, referring to the beads on the bodice.

I studied the gown with her - remembering snippets of that wonderful day nearly 10 years ago and trying to wrap my head around the idea of either of my daughters someday being big enough to wear it, never mind old enough to marry.

What will they be like? I mused. I hope they are happy and free and loved and safe. I hope they are independent and strong and kind and wise and fulfilled.

She stood suddenly and hugged me hard around the neck. "I love you, Mommy. Thank you for showing that to me. Someday when I'm big I will wear it."

I don't know if either will ever want to wear it. It will be their choice. But I'm happy to save it for them. Just in case.

I carefully replaced the paper and the lid and returned the box to its spot in the closet where until yesterday it was nothing more but an old dress with some beautiful memories woven into its satin and lace. Now it is something more: Promises, hopes, wishes and dreams that I hold for my daughters - expectations made on borrowed time.

Topped off with a little glitter for good measure.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009


This is the time of year when people focus on what they’ve done, what they want to do, what they should be doing and what they must do next.

Ruminations on the past, resolutions for the future. Meanwhile, the present is nearly forgotten.

It is so easy to get caught up the would haves, could haves and should haves, along with the “need to nexts,” the “I’d be happier if only I coulds,” and the “I wishes,” that appreciation for the here and now can be lost.

It seems like focusing on the present is a bit passé. Perhaps a quaint pastime lost in today’s hustle and bustle. There are certainly a fair number of people eager to put 2008 behind them, and many more eagerly looking forward to 2009.

But taking a moment to appreciate life’s gifts as they occur is simple, and worth it, for the world offers up a bounty of things to be thankful for every day.

They are found in the smallest of moments, the briefest of glimpses, the faintest of sounds and the most subtle of touches.

There is your child’s hand wrapped around your index finger as you navigate a busy parking lot. Or her crawling into your lap for a snuggle in the middle of the day.

There’s your lover’s hand on the small of your back, and a soft kiss by candlelight.

There’s the sparkle of bubbles filling the tub, followed by the smell of freshly scrubbed skin and strands of hair heavily scented with shampoo.

There is the purr of a cat.

The tingle of cold air on your face.

Sunlight in your child’s hair.

Fireflies in summer. The explosion of color in autumn. Moonlight on snow. The first flowers of spring. And the knowledge that as each season passes, the next brings completely routine, but wonderful, joys.

There is the smell of a meal cooking in your kitchen.

There is sun. And snow. And rain. And wind.

There is music and dance. And art – whatever that means to you.

Life is enjoyed in mushy, noisy kisses from three-year-olds and small arms wrapped tightly – so tightly - around your neck.

It is realized in meals shared with friends, or sometimes a peaceful meal alone. It is chocolate, and cheese, and fruit and wine.

Appreciation is found in the quiet moments (the rhythmic breathing next to you in bed) and the boisterous ones (a room full of laughing family the day after Christmas).

It is watching children play boisterously on the playground, and sitting by their bedside as they sleep in complete peace.

It is a heart beating. Lungs expanding and contracting. Eyes focusing. Ears pulling it all in. The brain piecing it all together.

It is the here. It is the now.

It is life and love and laughter.

It is real. So take it in. Grab it. Experience it.

Make that your resolution.

It’s the easiest one to keep.

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