Friday, August 19, 2016

Fair Fair, Everything Will be Alright

I've been sick for about a week and a half now. So far, my family members haven't caught whatever I have but if they do, I will be sure to extend to them every bit as much helpfulness as they've shared with me during my illness. It never fails to amaze me how someone could watch me horking up a lung and drowning in my own mucus and still say, "Sooooo, what's for dinner?" 

Having the plague didn't keep me from going to the state fair and then the county fair, though. No sirree! Summer's not over yet!  We went to the state fair last Saturday.  We seem to do the same stuff at the fair every year, but it's still fun. I'm not sure if my husband truly enjoys it though. Crowds make him really uncomfortable. I mean, of course the state fair is crowded because, um, the whole state is invited. Maybe just the kid and I should go next year.

After so many years of attending, we have the parking situation down to a science. If we get there early, we can park in a nearby neighborhood at no charge. We grabbed a spot on the street and started walking in the direction of the fairgrounds. A woman was selling parking spaces in the alley behind her house.  "I hope you brought rain jackets," she said to us. She pointed at some clouds off in the distance. "We're gonna get nailed."  What was her point, exactly?  Did she want us to turn around and drive two hours back home? Was she annoyed that we'd parked for free instead of paying to park on her property?

"Okay, thank you," I responded, and gave her a weak smile. I'd already checked the weather forecast and the chance of rain was exceedingly low.

She turned to the man standing next to her, "Thank you?" Why would she say that?"

We kept walking. I said it to be polite because I don't like small talk and just wanted it to end.

We entered the fairgrounds and worked out a vague game plan as far as where to head first.  I did some shopping at the big vendor expo and then worked on finding some food. Eating at the state fair is always a challenge. I ended up getting some falafel (and was pretty darned happy to get my hands on that when you consider the other choices at the fair). We also let the kid ride some rides. I rode one of them with her, but rides at the state fair are pricey so we didn't want to get too crazy.

By mid-afternoon, it was hot and we decided we'd reached Maximum Fair. As we walked back to our car, I was really tempted to say something to the "we're gonna get nailed" lady, who was still trying to get hapless fair-goers to park in her yard. You know, something like "I can't help but notice that it never rained," but decided against it.

We went to our hotel and hung out for a while. At first I thought the hotel had made a mistake and gave us a room with only one bed.  Then I noticed that the room was more like a two-bedroom dealio. There was a separate kids' room with bunk beds - and, most importantly, its own TV. The kid was thrilled and so were we.  We didn't have to suffer through tween shows!

The next morning, we went to a local restaurant that has vegan stuff on the menu. I had pancakes that made all of my dreams come true. It's the little things, you know.

So, that was our first fair of the week.  The second came on Thursday, when I took the kid to the county fair after work (her dad had to work that evening).  The county fair is small but it's a good deal - admission includes parking and all of the rides. I rode the ferris wheel with her, but I was not down with the other rides.  Fortunately, a co-worker happened to be there and agreed to ride a couple of rides with her.  There was one ride that only admitted riders in pairs. This co-worker is also our HR person and does payroll. I was a tiny bit worried that I wouldn't see my next paycheck after she got done spinning on the Tilt-a-Whirl with my child.

We needed to get home and pack for our upcoming vacation, but her highness wanted to play a game first.  The midway games always scare me because I'm not great with math and I get nervous that I'll accidentally sign over my 401K or something.  I mean, they hand you a "free" ball or dart and the next thing you know, you owe them nine million dollars because you didn't pay close enough attention to the schpiel.

Sure enough, my kid soon had a "free" dart in her hand.  She shot the dart and connected with the wall as required.  (This wasn't the balloon one - it was just a wall with targets on it.)  The dude told me that she could have three darts for $5.00. Okay, I handed over a ten and waited for my change, which took an excruciatingly long time. A shot three darts and hit the wall all three times.  She qualified for a very small sock monkey, which seemed fine.  Then he handed me a dart and told me I could have a freebie, too. He said if I hit three, she could get the next size up. My kid seemed excited, so I didn't want to let her down. From what I could gather from the fast-talking huckster, I was going to need to hand over another five dollars.

I need to pause for a moment here and advise you that I do not know how to shoot darts. We have an electronic dartboard in our basement so it's not like I don't have an opportunity to learn - if I wanted to. My husband was even in a dart league for a while (yes, this is a thing).  See, where I grew up (in the 'burbs of DC), if you went out to drink, there wasn't an obligation to pursue other hobbies at the same time. Where I live now, people aren't content just to sit around and have a couple of drinks. They feel compelled to shoot darts or to shake dice with the bartender.  My husband has tried to teach me how to throw a dart properly.  These exchanges usually start with him saying, "YOU DON'T HAVE TO COCK YOUR WHOLE ARM, CLAUDIA" and end with me threatening bodily harm. You don't even want to know what happens when I attempt to throw a frisbee.

So, back to the fair.  I held the dart in my hand, cocked my whole arm back, and promptly flung the dart into a box of stuffed animals at the base of the wall. That's right, I didn't even hit the wall.  Undeterred, the dude told me that that one didn't count and handed me another dart. Miraculously, I hit the wall three times with three darts in a row. He handed me a fourth dart and told me that if I got this one, we could move up to the large prize for just $15.00.  I told him we were done and handed him the other five I'd received as change earlier.  I could see that I'd let him down by not throwing that extra dart, but I am sure he managed to extract it from the next passerby.  My daughter selected her prize: a small emoji pillow.  So, there you have it.  Ten bucks for a fifty-cent toy.

Later that evening, Grover tried to chew that cheap-ass toy and the kid just about lost her mind over it.  If he wants a carnival toy, he's going to have to save up and shoot those darts on his own. This ain't no free ride.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Not done with summer yet

I haven't written recently because, well, there's not much going on. Since my last entry . . . let's see . . . I went to a party, spent a staggering amount of money on school supplies and school shoes, paid our property taxes, baked a bunch of stuff for a pet expo (hosted by German Shepherd Rescue), attended a meeting at church, went to the gym a couple of times, checked out a building with my church peeps (our lease is up and we are trying to purchase a new sanctuary), had my puppy neutered and microchipped, went grocery shopping, volunteered at that pet expo (won a few things in the raffle - woot!), attended a tall ships' festival with the family, and took my kid to a local amusement park.

This week, we don't have a ton of excitement going on.  The tween is in two different programs this week (one for choir and one for middle school) so we have to drive her around and somehow still work enough hours so as not to get in trouble with boss-type people. This weekend we are headed to the state fair. This year, I remembered to make the hotel reservation waaaaaay in advance.  Apparently, we are not the only people in the state who attend the fair and hotel rooms can be hard to snag once August hits.  Next week, we're going to the county fair for good measure. Hey, summer is short in these parts. We have to do ALL THE THINGS while we have the chance. Speaking of which . . .

We are going another little vacation soon. It's our annual cabin-by-the-lake trip. For the past few years, another family has joined us. They have three kids so it's a pretty tight fit in the little log cabin, but we always have a lot of fun. Anyway, they can't make it this year so it may be a little quieter in the cabin (one kid vs. four) but the main drawback is that our kid won't have anyone to play with. And no wifi (gasp!) She may have to kick it old school and . . . read a book (gasp!)

Some part of me is a tiny bit relieved that our friends can't come because I don't want my friend Sherri to see that I've turned into Jabba the Hutt since she saw me last summer. She firmly took charge of her health a couple years ago and really got into shape. (Not that I ever thought she was overweight, but she's more focused on her health than she was when the boys were younger, I think.)  As for me? I don't know what my problem is. I suspect I need about a hundred million hours of therapy, if I'm being truly honest.

I feel like I'm back on track for now, so that's good, I suppose. I don't know how to stop myself from derailing, though. I could blame the rough year I've had. I could blame my sweet tooth (or my slowing metabolism). I could blame my anxiety. I could blame a thousand things but in the end, it doesn't matter. Sure, I read all of the articles about "embracing your curves" and the fight against body shaming. No one's shaming me, though - I have enough self-hatred to cover it, thanks. It amazes me that I can wake up every morning and be horrified by this one thing - a thing that I could, in theory, fix, and yet . . . I don't.

I do have a plan to be pretty active on vacation, though. I've signed up to take a yoga class on the first morning after our arrival. There is a state park nearby with some nice hiking trails. I usually hike it once per vacation but maybe I'll get crazy and do it by myself, too. I'll report my awesomeness (or abject failure) when I get back.

This is what Grover looks like without his balls.

Friday, July 29, 2016

A Weighty Topic or Two

I switched gyms about three years ago. After considering several options and touring a few, I chose the one that is absolutely the closest to my house. I'm just being practical, ya'll.  As part of that gym membership, I was supposed to receive a complimentary session with one of their many trainers. I think the fine print underneath must have said something like, "Ha ha! Good luck collecting on that!" Every time I stopped at the front desk and asked about it, I was told that the only sessions available were at times like 10:00 a.m. It didn't seem feasible for me to quit my job just to learn how to use leg press machine, so I gave up.

When I go to the gym, I usually just hit the cardio equipment that I already know how to use. I sometimes attend yoga classes there, too.  (I prefer to go to my regular yoga studio for yoga classes, though - it just depends on which option is more convenient on any given day).  I have free weights at home, but seldom use them. A couple weeks ago, I decided to try again to see if I could get a trainer to help me learn how to use the weight machines. I assumed that the "free trial" had long since expired, so I signed up for a paid session with a trainer ($40 for a half hour). Well, whaddya know . . . when you pay for a trainer, one magically becomes available at virtually any time of day or night.

So, I went to the gym for my session with the trainer last Wednesday evening.  I know you're probably thinking, "That stuff is not that hard to figure out, Claudia." Well, I just didn't want to take any chances. I figured that with my luck, I'd climb aboard the hip abductor machine only to find someone tapping on my shoulder a moment later. "Um, ma'am? You're facing the wrong way."  I mean, I spend a lot of my time looking stupid anyway - I didn't want to go out of my way to look like a doofus.

As it turned out, the session with Elizabeth was pretty darned helpful. Some of those machines have three or more settings:  the seat back, the height, the weight, etc. It is a little daunting. She gave me a chart and wrote down all the settings for each machine and taught me how to do the exercises properly. She filed the chart in a filing cabinet where I can just grab it each time I do a session.

I was still hesitant to go back and try it all on my own. Nonetheless, I headed over on Tuesday after work and gave it a try. I have to say it wasn't as bad as I'd feared. I figured out the settings for each machine, and completed three sets on each one. The only traumatic moment was when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror across the room. Yikes. It was kind of like that moment when you look at your cell phone camera and realize it's facing you instead of outward. OMG, do I look like that ALL THE TIME?!  

My plan is to try to work the weights into my workouts. We'll see. I'm trying to focus more on my health and well-being lately. Speaking of which, the kid was gone all week at a Girl Scout camp, so I didn't have any cause to yell "WHY ARE YOUR SHOES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE LIVING ROOM?!" at anyone. I missed her, though. She is not a Girl Scout, but she went to a Girl Scout camp with a friend. She had a blast. I love it when she has an opportunity to attend character-building stuff like that. I wasn't worried about her getting homesick because she has flown back and forth (by herself) to Maryland, Virginia, and Oklahoma and stayed in all of those places without her parents. So, she is used to traveling and being on her own from time to time. The only difference in this case was that communication is only one way. I could send her "Bunk Notes" while she was at camp (emails that I had to pay for, basically) but she couldn't reply. No phone calls.  Apparently, phone calls tend to amplify homesickness, which makes sense.  I sent her a bunk note telling her that we moved another kid into her room. I'm sure she rolled her eyes as usual when she read it. One of these days, her eyes are going to roll right out of her head and across the kitchen floor or something.

While she was gone, I hit the gym, squeezed in two yoga classes, went out with my sister-in-law (dinner plus farmers' market), went out with my other half plus our nephew and niece, and binge-watched Outlander. We didn't have the Starz channel in the past, so the opportunity didn't present itself until now. Now, I am just a wee bit embarrassed to admit I'm watching Outlander. The series does give off  just a little bit of a Harlequin Romance aura.  However, Jamie is deeeeeelicious and that's just an incontrovertible fact. I'm also watching Stranger Things on Netflix.

The kid (who just got back this afternoon) asked what we did while she was gone. We told her that we didn't want to brag and make her feel bad, so it was better if we didn't talk about it. That annoyed her, of course. Then, her dad kicked her out of the living room so that he could play a game on the PlayStation. I was in the kitchen, preparing dinner. My daughter, feeling annoyed, rounded the corner and, looking down at her phone, walked straight into the freezer door (which was open because I was pulling out some stuff for dinner - it wasn't some elaborate practical joke). I was a tiny bit tempted to laugh (I mean, it was like a bad sitcom), but I consoled her instead.

Right now, she is outside and has been given strict instructions to walk the puppy all the way to the state line. Seriously, she is not permitted to come back until he is thoroughly exhausted. Grover slept with us while A was gone, so she's getting his trouble-making ass back tonight.

The return of the camper

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Not so very far away

Today I had one of those "count your blessings" types of days that are probably too few and far between. As you know, I am not independently wealthy and therefore must work for a living. What are you gonna do, right?  I'm part of a team that builds websites and other tech-y things. This morning, I met with a new client. My co-worker and I (he's the sales guy, I'm the project manager) drove to the client's location to kick off this new project.  They run a large food bank and are in need of a new website.

Our meeting was scheduled for 9:00 a.m. We got stuck in traffic, so we pulled up right at 9. We could see a line forming outside the building.  It quickly became clear that the food bank was just opening for the day. We filed in through the door with the rest of the folks and then let a receptionist know that we had arrived to meet with the director.

She was running a bit late, it seemed, so we stood in the lobby and waited. More people filed in. They went up to a desk and received a numbered slip from the friendly gentleman behind the desk. Everyone then sat down and waited. Many of them had empty bags and boxes tucked under their arms.

I was not staring, of course, but I was interested in learning about the process. The more I know about an organization, the better equipped I am to deliver a website that truly meets their needs. I watched as the people with numbers were then called to a different window. I'm not 100% sure what happened at that point, but it was clear that the whole process was very orderly and precise. First come, first served.

I spotted a young woman who stood out from the other folks simply because of her youth. I wondered what her story might be. I saw other food pantry clients who, if it is not too unreasonable to make an assumption based on appearance, certainly seemed to fit the description of being "down on one's luck." I saw families. I saw elderly couples. Fat people. Thin people. Each with his/her own story, I'm sure.

Later, during the meeting, I asked a few questions about the program. While some people make use of the food program over generations, the average client needs the food pantry for about two years.  Each client must complete an interview process in order to be accepted into the program. They must show proof of income (or lack thereof, I suppose) and show a social security card as well. If someone uses the program for an extended period, they must be re-certified periodically. Clients are allowed to come to the food pantry once a week.

We passed the food distribution area on the way to the meeting room. The recipients don't "shop" the pantry like one would at a grocery store. They are offered specific items at a counter (milk, bread, etc.) and they can either take all of the items or decline some of them if they wish. I suddenly felt pretty darned fortunate to have the opportunity to choose from 486 types of pasta at my grocery store.

Anyway, here is my observation. I know that my Republican friends subscribe to the whole "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" thing, and I get that. I really do. I truly do believe that most people want to work if they can. I can tell you that some of the folks I spotted in that lobby . . . . let's just say that I don't think employers are lining up to hire them. And I don't mean that in an unkind way, but when you are missing teeth and have limited resources for housing/bathing/necessities, perhaps getting a job is not as easy as some might believe.

I am mostly agnostic so I don't get into God stuff a lot, but I have always kept the saying, "There but for the grace of God go I" in mind.  I don't think of it as "whew! so glad it's not me."  I think of it more along the lines of it being a pretty thin line for most of us before we tumble down the rabbit hole, too. Sure, I'm fortunate to have had some pretty decent opportunities in my life. I own a home and a car. I have a college degree and a job. Nothing truly catastrophic has thrown me off course, but that is not the case for many. I have seen families toppled by medical debt. I mean, medical debt can take a family from prosperity to homelessness. It's crazy.  For some, the path to the food bank might be more mundane: a lost job equals inability to pay rent. Getting a new apartment is tough when you can't scrape together the deposit and first month's rent. I think these things happen every day.

Are there some folks who are perfectly happy to get their bread from the food pantry, with zero motivation to work, to pay rent, etc? Yes, I'm sure those folks exist. But, we don't get to paint everyone with the same brush. It's just not right.

Standing in the food pantry today reminded me that in the end, it wasn't my business why they were there or what their specific circumstances were. If I donate to a food pantry (or to any other program), I don't get to weigh in on how the recipients use those resources. It's not my business if the folks in line had cell phones.  Maybe the phones were a gift - I don't know.

When I was around 20 years old, I was driving to work when I passed a convenience store. I saw a homeless man out front with his dog. I decided to stop and ask the man if I could go inside and buy some dog food for his dog. He said, "Sure."

So, I walked into the store and picked up a few cans of food for the man's dog. When I handed him the bag, he looked inside and said, "Well, I don't know if she likes this kind." I think he probably said thanks. For a moment, I thought, "What the hell?" but later I thought, "Well, maybe his dog really doesn't like that kind. Just because they are down on their luck doesn't mean the dog can't be a little picky."

It's a good lesson, I think. Charity should never come with strings attached. Even at 46, I benefited from a reminder of that.

Sunday, July 24, 2016


My husband got me a FitBit for my birthday back in February. I love the thing. I love how it counts my steps and tells me what a shitty night's sleep I had. I did have one problem with it, though, which was that I could not get it to synch with my iPhone for love nor money. I could get it to synch with my PC, but that was somewhat inconvenient. When I was out east a few weeks ago, my FitBit reflected the wrong time (off by one hour) for the entire trip because I could not synch it. It was slightly maddening. Finally, in desperation, I called FitBit and talked to Jose. Jose walked me through the same instructions I'd Googled a dozen times. Despite his best efforts, the FitBit and my phone simply could not find a way to get along. Friendly Jose told me that they would send me a new one at no charge.

Every other FitBit user I know has had theirs replaced at least once so that makes me wonder about just how sturdy this technology really is. But, I didn't complain. I received my new FitBit in the mail about a week later and voila! It synchs perfectly. Also, another feature started working that had never worked before - my wrist now buzzes when I have an incoming call.  I also set up a custom message that my FitBit gives me when it's done charging: "URNOTFAT."  Awwww, thanks, FitBit!

In other technology news, you know that phone I told my kid she couldn't have? I bought her a phone. Our cellular provider was having a big sale on Thursday and since the phone acquisition was inevitable anyway, I thought I may as well get it as inexpensively as possible.

In preparation for the new phone, I reset her Apple and Google passwords to make sure I had full access to both. I do have to keep a close eye on her. She downloads a lot of crap and I am doing my best to keep her safe. After work on Thursday, I headed over to the mall and bought the phone. The phone, with this sale, was one penny (for an iPhone6). However, I immediately purchased two kinds of insurance for it so I actually had to lay out a hundo right off the bat.

I tried to decide how to give her the phone.  Her dad and I talked and decided it would be on a trial basis at first just to see how she does. On Thursday night, after she went to bed, I charged the phone, set it up on our Wifi, and added the phone to my OurPact account.  OurPact allows me to shut down her devices remotely. That way, she can't stay up all night playing Minecraft.

On Friday morning, I cranked up the ringer on her phone and snuck into her room as she slept, setting it carefully on her dresser.  I closed the door and then called the phone from my phone. I could hear it bing-bonging away at full volume. She didn't answer (I am not kidding when I say that she sleeps like the dead). I called again. I could hear her rustling around. Finally, her bedroom door opened and she stood there with the phone in her hands. She looked at me with her jaw open. I don't know when I've seen her look so surprised.

Her dad and I immediately laid down a bunch of ground rules about the phone. Prior to the purchase, I had talked to a good friend whose daughter is a little older than mine. She had given me some tips on how to retain control of the phone, apps to watch out for, etc.

I promised to take her out the next day and buy her a case for the phone. She immediately started texting her friends and telling everyone that she FINALLY GOT A PHONE!

Now that the kid had a phone, I knew it was finally time to get rid of the home phone. I'm pretty sure I'm the last person in my county who had one. I held onto it for three reasons: emergencies, for the kid's use, and because when I was with Boxer Rescue, that number was printed on over 900 ID tags that were doled out to the dogs we placed. I was worried that someone would find a lost dog and not be able to call.  The timing (for getting rid of the phone) seemed more reasonable now, though.

Disconnecting the phone meant a phone call to Time Warner. I braced myself for this on Friday night. I would rather eat glass than to call Time Warner. I called and navigated the auto-attendant maze. I was connected with a live person. So far, so good. The representative who took my call was not particularly helpful because I couldn't seem to come up with a PIN that we apparently established 20 years ago when we set up the account (even though I was logged into our account online at the time and could provide any other type of information she could possibly want). She then asked, "What's a good number to reach you in case we get disconnected?" I thought to myself, "You know, and I know, and you know that I know, that if we are 'accidentally disconnected,' there is no way you are going to bother to call back." But I gave her my cell number.  Sure enough, we were "accidentally disconnected" a few minutes later. Imagine!

No one called me back. So, after sighing deeply and emitting a few R-rated words, I called back and got a different rep. This one, for whatever reason, did not seem to need a PIN. She disconnected our home phone as requested and moved us to a package that includes some channels that we didn't have before. I'll have to look closely at the next bill to see if there is anything we need to change. That's one of my many complaints about Time Warner. They have these mysterious "special packages," but you have to call and ask about them. When you are one of these packages and it expires, they simply hike up the rate and hope you won't notice/care. I mean, sure, you are welcome to call Time Warner and ask about a new package, but you are also welcome to go fuck yourself and they don't really care either way.

I rounded up our cordless phones and shoved them in a bag in the basement just in case we ever need them again.  By that time, I was in a foul mood and took it out on my family. I poured myself a vodka cranberry (which turned out to be a really bad decision because the kid and I went to a hot yoga class the next morning) and tried to block out my Time Warner-related angst.

My daughter was still playing with her new phone over the weekend. As I was getting ready on Saturday, my wrist buzzed: my child was calling me from the next room. "This might be just a little too much technology," I thought to myself.

Anyway, all is well at the moment. The kid has the phone she's always wanted.  My FitBit works. Time Warner can go suck an egg.

Oh, and yes, I did let my kid install Pokemon Go even though I have concerns about how much data/battery it uses. It was sprinkling yesterday but we went out for a walk anyway. I was close to the daily goal of 10,000 steps at that point, so I knew I could hit the goal with a decent walk.  She caught some Pokemon and I hit my goal. Grover chewed some tree bark he found in the street. It was a good day.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Grounded Tween = World's Most Helpful Tween

My daughter is currently enrolled in a two-week summer program at the middle school she will be attending in the fall. It's a good chance for her to learn her way around the school, and it gives her something to do. Every morning, she rides her bike to her old elementary school and then catches a bus to the middle school. There is a span of three hours or so between when she gets home and when her dad and I get home from work. The rules for that brief span are pretty basic. In fact, there is only one main rule, which is: "no friends over while Mom and Dad are at work." The other rule is more of a goes-without-saying sort of thing: "don't use the stove."  She wouldn't really use the stove anyway, because she prefers to have meals prepared for her so that she can reject them on sight. I keep telling her that she's 11 and is perfectly capable of planning and preparing a meal (something that she would like to eat), but whenever I make that suggestion, she looks at me as thought I've recommended that she gnaw on the dogs for sustenance.

On Friday, I did some shopping after work and then headed home. When I walked in, I was juggling bags of groceries but my kid didn't even look up from her iPad. I put everything away, and then sorted through the tote bag she had left on the kitchen counter (containing her bike helmet, rain jacket, etc.)  I decided to toss the bag into her room. In the middle of her bedroom floor, I spotted a grey hoodie that I didn't recognize. I picked it up and looked at the tag. Nope, definitely not hers.

Hoodie in hand, I went back to the living room. "Whose is this?" I saw the oh shit expression cross her face. I could see that she was thinking fast, trying to figure out how to throw me off the trail.

"I don't know," she tried. "It's not mine."

"Yeah, I know it's not yours. Whose is it?"

She looked down and admitted that it belonged to a friend who lives down the street. Since the hoodie had not been in our home that morning, I didn't have to be a seasoned NYPD detective to know that her friend had been in the house while we were not home. As a matter of fact, she had three girls (sisters) in the house and admitted that she'd done it once before.

I could feel the heat rising in my face. "GROUNDED!" I yelled and sent her stomping off to her room. I took her iPad and put it on top of the refrigerator.

"I can't believe she did this," I told my husband, who was doing a stellar job of parenting from his spot on the couch, where he has been playing the same video game for weeks now. But, I digress.

The rule is in place, of course, not to ruin my daughter's social life, but because if something happened to one of her friends while we weren't home, I have to assume that we would be liable/responsible regardless. It's just too dangerous. I did give her some credit for admitting what she had done, but I was still profoundly disappointed in her.

Earlier that day, I had stopped at the mall to talk to a representative from the cellular company that provides our cellular phones and service. I wanted to find out what it would cost to add our daughter to our plan. She's been begging for a phone and now that she will be in middle school (and is dying to sign up for all kinds of clubs and plays and such), I thought it might be good for her to have a way to call when she needs to be picked up if she has after-school activities. Anyway, the helpful sales dude gave me his card and a brochure. He had circled the plan that would work best for us.

After my anger had subsided a teeny bit (but not very much), I marched back to my daughter's room and waved the brochure at her. "Just so you know," I told her, "I checked into getting you a phone today. You lost your chance now."

Her jaw dropped and she began to wail.  She stormed outside into the back yard and sat in the dirt behind our lone tree. She took Grover with her. After a while, I went to check on her. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. "Don't you trust me anymore?"

"Nope," I said. This tough love stuff is not easy, let me tell you.

I left the brochure on the counter for the next two days so she could remember that decisions have consequences.

The weekend plans had to be changed a bit, of course. She had been looking forward to taking Grover to the dog park on Saturday.  I let her know that she would not be going. So, I took Grover by myself. When we got home, I did lay it on a little thick and told her that we had SO much fun and there were SO many dogs there.

Her weekend wasn't full of unceasing torment, because her dad and I did take her to see "The Secret Life of Pets" on Saturday. I had purchased the tickets on Friday and didn't want to let them go to waste.

On the way home from the theater, she asked me, "Mommy, did you like the movie?"  This was completely out of character for her. Her dad and I started chattering to each other in fake British accents, which did not amuse her AT ALL.

"Mother, did you thoroughly enjoy the cinema this afternoon?" 
"Was the movie quite to your liking, m'lady?" 
"Indeed, good sir!"

After the movie, I dropped them off at the house because I wanted to run to the grocery store to pick up a couple of things I had forgotten. When I came home with my lone bag, the kid sprang forward and said, "Do you need help carrying anything, Mommy?"

"Um, you're laying it on a little thick, Goober."

The grounding will end tomorrow morning and she'll get her iPad back. I did extract a few chores from her, such as talking Grover for a walk and cleaning out some junk in her room.  Since she couldn't watch TV or use a computer/iPad, she dug out a few craft projects. I think it is good for her to get some time away from electronics regardless. This afternoon, we watched a friend's three-year-old son for a few hours. I made my daughter chase him around at the park and keep a close eye on him. I saw her talking to some girls she knows, so I reminded her that grounded people don't socialize.

I'm pretty proud of myself for enacting a consequence because honestly, it's so much easier not to. I'm willing to bet she won't be entertaining in our living room while no one is home, though. At least not anytime soon.

Friday, July 15, 2016


Last Saturday, my daughter and I volunteered at an annual Pride celebration held in a local park. Our church had signed up to have a table at this shindig, so we volunteered with our church friends.  I hadn't been to our local Pride party in a few years because I am usually on vacation that week. However, this year we went on vacation a week early so the dates worked out just right.  I have to tell you: it was the most fun I've had in a while. All of the people were so friendly and it was just a really vibrant, fun atmosphere.

There were more vendors this year than I remembered seeing in the past. There were other churches in addition to our UU fellowship. Other vendors included Avon, a henna shop, a lamp shop (the kid talked me into buying her a custom lamp for her bedroom), a meditation group, and lots of vendors selling rainbow-themed gear. One booth was giving away rainbow flags.  There were a couple of booths that were definitely not appropriate for my daughter to visit, so I let her know ahead of time which vendors were off limits. I didn't need my 11-year-old wandering into the Pure Romance booth. Ack! I'm 46 and don't really understand what some of that stuff is.

Prior to the event, I attempted to explain the concept of a drag queen to my daughter. She asked me if a drag queen is a transgender person. I explained that a drag queen is really more about drama and over-the-top-ness. "Drag queens like to entertain. It's theatrical," I explained.

Sure enough, there were a couple of drag queens walking around the park. My daughter was intrigued and watched as a statuesque figure in a ball gown walked by. "Do you want to have your picture taken with one of the performers?" I asked.

She nodded.  I told her we'd wait for a better opportunity because the queen we'd just seen was pretty far ahead of us by that time. Sure enough, a few minutes later, we did see another candidate.

"What if she says no?" my daughter asked.

"Sweetie, she is here to see and be seen. Trust me. She will not say no."

As predicted, she was more than happy to pose for a photo with an 11-year-old.  I explained to my kid how she'd probably been working on that make-up since the wee hours of the morning. After I snapped the photo, she looked at me and said, "Happy Pride!" I smiled back at her and briefly wondered if I should go a little more dramatic with my own make-up.

Everyone we talked to was just like that drag queen - friendly and proud. I ran into quite a few people I knew.  When I came back to the church booth after being away for a few minutes, one of my friends said, "Someone came by and asked if you were here."

"Well, I am very big in the gay community, you know." I was joking, of course.

Anyway, it was a great event (and the weather cooperated fully), and I think it was a good outreach opportunity for my church. We handed out bubbles and glow bracelets.  We talked to a lot of people about our liberal religious faith.  It was a good day.

I don't claim to be a great mom, but if if my daughter can think of nothing else to say about me when she is grown, I hope she will say that I helped her to embrace diversity from day one. I'll be good with that.

Someone lost a tooth as soon as we arrived!