Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Apple of My iPhone

My children truly are the apple of my eye and, in fact, have apples in their own eyes.  It’s just that their apples are attached to laptops, ipods, and cell phones.  I’m certain that it is probably a bad decision, but I enjoy giving my children better things than I have.  Who can resist the twinkle in their eyes as those apple commercials taunt them with the next Steve Jobs creation.  When it comes to technological gadgets, I am at the bottom of the pile with my antiquated hardware.  Months before I am due an upgrade on my cell phone and modern technology is within my reach, my children have hacked my account, reviewed and compared all five users to see who has the nearest upgrade on the horizon and have pre-selected the phones of their choice.  My little flip phone has served me well, but when you can no longer dial the number “8” it is a clear sign from the AT&T demigods that it is time for an upgrade.  While I tape my screen together and have lost all friends with eights in their numbers, my children get my upgrade and leave the store with the latest and greatest in cell phones.  Their eyes are  all bright and shiny with silver apples in them once again.  I smile and take their hand me down phones and am thrilled to get them.  It is interesting what you can discover on your children’s phones.   I currently have my daughter’s former phone.  As an added bonus,  I now have pictures of every puppy she has seen within 1000 miles of our home and 200 photos of her framing her face from one arm length away.    My address book is most interesting because everyone has names of celebrities.  I did not know that I was Carrie Underwood and don’t even want to know how I got that name.  Her father has the name of a cute boy at school that she likes so that her friends could see him calling her every time her dad called.   She would smile and talk sweet  leaving her friends to ooh and ah while they were completely unaware that she was actually making her dad feel oh so important.  My address book also includes characters from books she has read, movie stars and other famous people.   It’s not many people in this town that get calls from Brad PItt and Jesus.  I do.   Recently, I had left my phone full of famous people at home and needed to call my son.  My daughter’s new phone was in my purse, so I retrieved it to make this very simple phone call.  The first thing I discovered was that phone was locked.  I tried every password I could think of such as her birthday, her pet names, and even curse words after I had exhausted all ideas and had reached total frustration.   I took the phone to her and with that one eye half shut look that only a mother can give, demanded she unlock the phone without ever saying a word.  She types in “The Sky”  with two thumbs and the phone opens up offering me a palette of applications and more glamour shots of her.  I jumped to the “J’s” in her address book to call my son, but he wasn’t there.  Realizing he must have some alias, I asked how she had him listed.  She told me to look under “A’s”   It seems his name was “Too Cool for School A Really Cool Guy.”   Realizing I was entering the world of Allie logic I had to ask..... Why “A”?    “Too Cool” begins with a T.  It appears that “A Really Cool Guy” was the last name.  Never saw that coming.    While I learn to navigate my hand me down phone pre-programmed by a ten year old I am keenly aware that many a surprise is tucked away in this hand held device leaving me with a virtual treasure hunt.  So as I discover more pictures of puppies and rekindle relationships with those with “8”s in their phone numbers, my daughter’s arm grows a bit longer each day so the evolutionary process will allow her future offspring to take perfectly focused pictures of themselves and have all they need within an arms reach away.  

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Tall Drink and A Short Straw

As a good parent, I have talked to my children about drugs and alcohol and the dangers of using and associated addictions.  Where I failed was when I forgot to discuss the many other addictions that will flash before them with false enticement and a siren song.  I hang my head in shame when I have to admit that we have all become terribly addicted to late night Frappes.  Yes,  McDonald's is our dealer and we find ourselves circling the parking lot like excited crackheads trying to decide if we want mocha or caramel.   There is a prerecorded voice that greets you as you enter the drive-thru.  I'm certain it must be the devil, but it calls our names and fills us with joy.  In high pitched excited tones, like a girl going through Greek Rush, she says, "Hi, Would you like to try one of our delicious ice cold mocha frappes?"  "OF COURSE WE DO",  I want to scream.  You would think they would recognize my car by now and just start whipping up frappes as I enter the lot.   One by one, they hand me our drug of choice and I pass them to the far ends of the vehicle while little hands reach out for that delicious, caffeinated cup of evil that drives us.  For the next few miles, the only sound in my car is the sound of slurping and some awful 70's song I force my kids to listen to.  I have learned to associate these cold, chilly drinks with wellness and after a stressful day, a frappe cures what ails me.   I have discovered that there is one other chilly treat out there that works almost as well.   Until you have experienced a Sonic Lemon Berry Slush on a 103 degree day, you have not lived. An added bonus is happy hour between 2 and 4 when drinks are half price and for a few pennies difference, you can get the extra large Route 44 cup which can later be used to bathe a small puppy in.   It's more chilly treat than one can endure. However, with all great things, there can be downfalls.  Just yesterday as the thermometer soared past 104 degrees, my car was on autopilot and it took me to Sonic for my lemon berry relief.  In a hurry to get to work, I took my tall drink and straw and darted out of the lot.  As I drove down the road I realized the straw was shorter than the cup and while slurping ice citrus slush, my straw slipped inside the cup and my face went straight into the lid.  Berry Slush went everywhere! While it did have a cooling effect, it's hard for people to take you seriously while you have lemon pulp frozen to your hair.   I should stick with the frappes and a sippey cup lid. You're bound for failure with a tall drink and a short straw.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Laundering Money

Dirty laundry is my nemesis.  It is my greatest challenge and biggest foe.  It is the one thing in my life I cannot get my hands around - it’s just too big. Just as I think the last sock is washed and the bath towels are folded and put away,  five kids in wet bathing suits and wet towels will fly through the back door leaving a pile of laundry on the floor.  After fifteen years, I have accepted the fact that the laundry is bigger than I and it is truly a mountain I will never conquer.  There are no support groups for those who need a laundry intervention, so I decided to tackle this problem using the tools at hand... namely, child one and child two.  I announced to my kids that they were responsible for doing their own laundry.  This was said with great authority and self-pride that I had taken charge.  Nothing happened. No laundry was done. The kids were quite content mining for clothes at the back of their closet and had no need to wash their dirty clothes as long as there remained an abundant supply of clean items to wear, even if they were out of style and two sizes too small.  I accepted defeat once again and relinquished control of my failed laundry skills to a higher power.   One day while forgetting to remove $35 cash from my jeans pocket, I began another round of laundry.  I had no idea what luck lay ahead.  I sent my daughter, against her will, to remove the clothes from the dryer.  As she reached into the dryer she discovered a crisp, clean five dollar bill.  She squealed with delight.  We all know laundry law dictates that you keep what you find and she ran about the house  gloating about her new wealth.   She returned to her laundry duties with a new found excitement and shortly after retrieved a twenty dollar bill from the dryer.  Prepared to dispute laundry law, I was ready to take back my twenty, but realized that this lesson might be worth twenty dollars in the long run.  She took her cash and showed all the neighborhood kids who were standing in my kitchen in their freshly laundered towels and suits.  It wasn’t long before the kids were begging to do the laundry. I even had one of their mothers offer to wash our clothes.  I had accidentally stumbled onto something bigger than me and possibly bigger than the laundry pile itself.   Doing the laundry had become a treasure hunt and my kids were begging for more clothes to wash.   The neighbors even wanted to see my dirty laundry and they meant it in the most literal way.   I actually caught a glimpse of the end of the laundry pile and a feeling of success and happiness welled up inside of me.  I discovered great enjoyment watching the kids race to the washroom each day to start a new load of clothes.  Most people throw dryer sheets in their dryer.  I toss in a few dollar bills and before long I have clean laundry, happy kids and a new found freedom from the evil laundry monster that had enslaved me for years.     The cost of this new freedom....a couple of dollars a day and an occasional five or ten thrown in for motivation.  I’ve toyed with expanding this idea and throwing in a surprise find to keep up the excitement.  Unfortunately, most of my ideas such as concert tickets, chocolate, or a puppy just won’t work. The kids will simply have to find self-motivation with their Downy fresh ones and fives because once you make it to the end of laundry pile, there is no going back!  

Early Retirement and the Great Resignation

        At the age of 57, I stared at my 35 year career, whispered a polite thank you to the heavens and hit the send button on my retiremen...