Relaxing by the Pool, Leaky Diapers, and Phelps Face

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Typically sweet Layna helps water the plants

There is nothing like relaxing in the pool on a hot day. And, having three young children in the pool with me is nothing like relaxing. It was unbelievably hot down here in July – the hottest July on record. I was reminded of how thankful I am to have a pool in our backyard.

I was watching my 19-month-old grandson Felix, so I figured it would be a good time to import a couple of the others. Seven-year-old Jett and four-year-old Layna love to play with him.

We aren’t a formal group, so a swim diaper and a hat is all Felix needs in the pool to be dressed for success. I slathered us up and strapped swimmies on the little two and we were ready to go.

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Pool and pacifier – that’s all I need

Before long, Layna said that she had to go potty. She assured me that it’s perfectly acceptable for her to do it in the yard since it’s just #1. I can work with that.

Felix, looking a lot like a floating chlorine dispenser as he spins around and bobs up and down, loved swimming with his cousins. Things were going, shall we say, swimmingly, and then it happened – a disturbance in the force.  I announced that it was time to go in the house.

Layna informed me that she had to go to potty again. I told her that’s fine, but since we’re going in the house anyway, she could use the actual bathroom. I opened the door, which is right off the pool deck, and invited her in. She was appalled that I would think she’d consider going in the house where it’s cold when the backyard works just fine, thank you very much.

Michael-Phelps-Face-olympic-games-rio-2016I gave her my best I-mean-business look. She gave me Phelps Face.

“Layna, you are going to use the potty,” I said as I picked her up and put her on it.

Her reply as she sat there, “I’m not going to go.”

She exercised such control of her mind and body that is was a little scary.

I’ve been around this block a few times, so I was determined that I would win. While Jett was drying off, I stood outside the bathroom door watching Layna not go potty while taking Felix’s swim diaper off. Suddenly I was standing in a puddle of brown watery poo courtesy of Felix being on antibiotics. Arg.

The upside of this was that Layna quickly figured out that I meant business and did hers on the potty. Plus, Felix got to play in the hose.

Everyone was happy inside playing when I made the mistake of closing the bathroom door to the hall. A treasured, glass thingamajig, that I’m sure meant a lot to me when I found it, but at this point I have no idea why I have it, came crashing to the tile floor from its shelf next to the door. The shards exploded into the hall and the four adjoining rooms. Since Felix freaks out when the vacuum is running, that made it a little more exciting; but with Jett’s help, I was able to clean it all up.

It was a perfect afternoon. I spent it with three of my wonderful grandchildren. Nobody drowned. Nobody cut themselves on glass. I got my floor vacuumed. To be perfectly honest, at this point in life, when something breaks I chalk that up to one less thing to dust. I don’t like dusting, so that’s a win-win.

Everyone’s a Critic

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Layna is four and in charge of life. She noticed a bug in our light fixture. I told her it was our pet Fred and that’s why I haven’t gotten it out of there.

She said, “That bug isn’t really your pet, is it?”

“No, I just like to joke.”

“Well, I don’t,” she said.

In disbelief I said, “Of course, you like jokes.”

Her reply – “Not bad ones.”

Blogger Fodder

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since we became empty-nesters and moved out of the neighborhood where we raised our children. Our new house is larger and has afforded us the privilege of having lots of company. I think there’s something to the fact that there is a separate area for guests and no children to compete with over the bathroom.

For the majority of the summer we have had adult children and grandchildren staying with us. When one family leaves, another arrives. We love it!

Selfishly, I figured it would give me fodder for my blog, so I created a little writing niche where I can go behind closed doors and create. But there are either ideas to write about or time to write them. Not to mention how distracting grandchildren are – all that cuteness! It is wonderful to be surrounded by people again, but there are a few drawbacks.

For instance, privacy – having grandchildren around means never peeing alone. I will tell them that I’ll be right back – I just have to go to the bathroom. They will even acknowledge me. Then off I “go” and within seconds they are yelling across the house for me with important questions like, “Can I have a piece of gum?”

It’s been a long time since I was a mom of school-aged kids, and I forgot the importance they place on having an immediate answer to questions like this. So I will teach them that like their mom, any question asked of me while I am in the bathroom gets an automatic no.

Even as I typed that last sentence I remembered the loop holes. Kids are great at loop holes. What if they ask if they can do the dishes for me or help a sibling with chores? Do I really want to say no to those types of questions? Wait a minute, there is little danger of these questions ever being asked so I think I’m 95 percent safe with my automatic no.

Another drawback is that kids can be kind of judgy when you do something differently than their parents do. For instance, while being a prize-winning grandmother and playing with my grandkids in the pool, I took a break from being squirted in the face with squirt guns and sat in a lounge chair to read a book. This is not the time to read anything that I need to concentrate on. War and Peace will have to wait. It is, however, the perfect time for Seriously…I’m Kidding, by Ellen DeGeneres.

So there I was sitting in the sun and reading Ellen’s funny little essays about life when I noticed I was being watched. “You’re reading that? Mom doesn’t like her.”

I glanced down at the book making sure I hadn’t accidentally picked up a copy of Mein Kampf. Little did my granddaughter know that for me, reading humorous books and stories is like taking my vitamins, except I don’t always remember to take my vitamins. In fact, excuse me. While I’m thinking about it, I better go take them right now.

Thanks. I’m back.

Later when I asked my daughter about this, she was equally baffled. She surmised that her daughter assumed her dislike of Ellen due to the fact that every time they go on the Epcot ride that Ellen hosts, she ends up falling asleep.

I remember those days. When we took the kids on the Haunted Mansion ride and they would snap our pictures. I was the one enjoying a nap on that dark, cool ride.

Speaking of falling asleep, my dad used to say, “Your mother could fall asleep while running for a bus.” I’m like that. Since having grandchildren around more, I’ve reverted to my old ways of dropping off to sleep at inopportune times, like while waiting at red lights, playing with children on the floor, watching movies at the theater, and even while zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. You get the picture – just like the people at the Haunted Mansion did. As a matter of fact, I hear my pillow calling me now.

A Scream in the Night

After a long day of caring for three of my grandsons and helping my ailing daughter-in-law, I spent some time reading before going to bed last night. I was reading “A Single Shard” by Linda Sue Park. It is set in twelfth-century Korea and is about an orphan boy who finds himself working for a master potter. I am to the part of the story where the boy is taking his master’s pottery to the King’s Court for a possible commission. The boy has the delicate pottery carefully packed and placed into his backpack when the unthinkable happens.

Meanwhile, this morning I’m piecing together the nightmare I had last night to see if there could be any deeply hidden meaning. I woke up screaming at 5:00 this morning. Bob put his hand on my arm and chased the frightening images away.

In my dream I was walking home from my parents’ house in Zellwood, Florida. I was walking along Hwy 441, which is a busy highway that meanders through rural and small town areas here in Central Florida. I realized it was getting late and I needed to start jogging or I wouldn’t get home before dark. As I jogged along, I passed by three small children. One of them asked me what was in the backpack that I was wearing. I replied that there wasn’t much in it and as I was stopped talking to him, the two other children started attacking me and trying to take my things. That’s where Bob rescued me.

IMG_4968As I sit here typing this morning, I’m sure there is no collection between that dream and my life this week. No connection to having two of my grandsons stay with us for a week while my daughter-in-law and her 18-month-old son are staying here. No connection to the youngest taking my shoes all day long and running away with them while waiting for me to chase him. And certainly no connection to the older boys constantly taking my favorite float while we play in the pool.

Just another one of those dreams that has more to do with eating ice-cream late at night than real life I suppose. Now, if you’ll excuse me I am heading to my parents’ house to take my dad to the doctor. I’m taking the car though. See, it’s totally unrelated.

On the Top of the World Looking Down

 

IMG_5833Recently, my husband and I grabbed a quick night away at Bonnet Creek at Disney World. I was in Mickey Land for a writers’ conference, so we took advantage of our time share to avoid the drive across town after a long day of seated inspiration. Nothing wears me out like sitting and learning. Unless it’s activity.

The deal with our timeshare is that within two weeks of checking in, if there is a room upgrade available and we swoop down and “click” on it, we get it for free. That was our fortune this stay. We went from a lowly one-bedroom unit to the top-floor presidential one-bedroom suite. Sweet!

This meant that once in the elevator, to get to our sweet suite, we had to insert our room key by the floor numbers to allow us access to our floor. The feeling of importance that this elicited can only be imagined by the peons who were forced to live out their day-to-day time-share lives on the lower 18 floors.

Not being one to flaunt my perceived importance, it was a little embarrassing when we got on the elevator with another family and they asked us which floor we wanted.

With a blush of the cheek and my best nonchalant look, I said, “Oh, we’re on the 19th floor, we have to insert our room key for that one.”

“Oh, they’re on the top floor. They must be something special,” they taunted.

I replied, “Not really. We simply got a last-minute upgrade. Seriously, we’re just like you.”

“You mean you just got out of prison?” the man asked.

“Well, not quite like you. We are, after all, on the 19th floor.”

 

Wearing Clean Underwear is a Good Start

file4281249501933 (1)I pulled up to a red light the other day and waited about four cars back. When the light turned green, Car #2 in line hit the gas. Car #1 did not. Both drivers emerged from their cars. I assume that the driver in Car #1 was in a rush that morning, because my keen observation skills coupled with my new glasses revealed that she forgot to put her pants on. She had on a shirt and pantyhose and shoes. That’s it. She was so close to being ready for her day, but she missed it by that much!

There she was standing in the road in all (or half) her glory. I don’t like to admit thinking like this, but it seemed fitting that she got rear-ended – like she was practically asking for it. It’s like my mom always told me, “Put on clean underwear in case you get in an accident and end up in the hospital.” (Side thought – do hospitals refuse to help people unless they have on clean underwear? Is there a person in charge of underwear inspections?)

Anyway, I guess her mom should have been more explicit and follow that up with “then put on pants or a skirt.”

If you’re a parent you know the loophole I’m talking about – “Mom, I am wearing clean underwear. You didn’t say to put on pants.”  Or, “Mom, I did stop hitting my brother. Then I started again. I didn’t know you meant stop hitting him forever.”

We need to be prepared for whatever might happen as best we can, clean underwear covered by pants included; but let’s not get carried away. The last few days down here in Florida we have been watching Tropical Storm Colin. By “we” I mean every local news station. All we heard about was T.S. Colin and how we should not take it lightly. To be fair, it did rain a lot; but that’s what it does down here in the summertime.

Two weeks ago T.S. Bonnie went through, and it was barely mentioned. The inconsistency is upsetting if, like me, your name is Bonnie and you may have to wait another six years to have a storm named after you again. Adding to my sadness was the fact that the storm was coming through on my birthday. Not just any birthday either – my 60th birthday. I suppose it was a fitting storm for my birthday weekend. It started as a “low.” Then it became a disturbance, and finally a tropical storm. By the end of my birthday, it had lost most of its energy and was merely a depression. Just like me.

Don’t feel sorry for me though. Loss of energy is nothing new to me. It has been part of my life ever since I had children.

With God’s help, I have decided to embrace 60. They say that it’s the new 70, which to me is definitely an oxymoron. Putting the word “new” in front of 70 isn’t fooling anybody. I am 60 and fine with it (on most days). The fact that a few days after celebrating my new decade I was down and out with vertigo doesn’t mean I’m old. It only means I was dizzy, but I’m looking at the vertigo as a blessing. It gave the opportunity to take that three-day nap I had been longing for. Happy Birthday to Me!

The take-away from all this is always look for the silver lining (just not too closely at the silver roots).

Life in a Bubble Can Leave You All Wet

My obsession with acrylic tumblers goes way back. It began in 1988 when I was a Tupperware Lady.

Teachable Moment: Do not call acrylic tumblers glasses. That is silly as you cannot have an acrylic tumbler made out of glass. I know, it’s semantics; but I wouldn’t want anyone (namely me) to make fun of you for misuse of the word. Also (and this may seem weird since I am so finicky about acrylic tumbler versus glass lingo) it didn’t bother me at all to be called a Tupperware Lady even though I am not made out of Tupperware.

By the time the late 1990s rolled around, my obsession had grown to the point that I couldn’t walk by a store display with acrylics on it. I had to stop and touch – feel the rim to see if it was smooth enough to drink from, turn it over to see if it would collect water in the bottom when put in the dishwasher. I didn’t buy a lot of them (a marriage saving decision), but a girl could dream. Dream of having cupboards full of different sizes and colors of non-shattering acrylic – some for wine, some for margaritas, some for juice, some for tea. They are the perfect thing for use by a pool.

Only we didn’t have a pool. It is true. Not all people who live in Florida own a pool. Let that sink in. I know it’s shocking that anyone could live down here with this amount of heat and sunshine and not have a pool, but it happens.

But then something amazing occurred. My husband Bob’s company had been giving him stock options and they were growing in value beyond our wildest dreams. That meant that I could buy all of the acrylics that I desired!

Seriously, Bob said he thought it was time for us to get a pool. The kids were older and would not need constant supervision. It would be wonderful for our family. We came up with a plan. We secretly shopped a pool company and started on the design; and, best of all, Bob said I could buy new acrylic tumblers to use during the big announcement to the kids.

After dinner one night we had the kids hang back at the table for a little family pow-wow. Bob said we had something to tell them and then looked to me. I brought out a bag and started pulling acrylic tumblers out of it and placing them on the table.

“Do you know what these are for?” we asked, and got the standard smart-alecky responses.

“Why acrylic? Why would that be important from a safety point of view?” I asked.

Soon one of the kids jumped up and yelled, “We’re getting a pool!”

There were shouts of joy and excitement. We explained that everything was in order; we just had to wait two short weeks before we could sell the stock and finalize the purchase. We could almost see an enormous hole being dug in our yard. We even took a tree down in preparation.

It was an active two weeks. We felt like we were living in a bubble of joy and anticipation until we realized that that bubble was actually the “Dot-Com Bubble.” And during those two weeks it burst. We were unable to sell enough stock in time and our plan to get a pool was suddenly the only thing that was all wet.

The Sweet Life

That sweet acrylic life.

The kids took it well – probably better than I did. Life does have its disappointments; but if this was as bad as it gets, that’s not bad at all.

So whenever we talk about that stock we now call it the “worthless stock.” The kids still get a kick out of our big announcement using, as they call them, “the pool glasses.” That’s the thing that really hurts. They won’t even call them acrylics.

Happily now Bob and I do have a pool. It took over 15 years to get it, but we finally feel like real Floridians. And now as a “safety precaution,” I have lots of acrylic tumblers, too. Life is good.

Excuse me – Where’s the Ladies Room?

How wonderful that we have something to distract us from the drama of the never-ending political race for the presidency.  Unfortunately that thing is the national bathroom identity crisis.

We’ve come a long way from that old joke book – “Race to the Outhouse by Willie Make-It and Betty Won’t.”  Now the book would be entitled, “Who’s in the Outhouse – Willie or Betty?  And are they in the correct one?  And does it really matter anyway?”

Yes, it matters.  While I am sympathetic with people in the world who have struggles that I don’t relate to and don’t consider a struggle, I wish that kind of sympathy would be returned to those of us who simply don’t want a person of the opposite sex catching a glimpse of us and our children through the cracks in the stall.

It’s disconcerting enough (but forgivable and understandable) when some little kid peeks under the stall while I’m sitting there taking care of business, or when someone tries the door and because the lock is loose the door flies open; but I don’t want to see anyone that can pee standing up looking down at me in that situation.  You can be sure I won’t give the typical, “Oh, it’s fine,” response.  I will likely unleash my pepper spray.  (Note to self:  Look for a pepper spray coupon in Sunday’s paper.)

If there is a silver lining here, it’s that I no longer have to be embarrassed if I accidentally go in the wrong restroom (which I have done before).  I wonder if maybe those businesses that have strange hieroglyphics that are supposed to instruct us as to which bathroom to use were actually preparing for the future.  Confusion is everywhere, but we don’t have to take this sitting down.  Unless you’re a woman, that is.

And what about the businesses that sell enormous drinks like the Big Gulp from 7-11 or Venti coffee from Starbucks.  I’ll bet those sales are down.  Of course, those humongous cups could come in handy if we get in a real jam.

Seriously though, I know that I always need to be on guard wherever I am.  I realize that I need not be concerned about most of the people that I run into along life’s path.  So when I say that danger is lurking around every corner, dressing room curtain, and bathroom stall, you know what I mean.  What really grieves me is that we as a nation are allowing ourselves to be caught with our pants down as we pander to every single exception to every single rule in an effort to tolerate everything.  It’s exhausting.  I think that is part of the goal of the movement (pun intended) – – wear us out until we give up.  Let’s not give up.  Let’s show kindness, but for sure…

My Latest Obsession

I think I’m getting closer to truly joining the twenty-first century – not too bad considering we’re only about 15 years into it.  Why, as recently as Saturday while I was shopping in Home Goods a needy shopper asked me about bed skirts and did I think they could be found there.  Or, she wondered, perhaps she should try Target or JC Penney.  My reply came so quickly and spontaneously that it took me by surprise – Amazon.

IMG_0140Amazon is now my go-to place for all my shopping obsessions, which are usually weird, come inexplicably and consume too much of my much-needed brain power.  Obviously I will continue to frequent brick and mortar establishments, but you can’t beat the convenience of sitting at your computer, drinking a cup of coffee, and ordering a case of lip balm.

It was lip balm that taught me the value of this gas-saving, frustration avoiding method of shopping, which all of my kids swear by.  I had purchased Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Ultra Moisturizing Lip Balm many times at Target.  I love the way it dispenses soothing moisture as it glides across dry lips and love the oval shape of the tube.  Plus, it’s inexpensive (if you don’t count the gasoline cost involved in covering the tri-county area in search of it).

Every time I’d go in a Target, CVS, Walgreens, or even out of desperation Walmart, I would look for it to no avail.  So I broke down and went on Amazon and there it was!  Nothing compares to the joy of looking in my linen closet and seeing a case all lined up.  Even thinking about it makes me utter a happy little sigh.

The last time I had a weird obsession that involved ordering online, I think Amazon was mainly a place to get books.  I had to go straight to the source to get my Heinz India Relish, which by the way, I can now find on Amazon.  Now that we are empty-nesters, I’m not sure it’s a good idea for me to buy this by the case.  Unless someone out there wants to go in on it with me.  Any takers?

 

What’s in Your Wallet?

Have you seen Blue Bloods?  It’s a television crime/drama that is almost as much about a family consisting largely of cops as it is about what those cops do in their day-to-day jobs as police officers in New York City.

Blue Bloods Poster

The show, starring Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg, was recommended to us by several of our friends, so we decided to give it a try.  The relationships of four generations are heartwarming and amusing.  They gather together every Sunday night around a large table for dinner and conversation, which includes prayer before the meal and anything-goes topics of discussion.

The commercials during the show do more than advertise products and services.  They also give away their target audience.  Half of the ads are of the “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” variety.  We usually fast forward through them, but we still get the gist of what actors like Betty White are offering.

This has raised concerns and questions between Bob and me.  Are we too young to be watching this show?  We are the pre-walk-in-bathtub generation.  Furthermore, should we admit that this is the kind of show we like?  Our pride could take a hit if people only knew what kind of programming is being viewed behind the closed doors of our home.

Our conversation has also been influenced by this show and has given way to new things to argue about.  In one episode the great-grandfather has a heart attack and is rushed to the hospital.  Tom Selleck (his son) is asked what medications his dad takes.  Poor Tom doesn’t know and feels like a lousy son.  The pharmacy has to be called and precious moments are wasted in an effort to find out if Great Gramps takes blood thinners.  SPOILER ALERT:  Gramps pulls through.

We put the show on pause and I say to Bob, “You know, if you were admitted to the hospital I wouldn’t know what medications you take.”

Bob:  “I don’t take blood thinners.”

Me:  “You take fish oil.  Fish oil is a blood thinner.”

Bob:  “I don’t think that counts.”

Me:  “Oh, it counts, baby.”  (I say this with enough confidence to cover up my lack of confidence.)

Then I look at him with nothing but love in my eyes and say, “You need to have a list of all the stuff you take and put it in your wallet – just in case.”

Bob:  “I constantly am trying to get stuff out of my wallet.  I don’t want to add to it.”

Me:  “So you don’t even have room in there for a piece of paper that could save your life?”

Bob doesn’t like to argue.  He tries to let that last one go but I’m on it with, “I’m right, you know.  Just tell me you know I’m right.”

“You’re right,” he admits.  “The list is a good idea.”

“Thank you,” I say.

We start the show back up, and I look at him with respect that he would admit when he was wrong and joy that this conversation could very well save his life someday.  Love is welling up in my heart and then a realization sets in, and I say, “You’re not going to make the list, are you?”

He gave a simple answer – no.

That’s when I knew that we had entered the next stage of our marriage – old people arguments.  No more arguing about the kids or calendars or jobs or vacations.  We’ve moved on to bigger things – what’s in your wallet?

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