Kids Really Do Say the Most Surprising Things – Part II

I have mentioned repeatedly the brilliant move I made when I married an engineer. Marrying an engineer means never having to call a repairman. To quote Ferris Bueller, “It’s so choice.”

We had been having problems with our pool pump. I watched Bob as he quickly diagnosed the problem. I’ll describe for you in layman’s terms what he did after pulling something or another apart. He looked at it. He then put the thingamajig back on the what’s-it-called saying he’d have to tackle it later. He didn’t have the right tools.

The next day after he came home from work, he kissed me hello as I cooked dinner and headed out back.

img_1607-1Layna, who is four, was happily doing puzzles on my iPad at the dining room table.

Just five minutes later, Bob was back inside. I asked him if he was going to work on the pump tonight and he said he just fixed it. “It’s easy when you have the right tool.”

I know I shouldn’t be amazed at him, but I still am. I winked at him and told him, “I think I got the right tool when I married you.”

Obviously, the compliment was wasted on Layna, who kept saying, “Bumpa is a tool? Bumpa is a tool?”

 

 

 

Sweating the Small Stuff

I know you’re not supposed to eat late at night, but last Friday our late-night snack turned out to be a good thing. Bob and I were watching TV and it was almost bedtime when I realized I was hungry. I grabbed a banana, an unusually healthy choice. Bob headed to the pantry to take inventory. I heard a muffled noise from the pantry, which is around the corner. It’s hard to spell these things but it sounded something like “whoa, whoa, mwahhhhhhhhh!” and was followed by silence.

“Bob,” I repeated three times as I went toward the sound. But Bob was no longer in front of the pantry. Bob was in the family room and assured me he was okay. Okay for a man who had just had a mouse run across his bare foot. (I know it’s awful of me, but I was glad Bob discovered our intruder. He handles those things much better than I do.)

Acceptable Garden Mouse

Acceptable Garden Mouse

So, you know that saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff.”? I don’t think they were talking about a mouse in your house. I could feel anxious beads of sweat (also small) break out on my furrowed brow. This was another first for us – a rodent in the house.

We have been talking about our Bucket List of things to do while we still have the energy to do them. Extracting a mouse from the house did not make the list. Even if it did, we would not want to start on that project at 11:00 on a Friday night. And when I say “we,” I mean Bob.

I would have been happy for him to get right to it, but he wanted to go to bed. Bed – the place where you sleep. The place where a little mouse could come and crawl over you while you sleep. Maybe we should pull an all-nighter and do some serious binge watching.

Bob, in his even-tempered way, assured me that the mouse went to the opposite side of the house from our bedroom. He was certain it wouldn’t come near us. Neither of us has any experience with this, and I am always amazed at the things that Bob knows about and wonder where he acquired his vast array of knowledge. Still, I had a feeling that Bob was pulling a “B. J. Surhoff.”

Sidebar – B. J. Surhoff used to play baseball for the Orioles. Bob is very good at stating facts like he has no doubt about their authenticity. For instance, when the kids were growing up, we used to collect baseball cards. Being from Baltimore, we raised our children to be Oriole fans, so those were the prized cards. One day one of the children asked if we knew what B. J. stood for. Without batting an eye, Bob said, “Brian James.” We all believed him. Why shouldn’t we?

Years later, we learned that Mr. Surhoff’s name is really William (Billy) James, hence the initials. I have to give Bob credit for being close and credit for giving that assured “dad” answer, but he lost some credibility. Plus, we all love to bring that up whenever we get the opportunity.

So, he admitted that his was an educated guess about the tendencies of mice as well as an effort to get some sleep. I stuffed a towel under the bedroom door and slept like a baby. (Thank you, Jesus.)

Do you see a mouse in this picture?

Do you see a mouse in this picture?

I think the mouse slipped in while we were having tree and shrub work done last Thursday. We must have disturbed his environment; and with all the going in and out I was doing, he found an opportunity.

Not to brag, but the weather down here in Orlando is so amazing right now that we have had all of the French doors open to our pool. We think the little guy must have made a break for it, because there has been no sign of him, which is comforting and a little disconcerting all at once. We have traps set with peanut butter crackers in them, but no mice have been caught. I will confess that the smell of peanut butter makes me want a snack, but I will resist. After all, that’s how this whole thing started.

Seventy-two Hours

Apparently it only takes 72 hours alone together before my husband and I are grasping for things to talk about. Three little days!

img_6409We had just gone through a very busy stretch, and life had not given us much time to simply be together; so we booked a three-day getaway at the beach. Day one was relaxing. No schedules. No other people to consider. No work. It was just the ticket.

Days two and three were more of the same. Sleeping in. Eating out. Long walks and talks on the beach. Near perfection.

Then came the ride home where I stupidly mentioned the (then upcoming) election. Oops! It had been a perfectly wonderful, relaxing time! What was I thinking? But it wasn’t the whole ugly election subject that prompted the decline in our conversation. It was the fact that we could go to the library to vote early.

And it wasn’t the going to the library part that revealed that we truly had exhausted our conversational topics. It was my saying that since we moved to a different county, I needed a new library card.

But the true downfall came when Bob said he would get one, too, even though he hasn’t actually used a library card since 1971. When I pointed this out to him, he confessed that getting a card might not be a good idea, but it wasn’t for the above reason. It was because he was thinking of getting a new wallet, a skinny one that would not handle as many cards. Then he started going over every card in his wallet. At that point, I had no choice but to jump out of the moving car.

Somewhere between the new Costco VISA and the stamp card for Asian Chao Emperor’s Club Customer Loyalty Program, I started laughing uncontrollably. Thankfully, Bob joined in. I guess this is what it has come to after all of these years – 72 hours. After that, we must recruit friends, family, or even a member of the opposing political party to rescue us and infuse new life into our conversation. It’s good to know one’s limits. It’s also good to laugh at yourself. And if all else fails, a nice quiet ride might be the best choice of all.

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?

Beware of the Couch – Part 3 of 3

Wednesday I began telling the history of couches in our family which leads up to an incident that I didn’t want to tell you about my husband.  As a reminder, he has insisted that I should tell this story in the hopes that it will help even one person.  Today I conclude the story from the point where I realized that things aren’t always as perfect as they seem.

One night about four months into owning this perfect couch, we had a gathering of about 18 people.  Bob and I were sitting across from our couch when we noticed it bowing in the middle.  The guys flipped it over and, lo and behold, the delivery men had not set the center leg on the thing.  The frame had bent and was starting to crack.  The furniture store was extremely apologetic and said we could replace it, but that couch was no longer being made so we had to pick out something else.  Oh, the agony!

We picked out a couch that was definitely second fiddle to the other one, but we were limited in our choices so we settled.  We told ourselves it would do.  It didn’t.  After less than a year the cushions were wearing and it hurt my back to sit on it.  It was the joke of our family how I never sat on my couch.  After about five years, my father-in-law had mercy on me and gave us a new couch of my own choosing for Christmas.  This, of course, was a mixed blessing because it meant that we could replace our couch (Hooray!) but it also meant that we had to shop (Boo!).  Bob and I spent a couple of weeks looking around and eventually agreed on a fabric covered Lazy Boy that reclined on each end.  This brings us to present day.

Oh Boy!  Oh Lazy Boy!

Oh Boy! Oh Lazy Boy!

Even though we no longer have children at home or pets, we had the couch treated for stain resistance.  We didn’t want to take any chances.

Our new couch was delivered at 4pm on a lovely Tuesday afternoon.  That night Bob and I each poured ourselves a glass of red wine and headed to the family room to watch TV.  As he approached the couch, which is a light color (I know, what was I thinking), I felt fear rise up in my heart.  “Are you going to sit on the couch with that?” I asked.  “I just don’t want anything spilled on it the very first day.”

He gave me a reassuring look, placed his wine on the end table, and had a seat.  I guess I should mention at this point that the biggest challenge in my marriage has been stain removal.  That may surprise you as marriages are plagued by so many things – financial crisis, health issues, communication problems, child rearing problems – but those issues come and go while spilling things seems to last forever.  Now let me state that Bob is a wonderful, caring man.  He can fix just about anything and is a good provider, husband and father; but he does tend to spill…kind of a lot.

So this was the most unrelaxing glass of wine I ever had, but we got through it with no incident so I slept well thinking that my new couch had made it through its first night in our home without being spilled upon.

The next morning I smiled as I went out into the living room and saw my beautiful new couch sitting there.  I happily headed to the kitchen and poured my coffee.  With cup in hand I decided to live dangerously and sit on our new couch for my morning Bible reading.  Now, I cannot over emphasize the importance of reading your Bible in the morning, especially when you sit on your new couch, run your hand across the new fabric, and realize that there is something spilled on it – something that looks suspiciously like red wine – something that is in the general vicinity of where your husband sat the night before with a glass of wine.

Remember, this is less than 24 hours since the Lazy Boy guys set it in our living room.  I called Bob and cut right to the chase.  “Honey, there appears to be something red on the couch cushion.  Did you by any chance spill wine on it last night?”

He insisted that he did not.

“Well, something red is on the seat cushion,” I said.  “Something that I guess we could not see last night but today in the light of day it is quite evident.”

He still insisted that he didn’t spill any wine, and then he got quiet – very quiet.  “I know what it is,” he said.  “It’s blood.”  He hesitated and continued, “When I was sitting on the couch, being so careful not to spill my wine, I found myself picking at my toes.  When I went to bed I noticed that one had been bleeding a little, but I didn’t think it got on anything.  I’m so sorry.”  He apologized over and over again.  I know he felt terrible about it.

Here’s another little tidbit that might round this story out for you.  My pet peeve is picking, especially toe picking.  Hearing that click, click, click drives me crazy (and that’s not a long drive).  So, with that in mind, you can only imagine that Bob really felt badly about the whole thing.

Thankfully, I was rather composed.  I can only account that to God’s grace and how it’s hard to get angry at somebody while you are reading the Bible and while they feel so rotten about the incident anyway.  I also will admit that I did mention to Bob at that point how I hate toe-picking and the grief it causes.  I’m fairly certain that I may have said that more than once, but I didn’t get angry – not too angry anyway.  I guess I was in disbelief.

So, I headed to the computer, registered my new couch’s stain removal agreement and immediately called the hotline.  They talked me through how to remove the stain.  It worked.  It even worked the next time Bob got blood on the couch.  And, I won’t even mention the day he accidentally kicked a mug of coffee that was on the floor and splashed the contents over the front of the couch (which I also was able to get out).  It’s the baptism with fire, or in this case, red wine and coffee.

Now you can see why I didn’t want to tell you this story.  But my sweet husband insisted that he was here to serve; and that truly if this story will help one person not pick his toes while sitting on the living room furniture and, therefore, make his wife crazy, it would be worth it.  Now that’s a humble man.  It’s also a humble man who has agreed that he won’t sit on the couch unless he’s wearing socks, though I don’t expect him to hold to that agreement.  We do live in Florida, after all.  It doesn’t really matter anyway; I am a pro at stain removal.

Beware of the Couch – Part 2

Yesterday I began telling the history of couches in our family which leads up to an incident that I didn’t want to tell you about my husband.  As a reminder, he has insisted that I should tell this story in the hopes that it will help even one person.  Today I resume with our need to purchase yet another new couch.

We waited until the furniture was pretty worn out before we decided to replace it.  We had turned our living room and family room into one big room and we thought a sectional would be great.  The kids were older and the pets were no longer abusing our belongings.

I scoured furniture stores looking for the right piece.  After narrowing it down, Bob and I took all four kids, who by then had grown quite a bit, to try our sectional choices on for size.  We found the perfect one.  It fit all six of us with plenty of elbow room and it was comfortable.  Still, I was hesitant to finalize the purchase.  I will blame this on my friend, Moggie.  Moggie is adventurous in her decor and thinks out of the box.  She is one of the most creative people I know and it seems whatever idea she has works for her.  I began to ponder – What would Moggie do?  Would Moggie settle for a standard issue albeit perfectly sized couch?  No, she would make a statement.  I decided I would, too.

My statement came in the form of a blue denim couch and oversized chair that I found at a store that was more upscale than I would typically shop.  I had the salesman move the items around the store so I could see them next to each other.  I labored over the decision while poor Bob just wanted to get on with life and have a sofa he could sit on.  Finally, we made the purchase.  I was so proud of myself.  I made this decision without even asking Moggie to come down to the store to critique it.  This represented real growth for me.  I had finally arrived – I was thinking out of the box.

The furniture was delivered and I have to say, I hated it.  I don’t know what I was thinking.  There was seating only for five.  The proportion of the furniture was not right for our room.  And, the denim look was not for me.  To say that I was upset with myself is a gross understatement.  I couldn’t sleep.  I repeatedly burst into tears.  I was a mess.  The really sad part was when we went to bed that night – I  tossed and turned and lamented this stupid purchase, and I was disturbing Bob; and he had to go to work the next day.  So, I left our bedroom to try to let Bob rest, but there was no place to go.  All the bedrooms were full of sleeping children and the only place for me was the couch, and it made me cry.  How can you rest on something that upsets you so much?  The answer is – you cannot.  If I remember correctly I found refuge on the floor of our small office with a pillow and a blanket.  I felt banned from my own living room.

By the next morning I knew I had to do something.  Bob was feeling the same way, only his main concern was for my sanity and the peace of our household.  I told him that I wanted to take it back.  He left for work and said I could do whatever made me happy, but I should remember we bought it on clearance with no returns allowed and I shouldn’t get my hopes up.

I got in my car and headed for the furniture store only to be assured that the no return policy really does mean just that.  Finally I talked to the manager who must have seen my bloodshot eyes and believed that I really was losing sleep over this purchase (or perhaps had other issues he didn’t want to deal with) and he had pity on me and let me make an exchange.  I didn’t plan this and was not trying to manipulate the man, but I burst into tears.  I told him how grateful I was but there was really no other item in his store that I could picture in my house which I could afford.  This kind and I’m sure frustrated man broke the store policy and gave me a full refund.  When I got home I called Bob who to this day is still amazed at the success of this feat of desperate determination.

Before I had any more time to think about it, Bob grabbed me by the hand and drove me to the store with the standard issue sectional.  We made the purchase and lived happily with it for well over a decade.  I decided right there and then that decorating “out of the box” is not a place I should ever consider going.  It works for Moggie, but it surely would produce an ulcer in me.

Eventually our perfect sectional wore it out which meant that it was time to shop again.  I can assure you that Bob was nervous.

We decided to go leather this time.  We quickly found the couch and loveseat that we liked and bought it.  It was delivered and everybody was happy.  It looked great and was comfortable.  We all fit on it.  It was perfect and so easy this time.  Or so it seemed.

Join me tomorrow as I conclude this story and reveal the “incident” regarding our current couch which my husband has so humbly insisted I share.

Beware of the Couch – It Will Mess With You

I like to be open with you, but I have struggled with sharing the following story because it doesn’t put my husband in all too great a light.  He asked me if I was going to blog about this incident, but I told him I just couldn’t.  His humble answer, “If this will help just one person, it will be worth it.  Tell the story.”  So, with my dear husband’s permission, here goes.

It was with a mixed bag of emotions that I recently found myself waiting nervously for the delivery of our new couch.  Every time I shop for furniture I am filled with a sense of doubt over if I have chosen the right thing, and this never shows up as clearly as when a new couch is on the horizon.  Let me take you back to the history of the couch in our family.

Bob and I married in 1975 and like most people who had lived at home until they were married and also married young, we were on the poor side.  Our tiny unfurnished apartment loomed large with empty space.  Thanks to our parents, though, we did furnish it.  It was, shall we say, eclectic.  The focal points were his mom’s old sewing table, which we used for dining, and the couch from my parent’s basement.  This couch had served our family well – so well that the back legs had long given out and were replaced by Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, which Mom and Dad lovingly included with the couch.

I can only imagine how happy my parents were to unload, I mean give this to us; and we were truly happy to receive it.  After two years we had saved enough money for a replacement.  We chose one that had legs on all four corners – we were big time.  Along with the couch, we purchased a matching love seat.

At that point in our life I worked for the Social Security Administration and Bob was going to school full-time.  I had contracted baby fever, a condition that carried the possibility of slowing down Bob’s exit from school with a diploma in hand, so we devised a plan to put a Band-Aid on my condition.  We got a puppy.

Blondie was adorable – a little ball of golden fur.  We loved having her and hated leaving her each day as we went to work and school.  When we left the house we blocked her in the kitchen with a few chew toys and her bed and went about our day.  Typically, Bob returned home before I did and I would call him from work when I was getting ready to leave (this was before the days of cell phones, of course).  That particular day Bob seemed as normal as ever with not even a hint of trouble in his voice.

If you look closely you can see the corner is chewed up.  Blondie is asking if I forgive her yet.

If you look closely you can see the corner is chewed up. Blondie is asking if I forgive her yet.

When I walked into our apartment, Bob was bent over the sewing machine with a worried look in his eye.  Cute little Blondie had escaped from the kitchen and chewed every cushion, as well as the frame, of our new couch.  I think Bob thought I was going to kill her.  He may have been right.  He was finishing up mending the last cushion as I came in the door.  I wish I could tell you it looked as good as new, but it didn’t.  The best I can say is – it wasn’t awful.

It took me a while to get over this.  I reminded myself that it was just furniture, things, stuff.  Stuff that we had saved for two years to buy.  Stuff that still had the aroma of new furniture.  Stuff that I wanted to bludgeon my dog with.   You know, stuff.

Six years later we were moving into a new house and decided it was time to replace the couch.  No more bite marks!  Hooray.  We bought a great couch and matching recliner with durable fabric that would function well with our growing family (two kids, a cat and, amazingly, the same dog).  The dog hadn’t chewed anything for years so I was no longer worried about her.

In a matter of a few years we had grown by two more kids and another couple of cats.  The cats made their mark on our furniture this time.  They looked at our recliner as a scratching post so I traded chew marks for shredded fabric along the back of our chair.  By this time, it didn’t bother me as much.  I was getting used to things being torn, stained and even puked on.  I was becoming an expert at stain removal, which was going to serve my husband well in the future and keep me from strangling him.

Tune in tomorrow when I will resume the story that I didn’t want to tell you about my husband.

Valentine’s Day – It’s Not for the Faint of Heart

Did I tell you about Bob and me getting cussed out by popular British singer/songwriter Adele?  It was the culmination of a typical Valentine’s Day.  First we went out to dinner where we were forced to eat inside a loud, crowded restaurant due to our plans for alfresco dining being washed out by heavy rain.  After eating we headed to the parking lot only to witness somebody back into our car and drive off totally oblivious.  (There was no damage, so we just chalked it up to Reason #14 of Why We Don’t Like Going Out on Valentine’s Day.)

Earlier we considered going to see the movie Identity Thief, but on discovering that it has about 50 f-words in it, we decided against it.  So, Bob surprised me with Adele Live at The Royal Albert Hall, thinking we could enjoy a DVD concert at home.  Now, there is a bit of a language barrier between citizens of the U.S. and those of Great Britain, so it took me a few minutes to realize that Adele cusses like a sailor.  We likely would have been less verbally assaulted by going to see Identity Thief.  (This is an example of Reason #48 of Why Valentine’s Day Never Turns Out Like You Plan.)

So, here is a summary of our Valentine’s Day:

  • We ate dinner in a crowded restaurant at a folding table.
  • We couldn’t hear each other talk.
  • Somebody backed into our car.
  • We were cussed out by Adele.

Not the worst Valentine’s Day we ever had!  Next year I think we’ll stay home, order pizza and watch a movie.  Maybe by then Identity Thief will be on TBS.

He’s Making a List (on an Excel Spreadsheet) and Checking It Twice

It’s Christmastime again and there is no better season to be married to an engineer.  He comes in so handy.  This will be Bob’s and my 38th Christmas together as husband and wife, so I know what I’m talking about.

Each year, Bob and I sit down together to form our gift giving list.  In the early days of our marriage we would do this on paper.  In those pre-computer days Bob wrote down everything on graph paper.  This drove me crazy and may be the root of some of my problems with confined spaces.  I don’t like writing in tiny boxes, and I’m a little claustrophobic.  But my main problem was how do you use cursive handwriting on graph paper?  The answer is – you don’t.  Engineers don’t use cursive handwriting.  They print everything, which is good because when they do have to write something in cursive, for example their signature, you can’t read it.  Give them a piece of graph paper though and order and legibility return.

In order to keep me from having a bad attitude and possibly being placed on the Naughty List, we developed a system where I wrote everything down on regular paper.  At Bob’s suggestion, we used columns – person, gift, cost, etc.  I would check things off as we bought a gift and line through items after wrapping them.

This brings me to the present day.  Bob now creates the bones of our gift giving list.  He no longer uses graph paper.  He is much more current than that.  He uses an Excel Spreadsheet.  The first time he attempted this new-fangled way of keeping track of things, I balked at it.  I pulled out my yellow pad and begged him to let me use these things called paper and pen that had been my faithful friends since I was six years old.  He relented, sort of.  He kept his spread sheet and I kept my pad of paper.  I was stubborn, as I am with most things that relate to learning/using the computer.

But, I discovered, this was not building unity in our marriage.  It was not healthy for me to continue to resist his advances (technological or otherwise).  He waited patiently until I finally caved.  Now we happily use the spread sheet exclusively.  I look at it as a way to spread (sheet) peace on earth and bless Bob.  And, please don’t tell Bob this, it is very efficient.  In case you are thinking about trying to find our list, it is disguised in his computer files under a phony name.  You’ll never find it.  Trust me, I can’t even find it.  I know it’s there, because the computer has better memory function than I do.  Again, it’s a good thing I have Bob around.

There are other ways that having an engineer around comes in handy.  He easily calculates how many strings of Christmas lights we need for the outside of the house and hangs them most efficiently.  This year when he put out our lighted Christmas moose with the head that goes back and forth, we were sad to discover that there were lights burned out around his mouth.  All it took for them to work again was Bob taking one step toward the moose.  Things fix themselves in his presence.  He’s that intimidating!

photo (107)My fiber optic winter scene had a tiny ice-skating figure broken off at the base.  Bob went into his lab/office and concocted a bonding agent (glue) to put him back on his feet.  My kids always marveled at how they would put broken toys on Bob’s desk and they would miraculously appear back in their rooms as good as new.

As a matter of fact, my granddaughters are now picking up on this.  I suppose their mom has taught them well.  We finished our last day of Grandmom School for the semester and for a treat I told the girls we were going to plan a surprise for Bumpa (Bob).  Being the simple, non-flashy guy that he is, he had mentioned to me that he really likes the Charlie Brown Christmas Tree.  The girls and I headed to CVS and bought him one and surprised him with it at his office.  They wanted a tour so he took them down in the lab and showed them around.  On seeing firsthand what he does, Mia exclaimed how this was the perfect job for him, seeing how he loves to make and fix things.  It was so sweet.

The one thing I have on him when it comes to lists at Christmas is that I used to be a secretary and I know shorthand.  So I write myself notes and ideas about what to get Bob for Christmas in that form and he can’t read it.  And, even though I have a smart phone, I still pull out my trusty paper and pen to make my list for him.  I’ve looked it over recently, but with two weeks to go before Christmas, I guess it’s time for me to check that one twice, too.

Musical Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

Cruising has its Challenges

Nassau was hot, hot, hot

Last week Bob and I celebrated our 37th anniversary.  He surprised me with a weekend cruise to the Bahamas.  We had a wonderful time together, just the two of us (if you don’t include the other 2,598 people).

Having been on a few cruises, we are now part of the Platinum Class.  I know that sounds impressive, but let me assure you, we put on our swim suits one leg at a time like the rest of you.  Just as I was getting all puffed up about my privileged status, I discovered that Platinum Class is the bottom rung of an elaborate cruising class system.  We have a long, long way to go to get to the top, but we can get there by taking more and more cruises.  It’s vicious; i.e., expensive.  Here’s the progression:  Above us lowly Platinum people are many classes – Silver, Gold, Diamond, Rock, Paper, Scissors.  Gold is better than silver.  Diamond is better still.  Rock crushes Scissors.  Paper covers Rock.  Scissors cuts Paper.  It’s all very complicated.

Getting back to our weekend, we arrived at the port and I went through security without any problems.  Bob, however, had his hat frisked.  I’m guessing something about it threw up a flag that implied he was a risky cruiser.  After being patted down, it was reunited with Bob and allowed through.

We boarded the lovely Monarch of the Seas, looking forward to our adventure.  We didn’t care what type of room we had since this was a short trip.  Even with that in mind, when we opened the door to our cabin, we discovered the smallest room I had ever seen.  We called it our statecloset.  I’m not saying it was small, but we had to go out in the hall just to change our mind.  On the positive side, Bob and I were closer than ever.

Before I go on, let me tell you that our ship was completely booked with 2600 passengers.   With that number of people in mind, you’d expect to find a few swimming pools and multiple hot tubs.  There was two of each.  They were open beginning at 4 pm on Friday until midnight that night and then from 9:00 am until midnight on Saturday and Sunday.  But using the hot tubs was tricky.  The maximum number of people in each was ten.  Have you ever tried cycling 2600 people through two hot tubs ten people at a time?  That’s quite a challenge!

Challenge accepted!  I put my math prowess to work to solve the problem.  I figured 20 percent of the people don’t care about going in the hot tub and that leaves 2,080 people in line to use 2 hot tubs with a capacity of 10 people each.  If each round in a hot tub lasts 15 minutes and I’m at the end of the line, at what time do I get a turn?

Yes, these are the things that keep me up at night.  I lie there laughing as I picture hundreds of people circling the ship while waiting in line to finally have a soak.  So here’s the deal, the first person to give me the correct answer to my question as a comment at the end of this post will win a $5 Starbucks gift card.  That’s right – Five Whole Dollars!  You already know that I don’t excel at math, so of course I’ll have Bob check the answer for me.  I’ll announce the winner in my next post.  And as a bonus, I promise not to give you any more math problems, no matter how funny I think they are.