Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Road Trip From Hell

As it turns out, I happen to be one of the luckiest people in the world.  I have a cousin who lives in a condo at the beach.  In Malibu, no less.  Plus, he lets us come and visit any time we want!  The only catch is the 7 hour drive to get there.  But having done it numerous times, I have it down to a system that works well.  Or works well for me at least.  

So, spring break rolls around and I decide we should head for the beach.  Only this time The Hubs decides he will take some time off work and come too.  It's been 5 years since he came out here and that was with just me when we drove the PCH up to Monterey, so this is a new thing.  I'm used to making this drive with The Spawn and My Mother (in case you didn't know, we are one of those multi-generational households).  They know the system.  I will admit they probably don't like it, but they know it.  The Hubs on the other hand adds a whole new dimension.  Having traveled with him for the last 23 years, I know what to expect,  and it won't fit in with the system well.  The two of us look at just about everything from opposite ends of the spectrum.  It works for us.  But mostly is works because my husband has the patience of a saint and is well liked by everyone that crosses his path.  Me? No so much.  So knowing in advance how this is going to go I decide it will be Ok because... 

I can be flexible. 

I repeat that to myself like some sort of mantra.  Maybe like a chant?  I don't know, but I repeat it a lot anyway. 

The system works like this......get up at 7, eat breakfast and leave by 8.  Pack your own water bottles and snacks.  Stop for gas near a Starbucks.  Drive 4 hours to Cabazon. There's an outlet mall with a gas station, a Starbucks and a McDonalds.  Then head through L.A. BEFORE 2:30 and miss the traffic.  Up the PCH and there by 3.  Done.  I am willing to
concede to some extra bathroom stops due to the fact that Thing 1 has a bladder the size of a walnut and my mother is 74.  But NONE in the city.  All peeing must be done before that.  I
speed recklessly all the way and we have done this trip in as little as 6 hours and not usually longer than 7.  Commit that little factoid to memory, because it will become important in a minute.

Back when I still had hope

So, we leave the house at 8:05.  This makes me feel good.  This turns out to be last thing that will go right.  The Spawn decide that we should stop and eat breakfast.  Now, they know the system, but they also know that with Dad around, all those "rules" are out the window.  I knew this was coming the night before and I just took a deep breath and reminded myself that I can be flexible.  At this point we area 4 miles from our house.  After breakfast, they all pee.  I am thinking that now we will be good to go.  Hahahahahahahah. We stop for gas.  But my husband has never met a mini-mart he didn't like, so he has to go in for soda and snacks.  Even though we just ate breakfast.  And a chat with the people in line, maybe a visit with the lady behind the counter.  You get the picture.  Today's visit included a cute little boy who had 2 open heart surgeries and leaving his grandmother in tears after explaining it all to The Hubs.  

I am not making ANY of this up.

Then, we stop at Starbucks.  By now we have gone maybe 30 miles.  The Hubs and Thing 1 troop inside to pee again. We are now running and hour and a half late, but I can be flexible, right?  I am concerned about traffic but I figure if I drive at 90 m.p.h. we can get through L.A. by 3 and that will suffice.  I am clearly delusional.

A mere 70 miles later, Thing 1 has to pee.  Again.  So we stop at a rest stop.  I pee because is my sad, silly little mind, this will be the last stop for a looooong time, dammit!  When I come out of the bathroom I see Thing 1 over by the vending machines so I wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Then, thinking he must have been on his way to the restroom with The Hubs, I go back to the car.  The Hubs is sitting in the drivers seat.  Still no appearance by the boy. I'm pretty sure he hasn't been kidnapped, because who wants a punked out 17 year old, seriously?  But I hike back to the other side of the vending machine and find him, inserting the same $3 over and over again trying to buy a monster energy drink.  For 10 minutes this has been going on.  Im trying to get him to leave but he insists on trying 3 more times.  I breathe in and breathe out.  Then I tell him we can stop at the next truck stop and buy a damn drink!  We leave with The Hubs driving.  God love him, my husband drives like a 80 year old on her way to church.  This is interfering with my time schedule since he is not going 90.  Or even 85.  Breathe in, breathe out.  I am flexible.

We go all of 20 miles to Quartzsite and stop at a gas station for the drink.  The Hubs wants to go look in a rock store, but I nix that idea.  I nix it gently and semi-flexibly, but I nix it. Thing 1 now starts making noise about driving some too.  We manage to go another 30 miles.  This trip is 417 miles.  I am dying, but trying to remain flexible.  I feel myself "unflexing" as The Hubs says " I don't want to sit in front with him and monitor the driving, but if I sit in the back I'll get car sick" Yup.  In a not so gentle way I say "Well, life is made of choices.  Figure it out."  He opts for the back and I believe it's mostly to get away from me. We change drivers at a rest stop.  THEY PEE AGAIN.  Thing 1 gets in to drive.  I warn him that we are crossing a desert and it is HIGHLY windy this day, but he doesn't care.  He wants to drive so he can force all of us to listen to his new CD's.  He is really excited about this and I cant figure out why.  We keep talking and it comes to me....  I say "Are these the first CD's you have ever bought?"  Yes!  Everything has been downloaded up until now.  Jesus, Mary and Joseph, give me flexibility. 

As we progress I learn a few things about his driving.  He has been driving for 2 years, but since the first 6 months when he had a permit, I haven't really ridden with him.  He is still very much a law abider when it comes to speed limit.  I feel the minutes slipping away with each mile.  The other thing I notice is that he hugs the line on the left hand side of the road, which on I-10 with all the long haul truckers is the shoulder.  To the point where he is running over the warning reflectors every few minutes.  So I end up repeatedly telling him to move over.  Until it becomes MOVE OVER.  Finally, after the fifth time, I said "YOU REALIZE THAT AT THIS SPEED IF WE GO OFF THIS ROAD WE ARE GOING TO SHOOT INTO THE MIDDLE AND CRASH AND WE WILL ALL DIE, RIGHT???"  Admittedly a little dramatic, but flexible is one thing, survival is another. That puts an end to the shoulder hugging.

Thing 1 makes it 49 miles before his foot is tired and he needs to stop and stretch.  At a mini-mart.  And they all go in and pee and get snacks. AGAIN.  I breathe in, I breathe out.  It's no longer working for me though.  Allow me to add the fact that Thing 2 has not left the car at any of these stops.  God bless her, she's a camel.  

He keeps driving.  We still haven't made it to Cabazon, which was supposed to be our first stop, not our 79th.  As we approach Cabazon, I start to contemplate the fact that this outlet mall is usually packed, that the only way in is through 2 roundabouts and that The Hubs likes to shop.  At that point I feel it.  Im pretty sure you could even hear it.  

SNAP!  Flexibility has left the building.

I start looking around the highway.  Theres some little desert town with a gas station sign and I tell Thing 1 "Pull in there.  We are getting gas and switching drivers".  Done and done. Of course the lunch grumbling has begun because the numerous stops for coke and corn nuts have not satiated them.  Fine, I pick THAT gas station with the Jack In The Box drive thru across the street.  While the gas is filling The Hubs goes in for soda and a chat about the year-round weather of this particular area.  Then, finally, we are back on the road. Again.

We get all the way to West Covina before they need another pee break.  Its been 61 miles since the last pee break which was the stop BEFORE the food and gas stop.  I am starting to believe that I could WALK TO THE BEACH FASTER THAN THIS.  As they are in the grocery store, Thing 2 chimes up from the back.  Without looking up from her phone she flatly states "These people of yours are weak".  YES!  Now I know I'm not crazy but that this is indeed excessive!  As they get back into the car my mother says to Thing 1..."Would you like a drink of water?" and I nearly lose whats left of my mind.  "WHY ARE YOU OFFERING HIM WATER???  WE ARE NOT STOPPING AGAIN!"

The Hubs is now sitting in front with me and we have hours to go.  But I am now, well, let's just say less than pleasant.  So he decides to make conversation by asking completely random questions that he is sure cannot possibly set me off.  These are the questions, and please keep in mind, I AM NOT MAKING ANY OF THIS UP....

Do you think there will be another major volcano explosion in the US like Mt. St. Helens?
In our lifetime?
How many police officers do you think there are in L.A.?
How many do you think are working at any given time?
How much do you think the average cost of a home in Yucaipa is?
What do you think the circulation os the L.A. Times is?

Every one of these is followed by an extensive use of Siri and Google to determine the answer.  So, in case you are wondering, I can tell you the 10 most dangerous active volcanos in the US. (Kileuea is #1), there are 12k members of the LAPD, roughly 9k and change are patrol officers, 2k and change are civilians, its the 3rd largest municipal force in the country and all 10 of the dangerous volcanos are in No. California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii.  I forget the newspaper details.

As we pull into downtown L.A. the traffic on every single freeway in every direction is stopped and packed, except ours!  I'm starting to think God has heard my prayers and the universe has taken pity on me, but someone forgot to inform the guy in the green Jeep, who decided to flip the damn thing during rush hour.

Finally, NINE AND A HALF HOURS AFTER WE LEFT HOME, we arrive.  All I want to do is DRINK WINE, but it's still Lent, so I can't.  I stand in the liquor department of the grocery store on the corner contemplating the fact that Jesus died to forgive our sins, so surely if I downed a bottle of wine and said sorry, he would understand, right?  But I don't.  

Some things are worth the wait...

Thing 2 is as exhausted as I am and asks "Whats for dinner Mom?"  I say to her "At this point honey I think we just need to order a pizza" and she replies..."Oh Thank God you speak teenager!"

We get to do the whole thing again in 4 days.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Mom vs. Mothra

Let me preface this story with this...

Everyone has their "things".  I, for instance, do NOT like spiders.  Not even sort of.  Im the type that would have to move if there was a spider birth in my home.  My sister in law? They don't bother her at all.  On the other hand, she has a "thing" for moths.  They don't bother me much.  I don't love them, but I can live.  Onward.....

So, here in the desert, we are in full bloom.  Flowers, trees, pollen, pollen, pollen.  I don't have frequent allergies, but a spring like this can do anyone in and I have been suffering greatly.  Worse, one of the only things that helps me is Benadryl, which is crap medication. The other night I just couldn't take it any more.  I was on the verge of gouging my eyes out and it was seeming like a really good idea, so I caved and took 2 Benadryl.

About 20 minutes later, at about 10:30pm, someone appears in my doorway.  It's Thing 1.  20 minutes, in case you are wondering, is just about enough time for the benadryl to make you really sleepy and a little loopy.  He is claiming he needs some help, as there is a "GIANT moth in my room".  Apparently he takes after my sister in law.  

So, sleepy as I am, I tell him to go downstairs and "get the know what I mean, right?"  Im trying to say flyswatter, but I can't find the words.  He gets it and we proceed to his room.  Upon arriving I ask him where it is, but he doesn't know because he ran out and won't go back in and check.  So I start looking around and 


He wasn't kidding when he said GIANT!  The thing is the size of a small hummingbird.  Of course, my drug addled brain thinks this is kind of funny.  All I can think as it's flying around the room is "Wow, his room is on the second floor, all the way in the back.  How did this thing get up here?"  It is flying around in this completely random pattern, as moths do, and I really can't think of any way to smash it, so I just start swinging, tennis style, at it.  Thing 1 is standing in the hall.  Then, on maybe the fourth swing, CRACK!  I hit it.  Did I mention the benadryl and how it makes one loopy?  Well, Im so thrilled with myself I throw my hands up in the air and turn to Thing 1 and say "DID YOU SEE THAT?  I GOT IT!!!"  He is not impressed.  If the look on his face was translated into words, it would have been something like " OMG crazy person, I do NOT care, just KILL IT"  It is the closest I have ever seen to someone actually crawling out of their skin.  

So I do what any good mother would do.....I laugh at him.

                                                    His "not amused" face.
But, unfortunately, the damn thing is still very much alive, because did I mention it's extra large size?  So it starts flying around again and I start swinging, and even though I might as well be drunk by now, I smash it again!  And again, up with the arms!  "YES!  I HAVE MAD NINJA SKILLS!"  He is still not amused and now his eyes are shooting daggers.  Turns out that its stunned and wounded and lying on his pillow!

"Umm...yeah.  So what happens if I whack it on your bed?"  I ask.


So, instead of smashing it, I get some toilet paper and scoop it up and RUN to the bathroom and flush it.  

Having saved my child from certain death, and being quite out of it due to the allergy pills, I walk back into my bedroom intent on passing out, flush with victory. Right when my husband exits the bathroom and looks at me and says....

"Where were you?"

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Root of All Evil.......

I bet you didn't know that the Bible doesn't actually say that money is the root of all evil.  Or maybe you did.  What is really says is that the LOVE of money is the root of all evil.  That, however, was thousands of years ago.  I propose that today, there is a new love that is at the root of all evil.  I believe this from several years of observing my kids in action.  Money doesn't motivate them the way it should.  Parental failing?  Could be, there are many. Or it could be that they have a new love, one that's more like an addiction to be totally honest, that has supplanted the love of money.  

It is the love of the cell phone.

And it brings with it ALL MANNER OF EVIL!

Breakfast takes a lot longer to eat when you are engrossed 
in You Tube videos

Oh sure, you need money for a cell phone, but in that case, money is just a tool, as it should be.  The real love is the phone itself.  Especially a "smart" phone, which in our case means iPhones.  They are the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and End of all things to my people. Unfortunately for them they have a mother who uses her wonderful gadget for exactly 3 things......Facebook, Candy Crush and making phone calls.  I hate trying to use it for anything else.  Its too small.  I like my computer and if I can at all get to it to look things up etc., I will.  I'm old like that.

My people are not old.  As a matter of fact, these darn things have been a way of life for them.  They don't know what it's like to exist in a world where everything isn't available for you instantly just by checking the device in your pocket.  Living like this has not done them any favors.

They will never know the problem of calling a friend and receiving no answer and figuring "oh well....guess I'll talk to them tomorrow at school."  No, these friends can be texted, and if that fails (horrors!) they are sure to call you back in a minute or two with a story that goes something like this..."I don't know!  For some reason my phone didn't ring???" Because it's important to provide a reason for why you were not instantly available!  

They don't know how to look things up in a book either.  It's something that has to be taught in schools now rather than something you learned because you had to in order to get by! No conversations lasting ages about who played BJ on the TV show M*A*S*H, or an hour long debate about who Woodrow Wilson's VP was.  Nope.  That can now be dispatched in seconds, the answers delivered to you by someone named Siri, who may have a lot of facts at her disposal, but sucks at directions.  Which is a shame, since they can't read a map either.  If she directs them 200 miles into the desert while they are looking for the nearest Starbucks, they will go.

Watching TV--note Thing 2 checking her phone

Then there are the apps.....Instagram, Snapchat, Kik.  This is where the evil truly lurks.  We had a snapchat incident this week that involved me calling some teenage trouble maker and explaining to her that I was NOT amused by her choice of photos and then dragging the school counselor into it because no one knows how to reach anyones parents anymore!

So, in our home, the phone has become a weapon.  MY weapon.  

The Mom giveth and the Mom taketh away.  Praise the Mom.

I do not have to ground my kids.  Without a phone, they are utterly paralyzed.  It would be funny if it wasn't so pathetic.  Oh, who am I kidding, it's really funny!  They are completely lost.  It's like if you just woke up one morning with a limb missing.  You are still alive and well, but you are now really slow and trying to make adjustments that seem impossible for the untrained.  They cant reach anyone because they don't know their phone number, they cant text, they have to try to figure out problems with only the information in their brains. They panic over the most ridiculous things...

"Mom, do you have any idea how many texts I probably have by now??"  

The Mom does not care about texts.

"Mom, how am I supposed to take pictures?"

The Mom does not care about pictures.

"Mom, how am I supposed to listen to my music??"

The Mom thinks your music is awful.  She will gladly loan you some 80's CD's though.

"Mom, I took a picture of the homework assignment on the board and I need it!"

Call a friend....ooops!  No number?  The Mom thinks it sucks to be you.

Mean? Maybe. But then a magical thing starts to happen.  Slowly but surely, they start to become real people again.  They have conversations.  With me.  They go places.  With me. (ok, I know its because they have nothing else to do but so what?)  They do things. Outside. The best part though, is that they actually become nicer.  They are more relaxed and more fun.  Life just seems all around better.  The constant barrage of all things, many of them negative, stops, and they can breathe and enjoy life again.

Of course, all good things must end.  After the appointed time for punishment of whatever infraction they committed has passed and after many discussions about how much better they are, their attitude is, blah, blah, blah, they get the phone back.  Its almost like a switch is flipped.  

Lucky for me, the next infraction is never far behind.

Monday, March 2, 2015

And There She Was

Today is Thing 2's birthday.  She is 14.  Can I tell you how much I miss the littles?  The Disney channel during the DAY (not that garbage they show in the afternoon and evenings!), storytime at the library, snuggles before bed, the whole bit.

In honor of this day, I am going to tell you my favorite story about her birth......don't worry, it won't get gross.

I had an elective c-section after having had an emergency one with Thing 1.  The whole thing was very well planned.  I had an appointment to have her at 3pm (an appointment! so awesome!) So at the appointed time, in to the surgery suite we went. The anesthesiologist was the neatest guy and he was sitting right by my head just chatting me up the whole time, kind of like a little play-by-play, because when your having a c-section you cannot see or feel anything.

So, they pull her out and she starts crying. (btw, it's now 3:06.  Did I mention that appointments are awesome?!)

Then they take her over to the little layette thing where they do the Apgar scores and she is still crying and I still cant see anything because my Dr. is busy putting all my parts back inside my body and sewing me up (ok, maybe a tiny bit gross).  

At this point the anesthesiologist was laughing and he says this to me......

"Boy, she is REALLY giving them the business over there!"

14 years later and the more things change, the more they stay the same!