Category Archives: All In A Day's Work

If Only We Could Wrap Their Hearts In Bubble Wrap

We attempt to protect our children from the weather, illness, accidents and the boogie man. Most of the time we are successful. Sometimes, we are not.

There is one thing that proves to be a fruitless fight.

Meanness.

“Mommy? I had a horrible day today,” #2son says to me over cantaloupe and crackers after school. I settle in for his tale of woe.

It contained the usual. Dropping his jacket in a puddle. He didn’t get to sit in his favorite seat on the bus with his favorite friend. They ran out of pizza at lunch and he had to have chicken drumsticks. Which he loves. But still.

The worst thing that happened? It was during the fire drill. They were all filing outside and a younger kid, a kid in the 1st grade, was walking ahead of #2son. They were to wait under the tree and Mr. 1stgrade moved a branch aside and looked like he was holding it for #2son to pass. But just as #2son got close, as he was smiling and starting to say thank-you, Mr. 1stgrade smiled and let the branch go. Hard. Smacking #2son in the face. And then, Mr. 1stgrade laughed.

“Why would he do that?” my son said with tears starting to fall, “That was so mean.”

The look of innocence in his eyes broke my heart. And he wasn’t crying because of the sting on his face. He was remembering the offense. He was tearing up because of the sting in his heart.

“Why was he smiling? And why did he laugh? It wasn’t funny. Nobody else laughed,” my son implored, trying to make sense of such meanness. “And he was younger than me. I was about to thank him. He doesn’t even know me. Why would he do that?” he asked again.

I had no answer. I hugged him. And said something about sad, angry people and how they lash out at others because they want people to hurt as much as they do. But it was no consolation.

And my son’s innocence was shattered.

How do we protect our children from mean people? And if we could, should we? When our oldest daughter was dealing with some mean-girl shenanigans years ago my husband said, “Better she experience this now, when we can help guide her rather than protect her and then have her experience it when she moves out, when we’re not around to help.” I suppose he’s right. Reluctantly, I agreed with him. But why do we have to experience meanness at all?

I can make him wear his seat belt or his bike helmet. I can feed him Flintstone vitamins and make sure he drinks his milk. I put him to bed at a reasonable hour. I know his friends. I read to him and he reads to me. I do everything I can to make sure he is safe and loved.

But I can’t wrap his heart in bubble wrap.

But oh, how I wish I could.

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Filed under All In A Day's Work, children, parenting

My House Is Never Cleaner Than When One Of My Kids Is Sick

“Mommy! You need to take me to the doctor,” #1son moaned from the side of the toilet.

I hate this kind of sickness. Oh, who am I kidding? I hate it any time my kids are sick.

“Why do we need to go to the doctor?” I ask, stroking his back.

“So we can find out why my guts keep coming out of my body.”

Yep. It’s that kind. The throw-up-vomit-barf kind.  And on a side note, this is my kid who spikes a 104+ fever (106.1 and a race to the ER is our record) every time he is sick.

“Pumpkin,” I tried to sound calm, “You just have a flu. A really bad flu. You need rest, liquids and more rest. You’ll be better before you know it.”

“I don’t think so,” came the feeble reply.

For five hours straight, I ran from bedroom to laundry room to cleaning cabinet to couch to bathroom to basement (to find another bucket) to laundry room to garden hose (to hose down the couch cushions) to bathroom and to laundry room. Again. We went through 3 sets of sheets, 4 sets of PJ’s, one stuffed doggy and two blankets. I could barely keep up.

In between the clean-up-sterilizing-laundry runs, I read to him, I held him, and we attempted a board game.

He finally fell asleep. I spent those precious hours cleaning, cloroxing and lysoling everything in sight. As soon as he woke up, I tackled all the noisy chores: emptying dishwasher, vacuuming and putting stuff away in his room. I started a big pot of homemade chicken noodle soup (which he hasn’t touched but the rest of the family loved) and made lime jello, his favorite.

My house is never cleaner than when someone is sick. First of all, I’m stuck in the house. Not able to sit still for long, I clean. Second, someone is sick. Out come the Clorox wipes and Lysol spray. Switchplates, doorknobs, phones, keyboards and remote controls are wiped down every hour. Third? My house better be clean before the real SHTF. Because no one else is going to do it while I’m laid up.

I woke up this morning and the laundry is caught up. Every room is vacuumed and dusted. Sinks and toilets are sparkling. You could eat off my kitchen floor. (Although, I don’t recommend it.)

My idle hands itched for something to do so I washed combs and brushes. Straightened kitchen cabinets and took a box of winter clothes to the basement. With those tasks completed I realized I was a bit beat.  I decided to sit down and catch up with all of you.

That’s when it hit me.

“Sweetie,” I called out to #1son who was reading a book in bed, “how did your flu start?”

“My head,” was the reply, “It hurt really bad. All over.”

Uh-oh.

If you don’t hear from me for the next few days, you know what hit me.

At least the house is clean.

For now.

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A Jail For All The Clutter? Great Idea! Hmmmm. But Wait…

Check out this great idea from imom.com. All of the clutter that ends up around the house goes to jail until a chore is completed from a randomly drawn Clutter Jail Community Chest card.

Sure. This is a GREAT idea.

But then I’d never leave the house because  my purse or my car keys or my favorite pair of shoes would be stuck in Clutter Jail.

At least my house would be clean.

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Laundry, Laundry, What Do You See?

Laundry, laundry, what do you see?

I see a deformed packet of Reese’s Pieces looking at me.

Jane, Jane, what do YOU see?

I see a sparkling, clean, fresh-smelling load of clothes that made it, not only through the washer intact but the dryer, too, saved by the ingenious packaging of a teeny-tiny bag of Reese’s Pieces hiding in the shirt pocket of #2son that could have spelled certain disaster if it had split open in the aforementioned washer OR dryer. But it didn’t!

Oh thank you, creators of the Reese’s Pieces packaging. (You must be moms!)

What has been your near-miss or actual laundry disaster?

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Thank You, Mom. For Saving My Life. Again.

The first time, we were hiking. On a trail we know and love but hasn’t been properly maintained. We won’t be hiking it again until the boys are older, due to the dangers that lurk, but we didn’t know this at the time.

A narrow portion of the trail with a steep drop-off.  Tree roots underfoot. A broken railing.

“Stay to the right. As close as you can,” my husband cautioned.

There was no talking. Only concentration. And then it happened. My not-so-graceful 7-year-old stumbled and tumbled over the edge. With reflexes of a Jedi, I grabbed his flailing arm. He dangled for a moment in mid-air and I yanked him toward me.

His eyes wide with fear, he said, “Mom! You saved my life!” And then tears started to well up. In both of our eyes.

…..

Yesterday. Giggling in the TV room. I walked in. Two little boys, cuddled on the couch together. One boy at each end, sharing a blanket.

As soon as I walked into the room both boys hid under the blanket. I knew something was up. I yanked the blanket off them. Their little legs were buried in Starburst wrappers. An entire bag, gone. All before 9am. Breakfast of champions.

I couldn’t help but laugh. It was a comical scene. Two little boys, sneaking candy for breakfast. Succeeding – at least until Mom walks into the room. I’m a horrible disciplinarian and I own it. With my laughter, they begin laughing, too.

And then it happened. #2son started choking.

Any first aid training I’ve ever had started racing through my mind. As long as he’s coughing, it’s OK. Don’t do anything. But the Heimlich maneuver. I know how to do it for an infant. I know how to do it for an adult. But a 7-year-old? Will I crush him? What if I don’t do it hard enough. Ok. Calm. If it gets to that point have #1son call 911.

“Can you walk?”

Eyes wide with fear he nods, yes.

“Go into the bathroom,” I direct him. I don’t know why I want him in the bathroom. I suppose because I’m envisioning squeezing the guts out of him and anticipating his vomit and offending candy all over the place. After all, I just vacuumed.

“It’s OK,” I tell him. “Keep coughing. It WILL come out.”

I don’t know how I’m staying calm. Three minutes, I remind myself. Only three minutes without oxygen. How fast can the ambulance get here?

And then it happens. He can’t cough. He looks at me, afraid, and his skin is starting to turn colors.

I shout, “Open your mouth. Wide! Wider!”

I jam my hand in his mouth and yank on a enormous gob of chewed Starburst. It’s stuck on his back teeth and blocking his airway. The coughing starts again and the huge blob lands in the sink.

He grabs me around my middle, holding me for dear life. I hold him exactly the same way.

“Thanks, Mom. For saving my life again.”

Again?

Oh. That’s right. Two months ago, on our hike.

“I hope I’m here, every single time, to save your life.” And I hug him even closer.

…..

When things like this happen. When I hear of the teenager playing hockey, who in a freak accident, is now paralyzed. When a child dies in a bicycle accident. I just want to wrap my children in bubble wrap. Or keep them at home and pad the rooms. Feed them liquids and finely diced solid food. Make wearing bicycle helmets a prerequisite for leaving the house.

But I can’t. Life is full of risk. In order to fully live, we must take risks. Every single day. Small risks. Big risks. Calculated risks. Split-second risks.

We can’t live in a bubble. And our children shouldn’t either.

But, dag gum it, I’m going to be there, every step of the way, with hands at the ready.

To save his life.

If I can.

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Filed under All In A Day's Work, children, Growing Up, Lessons Learned

Oh! The Pressure To Write So That I Can Become Famous!

On WordPress, I read about David McRaney, a WordPress blogger who garnered a book deal based on his blog.

I thought, Yay! Good for him!

Then, I read on msn.com about a writer over at cracked.com who wrote a piece about Hollywood’s inaccuracies about the work place. The piece garnered much attention, enough to be mentioned again on msn.com.

I enjoyed both articles. But it got me thinking…..

Oooooo. What if something I wrote got noticed by someone big?  How cool would that be? Oh, the hits my blog would get. I wonder how many new people would find me? How many would click that handy-dandy little subscribe button so that they could read what I’ve written every single time I post?

Every.

Single.

Post.

Oh God. They would click back here and expect another stellar piece. What would I do then?

I enjoy this writing outlet. I love sharing my inconsequential thoughts on the controversial and the mundane. But the majority of my posts are pretty boring and only interesting to a select few (other nuts) out there. And I have typos. And grammatical errors a plenty. Shoot. I’m willing to bet my former English teachers roll in their graves every time I click publish.

But I’m famous now. And I have a public to appease. So I’ll agonize and write and delete and write some more. I’ll spend hours searching the internet for new post ideas and the perfect picture to illustrate my point. The laundry would pile up. We’d eat Chef Boyardee or take-out Chinese every night. My kids would start going to school with mismatched socks and lollipops stuck in their hair. The dog would never get a walk. Dust bunnies the size of tumble weeds would turn our breakfast bar into a wild, wild west saloon.

Nope.

I can’t do it.

You’re stuck with the mostly average and the occasional stellar blog post.

So, go away you fancy, schmacy editors, you.

I just can’t handle the pressure.

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Filed under All In A Day's Work, Blogging

Just Another Day At The Office

I was having a crummy day. Nothing outstanding happened. Just the usual. Running late. Forgot to sign the permission slip. Almost late on a bill that got lost in the shuffle. (Thank God for online Bill Pay!) Out of milk. Nothing for dinner. Bank account low. Deleted a show by mistake before I actually watched it with no way to retrieve it.

Just your run-of-the-mill terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad day.

So, I called my sister.

“Hey! How’s it going?” she chirps.

I tell her. All forlorn. Waiting for the pity party to begin.

And it does. She’s great like that. After we commiserate, I ask her about her day.

Background info: She is the head administrator at an alternative school for teens.

She had to expel the girl who put the other girl into critical care Monday. A student stole copies of an upcoming test. She had an appointment with someone’s probation officer in 15 minutes. So, no time for lunch. Again. Her lead English teacher turned in her notice because she was following her husband to South Africa. And she had just finished a meeting with one of the plainclothes policemen that would be at the school tomorrow because a student posted on their Facebook page that they planned on bringing a gun to school.

Yep.

Just another day at the office.

Boy, I have it soooo good!

Please pray for all of our teachers and administrators out there. They have the toughest jobs ever!

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No. I Won’t Be Taking Medical Advice From My Neighborhood Grocery Store Bagger, Thank You Very Much.

I love my beloved Publix store. I love their BOGOs. I love their produce. I love their Publix brand products. I love their employment policy and how they employ the disabled. I love the cashiers and most of the baggers.

Ok. Make that…

All of the baggers, except one.

I don’t dislike him. I don’t dislike how he bags my groceries.

I dislike his small talk.

I’m sure his personal challenge involves social skills. I commend Publix for putting him in a social position so he can work on these skills. But he irks me, all the same.

“I don’t know what this is but I find that Melatonin 2.5 milligrams works best for me when I need to get to sleep,” he says, holding up my box of natural sleep-aid for the world to see.

I know. Having difficulty sleeping is not a tragic secret never to be revealed. But my kid was standing right there. Maybe I don’t want my kid to know I’m popping pills to sleep. And maybe I don’t want to take medical advice from my neighborhood grocery bagger.

“Did you know this is loaded with hydrogenated oils,” he lectures, holding up my can of Reddi-Whip (and it doesn’t, by the way) “Hydrogenated oils are really bad for you.”

“Do you really like this?” He’s holding my box of Kashi cereal. “I think it tastes like twigs.”

“My dog hates these things.” He’s holding my package of Pedigree Jumbones. “You should try rawhides. They last longer.”

Ahhh, no. Rawhides aren’t the best thing for dogs. But I keep my mouth shut. I remember what happened last time.

We were walking to my car. He insisted, despite my protests, on loading my groceries. (At Publix, they’re all trained to push your cart to the car.)

“What a beautiful, sunny day,” I comment. It’s an innocuous statement. It’s sunny. It’s warm. I figured it was a safe statement.

No.

He then goes into a tirade about our drought (this was a few summers ago) and the adverse effect it’s having on our environment and how people continue to waste water and how the fines should be steeper and on and on and on.

And on.

Yes. I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut with this particular bagger.

And I firmly, very firmly, grasp the shopping cart when he insists on taking my bags to the car.

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It Was A Scene Straight Out Of Law And Order

“Hang up the phone and step away from  the computer!”

In a hushed tone she says, “I’m going to have to put you on hold for a moment.”

Click.

And then, Muzak. With an announcement every minute or so, “Your call is important to us. Someone will be with you shortly.”

I wait. And I wait. And I wait some more. I’d hang up but we were right in the middle of my insurance application. The verification process. You know, when you let them know that no one in your household has cancer, AIDS or the dreaded hangnail. I don’t want to start the process all over again. I want to get this over with. Now.

But ten minutes goes by and now I’m starting to analyze what I heard. I’ve already processed that it was an odd thing to hear in the background. Was I imagining it? Do I watch too many crime shows? Or maybe someone is going postal on my new (fingers crossed!) insurance company.

I can’t hang up. I don’t have a call back number. I was transferred to her phone. Ah, but I do have the phone number of the original agent. I pick up my cell (keeping underwriter lady on speaker on the land line) and  dial his number. It goes straight to voicemail. Sheepishly, I tell him I’m probably imagining things but there might be something going on in the underwriting office. Maybe someone should check it out or call 911?

I wait. And I wait some more. A full 45 minutes I wait and then give up. I turn on the television to see if there is any breaking news of a mad gunman in the area. Nothing.

I tell my husband and he cracks up. “You watch way too much crime TV. It was probably the IT guy coming to fix the computer.” He’s probably right. Earlier in the conversation she had to call me back because of some problems with her computer. Boy, do I have an imagination.

But then, the next morning, I get a call from my new (hopefully!) agent. I apologize for my voicemail message, embarrassed at my overreaction.

He says, “No, I need to apologize to you. I’m so sorry that happened to your call. But you were partly right. It WAS a scene right out of Law and Order.”

He goes on to explain that apparently, a disgruntled former employee reported that there was only one agent out of 80 that was actually licensed. And since they are  a company that deals with people all over the country, that’s a federal offense. And apparently, this warranted the FBI and the local SWAT team to come in with guns raised to check it out.

But after interviewing 30 of the 80 employees and finding out that yes, indeed, they were all card-carrying, legitimate insurance agents they let them all go home. Shame on that former employee for making the bogus claim. But she got what she wanted. A little revenge, shutting down the company for a day. Lost revenue and all. I hope they sue her.

“Hang up the phone and step away from the computer.”

Yep.

Just call me Detective Jane.

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Filed under All In A Day's Work, funny

I Think My Neighbors Are Stalking Me. And This Time, They Have Just Cause.

Or at least they’ve found me out.

You know my obsession with clean trash cans? (No? Read about it here. It’s ok. We’ll wait.)

And you’re well aware of my fascination with Google search terms. (Here and here. Again, take your time. We’re a patient bunch.)

Well, apparently, people are still finding my blog when they search for: random acts of kindness (A number of posts on this topic as it is near and dear to my heart), burka (Just one post on this topic, I promise), traffic signals, josef albers, joy suckers (Hey! That’s just mean!), wrinkled boobs (Even meaner!), hornyteens (Written just like that, all one word — and I’ll say it again. Ewwwwww!) and now……..

Wait for it……

wait for it…..

OCD About Trash Cans.

Wait! I can explain.

It’s just that we recently had another incident. And this time, it was my husband’s fault.

You see, I’ve turned #1son into an OCDer. Fingers crossed that he’s come by it honestly. He’s my son through adoption so I’m hoping it’s nature, not nurture. Because I know how debilitating OCD can be. And I shudder to think that I’m the cause. And I don’t want to see him on Dr. Phil in 20 years, shouting to the world that it’s all my fault. But I digress….

We, meaning my #1son and I, had just cleaned the trash cans last week. He was helping me pull them to the house and he said, ever so sweetly, “Mom? These cans are stinky. Maybe we should clean them out?”

Ahhhh. He warms the cockles of my heart.

So, we got to it. Spraying. Lysoling. Spraying some more. Air drying. It was heaven.

Sparkling clean trash and recycling cans tucked safely away in the garage.

Check.

This week, I went to the curb and grabbed the trash can handle.

Ouch!

Something bit me.

I look down and the handle, the ridge of the can and inside the can is covered with red ants. Upon further discovery, the bottom of the can is swimming with sweet, sticky liquid. Could it be……beer?

I don’t drink beer. My kids don’t drink beer. My husband. He drinks beer. And he broke rule # 173: Do not put loose trash in the trash can and rule #92: Put recyclables in the recycling bin. (Duh!)

So, two weeks in a row, I’m outside, cleaning the trash bin. And my neighbors saw me.

And the very next morning, in my WordPress Site Stats, I find that someone has found my blog by searching: OCD about trash cans.

Oh. I am so busted.

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Filed under All In A Day's Work, funny, How We Roll