Where Technology Seriously Fails us… (or How the FAA Screwed Up)

Technology is an amazing thing and I don’t for one second belittle it, underestimate it or not appreciate absolutely everything about it. Without it we would all be lost. How did we ever survive without voicemail, instant messenging, dvr (digital video recorders), navigation devices in our cars and on our telephones. Even a dummy like me can navigate the web and create a blog. Everything has been done for us. It still amazes me that I can text a message to my husband in another state and get a reply instantly. Other daily necessities, of course, rely on technology too… ATM machines and any transaction made at a store without cash, using a debit or credit card. Online bill paying has become, not only a more efficient way to pay bills, but it’s much more economical. There are no charges (if you do get charged for such) for each handwritten check. For each bill you pay online you save 41 cents (has it gone up again?), and you waste a heck of a lot less paper. Online banking is a good thing, personally and environmentally. I will not digress anymore… But heck, do people still walk around with cash in their wallets? Without my cell phone I would be utterly lost these days. I rarely use the phone at home any more. I simply am never there when I remember that important phone call to be made, or the baby is napping and his sleep is worth my time in gold around here. So I rely on Bluetooth technology. As soon as I get into my car, my phone automatically synchronizes itself to the car I can talk on my phone hands-free while driving. (It is illegal to talk on the phone while driving in Connecticut, though many still do.) New telephones amaze me too. There is a new one that is a mini computer, phone, camera and video camera all in one.

Even the weathermen rely on our advanced technology and depending on which TV station in the New York area you are watching, you have Doppler 2000, Doppler 4000, Doppler 5000 and Doppler 7000… each one better than the other, of course! So, since we now can detect precisely where and at which time lightning will strike, why can’t the airlines better prepare for such said lightning strikes?

Don was to go to Columbus, Ohio yesterday. His flight was due to take off at 5:30 EDT and arrive at Port Columbus two hours later. Fifteen minutes after the plane boarded the Pilot, or Captain, or whatever he is called these days, announced that the airport they were due to fly into was closed due to inclement weather. A short while later, while grounded on the runway of Laguardia Airport in New York, the passengers were then told that they would have to wait because the storm was moving in an easterly direction. At 10:30pm, yes you read that right, the PilotCaptain then told his passengers that they would not be flying. The crew had reached their hourly limit, and the inclement weather was still headed in their direction.

Thanks to modern technology my husband has the capability to text me and keep me posted as to what’s going on… So, my point is this. In this age of internet and super-intelligence my husband can send a written message to me on my cell phone but our aviation system, yes the FAA, can not send out a few text messages to the airlines, which in turn can not text their pilots informing them that the weather is crappy or dangerous or that airports are shut down? Why not? Really, I mean why not? Think of how much money, time and precious energy would have been saved if the FAA had simply text-messaged the airlines and aircraft? My gosh, I wonder how much gas and electricity was wasted last night? We had thirty planes waiting for take-off for 4 hours on the runway, then another hour to wait to get to the gate since there were not enough gates to accommodate all the planes. This is just one airport? How many other runways were clogged by gas-guzzling engines waiting to take off? I admit off the bat that I stink at math, but if anyone else wants to do some research and take a stab at this, I would love to hear the answer!

We are equipped to detonate bombs, foil terrorists plots and toss them in the slammer but we are not equipped to deal with the damned weather. We have supersensitive Xray systems that can detect a trace of explosive smaller than a grain of sand, but we are not equipped to deal with the damned weather.

My husband, stuck on that plane, says it’s no one’s fault… Weather happens. I say bullcrap… Yes, weather happens, but we have the technology and the know how, just not the smarts, to treat people and their time with more respect. I would much rather be grounded at the terminal where I could walk around, get some food or a Starbucks or a stiff drink and use some lavatories without a hundred people waiting on line with me. I would rather wait at my designated gate than sit on the cramped and overcrowded aircraft waiting to get thrombosis in my leg, for it to then travel up to my lungs and kill me. I don’t have the answers, but there has to be a better system than this.

Whosits, whatnots and whatshisface

I am fried. My brain is fried. That egg in a frying pan is not a brain on drugs, it’s the brain of a mom with three kids. I can not think straight, see straight and apparently I can not talk straight either. I can never get my kids names straight. I mix them up and mess them up all the time. We have a Rebecca, Christopher and Alexander. We have a Mookie, Griffie, Owie, Zowie, Boo Boo. Who knows which name will come flowing from my mouth at any given moment. I may turn around and see Alexander sticking his fingers in the outlet when I shout out “Rebecca, stop it! Stop it now!” At first, I confess this really confused the heck outta the kids. Let’s not even go into the mixing up the genders and names, but now they have adjusted well. So I may have blurted out Rebecca’s name, but she continued doing whatever it was she was doing and the child who was incidentally thisclose to getting electrocuted stopped what he was doing. Christopher never hears anything, so it doesn’t matter what I call him. He is always in some sort of zone… when he is not in a zone he ignores me, so does it really matter what I call him? I am so lucky I have only 3 children. Honestly, I have no idea what I would do if I had more. Maybe I would number them instead. Like Doctor Seuss, I would have my Things. Thing One, Thing Two, Thing Three and so on and so on and so on. But knowing me I would get those numbers all screwed up too. So while I really meant to reprimand Thing One, poor Thing Seventeen was sent up to her room. Speaking of Seventeen… I honestly want to know how Ol’ Mrs. Duggar (and you can not even pretend to claim you have no idea who the heck she is) remembers the names of her children. Not only does she have seventeen of them, but by gosh, all the names begin with the same letter!

Names were given as a means of identifying people and I wonder who this person was and if he had children and whether he ever one of them by the wrong name. (I am absolutely certain it must have been a man, you see, because I know a woman would have found a better method… unless she had born at least three children already and her brain cells were shot…)

Sometimes it really is better to say Hey There! Or, You! Not only have I developed an inability to remember my kids names, but apparently the few brain cells I have left are rapidly dying because yesterday I was sitting on the grass at the playground with the kids after school talking to a friend. We were trying to arrange a play date for the boys — easy to say boys as there are no names involved. And for the life of me I could not remember her kid’s name. Her kid is a very good friend to my kid — my eldest male offspring… and I called him, not my kid, but the friend’s kid, Whatshisface! I called another boy Whatshisface! And the best part is that she has just one child. One little name, which came back to me, Henry. That’s it. One kid to shout at. One kid to nag… one kid to tell it’s time to go to bed or get up or eat breakfast. One kid. One name. One easy name. One easy monosyllabic name. Henry. Henry get up. Henry get dressed. Henry do this. Henry do that. Man, my friend Sally just doesn’t know how good she’s got it… perhaps George Forman was on to something after all!

Always Running out of time…

I don’t think I need a lesson in time management. I really don’t. I budget my time, allow for mishaps and whatnots and still, we never have enough time. Admittedly, I do much better on my own than when burdened with three people below four feet, but still. Take today, for example. I am up at 5:oo am. This was partially by choice. A headache got me up and out of bed and then I decided to stay up so I could get some stuff done before school. I had to run a load of washing because when I went to pull out Christopher’s clothes for today (he wears a uniform) he had no clean beige shorts. (With tempurates in the high 80’s I am not sending my kid into school in long pants.) Sure, I could have washed everything last night, but at 9:00pm I needed a little bit of down time. This brings me to this morning.

At 5:00 I turn on the coffee maker which automatically goes off at 5:30 but I didn’t want to wait that long. So while it is brewing I head up to take a shower. If I wait much longer I will wake the baby. The shower feels nice and is a rare treat these days. But blasted, I can not find the new conditioner I just got so I will have to do without. I dry off, moisturize, toss on the nightshirt I was wearing and head back down for my coffee. Only I get distracted because I remember that I have to wash Christopher’s clothes. But I have to empty both the washer and the dryer first… eventually another dirty load gets tossed in and turned on. I try to find the white shorts I folded last night and somehow they have disappeared. This happens all the time in our house. I wish the little ghosts and gobblins pulling their little jokes on me would just quit it. I head back up to the kitchen empty handed. I grab my coffee and tiptoe up the stairs. Ahhh, it’s nice and quiet and I hope to rest for a minute. But no such luck. It is now 5:55 and Alexander is hollering from across the hallway. So much for a relaxing morning. Rebecca is up too. Sure, why don’t we just have a party! Grrrr. We all go downstairs and I decide to be a good mom for once and make something for breakfast. I make a pumpkin apple cider bread and toss it in the oven. I have doubled the recipe and forgot to double the cooking time. Meantime Christopher is up now too. I say up because he is certainly not awake. I run up (sneak up!) so that I can get dressed without 3 kids interupting me and straighten up the kids rooms. Their beds are all made, but since the house is on the market it has to (in my opinion) always look perfect. Now we are back downstairs and it is almost 8:00. How on earth is this possible? I just got up? it was only just 5:00am… nevermind… Alexander needs to get dressed but he’s off hiding in a corner working on something, his little face reddening, mini grunts escaping… Christopher is still on the couch despite my incessant nagging telling him that he must get dressed. Finally, I threaten not to take him to soccer practice tonight and he jumps up faster than you can say Pele! Rebecca is freaking out (and I mean littereally) because she can not find a shirt to wear with her uniform. Great, T -20 to take off and my kid has no shirt. We go up to look through her shirt drawer together. Oh, BIG MISTAKE… I toss out the shirts wich are no longer shirts but balls of wrinkled cotton and break out in to a song and dance that she should learn to be tidy and neat and take care of her clothes. I certainly did at her age… (Yeah Right!!!)

Back down to the beasement I go and tear through (good thing sloppy- almost-nine-year-old can not see me now!) 5 laundry baskets and find one lowly cotton, collared school shirt. HALLELUJAH! I run upstairs… it’s a race against the clock at this point. Kitchen timer goes off… and out comes the pumpkin cider bread (in a bundt pan so we have to let it cool a few minutes before trying to pry it out of the pan) and I scream (I mean really, scream) at Christopher who is standing in the family room trying to blow a sock up like a balloon… (no, it is not working) He needs his nebulizer. (But this is not why the sock won’t blow up.) Ok, he’s settled. Now to get Rebecca and Alexander their breakfast… It suddenly hits me that I have to pee… badly… get the kids settled with food and drink, skip the napkins and run off to the Loo because if I don’t now it cours be hours to go before I pee, hours to go before I pee…
T -1 minute… all three need to brush their teeth and Christopher is just sitting down to breakfast. Alexander needs to get dressed still and is fighting me with the buttons on his shirt. Becca’s got her shoes on. Alexander is dressed and his sandals are on. Christopher is still eating. I am checking my emails… what else am I going to do? Finally Christopher is done. I shoo him off to brush his teeth and Don bellows to me from upstairs… we are talking about my new cellphone, which warrants an entire blog entry of its own, and now the kids are all ready but I am not because I am talking to Don and they are yelling at me in the entryway. Finally Rebecca takes my keys and heads to the car with C and A and helps the baby into his car seat. By this time we are already 5 minutes late. The older two continue to yell at me from the back and this is just one of those times I had one of those plexiglass dividers you find in taxis. We live just up the hill from school and we are the last to get there, or so it seems. Now, in the parking lot I shoo the kids off. But they stand there, their feet cemented to the ground. I tell them to get a move on and we walk through the side doors at 8:45 am, precicely 15 minutes late. Luckily it is Assembly day and the kids, teachers, administrators are headed into the gym. We slip in silently with everyone else.

A Little Girl’s Dream Come True!

(That’s my kid in the middle with hair in her face
with her friend R and cousin B)

Rebecca has been fascinated with American Idol since she was in Kindergarten. This year she had a favorite almost from the beginning. (She would say she was no fan of Sanjaya… but we all beg to differ!) Her true favorite and idol was a young girl (I think she is 16) named Jordin Sparks. I have to admit this kid is talented. She is wholesome and clean and with the Britney debaucle and all the other misguided teen celebrities I was happy to see Rebecca truly enjoying someone with good, wholesome values. Her singing was not bad either! Needless to say Rebecca was thrilled when she won!

Last year we went, en famille, to the American Idols tour. Christopher and I thought it was awfully loud — could have been the speakers in our eardrums — and while I enjoyed some of it I really had NO (read NO!) desire to see it again. So when Rebecca wanted to go with her cousin I was thrilled with the prospect that my sister in law would go with Don and I would stay home with the boys. Well it turned out that her cousin could go but her mother could not. What to do? I really, and I mean REALLY did not want to go to a concert that was LOUD with even louder tweenyboppers shrieking all night long. Finally, and I mean FINALLY I was able to convince Don that the ticket would be much better off with one of Rebecca’s friends, someone who would actually enjoy the show. Why waste money on me and a sitter? So Don saw the light and let Rebecca bring along her friend R.

Picture this, my husband and three pre-Tweens at a concert… three screaming shrieking at the concert. Now picture my husband with three screaming shrieking in their brand new Jordin Sparks T-shirts. Maybe it was that the girls were all so gosh darned cute, or maybe it was because the brave soul of a father would dare attend an American Idols concert with three pre-Tweens… Whatever it was they attracted the attention of someone — a woman waving to Don, desperately trying to get his attention. She got it and went over to talk to him, identified herself as Jordin Sparks grandmother and gave them all backstage passes! As if the screaming shrieking girls were loud a few minutes ago, the noise rose a few decibals. They were absolutely beside themselves!

After the show they all went to go meet Jordin. Unfortunately her great grandmother was gravely ill in the hospital and she decided to take off early. Jordin’s grandmother felt horribly and knew how the girls were counting on seeing her and came out with an autographed copy of a photograph for each girl. Sadly, Rebecca was not able to meet her true Idol, but did not complain when Sanjaya (Boy he’s skinny, Mom!), Phil Stacy, Melinda Doolittle, Chris Richarson, and Blake Lewiss signed her shirt!

Red Crayola Crayons + Whites in the Dryer = Bad Mix!

It was bound to happen at some point. After 8.75 years of parenting to 3.5 children (I never did get that .5 thing unless they were including husbands) it was bound to happen. I just have no idea how on earth it did happen.

Honestly, I wash about 12 loads of laundry a week, give or take a few. The washer and dryer never stop. Of those 12-give-or-take loads, maybe one is mine. Yesterday I happened to be washing a few of my things. A few white towels, my favorite Banana Republic T-Shirts, a pair of off white linen shorts and some white underwear… and a pair of Alexander’s plaid shorts?!!!

I reached in to the dryer when the buzzer had gone off to a sea of pink… not white, not red, but pink. My first reaction was that I had left something red in the dryer or in the washer, but then I saw the streaks, stripes, spots and splotches. Bright red. Bright red streaks, stripes, spots and splotches all over EVERYTHING! A few of the white towels were toss-able. But not my shorts! Not my favorite Banana Republic T-shirts (and they are not cheap!) and not my white underwear!!!! I don’t have many pairs of white underwear. I find them bland and boring, like many people consider vanilla ice cream to be. But white underwear, like vanilla ice cream, is an absolutely essential must-have item. One can not wear a pattern or a bold color under light or white pants or shorts. White underwear makes a perfect partner… it can be likened to vanilla ice cream and a nice warm apple pie. You need one if you are going to have the other.

Well, thanks to the Red Crayola I can no longer wear white underwear and no longer wear white pants or shirts. I can no longer wear my white T-Shirts either. The timing, my friends, is bad… very bad… You see, according to Vogue and all the top fashion magazines white is the new black. What a shame as I have so much black. But I would hate to walk out of the house in all black and be accused of wearing last year’s fashions!

I have been to the Crayola Website… I have looked at their suggestions which range from soaking items in WD-40, which, by the way is extremely flammable. Gee, I think I will stand in front of our gas dryer while my WD-40 infused clothes set out for a spin! I have seen the bleach thing, and the soaking everything in detergent solution… someone even told me to iron a candle over the spots… I said “Honey, my clothes have more spots on them than Texas has cowboys. That ain’t gonna work.” I told her so in a slow, Southern drawl too. There are also red streaks, stripes, spots and splotches all over the barrel of the dryer. If anyone has any real solutions I would love to hear them, otherwise I am off to the hardware store to get a bottle of Red RIT clothing dye!

WARNING: Toothfairies should Compare Notes!

I had to have known that this was going to happen. Kids are nosy. Kids are curious. They are always jealous of what their friends have or else try to one-up them. Rebecca was in Kindergarten when she lost her first tooth. She was the first and, at that point, the only kid in the class who had lost a tooth. The Toothfairy came in the middle of the night and deposited $2.00 under her pink floral pillow… not bad since I got a Quarter when I was a kid. Several more teeth go and several more dollar bills find themselves under Rebecca’s pillow. Her tooth losses were always so dramatic… “Moooo-ooom,” she’d say, “I can’t eat an apple now. My tooth ith looth.” Apparently her loose teeth couldn’t go near anything cruchy — translation, healthy. Funny then, for her to lose one while eating apple sauce and another in a pancake and another in a bagel. Her stories are equally as dramatic. One fell out at camp, while swimming in the pool. And one fell out at school, in gym class when Victoria crashed into her. I wonder whether that crash was accidental or deliberate. It doesn’t matter as it makes for a good story. Rebecca likes to tell a good story.

The toothfairy hasn’t shown up in a while. I couldn’t remember if the Toothfairy gave a little something special for the first tooth or not. Rebecca assured me that she did not. Each and every tooth got $2. I still don’t think that is right.

So yesterday Christopher comes running out of the school directly past me asking if he can go to the playground. “Sure,” I tell him as I always do. But I notice his mouth looks funny so I ask him to come back and open up, and there is a big red gap where a teeny tiny little white tooth stood just that morning. I’m getting all teary-eyed and verklempt. “Did you lose your tooth?” I ask all motherly-sad because another baby is growing up. “Oh yeah,” he says and takes off again. What kind of a comment is that?

So that night the Toothfairy comes and deposits $2 under his pillow after she catches his note:
Dear Toothfairy,
Please do not take my tooth. I will miss it if you do.
Love, Christopher

Turns out he does not want the Toothfairy to take any of his teeth. Also turns out he yanked it out in the classroom. No drama there!

Today Rebecca announces to me that the Toothfairy gives her friends different money. Grace gets $5 and someone else gets $10. “Why, do they get more Mommy. That’s not right!” I really want to blurt out that their Toothfairies are richer and that isn’t fair either. But I can’t. I can’t let my Dreamer Girl believe that there are millions of Toothfairies all over the world, even if there are. But what all these Toothfairies should do is unite once or twice a year and have a meeting. They should all plan what the going rate of the year will be. Every one will be in accordance. There will be no more hesitating, guessing or wondering. Like our interest rates today, the going tooth rates will continue to rise. Everyone will agree on on a set rate — a prix fixe, if you will. Then, just in case there is even a tiny doubt, every Toothfairy will get a confirmation on her Blackberry. Unless of course you are like me and haven’t quite advanced to that stage yet, copies will also be sent to home email adresses. There should never be a question as to why Dick gets $5 for his tooth while Jane only gets $2. (Especially because Jane’s story will likely be so much more detailed, interesting and dramatic than Dicks!)

When will it ever slow down?

I thought for sure that as soon as the older two went back to school I could have some time back for myself. Boy was I wrong. I am still schlepping kids all over the place. The baby has soccer and gymnastics lessons. I am not so sure what he thinks of gymnastics… He has fantastic upper body strength and I am amazed at what my little 24 month old can do on a bar or with a pair of rings. But I do not have any aspirations for him to become the next Bart Conner. Soccer, on the other hand, he adores. Perhaps it is because his older brother plays and imo (in my opinon) he is pretty good. So if Alexander wants to emulate Christopher, or the Great Pele (I want him to emulate a true soccer player, not a frufru British star because he is good looking and married to some Spice chic) then let him. But Alexander can sing pretty well too… and can do quite a bit in the kitchen. So maybe he’ll be a chef… and a soccer player… who can sing to boot!

So in the morning I am schlepping Alexander all over the place and in the afternoon I chauffeur the other two and some friends all around town. I live for days like today when the baby actually naps for me. And when he doesn’t I am an overtired, cranky witch in search for a break. Mornings are chaos because we have to leave for school and the house has to be immaculate on the off-chance we have a interested, perspective buyer and in the evenings it’s a mad dash to get homeworkshowersdinnerspajamasallergymedicinesandofftobed. By 9pm I can not see or think straight. So I crawl up to bed and curl up under the covers and toss and turn and turn and toss, and do this about 150 more times before a siren or a car wakes me up… or else I am jolted awake in a panicked state because I forgot to attach a check for $42 to each child’s school picture sheet… or I forgot (once again) to get the key and the wipeable marker for Rebecca’s locker, or because the school nurse called because Rebecca had a sore throat and I did not take her to the doctor like I should have and in 24 hours we will all have strep… or because I forgot to lock the car… or because I have to pee…

So, as tired as I am, and as much as I would like to tell you more about my lovely hectic September… I am going to go lie down on the couch and turn on the tube and catch a little Giadda deLaurentis or Sandrunk Lee and maybe even close my eyes…

Our Own Fireman Small!

With the Crazy Crowded House on the market and an open house scheduled for the Sunday after Alexander’s Birthday I kept going back and forth about whether or not I was going to throw him a little Birthday Party. I thought, because he was two, that he really did not need a party, but how could I do this to a kid who had spent the better part of two weeks walking around singing Happy Birthday and pretending to blow out candles? If I didn’t do something about it right away he would have to wait an entire year for another chance. Over the past few weeks Alexander had been to all his little friends’ Birthdays so, I decided to do the right thing. Early on in the week I called the fire department to see if they had anything on their schedule for September 8th. This had been my plan all along, but I hadn’t wanted to have little messy cake eating toddlers running amok inside the the day before the Open House. (Just try keeping them all out in the back yard… trust me when I say it just doesn’t work!) I decided that, since we were suposed to have a beautiful I would have have the kids tour the fire station and have the party itself on the playground afterwards. My house would remain pristine and Alexander would get to have his cake and eat it too!

We met the guests (all 4 two year olds and their parents) at the fire station at 3pm where we were warmly greeted by three firemen. (Ack! I can not remember their names!) The kids got a tour of the fire house, heard the different alarms and were told what they meant. They then all got to hop on board the fire truck and sit up front! They saw Tom (I remembered one!) slide down the pole and even got to shoot water from one of the hoses. Alexander was in his glory.
When our tour was over we all crossed over to the playground where the kids took a break for some juice and a little snack, then were able to run and play to their hearts’ content. We stopped a bit for some cake and let them run all over the place some more!

I was thrilled that I pulled this off successfully at the last minute, and save for the cake, paper goods and party favors the party was free! Mom, Dad, sister, brother and Alexander really enjoyed themselves at the end of the day!

Happy Birthday Owie!

I am a couple of days late in posting this as Alexander’s Birthday was on Friday, but sometimes life gets in the way of blogging, you know? When Rebecca and Christopher were little I couldn’t stand the thought of them being two. My babies were growing up and I was deeply saddened by this. I did not want them to. I mourned all the passing days of their babyhood. Looking back I have to say, what the heck was I thinking? The best was yet to come (and go) and so I had no reason to be sad.
This time around I do not mourn the passing of Alexander’s 2nd Birthday. Instead I embrace it with open arms (hard to type this with ragingscreamingtantrum in the background) my baby is finally growing up. It is not as though I wish to bypass his youth and go right for his driver’s ed class and drive off to college and then get a job and a place of his own, but I am looking forward to not worrying about him getting into so many dangerous things. I am looking forwad to not having to have eyes on the back of my head. I am looking forward to not having the number for Poison Control in my Rolodex and I am looking forward to all the fun things I will soon be doing with him and I am looking forward to all the things we will soon be able to do together as a family.
I love that Alexander is two. Two is fun and cute and adorable and he is still a baby (in my eyes) without being the kind of blob of a baby that cries and eats and sleeps and does nothing much else. Oh yes, the first smile, the first crawl and the first steps are wonderful and I won’t belittle any of those wondrous milestones. But in all honesty I am not a baby kind of a person. I love the toddler stage. I love the early language development, trying to figure out how to pronounce certain words. I love their little voices and the very big words that come out when they mimic you. I love the wonderment of their newly discovered world. I love that their imaginations are starting to soar. I love that they embody everything that is perfect with the human race and nothing that is wrong. They are loving, devoted and inquisitive and honest. I love that they have wonderful senses of humor and are learning how to use them. I love that almost everything excites them. I don’t love their messes and their tantrums, but I can honestly say that is all I do not love. I love that their brains are like sponges and they soak absolutely everything up. I love their little foibles and idiosyncracies…
So, it is not with sadness that I wish the past two years farewell, but with a great joy that I welcome with open arms all the wonderful things yet to come. And they have already begun!