Our quiet date night

Husband called me on his way home from work. “What are we doing tonight?” he asked. Yes, this is his way of asking me on a date. Since I rarely get any alone time with the man, I didn’t think twice about his approach, I just jumped on the chance to have an “adult evening” with him.

After bribing the boys with McDonald’s and giving strict instructions to Boy #1 to be nice to his brothers, the way a “real” babysitter would, Husband and I left for the movie. On our agenda: “The King’s Speech.”

When we pulled into the theater parking lot, we realized we were not the only ones who thought a 7:00 movie on a Friday night was a good idea. But after surveying that a good portion of the crowd were of the teenage persuasion, we reasoned that our movie would not likely sell out, and that the gaggles of pubescent peoples were probably either going to “Gnomeo & Juliet” or “No Strings Attached.”

We purchased our 88 ounces of pop and 10-pound tub of popcorn (the second measurement was an exaggeration; the first was not) and were shown to Theater 9 for our movie. Fortunately, we were correct in our assessment of the crowd’s movie taste, and the theater was not very full. We were the only ones in the front half of the theater and I made the mistake of thinking to myself as the previews began, “This is going to be awesome. No crying kids, no ‘too cool’ pre-teens trying to impress their friends by making fart noises, just peace and quiet and an excellent movie.”

Well, I was at least right about that last part.

And I’ll even go so far as to say that it was pretty peaceful for the first 20 minutes or so. But that’s when it  started going all kinds of wrong.

First off, our theater started vibrating not because of anything going on in our movie, but because of the movie in the theater beside ours. The music was so loud in their movie that I could barely hear Colin Quinn stutter. The only good part was that, even though it lasted probably five minutes, it didn’t return later.

Right after the movie-next-door spilled into our movie, the curse of the chronic cough began. Now, let me ask you a question. If you started coughing — that kind of coughing that comes on quickly and morphs into a full-blown coughing fit — and you’re in the middle of a theater during a movie that involves lots of talking, quiet talking, would you: a) continue to cough in the theater; or b) exit the theater until your fit subsided and you maybe even got a drink of water? Yeah, I thought so. Apparently, the woman in the theater with what sounded like double pneumonia did not.

I kid you not, for an hour and a half, it was cough for 5 minutes, quiet for 2, cough for 5, quiet for 2. I didn’t know whether to call 911 or call the theater manager and see if I could borrow a pair of headphones. It was sooo uncomfortable, though. Never before have I been able to read the minds of so many people at once: “TAKE IT OUTSIDE!!!”

So you can probably imagine our delight when the “Justin Bieber Never Say Never 3D” movie showing across the hall let out, and the voices of 739 preteens all trying to outshriek one another gently wafted into our theater. Even better, since our theater shared a wall with the lobby, the yelling-to-their-friends-at-the-top-of-their-lungs-about-how-awesome-Justin-Bieber-was-and-OMG-did-Josh-just-look-at-me-I-will-just-die-if-he-did-let-me-send-him-a-text-and-see-what-he-says continued until their parents finally got around to picking them up. Which, parents, wasn’t soon enough.

Apparently the theaters are now saving money by constructing their walls out of parchment paper.

So, while “The King’s Speech” was amazing, I would’ve liked to have actually heard all of the dialogue instead of relying on my inference skills. Which is why Theater 9 is now dead to me.

Maybe we should’ve just seen “No Strings Attached.” At least then if we couldn’t hear, we would’ve known we weren’t missing anything…

Oh What a Beautiful Morning…

Before I head to work this morning, I feel the need to chronicle my morning, so far. I know it’s a long shot, folks, but does anyone else have mornings like this with their kids? Scarily, this is pretty much par for the course at our house.

7:11: I tell Boy #2 it’s time to get up. He doesn’t respond. I tell him again. He lets out a cross between a whine, a scream, and a yawn and says, “I’m too tired!” I stay calm and tell him that he needs to get up anyway.

7:12: I tell Boy #1 that it’s 7:12. “I KNOW!” he yells from underneath his covers. Apparently it is now my fault that the sun rises.

7:15: I tell Boy #2 again that he needs to get up. I go downstairs and pour Boy #1 and Boy #2 each a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch. (Yes, it’s healthy. It is fortified with essential vitamins and minerals. And sugar.)

7:18: I yell up the stairs at Boy #2 to GET UP, to which I get this response: “MY LEG HURTS!” Oh, I forgot. Last night he said his leg hurt. I should’ve known that it would come up again this morning. “Well, you’ll have to hobble down here then!” I yelled with a pinch of sympathy. He replies, “I CAN’T MOVE! IT HURTS!!!!!” I respond, “Well, you’re going to have to find a way to move because you’re going to be late for school if you don’t get down here NOW!” He replies, “YOU HATE ME!!! YOU WANT ME TO BE HURT! IF I MOVE I’M GOING TO DIE!!!” I not-so-calmly respond, “YOU WON’T DIE! GET DOWN HERE NOW OR YOU WON’T GO TO FUN NIGHT TOMORROW NIGHT!” (Oh, yes, it’s our school’s “fun night” tomorrow, which is, ironically, in no way fun for the parents.)

You may be wondering why I’m not more concerned about my son’s leg. Well, I would be except that literally every week it’s a new injury. He’s going through a bit of a phase that includes multiple ailments and maladies, lots of limping and a fair amount of whining and anger. So pretty much until I see a bone sticking out, I’m not going to take anything too seriously.

7:25: I go upstairs and try to help him get out of his loft bed and down the stairs. Apparently even though only one of his legs hurts, he can’t use either leg. Funny how that works. I put my arm around him and pretty much drag him down the stairs while he tries to limp and says “OW!” every three seconds.

7:32: Boy #3 suddenly yells from the kitchen, “YOU DIDN’T ASK ME WHAT KIND OF CEREAL I WANTED! I DIDN’T WANT CINNAMON TOAST CRUNCH! AND THERE’S NOT ENOUGH MILK!” I again-not-so-calmly yell back, “TOO BAD! YOU LOVE CINNAMON TOAST CRUNCH! THERE’S NO OTHER CEREAL YOU LIKE! EAT IT OR GO HUNGRY!”

7:33 to 7:36: Boy #3 cries and screams about his cereal. In his rant he tells me that I hate him because I don’t want him to have enough milk. Yes, that’s it. You have finally caught on to my evil scheme, Boy #3.

7:37: I pour a smidgen more milk in Boy #3’s cereal, just to make him stop screaming, and tell him he has two minutes to shovel it all in.

7:40: I become a drill sergeant: “SOCKS! SHOES! COAT! WHERE IS YOUR COAT? DO YOU HAVE YOUR SHOES ON? SHOES! SHOES! DO YOU HAVE YOUR SHOES?”

7:45: I am still a drill sergeant, to what I’m sure are the most poorly trained recruits around. “HURRY UP! LET’S GO! WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE! GRAB YOUR BAG! YOUR BAG! YOUR BAG! BAG! PICK IT UP!”

7:50: Boy #2 manages to walk to the car without a limp. He’s healed!

7:55: Tires squealing, I tear into the school parking lot. “Hurry up! I’m pretty sure you’re tardy!” I tell the boys as they tumble out of the van. Of course, I also have to throw in, “I love you! Have a great day!” to try to make up for the horrible start we’ve had. It feels just a wee bit fake, but I go with it anyway. Tires again squealing, I peel out of the school parking lot, wondering which day I’ll receive the next letter in the mail scolding me for my children’s tardies.

8:00: I pull back into my driveway, breathe in the silence, and contemplate cracking open a beer for breakfast.

Photo by klarrisa

A Tribute to 1’s — on 1/1/11

Happy 1/11/11!

Now, I’m not going to jump on the “1” bandwagon and tell you that I’ve always loooooved the number 1, that I always chose it for my number in sports and that I’ve tattooed it on my lower back (along with the yin-yang symbol and the adage “Mama said don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys”). Nope, that is actually the number 2. But considering I can’t guarantee I’ll still be blogging on 2/22/22, I’m going ahead and giving it up for 1, a worthy number in its own right. (But it’s still no 2.)

In honor of the number 1, that gutsy integer that says, “Hey, I ride alone, pal,” I share a few of my favorite 1’s.

“Little 1” by Ann & Paul Rand. I just discovered this book, which was published in 1962, and gave it to my nephew for Christmas. I love the illustrations by graphic designer Paul Rand, and the text by his wife Ann is so perfect.

“Little 1 looked like a stick.
From the front he was medium thick,
but from the side he was so thin
he could have been
a line.”

I found the book locally at my favorite shop Ephemera, but you can also find it on Chronicle Books’ website.

“One” by U2. (Husband would argue Metallica’s “One” should come first, but that song just makes me think of a very uncomfortable lesson I had to lead as a student teacher that involved the book “Johnny Got His Gun” and the “m” word that ends in “bation.” I still have nightmares.) Plus I saw U2 in concert right after this song came out — it was a-MAZ-ing!

Pier 1. It’s no Target, but it’s still a store I love browsing through. My favorite finds are a wicker chair and a humongo wrought iron spoon that hangs on the wall. But I’ve drooled over lots and lots more that I couldn’t justify purchasing yet.

Hawks. Okay, I realize this entry doesn’t include the number 1, but to me hawks represent the number because you always see them sitting on a sign alongside the highway, and they’re always alone. Pay attention next time you’re driving (or next time you’re riding so you don’t cause an accident) and see if I’m right. My mom first pointed this out to my sisters and I when we asked her why she waved every time she saw a hawk. “They always look lonely,” she said. Which is what I now tell my kids when they ask me why I wave when I spot one in a tree or on the speed limit marker. I figure hawks must be really comfortable in their own skin (or feathers) if they can spend so much time by themselves, which is something I really admire.

Hope you enjoyed your day of 1’s. But don’t feel let down that it’s almost over. There’s more to look forward to. Just think: the next 8 days are Palindrome Days! Let the festivities begin!

1/12/11
1/13/11
1/14/11
1/15/11
1/16/11
1/17/11
1/18/11
1/19/11

Me, Myself and MacGyver

Over the past several weeks, I have learned several things about myself:

  1. I have MacGyver-like skills.
  2. I have no shame.

Let’s begin with Christmas Day. Warning: The following story contains references that are not for the squeamish or those uncomfortable with the female reproductive system. If the mere mention of the word “menstruation” makes you dry heave, I suggest you skip to the next story. Consider yourself warned.

After opening gifts at our house, we packed the van and headed to my in-laws’ house to celebrate with Husband’s family. My back had been hurting since I woke up, but I attributed this to the Ghost Adventures incident several hours earlier. So imagine my surprise when I went to the bathroom mid-afternoon and discovered that, although my back may have hurt because I injured it in my Christmas Eve wipeout, it may also hurt because Aunt Flo had decided to pay me a holiday visit.

Now, you’d think that since I’d been having periods regularly for 26 years, it wouldn’t catch me off guard each month when it starts. You’d think that, wouldn’t you? But no, I had traveled completely unprepared for a menstrual disaster of any kind. No pads. No tampons.

This is when us girls go rifling through our host’s drawers and closets, in the hopes of finding some supplies that can be “borrowed” for such an emergency. I’m pretty sure there’s an unwritten rule among all women that this is perfectly acceptable behavior. At least I hope so… But since I was staying with my mother-in-law, I wasn’t optimistic about finding anything, and so when a cursory sweep of the bathroom turned up nothing, I went to Plan B: toilet paper. Lots and lots of toilet paper.

It wasn’t until later in the evening, after the gift opening and soup supper (and a glass or two of wine), that I found it an appropriate time to mention my predicament to my mother-in-law, who immediately walked into the bathroom, opened the cupboard, and plucked a box with a couple tampons left from waaaay in the back. I was never so happy to see a feminine hygiene product. Unfortunately, though, we were spending the night at my mom’s house (in the same town), I was down to one tampon, and no stores were open on Christmas night.

So the next morning after rifling through my mom’s cupboards and finding nothing, not even a panty liner (Darn you, menopause!), my mom held up something she did have that she thought I could somehow make work: one of my nephew’s diapers. Since my pride had long since vanished, I went into the bathroom armed with a diaper and pair of scissors, and came out a woman pretty darn impressed with her survival skills (and a little bit bulkier “down there”).

******************************************************************************

Fast-forward to last week. I had the kids loaded up in the van to head to Husband’s wrestling meet. (For the record, he coaches high school wrestling, he’s not a WWE wrestler, although that thought makes me giggle.) I opted for the healthy choice for supper and drove through McDonald’s so we could stuff our faces on the hour’s drive. I need to back up here and tell you that the automatic switch on my driver’s side window has not worked for probably three years. I’d totally gotten used to opening my door at the drive-throughs (although Husband was still mortified) and just decided I wasn’t going to spend the money to get it fixed. But in what we refer to as “the Christmas miracle,” as we were going through the drive-through at McDonald’s (yes, again) the week before Christmas so we could drive around looking at Christmas lights, husband tried the switch and IT WORKED. The window went down and up like it was supposed to, and it continued to work like that…until last week.

So as I was in the turning lane to get onto the interstate and we were trying to divvy out all the fries and drinks, I heard a sound like someone had just hit my door with a sledgehammer. I screamed (a profanity, as Boy #2 reminds me) and looked around for a car that must’ve hit us. But seeing as there was no one beside us, I was still wondering what that loud noise could’ve been when Boy #1 said, “Uh, Mom, the window is going down.”

I looked to my left and saw that yes, the window, which I had put back up, was now about 6 inches down, and continuing to go down. I tried the switch. Nothing. I tried to push the window up with my hand, and it worked for a second, and then came back down again. This was all happening, conveniently, as I was merging onto the interstate.

So trying to hold the window up with one hand as best I could so the boys didn’t get blown or frozen out of the van, I steered with my other hand, got off the next exit, and headed home to assess the situation. And after pulling into the driveway, I opened the door to get out — and the window fell all the way into the door. Gone.

“Well, I guess we’re not going anywhere,” I said as we drug ourselves and our McDonald’s sacks into the house.

Knowing I needed to get to work in the morning (and remembering that oh, yeah, I had no shame), I grabbed a couple contractor-grade garbage bags and some silver duct tape and set out to tape up my window. Once done, I was pretty proud of myself, too, until I talked to my father-in-law and told him what I’d done and he said, “Too bad you won’t be able to see out of it.”

Hmm… didn’t think about that. The garbage bags were black. I couldn’t see out the window or my side mirror. That could prove to be a problem.

So armed with scissors, I set out to fix the problem. After cutting out a hole so I could see when I drove, I tried to first cover that hole with clear Ziploc bags. But the duct tape didn’t want to stick. Then I tried clear Contact Paper. Yeah, that didn’t work either. So I just left the open hole and drove it that way to work with the heater on full blast to make up for the temperature in the teens outside.

I just kept my eyes ahead and tried not to make eye contact with anyone who drove up beside me. And I tried to assure myself that all the people who stared as I drove by were just jealous of my MacGyver skills.

Oh, yeah, this is my van in my parking lot at work. Classy, huh?
This is the view from inside the van.
MacGyver photo: By Themightyquill (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html“>GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

Things That Would Only Happen to Me (and Liz Lemon): The Christmas Edition Part 1

The dog’s favorite place to be (besides running free throughout the neighborhood)

Ahh, the first day back from Christmas break. We had the usual—great times with family, nail-biting games of Life, hunting expeditions for lost Lego pieces of newly opened Christmas gifts. There were, however, several episodes that I will share, because I have no shame. I’ve gone ahead and stashed these in the “Things that would only happen to me (and Liz Lemon)” file. (It’s getting quite thick.)

We’ll start with just one story to whet your appetite. Don’t worry, there are more to come this week.

Remember that dog that I’ve told you about a few times? Yeah, the one that bit me the week before Christmas, that’s the one. Well, he’s still here awaiting trial. Or until I can find him another home. The morning of Christmas Eve was actually going fairly smoothly. But I made the mistake of specifically noting this to myself. That’s when it all went bad.

Boys #1 and #2 were helping by carrying gifts out to the van. We were heading to my parents’ house for brunch and boisterous gift-unwrapping. We were actually making good time, too, which should’ve been my first clue that something was about to go down. As I stood in the doorway, making sure Boy #2 could get to the van safely with his basket of presents, I felt something brush by my leg, and my stomach dropped. I looked out just in time to see a streak of fur tearing through the snow.

Yes, I had let the dog out.

Needless to say, the good mood and glad tidings that had previously lingered in my house immediately evaporated. I was mad at myself, but apparently not as mad as Husband was at me, as he continued to ask me the same question: “WHY did you stand with the door open? What were you thinking?”

Now, tell me how I’m supposed to answer that question. Obviously, I wasn’t thinking, at least about what I should’ve been thinking about, which is where my dog might be lurking waiting for that perfect opportunity for another jailbreak. It wasn’t until we were leaving a Christmas dinner two days later when Husband backed into his brother’s van, which was parked DIRECTLY BEHIND us, IN CLEAR SIGHT, and I continued to ask him, “WHY did you back into his van? WHY? What were you thinking?” that I think he began to understand the futility of his question. But I digress.

So we continued to load the van while we watched the dog prance through the snow and gallavant throughout the neighborhood. We knew it would do no good to chase him; he’s way too fast. And he knows every trick we try to lure him in. Despite this, I tried leaving the front door open and hiding behind it, peeking through the crack to see if he’d come inside his warm home if he didn’t think we were around. He didn’t fall for it.

I also tried leaving a trail of treats leading up to the house. He just ate them and ran. We then got in the van and drove around and around the neighborhood, periodically opening the van door and asking, “Wanna go for a ride?” The dog would psych us out for a minute, acting like he just might fall for it, and then he’d dash off to terrorize some dog stuck behind a fence.

This literally went on for an hour and a half. Sometimes the dog would stand in the front yard and me in the doorway, and we’d have a staredown. He always won.

Finally, I heard the dog barking from the house behind us, and I knew my neighbors had let him outside. I realized this may be my only chance to save Christmas, since we were basically prisoners at home until the dog came inside. We couldn’t leave him because it was so cold and knowing that he had just bit me. We couldn’t chance him running loose.

So I grabbed a blanket and tromped through the knee-high snow to the wooden fence behind our house. Sure enough, the dog was running the fence with the neighbor dog, barking like crazy. Even though he was focused on the other dog, he’s smart enough to still pay attention to what I was doing, and every time he’d run near me, he’d arc out JUST enough that I missed him when I tried to grab. But I had a plan.

Slowly I inched toward the corner of the house, knowing that trapping him may be my only hope. He took the bait and I finally had my chance. Quickly, I threw the blanket over him and pounced. (Yes, I literally pounced.) Needless to say, the dog was not happy to have been caught in a blanket trap, although I think secretly he was a little bit happy because he had ice and snow frozen onto his beard and I’m sure he was a wee bit cold. He snarled and tried to bite me, as I knew he would, but I just kept him wrapped in the blanket and carried the 20+ pound dog through the snow into the house. There was NO WAY I was letting go, no matter what he did to me. After all, Christmas was at stake!

After coming into the house, making sure all the doors were shut tight, and depositing the dog-in-a-blanket onto the kitchen floor, I picked up my phone and dialed Husband, who had been in the van with the boys for nearly 30 minutes.

“The eagle has landed,” I said (or rather, panted) when Husband said hello.

“Huh?” he asked. Apparently he didn’t get my spy humor.

“I caught the dog,” I said.

“Oh,” he said.

And we were off, me out of breath, my hair and makeup ruined and wearing jeans that were sopping wet from the knees down. We were about 45 minutes late for brunch, but we did make it. And that, my friends,  was a Christmas miracle.

Who Knew? (I wish I didn’t…)

Well, kids, it’s been a bumpy last few weeks here in the Boogers & Burps house. Sickness and crabbiness seem to be running rampant, hand in hand, and Christmas keeps coming at us like an out-of-control freight train. There’s just no slowing it down. To give you a glimpse of what’s been happening in our neck of the woods, I present you with my “Who knew?” list.

  • A fleece blanket will melt if held against the fireplace glass. And how do I know this? Nope, not from MythBusters. Instead, Boy #2 unknowingly conducted his own little experiment the other night. He was cold, as always. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that it’s winter in Iowa and 90 percent of the time he’s wearing nothing but his underwear at home. But nonetheless, he was cold and was apparently getting closer and closer to our gas fireplace. Instead of putting on socks, he decided he’d warm his feet by putting them on the glass of the fireplace, but because they were getting burned from touching it directly, he thought he’d put the fleece blanket he’d made his dad in between his feet and the fireplace glass. It wasn’t until I heard him yelling and tearing up the stairs that I noticed the distinct burning smell. Upon investigating, I saw the huge melted swirl stuck on the fireplace glass. It would’ve actually been kind of pretty if it hadn’t represented: 1) a ruined blanket, and 2) a possibly ruined fireplace. Fortunately, after letting it cool, most of the melted polyester peeled right off. Unfortunately, the prognosis of the blanket is not as positive.
  • Doctors used to say that 20% of dog bites caused infection, but now they say it’s only 5%. This I learned from a doctor at the walk-in clinic after being treated for the nice little Christmas gift The Dog gave me. I went to bring him inside off his cable tie-out, like I always do, and apparently he was having too much fun running the fence with the neighbor dogs. The result was a pretty painful dog bite that fortunately didn’t require stitches but unfortunately now requires me to find another home for the family pet. At Christmas.
  • The tooth fairy takes I.O.U’s. Boy #3 lost his second tooth, and when I say lost, I mean lost. He had to write a note to the Tooth Fairy again, just as he’d done after losing (yes, really losing) his first tooth. He’s just lucky that the Tooth Fairy isn’t a stickler for the rules.
  • Betty White likes to party — hard. This is according to a dream I had this week. I can always tell when I’m feeling stressed by the weirdness of my dreams, and over the past few weeks I’ve had some doozies. My apologies to Betty; I’m not sure why she appeared in my dream, nor why we were partying together. It had something to do with a tiny little apartment I was renting from a nice but not overly hygienic landlady. Perhaps it was a housewarming party? Anyway, Betty and I were totally bonding, as I’m sure we would in real life. In fact, we bonded so much that it became my responsibility to get her home, and the poor girl kept throwing up. I think I even held back her white permed hair for her while she hurled, as is the measure of true friendship. The guest list at my dream party now includes Tina Fey, Cloris Leachman AND Betty White. We would eat Cheesy Blasters and Hostess Ding-Dongs, drink cheap wine and watch alternating episodes of 30 Rock, Raising Hope and Golden Girls. And we’d laugh and laugh…

So there you have it. Who knew? Maybe you wish you didn’t now too.

Photo Attribution: By David Shankbone (Betty White David Shankbone 2010 NYC) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

5 Reasons Mom Needs a Smart Phone for Christmas

If you ask Mom what she wants for Christmas, her initial response will likely be something like, “Oh, I don’t need anything” or, if pressed, “I’ll love anything you pick out!”

Don’t buy it.

What Mom really wants? A smart phone.

Even if she doesn’t know that she wants one yet, she will as soon as she realizes just how useful and convenient that little electronic gadget can be.

Here are just 5 of the many reasons Mom needs a smart phone:

1. Soothe the savage beasts.

We’ve all found ourselves stuck waiting at the doctor’s office or a restaurant with kids in tow. Waiting with kids is bad enough, but being unprepared when waiting with kids is nearly unbearable. They become the equivalent of caged animals, that wild look in their eye as their voice raises several octaves and they desperately look for a way out. As the now-cliche goes — there’s an app for that. Frankly, any app will do in this situation, but especially helpful are ones like Balloonimals, where they can create balloon animals by actually blowing on the phone, SmackTalk, where they can choose the voice of a hamster, chihuahua or other animal to repeat what they say, only cuter, or Colorama, a coloring book that doesn’t require you to haul around a torn-up Spider-Man comic book or a baggie full of broken crayons in your purse. With a smart phone, Mom’s got the waiting wars covered.

2. Covert operations.

With a smart phone, Mom can keep tabs on her social middle schooler by logging on to his Facebook account, even when she’s on the go. Oh, he’s single again, huh? Interesting. And texting is, of course, a given when it comes to the kids. Mom is much more likely to carry on a conversation with her 13-year-old via texting than actually getting him to speak on the phone.

3. In case of emergency.

Sure, you don’t need a smart phone to call 911; any old cell phone will do. But can a cell phone give you directions to your cousin’s birthday party, tell you where the nearest gas station is, or show you how to get to the nearest emergency room when you’re on vacation and you’ve dragged your son through IKEA even though he was having an allergic reaction to something until finally he tells you that his throat is feeling itchy and you decide that maybe you should seek medical attention instead of browsing the kitchen utensils. (And no, that’s never happened to me. In case you’re wondering.) Give Mom a cell phone, and you give her access to a whole world of information, no matter the emergency or her location.

4. So she doesn’t miss her “stories.”

Back in the day, moms couldn’t miss their soap operas, or their “stories,” as some liked to call them. Today, it’s likely Glee or Modern Family that Mom can’t miss. Or, if you’re this mom, 30 Rock. Say Mom is sitting in the bleachers at a wrestling meet and realizes she forgot to set the DVR for her favorite show. If she’s got DirecTV, she can use her smart phone to program her DVR to record it, and she can still get her Liz Lemon fix. (Or she can use her smart phone to watch uploaded episodes of her show right there in the wrestling stands. Don’t worry, she won’t miss your match. Moms were born to multi-task.)

5. For her sanity.

The old saying was, “Calgon, take me away!” I can’t tell you the last time I soaked in a bubble bath, though, and I’m pretty sure most other moms are in the same boat. Heck, I’m lucky if I can sneak in a 5-minute shower where there’s still some hot water and someone’s actually left me a pea-sized squirt of shampoo. Nowadays, moms have to resort to other ways to unwind and relax, and smart phones can do the trick. Games, puzzles, you name it — someone has created the app. Mindless entertainment is merely a touch away. Instead of relying on Calgon, Mom can now say, “Angry Birds, take me away!” or in my case, “Whirly Word, take me away!” It’s what I do while I’m waiting for the kids to hop in the van after school and break my golden silence, and what I do to fall asleep at night. C’mon, don’t you owe Mom a little sanity?

There are many, many other reasons Mom needs a smart phone this Christmas, including the ability to access her online calendar while she rushes here and there, and the convenience of a camera so she can snap and text a photo of her little boy’s first lost tooth to his dad when he’s away for work. In this fast-paced, high-tech world we live in, Mom needs to be able to keep up. ‘Cause we all know if she can’t keep up, the whole family goes down. So think of it not only as a gift to Mom, but a gift to yourself and the rest of your clan as well. (Just don’t take it without asking, okay?)

Image from morguefile

The Dark Ages Redefined (or Kids Say the Darndest Things)

It’s so funny to see things from your kids’ perspectives, especially when it involves the concept of time. Here’s a conversation that played out in my house, just this morning.

Boy #3: “Mom, was Grandma alive in the ’80s?”

At first I thought he was talking about the 1880s. Then I realized he was, instead, referring to the 1980s. You know. Back in the “old days.” Before the Internet, cell phones and Pokemon. Might as well be the Dark Ages to them.

Me: “Yeah, Grandma was alive then. I was alive in the ’80s too.”

Boy #3: “What?! Hey, Boy #2! Guess WHAT?! MOM was alive in the ’80s!”

Boy #2: “You were?”

Me: “Sure.”

Boy #3: “What did you play with back then?”

Me: (Suppressing the urge to answer “Rocks and dinosaur eggs”) “Um, Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Barbies.”

Boy #3: (Eyes alit with wonder and amazement) “What?! Oh my gosh!”

Me: (Ready to really blow their minds) “I was actually alive in the ’70s too.”

Boy #2: “You were? What, like 1978, right?”

Me: “I was born in 1972.”

Boy #2: “Whoa.”

I don’t blame him for the “whoa.” That’s pretty heavy stuff. Especially when you’re 6 and 8.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go discover fire.

Image by mmagallan