Tuesday, November 13, 2018

It Happened at McDonald's

I go to McDonald's way more than I'm willing to admit here,

A few weeks ago, I took Eva and Zoe to McDonald's after school, and there was a little girl in the play place who kept stealing our food. She was there with her grandma who wouldn't look up from her cell phone (no judgment, just stating the fact) and who also may have been a meth addict (maybe some judgment for that one). I kept trying to get eye contact from the grandma in a way that wasn't rude but that would encourage her to rescue us from her grabby granddaughter, but Grandma was oblivious.

My next tactic was to say to the girl, "Do you have some french fries at your table? You do? Okay, go get some of your french fries!" That didn't really work, either. I mean, I get it - other people's food always tastes better even if it's the same. The diet of every two-year-old on the planet is proof of that fact!

Then I tried, "Can you climb all the way to the top of the playground and show me how you go down the slide?" That worked once and got her away from us for three minutes, but then she was right back, grabbing at our Happy Meal boxes. My girls went ballistic any time she came near us, and the grandma never batted an eye. Eventually we left because we had to pick up Nicky from an extra-curricular activity.

I was a little flustered at the lengths we had to go to to protect our food, and I'm pretty sure I vowed to never eat at McDonald's again...

...which brings me to yesterday when we went to McDonald's for lunch. This time we went to a different location (we like a change of scenery sometimes).

Once more, we were in the play area, and a little boy in footed pajamas - probably barely two years old, if even that - came over to our table, took Zoe's boots, and put them on his feet. I didn't even realize what he was doing until he started tapping my leg because he wanted help. I looked around for his parents, but I didn't know who he belonged to. I took the boots off him, trying so hard to be kind and to not emit any judgement but also hoping for back-up from his elusive parents. At some point they would come looking for him, one would assume. In an effort to keep things kind, I showed him how the boots light up on the bottom. I let him tap the boots a few times, and then I said, "Okay, time to put the boots away!" and I hid them behind me. Then I tried the 'ole, "Can you climb up to the very top of the playground and show me how you go down the slide?" bit, but he wasn't having it. He wanted the boots! He climbed under my table and tried every maneuver he could think of to get to the boots which I held in place with my feet.

In the meantime, the employee brought out our order (I could write a whole rant about McDonald's pathetic efforts to bring food to the tables, but that is an issue for another day), and the kid started helping himself to our food which reminded me that I was never supposed to eat at McDonald's again. It also taught me that fry thieves are lurking everywhere!

Then the stole my girls' Happy Meal toys and went running out of the play area while Zoe chased him around the restaurant. Finally a dad appeared, took the toys from the boy, made him say sorry, and took him back in the play place. I finally had a location for the dad. He was sitting around the corner and couldn't see us, so any time the boy came over to us, the dad had no idea where he was or what he was doing.

After the toy burglary, the boy came right back to us. He wanted to put our stuff in the garbage (I let him). He went for the boots a few more times, and at one point he started hitting, and I was like, "Whoa, dude! Go get your dad!" and I shoo-ed him back around the corner.

Then he came back once again, and that's when things got really weird...

Because he wanted to rub our feet.

Let me be clear about this: HE WANTED TO RUB OUR FEET.

He started with Eva, who was barefoot. He grabbed her foot, and Eva's face very clearly read, "What the hell?!?" He used both hands, like he'd been taught the art of foot massage. Then he wanted to rub Eva's other foot. After that, he moved to Zoe, who had socks on. He rubbed one foot and then the other.

This whole time, I was so blown away that all I could do was sit back and watch, wide-eyed.

When he finished Zoe's feet, he looked up at me and tapped my shoe to indicate that I was supposed to take my shoes off, and I looked at him, thinking, "Is this really happening?"

In the words of Kris Kross, it was wiggity wack!

I didn't let the kid rub my feet.

And he was mad!

And all the while, his dad had no idea that he was going around the McDonald's play place rubbing strangers.

I came to the following conclusion: when a two-year-old boy at McDonald's tries to rub your feet, no question, it's time to leave.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

This Year in Gratitude

Hooray, it's almost Thanksgiving. Even though I have a hard time with holidays, there's one thing that always gets me through: food. So Thanksgiving? Bring it on!

Today I want to share with you one of my favorite studies on gratitude. In my happiness workshops, I talk about gratitude, and I always share this study by Martin Seligman, who is one of the prominent researchers in positive psychology.

Seligman had his participants think of someone who'd had an impact on their lives whom they had not yet thanked. Then he asked them to write a letter of gratitude to that person and deliver it in person.

Immediately after the participants delivered their letters, they reported increased levels of happiness. A week later, they still reported higher levels of happiness. Then one month later, they were still happier than the control group.

This simple act of gratitude boosted their happiness for a pretty good chunk of time! Gratitude is a powerful tool in increasing subjective well-being (that's the scientific term for happiness - because they had to call it something more science-y than "happiness"). So think for a moment - who do you need to deliver that letter to? I know who mine needs to go to. I've known for years, but I haven't written it yet.

In the meantime, here are some things I am grateful for right now:

An Article of Clothing

I am thankful for elastic waistbands. I know there are all sorts of funny things to be said about stretchy pants, but from a realistic perspective, my waist expands and contracts throughout the day. Shouldn't my pants, too?

Waist expansion aside, I really like freedom of movement. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of sitting, but I appreciate being able to lunge at a moment's notice without fear of splitting a seam.

A Form of Movement

I love to dance. I won't say that I'm any good at it, but boy, I love it. Dancing is a part of my daily life. A couple months ago I sprained my ankle, and I couldn't dance for a few weeks. It was devastating. I missed entertaining my family with some pretty sweet Austin Power moves while we cleaned on Saturday mornings.

A Place

I'm very thankful for HOME. My home isn't perfect. It's full of chaos, and it's messy, but it feels safe, and it's mine. I realize my home is shared with several other people, but I am the manager. It's my project, my stewardship, my responsibility. It's a place where I will always have influence. Running my own home is one part of adulthood that I truly love. I don't consider myself a great homemaker, but I'm thankful for the opportunity to try anyway.

A Sound

I'm thankful for nom noms. I don't really like to hear people eating. I don't have misophonia or anything - I just think it's kind of gross. If I do have to hear the sounds of people eating, I want those sounds to be nom noms. Nom noms are themselves a form of gratitude.


This year I feel a bit guilty about the silly things I have to be thankful for. I mean, here I am expressing thanks for stretchy pants, and even though that gratitude is completely sincere, I realize that I live a frivolous and materialistic existence in which I get to be like, "Oh my gawsh!! I love elastic waistbands!!!"

The other day I laid in bed thinking about human suffering - about some of the worst things that have happened to people. Things I can't even fathom because my life has been so safe. 

Recently I snagged a copy of the book Slave Stealers by Tim Ballard and nearly read the whole thing in one sitting. Tim Ballard is the founder and CEO of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that rescues children throughout the world from sex trafficking. I've had the opportunity to hear Tim speak a few times, and his stories are hard but necessary to hear. 

One example (and I'll warn you, it's horrific, so skip this paragraph if you must) is the story of a thirteen year old girl who was taken from Mexico and trafficked to the United States where she was raped thirty to fifty times a day. She was "scheduled" every fifteen minutes. I don't even know how she lived through it, and I don't know how a person can even begin to heal emotionally or physically from something like that. 

Whenever I'm reminded of the depth of darkness that exists in this world, I think Who am I? 

Who am I to live in safety?

Who am I to whine about things like slow internet speeds and boogers on the wall?

Who am I to think I have problems?

It makes me feel like a schmuck, and I'm reminded of how truly selfish and spoiled I am, and how I need to be a better steward - not just over material comforts, but over the intangible things that bring light into the world. I have a lot of light in my life, and I take it for granted. Tim Ballard speaks often of light - it's something he needs to be incredibly sensitive to in order to do what he does. As he immerses himself in the darkest evils of this world, he has to be able to find and acknowledge light, or he won't be able to go on.

I think this year, that is what I need to be most grateful for - LIGHT!

I hope I'll become better at recognizing it and spreading it. I think sincere gratitude - whether it's gratitude for safety or gratitude for stretchy pants, or even gratitude for being safe while wearing stretchy pants - is one of the best ways to bring light into the world. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Extra Hour

This morning is the type of morning where I look at my kids and say, "I love you very much, but I really need you to go to school. Like, right now."

I blame the time change. They haven't adjusted yet, so all week I've had to do an extra hour of parenting in the morning.

This morning we had waffles for breakfast. I read books to Zoe and Eva. Nicky and Daisy put their laundry away and practiced the piano. They did their morning check lists (got ready for school, made their beds, fed their animals, etc). I did all the girls' hair. We packed lunches, picked our Halloween candy for the day, and took our vitamins. Now the kids are watching YouTube, and it's still not time to go to school.

This is pure craziness.

On Monday, Nicky spent all morning playing the kazoo. He started with "Africa" by Toto. Then he went to the Mission Impossible theme song, and eventually started working his way through every Disney song known to man. He followed me around, boasting of his talent. "Mom, I'm really good at playing the kazoo. Listen... Doo, doo-doo, doo-doo, doo-doooooooo!"

Why didn't I make him stop? Because I knew eventually he would leave the house. And because I spend most of my time with him telling him to stop doing whatever he's doing. I'm forever crushing the kid's spirits. So this time, I let it go. Fine. Play the kazoo three feet from my head for 45 minutes straight in the wee hours of the morning. Just don't grow up to be a serial killer, mmmkay?

Also on that day, Zoe spent a significant portion of her morning putting stuffed animals down her pants. She would wander in the kitchen every few minutes with a new selection of animals and remove them one by one, laughing hysterically. She was so proud of herself! The other kids started calling her "Noah's Ark."

She did this all morning on Tuesday as well. Two days of stuffed animals in her pants.

Yesterday morning Nicky and Daisy wanted to have a wizards' duel. That seemed fine, and I listened to them casting spells on each other while I got ready upstairs. Then I came into the living room and discovered that they were using bread knives as wands.

Geniuses, these children of mine.

So now we have a new family rule: "No casting spells with knives."

(Add that to our other firm house rules of "No acting like a gorilla" and "No licking babies.")

And some kids just sleep for that extra hour. Can you imagine?

Monday, November 5, 2018

And Then There Were Flu Shots

Who annoyed all of Target on Friday afternoon by allowing her six-year-old to roll around on the flooring screaming for 25 minutes?

(A hint: it was not Kelly Clarkson).

I decided to stop by the store after school to get my kids' flu shots. If you get a flu shot at Target, they give you a $5 coupon. It seems logical to me. "Here kid. Suffer through this shot and get $5 to buy something."

(Followed by an hour in the store wherein the kids can't understand why they can't buy a $79.99 LOL doll set or a $34.99 Barbie with their $5 coupon - and basically the whole idea is stupid and not worth it, lesson learned).

From the second we pulled in the parking lot, Zoe went ballistic. I had to remove her from the van by her leg because she was crouched down behind a seat screaming. I dragged her in the store, and boy, I'll tell you what! That pharmacist heard us coming!

The pharmacists know who I am. I'm sure they know a lot of their customers, but the reason they know me is because they once messed up on one of our prescriptions and double-dosed my child with antibiotics (it was a big deal, and I had several apologetic phone calls, and ever since then, they treat me like royalty). I'm cool with that.

But in addition to that, I always have at least one kid screaming when I go to the pharmacy, and I'm usually there in sweat pants after three days of not showering, and just to make it even more interesting, I'm picking up anti-depressants. So yeah... they know me. I'm the depressed housewife with the annoying kids.

Anyway, I approached the counter with a big smile on my face (just to let them know the anti-depressants are working) and an animalistic child thrashing in my arms and said, "Do you have time to do flu shots for us?"

Then it was insurance and paperwork and screaming for the next 15 minutes until it was finally time to stick 'em.

Zoe ran and hid from me over and over, and then I had to crawl in the vaccination booth with her and put her in a straight jacket with my arms and legs until her shot was complete. We were all sweaty and smelly by the time it was done, and the ambiance of the entire store changed when Zoe finally stopped screaming. It was like the building, itself, was sighing with relief

(An hour later, Eva started screaming because she wanted chocolate coins, but she'd picked out a stuffed dog, and well... it got ugly, and one of our coupons didn't work, so we had to go to customer service - child still crying - and the lady there said, "Oh, you're the one with the crying children! You've been here for a really long time!" because an hour previously, she'd come back from her lunch break and had to step over Zoe tantruming in the middle of an aisle).

(We were there for two hours total).

That night my girls all slept at their aunt's house, and she paid them half a million dollars to dust a shelf. Guess where we ended up the next day?

Sorry, Target!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

What Happened...

... When I Woke Up This Morning:

I forgot about daylight savings. Something crazy must have happened in the night because my cell phone was unplugged from its charger and flung across the room when I woke up (I fell asleep listening to Harry Potter on a sleep timer, so I know it was on my nightstand when I drifted off). When I finally found it, I picked it up and the time reflected an hour earlier than I thought it was. Between my cell phone moving in the night and the time changing, I was a very confused person.

...Right Before an Extended Family Photo Session Yesterday:

Daisy and Zoe ate Ring Pops, but not just any Ring Pops! TONGUE PAINTER Ring Pops! So their teeth, their lips, their tongues, and half their faces were dyed blue. Then Eva helped herself to my bronzer, and she came out of the bathroom looking like an Oopa Loompa. I held her up so she could see herself in the mirror, and she said, "Oh. I guess I'll take a bath." Five minutes after I got her out of the tub, I found her in the kitchen drawing all over her hands and arms with Sharpies. At that point, I just gave up. When you have 75 people in a family photo (that is an accurate number, I'm not being my usual exaggerating self here) who's going to notice two blue kids and a little girl with Sharpie on her hands?

...When I Brought a Kid Home From School Last Week:

I had the mother's permission to bring a child home from school last week, but the family had a miscommunication and the police were called. I now refer to the incident as "the time I accidentally kidnapped someone."

...When I Took My Three-Year-Old to My Dentist Appointment:

Nicky was going to watch Eva for me while I went to the dentist, but at the last minute, Eva begged me to take her with me. When we got into the exam room, she suddenly flipped out because her pants were bugging her. I told her to play PBS on my phone until I was done having my teeth cleaned and then we would go fix her pants, but she wouldn't relent. I asked the hygienist if  she would mind if I took Eva to the bathroom to see what was wrong with her pants.

In the bathroom, Eva stripped herself down, turned her pants inside-out, and put them back on. Then she decided that wasn't right so she took them off again, turned them back around, and
put them on exactly how they'd been in the first place. Then she said, "There! That's better!"

I made the hygienist wait ten minutes for that.

...While I was Trying to Clean the House for Zoe's Birthday Party:

Eva colored all over the couch with a dry erase marker.

...When I Weaned Myself Off Caffeine Last Week:

I had three days of horrible headaches that made me swear I would never drink caffeine again. I used to not have withdrawal symptoms when I stopped drinking caffeine, but for the last year, if I don't have caffeine every day, I get a really bad headache, and the only thing that fixes it is... caffeine!

After the three days of headaches, I was okay.

...When I Came Home From Church Today After Practicing the Primary Program for Two Hours:

I paid my son a dollar in exchange for a Pepsi he got trick or treating. Mama needed caffeine.

I don't wanna talk about it.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Halloween Things

I release the biggest sigh of relief when Halloween is over. I was so excited to throw away the jack 'o lanterns on my porch yesterday (how exciting that garbage day coincided with the day after Halloween - it was perfect!)

I suffer from major Halloween anxiety. Well, to be honest, I have really bad anxiety about all holidays, but Halloween is one of the hardest.

Ahhhhhhhhh! It's over!

Now I just need to deal with the candy problem.

As you may recall, I typically dress up in sketch comedy inspired Halloween costumes. It's a lot of fun, but also really stupid because no one ever knows what I'm supposed to be, and I spend all of Halloween explaining myself.

{2017 - Camp Winnipesaukee a la Jimmy Fallon}

{2016 - Sara with no 'H' a la Jimmy Fallon}

Lunch Lady
{2010 - Lunch Lady a la Chris Farley on SNL}

Did Somebody Say Plastic Sur-Ger-YYYY?
{2009 - breast implant a la Justin Timberlake on SNL}

Halloween 2008 
{2008 - Mary Katherine Gallagher a la Molly Shannon on SNL}

 This year, as a nod to Will Ferrell, I was Little Debbie.

{2018 - Little Debbie a la Will Ferrell on Jimmy Fallon}

I think everyone thought I was just a fat pioneer. 


It's cool.

Scotty invested in a vibrant orange wig so he could be Ron Weasley.


Nicky wanted to be Cheerios. I don't know where he came up with that, but he was persistent, so I made him a Cheerios costume. 


Daisy was a unicorn, Zoe was a wiener dog, and Eva was a dragon but changed into a cat at the last minute (as three-year-olds are known to do).

We went to 5,001 Halloween events and consumed 12 tons of candy, so I'm definitely going to need some turkey and mashed potatoes soon to reset my system.

Cue Thanksgiving anxiety.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Happy Fall, Y'all!

I love Fall!

This morning after I dropped my kids off at school I went for a short walk. I like taking some time - whenever possible - to be outside in the cool air, get a little exercise, and listen to an audiobook or podcast. It's good for my soul.

Here it is... November. I think it's one of my favorite months.

This morning on my walk, I was very attentive to the leaves. Winter is chasing us, right now, and it will catch us any moment. We've hit the point where there's a noticeable difference each day as the leaves continue to change and break away from their branches. We're in our last moments of this glorious season. There has been a splendid array of fall foliage in the valley this year. So many reds, oranges, and yellows! Every day there are more leaves on the ground and fewer on the trees.

Many of the leaves have fallen so recently that they still have their vivid colors. There were scatterings of red on my walk today with the most beautiful shapes and rippled edges. I'm constantly in awe at this feature of nature. It's incredible!

This past Sunday we arrived home from a trip to Star Valley. Everyone was in desperate need of a shower, but we postponed our hygiene while we went to visit Scotty's mom. The weather was gorgeous so we went out in the backyard. The kids started piling leaves at the bottom of the slide, and pretty soon, we had a full-fledged leaf party.

Then Scotty suggested that we go to the church up the street and make a big pile of leaves. The kids had a blast, and everyone had dead leaves in their hair and underwear. Even Grandma. Good thing we post-poned those baths!

One thing about Fall - if you're not willing to be a little spontaneous, you might miss out.