Dec 30, 2007

Lessons Learned from This Year's Holiday Travel...

(I'm supposed to be cleaning the fridge. Ssshhhhh--don't tell the Cat Daddy!)
  1. The Extra Large Space Bag is not wide enough for a convertible carseat. The Jumbo has yet to be tested.
  2. Delta will provide a semi-protective plastic bag when you check a carseat. US Airways will provide a thin, clear garbage bag, and then a second one when the seat splits the first one straight away. And plenty of packing tape.
  3. The US Airways reps here in the States will say that a checked carseat does not count as one of your two bags, but US Airways rep Glen in the Philippines will say that it does.
  4. When traveling with a one-year-old, curbside check-in is totally worth the $2 per bag, plus tip.
  5. When traveling with a one-year-old, most conveniences are totally worth the extra cost.
  6. A backpack that snaps to the stroller is convenient in the airport, but a total pain all other times if it doesn't have any other straps or handles. Better to take the big, hideous, pink camouflage bag next time.
  7. A Boeing 757 is a larger aircraft than the 737, but the under-the-seat clearance in the 737 better accommodates a Sherpa Bag containing a 16-lb cockapoo.
  8. When a one-year-old spends the morning out with the grandmas, assuming he comes back in one piece, it's better not to ask about the details.
  9. Burlington Mall remains the home of the undisputed Santa champion of the world.
  10. Golden, Colorado is home to the largest Eddie Bauer Outlet store in history, which has crazy-good deals.
  11. Having milk delievered from a local 'boutique' dairy is totally worth an extra $.35 per gallon.
  12. Surprisingly, the drop-down changing tables in airplane lavatories are quite convenient.
  13. When the seatbelt sign is on and the flight attendants implore passengers to stay seated for their own safety unless it's an absolute emergency, a one-year-old peeing thru his diaper not only qualifies as an absolute emergency, but will also earn sympathetic looks from all the passengers (and crew) on the way to the lav.
  14. Older planes have the 'no-smoking' and 'fasten-seatbelt' lighted signs. Newer planes have the 'fasten-seatbelt' and 'turn-off-all-electronic-devices' signs.
  15. Nursing on the plane keeps baby happy. Happy babies on the plane keep everyone else happy. Nursing = good.
  16. The TSA website specifies only that a 'reasonable' amount of baby-liquids may be brought on the plane, so the grumpy agents in Phoenix should lay off already.
  17. Given plane tickets and put in a situation of travel, ordinary people who are normally giant three-year-olds become giant three-year-old savages.

Dec 18, 2007

Trauma for Santa...

Poor Santa can't catch a break this year...

DANBURY -- A 33-year-old woman was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault Saturday after allegedly groping a man playing Santa Claus at the Danbury Fair mall.

Sandrama Lamy, 33, of Danbury, is charged with fourth-degree sexual assault, according to Danbury Detective Lt. Thomas Michael.

Two messages seeking comment were left on Lamy's answering machine.

Details leading up to the alleged fondling are sketchy.

"I don't know what the deal was. It was just bizarre," the mall Santa told a reporter, referring all other questions about the incident to Cherry Hill Photo, the company that runs the Danbury Fair mall Santa photo setup.

Cherry Hill Photo did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

According to information provided by the Danbury Police Department, officers were dispatched to the mall Saturday at 8:45 p.m.

The mall Santa told police that Lamy touched him inappropriately while sitting on his lap.

"The security officer at the mall said Santa Claus has been sexually assaulted," Michael said.

Lamy was also charged with breach of peace.

"She must have caused a commotion over there," Michael said.

Lamy was released on a promise to appear Jan. 3 in Danbury Superior Court.

Danbury Fair mall spokeswoman Melissa Eigen called the alleged groping "an isolated incident."

"The safety of our guests and employees is a top priority, and we strive to create a safe and enjoyable shopping environment at all our facilities and Danbury Fair specifically," Eigen said.

2007 has not been a great year for mall Santas.

Earlier this month in Missoula, Mont., a mall Santa was assaulted with a pumpkin pie.

Meanwhile, a department store Santa in Australia claims he lost his job earlier this month because he said "Ho, ho, ho." His bosses had asked him to say "Hi, hi, hi."

"Santa Tim" Connaghan is the president of and teaches hundreds of people a year how to be Santas. He said the Danbury Fair mall incident, if true, is one of kind.

Santas usually have to worry about kids tugging beards and teens throwing pennies from the mall rafters.

"I have been doing this 40 years, and I've never heard of charges being lodged either way -- by a guest against a Santa or a Santa against a guest," Connaghan said.

It isn't unusual for an adult to sit and pose with a picture with a mall Santa.

"I've had some very nice ladies sit on my lap," Connaghan said.

A harmless flirtation isn't out of the norm.

"Once in a while they'll say 'I hope Mrs. Claus isn't going to be upset.' You have to be discreet and kind and say 'Oh no, she'll be OK. You can sit here, but only for one photo.'"

Dec 11, 2007

After A Long Day...

I know what the 'rules' are. I know that I can try and try, and think I have covered all the bases, and still come up short...and that it's just the way it is sometimes because I am an imperfect person in an imperfect world. I know that when I come upon a problem, the better way to deal with it is to attack it together instead of fighting against the other person. I know that everyone makes mistakes, that sooner or later everyone drops the ball on their responsibilities, and even that sometimes things happen beyond our control that leave us with a mess to clean up to make things right again.

And yet...every so often I feel so tired of fighting against the tide of life's difficult parts, and keeping my 'chin up' amid conflicts, and asserting my boundaries, and making the day-in-and-day-out-effort that it takes to be healthy. I have my moments where I hang my head in defeat because there's nothing more I can say or do. Right or wrong, there's no fight left in me. In those moments there is a hovering futility and I know that it is not my moment to be heard, to be understood...and that I need to let it go because that's how it goes sometimes.

I hate those moments.

Do You Know the Way...

That’s right, I’m in San Jose—how cool is that! Last Friday (Friday) my boss asked if I could be in California by Monday morning (Monday) to witness some testing for one of the programs my department supports. I said, “I need to be back before next Friday; the Cat Daddy leaves town that day and someone has to attend to His Highness.” And they said, “No problem.” And darn it, I couldn’t think of a single reason not to go. So I made some reservations in a hurry, and spent a hectic weekend running around like a headless chicken doing laundry and making other preparations, and Sunday afternoon I caught a plane, and here I am.

Some of you will know San Jose as the heart of the silicon valley…lots of technological stuff going on here. I can now die knowing that I’ve driven by the eBay and Yahoo headquarters. I didn’t go in (I’m sure I’d have been promptly escorted out), but I saw them up close with my own eyes. And then it dawned on me that they were office buildings just like all the other office buildings around them, probably filled with cubicles like the one I’m temporarily occupying, and people doing various types of work and complaining about having to work just like the rest of us. Maybe.

Still, those of us who live in New England always appreciate the opportunity to escape during the winter (much like my Phoenecian friends going north in the summer). Last week I was wearing a face mask, jogging into the icy winds and wondering whose stupid idea it was for me to be outdoors in such weather; last night I sauntered out in a t-shirt and shorts for a quick jaunt down the road before stopping at Chipotle for a fajita burrito "bol." And it was 4 pm and still light out! You just can’t beat that for a December evening.

And further, those of us who are mommies always appreciate the opportunity to leave the kiddo(s) with daddy for a few days. The Cat Daddy has gone out of town a few times since His Highness was born, so of course I had to take a turn too, since I'm ridiculously particular about fairness and taking turns. Plus it gives them a chance to do manly things together, and that’s gotta be a good thing.

Oh, and there’s a craft fair going on this week at the facility I’m visiting. Craft fair! My eyes are glazing over and my mind is saying “must have that, and that, and that…” Thus far I’ve limited it to sampling the fudge in one booth but seriously, I had to remove myself before I lost all rational thought. The beaded necklaces might be calling me back though—must…have…pretties…

Dec 7, 2007

Things I Do...

...As I get tired, I talk. A lot. Suddenly everything is quite an interesting story. Actually it's more like babbling. And the more tired I get, the more I find it necessary to talk. And then the next day I think "Why on earth did I tell that story? It made no sense. Why did I think that would be even remotely interesting?" Apparently fatigue, to my body, is like alcohol. If someone wanted to get info out of me, all they would have to do is wait until I got tired...

...Ask questions at inopportune times. Nothing catastrophic, mind you. Just not the best timing. Case in point: as a friend was signing his daughter out of daycare--"Hey, what is your wife going to do about daycare while you're deployed?" An honest question, probably no big deal. But standing in the daycare lobby in front of the staff--not as discreet as I could be. Oh and THEN when it dawns on me, like 3 sentences later, I end up overcompensating by affirming again & again what the person is saying. I'm usually fine with my occasional foot-in-mouth syndrome; it's just happening a little more often than normal lately. I really, really think it's a result of going off the SSRI. SSRI's tend to mellow a person, which in my case might also mean that it amps up my internal censor. No SSRI = internal censor goes from automatic to manual. With no warning.

So if I say something dumb around you, just say "Dude, not here," and bear with me. I'm re-orienting my internal censor...

Dec 4, 2007

Smiling Polar Bear Cubs...

Coke vs. Pepsi: As a kid I didn't really care but if I had to choose I'd pick Coke. In college and the early years of our marital bliss, the Cat Daddy and I preferred Pepsi. In recent years, however, I've slipped back toward Coke. Everyone says Pepsi is 'sweeter,' which I sort of agree with, except I don't think 'sweeter' is the precise term. The flavor is just different, which most know is attributed to Pepsi's citrus flavor-base versus Coke's vanilla one. And I swear Coke helps with nausea. Pepsi--not so much.

As for the Cat Daddy, he's completely crossed over to the dark side of diet sodas. That's one place I'll never go. Never, I say! Artificial sweeteners and I don't get along very well. Even dice with me. The lone exception is sugarless gum; everything else I'll just do without before consuming the sugarless version.

A few years ago, when the Cat Daddy deployed to the desert, I was taking him to the airport. It was a cold, November night at some ungodly hour, like 2am. I had gone to bed early to get some rest, and then as we began the ride to the airport I brought along a Hot Pocket and a Coke as a pick-me-up. I figured, since I was saying goodbye to him for 4 months and all, that I'd earned them. I remember very little of what we talked about that night, but I distinctly remember saying "This is the best Coke I've ever had." And the Cat Daddy said something like "It's because it's nighttime. Everything tastes better after midnight." I think I remember him saying there was some sort of scientific basis, but it was 2am, so I might've dreamed it; who knows.

WELL, this weekend I was grocery shopping and had a wicked headache. The kind of headache that needs ibuprofen to feel better, but that caffeine tends to help as well. And even though it was about 4pm, way after my normal lunchtime cutoff for caffeine consumption, I marched over to the cooler and grabbed a bottle of Coke for the ride home. Hit the self checkout, then walked out into the crisp night air (because night comes around 4pm here these days), twisting off the cap and taking my first swig.

Now normally when I get a 20 oz bottle, I try to drink half and save the rest for later, but this time I downed the whole thing within the 15-minute drive home. I didn't even bother trying to stop myself. The taste rivaled that of the Coke of November 2003, on the way to the airport when the Cat Daddy deployed. It was that good.

And then I realized the common denominator. Grandma likes a cold beer on a hot day...and I like an icy-cold Coke on an icy-cold night. I like to think it's something about the air pressure, or the smell of snow or something, but who knows. I do remember that in neither instance was I drinking directly out of a can. The 2003 Coke came from a can, but I drank it from a cup (and on the rocks). Cans are fine, but for a fuller Coke experience you can't go wrong with glasses and/or bottles. Or--even better--glass bottles.

I always thought the Coke ads with the polar bears were a little unrealistic, but now I know otherwise--Coke and winter nights go together just fine!

So see what you think...cold Coke on a cold night (below freezing if possible, but definitely sub-40 degrees. Make sure you're bundled up and enjoy!