Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hello everybody, thanks to an unusually busy weekend, I neglected my blog.  So for this week, I present you with a rerun of one of my most popular posts,  ENJOY!

The B. A.T. Invasion

The early evening air gathered thick outside, the kind of air welcomed with open arms by electric companies as people hide behind closed doors and windows and happily crank up their air conditioning units to escape the summer scorcher.

While my husband Bob and my then six-year old daughter Melissa, now 14, quietly watched cartoons, I crept up to my room in our modest town home,  turned on the ceiling fan and placed my head gently on the pillow, hoping to close my eyes for a few minutes before Melissa's night time bath routine brought me out of my slumber.

In the distance I heard a low rumble, alerting me to the inevitable approach of the kind of thunderstorm that strikes at the heart of humidity.  

I had barely had time to drift into REM sleep when I heard Bob call my name, caution in his voice.  Bleary eyed, I sat on the edge of the bed, trying to comprehend his cryptic message.

"Lisa, there's a B. A. T. in the house," he spelled with forced calm, hoping Melissa wouldn't catch on.

As I walked into the hallway and watched a scene of horror unfold before my eyes, I quickly deduced that Bob had not been talking about bats of the baseball kind.  

A black creature with a wing span of 4,000 feet flew up the stairs, his goal to attack and turn me into a vampire! With my cat following close behind (although I've never been quite sure what the fearless feline would have done if he had caught the darn thing) Mr. B. A. T. flew into Melissa's bedroom.  Thinking fast, I raced to close her bedroom door and trap him in there.  Her sleeping quarters not being an issue at the moment, I naturally assumed she'd just bunk in my bed for the rest of her life.

Unfortunately, Mr. B. A. T. had other plans.  No sooner did he enter Melissa's room did he fly back out again, straight for my face!  So, in an effort to stay calm so as not to upset my daughter, I did what all mature, grown up, rational adults do in moments like this.  


In my effort to escape my impending death, I turned, tripped over my cat, nearly fell down the stairs (breaking my toe in the process) and ran into the living room where Bob still tried to convince Melissa that our friendly neighborhood B. A. T., still in hot pursuit, was, in reality, just a bird.

Bob opened the sliding glass doors that led to our small back yard and hurried Melissa and me outside.  Still screaming, I ran into our yard, then around to the front of the house where our next door neighbors Angelica, Louie, and their two young sons Chris and Brandon had come outside to find out why the normally quiet Weinstein family had seemingly lost their minds.

As the thunder rumbled a bit louder in the distance, and the westward sky darkened, we caught our breath and, together with our neighbors, tried to develop a B. A. T. coping  strategy more effective than "spending the rest of our lives in a hotel."

Just then, another neighbor pulled up in his car, a young single guy named Don who seemed to think we should just go into our house and trap the B. A. T. in a paper shopping bag, bring the bag outside and release the creature back into the wild, if you can call a New Jersey suburb "the wild".

Hmmmm, should we  choose Holiday Inn, Hilton, Sheraton, or Marriott?

Fortunately, Don offered to play the "catch the bat in the bag"  game for us.  

Angelica volunteered a paper shopping bag, handed it to Don, and wished him luck as he entered the B. A. T. lair of doom.  A few minutes passed with no word from Don.  The thunder grew a bit louder and flashes of lightening were now visible on the horizon.     
Still, in the still air we waited, and waited, and waited.

Finally, Don emerged with "bat in bag" and, as Melissa, Chris, Brandon, Bob, Louie, Angelica, and I all let out blood curdling streams loud enough to rival the approaching thunderstorm, Don released the B. A. T. from the bag of captivity.

End of story.  

Or so we thought.

Fast forward to "B.A.T. Invasion - Day Two".  

The next night, with Melissa bathed and tucked snugly into bed, I noticed the cat staring intently at our air conditioning vent.  Knowing full well that cat ears hear things that human ears can't decipher, I became concerned.  


Bob and I watched in horror as claws appeared gripped onto the inside of our living room air vent, looking for an escape route.  

Not wanting to wake Melissa, I kept my screams to a minimum and instead, frantically dialed the local animal control office who informed us that bats eat pesky insects like mosquitoes and are therefore a protected species.  Their hands were tied.  The B. A. T. would have to stay.  Quite frankly, I didn't care if bats ate mosquitoes, grass hoppers, locusts, dogs, cats, pigs, bears, or killer sharks.   I WANTED THE CREATURE OUT OF MY HOUSE!

Willing to risk any punishment animal control forced upon me, I took a can of RAID flying insect killer and sprayed it into every single air vent.  Then, drawing on super human strength that only appears when confronted with creatures of the dark, I positioned heavy furniture so that it covered nearly every air vent.  Just let that B. A. T. even try to attempt escape!  Not on my watch.

The next day, we had a guy from a pest control service check out our home.  He quickly determined that Mr. B. A. T. had either died, escaped or evaporated, either way, no sign of the winged wonder existed in our air events, or anywhere else in the house, for that matter.

We had survived our terrifying encounter unscathed. But sometimes, during that brief time of day when daylight transforms into the grey skies of dusk, I see bats flying about in the distance and I wonder, do they know I probably killed their cousin?


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Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Comedy Club
(Where I earn my "Mother of the Year" award)

This weekend my husband Bob, daughter Melissa, and I journeyed up the New Jersey Turnpike to that great island nestled between the Hudson and East rivers.  Yes, my friends, I am talking about Manhattan.   The original purpose for our mini-getaway came thanks to Bob's ongoing desire to nurture my obsession with Harry Potter.  He surprised me on my birthday three months ago with tickets to a theatrical parody called "Potted Potter", where two very talented performers tell the story of all seven books in 70 minutes, compete with audience participation.

Our original plan involved a day trip on Sunday, however, a chance encounter with a discount hotel website allowed us to stay overnight for a third of the usual cost (unbelievable).  So, on Saturday morning, with bags packed and the cat we went, encountering limited traffic (unheard of), and arriving at our hotel in less than two hours (uncanny).  Anxious to pound the pavement, we set out on foot for the few short blocks to the center of it all, joining every man, woman, and child who currently inhabit the planet in Times Square, where the crowds, coupled with 90 degree weather and oppressive humidity, added to our enjoyment.

As we navigated our way around strollers and street vendors, two men selling tickets to some kind of show approached us in the hopes of snagging a sale.  Intrigued, I stopped and listened to their spiel.  Seems a comedy club on the upper west side promised an inexpensive evening of side splitting laughter courtesy of seven talented comedians who the two sales guys assured us were quite famous in their own right.  I looked at Bob who seemed somewhat indifferent to the proposal.  "It's up to you," he shrugged.

I wanted to go, but, having attended comedy clubs in the past, worried that Melissa, at the age of 15, would be too young to get in.  After expressing this concern to the ticket salesmen, they assured me the club allowed entry to people 15 and older.  In retrospect, with their desperation to make their commission, I suspect they would have said the same thing to parents of children age 12, 8, 5, etc.

The only caveat...the club imposed a strict two drink minimum charge per person.  Ok, no big deal there.  We are not heavy drinkers, so a Shirley Temple for the kid and a couple of diet cokes for Bob and me, how bad could it be?

We made our way to the subway and joined the majority of the world's population in the crowded, NON-AIR CONDITIONED station.  We boarded the train and stood for the brief ride uptown to the neighborhood that played host to the comedy club.  Once we had staked our claim at the end of the line, Bob glanced at the age restrictions written in small, fine print on the ticket.

"Melissa," he said quietly to our innocent offspring.  "If anyone asks, you are 16."

She rolled her eyes and nodded, not really caring about our secret plan to outwit the comedy club.

After a half and hour wait, a rather large man finally escorted the crowd of about 100 people into a room no larger than my kitchen, and sat Bob, Melissa, and me at a table tiny enough to fit in a doll house, that, lucky for us (or unlucky depending on your perspective) placed us directly in front of the soapbox-sized stage.

Melissa had worried she'd be the only teen in the room, and I reassured her that there would most certainly be many, many children accompanying their parents to a comedy club where alcoholic drinks are consumed by the gallon.  Yes indeed, a regular family-friendly establishment!

Of course, one glance at our fellow comedy seekers proved me a liar.  Oh well, so she might be the only young one in the room.  Still, how bad could it be?

We had not eaten dinner, having been told by the ticket salesmen that the comedy club offered an array of good eats prepared by award winning chefs.  One glance at the menu and Bob and I decided that an appetizer would have to suffice, as a full course meal might mean a second home mortgage.

Hamburger: $3,974.21
Cobb salad: $1,265.72
Chicken Parmesan: $9,467.82

At least if we only ordered appetizers we'd merely have to take out a small loan.

Nachos: $540.16
Chicken fingers: $672.33

Now the drinks, that was a different story.  Seems a "two-drink" minimum in reality meant $15 a person.  So much for the cheap entry fee, they kill you with the drinks.

After our waitress dutifully took our order and much too obviously expressed her annoyance that our under-age daughter only ordered a Shirley Temple and that Bob merely asked for a diet coke (I actually ordered alcohol) the show started!

Out came comedian number one who immediately began poking fun at the couple sitting to our right.  Despite our worry that we'd have to look for a second job to pay for this night out, Bob and I found ourselves laughing....and so did Melissa.  Then, things took a turn for the worse.  I don't remember the comedian's exact routine, but it went something like this:

Yada yada yada yada yada yada f-bomb f-bomb f-bomb, sh_ _ , yada yada yada f-bomb sh_ _.

I looked around the room, knowing that everyone only pretended to be laughing to hide the fact that they were thinking, "How could that man and woman bring a child so young into this establishment.  What kind of parents are they!?"

What kind of parents indeed?

As the comedian dropped a few more f-bombs, I glanced at my daughter, who delighted in every expletive.  I suppose reaching over and covering her ears would attract unnecessary attention at this point.  I resigned myself to enjoy the evening, and hoped the next comedian would be a tad bit "cleaner".

After 15 minutes, comedian number two took the stage and launched into a side-splitting story involving very specific male and female body parts, therefore reaffirming my place as mother of the year.  Ear plugs!  Please!  I need to buy ear plugs RIGHT NOW!

I stole a glance at Melissa, who laughed along with the rest of the crowd.


Comedian numbers three and four proceeded to take the stage, and again, although I don't remember their routine word for word, it went something like this:

Yada yada, f-bomb, f-bomb, sh_ _, f-bomb, yada yada, male body part, female body part, f-bomb.

My child, my baby, my sweet young innocent offspring who for years admonished Bob and me every time we used a seemingly tame curse word such as "damn" or "crap", now sat in the company of, I admit, some of the funniest guys I'd ever seen, who, despite their talent, were corrupting my young daughter.

Comedian number five took the stage and, halfway through his routine, suddenly noticed Melissa sitting dead center.  "Aren't you a little young to be in here," he asked as her face turned bright red.  "Aren't you only in college or high school?"

"I'm in high school," she nervously responded, as everyone in their room pulled out their cell to call the Department of Youth and Family Services.

Oh boy.

About 50,000 f-bombs later, the show came to a close, but not before the MC took the stage and handed me my "Mother of the Year" honor (I'm kidding).

The next day we saw "Potted Potter", a hysterically funny theatrical performance that mercifully, was devoid of any unsavory language.

After finally arriving home on Sunday evening, we got out of the car, grabbed our luggage, and slowly made our way to the front door, where representatives from the Department of Youth of Family Services stood waiting for us.....

I tried to convince them,  "I'm REALLY A GOOD MOM, really good, really, really, really....except when we go to comedy clubs!

(If you enjoy my stories feel free to tell me in the comments below!)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bathing Suit Shopping
(A great way to build self-esteem)

Walk into your neighborhood book store and head on over to the self-help section.  Once there, you'll be sure to find rows upon rows of well written words of advise from self-proclaimed doctors, psychologists, and get well gurus who will gladly fill your head with pages of wondrous wisdom designed to lead you on the path to endless joy and self-fulfillment.

However, I have a faster way to get  you thinking about how wonderful you are.

Go bathing suit shopping.


In every department store in the world, sales reps should change the signage from "bathing suit" department  to "self-help" department.  For once there, you'll hear women crying, screaming, pounding their heads on the walls, all in an effort to "let it all out" and follow that glorious path of self-improvement!

It had been quite some time since I took this self-improvement journey.  However, during a recent visit to  our local swim club, I looked down at the bathing suit fit snugly on my body and noticed a (gasp) tear in the fabric.  Hoping my fellow pool mates would not see the 10 foot long  quarter inch rip across my stomach, I hurriedly threw a t-shirt over my head and hid my suit from public view  for the remainder of the day.

Of course, after discovering this wardrobe malfunction, I realized I could no longer don this particular piece of swim wear, leaving me with only one bathing suit left in my closet.  I could opt to wear this same suit over and over, however, my pool mates would most certainly notice.

Pool mate one:  "Can you believe Lisa is wearing that bathing suit again?"
Pool mate two: "I know, she wore it last weekend, can you believe it?"
Pool mate one:  "She probably didn't even wash it."
Pool mate two: "Well at least she's not wearing that horrible suit with the 10 inch tear."

With no other choice left to me, I set out to procure a new bathing suit, and to build some self-esteem along the way.

So off I traveled to the department store and proceeded to the "self-improvement" section. I suppose many women had already visited this part of the store for enlightenment, since the majority of the suits were marked at 60 percent off.  Woo hoo!  I felt better already.

Although the self-improvement section had slim pickings, I managed to find a handful in my size (whale).  Carrying suits of yellow, orange, black, and blue, I made my way into the dressing room.  The distinct sounds of sobs told me I had come to the right place.  I smiled to myself, knowing that so many other women were coming here to feel better.

I secured the dressing room door and wrestled with bathing suit number one, which immediately transformed me into a hippopotamus.  Although the "zoo animal" look certainly was chic, I decided to keep searching.

A sizzling, multi-colored number beckoned to me, and I happily struggled to get my various body parts through and under and around and over the multiple twists and straps.  I glanced in the mirror, only to see a reflection of a well endowed woman who revealed much more of her "endowment" than anyone but her husband should ever see, if you know what I mean.  I could feel the lump start to form in the back of my throat.  Oh boy, my self-esteem monitor was really started to rise!!

Next came a black beauty which promised to turn each woman who dared squeeze through the straps into a runway model.  I put one leg in, then the other, and up I pulled.  Yes, I could certainly see myself walking down the runway in this little baby....if I had been modeling MATERNITY CLOTHES.

The lump in my throat grew in size as I wiped a tear off my puffy cheek.  I was not afraid to let my emotions flow freely and fully embrace this self-improvement stuff!

One more to try on, a conservative blue and white bland bathing suit which sat alone on the rack, marked at 80 percent off, and praying that someone, anyone, would take it for a spin.  This time, the suit slid on quite easily, and my "endowment" fit nice and snug and secure in all of the right places.  I turned to look in the mirror and there, staring back at me grandmother.  Perhaps the suit was a bit too conservative.

With tears flowing freely, I took all of the bathing suits and threw them on the floor of the dressing room, feeling much, much to good about myself to properly return them to their hangers.

I walked out of the department store empty handed, but with a healthy dose of renewed self-esteem.

I can't wait to go suit shopping again!!!

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy 15th Birthday Melissa!

Stuffed inside every nook and cranny of a bookshelf in my living room are photo albums of every shape and size chronicling the highlights of my life.  These books of precious memories can easily be divided into two categories:

1. Before my daughter Melissa came along: 3 albums
2. After Melissa: 6,974 albums

Ok, so perhaps I am exaggerating....but only a bit!  Seems the arrival of my cherub 15 years ago sent me into a photo taking frenzy.

Melissa is sleeping - take a photo!
Melissa is crying - take a photo!
Melissa is eating - take a photo!
Melissa is pooping - take a .... wait, No!

The pages of these albums captured so much more than smiling faces hamming it for the camera, they preserved my thoughts, my emotions, my journey through the wonders of motherhood.  There are notes describing the daily activities of Melissa's first year, programs from countless talent shows and chorus concerts, report cards, birthday greetings, and Melissa-made drawings of cats and dogs, and flowers, and friends.

These days, it is a rare occasion where I can carve out a few  moments in my busy life to dust off the albums and immerse myself in memories of days gone by.   But today, perhaps, as I celebrate my daughter's birth, it's a good time to sit on the floor and open the pages to the past.

Or is it?

My Melissa has evolved from a 6 pound pumpkin who entered the world at 8:30 pm on July 1, 1997, into a beautiful, poised, talented, dedicated, creative, funny, intelligent, and wonderful young lady.

The age of 15 has ushered in a new era of independence for my offspring.  She has finished eighth grade and in two month's time she'll enter the doors to that bastion of older adolescence.... high school.   No longer can I justify allowing my overprotective nature to keep her confined to the house, afraid to let her ride her bike to the local pool, the library, or to meet a friend for ice cream.

The twinkle in her eyes tells me she has happily embraced this new found freedom, and provides a glimpse into the months...and years to come.  Biking will soon give way to driving, and high school will quick will give way to college, where I'll hide under the bed in her dorm room when I know I must truly let go.

But not yet, not now, not today.

We'll celebrate in a low key way, with my husband Bob, my inherited daughter Jessica and her boyfriend Brian, and a couple of Melissa's close friends.  There will be laughter, and food, and gifts, and phone calls from loved ones, and yes, of course, pictures.  

And the photo albums, well, perhaps they need to sit, undisturbed, at least for now.  For why should I celebrate my baby's birthday by clinging to the past, when I can relish in the beauty of today and enjoy all that she is, and all that she has become.

Happy birthday Melissa.  I love you!

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