Thursday, January 23, 2014

Melissa Fell Down!

Back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the planet, when visions of iPhones had not yet materialized in the mind of Steve Jobs, members of the general population were forced to capture the daily antics of their children on huge, bulky, complicated video cameras that even my husband Bob, a former TV director, had trouble operating.

Yet there he stood, camera in hand, in the middle of the sidewalk in front of our tiny townhouse in a suburban New Jersey town called Hillsborough. The subject of his attempt at an award-winning documentary? My daughter Melissa, three years old at the time (now 16), who would be attempting her first ride on her new tricycle.

My mother-in-law Pearl, enjoying an extended family vacation away from her North Carolina home, watched proudly from the sidelines as Melissa (with help from mommy) mounted the trike.  My little cherub placed her feet on the pedals and began her slow journey along the sidewalk.  All went well until it came time for "The Turn"!  Yes. The "treacherous" turn from the sidewalk onto the short path that led to our front door.  I suppose that Melissa, lacking the well honed skills of a seasoned tricycle rider, misjudged her approach. Turning the wheel too far to the right, gravity took over and my baby landed face down on the sidewalk.

Much to my chagrin, instead of helping, Bob continued filming Melissa as she lay there, waiting for her mommy to pick her up and make everything all better.  Fortunately, we found minimal damage on my offspring or on her bike, so we continued our carefree afternoon of pedal pushing down the pavement.

All was well.  That is...until later that evening when we snuggled onto the couch in our cozy living room and popped the video into the VCR (a rudimentary machine used to watch moving images).  The events of the afternoon filled the screen.  A smiling Melissa, waving proudly as she tackled her first bike ride.  Then came the "tragedy" of the misjudged right turn, a quick image of my horror-filled gasp, and the camera panning to a tight shot of Melissa face down on the sidewalk.

Bob, Pearl, and I turned our attention from the Melissa on the TV screen to the Melissa who sat cuddled next to us on the couch.  The twinkle in her big brown eyes had all but disappeared, and her mouth had formed that distinctive pout that signaled the start of her tears.

She pointed to the TV screen and cried out in anguish.....


I instinctively embraced my baby, assuring her that everything was just A-Ok.

That's when I heard the noise.

Uncontrollable giggles.

Yes. Fits of roaring, uncontrollable giggles coming from Grandma Pearl.

Realizing that her beloved grandmother was laughing at her, Melissa cried even harder.


To this day, my mother-in-law still roars with laughter when we retell the tale of Melissa's inability to make a right turn. In fact, that inability is still a cause for laughter!

Last Monday, my "baby" experienced another milestone in her young life, her first driving lesson!  I waited with anticipation by my office phone, anxious for details of her inaugural trip behind the wheel.  As soon as I heard her voice, I knew all had not gone according to plan.

"How was it?" I asked with excitement.

"Horrible," came her morose reply.

"Oh no," I exclaimed. "What happened?"

"Well mom, let's just say there are tire tracks across our front lawn."

With a tremendous amount of difficulty, I stifled a giggle, knowing that my laughter would not help comfort my daughter, who was already close to tears.  She went on to explain how, lacking the skills of a seasoned driver, she misjudged her approach to the driveway.  That, coupled with the instructor's stern demeanor and lack of clear instruction caused her to panic.  As a result she hit the accelerator a bit too hard.

She feared her mom and dad would either be angry or find the incident extremely funny. And quite frankly, she didn't know which reaction would be worse.

Privately, Bob and I did find it funny.  We bent over double with laughter!  In time, Melissa laughed too, as she took Steve Jobs' trusted invention out of the pocket of her jeans and snapped everlasting evidence of her first time driving a car.

Much like her first time riding a tricycle, I'm sure we'll be laughing for years to come!

The tire tracks on our lawn created by first-time driver Melissa!

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Loathing the Laundry 

Hidden inside the linen closet, across from the hall bathroom in the house my parents purchased in 1962, sat a faded pink hamper that played host to a daily stream of dirty socks, shirts, towels, and jeans. The image of my mother bending over the hamper, sorting the clothes into the designated "whites" and "darks" and carrying them down two flights of stairs to the laundry room 3,000 times a day is permanently emblazoned in my memory.

My mom would "oh so carefully" place the clothes into the washing machine, turn the dial to the appropriate setting based on the color, texture, style, make, and model of the garments in question, then tune in to the soaps to pass the time until the transfer from washer to dryer.

She chose the dryer cycle with the expertise born of experience, making sure nothing ever shrunk or shriveled.  Then she tuned in for a relaxing hour of "As the World Turns" until the sound of the buzzer told her it was time to painstakingly remove and fold each precious item with care, lest even one member of her family of five set foot outside in wrinkled clothing.

In my own small family of three, one might think that the use of mountain climbing equipment to get to the top of the laundry pile is completely unnecessary.  This is NOT the case.


I will answer with one word.


You see, with every 24-hour cycle, my 16-year old daughter Melissa seems to wear 14 tank tops, 22 sweat shirts, 39 pairs of pants, 274 sweaters, 1,345 pairs of pajamas, and 52,763 pairs of the socks.

In contrast, my loving hubby Bob, devoid of any desire to show off the latest fashions, wears the same two pairs of jeans for days on end before placing them in the "to be washed" pile.

As for me, to avoid wearing nothing but sweat pants each day, I cram my work clothes in with Melissa's stuff, not really caring if I'm seen in the same suit more than four times a month.  In fact, in vast contrast to my mother's June Cleaver method of cleaning clothes, here's how I, a full time working mom, tackle the task.

Step 1
At 6:30 am I take garments of every size, shape, color, and texture and shove them all into the washing machine together, hoping the cold water setting (which I never change) will prevent my red sweater from "bleeding" onto Bob's underpants.

Step 2
Before I go to sleep that night I transfer the clothes into the dryer.

Step 3
The next morning I pull the clothes I want to wear out of the dryer and leave the rest in there, telling myself I'll hang and iron them later.

Step 4
Later that day Melissa takes the laundry and throws the entire unfolded, now wrinkled pile onto the top of the dryer, picks out the clothes she needs, and leaves the rest for me to fold.

Step 5
That evening, I venture into the laundry room, throw in another load, steal a quick glance at the rumpled bundle still sitting on top of the dryer and - as I imagine accepting the honor as House Wife of the Year - ignore the clothes and climb into bed.

Step 6
Repeat steps 1 through 5.

I have often wondered, as I routinely stare with disgust at my own, never-ending mound of dirty clothes, why my mother never demanded that my dad or any of her three children help with this daily duty.

Finally, I posed the question.

"Mom, why didn't you pick me up by the nape of my neck and make me do my own laundry?" I asked, thinking about motivational techniques to get Melissa to embrace the joys of washing her own clothes.

"Well," she sighed.  "I had my routine, it was just easier to do it myself."


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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year's Day

Today is New Year's day.  I am sitting here thinking ahead to the long months of January and February, where daylight is scarce and winter weather advisories warn of weeks of plunging temperatures. 

Yet for today, just for today, I keep thoughts of cold and snow at bay while relishing in the memory of last night's celebration.  Gone are the days when New Year's Eve came with pressure to have the very best time dancing and drinking the night away.  Instead, my husband Bob, 16-year old daughter Melissa and I spent the last evening of the 365 day cycle in the comfort of our home, surrounded by people we love. 

The adults gathered in the family room to chat and reminisce as the clock ticked down the final hours of 2013, while the teens took over the living room... away from their embarrassing parents.

When the infamous Times Square ball prepared for its midnight drop, we poured the champagne (sparkling cider for the kids) and all gathered together, adults and teens alike, for the final count down.

10....9....8....7....6....5....4....3....2....1   HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I plopped onto Bob's lap and planted the first kiss of 2014 on his lips, as the kids popped open their containers of dollar store confetti!  Then came the hugs! Lots and lots of hugs as everyone in the room captured the moment of joy, of a new beginning, of a promise for 365 new days of peace, good health, happiness and love.  

Finally, as the adults tried their best to stifle their yawns, we cleaned up the confetti that now littered my carpet, piled the dishes in the sink, said our goodbyes, and wearily went to bed. 

Tomorrow we'll return to work and school and exercise and diets, but today, just for today, I'm content in knowing that 2014 started out right!

Happy New Year to all of my wonderful readers, and thank you for visiting my blog!

Bob and me at our New Year's Eve celebration!