Welcome to The Wheel of Disappointment

Recently, I’ve decided to start exercising. I’ll bet you already know where this story is headed.

Oh sure, I’ve been on this rusty hamster wheel before…always running, running, chasing the elusive weight loss dream.  It’s been an embarrassing amount of time (years?) since I rolled off the couch, but that hasn’t stopped me from setting some insurmountable goals for myself, blasting out of the gate at full speed, and then emotionally pummeling myself for not achieving any of it.

I call it The Wheel of Disappointment, and it goes like this:


I am always somewhere on this cycle. Never mind that the Cookie Dough Phase lasted about a decade once. Not important.  Anyway, I am fat and I am 50, which makes me the un-proud owner of a variety of fat-related, pharmaceutically treated conditions; thus, the exercise decision. Just this week, I entered the “attack goals with overly passionate vigor” phase.

I dusted off my cobwebby treadmill and decided to go running (ok, walking) on it for the first time in a thousand buckets of Blue Bell.  Was that enough for my Type A personality?  Oh hell naw. If I’m going to attack a goal, then why not overdo it? This is how I think.  So I borrowed an ancient copy of the “P90” exercise video, circa year 2000, from my fit and exercise-y brother.  I thought I saw a smirk when he handed over the box of DVDs. If you know anything about the P90 or P90X series, you know that these DVDs were not made for pansy-ass, whiney-butt, 40-hour a week in an office chair, sedentary couch-lovers.

So it probably will not surprise you to learn that I injured myself during my Attack Phase, but it certainly shocked the shit out of me. I learned some very important lessons about starting a new workout program:

  • Exercise does not like to be attacked with full force after years of total inactivity.
  • Exercise does not appreciate being neglected.
  • Exercise will cut you.

As a result of my dangerously enthusiastic attempt at turning my living room into a gym, I probably pulled every muscle in my body as it rose up in Holy Protest to high-five me in the face with pain.  And I didn’t even mention that I started this program with a previous foot injury, which is a hilarious sidenote, and by hilarious I mean incredibly stupid.  Back in late November, all my college kids were home for the holidays, and to celebrate I was baking – you’ll never guess what – CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES.  I pulled the hot stoneware cookie pan out of the oven and promptly dropped it on my foot.  Smart, right?  Now it feels like I’m walking on broken glass.

I got tired of waiting for it to heal, since it’s February already, man, so I decided to ignore it and start this exercise program anyway.  P90?  Hey, sure, let’s do it!  Which brings me to the three phases of Pain.  Pain is a stab-happy bastard and he will punch you in your saggy lady gut until you give him the attention he deserves.

  • Phase 1: “Oh hey, that hurts. I wish it would stop. Surely it will stop soon. I’ll take a few Tylenol.”
  • Phase 2: “OMIGAHHHH! Stab. Stab. This is never going away. I’ll probably need amputation. I can’t go the doctor because he will immediately cut off my limb right there in his office. I can’t afford a prosthetic foot, or a wheelchair, so I will probably have to go straight into Hospice and wait for Sweet Death to overtake me.”
  • Phase 3: “Ok, I’ll just have to live with it.” And then you promptly forget what not having an injury feels like and you settle into an uncomfortable but hopefully not forever friendship. And maybe even start an exercise program.

The good thing is that my husband and my teenagers, and even their boyfriends, are very supportive of my new home gym, and even join me in the P90 torture. They barely even break a sweat. Meanwhile, I turn into a pre-menopausal angry sweat machine who just wants to cry, punch the perky boob lady on the DVD in her smug face and eat cookies on the couch.

This is going to be a very long journey, guys, wish me luck but do NOT bake me any cookies.

Posted in Diet Failures, Dieting, Exercise, I hate it, Moms of Teenagers | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Travel is a lot of fun until somebody winds up dead in the TSA line.

TSA Lines are so long that…  well, you know.

Corpse in Atlanta IAH

by Cindy Haney

This morning on the way to work, I heard a report on the radio that the TSA in our nation’s airports are purposely delaying travelers at check-in and screening in order to draw attention to the need for more workers.  As a result, passengers are being told to arrive at their airport three hours before departure. How ridiculous is that?  Is this even legal?  How are they being allowed to do this?

Tens of thousands of people are missing their flights because of this steaming pile of dumb-assery thinking. And have you tried to book an airline ticket recently?  You have to sell a vital organ on the black market to afford even one damn ticket, so you certainly DO NOT want to miss your flight.  But you might.  Because you will either die of old age while waiting in the world’s longest line, or you will be put in jail for having a meltdown in public and screaming out “I wanna SHOOT somebody!,” which you cannot, under any circumstances, say in an airport, by the way.

My daughter, Amanda, 19, is traveling on an airplane for the very first time next week. This is a big deal. She is going with her dad and her sweet boyfriend on a business trip to see the Pacific Northwest for the first time.  As you might expect, she is eagerly anticipating this trip and all the amazing photo opportunities it will bring. Being that she has never had the oh-so-pleasurable experience of airline travel before, I thought I might suck some of the joy out of it because that’s what moms do.  And also, hey, these facts could come in handy, right?

Yes, air travel is fun. But the problem with air travel is that – now follow me closely here –  you have to actually go to an airport. This is a place which used to be a relaxing and stress-free environment, until 9-11 happened in 2001, and now everyone that steps foot in an airport is considered an armed and dangerous terrorist until otherwise proven a regular non-bomb wielding person.

The first person you will encounter in your airport experience is a woman named Judgy Judy at the ticket counter, who will stare at you with an Amber Alert look and then proceed to mentally waterboard you with personal questions such as “Do you plan on bombing this airport today?”  To which you will hopefully answer, “Um, No.” Spoiler Alert… the answers to the next 24 questions she asks you is also “No.” No. No. No. Still No.  And then she will send you to the next Fun Destination, called the TSA Molestation Station.

After 47 hours standing in a line that wraps around the airport six times, you will meet Officer Fred who, as part of his job description, has no concept of personal space and stares at you with the expression of a man who relaxes by strangling small furry animals. You notice that he smells like cigarettes and bad decisions. He then tells you to call him “Uncle Fred” and then grins at you under his hairy smugstache and says “Let’s get serious.” And that’s when the violation, I mean legal pat-down, begins.

Let’s pause here so that I might remind you that there is NO HUMOR in an airport. It’s a fact. Don’t even try to be funny.  Erase all smiles from your face.  In order to get through this humiliating experience, take my special mom advice.  Here are…

Seven Things you should never say to a TSA Agent:

  1. “YOU SHOULD SMELL MY NEW BATH BOMB.” No, NO, wrong choice of words. If you say the word “bomb”, they’re going to shut down the airport for 10 hours while they interrogate you and put you on the permanent Terrorist Watch List.
  2. “THAT PERSON LOOKS LIKE A TERRORIST.” Even though you actually think this because the person is wearing a turban, carrying a bloodied machete, and dragging what looks like a stiff  body bag, keep it to yourself!  If the TSA overhears you, there could an investigation, and you can forget making your flight. Plus, you’re now a racist.
  3. “MAN, I LOOK HOT, DON’T I?” Don’t dress overly sexy. In fact, a bag lady costume might be your best bet. A short skirt or a visible bra might warrant an extra-long pat-down in a “special room” by a trained sex worker, I mean TSA agent.  TSA’s slogan is now “Our business is to touch yours.”
  4. “DON’T HANDLE MY BAGGAGE!” See above. Oh, they’re gonna handle your baggage alright. Very thoroughly. If you’ve never been violated in public before, this is your chance. Unfortunately, cheap airlines are now charging an extra $15 molestation fee, so get ready to pay up, my friend.
  5. “I’D LIKE A FULL BODY SCAN INSTEAD OF A PAT DOWN.” If you get all diva-ish and start making demands, then blurry pictures of your genitals could end up on YouTube. But then again, without blurry pictures of genitals, there would be no YouTube.
  6. “I DON’T THINK I’M GETTING MY MONEY’S WORTH!” Speaking of extra fees, for the low, low price of $25 under the table, TSA screeners will give you a luxurious shiatsu massage, a breast exam AND an anal probe. That’s WAY cheaper than the doctor’s office. Think of it as your annual physical for a bargain basement price. No ObamaCare required.
  7. “WHERE CAN I GET SOME WINE AROUND HERE?” If Uncle Fred’s answer is “in the Yeti Cooler in the pilot’s cockpit”, do NOT get on the plane.  I repeat, DO NOT GET ON THE PLANE.

So Amanda, I really hope you enjoy your first unforgettable airline flight. As usual with my Blog, most of this Mom Advice is crap anyway. So try to forget all of this and have a great time traveling.  And give my love to Uncle Fred.

Posted in Airplane Travel, How to Survive Vacation with Teens, Moms of Teenagers, Summer Vacation Humor, Travel Stories, Vacationing With Teens | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Hopeless Case of Mr. Cash

Mr. Cash Illustration

When my daughters were young, we always read stories at bedtime. Sometimes, we’d put the books aside and make up original stories to tell to each other.  Often, they were fantastical stories that usually involved princesses and distant lands made entirely of candy, of course.  As they got older, at about the age when they could understand the concept of money and debt, I would tell them this story. It is a story with many layers of life lessons, and I thought you might enjoy telling it to your children.

Not long ago, there lived a man named Mr. Cash. Mr. Cash loved money. He loved everything about money. He loved the smell, the color, and the feel of money. He started out his life with very little money, and his family often went to bed hungry without any food in their bellies. Mr. Cash vowed to earn as much money as he could as soon as he was old enough. He vowed that he would live a lavish lifestyle someday, happily flaunting his expensive cars and his fine mansions.

And that’s just what he did.  Mr. Cash worked long, endless hours around the clock, for many, many years. He was so busy making money that he didn’t even come home most of the time.  In fact, his wife, Mrs. Cash, got so used to never seeing her husband that, after awhile, she stopped missing him so much and searched for new friends to help her with her loneliness. Mr. Cash’s two children never saw their father, and soon enough, they got used to his absence, too. They found other things to fill their time with, but it wasn’t always good things.  Sadly, his children had holes in their hearts, even though they didn’t understand why, and they were so desperate to fill up those empty holes, that they searched high and low for anything that they could to pour into it.

After years of endless work, Mr. Cash finally had everything he thought he wanted. Oh, you should have seen his golden mansion, his black limousine, his white pet tiger and his silver private jet!  But Mr. Cash was not an honest man. Not in the least. He loved money so much that he lied, stole, and cheated his way to riches. No one knew that he lied and stole money from his company, his government, his employees and even his family members. No one knew that he owed millions to some very dangerous people, and that he had never paid taxes in his life.  He was too greedy and refused to pay back any debts that he owed.

He got away with all that lying and cheating for many years. But as all black hearts tend to do, it ate away at him slowly, and little by little, his empire began to crumble. Even though she still loved him, his wife left him and took the children, too. His kids didn’t want to have anything to do with him. They didn’t even know him.

Debt collectors began calling day and night. His fancy cars and jets were taken away from him because he couldn’t pay what he owed.  Pretty soon, the bank foreclosed on his majestic mansion and he was forced to find a tiny shack in the woods to live in.  He asked friends and family if he could live with them, but by now, he had cheated and lied to everyone he knew, so no one dared to help him.  The really dangerous people came around soon enough and began threatening his life.  Mr. Cash tried to hide, afraid that he would be killed by the people who were demanding that he pay his debts.

But Mr. Cash couldn’t pay.  He was completely and utterly broke.  He lost his job when his company found out that he was stealing from them. He received a notice that he was going to be thrown in jail for the rest of his life. All of his remaining possessions were being given away, and suddenly, Mr. Cash had absolutely nothing left. No family, no home, no job, no money, no food. Nothing.

On his last day, Mr. Cash waited for the police to show up at his door. He tied a heavy rope to the ceiling, climbed on a chair, and prepared to end his life. Just as he was about to do so, a soft but persistent knocking started at his door.  The person on the other side was patient, but did not give up.  Finally, Mr. Cash wearily opened the door, fully expecting the police to haul him away.

It was the kindest, most humble face Mr. Cash had ever seen. The face was vaguely familiar, even though he knew he had never met him before. Wait. Was that a small tear in the corner of the stranger’s left eye?  He could not imagine who this person could possibly be. In a soft voice, the stranger said…

“Mr. Cash, I know you don’t know me, but I know you very well. I have a gift for you.”  The stranger handed him an enormous, colorfully wrapped box.

Mr. Cash took a step back, highly suspicious, and refused to take the box. He said, “Look, mister, I don’t deserve a gift of any kind. I’ve never been given a free gift in my entire life. Truthfully, my life is a horrible mess. You can’t even imagine the awful things that I have done. I deserve every bad thing that’s coming to me.”

With deep compassion in his eyes, the stranger said, “Mr. Cash, you are now free. I have paid back all of your debt, every last dime. You don’t have to worry ever again. You don’t have to earn this gift, or ever pay me back. It’s a free gift.  All you have to do is accept this box.”

The stranger gently hugged Mr. Cash, set the box down on the front step, and simply walked away.  Mr. Cash was left wondering who the man was, and why he would give HIM, of all people… the worst liar and cheater to ever live, any kind of gift.

He decided to accept the box. He had nothing left to lose. And when he opened it, sure enough, inside the box was thousands and thousands of receipts stamped “PAID IN FULL”.  Every last dime, and every last debt, had been paid.  The cancellation of his jail sentence was in there, too. And there was a letter from his wife saying that she still loved him, and was coming back to stay.  He was so thankful and humbled by what he found in that box that he fell to his knees and wailed and cried and cried.

Someone that he didn’t even know loved him so much, and had so much compassion for him, that he paid all of his debts for him. He had a dirty black heart, with a giant hole inside of it, and even though he deserved the worst kind of punishment, he received the greatest gift of all instead.  Love. Forgiveness. Redemption. And a second chance to make it right.

Suddenly, the hole in Mr. Cash’s heart was filled to the brim. All because of a mysterious gift called Grace.

This is the story of Jesus Christ. It is an illustration of the grace he gave each and every one of us when he died on that old cross 2,000 years ago, this Easter. All of us have sin in our lives, and some of us spend a lifetime trying to fill up that black hole in our hearts. But we fill it with so many wrong things. We all owe a debt we cannot possibly pay. We deserve the worst kind of eternal punishment. But Jesus came and took our place instead.  He was our substitute, so that we don’t have to pay our debt. He offers each of us a box full of grace and mercy. We don’t even have to earn it. All we have to do is open the box, accept it, believe, and try to live a thankful life.  Happy, happy Easter, everyone!

Romans 3:23-25

All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, but all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus.  Through his faithfulness, God displayed Jesus as the place of sacrifice where mercy is found by means of his blood. 

Romans 5:16

The gift isn’t like the consequences of one person’s sin. The judgment that came from one person’s sin led to punishment, but the free gift that came out of many failures led to the verdict of acquittal.


Posted in Faith and Christianity, Life Skills, Moms of Teenagers | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Why Do Writers Need to Write?

ben frankline writing quote

By Cindy Haney

“…Everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”  — Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.”  —Anaïs Nin

“Why do you write a blog?” a friend asked me recently. “You don’t get paid for doing it, plus you have a ‘real’ job. So what’s in it for you?”

I thought about that question for a while. I acknowledge that I don’t have a brag-worthy number of followers on my blog, my posts have never gone viral, and a Fortune 500 publishing company is probably never going to contact me. Yes, I know I don’t promote my blog aggressively in social media. For me, it’s not about the number of “likes” on Facebook, or the number of clicks in WordPress.  For me, it’s much more than that. The answer is both intensely personal and universally shared.

The act of writing is often described as painful and difficult. Not many people find writing pleasurable. But I do. In school, writing an essay was used as a form of punishment by my teachers. I was the kid in the back of the classroom that was secretly high-fiving myself whenever one was assigned. It’s no wonder most of us stay away from writing when we become adults!

Just the other day, my daughter Emily, 16, turned in an essay that she had painfully labored over the night before. Her teacher, who is the cold and callused type, wrote in red on her paper, “Writing isn’t really your strong suit, is it?”  I could just hear the bless-your-little-heart Southern sarcasm dripping from her red pen.  I was angry and disappointed. This is the kind of comment that sticks with you. Because a teacher said it, she now believes she cannot write a good story. What the teacher didn’t know is that Emily once loved to write, and she would fill notebooks with her musings. She was great at it. But it only takes one mean-spirited comment to crush your self confidence.  Good teachers work to encourage their students, not tear them down.

So what, then, compels writers to write?  If not for fame and fortune, what then?

For me, I am an artist, and writing is a form of artistry. I can paint on canvas, I can design in Photoshop and Illustrator, I can create with jewelry tools, and I can paint with words on paper. To me, there is no difference in the process, only a difference in the tools I use.  Words are like fine tools.  When I find just the right words to express what I want to say, I feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” – Mark Twain, The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain

I write because I am compelled, or forcefully driven, to leave something behind that is bigger and more lasting than my small unremarkable life. In my real life, I am mostly invisible, cursed with social shyness, mostly introverted, and probably the last person you would notice in a crowd. But writing gives me a sizable chance to be seen, to be noticed, to be heard, to make an impact. Writing is a manifestation of a bigger need for others to truly know me, especially my daughters to whom my blog is written. My blog is a love letter to them, a record of their teenage-hood, and a collection of life lessons. That’s the personal side of writing.

For the more universal side, I write for the same reasons all writers write. We want to connect with the world, even when the real world and the people in it elude us, and mostly overlook us. We want someone to hear us and to understand us, and to feel the same emotions that we do.  I want to make my readers laugh, cry, to feel good or to think deeply. I want to share feelings that maybe I can’t state directly, but find easy to unveil on the digital page. I want to entertain readers with my smart-ass reflections on the trival world around me.  And finally, I don’t want to die anonymously. I want to leave an imprint big enough to be seen and remembered.

All of us, on some level have that little creative spark inside of us… even my daughter, Emily, who has been told wrongly that she does not. You can be sure that I’m not going to let that idea take root and grow. I think every one of us desire to be heard and understood, and learning to write well is a creative means to that end.

So here’s my message to Emily, and to Amanda who is majoring in Journalism in college, and to all of their young friends who are just starting out as young writers: Never give up, keep writing, and keep reading. The most avid readers are the best writers. There’s a whole universe of stories, real or imagined, inside your head. Share them! Don’t be afraid to make stuff up, it’s called good fiction! Don’t write for the notoriety.  Write for the love of writing and everything else will take care of itself.

Posted in Moms of Teenagers, On Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

May the Bird Force Not Be With Us

Happy Bird Day

by Cindy Haney

The other night my family and I were getting dressed to go to dinner to celebrate my husband’s 50th birthday. Just as we were about to leave, Paul opens the front door, and suddenly I hear screeching from both my daughters AND my husband.

“Ahhhh! Bird in the house! Bird in the house! Oh my God, there’s a bird in the house!”

You have to realize that my husband ‑ although we love him ‑ is not your typical testosterone-fueled manly man. He’s more like a girly girl when it comes to bugs and other life-threatening animal beasts.  Ok, this was just a tiny bird, but STILL….

A bird had flown in through the front door and was flying around in a crazy tizzy, running amok throughout the house and smacking into walls and ceilings. We were suddenly in a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” where the all of the birds of the world start attacking the human race.  You should have seen us screaming and losing our minds and trying to duck into corners to avoid the Wrath of the Evil Wren. We suddenly became pants-on-head retarded. It was truly ridiculous.

In the midst of it all, out of the corner of my eye, I see Amanda – ever the photojournalist –  filming the entire scene with her freakin’ I-phone and laughing like a hyena.

Oh god.  This is SO going on Snapchat and Instagram.

“What the hell?” I scream.  “This is no time for documentary filmmaking! We’re having a crisis!!”  In hindsight, that might have been slightly overdramatic.

So after a long, super-extended period of mind-losing hysteria, we had to tap the brakes a little and calm down so we could figure out what to do. We needed a plan, man. Grabbing the bird, or catching him with a net was out of the question, since we have an unusually high 2-story ceiling in our main room.  And to the bird’s credit, he was hanging out on the ceiling and the second story in order to avoid the mass delirium of screaming humans going on downstairs. Wise choice.

Paul’s first brilliant plan is turn on all the lights and make as much noise as possible, open the front door and (a) hope the bird flies out or (b) dies of sudden cardiac arrest.  This is where it really gets funny. So Amanda contributes to the Family Wisdom pot and decides to blast Screaming Hawk noises from her I-phone to my new Bluetooth house-wide speaker. I can only imagine what my neighbors were thinking as they drove by.  Here we are with the front door open, African hawk sounds pouring out into the night, and all four of us are yelling weird noises and dancing what looks like tribal interpretive dance moves in our living room.

I’m not even making this up.

After a long while of this, we decided we needed a new strategy. Turns out that, thanks to Google, insane screaming is what’s causing the bird to lose its mind and smack into walls erratically. So our new approach is to turn off all the lights and noise, keep the door open and sit silently. Suddenly the bird stops its crazy circling, smacks into the wall in the dining room, slides down the wall behind the curtain… and silence.  Amanda and Emily theorize that maybe the bird was sick to begin with and came into the warm house on a cold winter night looking for a place to die.  Great, now we feel bad.  And also, what do we do now?  There was no way any of us were going near that curtain.  And we couldn’t leave for dinner with a bird in the house!

We sat there in the dark for a while trying to figure out who we should call. My brother is 30 minutes away and so is my Dad. That’s too long. So we called Amanda’s boyfriend who came right over.  He thought we were fighting a massive flying pterodactyl.

“Guys, calm down.” He said, “It’s a tiny bird.”

Taylor the Superhero

When he saw the ridiculous scene of all us cowering in the dark with the door wide open, he must have wanted to die laughing.  Either that, or suggest therapy for our collective irrational fear of garden wrens.  Suddenly, we hear fluttering behind the dining room curtain. The girls and I start screaming again, and that’s when Taylor, The Superhero, took over.  He tells everybody to be silent, grabs his Star Wars light saber that he got for Christmas as a weapon, and climbs to the top of the 2-story stairs to determine if the bird is in fact dead or not.  Turns out the bird was just stunned, but very much alive, which we found out pretty quickly when when he flew like a kamikaze out of his hiding place straight at The Superhero with the light saber.

But The Superhero didn’t even flinch.  Meanwhile, my big 6-ft tall husband is whimpering with fear in the closed-off kitchen, and eating leftover Christmas sugar cookies to console himself, all the while complaining that he’s going to miss his birthday dinner!

But The Superhero had a brilliant plan. With Hans Solo-like prowess, he somehow waved the bird into the upstairs bedroom that has a window that opens wide without a screen.  He turned off all the lights, except a small one in that room which lured the bird in there.  Once in the room, he trapped himself alone, in the dark (you know, THE DARKSIDE) with the bird flying wildly about the room.  After several tense moments of Alfred Hitchcock-like suspense and imagined terror, we begin to fear the fate of the brave Superhero.

Suddenly, he emerged victorious!  The bird finally flew out the window. Having defeated the evil forces of the feathered universe, The Superhero enjoyed his hero status because he had saved the screaming weirdo, tribal-dancing family from yet another threat from the animal kingdom.  The Force was truly with us that night…. em, er, actually, it was a college boy who now thinks we’ve all lost our minds.

And the best part was, we made it to the birthday dinner on time! Happy BIRD Day, Paul!!

Posted in Fighting the Animal Kingdom, Moms of Teenagers | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Survival Guide to Last-Minute Christmas Shopping for Working Moms

Survival Guide Christmas Shopping

(Originally published December 18, 2013, edited)

It’s that time of year again. Christmas Crunch Time – the most wonderful time of year where overworked and underpaid moms begin to panic at the fact that Christmas is just a few shopping days away.  During this beautiful holiday season, a deeply religious time of year, moms like me like to observe this special time in a very meaningful way by going to the mall.

Last weekend, as I’m sitting in 22 miles of traffic at the mall entrance, or The Gates of Hell as I like to think of it, I realize that I waited until the last minute again this year. So I made a solemn vow to myself:

“I am going to get it together and shop early next year! Like August.”

Yeah, probably not.

I believe that, deep down, everyone longs for a less consumer-ized Christmas. One of these years, I am going to pull the plug on overpriced gifts that my teenagers only appreciate for about two hours, and celebrate Christmas the old-fashioned way.  How about a year where we sit around stringing cranberries and popcorn by the fireplace, singing Christmas carols and exchanging humble handmade Christmas gifts instead?

If that sounds good to you, well, you can just forget it, sucka’.  If everybody pulled that kind of subversive stunt, the economy would collapse overnight, and the government would have to get involved.  So, too bad, you ARE going along with the Holiday Program, whether you like it or not.  It’s for the Good of the Nation, damn it.  This means you need to go secure a very large sum of money, any way you can,  and GO TO THE MALL.

Unless you live in the Sahara Desert, there should be several malls within five miles of your home. It doesn’t matter which one because they are all the same, so just pick one.  Under federal law, all malls in the U.S. must have the same 32 chain stores.  You have your chain bookstores, your chain clothing stores, your chain shoe stores, your chain restrooms, and your chain mystery meat Chinese food.

The basic idea behind malls is that they are more convenient than shopping at a bunch of random city shops. You can get all your shopping done is one place, right? Well that’s what I’m hoping for, since I waited until the last minute, and now I’m going pay for it… in more ways than one.

The first thing to remember about shopping at the mall at Christmastime is that you will probably get killed in the parking lot.  At least that’s what the evening news tells us.  If you don’t get knifed as you exit your car, then surely a renegade pickup truck, driving the wrong direction while trying to get to that last handicapped space, will take you down. Why?  Because, legally, there are NO RULES in mall parking lots.  You can drive as fast as you want, in any direction while shooting the finger at pedestrians, and it doesn’t matter. Well, this is just one of the risks you are going to have to take, since you were busy working 8 hours a day while all those smug and well-organized stay-at-moms finished their kids’ Christmas shopping lists way before Halloween.

So once you’re safely in the mall, you should avoid direct eye contact with the other holiday shoppers at all costs.  These shoppers have been whipped into a psychotic frenzy by months of holiday advertisements, and they will buy anything they can wrap and put under their tree. If you get in their way, there could be major injuries involved. If your teenagers are with you at the mall, and they are whining about the crowds and long lines, then threaten to force them to go sit on Santa’s lap.  That ought to shut them up real fast.

Now you’re ready for the actual shopping, only you don’t have a list because, again, you’ve been busy, damn it. But instead of wandering aimlessly through the jungle, your goal should be to get it over with as quickly as possible. The longer you stay in the mall, the longer you will plop down just about any amount for any item.  “Oh, you want $1,237 for this I-phone case? Hey, no problem.”   Plus, the longer you stay in the mall, the longer you will have to listen to those holiday classics on the mall public-address system.  Studies show that prolonged exposure to poorly written Beatles Christmas songs can cause permanent brain damage.

So you need a plan, woman.  Here’s an effective shopping method… if you have, let’s say, 16 people to buy for, vow to only spend $10 per person.  Get everyone the same thing for $10 and, boom, you’re done!  For example, go in to the Vitamin Store and get everyone a $10 bottle of Vitamin C, since it’s winter cold season and all, and everyone, young and old, are sure to cry with delight when they open your handy-dandy gift.   “Oh, but that’s not very personal,” you say.  Ok, well if you want to be more personal, then here are some guidelines:

Gifts for Men

Men are mesmerized by almost any stupid thing. As long as it’s electric and can be called a “gadget”.  It doesn’t have to be expensive. I saw an electric cork popper for $4.99.  Hey, it’s a gadget, so he’ll love it. One thing you should never buy a man is clothes. Men, like my husband, actually believe that they already have all of the clothes they will ever, ever need. New clothes make them nervous.  For example, the average man has 45 T-shirts, but he only wears, at most, three of them.  He has learned through humiliating trial and error, that if he wears any of the other 42 T-shirts, his wife will probably laugh at him (“You’re not going to wear THAT shirt, are you?).   So he has narrowed it down to three safe shirts, and has managed to go several years without being ridiculed.  If you give him a new T-shirt, he will pretend to like it, but deep down he will plot to kill you.  Instead, give a man something practical, like a weed whacker.  Now there’s something he can use!

Gifts for Little Children

This is easy because kids will tell you exactly what they want. My girls, when they were little, would spend months and months researching gift ideas mainly by watching hours of The Disney Channel.  Make sure you get the children in your life exactly what they ask for, even if you disapprove of their choices. If your young niece thinks she wants a Tramp Stamp Barbie, with the colorful Butterfly ass tattoo, complete with body piercings, then you’d better get it. You may be worried that it might help to encourage her rebellious tendencies, but believe me, you have not seen rebellious tendencies until you’ve seen a child who thinks she did not get the right gift for Christmas!

Gifts for Teenagers

This is one of the world’s biggest mysteries, so good luck with this one.  You can’t ask them what they want for Christmas because they went deaf years ago from the high decibel levels of their in-ear I-Pod headphones.  Whatever you buy, make sure it has an expensive electronic screen attached to it.  And if you can’t Instagram, Snap-Chat or Spotify their friends on it, then it’s a completely useless piece of garbage.  Teens girls are the worst.  With teen boys, at least you can bet on the latest video game, and it will be a guaranteed sure-fire hit.  With girls, it’s a crap shoot.  But one thing is for sure, if you are a woman over the age of 21, do not, I repeat DO NOT even attempt to buy them clothes.  Oh sure, they’d love a cute outfit, but if YOU pick it out, it will automatically go straight into the Goodwill box. Trust me on this one. Just give up and go home.  This mall is way too crowded anyway.

I hope everyone enjoys the bottle of Vitamin C that I got them this year.  I gotta get outta this mall right now!  Have a Healthy and Merry Christmas!

Posted in Christmas Shoppin, Moms of Teenagers | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Life Lessons: The Great Laundry Fiasco of 2015

Life Lessons: The Great Laundry Fiasco of 2015 by Cindy Haney

Oh my god! You mean I have to do LAUNDRY every stinkin' week??

Oh my god! You mean I have to do LAUNDRY every stinkin’ week??

I’m sure you already know that being a mom is a very thankless job. Most of the time, you don’t get a bonus check for a job well done, or an all-expense paid trip to Tahiti, or even a star sticket on your refrigerator for all of your amazing superhero feats.

Hell, no.

But you’re not in it for the perks anyway. So you keep on trudging through the trenches, doing all those thankless little things that you do, all the while secretly hoping that someday the Academy of Arts and Sciences is going to call and bestow upon you that Golden Statue of Honor that you so richly deserve.

Yeah, right.

But then one day, right of the blue, when you least expect it…BAM!!  After 18 years or so into the slave life, I mean mom life, it happens. Sweet, sweet REWARD! And it’s waaayyy better than a golden statue.

Here’s the story. Amanda, 18, moved to college in August last month. I knew she would be facing some tough challenges from being on her own for the very first time. There were so many things for me to worry about as we began to prepare her for life away from home. Will she make new friends?  Will she be able to handle the difficult coursework? Will she forget to feed herself? What if she runs out of tampons?  How the hell is she going to manage her own laundry?

I tried to teach her the finer points of Laundry Management in the months leading up to her departure.  I swear I did.  But she was always too busy running around doing fun Senior Year things like not doing any homework, falling in love with a sweet boy, shopping for an Oscar-worthy prom dress, going out with all of her friends, working at her part-time job, and sleeping until noon.  I warned her many times about the consequences of not separating your darks from your whites. I preached about the finer points of choosing hot, warm or cold water.  I nagged about the use of fabric softener. She didn’t listen.  In fact, when she left home, she didn’t even know how to turn a washing machine on. Ok, that last part is a bit of an exaggeration.

In other words, I tried. She just had better things to do.  Besides, why bother? Heck, we own a Magic Washing Machine anyways.  You see, how it works is… your mom puts all your dirty crap in there, and then a few hours later your stuff magically appears clean and hung neatly in your closet.  Wow.  Bet you wish YOU had one, right?

Anyways, I decided, quite strategically, to let the laundry issue slide.  Because I knew, as all moms do, that eventually she would RUN OUT OF UNDERWEAR.  And you know what that means, right?  Must. Wash. Clothes. Now.

So about four weeks into dorm room life, when she couldn’t wait one second longer, she braved the whole new world of the Group Laundry Room all alone.  And then I received this email letter from Amanda below, printed here in her own words.  I have to admit, I laughed so hard that I peed a little in my sensible cotton briefs. Might have to wash those now.

Sept. 20, 2015. 11:47 pm 

Dear Mom, 

I am writing you because I thought you could use a humorous story to brighten your day. I hope my unfortunate laundry experience makes your day seem a lot better in comparison.

So today, after having class from 9 am until 6:30 pm, I decided that since my laundry basket was overflowing, it was about time I figured out the laundry room. So I dragged my ten-ton basket of clothes and my detergent (Yes, dragged. It was too heavy to carry. I got some curious looks) down the elevator and across the building to the other Tower where the laundry room is so inconveniently located.

When I got to the laundry room, I found an empty area in the back (this room has like fifty washers and dryers) and put my basket on the floor, not realizing that the floor was flooded with an inch of water!  So all of my clothes on the bottom of the basket got prematurely soaked. Then I put my stuff in the wash and a few minutes later my machine started overflowing and there was no way to stop the wash cycle once it had started. The machine next to it was out of order and I guess that one was too. So now there was TWO inches of floodwater on the floor. Then 30 minutes later, I took my clothes out of the wash to move them to the dryer and I kept dropping all of my clothes in the floodwater.

When I took everything out, I realized all of my socks turned blue along with a few other things that were lighter colors. I guess the dye on my new jeans hadn’t set in yet. Once everything was in the dryer, the machine kept saying that dryer wasn’t available so I had to take everything out and put it in the next one. Then that machine wasn’t working either, so I took everything out AGAIN and moved it all across the room to a different dryer and went to pay. But then I realized I had used the wrong paying machine and paid for a washing machine on the other side of the room. So I had to pay again and now there’s a free washing machine available for anyone who needs it, thanks to me.  

Then I sat in the wash room for an hour and waited for my stuff to dry. After an hour, I went to get my clothes out and realized I never pressed start!!!!  So I then had to sit in there for ANOTHER HOUR. Finally, after being in the laundry room from 8-11 (three hours of my life wasted), I could finally go back up to my room and relax.

 Except NO.  Because then I had to fold all of my clothes and hang them up and put them away and that took another thirty minutes. So next time I might just have to dedicate an entire day to laundry. 

I hope you take pleasure in my sucky experience and that you get joy out of being able to say “I told you so”. Hahaha! I love you and miss you. Right now I am especially missing the magical washer that hangs my clothes or leaves them folded on my bed. 

Your very tired and stressed out daughter, Amanda 

Hilarious, right?  After 18 years of doing her laundry non-stop, I SHALL now privately gloat over a little sweet, sweet laundry revenge.  And no, I didn’t say “I told you so.” At least not out loud anyways. And the next time she comes home for a visit, I’ll bet she will ask for a laundry lesson or two, amIrite?  And for all you moms out there with young girls who like to change their outfits every 5 minutes, don’t worry. YOUR sweet reward is coming, too, one of these days.

Posted in College Life, Laundry Hell, Life Skills | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment