Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Liar, Liar, Stretch-Pants on Fire

On the way to the airport, I kept asking Jude if he was ready for our Big Adventure. That’s how I decided to look at our upcoming flight, just the two of us. I had been worried about it for weeks, trying to imagine how on earth I would get anything out of his diaper bag during the flight…I wouldn’t be able to bend over and reach anything while holding him on my lap. How would I use the tiny restroom on the plane while holding him? How would I carry everything onto the plane and off again? My husband was on another flight, flying standby, so I labeled Jude’s and my first solo trip as an Adventure with a capital A. It would be fun, not stressful, I vowed!

Getting through Security wasn’t bad - I got to use the special lane and take my own sweet time. The next two hours until boarding were filled with Jude crawling around on the ground at an unused gate, playing with the stroller’s wheels and chasing a half-empty water bottle. Even boarding wasn’t too bad. A nice lady pushed the stroller down to the plane and folded it up for me.

Then we went inside to search for a seat.

I had hoped we could sit on the bulkhead, so that I could get up easily during the flight whenever I wanted. The seats on the right were taken, but on my left there was a woman sitting in the aisle seat, and a small bag sat on the center seat next to her. The window seat was empty.

“Are these seats taken?” I asked, gesturing with my elbow toward the seats by her. I shifted Jude in my arms and tried to relieve my shoulder that was carrying the burden of an overfilled diaper bag, a soft cooler of baby food, a bed pillow, and my purse.

She paused a moment, then answered, “yes.”

In that very instant, during her pause of hesitation, I realized she was lying. Lying through her teeth, past her tight black stretch pants, oversized flip flops, and thick Jersey accent.

I looked pointedly at the empty seat. “That window seat therethat one is taken?”

Another pause. The woman glanced over at the seat and changed her mind. “No,”she mumbled.

Wow. I could have gotten angry at this woman, but I was too happy about getting the very seat I wanted. Jude was asleep, so I put the bed pillow on the empty seat, laid Jude on it, and held him in place with one hand. My bags dropped to the floor with a thud as I looked up to see who could help me get my things into the overhead bin.

Just then the woman’s son returned to occupy the center seat. Yea! Someone who could help! “Do you mind putting this in the overhead for me?”

The bald son glanced over and then replied while he strapped himself into his seat, “There’s no room. It’ll have to go way back there.” He gestured toward the back of the plane with one hairy hand.

I didn’t respond. I never have been able to give people smart retorts because I’m always so surprised when people are rude or uncaring. So I stood there a moment, still bending over and holding Jude on the seat with one hand, wondering if maybe a flight attendant could help me.

Just then a woman’s blonde head poked up from the seat behind Stretch-pants-lady. “I can put it up there for you!” She stood, took my bags, and fit them in the overhead directly above my seat.

“Thank you so much!” I was so glad to have a savior! Before I picked up Jude and sat down, I noticed that the seat next to her was taken by a small boy who obviously had some physical disabilities. That woman knew how it felt to be denied help when you need it. No wonder she came to my rescue. She even gave the back of the son’s bald head a dirty look for good measure.

And during the whole nearly five-hour flight, Jude was great. We slept and played and ate and talked and thumbed our noses at the rude people next to us.

And I’m happy to report that while eating, Jude sneezed exactly when I was holding a full spoonful of peas up to his mouth. Old baldy had to ask the flight attendant for more napkins for his arm and pants.

As an end note, I am happy to report that Jude loved the ocean, my husband was able to join us, and even George had a nice vacation at my friend’s house while we were gone. And on the way back, our seatmate was a nice hairdresser from Houston. Jude didn’t spit food on this guy.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Swimming Is Not Like Riding a Bike

Yesterday my son had his first swimming lesson – quite an accomplishment for a 10-month old “kid.” My husband took him to a Parent/Child class at the local YMCA, and he was more nervous than my son was.

Apparently, the most difficult part was when he had to put Jude under the water for three whole seconds. Three whole seconds – a lifetime in my husband’s eyes. Jude was a trouper, though, and only got irritated about it on the third try. During the 30 minute lesson, he enjoyed songs, splashing, “jumping” off the side, learning to crawl out, and he almost fell asleep while learning to float on his back.

My husband took him to the class because I am not a swimmer. The odd thing is, I used to swim. I even have an Advanced Beginner swim badge from when I was 8. I remember doing “real” swimming across the length of our huge public pool, turning underwater like I was in the Olympics, then crossing the whole length again. The instructor even complimented my form, which I knew was good because I was a dancer.

Then one summer as a teenager I tried to learn how to dive, and for some reason I wore nose plugs. That was the beginning of the end. When I tried to swim years later, I had forgotten how to go underwater without holding my nose. I tried, but I always ended up with a noseful of water. People are incredulous when I tell them this. “Isn’t swimming like riding a bike?” they ask. I thought so, but apparently it’s not true.

So, Jude is destined to have a mom who will get in the water, will swim the backstroke and sidestroke, but will always embarrassingly hold her nose to go under. Sorry, Jude. But I’m sure it won’t be the only time in your life I’ll embarrass you!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Overdoing the Red Glitter

We got up early on the 4th and took Jude to his first parade. He watched the old fashioned cars and police motorcycles with interest, then had a bottle and fell asleep on the blanket at our feet. It was hot; he left a sweaty spot on the blanket when we picked him up later to go home. We left poor George at home because have yet to figure out how to handle him and baby on outings at the same time.

The parade was fun – reportedly 35,000 people in attendance – and there were a few unusual parade entries to keep things interesting: a group of Star Wars characters complete with an R2D2 and a whole squadron of storm troopers who marched with their blasters, and a local bug company who featured a man in a bug suit who kept getting beat up by the company’s uniformed pest controllers.

I marched in my hometown’s annual Fall parade many times, as a clown with the Girl Scouts, as the 4-H fair queen in the back of a white convertible, and on my bike with friends. 

The year we rode our bikes, I was about 10 years old. One section of the parade was always a place where kids were allowed to ride their bikes, to be a part of the parade even if they didn’t have an affiliation with any parade participant. That year, two of my friends and I decided to decorate our bikes and join in. We planned to meet in their yard on the morning of the parade, so the night before, I referred to my favorite book Kids’ America and painstakingly copied the way they suggested to decorate a bike – with several rows of red, white, and blue streamers woven through the spokes, streamers hanging from the handlebars, and a large sign stuck to the handlebars that read “Spirit of America” in red glitter.

The next morning I rode my bike up the hill to discover that my friends had only put a few streamers through their spokes. My bike was over-decorated. I saw them look at the colors and the glitter and I felt embarrassed. And I guess a little disappointed, too. It would not be the last time in my life that I would put 100% into a project only to have those around me participate half-heartedly.

I rode my bike in the parade anyway. Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t take off even one of the streamers. And someday if Jude wants to decorate his bike for a parade, I hope he will go all out and be proud of his effort, even if no one else puts in the time. It’s important to care about things, to get excited about things, to participate 100%. It’s something to be proud of.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Super Crafty or Landfill?

I’m still trying to get rid of stuff, but it’s a slow process. I get so motivated when I’m driving to work or daydreaming during the day, thinking about the big organizational projects I want to take on: get rid of cassette tapes, VHS tapes, old clothing, etc. Then I get home, take care of baby and husband, eat something, and then at the end I see I have exactly 12 minutes left in my day to either rest or accomplish something. I usually choose rest.

My latest dilemma is what to do with old trophies and awards. There’s the one I got when I was Miss Orange County, a cheerleading trophy, a few Drama Club Director’s Awards from high school, and an Environmental Award from a science fair in which I did an experiment involving snails. I hate the idea of just putting them in the trash. Can’t sell them because they have my name on them. They meant something to me at one time, but now they’re just previously-sentimental knickknacks.

One Christmas I saw a magazine article in which the woman used her old colorful award ribbons as Christmas ornaments on her tree. I liked that idea. But what about trophies and plaques?

If I were super crafty – super thrifty – I would think of some way to re-purpose these awards instead of adding them to a landfill. I recently read a blog in which the writer took old trophies, painted them and edited them, turning them into cupcake stands. But sometimes things like that look a little…too crafty.

My awards could be…
Hot plates for hot dishes on the table?
A yard ornament?
Spray painted wall art?
An art sculpture?

I guess my awards are destined for the trash.

p.s. I did an online research and found a few interesting suggestions. One was to remove the name plates and put them all together into one framed memory. (See the link below.) The second was to donate them to a local trophy company, to the Special Olympics, or to a school or rec center. Yea!