Taco Bell Tantrums

My teenagers and I decided to splurge and order a party pack from Taco Bell.

(As a side note: I discovered they have very good iced coffee at Taco Bell, available right now for a dollar, and their powdered creamer is some strange thing like “ecostix” or something and it didn’t have any fake, chemical or soy taste. Kudos, Taco Bell.)

But upon getting the party pack home, we discovered the most ridiculous thing.

Remember the whole gag with the cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?

Well my cockatoo apparently has tantrums for Taco Bell.

YouTube: Tantrums for Taco Bell

Barometer of mood

Earlier this week and late last week I was struggling emotionally— my financial status growing more precarious and my friends feeling distant, etc. Nothing any more serious than what many other people are going through.

And then Tuesday happened.

That was yesterday I think.

I had Zoom meetings, Google Meets, programs and in person meetings from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. After a coffee meet with a marketing client, I accompanied an ASPIRE peer to our new office space in downtown Easton. I’m not sure it’s official official yet so I can’t provide details.

But I went to use the restroom.

And I forgot I had car keys in my pocket and they fell into the flushing toilet. Whooooop— right down the hole.

Well.

My first thought was, “What do I do????”

And then I realized I have the only electronic key fob currently in existence for my car.

So I stuck my hand into the toilet. Thank heavens they were there. Pulled them out, covered a paper towel with some sanitizer, wiped it down and popped the fob apart to try and dry it.

And I laughed at the situation. A few days earlier I would have cried.

In other silly news, my crew had some fun with musical instruments. YouTube videos here:

Low brass and bass drummer playing without the whole band (teenagers 1 & 2)

Recorder lesson from a blind lady and euphonium in background

Seven Nation Army

“That” mom

The teenager is a junior at our local public high school, plays low brass and usually makes the honor roll.

Her entire school career we’ve had “the rule.” You get one bail out per school year. One Mom-SOS request to bring an item to school— band music, mouthpiece, lunch, whatever.

Today, on the first official day of in-person hybrid public education she forgot her school-issued Chromebook.

7:36 a.m. (one minute before the late bell rings) — text message— “Mom SOS.”

I go up to her room and find her refurbished MacBook Air and her school Chromebook. Both stacked nicely on her newly organized desk. Neither plugged in.

“Is it charged?” I text.

She assures me it is.

I try to resist the kittens gathering at my feet. It’s hard— but I have a mission.

I grab her wallet (as she has my keys attached to it at this moment) my wallet, and my flip flops.

I am now “that mom.” I always prided myself on being dressed and groomed before walking my kid to school. But today, I am still as I was when I rolled out of bed: crisp white t-shirt now speckled with some Fiero dust (spicy Taki-style corn snacks in fire-breathing chili lime flavor), no bra, and yoga pants.

When did I become this?

It’s raining lightly, the crickets are singing.

I park the car near the school and buzz the office (which, with me were several late coming students). It’s a small school so the employee in the office pretty much knows most of the parents and all of the kids.

From my sequestered hallway in the vestibule I hand her the computers and noticing the lack of cords she asks me, “Chargers?”

She knows teenagers. She sees it every day.

“She claims they are charged.”

The office employee nods. I realize I really should know her name, but I suppose it’s not a bad thing as I have not become one of “those parents” in addition to “that mom.”

“Those parents” are always at the school dropping things off or calling to talk to someone about their child.

The woman at the window asks if my daughter is coming for the machines, so I text her. (Is this not blatant disregard for the “no phones in school” policy?)

She says she doesn’t think she can unless someone gives her permission. I relay this. The woman in the office calls.

I have not said my daughter’s name out loud this whole time.

It’s a small public school.

I am instructed to leave the technology on the narrow table beside me in the hall. I exit. I see the teenager approaching from inside the locked doors. I wave from the rainy outdoors.

I walk home in the rain— my middle aged self in a white t-shirt. I figure the child will want to drive later so I leave the car there.

Funny part is, it was raining on her orientation day last week so I let her friend use my umbrella. Her friend also had it with her today.

I get home a little soggy and my daughter’s cat is in my spot.

Misty

And to think my daughter asked me — “why are you up this early?”

Apparently for an SOS.

Coffee mugs

The teenager started it. She bought me a mug for Mother’s Day 2019. Of course, she bought it with my Target Red Card. It had a lid, so she didn’t have to worry about me spilling hot coffee on myself while going up the stairs.

I received a fun coffee mug for Christmas 2018 as part of a Secret Santa— it was a Magic 8-ball (I used to take one to work and have my fellow Target team members ask it questions).

But in recent months, the teenager and I have impulse bought a few at The Dollar Tree. She bought herself “I love dogs” and the companion “I love cats” for me.

Most recently I got the “smile and nod” and coffee hug mugs because they bring humor into my early mornings.

And that is the best way to start each day.

Random Hospital Tidbits during a tropical storm

I think I have a sense of humor

My daughter brought extra dry erase markers so we could have fun with the nurses and my care team. Yes, as the a patient with cellulitis from a kitten bite I drew paw prints all over my board.

Today was my second day in the hospital at St. Luke’s Bethlehem/Fountain Hill and also the day that Tropical Storm Isaias wreaked havoc in the Lehigh Valley.

This is the only unplanned hospital stay I have ever had and will also be the longest. My other other experience in the hospital was giving birth to my daughter.

There are only two parts of this experience that I have disliked: IVs, though I have learned to ignore them, and collecting my urine so everyone can monitor my fluids.

Everyone on staff has been kind, and most downright enjoyable and intelligent. But Nurse Michelle has been my favorite.

Michelle finally arranged all my IV tubes into a double Dutch arrangement so they don’t have to keep swapping them out on my arm. She labeled everything meticulously. Attention to detail is the perfect trait for a nurse.

The hospital has lovely old architecture and picturesque views.

I started betadine soaks today. I’m tickled that such basic medicine still works well. I also feel like I’m hanging out with Marge from the Palmolive commercials.

“You’re soaking in it.”

Old Palmolive Commercial on You Tube

The teenager stopped by so that was fun— we took silly pictures. Speaking of the teenager and silly photos, I FaceTimed my cockatoo last night.

And in the category of things that make me happy—

Does the pandemic have a fun side?

Sometimes I am reminded of my age— when I think of those summers of my girlhood circa the 1980s, when Pennsylvania experienced temperatures that averaged in the high seventies/low eighties and for about 2 weeks every August a heat wave of around 85 degrees.

It also snowed a lot more, and I can’t say I miss that.

Now I won’t be naive enough to suggest this pandemic has been fun. Some people have gotten seriously ill, others have died. Luckily in my circle, those who contracted Covid-19 survived and none ended up in the hospital.

But as I said in the beginning of the pandemic, the Coronavirus has forced us to look at our health system, our purchasing habits, our supply chains, what we need and what we don’t. I have found a more relaxed pace of life, and while I have lost my job, I have found some inner truths that bring me hope. Perhaps that is where my naïveté lies.

Yesterday, I had a business meeting with my first client as a partner in Thrive Public Relations. Thrive is the brainchild of a friend— who has been searching for someone with media, print and editorial experience to complement his digital marketing, strategy and networking expertise. I have agreed to help him, and hopefully this will lead to some paying work that could help keep me afloat and allow me to rebuild my career portfolio.

I spent much of the last year as a grant writer, and would love to highlight some current public relations work to augment my grant writing potential.

So I was asked to attend a business lunch at Sogo Asian Fusion yesterday in one of my favorite environs, downtown Easton. I thoroughly enjoyed, despite the 95 degree heat, dining on the patio. It felt lovely to build an outfit, put on make up and head into the world.

Then later that evening, my propensity for stress-related binge-eating led to me eating most of a jar of “trail mix” — I put that in quotes because it had walnuts and almonds but was mostly butterscotch and white chocolate chips— that my blind friend Nancy gave me for Christmas. I had it on my desk at work and it was one of my possessions that Mr. Accordion drove to my house.

The teenager doesn’t like almonds. So she gave them all to me.

And then my daughter cornered me. She started reciting old bits from Brian Regan, one of my favorite comedians (from the golden age of the early 1990s, before I graduated high school and Nirvana changed the world).

Finally she got tired of her delivery falling flat and we spent an hour watching Brian Regan clips from YouTube on my phone. I grabbed a Diet Coke and finished the rest of the vanilla vodka from County Seat Spirits.

The teenager’s father, my husband of 20-years whom I separated from last summer, does not like stand-up comedy. But a good stand-up comic (like Regan, or Trevor Noah, or for those who have thicker skin and/or less sensitivities Denis Leary and George Carlin), can lift my darkest spirits. So I love the fact that our daughter inherited my taste in comedy.

And when I got up this morning, as mundane life started to overwhelm me with chores and commitments, Nan called.

The Mighty.com had published her piece on our summer picnic and shared it with Yahoo News. It features me, and the teenager, so I got to enjoy reading about my life.

You can read it here: Nan’s summer picnic article on Yahoo News

So maybe life doesn’t look the same as always, but the simple joys don’t really change.

Lavender retrospective

I’ve tried to incorporate the spirit of my “staycation” two weeks ago into my everyday life. I have tried to embrace a more carefree joie de vivre.

I think to some extent it is working.

Scrolling through my blog feed, I see lots of random home-cooked meals, even more pizzas and fast food… I mean, what crazy mood swing prompted me to eat TWO blizzards from DQ in one night???

My dental work on Wednesday was a huge success and has prompted such a physical and emotional relief— because when you’re slowly paying off more than a thousand dollars in dental bills and something is not right, it drains you.

It reminds me, as life often does, that our struggles never really end. The only destination in this journey is death, regardless of what milestones we try to hit along the way.

Some days it’s harder to get out of bed than others, but hopefully there is something for all of us to appreciate and something we can do for the world.

I opened my Lock Keeper Gin from County Seat Spirits last night. Mixed a shot of so with equal parts carbonated water and a light French lavender soda.

Gin by itself has a clean but bitter taste, in my opinion, with the Lock Keeper Gin bursting with a strong citrus aftertaste. The light blend of lavender gave the gin just enough sweetness to be undetectable in my cocktail. I find gin way smoother and easy to mix than vodka, which I know is an unpopular opinion.

Cheery dental Wednesday

It’s not everyday that starts with a 9 a.m. dental visit (in the middle of a pandemic where you end up getting some restoration work done when you thought it was a quick and easy crown adjustment) and you end up thinking— “This is a good day.”

My dental staff had a very gentle touch and it seems like (fingers crossed), I should have no more issues for a while.

The dentist was very optimistic as she set to work and I reminded her not to get too cocky, as dentistry has to be a lot like plumbing— the older the house gets the more you don’t know what you’ll find until you really get inside.

She liked my analogy.

I also told herself about the time they gave me so much Novocain, I went to blow my nose and almost exploded my ear drums because I couldn’t feel anything coming out because my nostrils were numb.

For more on my dental disasters, visit this entry: My dental past.

In other news, I took these cheap fish nuggets and made fish/cabbage tacos. I dressed them with bacon ranch.

I planned to use my lunch break today to host a business meeting with my supervisor from my new volunteer position. I’m helping a relatively new non-profit hone their grant-writing skills and work out some communications strategies. I’m hosting a meeting with their summer interns tonight.

The news that we would be hosting someone in our home sent the teenager into a cleaning frenzy.

When our afternoon guest departed, the teenager turned to me and said, “It was so nice to hear the two of you talking.”

Nala took a car ride

I return to work on Monday so the reality that vacation will soon be over is setting in, or perhaps I am merely sad because I finished the four seasons of Hoarders available on Hulu.

I’m running low on fun things to do while on vacation during the pandemic so today I decided to gather the teenager and the cockatoo and go for cold brew at Dunkin’.

It was Nala’s first car ride since we brought her home and she did a great job.

We rewarded her with some hash browns.

Nala visits Dunkin (YouTube)

A Daffy Charcoal BBQ

There are often silver linings to difficult situations, and that is true even when marriages end. Once upon a time, my husband and I were the couple that everyone thought would last forever and that expectation— and the shock I often see when I say we’ve split up after 20 years—makes the separation hard.

I still know everything I once loved about my husband, the teenager’s father, my first love. And I will always cherish those memories and I will miss those feelings we once had for each other. As I’m sure he has similar nostalgia and good-heartedness.

It was he who told me no matter what happened we would always be family.

And we will.

But there are some parts of this process that are uplifting. New beginnings. New traditions. No more compromising.

Ending family curses.

I mean that. You see, my household had a curse that involved grilling.

You see, every day time we tried to grill, it rained.

Today, I decided to grill. We have a couple of portable charcoal grills. I even sprung for the instant/match light charcoal.

But I decided to keep it vegetarian.

That way if I didn’t get everything cooked properly I didn’t have to worry about the internal temperature of meat.

And since I paid for about ten years of Girl Scout summer camp for the teenager, she should be able to cook on a fire.

So first I weeded the yard and cleaned up the grill.

Got the hose and some Brillo pads.

And the teenager reassembled the grill (and we lost some nuts and bolts— oops). I wrapped a sweet potato in some foil to toss in the coals and also some apples.

I put carrots and fingerling potatoes in the basket.

And I planned on making some chickpea Bubba vegetarian burgers once the grill got good and hot. Sadly, the burgers were freezer-burned beyond a level that could be salvaged.

So the teenager got some chip steak and I put it on my cast iron griddle.

Now if you note in the photos that there are two grills, that’s because once my grill fell apart, we transferred the hot charcoal into the other grill.

But hey— at least it wasn’t raining.

To make matters interesting, the sweet potato was half-cooked. The teenager thought the potatoes and carrots too crunchy and charred. And the chip steak overcooked. But it was a meal we laughed a lot over and we didn’t starve.

The teenager used my small cast iron pot to make tea on the grill, which she will tell you was the best part of the meal. I got a little ice cream so our hot apples could go in it.

When the teenager would come home from Girl Scout camp, she would talk about sugared apples on the fire. I thought I’d surprise her and recreate a beloved summer childhood memory.

Except I didn’t know to core the apple. Obvious now. And we forgot to turn them so they were only hot on one side.

I really had a lovely evening barbecuing with the teenager at the helm of the fire, but sometimes I think my family life might be the script for the next movie in the National Lampoon franchise.