Tasting things on the teenager’s 18th birthday

Today is the teenager’s 18th birthday — she has a lot of dog walking clients so we stopped at her favorite gas station, the Penn Jersey mini mart, and I grabbed candy and sodas.

I meant to grab two “2 for $1.50” candies and “2 for $3.50” 20 ounce Coke products.

Instead, I grabbed one “2 for $1.50” candy and one “2 for $2” candy.

They didn’t have plain old Coke Zero— or perhaps I’m not used to looking for the new packaging— so I got “space tasting” Coke Zero Starlight and a Diet Coke for the birthday girl.

As for candy, I bought melon rings and colorful juju fish.

The teenager declared the red juju fish the best and the yellow, “nasty.”

Meanwhile, if I had to make what space tastes like according to Coke Zero, I would say cotton candy melted into their cola formula.

The teenager and I traded sodas.

Yesterday, my mother-in-law brought down a birthday cake for the teenager, a baked Alaska decorated like an igloo. The dessert featured layers of cake and ice cream sandwiching a strawberry filling like a big old Kaiser roll, but the Kaiser roll was meringue caramelized in the oven.

Speaking of rolls, I stopped at the little convenience store in my neighborhood— the one with the Latin vibe— and picked out these sweet rolls for a toasted treat. This morning I sliced one very thin and slathered it with key lime curd.

And for her birthday dinner, the teenager wanted to invite her father to Jasmine Sushi and Thai, where they always do such a magnificent job on presentation. My estranged husband had never had sushi in a restaurant before, so this was very fun.

We got the love boat for 2, which includes the Dragon and California rolls, the Hot Girl Roll, the Butterfly Roll, the eel and cucumber roll and the dynamite roll. These featured crab, scallops, salmon and tuna. Some spicy, some fruity, some crunchy.

We spent $175 for dinner once we got beverages and dessert and left a nice tip, but the teenager is our only baby and she’s 18 now.

The Birthday Toaster and other silliness

The teenager got me a birthday present and it arrived today.

I didn’t expect it to arrive today so I asked her to pick up two items I haven’t tried from Dunkin: the pesto grilled cheese and stuffed bagel bites with chive and onion. Response here.

Here is the unboxing video.

I found it very cool that product registration for this Cuisineart compact toaster oven air fryer from Target could be completed via text & mobile internet.

My first recipe will be air fried apples & dates.

The dates cooked way faster than the apples so the dog ended up with some charred fruit jerky but the apples were tasty. I would lower the temp for a more even and chewier texture but that could have been due to my cut of the apple wedges.

The machine itself was very quiet while running. It threw a lot of heat— I would even claim it threw off more heat than my traditional oven. It’s size and the recipes that came with it seem the perfect volume for the teenager and I.

Also: Foster Mars wanted you to know it’s going to be a hot one today.

October 30

My husband and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary today and, even though we have been separated for two-and-a-half years, we inadvertently spent it together.

My mother celebrated her 67th birthday today, and I postponed her birthday until next week because one of her brothers died on Thursday. The second brother to die of prostate cancer in about a month. And her ex-brother-in-law died last week, too.

The day started strong with the teenager and I killing our workout at Apex Training with Dan. I also ordered an Apex Training hoodie. The teenager and I benched 70lbs on the barbell, and the teen also did some hearty squats.

We signed five cats up for the “come adopt us” event with Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab. One of them was sweet Khloe. Khloe hid under the blanket with one eye poking out the whole time, until she heard my voice, then she came out. Not bad for a first day out.

Photo of me waking up with a Khloe scarf

So the husband came over to retrieve his car from the teen and do his laundry and assign his ISBN to his poetry manuscript.

He then rewarded us with pizza.

I did some more work for Parisian Phoenix and some more cleaning, and then the teenager asked me to come down to the diner for coffee and my favorite pie.

Photo: waiting for my daughter at Tic Toc Family Restaurant

This morning my legs felt more normal than they have in weeks and everything seemed to be working in coordination. But as the day wore on everything started stiffening up. It was the first time in about a month my right quad wasn’t burning all day.

So we shall see what tomorrow brings.

A Comedy of Errors 17th Birthday

Teenager #2 moved out last week, and Teenager #1 celebrated her 17th birthday last night— a celebration that included a good friend, her favorite movies, pizza from Dominos and Cards Against Humanity until past 1 a.m.

I got to bed at 3 a.m. after wrestling with temperamental Touch of Grey foster kitty, and ending the evening with a dog so exhausted that she wouldn’t leave her crate leaving me no choice but to lure her upstairs with a piece of bologna.

My living room is full of pizza and pizza boxes but it was a great day for the teenager.

The morning had a rough start. The teenager left for summer school. I had a 9 a.m. online therapy appointment. At 8:57, the dog walks to the door.

“No sunbathing,” I warn her.

But, the sun did distract her and as I tried to her back into the house, our cat Oz escaped and ran into the back yard. The dog, being a dog, engaged in chase. Oz ran. Bean ran. I ran. I fell. I got back up. I saw no sign of either. That’s the teenager’s dog and her first cat she raised from a kitten.

I frantically call them.

You cannot lose the dog on your daughter’s birthday.

The dog responded to her name.

But my neighbor’s dog Buddy starting barking hearing Bean outside his door. So Bean went on his porch and refused to budge.

It is 8:59.

I grab a leash off my neighbor’s tie. I clip it to Bean, drag Bean to our house, shove her in, and race back to the neighbor’s to return the leash.

9:00 a.m.

My heart is pounding. I dart into the house, grab my laptop, flip on the couch, log in, open my email, click on the link for video-chat, log in, authorize camera, authorize mic.

9:01 a.m.

My therapist pops on screen.

“Are you ready for me?” he asks.

“Not exactly,” I reply. “Give me one second.”

I tell him what happened. He asks if I’m okay post-fall. I mention I might have a bleeding toe but I will evaluate later.

“You certainly are resilient,” he says.

After the session, I take the dog to pee and Oz is on the neighbor’s porch, in her back yard, as if trapped. I put the dog away and retrieve him.

Oz

I bring him home, bring the dog out, tie her to her lead, and begin to hang the laundry on the clothesline.

Bean starts acting rammy. I wonder if the teen is home from school. I turn to look. Another dog is standing under Bean’s body. I have never seen this little black dog before, but Bean is trying to get it out from under her body. I don’t think our dog is acting aggressively, but I don’t know if she’ll eat this small dog.

The dog runs.

Bean did not touch it.

Teenager comes home and decorates the cake she made for her birthday. She leaves to get a friend.

Bean takes a bite out of the cake.

Lucky I caught her so we still had a cake.

Just another day in our menagerie.

The Lost Week and the Random Thoughts Within

It’s been eight days since I last posted, in part because of the mandatory overtime at the Stitch Fix Bizzy Hizzy. I had some scheduling difficulties regarding the commitment and had scheduled 13 hours of OT this week and 5 next week to meet my minimum commitment of 16 hours. I was told last night that I had misunderstood the communication and we had to work 8 hours each week.

So now I will be working 10 hour days and 9 hour days for the upcoming week of my birthday.

My Silk & Sonder planner which was due to arrive May 7 is still not here with no update to the tracking information. I will probably receive the June volume before the May one. They warned this might happen, but I really really hoped to have it for my birthday. It seems like the right time.

I bought some new gel pens at the Grocery Outlet and it’s been fun experimenting with colors.

Working so much overtime reminds me of the simple pleasures in life—

  1. When you’re working mandatory overtime, it’s okay to buy coffee out. Even better if you find good deals.
  2. Teenager #1 ordered us food from Tic Toc Diner for after her shift and my shift. We had a picnic in the backyard.
  3. I have missed having my nails done. Having them done (currently I have birthday unicorns) bring me joy.
  4. There was a new season of Hoarders on Netflix. That show is mesmerizing and terrifying at the same time. I once went into a hoarded house. I have huge admiration for the people who work with those who suffer from hoarding disorder. That one experience was enough for me.
  5. Teenager #1 introduced my blind friend Nan to Spotify. Hearing Nancy’s enthusiasm and seeing my daughter’s altruism really cheered me.
  6. I had an observation at work where I scored 101%.
  7. Fresca is a fun soda.
  8. I ordered a new pair of jeans. Button fly. Because I love button fly. I hope they fit. I bought myself some things at Rainbeau and Stitch Fix and am slowly transitioning to a casual versus professional wardrobe.
  9. Teenager #2 gave me socks for Mothers’ Day. And even hand-selected every design on them!
  10. Sleep.

The times they are a-changing

So, today is my estranged husband’s 46th birthday. Our daughter— the teenager— worked very hard on a custom gift.

She had $1.80 to her name and wanted to go to Dollar Tree and purchase wrappings.

I told her I could get her to $2.12 for tissue paper and a gift bag.

Now I keep a change purse separate from my wallet. But I usually leave it in my car. I also keep a half-pint “jelly” mason jar in center console in my car for my quarters. Because I believe in “parking quarters.” I think that shows how old I am.

I also keep a pint-sized canning jar in the kitchen for the spare change I forget to leave in the car or the coins that go through the wash or fall in the couch.

I always use that money at Dollar Tree, because even when you’re broke you can afford something at The Dollar Tree using the change from the jar.

So I took the jar with me into the store.

I gave the teenager enough change to have $3.18. That way she could also get a bow.

The cashier said she’d rather have coins than the teen’s dollar.

And then she asked what I had in the jar.

I told her that was my change.

“We buy change,” she said.

And the look in her eye was like I was gripping a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. I was holding a jar of nickels, dimes and pennies.

The line was getting very long but I counted out a dollar in small change and took my daughter’s paper money back.

Why I need my lucky shirt: a typical day when you’re eccentric and have cerebral palsy

The best stories start with “it began as a typical day,” but in this case it did not.

The teenager turned 16 on Tuesday and my employer had scheduled our annual meeting for Tuesday so I planned to take off today and tomorrow to celebrate with my offspring.

With Coronavirus changing everything I could have taken Monday and Tuesday instead.

Last night, I curled up in bed with a gin cocktail and watched some more of Harlan Coben’s: The Five on Netflix. (Mini review: my friend, brow maintenance person and nail tech Beth recommended the show—and I am enjoying what I feel is edgy cinematography, rapid paced story telling, complex writing, and realistically complicated and tragic characters. It’s like watching a comic book.)

So I got to bed later than I normally do and I slept a little better than I normally do. I fed the kittens, made coffee, started laundry and finagled a cake carrier into the dishwasher.

After a cup of my favorite Archer Farms Direct Trade Cafe Mosaica from Target on my breezy enclosed sun porch, I slapped some clothes on… and ended up trying to accessorize a basic outfit.

Which is funny because I was going to pick up Nan, who is blind and won’t see my efforts anyway.

And then I was surprised to find out that the teenager made me breakfast— a mini bagel with greens, cucumber and fresh bacon.

After we worked on some poetry, Nan and I went to Lidl. And I took her home.

When I arrived home, the teenager informed me that her plan for today involved not wearing pants. So after a brief respite, I went to Wendy’s for a Frosty-ccino.

That was when the real adventure began.

I decided to take Nala, my four-year-old Goffin’s cockatoo who joined the family in January. Now, recently we took Nala to Dunkin Donuts to try hash browns and that went well.

And this is how she did: Nala at Dunkin

And we had taken Misty, our kitten, to Wendy’s (Kitten at Wendy’s ) so why not a bird?

So I ordered my Frosty-ccino and a junior fry for my baby girl bird on the mobile app and got into the drive thru lane. And then I did what we all do in this day and age. I took a selfie.

That’s when I realized Nala had pooped on me in fear. And I had no wipes in the car. Green bird droppings now stained my white t-shirt and Nala was walking in the mess.

But everyone in the drive thru window loved her— three employees cooed at her from afar.

I pulled into a parking space and offered her a French fry and she was too scared to eat it. I drove her home, put the car in the garage, gathered the waste and the food and started up toward the house.

Now, the teenager’s father moved some heavy original doors from the house across the garage so he could use my great grandmother’s hutch in his apartment. He did this a couple week’s ago. The doors block a portion of the stairs.

I got tangled up on the stairs/with the doors and fell, to the left onto the doors to avoid smashing Nala who was on my right shoulder.

I almost spilled my coffee and French fries fluttered like hail.

But luckily Nala is a bird, and a forager, so she doesn’t mind a little dirt. I gather them all carefully and climb up from the floor, some contusions and cuts causing minor pain.

I bump the doors and they almost fall on me. This time the French fries scatter to the four winds.

I notice how much blood and dirt cover me and I head inside to discover Nala has pooped even more.

I set her down.

I remove my shirt. White tee shirt. Vivid blood. Green poop.

I wash up and count my blessings— I was very close (too close) to breaking an arm.

I put on my lucky shirt once I cleaned up.

Addendum: I posted this link on my LinkedIn profile and wrote this introduction as to why I felt this piece was important especially as part of a discourse on social justice.

I don’t like to admit I have a disability— #cerebralpalsy. But it’s important to note that with all the stereotypes and institutionalized ideas people have about “others,” whether other cultures, races, religions, sexualities, identities, educational or social class (the list goes on and on), for those of us who have tried to “pass” as “normal” or “mainstream,” our experience is difficult. As all life is difficult to one degree or another. But if you are obviously “different” and you can’t “pass,” those notions of who you are based on quick judgments can be catastrophic. Or lead to people doing harm to you or someone you love. #blacklivesmatter

In that context, allow me to share with you what a typical day looks like for me. Warning— I end up bleeding by the end of it. Different isn’t inferior. Or threatening.

June 2020 Universal Yums box—a Great Britain birthday

So as part of her birthday extravaganza I took the teenager’s mail and packages, compiled it into a box and gave it to her with her birthday cake during a small birthday dinner with her paternal grandparents.

In the box was her June 2020 Universal Yums box.

Part One

Part Two

I explained to the grandparents what this was all about— a monthly themed box of snacks from a certain region of the world.

I didn’t expect that after a mountain of meat loaf she could keep eating.

Best of the box:

  • The teenager loved the banana toffee.
  • We both liked the intense pickled onion rings.
  • The teenager enjoyed the shortbread.

Worst of the box:

  • The honey mustard potato chips were dull by my standards and too much for the teen. [after a while, the Mackie’s if Scotland crisps starting growing on me— the flavor and texture was perfect.)
  • We were all rather confused by the lamb and mint chips. They were weird. And not in a good way.

As the teenager finishes her sixteenth year…

The teenager was born at 1:34 a.m. on June 23, 2004. I was induced on Monday the 22nd. I remember it as a Monday because of the disappointment I felt as the clock struck midnight…

Why? you ask…

Well, Tuesday’s child is full of woe.

The French day, “I have XX years,” vs. “I am XX.” I am pondering that today because it really is more accurate.

When the teenager wakes up in the morning, she will have finished 16 years on this earth.

Doing silly things like this: Her cake topper (YouTube videos)

Her birthday started this weekend with a scavenger hunt at her dad’s and his homemade peanut butter bars. He invited me over to share in their celebration.

Today she spent the day with my father riding his Harley through the Pocono Mountains, eating pancakes and buying coffee from convenience stores.

And my mother-in-law asked what she wanted for her birthday. The teenager asked for a meatloaf.

Birthday Meatloaf

Well, if your in-laws are bringing a meatloaf, they might as well stay for dinner. And if the in-laws are here, you might as well invite the estranged husband.

And I had some “presents” for her. Unbeknownst to her, a bunch of her packages came today while she was gone.

Among the goodies: most of her Dress Lily order, her June Universal Yums box, and her “low brass witch” customized color-changing tumbler purchased to support my former Target colleague as her family dealt with Covid-related unemployment while their middle child (age six) is battling Leukemia.

More on all of these things another day, as I had a business meeting at eight p.m. and I took a long walk in today’s heat with Nala on my shoulder. She did well,

Vacation Day 1; Birthday day 4

We bought a burger kit at Tucker Provisions and took it to my dad’s to have a picnic, except it rained and rained so we cooked in the kitchen instead of on the grill.

(And the crazy started before we even left the neighborhood as the teenager saw that someone’s guard dog escaped and she was fairly certain she knew what home it came from since it was on her way to school. She lured it to its yard.)

Somehow this wasn’t surprise as I have always had the curse that it rains when I want to grill.

I’d hoped the teenager’s dad took that with him when our marriage ended. I guess not.

The meal was delicious and we shared it with my elderly Aunt Sharon who lives alone and has her share of disabilities.

I think my step mom loved the brioche rolls from Modern Crumb Bakery best.

We took a walk around the neighborhood after dinner and the teenager collected “treasure” in a brown paper bag— wildflowers, weeds, rocks. My little witch at work.

We had cheesecake. So much cheesecake.

And my dad offered to share his concoction that he makes for his immune system: onions, garlic and honey. No thanks, Dad.

The teenager got my bow from the basement—and once we remembered how to string it—shot arrows at trees in the yard.

Then the teenager brought in her marching baritone to play for her grandparents and she realized she didn’t have a mouthpiece.

What a lovely day with family.