Monday, March 28, 2011

Four Bikes And Crying

My daughter turns eleven on Wednesday and all she has wanted for months is a new bike. Not any old bike, but a beach cruiser. With big fat rims and the old fashioned styling. With wide handle bars and a basket. Being the type of mother who gives in to her children's every whim, I set out last week on what shall now be known as "The Great Beach Cruiser Quest". I hit the two stores that are in a 2 mile radius from my house. Target and Wal-Mart. Target and Wal-Mart were lacking in the beach cruiser department. They both had mountain bikes. Road bikes. Bikes with training wheels. Bikes with spinnin' rims. No beach cruisers.

When I returned from my great 2 mile radius journey I found that she had searched the internet for beach cruisers and found a hot pink one at that she wanted. I praised her for being so industrious. And then while she was at school, I bought it. This would be bike numero uno (bike number one).

When I first went on the website,, it informed me that I would receive free shipping on the hot pink beach cruiser. But when I checked out, they charged me $40.00 in shipping. Not exactly free. It had pushed the $130.00 price tag up to around $180.00 with tax. I may give in to my children's every whim, but only if it comes with free shipping. I called up customer service and was greeted by a man who spoke exactly like Apu in the Simpson's. He then went on to apologize that while the website might be advertising free shipping, my hot pink beach cruiser did not qualify. "Well, that sucks," I told him. "Yes ma'am, it does suck," he said in an Apu accent.

Feeling very taken advantage of, I went on to look at and low and behold they had the same bike. For $10.00 less! And FREE shipping! And they could get it there a whole FIVE days sooner than I ordered hot pink beach cruiser number two. Then called up and cancelled bike numero uno. I then also wrote a scathing email to about how I would never shop in their stores again (a lie). They sent me back an auto-reply about how they were so very sorry to hear that (another lie), but they were looking forward to serving me in the future.

I went on with my day, cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, counting how many times my neighbors leave and then come back and other mundane things I use to fill my time when all of sudden I realized that I didn't check If I got a good deal at, I would probably get an even better one there. I run back upstairs to the office and immediately log on. Much to my surprise, has an even bigger and better and cheaper selection of bikes. And they will ship it and assemble at my local store tomorrow. And this time it isn't any trashy hot pink beach cruiser. It is a mint green, classically styled beach cruiser with cream rims and brown leather seat and handle bars with a wicker basket for the low, low price of $89.00. I was instantly in love. I order it. It shall now be known as bike number three. I then called up and explain that I needed to cancel the order I just placed for bike number two. The woman on the other line (who does not have an Apu accent) tells me that my order that I placed two hours ago has already shipped. She has a tracking number and everything. Crap. I now have two bikes on their way to my house.

Later in the day Wal-Mart sends me a text that my mint green beach cruiser has arrived and is ready for pick-up. I take the seats out of my very large sport-utility vehicle and drive down to collect my daughter's new bike. But when I get there, there is a problem. No one can find it. I stand in customer service for 45 minutes while they search shipping and receiving, high and low, front and back for my bike. They finally tell me to just go home and they will call me when they find it. Two hours later I get bad news. I drive back down and they inform me that the bike was sold by another associate out of the back of the store. Turns out a Wal-Mart employee will sell you anything that isn't nailed down out of the back when no one is looking. And so my bike was gone. Even though it said purchased by me. It even had receipt stapled to it and said customer will be in today. Good-bye bike number three.

Wal-Mart places another order on-line for the same mint green beach cruiser. Hello bike number four. They tell me that it will be there in 48 hours. "Not good enough!" I tell them. I'm trying really hard to give off the annoyed customer vibe but all I can manage is the tired customer vibe. Apparently it's enough because the Asst. Store Manager gives me a gift card for $20.00. I'll take it.

Meanwhile, an unwanted bike number two, a hot pink beach cruiser has been delivered at my home (thank heavens it was in a box). My daughter is dancing around the living room singing "I know what that is! I know what that is! It's my birthday bike!" Very annoying. "It's not a bike. It's a desk. And it's going back." I tell her. "Then why is it from Toys-R-Us?" She counters. "Because," I answer. "It's a desk for your brother but it's too small so it's going back." She still doesn't believe me. But you should have seen her face when UPS showed up with a call-tag for the package and she watched them carry the box out and load it in the truck. She stood there not knowing what to say. "See? I told you it wasn't your bike." Her eyes welled up with tears and she ran upstairs. That scene alone should get me nominated for Mother Of The Year.

Anyway, Wal-mart called me early the next morning to tell me that bike number four was there and assembled and had an armed sentry standing guard until I picked it up. As the bike was wheeled out to me the Asst. Store Manager kept apologizing. "This has never happened before. I'm so sorry." "It's okay," I told her. "I got the cute bike. I got $20.00 bucks out of it. Let's call it good." She seemed very relieved that I wasn't going to be causing a ruckus in the middle of the store. I don't know. Maybe I should have. I probably could have gotten the bike for free.

What lessons did I learn from all this?
Lesson #1- The internet does not make things easier.
Lesson #2 - The internet gives you too many options.
Lesson #3 - Hide any packages that are delivered to your house before child thinks they are for them and then is crushed when they are picked up.
Lesson #4 - I need to be a more decisive shopper.
Lesson #5 - It probably would have been easier if when I went to Wal-Mart, and didn't see what I liked, I just grabbed the nearest associate and asked, "Whatcha got in back?"

Bike Number Four

Well? What do you think? Was it all worth it?

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Un-Luck Of The Irish

My brothers and I say that we are mostly Irish. With an almost 100% Irish mother and a 25% Irish father, we consider ourselves to about 60% Irish. I've always heard about the luck of the Irish but I'm beginning to wonder. My brothers and I have had quite a few spells of un-luck. Here are a few.

Me -
I've broken my feet three times. Yep. Three. One time was jumping over a baby gate.
Rear-ended the car in front of me with a cop right behind me. Can you say ticket?

Brother #1 -
Was struck by lightning. If that's not unlucky, I don't know what is.
Broke not one, but both of his legs, in the same place. Not at the same time though.
Fell off of a house he was roofing. I don't know if this is unlucky, or just uncoordinated.

Brother #2 -
Totaled new Volkswagen (it was even Shamrock Green) driving down canyon. Went over the side and drove over rocks. Car looked fine from the top, looked underneath and it was all torn up.
Had hood fly up and hit windshield on car on the freeway.

Brother #3 -
Broke his leg. Got it fixed. Broke it again three days later.
While I taught him to drive a manual transmission, he floored my car and took out not one, but two of the neighbors fences and their deck.

So are the Irish really that lucky? Or should we consider the fact that we are only partially Irish so we don't have the full extent of the maximum potency of Irish luck? Or maybe we should count ourselves lucky that we are all still alive and have all of our appendages still attached? Hmmm... I'm not sure. I know a couple of things though. My parents should have invested in some better driving lessons for us and taken out stock in the local orthopaedic surgeon.

Happy St. Patricks Day!!!

Erin Go Braugh!!!  (Ireland Forever!!!)

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Cat Pee Kind Of Day

I just spent the last hour cleaning up pee. Not any old kind of pee. Cat pee. The most unbearably fragant kind of pee there is. I will take people pee over cat pee any day of the week. Mostly because you can tell the people not to pee there again and they will listen to you. I can tell that cat over and over again, "Do NOT  urinate outside of the litterbox!" He just looks at me with that I-hate-you stare. Dang cat.

Just to be fair, it wasn't all the cat's fault. He's not incontinent. It's just he couldn't get to his litterbox in time. Or actually, at all. My sweet daughter closed the door to his "room", the upstairs bathroom, last night before she went to bed. Poor kitty. After I went to bed I'm sure he sat at the bathroom door for a good hour before he gave up and found other means of taking care of business. The other means ended up being my son's winter coat that had slipped off the hook.

This morning as my children are getting their backpacks and jackets on, I can smell a very familiar, very pungent aroma. Believe me, once you've smelled fresh cat pee, you never forget it. I start sniffing. First, I smell the kids. Negative. They had just showered so it would have been very suspicious if the odor was coming from them. I smelled the couch. Negative. The closet. Negative. Alexander's coat on the floor. Bingo! We have a winner.

After some choice words and tossing the cat into his "room" (upstairs bathroom), I began the cleaning process.

How To Clean Up Cat Pee - By Kelly (with love)
1. Yell at kids for leaving coats on floor for the cat to pee on in the first place.
2. Rumage around under sink for rubber gloves.
3. Pick up "soiled" garment and place in washing machine.
4. Select temperature. Scalding should do it. Dump in 10 times more detergent than needed.*
     *WARNING - Even with this much detergent it still might not get the smell out.
5. Return to the scene of the crime.
6. Carefully get on hands and knees and begin the sniff test.*
     *WARNING - The sniff test is as unpleasant as it sounds. It entails sniffing everything until you find more.
7. Discover that cat pee soaked through coat into very expensive wool rug.
8. Swear. Loudly, because the kids are at school.
9. Yell at cat through the bathroom door.
10. Retrieve carpet cleaner from the basement and all the cleaning attachments that go with it.
11. Use a full bottle of Resolve Carpet Cleaner and Febreeze* pre-treating soiled carpet.
     *WARNING - A must!
12. Run carpet cleaner on hottest setting over the soiled area for at least 15 minuets.
13. Smell carpet.
14. If it still stinks, return to step 11. If it's all clear, set carpet cleaner aside because you may need it again when it's dry. You can never really know if the smell is gone till the article is completely dry.

I got it cleaned up. I think. I finally let the cat out and he's hiding from me under my bed. I yelled at him, after all. He's not happy. Let's hope he doesn't crap under there.

After a couple of hours, I felt like I was still smelling little whiffs of it here and there. Smelled carpet again. Clean. Smelled all coats, shoes, slippers that were in a 20 foot radius of the incident. Clean. Where was it? Finally, while I was at the computer I found the offending article. My sweatshirt. That I was wearing. At that very moment. 

It seems while I was putting the coat in the washer (step 3), some dripped off the coat and onto my sleeve. Yes. It is as gross as it seems. I had to repeat steps 3 & 4. I then sniffed the rest of my clothing. Smelled clean but I wasn't taking any chances. I was afraid I was in olfactory fatigue. You know, where you smell the same smell over and over and eventually you stop smelling it? But everyone else still can smell it? That was what I was afraid of. I was afraid I was going to be the Stinky-Cat-Pee lady in the neighborhood. What? Your neighborhood doesn't have one of those? You're missing out. I stripped down. Gave myself a bio-hazard shower. Got out and did a sniff test again. I've pronounced myself clean. For now.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Botox And Brainwashing

I am a headache connoisseur. I know the difference between a migraine, a tension headache and the all mysterious cluster headache. I know if a headache has been brought on by not enough sleep, too much sleep, stress, bright light, or caffeine. It's like I'm a rare wine taster except that I'm a rare headache solver. I can feel one coming on and instead of swirling the glass of wine I rub my temple and intuitively say "Oh, this one is because I was up from 2 am until 3 am." Or "This one is because my child just told me that they have a huge project due tomorrow morning and it's 8:00 at night."

I know my headaches.

The reason I have such extensive knowledge relating to unexplainable pain in the head is because I have so many headaches. Migraines, check. Cluster, check. And, my all time fave, tension, BIG check.

Before we go any further, let it be said that yes, I have had a CAT scan. I have had a MRI. They came up with nothing other than the fact that the radiologist said it was the most beautifully formed brain they had ever seen.

Ah, my old friend, the tension headache. Starts out with a tightening between the eyes. Spreads to the temples. Feels like your head is in a C-clamp. Comes on every, single, day around 1:00 in the afternoon. Funny, that is also the time when I realize that not everything I have to get done today is going to get done that day.

I head to the doctor to get my fourth prescription and he starts by asking me how many ulcers I've had in the last two years. "Four." I answer. To which he replies "You know those are a direct result of the prescription ibuprofen." And I say "Yes. I know."  He starts to tell me that maybe we should look at other options. "Like what?" I ask. And, he answers "The dreaded needle."

My first reaction is that he is going to hook me to an IV drip to get the medicine into my bloodstream faster. But he says no. "Kelly, I'm talking a needle to your face."

WHOA. Slow down. My face? Like, right in my face? A shot? "Fifteen shots to be exact." He replies. "Fifteen shots of Botox."  He goes on to tell me how Botox is FDA approved to treat migraines and tension headaches and they are having great results and blah, blah, blah. I'm not liking this. I mean, call me crazy, but I like to make expressions. When I'm angry, I want people to know it. He starts throwing around words like kidney damage and liver breakdown enzymes. Ewww. Okay. If I have to choose between 15 shots of Botox in my face and my prescriptions permanently damaging my kidneys, I guess I will take the Botox.

I make the injection appointment for later in the week and leave the office. My internal dialogue begins. 'Is this who I am? Do I get Botox in my face? Do I need to start plumping my lips and dressing like a "Housewife" from any major metro area? Will my trendy friends embrace me? Will my hiking-outdoorsy friends shun me? Will my intellectual friends laugh at me?' As you can see, I talk to myself a lot. I told myself it really doesn't matter what anybody thinks. This was ordered by a real medical doctor. This is for a legitimate reason. I'm not vain. I just want my head to start feeling better.

I arrive at the appointment and much to my surprise, it's not the medical doctor who will be doing the shots. It's his nurse practitioner. And she is 26 and super perky!

Her - "Okay! Are you like so excited?"
Me - "To get shots? No."
Her - "You are like so going to love it! It will get rid of all those pesky worry wrinkles on your forehead!"
Me - "Well, that's not why I'm doing it. I get really bad headaches. And what wrinkles are you talking about? I'm only 36."
Her - "Oh, it will just soften you." (Apparently I look hard.) "Are you ready?"
Me - A big hand clap. "Let's do this thing."

Fifteen pinpricks and five minutes later, it was done.

Her - "How do you feel?!"
Me - "Um... the same."
Her - "Well, it takes a week to kick in. Where else do you want some?"
Me - "Um... nowhere."
Her - "Come on. Everybody wants more. Look at my face. I've had it all over."
Me - "Yeah, but I like to move my face."
Her - "You'll like so be back. Everybody always comes back for more."

She pushed me so hard to have more that you would think the Botox company was giving her kickbacks. I held my ground and only got the shots where the medical doctor prescribed them.

I left. About 24 hours later I noticed my daily tension headache wasn't nearly as painful as it usually is. Forty-eight hours later, I was headache free. I ran outside my house. I shouted to the birds, the trees, the mailman, "My headache is gone! It's gone! It worked! It really, really, worked!" It was like clouds had parted and I was seeing the sun for the first time in years. I called my family, my friends. I danced in the kitchen. I threw away all my medicine. Okay, I didn't throw it away but I put it high on the shelf instead of it's usual place on my nightstand. I was a new woman.

Now here is the thing. My forehead wrinkles are gone. Really. And I can still move my forehead. As I looked in the mirror, I started wondering what else she could do for me. She had mentioned the little wrinkles by my eyes. Hmm... I wonder how I would look with those gone? To which I slapped myself in the face and yelled "STOP!" If you go there, when do you quit? I could see myself in a years time with fish lips and size F breasts and ratty hair extensions and super tight cheeks. Not looking better, but definitely looking weird.

So now you know. I had Botox. And I really do love it. Where as I went to the office grudgingly, a week later I was singing the praises of botulism toxin. Does this change who I am? I hope not. When I tell people what I did I always include that it was prescribed by a medical doctor  (I am not vain). But I'll tell you one thing. Those Botox people? They sure know what they're doing.
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