NYC Part 3: Staten Island

This post is the third installment of banter about my recent girls weekend in NYC. If you missed the first two, you can read them here: NYC Part 1: Feeding my soul and NYC Part 2: Round metal Ray-bans.

***

My girl’s weekend trip to New York City was almost a month ago. Almost a month ago. Time flies. Truly. I recently read that somewhere in your 30’s the time starts to peel away faster and faster. Being “somewhere in my 30’s” I agree. Before any more time peels away, I want to share more sentiments about my trip to the big city.

I broke this post into 4 parts because I touch on a few different topics and disorganization makes me crazy. Even though it might be confusing that the title of this blog post is Part 3 in a mini-series of NYC posts and there are 4 parts within Part 3, at least it won’t be disorganized.

Confusing? Yes.

Disorganized? No.

Never mind.

What I am trying to say is I want to tell you four short stories that I subtitled:

  1. Food & Beverage (F&B)
  2. She Saw, He Saw
  3. The cheap thrill
  4. Loved ones

I’ll even outline as I go so it’ll be easier to follow. I’m helpful and dorky and obsessively orderly like that!

(And unwilling to provide proper transitions).

Ok, ok… without further ado…

1. Food & Beverage (F&B)

We ate good on the trip. My friend, aka The Map, made all the dinner reservations and picked some outstanding restaurants. We ate French food at Balthazar in SoHo on the first night, we ate Italian food at Morandi in the West Village on the second night, and we ate Chinese food at Buddakan in the Meat Packing District on our last night in New York.

Hungry yet?

I don’t take a lot of pictures of food, but I did take this one of our shared dessert at Buddakan.

Delish!

My intended focal point was more about the unity of our four hands, armed with forks, digging into yet another soul feeding moment on our trip. Rest assured though, the chocolate pistachio cremoso hiding in the shadows didn’t stand a chance against our hunger for an indulgence.

Onto drink.

I wet my tongue with many delicious beverages on this trip. On my birthday I drank a 7 and 7 for old-time sake. I don’t know why, but I suspect it had something to do with feeling young(er). I went through at 7 and 7 phase about ten years ago. Weird.

I later toasted my birthday with my favorite mixed drink that hasn’t fluctuated with age: A dirty vodka martini.

IMG_1244

I also had my first taste of cucumber and lemon infused ice water. Throughout the trip, I noticed this refreshing bev was a fixture in just about every restaurant or coffee shop I went to thereafter.

I’ll drink to that concoction.

IMG_1260

My most artistic looking drink of the weekend was a latte at Gimme! Coffee. Not only was the latte artsy and tasty, but the name of the coffee shop was effective.

Gimme! Coffee.

Concise and to the point.

IMG_1381

Unrelated to art whatsoever, I drank a huge Bud Light on the Staten Island Ferry the next afternoon. Just because.

So about Staten Island… Yeah… Umm… Staten Island. So yeah…

Warning: Mild adult humor to follow as I awkwardly transition to the second part of Post 3.

2. She Saw, He Saw

On the second afternoon of our trip, my friends and I boarded the Staten Island Ferry solely for the purpose of fun, free entertainment (and Bud Light apparently). Before boarding, I snapped this picture:

IMG_1344

Now what do you see, Ladies?

Because my friends, my wholesome dear sweet friends, saw: Penis Land.

Look again.

Do you kind of see how one’s imagination might just happen to see a P in front of the rest of the text?

I know, I know. Here we were on a (married) GIRL’S weekend and already some of us had penis on the brain.

So yeah… that is what “She Saw.” Never mind the “Stat” part of Staten Island that got cut off. It’ll forever be a P for the four of us, and now maybe some of you. Sorry ’bout that!

Let’s just chalk that one up to our heterosexuality and move on because, since this is the first time I have ever written “penis” on my blog, I am starting to feel uncomfortable.

What “He Saw” was a little softer. But not much.

I showed the following picture to my husband when I got home:

IMG_1339

Excitedly, I said, “Look! Notice anything fun about this picture?”

His response was, “Nice. You went to Hooters?”

What?! Hooters?

I hadn’t even noticed the “Hoot” in the picture, yet that was the first thing that his male eyes zeroed in on. Writing the word Hooters doesn’t make me nearly as uncomfortable as writing the word penis on the blog, but I think I better move on anyway. Heaven forbid certain search terms attract the wrong kind of readers to my blog, if you know what I mean. Ai yi yi, it’s only biology here…

Oh! But in case you are wondering what the “fun” thing about the picture was, it is my friend, aka Madame Sunglasses from the last post, and I on the huge jumbo-tron.

Look again.

That’s us above the Spinelli’s Pizza sign. Our fifteen seconds of fame on the big screen in the near of Penn Station, Ladies and Gentlemen.

3. The cheap thrill

Also on the second afternoon of our trip, I started Facebook messaging a friend from growing up who lives in the city. We were spontaneously trying to make plans to meet. At some point, she in-boxed me her current cell phone number so we could text instead.

I sent her the following text:

Hi. What are you doing tonight? Friends and I are eating at Morandi in the West Village at 9 if you want to join? Otherwise we could meet you for a walk or coffee in the AM.

Within five seconds I got a response back that read:

Can’t wait to meet up, btw what do you look like?

And then before I had a chance to process, a second text came in that read:

Because if your good looking I’m down for a trip

Let’s just say I obviously had the wrong number.

I never wrote (him?) back, but my friends and I sure did roar about the exchange that was happening with someone other than my friend. You see, that’s the thing about girl’s weekends — cheap (innocent) thrills get us giddy. Either that or those Bud Lights were the gift that kept on giving that afternoon.

The next day we sorted out the whole wrong cell phone number issue, and I got to meet up with my friend. We all lived happily ever after, and I haven’t heard from the inconspicuous texter since then.

4. Loved ones

As much tasty F&B I consumed on the trip and as much laughter as the mild adult humor and cheap thrill provided me with, my loved ones at home kept me grounded.

On the first night I texted my family a picture of me holding the yellow car (from my son) and the bouncy ball (from my daughter) that my kids tucked into my purse before I left home. Throughout the trip, I kept one in each coat pocket and cupped my hands around them frequently.

IMG_1246

I bought my husband a shave brush and some fancy shaving cream because I was thinking of his face, even though he didn’t send me off with a yellow car or bouncy ball. The nerve!

IMG_1448

The New York Shaving Company

One afternoon, when I was eating a soft pretzel as I strolled toward Penn Station to meet Madame Sunglasses I held it up to take a picture of the shape I had unintentionally formed with my bites. The shape reminded me of how my little boy writes the letter E sometimes. Like a backwards C with a stem in the middle. My heart ached a little for him.

IMG_1336

So you see, being away definitely makes the heart grow fonder.

‘Nuff Said.

This concludes part four of Part 3, which I hope wasn’t too confusing for you because my writing always makes perfect sense to me. Ha!

You may now step off the ferry from Staten Island and return to your previously scheduled day. I recommend that you consume some tasty F&B at your earliest convenience. Your soul will thank you. I do not recommend the dirty vodka martini unless you are off the job, but I do recommend the fancy water at any time.

Over the weekend I challenge you to keep your eyes open for any signs or pictures that might make you think of……………

Never mind. I feel uncomfortable all over again.

I’ll be back next week with a final NYC post about the reasons why the four of us took this trip and why it is important to get away with your girlfriends every once in a while. Should be entertaining… and it might just inspire you to plan your next getaway!

What’s the temperature darling?

A little over a year ago, a blurb about one of the new Roseanne Cash songs, Etta’s Tune, caught my eye online. Her latest album, The River & the Thread (2014), had recently been released and the story was promoting the album by sharing some of the back stories behind the songs. Upon learning more about Etta’s Tune and then listening to the ballad, I needed to hear more of Roseanne’s songs on the album.

Etta’s Tune is about the wife of Marshall Grant, Johnny Cash’s original bass player. She and Marshall were married for 65 years, which is no small feat for a touring musician. Before Etta died in 2011 she told Roseanne that she and Marshall would ask each other “What’s the temperature darling?” every morning as a way of sort of checking in with each other. Roseanne thought it was such a practical and solid way to start off the day, not to mention all the metaphorical levels the question could imply. So she and her musician husband, John Leventhal, wrote and recorded the song together.

Etta’s Tune moved me to tears the first time I heard about it, and by the time I listened to the song I was all out bawling as my little girl sat on my lap looking at me with interest. The lyrics speak about some of the many hardships the couple faced, and tells the story that eventually led Marshall back “home.” A true love story of flaws and perseverance.

I have listened to the song many, many times and in the process familiarized myself with the rest of the songs on the album. Roseanne has a beautiful, smoky voice and the songs, that she writes herself, remind me that everyone has a story to tell. The way in which she tells her stories is filled with symbolism and beautiful language and metaphors that she masterfully exemplifies. The songs on The River & the Thread are about the American South and some of Roseanne’s roots, including where she grew up in Memphis, TN.

Theriverandthethread

Now I was born above The Mason-Dixon line, but since I was a teenager I have been a country music fan. Growing up, I knew all the top country songs and artists playing on my town’s local radio station, WFRM. Through that love, I also learned to familiarize myself with some of the old greats. My Dad exposed me to Willie Nelson and George Straight from the tape-deck of his pick-up truck. Then I remember being hooked on early Faith Hill and, in fact, I still have a cassette tape of her album Take Me As I, featuring Wild One, which became my theme song for a while.

The more country music I listened to, the more I delved deeper into country roots songs and artists – George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams, Reba, Tammy Wynette, and of course, Johnny Cash to name a few. When I decided to go to a college that was below the Mason-Dixon line, I gained more exposure to country music and listened to it often with my girlfriends of the south. Dixieland Delight anyone?

At this point in my life, I continue to appreciate the vocals, the acoustics, the performances, the song writers, and the entertainment value of all things country. That said, last Thursday night I seized an opportunity to hear some live music on campus by a talented country singer and songwriter.

Guess who?

The one and only, Roseanne Cash.

A week before the concert, I saw a flyer downtown with her picture on it, and I did a double take. When I took a closer look, I learned that she would be performing on campus the following week. A glimmer of possibility rippled through me. Holy crap, I thought! She is going to sing Etta’s Tune, and I HAVE to be there.

But life gets in the way, and dropping everything to go to a concert spur-of-the-moment on a random Thursday evening is not exactly commonplace in my world right now. Who would I go with? Who would watch the kids? The concert starts at bedtime! The kids need a bath! I have so much to do this week! We are going out of town on Saturday! I have to clean! I have to pack! I should go to bed early tonight because I am exhausted! I can’t possibly go!

Or can I?

All last week, knowing Roseanne would be performing just a few miles away from my house gnawed at me. I knew my husband was not interested in going, and I did not know anyone else who would be interested, so I began to visualize myself going alone. Why not, right? To sit there with Roseanne and soak up live music sounded like a dream. Ah yes, just me and Roseanne. What a great time we would have together!

But I did not buy a ticket. I kept thinking about buying a ticket, but I didn’t. On the evening of the concert, my hubby came home from work and teased me by asking me if I was going to the concert by myself. I looked at him hopefully. “Go if you want,” he said with understanding.

Even then, I asked myself again: Should I? Why am I feeling guilty about treating myself to the concert?

After dinner, I wandered into my office and looked up tickets online. You know, just to see what might be available. Just to see.

Well, what I saw was the determining factor in my decision. There was ONE available seat in Row AA Seat 24, which as it happened was FRONT AND CENTER. One seat. Front and center. Of course, there were still plenty of seats in the way, way, way, way, waaaaaaay back of the auditorium, but there was only this one lonely seat up front. I purchased it faster than you can say Johnny Cash.

I was giddy as I drove to the concert. It felt great to go because this is prime example of something I knew I would probably regret later if I hadn’t decided to go. I was going and that was that!

When I got there I was definitely on the young end of the crowd up front, but I loved being there, even if all alone. For you know what? When Roseanne started to sing, it seriously felt like just me and Roseanne. I was not alone at all. I bawled my eyes out during Etta’s Tune and didn’t take my eyes off her or the band during their entire set. Or her guitar strap that read: CASH.

IMG_1778

View from my seat. No zoom.

When the concert was over, I was unbelievably glad I went and so grateful to my hubby for giving me the green light to go do something he knew was important to me. I am glad I cured that gnawing feeling I had about wanting to see her perform. I am glad I silenced my inner naysayer and silenced my cell phone for a few hours to travel to those places in the American South that Roseanne sang about.

You can’t put a price on an experience like that, or whatever other form of entertainment or artists you enjoy. Whether in the form of live music, visiting a museum with your kids, going on a ferry ride, riding a trolley through an unexplored city, walking across a famous bridge, or whatever else lights your fire, being in the present moment  while the rest of the world is on hold trumps all.

I guess I’ll catch up on sleep later, and no matter what, even a clean house will ultimately get messy again. These cycles are all part of the stories in which we live. So tomorrow ask a loved one, What’s the temperature darling? You might be surprised about the dialogue that follows.

NYC Part 2: Round metal Ray-bans

This post is the second installment of banter about my recent girls weekend in NYC. If you missed the first one, you can read it here: NYC Part 1: Feeding my soul.

***

Looking for new sunglasses this season? Allow John Lennon to show you the way.

When I walked into the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue during my trip, a post card from The Readers and Writers Shop caught my eye.

IMG_1603

John Lennon. 1974. Round metal sunglasses. Wavy hair. Cross pendant. Graphic Tee. Belt buckle.

I immediately bought it with plans to tack up in my office for inspiration. Totally retro, full of attitude, and the photo reminded me of an old poster I hung in my college dorm room.

Imagine

Later in the trip my long-time friend and I found ourselves trying on sunglasses and having a photoshoot as we worked our way around the store modeling each designers collection.

Desktop41

At the end of our escapade, we learned that the “in” sunglasses this season are round metal Ray-bans. Or basically, round anything. But the Ray-bans took me back to the postcard. This years look is inspired by legendary musicians in the 1960’s. Of course!

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one

Gold, silver, pink, purple, knock-offs… Getcha some.

IMG_1399

Because…

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s all right

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here

***

Stay tuned for the third installment of banter about my recent girls weekend in NYC. Coming soon!

NYC Part 1: Feeding my soul

Even after I told the cabby, “34th Street between 11th and 12th,” I couldn’t stop saying it in my mind, as if repetition would get me there faster.

34th Street between 11th and 12th

34th Street between 11th and 12th

I was on my way from SoHo racing to catch a bus from downtown that would take me back home after a three night leave away from my kids. Before running outside of the hotel to hail a cab, I hastily glanced at my email reservation with the bus pick-up point that I was desperately trying not to forget as I flung my arm up in the air trying to wave down the next driver.

As a non-native New Yorker, and definitely not a city girl my mind was a little foggy after being overstimulated by the busy city streets, endless crowds, late-nights, and possibly too many indulgences with my girlfriends. Ok fine, booze. Let’s just call a spade a spade here, which may clear up some confusion over my potential inability to remember an address.

I’d had a fabulous time in the city with three of my cherished girlfriends, but if I missed my bus home I would be devastated. The last morning flew by way too fast and knowing my family was waiting for me, I began to feel the pull. Responsibilities and real life were beckoning me as I began to come down from the (figurative) high that I’d been living on for the last 48 hours.

The most imperfectly perfect picture and group of friends a girl could ask for.

The most imperfectly perfect picture and group of friends a girl could ask for.

When an available cab, my shiny yellow chariot, pulled up to the curb where I was standing, my nerves began to settle. I definitely wouldn’t have too much time to spare, but I knew I had ample time to get there and find a seat on the double-decker bus that would carry me home. As the cab sped away, I put on my sunglasses and tried to take in the last of the sights and sounds rapidly passing by me.

IMG_1241

And Goodbye NYC!

I was the first of the four of us to leave the lovely brunch I had been enjoying just 30 minutes ago. One of my friends, aka “The Map,” was still enjoying her last bites of a pecan sticky bun during another tasty NYC brunch. I already missed her and the security of her geographical knowledge of the city. I missed the pack, too. We’d been each others companions and backs during a girls revival weekend, and I love that feeling of sisterhood shared among close friends and true sisters for two of us. I felt a natural sadness coming on as we hugged goodbye and as  my energy level began its decent after a weekend filled with constant gusto.

The liberating feelings of freedom I had embraced from being away from my kids for a few nights were well warranted because every iota of my being needed a break from my day-job as stay-at-home-Mom. It goes without saying I love being at home with my kids, but part of the reason for this trip is because I love myself, too. At one point I decided that not going on a get-away trip like this would be a disservice to my kids and myself.

I live in a demanding place of push and pull between what my two-year-old and four-year-old needs from me and what I need as a human being aside from them. The latter, which constantly gets side-swiped, has been starving for some independence. My last girls weekend trip to NYC was almost two years ago, and I was pregnant with my daughter at the time. Glowing with bump, but restricted with choice.

Fast forward to March 26-29, 2015. This time to NYC I only had to worry about feeding my own soul.

And so the trip began.

Feeding my soul, another phrase I couldn’t get out of my head. Just hours after arriving to the city on the first day, I made a theatrical proclamation to my friends that feeding my soul is what the trip means to me. Incidentally, it was also my birthday so I felt an extra force of certainty when I said those words.

Feeding my soul.

Feeding my soul.

No one was hollering from my womb about what they needed or pressing on my bladder. No one under four feet tall was requesting fruit snacks and begging me to play super heroes or asking me to find a lost bouncy ball for the 8,000th time that day.

So how did I feed my soul for three nights?

Aside from the obvious girl laughter, nonsense, late-nights, delicious food, fancy drinks, booty shaking, and shopping-filled moments, I fed my soul by taking pictures of random objects that became interesting to me.

A pair of red high tops with gold zippers on either side of the tongue and in the back.

A pair of red high tops with gold zippers on either side of the tongue and in the back.

Check please!

Check please!

Admit one.

Admit one.

IMG_1289

The Big Apple core.

These pictures are all interesting to me because:

(a). I would never don those red high tops, but on someone else – rock on with your badass self. You can do and wear anything you want in NYC, and I respect that.

(b). I have never been given a check in a mini tin planter, plus I wanted to remember the double smash avocado with an egg and toast that I ate for breakfast while I am eating my kids slimy leftovers in my day-to-day life.

(c). I have not had my hand, let alone the inside of my wrist, stamped at a bar in years. Fortunately I didn’t wake up with it smeared on my cheek the next morning.

(d). And hot damn, eating a gigantic apple on the Subway and then not being able to find a trash can sure did give me some inspiration for a little word play, even if only to provide a chuckle for myself.

Later in the trip I no doubt then provided a chuckle for my girlfriends as I swung my hips in an almost $4,000 Prada dress like I was on a catwalk in Italy.

I'll think about it.

I’ll think about it.

I have so many stories to tell about this trip, so many revelations about motherhood, so many hysterical moments that only occur during a girls weekend, and so much content to keep me daydreaming and writing when my kids are at bay. I love my little time-suckers darlings so much, but I’m going to keep feeding my soul on this trip for as long as I can.

Tonight I’ll stop here, but stay tuned for Part II. Coming soon!

I’ll have my Shamrock Shake and drink it, too

I love Shamrock Shakes.

There. I said it. And you know what? I’m going to own it and put my straw where my mouth is.

To all you calorie-counting crazies and health-conscious foodies using spinach and kale in place of all the delicious mystery ingredients (I hear there are many) that make a Shamrock Shake a Shamrock Shake — You can all look the other way when I roll into McDonald’s and state with dignity, “I’ll have one Shamrock Shake please.”

Dignity you say?

Yes, dignity. Ain’t no shame or guilt here.

And when the cashier asks if I would like whipped cream?

Why yes, indeed I would.

St. Patrick’s Day comes but once a year, and depriving myself of a green-dyed minty milkshake is like not eating candy corn at Halloween. It’s like not eating turkey at Thanksgiving. It’s like not eating candy canes at Christmas time. It’s like not eating a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day. It’s like not eating jelly beans on Easter. It’s like not eating a whipped dessert with berries that looks like an American flag on Independence Day.

Blimey!

Obviously I base my seasonal celebrations on food, and you can bet I’m going to keep with tradition as I slurp up a Shamrock Shake. The Shamrock Shake originated at McDonald’s in 1970 and has withstood the test of time through continued popularity. Obviously, I am not alone in my love for this seasonal shake that marks an annual celebration and tradition.

Cheers to the Irish.

American salute to the Irish.

Naysayers, I beg you, please stop trying to ruin the joy of drinking a Shamrock Shake for the rest of us. Please take your “This is why you shouldn’t drink a Shamrock Shake” articles and verbiage on all the millions of chemical-filled ingredients that encompass a shake and add up to the 47,000 odd calories and 9,000 grams of sugar elsewhere.

There are some things that aren’t meant for open discussion or change of popular opinion. This is one of them.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! May you celebrate the Irish with shamrocks and green.

Frozen in time

I finally thew away an acorn squash that had been sitting in the fruit bowl on my kitchen counter since last September. Much like myself right now, due to the current winter weather conditions, it had become frozen in time. Time, the ever elusive place.

Having never cooked an acorn squash before, I bought one at a local pumpkin patch with high hopes of trying to replicate a yummy recipe that an acquaintance had made. For whatever reason, I couldn’t seem to muster up the motivation or courage to cook a new recipe. So it sat there through the whole fall season and into winter like an unknown intruder trying to find its place.

At some point, I must have realized I was not going to cook it, but I also could not throw it away. That would be a waste, despite its growing discoloration and slow deterioration into a paltry excuse for a gourd.

There it sat.

The butternut squashes came rolling in and out of my kitchen all season. I baked them in stride or used them in soups like years prior. Their warm goodness found ways into my belly, but that acorn squash remained dormant.

Which leads me to my current mentality: Dormant.

Since moving to Pennsylvania last summer, I energetically raked my way through mountains of fall leaves and I am currently shoveling, though now half-heartedly, my way through piles winter snow. I knew winter in the north was way more intense than winter in Virginia. I tried to prepare by purposefully making a pact with myself to embrace the bluster of the season through the last day of February, at which point I could slowly allow myself to long for warmer weather and buds on the trees. I braced myself. And then, I relaxed into a sled with my kids and threw some snow up in the air. The powdery white stuff sprinkled all around us with festive buoyancy.

Somehow about a week or so ago, my mentality about “embracing” the winter weather until March 1 got swept away by a snow squall. Much like the extreme cold temps of late – I am talking below zero at night for days on end – I am literally frozen. And not in an Ice-Princess-Elsa-I-am-going-to-conquer-my-powers-and-take-back-my-kingdom-in-green-fashion kind of way. More like, frozen in time with no desire to do much of anything, except survive this wicked season and long for spring.

I need sunshine!

I need park play dates!

I need daffodils!

And for the love of God, I need to throw away that acorn squash.

So I did.

As if I thought that would somehow keep the seasons moving along, I slam-dunked that sucker back to where it came from. Somehow in doing so, it gave me the motivation to try to surge some momentum out of hibernation.

The snow and ice and negative temperatures have remained since Acorn Squash Purge Day, but somewhere underneath I know there is a blade of green grass. March 1st is on the horizon and still seems like a (somewhat) safe time to start washing and storing scarves and long underwear. Although March can sometimes lash out in late-winter brutality, at least its arrival means the start of spring.

Spring. Less than four weeks away.

Even though I still feel somewhat trapped in the doldrums of my dormant self, the birds will eventually start chirping again, right? Spring temperatures will arrive and seem that much toastier having endured the wretched winter, right? I imagine that going through such an extreme seasonal shift must feel like being frozen in time, too. Although the ever-ellusive this time I will be at the height my jump on a big Trampoline basking in all the glory that comes with triumph over someone such as Jack Frost.

I’ll thaw to that thought.

I do not feel any waves of heat just yet, quite the contrary with no break in the weather forecasted, but at least when hubby arrives home from work it is, in a literal sense, still light outside. The days are getting longer, and I am gripping my frozen fingers around that ray of spring hope.

Until then, I am more than longing to escape outside and breathe fresh air without seeing a cloud of condensation escape from  my mouth due to the bitter cold air. I have a feeling that after filling my lungs with warm air, a magnificent exhale of gratitude for the renewal that comes with spring will exude energy. Just like our Creator intended. Here comes Peter Cottontail.

And then I bet, before I know it, life will roll right  along into summer like a beach ball floating effortlessly on water. My family and I will celebrate our one-year anniversary of living in our new home, and we’ll be all the wiser for what is to come as more seasons cycle ahead.

Indeed, the seasonal shifts render purpose: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

Now go read Ecclesiastes 3:1. After you finish, put Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds on repeat and have yourself a cup of cheer. Chirp, chirp.

Ever the (dormant) optimist I am always eager for what lies ahead. Preferably green meadows and sun glasses. Maybe next fall I’ll give that acorn squash recipe another try, but for now I am dreaming of other kinds of produce with seeds – strawberries would be nice. I speak not of the frozen kind.

Time Marches on.

Kids will be kids?

My day started off uneventful. I woke up with the kids and fed them oatmeal. Then we got  dressed and headed out the door.

My friend – let’s call her Shawanda – and I have an informal babysitting agreement. During the week either she will drop off her two girls at my house for a few hours, or I will drop off Lance and Vivian at her house for a few hours. It’s a great little exchange and way for each of us to pursue some individual interests on uninterrupted time. Plus, our kids love playing together.

Today was my day so I dropped off my kids at her house and went on my way. I decided to start my free time by running a few miles on the treadmill. Afterward, I dipped my head into some writing documents.

All was going according to plan. When I finished writing I grabbed a quick shower and was on my way back out the door to retrieve the kids.

That’s when things got a little dicey.

I noticed a missed call from Shawanda – let’s now call her Shawanda Dangerous – as I was heading for the car. Then a text came in that read, “Hey friend. Vivi locked herself on my bedroom… She’s fine! I just may need your muscle to he the door open”

What?! On my bedroom?! Your muscle to he the door open?!

But I got the point: My baby was locked up and Shawanda Dangerous was frazzled.

Mind you, Vivian is two years old.

Before I go any further, I must note that I adore Shawanda Dangerous. We are stay-at-home-Mom friends. We are each others sanity at times and have a lot in common both as Moms and as young women in our thirties.

But this here was a situation!

Since I was already headed for the car the only thing I could do was drive over there and try to pick the lock and break in through the window with her.

When I got there I tried to pick the lock with a paper clip… a bobby pin… then a Phillips head screw driver… then various keys… then a nail… but all to no avail. At first I didn’t even want Vivian to know I was there because she wasn’t upset and we could hear or see her happily playing through the door and window.

The other kids had dragged a bunch of toys in the bedroom before Vivian got caged, which was keeping her busy. We, umm, think the older kids might have had something to do with her current situation, but don’t have any concrete proof that they were the ones who locked the door before it got closed. Kids will be kids?

Somehow I remained calm as I went outside to try to pry the window that Shawanda Dangerous couldn’t get open. Even though one window was not locked, it is eight degrees here today and the window was probably frozen shut.

Once at the window, Vivian immediately saw me, and wandered over.

She said, “Hi Mommy. I need out,” in about as sweet of a voice as you can get. I smiled and told her I knew and that I would get her out. On the inside though, I worried that now she would really want to get out and become frustrated by the obvious barriers.

But I also knew if I remained calm that she would remain calm. It’s kind of like when you are on an airplane and they tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. In my mind, I knew if I didn’t calm my own nerves she would lose it and then I would lose it and be of no help to either of us.

I put on my oxygen mask.

But the window wouldn’t budge.

I went back inside, and I started singing songs and making up little games with her through the door. Truly, she was fine… but how in the hell were we going to get her out?! I felt a rush of panic wash over my insides, but I brushed it aside.

Shawanda Dangerous started calling Mr. Shawanda. I started calling Jan. Eventually Jan showed up on the scene, and I breathed a sigh of relief certain that he could get the window open or pick the lock.

Nope. The bedroom was impenetrable.

Finally Shawanda Dangerous couldn’t take it anymore. She took matters into her own hands and called a locksmith. At this point, I was playing Where is Thumpkin? underneath the door and jamming my fingers through the crack to sing to each other and then “run and hide.”

Vivian ate it up.

Then we served her Ritz crackers and cheese through the crack underneath the door. She ate that up, too.

This whole time, the other kids were still involved and had turned the situation into a game of “entertain and rescue Vivian.” Lance and the little Shawandas passed toys back and forth with her and talked to her.

Between Shawanda Dangerous and I, one of us could either see Vivian from the window, or see her toes and fingers under the door. We held onto that small piece of positivity for calmness, which helped to a point. To no avail, even though I was convinced I could talk Vivian through turning the lock, she wasn’t interested.

Shawanda Dangerous got nervous again and was frantically running around picking up toys to calm her nerves. I was blogging in my head and taking pictures to calm mine. (We all have our coping mechanisms, yes?)

Only a few times during the whole debacle did Vivian get even remotely peeved and increase the intensity of her, “I need out,” requests. We resorted to gummy bears. I discussed their colors with her, we counted them, passed them back and forth, and we made up stories. Yes, I thought to myself, let’s make this potentially hazardous situation educational!

Then I found a small toy dog and slid him under the door. We sang How much is that doggie in the window? more times than I’d ever like to sing again. Vivian did the “Arff Arff’s” with such gusto that I couldn’t help but admire her attitude. Locked up and alone, her participation through a closed-door was nothing less than stellar.

Eventually, I started to get a little weary waiting for the locksmith. Shawanda Dangerous offered to slide her cell phone, with Daniel Tiger cued up, under the door to Vivian, but I declined since Vivian wasn’t crying. It might be a good last resort if she gets upset, I thought to myself. Never eat all the cookies in the cookie jar right away I reasoned in my head.

By now the other children were parked in front of the TV since their interests in the situation eventually wained . Well, except for Lance who came over, but only to pester for gummy bears and not out of concern for his sister in the least.

We waited.

The kids, including Vivian’s, energy levels all lowered as nap time drew near. Then it was quiet in the bedroom. I kept trying to talk to Vivian, but I knew she wasn’t right at the door anymore. Shawanda Dangerous went out to the window to have a look-see and saw her near the nightstand laying half on the bed. Poor girl was probably ready for a nap!

Eventually the locksmith came, and one hour and 40 minutes later Vivian was rescued from the bedroom. One hour and 40 minutes and not one tear, ladies and gentleman.

Whew.

When the door finally opened, there was Vivian. Her cute, happy and tired looking little face appeared with a smile. There was a pile of random small toys on the floor, lot’s of crumbs, and the obvious smell of a diaper that needed changing, but we celebrated.

We cheered and we hugged.

The Mommies cracked a Friday afternoon beer and toasted to the adventures of Motherhood.  (And yes, I will still trust my friend with my kids again).

In fact, I think I’ll go back to calling her just Shawanda. Or maybe Shawanda Situation.

***

A few pictures to highlight the “situation” of the day…

Even the locksmith had to go through a few different set of tools and tricks to finally get the door to open. Ultimately, Shawanda Dangerous and Mr. Shawonda ended up with a new lock-less door knob.

Asshole door knob.

Asshole door knob.                                      Nice locksmith though!

Shawanda selecting beers post-rescue.

Shawanda selecting beers post-rescue.

The only mischief Vivian got into. Tissue anyone?

The only mischief Vivian got into.                 Tissue anyone?

And the trooper of the day award goes to…

What the heck took you so long?