Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Best. Friend. Ever!

The other day, I posted about my "bestest friend in the whole world" who sent me the wonderful Contigo travel mugs for Christmas.  I have known her for over 40 years (yes, since preschool!), and she truly is an amazing woman.  She has raised / is raising three wonderful boys, while running a successful bankruptcy law practice in South Carolina.  She is smart and beautiful and kind and really just the BEST friend.

Today, I want to tell you that, in addition to my "bestest friend in the whole world," I also have a "best friend ever," whom I have known for over 30 years (since middle school) and who, on a whim and because we haven't seen each other for like 6 years, invited me to come visit her in Birmingham, Alabama, to see the band "Little House" (the musicians are friends of ours) play.

We are planning the trip to coincide with Do Dah Day, which is a fun annual music festival in Birmingham that has been around for 34 years (click the link above to check it out - it's awesome! - and click here for more information about the origins / history of this quirky and fun local event).  It has the usual festival things -- music, food, art, kid activities, a parade (I love a parade!), and lots of fun.  Little House is playing at the festival. 

My best friend ever used to be heavily involved in organizing and promoting Do Dah Day.  I think she has reduced her involvement in it more recently, but still attends every year.  It is a great festival and raises money every year for deserving local charities that benefit homeless animals.

My friend even offered me free plane tickets (using frequent flier miles) and a bedroom in her house so that I would have no excuse to say "no"! 

But here's the clincher, for me: The trip offers the opportunity for me to see my friend's older child, who was a newborn the last time I was there, and to meet her younger child, whose photos I have seen on Facebook but have never met, and who is totally adorable.

Needless to say, it is an offer that cannot be refused!  So I am going to Alabama for Do Dah Day!  I can't wait!


And I have to confess that I have at least four other "best friends" who I totally love for various reasons, not all of them having to do with receiving awesome travel mugs or free plane tickets to Do Dah Day in Birmingham.

I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful friends.  :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

And The "Best Customer Service" Award Goes To....

...Wells Fargo Bank!

Friday afternoon, I was on my way to the bank.  I stopped at the intersection in the double-left-turn lane behind several other cars, waiting to turn left.

The light changed and the cars in the other left-turn lane got to go, but my lane did not move.  Ugh.  A broken down car was two cars ahead of me.  The turn arrow changed to red again.  Ugh.

Some people were waiting to cross the street.  They crossed to the middle of the intersection by the broken down car and began getting ready to push the broken down car through the intersection when the light changed.

And then I noticed who the people were: An elderly woman, who was getting into the car to steer it, and two younger gentlemen, probably mid-20's, wearing long-sleeve dress shirts, ties, and Wells Fargo name tags.

The Wells Fargo bank tellers had volunteered to help their customer move her car out of the busy intersection and into their parking lot.

I swear, this bank is soooo much nicer than Chase Bank!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Best. Gift. Ever!

A couple of years ago, I received from my very best friend what I thought (at the time) was sort of an odd Christmas gift: Two stainless steel travel mugs.  One blue, one green.  Here are photos of them:

 (As an aside, I have few technical skills and cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to get blogger to let me put these photos next to each other instead of way across the page or one on top of the other.  Ugh.)

They are nice-looking mugs - elegant, even - but I didn't understand why my best friend in the whole world would send travel mugs across the country for a Christmas gift.  It was nice of her to send them (and it's always nice to get a gift), but sort of an odd thing to bother mailing.  After all, travel mugs are a dime a dozen, right?

Then I used them and discovered how very wrong I was...

These mugs are A M A Z I N G!!!

They do NOT leak.  At all.  Ever.  You can hold them upside down, and not a drop escapes! 

You have to push the little button that you can see there, on the "front" of the mug in the photos, to get the valve to open so you can drink your beverage.  It's not difficult to push, but is firm enough that it doesn't accidentally open.

I can put these mugs sideways in my purse, filled with coffee, and not even worry that they will leak, so long as I put the button on the "up" side and don't put anything on top of it!!  Even then, it would have to be something hard and heavy to make the button move and open the valve.  Really, I hardly even worry about it.  I just toss them in and carry them around, filled with coffee.

They keep your beverage hot, or cold, as the case may be, for HOURS.

Once, in the summer (here in Arizona, it is often 110 to 118 degrees on a July or August summer day, and gets way hotter than that inside a locked car), I forgot my mug filled with iced coffee (with a bit of cream) in the car while I went inside a store and shopped for two hours.

If I had used any other mug that day, I would have returned to the car to find hot coffee with curdled cream, disgusting and undrinkable.  Not with these mugs!  I returned and, although the ice had mostly (not completely!!) melted, the coffee was still very cold and very drinkable.  Refreshing, even, on such a hot day.

When I put hot coffee in them, it stays hot for HOURS.  I have to make sure it is a drinkable temperature before sealing it up because otherwise it will be too hot to drink for a very long time.

I LOVE these mugs.

Now you can see why she is my bestest friend in the whole world.  She knows me better than I know myself!  She knew EXACTLY what I wanted for Christmas, even when I did not know I wanted it!

If you like to carry beverages with you in the car, you should go directly to the Contigo web site (click here) and buy one (or more) of these mugs.

Sadly, my green Contigo mug met an untimely death a couple of days ago.  It was destroyed by a softball while the pitcher and catcher were warming up before my daughter's softball game the other day.  The ball smashed right into the mug and broke the lid apart.  The stainless steel portion was unharmed, but the lid was FUBAR (as we used to say in the bus business...  F--d Up Beyond All Repair).  So I will have to buy a new one.  Just trying to decide whether to stick with the lovely green I had before, or try a new color, like red or silver.

Please note:  This is absolutely not a paid promotion.  Contigo probably doesn't even know I exist.  I just totally love these mugs and I know you will, too.  My motive?  I want to keep the Contigo company in business and producing these exact mugs so that when I need new ones I will be able to buy them.  They seem to last pretty much forever, absent tragic accidents like the one my green one encountered, so I am a little afraid that they will go out of business because they won't get enough repeat customers.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Nothing Bad Happened

Lenore Skenazy, over at, asked her readers to post in the comments on her blog about a time that nothing bad happened when they let their kids do something that others might have considered dangerous.  I wrote sort of a long story there in her comment section (although I confess I forgot to start with her suggested opener, "nothing bad happened when...").  I thought I might as well post it here, too.  If you'd like to read other stories about kids doing dangerous things that worked out ok, check out Lenore's blog post and comments here.  The upshot is, most kids are capable of a lot more than we give them credit for!  We should start giving them credit for being able to handle more things!

Here is my story about when nothing bad happened:


I am (or at least, I was) apparently the world's worst babysitter.

Before I had kids, when I was in my late 20's, I babysat for a friend who had two kids, a boy, age 4, and a girl, age 8.

I had babysat lots when I was a teen, for a few hours at a time, and never had any problems at all, and I had been around plenty of my friends' and relatives' kids since that time, so I felt well-qualified.

My friend asked me to keep her kids at her house for a weekend, from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.

I showed up Friday evening and brought the kids Happy Meals.  First mistake -- I thought I should get a "boy toy" for the boy and a "girl toy" for the girl, or at least two different toys so that they would, together, have more cool toys to play with.  Turns out I was supposed to get two identical toys so no one would have to be jealous that the other kid got a "better" toy.

Despite this "disastrous" start, the parents left me in charge anyway and took off for their destination, reminding me not to feed the kids too much junk food, and telling me to "have fun."

Saturday morning, the boy had a pee-wee league tee-ball game at a local park / recreation center, so I took the kids to it.  The little boy had to go to the bathroom, so I walked him to the restrooms.  He assured me he could handle the bathroom by himself, so I waited outside the men's room door while he went in.  No one else was around.  After a while, I heard the toilet flush and then the sink running, then heard "scuffling" on the other side of the door.  I pushed it gently to help the little guy open it, and he came out, smiling / happy.

Saturday afternoon, I put the little guy's booster seat in my car and took the kids to the zoo, bringing healthy snacks in the form of carrots, grapes, and mixed nuts.  The kids loved the snacks and had a great time at the zoo.

Sunday afternoon, the kids asked if we could ride bikes to the neighborhood park near their house.  I asked if they knew how to get there and they said yes.  We set out with me walking, the girl riding her "big kid bike," and the boy riding his bike with training wheels.  The girl would ride ahead and then wait for us at each stop sign.  Sure enough, she knew the way perfectly.  They wanted me to go get the car and drive them home, but I refused to leave them alone at the park in order to walk home and get the car, and so I made them ride their bikes the whole way back home.  They complained that they were tired, but we made it.  It was probably half a mile each way.  The kids were pretty tired after that, and sat and drank water and watched TV while I fixed them some dinner.  But they were happy and said they wanted me to come visit them again some time.

When the parents returned that evening, I found out I had subjected both kids, but especially the four-year-old, to many incredible and unacceptable dangers:

*  pedophiles in the bathroom! ("he's NEVER been to the bathroom by himself before!!  What if someone else had been in there?!?  What if he got stuck in the stall?!?");

*  potential choking hazards! ("admittedly somewhat unlikely but you could have at least cut the grapes in half!");

*  potential deathly allergic reaction to peanuts! ("the kids have never had nuts before!!")  [as an aside, you'd think the parents might have warned me if they were worried about that one!];

* risk of getting impossibly and irreparably lost!  ("How did you even find the park?  How were you sure you'd know the way home?!?")  [As if their 8 year old were completely incompetent to find her way home, and as if there were no other persons in the entire neighborhood to ask, if we did get lost...]

*  risk of heat stroke or heat exhaustion! ("But it's so far to the park!  They rode the WHOLE WAY there AND BACK?!?");

*  risk of dying by being run over by a car!  ("you had to cross three streets to get to the park!!") [note:  they were neighborhood streets, with one lane in each direction...].

Geez, I thought the kids and I had enjoyed a great fun weekend, one that would be the envy of any kid anywhere, but it turns out that, in fact, I am a horrible child endangerer!

They never asked me to babysit again...


Have you ever subjected your kids, or someone else's kids, to an activity or situation that others judged you a "bad parent" for?