I spend a lot of time at the post office. Between my CPA practice and my Rodan + Fields business, I have a lot of packages going out. I normally go directly to the self-serve kiosk. The lines inside are usually rather long and the postal workers are usually rather crabby. I often wonder if there is some secret torture chamber in the back room that makes the staff behave as if they are being held hostage. I mean I get that they have to deal with a bunch of geniuses that can’t fill out the proper paperwork or tape a box shut, but they are governmental employees which means their benefits should be enough to keep a smile on their faces for the half days they work.
Last week I had a stack of letters that appeared to be about the same size but varied in content. Some were a few pages while others were a dozen pages. When I walked into the post office I bypassed the kiosk and headed straight inside. I wasn’t about to weigh and post forty envelopes by myself, especially when you have to answer about 100 questions and pay after each transaction. Twenty minutes later when I finally was called on by a cashier, I walked up to the counter and set down my stack of envelopes. The cashier looked at me and said “you want me to run ALL of these through the machine?” with annoyance. I stared back at him with a smirk thinking to myself “well isn’t that kind of your job?” I mean this man was sitting behind the desk at the post office and was annoyed with me that I brought him letters to mail out. He ended up weighing about half of them and said they would all only require one stamp. As he was rifling through books of stamps ready to hand me a bunch to affix myself, I told him I had stamps at home and took my letters back.
At the bottom of my pile was an envelope I had received that was addressed to someone who lived in our house prior to us buying it over seven years ago. We have been receiving mail for about ten individuals over the last seven years and every envelope we receive I send back to the post office. I had written on the front of this letter “return”. He took it from me as if I were handing him a coconut with confusion on his face. I stated that the person it was addressed to did not live at our address to which he responded again with a blank stare. I said “Don’t worry, you don’t have to run it through the machine” as I left.
Today I got the the letter back in the mail – the one I wrote “return” on. So I wrote “return to sender” to make it a little clearer and put it back in the mailbox. Maybe the destination designation of “sender” will help accomplish the task. As long as nobody has to run it through the machine!
We took a little trip with my parents this weekend. My mom decided it would be fun for Riley to have an adventure every month, so we started out the year with a quick trip to Splash Village. It’s only about an hour away, so we can all pile into the car and get there quickly. My family is all about adventure, but the less time we have to spend getting there is always good. My daughter asks “how much longer until we are there?” within 5 minutes of us being in the car and when we haven’t even made it to the airport yet that question can make for a long trip. I have told her often how much I loved family trips as a kid and how being in the car with my parents was half of the fun, but she isn’t buying it. She was born into a world of instant gratification, where everything she wants to do or see is at her fingertips, so she wants everything right now. I’m trying not to take it personally, because honestly, I think my husband and I are just lovely to travel with.
I love that my parents are always ready to do anything with her. They are the kind of grandparents that loved being parents, even when it wasn’t easy, so I think part of their joy comes from watching me try to share the same kind of childhood with my daughter that I had. It let’s them know that they did a pretty good job raising me. Even better is that I married a man who likes to have them around as much as I do. The five of us have a lot of fun together.
We had never been to this hotel/water park before and really didn’t know what to expect. I loved the fairy decor from the stained glass windows in the front to the fairy paintings above the beds in the room. Even the water park had flowers and toad stools around the lazy river. My mom got to take her place in a good lounge chair and read a book while we all ran around like little kids going down water slides and getting buckets of water dumped on our heads. She often comments that she watches two kids in the afternoon, my daughter and my dad, but on vacation it’s more like four kids. She always says she wanted to have a big family and it didn’t work out that way, but it kind of did.
As a family, we have been to a lot of water parks because that’s what the littlest one wants to do. We have gone down slides into a shark tank, tubes in the dark and ones that gave us wedgies. We love them all. This park had a slide none of us would touch. It required you to stand at the top in a box and the floor dropped out from under you and dropped you down a shoot. This slide did not mess around. We watched a handful of people get on as we stood in line for the giant family tube we were waiting for and my daughter looked fascinated by it for a little bit but ran back to us after seeing the faces of the people dropping down. I give her three years before she’ll be begging me to do it with her. I think just watching the other people was giving her anxiety though. She is usually pretty excited as we stand in line and all of a sudden she was getting really scared and clinging to me like a scared cat. I’m pretty sure I still have some claw marks in my neck. By the time we were ready to climb on the raft I had to shake her off me into her seat.
The guy putting us on the raft must have been able to read our personality types by looking at us because my dad and I were facing backward and my husband and daughter were facing forward mostly on the way down. My dad and I are more the type to leap without looking and be surprised by what we get whereas my daughter and husband want to see every little bit. It was about the perfect ride for all of us. The next few times we went on were not so great for my husband who ended up backwards and motion sick by the bottom of the ride. He ended up having to sit down for 15 minutes while my dad and I went back up again with the little and down a few other slides in between. The kid can really wear you out if you aren’t careful. We ended up getting dinner, taking a second trip to the water park and blowing a weeks pay at the arcade before the night was over.
Of course when bedtime rolled around we all had a sugar buzz from the ice cream we just had to have before bed so nobody could sleep and we all played musical beds since Riley wants to make sure everyone gets their fair share of getting kicked in the head and kneed in the back while sleeping. We of course woke up to a foot of snow on the ground and all prayed for our life on the extended tip home. That’s pretty much par for the course when we travel. It takes about twice as long to get home just so we can hear the question “are we there yet?” twice as many times. Now we just need to wait for whatever adventure my mom plans for us in February. I’m sure whatever it is will have me ready to spend a few hours in the gym upon returning home and ready for a nap.
I love family parties. It gives me a chance to catch up with my cousins who I don’t see nearly enough and the aunt and uncle on my dad’d side of the family who provide me with a lot of information about my dad and what he was like as a kid. I hear about how their dad paid them for their report cards and how he got them to do all of the work around the house without ever having to lift a finger. My grandfather on my dad’s side was not a very good dad. It sometimes amazes me that his three sons all turned out to be really good dads and even better grandfathers.
I listened to my dad and aunt talk about their childhood Christmases and how they acquired the tree for the season. From what I gathered they went to the lot and picked out the tree they liked and the teenage sons were sent back at night to get the tree free of charge. This explains a lot about why my dad was really disappointed in me when I shoplifted as a kid. He raised me to work for your money and go buy the things you need. Stealing is wrong. I think his dad had a different theory about how to obtain the things in life you want or think you might need. They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but I think my dad must have hit a limb on the way down and got thrown far away from that old apple tree.
My aunt stayed with my parents the night of the party. She was on her way to Florida and in town for a day or two so she slept in my parents’ spare room. My daughter and I went over to visit with her before she left since we don’t see her very often and she told me a story about how she obtained a bike the prior spring to peddle around town. She apparently found a bike that was in front of someone’s house, close to the curb, not chained to anything and in very good condition. It was a boys bike so it wasn’t ideal for her, but it was good enough to ride around town on. She jumped on the bike and rode off. She said obviously they were throwing it away if it was outside, unlocked and unattended. She also said she didn’t ride down that street all summer just in case the person wasn’t actually throwing away the bike that was somewhere between the house and the curb that night she walked by. She rode the bike all summer and when she was done she went and put it back by the house. In the end I guess she borrowed a bike for a few months without the owner’s consent or permission. She laughed when she told the story the same way she laughed about how the boys in the family got the Christmas tree.
Maybe the female apples stay close to the tree and the males roll as far away as they can. I don’t know, but I’m really grateful for that branch that shot my dad so far away from the tree that he didn’t even know he was an apple anymore.
I am a firm believer in the idea that you do good things and you are rewarded. Today I was running errands with my mom. We are both members of a women’s organization that does volunteer work in our community. One of the projects we are working on requires us to set up artificial Christmas trees in public areas with a sign attached asking people to “decorate” them with hats and scarves and socks for people in need. We collect all of the donations over the holiday months and distribute them to different homeless shelters, group homes and warming centers. Today was the day we went to dismantle the trees and store them away until next year. While we were picking up the trees and all of the “decorations” I parked next to a minivan that appeared to be more of a home than a vehicle.
I probably wouldn’t have noticed all of the unusual things on this vehicle if I didn’t have to keep walking past it, but loading the charity trees and loot into my SUV afforded me the opportunity to walk by the minivan beside me several times. Each time I passed it I noticed something new. The first thing that caught my eye was the steering wheel lock. It was a giant bar across the wheel that was popular in the 80s. My eye was drawn from there to the sunflower emblazoned dishtowels draped over the seats and the gold lace table runners covering the seats. I went about my business wondering if the Sunflower King & Queen owned this vehicle. When I came back to my vehicle from the building on my first trip I noticed the soup can that was covering the exhaust pipe of the minivan. Yes, a soup can was placed over the exhaust pipe. All I could think about was how long it took this driver to put all of this crap on his car once he parked it. Between the steering wheel bar and the soup can he had to have spent ten minutes arming his car to fend off the alien invaders.
It wasn’t until I passed the vehicle the third time that I noticed the aluminum foil encased windshield wipers. I’m guessing these are not very effective against rain but might deflect the bolts of lightning coming from the space invaders chasing this guy. As I walked around the van I also noticed that it was being held together in many parts with duct tape. It was grey so it matched the paint. Foot long pieces of duct tape covered rust spots around the wheels and on the side of the van. It had several dents on the driver’s side. I’m not sure if they were from crazy pants running into things or if it was the aliens using a battering ram to break in and get their hands on the 250 count package of napkins on the passenger seat. Either way, the grey duct tape was surely going to cover up the damage.
The cross magnets on the outside of the car and the stickers all over the dashboard had me wondering if the owner was a priest, but the spoon and opera program sitting on the passenger seat made me think maybe this person was a single guy looking for his partner. He had a lot of rubber bands and duct tape so I’m not so sure about his approach. I don’t know if the Sunflower King lives in the building or if he was just visiting, but it made my day to see this vehicle. I took a few pictures before jumping back in the car with my mom. I didn’t want either of us ending up in that passenger seat.
I took my dad out shopping for my mom’s Christmas gift the other day. A few strange things happened while we were shopping. First, my dad paid with a credit card which he never does. He pays for everything with cash. It doesn’t matter what he is buying, it could be a candy bar or a diamond ring and he would pay with cash. He uses plastic so infrequently that when he does use it he usually ends up leaving the card in the machine. My husband and I were both standing there with him as he pulled out a wad of cash with the small blue card in between. He hesitated for a second as my husband and I stood with our jaws on the floor. I watched him calculating the number of days until Christmas and determining if he would be able to get to the bank where the nice ladies supplied him with crisp hundred dollar bills, before he finally handed the card over to the cashier who was looking a little confused as to what all the fuss was about. He didn’t know that this event was similar to watching a gorilla use tools for the first time.
As we completed our purchase the salesman shook hands with me and my husband and grabbed my dad in a big bear hug. Maybe he did understand what a monumental event this was after all. Or maybe he realized that he was in fact meeting santa claus. Or maybe he was just so relieved that this transaction was finally complete that he had to hold onto someone for a second. We went on our merry way to complete our shopping, as my dad tucked the little piece of plastic into a different pocket, making sure it didn’t make an appearance again.
Normally it takes about a half day to buy my mom’s gifts with my dad, but this day was different. We were finished with our shopping in record time. I’m not sure if it was the trauma my dad incurred from pulling out that little blue card or if he was excited to pick up his granddaughter from school, but we were out of the mall parking lot quicker than the old folks leaving church on their way to brunch so we decided to drop my husband off at home before picking my daughter up from school. This is where the other strange thing occurred.
We pulled into the driveway to drop off my husband and I jumped out of the car to go refill my glass of water. While I was in the house the UPS man pulled up with a package. Instead of leaving it at the door he walked up and tapped on the window of the car where my dad was sitting and gave it to him. When I returned from the house I found my dad sitting in the car with the package. I promptly opened the box to find a gift for my husband and a little sample of lotion inside. I ran back into the garage to throw the box in the recycling bin as I handed the little packet to my dad and told him to rub it on his face. My Dad has been suffering from terrible dry skin over the past several weeks. Both my mom and I have been slathering his face with lotion every chance we get. As he rubbed the lotion from the little sample packet into his skin he said to me “I don’t know what the dry skin is from, I’ve been getting it ever since I had the syphilis.” I’m glad we were parked or I would have crashed my car. I think what he meant to say was diverticulitis. He spent two separate weekends in the hospital last August with a kidney stone and diverticulitis. Or maybe he thought he had psoriasis. Either way, the word he was looking for was definitely not syphilis.
Even after a twenty minute interrogation I was unable to determine what he thinks his condition is and where he got it. My mom thinks it’s from getting in the hot tub late at night and the steam getting all over his face. I’ll have to remember to make sure their hot tub isn’t infested with hookers like in that Rodney Dangerfield movie where he goes back to college with his son. That could explain why my dad thinks his dry skin is caused by a venereal disease. I’m glad we were parked in line to pick up my daughter when he turned and said “well if it’s syphilis, your mom must have given it to me. She’s always talking about her back-up plan guys on TV when I die.”