Day 8, Summer 2017 Down But Not Out

I am squarely blaming the ants. Combatting their shenanigans had weakened my reserves and left me susceptible to a bug of another kind.

Mom was down for the count.

One minute I was driving in my car and totally fine and the next, I wanted my mommy and a mountain of blankets. You know how sometimes it happens that fast?

It happened that fast.

Unfortunately, my schedule was not conducive to a recovery stint on the couch. There were drop-offs and pick-ups looming, so I penciled in a whole lot of sucking it up to the agenda.

Blessedly by 3pm, I made it to the couch for good. I caught a break when my eldest was able to swing by and get his brother on his way home from work. I didn’t even have to try to sound pathetic when I asked, I was already there.

With three boys, I live in fear of being sick. I want to be pampered and have someone watch Hallmark movies with me in between naps. Yeah, not so much.

Everyone just stared at me like I was a needy alien who landed on their couch. I thought about going upstairs to bed, but I knew from experience that with three teenagers it is best to have a visual at all times.

When I was lucid, I heard the word “dinner” tossed around several times but no one moved. My husband had arrived and seemed perturbed at this turn of events. He knows if I am horizontal when he gets home, I am either pregnant or in dire straits. At that point he probably would’ve preferred me with child because it is not—as far as we know, anyway—contagious.

I moaned a little for effect and nothing.

I announced my temperature as a respectable 101.2 and still nothing.

The final dagger? Even the dog looked unfazed.

I couldn’t keep anything down but small sips of water and my fever kept climbing but ESPN was more riveting than the medical drama playing out in my family room. The boys just wrestled like any other night, messed with the dog endlessly and shouted at one another.

Had they always been this loud? Why is everyone so loud?

Surprisingly, as my time on the couch increased, people began to take notice. My eldest went up to get my pillow from my bed. My middle son brought me a cold bottle of water and my youngest actually read his book—the greatest gift in that moment for sure.

And the dog finally snuggled against me, as he should. I reveled in the attention I so richly deserved.

But it was short lived. As I dozed on and off for the rest of the evening, the boys went to a friend’s house, the dog got walked and my husband cooked dinner.

In essence, everyone survived.

Sadly, even the fever could not disguise the fact that the place looked like we needed a hoarding intervention. But if we are being honest, it sort of looked like that before I was stricken. The return to college and football two-a-days had taken a toll on every room in my house. There were either clothes airing out, packages or duffel bags ready for departure on nearly every surface.

It was way easier to just shut my eyes on the way to the bathroom at least for the time being. I managed to unearth the remote while shuffling to and fro, so at least I was free of listening to the same 5 stories over and over on Sports Center.

I was feeling very neglected when the boys rolled in about 10:30pm. My husband had checked on me one last time before going to bed earlier. When he said get rest, he meant it. He wanted his comrade back because being alone in the trenches is scary.

The boys kicked off shoes, got snacks and ignored the lump on the couch formerly known as their mother. I had raised a bunch of heathens. They trudged upstairs and left me feeling very sorry for myself. Sniff.

Then, my middle son paused on the stairs and returned to get his charger which was plugged into the wall behind my sick bed. As he bent down to retrieve it, he leaned in and kissed my forehead. Just like I did when the kids were sick.

“You feel better mom, ok? We don’t like you on the couch.”

And that’s when I realized they weren’t being unsympathetic; they were just out of their element. So, when I was at my most susceptible they reverted to what I had taught them.

They had acted on the basic principle that if someone is down, you take a moment and be kind. After all, unbeknownst to you, it just might help bolster their reserves.

It certainly did for me.

Day 7: Random Car Thoughts

I, like many mothers I know, spend a large portion of every day in my car. I often wonder what my big, old Yukon would say if it could talk. We spend a lot of time together, so it knows me pretty well. As I was waiting for smelly people to get in the car today after a muddy football practice, I thought for sure I could read my car’s mind.

Thus this list was born…

–I think my car would agree that the music selection is better when I am in the car alone. Once my kids start playing DJ and syncing their play lists, the tone changes significantly. And I don’t feel hip or cool, I just feel old.

–I am sure my car would tell me that I should really get to know all those buttons and gadgets. It must be very frustrating to watch me fumble around trying to figure out the electronics and knobs. My car and husband have this frustration in common.

–My poor car would beg me to wash it more and buy one of those Christmas trees for God’s sake. Sports pick-ups and dusty fields take their toll on the old girl (the car, not me)

–I bet it does not go unnoticed that sometimes I drive in the car in complete silence. No companion, no phone and no radio–just to find some peace. And other times, I bang the steering wheel and scream because I am finally alone to vent my frustration where my kids can’t hear me.

–I think my car is proud of me for not exhibiting crazy, road rage but would advise me to use my horn more. I mean, it is there for a reason and my poor car doesn’t want to be a pushover. The giant Baby Huey of the highway.

–My car rejoices that I do not let the kids practice driving in this vehicle. The truth is, it is too large and the back-up camera and warning lights would have to be covered up for the test anyway. I am sure my poor Yukon fears for its life if the kids drive her.

–I know my car is pissed that everyone door dings us in parking lots. She wishes for super powers like the car in the movie “Christine” to chase offenders through the parking lot and invoke terror. Or maybe I could just park better (see paragraph 3 above) using the tools it gives me.

–My car wonders why no one watches movies on the built-in DVD player any more. I think she too misses those days when the kids would ponder their selection for hours and giggle from the backseat. Now everyone is in their own world with headphones on that continually need to be turned down.

–Mostly, I think my car gets that I am thankful that I can rely on it to keep us safe. Of course, that’s because most of the safety features are built-in and require no activation from me. Otherwise, we would be sunk. It is content to provide a ton of steel between my family and danger.

And that makes me more grateful than words can say.

Day 6: ANTagonized

This is the text I got Saturday while on a date with my husband…

“There are ants all over the counter. I got rid of them though with vinegar.”

While I applauded the effort, I was skeptical that the ants had been eviscerated. This was not our first pest rodeo. Despite the fact that we pay someone a decent sum of money to spray our house year-round because the ant problem in our neighborhood is widely known.

When I got home about an hour later, there were no ants that I could see. My middle son was as good as his word and I went to bed never giving it another thought.

Which just proves once and for all that alcohol numbs your senses. Seriously, who was I kidding?

I woke up Sunday morning to 10,000 ants who had taken up permanent residence and were focused on one tiny spot of whatever on my counter top. I then had the pleasure of spending the entire morning with my new house guests. We used soap and vinegar to wipe everything down killing legions of ants and taking their pheromone trail with it. I poured baking soda in the crack they were using for access and all along the door jamb.

None of this deterred them, the baking soda just made it easier to follow their black bodies as they wreaked havoc all over my kitchen. I laid on my couch, exhausted, convinced I was going to begin to cure from all the vinegar on my body.

As I smacked at imaginary ants crawling on me, I realized how much my kids can learn from the ant world. Yeah, yeah, I know there is an entire song dedicated to ants, Rubber trees and high hopes but it is more than that.

For instance, these ants are the perfect example of perseverance. When we blocked one route, they found another. They did not give up and say it was too hard (whatever that sounds like in ant language), they kept going. I saw the smallest baby ant out there getting it done alone and not whining about all the other baby ants that didn’t have to work as hard as he did.

However, the ant life highlights the ways being a follower can get you in serious trouble. Blindly following the trail of the guy in front of you is not always smart. In this case, these fellows got poisoned by all feasting off the ant trap (thank you Raid) and smothered by vinegar and soap. If they had veered left instead of right and struck out alone, they would’ve been harder to find and they would’ve gotten their own crumbs making them the top of the ant pyramid.

Speaking of crumbs, ants are happiest with the tiniest of crumbs. They don’t snub their nose at anything or complain that it is not new or big or fancy. I bet there is a sign in the ant farm that says, “You get what you get and don’t get upset” and everyone just complies.

Ants are sharers. They take all their precious nuggets back to the ant hill for the good of the group. There is no “mine” in this society, it is understood that you are working for everyone’s benefit.

The poor ants are a reminder that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. If it seems like a stroke of luck that this white, climby thing with tasty stuff inside was left right here in my path, it is not. It is a trap, plain and simple.

And finally, take a big lesson from the ant world where the Queen lives ten times longer than the worker ants. Do not mess with your mama, she makes it all happen here in our little colony and she knows where all the good crumbs are hidden.

Day 5: To Sweden with Love

To the outside world, Sweden is the coolest place on earth. Of course, I am basing this assessment simply on my new IKEA catalog and the singing group ABBA, but they both present pretty compelling cases.

My new shiny book is filled with horrible names for beautiful things that I just know would make me a better person. The accompanying prose confirms that. The IKEA copywriters encourage me to dream, let my children explore and see the possibilities that an IKEA inspired home provides.

I envision the residents of Sweden, blonde and free wheeling, actually living the philosophies IKEA promotes. And who also raise children that actually put their things away in colorful cubbies (EKET, inside cover photo) and dine on primary colored plates and cups piled neatly in the sleek ALMAREN sink.

I bought IKEA kid’s dinnerware 12 years ago and I swear my kids still eat better when they grab an IKEA plate. If I had been really on the ball, I would’ve bought the SUNDVIK bed so they all learned to sleep through the night. But that was years ago before I realized the scope of IKEA’s magic.

I picture the members of ABBA lounging on a KLIPPEN loveseat and sipping Lingonberry drinks while composing the lyrics to Dancing Queen. Nestled under their SKOGSLAM comforter at night, did they dream that a beloved musical would be created with their songs as a backdrop? Even the band members names sound like an IKEA product line.

I mean, Sweden knew what we needed before we did.

The founder of IKEA knew Americans secretly longed to simplify our lives with minimalist lines and affordable pricing. He was a vanguard back in the 1920’s when the yellow and blue superstore was just a glimmer in his eye.

ABBA knew we needed a disco anthem that would still make us scream decades later. Even if they looked like four of your parents’ friends got together to form a band and we didn’t understand most of the words.

IKEA provides a completely practical product while ABBA targeted our more frivolous side. Yet, somehow, they each hit on a uniquely Swedish formula for enduring success.

Maybe my new mantra should be “WWSD” (What Would a Swede Do?) with dance music and furniture as my guiding force.

There have been worse life-plans, amiright?.

For instance, I just know a MICKE desk and MOLTE chair could motivate me to write more productively. Think of what I could accomplish if I stopped sitting on the couch with my computer next to me while watching reality television.

I’m pretty sure there is no “Real Housewives of Stockholm.” But if that show did exist, just imagine those mansions all chock full of BILLY bookcases…

Alas, Sweden is not on the top of my travel bucket list, which is probably a good thing. Because I know I would need a sturdy SALVIKEN hand towel to dry my tears of disappointment as it could never live up to my expectations.

Day 4: Now We’re Cooking

With college departure T-one week, I am creating a cook book for my oldest to take with him. I am still not 100% sure he will actually follow through and cook two meals a day in his apartment. But, if he gives up midway through the first semester, I’ll be damned if the reason will be lack of preparation on my part.

He will have recipes with a list of brands for ingredients and the total cost for each one if cooked to specifications. The idea is for him to stay organized and within budget which is a notion I should really look into for myself.

This emphasis on cooking got me thinking about how unrealistic the cooking shows on television are. My middle son loves them and can be found watching Top Chef, Carnival Eats or Guy’s Grocery Games. All very entertaining for sure, but not really a ton of help to the average mom on the daily,

Here are my Top 5 shows that should be in development on the Cooking Channel

1. Vacation Vittles
Premise: How to make something edible out of the 5 non-perishable items left in the fridge the night before vacation. Well, it’s really 6 items if you include the Baking Soda placed on the shelf in hopes of disguising the odor of the stuff that actually perished.

2. Culinary Car Pool
Premise: The meat is completely thawed but now dinner has to be eaten in the car on the way to practice because time for making that awesome pre-planned meal evaporated while you looked for someone’s left cleat/jersey/lucky socks.

3. Fickle Fixins’
Premise: The meal everyone loved last week is now poison and just the sight of it burns at least one child’s eyes. On the season finale, all children will protest and make gagging sounds in unison. The meal must be stripped of all offending ingredients but still feed the entire family including the people that liked it the way it was.

4. One Hit Wonders
Premise: There is only one vegetable that all your children will eat. All recipes must include this one vegetable or your offspring will get no greens whatsoever in their diet and get scurvy or rickets or whatever disease comes from this lack of vital nutrients forcing your pediatrician to bring it to the attention of Child Protective Services.

5. Chaotic Cooking:
Premise: Host of show must cook using multi-step recipes while breaking up fights, trying not to step on the dog, pulling people snacking away from the pantry, answering multi-step algebra problems and texting with husband.

As I send him off to school armed and ready, I’m not sure his culinary expectations are any more realistic than what we see on the Cooking Channel every day. But much like the shows we watch, it will be entertaining to see him learn.

Day 3, 2017 Parental Rewind

I basically make a living talking about motherhood and all the trials and tribulations that come with it. I think we would all admit—it ain’t easy. In retrospect, I have no idea how my mother did it! Modern day parents can take advantage of a lot of handy gadgets unavailable to the generation before us.

Now, don’t start jumping all over me, I know it is a natural evolution. I get that my mother had the edge over, say, Ma Ingalls out there on the prairie but sometimes a look back in time can be very grounding. (Cue wavy dream sequence)

For instance, there were no gift cards back in the day so my mom had to budget time and money for real, live presents for every occasion. The thought of not being able to run out and pick up a generic gift card on the fly and shove it in a card gives me the hives. Oh and did I mention my mom paid cash or wrote a check for each purchase? I’m thinking you had to tack on 15 minutes to any shopping excursion because everyone in front of you was paying by check and the cashier had to write down each digit of your driver’s license number and add your phone number to the front.

And let us not forget that there was no texting us from the kitchen when our bedroom doors were closed. Oh sure, pretend you don’t text your kids in your own home. I am totally copping to it in order to give mad props to my mom who had to wander all over the house in order to get her point across. Without emoji’s I might add.

I also have no recollection of my mother ever getting a trinket for my teacher on the first day of school, the last day of school or for any holiday whatsoever. I think parents back then believed that reclaiming their children for the summer was gift enough to last 3 months. Yes, summer was literally 3 months when I was a kid.

Three glorious months with no summer homework except the pinky promise to read a book or two. So, my mom had no summer packet, cell phones, iPads or video games to lord over us when the bickering reached a fever pitch. I had to simply live in fear of disappointing my parents and possibly losing privileges for my transistor radio that had static most of the time anyway.

Soap Operas were big when I was a kid. I think they were the precursor to the Housewives franchise with the bonus of being on every afternoon. My mom actually had time to watch them when we got home from school and she did, because there was nothing juicy on at night. If she wanted to settle in with a Marlboro Light in the evening, she was stuck watching Happy Days with us. At least until JR and “Dallas” debuted. But I was in high school by then and spent all my time with the phone cord of the land line stretched under my locked bedroom door.

If my mom wanted to snoop on me, it was work. There were no apps to help her track me or record whom I was speaking to or hanging with at any given time. My diary held the key to all my secrets but it was not on our iCloud or anything. So, first she had to find it and then suffer through a ton of boring prose in hopes of finding one nugget. I am sure my super-secret passcode—“Keep Out” in big loopy letters on the front was a HUGE deterrent.

However, despite all our advances, the one thing we don’t have now is patience. Parents back then had a mother lode. I mean, yes, my mom lost it on us occasionally but generally, there was not this concept of immediate gratification.

You had to wait days for pictures to be developed, keep calling until you didn’t get a busy signal, sing songs in the car when there was no radio reception, read a map and mark your route and read the whole newspaper if you wanted to know what was going on.

And that, my friends, is a distinct advantage our parents had over today’s parents. After all, the idea that anything with worth is worth waiting for is a principle that should stand the test of time.

Day 2, 2017: Happy Place


Remember Pharrell’s smash hit “Happy?” Did you find yourself unconsciously humming it today? Well, you would’ve been justified because today, August 8th, is National Happiness Happens Day.

Say what?

Fascinated by the concept that there was a day devoted to making happy happen across the world, (ok maybe just the US, but still) I did a little research.

And I was glad to do it. (see what I did there?)

Turns out the Secret Society of Happy People (SOHP), founded in 1998 is responsible for this optimistic turn of events. The founder of SOHP woke up one day and wondered where all the happy people were. I don’t think she looked very hard. I mean, there are lots of happy people hanging around in bars. Oh and weddings—lots of elation there.

Apparently, people are completely paranoid about being happy. There is widespread fear that others will not embrace good news or generally upbeat behavior and will, instead, try to stomp all over your happy dance.

Is there happy shaming that I am totally oblivious to? Why, yes there is. A recent article on Huffington Post gave readers concrete steps to stop being resentful of other’s good fortune.

It’s a crazy world, people, when happiness is under attack. Just think, we would not have the fascinating world of Emojis without the smiley face kicking it all off, amiright?

Further reading informed me that there are 31 kinds of happiness– kind of like Baskin Robbins. They range from Contentment to Spirituality to Peaceful with every positive emotion in between. The premise of this group is to bring happy people together and let them embrace and support one another’s bliss.

After reading a few of the founder’s blogs, I have to admit they are inspirational. My personal favorite, “Is it too Hot to be Happy?” is pretty up front about the fact that sweating to death in the summer sucks. BUT it rounds out the prose with several things to be grateful for despite the heat. There was no post about how to find joy with three bickering, bored teenagers who wrestle for control of the remote all summer but I’m sure she will get right on that.

This happiness gig is a balance, I think. If someone is happy all the time, they probably need a drug screening. The key is to be more happy than not.

It’s cool if you didn’t get your happy on today; the entire month of August is Happiness Happens Month—you have plenty of time. However, I regret to inform you that you missed National Underwear Day on the 5th which would’ve been an opportunity to smile for sure. Of course, every day is underwear day in my house because none of the boys ever want to get dressed.

So, boxers don’t spark joy for me but I am all for whatever makes you happy. Let’s all echo Pharrell’s sentiment, “Clap along if you know what happiness is to you…”

Day 1 and Counting (Summer 2017)

If there is a mother who returned from vacation with her family and declared herself rested, relaxed and rejuvenated, she needs to write a manual and retire with the proceeds.


It is the Monday after 8 days away and I want to take a nap. A deep sleep like Rip Van Winkle where I wake up to a new world where I’m not in charge of anything. Oh, and it’s raining.

On closer inspection, if you analyze my vacation by the numbers, I should be more exhausted than I am.

Zero charger cords: David Copperfield could do an entire episode about the illusion of owning a craptillion chargers and not having one handy EVER. We spent half the vacation searching/borrowing/complaining about missing charging cords.

Three states: We drove from Maryland, to Delaware and then Pennsylvania for a weekend family reunion. That’s a lot of stops for bad bathrooms, questionable nutrition and dog walking on minuscule strips of grass while inhaling exhaust fumes. Don’t get me started on the bad radio.

Five loaves of bread: I struck a deal this year; I would make lunch every day as long as I never had to cook dinner. So, every afternoon, I slogged through the hot sand back to our place and made sandwiches while the dog stared at me; willing me not to leave him and return to the beach. I did, nonetheless, with a made-to-order sandwich, chips and a drink for each of us. Mo’s Diner was open and flourishing.

Eight days: A family of five plus one needy canine hit the road for eight days. That’s a lot of stuff. People ask why I have a Yukon and it is simply to accommodate this one week of vacation every year when we all cram into our clown car with everything we own. The other 51 weeks I have no idea what is in that behemoth but I know if we ever got stranded, we could survive for weeks until they rescued us.

Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall: What can I say? Beer makes vacation more relaxing. What it does not do, however, is put pep in my step the Monday I return to reality. Maybe carrying around a heavy cooler burned off some calories. I will never know because calorie counting is not allowed on vacay. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Two thousand partially finished bottles of water: The remnants of bottled water multiplied like rabbits. Every time I walked into a room or emptied a bag, there were more mocking me. Each of them was partially finished and offered no clue as to who had started to consume them. By Thursday, I was using the left over bottles for coffee, putting them in the dog bowl, washing dishes with that fancy spring water– doing anything not to waste them. We were headed for the EPA watch list for sure.

One million teeny tiny grains of sand- Sand is the lice of the outdoors—stubborn, itchy and impossible to get rid of. No matter how much I shook things and vacuumed, the sand just scuttled off and landed somewhere else. I’m sure we ingested plenty with my home-made lunch and brought some home for a souvenir. Whoopee!

Are you tired yet?

What counts the most, of course, is the memories. The fact that all of us could actually string together 8 days to vacation as a family is like a modern-day miracle. And with a college departure looming, sports kicking into high gear and the summer winding down, our days are numbered. I am going to enjoy every one of them, no matter how exhausting the pace may be.

College Shopping Beyond Freshman Year

Freshman year dorm shopping was stressful but we relied on the list from Bed Bath and Beyond and lots of coupons and deals.  Sophomore year, however, we are winging it and everything is a possible purchase.

Sophomore year at my son’s University usually means a move from the dorms to off-campus housing.  Such is our situation as we try to outfit a quasi-furnished 5-bedroom apartment which has, frankly, more amenities than our current home.

But I digress.

It turned out that Bed Bath and Beyond was the ideal solution even without a list for the second year to guide us. How you ask? Simply because the store is laid out like rooms in your house, allowing us to tackle apartment acquisitions methodically.

This lay-out is a dream when shopping with a teen boy. Unlike on Amazon, he does not get sidetracked typing in miscellaneous stuff like “Cheap Nike Shoes” in the search bar or the discount store experience where the disorganization of finding a stray left boot and a shirt thrown in with the bedding makes them lose interest.

My linear son thrived in the organization of the aisles.

Flush with the dream of cooking, he headed straight for the kitchenwares.  I followed, anchored by the reality that his vision of whipping up delicacies in his sleek kitchen was totally unrealistic.  We analyzed his current skills and bought a frying pan, sauce pans (one small and one large) a few large spoons and a spatula.  We were building on what he was stealing from our kitchen and starting very small. If he turned out to be Julia Child, then he could buy anything he wanted later, closer to campus.

I anticipated that the bedding was going to be our biggest challenge. With Full XL beds, we could opt for either the Queen sets or try and find a Full XL he liked online.  We had seen many on the BB&B website but he likes to touch them and check the weight and feel. In store, we were able to unzip some bags and do just that until, like Goldilocks, he found one that was just right.

Miraculously, last year’s towels survived so we needed only throw rugs for his bathroom and some organizational and cleaning things for that and his room. Done and done. And I even picked up a few items for the kids’ bathroom at home which needed serious attention as well.

With a full cart, we took the time to browse wall hangings and more decorative items, but even the excellent selection could not interest this boy. His decorating style will continue to be American Flag with school mascot accents at least for this year.  Sigh.

I braced myself at the register, but with careful selection and our trusty 20% off mailer, we were right in budget. This means I can wave around the receipt in front of my financial genius husband when we get home and gloat (priceless experience btw).

I had steeled myself for this outing, not knowing how to shop economically and efficiently for such a large space. Well, I needn’t have worried. It turns out Bed Bath and Beyond had us covered well past freshman year.

Now. If we could just arrange an in-store tutorial on actually using the toilet bowl brush we bought…


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The Big Picture

tvnowork2My kids are constantly asking me to look at something. Usually it is a YouTube video of a buzzer beater or the latest animal to become an internet sensation. I have gotten less and less adept at feigning interest in these moments. Well, except the dog that shuts off the Roomba vac. That dog deserves his moment in the sun.

So, on a recent Saturday night when my son told me I should come see something, I ignored him. Right up until the point when he nervously said the basement television wasn’t working. Because I am the mother of three boys, any time something is not working, I assume there is a story behind it. A story that has been crafted and rehearsed to shed the best possible light on my off-spring despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

Even after a few beers with dinner, it was obvious that the multi-colored lines across the screen and black blob in the corner were all wrong. To make matters worse, the black blob was smoking hot to the touch. Fueled by the annoyance of burning my finger, the interrogation began.

Like prisoners of war, the boys were not ceding to the enemy. They swore they were just as flummoxed as I was. I took them at their word. After all, the boys had the most to lose since this was technically their tv with a gaming system attached.

Fearing the screen was going to burst into flames, I turned off the tv and got another beer. I rationalized that it was more productive to watch the Wizards go down in flames instead. But, I couldn’t stop thinking about that damn tv. After all, it was only a year or so old.

Pretty soon I was going to be hopelessly mumbling about how things don’t last the way they used to, the good old days and the weather.

I tried to remember when we purchased it. Let’s see, I knew I volunteered to run a bake sale the day the guy was coming to install and the bake sale was in May. It was crazy; I mean everything happens in May, why would I volunteer? Anyway, using that timeline, it seemed we were within the year warranty period. Now, no, wait. We had it installed then, but I recalled sitting at a baseball game and having a very public, very testy phone call with the installer debating an earlier date because we had bought the tv two weeks beforehand.

The only way I can keep track of days and time is to chart them through my kids’ past events and the accompanying volunteer slot. So was it a year? Less?

The only way to find out was to leave my comfy chair and find the paperwork. In times like these, I love my overly organized husband the most. The paperwork was in the drawer with all that other warranty stuff instead of being in the bottom of one of my piles with all my good intentions heaped on top of it.

And the date on the yellow and blue Best Buy receipt?

April 22, 2016. Exactly one year from that very day.


I grabbed the mountain of paperwork I found in the drawer, the phone and my beer and headed for the dining room. Everyone in my house knows, the serious phone calls happen in the dining room. The only time that table sees any action at all.

First up, Best Buy’s Geek Squad. The snarky gentleman who answered informed me they are only helpful if you purchase extended warranties, service contracts and put them in your will. Having done none of the above, they sent me packing with a number for Samsung service.

I dialed the number and took a giant swig of beer to cushion myself from what would, no doubt, be a long wait. After I followed numerous prompts, listened to detailed instructions on replacing defective, exploding Samsung phones and counted the nail pops in my dining room ceiling, a rep came on the line.

I was smart enough to get the serial number off the back of my flat screen before our call. Armed with info, I expected things to move along quickly.

I am just a fool.

What followed was a 2-hour odyssey that I was not qualified to embark on. I ran self-diagnostics with the remote and buttons on the tv itself. I took pictures of the screen from the front, from the back, from the side, with the power on, and with the power off. I then uploaded those pictures to some random email address. I had to scan and upload a picture of my receipt from Best Buy and send it to another email address after I got a prompt. I had to unplug everything from the television (attached with approximately 50 wires) and run the diagnostic with the remote again. I ran up and down the stairs, crawled around on the floor, sneered at my family every time I passed them sitting watching the Wizards game in the family room and burned my finger again. Oh, and I asked the rep at least 100x to confirm that we were still under warranty.

Somehow, the least tech-savvy person in the house was jumping through some pretty serious Samsung hoops while everyone watched. I would plot revenge later, now I had work to do

I did not get any confirmation of the warranty from the rep before we got off the phone. She said all documents would be evaluated and a technician would come to my house and assess if we were warranty worthy. It was 11pm, my beer was warm, the Wizards lost and I was exhausted.

A few days later, the technician came out and most importantly vindicated my children. He sucked in his breath when he saw the black blob and told me that it was a burn mark on the screen. One of the LED bulbs had exploded and singed the tv. I am sure I used some prehistoric term, like picture tube, but he was kind enough not to laugh at me, his face showed something more like pity.

After replacing the screen (sort of like they do for a cracked iPhone) I asked about the warranty for the new one.

“Ninety days, ma’am”

“Only ninety days? What if this happens again?”

“Ma’am what happened to your tv only happens to like 1 in every 15,000 tv’s”

This news did not make me feel special like it should have.

All in all, I put more time into this repair than the technician who came to my house. In thirty minutes he evaluated, replaced, reconnected wires, turned on the tv to prove it worked and hauled away the trash.


This time it was me who had something to show the boys. And their look of gratitude to have Netflix, PS4 and their connection to civilization back in action was worth every minute of invested time.

Now if we could just fix the Wizards….

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Magnificence in the Mundane

Finding humor in kids and chaos is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

Magnificence in the Mundane

Finding humor in kids and chaos is the best place for your personal blog or business site.