Archive for September, 2013

To the horror of nutritional experts the Halloween-theme cereals have hit store shelves. An article in USA Today reported these experts take issue with these cereals as they have too much sugar, dyes and not enough fiber. Why if my husband didn’t eat a brightly colored, high sugar, low fiber cereal, he wouldn’t consider it breakfast. The man likes cereal. Our kitchen pantry holds twelve open cereal boxes; and for a family of three, that’s a lot of cereal. Sometimes staleness sets in before a box can be finished. He gets happy eating Count Chocula as he regards the chocolate flavored milk a perk.

I’ve never really been a breakfast person, probably because I’m not a morning person. Growing up my kids knew where the cereal was and where the toaster was if needed to toast a waffle or Pop Tart. They also knew if they wanted a hot, healthy breakfast they had to do one of two things: go to a friend’s house or wait for their father to cook one on the weekend.

On a Sunday morning a home cooked breakfast could include eggs, pancakes, sausage, bacon, hash browns, toast and waffles. The first time my husband made me breakfast I was stunned to learn people eat homemade waffles rather than frozen; and there was a contraption to make them. Who knew? Wonders never cease.

Growing up eating breakfast out was a big deal as it symbolized vacation. One week out of the year, while on vacation we would eat breakfast out. I guess since it was a rare treat I came to view it as special. It’s funny how I never minded waking up early for breakfast while on vacation.

When we went on vacation with our kids sometimes we would bring along the little travel size cereal boxes. Since there was something for everyone, everyone was happy. The one thing that could have made my husband happier is if there was a box of Count Chocula.

An article in USA Today stated that starting this year things will be different for Cookie Monster on Sesame Street as he will grapple with self-restraint. In the past when he wanted a cookie he got one, now he’ll learn about delaying gratification as he won’t always get one. In the new season Cookie will struggle repeatedly to resist temptation.

When I was a kid I thought delaying gratification was to eat the frosting on a piece of cake last as it was my favorite part. I did this until one day an aunt saw me separating the frosting from the cake and casually remarked, “You could die before you finish your cake and you wouldn’t have eaten the frosting. Eat it first; don’t leave the best for last.” Sure, she may not have been my most optimistic aunt, but she became my favorite. She was suddenly bathed in a golden glow, radiating her omniscient knowledge. Only now looking back, I think if I died while eating cake I would be upset because – I died while eating cake. That’s no way to kick the bucket.

Recently while looking at a box of Junior Mints and trying to resist the temptation I thought of Cookie Monster. I tried to delay gratification by telling myself I didn’t need chocolate; but when it comes to women and chocolate the words and need and want are synonymous. I tried to ignore the scent wafting up my nose and tantalizing my taste buds. But, when I envisioned my favorite, somewhat pessimistic aunt, I ripped open the box and reached in to pull out a mint to satisfy my craving.

I felt a lump of mints stuck together and clinging to the box. I did the only logical thing a woman desperate for chocolate would do – I cut the box open with scissors and start clawing frantically at the mints. In my haste for instant gratification I knocked some mints on the kitchen floor. My hopes plummeted as I looked at the mints and knew I couldn’t possibly use the 5 second rule – not for my kitchen floor. I couldn’t take the chance. It wouldn’t be smart. I dumped them. Yes, food on my kitchen floor will kill anyone’s appetite and need for any gratification. I’m sure my aunt would agree.

An article in USA Today reported that Etihad Airways has come up with a new and unusual amenity: a Flying Nanny. The nanny is available for all travelers on long-haul flights regardless of which class they’re flying on. The Flying Nanny will be dressed in a bright orange apron, making them easy to spot. The nanny is the airlines way of making their passengers journey as relaxing and comfortable as possible. The fact that this service is free makes it very attractive.

Flying Nannies will get training in child psychology and sociology. The nannies will keep children entertained, serve meals and help crewmembers interact with families.

Having a Flying Nanny is like having a modern day Mary Poppins, just switch out the umbrella for a plane. Maybe the modern day nanny will also break out in song. And maybe, like Mary Poppins the Flying Nanny will also have a never ending bag from which she can pull toys to amuse youngsters. Every kid wants a Mary Poppins as opposed to a Nanny McPhee.

Nanny McPhee is like a drill sergeant. There’s no singing. There’s no flying. There’s no spoonful’s of sugar. There’s just a nanny whose middle name is discipline. I doubt she’ll let you connect the warts on her face. She’s the type to throw the kid out the plane window for misbehaving.

Whether you’re Ms. Poppins or Ms. McPhee if you’re holding a crying baby nobody’s gonna want to sit by you. In this situation you’ll need a crash course in dealing with people’s dirty looks and language. You’ll learn to deal with the rude and belligerent people who demand you quiet the baby…you wouldn’t think the parents would complain. You’ll learn Mary Poppins had a whiskey flask at the bottom of her bag which accounted for her enduring happiness. There had to be a valid reason the woman stayed so chipper. Wakeup people. You’ll learn to follow her example.

Labor Day has come and gone leaving us with the question – is it ok to still wear white? Some like me will bid farewell to their white sandals till next year. Others who are no slaves to fashion, like the men who wear socks with sandals, will continue to wear white. It’s sort of like wearing an Easter hat after Easter. It’s like wearing a Christmas sweater after Christmas. You can do it, but the reindeer‘s antlers will start to sag come July.

I’m not so concerned about whether or not people wear white after Labor Day as I am about stores that display Christmas decorations around Labor Day. I went into Garden Ridge the other day and all the Christmas trees and decorations were up. Come on!

Remember when the season didn’t kick in until Thanksgiving ended and the last of the turkey leftovers was eaten. Christmas got the green light when Santa made his appearance at the Macy’s parade, ushering one holiday out and the next one in.

Now that Christmas is commercially celebrated months in advance it loses some of its magic. It takes the short term merriment of the holiday and stretches it to the point that the meaning and reason of the holiday can be forgotten. Why, it could make those who celebrate Christmas think it’s all about commercialism. Let’s hope not.

I was fortunate to have one of my stories published oerman the Erma Bombeck website. You may read it here

Yesterday I was in a store walking behind a lady whose underwear showed through her skirt. Her bright pink underwear came through loud and clear under her cream colored skirt. Not sure what to do I debated with myself. Should I tell her? Should I remain silent? I didn’t want to tell her and have her get angry or worse… start crying due to embarrassment. Maybe she knew and wanted her panties to show. Maybe bright colored underwear is the only gift her cheap husband gives her and she wants to show it off. Maybe she’s a fashion designer and is testing what she hopes to become a new trend.

We’ve all been in awkward, social situations where were not sure what to do especially if you don’t know the person that well. These situations are awkward and embarrassing for both parties involved.

When you see a stranger walking with toilet paper stuck to the bottom of her shoe, do you say anything? If you’re having lunch with your new boss, do you point out the spinach stuck between his teeth; or do you try to ignore it? Do you run your tongue over your teeth, only to realize you’ve given him the wrong idea? Do you tell a nurse who’s about to stab you with a needle she has lipstick on her teeth? Do you tell a man his fly is open and risk him wondering why you were looking THERE? Do you tell someone with a booger hanging from their nose to blow?

I had an embarrassing moment in elementary school. During class I went to the bathroom. When I returned to class I had to walk across the room, in front of all my classmates, back to my seat. I heard giggling and muffled laughter and saw the nun looking at me and praying (Catholic school.) My classmates were laughing at my skirt stuffed inside my underwear. Now, thinking back, I’m grateful I wasn’t wearing bright underwear under a cream colored skirt. Now, that would have been a major embarrassment.

In June, Sushi Yasuda, a Japanese restaurant in New York City abandoned tipping and raised menu prices 15% to cover wait staff salaries.

More American restaurants are following the European example of no tipping. It’ll be better for employees if restaurants raise prices to give them a living wage with benefits along with vacation and paid sick days. My question is – what about the customer?

No tipping is better for customers who need a calculator to figure out the tip as they’ll be able to put it away.

I’m wondering if there’s no incentive of a tip if service drop off. I can’t help thinking that it will to some degree. Will a sit down meal in a family restaurant become equated with a fast-food meal… you’ll get your food quick. You’ll get your food hot. You just won’t get your food from a friendly, efficient server.

A no tipping policy is better for servers who work at a restaurant where the wait staff pools their tips, each getting the same amount. This practice is fair only if each server works equally hard; if not then it’s not fair. My husband and I go to this restaurant where one particular waitress is the best, hardest worker I’ve ever seen. If I was her I would be pissed pooling my hard earned tips with fellow coworkers who don’t have the drive and work as hard. Why should her coworkers profit from her hard work? With no incentive to work hard, the only thing slackers might do is slack harder.

I had a part-time job as a waitress during college. When I worked the morning shift I and the other servers were happy when a certain couple came in and sat at their station. Why? Because this couple ordered coffee and left a generous tip, doubling the price of the coffee. All they wanted was coffee and to be left alone to hold hands and gaze into each other’s eyes. We speculated they were having an affair. I mean how many married couples hold hands and are civil to one another at eight in the morning? Nobody I know. My husband and I have learned to decipher one another’s growls. I’ve always felt before 9a.m. language was highly overrated. I was never sure if the couple tipped well because they loved the coffee (which I seriously doubt,) paying for the privacy they requested or dishing out gobs of money to squelch feelings of guilt. I didn’t know or cared.  Just know I was glad I didn’t have to pool my tips with anyone.

The snapshot in USA Today was – would you buy from a store knowing a better deal existed elsewhere if you had a positive prior experience? 70% answered yes. 30 % answered no.

At the grocery store we shop at there’s a nice, friendly cashier who’s not necessarily the fastest cashier. And even though the other cashiers can ring us up in less time we always choose her. Why? Because she’s friendly! She talks to her customers. She doesn’t give the impression she’s doing you a favor by doing her job. The interaction between me and her makes my shopping experience a positive one. 

I know some people don’t care about positive experiences; they care about getting the best deal. This is why the ‘tax-free weekend’ was invented. During this weekend parents battle the crowds to buy back- to- school supplies for their kids. Parents contend with the rude, defiant and scary… their own kids and others. Parents contend with the surly and obnoxious who step on their toes without so much as an “I’m sorry,” to step into a pair of brand new sneakers. Parents contend with the pushy and belligerent who shove them aside to grab the last character backpack. Parents make allowances for these people and the cashier that greets them with the ‘Get me out of here,’ haunting look in her eyes.

The only difference between ‘tax-free’ weekend and ‘Black Friday’ is the cashier doesn’t automatically and insincerely wish you ‘Happy Holidays.’

Since I work from home and hate crowds I do not succumb to great deal promotions such as tax-free weekends. I wait for a coupon and then a sale. I shop when the stores are empty (no more than 5 people.) and the only person whining, “I wanna go home,” is my husband whom I dragged along. With great deals come great sacrifices.

LaFisheria, a Mexican restaurant in Houston, Texas has installed a “no children under 8 after 7p.m.” policy. The owner issued the policy after numerous complaints from patrons bothered by loud children. If it’s a family restaurant this might not be a smart business move, but if it’s a fancy restaurant then it’s probably a smart move. Customers don’t want a headache along with their sky-high bill.

My community Y has a “no children under 16 allowed unless accompanied by an adult” policy for the fitness room.  Some couples want children at their wedding and some do not. I’ve been to movie theaters where the children behaved better than the parents who were inconsiderate to those around them by texting constantly on their phone.

I’ve been to restaurants where parents allowed their kids to walk on the seats. Was it wrong for the kids to do? Yes, but to me the fault lies with the parent for failing to stop such behavior.

Sometimes parents have to accept responsibility and teach by example. If your child runs around a restaurant – take them outside. If your child sticks his finger in other people’s food – take them outside. If your child screams and cries – take them outside, unless, of course you’re on a plane. In that case sit tight and offer fellow passengers earplugs.

Your child won’t learn acceptable social behavior, unless you teach them.

I was in a restaurant last night where a young boy was banging on the windows and smacking the lights. He seemed to relish in the attention it brought him. He continued until his mother (who was ignoring him because she was busy talking to others at the table) finally looked and stopped him. Somehow I think if it was her home she would have nipped his behavior in the bud much sooner.

Children are only as good as their role models and can’t be blamed all the time for bad behavior if parents don’t step up to the plate and do what parents should do – parent