7 Surprising Benefits of Lost Luggage

I don’t fly often.  And when I do, I like to trust that the airline I’m flying will deliver my suitcase safely to my final destination.  And yet, for the second time in two months, the airlines have let me down, allowing my luggage to take its own sweet time to meet up with me. 

The first time I lost luggage was in December. I searched for my suitcase at baggage claim  longer than anyone should have to, and couldn’t quite comprehend what was happening.

I just stood there at the halted carousel, anxious and wishful, like dog on an invisible leash longing for a slow squirrel across the street.  Am I at the right carousel?  Where was my suitcase?  Is it stuck back under those black plastic curtains?  Did someone take it off for me to save me from straining?

It was only after the baggage clerk tapped me on the shoulder and urged me to head in to the customer service office did reality set in.

My crap had taken a detour.

Thankfully, I was staying with family, and after a quick but expensive late night trip to a 24-hour Walgreens, I had most of what I needed to tide me over until my bag arrived a day later.

So when I jetted south for a speedy-quick getaway to Miami this past weekend, I tried to do the smart thing and whittle down my belongings so they would fit in a carry-on bag.

You know, so I would have my suitcase with me at all times.  So that it would actually make it where I was going.

Except, the airlines had other plans.

You see, US Airways waited until I was handing over my boarding pass at the gate to tell me that there was no room left in the overhead compartments, and that my bag would need to be checked.

No problem, I thought, it will just be waiting for me on the jet way when I arrive, right?

Wrong.  Instead, the agent delivered a plastic smile and an answer that, in my agitated state, sounded something like “Your bag will be happily checked all the way to your final destination, so you don’t need to worry about lugging all your precious shit around.”  As if they were doing me a favor.

And wouldn’t you know it, one third of the overhead compartments on the flight were empty.

What’s funny about this whole situation is that every time I asked one of the gate agents if my bag would make it, I was assured that it would be, without a doubt, when I arrived to my final destination.  They actually joked that my bag would make it there before I would.

Which I guess is airline speak for You’re Screwed, lady.

To say I was pissed when my bag wasn’t waiting for me at 2am is putting things mildly.

But, as they say, why waste energy being negative?  I should have been grateful I decided to even wear clothes that day so that I wouldn’t be butt naked in public!

So, this got me thinking.  Thinking about surprising benefits to losing my luggage.  Seven surprising benefits, as it were:

lost luggage

1.  Being free of material goods makes me reevaluate what I truly need.  It’s empowering, really, to know that I can get by on so little.  And by little, I mean the tiny-ass toothbrush and toothpaste the airline gave me in their toiletry bag.

2.  If I actually had a suitcase with saline solution in it, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to check out the unfamiliar neighborhood I was staying at in downtown Miami at three in the morning to desperately find a shady 7-11.

3.  I’ve always wanted to give the natural make-up look a try.  Now I could attempt it without cheating a bit.

4. A great test of the depth of my darling beloved’s love for me is re-wearing stinky jeans for the second day in a row.

5.  Let’s be honest, that ragged Old Navy dress needed to be retired anyway.

6.  Those shoes I packed would have given me blisters the size of Montana anyway.  Besides, my trusty Dansko clogs let all those sexy young people in Miami know “Hey! I’m a Mom!”

7.  Nothing says “Romantic Getaway” better than drying my hand-washed undies with a hairdryer in the hotel bathroom.

So, next you experience lost luggage, just remember that there’s a silver lining to the whole story.

And hopefully that silver lining isn’t the one in your suitcase.



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Drawing 101

I have a little artist on my hands, and I love it.

From a very early age, my daughter couldn’t help but express herself artistically.  Sometimes it was through drama, quite often through dance, many times through singing.  She hasn’t censored herself yet, and I’m cherishing every display of creativity she’s willing to show me.

But it’s her drawing that I love the best.

Give that 4 year-old a pen and a piece of paper and she’s one content artiste.

drawing 101

We spent an insane amount of time in the car last year, shuffling back and forth to school.  While her brother could occupy himself by reading in the car, unable to read yet, my daughter was bored and tired of looking out the window every day at the same scenic view.

So I bought her a small notebook and three fancy-colored pens, put them in a special bag, and stowed it in the side of her car seat.

It was the best thing I did for our commute.  There aren’t many moments where I feel I have won at parenting, but that idea came pretty close.

She’d doodle for the entire trip.  Sometimes the sheet of paper would be filled with fake writing and scribbles.  Pre-shapes.  Sort-of circles and squiggly lines.

And then, she learned how to write her name.

Suddenly the notebook was full of her first name on every square inch.  Most of the time it was linear, but every now and then she’d have two letters here, four letters over there, some random letters that weren’t even in her name spread out in the center of the page.

It was visual proof that her brain had just unlocked some new secret.

Once she got her name down, she began to draw faces.  Big, round faces with giant eyes, incredibly long limbs, bulbous hands and feet, looking nothing like humans but adorable all the same.

Now, she’s drawing whole landscapes.  Pointy mountains with green grass strewn along the bottom of the page, a canopy of blue sky at the top, trees and people with hair and clothes holding flowers.  Every single one of the people she draws are smiling.  Because that’s how she sees the world around her.  Bucolic and innocent and happy.

Drawing, or “coloring” as she calls it, is her favorite pastime and something we’d do together pretty regularly.  It was a great excuse to slow things down, fill up the hour before bedtime, and get a glimpse in to that brain of hers.  Working next to each other, she’d give me ideas of things to draw, illustrate her own page, and them sometimes reach over and help me finish my own drawing.

But lately, I have shied away from doing this activity with her because I don’t have use of my dominant hand.  This excuse did not go over well with her.  “You can still color” she said.  “Use your other hand” she pleaded.

So, I did.

Last weekend, I poured myself in to a drawing with her.  It took me almost an hour. I’m pretty sure I stuck my tongue out in serious concentration, too.

I painfully slaved away at my playground scene with washable Crayola markers, trying to find nuance in flower petals, striving to find the right aspect ratio, proportion, shade, color and shadow.

Behold, my masterpiece.

Wait.  You MAY want to get some sunglasses, because this shit is brilliant.  I’ll wait until you get them.



Are you back?  Okay, here it is.


So, yeah.  I think I may need a few more lessons from my 4 year-old.


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Why I’m Never Cleaning My Car Seats Again…

car seat

Yesterday I conquered a task that, should I ever have to perform it again, you may want to have a straight jacket at the ready.  Because this feat brought me to the brink of losing my sanity, and I doubt I can face this challenge again without needing a heavy prescription and clinical surveillance.

Let me explain.  We came home on Saturday from a week-long car trip.  Our car afterwards looked like our kids have ripped open every bag of snacks your brought along and sprinkled their contents all over every surface as if it were fairy dust.

So, after laundry was washed and put away, my next assignment was tackling the car seats.

Besides the Microcosm of Crumbs that has set up shop in the fabric, I was also concerned that they might be covered in dog or cat hair from the kids’ frolics with my parents pets.  If I haven’t mentioned this already, my husband is allergic to most animals.  Hence his nickname, Bubble Boy.

But I digress.

Getting back to the car seats.  While my son’s seat was pretty easy to dismantle, I also had the pleasure of taking apart my daughter’s Britax Boulevard.

I thought it would be easy.  I thought I could wiggle the cover off in less than a minute and throw it in the wash.

I thought wrong.

You basically need a degree in engineering to disassemble this sucker.

First you have to remove the headrest cover, which hides a styrofoam foundation that’s nice and easy to rip in half.  Then there are tricks to getting the back cover off, and everything has to be aligned just so:  the head rest, the opening, Jupiter and Uranus.

Once you get the back cover over the headrest, you’re only halfway to success.  In order to remove it all the way, you have to release the harness straps from the back.  Sounds simple enough, no?  But when I turned the seat over to investigate, I was met with a black sheet of plastic that was blocking my access.

Mocking me.  Laughing in the face of my frustration and saying “You think you’re so smart?  Figure THIS shit out, woman!”

It doesn’t pry off easy.  And then I got smart and read the instructions.  YES, it took me this long to crack out the manual and read along.  I’ve put IKEA furniture together, dammit!  This should be child’s play.  And yet, there are 14 steps to removing the cover in the manual.  FOURTEEN FRIGGIN’ STEPS.

Once I was able unhook the harness straps, the rest came off as quickly as a college Senior’s bikini top at Spring Break.  I threw that sucker in the wash, laundry recommendations be damned.

I mean, c’mon.  The label says “hand wash only”.  Are you serious?  Hand wash, my ass.  This was just the fall-out from a cross country road trip and years of neglect.  What if one of my kids puked all over the thing?

car seat 2After the cover was washed and dry, I went to go put it back on and thought I should maybe wipe down inside.  You know, for a nice clean start.

Holy goldfish.  There was a thick layer of juice/crackers/raisins/cheese puffs that had coalesced and coagulated into a sticky bar of crap.  It was Dis. Gust. Ing.  I had to exhume it with a butter knife, falling out of the crack in one large, foul sheet.

I finally put the whole thing back on and took a step back to admire my work.  Then I realized why it didn’t look right.  I forgot to put the harness straps through headrest.

I contemplated skipping this step and seeing what happens.  But seeing as how the safety of my precious cargo was at stake, I made the responsible choice to take whole thing apart again and do it correctly.

Because I’m giving like that. I will remind my daughter of this turning point every time I buckle her in her seat from here on out.

Now that the seat is clean and reassembled, karma or Murphy’s law would dictate that as soon as I publish this, my daughter will puke her guts out in this car seat.

Better start looking for Toys R Us coupons, because there’s no way hell I’m cleaning this again.

Let’s Make a Deal!! Picky Eater Style…

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

Welcome to another round of Let’s Make a Deal: Picky Eater Style!

Today’s contestant?  Gina, a mother of two who has attempted to go off the family’s regular menu and try something different.  Diverting from pasta or rice?  Very risky there, mom.  This picky eater of yours is already giving you the stink eye.  I can tell this is going to be an exciting show!

The game you’re playing today is Get the Couscous in the Picky Eater’s Mouth.  Are you ready? Go!

Our contestant first attempts to politely ask her feisty preschooler to try a small spoonful of couscous, insisting that this grain is just tiny pieces of pasta.  That tongue sticking out in disdain is not a good sign.  This mom is going to have to try harder if she wants to win this one.

Oh!  I can see that begging for a No-Like Bite has indeed backfired.  Gina, I’m going to stop you right at groveling and say Let’s Make a Deal!

If you can get this picky eater to eat AND swallow the couscous, you will win the grand prize of menu variety and the ability to avoid cooking two separate meals at dinner time….

Or, you can choose what’s behind Door #1.  What will it be?

Alright, this mom is persistent and has her eye on the big prize, she’s giving up Door #1.  Keep trying Gina!

That guttural gagging sound coming from her daughter might mean a big clean up.  Will this bite stay in?  And….no!  It has come back out.  Gina’s going to try again.  Audience, say it with me:  Let’s Make a Deal!

First, Gina, please pick yourself up off the floor and take another sip of wine, this will all be over soon.  Here are your options.  You can keep your position in this standoff and risk losing your sanity, or you can cut your losses now and choose the envelope in my hand.  Could be money, could be a vacation, or it could be more chores.  It’s up to YOU to decide what route you’re going to take.

Wow, she turned down the envelope!  I can’t believe it!  Let’s see what she would have won if she’d taken what was in the envelope…oh, man, it was a Full Day of Cooperation from everyone.  What a prize that would have been!  She must really want to have a more diverse menu for her family besides buttered noodles and Elmo soup.  Let’s see how she tackles this third round.

She’s taken the passive aggressive route this time, mixed with some hallow threats of dessert recantation.  Not sure how this will go over…

A compromise has been made:  two small grains of couscous will suffice Mom’s plea.   The couscous is in her mouth…now, will the picky eater swallow?

(10 minutes later)

Welcome back from our commercial break. The headstrong picky eater has placed couscous in her mouth and has been chewing for almost ten minutes.  However, we cannot grant Gina the grand prize until swallowing has been performed.  Gina has moved on to clearing the table while muttering obscenities under her breath.

Oh!  And there comes the couscous, back out on the plate and accompanied with tears.  I’m so sorry, Gina.  Seems like you’re destined to a life of bland food or time intensive food preparation.  I do hope you’ll come back and try again.

But, let’s not forget your parting gift!  A Rorschach test of couscous to clean up off the floor.  Enjoy!

You might think it’s funny, but it snot….

That is NOT a typo…up there in that title.  I’m swimming in nasal fluid over here and I’m ready for whatever cold that has hit our house to move on out.  Mr. B came home from a sleepover on Saturday morning with a yucky nose, then gave it to Miss P on Sunday, and now I have it.  All of us process colds differently.  Mr. B just gets extremely stuffed up and has that yucky breath for a few days, but otherwise is a happy camper who sleeps like a rock.  I have inherited my family’s history of post-nasal drip, which forces me to sleep sitting completely upright in order not to choke on my own snot.  And Miss P?  Colds quickly move in to her chest (or maybe it’s post-nasal drip that’s causing it) and coughs.  A lot.  Especially at night.  I’ve plowed through a whole bottle of honey already.  I’m on Day 3 of horrible sleep and may very well drug the both of us up with Benadryl tonight. 

Does it make me a horrible parent that I have hit my threshold of patience and compassion after a couple of days?  I felt sympathetic for a while at the beginning, I really did.  But then, after a couple of days (and becoming sleep-deprived doesn’t help), I’m tired of being smeared with snot, wiping off spit after being coughed on, and listening to the gulping during meal times because no one can breathe out of their noses.  All while feeling pretty crummy myself.  Granted, it could be a lot worse.  No one is running a fever, all are in good spirits, and Miss P isn’t really even having a bad case of the 11′s (a term a friend used for the double strip of snot running out of a nose).  It’s a pretty mild, yet annoying cold.  We’ve been using the neti pot, which helps a little, but let’s face it, without an arsenal of drugs to help ease the symptoms, these poor kids have to tough it out.  At least it’s giving us plenty of reasons to eat lots of popsicles.