Blogger Advice

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

     I was surprised and delighted by all of your comments on last week's post "Why I Blog" . Compared to most of you, I'm a baby blogger.  I'm still a work in progress and love all input from my readers! 

    I know about 15 people who have recently started blogging. I've "come out" to them, even though I'm "anonymous" because I feel like it always helps to have someone that you know in the same boat as you.  Some of their blogs are amazing, some not so much.  

Here is my number 1 tip for any new blogger:

Read other blogs (and comment on them). No one ever became successful at their chosen art without studying the masters who came before them. Furthermore, if you comment on other people's blogs, they are likely to pop over and view your blog.  This is the only thing that I have done to grow my readership and my blogger circle. I'm learning what makes an interesting post by the number of hits and comments each one gets.  I read every comment and try to email a response back to every single one. I learned that trick from one of my favorite bloggers (Thanks Diana!)

As I said before, I'm a newbie so what do I know? So my request to you is to tell me today: 

If you had one piece of advice for a new blogger, what would it be??

I am never insulted if you invite me at the last minute...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

     I feel lucky that I often get invited to go to cool events at the last minute. In the past few years, I've been offered free tickets to the Super Bowl, The World Series, a Bruce Springsteen Concert and  more things within hours of the starting time. 

  I guess that I should wonder why I don't get invited at the first minute but I am not a planner so I love a call like I received during the bewitching hour (after school homework hell/5:00 p.m.). "I have two extra tickets for the food and wine festival's Q event. It's on South Beach behind the Delano. Do you guys want them?" , said a very nice friend. 

    I hesitated. There was a Lord of the Flies Project and lots of studying to oversee. The decision was made as soon as my friend went onto say, "C'mon. They are worth $300 each. You guys will love it. Free Gourmet food and drinks"   $600 dollars worth of food, drink and fun for free, I'll take it! 

    I told the kids to figure it out on their own, threw on some lip gloss and the best "beach chic" thing that I could come up with in five minutes and ran out the door. 

     Besides the error of wearing wedge heels to an event which was held on a football field sized tent on the beach, the night was amazing.

  The South Beach Wine & Food Festival is presented by Food & Wine and the Food Network. It has been held on chic South Beach for 13 years.  65,000 people will  attend the dozens of events held over the weekend. Depsite the high ticket prices, the event always sells out. I've never been before. 

   The event we attended was called "Mo√ęt Henneessy's the Q". Supposedly the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models were supposed to be the featured guests but luckily I did not see them. After my brush with the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders last week on our cruise, I really did not need another "boost" to my self-esteem.

   The event featured tastings by 40 of the nations top chefs. It was a celebration of all things, grilled, braised and barbecued.  This was not a vegetarian event. Each booth served different variations of BBQ brisket, ribs and other meats.  My husband was literally in hog heaven. He was starving after a long day at work and started at the first booth and worked his way down the line.  I warned him to be picky. He had 40 booths plus desert stops and free drinks to conquer.  He made it to about 15 before he was stuffed and nauseous . I was more choosey but I'm still certain that any weight that I lost from lovely procedure earlier in the week, was instantly re-gained.

Myron Mixon and Some other food person

     One of my favorite stops was Myron Mixon's booth. I don't really watch food shows. I'm a horrible cook and they make me feel inadequate and super hungry.  I did watch marathon of a show called BBQ Pitmasters with my husband one Sunday afternoon and Mixon was the winner. He was serving brisket that was delicious. 

      I also liked the offering from Dale Talde, a former Top Chef All-Stars Contestant. He owns a spot in Brooklyn and his Asian flavored BBQ beef was amazing. 


  The rest is kind of a blur. How much beef can one partake in three hours? How much champagne can one drink on a school night?  How many times can one's wedges sink into the sand? These were questions that were answered during our impromptu party night.


    Drink Menu. I tried the first one                                          I did not drink all of this!
        but did not like it at all

  If you ever have the chance to get tickets to the SOBEWFF (even if not free) you should definitely go. The balmy breezes and delicious food made for an amazing night out. Just wear flats! 

    AND if you ever have extra tickets for almost anything, I'll take them, even if the thing is happening in the next hour. That  is just how I roll. 

W.W.J.D.? (What would Japolina Do?)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

 I had to get a colonoscopy yesterday *. When I was ready to be wheeled in for the procedure, a sweet Asian nurse walked next to my bed.  She said that her name was Judy and she was my surgical nurse. She assured me that she would be by my side for the entire procedure. Her manner was friendly and sweet. 

 Next walked in Dr. Tall, Dark and Handsome.  He said that his name was Dr. X and was the anesthesiologist. He was friendly and joke-y. He said that he was like my Bartender for the day and would make sure that I felt nothing.  All was as great as it could be given the situation.

   Judy started to wheel my gurney down the hall and Dr. X said "Watch out for Judy, not only is she a woman driver but Chinese. You know how bad Asian drivers are? Ha Ha". Judy chuckled with what I supposed was a nervous laugh. I did not know what to say.  He continued "Judy grew up driving a bike through the rice patties, so hold on, it may be a scary ride!"

WTH???   I was so offended. This was a textbook EEOC complaint.  I used to defend these cases when I worked for a law firm. (I really used to settle these cases as the offenders were very unsympathetic defendants/jerks)

In general, I would have nicely mentioned to Dr. X that he was a bigot but, he was going to inject drugs into my system momentarily. What was I to do?

Here were my options: 

a) Bitch him out and explain how offensive his comments were and risk him giving me too much anesthesia or worse, not enough? I have teenagers to raise. Being in a coma would not be good right now.

b) Hand Judy my card and explain that I will represent her pro bono?

c)  Complain on the comment card later about the nice dose of racism that I witnessed along with the propofol?

d) Nothing

I'm sorry to report that I did nothing. I was too scared to bitch him out before my life was in his hands.  I awoke well rested and grateful that I was alive and sort of forgot about the incident until the car ride home plus I did not see Judy or Dr. X after the procedure.

Furthermore, the smart surgical center asks patients to fill out the comment cards while they are still high on drugs. I'm certain that they get 100% ratings from patients still loopy from anesthesia.

 Nurse Judy, I really hope that you get back at Dr. X in one way or another.

 What would you have done?

*Even though I am waaaay younger than 50, I get colonoscopies every five years due to the fact that two close relatives did not get diagnosed with Colon Cancer until after it had spread to their livers. It is estimated that 1 in 20 Americans will get Colon Cancer in their lifetime. 

The only good thing about colon cancer is that it is the one cancer that they can lop off while it is still in the pre-cancer stage. Screenings save lives.

 People are scared of colonoscopies because they involve poop and your butt. If your doctor has recommended that you have one, don't put it off. I promise you that the very worst part is having to drink 64 ounces of laxative-laced gatorade. Flushing your system out is no picnic but I'd trade one lousy afternoon for chemo any day.  

The procedure itself is simple, even with a racist anesthesiologist. You're knocked out and have no idea what they are doing to you.  My gorgeous colon was perfect and I don't need to go back for another five years. I promise that  if Dr X is still there then, I will make sure that I yell at him.

BONUS: I lost two pounds from the whole ordeal! 

Pinterest Party Syndrome...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

    I love a party more than anyone.   However, in the age of Pinterest (Instagram, blogging, etc),  photos of gorgeous parties seem to be taking over the world.  Images like this one are popping up all over making party hosts think that their parties need to look like this or they are inadequate 

 I've hosted and gone to some amazing parties over the years. I've been to some pretty crappy ones too, so I consider myself a mini-expert.  Just because a party looks Pinterest Perfect, does not mean it is going to be good.  (Don't you think that baby above was about to knock that gorgeous cake unto her sister who will then start punching her?

Decorations/Ambiance/Flowers, etc are nice but not the most important things.  Trust me, the following tips apply to almost any party from the most humble little get together at your kitchen table to a black tie Wedding for 500.

1. Don't cheap out on the food.  

  •  When it comes to budgeting, spend money to make sure that the food is good and plentiful. Yes, I am a Jewish mother, but putting out a plate of finger sandwiches for a crowd of 50 is not going to cut it in any crowd (except for my anorexic  health conscious Miami girlfriends)  I'm not saying that you have to serve surf and turf but make sure that the food is fresh, plentiful and tasty. Don't run out. 

  • A party is not the time to push your diet on people. Even the skinniest minnies that I know plan to eat at parties. Some of them starve themselves for days knowing that a big night is coming up.  Having a few healthy options is great, but make sure that you have  lots of the "good stuff".

2. Serve Alcohol
  •  If it is party for guests under 21 or recovering addicts, don't serve booze. If it is a regular party, people are going to expect alcohol. Don't underestimate how much people drink at a party.  I hosted a lunch for my son's Bar Mitzvah and the bar tab was 3 times what we had expected. Everyone had a blast so I'm not complaining but it is just something to keep in mind.  

  • The words "open bar" can make people go crazy so make sure you have enough ice, mixers, etc.  If your budget won't allow the hard stuff, make a signature drink like sangria or just serve beer and wine.   

  • As for parties for kids and teens. Unless it is a Bris/Bar Mitzvah/Quinces or other event where one would expect alcohol to be served, I say "no".  Having drunk Dads at the J.D. Finnigans Bouncy House World while they should be watching their kids is just an incident waiting to happen. Also, if you are serving alcohol, it is your responsibility to make sure that your under aged guests don't get liquored up.

3. Good Lighting

Once again, while decorations are fun to browse on Pinterest and, if you are crafty, actually make, I'd pick good lighting over fancy centerpieces every time. Once the room is full of people, everyone is looking at each other, not the driftwood/rhinestone sculptures that covered your dining room table for the seven months that you labored over them. 

  Good lighting makes every one look better and in turn, look better in photographs. When they look back on the pictures, they will remember how much fun that they had.

4.  Get Someone else to Help

  • If it is a big event like a wedding, you will, of course, hire a professional photographer. At smaller events, you will still want photos and as the host, you really need to concentrate on the party, not documenting it. If the party does not warrant a professional, pick two or three people and hand them cameras or ask them before the party if they will take shots.   

  • If you are hosting a big event and your budget allows, hire a party planner. Most of them are worth their weight in gold.  Like any professional, they think of things that don't even cross your mind. Plus, you don't ruin your blowout by sweating while setting up, you just show up at the party all pretty.  

  • If you want (or have to) do it all yourself, consider hiring an events person for the day of. Let that person tell the people working the party what to do.  At the very least, if you are hosting more than a couple of dozen people, enlist a friend to help. Real friends are always happy to help and are often happy for having something to do other than make small talk with your relatives.

5. Remember that Parties are supposed to be Fun 

It seems obvious, but focusing on the look of your party may divert your attention from your guests.  They will get the WOW factor when they walk into the room and see your Pinterest worthy look but if the party is dull, the Wow factor will fade quickly and they will be looking a their watches.

Depending on the occasion and people that you invite, food, drinks and company may be enough. However, if you are bringing together a mix of people that don't know each other, are of a certain age, etc, you may need activities for the kids, music/dancing games, etc. 

6. No one wants to see more than a five minute photo montage of any other person

Other than your parents or grandparents, no one wants to watch more than five minutes of photos of your child.  Seriously, five minutes is torture enough even if you child is North West-Kardashian. Edit it. Trust me on this one. You can send discs of the unedited version to the grandparents. They will love it!

7. No one wants your children, grand-children, etc to entertain them

Once again, other than your parents or grandparents, no one wants to hear little Sally perform on the piano, show her ballet moves or belt out show tunes. If you must have her perform, please make sure that it is limited to one short song.  This does not apply if you child is really famous. (If you child is Elton John, your friends will want to hear him sing and play all night and be disappointed if he does not )

8. Everyone loves a party favor

Some of the best parties that I have been to have had fresh, hot mini donuts  or NY style Hot Dogs being served curbside while the valet brings your car around.  A party favor is a must for any party where the guests are under 8, this is often the only way that you can get them to leave without having hissy fits.  The favor does not have to be extravagant. Even a tiny chocolate bar artfully or cleverly presented upon exit is appreciated by all.  

9. Remember your Role

A party host really must make sure that her guests are having a good time. You need to mingle. You need to keep an eye out to make sure that every one is getting served food. You need to make sure teenagers are not under the table clothes doing bad things.  Don't get drunk at your own party .Drink after your guests leave. This rule does not apply if it is your 21st Birthday, any of your other birthdays after age 39 or a family-only party. In fact, in those exceptions, you should imbibe.

10. Have Fun!

Even applying Rule 9, you should still have fun. If you are totally stressed out because the caterer forgot the bring the mini-hotdogs, your guests will feel like they have to make you feel better instead of just enjoying the shrimp.

  I spent the night at one of my friend's daughter's Bat Mitzvah practically slapping my friend in the face. She was pissed about the video screen being smaller than the one she ordered or something like that and she was so pouty about it. The party was great but she was so pissy. Her good friends and I couldn't just enjoy the fun because we had to keep reassuring her that the party was so great.  It was sad because she spent all of that time and effort (and money) on planning the party and she couldn't wait for it to end.

And just remember, even Pinterest parties can go really bad…

Pinterest Perfect photo

Pinterest real life photo  ….

Driving Miss Japolina...

Monday, February 10, 2014

This is a repost of a post earlier this year...

 When my  son was learning how to swim, it seemed like the hardest parenting thing ever for me. Living in South Florida, it is a necessity to teach kids as early as possible. 

    From age one and a half  on,  he took swimming lessons each spring.  I put him in group lessons at the community center. I put him in private lessons at the community center. I had a swim teacher come and teach him at our house. My husband tried to teach him. Year after year, he would cry, puke, almost drown and then finally start to swim just a little bit and only in the shallow end. 

    Native Floridians like me think anything between the end of September and April as "too cold to swim months" so we would stop swimming and by May, pretty much be at square one all over again.  I watched his friends start swimming and become little fish.  It was not until he was 7, when we were on a cruise, that he jumped in and never stopped swimming.  He is now a strong swimmer and has no fear of water at all so I guess it all worked out  fine.   

   My point is  that I thought that teaching him how to swim was really important for his safety and independence AND really, really hard.  What could be harder to teach than swimming to a kid who did not want to swim? Maybe potty training but that was accomplished way before the swimming was. 

     We are now at the driving stage. Well, the learner's permit stage.  It is totally terrifying.  I know why it is biologically very difficult to get pregnant after a certain age. It is because you should not be sitting in the passenger seat of your car with your 15 year old driving if you are older than 55.  I can't even imagine if I was 10 years older trying to sit in traffic with a child learning how to drive without having some type of coronary event.   

As it is, I am trying to yoga breathe and not scream while he is behind the wheel.   I've considered offering a cash incentive to forget the whole driving thing and eventually apply to colleges in cities with great public transportation options like NYC.  He is now almost 16 and it has not become any easier.

    In my "mommy career", I've always found that having mom- friends a year or two ahead of me, has always been valuable. "Don't worry about fifth grade math, they will get it" or "they will stop that biting thing when they are 3" was always much needed and wise advice.  

   Unfortunately, my friends that have kids who are now in the beginning stages of driving on their own are terrifying me. One friend's son has already been in 2 fender benders after only having his license for a couple of months. Another says that she is terrified whenever her 16 year old pulls out of the driveway and only calms down after he returns home.  I often see another friend's sweet little daughter speeding around town in her new convertible  like hell on wheels.  None of this is comforting.  

Is there anything harder than this? Please let me know because I could use a heads up.

My glamorous time aboard the Norwegian Getaway...

Sunday, February 9, 2014

   I guess it pays to blog because Norwegian Cruise Lines invited me, good old Japolina, along with other celebrities  such as Brooke Burke- Charvet (Dancing with the Stars), Pitbull (Mr. Worldwide), Buddy Valero (The Cake Boss) and the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders to christen their new Mega Cruise Ship, the Norwegian Getaway.*

   NCL not only provided us with a free mini suite for the one night cruise to nowhere, they also comped all food and drinks!  They even made reservations for us for dinner and a show.  I really felt like a V.I.P.

     I have been on at least 30 cruises during my lifetime. Given that at least 10 cruises leave from South Florida weekly, it is very easy to jump on one. However, I have been pretty loyal to Royal Caribbean for most of my adult life and had not actually been on an NCL cruise since "The Love Boat" was on television.  I was super excited to check out this new beauty and she did not disappoint.

     The Getaway has 28 dining options from casual to fancy. We ate lunch at a seaside cafe and dinner during a really fun Magic show called the Illusionarium. We also blew the diet at Carlo's Bake Shop. Who needs to go to Hoboken? The canoli was to die for.  All of the food that we ate was delicious and if you sail on her for a week, I'm certain you will not leave feeling hungry at all.

     Our room was a mini suite. It had a balcony, comfy beds and the biggest bathroom that I've ever had on a cruise ship.  We were able to tour some other rooms on the ship. My husband should have not let me go see the special V.I.P. section of the ship called The Haven. The suites up there were amazing and they have their own pool and butlers.  It is sort of like after I flew first class to Europe, my new motto was "upgrade me or I'm not going". Guess who never goes?  All joking aside, I'd sail in any room on the Getaway because the amenities on the ship are great.

Norwegian really made me feel like a V.I.P.

This was the view from our cabin!

    Besides all of the food options, there is a gorgeous casino, tons of bars and clubs including "the Grammy Experience" and a real ice bar where you have to wear a ship-provided coat. There are also shows including "Legally Blonde" and much more.

    The gym had tons of cardio equipment where you can stare at the sea while sweating out some of the canolis. It also had TRX and boxing equipment. There is even a room dedicated to FLYWHEEL indoor spinning.  The spa was stunning and featured a salt room.

This is the salt room in the Spa!

    The kids won't be bored onboard. For the little ones, there are not only a kids club and splash pool, there is a Nickelodeon themed program for them.  Teens won't bug you either. There is an aqua park onboard with huge watersides, a ropes course and a plank platform that extends 8 feet over the side of the ship. You won't be seeing me on that thing!

This is more my speed…

Thanks Norwegian. I had a blast and hope to cruise with you someday very soon.

* NOTE: I did not actually meet any celebrities during my brief time onboard but did run into a few local newscasters. These are the same ones who put me in a panic during hurricane season with their "The big one is coming, we are all going to die!" outbursts so I stayed clear of them.  I also ran into the Dolphins Cheerleaders at the bar. They were all wearing matching aqua cocktail dresses.  I ran when I saw them as they are so blonde, young and gorgeous that they probably made Brooke Burke-Charvet look old and dumpy.  I wanted to make sure I was not in any photos with them.


It's always something...

   When you sign up for motherhood, they should give you a little rulebook.  It should have the picture above on the cover. Inside,  it should have about ten pages which say very vague things like "expect the unexpected" and "sleep when you can".  The one thing about being a mother that I hadn't thought through before having kids was that you're life really revolves around them 24/7/365.  You can make plans like crazy,  but don't get too attached because something happens and you have to do a 180.

    Norwegian Cruises invited my husband and I to come aboard their new ship The Norwegian Getaway for a one night inaugural cruise. The ship was going out to the middle of nowhere but the promise of a free suite with a balcony, free food and drinks along with uninterrupted alone time with my husband made it sound like the perfect night away.  Plans were made for transportation and overnight arrangements for the kids (not as easy as it sounds).

   While my husband was out of the country on business, I daydreamed of sitting on a lounge chair with a trashy magazine like US Weekly with a fruity (free) drink in my hand.  I skyped him that he better not come back with jet lag because we are going and we are going to have fun for that one night, or else!!!

     You know where this is going right?  Yesterday my eldest texted me from school.  "I'm nauseous. I"m going to puke. Please pick me up" (Yes, kids in high school can text their parents all of the time. Don't worry this will be the subject of a rant in this blog one of these days).

     I picked him up. I tried my famous diet coke trick on the car ride home.  "Want to stop at 7-11 for a diet coke?" This trick is my barometer as to whether the kids are really sick or not.  It has worked for many, many years. The contraband diet coke is like a truth serum. If they want it, they are not sick. He declined. "Maybe later, he moaned". Uh Oh.

      "Does this mean we can't go?", my husband asked.  Leaving a pukey teenager with aging grandparents is not a great idea.

       Everyone slept through the night, including me so,  I was hopeful this morning.   He is still feeling crappy but if he can keep food down this morning, my doctor-in-law has agreed to watch him so that we can go. Don't worry, if I'm not convinced that he is fine, I won't be able to relax and will stay  home.

     This has happened before.  As I zipped up the suitcase the night before a much needed Vegas trip, a child ran into my room and threw up all over it.  As we were about to walk out the door for planned a mom/kids trip to Orlando, someone puked.  Someone ran a high fever during our week at the family beach house up North. (Being stuck in a beach house with no cable or wifi is not glamorous, at all).  We have had pink eye in a rental car and other calamities that seem to fade in mind as time passes.

     On the bright side, I don't think it is anything serious and it was not a real, paid-for vacation plan so it is really not a huge deal.  

     So in the words of  the late Gilda Radner, "It's always something"

The Girl with the Crooked Smile...

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

I recently read a great book that I want to share with you. It is called Girl with the Crooked Smile: Stuck In A Moment ... and the Pearls of Wisdom that pulled her through it by Darah Zeledon.

This  is a memoir by a fellow South Florida Mom. Zeledon has five gorgeous little kids and a doting husband.   If that is not enough to keep her busy, she has bounced back from some huge kicks in the stomach including a brain tumor while pregnant with her the fourth child and other tragedies including a family member's suicide, a home invasion robbery, financial troubles and more.  

Sounds like a downer right? The crazy thing is, it is not. I could not put the book down and when I was done, I felt inspired. Zeledon did not take any one of the horrible situations that she was confronted with by curling up in a ball under the covers. She chose  love over fear and fought hard to not only stay alive, but to live a full, happy life. 

Instead of just telling you her tale of woe,  she explains how she was able to cope with the cards that she was dealt and give tips on how to deal with adversity when you are faced with it in your own life.

While taking you on her journey, she also gives amazing descriptions of living a privileged life as a foreigner in Latin America. I personally know lots and lots Latin Americans but never really thought about how life differs for upper class citizens in those countries and I found these portions of book fascinating.  Later in the book, Zeledon moves back to home to the U.S. and finds herself much worse off financially and the juxtaposition between her two lifestyles is also fascinating.

I'm keeping this one on my (virtual kindle) bookshelf for future reference but I also highly recommended it to a friend who is going through some really scary medical stuff right now and will recommend it in the future to others. 

Zeledon's website is here. You can order or download her book from there or from amazon 

Groundhog Day, Schmoundhog Day...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

My husband is out of town. We have two cats. They loooove him and ignore me unless I am the only one around when it is chow time.  They are pissed that he is not here. They have been banging around in my room after I fall asleep and realize that he is not coming home that night.  At 5:00 a.m., they start nudging me and making lots of noise so that I will have no choice but to feed them.  Yes 5:00 a.m.  I thought that the benefit to having teenagers in the house was everyone could sleep late but I guess that I was wrong.

This morning I made lemonade out of the stupid-cat-wake-me-up lemons.  I figured if I was already up, I'd head over to the beach and go for a ride.  Usually my bike rides are after 8 but riding on the broadwalk while the sun is rising is a real treat.

First of all, I did not realize that it was Groundhog Day. Here in South Florida, we don't really give a hoot about whether a rodent sees his shadow.  We really don't care if winter stays around for another six months. Our winter so far has consisted of a mix of hot and cold days. One day it is a low of 45 (It quickly gets up to at least 65). The next day (like today), it is 74 degrees at sunrise and only getting hotter. 

I was reminded about this holiday while on my bike ride. There were about 300 people on the beach having a groundhog day party watching the sunrise.  It was so cool. Look….

Furthermore, I was really happy that the stupid cats woke me up because the beach at sunrise is so inspiring. The sun rising itself is gorgeous and reminds you that there must be a g-d.  

When I ride this early, I am always amazed at how busy it is. I can't believe how many people leave their cozy beds to exercise.  I am in awe of the injured souls traipsing along with canes, prosthetics and crutches. I love to see the elderly getting fresh air and getting their exercise in. I'm motivated by the athletes, including a group of  people trying to get in shape for an upcoming 1/2 marathon all in their matching shirts.

I'm not as enthralled by the tourists sitting on benches smoking their first cigarettes of the day but I'm trying not to judge. I am grossed out by the guy I always end up behind who is riding a bike and smoking at the same time (doesn't that defeat the purpose?)

Besides all of that going on, there was a band set up on the sand shooting a music video, plenty of yogis and tai chi practitioners, professional photographers setting up for portraits and  lots and lots of selfies being taken.

Even though I really hate those cats right now, I am really happy to start my day this way. Hope yours is great too.

The Best Punishment Ever

Saturday, February 1, 2014

     "Don't make Mom upset while I'm out of town! I'm going out of the country so you better be on your best behavior."

His words were still hanging in the air when a bickering, nasty fight erupted between them.  Stupid Mom. Trying to be nice, I  said that they could place an online order for Chipolte, their favorite and one of them could run in and pick it up (The line at our local Chipotle is always out the door and if you order online, you just walk right up, pick it up and walk right out). One would think that their father's recent words and the promise of the favorite salt & fat laden burritos would have made them work together. What I heard instead was one of those annoying brother on brother bickering fights that makes my skin crawl.    

Warning shots were fired. "Work together or I'm canceling the order", I said. "Stop fighting", I screamed. The nastiness got worse. I then told them that, not only were the burritos off the program that evening but anything with a battery or cord was now contraband. 

All electronic devices were to be surrendered immediately for the remainder of the night. Laptops, iPhones, Kindles and iPads started to pile up on my dresser. Digital cameras, all tv remote controls and video controllers were also laid out. My bedroom looked like booth at a electronics convention. I tried not to add up how much money had been spent on all of this crap which would be out of date within a year or two.

The house was eerily quiet. I was in the throes of an amazing book and without the din of all of the plugged in items, it was quite peaceful.  

"I am soooo bored. What am I supposed to do?" someone whined from outside my bedroom door. "Clean your room", was my reply

As the night progressed, everyone calmed down. The criminals decided to get along to see if I would give time off for good behavior.  (I did not).  An amazing thing happened. They started to show me some of their things that they found in their rooms that had been brushed aside in favor of electronic devices. I spotted books being read. A rubik's cube was trying to be solved.  If you have teenagers, you realize that this is like spotting a white tiger on safari. 

As I spoke to my husband late that night, we agreed that this was the best punishment ever. "If they are bad tomorrow, take everything away for 2  more days". Easy for him to say, he is not here to entertain the troops.

We woke up the next day and I was in a good mood. Electronics were given back but told that they would return to my room if civility did not reign in my home that day. 

The best punishment ever!
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