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Don’t mix the Stoli!

28 Oct


It seems only fair, after pointing out Dad’s commitment to frugality, that own up to a few of my own thrifty and sometimes my own lofty habits. For example, I used to buy premium peanut butters. But then there was that big peanut butter recall and you couldn’t find the name brands anywhere. I rapidly realized that the kids didn’t notice the difference between Jif and the Kroger brand. I also realized that as Wilson ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich EVERY day, we were blowing through peanut butter at an alarming rate. I stopped buying it in normal sized jars and moved onto purchasing it in the largest “twin pack” the store carried. After dinner the other night, Mark found me putting Kroger brand peanut butter on some cheap chocolate bar I’d purchased. “Wow. That’s a blow to my ego.” “What are you talking about?” I wondered how my terrible dessert choice was affecting his ego. “The giant tub of generic peanut butter and a crappy chocolate bar? Can’t we afford some Reese’s peanut butter cups?” Nice way for him to turn around my desperate cravings for sweets and my cheapness to make it his problem.

I also regularly do the math when it comes to buying cereals and other household basics. It’s been hard for me, but I had to let go the per sheet cost of paper towels (two cents). Mark has a thing about kitchen germs. In the spirit of full disclosure, the guy has a right to be a bit paranoid. He has had food poisoning more than any person I know. So I’m willing to quit doing the math and running the mental “cha-ching” soundtrack every time he stubbornly refuses to use anything but paper towels. But I’m still tracking a ton of other stuff that matters to no one but me.

My family has its fair share of people with borderline compulsive behaviors- and in varying degrees. We all have those little “idiosyncrasies” that we’d rather just everyone around us accept. Dad has been known to hide Hershey’s chocolate bars, partially eaten, in various spots throughout the house. Wilson won’t leave the house until the couch cushions are back in place and he’s always putting the finishing touches on some Lego “boat” or Tinker Toy “food shooter”. I hate having houseguests if there’s still trash in my trash cans. The list goes on.

We also have a very serious family idiosyncrasy; some may call it a mantra regarding our adult beverages. You are not to mix “good” alcohol. Specifically, you don’t mix the Stoli. So you don’t put Bombay Sapphire in a gin and tonic and you don’t put Petron in a margarita. If you are going to make a screwdriver, you mix with a lesser vodka. For those that mix, but are still in the “know”, they will be served the Absolut. For those that mix and don’t know better; they get the Smirnoff. Belvedere is kept for friends that like vodka martinis but won’t really appreciate the Stoli if they are adding vermouth. It’s all very clear. Just know it’s practically sacrilegious to mix good liquor in the Kelleher household. Shorty after Mark and I got married, mom was complaining about some “crap vodka” my grandparents had served. Mom has a long list of complaints about Grandma and Grandpa Kelleher, but their unwavering commitment to serving her crap vodka is interpreted (by my mother) as a malicious attack.

Of course, I have made an amendment to the Kelleher mixing rule. If crap booze gives you a headache, you should be able to mix the good stuff. It was under this amendment that Mark was operating when my father discovered; and then scolded him; for mixing me a gin and tonic with the Bombay Sapphire. The whole family was called into a public conference about the new amendment. Mark who had been a bit disbelieving about the seriousness of the rule and a bit brave (or stupid) after a few glasses of wine himself, suggested that maybe Mom couldn’t really tell between the offending crap that was served and her beloved Stoli. This was a poor challenge. Now, not only would my mother prove him wrong, but she would make him drink bunch of vodka. He learned a few hard lessons about vodka smoothness and quality. He also learned about challenging Kelleher women.

She lined up four vodkas. Yes, despite my mother’s affinity for one particular vodka she keeps four vodkas in the house. I reference the mixing rule. She correctly, and easily, was able to identify them all. Now please understand that my parents really like my husband. As “married into the family” members go, they admit that he’s really a great guy. But there are some things you don’t want to mess with and Mark discovered this as he approached the row of vodkas. Horrifyingly enough, he couldn’t identify a single one. More disturbing than that fact was one he liked the least was the Stoli. Turns out my husband is going to be relegated to drinking the crap Smirnoff with my father (he’s a mixer) as that’s the one picked.

Sheer Chaos

25 Oct

Copyright Anne Taintor, used with permission.

It’s late-October. Our front door has not been operable in three weeks. After special ordering a $400 lock set (hardware not included) and gathering up all the other materials (more money), it took and extra week to coordinate the guy to fix it. The job, according to Jamal, was to be completed in one day. Which even I knew enough to declare would be a two day job. So we are on day six, eight if you count the weekend. I’m tired of the noise, the disruption, the dust, the smell, etc.

I don’t handle sheer chaos well. Just when I thought I couldn’t handle one more thing, the kids have discovered how to work the CD player attached to the alarm clock. At the moment, we are cycling through last year’s kindergarten’s choices of favorite Christmas tunes. I have some overzealous room mom to thank for endless playing of “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas” (Madie’s pick) and “Feliz Navidad” (feel sorry for the mother whose kid picked that one). Between happy choruses, things are punctuated with hammering and the alarm chiming insistently as the guy tries to get it all lined up. Not to mention I keep yelling over it all- shooing the kids away from the construction worker as their endless list of questions and “show and tell” is dragging out the whole process. “What’s that?” “Why are you doing that?” “Want to see my new tinker toy scraper with wheels?”

I’d also like to thank the school for this special day off where I’ve been forced to arrange play dates for the kids (at our house since the door still needs to stay open to dry and to air out the house). At 10:30am our household child population will double from two to four. At 10:30am my sanity will be drained at an even faster rate. I had planned that today- after a week of forced vacation from the gym (thanks to Jamal and his inability to work when he said he would); that I’d have this morning to exercise and then be able to cope with the play friends. That is not the case. As it stands, the door guy is still hammering away and its 9:37am. Unless I have a time machine, it isn’t happening. The kids aren’t here yet and I’m already counting down the time until 1pm when the kids get picked up.

Apparently, my inability to deal with chaos has spread to my children. Or at least to Wilson. With the added excitement of the overly chatty lawn guy’s arrival, the noise level is going up as quickly as this day is going down hill. Wilson is falling apart crying for no apparent reason and needs me to sit and hold him about every four seconds. Madie, unfazed as per usual, is literally jumping over and around him. I feel like Steve Martin in that scene from “Parenthood” where his kids are destroying the Christmas pageant and everyone is laughing around him. I feel dizzy and sick with all the chaos….maybe it’s just all the paint fumes.

Ahh, and the latest musical Christmas pick; “Peace on Earth”. Sure. Wait…oh, that’s more like my children; they declared “Peace on Earth” was too “boring” and now it’s blaring “Yankee Doodle”. Is it 5 yet?

Insights into Emily

22 Oct


And back to the Insights portion of the blog…

To: The “Girls”
Subject: Question
So, I’m putting calories into the calorie calculator and I’m wondering. How many tablespoons of Hershey’s chocolate syrup are distributed during one upside bottle turn while your mouth is open below said bottle? And, when your husband witnesses this action and declares, “OH MY GOD,” is that bad? How many calories are distributed in, lets say, six upside down bottle turns? The container says that two tablespoons equals 100 calories. No way I just did five miles in chocolate!!!

Clues I’m About to Lose It

19 Oct

I am inches away from losing my sense of humor and being willingly carted off in a padded wagon. My “day” started at 4am when I got up with Madie. As she hacked the evening away all I could think was she sounded like a seal with a smoking habit. Multiple puffs on the inhaler later, we finally managed to get her to actually breathe in the medicine and she was better. Mark’s conveniently on a business trip to Arizona. I barely got everyone to school as I finally fell asleep moments before the alarm clock went off. Madie was the last child in the door at 7:59am (I’m sure she is regularly the last kid in her seat).

Reason #568 we only have two children: middle of the night anythings. Mark and I don’t handle disturbed sleep well. Some people can go with very little sleep. I can handle a few hours, a few times. But generally speaking, I need a full nights sleep without interruption.

It’s been years since we’ve regularly had to get up and give someone a bottle, pat their backs until they fall back asleep, etc. But it’s still rare that someone doesn’t call out during a dream, falls out of bed, awakens and can’t find their water, etc. So as I ricocheted down the hall stumbling towards Madie’s room I just knew we were off to a bad start.

I then got a call from Jamal, the man that is theoretically fixing our front door. He has cancelled today, mid-project, stating that he doesn’t want to do a “rush job” on our door and he’s worried about the rain slowing things down. It’s currently 67 degrees and beautiful with a 20% chance of rain. I got that message and then got a call from our real estate agent. I think she may have heard about the latest rat in the attic. That was our weekend “surprise”.

I thought Wilson’s room smelled a bit “off” and assumed it was the laundry basket I’d been ignoring. When Mark went into the attic to retrieve the Halloween decorations he discovered the familiar funk smell was yet another rodent visitor. Probably out looking for his buddies. At any rate, the realtor wanted to highlight all the reasons to hurry up and buy a new place. Like I need convincing. I told her, in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t up to me and not to expect to plant a sign in our yard anytime soon. I am more convinced than ever that I will live in this rat infested, crumbling abode until it burns down or I’m carried out.

Gratefully, the school called in the middle of that conversation so I had to get off the phone. I assumed it was the nurse calling about Madie. Turns out it was the pre-school teacher calling about Wilson. He was apparently attacked and bitten by a classmate. As always, the children are offering up a variety of reasons, explanations, and locations for the said biting event. Getting the story out of misbehaving four year olds is like playing the game “Clue”. “It happened on the playground- no in carpool- with the teeth- by Noah- or wait- by Ryan- no by Noah per Ryan’s instructions!” All this relayed by an extremely upset pre-school teacher that kept stating over and over again that biting is taboo in her classroom. She also wanted to know if I wanted to come and collect Wilson. “Did the skin break?” “No.” “Is he crying still?” “No.” “Then no, I’m not coming to get him.” Ever the sympathetic mommy.

It’s not even 10am and I’m crossed between going to the gym and just climbing back into bed.

Book Report

16 Oct


“I am first grade book report hell.” That’s precisely what I told two inquiring fellow gym members that questioned my missing of yoga class, again. Apparently, my dedication to yoga has been in question. What really should be questioned is my sanity. As I drove around, doing this week’s best frenzied Lucille Ball impression, I was pondering just who was doing the assigned book report.

Madie’s teacher sent home the book report assignment on October 1st. We have until the 20th to select a seasonally appropriate book, read it, and then create a poster board presentation of the book. The presentation is to include the basics; title, author, a general drawing depicting book inspired events, and three sentences about the book. Sounds easy enough. There was also a tag line; “Be creative!” I think this was directed to me and me alone. After the “All About Me” project the first week of school and then the whole “Career Day” outfit and presentation, I believe we have not demonstrated enough creative “bling”. Something tells me that no matter what Madie hauls in on the 20th there will be tons more creative stuff. However, if a kid comes in with a PowerPoint presentation, hand-held laser beam pointer, or an iPad; we’re going to have to transfer schools.

I started with the book selection part and discovered we were already stymied. I am a terrible judge of Madie’s reading level. Perhaps it has to do with the fact most of the books seem about the same level to me- some have more words and more pages- but the words themselves don’t seem all that different. Secondly, Madie tends to play dumb. You can put down “playing dumb” as my 128th pet peeve. It drives me nuts to see girls play dumb, especially my own. So I asked the teacher for a recommendation. She directed me to the “Junie B.” series. As we perused the book store’s seasonal display and she selected a four page board book, I introduced her teacher’s suggestion. The “Junie B.” books may be new to me, but not to Madie. Her eyes widened, “Ms. Londay thinks I can read that?” As I confidently reinforced the teacher’s belief, I looked at the book. It was 77 pages and listed has being a 2/3 Grade reading level. I looked at the book and then to Madie; apparently we’ve been having some serious sand-bagging during reading times at home. So we bought it and picked up a few others which appeared to be about halfway between Madie’s board book pick and her teachers novella. Home we went.

Reading is something that can only be done for about 10-15 minutes per day. After that Madie’s brain leaves her body completely and she practically levitates as she can no longer hold her body in any one place. I end up moving the book around to keep it in her line of sight. Together, we look like some odd performance art/dance; her twitting about and me swinging around, book outstretched, and hunched over. When all this starts, I require copious amounts of wine or I start nail picking, knuckle cracking, and deep breathing. We could probably benefit from a referee. So I’ve finally learned, even if she insists we read more, 15 minutes is the cutoff. In said 15 minutes, we cruised through three, almost four whole pages of “Junie B.” I’m no first grader (you should see her math assignments) but even I can tell you that at this rate it was going to take a lot longer than 20 days to read this book. Forget the report part, we’d still be reading the day it was due. I switched us to our backup book. 34 less frustrating pages with pretty, colorful pictures. Apparently, there is a difference between a grade 2/3 level and that of a first grade level. We managed the whole book in one 25 minute session without any bad behaviors (from either one of us).

The report itself started innocently enough with my reading the directions and our mini brain-storming session. Before you knew it, my idea of using an orange poster board, cut into the shape of a pumpkin, had morphed. We were now planning to construct a giant red kite (we loved the beautiful picture about the wind and the kids out flying kites). Our kite would have a tail constructed of smaller shapes, representative of some of the other things in the book. So now I’m on deck to construct a red kite, a smaller orange pumpkin, a yellow leaf, and a brown swallow (the birds that flew south for the winter in our book). I’m no artist. The swallow looks more like a bat. I don’t keep reams of lined paper for first graders, and I don’t have a closet full of poster board. Three stores later, I finally manage colored card stock for the tail shapes, the lined paper and white poster board. There has been an apparent run on red.

So while my gym friends sat smugly sipping their green tea, having found their inner balance in yoga, I explained all this to them. Nothing says “kindergarten mom” like the kind of calm I watch drain from their faces as they realized that next year, they too may find it harder to get to yoga when they are running around trying to construct a book report!

Hair

13 Oct


I was clearly not meant to have good hair. After seeing a new stylist (thank you Jennifer) I was encouraged by his news that smooth, loose, wavy hair was the “in” style. He talked me into believing that my hair could easily be styled as such. Start the “MasterCard” ad voice over. New hair cut, $65. 20% tip for fabo new hairdresser, $13. New hair mousse, $38. New curling iron as old one doesn’t heat up; $34. First aid kit required after trying to use new curling iron, $4. Therapy required for my children to recover from the colorful explicitives coming from the bathroom, priceless.

I loath hair products and enjoy taking time to fix my hair even less. I ended up applying mouse, hair smoother, and then gel. After using Velcro rollers the size of beer cans, the blow dryer, the metal rod of maximum burning capacity (otherwise known as the curling iron), and Madie’s fine bristled hair brush (I was so desperate to make this work), I ended up pulling the whole thing back in a frizzy ponytail and trying to glue down all the bits that were poking up all over my head. My “wings” as my children have lovingly referred to my hair in the past. I’m starting to think they look more like horns.

After all my efforts Wilson informed me my hair stunk. We were taking the kids to dinner and I was more grateful than ever for the city-wide no smoking ban. I’m sure with all this product, it would have only taken a spark to ignite my hair. That’s what I would need to top off my year.

So go ahead and add another $8 to my “MasterCard” ad as I bought a new hair brush that promised to “smooth and straighten”. Sure. I’m also convinced that if it works, it will also make me look 19 and turn me into a size 2.

We have this event to attend tomorrow night, it starts at 6:30. I think if I start now, I may have some sort of style in time for the big event. Until then, I’m turning my back on my adopted Southern home and recognizing that I have absolutely no Southern Belle hair capabilities. Instead, I am whole heartedly embracing my Southern California Gidgett and pulling the damn thing up in a ponytail.

Useless: Husbands and Nannies

10 Oct


For a while now, I’ve been told by friends that I need to get a nanny. The reason? My husband is useless. I shouldn’t say useless, just not so dependable. OK that isn’t even a fair description. He’s great in the “my car has crapped out on the side of the freeway” kind of situation, if he’s in town and not away on business. But in terms of the whole, one kid is puking and the other is sleeping. I need to take “Pukey” to the doctor, can you stay come home with “Nappy” kind of way- he’s useless. Equally useless in terms of I need to get both kids to school at the same time, the schools are ten minutes apart and one is on his way to the office but he can’t take her. It’s like a sophomore math problem gone awry. There is no real answer other than one kid is going to be late. So, in stay at home mom terms, he’s useless. My friends keep telling me I need a nanny. According to my friends, a nanny would give me all kinds of time and freedom. A nanny could be that extra set of hands and eyes so that I could have a bit of household freedom and the flexibility I’m missing from the pre-kid era of my life. But I really think the nanny is just as useless.

In the last week a friend of mine’s nanny showed up with leftover chocolate covered strawberries. Day old dipped strawberries are not helpful to the mom who’s battling the bulge of chicken nuggets and boredom/toddler stressed induced eating. Nor are those very same strawberries helpful to the mom when they are fed to her children. Before lunch. So my friend gets out of the shower, on her way to her own doctor’s appointment, to discover chocolate covered children and strawberry stems strewn about the living room. Light beige rug, of course. Where was the nanny? Apparently, her nanny likes to hide from her children by doing laundry. I’m not throwing stones as household chores are every mother’s excuse for ignoring their children, but the nanny has adopted this excuse? I don’t think so; she’s crossing a line. So, my friend leaves for her doctor appointment and assumes the big damage of the day has been done.

She returns, irritated with the long appointment wait time, agitated with traffic, trying to figure out the plan for dinner, and desperate for the toilet. She trips on a trail of toys which had been put into the hall closest- old toys all boxed up for the Good Will. While swearing about why the kids were playing in the closet, she uses the toilet, flushes and discovers the nanny’s watchful eye has been hard at work yet again. The toilet over flows and the boys start an immediate chorus (in rounds) of “I didn’t do it- he did it” and the nanny stands by….reluctantly shrugging her shoulders while nervously handling a dish towel. After plunging proves useless, the floor is flooded and the water has been shut off, the confessions start. Apparently, when the nanny was doing the laundry (or maybe she was doing the dishes this time), the boys had been flushing some items down the toilet. The nanny didn’t know the English words of all the items the boys may have flushed and we can all understand that it’s hard to translate most of the McDonald’s Happy Meal prizes into English, but my friend knew enough to call the plumber.

You never want to be in the position of calling a plumber. There is never a good time for a plumbing problem. Not once in the history of modern plumbing has anyone ever just called a plumber and set an appointment for some future date, preventing the overflowing toilet and timing it all just right. At least for my friend, the plumber call and visit just cost her money. Our last household plumbing nightmare was conveniently arranged during my mother’s visit. The plumbing nightmare lasted days. During which time my mother was forced to brush her teeth in the bathtub and to share our bathroom. Did I mention the fact that our bathroom is “en suite”? French for- if you need the toilet in the middle of the night, you will have to slip past your sleeping daughter and her husband. You decide if you should flush or not.

I digress. I’d have to say that my friend’s recent problem takes the cake. When you call the plumber and you are forced to pay after hour rates, despite the fact your call was not placed after hours, but you are forced to pay the rate anyway as the owner of the plumbing company has quite literarily dropped dead and the entire company is attending a funeral- you just know you are screwed. And when the after hours plumber (let’s call him Mr. $300 per hour plumber) finally shows and removes a menagerie from your toilet….let it be a lesson to us all- young and old- that a peach, a fresh one in it’s entirety, no matter the reported flushing capacity of your toilet, cannot be flushed.

The only thing my friends husband asked, “Where were you when all this was happening?” Besides being one heck of an expensive plumbing lesson, it begs the greater question. Is the nanny worth it?

Ode to Cheap Fathers

4 Oct

Father's Knows Best DVD Cover, Vivendi Entertainment


I guess now is as good as time as any to introduce my father. To get a visual, he looks a lot like JFK. That same Irish look, slightly slouching shoulders, and the same suit since the 1960’s. In temperament and personal policies, envision Steve Martin playing the lead role in “Father of the Bride”. You know the whole scene in the grocery store where Steve Martin loses it and is removing the buns to make the number of buns and number of dogs equal? That’s my dad. In fact, my Dad didn’t see the humor in this scene at all. As we watched the film he kept turning around to tell us that Steve Martin’s character had a good and valid point. Where they differ is that Dad would have stood in the grocery store and done some algebra to determine how many packages of both hotdogs and buns would need to be purchased in order to arrive at the same number of hotdogs and buns. Then he’d determine the right size package to maximize the per unit cost. He’d return with some ridiculous number, like 60 each, to feed four people dinner. But at least he’d have the correct hot dog to bun ratio. He’d argue, “You can freeze the leftovers.” You should see the freezer.

Dad is so much like the Steve Martin character that when my sister was getting married and we discovered his old tuxedo had a moth hole in the back; he still refused to replace it. His solution was to have my mother color his dress shirt with an eyebrow pencil, so you couldn’t see white through the hole. Things got so bad in our house when it came to Dad and going grocery shopping that he was strictly forbidden from venturing from the list. Whenever, to this day, when the man tries to pick up something extra, a member from the family reminds him of one of the following incidents. Incident #1: in 1985, Dad went to the grocery store and returned with six packages of strawberry cookies. He proudly announced that they were buy four get two free. Great. “Do you like those cookies,” my mother questioned him. “No, I like the apple ones. But I figured someone would eat them.” No one liked the strawberry cookies. But Dad insisted we keep the cookies, all six packages in the freezer. You never know when someone will want a cookie; or 144 cookies as the case may have been. In 1988, we moved into a new house and Mom was cleaning out the freezer. Dad about lost it when he saw the six packages of cookies were in the trash. Out they came; they were moved to the new house, still frozen. In 1991, we moved out of the house to do a remodel. This time, we threw out the cookies when Dad wasn’t home. Incident #2 occurred at Price Club. Price Club is not a place a man like my father should be given membership. If two D batteries are needed, why not purchase enough to light up New York during the next black out if it means saving a few cents? This time, there was an enticing sale on Blueberry flavored syrup. Syrup was on the list, he tried to argue. But what was on the list was regular maple syrup, and gallon size blueberry syrup was most definitely not on the list. It was Incident #3 that finally ended his forays from the designated list.

My sister and I had requested some feminine pads; something halfway between “HEMMORAGE” and “SPOTTING”. He was instructed to return with the pink box. He was given a brand name and “flow” level. He returned with large green boxes which generically read “SUPER”. The boxes were large enough to ship carnival sized teddy bears internationally. His rationale? Why have all these different sized pads? The man is a doctor, so he understood the need for different sized tampons- toxic shock was a big concern- but different sized pads made no sense to him. According to Dad, the “SUPERS” had more applications. Sure, like we could have used them to shore up the next overflow of the Mississippi. Completely lost upon him was the plight of teenage girls everywhere. You never want people to know you were having your period! Just to take a few of those to school with us, we were going to have to bring some small piece of luggage with wheels!

Dad’s cheapness doesn’t end with trips to the grocery or to Price Club. My husband tells the great story of going home with me for one of our first visits. I had informed Mark that when it came to my dad, he just had to remember not to throw out a zip lock bag. Zip locks are very serious business. They are to be washed, turned inside out, draped about the kitchen and then used again and again. Dad is thrifty about bags in general. He takes old bread bags and cuts them in squares large enough to fit over the opening of a tin can. Then, with the addition of a rubber band (usually taken from the stalk of broccoli or the day’s newspaper) he fashions a lid for the tin. After dinner one night, Mark and Dad were busy putting away the leftovers. Dad was hovering over his plastic squares and his rubber bands and left Mark to put stuff in recycled zip lock bags. To Mark’s horror, the bag was so old, so recycled, that the zipper would no longer lock. With much trepidation, Mark informed my father of his predicament. Dad seemed cool- told Mark where the coveted new zip locks were stored and transferred the contents. Later, Mark found my father, the successful surgeon, digging in the trash. He had removed the bag, and was testing the zip lock. Just to make sure that it was really time to throw it out.

The most loveable part about Dad is that he really does want everyone to get what they want or need. So for that reason, you really can’t complain when he is trying to inject come sense, fairness and frugality into an activity in order to assure that we all get what we want. Take ordering at a Mexican restaurant. My mom usually just wants something like a simple taco. Dad likes the beans and the rice. My husband only wants rice and no beans. I don’t really care for the rice either, but my kids really like a little of both rice and beans. The kids meals are expensive and often don’t come with enough variety for the kids- AKA on cheese quesadilla and beans and rice- so we are in a constant state of exchange. Dad starts, fingers meshed in front of him; slightly bent over the table as if he’s about to announce some covert operation and looks around at the group. “So….what does everyone want?” Before you know it, he’s like a military leader moving the troops. Only the troops are food. “OK, Toots (this is what he calls my mother), if you order the #7 it comes with three tacos and rice and beans, it’s just $8.99. And Mark really wanted one taco and one tamale and one bowl of soup. So he could get the #4 as it’s comes with the tamale and the soup. He can have your extra taco and your rice. Emily can have your beans. If we order the combo platter for the kids, and an extra plate, we’ll save another $1.50 and they can each get a sour cream enchilada and rice and beans and Madie can have the avocado salad.” The conversation goes on, soon no one is sure what is being ordered and what plate they will be sharing and if it will involve music and the rotation of chairs halfway though dinner. But in the end, we all seem to get what we want and Dad feels pretty sure that he’s saved a few dollars in the transaction. It works. And everyone is happy. Trust me.

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