Superpaige's Pad

The Trials of a Busy Mom

Category: tips (page 2 of 3)

Dear Applebee’s

Congratulations to you. You must be doing something right if people are willing to put up with the lousy treatment, and to actually pay you for it. You have a really great marketing team, I guess.

On Monday, it was my birthday. We had a bunch of gift cards to chose from, and I let my kids decide where we should go out to eat. They chose Applebee’s. We have had fun and good food there in the past, so we went for it. It must have been “gift card Monday” –you know, that first Monday after Christmas when everyone goes out to eat to use up their giftcards– for when we arrived at 6:30, it was already very crowded and we were told we would have a 30 -35 minute wait. We weighed our options and decided that 30 minutes was manageable, and we squeeeezed into the already tight lobby area, to wait it out.

Now 30 minutes may not seem so long to you and me, or to my husband who started reading a book on his PDA, but to a small child (or even a big one) 30 minutes in a very confined space with nothing to do is like an eternity. I tried to cheer them up and make it a little more fun when they were whining and complaining. “Remember when we were at Disneyland and we waited all that time in line to ride the new Finding Nemo ride? That was a longer wait than this, and it was raining? Remember?”
Only grumbling from the masses.
“Or for Tower of Terror. That was kind of a long line, right?” I tried lamely to continue.
“That was a short line, mom.”
Tough crowd. Well, never mind, then.

About 40 minutes into our 30 minute wait, I searched my purse for some kind of food for the poor kids, who were REALLY hungry by this time. All I had were Altoids, which don’t do much for the hunger. I encouraged the kids to stretch their legs and go for a little walk to the bathroom. My five year old had really had it by this time, and he looked at me with all the menace he could muster and said, “WHY DID YOU BRING ME HERE?!” I tried to tell him that I had wanted to go to Olive Garden and YOU KIDS were the ones who voted on Applebees, but really, what’s the point. I sat on the floor and held him in my lap and tried to comfort him. “Do you want to hear a story?” I asked.
“No, I want some food!”

I lost track of how many “How much longer”s it was before they finally allowed us to sit, but by 7:30 we were squished into a too tight booth. We are a family of seven people, and the only thing they had for us was a four person booth. No WAY were they going to let us have a larger table, because it was still SO crowded. There was some arguing over where everyone was to sit, and some changing sides. Since there were no chairs and no hooks to hang our coats, and I wasn’t about to put my wool coat on the floor, I held my coat on my lap, hoping there was nothing gross or disgusting on the bottom of the table.

Soon our sweet but frazzled waitress was there to take our drink orders. The poor thing was so busy with so many tables to wait, I really did feel bad for her. It only took a few minutes for the kids’ root beers to arrive, but she didn’t have the chocolate milk for the other two. She said she’d be “right back” with it. We ordered our dinners and tried to have some fun while waiting. I mean, we were finally sitting down, right? But my youngest two kids still didn’t have drinks, and after 15 more minutes, we finally managed to stop our sprinting waitress and ask about the chocolate milks. She gave us a confused look and said, “I got those out, didn’t I? I’m so sorry! I’ll get you those in just a minute.” I again felt bad for her, and wondered if I could just walk over and get some drinks myself to save her the trouble. But soon someone else brought two kid size chocolate milk, which helped placate the hungry little ones for a little while, at least.

To kill some time, somehow we got on the subject of weird things you can do with your face. We had a fun contest to see who could wiggle their ears, roll their tongue, raise one eyebrow, flare their nostrils, etc. Soon we were all laughing and having fun, although still hungry and squished.

The people sitting in the booth behind us had had enough. I kept hearing remarks like, “This is ridiculous! We’ve been here TWO hours!” I think they were a couple with a two year old and another mom with a two or three year old. They had been pacing the restaurant, trying to keep the hungry kids happy. Finally they left in a huff. “We’ll go to McDonalds!” they said to the kids. I didn’t blame them for leaving, really. How long can you expect a hungry two year old to behave? I felt a little bad for the waitress when they brought out their food a few minutes after they had left. But I wondered what they had ordered and who was going to eat that food.

We had reached the point of EXTREME hunger by the time they brought our food. But imagine my little boy’s face when he was handed his plate of Kraft macaroni and cheese, but no fork. His sister was SO lucky–she had ordered a hamburger and could eat it without silverware, but here he was, without even so much as a french fry to scoop up his mac and cheese. I’m not joking when I say it took us 5 more minutes to track someone down who could give us the precious silverware. And they weren’t going to give us more than we REALLY needed, either. “Oh,” said the server, “how many of you need silverware?” Well, all of us, wouldn’t you think? But no, they only had enough silverware for the people who actually NEEDED their fork, and couldn’t just pick up their food. Forget napkins for everyone. I usually like to ask for extra napkins, since we do have a bunch of kids, and I’m a fan of napkins, myself. But I wasn’t going to mention that to the waitress or server–if I could even find one.

After we finally had food AND silverware and were all devouring it like hungry hyenas, the waitress came by to ask if the food was all right. She hadn’t wanted to stop by BEFORE. Probably because she was scared we might just eat her. I’m sure she’s seen her share of hungry people before, and she knows to avoid them, if possible. My husband reminded her that it was my birthday and asked if they did anything to celebrate birthdays. “Sure!” she said. I have to say that my trio platter was delicious and filling. The kids enjoyed their burgers, although my son’s “Frito chili burger” had chili but no fritos. Oh well, just eat it, we had told him. My husband’s steak was good, and the macaroni and cheese was…well, just like the macaroni and cheese that we make at home, but it only costs me 50 cents for the whole box, instead of $2.99 for a plate of it.

Then it arrived–the Birthday Freebie! The coveted brownie, ice cream covered creations that the whole family can take a bit of, and …what? What’s this? A shot glass filled with ice cream and hot fudge? And one spoon. “Usually we have the waiters come and sing for birthdays,” apologized our poor waitress, “but they are all too busy. So… Happy Birthday.”

Oh, the disappointment. It’s my birthday, for heaven’s sake. I’ve waited 365 days to be treated like someone special, and this is the free dessert you bring? We all took a bite (with the one spoon. One of the lucky ones who had a fork used their fork) and the “special dessert” was gone in seconds.

Check, please.

Now, Applebee’s–I know you can’t pack any more people into your restaurant. You’ve tried. I know it’s not your fault that everyone and their dog decided to “eat good in the neighborhood” that night. I understand.
But when a family goes out to eat, and is willing to part with over 50 of our hard earned dollars, they expect to be treated better than mere cattle. May I suggest you call in a few more waiters or maybe another cook so that people aren’t waiting over an hour for their food. Or maybe give the kids some crackers or a basket of bread to nosh on while they are waiting. A little bit goes a long way to assuage the hungry and the grumpy. And your birthday treatment? Well, let’s just say that when my precious one day a year, right after Christmas birthday comes around again, I won’t be spending it with you.

Parenting tip for the day

Just because your child is playing quietly, does NOT mean he or she is not getting into trouble.

For example: John had been happily playing upstairs and I was kind of relieved that he wasn’t here making a mess while I was cleaning the kitchen. Soon, however, he came downstairs with his sad little face and showed me that his finger was bleeding. When I put his band-aid on, I noticed that his hands were covered in glitter. “What have you been doing, John?” He did not want to tell me, but said that he would whisper it in my ear. Hmmm. This could be bad. “I broke a snowglobe,” he said. I decided I’d better go and investigate.

The problem was, I couldn’t tell which of the disasterous bedrooms he had ravaged. They all looked like a tasmanian devil had been there. I called to him and asked him to come and show me where the snow globe was. Reluctantly he came upstairs and showed me the broken snowglobe. It was indeed broken, and there was water, glitter and glass shards covering pretty much everything. I sent him back downstairs so I could clean this one up on my own. Yes, I cut myself in the process, too.

So, my friends, just because your child is quiet (or even singing, in the case of my friend’s little girl), never assume for one minute that they aren’t getting into trouble.

Works for me–Calendar!

works for me
I’m one of those people who relies heavily on a calendar. A write everything down, double check it to make sure we don’t have a conflict calendar. Because then I don’t feel like I have to remember every little detail of our lives, because I have the calendar! It frees up space in my brain for….other things. I actually have a cool Busy Body Book Calendar with 5 columns to categorize everyone’s stuff, and it’s been quite helpful to manage our busy schedules.

And here’s my tip: When scheduling a play date or appointment for your child, write the phone number down when you write down the appointment. For example, just this morning, Jenna’s little friend Hayley called and asked if she could play today after school. Today doesn’t work, but we settled on tomorrow, and Jenna will go home with her and play. As soon as I hung up the phone, I checked the caller ID and got Haley’s phone number and wrote it on the calendar with the info. So, tomorrow when it’s time to pick her up, I already have the phone number right there, and I don’t have to go searching through phone lists or caller id to find it. Pretty smart, right? Thank you, Thank you. I’ll be here all week!

For more ideas and tips, visit Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks in my Dryer

Deal of the Day

Do you need paper? If you have kids you definitely need paper. They print things, draw on things, jam the printer (oh, wait, that’s me–but that’s a whole different subject which we may discuss some other time), make origami, paper airplanes and any number of projects involving paper. Your paper. Paper that you should buy by the case.

Well, right now at Office Depot, they have quite a deal going on. This week, a case of paper that is normally $44 something, is on sale for $28.99. Plus, they have coupons in their ad for $10 off your purchase over $25.00. So, I bought a case of paper (that’s 10 reams) for $20.21 after tax. That’s 2 bucks for a ream! I just paid quite a bit more that that for a ream of paper at Target! And you can pick up an extra ad in the store, if you want to come back later in the day and get another case of paper. They have a coupon for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I might just go back again tomorrow for MORE paper! They also had some cute little flash drives for 10 bucks that the kids would LOVE to find in their Easter baskets, I’m sure.

(Office Depot did not pay me to plug their company. Really. I’m not even a fan, normally, but this deal is just too nice to pass up.)

Note to self

If I ever go on the Price is Right (or any game show where there’s a slight chance I might win big prizes or large amounts of money for that matter) treat it as an aerobics class and be sure to double bra it.

Frustrated–please help!

I’m frustrated with my 13 year old. He is a smart kid but he just doesn’t remember to turn his assignments in. I sometimes wonder if he’d remember his right arm if it weren’t attached. He missed a few days of school to go on a trip with my parents, and since then it’s been a struggle to catch up. I feel like all I do is nag and nag and nag and get on his case about his grades, and yesterday I really lost my temper and yelled at him. I felt like a horrible mother, he felt like a horrible kid, we all felt horrible!

I need some suggestions on how I can help him be responsible for his own work, and get it all turned in ON TIME. One friend suggested I go to school in my pajamas with him and sit by him during all his classes and remind him to write things down or turn things in. My husband told him about a friend of his whose son got bad grades, and then was his dad’s slave for the summer. While these are great ideas, they seem a little bit drastic to me.

So I would like your suggestions or things that have worked with your teenage boys.

Thank you in advance.

I’m linking in with Shannon’s Works for me Wednesday where lots of people are asking questions today.

Works for me–post it notes

While looking at my son’s grades on powerschool and realizing all the assignments he has not turned in, I came upon an idea.  Instead of printing out assignment lists for each class, which is yet more paper for him to lose in his backpack, I grabbed a stack of post it notes and just jotted down each missing assignment on each post-it.  He is then able to take those notes and when he finds  the assignment buried deep in his backpack, he sticks the note on that assignment and can show it to me, so I can check it out.  It seemed somehow easier for him to manage those little notes, and he has a visual reminder of what still needed to be done.  The assignments that he couldn’t find, he stuck the reminders on his binder.

I also love post-it notes for leaving reminder messages for the kids in the mornings.  “Take a shower”, “don’t forget to wear warm clothes today” or even “I love you”.

So, that’s my works for me idea for today. For more great ideas, visit Rocks in my Dryer.

Plants on the cheap

Today I went to lunch with a few girlfriends from my neighborhood at Rumbi Island Grill (give me a YUM!  “yum.”  Thank you.)  It was just a little get together to kind of celebrate the September Birthdays, but more than that, it was an excuse to get together for lunch.  Why, yes, I did organize it, thank you very much.  But it wasn’t much to organize, just a few phone calls and a couple of emails and we’re all set.  It was fun, and delicious.

After our lunch, my friend Lisa, who had driven me down there, asked if I minded if we stopped in at Lowes to look at some plants.  Ok, I said, I’m game.  John’s at preschool and I don’t have big plans other than lunch, so I don’t mind at all.  She had said that they had some of their plants on clearance.  Well, that would stand to reason, since nobody is planting any annuals right now.

What we found were some lovely goodies.  I bought an entire basket full of annuals (I couldn’t tell you what they are, but they are still pretty) for $1.  Yes, I know they are annuals and they are going to dies soon, but for a dollar, I couldn’t resist.  The basket alone is worth more than that.  I also bought a sad looking, small chocolate calla lily plant. No, it’s not blooming like that, but it was marked down to 49 cents or some obscene amount like that.  Original price?  $16.00.  I’m not sure if I should plant it in the ground and leave it there for next year or if it’s a picky plant that needs to be dug up in the fall and wintered in the garage.  Anyone know?  Zone 5, I think we are?  I also bought a pretty flowering kale plant.  I think it was about a dollar.  My three plants came to less than $2.50.

When we asked if they were going to discount the perennials and bushes further, the sales girl didn’t know.  I commented that it must be pretty boring to be out in the garden center this time of year, and she heartily agreed with me.  “They are supposed to close this area down soon.  Probably in October,” she said.  “What do they do with the plants that they don’t sell?” we asked.  “Oh, they just throw them all into a compactor and get rid of whatever doesn’t sell,” she said.

That seems like a TERRIBLE waste, doesn’t it?  Perfectly good bushes, vines, and plants that will just get tossed out?!  Well, I’m going to have to check back there in the next week or two and see if they do indeed clearance out the rest of their stuff.  I’m sure they’d rather sell it at a discount than just trash it, don’t you think?

So, if you are in the neighborhood of a Lowe’s or Home Depot (or even Wal Mart), I would check out the garden section.  You might find some forgotten treasures on the cheap.

(By the way, thanks for the well wishes.  I still am kind of sneezy today, but it’s not near the severity of yesterday.  I’ll just keep taking the Claratin and Sudafed for a while until we get through this.)

Works for me Wednesday–What to do with broken glass

Today I have a tip that I just learned about in a book.  Not a household tips or cleaning book or anything, but a novel (because that’s all I read).  If you break a glass and there are glass shards all over the floor, the broom and the dustpan may not get all the little pieces up.  Use a piece of bread to “mop” up the shards.  The little nasty pieces of glass that you may not be able to see will all get stuck in the bread, and then you just throw that bread away.

For more valuable tips, visit Rocks in my Dryer.

Another use for a flyswatter

A couple of weeks ago we had our dishwasher repaired. You remember that day, don’t you? (Shudder at the thought.) Well, when the repair guy was here, he took off the front panel of the dishwasher, and OH THE HORROR! You should have seen the crap that was there under the dishwasher. I wouldn’t let him put the panel back on until I at least attempted to clean it, so I got out the vacuum and did the best I could to at least clean up all the loose crumbs and things. The repairman kind of laughed at my silliness and said he’d seen much worse. EWW.

Well, that got me thinking about what kind of crap must be under my fridge. I know they sell those dryer lint long brushy things that you can also use to clean out under your fridge (why yes, I do occasionally watch infomercials on tv. Why do you ask?), but I don’t currently have one of those. So, I used my brain and came up with the next best thing. The flyswatter! If you take the flyswatter and reach it under the fridge, you can bring out weeks and weeks worth of crud that somehow makes it’s way under there. I was amazed at all the stuff I got out with only that little old flyswatter! Then you can vacuum or sweep it away. How handy is that?

And on another note, Robin has a very insightful and thoughtful post up (shock, I know!) that you should really go and read.

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