Wednesday, July 26, 2006

LOST IN SUBURBIA™ by Tracy Beckerman..The Fungus Among Us©.

I never thought I’d be one of those suburban moms who talked about cleaning problems, but I have to admit it; I have fungus issues. In the past, I think I’ve handled those pesky minor battles with mildewed tile grout, scummy shower curtain liners, and other assorted moldy nuisances with appropriate reactions. Tilex in hand, I spray like a maniac, and moments later, I am fungus-free. But one day, I happened to lift up the rubber bath mat in the kids’ bathroom to rinse the tub after one of them took a particularly filthy bath, and saw black. Literally.The bottom of this formerly white bath mat was covered in a living, breathing black mold that pretty much, completely grossed me out.Now I don’t gross out easily. I routinely have to clean up after a dog, a lizard and a chinchilla, not to mention two kids and a husband, so being grossed out is something I’ve gotten used to. But this bath mat was beyond grossness. It was the bath mat from the black lagoon. An entire civilization of stinky fungus breeding in my bathtub. Mutant mold from outer space. I was sure if I didn’t get rid of it immediately, it would continue to multiply and grow until it enveloped my entire bathroom, then my house, and eventually, the world. Yes, it was my duty, as a member of the human race to kill it. Of course, at this point in the story, you’re probably wondering how, as a world-class homemaker, I managed to miss the underside of my kids’ bathmat?I didn’t. The cleaning ladies did. I assumed they were routinely scouring under the bath mat and then returning it to its original location.But as Felix so wisely once said to Oscar in The Odd Couple, “When You ‘Assume,’ you make an Ass of U and Me!”OK, so I’m an ass. And an ass with a disgusting bathmat, to boot. But rather than dwell on unconstructive negative self-blame, I decided to harness that self-disgust into some positive mold-ridding energy.So first I broke out the Tilex.(Note to self: Write letter to Tilex people that product doesn’t work on Mutant Mold from Outer Space).So then I tried some scouring powder. But still some of the mold survived the attack.(Note to self: Soft Scrub with Bleach stains expensive clothing).So then I whined.“I can’t get rid of the mold on the bathmat,” I cried to my husband one day.He gave me a blank stare.“So spend, what, like 79 cents and buy a new one,” he said matter-of-factly.“No, I like this one. And it’s not about the money, anyway,” I protested. “I have to save this bathmat… and the world.”Another blank stare. I forgot… the mold may be from outer space, but men are from Mars and there was no way my husband was going to be able to process the magnitude of my crisis unless there was a trip to the hardware store involved.In desperation, I finally dumped the bathmat into the washing machine with detergent, bleach, and any other cleaning products I had in the laundry room that looked toxic; turned on the hot water, and waited.Half an hour later I took out the bathmat and the mold was gone,So was most of the bathmat.Pristine white and riddled with holes: It was now a bath-net.I appeared before my husband, sweaty and disheveled from my ordeal, clothes stained with scouring powder residue, holding the remains of my former bathmat.“I got good news and bad news,” I told my husband. “The good news is I got the mold off the bathmat.”“Thank God!!” he exclaimed in mock excitement.“The bad news is I killed the bath mat.”“Sorry to hear that,” he said mournfully. “But at least I saved us from the mutant mold,” I said cheerfully.He eyed me fearfully. “Great. But now who’s going to save us from you?” ©2006, Beckerman. All rights reserved. For more LOST IN SURBURBIA columns, go to

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Escort Service

I run a personal escort service. Okay, get your mind out of the gutter. It's not that kind of business. I'm my four year old son's personal escort. If he has an urge to go to the bathroom in a restaurant right when our food arrives, he glances at me, his personal escort and declares, "Mommy, take me to the bathroom!" Sure my husband is sitting right next to him and can take him to the men's room, but no, I'm the lucky chaperone who gets to escort him to the loo and wipe his cute behind since he always saves the number twos for me. But the personal escort service doesn't stop at the bathroom. I have also found myself escorting him to the basement, the pantry, his bedroom, the toy chest, you name it and I've been there with my little companion. Don't get me wrong. I love spending time with him but it's getting to the point where he needs to start being a little more independent. Mommy does not have to escort you to the bathroom in the house when she's literally 10 feet away on the couch and can monitor your every move. I've even gone so far as to offer monetary compensation if he takes a trip to the bathroom without me as his tour guide. The tactic worked and so far I'm out one dollar. Today, after I walked him downstairs and then took him to the bathroom he said, "Mommy, does Superman go to the bathroom by himself?" I thought for a moment and replied, "Absolutely, nobody has to take Superman to the bathroom, he can go by himself." My son thought for a moment and then said, "Okay, then if Superman can do it, so can I. You can go sit down now Mommy." Hmmm...maybe we're onto something. Maybe I can finally close my shingle on my personal escort service. "Mommy...come take me to the kitchen," I hear from the other room. Wishful thinking. Back on duty.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Guilt Trip

Just returned from a business trip where I was away from my family for three whole days, got the chance to sleep in a king-sized-bed and worked out at the gym at the crack of dawn, because no one was screaming for me to race to their bedside and escort them to the bathroom. I have to admit, as much as I miss my kids while I take my annual trip across the country, I do enjoy the quiet time, the full night's sleep and the chance to spend five un-interrupted hours reading an entire book without the incessant call of "mommy, mommy, mommy," droning over and over inside my head. While I'd hate to be on the road and away from my kids on a regular basis, a random trip here and there does the mind and body good. I can now finally say I've read a book on Oprah's list...the Kite Runner. Sure she recommended it over a year ago, but thanks to my mini-trip away from home, I was finally able to cross one must-read off my to-do my list!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

LOST IN SUBURBIA™ by Tracy Beckerman...Greetings From Disney World©

Walt Disney was mistaken. It is NOT a small world after all. If the line to get into Space Mountain is any indication, it is a big, BIG world. And everyone who lives in it, it seems, is waiting to get on this ride. Yes, we are in the happiest place on Earth. That is, if your idea of a good time is to stand on line with hundreds of kids melting down from hunger, exhaustion and overstimulation. I should have known I was in trouble when my sister-in-law with whom we are traveling (and a respected Disney-veteran) told me we had to call for reservations for a character breakfast 3 months, 2 hours and 30 minutes to the day before the breakfast we wanted. And when I called 3 months, 2 hours and 45 minutes ahead of the date, they were already completely booked. Honestly, I didn’t have this much trouble getting a reservation at the White House. Then the happy folks at Disney called me a month before our trip to tell us that they canceled our reservation at the Caribbean Beach Resort. “We’re sorry. We decided to close that resort for renovations the week that you’re planning to be here.” “But I made those reservations last January,” I protested. “Its not a problem,” she said cheerfully. “We can put you up at another Moderate resort instead.” “Oh no. If you cancel my reservation, you can put me up at the Grand Floridian!” I must have been on speakerphone. I heard laughing in the background. “Port Orleans is nice,” she said. “I’m sure you and your husband and two kids will be very comfortable in our cramped 10x10 foot rooms with two double beds and a trundle and you should be grateful that we’re not booking you into the trailer park next to the petting zoo because you paid for this trip with frequent flier miles which basically means no money for us.” O.K. she didn’t say that. But that was pretty much what was going on. At this point, I figured we’d only be in the rooms to sleep, so what’s the difference anyway. And so we went. And by day 3, I was convinced that if one more person wished me a magical day, I was going to punch them in the face. “Sorry. The Peter Pan ride is closed for repairs, but have a magical day.” “Sorry. Your daughter’s not tall enough to go on this ride that she’s been waiting for three days to go on. but have a magical day.” “Sorry. You have a regular park hopper pass and you need an ultimate park hopper pass to get into this attraction, otherwise it’s $40 per person… but have a magical day.” Is it any wonder Disney is losing money? I finally decided that I needed an attitude adjustment if I was going to make it through two more theme parks, another character dinner, and the Hoop-dee-doo revue (don’t ask). So I did what any sane mother would do. I bought Mickey Mouse ears, ate Mickey Mouse Pancakes, and told my kids if they didn’t stop whining and have a good time, next year we would spend our vacation at the Mall. Thus, the whining ceased, temporarily of course, and we all started to have a good time. By the end of each day, my children, covered in goo from the countless ice pops, gummy things, and fried who-knows-whats we fed then as we waited on the lines, fell asleep on the bus, dreaming of Buzz and Woody, beauties and beasts, and seven assorted dwarfs. Five days later, we’re back home. As I tuck my son into bed, I ask him, “So, do you miss Disney?” “Nah. It was fun, but it’s good to be home.” Amen to that. Oh, and have a magical day. ©2006, Beckerman. All rights reserved. For more LOST IN SURBURBIA columns, click here.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

L.A. Weight Gain

Week four of my latest diet conquest and I'm still hungry and have lost a total of three pounds. They told me I'd reach my goal within eight weeks and they're obviously certifiably insane. I'm following it as best I can, going hungry for most of the day and despising the gallons of water I'm drinking every other minute. And then, when I go for my weekly weigh-ins, the nutrition counselor is surprised that I haven't lost an ounce. I'm a serial dieter...which means my body is so used to my yo-yo nutrition plan that it feels like it's in combat. Cut my calorie intake in half, and look, nothing happens. Constipated...think a few fiber chews or fish oil pills will get the system going, well think again. Don't mess with the serial dieter. I'm sticking with the extra 10 pounds I've got stuck on my thighs and no one will shake them loose. Will I ever be thin again? Probably not, but I'm not giving least not this week...I've got two days to go before I step on the scale - I better go drink a gallon of water so I can finally lose more than a half a pound.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Necklace

Want to know one way you can tell that you're the parent or grandparent of a child who is going to day camp this summer? The beaded necklace. I thought I was the only one who has been wearing my four year old's prized creation for me this week but suddenly I realized, I was not alone. When Dylan noticed I had sneakily slipped it back in my purse, he demanded I put in on and wear it out in public. And so I did, as we went for breakfast this morning at our local diner. While we dined on the omelette specials and the kids sipped their chocolate milk, I looked out by the counter and noticed an older woman wearing a necklace just like mine. And then, when I walked to the bathroom with my son, I was met by several knowing smiles. Yes, I'm sure all these moms have these necklaces at home, I just have a very insistant little man who won't let me take it off. Long live the plastic beaded goes with any long as you have bright orange, yellow and hot pink in your wardrobe!

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