Monthly Archives: February 2013

“Eat the spaghetti, it’s about to go bad”

I have eight siblings, and in talking to others from large families, I’ve discovered some commonalities to our respective childhoods: Hand-me-down clothes, waiting for the bathroom, sharing bedrooms. Likewise, the large-family phenomenon played out in the kitchen with certain reliable themes: Going out to eat was extremely rare and special (too expensive), there was a ubiquitous stack of white bread on the table for every dinner (aka: filler) and we all remember waking up early to snag the prize from the Apple Jacks (or even to get a bowl of Apple Jacks, since any sugared cereal would be consumed in half an hour and anyone who overslept was relegated to Wheaties instead).


Electrocuted hot dogs, anyone?

While I experienced all of these things in my youth, this wasn’t my experience throughout my entire childhood. That’s because I occupy a spot toward the end of my sibling line-up: Eight of Nine (not to be confused with Seven of Nine from Star Trek). There have been some unique benefits from holding this place in the family, as well as some drawbacks. For one, I’m a pretty decent cook. My mother—who was a devoted homemaker for most of my older siblings—joined the workforce when my younger brother and I were in elementary school. So, as latchkey kids, we learned to cook earlier than many of our sibs. In fact, the baby is a rather accomplished chef. (It’s fun to think I knew him when his favorite kitchen appliance was the Presto Hot Dogger!)

So, I learned to cook at a young age. And, because I come from a large-family, I have a special skill for being able to cook decent food in large quantities. I can host Thanksgiving for 25 people without breaking a sweat—heck, I cooked my first Thanksgiving dinner of that size at the tender age of 17. (My parents were lined up to host, but my mother was sick that year, so I assumed the role of Head Chef.) I generally don’t break a sweat unless the guest list exceeds 50.

Part of this is due to my upbringing, but part of it is practicality—after all, it takes approximately the same amount of time and effort to make a 11×14 lasagna as a 9×9 lasagna, for example. In addition, it’s more economical to make, say, five pounds of pasta salad instead of one.

So I learned this particular skill from my mother, but there was a dark side to this cooking abundance. My mom never managed to adjust her cooking style to her shrinking family. Which means my little brother and I often heard the headline of this article (but you can substitute any number of foods for the word “spaghetti”) whenever we asked the dreaded, “What’s for dinner?” question in our teen years. He and I still laugh about this, but my older siblings can’t relate. Leftovers never lasted long enough to “go bad” in their day.

Which brings us to the present. I have three kids, so I became accustomed to cooking my usual “large batch” of whatever and putting half of it in the freezer. When we frequently ate family dinners and my son was going through his rabid-wolverine-growth-spurt phase as a teen, this method of cooking served us well. But now, with one kid away at school and the other two grown and rarely eating meals at home, I find myself throwing out perfectly delicious food—because it just isn’t being eaten before it starts to spoil.

It’s clear I need to learn a whole new method of cooking, but I think part of the problem is letting go of big family meals. I don’t want to admit that those days of the five of us gathered in the kitchen, comparing our busy days, and joking around–instead of a stack of white bread, our meals were always accompanied by much laughter–are over now, except for special occasions and holidays.

Perhaps instead of splitting my large batches into freezer portions of two five-person meals, I need to make five two-person meals. I’m sure I’ll figure it out, but I have to admit that on more than one occasion lately, I’ve pleaded with my own family to “eat the leftovers before they go bad.”  😦

And it all comes tumbling down

I am tired, and when I get tired things start to drop. It starts with one or two small things. But then the momentum hits, and soon I am buried in a list of have-to-dos that have been missed.

This isn’t my norm. The majority of the time I can go to work and successfully manage an overworked marketing staff that supports six sales divisions. Afterwards, I can come home (down a glass of wine) and transform to mom mode and successfully manage two young children (and a husband) to keep our chaotic household and schedules running fairly smooth. In addition to these major commitments, I get my workouts in, and keep up on emails, finances and my favorite shows. Admittedly when things are up and running, I sometimes impress myself with my seemingly superhuman energy and well-performed juggling act.


But right now I am not keeping up. Things are dropping on every side. I am showing up late and missing school events. (Why is my child always the first to perform? Five minutes later and I would have seen it.) My family is now dressing straight out the hamper of clean clothes that I planned to put away but now is almost empty and it is time to wash everything again. I screwed up a date scheduled with my husband and completely forgot my dad’s birthday. There is a major homework assignment due for my son and I somehow missed the month of preparation available to avoid the last minute crisis and cramming session. And, I have no idea what deadlines I have missed on all of the projects piled on my desk. In the midst of this downpour of dropped balls, workouts don’t stand a chance – though it hasn’t seemed to slow down my eating.

I have been here before, so logically I know it will pass. I will pick myself up, regain my stamina and get back into my rhythm to once again skillfully manage my work/life balance (never really balanced nor manageable – “organized chaos” may be a better description).

But currently the logic of waiting it out seems to be overridden with three intense urges:

  1. Stand in the middle of my living room stomp, cry and scream – throw a full-blown tantrum.
  2. Wiggle my nose like Samantha from Bewitched and magically fix Bewitchedeverything. (I am not as cute as her wiggling my nose. Yes, I have tried in the mirror!)
  3.  Run away (not an option but a blissful fantasy).

So instead, I am trying to take the piece of advice my mom always gives: Just breathe. This may seem easy, but it truly is work for me to try to calm my mind for a minute and take a few deep breathes. But I am willing to try.  Breathe and remember that in a few days I will be in my happy place again. Thank goodness for girlfriends, a cabin and a good local dance bar!

And if this breathing thing doesn’t work, I will continue to just keep topping off my wine glass to help sedate me or I will be joining my daughter in throwing a fit in the living room.

Florida vignettes, part II: Del Boca Vista

So, Dear Readers, you may recall that our Florida story began with a work conference. But after a successful conclusion of that industry event, it was time to leave the luxury resort in Ft. Lauderdale for the second phase of my adventure. Next up? A 3-hour drive to senior-infested Central Florida to visit my beloved parents in their winter haven.

Now, whenever I mention that my parents flock to Florida with the other Minnesota snowbirds, I get the same question, “Is it anything like ‘Del Boca Vista’?” To which I respond, “Yes, but imagine the Costanzas living there instead of the Seinfelds.”

After getting turned around a few times trying to find the route recommended by the GPS function on my iPhone (it seems all of the freeways in Florida are labeled “Florida’s Turnpike”), I pulled into the Carefree Country Club in Winterhaven around five o’clock. The next 48 hours were filled with visiting some of Mom and Dad’s favorite eating establishments (the upside of dining with seniors: I got carded when I ordered a beer), listening to my dad play the organ (unfortunately, he plays about three beats behind the pre-programmed accompaniment) and visiting the local flea market.

I’ll take my fleas to go

A "sharp eye" will spot the transposed letters...

A “sharp eye” spots the knock-off pens

The flea market was interesting. Imagine the 20 worst garage sales you’ve ever been to and string them all together. That was the flea market. One large tent in particular was a veritable treasure trove of shit. Knock-off products of every shape and size jockeyed for the attention of shoppers trying to stretch a fixed income.

I was particularly amused by the “Sharpeis”… Aren’t those the wrinkly dogs? The contrast between that redneck flea market and the oceanfront resort where I had been just one day earlier was both amusing and a bit depressing.

What’s a lifetime of sacrifice worth? Apparently $29.82. 

One of the pleasures of being an adult is the ability to buy your parents a decent meal. I mean, my parents raised NINE children, which obviously entailed a considerable amount of physical and financial sacrifice on their part. As someone farther down the batting order, I know that my existence is more due to the Catholic church’s ruling on birth control than it is based on the fact that my parents really wanted an 8th child/5th daughter. So how does one say, “Hey, thanks for all the love and sacrifice?” Well, in our family, food is always an appropriate way to show love, so my plan was to take my parents out for a nice meal during my visit. Sky’s the limit, I told them. Pick your favorite place. After much debate, Mom chose the local Bob Evans. The tab for the three of us? Under $30–so much for gratitude (I had spent that much just having margaritas on the beach earlier in the week). To be honest, my parents would be appalled to know how much my husband and I regularly spend on eating out, as it contradicts the frugal approach necessitated by raising nine children. But my parents enjoyed their meal, and I, their company. So I guess that’s what really matters.

Check out those gams

Being from a large family, it’s an interesting exercise to speculate on which parental traits have carried through to the next generation.

My mother’s nose is…um…prominent. She inherited it from her father and a couple of my brothers and I inherited it from her. My four sisters all lament the fact that they have no pinky toenail and blame my mother. They all covet my pinky toenail—I guess it comes from Dad. My predilection for colorful phrases comes from my father. My love of reading? That’s Dad, too. My sharp tongue? Weird sense of humor? Mom. And so on…

But check this out:

86 years old!

86 years old!

These are the legs of my 86-year-old father. Not bad, eh? In fact, it’s become a bit of a family joke to kid my father about his gorgeous gams. But seriously, this is an unretouched photo taken from my iPhone last week. Look at those legs! I’m hoping this is one of the physical traits I’ve inherited from Dad (my mother’s legs–having withstood nine pregnancies–naturally show a little more wear and tear). Check back in another four decades or so, and we’ll see whether I won the genetic lottery on legs.

Putting the bite on the sandwich generation

The most difficult part of my visit was revisiting an old argument with my mother: The “It’s-time-to-downsize-and-move-to-an-assisted-living-facility” discussion. The fact is, my parents are no longer able to winter in Florida so far away from the assistance of their kids. My mom has her hands full with my dad, who (in addition to great gams) has dementia and no short-term memory. My siblings and I have jobs and families of our own and can’t always drop everything to help out, although we try our best. We all live in dread of Mom getting sick or hurt, because even the most minor hospitalization would require one of us to immediately fly down there and care for my dad.

My sibs and I would like to planfully arrange for my parents to move into a nice senior apartment where they could retain their independence, yet still have a social life and be able to get help in an emergency–rather than waiting for a health crisis to necessitate an emergency move into whatever substandard place has an opening. Ironically, my father–the so-called demented one–is amenable to this; however, my mother is adamantly opposed to the idea. So we defer to Mom’s wishes and continue to persuade and cajole, but the fact is, we’re stuck. We love our parents tremendously and know that these sacrifices are the ones my siblings and I are required to make in exchange for all those our parents made while raising us. As much as I wish otherwise, dinner at Bob Evans just won’t settle that debt.

Florida vignettes, part I: The work chronicles

I recently returned from a trip to Florida. An industry conference brought me to The Sunshine State and since my folks spend their winters there, I tacked on a couple of days to visit them. This trip produced a number of blog-worthy moments. But many of them could be considered incriminating to myself or others, so I’m just going to share with you some random and relatively harmless vignettes.

A room with a view

Generally, when I travel for work, I end up in a room overlooking a rooftop and related heating and cooling systems or perhaps hotel rooms in another wing of the hotel.

Room with a view

Room with a view

This was my view on this trip. Beautiful, right? And even better, I could leave the drapes open the whole time and wake up to the gorgeous sunrise. (Okay, someone on a passing tanker or cruise ship may have caught a glimpse of my naked-out-of-the-shower self, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.)

First-world problems

A consistent problem when I travel is what to do about my caffeine addiction. As you may have gathered from my confession about drinking coffee in the shower, I need my morning cuppa merely to cope with the onerous task of getting showered and dressed. I’m also very particular about my joe. My standard coffee is a dark roast, brewed strong (brewed coffee should be completely opaque), diluted with a generous splash of half-and-half, with the addition of a teaspoon of sugar (regular old sugar, not some new-fangled substitute) and a teaspoon of Ghirardelli ground chocolate. Sugar and chocolate are optional (though preferred), but half-and-half is not (although cream, whipped cream and ice cream can be used in a pinch). Bailey’s is also an acceptable substitute, but not recommended on workdays.

A coffee shelf!

A coffee shelf!

So how do I make-do with in-room coffee? I put two pods into the single-serving machine for a nice espresso-like base and, thankfully, Westins provide real half-and-half vs. the wretched powder. In fact, after two days of noticing me using up all four little containers, the maid got wise and left me six. (I left a good housekeeping tip in exchange for this thoughtfulness.)

And guess what? This Westin even had a coffee shelf in the shower!

Miami Vice: A classy joint

At our industry conferences, we typically host dinners for clients and prospects and this event was no exception. The last evening, we hosted a large dinner party. We had rented out the lounge of a fine-dining establishment and planned a generous menu of wine, seafood and other delights. For transportation, our event manager arranged for pontoon boats to shuttle guests to the restaurant along the intercoastal waterway, so everyone could enjoy the beautiful evening and see the various mansions that line the route. Everything was carefully planned to ensure a lovely evening.

Being on the first pontoon to arrive at the restaurant, I ducked off the boat and headed to the restroom to see how windblown my hair was after the boat ride. That’s when things took an interesting turn. I opened the ladies room door to two strippers changing clothes. How do I know they were strippers? Well, to be honest, I’m merely making a judgment based on visual evidence: Fur thigh-high boots, sequined bra, hot pants. You decide.

Our intention was to provide a first-class experience for our guests, so this was an unexpected wrinkle. I stood outside the restroom sending panicky texts to our event planner and sales staff. I wasn’t sure whether they were changing into or out of the attire mentioned earlier, and I was trying to decide whether I should act shocked or amused if the women walked out in full regalia and were spotted by our guests. But eventually the ladies left in their street clothes (vs. street walker clothes) and I breathed a sigh of relief. Crisis averted.

However, that introduction set the tone for the rest of our party. From what we could gather, the restaurant is frequented by those in the import/export business (wink, wink) and their regulars are accustomed to living large. The cars in the parking lot were a motorhead’s fantasy and the bar tab for the 60-person private party in the next room totaled $50k according to the waitstaff. (That’s $833+ per person, if anyone cares to do the math.)

Oysters were served in a giant tub, shrimp cocktail appeared on a ceramic elephant two-feet high, and desserts were served out of a giant silver spoon. (The same size as the tacky wooden one in my mother’s kitchen!) Everything was completely over-the-top in the blingiest, Miami Vice sort of way. Ironically, the whole experience became the night’s entertainment–an unexpected bonus. The food was great, our guests were jovial and a good time was had by all.

After the conference ended, I spent an afternoon on the beach with a few coworkers and clients to rest up for the second half of my Florida adventure–a visit with my elderly parents in the heart of the state. Stay tuned for part II…

Eventually you hit a wall

I hit a wall!

Now with my home and work schedule–multiple lists of tasks that need to get done, self-imposed deadlines, staying on top of an insane workload, ensuring the kids’ homework and activities don’t get missed, and continuing to maintain a fairly active social life–it seems evident that I would eventually hit a wall. But this was an actual, not metaphorical, wall, and I hit it with my forehead.

Though klutzy and stupid, you may not see this as a big deal. Who doesn’t trip or stumble here and there? But what started out as a not-bright move, not only created a visual crime scene effect with all the blood, it also left me with a concussion and whole new way of living (for a week).

Before, I delve into my experience with a different brain, I will answer the question I got a lot: How in the world did you run into a wall? It was night, I was checking on my daughter. I even thought to myself, “Perhaps I should turn on the hall light.” I didn’t (the thought of waking up a sleeping child deterred me). And a second later, I was stopped in my tracks by the corner of the wall.

After a few minutes to realize what happened and that my head was a bloody mess, I called for my husband. In return, I recieved an annoyed voice from upstairs complaining that he was in bed and to stop hollering at him. Even in my pain, I took some pleasure knowing he would pay for that when he saw what a mess I was. (Admittedly, I probably would have pretended I couldn’t even hear him if tables were turned.) Well, after I got my heartfelt apology and was cleaned up, I went to bed with one wish on my mind – please no scar!

The next morning, minus the throbbing head, I couldn’t believe my luck. The wound was hidden in my eyebrow. All was fine and off I went to a crazy day ahead, packed with meetings.

After a few dizzy spells running between meetings, a pounding headache, and a complete lack of being able to focus or provide any meaningful input, I realized I was off my game. I functioned better after a night with one, or a few, glasses of wine too many. I mentioned the hit to my boss who pointed out that she wondered what was up when I kept inserting out-of-place words in my sentences and told me to get it checked out. Diagnosis: mild concussion.

The fix was simple. Get some rest and your brain will heal. And, actually it wasn’t even a choice. Like a broken foot where you just can’t walk on it, my brain was calling it quits, which included:

  1. Any conversation that was too long or complicated, I would forget what I was saying or start stumbling for words. It doesn’t take long for people to stop talking to you much or for you to avoid conversations that would get you raised eyebrow stares. It was a very quiet, peaceful week.
  2. Anything that was multiple steps went painfully slow as I had to keep thinking of what I had already done and then what was still left to do. After one time of trying to prove I was capable of making a recipe I gave up in defeat. I didn’t try any projects that my five-year-old couldn’t easily do. And, actually a Dora the Explorer puzzle would have been way above my ability.
  3. There was no chance of doing two things at once. Multitasking skills were completely gone. It was like walking around with my husband’s brain. I couldn’t do wash, talk on the phone and pick up toys at the same time. So I steadily just worked through the task at hand. Boy, it must be nice to live like that always.
  4. I could easily forget what I had just done. I could spend minutes trying to remember if I put creamer in my coffee or why I opened the refrigerator. I was continually retracing my steps to figure out what my goal was. Eventually, you just make sure you aren’t doing much.
  5. I slept. I headed to bed between eight and nine, saying goodnight before the kids were tucked in. I would sleep ten solid hours a night. On the weekend I would get up and enjoy some coffee and a couple hours and then head back for a nap. This is from a girl who is usually thrilled to get five straight hours in a night.
  6. I had no strong emotion. I could get agitated easily but everything was more of an annoyance than an issue. I let things go quickly if they bugged me (not usually a trait of mine). I found myself way too sleepy to overanalyze or worry about anything too intensely. Plus, I didn’t seem to have the brain capacity to come up with all my normal imaginary scenarios to agonize about.

Aside from the constant jokes about wearing my helmet, coworkers took my injury in stride. They expected less. They cancelled my meetings. I was able to get some routine things done that had been piling up. My office wasn’t its normal hub of surprise drop-ins to brainstorm the “next best idea.” Everyone wanted me to take it easy. Well that, but after a few stilted conversations with me, most probably figured what was the point?

At home, I napped and didn’t do much else. My family seemed to enjoy me coming home and not pulling out my list of things to do and interrogating each of them if they completed their own lists. With the family conductor absent, we probably missed some things. And they all watched way too much TV as I slept, but I am pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the rest.

I (the me I know) was back today. I knew it during a meeting when I started throwing out ideas – good ones – that would make a project for my already-bogged-down department bigger than originally conceived, while at the same time emailing another idea that came to me to a different department head. My brain’s recovery was confirmed as I walked into my house tonight. As I was poured my glass of wine to help me transition from worker to mother mode, I railed off a list of things we needed to catch up on. I think I heard my husband mumble to the kids, “Mom’s back.” (I am sure he meant it in an adoring way!) But, I was too busy getting things done to have time to question its meaning.

I will say, not expecting a lot of myself (nor fulfilling the expectations of others) was a nice break and the sleeping, a godsend. But, I do prefer my overly active brain and am glad to see it coming quickly back to full speed. Now, if I could only find a healthy way to knock some sense into it, so I could take some needed downtime once in awhile. Another thing for my list!

Do we really need an excuse to party?

The other day, I got an “invitation” in the mail. Party? Fete? Soiree? Gala? Nah, it was an invitation to a direct-selling party. You know: Avon, Tupperware, Silpada, Pampered Chef, Tastefully Simple… There are dozens of versions.

tupperware_party_729-420x0oNow back in the 50s and 60s, direct-selling parties had a practical purpose. When my mother was a young wife, there weren’t nearly as many retail options and many households had only one car. For a young mother, stuck at home with small children, an invitation to a Tupperware party was a welcome opportunity to socialize with “the neighbor ladies” while seeing some innovative new merchandise. Add in some fondue or that nifty lime Jell-o with the shredded carrots and cottage cheese and you’ve got yourself a PAR-TAY!

Fast forward to today: I live in a major metropolitan area a mere four miles from the infamous Mall of America, one of the largest malls in the country. Moreover, I have high-speed Internet—which literally brings a world of merchandise directly to my front door. Access to retail is not a problem for me.

Do I enjoy an evening or afternoon of socializing with other women? Generally, speaking: Yes. So long as they aren’t trying to sell me something.

Although I have a pretty demanding full-time job, I understand the appeal of being an “independent representative” for a direct-selling company–either because your primary job is raising your children, or you just want to make a little extra money on the side. That’s all good. But I don’t understand the party-throwing aspect or the weird sense of obligation women feel to support each other in these efforts. I mean, I work for a company that pays me a bonus based on our revenue numbers, but that doesn’t mean I expect my friends to help me earn my bonus.

Actually, the selling part is fine. And if it’s a product I’m interested in and I want to support my friend, I may even go. But  it’s the obligation-to-buy/attend inherent in so many of these invites that I loathe. I remember an episode many years ago when my children were very small, I was talking with the mother of one of my child’s friends. She said, “I’m planning a girls night party a week from next Thursday, would you like to come?” As a young mom, I didn’t have a lot of friends that were in the same stage of life and welcomed the invitation. So I said, “Sure, it sounds like fun.”

avon-ladyA few days later the invitation arrived—to a party selling overpriced cosmetics! A classic bait-and-switch! I had already said I was free, so what could I do? I went to the party, resentful the entire time, and purchased the only thing that seemed reasonably priced—a clay face mask. (In addition to my aforementioned frugality regarding paid services, I’m also a cheapskate when it comes to cosmetics. Most of my stuff comes from Walgreens or Target.)

I know a lot of women will disagree with me and sincerely welcome the opportunity to attend these parties. But I think the draw for a lot of women is they sincerely enjoy social time with their women friends, but feel guilty about getting together with them. Getting together under the guise of a direct-selling party alleviates the guilt of ditching dad with the kids for an evening, because you’re “supporting a friend’s business venture.” So the subject of this particular rant, er, post is: Why? Why can’t women just get together to socialize without it being related to one of them trying to sell something to the others?

Thankfully, technology has made direct-selling without pressure an easier thing to achieve. These days, items can be sold via catalog parties, online or at an open house where the guests/customers can browse at leisure rather than sitting through a 30-minute pitch and waiting awkwardly for the order form to be passed along.

Again, I’m not bashing the ambition of sisters looking to make an extra buck. Not. At. All. But let’s treat it like a business, not a social event. If you want to get together with your girlfriends—do that. But do it because you work hard (whether in the home or outside of it) and deserve a night of fun–not because you’re one party away from earning the hostess gift.

Where is mom when I need her?

Well I had my blog topic all planned out tonight. It was going to be written between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., after tuck-in, and as I enjoyed a glass of wine and some quiet. Instead, I spent the night consoling a crying nine-year-old who said he wasn’t going to go school anymore because he was being picked on. It is now almost 11:00 p.m., my plan is thrown off, and I am distracted from my original topic.

This was one of those moments I felt totally unprepared to be a mother. Instead of having words of wisdom or advice on how to fix the problem, it took me right back to some memories I’d rather just forget. All I could think was, “Yeah, it sucks and you really can’t stop it. You just have to get through it.” I know, not a very encouraging mom perspective.

Now if you ask me why he got picked on and I told you … you’d say it is pretty silly. Minor stuff. Actually, fairly ridiculous. But if you were ever teased, you know that even someone saying, “You are too smart, pretty and rich,”—when said in a mocking voice—would make you want to give it all up just to fly under the radar. As a kid, you just want to be liked and fit in.


I still clearly remember going into seventh grade, starting at a new school, and a popular girl asking (in a really mean way) if I was wearing eye makeup.  I wasn’t and said so. But sensing my vulnerability, I soon had a group of girls surrounding my desk teasing me for looking like I wore mascara. I went home and cried. Every day, I would walk into that junior high class knowing I had an hour to be tormented for having dark, long lashes. Looking back with my adult brain, I have a ton of comebacks and can’t believe that upset me. But at that time, being singled out in a crowd was devastating. I am not sure I am ready to go back through the emotions of reliving those school years again. Another thing no one warned me about when becoming a parent (an ever-growing list).

So what do you do as a mom? I can’t say it is stupid and just don’t listen to them. (Who doesn’t take it personally when mean things are said about them?) Nor, tell a teacher. (That makes it worse if peers know you snitched.) Or, if you don’t let them see it bothers you, they will stop. (They probably won’t ’til they find someone else to bother.) The truth would be to say: “It is going to hurt like hell and this probably won’t be the only time you go through it.”

So there I sat. I held a crying kid with no words. I knew what not to say and had no idea of the right thing to say. Rack up another mother moment where I just cross my fingers that my kids can get through my lack of suave parenting skills. I swear I remember my parents as all-knowing and full of advice in situations like these, but they probably struggled, too. (And, I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and call my mom and ask what to do!)