Apple Seed

I take full responsibility for the fact that my kids are late adopters of technology.  And while I’d like to say this is because I’d rather them play real sports than wave wands in front of a television screen, the truth is it’s because I’m cheap.

I’ve always been tight with a dollar but when I quit my corporate job the household budget came under new scrutiny and my frugal tendencies kicked into full bloom.  I became the electricity police, trailing behind family members unplugging devices and turning off lights.  I began to consider whether expiry dates might be a suggestion rather than a rule.  And I made every effort to ensure that my kids knew the full cost of things.

“Why can’t we have a pool?” they asked.

“We could have a pool, but Mommy would have to go back to work in order to pay for it.”

Today, Jack and Taylor stroll home after school with their friends, enjoy a homemade snack and plop down in front of the television.  Comparing this to the alternative of a YMCA after school program where chaotic groups of ill-behaved kids amuse themselves until their work-weary parents arrive to pick them up, my point was crystal clear.  A pool wasn’t worth the price.

To drive home the point that life’s extras need to be earned, Craig and I insist that Jack and Taylor save their allowance to purchase their own big ticket items.  Jack eventually saved enough to buy an iPod, and thanks to an infusion of cash a couple of Christmases ago, Taylor was able to purchase her first Lululemon sweater.  But something as expensive as an iPad was out of reach.

That is, until one day a leaflet fluttered out of our community newspaper advertising jobs for carriers in our area.

For a whole year, every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Taylor lugged bundles of newspaper and flyers from the base of our driveway into the house, where she assembled them.  Inky fingerprints dotted our foyer walls and elastics found their way everywhere.  Through all sorts of weather she dutifully delivered papers to 51 houses in our neighbourhood, encountering yappy dogs, terror-inducing bees and a cranky old man who declared, “This rag isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on!”

But when the iPad3 was released this spring, she was finally ready to purchase.  It was a proud day for all of us.  In short order, Taylor accumulated a stunning library of music, photos and unflattering video clips of her family and friends, and mastered a plethora of apps.  She was rarely without her iPad by her side.  It came to Jack’s hockey games.  It went on sleepovers.  And on a family camping trip this summer, she even took it to the beach.

But it’s risky to take a fragile device everywhere you go.  A couple of weeks ago, in a split second of carelessness, Taylor leaned on her precious iPad and sent a spiderweb of cracks across the screen.  She was furious with herself.  Horrified.  And grief stricken.

The web is full of tales of woe from iPad owners who have experienced similar mishaps, and Taylor and I were pleased to discover that many had received remarkable service and sympathy at their local Apple store.  Some even claimed that Apple had replaced their device for free.  Well, what could be more sympathetic than a 12 year old girl who saved for a year to purchase her own iPad, only to have it meet this untimely demise?

So off we went to our nearest Apple store, conveniently located 35km away, to plead our case.

The store’s sleek design dazzled us, as did the table groups of Apple devotees raptly absorbing information from user tutorials.  Employees strode purposefully past us, and Taylor and I paused for a moment in the midst of all this activity wondering what we should do.   Was there some sort of secret signal we were supposed to make to indicate that we needed service?

We cautiously approached a rectangular table at the back of the store where a number of employees were talking to each other.  After some time, I found a break in their conversation and interjected.

“I’m wondering if someone can help me.”

“Do you have an appointment?”

“What?”

It had never crossed my mind that I’d need an appointment to ask a question in a retail store.

“I really just wanted to speak to someone about my daughter’s iPad.  She cracked the screen the other day.”

“You need to see someone at the Genius Bar about that.  We don’t have any appointments today but I could fit you in tomorrow afternoon.”

Genius Bar?  Really?  I mean, I know Steve Jobs was really full of himself but isn’t it a bit of a stretch to start calling the guys who work here geniuses?  What do they make; maybe $15 an hour?  I began to wonder if I might be on some kind of candid camera show.

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware I’d need an appointment… and we’ve traveled a bit of a distance to get here.  We can’t come back tomorrow afternoon; my daughter will be in school.”

“You could try the Burlington store.”

“I guess I don’t understand why someone who is here right now can’t answer our question.”

With a heavy sigh, he turned to one of three employees next to him, who were leaning idly against the table.  “Can you deal with these people?”

In the end, I suppose we got the information we needed.  No free replacement.  No interest in hearing our tale of woe.  No sympathy for the little girl who saved for a year, only to see the fruits of her labour damaged in a split second of poor judgement.

The cost of repair was close to the cost of a new iPad, and came with a stern warning that we really should purchase AppleCare to protect us from such mishaps, and a ‘tut tut’ that we didn’t do so the first time around.  The sad fact was that Taylor didn’t have enough money in her bank account to pay for the repair that Apple offered, never mind the extra cost of AppleCare.

The whole experience left us feeling somewhat sour.

A non-Apple repair shop is a less expensive option that Taylor has enough money for today, but with a bit of time to think it over she’s not sure it’s worth it.  Right now she’s thinking she’ll keep her money in the bank and work around the cracked screen.

My tree.  My little apple.

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Krazy Times in Talent Management

I knew a guy in high school whose Mother made a small fortune in the bingo dabber industry; further evidence that timing is everything.

In the small city where I grew up in the 1980’s, the Bingo destination of choice was a place called Bingotown.  It was a clever re-invention of our local roller skating rink, previously known as (go figure) Rollertown, and in order to take full advantage of the smooth floors and supplies on hand, bingo card sellers cruised from table to table on roller skates.  A good friend of mine worked for years as a seller, hoping to eventually make the big time and call the numbers from the repurposed DJ booth.  The callers were duller than a busted pencil, laboriously drawing balls from the basket and reading the numbers in monotone.  Memories of Ben Stein as the teacher in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, “Beuller…………. Beuller………… Beuller.”  Yawn!

In those days the majority of Bingo patrons were over-accessorized female chain smokers.  The cigs had taken their toll over time, littering ladies with premature wrinkles, yellow-stained index fingers and hoarse voices.  But hope sprung eternal at the bingo hall, where stiff looking hands moved swiftly to mark the numbers on a stunning number of cards often masking taped to the surface of the table and usually surrounded by Troll dolls, rabbits feet and other talismans. The silence was deafening save for the odd hacking cough, until a lone voice would finally call “Bingo!” and the hall would erupt with the crumpling of hundreds of paper cards being discarded in frustration.  The whole affair was somewhat depressing.

But thanks to Krazy D, the game of Bingo has been re-invented at Fern Resort.

I’ve written about Fern before.  It’s our family’s favourite summer holiday destination and it’s a resort like no other.

At 4:15pm almost every day, the barbeque gazebo crackled with excitement in anticipation of the appearance of Krazy D and his bingo bucket.  The chance to win a Fern T-shirt is likely what drew guests to show up in the first place but it was Krazy D that kept them coming back.  He is the anti-thesis of the Bingotown callers.  In his trademark sunglasses and bright yellow ‘SPORTS’ staff shirt, Krazy D put on a show like nothing you’ve ever seen before.  There is yelling, there is jumping and when we’re down to fewer than ten balls left in the full card game Krazy D hoists the cage of balls over his head and gives it an enthusiastic shake.

“Am I not calling good numbers?!!!   What number do you want me to call?!”

The crowd’s thundering response shakes the panes of glass of the gazebo.  Even the shyest child and his most infirm looking grandpa can’t help but respond by shouting out the number they’re waiting for.

“Moving over to the Bad Boy line… B12!  You don’t like that number?!  Under the Oh Canada line, O trickety trick….. O66!”

There’s no dispute that Krazy D is a national treasure when it comes to bingo callers.  And that his approach to the game is exactly on target with Fern Resort’s philosophy of offering activities that unite the community of guests through a memorable and shared experience.  But that’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of his talent.

By day he is Devon.  For years he worked in the Junior kids program, leading gaggles of starry eyed 7-9 year olds from one fun activity to another so their parents could enjoy some couple-time.  But at 3pm his alter ego ‘Krazy D’ would emerge.   As poolside DJ, he knitted together popular songs to draw even the laziest lounge chair guests into a toe tapping, head bobbing groove.  He taught dance steps on the pool deck, attracting people of all shapes, sizes and abilities.  At 3:45 pm the shallow end of the pool filled to capacity with grinning participants standing shoulder to shoulder for his Aquafit class.

But Krazy D was most in his element performing in the weekly staff lip sync show where he showed us all what dancing really looks like.  One year he managed to perform Usher so flawlessly that one young girl asked for a picture and an autograph.

This summer when we arrived at Fern for our first dinner, we spotted Devon waiting on a table nearby.  He was wearing a dining hall uniform, sans-sunglasses, but this disguise didn’t fool Jack for a minute.

“There’s Krazy D!” he whispered.

It was like seeing Brad Pitt at the grocery store.  Thrilling and surreal.

So imagine our horror when we learned that Krazy D was gone from the sports staff, having taken a permanent role in the dining room.  There would be no more Krazy D T-shirt bingo.  There would be no more poolside dance instruction.  There would be no more spirited Aquafit and no Krazy D performance in the staff lip sync show.

Our only chance to see Krazy D this year was in the 10:45 am Fern Bucks bingo game, a time slot that conflicted with many other activities on the daily schedule.  This game had always drawn smaller crowds, due in part by the fact that the duty of caller was assigned to plain, old, dining room staff.  But this year we made a point of going, desperate for a fix of Krazy D.

The rumour mill among guests immediately began to churn.  What happened to Krazy D?  Midway through the week we learned that in fact Devon had resigned.  Emotion caught in his throat when he announced to the 10:45 bingo crowd that after six years as part of the Fern family, Sunday would be his last day.  A collective gasp registered in the barbeque gazebo.

“No more Crazy D?  What are we going to do without him?  How could Fern let this happen?”

While the nature of the resort business dictates that much of the staff will be transient, with young people working on the resort through their university years but moving on to careers elsewhere when they graduate, we had all hoped that Devon would be a permanent fixture.  He had left his home in Jamaica and moved to Canada year round.  He had gotten married and had a young child here.  The head of Sports, Mike Stewart, has been with the resort for more than thirty years, and so we thought it possible that Krazy D might be around for thirty more.

Exceptional staff that love their work exist in almost every business, but all too often they reach a point where their needs are no longer being met by the companies they work for.  Sometimes it’s money.  Sometimes it’s work/family balance.  Sometimes it’s the opportunity to grow and evolve their role in the organization.  And sometimes it’s a little of all three.

In my prior life, I often engaged in debates with upper management as to the degree to which staff are replaceable.  In general, I have found that management doesn’t fully appreciate the contributions of exceptional staff.  It’s a topic I touched upon in a post I wrote about Undercover Boss.  And the real shame is when companies let these special individuals slip through their fingers over a relatively small increase in pay, or a little flexibility when it comes to working hours.

Having held a seat in management for a number of years, I appreciate the company’s concern about precedent setting.  It was an objection often raised when women expressed a desire to work fewer days a week in exchange for a cut in pay.

“If we let her work four days, then all the women with kids will want the same.”

Well maybe not all, but probably many.

Although in a non-union environment there is no legal risk, perhaps employers simply don’t want to have the tough conversations with employees whose performance doesn’t merit special accommodations.  They’re afraid that non-star employees will flee as a result.  So the logic is, that we’d rather have one star employee leave than a bunch of average employees leave… but isn’t the average employee easier to replace than the star employee?

Perhaps instead of fleeing the company in droves, the average employees might up their game and try to meet the bar set by star employees in an effort to earn some perks of their own.  And if this happened and the entire staff turned into a flock of star employees would this really be such a problem?  Couldn’t a company like this have enough competitive advantage in the marketplace that they might be able to afford to give a greater number of employees a little more of what they want in terms of pay and working arrangements?

Sunday was Krazy D’s last bingo game at Fern.  He offered up three of his bright yellow ‘SPORTS’ staff t-shirts as special prizes to those who could answer Krazy D trivia questions.  Partway through the full card game, some co-workers dropped by to say goodbye and tears were shed by all.

I-25 came out as a choked sob and Devon had to walk away to collect himself.  It was clear that he loved his years at Fern, he loved being the best Bingo caller ever, and he loved all of us.  He didn’t want to go.

But he did.

The Key to Walking a Tightrope? Stay Flexible!

We were there.  We saw him cross the falls, mist swirling and floodlights streaming, step by step across a treacherous steel cable.

It’s only by coincidence that we caught the spectacle live.  The Williams family doesn’t go for crowds.  Even the fall fair in tiny, Paris Ontario tested the limits of our comfort zone, with sticky neighbours pressing against us on the wooden bleachers at the demolition derby.  We would never be one of those enthusiastic families dragging picnic baskets and blankets down to the edge of the falls a day in advance to stake out our viewing area, only to end up standing shoulder to shoulder with the masses when Nik finally took his first step.

Many months ago, Jack’s baseball team registered for a tournament in Niagara Falls for the Father’s Day weekend, and locked in a block of rooms at $129 a night.  When Wallenda announced the date of his highwire walk we were thrilled at the thought of seeing it live.  But when the time came, we were tempted to watch the whole thing on TV from the comfort of our hotel room.  With the streets around our hotel closed to traffic, we were tired from the walk to and from our Friday night game.  Lugging camp chairs, bottled water and baseball gear 1.5 kilometers wasn’t a huge deal, but the detour to Dairy Queen for a celebratory Blizzard on the way back had left us dozy.  It was 9pm and surely all the best viewing spots near the falls were taken.

Our hotel room offered no view.  In fact, someone joked that the name of the hotel might have been more aptly named the “Wallsview.”  But on the 33rd floor there was a restaurant that advertised a spectacular view.  We arrived at 9:45 pm, just half an hour before the Wallenda walk would begin, and secured the last table for four.  On an ordinary evening, our shorts and t-shirts might have been a bit out of place in this upscale restaurant, but that night the patrons were abuzz with excitement over an impossibly long wire strung across the thundering falls.   Unfortunately the staff was not at all comfortable with the carnival atmosphere that had emerged in sharp contrast to white linen tablecloths and candlelight.

When people stood up from their seats to sneak a peek out the window, the hostess frowned.  When kids had the audacity to take a step away from their table, waitstaff complained loudly about serving hazards.  And when three starry eyed young boys were invited by a family with an excellent tableside view to stand next to the glass, the manager stepped in and shooed them away.

Our waitress audibly sighed when we ordered wine, soup, salad and a couple of kids’ meals.

Why do staff at upscale restaurants feel that it’s appropriate to make certain patrons feel unworthy?

Years ago, Craig and I went to Oliver’s, an Oakville dining landmark, to celebrate our anniversary.  In this case the server was an older gentleman who literally looked down his nose at us, through half closed eyes as we placed our order.  Unlike our Niagara Falls experience, we were dressed to the nines and spared no expense in our order.  I’m unsure whether it was our age, or some other secret ‘tell’ that led him to believe we weren’t fine dining regulars, but it was clear that he judged us to be beneath the standards of his precious restaurant.  After the appetizer course, he made a huge deal of bringing a silver brush and dustpan to our table and spent what felt like an eternity sweeping up every breadcrumb that had strayed from my plate in my apparently boorish consumption of a very crusty roll.

This is different surly service from what we regularly encountered at one of our favourite Bronte Village haunts: La Parisienne.  At this artery clogging (but incredibly delicious) crepe restaurant, the owner does the serving while his wife does the cooking.  He is brisk and impatient and you can usually hear him arguing loudly with his wife behind the kitchen door, but in this case it’s all part of the charm.  You don’t take it personally; he treats everyone this way.  They are real French, from France, after all.

The transitory nature of Niagara Falls hotel restaurant patrons will likely keep this business alive for years to come, but I worry about the Oliver’s Restaurants of the world.  Walking the tightrope of razor thin margins, most foodservice ventures can’t afford bad reviews from ANYONE.

Our restaurant had an opportunity to demonstrate some flexibility in how they catered to the needs of their customers last Friday night.  On the night Wallenda made his incredible journey across the raging falls, the staff of a restaurant filled with excited people of all ages could have chosen to demonstrate some flexibility.  Trying to force fit this round group of customers into the square hole of a typical fine dining experience was a mistake.  And they missed a rare opportunity to knit their business into their patrons’ memory of this historic evening in a positive way.

As is, whenever the topic of Wallenda comes up, I’ll likely say:  “We saw it live.  It was INCREDIBLE!  But we had this snotty waitress…”

This is What Happens When Worlds Collide

One year ago today, momversusmarketer was born.  Like all milestones, it seems like I was slugging it out on the elliptical just yesterday when the idea hit me.  On the other hand I find it hard to picture a time before the blog existed.  With 34 posts under my belt, I’ve covered a lot of territory.  Everything from strategic commentary on RIM’s management re-structure to personal reflections on my Mother’s life and the lessons she taught me.

Before I quit my corporate job, I kept my work-self and my home-self pretty separate from each other.  But now, working on marketing consulting projects at my dining room table with a load of laundry tumbling around in the background, my worlds collide.

And it’s not just me.  The digital age is bringing all of us together in new and sometimes uncomfortable ways.

I heard a debate recently over whether it was appropriate for a company to demand access to a potential employee’s facebook profile as a condition of employment.  As you can imagine, the candidate was hesitant to grant this access.  What if someone, somewhere in the annals of the monolith that is facebook, tagged a photo of her from years gone by wearing a wet t-shirt and drinking beer from a funnel?  Would it cost her the job?  As long as she didn’t wear that wet t-shirt to work, or drink beer from a funnel at the company picnic, it shouldn’t be a problem, right?  But the nagging question is whether or not the company would be willing to see beyond the photo and trust that most people have the good sense to know there is a time and a place for this sort of thing.

We worry that a temporary lapse in judgement will be taken out of context and used against us.

While working as a waitress at Pizza Chief one summer, I deeply regret the angle at which I was holding a young family’s pizza while focussed the jug of root beer I was placing down.  Much to my horror, the pizza slid from the pan onto their table, partially upside down in the ashtray.  With two hungry kids and a 1980’s industrial oven that required 20 minutes to produce a fresh pizza, the mother chose to brush off the ashes and eat the messy pie rather than wait for another.  Imagine the YouTube potential had all this been caught on video!  Most restaurant servers have at least one embarrassing story to tell, but what if all these mis-steps were posted for pre-employment scrutiny?  Would we eventually all end up having to dine out buffet style?

Transparency is something we demand of corporations, something we desire of our government and something that we count on in our closest relationships.  But when it comes to our interaction with the world at large, transparency makes us vulnerable and that can be scary.  By far the most frightening blogs I posted over the past year were the ones about my Mom.  After posting each one, I closely monitored my readership statistics.  I could see that people were reading them but the posts received no comments.  I worried that my brothers had taken issue with how I described our Mother.  I worried that my business colleagues were thinking that the disciplined business professional they once knew, had into a sappy navel-gazer.

Interestingly, although the online comments were thin, I have since learned that these were some of my readers’ favourite posts.    In writing these pieces, I exposed a part of myself that few had seen before.  Private thoughts turned public.  People got a more complete picture of who I am, where I came from and the experiences that shaped my whole person.  And having this insight has made all my writing a little more interesting to read.

So perhaps more transparency is a good thing.  Sharing our flawed human experience can help us connect to each other.  It can give us broader insights that might make us more forgiving of future mistakes.  And knowing that passing words and actions can have permanence in today’s digital age may even contribute to increased civility at large, by motivating people to hold themselves to a higher standard in their day to day lives.  Wise words to live by — If you won’t be proud of it in the morning, don’t do it tonight.

I must admit, I’m pretty proud of momversusmarketer.  By merging multiple sides of myself (mom, marketer and writer) I’ve developed new insights that I think have made me better on all three fronts.  Inner collaboration.  Like swamp-water from the soda machine; the magic is in the mixing.

Bird Calling

Many years ago my Mother installed a simple goldfinch feeder in her backyard garden, and it instantly attracted scores of brilliant yellow male finches and their less spectacularly feathered mates.  Always a pretty place to spend time, my Mother’s garden came alive in a new way.  Sitting on the patio together, she and I would motion excitedly whenever a particularly impressive number of birds were gathered to feast on the feeder.  The all time record was nine; one on each of the six feeding pegs and three more on top of the feeder, impatiently waiting for their turn.

Demand was so high that my Mother installed a second feeder, which led to the curious discovery that finches prefer to hang upside down while feeding.  The original upside down version would be packed with birds while the right side up model, that was identical in every other way, attracted only one or two of the most desperately hungry souls.

Shortly after Craig and I married, we purchased a new build home.  When the lawn was finally laid, a finch feeder was one of the first things we installed in the backyard.  I was cautiously optimistic, given that the popsicle stick trees planted on the boulevards of our ‘new-home-wasteland’ neighbourhood offered little protection for birds from weather or predators.

Much to my delight, and the surprise of anyone who visited us, our feeder attracted a steady stream of finches.  More than once, a visitor gasped at the sight of a brilliant yellow bird in our backyard and declared that someone’s pet had gotten loose.

I’d share the secret formula with anyone who was willing to listen. “Go to Canadian Tire, pick up a feeder (the upside down kind), fill it with thistle seed, hang it in your yard and you’ll have goldfinches too,” I’d explain.  “Even if you’ve never seen one in your neighbourhood before.  Trust me, they’ll come.”

They came to mine for years.

And then they didn’t.

Maybe I kept my feeder too long and seasons of rain resulted in a musty smell that kept the birds away.  Maybe it was my new neighbour Winnie who installed her own goldfinch feeder on the other side of the fence.  Like the rest of her property, her feeder was immaculate and it never ran empty.  So I scrubbed my feeder clean, threw out all of my seed and started with a fresh bag.

But they didn’t come back.

It crossed my mind that Winnie probably wasn’t buying her seed at Canadian Tire.  These were Oakville finches after all; maybe their palates had become more refined than the average bird.  So the next year I purchased fresh seed from a fancy garden store.  I threw out my old feeder and bought a new one.

Still no birds.

Maybe it’s the kids, I thought.  As they grew, our backyard had become noisier than it used to be, although neither Craig nor I would ever have been described as soft-spoken.  Regardless, I couldn’t very well get rid of the kids.  Year after year, the feeder sat full of seed but empty of birds.

Last spring, Winnie moved away and although you might think this would re-ignite my efforts to lure the goldfinches back, I was so distraught to have lost my good friend and gardening advisor that I found it difficult to get motivated to spend much time on the backyard.

But by the time spring rolled around this year, I was feeling a bit brighter.

I placed a shiny new feeder right outside our kitchen window.  We eat every meal at the table next to this window and the kids do their homework there.  If my feeder attracted finches, one of us would surely spot them.

I can’t say that I’ve seen the birdie line ups of my Mother’s feeder, but I have seen five or six so far, and it gives me a thrill far greater than it probably should.  I’ve begun setting up my laptop at the kitchen table in an effort to catch a glimpse of them.  While I wrote this there have been two, a male and a female.  The male is an other-worldly hue of brilliant yellow, and both birds dangle beneath the feeding posts from twiggy legs.

Watching them makes me wonder how these fragile creatures survive the elements.  But I suppose that when we need to be, we’re all stronger than we look.

I’m sure glad to see them.  And I hope they tell their friends.

My List of Awesome

I’ve always known that I was a late adopter.  I don’t have an iPhone.  I’m still a little afraid of online banking.  And when I was working I was always the last to know the office gossip.  So perhaps it’s no surprise that I just recently learned about Neil Pasricha’s 1,000 Awesome Things project.

It started almost four years ago when he set out to blog about the awesome little things in his life and the world around him as a way to cheer himself up.  He vowed to write about at least one awesome thing five days a week until he had catalogued a thousand of them.  And he did, counting back from 1,000 right up to today when his #1 awesome thing was posted …. “anything you want it to be”

What an awesome project!   Indeed, we probably all experience a little bit of awesome every day.  We probably walk right by a bunch more without noticing.  But taking time to acknowledge that awesome has the potential to make each of us a bit happier.  Certainly a worthwhile exercise.

So today, I share with you my own personal list of favourite awesome things:

#10 – Fitting everything in the dishwasher.  There is nothing quite like solving the jigsaw puzzle of efficient dishwasher space utilization so that you don’t have a single plate left in the sink or pot to scrub at the end of the day.

#9 – Watching a hamster run on its wheel.  I can practically hear his little heartbeat, buzzing with glee as he spins around and around.  That is one happy hamster.

#8 – Catching a glimpse of a mother robin feeding her babies.  One spring we had a robin build her nest on the fence right outside our kitchen window.  Those slimy chicks with their beaks squawking open, and mother bird tirelessly feeding morsels into their bottomless pits, was the most amazing sight.

#7 – Flipping your pillow over.  The smooth, cool side, fresh against your warm cheek is sometimes the perfect ticket back to dreamland.

#6 – When your Dad who never wears a suit, wears a suit.  Not sure why, but it brings a happy little tear to my eye.

#5 – Skating on an outdoor pond.  Wholesome Canadian fun, and always a glorious winter day…. otherwise you’d choose to skate inside!

#4 – Smelling the top of a baby’s head.  It’s why I’m first in line to hold my friends’ babies.  When you’re holding them it’s often other people in the room who get to enjoy the cute faces they make, but I get to bend my head down and take in the sweet scent of that downy head of hair.  Nothing better.

#3 – The first shoots of green peeking through the garden in spring.  I will never get over the miracle of how plants survive the harsh winter.  Up from the cold dark ground, sturdy peony shoots appear and I know that within weeks mother nature fairy dust will have transformed them into huge plants with abundant flowers.

#2 – Writing in a brand new notebook.  Yet to be marred by coffee stains and spelling mistakes, with a new notebook anything is possible.

#1 – Being hugged by a small child.

AWESOME!

If you haven’t already checked it out, here’s a link to Neil’s Awesome Things www.1000awesomethings.com

 

Has it Really Come to This?

I simply couldn’t believe the commercial I had just witnessed was for a real product.  I described it to my husband but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t manage to paint a picture that fully conveyed its weirdness.  After months of keeping my eyes and ears alert every time there was a television on in the house, I had almost convinced myself that it had existed only in my twisted imagination.

But a couple of weeks ago, Taylor finally got the iPad she had long been saving for.  Eight months of assembling community newspapers and delivering them in all manners of inclement weather, combined with birthday and Christmas requests for Future Shop gift cards finally culminated in her becoming the first kid in her class to own the newest iPad.   And it has led her to re-discover YouTube.

Yesterday she came thumping down the stairs to share her latest find….   the commercial I remembered from so many months ago…  it wasn’t just in my head…. it was REAL!

Here it is.

Isn’t it every married person’s nightmare that at some point their spouse starts wearing stuff like this?  I used to think that wearing track pants to the mall was a sure sign that someone had ‘given up’ but the Forever Lazy sets and entirely new standard.

I don’t buy for a minute that anyone would wear the Forever Lazy outside.  This is a product for the self imposed shut-in.

The phone rings: “Hey Joe, a bunch of us are playing darts at the bar next door.  We were just saying we haven’t seen you in a while.  Want to join us?”

“Gosh, I don’t know if I can,” Joe replies, stroking the soft plush of his Forever Lazy.  The thought of wriggling out of his fleece zipper suit and squeezing into a pair of jeans and a t-shirt seems like a lot of work.  He isn’t even sure his jeans still fit.  “I’ve got a few things to do around here.  I’ll maybe catch you next week.”

As I have learned from my Lululemon yoga pants, it’s a slippery slope when you make a habit of wearing stretch fabrics on a daily basis.  But at least Lululemon hints at athleticism of some sort.  The Forever Lazy screams slovenly.

I can’t even think about that butt trap door without giving myself the shivers.

But there’s a market there.  Judging if only from the parody videos I found on YouTube, people are buying them.  I got a particular giggle from this girl’s ‘product review’ video.  She says she doesn’t own a Snuggie because she thinks it’s like wearing your bathrobe backwards, which of course is true, but she did buy a Forever Lazy… four of them, in fact!

News flash — the Forever Lazy sucks.