Monday, March 20, 2017

More Parenting Tips I Should NOT Have to Point Out. But I Will.

*clears throat and assumes Andy Rooney voice*


I'll try and keep this short.

Hahahahahaaaajustkidding.  You know I totally won't.

For my birthday last weekend, we decided to go out for a nice dinner at our favorite local steakhouse, where I happened to have a coupon for a free entree (up to $20.99 or less, and good luck finding a steak for that price).  My standing joke at ALL restaurants any more is just, please, don't let there be anyone there wearing a tiara.  Which is kind of another post, but picture, if you will--that group of over-done, over-made-up, over-dressed, overly-loud 40-something divorcees who've had that onnnne too many glasses of wine and it's somebody's birthday so WOO-HOOO I'M WEARING A TIARA Y'ALL.  *clinks glass*

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This bunch...

Yeah.  Usually the table next to them

*eye roll*

Anyway, it's gotten so that when I make reservations somewhere, I specifically request to NOT be seated by any large tables or any large parties or anyone wearing a tiara, because just once I'd like to get through a meal without being forced to listen to the above too-loud ladies discussing life at too many decibels and with way too many "woo-hoos", plus the sudden random group of servers who come out, clapping and singing and sometimes wearing sombreros and/or carrying sparklers.

Guys.  I just want to enjoy a quiet dinner, k?

So, last weekend's dinner was going great until dessert-menu time.  I had actually just mentioned, " tiaras so far" and kind of *high-fived* Shane.  Then, the servers started unfolding the table extensions at two tables next to us and sliding two smaller tables...together.  Uh-oh.

Sure enough, as soon as the tables merged into one big 10-seat table, a pile of gifts and balloons suddenly materialized in the center.  Me and Shane started giving each other the side-eye.

The family arrived, comprised of maybe 4 adults and about 300 small children.  Ok, it was more like 5 + one in a car seat, but still.  Me and Shane started giving them the side-eye.

They got seated and the small boy in the chair closest to our table immediately whips out an iPhone 12.5 or whatever and starts playing a video game, because of course a birthday party with balloons and streamers and gifts isn't nearly interesting enough to hold his attention for 3 minutes.  We start hearing  pew-pew-pew-pew peeeewwwwwww PEW PEWPEWPEWPEW.   Since they were close enough to hear and see our response, I stopped mid-sentence and stared at them and said "REALLY?? HE'S PLAYING A VIDEO GAME? AT A BIRTHDAY PARTY? WITH THE VOLUME ON??"  Mom let it go for a minute, but she did start asking Little Boy to turn down his volume.  Not OFF, mind you, but...down.


We spent the rest of the meal trying to finish sen-pewpewpew-tences about whether we pewpew wanted to eat desspewpewpewpewPEW-ert or just take it PEWPEWBEEPBOOOAWWP  home with us.  And of course opted for "to-go please".

Still, though, seriously-- I had to stop talking like five times and give this mom my best "Really?" stare, along with that obvious pantomine of looking around and saying loudly "Is someone seriously watching CARTOONS IN HERE?' before she would try to get him to turn the volume down. Again.

So my question is this:  WHAT THE HECK, PEOPLE???  Everywhere we go any more, kids are not expected to be quiet and/or focus on actual reality for more than a few minutes at a time before they freak out and insist on having a phone or an iPad or a TV screen shoved in front of them.

Everywhere. We. GO.

At the grocery store:  Kids in the cart are playing on phones.

The car in front of me: TV screens in front of the baby car seats.

In restaurants: They're on a phone or a game, or those *cool* new tabletop notebook screens, in case anyone forgets their phone in the car, or God forbid, wants to actually interact with their family over dinner.
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You're going to the STORE, not across the country.  This is ridiculous.

And don't tell me that your kids are "too much of a handful" or that they are so hard for you to control that this is the only way you can go out in public.  They're only TWO FEET TALL; you can too control them, although if you're the mom from the restaurant, you've probably already waited too long.   Quit shoving stupid technology in their face 24/7, and teach your kids to BEHAVE.  If you don't know how, ask your mom how her parents did it, because believe me, for the older generations, this was NOT a problem, and no one grew up "warped" because of strict discipline, although I shudder to think of what this next generation will be like.

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Get it together, parents.  There are other people out here, trying to eat.

images courtesy of Google images

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Oh Good. More Technology.

Ok, don't get me wrong.  I LOVE technology.  I'm all about cool new techie things and the latest updates of whatever programs our phones can download, and I even learned how to use the filters on Snapchat, so I am now totally able to reply to my daughter's snaps, in about the same amount of time it takes her to grow up, get married, raise a family, get old, and retire.

why can't we just text each other? 

What I am NOT with you on (or *them*, since I doubt that this was *your* idea...) is this Cool New Technology that Shane and I accidentally collided with recently at a well-known restaurant who will remain "Olive Garden".

First let me preface this with, yeah, I KNOW.  We haven't been eating out very often at ceiling...counts on fingers...scrolls through calendar years...) Ok, like three or four years.  We haven't eaten out much for 3-4 years, except at our favorite local family-owned restaurant, where everything is still very low-tech, in the sense that actual people come to the table and ask you verbally what you would like to eat, and you tell them, to their face, and they disappear to go on a lunch break and/or leave to go check their laundry, and you sit waiting for what seems like too long to get anyone to come back and refill the water that you both already guzzled and whyhasn'tshenoticedthisyet, but eventually she DOES, and then your food comes out,  and everything's OK again, and we're all still friends.


We hadn't been to a chain restaurant in awhile, so the other night, we were aimlessly driving around after watching a super-slow-ok-that-was-SO-not-a-sports-movie-Denzel film, and we just kind of ended up at Olive Garden.  Which is fine, because I love Olive Garden.  Or I used to...back when I was still allowing myself to eat carbs and stuff.  Anyway, I sucked it up and decided I was game for trying to find something on their menu that wasn't bread, or pasta, or breaded, or breaded pasta.  (good luck)

At first, it all seemed pretty much business as usual.  We were seated after a normal wait time.  We had a normal hostess give us menus and take our drink orders.  We politely nodded in disinterest when she pointed out the new little gadget on the table that looked like a small TV flatscreen thing and told us that we can "sign up for rewards" or something...I never sign up for ANYthing, so...yeah-no.  As soon as she left, I turned the TV gadget thingie around, facing out, because the LAST thing I want is a screen flashing in my face while I'm trying to enjoy a full-service restaurant dinner.
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oh. my. gosh.  SERIOUSLY?    no


We had a normal college-age boy come and say he'd be our waiter, and he did take our orders.  I'll call him Josh.  So..."Josh" brought out that big bowl of lettuce with oil and vinegar on it that doubles as "salad" at Olive Garden, and we more or less finished it.  He came back fairly soon and asked if we wanted it refilled, so we were like, "sure" because how filling can lettuce be?  And, could he also please refill the waters when he gets a chance? Sure!

And--Here's where it gets weird.

That was pretty much it.  Josh basically never came back.  Ever.

We sat forEVer, wondering what the heck.  Slid the empty water glasses way out to the edggggggggge of the table.  Looked around obviously like we're waiting for service, or a waiter, or ANYone to notice that we're still there.  Made choking sounds and slurped loudly from the empty glasses, trying to survive on the water we could suck off the ice cubes.  Stirred ice with our straws.

Finally a whole other guy, who seemed like the floor manager, showed up with our entrees.  We told him we'd love some water, and oh, could you also tell Josh not to worry about that salad refill? 'Cause we've moved on to dinner now.  Him:  Sure.

We finished our dinner and sat there, waiting for Josh to reappear.  Forever.  I think I actually gained some more wrinkles while we waited.  We decided, since it's been so long, maybe we should check out desserts.  Oh, wait, there's no menu on the table for desserts except....wait.  What about this?  I turned the stupid little TV thing back around to face us, and lo and behold, there were hi-def pictures of their desserts right there on this little screen.  
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Exactly like this
THEN I noticed that not only was it an ad for their desserts, it had a touch screen button that said something like "order now" or "add to cart" or something, and another button that said "more water" and another one that said "call server" or something, and then it hit me.


We're supposed to figure out this stupid gizmo/tablet/ipad thingie on our dinner table, during dinner, in order to make these things happen???  Is that why Josh never came back? He's crouched somewhere in the back, on a headset, waiting to be paged by a computer?

*hard eye roll*

I set the little screen thing back down, facing away, crossed my arms, and refused to buy into their new program. We waited some more.  Looked around, obviously searching for our waiter.  Nothing.

After another eon passed and we both aged even further, and/or possibly cashed in our Roth/IRAs, "Josh"--the actual dude, who must have realized we were not "on board" with the kiosk or ziosk or whatever--finally materialized, and we were able to communicate directly to him, using words and some basic hand gestures, what we wanted for dessert and that we'd like it to-go, and that we were ready to pay.

I handed him my debit card, which he handed back to me and said "Oh, no, you check yourself out."

Me:  --  *eyebrows go up*

Him:  *turns the little TV screen back around to face us*  You swipe your card right here and do your purchase on the screen.

Me:  --  *holding debit card in midair with eyebrows still up*   Are you joking?

Him:  No.  *pointing to screen, which is now configured with our sales receipt*  See?  Right here.

He's looking at me like I'm visiting on a special outing from the Alzheimer's wing of a nursing home.

I notice that the TV thing has suddenly apparently sprouted a card-reader swipe thing on one side, so I swipe my card and the screen takes me to the "tip" portion of the transaction, which is like a slide-rule thing that you can touch to change the tip percentage, but I notice that it is conveniently set to like an automatic 20+ percent tip.  I slide it to the left...20-18-15-13-12-10---- slide, slide, sliiiideee  c'mon where's the 0%?  I'm out of luck.  It stops me at a MINIMUM of 10% for Josh, who has done basically NOT A DAMN THING for us except bring out our salad and to-go boxes.  A whole other guy did the job of bringing our entrees, and no one ever did refill the waters.

So I kind of sneakily clicked on the lowest possible tip, because "Josh" hadn't done anything tip-worthy, while noting that ok, so there's also no way to NOT give a tip? Or any way to leave a comment, like "You guys need to work on your customer service or we won't be back"?  Interesting.

I hit <print receipt> for a printout, right out of the little TV thing, and we were on our way.

On the  way out, we finally noticed that, yep, most of the tables of diners were all totally enjoying their meals with their family and friends, but instead of being focused on each other, they were all totally engrossed in these stupid little screens on the tables.  There were kids playing games on them.  There were groups of girls snapping selfies and posting them to Facebook or wherever.  There were old people trying to figure out how the hell to get more water.  I half expected to see people tuning in to their favorite TV shows or for commercials to start flashing across the screens.

this just screams "relaxing with family", doesn't it?

Just.  Wow.

Let's review, shall we?

Now, when you go out to dinner, where you used to be expected to, I don't know, actually interact face to face with your dinner companions, you can now spend the ENTIRE time fiddling around with learning how to use and/or play with another whole new device, just like the ones you should have left in your car and/or at home before you left to go OUT to dinner, while ALSO very minimally interacting with anyone in the service end of the restaurant.

So, basically, dining out is now almost exactly like dining at home, except you don't have to cook or get your own plate, although I half-expected to see those bins on the way out like at a food court, where you dump your trash and leave your tray.

On the way home, I got out my own tiny link to the whole world phone and googled this new technology, only to find that it's been in place for a couple of years now, at a lot of restaurants.  I also read the many many many complaints, exactly like mine...

Shane and I made a secret pack and pinkie swore to never go out for a "nice" dinner again at ANY restaurant that wants you to order your food through a touch screen at the table.  I can see it being handy to pay at the table, in case you're the type who is afraid the waitress is taking your credit card in the back and snapping photos of it to secretly charge you for her next trip to Mexico or whatever, but...trying to force diners to figure out more screens so we can "call server" or for "more water"??  Seriously?

Like I said, I'm a huge fan of technology, but guys. Huge, double thumbs way way down for this one.

...and yes, I have been living under a rock.

Image result for living under a rock

Photos on this post all courtesy of Google images. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

So--What's Next?

I know, I know.  I haven't posted for a minute.  I've been missing writing, but also feeling like maybe I've already said All The Things, but then I've also been having a sudden urge to ramble/journal for no apparent reason.  So I thought I'd pop back in and see if anyone's still out there.

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You still here??

Having basically broken up with the internet and FB in October 2015, it's been lovely and quiet and fun and REAL around here, ever since.  Here are a few updates, because I KNOW you've been wondering:

1--We finished our garden fence last year, after just a shade under a decade of working on it...high fives all around.  Now the deer can only stand on the outside and wish.

2--We started traveling again...omg YES.  Just, so much yes.  That sentence will eventually morph into some thoughts on snow-bird lifestyles and not living in Idaho in the winter when we're old.

3--Our oldest is getting married, omg, yes, married.  In like three weeks.  So that cookbook project has taken on a whole new meaning and urgency.

4--Our youngest is graduating in June and already looking for her own apartment, because "omg mahm I can't WAIT to be on my own," which is kind of music to my ears, because (sorry) I am super against people being a crutch for their kids and talking babytalk to them when they're 19 years old and being all "ohhhnooomywittlebaaaayybeee...mommy doesn't want her little babyboo to leave her!"  What the heck is that?  Stop it.  Let them get their life started already.  Make their own budget.  Make their own mistakes.  Make their own dinner.  All of it.

Maybe that's what this post is warming up to be...a rant about parents who refuse to let go.  I tell people that our youngest is excited to get out on her own this summer, and I get this look:

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And they're like, "Oh my gosh.  So soon?  Isn't that kind of young? Aren't you so sad? Won't you miss all this?"  And I'm all, "Not really.  We loved it all, but they're grown up now.  Shane and I are actually really FINE with the idea of having the house to ourselves.  We might even hang out semi-naked in the living room, drinking vodka and playing strip poker."  Wait-- of course I don't say that out LOUD, but you get the idea.  We're ready to be on OUR own, too.  We started as a couple of kids in love with each other.  We got married.  We spent about 9 and a half years hanging out doing all kinds of dumb stuff together, and then we decided, hey, this has been fun, but--why not have kids too, so we took a side trip to do that, and spent the next 20 years spending all of our time, energy, and every extra dime we ever could make or dream of making, on them and their needs.

Now it's our turn again.  We can go back to being those two crazy-in-love people doing dumb stuff together and finishing each other's sentences and thinking that hanging out in bed together on a Sunday morning is just fine with us.  We might even start spending our money on things we want to do again.

So, I'm sorry if this is you, but I'll never understand the people who are ooey gooey about having their grown kids move out of the house.  They are grown ups...let them go, and enjoy what's next.


It's good to be back, guys.