Monday, July 19, 2010

The Rest of the Story

I'm so glad I waited to blog about the pool set-up, otherwise you wouldn't know...the rest of the story.

The next day, after church, we bring home our 80 pound box containing our pool. We get it to the backyard and start the 15 minute set-up. Good thing we didn't set the timer, too. It would still be ticking.

Here are the few, easy steps included in setting up our pool:

Day 1: Dump out the contents of the 80 pound box that we managed to drag from the car to the backyard. All parts accounted for. Even a few extras. That's a good thing, right? Next, roll out the ground tarp. Roll out the 15 ft. pool. Must inflate the top ring that goes all the way around the pool (air pump not included). In 100 degree blazing sun. Hmmm...Go buy pump. Return 30 minutes later and revive daughter who has passed out from trying to blow up the top ring w/o pump. Find extension cord. Hook up pump, turn it on. Smoke spews from the back. Nothing spews from the nozzle. Curse the stupid generic brand pump makers and my stupid decision to buy generic brand pump. Take turns blowing up top. Nearly pass out. FINALLY...fill up pool. Sort of.

Lessons of the day so far--#1. Don't buy generic brand air pumps. #2. If you want to know how drastically sloped your yard is, fill up a 15 ft. inflatable pool on it.

Day 1 (cont'd.): Hours later--Half-full pool is already flowing over one side. Shut off water. Curse the Gods! Throw a fit. Call Manly Man Dad Friend who advises me to shovel rocks from under the swing set area to level the ground under pool. Laugh hysterically at the idea of draining water, moving pool, shoveling rocks, replacing pool in 100 degree blazing order to complete the easy, 15 minute set-up. (Like that's gonna happen. I'd rather use it only half-full.)

That night, drain the pool.

Day 2: Shovel rocks. Sweat profusely. Shovel more rocks. Replace pool. Fill pool.
Pool fills enough for me to see we clearly have not fixed the slope problem. Then drains just enough to flood the yard and remind me that I forgot to plug the drain.

Lesson of the Day--#1 Plug the Drain.

Day 3: Shovel more rocks and try desperately to shove them under the still partially-filled pool. Sweat more profusely. Curse everything.

Day 4: Aaaaarrrrrrrgggggggg!!!!!!!!!!!!

Day 5: It's just too hot.

Day 6: Renewed determination. Try to flip pool by myself to move the rocks and fix the slope. Try again. And again. And once more. Too much water left in the bottom for one person to lift.

Day 7: Frank helps me flip the pool! Fifteen foot circle of rotting grass under pool sends sewer-like emissions wafting through the neighborhood. We run for the house. My two stupid dogs run for the nasty bog and roll their bodies in the sludge. Then run back in the house.

Day 8: Wonder if the generic brand of odor-eliminating air freshener would be just as good as the name-brand odor eliminating air freshener.

Day 9: Consider calling Boxman for one of those bigger boxes to load up the remnants of our 15 minutes set-up.

Day 10: Frank: "Mom, when are we gonna build that tree house you promised me?"

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

15 Minute Set Up...But Ya Gotta Buy It First

So I'm at the grocery store (yes, again!). It's about 1:00 am and my quiet yet calculating daughter is with me. Don't even ask how and why that occurred. It's a blog in itself. But it's an emergency run for milk and tortilla chips.

The kids have been wanting to buy a pool. You know, the cheap, above ground kind that will only last one season. They even had a garage sale to raise the money.And since my garage is still full of the crap we couldn't sell, while I'm at the store, I snatch up a bunch of discarded produce boxes to use to pack up all the garage sale leftovers.

So the quiet and calculating daughter (hereafter referred to as QC) sees this new display of pools discounted by about $100 with your Dillon's Card. Having scoured the city the previous weekend for a pool in their price range, she decides we have to buy it NOW. They'll be sold out by morning.

At this time of night, only the self-serve check-outs are open. And tonight, of course, they are all malfunctioning. So we and about six other patrons wait for the one and only clerk who is on another register checking out some off-clock employee. Which takes FOREVER. At least it seems like that when you are holding five flattened produce boxes. You know, there's just no easy way to hold on to those things.

Guy behind us: "Hey, you need some boxes?"

Me: "Nope. I got some boxes."

Guy: "I've got some more. Their bigger. I'd be glad to let you have them."

Me: "Thanks but if they are too big I won't be able to lift them when they're full."

Guy: "Are you sure? I could get you those boxes. They're about this high (gestures to his waist) and they held..."

Me: (Stopped listening).

FINALLY the one and only clerk tells us we have to go back over to the self-check-out. We explain the situation. Flustered, she scurries over to fix the problem. Which takes FOREVER. At least it seems like that when you're holding 5 flattened produce boxes. We tell her we want to get a pool and she freezes.

Clerk: "I don't know how to do that. Hold on. I have to call someone."

Then she proceeds to help Box Guy, who, as he's leaving assures me he can bring by those boxes if I want him to. Keep walkin', Mr Box Man. Then she helps a couple other people. THEN, she makes the call.

Clerk: "Okay, I think I know how to do that. But you'll have to pick it up tomorrow. There's no one here to get it from the back."

Fine. In the mean time, High-as-a-Kite-Dreadlock-kid comes into buy sweet cigars. Which the clerk doesn't know how to do. So she has to call someone. Which takes FOREVER, especially when you're holding...oh, nevermind.

It's our turn, at last. We scan the Dillon's card, but something is amuck. We scan again. And again.

In the meantime, Dreadlocks is back and he's brought Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum with him. Only I would never call them that to their faces, because I think they have both killed for lesser offenses. It seems Dreadlocks got the wrong flavor cigar. Tweedle Dee crosses his arms over his barrel chest and scowls at Clerk and me and QC. I shiver. Creepy. Tweedle Dum paces back and forth like he's gonna freakin' explode if he's doesn't get his freakin' cigar in like the next 10 seconds.

Clerk: "I don't know how to do a return or an exchange. I'm gonna have to call someone." Imagine that!

Me: (Loud throat Clearing)

Clerk: "It would probably be easier if I finish up with you, first, huh?"

Probably so, Einstien.

FINALLY, four cards scans later, we are the proud owners of a pool. Which we will pick up tomorrow. Tweedle Dum is about to blow and Tweedle Dee won't quit staring at us. Dreadlocks is nervously sweating. Sorry dudes, you are NOT getting invited to the Pool Party.

I adjust my grip on my produce boxes. QC grabs the chips and milk. I shove her out the door. There's a get-away car. Seriously, some even scarier looking thug is leaning out the window of his beat-up sedan with the motor running, smoking a cigarette. We practically run to the van.

QC: "Those guys were creepy, Mom."

Me: "Yes they were. A lesson to you. Nothing is so important that you need to go to the grocery store at 1 in the morning."

She looked a little freaked out.

Me: (trying to lighten things up) "But we did get our pool! And it says it only takes 15 minutes to set up and be ready for water."

QC: "But, mom, the guy who wrote that doesn't know our family!"

A sinking feeling told me she was right. After all, it only took us 60 minutes to purchase it.

And just wait until you hear what happened when we got it home and set it up. Or tried to anyway!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Saying Something

I've been trying to figure out what to say. I feel compelled to say something. And I know there is a life lesson or a thought-provoking comment hiding somewhere in the situation. And I also know there is nothing even remotely close to humorous about the event on my heart. I just can't figure out what to say. So I'll just let the thoughts flow and maybe you'll find a message. Maybe you won't.

A couple years ago my children attended a new school. It was a good school filled with a lot of good families. It wasn't a perfect school, as no educational institution is. It's reputation of being filled with "cliques" and having issues with bullies wasn't just a rumor. Although there was a lot to recommend this school, my children and I also found it difficult at times to penetrate the well-guarded walls encircling the "cliques". We also struggled with the infamous bullies, but that's another blog.

It was a new concept for us. We have always been involved. I can't think of an area I haven't volunteered for. And my kids, as I'm sure you've gathered if you've read even a few of the Roaring Mom posts, are not quiet wallflowers. This particular school year was difficult for us anyway. We were only a few months into the divorce. The kids were being shuffled between mom's house and dad's house and now they were at a new school. We truly needed to not only feel welcome, but also feel like our Catholic family was still okay, regardless of the divorce.

Fortunately, for every old-blood family who had been in this community forever and would be there generations from now and really wasn't interested in getting to know newbies, there was also a family with welcoming smiles and friendly demeanor. So we gravitated to them and tried to forget the rest.

Let me tell you about one of these families. I met the dad first. Carl Hall and I served on the same committee--the athletic committee. Yes, I know that might be a little comical--me on a sports council. But I was there for my kids and their interests, not because of any delusion that I had any athletic tendencies whatsoever. He was one of the 4 or 5 people on this large committee who constantly greeted everyone--even this non-athletic newcomer--with a smile. Next, I met his daughter. She, like her father, is quite an athlete. My daughter played on the basketball team that year. And although Sophie held several track and field records, she sorely lacked experience on a basketball court. And yet Carl's daughter accepted Sophie, encouraged her, and befriended her. And, like her father, Megan always had a welcoming smile on her face.

When I met Stacey, Carl's wife, I immediately felt at ease. She is funny and friendly and humble. She could have very easily taken the "my daughter is so much better than yours, we don't even belong on the same bleachers" approach. But she didn't.

We didn't become close friends with this family. And since my children attend a different school and church now, we almost never see the Halls. I've never told Carl or Stacey or Megan, for that matter, how much I appreciated their smiling faces. How I would be standing by myself at yet another event, feeling awkward and out of place but needing to make a go of it, and I would see their family and it would remind me that new friends were out there.

This beautiful family, who made us feel welcome when we were dealing with difficult life transitions, is now in the middle of it's own crisis. Recently, while on the way to a baseball tournament, the family was in a car accident. While Stacey and Megan and the other 3 children escaped injury, Carl is now hospitalized--paralyzed. In a matter of seconds, the Hall family's life changed drastically, devastatingly, unbelievably, permanently.

I understand that it is natural for us to find perspective in another person's tragedy. Hearing about the Hall family immediately makes us want to hug our children more, appreciate our families more, work harder, laugh louder, love stronger. However, I can't help but to feel a little pathetic using someone else's hardship as a reason to count my blessings. Shouldn't we be able to count our blessings without Carl Hall having to become paralyzed?

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post--I really don't know what to say. Maybe this blog is wasted words. Maybe I've just become one of those gossiping biddies who share bad news because they like the attention. God, I hope not. Maybe the message is that when you share a smile, you might just be touching someone's heart more than you know. Maybe the message is to enjoy every mile of this journey, because you just don't know what's around the corner. Maybe the message really is to count your blessings. I honestly don't know.

If nothing else, my message is to ask you to pray. Because even when we're mad at God, I think he still hears our prayers. Doesn't he?

Please go to to find out how you can help Carl and his family. On facebook go to Carl Hall Recovery Fan Club.