I know that someday you'll find better things.

Monday, March 24, 2014


Award-winning wings.
Right to your door.

I haven't had Pizza Hut in years, but I have unmistakable memories of the experience, and it was far from pleasant.

Here's what I would like to know:
What kind of award did these wings win? 
And exactly who gave this award?

My guess is that it is some sort of smokers' association. 
I've heard their taste-buds are less functional.

It's the only reasonable explanation.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Conspiracy Theory 101

UPS and Murphy's Law are in cahoots, and I have proof.

I was excited about the impending arrival of the headlights for Russ's truck, but I knew there was nothing I could do but gaze at them until he (and the truck) returned home from work. I had accepted this fact prior to the delivery, and I prayed the torture time would be minimal.

What time were the parts delivered? 
8 a.m.

The big brown box sat mocking me for hours and hours.

On the other hand, the Hoover SteamVac Carpet Washer with Clean Surge, F5914900 was listed as "out for delivery" as of 7:05 this morning. If my anticipation of the headlights was enthusiastic, the eagerness I've felt toward the delivery of this cleaning machine borders on excruciating.

The calendar was cleared for today so that I could spend maximum time indulging in my favorite vice. Dreams of this day pulled me through the challenges of the week-- Tuesday's root canal, Wednesday's math test, Thursday's Thursday-ness. 

I've fantasized about all the rug regions I'll clean, and I've carefully selected my first area-- the foyer rug--as the test zone. Scissors wait patiently-- far more patiently than I--on the window sill so that the box can be opened immediately.

I've even taken the "before" pictures.

Foyer rug-- before

Here it is, past noon, and still no ding of the doorbell.
The day is half-over, and I don't even hear a faint rumble of the UPS truck.

Adding to my misery, it seems that Murphy has partnered up with big business, too.

Amazon has reduced the price from Monday's $191.97. Today (Friday) it is listed as $138.97 with free Prime two-day shipping.

This is identical to the price I found (and paid) at the Home Depot website on Monday after a significant amount of time scouring the internet for the very best price.

Heaping on insult to injury, there was an additional $11 fee during checkout at Home Depot-- tax? Shipping? I can't remember.

But Amazon, oh, Amazon, where we have a gift card just waiting to be used-- Amazon was offering an additional $10 off coupon today.

I rest my case.

Why does Murphy always side against us?

Friday, March 14, 2014


I spent over 8 hours outside today for the 8th day this week. Every time a plane passed overhead, I thought, "Please don't disappear. Please go safely to your destination."

The tiny thought came naturally and quickly established itself as a habitual (albeit conditional) response, much like saying "gesundheit" when someone sneezes, or "padiddle" when passing a car with only one functioning headlight.

There were a lot of planes passing overhead, so most of the day was spent blessing their travels. To be honest, it was hard to get anything else done.

I couldn't just stop.

I'm not crazy, okay? I realize I wasn't single-handedly protecting their destinies.

Still, what if something happened to one that I could have blessed but didn't?

Despite accomplishing less today than any previous day-- ever-- I am absolutely exhausted.

Could one of you take tomorrow's shift?

Maybe we can take turns, at least until they find the missing Malaysian flight.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tennis Pro

If Team Sanders-Robinson had an official t-shirt, this would definitely be the logo.

Maybe you've heard me joke that our kids don't do sports; they do homework and lots of it. It's true-- there's not time for both (or not time to do both well.) 

So, homework is our sport.

Alas, there was a brief and shining moment when we tried to enroll the kids in tennis-- a sport which, if enjoyed, could become a lifelong hobby. 

A classy sport.
A dignified sport.

At one point or another, all three kids have been enrolled in lessons.

Is there a tennis pro among them?

Swiss Miss

Hannah had the discipline but not the motivation. She had a discerning eye when it came to evaluating incoming serves, and she could quickly and accurately detect whether the ball would be in or out. 

She never took a swing at a serve that was destined to be out. In fact, she often stood by patiently watching as serves landed in the boundaries, too. 

Hannah was the picture of neutrality. 
She was the Switzerland of the tennis world.

She could and would hit the ball, as long as it came right to her. She just didn't want to have to run (or even walk) to swing at it.

A Menace to Tennis

Caleb had all the enthusiasm in the world and absolutely zero coordination. He'd swing wildly every time the ball came to his side of the net without any regard for where he should direct the ball in its return. 

His technique was of a variety that made mandatory helmets for the players and onlookers seem like not just a good idea but an absolute necessity for safety. 

It's safe to say that more of his tennis balls soared up and over the fence than those that actually landed in the court-boundaries or even within the fenced area.

One could make a case that he sent more tennis balls up and over the 15-foot fences than anyone else at the facility. Ever.

Keep Your Eyes on the Ball

And then there was Mia.

From age two, Mia waited desperately to be old enough to take tennis lessons. In our city recreation program, the most cost-effective option required that participants be at least five years old. 

She'd seen the older two kids take lessons, and she'd played a little here and there with the rest of our family at the local courts. We'd purchased her an itty-bitty Dora racket. ("Tennis rocket," she'd called it as a toddler.)

Even during casual family play, it was obvious that Mia had the most natural athletic ability and coordination. She could hit the ball with a precision and control that made it seem easier than breathing. 

Mia was going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Except for one small thing: focus.

For this reason, her tennis lesson experience was possibly the most disastrous-- or at least the most inefficient.

During instructional time, she would try to balance her racket vertically on the ground. Sometimes, even worse, she'd position it horizontally on her head.

During demonstrations, her eyes were on the skies. ("But Mom," she'd say later, "I'm pretty sure I saw a bird's nest in the tree near the fence. I was trying to see what kind of bird it belonged to." Or sometimes, "But Mom, wasn't it unusual that there were six planes that passed over us on Thursday when there were only three last Tuesday?" )

During wait-your-turn-patiently, she invented some sort of game to amuse herself and the other participants, which meant that nobody was in the ready position when it was eventually time for each future star's respective turn.

From the sidelines, I called out reminders to her--probably to everyone's great relief and/or annoyance. I tried to gesture. I tried the evil eye. I did everything I could to influence her behavior in the moments leading up to her turn to serve and return serves.

Finally, it would be her time to shine.
Finally, the coach and onlookers (who'd probably been rolling their eyes in exasperation) would get to see her at her finest.

Such skill!
Such strength!
Oh, how they would marvel when they saw.
How could she be so young and so coordinated?

They never got to see her in action, though.

Every time it was her turn--literally EVERY time-- something else seemed to be catching her attention.

"Keep your eyes on the ball!" I called out again and again, but to no avail.

"What on earth happened out there?" I later asked her.

"Sorry about that. See, the sun was just right, and I could see the shadow of the ball, and then I could see the shadow of the racket, and the shadow of myself, and it was all so cool, seeing that whole little shadow world. I guess I just forgot to hit the ball..."

Better Luck Next Time

During a recent Pre-Spring Cleaning session, I discovered all three kids' rackets in the garage, long outgrown. As I added them to the box of items to consign, I wondered if our sport-ship had truly sailed.

Maybe it's time to try golf?


Look what came home following "College Week" at the elementary school. 

"Tennis?" I asked, "I thought you wanted to be a veterinarian!"
"I did, but my teacher said if we went to college, we could do anything we wanted, and tennis is what I want to do."

Good luck, kid.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Break Your Spirit Air

Combing through travel fares from Dallas to Boston last night, I noticed a non-stop flight for $168 round-trip amid the other quotes of $300-$500 per ticket. Were my eyes deceiving me? No. Did I rejoice? No. Did I even pause to investigate? Heck no.

I knew that flight, and I wanted no part of it.

I don't think I would take that Break-Your-Spirit Air red-eye flight again if they paid me $168.


A few years ago, after my sweet Nonnie passed away, Russ and I needed to get to Boston in a hurry. If you've never had the occasion to purchase tickets within twenty-four hours of your journey, believe the hype: the ticket prices are sky-high. 

There were several $700 per person flights with three or more stops/layovers along the way. This meant that we could feasibly pay $1400 for plane tickets, leave within two hours of booking the flight, and not even arrive in time for the funeral.

And then, like a little travel miracle, up popped a non-stop flight for $168 per person. The flight would depart at 1:15 a.m. and arrive at 5:48 a.m., which would give us a little less than four hours between arrival and funeral.

We would sleep on the plane.
It would be perfect.

The first sign that things were not perfect involved some fine print about additional charges.

There were charges to select a seat in order to guarantee traveling next to your loved one. Worth it, we agreed.

There were charges involving bags, and not just the checked-in kind, either. Charges--substantial ones--were associated with carry-on bags, too. Not worth it, we decided. 

We would wear our funeral attire (and as many layers as we could muster) on the plane and figure out the details later. Not the coziest plan for catching some shut-eye, but our comfort was not a priority. Besides, we'd only be there for 24 hours.

There were even charges to have the tickets printed at the airport. We've always printed our boarding passes at home cheerfully, but the idea of being railroaded into it rubbed against our optimism like sandpaper.

Still, we proceeded with our preparations, dutifully doing the backwards-airport calculations to determine when to leave the house in order to arrive at the airport at the appropriate time. 


As Russ drove, I daydreamed about the impending middle-of-the-night journey and the other souls who'd accompany us on this flight. Surely the plane's cabin would be dimly lit and cozy, probably with a few sleepy business travelers heading to morning meetings. Poor things, I thought, grateful that this lifestyle was not part of our routine. 

In sharp contrast to my peaceful vision, the airport was a zoo.

Actually, that is not entirely accurate. For the most part, the airport was silent and vacant. It was only our gate that was a zoo. 

It seemed that the entire population of a small town was there, and every demographic was represented. Especially the child-and-baby population, and by the way they were running around and yelling, they had no intention of sleeping any time soon.

At a glance, I assessed that there were more people in the lobby area than could possibly occupy the plane. This mystery cleared up when we boarded, and I saw that there were more seats on this plane than on any similar craft I'd ever traveled on previously.

Here is how you know I am not exaggerating. We were seated in the last possible row-- you know, the "backs against the restroom" row. In this case, 26D and 26E.

On United Airways, the Airbus A319 has 8 first class seats, 40 "economy plus" seats, and 72 "economy seats" for a total of 120 seats across 21 rows.

On US Airways, the Airbus A319 has 12 first class seats and 112 coach seats for a total of 124 seats across 22 rows.

On Spirit Air, the Airbus A319 had 10 "big front standard" seats and 135 "standard" seats for a whopping grand total of 145 seats across 25 rows. (There was no row 1. I do not know why.)

And every seat was filled.

We are not particularly tall people; still, our knees rubbed against the row of seats in front of us.

You might think that with so many seats on this plane, reclining seats would not be a possibility. You would be wrong. The seats did recline-- all, of course, but ours. I found this out the hard way when the woman in front of me reclined without warning and her seat smacked into my face.

Right in the kisser.

This new obstacle in my lap greatly limited my range of positions for the next four hours as I could not physically face directly forward. Nor could I look to the left or right without actually scraping my face on her seat-back. Unless, of course, I tucked my chin or half-stood to get up and over her seat back.

As bad as I thought I had it, Russ had--by far--the very worst seat on the plane, although he never once complained.

The person in front of him--more courteous? more clueless?--did not recline her seat, so you'd think that Russ would have had more face-space.

Wrong again.

In fact, Russ's situation might have actually improved had the passenger in front of him reclined, because his face-space became a vacuum for derrieres.

I'm not kidding.

Because we were seated in front of the restroom, and because the aisles were so narrow, the steady stream of restroom-users needed to do an intimate dance around one another in order to reach their respective destinations. 

This was usually achieved through a method involving significant leaning of bellies and rumps, always, ALWAYS into Russ's face.

I was somewhat surprised that so many people were even using the restroom given that beverage service was infrequent and NOT complimentary. Seriously. Not even water.

Around hour three, we started to wax nostalgic about the Mexicana disaster with a fondness I never thought I'd feel.

We arrived in Boston on time, stiff, parched, grumpy, and with our funeral attire not nearly as wrinkled as I'd anticipated, thanks to our inability to move for the duration of the flight.

Our spirits, however, were utterly broken.

Off the plane but before even spilling out of the jetway and into the airport proper, we made a solemn pact to never fly Spirit again.


We've become fans of Jet Blue, and that's probably the airline with which I'll book our upcoming tickets. It doesn't matter that the tickets appear to be double the price. By the time you factor in all the complimentary Jet Blue things that Spirit charges for, it's a wash financially, leaving only two factors at play:

comfort and timing.

These two things that I so greatly underestimated have become of paramount importance for our travel plans-- they are utterly essential to keeping our spirits intact.

I hereby swear that everything you've just read is the complete truth as I remember it. Skeptical about the validity? Here are two websites to substantiate my claims:

5 Outrageous Spirit Airlines Fees (published May 8, 2013) http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2013/05/08/5-outrageous-spirit-airlines-fees/

A list of "Optional Services" from the company's own website (current as of March 5, 2014)