A Rainy Day With Thomas.

On Monday morning, nine out of ten Facebook Statuses in my feed were bemoaning a flooded basement, a flooded back yard, a flooded street, or a flooded everything.

Sunday was slightly moist around here.

And of course, that would be the day we had picked out to visit Thomas the Train.

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It was the last day he was to be in Birmingham, so we couldn’t change our minds.

But Thomas was a non-negotiable – rain or worse. Because Noah has asked to return, nearly on a daily basis, since last year’s visit. It is pretty much his crowning achievement from the age of two.

“I REMEMBER riding on Thomas!!”, he said, at least a dozen times, as if he knew he shouldn’t actually be able to remember things from being two. “I REMEMBER getting the bracelet!!”

…because red Paper Bracelets are the best part of any event.

The rain did not lessen the palpability of Noah’s ecstasy.

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Nothing could.

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Thomas had gotten some work done since last year, and actually had a moving mouth and eyes, and cheeks so soft and realistic that when they moved, they looked rather eerily like we were in the cartoon. Making me wonder why no one has bought a small island and turned it into a Sodor Theme Park.

Thomas Moving

We skipped all of the other rather wet Thomas-y activities and went immediately to the awning to wait for our ride, which didn’t seem to upset the children at all.

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And, thanks to the rain, the train was nearly all ours.

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Noah got some quality time with the Conductor,

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And after spending much time silently staring,

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From every angle,

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Being as still as he’s been for at least a month,

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He rewarded me for making his dreams come true by making my dreams come true – and actually looking in the general(ish) direction of my camera for a whole. Thirty. Seconds.

Noah on Thomas 2


Noah on Thomas


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He even let me see a quick glimpse of his true excitement,

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And wanted to take a train selfie.

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We all left calling it a success,

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And now begins another 365 days of the question, “Is it time to go see Thomas yet?”

Drain Shame.

There are things that an iPhone alters about your life from which you will never escape.

Traffic light entertainment, for one. I admit it – I struggle with not picking up my iPhone at a red light. Smart phones have effectively made me forget how to simply be still.

Also? Curiosity. Every “I wonder…” I ever mutter is followed by a Google search or thorough internet stalking. Which is further followed by the exultation of curiosity satiated.

And then there’s the measurement of my attentiveness to real life served up by my battery life at the end of the day.

iPhone Low Battery

If my battery life is in the mid-range by day’s end, I feel victorious. Clearly I paid attention to my kids, didn’t grab my phone at every traffic light, and engaged in real life today. Way to go, Rachel! Give yourself an extra ten minutes on Instagram.

But if it’s at 10% before the kid’s bedtime, then for shame. I should have read more books aloud and refilled more sippies. I clearly kept my Twitter feed too up-to-date and really should back off on my HauteLook shopping.

(I know. I have a problem with inner judgment. I also judge myself about my self-judginess, if that helps.)

This week, as Chris and I were preparing to dump the kids on the Grandparent’s for a few days and head off on an anniversary getaway, my self-analysis was even more ruthless than usual.

Remember…you’re not going to see your precious children for four days. You really should cuddle for five minutes longer before bed. Even if your eyeballs are about to fall out from exhaustion.

Yes he just elbowed you in the boob with all of his three-year-old might, but don’t yell in pain and startle the poor child…he’ll remember you that way while you’re gone.

And so it was the worst of weeks to also suffer from Drain Shame.

Yet every day, my phone was at 30% — by lunchtime!

Unheard of. Horrifying. I am a putrid mother.

I berated myself constantly.

What are you DOING?!? Who do you think you ARE?!? People don’t care that much about what you have to say! Pay attention to your dang kids for cryinoutloud!!

It did seem strange that my extra pre-vacation awareness was being so overshadowed by my apparent device addiction, but battery percentages don’t lie. They pierce your soul and gauge your goodness with accuracy previously only known by Mary Poppin’s tape measure.

The day we left for our trip, I carried along with me a bit more Mommy-Guilt than usual – the kids and I had suffered through a rough morning, and THAT BLASTED BATTERY PERCENTAGE was staring me down with the suspicious eyes of Maleficent and Snape’s lovechild.

I talked to the kids on the phone that night and they seemed to still love me, so I relaxed and began enjoying our trip.

The next day, Chris and I toured The Biltmore Estate, which took hours, and phone photography was highly unallowable. So except for two quickly stolen shots, I kept my phone in my purse to avoid looking suspicious (which I was.)

Yet.

When we left Biltmore, my phone battery was below 40%.

40%!

There was no way.

It was impossible.

Unless I had a gremlin in the bottom of my purse that was streaming movies while I wasn’t using my phone, my battery COULD NOT be at 40%.

I sheepishly admitted my deplorable battery life to Chris, feeling especially horrible for my now admitted problem. Surely he would judge me. He would think I was sneaking off to the bathroom to get a fix. I mean I basically believed it myself – how else could I have gotten to 40%??

He, being the not-as-constantly-self-judging-and-unhealthily-self-loathing one of of us, said, “Oh – it’s probably something to do with the iOS 7.1 update – you just did that, remember? Why don’t you Google ‘7.1 battery life issues.’ I bet you’ll find it.”

WHAAAAT? There’s a possibility that I might not be the most reprehensible person on the planet?!

NO.

I obeyed and Googled immediately, and there it was.

All. Over. The stinking. Internet. Everyone knew but me.

7.1 Kills Batteries.

7.1 Leaves Location Services On

7.1 Bugs Will Drain Your Phone

9 Ways 7.1 Will Deplete your Phone Battery

Apple really screwed up this time

I wasn’t a terrible mother!

I wasn’t a terrible wife!

It wasn’t me – it was all a lie. All a big fat Apple-Driven lie to heap guilt upon me and make me think I was an addict.

(Okay I probably am but not as bad as I thought.)

So. If you, too, have been suffering from Drain Shame, I am here to relieve your pain and guilt.

It’s not you. It’s Apple.

So go find yourself something else to feel guilty about.


Neither self-judgment based on battery life or Mommy Guilt is recommended by this blogger or her family.

Update: If you’re suffering from this same drain, go to Settings –> General –> Background App Refresh, and turn it off. It’s a new setting with 7.1 that allows all your apps to track you in the background, therefore leaving location services on continuously. It seriously helped my battery to turn this off.

The Bathroom Chronicles.

Stuff happens in public restrooms.

Right?

Sometimes you get to see it after the fact, like this beautiful graffiti on a Church bathroom door…

IMG_5521…even for defacing Church Property.

And sometimes you are blessed enough to live through it – like the time, almost exactly a year ago, when I was in a Tampa restaurant bathroom stall while Chris and I were on our anniversary trip.

It was Tampa that finally helped me understand why Florida is considered the retirement destination of the world. I’d always been to North Florida, near the border of Alabama and Georgia, where it is full of gazoodles of families with small children, all watching the Perpetually Spring Breaking Girls Gone Wild walk up and down the beach while digging out their bikini wedgies every three steps. So I was left to wonder how Florida managed to hide all the retirement villages I’d heard so much about.

But Tampa – Tampa is a different Florida. I’m pretty sure their average resident age is 88 and a half. Which really cuts down on the beachfront wedgie picking ratio.

During one of our many delicious meals, we found ourselves in a restaurant that was wildly popular on the retirement scene. If they knew how to use UrbanSpoon on that newfangled smart phone their son-in-law insisted they have, they’d give it a rating of at least five denture creams. And maybe two hemorrhoid salves to boot.

I wandered to the Ladies’ Room. But before I continue, I must make a confession – at times, I quickly check my email while on the toilet – it only takes a couple of extra seconds, and I’m conscientious about being sanitary – I promise.

So I was checking my email.

The bathroom door opened and a retiree creaked in. I’m not precisely sure how I could tell that she was at least 95 – whether it was that she smelled like my Great-Grandmother’s kitchen or that her bionic hips were squeaking like the Tin Man in a Rain Forest Café.

She stepped into the other stall and heaved a great sigh and a couple small groans as she sat down.

I was ready to head back out to dinner, so I turned off my phone.

But you know that horrifically annoying camera-like click that an iPhone is defaulted to make when you turn it off?

Yeah.

She heard it too. And wasn’t exactly familiar with the meaning of the sound.

So she declared loudly, “I don’t know WHAT people do in here these days.”

As soon as I got back to our booth, I figured out how to disable that sound. While ducking for the ten minutes it took her to walk by.


Last night, Ali had her very own “Stuff Happens in Public Restrooms” moment.

We walked into a two-stall Ladies’ Room – an old one, the kind with the black lids on the white toilets and the rusty doors and a half-inch-buildup of grime on top of the tile grout – you know, the ones you wash your hands twice after you go. Ali was the reason for our visit, so Noah and I stood in the…commodal common area, for lack of a better term, as Ali entered the stall.

But before she could close the door and commence her business, an unusually round apple bounced underneath the wall, across the floor of Ali’s stall, and landed, perfectly leaning up against her toilet.

The inhabitor of stall-next-door would clearly dominate in a game of horseshoes.

All three of us watched the apple’s grand entrance, but Ali kept staring at it, then looked up at me.

“Um, Mommy? There’s an apple. Next to the toilet. What do I do?”

Captain Obvious. But a valid question.

I hoped stall-next-door would convey her wishes as to my daughter’s action with her fruit, but there was silence.

“Well…I guess you should pass it back under the stall, since that’s where it came from.”

The silence next door ceased not.

Ali looked doubtfully at me. “Okay, Mommy…”

She picked up the apple and stretched her arm under the stall, where a silent hand reached back and took it.

Then at long last, she spoke. In a muffled voice. “Guess I’m gonna have to wash that.”