Misadventures in Babysitting

I recently reread the first three books of The Baby-Sitters Club series, and the nostalgia was overwhelming. I remember being inspired back in the day to make my own “kid kit” and be the best babysitter EVER. I’ve been blessed to care for children of all ages, and I like to think that I made some kind of positive impact on their lives. This is starting to sound heartwarming so let me put on the brakes because this is not about the good times. Be honest; you’re here to laugh at my expense. 😂 This is a more accurate description of what you’re about to read:

Just to be clear, I am a responsible babysitter, and nothing dangerous has ever happened in my care. The tales I’m about to reveal weren’t directly my fault, just a handful of humorous and unfortunate events.

– Board Game Gone Wrong –

The brother & sister I was babysitting suggested we play chutes and ladders, and I eagerly agreed because I thought it would be fun to relive my childhood. I have to be honest and tell you that I got beat fair and square. I didn’t come in first place nor did I come in second; I was dead last. This particular board game is meant for kids, and even though I had no intention of beating my young companions, I didn’t think I would be so terrible. We hadn’t been playing long before the sister turned to me and said with a straight face: “You’re really bad at this game.” There is nothing quite as humiliating as an insult from someone who is less than half your age. I haven’t played that game since.

– Late Night TV –

This particular situation was mostly my fault, but have no fear because it had nothing to do with my young charges. For an extended period of time, I had a steady babysitting job with a family who lived in my neighborhood. One night while sitting at their house, I decided to watch some television after the kids were sound asleep; of course I had the parents’ permission. It was late at night, and there was a thunderstorm brewing. Of all the things I could have watched, I settled on a crime show. That was my first mistake. I eventually decided TV was a bad idea, and picked up the book I brought with me which just so happened to be a mystery. That was my second mistake. My third and final mistake was leaving only one lamp on. I’m not sure why, but I never turned on the room light to make myself feel safer. It was a tense few hours. I didn’t know nighttime could be so noisy! I can’t even tell you how many times I checked the doors and windows to make sure they were locked ( once I built up the courage to do so ). When the parents arrived through the garage, I naturally thought they were murderers until they stepped into the house and greeted me by name. That was the last time I ever watched a crime show or read a mystery while babysitting.

– I Cry Fowl –

I will ease you into the fourth and final story with the typical babysitting story of a bird in the garage. It happened while I was outside with the “chutes and ladders siblings” for some fresh air and playing time. While taking a brief break from the sun, a curious bird joined us. He was harmless, but I couldn’t help panicking. The brother’s personality was unpredictable, and I pictured him opening the door and accidentally letting our new winged friend inside the house. Of course I had to cage (get it?!) my fear so the kids wouldn’t panic and do what I just described. I spoke softly and encouraged them to stay still so the bird wouldn’t feel threatened. He explored a little more and flew away, never to bother us again. Crisis avoided! I swear the animal kingdom is out to get me.

– Dino and the Popsicles –

I realize that the title sounds like a cool band name, but the following events are anything but cool. Literally! I was once again babysitting my neighbors, but this time it was during the day. The parents provided popsicles and told me the kids could play outside. Simple enough, right? WRONG!! When the time came, the siblings grabbed their cold, refreshing popsicles, and we ventured outdoors into the unbearable heat & humidity. After some quality playing time with their dog Dino, the sister informed me that she had to use the restroom. I thought nothing of it until she went to turn the doorknob, and nothing happened. I thought the door was stuck because that is normal in Texas, and I gave it a try. Nothing happened, and my heart started to sink into my stomach. I took some deep breaths and reminded myself that I had to stay calm because I was in charge of two kids and one dog. I made my way to the front of the house to try the garage door; I brought along the sister because she was old enough to stay calm and help me with the code to open the door from the outside. I managed to get the garage door open, but the door to the house was locked, and we had no luck finding the spare key. Trust me, I searched high and low. I had told the brother stay in the backyard with the dog; thankfully the garage wasn’t far from the gate so the sister and I pulled double duty keeping a close eye on them. Unfortunately that didn’t work. The little boy gave in to his curiosity and opened the gate before we could reach him. That wasn’t my main concern. Remember who he was with!! I spent the next 10-15 minutes running up and down the street yelling “DINO!!” No, this is not an unaired episode of The Flintstones. I desperately tried to shepherd him into the gate held open by the sister while simultaneously keeping my eye on the brother because, as you already know, he was very unpredictable (typical at his age). He tried to help by joining in with his small but mighty voice, but really it was just more noise and extra stress. Finally I got that darn dog into the backyard and locked all of us in. I had a mischievous dog and two sweaty, sticky kids in my care, and I felt helpless. I hated to pull them away from something important, but I had to inform the parents of our predicament since I had tried every other way to get back inside. Thankfully I had my phone on me so I called and left a calm, collected message. I spent the next hour or so keeping the kids distracted on the trampoline until their parents came to our rescue. I profusely apologized and fully expected to never work for them again. The parents shocked me by apologizing about their faulty lock, which they forgot to tell me about before leaving, and applauded my ability to stay calm in a stressful situation. I did indeed work for them again, and thankfully the preceding story was the worst experience I ever had, both with them and with babysitting period. It was a tough experience to go through, but I learned a lot.

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Farewell Rio

🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊 🎾 🚴 ⚽ 🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊 🎾 🚴 ⚽ 🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊

With sadness, I bid farewell to the 2016 Olympics.  I have been filled with pride and joy watching my teams compete these past two weeks.  Yes, I said teams.  Of course USA is my number one, but I also support the countries that make up my heritage.  After all, they are underdogs compared to team USA.  No harm done!  Let’s take a look at the medal count:

🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆🏆 🏆🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆

• Team USA 🇺🇸 | 121 Medals | 46 G – 37 S – 38 B

• Team Great Britain 🇬🇧 | 67 Medals | 27 G – 23 S – 17 B

• Team Spain 🇪🇸 | 17 Medals | 7 G – 4 S – 6 B

• Team Israel 🇮🇱 | 2 Medals | 2 B

• Team Ireland 🇮🇪 | 2 Medals | 2 S

🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆🏆 🏆🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆 🏆

What were your favorite moments in Rio?? I have so many I could mention, but I will try to narrow it down.  I felt like a proud mother watching Michael Phelps have one last successful Olympic games after the rough few years he’s had (maybe he’ll be back!).  The USA women’s gymnastics team kicked butt and made me feel more patriotic than I have ever felt in my entire life.  Shout-out to Michael Phelps (5G, 1S), Katie Ledecky (4G, 1S), and Simone Biles (4G, 1B)!!  According to Google, they are the top medalists for 2016.  Team USA made me proud all around, but it felt good to dominate artistic gymnastics and swimming.  After a rough start, I am so proud of Spain for getting the bronze in men’s basketball.  Also, a silver in women’s basketball.  Top 3 in the world.  Not too shabby!!  I watched Marc Lopez & Rafael Nadal win gold in men’s doubles.  I’m pretty sure I grew gray hair during that match.  The stress was real, but Lopez earned his first medal, and Rafa now has a gold medal in singles and doubles.  I watched Team GB get the gold in women’s field hockey.  It was a stressful but thrilling game.  Well done ladies!  I did not have the pleasure of watching Ireland at all, but I am nonetheless proud.  Last but certainly not least, I want to express my admiration for Team Israel.  My heart breaks knowing that the Israeli athletes continue to be treated like trash.  However, they held their heads high, maintained composure, and walked away with two medals.

Farewell Olympics!  See you in Tokyo!! 🇯🇵

🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊 🎾 🚴 ⚽ 🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊 🎾 🚴 ⚽ 🏀 🏇 🏉 🚣 ⛳ 🏊

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Kingdom Hearts Rant

First of all, I am not a gamer so I realize that this rant is laughable to those who have mastered the gaming arts.  Second, I don’t care.  I have actually played Kingdom Hearts twice in the past.  I beat it with help the first time, and I did not finish the whole game the second time around due to my family’s big move.  I am determined to complete the game by myself.  That is proving to be way more difficult than I expected.  After a year of on and off attempts, I finally beat the Wonderland trickmaster last week and moved on to the Deep Jungle.  Tarzan is my favorite animated Disney movie so I was pumped to get started.  My balloon was immediately popped when I met a nemesis from my KH past: THE VINES!!  I cannot for the life of me swing from vine to vine for more than one minute, and I’m starting to resent Hippo’s Lagoon because that’s all I ever see due to the number of times I fall.  I know my lack of experience is a large part of the problem, but I also think the controls for this game are infuriating.  Perhaps that’s a defensive statement, but I have a little evidence to back it up.  My brother, who is a gamer, tried to play it and had to walk away.  He said the controls are different from other games, and he doesn’t understand why.  I don’t understand the details, but I do trust his judgement because he’s been playing video games since he was a little boy.  Why is this rant important?  It isn’t.  Just now I attempted to advance in the game and failed miserably.  The vines were once again my undoing, and I wanted to blog with fresh anger burning within me.  Hopefully someone somewhere can commiserate with me.  I can’t be the only who hates KH now that I actually play it!!

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What’s Happened to the Theatre?

Art & Design Studios. The Historic Lansdowne Theater Restoration. John Milner Architects. Web. 8 June 2016. http://artanddesignstudio.com/Architectural-illustration-5.html.

Art & Design Studios. The Historic Lansdowne Theater Restoration. John Milner Architects. Web. 8 June 2016. http://artanddesignstudio.com/Architectural-illustration-5.html.

Back in March, my dad was kind enough to buy tickets to Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games featuring a special performance by Michael Flatley.  We did what we always do: dress up and eat at a nice restaurant before the show.  After arriving at the theater and finding our seats, I had time to people-watch.  Unfortunately, what I saw horrified me.  Attending the theater doesn’t mean you have to wear expensive clothing, but, out of respect for the cast and crew, you should look presentable.  It breaks my heart to say I saw more than one hoodie that night.  I rarely get to see theater performances therefore each and every time I go, it is a special occasion.  Theater is different from the cinema.  Movie theaters are set up for comfort, and the actors aren’t feeding off of spectators in person.  Theater performers prepare months in advance for live performances; when the time comes, they can see the audience and feed off of what they see.  Show them that you care!!

Other Lord of the Dance-Related Blog Posts:

• Dream Come True – https://laurenmichelelifestyle.wordpress.com/2016/03/12/dream-come-true/

• Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games Review – https://laurenmichelephotography.wordpress.com/2016/06/08/lord-of-the-dance-dangerous-games-review/

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Dream Come True

Words cannot describe the experience I had last night.  I waited 17 long years to see my favorite dancer and dance inspiration Michael Flatley perform in person.  FINALLY, my dream came true.  If you don’t know much about Michael, his decades-long career has produced a long list of injuries, some that are irreversible.  Despite living with pain, Michael is giving his fans one last chance to see him dance.  Even though he appeared in “Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games” for a short period of time, those few minutes were leaps and bounds above the rest of the show.  How can I not be content knowing that he is suffering to say thank you to his fans in person?  No one else but Michael could dance a few steps and get away with it.  When he stepped onstage, I had the biggest, cheesiest grin on my face.  I don’t even care what I looked like because I felt five years old and free as a bird in that moment.

Mr. Flatley has earned quite the reputation.  He had a bumpy start due to a creative dispute with “Riverdance” colleagues.  Even though the eventual split led to the creation of “Lord of the Dance”, success brought with it rockstar behavior.  I don’t care about all of that now because Michael has overcome problems of the past and grown into the role model I always believed him to be.  When I was 5 years old, I received a gift: a VHS tape of “Riverdance” with Michael Flatley & Jean Butler.  The number of times I watched that tape and mimicked the dancers is incalculable.  I didn’t know how or where; all I knew was I had to dance.  I didn’t go on to dance professionally, but some of my most treasured memories come from dancing for eleven 1/2 years.  Michael Flatley revived Irish dancing and made it a worldwide phenomenon.  On a personal level, he sparked a desire within me to dance and see how far I could go.  For that, I will forever be grateful.

* * * Special thank you to my dad for buying the tickets and taking me to the show.  Rain, Italian food, Starbucks, & Michael Flatley.  That is one heck of a daddy-daughter date! :D

• The Birth of Riverdance

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w0v_pu6miJ8

• “Feet of Flames”, my favorite incarnation of “Lord of the Dance”

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O0WfSm6-vQU

• Michael Flatley: A Night to Remember

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h1bn4C4Wo0

“Whenever I hear, ‘It can’t be done,’ I know I’m close to success.”  – Michael Flatley

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Moving On

Moving On

On Monday I left Texas, my home of 13 years. My family’s 6-bedroom house provided shelter to 26 people, not including me, my parents, and my brother; I always had extended family around me. On Tuesday I arrived in California, my new home; my family currently lives in a one-bedroom apartment above a garage. Quite the adventure we are on!! The picture you see above is my room, an empty room bursting at the seams full of memories. It is amazing to recall all the things that took place in that space: Babysitting, beauty transformations, concerts, counseling, dance practice, dreams, doll shenanigans, dramatic dress up, DVD viewings, emotional breakdowns, exercise sessions, fashion shows, fights, hide-and-seek, 2+ hour phone calls, illness rehabilitation, internet browsing, late night reading, outfit planning, schoolwork, and sleepovers. One last thing: Me and my best friend Gabby officially became friends in that room thanks to “Lord of the Beans.” I moved to Texas when I was 8, and I am now 21. My middle school, junior high, high school, and college years took place in that state. Many different struggles and transitions took place in that house; perhaps now you have a better idea of why it is so special to me. It is bittersweet to move on, but I will always carry the memories with me in my heart.

Treasure each moment readers! You never know when you will be uprooted and replanted.

– Lauren Michele :)

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