I didn't take a babymoon. You're welcome.

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I first saw the word babymoon printed in a guilty-pleasure - trashy magazine - along with photographs of a bikini-clad celebrity gallivanting in the sand during a pre-labor getaway with her pelvic affiliate and her diminutive ankles.

It's kind of hard to ignore the concept, what with circulars like this shoved in every other newspaper. 

But here's the thing. The babymoon trend has me feeling completely unconvinced.

I’ll be honest here. When I was pregnant, the furthest thing from my mind was cherishing together time while experiencing a romantic fling on the beach - or anywhere for that matter.

Reason being,  I was far too busy working out the logistics of ejecting a small-but-mighty organism through a part of my body I hadn’t been able to get a clear visual on for months.

Between my ever-expanding feet, my wildly indiscreet chest and my puffy reality-television-star pout, I was more concerned with just trying to appear human while I was in the process of producing one.

Even if I had wanted a babymoon I would certainly have been banned at the departing gate because - let’s face it - an exhausted, gassy hippopotamus wearing a catsuit and knitted shoes, tends to draw attention at all-inclusive beachfront resorts. And not in a good way.

See what I mean? 

Don't look directly at it.

So instead, my husband and I stayed home for the duration of my pregnancy and while I persistently weathered the relentless thrusts of hostile baby heels pressed firmly into my ribs, he diligently ran through several worst-case labor scenarios while staring in disbelief at the cartoon-like expansion of the figure waddling before him.

We were a less-than idyllic pair.

Bottom line -- babymoons are best left to those who believe in the concept of push presents. Mind you, I suppose I did fall victim to that trend. After a three day labor peppered with complications, I requested (and received!) a giant bottle of prune juice, which incidentally was worth its weight in diamonds.

And beach sand. 

No, really.

Hello, are you at Walmart?

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

Yesterday I called my local Walmart store to see if it was open.

Walmart is always open, just like gas stations, amazon.com and that guy named Slippy who sells acetaminophen at cost. Still, I felt the need to call because I am philosophically skeptical. Unlike Slippy.

I held the phone to my ear. There was no ring – only some muffled noises somewhat reminiscent of the sound a cocker spaniel makes when he licks a goldfish. I’m only guessing here.

As so often happens to me, I was dialing out, while - at the exact moment -  someone else was doing the same. Only, the man on the other end was not aware of this phenomenon and instead thought I was his wife. Or God. Whichever. I on the other hand, grew up in the country - with a party line - so hearing confused strangers on my telephone line is nothing new to me.

ME: Hello? Is anyone there?

Voice: Margaret? Is that you?

ME: Are you at Walmart?

Voice: How did you know I was at Walmart?

ME: I can see you.

Voice: You can?

ME: Yes.

Voice: Where are you?

ME: I'm here. Where are you?

Voice: I’m at Walmart.

ME: I'm sorry. I'm not Margaret. I can't see you. We must have just dialed our phones at the same time.

Voice: What do you mean?

ME: I was calling to see if Walmart was open.

Voice: But my phone didn’t ring.

ME: Neither did mine. That’s the point. So, how long are you open?

Voice: I’m not open. I’m trying to call my wife.

ME: She’s not here.

Voice: Ok. Thanks.

ME: WAIT! Don’t hang up! Is Walmart open?

Voice: I don't work here. Here's a cashier.

Cashier: Hello?

ME: Oh, thank God. I was just checking to see if you are open but someone was calling out from there while I was calling in.

(For the record, I always get this excited when I find out stores are open on a major holiday. I don't know why.  I may need counseling.) 

Cashier: I’ve never heard of that happening. I just loaned a guy my phone so he could make a call.

ME: I. Can’t. Not. Blog... about this.

Cashier: I'm sorry?

ME: Don't be. Seriously.

The moral of this story is to never, ever call Walmart. Or anyone who goes by the name of Slippy. Your choice.

No, really.

You need to leave now. Fortunately, you have train tickets.

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

My husband and I were in London, waiting to board the Eurostar train to Paris.

We were happy to sit - after making it through customs - and with the pause had a chance to scan our travel mates.

Some were sleeping. Others were reading newspapers. A few were deep in conversation with imaginary cats. One gentleman in particular was doing all three at once.

My husband offered to get me a snack in an effort to help ease my fears of traveling deep beneath the English Channel with potentially delusional companions.

He returned within seconds.

"Show me our tickets," he hissed.

"Why?" I questioned, "Are we at the wrong station? Did we come on the wrong day? Are we going to train jail?"

"Just show them to me, will ya?"

I did, and from there, our trip took an exciting turn.

We had First Class tickets, which meant we would be fed during our journey and possibly secluded from the masses. What it also meant was we had access to the First Class Lounge my adventurous partner had just discovered.

Through the glass walls, we could see soft leather chairs and elegant people gliding about with nary a make-believe cat in sight. We walked up to the door and it opened automatically for us. I heard angels singing. We transitioned from the loud sounds and obnoxious smells of the station proper, to the calm serenity of the lounge. It was breathtaking. Classical music played  as we were enveloped by the scent of fresh lavender. People in business suits were being fed grapes and oatmeal cookies. It was the closest I had ever been to heaven.

We were busy absorbing our luxurious surroundings when a man in uniform approached. 

He asked to see our tickets. I happily obliged. Then suddenly, the music stopped, all eyes turned to us and all I could smell was feet.

Man: You need to leave. Now.

Us: Pardon?

Man: Your tickets do not give you access to this lounge.

Me (confidently): We have First Class tickets.

Man (smugly): This lounge is for Business Class. First Class does not have a lounge. 

Husband: We forgot our suits.

Man:  Do you have an American Express card?

Husband (lying): Yes. Yes we do.

Man: May I see it?

Us: Nevermind.

Walking out of the lounge was not nearly as much fun as it was going in. 

I considered running back in and finding a spot under a table - but that would have been difficult, given the two large male escorts assisting us out the door. And by large male escorts, I don't mean the kind you see in expensive hotels and restaurants with really old wine. 

As the din of the station pierced my ears, I took a rock hard seat beside the sleep-talking, newspaper-reading cat-man, while my deflated husband went to buy one exorbitantly priced bag of stale crisps for us to share.

Once home - our trip over - I glued those tickets in a scrapbook with the words: Don't sneak into the business lounge at St. Pancras station in London (unless you like male escorts, in which case you should go ahead).

No, really.

Do not call us. Seriously.

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

The telephone rang. Geoff picked it up...

Geoff: Hello.

Caller: Yes, hello. My name is Steve. I am calling to you to let you know your computer is broken.

Geoff: That's amazing.

Caller: Yes. We have scanned your computer. It is full of viruses. I will help you remove the viruses.

Geoff: (silence)

Caller: Sir? Hello?

Geoff: What is this about again?

Caller: Viruses.

Geoff:  I'm not sick.

Caller: Your computer sir. Your computer is full of viruses.

Geoff: That's impossible.

Caller: But, we have done a scan on your computer.

Geoff:  I don't have a computer.

Caller: You don't have a computer?

Geoff: No.

Caller: But, everyone has a computer.

Geoff: I don't.

Caller : (silence)

Geoff: I have a tractor.

Caller: (stunned silence)

Geoff: My tractor is broken. Maybe you could help me fix it.

Caller: I. Um. I'm not sure I understand what you...

Geoff: It's the front tire. It just won't hold air.

Caller: I really don't think...

Geoff: I've tried everything but she leaks like a son of a bitch. I need my tractor. I farm you know. I can't farm without my tractor. I love my tractor. Listen, if you could fix my tractor you would really be helping me out a lot.

Caller: I can't do that.

Geoff: You mean, you can't fix my tractor?

Caller: No.

Geoff: Well then, why are you calling me?

Caller: I. Uh. I don't know.

More proof that we are the reason the do not call list was created.

No, really. 

11 free toys every child should enjoy

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

I've been stockpiling the funny stuff in my head, but in the meantime, have a peek at my latest post for Today's Parent magazine. It's all about creativity folks...

 No, really.