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Friday, January 29, 2010

Crazy People

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Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try.

Theodor Geisel

Ebay and I are up to our ears in…well it’s really hard to describe. There are about 20 Sam’s Club bags (the most awesome bags ever!) filed with combinations of plastic, fabric, paper etc. There are about 4 big u-haul boxes filled with corregated board, wooden dowels, orange cones, chalk pictures, mylar and latex.

And what, you ask, are we doing with all this stuff? We’re decorating, or rather getting ready to decorate for a big event over at the high school tomorrow.

It’s a funny thing about event decorating (or stage decorating too for that matter). There really isn’t any kind of mandate that tells you what you MUST do. There really aren’t any rules, it’s all about theme and imagination and design and just what you think will look good. That’s the awesome part, but it’s also the part that gets you…well, me anyway, in trouble.

As I look over the array of stuff that I have to transport from my poor living room to the high school I can’t help but wonder – what was I thinking? Why do I do this to myself? What kind of psychotic need for….I don’t even know….Attention…Validation…Artistic license …Creativity makes me draw and color and cut and glue all the stuff that we’ve put together for this event?

I think I’m happy with it. I think it will look good. But on the night before the event, I am once again questioning my sanity just a bit. It’s really a shame that I like doing it so much. You know how it is when you get carried away with your hobbies? I know I've seen Z spend waaaay too many hours on his videos or photos so I know he's gone down the crazy road with me. But I do wonder sometimes if a little therapy isn't in order for this type of ailment. Then again maybe this is our therapy.

So anyway, let me issue an invitation - For anyone in the Provo area on Friday evening or Saturday, come on over to Provo High and watch some fun ballroom dance competition. The decorations will awesome. Well, at least they look great in my imagination…

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Remembering The Sunshine

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Pic from somewhere on the internets. I found it a long time ago.

For the past 9 years this week has been a tough one for me. It is the anniversary of my dad's death, the week he lost his battle with cancer and I lost a part of my heart.

I usually become introverted and melancholy and it takes awhile to kick the funk and get back into the happier swing of things. However, this year I decided that I was going to approach things differently. I am taking control of my emotions by making it a week of celebration instead of loss - a celebration of the life he lived.

On Sunday I went to his grave. Spiderman has always been his favorite superhero and so I blasted Michael Buble's version of the Spiderman Theme Song from my car and performed it there with a combination of dancing and sign language. Irreverent? Maybe. But I drove away laughing, knowing he would have gotten a kick out of my antics.

Monday was a day for quarters. Dad always brought quarters to my kids whenever he would come to visit and so I took a roll of quarters and left them in places for others to discover. On the sidewalk at the elementary school, on top of the pumps at the gas station and on the shelves at the library. I even slid a few dollars worth inside of lockers at the high school when I went to my daughter's basketball game. It made me smile all day to think of someone finding one unexpectedly.

Yesterday I observed and I wrote. I made a list of all of the characteristics and quirks and qualities my kids have inherited from my dad and was reminded that he still lives in them. I looked at pictures of my brother and saw Dad there, too. It was a happy day.

Today I will freeze a box of Hostess Ding Dongs and share them with my family later tonight, along with some popcorn. These were two of his favorite treats. The Ding Dongs were a highly coveted delicacy and popcorn was a nightly staple when we gathered around the TV to watch everything from Highway To Heaven to The A-Team.

Thursday is a day of preparation. I will be cutting and gluing and getting things ready for Friday, the day I have been most looking forward to!

Friday will be ice cream day. Dad loved ice cream and I can not wait to share his love with unsuspecting people all over our city! Until this plan becomes reality I would prefer to keep the details to myself but let me just say this: I can NOT WAIT until Friday!

I guess the point of this post is this: I have the power to decide how to approach things. And I think it's safe to say that this week of this year is going to bring plenty of wonderful memories to mind for years to come. Unlike years past when I have chosen to reminisce on what was missing from my life, this year I have chosen to celebrate what I still have - nearly 28 years worth of wonderful memories of my father.

Happiness is a choice and it has made a world of difference to me that I planned to be happy this week. To the point where I don't want to stop, actually. Because you know what?

Nothing brings happiness quite like choosing sunshine when it feels like winter.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

On Haircuts

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I recently got my hair cut. You know, there’s nothing quite like going in as one person and walking out feeling like somebody entirely new—lighter, freer, happier

Of course it always feels nice to look nice, doesn’t it? Funny how something like that never really seems to go out of style…

I drove myself to my usual haircut place and signed in. I plopped down on the nearby waiting-area couch while an old episode of “The Office” played on the TV. I snatched up a few old issues of Entertainment Weekly so as to catch up on the latest from tinseltown.

I caught myself glancing over a few times—to pilfer a glimpse or two at those getting haircuts. It was amazing to see the many different transformations taking place right before my eyes.

I returned to my intermittent reading, and snatches of Dwight and Jim’s pranks as well.


The sound of my name drew me from my other world—reading up on the latest in box office record-setters, and the duds. It had finally come to be my turn to sit upon the ascending and descending throne.

The barber quickly ascertained which type of style I was going for and then set to work, deftly orchestrating both scissors and buzzers; her hands flying with lightning speed.

I glanced around at those who were waiting for their own turn at renovation; that’s when I noticed that I was being watched. However, each time I looked toward someone who’d been looking at me, they’d quickly look away and pretend that they hadn’t been looking at all.

This really does seem to be the human condition, doesn’t it? You know, that general feeling of discomfort making eye contact with those to whom we do not speak or know. I thought about this as Emily continued to cut my hair and chatted on about this, that, and the other.

It was that that moment that I decided to that the next time I managed to make eye contact with someone who’d been watching me, I’d smile at them…maybe wink, too. Really it would be brilliant; an entire species of look-awayers would be freed from their shackles; they’d realize that looking at someone was really okay. However, there was a problem…by the time I’d discovered someone looking and managed to crack a smile, the person had already looked away, pretending that they’d just been glancing around the room.


I thought about just staring at someone until they looked at me, and then giving them a charming smile. I changed my mind…something like that would be uber-creepy and that was most definitely not what I was going for.

All too soon my haircut was finished. My alteration was complete. Emily was vacuuming up the last-minute cleanups.

I made another quick scan around the waiting room, hoping to catch someone off-guard. Like onlookers at a crash scene, they looked away when my eyes swept over them.

Perhaps next time I’ll have better luck.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

You'll Shoot Your Eye Out With That Thing

Pin It I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Your Blogosphere, Lawson truly did shoot his sister with his BB gun. I blame it on Ralphie.

We first watched A Christmas Story together with Lawson a couple of years ago. I have never seen a child so enthralled by another boy's antics and misbehaviors as my own. It should have been a warning to me. He was particularly hopped up on the idea of owning a BB gun.

[While visiting Santa at the department store.]
Santa: How about a nice football?
Adult Ralphie narrating: Football? Football? What's a football? with unconscious will, my voice squeaked out: football.
Santa: Okay, get him out of here.
Adult Ralphie narrating: Oh, no! What was I doing! Wake up, Stupid! Wake up!
Ralphie: (Ralphie is shoved down the slide, but stops himself and climbs back up.) NO! NO! I want an official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred Shot Range Model Air Rifle!
Santa: You'll shoot your eye out, kid.

I stood in the classic Mother pose, hands on hips, toe doing the "Tell Me Now" tap. "It was an accident," Lawson protested.

Autumn stood behind him, arms crossed over her chest in mute protest. Was not.

"An accident? How about explaining to me how this 'accident' occurred," I requested. Grandma Anne hovered anxiously in the background. Her soft heart hates for the kids to get in trouble, and she'd tried to pass this off as as accident, but we knew better.

I could see signs that Lawson was about to break. His lower lip was trembling, and he was visibly agitated.

"I wanted to shoot my gun from up on the hay bale, and I wanted Autumn to help me get up on the hay bale and hold the gun, and she wouldn't help me! She just kept riding her bike around and around and around and around! Right in front of me!" He stopped, punctuating his statement with an expression of frustration so acute it was very nearly heartbreaking.

"Okaaaaayyy. And then what?" I prompted.

"I shot her!" As in, duh, Mom. Perfectly natural conclusion to draw.



I waited, not responding. Ah. There it was. The tell-tale eyeball shift. Down. To the left. Anywhere but mine. "Ok. So let me get this straight. You wanted Autumn to hold the gun while you climbed up on the hay bale, and she wouldn't do it, so you shot her."






"Was there perhaps any temper involved in shooting your sister?"

Ralphie: Ooooooh fudge!
Adult Ralphie narrating: Only I didn't say 'fudge.' I said THE word, the big one, the Queen Mother of dirty words, the F-dash-dash-dash word..."
Mr. Parker, stunned: WHAT did you say?
Ralphie: Uh...ummm...
Mr. Parker: That's...what I thought you said. Get in the car. Go on! Go!
Adult Ralphie narrating: It was all over. I was dead. What would it be? The guillotine? Hanging? The chair? The rack? Chinese water torture? Hmmph. Mere child's play compared to what surely awaited me.

"Were you mad at her?"

"Yeah..." He started crying.

"So it wasn't accidental?"

"Nooooooooooo!" Wailing now. "I was mad! She wouldn't hold the gun! She just kept riding her bike in front of me!"

"What if that had been a real gun? Or what if you had shot her in the eye instead of in the arm?"

Ralphie: Was there no end to this conspiracy of irrational prejudice against Red Ryder and his peacemaker?

I had my meanest mommy voice on now. This was serious business. Lawson was wailing in earnest now, great heaving sobs. I steeled myself against it. "You know better than that..."

I went on in this vein for a while, and finally administered his punishment. All of his toy guns would be immediately confiscated until further notice. It was entirely likely that he would not regain use of the BB gun until several months from now. I had been on my way to pick him and Autumn up for an afternoon movie treat; he would have to stay home and miss the movie. He would be grounded for a week, which meant NO Grandma's House, NO DS or Wii, and NO television. (Did I say he would be grounded for a week? I meant I would be grounded for a week.)

It has now been a week, and the restrictions have finally been lifted--all, that is, except for the toy gun ban. Those will not be returned for a while, I think. It's been pretty comical, though, because Lawson, in his extreme longing for a toy gun, built around a dozen of them out of Legos. It just goes to show that a boy's longing for a gun is an irrepressible thing. Take them away, or deny them altogether, and they will use fingers, sticks, blades of grass, Tinkertoys, and yes, Legos to improvise, creative, exasperating little buggers.

Miss Shields: Oh, the theme I've been waiting for all my life! Listen to this sentence: "A Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time." Poetry. Sheer poetry, Ralph. An A+!

Sometimes you just can't win.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dam It All

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Feelings are much like waves, we can't stop them from coming but we can choose which one to surf.

~Jonatan MÃ¥rtensson

I’m realizing more and more that I have an emotional dam.

I’ve never exactly been an emotional open book. But lately I’ve been feeling a looming sense of emotional build-up. Not that I’m an automaton, I don’t necessarily have trouble showing my emotions or talking about things - I just don’t have as much opportunity at this phase of my life as I have had before.

One reason I think is because I’m not married. Most married couples will spend some time talking over each other’s day, discussing family issues, or just simply talking about things. Sometimes that’s good for their relationship and sometimes….well, usually it’s a good thing. But I have been married so, unlike the never-been-married folks, I got used to the talking and notice its absence. I do have a good relationship with my kids, but they are still young enough that there are some things that they just don’t need to be burdened with yet – and can’t relate to anyway. I want them to be caring and aware and all of that, but I don’t want them to have to feel emotionally responsible for me.

In the past I have had those close kind of sharing relationships with co-workers. But that isn’t the case right now. I’m kind of isolated in my day-to-day work. I will interact with the kids a bit every day which I enjoy, but I’m not in the classroom on a regular basis. And, because of the nature of my job, I am kind of separate from the faculty…which, I’m sorry to say, I am really ok with.

And finally I have to take some personal responsibility for being kind of isolated too. I’ve had a series of not so fun events in the last couple of years that have shifted my life a lot and I just haven’t had the emotional wherewithal to connect or in some cases re-connect with people. Plus it takes me a while to get to a place with people where I feel comfortable opening that emotional vault.

So, the combination of past emotional turmoil that I may or may not have fully dealt with, few opportunities for the human interactive relief valve, and then just the general wear and tear of day-to-day living have led to this vague looming sense of emotional pressure. So perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised yesterday that after talking to my ex-husband on a subject about which we disagree, I found myself feeling cracks in the dam and the leaks starting. I was crying – well weeping actually. It wasn’t really the Ex’s fault. We have a pretty good relationship all in all and the thing we were disagreeing about isn’t life or death. I would like him to see my point of view and it is troubling that he doesn’t but in the long-run it isn’t worth a battle - I may even be wrong. But I was upset last night and unfortunately every single emotion I have seems to be connected to every other in some hazy, indistinguishable way so just as one thought leads to another, one emotion leads to another and threatens the structural integrity of the dam.

I don’t really have a resolution to this. I did some crying last night and I did some resealing and cementing of the dam as well. I realize that I am gong to have to do something about this so that I don’t find myself at some point running someone off the road in a rage or weeping uncontrollably in the grocery store isle.

Fortunately for me life itself can be a pretty effective therapist.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

That's About The Size Of It

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photo from everydayhero.com

I finally went running again (and I use that term loosely), just a couple of days ago at the indoor track of our local university. As was expected, I was feeling a bit rusty from nearly 3 months of inactivity. However, I was able to shuffle along for two full laps before I had to slow down, breathless, to a walk.

I continued this way with a walk/jog pattern for quite awhile before a lady commented to me in passing, "I can't believe I keep lapping you - you're so thin!"

Oh, yes, the common misconception. The fallacy I've dealt with my entire life: Skinny people are athletic, in great shape and SO lucky.

I am the polar opposite of overweight people. I can not gain weight; I have tried throughout my life. At the age of 14 (and on doctor's orders) I drank malteds every day for weeks and did not gain a pound. As a high school senior trying to gain weight so I could fit into a homecoming dress without shopping in the little girl's section or stuffing my bra (sorry... TMI?) I ate a dozen donuts a day for 3 days and then gave up when I lost 2 pounds. I guess what I am trying to say in some roundabout way is that people shouldn't have a bias against ANY kind of people and I totally feel a connection with others I know who are struggling with weight issues.

This brief interaction with some lady I didn't know reminded me of a blog post I read awhile ago where a friend talks about how difficult it was for her to start going to a gym because she's overweight. One of the comments she received said something about "stupid skinny people" at gyms and it really, really bothered me. It even bothered me that it bothered me, but you know what? I don't like labels. Or ignorance. It got to a point where I finally composed a response to her comment and posted it on my private blog just to make myself feel better.

Well, one of my goals for this year is to put myself out there some, to not hide behind the sunshine and roses that I usually write about. So... (*deep breath*) you want to read it? I'll admit that I did edit some of it out but the heart of it is still there.

Dear Commenter A.R.,

First off, you’re awesome for making time to get to the gym. I can never seem to prioritize well enough to get around to it. I am so out-of-shape it’s not even funny. I need to get serious about my health.

On to my purpose here. It made me a little sad, a little frustrated, a little ticked off when I read your comment which repeatedly referred to thin people who exercise as 'stupid skinny people'.

So, here it goes: We’re not all stupid. Even us skinny people have issues. I am probably more out of shape than most of the people you see in a day and I have struggled my entire life with being UNDER weight. (I know, poor me, being too skinny. I get that all the time, it’s why I don’t usually say anything.)

I am a stick of a person and I can’t help but wonder how nice it would be to find a top that fits – even sort of – in the WOMEN’S section. I am darn near close to 40 years old and I have never been able to shop in the Women’s clothing section. Does that make me less of a woman? Size-wise, I guess you could say YES. I don’t like shopping in the junior’s section because I look like one of those ladies who is still living in the past and can’t accept that she’s an adult now and needs to dress like one. I choose to not wear shorts or capri pants because I can’t stand all of the comments I get on my “chicken legs”. And that is just scratching the surface in the clothing department.

Any time I bring up the fact that I need to start exercising I get a few eye rolls along with comments about how I just need to eat more. No one wants to exercise with me because I’m skinny. How do you think that feels? I could go on and on, but I won’t.

You hate being overweight? Being stick skinny isn’t exactly a walk in the park, either. We all have our issues. Let’s just treat each other as equals and look beyond size. Please?

I'll tell you what... if you don’t call me stupid, I won’t call you ignorant.


That pretty much sums it up for me. My point of view is definitely not typical, but it is what it is. How about we all just look at each other as human beings? Even better, as children of God?

Okay, I'm done. Thanks for tolerating my little rant.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go get my running shoes on.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


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I am in the process of being won over…or perhaps not.

I’ve been a PC kind of guy my whole life. Really. I was the odd man out at both the schools I’ve worked at, being the only teacher with a PC instead of a Mac. I was ridiculed, shunned, and left out of so many private jokes that only a Macalonian would understand...and others that only they could appreciate.

What’s the fastest way to speed up a PC? Drop it off a building…

The PC just felt more comfortable. More familiar. More friendly. More better.

So what spawned the change three weeks ago to my entry into the world of Macness? Well, my PC had slowed down to a level rated at cataclysmically infinitesimal and I knew that something had to be done and done quickly.

What’s the difference between a PC and an Abacus? It doesn’t take 20 minutes to boot up the abacus…

I researched online, went to various stores, and talked to ‘experts’ in the proverbial field. The consensus was blindingly clear: Macs were the way to go, and if I didn’t jump on the computerized starship of Apple, I was a fool indeed and would be left behind in a world dominated by viruses and spyware.

What’s an Intel chip doing in a Mac? A whole lot more than it’s ever done in a PC…

At Simply Mac I was given the spiel. I found myself swaying, my foundations beginning to crumble. I discovered myself pulling out my credit card and spending far more than I’d originally planned. I’d been promised the world if I'd only own a Mac. I found myself driving home with a MacBook Pro tucked into the back seat - safely in place like a toddler. I brought it in and fired it up.

I hate it.

Hate is such an ugly word, isn't it? Perhaps that isn't the word I was really searching for...perhaps despise? Abhor? Loathe?

I was cautioned by several individuals to allow myself time to acclimatize to the new computer - at least two weeks before I passed any final judgements. "It's hard at first, but then you'll get to love it."

I figured that this advice also pertained both to smoking and becoming an adamant fan of country music. It always starts off with a lot of burning and discomfort. Much unease and throwing up in one's mouth - but just a bit. Then, in the end, one becomes a full-fledged chain smoker, breathing in that smoke like a chimney without the least bit of coughing. They listen to the twang of old guitar and caterwauling and come to see it as something more than audio pollution. I was told that this little computer was eventually going to win me over...

I was promised.

I'm going on week four and not feeling any great adoration toward this machine, but instead find myself looking longly at those with PCs, all of which are running a trove of programs that this computer either can't handle, or that simply don't exist for it.

And don't even begin to talk about Parallels...

So, to all of those out in the great void known as cyberspace, please let your wisdom illuminate upon me. Please tell me just why this machine is supposedly so wonderful and I will love it.

Why doesn’t Apple go the whole hog and run Windows XP on their laptops? That way their users could run some useful applications…

P.S. If you have any connections at getting a copy of CS4 for the Mac, I'd be most appreciative; it seems that this 'amazing' computer just can't quite seem to handle CS3.

Monday, January 18, 2010


Pin It There are two vehicles I don't like to be anywhere close to on the interstate: logging trucks and the Batesville Casket Company eighteen-wheeler. I was done with logging trucks after the first installment of Final Destination, and there's just something Twilight Zone about sharing road space with a really big truck advertising for caskets. And I see them all.the.freaking.time here lately. It's creeping me out, even with their utra nice "Please Drive Safely. Heaven Can Wait," message plastered across their big metal side.

I guess that's why I got to thinking about all of my driving peeves on the way back from Knoxville yesterday, and trying to find humor in them rather than getting all riled up by them. I have a fair number of them, which is pretty comical, because I'm not the world's best driver. Maybe the world's most mediocre driver. I drive too fast, according to people who drive too slow. And I drive too fast.

But anyway. I take full responsibility for my faults--and my tickets. And believe me, I've never gotten out of one yet. I'm not a sweet talker.

My peeves:

The Pull-Out and Crawl
You know the one. You're cruising along, minding your own B, and out they pull. You see them coming, and stomp on the brakes. Everything in your passenger seat and all of your backseat passengers are flung forward helplessly toward the dash, then yanked to safety by the harsh grip of seatbelts. You sigh, and wait for the puller-outer to get up to the proper speed, which should be somewhere around 45. Three minutes later, he's still going...30. You check the road behind you for the long stream of traffic you're sure is there--maybe he just had to make a break for it and chose then to do so. Nope. Clear as day. Really. He could've waited to pull out, make you slam on your brakes, and then CRAWL. @#$%*!

Left Lane Creepers
Did you realize that there actually signs on most highways that say "Slower Traffic Keep Right"? Signs everywhere except Virginia, I think. That's because Virginia is for Lovers, and not drivers. But really--just in case you missed this question in driver's ed--the left lane is traditionally for passing, not cruising. It's for those people that want to drive faster than the traffic in the right hand lane. This is probably one of The Most Aggravating things for me as far as interstate driving. When you see someone coming up behind you in the left-hand lane, and they are going considerably faster than you are, get over and let them pass you, then, if you must, get back in the left lane. This is not difficult.

It's not a question of, well, the speed limit is 65, and that young man looks like he's going 80, and I think I should slow him down a step. That's not anyone else's call but the state trooper's. If you see someone behaving really irresponsibly, call highway patrol (I've actually done this before), but don't react offensively--just get out of the way.

Side-by-Siders and Up-the-Butts
There are then the people who don't really want to pass you; they just want to either drive right beside you, or right on your butt. Now, some measure of close driving is unavoidable on the interstate. There are some busy interstates out there and it's hard to get away from people. But as a rule, it's not necessary to hold door handles or kiss bumpers.

The Fifteen-Unders
I'm a ten-to-fifteen over, so it really makes my back teeth clench--painfully--when someone wants to go fifteen under. Anywhere. And I try to be polite about it, I really do. I figure if I have the right (even though I really don't--I'm going to get a ticket) to speed, other people have the right to not speed. It just irritates me. It irritates me because I'm going to be late. Can't people just go the speed limit so they don't make other people late? Please? But then of course there's that perfectly obnoxious, perfectly TRUE statement that's been going around in my head lately: if you're not early, you're late. Blah, blah, blah. I think God's trying to tell me something.

I'm saved one of my favorites for last.

The Always-Have-To-Be-First/Can't-Keep-A-Constant-Speed-Psycho
Sorry--there's a lot rolled into this one. This is the person that rides your bumper until you gladly pull over and let him pass. And then he pulls over into the right-hand lane in front of you, and after a few minutes, you realize you're creeping up on him fairly quickly. But wait. Something's wrong, because your cruise control is set. It has been all along. No worries. You check your blinds, pull on out in the left lane again, and go your merry way. After a few more minutes, however, you realize the psycho is once again on your bumper.

You play the game for around ten minutes until you get tired of it, clearly mouth the words "CRUISE CONTROL!" as you make the inevitable creep back toward him, and make a big show of punching the resume button as you pass him for the fifteenth time.

But...ooops...you're in front again, and that just won't do. It's a race, after all, even if you're not headed to the same destination, and this loser just has to be first. He puts on another spurt of energy and comes up behind me for the pass. This time, I set my cruise control back a few mph. The frustration of going back and forth, in and out of lanes, is just not worth the extra time.

Now, I don't want to leave you with the wrong impression. There are actually things I like about driving, and roadtrips. Music, for example. I just got an Ipod and a car adaptor, and it was so nice to have five uninterrupted hours of music I love and an excuse to listen to it. Scenery's another thing. I wish I had time to just drive all over the place, stop the car at will and whim, and explore with my camera. You can't really do that with places to be, and people waiting on you. Kind of crimps your style. And then there's food. There's just all sorts of interesting food on the road--like Slim Jims and YooHoos.

Riding in a car is the only good time for a Slim Jim and a YooHoo.

This is a trip, I think, that could go on forever, so I'm just going to end it now. I respectfully await submissions of your driving peeves.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hymns Not Heels

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Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes.


I was listening to my mom and some of her friends chit chat the other day – yes, kind of eavesdropping because I feel like her friends give me funny looks sometimes and it makes me wonder what my mom is telling them about me - but that’s a WHOLE other story. Anyway, their conversation was about whether or not it was proper to wear a skirt or dress without stockings – you know – nylons, especially to church. The general consensus of these ladies was that indeed it was not appropriate to have bare legs at church. I realize that this is probably a generational thing. That generation – like the ladies in Steel Magnolias – just didn’t go out without lycra on their thighs and nylon on their knees. And actually I can remember going through a lot of plastic-egg stockings about 20-25 years ago myself. But times change, and while tights are ok, most women don’t wear the flesh colored nylon tubes so much anymore - and personally I’m ok with this. I don’t think bare legs are akin to discarding the corset and tossing away all ties to virtue.

However, I’ve noticed a trend lately that has pushed me closer to the cranky Victorian Prude Club. This isn’t a club I necessarily want to join, so I could use some feedback…just to see if my crank-o-meter is overreacting.

I live in a ward (a church boundary area) that has quite a few upwardly mobile relatively affluent young couples. These couples all seem to be very fashion forward and the women have some really fabulous shoes –the men too actually, but my beef is really more with the women. If fashion is your thing, I think it’s great to have fun with shoes – colors patterns, prints, heals, buckles, bows and all of that. But I do find myself wondering if every type of shoe is appropriate for a church setting. I know how this makes me sound, but I can’t help but wonder if church is really the place for an elevated peep-toe, 6 inch heel leopard print pump. Can you really teach primary in black thigh-high leather stiletto boots? And it seems to be hard to chase a toddler across the foyer in scarlett patent leather stacked-heel strappy sandals – especially when there’s 6 inches of snow outside.

Leggings are another thing I’m wondering about. Leggings are like tights without the feet – usually black, and often popular with teenage girls. They wear an extra long top or really short skirt with leggings underneath – kind of like pants – and it can be a really cute look on some people. But, like my mom’s blue-hair crowd and the stockings, I find myself wondering if wearing the mini dress with leggings is really ok for church. For a date - Yes. For the movies - go for it. For dancing - you betcha’. But for studying the word of the Lord? I’m not so sure.

I’ve probably crossed way over into crank-a-potomas-land and I do realize that at the end of the day attending church is more important that what you wear to church (for those who are believers). But I guess that’s kind of my point too. Maybe Church shouldn’t be about the fashion as much as it is about the message. And maybe skewing towards the more conservative end of the closet and passing up the stripper heals just once a week wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bigger Is Not Always Better

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My 5-year-old, Hubba, has been a train-lover for as long as I can remember. This last Christmas he got an amazing train layout for someone his age, complete with bridges, a crane station, sound effects and a remote control with forward and reverse action. Every time we set it up on the kitchen table he is glued to it for hours on end, re-building the layout of the track and watching the engine chug uphill with random items placed in the freight cars it pulls from behind. There is only one problem with this little slice of train heaven and that is his 20-month-old brother, O.

Have you ever seen the movie Lilo and Stitch? Remember how Stitch can not stand to be still? How he goes crazy when he is not destroying something? That would be O. When Hubba's trains are out O's main objective is to discover a way to get onto the table and maniacally throw train pieces to the floor.

A few days back, this was the struggle I was dealing with. Frantic screams of Mom, he's getting on the table!! from Hubba were becoming draining. I was trying to organize my kitchen cupboards and somewhere around the 4th plea to remove O from the table I found my solution: a tiny wind-up train with a small, circular track which I had purchased for a quarter at a secondhand store last summer. The original plan was to place it on Hubba's birthday cake last October but it had been forgotten in the back of the cupboard.

I placed the small track on one side of the table and while winding the train told O, "This is your train. That is Hubba's train. Okay?" and then set the wind-up engine down on the track. He squealed with delight as the train made its way around the tiny circle and was fascinated by this new distraction. Perfect.

As I got back to organizing O let out a frustrated cry. I turned to see Hubba playing with O's little train. "I want this train," he told me. "Sure," I answered, feeling clever, "then O can just have your train set. Okay?"

"Okay," he replied, winding the cheap train and watching it circle the minuscule track.

"Hubba," I reasoned, "you want to give O your big train set with the bridges and remote controller?"

"Yeah," he answered, winding the dime-store train again, "he can have it."

Don't you hate when they call your bluff?

The whole thing brought this comparison to mind: how often do we have something that is wonderful and amazing only to see that someone else has something we don't have... and then our focus changes. Suddenly what we have is not good enough and we want something else; something we don't have and think that we want or even need. When this happens it can be difficult to recognize and appreciate how happy we really already are.

I'm not only talking about possessions like gadgets and cars and houses and stuff, but about things like people and happiness and time and silence... and the list goes on and on. Why is it so easy to get in that mindset of the-grass-is-always-greener-somewhere-else and so difficult to see what amazing things and blessings we DO have and to just be thankful?

I can't even begin to count how many times in my own life I have found myself looking at another person's things, their place in life, even something as simple as the number of comments on their blog (you know it's true... they're like blog-applause!) and wishing that that were me. I realize that I need to stop recognizing the things I don't have and start counting my blessings instead. THAT is where true happiness lies.

I think that the idea I am trying to express is well defined in a quote by Epictetus:

He is a wise man who does not grieve
for the things which he has not,
but rejoices for those which he has.

Still, try explaining that whole concept to a 5-year-old...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Chain Text

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The lonely wind howled outside my window, like a lost, friendless soul wanting to get in. I gazed at my ceiling, full of sullen darkness—inky and black. I listened as the sounds of the night as they cascaded around me, nestled under a warm comforter. As I closed my eyes to take in the hours of sleep awaiting me, my phone beeped, an indicator that I had just received a text message.

I glanced blearily at the clock; now just who would be texting me at 10:20? I looked at the number and immediately knew that it wasn’t someone that I spoke to on a regular basis; after all, their number didn’t show up in my contacts.

The text read:

FWD: FWD: FWD: FWD: Brake this chain u will c a lil dead BOY in ur room 2nite. In 53 secs someone will say they lov u.send 2. 10

What in the world? Now who would send a text like this at such a late hour? I remembered getting a chain letter in the mail once when I was a kid, promising that I’d be rich in a couple days if I copied the letter and sent it to ten other people; I also remembered not getting rich after doing so. However, this text was entirely different, I was being threatened with seeing dead people in my room if I didn’t send the text onward and curse 10 of my friends or family members with the same thing.

What was this, The Sixth Sense?

I waited for 53 seconds. Nobody said that they loved me…odd. Could the text have been wrong?

Well, I decided to find out who the mysterious culprit was who’d sent it, and dialed the return phone number.

The phone rang six times and then reverted over to the voicemail, which was a recording of the number I’d just dialed in the ‘telephone operator’ voice.

I hung up the phone and turned over to go to get back to sleep when my phone rang.

I answered.

“You called me?” came a vaguely familiar voice.

“That all depends,” I replied. “Just who is this?”

It turns out; it was a boy who was in my class two or three years ago. I’ll call him ‘Joey’ just for the sake of this post. It just so happens that he’d copied my number from his mom’s cell phone back when she was a volunteer in our classroom, and had added it to his own phone.

“Did you just send me a text telling me that a dead kid was going to visit me?”

His voice turned desperate, “I had to send it, Mr. Z!”


“Well, I didn’t want that dead kid to show up in my room so I sent it to ten people.”

“Ah, so you decided punish the rest of us with curses of dead people if we don’t do it?”

His voice was quiet. “Well, yeah…”

I thought for a moment then said, “I’ll tell you what; I’ll take the chance. I won’t send this text to ten people to see what happens…if the dead kid shows up, I’ll let you know, okay?”

“Actually, I don’t want to know if he does, Mr. Z.”

“Oh. Well, would you like me to deliver any messages to him for you?”


“Alright. Well, you have a great evening, sir.”

“You too, Mr. Z.” He said with a yawn. “And Mr. Z?”


“I miss being in your class.”

“Yeah, I miss having you there, too.”

I hung up the phone and waited for my ghostly visitor to arrive. I had a trove of questions I wanted to ask, messages I wanted delivered to loved ones who’d passed on, and I wanted to get to know this apparition. Look out Ghost Hunters!

After a few minutes…nothing.

I finally turned over and fell in to the warm pillow and cozy blankets as the wind continued to moan outside. I wondered, just to whom does one complain when these things don’t work out as advertised? I know that I felt like I was ripped off…

Monday, January 11, 2010

One Convoluted Tale and How One Thing Leads to Another

Pin It I'm a magnet for trouble. Like, for real. Nothing is ever simple. If I can break it, I will, and nine times out of ten, it will happen two days after the warranty expires. If there's a speed limit, I will exceed it.

I don't remember if I told you, but right before Thanksgiving, the phone rang. (Actually, I'm pretty sure I didn't tell you that.) I answered it, and it was for my husband, who had just left the house but was still standing in the driveway. I leapt up from the couch, determined to be a GREAT wife and get the phone to him before he left.

I sort of tripped over the cord to my laptop and did a faceplant on the den floor, along with my computer. Face was fine, as were the spectacles. Computer looked fine, although the little thingamajiggy where the power cord plugged into said laptop did look a little...different. I plugged it in anyway and went about my business.

Later that evening, I noticed sparks coming from the thingamajiggy. "Hmm. That can't be good."

Long story and one new useless power cord later, I learned from the "We Fix Stupid Computers" people that I had melted the power jack. I was handed my hard drive in a little silver box, told they may or may not be able to fix the problem, and I should probably buy a new computer, because "this is probably going to take some time."

So I bought a new computer. And new Word. And other new programs. I attempted to buy new CS4, my lovely photoediting software that typically costs the earth. I found an "unlicensed" version for only $149, and got REALLY excited. ("Why are we so cheap? Because we don't sell you the 'frilly' packaging for an additional $900 big ones, moron!") Yep. I bought it. Hook, line, and credit card. In my defense, it had worked with my prior CS3 program for $69.95.

At any rate, after something like twenty-two installation attempts later, I finally gave up. This was just not going to work. I was going to have to suck it up, and go back to Photoshop Elements or something. Waaaa.

Around that time, I happened to stumble upon an ad for a STUDENT edition of CS4, for only $199. WOW. Was I eligible? I had taken a couple of online classes just a summer or so ago through Northern VA Community College for recertification....can we do it? YES, WE CAN!

HOLY GUACAMOLE, as Skippy Jon Jones would say. That's awesome. All I have to do is click here, and then click there....and voila. CS4 on the way.

So I waited. And waited. And around a week later, my software arrived. And...uh, oh. It didn't actually have a complete installation key. Seems you have to provide proof of current enrollment to Amazon in order to receive that serial number. Huh. Why is life never SIMPLE??? I just want to play with my pictures.

Well, fortunately for me, I needed to take a couple of classes anyway for recertification points, and had no intention of waiting until the last minute like I did last time. So, I scanned the NVCC course catalog of online classes and decided upon Teaching Childrens' Literature. Lovely. It would only cost a few hundred more.

Lovely. Lovely. Lovely.

So, folks, this is how I got from busting up my computer to starting an online course today. And now, if you'll excuse me, I have some homework to do. (On my new computer, because my old computer is still over at "We Fix Stupid Computers." I'm not sure if it's actually fixable or not...)

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Date

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I'm a twenty-something university undergraduate. I tend to waste most of my free time either reading stacks of books or doodling. I live in Idaho with my husband and our two children, who are admittedly somewhat smaller than most children, far furrier, and certainly much fonder of fish and poultry byproducts. When I don't have my nose stuck in a book, I also make soap, as well as dabble in knit and crochet.

In the event of a sudden crisis, I always know where my socks are.

At 11:15pm I manage to block the cats from escaping, lock the door to my apartment and begin the tedious process of defogging my car. For a Friday night, the streets are unusually clear. The streetlights are already blinking red for the night as I make my way through town and onto the highway that leads me to Pullman. I pop in a bit of Nightmare of You and crank up the stereo to keep myself awake and alert.

In ten minutes, I've crossed the state line from Idaho to Washington. Moscow may be dead quiet, but my destination appears to be a different story altogether. As I pull into the parking lot of the local Denny's, I manage to snipe the last available parking space. The lot (and restaurant) is packed, which I certainly hadn't been expecting at this hour. I scan the booths as I walk past the windows, but my date is nowhere in sight. I do a slight double-take of the parking lot, just to be sure. Did he stand me up? Better not have! But no, his truck is there, just beyond the reach of the streetlamp. He's definitely here. Crap, how long has he been waiting?

I feel a tad giddy as I tug absentmindedly on one braided pigtail, smooth out my knit sweater, and step inside. Warm air rushes out to greet me and there he is, dress-shirt untucked, looking calm, composed and gorgeous. And waiting for me, of all people! He sees me and stands, plants a very chaste kiss on my cheek, and puts an arm around my waist to pull me in close. I'm still trying to figure out how on earth this man has been waiting here to have dinner with me. He grins when he sees my face, and in embarrassment I realize that, despite my attempts to dress up for the occasion, I've forgotten to take off my Pokeball earrings. Frak...I'm such a nerd.

Regardless of the long wait and the lack of service (it is a busy night, after all), dinner is wonderful. He tells me about his week, how wonderful things have been, and how bright our future looks. Butterflies stir up briefly in my stomach when he says our future. Not to be outdone, I tell him about classes, my plans for the rest of the fall and the coming spring. I fold my arms in front of me and absentmindedly run my tongue across my teeth, self-conscious about the braces that still have a few months more to go before I can finally be rid of them. Out of the corner of my eye, I see him mirror my movements. Every time he lays a hand on the table, it gets closer and closer to mine, and I start blushing like mad. He totally likes me.

It's ridiculously hot in here. I feel like such a teenager. I'm out of water; my mouth is unusually dry, and I can't stop licking my lips. When the waitress never comes by to refill my glass, he slides his in front of me. Am I that obvious? I smile my thanks and take a sip, pushing it back to him. Dental preservation be damned, he chews on a piece of ice and grins at me.

It's getting late. Despite the sub-par service, he tips the waitress generously and wishes her a wonderful morning (by now, it is morning). He walks me to my car and opens the door for me, planting another kiss on my lips before he says he loves me and shuts the door. He walks back to his own car and waits until I've pulled out safely before leaving the lot himself. It's been a good night; I crank up the stereo and sing along. I feel so uncharacteristically happy. He loves me! I sing louder and louder until it can't even be called singing anymore; it's akin to some poor homeless despicable solo, and I giggle uncontrollably as I again cross the state line back into Idaho.

The porch light turns on as I reach the front steps and unlock the door. I set the mail on the counter, feed the cat, and slip into my pajamas. I pick up a ball of yarn and continue crocheting where I'd left off earlier that evening. Within a few minutes, I hear the front door open as he lets himself in.

"We should do this every week" he says, donning a pair of slippers and flopping onto the couch next to me. Who knew dating your husband could be so much fun?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sick of Being Sick

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I know that Teachin’ wrote a post about being sick a week or so ago. But unfortunately it’s on my mind too because I am sick, I’ve been sick for a while now and I am just sick of being sick.

I was sick all through my school’s Christmas break. And now we’re back to school and I’m still sick. The sick interfered with my merry making during the holidays (not that I generally make all that merry – but hey I could have this year if I hadn’t been sick). And now the sick interfering with my New Year’s resolutions. I have brand new bought-at-the-after-Christmas-sale walking shoes, still in the box because working out hasn’t really been an option.

I don’t think I was the friend that Teachin’ talking to when he declared his profound truth “I like to get sick – because it makes me appreciate when I feel well.” I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me because I probably would have smacked him around a little bit. On his blog day Z was grateful for the “privilege of being sick.” I’m not saying that he isn’t right. We all need the bitter to appreciate the sweet; We need the storm to appreciate the calm; we need 3 1/2 weeks of sleep deprived coughing to appreciate that 6 hours of sleep a night really isn’t so bad. But I am coming up on a month now of being sick and if I don’t find a way to get some sleep soon it’s very possible that I could have a psychotic break. So let’s just say I’m feeling too immature to agree with Z today.

This particular sick has turned into a kind of nasty and persistent lung incursion. I’m having trouble catching my breath (which is why walking is problematic) and as I said, I’m doing a lot of coughing. I’ll spare you all the disgusting phlegmy details – sufficith to say that I have strong opinions about pretty much every kind of over-the-counter concoction, herbal or otherwise, they try to pass off as cold medication; and I’m sure I’ve killed off a fair portion of rainforest with the boxes and boxes of Kleenex I’ve used (well, Walgreen’s generic facial tissue actually).

The other day though, it got serious enough with the breathing issue (and I became psychotic enough with the not-sleeping issue) to take myself to the doctor to have them poke and prod and hold a stethoscope to my wheezing lungs. Well actually Ebay drove me since I really don’t have any business operating a moving vehicle right now.

It didn’t take the doctor long to agree that yes indeed, my lungs didn’t sound good. He put me on a nebulizer – a first for me. Ebay was out in the waiting room and since I wanted to let him know that he’d be waiting for a bit, I texted him from the exam room telling him that I was about to be breathing through a nebulizer.

“Cool.” Ebay answered. “A doctor approved Bong.”

“What do you know about bongs?” I texted back.

“Hey, I’ve seen Alice in Wonderland.” Ebay answered.

Well, hard to argue with Lewis Carol - plus he was pretty much right. My mind jumped to the caterpillar with the pipe too when the machine started up. But bong-inspired or not, this was a fabulous machine! Seriously, where has this been all my life? It was the first deep breaths I’d been able to take for weeks – it was glorious!

So now I have some good drugs – an antibiotic, an inhaler and some of that great cough medicine where I actually could get in trouble if I took it and operated a moving vehicle. And while I will be so relieved when phlegm dam (or is that damn phlegm?) finally breaks and I get better, I’m sorry to say that I just don’t think I’ll look back on this last month as a privilege.

But getting better will be something to be grateful for so I guess I can see Z’s point - at least a little bit. But I think that’s as mature as I can get until I get more sleep.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

You've Got Mail

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photo from flickr.com

I have always loved getting mail. One of my earliest memories is of a card I got in the mail for my 2nd birthday. It was from my Grandma and Grandpa Royce and it included a dollar bill with a note telling me that I should have daddy take me to buy any kind of ice cream that I wanted. I'm not sure if this was the beginning of my love affair with mail but there are many times since that I have waited longingly for the mail to arrive.

When I was a teenager it always made my day to receive letters from my cousin in Sacramento or my friends in Washington or Montana. To increase my chances of receiving mail I wrote numerous letters to others in hopes that they would be reciprocated. Each letter I have ever sent has felt like a gift - a part of myself. Each envelope contained news of my life, my thoughts, feelings and ideas - on paper which I meticulously decorated with a treasured set of markers stored in a bright yellow box. As I would add the stamp to each letter and send it off from the blue mailbox on the corner there was a sense of excitement in knowing that a small part of myself would be traveling to these places so many miles away... and receiving a letter was always equally as thrilling.

The only thing that can even compare to the happiness of receiving a letter is the thrill of receiving a package. Can any words adequately describe the happy tummy-tickling feeling you get when a package arrives with your name on it?

I didn't think so.

When I receive a box or padded envelope in my mailbox or on my doorstep I can hardly contain myself - I am enveloped in that feeling of a child on Christmas morning and have to resist the urge to immediately tear into it and discover what treasure it contains. The best sort of package is the kind that arrives, unexpected, from a friend. It is like receiving a little piece of heaven at your door to discover that someone has not only been thinking of you but that they acted on it by putting together a package for you - just because.

Heaven, I say.

Not only do I get mail from the mailbox in my front yard these days, I have another mailbox I can check more often - the one on my computer. Because times have changed it is much more likely now that I will receive a treasured letter in my email inbox than one packaged in an envelope with a stamp in the corner. I often become excited when any length of time has passed since I have checked my email - simply the anticipation that there could be a message waiting there for me is exciting. I log in, watch as the computer uploads my information and quickly scan through my inbox for the treasures among the junk. When I see a friend's name on the left side of my screen, I play something of a game with myself. I make myself weed through all of the other mail first and then reward myself with the words of a dear friend when my task is complete.

Regardless of how it gets here or what form it takes, mail is something that always has - and always will - make me smile.

I. Love. Mail.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

You Look Funny

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I went to school yesterday—deciding that I’d not wear my glasses.


Oh, I don’t know; vanity I suppose. After all, have you ever seen somebody who wears glasses all the time, then, when they get contacts or corrective surgery, they always tend to look like they’re blind? You know, with that I-just-don’t-look-quite-right-look?

Yeah, so have I; there was no way that I was going to become one of those people…I’d already had a student walking down the hall a month or so ago who made the comment, “You look funny, Mr. Z.”

Now, how just does one respond to something like that? Perhaps with a heartfelt ‘thank you?’

Luckily, the child went on to explain: “You don’t look right without your glasses.”

Ugh, the lack-of-glasses-blindness-curse was beginning to descend upon me! So now perhaps you can see my dilemma, and also my incessant desire to not join the masses that ‘look funny’ without their glasses on. To combat this I decided to wear my glasses a few times a week, and then come to school a few times in contacts. That way, I’d look great both ways.

I know…pure, unadulterated genius.

So yesterday I debated on whether or not to wear the glasses, finally deciding to forgo the four-eye look, and sport contacts. Since I was pressed for time, I dropped two of lenses from the package into my computer bag and gathered up my various and sundry items to head out for the school day, confident that I’d just put them in when I had a few spare moments.

Problem #1: most teachers don’t have ‘spare moments.’

Spare moments tend to be a luxury which doesn’t happen very often, and yesterday was one of those chock-full days. There was no way that I had any time in which to put a set of contacts in. From the moment I walked in the school, until I left at some undisclosed time in the darkening hours in the early evening, I was swamped; so with this, poor vision then became the norm.

That’s when I started to make the discovery: when I can’t see properly, I get used to it. I come to believe that that is just what the world looks like, and come to accept it as reality. This is a horrible mistake when, in reality, the world is a much more stunning place with clear and beautiful colors, and everything is sharp and well-defined. But, with the lack of my eye enhancements, everything was a blur for me—the whole day. If I looked down the hallway I’d have to struggle to recognize a student; whereas, with my glasses I could have nailed them with my 20/10 vision.

You heard me…20/10, baby.

So today, I decided that I would put my contacts in before I left for school—taking one extra minute that I knew I’d not have later in the day. Will it all work out in the end? I don’t know. But heaven knows that I need to avoid the ‘blind man’ look with a well-planned preemptive strike.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Being Busy and Chick-fil-A

Pin It I decided today's post was going to be the Chick-fil-A post, because it's 9:30 p.m. Virginia time and I'm still in my heels, for sweet Pete's sake, and I've only just now finished my supper of leftover tomato soup. I really, really had a craving for Chick-fil-A, but the closest one is about a twenty-two minute drive and I just couldn't do it. I was starving! Not after vacuuming three floors, mopping two floors, cleaning a kitchen, dusting three rooms, fixing a computer, going to the bank, cleaning a potty, making supper, making a taco dip (very yummy, will post recipe), going to the grocery store, going to Lowes and buying a staple gun (but forgetting the staples, naturally), doing three loads of laundry, just some general straightening up, and hosting my Bible study...all in my freaking heels.

Man, my feet hurt. I'm starting to get my momma's corns, and they hurt.

I figured the only wisdom I'd be able to impart at this point would be the Chick-fil-A song, which oddly enough was fairly appropriate considering my state of starvation and my fairly constant craving for their food. Since I was running around like that proverbial chicken today, I didn't get to take the kids by after school for their fix, either--so they're sort of going through withdrawals. It's pretty ugly. They shake their heads in agony when I present them with a bagged meal from the freezer section of the grocery store. "What is this? Eat Mor Chicken!"

I'm really sorry this post is a little late, but it was just one of those days. It was a busy day. Around mid-afternoon, when the weariness started to hit, I almost started to feel sorry for myself for being so busy, and a little aggravated with myself. Why are you so stupid? All you really needed to do was vacuum in front of the door and wipe the toilet seat in case anyone needed to pee. And maybe give the counters a little swipe. You really didn't need to break out the heavy artillery. Moron. You could be sitting on the couch right now, reading a book. Or maybe eating something.

Then it hit me--my conscience, I mean. You are so stinkin' blessed, girlfriend. Your sheer busy-ness is a blessing! Just think of what it means to be busy--you have people in your life. You have friends. You have family. They need you and depend on you. They know they can rely on you. You have been entrusted with all of these responsibilities to care for--yep, they can be burdensome every now and then, but how empty your life would be without them. And the same goes for your Things. The Things that your have to clean--like those hardwood floors that you just live to vacuum and mop over and over again. They're beautiful. Don't complain over the labor that accompanies the beauty.

I love it when my head actually speaks wisdom to me.

Just for giggles: The Chick-fil-A Song Video

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Mailbox


I'm The Mum married to The Sexy Scout Master. We've been married many moons and in that time have had seven offspring (The Natives). One of The Natives, Levi, has AHC, is mentally handicapped and on the autism spectrum. I've been battling West Nile Virus for three years now and counting. Sometimes I win, sometimes it wins; when it does I nurse my wounds in chocolate and go shopping on the internet for more shoes!

When I was a snot-nosed punk growing up in Montana we did not have a T.V. I know, it's shocking, isn't it? And to think I actually survived...but survive we did. We had hours and acres of land to entertain ourselves with.

Our mailbox is very much a part of my growing-up memories. It was painted bright red—but more importantly—it was big. Not one of these little silver numbers you'd find at the end of people's driveways on your way into town, but instead a real mailbox.

My younger sister and I would climb up on top of the mailbox and rock it back and forth, pretending we were riding a horse. Sometimes we'd drag out the saddle and haul it up onto the mailbox; however, most often we'd just ride it bareback.

One day riding the mailbox wasn't good enough, and since it was so big we decided to see if my younger sister could fit into it. After trying to shove her into it several times without much luck we decided to get our older sister involved—after all, she was taller and stronger.

Our older sister obliged. Since she wasn't laying mesmerized in front of a T.V. she was up for our suggestion of entertainment. We figured out that if we took my little sister and put her in feet first, we could cram her into the mailbox. We shut the door on her and laughed with delight when she'd push her head against it and "pop out." Both my older sister and I looked at each other as the demons inside of us started rearing their ugly heads, and an idea began to form.

I realized that the mean, old, crotchety mail lady hadn't come by that day as of yet, and we began to utter chuckles of evil delight.

We had an awesome wraparound porch on our beautiful old farm house which was also equipped with a porch swing. My older sister opted to hang out on the porch swing, this way she'd be miles away from the action if something went wrong; you know, that whole guilty-by-association thing.

What a wimp!

I hid behind a big tree which we called the umbrella tree. We would spend hours climbing and hanging out in its branches imagining all sorts of things, but that is another story for another day. The tree was not close enough for the mean, old mail lady to see me but close enough that when I yelled out, "now!" my little sister could execute her part in the prank.

Imagine two little children shivering with delight, waiting for the exact moment. Me dancing in place not being able to stand the suspense, and who knows what my little sister was doing crammed up in that mailbox, but she was a good sport and she waited.

We didn't have to wait long. Down the dirt road came the mail lady. She was driving her brand-new car. Where we grew up, they didn't have mail trucks. The mailmen/women drove their own cars, leaning across the passenger seat to drop the mail in our boxes because the steering wheel wasn't on the right side of the vehicle.

Giggling, I crouched behind the tree watching for the precise moment. The mean, old, crotchety mail lady pulled up to our mailbox, leaned across the passenger seat, and raised her hand to open the mailbox. At that moment I yelled "NOW!" and my little sister's head popped out of that mailbox as she yelled, "BOO"!

Well, that mean, old, crotchety mail lady jumped back across her car, banging herself against her door with a shriek that you could have heard in the next county over. I fell in a heap of laughter and giggles on the ground as my little sister - still stuck in the mailbox and blocked by the mean, old, crotchety mail lady's car—dissolved in a fit of laughter. Oh, it was delightful until that venomous old creature got a hold of herself and gave my little sister a serious tongue-lashing.

I told you she was mean and old and crotchety, didn't I? Well, she lectured my sister and told her that she could have scratched her new car when the mailbox door banged open against it. But you know what? I can't really say that we cared. Tears were running down our faces and my poor sister was making the mailbox rattle and convulse with her shrieks of laughter and hiccups.

The mail lady drove off in a huff, and I went and rescued my little sister so that we could both again dissolve in peals of laughter on the ground.

Later, after reflecting on the event and filling our parents in on it during dinner that night, Mom made us shove my sister back in the mailbox again so she could get pictures. It was then that my little sister and I decided that we really didn't like the way our mean, old, crotchety mail lady had reacted. It was a harmless, fun prank; therefore, being the older sister who would defend her little sister with fists if need be, I soon decided that this mean, old, crotchety mail lady needed to be taught a lesson for yelling at my little sister over something so harmless.

I had been out walking down the dirt road that went in front of our house and had found a dead snake which had been smooshed with the passing of many vehicles. Yet again, another evil little grin covered my face as I picked it up with a stick and carefully laid it to rest in our big, old, red mailbox and put up the flag.

Special delivery for the mean, old, crotchety mail lady.
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