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Monday, May 31, 2010

A Declaration: Reprise

Pin It Hullo, everybody.

I did post a post today. Only it says I posted it Thursday. (IT being Blogger. The Man Behind the Curtain.)

I think it may be because I started working on it Thursday, maybe? I don't know. It's here, somewhere...maybe under Thursday's date.

Just call me Technologically Impaired.

UPDATE: This is Teachinfourth, you can find Lori's post right below this one…

You're welcome.

A Declaration

Pin It Out on the playground, a little boy approached a girl sitting under the sweeping branches of a gnarled oak tree. She was reading a book. "Hi, Jane. I'm Max. I just wanted to tell you that I really like your red dress today. It makes me think of my Grandma Mertie's teapot. It's really cool. It whistles."

He waited, but Jane didn't glance up from her book. "Oh, okay. Well, bye, then. Guess I'll see you tomorrow."

Off he ran, to the swings at the far end of the playground.

In her mind, Jane pondered his compliment and smiled a secret little smile. A red teapot? That sounded...cheerful. Her inside smile grew bigger. That was a very nice thing to say. She smoothed the front of her red shirt, and resolved to wear it again the very next day, as long as her mother would let her...

I have this problem, and from what I'm hearing, many of you other blogger-people do, too.

Here it is. I'm just going to say it. I love blogging, but blogging is a time suck.

There's so much involved in creating and maintaining a successful blog. There's first the daily hour or so spent writing. That's the fun part. Actually, it's all kind of fun--that's sort of the problem. Blogging's a lot more fun than cleaning toilets and doing laundry.

You tap, tap, tap at the keys and then sit expectantly back and await others' critique of your brilliance or your folly, as the case may be. You check back at periodic intervals (read: every ten minutes) to see if anything's changed. You reply to comments. You obsess over why no one has commented, and of course you can't clean or cook while you're obsessing. You read other people's blogs. You comment on other people's blogs. You discover new blogs. If you Twitter to promote your blog, you tweet, and try to be heard amidst all the other self-involved tweeting going on. I'm personally not much on twittering.

Possibly the biggest time suck aspect, according to several posts I've read lately, is the whole replying to comments thing. Since I rarely have over ten or so comments, this really hasn't been too big a problem for me. I know several of you have been struggling with it, though, so I'm just going to lay it out there.

Blogging works because a connection is made between two parties. When I speak of a connection, I speak of the early give and take that forges an authentic relationship between author and audience. The blog is a curious genre where this reliable, present audience is an integral part of what makes the blog succeed or fail. It's as vital to its health as water is to a thirsty body.

I've visited blogs before that I liked and left a comment. If it's not acknowledged, but I really like the blog, I'll still return on a regular basis for a while and leave further comments. After several times without any kind of acknowledgment, though, I generally stop. At this point, it's like I sent a letter off to an author I liked and never even heard back from the director of the fan club. I'm not trying to be mean, but a connection has just not been created with the individual behind that blog, and let's own it: we're all just people behind a blog. We're not celebrities stinking up the blogosphere. Probably the only couple of blogs that are strong enough for me to return to continually with no real connnection are Pioneer Woman and Dooce. Even so, I rarely comment on these blogs. Who wants to be one of a couple thousand comments that may or may not really get read?

A problem arises when you genuinely want to give replying to all those wonderful comments a fair shake, but just have so many that it would take all day to respond to each one individually. Don't get sucked in to feeling like you have to! I don't personally feel like it's necessary. Readers comment in the first place because there was something in that post that rang true, that triggered a memory, that inspired them, that they identified with, or that simply made them smile. They just want to acknowledge that connection, and those are the key words: acknowledgement and connection. You don't have to write another post in response--not unless you're really driven to do so. I don't know about you guys, but as a reader, I'd be perfectly happy with a blanket ":) thanks, guys. Appreciate your thoughts." What do you think? Can we hereby institute a Declaration of Comment-Reply Independence, and not feel constrained to necessarily answer each and every one?

(And of course, if you want to comment, feel free. :)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Is "Me Time" Too Important Now?


I'm Gigi. I'm a recovering lawyer as well as a former internet marketer. I live in Austin, TX by way of Phoenix, Orange County, San Francisco and Chicago. I am currently a SAHM and fumbling foodie. I spend my days practicing the art of living life haphazardly and blog about it at KludgyMom. I'm honored to be writing for Four Perspectives today!

I think this is a question worth asking: do we place too much importance on “me” time?

Before you start pelting me with rocks, garbage, lipstick and dirty diapers, let it be known that I am ALL FOR me time. I think it is important to ANYONE’s well-being – mother, father, grandpa, kid, whoever.

I think about my own mom, raising children in the 60s and 70s (yes. I am old.) She ran a household, cooked meals every day (couldn’t afford to eat out EVER), cleaned her house, visited her parents, made sure school work was done – all the things the moms of today do – but never was there a “I really deserve a spa weekend” moment back then. She didn’t get weekly pedicures – she didn’t get any pedicures. She didn’t engage in retail therapy. She had her hour or two of watching soap operas, but it wasn’t ever something she demanded as a right or an entitlement.

Was this healthy? No. She could have used a little less of us and a little more for her. It would have made her a better parent. But moms in her generation still had June Cleaver hovering over their shoulders, women’s lib movement notwithstanding. Obviously, it wasn’t ideal. And sometimes, with all due respect to my wonderful mom, it showed in her parenting.

But now I’ve started to wonder whether the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. My mom would’ve been looked upon as selfish for taking a spa weekend. Now, you’re almost an outcast if you don’t. The need for “mommy me time” is widely covered in all possible media. I see Facebook statuses, hear chatter at the elementary school, read blog comments that are rampant with “I know I just got back from a week’s vacation, but my kids are driving me nuts and I am going to spend the morning at Starbucks and getting my nails done. I DESERVE it.” or “I haven’t had a girls night out in WEEKS. I DESERVE it.” or “My husband worked until 8 p.m. last night and I was on point with the kids the whole time. He’s going to pay for that this weekend – the kids are ALL HIS. I need some time off. I DESERVE it.”

Just like the lack of me time is not healthy, too much me time can start to show in one’s parenting. I know because I spent two years of my life demanding and claiming me time: to play tennis, to go shopping, to have girls nights out – all in the name of “making me a more happy and well-rounded person so that I can be a better mother to my children.”

Well guess what? The me time started slipping into what should have been husband time, kid time, family time, volunteering at school time. My priorities got way out of whack. My marriage was on the brink. I wasn’t a better parent for having more me time, I was a more selfish and distracted one. I didn’t DESERVE all the time I had to myself. I DESERVED a swift kick in the pants, which I eventually got.

For men, the opposite seems to be true. Once having embraced the image of the detached dad who works all day and comes home to pour himself a martini and sit alone in the living room, our culture now seems to devalue men pursuing me time and pressures them to be more active and involved fathers, deeply engaged in every aspect of their children’s lives – to the point that, in my opinion, some men are left with nothing for themselves. And when they do try to claim some well-earned me time, they can be criticized.

Obviously, I don’t mean to generalize that “all moms take too much me time” or “all moms don’t take enough.” Every family’s situation is different. But what I am saying is that as a culture, where we place our value seems to have radically shifted. Each person will respond differently, with the goal being striking the right balance. But it’s such a difficult tightrope to walk.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Birds of a Feather

Pin It I spend a lot of time in my kitchen and so, by default, I spend a lot of time by my kitchen window.

Recently I have witnessed a sort of reality series unfolding in my backyard. I have been able to watch as a mama bird chose to build a nest in one of the corner posts of our cinderblock wall. Back and forth she'd travel, carrying in her beak small bits of grass and twigs and string and lint. Before too long I noticed she was instead bringing worms and other vittles to the nest. Then yesterday the babies ventured out.

All day long I watched as they sat there at the corner of our wall, chirping incessantly, just waiting for the poor mama bird to return and then fly away again to fetch another morsel to place in one of their little mouths. All day long they just demanded to be fed so she continuously made little trips here and there in search of sustenance for her little birdies.

I began to feel sorry for that mama bird, spending her whole day tending to every need of her relentless little baby birds - and only being able to carry one thing at a time.

Then my kids came home and in between my regular duties of laundry and dishes and cleaning up messes all I heard was, "What's our after-school snack? How soon is dinner? Can you help me with my homework? I need a treat for my class party tomorrow! I can't find my piano book! Can you show me how to make this work on the computer?" and off I went, one thing at a time, tending to my little birds.

Suddenly, I didn't feel so sorry for that mama bird anymore.

Early on in our marriage my husband and I chose to be parents. We chose to have a full nest and plenty of mouths to feed. We chose to live what others see as a busy, crazy life - but which we see as a very full and happy life. I find such satisfaction and joy in this family that shares my home and life despite the frustrations that can certainly arise. I do what I do because I love having a family and all that comes with it. I recognize that we are so very blessed. I love being a mother.

So instead of taking pity on that mama bird, I see things this way... she and I are a couple of lucky ladies.

We are mothers! Hear us chirp!

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Public Service Announcement Regarding Coupons

Pin It I believe that there is a Coupon Conspiracy. I believe this the same way I believe the world is round, gravity prevails, and I need oxygen and sunshine to survive.

It used to be that manufacturers made coupons in all different denominations: everything from ten cents up to a dollar. Everything over fifty cents was rare and to be prized. I remember scouring magazines and the Sunday circulars diligently each weekend and clipping everything from hot dogs to toilet paper.

It was a party in the coupon organizer when Kroger started doubling coupons up to and including fifty cents. Suddenly those wimpy little forty cent coupons were worth EIGHTY cents! Eureka! I loved going grocery shopping!

I have noticed in recent years, though, that the incidence of fifty cents and lesser coupons is lessening. Now the trend is reversing...most coupons are a whopping 55 cents, adding up to a whopping...55 cents, because nothing over fifty cents is doubled. This stinks! It's a conspiracy, I say.

I think the manufacturers and Kroger are in cahoots. They've put their heads together and cobbled together a plan...whisperwhisperwhisper...I can hear them now. "How can we look really terrific and still not have to shell out a lot of money to the customer??? I know! Let's have Double Coupons ALL THE TIME, but let's just not make hardly any coupons that they can actually redeem. BRILLIANCE!" *much hand rubbing and villainous laughter ensues*

Yep. It's a conspiracy. I also believe that red lights are a conspiracy. Once you've been caught in one, you'll be caught in the next seventeen, guaranteeing that you'll be thirty-four minutes late to your destination.

There are other conspiracies you should be alert to as well. There's a certain superstore that does have plans to take over the world with cheaply made clothing and plastic everything. Be wary, and buy American, as Grandma always said. And there's a certain fast food chain that is introducing mind control chemicals into its chicken nuggets.

It is said that Lucky Charms cereal, being magically delicious, will counteract their effects.

And now, as this is deteriorating rapidly, I am leaving you to clip more coupons.

Friday, May 21, 2010

You're Just A Mommy

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Country-Fried Mama is a transplanted Yankee raising two girls in the deep, deep, DEEP South. Visit her blog at www.countryfriedmama.com and follow her on Twitter @countryfried.

When my husband first went back to work after an unfortunate ankle incident, my girls and I ferried him there so he wouldn’t get busted for driving under the influence of narcotics.

My daughter, Miss D., has since been asking lots of questions about what her dad does in that big building, and she recently asked me what my job is.

“I’m a mommy and a teacher,” I said.

“No, you’re just a mommy,” said Miss D.

I sighed, counted to five, and tried not to freak out.

Some context: I never considered myself the stay-at-home type. Before Miss D. was born, my husband and I both assumed I would go back to work. I don’t remember even discussing other possibilities. But once my maternity leave ended and I went back to my job as a high school English teacher, both my husband and I found that leaving Miss D. at daycare everyday was painful.

I started to feel desperate about her being there. It was a really wonderful daycare, but all I could think about every day was that I was spending my time with other people’s children instead of my own sweet baby. I felt like I was doing a crummy job as a teacher and a crummy job as a mommy. I was beyond relieved when my husband got a job in a more affordable part of the country and I could plunge into mommyhood full time.

I am still relieved. I would not trade being at home with my girls for anything, and yet…the world seems very small on some days.

So when Miss D. said, “you’re just a mommy,” I felt a little sick. When I had to leave her each day to work, I soothed my guilt with the idea that at least she would grow up knowing that mommies have important careers, too. I still want her to know that.

So I tried to explain that the laptop permanently attached to my body is not just for online mah-jongg, which she is inexplicably interested in. “I teach classes on the computer,” I told her. “When you sleep, I’m a teacher.”

“No,” said Miss D., who gets her stubborn streak from me. “You’re just a mommy.”


I’m guessing that anyone who reads this knows there should be no “just” in front of “mommy.” Being a mommy is important. I know that. I care far more about the measurable outcomes of my performance as Mommy than I ever did for any job outside my house. That’s the big picture.

The little picture is that my peanut-butter-sandwich-making, laundry-folding, spit-up-cleaning, Little-Einsteins-watching days are not always fulfilling and I fear my brain might be turning to mush.

I was on my hands and knees under the kitchen table yesterday scrubbing my baseboards, an activity I don’t recall ever performing when I worked full-time, when I had an almost uncontrollable urge to start screaming.

“I have a Master’s degree!” I wanted to yell, but I didn’t want to scare the baby.

I am not housebound. I go to playgroup. I go to book club. I go to the grocery store more often than I would like. But sometimes, my world seems uncomfortably small. Is it shrinking?

Someone should alert Al Gore.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Passing the Torch

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Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. ~Thomas Edison

I have a meeting tonight.

It’s kind of a momentous meeting – at least it is in my little universe.

I’ve mentioned before that both of my boys were on the varsity ballroom dance team at their high school. And, since I had the time, the inclination and really believe in good public school performing arts programs, I became pretty involved with the parent committee for the team. Combined with some other great parents we would help to raise funds, chaperone, provide meals and generally just help the kids and the coaches as much as possible. Superdude and Ebay crossed over just one year in high school, so all together I’ve been involved with the team for 7 years. I was “president” of the parent committee for the last 5 years -which mostly just meant that I didn’t have younger kids and most of the time a husband at home that needed my attention, so I could attend more functions than most.

Their teams were really good and anything that is really good takes a lot of time and support. So we held carwashes in front of the school every summer to raise money for the team. We sold concessions at every 4th of July Stadium of Fire (the big local fireworks extravaganza) and every BYU Home game to raise money for the team. We hosted a local competition at the high school to raise money for the team. And we did a plethora of other things that I just can’t remember right now to raise money for the team.

Then after we raised the money for the team we spent the money on the team with tour busses to a competition in Idaho, We spent the money on hotel rooms for the team and food for the team. We spent the money on costumes for the team and rhinestones for costumes for the team (this is ballroom after all). And we spent the money on a big performance tour every spring like this cruise that we just went on about a month ago.

For the past 7 years my seasonal plans have revolved around what event is coming up for the team and I have enjoyed….almost every minute of it. But because Ebay is about to graduate from high school, all of that is about to change….tonight.

Tonight I am passing the baton, the torch, the ball on to someone else. The parents of all the new members of the team will get together tonight and vote on who they want as the new president….or at least who’s willing to do it. I’m kind of curious actually to see what will happen.

I’m also a little sad and nostalgic but at the same time kind of giddy and relieved as well. It was a lot of work, but what a blessing to be so involved with the lives of my kids. It was our thing - it was what we did for the past 7 years.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to combine my interest and talents with theirs.

I had a great time.

I’m glad it’s over.

And I can’t help but wonder what’s next.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Have You Ever Seen The Rain?

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picture found at photobucket.com

There is nothing quite like a rainy day.

Yesterday was an especially grand one. All day long the storm clouds would gather, burst open, repeat. I cracked the windows in order to fully enjoy the scent of the freshly washed earth and the sound of each raindrop as it met the pavement.

My 3-year-old daughter and I ventured out to the grocery store in the late afternoon. The skies were overcast and grey as we entered the store, but once our purchases were complete we noticed a crowd of shoppers gathered at the store's entrance and beyond them saw a full-on deluge from the heavens. Everyone stood there, hoping the storm would let up and allow them drier passage to their waiting vehicles.

Not us. We are rain lovers.

"Are you ready?" I asked my daughter, weaving my way through the mass of shopping carts and bodies.

"GO!" she screamed with excitement as we plunged into the parking lot, running through puddles, splashing and laughing as we made our way to the car. Sheets of rain dampened our hair and clothes, but not our spirits. We were invigorated. We spun and danced as we loaded our purchased items into the back of our suburban.

As we drove past the front of the store on our way out I looked over to the growing crowd who were still waiting for the rain to pass. I glanced into the rear view mirror at my wet hair, now plastered to my forehead, and I smiled.

I looked back at my daughter who was humming a happy tune of her own creation, following the rain with her finger on the window as it ran in patterns down the glass.

I was glad I had chosen to enjoy this gift rather than avoid it.

There is nothing quite like a rainy day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Empty Space

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Disclaimer: When I began to write this, I didn't intend for it to sound like a downer post; however, that's what it kind of morphed into as I wrote. Being a person with a tendency to keep up with self-imposed deadlines whenever possible, I bring to you this post as my 8:00 deadline has come and now is in danger of zooming past me. I give to you that which I have. 

Really, I'm not depressed.

I promise…

There are a few locations downtown in my city. I’m sure that your town has places just like them. These are black holes in regard to survival in the commerce world. These locations—though prime as positions seem to go—also seem to deliver the proverbial kiss of death to every single one of the businesses they’ve allowed to inhabit them.

These empty storefronts often remind me of that song from the 80s, you know, “Come Dancing” by The Kinks. The song that tells the story about all the different things a particular lot has morphed into over the years—none of them managing to survive the duration of time.

It’s kind of sad, really: an entire onslaught of years, bringing with them nothing but a cursing.

I recently walked by this gutted location and looked in through the large picture-type windows. The view it afforded was one of despondent emptiness. While others might see hope and opportunity, based on the track record of said location, I only see a bankruptcy waiting to happen.

I walk on.

I wait for the day it becomes something else, only to be gone before the year is out.

This is my city.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Busy Doing Nothing

Pin It I've been taking life a little slower over the past few weeks. It all started with Rome...being away and then returning after such a length of time inspired the necessity for Getting Caught Up--no easy task for my over-achieving self. There was a backlog of work to complete for the kindergarten teacher I volunteer for, as well as the high-school student I teach and that recertification course I was taking, along with laundry, housecleaning, grocery shopping, figuring out where my own kids were in school... In short, I had to figure out where I ought to be in the context of my own life, and journey back to that place.

It takes a while, when the puzzle pieces of your day-to-day have been so shifted and altered to accommodate your absence, to slide them back into a place that not only accommodates your presence, but welcomes it. But I made it back, slowly and meticulously and with the quiet joy that comes of simply being home attacking each out-of-place piece until it, and myself, all fit securely and comfortably once more.

There was little time during this process for extras. Little time for camera work, for the mountains of tivo'd television thoughtfully saved for me by my husband, for blogging, for even finishing that novel that I'd started on the plane. I was wiped at the conclusion of each day, happy to simply shut my eyes and fade on out by the time red digital numbers read nine-ish.

It felt good to take each piece of my life slowly and meticulously. So good that when most of the essentials were reined in and where they needed to be, I continued to take it slow...finishing that novel, fooling around with a few more of the thousands of Rome photos still needing editing, puttering in the kitchen and with the few flowers I'd managed to get planted.

I did nothing that consisted of an obligation, other than those obligatory tasks that come with the titles of "mommy" and "wife". I did no work for Vacation Bible School. Nothing for the church newsletter, due out in a week. I finished my coursework, and did nothing more for that class. I decided that Autumn would only tumble twice in a week instead of four times, until her standardized tests were finished. I cheered instead of grumbled when my student cancelled. I did no volunteer work, letting it sit, instead, in its crate by the sofa. I didn't even blog. (Gasp.)

And I discovered something about myself. I do know how to relax, and I kinda like it. There was supper on the table three out of four nights--supper I had enjoyed making, and didn't mind cleaning up after--mainly because I hadn't taxed myself silly all day. My house was cleaner and more welcoming than it has been all year. All of our clothes were clean, folded, and put away. And there was time when it was all done, time left over to simply sit and do whatever the heck I wanted.

So I hung a mental do-not-disturb sign on the Door of Things I've Obligated Myself To Do, and ignored the tapping toes on the other side. Instead I read two books, played umpteen games of chess, saw Letters to Juliet and Robin Hood in the same weekend, whittled my Tivo list down, and loved every minute of it.

So...to all of those remotely involved with my list-of-stuff to do: sorry about the vacay. I'm on the way back, promise...I've just been a little busy doing nothing.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Being Me


Savira is an empty nester with a passion for life and teaching yoga. She is curious about life and yoga and is ready to face what each have to offer with compassion, respect and humor. She focuses on 'Living, Laughing, Breathing’ her way to wherever her destiny may take her.

I recently had my first consult with a Fitness Coach. She began to tell me about all the possibilities that are available for me, from becoming a personal trainer to a nutritionist. She talked about the various machines and their benefits and so on... Honestly, I lost her from the very start.

I sat down and she began to take my blood pressure and monitor my heart rate and explain to me the importance of the two. We then proceeded to do the body fat test/analysis. It is here where she used a device to squeeze my fat - waist, thigh, triceps, and so on. Each place is done twice and plugged into a computer. The average is calculated by the very same computer and - voila! - my results appear.

The computer had nothing new to tell me. I had known what the results would be. My heart rate and blood pressure were beyond excellent. Everything else was in the medium zone except for my body fat which was in the FAIR zone! She nodded her head and proceeded to tell me what I could do about it.

Please don’t get me wrong. The Fitness Coach was just doing her job – but I would have loved it if she was a little more personable and was not looking me over like I was a misfit.

I am a person and did not want to be a percentage in some sort of general statistic. I belong to a different culture and my build/body will always be different from others. I will never be the perfect size for my height or age. I can only be ME and I acknowledge this with every breath I take. No computer or person is ever going to tell me otherwise. The changes in my size are a reflection of my journey from single hood to lover, then wife, mother and so on. It is a reflection of my growth, my self-realization and spirituality. It is what makes me the person I am today.

Every wrinkle or curve has a story to tell, some happy and some not so happy. I would not trade it for anything. I will take care of and nourish my body to the best of my ability. I am unique and want to stay that way.

When I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror I look at the person staring back at me and say to her, "Let the beauty and strength within shine through". Nobody can dictate how I should look and I will not let them do so. Have they walked in my shoes? Have they seen the ups and downs of my life? Have they cried and smiled like I have? I think not… and hope they never will. I say this because my life experience is mine and mine alone. My experiences are my strength and I will not let someone take them away from me by dictating the way I should look.

I will soon be 50 years old and I am very proud of my age. Each year of my life has been filled with happiness, sorrow, growth, love, marriage, disappointments, achievements, kids, friendships and so on. I have worked hard at being comfortable with where I am in my body and the person I am today. I nourish myself with love, eating healthy and doing yoga. I also work hard at being non- judgmental about my body. I only have one!

I will be ME and I am BEAUTIFUL.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Snap Out Of It Already

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I cook with wine, sometimes I even add it to the food.
Since starting the Four Perspectives experiment I’ve had to confront kind of a hard truth about myself. In trying to come up with an idea every week I’ve had to come face to face with the fact that I really have the propensity to whine a lot. The first things that come to mind when I sit down to write a blog are things that I want to complain about. In my defense, as I look back over the posts I’ve actually posted I have managed to restrain myself from my apparently inherently whiney nature and sometimes accentuate the positive – but I know that those posts weren’t always my first choice.
While I recognize that many popular comedians make a pretty good living pointing out the absurdities and complaining about the world, in real life this is not a particularly attractive or even productive quality. But, as I said, since I started blogging, I have to admit that whininess does seem to be my default position…and I’m not really sure what to do about it. Since there’s very little chance of my turning professional with my whines, I guess I’m going to have to look at this as an opportunity for growth.
So I am resolved: in the past, it may have been “I whine, therefore I am” but no more. Now that I recognize this I have to do better…or at least try anyway. I whine, therefore I have to snap out of it and find some new thoughts. After all, like the song says kisses are sweeter than whine.
Hmmm wine…too bad I’m not a drinker, that’d probably help J

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

i h8 txt msgs

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photo from ucar.edu

Have you ever felt like you were born in the wrong time period? I know that I often do.

I long for slower days. I love to imagine what it would have been like to only communicate through letters, photographs and face to face interaction. Everywhere I look there are newer and better technologies which enable us to communicate faster and more efficiently. These things have their place, to be sure, but I would be just fine without most of them.

My case in point:

As I ventured into a local health food store recently I was stopped by a woman who was peddling a vitamin product. I actually stopped to listen since I had the time and I was remotely interested in her presentation. However, she completely lost me when, in the middle of her sales pitch, she pulled out her phone and read from it. Suddenly, I was unimportant because of the pull to whatever text message or phone call she was receiving. I decided that I wasn't really interested in her product, anyway. I just walked away.

At schools, at meetings, at church; everywhere I go I see people who are completely connected to their phones. It drives me batty. It is why I have refused to become a texter. Hello, I am a human being, and I am standing before you. Words are coming out of my mouth, directed toward you. Could you just ignore the phone for a while and allow for some human interaction?

And besides all of that, no one knows how to spell anymore! What the heck are 'cul8r' and 'thnx'? Use your vowels, for Pete's sake! Pass a note! Write a letter! Walk up to the person you want to communicate with, open your mouth, and SPEAK the words that your thumbs cannot. TRY IT!

(deep breath...)

This concludes my technology rant. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Drawer of Awesomeness

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There is a wondrous drawer in my kitchen. In fact, I’m pretty sure that you have one, too. It is a veritable trove of wonders of which MacGyver would most certainly be proud (cue music). And the funny thing is, I remember there being one of these drawers in every house we lived in while I was growing up. Yes my friends, today I speak of the well-known junk drawer.

It’s funny that often we have no idea how this particular drawer came to be the final resting place for all of the varied odd and ends in our homes; however, it did. Like a self-sufficient village in the deepest jungles of the Serengeti, the junk drawer is the place to find just about anything one might need. In fact, if there were an emergency, all I’d have to do is empty this drawer into my backpack and I could probably combat just about anything.

For instance, if I were in need of water-cleansing packets or safety pins, the obvious first place to look for these treasures would be the junk drawer.

A pen? I’d check the drawer before I’d search my office desk.

Glue? Stamps? Sticky Notes? Scissors? Push pins? Band-Aids? Gum? Batteries? Cough drops? Dental floss? Salt packets? Contact lenses? Extra buttons? A token for a car wash in Nebraska?

All of these items—plus a smorgasbord of others—could all be found in the junk drawer.

In fact whenever I have need of just about anything, I’ll check the junk drawer before anyplace else; 9 times out of 10, this drawer provides me with the items I need the moment I require them.

The funny thing is that for many of these items, I cannot remember having ever put them in the drawer in the first place. This causes me to conclude that this astonishing catchment isn’t a ‘junk’ drawer at all—but it is instead a magical box. In many senses, it’s similar the Room of Requirement in the Harry Potter books; it has in it all the things that the user desires and is in need of the most. Perhaps they came into existence when when the knick-knack fairy was ground into fine powder and scattered by the winds of chaos.

Nobody can really be sure.

So there you have it: the drawer of surprises, the holder of treasures, the catchment of the little things we cannot live without, or the junk drawer. Whatever you call it, it’s still the little magical place that makes life so much easier for us all.

I don’t know what I’d do without it.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Here's Smiling at You, Mom.

Pin It One of my earliest childhood memories is of a play table, turned upside down on the bedroom floor. Of myself and my older brother Chris, standing on the inverted flat surface, clinging to the legs, and screaming bloody murder. I was three, and he was six, or thereabouts. There was a storm at sea, and that table was our boat. Windswept waves tossed us high in the air, and crashed over the sides. It was terrifying, and exhilarating.

And then Mom came careening onto the scene, eyes wild and rolling white in her head--much like a distressed horse. "WHAT IS ALL THIS SCREAMING ABOUT?" I remember her snatching me up, and lighting into Chris (he always was the instigator, dang him.)

I have to laugh now, thinking about it, and any number of other times we gave our mother heart palpitations and she gave us heck for it, in return.

I called Mom yesterday to wish her a happy mother's day. She was sitting back, enjoying two of her grandkids and a day where her son and daughter-in-law there in Columbia catered to her every desire and made a great meal. I was a little jealous, wishing I were there to join the party.

Mom taught me many things, among them patience, perseverance, and the value of work. After her example, I find it difficult even now to not work a full-time job in addition to caring for my family. I remember well her in her high heels and pretty suits and dresses, leaving in the morning to manage a rental property. She'd stagger back home after six p.m. and immediately start supper. While supper was on the stove she'd come and lay down on the sofa, completely wiped out. I'd rub her feet, narrow and a little bony, with polished nails. I can imagine now how much those feet must've ached at the end of every day.

She taught me plenty of other things, too--I was recently reminded of them in one of those jokey emails that circulates.

Here's a sampling:
1. Religion. "You'd better pray that comes out of the carpet/sofa/walls/etc." I remember this one particularly well after an impromptu party involving my parents' abssence, macaroni and cheese and some kind of alcohol--grenadine, I think-- in my misspent youth. I tried to blame the curious incident on Chris, but as he was away at Tech, that didn't go over very well.

2. Logic. "Because I said so, that's why." I must've heard this one a lot, because it flies from my own lips today quite fluently.

3. More Logic. "If you fall out of that tree and break your neck, don't come crying to me."

4. Foresight. "Make sure you have on clean underwear--you never know when you might get in a car accident!"

5. Irony. "Keep on crying, and I'll give you something to cry about."

6. Osmosis. "Shut your mouth and eat." (I'm not sure why we never said anything about this blatantly impossible task...my children call me on it everytime. "But, mom...")

7. Weather. "This room looks like a hurricane hit it!"

8. Hypocrisy. "If I've told you once, I've told you a million times--don't exaggerate!"

9. The Circle of Life. "I brought you into this world--I can take you right out!"

10. Anticipation. "Just wait until your father gets home."

11. Roots. "Stop tracking mud all over the place! Were you born in a barn?"

12. How to become an Adult. "If you don't eat your vegetables, you'll never grow up!"

13. Medical Science. "If you don't stop doing that, your face is going to stick like that forever."

14. ESP. "Put a coat on! Don't you think I know when you're cold?"

15. Justice. "One of these days you're going to have kids Just Like You." (Ain't that the truth?)

From one mom to the next--Happy Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mirror, Mirror

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So Superdude, my recently returned missionary son has a girlfriend…or at least a girl that he’s hanging around a lot lately that might possibly be a girlfriend. It must be kind of serious because Superdude went with the girl to see the play Once Upon a Mattress -not his usual form of entertainment. Once Upon A Mattress is a musical adaptation of the story of the Princess and the Pea and like so many fairy tales and stories, the villain of story is a wicked queen.

So the next day Superdude is telling Ebay and I about his date and the play. I asked him if he liked the show. He said he did - that it was pretty good but that he noticed something kind of funny. One of the characters really reminded him of me. I was intrigued. Was it quirky Princess Winifred, or feisty Lady Larken? Oh no…it was Aggrevain…the wicked queen.

“Hey, that’s kind of harsh,” I say.

“I don’t mean that you’re wicked, just that I know you’re always thinking the evil things the Wicked Queen was saying in the show – it was funny.” Superdude answered.

“So this is a compliment?” I ask?

“Oh sure,” Ebay pipes up. “We always think you’re the wicked queen.”

“What?!” I exclaim. “I don’t have hatch evil plots to take over the kingdom.”

“Yeah, but you would turn a lot of people into toads if you could.” Ebay answered.


“And you know that villains are always your favorite.” Superdude added.

“Hey, I don’t like the Queen in Snow White or Malificent in Sleeping Beauty – they’re just not nice,” I offer in my defense,

“Yeah, but how about Ursula in The Little Mermaid…Winifred Sanderson in Hocus Pocus, Miranda in The Devil Wears Prada?” Ebay counters.


“So you’re wicked like that.” Superdude said kindly patting my shoulder.

“Yeah…wicked in a funny way,” Ebay agreed.

So while I have to admit my initial response is “Off with their heads” and I’m still not sure the big goobers don’t deserve to be turned into toads…I guess I could take it as a compliment to my dark and slightly wicked sense of humor.

A word to the wise though boys, if you’re going to lovingly compare me to Cruella Deville, you might want to wait awhile before you announce that to any potential girlfriends -

Now where’s my 101 Dalmations?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Finding The Silver Lining

Pin It Our lawnmower was stolen a couple of days ago.

My oldest daughter had just mowed the neighbor's lawn and had given the mower a thorough cleaning then left it to drip-dry in the driveway. I left the house at around 9:30 that evening and saw it there as I made my way to the car to run a few errands. When I returned, it was gone.

My husband and I wondered at first if it was some sort of teenage prank - you know, maybe we'd get a ransom note or some such thing the next morning - but that was not the case.

As the realization of the thievery began to set in I was angry. How dare someone take something that did not belong to them! Then frustrated. We would have to fork out the cash for a new lawnmower now. Then worried. Was it someone from our neighborhood who had stolen it? And if so, who? These emotions were eating away at me. I knew I needed to do something to remedy my annoyance or I would turn into one of those crazy I'll-stop-at-nothing-to-find-you-and-get-back-what's-mine kind of people.

So I found the humor in the situation.

In their rush to grab the mower and run, the crook had left something behind - the bag attachment. Without this, the lawnmower would leave large clumps of grass all over the lawn as it was being mowed. The bag had been removed when my daughter cleaned the mower and it remained there, propped up against the garage door where the mower had been.

I decided to generously offer the bag attachment to our mower bandit, seeing how it was no longer of any use to us, but I did not know how to get it to him (or her, I suppose). So I posted this little note on our garage:

They still haven't returned for the bag, though.

p.s. I forgot to disable the comments on my post... I'm leaving up the few that were already there, but now they are turned off. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE comments, but... if you're interested in reading about why I am turning them off, you can click here. It's not you, it's me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Brownie Battles and Destroyed Dreams

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Have you ever had something that you’ve just loved? I mean really loved?

When I was growing up, I just couldn’t get enough of these individually wrapped brownies, chocolate-frosted fudge to be exact. I’d stand in line at the student store of my high school for any length of time just to get my hands on one of these waxy delights. I’d even pay the fifty cents to get it…sometimes I'd buy three or four of them.

Knock-offs and look-alikes were never a satisfactory substitute either, they had to be the Plantation Chocolate Fudge - or Plantation Chocolate Fudge with a layer of whipped marshmallow nestled underneath the coating of chocolaty-frosting goodness.


Can you even begin to fathom the beauty of a sunrise as seen from the other side of the world? Of the splendor in the delicate strains of angels singing praises from the lofty heavens over something so delicious and beautiful? Perhaps even imagine the glorious thrill at such a sprinkling of goodness in a world filled with lame sauce?

Well if you can, then you can probably also visualize the horror of the day when the gods of deliciousness turned their backs upon me, and the production of this little delight ceased.

I was devastated.

From what I gathered through the grapevine, it was that those dratted little Keebler elves. With their corporate conglomerate and bags of money, they bought out Sunshine (and the sunshine of my heart) that in actuality owned the Plantation Corporation. Sadly, it wasn’t long thereafter that old Tony the Tiger himself and his thugs at Kellogg decided to buy out Keebler. I’m pretty sure that it was Tony who made the final decision that the Plantation Brownie just wasn’t worth it - probably with the help of Snap, Crackle, and Pop. Those little…well, whatever they really are—production of this little delight stopped and a little piece of my soul died that day.

I still can’t eat Frosted Flakes.

Curses. Curses. Curses to all those companies run by banished house-elves and talking tigers that have inferiority complexes and continually bemoan just how grrreeeaaaat they are because of it.

I lost all hope of being united with my scrumptious little delight ever again.

Then—quite unbelievably—something magical happened. From what I understand, Mrs. Freshley has now thundered into the brownie arena, and has decided to work some magic of her own. Of course, I don’t know if these new brownies are any bit as good as the Plantation brand was, but rumor has it that they are.

Dreams really do come true.

It’s just too bad that shipping for one from California is nearly $14.00

Maybe the Plantation Brownie wasn't quite as good as I remembered it anyhow…

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Chess Set

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I am thinking in chess moves. kB to d4. qK to e6. p1 to b4. Awww, crap. Check. Quick, K to...umm. That's not going to work. In fact, that's going to make my situation worse. Dire, in fact...as if it wasn't already bad enough. How about....K to...CRUD. Or, maybe the qK back to ... but no, there's a pawn there now. I am stuck.

It all started with a chess set I fell in love with in Orvieto. Smooth grained olive wood, beautifully stained, with rustically carved Kings and Queens and Bishops and so on. Duane would love that, I thought, thinking of his great fondness for checkers. I'm going to get that for Duane.

And so I did. I cheerfully paid the eighty euros, and watched as the craftsman wrapped and packaged everything carefully in paper and a bright red woven sack. I carried it back to the hotel, and cushioned it amidst rolled tee-shirts and socks.

I flew home, and waited impatiently for my luggage to arrive a few days later, anxious that it might have been injured despite my best efforts.

I breathed relief when I held it, unharmed, in my hands, and placed the pieces in their positions.

It was lovely, and my husband loved it on sight--probably one of the first gifts that he really, truly liked. It wasn't a new pair of khakis, or a sweater that would languish, unworn, in the closet. It wasn't a hat whose brim never quite melded to *that* particular angle of bend that Duane preferred. It wasn't some hunting or fishing implement that...whoops...Duane had already purchased for himself.

It was a game, made by hand with painstaking care and thought. It was something that we could do together, and enjoy. We just needed to learn how to play.

Duane spent the following day at work playing the computer and learning the various moves and positionings of the different pieces. He came home, set the board between us, and began my instruction. "The knight can move up two and over one. It can also move back. The Bishop...that's this one...it can move ahead or backwards diagonally for as many spaces as it wants to. The Rook does the same thing, only horizontally--"

Stop! My brain cringed. Overload. I held up a staying hand. "I'll just keep a page up on the computer to refer back to when I need it."

We commenced playing. An hour or so later, I had whomped my husband soundly, surprising both of us.

Surprising, because he whomps me pretty soundly at checkers every time we've played. I would've thought that he'd do the same, handily, at chess--especially considering that he'd spent all day preparing.

"Hmpf," Duane said. "That'll be the last game you win."

The challenge was officially on. Since then, I have played umpteen games against the computer, and have five in progress against various chess.com players. I am pretty sure that I will lose them, because I have no real clue what I'm doing, but as long as it's not to my husband I'm good with it. This is because there is absolutely nothing worse than losing to my husband. He has this gloating thing...it'll be a week later and he'll say, "I beat your tail at chess." Out of the blue. As in, it's obviously been on his mind that he beat my tail at chess.
It just ain't right. Husbands should not beat wives at chess. Ever.

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