Thursday, July 29, 2010

Even I Say, WOW!

Today marks 15 years of marriage for my husband and I. So I am summarily ignoring my rule of keeping him out of the blog, for this one day. Being married is a big part of who I am and he was crazy enough to want to spend his life with me. Sorry Nick, for better or worse, today you are in This Particular Brand of Crazy.
Being married is not easy, but it is worth the effort. 15 years is a pretty good chunk of time, even I say "WOW, that is pretty good". Up until this point I have thought, "Any fool can be married for (fill in # ) years". This year I have decided I am impressed. So you ask (or maybe you don't)...What is the secret? What great relationship advice can you dole out? Well, here it is.
  1. Nobody is always right, and nobody is always wrong.
  2. Saying sorry doesn't mean that you are admitting being wrong, it means your admitting to being a jerk, and that is okay. Jerks should be sorry and admit it, so they can go back to being decent people.
  3. Being a couple is the priority. Raising kids is important, but the kids will leave when they are 18. Make sure your spouse does not want to leave with them.
  4. Love and Like are not always co-existent. I know that there have been days we do not like each other, but we always love each other.
  5. Laugh. Pretty much everything in a relationship is fair game after a certain point. We are at that point, and it is awesome.
  6. You do not have to do everything together. Separate interests keep life interesting.
  7. You do need to do some things together. Otherwise you are roommates and co-parents (if you have kids)
  8. You can go to bed mad, just don't make a habit of it.
  9. Compromise means nobody is happy with the outcome. Give and Take means only one person is miserable at a time. I prefer Give & Take. It works in my favor half the time.
  10. "Love keeps no record" (that is Biblical). Get over the past arguments, score keeping, and other destructive behaviors. A couple is a team, do not sabotage your teammate.

So, that is what I have learned from 15 years of wedded bliss. Not all easy lessons, but worthwhile. I can honestly say that today I am more in love with Nick than I was 15 years ago. Yes, that sounds sappy, but it is 100% true.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Recommended Reading

I love to read and I love to recommend books to people. I love to have books recommended to me. Sometimes I am a little disturbed when someone says, "You would love this book. It reminds me of you". Then I read it and it has murderers, affairs, cults, and crazy stuff going on. So helpful hint...just say, "I think you would like this book" and leave out how the crazy stuff somehow reminds you of me. It is not helpful to my self esteem. I would not tell you that a book about a hooker with a heart of gold reminds me of you. Anyway, since I am a blogger and I have these pages that I can attach to the blog and I have been working on book list of my favorite authors and books. The trouble I am running into is making a list, versus giving a little synopsis of each book. I have my genre categories set, but how much should I tell about each book? Should I give a mood rating? Example, read this if you want a funny book look or read this if you want to read a book about some pretty disturbed people ( Who starts a book looking for that stuff?). Honestly, I have been going to this yet unpublished page, adding books and I am still unsure of what else to say about the books. When someone recommends a book to you do you need reasons for reading the book? Do you just take the recommendation based on the person doing the recommending ? Personally, any book my mother recommends, I read. She is an avid reader of many genres. I also do not read something if she says its not good. My mom is my book authority. I have recommended books to her as well and recently lent her a book that she loved. I was so proud that she found this book as wonderful as I did. It somehow validated my book recommending credibility. So readers, please let me know do you prefer book lists, or book lists with reasons for reading? This will help me get this book page off the ground.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Accidental Twi-hard

I never meant to fall in love with vampires and shape-shifting wolves from the Pacific Northwest, but it happened and now I am what is commonly know as a Twi-hard. As a woman of a ceratin age it seems silly to enjoy a book series created for people a few decades younger than I am. It all started innocently enough with checking out Twilight at the library a few years ago. I had heard some buzz about a book series for teens about kindly vampires. As an educator and parent is not rare for me to read "kiddie lit", its part of my job. A person can not recommend reading for young people if they do not know what they are recommending. Then my sister let me borrow her copies of the rest of the series. And now I shamefully admit I purchased the entire hardcover set from my favorite warehouse store. It was not suppose to go down like that, honestly. This is not the first young fiction series I have fallen in love with, and it will not be the last. I am a complete Potter-head as well (those who know me personally get the complete funny in that one). Back to the Twilight Saga. My issue with the whole franchise has been the movies, the acting is pretty bad and the movies have not done the books justice, until Eclipse. I recently braved the cost of the cinema to go see Eclipse with my young Twi-hard. I planned to be disappointed, and to eat movie popcorn with more calories and fat than I care to speak of. Alas, perhaps because my expectations were low, I ended up actually liking the movie (and the popcorn, which never disappoints). Then it occurred to me that Eclipse is probably the best book in the series. Not that the others were bad, but this book happened to develop the minor characters more fully than the previous two books. Now, instead of just having one handsome vampire to love, there is his whole family, and their back stories. The werewolves even have a folklore based back story and become more central to the whole story. Suddenly, the whole saga is less about lovesick teens and more about how people living on the fringe of society can get along. That is right, I found deeper social meaning in a Twilight movie. By the way, I tried to have a deeper meaning conversation with my young Twi-hard, lets just say she was there for the handsome vampires and werewolves. However, I no long have shame in my Twilight loving game.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Poking Bears

I love fun little colloquial phrases. One of my favorites is "Don't poke the bear". First of all it evokes a fun picture in my mind of a person sneaking behind a sleeping bear with stick to give the bear a poke. The picture in my mind is funny because I am never the person that I picture poking the bear. In reality, there are many figurative bears in my life, and I do poke them on occasion. The "bear" can sometimes be a particularly difficult person, or a situation in your life. Really it is a matter of knowing your "bear" and how to manage the "bears" in your life. It is true that sometimes it is not worth the trouble it will cause to poke some bears. Other times it is a necessary evil to poke some bears or things will not change and the bear will continue to be an obstacle in your life. So let us all assess the bears in our life and the challenges that may come from poking one or two of them. Sure the bear may growl and show its teeth, it may even chase you for awhile, but you have your stick. Or maybe the bear is scared, tired, and it will just run into a cave. You will never know until you poke the bear. Good luck with your bear management.

Friday, July 23, 2010

This Not That

I am a sucker for the "Eat This Not That" books and articles. Sadly, I often find that I am often living in the "not that" camp. I try to reform and make better choices, but frankly I would rather not eat that go for some of the "eat this" choices. Fear not, this is a post about my neurotic eating or not eating. It is about life. Really in life is it ever so simple that it is a "this" or "that" choice? Sure some things are that simple, but most are more complex. I often envy people that see the world in black and white, good or bad, yes or no. It would be nice to have binary brain that processes things so efficiently. I am more of a shades of grey, nothing is all good or bad, and a "maybe" kind of gal. However, I really do not think I am completely indecisive, just unwilling to quickly categorize things and put them in a box. Which may explain why the top of my dresser is a cluttered mess (or I just fall victim to the "flat surface trap"). The "this not that" people of the world certainly have more time to live life. However, I am not sure how much enjoyment is gained living in a world where it is either "this" or "that". The over-thinkers spend a lot of time doing analysis of the shades of grey. Sometimes the beauty in life is in the shadings, not being one thing or another, but somewhere on the continuum. I will never know what it is like to be a binary thinker. I suppose it is helpful in many situations in life, and in certain career fields. Being a shades of grey person I can appreciate the clean and linear thinking people of the world, I just can not be one. Where are you? Are you "this not that" or "shades of grey"? And how ironic is it that I have left you with a choice of "this or that"?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Word...Its Wednesday

Welcome to Wednesday. Half way to the weekend. Hump Day. Whatever you call it, in a few days it is Friday and we all love the heck out of Friday. However, today I need to put a new word in your vocabulary. So you, my intelligent reader, can sound eloquent and confuse those around you. I have been doing it for 30-some years, and I need company. Its lonely at the top of the vocabulary food chain. No, it is not, but smug superiority gets old. Remember the rule: use it three times correctly, in a sentence and its yours!!!
Halcyon- (HAL-see-on) adjective. Calm, peaceful, carefree, prosperous.
Recalling my youth, I fondly long for the halcyon days of the summer of 1991.
Wishing you many halcyon days this summer.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rummaging Through

One of the best things about the church I attend is the yearly rummage sale that benefits the youth activities. I can honestly say I have not attended even one of the actual rummage sales over the years. Only this year do I have a child old enough to being to benefit from the proceeds of the sale. So why do I think the rummage sale is a great feature of the church? Frankly, I like it because it motivates me to purge, purge, purge all the "stuff". When the pastor announces that the congregation can start bringing their items for the rummage sale, I get a giddy little fire in my belly and I start making a mental plan of attack on the "stuff". I really do not even hear the benediction because the manic urge to purge is going full force. AMEN, lets clean house.

This year while I was surrounded by children's books and toys, figuring out what was broken, too old, too young, or too ridiculous; I realized that for a family that has never gone to New Orleans we have a lot of Mardi Gras beads. Yup, strings and strings of Mardi Gras beads. Never been to the Big Easy, its on the list of places to go, pretty close to the top, but I already have the beads. So you might think she is going to tell us she boxed those up for the rummage sale. NO, she did not. Many things are making there way out of the house, but the Mardi Gras beads just kept getting placed around my neck. I looked like a very popular lady by the time the toy purge was complete. Now I am wondering how the heck do we have so many beads. Do people hand these out at birthday parties? When I go out do have so much fun I do not recall getting cheap beads? Do lost socks morph into Mardi Gras beads? And most of all why am I hanging on to all of the beads? I was so filled with the Holy Spirit of purging, but not for these silly plastic beads. Certainly once the mystery of how the beads got here is solved I may be able to release them, but until then I have some craft ideas (which likely will not happen) or perhaps the beads will become my new personal fashion statement (also pretty unlikely).

Do you have any items is your home that no matter how useless you just can not part with it? And if you can explain my attachment to Mardi Gras beads to me, there is a fancy coffee drink in it for you. Unti then, I figure some Mardi Gras beads will not land me a feature spot on Hoarders. It is my goal in life to stay off that particular reality show.

Friday, July 16, 2010

One Good Thing

Have you ever had a really bad day, or series of bad days? The kind where you wonder if anything is ever going to go right again? EVER. It seems like days like this cluster together and suck the joy out of the day and sometimes whole weeks. Then one good thing happens. Often it is something quite small and silly that can snap the bad streak, or something loud and scary. A thunderstorm that brings a cold front that makes everything more bearable. Who is generally glad about thunderstorms? I guess I am, because it makes you realize even loud scary things can have a cool, calming effect. I have found that often in reflecting upon these "dark days/weeks" that I overlooked several good things that could have ended the "badness". So on this very hot and humid Friday, don't overlook the good things that are happening. They may be small, quiet things or big, loud things. Either way, be open to letting them be your one good thing.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

To Puppy or Not to Puppy

I love dogs. I have often claimed I was raised by retrievers (both Golden and Labrador). And I would say those dogs did a fine job. Dogs just make me smile. They are happy go lucky. They are always glad when you come home, and rarely complain about dinner. Dogs are perfect. Alas, I have been dogless for two years now. Oddly I never noticed all the responsibility of dog ownership when a dog was a part of my daily routine. No longer do I have to look at my watch and scurry home to let out a dog, before my floors paid the price. Vacations cost less because no boarding fees at the kennel are needed. No longer does the yard need "poop patrol" before mowing or having the kids play (no one misses "poop patrol"). None of these inconveniences bothered me when I had a dog. However, now as a ponder a puppy, I am thinking, "What am I thinking?". Sure the sweet smell of puppy is like heaven to me. The kids would be thrilled. We have names, okay we have so many names we may need to adopt a whole liter of puppies. Yoda, the haughty Himalayan, would be less than thrilled to have to train a new dog, but she would. House training, and poop patrol, kennel fees, and clock watching would become a part life again...and there is the rub. Talk of puppies started in February, and since then the reasons to delay began. Spring, just got away from us. Summer is just too busy with camps, vacations, upcoming wedding (Betsy's not mine, I am good in the wedded department). So October looks like the "best time" to puppy it up, but who knows what autumn will bring. It is beginning to seem like "the best time" to get a puppy does not exist. Much like "the best time" to do anything. Life is pretty good now, certainly not simple and easy, but not overwhelming. Would the benefit of a canine companionship outweigh the added responsibilities and time constraints? I do not know. Help me out, with the question: To puppy or not to puppy?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Word...Its Wednesday

I hope that this word is not one that you need to use too regularly. If you can use it often, perhaps you need to evaluate you situation and find a more lucid group friends and family to associate yourself. Oh, that its right, you can't pick family...sorry.
vacuous- (VAK-yoo-us) adjective. Devoid of emotion, intelligence, or any normal human thought processes; moronic; stupid.
The vacuous look on the waiter's face when we inquired about the wine list and the specials, made us realize we were in for a long, unpleasant dining experience.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pack A Bag

In January I purchased an inspriational flip book that I keep on the microwave in the kitchen. It is called Enjoy Life and Be Happy in 30 Seconds. Each day has an inspirational saying or an action point to help one enjoy life an be happy (supposedly in 30 seconds). This flip book mocks me, daily. Fortunately, I have an incredible sense of humor. I do not flip the page everyday. At first it was because I had not done the action step, and then because some of the action steps just make me chuckle. I have been stuck on, "Today I will...Pack a bag so I am always ready for an adventure". When this page came up about a month ago, I considered actually packing a bag. As a mother of two and the wife of one, a packed bag is really just an invitation to bolt when things get nuts (which can happen daily). So I have not packed a bag, because who needs protective services on their *rear* for child abandonment? Not me. Lately I look at the suggestion to pack a bag for an adventure as being a bit chicken. Really an adventure should be a bit of a fly by the seat of pants proposition. That is the adventure part. Just taking off with what is in your pockets, now that would be an adventure. I may not even make it to the edge of town with only what is in my pockets (especially of I am wearing yoga pants). I need a purse, yes I have a big a-- mom purse. I have small purses too, but I have a preference for a bag that could hold a severed head (not that it ever would, I am just saying that so you get a sense of proportion). Really, if a woman has a properly stocked purse, she can likely make it at least two days out of her home. Not a fabulous two days, but a survivable two days. Personally I have long held the belief that one can survive nicely with an AMEX card and some gin. Really, if you have the AMEX card the gin can be your first purchase. So all you need is an AMEX card. No, the outdoor channel has not been knocking down my door to do a documentary on my survival tactics. I do not care. I am an urban survivalist. I am not packing a bag so I am ready for any adventures, bags are for sissys. I will keep my purse (with the AMEX card) ready for adventures. Enjoy the adventure of today, whatever it may bring.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hotter than...

Hot and I are not friends. I do not care if its a dry heat or a humid heat...its all hot and it stinks. What I do like about hot is all the Hotter than _______ phrases and other heat related sayings. My favorite is the not so original, hotter than Hades, I just like it, always have.
  • My absolute least favorite is the old man in the grocery store parking lot saying, "Hot enough fer ya?". How do you answer that? When it is scorching hot I really do not want to make quippy weather talk with the elderly gentlemen of the world? No, I do not, and yes, it IS hot enough for me. The sweat river flowing down my back should indicate that I am sufficiently hot (and not in a good way). Shouldn't old people be inside on hot days? Isn't it a health hazard for the very young and the very old to be out in extreme temperatures? Hot weather also makes me so crabby that my wrath can turn on kindly old people.
  • Back to funny hot phraseology. Hot enough to fry an egg on a sidewalk. That one is good because at least once a year some TV weatherperson will try it on television. Even a non-scientist knows that generally to fry (not slowly cook) an egg the pan needs to be around 300 degrees. I am pretty sure the sidewalk does not get to 300 degrees...even on a super hot day. But that is just good fun.
  • The most annoying phrase is, "Its not so much the heat, its the humidity that bothers me". I used this one for years until I realized it is both that bother me. Anyone that still believes that the humidity is the issue needs to stick their head in a hot oven. Ovens produce a dry heat, and its also miserable. Humidity does add a certain nasty twist to a hot day. The frizzy hair, the constant sweaty feeling, and the urge to do nothing but sit in front of a fan or AC unit; does not make for a productive day. A scorching dry heat does not seem like it would be a great motivator either. I can't say that I have a lot of experience with "dry heat" being a life long Michigan girl. Let us just put the heat and humidity into the same category- the yuck category.
So what is your favorite "hot" phrase, or least favorite? How about a quick prayer for a return to the upper 70's for the rest of the summer? Stay cool.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Word...Its Wednesday

This is a fun word. I originally heard it in the move The Royal Tennenbaums. I had to look it up so I kept saying it in my head until I could get to my loyal dictionary. Sadly, it is one of those words that needs a special situation to apply it properly. Fortunately for me, I am prone to using overstatements, so I try to pull this word out at least quarterly...sometimes only at the holidays if it has been a unremarkable year.
preternatural- (pree-tur-NACH-err-uhl) adj. Describes things that are out of the norm, abnormal or unnatural. Not to be confused with supernatural, which implies forces beyond understanding.
Wilma had to call on preternatural physical and mental strength to pop her dislocated shoulder back into place so she could continue her hike out of the canyon.
Here is to hoping your day is preternaturally full of good and joyful things!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

This One Time at Church Camp...

This year I decided to try new things, well at least things that I do not normally do, even if the rest of the world does. Camping with my family is one thing I have never done. Yes, I went to summer camp as a child. I have even gone on weekend camping trips with my daughter's Girl Scout troop. However, we have never as a family gone camping. Luckily, our church has a Family Camp trip each summer over the 4th of July. Of course for years I have found reasons not to go to Family Camp, this year I had run out of we camped. Let me tell you it takes a lot (a ton) of stuff to camp. I would list it, but the rest of you most likely have camped so you know already all the stuff. Here is what you may not know, camping with a bunch of other families from church is hilarious. I will share just a few of the observations I made while in the "wilderness".

  1. What happens at Family Camp stays at Family Camp. Its like Vegas with more trees, and less electricity...but pretty much the same amount of "adult beverages". If offered a trip to Las Vegas or another camping trip...well even this lover of modern conveniences would have a hard time picking
  2. Completely disregarding the confidentiality statement in point #1, (sorry, rules are meant to be broken). Five grown adults can amuse themselves for about and hour trying to get a dead hanging branch out of a tree. The best tools to use for such a task are a basketball and a football , and not a flip flop (in case you are ever in this situation). This activity will also be looked upon as a "public service" by the five adults, because who knows when that branch may have fallen out of the tree and caused untold harm to an unsuspecting passerby? The passersby observing this activity will look upon it as complete tomfoolery.

  3. Kids whine a lot less when they are running around filthy with other kids their age. They also sleep like the dead and do not complain about what food they are served. In other words, nature can pretty much work miracles.
  4. Cleanliness is relative when camping. I averaged a couple showers a day and some swimming and still managed to feel pretty filthy all the time. Fortunately, there is a lovely drink made from hops and barley that helps one care a bit less that there is a skim of dirt all over there legs and feet.
  5. Spending a few days disconnected from computers, TV's, and other technology is surprisingly easy. Yes, my phone was on, but was used more as a "walkie talkie" to check on the kids or find out where the fun was happening across camp. Sure I could have bought real walkie talkies, but the mobile phones worked fine. Sitting around playing cards and talking with friends is far more entertaining than any television show or movie.

Camping has gained another convert! It is a church camp miracle! That being said, please do not expect to run into me on a remote backwoods trail carrying all my gear in a back pack, and digging holes to use as a toilet. I am a Lutheran, and I would protest that.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Days All Confused

Long weekends are great in so many ways. Great for having a little get-away, or fabulous for catching up on the "to do" list projects around the house. The extra time allows us to slow down and just have some time to be lazy, and decompress. The bad thing about long weekends is the days get all confused for the next week. Today is Monday, but it feels like Sunday. Tomorrow is Tuesday, but it is going feel like Monday. Poor, pitiful, sad sack, Monday. Monday is the ugly step-sister of all the days of the week. Thus, Tuesday will be the the other ugly step-sister (yes, she is ugly too, but not as hideous as Monday). Then the rest of the week is just all discombobulated. I really get mentally off balance when do not know what day it is. Perhaps because I do not love changing the routine. Routine works for me. Having to compress my Monday things into a Tuesday (pretending to be Monday) along with my Tuesday stuff, well it makes for a busy day...and half way through it I will inevitably forget what day it is, and wonder why a reasonably intelligent person, like me, gets so flipping confused by the days of the week. So enjoy the long weekend. Live in the moment. Savor the extra time. Then brace yourself, because the rest of this week will be days all confused.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Being Amish

Let us all just take a moment to reflect on how odd it is to title a blog post Being Amish. I am pretty sure that there are no Amish bloggers out there, or if there are Amish bloggers, they are begging for a shunning. Around this house lately there has been lots of talk of being Amish. Call it strange, but stuff like this happens more often than you might think. Growing up my sister, Betsy, and I would frequently "shun" each other. Shunning was a glorious and ceremonial act, the shunner would place their thumb on their nose, fingers extended, then quickly utter the words "I shun you", while equally quickly making a fist, while keeping the thumb on the nose. It was the official way to shun, and if I were more tech savvy I would post a demonstration video (but being borderline Amish, no video post). By the way, Betsy and I also really suck at shunning each other, we both like talking and we are rarely mad at each other. Back to the events that sparked this current Amish fascination in our home; the thunderstorms, tornado warnings, and threats of power outages. It started sitting in the basement while the tornado sirens blared outside. I always hate to lose electricity, because I am a pansy. I like my hot coffee, hairdryers, TV, and unspoiled food. I may worry more about losing power than having my house blow away. The logic being if my house blows away I can completely justify staying in a hotel. It was pointed out to me by a wise young person in my home that the Amish do quite well without all of the things I consider necessities. At this point I felt like shunning that wise young person, but as mentioned before, I suck at shunning.

However, the threat of losing power and being humbled by the reminder of a whole community of people that can thrive without electricity, I felt it was time to reevaluate my dependence on the power grid. So I reflected on how I could be more Amish (aside from improving my shunning skills). Here is what I learned about myself, I just like modern conveniences. I can't be Amish. I can only do without electricity for 24 hours, after that it gets ugly. I will not be going on Survivor and drying my socks by a fire. My necessities may be frivolous to some people, perhaps to whole cultures, but not to me. Could you go Amish? I secretly hope not because then you would quit reading this blog. What is absolutely necessary for you to be comfortable? And if you can make a pie like an Amish baker, please send me recipe.