Thursday, October 31, 2013

I Admire You

I do not use the word "admire" very often.  Correction, I use the word "admire" often, but generally in a sarcastic and snarky way where it pretty much means the opposite.  However today, I am talking true admiration for a special group of people.  People I really did not know existed. A very rare breed of people.  These people are divorced people that co-parent and treat each other with respect, kindness, and a genuine caring. One former couple that I know does this amazingly well.  We have same aged kids in activities together so we encounter each other often.  I knew this couple divorced several years ago.  My husband did not realize they were divorced until a few weeks ago when their child said something about "at my dad's house" in front of my beloved.  This prompted some questions later to clear up his confusion.  Here are the reasons he believed them to be married...

  • They sit by each other at events
  • They talk and laugh with each other
  • Their kids are good and well adjusted (this is based on observation, they could be monsters at home, but he has never seen it)
  • They speak kindly about each other

(Okay, maybe the above does not seem like remarkable stuff, but my beloved and I really love each other and often just sit in silence with each other at public events (and on our own couch).  It is not an uncomfortable silence.  We just do not feel like talking.)

I have always believed this un-couple was just a anomaly, pretty much two peace doves in the the world of divorce that has so many acrimonious vultures.  I admire them.  I do not admire that they are not together anymore, but the fact that they have risen above whatever caused them to divorce to be parents to their kids first, is beautiful.

Just a few days ago I found out another one of my daughter's friends has peacefully divorced parents as well. I would have never guessed they were not together, for pretty much the same reasons my beloved listed above for the other super un-couple.  Kindness, respect, and genuine caring can be felt around these co-parents.  How did these people learn to put the resentment and other broken relationship garbage away?  It is so unselfish.  It is so admirable.

I am not sure if I could be that kind and respectful if I were divorced from my beloved.  The very ugly truth about me is, I like to be right, and I like to win.  I fight with these truths about myself.  Constantly asking myself;  is "being right" is worth the fight?  No, is generally the correct answer.  However, when I am hurt or feeling insecure (the type of feelings very present in a broken relationship), it is challenging for me to not fall back into "being right" and "win at all costs" mode.  Human nature is real jerk sometimes.

I admire those people who have decided (I honestly believe they have made a very deliberate choice) to be friendly with their ex-spouse.  Whether their kids know it now, or maybe will only realize it much later, their mom and dad put them first.  These co-parents put aside their brokenness in favor of their kids' completeness.  This is something I can truly admire.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


I was reading through some of my previous posts and this one from January 2012 really struck me.  (In a good way, others make me cringe) When I first wrote it I felt some slacker guilt for admitting I am not a real perfectionist, but somehow almost two years later, I want to give myself a high five.  This is why I love writing so much.  It captures moments, and often reminds me that I am not done becoming me yet.  And if you did not read this when it was first is new to you.  ---Allie

Yesterday I had a wonderful talk with an equally wonderful friend. The kind of talk where you cover so many topics, commiserate, celebrate, bitch, praise, and laugh through so much of it. It would be wrong to share any specifics of our long conversation, these are things I hold dear and confidential. Anyway at some point we agreed that we like our lives to be going a solid 85% right. I started by confessing that I am happy with life being at a C+. She then pointed out some truths about me, and it was decided that we are solidly B people. And 85% is a solid B. If everything in life is 85 % good then things are fine. Sure 15% may be utter calamity and chaos, but that can be dealt with as long as the percentage of calamity does not gets larger. It should also be mentioned I am a person that looks at life from a school perspective. Perhaps it my education background or just that I see lessons and test in so many aspects of daily living. Example: The sulky faced, rude clerk at the store that is almost begging you to tell him or her off with their sour demeanor. However, you take the high ground and in your mind assume that something hideous must have happened to this person on the way to work today, so you just say, "Thank you. Have a nice day", at the end of your transaction. You pass. You get 100% for being a civil human being in a frustrating, somewhat hostile situation. There is the glimpse into my very grade based brain that is happy to have an 85% good life.

In truth, how many times in your life can you say everything was going perfect? Maybe as a child, on Christmas. At that point I may have said, "And all is right with the world". Other than that pretty much life consists of taking the bad with the good. Think of the most fortunate person you know. Now think about the thing in their life that you can not deal with or would struggle to deal with. Everyone has something, some have more misfortune or drama than others. However, even those with the most charmed life have obstacles to overcome or learn to live with. Those things just may not be obvious to us. Sure their are people living lives of 95% of everything going well, and they are probably happy. However, their margin of error is only 5%...heck, that could cause this person to completely lose it at some point. Living a solid B life is where I choose to dwell. Perhaps I could strive for more, but my solid B keeps me on the honor roll of life. No one is calling me for "life tutoring", but I am also not getting notes home about not living up to my potential. Perhaps this theory exposes me as a slacker, or maybe just as a total realist. It really does not matter as long as I keep my solid B average. Viva la 85%.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mistakes & Myths

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. --George Bernard Shaw
Does anyone else subscribe to the Oprah Magazine daily e-mail?  Please say you do, I need to feel some community in my in-adequateness.  I subscribed years ago, when Oprah still had her talk show.  I was an occasional watcher.  I like her interview style, and she really does like a lot of cool stuff, so the "Favorite Things" shows always sucked me in hard.  Anyway, each day I get an e-mail about "Living My Best Life", no harm in trying to be the best me I can be, right?  Life coaching and guidance through the inbox.  Good stuff.  Lately most of the titles contain the word "mistakes" or "myths".

The Six  Hair Mistakes (hint: quit talking to your hairdresser, you are compromising your hairstyle)

The Ten Biggest Relationship Mistakes (oddly sharing to many common interests, and not sharing common interests are both no-nos)

The Biggest Mistakes Women Make When Dieting (Creating too much of a calorie deficit through under eating and over exercising.)

5 Diet Myths Making You Gain Weights (as told by Dr. not even get me started) He restates the above "diet mistake" and you need to quit diet soda.

4 Myths About Anti-Depressants (also by Oz) (they are not "happy pills")

So this is the stuff that greets me every morning in my inbox.  All the myths I am believing and mistakes I am making.  It becomes a game to see what I am doing right.  In reading all the myths and mistakes, which are meant to help guide one to being better, or making better choices, a person can, at the least, get rather confused, and at the worst, start feeling like a colossal hot mess.

Lately, I have started to think making mistakes is fine. Is it really so bad to believe in myths?  As a kid I pretty damn happy believing in Santa and the Tooth-fairy.  Loot rolled in.  Life was good.  Granted, the Santa myth is rather harmless, and harboring other false beliefs can be more dangerous.  I guess the whole thing with "Myth Lists" is you sometimes feel like a dummy for not realizing you were off the mark.  However, mistakes are not bad.  Mistakes are some of life's best teachers.
Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out. --Benjamin Franklin
 As a mother of a teen daughter I am very guilty of trying to keep her from making mistakes.  (I admit I am a huge hypocrite, and she knows it)  Sure, there are some things that  through sharing stories can help teach and mold.  I certainly do not want her to learn not to drink and drive by getting in a horrific crash.  I do not want her to OD and go to rehab to learn that drugs are dangerous.  The big mistakes I am perfectly willing to share news articles, and other sources to help impress that these are mistakes she does not even want to dabble with.  It is the smaller, but still painful, stuff  that I struggle to not lecture upon.  Most of this involves relationships. Things like, putting to much caring and trust in people that will not reciprocate.  Liking someone who does not even have a inkling of clue how awesome she is as a person.  Believing the myths someone tells to get what they want.  Believing the myth that it does not matter. I never want her to have her heart broken.  I want her to never make mistakes that will hurt.  When I write that I see how absurd it sounds.  Mistakes do hurt.  Some hurt worse than others.  Some myths, like Santa, are harmless, and some are far more insidious.
I mock the Oprah Magazine site for sending me lists of mistakes not to make, and myths not to believe so I can I have my "best life".  As if you can really "learn life" from reading an article, or attending a lecture. All the while, I am doing the same thing.  I want to lecture and curate the perfect easy, breezy high school experience for my daughter.  Perhaps that is the big myth I need dispelled.  High school is neither easy, or breezy.  It is a bunch of confused half-adult, half-children wandering about trying to figure out what the heck is happening to them. I just happen to have a very serious interest in only one of these half & half creatures.  I want to send her a list of mistakes not make, and myths to disregard.  I want her to read each bit of information and wisdom as if it were heaven sent.  It is not.  It is just from a person was there, made mistakes, got hurt, got up, and did better the next time.  I would not give up any of it because it helped me become wise.  However, now I have to watch one of the most important people in my life make mistakes, get hurt, get up, and do better the next time.  I need to let her become wise.  You can not give wisdom, you have to earn it.

And no lists or articles in the world could have ever, even remotely, prepared me for this.  

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Name Game

One thing that brings me great pride is my ability to remember people's names.  How I do it?  I am not sure.  My memory is pretty solid when it comes to recalling information specific to people.  I can not remember phone numbers, mathematical formulas, or where my car keys are located.  However, names and faces lock in really well.  Okay, until yesterday.  I was at a meeting for an upcoming marching band competition that is being hosted at my daughter's school.  It was a meeting of all the volunteers.  Meetings and I have a rocky relationship.  I tend to only listen for what I may need to know for my specific position, and ignore the rest.  The game I chose to play last night to keep my facial expressions looking engaged and attentive was, Match the Kid and Parent.  It is fun game.  The kids were all out practicing, so it was more challenging.  Glancing around the room, there were actually many parents I had not met, but not letting that deter me, I studied features and decided who the offspring may be.  (I can not be 100% sure how I scored on the match game since the meeting dismissed before practice and some of the parents escaped).  However, I became distressed when it came to another freshman parent, I know we have been introduced.  I remembered the child's name, and the wife's name (she was not even at the meeting), but the dad's name was gone.  No where could I recall it.  It fell out of my brain. Very frustrating for a person that considers them self a name recalling savant.  I should have been able to shrug this off, but then a sign-up sheet came around and I needed to pass it to "the forgotten-name dad", and he was looking the other direction and did not see the sheet next to him.  Such panic for me. What do I do???

Do I call him Mr. (and the last name which I do remember)?  No, that sounds so teacher-like and not something you do unless your kid is right next to you.

Do I poke him in the arm with a sheet of paper?  No, that is weird.

Do I wait for him to turn around? No, the paper will stop circulating (I like progress to much)

No, I went for the cheap cop out, "Psst...Jack's* Dad".  It worked.  The paper continued to circulate.  However, I am now "that person".  The person who calls people, publicly, by their children's name.

I am not sure if any offense was taken.  Personally, it does not bother me when people call me by my child's name followed by "mom".  I am proud to be their mom. It is an honor.  Frankly, there are so many worse things to be called.  However, I am not sure everyone feels the same.

Being a name recalling savant (up until yesterday), I am not sure how to proceed to relearn this person's name.  I know people I have met several times still ask me my name.  It is annoying for me, but I know many people do not have name recall, so I reintroduce myself (sometimes several times).  It hurts to be so utterly forgettable (not really).  The hardest thing for me is admitting that sometimes my memory for names is fallible.  Ouch, that hurt to write.  Name recall is one of my major functions in my relationship with my beloved.  He is okay with names, but pales in comparison to his name-recall genius wife.  Driving to social engagements it is my job to give him a refresher on who is who.  Pairing the spouses, naming the kids, telling professions...all that stuff.  My beloved is sometimes baffled at how I can spout all of this information, yet forget to buy peanut butter at the grocery, or balance my checkbook (Honestly, I have no idea either, it is just the stuff that sticks in my brain).  We have a great system where I will greet people with their names at events so he can always appear to know who is who. (I share the genius)

Me: Oh Mary! Great to see you.  Is Bill with you tonight? (best way to pair and locate a partner, who also my have found the open bar. Priorities)
My Beloved: Nice to see you, Mary.  I am going to see Bill.

This is generally a foolproof system, unless Mary and Bill have just filed for divorce.  In which case, I sort of step in it on occasion.  At least I am not poking them in the arm with paper, or asking for their name for the 10th time.

I am going to have to suck it up and ask for re-introduction, or insist my daughter quit the marching band to spare me the shame.  I am going to be so annoyed with myself if it turns out I forgot a name like Mike, Jim, Dan, Tom, Bob, or Dave. (Those are my top six  guessing names)  I am not sure if anyone else on the planet even has "guessing names".  Most people just say, "Sorry, I can not recall your name".  Perhaps no one else has elevated names to an actual game.  

*Name changed.  I do not use the real names of minors, even my own kids on this blog. Ever.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mommy & We

This week my beloved is traveling on business, which his jobs calls for on occasion.  Many people have spouses that travel far more often than mine, and I am not being "woe is me" about my situation.  My kids are good, helpful, and fun to be around, so we make the best of it.  However, if you are accustom to having another full grown adult around for conversation in the evenings, or to help drive a shift or two for the various activities, it can be a little crazy at times.  I am documenting the days for this trip in my public forum.  In case you never have the opportunity to single parent, you can live vicariously through me.  Or maybe you are a full time single parent and you can call me a whiner.  Either way, I am putting it out there...

Day 1:  No one died today.  My greatest accomplishment was cleaning the bathrooms.  I even washed down the walls and ceiling with a bleach solution.  It all started with a cobweb in one corner of the bathroom, and it became a "If You Give a Pig a Pancake" situation. (If you do not understand that children's literature reference, get yourself to the local bookstore and read it.  You can just stand in the aisle and read it, tell them I said it was okay).  Anyway, the bathroom is so clean I could have served dinner off the floor.  I did not.  We went out for chicken shwarma.  It is my comfort food, garlicky chicken and pita bread.  Happy.  My daughter talked about the upcoming Homecoming dance and who was going with whom, and how she likes her dress so much because it's "classy not trashy"...(you bet it's classy.  I paid for a classy dress.  Like I am letting my kid out of the house looking like a Vegas showgirl? No offense to the showgirl population).  My son asked at least fifteen questions about dances.  What it's it?  Where is it?  Do you have to have date?    Do you have to wear shoes?  Are there teachers at the dance?  What if the music is bad?  If you do not dance do you have to leave? Can I go see the dance?  Why not?  Why are you so mean?  Why can't I ask anymore questions?  People who ask a lot of questions learn the most.  No, I do not want to get punched.  That was a stupid question.  It was enjoyable to see someone else in the hot seat getting rapid fire questions, but when the threats of violence erupted, I stepped in and fixed it.  Everyone showered, and then bedtime.
Day 2:  No one died today, but threats were made.  I met my friends for coffee, it was the brightest part of my day.  I love those crazy ladies, mostly because they love this crazy lady right back.  The dog stared at me and then started making gagging noises.  I tried not to take it personally, but it hurt.
Day 3:  3:46am awakened by the cat licking  my nose.  She had done this to my beloved Saturday night.  I was hoping he was just special.  Nope, the cat is a freaky nose-licker.  I sat awake for 30 minutes wondering whether this was a valid reason to return the cat to the animal shelter.  Decided when she starts chewing our faces off I will make a stand.  Re-awoke at 5:30 to start the day.  No one died.  Wednesday is crazy after-school schedule day.  Out of kindness, I brought my daughter a mocha at school where she was waiting for an hour between dismissal and practice.  She appreciated it.  Her friends seemed annoyed that I neglected to get them mochas.  Kids today seem pretty entitled.  I only have resources enough to spoil the two kids I birthed.  No one was lost or left behind.  No panicked calls were made.  I declare victory upon this day.  I am still very suspicious of the cat.
Day 4:  Great victories were achieved before 9am!!!  I had to sign up my Webelos scouts up for some field trips at our local nature center.  The line for this is always HUGE.  I farmed my son off to a neighbor to get him on the bus.  Then I went to wait in line.  Thankfully, another leader from my Cub Scout pack was there.  She was first in line, and people were walking in and lining up with their fellow pack leaders.  My leader friend (and overall awesome person) waved me up.  OH YES!  I am in the front!!! I passed go, I collected my $200.  At the front of the line, still waiting for registration to begin, she explained another leader gave her registrations to turn in for the Bear workshops.  We planned it so I registered all the Webelos I & IIs and she went to the Bear line.  Naturally, being first, we got in to the sessions we needed.  Euphoria, may not even adequately describe the joyful feeling.  I needed this "simple win".  I needed to feel like I got away with something.  Being the solo-parent for four days wears on a person.  My spouse is flying home as I write this post.  I know he is excited to be back home.  I am happy to soon have another adult around.

I give massive amounts of credit to people who walk the parenting path solo everyday.  It is tiresome, and a bit lonely.  I am gladly counting down the hours to the return of dual parenting.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Under Construction: the teen years

Betsy, my sister, and I were recently having a conversation, and then an e-mail exchange about a teen situation with my daughter.  My maternal confidentiality code keeps me from elaborating too much, but it is a typical teen thing.  Nothing dangerous.  Nothing that a few years, some red wine (for me, not my child), and many more sister talks will not remedy.  One of my responses to my very wise social worker sister, was that it seems my daughter is under construction right now.  Everything is messy, loud, and the dust gets kicked up, but when the construction is done, she is going to be really something magnificent.  However, right now I am living in a construction zone.  And the contractor is taking His sweet time getting the project done.  Okay, I know everything good is worth the wait.  I am not wishing time away.  I am not.  It just gets tough living with a teen.  They are irritable, hormonal, and often confrontational.  They can also be sweet, generous, kind, and compassionate.  The trick is figuring out who is coming out of that ransacked room on any given morning.  Or who will walk back in the front door after school.  It is impossible to know.  It could be an angel, or it could be the anti-Christ.  (I exaggerate, because I can, and the other "a" word I was thinking of was not much better).  Either way she is my child and I love her.

I love her smile, and her frown.
I love her hopefulness, and her despair.
I love her laughter, and her tears.
I love her joyful shouts, and her angry rants.

Some say I have to because I am her mother, it is my job.  Even on the days when it feels like I am parenting two of her, the "good one" and the Incredible Hulk.  It will all pass.  She is learning how to navigate the world with more independence.  Sometimes it is awesome, sometimes it is awesomely frustrating.  I get it.  I have been there.  In many ways I am just as frustrated.  I want to have bouts of tears, and yell too.  I want to fix the problems. I want to tell her how to do everything so it will work out.  I can't,  because then she will never figure out that she has the solution to problems, the big ones and the small ones.  It is my job to keep my cool, and drop casual advice (like clues for a scavenger hunt, just enough to get her in the right direction, but not solving the riddles completely)   When dealing with teens it is best to stay calm, even if it is a false calm at times.  Many days are "fake it 'til you make it" around here.

It would be cruel to use the words "hot mess" to describe this phase of human development, but sometimes the truth hurts.  Most of us grow out our hot messiness.  Sure, there are some people that are still living the drama of the hot mess life, I am not going let my daughter be that person.  I will tolerate her dust, and the commotion caused by her growing into who she is meant to be.  I will also appreciate and celebrate all of the beautiful milestones and achievements the next few years will bring.  Taking the good with the bad.

She is under construction, pardon the dust.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five for Friday

Our Imaginary Dialog

Reader:  Jeepers! Allie, it has been an eternity since you wrote a Five for Friday. Has nothing random or ridiculous happened in months?  Have you read nothing decent?  Has the whole planet finally come around to your way of thinking?

Allie:  Oh dear one, random and ridiculous is like the water in the Great Lakes that surrounds this pleasant peninsula I inhabit.  It is plentiful and often infested with non-native creatures much like those crazy carp that jump out of the water, and zebra mussels that do whatever they do that is horrible and wrong.

Reader:  Huh, okay then...well, what sort of random ridiculousness have you encountered this week?  (fervently hoping for no more obscure, slightly environmental, but completely baffling references)

Allie:  Wow, thanks for asking, my intelligent and kind reader.  It is so compassionate of you to be concerned with the important and pressing issues in Allieville (population 1, but the visitor center is very busy and their are three squatters in the mayoral mansion)

Reader:  So you have some witty, mildly entertaining musings to share????

Me:  You know I do. You know, I do.

  1. The Two Day Heat Wave.  Tuesday and Wednesday were unseasonably hot this week. I had pity upon the school kids.  The self-pity came into play when I had to attend an Open House at the elementary school.  It was hotter than Hades and three times as humid (I hear Hades enjoys a dry heat, much like Death Valley, and  your oven)  The A/C had been turned off  in the hope of using no climate control in the house until mid-October.  I pondered making my family tough it out.  Then folded like a wet paper bag before noon on Tuesday.  The thought of my family coming home, complaining about the heat was too much for me.  These people are getting to me, making soft.  At this rate they may coax me into turning on the heat before October 15th.
  2. Word Mashers.  The English language is in peril.  Every year some really sketchy words push their way into the dictionary by popular force.  Words that are like nails on a chalkboard to this lover of words.  In 2012, "sexting", made the dictionary.  (thanks Anthony Wiener, thanks a lot)  The word "earworm" made the dictionary as well.  I happen to fully endorse "earworm", I was actually surprised that it was not already in the dictionary.  My fear is the mashed up words like "amirite" (am I right), and "inorite" (I know, right) will be wholly embraced.  These are horrid phrase/questions already, but to then mash them into one word that ends with up vocal inflection trying to imply a fully formed question makes me crazy.  First of all, no you are not right, and I am pretty sure you know very little when you use these phrase/question atrocities.  A piece of my soul dies every time I hear these abominable language thugs.  I cry for our future if either of these monsters make the dictionary cut.
  3. Orange is the New Black (the book).  I recently downloaded this memoir of Piper Kerman's experience in a Federal womens prison.  It is a good read.  She writes very honestly about what landed her in prison, and what it was like for her being locked up for 13 months.  It is cautionary tale for those who make questionable choices in this time of mandatory minimum prison sentences for first time offenders.  Check it out.
  4. Orange is the New Black  (TV show).  Netflix has made an original series loosely based upon Piper Kerman's memoir.  Piper is involved in the series production, she is listed in the credits in some capacity..  The series is very entertaining.  It is also rather graphic, not suitable for kids or even teen viewing.  I mean that.  I am no prude, but this is completely adult content.  The book is suitable for teens if they are interested.  The storytelling is very engaging, and you may find yourself sucked into several episodes back to back.  It okay, it's Netflix.  Netflix is all about binge TV watching.
  5. Sad, but True.  A few weeks ago my son confronted me in the kitchen about Santa.  My sweet and logical LEGO loving boy stated that he has come to the conclusion that Santa Claus is indeed not real.  Ouch.  He is nine.  He gave a very reasoned argument.  He then chastised me for being a liar.  I informed him that his dad was in on it too.  He then said he is a liar too.  (Which is great because I do not like taking the heat alone.  I will throw people under the bus, even my beloved husband)  Then he promised to play along for his sister's sake.  What???  His sister is 14.  She has never told me where she stands on Santa.  She is the best older sister ever.  She wrote letters to Santa all through middle school.  I know she knows, but she would never say because she would not want to upset her little brother.  I am a little sad.  I will probably still put some stuff under the tree from "Santa" for the next few years.  Now I am wondering if I need to tell my daughter that the little guy has it all figured out?  Maybe someone will e-mail her a copy of this blog.  I do not think she reads me.  Not enough pictures, poor spelling, and LOLing here.
That is all I have for this week my sweet reader. Enjoy your weekend!

Totally random aside.  In my first draft of this entry  in the dialog I had labeled the Reader as "you" and Allie as "me"...then realized it was odd for you to consider yourself as "you" when you are a "me" to yourself.  Pronouns can be your friend and enemy at the same time.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Marching Band Rules

My very musically gifted daughter has joined her high school's marching band.  Okay, she pretty much joined it back in June, that is how long the band has been meeting and practicing.  They practice a lot.  A LOT.  Long practices.  Frequent practices.  Many, many, many practices.  They went away to camp, the whole lot of them, and practiced playing and marching and moving.  They are pretty good.  I say this with a completely untrained eye and ear.  I never marched.  I attempted to play musical instruments, with little success, even though I was stationary in a chair the entire time.  I am not musical.  I am creative, and gifted in other ways.  I can make up alternate lyrics to almost any song (the pitch of the signing is sketchy).  I can write simple poems.  I write this blog (although I am not sure if that qualifies as "being creative", but I write and people understand what I write.  The word on the street is, not everyone can write in a way people understand their message.).   Non-musical mom says this marching band is pretty good.  Mom who is rather sick of driving back and forth says, "They better be good for all the practicing they do.  For all the practicing, they should be marching down the streets of Pasadena on New Year's Day in the blessed Rose Bowl Parade".  Sick of driving mom is pretty grouchy, but she has a solid point.

Marching Band, from my rookie marching parent perspective, seems to have a set of rules.  Not necessarily written rules, but rules like prison.  Unwritten, sometimes unspoken rules, that you must figure out to move seamlessly among the other inmates marching parents.  I am not sure if a veteran marching parent will shiv you for messing up, or breaking a rule, but they may shun you or talk behind your back.  (I am a direct kind of girl.  I may prefer a shiv between the shoulder blades).  Anyway, here are the rules I have surmised thus far:

Marching Band Rules

  1. The band will compete in competitions.  When you ask what exactly marching band competitions are,  you will be told, "Competitions are so much fun".  When you try to get beyond "the fun" aspects, you will be asked to drive several marchers to the competition, and help haul props out on the field for performances.  That sounds like work, I am not sure where any fun will be had . 
  2. Practice begins fifteen minutes before the stated time. 
  3. Practice ends ten to fifteen minutes later than the stated time
  4. The drums are always playing.  Percussionist do not care, they never did.  I am curious to see what the walls must look like in a drummer's home.  God bless those parents.
  5. The Marching Band will always be doing some type of fundraiser. I could go on a preach on how the Arts are underfunded, and it is a shame.  I could tell you how playing an instrument is connected with higher achievement in math.  I won't.  I will just try to sell you some festive holiday greenery, or flowers in the spring.
  6. To be in band your student must purchase shirts indicating their class, their section, and the show they are performing this season in the band.  The student will hit up the parents for the money.
  7. Band Parents are to wear shirts indicating they are part of the marching band.
  8. Band Parents sit near the band at football games.
  9. Your marcher will be tired all the time, but still want to attend the frequent, long practices
  10. You will ALWAYS be able to see your marcher (and they will look the best) even though the goal is for the whole band to blend together as a single moving force.
I know this much to be true of marching band.  I alternately hate and love the marching band.  When viewing the family calendar and seeing how many days it takes up, or having to go on vacation without my daughter because she was at band camp during the summer, or seeing her blistered feet that she will continue to march upon...I hate it.  However, when I hear her talk about the new friendships she has made, and sit in the stands on a Friday night, under the lights and see her take the field playing and moving forward, backward, and side to side whilst playing her clarinet...well, then I really love the marching band.  She is learning to use her time wisely, work hard, and be a team player.  All of those things will serve her well academically and socially.  Sure, I still have to figure out all the marching band rules.  I will have to do fundraisers.  I will drive the wheels off my car.  But maybe, just maybe, someday I will say, Marching Band, RULES!!! 


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Back to School: Smooth Criminal Edition

We are all back to school here.  My daughter started high school.  My son is in fourth grade.  I am enrolled in online traffic school.  You know a typical day in the life of a smooth criminal.  I did not choose the life, it chose me.  Actually, I am not sure that being a chronic lead foot makes me an actual criminal.  It certainly makes me a scofflaw.  It also make me a poor example for my kids who now monitor my speed as if I just learned to drive yesterday.  Perhaps if my parents had corrected my "speedy queen" tendencies from an early age I would not be a 40 year woman enrolled in online traffic school to keep the points from being reported.  No, I am not going blame my parents, but my dad would say things like, "Give her some gas, we don't have all day" (Technically, we probably did have all day.  We lived a rather bucolic little town where not much happened.  Clearly, a breeding ground for young speed demons.).  He would also encourage passing the elderly in their long, slow sedans, once again because we did not have all day (and it turns out we did).  Okay, so I am going to blame my dad a little for my need for speed.  However, he does not read this, or even go on computers.  (Very funny aside, relating to nothing other than poking fun at my dad.  My daughter sent him a text, and he thought it broke his phone because he could not get the words off the screen for 5 minutes.)  And to be completely contrary to societal norms, I do not blame my mother at all for my descent into a life of civil infractions.  Sorry Mom, like I said earlier, the life chose me!

Back Story: Rule 4 in Action

Rule 4 for Being Human is "The lesson is repeated until learned".  (If you are not familiar with The Rules of Being Human click here).  Anyway, back in August my daughter needed to get to a clarinet sectional practice.  I am obsessed with being on time. In fact, if I am not 5 minutes early...I feel late.  Yes, it is a bit OCD (I own that).  Anyway, in my quest for her to be on time, which my OCD said needed to be five minutes early, I was driving too fast through a known speed trap. POP. Ticket. Online Traffic School.  How did I know it was speed trap?  I was pulled over in the same place several years ago.  I also see people pulled over there all the time (It is the road I travel to get to my daughter's school and my local Target).  So I knew better.  My beloved pointed out all of these things to me.  I know, but I did not choose the fast  life, the fast life chose me!  And the universe was going keep teaching me about speeding until I learned.

The worst part was not getting a ticket.  I deserved it.  This was not my most deserving act of speeding...I have gone much faster.  No, the worst part was after I finally dropped my daughter off (seven minutes late), my son said, "You were not going as fast as could have been going".
At that point he truly believed some great injustice had been done to his mom.  He did not see me as deserving of a traffic citation.  He did not want me punished.  He even said. "You are a good fast driver".
Thank you son, I am a good fast driver.  And I am still in the wrong.  Worse than that, I am a bad role model .  Rules are rules.  Rules have consequences.  In the past I have written letters to get out of tickets, or had them changed to a non-moving violation.  Basically, weaseling out of what I actually did wrong.  I knew this time I needed to accept what I did. I have accepted the actual consequences for my crime.  I paid the fine, and now I am taking a class to learn why my "good fast driving" is not as good as I believed.

My son went with me to the courthouse to pay my ticket.  He asked me if I was mad at the police now.  (after randomly recalling a song from my youth by the gangster rap group NWA...which is entirely inappropriate)  I told him I was the one that messed up, the policeman was just doing his job.  It was in the parking lot of the courthouse that my son said he would make sure I never "speeded" again.  Now I have a 9 year old parole officer.  I report to him daily, and do his laundry.

Online Traffic School

This time I may actually learn that speeding is wrong, because paying the money was easy, but taking an online class is a mild form of torture.  The course is a mandatory four hours.  It has sections that you read, and then answer 10 questions.  No big deal.  However, it is all timed.  If your read the section in 10 minutes, and the program allotted 30 minutes for that section, you have to go back and review the reading (or file your nails) for 20 more minutes until the questions pop up.  It also has these alarming yellow flashing boxes that pop up randomly with questions you need to answer within 10 seconds to prove you are indeed in front of your computer and not taking a shower, vacuuming, or doing much of anything else.  It turns out this fast driver is also a fast reader.  I could have opted to take an actual class in a classroom that lasted 4 hours.  I am pretty sure that would have killed me, or at least killed my spirit.  Online I can do a section, take a break, and go back.  As long as I finish before October 24, and pass the test with 70% correct answers.  Just so you know, my competitive nature will not let me get a 70%.  I have thus far earned 100% on all of my modules.  In a classroom setting it would have been fun to waive around a few 100% tests (that is the only upside of having actual classmates).  I did not choose the nerd life either...(it chose me).


Honestly, for the first time in all of my driving years, which is many.  I am obeying speed limits.  Not because I particularly think that they are right, but because it is a law.  We live in a society that needs laws to keep good order.  Now it is about being a good example for my kids.  I want them to be be good drivers someday, and I am their primary example of driving, so I need to make it good and lawful.  (Yes, my beloved drives them places, but not as much as I do)  I want to be good role model.

Now back to my Traffic School Modules...

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Caution: This post is a rant.  If you are here to be inspired or uplifted in anyway, click away now.  I am going  to rant and complain and generally rally against the forces that be.  No good will come of it, but I will feel lighter after laying down this burden upon my lovely readers.  Again, click away from this page if you are looking for happy, joyful, and uplifting.  She does not live here today. 

Okay...I think the Pollyanna Lolly-pop Guild has left the page.

(Rant on)

Paperwork.  I hate it.  The kind of paperwork I am referring to is the permission slips, camper liability, health forms (especially if they need a doctor's signature), registration for activity forms...all of them.  Forms.  I hate forms.  I HATE FORMS.  The information is repetitive, tedious, and annoying.  I hate copying the front and back of insurance card to attach to forms.  The immunization records that have to be copied and attached, OR even worse, transcribed onto a health form (this is the worst).  The older my kids get the more numerous the forms become, the more sheets of paper that get included.  It is torture.  I have never been water-boarded, but I think if given a choice between filling out forms and the water-board...I might just choose the water-board.  Seriously.

My daughter, who is lovely, sweet, and talented has generated a lot of paperwork for me this summer.  In fact, I am in the middle of filling out the third set of camp related forms this summer.  I stopped filling in forms to write this post.  The annoyance was festering.  I was about to become crabby with her, but decided to take it out on the keyboard instead.  The problem is, there is no real solution to this problem.  The camps, schools, and organizations NEED the information in case there is a problem.  I get it.  I certainly would not send my kid to a camp or activity with just a backpack and a hug good-bye.  I really want to be contacted if there is a problem.  I certainly want medical attention sought if they are sick or injured.  I just am sick of filling out the same information on slightly different forms for each camp or activity.  What I really want is universal forms.  I want all camps, schools, and activities to have ONE set of forms that satisfies all the groups.  Once a year I want to sit down and update the forms, save it to my computer, and then print out the same packet of forms for each organization.  Honestly, all camps ask the same questions.  A health form is rather standard.  Even the waivers for High Ropes Courses are rather standard.  No it will not include the school or camp logo letterhead, who cares?  I know what I am signing them up to attend.  I want and need UNIVERSAL FORMS!!!!  Do not tell me it can not be done.

It can be done.

It is possible.

It is my dream.

My beautiful, simple, dream.

A world with less paperwork.

(Rant off)

Monday, April 22, 2013

It IS the Small Stuff

I am sure you have heard the phrase, "Don't sweat the small stuff", occasionally followed up with, "...and it's all small stuff".  Well, whoever made up that pearl of wisdom can STFU...right now.  Yup.  I went there.

The problem with "not sweating the small stuff" means accepting some level of chaos and disorder.  Many people live blissfully in chaos and disorder.  It is their place, their filthy, messy, loud
Shangri-La. (If you are one of those people, God bless you. Mazel. That is great. I will not be over at 6pm for dinner.  Not that it would ready at 6pm anyway)  It is not my world.  I like order.  I will not apologize for enjoying an orderly existence.  The small stuff will be sweated over, maybe to the point it is dripping and in need of a shower.  Deadlines, due dates, and lists are my reason for being.  My question is, How does the small stuff get done if everyone is "not sweating it"?  In the past when I have decided to try out this slacker, don't sweat it, way of life the only thing I have found is the small stuff gets bigger.  The two loads of laundry I decided to not stay up and wash became four loads of laundry, and family members in need of pants.  "Don't sweat the small stuff...who needs pants?".  I am here to tell you, It matters.  The small stuff matters.  People need to eat, and society is not ready for clothing optional people to be mainstreamed (and we live in Michigan...not a great place for accidental nudists).

My point is...the small stuff matters and it needs to get done.

My rant is...the hippie bastards that say, "Don't sweat the small stuff...and its all small stuff" need to be flogged with an organic cotton sock filled with their own freshly churned butter.

Yes, all the things are small, but there are so many small things that need to be done all at once to make life livable for those of us that can not see beyond, or cope with, disorder and chaos.  Laundry, dinner, lunches, picking up from practices, dropping off at friends, school stuff, volunteer stuff, cleaning, writing, lesson planning, grocery shopping...the list goes on. All of those things need to be managed.  It requires planning and order for everything to go off without a hitch.  Even with all the planning, s*** happens, and then plan B has to happen, or plan C (I really sweat when it gets to plan C, because I seldom have plan D, so I am up a creek without a paddle if plan C fails).  Yes, it's all small stuff.  Nothing life threatening.  None the less, if you are a planner and do-er who likes the machine well oiled...the small stuff is what gets you.  I get that.

If you sweat the small stuff, that is okay.

If you like to plan, that is okay.

If you hate clutter and chaos, that is okay.

If you want to violently shake those laid back fools that never concern themselves with details, and seem to rejoice in chaos, and just let life happen to them, STOP...that is assault.  You will go to jail.

Take comfort in knowing, I will be sweating the small, medium, and large stuff.  You are in fine company.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Feline Friday

Massively freaked out!

I am not sure if I am actually get to five random things today, because I am a new mom!   The adorable ball of fluff you are seeing is Zazzles!  So we shall rename the day FELINE FRIDAY.  If you are not a cat fancier, sorry.  You are missing out on some of the most indifferent unconditional love in the world.  I was missing this aloof affection and adoration. We adopted a one year old cat this week.  I had forgotten what younger cats were like.  Our Yoda was 17 years old when she left us, and though I always felt she was rather feisty and spry, I am now being reminded more of what her earlier years were like.  Not that Zazzles is like Yoda...or that I even want that (I do not.  I want to appreciate them as the individuals they are).  However, all cats do certain things as youngsters that fade with age.  The biggest thing is how surprised Zazzles is by the sounds and sights of her new house.  I forget that she is new to house living.  Dishwashers are loud.  Vacuums are terrifying (although I am pretty sure that all of the other humans in my household are equally terrified of the vacuum).  Everything is surprising.  I also forgot how nosy cats can be.  I was accustom to Yoda walking up  going through bags and even my purse.  She gave everything a cursory looking over.  It was second nature.  Yoda also stole pens from my purse, and put them under the dresser in the bedroom. (It has been nice being able to find basic office supplies for the past few months)  Zazzles stalks all bags, bats everything around them, then steals a glance inside and then runs off.  Empty far.  She is not confident in her snooping.  Perhaps in time she will grow more confident in her snooping skills...or perhaps not.  Either way it is nice to have her lovely, indifference in my home.
Relaxed .

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Busy Rebelling

This week I have been too busy, not that I like it, or I am proud of it.  I am not.  Busy is like a disease sometimes.  If you do not do anything to stop it, it just gets worse.  The more you do, the more people ask you to do, the more you agree to do, and if you are highly competent you can plan on having plans everyday for eternity (okay, I exaggerate a bit). In general Americans seem very proud to be overly busy.  I have friends (and I love them dearly) that will open up their calendar or their calendar app, and show how insanely packed their days and weekends are for the next month or two months.  At times I feel as if they are challenging me to a "busy off".  I am not taking the bait.  I am not proud when my time is double and triple booked.  I do not like to have to serve my family convenience foods, with crappy nutrition because I have spent my day running about, in meetings, or other busy tasks.  I want to enjoy my life.  I want to enjoy my kids.  I want to enjoy my husband.  And I do not want to schedule time to enjoy them.  How hurtful it must be to have your beloved say, "Get out your calendar and let us schedule time for a date night".

How about just spending time together, and paring down on all the extra stuff?  How about asking yourself what your priorities are, and being honest about it?  If something is a priority YOU WILL MAKE TIME FOR IT.  Your partner should not be made to feel like a dentist appointment that needs to be scheduled.  Being busy is just a very good excuse.  It is socially acceptable to be insanely busy.  The chronically busy are lauded as great, productive, and helpful people.  Yes, they are.  However, let us ask ourselves, at what cost?  Probably at the cost of their family, and their own inner peace.

I am not claiming to have it all figured out, but I am telling you, I am no longer proud to be busy.  "Busy-Bee" is not a badge of honor I want to wear.  I would rather be known for how many games I played with my kids, how many books I have read, how many lunches I have had with friends, how many inside jokes my beloved and I have, and a thousand other things that really matter.  I am starting my rebellion against being busy.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Five for Friday

It is another snowy snowy my lovelies have no school.  In fact, my lovelies have not had a five day school week since before their holiday break.  It has worked out that either the school through scheduled days off,or snow days, or a sick little lovely has made each week in 2013 less than five days.  I just told my lovely son that I was going to write, and he pointed out it was snow day so I could skip it. WHAT?  I did not the rules applied to me?  Never.  Here are five random ramblings for a snowy day.  (If you are reading this in a region deprived of snow, I am sorry...and enjoy anyway)

  1. Tell me this does not sound like Rick Astley.  This is a band called Swedish House Mafia, and I am telling you the man singing sounds exactly like Rick (Never Gonna Give You Up) Astley.  If you do not remember Rick Astley, you probably do not remember the late 1980's.  My daughter put the SHM tune on our shared iTunes account and the "cloud" put it on my devices.  It is catchy, but I am telling you it sounds just like Rick Astley.  Ahhh, the memories! 
  2. Love v. Obligation. Since Valentine's Day (insert my eye-roll here) is coming up next week, I will once again pull out my yearly campaign against VD (is it a coincidence that the abbreviation is the same as that of venereal disease?  I think not).  First of all, I am not an angry lonely heart.  I have been with my beloved for close to 20 years.  He is a wonderful, flawed man that is well matched with this wonderful, flawed lady.  We work together.  Do I expect, or even want him on the 14th day of each February to suddenly shower me with gifts and flowers?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  February 14th is not a significant day for us.  A day on the calendar should not make a person acknowledge their love for their significant other.  Love is a choice, not an obligation.  Perhaps I am just lucky to know that I am loved and valued everyday of the year.  No roses and flowers required.
  3. Mandatory Craftiness.  Have you ever been asked to do something, and because you did not completely fail at it, people then think you are good at it?  That is me and kid's crafts.  Yes, I have lots of ideas, and a glue gun...but all of it is very forced.  I do not enjoy crafting very much.  I learned to crochet, but I would prefer to read a good book (or even a mediocre book...or the nutrition info on cereal).  However, now I have a reputation as an arts & crafts person.  I suppose there are worse things I could have a reputation for...but sometimes even those things seem less painful than planning a craft for 35 Cub Scouts.
  4. Nerdiness.  It is okay to be nerdy.  My daughter is at that special age when many girls forgo being the lovely intelligent people they are so they can play dumb to get boys to help them with their homework, or just because they think being smart is not pretty.  Wrong.  Smart is pretty.  Thus far, my daughter has not abandon her brain.  She is very proud that she has the best grade in her German class.  She asks her dad questions about Algebra, because she does not want anyone in her class to know that it is sometimes it is confusing.  (And she knows to not ask me about it because...well she is smart).  Her favorite TV show is The Big Bang Theory, because she thinks scientists are funny and cool.  She is proud that she is a gifted musician.  Sometimes she says she is "nerdy".  Which is fine, but sometimes she says it as if it is a bad thing (just sometimes).  And that makes me nervous.  I am afraid the thought of pretending to be dumb crosses her mind.  I pray every night that she fully embraces her intelligence, and understands that nerdiness is awesome.  
  5. Waiting for Exercise to Get Fun.  I have become exercise tolerant, because it is necessary for good health.  Just like brushing my teeth (I actually love brushing my teeth, always have).  I am still waiting for it to fun.  I hear people rave about have much they  love to workout.  I am glad they feel that way, but I am generally most pleased when the workout is over.  Yes, some workouts can be fun, but I generally do not appreciate that "fun" until it is over, or in the cool down phase.  I have also never learned to fully enjoy cleaning bathrooms, but I love the look of a freshly cleaned bathroom.  Perhaps I am waiting for something that is never going to happen?  I have been cleaning bathrooms for a long time, and it has not become a great joy.  

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Precious Cargo I must give credit to old friend from high school for the topic. (Thanks Chris)  I was scrambling for something solid to write about, and nothing on my idea list was producing much inspiration (oddly, on another day I may fight over competing ideas...that is how it goes).  My solution was to ask for ideas from my FaceBook connections.  And BOOM, the perfect idea, a very common problem that most parents face either daily, or if they are lucky only on an occasion or two...THE SCHOOL PARKING LOT.

I am of the opinion that children are the future, and though I do earnestly believe my kids are the smartest, kindest, wittiest, and most precious of all the children on the planet, ALL CHILDREN ARE PRECIOUS AND SPECIAL.  However, I am forced to believe that not all parents hold the view that all children are precious. Why would I think that?  Because some parents drive like absolute fools in the parking lots of their children's school. Parents that drive with no regard for the little people walking around.  Parents with no regard for the safety of the other parents in lot.  Parents that are in such a hurry to get their kid to school and get to work, nothing else seems to matter.   I know school parking lots, and drop-off loops get rather congested and move slowly at drop off and pick up time.  But guess what?  Children move rather slowly when weighed down by backpacks, boots, snow-pants  and the posters of the solar-system.  At pick-up time, children get confused as to which vehicle belongs to their parent (all vehicles with three rows of seating do look similar).  And yes, children wander where they probably should not.  They are children, and they will learn.  Almost hitting them with your car, or honking will not speed this learning process.  School children are confused, but they are precious and special.  For those of you who believe that the middle school and high school parking lots will be better to manage, let go of this notion.  The same parents that drove like fools in the elementary parking lots will be driving like fools in the secondary school parking lots.  Not to mention, if you thought young children were confused; texting, hormonal teens are confused and conflicted.  Yes, I get frustrated in the parking lots at my children's schools, but unlike many, I am fine with driving slowly and watching for kids (because they are precious and special).  Call me crazy, but I think that all parents should do same thing.  Both of the schools that my kids attend send out letters and maps at the beginning of the school year that indicate traffic flow patterns, drop-off zones, and parent parking.  I find it helpful to follow these guides as if they were enforceable by law (they are not, but it keeps me honest, even when I am in a hurry).

Here are some helpful thoughts and guidelines for dealing with school parking lots.

  1. Follow the recommended traffic and parking patterns.  If it does not make sense and you have a better idea that would improve traffic flow, write it up and propose it to the principal.  I am sure he/she would take it under consideration for the next school year.
  2.  Drive slowly.  I have seen so many parents just gun the engine as soon as their child is out of vehicle and on the side walk.  Yes, it is now your time to get out of lot, and get on with your day, but other children are still in the lot.  It is a parking lot, not a drag strip.
  3. Walk your really young ones to the building.  Kindergartners and first graders generally need parental guidance to get to the school building.  I have walked other people's young children to their entrance doors on several occasions because their parents dropped them off, pulled away, and never realized their child was uncertain of where to go.  Kids get confused sometimes.   
  4. No swearing or gesturing.  I am not known for having the cleanest language on the planet, but even I can get in and out of a school parking lot without swearing out loud (I keep it all on the inside, with a pretty smile on my face).  Gestures are right out, completely unacceptable.  For the children, keep your road rage in check.
  5. We all have somewhere else to go. No one wants to be jammed in the school lot.  Your job is no more important than other persons.  Leave your house earlier if you are in a time crunch.  Otherwise deal with it.
  6. All of our kids are the most precious and special people in the world.  Watch out for all of them and keep them safe.
**There was no really good way to tie this personal account of the confused & conflicted teen in the post.  So here it is as a funny aside.  I was parked, in a parking space in my mini-van, at my daughter's school and a kid that was texting walked right into the side of van.  Not just at the front bumper, right into the side where passenger door is.  He looked up and saw me in the driver seat staring at him, and I was giggling (because it was hilarious).  He turned, walked away, and then tripped over one of those cement bumper things in the parking lot.  It was truly precious and special.  I fear natural selection may get that young fellow. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Photo Friday

Last week my kids had Friday off of school because it was the end of the semester.  It was rather cold so we resorted to a favorite activity that we do not nearly enough.  Pottery painting!  I just picked up out freshly fired creations.  Mine is the tilted pitcher that I am going to use to refill the water reservoir of the coffee machine.  We currently use a really big plastic cup with the cast of Twilight plastered on it.  We have no more Twilight fans in the house, but it holds a lot of water.  It is currently residing in the recycle bin now that the tilted pitcher is home and ready to be pressed into service.  I did intend to make the stripes in varied widths, because it adds whimsy.  And who does not need more whimsy???
Now if I may direct you attention to the stunning turtle to your left.  This is the fine work of my daughter.  She is in a turtle phase.  She even painted the masked faces of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on her nails recently.  This is as close as she is getting to having a real turtle.  They smell odd, and carry illness.  Please refrain from comments about how cute turtles are and how they make wonderful pets.  I am not adventurous in my pet keeping ways. Cats, dogs, and fish...and the fish was a bit of folly really.  Fish are even too exotic.  So I hope she loves her the turtle she painted.  It is lovely, and odor free.
My son was very happy to see the Iron Man piggy bank.  Iron Man is his favorite of all the super hero types.  He likes that Tony Stark made himself into a super hero through his own thinking and inventing. I suppose that it seems like the most attainable way of becoming an action hero.  He also does not want to subject himself to excessive gamma rays, get bit by a spider, or the other painful ways that mortals become superheros. Yes, we have talked about the best and worst ways to become a super hero.  Thor and Superman had it easy being born into greatness.  I am impressed that he has figured out his limits, but is still striving for being a super hero.  Not to mention Tony Stark has a pretty kick butt collection of cars, and rather plush living conditions.
Happy Weekend.  Don't overdose on chips and guacamole during the Super Bowl.  I am officially rooting for the team coached by a Harbaugh to win.  My odds in Vegas are stellar.

***Note:  I really tried to make the title "Photo Phriday" or "Foto Friday", but I could not stand the cutesy misspelling.  My love for alliteration has it limits.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Depending on the Weather

I am keeping it short and sweet today.  The weather in Michigan has been insane lately.  If weather were capable of being diagnosed with a mental illness, Michigan weather would be on some major mood stabilizers for rapid cycling bipolar disorder.  No joke.  It is crazy, even for Michigan.  Last week we were in the very natural, very expected deep freeze.  Single digit and some below zero tempretures, typical Michigan.  Then Monday schools were closed because of icy and frozen rain.  I shoveled the slush.  By the end of the day it was in the mid-40's.  Tuesday it rained like it was April.  A steady downpour anytime you needed to leave a building, then letting up as soon as you were safely indoors.  (You may say I am paranoid, but I know that the rain is out to get me!  I know it.). Wednesday went from mild temps in the morning to cold and gusty in the evening.  Some rain here and there (only when I left my car or buildings...of course).  Now we at Thursday, cold and windy with snow flurries.  Which out of all the days this week is the most acceptable with me because it is January appropriate weather.  The weather messes with my hair, moods, and sinuses.  The kids do not know when to wear boots and heavy coats or rain gear.  The dog goes from frozen, to muddy, back to frozen.  (And my poor dog is from Alabama and constantly looks surprised every time she sets foot outside).  The only thing I can depend on the weather for is constant confusion.  Thank goodness I did not marry a meteorologist.  That would have been a recipe for some serious trust issues.  Stay warm, or dry, or enjoy the unseasonably warmth or whatever may apply once this is posted.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In MY Opinion...on opinions

As you can see from my title this is going to be a rip roaring, very topical, super important, and possibly life changing post.  If you believe any of this, please direct yourself away from this page now, before the disappointment changes the core of your being.  I can not be held responsible for your declined mental state or that fact that you may, in fact, lose IQ points reading about MY opinion...on opinions.  We have all had those conversations that upon the completion you wished there was some actual way to get the time back, and perhaps a small portion of intelligence that was sacrificed .   You know the person that knows it all, and tells it all...and is exhausting to hear.  You walk away like you have been slugged in the stomach.  Doubled over mentally from having to hear all the "great wisdom" this person possesses.  It is painful.  You wanted to contradict the person, but it would just prolong the conversation you never wanted.  Knowing if you argued an opposing opinion you may appear just as head-strong and thought inflexible as the person that is basically, lecturing you on their topic.  It is a conundrum.  We are all entitled to our opinions, but let us be really honest, some people have really messed up opinions.  My opinions are messed up too.  My worldview is pretty jacked up. (I will provide some examples of my messed up worldview at the end...judge for yourself)  I own it.  It is mine.  I will take it to my grave. I am not often very good at verbalizing my opposing viewpoint to other people's jacked up opinions because I have a sarcastic little monster that lives in me that just likes to poke jabs under the radar.  This is very poor communication, but it makes me happy to just poke.  It could be classified as passive aggressive behavior, and that is a fair assessment.  However, my sarcastic nature keeps me in the quasi-good graces of the ultra-opinionated, "never wrong" people of the world.  The people that truly, honestly believe that their opinions are the gospel truth, and thus should be preached.  Opposing viewpoints are not welcomed by the "never wrongs".  Facts to the contrary are like acid being thrown in their face.  The recoil and counter attack is not worth it for me.  I am not a "never wrong".  I am wrong a lot.  I admit it, apologize if needed, and move on.

There is some notion out there that a personal opinions can not be wrong.  Opinions can be very wrong and misguided.  They can be right to the individual, but that does not make it universally true.  These personal opinions may guide that person, and that is fine as long as that person is aware that the rest of the planet is not held to standards that their opinion sets.  And we can all agree that some people are very misguided, non?  Here are examples of some of my opinions that guide me through my life, but certainly are not universally true...

  • There is a limit on how long you can blame your childhood for your adult problems.  The limit is 25 years, if you can not sort yourself out by 25 years of age, get professional help.  Yes, we all have baggage from childhood no matter how idyllic or traumatic.  Get over it.  Go to therapy if you can not put your past in your past.  Life is too short to keep reliving your first 18 years.  Make peace with it, and do better as an adult. (I may expand this one into a full blog is my best MY opinion)
  • Dark chocolate is better than any other type of chocolate.
  • Small dogs are just over needy cats that bark.  If you like small animals, stick with a cat.  Their aloof independence is heartwarming, and they do not pee the floor when guests walk in the front door.
  • Men should never color their hair.  Silver hair on a man is sexy.
  • You can handle anything for 8 weeks.
  • Ride the biggest roller-coaster at least once, and never admit that sucked to those have not tried it.  Seeing their scared faces and slightly pained necks is worth the lie.
  • Honesty is the best policy unless you are talking about roller-coasters, pulling a practical joke, or are trying to get out of a conversation with a "never wrong"  
  • It is okay to wear gold and silver jewelry at the same time.
  • Toe rings are wrong.
  • It is okay to be wrong.  Sometimes it can be fun. 
So those are some of my opinions.  I told you some are pretty jacked up, and I am fine with it.  If you do not agree with me...don't be me.  See how easy that was?  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Five for Friday: Pet Peeve Edition

Hello!  We again stand on the precipice of the weekend.  So many possibilities, so much fun to be had, or perhaps you are ready for some hardcore couch time.  Whatever it is you have planned, or not planned...enjoy.  My good friend called me yesterday and started the conversation with, "You might need to blog about this...".  When some people say this to me, it bothers me, others I will take their idea and run with it.  Her particular beef was worthy of the "Pet Peeve" edition.  Her gripe rings true with me so, I thank her for the gift of an idea.  Please note, I like ideas and topics, but if I can not make my brain and fingers believe in an will not make it.  Some of my own ideas do not translate well into written word.  Perhaps I need to start doing some spoken word beat poetry for the leftover ideas. (See that?  I hideous idea that will not come to fruition)  Here are my five peeves for this Friday...

  1. People who can not focus on a conversation.  This is my friend's peeve, which I agree is horribly peevish.  Her beef is particularly with people during phone conversations talking to/ reprimanding their children, while on the phone with her.  We all know the best way to get your child's attention is to  answer a phone call.  Like moths to a flame they hover around you.  They list their "needs".  They whine.  I have always been of the mindset that children need to learn manners.  Interrupting people is poor manners.  Obviously, one should not neglect a true need of a child.  Good manners would dictate that you end your phone conversation and attend to those needs.  However, engaging in a secondary conversation with your child whilst on the phone with a friend is rather annoying.  This also applies to texting with people while trying to maintain a conversation with someone who is live, in front of you.  Yes, the occasional urgent situation may arise, but honestly, not that often unless you are a doctor.  Focus on the person who you are talking with on the phone or in person.  It is the kind, friendly, and polite thing to do.  
  2. Writing the way you talk.  I have been told my writing is very similar to how I speak.  This is good for writers, because it means their writing has a personal voice.  My beef is not with the writers' personal voice.  No, my beef is with people that try to write out words that only exist in spoken word.  Writing out your lazy speech patterns bothers me.  Why?  I am not absolutely sure, here are some possibilities. Maybe it bothers me because it highlights that the offending person has poor grammar and diction? Maybe it is just because it reveals ignorance?  Or, and this is probably it, it gives the sloppy speech credibility when it is written.  This occurs mostly in social media posts.  Yes, I am a big fan of social media, and I am sure if I distanced myself from my FaceBook and Twitter feeds it I would have less annoyance and frustration.  Here are the words that bother me the most: prolly, gonna, coulda, woulda, and shoulda.  The correct words are: probably, going to, could have, would have, and should have.  And "ain't" is not a word, I do not care that it made it to the dictionary.  It is shit, so do not use it! Mumble and mush your words all you want when you talk, but if you are posting it on social media use STANDARD ENGLISH.
  3. Leggings as pants.  Leggings are not pants.  Leggings are footless tights made of ever so slightly bulkier material.  Leggings are adorable under a dress, or a long tunic top worn with boots.  If you are rocking the legging with a regular waist or hip length shirt, you are missing the trend.  There are all kinds of reasons that leggings require a longer top (aka a tunic) or a dress.  Primarily, something called  "camel toe".  If you are not familiar with this term, please Google it, or see the Urban Dictionary.  It is not really flattering on anyone.  Leggings are not a standard replacement for regular pants.  Please spread the word.
  4. People who are going to use all the words listed in #2 to annoy me. It is my peeve when people use peeves against other people.  It is cheap.  My beloved has told me many of his pet peeves over the years.  The knowledge of these things makes it easy to know what will bother him.  If I were an evil soul, I could just drive the man nuts by constantly pushing his peeve buttons.  I do not because it is  too easy.  I would far prefer to find new and interesting ways to get under his skin.  This being said, I know that I have friends who are also readers who will use #2 against me.  Do your worst.  I have steeled my nerves already.
  5. Breaking News  Television stations use the term "BREAKING NEWS" rather loosely.  Yes, it is news that just happened, but no, not all of it deserves to interrupt the broadcast.  Example, most courtroom verdicts, especially those for scandal plagued former mayors,  do not deserve to break into regular viewing.  The whole term has been rendered meaningless by overuse.  Who really believes that something actually news worthy will be occurring when programming gets interrupted?  Not me.  I am genuinely surprised when it is something that is significant.
That does it for my Pet Peeve edition.  Thanks to my friend, who shall remain nameless, for her input.  I feel your pain, and I am with you.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Not Yet

Life moves pretty fast.  If you do not stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. -Ferris Bueller
Do you ever have that moment when you realize time has flown by?  Recently I have had two situations that have caused the startling realization that time just zips by...pow...that fast.  When I was young it seems like time crawled.  The school day stretched endlessly (not in a good way).  It seemed like I was always waiting for something to end, and something else to begin, and the wait was torturous.  Time seemed to creep backward, if that was possible.  In my youth I truly believed that time was my slow moving enemy keeping from my future.  I am on record stating that I WAS WRONG.  Time is still my enemy, but because it is moving so damn fast.  I want to hit pause I so many things now.  A hug with my kids or my beloved (pause...make it last).  The silly times with friends over lunch or cup of coffee (pause...savor the moment).  It is the little things that are so precious.

Yoda in November 2012
Recently I had to put down my cat, Yoda.  She was seventeen years old, she had kidney disease, she was deaf, her eyesight was poor, she had a heart murmur...she was very old for a cat.  In the human equivalent to her 17 cat years is 96 years old.  Logically, it was time.  She was in pain.  She needed to be carried to her litter box.  We had to coax her to eat, unless it was her treats...she begged for those until the very end.  No matter how many people tell me that 17 years is a long time to have the same cat, I still do not believe it in my heart.  Seventeen years flew by with Yoda.  She was our first pet.  She outlasted two dogs.  She helped raise two kids.  Yoda was at my side for every late night feeding with both kids.  My beloved would be fast asleep while Yoda and I tended to the baby.  Yoda would lay sleeping on my lap watching infomercials when insomnia was not going to let me sleep. (Cats seldom suffer from insomnia)  Seventeen years pretty much just flew by.  I have made a photo book of Yoda, and it has so many great memories.  I can see how time advanced through changing paint colors, furniture, fashion, hair cuts, hair colors, and of course the growth of my kids.  I am glad I have all the picture memories, but I still wish I had her actually here.  At any single moment, I am not sure that I would have said that time was moving too fast...but as I look back it clearly has been. 

The second event that has triggered the realization that time is flying is a high school open house.  My beautiful 13 year old daughter is currently living in the time-space continuum that I had in my youth.  Nothing can happen fast enough and the world is moving at a turtle's pace. (Ironically, the pet she wants to "replace" Yoda is a turtle)  Tonight we need to go to the high school she will be attending in the September for a tour and informational meeting.  We are approaching this from two very differing perspectives.  
Her perspective: This is awesome.  I can not wait!!!
My perspective: WTH? When did she get old enough to go to high school? How can I stop this crazy train?
Such is life, I suppose.  Perhaps my mother felt the same way, but because she is a reserved, classy lady she never let me see her sweat this kind of stuff.  I am more of a force of nature. ("Subtle, like a sledge hammer", my father has said about me, more than once)  I am not holding in my feelings. My daughter knows that I am full of angst over her growing up.  No one is trying to keep her a child.  We have conversations about the current issues that face teens and young adults (I am not a moron)  I just do not like how fast time has flown by.  Can't we pause and have just a wee bit more time?  I also realize I have been amazing blessed to be a stay at home mom for  my daughter for most of her life, and all of my son's life.  It seems rather Peter Pan-like for me to want to keep my kids at their present ages, but at this moment they are just right.  I suppose I would have said the same thing at every age (after they were potty trained...momma never loved the diapers)

The point is (as if I really care if I have a "point")...time flies, and sometimes that notion catches up with you and it sucks, and at the same time it is beautiful because you see some amazing growth.  Sometimes we really do not like that time keeps marching on, but it does.  We just have to remember to stop, look around, and enjoy the matter how fast they are moving.   

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Obsessed with Socks

My sister gave me a great pair of blue striped socks for my birthday.  You may be thinking, "Big deal. Socks."

Yes!  Big huge, super awesome deal.  These are the best socks ever.  I have waited outside the dryer for these socks because they are soft and warm, but not too warm.  They are wool, but not itchy.  These socks are perfect in boots, trainers, loafers...really every shoe I own except pumps.  Striped socks look exceptionally silly with pumps.  These socks make my feet smile.  After three weeks of waiting outside the dryer, and once double wearing the socks without washing (Yes, I did that. My daughter chastised me, and she was correct in doing so.  Message sent, message received, socks get washed after EVERY wearing), I finally went to the fancy outdoor store (REI) and found more pairs of these great socks.  Now I have four pair.  My favorite will always be the blue striped socks from my sister.  It is not easy finding socks when you have big feet.  So often the heel of the sock does not meet the heel of my actual foot causing an odd feeling, and causing the sock to slouch and bunch around the ankle.  Men's socks are larger, but larger all around and often bunch in shoes (very uncomfortable).  My sister knows the pain of finding good socks that do not cause annoyance.  We are both big footed ladies.  My daughter is following in our big footsteps and has learned to appreciate a fine fitting pair of socks.  There are tons of worse things than having big feet.  Stubby that it is a hideous thing.  I do not think I could wear open toed sandals if I had stubby toes.  When your feet are long, generally your toes are long, unless you had a run in with a lawn mower when you were wearing flip flops (In which case, I am sorry.  And I am sure your learned your lesson).

I am obsessed with socks.  It is okay.  Thus far I have been able to function as a semi-productive member of society.  Mostly, I am just grateful to have finally met a great pair of socks.  Thank you Betsy.  Very truly, my favorite birthday gift this year.  A gift that keeps giving warmth and joy.

Happy Wednesday.  Please stay warm and do not leave you kids or pets outside for extended periods of time.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Monday Funday: Presidential Edition

Today my kids have the day off school.  Thus it is a Monday Funday, by default...even if the most fun thing we did was eat Taco Bell for lunch, and get our eyebrows threaded (for the record 2 of us threaded, my son waited and rolled his eyes...his future wife will thank me for the training.)  I am glad the kids had a free day because I could make them watch the Presidential Inauguration   I watch the Inauguration no matter who is elected, whether I voted for them or not, I will watch them sworn into office.  It makes it official.  My kids need to know that we are truly fortunate to live in a nation that leaders are elected and placed into office in a peaceful ceremony.  Obviously, this year the same president and vice president were sworn in that already held the job, so seamlessness is somewhat insured.  However, even when a new person takes office it is a changing of the guard that is not full of tumult and drama for the nation.  It makes the United States rather special.  Yes, I am hardly objective in my view of my country.  I am very proud.  I also hold the leadership of our nation in high regard.  The President of the United States deserves our respect because he is the President.  Regardless of party affiliation or any particular stance on any issue.  The office deserves respect, and the person sitting in that office deserves respect for all he (and someday, she) sacrifices to lead our nation.  I would never want to be POTUS.  I said exactly this to my daughter this morning as we were preparing for the Inauguration ceremony.
(She had a worksheet she needed to complete as she watched the ceremony.  So, I really could force her to watch with me and listen to my ramblings about how beautiful the Capitol building looked and how much I love the monuments in Washington DC.  Thank you Ms. Hubacher for the Social Studies assignment, it gave me a captive audience.)
My daughter asked me why I would not want to be POTUS .
(She lives under the assumption that I would love to boss the free world around as much as enjoy bossing her around.  The free world would probably follow my authority more willingly than my 13 year old daughter.)
I told her reason number one is I like my privacy.  I do not want my life scrutinized, my outfits criticized, my words & gestures analyzed, and most of all, my family put out for public consumption and ridicule.  I am tough, but I am not that tough.  I am also a major league Mama Bear, and if someone criticized one of my kids or my beloved it would get  Being POTUS is no walk in the park.  It is not for the weak, scared, or timid.  The decision to put yourself into public office comes at such a huge personal cost.  I would not be willing to pay that price.  So I instill respecting our leaders. Strong leaders are needed.  I do not discourage public leadership as a goal for anyone.  If someday one of my children wants to be a public official, I will campaign my ass off for them.  I will write stump speeches, hang signs, make phone calls, shake hands, and not swear in public, just for my kid.  I will do whatever it takes to get them elected.  I will also admire how brave they are for giving up so much personal freedom and privacy for the greater good.  I could never do it, but I am amazing grateful to, and respectful of, all of those that do.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Five for Friday

Let me tell you about the embarrassment of riches that will become today's post.  All week I have writing down my random thoughts, beefs, and musings and now I have TEN things, but I must edit down to FIVE. Talk about First World Problems!  Yikes.  I hope I pick the right ones!
  1. This is my nemesis.  Yes, this scary LEGO scene, haunts me.  My son has a LEGO problem.  We enable his problem by buying him LEGO products for his birthday and Christmas.  We also let him use his allowance money to by LEGOs.  He is a brickmaster, and  his creations are really cool and creative.  He made me a LEGO mobile phone holder, which has cut down on my search time for my phone (Thanks kid).  However, the problem is we have a ton of little bricks and mini figures all over the house.  I can  not tell you how many times I have stepped on those tiny bricks with bare feet...OUCH.  I have bled from LEGO related trauma. This summer my son cut his hand with scissors when opening a box of LEGOs he received as a birthday gift.  The cut required 3 stitches, yes, the laceration was that deep.  Even after this injury, his passion for the bricks is still in full force.  I have a love /hate relationship with this toy.  It has given so much joy, and so much pain.  I have a feeling that I need to come to terms with LEGOs, find some peace with these hard little bricks. I will work on it.
  2. Off the diet soda.  Yes, I have given up my secondary source of caffeine.  Cold turkey.  Just decided I am not drinking soda anymore.  I am prone to capricious acts of foolishness.  It is in my DNA.  Pretty much everyday at 1 pm I have a diet soda.  Twelve days ago I decided to drink water instead, because it is healthy, hydrating, and contains no caffeine.  Here is how it is going...the first two days I thought my head was going split open.  The third day, I took a nap.  The fourth day, it became a vendetta.  I was refusing to return to my carbonated ways.  Once the vendetta stage starts I am usually pretty solid.  I have noticed that I also have less of an appetite in the afternoon.  That is a good thing. I will likely never give up coffee aka my primary source of caffeine (also the only reason I will get out bed).  Pretty sure the notion will never even cross my mind.
  3. Insomnia sucks.  I have long suffered from sleeplessness.  Also part of my DNA, I have family members that are also crappy sleepers. It pretty much blows.  I have noticed that I have been sleeping better since I gave up the afternoon diet soda.  Sadly, not a 100% solution.  The upside of insomnia is late night infomercials.  I am serious, there are some crazy products.  Even more, the people that are shilling these products are hilarious.  I do miss Billy Mays, he was the king of the infomercial   His loud and over the top style is often imitated, but can never be duplicated.  I know that watching screens is discouraged when you are an insomniac, but it is what we do.  Sometimes I read, but mostly I am trying to numb and slow down my brain so I can sleep, and the infomercial is perfect for slowing down the brain.  If you also suffer insomnia, I feel your pain.  I often wish there was some sort of insomniac "bat signal" people could put in the sky, so fellow sleep challenged could see it and then we could all meet up, chat, and pass the time until the rest of the world wakes up.  It makes no sense to call, or text a fellow sufferer, as they may actually having a great night's sleep.  It is a tricky situation.
  4. Running errands after working out. Practical? Or cruelty to those who must see, and perhaps smell you? Discuss.  I have been opting to run a few errands after my workouts this week.  Mostly because I was driving past places I needed to go on my drive home.  It has been difficult.  I not a huge fan of going out in public in yoga pants, but I really was exercising, so it is legit.  I do not feel great about it.  It is causing inner turmoil...maybe that is why I do not sleep so well???
  5. Downton Abbey.  If you are not watching Downton Abbey on PBS, you are missing a great drama.  The cast is beyond amazing, Dame Maggie Smith (aka Professor McGonagall, of Harry Potter fame), is the Dowager Countess.  It is worth watching just to hear Dame Maggie's one liners.  Downton Abbey is the story of an aristocratic family in the early 20th century.  It makes you realize how much times have changed in just a short 90-100 years.  The roles of women, how the classes interact, it is all a beautiful history lesson laid out for us on a lovely English country estate.  Give it a try.  The first season is on the streaming Netflix.  If you are already a fan, than you can understand why Sunday at 9 pm is pretty much my favorite television viewing time of the week.  
Have a great weekend.  I will keep adding to my list of crazy musings, and I will be back with you next week.