Monday, December 27, 2010

Que Sera, Sera

We all want to start anew on January one. Making resolutions for change. The problem is that life didn't get that memo. Change happens when we are waiting for January one to get here. Sometimes the change is good, sometimes bad but all the time new. New means different. Different is hard for me. I like the same and the boring. Anything that rocks the boat makes me extremely sea sick. The thing I am beginning to realize is that once the waters calm the unexpected change can equal something important.


It has taken me 39 years but I am beginning to catch on to a few key things. People are who they are. My job isn't to change them to be what I want them to be. Another thing that is hard to swallow is that things that happen just do... umm...well happen. We can't wish them away or pray them away. If they are going to happen they will no matter how we fight for them to not. As much as we want our resolutions to change the way our life goes most often they don't.


This year I won't make that list of things I want to change. I won't waste precious time trying to make things different. What I will do is focus on having a new year filled with positive thoughts and acceptance of the changes that happen. I will find peace in loving the people in my life for who they are without making them into something they are not. I will also try to love myself for who I am...quirks and all.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Inside the Snow Globe

When this time of year rolls around I can see the sparkle of excitement in my kid's eyes. Everything is special for them. The baking and decorating. The carols and secrets. They take it all in and embrace it with vigor. Our job as parents is to create and perpetuate these things in the form of tradition and magic. Even when we have to pretend.

This year I have been searching every where for that inspiration. I have looked in the bottom of the hot cocoa cup and under the sparkly ornaments. All I had been able to find until yesterday was stress and forced smiles. I was just going through the motions this year. Play acting the part of the holidays. As much as I wanted to let the swirling enthusiasm take hold and bring me to that place where snowmen talk and reindeer fly I just couldn't let it happen. I was too focused on what I usually get hung up on. Reality.

Then I heard some news that made me sad. News that instantly made me see that each moment is fleeting. News that made me sure that a lopsided tree or presents without bows don't matter. A girl I knew from High School lost her battle with cancer. She was never anything but good and sweet. She deserved nothing but a life full of love and happiness. Her three children and her husband deserved every holiday with her. Senseless tragedy and yet to me it was like a stinging slap in the face. All those unimportant things need to disappear. Finding the peace, joy and celebration with my friends and family is what is on my holiday plate. Giving what I can of myself whether that be through humor or compassion or simply gratitude for all that I have.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hearing the Cricket

Watching my kids I see the struggles I must have faced at their ages. Then I didn't know what it was but now i see it. That voice that starts out as a Jiminy Cricket whisper inside telling you right from wrong. The one that helps you realize the right thing to do. I remember the voice and how easy it was at first to ignore it and do what made me happy every time. But the voice got louder and I started to hear what it was saying loud and clear. Sometimes the choice isn't about our own feelings at all but about other people and how the choices I make effects them. That voice is like an internal moral compass. It helps us figure out right from wrong.

Things like walking and talking are based on instinct but conscience not so much. It is a learned behavior. We as parents have to set the standards for what is allowed and what is not allowed. We have to be aware that what we say and do is teaching our children whether or not to listen to that voice. We have to teach by example. We are the ones who must instill the morality that makes some behaviors not an option for our kids. All those things we see in the news day after day such as bullying, drug abuse, and violence are not necessarily because kids are bad but more because they have the inability to see right from wrong: no conscience.

That voice has always been a good friend to me. It has helped me to feel like a good person. It has helped me to know when to put others feelings before my own. The problem is it isn't always easy, especially when you are a kid, to see the bigger picture. Instant gratification is sometimes more important then doing what is right. Cheating to get a good grade or putting down a friend for a laugh seems like the only way to go to be liked. The most telling thing is tracing the kids who act with total disregard back to their parents. Then you find out exactly who is to blame.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Not Me! Monday


The Monday after a holiday weekend is rough. So rough, in fact, it is forcing me to bring back an old favorite: Not Me! Monday. Are you feeling silly that you couldn't remember your own phone number when asked by your child's teacher? Embarrassed by tearing up over a Christmas song by a bunch of Chipmunks?? Well don't be! Join in with this little outlet that helps me admit some of my many imperfections and makes me reveal a few moments I might rather forget. You might find it as therapeutic as I do!

I'll go first!

There is no possible way I went into a school conference with boxing gloves on (in a figurative sense of course..ahem...or at least hidden in my large purse) and a page of notes ready for a throw down only to be informed that my child is exceeding all expectations..NOT me! I certainly wasn't so shocked that I stared blankly at a form when asked to make sure the address and phone number were correct..no WAY.

I could never have bought my six year old a stuffed Rudolph because I thought he was soft and adorable and I certainly didn't hold him on my lap while I watched TV and I was NOT a little sad when she asked for him back..nope not me!

I did NOT get up at 5am on Thanksgiving to go shop for bargains and I could never have enjoyed every minute of it. NONE of my crazy friends went with me, they would never get up that early:)

After saying I would never ever go out on Black Friday I could never have decided at the last minute to give it a whirl. I certainly did NOT skip a run to shop and there is no way that I ate hot Krispy Kremes two at a time...nope NOT me!

When I saw there was an Everyone Loves Raymond marathon on I certainly did not giggle to myself and settle in for an evening of viewing pleasure blocking out all the laundry and dishes I had to do.

There is no way I crossed my arms and cussed a few times inside my head when someone threw down a 76 point word in our iPhone Scrabble match. I could never have waited hours before I could bring myself to make my move all the while contemplating forfeiting the game..that would have been childish and silly!

NOT ME!





Thursday, November 18, 2010

unTraditional

Every single year the holiday season seems to get here faster and faster. As a matter of fact everything seems to be traveling at warp speed these days. When I stop for a second and turn around and look I realize I don't have babies anymore. Which is probably good because I never completed baby books for any of them. If you know me at all you know I am not a baby book kind of gal. I can't be that organized. Pictures in chronological order with cute little sayings are beyond me. That doesn't mean I don't want to make memories with my children though. I like the kinds of memories you build year after year. The kind you start before they can talk and continue for so many years that they begin to preempt you by asking when they are going to happen. The kind of memories that create tradition.

To me tradition trumps tangible memories. But that is just me. I find no worth in framed elaborate family trees with the names of people I never knew on them or written recipes of great great great Aunt Sarah's pecan pie on the original smudged paper. On the other hand taking that recipe and using it with my kids year after year to shop for the ingredients and then bake the pie together is something that brings joy to my heart. Those are the kinds of things I hope to pass on to my kids. Those kinds of memories that live in the mind and soul. The kind that keep you going during your very first quarter at college until that long awaited holiday break. The ones that replace the sugar plums dancing in your head. The things that matter beyond wrapped gifts and glittery decorations.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Magic

Trends are usually things that don't actually conjure up emotions for me. Sometimes I follow them sometimes I don't but they certainly don't get under my skin and make me take a stance. Yesterday I read about a trend that infuriated me. One that I think messes with childhood magic and family tradition. The NO SANTA trend. Many people just starting their families are making a conscious effort to raise their children without the Santa Claus story. Without the traditions of the chimney and the reindeer and the stockings hung on the fireplace. They are choosing to tell their children Santa is a fake made-up story and the only real story is the one of Jesus. I take offense at this. I certainly would never tell someone who believes in the story in the bible about how Christmas came to be that it was a fake. I think the two are very different, very separate stories. One does not make the other smaller or less significant.

To me Santa is a gateway to all the things that are sweet and innocent about childhood. Letting your child believe in something that they can't make logical sense of fosters their imagination. I for one want my children to have faith in things that might be. I want them to feel the tradition that I felt as a kid. I want them to simply be children. To believe, sight unseen. It only lasts for such a short time and stripping Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy from them could be as detrimental as any other childhood trauma that causes them to lose their innocence. I don't remember the exact day I found out Santa wasn't real so it must not have caused too much pain. As a matter of fact there is a little piece of me that still believes in the fantastic magic of Santa because he encompasses the spirit of Christmas....and after all that is the spirit that parenting is all about.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Sweet Ride

Last time I got in my car I noticed the melted crayon on the console and the wrappers on the floor. I saw the rip in the back of the seat and the crumbs permanently ground into the carpet. The van that I fervently fought getting 8 years ago. The one I was sure I wasn't old enough to own. The one that blended into the family as easily a much wanted new puppy.

When I drove that car off the lot I promised myself I would hold it at arms length and not let it become a part of us. The van had other ideas. It became a second house. It came with us to preschool and play dates. It weathered vacations and vomit. It affectionately became the red mommy bus and the M van. It provided diversions of movies and music. It kept the kids far enough apart that spats were short lived yet close enough to be able to play games and read together.

The minute it was paid off I started to imagine myself driving something much hipper. I saw myself in something new and shiny without the sliding doors and wiggles music. I would think of myself driving my new wheels with the breeze in my hair and a smile on my face. The last time I caught a glimpse of the war torn insides I realized a few things. The grass is always greener. That van encompasses my girls' childhood that is quickly slipping away. It is a scrapbook on wheels. As much as I want to pretend I am done with my minivan days I think I might hold on to it for a year ...or maybe two.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Fantasy Ticket

The election brings out so many wolves in sheep's clothing. The candidates promise rainbows and butterflies. They assure everyone of their moral and ethical quality. They all make promises that are impossible to keep. They want to present an ideal that we can't say no to no matter how much of it is hogwash and bullshit. Finding someone in the world of politics that is honest and straightforward is nearly impossible at least on the winning side. Americans want it all. They want their cake and to eat it too... with extra icing even. We buy into what we see as the perfect scenario. The problem is there is no perfection. Everyone has faults and over estimations and mistakes. Politicians are people. They sleep and eat and poop just like everyone else. They have wives and husbands and children who miss curfew. They get speeding tickets and forget to mow their grass. Human.

No one person can fix the problems in our country and no one person can cause the problems. There is enough blame to be distributed evenly over all parties. The fantasy I have is that everyone stops throwing blame onto other people and begins to really listen and work together. We all want things to be better. We all want the troops home and the economy to recover. Shut up about why you are better then him. Play nice in the sand box and build an America we can all be proud of.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monsters in the Closet

When you are a little kid goblins and ghosts come readily in your sleep. They represent the childhood fears lurking everywhere. Separation anxiety and darkness conjure up all kinds of scary thoughts that manifest into monsters. Growing up and becoming more aware of fiction versus reality helps the monsters fade into the woodwork. Nightlights are turned off and monster spray is discarded.
But...
Growing up even more and becoming a parent brings back a lot of fear. At night the thoughts of bullying or disease wake you in the dark with a start. Tears of what if fill your eyes and catch in your throat. Monsters take a different form but are no less scary. What if my child doesn't have friends? What if my child can't learn to ride a bike or drive a car? Why is she squinting? Why is she sleepwalking? Being a parent is scary. Sometimes like a nightmare.
But...
Fear is necessary when you love someone the way you love your child. Worry is the nature of the monster. You want the best. You want complete happiness. You accept the fear for them so they can focus on the important things. The things that make childhood memories. Birthday parties and sleepover. Cookies after school and laughter in the dark.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Annoyance: The Fabric of My Life

I am just an average girl going through life trying to grin and bear all the every day irritations that pop up. Mostly I just bite my lip and tuck the annoyance away in a sound proof cell in my head. Sometimes though the file just gets too full and everything just pours out. That is the point where I can not continue to be nice (even if it is in a rude way). That is the point where I want to scream. Must relieve the pressure....these are some things that irritate the life out of me:



First grade math that is so hard I have to actually spend time thinking about it.

Salespeople who pounce like hungry lions...drool and all.

Girl drama...can't we all just get along?

Pink eye(s)

Business travel lasting more then three days especially when sick kids are involved.

Food critics who don't cook.

Cleanliness critics that have maids.

Facebook depression.

Political calls from the other side that refuse to take a polite no for an answer and continue to call back until overt rude becomes the only response.

Silly Bands. They clog the vacuum AND the garbage disposal.

Socks. Finding matching socks for three children and myself is surely going to drive me insane.

Mulch. On the floor. On the couch. In the sink. In my bed.

Closet Car Texters. Don't admonish me for texting at a red light or checking Facebook in the parking lot. YOU do it too....don't pretend.

Allergies. Sinus pressure. Snot. Itchy eyes. Yuck.


ANNOYING.



Monday, October 11, 2010

Cultivating the Fairy Garden


From the minute I could listen my dad told my sister and brother and I stories. We would sit on his lap and hear about the little people that lived in the backyard or about where Mr. Rogers went when he left his show to go home. As we got older we would get a chance to add to the story. The more outlandish the better. We would take turns adding details and giggling at the shape the story would take. We grew up with rules but there was always room for imagination. We were encouraged to express ourselves. I loved having a license to push the limits of reality. It made me grow into someone with lots of layers and the ability to draw humor from peculiar places. It made me more empathetic and more sympathetic. Imagination helps provide meaning to experience and understanding to knowledge. So much of what we experience in life begins with imaginary play. It is almost like a dress rehearsal.

When I had children of my own cultivating imagination was right up there on the list somewhere between learning to walk and potty training. What I didn't realize is that my kids came with built in unique fantastic imaginations all there own. I didn't need to inspire them to love to pretend or spin fabulous tales. They came to me with that ability.

The older I get the more I become embroiled in the rules and laws that govern everything we do. It seems easier to just stay on the well worn path that everyone seems to be content following. Then I see my girls playing in their fairy town in the backyard or dressing up as doctors or brides and I remember. I remember how important it is to pretend and create. How important it is to step into the shoes of someone else and experience something new. Sometimes it is important to bypass the cookie cutter behavior. Sometimes it is important to remember that rules in imagination are non existent.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Quirks are Cute.

Recently I was cornered by a couple of friends and pronounced weird for all my oddities. I prefer to think of it as quirky. It sounds so much cooler. I am choosing to take it as a compliment. I am not humdrum or ordinary or boring. Regardless of what you call it they are right. Absolutely. I am weird. But aren't we all? I mean each of us is like a snowflake. Different and beautiful with our own set of strange. I thought I would share a few of my best quirks. I bet I am not the only one.

* I freak out over having drop in guests. My house is just not a drop in house. I don't just have hors d'oeuvres ready to serve and fresh hand towels ready to hang.

* Public displays of affection are not my friend. I don't enjoy hugs or kisses. I don't like proclamations of love. Don't really like tears either.

* I hate surprises of all kinds. They make me want to scream. I like to know what is coming. Presents, parties, life in general.

*I can't stand fish. To eat or really to look at...they stink and taste gross. But weirdly enough I love the ocean...

*When I read books I skip words and even sentences. I get the gist of the story but sometimes I miss details. No wonder I read at warp speed.

* I love pretty, expensive jewelry. I have a ton of it. I never wear it.

* I sleep in the fetal position on my right side. Knees pulled up to chest. Can't stand sleeping with anyone touching me.

*I don't drink milk or look at it. Seeing someone else drink it makes me gag.

* I am musically challenged. I never really listen closely enough to hear the words. Instead I make up lyrics.

* I can't draw a straight line to save my life or cut one for that matter.

* I am way to literal for math.

* I name inanimate objects.


OK I shared. How about you? What makes you you?


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chatter From the Sidelines

Anyone who knows me knows that I am happy to sit back and watch. I would rather not participate. I like my comfy chair and my warm and safe place off to the side. I let others take the lead and I just watch and follow. I don't like to ruffle feathers. I am a people pleaser and people are usually more pleased when they are right. Lately though I have been thinking about standing up. I am thinking about leaving warm and comfortable for the unknown. The future depends on it. My child's future.

I am over the education system ignoring anyone who isn't making the grade. Anyone who might need extra support or specialized education. Throwing anyone who doesn't score above the national average on the tests under the bus. I don't think they know best. As a matter of fact I think educators need a crash course in individualizing education. Every kid deserves to be treated as an individual not a test score. Every single child. No pretending. No wool proverbially pulled over eyes. No empathetic nods and fictional stories to even the playing field. Nope. I can not be pushed back into my chair and given popcorn to shut me up.

If it sounds like my panties are in a bunch that is probably because they are. I am so tired of being told that this is just the way things are done. WHY is this the way they are done if they are not working?? Time is wasted, years are wasted. I vote for the schools every time. I support public education. I want to believe in our school systems and trust that they are able to follow through on their promises. At the moment I don't buy it. I have questions and I want them answered. I want to ruffle some feathers and I want to rock the boat.



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Humble Pizza Pie


I think about where I came from all the time. I seem to look over my shoulder more then I look ahead. Actually I think looking back helps me get a grip on the future. Somehow involving our past in our present seems imperative to remaining humble.


When I was a little kid I remember lots of things. I remember my flowered wallpaper and I remember my bicycle with the banana seat. I remember our old green VW bus and I remember the pizza. We used to save money by making homemade pizza with hot dog cut up on it instead of pepperoni. I loved that pizza. It reminds me of my Dad and Friday nights. To this day he will still make me that pizza on occasion. I am sure it isn't as wonderful tasting as conventional pizza but it is wonderful none the less. Even more importantly it is something that helps me remember that memories and love don't come from money and pepperoni.

No matter what ladder I am climbing or how far away I go I won't forget those days. They shaped me and prepared me to make the choices I make every day. Choices for myself and decisions about raising my own children. I want them to have the same anchor of humility. To remember the ones that matter and not the things. I need them to remember that sometimes we have to go more then half way to meet the needs and wants of others.

Lately I notice so many people are forgetting where they came from. Forgetting the people that were there when...that made those memories and supported their dreams. It is like they are standing on a podium looking out over their adoring fans but can only see blank faces...one the same as the next. They are unable to see the real important people in the crowd. Family and friends that remember when.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Popularity is Not Something You Do in Your Spare Time

Its funny how things stay the same year after year in the world of popularity. I noticed it last year when my oldest was in 5th grade and even more this year with the whole middle school crowd. It is so easy to see the girls that are the self appointed heads of the "social committee". The girls who put themselves in the spotlight and want to not only be seen but also followed by all. The ones that are the first to date an older guy and the first to taste a beer and the first to tell everyone about it. The girls that can make you feel like you belong in the corner red faced and blubbering because you aren't them. Being popular is like treading water, to get to the top you have to push everyone else down. Who is teaching these kids to be such proficient swimmers?? Their parents of course....
Don't get me wrong being popular isn't an easy job. It is all consuming to have to put forth that kind of effort. Those years of middle and high school are topsy turvy and almost an out of body experience. and not just for the kids feeling ostracized....like any war, it's damaging even to the winners. Sometimes though what might seem like the winner ends up being the one that falls flat on their face. Being all that to that many people can't last forever. Most times these kids peak in high school and hit a slippery slope down with nothing to look forward too. They have already experienced so many things on fast forward that when real life hits they are bored. They figure out that the friends they thought they had latched on to them to climb the social ladder. They realize that the boy that they thought loved them for forever just used them as a trophy. After graduation all bets are off.
Yet as I look at the parent's of the kids that I would consider the popular ones I see that the circle continues. The parents are what their kids will be in 35 years. Still high and mighty but now maybe a little sad.
AND yes (before someone points this out) a close runner up for the title of this post is: Yep I Am Bitter


Friday, September 10, 2010

Her Life...With a Twist of Me


Sometimes things happen like in a movie. The scene when the key fits in a lock and the meaning is revealed. One of those moments that your whole life has been leading up to. The important place in the story where everything finally makes sense. Those moments are brilliant and scarce.

My moment came out of nowhere but certainly changed my opinion of myself. My middle daughter began having difficulty in school last year and was eventually (after lots of red tape and hours of begging) diagnosed with a processing disorder called Dyslexia. My first response was to immerse myself into any and all information I could find. Initially what I was finding was scary and hard to swallow but as I continued to dig deeper and find more detail I began to realize something. The characteristics within all of the articles accurately described my child. All of those things that had led me to use words like unique or eccentric in conjunction with her where in bold print right in front of me. All those things that make up her beautiful personality. That make her her.

Then I began to realize something even more amazing. Some of my own quirks that I had always tried to hide or suppress over the years seemed to fit too. People always thought I was stand offish when in reality I was just busy trying to navigate my road less traveled. I could never follow the worn path to reach the answers, instead I would wind around the forest for hours and eventually get to the correct end. Academics were hard but socializing was harder. I could never just look at the surface when I met new people. I couldn't focus on the niceties. I wanted to know the story and the details behind the smiles and designer jeans. Fake was not who I was or who I am. I see things in a different way. It is hard to be different especially when you are a kid but I like it now. It gives me a perspective that no one else has but that everyone can relate too.

Someday I hope that Olivia likes it too. She will learn to navigate the choppy waves and rise above the murky water and see everything with a new sort of clarity.... with a little twist.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Me, Myself, and I


I have been thinking a lot about trust lately. How we absently put our trust into people even without them earning it. Those in authority positions just get the trust. Teachers and doctors and lawyers. We want them to have the answers and be in charge. We go to them for what we don't know and want them to spit out a solution. We have faith that they know. We are taught to trust them. We want to trust them. For all my life I have. I am beginning to feel like I should question that authority. I want be able to expose my vulnerabilities with the unspoken security that they won't be taken advantage of. At this point it seems like instead of feeling trust and reliance I am feeling a sense of being blindly led. Almost like the pied piper. The fog is starting to clear though. I can disagree. I can find my own answers. Questioning my trust in authority is actually about being able to find trust in myself. I like that. I need that. Before I can find trust in other people I have to find self confidence in myself.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Gotta Take the Good with the Bad and Smile with the Sad


It is so easy as a parent to look at our kids and marvel in all the things we see that are beautiful. All the things that we helped to create. We see the dimple from Uncle Bob and the blue eyes from Grandma. We embrace the giggle we hear that echos our own and fall in love all over again when we see the smallest expression that resembles their Daddy's. Seeing all that is good fills you with a warm liquid sunshiny feeling from head to toes. It is beautiful and wonderful and entirely engulfing. The connection created between two people is a living breathing person all on their own.

The hard part comes when you realize you must also deal with those things that might not be so beautiful. Through tears we see our kids face things that they shouldn't have to. Things that we blame ourselves for and question ourselves about. Glitches that seemingly appear out of no where. Crooked teeth or allergies. Illnesses or difficulties in school. Obscure personality traits that can be traced straight back to ourselves. Was there something that we did to cause these things or something we could have done to prevent them? Those questions replay in our minds over and over and there is never a real answer. Simply the empty feeling of if only.

The fact is there is no magic petri dish we can spin around and separate the good of us from the bad when having a child. We are who we are, both the best things and the worst. In the end those things fade into each other and everything blends together into one unique individual. There is no strength without weakness just as there is no happiness without sadness.



Friday, August 20, 2010

I Got You Babe


Sixteen years. That's a really long time. Long enough to realize when you have a good thing. To be able to ignore the snoring and the cold feet and embrace the secret looks and the private jokes. I look at our three children and see all the good things we see in each other. They represent why we fell in love in the first place and how we got so far still feeling that love. Even more then love I think respect and friendship are what seal the deal for us. We are a whole package and that is rare in the relationship world. When we are together I feel like the puzzle is complete but when we are apart I am lost. Sometimes I sit and wonder where I would be if our paths had never crossed. Probably still searching and hoping. Wondering what true love really felt like.The one thing I know for sure is that when we got married and the minister said husband and wife..I knew that would be what we would be forever. No question.
By the way sweetiepie this is your Anniversary card you know I don't like to waste money buying those pre-written kind :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Holiday Road

My husband and I have been taking vacations together for so long we have almost looped the long road of travels. Chris took his first ever family vacation with my family when we were dating in high school. He traveled to South Carolina with us in the back of a sedan. Me, my sister, and my parents all shoved together in a hot car for 12 hours. He embraced all the things that come with a family vacation. Both the bad and the good. The memories all started there and the minute we had our first child he vowed to make those memories last forever. What started out as he and I first married and spending the long rides talking about what we would name our first child turned into calming a crying baby in the back with a pacifier or a bottle. Holding hands over the stick shift singing love songs turned into reciting the wiggles music while making faces in the mirror. Our small car swiftly turned into a station wagon then a mini van. We traveled through diapers and play pens. We survived bottles and naps. Some years I needed a vacation from my vacation and other years I never wanted to come home.
The kids are older this year but the challenges are still there. The whining and fighting is almost as bad as them crying as babies. The hotel rooms seem to be getting smaller and the food costs higher. Chris still tries to attempt stops at Griswald type attractions but it is getting harder and harder to talk the girls into it. They will do it just for their dad but not without lots of eye rolls and complaints. I know that soon nothing will seem to be worthwhile without friends and then boyfriends. I am totally aware that we may have to force our fun on them. I remember when my parents did that to me. I hated some of it then but I love that they did it now. The vacation memories are integral to my childhood. The baby oil sunburns and the miniature golf are a part of me. Forever.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Be Prepared.


I remember that August day 22 years ago. It was sunny and humid but there was a slight breeze that made it bearable. The moment I walked up the hill at the rose garden my attention turned to all the American flags lining the small stage. I knew that those flags were there to represent the importance of what was going to happen there that day. Chris was becoming an Eagle Scout. He was receiving the highest rank obtainable in the Boy Scouts. His whole family was there and all of his friends. The clergy that eventually married us was there. He was wearing his freshly ironed uniform that was filled with merit badges and medals. The head Scoutmaster was the one who presented the sought after award. He talked a ton about who is worthy of becoming an Eagle. Only those that demonstrate the Scout Spirit by following the Boy Scout Oath. Then he read the oath. Most of it was just a bunch of jumbled words to me but the line being morally straight made me stifle a something between a gasp and a laugh. At that moment I was sure everyone was looking at me and could see what had happened only 12 hours earlier that would have earned a very important life merit badge.
The night before started out like most others in our young romance. We took a walk hand in hand and talked for hours naming our kids and discussing our white picket fence. We had already proclaimed our love through promise rings and endless kisses. There was no pressure but everything just seemed right for us to take the next step in our relationship. We had read that was what happened next. We had been told by friends it was time. We were prepared. One locked door and some awkward fumbling later it was in the books and we moved on to the next page.
The funniest part is that the details have all faded and neither of us remembers most of it. All I really know is that I am glad it was him. I do remember seeing everyone shake his hand after the ceremony and blushing bright hot red because it just seemed so ironic that people were congratulating him.
I have been married 16 years and have 3 children and I still get embarrassed when I see a boyscout in uniform....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

True or False?

True or False?

I have never gotten a traffic ticket.

True or False?

I met one of my closest friends on a Mom's site online and she lives 100's of miles away.

True or False?

I have never broken a bone.

True or False?

I hate having pedicures because I don't like people touching my feet. I have never had a massage for the same reason.

True or False?

I met my husband when I was 15. My parents met when they were 15 as well.

True or False?

I could never teach again.

True or False?

I loved college but hated school with a passion before that.

True or False?

I am tone deaf and had to lip sync during choir in high school.

True or False?

I would love to have a fourth child if I knew for sure it would be a boy.

True or False?

I learned to drive on a stick shift and actually prefer them over automatics.

True or False?

I desperately want a tattoo.

True or False?

I enjoy being a kept woman. I have no desire to wear the pants in the family.

True or False?

I have never mowed the lawn.

True or False?

I wore my mom's wedding dress when I got married.

True or False?

I never had more then a few sips of wine before I hit my late 20's.

True or False?

I hate movies, concerts and traveling.

True or False?

I love ice cream, flea markets and running.

True or False?

I have had a cup of hot tea every morning since I started high school.

True or False?

I am obsessed with true crime, home improvement shows and my iPhone.

True or False?

I once tried on all the shoes of the wealthy woman I nannied for and used all of her expensive self tanner.

True or False?

I still have a shirt tucked away that was my grandma's as a memory.

True or False?

I have to sleep in a king sized bed all the way over on the edge with no one touching me.

True or False?

I believe in fate, karma and true love.

True.
Everything on this list.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Greeting Cards Do Not Equal Love.

I have never been a greeting card person. I don't see cards at the store and think of someone and and I certainly don't buy cards and send them for every occasion. To me cards are brightly colored paper with someone elses words written on them. I can easily write a whole page of my own words to express my thoughts and feelings for special people and sometimes I do. Chris and I have even made a private joke of my distaste for cards. He buys me cards and purposely doesn't sign them. I do the same for him. We keep them in a giant box and, on occasion, reuse them for other people.

My in-laws are definately greeting card people. They religiously send cards for birthdays complete with the date and signature. Most of the time they get the right general time of their only three grandchildren's birthdays. Most of the time they put the right name on the front of the envelope. You might say what is so noteworthy of a grandparent sending a card? Well it wouldn't be and really it shouldn't be but unfortunately it is. It is so noteworthy because the card is basically it. There are no phone call's on the special day. No visit complete with a hug and a present. Nothing. Just a card within a few days of their birthday's. They live close. By close I mean 15 minutes away. My husband is an only child. There are no excuses.

Sometimes a situation plays out over so many years that the emotions that were so clear and extreme have faded into an expected numbness. They manage to see the kids 3 or 4 times a year. Mostly over the holidays mixed with other relatives and lots of fanfare filled with gifts and celebration. Never time for a conversation to find out the kids interests or personalities. Never a moment to realize the girls are growing up and have become such individuals. Never any desire for that. In the beginning I made an effort but it was so one sided that I eventually gave up. There is simply no way to force someone to be involved in your children's life. Honestly why should you have too anyway? Someday soon when they blink and realize that the girls are learning to drive and graduating from high school and even getting married they might realize what they have missed overthe years. I doubt they will though. I think they will just buy an ever so appropriate greeting card and send it on it's way.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Deciding to Care

When I graduated from college and made the choice to take a teaching job 45 minutes away in a small community I got a lot of raised eyebrows. Why was I choosing to drive so far to work in a podunk town where nepotism and farms were the cornerstone? Why did I decide to accept a job in a falling down school building making a minor pittance compared to what I could have made in some other districts? People just didn't get it. Surprisingly the decision was not hard at all. The minute I stepped foot in the school and talked to the warm empathetic principal I made my choice. He knew all the kids who would be in my class and their parents personally. As a matter of fact the week after I accepted the job we actually drove to each house in his pick up truck and visited the students so that they would feel more at ease with a new teacher. On the ride to each house the principal described each child's strengths and their weaknesses. He really cared.

There were never enough supplies and I often had to scour garage sales to cover my lessons. I had a student that lived in a one room apartment with his mom and 4 brothers (yes ONE room). Some of the kids would come to school in the morning with their stomach's growling because they hadn't eaten since lunch the day before. One boy refused to walk and we finally figured out why. It was because he was wearing shoes that were two sizes too small because those were all he had. As difficult as it was to teach in sub par conditions and see some of the hardships I saw I would do it all again. It has made me a better person. A better mother. A better friend. I know that I made a difference in the kid's education and even more importantly their lives. I cared.

When I look at the schools today I see less and less of the caring mentality and more and more of the only thing that matters is test score mentality. Don't get me wrong I want my children to learn and get good grades but I also want them to feel the warmth that goes along with that. When a child is at school they are more then just a name on a roster. They have hobbies and siblings and in some cases scary things affecting their lives and learning. They are kids and can't block out tears and laughter to focus on reading and arithmetic. It is a mistake to phase out sympathy and empathy from the classroom. Turning hugs into high fives might not be the way to go. Unless of course we want to create a bunch of cold hearted Harvard grads. Personally I would rather see community college bound good, empathetic people instead.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Not ME Monday!

Mckmama- Not Me Monday




Join along with me and Mckmama at My Charming Kids in admitting some imperfections and revealing some moments that you would rather forget. Come on you know you want too! It is super therapeutic and sometimes pretty funny! Enjoy!

I could never have gotten a tad bit giddy when I noticed the school supplies going back on the shelves at Target...no way!

I certainly did NOT wear my new running shorts backwards during a 7 mile run and there is no way that I laughed for a full 5 minutes when I realized it later.

My husband did not leave for an entire week in glorious Europe while I sat at home with three bored fighting kids..that would have been unfair and unjust.

I could never have challenged myself to avoid the grocery store at all costs this week just to see what I could make out of the stuff I had in the freezer and pantry NOR did my children say that they might die if I didn't buy snacks and treats for a whole week (( and I really DID make it the whole week)).

My oldest baby could not be turning 12 on Wednesday. Absolutely NOT. That would make me way too old. SO old that I DID not climb on a bike and ride around for the first time in YEARS.

I didn't resort to using slushies to bribe the kids on more then one occasion this week and I certainly didn't sit in the car playing on Facebook while they went into Speedway to get them...nope NOT me!

I could not have started researching going back to school to become a child psychologist just to get some inside tricks on how to deal with the idiosyncrasies of my own children..that would have been overkill...well probably...maybe

I definitely didn't avoid using the word definitely in this post because I misspell it every time I write it...nope definitely NOT!



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Twenty Years of Perspective Makes You Brave


Twenty years ago I remember being someone else. I was a kid then with everything before me. I was quiet and reserved with a stifled sense of humor (that was only funny in my own head). I thought that might just be who I was destined to be forever. Now, years later, I have certainly become someone that didn't exist then. The best part is that everyone in high school has become someone else too. The playing field was totally leveled the minute we moved that tassel. No more class clowns or prom queens. No more varsity cheerleaders or star quarterbacks. Those four years became a memory that actually had no impact on who we all are now.
Yet when I think about attending my reunion in a few weeks I still have trepidations about being around people who knew me back then. With the flashes of memories from all those years ago comes the flooding feelings of insignificance. People who put me in a category just like I did to them. I don't want to climb back into my wallflower anymore than I want to dig out my acid wash jeans. I hope that those labels that we all had will be as faded as those of a well washed pair of twenty year old jeans. We should all be able to come together with an open mind. To see how far we have all traveled in the work in progress that is our lives. Wrinkles and extra pounds are certainly not choosy and everyone has succumbed to them. The stories that once centered around school pranks and football games will turn to jobs and children now. The skirts will be longer or at least they should be) and the hair grayer. Twenty years can do a lot to alter a pimply brace face. What people see inside is what I care about now though. I want to shine through as the person who I have become or maybe who I always was deep below the insecurity and teen angst. Lets face it, some people that were once immature, self-centered teenagers might have grown into much improved grownups. I know I have.
What I want to gain from attending the reunion is the ability to sneak a boy back into my house just like I tried to to back then. This time I actually don't think it will be an issue....I think I will bring boys and girls alike home with me. This time in the form of a memory.