Thank you for dropping by!

I truly appreciate that you've decided to share part of your day in my world. I hope your time has been well spent and I've made you smile, laugh or think.





Sunday, July 31, 2011

9 Things You Shouldn't Say to Your Children

Parenting.com just posted a very insightful article on 9 things I should never say to my kids.  Sadly, I have said every single one.

So here is my take and personal experiences with these 9 deadly phrases (and to the author's credit, it was a very nicely done article and I am solely attacking it for comedic purposes).


'Leave me alone!'
I have said these words in some fashion.  It usually involves a few scenarios, typically involving the bathroom.

We have a separate toilet area, a water closet if you will.  I find myself often wedging my foot against the door while using this area to prevent surprise attacks.

Yes, that's right.  Sometimes I like to take a dump without an audience.  My children see this as a prime opportunity, since I am trapped, to have discussions.  I do not share this perception with them.

I have also used similar phrases when I'm getting out of the shower.  We do not have a separate door on our main bathroom area, so unless I lock down the bedroom (which one time resulted in my son getting a ladder to get the key off the high shelf to make sure I was okay-- no joke), I frequently have an audience when I step out naked from the shower.  I don't even like to see myself naked.  My children should not be tortured with this either.  It brings up too many questions.



'You're so...'
Dramatic.  Zoe is dramatic.  It gets old.  It gets really, really old.  She also is very, very funny.  And very, very smart.  We also say nice things. I  think it outweighs the bad stuff.

'Don't cry'
I'm sorry, if your free lollipop is cherry and not orange, suck it up.  Literally.

If your leg is broken, your feelings hurt, sob like there's no tomorrow.

My daughter enjoys crying.  It is part of her dramatic personality.  We have a rule, no crying at the table.  She often will excuse herself to go "cry it out" in the living room and returns when she is done.  To quote her: "Sometimes it just feels good to cry."  True, however, it does not feel good for the rest of us to listen to or watch.  Especially if it's not any thing important.  Like your food touching.  Or that carrots are orange.

Again, I will hold your hand and wipe your tears for big issues, but if you're doing it for attention, good luck.

'Why can't you be more like your sister?'
My children are nothing alike except for both being smart.  Even with that, they are very smart in different ways.  My daughter is a phenomenal artist.  My son is amazingly analytical.

Therefore, this phrase works out really well.  Skip can sulk and tries to be cool.  His sister is one, passionate little burst of energy.  Sometimes we need him to drop the sullen, cool kid attitude and jump in like his little sister.  Sometimes Zoe, Miss Academy Award Future Winner, needs to take it down a notch.

If I can't create a sense of sibling rivalry to benefit me, what was the point in having more than one child?


'You know better than that!'
You do.  You knew that if you dropped your toy out the window it was gone forever.

You know that sticking your hand in the door jam was not a good idea.

You know that you need to do your homework.

You know it because I've told you 20 times.

'Stop or I'll give you something to cry about!'
Okay, I will say that I have said this. It is usually in a joking manner.

If I'm not joking, it's not because I'm going to go postal on them, it's because they are going to lose something.  You are mad that the dog ate the crayons you left out?  Keep up the whining and I'll take them ALL away.

I am mad.  Now go away and be like your brother.

'Wait till daddy gets home!'
My husband's fuse is shorter.  He is 6'5".  Need I say more?

'Hurry up!'
I do think that if we are running late 90% of the time it's my fault for not starting earlier.  We did go through a phase where we could not get out of the house prior to 8:30 am no matter what time we started.

I found that just getting in the car, turning it on and backing out worked much better than yelling "Hurry up!" but honestly, the words have slipped because well, they need to hurry up.

'Great job!" or "Good girl!'
Huh?  I think this was meant to discourage overzealous praise.  Every day I tell my kids they are fabulous and I'm happy to be their mom.  They may be overindulged and overconfident and I don't care.  They ARE fabulous and I'm happy to be their mom.  Some days more than others, but honestly, if my biggest mistake is telling them they are great, oh well.  I don't tell them this when they are putting their clothes in the hamper or dishes in the sink- they are supposed to do that.  Every A, even though it's expected, is appreciated.

So clearly, I will not win Mother of the Year based on this article.  I'm good with that.  If I can get it right at least half the time, I'm exceeding my own very low expectations of my mothering.

And if you have a problem with that, well just wait until my husband gets home.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Being political

I always get frustrated when people say "I'm not into politics.  I don't really care about that stuff."

That stuff.


THAT STUFF?

That stuff determines if you sleep soundly at night.  It determines your children's education.  It determines so much.

That stuff is what separates us from dictatorships and mass genocides.

How on earth can you NOT care?

And if you haven't been paying attention and are more concerned with Casey Anthony or Lindsay Lohan, let me tell you something....

it has all gone horribly wrong.

Horribly wrong.

Right now, in Washington, a very vocal and well funded minority are coercing our government into trying to amend our constitution.   Amending the constitution is serious stuff.  It's not something you bully people into with a threat of economic collapse.

I absolutely think Washington needs to cut out ridiculous spending.  I think Social Security has gotten completely out of hand from what it was ever designed to be.  I question the last 10 years of deficit spending.  Both elder Bush and Clinton managed to run the country without ANY deficit spending- no joke.  The days of multimillion dollar toilet seats and bridges to nowhere need to stop.

But people, that is NOT what is going on.  The delay in Washington has nothing to do with any of that.

Yes, they are trying to "dumb it down" to that vocal minority making it sound like that's what they're doing.

They're not.

They are playing politics with the global economy.  With your future.

They are trying to get re-elected. Nothing more.  Your best interests are not their best interests.  

If you are not pissed off, get pissed off.

Get very, very pissed off.

People have given their lives for your right to be pissed off.

And if you don't understand the complexities of what's going, go to a non-partisan resource and learn more.  Fox News, MSNBC, The Heritage Foundation, Moveon.org are not non-partisan.  Read about what the debt ceiling is (and how it has nothing to do with current budgets).  Learn how social security is funded (to quote a high school junior when I recently explained "That's stupid- that will never work").  Read about who really pays the taxes.  Check out your representatives voting records.  You will be stunned at what you can learn.

Get involved.  Turn off E News and watch C-SPAN.

For the sake of our country, please.

Please get pissed off.

The time has come.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Daughter, the Warrior

My daughter Zoe broke her leg on Day 2 of our vacation.  She wasn't even doing anything crazy, which is her normal nature.

The first 36 hours were awful.  It hurt.  She couldn't get a permanent cast until the next morning.  Then we had to drive while it was "setting."  Casts get hot and uncomfortable as they set.  We were far from home.  We couldn't stop when she had to pee- we were in eastern South Dakota- not a lot of stops.  I'm not supposed to be lifting since my surgery, so I was struggling to carry her.  We couldn't get a wheelchair until we got to a more permanent location, so my husband had to carry her everywhere.

It was not great.

She was sad that her vacation was ruined:  "I want to be normal again, " she cried.  The cast is a full leg and really, really heavy for her to move.  The cabin is three level of stairs.

But you know what? Six days later and she is having a great time.

She loves her wheelchair.  She has already learned some cast moves.  She calls most of them Cheerleader Poses.  When she stands, she puts her cast in the air and says "Cheerleader leg."  She also does a Cheerleader Scoot and a Cheerleader Sit.

She has been getting a lot of attention which is okay in her book.  She can even boss her brother around more than usual.

When she yelled "I GET TO DECIDE EVERYTHING BECAUSE I BROKE MY LEG" we did put the hammer down... a little.

Yesterday she even started to throw things and said "I can't get them.  I broke my leg, you know."  We ended the Parents Play Fetch game as well.

But overall, her disposition has been spectacular.  She's joking around.  She's adapting.  She seems completely content.

In fact, the only one with a stick up the butt is me-- and I'm usually the cheery one.  I think it's because I am worrying forward- what happens when we turn in the wheelchair and have 3 days of driving and sightseeing?  How's she going to feel starting kindergarten with a cast?  It's starting to itch... oh crap.

I need to take the lead from my daughter.

She likes to be carried.  She likes that her brother in being nice to her.  Overall, it hasn't been too bad of a gig.

Aside from the broken leg, of course.

Life is what you make of it.  It's just a broken leg.  It will heal.  All will be well.


In the big scheme of things, this is nothing. Not even a little bump in the road.

She's off fishing now with her dad and brother.

I'm signing off to go join them....

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Why I am Never Going on Vacation Again

I love my family.

I love spending time with my family.

I love to travel.

I will, however, never take another vacation again.

Now unlike many people, I live in a cool, fun place.  Millions of people come to MY city to vacation.

I am going to join them.

You see,  this time, on our road trip from Nevada to Minnesota and back, on Day 2, my daughter Zoe broke her leg.  She did nothing insane.  She simply jumped from a platform that might have been slightly higher than it should have been, with shoes on that maybe weren't the best to jump in, and she now has a full leg cast.

GREAT.

We had another 600 miles to go and that's not counting the 1700 miles we have to get back home.

It sucks.

And yes, of course, it sucks much more for her.  I know this.  She was in excruciating pain.  She is still in some pain.  She has to deal with the giant cast that is now her right leg.  It sucks for her.

And another vacation bites the dust.

Three years ago, Zoe ran down the beautiful grassy cliff by the Great Lakes Science Museum.  Gorgeous day.  Face planted right on the ONE manhole cover in a 2-3 acre field.  You could actually read "City of Cleveland" on her forehead.  It crushed the cellulose layer and she has a permanent half moon shape on her forehead when she scrunches her nose.  We didn't know if it was a concussion. 

Two years ago, my son Skip got a bizarre eye infection which was treated by a supposedly great opthamologist who didn't realize the drug had the opposite effect on kids.  So his eyes were swollen shut.  Then the tornado/high winds whipped by our hotel.  As my son's fever rose, we were trapped in the hotel rooms, I looked at Shane and said "Let's go home."  We ended up hanging out at home and had a much better time.  It should have been a sign.

Last year, I got sick on the last day and spent the next 5 days recovering from my "vacation."
And this doesn't count the amount of vomit I've cleaned out of the car from various road trips over the years.

Something always happens.

But here's the thing... if it happens at home I do not have to pay out of network co-pays.  I don't have to pay to sit in a hotel room with a sick child.  I don't have to pay a dogsitter.  We can do all the fun things that we want without the headache or expense.

We are saving to put in a pool next year.  If we have a pool, I see no reason to EVER leave my home for entertainment.  EVER.

My family thinks I'm kidding.  I'm not.

Momming on the road stinks.

Next year, we will swim all day, play cards and board games at night and I will make pancakes in fun shapes for breakfast.  We'll cook out or get dressed up and go some place nice on the strip.  Maybe even see a show. Maybe we can even dress in costumes and pretend we're in a foreign country.  Shane will LOVE that.

Honestly, we have a pretty fun life on a regular day- I don't think I need a vacation to spice things up or make them more fun.

So there, vacation gods, you win.

I am done.

But rats... I still have 6 states to go....and South Dakota was really lovely.... aside from the broken leg... maybe a cruise would be better...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Curly Hair

I have naturally curly hair.

I always have.

I was born this way.

I think my personality and temperament have been formed based on this fact.

How?

Well, from an early age I learned that I cannot control the universe as I cannot control my hair.

Unlike many of my curly haired counterparts, I like my curly hair.  I look absolutely ridiculous with straight hair.  I have a long face and a long nose.  Straight hair seems to emphasize this.  For those of you that remember the photo from my "makeover" for my 40th birthday- I looked like the daughter from "The Incredibles"- it's not a good look.  My hair is coarse and heavy and when I straighten it, it doesn't move and doesn't look shiny.
My hair would not move and I could not see out of my left eye. No joke.

During the monsoon season, as my friends fight their hair, I am happy.  My hair springs into shape and looks just like it has every other day of my life.

Curly.

In fact, my only complaint about having curly hair is the unsolicited advice I get from people- friends and strangers- on what to do with it.  Seriously.  It's almost as bad as people touching my belly when I was pregnant.

I like my hair.

I like that it does whatever it wants, whenever it wants.

I like that I don't waste hours (and cumulatively days and months) on styling my hair. 

I like that I have three hairstyles- up, down and short.  It saves me time contemplating and more time to focus on more important things.  Like which shade of lipstick to wear.

I like that when I get out of a pool, I look pretty much the same as when I went in.

I like it.  Just like I like me.

I was a junior in high school when I completely gave up trying to fight my hair.  Growing up in a fairly WASP-y area, there were only a handful of us that had curly hair in my graduating class.  I definitely got teased about it- even had the nickname Pube for awhile in band (fortunately, I shot that one down pretty quickly with some smart ass comment)- but by the time I was 17 I figured, screw it.

This is also about the time that 2 things happened for curly haired women-

Ain't no stopping me or my hair.
Hair mousse and Hope on "Days of Our Lives" with her curly, flowing hair.

Suddenly, I didn't look like a frizzy haired freak.

I will always remember my friend Steph's mom coming up to me after a band concert and giving me a big hug.  She got a kick out of watching my bobbed, curly hair bounce up and down while I played my trombone (the rest of the girls in the band all had long, french braided hair and played nice woodwind instruments).  She told me to never change.  I haven't.

I let my hair grow long in college because I couldn't afford hair cuts and suddenly I became known for my gorgeous, long locks.  I had some friends with similar hair (college was a bit more diverse than my high school!) and we would sit together and were known as The Wall of Hair.  It was the first thing men noticed.  It was a great accessory in my 20's.  I didn't get any more Pube jokes, either.  Oh, and Julia Roberts, Andi McDowell, Julia Louis-Dreyfus all helped with mainstreaming big, curly hair. 
It was a very humid day for the college senior pictures.

And now, as a mom, with a short cut, I just toss it a bit, and I'm good to go.  I don't worry about windy days- it always looks the same.  I don't worry about humid days- it doesn't matter.  It's a curly mop atop my head.

I've learned a lot from my curly hair.  I've learned patience.  I've learned that it's always better to go with what's true to you and not what everyone else thinks.  I've learned that it's more important to embrace what's good about yourself rather than focus on the bad. I've learned that it's best to be me.

So if you see me and have the urge to offer me advice on straightening my hair- don't.  I like it just the way it is. 

No, wait, I love it.

You can keep your irons, your chemicals, your glazes, your constant fear of the slightest bit of moisture.

As for me, I will keep my big, crazy, unmanageable, uncontrollable, unkempt curly locks. 

Consider it my rebellion.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Our New Panini Press

Yes, after my last post about having stuff, I now own a panini press.

Let me explain.

I used to have small, $9.99 sandwich press.  It was great for making grilled cheese, breakfast sandwiches, etc.  It could turn a regular lunch into a fabulous, toasty event.  Turkey and cheese became a delicious melt.  Even peanut butter and jelly took on a new face with a little heat.

And then my husband used it.

Sigh.

I adore my husband.

I just really wish he wouldn't break my stuff.

This was not the first time something that I owned bit the big one at the hands of Mr. Bean.  Mr. Bean and his Giant Man Hands of Destruction.

Last fall, it was my travel coffee mugs.  I sometimes would take hot tea or make a cup of coffee to take to the office.  I tend to get quite a few travel mugs from wholesalers.  I used to have more than I knew what to do with.  Used to.

Then, for some reason, my husband suddenly started to drink coffee.


Thus began the demise of my travel coffee mug collection.


First, it was one I actually bought.  A nice Starbucks one.  My favorite.  The handle "snapped" off.  It was poorly made, I was told.  When I argued that I had had it for 7 years, I was then informed that it was probably old.

The next one fell off his bumper.


The third one, I have no idea.  I think the little cover thing also "snapped" off.


This was all within 10 days.


There was the toddler bed that "broke" when it was assembled.  Spatulas seem to really go fast.  The list goes on.

I'm not exactly sure what attracts him to my things.  Or why he can be so careful with his things, but mine magically break simply from his touch.

It's become an ongoing joke.  After the coffee cup incidents, he finally realized that I was, perhaps, not exaggerating.  He does have the amazing ability to break my stuff.  Fortunately, as per the aforementioned blog, I'm not too attached to most of it.

What really bugged me though, was that the broken items were never replaced.  I don't need 4 coffee mugs, but you know, one is quite nice.  (SIDE NOTE: We now have more than we need because the kids and I kept teasing him about it, so everyone we know bought me a travel mug for Christmas. Shane even got me a very lovely Starbucks mug- although it was not quite the same...)

The sandwich press, however, did upset me.  Largely because I used it.  Quite a bit.  Not every week, but probably every other.  I took care of it.  I came home one day and there it was- dead on the counter.

"Oh, yeah, that broke.  Sorry."

"Seriously?"

"Well, you never used it."

"Yes I do.  I use it when I make the kids lunch.  Don't I kids?"  Always good to bring the kids into an argument.  I know.  I suck.

"Well, it's not that big a deal."

"No, because it's not yours.  I think I'm going to go out to your tool bench and break something..."

"You're really upset about it?"

"Yes. It was the best $10 I've spent."

"So it was cheap?  That's probably why it broke."

"NO, IT BROKE BECAUSE YOU USED IT.  YOU BREAK EVERYTHING."  Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration.  "WHAT ABOUT MY COFFEE MUGS?"  Bringing up the past is a good technique, don't you think?

Anyhow, after seeing me completely lose it about a silly sandwich press, my husband (who, by the way was making the kids lunch so I didn't have to) felt bad.  He looked at his giant, destructo hands as if they were murder weapons.

And today I came home to find a Cuisinart Panini Press on the counter.

He even used it and didn't break it.

Yet.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Stuff and Things, Things and Stuff and Having Enough

I really don't care for stuff.

And by stuff, I mean stuff.

I will never get it.  Ever.  Our culture's quest for more.

Before "more" meant better.  Better designs.  Better research.  Better systems. Better lives.

Now it simply means more.

More crap.

I drive around my neighborhood where half the homes have either been in foreclosure or headed that way, and people have so much stuff they can't even park in their garages.

My son even gets it.

When he was 4, we were driving around our neighborhood at Halloween. People had decorated their homes beyond imagine.  Haunted houses, graveyards- it was fun to see.  When he asked why we didn't decorate like that, I said we did decorate, but not to that extent.  It was expensive and we chose to spend our money on other things.

"Like my college fund?"

"Yes, Skip.  That's exactly right.  Like your college fund."

I was a little scared that I had sucked all the fun out of his childhood.

Until the next year.

We were driving around and we noticed that the same house that had caught his attention was in foreclosure.  Another one.  I quietly said to my husband "Look, another foreclosure."  We both sighed.  From the back seat I heard...

"Well, I guess they shouldn't have spent their money on Halloween decorations!"

Yep.

I know that many people have lost jobs, lost incomes, etc., and I appreciate that.  Truly. But in this case, you know, he was probably right.

When did we become a culture where a smart phone became a necessity?  When did having the latest and the biggest and the best outweigh simply having enough?

Vacations are luxuries.

Manicures are special treats.

iPad's are lovely, but not vital.

I fear we have become a culture of materialistic gluttony rather than simply having enough.

You need 2 sets of sheets, not 5.  Your kids don't need so many toys that you can't contain them.  You don't need 75 pairs of shoes.  EVER.

Don't get me wrong, I like nice things.  I sew.  I know there's a difference between well made clothes and crap.  I prefer wearing a well made pair of shoes to Payless glued faux leather one.  My Henckel knife is wonderful to use.  I prefer the Ritz-Carlton to the Super 8.

But honestly, I don't need any of it.

Especially things like jewelry.

One of my friends got engaged and was showing off her ring.  It was very pretty.  In fact, that's what I said.  Apparently, from the look on her face, I should have made more of a fuss.

So, what I said was, sensing her disappointment, was "Yes, it's a very pretty, shiny rock."

She rolled her eyes as if I didn't "get" it.

I got it.

It was, in fact, a very, pretty, shiny rock.  It came from very far away.  Someone probably risked his or her life to get it.  Some poor miner who was simply trying to feed his family, took a risk so she could wear a shiny rock on her finger.

What is was not, however, was a representation of his love for her.  Just because her shiny rock is bigger than my shiny rock does not mean that her husband loves her any more than my husband loves me.

It meant his family had more money and gave it to him to buy her a big, shiny rock because she likes big, shiny things and would have complained relentlessly if he had not gotten her the exact big, shiny rock that she wanted.

Yea, that's love baby.

Congratulations on your big, shiny rock.

When we bought our house, the realtor said "You know, you can afford the bigger model." No, we couldn't.  We qualified for the bigger model, but it would have cut down on our extra money to travel or to save.  Plus, we didn't need the bigger model.  We don't even need what we have now.

We have enough.

We are not stuff people.

I don't need the latest gadget to look cool.  I don't care about being cool in the least.  I left junior high a long, long time ago.

I think it's much more important who I am versus what I have.

I had hoped that after the recession people had learned to value and appreciate what they have.  That staying home and playing cards made just as many family memories as expensive trips and ridiculous, over the top birthday parties.

It doesn't seem to be that way.

I think the opposite happened.

People seem angry.  As if something was taken away from them. They deserve bikini waxes, manicures, vacations, BMW's, $4 coffees- huh?

I don't think I do.

I am privileged to have a career that I love, doing something I believe.

I am thankful that I met my husband.

I am blessed and grateful that I have 2 healthy, intelligent, funny children.

I am happy that I live in a country with so many freedoms.

I am fortunate to be healthy.

Quite simply, I have enough.  And then some.  And you can't buy any of it on QVC.