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.





Thursday, September 26, 2013

Molly

When I was a little girl I had a doll named Molly.  She was one of those 1970s hard dolls with the scratchy hair and the eyes that closed when she laid down. Nothing great.

But I loved her.

She was brave.  She was strong.  She was funny.  She was pretty.  She was spunky.  She was everything I wanted to be.  As an introvert with a speech impediment, she was my hero.

I was devastated when something happened to her-- I don't remember if I got her wet when I shouldn't have or not, but her eyes were corroded.  It was so bad that my parents actually considered sending her to a doll hospital.  I don't think she was the quality that was reparable.  I was around 4.  The details are vague, but the feelings were very memorable.

Her tragic demise and my depression may have resulted in the arrival of my Baby Chrissy doll (the one with the hair that 'grew') but I always remembered what a great friend she was.

Flash ahead about 40 years...  I was lying next to my daughter reading one night.

She is brave.  She is strong.  She is funny.  She is pretty.  She is spunky.

She is everything  I want to be.

Then it hit me -- she is my Molly come to life.

I told her all about Molly and how she was just like how I pretended Molly would be.  And now I finally got to meet her again!

She thought that was very cool. 

The next Christmas the American Girl catalog arrived.  My daughter was 6 going on 7.  She also has an issue with taking care of her things.  Most of her dolls were naked or chewed up by the dogs.  She never seemed into dolls.

I had an issue with the price and post traumatic stress syndrome.  Story below.  

(I was in New York visiting my best friend with my then 4 year old son.  We had some time before the Radio City Musical Hall Christmas Spectacular so I thought it would be fun to get his baby sister a baby doll from him-- perfect first Christmas gift from her big brother.  It was 2 weeks before Christmas.  It was JAMMED full of tourists and shrieking, spoiled, squealing little girls.  The dads and other menfolk were in the entrance holding purses and bags with dull looks on their faces.  Within 5 minutes I was one of them.  I completely froze in the little baby section-- horrified at the excess and the shrieking.  Completely froze.  My son looked up at me and said "Mom, I've got to get you out of here..." he grabbed my hand and navigated me through the packed-- and I mean PACKED store.  I had a nice, quiet son.  I had no idea what the insanity was that I had just seen.  I still get chills thinking about it.)

To say it turned me off from American Girl dolls is an understatement.

I had heard they were great quality.  Even as an adult the catalog certainly looked fun...

My daughter and I poured through the catalog together.  And then she saw Molly.

The spunky girl from the 1940s.  Dark curly hair. 

"Oh Mom!!  There's a Molly doll!  Does that look like yours?"

She sorta did.  There was something about her.

But looking around my daughter's room with the toys shoved into bins, marker everywhere, papers all over... no way was I getting her one.

Plus, it seemed like it was cheaper to have an actual child.  The dolls' clothes were more expensive than anything I bought my real, live daughter.

Another year passed.

The new catalog came.

I told her if she kept her  room clean, we would get her one for her birthday in December.  It would be THE gift.  She knew it was a big deal.

We looked through all the options-- she loved the movie about Saige-- she is an artist.  Then she thought about getting one that looks like her.

Then she saw Molly. Molly was being archived.  Her last year.

We had to get her.

I told her I was pretty comfortable that Molly would still be around by her birthday.

Every day she made me check online.  Every day.  She was panicked. 

She could not let Molly be archived.

It sounded awful.

Then on Tuesday she actually cried.  She did not want them to send Molly to a warehouse. 

She very genuinely wanted a Molly doll.  Just like I had my Molly doll.

We had to save her.

So I did it.

Not because she cried, because she genuinely wanted to save a life.

How could we possibly let Molly be archived?!?!

Great marketing.

Sigh.

Today her room was IMMACULATE.  She said she wanted to be ready for Molly. She has a shelf cleared off for Molly's things.  She drew a picture for her door welcoming her.  She's been practicing on the Target version she got for her birthday last year. 

And on Tuesday my real life Molly gets her Molly. 

She saved her from the archives.

Because she is brave.  She is strong.  She is funny.  She is pretty.  She is spunky. 

She is my hero.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Teaching Your Children Enough

Tonight before bed, my son gave me a hug and said "Thanks, Mom.  That was a great weekend.  You're the best."

I almost cried.

It was his birthday on Sunday.  We, at the last minute, invited 5 of his best buddies to go play laser tag and spend the night.  We watched a movie on the side of the house. 

Simple.

All he wanted for his birthday was a $24 video game.  My husband got him a sleeping bag for when they go camping in the winter.

Again, simple.

We had pizza.  He asked that I make my chocolate cake with fudge icing.

We spent Sunday with some friends-- they had us over for a cookout.

It was a great weekend.

So what makes this inspiring for a blog?

Because it would have been extremely easy to have overindulged him.  To do some over the top party.  To buy him something extravagant that he didn't even want to show him that we loved him.

But he didn't need it.  He hung out with us.  With his friends.  Those intangible things you can't put a price on.  He even let his sister have 2 friends (fellow little sisters of his friends) hang out.

Cool.

So the inspiring part has been that he didn't ask for more.

Because he could have.

Because we are in a position to do it.

Which puts me in a weird position. 

When I grew up "We can't afford it" wasn't exactly a foreign phrase.  We weren't poor and my parents provided me with a lot of opportunity, but we were not wealthy.   Times could be tight.   I did not wear designer clothes.  I was very aware that I wasn't going to get everything I wanted whenever I wanted.

For my children, however, the excuses are fewer.  What do you say when you can afford it?  How much is enough?

We live in a world where people's homes are overflowing with their stuff.  How do you teach children that stuff doesn't matter?  How do you teach them to care for the stuff they have without making it about the stuff?

Fine line. 

It's a good challenge to have.  I know this.  But it's still difficult.  I also know it could all change tomorrow- then what?

I went to college with more than a few people who never saw a paycheck until their 20s.  This fascinated me. I had a checking account at 16.  They took trips.  Had cars.  And had no idea where money came from.

They weren't bad people-- it was just different. 

There was a fine line between entitled and confident.

I want my children to be confident and have high expectations. I do not want them to be spoiled or entitled.

But this is a new world for me.  I want to give them everything they could ever need.  I also want them to appreciate it without overvaluing it.

This weekend was a perfect example.  We set a limit not on the number of friends, but on the quality of friends.  He came up with 5.  Five boys that I know and like.  He did that himself.

No fancy cake- he liked mine best.

On his actual birthday, he was fine spending it with our friends- he genuinely likes them.

And he wanted lasagna for dinner.  Not dinner out.  My lasagna.

Done.

Simple.

And when it was over, he was grateful.

Best weekend ever.

He used to go to a private preschool.  The parties were over the top.  Ponies, magicians, face painters- crazy.  I felt so uncomfortable.  People trying to out do each other.  I even had someone call a party we had-- with 10 kids-- "retro." I had a few condescending comments about what I could "afford." 

It's not about what I can afford- it's about what is appropriate.  It's about the expectations that I'm setting with my children.

It's about enough.

Not too much.  Not too little.  Enough.

My son is still smiling from his party.

It was enough.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Things that Make Me Happy

This blog is dedicated to one of my best friends- Kim Coats.  We met at the DMV- true story.  We've had our friendship tested more than a few times.  We tolerate each others politics.  When she decided to move to Rwanda to work with a non-profit organization I think I was one of the few people who said "That is great- go for it.  You should totally do it."  She writes this great blog about her life in Africa (see the link)-- she is now working/establishing the Rwandan Cycling Team.  She and her partner's (now her husband) work inspired a documentary called "Rising From the Ashes" which details the life the riders have since the genocides- their hopes, their dreams, their futures.  I knew her before she had a passport.  Traveling the world can change you.  It has changed her.  So Kim, this one is for you-- I hope you crack up laughing.

I have become old.

I know this not from my greying hair.  Not from my near sightedness.  I know this from my behavior.

Even if I was in fantastic shape, I would still know I was old.

How?

Because I have become absolutely, positively obsessed with stupid little things.

The dumbest, least important things ever.

Things that in the scope of life are just simply stupid.

Like what, you ask?

Well, last week, I got down to my last 5 pages in my spiral notepad.  I went to my supply room to get one and we were out.

Okay, no biggie.

I'll order more.

They don't make them any longer.

I know what you are thinking--- Mama Bean, they make spiral notepads.

Not these they don't.

I use a 6" x 9" top spiral bound yellow notepad with college ruled paper.

I have for nearly 20 years.  I use it for my task list every day.  I prioritize my task list.  I put my notes from phone calls on it.

For 20 years.

Yes, I could get a steno pad-- same dimensions, but they are Gregg Ruled.  I had never heard this term before.

Gregg Ruled means there is a line down the middle of the page.

Who uses that any longer?  Seriously?  Didn't shorthand go away about 25 years ago with the dictaphones?

And when I say they stopped making them, they stopped making them.  My assistant even emailed Mead paper company.

Not on Amazon.com.  Not on either office supply store website.

Gone.

My beautiful, beautiful system wrecked.

I was panicked.

My family, sensing my instability, went with me to search for them.  Office Depot had none.  To be honest, my husband thought I had been exaggerating.  Nothing.

I was disheartened.  He suggested Office Max.  I said I had checked online.. just forget it.  It was over.  But then, I had a change of heart, the Rocky theme in the background and thought what's one more store...

THEY HAD SOME IN STOCK!!

There were 10 on a bottom shelf.  I bought EVERY SINGLE ONE.

I am good to go for about 2 1/2 years.  Then, I have no idea what I will do.

Knowing me, I may start a letter writing campaign to bring them back.

That, my friends, is completely and totally nuts.

The joy I felt when I saw them on that bottom shelf-- it seriously was the same as when I got my first car.

Absolutely pathetic.

And speaking of office supplies-- I am also obsessed with the Papermate disposable mechanical pencils.  Not any pencil.  The .7 mm yellow ones.  Not Bic.  Not Pentel.  Papermate.  And just this one.

Papermate Sharpwriter  <--- best mechanical pencil

I know they are good because people steal them from my office all the time.  Okay, maybe not steal, more inadvertently pick them up, but still.  They disappear.  And I love them. Only them.

Because I am nuts.

And this pen:

Blue Medium Point Pilot Retractable Gel Pen

Not black. Blue.
Not fine point.  Medium.
Not a cap. Retractable.
Not ballpoint. Gel.

I know they are great because people ASK to take them.  What am I supposed to say?  No, you can't have that.  It's the most precious possession I have?  You trust me with your money, but no, you can't have my 75 cent pen?  I can't say that.  But I look a little crazy when they ask.

Because my life will have no meaning without this pen.  And that pencil.  And my beloved notepad.

I have lost my mind.

I knew I had started getting like this over the past few years, but if you had seen me IN MOURNING for my note pad-- it was downright sad.

What's that phrase again... First World Problems.

So I tried to convince myself that the awful Gregg Ruled pads would be fine.

But clearly, I kept searching so I never really gave up.  Over the next year, I will buy every single one that I ever see.  I will.  I will hoard them like kerosene during the apocalypse.

I have become that crazy person.

I am getting old. I like what I like because I like it and nothing else will do.

Sigh.

It's truly, truly pathetic.

So while my friend is worried about bombs coming from the Congo into Rwanda, I get to worry about my pens.

I feel like I should send her some.... so she can look at them and go "Seriously?"

But I bet she would say "You know... these are fantastic...."

No.  She wouldn't.  She would laugh.  At me.  Not with me.

But people, this isn't funny.  These are office supplies.

This is serious stuff.

Please say a prayer for my sanity.

Thank you.

Kim's Very Cool Blog

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Falling Down

This spring, my Daisy troop voted to use their cookie money to go ice skating.  Disney on Ice has just been to town, so I wasn't shocked.

We also live in the desert, so I assumed that most had never been skating.

One girl had.

The picture of 14 little girls with visions of ice princesses in their heads stepping out onto the ice to realize that ice is, in fact, slippery, terrified me.  I am not a great skater.  Fourteen little girls hanging on to me, crying, falling... not good.

So I asked if perhaps they would like lessons?  Of course, I happen to have a fabulous friend who is a professional ice skater.  He and his gorgeous and amazing wife said they would be happy to.

Really?  Crazy people....

But Kat, the wife, was AMAZING with the girls.  AMAZING.

The girls got on the ice and as I expected, many started crying and panicking.  Kat was not phased.  The mommies were freaking out.  I was taking deep breaths.

The first thing she taught them was how to stand up.   14 little girls stood up.

The second thing she taught them was how to fall down and get back up.

Hmmm...

Because once you're not scared to fall down any longer, it takes away all the fear of falling.  You know you can stand up-- so why not just go for it?

I thought it was absolutely profound.

Twelve of the girls were skating like pros.  In less than 20 minutes.

Be impressed. 

My daughter was not one of them.  To her credit, she's been very cautious since she broke her leg.  She also enjoyed the extra attention.  Because that's how she is.

With that said, it made me start to think a little bit about how I parent.  I've always let my kids suffer consequences.  If they forget their lunch- oh well.  Homework not done?  Too bad.  My son asked me to write a note once explaining that he hadn't done his homework.  This is what I wrote:

Skip did not do his homework.  
He asked me to write you a note.  
I am writing you a note.  
Do what you wish.

Nice mom, aren't I?

It's panicked other moms.  "You aren't really going to let them go to school without their lunch?"  Yes, I am.  Each kid has done it once.  Trust me, it works.

But I've never intentionally forced them out of their comfort zones or pushed them down.

My husband and I decided that they needed to be more active, so we signed them up for a basketball skills class.  Not a league or anything-- they had never had any real experience with basketball except playing at home.

Oh- and another thing-- when did 10 become too late to start a sport?  Holy crap-- if a kid isn't in a professional touring league by 8, their athletic life is apparently over.  I thought getting a good base in school was more important and sports were for fun as a kid.  I thought junior high or high school was when it should get serious.  Crap.  What happened to play?  But that's a blog for another day...

Back to basketball--

My son did fine.  He actually likes it.  It's why we have a basketball hoop.  He needs to learn a few skills, but he loved it.  We had to push him to do it-- he doesn't like to do things that he's not good at-- typical gifted kid.

My daughter was over the top to do it.  She knows I love basketball.  She has dreamed of being on a team with me as her coach.  She picked out the best outfit-- she looked adorable.

And boy did she ever suck.

Big time.

It was so bad, it was hilarious.

My daughter runs like Phoebe from "Friends."  No joke.  She flails.  She smiles.  She has fun.

She could not understand how to dribble a basketball.  I don't even know how to explain it.  It never crossed my mind that a person wouldn't be able to dribble.  She did this slapping thing- had a blast doing it-- like I had never seen before.

I was speechless.  I tried to help her, but I was at a loss.

The instructor was great.  He helped her out and kept the class going. 

She was sweating.  She was trying so hard.  About half way through, it became work.  She kept trying.

She got marginally better.  Marginally.

When we walked out I asked her if she liked it.  She said yes but then added "Wow- I'm really bad.  I was obviously the only person who had never played before."  It was the first time she seemed even remotely negative.  I asked her if she wanted to keep going and she "Definitely yes."  Not just "Sure, Mom, if you want me to."

She wanted to nail it.  She said "I'd like to be able to get the ball in the basket at least once."

She picked herself up.

Because in the end that's what distinguishes success from failure- the ability to get back up.

In the past few weeks I've heard stories from people about "tragedies" in their lives-- flat tires, chipped teeth, bad flights. 

Tragedies? 

I think not.

I don't want my kids to be in their 40s and think that a flat tire is a disaster.  It's a flat tire.  Call road service.  It's an inconvenience.


Failure is much easier to deal with when you're 7 and it's a basketball.  It's much harder when you're 50 and lose your job.

I always tell my kids that I'm a mean mom and some day they'll thank me.

Watching my daughter struggle with a basketball and her big smile made me realize that getting back up not only teaches you a lesson, it also can be fun.  She was proud of herself for every time the ball didn't shoot across the court-- and it did.  A lot. 

Success always feels better after you fail.  You know it's not only luck- you own it.  You did it. 

And her bright smile reminded me that that is a very important trait to have.