Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Sexy Halloween!

Halloween is big business. Once only a "niche market" Halloween has grown to be a billion-dollar industry, surpassed only by Christmas in the world of retail craziness. In August you can now buy candy corn, scarecrows appear, and pumpkins have been for sale since early September.

Every year we've done up Halloween big around the ole Moore/Gordon household. We have homemade scarecrows, carved pumpkins, decorations everywhere. This year I put a ban on spider webbing, because, seriously, that crap gets EVERYWHERE and I'm still picking spider webbing out of the chains of my porch swing to this day. We've got fake gravestones in the front yard and candy corn lights. And, for the first time, we've got serious competition going on from the neighbors on both sides. Suffice it to say, we like Halloween.

Most years we've thrown a big Halloween bash. People come in costume and we've even awarded prizes. This year it didn't quite work out with our schedules, but the kids, nonetheless, are still all about costumes and what they are going to "be".

I'll admit I'm not too excited about Halloween this year. I've been extra-busy and pulling together a party or decorating the house to the nines just hasn't been my priority. I did buy my candy early, when it was on sale, but my husband has seriously depleted my stock over the past few weeks (he will hotly dispute this).

So, this year Harrison decided he wanted to be a "psycho clown", toting a chainsaw. Um. There's no way I'm letting my 12-year-old run around with a chainsaw. So, he suggested I just buy one of the many "fake chainsaws" for sale. And herein lies the problem. The budget is tight (when is it NOT?) and I decided this year we simply do not need to spend money on costumes. We have an entire dresser full of dress-up clothes, tons of makeup, and pretty much everything we need to pull together a costume or two right in this house.

I'll admit that year after year, I have spent $30-40 per kid on a costume from the party store. Add that up times four kids, or six if you include the adults, and that's a hefty sum to spend on a cheap costume that will be worn once. When I was a kid, I don't remember EVER buying costumes. I do remember my mom once made me a kitty costume. After that, I'm pretty sure I was a "hobo" or "cowgirl" year after year. Whatever was lying around the house, we turned into a costume that would suffice for one night of candy hauling.

But the kids always have specific requests. Arlie wants to be Alice in Wonderland. I put out a plea on Facebook hoping someone would have a costume we could borrow. No dice. I looked on Craig's List. And that's when I realized that unless we spend $40 at the party store for the "cute" Alice in Wonderland costume, the only thing out there is the "sexy" version. And I don't think my 13-year-old needs to be wearing fishnets and lacy panties under her Alice in Wonderland costume. When did costumes for children's book and movie characters become "sexy"? There's sexy Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, sexy vampires, and every sexy Disney Princess under the sun. All of the costumes involve a very short dress, long stockings, and lots of lacy underlayers.

Hayley decided she wanted to be the Cheshire Cat for Halloween. Guess what her costume turned out to be? Sexy Cheshire Cat!! Since when is the Cheshire Cat sexy? For one thing, he's a fat dude smoking a hookah. How do you sexify that? But someone did, because she bought a sexy little dress, petticoat, cat ears and striped tail. And then she had buyer's remorse. Because she spent nearly $90 on it. So, she decided to put it on Craig's List hoping to recoup some of the money and went with a more reasonable black cat ensemble. But that still involved a leotard, booty shorts, cat ears and makeup. Sexy black cat.

Not wanting to spend money OR promote teen sex, I decided I would make Arlie a costume. What. A. Joke.  My sewing skills are pretty much non-existent so to think I could a.) make a pattern out of paper using only an old dress of hers as a guide and b.) actually piece together a dress with bodice, sleeves and skirt, and matching apron, turned out to be a huge disaster. I did manage to piece together a bodice and sleeves which turned out to be too tight and crooked, and the skirt I sewed up looked more like Santa's sack than a Disney beauty's flowing skirt. So, I can't sew. Call Martha Stewart and report me.

Harrison was easier. I found a multi-colored clown wig on sale for $3. Found some white face paint and fake blood for about the same. And he found a pair of work coveralls of Jeff's that were sitting around needing to be sewn up. Now, I just have to sew them (and I CAN sew a straight line, so we're good) and figure out how to "splatter" them with blood that will wash out, and we're good to go. Arlie scraped around and came up with a flapper costume from Hayley's 17th birthday party, complete with fishnet stockings, long pearls and a feather boa. It's cute and it's free.

While I've never understood the retail frenzy that fuels holidays like Halloween and Christmas, I get that people want to celebrate. I'm as taken in as the next person when I see a giant orange and black display and all the various themed accessories that pull the whole "look" together. I, myself, purchased a few new decorations this year. What I don't understand is why we need to spend dozens of dollars on costumes and why they all need to be sexy or naughty. What ever happened to putting on a flannel shirt, smearing your face with ashes from the fireplace, tying a bundled bandanna around a stick and going as a hobo? It used to be about the candy haul. Now it's about seeing and being seen.

I've already made my caramel apples this season. Ate one on the way to work the other day. That was messy. I've refrained from stuffing myself with bite-sized candy bars or handfuls of candy corn, although I've snuck a few Reese's from the stash. This year Halloween is more about handing out the candy. For the first time, I won't be needed to escort children around for trick-or-treating so I can enjoy watching the little ones come to my doorstep dressed like ladybugs and Buzz Lightyear and put a Snickers into their pudgy little hands.

Until 9 p.m. when the sexy Cinderellas, naughty nurses and psycho serial killers come calling. And those are just the junior high kids. I'll fill their pillowcases with fun-sized snacks, too, because despite the abundance of lace-up bodices and Charlie Sheen costumes (one of this year's best sellers, btw), I understand that Halloween is about one night of being someone or something else. And who knows? I might just scrounge around and come up with a costume of my own. Let's see.....harried mother? Nah, I do that one every day. Witch? Do that one, too. Medusa? That's how I look every morning. I know! I'll dress up as a woman who has it all, including enough time. I wonder what she looks like?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

And the love keeps coming...........

It hasn't been the best of days around the old homestead. Yesterday evening we attempted to have a family meeting. Before we even started I heard this:
- Are we moving?
- Did one of you get fired?
- Is this going to ruin my day? Because I've had a really good day so far.......
- Is this going to end up with everyone mad? (side note: yes, it did. Sadly.)

Then, I launched into a carefully planned diatribe about chores, responsibilities, rules and budgets, with a little monetary incentive/reward program thrown in that was really a win-win for everyone. Here's the deal. Kids get paid a small amount each day they complete chores correctly and without being reminded. At the end of the week, if all went well, they are eligible for a bonus. Violations mean you pay us back. We can't afford a lot, but this would garner each kid roughly $30-35 a month if they just do what's expected of them in the first place. After the unveiling of the plan here is what I heard:
- So, you're basically going to just take all our money? (Talk about planning for failure!)
- This won't work because we don't have any money! (Duh, you have to earn it first!)
- Arlie's going to get all the money. (Well, hard work DOES equal good pay. And Arlie works hard).

Then, as always happens, there was the barrage of "well, she..." and "it's not my...." and "you always..." and "I never...". And things went downhill from there. And this is what I heard:
- You think she's SO perfect and she's not even your kid. Why don't you just adopt her? (Ouch.)
- This is bullshit. (If I swore at my mother, she'd have smacked my mouth. So sad that's no longer socially acceptable.)
- Shut up! (Excuse me?)

And I got mad. Because, personally, I don't think kids should swear at their parents and tell them to shut up. Call me conservative. And also? It's human nature to get defensive and angry when your weaknesses are pointed out. Things like laziness and lack of motivation. Generally when we get mad and defensive it's because of someone other than the person talking to us. It's the one in the mirror.

It's not like we're asking for hard labor. No one is digging ditches or sweating in a coal mine. I mean, really, check this out - we have the audacity, in this house, to expect our kids to do their own laundry. And to NOT throw their clothes on the floor. And occasionally scrub a toilet. And rinse their dishes. And pick up their socks. And not eat in the family room. And not take things that do not belong to them. These, my friends, these are the horrors I subject my children to. And I offered to PAY them. What was I thinking?

So, I exited the flaring tempers and retreated to my room. And had a nice, hot bath and was in bed by 9 p.m. But before that, I saw this:

All I wanted was one good day. Just one. I guess I don't even deserve that much. Why am I even alive if I can't do anything right? I'm done feeling like a worthless piece of nothing. So done.

That was my daughter's actual Facebook post after the fiasco. The drama. 

And now? I just don't feel like doing much for them. The self-centered attitudes and inability to see beyond their feet that are propped up in front of the TV just astound me. I wish they knew how hard life would get. How doing chores is insignificant compared to all the trials they will face in life. I don't want them to have a hard life, but if you never feel pain, how can you know what feels good? If you never fall, you won't know the joy of getting back up. If you never fail, you can't revel in your success. 

We give our kids chores because it helps prepare them for "real life". But what about kids who just don't get it? Real life will smack them in the face with a force so astounding it will take their breath away. And maybe knowing how to wash a load of clothes or dust a shelf won't make or break them. But if they can't even sit for a half hour with an ounce of respect and listen to solid guidance, if they can't see how doing their small part makes the whole so much better, then what will they learn? When will they learn it? 

They say if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. So, maybe starting today, I will just do whatever I want. For example, I never feel like making dinner. Perhaps I'll stop doing that. I NEVER feel like making their lunches. I could skip that too. I rarely feel like driving them anywhere or picking up after them or letting them have their friends over. Think of the time that will save me! All that delicious, beautiful time to just do what I want and never worry about  the consequences. I could stop cleaning my bathroom, and never wash my clothes, but that would make me uncomfortable, so I guess I'll have to exert a teensy bit of effort. But doing for others? Not so much. I'm afraid I only have enough energy to be kind to me right now. I've taught them well. They'll figure it out. And if not? Then, maybe that lesson will finally be learned. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How do you support me?

I was asked this question by one of my offspring today. When I answered "I work full time" I heard "other than financially" as the answer. So, I got to thinking about the many "non-financial" ways I support my kids. For example:
- I give you tools for success. If you don't choose to use them, I can't do anything about it. 
- If I tell you honestly that it wasn't your best singing voice or the jeans are too tight, I'm saving you from having someone else tell you in a more brutal way. 
- Besides enduring hours of labor to birth you, I've lost countless hours of sleep either taking care of you, worrying about you, or doing something for you. 
- All those times you needed a ride? That was me. 
- Who else took you to the doctor, the dentist, and nearly every other medical appointment you've ever had?
- I stayed up late reading your essay, quizzing you, typing something for you, or standing over the sink burning paper to make it look "old" for your project.
- Those stylish clothes? I schlepped through the stores to get those for you. 
- Hours upon hours of dance lessons, gymnastics, swimming, baseball, softball, basketball, rehearsals...that was me waiting and watching, often with a couple of your siblings in tow who were whining that they were bored, hungry or tired. 
- Every Halloween costume. Ever.
- Christmas? I decorate, bake, buy, wrap and create the magic that you love so much. 
- The vacations and camping trips? I arranged those. 
- All the food in the house? I make it magically appear. 
- I washed thousands of loads of your laundry until I decided you were old enough to do it yourself. 
- Sick at school? Forgot your gym clothes? Late? I'm the mom-mobile! 

So........if I get mad at you for being late, or not doing your homework, or slacking off on your chores, consider the fact that, as your mom, I don't get the option of taking a day off. So you say you didn't ask to be born? Well, sorry. Can't exactly put you back. 

Just because I'm not blowing sunshine up your ass every minute of every day, doesn't mean I'm cruel, or unsupportive, or worse, a "bitch". How lucky for you that there's someone in this world, who, even when you're at your worst, loves you the most. Someone who would listen to your rants and still want to make you happy. You can say all you want, try hard to be the martyr, or lay on the heaviest guilt trip, but I'd still donate a kidney or give you my bone marrow. Heck, I'd give you my life. Because that's what moms do. Who supports me? 

To the parents of.........

I have received several very official-looking letters from my daughter's university. I always open them, because, after all, they are addressed "To The Parents Of...." and I'm the parent so.....

Anyway. The first one I received, shortly after she was accepted, was very important-looking. But inside? It was a big ole advertisement warning parents that REGULAR SHEETS WILL NOT FIT ON OUR BEDS and that we must, immediately, purchase extra-long twin sheets from a specific company. Except that I'm not stupid and I know Target and just about every other store sell extra-long sheets in droves right around back-to-school time. Duh. Nice try, college!

The second ominous-looking letter I received was advertising insurance for my student. Except she already has insurance. So, yeah, thanks anyway.

Then, yesterday, I received another very official-looking letter. Inside was the most ridiculous thing I've received so far. This one really takes the cake. Here's what it says:

To: Parents of Students Scheduled to Take Exams
Subject: Send A Care Package To Help Your Student Through Finals (I love how it was all capitalized. For emphasis. LOL)
Two students showed up to get their Care Packages. One beamed when she received her package. The other, whose family had not reserved a package, immediately used her cell phone and called Mom with a plaintive "You didn't send me a Care Package?"

Because so many students receive Care Packages during exam time, in can hurt if a student is left out. This year, we have a solution to make sure every student feels supported at this critical time. (Sheesh, you'd think they were getting a limb amputated or something. It's a college exam for cryin' out loud!)

The enclosed free gift card is our way to help. Please send it even if you don't plan to reserve a Care Package. Of course, it will be more appreciated if it comes with food. Isn't everything?

A Care Package is tangible proof that the people students count on are thinking of them at exam time (I don't even know WHEN exams are. I already did college). It makes them feel supported, not alone. It's also fun. 

Then, the letter goes on to explain the various Care Packages - The Wildcat Spirit, listed at "the favorite" likely because it's the most expensive, the Support Basket which features "fun snacks" such as granola bars, Wheat Thins and Pop Tarts, The Exam Survival Kit that offers "over 20 success snacks for a burst of energy such as Chips Ahoy cookies, Mike&Ike's, etc. (success snack = college lingo for "candy"), the Cup of Inspiration which serves up comforting hot beverages. All of these can be yours for the low, low price of $20-$55.

Please respond today. There are always parents who plan to send a package but get too busy until it's too late. The result: no package for their student. The horrors! How will my daughter ever get an A if I don't send her overpriced Pop Tarts in a basket?

We're proud that university students can count on backing by their parents. Yes, yes, they can. Not necessarily with food gift baskets, though.

P.S. Last year parents chose the Spirit Pack as the best way to support their students through the rigors of finals. Of course they did. It also happens to be the $55 package. And rigors? Rigors? One might suffer the rigors of war. Or poverty. But rigors of finals? Please.

After laughing (and saving the letter for this blog post) I had to wonder about these ridiculous mailings. Aren't they already getting my money for tuition and room and board? Certainly I do not need my daughter's institute of higher learning schooling me on where to buy extra-long sheets, that I might want medical insurance for my child, or that I need to send a care package full of "success snacks" in order for finals week to go smoothly.

Remember finals week? When you stayed up all night cramming because you failed to take proper notes all quarter? Maybe you had to pop a couple of No-Doz because it was the dinosaur ages and we didn't have Red Bull or 5 Hour Energy shots? And you dragged your ass into class the next day, eyes red-rimmed, unwashed, frumpy and rumpled and managed to scrawl a semi-acceptable answer on each question and still passed the class with a B- by the skin of your teeth? Rigors of finals, indeed.

Oh, and lest you think I'm so hard-hearted as to scoff at a care package, I'll point out that I've already sent a couple of them, and I'd certainly include something more exciting than Wheat Thins. Like a rubber chicken. Or crude bumper stickers. Or homemade cookies. Because I Care About My Student During Finals Week. Capitalized for emphasis.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up

Well, the three-day weekend "all by myself" is over and although not every minute of it was spent by myself, a lot was accomplished and some stuff turned out fun and unexpected. Here's how it turned out:

What I did NOT do:
- clean the microwave or fridge (but I really need to!)
 - wash the dogs (but I knew I wouldn't do that!)
 - finish the books I'd already started (I decided to "abandon" them, that's teacher speak for stop reading them because they were just way too boring)
 - design my website (but that was overly ambitious anyway)
 - take fall photos (but only because the leaves have not turned enough yet to make pretty pictures)
 - exercise (but I worked my ass off so maybe that counts a little?)
 - pick up the house (well, I DID, but not until today so I couldn't enjoy it ALL weekend)
 - read the Sunday paper (but it's only 9 p.m. so I might still have time.........)

But here's what I DID do:
 - a bunch of laundry
 - went through my keepsake bin and actually tossed some stuff
 - organized and purged some craft stuff (but not all of it, so it's a work in progress)
 - watched two movies (but I had a stack of twelve - haha!)
 - started a new book
 - wrote....well, blogged....
 - took pictures of the kitten (but she moves around a lot so I only got a couple of good ones!)
 - finished decorating for Halloween (and had all the candles burning when Jeff and Arlie got home!)
 - baked (once)
 - remembered to feed the animals - every day! (p.s. there's no frog)
And here's all the bonus stuff I did:
 - had lunch with a friend on Friday (and Hannah came too)
 - went to Fred Meyer with Hannah and ended up getting way more stuff than I planned
 - went to dinner at Olive Garden with another friend (and enjoyed a spectacular sunset on the way there)
 - stayed in bed until 11:30 on Saturday morning 
 - made my own "coffee shop" breakfast
 - went through Harrison's clothes and filled a bag with giveaways
 - picked up Harrison, got lunch at McDonald's (frappes included!) and went to Bothell Landing to feed the ducks and do an impromptu photo shoot
 - watched movies while I went through craft stuff and keepsake stuff
 - woke up to the kitten scratching my back (ouch)
 - went through Jeff's clothes and filled a bag with giveaways
 - went through the laundry room and got rid of a bunch of stuff
 - had a heart attack when Hannah showed up unexpectedly from her choir retreat while I was talking to myself in the laundry room (hahaha!)
 - had lunch with a friend
 - spent the afternoon cleaning, organizing and basically getting a lot of things under control that have been making me crazy for a long time
 - made lunches for tomorrow
 - lit candles and made everything all warm and homey (yay!)

And it was a very, very good weekend. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Too busy for yourself?

Yesterday I visited with a friend for lunch and another friend for dinner. And it was a very enjoyable day/evening! I love going out with friends and just catching up. Our lives are so busy, we barely have time to connect anymore, but even an hour-long coffee date or an hours-long dinner makes such a difference. For busy moms, it's our networking. Busy professionals go to seminars and meet-ups to connect with other people in their profession. Moms do the same - only our meet-ups might be in a yoga class, or at the grocery store, or at happy hour at 9 p.m. because that's when we finally got a minute to escape. No matter what our professions - working moms, "stay-at-home" moms, part-timers, we all need to network and connect with other women, especially our friends who have been in and out of our lives for a minute or decades.

That's why I find is so hard to believe that we can't seem to find time for each other. Or we cancel at the last minute. Or we reschedule so many times it's just not worth the effort. Recently, my book club went kaput. Everyone claimed "too busy". I get it. I sometimes have days where literally ALL of my time not spent sleeping is dedicated to someone else - a child, work, a husband, volunteering. But the truth is, not EVERY day is like that. It might seem like it, when days in a row, I have absolutely no discretionary time, but the truth is, if you're so busy you can't spare an hour to connect with your "network" then something is seriously out of whack.

I get it if you belong to a Bunco group, a book club, a church bible study, and also volunteer at your kids' school, while holding down a full-time job. You're busy! But what about YOU? What about the things that feed your soul and recharge you. My husband is fond of the saying "sharpen the saw". This means if you don't sharpen your saw blade (the things that make you happy), the saw will get dull and not be of much use anymore. Same with us - if we don't recharge from time to time, we get dull and boring. Your kids know it, your husband knows it, and your friends wonder where you've been all this time.

I wonder if our "too busy" is not just that we, as moms, wives, mothers, don't just sacrifice all of our personal joys in order to serve someone else. I know I do. I've never gone on a mom's only weekend save for one time spent overnight at a hotel 20 minutes from my house with good friends. I know plenty of moms who regularly indulge in Vegas weekends or a trip to wine country with a group of girlfriends. Lack of money to indulge in trips that involve airfare has kept me from considering that, and many may share my concern, but there are plenty of other ways to connect with other women that don't involve an overnight stay or matching luggage.

Take book club, for example. Once a month meetings. Read a book in between. Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, I guess not. I only missed book club when I was out of town. I always read the book, save for one or two over several years. But more often than not, several members would be missing at each meeting and half of those there had never read the book. Sure, some were just there to socialize and that's fine. So, why not call it a girls' night and skip the book and discussion? That's ok, too. We often seem to need some "justification" for getting together with other women. An organized event seems to need to be taking place for it to seem legit. Why? Remember knocking on the neighbor's door and asking "can you play?" Why can't we just do that now? Just ask our friends over to "play"? We're so worried about hosting events that we simply don't have them. I don't get that. I'm fine if you want to come to my house and just hang out. Bring some food and drink and we'll have a grand old time just talking and laughing it up.

I guess I just find it hard to believe that once every thirty days or so, we cannot seem to find time to connect with our friends. I recently went out on a Thursday night to dinner with two friends. We met at 7 at a restaurant close to our homes. We were out of there before 9 because "Gray's Anatomy" was coming on. Even though I wasn't watching the show, I appreciated that 1. We got together...and 2. That my friends were smart enough to carve out two hours for dinner and still go home to watch their favorite show in their jammies. It was easy and we connected. We had a good time and no one had to miss their favorite show.

In my family, we tend to be the do-ers, the organizers, the inviters. Everyone comes to our house for events and non-events alike. I'm happy that my house is a gathering place and that people feel comfortable here. But I'm always amazed at how, year after year, we seem to do all the inviting, hosting and organizing and rarely does anyone reciprocate. I can't remember the last time we were invited to dinner or a party at someone's house. We always have a large turnout whether it's a teens' movie night or a Halloween party or birthday. But out of all those people who have enjoyed our home and hospitality, it's rarely reciprocated.

I don't blame or resent. I won't change the way we do things because we all love to connect with friends and have a good time. But I wonder.....why do people shy away from getting together? We're so cocooned in our own lives that we often seem to live in separate little cells protected from the world - together, yet separate. We might live in a neighborhood but not know the neighbors. Or we might never get to know our work colleagues. Why?

I used to belong to a Bunco group that fizzled out. I was ok with that because I felt I'd "done" the Bunco thing. I tried to join a new group a few years later, but it just didn't spark me. It didn't fuel me and make me want to get together with those women so I quit. And that's just fine. We can't be friends with everyone. My best friend refers to her friend circle as her "bus". When asked if she wanted to make new friends she said "no, my bus is full!" I've often used the bus analogy over the years. When I got divorced, and my friendships inevitably changed, I joked once that I drove my bus up a hill with emergency doors open and several former friends fell out. Because that's what it was like - people I had been close to just inexplicably dropped out of my life. At first it's a little alarming. But after a while, you realize it's ok. Because some friendships wax and wane and others are rock-solid for decades. Still others come and go and you pick up where you left off. Sometimes, you are left bewildered and hurt after a friend drops out of your life. But that's the way it is with friendships. They are dynamic things.

We all make excuses for why we're too busy or don't have enough time. But the truth is, we often have only one person to blame - and she's looking back at you from the mirror! My kids will tell me they didn't have time to finish their homework and I'll say "Well, you had the whole day to lay in front of the TV!". It's all about how you choose to spend your time. I figure if I have an hour to spend on Facebook, that's an hour I could have been working out, or completing a chore, or doing something else. But I don't feel guilty about it. Facebook is one of the ways I connect with friends and family. So, I'm ok with allowing myself my FB time. But not at the expense of never getting together with my girlfriends or planning a party or making food for a pack of hungry teenagers at my house.

I get that not everyone is fueled by being around people. We all like our alone time, too. Or our uninterrupted family time. I love those things as well! I'm ecstatic when I have a rare night (or weekend!) alone and I love nothing more than dinner time with the whole family. But I need my girlfriends too. The ones who have known me since I had my firstborn and the ones I've only just met. I'm always so recharged after going out with my girlfriends, even if it's just a short coffee visit or a bigger event. Talking, venting, commiserating, getting advice and a sympathetic ear - all of those things are so vital to busy women.

So, if you find yourself in the midst of a "friend drought" ask yourself if you can carve out time, even once a month, to connect. Book club, Bunco, drinks, dinner, movies, whatever it is that gives you some time to connect with your friends is vital. If you feel guilty about missing family dinners, go after dinner. Go after the kids are in bed! One late night with friends won't kill you. You'll be happy you did it. And if you find yourself "quitting" all the things you once enjoyed because you're too busy for yourself, then reevaluate. Your time is important, too. Use it wisely!

Friday, October 14, 2011

How convenient!

Today, just for a few minutes, I'd like you to stop what you are doing and think about how convenient everything is today. Your life is SO easy compared to, say, the pioneer woman's life. Take bread, for instance. This morning I wanted a pastry from the coffee shop. But, being too lazy to get in my gasoline-powered vehicle and DRIVE to the coffee shop (a walk that takes about 45 minutes, mind you), I decided to create my own pastry. I pulled a tube of crescent rolls out of the fridge to begin. Now, think. Who ever would have thought that one day we'd have perforated bread in a tube? Seriously? I filled the pre-formed triangles with chocolate and butterscotch chips. Think again - chips? Sweet treats already pre-formed into little drops? Can you believe there was a time when chocolate was a rarity, if one ever even had the pleasure of enjoying it? I mean, if your father wasn't a chocolatier in France, or your ancestors weren't the ancient Mayans, you might never have tasted chocolate once upon a time. GASP!

You probably took a nice, hot shower this morning. Besides the miracle of hot water being delivered into your home through an intricate series of pipes, you likely used another amazing product - body wash. Think of it, not too many years ago, one had to actually use a bar of SOAP to get clean. Now, we indulge in creamy, anti-aging, exotic-scented liquid body wash squirted directly from a plastic bottle onto a nylon pouf, and create bubbles upon bubbles. Did you know that soap used to be made using lye and rendered fat? No? Well I knew this because my husband, The Renaissance Man, recently made his own soap using rendered fat (yes, the icky stuff we pour off taco meat) and lye, which came in a bottle with a complicated chemical name that I'm not even going to try to spell. And, once you introduce this chemical process, the fat is no longer fat and the lye is no longer lye because it's gone through a process called saponification (or something like that) and it is now, officially, soap. See? It was so easy for YOU to just open a bottle of Caress body wash.

Today, everything is fast. We have smart phones and computers and iPads that deliver information in an instant. Except when there's a glitch and it takes four nanoseconds loner than normal. Then, we get all mad. We say things like "stupid computer" and "not so smart now, are we phone?". Or maybe that's just me. But the point is, we expect EVERYTHING in an instant. We microwave our food. When was the last time you stood and stirred something for 45 minutes? I haven't made a delicious pot-pie recipe in years because it requires 45 minutes of constant stirring the sauce, and who's going to just STAND there for 45 minutes stirring sauce. I mean, maybe if you were listening to a book on your iPod or watching a show on your under-the-cabinet-installed TV with cable in your kitchen. But to just STAND there and COOK? WTF?

Once upon a time families gathered around a wood-encased radio to listen to their "programs". Then, we got big, ol' black and white TVs that weighed about three tons and had "rabbit ears" to adjust the clarity. Now, we have flat-screen TVs mounted to our walls and if we don't have time to watch a show, we can just DVR it for later, AND skip the commercials. Personally, I don't have a DVR. If I miss a show, too bad for me. Lucky for me, if I really want to see something I miss, I can also watch it "on demand" or on the internet. Instant gratification. All the time.

The other day one of my kids said they were hungry. I said "make some macaroni and cheese or Top Ramen". They looked at me like I had two heads and said "But that takes SO LONG!" If it's not a Hot Pocket or frozen burrito that can be heated up in under two minutes, they're not interested. I will add here that boiling water takes about five minutes. Top Ramen can be made in about seven minutes and macaroni and cheese in about ten. But that takes TOO LONG!

When I was in school, if our pencil became dull, we had to place it into a manual sharpener and crank the handle to get a nice, sharp point. I always wanted a pencil sharpener at home. I thought that would be the ultimate luxury, because there was nothing quite so gratifying as a freshly sharpened pencil (disclaimer: I spent most of my childhood drawing....hours on end....I'm pretty sure my family thought I was autistic. But that's another story.) We never had a pencil sharpener at home, but now, in my own home, I have an electric pencil sharpener that I just stick a pencil into and it emerges all pointy and sharp. The worst part is the two or three seconds that you have to WAIT while it sharpens. I'm not embarrassed to admit that the other day I bought a hand-held pencil sharpener and sharpened about 200 colored pencils by hand. It was very gratifying.

Once upon a time mothers spent their time taking care of their own children. Then, came the age of working mothers and a mother had to carefully consider her child-care options, interviewing countless nannies or touring several daycare centers in order to make the decision that would be the right fit for the family. Now, we have daycare in the grocery store and "drop in playcare" where moms can just check their kids in like a shirt to the laundry and go off to pursue their own interests while perfect strangers attend to their most treasured offspring. How convenient is that?

We are the Convenience Age, no matter what other monikers society has given this generation. Instead of inviting a friend over for coffee that we make in our own kitchens, we have a coffee stand on every corner, and we drive with our paper coffee cups bobbling in our laps, slurping down our caffeine on the way to work or the doctor or to pick the kids up from soccer. We have instant oatmeal and drive-through prescription pick up. We are moving at the speed of light. So, I challenge you, this weekend, to do ONE thing "the slow way". Get up and change the channel. Simmer a soup slowly on the stove top. Hand-sew the hole in that shirt you've been meaning to get to for ages. Play a board game. Or hey, if you're really ambitious, make your own soap using rendered fat and lye. Whatever. Just do something slow. This instant!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ambition and a three-day weekend.......

Finally! My long-awaited three-day weekend has arrived. I knew it was coming. The school calendar let me know back in August. But what I didn't know was that it would unfold in such a way that I would get three glorious days all to myself! A vacation of sorts, in my own home. What a concept! Jeff is off deer-hunting (ick, more on that later!), Arlie is visiting her mom in Spokane, Hannah is off on a choir retreat, Harrison is with his dad, and Hayley, well she's been off to college for a solid month now. And so I find myself alone, save for three dogs and a kitten, and I'm so excited to have all of this uninterrupted time that I've made a list of things I would like to accomplish in these three days (disclaimer - my kids HATE my lists but I love them like I love swiss cake rolls and would never, ever give them up. Like swiss cake rolls. Never.). Here is my list:
 - Clean fridge and microwave. How pathetic is that? Housecleaning first on the list? Bah. I might not do it. But I probably will because there's something icky spilled in the fridge and it's bugging me. And someone actually wiped out the microwave recently, which had grown a layer of food splatters, but I'm guessing no REAL cleaning ensued, so I'll just tie up that loose end as well.
 - Laundry. OMG. What is wrong with me? WHY do I have another chore on the top of my list? Actually I kind of like laundry. It's so neat and tidy - wash, dry, fold, hang, put away. It's one of the few things I actually follow through on. I like how it comes full circle. I know, I'm weird.
 - Go through keepsake bin. This one might take me a while. I have to read and look at everything. And I'll throw some stuff away. Maybe.
 - Organize/purge craft and scrapbook stuff. I do have a lot of crap. And no time to do anything with it. Might as well get rid of some of it. I've put myself on a strict no craft/scrapbook supply diet until I actually use what I already own. Except stickers, which I cannot seem to stop buying.
 - Watch pile of movies. I am SO excited about this one! I have a stack of movies I've been wanting to watch and never have time. Now, I can just watch and watch and who cares how much time passes?
 - Wash dogs? This has a question mark on it because it means I won't do it. HAHAHA!
 - Finish books already started. Yes, I really need to do this. Because I've had two books partially read since the summer and I am woefully out of practice on reading for pleasure. I must finish what I started and then dig into the pile of books I've been meaning to read for years. Another diet - no more books until I finish the ones I already have. I'm a book junkie. There, I said it.
 - Start new book. See above.
 - Write/research. Write a novel? Compile notes for a novel? Research writing jobs? Research a few good recipes? Research why I always research? I don't know. But I must write. It feeds my soul.
 - Design website. Ambitious!! And I'm not telling what it's for. You'll just have to wait and see!
 - Kitten pictures. Yes! I must photograph my beautiful Matilda and possibly catch some of her funny antics.

In addition, I thought of a few more things I'd love to do. Like take fall photos. And finish decorating for Halloween. And bake. And take a nice, hot bath. And remember to feed the three dogs, one kitten and fish. There might still be a frog, too. I can't remember. I'll have to check. I'd also love to exercise at least thirty minutes each day. And read the Sunday paper ON Sunday. And pick up the whole house so it looks nice for three days.

At any rate, it's a lot of ambition wrapped up in three days' time. I better get started!!! What's on YOUR list?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Today I woke up early. Much too early. I went to bed at 1 a.m. and awoke at 5 a.m. For some reason, I am still awake, although I probably should have come home and gone to bed at 5 p.m. tonight to make up for the lost z's. I had set my alarm early to get up and help my 13-year-old get ready for school because she broke her thumb yesterday playing football. She's a cheerleader. Somehow I found this amusing. But not the fact that she broke her thumb or has to be in a splint for four weeks. So, I arose early to help with things like brushing hair. But then I realized my high schooler was not making the usual early morning noises (somewhere between a guttural groan and a grievous growl...haha, just kidding...) and I peeked into her room to see her still slumbering away ten minutes before the bus. Now, it was my turn to growl. Because her missing the bus just does not compute into my day. Her missing the bus means I have to drive her to her school twenty minutes away and then decide if I really have time to return home to get ready, or if I have to hurry and get ready far too early and then kill an hour before I head to work (who am I kidding - what a great excuse to hit Starbucks!).

Anyway, since I was hanging around for the junior high bus to see off my son and Gimpy Hand, I decided I could just give them a ride up to the bus stop. And then I decided I could just drive them to school. And then I decided (and I guess maybe I said it out loud) "Wouldn't it be nice if we all just played hooky today?" and there was a resounding "YES" from the passengers (as resounding as 7 a.m. on a school day can be). But, being the ever-responsible one (ugh, I hate that role!) I said "no" and gave them the booby prize of stopping for coffee at a stand on the way to school. And we parked in the parking lot at the junior high and finished our  coffees and wished for a day off.

And then we went to school and work. And it was just not nearly as fun as playing hooky. Not even close! We shoulda........

Thursday, October 6, 2011

For my husband........

I'm writing this on Thursday night, while my husband reads a book in bed next to me. He won't read this until tomorrow, because part of his Friday ritual is to read my blog (and it bugs me that he only reads it once a week, but what can I do?). Anyway, since I know he'll read this tomorrow.....Jeff, this one is for you.

Thanks for being so supportive. Thanks for helping me see things with my heart AND my head. Thanks for listening to my ideas and giving me new ideas to think about. Thanks for frappe hour and date night. Thanks for going along with things even when you don't want to. Thanks for showing up. Thanks for being there. Thanks for loving me.

That's all. I love you!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spel it rite!

I'm in kind of a bad mood today, so maybe that's why my pet peeve, horrible spelling, is particularly bugging me tonight. But it's probably just reading the newsfeed on Facebook that makes me crazy. WHY CAN'T PEOPLE SPELL ANYMORE? Here is a friendly refresher:
1. You are not "board", you are "bored".
2. Your muscles are never "soar". They can sometimes be "sore".
3. You will never "ball" your eyes out. You may, perhaps, "bawl" them out, but that, of course, is an exaggeration.
4. You do not "still" someone's Facebook status. You "steal" it.
5. It's not "tomatoe" soup. It's "tomato" soup.
6. "Your" not the best. "You're" the best!
7. Facebook did not change "there" news feed again. However, "their" news feed did, indeed, change.
8. It is "definitely" not "definately".
9. "Supposed to" is actually two words, as opposed to the ever-popular "suppostu" or "supposto". Goodness.
10. You know what would be really "awesome"? If you'd never spell it "awsome" again!

Oh, and please stop putting hash tags on everything. #it'sreallyannoying and #noonethinksyou'reallthatclever and #itdoesnotmakeyousoundcooler.

The end.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tuesday musings, part two..........

I had to call this one "part two" because I realized I already had a Tuesday musings! Must be a trend. So, today I worked my 6.5 hours at school with my special-needs boy who I've been working with since school started. This job is a challenge. It's basically glorified babysitting, because I just have to "remind" him all day long what to do, when to do it, and occasionally take him for a walk when he has an "episode". Really, he's a good kid and it could be worse (i.e. more "episodes") but after about the billionth "reminder" it gets pretty old and I go a little crazy. Not to mention I'm required to fill out little behavior charts on three kids and jump in when needed for the other 7-8 kids on IEP's in that class. And even with all of that, I'm often bored out of my mind and looking for things to do. This afternoon we had a sub. She "forgot" which lesson we were doing, requiring me to dash to the office to run off 28 copies of the assignment, and then she read the passage, and mispronounced several words. I hated to correct her in front of the kids, but gimme a break - she's a TEACHER! Then, when attempting to give a "lesson" she had to refer to her book to check how to spell "malaria" and "disease". She pronounced "quinine" as "quin-in-in-a-nin". Really? Ugh, I have so little tolerance for teachers who can't speak, write or spell correctly. Lucky me, I got to leave early today.......

But not for anything fun! Oh no. I got to pick Arlie up at school and take her to an allergy appointment. We already knew she had cold urticaria, which is an allergy to the cold (imagine that!) but the good doctor decided to do a scientific test to be sure (he put an ice cube on her arm for several minutes then checked to see if she got hives. I did this exact same experiment at my house for free!). She left with a prescription for a hefty dose of allergy meds and an epi pen. Yikes. Guess we won't be going in any cold water anytime soon. Sounds like a perfect excuse to vacation in Hawaii.

I then dropped her off and had to rush over to the studio where Harrison was having rehearsal for his play. He got the role of the lion in an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz and there was a parent meeting during rehearsal. I learned that we have to sell candles and pastries for fundraising. And that he could take voice lessons for half price. I left with a good chunk of my bank account missing and a boy who wasn't sure what to think about three hours of rehearsal every Tuesday, made worse by the fact that he had a monstrous social studies homework assignment hanging over his head.

Finally made it home around 7:15. Dinner was ready (thank God for my husband) and we ate and scattered in different directions. I spent the next two or so hours catching up on emails and paperwork. The kids watched Christmas movies and burned cookies. My husband practiced guitar (and had previously done a workout - God bless him, the saint. I haven't worked out since aerobics were invented.). My son gave me a long list of study questions for a geography test. I quizzed him on things like longitude and temperate climates. My head started to hurt a little. At some point, I threw in some laundry, washed my face, and put on pajamas. I filled out an order form for a choir fundraiser (wrapping paper and candles I don't need).

And now I get to go to sleep (well, after I brush my teeth, take out my contacts, take my meds and turn out the lights) and do it all over again tomorrow. Discretionary time is non-existent these days. I got a text today from a friend asking to go to dinner (can't - meeting). Coffee? Work all day. Pedicure? Remember that "work all day" thing? Dinner Friday night? Football game. Daughter is playing with the band.

Tonight as I stared down another "found" pile of my college daughter's dirty laundry, I remembered my offer to wash and put away all the clothes she left behind. And I thought....when? I need a day. I need ten days. I need to not work all day. I never intended to be working full time. The job fell in my lap and was for two weeks. Now, I'm five weeks into it. And it lasts at least until the end of October. And there's a chance it might be mine permanently. And I'm scared of that prospect!! I want to find another "perfect" job to "save" me before I have to make the dreaded choice. Accept the job if it's offered simply because I need a job? Because it gets my foot in the door? Because I might get something better next year? Or stick to my guns, listen to my heart and the needs of my family and our schedules and say NO. Keep subbing. Wait for something part-time to open up. Dilemma!

In the meantime, I'm tired. And I had milk and cookies before bed. Burnt cookies. I actually love burnt cookies. But I don't like being burnt out.