Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Birthday! Love, Mama

Ten years ago, today, I was in labor getting ready to give birth to my girl. I was a week past due and so ready to not be a blimp anymore. Even more ready to have the swelling in my feet go down enough to wear socks again. I was anxious with anticipation to see my girl sleeping in her beautifully put-together room with the Puffalumps I had searched for high and low until I got her all four. What I wasn't ready for, was a surprise full-anesthesia C-Section and being in so much pain in the recovery room that I could barely focus on her little face. We were both a little bleary eyed when we met. My girl from her arrival into the harsh world of lights when she had decided that she was simply not ready to leave her warm squishy place just yet; and I from loads of pain meds thanks to one of the doctors passing through the recovery room and assuring the nurses, "Yes, this patient can definitely handle more morphine."

She was a blessing before she even arrived--and completely my girl. I knew she was a girl before the amnio confirmed it. She came to me in a dream, and together we picked out her name. She would have the girls version of my grandfather's name, and her middle name would be the same as my mother's. It flowed beautifully together, and from the moment I woke up from that dream, I knew that my girl WAS Josephine (Josie) Rose. It fit her completely, and no matter how people tried to get me to change my mind, I wouldn't budge. 10 years ago, nobody named their daughter Josephine! It was old fashioned. And as my father put it, "the name of old ladies dressed in black waiting to die". I didn't care. She was (and is) Josie to me. And once she arrived, the visual image that they had previously attached to the name was fore
ver changed to a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, light-filled little girl.

In the hospital, they had to bring her in to sleep in my room because she would cry with such loudness and intensity that she woke up every other infant in the nursery. With me, she hushed right up and cooed. My girl from the first. She wasn't like other children anyway. She could hold her head up the very first day. She slept through the night from the first night she was home, and every night thereafter. She didn't smile early, but she did give me her first hug at 6 weeks old when she wound her little arms around my neck and squeezed. It is one of the most precious Mama-Moments I have, that hug.

She went through all the first-born-mama-has-no-idea-how-to-be-a-mama-yet growing pains with me. Like the awkward first few times out of the house for anything, when you haven't figured out how to cart and balance and schedule everything that is required with an infant. She went through two years of un-diagnosed post-partum depression with me and would give me hugs whenever she saw Mommy crying which, in retrospect, saved my life more than once. She taught me how to think about another person first. She broke my heart only so she could expand it and knit it back together so that it would grow big enough to hold all the love I would fe
el for her.

She was a happy, laughing child who very rarely fussed or cried. She almost never got sick and she was smart and strong and amazing. As she got older she talked early, walked early and climbed absolutely everything. She was also a biter and would teethe on every window sill in the house. She would crack us up repeating "WaaaaZuuuuupppp" from the Budweiser commercials. And she would shout "TONY" every time the Soprano's came on, and then she would tell us how Tony used bad language. She could turn on every piece in the AV system and play herself a movie before she was 2.

It wasn't all miracles and cuteness though. For those of you who have read my prior posts about parenting, some of which included stories of Vaseline Stalactites, and turning into a stunt-person to avoid tripping over them, and the fatality of remote controls during the flushing process... Yes, all of these things I learned about while parenting my girl Josie. My amazing girl who loved to dress up like a princess and then wanted to go play soccer in her princess dress--daily. She taught me about not leaving scissors within reach when cleaning up from a home-haircut. I learned quickly how to re-start my heart. This is useful for times when I would come in the room to find (water) tea being poured clumsily from her new tea set... directly in front of the TV... while the TV is on. Or when I would walk in the room to find her using the Sit-n-Spin toy as a step-ladder to climb up the outside of her crib like a mini-Spiderman-girl.

She also reignited my imagination and is a consummate sales-person. She could get her father and I to sit in the backyard while she would re-marry us simply so she could throw rose petals all over us and the yard. She was the reason that we would have blanket tents up for three days in the dining room and she could get every family member in attendance to not only play in there, but sleep on the floor in the tent for at least one night. She named her all-black-stuffed-dog Spot, because when the dog was on the beige carpet he looked like a big spot on the floor. What 3 year old comes up with that kind of reasoning?

I spent 5 years as a full-time student of
Mamadom at the University of Josephine. She was the best teacher ever. Thank you Josie for being patient with me and teaching me more than I ever knew I could learn. I love you more than words can possibly describe and I am so proud of the amazing person that you are. You are beautiful from the inside out. I'm still not sure, after 10 years, what exactly I did to deserve you, but it must have been fantastic!

Happy 10th Birthday!
Love, Mama.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Renaissance Faire

We are not organized people. We are three Pisceans in one other words, we generally swim by the seats of our pants. We will see a billboard or advertisement for some event and say to each other that we really should go to that...before we know it, three months have passed, we drive by the same billboard and realize that we missed the event entirely. This is simply our way. Unless some more organized person enters our world, makes plans and is good enough to ask us to join in those plans. Then, we're there. It gets marked on the calendar, even if that calendar is only in my head, and we show up come hell or high water.

This is how we managed to attend the Renaissance Faire on Sunday. Our friends D & D invited us to go with them along with D's sister R and her new boyfriend W. I teased D & D that they only love us for our stroller, because, let's be honest, this is one of the major perks of having a kid--the ability to load every last scrap of your belongings into the bottom basket of the stroller so you can walk around with your hands relatively free without looking like an overloaded pack mule. Not that I minded one bit, I was just happy to be out of the house and among adult conversation like a big person.

So out our little group of seven plus stroller went into the teeming throngs of seed pearls, plaited hair and chain mail interspersed with the modern-day folk milling about. One of the stand workers we talked to was a girl in a beautiful velvet and leather dress with hand sewn beading at the neck. Hubby asked her how much she paid for it and we all picked ourselves off the ground when she confided that she'd spent close to $700 on it--the entire season's worth of her pay. If this was indicative in any way of the cost of the real Renaissance, I no longer have any questions about why there were beggars during the
era, except for why there weren't more of them.

We watched the parade that signaled the official start of the day, and showcased the many different types of costumes we would be witnessing throughout our wanderings. We watched a show or two, the favorite of the men being the belly-dancer-singer, not that she was in any way the only naked navel of the day. There was quite a bit of eye-candy for the men as many of the bustiers provided eye-popping cleavage and some of the chain-mail wearing women wore their metal bras without anything underneath them. Hey, there was plenty of eye-candy for the women as well with muscled men in loin-cloths and plenty of tights. But we women had the good sense not to take pictures that could result in our sleeping on the couch.

We got a couple of pictures with the executioner whereby hubby got down on his knees and got his neck axed by me for a photo op. I'd post it here, but well, I was amazed to see in full color exactly how huge I am. Wal-mart mirrors are one thing--fleeting shocks, but to have it for advanced review in a picture... OMG! It's bad enough that I have to see it, I won't subject your eyes to permanent damage. However, I've decided that I need to wire my jaw shut. Speaking of my jaw, I put all manner of greasy fare into it and we all spent far too much money on food and drinks (it should be illegal to charge $2.50 for a 20 oz soda and an extra $1 for a cup of ice!)

Hubby re-proposed in one of the chapels they had, and we all took pictures there. Some of which I don't have yet, because there were three cameras in action that day. I'm sure we walked at least 5 miles from car exit to car re-entry. We were there for 8 hours and all of us wound up slightly sunburned.

Before I close my commentary, I must Must MUST comment on the bathrooms. WOW, they were fantastic. Really clean! Every single bathroom was clean AND there were plenty of them about, you didn't have to hunt for them. Seriously, the sinks and the stalls and the changing table were all clean enough to not warrant any misgivings about using any of them--which is something I do almost everywhere... Another shocker--No Line for the ladies room... Ladies you know what I'm talking about; the bathroom sitch was tantamount to saying you went to the moon for lunch. And from one of our friends, I was told the men's room was just as clean and accessible. That in itself is worth the price of admission.

It was a really good day with lots to see and buy and gawk at. And really good company to share it with. So a huge thanks to D & D for being organized enough to make the day happen!

The next yard of strawberry daiquiri is on us!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Universal Levelers and Wonder Moms

I have never, in all my nearly 10 years of parenting have I ever considered myself a good mom. Oh, I have my moments of brilliance, but on a general basis, I'm average at best. I simply got lucky with the kids I was entrusted with by the universe. That and I know about universal levelers.

And to clarify, I don't count pregnancy as parenting time because that is the easy part. Yes, you pre-children people, the part where your body is a kiddie-condo and you have to watch every morsel and molecule that enters your ever expanding body as you blow up mercilessly with water-retention. The part where mini-you makes your hormones go apeshit, creating food cravings which come on at all hours of the day and night, and makes your normally normal-sized body not give one whit that it's gaining weight and girth exponentially because you want that peanut-butter-tuna sandwich and the grapefruit-guava smoothie to wash it down with, and you want it N.O.W. damn it!!! These hormone-fueled cravings are so strong that you want whatever you are craving with the same intensity that the Underground Railroad escapees wanted freedom. And figuring out how to navigate the world with a medicine ball in your shorts is no easy task--it takes practice just to not tip over. And yet, I don't count this as parenting, because this is the easy part. Hmmm that could be a mini-blurb for a birth control site just on it's own, and I haven't even begun to mention labor and delivery...

Thing is, while you're pregnant, you comfort yourself through all the myriads of discomfort with visions of cover-model-pink-cheeked-brilliant-eyed-cherubs. You know about diapers, and you've heard that babies wake up at all hours of the night. There are so many things that being a parent entails, that no one tells you about--and even if someone, by the grace of God, tells you; you simply won't get it until you experience it for yourself. I thought, because I had baby-sat for almost every teen year of my life, and had a younger sister that I knew what I was in for, right? Oh, you naive woman, you have no idea.

And, this has been said to the point of cliche, but honestly, it IS true. Parenthood changes you. But it's in ways that you couldn't begin to conceive of in a pre-parent or pregnancy state. Kind of like my move to Texas. I thought I knew, but I SOOOO didn't know, ya know? Reality has a way of smiling as it comes up on you, and then in it's final approach, it will reach out a hand and slap you with a huge 8-day-old-500-pound-swordfish. And then it will smile at you again, just to show there are no hard feelings.

No one can explain to you the feeling that you will get when go in to watch your child sleep, and how that feeling will be better than any summer-blockbuster or sex or wine or drug you ever experienced. And in those moments, when they really do resemble the pink-cheeked-cherub from your prego delusion, you will tear up because your heart is so full of wonder and love and potential that you simply cannot contain yourself. At those times, you forget all the grueling nights-in-a-row when you fed them at 3 am, and were so sleep deprived that you would nod off and almost drop them off your lap. You also forget the stretch of time where you were someone who was once fastidious to the point of being neurotic about their appearance and fashion choices, and yet, as a parent, now will go two days without a shower and don't even flinch when you get baby-puked-on for the third time that day. The adorable-child-of-mine-sleep-watch is something that every single parent does, it's a universal leveler, but no one can adequately describe it to you before you become a parent nor can you describe it's awesome power. It is this power which ensures that most children survive to school-age. This is because God in his (or her) infinite wisdom, made kids cute to their parents for their own self-defense; another universal leveler.

There are no levelers for the types of parents there are, however. The human race being as varied as it is, there are all types of parents; good, average, bad, and then there are the Wonder Moms. They are the moms that volunteer at school every week, and drop their kids off with their hair done, full make up, and non-pajama clothing on every day. They are the ones that go to the park after school and on weekends with regularity and look happy to be there. They don't shriek at their children about forgetting their backpacks, and they always sign and return the permission slips on time AND will be a chaperon for every class trip. It's a guarantee that some time during their child's academic career, they will be the president of the PTA and a den mother to at least one scout group. They make it to church every week, again with the kicker, on time and are part of the ladies group. Despite tough economic times, they plan, save for, and actually manage to take the family to Disneyland at least once a year. They are a topic of discussion (and the secret envy) of all non-Wonder Moms.

But, there is something else that every single parent on the planet goes through, even Wonder Mom. There will come a point when you say to yourself that you coulda, shoulda, woulda done or said 'XYZ' better, and you will feel guilty. Guilt is one of the universal levelers for parents from every era, everywhere. We all have it sooner or later. At least once in your parenting life, you will be gripped with this guilt to such a crushing-suffocating degree that you will Will WILL cry. It's as much of a given as the diaper thing. But this is one of the most hidden of hidden parenting secrets. This is something they don't talk about with other parents, never mind before you become one.

The knowledge of universal levelers may not help you get peanut butter off the dog, or bubble-gum-all-the-way-to-the-scalp out of your child's hair, but it does make it a little easier to smile at Wonder Mom at the bake-sale (that she organized and baked 300 cupcakes and two bundt cakes for so that the school can keep the music program) when she gives you that movie-star-white-Donna-Reed smile as you pay for your kid's one cupcake and the three more you bought to eat on your no-makeup-sweat-pant-and-ripped-T-shirt-wearing ride home. In the field of parenting, on a few subjects, for a brief, moment you and Wonder Mom are equals... Oh hell, that might even deserve another cupcake!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My Breakthrough With Goals

Eat, Pray, Love really set me off on a renewed journey of introspective reading, and of course, I've been getting suggestions from my Mom & Sis about making sure I read The Secret, The Last Lecture, and Tuesdays With Morrie. If these are anything like my experience with Eat, Pray, Love, I'll most likely pick them up sometime next year, when they are neither as wildly popular as they are now, and when my family members have forgotten that they suggested them to me at all (I'm the same way with TV shows for some reason). Upon their completion, I'll wind up hitting myself on the forehead questioning myself as to why it took me so long to get around to reading this brilliant, life-changing book. Knowing this about myself, I started looking into some inspirational sites and free e-books, (I am one of the few people left in the free world that doesn't spend money online--as a general rule) to get me started. Luckily, they are one of the newest big marketing angles, and free e-books are everywhere.

I found one that instructs on "the Secret"-like principles, and I started reading it. One of the things the author talks about is finding your passion. So I started thinking about it a bit, and don'tcha all fall out in shock, but after being hit on the head with a feather (taped to a brick) I realized that my big passion was writing. Mind you, if I'd been doing this before I'd started blogging, I'd have pondered long and hard. For almost two years, writing had fallen off of my daily to-do list. Without even reading the book, I'd managed to do step one. So, far so good... next was the Goals portion.

I have never, ever, ever been good at goals. I have no idea why I was created without the ability to complete this seemingly simple task. This isn't new. I've been battling this particular ability/personality flaw since our HS guidance counsellor gave us this task in freshman year. Not only are my desires of the universe extremely vague and somewhat juvenile, I would recognize this and go blank when faced with the all important two-part question, "Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?" To which, the only reply I've ever managed to come up with has been, "breathing hopefully... oh yeah, and rich would be good too." The breathing part is my only accomplished goal. I can't imagine why... with such an easy, definitive list like that to shoot for. Y'all know I'm being facetious, right?

Surprisingly or not, I've read a lot of these types of books over the years. I have always understood the principles behind them, but putting them into action was my downfall--kind of like Senior Physics where I (true story!) received an award from the teacher at the end of the year for the highest ratio of understanding to implementation--totally understood it, but couldn't get any of the formulas or experiments to work (I squeaked my way into graduation with a D in that class). Many years later, and many years into my self-improvement journey, I am still goal-list-less.

The universe finally had pity on me and gave me the wisdom that I needed. First thing that has consistently held me up on the goals list was the 5/10 year thing... I know it sounds bizarre, but I've never been comfortable with those numbers. Those time frames never 'spoke to me', as it were. So, after all of these years, I finally asked myself the breakthrough question, "what's a comfortable time frame For Me?" Once it was asked, I knew the answer in an instant! I prefer one question; "Where do I see myself in 7 years?" After all, you're body can completely regenerate itself in 7 years, and in numerology, 7 is the number of the universe, and it's been one of my favorite numbers since childhood; so for me to do this list I'm going to think outside of your rigid little box, Mr Author-Man, and I'm going to use 7 years. I don't have to follow the guidelines to a T. Hello, that's what the word guidelines means--Guide you along these Lines-- besides, I'm not getting graded or judged by another on my answers anymore, this is simply between me, myself and I-- and we decided that I Am Allowed The Latitude To Tweak The Questions To Suit Me, by the powers vested in me by the universe and good-common-sense.

Once I got that 'Duh-Damnit!' wisdom/brainstorm under my belt, it became a much simpler prospect to do the list. I still have issues with trying to be more specific than 'breathing and rich', while, at the same time, not so specific that I don't give the universe room to maneuver and fulfill my desires in ways that haven't even occurred to me yet--which, in my personal opinion, is how the universe gets it's jollies.

Therefore, I've started to do a goal list for the first time in many, many moons. It's not done. It's going to take me some time. But my first goal is to finish the list... let's see if I can accomplish it!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tagged and Awarded!

So, in my post Hormone Hell and Thank You, I thanked 1 Stop Mom for making my day by Tagging me and giving me TWO blog awards.

I have been racking my brain to come up with 10 new blogs to award, and 7 to tag... Truth is, I simply don't have that many yet that I love to the point of awarding... So, I have decided to award and Tag those that I really love to read, whatever that number may be, and reserve the right to tag and award any in the future that I deem worthy to come up to my "quota" of 10 per award and 7 to tag.

The rules set forth for the Butterfly Award ( it did catch my attention that the grammar at the bottom is completely incorrect, but it's nice to be awarded anyway!)

And the I Love Your Blog Award

are the same, and simple...
1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Link to the person who awarded you
3. Nominate 10 other blogs
4. Tell the nominees they've been awarded.

That's it! Easy, right?

As for the "tagged" part, it's also fairly simple...
1. List 7 random/weird things about yourself
2. Link back to whomever tagged you
3. Tag 7 more people
4. Tell the tag-ees they've been tagged

As 1 Stop Mom gave me all three of these distinctions, the link back part, for me, is very easy...
Thank you again, 1 Stop Mom! I am honored to be included in your list, period, and more-so because I've only been blogging for 5 months.

Seven Things About Me...

1. I used to edit my girlfriends' English papers during free time in our Beauty Culture Vocational Class.

2. I was listed in the 1987-1988 edition of "Who's Who in Mathematics"

3. I went to 3 different high schools in 4 years.

4. My first husband asked me out for 6 months before I said, "yes".

5. I met my current husband in an astrology chat room on Yahoo.

6. My son and I are both born at the same time to the minute, (including time change) on 3/6 and are exactly 36 years apart.

7. I am a born and raised Jersey Girl, and cannot stand Springsteen--except for that one song; Jersey Girl.

OK, so I am Awarding both the Butterfly and the I Love Your Blog awards to these blogs and Tagging their owners, because I read them regularly and enjoy them enough to award and tag them... As I stated earlier, I reserve the right to finish the 7 tags and 10 each awards as I find other blogs I deem worthy... Here are the first 5 to make the list...

Congratulations and Great Day TO:

Yes, they're also all on my blog roll, but I wouldn't recommend them if I didn't love em too...

The State of America

I have come to the conclusion that SNL's portrayal of Sarah Palin is over-the-top-unAmerican!

The fact that I was tempted for a single millisecond to vote for McCain simply to continue watching Tina Fey as Palin for the next 4 years is wrong beyond words! As my sister would say, "just because they're serving you Kool-Aide, doesn't mean you have to drink it!" And yet, Fey, every week has me damn near spitting my soda across the room in laughter, which is something I am completely opposed to giving up. This is the only thing about the election that has managed to invoke any deep feelings in me. I'm not thrilled with my choices this time around, but then again, why should this time be any different than any other presidential election?

Seriously, McCain scares me. It's not the fact that he's voted with W. over 90% of the time. It's not the erratic, hot-headed behavior that is lurking just below the surface, ready to jump out at you like a prowling lioness at any moment. It's not that Palin has a deeper voice, and I can not for the life of me imagine listening to his nasal-Mickey-Mouse-Arizona-accented voice for the next 4 years. Or even the fact that his wife looks like she could make Imelda Marcos seem like Mother Theresa. While I think all of these things, what scares the ever loving shit out of me is his Skeletor Smile. It simply gives me the creeps.

Well, all of that, and he simply will not live the 4 years if he makes it to office. Look at every single president you've seen in your life. Look at a pic of how they look when they are first elected and then look at the pic from when they're leaving office... They haven't aged 4 or 8 years, they've aged 4 times the length of their term from the stress. To quote Tina Fey from her Leno appearance on Friday night, "Sarah Palin seems to be exactly as smart as me... and that's not smart enough." Amen to that Tina, and since the stress of the presidency will kill McCain, the Caribou Barbie's readiness and intelligence are very much in question.

Don't get me wrong, I'm also not thrilled to the moon with Obama. I have my doubts about him too. Despite his incredible persona, and seemingly unflappable calm; bottom line, he's still a politician. Politicians can only survive as politicians if they learn how to squawk out the side of their necks and talk out of both sides of their mouths while smiling like a Cheshire Cat and cuddling a baby in one arm while shaking hands with lobbyists behind their backs with the other hand and managing to convince the voters that they are as trustworthy as a Catholic priest--oh, wait....

The fact that ANYONE promises to "fix" America is more astonishing to me than the size of Oliver Stone's stones for releasing the film W. while the real W is still in office. No one person can do it. It takes a village--in other words US--the American public to fix things. What is even more bewildering is that we, as a general population, fall for this shit every election. When are we going to wise up and stop thinking that any one president is going to make our lives oh so very much better?

The president is akin to a mortgage company...he might say if we get the loan, but we are the ones that pick the house, decorate it, live in it, and do the maintenance to it. We are the ones that decide who to have over for Thanksgiving dinner and what cars to park in the garage. All the mortgage company does is collect the payment. In the case of W, we just happened to go with the shadiest, most fly-by-night loan company on the face of the planet. Maybe this is why we are so ripe to believe the lies told by the next potential mortgage company. We're desperate to be able to hope for something better in the face of the horrible turn this country has taken under it's current leadership.

Which makes the laughter I experience watching Tina Fey skewer Sarah Palin all that much more addictive. I need the laughs so much more now than I did 8 years ago. Remember when we though Clinton's spooge stain was considered the worst thing that could happen to America?

After 9/11,
the War on Iraq, gas prices, the current economy, and "homeland security"; I'd give anything to wake up tomorrow in a Dallas-like turn of events and find myself staring at the shame of one little blue dress again.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hormone Hell and Thank You

I think I'm PMS-ing. I woke up this morning, and started doing the morning routine required to get hubby out the door to work. Within milliseconds I was pissed-off. First this thing, then that thing, then something else...

And my rational mind tells me that my being red-hot-poker-hot-pissed-off at hubby is MY problem, because he isn't doing anything different than he does any other morning in getting ready for work. Add in the fact that yesterday's doctor appointment left him taking 3 new medications that have the potential to cause dizziness and or brain-damaged behavior, and he was actually doing better than usual!

I didn't care, I was merciless in my anger. And that oh-so-lovely feeling of wanting to go on a full out rampage didn't leave with him--another indicator that this was All Me. But I was still pissed and I continued to bitch at and about him in-absentia, but without intent. I thought that if I just got it out--these minor 'molehill' frustrations that I've blown into 'mountains' that I could maybe get past them. I was wrong.

Nothing was helping, not even having coffee and a child that was still sleeping. Which, in the world of me, is a huge indicator that I'm in Hormone Hell. gre-aaaaat. I'm SO much fun when I descend into the bowels of PMS (biggest eye roll here that you can possibly imagine). I used to only do PMS about 2 times a year, but since I've had my son, and my tubes tied along with his arrival, the joys of PMS have found me with more frequency. Hormone Hell turns me into Sybil on mescaline--with Turret's Syndrome.

Basically if you live in a 15 mile radius, go to your basements, because she could blow at any moment. And God help you if you actually live in the same house. You won't be able to breathe correctly as far as I'm concerned. Thank goodness I'm not all the way there yet, I am just recognizing the signs that it's coming at this point. With advanced warning, maybe hubby can get himself and the baby out while they still have a chance.

So, it was in this banner-fucking-mood that I started doing my computer work today...smoldering like a poorly put-out campfire. When I got a comment from 1 Stop Mom, popped over to check out her blog and found that she had given me, not one, but TWO awards for my blog, and tagged me a few days ago (which somehow I missed the notification on that!). It made me smile. And BIG. Campfire completely doused with a lake's worth of water mixed with flame-retardant.

Therefore, it is with More-Than-Normal-Hubris that I fall down on my knees and thank 1 Stop Mom for these honors. Normally I'd be thankful for such an honor, but for pulling me out of the Hormone Hell my body was threatening to plunge me headlong in to... Well, I can only say that I thank you, my family thanks you, my cat thanks you, my mother's sister's cousin's brother thanks you. You're timing was impeccable. So, for two posts in a row, I am thanking someone. Today, I say thank you, 1 Stop Mom you made my day.

As I want to give some thought to the next move on my part for these awards, I will reserve that for it's own post (you'll understand what I mean then...) Until then, great day everybody, if I can have one, trust me, you can too!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Thanks, Liz

So, even though I may be the last person in America to do so, I've just read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. And while partway through the Eat part of the book, I decided that I must read it in full and then re-read it with my highlighter and post-it tabbies, but something else happened... I got writer's block... hence my Tips & Tricks post, I had nothing else.

Something happens inside me when I read well-written works; I develop a writer's envy. I wish I could come up with something as wonderful as what I'm reading. That I could be that funny or that wise, or able to communicate so well my struggles and inner-turmoil. Somewhere within me, my self-esteem takes a total nose-dive and wants to bury it's head in the sand of 'I'm not as good as'.

This is one of those revelation things I discovered about myself while reading the aforementioned book. And through closer examination, I've found that it extends into other areas of my life, not just my writing. I've been on a traffic exchange site where you receive reviews from others about your site, and almost everyone of them has given my writing praise... I say this not to brag, but to demonstrate how pervasive and destructive this line of thinking can be. With triple-digit extremely positive reviews, I still manage to deem myself not good enough in the face of what I consider to be well done. It's all about one's own mind taking over with a skewed perspective and producing an unrealistic and negative self-worth. I believe this is how a skeletal anorexic can look in the mirror and see themselves as fat-- internally-fucked-up-self-image. While mine may not kill me, or even be all that visible to the naked eye, it is there and destructive all the same. It may even be more insidious than anorexia, for without the outward obviousness of suffering from this self-negating delusion, there is no one to step in and try to help you with it.

I've gone for years; sabotaging relationships and my professional life because of this inaccurate, self-imposed self-portrait. I have spent these last few days dissecting this mindset with all the intricacy implemented by an OCD-A-student-in-biology-class. This 'condition' is neither recent, nor something I was born with. It was cultivated at an early age and allowed to fester like an infected splinter for thirty-some-odd years. So, it was about damn time I copped a clue!

I am as good as I was made to be. I can improve my behaviors, but as with everything in life you will be better at some things than others, and there will always be someone who is better at your 'good' things than you are. It is no cause for throwing in the towel and not doing it at all, or taking a defeatist attitude, thereby giving yourself permission to do a slip-shod job.

My bottom line conclusion came to this: Do everything you can, with everything you've got...this will cause it to be the best you are personally capable of, and that is what living life to your potential is all about. And that is true whether you're folding laundry or climbing Everest.

The only comparisons you make between yourself and another should be for inspiration. If they are so you can have a dialogue inside your head where your ego works to make you feel lousy about yourself, then you are in dangerous and destructive territory. A territory that is just as deadly to your self-worth as anorexia is to your body. It's a sick and twisted perspective that needs to be cured and set right.

Of course, how to do that is different for everyone, but I recommend following this strangle-vine of thought down to the root and digging up how it was that this seed took hold and was able to flourish within you. Then systematically pouring mental herbicide on it by examining your own behavior as it comes up and doing whatever method works for you to change it--in a healthy, balanced way, not going total opposite end of the spectrum like a whore turning into a nun because that is a whole other line of destructive behavior that I won't get into here...

So, thanks Liz, for opening my eyes... I really enjoyed your writing, and I'm also not sure you could have said this better yourself.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Tips and Tricks Volume One

In these tough economic times, which we all know increases stress levels in every area of our lives; I thought I'd take this post to share some helps and tips for both parenting and saving the bank account that have worked in my home. I will be adding to these Tips and Tricks from time to time, so this is Volume One.

Do any of you have a child like mine that likes to 'rock' their crib or playpen across the room? My son does this in his playpen (as he is his mother's child!) in order to get over to the dvd cabinet and *ahem* explore... I did it in my crib to get over to another piece of furniture in the room in order to climb out. With the wheels on these items, it is very easy for a strong bodied and strong willed child to go where they want to with some effort. This new ability your child has discovered has the potential to be dangerous. After a couple of sucked-on dvd's and cases, I came up with a full proof cure. Take a pair of old sneakers (whatever you have as long as they are flat rubber soles and have traction) and put the wheels of one short-side of the furniture into the foot holes. Viola! No more cross room adventures. And since you already have the shoes, it doesn't cost a thing. If you're not thrilled with the way it looks, make sure you put the bulk of the foot toward the inside so all you see is the heel.

To save money on household items, I recommend joining one of the warehouse type bulk stores. Yes, the membership is $30 (or more) per year, I know. However, what you save will make up for it. Also, DO NOT do all of your shopping there. A lot of things are a waste of money unless you are stocking supplies for a huge amount of people or are getting the items in order to prepare to cook for a church social or block party. Honestly, just because the 3 lb. tub of mayo is only $6, it's a waste if it doesn't get used before it goes bad, not to mention the hassle of trying to fit it in the fridge. Only buy things from these places that A. you use all the time and B. don't expire; diapers and baby wipes, paper towels, garbage bags, toilet paper, Ziploc bags, laundry detergent, fabric softener... These are all great buys at these places. You will get more at a lower per-unit cost and you will use it... eventually. But also a word of warning, don't get sucked in by the 'great price' of anything. Remember to keep in mind how much of something you can store in your home. You don't want to have to navigate around 1000 rolls of paper towels for the next year. Which brings me to my next tip...

When shopping ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS make a list; and then stick to it. With this list in mind, you can budget your shopping and have a very good idea what you will spend before you even set foot in the store. Always round up when you price the items on your list. This will allow you to compensate for taxable items. You would be amazed if you went back through last year's receipts of the stores you shop regularly, and figured out all the money you spent on impulse buys. The store marketers are betting that the 'great deal' on the end cap of the aisle or in the checkout line will have you saying, "it's only a few extra bucks", then adding it to your cart. Add up that 'few extra bucks' at the end of a year and it could be hundreds. The only thing that you should add to your list when you are in the store is something that you already use with extreme regularity. Maybe you forgot to put it on the list, maybe you thought you had enough, but the store has it at a super price and you really would save in the long run by buying it now. If you are tempted to add something you normally wouldn't buy, try this; write it out on your list, with the price. Continue shopping without adding it to your cart. See what you'd have to cut from your list to get the item and still complete the shopping in the allotted budget. Sometimes just taking the time to write the item on the list will bring you to your senses. Other times, the 'high' of the deal will fade as you walk away. And other times, you will still decide to go back and get it. That's fine, I'm just saying you should give it some consideration, before mindlessly tossing things into the basket and then finding yourself staring at the checkout person blankly as she states your total as $200 when all you went into the store for was a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread.

Check out bulk items for things you use with regularity. If you always pack chips in with the lunches, it would be much more cost effective to get some Ziploc bags and a family sized bag of chips and doing the separating yourself. You will spend on average an extra 8 cents per ounce for a few minutes of convenience. If you make up all the small bags at once from the larger family sized bag, it only takes about 5 minutes, the chips stay just as fresh and you have the convenience you were looking for in the single serving packs you were buying. And remember to figure in all of the bags of chips those Ziplocs will make when figuring cost. It may seem the same price on the first round, but the next 3-5 (or more) times you only have to buy the chips... now do the math. You save. A lot.

A bulk item that I only recently discovered... Gatorade. You can get Gatorade in a tin of powder that makes 6 gallons for about $9. That is 24 of the 32 oz bottles. That is huge! One of those 32 oz bottles is between 79 and 99 cents each when they are on sale! Normally they're over $1.50 each. At regular cost you spend $9 on only 6, yes, SIX of those 32 oz bottles. What I did for hubby, was bought about 6 of the 32 ouncers when they were on sale. After he drank them up, I washed out the containers and started rotating them, refilling them with the made-from-powder Gatorade, and sending him to work with one a day in the summer. That savings all by itself, paid one phone bill.

Another tip for around the house about separating bulk meat... I do it at the kitchen table, because my sink is too small (or full) when I go to do this chore. It used to make the biggest mess and I had to worry about not fully getting rid of the germs and viruses on the table surface
because I have a glass and wood table. Now, I take plastic wrap and cover my table where I'm going to be working, tucking the ends under the table edge. When I've finished with all of the meat, I simply pull off the plastic wrap, making sure to fold the ends in on each other so none of the drippings spill, and throw it away. This took a lot of the hassle and worry out of this chore for me.

These are just a few that I use. If you have some great tips to share, please leave a comment and share with us all! Great day and good luck everyone.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Stay At Home Parenting

I have been blessed to be able to stay at home and parent both of my children in their earliest stages of development. With each of my two children and in each of my two marriages, I was afforded this luxury. And as wonderful as this sounds, there is so much more that goes into it, that both your working partner and other non-stay-at-home parents cannot possibly understand. Let me shed some light.

First of all, it is not all beer and Skittles. We do not sit on the couch eating bon-bons and watching a litany of soap operas and talk shows. While our job looks easy to those who brave the traffic and office politics to put a roof over our heads and food on our tables, you are sadly mistaken. We have our own unique set of problems and stresses, some of which you worker-types couldn't handle for three times your annual salary.

Choose your favorite co-worker--past or present. Someone that you enjoyed working with or for, no matter the reason, and given the chance, would work with that person every work day. OK, now try this... You work with that person seven days a week, 24 hours a day, in the same setting. A little bit of cabin fever over time, right? Not even close...

You are responsible for feeding them and clothing them. Everything that you do and say and every single tone of voice and emotion you display is being burned into that little person's memory with all the permanence of a branding iron or a really bad tattoo. In turn, it is creating their behavior in conjunction with their own personality. They will repeat things that you didn't even know that they heard, at the most embarrassing possible time and place. Think that would be stressful? Check this out...

For a while, every single time you turn around, you will have to grab out to counters, walls, chairs, tables and anything else in reaching distance-- mid-freefall -- to keep from completely tripping over them and hurting yourself or them to the point where a visit to the hospital would be a very good idea. Even if you manage to perfect your stunt-person moves and avoid being the source of their (or your) physical damage, eventually, there will be blood. There will be bruises. There will be tears. There will be nightmares from TV shows they shouldn't have seen or bedding that has to be changed at 3 am. Both of which have the possibility of lasting for an extended run of an undetermined number of nights in a row.

There will be blankets and entire rolls of toilet paper in the toilet because you were viewed using the potty, putting in a small amount of said toilet paper and making the hugest mistake of all--flushing. This will create a fascination that will last months and very rarely be pretty, and can in fact, be fatal to small pets, some stuffed animals and almost all TV remotes and cell phones.

There will be soaked-to-the-skin-even-though-you're-not-the-one-in-the-tub bath times that will make you check your homeowners policy concerning flood damage. Those times will inevitably and inexplicably change one day to footraces throughout the house that are not punctuated by the cheering of fans, but the shrill make-you-deaf screams of, "I don't want to take a tubby!!!" Not to mention the full body work out that comes from wrangling an unwilling child. You will also get that several times a day early on when you wrestle a writhing-jumping-bean of a child to clean them of the foulest-melt-paint smelling diapers or a clothing change once they've learned to walk. On that note, let me say now, buy stock in Advil and Tylenol and for goodness sakes, don't forget Excedrin.

You will find spills, stains and
things that you cannot identify on furniture, floors, clothes, in cars, in hair, on hands and without fail, in your kitchen and or bathroom sink. And you get to be the one to clean it -- whatever it is. I promise you, even if you took Home-EC as a professional course at Harvard, they did not ever cover some of these situations and how to clean them up. I know they did not teach Vaseline-stalagmite removal with broken glass and full-body-greased-child (and I mean FULL body greased, standing in the bowl of the sink along with the shards of broken glass that used to contain toothbrushes all because you decided to take a 5 minute--egg timered it, FIVE MINUTE shower...). Yeah, that's one of those learn as you go kind of things. Then again, that's parenting. Joy. Rapture.

You also have to spend time educating them no matter how fast you have to duck as they throw their Tonka trucks at your head, or pull your hair out of your scalp, or refuse to repeat after you, despite how many times and in how many different voices you sing the ABC song. And while their little brains are expanding, yours is shrinking with the repetitious atrophy that only someone who has heard Aladdin 300 times can attest to. Then our partners come home and we're expected to be able to maintain adult conversation and have physical relations even when we can hear Sebastian singing "Under The Sea" in our heads... Over and over and over and over...

Somewhere in between all of this we are expected to put the home in some sort of order akin to cleanliness, keep all necessities stocked, feed all residents and visitors (on a meager budget cause there is only one income), wash, swap to dryer, fold and put away clothes (and any tissues that find their way into the laundry basket). We also have to manage to not go to pot and maintain our own personal maintenance as well as get our bodies back into pre-child shape so our partner doesn't puke when they see us naked.

The stay-at-home parents do all this and more. It's stressful, repetitious, and has the possibility of being dangerous to their physical and mental well being. Is it any wonder why, when we get the chance to go grocery shopping alone we behave as though we're running screaming from the building with our hair on fire--squealing tires down the driveway and all the way up the street...?

We don't get paid, we don't get thanked. What we do almost always goes without any notice at all, unless we're doing it poorly or we have a total psychotic break. And yet we're supposed to always, always, always be thankful for the opportunity to stay home while our hard-working partner provides for us instead of allowing us to be human and realizing that stay-at-home parents need down time too.

My ex-husband constantly had that mentality even when I broke it down to him, much like I just did for you. Then again, my ex has prime real estate on Asshole Avenue.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Everyday Movie Quotes

I think I made it perfectly clear a while back that I am a huge movie lover. I don't go to the actual theater anymore, but with the advent of Netflix, Blockbuster's Total Access and Redbox, not to mention how cheaply you can buy dvd's now (if you take the time to look), there really is no need to go to the theater. I prefer to just watch the Box Office Stats on the Monday morning network news programs.

We have over 200 dvd's of our own. When I first arrived in Texas, my hubby had something like 10. I am a movie hound. So, it stands to reason, that I am also a big-time movie quoter as well. Movie quotes make it into my daily conversations to such a degree that some of the lines have (almost) stopped being quotes, and have become 'mine'.

" are too twisted for color TV.", and "...I love you more than my luggage." are no longer parts of a conversation between Olympia Dukakis' Clarice and Shirley McClaine's Wheezer in Steel Magnolias... I use them so often that men (women have usually seen Steel Magnolias) think they are my witty repertoire. And I think all of us do this. How can we not, when the writers have come up with the perfect witty or apropos rejoinder for nearly every situation in life?

Who hasn't looked at a roommate that emerges from their bedroom after a night of hardcore partying, with bed-head so severe that the only options are a VERY wide toothed comb or a military buzz cut, only to exclaim, "It's ALIVE!!!" from Dr. Frankenstein or Young Frankenstein, take your pick... Or looked at a plate of food when you were very, very hungry only to bust out your best Scottish brogue and say, "Get in my Bell-ay!" from Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me.

Could it just be me? I mean the other night someone on TV said something about "going to the mattresses" and hubby didn't know what it meant... Of course I looked at him as if his head had flipped back like a pez dispenser and little green men were popping out of his neck and offering me cheesecake...The fact that he didn't know that oft quoted iconic line from one of the most popular movies of all time made me doubt my own sanity for being married to the man. I could "make him an offer he couldn't refuse" and once he was "sleeping with the fishes" I would "leave the gun and take the cannoli". But come on, how does any red-blooded American over the age of ten NOT know those lines?

Doesn't anyone else snicker to themselves when they have to give driving directions to someone and they flash on Brad Pitt's character Floyd in True Romance? Or look at a street full of traffic in front of them and think about Jim Carey in Bruce Almighty? Or talk to their family in New Jersey while they're in Texas and say, "...people need a passport to come down here." (Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama)... OK, maybe that one is just me...

"Sweet" and "Not" became iconic to the point of making their updated definitions into the dictionary after they were put out there stoner-style in Wayne's World.

Maybe I'm just grasping at civilization with this since cows don't get movie quotes any more than hubby. Maybe it's just because I haven't seen anything that generated a great quote in a while. Where did the quotable-by-the-public wonderful one-liners go? Are we, as a nation, going to have to write our own material now?!?


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Failure to Communicate

"What we have here, is a failure to communicate." (Sorry, with the passing of Paul Newman, I had to start there.) It's as relative to love relationships as ever a line was uttered or written, even if the original context is way off base...

What do women really want in a relationship? It's a loaded question with answers so complex and contradictory that they would give Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein and Alfred Nobel all migraines in a matter of minutes.

Obviously, I can't speak for all women. We are each different and completely separate entities with needs and wants more varied than the selection at Add to this, that as life progresses there will be things that change within our own claims of what we want. It's clear to see that women should not be a category in and of itself, all lumped together, except say, as the title of a website with hundreds of thousands of subcategories available within that site. And 'what we want from a relationship' is more difficult to pin-point than a single frame of a kaleidoscope with a 3 foot evolves continually and without a discernible set pattern.

After discussions with many of my friends for many years, I will share with you some of what our small subset of women is looking to find in the qualities of their partner. If you agree or disagree, feel free to leave a comment...either way, you prove my point.

Honesty is huge. But it has to come with a healthy dose of tact. This is especially important when broaching subjects that are difficult for whomever you are talking to. Sometimes the tact is optional, just get to the point, don't meander. The honesty is non-negotiable, but the tact factor is completely dependent on the situation and the woman.

Wishy-washy on a partner is always unattractive. If you can't fully commit to a single point of view, how can we ever trust you to fully commit to us? This behavior, if not worthy of an immediate rejection from us, will definitely get you into the 'short term keeper' file. Changing your mind after thoughtful consideration however, is attractive and appreciated nearly to the point of being applauded. We love a man that can admit that his original point of view needed review and change for whatever reason, but you need to have a reason, to avoid the wishy-washy category previously discussed, or the 'Yes Man' syndrome whereby you agree with us and do whatever we want nearly every time. It may be a little refreshing and somewhat heady at first, but eventually, you will be seen as an indecisive pussy. Yes men will also find themselves in the disposable category, because of the next thing we want...

We want you to be our rock. When the seas of life become too rough and tumble, we want to be able to hold on to you to keep from drowning. Like a rock, you must be stable on your own, sturdy enough to weather what life and your woman will throw at you, and have just a few cracks to allow your real emotions to come out and be seen by your woman. An occasional tear-up or bout of insecurity that we can talk you through, not a gaping chasm that sucks every scrap of our energy dry to keep you from bawling like a hungry infant. Those cracks also allow you to give us the emotional awareness that we need from you... like just coming up and giving us a hug when you know we've had a bad day, instead of only giving us one when we come to you first. That is emotionally closed, and will be seen as rejection; which will hit your woman harder than you know, and will spell the end of your relationship, even if it takes years for the final split.

We want to be your friend. But, we don't only want to be 'just one of the guys'...someone you punch in the arm out of joy because your team just scored. We do want the part of the friendship that has to do with respect for the other person, and cheering them on and having their back even if you think they're making a mistake. You'd do it for your buds wouldn't you? But, we want to be your Best Friend...just like grade school. We want to see the soft side that as your woman, only we get to see, and if you've gone so far as to tell us that you love us, then we want some mush. Not total mush, that's repulsive to most modern women. I mean good mush. That would be the look of respect and adoration that you have when you look at your woman. That would be reaching out and holding your woman's hand for no reason whatsoever, except that you want to be a little closer to her. Then there's the kind of conversations that you only have with your woman, since she's your best friend...

Whatever type of conversations or communications you have with your woman, she needs to know that her words and opinions are as important to you, as you want yours to be to her. Not just soap-boxing and expecting her to listen like a cult follower. Also, you need to demonstrate this point (of her opinion being important) by saying some of the most needed-by-a-woman words you will ever learn to utter: "What do you think about that?" The qualifier to that is this; you also need to give her time to answer you fully, not just thinking in your head over everything she says so you can inject it the second she takes a breath, thereby cutting her off, negating the 'your important' progress you almost made, and diminishing her self esteem and her desire to stay in the relationship with you. If you don't think she's important enough to listen to, then what the hell is she doing there? I guarantee you that she will eventually start asking herself this question if you negate her voice to fill the air with the sound of your own on a regular basis. And when she is passionate about a course of action, you may want to consider doing it her way. If you ask for the opinion and decide to go another way, at least acknowledge whatever valid points she made. Deciding on the course of action before you even talk to her makes her opinion a moot point, she will know it and resent that more than if you never asked her opinion at all.

And yes, as Carrie Bradshaw once put it, we want the "Za-Za-Zoo". In this respect, I'm not going to lie; we want the fairy tale, combined with the XXX rated movie. We want the 'stolen' little (slightly inappropriate) touches that no one else sees, even though there are other people there. It makes us feel that we are appealing to you and that will go a long way towards getting sex from us later on when it's more appropriate. A little look, or a private joke or a little frisky teasing throughout the day will also accomplish these things for you, because you will keep her desirability to you in the forefront of her mind thereby making her feel sexy in her own right. And when you do have sex, make sure it's physical intimacy that concentrates a goodly portion of it's time on pleasing and fulfilling the needs of your woman, not only getting your rocks off in the quickest time possible. A once in a while quickie is one thing and can spice things up considerably, but when that's all she's getting, she'll get colder than the Arctic very, very quickly.

And if the shoe is on the other foot, and you aren't feeling all hot and bothered for whatever reason, you can't neglect the sexuality of your woman. If you do, she will neglect it as well. Legs and other parts of her anatomy will get unattractively hairy, she'll stop doing sit-ups and start using the time to learn how to make home-made donuts. Soon she'll be out shopping for a wardrobe in a larger size. Getting the point? You will start a cycle that you will not want to be party to once you get past whatever is causing your mental-E.D. Remember this, your woman always wants you to treat her like you want her sexually. If her man doesn't see the sexy in her, she will, subconsciously, do away with the sexy so that No One can see it, even herself; that is if she sticks around...

There is so much more... but those are large ones that I wanted to convey. And yes, I do realize that we are a lot of work... I know we are confusing as fuck. I get it. But you are what you are, and we are what we are. Neither of us can help how we're hard-wired and everyone is just trying to get through his or her day the best way they know how. Besides, the women I know aren't all running around trying to figure out their man. Most of us figured out our man within the first week, it comes naturally to us--like blinking our eyes. Men, however, tend to be vocal about their extreme confusion when dealing with their female counterparts, so I thought I'd help y'all out. Which, in turn, helps us out. See how that works?

Now men, when you finish reading this, have your woman read it. Then ask her what she thinks, listen to her answer and look at her like the most succulent rib-eye steak wrapped in bacon that you've ever seen as she answers you. Be honest but tactful when you tell her that she is different from the girl you first met, finish with how you love her more now than ever before and whisk her off to bed...

Are we communicating yet?