Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Why? It's not that I dislike the job; I actually love it - a lot! It's not that I'm tired of the kids; on the contrary I enjoy them all.
Nope, it's something much more nostalgic; I'm a romantic about summer vacations. My son is already a devotee of downtime, so he's the one that started the end of school countdown. He loves school and his friends, but he's looking forward to the easy living of summertime.
What's on tap for summer? Hopefully not much. The couple of months reprieve will fly by fast even though there will be days I hear the "B" word; boredom. No big plans really; plans are not the reason we're counting down. In fact, it's exactly the opposite; days on end without any plans!
But if you really want to know why we are looking forward to the day oh-so-soon when school's out for summer, go ask Alice; he'll tell you the way it is.
And in nine and a half days, as is my custom, I will crank the volume, open the windows and the sunroof and let Alice Cooper's anthem of summer pour out of my car as my son and I leave school behind for a couple of months. I'll try to keep my arm-waving and seat-dancing to a minimum because the 10 year-old seems to have a lower embarrassment threshold than he used to, and frankly the old Volvo's shocks have seen better days and she rides low enough as it is.
Or maybe I won't. Nine and a half baby; nine and a half!
P.S. RE: Blogathon 2011
Since this is the final post for the May Blogathon, I didn't want to end without mentioning how much fun I've had and how much the other bloggers have inspired me. It has been enlightening to realize I can find time to write every day. It taught me that a plan and some structure would be immensely useful to me as a writer and enhance the experience for readers too. I've learned more about the technology involved and know I need to learn even more. There are some really incredible bloggers and writers out there with interesting and original ideas and content; finding them was made easier because of the blogathon. I can't thank Michelle Rafter of WordCount enough for creating this event and putting so much time and energy into this endeavor! This was expertly done and I got a ton of value out of it because of all the work Michelle put into it. Though I haven't had much time to read as many of the bloggers as I wanted to, I'm hoping to go back through and read a lot in the next few days while I take a little breather to think about the purpose of my blog and do some fine-tuning.
More of which will occur a little more than NINE and a HALF DAYS from now. Ahhh.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
On this evening before Memorial Day, I'm taking a bit of time to reflect on the heroes that impact my ability to live a free life. Some I know and love - lots of friends and family members, the number is staggering, have served, or are serving in the military. I send love, respect and gratitude to them and their families for the sacrifices made - daily sacrifices with tremendous impact.
And, there are many I never knew; men and women from the many battles, conflicts and wars that have formed our nation's existence, and continue to shape us well into our children's and grandchildren's future.
Tomorrow is the final day of a three day weekend for many folks. It is the prelude to summer and as such is the kick-off weekend for camping, boating, hiking, beach trips, and barbecues; or for shopping and catching up on rest. However you spend it, I urge you to take a moment and remember those who won't be able to have a barbecue with their families because they are deployed somewhere else. Or those who made the supreme sacrifice and gave their life so we could continue to live ours as we have become accustomed.
Take a moment and reflect on our freedom and the cost of acquiring and maintaining it. Remember to fly your flag appropriately. Thank a soldier - of the past, of the present and those of the future. Do celebrate the day with family and friends, but also teach your children about its meaning. If it's possible, visit a war memorial and read inscriptions. Have a dialogue with them so they might begin to understand how we got to be where we are at this moment in history.
Discuss what heroism means to you, who your heroes are and why, and mention that heroes tend to be at their most heroic when no one else is watching.
"How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!" ~Maya Angelou
"Each man is a hero and an oracle to somebody." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Saturday, May 28, 2011
So, this is the calm before the second storm. I'm taking a moment to put away food, clean up and blog before midnight. Even though I know the boys will probably still be awake at that time, I hope to head off to dreamland a wee bit earlier. This party mama is P-O-O-P-E-D. I'll take a couple of deep breaths outside as I gaze at our shrine and then pop a little sweet 'sushi' in my mouth to stoke my fire and keep it burning through the evening.
However, nothing stokes me quite like this little guy; a peaceful moment amid the celebration that is the reason my husband and I do all of this. True love baby, true, deep, abiding and unconditional love of this little ninja with a heart of gold. Happy Birthday baby!
Friday, May 27, 2011
Luckily my kid loves the whole birthday theme concept and is a willing co-conspirator. We've had a safari party with an eight foot long snake cake, two turtles made from cupcakes, a couple of castles, a farm scene, cupcakes with Bakugans on them and an Egyptian pyramid cake. This year we are back to cupcakes, topped with "sushi" made from rice cereal treats (pictures tomorrow). There is no mistaking these cakes for a bakery cake; no I'm just not that much of a perfectionist- notice the leaning pyramid above - and I'm not very artistic or neat. But a lot of homemade frosting, some candies and a few sprinkles and the cakes take on a special luster.
It's one of the reasons why my son continues to want his birthday party at home; most party locales won't let you bring a homemade cake, so we are destined to challenge the limits of my not-really-close-to-an-ace-of cake skills. I might not be a great decorator, but my heart is in the right place. And frankly, it's all about the homemade chocolate cake. The one made all those years ago is still the only cake I make on birthdays; it just morphs into different shapes.
I have my friend Michelle to thank for the one bowl wonder cake recipe, although she might not remember why. She gave me a bunch of old Taste of Home magazines one day and this cake recipe was in one of them. I still have the magazine just because of this recipe. It's not fancy, but it's easy and it definitely has that homemade taste.
Well, the cupcakes just came out of the oven. I'll frost them and top them with their 'sushi' pieces in the morning. I'll file the magazine away until the next occasion requiring a cake and head off to rest before final party preparations tomorrow morn.
As a parting gift, I pass on to you, the chocolate one-bowl cake recipe that truly is a piece of cake to bake. Enjoy!
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Since we form up according to rank, my son is toward the front of the room, and I am in the back. This may be a problem. He keeps turning around to check on the old lady. He is coaching me at every turn and giving me the thumbs up when I do well. It's very cute, but he needs to be looking at the teacher and not at me, and it's harder to block what you don't see coming because you're not looking. However, I'm going to have to trust the teacher to handle that because in class I'm just another student; not mom.
I'll admit it is incredibly sweet of him to make sure I'm okay, coach me during breaks, and tell me I'm doing a good job when I get it right. But there is one area where I've got the little tykes, mine included, absolutely beat! I'm stubborn and don't like to be defeated. The young pups sure do whine, moan, pant and puff when they have to run, do sit-ups, jumping jacks or push-ups. Oh please.
You'd think they were making them run a marathon! Since I've actually WALKED (note I did not say run) a marathon; and, though I've been AWOL lately, have been a cross-fitter; I can do the little bit of 'work' required without kvetching. Okay, so I came in last while running lines, but I completed the push-ups and sit-ups; not that I'm calling the young ones out or anything. Oh alright I am calling them out. I mean back when I was a kid we had to run long distances in the snow, barefoot, up hill, dragging sleds full of... um, uh, well - siblings. The point is that back in the day we weren't wussies; were we?
Yep, I think this will be good fun for me and the boy. I'm just thrilled he actually wants me to do this with him. He's turning ten in a couple of days and I know, with the teen years in sight, it is quite possible my very existence alone could be cause for embarrassment at any given moment.
For now I'm going to play along with him and play with everything I've got. Maybe I'll get lucky and he will remain as proud of me as he is now, and I in turn will have multiple reasons to remain as proud of him as I am today. Wouldn't that be a kick?
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Thanks to my son's fourth grade teacher, I may learn the location of all 50 states just shy of my 50th birthday! If you asked me tonight, I could tell you where Texas, Minnesota, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and North Dakota are located. Ask me tomorrow and I can't promise anything because it's a crap shoot which memory I'll have access to at any given moment; short-term or long-term. It's rarely both at the same time. So far we've done 30 states and is being tested on ten more tomorrow. They are saving the west for last! Get it? West rhymes with best? Oh God I'm tired, aren't I?
After discussing the places where grandpa was born (Nebraska), where the statue of an ancestor is located (South Dakota), where his great aunt lives (Colorado), my cousin lives (New Mexico) and where Toto is no longer (Kansas), I pouted because I haven't been to ANY of those states. Now I'm feeling deprived. All because of fourth grade homework.
Well time to move on to studying the systems of the body. Right up my alley if I might say so; having been a phys ed major. I don't mean to brag, but my commercial and industrial fitness/exercise science BS was hot in the 80s. Not very lucrative, but like all BS, it had it's shining moment. Who knew I would get a chance to light it up again lo these many decades later?
Thank you Mr. M! Although I didn't really get a chance to show-off my expertise as the kid already had great notes to work from, so I was relegated to the role of flashcard question writer. I was impressed with what he knows, and how thorough his notes were. Frankly I don't remember learning the Latin names for parts of the ear. Now that I think about it, I'm not sure I even learned about parts of the ear. I would think that would be part of anatomy and physiology wouldn't you? Hmmm. Perhaps because the ear doesn't actually partake in any commercial fitness related activities it wasn't deemed mission critical info?
I'm glad the kid is being tested on these topics instead of me. I can't hold much of anything these days. To my point; I require more potty breaks in a day than the average kindergartner. I've also had far fewer accidents than they have. Winning! I'm just sayin'...
Fourth grade seems harder than I remember it. The books seem heavier too; the backpack containing all the day's work is probably a good third of my son's height and weight. I guess it's all worth it. He is definitely learning more in fourth grade than I remember ever learning.
But then again, as I said before, I don't remember much.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Only, as I sat here trying to think of favorite places to write, I realized I need to get out more. I can't think of five favorite places where I've successfully written. Oh sure, I can imagine quite a few dreamy writing locations , but none that I've been to. I don't know what it says about my personality, but the first thoughts I had were of places where the actual act of writing has been difficult.
So, I'm going to do my version of a top five; breaking it down into three groups. Without further adieu, my list for tonight will consist of: Places I've tried to write and found it difficult; spaces in which I have written and written fairly happily; and most importantly, the places where I feel like a writer and find joy in the moment.
Here it is: The "This is S#!t" list; followed by the "Where I Usually Sit" list; and then the "Let It Be" list.
This is S#!t
Now before you assume I'm going to hell, let's admit that sometimes inspiration comes from likely places at inappropriate times. No, I've never whipped out my laptop, or notebook to start writing in church, but I have clandestinely written a quick note or two on my phone. However, if I'm inclined to continue, it's impossible because I mostly type nonsense words with my too-fat-for-the-keypad thumbs which leads to cussing, which as I've been told, is not acceptable in church; even in the Unitarian one that I liberally frequent. Who knew?
I have absolutely no explanation for this other than the fact that it is too damn quiet! Church is noisier. I have tried to write at the library, taking advantage of the free Wi-Fi access and expertly located coffee and doughnut kiosk in the lobby, but I just can't do it. As soon as I sit down at a table and take out my laptop I develop a list of tics and fidgets that would make Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets look like a stoned surfer dude becoming one with the sand. I shift in the horribly unergonomic wooden chair, I scoot it in, then back a little, move my laptop slightly left, angle it inward to cut down glare, realize the guy next to me can now see my screen, so angle it directly toward the window now maximizing the glare, check the cord to make sure it's snugly plugged, put my purse on the back of my chair, moving it to the floor between my feet, shoving aside my briefcase to make room for my purse which makes it feel crowded by my feet, so I shift in my seat again. After all this I'm exhausted and decide I want a doughnut and coffee, which is in the lobby. I can't very well walk away from my laptop in search of refreshment, so I unplug, pack up and head toward the lobby realizing all is now lost and I should just go home; after the doughnut of course.
Where I Usually Sit
Despite the fact that my office has once again become the dumping ground for all sorts of stuff that doesn't have a home of it's own, my desk and computer in here are comfortable. In addition, the lighting is sufficient and my screen is a size that doesn't drive me to drink more than one or two glasses of wine during the process. It does have some lovely touches like my salt lamp (ooh I think I'll turn it on right now and enjoy it, but I should move the papers away first so I don't accidentally heat things up tonight). Also there is no view to distract me. There's a window alright, but it's covered with a broken shade that can't be lifted. Sometimes when there is sun outside, I prop up one side of the shade with a stick, and it's all good until the shade begins it's slippery descent and the stick falls in the middle of my desk breaking the writing reverie. Then I'm done.
This is a recent discovery! Not the bed itself, but actually being able to write in bed. I can't do it for too long because it's not as comfortable as it sounds. On weekend mornings it is heaven to bring a cup of coffee to the bedroom, prop myself up on pillows, grab the lap friendly desk and fire up the computer. Everything is just dandy until I decide to turn on the television and check the news, which leads to flipping channels, and infomercials... Just a minute, I have to go get my wallet; I think I need those Pajama Jeans to wear while writing in bed. Don't you agree?
Let It Be
I could really dream big here and think of all the exotic places I would love to visit and experience, but the truth is that when I think of those places, I want to live the experience and write about it later. Sure, a little writing here and there is fine, but if I'm heading to a tropical paradise I'm not lugging my laptop out to the beach, or poolside. It's too much to worry about; thieves, sand, water and tipping cocktails.
My favorite writing locales have people gathering in twos or more and conversing. They are accessible for real-life quickie get-aways, have ample food and drink and clean bathrooms. They allow me a little anonymity within a community. Yes, place like coffee shops, cafes, delis, and lunch counters come readily to mind for obvious reasons. But one of my new favorite places to write is in a wine bar during a tasting, especially in the summer if there is outdoor seating. Now we're talking! A perfect observation point (akin to a wildlife blind), to eavesdrop on intimate conversations, which get easier to hear as we all make our way through the tasting list. The other perks include; wine consistently appears in my glass, bread and cheese seem plentiful, and being served this way allows me to plop my writer-self and this setting into any city or country I may fantasize about at the moment
Oh yes, let it be so!
Monday, May 23, 2011
Just like tonight. We went in for a microwave cart. Sounds innocent enough, right? On our way to the kitchen area, we sat on every couch and chair that gave us that come hither look. There were many sleek, fresh and inviting pieces teasing us to betray our un-Swedish, and yet still serviceable couch and chairs.
My flesh was weak. I was a furniture-testing whore. I am ashamed. Forgive me ye old purplish-overstuffed-and-over-sized-for-the-living-room couch that I once adored. Forgive me reddish-microfiber-sleeper-sofa and one-and-a-half-sized chair that fits a one-and-a-half-sized ass, for I have sinned.
Yet I refuse to live a life of regrets even for impulsive and ill-conceived desires. What has been done cannot be undone. I've felt the rush of a new lust, and I no longer see you, my purple and reddish cohorts, as titillating enough for me.
Alas, neither my bank account, nor my Volvo wagon, was able to accommodate my hedonistic desires. So live with you I must; though I no longer feel pleasured by your embrace.
Still the wanton seed has been planted. My derriere has been cradled by the firm support of the doesn't-have-to-try-too-hard-low-profile-and-oh-so-sleek leather sofa. My eyes have wandered over it's proportionally correct arms and legs and lingered lustily on the ever-so-slightly-arched back.
The seven year itch is getting under my skin; I want you.
Let the chase begin.
Time for a garage sale.
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Just another WordPress.com site
Today was a no school day, so our son climbed into bed with us this morning as we were watching the news. He commented on a commercial stating a product’s price of $9.99 and he asked me this:
If something cost $9.99 and I had $10.00, would I really want the penny for change? Absolutely I told him! I started to go into the whole “a penny saved is a penny earned” scenario and how all those pennies can add up to something eventually. I told him how I once went to a coffee shop and the cashier, a very young lady, rang up my purchase of $3.95. She gave me back a dollar and I just stood there dumbfounded for a minute. I asked her for my nickel and she said, and I kid you not, “You mean, you really want your nickel? What can you do with a nickel?” True – not much, but I said “Doesn’t really matter what I want to do with it, but it does matter that I get to choose to do something with it because it is MY nickel, is it not?” She had that air of ‘whatever’ about her and I’m sure she thought I was a cheap old lady – okay cheap middle-aged lady, but the point is it was my change and not hers. I was going to give a tip – even though I came up to the counter, paid and waited there to pick up my drink. Frankly, I’ve always wondered why that warranted a tip, but I was planning to up until she acted like five cents wasn’t worth giving to me and I realized she didn’t have an appreciation for money – specifically my money – so why waste it on her?
Change – asked for, or not – embrace it, gather it and build upon it. You never know what you might be able to do with it.
Tonight, as I was about to write this post after watching Tangled with the family, I discovered that Blogger was out of commission. I panicked for a moment, then went to the Google group for the blogathon and read how others were handling the ‘outage’. A few days ago I was still trying to figure out how to read, use and post on the discussion threads and bit by bit I’ve figured it out – things are starting to add up!
I thought about writing my post and then waiting to see if Blogger came back up, but it was suggested it might be a good time to try WordPress. Embracing change – even when it is thrust upon me (it’s always worth something, right?), I forged ahead, or more appropriately WordPress(ed) on!
Later, the son was flipping a penny and asking me to call heads or tails. We played this for a while and he started to just set the penny down on my nightstand. He stopped and instead headed for his bedroom. He dropped the penny in his piggy bank. The kid has a few cents, and immeasurable sense.
Cha ching! Motto: Little changes, over time, add up to something greater.
Here I come WordPress – here I come. Change is good.
More time. What a bunch of crap. There is no such thing as more time. Time is time; sixty seconds in a minute, sixty minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day. It's not like we can 'super size' those units of measurement by cramming in a few extra seconds, minutes or hours. The only thing we can do is fill those bits of time with the things that matter most.
I'm reminded of the Stephen Covey concept of putting the big rocks in first.
Every now and then I remember that analogy when I'm buzzing around doing things that don't matter much, but can't seem to make myself stop. Covey's whole premise is that if you put the big rocks in first, the little rocks will be able to fall into the cracks and crevices in between. However, if you fill up your container with all the little pebbles and rocks first, the big rocks probably won't fit.
Now that I have a doomsday reprieve, it's time to really think: Is what I'm doing with my time really my heart's desire, or just keeping me busy enough not to ask what my heart truly desires? Good question. Tough question, but good question. It's one that can't be asked just once in a lifetime. It's a question to be asked over and over because the answers change as I change.
It's also a question that is consistently being asked in a class I'm taking right now called "Ignite the Spark (TM)". A very good, soul-searching, success-pattern defining class developed by heartspark, facilitated by a woman who does truly evoke magic, Susan Clark. It is helping me own the unique gifts I bring to the party of life. I finally decided to squeeze the class into the whirl of life's busyness, and I'll admit it is sometimes downright difficult to get into the proper head space for the rigorous questioning and answering, but the other participants come ready to play, so I must too.
It's time to devote myself to my homework for "Ignite the Spark (TM)"; asking myself the big question: What do I want? Of course there is a lot more to the homework than just this one question, but the question starts me on the path to gather those big rocks. The heavy lifting begins now.
Want to join me?
What is your heart telling you?
What are your big rocks?
Saturday, May 21, 2011
I should also point out that tonight was his closing performance as Chris in his school's production of the musical "There's a Monster in My Closet" and it was a blast! He's well on his way to the Showman badge.
So, without further adieu, I introduce you to King Singebeard and Ruby Goldfire.
Me: King Singebeard, how did you and Ruby meet?
King: Um, I hatched Ruby from an egg I found lying in my garden.
Me: Ruby, was King Singebeard the first thing you saw when you came out of your shell?
Ruby: Well, I saw his boots first, but I guess that counts as him being the first thing I saw, but then I saw a dragon next to him. I thought he was my dad.
Me: King, does that mean that dragons imprint on the first thing they see, and assume it's their mother?
King: Actually, I should've said this before, but I raise and train dragons as a hobby, sort of like people who breed and show dogs. They will, or won't imprint - sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. Luckily I was quick enough to find Ruby's real mother so Ruby saw her first, and then I told her I was not her dad; I was her mother's trainer.
Me: Ruby, did you know what he meant by trainer? Did he train your mother and other dragons to be kind to people in the kingdom?
Ruby: I didn't know what he meant by 'training' at first, but then my mother explained it to me later. Training meant that he trained us to be kind and to rescue people in danger.
Me: So, Ruby, how did you come to be known as the three-headed singing dragon?
Ruby: When I was young, I had a very good voice, so my mother sent me to have an audience with King Singebeard, and he started giving me lessons on singing. Luckily, he was a really good singer and he knew how to teach me to harmonize all three of my voices.
Me: Ruby, what kinds of songs do you sing?
Ruby: I can sing a few very common songs like "Jingle Bells", "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", and "London Bridge is Burning Down".
Me: Don't you mean "London Bridge is Falling Down"?
Ruby: Mmmm, not if you're a dragon!
Me: King Singebeard, how many dragons have you trained?
King: Ruby was my 200th dragon, but I have now hatched two additional dragons. Once they are trained, it will be 202!
Me: So, King, how did get the name Singebeard?
King: Well, it is actually a very funny and embarrassing story. When I first became King, I was learning to train my first dragon, and things went a little in the wrong direction. I was trying to get the dragon to toast a marshmallow for s'mores, but the dragon didn't have good eyesight and thought my newly grown beard was a marshmallow, and toasted my beard instead.
Me: King, where does Ruby perform these days?
King: She has just auditioned for a singing competition. Perhaps you've heard of it? It's "Dragon Idol". We are currently waiting to see if she got into the competition.
Me: King, can you introduce me to your two newest dragons?
King: Right now they are probably sleeping. Because they are young, they take many naps. We cannot show them to you now, but I can tell you their names. One of them is called Marshmallow because he is golden and puffy just like a toasted marshmallow. The other one is called Magma because he has very dark red scales, and a temper! You just never know when he's going to blow - fire that is.
Me: Well thank you both King Singebeard and Ruby Goldfire for taking the time to chat with me this evening. I know you've both had a very long day, as has your puppeteer!
King: You're welcome, and now we must get back to training Ruby's voice for the competition. Be sure to watch and see if Ruby made it on to the show. Goodnight.
Ruby: "There's a sad little clanging from the clock in the hall... ahhhhhh, good nighhhhhhhhht. Good nigggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhttttttttt. Good niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhttttttttt."
Special thanks to my very helpful and creative son for playing along with me this evening! I could not have blogged without you tonight.
Friday, May 20, 2011
and drink coffee while driving than while
running, so clearly I won!
On Work: "Be pleasant until ten o'clock in the morning and the rest of the day will take care of itself." ~Elbert Hubbard.
On Lunch: "Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." ~ Douglas Adams.
On Afternoons: “It's an ill plan that cannot be changed." ~ Latin Proverb.
Always write it in pencil.
On Second Thought: “If you don't design your own life plan, Chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much" ~ Jim Rohn.
Onward: "I really want to play Princess Leia. Stick some big pastries on my head. Now that would be interesting." ~ Ewan McGregor.
but next time we all get pasties - er,
I mean pastries, right?
On the Money: "Payday came and with it beer." ~Rudyard Kipling.
Guess which way I'm going tonight?
On My Pillow: "Three meals plus bedtime make four sure blessings a day." ~ Mason Cooley.
Oh, and don't forget the Nutella; that is six...
and seven... and eight...
- oh hell goodnight already.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
"One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want
is that we never direct our focus;
we never concentrate our power.
Most people dabble their way through life,
never deciding to master anything in particular." -Tony Robbins
Today had the potential to be a very stressful day: Map test, debut of school play, play practice after school, and Tae Kwon Do belt test. All of this on not enough sleep because last night, after my son did his homework, we played Battleship and then danced to some old disco music, 'cuz that's what I like to do. In my defense, he was pretty tightly wound due to a lot of activities culminating this week, so we had some energy to work out. He didn't get to bed until about 10 p.m. and I know that was way too late, but we were having a great time together. However, waking up tired this morning, the day could have easily gone south.
It didn't; turned out to be a great day for him. The map test went well, the play was great, practice went smoothly and he decided to finish his homework while waiting during practice, then off to the belt test which he was extremely excited for. Nervous, no - excited, absolutely!
Tae Kwon Do is something he's been wanting to do for quite a while. Tonight was his second test and, for the second time, he got the blue star for highest score for his belt level (more sewing for mom), and he was recognized as the best tester, receiving the highest score out of the whole class.
Now, this is where you might think I'm going to brag about his skills and ability and how he just nailed the test, and I'd love to, but that is not the part that impressed me most. You might even think I would be impressed by the way he walked through this day it with confidence, serenity and absolute joy. Yes, I was, but that wasn't the best part either.
What impressed me most, is the way he responded when he received his star, recognition, and new belt. Even though I knew he was absolutely thrilled and excited, he didn't bust out a big grin or wiggle at all. He just smiled ever so slightly and humbly, and his eyes held a soft, yet strong and steady gaze. It was the look of someone who knows they worked their butt off for something important to them, and it paid off. It was the look of pride in self coupled with tremendous humility in the moment.
Right then I saw a glimpse into the future; the man he will become. I had to catch my breath. Yes, there will be rough times; he's had a few this year. There will be challenges to meet, compromises to make, personalities to negotiate, and obstacles to overcome, but he's learning how. He knows what he wants and that he must work hard for it. Tonight he saw how that kind of work pays off - not for anyone else, but for himself.
Many times I look at my son, see a very wise old soul, and wonder how I got so lucky. I'm not sure who's teaching who, because when I truly listen to what he has to say, it's so much better than anything I could come up with. Yes, the kid takes my breath away at least once every day, but today he filled me with such awe that I'm still breathless.
As I put this sweet child to bed, I will bow to him in love and respect and kiss the living daylights out of him. Then, I will bow to the universe for this most precious gift, and most grateful.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
It was my senior year in high school, and although I have an overall memory of the event, the details of the actual fallout escape me, except for a couple of people I heard a lot about over the course of years:
Harry Truman, the crotchety old man who owned and operated the Spirit Lake Lodge, and refused to leave his home and mountain; and David Johnston, the geologist who first reported the eruption and whose last words heard were, "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!"
I had been to Spirit Lake two years earlier for a leadership camp. The area was breathtakingly beautiful. That was my first thought on the morning of the 18th as I heard about, and began to see the effects of, the eruption of the mountain.
Years later, my husband, son and I stopped at the Johnston Ridge observatory; the first time I had physically seen the area since I was 16 years old. To see the way the landscape and environment had changed, even though years had passed and plants and animals had returned, was sobering.
Today, 31 years later, I honor the memory of the 57 victims - some boldly within the danger zone, and so many others who believed, as did the experts, that they were a safe distance away. One never knows the true force nature has at her disposal.
The beauty of the mountain is different today than it was then, but it's still a beauty.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Looking at the list of songs I downloaded tonight, I'm wondering if there's something akin to palmistry out there to divine one's mood through a history of music downloads. Shall we call it iPodistry?
Tonight I downloaded the following:
1. Freak Out
2. You Dropped a Bomb On Me
3. Disco Inferno
4. Ring My Bell
5. When Doves Cry
6. Car Wash
7. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Subtle or not so subtle subtext here? Or could this just mean that I'm a woman of a certain age (which I am) who remembers these songs from her youth with joy and nostalgia (which I do).
But, I hate to discourage analysis and a good story, so let the '-iPodistry' begin, and let me know what you come up with. It might be much more interesting that what is actually going on!
Monday, May 16, 2011
Then, let's pretend that the prose is so incredibly witty, wonderful and wise that it becomes one of those little ditties that gets copied and pasted and sent around Facebook and Twitter, over and over until I become something of an urban legend. Or, let's pretend, that as with all urban legends, my name gets lost in the translation and this is somehow then attributed to someone who knows how to handle their online presence - someone like say Ashton Kutcher.
Let's pretend that I'm too busy to realize that my words have been usurped, not by Ashton himself, but by the masses, eager to give Ashton praise for being oh so clever and coy. He will deny having written such inane drivel and try desperately to clear up this whole stupid mess.
What? DRIVEL???????? Oh now Ashton, you've gone too far - you've gone, like, two and a half times tooooooooooooo far! I'll have my people call your people and we will stop all of this right now.
Let's pretend I had my own "people" to call anyone's people, and if I had them, I'm sure they would want to be paid for their "people-ness". In order to pay them, I would have to have written so many other things of substance and worth, not just quippy little bits picked up by non-paying online sites. If I were writing those, I would likely not have time to have written something that would make social media rounds, and be attributed to celebrity tweeters.
So, you see my conundrum?
Maybe Ashton could get me a deal on one of those cameras he promotes? And, we'd get to be great friends and Demi would give me all her secrets for how to stay so slim and gorgeous. If we're pretending, let's also pretend I'm younger than her....I said we are pretending.
Like I said, let's pretend I have a great topic to write about tonight. Although, I'm sure using Ashton Kutcher's name in and of itself is likely to get me some extra Google hits and make this a self-fulfilling prophecy of the social media kind.
Let's pretend anyway...
Sunday, May 15, 2011
You're safe because this is the former. So family friendly in fact that the reason my bed is vibrating is because my son is bouncing up and down on it, while asking me if I'm done writing my blog yet. To which I had to say no. Because in spite of the fact that he made a sign and hung it on my robe on the bedpost, I've been sitting here in bed, laptop at the ready - waiting for an idea. La di da di da... waiting and waiting.
While I waited, I clicked through a number of cable channels deciding that I must have the Malibu Pilates Chair and the exercise DVDs. I also must have the Genie Bra and the Zumba Fitness DVDs with the little hand-held shaker stick thingies. Then, because I never buy anything without researching it further, I popped on to Amazon and started searching exercise DVDs. Did I mention I was sitting on my a$$ in bed while doing all this?
On Amazon I found lots and lots of things I absolutely and positively must have! Like, the above Pilates chair, several fun and inspiring dance instructional DVDs, a couple of e-books and ooh, I really want that Zumba Wii game - really, really want that. Relax honey (aka my husband) if you're reading this; I did not purchase anything because your son saved the day.
Now, my son is waiting patiently for me to finish my "work" (aka - writing this blog today). He's sitting here beside me now, reading the comics, watching the Cooking Channel's Food(ography), and reading over my shoulder making color commentary as I write. The bed is still sort of vibrating because he's a kid and rarely sits completely still.
I'm done now. Ooh wait; I just saw an ad for a Tempur-Pedic bed! Hmm. Even though mama can dance, there are times I like to sit on my fanny and I think having my weight equally distributed, for once in my life, sounds like a good thing.
I wonder if Amazon sells Tempur-Pedics?
Saturday, May 14, 2011
It's the weekend, and this weekend, just like every other weekend, my whole family naively hopes for two days of rest. It just ain't gonna happen this weekend, or next, or.... Unfortunately I can see our scheduled events a few weeks out and there isn't much down time coming our way for a month or so.
This makes my son very cranky (truth be told it makes my husband and me cranky too). Children, if allowed, still have the ability to play, relax and not feel like they have to accomplish something, or fulfill all expectations. Sadly though, most families, like mine, have a laundry list of things that have to be done, errands that need to be run, events where they have to show, and don't forget the lawns they need to mow! Cutting grass really gripes my, my... you know what.
| “We're so busy watching out for what's just ahead of us that|
we don't take time to enjoy where we are.”
- Calvin and Hobbes quote
Busy, busy, busy - yep everyone is these days and there really isn't any feasible way to fit it "all" in - somethings got to give. Usually, the recoup, relax and recover aspect of a weekend is the part that gives way because we don't get to that until everything has been crossed off the list.
Anyone out there every crossed everything off their list? Anyone? Didn't think so. Me either.
I'm not a religious person by definition, but there is something to be said for a day of rest. Keeping one day at least, a day to slow it all down and just kick back and hang out. Commune with your higher power if that's your thing, or just sit with your family, or dog, or yourself!
A year or so ago, my family was dedicated to breaking bread, lighting candles and celebrating Shabbat every week. My son really looked forward to this quiet time to wind down with the family and it really set the mood for the weekend. We didn't always take a whole 24 hours to recoup, but we certainly took some time to slow down, and the strangest thing happened. We still seemed to get just as much of the really necessary stuff done as we did before.
Why? Because when we slowed down for a bit and gave ourselves a break, we recharged the battery and were more focused, efficient, and way more fun to be around - a bonus! We were able to look at all those hurdles and instead of just a knee-jerk reaction to get over them, we did an end-run around some that didn't matter to us. Knowing the difference between what's important to you, and being able to say no to things that aren't, takes a little bit of clarity. Clarity is easier to come by when you take time to inhale and exhale completely.
As we near the end of the school year, my son is looking forward to a summer BREAK - an honest to goodness break. I've been perusing the parks catalog for all kinds of activities and camps for him to participate in, but he is not interested. Nope - he wants to do something that I remember doing when I was his age. Play! Can you imagine? He just wants to play, run around, read, hang out and have time to do something really and truly important for a young mind - experience boredom. I think that's a worthy goal for a 10 year old.
Proper training for any new endeavor is important, so perhaps we should try it for a weekend first? You know, like a warm up.
Friday, May 13, 2011
“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you're going to have something special.” - Jim Valvano
Life is like eating an ice cream cone.
One minute its packed firmly in place and you are filled with joy and anticipation. The next it's dripping all over the place and making a sticky mess. There are days you can lick it, and days you lose your grip.
But no matter what, you have to just dig in and start tasting it. Don't try to save it for later, because each moment melts away faster than you ever imagined.
So, this is for my son, who just last week, smiled and laughed and enjoyed his cone. Until he dropped it. Then there were tears; lots and lots of tears.
So this week's cone was handled with more intention and delight. Intention and delight; good words for a good week.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
For the last two years I have participated in the Komen for the Cure 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk; walking 60 miles in three days to help raise money to fight breast cancer. I've walked it with some amazing women - my teammates and friends, and thousands of other women I did not know. It was an uplifting and humbling experience. Women move whole worlds and get things done!
I decided to take a break from the training and fundraising for the walk this year, just one little break. Funny thing is, cancer doesn't take a break. That rat bastard just seems to feed off so many beautiful, kind and giving souls in this world - it's a greedy SOB.
Ah, but women are tireless, and we seem to rise to the occasion in whatever way possible, and come to the aid of a sister in need, to help battle this disease and the toll it takes on everything in a person's life.
On Saturday, I will meet up with a bunch of belly dancers - some I know well, some I've just met, and many I have never met and we will dance on World Belly Dance Day in support of a fellow member of the Portland belly dance community, Denise Oberon Amato. She's one of those beautiful souls who is trying to dance away from cancer - again. She's survived breast cancer in the past, but now is fighting cancer again.
Like I said, women move things, and on Saturday, May 14th at 2:30 in Pioneer Courthouse Square, several members of the belly dance community will move hips en mass for a flash mob dance sequence. It's a grass roots effort by women who know and love Oberon and the intent is to raise money to help her with her mounting medical bills. Donations from dancers, audience members and anyone who cares to help, will be accepted.
While I never thought I would be the kind of woman who danced for dollars, or COULD dance for dollars, I'm privileged to shake whatever money maker I've got left, and shimmy with my sisters to keep a gifted dancer in the dance of life.
If you care to donate, or participate, please check the World Belly Dance Flash Mob Facebook page for more information. Donations can also be made to a PayPal account set up to accept donations for Oberon at PDXOPENWALLS@Frontier.com, or mailed to:
Denise Oberon Amato
c/o Silk Road Flowers
P.O Box 13445
Portland, OR 97213
Check out the YouTube video for the choreography if any of you dancing hearts out there care to join us! The more the merrier.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Wash and Wearing Me Out
laundry mound you tease
tumbled and yet not bone dry
time for new dryer?
Okay, I'll try one about nature...........sort of.
Georrrrrrge! (Oh Yes, He Did!)
my furry pant leg
is not a big deal compared
with crap in kitchen
Monday, May 09, 2011
On my birthday I turn it all up, so the next year I begin, not just a little older, but a little bit higher on life than I was the year before. Turning up for life instead of giving up on it.
Because, as Joseph Campbell said, "The warrior's approach is to say 'yes' to life: 'yea' to it all."
I am the warrior.
Sunday, May 08, 2011
Mother's Day was supposed to start out with a quarter marathon walk. I had planned to write about the experience of walking with a sea of women early on Mother's Day morning. Plus, I really wanted the medal. Badly.
Sadly, my body wasn't cooperating. I kept hoping I would feel up to it, and picked up my bib and shirt yesterday - all the while hoping I could rally. I really wanted that medal.
This morning it just wasn't meant to be, so my husband and son brought me coffee in bed, cut fresh lilacs from the yard and brought me cards and chocolates. They spoiled me rotten and I really appreciated it. I thanked them and told them how lovely it all was, but I kept mumbling about how I wished I had been able to walk this morning. I really wanted that medal!
I grumbled about it as they brought me more coffee in bed, as my son waved the box of Moonstruck chocolates under my nose, as they put the fresh flowers on the table, as I opened the cards, and even as my husband set about making breakfast for me. Damn,I wanted that medal! I kept verbally chastising myself for not being tougher, not pushing through, not, well, not being enough.
Yet here were two people who love and treasure me, and were showing me with their efforts that I was enough for them. But, I just couldn't get the woulda, shoulda, coulda out of my head. Finally, my son said, "Mom! Let it go already! You can do it next year if you want."
Did I mention that I really wanted that medal to hang around my neck?
My son could clearly see that I had not yet let it go. He came over to me, wrapped his arms around my neck, kissed me and said "Happy Mother's Day. I love you." Then, I looked over at the card he made me and realized - he's the gold medal.
He's where the rainbow starts....
And, he's the reason for the journey.
Thank you my golden boy!
Saturday, May 07, 2011
This is only problematic if you are one of the 2-3% of the population who has a brain aneurysm, and then, only .00009% of those may experience a rupture. Unless you've had a brain scan recently, you might never know if you have one of these little buggers lurking. Like we don't have enough to worry about these days.
Since my mother had a stroke a couple of years ago, I read this news report with interest, although we still don't know what exactly caused my mother's stroke. So, I read the list and it is full of daily (okay not ALL of them daily - make your own guesses here) life activities.
Let me count the ways I live dangerously, according to this study anyway.
Get up, have a cup of coffee - 10.4% increase in risk. Still okay? Okay, I'll have another and another. Hey, they didn't say how many cups of coffee, did they?
Blowing your nose increases the risk by 5.4%, so with a spring cold and allergies kicking in, 5.4% increase about, oh 75 times a day. Still kicking.
Vigorous exercise ups the odds by 7.9%. Today that won't be a problem. Although exercise does give me more energy, and I need a little lift. Soda pop gives you a 3.5% bump up, but I don't drink soda - score one for me! Feeling smug about that one, I pour myself another cup of coffee. Yeah, I know - 10.4% again. Que sera sera.
Since I'm a wife, mother and teacher, very little in life spooks me. Which is a good thing because being startled jolts you up another 2.7%. I guess there are benefits to having seen it all, or most of it anyway. However, my birthday is near and I'm not opposed to a fun surprise or two - wiling to risk it. Hint, hint honey.
After all that coffee, I gotta go potty. Luckily, peeing doesn't raise my risk at all. Although, at some point, everybody poops - up another 3.6% if you're not fibered up. You're just going to have to wonder on this one - I have a few lines of privacy left that I won't cross; today anyway. I think I'll grab an apple for a snack, you know for insurance. Can't hurt.
Even though it's the weekend, it's still early in the day. For those of you inclined toward some afternoon delight, beware! You're lusty dalliance just spiked your odds up another 4.3%. There's always a price to pay for indulging in pleasure, huh? I'm assuming that is an averaged percentage because a lot depends on, well you know. Still, I am nothing if not discreet. Actually, I'm rarely discreet, but like I said - it's still early in the day.
Frankly, this whole study kind of pisses me off. It sensationalizes that which we already know. Living, my friends is dangerous and leads to death. Dammit; up another 1.3%.
I don't entirely trust a study that says my odds of dying are greater by drinking coffee, exercising, having sex, relieving myself, blowing my nose and being surprised than they are by getting pissed off several times a day.
I guess I'm just a high-flying risk taker at heart. Bring it!
Now, where's my box of tissues? Bring me another cup of coffee too - yeah, I'm a badass.
Friday, May 06, 2011
Really? Is that something you can 'ask' for? What exactly constitutes 'well-behaved' anyway? I ask this question as I'm being circled and swooped upon by a wooden-sword wielding ninja in an electric blue kimono robe with "Guitar Man" embroidered on the back. So far nothing has been knocked over or broken. Uh wait - he just went down the hall to his bedroom and I heard a wee bit of a crash.... No screams, so things must be okay.
Distracting? Little bit. Nerve-wracking? Oh yeah - that sword could hurt me. Well-behaved? Good enough most of the time. Creative and fun? Most definitely. Granted we are in the privacy of our home, so I can be mostly at ease; the dog isn't very judgmental.
If what mothers want for their special day is a well-behaved kid, how do they think that happens? I realize that some kids are just born easier to raise than others - I teach, so I do know kids come in a wide-variety of personalities and temperments. As a mother, I also recognize that not everything a child does is caused by some parental malfunction. Sometimes kids just do immature (i.e. kid-like) things!
I also know that each and every child has something special to offer their family, friends and the world. Sometimes those unique gifts come in a highly charged package that would be best contained in a padded room from time to time to minimize collateral damage.
What moms may really be asking for is a day we don't have to explain or apologize for our spawn's behavior or infractions, or to talk to our baby in a psychotherapist-tone-of-voice when in public. Perhaps we want a day when we don't have to leave the store during a tantrum, and return later to finish the errand. Sometimes we just might want to tell other people to mind their own damn business, ignore the tantrum and grab a mondo-sized chocolate bar because we damn well deserve it.
My interpretation of this Mother's Day wish is a day off from worrying what other people think of our parenting skills. I mean, everyone knows that children are a reflection of their parents, mothers especially, right?
Well, yes and no. We can teach and teach and not see daily results, but we know that eventually the little darling will most likely grow up to be a kind, caring, responsible, healthy and happy adult. Getting them to that stage is the primary goal. Assuming the child is not a little Jack the Ripper, the occasional misbehavior, rowdiness at inconvenient times, or failure to control emotions 24X7 is really not a big deal.
People may shoot disapproving looks in your direction. So what? What do those people mean to you? Does their opinion really matter to you? Your children are a partial reflection of you it's true. Instead of spending so much time worrying about how your children reflect upon you, look in their eyes to see how you are reflected in theirs.
What you will see is the image of a woman who is loved unconditionally - perhaps messily and imperfectly at times, but loved with open arms, hearts and a youthful abandon. You are their home and their heart.
So the next time someone stares at you, or dares to comment about your kid during a less than perfect moment. Look them dead in the eye and say, "He has chosen the more arduous route to adulthood - the one that begins in infancy with pit stops through childhood and adolescence. When he gets there he'll be so damn amazing! It takes a lot more courage to go this route than it does to spring from a mother's loins fully grown and complete. I'm so proud of him."
Then look your kid in the eye and take note. They might stare at you with a wee bit of confusion, or suspicion, or even shock. But if you look closer you will see that reflection of you, surrounded by a twinkle that says, "my mama rocks".
The best gift of all - even better than a day alone - don't you think?
Twinkle on mamas!
Thursday, May 05, 2011
I was going to write a little blurb about Cinco de Mayo celebrations and whether or not those of us that are consuming some sort of agave-based beverage really know the story of the day. It's about a battle, as are a number of different holidays in any number of nations. The party usually benefits the victor. Viva la margarita!
However, I decided to take a different view on the day by Googling this date in women's history, and I found that Lucia True Ames Mead was born on this day in 1856, and she was all about peace. She was an educator who believed in teaching children about peace, and she published many works on peace - including materials for teachers.
Her works were published by the American Peace Society as a Primer of the Peace Movement. She was also instrumental in establishing, and organizing celebrations for, "Peace Day" (May 18th) in schools across the United States. Mead also presented "Peace Teaching in the Schools" at the American Institute of Education's annual conference in 1906. She was so persistent in her efforts to produce materials to assist teachers in the planning of a curriculum on peace that she published a book entitled Patriotism and the New Internationalism.
Later on, during World War I, she was heavily involved with the Women's Peace Party, and because of her position within the organization and her stance on the war, was considered "dangerous"; something that makes me want to read more about her.
As an educator, I see all too often that kids don't have many opportunities to think and form their own opinions and philosophies about world events, war and peace. Mostly they are just given data and facts to memorize and repeat.
In an age where we have so much access to news and "news-like" information on all kinds of media, and where kids have access to so many types of technologies that assault their senses with images of violence and sexuality, we are further and further from teaching critical thinking in a time when it is most needed.
I find it disheartening that only one teacher this week mentioned having a student bring up the killing of Osama Bin Laden, and the kid didn't bring it up to ask anything, but instead to say "Hey, did you hear that we 'got' Bin Laden?" Hmmm. If a kid isn't asking any questions about things they've heard or seen, then I think we've got ourselves a tremendous problem.
We aren't raising and educating thinkers anymore because teaching kids to think takes time - and teaching kids to learn how to think and question isn't measured on standardized tests that rank the schools.
If kids don't get chances to think and question, then they will only comprehend a very small part of what they are told, and the larger story will be forever lost.
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
1. "Saturday Night Fever": Generally followed by boogie, er, I mean booger nights.
2. "Stomp the Yard": Although stomping usually occurs in much more public places - like grocery stores, and not just by the kids.
3. "The Full Monty": Some kids prefer to be unencumbered by things like diapers, or clothing.
4. "Staying Alive": It is the goal after all, right?
5. "Dirty Dancing": Because nobody puts baby in a corner, but mama may clear a path through a room by stacking baby's toys in a corner.
Mamas, keep on dancing through your days and know that you are one singular sensation!
Tuesday, May 03, 2011
Saturday I had the pleasure of dancing with a beautiful group of women at a belly dance showcase in town. It was my first time performing with a dance troupe at such an event and I expected to feel nervous. Surrounded by my tribe, I felt confident and strong.
Two years ago I took on the challenge of walking the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure 60 mile fundraising walk. I expected that I might not reach my fundraising goal and that I might not make the whole 60 miles. Supported and encouraged by my teammates, I met the goal and finished the walk and did it again the next year.
I could say that I’m proud of myself for meeting both of these challenges and putting myself out there. I could say that I worked hard for both of them and put in time and toil. I could say that I sacrificed time to make both happen. I could say all of that, and it would be partly true.
The other part that’s true is I didn’t do either of those things alone. I couldn’t have, and I’m convinced I wouldn’t have if it hadn’t been for several beautiful, funny, smart, strong and supportive women friends.
When I set out to train for the walk, I had friends who walked beside me, and met new friends along the way. We walked for hours on the weekends. Yes, it was a sacrifice to get up at 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday or Sunday – sometimes both - and walk for miles and miles in all kinds of weather. It was a sacrifice we looked forward to each week. We’d head out, coffee in hand, an occasional stop for doughnuts, and talking and laughing for hours at a time. Yep, it was grueling. Well, okay – the body would feel some serious wear and tear, but the spirit would be repaired. Training was heaven with my walkie, talkie dolls!
Then, last year I found a belly dance class. Actually I found the class several years earlier, but the timing was never quite right. Finally I met the teacher and she invited me to her Friday night shimmy. I went and the women were wonderful. I didn’t know how what I was doing, but it felt like home, and we danced. Later that night I cried – a very happy cry. They accepted me, taught me and coached me and allowed me the privilege of dancing with them, beside them, in their circle of sisters. It’s pretty damn amazing to be in a circle of women, and when in the circle you can’t help but see how beautiful all women are – goddesses one and all.
So, yes it is true that I had to get up off my fanny for either of these things to happen. I had to put my both my sole and my soul out there and take a step of one kind or another. The first step was the biggest, but after that I was swept up and carried by the rhythm of the steps of my sisters; arm in arm, hips swaying in unison, stride after stride.
Dolls and Goddesses; these women feed my soul and rock my world. Find your tribe and share your passions – mamas can dance in many, many ways.