Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Reflections on a Passing Year

One of my sons got in a lot of trouble about a month ago, and part of his punishment was to spend an hour a day doing extra chores for me. It must have been about the fourth day into this punishment when it finally hit him. “Mom, I’ve emptied the dishwasher every day, and I’ve vacuumed the carpets every day too. Why can’t I just do the job once and be done with it?”

The eternal question.

As I sit here on New Years Eve, contemplating 2008 I realize how much of this year I spent doing job’s that never get done. Washing dishes and clothes, dusting, vacuuming, mopping. I just have to face it. Life is repetitive.

My baby grandson has a set of books that his mom reads over and over too him. They say it’s because little children love repetition but I think its nature’s way of preparing them for the constant reiterations in adult life.

And it’s not just work that we have to repeat. What about phrases.

I notice that my cell phone came with a set of prewritten text messages that can be sent without taking the time to type them yourself. Phrases like:

“Where are you?”
“Call me when you get this message” or
“What’s your number” – although that last one seems kinda silly if you're sending a text message… oh well, talk to T-Mobile about it.

I’m thinking of inventing a little cell phone style box just for mom’s. And in it, I’ll have prerecorded all the things I find myself saying over and over and over.

“Where are you going and what time will you be back?”
“Did you brush your teeth AND use deodorant?”
“If you’d do it the right way the first time, you wouldn’t have to do it again.”
“But I’m not her/his mother, I’m yours, and that’s what I said.”- and of course-

So, to deal with a world of mindless repetition, one must use their non-repetition time doing new and exciting things. I would recommend traveling to Branson, Missouri or visiting Hawaii or China once a year. But if you aren’t my parent’s, then these options may not be financially viable.

For the rest of us let me share some of my favorite free internet adventure hot spots for 2008

1. Karaoke Party -

This is fun site. You can pick up a microphone at Wal-Mart for less than fifteen dollars and plug it into the back of your computer. Choose a song category (in karaoke party lingo ‘Classical’ would be the Beatles, not an aria from Madam Butterfly) and then sing. You get points for how well you match the artist (think Guitar Band Hero with out the weird looking characters) and then can compare your score with other players around the world. (Or not)

One word of warning. If you’re kids walk in on you belting out “We are the Champions” from Queen, they will make fun of you!

2. Smile Box eCards –

I have set a 2009 goal to remember all the birthdays and anniversaries in my family this year by sending ecards. However I always go to Hallmark and they only have so many new and free ecards. So, in an effort to widen my ecard horizons, I did a google search and found this site.

Smile Box is free and allows you to upload photos or videos and incorporate them into an ecard to send out to people. How cute is that? I’m thinking I have a couple of photos of myself that would make truly frightening Halloween cards.

3. Jib Jab -

This is similar to the above site except you get to attach head shots of your favorite people onto animated bodies and then watch them play out their own little mini movies. But be forewarned. If you create the movie or show it to people whose heads are in the movie, they will think these are unbelievably hilarious. Anyone else watching will get boarded really fast.

4. The American Museum of Photography -

When I really need to get out of my own world, I like to search out exotic locations or interesting museums and then pretend I’m really there. The idea of web cams sounds good, but I don’t care how exotic the beach, watching several minutes of a still shot, replaced by another still shot from some high and not very artistic vantage point, just doesn’t do the job.

However, if you search a little, you can find some really funky places on the internet to visit like the site above. This exhibit from the American Museum of Photography is titled Pulp Pix: The Bizarre Case of Photography Noir. It was so unique that I spent over an hour exploring it.

Well I gotta get back to my dishes so I can bring in 2009 with a bang! Till next year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Finding the Perfect Gift

I always make a point of going to Wal-Mart on February 14th around five-thirty in the afternoon. That’s about the time that the men in our community have gotten off work and suddenly realize that if they show up at their homes without something red, pink and sweet in their hands to give to their loved ones for Valentines Day; they will probably end up sleeping on the couch.

There’s a look about these men whether they are seventeen or sixty-seven that is so amusing to watch. Half panic half hope that somewhere in the depth of that super-store will be a gift both romantic enough to show that they care, and not reek of last minute desperation.

I bring this up because in many ways Valentines Day and Christmas are alike. Both holidays rely heavily on making the right choice in the gift department, and both are loaded with potential guilt if that goal is not achieved.

My teenage son came home from Christmas shopping the other night and told me that I was the hardest person he had to shop for. He couldn’t find anything he thought I’d like. I stared at him in dumbfound amazement. In my opinion, women are by far the easier sex to buy for, falling right there in line with pre-schoolers and family pets.

It’s men in general and teenagers specifically that are the mortal terror of gift buyers everywhere.

For instance, did you ever notice that the older a man gets, the more expensive his toy wishes. Maybe if I was Jennifer Lopez or Bill Gates I could actually give them those expensive big ticket items.

“Oh Mom, how did you know I wanted a 27 inch HD plasma TV with a high definition surround sound system for my bedroom. You’re the best!”

Although even if I could afford such pricey items, this plan would probably backfire too. I can just imagine it. Christmas morning me and my young adult son head out to the driveway where a brand new shiny silver BMW sits proudly, wrapped in a huge red ribbon. “Merry Christmas Son,” I’d say with pride, watching his face for that look of stunned pleasure.

Instead he’d study the new vehicle for a few minutes before shrugging his shoulders and saying “Yeah it’s nice, but I really wanted a blue one.”

Clothes shopping is not an option either, at least not without them standing over your shoulder and whispering in your ear, “Not THAT color. I wouldn’t be caught dead in those pants. Who do you think you’re dressing? Pee Wee Hermon?” I could actually blindfold myself, and walk through the men’s department picking some piece of clothing at random and have a better chance of pleasing my boys.

A young friend of mine (male of course) told me that his strategy is to ask his parents for one concrete item. Say a book or CD that he wants. Something clear and concise that they can’t mess up. Then he asks for money. Mom and Dad get the pleasure of giving him something they can watch him unwrap and he can spend the cash any way he chooses.

So what is a mother to do? Break down and give gifts of twenties and fifties? Condense the pile of brightly covered packages under the tree to a scattering of long narrow white envelopes? Take a second mortgage out on the house to give them those expensive gaming systems and electronics they want?

While meditating on my options, it suddenly came to me. I’m the mom here and it’s my job is to teach my kids what is really important in life. Things like how they should eat a few vegetables before digging into dessert, and the benefit of the frequent and liberal use of soap and deodorant. I’d managed to convince my kids that playing with matches, though definitely fun, was not a good idea if they intended to keep a wood roof over their heads. And if they put their shoes away, right when they took them off, it’s so much easier to find them the next morning. (Okay, we’re still working on that one.)

With this in mind, I knew that it was my responsibility to instruct my children on the true meaning of Christmas and the importance of recognizing the love and thought behind a gift. And who better to teach such principles than the woman who’d been receiving hand colored mother’s day cards and bouquets of dandelion flowers, presented by little people with sticky dirt covered fists for years.

So this Christmas, we cut back on how many gifts we are buying and how much money we spend. I’m putting my foot down and not allowing myself to let the season evolve into a guilt fest. I even turned on the All Christmas Music All Day Everyday Day Since Halloween Whether You Like It Or Not radio channel and sang along with Perry Como… and it wasn’t even Christmas eve.

Will it work? I don’t know but I have seen some promising signs. Next week I’ll tell you about our eleven year old son and his amazing seven days of Christmas.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Shopping - Enter At Your Own Risk

Last week, my husband and I decided to attempt shopping the early morning sales on Black Friday. I had assumed that the term ‘black’ was a financial term, meaning that the stores did so well that they went from the red ink of loss to the black ink of profit. But after actually participating, I realize the connotation is more ominous and akin to ‘Black Plague’ or ‘Black Widow.’

I joke about this, but the after Thanksgiving sales are a big deal for retailers and they put a lot of marketing ideas and dollars into figuring out ways to beat out their competition for those early morning shoppers. For example, the earlier you open, the sooner Joe and Jane consumer can spend their hard earned cash at your establishment. Six, five and even four a.m. is not too early. And if a store’s sales are really extraordinary a tent village will spring up around your front door, signaling to the world that those five Wii games for 95% off are already history.

Some retailers give away freebees to encourage customers to shop at their stores. Donuts, coffee, hot cocoa… One year I stood in line for thirty minutes in sub freezing temperatures at five in the morning, with over two hundred other people, just to get the free hot wheel car they were handing out and the possibility of a $100 shopping spree if you got the lucky car. I didn’t win the prize, but after buying two more hot wheel cars at fifty cents each, I had a stocking stuffer for each of my three boys.

Once in the store, it didn’t take me long to realize what an amateur I was at this. I watched one large family arrive and work the store like a well oiled military machine. One person got in line, while the others fanned out through the aisles, cell phones turned on and in hand.

“This is Katelynn checking in, just got the Easy Bake Oven for 60% off.”

“They’re running low on Guitar Hero, can someone create a diversion while I grab the last two?”

“I’m up to the register in five, everyone back to base.”

And the lines, oh my goodness. You stand in them to get into the door and then you stand in them to get out. We spent more time in long serpentine chains that wove through the aisles and around the store than we ever did shopping. One enterprising department store had clerks walking up and down the lines promising a shorter check out at customer service for any customer willing to apply for their credit card. Kind of a sneaky retail form of blackmail.

By eleven oclock, we dragged back into the house, tired and foot weary. As we made our way into the bedroom with our super duper savings tucked under our arms, ready to be hidden away for wrapping, we were accosted by our teenage son.

“You already did your Christmas shopping?” he asked?

“Sure did,” his father said with a tired smile, “And we’ve bought all your gifts.”

“Are you crazy?” our darling son responded. “You don’t even know what I want!”

“You want what we got you and don’t forget it!”

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Case of the Missing Butter

On becoming a mother, there have been many strange and unexpected surprises. Things I couldn’t have imagined encountering while I was still a single woman. For instance, I never realized how effectively one small child could destroy a previously clean room, simply by walking through it. Or the vast number of glasses three kids could dirty on one warm summer afternoon. (I washed over forty glasses one day in August, I actually counted!)

Or the things that come out of a Mom’s mouth. Things she never thought she would say like, “Can you please put that thing back in your underwear and go get your pants on!” or “Yes I’m glad that you love me sooooo much, but the question still stands. What time will you be home from the party?” Then there is my favorite spoken to a fifteen year old driving on a permit. “For pete’s sake don’t run into that parked car. I know the woman who owns it!”

But perhaps the most astonishing things about running a house are all the mysteries one encounters in the course of a normal week. Not even Perry Mason or Jessica Fletcher could keep up with the curious happenings I deal with.

Of course everyone knows about the missing sock mystery. Two go into the wash and one comes out of the dryer. But that it a relatively easy crime to solve. The washer and dryer (which are always placed side by side) create a two dimensional vortex which sucks in one sock, leaving its identical mate alone and useless in the world.

Perhaps the same is true for the one missing earring. I actually have a shoe box full of single earrings that I refuse to throw away in the hopes that the pirate look will come into vogue again and I’ll be set with my eye patch and single ear ornament.

But let me get on to the butter. Every week I buy two pounds of butter. That may seem like a lot to those of you without teenagers, but when your family lives on Mac and Cheese and cookie dough, like mine do, a pound barely covers it.

So I bought my boxes of butter on Saturday morning and on Saturday evening I decided I wanted a piece of buttered toast. (Now please don’t lecture me on my choice of snacks, because fat mixed with carbs is my very favorite!). I opened a cube, placed it on a dish, nuked it for exactly ten seconds (the magic number for just right soft butter) and then shaved off a bit and spread it on my bread.

The next afternoon (that would be Sunday) I again got a craving for buttered toast. I headed for the kitchen but try as I may, I could not find a trace of the butter from the day before. I didn’t even bother asking the kids. Something about our house causes a type of blind-amnesia among the children. They could be standing in the middle of a room during a gang war and afterwards they would all insist they hadn’t seen anything, and if they did, they couldn’t remember but it was undoubtedly all their brother or sister's fault.

I had no choice but to get another cube of butter. By Monday, that new cube of butter had disappeared too, and the same thing happened on Tuesday.

I considered various options. Perhaps someone was breaking into our house each night and stealing our slightly used butter, or maybe one of the kids was doing the dishes without being asked and simply washing the cube down the disposal before placing the plate in the dishwasher. But as both those options were equally as unlikely, I had to give up and admit I was stumped.

Then on Wednesday morning, I happened to be wearing my slippers and had entered the kitchen without making any noise, and there, with her big black paws up on the edge of the counter was our black lab, her long pink tongue stretched out as far as it would go, pulling the butter and the plate closer to the edge of the counter.

I thought I knew my household pretty well only to discover that my dog is a closet butter thief. It felt as if my whole world had been torn apart and I found myself pondering the next natural question. What is the cat up to?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Political Mumbo Jumbo

During this, the season of political elections, like all of you, I’ve been bombarded with ads by candidates running for almost every office imaginable. Some of them are clever, some of them are dull, and some of them make absolutely no sense. Like one I heard the other day that ended with the catch phrase ‘Vote for so and so, because he cares’.

What exactly does ‘because he cares’ really mean and who or what does he claim to care about? I mean, everyone cares about something. Even hardened criminals with sleazy minds and horrible body odor care about stuff but that doesn’t make me want to vote for them.

Can’t they come up with something original for a change? Like, wouldn’t it be cool if a young adult knocked at your door and said, “My name is Susan and I represent Senator So and So who is running for President. Can I come in and mop your kitchen floor while I tell you why So and So cares about you?” I’d sure remember that in the voting booth, wouldn’t you?

Seriously though, what would really impress me is to be told the truth. I get so tired of hearing all those campaign promises that everyone knows a candidate can’t possibly keep. Like the kid in the 7th grade who promised, if elected as student counsel president, he would shorten school days, improve the food in the cafeteria and make the candy in the vending machine cheaper. Sure it sounded great, and he got elected, but the office just didn’t carry that kind of authority.

Is it too much to ask, to have leaders of our government who value honesty. Men and women who have the courage to do what is best for the people and not for the lobbyists? Who are more concerned with what is right than what is popular? Someone who’s character can withstand examination and who we can trust to lead our families and the rest of the nation with integrity?

I’m going to think about that next week when I go to vote, but in the mean time, if anyone hears about a candidate washing windows or scrubbing bathrooms, you let me know!

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Back to School Money Pit

School is back in session! Is there a sweeter sentence in the whole English language? How I’ve longed for this day as the hot summer weeks have slowly run their course.

The house no longer rings with the endless chant of, ‘I don’t have anything to do. He’s calling me names. She won’t stay out of my room.’ And the never ending pile of plates and glasses, that represent the infinite state of my children’s appetites, has shrunk to a mere trickle.

Yet, I will be honest enough to admit, that August isn’t all about getting the kids out of the house and back to the learning environment where they belong. There is a negative side as well. I call it ‘The Back to School Money Pit’, and any parent of school age children knows exactly what I’m talking about.

First there are clothes. Lots and lots of clothes. The underwear and socks that worked perfectly well three month’s earlier are no longer sufficient for the needs of a new school year. And speaking of underwear, I was shopping with my daughter last week and she desperately wanted a package of Hannah Montana briefs. Now I can understand Spiderman or Powerpuff girl underwear. Those are cartoon characters, but how can Miss Miley Cirus sleep at night knowing that her face is sprawled across hundreds of little rear ends through out the country.

Once everyone is outfitted with brand new clothes and sneakers that will be worn out and need to be replaced before Halloween, a parent’s next stop is the school supply section. This area of the store spans about four aisles and takes as much space as the Easter and Valentine Candy displays combined. I saw six different styles of pencil and pen holders. Six! They stick the thing in their desk and it doesn’t immerge until school lets out in May. How fancy does it need to be?

And paper. Simple paper. It comes with various sizes of lines, in multiple colors and every design imaginable including of course, Hannah Montana so that little girls can match their notebooks to their panties.

Then of course there are the fees. Locker fees, activity card fees, text book fees, parking fees. How much can it possibly cost to maintain a locker for pete sakes?

By the time the cost of school lunches and equipment for extra curricular activities are figured in, a parent is lucky if they can still pay their mortgage.

Then the child gets into school and in less than a week they are lugging home the mandatory fundraiser catalog. Come on teachers. After all the money we’ve just had to spend getting the little monsters safely back into your classrooms, we’re the ones who ought to be holding fundraisers!

Still, I find myself thinking of that clever credit card ad, ‘New Jeans, $22.00, Three Ring Binder in Trojan Blue $7.98, Middle School Registration Fee $126.00. Having the house back to yourself – Priceless”

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Technology to the Rescue

I hate housecleaning. There I’ve admitted it, right here on the world wide internet.

Like so many things that are good for you, I find washing dishes and mopping floors mind-numbing and tedious. I get no joy making stains disappear from my counter tops or removing greasy dust from my kitchen blinds. To me, scrubbing out a toilet is akin to walking forty minutes on a treadmill while staring blankly at the wall.

Still I’m honest enough to admit that cleaning is necessary. Especially at my house. My children would happily wear the same t-shirt for seven days in a row, never allowing the scent of week old sweat to bother them in the least.

Of course, these are the same kids who would literally die of thirst in front of the water dispenser if they couldn’t find a clean glass in the cupboard. Far be it from them to actually pull a used cup from the sink and wash it.

The option to quit housework is simply out of the question, and so I’ve searched for something to hold my minds attention while my hands complete their repetitious tasks.

First it was music. Upbeat dancing music to be exact and I’m not ashamed to admit that the mop made an excellent dance partner. Across the floor we’d slide my hips shaking seductively to the beat. (I’ve been told that other loose parts of my anatomy also shook in less flattering ways, but I didn’t care). That may have been the perfect solution had it not been for that darn, wet, soapy floor.

The twisted ankle did get me out of housecleaning for a good week and a half but my husband insisted I find something other than music to help me keep my home tidy.

I considered a small portable television propped up in easy view of the stove, but my family has had bad experiences with televisions and kitchen work.

When I was young and my brother just a toddler, my mother use to watch TV while she cooked dinner. The program, (I don’t know what it was, but I’ve always suspected a soap opera) was interrupted by the noisy yowling of the family cat who wanted to go out in the back yard.

Without missing a beat or taking her eyes from the screen, mom scooped up the noisy animal, opened the door, plopped it on the patio and returned to the sink. A few minutes later she was again disturbed by the sound of the cat meowing near her feet.

My mother looked down and sure enough, little Fluffy was curling around her ankles. If the cat was here then what had she put outside. Glancing at the door, she saw my little brother, his chubby hands pressed against the glass of the door, peering in at her with a look of confusion.

Television was out of the question. Then the answer came. It was perfectly simple, physically safe and not visually distracting.

Now as I clean the fridge or make the beds, I’m listening to Dean Kootz’s Odd Thomas or Sue Grafton’s T is for Trespassing on my mp3 player. Miss Marple and I solve crimes while vacuuming the stairs and if I’m feeling really intelligent, I will search for clues with Mr. Sherlock Holmes. There is no chore so icky that a little murder and mayhem won’t brighten it up.

Audio books have been my savior. I get so lost in the plot that I’ve been known to work for hours on end. I hate to admit it, but sometimes I actually find things to clean.

The only downside is that I’ve had to give up talking to my husband and children. I mean you can’t follow the story line and explain what you’re cooking for dinner all at the same time can you?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This and That and More

Ok, first off I must address an accusation made on this site, wherein I was called, (if you’re a squeamish type, please ignore the next few words) a ‘blog fibber’. This came as a result of my lack of fresh new material appearing on this site in the past few months.

First off, unless my accuser is my daughter, I had no idea that, A – Anyone else was looking at this but her, and B – That my site would turn up on a search engine on the internet and C – that summer would get so dang busy.

My suggestion would be that if you have enough time to read my rambling’s and worse yet, miss them when they don’t arrive, you really have way to much time on your hands.

That said, I would like to interrupt my absolutely fascinating and amusing rant on weight loss to address a more current and timely issue.

That grandbaby I alluded to in my first blog has arrived a few weeks earlier than expected.

For my daughter and her husband, this has thrown them into the pool of parenting stress suddenly and with a resounding splash. And so it should be. It’s all part of the circle of life, or as I prefer to say, what comes around goes around.

For me, there is a much bigger and more profound reality that I have been forced to deal with earlier than expected. It is the issue of GRANDMOTHER-ness.

When one says the word ‘grandma’ images of a kindly white haired lady, puttering around in a flowered house dress and ruffled pink apron come to mind. A constantly stocked cookie jar and a conspiratorial wink that lets some grandchild know that sugar highs are OK at granny’s house. And that clever and insightful wisdom that comes from finally having all your own children out and living on their own.

Please, that isn’t me. I have four children still living at home (five that I’m financially supporting). I’m still trying to lose the last five or ten or fifteen or… well it’s none of your business how much baby fat I’m still trying to get rid of -and the baby is sixteen. I haven’t figured out teenagers, how to have some paycheck left at the end of the month, or even what I want to be when I grow up. How can I possibly be ready for grandmotherhood?

And to make it all worse, the little guy is a doll. You don’t even have to be a grandma to feel that. (See )

So here is my suggestion. If a card company can invent a major holiday without a presidential decree or blessing from the Pope, then surely I, a humble mother myself, can create a new title in the family hierarchy.

I propose, grandmother-in-training. A position not quite up there with the saintly grandmamma but a little less responsible than mother. As a grandmother-in-training or GIT as I prefer to call it, I get out of all the same thing’s grandma’s do, such as, changing dirty diapers, getting up with a fussy baby, and having to wear the baby backpack when we go to the zoo. Those are clearly mommy things and I am not the mommy.

However, unlike a normal grandmother, I don’t have to be wise and know all the answers. I don’t have to put signs on my grass saying, “Grandchildren Spoiled Here”. I don’t have to drink prune juice or walk with a cane. I can continue pursuing my hobbies, wear normal clothes, and fantasize that the young man at the grocery check out counter thinks I’m pretty sexy for an older woman. (I said it was fantasy!)

Statistics say that we are living longer and longer every year. The stage of adolescents, that use to last until eighteen, has now dragged out through the twenties and even into the thirties for some people I know. If I could live to be one hundred and ten, I think that title of GIT isn’t just a nice thought, it’s a necessity!

And so I declare my independence. Yes, I do have a grandbaby who I adore, but I am also a GIT and proud of it. Take that tradition!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Weigh Out There Part 1

I have these big round sunglasses that I like to wear when I drive, and my kids make fun of me and say that they make me look like a bug.

“Sunglasses are supposed to be narrow and sleek these days,” said my daughter, “Why do you insist on wearing those huge things?”

The answer was obvious. “Because they make my face look thinner.”

She stared in disbelief, a look only possible because she’s a young thin girl who’s never had to worry about her weight.

“It’s true,” I went on to explain. “Haven’t you ever seen those models wearing oversized sweaters that hang down to their knees and slide off their shoulders provocatively? They look incredibly thin.”

“They are incredibly thin,” corrected my daughter.

“OK, that’s true but the idea still goes. If you wear clothes two sizes too big for you, it makes people think you’ve lost weight. The same thing goes with sunglasses. The bigger the frames the smaller your face appears in comparison.”

“If you think you look too fat, why don’t you just exercise and go on a diet?”

I laughed out loud. “Sweetheart, weight loss is a process not an end result. Right now ninety-five percent of all women in America are preparing to go on diets, switching diets, cheating on diets, or recommitting to diets. The point is to look like you’re farther ahead on the diet carousel than you actually are.”

My daughter might not appreciate the fact yet, but woman like me can actually qualify as experts in the field of weight loss. For example, during my stint with Weight Watchers, I knew exactly how to get the lowest numbers on my weekly meeting weigh-in. I used the restroom just before I stepped on the scale and of course I chose my clothing carefully. Only at a Weight Watchers meeting will you find woman dressed in tank tops and thin cotton shorts in ten degree weather.

But that’s only the beginning. I’ve learned how to make diet shakes more palatable with the addition of healthy and sometimes not so healthy ingredients. I’ve drunk so many glasses of water; I couldn’t pass a bathroom without making a visit. I’ve eaten veggies and fruits till I felt like a rabbit, and even tried the new-diet-math theory that states; if you eat a candy bar and drink a diet soda at the same meal the calories will cancel each other out.

(to be continued next week…)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Mother's Day Lament

Another Mother’s Day has come and gone… thank goodness. That painful holiday jam packed with guilty, insecurity and unrealistic expectations. If you’re a mother, particularly a mother of teens, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

So, Sunday morning my children surprise me with breakfast in bed. And a complete breakfast it was. Scrambled eggs, home made pancakes with home made strawberry jam on top, sausage links, fresh squeezed orange juice and two slices of dark but not burned toast smeared liberally with honey.

It was a sweet thought, I kept telling myself as I loaded the second dishwasher full of breakfast dishes into the machine and scrubbed the last of the red berry stains off the ceiling. And besides, it’s the thought that counts; too bad my children didn’t just think about making me breakfast!

As mothers we have this sort of mixed up emotional expectation associated with the second Sunday in May. On the one hand, we want our children, for just a few minutes, to stop and realize how much hard work, blood, sweat and tears we have put out on their behalf. Perhaps a little appreciation for the twenty some odd years of clean laundry, healthy meals and on call chauffeuring services.

On the other hand, we don’t want them to look too closely at our parenting skills and remember things like the time we left them in the restroom at the gas station or how we got mad at them for leaving the milk out, only to remember that we used it last.

There’s the image of the model mother we hold in our head:
Constantly baking cookies and home made bread, hand ironing all her families clothing, and a cheerful smile and wise word always on her lips.
And the reality of day to day life:
Peanut butter for breakfast (just peanut butter), a freezer full of pre-made Stouffers meals, the -if the clothes smell clean then they are- test, and ‘it’s that time of the month so stay away’.

I guess all a mother can really do, is try her hardest to be a good mom, and open a high yield savings account to pay for the therapy her children will require when they’re adults.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

For the Love of Email?

In my rather lengthy life, I have had a very close relationship with the good old US mail service. There was nothing better than getting an envelope, hand addressed and maybe with a cute sticker on the back. Who knew what that envelope might contain, an invitation to a wedding, a note from your aunt in Wisconsin or sometimes, even a love letter!

But despite my affection for snail-mail, I was more than ready to jump on the email band wagon. By using my computer I can drop a line to a friend on the other side of the country and hear back from her within the hour. And my fingers don’t get sore like when I use to write three page letters by hand.

However, like all things, there is a dark side to internet communication, and I’m sure you all know what it is. Junk mail!

The other day I received an email in my in-box with the subject line, ‘Get use to being BIG…’

I stopped right there. Can some one please tell me; in what possible way could that subject line be inviting?

I don’t ever remember getting ads in the regular mail asking if I wanted larger breasts, and the closest thing to pornography was the underwear section of the Wal-Mart circular. Yet, for some reason my in-box is inundated with this type of garbage.

Is there some profile of me sitting out there in cyberspace that describes me as an underdeveloped, overweight, male/female, in need of more debt, gullible enough to invest money in illegal overseas accounts and sexually perverted?

I also get a kick out of the ‘helpful’ emails I receive from friends and family, warning me about the dangers of chorine soaked baby carrots, lead in red lip sticks and those horrible poisonous spiders that lurk under toilet seats in public bathrooms waiting to sink their little fangs into my protruding… well, enough of that one, but you get the idea.

I shouldn’t be surprised. These are the same people who, in college, sat up till all hours of the night debating the reality of a dead rodent accidentally fried with a batch of chicken at a local restaurant, or the likelihood of chocolate covered bugs lurking among our favorite candy.

And who has the time to sit around, making this stuff up. I’m guessing it’s the same genius who created the dancing baby, or maybe the sicko who programs destructive computer viruses that look like greetings from long lost friends. Someone with way too much time on their hands.

And speaking of time, I’m afraid I gotta run. I just received an email about the dangers of seatbelts that absolutely have to read.

Till next week…

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Not Your Mother's Blog? Actually it is!

I hate the whole concept of blogging. It reeks of the quote 'Enough about me, lets talk about you...what do you think about me.' So why, you may ask, would I then stoop to join the blog eat blog world?

Let me tell you a story. My oldest daughter is married and pregnant with my first grandchild. As you can imagine, I'm thrilled and anxious to stay up to date with every single detail. I called her a few weeks ago and asked how things were going.

"Haven't you read my blog?" she asked. "You know, the place where I write all about what’s happening to me and my family and how I feel about it. I even have pictures of my growing belly and my latest ultrasound on my site.”

I looked up the term BLOG on the Internet and according to, “A BLOG is a publication of personal thoughts, experiences, and web links. It is updated frequently and is usually a mixture of what is happening in a person's life and what is happening on the web or in the media. ...”

In other words, it's like inviting a bunch of people to your home who sit around, listen to you talk, and then are invited to comment or ask questions about what you’d said. Kind of like an Amway presentation.

“Can’t you just tell me how you’re doing right now or do I have to check the computer?” I asked.
“Of course I could tell you," she answered. "But what would be the point? Everything you could possible want to know about me is already sitting out there in cyber-space.”

I felt a chill run through my spine. “And when my grand baby is born?”

“We will update the Blog of course!”

Alas, just like people on hands free cell phones who appear to be talking to themselves in the grocery aisle or automated customer service helplines that know the answer to every ones question but yours, blogs are here to stay.

I could hold out and be like Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote, hanging on to the old technology of the typewriter, instead of embracing computer word processing, but why. Those hot young techno nerds in Silicon Valley and Japan will just keep coming up with more and more annoying ways to make my life (better?). Who am I to get in their way?

And besides, how will I ever find out the sex of my new grandchild if I'm not blogging?

But just because I'm giving in doesn't mean I have to sell out. I'm a writer, and the job of a writer is to entertain. And trust me, life is just jam packed with crazy and entertaining things, especially mine.

So if you choose to visit my blog in the future, I promise to update it weekly with stories and antidotes that will put a smile on your face and give you something to chuckle about. (And if not, you know where the door is right?)

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