Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mind the Gap <---- what I listened to while writing this...

My dad is famous for a gesture that is a hand waving back and forth in a horizontal way that is meant to indicate a spectrum of color ranging from black to white.  "Noooo gray area..." he would say.  Whatever the conversation, what he meant with that wave of the hand was, "Lets make sure that there are no missed expectations.... no gaps in understanding. Stick to the black and white of things."

Gaps can be rather harmful, and the London subway system goes to great lengths to advertise a gap between the concrete ledge and the train.  But even greater dangers seem to be those gaps in understanding between spouses, children and people we love.  "I thought YOU were bringing the paper plates!"  "Nooo, I was already bringing the silverware, so of course I thought YOU were bringing paper plates."  It is this "gray area" of misunderstanding that leaves things implied, not spelled out, that my father strives to eliminate.  The same sentiment is expressed by Henry David Thoreau when he said,

"In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood."

I am trying to eliminate this area of missed expectations in my life.  As I turn the ripe old age of 39, I see the gaps between what my younger self had planned, and what life has planned for me instead.  Without an accounting and clarification of what dreams I traded in for what I got, there is ample room for disappointment.  And in some cases when I review the crossroads in my life, I must just repeat to myself another one of my dad's pithy statements, "Well THAT was an expensive mistake!"   

For the others, however, I just have to take a good hard look at the gap.  According to the Buddha, we suffer because we crave.  What about the gray area is a misery of my own making?  Can it be bridged?  Can it be fixed?  Should it be bridged?  Did I miss a train somewhere and fall into a gap of missed expectations?  I'd hate to admit here how horrifyingly dumb I've been in my life, but there it is.  And I'm not alone.  Some missed expectations have come from my dealing with others.  The desire to change the core personality of others that... will never change - no matter how much reasoning and common sense is presented to them, has brought about a newfound wisdom: You can't change people.  I include myself in all this; hardly going from grace to grace myself, I feel like I've tripped face down from one mud puddle into another.  I really saw a lot of things going differently in my head....

But I did not miss the boat on a spouse.  He is the envy of all I know.  I did not miss the train when I got each of my kids that make my life interesting.  Whether on a diploma'd piece of paper, or ability I have gained, I have learned a LOT in the past 39 years.  I just have to figure out how to mind the gap between what I expected, and what has been presented.  Am I wise?  OH heaven's no.  I can't fix all the gaps and gray area's in my life.  I'm just smart enough to recognize a gray area, a gap, or a missed expectation when I see one.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Purses are a funny thing in my family.  We have rules about purses, but we all have evolved into our own interpretation of a need for a purse.

The cardinal rule of purses:  You NEVER, EVER, EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER go digging through a woman's purse.  For ANY reason.  Husbands don't dig in your purse, children do not dig in your purse, and my own mother would hand me my purse if I asked for the sunglasses that were dangling off the edge of it.  If an item you want/need is in mom's purse, then you go get it, and hand it to her.  You never go rifling through it yourself.  EVER!

The purse, in my family, is a tantamount to a lady's underwear drawer - and heaven knows you would never go through a woman's underwear drawer. I once saw a husband go though my hairdresser's purse and I 'bout passed out in the chair.  He got into her purse, dug out her wallet and then took out cash!  I could NOT believe what I was seeing!  Drinking straight from a gallon of milk was not nearly as policed as the purse rule.  But that's for another post.

But you can tell a lot from a woman's purse, and judge it how you may, this is what is in mine:

  • Red wallet - the contents of which would be a long post in and of itself.
  • Extra snoopy watch on the handle - just in case my ugly triathalon sport watch with 3 alarms AND phone die, or a fashion emergency dictates it.  Okay, not a wise choice for UPgrading my look, but I never said these things were there for great reasons...
  • Keepsake Quilting catalog - fabric and quilt pattern porn for when I have to wait in the car.
  • Foundation, Burts Bees tinted chapstick, 3 back up chapsticks, 1 regular mascara, and a back up that be-bops between the cupholder in my car and the outside pocket of my purse.  Lotion, lip gloss (though I look like I've just eaten greasy pork chops when I wear the lip gloss), a cheapie lipstick and a nice one from Clinique.  Of all the beauty products, the only one my kids managed to mess with was the nice $14 lipstick from Clinique that "Not ME!" rolled all the way up into the lid until it stuck there, breaking it off at the base and  leaving a mere stub for me to actually use.
  • Back up meds for my ADHD kids, Motrin, Tylenol and a percocet or two.  Apparently that is illegal because the baby and pain they were prescribed for is now two.  And a half.
  • Two sets of diapers in size 3 & 4.  A magical wipes box that will hold the wipes that will go in wet, and be completely dried out and useless when I am in an actual poo emergency.  I had some of the other kind in a plastic bag container that wouldn't dry out, but another mom "borrowed" it in a poo emergency.  Permanently.
  • A mood ring.  Just for fun.
  • Prescriptions for my kids meds.
  • Feminine emergency items.  Torpedoes AND landing pads.
  • An ID badge on a retractable clip that holds no ID, but two years worth of summer movie punch cards.  
  • A Little Orphan Annie decoder pin. Jealous much?  I think I have an irrational fear of being left with a child to entertain for a long long long time.
  • A magnet thing that clips and unclips.  Keeps kids entertained FOR HOURS.
  • Spare suckers from the bank.  My back windows are tinted in my van, so if I have to drop by the bank and they ask if "there is anything else?", I always ask for 5 suckers - regardless of the number of actual kids in my car, and tuck the extras in my zippered pouch.  Best thing for keeping a kid quiet.
  • Gum.  Unfortunately it is the remainder of a dual pack of Trident.  I bought it for the watermelon flavor pack and have been stuck with the orange flavored shingles that rattle around my hidden pocket with the dum dum suckers from the doctors office.  When the orange is gone I'm gonna upgrade the gum to "REACT 5" which is just Wrigley's regular gum with black food coloring...
  • Tissue pack - I encounter too many allergies, tears and boogers to ever be without.
  •  Coupons for cereal because, "I'm NOT gonna pay a LOT for these Cheerios!"
  • An emory board - I despise hanging nails!!!
  • An ever mutating collection of pens and pencils that die when I need them, disappear when someone is giving me a code or password/important email, and are a staple request from my children at church. 
  • Spare pair of sunglasses.  Usually the other pair is on my head which is a knee jerk reflex from my living in Arizona days.  Always, always have some sunglasses when you drive.  Even if you had to buy 9 pairs at the dollar store and stash them all over the car.
So, you can see that it is basically a diaper bag/kid purse/72 hour kit.  On good days, I also have a back up Enfamil powder pack, safety pins, band-aids, matchbox car and secret hidden chocolate, but lately I've told my baby that he will not starve to death in the next 20 minutes that it takes to get home.

I don't know if you know me any better for the list, but I found it entertaining to see how my purse stacks up against the other mothers in my family.  One has the tiny clutch with minimal items, another has a cavernous bag like mine, but with a fancy label.  My mom has... lots of crumbs, but no diapers, and HER mom always had a gramma bag with a short handle that she carried on her arm, wrist up.  We're different in our approach, but girl, we all live by the rules.  Cuz we've got Purse-onality, STYLE, purse-onality, WOW purse-onality! *I hope you're singing that song in your head now...*

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Black n' Blue

Every once in awhile, I'll get to feeling like Spiderman when he is attacked by the alien "Venom."  That is the black goo that gets all over him, and just makes him dark all over.

Most of the time, it seems like I can handle life; I have goals I'm achieving (if only getting through the laundry and getting everyone picked up on time), and I can balance the things in life in front of me.  I'll be going along my merry way, and then - almost like a cloud descending, I just get very blue.  Sometimes it is the proverbial "thorn in the side," of things in my life that I can't change, or am challenged with often enough that I just feel worn down by them.

And like Spiderman, I want to retreat, up high somewhere - alone, and hope that it will pass.  I try to avoid the phone at these times  because I simply can't be all chipper and my positive, well-balanced, self.  I brood. I fret. I feel like sleeping for 100 years.  But part of the uneasiness, is that I  KNOW that it's not my regular self.  If clanging a bunch of metal would get me out of it, I'd be running to the nearest bell tower - at least that's how it worked for Spiderman.  I haven't tried it, now that I think about it.  But I'm pretty sure that it would only give me a headache.

It will pass, and life will take a gentle curve up.  But for now, I'm just somewhere in the black to blue range.  Some people would not approve of sad/ depressed/ unhappy times, and are anxious to get you out.  But for now, I'm gonna wallow in it, get all pruny, and then move on when the darkness starts to fade.  We can't all be super heroes all the time, right?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm Gonna Getcha, It's a Matter of Time

Twitting is an art form in my family - and if you can do it really well, even better.  Abigail, who is particularly "letter of the law" in her views, and I fell into a conversation the other day about how she will raise her children.  She smiled at the prospect, and I told her,
"Abigail, I want to be there for the day when you tell your daughter who wants to go out and play,
"First the work,
it's always the same,
then you can laugh, go outside(watch tv, or whatever they are bugging you about), and play games."
I want to be there to see that, and then watch HER holler at YOU, "I KNOW MOM!"

Abigail smiled.  She smiled because that is what she does to me.  When I have children begging to do things and there are still beds to be made, and other chores to do, I go back to the poem. I don't even need to recite the whole poem, I just have to say, "First the woooor" and they know that THAT'S IT - it's over.  No discussion/whining/logic trumps the "First the Work" credo - whatever you want will have to wait until chores are done.  I love this discipline shorthand. What gets under MY skin is the "I KNOW, MOM!" which is so silly and irritating, "If you KNEW it, then why did you ASK!?"

You can tell from reading that this annoying poem I made up, that it is based closely on the chant, "First the worst, second the same...,"  I just changed it to reflect the idea that work is first, then we play.  I figure that if I can instill in my children a lifelong habit of getting the work out of the way first, then that will help them to lead successful, organized, and stress-free lives.  They hate that vision when it gets in the way of having fun NOW.  So round and round we go.  And the idea that it will someday graduate into my children's vocabulary just tickles me.  OH yes.  Mommy's revenge.  YOU will say this to YOUR kid some fine day!!! HA!

Abigail was giving me that look.  I couldn't resist.  I could no more leave a bulbous pussy zit on my nose than NOT say it.

"And when your little girl comes crying to me, and says, 'My Mom is SO MEAN!' do you know what I'm gonna tell her?

Her look was confident.

"I'm gonna look her in the eye and say, 'Oh, don't worry about it.  You don't have to do it - it doesn't really matter if you get your work done or not; you can still go to college ...'"

I can't quite describe the look in her eye; surprise, thunderous, - definitely vengeful as she let out a, "AGH!"
It was so funny, it lead to... well, kindof an evil laugh - full on open mouth, head back, loud laughing on my part which was SO SATISFYING!!!  Like an evil genius!!!!  However, after looking at her face as I guffawed away, I also made a mental note that I should make sure that it's solely my sons who should be allowed to pick out my nursing home!~

Monday, January 3, 2011

Good Mom Bad Mom

Hello 2011!
I have been making lists today.  Mostly "To Do" lists, and lists of things I don't want to forget.  It's a new year, and a new chance to start afresh.  Having just looked at the numbers for blog entries in 2010, - it wasn't a great year for blogging.  365 days, and 20 posts.  Pllllbbt.  So 2010 is down a bit from the initial 95 posts.  SO, to make up for it, I will now entertain you with what I did and didn't do this holiday season to be a good/bad mom.

Bad Mom:

  1. I didn't get the tree up until way late.  It never even had ribbon.  I own ribbon, lots!  I even have a "ribbon" drawer, and I kept it out until the very last moment thinking that I would put it on.  My back went out, and that was the end of the ribbon fantasy.  I did put ribbon on someone else's tree though.  Theirs didn't make it to Christmas either.  The dog got in it, it fell over... som'n som'n.  Not sure.  It didn't make it, so it's as though it never really got done for them either.
  2. Lights on the house.  I blame my spouse.  We look like a bunch of Jehovah's Witnesses here.  No yule merriness, just a wreath on the door that I pulled out of the garage.  I decorated it in my 20s.  And I thought that I didn't have time THEN!
  3. Cristmas cards.  I had SUCH good intentions!  I may still send out ones to the people who sent us one.  I might.  I just need a sec to think about the things I'm willing to publicly admit to in a card.  I'm still thinking...
  4. 12 days of Christmas.  Didn't do it for anyone. No service, no snow shoveling for the elderly, no "higher purpose" Christmas Cheer.  None.  Plllbbbbt
  5. Advent calendar.  Skip!  Never got unloaded.  My kids had to do math subtracting from 25 all month.
  6. Scottish shortbread.  Nope - I'm sure my ancestors will haunt me on that one.  Mech.
  7. Wassail.  Didn't even think about it, and no one asked for it.
  8. The Village Under the Tree.  I just couldn't police my children and a baby who can crawl.  In the words of the Wizard of Oz.  No one gets in to see the (village)!  Not no way, not no how!!  Skip!
  9. Cookie exchange.  Abigail did have a thing with the Girl Scouts - I sent her with a package of Oreos, and the girls ate most of the cookies on the plates they were supposed to be giving to the aged and lonely in our area. None of the Oreos made it home or on her plate, and  I finished off the two cookies that DID make it home.  The ones with the butterscotch chips.  I'm feeling very aged, and the cookies looked all lonely.
  10. Nativity.  I own a Fisher Price one.  Aaaaand it just didn't make it upstairs.  It's by the advent calendar.

Good Mom:

  1. I bought matching pjs for all my kids!  That is quite a feat with 3 boys, one girl, and a huuuuge difference in sizes.
  2. I took my kids to see Santa!  On a Saturday and dressed up no less! Got the picture too.  I thought Matthew had scanned it so I could add it here as proof.  He didn't. Ah well.  That's on HIS to do list.  NOTA BENE:  He read this post and took umbridge at the very notion that he didn't scan it in.  I said, "Well show it to me, " and he said, "It's right here.... in a non-traditional "scan" folder..."  an hour of clicking later, there was no pic, from this year, that had been scanned.
  3. I put up the elves on the shelves.  This took quite some doing too.  They are supposed to come the night after Thanksgiving dinner, and go home on Santa's sleigh.  Do you have any idea how crazy it is to remember those things on those busy nights!!! Not to mention getting them in and out of the rooms where your kids sleep!  They are tucked away until next year...
  4. I bought gifts ahead of time, and stashed them at Matthew's office to avoid any mistaken discoveries. 
  5. My children still believe that Santa is rad and in tune with their every childish wish and Christmas desire, while also believing that Mom & Dad are old fuddy duddy's who give them dumb gifts like socks and pants... and matching pajamas.
  6. Isaiah got his new baby ornaments!  One from the White House, one from Hallmark - a porcelain rattle that is really cute, and of course SOLD OUT in my local Hallmark thus necessitating a drive up to 106th.  I found a cute baby blue pig too.  Couldn't resist. Had my local vinyl lady print out his name and birth year to make it personal.
  7. Set up the train.  It was for one day only - but we got it up, as though Santa had needed it to be running with hoppers filled full of colorful chocolate goodies before he left.
  8. Family Talent.  I bought whoopie cushions and taught my kids the lyrics to "Up On the Housetop" and had us sit on the cushions and stand up in time with the lyrics.  Hilarity ensued.  I thought of that myself!  I did!
  9. Mended the stockings.  The stupid acetate has been shredding for a few years, and I finally pulled out the sewing machine, and mended them up.  So satisfying to have that done!
So maybe I was a bit more bad than good.  But for good, bad, or indifferent IT'S OVER!  I can wrap up this year and shove it in a box to stress about again next year.  But for now... I'm just happy getting the kids ready to go back to school.  That I can do!  THAT I can DO!  And I've blogged at least once in the New Year.