30 March 2013

I resemble that remark.

Not actually from my phone.  But not entirely out of the realm of possibility either.



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17 March 2013

My New Daily Challenge: Join Me!

Remember that time in your life when there was always enough time to start a new habit...tomorrow?

Remember when all things seemed possible and doable and even guaranteed to happen?

Remember when you were young and your whole life was ahead of you?

Well, the whole rest of my life is still ahead of me, but I'm not getting any younger, and the time to start a new habit is pretty much in the NOW! DON'T PUT ANYTHING OFF category.


In that vein, and in the spirit of starting small and manageable, I recently joined an online Daily Health Challenge group.  Each day, I receive an email with a very small and simple "challenge," something to do that is related to overall health and well-being but that does not require much in the way of time or energy.

It's awesome.

I like it because doing these daily challenges is my small (I keep using that word!) way of turning this boat around, of starting a slow and perhaps arduous process of training myself to be healthier.  These are easy steps to take, but ones that are starting to turn me into a more health conscious person.

JOIN ME!  Check out this website and see if it's something you might want to do as well.

Happy healthfulness to all!

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13 March 2013

Why My House Is Such a Mess

Saw this on Facebook this morning, posted by Blick Art:


I live with a whole bunch of creative types.  It's super annoying.  But then, I get to live with things like this too...



...so on balance, I'd say I'm ahead of the curve, even if the curve is cluttered with markers and paper and beads and paint and feathers and pencil shavings and scraps and piles and lots and lots of people.

It's all perspective, baby.

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12 March 2013

An Eye Towards the Future

When you're six and you're the youngest in the family, you end up listening to all kinds of interesting family interactions.  Everyone else might think you're just sitting there oblivious, playing with your animal figures and singing One Direction songs to yourself.

But no.  You are listening.  And paying attention.  And processing information about the future.

In the last 24 hours, my six year old has been hanging out in the background of many a tense conversation between the parents of this house and one of our teenagers.

Her observation this morning:

"Mom, I tell ya', I am NOT looking forward to my teenage years."

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You and me both, sister.

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10 March 2013

Forget It

I meant to do my homework: I just forgot!

I didn't mean to not do the dishes: I forgot!

I forgot to take my clothes off the bathroom floor, I forgot to take the dog for a walk, I forgot to tell dad that you called, I forgot to talk to my teacher about my grade, I forgot to get my laundry ready for you, I forgot my house key, I forgot my cell phone, I forgot my soccer ball, I forgot my own freakin' name.

I did not, however, forget to eat an entire package of girl scout cookies: which reminds me, you need to add $4 to Lola's payment envelope.  I didn't forget to tell you that, did I?

"I forgot" is quickly becoming my most despised phrase of all time.

* * *

Today, in the van, a tussle was brewing.  Teenager was thrashing about in indignation because I was holding his feet to the fire on an assignment he had forgotten to hand in.  This, with some predictability, led to a general thrashing about over grave issues of injustice like: "You always think I'm going to screw up!"

I, with equal predictability, found myself saying loathsome stereotypical parenting things like: "Homework is your responsibility.  I know you would rather hang out with your friends today, but you had a very full weekend, and now it's time to do some work.  I know you are not happy with your grades right now, and this is the perfect opportunity for you to apply yourself and do better.  Doing your work is the better choice, even if it's not the one you want to make: everyone has to learn to choose to do the harder, less appealing thing, for the sake of something greater."

Gag.  I HATE saying stuff like that.

But perhaps, if I'd said more of it earlier, I'd be saying less of it now.  Let me be a lesson to you: don't be afraid to be a stereotype.  It will pay off for you in the long run.  Stereotypes don't come from nothin', yo.

Anyway.  So I was getting the "But I forgot" excuse, served up with an impressive level of pathos, and it occurred to me (for about the billionth time) that I needed some way to change this wrong-headedness, this idea that "I forgot" somehow meant that I would miraculously say: "Oh, well, in that case, by all means, you don't need to do anything.  I mean, if you FORGOT, then it's not really your fault, right?  Here, have a cookie."

I think we all know that was NOT going to be my response.  But as I sat there, trying to think of what to say to this stricken, horrified teenager, whose mother was actually going to make him do homework on a Sunday afternoon, I felt my adrenalin start to marshall her troops, I felt my pre-frontal cortex packing up for a vacation, and I felt a rant of epic proportions coming.  Here is a mild version of what I wanted to say:

"I FORGOT IS NOT AN EFF-ING ANSWER!  I FORGOT DOES NOT GET YOU OFF THE EFF-ING HOOK!  STOP SAYING I FORGOT LIKE IT'S SUPPOSED TO MAKE EVERYONE GIVE YOU A BREAK AND MAKE AN EXCEPTION AND LAY DOWN A PATH OF PALMS FOR YOU AND GIVE YOU MILK AND COOKIES INSTEAD OF A LINE IN THE SAND!"

And thus, the launch began:

"YOU NEED TO START UNDERSTANDING..."

Starts off ambiguously, right?  I could go either way.  I could go Linda Blair on his backside, or I could meeeelllllllooooooow and breathe and hold his feet to the fire without being a total bitch.

I would like to say that I chose the latter path because I carefully considered what a Good Mother would do.  But really, here's what I said, and the only reason I said it was to avoid poking the angry bear my teenager had come in the front seat of the minivan.  Turns out, avoidance can be a fabulous parenting strategy:

"You need to start understanding...(control restraint composure anger management)...that if you write things down, you have a better chance of remembering them."

It was lame, it was weak, it was not want I really wanted to say.  But it somewhat communicated what I need from this kid without requiring me to make a deposit into his Future Therapy Account.

I was sweaty and exhausted by the effort it took not to say what was really on my mind.  I still don't have a way to change the wrong-headed teenager thinking.  All I have are weak but true words that might, just might, someday sink in.

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Thank goodness one of my non-teenagers made gingersnaps today.  My Herculean effort not to scar my son was rewarded with this:



Is it a problem that I ate about 12 of them?

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05 March 2013

For Those of You Who Have Children and Don't Know It...

A friend sent me these hilarious Church Bulletin Bloopers tonight, and after laughing so hard I couldn't breathe for several minutes, I had to wonder if these are real or if some clever person made them up.

I can absolutely believe that these typos could happen in real life: I once proofread some copy that was supposed to say Public Policy Training, and completely overlooked the fact that the first word was missing a 'L,' so I have some first hand experience with outrageous misprints.

And I have to say, I don't really care if each of these is from real life or not; when something makes me laugh this hard, I just say THANK YOU.  And then I share.  So even though I'm sure this is receiving wide circulation via email and on social networks, I happily offer it to you as well.

CHURCH BULLETIN BLOOPERS AND TYPOS 
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The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.
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The Fasting and Prayer Conference includes meals.
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For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs.
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At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be 'What Is Hell?' Come early and listen to our choir practice.
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Eight new choir robes are currently needed due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
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The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare's Hamlet in the Church basement Friday at 7 PM . The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.
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Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It's a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.
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The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on the Water.' The sermon tonight: 'Searching for Jesus.'
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Don't let worry kill you off - let the Church help.
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Miss Charlene Mason sang 'I will not pass this way again' giving obvious pleasure to the congregation.
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Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
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Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.
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Next Thursday there will be tryouts for the choir. They need all the help they can get.
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Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
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The church will host an evening of fine dining, super entertainment and gracious hostility.
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Remember in prayer the many who are sick of our community. Smile at someone who is hard to love. Say 'Hell' to someone who doesn't care much about you.
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Potluck supper Sunday at 5:00 PM - prayer and medication to follow.
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This evening at 7 PM there will be a hymn singing in the park across from the Church. Bring a blanket and come prepared to sin.
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A bean supper will be held on Tuesday evening in the church hall. Music will follow.
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Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 AM. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the B. S. is done.
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The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the Congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday.
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Weight Watchers will meet at 7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.
----------------------------------------------.
Low Self Esteem Support Group will meet Thursday at 7 PM. Please use the back door.
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The Associate Minister unveiled the church's new campaign slogan last Sunday: 'I Upped My Pledge - Up Yours.'

You're welcome!

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04 March 2013

Clue #1 That I Have A Problem

Sadly, I must admit, I am one of those pathetic people who is tethered to her smart phone.

I obsessively check email (two accounts), Facebook (1 personal account, 3 pages), blog stats, news feeds, etc.  I even play my Scrabble app too late into the night.  Leaving the phone alone while driving is a struggle.  Sometimes, (and this is so embarrassing), my hand aches from holding the phone too much.

It's not something I am proud of, and I am trying hard to break some bad habits when it comes to my destructive relationship with this powerful and useful--and necessary--technology.

But here's how I really knew I had a problem:
Bold nowhere else in his life, Henry was bold in this: no matter what the coach said, or what his eyebrows expressed, he would jog out to shortstop, pop his fist into Zero's pocket, and wait.  If the coach shouted at him to go to second base, or right field, or home to his mommy, he would keep standing there, blinking and dumb, popping his fist.  Finally someone would hit him a grounder, and he would show what he could do.
What he could do was field.  He'd spent his life studying the way the ball came off the bat, the angles and the spin, so that he knew in advance whether he should break right or left, whether the ball that came at him would bound up high or skid low to the dirt.  He caught the ball cleanly, always, and made, always, a perfect throw.
Sometimes the coach would insist on putting him at second base anyway, or would leave him on the bench; he was that scrawny and pathetic-looking.  But after some number of practices and games--two or twelve or twenty, depending on the stubbornness of the coach--he would wind up where he belonged, at shortstop, and his black mood would lift.

The above passage is from the book I just started reading, called The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach.  And when I read it, I knew just how bad my technology addiction had become, because I wept from the sheer joy and relief triggered in me by reading beautiful written words.

I have fallen out of the habit of reading.  I recently and finally finished reading Cutting for Stone, a wonderful book I would highly recommend to anyone, but a book that, sadly, took me so long to read--because of my wonky priorities--that my enjoyment of it was diminished by the guilt I felt over leaving it alone for too many weeks and repeatedly having to go back and reread passages that had grown dim in my mind.

A hazy thought occurred to me that I didn't want that to happen anymore, so while visiting my parents last week, I asked my mom for a book recommendation.  She gave me The Art of Fielding.  So really, she's the one who made me cry: thanks Mom.

Does it sound crazy that simple words brought me to tears?  Words about some kid playing shortstop?  Words that aren't describing anything remotely tragic, or sad, or even sentimental?

It sure felt crazy to me.  But those words were like water to a person who didn't realize how thirsty she was, didn't realize what she had been missing.   Nothing made me realize more clearly how much time I am wasting with my phone, how much I am robbing myself of, than reading a good book.



Happily, the cure is simple: Read beautiful words.   I will take that medicine with relish.

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01 March 2013

Exhibit A: How Strong I Am


Motherhood requires superhuman strength.

Nowhere is this more apparent than when she must resist the urge to say "I told you so!"

Seriously, I think I'm going to hurt myself in this effort.

If I don't post in a few days time, it means I've collapsed in exhaustion.  Send reinforcements.

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