Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Clean House is a Sign of...

A clean house is a sign of many things:
  • A family who works diligently together to make the house clean
  • A great housekeeper who comes in and makes the place shine
  • A mother/father who are task masters and are militant about the cleanliness of their house
  • A mother/father who wants desperately to impress someone
  • A person/people who are organized and like to have things neat and tidy
  • Other

Conversely, a messy house is also a sign of many things:
  • Laziness
  • Lack of time
  • Lack of respect
  • Lack of concern
  • A family who is only home to sleep and eat and throw things about before they move on to their next scheduled event
  • A mother/father who values time with something else more (friends, sports, hobbies, work, etc.)
  • A mother/father who values time with their family more
  • Other
Unfortunately, I happen to fall into the latter category. And, while my reasons are pure and valid, it is still a messy house.
  1. I value my time with my family more than I value a you-can-eat-off-the-floor kind of house
  2. I am trying really, really, really hard to improve because other members of my family would like the house to be cleaner
Well, what about those other family members who value cleanliness so much? Great question! Here's the thing: hubby and I are ultimately in charge of our household. Not much gets done without one of us pushing for it. That's not to say our kids are lazy or lack initiative. But they do require direction. And they are more likely to work when they see the leadership working. 

So this summer my goal is to declutter. In the extreme (because I can never just "kind of" do something).
  • I have pulled out every towel from our linen closet for inspection, culled through them,  and then folded up the "keepers" and put them away.
  • I have scoured the medicine cabinet, which was full to excess, and thrown away all of those cough medicines and baby Tylenol from 2002.
  • I have gone through my closet with extreme zeal and vigor in order to rid myself of all the extra clothes that haven't fit for twenty years.
  • And there is more- much more- to come.

The family is impressed, although a tiny bit frightened. What if their room, their possessions, are  next? (Well, they actually are.)

By the end of the summer my house may not be the cleanest, or even the most organized, on the block. But we will be able to:
  • Have extra space in closets and in rooms
  • Find things easily so as not to buy multiple duplicates (yep, happens all the time)
  • Be able to keep things generally more tidy, as everything will have a place

Yes, these are lofty goals. But they're coming along.

And the best part? I'm not sacrificing time with the family! (Thank you, jobs, VBS, mission trips, church camp, and friends!)

Once this is done, I shall tackle my next goal: cooking fabulous meals (almost) every night (instead of once every two weeks, at best)...

Well, a girl can dream anyway... 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Surprised? (Sadly) Not Really.

"We continue, as a society, to believe that we are, as individuals, supposed to be "right." And, more importantly, that my individual "right" supercedes yours. In other words, my Superego is not only offended by your Id, I have somehow come to believe that my Ego's duty is to police your Id." 

For the last several days social media and news outlets have been on fire with the news of Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner's (partially physically; completely "emotionally") gender change and subsequent ESPY award for doing so.

According to the June 2, 2015, news services (

"The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is named for the late tennis player, who died of AIDS-related pneumonia in 1993 after contracting HIV through a blood transfusion. Past winners have included Jim Valvano, Muhammad Ali, Dean Smith, Nelson Mandela, Billie Jean King, Pat Summitt, Robin Roberts and Michael Sam." 

"Bruce [Jenner] has received many accolades over the years for being one of the greatest Olympians of our time, but The ESPYS are honored to celebrate Bruce becoming Caitlyn," ESPN executive producer Maura Mandt said. "She has shown the courage to embrace a truth that had been hidden for years, and to embark on a journey that may not only give comfort to those facing similar circumstances, but can also help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces."
Many have been shocked and outraged at Jenner's choices and the media's reaction. My question is: Why? Why the shock? Why the outrage? This is just a symptom of the disease of a collective and individual hyperactive Id; just another in a long line of people being encouraged to "do what makes them feel good" while "taking sides" by the media, advertisers, and "popular culture"; just another product of someone else telling my Superego what to do.

So am I surprised at the outrage over this latest media phenomenon. Sadly, no. We are a nation of individuals who believe that only "my" opinion is right- whether that opinion is truly ours, or just a reflection of the media. With one side telling us it is to be celebrated and honored, and the other side telling us it is a sin and blaspheme, we are left to struggle with our own conscience, or our Ego, which is the reconciliation of our Id and Superego. How in the world did we get to this place?
In the late 1980's, talk show hosts began a new kind of entertainment. Non-celebrity, everyday people were encouraged to go on national television via Oprah, Geraldo Rivera, Maury Povich, and Jerry Springer (just to name a few) and reveal their deepest secrets, most painful memories, and current shortcomings. This opened a veritable Pandora's Box.  People were literally begging to go on television to have a national therapy session so that 1) they could have their moment in the spotlight and/or 2) they could glean the sympathy of viewers, thus "proving" that they were "right."

Obviously, this was not the first time people tried to find a scapegoat on whom to blame all their problems. However, never had it been done for the "common man" on such a national/global scale. This personal catharsis on national television gave the viewer permission to dig deep and discover who had "ruined" his or her life.  This was the beginning of the end of Personal Accountability. Not surprisingly, finding creative ways to say, "it's not my fault," paid big for sponsors and "news" media, and it paved the way for the individual's Superego and Ego to be dictated by "popular culture."

As a result of discovering that our parents were indeed to blame for all that was wrong in our lives, society decided to be proactive. No way was this enlightened generation going to allow their children to cast any blame on them. We wanted to "feel good" about ourselves, and we wanted our kids to like us, too. So we quit keeping score in baseball and soccer games; we tried to promote unity and cooperation on the field. We quit giving out trophies to only winners, lest the losers feel bad about themselves; instead, we gave trophies to anyone who participated. There was no single "golden egg" in the Easter egg hunt; rather there were as many "golden eggs" as there were children, and at the end of the hunt we divided the goodies equally.

Never has the word "fair" been so overused in the history of human life as it has been by this generation's parents and children. However, making sure everyone "feels good" about himself by using the media and popular culture's standards as our yardstick has proven to be a more difficult task for the individual than we imagined. We must take into account the parents, who obviously have a vested interest in their reputation and their children's happiness. We must take into account the children, who may or may not be particularly skilled, but nonetheless require encouragement, acceptance, and positive affirmations about whatever they pursue. And we must take into account society- particularly social media- who will crucify anyone who dares to suggest that things should be any different.
With advertisers pandering to this Id- this idea perpetuated by the media that the ultimate goal is self-fulfillment-  how can we really be blamed? Surely it's their fault. They are the ones who told us what beauty was, and how to purchase products to attain it. They are the ones who actually understand that responsibility is only important if a law suit is involved. They are the ones who saved us from our Superego. They are the ones who encouraged and sponsored the church of self-love, where the only worship is that of happiness, comfort, and "the good life." Indeed, they are the saviors who made our Egos more Id than Superego. Right?

Wrong. Feeling "good," amazingly enough, is not our purpose in life. No one can feel "good" 24 hours a day/7 days a week. There are bound to be days when even the most glamorous, the most successful, the most affluent, and the most brilliant feel "bad." And no amount of product- contrary to the media's claims- can make us "feel good" about ourselves long-term.

But it doesn't behoove the media and advertisers to tell us we are "good enough" just as we are, that our true purpose is to love others as much as we love ourselves. No, that is our own Superego's responsibility. We are accountable and responsible for telling ourselves and each other that every single person is valued and cherished- rarely as the media depicts and promotes.

And still, the hardest part is remembering that we are not "number one" (as the media would like us to believe), we do not have more rights, and we are not more special than anyone else. And while we may be the only person in our own personal solar system, we are not the only person in the universe.

What does this have to do with Caitlyn (formerly known as Bruce) Jenner and the ESPY awards? Great question.

It seems that somewhere along the way we gave up being our own Ego and let the news media, the advertisers, and social media take over. And we've already discussed that none of those entities have our personal best interest in mind. They are far more interested in the sensationalism, the reckless abandon, the outrageous, the beautiful, the now.

Do I personally believe that Caitlyn/Bruce Jenner "deserves" the ESPY award over all athletes in the world today? Do I think it's "fair"? Certainly there are other people who could easily qualify for this prestigious award. But, really, it's not my call. It is up to the entity of ESPN - which, may I remind you, is that same media who wants to create controversy to solicit response and glean dollars from us. ESPN does not take a popular vote, nor do they have to.  They are not ultimately responsible for making you "feel good."

Do I think Jenner had the "right" to transgender?  My Superego may or may not esteem the value of "right to choose." But ultimately, that is my value. It is my Ego that unites my Superego and my Id- not yours, not Jenner's, and certainly not the media's. Whether the media and I agree or not, that value is still utterly and completely mine.

However, we continue, as a society, to believe that we are, as individuals, supposed to be "right." And, more importantly, that my individual "right" supercedes yours. In other words, my Superego is not only offended by your Id, I have somehow come to believe that my Ego's duty is to police your Id. After all, we have been seeking approval from others since the dawn of time. And the ultimate approval is being deemed "right."

It may make me "feel good" to think I am "right," but it does not, nor should it ever, impede upon your "right." That goes for both sides of an argument.

Long story short - I'm not going to let the media, the news, society, social media, or my next door neighbor tell me and my Superego what is "right." And neither should you.

Friday, December 27, 2013


Amy was completely delighted to finally get her ears pierced. We made her wait until she was 12. Admittedly, that was a completely arbitrary number. But we wanted our kids to grow up as slowly as possible.
We have watched other people we have known allow their toddlers to pierce their ears, wear make up, have tons of clothes, take limo rides to rock concerts and expensive restaurants, and become miniature adults, complete with horrific manners and demanding personalities. I don't mean to sound like I'm passing judgement; certainly we have made parental decisions with which others would not agree. However, our logic to making our kids wait to do simple things, like have a cell phone, pierce their ears, wear make up, wear high heels, shave their legs, etc., was that we wanted them to 1) enjoy their childhood, and 2) have something to look forward to. If a little girl is riding in limos at the age of six, what's so special about a limo at prom or at their wedding? If a child goes to a One Direction concert and sits in the front row at age five, what is left for them to look forward to enjoying when they're fifteen or twenty five? If it's all been "done" at a young age, what is left to anticipate?
We know children are persistent when they want something. And they can be down-right annoying in their pursuit of whatever they want.
But consider Christmas: Arguably one the most fun and exciting parts of Christmas is the anticipation that builds into an absolutely frenzy by Christmas Eve. It's true that children want the toys and gifts they receive Christmas morning. But the gifts are even more fun and valued because they aren't granted or given the very moment they're requested. The desire blooms and is nurtured until it is satisfied at the first glance of that special toy or gift early Christmas morning.
We wanted to give that same feeling of Christmas satisfaction to our kids for some of the other milestones and moments of growing up.
So Amy just got her ears pierced. I believe she was one of the very last of her friends to do so.
But I can guarantee she will remember that moment as a special moment.
Next milestone: Emma gets her driving permit... Oh my... I think the ear piercing will be far easier on MommyBarbie...
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Thursday, November 14, 2013

No Texting Zone

When you send someone an electronic correspondence, it behooves you to check carefully to make sure the correct recipient is in the address bar. Dear hubby, due to neglecting this tidbit of texting etiquette, has now become the official poster child of the cause.

Evidently, he sent me a sweet, romantic text saying, "Have I told you lately I'm madly in love with you?" (Yes, I am aware that I have the BEST guy ever.)

In fact, had I gotten that text I would've immediately replied with something equally nauseatingly sweet and romantic.

However, that text was inadvertently sent to his last phone recipient, who also happened to be his very male, very retired-military boss.

When this little mishap was relayed to me this evening, I hooted and giggled and then laughed some more.

This event turned out just fine for us, but should serve as a cautionary tale to emailers and texters alike: be careful to check BEFORE you hit "send". A jealous spouse or a terse boss who doesn't find humor in situations like that could've very well been on the other end of that text.

So text and email with care. And don't worry about getting an errant text from dear hubby; he's probably just going to call people on the phone and speak to them personally for a while...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Hairy Situation

ANo 0ll my life I have envied Barbie. Blue eyes, great figure without having to exercise,  all those great clothes and accessories.  And long, thick, blond hair (Except for the one whom I named Suzie. She got a bob that was absolutely awful when I was going through my phase of wanting my hair short and trying to live vicariously through her since I had to wear a pony tail for dance class).

Barbie's hair has always been a source of jealousy on my part. How is it fair that she gets to be forever platinum and coiffeured while I struggle with my thin non-discript colored hair every day?

So I held out hope for my children.  Perhaps they would have Barbie-esque hair. Just maybe my daughters would have lovely locks.

Emma's hair looked exactly like Shirley Temple's when she was young. Light brown tight ringlets with streaks of blond encircled her precious face. I actually had people ask me if I curled it or even permed it. (I was polite, but really wanted to exclaim, "Why, yes.  I got my two year old to sit still through a perm. NOT.")

Today her hair hangs down her back in gorgeous golden brown waves- except for when she straightens it with a flat iron.

Amy got such thick hair we've had to have it thinned whenever she's gotten her hair cut. It has immense body, and she does nothing to it other than brush it to make it beautiful.

So MommyBarbie's hair has never been anything to write home about. But somehow I went against all genetic odds and produced children with fairytale worthy hair. I was pleased.

Lately, however, Emma has been wanting to change her hair- make it straighter, color it some odd shade of eggplant or fushia. This makes me sad. And yet it is simply another example to give proof positive that we always want what we don't have.

Last summer she had a hot pink streak in the back of her hair that washed out over time and was hidden in the back for family She was elated to be a little rebellious; I was delighted she accepted my compromise.

We make concessions as parents.  Certainly MommyBarbie preferred the pristine hair that blessed my daughter's head. But what are a few strands of pink in the big picture? It wasn't permanent. It was concealable. And it satisfied her desire.

Tomorrow I will be taking Emma to trim up the ends of her hair. I have conceded to a light color wash to darken her hair slightly.  Why? Because as a parent I realize the need for my child to be her own person. And when I give a little, my child is less inclined to want a lot; I give in inches, so she doesn't feel she has to take in miles.

MommyBarbie is silently weeping in the corner. But hopefully she will find solace in the fact that at least Amy's pony tail is still sans chemicals. (Of course, Amy's hair is delighted to see a brush from time-to-time. We aren't yet to the point of breaking out the Miss Clairol by any stretch of the imagination.)

I also hope that MommyBarbie will be proud of what an amazing, independent, level - headed young woman Emma is turning out to be. She could channel her self assurance and independent thinking into something destructive or just plain obnoxious. But she doesn't. She continues to amaze and shine at every turn...

Even if it is with colored, straightened hair...

She is beautiful. And I am happy.