Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Living in the Moment...

I am trying very hard to "live in the moment." It is not nearly as easy as it sounds.

The world is full of fun, crazy, frustrating, important, frivilous distractions.

For example: Go to check e-mail for just a minute- 2 hours later find that fishing pole you've been looking for on e-bay. Run into the store for milk- end up in the clearance aisle with a cute pair of tights and a cd of "Elton John's Greatest Hits Live".

Neither of these things are in themselves bad. But when you are trying to do one thing, it is difficult to get that one thing done without being tempted to switch gears every few minutes.

My father would say it was less about "living in the moment" and more about "staying on-task". I agree- to a point.

But where I find the "living in the moment" to be most profoundly necessary- and, yet, sometimes the hardest- is when it comes to spending time with people.

I have made a committment to my children to not answer my cell phone while I'm driving them in the car from place to place (which is a lot). And I am really good about it- most of the time.

During that time we talk, laugh, fight, we sing along to the radio together or I sometimes just listen to them. But the point is- I'm THERE. I have a completely captive audience with them then. And I want to make the most of it!

In the evenings my husband and I try to watch family-friendly TV and/or movies until after bed time. Then he'll turn on the bad guys-n-guns with the potty mouths.

I insist on dinner together. I'm trying hard to make sure we use "real" plates, silver wear and glasses. This gives the visual cues that this is a "dinner" and not just a snack to be inhaled while watching tv. (We do that sometimes, too- but I try to keep the distinction.)

Church is not "optional"; it is a family event, in which we participate together. And we support each other in sports, school events, and all the other happenings that come along.

I try to "be there" because I know that children grow up and move on. And I don't want to miss anything. Each year, each new stage- it just keeps getting better.

Remember when you were so in love with your spouse you couldn't stand to be away from them? Can you think of someone that you so admired that you just loved listening to their thoughts and ideas? Do you love just hanging out with your best friend?

My family is all of this and more. My kids amaze me. They make me laugh. They inspire me. And I miss them terribly when they are off doing "their thing".

But I also love watching them learn. And I am happiest when I know they are happy- even when that means they spend time away.

And spending time away with outside influences is healthy and necessary for them and for me. It makes appreciate what we have even more.

Try "being there" today. Ask questions, listen to them- and prepare to be amazed!

E-Mails Gone Bad

I think I must have a sign on my e-mail address that says, "kick me".
Honestly, do you get a TON of e-mails from well-meaning friends and associates that end by saying, "Pass this on to everyone in the free world or suffer dire consequences and have bad luck for the rest of your natural born life"? Because I seem to get all of them.
And, while I love many of the people who forward this stuff, I really want to reply back with, "what did I ever do to you???"
So, what I usually do is:
1. See if it's worth sending. If not-- well, let's just say I don't have a snowball's chance in hell if all the curses/hexes/superstitions actually come to fruition...
2. If it is worth sending, I try to be selective and only send it to the recipients to whom it would actually matter. And then, I erase the send-it-on-or-else part.
3. If it's one of those that say, "You will make money off of this"-- you DON'T! I'll admit it-- I've actually been a sender of these a few times just to see-- they never worked.
4. If it's one of those that say some poor, sick, dying child is sending this as their last wish- I wish the child the best, keep them in my prayers, and hit delete. No reason to pass on a bunch of pity...
5. It it's one of those that say, "This will do something neat-- just watch"-- those DON'T either. Again, I have tried, and found that not a single one produced anything but another friend leary of opening my e-mail.
So, while e-mail has certainly brought us into an age of instantly being able to talk to friends and family, near and far-- it has also created a whole new genre for the chain letter. The chain letter was not liked in the snail mail form-- and I find it even more frustrating when I'm trying to be efficient with my limited time on the computer.
So if you want to forward me one of those e-mails, please don't. Please just send me an e-mail that says "hi" and a few pictures of the kids!...

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste...

I am almost certain that I am missing a gene that I was supposed to have gotten.

My father & brother are absolute whizzes at remembering names, dates, events, trivia, etc. I, on the other hand, walk into a room and can't remember what I was going to get or do.

I don't even like introducing my husband to people, because I get tripped up on his name. (Is that bad?)

I do "roll call" whenever I'm disciplining one of my children. Everyone, including my dear husband, gets their name called, until I finally point to the child who is getting reprimanded and shriek, "YOU! Whoever 'you' are- STOP!"

I forget fairly pertinent information from very personal conversations with friends. God forbid I run into someone from my HighSchool who says, "How are you? Remember when we..."-- because I won't.

I wasn't always like this. Before I had children, I had a mind like a steel trap. I could recall what a friend liked in their coffee, where my husband and I first kissed or if I had told someone a story, thus saving them from hearing a story repeated and repeated and repeated...

I think the children effected me because 1) I don't get any sleep and 2) I have to repeat myself to them all the time.

As a parent, I'm sure you relate. How many times do you have to say "stop" before you go crazy? How many times do you have to sing the same song or read the same story to a toddler before you think, "I wish this book would just spontaneously combust!" I think it makes you kind of zone out, and not pay attention to what's going on around you.

Granted, I am always counting to three, to make sure I can find three children. I have an automatic homing device that can hear a "real" cry, sense the danger of burning candles or a tall stair case, or be able to wake up from a deep sleep for a child's fever.

I have also found I can remember how many time I had to scream "STOP" (as in, I've told you a thousand times to stop it!), what punishments my children have incurred (as in, You aren't supposed to be eating or breathing! You're on restriction!), and what time they are supposed to go to school (as in, Let's go so you won't be late. Mommy only gets so much time to work before I have to pick you back up!)

This lack of memory thing is no fun. It affects my housework: laundry can sit in the washer for a loooooonggggg time before it "smells" past the laundry room. It affects my personal relationships: Oops, I forgot we had plans, sorry... It affects my diet: I don't think I ate, and I'm hungry, so, yes, I'll have a large piece of cake, thanks.

So if you are reading my blog on any kind of a regular basis and I write this again, sorry... I'm hoping to sleep longer than 3 hours one night and get a little bit of my memory skills back.

P.S. I'd really like to see a mandatory action of having everyone have their name tattooed on their forehead. That would be extremely helpful!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Kids Know All...

I was taking cupcakes to school for my child's birthday, and went to the ladies' room. When I turned the corner, there were to young girls who looked simultaneously surprised and guilty to see an adult walk in. They both overcorrected whatever it was they were doing and became sickenly sweet and polite. I smiled at them and went into the next stall.

I could see between the door and the door frame into the bathroom. The girls broke into embarassed, silent giggles, and stole glances at my stall door. Then they quickly exited the bathroom.

Now, I know these girls were doing nothing more harmful than perhaps splashing water on one another. Or maybe talking about a teacher. There was no evidense of anything illegal or immoral. It appeared to all just be fun between two friends.

But the thing that cracked me up about the whole thing was that the kids acted like they had really pulled one over on me. I really wanted to walk out and say, "Hey, girls, I know I'm not young like you- but that's exactly the point. I have been exactly where you are. I'm not as stupid as you think I am."

I want to say that to my kids, too. When they roll their eyes at me, or get that glazed look when they aren't paying attention. They huff at me and say, "You don't understand." (Translation: you aren't cool. And you just don't get it.)

But I DO get it. I've been there! As adults, we've all been there. But kids somehow believe that they are the first ones to ever have had the experience.

And I know I did it to my parents, too. I distinctly remember thinking "They just don't understand!!!!"

If I only knew then what I knew now- maybe I would have listened. Maybe I would have actually considered taking their advice instead of going the complete opposite direction (in some cases).

But I was a kid- and since I was a kid- the chances are I would have giggled, looked at my friend, and run out of the bathroom, too...

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Where have all the dust bunnies gone?

I want to be one of those girls who have NO dust bunnies. I have a friend who has no dust bunnies. It makes me so jealous to see how beautiful her house always is.
She has dinner on the table at 5:30. And she can find anything in her house- because it's clean!
I would also like to write stories and be a published, famous author. And I would love to have my own spa line. My dream would be to have a facility that housed all sorts of fine arts, including dance, singing, music, arts, various crafts for kids and adults.
Unfortunately, (or possibly fortunately) I am actually one of those girls who is in the car shuttling kids back and forth for the majority of the day. Or going to a meeting to determine the best time for the next meeting. Or going to Wal-mart for the third time that day because I forgot the milk the first two times.
I'm also the girl who buys Lunchables on the way to school because I forgot there was a field trip. I vacuume around the furniture when guests come- so the floor looks good...
but the dust bunnies are still lurking...
We eat dinner in the car on the way to PTO, church council, or volunteer meetings. The birthday gifts for the many birthday parties have to be wrapped in the trunk of the mini van in the driveway of the party.
But it's okay.
I'll take dust bunnies over an empty house any day!
Someday things will calm down & the dust bunnies will be swept away.
But for now, I'm enjoying the craziness of being a family who enjoys doing things together. We like helping people by working on committees. We like socializing. And we have fun.
Someday the dust bunnies WILL be gone.
But our memories will be full of being together.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

What are you wearing???

Why are bikinis out in the stores in the middle of January??? Has noone looked outside and realized that there is SNOW on the ground???
OK- let's say for argument's sake that we are preparing all the snowbirds who go to the beach for their annual treck. But I just have to ask: Why do they even make bikinis over a size 10?
It is painfully apparent to me that the vast majority of the people have no ability to monitor themselves in regards to appropriate clothing for their size.
Case in point: "muffin tops". The hip-hugger pant revolution looked great for women who wore the right size. However, even thin girls who got the pants too tight looked like they had a roll over the waste band. Then, add the cropped tops to show off the tummies, and voila'! A great big roll of fat hanging over the pants. (yum)
Ladies, just because you can't see what kind of load you're pulling behind you, doesn't mean we can't. Please, do us all a favor: look in a mirror!
I will never be "Twiggy" (Kate Moss for the younger generation). But I know my limits. I know that tailored looks "together" "sophisticated" and "thin". Oversized looks "sloppy" "thrown together". But "too tight" SCREAMS "Help! I'm a fat person in a skinny person's clothing, and I can't get out!"
Moral of the story: Leave the muffins at the bakery & find some clothes that fit!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Peace to the broken hearted

One of my very dearest friends in life is watching her loved-one pass.

I want so much to say or do something that would just make everything "OK". I wish I could have a magic pill to make her loved one heal and live.

And when I try to put myself in her shoes, to imagine exactly what she is going through, I can't breathe.

The difference between sympathy & empathy is that when you empathize, you have a first-hand knowledge of the person's plight.

I can't "officially" empathize. I have been fortunate to have not experienced that kind of loss-- yet.

I know I will someday. And that knowledge shapes my days: I make myself take the extra 10 minutes to tuck the kids in bed even though I have laundry to do; I take scads of pictures at family events; I try to tell the people I love how much they mean to me.

It also makes me feel guilty if I don't take advantage of each and every second: When I lose my temper because I'm tired; When I wish the kids were back in school at the end of the summer; When I hold on to petty grudges; When I feel I've hurt someone.

My heart is heavy for my friend & her family. I'm tired, but I can't sleep. Instead, I hurt for her.

I try for a moment to imagine myself in her situation. I am overwhelmed. I can't allow myself to go to that place for more than a moment.

I pray that when that time is real, I have the grace she has. And that I'm able to guide my family and friends as she does.

I know with all my heart that this life is a blink of the eye before heaven is forever. I know we will see everyone again there. But the missing of a friend or loved one until we see them on the other side can leave you empty, tired, angry. I pray that I am full of hope, love, grace and peace, as my friend is now.

And I pray that God holds them in the very palm of His hand, close to His heart, breathing every breath with them, letting them grieve but giving them hope so they may feel joy again.

Never a Dull Moment...

I am the girl who still plays "When I Grow Up, I Want To Be..."

I spent my entire childhood & growing-up years thinking how much fun it would be to do EVERYTHING, and I never actually settled on one thing.
Add in an overactive optimism, and you begin to get the picture of what my resume looks like.
I am the original "Jack of all trades: Master of none"

But it's all because there are so many great things to do! Who wants to do the same old boring thing all the time?

Of course, my sweet, patient husband reminds me: "That's what HOBBIES are for!"

Pbbffff... Boooorrrrinnng!!!! I enjoy learning new things. And there's always a bit of me that thinks, "I can surely do that, too- perhaps even better!"

So, I have created a killer recipe for a massage oil candle. I have a fabulous embroidery machine. I acted in high school. I can decorate cakes. I dream of being able to write like Jodi Picoult. I end up heading up and/or serving on various committees and boards. I have signed up to sell (mostly buy) multitudes of "Home Party" types of businesses. I have co-created a fairly sought-after line of gourmet goodies. I'm a licensed cheer coach. I have my health insurance license. I have wildly expensive software for website design and graphic design (but I don't know how to use it well). I sing in the shower in such a way that even Simon would send me on to the next round. And I have three of the best kids ever.

If I must be honest, the entire reason for the creation of this blog is because I read a fabulous article by a mom in a magazine, and she said she had a blog. Oh my, that was just like waving Jimmy Choos in front of a fashionista!

So, I guess I'll "blog" (which I suspect is a combination of "blab" and "log"). (Who knows? Maybe THIS will be "the one" and I'll have such fabulously insightful and witty blogs, that national magazines will pay to print them!)

Well- at least my husband will be happy that this venture is FREE... enjoy.... :)