Friday, July 18, 2014

A Heart Overused

I always knew, somewhere deep down, that my Daddy's heart would break before any of us was prepared for it to.  If he sat down and really  thought about it, Daddy would have realized it was bound to happen as well.  I'm not necessarily talking about the heartbreak we all suffer during our lives; if you have loved someone, cared for someone or even depended on someone over the course of your life, your heart has surely broken countless times. Yes, he has gone through that scenario many, many times just like you and I have.  Personally I believe we can't enjoy the glorious moments to their fullest without knowing the pain of lost love, death, and bitter disappointment. But the difference between my father and the rest of us is that his heartbreak and heartache goes much deeper than anyone that doesn't know him well could ever imagine.  I'm talking about the kind of break, or to be more accurate, destruction he was bound to experience because of how much he cares.

Thanks to modern medicine and numerous brilliant doctors and surgeons my Daddy is alive and doing well after his open heart surgery he underwent recently.  They did a wonderful job repairing the damaged part of his heart even if they don't know why it was literally falling apart.  But the why at the time wasn't important to them (or us) when he was rushed to the hospital - we just needed him fixed.  But I know the real reason his heart was giving out and to be honest I wouldn't change a thing that led him to needing it fixed.  I know that sounds...heartless (sorry, the wording fits) for me to say that so let me explain what I mean by that to you.

Men are funny creatures; the majority of the male population prides itself on being the stronger, tougher, and less passionate of the sexes.  From the time of Adam and Eve and the Cro-Magnon era men have clung to the hunter-gatherer persona (some men more than others - you know who you are) and still practically pound their chests when they conquer any task, menial or skilled.  Who's to blame them?  Not me, it's just entwined within their DNA or something.  Personally I don't mind a bit of that in my household...what?  It just means that his form of hunting equals going to the local grocery store instead of me and I'm totally cool with that.  Okay, it's really because I spend way too much money on crap that we don't need when I set foot in there and he goes by our weekly list.  I think I just undermined my likening my husband to a big ole' caveman when I brought up the grocery list.  Regardless, I like to think of it as him bringing home his latest kill for me to cook.  Wait, I don't cook!  Um, I'm going to stop there because I'm questioning my role as the dutiful wife now.  Anyway, my point is to say that it has been a part of human nature for the man to keep up a brave front, physical or emotional, in whatever crisis or predicament is at hand while the woman tends to dish out compassion in whichever form fits the situation.  However, there are those rare male souls that have somehow muddied the waters of the emotional chasm that has divided the sexes for hundreds of years and my father is listed amongst them.

My father has an immeasurable amount of wonderful qualities but the one that shines the brightest and far outweighs the others is his "emotional well" that never runs dry.  I am not exaggerating when I say that he feels every word he speaks or is spoken to him.  A simple "hello" from a stranger will remind him of a moment where he first made friends with a long-time friend or at the least how nice people can still be. And when he's telling you about how his favorite basketball team (go Duke!) was down by twelve points at the half and fought their way back for the win, his eyes, turning red-rimmed,  tell a story of hard work and perseverance that he admires to his core.  The best thing about Daddy telling you anything is the way he tells it and the way he makes you feel it as strongly as he does.  Sometimes I can't even look at him when he tells a story because I don't want to cry and let him know that his eyes have betrayed the part of him that's trying to be my strong, I'll mess with my fingernails or look at a non-existent bird flying by so I can remain composed while he finishes telling me about the time he swallowed so much bubblegum that he threw-up and my grandmother called the doctor because she thought the huge wad of gum that came up was his stomach.  We both laugh, he at the memory and I at the picture he painted for my minds eye, but my quick glance at his eyes and his smile that's strained because he's choking down that cry-lump one gets right before tears spill, I know his story is filled with a longing to see him mama just one more time because he misses her so.  I would like to add that among the top ten qualities that my dad possesses, ranking at the top is his story telling abilities.  When he tells you about sneaking his dog into the movie theatre as a young boy, your heart starts racing and you fear you're about to get caught if the dog barks even once!  Or the time that his pant legs caught on fire and he panicked and jumped on his bike to ride home to his parents for help all the while just fanning the flames...well, I'll just say that I felt stupid checking my calves for burn marks.

It's a bitter-sweet thing to feel so strongly about everything; being an emotional person is a gift because what the less emotional person enjoys for a moment, someone like my dad takes that moment and ties it or relates it to some part of his life story.  The "bitter" element of feeling so deeply is the part that feels the need to help, fix, change or take over an impossible task thinking that your passion will infect others and a change of heart or mind will occur.  People like my dad know that not everyone and everything can be fixed but part of him cannot help but think if he tries hard enough, says the right things, pleads to the compassionate part he hopes dwells in others that somehow resolution will manifest.  Because I was in my teen-I-don't-give-a-crap stage I wasn't aware of how he was at his job pre-retirement, but if he was anything like he is now, just trying to make his neighborhood better for all by serving on the Board...well, I'm surprised he didn't need that open-heart surgery before June 2014.  I'm not going to go into what he's tried to do to bring those people together because that's a whole other blog post, but I will say that he cares about the betterment of the place he wants to live the rest of his life so much so that he has poured everything he has into reaching each individual like they actually care as much as he does (disclaimer, some do and they know who they are).  Maybe he thinks that if he cares deeply enough it will cover the "caring deficit" that's plagued too many in his community?  No, that's not it.  It's that Daddy's passionate about anything he feels affects his family and friends and the minute he took that damn took him.

You see, where most of us have passion righting a wrong that's occurred or about a particular "thing" from time to time, my father has that passion about anything that's touched the life of someone he cares about past or present.  When he tells me the struggle, triumph or death of a neighbor or friend unbeknownst to me I leave feeling that I've made a new friend (or enemy...he's too forgiving) or lost someone too soon too.  I love that about my dad and I wish I was more like him even if it damaged my heart too.

I hope now you understand why I say I wouldn't change a thing about what happened to Daddy's heart; I can't imagine my father any other way than he is and I truly believe that all of our family and his friends would have empty holes in their hearts if he wasn't constantly filling those holes with pieces of his own.  Daddy, you have my heart too so use it anytime you need to!

Interesting facts about Daddy pertaining to this post:

1.  Oddly enough, emotional and caring as he is, my dad is a patented mechanical engineer. (If you are an engineer or married to one you'll know what I mean)

2.  Although mathematically inclined, he is crazy artistic!

3.  He has freakishly strong arms but hugs you like you're a delicate flower.

4.  His stories are amazing but he's shy and uncomfortable in large groups (though he hides it well when Mama drags him to a party).

5. He is the most level-headed person in the family even though things affect him the most.

6.  He once made a sock-puppet act so real I wanted to cry when it got angry. (So that's not about this post...I don't care, it was awesome)

And the best for last:

7.  My Daddy thinks his heart surgery made him more emotional than he already was.  Dear Daddy, you just had more to be emotional about these last few weeks and haven't realized that we've all seen the red-rimmed eyes that betray your inner-most feelings.  I speak for everyone when I say you affect our lives with your huge heart more than you'll ever know.

I love you Daddy!

Daddy and Me - June 2014

Friday, May 2, 2014


Ah, prom season - it's in full swing once again and just like all things teen related, there's gonna be drama.  This year, and probably building up over the last few from what I've seen, it's all about dress-coding girls.  How do I feel about this?  I'm not torn actually; I personally think that too many girls have lost the art of dressing in a way that leans more towards elegance and understated beauty.  Even worse, many of our young tend to dress more towards the "gosh, I hope my boyfriend confuses me with a prostitute tonight".

Not all girls feel the need to flaunt all their bits and pieces but unfortunately for the ones that actually have some taste, rules have had to be put in place that might actually be a little over the top, even in this moms opinion.  But don't despair all you young women out will continue to happen even in adulthood because those same fun-ruiners grow up and continue to ruin it for others in their place of business.  Matter of fact, the dress codes put into place for things like the prom, grade school, and the ever popular "Casual Friday's" in offices wouldn't have to be anywhere near as strict as they are except that the females that crave to be ogled on the regular will push the limits of whatever boundaries are set.  So, to help alleviate the problem or pending lawsuits, schools and businesses will over-do so as not to have to address the usual suspects over and over again.  Trust me, I've been in Human Resources for years and trying to tactfully fix the problem does not register with them. See, you can't say something straight up like "hey, quit dressing like you're about to go work the corner downtown!" or go about it like you're making an honest mistake to drop a hint, such as -  "Yo', I was chatting with Bob in the corner office and I promised him I'd ask if you were booked tonight and what are your rates?"  For most females either of those approaches would be their golden ticket outta there via a new yacht to their new beach house courtesy of <insert company name here>.  There are a few of those that will look mildly ill but immediately upon leaving your office will do a quick fist pump because they were successful in pulling off the slutty co-worker look.  You can't be too direct and you need to ease into the conversation with an adult about the choice of clothing they are wearing; you can be as direct as you wish when telling a teenager that they can't wear something at school like what they are parading around the halls in at the moment.  Let's compare the two types of conversations before we get back to the prom topic shall we?

Conversation One - HR vs. Jane Hoe (see what I did there? Not Doe but in 'Ho like Wh...anyway)

HR: Jane, can I see you in my office please?
Jane:  Sure, what's up? Something wrong?
HR:  Well,, not really wrong per say.  Have a seat.  Jane, let me just come out with it so you can get back to the wonderful work you do here at IAMBSINGU.  But before we go into that, I just wanted to let you know that your work here is invaluable and I've heard many great things about you.  But the reason I wanted to chat with you for a moment, other than your terrific sense of humor - you do make me laugh! Remember that time we had that team building meeting?  You had me in stitches young lady!  You had everyone doubled over in laughter that day! We've had some complaints about some of the things you wear here on Casual Friday so if...
Jane:  What?! What kind of complaints?  Who's complaining?  I bet it's that bitch in Accounting! What did she say?  What...
HR:  No, no, it wasn't her. I mean anyone in that department!  It honestly doesn't matter who it was; it's my job to talk to someone when things of this nature are brought to my attention.
Jane:  Things of this "nature?" What in the hot Hell does that even mean?  What's wrong with the way I dress?  Do YOU think there's anything wrong with what I'm wearing?
HR:  Do I?  Oh!  Well...well what I think doesn't matter really.  But, I mean, I may not choose to wear such tight jeans or such a low cut top?  But, I don't have the body type to pull it off like you do.  But if I did? Um, I'd still probably opt not to wear that sort of outfit.  If it were me that is.  Maybe you might want to think about a less provocative ensemble in the future?  You know how people talk and we don't want it to get so out of hand that we lose out on "Casual Friday's" you know?
Jane:  This is absurd!  Look! <stands and turns rear towards HR> Do these look too tight to you?! Do they?
HR:  Well, not everywhere; they certainly aren't too tight at your ankles.  Listen, let's not get all worked up here Jane.  If you could just save those particular jeans for after hours that'd be great.  Don't worry about the people talking, they'll move on to other things soon enough.  Oh look at the time!  Sorry, I'm going to have to cut this short I have a meeting in five minutes.  Jane, if you have any questions just let me know - my door's always open!  Thanks for helping save our not wearing those jeans again...or that top...

Conversation Two - Any School Official (ASO) vs. Female Student (FS)

ASO:  You're shorts don't come down to your fingertips Miss FS so they don't meet school policy. Call one of your parents to bring you a change of close then report back to class immediately.
FS:  But..but...okay.

My point about being direct and not entertaining an argument with a child or teenager about choice of clothing is that it's our job to teach each girl self respect and that means dressing appropriately and not like she's willing to do something that she's probably not even close to really wanting to.  We have to teach young women that if you dress like you want the boys to attack you then don't be surprised when they do just that. But also don't be surprised if they treat you like garbage later because in the end it's the girls that demand respect for themselves that they boys really drool after.  Teach the girls to leave something for the imagination when picking out that prom dress or beach attire, etc.  If we teach them young then they won't be conditioned to think that they have to look like a "working girl" to get ahead in the workplace later.

Now, I must add that I've seen and read some disturbing things about dress-coding too and it's only fair that I call out those teachers that have been wrongly turning girls away from one of the biggest days thus far in their short lives.  Teachers, school officials, etc you need to chill out just a bit and recognize when you're being ridiculous!  I am ashamed of some of you for turning away girls that look perfectly fine and possibly better dressed and covered than you were at your own prom.  One teacher turned a girl away that had on the same dress (different color) than another that was let in moments after! For shame Mrs. Teacher!  You're either picking favorites or just being vengeful for some reason.  If you can't take into account that every person is proportioned differently then this night of chaperoning was not something you should have signed up for.  At my height most dresses that come to the knee on my friends would be somewhere around three inches shorter on me but still at my lower thigh.  Would you turn me away for that?  Or rather would you let me in because I'm the quiet one in your class that does what she's told but you wouldn't let my friend in because she's too chatty during school even though we thought it would be cute to wear the same dress in different colors?  Another school in Charlotte actually kicked a girl out for wearing pants!  Please explain to me how that violated the schools dress-code! Sad.

The ugly truth is that it's mainly the parents fault for allowing their children to wear whatever their hearts desire from well before the prom was a thought in their heads.  You are parents! You are not pimps!  They'll find the right guy without you helping them find their cleavage before they've stopped giggling at the word breast.  So say it with me everyone:

Parents not pimps! Parents not pimps! Parents not pimps! One more time!! Parents not pimps!

Girls, please remember that you do not look beautiful when all of your junk is spilling out of the top of your strapless gown or if that gown is too tight.  I promise you'll look back and shudder because you stuffed yourself into a dress to impress someone and didn't realize that you looked like you were one hors d'oeuvre away from ripping through the seams like sausage out of it's casing.

Be stunning, be elegant, be proud of yourself and have the best night of your teenage lives!

Jennifer's (my twin sister) dress circa 1990 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Justin Bieber - A Tale of Parenting Failure

Although I have no immediate idea of how my feelings in this post about Justin Bieber will lean until I'm in the midst of writing it (sympathy, disgust, etc), I'd like to quickly point out that I blame the majority of his issues on his parents.  I wanted to make sure I threw that out first because I really don't want to spend the next few days worried that some outraged teen will show up to claim retribution by setting my house ablaze.  Those "Beliebers" can be a bit coo-coo...bless their hearts! But I'm also not excusing his behavior either; I have heard so much buzz about his ridiculous actions lately that I felt the need to "discuss" it all at once and publicly.  Well actually I really wanted to write his parents a nasty-gram shaming them for allowing their son to let his life spin so wildly out of control before it got this bad.  Can you imagine someone like you or me sending some finger-wagging letter to Pattie and Jeremy (his parents of course) like it would all of a sudden make them open their eyes to what their non-parenting has done to their once sweet son?  Here's how I'd like their reaction to be (and I know they're from Canada but for some reason I'm already thinking in a British accent.  Don't judge, it's uncontrollable and...well, it's how I work):

<picture Pattie slowly walking up their driveway after checking the mail and reading my extremely eloquent, albeit harsh, letter>

"Jeremy come here you have to see this!  Apparently we've been doing things all wrong for our son to become a contributing part of society.  As well we've let the money Justin has made blind us toward his retched behavior for years and years.  Let me finish reading...oh my she does use some colorful language!  Oh dear, she also says it's too late to fix it now because he's legally an adult and that we should request that he comes home to Canada post-haste and that you and I issue a public apology for being stupid.   Well, I wish this Barbara had written us years ago so we wouldn't have made these mistakes!  She must be right because the letter is so well written.  I think I'll start following her blog too!"

What?  I'm just saying that I wish that's how the letter would be received.  Also, I'm not sure why I didn't just email them in my little fantasy...huh, that is quite strange.  Oh, and they don't live in the same house.  Whatever.  Anyway, although I am trying to be a bit humorous with that whole letter thing, in my "wish response diatribe" I was actually highlighting the real underlying parental issues that has allowed Justin to feel like he can do whatever his heart desires.  He is clearly ignorant when it comes to laws, social grace, and even others feelings.  For those of you living in a world without his music, posters, movies, etc (clearly you don't have anyone living in your house younger than 20) let me briefly go over his beginnings so you can be up to speed.  This is in no way every little thing about him so no need to "scream" at me for leaving something inconsequential out.  Justin was born in 1994, his mother was just 18 at the time and never married the father.  At the age of twelve Bieber entered and won a singing talent show and his mother posted it on YouTube.  After continuing to post his songs online he was eventually picked up by a record company.  No one could or can deny his ability to sing...the boy has chops for sure.  He can also play four different instruments that he taught himself.  I'm not a huge fan of much bubble-gum music but over the years I've certainly caught myself singing along with quite a few of his hits.  On top of his musical abilities, Justin was also blessed by the good-looks fairy which didn't hurt his already skyrocketing fame.  Side note, he and Miley Cyrus could be twins - his delicate features bend towards a slightly feminine note.  But still, he's a cute kid and I can see why all the girls practically drool when they see him.  They do worse than that actually!  His effect on the young female population is so insane that people have dubbed it as Bieber Fever.  Really people?  Whatever my feelings on girls crying or passing out over a celebrity (silly, that's what I think.  Silly.) it's what happens when he comes anywhere near his fans.  So, now you're up to speed on The Biebs.

Justin's home videos were very good and he looked to be just a regular kid other than his incredible musical talents.  But he was so talented that fame hit him faster than anything you could imagine.  Literally his very first song was a number one hit in Canada and the US!  This is where his parents should have stepped in and at least tried to help him adjust to this whole new lifestyle.  And let me just say that his mother travels almost everywhere with him which makes her lack of parenting even worse because she's right there with him!  He was twelve years old and that makes him a kid that needs rules and structure no matter what else he's involved in.  But sadly they just let him do whatever he wanted and now he acts like a kid that was never spanked, grounded, or hell, a time-out woulda been something!  His teenage antics aren't like our kids because he can do it on a grand scale that can hurt others and himself.  And just like we've seen with some other child stars, he's spun out of control and doesn't even care.  And no, giving to charities does not erase his ridiculous, rebellious and dangerous activities (including drag racing, drinking and driving, drugs, destruction of his neighbors property...the list goes on).  All his fans can do is hope that he sees the error of his ways before the drugs he's now doing kill him or someone else.  I read something that I just had to shake my head in disbelief at the other day; someone who was defending Bieber about his drinking when drag racing said he barely blew anything on the breathalyzer so he shouldn't have been arrested.  Ah, blind allegance...HE'S NINETEEN-YEARS-OLD FOOL - ANY NUMBER WAS ILLEGAL!!  Jeez.  Now, people are dealt bad hands all the time and they grow up and make the necessary changes - and this is where I start putting the blame back onto Justin and not just his parents.  By the way, his mother being young and single does not an excuse equal.  This is what I would love to say to the young Mr. Bieber:

Dear Mr. Bieber,

I'm so sorry that your parents weren't there for you in the way that you really needed them to be.  It sucks that they loved the money you made for them so much that they didn't even think once about teaching you that for every action there is a reaction and sometimes it's going to be severe consequences when you make bad choices.  I'm super sorry that you weren't yanked off your tour years ago when you had been drinking and threw-up in front of all your adoring fans.  But son, I have to tell you that the following things are not acceptable and if you insist on acting this way you'll not be making any money off of this family with your posters, songs, etc.  It is not okay to spit on your fans because you think it's funny.  It is not okay to put others lives in danger because you can afford a fast car and people supply you with all the alcohol and drugs you want.  It is not okay to pretend to be a good person and then go around vandalizing other peoples property.  You may not have chosen to be a role-model but you are and I refuse to let you promote the idea that your behavior is one my daughter and her friends should emulate.  Take responsibility and grow up.  It's not too late to make the changes you need to to become a responsible adult but if you don't soon you will see that parents control the purse strings in their households and I can speak for myself and many of my friends when I say that our kids will not be given money just so they can fund your new-found and growing worse habits.  I hear talk about the US thinking of having you deported and I fully support that decision now.  Go be a nuisance to Canada and get off our streets...when you become a real man feel free to come back (if you want to since you did say that we are evil).

Mother of a daughter that used to think you were awesome.

ps.  I wish you had been spanked once as a child.

pss.  Thank you for not wearing skinny jeans anymore. 


Well, I know that if kids read my blog they'd be looking to cause me bodily harm right now because it turns out that my post did lean towards feelings of disgust.  Whoopsy!

I wonder if any pediatricians offer a vaccine for the Bieber Fever...


Right before I was about to post this I heard on the radio and then more on the news that Justin is at it again and could care less who he hurts!  Bieber and his fathter were smoking pot on a plane going from Cananda to New York and after the pilots and flight crew asked repeatedly for them to please stop (father and son refused) they all finally gave up and and put on oxygen masks so they wouldn't feel the effects of the marijuana or have to breath in the smoky air.  It wouldn't surprise me at all if JB assumed they could just roll down one of the windows for some fresh air. 

**I do hope you caught the part about Justin's FATHER in my update.  Not only was he guilty of allowing his son to do drugs, but that failure was joining in on the "fun"!  Right now I'm mentally ripping up Bieber's work visa or whatever is allowing him to stay here.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Come To Jesus Meeting With Santa

Ah, Christmas!  I love, love, love Christmas!!  With all the decorations, lights, prettily wrapped packages, cold weather with the hopes of seeing some snow, and spicy smells - it's like living in a beautiful dream.  Putting up the Christmas tree is one of the best feelings in the world too (on the flip-side, taking it down is the complete opposite).  Well, for most people it is, for my daughter it's a day of hearing "no, no...we put this kind in the front!  Don't put that one back there - no one will see it!  Dude, you've put all reds in a row!  Ew, I don't like...oh, you made that one?  I knew that; let's put that one down at the bottom so you see it when you're sitting on the floor unwrapping presents?!" Fun right?  But still my daughter makes it fun for herself by having us sing the theme song to How The Grinch Stole Christmas every time we make a little progress.  You can imagine my husbands delight at hearing "baa whoo moray...baa whoo moray..." every few minutes.  I'm assuming that when I hear him say "seriously?!" he's really saying "you know that's right ladies!".  Anyway. All the work of putting up a tree that gives me a rash from elbow to fingertips and the lights that decide not to work is all part of the Holiday experience that I look forward to from January to November each year.  Even when you aren't thinking about the true meaning of Christmas whilst throwing Holiday bobbles around your dwelling you have a sense of the Lord surrounding you in warmth particularly during this season.  Now, I'm not trying to get all preachy on y'all, but if you don't think that there's something bigger than the human race at work during Christmas then you've lost the whole point of why we celebrate this time of year.

I, like most everyone, enjoy the commercialism of what Christmas brings; shopping centers start decorating about the same time I'm wiping cheap Halloween make-up off of my daughters face almost as if to erase the taste of All Hallows Eve off of everyone's palette.  Heck, if it's cold enough on Halloween night I start wishing I could swap out the sparkly witch hat for my really cute Santa boot I like to display!  But sadly with times a-changin' people have started to forget the real reason for Christmas and actually change it to appease those who don't believe in Jesus at all.  And here's the kicker - those who don't believe in God or Jesus and the reason we celebrate Christmas in the first place still decorate and prepare for the "Holiday Season" too!  What?!  Exactly what do they believe they are celebrating?  Are they celebrating the huge sale at Khol's?  Did they get a great deal at Dick's Sporting Goods and think "you know what?  I should decorate my house with a tree because my Nike Air's were fifty percent off!  And what says I got a killer deal like a star placed atop my spruce pine?!  High-five me Honey and while you're up grab me some eggnog!"  I seriously want to know why your house is decorated for a time of celebration that started for a reason that you truly do not believe in?  Is it because you're giving your child the knowledge of something they can decide is true or not later?  Or rather is it because Junior might feel left out at school because Mommy and Daddy don't believe in God but he deserves the newest X-box just like his friend Lucas?  Or do you justify it by saying Santa Claus isn't named for a saint and is a jolly fat man with a big wallet and a super-fast vehicle throwing toys around because he actually does have a money tree?  Let me be clear, I have friends that don't believe and I don't judge them - that's not my job, but I do question why, on Christmas Morning, they are sitting around a tree celebrating Christ.  But I guess they are negating that too because now it's offensive to say Merry Christmas; now it's proper to say Happy Holidays.  Again I say WHAT?!  To what Holiday are they referring please?  Maybe we should start saying "Happy Cold Weather I Really Like Twinkly Lights And A Killer Sale At Target Season Everyone!"  But wait, that would clash with Easter since it's usually still cold at that time too.  Or maybe that's easily explained away since that's clearly a holiday with a ginormous rabbit NOT dressed in a red suit that breaks into your house leaving a chocolate self portrait of himself instead of potentially throwing himself to his own death by diving into a chimney.  I'm pretty sure that Saint Nick and the Easter Bunny have at least a little faith that they won't get shot once they find a way in to your abode.  Heck, without the real reason for Santa and the Easter Bunny being in existence they would be what nightmares are made!  Forget ghosts and monsters...there are two really bored psychopaths breaking in and making sure you're asleep!

It's just confusing for me because I was brought up in a house with faith.  For me, without my faith in God, Jesus, the Holy Ghost and what was sacrificed so that we could live knowing that even when our flesh dies we live on, I would be lost.  I'm also not blind to the science of life and yes it brings questions that are normal for anyone to ponder but no matter what science can explain away I still come back to my faith because it gives me comfort.  That might not work for others and that's's when those others try to take away from me, my family, my fellow Christians that I want to question what their intentions are.  Furthermore, it doesn't bother me that non-believers want to celebrate Twinkly Lights Season until they want to change the meaning for me.  Do I still buy my kid presents at Christmas?  Yes!  Should anyone else that wants to do that too join in?  Yes!  But when the words "Merry Christmas" bother you like you've been persecuted for your non-beliefs and you try to change it then I take issue.  Just recently Hallmark has made some changes in their wording as not to offend anyone...well I say good luck with that because it seems that we have reached a time where there is something that's going to bother someone no matter how many changes we make.  How about make an Atheist Holiday?  I promise not to get offended unless it has something to do with hurting my family.  I'll even say "Happy I Don't Believe In Anything Day!" if it makes you happy...just leave my beliefs alone.

For those of you who get offended with the word Christmas, I've taken the liberty of going ahead and making the changes that are apparently headed our way:

How The Grinch Stole (dirty thief)
The Night Before (sounds like a great cliffhanger to me!)
Oh Tree (silly tree)
Have Yourself A Merry Little (that's just wrong!)
It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like (well, now I'm downright intrigued...I'll put this on my "must listen" list)

And just in case the name God wrapped up in a Christmas song bothers you:

Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (lazy but happy I guess)

Hey, most of us are guilty of getting wrapped up into the commercial side of Christmas but that doesn't mean we forget the why of such an important Holiday.  I will apologize if I've stepped on any toes with this rant-like post...I pray you forgive me.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Does This House Make Me Look Fat?

Although I probably should be on a diet, I'm not talking about my body weight; what I'm referring to is shedding the weight of the things I own.  I recalled watching a talk show years ago where there was a guest speaker who was preaching about the negative effects of "living fat".  I wasn't paying very close attention, but the words "living fat" apparently settled somewhere deep in the wrinkles of my brain and slowly started chanting louder and louder over the last year or so until it was screaming at me to pay attention and make some changes.  Even after I had thought long and hard about downsizing my house and the stuff inside of it, I didn't bring it up to my husband for a long time.  How do you tell your spouse that the house they have been working so hard to pay for over the years was now something you find excessive and pointless to maintain?  How do you ask your thirteen-year-old to up and move to a smaller place when all she's known is the house she's been in from the age of two and is inside the neighborhood that contains at least three of her very best friends?  This was not an easy decision and one that I wouldn't have ever entertained had I not had the supportive husband and agreeable child that I am blessed to have.  Still, as lucky as I am to have such a good family, I knew that I was going to have to have some pretty darn good reasons to broach the subject to my better-half and my awesome kid.

After I stopped working last year I took some time to reevaluate what I wanted to do career wise.  Well, I guess "reevaluate" isn't the correct term because in reality I've known for many, many years that I wanted to write.  Sadly, writing a blog and working on my novel hasn't paid any bills and we are a family used to having two incomes.  There's something very addicting to bringing in two paychecks and it's hard to change the way you live when it's cut down to just one.  Can it be done?  Of course!  People lose jobs all the time and have to adjust their lives accordingly.  What's different for us is that this time it's being done by choice and I had to make certain changes that were slightly saddening to me because I'm self-admittedly spoiled.  I knew that when I was ready to present this idea to my husband that I was going to have to make some promises of change in my spending habits that would cause me to wince in mental-pain when making that verbal contract that would outline what I would give up to stay at home and write...paid or not.  Luckily for me my husband thinks I'm at least slightly talented in my writing, "so I have that going for me...which is nice." (that's a little quote from a movie that we like to use...all the time...probably way too much.)

So, living fat - what exactly is that?  According to Dr. What's-His-Name, it's when humans fill their homes with tons of stuff that they don't need and most of the time don't even remember having.  Knick-knacks start piling up because we don't take the time to weed through the un-needed every once in a while.  Furthermore, and this is just my opinion, people tend to fill their houses no matter what the size.  What I mean is that we grow our stuff to fit the house instead of buying the house to fit what you already have.  It's normal I think; my husband and I bought this house with a certain future we had pictured for ourselves and I think that's what most people do.  We thought we'd have more than one kid so we bought a house that would be suitable for two or three children.  Well, flash forward eleven years and we still have only one child with no intention of having any more.  It's just the way it worked out and we are more than satisfied with our personal status-quot.  Anyway, we didn't just leave the extra two bedrooms empty in hopes that they would be filled with baby equipment at some point; we put a bedroom suit in each of the extra rooms for guests.  Basically the furniture just acted as dust collectors, picture holders, a graveyard for old flower arrangements that I didn't want anymore but felt badly about throwing away, etc when not in use for visits from family.  To be honest, all that furniture didn't bother me either until we needed to let our cleaning people go and I realized how much work it takes to clean something we didn't even use!  That led me to think about how much extra house we were keeping cool or heated depending on the season.  Now I was thinking like my husband and I could actually talk to him in a way that he would appreciate.  Go me!  We were now on our way to making a plan to shed some of the unneeded expenses or "weight" that go hand-in-hand with over-buying.  It felt good just to get the wheels in motion, knowing that we were working together with the same goals in mind.

Telling my daughter wasn't quite as easy because she couldn't give a rats patooty what we pay in electricity each month.  Also, I couldn't just pat the seat next to me (the universal sign for "let's talk for a minute") and say "Hey, Sweetpea...our house is fat so we're peace out.  Cool?"  I mean, hellooooo, she has friends right across the street for goodness sake and that's the most important thing to her right now.  Luckily for us we had been making her cut the grass and help clean bathrooms for a few months so other than her concern over how often she would be able to hangout with her besties she was all kinds of in on the plan.  So, needless to say I had to agree to letting her peeps come over a couple times a week and my only caveat was that if I had to cart them home it had better be before wine time!

I believe that this decision was meant to be because the one place we could all agree on had one more home available in our size range and price range along with the must-have features we all put on the table. I won't bore you with the details of the selling and purchasing process, but I will give a mental fist-pump at selling our house in one day.  One day!  I also want to tell you about how good it felt to start unloading extra furniture via the very convenient Craig's List.  When the first piece of furniture sold my tummy did that weird roller coaster flippy-flop thing that represented my feeling of excitement and nervousness; we were on our way to trimming the wasteline of our lives (see what I did there?  Wasteline instead of waistline...waste... unneeded ehhhh? Well, I thought it was clever!).  After selling a few of the larger items filling rooms we didn't use I felt so good that I had to stop myself from posting everything we had planned to get rid of before we even had a place to move into.  Well, when I say I had to stop myself it was more like my husband said to slow down because apparently he hates sitting on the floor while trying to enjoy his steak dinner.  Whatever Mr. Party-pooper.  Oh, and one of the negatives of selling on Craig's List is that for every decent person that comes to your house there's an Uncle Creepy that wants to tour your house and ultimately tries to buy the items that you have no intention of selling.  I'm pretty sure that my daughter was getting tired of faking injuries and taking imaginary phone calls that couldn't wait so I could take the wimpy way out of asking someone to get the hell out of my house!  On a positive note I got very proficient at texting Skye on the down-low giving her the cue to come limping in holding the body part of her choosing or sneaking out to call me from out of ear-shot of said weirdo.  She got really good at it too and at some point I had to tell her that no, we really didn't need to go to the costume store and buy a couple tubes of fake blood.  Amateur!  If we over-played our hand we might have had to accept a ride to the nearest emergency room!!  She'll learn.

Since starting this post we have settled into our new casa and we love it.  We dropped a few hundred pounds and are adjusting to our thinner lifestyle.  If it had any effect on my personal weight I haven't noticed (I did notice how out of shape I am when moving out and then into this new place so hopefully that will kick-start some type of exercise regiment. I love that word "hopefully", it gives me options).  Downsizing isn't for everyone but if you're batting around the idea just know that this girl gives it a two thumbs up!

I'll close with this question:  Why haven't they done a show called The Biggest Loser Home Edition?

Friday, August 2, 2013

I'm Going Bald...Sweet!

Before you feel misled, let me explain my title...and before I explain my title, let me me warn you that this is one of my completely shallow, vain, whiny posts about aging.  So, no, I'm not going bald (yet) but rejoicing or at least being happy is something that I feel every man should feel when they start losing their hair.  I'll tell you why...

In my opinion most men get better looking with age.  I find that completely unfair and quite frankly ridiculous as most of them don't even care that they are sliding into their silver years.  Even their "beer bellies" don't look bad considering they can still wear the same jeans, t-shirts or dress clothes for years and years.  So what if they have to go up a size?!  It still looks the damn same and it makes me green with envy.  Woman have to (yes, have to - and no, not just want to) keep up with styles and also adjust to their growing mid-sections, back-sections, arm...need I name all the body parts that grow, sag, dimple, and MOVE over the years for us?  And what really chaps my, hide?  The names that men came up with for our changes.  "Hahahaha...did you see the bat wings on that lady?  She could take flight with a strong enough breeze to lift her cheese burger butt!"  I'm picturing some man laughing so hard he gets a cramp in his side...falling over in pain and praying that a winged-woman blows his way and still has the energy to dial 911 after galloping over to him.  Thank goodness her kankles can hold her I-can't-lose-weight-like-I-used-to body up long enough to still help him.  Oh poo, my daydream ended before I saw if she helped or not.  Whoa, sounds like I'll be having some sour grapes for lunch today instead of my beloved pizza rolls.

Anyway, barring the comb-over (please Lord, I hope that no one does that anymore), going bald isn't all that bad and I believe that if a man is headed in that direction he should be grateful that's really all he has to worry about (when it comes to looks...inside they are all kinds of messed up).  Most balding men just shave it off and go for the Mr. Clean look and it works!  I mean, that dude is hot (the mop he's holding might help)!!  In fact, if Mr. Clean and the Brawny man got into a throw-down I feel strongly that Mr. Clean would clean Brawny's clock.  I'm really sorry about that low-brow humor; what I meant to say is that the Brawny man would try to wipe the floor with Mr. clean but he can't hold water compared to...I'll stop now (I've lost a bit of respect for myself for that).  So, when going bald a man should say thank you to the looks fairy and thank his lucky stars that other than his inability of pushing back from the table when presented with a Cowboy ribeye, all that he's suffering from is the decision to use a number 1 or 2 guard on his razor!  Oh, and you know what else?  There's a saying for men who make the mistake of trying out the $5.00 haircut at some chain (sounds like Hooper Huts).  Wanna hear it?  I'm so glad you said "yes!"; the saying for a mistake haircut for any man past the 80's era is "Oh well, I'm only two weeks away from the perfect cut."  What the?!  That's a load of crapola right there!  Last time I heard "uh-oh" while getting my bangs cut it took two weeks for me to come out of a deep depression and another two to get over the desire to use those same sheers on the...well, let's just say I didn't want to cut out paper-doll streamers.

Let me ask you this - why is it that when a dude starts going gray he looks all debonair or distinguished even?  Unlike women, when the male species starts getting those few strands of grays it lays down and acts just like the rest of the protein-pack it joined, but when we get them they decide to stand up and shout "aw, hell naw!  Ain't no one gonna tell me how to act; I'm gonna shoot straight up and be my own hair!  I'm gonna crinkle weird and send word that I ain't into conforming!".  So my hair has a country twang - what of it?  I also picture my wiry grays getting a tattoo and drinking straight from a cheap bourbon bottle!  In my defense, I saw a freaky Stephen King movie years ago about a balding guy that got one wish and it was for hair.  See, in the movie, the character gets his wish but it won't stop growing and when he cuts it off the little hairs scream in pain and then get all kinds of pissed off.  So the drunk tattooed hair is a lot better than when I dreamed my hair was trying to strangle me in the middle of the night (probably due to the bang-whacking I suffered too).  How is it that I can't finish my novel to my own liking and a movie like Revenge of the Hair (or whatever it was called) can get produced?!  Of course Stacy Keach's career has reflected his poor choice of filmage to star in.  He still has a killer (killer...hahaha) head of hair good on him.  I strayed again - not unlike my lovely new hair color.  I do consider myself fairly lucky in that I didn't start going gray until this year and I've heard from many girlfriends that they started early in their 30's.  At any age for females it's just shocking and upsetting.  Unlike the migration of the chest, the hair is very noticeable in public if not covered quickly like a dark family secret.  But what color to get?  Do I do a full color?  Do I do highlights or maybe lowlights?  And what in tarnation is a lowlight (I do know that it is not unscrewing every other light bulb in the bathroom like I thought)?  Do I pluck the hairs out one by one and not worry about color?  My decision?  I'm going to find a salon that has silver and go all in!  At least that way it will look like I chose to be spontaneous to match my jewelry?  Anyway, anyone that knows me also knows that I'm not scared of changing my look, I just don't want to be forced to.  Oh, and to just revisit the chest migration comparison I made earlier, what I meant was that it only takes a good bra to change the elevation of your endowment if you're willing to invest some good trial and error time.  Some of you aren't and that's a shame - or maybe genius!  Maybe you'd rather have someone not even notice your head due to staring at your "signs" now directing ones view southbound.

I guess I just don't find it very balanced that when a man ages it's called "growing into" their looks and when a woman ages it's just called aging.  I mean really?  What happened?  Did whoever was coming up with adjectives run out of creativity immediately after coming up with the male description?  Was some Greek philosopher exhausted from wracking his theologian mind trying to describe the superb way his silver hair made him seem even more deep than his sandy-blond 'do?  Clearly he wasn't so theological that he realized the value in beautifying the female description thus costing men truck-loads (cart-loads?) of gold and silver years later in our quest to slow the aging process.  Man, he do sucketh.  Furthermore, men may grow into to their looks but let us not forget that whatever you're looking at on him tends to keep growing AFTER they've grown into their looks.  There are the few men that are exceptions and will probably continue to look awesome all the way to their grave.  I've listed a few for example:  Sean Connery, Patrick Stewart, Mel Gibson (crazy though he is), my Daddy, and my Uncle Wayne (both of which should grow their beards back 'cause it made them handsome and cute all at the same time).  For real, my Uncle has always been that relative that you would describe to your friends as being the cute one! Speaking of beards...even that is an unfair advantage.  Double chin?  Beard! Sagging neck-skin (stupidly dubbed the chicken neck)?  Beard!  Weird mole under your bottom lip inexplicably shown up?  Beard (and a doctors appointment)!  Sadly, we too could make a noble attempt at growing facial hair to cover up these changes but then we'd be that weird aunt that people whisper about.  "Why doesn't she wax that off?  Someone needs to tell her!  Uh-uh, not me!!  I don't want her swinging that bat-wing at me...YOU do it!"  And so on.  Quick story about my secret (even to me) facial hair-growing attempt - you know that good feeling you have after walking out of the salon with freshly done toes and a quick eyebrow wax?  I used to have that too until that fateful day that the cute Vietnamese lady asked me "you wan you lippa wax too?".  What?  Why?  Give me that mirror!  I don't have...NOOOOOOOO!  "Yes please.  And my chin if you don't mind."  Good feeling gone!  I also feel badly for the woman that gave my orthopedic surgeon reason to make sure the attending nurse checked to see if she needed to shave my shoulders before putting me under the knife.  Dear Whoever You Are, I know a very nice salon that will take care of that for you and probably offer to dehair you elsewhere while she's at it.  Love, Barbara.

Anyway, thanks for letting me get all that off my chest...or where my chest should still be.  I would like to take a moment to thank the following for giving me the topic of yet another thing that I shouldn't be obsessed about:

To Time - thank you for robbing my skin of elasticity and the ability to bounce back.  That's just great that you have that ongoing deal with the skincare companies.

To Vanity - without you my bathroom counter tops would look much less crowded.

To Memory - thank you for letting me remember how I looked so many years ago.  I'm sure you'll make a grand exit at just the right time.  I'm counting on you to do something hilarious like leaving me as I'm getting dressed thus letting me wear my bra over my flowered polyester button down.  That joke never gets old does it?

Should I embrace aging as part of life and a treating my wrinkles as a badge of honor for every year I live?  Yes, yes I should.  I won't...but I should.  And you men out there...I got nothin' for a wrap up.  Oh!  Have fun buying yourselves a car to make yourselves feel younger.  In the long run it's a heck of a lot cheaper than what your wives do to keep your attention.

Love to all of you young and old.  I'm off to pray that I age like my mom!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Growing Pains Of The Heart

I don't cry easily, so this should be a breeze to write about...

Okay, that was a total lie; I cry easily, frequently, silently, loudly and ugly.  I cry tears of sadness, happiness, anger, frustration, love and when I run out of the new International Delight's new iced coffee (preferably the mocha flavor).  Basically that means you can't say to me any of the following without the possibility of my eyes welling up and more times than not spilling over:

  • I love you - happy tears (the amount of tears spilled is directly effected by the punctuation I hear in your voice...unless you're patting me on the head and looking at me like you're chanting "bless her heart" to yourself)
  • I hate you - angry tears (that will get you the hot-salty tears and possibly a strongly worded email that will most likely sit in my drafts folder)
  • I'm disappointed in you - instant tears with immediate spillage
  • Clean the house - that's a mixture of frustration and sadness tears with a dash of the angry kind (okay, so I don't cry about that but I do secretly pout)
I'll assume you get the picture because according to all the emoticons developed recently someone has a direct line to whichever lobe or section...gland(?) in my brain that's tethered to my tear ducts and what I feel depending on what's been said to me.  I'm mostly impressed with the little yellow face that has the big, toothy grin that, in my opinion, excuses me from asking all types of my under-developed or premature <cough>...fine, stupid questions I text, post or email.  For instance, let's say I ask you if you'll get extra cheese on the pizza you're ordering for us while I'm at the store and I know you hate too much cheese on your pies (which makes me ponder the foundation of our relationship anyway...who doesn't like extra cheese?!).  Knowing that you're probably muttering some endearing words about me under your breath, I quickly text you the yellow-toothy guy (that everyone should have saved in their "recently used" tab) just to ensure your sweet words aren't diminished by putting them in writing.  See, now you're wondering if I'm serious or joking.  It's both, Genius!  If you get the extra cheese and have that disgruntled look on your face when it shows up at the door I can say "awww, that's so sweet, but I was just joking!"; if you don't get the extra cheese and look too smug about it I could possibly get a little pissy myself and say "I sure wish I liked the pizza as much as you do, but whatever, as long as you're happy."  Ah, so many options with the yellow-toothy emoticon.  I can assure you, that was just two examples of what that little yellow dude can do!  I'd also like to quickly tip my hat at the martini glass emoticon as it can mean so many things as well. For instance, it can mean "yeah, it's five o'clock somewhere!"  Or, if you want to get cray - do the martini glass and then the little gun pointed at it when you're kid texts you to ask if it was okay that she took the liberty of inviting seven of her besties over for a sleep-over that night and that, by the way, they'll be here in about forty-five minutes to an hour and this time only one of them is allergic to peanut butter, chocolate, your dog...and hates pizza so what can we have for dinner 'cause they all want to know.  This way instead of texting back something smart-assish like "how 'bout everyone eat a big slice of...", you just text the alcohol/gun combo thus letting your more-than-generous daughter know she is driving you to drink...or shooting perfectly good cocktails.  I didn't think that through until just now; my daughter has probably contemplated doing the head-patting-I-love-you thing many times.  I'd better text her the yellow toothy dude so I can decide how I feel later.

You'll have to excuse my rambling tangent; it's been much too long since I've written a new blog post.  Sometimes life gets in the way...or better yet, we let life get in the way and find other things to do or that need to be done and one day leads to another.  I was just thinking the other day that I've let things that aren't in my control steal my funny.  Even when I knew it and saw it, I would just think to myself "tomorrow...tomorrow I'll get back to what I love to do!"  And I also over explain myself.  I was writing about how easily I cry because whenever I think about my daughter growing up I think about the stages of when and how she says she loves me from when she learned to talk up through present day.  If you want to feel how quickly time has passed think about that!

I wish with all my heart that I could remember the exact moment in time when I first heard my daughter tell me that she loved me.  If I had known then that her teenage years would come so quickly I would have clung to every moment she said those words and every time she looked at me like I was her everything. I'm blessed in that she has said it for so long and so frequently that I didn't miss a one-time thing, but at the same time I know I took that moment for granted and can only remember the more commercialized moment of when she said "Mommy" first.  Well, I think she said that...she could have said "money".  Still a proud moment in time thank you very much.  Anyway, what I do remember is the evolution of her "I love you's" from toddler to teenager and this is how I see it...

When my daughter was around two and only recognized that her dad and I would say the same three words, "I love you", anytime we went to work, bed or whatever that was removing us from her site for longer than five minutes, she learned those words like she was a parrot (didn't care, still wanted to hear them); if I had made a point to say "no new taxes!" every time I left her room or put her to bed then she'd think that was how you tell someone I'm not leaving you for good but just for now and she'd come to expect that and start saying that back to us.  But I don't think her future boyfriends would appreciate it when they found the courage to say that they love her (I could write a whole new post on the misconceptions of love during one's teens) and she would look back at them with huge adoring eyes and say "oh, wow!  No new taxes!!"  Dang, I regret not doing that now; that's my kind of twisted humor right there people.

From the age of four through kindergarten saying I love you was, in my opinion, still a learned response.  I'm sure she knew it meant something warm and fuzzy so those three little words flowed freely from my child as she secretly tested it's strength and usability.   At this age, while sticking to my opinion that saying "I love you" was automatic or a learned response, most children are also testing parents resolve, patience, and limits all the while (and unbeknownst to the lay-parent) testing what the three magic words can get them or let them get away with.  Because I am in that group of parents that have their hearing tied directly to their heart-strings, my daughter had more power than she knew.  There is a sucker in every parental unit and that was me.  My husband was more than willing to point that out when it was obvious I bought into the words during times that maybe I was being sold a bill of goods.  "I love you too Skye!  What?  Well...yeah, sure you can bring home a velociraptor!  You owe me ten kisses too now?!"  Is that an exaggeration?  Yes, but only slightly.  When she said those words my defenses fell at the speed of melt.

Somewhere in the six to eight year range kids learn that saying I love you can be dangled in front of adoring family members like a carrot to a farm mule.  I imagine them holding a crappy twig from the creek they frequent in the neighborhood with a bunch of silly dentist office stickers adorning it and, using the only white sewing thread you have for emergency button fixes, they've tied the words "I love you" written in puffy stickers that are barely clinging to their most recent report card and all you can think is "I must get those words...I...must...get...almost there...yes, you can have McDonald's that's-probably-not-real-meat chicken nuggets for dinner for the third time this week...just give me the damn half-deflated puffy letters that feed my soul!"  What?  That's normal right?  Okay, so maybe your letters aren't puffy...I can't help that my "I loves you's" have flare.

Now we're at the age where everything gets confusing; from sixth grade until...until...well, from then on it's touch and go when you can and can't say I love you to your child. Now, instead of you seeing the words dangling precariously in front of your face-heart, our darling children hold the words hostage.  Hostage I say! They should come with a disclaimer saying, in teeny-tiny type I should add, that these words do not bind said child to repeating them in the same scenario or setting in the future, as well said child may resend these same words at any moment if you happen to play any 80's song louder than a setting of 1 on your car radio as you let them out in the mommy circle at school.  Also, you will not hold your child responsible for accidentally slipping and saying the words aloud within ear-shot of any peers and for the love of God don't bring it up in hopes that you'll gain a repeat performance in the future.  So because I like you I'll give you some tips (bribery) that will help (get) the "I love you"'s to flow (more like hissing) from your child.  This is only for the brave (not so bright) parent so try at your own risk.

1.  When dropping off your child at school prepare them to let loose the words you long to hear by warning them that you will not only blast your radio to any tune being replayed on the 80's or 90's station but that you will, knowing the words or not, be singing along when they get out of the car.  Note:  this goes for getting a kiss while waiting for the kid that takes forever to get out of his or her car even though it's the same routine they've followed for years and they still can't get their shi...stuff out in a timely manner.

2.  Make sure you follow through!  If number one doesn't work and you didn't blast your radio as threatened, make sure to pretend like you were giving them a chance.  It's important that the very next time they don't at least whisper I love you while you come to an almost-stop while throwing their book bag at them you roll their window down and screech something like "I love you too!" or if you've chickened out on number one a few times bring out the big guns and say "I love you too!  And don't worry, I'll flush the potty this time but try to remember tomorrow!!"  I also suggest pretending not to see the "I hate you" look they shoot you if you have to resort to such measures.  For me it only took one time of waving like a freak and loudly suggesting to my kid that she "make good decisions!" to keep her on track for a good six to eight months.  I only had to threaten the radio when she was in the seventh grade because she is now scared to test my resolve.  Hey, it bothers me none if some random kid hears me...besides, they probably have some help-group for kids tormented by caring parents.

3.  If all of that fails...well, you have a boy and I have NO idea what to say to help you.

The good news is that my daughter, no matter the age, showers me with love and affection from somewhere around 7:00pm (after she and her two besties that are boys finish killing zombies, playing some Madden football game or come in from skateboarding) until she falls asleep.  Does she use that to make me come re-tuck her in too many times for what a 13 year-old needs...yes!  Do I care?  Heck-to-the-no!  I love it and I love her.  

My teenager might suffer from growing pains in her bones but I, like most parents, suffer from growing pains of the heart.  Keep saying "I love you" as much as possible because I can promise you they hear you whether they acknowledge it or not.

I love you Skye!! 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Once Upon An Adoption

I can't remember when my parents first told my sister and I that we were adopted.  I think they were telling us before we could even crawl and most definitely before we could walk.  Somewhere around my freshman year of high school (you know, a few years ago minus twenty-blah, blah, blah) when those irritating after school specials would come on channels like PBS depicting teenagers that decided to run away because they had a sneaking suspicion that they weren't birthed from the people that raised them from even before they could form a single thought?  I know there were other topics but I can only remember that one and the one about the girl who would order over a dozen donuts at a time when she was old enough to drive because her parents wouldn't let her eat any sugar as a child.  That one didn't bother me of course...I adore donuts and made my own plans to do the same (I was allowed sugar by the way).  Besides, who can't eat a dozen "Hot Fresh Now's"?!  But I digress.  My topic is about the first thing I mentioned - adoption.

I love the story of our adoption and how we were welcomed into the best family one could hope for.  Maybe it won't be as cool to you but I'm writin' it so hopefully you'll find it at least a little entertaining.  I'm also writing about this because I know some people that are trying to adopt right now.  I only told them one piece of advice - don't ever try to hide the adoption from the child if you're blessed to get one (hello, that's an "after school TV special" waiting to happen).  I can't think of one good reason why the new parents would hide it like it's the horrible family secret.  Heck, a lot of folks in my extended family don't even think about it after years and years and say things like "you look so much like your mother I tell ya!"  Or the funniest one when I was still growing was "well, we know you'll at least be around 5'7" like your mom!".  Oddly, they were weird is that?!  I do have a strange theory about how we grow to look like the people we live with over the years but that's a whole different post and after a whole lotta wine (not really, I believe it even when I'm drinking coffee).  Good Lord, I've strayed in thought again!  I need a mental fishing pole so I can reel myself in more efficiently.

So, the story goes like this...

Once upon a time there was a wonderful couple that could not have any children.  After a few years of marriage when they decided they were ready to add to their little family of two they knew exactly what they needed to do.  After the couple (we'll call them Mom and Dad or my parents for this telling) filled out the necessary paperwork to adopt it was all about the waiting.  They waited and waited and waited (a year and a half to be exact).  Meanwhile an evil witch (we'll call her their neighbor...and she probably wasn't story) had put in an application to adopt as well sometime after my parents had.  Still awaiting any news from their case worker my Mom saw the neighbor walking down the street pushing a stroller!  A stroller! The neighbor wasn't practicing with a Cabbage Patch Kid...she was pushing a real live little baby!!  How could this be?  Why wouldn't they get a little one to add to their family first?  How heart breaking for the wonderful couple.  But the wise case worker handling their case had bigger plans for my parents - for she knew there was going to be a BOGO coming up was going to be double coupon day...again I joke.  No, the case worker knew that my parents were good people and that soon she would be able to introduce them to not just one little baby girl, but two!  And wouldn't you know, they were the most beautiful babies in all the land!!  Okay, most all babies are adorable...what...ever.  The wonderful couple was so happy. After a few meetings with the wise case worker and spending some time with the twin babies the day came that the little girls found a permanent warm and loving home.  Everyone lived happily ever after. 

The End  <see below for extras>

Cut "Scenes" & Facts

1.  The Mom got to walk down the street in front of the evil witch's house with a double stroller.  Yes she did!
2.  Everyone indeed lived happily ever after...with mostly normal, non-fairytale issues like all other real families.
3.  The Mom tells the story much better than the author of this post and not at all like a corny fairytale.
4.  No animals were intentionally hurt during the history of this tale, but a goldfish did overeat and explode about the same year that Atari became popular.  Also, several wonderful dogs and one cat have passed through the families lives and they loved each one (even the cat).
5.  The twins wore beautiful yellow dresses the day they found a forever-home! Fact: the younger twin looked the best in it.

There are some things that will not stay hidden forever and whether you want them to be or not, kids are curious creatures and the older they get the better they are at finding things.  Furthermore, if they do find out later in life how would you expect them to feel?  You only showed your child that you were embarrassed about having to adopt them!  Tell them from day one and it will just part of who they are.  My sister and I think it's a special "trait" to have.  And bonus, we have our birthday and our adoption birthday - when we really started living.  How awesome is that?!  Wait, does that make me like 80 years old?  I gotta go find a calculator...and a walker...maybe some prunes...

"On the day the social workers were coming, we sat at the dining room window watching for the car knowing something was in store that would change our lives -all four lives forever." (A quote from my beautiful Mom, Janie Matthews)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bipolar - Lucky & Alive by Jennifer

I just wrote the most personal of all my posts the other day with approval by my bipolar twin sister, Jennifer.  It took her a few days to be able to read what I wrote from start to finish and she wrote my parents and me the most wonderful "thank you note" I've ever received and also was able to add even more insight to her disorder.  I felt it necessary to create it's own post instead of just letting it go to the comment section (Bipolar Disorder Doesn't Mean Quack To Me).

From my sister Jennifer:

Well, now that I have found my voice and quit crying over the beauty and poignancy of Barbara's blog about our family rally, trials, and ultimate domination over my life-long demon, I want to say again...THANK YOU!!! We are a family of Super Hero's and it does in fact take that dang village everyone talks about no matter how small! I am lucky.

To say there are no bad days or weeks or even longer sometimes is not the case. And I know very confidently that my Super Hero's are always ready with their capes and neat gadgets. I also know that you recognize the signs and I don't have to point those times out which is so thoughtful of each of you. I am lucky.

My mornings start early but slower than most as I must evaluate my mindset, pull up my mental boot straps, pull up my big girl undies and decide to make it a great damn day ("come Hell or high water" as daddy would say). Then I sit on the edge of my bed, practice and test out which Jennifer is with me and match that smile (HA!! still no cavities) with her and usually like it, then slap my palms to my thighs and say "LET'S DO THIS"!!! Then I'm on my way...or on my way to my Super Heroes if none of that works...hey...even a cheerleader of her own crusade falls off the pyramid sometimes! This doesn't take long but it's necessary, just as much as my breakfast of various medications is, so I will take my mental meds daily too for as long as the sun rises in my life. I am lucky.

I still forget promises made, which frankly stinks as I feel like I disappoint people or I'm embarrassed to say "HEY! What did we decide to do about...". And sometimes I still turn into that hermit crab and just can't find the energy to pick up the phone just to chat, which seems trivial and easy to most but feels like climbing the tallest mountain to me. But I know that no matter what, you all, who are my best friends, will be waiting for me to change that mountain into a molehill. I am lucky.

So, I will say again, THANK YOU!!! Thank you for stepping in and up. Staying strong and with me. Being hard or soft and loving me for me! I am lucky.

Barbara, you amaze me with your insight. You showed me that there is more humor to find and more to come and I'm excited! I too have memories that make me laugh like a loon and I needed that! It's usually within our "Super Family" and isn't that wonderful?!? I am lucky.

I love you all!!!

P.S. I am LUCKY!!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bipolar Doesn't Mean Quack To Me

bipolar disorder

noun, Psychiatry.
an affective disorder characterized by periods of mania alternating with periods of depression, usually interspersed with relatively long intervals of normal mood.
I've been wanting to write about bipolar disorder for a long time now.  I personally don't suffer from it but my best friend and identical twin does (same person most of the time).  This by no means is a medical or scientific post about what it means to be bipolar - it's my Barbservations only. Once I made up my mind to write about this very personal subject I asked not once, not twice, but three times if my sister was okay with me writing this post.  She said "what did I answer last night?" really, she did.  Don't worry folks...she said yes most of the time!
Bipolar disorder is nothing to take lightly, but over the years of learning about it and living with it through my sister I have found it not only wise but necessary to look for the lighter side of this disorder in an effort to live a happy life.  But before I get into the anecdotal side of bipolar world, I think I should write about the darker side that we all try to hide from her, her from us, and us from the world.  Bipolar disorder is one of the worst chemical imbalances diagnosed to date and her diagnosis is second only to schizophrenia. See, there are several levels of this disorder and unlike cake the more levels doesn't equal better.  I have learned that living with this disorder is not only mentally crippling, it is potentially as deadly as any terminal disease.  There is no cure; only the persons willingness to survive and their drive to live will carry them through life.  My sister is a winner on every level and continues to fight for her life.  I remember when she was first diagnosed we were told that our family should consider ourselves lucky because she wasn't self-medicating, living on the street or already dead.  Well, how does one digest that information?  How about having the person diagnosed sitting across from you in a Starbucks sharing the news like it's the punchline in life's little joke.  On top of that, how could we not have all the hope in the world when we could look around my sisters life and clearly see that she had an awesome kid and great job that she kicked butt at everyday and simultaneously remained family oriented more so than most anybody?  That's not to say she didn't have her moments where the dark took over.  There were times that we couldn't reach her on the phone, get a response on email or even find her.  It takes a very long time to find the right amount of each medicine to keep the dark at bay...and not really even at bay, more like help in choking down the dark emotions that hide her from us.  My sister, in my opinion, made a conscience decision to keep living in "our" world where she could have friends, family, support and love.  Before the days where she could count on her medicine to help with the darkness, my sister went to many bad places in her own head but fought tooth and nail to climb back to us and be with us.  This is not the easy way for a person diagnosed with bipolar disorder; it would be much easier for her to lose all sense of self and look to drugs, alcohol, etc to help her make it from day to day.  She chose to take control for herself and for her family and for that she is a fighter and I admire that.  There were days that I'd get so mad at her that I couldn't see straight and until I realized that she wasn't just being flippant or rude I would rail on her about not getting back to me.  But eventually I would realize that she actually didn't remember our plans or conversations that we had just the night before.  During the long years of pre-diagnosis, incorrect diagnosis', wrong medicines, and wrong levels of correct medications it was a hard time for the whole family but little did I know how far back the symptoms started.  I found out only recently that my mom would drive my sister around when she was angry beyond consolation back when we were in high school.  I seriously had no idea!  Any negative moods I saw I just chalked up to teenage angst.  That's also a hat-tip to my wonderful parents who showered love and patience (and believe me, that had to be a tough thing to do) on my sister even during her "angry moments" and taught both their children the value of owning ones actions - we learned about consequences and that's something that I fear is missing in a lot of our younger generation today.  Once graduation happened we only saw each other on weekend getaways and such and those seemed to be her manic times now that I reflect on the past.  My sister would want to shop and eat out and have all kinds of fun and I was in for that ride for certain!  I remember thinking one time that my sister was the most fun and generous person in the world.  But when it got worse and more frequent she would call and ask me what we spent money on the day before..."What?  Aren't you wearing the new shirt you bought?"  Turns out, she hadn't ever taken what she bought out of her car!  I got really good at returning items that had never even been out of the shopping bag for her.  The excitement of our visits seemed to trigger her "highs" and I had no idea for a long, long time.  When we were together she was like a candle burning too brightly at both ends - and eventually she'd burn out every night and retreat into sleep.  She didn't get her worst until her mid-twenties and that's when the family rallied and my parents found a great specialist for her instead of watching her drift out of our lives so we could just sit around and worry about her not knowing where or how she was living.  It was really rough on all of us but of course on her the most.  She stuck with us though and I still have my sister!  And I can tell you that we annoyed the hell out of her so I'm super proud of her.  It's hard to know where to draw the line when micro-managing another persons emotional state!
It's really easy to get frustrated at someone that's been diagnosed with a disorder that can literally have them take unannounced sporadic bouts of absence from your life.  You decide that "one more time" they don't show up or forget they promised to come over you're gonna let them have it.  But you don't - if you truly love that person you take a deep breath and thank the Heaven's above that they can still come to see you when they do!  At most you beg them to get help and to please not disappear again.  My sister is like anyone else sometimes too - she just wants to sit on her couch and enjoy a movie instead of texting all night or updating her status on social networks.  But when you've been labeled with a disorder such as bipolar disorder people are quick to jump on that as a reason you're not in a good mood, just want to chill all night, don't answer the phone or cancel on plans.  Sometimes just relaxing sounds more enticing to anyone, not just the chemically imbalanced.  And that brings me to one of the worst parts of being bipolar...other people!  One of the reasons my sister did her best to hide her disorder is because those that don't think past their own views use that to shut her down - "Well, I can't argue with you, you're bipolar and you'll never see my point!" or "you don't agree with me because your meds have worn off for the day!".  Heck, some people (and I've been guilty of this in the past) refuse to argue or will agree with anything to avoid setting the bipolar girl off.  Well, she's not a time bomb!  If you're an idiot you're gonna piss anyone off and she's no different.  One of the most crippling effects of being bipolar is how others treat you.  My sister isn't a perfect person and neither are we; if my bipolar twin can take ownership of her disorder and treat others with respect and know when it's appropriate to voice her opinion and when it's wise to keep her mouth shut (not to mention also excelling in her fast-paced job) then how is it that those of us that don't have chemical imbalances not know how to utilize common sense and social grace?  I know I've been labeled as obsessive compulsive but that's nothing compared to bipolar disorder and I would be ashamed if I used my disorder as an excuse to show my arse when my own sister is controlling her actions and reactions better than a lot of people I know.
If you want to live life at the fullest, I believe that it's best to find the humor in everything.  Don't you remember the funny things that someone did even after their passing?  I remember when my Grandpapa passed away that my sister and I found comfort in laughing about how he would point out an animal by telling us the sound it would make before what it was.  "Awww, look there girls!  It's a moo-cow!" Or how he would always order us double what we wanted from Arby's because his philosophy was the more the better.  I loved that!  And when my Grandma passed my husband and I chuckled about how she would threaten to "peench" him if he touched her hair since it had to last another few days.  Ahhh, my husband loved pretending that he was going to ruffle her hair up.  Anyway, my point is that if we let sorrow swallow us then what kind of life is left for us to live?  Hey, maybe it's just our coping mechanism but whatever, it works for us and it helps us heal in most any situation...even finding out that you've been diagnosed with something as scary as bipolar disorder.  Some of the more humorous (and scary at the time) moments of our lives riddled with her disorder was when she'd show up at my house at two in the morning - I had no idea that I was indeed ready for a cup of coffee.  She was right, it tastes best when it's not needed to function for the day. I kinda miss the days when we'd go shopping when she was closet seems to be missing a few items. And I'm super sorry that the new medication took away her desire to show me new dance moves...MC Hammer had nothing on my sister! I still don't understand why she started crying when I attempted that last dance move she tried to teach me called the Roger Rabbit.  Wait, I think she would have cried even if she weren't chemically imbalanced.  My favorite game to play were the times when her medication would wear off and she'd repeat herself well over four times during a conversation - I'd change my response each time!  'Course she sometimes messed with me and repeated herself on purpose just to turn the game around on me...nice one Sister!
Jennifer, I'm so proud of you and I love you very much.  Don't ever stop taking your medication because life wouldn't be the same without you in it.
Bipolar disorder is nothing to laugh at but the person who has it is.  Own your issues and try as hard as you can to take control of your actions.  And don't forget to laugh at yourself as much as possible!

PS. I may or may not have agreed with your point last night Jenn...we'll figure that out depending on how you feel in the morning.
My daughter adores her Aunt Jennifer...we all do!