Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What Do I Want to Be When I Grow Up

I was a part of an interesting conversation with my friends about what we want to do (work or otherwise) with the rest of our lives. A couple of us are about to embark on the adventure of having both children in school fulltime so it makes sense that we rejoin the workforce. While my friends were chatting about the big things God is calling them to do (working with the elderly, becoming a motivational speaker), I sat uncharacteristically silent, listening. Finally they pressed me about my big dreams as a semi-free woman and I couldn't answer. I have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life.

It's not that I don't have interests, talents and education, but I just want to work some place where I can be home with my kids when they are home. I want to be able to take my kids to their piano lessons and sports events in the evening. I want them to be able to spend their time at home and not at a sitter's home. I want to keep being a stay-at-home mom with a real paycheck. Is there a job out there like this?

I mentioned before that I recently attended my 20 year high school reunion. Of all of my girlfriends, I was one of the only women who has stayed home with her children instead of pursuing a career. I was almost jealous until I heard about their hour long commutes to daycare and the lack of sleep they experienced.

I take great comfort in the fact that I did the right thing for my family by giving up an extra income. I thank God everyday that I have a wonderful husband who provides for his family and sees the benefits of someone staying home. At times I worry about the prospects of me settling in a career since I have been out of the workforce for almost a decade, but I wouldn't trade it for the time I have spent with my children.

So what do I want to do when I grow up? Just like I told my friends, "Eh, something will work out. It always does."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Jesus, Power Ranger... and Other Things I Never Thought I Would See, Hear or Say as a Mom

During Holy Communion at my church, it is traditional for the children in the Sunday school class to join in communion. Communion in my church is done through intinction (the pastor breaks off a piece of bread from the loaf and you dip the element into a cup of wine) or as we called it growing up “chip & dip”. In the Methodist tradition either taking the bread, or the wine, or both, or neither puts you in communion with Christ and the Church. Since my 5 year old has had a wheat allergy most of his life he doesn’t take the bread at communion, but instead comes up with his arms crossed over his chest (from my Episcopal days) and gets a blessing from the pastor. During our most recent Feast, Jim came up to the alter with his arms crossed. The pastor bent down slightly and quietly said, “Jesus loves you” from which Jim strongly and forcefully uncrossed his arms and threw them down at his sides in an inverted “V” and said “YEAH!” in something reminiscent of a Power Ranger move. In addition to being a bit embarrassed, I also got the giggles and found the serious moment of Communion lost in the antics of my feisty and exuberant 5 year old who was just thrilled that Jesus loves him. The situation came to mind other scenes and sentences I thought I would never see, hear or say in my lifetime as a mom.

“My mouth is not a parking garage.” (My toddler son trying to put trucks in my mouth)
“And there were in the same country a Viking and a seal keeping watch over their flock by night.” (My daughter’s misinterpretation of Luke 2:8)
“Why did you put your lunchbox behind the couch?”
“The only things you are allowed to put in your ears are your elbows.”
“I’ve been to Heaven. It was about 5 years ago.” (My son at age 5)
“I’d like some rats crackers and simian toast.”
“Why are there (insert favorite cereal here) all over the floor?”
“You aren’t the boss, Mom. Jesus is the boss!”

No truer words have been spoken by my children than that last statement, but I still want so much to be the boss and to be totally in control of every situation. I want my children to be well behaved at all times, including church. I never want there to be Trix cereal ground into my living room carpet. I certainly want my children to obey me. But God has other plans and reminds me constantly that I am not always in control, but if I trust in Him I will get something better…peace.

Being is a mom is the best job I ever had if only for the wonderful writing material motherhood provides. All kidding aside, God’s gift of my children brings me joy, excitement, frustration, anger, happiness and love…YEAH!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea Parties, Funny Mothers & Poop

April 15th usually invokes the usual moans and groans about paying too much taxes and long lines at the post office. But today was going to be different. Ordinary citizens (I think the government is calling us right-wing radicals now - how exciting) like myself were getting together for a Tea Party (Taxed Enough Already). In over 2000 cities, citizens (liberals, conservatives, moderates) would be gathering to protest the out of control spending our congress has adopted and to make our voices heard by those who think we work for them instead of the other way around.

I was so excited. For years I have been growing angrier everyday about the direction our country is taking. Now I could finally do something. Protest, yeah!! Of course, I use protest in the loosest sense. This party would not be a hippy peace march or some radical, left-wing, "burn your bra" type of affair. This would be more of a Patriotic Picnic. You know, say the pledge of allegiance, listen to some speeches made by local celebrities while everyone is polite and orderly. I wasn't expecting loud chanting, police in riot gear or tear gas - something I think my mother was expecting.

The 15th had finally arrived. I dropped my children off at their midweek "Sunday school" class and rushed to downtown Wheeling, WV for the Tea Party. I parked 4 blocks away and sprinted in the rain with my little American flag waving. When I got down to Heritage port I was delighted to see 1000 to 1500 people gathered waiting for the festivities to commence. There were SAHMs, 70-year old women with signs, working class men and women, even children, etc... you know right wing, "overthrow the government" type radicals.

We said the Pledge of Allegiance, sang the "Star Spangled Banner" and did some whoops and hollers as my good friend (an IT specialist from Wheeling) started pumping the crowd up. And then the cell phone call came... my 5-year old was suffering from a stomach ache and could I please come and get him. Oh, the disappointment...

I made the trek back to my car and rushed to the church to pick up my children. It turns out my son, well, to be delicate, wanted to use the bathroom facilities at home to take care of business. I missed the speeches, the rest of the whoops and hollers and the chance to mingle with other like-minded Americans, but I was there for a moment and it was exciting.

I guess I see my detour from the Tea Party as sort of a metaphor. We can keep fighting (peacefully) back, but congress is just going to keep putting poop in our way.

On a funny note, on my way back to my car I ran into my good, Obama-supporting, liberal friend. She asked me if I had a good time at the Tea Party and then we made a lunch date. I love America!

Shock & Awe

My brother sent me this video this morning. Watch it first and then I will comment.

As I was watching the interview with Susan Boyle before her performance I was thinking she just must be just awful - I mean she's 47 (looks like 57), she's never been married, she lives with several cats and now, all of the sudden, she is some undiscovered talent? Gimme a break. Randy loves a good joke, so this gal must be the most horrible of the horribles. The audience was laughing at her, the judges looked skeptical - although I'll hand it to Simon he is always professional before the performance and then rips the contestant apart AFTERwards.

But then, she opened her mouth and the most amazing sound emerged. I started to cry. I was bawling!! I cried because it was beautiful; I cried because the previously nasty audience was cheering; I cried because Simon and Pierce, who are the biggest cynics in all of England, were smiling and cheering for this "cheeky" woman. I cried because I was one of the cynics who was about to eat her hat!

We go through our lives thinking it's too late to change; it's too late to realize dreams; it's too late late to be successful. Susan Boyle proves that it's not too late. Bloody fantastic!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Packrats

It’s springtime (well it's technically springtime, but it is snowing today) and it’s time to clean out those closets and purge!! I love throwing things out – it’s so cleansing and freeing. But alas, it’s not so easy when you live with PACKRATS!

I come from a long line of purgers. My mother is a purger. My grandmother was purger. My sister is the champion of all purgers. She moved from Richmond, VA to Salt Lake City, Utah and sold EVERYTHING including her CDs movies, furniture and a car. She is my idol on simple living! So good “clean” fun for my family has always been organizing that dreaded junk door or donating a garbage bag full of clothes to Goodwill. So what’s the problem – I married a packrat and gave birth to packrat children.

My husband has t-shirts from the 80’s that he will never wear again, but we have to keep them because they have sentimental value. Some of the shirts you can’t even read what is on them anymore, but they remind him a great time in his life, so every few years we pull out the t-shirt box and reminisce. He has a baseball cap for everyday of the month (he doesn’t wear baseball caps), but I can’t throw them away either – he might need a baseball cap.

My daughter inherited the same illness. She brings home mounds of busy work from school that she insists on keeping because they represent her work. It’s hard to explain to a 7 year old that it’s the PROCESS not the PRODUCT involved in school work. In my organized fashion I have bought a set of boxes in which “special” papers or “examples” of her school work can be stored, but she still insists that a general note from the school regarding the book fair needs to go in there as well.

There are theories regarding extreme hoarding that states that the hoarder has a hard time making decisions so they don’t throw things away because they feel it will be the wrong decision. I don’t think that applies to my family. Maybe my husband and daughter are more tender-hearted and sentimental about objects, while I tend to be more sentimental about, well, ... nothing. So I will put on my understanding wife and mommy hat and respect their apparent need to keep every little scrap or nothing. I’ll sneak stuff out of the house when they aren’t looking.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The New 30-Something Teens

They say that 30 is the new 20 and 40 is the new 30; but how do you explain 35 year old+ women interested in things that were orginally designed for teenagers?

Yesterday, I sat on the couch almost the entire day engrossed in the vampire novel by Stephenie Meyer called "Twilight". No doubt mothers with preteen and teenage daugthers are familiar with the series (and the subsequent movie), but I am 39 with very young children who know nothing of this series. I know about these books because all of my 30-something year old friends keep talking about how they stayed up all night to read a 500 page book. I have friends exchanging "flair" on Facebook (another teen phenomena taken over by the old people) that reads "Edward Cullen is my vampire boyfriend" or "Bella Swan wannabe!" What's going on?

I was a bit skeptical of the book since it dealt with a subject I tend to shy away from, but the story is very engaging, easy to read, and deals with the dual nature of everyone's personality. Nothing bloody, gory or sexually graphics happens in the story making it acceptable for teenagers (and their 60 year old grandmothers) to read. Heck, my mother has a copy waiting in the wings to read!

So, I am patiently waiting for Wednesday when a friend will be loaning me her copy of the sequel. I can't wait to find out what happens in the next story! It's totally tubular!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mad About Scrabble Beta

“God grant me the serenity to accept the words I cannot change, the courage to play the tiles I can, and the wisdom to use the triple word score.”

This quote is known as the Scrabble Serenity Prayer and sums up my latest obsession – Facebook’s Scrabble Beta. I love being able to play Scrabble with total strangers or good friends at my leisure. Sometimes a game lasts an entire week. I have convinced myself that at age 39 I need to keep my mind agile – that’s why I play 3 or 4 games at a time. Yeah right! I play for the competition and the friendly banter and complaining that goes along with Scrabble.

Nothing beats playing the Z on a triple word score or discovering that a word you were just playing around with is really a word!! Which brings me to an interesting phenomena – I haven’t heard of half the words I play. Scrabble Beta has a wonderful built in dictionary that allows you to “test” a word before playing the word. For instance, do you know what QANAT means? I sure don’t, but it’s a great word to play when you don’t have a U for your Q. How about the word KEITLOA? Someone played this one in a game against me – I am convinced this person is either an English professor or has found a really good word generator. Did you know PLOTZ is a word? According to it means to collapse or faint, as from surprise, excitement, or exhaustion. That’s what happened to my friend, Chris, when she played this word in a recent game on a double word score.

In addition to the excitement of the game there are also those irritants that come with Scrabble. There are no two-letter C or two-letter V words which makes it hard to build a word underneath another word ( a great way to score big with 1 point letters). I am thinking about petitioning Webster’s about making VA a word just so I’ll have some options. Then there are the times when you play a few letters and you pick them right back up again from the “bag”. Or when your letters start singing “Old MacDonald” – EIEIO!

The coup de grace in Scrabble is when you are down by 75 and you swap all of your letters and end up spelling a great word like GIGANTIC which uses all of your letters (a 50 point bonus). Wasn’t that a great move, Dad? Of course, he beat me anyway.

By the way a QANAT is a gently sloping underground tunnel for irrigation purposes
and KEITLOA are a variety of the black rhinoceros having the posterior horn equal to or longer than the anterior horn. Who knew? Who cares – they pay off big in Scrabble!

Criss Cross