Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Need Some Net-ertainment?

I recently discovered Mental Floss and am hooked. All kinds of offbeat information, trivia, interesting finds. For example, check out today's Morning Cup 'O Links. I spent a good 10 minutes playing with the Ohio counties map piano. Or how about skateboarders playing real life downhill Tetris? Turn down lights in your room prior to watching to really get the visual impact. How about the section called What's The Difference? They compare things that are often confused or not seen as very different- Frogs and Toads, Communism and Socialism, Marvel and DC, Monet and Manet, and so on. How about the Late Night Movies? This one is a collection of feel good internet video clips- some recent, some old, and all are fun to watch. Especially enjoyed the first one as I hadn't ever seen it before- we see tearful reunions between soldiers and spouses and kids and we cry... this is the first time I watched an Iraqi vet come home and greet his dogs for the first time. Very cool. And don't miss the story of Jason McElwain. Most of us know the story (and he ended up coming to work for the Colts, I do believe)... but boy did it make me cry all over again! So head over to Mental Floss and explore a while. Looks like there is a print magazine too (I assume it is missing the video clips). Might be a good gift for my brothers! And if you have a favorite fun site like this one- please share it in the comments!

Feeling Charitable?

I put a new link in that header bar up there. It's to yet another blog... this one is to store entries with information on organizations I support or efforts I support. If you would like your organization or a group that you support to be considered (I would need to do due diligence so that it would be something that I support and not just something someone else supports), please e-mail me (my e-mail addy is in my profile). And if you are looking for an organization to support, need ideas, inspiration, or whatever, head over and check it out!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Whoo Hoo, Shark Buddies, Go Flyers!

I have to admit that I don't get 2 references in my subject. I understand them, but there are other people who will actually be delighted to see those words on my blog.

My brother Ted, a recently rising star of this blog, is in the Pride of Dayton. POD is the marching band for University of Dayton. And they're good. They sound good, they look good, and they are oodles of fun at the games. I seriously think they work harder at pumping up the crowd and cheering on the players than the cheerleaders do!

I had the honor of being invited to Family Weekend by my brother. Saturday was a football game and POD had a host of events for the family members of the band.

My mom was out of town so I got to hang out with my dad and my brother (Daniel) while we enjoyed POD and the UD football game (against Duquesne- UD won). I arrived at 10:30 and easily found my dad and Daniel. Ted’s practice ended and he joined us in the POD tailgate tent for burgers and lively chats. Some of his friends joined us- Brooks and Mike and Em.

A word about Em… For over a year now, Ted has been wanting me to come to UD to meet Em. They are very good friends, maybe even best friends. Tons of inside jokes and late night humor and similar interest. She’s a Resident Assistant, she’s also part of POD and she’s one of the first friends Ted made at UD. I imagine that she is his Jim. Instant and deep connection, lots in common. Anyway, Ted has insisted time and time again that Em and I are so much alike, that we will totally hit it off. And he’s been saying the same to Em. And now we finally got to meet. I knew we would either totally love each other or really not like each other.

Love. At first sight. She’s awesome. We have a similar sense of humor, similar passions (she wants to be a family attorney so she can stand up for foster kids or kids in divorce situations or kids in trouble), and we both think my brother is awesome. She is one of those people that always includes everyone around her in her joy and enthusiasm. You can’t help but be attracted to the light that emanates from her. She and Ted have all sorts of inside jokes- most of which go back to something from POD- and “Whoo Hoo” and “Shark Buddies” would be a couple of those things.

I met 2 of Ted’s fellow trombone section friends- Bones of Steel. Brooks and Mike. Both are upperclassmen. Both were polite, funny, good looking, engaging. They were interesting to talk to and also showed interest in me and what I do.

I missed out on Ted’s high school years because I live in Indiana. I wasn’t there when he went to Homecoming or Prom. I didn’t go to his youth group functions or participate in many scouting events (I was there when he was awarded his Eagle Scout, though). The same goes for Daniel. And I hate missing that part of my brother’s lives. I hate not knowing their friends. I hate not knowing about first romances or those puppy love feelings or crushes. They know they can talk to me or e-mail me or call me. Ted actually took me up on it once and I hope it helped- it seemed to go well.

Anyway- back to Saturday. So we had lunch and then the POD performed for the tailgaters. That was cool. They marched out from the far side of the arena, across the parking lot, and performed several songs for us. The football crossed by as they played- that was cool, too. Then they performed as they marched into the stadium. It was just awesome. They sound good, they look good, they have incredible energy. They have fun. Just like you should at that age.

POD is a really cool thing to be part of. I think it really set the path for Ted and his college experience. POD has band camp a week prior to dorm move-in. So his freshman year, Ted was on campus a week early. Bonus. Then he had band camp and got to meet and connect with his fellow band mates. Bonus. And I recently learned that they actually hook freshman up with upperclassman and hold a “marriage ceremony” so that you have a very official POD family- someone to turn to with questions, if you need a ride, etc. And as an upperclassman, someone to look out for and take under your wing. Bonus. Bonus.

One more cool thing about Saturday… It is tradition for the band members family members to join the band on the field at halftime to dance! Last year, according to my dad, the dance was a choreographed number taught to them by the cheerleaders. This year, it was a basic swing dance that you could do whatever you’d like to do with it. I missed rehearsal but I’m fine with swing dancing so my dad and I had a great time taking to that football field!

video

video

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mom- The Soft Place To Fall

I think I first heard the phrase "soft place to fall" from Dr. Phil, to be honest. And it stuck with me. I hope that my husband, my kids, my friends know that I am that soft place to fall. That when things are tough, when you need care, when you need to stop beating yourself up and taking hits... I can cushion the blows. It's a challenge because it also means dropping judgement. I had a realization this afternoon about that "soft place." And came to realize that I am very fortunate to have a mom who is still my soft place to fall. My mom and I have been on an interesting journey. She made a bad choice in her first husband (ironically, I repeated her mistake and also made a bad choice in my first marriage- live and learn, history repeats itself, etc). She was soon a single mom. We lived with her parents from the time I was 3 until I was about 5, I think. Then it was just the 2 of us. We struggled. She was working through dental school, dating a guy in med school (who became my dad). I was hiding the hugest secret of my life (being routinely sexually abused by a cousin). She married that med school guy- now a doctor, now my dad. We moved from Lexington to Cincinnati. New schools, new home, new family. Chaos as I entered adolescence. My poor mom... she was pregnant when I was a teenager. Plus, I was fighting my own demons from bubbling to the surface. Her pregnant hormones, nursing hormones, sleep deprivation- all things I fully understand now. Plus, her pregnancies were HARD. Her morning sickness was 24/7. She was uber-sensitive to smells and couldn't keep any food down. And she had a teenager that was not making life easy. I was starting my freshman year of high school in a new private school- I was slipping away in the public school. So my hormonal, sick, exhausted, stressed mom drove me to and from school every day- 30 minutes each way (my dad drove me when he could). She suffered through my theatre involvement, my volleyball practice and games. And I was acting out the entire time. I can't imagine. And then it got worse. She was pregnant again. Sicker than before- even had to be hospitalized for dehydration. We fought constantly. I yelled and screamed and was so dramatic in my emotional turmoil. My senior year of high school... my mom and dad have no idea what to do with me. I'm spinning more and more and more out of control and on the verge of seriously hurting myself. My parents are trying to create a happy and normal childhood for my brother, Ted. My mom is nursing a baby- my brother, Daniel. My parents are making choices to try and build a loving foundation with my brothers and I am fighting tooth and nail to try to force them to hate me. We reached the apex of the chaos and my parents did the best thing for me- met with my psychologist, my school counselor, and maybe some other people (I don't know who all was at this meeting of the minds) and offered me a chance for serious, intensive help. 2+ weeks inpatient in an adolescent inpatient hospital unit. Several months outpatient. I missed out on most of the last quarter of my senior year. I went to prom, I graduated with my class. Some proved to be real friends who supported me through a very crazy time and some were cruel, some cut me off, whatever. But my mom and dad stayed by me for all of it. I started college on time. Plans changed as to where I was attending because I needed to stay close to my support system- so instead of a small school near Chicago, I went to Xavier University. Lived on campus, went to therapy, and started rebuilding my life from scratch. And now I am a mom. And I think about what my mom must have been going through- what I put her through. And I am grateful, I am blessed, I am humbled. That's all a lot of important back story to get us to my enlightened moment today. I hope you've hung in here with me. When my mom comes to visit... it seems that I am always exhausted. I've always assumed that it was because I can't keep up with her. She is always going and doing and cleaning and planting and cooking and reading and playing and gardening and... all while entertaining my kids, keeping them involved, teaching them, loving them. Lately, her visits seem to always coincide with times that I am feeling under the weather and I find myself without the energy to keep up, to participate, to be with them. Today, I crashed on the couch. I slept on the couch. I felt exhausted. I couldn't have fought that sleep and it seemed to have come out of nowhere. It hit me this evening. My mom is my soft place to fall. When my mom is here, I feel like I can let all expectations go. I don't have to "be" anything for her. Any other people around my kids- I still have to be the one who is "in charge" or I feel like I have to make good use of my time or I feel like there is an expectation of what I need to do or be or say or whatever. This isn't a bad thing. It's life. We are expected to behave in certain ways in certain situations. I can let most of that down with Jeff. But he needs and wants from me, too. Just like I need and want from him. But when my mom is here... I can let go completely. I know Jeff and I might get frustrated with all of the constructive criticism we get about the house. I know that we can get a little annoyed with trying to find things after she has "helped" clean up the kitchen. But I've reached a point where I don't care what my house looks like when she gets here (within reason) because it is what it is. And I know that her suggestions, her busy-ness, her cleaning and gardening and activities with my kids... are all done in love. She's helping and trying to make life easier for us. So when my mom is here... I can release. I fully trust her to take care of our kids. I let go of any sense of there being expectations on me. She's offered me tough love, sacrificial love, motherly love... and she's my soft place. My mommy.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

365 Days

Finding this graphic in a Google Images search was a very nice reminder of what it means to be part of the blogosphere. This was the first image that popped up and it linked me to my friend Amy's blog- The 4th Frog- and to her own recent blogiversary post. A general search leads me to someone I know. That's pretty cool. 537 posts. I only started tracking hits at the end of January- but have had 23K hits in that time frame. I've learned about blog conferences and groups. I've smartened up on Analytics and learned about how to best promote oneself. But none of that is why I blog. I love to write. I love connecting with people. People fascinate me. I love perspectives, experiences, struggles, triumphs, everyday comforts, joy, pain, humanity, compassion, and silliness. And I've seen all that and more over the past year. In my first post, I said: My mission statement... I am here to share ideas that I find or come up with in regards to parenting, babies, work, home, friendships, marriage, and anything else I feel like sharing. I like to test ideas. I like to test products. I like to test food and restaurants. I like to take and share pictures. I think I've done that pretty well. Here's to more of it in year 2. And maybe some expansion... reaching more people, connecting with more people, sharing more of myself and my learning. My kids are getting older so I hope to have more "around Indy" things to share, more adventures, more places to explore and share with you. Thanks for being here, for connecting back, for reading and commenting, for clicking my way... I'd be nothing without my readers. I would have quit by now if I didn't know there were people reading and enjoying and learning and laughing with me! In the words of Michael Conniff, "The heart and soul of blogging is the individual and/or the group of individuals opining on the fly and responding post-haste to one and all."

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fuh-fuh-fuh Fragments!

(I hope you sung along on the title.... Ch-ch-ch-Chia!) It's Friday and that means Fragments! Thanks to the lovely Mrs.4444 for hosting Friday Fragments and to Ordinary and Awesome for hosting Friday Freewrite! First of all, if you only pop by for Friday Fragments, I'd love it if you'd visit the silliness of yesterday's post. Click here or just scroll down (it's the very next post). We had a lot of fun and I really needed a day of creative challenge and goofiness. Second, if you'd like another Friday stop and you like to talk about food, swing over to Ca-Joh's for the Friday Feast (button below is clickable). This week's discussion is on pizza- that's one most everyone has an opinion on!!

Let's get to Fragin' and Free Writin'

** I love Glee. This week's episode had a character coming out to his dad. They'd set the dad up so that you assume he's all macho and close-minded and that the boy really fears what his dad might think. When he tells his dad... the response was beautiful. "I've known since you were 3. All you wanted for your birthday was a pair of sensible heels." I wish I had written down the rest of his response- I can't find it online. But it was exactly right. It was accepting and loving. I think that's part of what makes Glee so fantastic. There is this dark realism but then the give the big, shiny, happy ending or silver lining. So even though you know things are tough or stressful... there is still the chance that the football team dancing to "Single Ladies" will result in the team winning the game.

** No crankies today. Thankfully. I'm very calm today. Got my sillies out yesterday. Had a great time with the Music Team last night. Kids are good. Life is good!

** I spent some time updating the playlist on my phone yesterday. Deleted any traces of Kanye West. Buh-bye. Well, traces might not be the right word. Because I love the Glee version of Gold Digger. So that's on there. Added some David Crowder Band, Black Eyed Peas, Outkast, Regina Spektor, Natasha Bedingfield, Glee, Coldplay, Beyonce...

** From time to time, I think about career changes. I've been with my current company in my current department for almost 10 years. I started as a temporary administrative assistant and have promoted up to admin to the VP over our dept and then to Purchasing Specialist and then a title that was given to me because I didn't have as much experience as our Purchasing Managers but I was doing the job of a Purchasing Manager and then finally got promoted to Purchasing Manager and now 3M has job-mapped all of us to fit into their structure so I'm a Procurement Analyst and Government Contract Administrator. Whew! Anyway- I am proud of what I've accomplished in these 10 years. But this is also never where I dreamed I'd be. Ever. I'm not itching to get out or anything. But I'm starting to think more about what I might enjoy if/when I do leave this place. And I would love to work with young adults or teens. I don't know in what capacity. But I love their energy and I feel like I have something to give back. I think I'll soon be getting an idea of whether or not this is a good fit as I might have a chance to work with the youth group in our church over the next few months. We'll see.

** It's funny... even though I want to work with teens and young adults... the idea of actually doing it... kinda scares me, too. Isn't it funny how just the thought of teenagers can rush you back to your own experiences at that age? I wouldn't go back for anything. College, yes. High school... not so much. My life was chaos and insecurity and self-loathing. Wouldn't want that back for anything.

** I think I'm driving to Dayton tomorrow to see my little brother (Ted- I wrote about his birthday this week). He plays trombone for Pride of Dayton- Univ of Dayton's marching band. He's a boner. Yup. Anyway- we kept meaning to go visit him last year and never made it. It's family weekend and the band has stuff scheduled before the football game tomorrow- including the POD playing for the Tailgate. Teagan has dance class and says she wants to go to dance class instead of to Dayton so it looks like I'll be going by myself. Which is fine. At least I'll have control of the radio!

** Ever try making a parenting threat and it just doesn't work? Jeff was getting the kids dressed yesterday morning and Zach was giving him a hard time, kicking his feet, not cooperating. The frustration level was rising. I'm listening in from the bathroom, brushing my hair, when I hear Jeff try a phrase we've used a version of on Teagan once or twice... "Zachary! If you don't get these pants on, you will just have to go to Miss Lisa's in just your diaper! And all the other kids will point and laugh at you!" Given that there isn't a single kid not in diapers at Miss Lisa's and given that every male's dream seems to be to spend as much time as possible without pants on... I don't see the threat carrying much weight.

** Tomorrow is my 1 Year Blog-iversary! If you aren't a regular reader, I'd love it if you "followed" along or add my to your reader or whatever. If you are a regular reader... you already know I love you. I feel like I "Should" do something special to mark the day but my Saturday is going to be way to packed to even consider a special blog post. And I'm too strapped to try and do a giveaway (unless some great company out there is reading this and contacts me today with a bunch of free stuff to give away... no? Oh well.).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Calling Dr. Fashion- Stat!

Remember that sale I went to at Goodwill? Well, I got this sweater. And I love the color, the weight, the way it fits. But it has this... thing... and I don't know what to do with it! See- it's this around the neck thing with these little pearls attached all around it. I don't love this part of the sweater but if I can make it work, I'll be a happy mama. I can't take it off the sweater because it is really a part of it- all knitted together and such.
Here's what it looks like if I do nothing with it: Here's what it looks like if I tie it: Perhaps an around the neck/hide the hickey look?
Tried to hide it but ended up looking like an inept bra-stuffer.
So I'd like you to leave a comment with a suggestion of how you'd like me to attempt wearing this thing today. Covering my face, over my ears, whatever. And I will take a pic and share it. This is a chance for some creativity (and my own personal humiliation, of course).
So bring it on! Give me your best ideas! I am so not a fashionista type- I can truly barely dress myself most days. So I have no idea what these little hangy down things are for... Help! Please help!
****
Our first recommendation was over the ears, tied over the head. Thanks, Mimbles!
Garret, of Jim and Garret RVing fame, suggested the "soothing a tooth ache" look...
A suggestion from my BFF Jim. Funny how he isn't a boob-man in the slightest but he picks the style that is very boob accentuating...

A Facebook comment suggestion- they aren't decorative or fashionable, they serve a purpose. Built in hanky for preventing the spread of H1N1. Not for blowing or wiping, mind you. Only for catching the sneeze-spray. Thanks, Jen! And since tying seems to be the favored actual option, I tried 2 more ways of tying... (OK- I actually kinda like that last one...)

Keep the suggestions coming! ***

At the suggestion of Hotel Tuesday- who knows about fashion as he is the host of the fabulous PRJNCT (Project Runway for Barbies- oodles of talent and buckets of laughs)- I present the power trend of the 80's and 90's, soon to hit some runway somewhere...

SHOULDER PADS!

We might be on to something here... the way these things are attached, the shoulder pads can be rolled up to easily tuck under the material while still allowing for some neckline adornment. Hm. Actually looks like a weird growth or very misplaced boob or a tragically inept bra-stuffing.

Let's try a different way...

I like it! Still shows my "corporate power" but highlights my feminine side.

***

Next?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Square Dancing

From time to time, something jumps up and jogs my dusty old memory trap and jiggles a little something loose. Today, being a room mom has done just that. Another mom and I are discussing ideas for the Green Room's Harvest Party. The Green Room is the before and after school care room and Ms. Tori is the teacher, Ms. Whittney the assistant. The mom of Teagan's best buddy, Kyle (who also used to be cared for by Miss Lisa- our daycare provider), is the other room mom. We already know each other so working together will hopefully be pretty easy. Today, an e-mail came out asking Room Parents to start thinking up ideas for the Harvest Party for their assigned room. as I was Googling and Binging and taking notes, an idea popped into my head. I have no idea if we will do it or not- but I hope we do because I think it would be a hoot- is square dancing. Keep it really basic, play a little square dance music, partner off the kids, teach them to do-si-do and promenade. And as I started thinking about it... I suddenly remembered that my mom used to square dance! When she and my dad were dating, I remember them square dancing. My mom must have been pretty into it because I know she had special shoes and a petticoat (I loved that big fluffy thing) and a special dress (I think it was blue). I remember going to some of these square dances with my mom and her then-boyfriend. It's funny... I don't remember a lot of details about it. And I'm betting my mom will read this and help crack up this memory vault. But it's one of those things that I had completely forgotten about. And it feels like it's almost part of my heritage, you know? That petticoat used to sit on this little table like thing in my mom's closet (we had really good sized closets in our apartment). It was great for being a princess, as a ginormous wedding veil or dress, and made a great cover over a hide and seek spot in that closet. And I have to wonder if my mom's involvement in square dancing didn't end up sparking my interest in show choir? Square dancing shoes aren't much different from character shoes. I dabbled in theatre in high school, more involved in college, show choir helped incorporate that love of music and movement, and then all of that community theatre when I moved to Indy. It had to come from somewhere. Here's something else really important that I remember about my mom square dancing. Her face. Her smile. She would put on make up when she went square dancing. Her face would beam- that smile would take over her body. She had fun. She let loose. At least that's how I remember it...

PS22 Chorus

I suppose it is possible that you haven't heard of the PS22 Chorus. They are a YouTube sensation. They've been featured on VH1, MTV, NPR, and various news organizations. Perez Hilton helped shoot them to fame when he took notice of them and started posting their videos on his blog. They do covers of Tori Amos, Coldplay, Lady Gaga, and more. The chorus director is, from what I see on the videos and interviews, an amazing man. He is really opening the eyes of these kids to something powerful inside themselves- something they might not have an opportunity to see with him, without music, without the chorus. 2009 was a big year for the fifth graders in the chorus. Lots of attention from the media, news outlets, stars. Appearances on the new Electric Company, providing vocals for Passion Pit. Those kids have moved on to 6th grade and a new chorus is filling the seats. After just a week of school, the chorus was visited by VH1 and some of the cast of the new movie Fame. It reminds me of my recent post, Kid-spiration. The chorus director teaches the kids to feel the music. To hear the words and feel them. To hear the music and feel it. And to let that feeling come out when you sing it. And if that means moving around, move around! I also love that he has started to share bits of interaction with the kids- asking them what they thought of singing with a Fame cast member, talking about the upcoming year. This man is so positive and full of energy. I know this is just one chorus getting a lot of attention. But I hope that the attention that the PS22 Chorus receives does more than empower these specific young people... that this movement does more than put director Gregg Brainberg in the spotlight... my hope is that the excitement over this specific school, this specific chorus will bring more attention to the importance of strong arts programs in our schools. Gregg's position with the school was in peril. The funds weren't there to keep him in the position he was in and while his employment didn't necessarily face peril, the existence of the Chorus did. So if you need a little hope, inspiration, joy... go spend some time with the PS22 Chorus. You won't regret it!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Blog Wars!

This Saturday marks my one year anniversary of entering into the blogosphere. My impression of this blogging world has been remarkably positive. I've watched people come together to support others, I've seen bloggers use their platform to support those in need or to lift up a cause. I've connected with many bloggers- some have even connected back. I've watched my "followers" grow from 2 (Jeff, Christy) to 90. I've learned about stat counters and Google Analytics and increasing traffic. I've been tiptoeing around Twitter and exploring other blogs. I've been seeking my niche, my strength, trying to define what I bring. And just yesterday, after a year with very little realization of the big picture, I stumbled upon the very ugly, dark side of the blogosphere. The Death Star, if you will. A large planet sized destroyer of good. Apparently, there are bad guy bloggers. I knew that but hadn't experienced it. Maybe even hoped it was just an urban legend. Yesterday, I happened upon a video blog on YouTube from a month ago. A story about a blogger suing Google for revealing her identity. She had written nasty things about a model. The model filed suit and required that Google provide identity information. Then that blogger, having been revealed, sued Google. I found it interesting that someone thought they could actually remain anonymous online. It's one thing if you work to keep yourself private but still share yourself. So you don't use your name, your kids' names, identifying information, etc. But to think that you can assume an anonymous identity in order to be nasty and vile and slanderous... you will get caught. It will catch up with you. Then I headed over to a blog I recently started reading. She's a mom and has a lot of kids and most have been adopted and are special needs. She's got a crazy life but I admire the love she pours out and the life she is providing for these young people. She has no clue who I am and that's fine- I just enjoy observing. Things have been heating up over there... and there was a big old nasty post recently about one of those phantom attack bloggers now attacking her. I have to admit to being curious. So I started doing some digging. And it turns out that the Phantom Menace Blogger (this is my own name for this blogger) has spent the past few years targeting the "big" mommy bloggers and the occasional dad blogger. I spent more time than I should have reading the Phantom Menace Blogger's blog last night. This woman is in constant attack mode... I just can't imagine what that must feel like, to be so angry and hateful and full of spite and piss and vinegar. I found another blogger that claims to know who the Phantom Menace Blogger is and has details on her... and this blogger also likes to bitch about people and vent about posts and bloggers and invites others to do the same. I finally shut down the window, closed all tabs. And took a deep breath. And I looked at my blog roll and realized how lucky I am that my first year of blogging has been full of positive connections, interactions with positive people. I've been thinking a lot lately about how to move my blog to the "next step." How to settle into whatever my niche is, how to define myself as a blogger, how to get more readers, more followers, more traffic. But after last night... I'm done. I'm happy with the little space I've carved out here. I'm happy with those who read and never comment, with those who read and comment frequently, with those who pop in for a quick glance, with those who help to lift me up... I'm happy knowing that my mom reads my blog, my church friends read my blog (Ashli, Pastor Jennifer, Jill, Victoria), my mommy friends read my blog (Lindsey, Collette, Jen, Anne, Nancy), my daily life friends read my blog (Christy, Tim, Jim), my MomsLikeMe friends read my blog (too many to list). I appreciate when those folks give me feedback and talk to me about things I've written. I like knowing that my words, my experiences, my images, my memories connect with other people. So I'm going to keep my little happy blogger blinders on. I'm going to stick with the blogs that aren't about bashing other people, that aren't about complaining and venting all the time (we all need to complain and vent sometimes, I know!!). I'm going to Blog With Integrity. BlogWithIntegrity.com I've seen this badge on other sites and didn't pay much attention to it. I hadn't been exposed to the seamy underbelly of the blogosphere beast. But in all of my clicking around last night, I came across a link to it and I went and looked at the site and the pledge and boy did it bring me back to center after spinning about with all the drama I was witnessing. A lot of what Blog With Integrity is about deals with sponsors and advertisers and so on. I don't do that. The closest thing I've got is a relationship with a PR firm that asks me to test Verizon phones and share what I think online. That started prior to blogging- when I was still "just" an online community mom. I've shared some of those product thoughts here on the blog and will continue to do so- I get no compensation for it. Other than that, I've only been approached one time by an advertiser- some do-it-yourself online buying parts place, I forget the name. You know... while I would honestly love it if my blog started making a little money or hooking me up with great local opportunities or even just afforded me a little sense of celebrity... it isn't why I'm here. I'm here because I love to write. And it's taken me a year to figure that out. I like having an audience and I feed on comments like any blogger. But so much of what I do is almost therapeutic. When I'm crumbling under parenting pressure and dealing with toddler tantrums and marital stress and work overload... I can come here and work through it. I think that most of my writing has that tone. I start out focusing on the problem but by the end, I've got a plan in place to do something about it. I hope it feels that way to my readers and that you are getting something from my process, too. I've sometimes had days where I get hit with 5 blog entry ideas at once. And I write and research and write and write and I schedule those blogs to post. And then I feel empty for the next few days because I'm not starting my day with writing. Which is why you sometimes get an onslaught of 2-3 posts a day. I'm not one to edit and proof and re-read my posts. I write from my heart, in the moment. Which is why things get rambly and non-sensical sometimes. So the bottom line, if there really is one, is this: I'm not changing. Wow, that sounds odd. I'm not actively seeking changes to my blog or my blogging process or my blogging relationships. That sounds better. I'm going to stick with what's been working for me so far. I'm going to keep sharing myself openly and honestly, with integrity. I'm going to keep seeking out opportunities to connect with my regular readers who put themselves out there in comments or e-mails (Garret, Flartus, Lori, Tom, Mrs4444, Mimbles, Heather, Emma, The Jason Show, Joanie, Braja and many more). I'm going to keep enjoying the fun of Friday Fragments, I'm going to keep sharing my parenting struggles and joys and triumphs, I'm going to keep reading and commenting and connecting. If opportunities come my way, I won't disregard them if they suit my purpose, my blog (like Mrs4444's suggestion to Tweet about my jeans issue- maybe something will come along and find my blog and seek me out with the perfect pair of jeans). And I won't be starting any Blog Wars or bashing other mommies or passing judgement on my readers or spewing venom and threats. I'll stick with what has been working so far. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. I'm going to keep on keepin' on. With Integrity. Without bashing others.
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I own my words. Even if I occasionally have to eat them.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Happy Birthday, Teddy!

I have 2 little brothers. Well, they aren't so little anymore. Daniel is 18 years younger than I am. Ted is 15 years younger than I am. Daniel is a junior in high school. Ted is a sophomore in college.

It's a unique sibling relationship when there is such an age gap. While we didn't grow up together or play together or build forts in the back yard... I was a big sis who hosted picnics in the living room, I was there when Ted cried at his first movie (Air Bud; Ted was maybe 6 years old).

I moved off to college when my brothers were little- makes sense, given the age difference.

I remember very clearly the night each of my brothers was born and I remember a lot of their infancies and toddler-hoods.

Today, my baby brother Teddy... now known as Ted... turns 20. No more "teen" to soften the blow of that age. His boyhood is moving fast behind him and he is becoming a solid young man.

It's funny how you change when you "leave the nest." I know I changed a lot when I went off to college. And I've been sitting back and watching Ted blossom, too. And Daniel's time is just around the corner.

But in many ways, Ted will always be Teddy. There is something about being present in someone's life from the day they were born that causes a part of them to be forever stuck at younger ages in your head and heart.

In some ways, Teddy will always be 3 years old, biting into an onion, thinking it was an apple. In some ways, Teddy will always be 6 years old, crying because the boy is abandoning Air Bud on that island. In some ways, Teddy will always want me to read him a story, need his Brave Lion that his big sister gave him, or be the boy that I sat on the grass with, watching the Ohio River, having a picnic and a few tickle fights...

But most of all, Teddy will always be the boy with the Chicken Salad Story.

When Teddy was around 5 years old, my mom was in a phase of weird cooking. She thought it was a great idea to mash vegetables into potatoes so she could "trick" you into eating veggies. There were some odd tasting combinations. I think this was also around the time she began experimenting with tofu. But if there was a casserole or anything blended on the table, we were all a bit cautious. Teddy was already a picky eater. Experimental cook and a picky eater- not always a good match.

This evening, mom served normal food. Nothing fancy, even. Chicken Salad. Chicken, mayo, grapes, some seasoning (maybe dill).

Teddy begins picking and poking and questioning and maybe even whining a bit...

"What is this? I don't want to eat chicken salad! What's in it?"

Instead of going the typical route of honesty... his big sis decided to give him what he seemed to want... the "real" ingredients in mom's chicken salad.

"Well, this is chicken. That's easy. But this right here (pointing to dill)... that's grass from the backyard!"

Teddy's eyes got bigger... "Really???"

"Oh yes! I saw mom do it. She grabbed her scissors and went right out there and cut up a bunch of grass and then I saw her put it in this bowl!"

"Well.. then... what's this?" He nudges a grape with his fork.

"That? Oh, well. I'm not sure I should tell you... but... well, it's a goat's eyeball."

My mom and dad had to stifle giggles at this point.

"A WHAT? A goat's eyeball? Lizzie!"

"It's true! It's a goat's eyeball!"

Ted gives me a sideways glance, thinking over what I've said, trying to decide if I'm teasing or not...

"How did Mom get the goat's eyeball? Did she have to kill it?"

"Oh goodness no! She just walked up to the goat, smacked him on the back of his head, and his eyeball fell right out. She rinsed it off and plopped it right into our salad!"

At this point, the adults at the table aren't containing the giggles and it's clear that I am joking.

"Lizzie! You're joking!" He gives me a grin and looks like he has us all figured out...

"Yes, Ted, I am."

With confidence and maybe even a bit of a prideful swagger, as much as can be mustered by his small 5 year old frame, Ted proclaims...

"They really did kill the goat, didn't they!"

***

Happy Birthday Ted!! I'm going to eat chicken salad for lunch- in your honor!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kid-spiration

I think that we can learn a lot of lessons from children- those near us and those we don’t know.

I sing with our music team at church. Today, we sang a song that a lot of our music team members complain about, are tired of, don’t really like much.  I have to admit that it is one of my favorite songs.  It’s called “Undignified” and the message is that I will do whatever I am called to do without being ashamed. I will dance and sing and not be concerned about the people staring at me- in fact, me fully embracing what God is calling me to do may just somehow inspire someone else.

Part of why I love the song- and I wish the congregation could see what I see- is because the kids really demonstrate what the song is all about.  The adults tend to stand there and maybe sing, maybe not.  Maybe clap, most likely not, maybe raise up hands, most likely not.  Certainly never dance or bounce around.  But the kids- oh, the kids!  The jump up and down and dance and wave their arms around! That joy, that love, that free spiritedness… that’s inspiring.

***

There is a boy in our neighborhood who is in a wheelchair.  I don’t know him, I don’t know where he lives, I don’t know his parents.  I saw him for the first time yesterday.  I’d say he’s around 10 years old or so.  Yesterday evening, we went for a walk after dinner. Teagan on her tricycle, Zach in his stroller, Sassy on the leash.  As we approached the end of our street, there is a boy on a bike, riding alongside his friend in the wheelchair.  2 boys, 2 sets of wheels.

Today, I was driving home and saw a boy on the sidewalk.  It looked as though he had taken a spill and was working on getting his bike back upright.  Being a mom, I kept an eye on him in case he was hurt or needed help.  As I got closer and as he righted what I thought was his bike, I realized that he hadn’t been on a bike.  He was righting his friend! The boy in the wheelchair. I don’t know what happened, but as I passed, both boys had huge grins on their faces- even though their belongings were scattered on the sidewalk, even though there had been a fall.  They had each other and as they laughed and grinned and looked at each other, I could only imagine the adventure that had gotten them to that place… that’s inspiring.

***

Teagan made me so proud today.  She asked to come with me to church and she asked to stay for both services, which is normal. She went to Sunday School, greeted people, participated in Small Talk (children’s sermon).  Second service, she goes up for Small Talk and sits next to a girl she knows and likes.  While Pastor Rusty is talking, Teagan drops her quarter and goes to get it.  When she turns around, another girl has taken her carefully selected spot by her friend.  Teagan walks directly up to this girl.  Stands there and stares.  I’m in my seat, waiting to see what will happen.  Seconds that feel like minutes pass.  Slowly, Teagan turns around, holding her head high, shoulders squared.  I can see she is fighting tears and she looks to me, unsure of how to handle the situation. I gesture that she can come to me- she runs and the tears spill.  I hold her.  She rushes out the words, “I went to get my quarter and I turned around and she took my seat and I told her I was sitting there and I wanted her to move and she wouldn’t even look at me or answer me and I wanted to sit by my friend!”  I tell her that there isn’t much we can do about it right now without being rude to Pastor Rusty.  And I tell her that even when it feels like other people are being mean, she can always know that Mommy loves her and Daddy loves her and God loves her and Mimi and Pop-pop and Grandma and lots and lots of other people love her no matter what.  She smiled through her tears and accepted the tissue I offered. She sat with me the rest of Small Talk and then ran to Sunday School- with joy. 

After church, I told her that I was very proud of her.  Because sometimes when it feels like someone is being mean to us, when someone isn’t considering our feelings, it is easy to be mean back and want to hurt them the way we are hurting. But she didn’t do that.  Instead of hitting or kicking or using ugly, mean words to that girl, Teagan chose to walk away. She used her words to express what she wanted and then made a good choice to walk away.  She showed kindness, in her own way, when faced with meanness… that’s inspiring.

***

Saturday, September 19, 2009

1/2 off at Goodwill

What’s better than shopping at Goodwill and finding some great stuff? 

Shopping at Goodwill and finding great stuff at 1/2 the Goodwill price!

Blouses are normally $4 each.  1/2 off… $2!  I just bought 10 tops for $20!

1/2 of my 1/2 off finds aren’t for me.

Here’s my loot…

shirts1

And being the awesome big sister that I am, I snagged this Dayton Flyers t-shirt for my brother- well, for my brother to give to whomever might want it, anyway.  It’d be a little small for him (he’s 6’3” and lanky but also muscle-y).

shirts3

And I kept finding things for Christy!  Each of these tops is “so her” that I couldn’t resist…

shirts2

I probably could have spent a lot more time in there, rooting through all the treasures and household objects and such.  It’s been far too long since I spent a good chunk of time in a Goodwill.  I used to shop there often in college and when I did theatre. It’s the most awesome resource for poor college students to clothe themselves or furnish dorm rooms and apartments.  It’s a great place to find costumes and props for the theatre.  And now that I’m a mom… it’s a great place to shop and save money so that my dollars can end up going to my kids instead!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Crank-ments

I must be getting ready to start my period. Because I am cranky and irritable and down in the dumps. And I don't usually feel this way... except for some of those times of the month, you know... so my Friday Fragments have a theme today... crankitude gone wild!
I almost called in fat to work today. It's Friday so we are allowed to wear jeans. I hate jeans, to be honest. In my entire adult(ish) life, I've only ever found one pair/style of jeans that fit and that was back in high school or college- Old Navy Weekender jeans. And I don't think they even make them anymore and it wouldn't matter if they did because my body has changed so drastically that they wouldn't fit right anyway and I've gained weight over the summer so nothing fits and I just look like a sausage no matter what I put on. *breath* So I'm wearing jeans that don't really fit right. And I couldn't find a shirt to wear to save. my. life. Finally, in a fit of complete frustration... because it was almost time to leave and I am pretty certain that my co-workers prefer to avoid the trauma of seeing me in jeans and a bra... I grabbed one of my fat shirts. It's big, blousy, button up... it's a super plus sized shirt I bought at the end of my first pregnancy because none of my maternity tops were fitting without exposing my baby belly. So, yes, it's big on me. But today- it suits my mood.
Jeff and I have been cranky with each other all week. And I don't know why. I will be coming home, having fun, eager to see him, hug him, laugh with him... and then I'm just irritated, he's cranky and heaving and sighing and mumbling and snippy-snapping and then my good mood is gone and I'm trying to intervene between what I perceive as his bad mood and the kids who are just being kids and I know I shouldn't do that but they don't deserve to have our crankies taken out on them through demands and don'ts and such.
All I want to do is go home, put on jammies, get in bed, and lay there.
Work is stressful this week. Being part of this larger company now has a different level of stress and demands and so on. I'm tired and stressed and feeling less productive most days.
I would like to go and stuff my face with chips and salsa and donuts and soda and ice cream right now. Not all at the same time. I guess.
So if this is all related to my freakin' period getting ready to start... it's going to be a bear. Bad PMS always indicates a really awful cycle for me. So something else to be cheerful and upbeat about!
I am so cranky and ornery feeling that I'm going to really go there... I'm going to post this without proff-reading or spell-checking. Take that! Hi-yah!
Someone send me home now. Please.
OK, fine. Here is something that I cannot be cranky about:

What Do You Like Best?

On our drive from school today, Teagan and I were talking about what she had done that day and what she ate for lunch and what the best parts of her day were. Her regular all day care teacher (Ms Tori) was out sick so Ms Lori covered her class along with Miss Whitney (regular room assistant). I asked Teagan if that was fun and she said it was. Me: What is your favorite thing about Ms. Whitney? T: Um... She draws me turtles! So I can color them in! M: And what about Miss Mindi? T: I like doing centers in her room and now we have journals! I like having a journal like Sid (the Science Kid on PBS) and I draw about things I investigate. M: And what about Miss Lori? T: Oh. Because she lov... I mean, she likes me. M: Oh, I'm pretty sure she loves you, Teagan. And that is ok to say and great to feel! So it got me thinking... what do you like best?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Farewell, Mary Travers

It's funny, I wasn't really aware that she had a last name. Or else I thought her last name "Of Peter Paul and Mary." One of my blog-buddies, Adopting M.E., posted about the passing of Mary Travers. I had tweeted last night about Mary's passing and about some of the immediate song memories that flooded my brain. My first car (that I owned without parental help) was named based on a PPM song- "Puff the Magic Dragon." I was taught by friends that you name your car by turning on the radio when the car first officially becomes yours. Flip to you favorite radio station. Whatever song you hear first contains the name of your car. I got into my Toyota ECHO, flipped to the local oldies channel, and Puff was on. So my little white car was affectionately called Puff for her years of service to me. On my phone right now- on a short list of songs- I have 2 PPM songs. "For Baby" and "Early In The Morning." "For Baby" is Zach's song- I've sung it to him since he was born. When Teagan was a baby, she required a lot of singing to calm her. So I had a list of songs that were "hers" and sometimes that meant singing the entire "10 Years" album by PPM. "Stewball" and "Lemon Tree" were favorites. "Blowin' in the Wind" was a favorite of hers as she got older, as was "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." And I admit that I can still be found belting out "If I Had a Hammer" on a day when I need a pick me up. PPM turned me on to folk music when I was growing up. So this feels like a loss- a personal loss as M.E. said. It's different than just a celebrity dying. It feels like a piece of my childhood that I have passed on is gone. But the beauty of music, of being a musician, is that it lives on and on and on.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gender- My Notes

I took oodles of notes while watching NatGeo's Explorer "Sex, Lies, and Gender." If you missed the show, you will get a lot of info from what I'm posting below. I would pause, rewind, and so on to get the info. I tried to be as accurate as possible! *** We want to believe that gender is binary. That's just not true." sex therapist Dr Tiger Devore He says there are millions who don't fit into those categories- gender variant. There are those whose brains overide their bodies. Some posess male and female sex organs. intersex individuals are far more common than commonly thought- perhaps as high as 1 in 250. Many people born intersex aren't even aware. Story of Rudy Alimez. Soldier. After Gulf War, he suffered a back injury and got an MRI. MRI showed ovaries and an underdeveloped womb. Felt unhuman, dead inside, freak of nature. Not a man, not a woman. Believes he was surgically altered. Parents refuse to discuss his birth. He knows he wasn't born in the hospital but was treated in the hospital. Dr. Devore shared guidelines followed for surgical decisions regarding intersex infants. The idea that gender can be assigned and learned came from John Money. he believed children were gender neutral at birth and were then taught to be male or female by parents reinforcing their gender. It's estimated that 5 intersex surgeries are performed in the US every day. Devore strongly disagrees with gender assignment surgeries. Leads to lack of sensation in genitals, depression, lack of sense of self, sense of mistrust, etc. They lesson is materialistic and plastic- plastic surgery to change appearance, to make them "normal." Devore worked closely with Money. Devore is also intersex. At birth, he was hypospatius (penis like phallus but urinary opening at the base, giving a vaginal appearance). The doctors said they needed to make him into a boy- surgically. He had surgeries through out childhood, damaging him physically and emotionally. Infections, surgeries. He has had more than 20 surgeries in his lifetime. In 2006, the Academy of Pediatrics Journal recommended a more cautious approach to surgery. Rudy Alinez feels betrayed by his parents and mistrust toward the medical community. Feels he was butchered. He tries now to move forward with his life but is working to embrace his female gender identity. She has changed her name and is considering sexual reassignment surgery and feels happier than she's been in a long time. Gender goes beyond our physical bodies- our minds can determine gender identity. Josie. Lives as a girl, has a penis. 7 years old. Had fits as a young child when given boy haircuts, wear a boy uniforms, wear boy swim trunks. Insisted she was a girl. They began to let her be a girl- at home. Life became more peaceful when she was allowed to be a girl. Soon, she began to fight being forced to go as a boy to school. The parents had to make decisions about letting her go out as a girl. Family was living on Air Force base in Japan. When the family began to allow her to go to school as a girl, she was tormented, as was the family. Even with the torment and teasing, Josie continued, over and over and over, to go to school, to go out in public, as Josie, as a girl. It is estimated that 1% (3 million people) are transgendered in the US. Some believe this number is higher. Scientists have been studying the brains of deceased transgendered males and then compared them to the brains of typically gendered men and women. Also studied the genetic structure and found less testerone production. Dad talking about the goals and aspirations he had for his son. He had to mourn the loss of his son. By accepting Josie's gender, they are bucking the advice of many experts. A growing number of mental health professionals believe that acceptance is the way to move forward and develop healthy individuals. Preparing for puberty... adam's apple, testosterone, lowering voice, sperm production. Puberty blocking hormones have been developed. A delay in puberty could provide the time needed to mature emotionally and make permanent decisions about gender when they are more emotionally mature. The family hopes for understanding and acceptance. Devore says that the social structure is built on male/female binary model. Biological truth is that there is a broad range of sex identity between male and female and most people want to do whatever they can to eliminate that. India- male, female, third gender called hedra. Born intrasex, some been castrated, some are anatomically female. All hedra are considered a third gender. Recognition doesn't mean acceptance. Hedra are societally shunned in India but find acceptance amongst their own. Nearly impossible to find housing, a job. They beg from shopkeepers- most shopkeepers comply, preferring a hedra blessing to a hedra curse. Hedra also commonly resort to sex trade. The hedra they highlighted had come to America for college, returned to India and was shunned. Progress has been made in terms of accepting those who are transgendered but more frequently, they are still considered "freaks, adnormal, etc." Biologist Joan Roughgarden has shown that gender variation among humans is natural. She points to plant and animal kingdoms. She has documented that we are surrounded by living beings that are beyond male and female. Talking about all of the animal life forms that are hymaphrodytic. Some start male and become male or start female and become male. In addition, there is a long list of animals that might be considered transgendered. How common is gender variation on the entire? From fungi to plants, insects to mammals... approximately half of all species on earth exist outside the binary male/female gender assignments. Gender variance is normal and natural. Sexual difference is to be celebrated, encouraged, understood. Not something to be eliminated and punished.

Kid-Bits: You Have A Frog Where?

Me: How was school today, Teagan?
T: Great! But Kyle wasn't there (her best buddy).
M: Oh? Where was Kyle today?
T: (sadly) He was home because... (eyes big) he has a REAL FROG in his MOUTH!
M: (suppressing giggles) A frog in his throat? Oh dear!
T: Yeah! A frog!
M: How do you get rid of a frog in your mouth? Do you hold some flies in front of you mouth and wait for him to come out?
T: No, Mom. You have to lay down for a whole day. And then you stick your head back like this (tilts head back so she is looking up at the ceiling). And then the frog jumps out and you come back to school!
M: (laughing)
T: Really!
***
At bedtime...
T: Why is my name Teagan?
M: Well, when you were still inside Mommy's tummy, mommy and daddy spent a lot of time talking about what your name should be. We were trying to decide between 3 different name: Claire, Nyssa, and Teagan. Most every night, we would get ready for bed and when I would lay down, you would start moving all around inside my belly! Then Daddy would read Goodnight Moon to you and do you know what you would do? You would get very still and quiet in there- I think you were listening to the story. One night, Daddy finished reading the book and said "Did you like that story, Claire?" And you stayed very still. "Should I read it again, Nyssa?" And you stayed very still. "I guess it's time to say good night, Teagan!" And do you know what you did? You gave a huge KICK (I kicked my leg up in the air when I said this) and made my tummy look like this (put my hand under my shirt and popped it out like a big baby kick)!!
T: giggle, giggle, giggle! Tell me again!
So I tell her again. But this time, she's the one saying "I stayed very still." We get to the end of the story and she says:
"And I gave a big kick in your tummy!"
And kicks her leg up and FARTS. Loudly! A long one!
This resulted in a complete giggle meltdown between the 2 of us. And the more she giggled, the more she farted, and the more she farted, the more she giggled and the whole thing had me giggling hysterically right along with her. It was like 2 girlfriends, cracking up at the same joke. I loved every second of it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What Is Your Gender?

There's been a lot out there in the media about track and field athlete Caster Semanya and is she female or male and what the testing has declared and what the consequences might be and so on. Gender identity. There is a show airing on the National Geographic channel tonight- an episode of their show "Explorer." It's titled "Sex, Lies, and Gender." I am often fascinated by the role of gender in our society. I have female genitalia and a female reproductive system. Therefore, I am a woman. What does that even mean? What if I was born with a uterus and ovaries and testes? What if I was born with female parts but truly believed I was supposed to be a man? What happens when your body doesn't match your mind? And is it just in your mind? Or is it more than that? Part of your genetic make up that isn't clearly defined? How does masculinity or femininity play into it? I am female but I am really not very feminine. But I'm not masculine either. Here are some facts listed on the NatGeo website about Gender: WHAT IS GENDER? There are boys... and there are girls. For millions of people these basic categories of gender don’t mesh with their reality. Learn more about gender differences around the world with these facts: The word "transgender" refers to a person whose sexuality cannot be defined as male or female, as well as a person who presents themselves as the opposite sex. In 1952, Christine Jorgensen was the first person to undergo a successful sex-change operation. Intersex status is highly valued in Navajo culture, which recognizes three sexes: intersex individuals, males, and females. The major groups of vertebrates include species that are solely female. Anthropologists commonly refer to people in various cultures who exhibit behavioral and aesthetic tendencies of the opposite gender as “two-spirited.” The word “androgyny” is a combination of Greek words for man (andros) and woman (gynaika). Androgyny first emerged in the U.S. among homosexuals during the 1970s and quickly moved into the mainstream by the 1980s. Some icons who defied gender stereotypes include: Annie Lennox, Boy George, David Bowie, and Sinead O’Connor. Studies indicate 74% of transgender youth in America have been sexually harassed at school and 33.2% have attempted suicide. The transgender population in America experiences up to 60% unemployment. Within North Piegan populations, some women who exhibit characteristics typically attributed to men such as aggression are called, “manly-hearts,” though they are physically female. In some places in Africa “woman-marriage” is a practice where two women marry each other and one assumes the cultural status of a man. In Moha, Hungary, there is a ritual called the “chicken kill” in which young men disguised as women travel from house to house. *** Fascinating stuff! Really gets me eager to see the show tonight. I hope you will tune in and share your thoughts. If I don't watch it tonight, I am recording it so I will watch it soon.

BE vs DO

I'm working my way through re-reading The 10 Commitments. Some of them I feel like I've got down pretty well- like Making Messes. Some reading and listening if you are so inclined... From The 10 Commitments... This is the 4th Commitment. The Fourth Commitment I commit to managing my mind first. I realize that how I approach a situation affects the outcome and that I alone control my approach. I attend to and manage my frame of mind before I approach my children. I move UP in my consciousness before I move IN with action. I manage my mind first. Here's a link to a radio bit that Thomas and Chick have done on this subject. Move UP before you move IN. Focus on how you want to BE before you take action what you are going to DO. BE vs Do. This theme has really been sticking with me lately. I've read this chapter a few times in the past couple of weeks. The message has come up at church several times. Opportunities to see the BE vs DO or UP before IN idea have been coming at me nonstop. I made a list of what kind of parent I want to BE. If I am mindful of what kind of parent I want to be, I have a resource to call upon to remind myself of how I want to BE with my children. I also know how I don't want to BE. And my challenge is to make choices that keep me on the path to BEing. I want to BE: Loving Understanding Teaching Fun Silly Engaged Calm By knowing what kind of parent I want to be, I am armed to make better choices in what I DO. It's the foundation. Otherwise, I'm just trying to employ techniques that have no strong basis in anything. Hand in hand with this way of thinking is Parenting From The End First. Knowing the result you want and finding ways to empower your child through choices to get there. Parenting is hard work! It takes effort and time and planning. What I want may have to be set aside for the sake of teaching, growing, raising up the kind of people I want my kids to become. And I knew that when I signed up for this gig! It is HARD to remember it sometimes. When we are rushing out the door and we woke up late and the routine has to be shortened... that is hard on my little people, it's hard on me. But if I take the time to do my parenting best... to focus on how I want to BE... the DOing will happen more easily. Moorman and Haller also focus a lot on seeing problems as perfect. Seeing behaviors as perfect. Writing on the wall, talking back, getting a speeding ticket, missing curfew, having a meltdown... all of those choices made by my child are perfect! Perfect learning opportunities. And if I can train myself to start seeing it that way, it will make a world of difference. So my challenge to myself is to keep in mind how I want to BE, remember the end before I make and offer choices of how to get there, and see the problem as a perfect learning opportunity, a perfect growth opportunity. It's hard to set my self aside. It's hard to realize that I'm, essentially, bullying prior to jumping in like that. It's bathtime "because I say so." Eat your food "because I say so." Things just work better when I focus on BE, END, and PERFECT. *** It's funny... we are quick to blame bad behaviors of our children on our children. We rarely start with ourselves. We read parenting books and employ techniques and rewards and punishments and so on. We wring our hands because nothing is working. We blame ourselves- but we rarely stop what's going on and start where we actually need to start- with ourselves. I discovered that I had a knack for dog training and was very passionate about it. I might have even been able to develop a career had I wanted to... I became obsessed with the TV shows and books and online resources that focused on pet behavior problems. And you want to know the main theme that almost always came up as the baseline problem? The owner! The owner was doing this or that or whatever and that had to change or else the dog would never be able to learn to behave a certain way. The owner's choices were teaching the dog to be scared, to be needy, to be ferocious, etc. Why is it ok to say that to a dog owner but not to a parent? Not to a spouse? Not to a friend? It's not a matter of blame. By why can't we recognize that the choices we make as parents are, essentially, training our children's behaviors? Just a sidebar on self-responsibility... If you are analyzing your role in a situation and the bottom line comes down to you deciding that someone else is to blame... then you are not recognizing your role, your responsibility. An action might be someone else's choosing and that action may have negative consequences for you. But you always have a choice. There is no situation where you don't have some sort of choice- in how you react, in how you proceed, in what you say, in what you write. So how about you? How do you want to BE? Apply it to parenting or marriage or or friendship or co-workers. Have you decided how you want to BE? Have you thought about it and allowed it to influence your actions before you DO?

Monday, September 14, 2009

2009 Fall TV

Jeff and I are TV addicts. We, of course, being addicts, don't see it as a problem. But to those who are cautious about TV, I'm sure we would have fingers pointed at us and insults tossed about behind our backs by those who are holier-than-thou-who-watcheth-too-much-tv. But we like it. So deal. So I'm gonna give a little break down of the shows we are looking forward to checking out, the shows that we are eager to see back again, and so on. We don't schedule our lives around TV. That's what the DVR is for, after all. And most of the list will get dumped within the first few episodes... but it is still fun to at least consider the new fall line up! Monday How I Met Your Mother (CBS, 8:00 EST, 9/21) Big Bang Theory (CBS, 9:30 EST, 9/21) Heroes (NBC, 8:00 EST, 9/21) Quick thoughts: How on earth are they showing Heroes at 8 pm??? That show is pretty violent, adult themed. It's not superheroes for kids. Hm. From what I'm reading, Heroes is on now and Chuck will replace Heroes in the spring. We are also Chuck fans so we will be watching Chuck this spring, I suppose. That's a long time to wait. Tuesday 90210 (CW, 8:00 EST, 9/8) Quick Thoughts: Don't be a hater. I grew up with the 90210 kids and I just can't let them go. Nothing else is really on Tuesdays so this is an evening where we will catch up on shows from Monday. Wednesday GLEE!!!!!!! (Fox, 9:00 EST, 9/9) The Middle (ABC, 8:30 EST, 9/30) Modern Family (ABC, 9:00 EST, 9/23) The Beautiful Life (CW, 9:00 EST, 9/16) Quick Thoughts: I am so insanely head over heels with Glee. I am also eager for the 2 ABC comedies. Anything involving families that feels relatable on any level to me tends to draw me in. Which is probably why I'm not interested in the new Kelsey Grammer show or in Cougartown. Everything we are watching on Weds are new shows. Thursday Flash Forward (ABC, 8:00 EST, 9/24) Survivor (CBS, 8:00 EST, 9/17) The Office (NBC, 9:00 EST, 9/17) Community (NBC, 9:30 EST, 9/17) Quick Thoughts: Very excited to see Joel McHale and Chevy Chase in Community! Flash Forward is intriguing but if it doesn't hook me in the first episode, I won't stick with it. Friday Um... nothing really catching my eye. Maybe that's why it's often a date night on the couch for us? Hello Netflix! Saturday See Friday... date night, catch up on DVR... Sunday AFV (ABC, 7:00 EST, doesn't matter- it's funny no mater how many times you see it) Amazing Race (CBS, 8:00 EST, 9/27) Desperate Housewives (ABC, 9:00 EST, 9/27) Overall random thoughts: This Leno at 10 every night thing blows. I'm so not excited about that and I won't be watching. Waiting for shows to come on in the spring also blows- Chuck, Lost. Where is Wipeout on the schedule?? We tried watching The Vampire Diaries and found it really boring. It seems Ugly Betty is soon to vanish- it's being moved to the death slot of 9:00 on Fridays. I'm curious to check out the V miniseries that ABC is doing (11/3). I don't normally watch House but might watch a little at the start of the season (Fox, 9/21) just because the premise of the season opener is interesting. We also watch Secret Life of the American Teenager on ABCFamily- it comes back in January. We also like Make It or Break It but the only info I can find is that the new season is "coming soon." Hope we don't miss it... So for those who also enjoy a little unwinding in front of the TV... who enjoys the distraction and entertainment of television... what will you be watching?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Need A Weekend Activity?

Pick dandelions

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Run down a hill

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Climb up a hill

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Watch the clouds

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Roll

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Run

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Collect pollen

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Snuggle

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Photos taken at Fishers Heritage Park at White River

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Fragments

It's FRIDAY!! Wahoo!! Time for some Fragments, hosted by Mrs.4444. First- a spider. I HATE SPIDERS. I am generally well known for horror movie style screams and absolute panic attacks when it comes to happening upon a spider- even worse if the spider happens upon me first. Almost had a heart attack when a little spider came scurrying up my pregnant-Teagan-containing belly years ago... but since having kids, Jeff and I both have made great efforts and strides to not pass this fear on to our kids. Which means a lot more spiders get to live because we tend to ignore them now. This weekend, the kids were playing on the deck and Teagan announces that there is a spider. Thinking she really means a leaf or piece of fuzz, we ask for a description. Her response is that it is yellow and orange and green. Riiiight. So it must be a made up spider, right? Nope. Check it out. I actually liked this little guy. It was a huge challenge to get a good picture of him (I want one of those cool lenses for my Nikon D40 so I can take serious insect close ups). I actually got my best shot with my camera phone! Anyway- it was all well and good until I did some online research to learn about multi-colored spiders. Maybe it's a gay pride spider? Who knows? Best I could find was it's an orb something-or-other. I didn't learn much more than that because the pics began to eek me out- to the point that I had to try and outrun the tickly-itchies all the way down the hallway. Second- Jump. A series about puddles and toes.
Third- GLEE GLEE GLEE GLEE GLEE!!!! It was AWESOME! Did you watch? Huh? Didja?
Fourth- I have had more coffee this morning than I've had most of the week. Just 2 cups. But yesterday I had a Mocha Joe and no hot coffee. Weds was crap day at work and I never even drank a whole cup. Tues I was at home and never had any coffee... so I am BUZZED right now!
Fifth- And it's a darn good thing I've got this serious caffeine buzz working because my work day started with a big old government contract review summation that was a brain twister.
Sixth- Did you know that Smithsonian Museum Day is coming up? Don't miss it!!! We plan to enjoy a free day at the living history museum up the street- and this year, I really want to get a membership so we can go more often. I had intended to at the start of the summer but things were so hectic every weekend that we wouldn't have enjoyed it much anyway. One of my first ever blog posts was about our trip to Conner Prairie on Museum Day!
Seventh- Happy Birthday to my Mommy!!! I won't tell you how old she is... that would be rude... but my next Fragment will give it away... My mom, dad, and brothers are coming to spend the day with us tomorrow- it's what my mom requested. My dad spends very little time with my kids. Getting him to my house is a chore. But it is the best way to force him into a situation where he can't escape being around the family. It isn't that he doesn't love us- he does- a lot. I just don't think he knows how to be a grandpa and hasn't taken the initiative to figure it out.
Eighth- It's been 8 years since 9/11. Where were you? I had taken the day off work and was driving to Cincinnati. I was taking my mom shopping and out to lunch- just the 2 of us. I was bopping along to a local pop station when the news broke in... and I thought it was a tasteless joke on the part of the DJ. So I switched to NPR... and it was true. I was halfway to Cincinnati and couldn't see, could only hear what was being reported. I think I ended up listening to Charles Gibson and Tom Brokaw through out that drive. We watched TV when I got to the house... and then made an attempt at celebrating mom's 50th birthday as planned. Got to the mall and after 20 minutes, they closed all shops, closed the mall. Not much else we could do. It was hard to celebrate a milestone birthday while scared and sad and angry at all that was happening in NYC and DC.
Ninth- Teagan and I had a date last night- which means Jeff and Zach had their own special time together. Church is about a block away from preschool. I parked at church, walked to her school, we walked to the Subway around the corner, had dinner, and then walked to church together for Music Team. So I had special time with my favorite girl and then got to fill my heart and soul with praise and music and laughter and friendship. My friend Ashli is the one who really got me into Music Team and I am so thankful to her for it! I don't know how long I would have waited if she hadn't taken the initiative and spilled the beans to our Pastor. But Music Team has become something I need. My week is better when I get that time with my church family. My worship experience is better when I am participating and serving. So hopefully Teagan keeps up her good bedtime choices so we can keep doing Music Team dates on Thursdays!
Tenth- Final Fragment! Are you watching The Guild? Do you know about it? If you don't, you need to!!! I discovered it this weekend- all thanks to my gaming husband. I'd heard mention here and there about The Guild. Jim had told me to check it out. Jeff sent me a link to "Do You Want To Date My Avatar?" From that link, you can watch Season 1. Or you can go to The Guild's website and watch all of Season 1 and Season 2 like I did this weekend!! If you enjoyed Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, you will enjoy The Guild. If you are a gamer or know any gamers... you will enjoy The Guild. If you have a sense of humor about socially awkward nerdy types... you will enjoy the Guild! So go watch it!
Eleventh- OK, a PS Fragment... I am married to a nerdy, comic book loving, computer geek man. And I support his nerdy interests to the best of my ability. Case in point... I buy superhero t-shirts for Zach all the time. He is well versed in Spiderman and The Hulk, in particular. Teagan goes on dates with Daddy to the comic shop and Zach will soon begin going along with them. The struggle? Finding little girl superhero shirts!! I hit up a sale at Old Navy yesterday- 50% off red tagged in store items- and was stocking up on summer clothes for next year when I happened upon a collection of kids classic t shirts. I found a pink and sparkly Spiderman shirt for Teagan! She's wearing it today but I haven't gotten a pic yet... she was so excited to get a Spiderman shirt of her very own! Uncle Jim, since you work for Marvel... spread the word... little girls love the things their daddies love and that means COMICS. We need more little girl superhero gear, please!
Have a great weekend!!