Friday, June 30

Letter to 9-1-1 Recipients

Dear Residents of My Husband's Emergency District:

I'm the wife of Hero Guy, the nice man who comes to all your emergencies that you call in to the 911 system. I'm the one who holds down the fort while Hero Guy responds to all your calls for help. There are a few things I'd like to explain to you so that my life can be a little smoother while I lend my husband out to assist you in various ways.

First of all, Hero Guy has a full-time, paid job, that requires approximately 50-60 hours a week. It is not running on the ambulance or fire truck that pays the bills. He does that as a hobby, for free. When you call, Hero Guy drops what he does, whether it is conducting a meeting, having dinner with his family or even jumping in the shower to see what you need. He loves doing it, and I wholeheartedly support him. But you can imagine my chagrin when I learn that he had to stand me up on our monthly date night because you've had the sniffles for a week, and you'd rather hitch a ride in the ambulance to visit the ER than see your doctor during work hours. Worse is when during the flooding, like today, a couple of you Yahoos decided to go white water rafting in your canoe and you got swept away. Then the father of my kids had to put his life at risk to rescue your hide. That really burns me up. And Grandma Moses, I know you are so lonely since you are 87 and living alone. But I would much rather arrange for somebody to drop in and visit you during the daytime than for you to call 911 and fake having chest pains so that cute medic has to interrupt saying bedtime prayers with his little ones to come over and chat a while. While he is keeping you company, your neighbor may be having a real heart attack, and Hero Guy won't be able to save their life because he is curing your loneliness.

As for you teenagers who drive down my rural road going 85 in a 55 zone after partying, not only do you keep taking out my mailbox, but you put my kids at risk while they are playing in the front yard in which you crash. Besides that, you keep my husband up half the night cutting your car apart to get you out and then he gets to go to his real job the next morning. And none of the rest of the family can sleep, because my house is Grand Central Station for the emergency workers and police who are taking down your information and finding you are underage and shouldn't have been drinking anyway.

Don't get me wrong. There are lots of legitimate inconveniences I gladly put up with. I never complain when Hero Guy brings his bloodstained clothes home for me to wash, even though you could be infected with HIV or hepatitis. I do not begrudge his time away from us for a child who has been burned or a farmer who has had their tractor overturn on them. And I would never be upset when he has to stay out for days on end diving for people and their pets who have been flooded out of their homes. I'm just asking that you show some respect and courtesy and don't assume Hero Guy has nothing better to do. Or that you are doing him a favor by giving him an adrenaline rush by calling in for help when you don't really need it. It is a true sacrifice, not just for Hero Guy, but for his whole family- especially his kids- when he is taking care of you.

By all means, call if your smoke alarm goes off or if you are bleeding and shouldn't drive yourself to the hospital. But don't call for coughing that has lasted for a week or I might have to hurt you. And then, you can legitimately call for Hero Guy to bring you an ice pack to ease the throb on top of your head where I bopped you one.

Hero Guy's very patient wife

PS--The picture is of one of your accidents that occurred in my front yard this March. It took me half the day to clean up the mess in the front yard and my kitchen and living room where we took care of your bumps and bruises. I'm glad you weren't seriously hurt, but you were going way too fast for the snow conditions and my kids were out sledding in the front yard when you took out my mailbox and pine tree close to where they were playing. They are a bit upset that I won't let them sled there anymore, but that's okay because safety comes first.

Thursday, June 29

We're Baaaa-aaack!

In one way, the adventure is over, but in another, it has only begun. The Girl Scout trip to the amusement park was dandy, other than the constant rain making us ride roller coasters looking like we'd just stepped out of the shower without a towel. The trip itself was fairly uneventful with the most effort being dispensed trying to keep five 8-year-old personalities in harmony. From time to time, each of the Scouts played the part of the popular one, the spoiled one, the pouty one, the tired one, the hungry one, the grouchy know how us girls can be. But all in all, everybody had a great time, the amusement park lived up to everything it was supposed to be and I didn't even have to use any of the camping equipment I bilked out of Hero Guy. The campers we stayed in had full electricity, running water and even showers/toilets--so I was more than comfortable. A phone call from Hero Guy revealed that he, Brainy Boy and friend had decided to abort their own camping trip a day early since tent camping in a monsoon isn't nearly as dry as camper camping in the same conditions. It seems that the fishing isn't so great in that weather either, so they packed up and headed home in time to have a real adventure.

My own fun began the morning we left. I spiffed up my camper (we had two), loaded the van and began to pull out, only to find that my right rear van wheel was totally frozen. A helpless call to Hero Guy revealed that our hometown was experiencing massive flooding because of heavy rain on the east coast and he was inaccessible to an 'SOS' call from me. 45 minutes, lots of frustration and a few helpful maintenance guys from the campgrounds later, I finally rocked and rolled my frozen brake loose. Apparently the rainwater from the drive up, combined with 2 days of sitting still, caused my emergency brake to seize and freeze the tire.

We spent the morning back at the amusement park with frantic calls from home revealing that we needed to head home in order to get into town before all the roads leading in were closed due to flooding. We hit the road, stopping for a quick bite to eat, all the while getting new updates about which routes were open and which were closed. Luckily, Hero Guy is on a first-name basis with the dispatch crew from 911, so he navigated us through the back roads with real-time info on a clear path to home.

We got home to find Brainy Boy with a babysitter for the last 10 hours, bright sunny conditions, but with flooded roads everywhere. The bank, the grocery store and even the gas station parking lots were under water and pretty much all businesses had been closed for the day. Brainy Boy was in high spirits because of the unlimited XBOX time with no parental supervision, Hero Guy was shouting with adrenaline every time he called home to report and I, on my own, began unpacking and doing laundry while catching up on as much news as Brainy Boy could impart.

Ironically, the week could have been a bust, but it seemed more of a thrill the way it turned out, disasters and all. I am happy to be home, calmly taking care of my own 2 kids instead of supervising 4 of somebody else's and am thankful that my own little cabin on the hill is dry and safe.

Sunday, June 25

What's Mine is Mine and What's Yours is Mine

The tug 'O war began as soon as Hero Guy and I each started selecting supplies for our respective camping trips. I am going with 6 Girl Scouts and 4 moms (including Mwah) and he is going with Brainy Boy, BB's friend and himself. Let's guess who needs more equipment? Hmmmm, somehow the pile that is going with the boys is a whole lot higher than the one going with the girls. It was not for lack of trying.

I sneaked into the garage, started smuggling gear into my bag when Hero Guy began suspecting that some necessities were missing. He started with looking for the cooler--the huge, extreme cooler that is like, 70 gallons or so. I figured that since we had 2, he could have one, I could have one. Not according to him. His argument is that since the camper the Girl Scouts will be using has a refrigerator, it is only fair that I let him take both. He sees no point to the argument that the 'refrigerator' is actually a shoebox-sized cooler that holds a 6-pack of soda and that's about it. I took pity on him and accepted the two small, beat-up, ancient coolers that were buried in the dark caves of our basement.

Such was the case with the butane lighters, the tarps, the condiments for our food, the lanterns, the clothesline, the...well, you get the point. Let's just say that after spending approximately $300 at Walmart for double camping accessories (I believe camping is generally considered a cheap way to vacation), we'll have enough odds & ends to supply the entire campground with anything they've forgotten.

Being that packrat that I am NOT, I am going to have to resist throwing out the extras when we're done and opt instead for packing them away for the next time I need them. I cannot stand to have lots of supplies that I have to dig for, but I prefer to just go to the store and restock each time I need it. It will be an exercise in organization and purge control, I'm sure.

Saturday, June 24

Bloggin' Party

I'm in the Carnival again, so check it out at Blogging Chicks here!

Double Trouble

I am chaperoning Little Chic's Brownie troop on a camping trip to an amusement park on Monday. Hero Guy has to take off work to stay with Brainy Boy, so they have decided to go on their own camping adventure. The problem is, that being of the female gender, I can't seem to keep my hands out of their arrangements, and I'm finding myself frantically preparing for not just my own, but also their trip. Mine is pretty cut-and-dried with supplies evenly distributed between all the moms going. My list is short: Bring a variety of fruit and a load of paper products. At Walmart yesterday, my cart told the truth...the boys would never make it without my help. I was loaded with lanterns, pancake mix, cereals, lunch meats, hamburger and sausage, and $170 worth of stuff that was not for the Girl Scouts.

Then began the real task--preparing their food. Chicken had to be cut and marinaded, hamburger had to be seasoned and formed into patties, sausages pre-cooked, the list of meals made....and I ask mysef "Self, why are you doing this?" I come up with a variety of answers among which are 'to be sweet' or possibly 'to help Hero Guy because he's been incredibly busy at work' or maybe even 'because if I don't do it, it won't get done.'

I suspect none of those are the full truth, because Hero Guy, being the engineer that he is, does not improvise. He uses all proper tools, techniques and methods for everything, all the time. So if I don't pitch in, it will get done, and with much less stress on me. It's probably not just to be nice either, because when I've got a list a mile long, Hero Guy is very accommodating and doesn't expect me to start on his list along with mine. I'm sure it has more to do with my need to control things, my not wanting to admit that the world really does thrive even without me in the middle of it.

I will say this though. While Little Chic and I are eating our Fluffernutters and hot dogs, the boy campers will be feasting on Italian sausage and pasta salad and they better be thinking about ME while they enjoy it!

Thursday, June 22

Gourmet Tastebuds Looking for Chef

Brainy Boy is every good cook's dream. He will eat anything as long as it smells like food and he can't identify it. Routinely when I set dinner before him, he comments something like 'Mom, I just really prefer gourmet restaurant-type food." And he's not kidding. No PJB for him, no Chef Boyardee, no Easy Mac. He's all about shrimp scampi, homemade gnocchi (not frozen) and is dying to know what caviar tastes like. The problem is that I'm a functional meat & potatoes kind of cook. I'd love to be a throw-ingredients-together-to-make-an-awesome-dish girl, but I'm just not. I don't really know how to cook without burying my head in a cookbook, and I don't enjoy the whole process of putting it together either--kind of the same way I am with gardening.

I came up with the clever idea of letting Brainy Boy choose a meal a week that I would try, his choice. I pulled out my handy Kraft magazine that comes in the mail four times a year, and opened to the beautiful photos of finished dishes. I told Brainy Boy that it was his job to choose something for me to try, and on his night, he was to eat it with no complaining. He did that and I wrote down the corresponding ingredients and bought them. I had to do a little advance planning because Little Chic is absolutely on the opposite end of the spectrum in the food arena. PBJ is fine for her, she'll accept any type of hot dog and pasta with jarred sauce is about as gourmet as she'll get.

The menu of choice for tonight was 'Chicken Mushroom foil packets'. Basically it was prepared stuffing with chicken, ham, mushrooms, peas and mushroom soup layered and wrapped up in a foil packet and baked. Brainy Boy's and mine went according to the recipe, Little Chic and Hero Guy had the stuffing, chicken, ham and soup. You'd have thought I delivered a pot of gold to Brainy Boy and a rotten tomato to Little Chic. He devoured his dinner, proclaiming it 'phenomenal' several times over. Little Chic turned up her nose, explained that gourmet food isn't really down her alley, but asked since we were having a fancy dinner, did I have something a little more special to pour her grape soda into? I told her that although she had to eat her dinner, it was fine for her to use one of our fancy glasses to drink from.

She climbed to the top cabinet and took out a wine glass that we use on New Year's Eve to drink sparkling cider with the kids. She poured her grape soda inside and began to ask:

LC: "Why do they use big wine glasses and only pour a little wine in?"
ME: "I don't know. Maybe because they like having more chances to pour it out of the bottle."
LC: "Does it look like I'm really drinking wine?"
ME: "No, wine is redder, grape soda is more purple."
LC: "Can I get out the red food coloring?"
ME: "No."
LC: "Why?"
ME: "Because it will turn your poop a weird color."
LC: "I don't mind having weird-colored poop."
ME: "Drink your soda."

She began to sip, with pinky outstretched as far as it would go, and repeatedly poured teeny bits of soda into the glass after she drained it. The whole exchange struck me a bit, since Hero Guy and I are pretty much teetotallers but I humored her as she wondered if she should hold the glass by the cup or the stem.

I'm thinking I can handle this new arrangement though. I'll let Brainy Boy pick out a variety of new dishes to make him think he's eating gourmet and I'll be able to work on the table manners at the same time. I'm considering going to a hypnotist to reprogram my brain into donning a relaxed, enjoyable attitude every time I get out the paring knife. I'll probably need the zoning out because if he can arrange it, Brainy Boy will have us eating sushi and caviar in no time.

Tuesday, June 20

Adventures Up High

Well, I took the Beast for my first drive today, and I must say, I'm feeling quite macho. This is a vehicle whose door base hangs at about waist-level for me. Before today, in order to get in, I had to literally raise my knee up to my chest to place it on the floorboard, and hoist myself up into the truck. Picture that pretty scene on date night. Yeah, Baby!

Hero Guy had an emergency urge to get the Class 4 tow hitch and the factory mud flaps immediately. He dispatched me as he wasn't able to escape from work himself, and for a rare afternoon, the Beast was already parked in our driveway (Hero Guy is running the medic vehicle this week). Sitting in the seat, overlooking the tops of every other vehicle on the road, I had a feeling of power, authority, brawn. I will admit that it was with an embarrassed flush that I entered Cole Muffler and the Ford dealership to load up the coveted accessories, as Hero Guy had been stalking the office staff of both establishments since the merchandise was on backorder. My friendly smile and profuse thanks made them look at me with pity for living with such an enthusiastic customer.

I then hauled all 3/4-ton of the truck over to the Christian Bookstore where I got two immense boxes of Vacation Bible School (VBS) material for our church. The bookstore manager said he hoped I had help unloading the boxes as they were 'very large'. When I got to the church to unload my deliveries, nary a soul was within sight and I had no time to piddle looking for muscle. I opened the hatch and heaved both boxes (okay, one at a time) out of the truck and carried them inside the church without even setting them down to rest once~!

After I got back in the truck, I realized why Hero Guy has been driving pickup trucks for his last four vehicles. He firmly denies that there is any chance that he will ever again drive anything other than a pickup truck, and the bigger the better. I understand it now. It makes a manly-man out of you. You can do anything when in the driver's seat of a truck such as this. Now if I can just keep extra hair from growing on my chin, I might take it for a spin once in a while.

Anything for a Buck

I heard on the morning news today that Jenny Craig has been bought out by none other than a company known for its chocolate, Nestle'. Now I tend to be a bit obessessive about health and fitness and for all the planning, analyzing and watching I do, I should be skinny as a rail, but I'm not. I read health magazines, put exercise plans together, log my calories and even work out pretty regularly, but I also love chocolate and other junk which drags on my progress toward my fitness goals. I figure that I'd be in really bad shape if I didn't work out since I sometimes go overboard on the input end of the calculation (you know, calories in - calories burned = energy stored or energy depleted, whichever the case may be). So I keep at it. My calories IN tend to tip the scales a bit too often for my liking, but my ability to carry out my best-laid plans succumb to the products marketed by Nestle' and others, more often than not.

I for one, would not give them the satisfaction of paying them to get me bigger only to pay them again for helping me get smaller. I'll do it on my own, thank you very much. I'll continue on my quest to athletic perfection and use resources that are sincere in trying to get me there (like the ones who sell the perfect diet bar, energy drink, protein powder--you know the ones!) But when I get to my water break on my 4 mile run, have one of those Nestle' Crunch bars ready for me, will ya?

Sunday, June 18

The Joy of Life in Small Town America

When people hear "New York", they think, City. That's not even close to the true picture of life in most of the state. I've outlined below some of the more accurate descriptions of living a place that isn't even considered a suburb. It's downright, truth-be-told, pretty much the boonies. If you've never experienced living in a small town, here's a bit of what it's like...

1a) We have festivals, parades and celebrations for every reason imaginable. This past weekend, it was the Strawberry Festival.
1b) There are 2 grocery stores in town and one of them is totally inaccessible from 8am to 5pm because the streets are blocked off for the current festival.

2a) You can eat top-notch surf & turf (lobster tail/filet mignon) along with the side dishes, for $19.99 on Saturday night.
2b) You need to bring your cash because they don't accept credit cards (although they do have an ATM in the lobby).

3a) If you leave your purse & wallet in your unlocked van out in the driveway, everything will still be there in the morning.
3b) If you lock your keys in the house or car, it'll be faster to call the locksmith from your cell phone than to hike to your neighbor's for help. Oh, wait...we're in the country here. There is no cell phone service until you get into town, so forget that. Hopefully you wore your hiking shoes.

4a) Your neighbor never lets their dog poop on your lawn when he takes it for a walk, because we don't have to walk our dogs--they go outside on their own.
4b) You might step in poop on your lawn but it's probably not dog poop. It's most likely deer droppings, raccoon scat or woodchuck (groundhog) waste. If you're lucky enough, it might even be bear dung.

5a) You don't have to wait for very many traffic lights.
5b) You do have to wait for deer crossing the road, sometimes ducks or chickens, and occasionally even cows insisting on the right of way.

6a) There is exactly ONE Starbucks within four or five counties and it is approximately 10 miles from my house.
6b) The local Dunkin Donuts guy knows just how his customers like their coffee.

7a) If your car doesn't move in your driveway for a day or two, at least one neighbor will call and say they were passing by your house and just wanted to make sure everything is okay.
7b) If you get busy and don't mow your lawn for a week, the same neighbor might show up and do it for you just to be nice.

8a) When you run to the drug store, you'd better make sure you look decent. You will never make a trip without running into at least one person you know.
8b) The same goes for the grocery store, the doctor's office, the post office, the library, the nail salon, the hair sylist, etc.

9a) Small towns are primo for finding volunteer opportunities. You can volunteer to be a firefighter, an EMT, a water rescue diver, a HAZMAT technician, a SWAT team medic, an animal rehabilitator or pretty much anything else that suits your fancy. You'll also get all the required training that goes along with the job, for free.
9b) You'll have every friend of a friend asking you to check their blood pressure, come smell their furnace for dangerous fumes or take a peek at their pet, also for free.

10a) You can look out in the back yard and see two dozen deer eating the wild apples growing from the trees or the same number of wild turkeys pecking your field for corn in the fall.
10b) You can also clearly whiff the fertilizer (i.e., cow doo-doo) on the neighbor's corn field just down the road from your house and hear their rooster crowing at the crack of dawn even on the weekends.

Small towns offer a totally different environment from the ruckus and noise of the city. I've always been a city girl myself, loving the hustle & bustle, the constant activity that goes along with the buildings and street lights. But the longer I live in a rural area, I appreciate the serenity and security it offers my family. There's nothing like having a peaceful, safe feeling when I fall asleep at night, knowing my kids are being raised in the environment that's best for them.

Happy Dad's Day

Since I've posted before on the dad-ish qualities of Hero Guy here and here , I'll provide a little synopsis of some of the outstanding qualities I've inherited from my own Dad.

BOOKS: My dad passed on to me an insatiable love of learning, especially through reading books. I actually like to just have books around and I've bought lots of books I haven't even read yet. I generally have 3-4 books going at once and like him, I read primarily non-fiction books from inspirational, biographies, self-development, instructional and on and on. If you want to know anything, I'll find it out for you generally by scouring the web looking for facts on anything from the first line of a song to the benefits and drawbacks to a subtalar implant (my latest research from last night). My own kids would beg to visit Barnes & Noble long before they ever knew about Toys R Us.

SOFT SPOT FOR THE UNDERDOG: As long as I can remember, my dad has been on the lookout for ways to help the less fortunate. It was a regular occurrence to have some lonely soul sitting at our dinner table or walking away with a few extra dollars tucked in his shirt pocket or even bunking on the floor for a night out of the cold. I find myself, in the same fashion, buying ice cream for the sad kid sitting alone at the lunch table at my kids school, bringing an extra Halloween costume to the school parade in case somebody couldn't afford one and scolding the bullies at the playground for picking on the little kid who is trying to build a sand castle.

HUNGER FOR GOD's WORD: This kind of refers to the book and learning thing, but it's more than that. I've always seen my Dad spending time reading the Bible and I have made it a daily habit for myself as well. As a parent, I've come to realize that every answer for life, from how to resolve an argument with Hero Guy to what to do about Brainy Boy needing foot surgery, resides in seeking the truth that can only be found in the Bible. It's the Light that guides me down the path of life and I'm passing that habit on to my kids as well with their quiet time with God each day.

ANALYTICAL MIND: This tends to be more of a male quality in general terms, but I am more of an objective, analytical sort than an emotional decision maker. I count among my favorite books The Birth Order Book because it lets me practice one of my favorite applications - analyzing people and their behavior. I do tend to analyze everything from results of tests to information that I've gathered in various places to the way I react when my kids are driving me to the dark side.

APPRECIATION FOR THE FINER THINGS IN LIFE: My Dad has always been a quality rather than a quantity type of guy. Waiting for the sale at Macy's for the Liz, Anne Taylor and other high-end clothing was more important than running to the closest Fashion Bug to scarf up multiple colors of the same shirt. As a result, I have always gotten a bit of a thrill when I score a great bargain on an item that would otherwise be out of my price range.

PENCHANT FOR CHUNKY ICE CREAM: Well, ice cream in general, but especially flavors with chunks of nuts, chocolate pieces or other stuff that goes 'crunch'. We're not your average chocolate or vanilla type people, that's for sure. And the cheaper stuff won't do, either. Only Breyers and above are suited to these taste buds.

So that's my Dad, and that's me....So there ya go.

Saturday, June 17

So much to post, so little time...

JenLo has been BUSY!. I have lots to say without enough time to say it. Once I start catching up, I'm sure you'll want me to shut up. Until I do, read some of the entries at this week's Blogging Chicks Carnival if you get the whim.

Friday, June 16

Who Coins the Phrase?

Whoever coined the phrase "stay-at-home mom" obviously didn't have one. Although I do medical transcription at home part-time, I do consider myself a stay-at-home parent since I can do my transcription whenever I want within the 24-hour day. However, since my schedule is flexible, everybody figures that I have so much more available time than any of the moms with paid-employment, and therefore all my stay-at-home time gets eaten up by away-from-home activities. Sometimes I think I would actually get to be at home more often if I took an office job and could use the excuse that I was too busy with work to do everybody else's extras. I don't complain though--I've made financial choices in order to be able to quit full-time work and I am doing what I need to be and want to be doing right now. I can say though, instead of working the typical 8-hour shift and then coming home and being done with work, I get up at 7am and crash around 11pm, just after the last transcription file is uploaded.

Some of the stay-at-home activities I've participated in since Monday were:
1) Got a mammogram at 8:45am because after all, I am a stay-at-home mom so my schedule can be flexible.
2) Took a home-cooked meal to a cancer patient at our church because I stay at home, and don't need to run through the drive-through to pick up dinner.
3) Chaperoned 50 4th graders on their 1-mile walk to the ice cream shop at 12:20pm because I don't have to leave work to help out.
4) Went on an all-day trip to the state capital with 100 4th-graders because I don't have to take a day off work to go.
5) Volunteered to help a 100-kid 3rd grade class picnic all day because I don't have to take a day off work to attend.
6) Took a kid to a podiatrist appointment where I found out he has to have foot surgery and didn't have to ask for time off to do it.

This was not an unusual week, other than the class trip/picnic which are usually filled in with other school activities that need my help or emergencies that come up like sick kids, household errands and other such that everybody has to juggle. My point is that whatever amount of time is available gets filled up with doing important things and working in a job with set hours would not let me caretake for my family the way I want. It would bring more money for sure, but I'd either be sending my kids along on these activites with somebody else or putting myself over the brink trying to do everything and not being able to do everything well.

All my busyness this week made me think about a post I've been reading on the "Mommy Wars" where people banter back and forth on the virtues of staying at home versus returning to work. I have no urge to enter the banter because I think people get defensive when they are questioning their own choices. I am firm and sure of my work status because my choice supports the values I believe in; I don't have the need to convince other people to see things my way so that I'll feel okay about it. I have many friends who stay at home and just as many that have returned to work. We are each friends because of the type of people that we are and whether we work or not has nothing to do with it. I think the only war part is the internal one where people do things that they aren't sure are good for their families and they try to convince themselves and others that it's really okay. That conflict can occur when staying at home even though you need to work to help support your family or choosing to work simply to afford yourself a luxurious lifestyle at the expense of your little ones.

For not being one to enter into the 'mommy war', I've certainly said my piece. "And that's all I have to say about that." Forrest Gump

Wednesday, June 14

PJ Day

It seems Brainy Boy has reached a new stop on his way to growing up--the one where kids begin worrying about what other people think of them. This is an unusual characteristic for Brainy Boy as thus far, his world has revolved around himself, and he doesn't take much notice of others unless they are invading his space. He doesn't give a bit of care to how his hair looks, what he is wearing, if his face is dirty, if he goes 5 days without a bath and all the other things that are typical of a pre-adolescent.

In this awkward in-between stage, he still tends to be a kid who likes silliness, goofing off and making others laugh. Today, however, it became clear that there are categories of silliness: The acceptable and the unacceptable. The acceptable sort of silly behaviors would include running around our front yard with his light sword yelling at his invisible men to 'attack!'; arranging complicated army games at recess with his buddies; dressing up his favorite beany bear in GI Joe clothes; making weird faces to the camera just in time for us to snap a picture; watching the goofiest of the goofy cartoons and such. The unacceptable category includes pretending there is a Santa Claus; pretending there is an Easter Bunny; pretending there is a Tooth Fairy; dressing up at Halloween; and apparently, participating in Pajama Day at school.

I didn't realize there was going to be a problem because several times this week, Brainy Boy has commented that we have to remember that Wednesday is Pajama Day at school. Silly me assumed this meant he was looking forward to pulling out a pair of rarely-used pajamas and joining the other kids at school in bedtime clothes. I actually forgot about it this morning and set out a pair of shorts with matching shirt for him to wear, but he reminded me that it was Pajama Day. So I opened the drawer, peered inside, and suggested that he wear one of his dad's oversized T-shirts (his normal bedtime uniform) with a pair of shorts. "No, we're not allowed to wear gowns" was the reply. It did no good to explain that a nightgown was the dress-type thing that his sister wears to bed. I proceeded to choose a pair of camouflaged lounge pants with coordinating black shirt, eliciting a vehement protest that they 'looked stupid.' He dove in and pulled out flannel pajama bottoms that used to fit, but are now basically capri-length. I told him that if he thought the camo set looked stupid, he would be very surprised to hear what the kids would have to say about the 4 sizes-too-short flannels that he was choosing.

What ensued for the next 15 minutes was gut-wrenching indecision (a quality that I don't tolerate well). Would he risk humiliation and wear PJs or would he rather stick out like a sore thumb and wear street clothes? (his words, not mine). He put the PJs on. He took the PJs off. He started to put the street clothes on, and I warned that if the street clothes were put on, they were staying on, and that PJ Day was meant to be fun, not upsetting and that he needed to relax--not take life so seriously. This met with a serious scowl and he put the PJs back on.

I came up with the brilliant idea to tuck the street clothes into his backpack in case he regretted wearing the PJs to school. As soon as we got in the van to leave, he asked 'Can I just change into my regular clothes right here in the van'? I didn't let him, but told him to assess the crowd at school before he made his decision. Luckily, as soon as we pulled up to the door, his best bud, The Mammoth(the 10-year-old who is the size of a full-grown man) showed up at our van door with men's size large Batman PJs with a big smile on his face. "Mammoth, tell Brainy Boy how cool he looks in his camo PJs". Mammoth looked at me with raised eyebrows, a little smirk on his face. "Brainy Boy, look, Mammoth is having a great time with PJ Day. Be a good sport and go in to school with a good attitude."

I left him at the door, seemingly having forgotten about the prospect of humiliation and the question I had for the rest of the morning was, in what clothes he would return home. Six hours later, the door burst open and in came Pajama Boy. He said he went to the bathroom once to change and that he decided it was just too much of a bother. I asked if anybody else had funny pajamas and he said that Mean-Girl had PJs with really weird sheep on them, so he didn't feel so bad. I have a feeling it only gets worse from here! I should be used to it by now because Little Chic has been this way for a while, but so far, she's much more easily swayed than Brainy Boy.

Tuesday, June 13

The Small Stuff is Not for Sweating

Those who know me personally realize that I am a very analytical person. Whenever I take personality tests, I tend to test out as more of a male personality type than female. Meyers-Briggs says I am an ISTJ which means I tend to be more (I)introverted than extroverted, generally (S)sensing rather than intuitive, a (T)thinker rather than a feeler and more (J)judging than perceiving.

For this reason, I tend to analyze myself and others to death, and have an insatiable interest in psychology, the human mind and why people act the way we do. It tends to be pretty convenient as I have a full-time case study with myself, but you'd think this would help me to have the world figured completely out by now--not so. I suppose it will be my lifetime hobby to sort out why we are all the way we are, and once I have the answer and am ready to share, I'll be so old I'll croak and mankind will remain in the dark.

I revealed a bit of this analysis of myself yesterday when I talked about confessing my shortcomings. I've sort of revised my theory on why I scurry to correct shortcomings that I've either admitted or that have been observed by others. I think that I tend to be a perfectionist, but like most with this obsessive trait, I fear failure or not measuring up. Of course it is easier to admit failure if you don't even try--forbid trying something and not doing it well. Dr. Kevin Lehman describes not trying something just because you can't do it perfectly as a 'frustrated perfectionist'.

I think I'm a little bit different than that. I think I fein not being good at things in order to lower mine and others' expectations -- but when it comes time to perform, I drive myself crazy trying to do things as meticulously as possible. Then wah-lah, I get comments like "I thought you said your house was messy. I thought you said you don't know how to cook. I thought you said you don't know how to plant things." Of course, this comes in handy for the times that I do burn something on the stove or when I do have dirty laundry all over the bathroom floor or when I spend too much time taking my kids to the park and my plants get weeded over--nobody (including myself) expected any different. Then it's a pleasant surprise when things are cleaned up and done to perfection.

The negative side of all this is that it takes a toll on your psyche and causes you to believe the things you say about yourself. I certainly do have things I realize I am very good at and I readily admit those--I am a great transcriptionist, I am very reliable, I'm supportive of my husband, etc. But these are things that are subjective or things that you would have to take my word about without any definitive proof. When it comes to visible things where others can measure me against themselves, my confidence wavers and I feel like I need a disclaimer of some sort, just in case I would be a disappointment to somebody else's expectations of me.

I say all this to make a point--my goal in life is to achieve balance. Besides my relationship with Jesus Christ, achieving balance is my focus. I want to be a great mom and wife, but I don't want to forget to grow as a person. I want to be considerate of others, but I don't want to rule my behavior by how others perceive me. I want to take care of my home and do a good job at work, but I don't want to get too busy to have fun. I want to identify the things I need to improve in myself, but I don't want to ignore all the rich qualities I have either. I'm guessing that's where they got the saying "Don't sweat the small stuff." Then they follow with "...and everything is small stuff."

Monday, June 12

Confession Remorse

I found myself doing something odd this weekend. I was a flurry of activity among the plantlife that I try to call a 'garden'. You know from my past admission, that I don't even pretend to be a gardener, so it was a bit unusual that I was so committed to putting flowers in, pulling more weeds out and generally prettying up the outside of my house. I do love to have the flower beds blooming, but I don't enjoy getting them that way; so my persistence was a bit unnerving. I got really creeped out when I went to the garage for the third time and attempted to start the weedeater while Hero Guy was saving people from barfing up a lung while getting their thrills at The fair.

I began to assess this sudden addiction to this frustrating task that will need to be fiddled with every day in the coming weeks and won't ever be fully completed until summer ends when the cold weather kills everything. It suddenly dawned upon me....I had admitted to myself and to the blogsphere that I am actually not very good at something. Now I have to prove to everyone that I can, in fact, perform well in spite of myself. Hmmm, I wonder if this is a first-born child, perfectionist-type of thing or is it perhaps a girl thing? Could it be a mom thing or just a personality-type thing? This drive to prove that I indeed have no shortcomings, that I can actually be perfect if I put my mind to it--it's just baffling, and exhausting to be sure.

I followed up with the questions - Why in the world do I care if somebody knows I'm not the world's greatest gardener; or housecleaner; or athlete; or mother; or Christian; or - on and on it goes. Why do I care myself? What change of character actually takes place if I admit those things? What will cleaning up the yard, or the house, or my act temporarily, actually do to make me a better person?

It made me remember a study that was shown on 60 Minutes that said the greatest weight loss success will be achieved when you have admitted to the public that you are on a weight-loss program. The threat of humiliation spurs us into action even if temporarily, and we will generally do whatever we have to in order to acheive the results we are looking for just to avoid the humiliation of failure. I also read similiar research in Dr. Levine's book, A Mind at a Time which deals with learning disabilities. His work with children proved that a child would rather not attempt something at all than to try and fail if the failure will lead to some sort of embarrassment.

My conclusion, once my yard was glowing with flowers, was that I, in fact, am at the core of myself, still childlike in some ways, especially when it comes to needing the approval of others. I suppose we are all like that to some extent, but I also realized something else. It was very handy to have a subliminal motivator to get something done that had been bugging me for the last few weeks. So tune in soon for more confessions--While you're reading, I'll be in a frenzy becoming a neat-freak, a health nut and just perfection in general.

Sunday, June 11

Scrabble Score

For a lazy Sunday without a lot of inspiration for blog topics, I thought this was kinda funny.

Pholph's Scrabble Generator

My Scrabble© Score is: 18.
What is your score? Get it here.

Check this THINK

The first ever Blogging Chicks Carnival is today. Stop by to see what everybody else is thinking!

Saturday, June 10

Small Town, Big Thrills

I live in what would be considered a small town, rural community. One of the highlights of living in a country-type setting is the town fairs and festivals that happen throughout the summer. The first one of the season for our community is a carnival that is hosted by the local volunteer fire department. Since Hero Guy is a member of one of the community volunter fire departments and ambulance services, we always do our best to support the 'brotherhood'. This afternoon while Hero Guy was getting ready for his shift as the on-call medic for the carnival, I took Little Chic over to ride the various roller coasters and bumper cars. Since Hero Guy was otherwise occupied and Brainy Boy was at a friends, and Yours Truly gets seriously motion sick, Little Chic had to brave the rides on her own. By the look on her face, you can see that wasn't a problem and the thrill seemed to be the same whether she did it solo or with a counterpart.

As we were dropping dollars here and there on the various games and foodstuffs, I became a bit solemn as I saw many people visiting what would be their one and only 'vacation highlight' for the entire summer. Now although my children have many places yet to visit in their lives, they have already had their share of vacation trips, nice hotel stays and adventures to places far beyond. What was an afternoon pastime that will quickly fade for us was the thrill that some of the other kids had been looking forward to all year. It also struck me as I was clutching on to Little Chic's hand so as not to lose her in the crowd, just how many elementary school-aged kids there were running to and 'fro without a parent in sight. Although the environment is generally festive and secure, we do have our share of unforunate events, and having kids running around unprotected still poses a threat.

Little Chic ended the day with the thrill of riding every single ride except for one she wasn't quite tall enough for. I ended the day remembering that I'm blessed to be living the life that I am.

Friday, June 9

Do I Get to, Do I Have to?

Five things I GOT to do today:
1) Coordinate Little Chic's fourth grade orientation at school.
2) Get my ear pierced (top of my ear in the cartilage)
3) Have a mini pecanbon at Cinnibon
4) Have dinner out with the kickboxing posse at the Jail House restaurant in a real jail cell.
5) Buy my favorite air fresheners at the clearance sale at Bath & Body works for $5 instead of $12

Five things I HAD to do today:
1) Get up extra early to make it to the school on time
2) Grocery shopped
3) Vacuum the floor before the babysitter gets here
4) Pay a babysitter so I can go out with the girls
5) Clean out my car so I can carpool with one of the girls for dinner

Thursday, June 8

Booking Through Thursday

I came across this Meme and since my biggest passion is probably books, I figured it would be fitting for me.

Booking Through Thursday

  1. What are the last five books that you finished reading? 1-The DaVinci Code, 2-Gathering Blue, 3-The Giver, 4-The Exiles, 5-Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets Them Free.

  2. How long did it take you to read them? #1-4 days, #2-3 days, #3-2 days, #4-a week, #5-about 2 months (it was a book study with a group)

  3. Did you enjoy reading these books? Why or why not? Yeah- they were all great. I follow the rule 'one page for every year of age'. If I don't like it by the time I reach that point, I stop reading. If I love a book, I'll read it incessantly until it's finished. If it's just okay, I'll read a bit every night before I fall asleep. PS--these books are in addition to any magazines or Reader's Digest type reading I also do every day.

Wednesday, June 7

Carnival of Blogging

A blog carnival is when somebody takes the time to find really good blogs, usually on a particular topic, and then puts the posts together in one place. On Sunday, June 11 the Blogging Chicks will host their first ever carnival, so make sure to check it out then. You just might see a post from somebody you know. Oh, and if you're a chick (no roosters allowed), and you blog, you can join Blogging Chicks!

Tuesday, June 6

What's Your Therapy?

I'm not sure how it happened in the assembly line of creation when stress relief techniques were assigned. But the angel in charge of giving me gardening, cleaning and exercise as a means to relieving stress was on break, and the substitute thought it would be funny to give me shopping, eating and web surfing as stress relievers. The plan works like a charm and I tend to spend too much, eat too much and waste way too much time on the 'net if I need to 'chill out'.

This time of year, I hear so many people say how therapeutic gardening is for them, and as my flower beds get ever weedier (the ones I was shamed into creating a couple of summers ago) I pump myself up and tell myself just how relaxed I'm going to be as I zone out and create beauty for my family and me to enjoy. Today I'd had it with the empty flower pots lining my front porch, all shiny and new, ready to be filled with something...anything. I bought them in an attempt to motivate myself into putting something green in the cute little pastel containers complete with the curvy handle that hangs over the top of the railing, suspending them on the front of the porch. After several weeks of procrastinating, my last excuse (frost) is all but over. I had to accept that Memorial Day had come and gone, and I still had nary a plant to brag about. Now you who know me realize I'm a gadget girl, so I have a fully stocked shed complete with every gardening tool - I don't even know what they're all called - but I have them in case I need them.

I finally broke down today, went to the garden center, picked out some cute little plants and I have no idea whether they will survive the week or not. They say sun/shade. Will it be okay if the sun shines on them all day? They fit in the containers, but a bit snugly. Will they suffocate to death? Some of the blooms are dying. Do they need to be plucked? How is it therapy if there isn't someone to keep asking '"nd how do you feel about that?" I feel that it would be better if my flowers were planted by a gardner who actually knew something about gardening.

Then after the planting comes the weeding - pulling stalks, prickers, weeds, roots...things that refuse to come out of the ground and will only be popping their weedy little heads up again in another few days. I mean, what's the point? Instead of feeling relaxed, rejunvenated, serene? I feel anxious, sweaty and itchy. But I continue like a madwoman, performing the equivalent of botanic surgery - well, murder actually, to anything that looks remotely too green and big to possibly be a decorative plant thing.

I've said all this to say, I'm in the market for a gardener in exchange for therapy. I'll be happy to have some beautiful looking plants, and you'll be happy because you're healing your inner self. You go around planting my stuff and pulling my weeds and I'll follow behind you asking "and how do you feel about that?" We'll make a great pair.

Will Work for Poop

I was flipping through my local Clipper coupon magazine and found an ad for ummm - how to put this delicately - assistance in keeping your yard free from pet waste. Now I do tend to be one for discovering signs with weird offers, but this beats all. For a service plan of your choice, starting at $39 per month, this business owner will come to your yard and take away all the doo-doo your dog has left around the yard. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but in neighborhoods where you 'walk' the dog, it is a customary requirement for you to bring a doggie bag (for deposits, not leftovers) and take your pet's doggy-doo with you. That takes care of all the people who live in neighborhoods. For those who live in a more rural setting with a bit of property (as do I) it isn't necessary to walk the dog and clean up immediately after. I'm assuming that's the market for this particular service.

However, being one of those pet owners with adequate yardage and an electric underground fence, I'm not thinking that a monthly contract will really make my life all that much easier - even with the free bonus visits they'll provide if I sign a six-month contract. First of all, if your yard is big enough for your dog to use as a toilet, it would have to be a lot of humongo poops in order for it to be a real problem- what with the size of a large yard, and the mower mulching it up if it happens upon a pile. Second, if the yard is not very large and/or the dog takes to going in inconvenient places (like under the covered porch when it's raining), it will be problematic to wait for pooper-scooper-serviceman to discard the mess, and so you'll be needing to take care of that yourself anyway.

For those who would be interested in an 'assistance program' such as this, please advise me as to what stage of the contract your yard is in if I'm invited to visit. I'd like to know if it's 'clean diaper' or 'getting smelly' or 'knee high-bring your mukluks' before I accept.

Monday, June 5

Extreme Makover, Blogger Edition

It's me, only better!! With summer arriving, I was needing a new look, so I've changed the curtains and the carpet, but don't worry--I still live here. I scooped up the design from a blogger I like to read. She offers some great designs for free, but will even make you a custom one if you want. Her name is Zoot and she is really funny.

Anywhooo, it was a scary proposition to hit that "save my changes" button, especially considering I know not a stitch of HTML and really had no idea what I was doing. Guess I should have considered more carefully when I first created that mean, green thing that was me just this morning! Anyway, this is the Extreme Makover, Blogger Edition.

Gotta Love 'Em

Picture this: 10-year-old boy lying in bed at 9pm, doing some light reading in order to relax before sleeping. Mom comes in to tuck him in and say prayers only to find said boy reading his most treasured Mushroom Field Guide. Mom notices that boy seems to be drooling on the pillow. Upon questioning, boy exclaims "There are just dozens of delicious-sounding recipes in my mushroom book. Can we make some of them?" Mom slinks out to tell father of boy that it is not normal for a 10-year-old to be reading recipes for fungus that can be found growing in the woods.

Brainy Boy went to a nature preserve about a month ago for a school field trip. I went along as a chaperone. In addition to the native American stories, games and artifacts we learned about, we also took a hike. When the field trip was over, I let him take a quick peek in the gift shop, assuming he would choose a $2 polished stone or perhaps a replica of an Indian arrowhead to take home as a souvenir. Instead, he chose a $20 mushroom field guide and I insisted he use the remainder of his birthday money to buy it, figuring that the interest in mushrooms would last about a nanosecond. Contrary to popular opinion, he took it back to school, read it the entire way back on the bus, read it on the bus trip home and continued to pore over it for the next week or so.

At bedtime last night, Brainy Boy suddenly realized he had not looked at the book in a couple of weeks, and ran to find it at the place he had it last. He hopped in bed and began reading, apparently never realizing before that included in the appendix was a small cookbook that gives ideas on how to use various types of mushrooms that can be found in the wild. You can imagine his excitement when I told him our local community college offers a short course on identifying, gathering and cooking wild mushrooms. Apparently we'll be signing up as soon as the next class is advertised because he announced to his father that he and I would be going to mushroom school. It's not that I don't like mushrooms--I love them in fact. I'm the one that turned Brainy Boy on to their deliciousness. I just usually order mine with crab stuffing from Red Lobster rather than digging them up from the moss in the forest. But you know what they say, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Saturday, June 3

Nature Calls

No big philosophical post today, just an "I told you so". Nice, aren't I? Anyway, in the two weeks that my hummingbirds have been back 'home' for the summer, I've repeatedly been told that I must be mistaken, but that hummingbirds never stop flying, and do not land to sit on things. I'm not sure where the information comes from, but this seems to be a commonly believed 'fact'. Since last year was my first year having hummingbirds around, I thought I must be mistaken as well.

This picture demonstrates how my little hummingbird regularly sits when he visits. He sits on the staff that the birdseed feeder hangs from, he sits atop my flower pots and regularly sits on the different brackets that I hang my plant, flags or his feeder from. I have 3 hummingbirds (2 males and 1 female), so I'm not sure if it's the same male sitting all the time or not. They usually hover when they feed, but this little guy was sitting when he fed at one point today.

Incidentally, if you've never seen a hummingbird up close, at least this variety (ruby-throated hummingbird) is about the size of a woman's thumb (not counting the beak, but counting the tail). A lot of times it looks like a very large bumblebee passing by. Once the birds get used to coming to my feeder (about 6 feet away from my sliding glass door), I'll move it to the outside of my sliding glass door, and they will come feed while I stand on the other side of the glass. It's amazing how tiny their feet are when you see them up close (their toes look about as thick as the leg of a grandaddy-longlegs). They also make a little chirping sound every time they swallow. And their wings do hum and they look blurry because they move so fast. Today while sitting, the hummingbird was kind of preening his feathers and even lifted a leg to scratch an itch on his ear.

Since I'm just the plethora of information today, if you want to make hummingbird food, boil 1 cup water and add 1/4 cup sugar till it dissolves. I used to use the storebought red nectar, but I read somewhere that it is linked to birth defects in the baby birds....dont' know if that is true. After reading that, I tried to switch away from the red food, and make my own sugar water, but they wouldn't eat what I made. This year, I started directly with the homemade recipe, and they are drinking it right up.

So now you know!

Friday, June 2

Stickin' It Out

I got married today. Well, not exactly today. It was Friday, June 2. But the year was 1989 - 17 years ago. "Amazing", people say. "Good for you", they comment. "You must have picked the right one", the add. Amazing? Yes. Good for me? I'll admit it. But it has nothing to do with picking the right one, really. It's not because I found the perfect boy, and it's certainly not because he found the perfect girl. It might sound a little unromantic, but there never really is a 'right one' floating around out there waiting in the cosmos for the other 'right one' to crash and connect. There may be 'better ones'; there may be 'more easily compatible' or something or other. But the real story is you start becoming the right one the moment you vow that "you do".

When I married, I had been 20 for a whole 33 days, we had just completed a 2-year long-distance realtionship and HE was five years older than me. You can't really set yourself up for less success, frankly, but I knew I was doing something serious. That was in part to being mature for my age as well as being raised in an environment with a faith that taught commitment with no turning back. Short of being in physical danger, once connected, you were pretty much stuck. I also had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and besides the romantic desire to live happily ever after, I had a sense of wanting to live my life the right way. I started the wedding day, thinking that I was making a choice, and that I'd be making that choice for the last time. What I didn't realize is that every day, for the rest of our lives, we'd both be making that choice over again.

It turned out that some days, the choice was a no-brainer. The butterflies were there, the adrenaline was pumping with activity associated with setting up house, having our own place, being our own new little club. But after a time, the choice was an act of discipline. One of us didn't treat the other with kindness or respect. One of us made a selfish comment or decision. One of us spent too much money. One of us wanted one thing, the other wanted something different. One of us broke a promise to the other one. On those days, the thought occurred "I shoulda-never-done-this!" On those days, life seemed relegated to an eternity of being taken advantage of, disapppointed with the other person, full of aggravation and frustration if we stuck it out. The butterflies were definitely outta there.

This is the point where more than 50% of married couples decide they made a mistake, they are no longer in love, the mate didn't keep their end of the bargain so a chapter of their life has closed. They feel like they've come down a path and reached a dead end. What they don't realize is THAT is exactly where life was supposed to lead them. It's not a dead end, but a "T", and their life journey depends on whether they turn right or left. What they don't realize is that is exactly where love, in its purest form, begins. It was at that point that I realized that love is simply doing what is right for another person, regardless of what you think, feel or want. It has nothing to do with a feeling. The feeling was just the chemistry that made you want the chance to love the person in the first place.

I take no credit for making the right decision...The first time the decision was hard for me, I had God with his thumb in my back, reminding me of my commitment, reminding me that I chose this life, that I couldn't just change my mind on a promise. That's what makes it a serious thing. You don't stop just because it's not working for you any more. I turned right at the T - I chose to persevere, as did HE, on several occasions, and as has pretty much anyone who has stayed married for a significant period of time. What we found beyond that curve in the road, just after the "T" was a shock--We had acted out of pure commitment, and rather than living a life of disappointment and frustration, feeling stuck someplace we didn't want to be, we found that life was happier around that corner, more secure, infinitely more fulfilling.

I began to see HIM in a new light--a guy that would love me with all my good qualities and put up with my bad. I saw a guy who would take care of me if I ever got sick or disabled. I saw a guy that would share the thrill with me that comes from creating a nucleus family of our own with little people who had sprung from us. I saw a guy who would happily sacrifice what he wants to give me what I want, and get joy out of doing it. I saw those things because I began to do those things myself, without any promise of HIM returning the favor. I discovered THAT was love.

To summarize, here's the scoop, for those of you who haven't started in marriage, or who are about to quit the one you're with in an effort to find 'the one'. I speak both from personal experience and from observation of those who have made different choices in their lives--and I'm pretty sure I'm right.

1) If you're getting married because you are in love, you won't always feel in love. The feeling is just chemistry. Making unselfish choices in favor of the other person is the love part and YOU are responsible for doing that, even if they don't. The bonus is that the feelings do come around quite a bit.
2) On the days you wish you weren't married, (which totally will happen) stick it out. Sticking it out eventually brings reassurance that you're glad you got married. You get to see and feel what real love is like.
3) When you do things out of sacrifice for the other person, you begin to be "the one" and that starts turning them into "the one".
4) Quitting a marriage pretty much seals the deal that when you find the next "the one", you won't be able to stick it out with them either. In marriage, practice does not make perfect. Only working it out makes perfect.
5) Once you have children, your obligation to sticking it out exponentially increases. You have handed over your rights to the little people you've brought into the world.
6) Sticking it out does not mean living a life of misery and frustration. It means figuring out a way to make it work well. That is why they call marriage hard work. And that's why its so rewarding when you succeed.
7) Sticking it out will not bring the life you always wanted. It usually gives you a life you didn't even know you wanted, and you'll be immeasurably happier than if life had followed your original plan. It's the formula of 1+1=10. You'll get out more than you put in after you make the choice to stick it out.
8) Just because your "the one" changes does not give you the right to stop sticking it out. Of course they changed. It was just not the changes you planned. It's nature, and it's called 'growth'. You've changed too, but you like your changes better than you like theirs.
9) Life is like a cycle - you'll have many opportunities to make the 'stick it out' choice with the same person. Sometimes the choice is a no-brainer, sometimes you get to practice true love while making it.
10) Every time you choose to stick it out, the choice becomes infinitely easier the next time you have to make it. And your life becomes richer, happier and more rewarding than it ever was before. Not because HE's perfect, but because He's the one for you.

Babe, thanks for being my "the one" and letting me be yours.

Thursday, June 1

Court Jester of the Road

Since I fancy myself a soccer-mom type, I have a van. I wanted a van from the moment I had an infant seat carrying that new little bundle. It just seemed family-like and much more convenient. The day I brought it home, you'd have thought it was a corvette the way I acted. It had the features I wanted - opening doors on both sides, bucket seats in the second row (rather than bench). The bonus was that it was my #1 color choice - Patriot Blue. It was also only 10 months old with 19,000 miles on it as a demo car. Life was great. I bee-bopped down the road with my little tykes in tow, each getting out of their respective sides of the van, separated by an aisle so they couldn't argue about who was on whose side, and life was just great. That is, until last summer.

I got in the car. It purred to life, but when I went to back out, I couldn't turn the steering wheel. Car gets towed, power steering belt broken. Things went well for a few weeks, until I headed with my kids out to the state park in Timbuktu. As I'm curving around the back roads leading in, van won't steer around the curves. Barely make it to the parking lot. Attempt to call repair shop failed because there is no cell phone service in the deep woods. Pay phone helps track down a wrecker to tow car again. Power steering hose leak. Things were repaired several times, then other things broke. On and on it went throughout the summer for a total of $1000 in little repairs. When hurricane Katrina hit, Hero Guy suddenly decided that our van had been the victim of a flood somewhere and we had been saddled with the results.

At the end of the summer, things seemed peachy and I even went on a couple of short day trips within a couple of hours of home. Then in July, I took a 4 hour trip down to the City. In February, I took a 5 hour trip to DC. Things have gone well, until today.

I was driving along, minding my own business, when I had the sensation that my foot had slipped off the gas pedal; a momentary loss of power that resumed. 30 seconds later the 'check engine' light came on, and from past experience I knew to pop into my friendly repair shop that was close by. On the way there, I realized that although I was driving 40 mph, the RPM gauage was showing 4,000. Even a car-dummy like me identified that as 'a sign'. Twenty minutes and one exam by the vehicle gynecologist revealed that indeed, something bad happened. Who knows what, but he's fixing it.

Car repair guy lectured Hero Guy about buying a new truck instead of getting me a new vehicle. Hero Guy groaned that indeed, we've gotten a 'flood car'. I decided that next time I accidentally enter my van's twin, I'm going to hot-wire it and leave them with the surprise they deserve for not locking their vehicle.