Monday, September 13, 2010

Dear Mr. Home Builder

Dear Mr. Home Builder,

Did it ever occur to you whilst you were erecting this lovely abode that I now call home, that at some point in the future someone might, by chance, want to actually paint this little breadbox with a toilet that you fondly call the “half-bath”? Judging by the fact that one must stand on top of the toilet or perch in the sink in order to actually have clearance to open and shut the door to this space, future home décor was clearly not on the list of your priorities.

I knew the space was small and had its flaws but I figured that a nice cheery coat of paint would at least help our guests feel less off-put when we handed them a shoehorn so that they might actually have the privacy of closing the door while visiting the “half-bath”. Far be it from me to tell you how to build a house, but I might suggest that if you are building a “half-bath” the size of a glove compartment, you would be wise to find a “half-toilet” and a “half-sink” to accommodate the space.

I was dumbfounded when the painter quoted what I felt to be an absurd price for the task of a measly little coat of paint. Naturally I decided that I could handle this task on my own, save a bundle of cash, and tip on over to have a pedicure all by noon. How hard could it be? The room (if you can call it that) isn't big enough to even require a entire bottle of nail polish. This should be a snap.

What I didn’t factor in to the equation Mr. Home Builder was the need for one very small person (roughly the size and shape of an 18 month old baby) with the ability to wedge himself in the space between the wall and the toilet…one very small person with freakishly long arms, and the dexterity to paint around all those tubes and knobs coming out the back...without actually being able to see any of them. Neither did I anticipate my need for someone tall enough to paint close to the ceiling (someone about 8'2" with steady hands and keen eyesight in such a pourly lit space). Since there is barely enough room in the "half-bath" for both me AND my paint brush, the task of trying to open a ladder was a near death experience rivaled only by what I can only imagine a mouse must experience as he takes the cheese off the spring loaded trap. Believe me, I tried! I stretched on my tiptoes, reached as far up as my average length arms would stretch...I even attempted to balance on the toilet to reach up to the 9 foot high crown molding...while standing on a phone book...wearing heels. Alas, I’m simply not tall enough. And by the way, the quality and durability of the toilet seat you installed is lacking a great deal…,no, it will not hold my entire weight along with the weight of a phone book...and heels.

I also underestimated the need for a contortionist who would be able to paint while hanging from the door in order to coat that obnoxious little space between the door frame and the wall…a 1.25 inch space so un-noteworthy that you, Mr. Home Builder failed to paint the original “builders white” coat….and yet a space that glares of it’s obvious nakedness with my new cheery color.

In short, Mr. Home Builder, I was unaware and ill-informed when I purchased this home that I would need to hire an entire carnival sideshow act in order to complete the task of painting a space roughly the same size as my linen closet. Any tips for this painting endeavor would, I’m certain, be most appreciated by your future home owners.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hazard Lights

My son is 17 years old. He has been driving on his own for roughly 10 months now. This is still the probation period, meaning the time period in which he must prove himself as a good driver, and the time period in which I must wean myself from the tranquilizers necessary to actually hand him the car keys...and then actually LET GO OF THEM.

I have spent painstaking months training him to drive. I always assumed that driver training would be a "Dad job" but it turns out that the chaos inside the vehicle when Dad is "teaching" is far worse than any chaos that they could actually create out on the road. Control freak that I am, turns out that I am actually far better at biting the tip of my own tongue off rather than screaming at the top of my lungs to "Slow the....DOWN", than dear old dad. While I am certain that I will need to add substantial time to my psychiatry regime as well as physical therapy for the whiplash, I am smart enough to know that playing the "good cop" in the ole' good cop/bad cop version of Drivers Ed. yields big dividends on Mother's Day...and those moments when I need him to run to the grocery store for something I forgot to get for dinner...or possibly for chocolate.

So, here we are, many months after he has achieved teenage nirvana and received his drivers licence...months after he has proven to the State of North Carolina that he is a safe, responsible driver and eligible to be behind the wheel of more than a Schwinn, I still can't help myself from giving him final instructions as he heads out the door; "fasten your seat belt", "no cell phone", "do you have your glasses?", "call me when you get there". These instructions all rotate in and out of the customary pre-driving checklist. However, the one staple instruction...the one command that I am relentless about drilling into my dear son...the last words that he hears as he departs (after the requisite "be careful" and "I love you") are "be sure that you know where your Hazard button is."

I maintain that the Hazard button is quite possibly the most important button in the entire automotive industry. I don't care if he knows how to turn on the radio. I don't care if he can figure out the windshield wiper speeds or the defroster. I want him to know exactly where the Hazard button is, and how to turn it on....Once that hazard light is blinking, then he can fumble around with the windshield wipers, radio etc. He can make all the erratic moves necessary as he tries to figure out the auto-gadgets. While his Hazard lights are on everyone else on the road will simply stay the heck out of his way.

"Hazard Lights" has been my constant mantra in the home school drivers education crash course. The way I figure it, if you get lost or can't find the street your looking for, turn on your hazards. If your windows are fogging over and you can't figure out how to defrost, turn on your hazards, if your sister is fighting with you and has spit her gum into your hair, turn on your hazards....then you can slowly, carefully pull over to the side of the road and make her get out and walk home. The Hazard lights afford the extra wiggle room, you need to get your bearings straight. Most importantly, it let's people behind you move out of your way. Leaving them thinking that there is an emergency...rather than thinking that you are simply an idiot that can't figure out how to operate his vehicle.

The only caution I have taught my son in using the Hazard button is to never turn your hazard lights on and speed...unless you can actually produce a very pregnant woman about to give birth when you get pulled over by the cops. And, even if you have a very pregnant woman in the car don't be surprised if you get a very insistent "escort" to the hospital. Hazard Lights=SLOW motion!

As I sit here writing about the merits of the Hazard button I can't help but think that it would be most helpful if there was a Hazard button to use in everyday life. For instance, when you're stopped in the aisle at the grocery store pondering the merits of the french style green beans vs. the country-cut style, you could just turn on your Hazards and other shoppers would know to go around. Or, when you're trying to make a decision at Starbucks about how many pumps of what flavor and how many shots and what size cup and how much cream and whip or no whip...and you find yourself going into that momentary Starbucks brain implosion--Hazard lights everyone in line behind you automatically knows that it's going to be a while and they might as well take out their Blackberrys and play a round of solitaire.

How helpful would it be if we could have a blinking Hazard hat to wear when shopping, or eating out with small children? Everyone would simply know to steer clear...OR how about the Hazardous Waste light when you're out in public with a young-un with a stinko diaper! The personal Hazard hat could really serve to curb congestion, rage and exposure to unpleasant situations in public places. Much like the Blue-Light-Special that K-mart is so famous for in which a blinking blue light indicates that a special sale is going on in the vicinity of the blue light, inspiring folks to race willy-nilly through the store to snatch up 2 for 1 canned tuna. The Hazard hat could serve to help folks go around the slow obstructions in life making life safer and smoother for all concerned.

The only caution that I would advise with the Hazard hat is the same caution that I relentlessly drill into my son. Never use the Hazard button to try and cheat the system. Don't think you're going to sneak 20 items through the 10 items or less aisle just because you have your hazard light on, or skirt around the mile long line snaking out of the women's bathroom, or jump to the front of the bank teller line with your Hazard hat blinking...unless you can produce a very pregnant woman that appears to be about to give birth!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy Snow/Sick Day

Well, it finally hit. This is the big one Weezie *grabs chest. staggers backwards and plops into the most comfy chair in the house* Our household was finally hit sometime yesterday by the mother of all stomach viruses and we are, shall we say, under the weather. I know what you're thinking...2 questions....I can even envision in my mind your faces of sheer panic as you wonder first: when did this illness start? ( how long ago since I last breathed on you or hugged you) and second, from which end of your body does this little virus exit?

And to top it off, we experienced the biggest snowstorm that NC has seen in ages last night. So much snow in fact that we couldn't open the back door to let the dog out this morning. We had to shove him out a window. And as luck would have it, as in nearly EVERY North Carolina winter storm, the power went out This was definitely NOT a Charles Dickens winter moment as you can imagine the chaos that ensued with no lights and 3 of us (Connor has been spared from this virus so far)bumbling around trying to find a toilet in the dark! All I can say, is thank the good Lord for our multi-toilet household. We each finally found our own commode and camped out rather than trying to stagger back and forth in the dark.

So, I'm stuck inside with the flu...only able to view the frivolity and cheer through my bedroom a reverse snow globe *sigh* Did I happen to mention that I hate snow??? I mean I really hate snow. Actually, I like to view snow from afar or a fire...but I hate to be cold, I hate all the layers of snow gear that you must wear (although I will concede that there is merit in being able to blame the snow gear for the appearance of extra bulk rather than my consumption of copious amounts of chocolate), I hate the earmuffs that muffle all noise when someone is trying to talk to you and then you have to take them off, at which point your ears will turn red, then purple, then black and finally fall off (according to my mother). Although, earmuffs worn indoors when my son is practicing his electric guitar are an entirely different matter. I hate that my nose runs in the cold and that my upper lip is so frozen that I can't even feel it running until someone points it a very loud voice (in order to be heard over all the earmuffs)...and where did I put that tissue?...and how the heck do I get to it now??? I hate cold feet...cold wet feet that wont seem to warm up until July. I hate when I forget to wear sunscreen in the snow because it just seems like a horrible scam by the sunscreen manufacturers. Until I come inside with a sunburn (on my face only) that rivals a weeks vacation in Aruba.

So here I sit in my bed with a perfect view of the backyard where all the neighbor kids are determined to make a mega snowman. This is the first snow in years that has had enough accumulation that the kids can play all day and each yard still looks winter wonderland wonderful. All white without the ugly slush and mud seeping through yet. In years past, here in the near south, small school children bartered their lunch money for the privilege of scraping the snow off your car so that they could haul buckets of the white powder to their own house and have more snow to play with. But not with this storm. There is plenty for everyone!

I must admit, the highlight of my little view into snow-land has been watching the kids try to make the worlds largest snowman. Oh their cherubic faces filled with delight as they each race to see who can make the best snowman base...almost makes me want to race out there and join them...almost.

A small note needs to be interjected here: We have a dog....a very big dog. You may have heard of Rosco the wonder dog here on this blog, or you may have opened your front door on a warm spring afternoon and heard us screaming after Rosco as we chased him around the neighborhood. Either way, he is about 70 pounds of lumbering mutt. So, you do the math...big dog=big poop...lots of big poop...which at the moment (covered in 8 inches of snow) has the cleanliness and purity of Mary Poppins written all over it...without a clue to the sanitary mayhem that festers below.

The games began bright and early this morning as throngs of cherubic faced babes raced around the yard. Teamwork abounded as they all worked together to create the worlds largest snowman. Each team sure that their snowball would make the best base. They were adorable with their bright pink cheeks, chapped red lips and frozen snotcicles flowing from their noses. But suddenly, as if hearing some signal that only young children could hear (the way only dogs can hear that really high pitched noise), all teams seemed to stop at the same moment to view each others achievements. Their sweet proud faces turned to horror and tears...followed by more snot as they viewed, not the beautiful large white orbs of freshly driven snow that they had anticipated, but what appeared to be very large chocolate chip cookie dough balls. Game day was over. Time for a little soap and water.

In general I don't like being sick. But this kind of sick day is quite nice. I can sleep as long as I want and then get up and take a nap. Nobody is bothering me. They are all tending to their own ailments. I have the cell phone, TV remote control, bottle of water, tissues right by my side and the whole bed to myself with the electric blanket cranked up to the lava setting. I am well aware that tomorrow morning when I open my bedroom door I will encounter something close to K-mart after a blue-light-special. But for now I am enjoying the sanctity of the sick ward while I hear in the distance the grumblings about poorly made hot chocolate, clothes that aren't dry yet, and constant griping about all the snow that's being dragged into the house.
I think I'll take a nap now.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Everyday Disney Experiences

Recently I was visiting a friend at her home. As we sat and chatted over coffee I was astounded at how many appliances beeped, whizzed, buzzed and signaled her. Her washing machine signaled the completion of it's cycle. Her dishwasher finished...another signal. The door bell chimed, her cell phone rang, etc. The most amazing thing about all of this is that I wasn't annoyed in the least by this auditory mayhem. “Why”, you ask? Because, every single appliance played some kind of happy little tune. It was as if the appliance industry has determined that if your washer plays a few lines from "It's a Small World After All" at the conclusion of the spin cycle, or if your dishwasher tinkles a bit of "If Your Happy And You Know It Empty The Dishwasher", then you will be fooled into feeling that the drudgery of household chores are actually a happy, playful, cheerful thing. I fully expected a few little animated bluebirds to fly in the window and begin folding her laundry!

So, I have embarked on a little campaign to locate and catalogue all the little everyday Disney experiences.

First location: you guessed it…Target. I sat for a small respite at the indoor Starbucks cafe-ette. Yes, it's true; Starbucks and Target have teamed up in all the Super Target stores (I affectionately refer to these locations as the Super-Duper Target stores!). Honestly, the "Tarbucks" stores have to top the list of everyday Disney experiences!! The only thing that could make these stores more of a Disney experience is if they would simply mislabel all of their women’s clothing down by 2 or 3 sizes ( frankly, I think this idea is marketing genius! I would take a size mark-down over a price mark-down any day. I might even be tempted to wear my clothes inside-out with the tags showing!).

As I walked through the store my ears were peeled for the sound of Disney-ish cheer. I sauntered over to the greeting card section and found both an entire section of cards that played music upon opening the card, as well as an entire aisle of humor cards where people were chuckling and giggling over the humor content. Next to the greeting card section is a wall mounted music box that allows you to push buttons and sample some easy listening music such as Josh Grobin or Yanni. Or you can sample a CD of nature sounds such as birds chirping or ocean waves (which I highly caution against if you have just consumed the guzzler cup-o-joe in the café). And right next to this little feature is a cacophony of bright colored wrapping paper, streamers, party supplies and balloons…AND then of course there’s always the pharmacy where I get my “happy” pills refilled each month! What could be more Disney-esque?

On to the next location: lunch time! Yep, you guessed it, free horsdouvres at every turn....And the ever present Disney-like long lines of pushing and shoving people waiting for food samples! After waiting through the long line that wove it's way back and forth throughout the store (conveniently passing mega deals on jumbo bags of chocolate and cat food) I made my way to the front of the line and was given a 2 inch wedge of microwaved frozen pizza by a perky young women wearing a white lab coat, as though this were a serious clinical trial...or maybe to prove Costco's excellence in sanitation. I was exhausted after the Disney-line and ready for a ride so I raced over to the furniture section, pushing and shoving people out of my way so that I could take my turn in the sample massage chair! While relaxing in the massage chair I heard in the distance people testing out the electric pianos, small children screaming & crying and a multitude of cheerful little cell ring tones. Disney Disney Disney! It would not have surprised me in the least if Goofy or Snow White were wandering around the store.

And finally: Yesterday a friend and I took a jaunt over to the hospital to visit a comrade of ours. Normally one would not consider the hospital to be a Disney-ish experience. And yet if you are looking for it...or listening for it, you will see Disney-ish features everywhere. From the parking deck with its 497 levels...each colored a happy Crayola color that you are supposed to remember so that you'll find your way back (more on this little adventure later), to the cheerful music and mood lighting upon entry...not to mention the rotating door, which is barrels of fun all in itself and is akin to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. There are lots of happy people willing to assist you in finding your way around this Adventure-Land and I'm even fairly certain I saw a group of short Asian people, all with cameras, pointing and chatting in the gift shop. The elevator we rode in was, I'm certain, developed by the same folks that created Space Mountain, and had the very same affect on my stomach. And when we finally reached our destination (the waiting room) we entered into what can only be described as the Country Bear Jamboree!

The Grand Finale of my every-day-Disney-experiences came about as we exited Hospital-Land to find our car. You guessed it. We were lost. Completely turned around. We wandered aimlessly for what seemed like hours through Frontier-Land, Adventure-Land, Never-Never-Land and almost into Tomorrow-Land!!! We could not remember our Crayola color! I'm sure this is just an oversight by the hospital administration and they are aware of this flaw because after wandering back and forth so many times that we must have appeared to be practicing the tango, (mind you, all with the "happy" music playing in the background) a cheerful attendant summoned a young man in a golf cart to help us locate our vehicle. This was the highlight of our stay at the Disney-Ward. We whizzed around cars, people, turnstiles, etc. The colors all blurred together as we raced from parking deck to parking deck. We raised our hands in the air and yelled an echoing "WooHoo" as we circled each ramp to the next floor. We passed our vehicle 4 or 5 times but we were having so much fun that I didn't want the ride to end so I just played dumb. I'm sure the cheerful young fellow was getting a bit peeved by the second pass through all the levels, but it serves them right. I would have had no problem remembering where my car was if the signs said “Remember you are parked in Pluto”.

The only discrepancy with the Disney/Hospital experience is that after the 15 minute drive, carefully following all the exit signs in which you take a full tour of the parking establishment (which is the size of oh, say, UTAH) you must pay to EXIT the park! The parking attendant did however smile, wave and wish us a “Blessed day” after taking my money...I’m pretty sure that the animated chipmunk perched on her shoulder smiled and waved too.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Now Is The Right Time

I woke this morning at 3:30AM. Well, actually I woke up shortly before 3 and struggled to fall back to sleep. As typical, my mind was wide awake even if my body was still exhausted and begging for a few more hours. Resolved to the fact that I had had all the zzzzzz's I was going to get for the night I reluctantly hauled myself out of bed. I was grumpy, moody and just plain ticked off. I NEED my sleep! I do not function well at all without proper sleep.

So I found myself playing around on FaceBook as a new status popped up. The status that made my heart nearly stop and my stomach double over. My very dear friend's 16 year old daughter had just been in a very serious car accident and was in ICU with too many injuries to mention. This is the moment that every mother of a teenage driver fears. I was breathless, and with tears streaming down my face I knew why I had been awoken so early. I moved myself from the sofa onto my knees to beg God for healing in this sweet young girls body.

I have a very close group of friends who have all walked together through the joys and sorrows of parenthood. All of our first born children were born within 6 months of each other. We are bonded for life as we have endured the sleepless nights of newbornhood, the sheer exhaustion when you can't even remember your own name, and you're sure that you will never again get a shower, brush your teeth or put on makeup. We have shared breastfeeding angst and the distress calls for rescue because you're sure that if someone doesn't come take your baby right this very moment you may strangle him when the crying goes on for hours...and hours...and days...and days from colic. It became a running joke that many of us would inevitably wind up together at the 24 hour Walmart in the middle of the night when the babies couldn't sleep and neither could we. We have cheered for each others victories in potty training, and taken care of each others children when a new sibling was introduce to the family. We have changed dirty diapers, spit up, and vomit from children not our own. And cradled and loved these sweet children every bit as we loved our own child. We have compared who's child walked first, who's child eats well, what each child's first words were. We have cried together over illnesses and learning disabilities and fears for our children's futures. We have all been substitute Moms for each others children especially during the teenage years when sometimes our children could hear good advice better from someone else than they can from their own mother. There is no question that we each love each other's children with a desperation very close to the love we have for our own children.

My dear friends daughter was best buddies with my son when they were about 2 or 3 years old. I have precious photos, that I look at fondly, of the two little munchkins playing together in a fort that they built with chairs and blankets. Or hugging each other both proudly wearing milk mustaches. Our lives have been woven together with the fun events as well as the sorrowful. My friend's children stayed with me when she needed to be at the hospital as her father passed away from cancer. Likewise she was right there for me when my daughter was hospitalized for seizures. None of us in this precious circle of friendship would ever consider being anywhere else when tragedy strikes or joy overflows in each others lives.

We have prayed for each others children...sometimes deep into the night. Her sweet daughter was prayed for long before she was even born...years before she was born. For years we all prayed together and cried together for a pregnancy that would never manifest itself in my friend. I can remember countless hours pondering and questioning God on why I happened to have fallopian tubes that worked but she didn't. And then years of praying as the adoption process was launched and the waiting began. Longing for the call that would finally come as a precious young woman made the greatest sacrifice and my friend would finally be a mother.

All these images and memories are soaring through my mind right now as I sit and wait for word on this young girls condition. And with time on my hands and emotion welling up once again I am reminded of how precious, fragile and sacred life is. We delude ourselves into thinking that there will always be a tomorrow...always another opportunity to do better, or to make the most of life, or to reconcile with someone, or to let go of anger, etc. But the truth is we may only have this day...we may only have this moment...or this last breath. There is no waiting for a better time...Now is the right time. Now is the right time to say I love you. Now is the right time to say I'm sorry or I forgive you. Now is the right time to be thankful for your blessings rather than counting your heartaches. You may never have another NOW. Who do you need to make things right with? A parent that didn't meet your needs the way you needed? An Ex that wounded your heart or crushed your spirit? A friend that let you down? A sibling? Someone who has taken advantage of you , done you wrong, hurt your feelings? Or maybe God, who had a different plan than yours?

The truth is, it is your inalienable right to hold onto a grudge every bit as much as it is your right to breathe....but does the grudge holding benefit you the way that breathing does? Or is holding onto that grudge much like breathing in toxic fumes? Will the benefit of letting go of that anger be greater than the byproduct of a decaying heart filled with bitterness?

Please don't wait. Show love today. Give of yourselves without expectation. Look for opportunities to practice grace both with people that you love, with people that you don't necessarily see eye to eye with, and maybe with strangers that you've never met before. You will never lose by giving from your heart. The true source of heart filling will always give back more than you could ever give away.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Falling Off The Wagon

Yes, you read the title right. It's sad but true..I have once again fallen off the wagon. If you have read my older post On Impulse you will remember that I am prone to action that is frequently fueled by foolishness ( and maybe chocolate) instead of the better fuel-- brain power and oh, shall we say COMMON SENSE. So, the impulse took over once again and despite all the other disastrous mistakes I have made with home hair color (as well as the button I proudly wear stating that I have been abstinent from self-hair coloring for 100 days and counting) with deep, DEEP regret I must admit that I succumbed to my Inner Delusional Hairstylist once again.

A month ago I had my hair colored and cut, depleting my checking account by a hefty amount. Alas, I have not been thrilled with the results. I'm sure it's what I asked for, and there is no fault to my hairstylist who is fabulous and a dear friend. But in my quest to look "a little bit trendy" (read: I wanna look younger), I wound up with a hairstyle that is a wee bit too short and a bit too colorful for my taste, leading another dear friend to remark that it looked a bit like a calico cat. If you have ever found yourself in this little dilemma you understand the desperation and pain of waiting a month before recoloring. If you recolor too soon your hair will fall out (trust me on this one, I speak from tragic experience). So, throughout the holiday season I have been wearing bright red lipstick, flashy shoes and a WonderBra all in the attempt to deter attention from my hair.

Monday I could stand it no longer. My holiday hips need a bit less attention until they have deflated a bit. The focus was going to have to move to the upper half of my body. Desperate times called for desperate measures, and I convinced myself yet again that I could not possibly make my hair worse than it already was. This, of course is the equivalent of an alcoholic stating "It's only Nyquil, strictly for medicinal purposes". I was off and running to the nearest drugstore faster than you can say "Miss Clairol is not your friend."

So, here's what I've learned on this little nose dive into hair color hell. No matter how much you want it, you're NOT going to look like the woman on the box of the hair color after you're done. I picked out a lovely color called Warm Champagne (my first mistake...warm champagne is disgusting!) It seemed to be a nice shade, and well, the perky gal on the box just looked so darn happy...AND she was holding a puppy with the very same hair color. How can ANYONE resist a puppy???

A small side note should be interjected here: On this day I began my prep for a colonoscopy. What is the prep for this little "procedure" you ask??? No food for 2 days, and about 2 gallons of water laced with heavy duty laxatives. Needless to say I was out of my right mind from starvation, and well, let's just say I needed to make a VERY quick decision and rush home. No time for lollygagging about and pondering different hair colors...pretty picture on the box with a puppy...sold! I was out of there. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

So, apparently I don't follow directions so well on an empty stomach. There's a little note on the instructions for the hair color. Well, actually it's a pretty big note in er, BIG BOLD LETTERS on the instructions directing you to do a patch test on your skin first to make sure that you don't have a reaction to the chemicals. I have colored my hair oh SO many times and never had a reaction before so I figured "how bad could it be...there is after all a puppy on the box...and the woman on the box looks so happy"...

ALWAYS do the patch test! The blisters are just beginning to subside. And, wow, the red-ish hue to my hair is really just my inflamed scalp!

Needless to say, the color didn't turn out to be all that I had hoped for. Apparently puppies aren't all that their cracked up to be! Yet, I was not to be deterred. I figured that if I just added a few highlights my hair would at least look suitable in very dim lighting. Off to the drugstore I went for a highlighting kit. This time I was in even more of a rush as the "procedure" prep was really doing it's thing. In my frenzy to grab & go it was only pure luck that I happened to grab a highlighting kit and didn't return home with something from the Dark & Lovely shelf! I know you are thinking "Why couldn't you just wait a day or two? It's only hair", to which I can only reply...have you ever seen an alcoholic on a drinking binge???, or the Cookie Monster in the presence of a bag of Oreos??? There was no stopping me, no reasoning, no rational thinking. It wasn't pretty.

The results you ask???... Let's just say that if Helen Keller had been a hairstylist she would have done a better job then I. The "procedure" is over, I have food in my belly and I now have my senses back. I sit writing this blog as the newly appointed poster child for "Just Say No To Home Coloring". It appears that I will have to wear my WonderBra and the bright red lipstick for a while longer. I have once again fulfilled my life motto: If you can't be a good example you'll just have to serve as a terrible warning!

I'll be attending this weeks Delusional Hairstylists Anonymous meeting and I hope to get my new "10 days and counting" button soon.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Holy Moments

Moments of true holiness usually catch me off guard. Those moments when a rush of the Holy Spirit rises up within me and my "self" yields in acknowledgement of His presence...these moments, wherever they may occur become hallowed ground to me. Most of the time Holy Moments don't happen when or where I would expect them. I have very rarely experienced the rush of a Holy Moment in church. In no way does this imply that church isn't good enough or Godly enough, or that my church in particular isn't "entering in" enough. It also is not meant to imply that I don't engage, worship and learn during "church". And I am quite certain that many others have experienced those Holy Moments right in our sanctuary on a Sunday morning. For me though, I think that God unexpectedly reveals himself to me at the moments when I have my guard down the most. Sadly, I find myself most guarded in the whole "church" experience...I truly wish it were different for me, but right now it's not.

I have rarely experienced a Holy Moment while reading my Bible...although I have recognized the Holy Moments of others as I read about their encounters with God. This doesn't mean that reading the Bible doesn't "do it" for me or that I am not reverent in approaching God's word, etc. Simply, my intellect and understanding are usually highly engaged while reading The Word or attending church service (unless of coarse my mind is wandering and I become distracted by the thought of lunch or paying the mind wanders a lot) and I think that a lot of times when my mind is engaged, my heart is walled off....yes, I am aware that this is an issue that I should explore further.

I can't drum up a Holy Moment by sheer will. It can't be effected. It just is. This is not to say that I believe that God enters and exits my heart at different times. I know with all certainty that He is ever present to me. But there are moments that I believe that He wants me to simply feel Him with my heart, not just my head. It's like when I have the need to hug or kiss one of my children for no other reason other than feeling overflowing love for them.

I have stood on the sacred ground of a Holy Moment while lying in bed in the middle of the night as I wake with the breath knocked out of me and filling my lungs at the very same moment...the presence of God as real and true to me as my husband snoring next to me. These are the moments that produce my best, most authentic writing. Just me and my keyboard in the middle of the night...the presence of God orchestrating a string of words that form thoughts and ideas that are both mine and His melded though He were writing to me through my own fingertips.

My first Holy Moment is still so clear in my mind. I was a Freshman in college and a brand new believer. My roommate was a Christian and she owned exactly one Christian album, Keith Green. Each night when we went to bed she would put the album on the record player (yep, that long ago. We still had record players, and Keith Green was really all there was in the way of Christian music). She would press the repeat button, and we would sleep with the album playing softly over and over throughout the night. One night I was awakened in the middle of the night by my own singing. I was singing in my sleep along with the album and was so filled up with the Holy Spirit that it was over flowing. I can distinctly remember feeling like I should stop so that I didn't wake my roommate up...but I simply couldn't stop. It was like the scripture that talks about how the rocks will cry out in praise to Him if we don't. I could not control my own own soul of worship. To this day I still think it so gracious of God to wake me up that night so that I could experience that Holy Moment...I believe that it would have taken place whether I was conscious or not, but He let me in on it.

There was a time years ago when I was driving home from the grocery store and happened across a terrible car accident. Traffic had stopped as the emergency workers were in rescue mode. I remember feeling an overwhelming pressing from the Lord to pray for this person in the vehicle. I couldn't see the person, didn't know if it was a man or women, young or old, but I prayed fervently, out loud , together with my children strapped in their car seats in the back of the car while we waited for traffic to move forward. I remember becoming completely choked up and my eyes filled with tears at the privilege of being called for that very moment in time to intercede in prayer for this person who I would never even meet. I can remember the holiness of not understanding why God would call me to pray for this person at this moment...He is, after all, God...He didn't need my prayers to heal or fix or protect this person. And yet I was as sure that He was asking me to pray at that moment as I was sure of gravity. It was an undeniable Holy Moment.

And a Holy Moment while driving during a terrible rain storm so vast and loud that I couldn't even hear myself think. Anxiety built in me as I couldn't see more than a few feet in front of me. Then...sudden...complete...deafness. Total silence as I drove under a bridge. That single moment...less than a second...the absence of sound caught me off guard...surprising, thrilling, though God were completely and utterly in control and could speak a single word "Still" and calm the waves...or silence the storm...or still my heart...Imagine!

While sitting on the end of my sons bed watching him sleep when he was so young and his sweet little body only filled up about a third of the mattress I experienced another Holy Moment. He was so precious and perfect and beautiful. And I knew in that moment that I had absolutely nothing to do with his perfection. My little boy was a complete undeserved treasure handed to me simply because God loved me and wanted me to understand that love in a way that I could never have felt without understanding the desperate love that I had for my own son at that very though He were speaking to me, "This is the masterpiece that I have created just for you."...Sacred!

And this morning...another Holy Moment. I took my teenage daughter to get her hair cut and then we ran by the Christian bookstore to pick up the new CD by Casting Crowns. We have been waiting for months for this new CD. There is something about this group's music that always touches my soul at a very deep level. Chloe quickly tore open the CD case and we loaded the music so that we could listen on our drive home. And as we road God met us in our little car with the music blaring...we were camped on sacred ground for that moment in time...a Holy Moment so pure and real. I looked at Chloe and she was as breathless as I. It really had nothing to do with the music in particular. It wasn't Casting Crowns or their music or the words that were creating the moment...It was all God and only God, and the complete gift of His presence that He chose to bless us with at that moment. What an amazing experience to have with my daughter. To understand that we were experiencing the same thing at the same moment...not as mother and daughter, not as teacher and student...simply as children being loved by our Father. I took the long way home. Actually we just kept driving for 30 extra minutes, not wanting the moment to stop...not talking...not even singing...simply breathing in this Holy Moment and the presence of a God that was so real and alive that I wondered why I ever question or doubt or fear. It's as though He was speaking clearly to our hearts at that moment saying "Yes, I Am".

Sliced Bread

Can anybody tell me why sliced bread is still the benchmark we use to determine something’s bestness? As in: “It’s the best thing since sliced bread”. Is this a universal measurement or just another one of those quirky, American, patriotic, “live free or die” things? Such as, our flat refusal to adopt the metric system for anything except the 2 liter soda bottle. What’s up with that anyway? While the rest of the world has made peace with the metric system, our great and mighty nation of America has decided that we will not be bullied around by the metric Nazis. And in an act of rebellion, much like the Boston Tea Party, we will NOT convert! (National anthem quietly playing in the background). However, the use of the metric system in the soda bottle department alas, is totally unavoidable. Can you imagine Dominoes Pizza asking if, " you’d like a gallon of Coke with that extra large?" Totally unavoidable!

So, it seems, in addition to that whole metric business, we, as Americans, are just as staunch in our refusal to move past sliced bread testing. Everything seems to be tested against the veritable “sliced bread” and thus we have to our credit such horrors as the karaoke bar and the pet rock to show for ourselves. I think it’s time to raise our standards a little past sliced bread. Heaven knows we’ve made great strides since the slicing of bread made its debut back in 3A.D. (or whenever knives were invented). I submit that the bagel, or sesame seeds topping, or even toasting of the bread are better than the “sliced bread” benchmark…even the English muffin or French toast, for a little international flare, are a huge leap forward for mankind!

It’s clear to me that the only rational explanation for this lack of progress is our necessity to stay true to our national No-NASCAR-Fan-Left-Behind campaign. We can’t raise our standards too quickly lest the whole double-wide community be made to feel lesser than the sliced bread we’re using to measure with. And seriously, what is “too quickly” anyway? By gosh, we’re not even slicing our bread anymore. Go to any Italian restaurant in our fine country nowadays and we’ve reverted back to ripping a hunk off the loaf and dunking it in olive oil. So NOW how do we measure something’s “bestness”? I think we’ve worked ourselves into a bit of a stalemate (pun intended). It’s time to raise our standards!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Things I've Learned So Far (revised)

After 17 years of parenting I’ve learned a thing or two. These are some of the little tidbits that all those child-rearing books don’t teach. They are in no particular order, just some random filing system in my brain.

* NEVER, under any circumstances, no matter how much your children beg and plead, purchase a rock tumbler. This is truly a lesson learned the hard way. Rock tumblers (designed to polish ugly stones into precious gems) must run 24 hours a day for 4 weeks. The racket that these stones make as they tumble around and around and around can only be rivaled by a jack hammer drilling up your garage floor. You cannot escape the noise! Hiding the tumbler under blankets is not an option due to the fire hazard. Storing the tumbler in the garage for 4 weeks is a really bad idea (trust me) only amplifies the sound and causes the neighbors to revolt. To top it off, you have to change the water and polishing additive once a week with such precision that you could receive a Masters Degree in Chemistry for your efforts.
For the record, after 4 weeks of virtually sleepless nights (due to the noise), complaints from the home owner's association (due to the noise), and answering the question "Is it done yet?" 294 times...the first day, you will yield half a dozen ugly, rounded off, semi-polished stones resembling primitive man's first attempt at marbles. Which by the way your children will make into "lovely" handcrafted jewelry for the next 6 Mother's will be required to wear the handcrafted jewelry. My advice; go purchase some lovely polished stones (the type that you would be willing to wear in public), throw them into the tumbler and declare after a mere 8 hours that "They are done".

* Dress your children in white, It bleaches
***Stains are often a sign of fun. If you can't remove the stain, embrace the memory that created the stain...or tie-dye everything and then no one will be able to identify the stains. Note: Any new article of clothing is going to be stained in the first 15 minutes anyway.

* While not able to keep focused attention on any task for more than 5 minutes, a child can stare (without blinking) for 45 minutes into an Easy Bake Oven until the bell rings, the latch releases, and the 3 inch imitation chocolate cake is ready.

* Children learn at a surprisingly young age how to manipulate. Your job as the parent is to shape that manipulative characteristic into the gentler characteristics of persuasion, compromise and sharing. Children resistant to this reshaping will usually wind up as masters in Sales & Marketing for their career.

* Teenage daughter hormones will emerge at precisely the same time that menopausal mother hormones start kicking in. Buckle's gonna be a bumpy ride.

* At around the age of 9 boys will stop hugging their mothers. This has nothing to do with them becoming too "manly" to hug. This is about the age that they no longer consider your breasts to be "pillows". It is also the age, coincidentally that they have grown to about bust height and become extremely uncomfortable hugging you and having their head squished into your breasts. Kneel down to give them a hug and you will avoid both their awkwardness and your rejection issues.

* Broccoli makes a fantastic disciplinary weapon. As in; “If you kids don’t quit fighting I’m going to make broccoli for dinner.”

* Children innately understand the "Power of the Pack". This phenomenon is characterized by the inability of parents to establish blame when multiple children are present. Example of Power of the Pack-- Parent: "Who wrote on this wall?".... All children: "Not me". My advice: divide and conquer. Separating the pack, along with the popular candy bribery, will usually smoke out the true culprit. If blame still cannot be established punish them all (possibly with the Broccoli weapon mentioned above). Typically a Tattler will rise to the surface upon full Pack punishment.

* Place a plunger in each bathroom...AND have a good plumber on speed dial!

* Sometimes experience is a better teacher than Mom. Case in point: This past summer when we spent a day at a theme park I could not nag, beg, plead or threaten my son enough with sound advice on what he should and should not wear for this very rain day out in public. He had to learn through his own experience that white shorts become "see-through" when they get wet...Lesson learned!

* A picture from your 4 year old, created with oodles of love...and an entire roll of postage stamps "for decoration" is worth way more than the monetary value of the stamps.

* There is a learning curve involved, when boys first begin to wear cologne and girls begin to apply makeup. As they flounder around learning the "Less is more" concept, be patient and try not to banter around statements like " two-bit floozy" or "smelling like a french whore house".

* Write it all down...all those cute little things that your children say and much as you think you will never forget all those precious memories, you wont be able to remember it all. You don't need a formal journal if that's not your style. Just jot a note down on whatever piece of paper is available at the time, put a date on it and stuff it into a folder to be sorted out and made into a lovely memory book someday in the future when you have free time...probably when you move into a nursing home.

* Always let them pick out their own clothes for "picture day". In years to come they wont be able to blame you...Note: They will blame you anyway.

* All manner of "nature" will enter your home by way of young children whether on hands, in book bags, on the soles of shoes, or in pockets. Note: empty pockets before laundering...lizards don't wash and dry very well.

* My recipe for less whining and more gratitude: regular volunteer work at homeless shelters, hospitals and nursing homes. Serving others is the best way to teach them to appreciate what they have.

* Halloween candy can and will be used as currency. The richest child will be the one with the most will-power to resist eating his own loot.

* When your 6 year old child gives away her brand new, moderately expensive coat "to a little girl that didn't have one"...hold your breath...count to ten...and then praise her for her compassion and care for others. Then buy her a new coat at the local thrift store...better yet, buy 2 coats at the thrift store...just in case.

* Boys seem to lose their brains around the age of 12. Seriously! I think that their brains are sent in for an overhaul at about this age leaving an entire group of boys walking around brainless. God bless the 6th grade teachers. I can't even imagine what it would be like to try to feed knowledge into these empty craniums day in and day out. Boys at this age can't remember anything for more than 3.2 seconds. Do yourself a favor and write down any and all instructions (including the spelling of their own names) on a piece of paper and pin it to their shirts. Do not underestimate the need to write down very basic information. For example, when my son was in the brainless years I apparently failed to tell him that he needed to put the top on the super glue before carrying it around in his pant pocket...subsequently gluing his pants...and his underwear to his leg....There should be nursing homes where we could send our 12 year old boys until their brains have returned. Note:Crash helmets are highly recommended for the brainless years.

* NEVER comment on your daughter’s hair. If you state that you like her hair she will immediately run to the nearest mirror and change it. If you make a comment that suggests that her hair would look better styled differently she will burst into inconsolable tears...and it will ALWAYS be your fault. If you must step foot into this inevitable tidal wave of emotion start out with a sentence such as "How do you like your hair?"

* If you buy cute little barrettes for your little girl she will rip them out of her hair the minute you are out of sight (not even caring that she has ripped out a wad of hair along with it)...there will usually be a little boy standing by who will take the hair clip and fasten it to his upper lip, stick it up his nose or shove it in a light socket.

* 3 gifts per child at Christmas, that's all. If you make the mistake I made in loading them down with a sleigh full of cheap toys that will only work for a week, they will expect the same abundance of goods under the tree when they get older. Only these gifts will be REALLY expensive.

* Babies and toddlers will always like the box better than the present that comes in the box.

* 1) Unpackage toys 2) Supply toys with the necessary batteries 3) Repackage and gift wrap toys...all in order to prevent the frenzy that will occur on Christmas morning when they tear open their gifts but can't use them until batteries are obtained and loaded. From joy to tears in 2.8 seconds.

* I love you notes in lunch boxes do matter…even if they never mention them.

* Misunderstandings will happen. When my son was around the age of 5 my husbands grandfather passed away. The day after the funeral service a Sunday school lesson, meant to teach the children that God is in control of everything, ran amok as my son misunderstood the lesson and stated "God killed my Great-Granddaddy."....this was followed by half a dozen kindergartners crying and wailing in fear that God was going to kill their grandparents too.

* You will ALWAYS have to reprogram your children after they spend a weekend with's inevitable. Don't be surprised. Spoiling is their right as Grandparents...I think it's written in the Constitution somewhere.

* For every child that is afraid of the Tooth Fairy there will be a budding entrepreneur ready and willing to sleep with the tooth under his pillow...for a share of the profits.

* Timing is the key to training in life skills. For instance; the perfect time to teach your children to do their own laundry is when they begin to care about their appearance...and odor (when they begin to notice the opposite sex). As an added incentive, if you "accidentally" bleach their favorite shirt, or "accidentally" mix their white underwear with a red shirt the training time speeds up dramatically.

* When trying to teach adolescent children that they need deodorant EVERY day. I have found it very effective to take their very stinky clothes, on a very hot summer day and lock them in a steaming hot car for several hours. After the fermenting process is complete take your child for a ride. When they get in the car, crinkle their nose and inquire, "Phew, what's that smell?" A simple reply, "You!" every time!

* Small children can climb...anything!!!

* In reference to the above statement; NEVER leave children and scissors together in the same household. I don't care if you have them strapped to the ceiling (the scissors, not the children), frozen in a block of ice or bolted in a safe!

* Hair grows back after they find the scissors.

* Your children WILL make a mess in public restaurants. And onlookers (all young couples without children) WILL whisper quietly to each other that "Our children will NEVER act that way."

* A little healthy neglect is a good thing.

* Save for counseling, not for college.

* Just because they are legally issued a drivers licence in know way implies that they actually know how to get from point A to point B. Expect this phone call-"I think I passed the exit (35 miles back)what do I do now???

* There will come a day when a whoopee cushion is a boys most valuable possession. My advice; if you don't let him get his exuberance over fake flatulence out of his system at home he will take the show on the road and begin embarrassing the general school...AND at church! *** Usually the whoopee cushion phase is carried out during the brainless years noted above.

* Children will never see the accumulating pile of belongings on the stairs. They will scooch around it, sidestep it and even pole vault over it. But upon inquiry they will always state “I didn’t see it.”

* The time-honored, classic response "I forgot" can be particularly bothersome in child rearing. My experience is that "remembering" quickly returns as a character trait when I confiscate the Ipods, cell phones, etc. and then "forget" where I put them for a few days.

* Basic Life Skills- All children should learn to: Sew a button on, Fix a clogged toilet, Cook a few good meals, Swim, Read a map, Flush, Save for something they really want, Know the difference between a want and a need, Give directions to their home, Forgive and ask for forgiveness, Use good manners, Balance a checkbook, Ask for help.

* They still love you...even if they don't like you sometimes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cat & Mouse

This morning, while folding laundry, my beloved cat, Gracie, dropped a dead mouse at my feet. She's an INDOOR do the math!!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

One Of Those Days

Ever have one of those days when it feels like your brain is following your body about 10 paces a petulant four year old lingering on the cookie aisle? This entire week has been "one of those days".

Monday: All day, people stared at me as though I had a horn growing out of my head. Friends and family asked if I felt "OK" so often that I began to think I was ill. I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and realized that it was true. I didn't look healthy. It wasn't until my bedtime ritual of brushing the teeth, washing the face, slathering on the night cream, and the oh so painful ritual of wrinkle examination (taking me up close and personal with the bathroom mirror and it's harsh overhead lighting) that I realized the problem. I wasn't ill. I simply had only applied mascara to one eye that morning...leaving me with an odd distorted Picasso-ish expression all day.

Tuesday: Drove to the grocery store for dinner fixin's. Forgot why I was there. Bought several cans of green beans...which seems to be my standard fall-back method when I don't know what I need at the grocery store. My pantry is loaded with cans of green beans probably because of some subconscious attempt to start cooking healthier for my family...except that we don't eat canned green beans. My husband has this same propensity towards caulk. Send the man out for toilet paper, milk, flowers...pretty much anything, and he's gonna return with some more caulk. We have caulk for any application or occasion you can imagine. Personally I think we should open a road side Caulk & Green Bean stand.

Wednesday: I ordered a Big Mac in the Wendy's drive-thru.

Thursday: As I was walking through, I don't remember why I was there...a pair of hitchhiking underwear that had temporarily velcroed itself to the inside leg of my jeans, while tumbling around in the dryer the previous day, worked it's way out of the bottom of the pant leg and onto the floor. I hadn't noticed a thing (not in the morning when I put the jeans on, and not as they worked their way down my leg) until a rather friendly women walking behind me pointed it out in a very LOUD the very CROWDED store.

Friday: While on yet another shopping excursion, I stood next to my car pressing repeatedly on the remote control key to unlock the door. I had a moment of panic when I realized that I was locked out of my car and couldn't figure out how I was going to get home....HELLO...USE THE in the olden days!

Today: Apparently "one of those days" happens to me frequently. When I collected the mail from the mailbox today I found four letters that had been returned to me due to my having failed to put stamps on them when I mailed them a few weeks ago!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Monster

*******Word Picture: Me vs. Worry*******

I have a little monster. He's been with me since I was very young and has become my almost constant companion. When he was little he was rather cute, almost puppyish, all fuzzy edges and always bouncing around. His little "boo" was just a tease of the monster growl to come, and he was small enough to just stay in the corner of my room...But then he grew.

Now, he stays in my closet most of the time unless I let him out for exercise or play. The problem arises when he's let loose. After being cooped up for days at a time he goes a bit crazy and a wake of chaos swirls around the room as I frantically race to catch him and stuff him back in the closet.

Sometimes I go for long periods of time without letting him out of the closet. I can even begin to forget that he's there, until he starts to get restless and begins banging around to get my attention. Sometimes he roars like a lion, trying with force to unjail himself. Other times he purrs like a kitten trying to entice me to free him from the closet that contains him. I've tried a few times to open the door just a crack so that I could peek in on him and assure him that I am still here and have not forgotten him. This is a mistake, the minute the door handle starts moving he busts through the door and barrels out into the room. He wants to be OUT, all the to do as he pleases.

I'm sure he loves me and only wants to play. But, most of the time his "playing" is too rough for me and I wind up getting a bit bruised and scarred before I can get him reigned in and back in his closet. Lately I've been noticing that his voice is changing a bit...getting a bit deeper and louder. He seems to be growing bigger too. And with his larger size he's seems to be taking on some bully-like characteristics...he's not considerate at all and seems to take delight in ruffling my feathers. He's becoming quite unpredictable.

I know I've been feeding him more than I should lately. It's just that he's always whining that he's hungry...what can I do? I'm beginning to wonder if he's outgrowing his closet and is going to need to take up residence in the whole room soon. I don't know if there is room enough for both of us. Even now a good scolding doesn't seem to put him in his place anymore. I think maybe either he's going to have to leave or I am.

But, I'm going to have to get a bit forceful with him if I really want him to leave. He's no longer docile and he wont take "no" for an answer anymore. He's already learning how to manipulate me. He knows which buttons to push if he wants me to give in to his bad behavior. He evens knows what words to say to get me to snuggle up to him. I definitely shouldn't have been feeding him so much. I can see that now. I'm such a push-over. I guess it's true that wild things aren't supposed to be caged. They're always wild even if we try to pretend that we can tame them.

I think I'm going to have to let my monster go. I'm just concerned that he wont be able to make it on his own without me and will wind up back on my doorstep wanting to come back home.

I might need to call in reinforcements for help!

Saying "Yes"

The worst possible seat in a crowded auditorium is in the middle of the second row.

For someone prone to panic attacks, someone that would rather be invisible, someone who plans an “exit strategy” for every encounter, the middle of the second row ranks up there with being strapped into a roller coaster as the ride begins and remembering that “I hate roller coasters!”. The middle of the second row means virtually no escape. It means that almost an entire room of people can see your every move from behind. It means that no matter how great the panic attack, “escape” will require climbing over any number of people in order to get away. It means that you will suffer that panic attack; the profuse sweating, the rapid heart beat (so loud that you are sure you will disturb those sitting around you), the gasps for breath or the compulsion to clear your throat, the unbearable heat, the shaking…You will suffer that panic attack as quietly as possible so that the crowd behind you will not notice. The middle of the second row is even worse than being front and center, where you at least have the possibility of bolting if necessary. It means that the speaker is close enough to see you…to see your reactions and responses…close enough to “call on you”.

The middle of the second row is where I find myself this morning.

Timing is everything if you suffer from panic attacks. Timing can mean the difference between relative peace and emotional chaos. In any social situation I plan my timing with precision…especially at a church function. Arrival is crucial. I have to arrive early enough to pick out a safe seat (some place inconspicuous and near an exit), yet not so early that I feel awkward and exposed in an empty room. Not so early that I am required to give and receive more than the requisite “Hi, how are you?", "Fine, how are you?” And yet being late is even worse than being too early. Being late means that every eye is unavoidably on me as I scramble in the door and find the only seat left…middle of the second row.

This morning I find myself behind schedule, rushing in the door of the church just as the Bible study has begun. My vibrant friend, who has graciously waited for me in the parking lot so that I wont have to enter the building alone, drags me to the only two seats left in the room…the two smallest, most visible seats in the house…seats under the glare of a high beam spotlight, slightly raised on a platform for maximum exploitation. This, of course, is not completely accurate. The seats in the middle of the second row are no different than any others in the room. And yet moving to this seat feels to me as if I am on the death march to an electric chair. To my confident, self-assured friend this is nothing. She loves an “entrance”. To me this is excruciating exposure. I stumble over a myriad of legs, books, and purses to reach my seat. My face is blazing and I can feel the perspiration begin to roll down my back. I, of course am unfortunately wearing an extra absorbent shirt that will show every sweat spot and pit stain. I’m sure that I will begin to stink.

As I am seated the speaker, a gentle woman who shows no outward sign of irritation at our disruption ( yet in my mind I am sure she is longing to scold me) begins to pray for our morning’s study. Unexpectedly it happens, I begin to cry. I have forgotten the one crucial step in my preparation this morning. In my frantic struggle to get out the door on time…in my quest for correct timing, perfect arrival and safe seat selection I forgot to prepare my heart. I forgot to lock it away in it’s impenetrable, steel, reinforced box.

I find myself…middle of the second row…with an exposed back, exposed front and an exposed heart.

This is not going to be good. I am crying and the speaker has not even begun yet. Ever so quietly I try to rummage through my purse to find a tissue, sure that my rummaging is distracting to everyone around me, but knowing that the alternative (no tissue) will be far more distracting in the long run. No tissue! How can I be this stupid! How can I be this unprepared! This is going to be bad. I can feel it welling up in me; emotion that I can’t control. Panic begins. I HAVE to wrestle my heart back into it’s box…lock it away. I struggle to place my mind somewhere other than this room. I try to focus on the laundry or home school tasks or groceries; anything that will reign my heart in. But my heart will not relent. It has been locked up for far too long, banging against steel walls, begging for release. It will not be contained now as the Holy Spirit draws it forward.

I am poised on the edge of a spiritual game of Hide & Seek and for this one moment in time I say “Yes” to seeking. I give up the fight for this span of time and release my heart. Knowing that I will surely deal with embarrassment and shame later. Knowing that the panic attack is upon me and it’s going to be ugly. Knowing that the battle is raging. I say “Yes” to the release of my heart and “Yes” to the Lord for this one moment.

In the middle of the second row tears stream down my face, drip on my ever absorbent shirt and splash off my book. I cannot control it. This is not one of the quiet delicate cries either. This is a full-snot, sniffling, sobbing, uncontrollable-tears cry. Someone behind me hands me a tissue. I am exposed.

The Lying One begins the wrestling match with my thoughts as the speaker beckons us to read along in our bibles. I realize that I have forgotten my bible and failure tries to force it’s way forward. Surely everyone must see how unprepared I am. Shame vies for top billing in my mind…I can’t even bring myself to open my text book and expose the blank pages within…proof that I have not even attempted this weeks lesson. And yet the Lord’s reasoning pierces through the fog of panic that threatens to overtake me and reminds me that the very fact that I haven’t done this weeks lesson is why I am even here ( middle of the second row) this morning. Surely if I had opened the text and exposed this weeks lesson I would have avoided coming this morning. This topic is too close to where I live. Once again He has orchestrated what I see as my failures for my good and His Glory.

In the middle of the second row, one flimsy tissue has been reduced to a wad of lint in my shaking hand and yet the tears don’t stop. The panic attack is still quaking but the Holy Spirit is as present to me as my vibrant friend in the next seat who reaches for my hand and cries along with me. I say “Yes” once more and the Holy Spirit welcomes me back to a place that I haven’t been in a long time…in the middle of the second row.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Random Things About Me

1. I hate to cook even though I am good at it. I very rarely cook by recipe.

2. I have a freckle on the palm of my hand.

3. I am a terrible speller and grammarer.

4. Crossword puzzles relax me.

5. Beach instead of mountain (I think tan fat is prettier than white fat), but as luck would have it I've developed an allergy to most sunscreen-Curse the sunbathing gods!

6. I fear that my "self-edit" button doesn't work and that I always say too much.

7. I fell out of a 2 story window when I was 5 yrs old...landed on the driveway and only broke my arm.

8. I have a soft spot for High Point,NC firemen-you know who you are.

9. I was in a high rise design center in downtown Chicago on 9/11 with my High Point firemen.

10. I have a horrible sense of direction...I've been told that if I was a bird I'd be one of those misplaced seagulls that gets lost and ends up in a Walmart parking far from shore.

11. I love to write and have the makings of hundreds of books on little scraps of paper tucked away in nice little hiding spots. I have been published under an pen I wont tell you the name.

12. I tend to believe that I am completely forgettable and therefore have a compulsion to constantly reintroduce myself-even when I call my mother I always say"Hi mom, it's Jen". Much to my dismay I have been accused of being a "snob" on several occaisons when in fact I am just painfully shy and pitifully insecure.

13. The best summer I can remember was after my sophmore year in college when I worked as a counselor at Camp Desoto, in the mountains of Alabama.

14. I am terrified of being on stage and having people look at me...Although I can sing, any singing I have ever done has been after kicking, screaming, and finally giving in to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

15. I would take acting over singing any day-It's much easier to be someone else.

16.When my mind drifts during church I am usually trying to think of which celebrities people I know look like.

17. I'm a bit of a neat freak-I can't think with visual chaos.

18. I had brain surgery 3 years ago-Chairi Malformation Decompression...look it up.

19. I have chronic insomnia. My best writing is done in the middle of the night when I can't sleep.

20. I am technologically inept but always trying to hide it-"grin & nod" is my motto.

21. I crack myself up (usually in the middle of the night when I can't sleep and particularly funny ideas strike me to write about).

22. If I ever move to a completely new place where nobody knows me I will say that I am 58 years old (I'm actually 45, but would look amazing for my age if people thought I was 58) and that I used to weigh 300 pounds...people always think you look fabulous if they think you have lost a monumental amount of matter how much you currently weigh.

23. secret dreams: to be a profesional photographer, to own a luxury camper and spend a year traveling all over the country, to live without panic attacks or the fear of rejection .

24. One of my favorite possesions is the charm bracelet that was created for me by my friends & family for my 40th birthday. Each charm was picked out by a different friend with some significant memory between us attached to each charm.

25. I would sit in an airport to people watch even if I didn't have a flight...if that were not so weird and slightly pathetic.

26. I have left the car “warming up” in the driveway and run the gas out of it…more than once.

27. I was born in Nutley, New Jersey….I just love that name! Moved to Naples, Fl, then on to NC.

28. My first real job (other than babysitting) was during a two week period of time the summer that I was 16. I was one of those pain in the neck mall survey people in the Chapel Hill Mall…You know the ones... Yep, me and another guy had a quota to fill each day, and after hours of rejection each day we would sit down together and interview each other 6 or 7 times to polish off our stack of surveys.

29. I won a cancer awareness competition when I was 10. My parents jokingly said that if I won they would quit smoking. What they didn’t know at the time was that along with a $50 savings bond, the winner would appear on the local news…where I showed off my project and told the entire local community that my parents promised to now quit smoking!…I’m sure they wished at the time that they could have quit ME!

30. I think people that knew me "then" might be surprised by who I am now.

31. I am passionate about my relationship with my Savior but I have a slightly irreverent streak and I am just crazy enough to think that God might appreciate it. After years of trying to be “good enough”, I am constantly amazed by grace. I’m no longer ruled by “the rules”!

32. I had a collision with a fire truck... slid on ice, did a 360 and slammed the side of my car right into the bumper. The sad part is that the fire truck was stopped in the middle of Wendover, Ave. attending to another accident that had happened moments before I arrived on the scene. Worse still, 2 news crews were on the scene of the other accident and filmed my entire mishap-I made the 5 o‘clock news that night. Yep, somewhere in the archives (1987-ish) of a couple local news stations (not sure which ones) is the recording of my accident! * over $3000 damage to my little car and under $25 done to the bumper of the fire truck! Ugh!

33. Been stranded in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico in a small speed boat at night -Thank God for GPS and the towboat service.

34. Biggest accomplishment: 19 years of marriage, Biggest Fear: that my kids will wind up working in the Walmart deli because of my poor home schooling, Biggest Embarressment: my “Lee Press-on Nail” popping off and landing in a clients cup of coffee…it’s true…sad, but true! Biggest Regret: that I didn’t keep in touch with people because of my own insecurities. Proudest moment(s): my children’s baptisms and their statements of faith.

35. I think I have the exact same personality as my cat...sweet & sour.

Friday, September 4, 2009

On Impulse

I am impulsive.
No way around it, that’s just the way I roll. I know that this news-flash will not come as a surprise to some of you who have been in the vicinity when an impulse overtakes me. And yet I am aware that some of you are not familiar with my impulsive ways. You have been fooled by my calculated, coordinated fully planned persona…it’s true, I am a closet-impulsive. There I’ve said it. First step is admitting there is a problem right? Yes, I am a true impulsive. I am also a bit of a procrastinator.

Procrastination + Impulse = Danger! It’s bad enough that I have made the mistake once of trying to cut my own hair. But I have made the Delusional Hair Stylist mistake on far too many occasions. The problem comes about when I decide to let my hair grow long-ish. After waiting and waiting for the beautiful head of long tresses (that I wistfully clip out of magazines as “my new style”) to grow in...typically, on a Saturday afternoon, I will catch a glimpse of myself in a reflective surface (car window, microwave...spoon) and realize that long-ish hair is just not for me. Of course at this point there is NO possibility of a hair cut for at least 48 hours! Impulsively, I decide that a home remedy will have to do until my hair stylist is available. I rush home, pull out my all-purpose sewing/cutting a chicken apart/school project scissors and begin to hack away. Only to realize moments later that “that’s why they call them PROFESSIONALS!”. Now what??? I have church in the morning!!! Hair color should help…right? But what color? What color confidently conveys “I’ve got no sense?”…and while I’m highlighting my hair, why not put a little on my eyebrows…just so that the hair color doesn’t look fake or anything.

We’ll have to “visit” a new church tomorrow.

So what’s the problem with impulse over planning? Well, the first one would be my ever expanding waistline. I am a firm believer that skinny women are not, nor have they ever been, impulsive. It takes some die-hard stead-fastness to avoid the cookie aisle at the grocery store, or turn down the “Would you like a scone with that mocha for just an extra 75 cents?”. The problem is that all those little impulses add up to, well…LARD! The bigger problem is that you can’t just impulsively lose a few pounds any ole time…unless you’re my husband with the freakish metabolism of a humming bird and the lifelong dream of gaining 10 pounds. Can you feel my pain???

The weight issues seem to add to my impulsive need to throw out all my old clothing and start fresh with new diet plans for a new slimmer me. This impulse is always followed by deep regret and more impulse shopping…because, what am I supposed to wear??? Impulse shopping usually runs amok at my lifelong impulse (call it compulsive impulsive) to buy capri pants even though EVERY episode of “What Not To Wear” tells me that capri pants are the absolute worst fashion disaster that someone of my…uh, well, girth can make. Somehow I convince myself time and time again that cute little cropped pants will make me look...well, cute and little. Unfortunately, I always realize the error of my ways while I am out in public (at, oh say, a 10 hour, day long, excursion with tons of people that I know) when I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror or glass door and feel like I am looking at one of those circus freak-show mirrors in which I look like an Oompa-Loompa…except that everyone else in the mirror appears completely normal…and svelte!!!

OK, so aside from impulse chocolate, the reason for today’s blog brings me to my shopping experience of the moment. Any of you familiar with my habitual patterns…dare I say my raison d’être understand my Target addiction. Target is the evil heroin to my impulse shopping. My car steers on auto pilot within an 8 mile radius of this fine shopping haven. And, if I am fortunate enough to come across a Super Target…well, see you sometime next week! My senses…and impulses come alive at the Super Target. ClothingandshoesandfurnitureandhousewareandcosmeticsandgroceriesandStarbucks ALL in one convenient fluorescent lit location!!!! Why do we even need homes anymore??? Today I walked into the establishment with the head strong plan of purchasing a set of AA batteries. I had my To Do list for the day while the kids were taking a few classes. I was going to be an Achiever today. By pick-up time I would be in the Accomplished category. No longer living in the Wishing or Regretting categories.

***Let me just say that the first sign of a sure impulse shopping binge is walking in for a set of AA batteries and picking up a shopping CART at the door.

Batteries, batteries, where do they stock the batteries?..."Can I help you?"..."No, I’m just looking thanks" ( through the junior size, two-for-one panties…hm, no batteries)

The red target CLOSE-OUT shoe sale…wait a minute…aren’t those the shoes that I have been looking at ALL summer and NEVER purchased, showing great restraint and steadfast budgeting??? ON SALE??? Well, it must be a sign. Cha-ching!...Oh, I just saw the perfect shirt to go with these shoes (shopping cart wheelies trying to rearrange my direction back to Apparel). Nope, I don’t need the shirt (Need over Want... Proud of myself)…moving on…now what was I here for???

Batteries, batteries, where are th….oh, greeting cards, birthdays, presents (back to Apparel). What time is it? I forgot my watch. Maybe I need a new watch. Jewelry, Hair accessories, Hair color? (nope, already made this mistake on one impulse shopping spree)

I think my son needs a new belt…hey, sleeping bags are on sale?!!!, maybe I should just try that shirt on…well, and that pair of pants…none of my pants fit any more…gosh I’m hungry…maybe a scone…NO, FOCUS…try on those shirtS and pantS.

So, all this rundown on my brain activity brings us to the one defining impulse disaster of the day. Target fitting room, rush fitting (gotta pick up the kids in 15 minutes…that’s 4.6 minutes to try things on, 5.4 minutes to stand in line at check out, and 5 minutes to reach the school by deadline), shirt looks good, pants…won't…quite…fit…over…hips. Must make them fit!!! At which point I toppled over and threw my back out…this is seriously going to cut down on my check out time! Laying on the floor in the wheelchair access fitting room (necessary when trying clothing on in a time crunch) with the pants coaxed somewhere between knees and hips, unable to move because of writhing pain, with the knowledge that someone is going to have to help me get up, redress myself and stumble out to my car (after purchasing my new shirt) in order to make it to the school on time for pick-up!…not pretty…humbling as a matter of fact.

I’m swearing off this impulse stuff for a while…or until…wait, did someone say ice cream…oh, I think I need some batteries...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Got Adventure?

It started with low rumblings at the beginning of the summer. Rumblings like the gnawing of hunger pangs. Slowly the rumblings grew to the tremors of a mild earthquake. The quiet discontent, the restless murmurings grew throughout the summer. Not quite sure how to put it into words or put my finger on what was wrong…just a restlessness that wouldn’t let go. The murmurings in my soul of discontent began to build the closer that the days drew to my 45th birthday. 45! Wow, that’s half-way done! No escaping it…Middle-aged! And then the pieces came together this past week after the unexpected, tragic death of my cousin. My restlessness and rumblings had been signs that I have been slogging through life without really “living” for far too long. 45 yrs old, the death of a family member, and the same old same old day after day… There is more than this isn’t there??? This was the wake-up call. Life is meant to be lived…to God’s glory…to its fullest. I needed some adventure!

In May my restless soul found me discussing with a friend our need for adventure. Too many dishes, piles of laundry, homework assignments, and mindless errand running had created a desperate need in both of us to “be all that we could be”...not just mothers (although motherhood is high adventure all it's own). We began to plan a fabulous trip abroad...a true adventure to an exotic location, Morocco. A place with a foreign language and foreign food. Smells and culture that were as different from Mommywood as possible. We began to dream of the possibilities and the prospects. This would be one of those carefree, carry your belongs on your back, wandering through bazaars and taking in all the surroundings trips. No firm agenda, just simply watch as each day unfolds....Heaven for mothers caught in the rut of predictable scheduling, predictable routine, predictable lives. And yet it seems that Morocco is not to be our adventure at this time. But the need for something more is still there.

So for my 45th birthday my friend and I celebrated with a mini-adventure; what I like to believe is pre-adventure training for the time when we can really travel. Our adventure? False eye lashes! Yep, something new and a bit daring that neither of us had tried before...and as of this writing, probably never will again. The results? Picture an episode titled "Lucy & Ethel Do Eyelashes"...yep, that pretty much sums it up. Oh the regret of not setting up a camera to videotape our hijinks ahead of time.

And yet trying on the False Eyelashes was not the adventure. The real adventure is that we ventured out in public for lunch wearing the eyelashes. And no, not lunch at McDonalds. We went to a fine dining establishment...after all it was a birthday celebration. We ventured out to see if anyone would notice. To see if we could carry off the look… The false eyelash look was pitiful to say the least (the words "freak show", and "two-bit floozy" come to mind) but the fun of attempting something new…the silliness of trying to pull off this look was akin to dressing up as little girls for a tea party. It was fun, it was funny, a little daring, and the adventure was shared with a friend. I’ve decided that the mini-adventure must become a staple in my life if I am going to “Live” my days to the fullest.

So, here's what I've learned about the Mini-Adventure;
* Mini-Adventure is necessary and fundamental to life. It keeps us looking for the possibilities and hoping for the newness of the future (trust me, if you have a2 year old or a teenager you NEED hope for the future!).

* Mini-Adventure doesn't have to be costly. We didn't have to embark on an excursion around the world...merely a trip to Walmart. The key to cheap adventure is doing something that you haven't done before and giving yourself fully to the experience.

* Mini-Adventure needs to have a small element of daring to it, but only you can choose what "daring" means to you. If you regularly cook 4 course meals from European cookbooks, then learning to make a souffle is not adventure. However, if your culinary arts involve only the microwave and Poptarts then it might be adventurous to you to take a cooking class.

* Mini-Adventure need not involve anything illicit, illegal or immoral. Silly, unpredictable or immature maybe, but there is plenty of adventure to be had without going off the deep end.

* The best Mini-Adventures will be shared with friends longing for the same kind of newness in their lives. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you must only do things that all the group has never done before. It simply means; Get out of the comfort zone. Try something new. Risk a little. Dare to look silly. And enjoy each other’s company in the attempt.

* Some of the best Mini-Adventure comes about as a result of spontaneity. Look for the moments when a little adventure can be stirred in to the mix.

So, I'm making a list of Mini-Adventures that I would like to have. And I'm inviting all the slightly daring women in my life to join me. What do you wish you could do? Hot air balloon ride? Shooting a gun? Milking a cow? Auditioning for a theatrical production? Karaoke? Entering a contest? Sailing classes? Eating cake for breakfast??? Whatever it is that waits just on the cusp of your dreams...Let’s begin planning our mini-adventures together and begin to “Be all that we can be”!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Today- Get it while it lasts

Manufacturer now offering TODAY to all willing participants.

This amazing offer is free for the taking. Get it while it lasts. Supply is ample but perishable and only lasts 24 hours. The upside; This amazing offer will be available again tomorrow- for free. ***Only one per customer. Stock-piling and advance purchase are unavailable.

TODAY comes complete with it's own Set Of Possibilities. ***Possibilities are best used in their entirety within the fixed 24 hour period. They do not keep well. If not used properly Possibilities will typically default to the Regret window.

Your Possibilities package comes complete with the *Fresh Start option, *Reestablishing Relationships button, *Saying "I'm Sorry" and "I Love You" applications, *Trying Something New, and *Counting Your Blessings options, as well as the ever popular *Freedom To Change application...all designed to enhance your TODAY experience.
*** Saying "I'm Sorry" application will not run with high efficiency unless Forgiveness is first downloaded

But wait, there's more. Act now, and you will receive Living In The Moment and Being Present both included in your TODAY package at no extra charge.

***Living In The Moment may be exchanged for Regret For The Past but this is ill-advised as this alternative tends to attach the viruses Bitterness and Resentment to your TODAY program which will reduce optimal function. Being Present is often overlooked and substituted with Longing For The Future. This is a shortchange in the full use of your TODAY program and is not recommended.

TODAY- act now, supplies are dwindling fast and cannot be duplicated. Tomorrow's TODAY package, while looking similar in scope, will have an entirely new Set Of Possibilities.

TODAY...get yours today!
Manufacturer of TODAY program is not responsible for chaos brought on by misuse from end-user