Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Generations I came from

Well, here I am, sitting in a stereotypical coffee shop and writing on my blog. When did I get so predictable? This is actually my first time writing in this environment, but it is interesting to see the different demographics in the room. There's the large group in the corner with a tired looking woman breastfeeding her baby (thankfully, this act is discreetly covered with a cloth!); the multi-generational threesome of an obvious mother, daughter and grandmother, which is rather sweet; the duo of mother and daughter, but the mother looks about the same age as the daughter in her manner of dress and hair, with the exception of wisdom framing her eyes as she lectures her daughter; and lastly, the group of teenagers that are too young to drink daily stimulants such as lattes but instead sit in a group not so much conversing as playing on their phones in each other's presence.

On that subject, I really don't feel as if that much time has passed since high school until I see these kids. "These Kids!"-yep, I'm officially old. But I can't relate anymore. Who'd have thought that when my best friend and I were in grade school, we were super cool because of our oversized eye glasses! Now, kids purposefully wear these large prescriptionless specs as something of a cool pass. Is it an homage to Justin Beiber's babyface style? Next, the little initial stickers will return with a stylish vengeance and grace the lower corners of the clear lenses, too. Hey, I was very proud of my "FM" adorned glasses in third grade, or as much as one could be of wearing glasses and still hoping that Michael J Fox would someday fall in love with me even though I wore glasses. Now, big glasses are a calling card.

Another thing I can't seem to relate to is how selfish they appear to be. I mean, kids are naturally selfish, it's part of the development of the psyche, but to watch these three teenagers playing tossing games on the table with their cell phones is hard to watch. Even one of the girls is trying to knock the lone male's phone out of his hand and onto the floor as he is texting or surfing or whatever he's doing. I keep looking up from my typing and cringing because of the constant "smack," "thud" and giggling coming from their tables. Sheesh! I can't believe how they're treating their expensive phones. Let's just say that I waited until I was 36 to get an I-Phone and if it breaks, my mom isn't going to buy me another one!

It just seems so different than when I was a kid. I knew the value of a dollar and that you had to work for what you had. (Insert, "These young whippersnappers!" anywhere in here.) I knew what my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents worked for and how that made them thankful for what they had to give future generations. Our histories as families and a country are invaluable resources for guiding us to build future generations full of creativity, character and perseverance. Those traits are what I hope to inspire in my own children, too. It's a huge responsibility to be a parent and a huge opportunity also.

Now I do see the irony that probably 30 years ago, plenty of others were having these same feelings of worry, concerned about the future of the younger generation and these concerns are a natural rite of passage as a parent. But the difference is that it was a much simpler time when I was a kid, it really was! Days were filled with Beverly Cleary library books, absent of handheld computers for the young masses and more opportunities for creativity, such as toys that didn't need to be plugged in. I knew how to sit in a waiting room without a smartphone and skim a magazine or drive on a long car trip without a DVD player and only my imagination to entertain me. Like I said, a simpler time.

So as I climb down from my sudden soapbox, I sigh with the realization that my family's example of character, creativity and perseverance won't be lost as they continue to age. Because I'm here and it's my job to walk the walk that they have taught me. So I guess I'll keep walking.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Decorators, need not apply!

So do you ever have that compulsion to suddenly move the furniture from one side of the room to the other? Or sit for a long, long time on the couch just looking around the room, thinking about how you could make it better, as in a new paint color? Or on the practical side, the functionality of the furniture arrangement is just "off" and you must change it! Now I know the men out there are thinking that we women are just bored and need a project, but that's really not true. We actually are striving to put forth a vision that we see so clearly in our minds, but it takes a few (or 10) different room arrangements to finally breathe that sigh of contentment; perfect design. Believe it or not, this post is not about decorating. Actually, I'm not quite sure which direction it's going, but I'll get there eventually. (smile)

Lately, as in the past couple of weeks, I've been contemplating life choices and consequences from those choices and wondering if I always would have had the experiences I've had from the consequences of those choices. Wow! My mind's really spinning, huh?! Don't worry, although we've all had our personal challenges (some more than others), I'll refrain from any specifics on mine and try and keep this light. As many have asked before me, here's the big question: Am I where I am in life because of my choices or in spite of them? Does God just sit back and know that you're going to take the wrong path, but later will guide you back to your future? I can think of many answers, but which one justifies my mistakes? I know, I know, I said I'd keep this light!

So as I spontaneously decided to move my office/guest room around, I felt this surge of energy, even when I was cleaning up the dead rolly pollys from behind the bed (because yes, I'd know they were still there even after putting the bed back!). And even when I was lifting ridiculously heavy drawers to the other end of the room, I still felt that energy. I could move mountains with that energy. I was taking control of the room and making it function better. And from that, I was going to be more productive in my work and the energy was flowing! Thinking of it another way, I was redesigning the room. Maybe that's how we women work; after receiving a ton of criticism from others and ourselves, we always need to talk and process through our experiences. We ponder over what happened, why and how we'll get out of it and then we analyze our thoughts from every direction, go into a sort of self-analysis and gain insight. And then, we can finally function. We have then, redesigned our lives. Kind of like a room arrangement; only with less fabric.

So I was finally seeing the vision of this room and knowing how to create it; yes, through furniture arrangement! Laugh if you want, but this is a straight metaphor to my earlier questions. Sometimes it takes a few, or 10, paths to finally see a room's vision, just like in life. And boy, are there going to be mistakes and wrong decisions along the way, but eventually, you'll see it! It's kind of like Edison when he was criticized for failing 3,000 experiments before he discovered electricity; he said that he had not failed, but discovered 3,000 ways that wouldn't work. So even with all of my choices in life that I've referred to as "mistakes," I need to remind myself of what I have gained from those experiences. I have figured out 3,000 paths not to take and a whole lot of vision along the way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Am I a Bad Mother?

I find myself being pulled in a lot of different directions lately. In addition to my already tonnage of hobbies and commitments, I have a small business that I am trying to maintain and a marriage that I try to nurture. Amazingly, what seems to send me over the edge(sometimes) is the Bonnie and Clyde partnership of my two young children. The former are things that I do for myself and to keep a sense of my identity. The latter is a period of the day that I've decided is purely there to test me.

I was always prepared for children, but without closely-aged siblings of my own, I was unprepared for the natural feeding-off-of-each other that occurs between a 2 and 4 1/2 year old. "Mommy, Juice!," "Mommy, more cookies please!," "Mommy, Harrison took my doll!," "Mommy, can I ______?!" "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" These commands are usually screamed within 3 seconds of each other or just as I am sitting down to finally eat my own meal. Now, I know it's not on purpose and eventually, they'll outgrow it, but children are naturally selfish. It's official, I am a woman with a masters degree, but in my children's eyes, I am merely a housekeeper that they refer to as "Mommy."

Now comes the bad part: What if I want to be selfish? What, then? I can't tell you how many people have frowned at the idea of moms needing a break. I admit it, some days I need a break, (some days I need several!), so I'll go to a movie or try on countless unnecessary purses at the department store or even travel for a weekend visit to see friends. And it doesn't mean that I love my children any less; actually, it helps me be a better mother because I've added my own needs to the list. It's important to recharge your batteries by reading a book, writing, reflecting, expressing and allowing yourself some self discovery beyond motherhood. So does this make me a bad mother? Maybe in some people's eyes.

Don't get me wrong, I am very thankful for my babies, but moms have to give up alot when raising families. There's alot of yourself and your dreams that you put on hold and other parts of you that you worry will no longer be there once your children are grown and no longer need you. Plus, there is the common and ignorant theory out among society that every female has only the life goal of reproducing and once this is achieved, she can cook and clean to her heart's content! I'm sure some moms are aghast at my bold comments, but day in and day out of meeting everyone else's demands and maybe during a 5 day spread you'll get a tiny shred of your own needs in, it begins to wear on you!

So here I am, doing little more than venting and ready to be openly criticized for wanting just as much for myself as I do for my family. Because in the end, I'm still me and I want my little worker bees to see that "Mommy" didn't give up on herself and that I always kept trying to improve. You know, that will probably be one of the most important lessons I can teach them, to be true to themselves and always try. So yep, just like all moms, I've got alot going on, and boy, am I not perfect! But I'm a hard worker and right now I'm working hard to be a good mother, a good wife and a good dreamer.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Borders, I will miss you!

Last night I stopped by our soon-to-be closing Borders for the second time since the going out of business announcement was made a couple weeks ago. Luckily, I left the kids at home so I was able to pathetically roam the aisles with as much concentration as anyone who is losing a beloved home. Instead of writing more about how sad I am to lose this great bookstore, I am inserting a reflection I wrote about Borders back in 2005; yes, I loved and wrote about it even then. Here it is.

February 1, 2005

There’s something very collective to me when I go to Borders Bookstore. I’m sick today, with a horribly mean sore throat, and eyes that are the sizes of small green peas sitting in each socket. I feel cruddy. But I thought that I’d take advantage of my free coffee-stamped card and get myself a well-deserved soy latte. And I did.

So here I am. The moment I entered this store of contentment I thought, “There’s something very collective about this place.” Collective, meaning that I feel this store is enough of a meditation for me as compared to a yoga studio. Plus, it’s free. I’m not stuck with the $15.00/class fee of a basic yoga class. Instead, I regroup the moment I come in the Borders café and order my free drink. Yes, I realize it’s not always a free drink, but I think the occasional and optional charge of $2.69 is practical for my life’s contentment.

Like I said, I’m sick today (not that sick) and some unknown force popped this idea into my head … Borders… Free Latte…soothing to sore throat….ahhh….!

Sometimes I sit in the café or sometimes I go and find a spot in the cascade of chairs (some upholstered, some not) throughout the store. Some days, it’s magazine time, where I pick out maybe 4 or 5 magazines of different subjects (or the same) and look through each page. There are also those times when I will shamefully look through a People, which would cause my husband to shake his head in disgust if he knew. I love looking through the newly released books at the front and writing them down on my wish list. And of course, there are days when I will be on a quest for some specific subject, like building an ottoman, and I’ll plop myself down in the “Woodworking” section for a couple of hours.

Of course, when you enter into this lifestyle of constant knowledge, you must respect the books or magazines, because they are not yours to break the binding or dog-ear the pages unless you have paid for them! And I have to say that Borders’ customers have been pretty good about that.

Get this, for all of you looking for a cheap date idea, go to Borders. My husband and I will come down to Borders on a Friday or Saturday night and just hang out until closing. He’ll get a George Carlin book or something similar and giggle to his heart’s content. See, contentment again. And I will go around the store and choose at least two books that I always wanted to read but never got around to when I was here on, say, “magazine day.” So I’ll wind up with some obscure book about internal organs and maybe a knitting book. So! So there we are, sitting in the secret pair of black upholstered chairs that are there only for us. It’s been a rare day when we were foiled out of our secret place to read. Either way, we hang out, read, share excerpts from our books with each other and then, apologize for interrupting the other, and out of the corner of our eye watch the children run gleefully from the children’s book department as their mothers run after them.

And it’s a great place to entertain out-of-town guests. My parents come to town about 5 or 6 times a year and it’s pretty easy to keep them happy. First, a trip to Panera and then, an evening at Borders. Please don’t think this was my original idea. They started this pattern when I was young and single. And during that time, I often accompanied or met them in a totally different city when visiting one of my brothers. They’d talk about it with the same awe that most would have when visiting Vatican City…..”We were at Borders”……”We ate at Panera....” (Don’t worry, I’m sure that Panera will make it’s own detailed excerpt eventually.)

My parents live in a much smaller town than Kansas City, so they don’t have a Panera or Borders. But they do frequent the local bookstore there. My parents have always been readers, so it’s just natural to entertain them at Borders when they come to town – plus, they prefer it. Things have changed, though. My mom and I used to get a specialty coffee each and then look around at books. Then, we just got the coffee and sat in the café and talked. Eventually, we discovered the pot of tea for about 2 bucks and come on, isn’t a tea pot in itself just a ton of fun! Of course, I milk the free hot water refills for all they’re worth. I do feel a little guilty that my mom doesn’t get to browse the bookshelves anymore, but I think talking to your daughter (me) for a couple of hours over a pot of tea is indeed, special in itself.

My dad goes directly to the golf magazines or books and as he’s looking, I run out like a Homesteader and claim him a comfy, upholstered chair. That is my job. He’s never told me to do it or even hinted that I should. I just feel that it’s my way of taking care of him. Weird, huh? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I don’t know, I just know that the moment I left home and returned as “my little girl that moved far, far away” (Mother’s words), I’ve felt very territorial regarding my parents. I know my father could handle himself anywhere and put you in your place with his glance or his words. But I live here in the city and I don’t want either of them to have to deal with mean people, bad drivers (that’s why I always drive), getting lost (although my father has maybe gotten lost twice in his life), or having to look for an empty chair in Borders. Anyway, there have been moments when I’ve dragged a comfy chair across a good portion of the store, just so my dad could have a little more privacy. Because it’s my job. Wait a minute! Is this the infamous, “You’ll appreciate your parents more when you’re older?” Well, heaven forbid!

I’ve now finished my soy latte and I must say that I feel much better. My congestion has also loosened just as I thought it would. Maybe I’ll survive my sickness after all. Of course I owe that to my present environment of content. (Wink!)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Bedtime: 1 AM

I just attempted to explain why 10:46 PM is pretty late for my four year old to still be awake, but she's busy looking at a book that teaches different rhymes with accompanying hand movements and has no intention of "getting sleepy" anytime soon. Eventually, reasoning with her is futile and you let it go and walk away, knowing that she'll eventually put herself to sleep on her own. I'm sure I'm getting paid back for something I did to my own parents as a 4 year old. Don't we all? Sigh.
So here I am, letting my fifth cup of tea for the day brew, in hopes that it'll relieve my incredibly sore throat. I've just come off of a very busy period of about two months in which I organized a ton of things for a kids consignment sale (and my own house), entered a knitting-til-you-drop contest, joined another book club, planted a garden, went out of town alone with my kids, started summer golf and oh yea, started my own business! Sheesh, when I write all of it down, it seems ridiculous, but it all really happened. Plus, I was reminded of my lack of invincibility by getting really sick with some alien throat pathogen that sneaked in while I was killing myself in order to finish that knit-til-you-drop sweater until 4 AM every night. Seriously, what was I thinking! So things are now mercifully settling down in our house.
I'm kind of not sure what to do with myself. Usually, I'm pretty motivated in my night owl hours, but things seem to be in order around here. Could I almost be done in creating a well organized household? Sure, there are a couple of small things I could organize, but nothing that jeopardizes national security (as so many household issues do). For the past few nights I've not had much of anything to do except catch up on my DVR'd shows and nurse my sore throat. Plus, I'm kind of tired and it's only 11:13pm, which is pretty early for me. I mean, I'll start watching a movie that starts at midnight and think nothing of it. But something's changed lately. Hmmm... Yep, it may have finally happened: I'm getting old. I did just turn 35 and a HALF, you know. All downhill from here! Well, at least everything is organized.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Soggy Shredded Wheat

Okay, so here's the problem, when I started this blog I had the intention of writing on it weekly, but pair that with inspiration-busting things like nap schedules, and being the super hero all around gal that I strive to be, my inspired thoughts get thrown under the bus more often than not. A great example of this is my present situation; I'm attempting to type my thoughts and I had to stop and explain why cheerios really do taste great WITH milk and to my surprise, my nearly four year old agreed to eat this combination after a couple of years with no success. Yay, small victories! So as I'm eating my "almost" soggy shredded wheat, I'm attempting my blog entry during the crazy awake hours, with all the interruptions of my fourteen month old bringing me books to read and pretty consistent interventions of the forever cat vs. toddler fued. It's really just the cat that doesn't want the relationship, but how can she not be a temptation when she purposely sits half a foot away from my toddler? Anyway, I could go on all day about my lively household that keeps getting in the way of my blog, but really, I'm no different than any parent trying to make it all work and yet maintain alittle of themselves in the process.
So here I go, some thoughts:
Newest blog obstacle: Cat tail across keyboard and "officially" soggy shredded wheat.
Because of a household of illnesses and the holiday season, there haven't been many workouts in the past couple of months for me, but two days before the new year, my motivation returned. So last night, I took a pretty tired toddler and preschooler to the gym so I could attend a "I know I'm going to suffer, but it'll feel so good afterwards" class. Now maybe it was because it was just Christmas and that spirit was still going strong, but everyone I passed had a smile or a jolly word directed my way. It is possible that they were sympathy smiles since I had a big wet spot on my shirt from a handwashing mishap, but I don't think so. With the exception of the male gymrats that spend about as much time lifting weights as they do socializing and texting, everyone else seemed to be basking in the afterglow of Christmas. Quick observation: You ever notice that most of the guys in a gym look like chickens, because they mainly work on their upper bodies and not their legs? They'll have these greatly developed arms and shoulders but skinny little bird legs. Do they think I'll swoon at the disproportion? Maybe if they worked on their legs during the time they text and socialize, they'd even things up a bit.
What was I saying, oh yes, basking in the afterglow of Christmas! Well, I never said I was perfect.
Cereal update: Shredded Wheat Mush
A few more unrelated thoughts: I really had a great Christmas! Even though I was greatly sleep deprived from my decision to knit four sweaters by Christmas(I started in late October) and we had to spend $300 on a car repair 3 days before Christmas, we had good weather through our travels and made it safely to my parent's house in another state. And I got to see my brother's family for the first time in over a year, so I had a great time hanging out with my nephew and niece and redeeming my role as the coolest aunt in the world because of my knowledge of the Star Wars Trilogy. It wasn't all kismet, I mean, we do have two young children and they pose new challenges when traveling. There were those sleep interruptions whenever my son heard us reposition a foot under the covers and he discovered we were in the same room, so he screamed until we got him up only because we didn't want the entire household to wake. And we worried that the newly inserted tubes were not preventing his chronic ear infections and that our daughter would never get caught up on her sleep (and alleviate her daily 4pm grumpiness) because she was trying to keep up with her older cousins. But along with those normal, parental bumps came lots of laughter, relaxation and togetherness through family. I'm very lucky to have a family that knows the importance of making an effort to be together and that that time is precious and should never be taken for granted. My husband and I were additionally lucky as it was really the first year that our daughter fully understood the magic of Christmas and we got to newly see the season through her eyes. Because of this, throughout the past month, there were many moments of exchanged looks and teary eyes. Now we definitely had our additional concerns and challenges that we lost sleep over, but luckily, we had far more days of joy and togetherness. So hopefully, this blog entry isn't too disjointed, but considering as I type, my son is chasing my daughter around the very table I sit at, I'm not doing too badly.

Monday, October 4, 2010

35, and I'm in a new demographic!

So is it a coincidence that my last meal as a 34 year old is accompanied by stiffness and 5 restroom breaks(yes, count them! Five!)? That's what happened earlier this evening as I was having a lovely birthday eve dinner with a friend; I got up to use the bathroom (for the first time during dinner) and it felt as if my skin was tighter along my joints and I had to shake off the thought that I'd need baby aspirins before bed from now on, like my mother. Now, I've been dealing with arthritis in my knees and back since I was 25, so I'm used to that, but there was something extra poetic about the stiffness hitting me so hard on the eve of my 35th birthday. You see, I'm entering a new age demographic: 35-44.

With the exception of being able to run for President of the United States, 35 is alittle hard for me. I don't know, 34 didn't really bother me, but now, I'm over that hump, or really, right on top of it, 35! I feel kind of like Meg Ryan in "When Harry Met Sally," when she says, "But I'm going to be 40!" and she's only 32 in the movie and after Billy Crystal asks "When?" she says, "Someday!" And he says, "In eight years!" and she replies "'s just starring at me, like some dead end!" Yep, 35 sounds alot older than 34. And of course, my husband just added to my shock by informing me that not only am I in a new age demographic, but in radio(his field) I'm in the 35-64 age demographic! Seriously(?), I'm supposed to have a ton in common with "golden girls?!" I bought UGGS last year! I doubt there are many 58 year olds running around with knitted UGGS! But I suppose that WAS when I was 34 and in a different age demographic. ;)

So anyhow, during the last hour of my 34th year, I honored my consistent role as home improvement night owl and finished painting the half bath. Of course, I was in my cozy bathrobe with a full bladder, and emptying it did not become a priority to me until midnight. See, wisdom at 35! Anyway, I didn't mean to paint the whole bathroom at 11pm but you know how these things happen. I started with just some touch ups and then, the next thing you know, I'm standing on a stepstool with most of the bathroom done and paint running down the front of my robe and my legs. I didn't even notice until the paint that was in my hair dipped into my cleavage and the cold startled me. I can honestly say that in all the years of my painting walls, I have never spilled paint before tonight!

So there I was, naked and assessing my clean up job in the kitchen and bathroom. I only had alittle wall left to paint and wanted to get it done before I indulged myself with a first birthday snack of bread and butter (doesn't that sound good?). And really, I didn't have time to go upstairs and get another shirt that might get dirty, so I wound up at the end of my 11th hour of age 34, with a paint brush in hand and in my original birthday suit!
Hmm, now I wonder what demographic that belongs in?