Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Birthdays


I had a birthday recently. I’m fifty-two years old.

Gradually, over the years, I’ve gotten to a place where I will declare my age to any and everybody; not because I didn’t like my age before - more so, because I didn’t want a reaction or an opinion.

So why at age forty-nine, did I begin to volunteer my age and smile as I said it.

I call it “menopausal confidence.” Why not?

Although comfortable with my age, I’m not a big, “celebrate my birthday” person. I know a birthday is coming, but as it gets nearer, I’m actually oblivious to the date. Hard to believe, but I really don’t feel different on my birthday, except when I turned fifty. I planned an outing for the five of us at Great Wolf Lodge, an indoor water park - to do something memorable. Turning fifty meant I’d grown up. I was free to pick, choose, deny… whenever and whatever; to be honest about who I am and what I feel.

You might “get” what I’m talking about, or you might not. Some things in life, we can’t decide – it happens when it’s supposed to. We have to go through things. It’s a process.

I digress.

I played like a child at Great Wolf Lodge. It was a metaphor for how I want to live the next half of my life (yes, I plan to see one hundred years old). I want more fun, knowledge, and adventure added to the beautiful stillness of life that is blended in with the chaos; to absorb life, internalize it – not just have things happen around me.

At fifty two, things are good. Physically, I’m in good shape - relatively speaking. I take no meds, unless you count the allergy shots for grass, pollen, mold, etc. But, I do feel the joints and muscles not working as well as they used to. Sudden twinges and sensations come from out of the blue, a sign of things to come, I guess. My mother says she “broke down” at sixty. I’m holding out for longer.

Mentally, well…hmmmm…I’ll just attribute the lapses in the flow of verbal output to a brain that is so full of “great” thoughts and ideas, that it gets overwhelmed sometimes. How’s that for an explanation.

While some people love big parties and lots of attention on their birthday, others will not “confess” their age. I went through a period of conveniently forgetting my age when I was forty-two (which seems so young now) and had three kids, ages four and under. At the time, my stay-at-home mom peers (ages 30-35) would shout in the middle of the playground, “You’re 42! Wow! I’d have never guessed.”

Translation: Those three “babies” of yours threw me off. You’re old.

This used to happen two or three times a year, but recently, it’s lessened. Guess I’m beginning to look my age. Now, I welcome it when someone says: “Anita, you look gooood!”

“Oh, thank you!” as I smile.

I’ll take what I can get.

Do you keep your age a secret? Do you hate to see your birthday come around, or do you celebrate it?
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My post titled "Passion" received heartfelt comments and was said to be one of the most thought provoking. Read it (the comments, too) to see what comes to your mind. Add it to the post if you'd like.
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Grandparents and Snow Boots


(Warning: clicking on "Shoe Carnival" has volume.)


I’m in Shoe Carnival, desperately seeking snow boots for my two youngest daughters. The snow is predicted to arrive within hours – six to twelve inches of it. This store is my last stop. The mad rush on boots, waterproof gloves, and snow pants by the residents of the town has already occurred. There are none; well, none that are fake-fur-lined and waterproof – not even rain boots.

As I’m foraging the aisles for an alternative, a salesperson sees me and zooms in for her “aha” moment – "another parent that I can sale fake-fur-lined 'suede' boots to, and some handy-dandy waterproofing spray!"

I buy the boots - two pairs - but not the spray; already have a can at home.

In the checkout line, a couple walks up behind me. It’s my girls’ piano teacher and her husband. She runs the studio where they’ve taken lessons for years. Jean is around sixty-five, and Dennis is a little older. We’ve become friends during the nine years I’ve known them.

One of them is holding a shoe box; the other, some miscellaneous kid stuff. The boots inside are for a grandchild. We begin the “snow discussion” about the urgent need for boots so that “our” kids will be able to play in the snow.

Yes, they consider the grandkids, “their” kids. I’ve seen Jean at their school activities, having a treat with them at Barnes and Noble, and picking them up from school; just a few of the many things they do with them, and for them.

Seeing them gives me a sentimental feeling; an appreciation for grandparents. I think of my mother, and how much she loves my children. I think about her being in another city and not having weekly contact, and I feel a little envy.

So this is a tribute to you, grandparents - those of you who do so many things for your grandkids. You baby-sit. You display their pictures on your blogs and in your homes. You feel the pain when the kids have health issues. Some of you are raising the kids.

And for those who are away from the grandkids - like my mom and step-dad - you are just as appreciated for sending the birthday cards, for talking to them on the phone, for coming to visit whenever you can, and for welcoming them any and every time they visit you. Thank you.

Many blessings to you all!

Because I had my children much later than the average age, I will be an older grandparent. My prayer is that I’m healthy and still young at heart, so that I can enjoy mine, too.

Are you a grandparent?
When you were a kid, did you have a relationship with your grandparents?

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays


Santa Claus makes his annual visit to our neighborhood, sitting high up on a large fire truck. He’s led in by an official vehicle, sounding the sirens, and flashing its lights. It’s tradition for us to come out and greet him, and to socialize with the neighbors.

The firemen (all guys) are dressed in their gear, complete with the really cool hats, passing out candy canes. The kids are excited and the parents enjoy watching them. We’re all shouting, “Merry Christmas!”

It’s a good time for "Santa" jokes, too. A couple years ago, my friend said to me, “I think Santa’s had a little Botox.” Every time I think of it, I laugh. Santa was looking quite refreshed that year.

As the firemen ride away, some of them shout, “Happy Holidays!”

Because the “Merry Christmas” vs. “Happy Holidays” controversy continues, I can’t help but notice the greetings. For a split second, I think Santa is going to shout “Happy Holidays” too; to which I would have thought, “Something is wrong with this picture.”

But Santa was silent…just resigned to waving. The neighbors and I are calm this year and don’t coerce Santa into a “Ho Ho Ho,” as we usually do.

Oh, by the way, I heard “Happy Hanukah” for the first time while shopping - from a clerk to a customer. I thought it was very nice.

“Happy Holidays” is here to stay. It’s a perfectly cheerful greeting and it covers all bases, but let’s not get rid of “Merry Christmas.” A little common sense will let you know when to say it; especially if I’m wearing red and green, and a Santa hat on my head.

NOT! :)
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What do you think about the "holiday greetings" issue?
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The previous post, "Passion," has very interesting comments. Consider reading it and adding yours.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Passion

I was watching some inspirational TV while ironing, when I heard the word “passion,” and how we’re created with this innate desire. Whether you believe it’s a gift from God, or something else, it’s wonderful to discover what it is.

Why do some people "not" know what theirs is; or if they do, why don’t they experience it?

One of my passions is writing. When I think back to my childhood days, I wrote in journals, and I wrote letters to my cousins in Michigan. I loved it when they wrote back.

Another hint of my writing passion (before I could define it), was my declaration, “I can write a book on that” every time something was discussed that I had lots of experience with, or on something that I’ve seen a lot of in my life.

It took years before I actually started “a book.” The birthdays came and went. The number of my years on earth increased, while the number of years I have left, decreased.

When was I going to fulfill my passion?

I started my manuscript on being a stay-at-home mom some years ago; interviewed several moms, organized it, and began the quest for publication. But on the way to the bestseller’s list, I was sidetracked by household management duties, volunteering, and summertime fun with my family…until I discovered…blogging!

I wrote a post titled, “Why I Blog," but I didn’t connect writing with being a gift. My light bulb moment suggested that I write/blog more about it.

My horseback riding teacher had me and the girls, and our husbands, over for a Christmas luncheon. Betsy prepared a delicious meal, set a beautiful table, and had Christmas decorations in all the right places. The atmosphere was worthy of being featured on the Food Network.

Parties, entertaining, cooking...she loves it!

When I complimented her, she explained that it’s her way of creating, “like artwork,” she says.

There have been times when I didn't get it, but that day, when I looked into her beautiful face glowing with pride, I thought, "this is her gift." She said, "Everybody has one." I pondered for a split second, and accepted that mine is writing; that I can claim the “writer” title without being a great writer. "Betsy," I said, "Given a simple piece of paper and a pencil, I can put something on it – always." She told me that she can’t do that, and I know others who feel as she does.

She smiled and said, “That’s your gift, Anita; your creativity, your passion.”

What’s your passion?
I’ve heard it said that you know what it is, because you crave it and you do it even when you're not paid.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Phone


A very good friend of mine has a “first” grandbaby, born six weeks ago, and I have not talked to her yet. She lives in Maryland, but that’s no excuse, because there’s always “the phone.”

I’ve lived in many cities across three states, been employed at various places from ages fifteen through thirty-six, been a member of two churches, and now have kids at two schools. In all these places, I’ve made new friends. Many have dropped by the wayside; many, I still have. And then there are the relatives…lots of them.

How do I keep in touch!

I think I’m considered a “people person” because I can talk to almost anyone; occasionally, for long periods of time.

The problem: there is only twenty-four hours in a day. I enjoy talking, but my other interests and obligations take up significant amounts of time.

So what do I do?

When I’m home, I answer most recognizable calls, but when voice messages are left, I take days to return the call – sometimes a week or two. Ouch. I’m guilty.

Of course, I always answer phone calls from my husband…I do! But, we’ve discovered email works for us too, therefore, we don’t take up too much of each others time during the fleeting day. (My second shift starts at 2:45 when darling daughter # 3 gets off the school bus and I have to be ready to talk to her.)

Sometimes you gotta talk. It’s a girl thing. I have two close friends that are my “let me run this by ya" friends. We have to be available to each other for venting, favors, questions, and just, “how ya doin’ today.”

Oops…forgot about Mom. We talk once or twice a week. Gotta hear the latest gossip and get an update on all the latest ailments that she and my stepfather are having; plus she has to be my “mom” and make sure I’m “livin' right.”

When my phone rings in the evening, it’s typically a “quick” call from an over-worked mother. Other times, it’s someone who doesn’t have kids or their kids are gone. It’s their “free” time.

Some tell me to call back when the kids are settled, but by that time, I’m talked-out for the day.

Sooo…things probably won’t change for awhile. Just know that I love talking to you – just not right now.
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Just kidding. :)

Most of you probably have limitations on your phone time, too – or do you? What’s your phone time modus operandi?

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Activities


It’s piano recital day. The middle child (11) and the youngest child (9) are performing at 11:15. Not bad. It’s Saturday; we have time to get dressed and eat without rushing.

Middle child already has her outfit planned; youngest child does not. This requires help from the mommy, who goes to her closet to make a suggestion, only to find that all the fall/winter dressy pants and skirts are gone.

“Oh, that’s right…I gave them all away,” the mommy remembers.

(See post titled, “Decluttering #1”)

The mommy and youngest child go to middle child’s closet where they find a skirt. Youngest child has to wear tights (that are more like hose) and gets upset because of the sagging crotch. The mommy and middle child tell her how to pull up the tights, but youngest child is resisting. A battle of the wills ensues and the mommy wins.

Later, the mommy finds youngest child sprawled on the living room floor; no audio and no kicking (she’s wise) – just lying there sending the mommy’s blood pressure up higher.

The husband/daddy drives to the church while the mommy tries to calm down. Her arm and shoulder feel a little achy. She wonders if she’s having a heart attack or a stroke, but it occurs to her that it’s her over-used blogging arm, which extends to the hand that maneuvers the mouse.

“That’s a relief,” thought the mommy.

Middle child and youngest child perform fairly well.

After their performances, youngest child is noticeably relaxed. The mommy wonders if she was nervous this morning before the recital. All three of her kids have done recitals for years – sometimes they’re excited and sometimes they’re not.

It makes the mommy question their interest in playing the piano and their other present and future activities. Oldest child is loving sports and is practicing daily from four until six o’clock. The husband/daddy is worried that she's not getting enough sleep because she's up late doing homework, and he's wondering if it is a good idea to do sports the entire nine months of school. The mommy thinks it is a test of mental and physical toughness.

A close friend of the mommy has a boy and a girl who have been involved in several activities and have suddenly lost interest in most. The two friends have discussed many things concerning activities, such as: the possibility of being over-scheduled, the passions and interests of the kids, the activities insisted on by the parents, the kids’ talents, letting them quit something or making them continue, academic pursuits, health, exhaustion, down time, volunteering, grades, etc. - a lot to weigh.

The piano lessons are considered part of the kids’ education and will be continued because the mommy and husband/daddy feel that it is good for them. They will assess each new opportunity or possible change as it comes along.

Do you let your child/children decide their activities, or do you decide, or is it a joint decision? I’d love to hear about some of the things they do, and I think others would too. :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Blogging Tip #1

My first post was on December 2, 2008. Since then, I’ve fumbled my way through learning a few gadgets and tools that have made it better and easier to communicate with my followers and readers.

Still, I have so many unanswered questions, and I know there are more possibilities out there that I haven’t even imagined that will provide me with more blogging fun.

My question for this post: How did you decide “the look” of your blog background and template?

Actually, I have more questions.

And: HOW DID YOU GET THE THOUGHT FROM YOUR HEAD TO THE BLOG ? ? ?

I Googled “blog backgrounds” and “blog templates” and now I have a slight headache. And, my REALLY slow computer is not helping.

Let’s see…I found “The Cutest Blog on the Block.”
I found a “Photoshop” tutorial.
I found “Hot Bliggity Blog.”
I found “Scrap My Blog.”
I found “Blogger Templates.”

How do I decide?

Is it all safe to use?

And, how do you all get those big, beautiful photos on your home page?

I’d been thinking about a possible background change for a while, when one day, I pop in to visit my blogging pal, Menopausal New Mom, and there’s her new colorful caricature blog expressing a piece of her life. It made me smile.

I wondered, “Is it time for me to make a change?”

So, I asked her (blogged her) to find out how she’d done it. She replied, "Look for Mary’s button on my page."

“Button?”

“What’s that?”

After scanning “her page” for two minutes, I see it – right there in front of my face. It’s “Blog Rock by Mary.”

I head over to her sight.

But what do I ask for? Hmmmm…

So, until I make up my mind, I’ve decided to change to plain ol’ Blogger supplied Minima Lefty. Oddly, I like it.

How does a blog design impact your decision to visit and read the blog?
And...I'm all ears to "hear" what you used to create your blog "look."
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Decluttering #1


The decluttering process continues.

To describe where I am, I’ll just say that I’m on a never-ending road of “Taking two steps forward, and one step backwards.”

The last time I spoke on this subject was in April 2009, in my post titled, Collector or Packrat. It was the beginning of “journaling” my recognition of having too much stuff.

Collecting stuff and sentimental attachments to stuff have been a lifelong trait of my personality, but I realize now, that the sight of it takes up too much valuable space in my brain - a brain that has gotten older and more mature, and that does not want to waste time or energy.

So, once again, I start.
I gather the troops (my three daughters) for closet cleaning. Each of them has a spacious closet filled with clothes…and you’re right…they don’t even wear half of what’s there.

The reason for keeping the clothes is to save from the first child for the second, and to save from the second to the third.

It’s not working.

The oldest child is tall. The middle child is short. The youngest child is tall, but not interested in waiting to grow into clothes from her oldest sister.

The remedy - hold the kids hostage in their rooms while asking about each item of clothing.

I am very pleased to say that we have packed fifteen bags of clothes to donate.

Where did we get all these clothes?

More than half the clothes are from my friend/neighbor, and some are from the girls’ cousin, Michelle. When we get a surprise drop-off of clothes, my girls dump out the bags and begin staking their claim on each item of clothing. I’m glad they still appreciate the generosity of others.

When the next drop-off comes, we’ll immediately pack what we can’t use.

(I should write that one hundred times on lined paper, like I had to do in elementary school as a punishment.)

There are still more clothes to donate. As I write this, I’m making a decision to be finished with packing unused clothes - THIS WEEK!

Check back with me.

Are you saving clothes? Do you still have that “almost new” jacket from 1990 – waiting for it to be stylish again? Or maybe it’s the abundance of clothes that are too little that you’re waiting to fit into again? Hmmmm…
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holiday Weight


I stepped on the scale this morning to see that I am four tenths of a pound from my maximum, self-imposed weight limit.

I repeat – four tenths of a pound, NOT four pounds. I think I’m in trouble.

It’s that time of year; my daughter’s birthday cake stares at me every time I enter the kitchen. “Take a slice Anita, or even just a pinch” it says.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving; more cakes and pies. But even if I hold back on the sweets - the bread, gravy, sweet potatoes, potato salad, cranberry sauce, and macaroni and cheese at mom's house (yes, we’re southerners) will take its toll.

Thanksgiving is one day - yes - but leftovers will last a few more days, at which point, the Christmas cookies will begin to appear at every venue. Not even my favorite sweet thing, but still, I’ll have “one” everywhere I go.

And then there are the obligatory nuts, candies, and caramel popcorn bought from the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts two months ago, that have been timed just right to land at the door step this month.

How many parties this month, and next? So far, two for me, but surely there’ll be more gatherings, hence, more temptations.

I’m not a heavy person - partly due to genetics; mostly due to exercise, pulling myself away from the table, watching the scale, and vanity. (Just kidding…I’m not vain…really.) But also, I’m definitely not exempt from the battle of the bulge, the evidence being: two sizes of clothes in my closet, and photographs that don’t lie.

Maybe this will be the year that I won’t find myself squeezing into my pants by Christmas, and desperately trying to run it off in January. If I can continue to run (or walk) in the cold, windy, cloudy, damp, and/or rainy weather, I might emerge victoriously. Or, I can try “again” to exercise indoors, which is going to be hard to do because my treadmill has issues and the exercise shows on TV are too easy to walk away from. Hmmmm...

Okay…think positive...cut back on the cookies…exercise….I’ve said it…that’s my plan…I can do it!

Ha Ha
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

What’s your plan? :)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Moms and Friends on the Tennis Court


My last child went to all-day kindergarten in 2005. I’d spent ten years taking care of children around the clock. At least one of my girls was always with me; mostly while running errands or doing kiddie activities.

As we drove in and out of our neighborhood, my eyes glanced over to the tennis courts. Women were dressed in their little skirts and visors, swinging rackets and having fun.

“Who were these women?”

“Where were their kids?”

While I wanted to be with my kids, I was a little envious.

Now, I’m one of these women. I’ve been taking tennis lessons for a year, but today I played in my first tennis tournament, a charitable event organized by my tennis teacher. She called it, “Tennis for Turkeys.”

As I prepared to go, I thought about the day being Friday, a weekday, and how most people are going to their jobs. It was a strange feeling, “People are going to work and I’m off to play tennis.”

Some of those people love their jobs, but many don’t. Others are spending the day seeking employment. I wonder what they think when they see people on the tennis courts, biking, etc., as I once thought - wondering how they had the time and “took” the time. (Can you tell I’m from a working class family? :) )

I have this thought sometimes, because people tell me how “lucky” I am.

I don’t feel “lucky.” The path to the tennis court has been long and hard. I feel blessed because I “can” take time for leisure – a necessity for my sanity.

Like everyone, I have my good days; I have my not-so-good days. I have periods of stress and periods of smooth sailing. Today is a good day.

I encourage everyone to do your best, whatever it is – work hard, play hard!

Are you doing the WORK and PLAY of your choice?
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

TV Commercials

The girls and I are sitting at the kitchen island eating dinner. (Husband/Daddy is at work.) We’re having fun trying to solve puzzles on Wheel of Fortune. Commercial comes on: Lisa Ling reports on porn and erotica. Meet the world’s most famous porn star; on the next Oprah!”

Commercial during ABC World News: Cialis, for treatment of erectile dysfunction – so you can be ready anytime the moment is right” as a couple begins to caress one another. And let’s not forget the possible side effects: "...a decrease in vision or an erection lasting more than four hours."

The kids get to learn current events AND how to maintain an erection.

Tell me please…Am I the only one who notices how commercials with sexual content are blasted on TV during family shows like The Wheel? We’ve seen promotions for shows like Grey’s Anatomy, showing couples beginning to tear each others clothes off - right in the middle of Vanna turning the letter lights on and our next forkful of macaroni and cheese?

"What’s happened to me? I think I’m a prude."

"Oh, I know! I have three young, impressionable children. Gee."

So what might I do when the adult commercial comes on?

1. I start a conversation to distract the kids from the TV, which is awkward because they know what I’m doing.
2. I hit the mute button on the remote control if I can grab it fast enough, which appears to be a desperate act.
3. I steal one of President Obama’s recent phrases and have a “teachable moment” with my kids, which bugs me to have to do when I’m caught off guard by the commercial or promotion.

I know families that don't allow their children to watch TV. I wonder why? Not all are the stereotype that you may have in mind. People make the decision for various reasons, one of which is to promote creativity in their children.

Watching TV during dinner is not a daily habit, but we occasionally enjoy competing during Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. Is it time to give up watching these shows and the news so that “I” can steer my kids in the direction of a good and healthy sex life instead of Oprah, Cialis, and Grey’s Anatomy advertisements and commercials doing it for me?

What do you think about commercials promoting products or shows?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Barbershop Harmony


“Come on kids – we’re going to see a show choir today!”

This is the best description I can give them in an attempt to muster up some enthusiasm for a “cultural” outing.

We enter the building to see three “older” women at a table outside the theater doors. Hmmmm… Something feels different, but I can’t quite determine what it is. The women are smiling and very welcoming as I hunt for money in my wallet. It looks as if I am short on cash. One woman has a look of concern on her face, as if she thinks I’m going to turn around and leave. But, I find the money, and I can almost read her mind, “Got’em!” (I realize that it probably wasn’t just the income she was concerned about, but more than likely, she really wanted my kids and me to see the show.)

We walk through the theater doors. It’s very quiet. What’s missing? I don’t hear the sound of loud children. But what I do notice from the rear is: white hair…lots of it. There’s gray hair, too; heavily sprayed hair, bald spots, sport coats, and people sunk down in their chairs.

“It’s old people!”
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"Okay...not 'everyone' is old."

Mama Duck (me) and my three Ducklings walk down a center aisle to the front, cross over to the right, and come back up to the third row. I am ready to be entertained! My kids… well, I’m a little leery.

“Pleeeeease be entertaining for them,” I say to myself.

Four men come out dressed in baseball jerseys. I peek at my three girls. They have that “deer caught in the headlights” look. The “mature” barbershop quartet begin singing a cappella. I’m still skeptical; can my girls make it through the whole show - awake?

The next act is the women’s choir. They’re dressed in baseball jerseys, too. Many of them have the sweet, cushiony grandma look, but others are in their forties and fifties; a couple of them may be in their thirties.

The act includes props, hand movements, swaying, and tapping. The different singing voices is producing beautiful harmony. Now, my kids’ faces have a relaxed countenance. We all settle into the rest of the show which includes five women quartets, all recent competitors in Sweet Adeline.

In addition to the display of talented singers, we are entertained by their comedic talent, too. The kids are soaking in the “blonde” jokes, surely to be repeated in the car on the way home.

I’m glad we did this, thanks to my friend Karen who is in the chorus. The kids have learned something new, and I have, too. It’s been a loooong time since I’ve been in an audience watching and listening to a cappella.

What shall we do next? Hmmmm…

Have you (or you and your family) been somewhere and found yourself surprised at how much you enjoyed it? What did you do?
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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oprah

Like her, love her, dislike her, hate her, don’t care…where do you fit in this array of emotions?

I can’t remember when I began to watch The Oprah Winfrey Show. It started in 1983, four years into my official career as a computer programmer, which means I was not a daily viewer. Maybe I discovered her on a “sick day” in one of the early years of her show. Whenever it was, she got my attention, and I've been watching on and off since.

The reactions to my acknowledgment of watching the show have varied. If “Oprah” comes up in a conversation, the people who don’t like her because of her media power and influence will typically make a quick, strong, negative statement and then change the subject.

The people who looovvvvveee her assume I looovvvvveee her too, will smile with delight, and immediately talk about one of Oprah’s most popular shows, or about her philanthropic deeds.

Others see the show once in a while and will discuss it freely, but I can tell there’s no lasting impression of Oprah or her show and that they don’t care if I watch it or not.

Some of my Christian friends (I’m a Christian, too) are disappointed to know I watch the show. When Oprah was promoting Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth, and leading the related online class; “Oooooooo” I needed a good tap on my hand for that! :) (By the way, I didn't watch or participate.)

Don’t know where I’m going with this, but it’s probably a little “soap box” about why I watch Oprah.

The simple answer is: I’m informed or entertained by many of her shows. If I’m home to turn on the TV and see a show that interests me, I watch; if not, I turn it off. I either agree with the content of the show, or I don’t.

A talk show and news junkie since Merv Griffin, Donahue, and the morning shows, I was a prime target for Oprah's show when she started. My interests have changed as I’ve matured, which coincides with my interest in particular Oprah shows. Books, make-overs, health, and give-away shows have been my favorites. While the latest “crime,” “abuse,” or “disaster” show saddens me, I usually watch. The celebrity shows - I can take or leave, and the “spiritual” shows don’t interest me at all. I pass on the “adult content” shows, too, because my kids are usually in and out of my office (the kitchen), the location of my TV viewing.

Lately, I haven’t watched because the show time is earlier, just when my older kids are coming home from school. I talk to them and usually forget to turn on the TV to see who she has on.

I’m familiar with Oprah’s statement: "Stay-at-home moms have the hardest job on the planet." She knows who’s watching. We make up much of her viewership and the shows are tailored towards us, so if we decide to watch, well…go for it.

I admire Oprah’s talent, her skill at entrepreneurship, and her giving spirit, and I wish her well.

Do you watch Oprah? Whether you do or not, how do you feel about her or her show? If you do watch, which type shows are your favorites?

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Michelle Obama


warning: clicking on some of the links have volume - mute if necessary
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Today, Sesame Street celebrated its 4oth birthday show with an appearance of the First Lady, Michelle Obama. The promotions of the show were seen by my eleven year old daughter, Kelly, who promptly put it into her mental database. She knew she’d be able to watch because she’s been ill and recuperating from a virus. (Was it the infamous Swine Flu/H1N1?)

Her interest was low keyed, yet it was obvious to me that she really wanted to see the show – a show that she hasn’t watched in years. She turned on PBS at 8 a.m. looking for it. It wasn’t on. She turned back to the channel again at 8:30 a.m. - still not on. Noticing a pattern, I went to pbskids.org, found the schedule, and told her the time of the show - 10 a.m.

At 9:58, she said, “It’s almost time, Mommy.”

I hadn’t said that I would watch with Kelly, but she’d assumed I would. So, I pulled up the ottoman close to the sofa, put my feet up, and pulled part of her blanket around me, where together we snuggled up to watch Sesame Street.

Kelly and I pointed out all the Sesame Street changes as we watched. The theme song is a bit jazzy now, and Burt and Ernie were in claymation. We noticed Elmo’s lack of ears – any thoughts that would keep us patient for the emergence of Michelle Obama.

Just as my head fell over into a nod, Kelly announced, “There she is Mommy!” And there she was, surrounded by the Sesame Street monsters. We watched as she talked to the furry characters, and real kids too, about planting vegetable seeds. Three minutes later, it was over; she was gone.

Kelly looked at me and exclaimed, “That was it? Vegetables? That’s what she always talks about!”

“Well Kelly…it 'was' interesting...”

Slightly disappointed, she replied, “Yeah.”

Since Michelle Obama and her girls came on the scene, my daughters have been quite fascinated with them.

“Mommy, I think Mallory looks like Sasha.”

Malia is only eleven – she’s tall!”

And so on…

Because the Obama kids are not on TV much, my daughters are limited in how much they can talk about them. I’m sure Kelly was hoping that they would’ve been on the show today with their mom.

I kinda like this growing interest my children have in the wife and children of the President. It’s a nice addition to Miley Cyrus.

Who excites your kid(s)? Who excites you? :)

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Monday, November 9, 2009

My Sudoku Addiction

I discovered Sudoku in 2005. My niece had a puzzle book during our beach vacation with her family. As she sat at the dining room table working the puzzle, my eyes zoomed in on the page of numbers, and it was love at first sight.

warning: clicking on ColorKu has volume
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You would think that I’m a math geek, but I’m not in that particular intellectual group of people; I just like puzzles – jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles, and fill-in puzzles (words and numbers). My latest discoveries are ColorKu and Numbrix (in the Sunday newspaper insert-Parade magazine, and online) – love both games!

Sometimes I wonder what kind of mind craves this type of entertainment. I’m nowhere near expertise; actually I’m not even very good, although I think I can be if I spend at least five hours every day playing. My family and home would suffer, like, our bills may not get paid or we may not have clean clothes, but at least I would be able to claim being a master at SOMETHING!

My eleven year old daughter enjoys Soduko, too, and all the other puzzles I mentioned. If she has time for her ol’ mama, she’ll join me as I sit concentrating and contemplating my next move or entry. Together, we’ll squeal with delight as we figure out each move toward our goal.

My nine year old daughter is headed in the same direction. She likes Sudoku and ColorKu. On the other hand, my thirteen year old daughter will stop and watch for thirty seconds, if that, and move on. But…there is hope! She’s helped us solve a ColorKu puzzle a few times. She said, “I think I may like this. It doesn’t have all those numbers all over it.”

“That’s my girl!”

Why my brain is wired to like puzzles, I don’t know. Some people love to shop…I don’t. Some people love creating by cooking – I don’t. Some people love politics – I don’t. We’re all pieces of a puzzle and when we put all the unique pieces together representing our interests and talents, we have a colorful and fascinating picture!

What is your addiction(s)? Does it help (or hurt) your mental and/or physical state? I already know what some of you will say…blogging! :)
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Friday, November 6, 2009

A Date with My Daughter

The choice was hers. We went to the movie theater and saw “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.”

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It’s the first time Mallory and I go to a movie together…just the two of us…no big sisters. Before we leave the house, she seems hesitant.

“Do you want to go?” she asks her sister Kelly.

Kelly answers, “nope.”

Mallory is disappointed. I decide to be “the good mommy” and tell her that she can invite a friend.

It’s not meant to be – the friend is not home.

“Do you still want to go; just the two of us”?

She smiled, “Yes, I do.”

The thought of having her mommy to herself “clicks.”

* * * * * * * * * *

The movie is animated. I settle in for my typical lukewarm feeling.

But something’s happening. I’m beginning to enjoy the movie, and it’s only the beginning. I’m laughing….I’m laughing again!

(If you have a food obsession, go see this movie that’s based on a book with the same title.)

The food begins to rain from the sky. My first reaction is, “Oh, yum,” but now the characters are so gluttonous and it’s not a pretty picture. But…Mallory and I still decide to finish sharing popcorn and a soda.
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* * * * * * * * * *

It’s not often that I do something with only one of my children. Sure, I’m alone with one of them when I’m taking her from one place to another, but a planned date is rare. Some time ago, a friend suggested that each of my children have a date with me. She gave a few reasons, one being, to make them feel special. It sounded good; I was sold. I put it on my list of things to do.

But, I didn’t do it. The kids don’t seem to mind. They never say, “Oh, just me and you Mommy.”

(Well, okay...maybe when they want to go shopping. Each one thinks I’ll buy more if it’s just the two of us.)

Are they lacking? Am I missing signs?

We’re always so “busy.” (There’s that word again.) How do you do that if you have five kids…or seven kids?

I enjoyed my date with Mallory, but I’m not yet feeling that I owe them all an exclusive date on a regular basis. Our family bond seems to be intact.

Although, sometimes, I think of parents with one child and how they don’t miss a beat with anything their child is involved in. “One and done” has it advantages.

I love my three girls and I know you love your child/children too. Regardless of how many we have – to steal a phrase from Maya Angelou, “We’re all doing the best we know how to do.”

Do you plan “dates” with each of your children? If you have one child, do you feel that you have to have a special date, even though you have “just the two of us” time very often? Do you feel that kids need this kind of attention?
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Price of a "Day Off"


This is what happens when the chief maid and manager has a quality-time day with her daughter, gets a slight stomach issue, and goes to bed early.

She wakes up to a kitchen sink filled with dirty dishes and lots of stuff on the counters. An hour later, the disaster area has doubled by the going-to-school breakfast and lunch-prep routine. The three children leave for school, the husband leaves a little earlier than usual to drop off the car for a repair, and the mom goes out to walk the dog.

Upon returning, she opens the garage door to the kitchen - immediate SHOCK and reality.

“Ahhhhhhhhhh…!”

She has to clean up this mess.
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* * * * * * * * * * *

The three children were out of school because of Election Day. The mother is successful in getting them to complete their homework, practice piano, and complete a chore or two. Afterwards, she decides to spend “quality time” with them. Surprisingly, only the youngest child is interested.

The mom let the child decide the activity – a movie. Afterwards, they go to the polling site to vote for the state’s governor, and then to the grocery store. The husband/dad is home for dinner; they all eat, and everyone leaves the kitchen in search of entertainment.

Usually, the mom/maid/manager will blockade the kitchen’s exit and command kitchen clean up duties, but she was feeling sluggish (probably from too much buttered popcorn at the theater), and left the site as well. Eventually, she went upstairs, followed by the youngest child seeking “reading time.” After a chapter, she dozed off, not caring what the natives were doing or about the state of the kitchen. Her last memory was of getting some good night kisses, including one from the dog.

Why does the weekend or a day off cause the mom/maid/manager to forgo all her management skills? (By the way, a mid-week day off makes it feel like there are two Mondays in the week.) She knows the consequences, but still, she slacks on the job. I guess she just doesn't want to be a maid and manager twenty-four hours a day.

Fortunately, the husband appreciates her and understands that doing something enjoyable while the kids are at school parlays into a mom who can become a talker/listener, driver, tutor, cook, maid, and good companion, starting at 2:45 p.m. The oblivious children appreciate her too.

It took a few years for the mom to decide how her day is spent - without feeling guilt. Right now, she’s sitting at the computer…blogging. lol


That's better
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How does your routine change when you, the spouse, or the kid(s) have a day off?
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Monday, November 2, 2009

American Girl


Why I like American Girl dolls:

- My girls love to play with the dolls.
- The eighteen inch dolls are well made and appealing.
- There are dolls that represent different historical periods dating from 1764 to 1974.
-The dolls represent different racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds with hair color and texture, eye color and skin tone to match the features of their genetic heritage.
-There are contemporary dolls, too, some of which can be ordered with a choice of skin, eye, and hair color/texture – a “Just Like You” doll.
-Each doll comes with a book

Why I like American Girl books:

-There are historical fiction books for each historical character.
-The books are realistic and educational.
-The subject matter of the books is age appropriate.
-There are books for each contemporary doll character.
-There are guide books, game books, craft books, grooming books, etc. written to interest tweens.
-The books can be ordered, but are also available in book stores, public libraries, and school libraries.
-There is an American Girl magazine that contains many articles that interest young girls and tweens.

Why my girls like American Girl dolls (in their words):

-They are fun to play with.
-I like to brush and style the hair; with braids, bows, and ponytails.
-I pretend they are people. They talk, go to school, and go on vacation.
-I dress them in pajamas and then dress them again when they get up.
-We have fashion shows.

Why my girls like American Girl books (in their words):

-The books are easy to read.
-The books are good.
-It was funny and we laughed a lot when Mommy kept reading a character in Kaya’s story as Brown Bear instead of Brown Deer.
-We learned about things like the Great Depression and the Nez Perce tribe of Native Americans.

American Girl entered our home in 2002, when Aunt Cheryl gave Hayley “Meet Addy,” and it’s been a snowball effect since then. Because I have three daughters who have asked for a doll at birthday time and for Christmas, and because Grandma has indulged them as well, we have more dolls than I care to admit.

I’m guessing that most families do not have “lots” of American Girl dolls. At ninety-five dollars, it is considered a toy for “the rich” – a relative term. And, I realize that a twenty dollar doll can be just as enjoyable.

As with anything highly successful and popular, American Girl has had its share of controversy. When it was acquired by Mattel, I heard a few gripes, and now it has a homeless doll, “Gwen,” that’s getting some criticism.

The dolls have been positive for my girls; lest twenty years from now they end up on the psychiatrist’s sofa with some deep-rooted problem that stems from having too many American Girls dolls.

By 2013, we will most likely have bought our last American Girl doll; and then it’ll be something else.

Are you familiar with American Girl dolls, books and stores? What is your opinion: positive, negative, indifferent?

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Menopause and Hot Flashes

My fan...less than 2 dollars at Pier One Imports
It works wonders
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Hey Girls,

Hate to tell you this, but it’s inevitable; your period is not going to last forever. Mine left, came back, left, came back, left for fourteen months, and came back again! This time I think it’s gone for good.

My third and last child arrived when I was forty-two years old. Ovulation continued to occur monthly until I was forty-five. During the next year, my signs of ovulation became milder and questionable. “I’m beginning menopause,” I thought. My mother told me her last period was at age forty-six (although she had a surprise two years later, but that’s another story), so surely my last one was just around the corner.

Ha! Not so.

That thing lasted off and on for the next six years. And, I’m still not one hundred percent certain that the last egg is gone - and I’m fifty-one!

My gyno is puzzled. My numbers say “menopause” and my sono looks good, but still, less than a year ago another egg came from out of the woodwork. Hmmmm…

Let’s talk about hot flashes.

“Ohhhh…I’m so hotttt.” Sounds like I'm talking to my husband, but I’m usually taking my hands out of hot dish water to pull my hair off my neck and up into a ponytail.

Seriously and thankfully, my hot flashes are mild and seldom. To some degree, they are controllable. I can always connect a hot flash, aka power surge, to something that I’m doing.

List of possibilities:

- sleeping in too much heat
- flat ironing or curling my hair in a hurry
- blow drying my daughters’ hair when I’m not in the mood
- drinking a hot beverage when overdressed
- being overdressed (sometimes anything more than a bra and panties)
- frustration with my child/children
- driving my car wearing a coat
- the first challenge during my horseback riding or tennis lesson (Sometimes I have to take off my sun glasses and wipe away steam so that I can see. Yes, my hot head caused the steam on the sun glasses.)
- hard candy

Do you see some common threads?

If I can avoid heat, sugar, physical challenges, and frustration, I’ll never have another hot flash.

So far, menopause is not bad. I deal with the glow and the grease that pops out of my facial pores during the flash with a tissue, and the sweat that may occur while sleeping, with a fan. Mentally, I'm actually much calmer and I feel somewhat free. After the irritability of PMS and perimenopause, I could only go up. Or, was it my three stair step toddlers/preschoolers taking me over the edge? Hmmmm…

From what I’m told by various friends, symptoms range from very mild to extreme. Most handle it with a sense of humor. More than once, I've been told that speeding down the highway with your head out of the window is a good remedy for a hot flash.

Regardless of how and when menopause happens to you, keep in mind that many other women share your particular symptoms and emotions. Let’s stop comparing, competing, and whispering. After all, we’re sisters. :)

Anything you want to say about menopause? Any info or suggestions - especially for those that have had surgery or extreme symptoms? Got anything to add to my “cause of a hot flash” list? :)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Standing in Line for a Doughnut


I weighed the pros and cons, then tried to resist, but the doughnut won.

It is a hectic morning. I spill milk on Hayley which means a change of clothes and that I will have to take her to school. As I’m dropping her off, she suggests that I put gas in my car and stop by McDonald’s for breakfast. Initial thought - good idea. Next thought – “Do I really want pancakes or hash browns or a sausage biscuit? There are leftovers at home, or I can have cereal with refreshing cold milk. I’ll eat at home.”

As I pull into the gas station, the first thing I see is a Krispy Kreme sign. "Oooo… Ahhhh…. I haven’t had a soft, sweet, tasty doughnut in a while."
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My gas tank is almost empty, so I have to stand here for at least three minutes as the tank fills. I watch the going-to-work traffic; anything to take my mind off the doughnut.

“The leftovers and the cereal, Anita!”

My eyes keep going back to the Krispy Kreme sign.

The tank is still filling. I watch men dressed in jeans, hooded sweat jackets and work boots, getting gas and a few smoking cigarettes. I think of how different we all are; most of us doing something to contribute to the freedom and success of this country. Some of the men appear Latino and I assume they speak Spanish, which lead my thoughts to the continuous debate over Spanish being a second language in this country... Still, I can’t keep myself from going into the convenience store.

“Where are the doughnuts? I can’t find them!” I have a chance to leave, but I’m steadfast – “I’m going to find those doughnuts!” Twenty seconds later, I spot them in the center of the store. “Hmmmm…the glazed, a crème filled, or chocolate covered?” I summon my sense of taste to determine what will be the most satisfying. The crème filled is eliminated first. I love chocolate, but the simplicity of the sugary glazed wins me over.

I have my doughnut and I'm standing in line behind a man who’s buying a jug of tea for the day, his lunch, and something else. An issue at the register is going on and I’m still waiting; still watching the men to see what they are buying, watching the woman working behind the counter, wondering who will buy a lottery ticket. Finally, a man opens another register, and calls me over. “Gettin’ your sugar fix?” he says. He probably figures I need one as I stand here with “morning hair,” and sun glasses to keep from scaring anyone.

I’m three minutes from home, but I eat the doughnut before I get there. “Ohhhhh, I wish I had another.”

Was my doughnut worth the ninety one cents, six minutes of time, and two hundred calories?

Yes, it was. As I stood in line, I got to think about life and people and where I fit in, but mainly, it was a delicious treat.

Do you treat yourself or resist the temptation? Or, do you have a habit/addiction that costs you $4.00 a day, (give or take)?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Will A Scarf Help My "Mom Uniform?"

Here I am on one of my better days. (The scarf is for this post and to have fun with my daughter - playing dressup.)

I decided to spare you from the boxy tee-shirt.

She rings my doorbell. I open my front door to see my friend dressed in dark tweed pants, a form-fitting black sweater, and black shoes. Light makeup and a neat hairstyle add to her naturally attractive face. There is one more thing to complete the look – the scarf!

It is simple, with colors of white, black, and gray, but it stood out. Her scarf (an item I never wear unless it’s around my neck for warmth) led me to reflect upon a time when I was often seen having that look – a look that can be professional or dressy-casual.

I compliment Erin and she thanks me, but I can almost read her mind saying, “Anita doesn’t get out much.”

Well, I do get out. On weekdays, I go to the grocery store, to Target, miscellaneous stores at strip malls, doctors’ offices, and to my kids’ schools to drop off forgotten items. There! I even make a rare appearance at the indoor mall.

And when I’m out while the kids are at school, I look similar to all the other moms. We recognize each other; we have… “the mom look.” The strollers and babies are a giveaway for some, but the rest of us still have the look – it’s just a more advanced mom look.

Our mom uniforms vary because, yes, we do have choices! In hot weather, wrinkled, just-above-the-knee or mid-thigh shorts, a tee shirt, and flip-flops are standard attire. But if we want to go all out, as I often do, we iron the shorts, put on a real shirt with a little cling, and ditch the flip flops for sandals…not too much heel though…we’re moms!

In cold weather, moms are wearing their beloved jeans, many of which are over five years old with waistbands that reach above the belly button; I think they’re called “mom jeans.” We pull from the large supply of tee-shirts and throw on a sweatshirt or hooded zip-up sweat jacket and we’re ready to go out.

If not in jeans, moms are wearing sweat pants, the stretchy yoga-like pants, or leggings. Another staple - the matching athletic pants and jacket. Years ago, I think it was a jogging suit and it was shiny. Now it might be called a warm-up suit and it doesn’t shine anymore.

For shoes, two choices – bulky shoes (people my age still call them tennis shoes) or the slide on shoes with no back (clogs, I guess).

I own all these items, but my favorite uniform is blue jeans (under the belly button), a real shirt, and the clogs. But, the warm up suit and tennis shoes get a weekly showing, too.

A quick note about the hair…headband, or eyeglasses used as a headband, baseball cap, or ponytail.

I know I haven’t covered all the mom uniforms, but what I’ve mentioned is average. On the “other side of town” where the “good” mall is, the moms are preppy, wearing labeled, designer clothes, with accenting scarves.

When I go to the grocery store during mid-day, I notice the “nicely put together” women at the store’s café standing in line for their lunches, and I remember when… But, I am now, and always have been, “a blue jeans kinda girl.”
How would you describe your “look?” Are you satisfied, or do you need a change?

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Cell Phone Decision

“I have a cell phone – FINALLY!”

Those are the words (or something similar) spoken by my thirteen year old daughter, Hayley, upon receiving her new enV Touch. Being the little darling that she is (most of the time), she also gave her Daddy and me a BIG HUG and a big THANK YOU.

The wait was long. Her first request for a cell phone started when she was ten and in fifth grade; and my first response was a chuckle and a question back to her – “Do you have a job?”

As all of you know, she wanted a phone because other kids had a phone. I saw no reason for her to have one. It would merely be a toy for her, something to play games on, and of course, she would find someone to text.

Hayley’s routine consisted of school, piano lessons, school activities, the neighborhood pool, or a friend’s house. Wherever she was, there was a phone available - she could call me and I could call her. If I wasn't home, she could reach me on my cell, and I was always just ten minutes away.

My verdict – no phone necessary.

I knew we’d eventually get a phone for her; I just didn’t know when. I didn’t allow myself to be pressured by my daughter or other parents that wondered why Hayley didn’t have a phone “yet?” My criterion was “necessity.”

Hayley made the JV field hockey team. (Field Hockey Family, 09/25/09 post) There are daily practices, away games, team bonding events, and community service events. Her schedule is not as precise as it once was. She needs a phone; and now she has one.

Did you give-in to the “beg” or did you get your child a cell phone when it was needed? Be honest…I’ve given-in to the “beg” in other areas. :)

Oh…Hayley is trying to keep me from saying “telephone.”
“It’s a CELL PHONE!” she says with a slight tone.
So I slip up once in a while.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Etiquette

A portion of mail for my husband and me is addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Michael Jones.” I realize that it is “proper etiquette,” but I don’t like it. I took his last name when I married him - why do I have to take his first name, too? (It’s okay to laugh.)

Seriously – who out there can tell me why I’m Mrs. Michael Jones. My name is Anita.

When I was a girl, I thought I would marry and have children when I became a woman, and I did – a little late, but it happened. Until I was about twenty-three, there was no question about what my last name would be - it would change to my future husband’s last name. But during the rest of my twenties, I considered not changing my name if I got married. Then, around age thirty, I was back to being okay with having my future husband’s last name. By this time, I’m thinking of the children that I’m going to have and that I want us all to have the same name.

If you Google “Mr. and Mrs.” or “origin of Mrs.” or pull out your Emily Post’s Etiquette book, you will find several rules on how to address people based on their marital status or profession. I had forgotten that “Mrs.” came from the word “Mistress.”

Even though men don’t have a title that indicates being married, I’m okay with a title that says I am…because I am…and I’m content. And if someone addresses me or my mail as “Ms.” or “Miss,” that’s okay too – just put Anita after it; not Michael.

There are many women who proudly announce themselves as “Mrs. John Doe.” Others keep their “maiden” name after marrying (oh…I was once a maiden!) and do not take the husband’s last name. There are those that hyphenate the maiden name and the husband’s last name to form a new last name. There are those who have their maiden name as a middle name and have their husband’s last name. And there are those who keep the girly middle name (like me) or the passed down “family” middle name that they are born with, and change the last name to the husband’s last name.

Did I miss anyone?

I believe all the name choices are fine; it’s personal. I’m fine with my choice. But, I prefer that joint mail be addressed to “Anita and Michael Jones” (or “Michael and Anita Jones”); that data entry people would make the change in the computer when I make the request. (It’s always ignored.) And also, maybe the etiquette police will approve “Mr. and Mrs. Michael and Anita Jones” for the wedding invitations. Informally, “Anita and Michael Jones” will do.

Now that you know a little about my feelings on the subject, you may be making assumptions – attaching a label to me.

Well…not necessary.

My dislike of being called “Mrs. Michael Jones” is not solely based on feminism, male chauvinism, religion, liberalism, conservatism, or tradition. It simply means that I prefer being known (by adults) by the name that Lillie and Hilton gave me, which is - Anita.

Are you okay with being called Mrs. (insert your husband’s first and last name)?

Ps. Michael Jones is a pseudonym.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Swine Flu

Piglet and Friends are circulating the Internet
(photographer unknown)
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Decisions. Decisions.

Do I get the H1N1 (Swine Flu) vaccine or not?

Every fall, I’m faced with the decision of “flu shot or no flu shot.” In the past, it’s been easy – many years, my answer was an immediate “no.” Other years, when I was pressured by the media, a friend or relative, I procrastinated long enough for the hoopla to die down, and the issue faded away on its own. I’ve never gotten one. My husband has never gotten one. Until this year, my children had never gotten the shot, but before school started, two of my daughters got the FluMist. I was convinced by the doctor to let them have it while they were getting physicals.

I do not like pain, so when faced with it I do not hesitate to take medicine, which fortunately is very seldom. So what is it about the flu shot, something that I put in the preventative medicine category? I get allergy shots which have been extremely beneficial with my sensitivity to grass, mold and pollen – do I have to get the flu and suffer the pain before I’m sold on the flu shot?

Most people eagerly or anxiously wait for its availability. My parents practically have a party when it’s flu shot time. There is excitement in the air. “I’m going to get my flu shot today!”

I asked my husband if he’s getting it. He answered, “I’ll wait and decide after all the priority people get theirs – children, pregnant women, health care professionals, and the elderly.”

“That’s us Dear,” I responded, “We’re the elderly. We’re over fifty.”

So…we’ll probably get in line with the masses and get our shots. Check back with me to see if I did it.

For up-to-date information on the H1N1 virus, click here to link to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Are you getting the shot? What is your opinion on the virus and all the media attention it’s getting?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wasting or Not?

My family and I are in Illinois visiting our dear friends, Denise and Steve. We’re at a restaurant known for its Chicago-style pizza. Denise, a high level district retail manager, who is accustomed to fine dining and various cuisines while traveling around the country, recommends a couple of dishes and decides on her meal. The waiter comes to our table and Denise orders three things from the menu. I think it’s a salad, a main course, and something else to share with her husband. But…he orders, too. Her salad arrives and it is big enough to feed three people! All the other food is served and everything is huge! My first thought, “I’ll have delicious leftovers.”

Denise offers to share her beautiful salad and I accept, but I don’t take too much because I’m also devouring the deep dish pizza - and it is “her” salad.

It’s twenty minutes later and the waiter is back asking if he can take anything from the table; and what does Denise do? She waves the salad away! The beautiful, delicious salad, not even half eaten…gone. I can’t react fast enough to tell the waiter, “Bring that back!”

“Denise, you hardly ate any of that. I would have eaten more if I’d known that you weren’t going to eat it all.”

“Oh, I’m sorry Anita. I just ordered it because I just wanted a ‘little taste’ of it.”
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Steve casually says, “Oh, Denise orders and eats like that all the time.”

I’m thinking, “That’s right – they don’t have three college educations to pay for.”

There’s a lot of waste in my household too. My daughter is rushing to get the bus for school and she still pours herself a second bowl of cereal and adds more milk, even though she has one minute before she has to leave. Two spoonfuls eaten and she’s gone.

Why?

Am I the only person that hates throwing away perfectly good food? My kids bring their lunch boxes home from school with sandwiches that they’ve taken two bites out of. Hot, greasy cheese sticks come back. Soggy fruit comes back.

“Oh Mommy, I wasn’t that hungry today.”

Do they think money grows on trees? (Oh, that was the sixties and seventies.)
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And let's not even talk about the leftovers from the fridge.

But back to restaurants – When my husband, the girls and I eat out, I, Miss Frugal, will asks questions such as, “How many chicken tenders does that include? Will a slice of that cake serve two? What’s the size glass for the small serving of juice?”

After many episodes of seeing whole plates of french fries, half eaten sundaes, and syrup drenched pancakes taken away from our table because my girls (who eat like birds) can’t finish their meals or because we can’t take it in a doggy bag, I have learned that sharing an entrée between two kids is the thing to do. I don’t have to hear the voices of my parents saying, “There are kids starving in Africa and India.”

At a restaurant, are you paying for the dining and socializing experience, or the food, or both? Are you okay with food being thrown away as long as you’ve had a pleasant experience?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Poop Explosion!


Not me! The dog! Layla!

I start the day cleaning up behind my dog, and end the day on my hands and knees cleaning up behind my daughter Mallory.

It’s a Saturday – no kids to get ready for school. The fresh, wide open outdoors is waiting for me. “Run at least three miles,” I say to myself, “it’s early and still cool, a perfect time to run.”

But…as I step out of my bedroom, a familiar smell hits me. I want to deny it because I am just two minutes from my run. My girls are also upstairs and on the computer. When I ask if they can smell anything, the reply from all three is, “I don’t smell anything.” Then one of them says, “My nose has been stopped up for days.”

“Yeah…right!”

No one had dared to go downstairs because that would have meant having the responsibility of beginning the cleanup.

So, I start the march downstairs, beckoning the troops to follow. (Husband/Daddy feigns deep sleep and unawareness.) Even though Layla was in her crate when it happened, it's still a messy job. I’ll try not to be too graphic, but…her bed is thrown into the washer, the crate is taken outside and hosed down, part of the kitchen floor is cleaned, and Layla gets a bath.

I am determined to go for my run. It's almost an hour later and I've missed a guaranteed cool run, but I head out for my three miles. The temperature feels like it has risen ten degrees, but I still appreciate the workout/escape.

Now that I play tennis and ride horses (both are lessons), I have to run to maintain stamina to keep up with all the younger girls that I hang out with.
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I digress.

Anyway, the day is mostly spent cleaning. Just as I am whining down to switch gears to dinner and leisure, Mallory throws up…on the family room rug. I gather the troops again to assign duties. Fast! Get the paper towels, a wet rag, a plastic bag, the Nature's Miracle!

As we’re cleaning, Mallory is now relieved and perky and chattering, but “I” know that it is too early to be a definite wrap. As she rests on the sofa, we put a couple of towels on the rug and the waste basket near by.

I eat my dinner, then take Layla out into the night air for her potty break. In the mean time, Mallory goes upstairs to go to bed. When I return, I’m thrust into a repeat episode – this time it’s the bedroom carpet. (Having to do this twice, my husband has lost his appetite.)

The little darling is showered, put into pajamas, and wrapped cozily in a sea of blankets on a sofa…in my(our) bedroom! Her daddy insures that a third rug and room will not get slimed by putting plastic under her and all over the floor surrounding the sofa, where she sleeps soundly through the most of the night (with the help of a little Tylenol). Whew!

What is the difference between a dog and a child? Okay…just kidding!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Why I Blog

Before I tell you why I blog, I’ll say, “Thank you Jessica, Coffee Lovin’ Mom, for presenting me the Lemonade Award!" After a Google or two, I learned that it is “a feel good award which shows great attitude or gratitude.”

Jessica is writing her first novel and is journaling some of the process along with other random thoughts. She has a great sense of humor! Stop by her site, My Thoughts Exactly, at: http://www.coffeelvnmom.blogspot.com/.

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Blogging allows me to write and publish whatever I feel or research. There are no grades, no timelines, no editors, and no specific genres. It is one of my outlets. It costs no money; only time and effort. It is a vehicle for practicing the art of writing. I teach myself, using “how to write” books and by reading books. There is no degree in English hanging on my wall, no outstanding vocabulary, and no perfect grammar – only desire.

An added bonus to blogging – other bloggers! We’re all of a similar breed. We relate to and support each other. I have discovered a new way of communicating and have “met” and “talked” to many interesting people.

I’m new at it, but each day I learn something else. The awards that are plastered all over blog sites that I used to wonder about, are beginning to have a new meaning. It is a way of complimenting and publicizing the blogs of non-celebrity, average people like me.

I’m supposed to pass this award on to others, so here goes:
- Atlanta’s Whitehouse – a caring public school health teacher
- Zook Book Nook – a mom/writer with a passion for books and passing it on to her children
- Old? Who? Me? - laugh and get wisdom from this 83 year old blogger
- RANdom Walkway – “outside of the box” news and creativity from around the world
- New Mum Over 40 – Australian lady journaling her path to conceiving a baby
- Central Virginia Organic Gardener – she has the ultimate green thumb!
- Chocolate Covered Daydreams – dream along with this caring and creative artist
- Musings of a Midlife Mom - free of debt, living simply, having fun, and trying to stay that way
- Encouragement for the Journey – writer mom who has the most creative metaphors for life

To Everyone reading this:
If you're a blogger, why do you blog?
Blogger or not - why do you read blogs? :)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Caught Stereotyping

This is our version of the stick people seen
on the rear windshields of cars.

I’m at the mall with my daughters, Kelly and Mallory. We’re in Justice, a store that is very popular with girls that are my daughter’s ages – eleven and nine.

After some ooos and ahhhs, they choose a few items to try on. It’s a weekday, which means there is homework waiting and dinner to be figured out and eaten, but I’m feeling pretty good, so I’m giving them about twenty minutes in the store, instead of my usual ten. (See my post titled, “Was I Born Without the Shopping Gene?” May 29, 2009)

Kelly gets earrings and a shirt, and Mallory gets a knitted shirt that will be good for cooler weather. We go to the register desk with the clothes and our forty percent off coupon, where we get in line behind a woman with several children. (My definition for several children is at least four, because it’s one more than what I have.)

The oldest child could be the boy who appears to be about eleven; or maybe it’s the tallest girl. And then there are all these other little people. Two are standing beside the stroller, one is in the stroller, and the mom is carrying one that looks about eight months old. The picture is completed with mounds of merchandise bags on top of the stroller near the handle.

I look around the store and do not see another adult, so I figure they are all hers. She is young - thirtyish, maybe older - average height, and thin. My eyes take a quick peek at her mid-section - flat. So now I’m impressed and decide that she must be breastfeeding and that the others must have been breastfed too, because that’s supposed to help the uterus return to pre-pregnancy size and to also burn extra calories.

My initial assessment is done. It’s time to open my mouth to start a conversation.

“I was just telling my kids…”

The mom finishes my sentence and says, “…that I need a lot of hands.”

I continued with a friendly smile, “Well I guess you do, but I was thinking of how you all remind me of the Smith family. I almost thought you were them. They have one boy too, but they have six girls. My kids had piano lessons at the same studio as them.”

The boy proudly says, “Oh, they have one more than we do. We only have six kids.”

I stop talking so that she can finish her purchase, while thinking, “That’s a lot of kids to be shopping in Justice; not that it’s a very expensive store, but you can get better deals at the larger discount stores. (Stereotype # 1 – Can she afford brand name clothes?)

“She’s probably a stay-at-home mom.” (Stereotype # 2 – With six young kids, how can she be employed?)

“I’ll bet they’re home-schooled.” (Stereotype # 3 – Young woman, six well mannered kids – gotta be home-schooled kids!)

“I wonder if she makes and bakes bread.” (Stereotype # 4 – I know five or six home-schooling moms that make bread.)

She’s now ready to leave, but I quickly get in a question, “Do you home school?”

With a slight smile, she answers, “No, but everybody asks me that.”

I smile and she walks away so that I can buy my things; or, is it because she wants to hurry and get away from me before the barrage of questions come.

“Maybe I should not have asked her that. Hmmmm.”

The whole incident was harmless, but it made me realize that I was stereotyping. I frequently talk to people when I’m waiting in a line, but next time I’ll….....no, I’ll probably be a little too nosey again!

What do you think when you see a mom with “several” kids? Be honest. :)

Ps. I think there are many women and men that are born to have large families, and in that case, why not!