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

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!”
"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


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
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, 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
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.”

* * * * * * * * * *
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.
* * * * * * * * * *

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.


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

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
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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