Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Let's look back

I needed music today-I had a pretty stressful day at work because students are still trying to turn in projects for this marking period and grades are due tomorrow, I had to drag two kids through the grocery store and my daughter insisted on being the only person to put items in the cart, I had to rush home to get dinner together, and hubby wasn’t going to be home until after 8. I had a phone call in the midst of my kid time, and my little angels decided to run around like banshees while the dog barked. Let’s just say that when my husband called at 8:15 I was in no mood to chat-I needed some tunes, and not just any tunes. I needed something to remind me of my youth, so America was my band of choice. And, since I haven’t done Tuesday tunes for a while, I thought you might enjoy reminiscing too. I couldn’t stop at one so here’s America with “Ventura Highway,” “You can do Magic,” “Horse with No Name,” “I need you,” and "Sister Golden Hair." Hopefully I have something for everybody...

And, 30 years later they still sound good...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Hap, hap, happy day!

Amo at Where a woman shakes her tablecloth recently tagged me to list 10 things that make me happy, and she couldn't have picked a better time. I've been sort of down lately due to a case of winter doldrums, stresses from work and those I put on myself, and to be brutally honest, a little bit of hormones just to round things out-what a fun me! Anyway, she sort of forced me to look at my life as a whole, so here’s what gives me joy:

1. Watching my kids sleep- No matter how hectic things were during the day, or how crazy my kids made me, seeing them sleeping peacefully takes me back in time. I remember them as infants, and all of those emotions associated with becoming a mom come flooding back, and nothing else seems to matter.

2. Laundry hung outside- I may seem like the “little woman” with this one, but I love the smell of laundry hung outside on a clothesline.

3. Petting our dog- Our dog is only allowed on the sofa in our family room, although someone must have forgotten to tell him that since I catch him from time-to-time on our living room sofa… He has to lay with at least one body part touching you, and his favorite spot is usually right beside me because I enjoy massaging his tummy and scratching him behind the ears while I’m watching TV-I’m very well trained.

4. Talking to my husband- One of the reasons why my husband and I ended up together was because we could talk about anything and everything-he is still the first person I want to talk to when I get up in the morning, and the last person I want to talk to when I go to bed at night.

5. Watching my daughter do gymnastics- I am just amazed at what my daughter can do, especially since she is fighting all the clumsy, non-athletic genes that she inherited from me!

6. Shopping- I love buying new things, but I am no “shopaholic”-I’m too cheap.

7. Being able to create something- I love putting my own creative spin on something, whether it’s a food item, decorating my house, writing/designing my blog-I want to look at it and say, “That’s me.”

8. Being understood- Friends share experiences and a common bond, and I feel as if I made quite a few new friends this past week. I can’t thank you all enough for your comments on my last post.

9. Just a little taste of something sweet- My “go to” foods when I need something sugary are cheesecake (although you all know that by now), chocolate ice cream, and the occasional Snickers bar. I don’t really have a sweet tooth per se because I can stop at eating just that one serving, thank goodness, but these cravings usually happen in the evening, and that’s not so good.

10. Teaching- There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you see that spark of understanding in a student’s face.

Now, the happy moments must continue, so I am tagging the following ten blogs:
Molly at I'm a Sleeper Baker

Nicole at A New Normal

Flory at A Woman's Life Stages

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded

The Girl at The Girl Next Door Grows Up

Jing Lejano at hypermom

The girl with the flour in her hair at Peeling An Orange With a Screwdriver

Sarah at My Charmed Life

Septembermom at My Voice My View

Clueless Mama at Guessing all the Way

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom

Heather at Theta Mom

Yes, I know it's more than ten, but I wanted to make a point to pass this on to those who commented on my last post, and those who did not receive the tag yet. Thanks so much everybody, and have a hap, hap, happy day!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Trying to measure up...

I’m pretty stressed right now-midterm tests and quarter grades all have to be finalized by Wednesday, my son said someone squirted hand sanitizer in his eye as he was getting up to get off the bus today (I think it was just on his face and he rubbed it into his eye but we did a rinse just in case, and I’m peeved!), I got my daughter upset about the bus situation by insinuating that she doesn’t look out for her younger brother, we had to rush off to take the dog to his vet appointment, I had to hurry back to get dinner started(my daughter had practice at 6:30), and once again I am worried that I am not good enough at something I endeavor to be great at.

For the most part I am a positive person, and I try to be a positive force for my friends and family, but when it comes to my talents, I am a “jack of all trades”-good at many things but great at none. I enjoy art and drawing but I am not an artist; I love music and used to play guitar but I’m no musician; I went back to school for computer science when an English teaching position didn’t open up, and though I know much more than my students and the average Joe, I am not a master computer programmer. Now this post is really starting to depress me, but I’m also a realist. What bothers me the most about all this though is the fact that I have spent my entire life thus far trying to prove to myself that it’s in me to be great, that this greatness is just around the corner-it’s just not time yet. And I would achieve this greatness with my "pen."

You see my first love has always been writing, in fact, writing to me is a cleansing experience. It’s when I can put words to feelings and emotions but I never have to utter a sound. Sometimes it’s a grueling process, because once I start writing, I can’t stop until I’m finished-it may be physically and mentally exhausting but I have to complete the piece. My teachers in grade school and high school, and my professors in college, all encouraged me, and I knew I was good, but is that good enough?

I have tested this “good but not great” theory by participating in sporadic writing contests in high school, college, and over the years, but I have never made the cut. I work and rework a project until I think it’s perfect, and then as I await the results, I start to agonize over every little detail. All is lost if I can compare it to someone else’s entry because I read and reread that once perfect work until in my eyes it is seriously flawed and a waste of time and energy.

I recently entered yet another writing contest as you can tell by my last post, but what started out being enjoyable, has now left me feeling anxious and unfulfilled.(I just didn't have it in me to post, and I am sorry I have neglected all of you this past week...) My husband says that he doesn’t believe in contests, especially those online because who’s to say if anyone wins. He says my entering should all be in fun, and he doesn’t understand why I stress myself about things like this. And I don’t really have a good answer for him-I just keep pointing to that never-ending desire for greatness, because that’s what makes me do the things I do.

If any of you do this to yourselves when it comes to your writing, I would love to hear that I am not alone on this one. As for me, I can hear a slice of cheesecake calling my name (why did we have to buy that cheesecake sampler?), so I am off to the kitchen for some healing-or better yet, maybe I’ll just get a glass of water. It’s definitely not the same, but my inner voice is telling me that I would regret my rendezvous with Mr. cheesecake in the morning-sigh

Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm dreaming of a mini laptop... (Simplify My Life Sweepstakes)

You could win an HP Mini 110!

Mama wants a new toy, but not just any toy-I want an HP Mini with Windows 7 to help simplify my life. Yes, I can just see it now, the Mini and I are getting to know one another in my kitchen as I peruse the Internet for interesting new recipes, and the latest Windows operating system with high definition graphics allows me to see included images clearly and quickly.

But wait there’s more, so much more! At only 3.22 lbs. and less than 2 inches thick, I am able to take my new Mini anywhere, including my daughter’s gymnastic meets. It’s built in WI FI capability enables me to use the down time between events wisely, and I connect to my online grade book and enter scores from my midterm exams. This added convenience means less time away from my family on the weekends, and less guilt in the workforce.

And let’s face it-blog and e-mail updates will be a lot more comfortable using a keyboard that is almost as big as a full size model instead of jamming my thumbs on a Qwerty keypad. With this little baby I won’t have to worry about pressing wrong keys or accidentally deleting comments, like I do on my cell phone. I can relax in a favorite easy chair and be where my family is instead of shut off in another area of the house.

I start to feel all warm and fuzzy inside, as I think how the Mini’s built in Web-cam will allow my seven and ten year old to have “visual” chats with all their relatives. Keeping the lines of communication open is next to impossible when all of your family lives on the other side of the state, and a phone conversation just isn’t the same.

I heave a sigh and wipe a stray tear as I glance at the seven-year-old desktop sitting in front of me. This computer is slow but it does what I need it to do-it’s just sad when a computer science teacher’s technology gizmos don’t measure up to those of her students. And ever since our old dinosaur desktop went on the fritz, my tech savvy kids want a piece of this computer too, and mama isn’t willing to share all that much.

I could go on and on about how this wonder of a laptop could provide me some relief, but I think I’ll let you envision the possibilities on your own-take a look at what you could win with one little comment...

The Mom Blogger’s Club, HP, and Olympian Dara Torres are giving away three Mini 110-1100 laptop PCs to three random commenters on the finalist’s blog post. That could be you!  Or visit The Mom Blogger’s Club and create an entry of your own. But do hurry because the last date for entry is January 20.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Where of where can they be?

I have been battling my 10 year old recently about a lot of things lately including her hairstyle, the condition of her bedroom, and about some missing socks-that’s right, socks. You see my daughter competes in gymnastics, and along with the team warm ups and leotard, she is supposed to arrive at every meet wearing a pair of black socks. And, like any good mother, I bought her a couple pairs last year so that she would always have a pair on hand for meets, or so you would think…

Now about 1/3 of the way into her season last year, and on the morning of a meet (of course!) my daughter tells me that she can’t find any black socks. I remembered seeing at least one pair in the dirty laundry so the “clean” pair just had to be in her sock drawer, but convinced that her looking had just been opening a drawer and turning her head left and right, I decided to look. So, I waded into the sea of white socks but there was not one among them that was black-how could this be? My two pair system should have been infallible-one pair dirty but the other pair clean… But all was not lost-she could just wear a pair of my black socks until we got all this black sock mess sorted out, or so you would think…

Move ahead about one month, and the same scenario mentioned above is repeated, except this time it is done the night before (I got a little smarter), and I hadn’t seen her lone pair of black socks in the dirty laundry. Socks cannot just disappear into thin air, and I am pretty certain that they can’t walk away unless there are two feet along for the ride, so where could they be? Now I started to help my daughter look around her room, but searching the premises would require a major clean up, and I was just too tired to tackle her mess, so once again mom’s black socks came to the rescue. I would also pick her up another couple pairs the next time I went to the mall-problem solved, or so you would think…

Jump ahead to the preparations before the state meet in May when once again I am looking for a pair of stinking black socks! I dove once again into the sea of white socks and came up with only one pair-yes that’s right, a single, solitary pair of black socks. Now let’s do some math here:

We had two pairs and subtracted one pair to equal one pair, then we took that one pair and subtracted one pair and had no pairs-follow me so far? Then we added two pairs to no pairs to get two pairs, but soon we took two pairs and subtracted one pair to get one, measly pair-are you seeing a pattern here?

We are now into this year’s season and my daughter still has that one pair of black socks, and do you know why? Because mommy got smarter, confiscated that pair, housed them in her sock drawer instead, secretly bought an extra pair to keep that pair company, and ended the mystery of the vanishing black socks-or so you would think… But something weird has been happening within the confines of my sock drawer-something or someone has been taking my black socks too! I am down to two pairs plus one, and I have searched everywhere except my daughter’s room. I meandered down the hall and had every intention of starting a search, but when I opened the door and looked in, I decided I could live with those two pairs plus one-besides, didn’t I see a sale on socks this week?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"Laugh, and the world laughs with you..."

My last post kind of kept me in the doldrums for a while, but I am fighting my way back with humor. I love to laugh, preferring comedies to tragedies (let’s face it, life is serious enough), and I use humor to lighten up even the most stressful of times. And although humor never solves problems, laughing at the every day trials and tribulations always reduces my “stress of the moment”, and relieving tension in the mind brings calmness of spirit.

I am also happy to report that motherhood, along
with age, seems to have increased my sense of humor.
Sometimes even the strain brought on by the day-to-
day struggles
with work and children can be funny,
if you look at it right. All it takes is that first little smile, secretly shared between husband and wife, and the tantrum of the minute becomes comical. And experts have touted the effectiveness of a good chuckle for years. “Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.” (Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D.) Laughter calms you, affects your body's ability to fight off illness, gives you that "feel-good" sensation that things like exercise and chocolate give you (but without the strain or the guilt), and it helps to protect one of your major organs-your heart.

So, my friends, I am going to try to improve your health this evening by sharing some recent excerpts from my own life that
you might enjoy.
(WARNING: I start off with a bit of potty talk...)
A conversation with my son after he took the dog outside to do “his business”:

“Mom, you won’t believe this but Uno went both ways, pee and poop, but he keeps trying to lick his butt.”

Well, with our longhaired dog that can only mean one of two things, A) He has an itch, or (and most likely) B) There is something left over from his recent elimination outing. I carefully lifted his tail to take a peek, hoping that my suspicions were wrong-no such luck.

“What’s that?” My son was pointing at, well, I will spare you the details...I was still holding my dog’s tail. “Quick, get a napkin.”
“Where are they?”

Are you kidding me? My son sets the table so I know he knows where the napkins are. I  am half squatting, still holding the dog’s tail in the air. “In the napkin holder.”
“There aren’t any.”
“Look in the cupboard quickly!”

Miraculously my son found ‘a’ napkin but unfortunately this was the wrong tool for the job. Uno dutifully sat while I went hunting for a comb and another napkin, and as I was helping him out, I glanced at his face-Uno's eyes were half closed and he had this calm, loving look of appreciation. I know my kids never looked at me that way after a butt wipe!

And speaking of the dog, you might remember an old post of mine that talked about an incident between my dog and his beloved pillow. After my dog’s affair to remember, we have not seen “it” since. I mean it hasn’t appeared when we scratch his tummy(and it often did), and he hasn’t done the nasty to anything or anybody. I think he scared himself, but my husband thinks he got it out of his system. (My daughter now thinks he broke it…)

You might also remember a post about my son and his endless questioning, especially some questions pertaining to super heroes. Well, he got a new super hero poster for Christmas, so once again I am being quizzed right before I turn out his light.

“Yes dear.”
“Which super hero do you think is the scariest?”

I looked at the poster and frankly all of the characters looked a little freaky in one way or another... But was this a trick?

“Are they all good?”
“Yes, but which is the scariest.”

Hmm… “Silver Surfer. I think Silver Surfer is pretty scary.”

Obviously my son doesn’t agree with me, because the next night I am asked if I am sure about my choice, and since I am never one to second guess myself (and because I want the conversation to end so he can get to sleep) I hold fast to my decision.

So far we are on day four of the questioning, and each day I have to say why Silver Surfer is scarier than one of the thirty other super heroes on this poster. And he now wants to know which "girl" superhero I want to be! Wait until I talk to Santa!

Now my very own superman, more commonly known as my husband, has been experiencing some strange bodily changes as he gets older that I don’t really want to know about but he feels he should tell me anyway.

We are both in the bathroom getting ready for bed and my husband is examining something in the mirror.

“Look at this gray hair!”
“What gray hair?”
“The one on top of my shoulder.”
“On top of your shoulder?”

Ok, so he might have piqued my curiosity a little. I was even thinking Ripley’s might appreciate a call about this one.

“It’s about three inches long!”
He pulls on the hair so I can get a better look
“Can you cut it for me?”

Gross! I will look at it but I draw the line when it comes to husband hair removal! Besides, I may not be an expert at shoulder hair, but if you cut it won't it grow back again, just like head hair?
“Just pull it out.”
“No! It will hurt!”

Men... If only they knew what we women go through!

And last but not least, a discussion between my husband and daughter concerning what she was doing in gym that I found very blog worthy.

“So what did you do in gym today?”
“We are learning how to play basketball.”
“You know how to play basketball.”
“No, I don’t know the rules and stuff.”
“Oh, so they are teaching you how to dribble and pass?”
“Today we were working on layoffs.”
“Yes, you use layoffs to get the ball in the basket.”

My husband and I exchanged a "look."

“Oh, wait, you mean lay-ups.”
“That’s what I said.”

Yes, of course you did-daddy and I must be hearing things. I did read that hearing is the first to go in the "elderly, or is it your sanity? (Personally, I'll take the first choice...)

I thought I would borrow and idea from Kelly at My Voice, My View and leave you with the poem Solitude, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox-
this very famous poem is where my title is from... Here's hoping you get a little laughter in your day!

Laugh, and the world laughs with you:
Weep, and you weep alone;
For the sad old earth
Must borrow its mirth,
It has trouble enough of its own.

Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air;
The echoes bound
To a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go;
They want full measure
Of all your pleasure,
But they do not want your woe.

Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all;
There are none to decline
Your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by;
Succeed and give,
And it helps you live,
But it cannot help you die.

There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train;
But one by one
We must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Survival of the Tactful

After traveling back and forth between family and relatives I am happy to report that I have survived (barely) and am back for my first blog post of the year. I had a few particularly unnerving events happen during some of those visits so I decided to do some evaluating. I ‘m not talking about New Year’s resolutions (I never make any because I never keep any) I’m talking about reviewing, analyzing, scrutinizing-heck, any scientific term would apply here-how I relate to those around me, and should I change.

I have two problems that probably stem from a pretty unhappy childhood. Yes, I know that everyone who has problems turns around and blames their upbringing, so I will say that mine started then, but to this day I still can’t get a handle on them. My problems are an endless need to be right (more so with family-it's a sister thing), and a lack of tact-you know, that part of the brain that stops your mouth from saying everything that pops into your head? Well, I was born without that part, and let’s just say that this has caused more than a few problems over the years, especially with my family.

I used to think I was just being direct, telling it like it is without all the sugary coating, and I often say that I prefer this approach in others. When everyone else tiptoed around a subject, I often stated what I thought everyone else was dying to say, using “the truth will set you free” as my mantra. I would often use the excuse of being the outsider looking in and how those directly involved in a situation just don’t see how it affects everyone else around them, and to some extent that is true. But there is a fine line between being direct and being unkind and I actually learned this lesson from witnessing the behavior in one of my relatives.

Now in my defense, I had been battling a stomach virus during most of our stay with relatives, so peace at all cost because it’s the holidays wasn’t something I could muster in my current state-I was tired of watching people eat food I couldn’t eat, and I just wanted to go home to sleep in my own bed, but that was still a four hour drive away. So, I sat and listened, giving my opinion freely even though it was never sought, while my husband coughed every time he thought I was about to cross the line.

I had almost made it through the evening when a younger member of my family arrived at my parents’ house. The change in this person’s behavior was obvious, and I was immediately taken aback by how freely this person gave an opinion, an opinion that was never sought. Now other family members had warned me about this person’s attitude change, but I hadn’t believed it until now. This person hurt not only my daughter’s feelings, but she also talked about my sister when she was out of earshot, and disrespected me all in the course of an hour. I waited for an admonition that never came, so the defender of truth and right, little old me, opened my mouth and let her rip.

I said this person had become mean and that I had listened to the nasty comments coming out of their mouth since they walked through the door, but I would do so no more. I wanted some assurances that this type of talk would end, and I waited for a confirmation before I stopped. Now granted, I do not feel bad for putting a stop to rude behavior in a very young adult, but what I do regret is the lack of tact I used after my speech, and I spoke in front of this person’s mother, another sister of mine. I think I said something to the affect that if this person acted appropriately then maybe this person would be allowed to talk this evening-not good, and to say that my sister took it badly is a grave understatement. She had more than a few choice things to say about me, and I had at least some sense just to let her rattle on. Let’s just say that the end result was her hasty departure and thank goodness it was late because I now had an excuse to leave as well.

I am not sure how this will play out in the end, but I can’t help but notice the similarities between this person and myself. How can I preach about respect and discretion when I have failed to show it myself? Now granted I have never in my lifetime talked to aunts, uncles, or other relatives as this young person did, and in all my years of teaching I have never had anyone talk to me in this manner, and it is inexcusable. There is also a distinct difference between mean commenting and giving an opinion. However, this person has adopted a decidedly superior air that I must confess I have used when hammering home my point of view with my sisters. Maybe I need to heed my own advice.