Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It's Time

I have to get off of Facebook.

I'm not announcing this as an attempt to get desperate, ego-stroking responses. 
"Oh, no!"
"We'll miss you too much!"
"Please don't go!" 
"Whyyyyy are you doing this to me?" (What? Too much?)

You've seen those status updates and know what I'm talking about. I mean, don't get me wrong, I hope at least a few of you will miss me. 

Okay, okay. Go ahead and tell me how much if it will make you feel better.

But, in all seriousness...let's be honest here.

I DO, however, feel I at least owe you an explanation in the event that it occurs to you 6 months from now that I haven't posted in a while. So, here it is...

When school starts back in the "fall" (we start in mid-August),  my daughter will be in the 8th grade. She is 13. She got her first cell phone about a year ago when she started junior high so she could get in touch with me regarding after school meetings, volleyball practice, etc. It was a simple phone - one she could text and call with - no bells and whistles. Well, that thing is hanging on by a thread. Sometimes it rings. Sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes texts go through. Sometimes they don't. Real useful is what I'm saying. 

As I was looking at my account online the other day, I noticed that she is eligible for an upgrade.  I remember saying to my husband (in the not-so-distant past), "It's just silly for her to have such a thing. She does NOT need an iPhone." Well, I apparently like how my words taste, because I eat them frequently (too bad those aren't the only things I eat! Badum bum.) Anyway. I still don't believe she needs an iPhone, but I feel better knowing that she has a way to get in touch with me when I'm not with her and I think it might solve some of the problems we currently have…like her ability to actually use the thing. Plus with my upgrade I can get one for a buck. ONE DOLLAH, people. 

My biggest problem with the whole smart phone thing is that I don't want her spending all of her time on it. But as I have considered this new purchase over the past couple of days, it has occurred to me that such an expectation of her turns me into something. Something awful. Something most of us detest. That's right. It turns me into a hypocrite.

I am distracted.

All of the time.

By my phone.

And by "phone" I mean Facebook.

I look at it when I'm in the grocery store. I look at it during commercials. I look at it before I go to bed at night. I look at it when I get up in the morning. I look at it when I'm folding laundry, when I'm cleaning house, and when I'm cooking dinner. It's a tic. It's an addiction. It's a problem.

To be fair, it's not the fault of Facebook. It's a fault of mine.

This realization has made me think back to what my days were like before I joined Facebook. Not that I never wasted any time…I mean come onnnnnn, there was still laundry to be avoided way back in the olden days. But I was immeasurably more productive than I am now and, more importantly, I wasn't constantly distracted.

This isn't the first time I've said that I'm terrified of what the future of technology holds for my children. I certainly don't like what it's done to me and I believe we've only scratched the surface. The simple truth is that I have become a horrible example to my children and I HAVE. TO. FIX. IT.





I think I've still got time to turn this thing around. I think there's still an opportunity to show my kids that it IS possible to live without my/their/our faces in my/their/our phones (or computers or iPads). That they can take pictures for their own benefit. That they can, in fact, communicate with people IN REAL LIFE. That a television can suffice as the ONLY means of technology for the span of 30 minutes - or even longer! 

They deserve it, and I deserve it.

As a parent, I am constantly being told of how these days slip through our fingers. How one day they are newborns and the next they are leaving the nest. When I think about the fact that my daughter will head to college in just 5 short years (someone make me a drink, please), I realize what a truth that is.

And I don't want to spend that time with my eyes pointed down.



**I plan to keep writing! Since I won't be using Facebook as a means to advertise new blog posts, please click HERE to get email notifications. NO SPAM! I PROMISE!**

Monday, May 19, 2014

Unchartered Territory

I have a few friends who are in their early 20's. The other day one of them was sitting in my kitchen and we were "discussing" (I was ranting AT her) about how technology is making the job of raising kids a virtual nightmare. She pointed out to me that I was closer to her mother's age than hers and then I promptly lost feeling in all of my extremities. THEN - to add insult to injury - she made the comment that her parents didn't really have to deal with these issues because the iPhone didn't come out until she was a junior in high school. 

HOMEGIRLSAYWHAT?!?

UNTIL she was a junior in high school? When I was a junior in high school our "car phone" might fit into a carry-on suitcase and was used for emergencies only. At $3.99 a minute don't even THINK about dialing that mofo unless the car is literally on fire or someone is approaching the vehicle wearing a mask and holding a deadly weapon. No, really. Are there flames? Guns? Machetes? Okay, then. Hands off, sister. 

The computer lab in our high school was outfitted with desktops the size of a mini-fridge and had black and green screens. The curser was a blinking half-inch square. A mouse was literally a small rodent eliciting screams and wreaking havoc when found on the desk in a classroom. 

iPhone what? Pffft. Email was invented MY junior year. INVENTED. Meaning no one other than Steve Jobs knew what the hell it did or how to use it. The internet wasn't a concept I could wrap my head around. I remember sitting in class one day and hearing someone say, "Did you know that one day we'll be able to use computers to shop? Like you won't even have to go to the mall." I responded, "Whatever. No way. Why would anyone even want to do that, anyway? How laaaaaazy." 

Oh young, stupid, 17 year-old me…bless your heart. And don't call me lazy, bitch.  

Back to me being closer to the age of the 20-something year old's mother (and the 5 glasses bottles of wine that makes me want to drink). It was during that conversation that it really hit home that my generation is the first generation of parents to really have to deal with this whole technology thing. No wonder none of us have a clue what we are doing!

NO ONE HAS EVER DONE THIS BEFORE. 

Elementary school-aged children are walking around with cell phones. Infants know how to operate tablets. Internet access is EVERYWHERE. Whether I agree with it or not, it's happening. And it scares the hell out of me. 

So, last weekend my 9 year-old son was watching a YouTube video on his iPad Mini. I previously set parental controls on all of their apps and limited which websites are allowed to be accessed, so I (naively) haven't worried too much about what my kids come across while online. Because I protected them. Ahem. Anyway, as I was listening, I heard the person on the video say the words, "OMFG." Only it wasn't the acronym. It was the actual words. Naturally, I flipped out and lit the iPad on fire. Not really. But, I found myself on the verge of tears because it was then that I realized - I mean like really realized - that unless I keep my children completely sheltered from technology (which is kind of unreasonable and also virtually impossible), there is a good (like 100%) chance they are going to be exposed to things that I am just not okay with.  

We immediately called a family meeting because I was in full-blown panic mode and ready to pack up the whole family to go live in a van down by the river. If it weren't for my undying love of indoor plumbing, that would remain a serious consideration. But seriously…yay for flushing toilets. 

My husband and I conducted an "app review" on each of their iPads (go ahead and add that to the list of problems our parents did NOT have to deal with), and then I experienced a bout of verbal diarrhea listing off all the world's problems, the horrors of internet access, and how human beings in general are terrible. That is an exaggeration, but we did talk about internet safety and how - unfortunately - there are people out there who put inappropriate things online in "disguise" specifically hoping that a child will come across them. I feel somewhere between moderately and extremely confident that this family meeting was successful in terrifying the shit out of my children, as well as securing a place for me in the "Lamest Parent Ever" Hall of Fame. So yeah, I feel pretty good about my parenting that day.   

Nevertheless, I'm still burdened with questions - FROM MYSELF - on how to approach all of this. I'm not dumb enough to believe for one second that my kids are incapable of doing things they shouldn't, but we have a family rule that goes something like, "I trust you until you give me a reason not to, at which time your life is going to suck now and forevermore." I paraphrased just then, but you get the gist. 

Do I make them sit in the room with me whenever they do anything online? That seems a little helicopter-ish. Do I need to regularly log in to their Pinterest and Instagram and Facebook and email accounts? And what about texts? It seems like reading my daughter's text messages borders on an invasion of privacy. Do I do it anyway? And FaceTime? Oh God. The things that could happen on FaceTime.  Shiiiiiiiiittttt! This is SO hard. 

What I wouldn't do to have a telephone fixed to the kitchen wall. You know, with a 20 foot cord stretched across the living room and a teenager sitting with her back against the other side of a closed door because that was as far as the cord would stretch and all I had to do was push the little hang-up thingy on the base to shut down any inappropriate goings on. Bam. Done. Conversation over. And also it is very hard for someone to send nekkid pictures to a rotary phone.

*Sigh*

I have never felt so clueless in all my life. 

I. Don't. Know. What. I'm. Doing. 

Do you?

Pull up a chair and pass the wine. You're in good company.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Conversation With God I Don't Want To Have

Don't get me wrong. I'm a sinner. I'm human and that's kind of what we do. I make bad decisions on the regular and I don't always behave in a Christ-like way. Sometimes I blatantly ignore that whole WWJD thing and do things my way instead. That's called freewill. God gave us that privilege fully aware that we would screw it up from time to time. And boy do I ever. But, for the most part, I make a conscious effort to be a good person. And, the way I see it, being a good person starts with how I treat others. 



Every now and again a controversial issue will monopolize the news and I am faced with the decision of whether or not I want to address it on my blog. I know that no matter which side I'm on, and how politically correct I try to be, I run the risk of offending someone. As a matter of fact, it's virtually guaranteed. Because I'm not a big fan of conflict, more often than I'd like to admit, I choose to keep my mouth (aka keyboard) shut. 

But then there are the times that something bothers me so deep into my core that I feel like I'm doing myself a disservice by not speaking up. So I'm going to do just that.

There's lots of talk around the globe right now about discrimination. It's an age-old problem, really. For generations people have endured discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex...you name it. Most recently the hype is in regards to homosexuality. 

The people supporting this type of discrimination use "religious freedom" as their reasoning. 

Religious freedom? This has consumed my thoughts lately because I cannot wrap my head around it.

It's cowardly.

It's misguided. 

It's bullshit.

SOSTOPITRIGHTNOW.

I'm a Christian. 

Like many words in the English language, Christian can be used as both a noun and an adjective.

According to Merriam-Webster "Christian" is defined as the following:

Christian    noun

: A person who believes in the teachings of Jesus Christ

Christian    adjective

: of or relating to Jesus Christ or the religion based on his teachings

: of, relating to, or being Christians

: treating other people in a kind and generous way


Hmmmm. Perhaps I am missing something, but it appears that if I choose to discriminate against another human being, I am contradicting THE VERY THING I am using as my excuse to do so. 

I feel like simple definitions should be enough to prove my point, but perhaps not. So I'll take it a step further. 

People love to quote the bible to support their stance on this one, so I'll do the same. Let's pretend I'm someone who feels at liberty to pass judgment on others and one day I find myself at heaven's gates. 

God: Well, hello. Welcome to Heaven. 

Me: Hi! I'm sooooo happy to be here! 

God: Well, I've got your file here and you've got a few things to explain before entering paradise. 

Me: Okay.

God: It looks to me like you spent a considerable amount of your time on earth judging others. 

Me: Ummmm....well, only people that I decided weren't living right. But, I decided that because of some things I read in the Bible.

God: Oh? Well, if you're so versed in the Bible, I must ask...did you read the whole thing?

Me: Ummmm...well, for the most part. 

God: Great! Because in that case you know how I feel about judging others. I believe it's Matthew 7:1-5 that says "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." 
Do you remember that part?

Me: Well...

God: Do you know that I love you?

Me: Of course I do!

God: Even though you're a sinner.

Me: Uh-huh. That's why you sent Jesus to die on the cross. 

God: Right. So, you must also know that I love everyone. And you remember that I commanded that you must also love one another, right? 

Me: Well...yes

God: Right. Because you know...the Bible. Which means you know that John 15:12 says, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." 

Me: ...

God: Did you by any chance use your Christianity as a reason to behave the way you have behaved? Remember, I already know the answer so think about that.

Me: Yes

God: Well, that doesn't make very much sense to me.

Me: Why not?

God: Do you love me?

Me: Of course!

God: Well, if that is true, and it is true that you follow the Bible, and your life's intention was to be a Christian, then I would think you would have put some consideration into John 4:20 that says, "If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen." 

Me: ...

God: Can you explain yourself? 

Me: I was self-righteous. 

God: And you know how I feel about that, right?

Me: *sigh* I do. Romans 10:3? "For being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness."

God: Very good! Now you're getting it. It seems to me that all this time you've behaved as if you could do my job better than me. 

Me: NO! 

God: But you knew this was going to happen. It's later in Romans that says, "Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will ALL stand before the judgment seat of God."

God: So???

Me: I'm sorry. I'm so, so, sorry. 


And that's a conversation I'd just rather not have. 


Friday, February 7, 2014

Wanna Be Friends?

Making friends is hard. 

Oh, how I long for the days of walking across the playground and up to another child pronouncing, "We're friends now," and skipping off to the swings hand-in-hand. 

I grew up in a small town and, with the exception of the years I spent in college, lived in that same small town until I was 31 years old. Since then I've lived in two different states. Fortunately, I've made friends in both, but it hasn't always been easy. I've had to step out of my comfort zone. I've had to put myself out there. It's hard, you guys. 

When was the last time you heard a man talk about another man as he walked away. "Oh. My. God. Did you seeeee his pants? Way too tight. Hideous." It just doesn't happen. Women, on the other hand, are horrible. I'm sorry ladies, but we are. I don't know how many times I've been in a situation where one woman has had something negative to say about another woman in the room. Whether it's her clothes or her hair or her size, it's always something. It irritates the shit out of me and it makes me want to punch kittens. As I stand there I can't help but think, "Well, hells bells. I wonder what she's going to say about me when I leave?!" And then I consider never walking away ever. Think about that if you're someone who does this. And knock that shit off. Seriously. It's awful and it makes everyone feel bad and you JUST SHOULDN'T DO IT. 

Knowing women are this way makes it hard to be confident (read: ballsy) enough to lend yourself to the vulnerability of meeting new people. However, after all this time of living in a city of strangers, I've learned that it's pretty much a necessity unless I want to live a life of friendless solitude (believe me, there have been times when I've considered that option). 

Yesterday I got a pedicure. Not something I do often, but I'm going to an event next week where I'll be wearing open-toed shoes and it had to happen. Anyway, I'm sitting in the pedicure chair when a woman comes in and sits down in the chair next to me. The employee asks her what kind of pedicure she wants and she answers, "Whichever one takes the longest. I want to be here as many minutes as possible." I kind of laughed to myself and we gave each other the familiar look that says, "I feel ya, sistah." As we sat there, we started visiting. We talked about kids and jobs and husbands and travel and lots of other "small talk" subjects, but it was pleasant. Neither of us had any reason to be anything but ourselves. We'd never met before and would likely never see each other again. It was great because I am a huge fan of bullshit-free zones. When you enter a friendship with me, what you see is what you get. No bullshit allowed. 

We both finished our pedicures at the same time and were standing at the checkout counter still chatting. She started to walk out the door when I stopped her and said, "Wait. I hope this isn't weird, but here's my number. I've learned that sometimes you just have to tell someone that you want to be friends. Call me if you want to go to lunch or something sometime." Surprised, she took the piece of paper and looked at it. Then she looked at me and said, "Thank you. Thank you for this. It's not weird at all. I'd love to go to lunch." 

Whether or not we'll actually go to lunch one day remains to be seen. Maybe. Maybe not. She may never call. But I put myself out there and gave a big fat middle finger to any fear of rejection I had, and it was awesome and refreshing and a little bit liberating.

I don't know why we've made adulthood so hard. Be nice. Be a friend. Revisit the playground sometime. 


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Twas Grace That Taught...

Yesterday I shared an article (written by someone else) on my Facebook page about Richard Sherman, cornerback for the Seattle Seahawks. If you're just returning from the moon and somehow missed it, what happened was, immediately following the NFC Championship game he gave an on-field interview that quickly escalated to status: infamous. The interview lasted 25 seconds, but whether or not he will ever live it down remains to be seen. 

Shortly after that interview, he went on to give a 12 minute post-game press conference where he conducted himself with an air of formality and respect - even thanking the fans of the 49ers and praising Peyton Manning. Then some hours later he penned an extremely well-written article (I can only hope to EVER write so eloquently), addressing the incident as being "...loud, in the moment, and it was just a small part of the person I am." In the article he also expressed disappointment at hearing about the Seahawks fans who allegedly threw food at an injured San Francisco player as he was carried off the field saying, "If it's true, it's beyond terrible. That's as low as it gets...all players deserve better than that."

The intention of my Facebook post was not to start a heated debate on whether or not Sherman's behavior was appropriate because clearly it was not. The intention was to say, "Hey! Look at what this guy has done. He beat the odds. According to statistics, because of where he was raised he had a better chance of joining a gang and being involved in drugs than he had of leading a successful life. And not only successful, but a college graduate, a professional football player, and a philanthropist. Yay, him!" 


But, instead, it quickly turned into a character assassination. 

To say he was intense or worked-up would be an understatement. He was loud - VERY loud - and made some undeniably arrogant comments. But he didn't curse and he didn't say anything vulgar and he didn't strut around grabbing his crotch. Not that an absence of those things excuses him for what he did do, but let's consider the crime when delivering the punishment why don't we? 

People left comments on that post suggesting he erased all of the accomplishments he has achieved throughout his life with that one interview, generalizing that he had no brains, no class...practically crucifying him based on those few brief moments. Ouch.


I am not now, nor did I at any point in my post, defend his behavior during that on-field interview. I thought and still think it was obnoxious and unnecessary. But to let that single action define the entirety of his character seems a bit harsh. 

I take pause to think about the hot water I would be in should I have a television crew waiting around to capture my heat-of-the-moment reactions on film for all the world to scrutinize. Yikes. 
Note to self: Don't get famous.

One of the most memorable sermons I ever had the privilege of hearing was about 6 months ago. It was delivered on the topic of grace. 


By definition grace means to forgive, to grant mercy, to give favor or goodwill. 

During that sermon, the pastor discussed how hard a concept grace is for us to truly understand, because to understand it is to be able to not only receive it without burden, but to offer it to others in the same respect. The former we are willing to take hold of; the latter...eh, not so much. 




I know I have, and will continue to need my fair share of grace throughout this lifetime. Both from God, and from my fellow man. How can I in good conscious accept it from others if I'm not willing to extend it all the same? 

Even when it's to football players who give objectionable, over-the-top  interviews. 





Thursday, January 9, 2014

If You Give This Girl a Chore...

At the end of the day I am often left wondering, "What did I DO all day?"

I look around and see tasks half done. Baskets of laundry partially folded or put away, a pile of dirt swept into a neat little pile in the kitchen floor but never disposed of, emails written yet never sent. I think to myself, "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?"

Alas. I have finally figured it out.

Adult ADD is real, yo.

A few days ago my husband was packing for a business trip.

"Would you do me a HUGE favor and iron these pants for me? I promised to play catch with the kids before I left and I need to head out in about an hour."

"Sure. No problem."

So I went upstairs to get out the ironing board and bent down to plug in the iron.

When I bent down to plug in the iron, I noticed some shoes on the floor.

So I took them into the closet.

When I took the shoes into the closet, I saw that there was no room on the shoe rack.

So I rearranged the shoes on the shoe rack so they would all fit.

As I was rearranging the shoes on the shoe rack, I noticed all these empty hangers sticking out everywhere among the clothes hanging above me.

So I gathered them up and hung them all together.

When I gathered them up and hung them all together, I saw a plastic dry cleaning bag slung over the rack.

So I grabbed it and took it over to the trash can.

When I carried it over to the trash can I saw that the trash can was full.

So I picked up the trash can and carried it downstairs to empty it.

When I carried the trash can downstairs to empty it, I remembered that I hadn't cleaned up the dishes from lunch.

So I started loading the dishwasher.

When I started loading the dishwasher, I saw my water glass next to the sink and realized I was thirsty.

So I walked over to the refrigerator to fill it.

When I walked over to the refrigerator to fill it, I decided I was hungry, too.

So I looked in the pantry for a snack.

As I was looking in the pantry for a snack, my husband came in from the backyard.

"Okay, gotta go! Did you iron my pants?"

So I went upstairs to get out the ironing board and bent down to plug in the iron.


Through A Child's Eyes

Look at yourself.
The outside.
The inside.
The parent you are. 
The friend, the spouse, the daughter, the son, the sister, the brother.

Do you like what you see?

My son is in 3rd grade. Despite the fact that he goes to a relatively small school, it consists of a considerably diverse (both cultural and religious) student body. Sometimes when I drop him off at school I watch all the children play. This morning I watched. What I witnessed was nothing short of beautiful.

What if...

What if the media never focused on people being skinny or fat or ugly or pretty. What if, instead, you had no reason to believe anything other than YOU are perfect. Your height, your weight, your skin color, your hair color...are all exactly how they are meant to be?

What if you knew you could have different beliefs without being judged? If your religion or political stance or sexual preference were all just part of what made you...YOU...and that was okay?

What if other moms/parents/people were indifferent to whether you had a career or stayed home or breast fed or bottle fed or spanked or didn't spank or fed your family organic or went out to eat 5 nights a week? What if they parented completely different than you...but would be your friend anyway?

What if when making friends, you didn't give a second thought to what kind of clothes you wore or how much money was in your bank account?

These things...they are all true for children.

Until they are taught otherwise, that is.

Children see people for who they are on the inside.

Until we teach them not to.


photo source