Monday, November 10, 2014

You're Entitled, They're Entitled, EVERYONE'S ENTITLED!

When my daughter was about 3, she had an epic melt down in Wal-Mart. When it happened, I'd estimate we'd been wandering those aisles for approximately 6 weeks. Or maybe it was 30 minutes. I can't really remember, as all time is lost when you walk through those automatic doors into the fluorescent expanse of discount excess with a toddler in tow.

I don't remember exactly what she was losing her mind over, but she decided she wasn't walking one more step and proceeded to throw herself onto the floor screaming. I picked her up and sat her in the big part of the cart, my eyes shooting daggers at her chubby, tear-stained little face. I continued toward the check out line, tossed a few more things in the basket, and eventually made my way out of my own personal hell on earth.

Shit that was embarrassing.

When my son was 3, we were in a restaurant when he decided he'd had about enough of sitting still in his booster chair. Screaming and kicking and all-around unpleasantness ensued. Not uncommon behavior for a 3 year-old because let's be honest...3 year-olds are nightmarish little creatures. After pleading with him for a couple of minutes to kindly get his act together (and him declining by continuing to not cooperate), my husband removed him from the scene. I asked for a couple of to-go boxes, scooped up what was left of our food, paid the bill and left. Sigh. We tried.

I can personally see a glaring difference in these two situations. While my daughter's tantrum was likely annoying to witness and listen to (and probably humorous to the other moms who were smugly shopping without their children), we weren't preventing anyone from getting their shopping done. She wasn't blocking the aisles or throwing things off shelves, or hindering other customers' general reason for being there.

However, when we were in the restaurant, my son's misbehavior was negatively affecting the dining experience of other patrons. While it was seriously…SERIOUSLY…inconvenient that we had to leave before we were finished, it would have been unfair to stay and ruin it for everyone else who was sitting in our area. We knew that taking a toddler into a restaurant (that wasn't equipped with a jungle gym) was a gamble, and the losing end of that bet was to have to bail before we were ready. We played and lost.

This weekend my husband and I decided to take our kids to tour the Winchester Mansion. We'd gone ourselves several years ago and told the kids about it, and they've been asking for us to take them ever since. If you ever find yourself in the California Bay Area, you should make the drive to San Jose and check it out. But it's not cheap. And there are lots of stairs and windows and tight spaces and not much (any) room inside for running around. Which is why my husband and I were surprised to see a family join our tour with a baby that was probably around a year old, a toddler and what I'd estimate to be a 6 year-old. The parents were so attentive that had I not seen them all walk up together, I wouldn't have even known who the kids belonged to for the rest of the tour (there really should be a sarcasm font). The mom did hold the baby for the duration - except for the time that she put her down and allowed her to repeatedly open and close a couple of the 100+ year-old doors in one of the rooms.

The toddler ran (and I mean ran) ahead of the group the majority of the time. The tour guide even asked him to hold her hand a few times so he wouldn't get hurt - you know, since HIS PARENTS couldn't be bothered to do that. Hellooooo they were here to enjoy the tour, you know.

The 6 year-old left handprints on every century old beautiful leaded glass window she could reach. But in her parents' defense, they didn't realize it seeing as she was so far away from them that they couldn't possibly see her doing that. How could they be expected to tell her to stop if they didn't even know it was happening? DUH.

Fortunately, the kids didn't behave in ways that prevented anyone from being able to listen to the guide or enjoy the tour. They were no more than mildly distracting. And I can't say that I am 100% sure that if one of the kids would have started screaming that their parents wouldn't have done anything about it, because that didn't happen. Thank goodness. But given the indifferent attitude I witnessed the rest of the time, I would have been surprised.

I'm not suggesting parents shouldn't take their kids out in public. Of course they should. That's how they learn appropriate public behavior. But not paying a lick of attention to them or neglecting to reprimand bad behavior is teaching them that it's okay to be inconsiderate of others and the property of others.

And there was my A-HA! moment.

It is no revelation that kids today feel entitled. I truly believe it is becoming an epidemic. But why wouldn't they feel that way? Think about it. They see it all the time in their parents. Those parents this weekend felt no obligation to manage their children's behavior. After all, they paid to be there, too. At least that's the message they were sending to the rest of us.

I think most of us would agree that it's considered taboo to say anything negative to a parent about the way their kid is behaving. Remember - I'm a parent, too. My stance on that is almost always mindyourownbusinessthankyouverymuch. The problem we encounter here is that it seems like people these days feel entitled to take their kids wherever they want and allow them to act however they want - without repercussion. An "I paid to be here, so too bad if my kids ruin it for you," mentality so to speak. That's not okay, either.

There ARE places that it really doesn't matter if your kid has a melt down while you're there (i.e. grocery stores, Target, Wal-Mart, the mall, the park, any restaurant that has a slide in it, any restaurant that gives out game tokens, any location that has a ski-ball machine, any location that rents something to wear on your feet (bowling shoes, roller skates, ice skates, etc.)…and Costco). If you don't have children and choose to go to one of these places, know that there will be children there and there is a good chance that one or 12 of them will be screaming because something isn't going their way. That's what kids do and it's really none of your business if it's not hindering your reason for being there. GET OVER IT.

Then there are the places that it DOES matter if your kid has a melt down while you're there and you need to do something about it. That would include any place yourself AND OTHERS are paying** for the privilege to be. And church. Which I know is a touchy subject because Jesus loves the little children all the children of the world. Well, so do I but that doesn't mean I'd prefer to hear them scream over listening to the message. If they're having a full-on episode, be considerate and take them outside.

I get it. I was a parent of toddlers and I was tired. SO TIRED. I was hoping to be able to hear the entire sermon that one Sunday without having to go to the cry room. It made me want to throw my own little tantrum to have to walk out of the movie when it was only half way over. DAMMIT I just wanted to eat a meal in its entirety. DEARLORDJESUS do you even KNOW how badly I needed to get out of the house and what it took to even get me there in the first place?

The thing is - none of those things were any one else's problem. When I signed up to be a parent, I signed up to miss out on a lot of things that I really would have liked to do. Because even though parenthood is awesome (no really), raising kids and doing the right thing is pretty fucking inconvenient almost all of the time. Deal with it.

**Airplanes don't count.  I know it sucks to listen to a screaming kid but what are we supposed to do, throw them out the emergency exit? Get a grip.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dear Mr. Walsh:

I've been sitting on this for a few days, which I realize in "blogger time" is an eternity. Current events today stay current about as long as my morning cup of coffee stays hot. 

But I haven't been able to shake how much I am bothered by the blog post you published last week titled "There is Nothing Brave About Suicide". To be honest, it made me kind of angry. So I decided to write about it, regardless of how stale the subject might now be. 

Before I continue, let's make one thing clear: I don't believe we should glorify suicide. I don't think healthcare professionals should dole out euthanasia medication like candy. I am NOT pro-suicide. Actually, I don't think anyone is. I'm pretty sure that even people who are suicidal don't wish other people would also be suicidal.  

That being said, some of the "points" you made literally made me put my face in my hands and shake my head wondering how you could possibly reach some of your conclusions. I can only hope you  don't truly believe much of what you wrote and did so only to take up internet space and generate page views.

Right out of the gate (in regards to Facebook posts you've seen on the subject) you tell us we should be alarmed because, "Your friends are impressed with a woman's plan to commit suicide."

You say this as if you are comparing people's reactions to how they might react to someone winning an award. Ummm…no. I've seen the words "brave" and "courageous" used quite a few times but I have yet to see anyone comment, "I am so impressed with your plan to commit suicide!" Please. 

You also suggest, "She is a martyr for self-destruction." 

Do you honestly believe that her objective here is for droves of people to line up for a turn to take their own lives? Let's be serious. 

Then there's this one (possibly my favorite line of ridiculousness)…"She is dying with dignity. Which means dying of cancer is not dignified. You are accusing people who die of cancer of having no dignity." 

Wow. I think you should consider developing a new board game called, "Word Twist: A Game that Makes Everything Anyone Ever Says Sound as Horrible as Possible".  I'm pretty sure no one in the history of ever would "accuse" (nice word choice) someone who dies of cancer of being undignified. 

Here's the thing, Matt. Thankfully, I'm not in this woman's shoes. I am not currently facing a road of months of guaranteed pain and suffering. I'm sure she feels sad and terrified and a million other emotions that I can't begin to imagine. I don't want to imagine. No, I don't condone her decision to end her life. It saddens me deeply. But it certainly isn't my place to condemn her for it. 

And neither is it yours.

After reading this particular post, I went back and read some of your others to see if perhaps this one just happened to be unusually harsh. Nope.  

I've got to say, Matt, that I don't understand your brand of Christianity. 

You seem to thrive on telling everyone you don't agree with what they're doing wrong. Oh, how I wish you wouldn't do that. It gives the rest of "us" a bad name.  It is hypocritical, as well as ironic. You frequently reference how people today have tendencies to "play God". But you, in essence, are doing the same thing. Think about it. There are dozens of Bible verses that speak of not judging one another. How it's not our job and we shouldn't do it because there is only ONE supreme Judge. Yet, from what I can tell, you do precisely that in virtually every one of your posts. (P.S. I'm confident the one Judge the Bible speaks of is NOT you.) Just a little something to chew on. 

For the record, I think we should always attempt to change the mind of anyone contemplating suicide. Regardless of their reasons. OF COURSE WE SHOULD. And as Christians, we should share our beliefs. We should encourage others to join us in them. 
We should also be kind. 

Perhaps you could have said…

A poor young woman is suffering terminal cancer and has decided to take her own life. While I have no idea what she is going through, I sincerely wish she would change her mind and choose life. Please join me in praying for her miracle. 

But that probably wouldn't get you as many page clicks as telling a dying woman that her choice isn't brave. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Off to a Bang-Up Start. Literally.

Day 5 of our first week back to school.

I'm not sure what's happening, but my give-a-shit-o-meter is dangerously low for this stage of the game.

I didn't exactly get things off on the right foot, as I had a wreck the day before school started. I was on my way to the grocery store to stock up on all the back-to-school goods...nutritious (ahem) breakfast food, school lunch items, and the kids' favorite afternoon snacks. I was debating with myself on which grocery store to go to and at the last minute decided to pass my usual (because it's the closest and usually less expensive), to go to the one a little further down the road (because it is almost always less crowded and therefore more pleasant). Plus I remembered I had a coupon for that particular store. I love my coupons.

As I made the decision to drive on, I ran a red light that falls right after the entrance to the first grocery store parking lot. I RAN A RED LIGHT. I am that annoying driver who will stop when approaching a light that just turned yellow - with not only enough time for myself, but also the 3 cars behind me, to get through the intersection before it turns red. That's me and I RAN A RED LIGHT. I hit a car. It was terrifying. Had it been ONE SECOND later I would have missed the car completely. Had it been ONE SECOND earlier, that car would have plowed directly into the passenger side of my car - where my 13 year-old daughter was sitting. It's really better that I not play the "what if" game, because the thought of that particular "what if" literally makes me nauseous.

Fortunately, it was not a major accident. In fact, the damage (or more accurately - lack thereof) was remarkable. I barely clipped the car's tail end. And miraculously (thank you, God!) no one was injured.

I wasn't texting or talking on the phone or eating or changing the radio station or yelling at my kids in the backseat. I wasn't fighting off falling asleep and I hadn't just spilled hot coffee in my lap. I hadn't been drinking or doing drugs or any of the things that we associate with "careless" drivers. I was simply thinking through my grocery list, the rest of my day, the upcoming week…and my mind wandered for a split second. And in that split second I managed to become a "careless" driver.

So, unfortunately, the lesson I have to pass along is a virtually impossible one called "Don't ever lose focus not even for two seconds and not even if you have one million things on your mind." Do with that what you will.

*I will say this, though - if you text and drive: STOP. Really. STOP it NOW.*

And now comes the part where I get all cliche…
Remember every day is a gift.
Life can change in an instant.
Even responsible people make mistakes.

Right. This post was not supposed to be about me playing crash-up derby.

Moving on...

Back to school. Most years I reside in the camp of, "I'm soooo sad that summer is over…Oh look! There's the bus I'll see you in seven hours byeeeee."

This year? Notsomuch. Our summer passes with increasing speed each year. I don't know if it's because we are able to have more and more fun the older the children get, or if the earth is actually spinning faster. Either way, on the night before school started we sat in the back yard after dinner, our feet dangling in the pool as we watched the sun set behind the towering redwoods. I thought to myself, "Wow. That was fast. It feels like it was just yesterday I was counting the days until summer vacation would start, and here we go again." I was genuinely sad to see it end.

And then we went upstairs, set our alarms, and went to bed.

Day one: I yelled at my youngest for being overly dramatic about having to get up before 10 a.m.
Day two: I overslept. Dropped daughter off literally one minute before the bell.
Day three: I realized I never posted back-to-school pictures. And I took a whole 4!
Day four: I forgot to send my daughter's volleyball uniform with her for team pictures.
And today - day 5 - my son came downstairs with shorts that were borderline too small, his shirt wrinkled and on backwards, his hair not brushed. I made him turn his (still wrinkled) shirt around, but I used the hand-lick-hair-swipe move to fix the broken parts in lieu of a fight over going back upstairs to use an actual brush. Also he wore the shorts.

I'm sitting here considering opening a bottle of wine at 10 a.m. in celebration that I've actually gotten them to their designated locations - on time (barely) - 5 days in a row. I've even remembered to pick them up. So yay.

I often use holidays as a gauge for how much effort I should be putting forth throughout the school year. For example, I usually wait to start checking out until around President's Day, giving it a good ol' college try at least through Christmas. And in my opinion, assigning major projects after Easter is a real asshole move.

But at the rate I'm currently going, my kids will be lucky to find a handful of crushed goldfish crackers and a slice of processed cheese in their lunches by Columbus Day which, in case you didn't know, is at he beginning of October. Whatever. 

Have your kids started the new school year? How's it going so far? 

Monday, July 28, 2014

What I Was Doing While I Wasn't On Facebook

I'm not saying that I have an addictive personality. I'm just saying I should never try heroin probably. Not that I have been considering it…I'm just saying it's a bad idea for people who have a tendency to get hooked on things. It's actually a really bad idea in general, but especially for those people.

Let's start over.

If you follow followed me on Facebook, you've probably noticed that I've been absent for 2 weeks now. Or maybe I'm giving myself too much credit and you haven't noticed my absence at all. Probably the second one but for my ego's sake we'll go ahead and pretend that the countless hours I spent logged on to faceplace over the years actually meant something and that everyone is missing me terribly.

Okay, then.

I was totally addicted to the thing. What's weird is that I really haven't had much trouble living without it. The ease of it has been kind of shocking, actually.

Here are just a few of the things I've done to fill my time.

I helped my daughter bury my son in sand on the beach. 

I watched my teenager revel in the tranquility of kite-flying.

I hosted a very fancy tea party.

I finished season 2 of 'Orange Is The New Black'. Whoa. Just whoa. Also? Don't judge me. 

My daughter and I had a movie night at home. Those are the best kind, really. 

I started and finished two books. 

I'm  still on the fence about how I feel about The Giver. I had a hard time getting past it's weirdness and I'm lukewarm on the ending. It does make you think, though, and I like books that do that. It's being made into a movie, which should be interesting since the book isn't very long. And also it is weird. Did I already mention that?

There just aren't enough words to sum up Etched in Sand by Regina Calcaterra. It is heartbreaking, it is triumphant, and it is a true story. She gives a new meaning to the word "perseverance". I cringed and I cried and I cheered. And then I did all those things again. This book has the potential to be life-changing once I figure out the best way to turn my feelings into actions. I finished it several days ago and I still think about it all the time.

I gathered a bunch of tools and hung this laundry room shelf ALL BY MYSELF after tiring of asking my husband forty-seven thousand times to do it. Four months (seriously - I bought the thing at the beginning of April) is apparently how long it takes to wait me out by saying "I'll do it before I go to bed on Sunday." Lies! Four months that he's fed me that line on Saturday morning and four months I've gone to bed Sunday night and managed to not smother him with a pillow because I still had a shelf-less laundry room wall. Anyway. I used a drill and a level and wall anchors and everything and, yeah,  I totally feel like hot shit right about now.

This is the text exchange between us when I sent him the picture of my handiwork. My intention was for him to feel very sad that he never got around to hanging his wife's shelf. I think his feelings are better described as victorious. What an ass.

So, do I miss Facebook? Hells yeah. Reality TV is successful for a reason. Other people's lives are interesting, yo. Facebook allowed me to keep up with what everyone was doing, and now I kind of feel like I live in cave. A cave with plumbing and wi-fi, but still. And while I feel a little LOT out of the loop on what's going on in everyone else's lives, I've been 100% focused on what's going on in mine. And I kind of dig it.

P.S. My Facebook hiatus will continue, but you can still find me on Instagram and Pinterest. (I am a miserable failure on Pinterest but you should probably follow me anyway.)

P.P.S. Now that I'm not on Facebook, my reach is really limited for sharing that I've published a new blog post. So, if you like what you read, and you ARE on Facebook it'd be super cool if YOU shared it with your friends.

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. 


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!


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.


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, 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.


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, 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

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Resolve to Find Joy

It's been quite a few years since I made a New Year's resolution. The times that I did, they were almost always the typical empty promises to lose 10 pounds, exercise more, become a morning person (that one is particularly hilarious), or eat less junk food. I would generally start off with a bang...until the first opportunity arose to send them flying out the window (usually sometime mid-morning on January 2nd), at which time I did exactly that.

2013 was a year of reflection for me. I probably owe a majority of that to my writing as I now spend a lot more time "in my head". 

In response to all I have learned about myself in the last 12 months as a result of my "reflecting", I have decided to bite the proverbial bullet and make a resolution for 2014.

A couple of months ago I came across a silver pendant with an inscription that read, "Find Joy in the Journey". I rarely purchase jewelry of any kind for myself, but I bought it. I wear it on a necklace and it is the first thing I see when I look in the mirror each morning.

This year my resolution is to find joy in my journey. That means different things to different people, but to me it means...

  • I will be content with who I am. Not to be confused with complacent, as there is always room for becoming a better me. But I will work to do just that...become a better ME. I will NOT strive to be someone else.
  • I will stop comparing myself to others. I will not allow someone else's life or achievements to minimize the significance of mine. The only person in control of that is me and, as Theodore Roosevelt once said, "Comparison is the thief of joy". I mustn't steal my own joy. 
  • I will feed the relationships that bring me happiness, and walk away from the ones that don't. 
  • I will remember the serenity prayer and the part about things that are out of my control. And I will let them go.
  • I will stop beating myself up for the times I "fail" at parenting. Some days I will yell and some days I will pack sugar and preservatives in my children's lunches and some days I will let them watch television for 4 hours straight. Some days I'll spend too much time on my phone or my computer. I will take those days for what they are and then I will rejoice in the other days. The ones when I don't do any of those things and instead have a myriad of parenting "wins". The days when I cook homemade meals and play at the park and read bedtime stories. And regardless of which kind of parenting day I have, I know that each night I'll tuck my kids into bed with a kiss and a hug and they will have no question as to how immeasurably they are loved.
  • I will be mindful of my health and my body, but I will stop worrying so much about what society says my "outer self" should look like. I will be okay with the fact that I may no longer wear a size 2 4 6 (You get what I'm saying. P.S. I've never been a size 2.). I will spend more time working toward becoming an extraordinary person in what most would consider an ordinary body rather than the other way around.

This is probably the hardest resolution I've ever made. It is also one that will, no doubt, need to be re-resolved year after year. 

So, friends, whatever your resolution for the next 365 days may (or may not) be, my wish for you is that you will find joy in your journey.