Monday, April 30, 2007

Your Mission...

...should you choose to accept it, is:
1. To visit Newlywifed and tell her what a gorgeous pregnant woman she is.
2. To visit Slush and welcome home H2, after an incredible journey, their little Guatemalian baby is home!
3. To visit Jenny today and give her a cyber hug.
4. Visit P2 and tell him to GIVE ME BACK MY CAT. (okay, so they just look alike...)
5. Tell Jules that we all miss her writing and want her to blog again soon. Like today. Maybe this hour?
6. Visit Katrina and tell her congrats for getting published in CK and wow! What a great baby pic (she's really a great photographer!)
7. Congratulate Shell on completing her novel!
8. Please urge UC to tell us the rest of the Vegas story (what happens in Vegas NEEDS TO BE BLOGGED ABOUT!!)
9. Wish Ellen a belated Happy Birthday!
10. Prepare yourselves. LM turns 11 on Wednesday . Every year, as his birthday approaches, I find myself doing the math...if I meet Mr. Wonderful this afternoon, and we have a whirlwind romance and find ourselves married in 6 months, and 6 months after that we are pregnant, and 9 months later we have a child, LM would be nearly 13 years older than my next child. Sigh. I love this kid so much, I just always thought he'd make a great big brother.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Devotion - Norman

Devotion. Perhaps not what I would have titled this novel. Perhaps "Forgiveness" or "Grace" or even "Love". But not "Devotion."

Norman's novel is a love story of sorts. A whirlwind romance ruined by a perceived affair on the honeymoon. It tells more about the relationship of the son to his father-in-law after the affair is found out by the father-in-law and an ensuing argument ends in a car accident leaving the father in need of extensive care. The care is not given by the daughter, although she continues to visit often, but is provided by the man who caused the accident and the alleged affair to begin with.

As poignantly expressed by the estranged wife late in the novel, the husband, the cause for her and her father's pain, never goes out of his way to apologize, to make amends, to offer what he could for an explanation. He simply continues to live on the same estate with his recovering father-in-law, caring for a herd (a gaggle? a school? a what?) of swans.

The novel comes together quickly in the end, with the assumption the reader was along for that outcome.

I guess I don't get it. The only devotion I see is the care these men, particularly the father, takes for the swans. And while I could extrapolate the idea that swans mate for life, even that idea is questioned in the novel, leaving me to wonder exactly which character is demonstrating any sense of devotion. The end feels like a rough compromise, not a redemption of a heartfelt adoration. I do not sense any forgiveness, nor do I sense any apology. I am left feeling frustrated that this woman never made her husband stand up for himself, that a relationship that was "love at first sight" was never fought for by anyone. That it feels as if everyone simply "settled".

I do not believe any of it is devotion.

Sweetwater Creek - Siddons

I read "Hill Towns" by Anne Rivers Siddons years and years ago and strongly disliked it. As I recall, Siddons had some fascination with sex in that book that I just didn't take to (go figure). I picked up "Sweetwater Creek" at the library last week, thinking I would give Siddons another try. There was still some strange sexual undercurrent in this novel (perhaps Ms. Siddons has some personal therapy she's trying to work through in her writing?) but it wasn't quite as pervasive.

Sweetwater Creek is an idyllic childhood home. With a location by the water (where the dolphins return every fall) and a livelihood of breeding the best hunting spaniels around, the only thing lacking in Emily's world is the mother than ran off without explanation years before. Young Emily has made up for the loss of her mother through her close relationship with her ailing older brother. When Buddy takes his own life, Emily is left in a house of all men, with only her spaniel, Elvis as a companion.

Siddons introduces us to Lulu, a melancoly upper-class teenager in need of respite who is welcomed into the homestead by Emily's father mainly to provide the family with the necessary social connections to move into the elite social circles of Lulu's family and heritage. What we get instead is a disturbing relationship between this emotionally fragile and sexually exploitive teen and young, innocent, forgotten-about Emily. Siddons presents the friendship to the reader as a benefit to both characters for the longest time, only later revealing the truth behind Lulu's issues and the staggering impact such would have on a 12 year old girl.

This coming of age novel lacks any sense of redemption or purpose in my opinion. While the book tidies up its ending so that the reader is left to believe that Emily has found hope afterall, and that her father has, in fact, secured for her a step into the right social network, I don't think it justifies the damage already done. The hope of reconstruction in this young girl's life seems to me to lie in the endearing aunt who is pushing aside and taken for granted by the characters in the novel, and even upon her re-entry into the family unit, it seems that her influence is greatly undervalued.

For the second time, I was unimpressed by Siddons. This novel could have made the same points without any sexual perversion whatsoever. Perhaps it is as a mother that I most strongly reject this novel, hoping that as parents we would be more protective of our families.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Team

They sat on the floor in circles, two distinct groups with matching t-shirts to identify the teams. A question was posed, read twice and then the groups leaned in and whispered to each other. A leader sat in the middle of each, nodding, whispering back, questioning and finally looking around their group for consensus. An answer was provided. The judge gave a response. Points were tallied. The audience, moms and dads straddling hard, metal middle-school chairs, or propped up on top of desks, applauded and smiled.

Three rounds of 20 or more questions each , an accumulation of points, an awards ceremony where everyone went home with a ribbon, but some of a different color than others.

For the past five or six months, LM has been reading from a list of 45 assigned books. They have not been difficult to read, but some were not all that entertaining in thought or content to keep his attention. He participated in the Reading Olympics reluctantly, at the urging of his mother who thought a team-effort exercise was good for her "I know it best" only child.

And it was.

LM was not the leader of his group, but he was quick to offer in his answer to the team and even gave the explanation himself when it was clear he was the most knowledgeable on any given question. He deferred to others on the team when he was unfamiliar with a question and supported his teammates and opponents equally. In the end, he even said how much fun it was.

I was very proud.

And so I told him, when it was all over, just how impressed I was with him. And I congratulated him on a great victory, not one that had to do with points, but one that had to do with teamwork, and the accomplishment of reading and remembering and applying his knowledge.

The celebratory trip to Dairy Queen had to be postponed due to the lateness of the event and the traffic congestion getting home from the middle school. A bit of Ben and Jerry's had to suffice until we can officially make the DQ run this weekend.

We sat side by side on the couch when we arrived home, enjoying the accomplishment, enjoying each other. LM said he was 'weary'. "This is the best kind of sleep, though, Mom. The kind where your mind and your body are all just so tired that you just fall into bed and fall into sleep."

And a well-earned rest at that, my boy. A well-earned rest indeed.

I am so very proud of my Little Man and his Reading Olympics team. Go Reading Rockets!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Archiving Blogs - Update

Awhile back, I posed the question of how I might actually archive my blog in a somewhat scrapbook-y fashion. Dawn recently had a post that proclaimed the virtues of this website, and I wanted to pass along the tip to all of you who asked that I share any information I found on the topic. I haven't thoroughly searched through to find out how well it works, but believe me, I will! I'll keep you posted, too.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

I Am Such A Loser

I'm watching game three of the series between the Yankees and the Red Sox and the thing that's disturbing me (not the tie score in the 6th) is that fans have signs in support of Daisuke Matsuzaka that look like this:

which, in my opinion is grammatically incorrect (it technically reads "Die-K" which is certainly NOT the message we hope to be sending). To be correct, a sign should look like this:

Yeah, I know. I should simply revel in the four consecutive home runs by the Red Sox, hope for a win to complete the sweep tonight and leave the Boston fans alone. I know. But it bugs me. Reason #47 why I am a loser.




Rednecks Aren't Stupid (Okay, not all)

April 22, 2007 (The date is an important part of a letter. It provides documentation of the specific date the letter was sent giving credence and reference to the contents.)

Dear Fox Sports: (This line is called the 'salutation'. It specifically states to whom the letter is addressed.)

As a loyal NASCAR fan, I am disappointed to inform you that I will no longer be viewing any races broadcast on Fox. (This opening line is critical in stating the purpose and intent of the letter and should be carefully worded so as to spark an interest in the reader). Despite my favorite leader moving up from 17th place to fourth by the mid-way point of the race broadcast from Phoenix last evening, I was finally forced to shut off the broadcast lest my intelligence be further insulted.

It seems to me that Fox Sports is more interested in attracting new viewers to each NASCAR race than providing respectable commentary for those of us who have been fans for longer than a week. In last night's commentary, as with the previouis broadcasts, Lary, Daryl and Mike have felt it necessary to repeatedly explain to viewers exactly what the COT is, how it came about, it's differences and the current concerns. They have also repeatedly explained the "Lucky Dog" pass, a rule that has been in affect for two years. In addition, the commentators have re-explained tire wear, tire pressure, drafting, 'aeropush' and more aspects of the race that are all-too familiar to those of us who have watching NASCAR in the past. (This first paragraph should state the main reason for the correspondence. Providing specific details to elaborate on a given point.)

Having just viewed the Yankees vs. Red Sox game on Fox prior to the race, I did not find one instance during the baseball game where Joe Buck explained what a DH was, why a runner stopped when he reached first base, or what exactly consitutes a 'home run'. It would seem as though the baseball commentators assume their audience knows a little something about the game, and if not, that they have the resources available to them to find out. I only wish this assumption were true during the NASCAR broadcasts. (This paragraph should provide further elaboration, including secondary points and evidence.)

While I am an avid NASCAR fan, and have faithfully watched races for more than five years, I regretfully withdrawal my viewership from Fox Sports. I realize it would be possible to simply mute the Fox commentators and play the radio broadcast alongside the Fox television broadcast, but I do not wish to support the sponsors of the remedial broadcast. (This paragraph should state action items, or the result of the evidence provided in previous paragraphs. It is best to try to make as big of an impact as possible with your words to draw immediate attention and action from the reader.)

If changes are made in the race day commentary, you will have to let me know by mail, as I will not be viewing, nor will my family and friends be viewing as we have since given up hope for any alterations to the intelligence level of the broadcasts. (While the statement about my family and friends may or may not be true, it is of normal practice to finish the letter with a bold, heavy-handed remark meant to make a lasting impact.)

It is my hope that Fox Sports recognizes the intelligence level of their viewers (even rednecks can understand NASCAR rules) and begins to reflect that understanding in their broadcasts. Perhaps finding commentators who have an above-average IQ will assist in finding a remedy to this situation.

Sincerely, (I would normally sign my letters 'Best regards', but in this case, it's all I can do not to say something much worse, so I'll stick to the very banal, 'Sincerely'.)

Eliza Jane
(The signature line is critical. It takes responsibility and credit for the words and issues stated above, giving the letter merit.)

P.S. I hope you found my elementary explanations of letter writing to be as annoying as I found last night's rules explanations to be.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

LM on Trumpet, Sir Eli on Howls



(Eli howled the whole time I was editing and uploading this video. I haven't laughed this hard in months!)

Friday, April 20, 2007

More Questions

To continue fielding the questions that LM's school seems willing to pose to our children (but not define or actually answer), last night I was posed with yet another stimulating conversation starter with my eleven year old son.

"Mom, the counselor told us that HIV/AIDS is spread through 'unprotected sex'. What does 'unprotected' mean?"

I saw this one coming a mile away, didn't I?


Oh how I miss dinner conversations about the dog.


Reasons to Celebrate

As if being Friday isn't enough, here are some reasons we are celebrating today:

1. The sun is shining and it's in the upper 60's. (Enough reason for me to throw a party, I swear!)
2. With the break in the weather, I will get the deck sealed (tonight) before my new downstairs neighbor moves in and puts furniture out on her patio.
3. LM has TWO loose teeth. Not a big deal to most kids, but to mine, who has lost only two on his own (read that: without the aid of plyers and the dentist) we are all THRILLED!
4. I am in contact with a foster agency closer to my home. While I love the one I'm in training with, it's a good hour to their door and I will need to go back and forth often for supervised visits with the birth family. A closer agency also provides me with more local resources and knowledge about day care providers and respite care. YIPPEE!!
5. Eli seems to be much happier now that we aren't putting him in his crate each day. He still has an occasional accident, but we're learning the why's and how to prevents, and we're all much happier (well, except the kitties, who have now banished themselves to LM's room...)
6. This weekend the Red Sox play the Yankees which means: I WILL GET TO SEE ALL THE GAMES (since network television seems to think these games are important or something...)
7. NASCAR has its first night race of the season in Phoenix on Saturday. 'nuff said.
8. Today was garbage and recycling day which meant the loads of recycling I had brought home from the office are now out of the utility closet and out on the curb. I can finally see the pile of laundry left in the closet...
9. My laptop is finally home after nearly two weeks of being at the repair shop. We have more memory, we'll have a new wireless card and we should be running smoothly all weekend. (What this means to you is: I'll finally be able to post the video clip I've had on the camera for over a week!)
10. Newly has an ultrasound pic on her blog - just go see it, it'll make your heart leap.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Summer Fletcher Greel Loved Me - Kingsbury

In Kingsbury's debut novel, she reminds all of us of the desire, the innocence and the price we pay for our first loves. With phrases that turn over in you mind like the heat rising off the Mississippi pavement, a story unravels about the love, secrets, redemption, loyalty and loss. Kingsbury juxstapositions the desperate sexual tensions of teenage love with misguided physicality and the limitations of societal acceptance on honest emotion.

While a bit explicit for my tastes, Kingsbury captivated me from the early pages with her writing style. With the rhythm and flavor of her phrases, the reader is drawn in to the deep south, to the intimacy of secrets, to inherent passions. Characters and a setting unfamiliar to my life's experience become seemingly familiar, as though the summer history of Haley, Fletcher, Riley and Crystal was my own.

There are some aspects of the novel that I felt were underexplored while the physicality of relationships seemed overdone. The end seemed an abrupt summary lacking the same flowing explanations we had experienced throughout. For the intensity with which the characters had come together, I struggled to understand how easily they seemed to accept loss.

Thank Goodness My "Husband" Was There To Help

Pre-arranged plans:

LM and I have eye appointments at 6 and 6:30, since they could take an hour or so (with exam and picking out new frames) I suggest to J that I just keep LM at my house for the night instead of J taking him as he usual does on Tuesdays. J agrees.

2 days before the appointment, I call to verify with J that we're all set for Tuesday just being a "Mom Day". J changes the plans.

New plans:

6:00pm, LM's eye appointment
6:30 - LM will pick out new frames (if necessary) while I have my eye appointment. (The woman at the eye place is really awesome at picking out frames - well, except for the ones she talked me into last time - and she can at least narrow them down and then I can just have the final say when my appointment is over.)
7:00 - J will pick up LM from the eye doc so they can have their usual evening together. I will pick out my new frames after my appointment.

Reality as it unfolded:

6:00pm, J arrives 5 minutes after we do for LM's appointment. eye doc is running behind schedule, so J and I sit and chit chat in the waiting room while LM reads a book ("Eragon" for the 7th time).
6:30, LM has his eye appointment. J and I continue our chit chat in the waiting room. Topics discussed: our current laptop issues, a letter from the alumni chair at our alma mater, LM's cold and the medicine I packed for his night at J's, and J's partner's 15 year old daughter's new boyfriend (and prom date) and how that's impacting J's partner.
7:00, my turn for an exam, LM's time to pick out new frames. I ask if it's okay that he interrupt my exam when he has his options narrowed down so that I can give final approval. Doc suggests "Dad" help with LM's choices. I try to cover my laugh, but tell J he can go help, but please still let me see the final options before a decision is reached.

J says to the optometrist, "I guess good fashion sense is a gene I should have inherited but somehow I didn't." Which would be a sort of funny joke if the optometrist knew that J was GAY and that he's not actually my husband as everyone is currently thinking in the office.

J and LM leave the exam room to go pick out frames.

5 minutes later, LM is in the room modeling a pair of frames. "Um, I don't love them," I say. "I do!" replies LM and off he goes. "We're ordering them in brown!" comes a shout from the frame-woman in the next room. Well, so much for Mom getting any say-so.

LM and J leave and I think I'm finally on my own to wrap things up. Following my exam, I meet with the woman in the frame room and she helps pick out a number of frames for me to try. She remarks what a "lively" child LM is. "He's an only, isn't he?" she asks. I confirm her thought and remark that apparently he has finally realized he has a choice in what he wears and decided to exert himself for the first time this evening. Frame woman says, "Your husband doesn't stand a chance with your son, does he?" Realizing that in about 3 minutes of interaction time, this woman has realized the truth, that J has never had much parental control (or desire for it) over LM and that in tandem, LM often comes off as the adult. I don't correct her thought that J is my husband, recognizing the innocence of the remark.

As I swap frames back and forth I am surprised to suddenly see LM standing in the doorway. They had gone to dinner and were now back in case I wanted more say-so in LM's frames, although LM has no intention of looking at any other ones. I let it go. It's his choice, it's his face. I ask LM what he thinks of the frames I have on my face. J says, "You don't want to know what I think of them." Well, no, truly, it isn't an opinion that matters to me, but I would look rude to say so, so I say instead, "No, go ahead, tell me." Regretting the words the moment they fall out of my unchaperoned mouth.

"You look just like my mother's yearbook photo with those frames."

"Yeah, I think I'll take these other ones," I say to frame woman.

I've been divorced six years now and I'm still having to deal with my ex husband and his MOTHER?! Say it isn't so.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

No Words

I cannot wrap my mind around the events that unfolded at Virginia Tech yesterday.

The only words echoing through my mind are

He was somebody's son. He was somebody's son.


As we mourn those that lost their lives, I think it is critical that we find solutions - not people to blame - but solutions. We need to know our children. We need to know one another. We need to make sure our children and one another know God.

He was somebody's son.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Test

To ensure they only get truly serious, aware and educated parents for the foster program, the organization I'm working with puts their candidates through a series of torture tests to make sure they will be able to withstand the drama, chaos and mahem expected in a foster placement. The first of my set of torture was to make sure that trying to get to the 5:30 meetings on time would be virtually impossible, no matter how early I leave work. It seems that the entire route there is a drive-with-your-head-up-your-butt zone. My second torture test occurred last week when they showed us slides of abuse photos. I'll admit, that was tough to look at and really tough to conceptualize. While I could clearly see how that mark on the child's back resembled the loop of an electrical cord, I had great difficulty imagining any parent actually INTENTIONALLY doing that to their child. I know, it happens. Obviously. But I had trouble getting my mind (and heart) around it. I am proud to say, however, that even those slides did not deter me and I returned again this week. Another torture test given to me is the mounds of paperwork required for application. Copies of everything from my marriage and divorce decrees to my pets' vaccination records to my driver's license and my homeowner's insurance is required. I also had to fill out more background information than was even required for my government secret clearance (every place I've lived since 1975 and everyone who has ever lived with me since that time.) I'm proud to say, I'm about 95% done with the paperwork.

Today, however, was a new and more serious form of torture. As we progress through the 12 weeks of class, I expect each test to get harder to overcome but this one today was nearly a setback. Today I had to have a physical.

Worse yet...

I had to step on the scale.

Let me just say it wasn't a pretty sight.

I also had to have a TB test and will have to go on Monday for blood work but that all pales in comparison to the fright of stepping on a doctor's office scale. I was proud of my physician, she didn't scream, she didn't pass out, and she didn't call the paramedics (not yet anyway, we'll see how my blood work comes back). You would think she had been through this torture test before.

As I write this this morning, my heart is still palpitating from the shock. I might have to call a therapist later this afternoon (I promise his name won't be Mr. Ben OR Mr. Jerry!) I only hope that whatever they throw me next week is not nearly as torturous as "The Scale". Chinese water torture? BRING.IT.ON.


A more serious side note: I am by no means a "high risk" candidate for HIV/AIDS, but have thought it is a reasonable idea that perhaps I should be tested. While I for one know my own carefulness in this regard, I cannot vouch for the other person(s) involved. Just to be certain and safe, I have thought it wise to get tested. This will be the third time I have asked to have the test performed alongside standard blood work. This is the third time the physician I spoke with has suggested I do not get tested, or that I do not get tested at that facility. The first doctor told me to just go donate blood, saying that was as good of a way as any to find out (yeah, great, and risk contaminating someone accidentally?! Um, NO THANKS!) the second one told me that if I didn't THINK I had HIV/AIDS then don't bother. Today I was given a more reasonable explanation when she suggested I go to an "anonymous clinic" as it can turn up negatively on a life insurance request years down the road if I just asked to be tested without cause for concern. Again, I have absolutely no reason to even think I'm at risk, but it amazes me that in a culture where people can be spreading the virus without even knowing it FOR YEARS, that we don't make this a mandatory test with any blood work performed. I will still get tested, I will find some "anonymous clinic" to have my blood drawn at (that doesn't sound good, does it?) but I think we need to make it easier and more routine for people to be tested. Even those of us trying to make the effort are finding it difficult. What about those who have reason to be worried? (stepping off soap box now...)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

27

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, G!!!

My brother, G, turns 27 today. Unbelieveable.


If you've spent any time around me at all, you know that I cannot, for the life of me, ever refer to my son or my brother within the same conversation without mixing up their names. I'm horrible at it. When they are in the same room, look out, I might as well just not even try to get it right.

It's not hard to imagine why I do this. Being 8 years older than my brother, in my mind, little blonde-haired, blue-eyed boys will always be G.

Always.

Happy Birthday, baby brother!

P.S. You might want to do some of this for your birthday:


but not too much of this:

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Party

LM's birthday is at the beginning of May. Knowing he will probably like to invite two classmates over for a sleep-over/bowling/pizza party like he did last year, I started looking at the calendar. I have bell choir in church the one weekend, making Sunday morning a VERY early morning (too early for an after-sleep-over morning!) and the next Mom weekend we may have company here. If we put it off until the end of the month, it's Memorial Day weekend and I suspect the kids won't be available for a party then.

I IM'ed my ex to talk about options, namely to see if I could swap a Saturday night so I could have him on a different weekend.

J misunderstood my request and said they would be happy to host a birthday sleep-over...

I took a breath and then explained my actual request.

He said that was fine, too, just to let him know, but if LM wanted to have his party that weekend, he could always do it at his dad's.

I said I would talk to LM about his options and let him know tomorrow.

Most mothers are busy with the cake, the party invitations, the schedule for the actual party, getting a great gift, favors for all the party attendees...

Me? I'm busy trying to explain to my ex husband how his homosexual lifestyle might impair his son's desire to invite friends over to the house. I never thought the preparations for my son's birthday would include carefully crafting my wording to my ex husband so as to not insult him, while still supporting my son's choice to NOT reveal his dad's homosexuality to his peers.

How do I get my ex to look at the situation through an 11 year old boy's eyes and realize there is no way LM is comfortable enough with my ex husband and his male, live-in partner, to invite over his best friends for his birthday?




How did this ever get to be my life?

No Exception

I can't think of one. Not ONE. I've been thinking it over for the last couple of days, amidst all the hoopla and I cannot think of one.

There is no word in my "white, 30-something, single, Christian mother" vocabulary that I think is appropriate for me to use, but not for some white, 30-something MALE, or some black 30-something female, or whatever.

What Don Imus said was wrong. Horribly, unapologetically wrong. It was insulting. To women. To African-Americans. To anyone with a sense of decency. It was wrong.

And it is equally wrong for rappers, for the rich and famous, for star athletes, for my neighbor down the street, for ME, to use such terminology to describe another human being. It is NOT okay for some African-American to use the terms Imus used but no okay for Imus. It is, across the board WRONG.

Should Don Imus be fired? Well, I suppose that depends on the goals of that company. If they are in the money-making business with morality aside, then follow the likes of Howard Stern and give him a promotion. If you are in the business of trying to be a role model, trying to raise our standards in this nation, of trying to demonstrate a level of decency towards one another, then fire him.

But as consumers, we can take a stand no matter what happens at the corporate level. Sponsors are pulling their dollars from Imus' show - that's in response to consumer backlash. If we refuse to buy rap albums, movies, magazines, products of any nature that support or promote violence, discrimmination, abuse, ignorance - they will cease to exist.

It is not up to the radio to decide for us what is decent and kind for humanity.

It is up to us.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Visit

New slacks, shoes and shirt....

New tie...

and a New Easter Dress - $100

A new game (birthday gift for G)...

...all about bluffing...

..that Eli could play better than I can..
....called "Liar's Dice" - $20

Coming up for Easter....

...playing with the dog...

...and surprising your nephew? PRICELESS!
(Thanks, G, for the wonderful visit!)

Things I Learned From My Dad

1. The light switch works in both directions. (You knew that one had to be on the list, it might as well be first!)
2. While driving should be taken seriously, keeping your hands at 10 and 2 is ridiculous.
3. How to catch a softball with my cheek.
4. That mini-golf is a competitive sport.
5. You shouldn't always let on that you're better than your opponent. (He played ping pong left-handed for years against some of our friends, just so they might stand a chance of winning.)
6. Marriage is till death do you part. And that's not easy.
7. Twizzlers are a food group.
8. It's always good to have a game plan.
9. A note card in your pocket can provide you with a grocery list, the measurements for the shelf you're looking for, an important phone number, a reminder of your dentist appointment and all sorts of useful information.
10. Lawn care is a full-time job.
11. Members of our family can fix just about anything. Except their own vehicles.
12. It's best not to try to even fix an old vehicle. Avoid the issue entirely by trading it in every three years.
13. You can hate swimming and still own a boat.
14. Sundays are meant for church and napping through a sporting event (I learned this one early and well!)
15. Soda is actually 'pop' and should come in a glass full of ice.
16. DisneyWorld is a wonderful place and you WILL.HAVE.FUN.THERE. (dangnabbit)
17. You can live your whole life without ever eating an onion or a green pepper. (Although Judy has brought him a long way!)
18. Even if you're just there to chaperone, you should always dance.
19. (But bring along a sewing kit just in case they play "The Twist".)
20. A sense of humor is key to a good personality. If you can't take a joke, you don't belong here. (oh, my poor ex-husband...)
21. Before leaving the house, make sure you have your keys, a pen, and wintergreen Lifesavers in your pocket.
22. It is critical to own both a truck and a minivan for the two occasions each year when they come in handy.
23. Rules are important to enforce. Until you become a grandparent.
24. You can actually retire a full year early if you never use a sick day.
25. Expect to run into someone you know everywhere you go. Even Mexico and Hawaii.
26. It is possible to be a "cool" high school principal and still maintain your authority.
27. Never climb a ladder to the roof without telling someone first.
28. McDonald's advertises the wrong price for their orange juice.
29. Cheerleaders are worthless.
30. So are cats.
31. It is possible to actually enjoy women's basketball (if you're over 55 and live in the Knoxville area...)
32. Saving for retirement is worth every penny.
33. It is possible to vacation every couple years in Mexico and NEVER drink the tequila. ( I have not actually tried this myself...)
34. Checkbooks should be balanced to the penny.
35. If the cucumbers cost more than $.69/pound, they aren't worth it.
36. Cantelope is actually called "musk melon" (and can be eaten with salt and pepper)
37. If you run errands on Saturday morning, bring home doughnuts. (Mmm...Swiss Maid...)
38. There is no reason to EVER be late.
39. "It's good enough for who it's for."
40. Sometimes disappointment is the only emotion a parent needs to show to prompt change in their children.
41. Forrest Gump is a great date movie.
42. Even if you don't drink alcohol, you can go through all the preparations to select the perfect bottle of wine and still fail to impress a date if you forget you don't own a corkscrew.
43. No matter how old you get, giving a mixed tape is still romantic.
44. You can go your whole life knowing only one song on the piano if you know just when to play it.
45. Retirement (aka 'lawn care') might keep you so busy that you'll need vacations just to relax.
46. The only insult that should ever be uttered in road rage is, "Good manuever, Gadoover!"
47. Screwdrivers should have names (beyond just 'flathead' or 'phillips' there's always 'Bertha')
48. So should cars.
49. Driving ten miles out of your way to save two cents on gas makes sense.
50. Cheetos are nutritious.
51. You can marry your best friend twice in your lifetime.
52. God answers prayers, just not always on your timeline. (All those years you prayed for a son...)
53. Being a wedding video-ographer is harder than it seems. (Glad you kept your day job!)
54. It is possible to put three kids through college (and braces and extra-curricular activities...) and still retire in style without being the CEO of anything. (I keep praying this holds true!)
55. If it swims, it's not an option for dinner.
56. Loving your children equally doesn't mean loving them the same way.
57. Sometimes a hug is the best thing to say.
58. If you can make tomato soup, you can cook. (I still can't make it though...)
59. Just because it's called a 'garage' doesn't mean it shouldn't be as spotless as the kitchen.
60. Olive Garden only makes lasagna.
61. It only gets better after 60. Happy 61st, Dad!! I love you!



Sunday, April 08, 2007

Richard Gere

It has been perhaps five years, since I reluctantly put his number into my phone one night at the bar. I thought it was clever, at the time, to put people in with celebrity names, so that when or if they ever called, it would seem as though someone famous was calling me.

“Richard Gere!” I exclaimed tonight when I saw him. His blue eyes unmistakeable. The same salt and pepper beard, closely trimmed framing the adorable face I never should have walked away from.

“I wondered if you would remember” he said.

“How are your boys?” I asked. Wanted to ask so much more than just that. Where has the time gone? Would he still ask me out with such persistence today? Would I still decline as I did back then? Back when being single was too new, too fresh, too unfamiliar for me to make sense of it.

“Good,” he replied. “How is Jacob?”

Points for remembering my son’s name after all this time.

I asked what he had been up to.

‘They’ were supposed to go four-wheeling this weekend but it had been canceled. He had asked me to go, all those years ago, in his Wrangler. With his two sons and his awesome dog. I had declined. I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t look into blue eyes like those and say yes. I wasn’t ready to say I was single. Even with the divorce long since over, I was too new at dating, too scared of what it meant, too afraid to commit to even a date with that amazing smile.

He asked about my dog, my cats, my life. He remembered all the names, all the details. He remembered me. I couldn’t forget that face. Those eyes. My decline. My mistake.

I took his left hand and laughed when I said, “not married, yet, huh?”

“Engaged, actually,” was the devastating reply.

I wished him great joy. Unbelievable happiness. All the best.

And I walked away wondering. All that might have been different.

If that night, five years before. When he so innocently and so tenaciously asked me out. Just for the day. To go for a drive. To go four-wheeling. To have some fun. To laugh. To let go. Could I? Wouldn’t I?

But I said no.

And now, she has said yes.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

From Atlanta To Philly in 3.2 days

G arrived at the airport and ran to his gate because the people-mover was broken. Arrived at the gate to find it was the WRONG gate, his gate was at the opposite end of the terminal. Ran. Fast. Boarded plane. Plane backed up from the gate, got out to the runway, discovered an engine problem. Like, it wouldn't start. Taxied back to the gate. Sat.

Sat.

Sat.

They took off passengers who had connecting international flights.

Sat.

Passengers were told they had fixed the engine problem and would now be preparing for take-off. Passengers were told they would actually still land on time, despite the hour delay. Hmm...

Then they found another problem.

Sat.

Sat.

Sat.

Disembarked.

G stood in line about 357 people deep at the gate counter trying to find resolution.

G calls me for the 14th time this afternoon.

"Um, sis? What do you call it when they are putting you back on the plane? Re-embarking?" I said, "If they are putting you back on the same plane, I would call that WORRISOME!"

G is supposedly going to be inflight shortly on the same plane that has already been declared unflyable. If he still lands on time (15 minutes ago) I will seriously be concerned.

Prayers are welcome.

The Forgiveness Factor

For awhile now, we have allowed LM to stay at home by himself on a school holiday. It has allowed me to actually use my meager vacation days as actual vacation days instead of Martin Luther King, Jr. day or a Day-Off-Because-The-Teachers-Need-It day. I give him a short list of things to get done, he still has to practice his trumpet but then he usually fills the day with watching movies from the DVR or playing computer or PS2 games. He's done very well with this over the past year and actually looks forward to a day off now with no anxiety at all about being on his own for the day.

Today, in addition to being a school holiday, we have the extra bonus of being a class night, meaning I leave straight from work to go to class and won't get home until nearly 10pm.

I would never dream of leaving LM from 7am until 10pm by himself and I know that isn't what will happen today as my brother will be arriving home sometime around 5, when I would normally be home from work.

The trouble is, LM doesn't know anything about G's arrival.

As I'm hurrying around last night trying to unload groceries and clean out the dog crate (for the second time in the same day - anyone want a dog?) LM mentions says, "I'll be just fine tomorrow, Mom. I just get a little nervous when it gets dark, but I'll be okay," and I realize that he thinks he's on his own for the whole time.

Oh Horrible Mom of the Year Award, here I come.

I don't know what to say without ruining the surprise. I tell him I'll try to leave class early. He assures me he'll be just fine. He'll turn on lights, and shut the blinds. I remind him to keep the door locked and to take the dog outside before it gets dark and then to just wait until I get home and I'll take him out again. I remind him that he has about 5 weeks of Survivor episodes to catch up on, and perhaps if he just curls up on the couch with his blankets and pillows and Eli at his feet and just watches those once it gets dark he won't even realize how fast I'll be home!

He's fine. He promises me. I reassure him that I wouldn't do this if I didn't know for certain that it will be just fine. He says he knows and tries to reassure me that he'll get through it just fine.

I know that when he sees my brother at the door tonight (if I can get him to actually open the door - he knows not to when I'm not home. Mental note: Tell G the password!) he will be beside himself with excitement. He has no idea that G is coming and will be over the moon to see him.

I just hope he forgives me for causing these butterflies in his stomach today.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

YIPPPEE!!!

My brother, G, found an incredible deal on a flight and is coming up from Georgia this weekend to see us!! YIPPEE!!! I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to see him! Oh, but don't tell LM, it's a surprise!

P.S. If ever you're looking for a cheap fare, check out the package deals. Even if you don't need a rental car, as it turns out, it's cheaper to get one with your flight than just the flight alone! And we wonder why so many airlines keep going bankrupt!

LM's Solution

I rearrange often. I always have. And it's frankly just better if everyone just stays out of the way until I'm done. It might take me hours to get it all just how I want it. And even when you think I couldn't possibly move one more thing, I'll still futz around with this knick knack there or that plant here. It takes awhile for me to get just the right balance of things.

It had been awhile since I had rearranged. Mainly because we the television we bought a couple years ago is just a tad too beastly for me to handle on my own. A few months ago, however, I got the itch and LM and I set to task to get everything moved.

Knowing that my strengths flow along the creative design and NOT the technological, I asked my techno-geek child if he thought he could handle all the cords and plugs and making sure that they were all in the right place after I moved things. Not only was he confident, he was enthusiastic about his role in the operation. He would handle all technology functions. I would handle the rest.

It took him a long while, that day in December, to get it all back the way it should be. It wasn't until several days later, when I watched a movie, that I realized it still wasn't quite right. I just didn't think Jodie Foster should be a pale shade of blue. I'm certain she has better skin tone than that. I was able to find the cable that wasn't in the right place and remedy the color issue without much issue.

So, this weekend, when we acquired a new armoire (courtesy of craigslist.com), I had serious talks with my Technology Consultant before we even began to attempt to relocate all the equipment once again. LM assured me he had it under control. There would be no color-errors this time around, he promised. Jodie Foster's complexion was going to be just fine. His confident tone exceeded my own, but I left it in his hands.


As I puttered around with this and that I quickly realized that LM had in fact devised an infallible system. Not to make the same mistake twice, he utilized the equipment at hand to ensure his success.

His answer? Take digital pictures.

(Don't you love how the picture is on an angle?
Apparantly that doesn't hinder the method from working.)

I only missed 40 laps of the Nascar race while we moved equipment and got it all settled into the new armoire. We finished putzing around with the knick knacks last night and have reached a mostly finished arrangement. All devices, speakers and remotes seem to be working in fine condition, thanks to LM's genius plan.

Isn't it purty?

Ta Da!

(Don't mind the leaves on the floor. The ivy isn't mad that I relocated it at all. I promise. No plants were harmed in the rearranging of this room!)