Archive | Issues RSS feed for this section

Caution: Bridge May Ice in Winter

21 Apr

So many life lessons exist for the kids within the miles and hours spent in a cocoon on wheels with other people.

  • We need fuel to run. This can be taught by the amount of gas fill-ups needed or snack food fixes you’ll require. Even though we know they aren’t good for us, we will most often invite things we don’t eat on any other normal day – chips, beef jerky, Combos, giant pickles in bags and Swedish Fish – to be an additional travel companions.
  • Sleep happens.
  • Interstate billboards offer you plenty of knowledge nuggets about religion, sex, eating habits and laws we should follow to make society better and safer.

21 is the legal drinking age.

Litter is bad.

Speed limit is slower than you’re driving.

Seat belts even keep a picture of the state of Georgia safe.

  • Stretching is important.
  • Too much time trapped with the same people causes fits of laughter, whining, tested nerves and lunacy. Such are the emotions many of us go through on a given day.
  • The road trip games we play can offer quite a few lessons. For example, we enjoy the alphabet game. We play ours by finding words on signs, billboards and cars that go in alphabetical order. You can’t say the same word as another person unless it’s for Q, X and Z. (The toughest to find.) First person to find the Z word, wins. This most recent road trip showed me how this game wad teaching the kids:
    • Patience – sometimes you need to wait for 20 minutes and few signs before finding your word.
    • Things don’t always come easy – daddy was driving too fast by signs, some signs were blocked by other vehicles, one person would say a word faster, etc.
    • Make the best of a situation – when you are the only one still looking for a G word, sing a silly song about the letter G and how it is hiding from you. (Nia had a lot of original tunes.)
  • Be ready for the speed bumps. Traffic, accidents, car issues, items accidentally left on the roof, wrong or misread directions, a threatening wasp unexpectedly trapped in the small space with you, a spilled drink, and/or extra pit stops will attempt to throw you off course and shatter your spirit. How you handle these situations is a glimpse at how you’d handle problems at school, work or relationships. Proceed with caution.

Faces Among Us

19 Apr

You walked by children, women and men all gathered for a joyous event. You brushed by bright yellow balloons being held in the hands of a lady waiting to celebrate someone she loved. You almost touched one person as you made your way to the point in your plan.

I saw you standing next to a group of people. You spent time in their presence and likely heard their conversations. Did someone give you a smile? Did you make eye contact with anyone? Maybe even exchange a few friendly words we often share when we’re standing next to strangers momentarily connected because of the time and place? How could you stand among them – be so close – and still want to hurt them?

None of that would’ve been good enough to change what happened though, right? You were determined. You had a mission. The faces around you weren’t going to make you think twice. You were a robot. No. That would actually mean you wouldn’t feel emotion after what you did. But you did feel emotion, didn’t you? Is that when you were happy? Did you feel as though you accomplished something? Proud?

I don’t know why I’m trying to understand something that’s incomprehensible to me. With every heartbreaking act of violence, I try to grasp the why of it even when the why may not change the sadness caused. I look around at people I encounter on any given day and I wonder how many people are having insincere pleasantries with me. They make me think they must be ok because of that reciprocated smile or brief elevator conversation but in reality they may be hiding something dark.

No, our smiles or positive energy may not be enough to stop people from wanting to cause us harm. In some way, it may actually fuel their desire to hurt us. Some of the faces among us are a dangerous mystery but we can’t let them steal away the things that makes us different. Our consideration and compassion for others. Our heart. Spirit.

I will continue to smile at strangers and offer kind (and often awkward on my part) words to them. I have a hope it will do more good than harm.

Laugh Track Humor

24 Feb

funny“Why do they keep laughing at everything she says?”

It’s a valid question, Nate. Especially since 75% of what comes out of her scripted sitcom mouth is not funny. (Or is it?)

“It’s called a laugh track, buddy. Basically, the people who make the tv show have a sound that makes it seem like an audience is laughing. They use it so we know something was meant to be funny.” Even when it’s not.

That got me thinking about the whole chicken versus egg thing and questions started ping-ponging around in my brain.

How much do we learn about humor from the laugh track cues on sitcoms? (Are many of us are trained to laugh at things because of what we absorbed watching tv punchlines that producers led us to believe are hysterical because of an audience reaction?)

Why do you want to teach my children to laugh at the sassy little girl on your program? Do you know how hard I’m working to teach them not to sass? Sure, I know we don’t have to watch your show but I actually do find that sassy little girl comical – probably because of the early laugh track humor invasion established in my brain at an early age. Instead, I’ll just watch the show with them and when her line hits I’ll smirk in my head and then reinforce to the kids, “We shouldn’t talk to people that way.” I’m so conflicted and hypocritical over here.

How much of our humor comes naturally? Some are just born with a fabulous sense of humor? Maybe we learn it from the adults we had around us as we grew up? Funny friends? But where did they learn that someone tripping over a chair and into a pile of garbage is funny? Banana peel on a head and then a quirky line to cut to commercial? Bwa-ha-ha! (I only laugh at these scenes on special days.) What makes me laugh so hard at the zany things Amy Duncan does on Good Luck Charlie? I laugh at her daily and only feel a little ashamed about it. And why the heck do I think the drunk driving scene in 40-Year-Old Virgin is funny? It’s so wrong. So wrong. But it makes my laugh go silent and tears fill in my eyes because it strikes me as hilarious. Surely I can’t connect that demented sense of humor to laugh tracks?

Are emoticons the electronic equivalent to a televised laugh track, helping readers know when they are supposed to smile? How will we know when to chuckle or that someone is just kidding unless they give us a 🙂 or a ;)?

Of course, I am ridiculous and these are all just the inner-workings of my mind as I was doing the dishes one night. It does make me laugh when I think about it all though. Which makes me wonder …

Room to Grow

14 Dec

A few weeks ago, I started writing an unfinished blog about how it’s been tough for me to give my kids room to grow. I’ve been worried that I’m suffocating their free spirits by not letting them play outside by themselves more – or stay over more friends’ houses – or let them walk the block to the bus stop without supervision. I see children playing outside in our neighborhood with other kids, no adult in sight. It looks as though they run this place. Confident and carefree, growing into their own. My kids, meanwhile, are sheltered.

It’s not that I don’t trust my children. I don’t trust others and situations outside of my watch. It’s been like that even for sleepovers at friends’ houses. Nia just had her first “alone” sleepover at a friend’s this year and I was worried the whole time. I woke up in the middle of the night. I checked my phone. She was fine and I felt like a mess. What’s my problem? I played outside until the street lights came on or until I heard the yell from home base. I had sleepovers and adventures sans adults. It’s just so tough for me to let them walk barefoot in the grass because I feel like when I do, they get stung by a bee.

What I need to remember is that the bee is really out of my control. I didn’t see it there as I sat and read my book. The kids didn’t see it there as they giggled and chased each other. Moments of bliss, interrupted with pain and tears. Mom and dad are there to make it better though. Scoop them up with hugs and kisses – medicine and a bandage. Don’t forget the ice cream. Still, we are able to be the protectors. Always the protectors. But what happens when you can’t be there to protect or comfort?

The heartbreaking tragedy that happened in Connecticut today captures that fear for me. Each day, we send our children on their merry – or cranky (depending on their mood that morning) – way to school and we head off to work or to whatever routine we have on the schedule. “Love you! Have a great day!” Words of caring we exchange to each other as they walk toward the bus or building. “See you later.” Because that’s what’s supposed to happen. See you later.

Sometimes, the hurt that happens when they are away from us isn’t permanent like the violence of today. Hurt feelings or worry in their hearts because of bullies, a fight with a friend or boys saying rude and inappropriate things. (That last one happened to Nia today.) For the most part, that hurt can be healed with an end of the day hug and talk with mom and dad. They feel better. They have some options on how to handle things if it happens again. They know teachers will be there to help because mom and dad talked with them. But still, I couldn’t keep them protected at the moment of their pain and I need to absorb that I never will be able to do that. They are not hurt-proof. None of us are. Mere mortals. Breakable. Perishable. Fragile.

Thinking about what happened in Connecticut today, my heart hurts for all those facing “What now?” and it hoards fear about “What if?” I am telling myself to allow my children to savor more barefoot in the grass and sleepover moments – especially for all those innocent little ones who now cannot.

Waste Not …

25 Aug

I must start by stating – I don’t consider myself a recycling do-gooder. I am lacking on many levels when it comes to reducing and reusing. However, I do try. We recycle the products accepted by our city each week and I’m aware and care about the amount of waste that we create and that exists all around us. Sometimes, I even feel dirty living in a “new” house when there were so many already in existence that needed loving occupants. That is a different blog post entirely though. Now that it’s off my chest – back to what this is all about – school lunches. (Yes, I just went all the way around all that stuff to get to school lunches. You just took a trip on my brain waves – weird, wild stuff and thanks for sticking around if you’re still reading.)

Yes, school lunches.

For the most part, the kids bring a packed lunch from home. (The one day they don’t is pizza day – apparently still a must buy – even if they don’t have those coveted peanut butter squares that we had as kids.) Every lunch, I would load their boxes with three throw-away plastic snack bags carrying their cheese crackers, carrots and grapes. I have plastic containers for their sandwiches but the rest felt so wasteful and pricey. Then, I spotted these at our grocery store:

Fit & Fresh Kid’s Healthy Lunch Set

They are called Fit & Fresh and I’m pretty happy with them. The kids think they are really cool too. (And so do their friends, so they tell me.) I like them because I don’t feel so wasteful and also because they come with little cool packs inside the lids. I bought the ones for dipping too so I can pack some ranch with the kids’ veggies.

I would say the only thing I don’t love about them is that they aren’t “Made in U.S.A.” Yes, I’m slowly becoming more aware of that as well. I know and understand all the reasons for it saying something else on the plastic – and it is a rarity to find labels with such print on them – but it just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy (supportive?) when it does. I did notice the little Rubbermaid containers I bought for their cheese crackers don those letters so I guess that balances out their lunch box some. I will likely buy more of those Rubbermaids though – did you see the sandwich and entrée kit?!

Reusing in the U.S.A. I’m a fan.

Matter Over Mind

9 Aug

That whole “I’m my own worst enemy” thing is such an a-hole. I find myself encountering it in my head before many of my runs.

You don’t have to run up “the hill” tonight. Just run to the bottom of it.

  • This is what my mind starts to tell myself at about 5 minutes into a run when I don’t feel like being out there. “Don’t run up the hill, just turn around and run the flatter parts again.” Although the thought sounds wonderful, I fight against it. I focus on the positive things – the longer blades of grass that often tickle my ankles as I run by them, the pretty sky I’m enjoying, my rockin’ tunes, my time for me. Before I notice it, I run the hill.

Maybe you aren’t a runner.

  • This is usually said to me after I talk about how I often whine about running. Some days, it is just so difficult to get out the door and start my run for whatever reason. I’m tired. Hungry. It’s raining hard. My leg hurts. I don’t want to run intervals. I try to talk myself out of it. I tell myself that I can just do it another day. I know I likely won’t want to do it then either though. When I finally get on my way, I think about the notion that maybe I am not a runner. It’s actually really motivating and helps keep me running.

Maybe you should try something else.

  • This is said to me after I vent about not losing any weight. They suggest that I need to do more than run four times a week. Maybe my body just isn’t responding to the running like it would something else. The funny thing  is though – I do actually enjoy my running. I do feel stronger and leaner. Something is working. I may need to add in a few old fashioned Phys. Ed. calisthenics to help build my core better but I don’t want to give up on running. (Even when I feel like I want to give up on running. It’s a twisted emotion.)

If you don’t feel like running, don’t run.

  • Said to me to ease my pout and support me in my anti-run feelings that intensify right before I’m about to head outside. The most recent one innocently came from Nia. She wasn’t trying to be unsupportive or discouraging, she was trying to help me feel better. It’s just, that is the time I need to be stronger than the temptation to not go. Andrew gets my evil eye as he tells me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear. “Just go. You’ll be fine once you’re out there. It’s only x-amount of minutes. You got it.”

No matter what I’m feeling or hearing before my runs, he’s right. I am fine once I’m out there. In fact, I feel good. Not only because I ran and the sense of health and accomplishment, but also because I overcame my mind. Told it to shut it, I’m doing this. Matter over mind really makes me feel like I’ve defeated that enemy.

“I’m glad I don’t have a little brother.”

14 Jul

I never thought of myself as a “kid person.” I didn’t grow up dreaming of having babies and never really had plans about parenthood. I just existed. I wasn’t aware that at the time I was saying I wasn’t going to have kids yet (or soon), there was already a Bean on the way.

I guess then, I’m somewhat guilty for feeling the way Nia’s little friend did when she stayed with us. “I’m glad I don’t have a little brother,” she innocently said, not really understanding the hurt or feelings it cause. He had just been trying to hang out with them, which came across as pestering to them. Not being used to having a sibling around, that was understandably too much for the friend to handle.

I’m sure there are times when that thought may cross Nia’s mind too. What would life be like for her if she didn’t have Nate? I’ve even thought about it. What if we only had one? And, on the flip side, what if we had more children than Nia and Nate?

Here’s what I know:

  • I am so very thankful and complete to have both of our surprise blessings and adventure-makers in my life. Thinking of one without the other just doesn’t make sense and the thought only lasts for a second because it doesn’t matter. We have a big sister and a little brother and that’s all there is to it – and it’s pretty great.
  • Nia is glad to have a little brother – and he’s so lucky to have her. She just comforted him after he found out his cool red lace baseball cleats and special Dodgers t-ball shirt he forgot at summer camp are missing. When she saw his heartache, she sat next to him on the couch and rubbed his back as he softly cried. Later, as I was tucking her in, she said, “I feel really bad for Nate.”
  • Our little brother has informed he wants to be a big brother too. Asked as if we were not meeting production schedules or something, “When are you going to have another baby? I want a little brother.”

We told him that was very sweet of him but we have no plans to have another baby. Besides, we noted, the baby may be a little sister and who’s going to share a room with the baby?

“I will,” confirmed Nate. “If it’s a baby brother.”

I sure am glad we have our little brother.

Restroom Stall Life Lessons

6 Jun

“Mommy, someone wrote ‘I hate myself’ in the restroom stall at camp. Why would they write that – and why would they write it on the stall?”

Such heavy questions weighed on me as I tucked Nia in and began her usual bedtime comfort ritual.

I tried my best to explain that sometimes people get really sad and they let those sad feelings change how they see themselves and how others see them. It was their way of letting out their sadness.

“That’s not good, but why write that on the stall?”

“When people are really sad like that they don’t always think clearly or worry about doing the right thing.”

I told her that I hoped she never feels that way and to always remember that her family loves her and is here for her – no matter if we argue or if things don’t seem to be going her way. She seemed happy with that and I was able to continue on with the night-night necessities of prayers, the classical music CD, legs rubbed and, the one thing I would love for Bean to always do before falling asleep each night, thoughts about all the happy things that happened that day or are ahead.

She rests her innocent heart so much better by focusing her mind on something positive and peaceful. It also gives me a chance to hear what made her happy during the day or what she’s looking forward to that week. Sometimes, we have some really good conversations during this time – me sitting next to a snuggled Bean, talking quietly in her dark, rainbow night-light room.

I hope if she ever has feelings for a restroom stall, she’ll remember our “happy things” time and talk with me instead.

Reckless Bidder

3 Jun

Lesson learned. Although, it’s a lesson I should have already known really.

If you don’t have a way to get it home, don’t buy it. Especially when you’re trying to get a deal. Renting a truck or paying for delivery would defeat the entire score.

Silly me to think that someone else would outbid my $100 for a large octagon-shaped wood table and chairs at a recent auction. Silly.

Andrew would likely use a different word to describe my action but he’s known me for some years now so there are things he’s used to – like how to react when I text him that I spent money on something that we don’t need and I can’t drive it home in my car – or his. He texts back, “Ok. Now what? We don’t have a truck.”

My response: “I know this.”

He can tell I’m now both stressed about my reckless purchase and unhappy with his response to my buyer’s remorse.

“We can strap it to the roof?”


“Take a picture so I can see what I’m dealing with.”

Minutes later, he calls me and tells me he has a master plan.

Minutes after that, he pulls up to the auction in our neighbor’s pickup truck. (Rescued by dear friends!)

I can tell he doesn’t love (or even like) the table but he is a good friend and comedian and pokes fun at me by saying things like, “I had to be the guy who borrows his neighbor’s truck.” And something about “putting the cart before the horse.”

Now that it’s in our house, I’m not even sure I love it but it did help that after a few hours of it in its new spot, Andrew told me he thinks it’s a nice addition. (Even after all the jokes.)

Sold! – to the person who can’t get it home!

I have high hopes of refinishing it and then having it for a game/puzzle table. Eventually, when the next age group of “toys” replace the ones that live in our family room now, we will have a bar and finally hang my stained glass poker-table light that I’ve had for years to spice it up some.

In the meantime, I’m thinking we need to invest in a truck. I wonder if any are being auctioned …

To Remember

16 May

So many times, I just file away certificates or awards that the kids get. I’ve seen ideas on pinterest about cool ways to display kids’ art so that it doesn’t stay hidden, piled in boxes in closets for years. I’ve framed a few of my favorites and always struggle with what to toss and what to preserve. The words on this certificate made it easy for me though. Cherish.


I don’t know if Nia will always feel or think as she does now about God and/or religion and that’s ok. I still don’t always know if what I’m feeling or the religion I choose to participate in is “right.” I try to be ever-learning, open-minded and respectful to the thoughts and beliefs of others and that’s what I hope for Nia. To have someone write this about our 9-year-old is something to remember though and gives me hope that she will always be a thoughtful student to others.

%d bloggers like this: