Friday, March 27, 2009

Cut Off

A dark, dark day occurred several weeks ago. My computer crashed and I was left stranded without a google lifeline. It was not until these last few weeks that I have realized how dependent I have become on the internet and my computer. I attempted to visit the library and use my friends' computers but it was not the same. I love my desk, my chair, my computer, and my routine. When I sit in my black leather chair with my feet on top of my fuzzy foot stool, I have come to realize this is my comfy spot.

About a week into my isolation, I considered going cold turkey or cheating and purchasing another computer but I was resolved to experience this crisis. Yes, I missed my social networking, my blogging, and my up to the minute emailing but it was my work that I struggled the most to complete. However, thanks to old school education. I called people instead of emailing. I used a phone book instead of googling. I actually typed a letter on an old electric typewriter hidden in my closet then faxed it. I mailed my bills and went to the bank. I looked people in the eye and I stepped away from my leather office chair. I survived.

As I fondly rub the side of my computer and welcome it back. I promise to not to take it for granted again and at the same time, I plan to walk away more often. It was nice to see the sky in reality not framed in an 18 inch screen.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Why volunteer?

This week, I have been asking myself why volunteer? In between work and my family, I spent hours researching so that I could present a ten minute discussion to an organization then spent another couple of hours creating a consensuses statement from said presentation with no guidance from leadership. Then spent days receiving emails or phone calls on what I did wrong and then on how wrong I was for pointing out any fallacy of their arguments. Most of these discussions would not have been necessary if my requests for assistance had been answered. In fact, one committee leader said that was not the way he thought I would do it. I explained that as wonderful as I am, I cannot read minds (shhh, don't tell my daughters). I am sure that if this had been the only bump in my volunteer commitments this week, I would have shrugged it off but it was not. Every one of my volunteer commitments was challenged, pushed, twisted, or slapped with some kind of criticism, threat, or displeasure.

I have been volunteering since I was a child. My parents believed it was our civic responsibility. I see a need and I take action. I have been the grunt, the sergeant, and the general. However, most of my time donated now is spent in leadership roles and I really miss those days in which I showed up and just served coffee or stuffed envelopes or walked a dog or delivered lunch or etc. It is my job to thank and inspire volunteers for showing up. However, I don't receive a simple thank yous for a task or job well done. Trust me, it is brought to my attention when I stumble or don't read minds but a thank you has not come my way in months now.

I probably wouldn't have noticed the lack of thank yous if not for a coffee date with a friend. So I want to say thank you to my friend "J" for pointing out the fact that I am now doing thankless work, THANKS. Over a cup of coffee, I shared my discontent and the possibility of hanging up my clipboard. J listened with kindness and said, "What it sounds like to me is you feel and little abused and not appreciated." I am afraid she is right. J suggested I tell everyone to get stuffed and move on. She is such a good friend.

The coffee chat led to some soul searching. Why do I volunteer? Is it for the thank yous? Is it because I was brainwashed as kid? Why does anyone volunteer?

My answers are simple and complicated. I volunteer to make a difference, to effect change in my little part of the world. Somewhere in the mix is my responsibility to my girls to teach by example. So I will take a deep breath, pull up my sleeves, and get the job done. No quiting today.

Just in case, no one has said this to you today, thank you.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Passing of the note ah um the text?

Two years ago, we bought our oldest daughter a cell phone for emergency purposes only (hah). After a few mishaps of abuse of minutes, we came to a compromise. She would get a job and help pay for a better plan and we would not kill her. Thank goodness for Cricket. For about $50 a month she has unlimited calling and texting with all the bells and whistles. She makes few phone calls mostly to us but texting has become her form of communication. We hear her phone beep at least a hundred times a night and on the weekend...well forget about a count.

I think it is ironic that she can't have a verbal conversation without using a million too many words but is comfortable using twenty words or less in this form of communication. She has an extenisive friend group and will be in the middle of a dozen conversations at any given time. I suggested she IM this friends and she told me that no one IMs anymore. Dang it, I am no longer cool.

When I was young (the olden days as my kids call it), we would pass notes in school and come home to write long diatribes of our life, dreams, and even gossip that we would exchange at the beginning of each school day. If we used the phone it would be secretively in the closet just off the living room and in most cases, it was done quickly because you knew your parents were going to bang on the door asking what you were doing in there any second. When I was 17 my parents let me have my own phone extension in my room. Of course, I took this as a symbol of my impending adulthood. I was told later it was a compromise because if my Dad tripped over the phone line one more time, I was going die.

My daughter took on the poof of maturity when we gave her a phone. Believing that this was a symbol of adulthood or at least teenagehood. Frankly, we were just tired of having to track her down physically every time, we wanted to check in. We consider the cell phone a tether or leash to keep track of her. That and we are lazy.

Princess's father has little or no tolerance for the ongoing beeping or the phone that has become a permanent extension of my child's body. I tried explain that texting replaces the hours of note writing and passing that I participated in as a youth. This must be a girl thing. Mr. Man, (my husband) said he only passed notes to ask a girl out or to get a homework assignment. He became a little docile about texting until he found out that boys were texting Princess. It esculated into a big tadoo when he found out she was replying to boys that she vagualy knew.

I have to admit it got out of hand when strangers started texting her. So far nothing explicit or threatening has occured but a few boys out of her social radar got her cell phone number from a friend and were using it to hit on her or least to establish a friendship. Mr. Man decided that it was easier to change her phone number than sneek the phone out of her room and threaten unknown boys for daring to speak with his daughter. Shhhh, don't tell Princess, she thought the new phone was just a gift. However, I did suggest she tell her friends not give out her phone without asking first.

This last Christmas, our youngest daughter Twinkie asked and received her own cell phone. So far she mostly has used it to talk to her dad, sister, and me. Princess was a note writer in elementary school and quickly became an advid texter. Though Twinkie has never been a note passer and her friend pool has been small, she has recently found popularity in middle school. We are prepared for the worse. We have a call plan in place that if abused will not reval our mortgage bill. The other night, we heard a familiar beep and Princess opened her phone to find it did not come from her phone. Twinkie popped up, checked her phone, blushed and then clicked a few buttons to respond. I asked her, who it was...she replied, "Oh, it was (insert boy name)." Wouldn't you know that the youngest would skip right over a year of two of texting exchange with her girlie friends to a boy. So it begins....

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In Denial

I was barely in the door last night when my oldest daughter, Princess came flying around the corner. The glow that was exuding from every pore of her being hinted at good news. I was numbed from a day of talking budgets and back to back meetings. Princess opened her mouth and spilled out a story. I stood there and blinked at her. I will admit all I heard wahwahwahwah like the teacher in a Peanuts cartoon. Side note: Have you noticed the ability teenage girls have to speak at an abnormal rate?

Back to story: I said okay slow down and start over. Now dear readers brace yourself. I am going to share her fabulous news and our conversation to the best of my ability. To fully visualize this experience think 1980's movie, now cue valley girl......

Princess: You know that guy that sits in front of me in French. You know the really cute one that just moved here this year and flirts with me. You know the one I have an uber crush on him. Last week, he reached behind and asked for my hands and like pulled me towards him then hugged my hands, remember? He has curly hair and blue eyes and this cute athletic body. The really hot sophomore. (Insert some girls name I can't remember here) said that she thinks its funny that I blush when I talk to him. But not in bad way that looks like I have hives but in a cute way that makes my cheeks pink. He asked me for my phone number. (one second delay for deep breath) He said that he and his friend (again any boy name insert here) are going to the movies this Friday and want me and that girl that sits on the side of the classroom with the red hair. You know the one that went to that thing with me and we bought those drinks. Oh yeah, (girl name). I think she came to my 5 year old birthday party and gave me that Christmas barbie doll, I have on my corner shelf. You remember her, she kept calling you teacher. (5 or 6 second pause as she waits for my response and takes a breath)

Mom: Ahh, ummm, sure I remember her. ( I have no blipping idea but pretend I do with the hopes she will continue and get this over with so I can go to bed. Princess continues to stare at me so I feel compelled to say something, anything.) The pretty barbie with the red dress? (Princess nods head but continuous to stare adding a weird grin to face. I walk over to get a drink of water, trying to stall her as I replay conversation. Oh crap, I just realized that she has informed she has been asked on a date. I turn to face her trying to cover my panic with a smile) So you have been asked on your first date?

Princess: Yes, he said that it would be fun. He walked me to my next class and we talked about what movie we should see and if I needed a ride. But I remembered on the way home from school today when I was talking to
(insert girl name) that I can't go Friday night because I have a game and I can't go on Saturday because I have a competition. Sunday, I have to work. How am I going to tell him that I am busy? Do you think he will think that I don't like him? (Pause for gasp of breath) Should I call him? He put his number in my cell phone. Or should I text him. Nobody emails anymore so I can't email him. I won't see him at school on Thursday because I have to go that thing for my club. Oh, did you dry clean my dress? Maybe, I will have my friend, B----- tell him I am busy. Do you think he will believe it? I ooops (Princess looks at cell phone in her hand) that is B---- texting me. Can you take me to school early tomorrow? (Turns back to me and leaves room) Great your the best. Love ya. (valley girl exits stage right and mom looks for wine. )

I dodged a missile this week. I am in denial about the real age of my child. I still see the pink cheek delight that she was not the hottie I have been informed she has become. I am sure that in the next week I will have to take a direct hit and allow my teen to date. God help me. Do I think she is mature enough and has a great head on her shoulder? Yes. Did I know this day was coming? Yes. But I had hoped that she intimated boys so much that I would have more time.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

I won my husband in a bet!

My fellow blogger Bay View Herb asked a little favor of me to share a love story, in particular my love story with my husband. He only asked for 100 to 200 words but as I sat down to write how my husband and I met and why we are still together after all these years, I realized I had more than 200 words to share. I don't want to spoil Herb's article so I won't disclose any of the tidbits I gave him but I will share how I won my husband in a bet.

When I was in junior high I belonged to bowling team. Not because I was great at bowling. I just happened to have lived across the street from a bowling alley and I had nothing else to do on Saturday morning. Okay, I will admit there was a boy or two that I was interested in. Once I dated said boys and the season was over I moved on to other interest. Then in my senior year another boy dared me to wear ugly clown shoes and throw balls at pins. A sweet boy who had given up asking me out just when I decided to say yes. In fact, he asked my best friend out instead of me. He thought the reason we were stalking him was because she liked him. She has remained my friend because she said no!

It was the weekend before league started up and I went to the bowling alley to grab a soda. I was approached by a mother who knew me from my junior high days and she asked me to join the league. I started laughing and was going to decline when a little voice said ask her who would be on my team. You guessed it, the sweet boy would be my teammate. Of course, I said yes and went home to share the news with my mother. She stared at me with her mouth open until I mentioned there was a boy. Mom said well that figures. Then she giggled when I said I would be dating him by Halloween. Mom loved the fact that I always put self imposed time lines on my goals.

I have to admit it was not as easy as I thought. You see I was a little bit of a flirt in high school and this boy had become desensitized to my charms. So I needed to get creative. The second week I came up with a plan and started challenging him with little bets. I would offer to make him cookies or buy him a hamburger if he picked up this difficult spare or that split. Lucky me, he followed suit by saying if I picked up this or that he would buy me a candy bar or soda. Then one week before Halloween, I received a gift from the fates. I had a split that is not easy to pick up and I turned to my future boyfriend to say "What will you give me if I pick this one up?"

He said, "I will take you out for a steak dinner." The bet was set.

When I turned around I knew, I just knew that I was going to pick it up. I released the ball with a smile on my face and turned around without even confirming my hit. I was watching him as I heard the ball make contact and saw his eyes widen then his face redden. He looked at me and said, "When do you want to go out?" With a nonchalant shrug I said, "Call me."

I guess the rest is history except for the break up and get back together routine we accomplished over the next year. Frankly, he scared me. I could picture a future beyond high school with him. He once mentioned something we would do when we got married and I could envision it. I was a casualty of a parental divorce and dysfunctional household. I planned never to get married. However, I am not without courage and so when he asked me to marry him I said I would.

After we had been married for a while, I told my husband how I tricked him into asking me out and he shared that he tricked me into marrying him by basically daring me. He knew I could never resist a dare. I was a lucky girl and now after a couple of decades, I am still a very lucky woman.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Band Geeks Unite or Momma's got her Proud Hat on!

I know I often complain or share little stores in an unflattering way about my kids but I am a proud mom. I am often left stunned by my children and their ability to succeed and shine in small or large moments. Last night, I watched my oldest daughter (Princess) playing a band concert exhibiting leadership, talent, and a little magnetism. I was in awe. Don't get me wrong she has been a child who often takes out her star for a polish but I often forget in the throws of the give and harass relationship we have that she is a blossoming adult.

My husband sat next to me in the same state of awe and we shared several moments of wonder especially when her Band Director took the time to recognize her as one of the best players and the glue that holds the band together. How many times does a person get public recognition? My sweet daughter blushed pretty and flashed her dimples at her hooting friends in the audience.

The moment of awe was not limited to just our child, we were equally inspired by the passion and talent of many players and their instructors. We have noted many these kids since well they were kids not the young blossoming adults we witnessed last night. For most of these kids its not just about practicing or sharing a love a music it is about taking on a leadership role and knowing how to allow others to shine. It is about generosity, expertise, inspiration, team building, and following through on a commitment that is not always fun.

Did you know that the top colleges and universities student population consists of 60% former (or current) band geeks? Originally, Princess decided to take band because the options in the curriculum was band or chorus. Band was the lesser of the two forms of torture. Her instrument choice was based on what was left over and had the most opportunity to wiggle in it. Princess needs a little wiggle room. Now she is in her 4 year of band and has embraced the band geek title. She has found friends, confidence, and in some cases moments of equalization. Princess is easily successful at almost everything she does but band has made her have to work.

So today, I am still walking around with the pride for my child's accomplishment and moment of acknowledgment. I am hoping that you will go tell some kid to join band. They will be surprised by how comfortable the title of band geek will feel on them. Finally, take a moment to send an email to your legislator and your school board trustees to remind them that without band geeks this world would not be filled with music.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


CindyH over at Huckleberries asked an question that has been on my mind this weekend, "Do you hug people you don't know well?" I was a luncheon on Friday and greeted many of my friends with hugs or an open ended squeeze. My friend who I was meeting there watched from our saved seats with a slight smile. When I joined her she said "I can't take you anywhere." After the luncheon a sweet man I have only spoken to maybe a dozen time came over to tell me his wife had passed at Christmas time. Without even thinking about it, I pushed myself out of my seat and came around the table to hug him. Afterwards, I was speaking with my friend about the moment and she asked me how well did I know the grieving husband and I said not very well. She was stunned and we had a discussion about hugging strangers. She admitted she reluctant to hug people especially men she does not know well. I was unable to explain adequately how I determine when to hug and when not to hug. I mumbled something about the icky factor and then quickly changed the subject.

However, this conversation has stuck with me all weekend and I have even spoke with my family about said topic. My husband shared the fact that he is often jealous about how freely I hug and has never seen me withhold a hug. I tried to defend the icky factor but boxed myself into a corner. So what is the icky factor. It has to do with how my initial contact with an individual. It is pretty easy if a man hits on me, they receive no additional response and will be lucky that if I will even attempt another conversation with them. If a woman gives me the up and down look like we are some kind of competition, I don't waste my time. And finally, if a person makes my warning lights go off, such as that innate ability we have to know when we are in danger or any physical contact is unwelcome, I will keep my space.

To get back to the grieving husband, I admitted that I did not even think or hesitate when he shared with me, I reacted. I felt the moment. So do I hug people I don't know well? The answer is yes and without hesitation.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ice, Ice, Baby

Finally, the kids are back to school. I am relieved and ecstatic about my day. But I am going to miss them just a bit. Even though my kids are teens it reminded me of when I was a stay at home mom and my 100% focus was them. Finding projects and things for them to do, making sure that they were fed and happy, and receiving satisfaction from their happiness. It was nice to pull those skills out and dust them off for a few weeks instead of just on the weekends or in the throws of getting homework, dinner, and bed time rituals done. Today, however, I will dust off my other life and get to work even socialize with other adults. Yeah me.

As I ventured out to take my girls to school, I found ice. Lots of ice and little lakes with bare patches to give anyone a sense of safety. But we still need to be cautious. A little car, dare I say Ford escort, weaved in and out of traffic with music booming. I am sure he was feeling a sense of liberation after being bogged down by too much snow.

He turned unto Dalton ave like it was a spring dash and was confronted with the new lake being formed at the corner. Going as fast as he was, the lake rose up on both sides like a boat in a wake. Two or three seconds, I lost sight of all his doors. It caused the car to slow and I thought it was going to stall but the car succeeded in its forward motion and broke free. (Now wait for it, wait for it)

The car pulled to the side and I passed it. I looked in to see why he stopped after his successful swim. Only to see a young man dripping from head to.... Seems Mr. Ford Escort was embracing the idea of a spring thaw with his window rolled down and his tunes blasting (I swear to god it was the song it was Ice, Ice, Ice Baby.) I didn't hear any music blasting as I watched the young man pull of his wet baseball cap. I had to keep moving because traffic was building up behind me and by the time I swung back to check on him and offer him a towel I keep in the back of the car for swim lessons, he was gone.

Lesson: Don't drive with your windows down, winter still has a few surprises for us.

Question: How do you get the song "Ice, ice baby" out of your head?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Letting go of Baby

I celebrated my birthday last month and my daughters will be celebrating birthdays in the next couple of weeks. My youngest will be a teenager. Normally, I am not one of those people that get all worked up over turning another year older. Except for a few mile stones, I celebrate my age and the hopeful wisdom that comes with it. However, this year as I slide into my mid forties, I am a little squeamish. I realized the other day as I was holding my niece's baby that my baby making years are coming to an end. Mostly by choice but a little by the circle of life.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the freedom of being baby-less and having more time to spend on my husband or me. I don't necessarily have the desire to become pregnant or have another child. But I do miss the nurturing focus that an infant craves. My girls are frustrated by the attention and/or focus that I am thrusting upon them. Just yesterday, my daughter suggested I get a hobby or something as I was attempting to help her organize her room and fix a teen girl drama.

The rational side of me is willing to admit that this loud ticking of biological clock may have less to do with my need to procreate than my teenage girls preparing to leave the nest. I think I can reconcile with becoming a crone, I don't think I am prepared to reconcile with not being needed. An infant needs you and has no choice but to count on you for survival but a teenager can take you or leave you. Darn little darlings are ticking bombs of maturity and created the fuse.

By the way, anyone know how to get this ticking out of your head? Tick, tock.