Decoration Deadline

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I am not a Scrooge. I love Christmas time – I super love Christmas lights. One of my favorite things to do in the final weeks of the year is to drive around and see what clever decorations people have erected. You can kinda get a feel for the personality of the family living inside just by looking at their Christmas decorations. Some are reserved, some elegant, some a bit flashy…you can also tell if the family has young children (evidenced by Snoopy and/or Mickey Mouse in the yard). Granted, these assumptions aren’t always correct but often they are spot on.

Here’s the trouble though……Christmas decorations have a deadline. Seriously. Every town should have a mandatory time when Christmas decorations must be taken down. We’re now almost two full weeks into the new year and it drives me just a wee bit crazy to see full-on displays still up. And being turned on. I can understand if you haven’t had time to take all the lights down and get them stored away in the garage……but do they need to be turned on every night? I just don’t understand the desire to have them up until spring. My tree usually comes down Christmas day – I realize this may be a bit extreme, but when Christmas is over, for me it’s over. Time to clean up the mess and move into the new year unencumbered by blinking lights and stray tinsel.

Let’s keep Christmas lights and decorations confined to Christmas time – it makes them more special – and it keeps your electric bill down.

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Back to School Education

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This time of year is always exciting. New shoes, new haircuts, new backpacks…..anticipation about seeing friends, who will be sitting next to you in class, if the teacher really has a 3rd eye and horns like you were told….. But this is for the kiddos. Parents see back to school time slightly different. Now that the first week of school is under our belt, I’m taking a moment to reflect upon what I’ve learned this week.

1. Getting up at 5:45am sucks. Totally. I am not a morning person – never have been. I have really enjoyed my summer of being able to sleep in, even on a weekday. I like not getting up until 8 or 9am. I don’t need to sleep until noon…..but I am not a fan of rising with the chickens. If it’s still dark outside – and I mean pitch black dark with no hint of a sunrise anywhere to be seen – then it’s too early to be waking up.

2. One should not wait until the day before the first day of school to purchase notebooks, binders, pencils, etc. The pickins are slim and then a rather cantankerous, moody, diva-ish 5th grader becomes quite foul and dramatic – letting one know how everyone else will have everything they need and she will be the only one who doesn’t have every item on the list of 25 things now needed to successfully complete 5th grade. What I believed to be a financially savvy move, waiting until the last minute thereby snagging some really great deals was in fact the catalyst for foot-stomping, hands on hips, tilted head with eyes rolling so far back I think they may have done a full loop and voiced exasperation of my lack of concern to her embarrassment and imminent failure of 5th grade. Procrastination does not pay.

3. Freshmen boys primp a lot. Stereotypical beliefs lead us to think that it’s the teenage girls that take forever in the bathroom and are the ones who obsess over hair and clothes. But I tell you that this is not so. This is not a female issue alone. 14 year old boys take a very long time to create the exact look of aloofness coupled with proper hygiene that is apparently necessary. I don’t know why I’m so surprised by this – I mean really, everyone knows you don’t wear stripes 2 days in a row.

4. Seniors now have to do a lot more than I did as a Senior. I just had to pick a few colleges that interested me, fill out applications and scholarship forms, mail them out and hope for the best. Now we have to register on 327 different websites, have not only Plan A but contingency plans through T, and know who your date is going to be to the spring formal before Halloween.

5. Filling out the same forms 3 different times is terribly frustrating. We have the technology that allows us to visit Mars, transplant hearts, create fertilized eggs in petrie dishes, build cars using robots…….but somehow we have yet to master a way to connect the emergency contact information that is the same for all kids in a family.

6. Happy homework time is really a pipe dream.

7. When given cash to purchase lunch, kids will oftentimes choose the least nutricious options available.

8. Bedtime can’t come early enough.

9. Wine is good.

I’m sure I’ll learn more things as the school year progresses but I’m feeling pretty good about the knowledge I’ve acquired this week. I hope all of you out there are enjoying and learning new things. Share some of them with me…..

 

Little Pearls

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Today is my first born child’s birthday. His 17th. Days like this I find myself thinking about the character of my children. Of course I reminisce about holidays and vacations and those special milestones in kids’ lives that all of us moms remember even when everyone else has long forgotten. But as I get older – well, not much really – I’m still very young! – I think about who my kids really are. And, who I want them to be. So today, in honor of my 17 year-old son I’m sharing some of the little pearls of wisdom I hope he has learned and will always remember. Some of these may be good advice for you too!

1. Share. Share your time, your resources, your knowledge, your love…. Share. Being selfish is easy but it’s ugly. Everything isn’t always about you. Everyone else is important too. Sharing is easy, it makes you feel good about yourself and it just may be the most important thing to happen in the other person’s life.

2. Wash your hands before you eat. Seriously. Your mitts have been everywhere, touching things that are filthy and germ infested. Please for the love of all that’s good, don’t put dirty hands on your food and then put said food in your mouth. It’s gross. It will make you sick. And well…..it’s just gross.

3. Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone. Every single time. Even if the hurt was unintentional – sometimes those are the most painful ones. If you hurt them physically this is a much easier conclusion to come to. But after causing emotional pain is when we sometimes forget to apologize. Emotional pain lasts a very long time – sometimes forever. It’s much easier to try to forget about hurting someone, or to pretend it didn’t happen. Don’t ignore it. Look people in the eye and say you’re sorry – and mean it.

4. Look both ways, hold hands and stick together. Think about your decisions, make informed ones. Stay close with the people who love you. You were given a support system at birth – utilize it. You don’t have to go through things alone. Share your worries and fears – talking about them usually gives you a whole new perspective – and it lightens the weight on your shoulders a bit.

5. Don’t yell at your mother. It’s rude. And I guarantee it almost never ends well.

6. Put things back where you found them. Of course you can use the multi-tool screwdriver thingy out of the glove box of the car. But please please please put it back when you’re done. It’s really not cool to be sitting on the side of the road and need that screwdriver thingy to change a tire when someone didn’t return it to it’s home. It makes for a tired, rain-soaked, extremely unhappy parent.

7. Tell the truth. All the time. I’ve learned the hard way. When you don’t, you end up in places that you never ever wanted to be. It’s not easy – you may be embarrassed, you may get in trouble, you may lose something that you wanted to keep, you may even hurt someone. But lies are never good. And, if you do hurt someone in the process – see #3.

8. Flush. Always. No exceptions. No one wants to open the lid and find a surprise. Ever.

9. Use your inside voice. Don’t yell at others. Cheering and hearty greetings are exceptions to this rule. Otherwise – don’t yell.

10. Be patient. Not everything happens on the timetable we would like. When the driver in front of you is going 5 miles over the speed limit already, don’t grumble and mumble and drive like an idiot in an effort to get around them so you can get to where you’re going 10 seconds faster. It’s not worth the risk.

11. Remember birthdays. Write them on a calendar if your memory isn’t the greatest. Being remembered by the people we love is important. You wouldn’t want your birthday to come and go and no one acknowledge it. Acknowledge others.

12. Be kind and respectful to the garbage men. They are doing the most important job in our society – one that no one really wants to do. They are taking away our trash so we don’t have to. They deserve respect.

13. Be a friend. On the surface this one is simple – but in order to make and keep real friends – you must be one. Be loyal, be honest with them, support them, help them when they’re in trouble, keep their secrets….share their joys and their sadness. Show them they can always count on you.

14. Notice the little things. Sunsets, wildflowers, kittens’ whiskers, the changing leaves in autumn, the sound of water flowing over rocks in a stream…. Pay attention.

15. Laugh. Enjoy life. Bad things happen to all of us. We all have problems and worries. Deal with them the best you can and then laugh. Smiles are beautiful and laughter makes you feel better.

16. Don’t forget to say “I love you.” We all need to know that we’re loved. And the reality is, we never know what the next minute holds – don’t miss a chance to say how you feel. You don’t want to regret keeping your emotions to yourself.

17. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. Electricity is expensive.

18. Conserve gas. We’re killing the Earth and the prices are ridiculous.

19. Go outside. Take a walk, ride a bike, go for a swim. Breathe fresh air.

20. Vote. You have no right to complain about the state of things if you don’t vote.

21. Do everything in moderation. Food, drinks, play…. don’t become all-consumed with something and let it take over your life. Stay balanced.

I think all of us could use a reminder to do things like these from time to time. Our world has become so busy that most of us don’t feel like we have a spare minute in our day. We need to slow down. Say “no” sometimes. You don’t have to be on every committee and attend every function. Take a nap. Watch a movie. Go for a walk. Look at the stars. Relax. Life is short and time goes by so quickly. Do things you love with people you love. Enjoy it.

Oh, and the last pearl….(this one is just for my son, but believe there is someone that feels the same way about you)

22. Never ever forget how very much I love you.

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

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ONE OF THESE THINGS IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER

Do you know which one it is? Can you venture a guess?

If you chose the photo on the far right you would be correct. Because you see, THAT is the only one of these items that politicians are not attempting to control.

Am I the only woman in America who is completely fed up with the hypocrisy that is our politicians? First the regulations started on birth control. What began as personal and/or religious reasons for choosing or not choosing to use birth control has grown into an arena that is larger than many of us realize. It’s now okay for a pharmacist to refuse a woman birth control – even if she has a prescription for it from a doctor – if it is “against said pharmacist’s beliefs.” Um, WHAT??? So, my choice to conceive or not to conceive is dependent upon the “beliefs” of a pharmacist? But it doesn’t stop there, no no. Now we’re facing every old, white, male Republican who “believes” that a woman’s place is barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen making dinner and knitting socks. Because you see, it should be apparent that these men know what is best for us ladies. Certainly we just weren’t built to handle such harrowing decisions as whether we want to give birth or not.

Surely these fellas, such as John Carter (R Texas)

or Tom Price (R Georgia) know more about what is best for me than I do.

Let’s move on.

Now we have Mayor Bloomberg of New York City putting a new initiative in place beginning in September that he says is an “effort to encourage breastfeeding.” On the surface I thought this was a great idea. I generally tend to agree with Mayor Bloomberg’s ideas on things, he is an Independent and doesn’t seem quite so bound by party line decisions. But, this initiative, in my opinion, is a massive trampling of women’s rights.

“Latch On NYC” will “encourage” women to breastfeed by placing formula on the same type of lock-down dispensing regulations as medications. Formula is only to be given to new mothers (even samples in the going-home gift bags) if the mother has a medical need or specifically asks for them. Nurses will have to document how much formula they dispense and to whom. Um, WHAT????

While I agree that breastfeeding is great for baby this form of encouragement is not. What about ladies who have to return to work immediately because they have no maternity leave therefore they cannot breastfeed even if they want to. What about ladies who have given birth out of an unplanned pregnancy – whether it was an “oopsie” or from rape because we all know that really it makes no difference (please note sarcasm) – but maybe the “miracle of motherhood” is not what a lady wanted and has a serious issue with a tiny human latching on and suckling from her breast. There are a myriad of other scenarios that could go in this paragraph but I think the point is made. Shall we now make our new mothers feel extreme guilt and/or worthlessness or as if they are horrible mothers if they cannot or choose to not breastfeed?

The key word here is CHOOSE. For both of these issues the problem comes down to choice. Why does someone other than me have the right to choose for me? Especially with things as intimate and personal as whether I conceive or whether I breastfeed. Please note, I have three children so I am not oblivious to the joys of being a mother. But I CHOSE to be a mother just like I CHOSE to breastfeed my babies. I chose, not politicians. I want my daughter to be able to choose for herself. Why are we taking steps backwards?

This brings me to the third picture – the one that is different. You see, that image is of the only intimate decision that there is not an attempt to regulate. Medications for erectile dysfunction. Pecker pills. It’s interesting to me that the same men who have apparently been bestowed with almighty knowledge to know what is best for every woman also believe that there is no reason for a man to not be able to choose if he wants to have an erection or not. Does anyone else see the hypocrisy here? Essentially, women should procreate and breastfeed because the men say so, and it will happen frequently because the men will be taking medication to ensure they are ever-ready with their erections. I mean let’s face it, you never know when the moment will be right.

I wonder how many times a man will be refused ED medication by their pharmacist…..oh wait….none, because they don’t have the right to refuse the men this. They can only refuse women the medication to prevent pregnancies from the erections they are selling the men.

There are so many other things that our politicians should be focusing on. Unemployment, Social Security, Medicare, Education, Oil Prices, Inflation……but no, let’s worry about women and their girly parts.

Makes sense.

Renewing Frustrations

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What is it about spring and summer that bring about feelings of renewal? I’m aware of the fertility cycle and how all of nature seems to be having babies and all of the flowers are blooming and such…. But I wonder what causes us – or at least me – to feel like I need to conduct a thorough inventory on everything from my deepest feelings and hidden emotions to the dishes stacked perilously in the back of the cupboard and the matchless socks tossed haphazardly behind the bedroom chair. My husband says I should blame the pagans.

Mostly I really enjoy this time of year. I love spring cleaning – the fresh smell of clean baseboards and mopped floors, the windows thrown open, sunshine beaming into the house, flowers on the table, dinner on the deck, warm nights sipping wine in a porch chair…… I love having my kids home from school and all of the sounds of neighborhood laughter. I enjoy afternoons in the park, reading on a blanket by the flowing creek water. I really love rearranging our furniture – I’ve found this is the most inexpensive redecoration possible – sometimes I’ll even throw a new pillow on the bed or a new blanket on the sofa to add to the “whole new room” feel. And, I love the Saturday morning ritual of going to the Farmer’s Market and searching through the fresh vegetables and warm breads and taking little treats for my family home to enjoy. And sangria, I really love sangria.

But, in the spirit of honesty I will tell  you that the inner reflection part that I go through this time of year pretty much sucks for me. Here’s the way it usually works: I read something that triggers a reminder of “things” I want to do. These things have been known to range from finishing a painting that I’ve started to working on the novel that I know is buried in my psyche just waiting to be put on the page to even beginning some type of daily ritual that will end with me being fitter, healthier, more stylish, more charming, more outgoing……you get the picture.

I think the biggest hurdle for me is learning to accept myself just the way I am. I’m always looking at the things I don’t like – and there are many but I won’t bore you with the details – instead of focusing on the things that I do like. Admittedly I don’t really like much but I think that’s part of the accepting thing I need to learn. I’m trying.

Tell me what you do this time of year. Do you reflect? Do you throw out old clothes or dried up makeup? Do you take an hour everyday and write the novel you really want to get on paper? How do you overcome those feelings of inadequacy…or do you even have them?

I’m waiting on your answers – but until you share them I’ll be changing out the duvet, making sweet tea, washing windows…….darn those pagans.

Like is Like So Irritating

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Is there a word or a phrase that drives you bonkers? One that when you hear it sounds eerily similar to fingernails on a chalkboard? One that makes you have to literally bite your tongue in an effort to not chastise the speaker? No? Me neither…..

Actually yes, yes there is one such word/phrase for me. “LIKE”

The word “like” should be used in a grammatically correct fashion. “Like” is a flexible word and can be used correctly in several different ways.

For example:

Used as a preposition in comparisons: (a) Introducing a simile – She plays like Mozart. (b) Non-simile comparison – Biff has a truck like Bob’s.

Used as a verb: I like cake batter ice cream.  Or Leslie likes Jacob.

Or another correct way is as a subordinating conjunction: They look like they have been having fun.

The way that drives me CRAZY goes something LIKE this…….

Like, did you see that outfit? It was like the ugliest color I’ve ever seen. And her shoes were like ridiculous. Her hair was like all frizzy in the back. And like her makeup made her look like so slutty. Does she not like have any friends to tell her she looks like so stupid?

This irritates and confuses me. Well, it doesn’t really confuse me but I feign confusion if one my kids speaks this way. I’ll respond with, “Was it LIKE the ugliest color or WAS it the ugliest color?” Then of course I am treated to dramatic eye rolling and sighing as if I am undoubtedly the dumbest person on the planet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that this is how people speak these days. I almost wrote that this is how teenagers speak but that would not be accurate. I have overheard many adults speaking in the same fashion. Has this become the updated version of “UM?” Maybe I’m old-fashioned but I believe I prefer UM to LIKE being used 5 times in every sentence.

So tell me – what is the word or phrase that does your head in? Is it “like” or maybe the excessive use of “dude?” Or maybe it’s the use of “peace” when the speaker is not really promoting peace, or the use of “righteous” when not speaking about anything actually righteous. Or maybe “awesome” when the subject is not one the actually inspires awe but instead is just sort of okay. I think there quite a few worthy possibilities here.

And don’t even get me started on the use of “LOL” in spoken communication……….

 

Freaky Fried Finds

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What’s your favorite fried food indulgence? I began to ponder this question about 2 weeks into my diet. This may have been an effort to conjure up the aroma of foods that I so love in order to pretend that I am tasting them. May have been. Anyway, after careful consideration I have decided upon my favorite. Crunchy, delicious, Southern Fried Chicken. There is something almost therapeutic about biting into a crunchy piece of chicken and getting to the juicy delicious chicken meat. It’s such a simple food, but oh so tasty – and pairs just fantastically with mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, macaroni & cheese, potato salad……well…..you get my point. Oh, and sweet tea – you must have sweet tea.

This decision really took some soul-searching. There are so many things that are fried these days, and so many of those same foods that I truly love but I reached an important conclusion: many fried foods are fads. Everything from Kool-Aid to pizza is being deep-fried but once the novelty of a weird concoction wears off most people aren’t frying up Kool-Aid on their weekly home menus. But, just because I thought some of these strange ideas were so interesting I’ve decided to share some with you. I’m hoping that some of you readers will have tried some of the more odd ones since I’m really curious as to how they REALLY taste. I’m not certain I would be brave enough to taste them all but I’m nosy, and I want the scoop. So…..without further ado…..some deep-fried menu ideas…….

1. Deep-Fried Soda

Seriously….how is this even possible?

2. Deep-Fried Cheesecake

The cheesecake lover in me died just a little at this photo. It kinda seems like a perfectly delicious slice of cheesecake was ruined – but maybe I’m wrong.

3. Deep-Fried Tofu

Um….Doesn’t this diminish the health value somewhat? I’m no vegetarian, but this just doesn’t make much sense.

4. Deep-Fried Krispy Kreme Cheeseburgers

I’m not certain how to even respond to this one. It’s oddly repulsing yet makes me drool just slightly. So strange.

There are some deep-fried foods that I have tried, the ones of the novelty variety, that I will admit were pretty darned tasty. I don’t foresee me having them anytime in the near future, but as warm weather and county fairs are upon us if you are presented with the opportunity to try any of these next few items, go on and have a bite – you won’t be sorry.

                

Fried pickles………………………………….Fried Oreos………………………Fried Twinkies

Let me know if you’ve tried any outlandish fried foods and which ones are your favorites. And of course, which ones I should never ever try. Go ahead and enjoy – but remember: if you do, please please get that body moving. These foods are not in any way healthy. Trust me, they are not on ANY diet plan out there! Moderation and movement 🙂