Friday, January 30, 2009

eTrade baby

And because we just can't get enough of the eTrade baby around here...Click the title above for a link.

Fly on the Wall

(posting so my mom will quit nagging that it’s been awhile since I’ve updated my blog…)

I finish reading to my daughter the other night and she starts her prayer…

She: Dear God: Please help Mom, Ben, Dad, Jacob, Me, Jett (the dog), the fish and Small Pie (the hamster) have a good night’s sleep. Wait. Not Small Pie. Amen.
Me: Why didn’t you want Small Pie to have a good night’s sleep? (I figure it’s because he just bit me and she’s enacting some revenge on my behalf.)
She: Because. He’s nocturnal?
And if she were a little older she would have added a “Duh” followed by an eye roll.

At dinner the other night…

Ben: What’s up with this applesauce? It’s disgusting.
Me: What’s wrong with it?
Ben: It’s all weird and chunky.
Me: It’s homemade.
Ben: Oh. I love it! It’s amazing. So good and chunky. It’s delicious.
Me: Just pour it out. Good grief.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Good Sports

There are some things in life you 'regret' such as a sarcastic comment uttered that you originally thought was funny. In hindsight, you realized it was probably hurtful and hopefully made amends.

Here in our back yard, we've experienced a different kind of slip-up, to the tune of 100-0. It is embarrassing and also astonishing that no one stepped up during the duration of the game and said, "Hey, look. Let's ease up a bit. Maybe put in a bench warmer or two. Or play a man down." But, no. Somewhere along the way, the team got caught up in the possibility of breaking 100 and let loose. How regretful. And now apologies are being made.

Last night I attended my son's high school soccer game. We won, 4-0. After we were ahead 2-0, the third goal slipped in on an obvious error by the opposing keeper. What followed was admirable. Our boys didn't high-five. The parents didn't cheer or clap. Silence. Good sportsmanship by all, and I was proud. It was as though the goal didn't count, and everyone quietly lined up again at the middle of the field.

Maybe the memory of this recent romp by some high school girls was playing in our heads. Let's hope we never forget it.

PS: Tonight I was alerted about another story of school spirit. This one the good kind and again, it was in our back yard. Click here to read about what happened when Faith Christian in Grapevine hosted the Gainesville Tornadoes. It's very touching.

Monday, January 19, 2009

It's my hair, don't touch it.

I don't think anyone can accuse me of having the same hairstyle my entire life.

This preschool photo of me begs the question, Can your bangs ever be too short? Answer: Yes, oh, absolutely. I think my mom started to see hairline and finally quit trying to get them straight.

Then pretty much every other school picture I had taken showcased my latest home perm. My mother apparently couldn't accept the fact that I had naturally straight hair and tried to prove curly hair could be achieved. I was never happy about it.

Here as a high school junior. Still getting perms but apparently resigned to it and smiling.

Then as an adult, I finally became in charge. At times my hair is long and dark, short and blonde or medium and red. Or any combination of those. But always, always straight.

This past week, I fell victim to another family member's idea of what hairstyle would look good on me. Before I left for my son's soccer game, I let my daughter style my hair. Thankfully I was able to use the excuse of needing to wear a hat, so she let me lose two of the three pony tails. And all the hairbows. I'm old enough now not to lose my dignity at the hands of another. For now. When I'm in a nursing home and unable to defend myself, hopefully no one will take pictures.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why I'm glad I'm not famous

Not long ago a literary agent posted on his blog the question: Would you rather achieve acclaim or great wealth? Now, I'm wondering why people would have to think twice about it. For me it would be like asking, Would you rather live your life in a bubble or be able to have financial security? Kind of a no-brainer.

I'm admittedly easily distracted by celebrity news. It's mostly a work-avoidance tactic, but if I see an interesting lead-in on an article about a famous person, chances are I'll read it. At times I've had to tell myself, Why are you reading about a show firing an actor when you've never even watched the show and have no idea who they are? That's when I reel it in and refocus.

Part of the attraction celebrity news has for me is it gives me an opportunity to give thanks that I currently live in relative obscurity. Not only am I not famous, I've also moved around enough that when I venture out, chances are I won't run into anyone I know. And I like that.

So I decided to list reasons why I'm glad I'm a nobody. And yes, it became another reason to avoid my workload today. (At least I can admit to being a slacker.)

Reasons I’m glad I’m not famous:

1) I can wear my pajamas while I drive my kids to school without fear of rumors being spread that I have a terminal illness.
2) I can shop at Target (or Goodwill) for my clothes without fear of being portrayed as cheap.
3) I can wear my pajamas as I walk to the mailbox without fear of being labeled lazy.
4) I can drive a battered minivan without fear of being laughed at.
5) I can go out in public without wearing makeup without fear of being photographed.
6) I can send text messages to my friends without fear of having them made public.
7) I can wear clothes that make me look fat without fear of rumors that I’m pregnant.
8) I can wear clothes that make me look skinny without fear of rumors that I have an eating disorder.
9) I can scold my children at the grocery without fear of someone calling me a bad mother.
10) I can read a book at the park while my daughter plays without fear of someone saying she’d be better off with her nanny.
11) I can be seen leaving a doctor’s office without fear of people speculating what might be wrong with me.
12) I can have lunch in public with my friends without fear of someone judging me for eating meat. Or carbs. Or both.
13) I don’t feel compelled to name my children after a fruit, a Disney character or a flower.
14) I can age gracefully and not worry about whether the latest facial injection will turn my lips into beanbags.
15) I can write stupid stuff on my blog without fear of having it read by millions.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thankful for the little things

This past Friday after school, my son (a freshman) alerted me to the fact that on Monday he would have a project due for World Geo and might need my help. “Don’t freak out,” he prefaced it. “But I have to make something that people in Bulgaria eat and then make a poster board about it. And since I have a soccer tournament this weekend, I might need you to help me.” Translation: I need you to find a recipe, buy the ingredients and make it.

I must have sighed a little too loudly because my other son (a junior) put a hand on my shoulder and said, “Aren’t you glad I’m not an overachiever. Just think about how much work I save you.”

Good point. He spent his weekend recovering from having his four wisdom teeth extracted. Between trying to keep his cheeks from overtaking his entire face, he popped pain pills, watched movies and was a model patient. He was also supposed to be studying for his mid-terms—which he did. A little.

Monday morning Ben headed to school with platters of Tutmanik (bread made with Feta cheese) and Medeni Kurabii (honey cookies) and a poster board. His brother still looked as though he were packing some marbles in his mouth, so he stayed home one more day to recuperate. When I mentioned that he needed to be studying for his French exam, he put Mean Girls into the DVD player and set the language to French. Not really what I meant, but I’ll give him points for creativity: Je m'appelle Caty. EnchantĂ©!

Of course he learned some handy-dandy swear words too. I’m sure his teacher would be impressed. Hopefully he doesn’t remember those, but who am I kidding. He may not profess to be an overachiever, but he has a pretty good memory. I just hope the pain meds cause some amnesia.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dutch ice skaters

When I was a kid I remember watching my family skate on the frozen lake at my grandparents' home in North Webster, Indiana. My grandmother's family was Dutch and several wore the traditional skates with the wood bases and leather straps with long, dangerous-looking metal blades. We children wore double-bladed skates that kept us from falling as easily.

This morning I found this news story from Holland. Apparently all the canals are frozen over and people are now skating on them. Looks like fun! And it brings back memories of skating with my family at the lake. If you browse through the pictures, you'll find one with a man near his boat, wearing wooden shoes. We have two pairs here at our house. One bright red and new-looking. Another pair that's more natural with hand-painted embellishments. If you've never tried walking in wooden shoes, you're missing out. They're quite painful unless you have on really heavy socks.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Stolen--with you in mind

I’m not in the habit of stealing things and I certainly don’t have an arrest record. In fact, the only thing I’ve lifted is a roll of toilet paper from the bathroom at Pizza King. It was a cold night in high school, and we were on a mission to decorate someone’s lawn. None of us would spring for a four-pack of Northern from the Village Pantry. I made off with a roll of off-brand stuff that tore too easily when we tried to fling it into some trees. Lesson learned.

I am guilty of taking pens and pads of paper from hotel rooms. I’ve checked and it’s acceptable. I leave the towels, the pillows, the tempting mass-produced artwork that requires a screwdriver to the frame. The writing stuff I’m just naturally drawn to.

Over the holiday break we spent a night at Great Wolf Lodge—a hotel near us that sports an indoor waterpark. (My version of hell on earth, but that’s for another blog entry. Who knew people had that many deformities hidden beneath their clothes?)

We managed to make it home without having to spring for any souvenirs. The kid's package included a magic wand-thingy, a Build-A-Bear wolf, a pair of Crocs, and tokens for the game room at a bargain price of nearly $90. No, thank you.

So yesterday while running errands, I fished into my purse and found a Great Wolf Lodge pen. My daughter was seated behind me in the van, and I decided to be generous and gift her with it—even though it was the only one I took. “Here, Mia,” I said. “Look what I got you from Great Wolf Lodge.”

She took it from me and said, “You stole a pen from the hotel room?”

Busted. “No, I didn’t steal it. They let you take a pen and even paper if it’s there. In fact, they expect you to take it.”

She wasn’t buying it. “No, you stole it. This was in our room.”

Oh, for cryin’ out loud. How does she expect to have any fun in high school if she’s going to play by a higher standard than the rest of us? I popped my hand back over the seat. “Give me back my pen.”

I can relate

Charles Schulz has always been my favorite cartoonist, and long ago I clipped this one out of the newspaper, tucking it away for safekeeping. I found it the other day while cleaning my office. I wonder, if Mr. Schulz were alive today, if he might revise this one and have Snoopy taking it out on his computer when a "not right for us" came in his email inbox. I'm guessing even Mr. Schulz experienced a rejection letter or two in his day. Somehow that makes me feel better.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Making calendars

Every year for the past dozen or so, I’ve made personalized calendars for grandparents and us. About seven years ago, my friend Jennifer gave me some calendar-making software that made including everyone's birthday a breeze. I just entered the names once and then each year they were automatically there. This year Jennifer converted to Shutterfly’s calendar program and, being a good, obedient friend, I did the same, even though this meant re-inputting everyone’s birthdays. (And for my mother's calendar, I had to input the dates when people close to us have died.)

Since this was a pretty big task, naturally I put it off for as long as possible. Shutterfly’s set-up was easy to follow, and this weekend I began inputting dates for our calendars. Keep in mind that I make four and no two have the exact same birthdates posted, therefore this involves some coordination on my part to make sure someone doesn’t get a calendar and think, Who the heck is Joe Blow and why is he having a birthday on my calendar?

My mother likely keeps up with everyone she’s ever met and when they were born. I’ve convinced her to whittle down her card-giving list and now she only keeps up with 205 birthdates/anniversaries/deathdates. It’s really 205. I just counted. I called her last night after I ordered her calendar to let her know it was on its way.

Me: I just ordered your calendar and it will come directly to you from Shutterfly.
She: Oh, good. Thanks.
Me: One problem. Shutterfly will only allow you to list three events on each date. On two occasions you had four. On February 14 you had three birthdays, so I had to leave off Valentine’s Day.
She: That’s fine.
Me: And then also in February, you had four people with birthdays on the same day, so I dropped one of them.
She: That’s okay. Who did you drop?
Me: Someone named Madge Waters.*
She: Oh, that’s fine. She died this year.
Me: (laughing and trying not to) I guess I picked the right one!

Lesson: Be careful what you offer to do for people. Sometimes there is no end in sight.

*not her real name

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year*

I’m a middle-aged woman who lives in a house
With three kids and a dog, some fish and my spouse
And a hamster named Small Pie, a cute little fellow
Who came here last Christmas, and is really quite mellow
This holiday season is officially through
And now here today is a year that’s brand new
As I stare at the tree that today will come down
And clear out some closets and move stuff around

I wonder how time seems to pass in a flash
And how it all happens in a furious dash
To kick off the season, my daughter and me**
Saw Madeline’s Christmas at the DCT
Then Grandma arrived on a plane from the Midwest
With a Pizza King pizza in her bag (it’s the best)
We took her to fabulous Gaylord on ICE
Which everyone agreed was freezing but nice

Up at the high school we saw Benjamin play
Soccer against varsity girls one cold day
Then back at the school we enjoyed Madrigal
Where Jacob and friends performed for us all
And Grammy and PawPaw came up for a night
To see Scrooge, the musical, what a wonderful sight
As Grandma packed up to head home with a jingle
What did appear on her skin but the Shingles!
She flew back to Muncie one brisk afternoon
With some meds in the hope that she’d get better soon

We baked and made candy, some yummy, some icky
Including some taffy that came out too sticky
We also had carolers who showed up one night
The freshman girls’ soccer team—to Ben’s pure delight
Some movies this season we managed to see
Chihuahua and Bolt then Marley & Me
And others we rented or watched on TV
Mamma Mia, The Holiday, and Love Actually

Our cards were mailed out, not a moment too soon
And the presents got wrapped in one afternoon
I met Joan for lunch at a local café
(It was great to enjoy a few hours away)
Then Mia and Daniel helped me complete
The 500-piece puzzle we started last week
I also kept working and managed to write
For Living five articles and edited at night

As the New Year arrives I plan to complete
Another new novel, then read and critique
With others who share in this crazy, sick game
Of writing for pleasure (and potential great fame)
As characters beckon and beg to be heard
I’ll sit at the keyboard and type out each word
Then one day I’ll look up and see that it’s done
And hope that this manuscript’s really the one
That opens the door to a brand new career
Wouldn’t that be a cool goal for this year?

* My apologies to Philip for writing a poem that rhymes--awkwardly at times--but it's all I know how to do.
** Pardon the poor grammar. There again, it rhymed better so I took artistic liberties.