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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Huh?

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Somebody wants me to go to a swamp to cheer on a firing squad? Stoner/sludge/metal? Is that like rock/paper/scissors? At least they don't want me to pay good money for it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

It's time to get serious

You know it's time to get serious about eating less and moving more when...

...you open a new package of underwear and the sheer size of it takes your breath away for a moment
...you already have an answer formulated for the question "When are you due?" and you're not pregnant
...the IN Shape Indiana people want to know when they can schedule the final video shoot and your first thought is January 2013
...your snoring has made a mighty return and your husband has threatened to record it and share it on YouTube
...you don't bother hanging your clothes in the closet because going in there and seeing all the clothes that don't fit anymore is depressing
...your bra size has jumped to the triple alphabets
...you consider it a victory when you can go one whole day without eating something chocolate
...you can feel your belly resting on your upper legs when you sit down
...you contemplate trying on the fat dress you swore you'd never wear again, but don't because you're afraid it might be too small
...you feel guilty contributing posts to the Fit City Moms Blog
...your last family picture was taken in 2006 but you don't want to schedule another one for fear there will be an additional charge for mandatory use of the wide-angle lens

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My secret fantasy

Note: This post will not include anything about stripper poles, leather or anything else of an adult theme. If that's what you were hoping for, move along. Or get your mind out of the gutter and read on.

Raised Hands Pictures, Images and Photos

There are a few things you should know about me in order to understand my secret fantasy.
  1. I love to sing, but I'm not great at it.
  2. The only songs I know the words to are church music and show tunes.
  3. I'm a cradle Catholic (which means I've been Catholic since I was born).
I love the Catholic church. I love the tradition and the ritual. I love the universality of it -- knowing that the Scripture we're reading on Sunday is the same one being proclaimed in a Catholic church in Honduras and Vietnam and Germany on the same day. I love the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. (And I'm not here to debate the pros and cons of Catholicism. So if that's what you were hoping for, move along.)

But one thing that is true about the Catholic church is that the music is often not exactly rockin'. Although 6pm Mass on Sunday nights at my church is as close as we Catholics dare come. Someday, I'm going to visit one of those evangelical, rockin' and swaying, churches where the music is alive. But that's not my secret fantasy.

My secret fantasy is that someday I'll stand up in the middle of my church, and moved by the Spirit, start belting out a song. This will likely always remain a fantasy because of #1 above. And because I care too much about what other people think and I'm pretty sure if I stood up in church and started singing a capella, they'd think I'd been sneaking a few too many sips of communion wine.

The closest I've ever come to even having the chance to fulfill my fantasy was last Sunday. We had a visiting priest who was there to raise money for Franciscan missions around the world. Fr. Ed was his name. Fr. Ed did exactly what I've always wanted to do. He stood up and starting singing when it was least expected:

"My God and my all, how I long to love you. To give you my heart, to give you my soul."

The difference is that a.) Fr. Ed is a priest and was running the show and b.) the man could SING.

His homily was about the fact that none of us is perfect, yet God calls each of us. I briefly considered that this was my opportunity -- to take my imperfect voice and answer the call I've felt for all these years to stand up and sing. Except that I think that "call" might actually be more ego than invitation.

Fr. Ed continued on, telling the story of an Easter Mass he was offering in Jamaica where one woman did sing out "God is not dead!" and another woman replied in song "He is alive!"

As Fr. Ed told the story, singing as the women in that small church had sung, I began to cry. I wasn't sad. It wasn't about wanting to sing out and not doing it. I was moved by the love and the Spirit these women felt, carried across the world by a priest to my own church, where that same love and Spirit touched my heart.

I think if I ever had the chance to make my secret fantasy a reality, I missed it last week. Unless I go to church in Jamaica someday.

Friday, August 26, 2011

On paint and perspective and other possibilities

Ahhhh! Stretch! I'm just waking up from a little mid-morning snooze and I am rarin' to go. Or at least to frag. Because it's Friday and that means fragments with Mrs. 4444s.

Mommy's Idea

Remember my paint dilemma? It's solved. As in painted and too late to change my mind if I wanted to. And it looks good. But was doesn't look good is my house and all the upheaval still waiting to be put away. So, I don't have pics to share yet. But my goal this weekend is to get everything in order. I won't go back to work until this place doesn't look like a Goodwill sorting room. (In other words, boss, I'll see ya in two weeks.)

I could complain about the mess in the house, but then I remember there are people with no place to call home. The other day I was whining about not liking the way my hair looked, and then I saw a note on Facebook from a friend just starting chemo who was excited about the cool hat she got to wear when her hair is gone from the treatment. Life is just a matter of perspective, isn't it?

Driving home from church this morning, I was behind a gold SUV with vanity plates that said GRAMS. Not being able to see the driver, I couldn't decide if the car belonged to a grandmother or a drug dealer.

My job is not particularly stressful. I've been there for almost 6 years. I work 30 hours a week and I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've actually felt stress over the work I do. But the next 3 months are probably going to skew those stress stats. I've got my normal stuff to do, plus a few short-term projects, plus I'm taking an online graduate course in grantwriting. Add in my presentation to the Upper Midwest Social Media Conference, my Visit Indiana stuff and oh yeah, being a wife and mother and excuse me while I go fix a morning cocktail Diet Coke just thinking about it. Happily, it's all good. It's just a whole lotta good.

Christmas is less than 4 months away. Have you started shopping yet?

You know that very bad dog we have? The one that has only earned a place to stay because Robbie loves her so much? Well, she chewed his black Angry Bird and disabled the bird sounds. Robbie was none too happy and declared, "That's it! We are getting rid of that dog!" I'm not sure why we didn't capitalize on the emotion of the moment, but lucky for Gabby, we didn't and she's still here.

It's a gorgeous day here. Hope it is where you are, too. And if you happen to be in the path of Hurricane Irene, know I'm praying for your safety.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Is it global warming or perimenopause?

I've never been a bake-in-the-sun kind of girl. But I have been a turtlenecks-and-sweaters-in-the-winter and wear-socks-to-keep-me-warm girl. Until the last six or nine months, that is.

My husband used to marvel at the preferred temperature of my shower -- stinging hot. And I could climb into a garden tub full of hot water and soak for long enough to watch at least one episode of Grey's Anatomy. I drank hot chocolate year-round.

Over the past several months, I've become a connoisseur of showers that border on downright cold. A garden tub full of hot water is wasted on me because after about 3 minutes, I'm sweating so much that "relaxing" is the last word I would use to describe the experience. I keep a fan running in my air-conditioned office and the last time I had hot chocolate, I put ice cubes in it.

Either those tree-hugging, global-warming-criers are right or I've entered that magical time known as "perimenopause." That's when your body begins flirting with the idea of menopause, but thinks that it might be fun to mess with you and internal systems for 8 or 10 years before finally caving to the non-fertile, non-flashy phase of life.

I'm not a stranger to hormonally-induced hot flashes. When I was pregnant with Annie, I worked for a Fortune 500 company. I would get such crazy hot flashes that when they descended on me, if I didn't get some cool relief like NOW, I would be physically sick. As in tossing my pickles and ice cream. So, when I felt one coming on, I would run to the bathroom, praying that the handicapped stall was free. Once safely inside some stall, I would start stripping clothes off until eventually I was standing in my bra and underwear, mopping my forehead with scratchy, business-grade toilet paper and praying that there were not secret security cameras capturing what took place in the ladies room.

I'm fortunate to not have hit that extreme of hot flashes, yet. But I do turn the A/C up full blast when I get in the car, no matter whose car it is. I put ice on the back of my neck and don't even flinch at the sting of the cold. I'm all for family togetherness, but don't even think about sitting right up next to me at church. Leave some room for the Holy Spirit (and for a breeze), please.

We went to visit my father-in-law for the first time since my mother-in-law passed away. I used to complain that their house was so cold -- the thermostat set to "frosty" just as she liked it. During our most recent visit, I found myself flapping around magazines to cool off and wondering if anyone would notice if I turned down the air conditioner about 10 degrees or so. I was able to negotiate about a 4-degree drop in temp. Not exactly what I wanted, but it was a good start.

Tonight, I was sorting laundry upstairs and cursing our new air conditioner because I was not feeling cool air. "I feels like the air isn't even on," I complained.

"It's not," said Mike. "I turned it off around 3pm." Seriously? Taking air conditioning away from a woman in perimenopause is like taking the remote control away from a man during the Super Bowl. The consequences can be life-threatening.

I wonder how my body will react to winter this year. Maybe I'll be one of those fools running around without a coat on. Maybe I'll stand outside on the front porch during an ice storm to enjoy the "light precipitation" and the cold air that comes with it. I'm guessing there will be no fuzzy slippers and flannel pj's. Instead, I'm thinking cotton shorts and a t-shirt.

So, just how long does this hot flash phase last? I mean, should I get rid of my collection of cotton turtlenecks completely? Or just pack them away for a few months? Will it get worse before it gets better?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My kind of yoga


Some of you may remember that my first (and until yesterday, last) experience with yoga was not the relaxing, restful encounter I'd hoped for. Yesterday, at the invitation of a friend, I took a restorative yoga class.

The room was dark and cool. The requisite Eastern music was playing. My friend Brenda helped me get a mat and the three dense pillows I would need for the class. I was all set.

Except that I didn't know I had to pay for the class at the front desk, which was all the way on the other side of the building. The class was getting ready to start, so I had to high-tail it down three corridors. I handed the attendant my $5 and she looked at me like I was nuts. The class was $12.

During the trek back to the yoga studio, I was muttering to myself that this class had better be worth it. I arrived back in the room feeling a little defensive and irritated. But I took my place on my mat and tried to allow my deep inhale and exhale push those feelings out of my mind.

Right away, I could tell this class would be different. First of all, each pose is held for 7 to 10 minutes, so that eliminated the anxiety I had in the other class about just figuring out a pose when the instructor moved on to something else. Because the poses were so lengthy, that meant that instructor wasn't chattering through the whole thing.

All the poses happened on the mat. The intention of the class is to encourage stillness, release muscle tension and counteract those bad-for-my-bod postures I spend much of the day in. None of the poses were confusing or hard to do. The most difficult part of the class was trying to keep my mind empty of thoughts about what I had to do later in the day and whether or not my belly was hanging out from under my t-shirt. I'm pretty sure I might have dozed for a minute or two here and there.

Truthfully, I can't tell you how long the class was. I think 60 minutes, but it felt longer. At the end of the class, I was a believer. I don't think I've been that relaxed since I was under the influence of nitrous oxide in the root canal that wasn't.

As I left the studio, I recognized what I was feeling. It's the way I feel after I've gotten a massage. Except, there was none of that deep muscle soreness. And there was no stranger putting her hands all over me. But the results were the same -- I felt taller, more fluid and amazingly rested.

Restorative yoga has restored my faith in yoga.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fabulous Fragmentation

It's awesome day -- mostly because I don't have to go to work today. (I love my job, but I love days off, too.) The boys and I are headed to the Indiana State Fair in just a bit. But I couldn't leave without celebrating Friday Fragments with Mrs. 4444s and you all!

Mommy's Idea

Over at the 4th Frog Facebook page, we were having a discussion about fairs. What Kimmybeee had to say was so funny, I thought I'd repeat it here:


We are rednecks and hillbillies and country bumpkins lol when we wear cowboy boots, they usually have cow poop on them lol.

I'm thinking I shouldn't introduce her to Annie, who earlier this summer declared "I will never marry a redneck, ever."  Just recently we were at a wedding. Late into the reception, Annie walked out into the hall and said "It is full-on hillbilly drunk in there."

* * * 

Last night we met up with some hometown friends of Mike's who were passing through Indy. Josh's mom is of Mexican descent, so they always want to find some authentic Mexican cuisine. We ended up here:

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If you plan ahead, you can eat dinner, have your taxes done and schedule your next vacation all at the same time!


***

School starts for the boys next week. Charlie's soccer team has already met for practice. But Robbie doesn't have any outside activities. I don't want to overload the kids, but I do think one outside activity is a good idea.

Me: "What activity do you want to do this fall? Swimming?"

Robbie: "No."

Me: "Gymnastics?"

Robbie: "No."

Me: "Soccer?"

Robbie: "No."

Me: "Well, what do you want to do?"

Robbie: "Sit on the couch and watch TV."


At least the kid's honest.



***


A few prayer requests: 

* Please continue to pray for those hurt (45) and killed (5) in the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair.
* Prayers for a friend and mother of 8 who will begin treatment for breast cancer next week.
* Prayers for another friend who is struggling with tough love for her daughter who is currently in jail and with the worry of how to help their granddaughter. 
* And of course, prayers that Mike find employment soon are always appreciated. He's been blessed to have some freelance work to do, but we'd sure like a regular paycheck.


Have a great weekend. For more Friday Fragments, click here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The $100 uniform skirt

Yesterday was Annie's first day of high school. Unlike when she went off to kindergarten, she did not throw a fit about having to wear a plaid uniform. Instead, she was quite adamant that she would be wearing the plaid uniform skort on the first day of school.

Her exact words were "Mom, if I show up to school in khaki pants on the first day, everyone will think I'm a lesbian." Never mind the fact that she wore khaki pants every day to summer school and no one questioned her gender identity.

So, skort for school -- fine by me. Not so fine by the uniform store.

I think uniform stores and bridal salons are in cahoots to make girls and women feel totally crappy about their size. Although the skort Annie tried on at the uniform store was tagged as 2 sizes bigger than she actually wears, it was too small.

I asked about ordering something in a larger size. Seriously, Annie is not that big of a kid. No. This was all they had to offer me. However, if I wanted to, I could order the plaid fabric and have someone make a skort for her. Other students had done the same, the saleslady told me, and the school had the pattern.

Ok. Fine. Let's order the fabric.

Well, not so fast. See, the person on duty at the store while we were there didn't actually know how to order the fabric. Could someone call me the next day to place the order? Sure.

About a week passed before we actually connected and I authorized the $45 charge for the fabric. Once the order was placed, I called the school to see about getting the pattern. Except that school doesn't exactly have a pattern. As in they definitely do NOT have a pattern. But not to worry, the person I was speaking to (who happens to be a friend of mine) said she would figure out what was going on.

She asked around and found out that yes, some girls did have their skorts custom made last year -- by the uniform store. So I called back to the uniform store where I was promptly told that no, they didn't offer that service and never have.

Frustrated, but not yet defeated, I called the store's 1-800 customer service number. I was hopeful because when I went to the website, it says right there "Full Size Ranges -- We fit the whole school from preK to teachers." The nice but clueless woman on the other end of the customer service number had no idea what I was talking about and suggested that I just find my daughter's size on the size chart on their website and order accordingly.

Ugh! If it were only that easy!

So I called back to the local store, told them that I was coming to buy a skirt that I knew didn't fit. But I was going to take it to the fabric store and use it to find a similar pattern skort. Then I would buy the pattern, find a seamstress to make the skort, and return the store-bought skort for a full refund. Praise the Lord, they had no problem with that.

The (next) trouble came in trying to locate a skort pattern at the fabric store. Annie and I went straight from the uniform store to JoAnn Fabrics, where we spent more than an hour trying to locate ANY skort pattern, let alone one that would match the sample skort we were carrying around.

(As an aside -- why in the world haven' t Butterick's, McCall's, Simplicity and all their sewing cronies entered the 21st century? Seriously, we had to page through book after book after book, looking up indices, trying to find skort patterns. Where are the kiosks that allow people to go on a computer, type "skort" in the search terms and then be given near instantaneous feedback as to where such a pattern might exist? But I digress...)

Having run into another brick wall, I turned to the place everyone turns in times of desperation or desire for inspiration: Facebook. "Does anyone in the Indy area know of a seamstress who can make a skirt w/o a pattern, just by looking at a sample piece?"

Within a few minutes, I had a couple of names. 

I called Cele (short for Celadonia), an older Venezuelan woman who has done lots of sewing for family friends of Mike's family. She said sure, no problem. Come on over.

Cele looked at the sample skort and said she could make one in Annie's size. She took Annie's measurements, asked when we needed it and said she could do it. Before we left, I had to hug her. She was a long-awaited answer to an admittedly egocentric prayer.

The day before school, I called Cele to see when we might be able to pick up the skort.

"This evening."

A little close for comfort, but ok. About an hour later, she called and said that she needed a few extra measurements. A few hours after that, she wanted us to come over to try on the shorts part of the skort.

When we got there, the shorts, though unfinished, fit really well. Annie was excited. Cele looked tired. It turns out her son is getting married in Venezuela this weekend and she'd spent much of the past several days sewing dresses for her granddaughters. But, she would get the skort finished in time for Annie to wear to school the next day.

In the meantime, I started preparing Annie for the possibility of spending her first day of school in khaki pants. She reacted as most 14-year-old girls would -- with tears.

At 8:00pm, I called Cele to check in. 9:30, she said. The skort would be done then.

At 9:30pm, she called to say she needed about 20 more minutes. I could her the exhaustion in her voice. I told her if she wanted, we could get it another day. The world would not come to an end if Annie wore khaki pants to school on the first day.

"No, I promised and I don't want Annie to be disappointed."

We arrived at Cele's apartment at 10pm. So much for early bedtimes the night before school starts. She was finishing the hem of the skort. We chatted as she sewed. She wanted to press it. I said not to worry. One good thing about school uniform plaid is that it's industrial strength and rarely needs to be ironed.

Cele sewed in a "Made Especially for You by Celadonia" label, then Annie tried on the skort. It fit perfectly! Both Annie and I hugged Cele this time.

For all of her efforts, Cele only charged my $40. I knew how much time she'd put into it and I really appreciated her working late into the night to get it finished, so I gave her good tip as well.

And that's how Annie got a $100 uniform skort. I think it was worth it:

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Monday, August 15, 2011

LOL Monday: Take 3

This week's LOL Monday is courtesy of one of Mike's high school friends who posted this on his Facebook wall. He snapped this pic at a magazine rack he happened upon:

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I had to laugh at the juxtaposed title of this magazine. And I wondered what a magazine that captures the soul of the North might be called?

What's made you LOL recently?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Please pray

The stage at the Indiana State Fair grandstand collapsed under a gust of wind tonight. At least 4 people are dead. 2 dozen injured. Please keep these people in your prayers and also my colleague Andy who handles communications for the fair. I'm sure he's working through a nightmare.

http://www.wthr.com/story/15262930/stage-collapses-at-state-fairgrounds

Sometimes I just can't help it

I know before going in that this is pointless. But my pride gets the better of me and I do it anyway.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. So clearly, I am insane. What other explanation is there?

Maybe, I tell myself, maybe this time will be different.

But it's never different. Always, I end up physically and emotionally tensed. Useless anger bubbling up under the surface. I hold my breath. I tighten the muscles in my back. And when I get the usual result, I go back for more.

Insanity, I tell you.

Seriously, though. Sometimes I just can't help myself. Hope springs eternal and this time might offer a different outcome.

Or not.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Just fragments

Mommy's Idea

That's what I've got left after this week. Just fragments. A brain download, if you will. And I can do that, thanks to Mrs. 4444s.

Putting out an ABB: Hello officer, I'd like to report an ABB. Yes, that's right. An "assault with a binding brassiere." I purchased a new bra this week. I wanted a new dress, but what I ended up with was a new bra. Anyway, the lady at the pricey store measured me and said I'm "a 41 on the dot, so let's go with a 40."  I'm always up for smaller numbers. But now, after two days of wearing this torture device, I'm pretty sure the durn thing has bruised my sternum.

Play it again, Skeeter: I saw "The Help" on Wednesday night. Great movie! There aren't many I'd pay to see in the theater twice, but this one I would. It was fairly true to the book. Oh, and go easy on the Diet Coke because it's a LONG movie and you don't want to miss anything.

Mason City, Iowa, anyone? Do you live within driving distance of Mason City, Iowa? It's 1/2-way between St. Paul, MN and Des Moines, IA. Anyway, I'll be there in late September speaking at the Upper Midwest Social Media Conference. My topic: Privacy in Blogging and Social Media: How Much Is Too Much? If you've never been to a social media conference, this might be a good one to start with. Admission is only $50.

Home improvement (dis)harmony: Well, we've arrived at no real decision on the paint colors for the first floor. I did convince Mike to postpone the painting there. We're having the master bed and bath painted, but we haven't quite agreed on which room will be which color. I think a Serious Gray in the bedroom and Expressive Plum in the bathroom. Mike wants the opposite. Also, he apparently thinks little fairies are going to come in the night and prep the house for the work to be done. Although the first floor walls won't be painted, they will be painting the ceilings this weekend. Do I have to take down the curtains for them to paint the ceiling? This little fairy is going to need a lot of Diet Coke to pull this all-nighter.

Back to school: Most kids around here started school this week. That's way too early. Annie starts high school on Tuesday. The boys don't start until a week later. Tonight was parent orientation night at the high school. It was a little weird looking around the room, wondering who would be the parents we'll get to know well over the next 4 years. As we listened to the head of school and several of the teachers, I felt like we'd definitely made the right decision about where to send Annie for high school. That felt good.

Time to get a move on in getting this house ready for phase 1 of its renovation. Hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

This is how the trouble started in the first place

We've lived in our house for 13 years. The last time we painted the kitchen and family room was 11 years ago. The last time we painted the living room, dining room and entry was about nine years ago. The last time the first floor bathroom was painted...well, that's where the trouble got started.

I wanted a yellow bathroom. Eleven coats and three shades of paint ranging from macaroni and cheese to school bus to "I wear my sunglasses to pee" later, the bathroom was painted and I was banned from ever selecting paint colors again.

Until tonight. We've decided to repaint the first floor, our bedroom (which Mike says is currently "old lady blue") and the master bath, which is still sporting the original builder's paint. I would have like to take my time selecting the colors. Go through some decorating magazines. Maybe consult a decorator or at least a few friends with a better eye for color than me. But when Mike gets it in his head he's going to do something, he wastes no time. So he scheduled the painters to be here Friday, Saturday and Sunday to paint the entire first floor (except the laundry room and the pantry), the stairwell, the master and the upstairs hallway.

Which is why we were at the paint store looking at paint chips tonight. Mike said, "I'm leaving the colors up to you." The flourescence of the first floor bathroom must have wiped the memory cells from his brain because he distinctly said previously (after the screaming yellow and the old lady blue incidents) that I was not allowed to choose paint colors anymore. His position has even been agreed with by two good friends.

I decided to take advantage of the lapse in his memory and selected a palette for the home re-do. Here is what I chose:

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Indigo Batik for the majority of the first floor walls, with the exception of a few accent walls, which will be Antique Red. The bathroom will go from "I'd rather be blind yellow" to Quiver Tan. Our kitchen cabinets and the doors and trim are white, so I thought they would stand out nicely against the blue, which will also cover the stairwell leading to the bedrooms.

The master bedroom will lose "old lady blue" in favor of Expressive Plum. The plan is to paint the master bath and the upstairs hallway Serious Gray.

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I love the colors on the color chips, but I'm beginning to wonder if all that blue and gray won't make it seem a bit cave like? Maybe the living room, dining room, entry and stairway would be better Quivering than Batiking? 

What if the painters get the paint on the walls and I hate it? I guess if nothing else, I can blog about it.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When going with the flow means $h!+ doesn't get done

I have always prided myself on being a laid-back kind of girl. No rigid routines. No crazy procedures. No Meatloaf Monday,  Taco Tuesday at our house. Nope. The words that I use to describe myself are words like "easy going" and "flexible."

Those are adjectives that I'm happy to be associated with. (Yes, I know I just ended a sentence with a preposition, but because I'm rolling with the punches, I'm happy to look the other way.) But I've reached a point in my life where the going with the flow means shit doesn't get done.

Appointments get missed because they weren't immediately put into the family calendar that resides on our phones. Late night writing sessions occur because suddenly instead of having four weeks to get eight articles written, I have two days. Boys go commando under their shorts (not that they're complaining) because I forgot to wash the load of dirty underwear sitting in the hallway. The gym membership goes paid for, but unused, because the thought of "I need to exercise" somehow doesn't translate into actual exercise without some planning and dedication.

It's time, I'm afraid, for me to pull out the "s" word. No, not the one I've already used. The other one. The one that makes me want to a choke a little bit just saying it.

"Structure."

I'm envisioning before and after school checklists for the kids. Family calendar meetings on Sundays after church to plan for the week ahead. A writing schedule for myself so that all of my assignments get the attention they deserve. A routine school-work-gym schedule that fills everyone's needs.

In some ways, the implementation of more structure in my life feels a little like my carefree self has been defeated. That there will be some anal list-maker type standing over my shoulder saying "I told you so." (Sally from Mike Myers' "The Cat in the Hat" movie, anyone?) Yet there is a part of me that is deliciously tempted by the promise of order and sanity.

Maybe I will find that being a little more organized in my approach to life will actually leave more room to be easy-going, instead of rushed and harried, trying to catch up in those places where I've fallen behind. Or maybe it will suck.

Who knows? But I'm willing to give it a try.

For more Pour Your Heart Out posts, click here.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Put yourself in my bathtub

You've been traveling for five days, the last two of which were spent at an amusement park. You're pretty sure that you might be forced to call a chiropractor or a massage therapist to erase the effects of the bumper cars on your back. The house is quiet, but you can't sleep because your feet, legs, arms and back are registering their discontent with being cramped in a car, rested in strange beds, and assaulted for entertainment. So you decide a hot bath is in order.

You've just sunken your aching body into the perfectly-temperatured bath. You can feel your muscles begin to forgive you a bit for the abuse you've heaped on them. Despite what the Rolaids people would have you believe, you're certain relief is spelled "H-O-T-B-A-T-H."

Then you hear it. Thunder. Long and rolling and nearby thunder.

Do you:
  1. Think how lucky you are? You love the sound of rain and think it adds a perfect backdrop to the moment.
  2. Pretend you don't hear it and try to rush your body into relaxation before your better sense kicks in and you force yourself out of the tub?
  3. Immediately hop out because you once saw on Oprah/Dateline NBC/Mythbusters that taking a bath or a shower during a thunderstorm is just asking to be struck by lightning, even if you are inside your house?

Monday, August 8, 2011

LOL Monday: Take 2

Squeaking in at the last minute with this LOL Monday post because we just got home from vacation at Holiday World and Splashin' Safari. While waiting in line to ride The Wildebeest watercoaster (ride was awesome; 60 minute wait was not), I caught sight of an attractive woman with a large tattoo of a native American on her back. I did not have a phone or camera on me -- hello, water slide! -- or I SOOOO would have snapped a picture.

Based on the two words inked above the Indian image, I know the tattoo was intended to convey respect and admiration for her heritage. It said:

Charokee Pride

Guess she wasn't proud enough to make sure they spelled it correctly before having it permanently affixed to her body.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What came home from camp

Last Sunday I sent to camp:

* 1 pair of sheets, two blankets and a pillow
* 1 pair of Keen-knockoff shoes, never worn and purchased the night before
* 6 pairs of socks
* T-shirts and shorts
* Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap and shampoo, though didn't know if there would be anyone at camp to nag...I mean remind...my camper to put them to use.

All with a boy who, despite his tendency to be a little boastful, could be sometimes meek and longing for approval and acceptance and who always wanted to be playing video games.

Yesterday, I picked up from camp:

* 1 pair of sheets and 1 blanket -- maybe a bear ran off with the pillow and the other blanket?
* 1 pair of Keen-knockoff shoes, muddy with the evidence of creek-stomping, crawdad catching and nightly bonfiring
* 3-1/2 pair of socks
* T-shirts and shorts that corroborated the story told by the shoes
* Toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, soap and shampoo that had amazingly been used, apparently with some regularity

And a kid who seemed to not only have grown two inches in the space of 6 days, but who also had a new confidence, not swagger but a self-assuredness, about him. What's more, he didn't even ask to see an iPhone until we'd been in the car for more than 30 minutes. And he's voluntarily taken a shower two nights in a row.

To borrow the words to a song he learned while at camp:

Amen. Amen. H-A-P-P-Y! Yay God!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Trip down Memory Lane, driven by Facebook

A former co-worker of mine grew up in the same city where I lived for about 3 years when I was little. I saw him posting to a group on Facebook called "Memories of Growing Up in Richmond, Indiana." Despite only living there from ages 6-9, I do have many memories of those years and it's been fun reading through what others remember as well.

This little excursion via Facebook reminded me that I did a real-life trip down memory lane earlier this summer with Annie. We went to Richmond to check out the Chocolate Trail. While we were there, I took the time to show Annie some of the places I remembered from my childhood.

Places like the house I lived in, which smelled like incense when we first moved in. (An Indian family had lived there before us). It had an opening next to the fireplace through which you could crawl from the sunken living room into the kitchen.

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I got my first kiss in that house. I was in the 3rd grade, wearing my pajamas. Danny Wissel had come over to our house with his mom. He kissed me on the cheek and I was in luv. (Note to self: Look for Danny Wissel on Facebook.)

We drove past the really cool dome house just down the street from ours. Except its not so really cool anymore:

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I told Annie about the time my friend Paige and I went from her house to mine, walking across freshly laid asphalt in our bare feet. I still remember sitting on the edge of the bathtub, eating popsicles while my mom scrubbed out feet with lighter fluid. 

Annie almost didn't believe me when I told her about the day I walked two blocks away in search of the ice cream truck. I bought 4 cones with my own money as a surprise for my mom, sister and brother. But I couldn't carry them all, so I happily accepted the ice cream truck driver's offer to drive me home. I climbed aboard the truck anticipating how surprised and happy my mom would be at my generosity. That was not exactly her reaction. 

I remember Valerie Duffy's older sisters crying and carrying on because some guy named Elvis died. I didn't get it. 

Then Annie and I drove through town and found ourselves in front of St. Mary's, where we went to school. There used to be a metal jungle gym in the right-hand corner of the lot, next to the windows.

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My teachers while I was in school there were Sister Julia, Sister Shirley and Miss Barth. Sister Julia had a plastic apple filled with peanuts. If you got the right stamp on your paper, you could go pick one or two peanuts out of the apple as a treat. No allergies to deal with then, I suppose. One day during indoor recess, someone broke Sister's plastic apple. It was replaced by a red and black plaid lunchbox. The neatest thing about Sister Julia was that she could eat anything because her taste buds had been destroyed in a car accident.

I was happy to find that the church was open. This is the church where I received my First Communion -- two weeks early because my baby sister was due on First Communion Day. It's the church where Fr. Van Benton scared the daylights out of us when he came out of the confessional and yelled at us in his deep and booming voice because not everyone had the Act of Contrition memorized. It's also the church where my dad and I would go to evening Mass twice a week when he was out of a job. 

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We moved from Richmond at the end of 3rd grade. I wonder how my life would have been different if we stayed there? No regrets. Just wondering.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

Separation anxiety

Photobucket We took Charlie to his first sleep-away camp yesterday.

We arrived toward the tail end of check-in, thanks in part to some shoddy navigation by someone who should have been paying attention to the Google map instead of playing 13 games of Words with Friends on the phone. By the time we checked in and walked up (and up and up) to his cabin, his group was gathered out front, ready to go to the pool. While he changed into his swimsuit, Mike and I made his bed and tucked his suitcase away.

Charlie seemed a little nervous,  but mostly ready to go make some new friends. I gave him a quick kiss and hug and off he went. There wasn't a lot of time for long goodbyes and really, I was excited for him to have the opportunity.

By bedtime last night, though, I was starting to miss him. It's not like Charlie's never slept away from home before. In fact, he spent Friday night at a slumber party. I'm not sure "missing him" is the right phrase. I just wondered whether he was warm or cool enough in the cabin, if he'd liked what they served for dinner, how he was getting along with the other boys in his group. I said a quick prayer for his safety and his experience and went to bed.

This morning, "missing him" certainly fit the bill. Did he sleep ok? Did his pillow fall off the end of the bunk bed? Did the nurse remember to give him his allergy medicine? Had he lost anything yet? (I'm pretty sure he won't come home with everything we packed.)

As I walked from the parking lot to my office building, I was thinking that this will be the longest period of time in Charlie's whole life that I've gone without talking to him. Again, I said a prayer for him and walked into the building.

When I got to my desk, the red voicemail message light was lit up. As I waited for the laptop to warm up, I punched in my voicemail access code to listen to the message. It was Charlie! He'd left the message for me after I'd left the office on Friday, so the question he was asking was no longer relevant. But the sound of his voice was just what I needed to hear.

I smiled as I listened to it and thanked God for this small reminder of his faithfulness and for that kid at sleep-away camp.

LOL Monday

Sometimes I read things or see photos that legitimately make me laugh right out loud. This one was posted by a Facebook friend (and high school classmate) of mine. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did:

For all you single ladies who are in such a hurry to get married, here's a quick piece of Biblical advice: Ruth patiently waited for her mate Boaz. While waiting on YOUR Boaz, don't settle for ANY of his relatives: Brokeaz, Poaz, Lyinaz, Cheatinaz, Dumbaz, Cheapaz, Lockedupaz Goodfornothinaz, Lazyaz or Marriedaz and especially his third cousin Beatinyoaz. Wait on your Boaz & make sure he respects Yoaz!

I'm not sure who said it originally, but it really did make me LOL!