Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Bring on 2009!


I'm home! Just in time to ring in the New Year. I checked out of the hospital at 11:00 am yesterday, as it was not the place for me. The doctors and nurses were perfectly lovely, but there is no rest for the weary in a hospital bed and I couldn't wait to get home and sleep without interruption. 

All went well and I am happy to report that I am rid of my diseased uterus once and for all. The doctor said that it was abnormally large so you'd think my stomach would be abnormally flat, but, funny, how that is so not the case (not funny ha-ha). 

I am ready to say good-bye to 2008. Despite the lay off and the rotten uterus, 2008 was a great year. My family and I have great friends and a fabulous family and many, many blessings...how could it be anything but a good year? 

But that's not going to stop me from hoping for an even better one in 2009. First and foremost, I am wishing for a healthy 2009. One night in the hospital is a good reminder that if you have your health...you've got just about everything. 

And as long as I'm making wishes, a dream job for my husband tops this year's wish list. I know wherever he lands, his future employer will gain a tremendous asset, I just hope that he enjoys the job as much as they will enjoy him. And I certainly wouldn't turn down a job of my own, should one come my way. In fact, I think I'll just wish for a healthy economy and that will cover all of my friends and family who are looking for jobs. 

I'm not sure how I got on a wish list kick? A new year is about resolutions, not wishes. You can wish somebody a Happy New Year, but I don't think you can make a new year wish, can you? Hmm. Ok, well, let's talk resolutions. I could tell you that I'm going to lose weight, but that would be a lie. Same for the quit drinking resolution - it will never happen. Quit smoking is a good one, but I never have, nor will I ever, so that is kind of a lame one. Same with get organized...I could not be more organized. And I could vow to be a better person or volunteer more...but that's so trite. I'll let somebody else take that one. 

I think I'll vow to learn something new. Perhaps I'll learn to speak Spanish? And with that...I am off to take a pain pill and a nap. (how do you say that in Spanish?)

Prospero Ano Nuevo!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Happy New Year!


I received a lot of e-mails telling me that I was a Scrooge for packing up Christmas early this year. You know what I say to that? Bah humbug. 

Not everybody disagreed; a good friend of mine called to say that her tree was on the curb by 8 am on the 26th. She admitted that if it weren't totally rude, she would have been taking down the ornaments while family opened their gifts on Christmas morning. She's a girl after my own heart. We have better things to do than sit around and wallow in the 12 days of Christmas. 

Take for instance the hysterectomy that I have scheduled for Monday, December 29th. Ideally, I would have rather had the surgery in the 1st quarter of 2009, but with insurance being somewhat of an unknown, I've decided to strike while the iron is hot and have my uterus removed before the end of the year. Granted, I would rather have a tummy tuck or a nose job or a breast lift, but unfortunately my stomach, nose and boobs are not threatening to fall off, as is my uterus, so, the squeaky wheel gets the oil. (Have I shared too much?)

My plan is to be home to ring in the New Year on the 31st (because I'm confident that it's going to be a good year and I don't want to miss the celebration). The doctor cautions that it may require two nights in the hospital, but he doesn't know how determined I am. So while he says one or two nights in the hospital...I say one and while he prescribes a six week recovery...I say three. Tops. (To his defense, he knows not of Doctors Without Degrees.)

I do plan on taking it easy in January (at least part of the month). I have several books on my bedside table that I cannot wait to devour. Santa brought me The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging, so hopefully, I'll hone my blogging "skills" while recuperating. And he brought my daughter the complete DVD set of The Gilmore Girls, so surely I will be getting reacquainted with Loralai and Rory. And then there's always People Magazine (which takes me all of 6 minutes to read from cover to cover.)

I am looking forward to hibernating for a few weeks. It will be great having my husband around and at my beck and call! (Watch...he'll land a job the first week of January and leave me high and dry.) (I should be so lucky.) I will gladly relinquish the shopping, cleaning, meal preparation and carpooling for awhile. He can have at it without any input or instruction from me. (well, maybe just a little). 

I'll tell you what I will miss....my daily workouts at the YMCA. In fact, it's what I fear most: the anesthesia, going under a knife, the threat of menopause....they don't scare me in the least...but the thought of not exercising gives me heart palpitations. Not to mention, I will miss my work out buddies immensely. Maybe they can all get together and work out on my front lawn while I gaze longingly through my bedroom window. 

So, y'all enjoy your depressing Christmas decorations. I have lots to do today to ready myself for hibernation. I need to get to Harris Teeter and stock my pantry with Progresso soups: pea, lentil, tomato. I know that there is a long tradition of chicken soup being good for what ails you, but I think any soup does the trick. I plan on sipping a lot of it over the next couple of weeks and in no time...I'll be feeling super!

If I don't update before the 1st...here's wishing you and yours the happiest of New Years! I have a feeling that 2009 is going to be one of the best on record....

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Putting Away Christmas


I just got done putting Christmas away. Most of it, anyway. 

All the ornaments and the decorations are back in their respective boxes in the attic. The tree still stands, but only with lights and an angel on top. Outside, the bushes still think it's Christmas and will continue to glow until my husband removes the strands of lights and the timer that controls them. (I don't do lights. I don't put 'em up, and I certainly don't take 'em down.) All the gifts are in drawers, closets or in the playroom. There are no signs of wrapping paper, boxes, or bags and the stockings no longer hang by the chimney with care. 

We had a lovely Christmas Eve and a fabulous Christmas day. Santa came with a vengeance despite the recession and our employment status (or lack thereof). In fact, the whole season was magical. But all good things must come to an end, and quite frankly, I find it depressing as hell to look at Christmas decorations after Christmas. Last night as we pulled into our driveway, John Lennon was singing "another year over and a new one just begun..." and I thought it was a very fitting carol as I refuse to listen to even one more Christmas song this holiday season. 

I was talking to a friend on the phone while taking down the ornaments when she asked, "are the kids sad that you are taking down the tree so early?" to which I replied, "Um, well, to be honest with you..they are not aware that I am dismantling Christmas. They're upstairs on the 3rd floor Wii skiing and my guess is that as long as I don't make them help, they will be fine with it. In fact, I'll be surprised if they notice." 

My husband was a little surprised when he walked into the living room and saw what I was doing, but he got over it. We usually keep the decorations up until New Year's day, but this year I have different plans for New Year's day. Besides, it's bad luck to have the tree and all the trimmings up past the 12th day of Christmas and I always like to get a jump on things. I know that my gnome and the Wise Men have my back, but I'm still a sucker for superstition and don't want to tempt fate. 

Not sure when my husband will get around to taking down the lights and hauling out the tree, but I really don't care because my work is done. Well, almost, I have a few dozen more cookies to inhale before January 1st arrives and the diet begins. But I am confident that I can pull that off without a problem...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


And so this is Christmas. 

In a few short hours we'll get together with neighbors and line the streets with decorative luminaries. We'll light them tonight and the whole neighborhood will take on a magical look and feel. 

After that, I still have one more killer workout to do at the Y with my Y-friends and then I'll be ready to thoroughly enjoy tonight's meal and every single cookie that comes my way. I've got a few finishing touches left to do around the kitchen and some silverware to polish. There are one or two more gifts that have to be delivered to friends and neighbors. I'm sure there is one more load of laundry calling my name (although I'm trying desperately to ignore it). But that's it...once those chores are done...I'm going to get dressed in all my finery and pour myself some eggnog. 

Before I know it, Santa will be heading down my street on the neighborhood fire truck throwing candy and ho-ho-ho's as neighbors come out of their warm homes to greet one another (and gather up the treats). I'm looking forward to it. It's the most wonderful time of the year. And I plan on enjoying every minute of it. 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Facing Facts


Maybe it's because I'm too damn old to be on Facebook, but for the life of me, I just don't get it. At all. I joined the social network awhile ago, but have not thrown myself into it whole heartedly like some folks (who are undoubtedly 20 years my junior). 

I'll admit that it has been fun reconnecting with old high school friends and acquaintances. But there is something so very odd about asking someone to be my friend and then waiting for an e-mail confirmation to see if I've made the cut. Updating my status and my profile picture just doesn't come naturally to me. Do people really care what I'm doing at any given moment of the day? (Do not answer that question.)

I prefer making friends the old fashioned way; I earn them. Before Facebook, I found comfort in knowing that I would never again have to cross paths with the mean girl from 6th grade. Now I'm just asking for it. What if she finds me and sends a request to be my friend? Do I accept her? Ignore her? Or do I say no? Who am I kidding, she would never want to be my friend. 

From what I can gather, to be a good Facebooker, one must be a bit narcissistic and somewhat of an exhibitionist (kind of like a blogger, but not). Not to mention the fact that I feel like a peeping Tom reading about about my "friends" and viewing their photos. 

You know that I am a huge fan of People Magazine, right? Love the photos of the stars. And yes, I've admitted to quoting People like others quote the bible. Well, I think Facebook is sort of like People Magazine for lay people. Well, no, not really because People Magazine is the cream of the crop. It's more like Us Magazine or maybe even the Inquirer. Yes, that's it...People Magazine is to the stars, as The National Inquirer is to ordinary folk. 

I know a lot of people out there love Facebook, dare I say are addicted to it, but I prefer blogging as my preferred method of electronic connection. I hope I have not offended those of you who love the social network tool. And I had better not read that "so-and-so and Laurie are no longer friends" the next time I log on to Facebook. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

And so this is Christmas...


It's not officially Christmas until you have a sick kid. And so now, it's officially Christmas. 

I am one of five girls and while I have wonderful memories of Christmases in New Jersey with my sisters, I also have memories of one of us, or two of us, or all of us...being sick. If you pull out my childhood photo albums, you will find black and white photos taken on Christmas morning that capture the smiles of 4 little girls surrounded by dolls and Easy Bake Ovens and Barbies and baby strollers and loads of wrapping paper and....one sick little girl looming in the background on the couch with a strained smile and a bright red face on account of her raging fever. And it wasn't always the kids; I remember one year my father going to the hospital on Christmas Eve to have his appendix removed. Good times. 

I thought we were all set last week when my daughter had a bad cold and an ear infection. But a real Christmas illness involves more drama like a trip to the emergency room for breathing problems. Ours came in the form of some serious projectile puking when my son was stricken in the middle of the night. Of course, since he was asleep, it happened in his bed (as opposed to over the toilet). I think he's better now. Although, I don't know for sure because I went to bed at 5:30 last night. I, too, have been afflicted. It's now 2:57 am and I feel much better, so I'm assuming my son is on the mend, as well. 

Poor little guy. When he came home from school he showed no signs of illness. Isn't that the way it always is? One minute he's bouncing off the wall, the next minute he's hitting the wall. Hard. And while I'm holding him up over the toilet (I know, this is more graphic than you want or need) I keep thinking about how fired up he was just a few hours earlier. 

He came leaping off of the school bus announcing that his team won the Christmas trivia contest at school. In fact, he carried his team and was dubbed their "secret weapon". The King of Christmas Movie Trivia. It makes a mother proud to know that her son is a walking Guinness Book of Useless Movie Trivia. Do you know the name of the coach of the Reindeer Games in the movie Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer? No, I bet you don't, but my son knew it was Comet. And what about the name of the rabbit in the Frosty the Snowman movie? Yup, he knew Hocus Pocus, as well. Not only did he know that Ebeneezer was Mr. Scrooge's first name, he also knew that Jacob Marley was his dead business partner. Apparently his team wanted to go with "carrot" as the answer to "What was Frosty the Snowman's nose made out of?" He had to sing them the song to convince them that it was a button. I think that's the question that earned him the title of Secret Weapon. He's good, he's damn good. 

But it isn't his useless movie trivia that impresses me most. It's his understanding of his mother that makes me the proudest. When we got home from the bus, he unpacked his enormous backpack. He put his homework in a pile, he emptied his lunchbox and he gathered up all of the Christmas projects and artwork that he had been working on in school for the past few weeks. Then he handed me the pile and said, "This is all ready for the recycle bin, Mom." Now most mothers would hang on to the artwork and get all sentimental over the letter to Santa, but not me. I am a no-clutter kind of gal. I am not opposed to framing a nice piece of child's art, in fact, my kitchen is covered with my children's masterpieces. But most of the stuff they bring home goes directly into the recycle bin. And I love that he knows that about me. 

Hopefully, he'll be fully recovered when he wakes up in 3 hours. He missed his Christmas party at school yesterday and was very upset. Today is the Holiday Sing and he doesn't want to miss the opportunity to sing about his knowledge of Frosty and Rudolph. Surely, he'll come home with a few more items for the recycle bin. 

I just hope he leaves the Christmas germs at school...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Good Luck


I'm not sure how it came about and if it really is a legitimate superstition (or just something that my mother and I made up) but ever year, for as long as I can remember, my mother sends me a Christmas card of the three wise men and I hang it on the inside of my front door. It's supposed to bring good luck and good health. Maybe it's just supposed to bring good health, I'm not really sure of the specifics. All I can tell you is that the card is pinned to my front door for a year until it's replacement arrives the following December with another dose of good luck or good health or good fortune. Goodness in general; let's just say that the card brings lots of goodness in general and leave it at that.

Like clockwork, the three wise men arrived in the mail last week. "Did the three wise guys arrive yet, Love?" my mother asked when I spoke to her the other day. "Yes, indeed, " I told her, "bring on the good luck!" We both can breath a little easier knowing that goodness is on it's way. And we're hoping for goodness in the form of a job, rather than goodness in the form of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

And as if that wasn't good enough, a good friend of mine bought me a gnome for Christmas this year. Did you know that according to Old German lore, the gnome is a good luck charm? They are a symbol that the forces of nature are on your side. According to legend, gnomes help with chores around the house like sweeping the barn and feeding the chickens. Neither of which I need a lot of help with at the moment, but I could use an extra hand loading the dishwasher. Yet, I don't want to use up all of my good luck on household chores. I'd rather the little fella work with the forces of nature that create job opportunities. 

I need to find a place for my gnome in my home. Should he be in the same room as the three wise men? Or should I spread the luck throughout the house? My friend seems to think that I need to keep moving the gnome from room to room. She also suggested that if he is indeed magical, he might just move himself. Hmm. I may have to research the best possible feng shui use of gnomes and wise men. Regardless, I feel that good things are brewing...

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Favorite Gift


Yesterday was my birthday, and in keeping with the philosophy of putting my head in the sand, my BFF kept up the tradition of presenting me with a subscription to People Magazine. I believe it's the 5th year receiving the gift and I'm happy to report that it remains my all-time favorite. It never grows old (unlike me). 

My head has officially entered hibernation. I'm ready to hunker down with a stack of mindless magazines and a glass of eggnog. I will not reemerge until early January. Hopefully, by that time the stock market will be ready to do some serious climbing and Oprah will have slimfasted her way back to her fighting weight. 

My husband also gave me a great birthday gift. (no, he did not find a job.) He made me a beautiful card and wrote a sweet poem: Roses are red, Violets are blog, I'll get you a gift, When I get a job. And I thought I was the one in the family with all the talent? Wrong, again. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ignorance is Bliss


Apparently the recession is to blame for American Idol not giving back this season. 

Word on the street is that the show has decided to do away with its "Idol Gives Back" charity special. I suppose it seems like a rational response to the worst economic crisis that this country has experienced since the Great Depression. Frequent readers of this blog know that "Idol Gives Back" is my least favorite week of the Idol season (that's putting it mildly), so I'm somewhat relieved. But I can't help but think that there will be more people this year who need help than ever before. I could almost stomach the schmaltz and drama that comes with the absurd production that is Idol Gives Back. But apparently I won't be subjected this year. And it almost makes me sad. (almost.)

The economic news goes from bad to worse with each passing day. It's overwhelming and it seems as if there is nothing I can do about it. But maybe I can? I've decided that I'm going to put my head in the sand and leave it there throughout the holiday season. I'll take it back out on New Year's day. But between now and then I will remain blissfully unaware of what is happening in Detroit and on Wall Street and in uptown Charlotte. 

I saw a cartoon in the paper today that summed it up quite nicely for me...a man sitting on a couch reading a newspaper while his wife stands behind him yelling, "Who cares about Detroit cars, I want to hear 'bout Oprah's weight!" Me, too. Skip the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nikay Index. I don't want to hear how much the stock market is down or even up in a given day. Spare me the unemployment figures and the housing starts, the only number I want reported is the one Oprah sees when she steps on a scale. And quite honestly, I don't care if it goes up or down. (but if I were a betting girl, I'd put my money on "up".)

Ignorance is bliss...and I plan on being blissful this holiday season. Won't you join me...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Weighing the Pros and Cons


Most people who hear that my husband was laid off immediately ask if we will relocate. Ideally, we'd like to stay in Charlotte. But we have grown accustom to eating and turning on the lights and so, I suppose, if faced with the choice, we'd opt for relocation (or maybe a long commute). 

I have to be honest with you, on one hand, the thought of a fresh start in new surroundings is a bit exciting. Think about it - nobody would know me - I could reinvent myself. I could dye my hair blonde. Or I wouldn't have to dye my hair: I could go to the grocery store as the brunette that I am and be incognito. I could wake up, throw on a pair of sweatpants and walk over to Starbucks for coffee. Wait, a minute, cross that off of the list; I do that now. But, if I were in a town where nobody knew me, I wouldn't feel like a complete loser. Right? I mean, if a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it - does it make a sound? Same theory. 

On the other hand, it doesn't sound exciting at all. I barely like the people I've known for years, the thought of making new friends is just plain overwhelming. I'm kidding, of course I like y'all (most of you, anyway). When I was young, making friends came easy. Now that I am old, it seems that everything, including making friends, is a chore. I guess what I'm saying is...being lovely doesn't come naturally for me anymore. Who knew? 

I moved to Charlotte in 1987, for all intents and purposes...I am a native. Not to mention that my parents relocated here, as did three of my four sisters. Charlotte is our family's hub. And my BFF of 20 years lives a few minutes away. I love my neighborhood and the climate and our school and my friends and the YMCA and just about everything else in my world. So why would I want to leave? I wouldn't. 

But let's pretend that my husband is offered the opportunity of a lifetime somewhere else? Somewhere more than 3 hours away (because, really, anything under 3 hours is still a manageable commute). Well, truth be told, I'd stand by my man and encourage him to seize the day. Where he leads, I will follow because a good opportunity for him is a good opportunity for our family. 

And hopefully I'll have it in me to be lovely for a few more years...

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Blog, Therefore I am


A friend of mine called this morning to ask how my weekend was and wondered if we'd put up our tree. "Um, apparently you haven't been reading my blog?" I snapped, "Because if you had, you would have known that the tree went up last weekend, thank you very much." 

"What is up with you blogging, anyway?" she asked, "And what makes you think that you are so fascinating that people are going to want to read about your experiences?" I know, I know, with friends like that, who needs enemies? But she really is hysterical; I keep her around because she makes me laugh (not because she's supportive and sweet.)

But I totally get where she is coming from and understand that some people don't get the blogging business. For me, it's therapy. My keyboard is the place I go to think, plan and reflect. It often surprises me what comes out when I let my fingers take over. My friend really is a bitch. (Like that sentence, for instance, I have no idea where that just came from? Totally surprised me. Took me off-guard. Wow.) 

Being a blogger is a bit like being an internet exhibitionist, I suppose. But it's good, clean fun. And the e-mails and comments that I receive about my posts inspire me to write more. Hopefully, I am lending a little humor to an otherwise tragic situation. 

Bottom line: I enjoy writing.  And I guess I'm a bit narcissistic because if I didn't care about people reading my posts, I suppose I'd just send myself e-mails or open a Word document and have at it. I guess I'd rather write than watch TV or talk to my "friend" on the phone. (Again, I have no idea where those quotes around the word "friend" came from? My fingers typed them before I could even form a complete thought. I guess I don't really consider her a friend? Truly a surprise. Whoa.) 

There are about 100 million blogs out there and I'm sure that if you asked the writers what inspires them, they would say that it's fun, or they do it to express themselves, or to connect with others, or to give advice or educate. But me? As I told my friend, she hit the nail on the head. I blog because I am fascinating. And then she promptly told me to get over my badself. 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Spaving 101


In an attempt to keep expenses down, we've stopped going out for dinner. Not that we ate out every night, but, if I'm being perfectly honest, I'd have to admit that I rarely, if ever, cooked on a Friday or Saturday night. That is not to imply that we were dining at five-star restaurants several times a month, but we were certainly no strangers to take-out. But I've put an end to that tomfoolery.

And so now it seems that my dishwasher runs constantly. And I pretty much live at the grocery store. In fact, this past week, the check-out girl at my local Harris Teeter (I know, I know, there are less expensive places to shop) gave me a standing ovation for saving $60 on my grocery bill. Not really saving, but rather "spaving" (which means the more you spend, the more you save). It sounds like twisted mathematics to the layperson, but those of us in the know understand the secret behind spaving. That is, to purchase something (ideally an item that you need) at a reduced price, in bulk quantities.

Having my husband around comes in handy when it comes to preparing all of these additional meals. Because, again, if I am being perfectly honest, I'd have to admit that he's a far better cook than I. Tonight he made ribs (which I purchased on special this week - buy one, get one free) that were beyond scrumptious.

He boiled them in a special secret sauce that included lots of beer and brown sugar and then finished them on the grill to crispy perfection. I felt a little bit like Fred Flintstone when he brought them to the table (which reminds me, I have some freezer burned chop meat that I can turn into brontosaurus burgers later this week. Wilma would be impressed.)

The ribs were a huge hit with my son and husband, but my near-vegetarian, finicky daughter just about dry heaved as she choked down a few bites. She cannot tolerate the leanest of meats, much less a fatty piece of pork coated in a thick, sugary glaze. Luckily, my contribution to the meal was mashed potatoes and so she made a meal out of our starchy side item.

Unfortunately for my daughter, since the ribs were a BOGOF special, they will show up one more time before the year is out. Perhaps "we'll" make them again when she has dinner plans elsewhere and we'll invite the Rubbles.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Spirit


Even during the best of times, it takes me awhile to feel the Christmas spirit. I figured this year was going to take me longer than most to get there. So I'm doing everything that I possibly can to jump start that Christmas feeling. 

Our tree has been up for almost a week. We've hung wreaths on our doors and stockings on our mantle. We've strung garland on our front porch and colored lights on the bushes. We've made our family's traditional sugar cookies and decorated them while listening to Christmas carols. Our cards are not only written, but mailed. My shopping is done and there are wrapped packages in the attic. Holiday invitations arrive almost daily in the mail. And still...no sign of the spirit. 

I am not a total Grinch. Believe me, I realize that Christmas comes without ribbons, and it comes without tags, it comes without packages, boxes and bags. I totally get that it doesn't come from a store or from an oven or via e-mail....or does it?

I have a confession: while I'm happy to buy a gift for a teacher, a coach or bus driver, I must admit that sometimes I get more satisfaction from crossing it off of my to-do list, than I do from the actual act of giving. So when an e-mail arrived the other day from a neighbor saying that she was trying to arrange a neighborhood gift for our postman, I immediately sent her one back saying that I was in, and then promptly added it to my to-do list. (And was looking forward to getting it off of my to-do list.)

I am the keeper of our neighborhood network (which is basically a collection of neighbor's e-mail addresses) so I offered to forward her e-mail to the rest of the neighbors on the street. Those who were interested, the e-mail stated, were to place a holiday greeting or envelope in their mailbox marked for our postman on December 19th. The note went on to say that he is a great postman, a wonderful person and always brightens our day; wouldn't it be nice if we could all pick the same day to let him know how much he is appreciated.

Within an hour my inbox was filled with notes from neighbors expressing their joy at this simple gesture. "He is such a lovely man and what a beautiful surprise this will be for him." wrote one neighbor. "Can you imagine an envelope in the majority of mailboxes for HIM!" wrote another. And from another neighbor came, "For some reason this e-mail made me choke up. He is our favorite postman of all time and we love him dearly. I am so touched that everyone else feels the same way. This is what Christmas is all about." 

Maybe, just maybe, my small heart grew three sizes that day? And the minute my heart didn't feel quite so tight...the spirit of Christmas finally felt right! Perhaps I had to spread a little of the spirit before I could actually feel it? Regardless, I think I'm more excited about December 19th than I am about December 25th...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Comfort over Style


My husband had a video-conference scheduled this afternoon with an out of town recruiter. I had no doubt that he would impress them with his knowledge and skills. And while I couldn't help him sell his experience, I could (and would) help him with his appearance. 

He tried on one of those great new shirts that we bought yesterday at the mall and it fit like a glove. It was tapered and slim fitting with clean lines. (Just like something Justin Timberlake would wear to an interview.) But he opted to go with a basic blue, button-down oxford citing comfort as the main reason. Since when do we go with comfort over style and fashion?

He tried to convince me that it didn't matter what he wore because this was a recruiter, not a potential employer. And then he added, "Besides, it's a video-conference, the resolution isn't going to good enough for them to be able to see me." Spoken like a true engineer. I had to remind him that the reason it was a video conference and not your basic phone call was because the recruiter wanted to check him out and make sure that he didn't have a third eye or a weird facial tic. "Of course they are going to be checking you out! And every recruiter is crazy about a sharp dressed man." And so he agreed to wear the new camel hair blazer that we bought for "business casual" meetings. 

So imagine my surprise when I arrived home to find him still at the meeting and the camel hair coat on my bed. Later, when he got home I immediately asked how it went followed by, "And more importantly, why aren't you sporting the blazer?" Yup, he opted not to wear it. But, as luck would have it, the video conference room was far too hot to be wearing layers. Again, I ask, I implore...since when do we chose comfort over style and fashion?

He assured me that all went well and that he wooed them with his knowledge and skills. He appeared very confident and impressed with his performance. So I breathed a sigh of relief.

Luckily, he had that third eye removed last year, or it could have been a disaster. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Dapper Dan


We spent a few hours at the mall today doing our part for the economy. Y'all are very welcome.

We went interview suit shopping and came home with a beaut. Well, we came home with part of a beaut; the pants have to be hemmed and creased and whatnot. Initially, the salesman told us that the pants would be ready on December 19th. Two and half weeks to get a pair of pants hemmed? Leads me to believe that the demand is greater than the supply. I'm not an economist, but that smells like a job opportunity for somebody. (Not me. Somebody else. It would take me two and a half years to hem a pair of pants.)

So Jim told the salesman that December 19th would not do - he needed them sooner. I shot him a look that said, "Are you going to a wedding that I don't know about?" and he shot one back that said, "Hey, you never know when I might have an interview." Love that about him. Always the optimist. Always looking at the glass half full, while I chug whatever is in the glass and then spew my cynical views. So the pants will be ready next week. 

And then we picked out a couple of new shirts and ties. And we bought a pair of shiny, black shoes. And we purchased some new socks. And by George, I think he's ready! Bring on the interviews...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Different Kind of Welcome Wagon


Believe it or not, that pit in my stomach that was the size of the Grand Canyon actually stopped gnawing at my insides for awhile. I managed to get through several days without feeling like I was going to hurl. And then, just when I thought it was safe to start breathing normally again, the pit returned. With a vengeance. It really is like riding a roller coaster; one minute I am cautiously optimistic and the next, my stomach is doing somersaults and I begin to imagine the bottom falling out. 

I'm not sure what triggered the return of the pit. It may have been this morning's headline that confirmed that we are officially in recession. In fact, we may just be in the midst of the longest slump in the post-World War II era. Job losses are mounting and credit is drying up. Good times. 

I need to put on my entrepreneur hat and get creative. So, times are tough, how can I capitalize on that fact? What will there be a market for in the coming year? Stress management. That's the ticket, my friends. I can tell you firsthand that people are going to need help putting a lid on the stress. 

And I have just what the doctor ordered...

Do you remember the Welcome Wagon? When I was a kid, a "hostess" (a woman who was friendly and knowledgeable about her neighborhood) from the Welcome Wagon would show up at the door of a new homeowner and deliver baskets of gifts supplied by local businesses. And over a cup of coffee, the hostess would tell the new home buyer all about the 'hood. 

My goal is to embody this same spirit of warm hospitality, but here's my twist...instead of the new homeowner, you have the newly unemployed and instead of the hostess - you have me! So let's say your friend or your neighbor or your sister gets laid off, well, you call me and for a price I show up at your loved one's door and deliver the goods. But instead of coupons for local restaurants, I provide therapy (and maybe some muffins). 

I know what you're thinking...I am not qualified to be a therapist. But that's where you're wrong. I have always fancied myself a doctor. And psychology just happens to be my specialty. Surely you've heard of Doctors Without Borders? Well I am going to start a group called Doctors Without Degrees. They will be similar in the sense that both organizations are committed to bringing quality medical care to people caught in crisis regardless of race, religion or political affiliation. But different in the sense that the members of Doctors Without Borders have been schooled and trained and I was simply born with a gift. So why not put the gift to good use, right?

I'll show up offering tips and insights and I'll have my listening ears on, for sure. We'll laugh, we'll cry (perhaps have a cocktail) and we'll get through it. I know all about pits in the stomach and roller coaster rides and I'm ready to lend a helping hand. For a price. 

I have an idea, now I need a business plan. 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Oh Christmas Tree!


Those of you who subscribe to my blog via e-mail had some old entries delivered to your in-box yesterday. Sorry about that, I bet you thought I was losing my mind. Not a chance; I simply changed the look of my blog and I suppose that triggered some sort of malfunction. Really, I have no idea what happened. I'm sure that my friend, Peter, would say that it was caused by "user error" which is code for: you screwed up. But rest assured that is not the case, as I am never at fault. 

I'm happy to report that our Christmas tree is up and decorated and all is merry and bright! It's the earliest we've ever put up our tree (which is one of the benefits of having my husband home for the holidays). The Grinch thought he could stop Christmas from coming this year, but he was sadly mistaken. 

So, we had plans to get the tree first thing in the morning, but we awoke to the first significant rainfall in three months. At the first sign that it was letting up, we put on our coats and our smiles and made a bee line for the minivan and headed over to the Christmas tree lot. And on the way over, as luck would have it, it started raining like the hammers of hell. The kids immediately began moaning and groaning, but I told them to channel some of that Christmas magic and make believe it was snow (as I cursed under my breath). We waded through puddles the size of small oceans, but we pretended that we were traversing fluffy mounds of snow. Just like a picture print from Currier and Ives. That is, until Beck submerged his entire foot in a freezing puddle...and then, sadly, the fun was over. 

It's usually quite an ordeal to get my family to agree on a tree. There have been years where we stood in that lot for almost an hour arguing about the height, width, color and firmness of the branches. It usually comes down to me maneuvering for a manageable size tree (ideally I like the Charlie Brown variety) and the three of them pushing for a tree that would rival the one at Rockefeller Center. We usually meet somewhere in the middle (because I'm the first one to cry uncle.)

But this year, thanks in part to Mother Nature's foul mood (and Beck's soaking wet foot), the second tree I suggested received a unanimous round of ayes. Within ten minutes of arriving, we had that thing strapped to our minivan and were hightailing it out of the parking lot and back to our warm, dry house. Now granted, when we got it home and decorated, the tree looked more like a snowman than a Christmas tree, but that's neither here nor there. Who said the bottom of a Christmas tree has to be wider than the top? Probably the Grinch; but again, he was sadly mistaken.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The New Norm

We have a new norm at our house. 

During the week, my husband wakes up and showers while the kids get ready for school. I make lunches and beds and run around like a crazy woman shouting orders (and the occasional obscenity). Then we all assemble in the kitchen for breakfast before Jim takes the kids to the bus, just as he has done every day for years. 

The difference now is that instead of going to work directly from the bus stop, he comes home. And instead of wearing a pair of pressed khakis and a button down shirt, he is sporting a pair of worn jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt. We've settled into this new routine rather nicely. And nobody, except for my dry cleaner, seems to miss the old gig. It's the new norm. (and the dry cleaner will have to get used to it).

One day last week, Jim had an early morning meeting and so instead of dressing like Weekend Warrior Jim, he dressed like the Jim of (not so) long ago in a nice pair of pressed brown slacks and a light blue button-down. I knew where he was going, in fact, I put my stamp of approval on the outfit, (another of my morning duties) but my daughter didn't know that he had a meeting to attend. 

I was in the hall when she approached me with those enormous eyes of hers that can get as big as saucers when she hears or sees something that she shouldn't hear or see. That morning, her eyes were the size of dinner plates. She came very close and leaned up against me with her back turned toward my bedroom door where Jim was putting the finishing touches on his (smashing) outfit and whispered, "Um, Mom, why is Dad getting dressed for work?" I glanced over at Jim and then back to her and knew immediately what she was trying to say: "My father is losing his mind and has forgotten that he is unemployed. Do something." She's seen this type of bizarre behavior in movies and read about it in books, but now she thinks she's living it first hand. 

To be honest, she might have expected something like this from her mother, but certainly not from her father who has always been of sound mind and body. It must have been unnerving to watch her one sane parent, the guy that she can always count on, well, slipping a bit. But maybe I'm being overly dramatic. Maybe she was just being optimistic and thought that he had landed a new job over the weekend. (and we failed to mention it to her?) Either way, somebody had some explaining to do and that somebody was me.

After I stopped laughing hysterically, I assured her that he was not losing his mind, he simply had an early morning meeting and was dressing the part. Period. She took a deep breath and I watched the color come back to her cheeks and her eyes return to their normal size. 

Hopefully, those pressed khakis and button-down oxford shirts will be making their way out of the closet more and more often over the next couple of weeks. And then, we'll have another norm to contend with at our house. I anxiously await that day (as does my dry cleaner.)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Move Over Harry Potter...

Apparently a lot of people are asking my husband if I work outside of the home. Or if I have any plans of finding work outside of the home. No and yes, respectively.

Before the layoff, I was a Trophy Wife whose duties included managing domestic operations at the Reid residence. But before I wore that crown, I did work outside of the home and will gladly return if that's what's best for my family. 

So what would I do? Would I return to sales? Or would I go back a little further to my marketing roots? Or perhaps finally put my B.S. in Accountancy to good use and manage somebody's books? To be perfectly honest, none of those things really appeal to me. But, I would love to write a book.

I told my husband that if I put my mind to it, perhaps I could write a NY Times best seller and then he could forget about a job search. He was quick to point out that very few authors are millionaires, but he did say that if I followed in the footsteps of J.K. Rowling, we'd be all set. 

The only problem is, I don't have a very good imagination. I could never come up with a character like Harry Potter. My forte is simply observing my surroundings and then writing about it from my point of view. If I were to write a book, it wouldn't really be about anything in particular. Seinfeld was the "show about nothing"; my book would be the "book about nothing." 

But perhaps I could turn this blog into a book. In a few months, I'll have plenty of good material. And if I can get my husband to put a science fiction spin on his job search, I could easily write about it. If he plays his cards right, he could be the next Harry Potter, and I, the next J.K. Rowling. 

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Elephant in the Room

There is an elephant in the room. 

Not everybody who learns that we are the latest victims of the economic downturn is comfortable talking about it, much less acknowledging it. Instead, they do this awkward dance to avoid the topic. They concern themselves with relatively small and irrelevant matters instead of addressing the big looming one...the lay off. And in the process, it becomes much bigger than it actually is. 

So I'm doing a public service announcement: don't be afraid to talk about it. Repeat after me...sorry to hear about the job, good luck finding a new one. Done. You don't have to fix the situation, simply acknowledge it. We promise not to drag you into an ugly "life sucks" conversation. Getting laid off is certainly not the worst thing that has happened to us; we are looking at it as a doorway to new opportunities. (How about me getting all Dr Phil-like, huh?). End of public service announcement.

I will add that most people have gone above and beyond the call of friendship duty. Last week a friend showed up at our door with homemade chicken soup. It warmed our hearts and warmed our tummies. That same day my sister (who does not cook) whipped up a batch of muffins and delivered them fresh from the oven. We've received cards and calls and e-mails...suffice it to say, my husband is feeling the love. 

And then there's me who can't seem to walk into the house without shouting up the stairs, "Hey honey, I'm home...any job offers?" And each time I do it, I get a chuckle out of him. Swear. I always tell him he's lucky that I'm so funny, but the truth of the matter is, I'm lucky that he's such an easy audience. 

Sure, there might come a day when he throws a shoe down the stairs or throws me down the stairs, but until that happens, we're going to continue to talk about it and laugh about it (and occasionally cry about it). But please, don't be afraid to join us...we don't bite. 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Keeping the Stress in Check

People keep asking me how the kids are doing.

They are doing just fine. I mean, it's not as if we've stopped feeding them 3 meals a day or moved them up to the attic so we can can take in borders. I've seen Kit Kittridge: An American Girl Movie, but I promise we're not making our kids sell eggs to help pay the bills. 

But I realize that this is a tremendous change in our lives and a crisis like this can be very stressful. So far, my husband and I are keeping the stress to ourselves and not sharing it with the kids.

I know the experts would tell me that I can't hide stress from my kids; that they are more perceptive than I'd like to admit. And while my (unbelievably brilliant and very perceptive) kids might not be able to grasp issues surrounding the current economic meltdown (most adults I know can't either), surely they are receiving messages from the media and at school and quite possibly from their killjoy mother that things are bad. Luckily for me (and my kids) I fancy myself an expert on practically everything and so I am not afraid of what the other "experts" are saying because I always know best. My kids are fine. 

Proof: The other day I got an e-mail from a friend whose son is in my son's class. She reported that her son came home from school and told her that Beck's dad lost his job, but he got an iPhone out of the deal. See that? As Bing Crosby used to sing, you've got to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. Who needs a job when you've got an iPhone, folks? My kids were never remotely interested in what their father did for a living, but now that he's got that iPhone he's king of the castle. 

Another friend reports that her son asked if the Reids were going to have to live on the streets. She assured him that the Reids would not be homeless. (I hope she went a little further and added, "If worst comes to worst, honey, the Reids will move in with us and Mrs. Reid will take over your bedroom.") But she didn't mention that for sure. Hmm.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

When Opportunity Knocks

So my husband keeps telling me that I need to look at this layoff as an opportunity; a new lease on life. Not sure where he got his rose colored glasses, but I'm asking for a pair for Christmas. 

I'm trying. Really and truly, I am. I'm trying to see this not so much as an opportunity, because quite frankly, I liked the opportunity that came with him being employed. But I'm trying to see it more like a New Year's resolution or a lifestyle change. We're not down and out (yet) but I'm trying to change some habits while I'm still in the mood to count my blessings. We don't need to go out to see a movie; we have each other. We don't need to exchange Christmas gifts; we have our health. We don't need to eat out; we are happiest at home with our family.

I suppose the most popular resolutions are to lose weight, quit smoking, pay off debts, get a better job. And they all sound great, especially the last one, but I'm going to start small. My goal will be to use all the food in my freezer before putting another item in there. It will keep me focused and it will save us money. 

So while my husband works his butt off trying to find a job, I will challenge myself to come up with new and interesting ways to serve freezer burned chopped meat. Sounds fair, no? Ok, I'll throw in the pantry to even things up. On my honor, I will not buy another canned good at Harris Teeter until I have used up all the cans that currently occupy my cupboards. Now that is more than fair. In fact, it may be easier to find a job in this economy then it is to come up with a recipe that calls for canned pears, artichoke hearts and tomato paste. But I am up for the challenge. And do you know why? Because this is an opportunity and I'm all about an opportunity...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Day Three and Counting

Still no job. 

Kidding! I am kidding. Really. And truly. Kidding. (kind of). 

But I'm happy to report that we are still laughing. And I'm not kidding about that. Which is good, because I have a pit in my stomach the size of the Grand Canyon and nothing seems to fill it. Not the cookies or the candy that I've been inhaling, not the wine or the gin we've been consuming...but the laughs do seem to help a bit. Even if they are at our own expense. Ok, mostly his expense. 

But I'm still trying to be very supportive. Yesterday I told my husband that I'm prepared to move anywhere for the right job. A few hours later he mentioned something about Akron, Ohio and I barely lifted my head to respond, "Umm, yeah, no can do, my friend...way too cold in Akron." But you know, it's easy to rule things out on day 3. When Duke Power cuts off our power, I may be singing a different tune. (Perhaps one by Chrissie Hynde about Going back to Ohio...) And, whoa, wait a cotton pickin' minute...did I just type "cuts off" our power? Because that is sooo very southern; nobody in Ohio "cuts off" the power. Yet another reason to stay put.

Confession #1: it's rather odd not having the house to myself during the day. 
(Yes, of course it's all about me. Duh?). 

Now, granted, my sweet husband has spent the vast majority of his time upstairs in the office updating his resume. And it's not as if I begrudge him coming out of the office for an occasional bite to eat or anything, but I'm just saying it's been a long time since I've passed anybody in these halls during the week. And, well, quite frankly it's going to take a little getting used to. I'm used to being alone. 

This morning I had some errands to run and as I walked out of the house, I hit the key pad to alarm the house. Of course I knew he was upstairs, I had just kissed him goodbye, but out of habit, I punched in the code before locking the door behind me. Luckily, I realized what I had done before I got outside or he might have had heart failure as soon as he moved and set off the alarm. Again, I will point out - I've got his back. Very supportive. 

But on the other hand, it's going to be awfully nice having him around for the holidays. Maybe we'll bake cookies together and go for long walks. Maybe we'll wrap Christmas presents together. Maybe we'll go to the movies one afternoon. And when I get in a pinch, it will be great to have him run the occasional carpool. And, well, help the kids with their math homework. And I'd love for him to take the car in for service next week (he loves cars). Ok, and maybe grill a steak for dinner every now and again. 

Still, I'd give anything for him to have his old life back. He's ever the optimist and believes there are great opportunities out there. I'll take my cue from him and continue to hope for the best. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

BTL

On Sunday, before the layoff, (BTL) when life was good and ignorance was bliss, my Norman Rockwell family and I set out to the park to take our annual Christmas card photo. 

Every year there is glitch (that's putting it mildly) with said photo shoot. In fact, there is really nothing remotely Norman Rockwell about it. You see, my son, who is normally a pretty easy going kid, turns into a crazed lunatic who refuses to cooperate, much less smile. And my husband, who is normally a pretty good photographer, forgets his flash or uses the wrong lens. 

One year, my son bit his sister during the photo shoot and the photographer managed to capture it beautifully on film. It was a gorgeous photo of my son looking all smug and my daughter holding up her bloody finger and crying her eyes out. Of course, as luck would have it, it was one of only two shots that he managed to capture beautifully that year. And I was tempted to use it as the winning photo with the caption, "Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Man..." but instead I managed to salvage a halfway decent shot of them where the teeth marks in my daughter's finger weren't visible to the naked eye. 

This year, in keeping with our holiday tradition, the photo shoot was a disaster. After twenty minutes of shooting and me doing cheerleading jumps behind the photographer to get my son to laugh, we didn't have a single, decent shot. Nada. Not one. The empty set. 

And that night after reviewing the photos, I had a melt down and called off the annual Christmas card. Nobody would be getting a card from the Reids this year. That's right, nobody. The hell with The Year Without a Santa Claus, this was going to be The Year Without a Christmas Card. That would show 'em. I'm sick of doing flips and stand up comedy behind the camera man only to come up empty handed. 

And then came the layoff and it put everything in perspective. Maybe I could find it in my heart to try again (especially now that the photographer has a lot of time on his hands). Why not spread a little holiday joy and let the world know that the Reids are going to be fine (especially with all the drinking they do over the holidays). 

I've always wanted to include one of those clever Christmas letters in my card. You know the letter of which I speak. Love it when people take the annual mass mailing of the Christmas card as their opportunity to broadcast their family's many talents and fascinating escapades. Love. That. Stuff. I eat it up.

And so this year, I'm doing it. But instead of waxing poetic about my wonderful kids and our family's extraordinary trips, I'm going to include my husband's resume. How's that for clever?

Be Careful of What You Wish For....

Be careful of what you wish for...

Just the other day I was thinking that I needed a new topic to blog about. Idol starts in 2 months and I need to warm up my blogging fingers. I was thinking that I needed something fresh, new and exciting to focus on before the Idols grace the big stage. And then yesterday my husband came home from work and informed me that it was his last day of work. And so the recession has become a depression around our house and like it or not...I have something new to blog about. 

Not sure I would necessarily put this in the "exciting" category, but it's certainly fresh and new, as in a fresh, new open wound. Ouch. We didn't see this one coming. And yes, to answer your question, I guess I may have been living in a bubble. I know these are hard times and I expected layoffs for my friends and neighbors who worked at Wachovia, but my husband didn't work at Wachovia and so I guess I felt we were safe. 

I'll be trite for a minute: yes, we have our health and we have savings and we have each other and a beautiful family and lots of great friends and for that we are most grateful. But it's never easy having the rug pulled out from underneath you, especially when the economy is going to hell in a hand-basket and Christmas is around the corner. But, I'm not sure there is ever really a good time to get slapped in the face; it always hurts. 

Hopefully it won't be all doom and gloom. While I have a tendency to see the glass half empty, my husband always sees it overflowing. While I'm the voice of doubt, he's the voice of reason. And while I am a bit of a killjoy at times (ok, that might be putting it mildly) I do have a pretty good sense of humor and, really, isn't laughter the best medicine?  

I list trophy wife as my current occupation; now more than ever I will have to step up to the plate and demonstrate to my husband that he has been awarded a prize. Hmm. That might be a bit of a stretch and a challenge. But I vow to be more supportive than ever. And I will try my very hardest to keep my sarcasm in check. And in the process, I'm sure I will have a lot of stories to share and blog about. It won't help pay the bills, but writing it down always seems to make me feel better. And really, folks, isn't it always about me?

It's 4 am and I am in front of my computer and I hear my husband's footsteps upstairs. Not sure what he's doing up there but I can't help but wonder...is this the new norm at our house? I don't think either of us slept a wink tonight, but at least we can both nap later today, right? See that? I'm already taking lemons and turning them into lemonade!

We'll be fine. We talked a little bit about it with the kids tonight and afterwards I asked my son if he was nervous. He looked at me, scrunched up his little face and said, "What is there to be nervous about?" Love that. He's like my very own Tiny Tim...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What's for Dinner?


I need some new dinner ideas. I'm tired of the same old pasta dishes and broiled salmon.

My sister sent me a crock pot recipe that calls for two ingredients: a chicken and a can of Molson beer. You put them in the crock pot and in a few hours...you have a yummy meal. Sadly, I will not be partaking as I do not, nor will I ever, own a crock pot. I hear they are great and those that have them, love them. But there is something just a little too Samantha Stevens about crock pots for me. I can just see Darin strutting through those louvre doors into the kitchen, lifting the cover of the crock pot and inhaling the aroma of the pot roast that Sam has had cooking all day while he has been slaving in the office with Mr. Tate.

So I made my first vegan meal last night. Tofu in an eggplant and spicy garlic sauce. I thought it was rather yummy, myself. Jim said it would have tasted better with chicken or pork (at least he didn't say steak and potatoes). Beck thought the tofu felt like scrambled eggs, but tasted like nothing. And Maddie? She sobbed. Seriously - sobbed. I kid you not. To say she is a finicky eater is putting it mildly. Sobbed. I don't think it was the taste buds acting alone; she's also got an abundance of hormones raging through her system and she's got a major head cold (which you would think might help her out in this case)...but sobbing? And through her sobs she demanded, "how do you expect me to eat this?" Whoa. I told her to get control of herself and grab an apple and some peanut butter.

So tonight I grilled some mango chicken sausages with baby yellow, orange and red peppers. I stayed away from the green variety as Jim informed me that they make him gassy. For those of you who don't know Jim, I am pretty sure that air and water make him gassy, so how he zeroed in on the green pepper is simply beyond me. But I heeded his warning nonetheless. And then I mixed them with caramelized onions and put it all on a yummy roll. And I served it with mac and cheese. Jim gobbled it up and then proceeded to pass gas. An appreciative gesture, I'm sure, but so much for avoiding the green peppers. Beck informed me that he liked breakfast sausage better. Duly noted, dude. And Maddie? Sobbed. SWEAR. Another night of tears at the dinner table. And tonight I didn't offer the apples and peanut butter option. (um, hello? mac and cheese? need I say more?) I also informed her that one more night of tears at the dinner table would ensure that she gets no dinner at all and an early bed time. Not exactly punishment for the girl who would rather do just about anything than eat a healthy meal. (did I mention that I also made chocolate chip cookies for dessert?)

Then I told her that next week she can plan a meal and I will execute it and I promised not to cry while doing so. Her meal of choice? White meat chicken with nothing on it and raw carrots. Ok, on second thought, maybe I will cry; she makes toddlers look adventurous when it comes to food. I can assure you that she doesn't have an eating disorder, she just doesn't like food. Unless it's pasta (with no sauce), peanut butter, yogurt (only vanilla), raw carrots, and the occasional apple. She will hunker down on a cookie, but not any old cookie - for instance if it is a chocolate chip cookie - it can't have too many chips. (and so I made some today that only had two or three chips in them. Can you say enabler?)

My daughter and I share a lot of similarities, but my love for food and her lack thereof is certainly not one of them. One day I will make something for dinner that she will love and beg for more, in the meantime, I will keep a lot of peanut butter (only Jif. Jif Creamy to be exact.) and apples (not green. Only red. And they can't be cold.) on hand for her. And a big bottle of wine for me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Not My Words...

I didn't write today's blog entry; I'm not sure who the actual author is, but I wish I could give him or her credit. Several people forwarded it to me and it was just too good not to share....so here it goes...

I'm a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight...

If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you're "exotic, different." 
Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers and you are the quintessential American story. 

If your name is Barack, you're a radical, unpatriotic Muslim. 
Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track and you're a maverick.

Graduate from Harvard Law School and you are unstable. 
Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating and you're well grounded.

If you spend 3 years as a community organizer, become the first black president of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a constitutional law professor, spend 8 years as a state senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chair of the state senate's health and human services committee, spend 4 years in the US Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran's Affairs Committees, you don't have any real leadership experience. 
If your resume consists of: local weather girl/sports caster, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with fewer than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with 650,000 people, then you're qualified to become the country's second highest ranking executive.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 daughters, all within Protestant churches, you are not a real Christian. 
If you cheat on your wife with a rich heiress and leave this wife to marry the heiress the following month, you're a Christian. 

If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society. 
If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state's school system while your unwed teenage daughter ends up pregnant, you're very responsible. 

If your wife is a Harvard educated lawyer who gave up her position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family's values don't represent America's. 
If your husband is nicknamed "First Dude" and has a DUI conviction and no college education and didn't register to vote until the age of 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable. 

Ok...much clearer now...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Get Off Their Backs...

I think we need to give our kids more space. And yes, this probably should fall under the, "Do as I say, not as I do" category, as I am the first person to climb on my kids' backs, firmly plant myself there, and hang out for long periods of time. 

My daughter just spent three days/two nights at a camp in the mountains with her 6th grade class. It was a bonding session designed to teach the kids how to work in teams and cooperate with each other - and have a lot of fun. They were supervised by their teachers and camp counselors by day, and at night were joined by parent volunteers who served as chaperones in the cabins (and eyes and ears for the rest of the parents.)

I'm not above being nosey; hell, I didn't earn the nickname of Mrs. Cravitz for nothing. And yes, I drill my kids on a daily basis to see what scoop I can get from them. We sit down for a snack after school and the inquisition begins..."So, tell me everything that happened in school today." I am certainly not above asking the tough questions and leading the witness. 

But I do think we need to let them have some secrets. (just a few). It's just not right that we know every detail about their 6th grade class trip. After all, it was their trip, not ours. But by the time the bus pulled into the school parking lot after three days of being away, there was not a parent in the crowd who didn't know everything that happened on that trip. Granted, I expect my daughter to behave while she is on a class trip, but if she was talking past curfew one night, I'm not sure that it has to get back to me via the Mom Network. If it does get back to me, I would rather it come from my daughter (or a friend narking on her) and not from a parent (who wasn't even on the trip) a full 24 hours before the trip was officially over. 

Does the need to know everything about our children come from the desire to protect them and keep them safe? Or is it simply a way for parents to re-live (and perhaps re-do?) their past? (and why does that sound like a question that Carry Bradshaw would ask?) Either way, we need to give them a little breathing room. They shouldn't be under a microscope all the time. 

We as parents need to understand that we already had a chance to be 6th graders and we lived to tell about it; now it's their turn. 

Just for the Record....

Just for the record, I abhor Us Magazine.  Always have, always will.

They play partisan (and dirty) politics. For those of you living under a rock, women across America were outraged at lie-filled attacks on Sarah Palin ordered by the pro-Obama publisher of Us Weekly Magazine. The September 2nd issue of the magazine featured attacks and smears against Sarah Palin, exploiting her Down's Syndrome child to sell magazines. How dare they paint an unflattering picture of our next vice president? The cover had a picture of Ms. Palin and her new baby with the headline, "Babies, Lies and Scandal". Instead of doing their own reporting interviewing the Palin family, Us relied on the lies and distortions of ultra-left wing bloggers and partisan sources. Typical. As if bloggers have any idea what they are talking about?

Of course, one would expect nothing less from a magazine like Us which is owned by Jann Wenner; a big supporter and contributor to Barack Obama. Did you see the June 19th issue? A very non-critical profile of Barack and Michelle Obama. Typical. The magazine reported that Michelle shops at Target. Well of course she does; Wal-Mart is too good for the likes of Michelle. Elitist.

No folks, I never subscribed to Us Weekly and I never will. My heart belongs to People Magazine. It's my bible. Some quote scripture, I quote People. And I believe everything that they publish. Every. Little. Thing. It's where I go for all my in depth political coverage as well as current events around the globe. Who needs Time's Person of the Year when I can devour People's Sexiest Man Alive?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Smoke and Mirrors

So, I'm having dinner with my 8 year old son this evening and he says, "Mom, some kid in my class told me that if Obama gets elected, he'll teach 5 year olds how to smoke." 

Ok, firstly, why don't these rotten kids refer to Obama as MISTER Obama? And secondly, what the fudge? Granted, my son goes to school with a rather conservative lot, but how do these ridiculous rumors get started? I felt like saying, "Oh, really? Well you tell that little assclown in your class that at least the 5 years olds will be able to read whatever books they want and will learn how man evolved from apes AND they'll learn how to keep from getting pregnant in high school if MISTER Obama is elected." But I thought that might open a rather large can of worms at the dinner table, so I simply said, "Really? Hmm, that sounds a bit absurd to me, but I'm curious, how will Mr. Obama go about teaching 5 year olds how to smoke?" My son didn't know, but promised to ask his assclown of a classmate tomorrow. Stay tuned.

I know there are only a few more weeks until the election, but I'm not so sure how much more I can stomach. I actually had an acquaintance say to me, "How can you not like Sarah Palin? She's a mother with the same concerns as you and I - she's one of us - she's just like us!" Um, for the record, she is nothing like me. Nor do we have the same concerns. But let's pretend for a second that she is and we do....riddle me this...why the heck would I want somebody JUST LIKE ME to be president?

Seriously, I want somebody with far better credentials than I to be the Leader of the Free World. (Yes, I know she is not running for president, but she's a heartbeat away....) I want my president to be smart. Rrrreally smart. Waaaay smarter than me. And from what I can gather, I think I could go head to head with Ms. Palin on many topics, and I fear I might come out on top. And, mind you, I do not take comfort in that fact. 

But you know what? I don't really want anybody to be just like me; not my postman, not my school principal, not my personal trainer (ok, I don't actually have a personal trainer, but I'd like one, and if I ever have one - I can assure you that he/she will look and act NOTHING like me) not my neighbor, and above all...not my president. 

So, no, I'm not buying into that narcissistic approach to choosing a candidate. Just as I hope my son isn't buying into that crap about Obama teaching 5 year olds how to smoke. 

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dare I go there...

Ok, so many of you have been asking me to blog a bit about the election. And politics. A part of me thinks politics and religion should be off limits. And then another part of me thinks, it's my blog... 

So, what do I think of Sarah Palin? I think she is a terrific speaker and did a fine job at the convention last night. But I am not a fan. Of her views. Once people start questioning evolution and whether we should teach it in the schools, they lose me. Completely. Forever. And there's no turning back. 

As for those Democrats who are playing the Feminist Card...I'm so over that. So very, very over that. It's ridiculous. Yes, a black man can be president and so can a woman with children. End of story. Do I think it's harder for a woman? For most woman, yes, I'd have to say I do think it's harder. But not for all women. I have several friends who have unbelievably demanding careers (granted, they are not next in line for the Leader of the Free World, but that's neither here nor there) and from what I can gather, they manage to pull off their career and their family duties with a fair amount of juggling and a lot of outsourcing and/or a very supportive spouse. But for most women? Yes, I think it's harder and more of a struggle in our society. But if Sarah Palin is up for the challenge - I say have at it, sista.

Keep in mind Nancy Pelosi is the mother of five. Granted, her children are older, but regardless, she's a mother of five who seems to be managing just fine. 

I'm not going to lie to you, though....I did feel like I was watching a made for TV movie starring Sandra Bullock last night. The whole thing is, well, just a bit odd. And takes some getting used to, I guess. I especially enjoyed the part when Ms. Palin introduced her family and never mention Levi What's-his-name, her future son-in-law and father of her grandchild. Everybody got a shout out, including her parents, but not the future shotgun son-in-law. For me, it was terribly awkward having him sit there next to her daughter. I guess it was showing us how committed they are to each other and to the baby? (man, they haven't a clue) And he joined the Palin family on stage at the end of the speech, as well, chewing a piece of gum like nobody's business. And quite frankly, I couldn't get past it. I kept trying to get a message to him telepathically: lose the gum or at least stop chewing like a cow (and for the love of god, wear a condom....)

Ms. Palin's youngest daughter...is it Willow? Or Tree? Or Wind? Something like that, but regardless, her youngest daughter is simply precious and while holding her infant brother (who was fast asleep during his mother's speech of a lifetime) was licking her fingers and wetting down his hair. So adorable. She seemed quite at home in the limelight. Which is good, because if the Republicans get elected, the Palins are going to lead the evening news every night of the week, not to mention grace the cover of countless magazines. My heart goes out to 17 year old Bristol; I don't think she has any idea the kind of media circus she is going to create. 

Despite what Sarah Palin said last night, her family is not a lot like mine. Their family story is the kind of stuff that the writers at Lifetime dream up. You don't hear of many blogger moms skyrocketing to the position of candidate for VP of the USA. But come to think of it, I believe I'm nearly as qualified....

Bottom line? I like John McCain a lot better without Sarah Palin. But unfortunately, they are a package deal. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Peanut

So there are a couple of things that you can always count on at the beginning of the school year.

First, there are lots of forms to fill out. Lots of redundant forms. It doesn't matter that you provided your school with all the useless particulars last year, you must fill out the same forms once again even if NONE OF THE INFORMATION HAS CHANGED. And forget about simply providing the name of your medical insurance company; no, it's not that easy. You will need to provide their mailing address and phone number, as well as your policy and group ID number. And the school also needs your doctor's name and phone number and your dentist's name and phone number. And they will most likely need the info on several different forms. And definitely one for each child, cause you never know when a family is going to mix things up and have different coverage for each child. 

I've started making stuff up. Not so much the names of the my kids' doctors, because I do (for the most part) know their names, but definitely their phone numbers. And the insurance policy number. I make that one up, for sure. Like I have those numbers committed to memory? Or even written down? I can barely remember my kids' names, for crying out loud. But rest assured, when they are sick, I look up their doctor's number. Come on, if it's a real emergency, is the school nurse really going to pull out my little blue information card to find my doctor of choice and then give them a call? I think not. So why do we pretend that this is such important stuff?

Another thing you can always count on during the first few days of school: the issuance of The Peanut Policy. In capital letters. I cannot tell you how much The Peanut Policy pisses me off. The fact that we have a Peanut Policy is simply beyond me. 

I'm not saying I don't feel for those kids with peanut allergies, because I do. A day without peanut butter is like a day without sunshine. And yes, I understand that sometimes - very rarely - but I'll give it to you - SOMETIMES said peanut allergy may be life-threatening. But then you know what? That kid with the fatal peanut allergy better be well-schooled in what may and may not kill him. He should be able to rattle off 10 things that contain peanuts or peanut by-products in 10 seconds. 

Do the parents of children with peanut allergies pass out The Policy to moviegoers at theaters where they frequent? Do they have copies of The Policy on hand when their child swims at the neighborhood pool? What about at the mall? Are the shoppers at Nordstrom made aware that there is a child in the shoe department with a life threatening peanut allergy? Cause I just want to know who is protecting the peanut allergy kids when they leave school property?

Aren't we doing the child a disservice by making the problem everybody else's and not solely his responsibility? Look, I understand there are hidden dangers for these kids. Wasn't there a case where a girl with a severe peanut allergy died after kissing her boyfriend who had eaten a peanut butter sandwich hours earlier? Or is that an urban legend? It might be. My point is, I realize there are real dangers, but if it was my kid, I would make sure that he was very much aware and informed and educated. Sure, if the allergy is severe enough it helps to make those around you aware of the problem. But a Peanut Policy? In capital letters? Really? How about a Lactose Policy? I suppose lactose intolerance doesn't kill. 

I think peanuts are getting a bum rap. And I think people are going overboard with The Peanut Policy. (In capital letters.) Do you know that peanuts are widely eaten in China and India but peanut allergies are almost unheard of there. Swear. I read that somewhere (not an urban legend). Apparently the roasting of the peanut (which is much more common in North America than China and India) causes the major peanut allergen to become stronger. So if anything, The Peanut Policy should notify peanut manufacturers to stop roasting the heck out of their peanuts. That way I can send my kid to school with a peanut butter sandwich without being read the riot act. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Efficiency.

I think America's workforce needs a lesson or two in productivity. Granted, I'm not an industrial engineer by any stretch, but I've been noticing some rather odd efficiency practices as of late. 

Ok, take for instance the cashiers at Harris Teeter....

I'm used to rolling my cart up to the cashier, having the cashier take the milk from said cart, dragging it over the scanner and then sending it down the conveyor belt to be bagged. Works beautifully. Has for years. If there is a bagger there, the items are bagged, if there is no bagger available - I am happy to do my own bagging. Always do.

But lately I've encountered some rather odd check out practices. Some cashiers think it's better to scan and then immediately bag, thus avoiding the conveyor belt altogether. In other words, after sliding the milk over the scanner, they place it directly into a bag. Hmm. This works if there are only 5 or 6 items to ring up. But if the cart is full (and granted, mine usually is) it gets cumbersome when the bags start filling up and the cashier is not using all the space on the conveyor and thus a cluster of grocery bags is formed. And there is no place for you to move the bags because the cashier has your cart! Again, I don't pretend to be an industrial engineer, but I've been around a grocery store or two in my day and this is a flawed system. 

Now, as if that isn't bad enough, I've also experienced the rogue cashier who again, opts to bypass the conveyor belt, but instead of immediately bagging the item after scanning, this efficiency "guru" opts to return the item to the rear of the cart. Swear. It's beyond ridiculous. And then after everything is scanned and returned to the cart, the bagging process will commence. Seriously, what the? 

This totally sets you up for double ringage. The first time it happened I was caught off guard, not paying full attention and thought to myself, "What just happened here?" But the next time it happened, I inquired as to how the cashier was going to keep track of what she had and had not scanned. She looked at me like I had ten heads. Like I was the crazy one. Like this skill of hers was obviously lost on me. I so badly wanted to say, "Where, pray tell, is the efficiency in this process?" But I could tell by her glare that this particular cashier was not open to constructive criticism, so I backed off. 

But it's spreading. 

It kills me to take Target's name in vain, but my brand-spanking new Target has a flawed check-out system. You place your items on a conveyor belt that delivers the items to the cashier who then rolls the items over the scanner and immediately places the goods in a bag. So far, so good. But herein lies the problem...the bags are behind a wall and the customer cannot easily reach over the wall to load the bags in the cart. And the wall is too high for the cashier to lift the bags and place them in your cart. And the rack of empty bags takes up a lot of space behind said wall, so as a result, bags that are not chock full of items are inevitably left behind because they are hidden behind the rack of empty bags. In fact, the last time I was there, the cashier warned me to be sure to collect all of my bags. Um, hello, why is this my job? And more importantly how do you propose I pick up bags that I cannot possibly see? 

After checking out this afternoon I stopped by the Starbuck's (conveniently located by the Target exit doors). I placed my order and paid for the goods and before the barista started on my grande skim latte extra hot, she asked the next person in line what she wanted. Um, hello? How about getting that delicious latte going before taking the next order? At least get me that cup of water I asked for. And perhaps start steaming the skim milk. Efficiency. So now she has two orders, she has collected the money on both orders, there are no other baristas in sight and while she starts to step away to make the latte and chai tea, another customer approaches the counter. You guessed it - she comes back to the register and takes her order as well. What the? 

Luckily for me, no other customers approached the counter. But for some reason unbeknownst to me, this particular Starbuck's employee is convinced that she can make the latte, the chai tea and the iced mocha something-or-other at the same time instead of one at a time. Suffice it to say, the steamed milk (extra hot, mind you) exploded out of the tin pitcher, the chai tea was a Grande rather than the requested Venti, and the iced mocha something-or-other had vanilla added to it much to the customer's dismay. When the customer pointed out the vanilla issue, the barista responded, "Oh, that's right it was you who wanted the Skinny Vanilla Latte." and pointed to me. Um, no. I wanted the skim latte extra hot. And for the record - I ordered FIRST. AND I never got that cup of water that I asked for!

But I couldn't be mean to her because she was as sweet as the day is long; she just needed a lesson or two in efficiency. Good to know that if her particular Starbuck's is one of the 600 planned to close by March, she can easily get a job as a cashier at Harris Teeter. She certainly has the skill set. 

Back to school....

And so they are gone. And so is summer. Today is the first day of school and my kids just finished the dreaded photo shoot in the driveway and now are off to the bus. (for more photo opps, I'm sure). 

The sumer of 2008 was the fastest summer on record. Why isn't the media all over that? And why is it that time flies when you are having fun? While eating his breakfast this morning, Beck glanced at this morning's headlines and wanted to know what a "VP Pick" was (apparently Obama will be texting his choice sometime in the very near future)...so why does it seem like Obama has been running for President for 14 years and yet summer lasted a mere 14 days? It's hardly fair. 

But now it's back to a schedule. The first day of school is kind of like New Year's day for me. I have lots of resolutions. I want to get back on an exercise schedule and an eating schedule (ie: stop eating everything in sight and washing it down with a cocktail). I want to cook dinner a few times a week (notice I did not commit to every night.) I want to be patient and kind when it comes to homework (that will undoubtedly be the first resolution to be broken.)

OH. MY. GOD. Time out. 

The phone just rang. It was was Maddie (who would leave the house each morning without her head were it not conveniently attached to her body. Swear.) calling from her bus driver's cell phone, "Hi Mom, I need my tennis shoes." 

Are you freaking kidding me? Rrreally? This is how you want to start things? Wow. 

Suddenly summer is a distant memory and all I can remember are the countless times she sat down to do her homework only to realize she had forgotten her books. As my blood pressure steadily climbs, I run to find her tennis shoes so that I can make it to the bus before it pulls out of the parking lot. I can assure you that I looked lovely in my fleece bathrobe and Medusa-like hairdo as I leaped into the tan minivan (in bare feet, mind you) and pulled out of the driveway at upwards of 90 mph. (Did I mention she never said please or thank you? She's going to pay for that one. Dearly.)

As I approach the bus stop, I see loads of cute moms with big smiles on their faces waving to their precious (and no doubt reliable) kids on the bus. I screech in on two wheels and roll down my window to announce that I am here with a couple of pair of tennis shoes (god forbid I should choose the wrong pair for the Princess, so I brought every tennis shoe I could find in her cubby) and will not be getting out of the vehicle to catch up as I am sporting a bathrobe. Hardly embarrassing. At all. And then it occurs to me that THAT is exactly how she is going to pay - I am going to climb on to that bus in said bathrobe looking like I-don't-know-what and I am going to call for Maddie on the top of my lungs announcing to all of her friends and upper class men that Maddie has a total hag for a mother! 

But before I could get the seatbelt unbuckled, Maddie is leaping down the stairs of the bus. She grabbed the shoes out of my hands and was back on the bus begging Steve (the bus driver) to close the doors and pull away. I could smell her desperation through the windows. She knew the lunatic in me had been unleashed and she was frightened for her life and the lives of her fellow passengers. As she should be. My job is done. 

So much for peace and quiet this morning. Maybe it's a good thing that summer is over. I need some distance....