27 December 2013

It's A Wonderful Life...

I love the movie, "It's a Wonderful Life" for so many reasons but especially for setting the mood and focus of the holiday season for me. A renewal of the things that really matter. 

It's not any secret that my family thrives on humor, odd though it may be sometimes, but it works for us and has had the bonus of keeping me sane over the years.  This year, Christmas at our house was normal... well, as normal as our family can be when it comes to Christmas. Come to think of it, I don't think anyone in our quirky family could be considered a poster-child for normality in any sense of the word.  I can live with that.

Our immediate family has a tradition concerning the making and using of Christmas lists that ensure that no matter how much or how little money is available for presents, there will be plenty of cheer, humor and love. I originally posted the traditions many years ago if you want to know the root of the hilarity that can be found here at our house. (Well, most years anyway as life does sometimes get in the way, especially when the deployment rotations come around or other mishap and mayhem. I wouldn't want to make our family sound perfect and completely idyllic (my kids would laugh hysterically because at least 75% of our lives is unbloggable... at least by my standards.)

The Christmas list affair for this year was pretty good. I won't post everyone's lists in their entirety but there are a few items that truly stand out. So as not to embarrass the offspring I'll allow the not so innocent to remain anonymous. (And no. They are not listed in any particular order. And yes, I'm cutting and pasting.)  :)

     ~ I want a clean room. [I had to laugh at this one]
     ~ Seasons of Vampire Diaries on DVD
     ~ Knives of the non-buttery variety
     ~ Vampire Diaries Poster
     ~ Edward Elric's Watch (he’s from Fullmetal Alchemist)
     ~ http://www.tungstenlove.com/vampire-diaries-elena-vervain-necklace THIS ONE I REALLY REALLY REALLY WANT THIS SO BAD!!! [Sense a trend here?]
     ~ Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood seasons
     ~ Cool and interesting apartment illuminating items
     ~ That pen that scans a color and writes in it
     ~ Index cards. Like 200. In different colors
     ~ Fuzzy and/or sleep related items
     ~ The making of Harry Potter [book]
     ~ Tea
     ~ Teapot
     ~ Tivana Tea Gift Cards
     ~ Tea, tea, tea [It must be their father's English, Scottish and Welsh genes... mine all came from Quebec]

At least there wasn't a catapult listed this year.  Now, about these lists... one of our five daughters gave us her list three days before Christmas and Christmas morning she still got to unwrapped a 24 pack roll of toilet paper. (among other gifts) She laughed and said that she surely could use such a useful present.  We were pretty lenient this year, I think. Nary a jock strap in sight for any of our five daughters. A fact I'm sure that crossed each of their minds as they unwrapped each present. Ah the joys of parenthood!

I asked for Erin's list and she said she had given it to her father, so I had my husband email it to me (he was TDY in Florida at the time) and in it he included Rachel's Christmas List. I was happy. A two-fer so I didn't have to stress and send out 'the brute squad'...yet. Nor did I have to call the Emergency Stress Relief Hotline more than once or twice this season so far, so life is good. 

Unfortunately for Rachel, we found out three days before Christmas, whilst having her friends for dinner [No, they were not on the menu... they were our honored guests... um, they dined with us. Lord love the English language because I'm too lazy to go fix my grammar!], that the list her father had sent me... was from her Junior year of High School! [She is now a college Freshman].
Me to Rachel: "That's unfortunate for you as I've been using that list since October."
Rachel: "I didn't write a list this year. What was on the list?" 
After cranking up the computer, I read from her list at the dinner table.
Rachel: "I already have most of the things on it! There is only one thing on that list that I'd still like for Christmas."
Me: "Let me read you Erin's list as the two of you have several of the same things on these two lists. I'll see what I can come up with."
Well, since she didn't write a list this year, I guess it could have been a lot worse... for her. My husband and I could have put our heads together to create her list. That's the rules of this family tradition, after all.

Rachel glared at her father.
"Why did you send her that list?"
Husband: "I didn't!"
Me: "I have the emails right here honey." 
I probably shouldn't have thrown him under the bus like that and now that I think about it, I should go and apologize... maybe... a little later...
Husband: "I don't remember sending it. I only sent Erin's!" 
This time I was kind enough to change the subject.

Just in case you think this episode is truly over? It has become the gift that keeps giving. Let me tell you a little more about the events that are linked to that darn list, although I can only post the latter half of the adventure as the first half is a story best left for another day. I don't strive to be Tolstoy.

So Rachel's boyfriend and best friend were visiting and after she left the room, I told them that the only two things I had actually gotten off the list so far was a book I know she didn't have and the one item she had mentioned as a still viable Christmas List option. (I told them they could come over Christmas morning to watch if they wanted to.)

Her friends said they thought she would love it!

I showed her sisters this gift previously and they all agreed that she would love it!

On Christmas Eve I showed it to my husband and he also agreed she would love it!

...and then he handed it back to me...

...which is why what happened next was truly lamentable...

Yup. I promptly lost it among all the other presents I was wrapping. I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning searching for that darn thing. I removed EVERY item of trash from the trash bags. I looked inside EVERY plastic bag, container, box and paper to no avail. I tore the place apart and then finally I went to bed defeated. I then hoped that it might have gotten wrapped in with some other present so the next morning I explained that there was small gift that had gone on the lam and would they look out for it. I told Rachel that I would not tell her what it was unless no one else came to the rescue before every present was unwrapped.

Unfortunately, my bad luck was holding on to me like it was at a super glue convention and I was the test dummy. So I told Rachel what it was.  At first she was real quiet and then she said,
"And you lost it?" 
She truly would have loved it!

Everyone helped me look for it and when the search was fruitless, I went online and ordered another one so harmony was restored.  This definitely has a silver lining as it means she'll be walking down to the mailbox to get the mail every day until her present arrives.  It's all about the lemonade.

Still, I know there is hope that it will be found before we have to consider the milk carton route. I know this is true because I found the present Rachel had bought Nicole for last year's Christmas celebration whilst wrapping presents for this year.  What a year it's been!

Rachel was a great sport about it and a replacement is coming.

This year I bought all of our daughters union suits (or long handles, traditionally red with a butt flap, but does come in purple) along with thick woolen socks. (This is, after all, New England)  Dumbledore was absolutely right. There's nothing like a pair of warm woolen socks!

Erin was an enormous help this year and spent three days wrapping all the stocking stuffers... individually... even the crayons in the box were not spared her loving touch.  Her sisters watched her do this... for three days. So when Erin opened one of the gift boxes from Rachel, inside the lid was written:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
This box was wrapped empty
Ha! You thought this would rhyme...

Nina was sort of picked on this year in a funny kind of way. I've already mentioned the toilet paper. Nicole and Rachel added their artistic skills and wrapped two bras that were gifts. (this is a family of women and my husband is trained to perfection not to blink an eye at requests to buy things like this before he comes home) It's definitely creative and funny as hell to look at when they were done.

When my husband came home with this tall Darth Vader (it's taller than the lamp) all I could think of was... well one of our daughter's did ask for an attractive male slave. Two out of three adjectives isn't all that bad, is it? Ok. Maybe that should be one out of three adjectives.  [If you are wondering what he is holding, it's a lego platform from years past. If you know our family at all, it won't come as any surprise that our family holds legos, books and chocolate sacred in this house. Not necessarily in that order].

Erin did not escape her father's warped humor as he wrapped the slippers from her list... individually (this is before he knew she had done the same to all of the stocking stuffers). But funnier than that, for Erin he wrapped a bunch of pennies in a box, and another box filled with tissue paper and although an accident, he wrapped and labeled three of the union suits meant for her sisters, as hers.  She was exasperated and told him she didn't need three union suits of various sizes.  The apple never falls far from the tree in this family.

Then I imagine the day continued on in the same fashion as everyone else. Those who were not in their 'jammies' put on their union suits and wool socks and on went the video games (which sometimes can be a wonderful spectator sport), our twenty something daughters pulled out our huge supply of legos (see Darth Vader), and the rest read new books until dinner time.  My husband made prime rib (because he didn't get to the butcher shop until it was closing on Christmas eve and they didn't have the spoon roast that he wanted, so instead they sold him a prime rib roast for the same amount of money! He does hunt and gather rather well, I must say) and although the beloved pumpkin cheesecake was missing this year, it was still a fabulous dinner thanks to my husband!

I miss blogging. I miss the ability to write down all the wonderful blessings I have so that I can let go of whatever is stressing me at the moment.  The problem is... it takes forever for me to write it down and then go back and edit, edit, edit.  We're talking HOURS. Because to publish anything on the web is most likely to remain for my posterity.  I have stopped using facebook and news feeds because I have to face the fact that I am someone who becomes hyper-focused incredibly easily and when I glance at the clock, I panic when I realize that I've just lost four or five hours and have nothing to show for it in terms of housework, physical rehabilitation or just plain stepping out my kitchen door to walk down the driveway.

Unfortunately, this means I rarely write anything anymore and I feel like my life is less colorful than it use to be. There are other things that take priority these days and for the foreseeable future, so I think I will have to be content with whatever I can write, whenever I can write it.

Because I no longer have a following, I don't have to feel I've disappointed anyone by not being consistent. I remember more clearly that I started this blog so many years ago as therapy for the soul and it's ok if it only needs a cactus amount of water to flourish. It has gotten me through some pretty rough times as well as being a place to remember my blessings. Life is short. Live it out loud, in technicolor and with humor at every opportunity.

No quote of the day. Only a very heartfelt Happy Holidays to all who may drop by.

UPDATE: 28 Dec 2013 - Item was NOT found where I was wrapping presents. If I hadn't had the urge to clean out some boxes in the hall, I would never have seen it until I dusted. The last time I dusted was before the kids were born. My mother-in-law assured me that I would someday have a clean house when all of our offspring had left the nest. 

... I'm still waiting for that day and she's not around anymore to tell me when that day might be. It hasn't arrived and four of our kids are over the age of 18. I'm sure she would have laughed and told me that there will come a time when I miss them living at home. I'm beginning to have my doubts...

27 June 2013

Black Holes And Universes...

Recently it came to me that almost all of our children have really grown up and instead of being participants in their lives, my husband and I are now merely spectators. I don't feel like we're old enough to have all our children grown yet. Still, I've come to an undeniable truth I didn't know when we started our wonderful and quirky family so many years ago:
"Children are like your own personal black hole that will eat up all your money, all your energy, all your patience, all your soul and your very life and you sometimes wonder why you wanted them... and then one day, you look inside that black hole and you realize that it is not black, nor is it empty, but instead it is now a whole new breathtakingly beautiful, awe inspiring universe just waiting to be explored." ~ by Lemon Stand

18 March 2013

Sharing The Humor...

There are times when our family conversations just have to be shared. Today I got a two-fer and never saw either one coming. Which, frankly, is the best way to enjoy our twisted sense of humor.

Today started off like an average Monday with me trying desperately to find three good things I could say about it.
An aside: If you are having a very bad day, or even an average bad day, try my lemonade recipe to turn any bad day into a sunny day...  It really takes some practice to get it right so don't worry if it doesn't work right off the bat. Find three good things about your day already and really get creative with your imaginative descriptions. Like I said, this takes practice and since practice makes perfect, introduce the concept to everyone who annoys you. Then you too can have a two-fer kind of day. See how this works? End of aside.
Back to my three good things: Latin Education, Catapults and Mondays. What's not to love?  Let your imagination run wild. Wild is a good thing for Mondays.  You may thank me for this bit of wisdom later.

This mindset, I took into the doctor's office with me this afternoon.  Even after the excitement of finding out I had high blood pressure today and since it seems like I do nothing in half measures, it topped out at 157 over 117. My normal blood pressure always used to be 96 over 68. Always. Just another sign that I am improving with age. My doctor, however, did not agree with me and sent me home to take some blood pressure medication, lay down and do some serious meditation. I could have told her that I only know humorous meditation, but she didn't look like she'd take that comment well, and hell, I didn't want to ruin her day.

So off I trot to pick up the kids and then head home to do as the doctor ordered.  This is where the first bombshell dropped.

Me to Rachel and Erin: "So the doctor told me to keep the stress level down and go home."

Erin, "I guess then, that now is not the time to tell you that you're about to become a Grandmother."

At first I thought I must have been mistaken, because that sure sounded like my 14 year old and not my 18 year old. There's an old saying that says it's the quiet ones you really have to look out for. Yup, Erin is definitely not the chattiest one in the family.

So no. Now would normally not be the best time to tell me news of that sort, but damn if I could stop laughing.

Then my husband gets home from his temporary duty in the Florida panhandle this evening... Just in time for a snow storm.
Another aside: Instead of hunting down and hurting the person or persons responsible for the Happy Snoopy Snow Dance, I've decided to have everyone I know start dancing the Happy Snoopy Spring Dance. I'm ready for flowers, maple syrup season, and allergies. Bring it on. I don't care if you can't dance. Do it anyway. No one will see you unless you do it at work or in a grocery store isle.  So go ahead into your bathroom, turn on the shower to cover any possibility of odd noises coming through the door for your family to start worrying about. You'll feel so much better for it and I will be thrilled that you cared enough to help jump start Spring around here. 'Kay? End of another aside.
Danielle came over for dinner and while the conversation was all that is normal at our dinner table, I nearly spit my teeth out when Danielle regaled us with her adventures on Face Book.

"I saw someone post, 'So you know when you are cutting a piece of paper and all of a sudden you realize you're about to cut an atom.' and all I could think was, 'you just need to step away from the glue now'."

"I picked the wrong day to quit sniffing glue!" ~ Airplane!
This is pretty ironic considering some of the conversation volleys over the years, but yeah, it was pretty funny with her serious facial mien and hand gestures.  Maybe you'd have had to be there for this to sound funny to you, but life is short. Laugh while you can.  So I decided that it was time to step away from the chalupas and quickly go write this blog post before I have to give last rights to a few more memory brain cells (without nary a sight of glue to sniff).

Another successful lemonade-making opportunity. Life is good.

Latin Education, Catapults and Mondays...

This is what I thought of when our kids wanted to learn how to make catapults...

Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

When catapults are outlawed, only outlaws will have catapults

Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis, ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam.

I have a catapult. Give me all the money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head

This is what you get from offspring who are related in any way to my husband. He, of course, would be out there to help build them and give pointers on what makes the best ammunition. Get him together with his siblings and you'd have a catapult convention to engineer a better catapult and lessons on how to choose the most aerodynamic rocks. Add in all the offspring for loading and spouses for food and we'd have a barbecue worthy of the Fourth of July.

It's a Monday. One must ponder things like this on Mondays to keep one sane. 

Have a Happy Monday!

15 March 2013

Observing Instead Of Vacationing...

So the husband is currently on temporary duty (TDY) at a different base and has been tapped to be an inspector for a 'practice' military exercise even though he was only expecting to be an 'observer'. This means instead of observing the action, he's grading those doing the action and writing up what they did wrong. In other words, no vacation here...

After the panic of the first day, I got a text message this morning that said, "Today is fun. I get to kill folks and break things."

(In military speak, that means something like, "I get to point at someone and say, 'You just got shot.' then say to his buddy, 'Just what are you supposed to do now?' and 'This piece of equipment just broke, how are you going to do your job without it?'")

I, of course, texted him back and said, "Life is all about the little trade offs."

Then I get the call this evening...
"I missed breakfast and lunch and just got back to the hotel after a very long day and four double shots of scotch. Think I'll go to bed now..." 

It's 7pm there. Yup, military life rarely changes it's spots.

QOTD: "Airplanes suffers from so many technical faults that it is only a matter of time before any reasonable man realizes that they are useless!" ~ Scientific American (1910)

13 March 2013

Loretta Lou And The Logistics Of Selling Your Kids On Ebay...

A few years back I was reading another favorite blog of mine, Just Another Snarky Wife. Her post was about her husband coming home after being deployed and doing the happy snoopy dance.  I laughed and cried reading this post.  But the one thing that really stuck a chord with me was her theory about how to be a successful Navy spouse. After pondering this theory I now believe it is true for any spouse, single parent or caregiver (regardless of military affiliation), that has one of those days.  You know the kind I'm talking about...
"I have a theory: The successful Navy spouse is the one who can paste a cheery smile on her face even though she's working out the logistics of selling the kids on eBay, ditching the house, finding a job at a truck stop restaurant in Podunk, Arizona, and changing her name to Loretta Lou. Okay, it's not a theory so much as an intense desire to know I've hit some type of marker of success. /snort"
That was just too funny a definition to pass up passing it on!  Please read the entire post, I've linked it here (and on her blog name above)

QOTD: "I have always believed that writing advertisements is the second most profitable form of writing. The first, of course, is ransom notes..." ~ Philip Dusenberry

07 March 2013

The Care And Feeding Of Offspring...

Erin: "Mom? Can Rachel and I get something to eat before we come home from school? We're starving!"
Me: "NO! Absolutely NOT! I want you starving when you get home!"
Erin: "Mom?"
Me: "Yes dear?"
Erin: "I may have to eat you!"
Me: "Naw. I wouldn't taste very good. I'm a tough old bird."
Erin: "Then I'll feed you to the cats!"
Me: "Okay. I guess you guys can go get something to eat."
You know? I really thought I had already fed them yesterday? Maybe it's time to increase their feed? Maybe feed them twice a day instead of once? They're good kids so I guess I'll be more generous.

06 March 2013

Education, Sucking Wounds And Pickup Lines...

 I find it interesting how some of our family conversations never do change, and how some of the family conversations will never happen again now that our kids have grown up a bit. There are some things that I definitely miss, and others that are a relief to be at an end. But sometimes? It's hard to tell just what category to put them in.

As an example is a dinner conversation our family had back in March of 2007. Ages ranged between 8 and 15. Six years really has made a difference in the content of our discussions... and though most of their friends are still not quite brave enough to eat at our house, there have been a few that not only have accepted dinner invitations, but have actually come back again. I do like and am relieved in that aspect of our family life. I was beginning to think we might be boring, too tame or normal.
Nicole, "I learned in biology today that if you get shot in the abdomen you should stick your finger in the hole so you don't end up with an extra nostril."
What do they teach in biology class these days?
Husband, "I believe you are talking about a sucking chest wound where you are losing air through a hole in the lung. Believe me you would be better off putting the cellophane wrapper from cigarette box or even your driver's license against the wound and wrapping it tight to seal off the wound."

Me, "I've heard that using a tampon in the entry hole of a bullet wound will help seal it until you can get the victim to the hospital. I imagine it depends on the kind of wound though."

Danielle, "Guys don't carry tampons around."

Me, "Maybe they should? Might help them get in touch with their feminine side."
The Husband is giving me his NO WAY IN [fill in the blank] look...
Erin, "He'd have to change it every day. Do guys know how to change tampons?" 
 At eight years old she has a very basic understanding of what a tampon is and what it is used for but darn you should have seen the most serious look on her face. I had a really hard time, not laughing.
Husband, "I've heard that you should NEVER trust anything that bleeds for a week and still lives."
**Roll of eyes** 

So I try to change the subject in interest of peace and family harmony.
Me to Husband, "Do you know how long a cat's life is on average?"

Husband, "Depends on if he get's up on the counter again." 
(This makes a little more sense when you know that one of our feline's name is "Cat".... or "Catoid" or if he is being particularly obnoxious "Catastrophe". He is also the one who often has to go into the feline witness protection program... usually because the husband has witnessed him clawing, pooping or peeing where he shouldn't be so he has to hide until the husband cools down.)

Sigh. Someone else's turn to change the subject....
Danielle, "Dad, I heard the greatest pickup line today at school... Did you sprain anything falling down from heaven?"

Husband, "If you EVER fall for that line, I will personally 'sprain' you! And just so you know the best pickup line is... I love your dress... it would look great on my bedroom floor."

Danielle, "That can't be the best pickup line. I wouldn't fall for it."

Husband, "I was pretty sure you were smarter than that. I think the point is to not bother with guys who use pickup lines. He is obviously trying for a quantity of relationships... not quality and who wants to be one more unmemorable sucker?"
Tip to our daughters... If you want to meet someone, just strike up a conversation. If you are nervous, just start by asking for the time. Don't let someone insult your intelligence by giving you a slick as snot attitude pick up line. It only shows how truly expendable you are to them.

And never underestimate a father's inquisitiveness about potential future boyfriends... As much as you girls are "Daddy's girls" and have him wrapped around your little fingers.... it is doubtful that any boy will pass muster without learning from your Daddy himself, just what would happen if said boy didn't adhere strictly to the rules of gentlemanly behavior.

That said, I promise to try my best to keep him from pulling out the big guns or worse, the photo album...
QOTD: "When mothers talk about the depression of the empty nest, they're not mourning the passing of all those wet towels on the floor, or the music that numbs your teeth, or even the bottle of cap-less shampoo dribbling down the shower drain. They're upset because they've gone from supervisor of a child's life to a spectator. It's like being the vice president of the United States." Erma Bombeck, American Humorist (1927-1996)

05 March 2013

Even More Giving Is Supposed To Come From Here...

It all started with a book. At first glance, this book didn't appear to be all that different from any other ordinary book I own, but The Giving Book Club was created because of that original book, Random Acts of Kindness.  The only books chosen are books that give to the reader.  What the book gives would depend upon the reader. 

The name of The Giving Book Club came from one of the short vignettes in this small book, about a Russian Grandmother who told her Granddaughter that people in this country give from the wrong place and she goes on to explain exactly what she means in a way that will stay with you. I hope you'll take the time to read the short entry in the original blog post, Giving Is Supposed To Come From Here...

It's helped me focus on what I feel is truly important and now my copy is well worn.  I collect books to save me when I'm fresh out of anything positive to say or do. I know that sounds sappy, but I figure you should always try to enjoy and share happiness wherever you find it. Sappy, but true.

My books are food that feeds my soul, waters my determination and fertilizes my imagination. Any book that, for whatever reason, induces calm, patience, acceptance, laughter, imagination and reasoning, making you feel again centered and better able to cope with the demands of your life was made for this kind of shelf.

The eclectic selection on my shelf, reminds me to just forget about what I think I know about any given problem (because it's obvious that I don't know everything about the problem or it wouldn't be a problem, would it?). My shelf reminds me to remember that it's ok to take the time to step back outside the thinking box, review and then redirect how I'm reasoning and evaluating my problems. This book club was not meant to solve challenges that must be faced (so no automotive repair manual unless it's soothing). The book's purpose is to create a better mental and emotional place to deal with brick walls. 

Remind yourself often to not ever give up your dreams. They are only un-attainable if you stop trying and as long as there is life, there is hope. Have patience. Use whatever helps you focus your life and prioritize those things that are truly important to you and I've found that happiness just seems to follow. You've now given happiness a bread crumb trail and it will tag along as long as you want it to.

So, what's new on your shelf?

QOTD: "Reading...it's the best journey you can take without having to go anywhere." ~ Rumaas

03 March 2013

Zombie To-Do List...

Public Service Announcement: There have currently been no confirmed sightings of Zombies, but the public should remain vigilant as it is only a matter of time before Congress sends them out to control the population instead of the budget. Please stay tuned to updated reports. Carry on and have a chocolate.

I've dreamed there is a special kind of to-do list that is addicting.  The longer the list, the more addicting it is. You should beware of any list longer than three items as they seem to be going viral within the well organized population. These to-do lists are an insidious form of torture created by Zombies to round-up victims. Once in possession of  one of their to-do lists, the tasks written on them multiply exponentially. It comes with some kind of subliminal instruction that is used to make you think you still have the option of saving your brain. You don't... have that option I mean. Once they've made sure you have a to-do list in your possession, then you are forever chained to whatever tasks that are on that to-do list until their next meal.

I've heard that they use this particular method to prepare your brain for their dinner. Kind of like meat tenderizer.  As far as I know, that is still only rumor. The way they get you to accept a to-do list is quite innocent-like. They are delivered by someone you think you know as a short set of instructions to complete some quick favor for them. It seems that any list under four items is safe, because you need more than three items to invoke enough subliminal exposure to commence the replicating countdown. Also beware of wine lists and menus... they are longer than three items and can make you want to list more than one item that you would like to eat or drink.

These to-do lists are used to make you think you still have the option of saving your brain. You don't... have that option I mean. Once they've made sure you have a to-do list in your possession, then you are forever chained to whatever tasks that are on that to-do list. That way they have an easier time rounding the herd (that would be you) for dinnertime. Their dinnertime. There's nothing left to do then, but say grace.

I woke up thinking it's a good thing I've already sworn off to-do lists! 

QOTD: "I haven't got the slightest idea how to change people, but still I keep a long list of prospective candidates just in case I should ever figure it out." ~ David Sedaris

27 February 2013

And About That To-Do List...

I hate to-do lists. I can live with the fact I've acquired something of a little mean streak, because those spiteful little to-do lists hate me right back. Balance. Life is all about balance.

Perhaps our hostilities began because I've never had any success at completely crossing everything off on any to-do list I've ever written. That's right. Not once. And that's if I can even find the sly little rat-like things that the work of my hand turns into once it's discovered it's been born a to-do list. True, I wouldn't want to be born a to-do list. I shudder at the very thought, but somebody's got to be it and somebody's got to do it. Guess it's clear which of the options is fated to be mine. We all have our lots in life. Have a cupcake and carry on.

I've learned there are actually some very good reasons for this strong, emotional response to those little paper banes of my existence. Thus, at this point in my life, I am more than okay with avoiding those little bundles of joy that are to-do lists, as scrupulously as possible.

Not long ago, the light bulb went on and I realized that my to-do lists were something I dreaded. I couldn't look forward to starting a day knowing that pestilential piece of paper would still be there. Lying in wait. For me. I know when I first look at the to-do list in the fine light of morning, it will have multiplied tasks. Then that long meg list feels like having a conquering hero looking over your shoulder, who then exhibits an extremely bad case of poor sportsmanship just for the sheer pleasure of inflicting the maximum amount of misery as possible on the conquered of the day. That would be me.

But then... I finally noticed that the world had not stopped spinning solidly on it's axis, completely oblivious to my plight. It also occurred to me that hell... nobody had voted me off the island... yet. It's heartening to know my family still loves me. And all these things don't change whether I do or do not follow a to-do list. Why didn't anyone ever tell me this? (So many wasted hours I could have been playing video games just like my kids) 

So what was I agonizing over? I can now give my absolute best effort each day to complete as many tasks as is reasonably possible and then move on without feeling guilty that, inevitably, I will forget things that have uncomfortable consequences. Life is full of little trade offs. It could take me longer to achieve the successful conclusion of a task than it might have if I were only a little more organized. Okay. Like I would be with a to-do list... but then I figure I wouldn't be able to take the time to smell the butterflies and watch the flowers instead of writing and rewriting tasks. Huh. Rewind to smell and exchange with the the word watch. 'Kay? 

I now have time to enjoy some of the little things in life. I can be comfortably assured that the rest of the tasks won't be running off with the spoons and so will get addressed. Eventually. 

Not that I won't still experience some of that agonizing to-do list nagging. I do.  To-do lists can't be silenced easily. Unfortunately. At least not silenced without an expensive set of Bose stereo headphones. Sigh. It's a continuing learning experience to know what constitutes an emergency dire enough to warrant you stepping away from the Bose and what is important enough to only turn down the sound for a minute... Okay, maybe a solid 120 seconds... I am, after all, equipped with a replay button. Or at least my stereo is.

Remember that list of really good reasons about to-do lists to make one feel homicidal that I mentioned above... well, maybe I didn't go into that much detail, but I thought I'd share, in true The Tonight Show fashion, my decisively executed battle of wits with the dreaded to-do list. It, of course, came to the battle unarmed. 

The Top Ten Reasons why I don't want to ever write another to-do list:

Number 10. I generally forget that I have even written a to-do list so right off the bat, I've set myself up for failure
Ah, yes. The old, 'I forgot my homework at home ploy.' Feel sorry for yourself much?
Who are you?
Who am I? Hmmm. Well, I guess you could say I'm playing the Devil's advocate, but don't worry, an exorcism will not be necessary as I'm only filling in to play the role for your benefit, then it's off to Tahiti for me... I just love those warm climates!
For my benefit... Really?
Yeah. Right. So, moving right along...

Number 9. I tend to forget where I have actually set down that to-do list when it's time to get cracking at it. I have spent hours looking for lists in the past.
They do say that memory is the first thing to go and the second thing to go is your memory. You've already used the losing ploy. What else ya got?
Number 8. There is no happily ever after with a to-do list. It never ends. Doing one thing just reminds me of several other things that I didn't do. It's... it's... it's demoralizing. A valid reason for not making to-do lists. I'm protecting my sanity and sense of self worth.
Hey! Isn't it kind of like that movie The NeverEnding Story, but without the rescue at the end. Or Dr. Who, but without the Tardis. Guess it sucks to be you if you are in possession of a to-do list.
Number 7. I can't help writing my to-do-lists on stray envelopes containing advertisements for items I definitely do not want, nor have ever heard of before. I don't know how they found me, but I sure would like them to get lost. And I really don't want to know what a Stretch Lock Bungee Cord is, or what it's used for. In my imagination, it could be a tool of torture (kind of like the to-do list) involving breaking someone's back. After two surgeries in about two years on my back, I'd rather be blissfully ignorant, thank you very much!
You realize that those envelopes are offended when they hear you say things like that. That's why they retaliate by sharing your address with all their paper buddies and their buddies' buddies. (classic Theorem of Hydra) Hence the reason why your mailman has herniated discs and why you keep getting even more junk mail... what you need is a junk mail dog. Junk yard dogs seem to be very efficient at discouraging any kind of communication. A well trained junk mail dog would deter even the most tenacious offender. (just sayin')
Number 6. A to-do list implies that one actually intends to and has time for accomplishing everything on that list. It makes one feel obligated to complete all the tasks before quitting. Intend to and make time for accomplishing everything on my to-do list? Lying is a sin. It's the moral principle of the thing. If I do not write down a to-do list, then my moral principles can't be compromised.
Hmmmm. Yeah, you're definitely worthy of being a roll model of parental rectitude. I'm impressed. I think you're wrong, but I'm still impressed with um... the ingeniousness of your logical reasoning powers.
Number 5. Since I regrettably was born with the curse of being more than a little loquacious. Both in written and verbal forms of communication. I can't help it. I tend to write a lot of notes on the run using my own sort of shorthand. Unfortunately, there have been times when I was not able to decipher my own notes. Abbreviations, symbols, squiggly lines all carry the burden of becoming my best kept secrets since even I do not know what I had meant. I still avoid voice recorders because there are some things in life you do not want nor need any recording of.
A little loquacious, huh? You know, you could have a good chance of running for the Queen of Understatement. You can ask anyone in your family and they'll tell you that occasionally they like to play hide and seek... without you. No offense is meant and I'm sure none is taken as no person is without the need of a little quiet time... or perhaps nap time as the case may be.
Number 4. A to-do list means you have to responsibly prioritize what gets done first and last. In my mind, this means that I can't put, say... finish current quilt before clean the overly full cat litter boxes. Let's face it. Cleaning cat litter boxes is not exactly a lallapalooza event, whereas finishing a quilt is definitely a labor of love and, at least in my mind, worthy of a lallapalooza event. I just don't want to feel guilty the whole time I'm sewing. That would take a lot of the enjoyment out of it. I'd rather feel warm and fuzzy (without the angora, of course) about piecing fabric together that is meant for someone else. Something they'll really use. Cat litters boxes get used, but they can't touch my soul and litter boxes just smell and need constant cleaning.
Lallapalooza? Lallapalooza. You've been reading the dictionary in the bathroom again? If you're in need of a book, put Sherlock Holmes or possibly, War and Peace in the bathroom library for just such an emergency. Lallapalooza. Thank you. Now that word is going to be stuck in my mind all day.
Number 3. When it comes time to start working on the items I listed on my to-do list, I feel like the list takes me hostage and I'm to be held until everything on that to-do list is crossed off. I'm a slave of the to-do list. I suppose I should feel blessed because at least the to-do list didn't change my name to Kunta Kinte. Kunta Kinte did not whine about his lot. And he was not lazy. I like to whine and I'll admit I'm lazy on occasion. It's sad, really, but true. The naming would also be wrong, because Kunta was male and... well... I'm not. (I wonder if he ever had to write to-do lists?) On top of that? When I get up in the morning, my list mysteriously has additional tasks to do on it that I could swear I'd not written with my own hand even though the penmanship sure looked the same.
Lazy on occasion? Pinocchio, thy nose is getting long. What happened to that roll model of parental rectitude? As for the appearance of additional tasks, that truly could be a troubling problem. I think you might want to separate your to-do lists, because apparently... those lists are all shacked up together and it looks like they are taking advantage of all of their opportunities by being fruitful as bunny rabbits. Just thought I'd throw that advice in there for you. Free of charge, of course.
Number 2. To-do lists gives me gas. Too much information, I know, but it sorta feels like that. They also depress me and since I've made a promise to myself that I would make lemonade from things like this in my daily life, I've made sure my lemonade recipe for these particular lemons includes a determination to avoid any possibility of a to-do list falling into my possession.

And finally, Number 1. When writing a to-do list, I put every step on there. By time I'm finished writing the to-do list, it's time for bed. Then I start again in the morning. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I write things like this only much more detailed. (I'm being compassionate for those who have made it this far):

Check the laundry room for toilet paper
Check toilet paper dispenser for empty roll
Scrub the toilet (don't forget to wash the wall beside the toilet that has the dirty fingerprints)
Scrub the tub
Scrub the sink
Wipe the mirror
Sweep the floor
Yawn.... Snore....
Then make a grocery list-
And try to use it this time?
-pick up daughter from school.
Which one? You do remember you have five of them, right?
-remember to take out the dog.
But you don't have a dog.
Then substitute the words 'Devil's Advocate'! If you can't stop interrupting me with sarcastic comments, I'm going to find a paper shredder for this Top Ten List and I will never entertain even the wispiest of thoughts pertaining to writing about the damn to-do lists! Then I'll never have to ever endure you again! It's time for you to leave... that's your cue to exit stage left...
I feel compelled to point out you're typing this entry on a computer and the digital file is on an SD disc. I don't think I have to worry too much as you take forever to finish a sentence, and you also don't move too-
**Grinding sounds of shredding plastic**

QOTD: "My to-do list is so long that it doesn't have an end... it has an event horizon." ~ Craig Bruce

26 February 2013

The Faint Scent Of Understatement And Perspective...

My stove, NOT my kitchen, although I sure wish it were!
Me to Husband: "Oh, I forgot to tell you what happened this morning. Someone left one of the gas stove's burners on in the kitchen. I noticed the faintest scent of gas when I was coming down the stairs and found the smallest burner was on the lowest setting without having been lit. The scent wasn't very strong, but I still carefully opened doors and windows to help dissipate the gas in the house, turned off the burner after a couple of minutes, then waited another 15 minutes to close the doors and windows again." (it had to have been on for about two hours from the time the girls left for school and the time I came down to get something to drink)

Husband: "That could have ended badly." (hmmm, King of the understatement?)

Rachel: "Good thing you caught the scent of gas in time as your sewing room is right above the kitchen."

Husband to Rachel: "Gas is heavier than air. It settles downward... like say, to your bedroom in the basement?"

Rachel: "But hot air rises!"

**Roll of eyes**

Husband, as he walks away: "And chocolate pleases"
I had to laugh outright at that.  It's all about perspective is this house!

QOTD: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress." ~ British Airways pilot, after flying through a cloud of volcanic ash.

Note to family: I'm doing my best with the memory I have. Yes, I know I did not get the wording of this conversation down perfectly, but it's either live with it or I'll be forced to get a voice recorder and although that would make for much more interesting and numerous posts for me, it might not be better for your posterity. Let me know the decision. In the meantime I shall carry on, 'kay?
         Love, Me

24 February 2013

And Then My Life Began...

“I spent my young adult years postponing many of the small things that I knew would make me happy.…I was fortunate enough to realize that I would never have the time unless I made the time. And then the rest of my life began.” ~ Dr Chris Peterson

10 Things Happy People Do Differently

After reading this article, I've realized I have 7 of the 10 I attempt every day. Time for me to focus a little more on the other three.  What about you?

19 February 2013

Time For A Little R & R...

After a very exhausting week with little sleep, I'm going to try to finish up a few sewing projects before starting on reupholstering our two living room chairs, and making an ottoman to go with them. I've never reupholstered anything before so whether pictures will be forthcoming depends on what they look like after this first attempt.

I have a bunch of scraps to finish sewing into headbands for the daughters.  A nook cover, a sketchpad cover with handles, and a load of fabric ribbon and mosaic to make with the leftovers.

16 February 2013

The Lemon Stand Pep Talk...

Our daughter, Nicole, is about to graduate from cosmetology school with far better grades than she has ever had. I suspect this is because it is something that she really likes to do (and having 4 other sisters to practice on over the years probably didn't hurt).  Although it seems a little strange at first to have my hair done at home, I think I can honestly say that I could get used to the perks of having a daughter willing to do this for me and especially where I don't have to wait for an opening at the hairdressers (and I think Nicole appreciates the fact that I still pay her the going rates because she does still have student loans to pay off).  All of our kids have learning weaknesses and Nicole is no exception, but she has discovered her niche and overcome a lot to achieve her success.  She has worked hard and I have no doubt that she will attain whatever goal she chooses next to pursue.  I also have no doubt that she will always be successful by using this same formula of success that is uniquely Nicoles'. We could not be more proud of her.

Our daughter Rachel has started to receive college acceptance letters for art schools along with some very nice dean's scholarships for her high grade point average.  There is no doubt she is extremely talented. She has worked very hard to get where she is, although some might think her dyslexia is a major weakness, her cleverness in getting around it is one of her major strengths along with an extremely impressive work ethic. We have never had to get on her about homework.  (I have no idea where this gene she got came from. I certainly cannot claim the same drive to succeed that she has) In fact, she puts us to shame as parents in not asking often enough if she needs any help or encouragement to achieve and remain at the level she has elevated herself to.  She has done this on her own.  

How successful? Well, if you happen to be in Boston for the next month or so, some of her artwork is being shown publicly with others that have won honors with their artistic abilities from the Boston Globe's Annual Art and Writing Contest. One of her works will continue on to the national level in New York City.  (She obviously did not get this gene directly from her father or I, although her Aunt Laurie is very artistically gifted. I also see the irony in the first school to accept her was the same school my father turned down a full ride art scholarship to.)

I want to mention that our daughters Danielle and Nina are no less successful for wanting to take time off from school to figure out what direction they want to pursue. Sometimes, knowing when to take a step back and look at the big picture of where you are and where you want to be, is the best first step in figuring out how to get there.  Many people get to this point and stop indefinitely. The trick is to not give up.  Figuring out a goal and then working out how to achieve it is one of the hardest lessons in life and the harder it is to achieve, the more it is appreciated when you've arrived.  Ladies, we are no less impressed and proud of all you have done to this point.  Don't lose hope or belief in yourselves.  Keep telling yourself that you can be discouraged tomorrow after you have turned the next corner to see what it holds and if it is not all you hoped for, then keep putting one foot in front of the other because another corner is just up ahead.  You can only lose in life if you give up and if you feel you are close to that line, you need only ask yourself if you really want to give up all your hopes and dreams based on what has already happened or is it worth it to you to keep trying, no matter what.

To all of our daughters. Life is all about brick walls and how you handle them. If you come to a roadblock, you are lucky.  Roadblocks mean that you are learning and growing and gaining the knowledge necessary to learn how to get past them.  This is a good thing.  Don't ever look at a dead end as the end.  It is, only if you let it be.  It isn't, if you don't let it be. It is only a lesson, so learn it and move on.  Those who are successful look back on all those lessons as the foundation of steps it took to get to where they wanted to be.  Keep on stepping lively.  You DO have what it takes to reach for a dream and make it come true.

There have been many times in my life when I wished I had had my own cheering section. To have learned these lessons of success before I hit my 40s.  Alas, I have learned that you are never too old to make one's dreams come true or to learn that if you are making mistakes that it is a good thing, because it means that you are trying. If I never teach you anything else, the lesson I hope you all learn is that you can only fail in life if you don't try. I can guarantee it won't be easy, but I can also guarantee it will be worth it.