Sunday, January 30, 2011


My first day being 40, I swear I got an email from some lawyer asking if my replaced hip was sore and giving me problems. Really? I found four gray hairs and I'm sure there are plenty more. I turned the TV on to a commercial about bladder control. I think someone is playing tricks on me. I'm not old. 40 is not old. But, do you remember being a kid and thinking that 40 was ancient? Do you ever remember thinking that your parents were young? That they were vibrant, fun-loving people who had social lives and did great things? Probably not. You just thought of them as parents. My mom was 26 when I was born so she was 40 when I was 14. I did not think of my single mom as a lady who could date or have a drink or play tennis or have fun. I just thought of her as a woman who wore curlers to bed and liked to knit scarves and blankets. It makes me think what my kids think of me. Granted, I don't wear curlers or knit, but I do like to read in bed and fancy a nice cup of tea every night. Oh, man, I'm my mother. They look at me now like I looked at her then. Yikes. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with getting older. I'm embracing my age. I don't want to be one of those moms that shares clothes with my daughter and hangs out with her and her friends. I guess I'm just in a weird place. I'm not what I used to be and I'm not where I'm going to be. So, I'm going to celebrate my life so that my life will be something to celebrate!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Be careful, little eyes

Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see. Oh, be careful little eyes, what you see. There's a Father up above, looking down in tender love, So be careful little eyes, what you see.
You may know it from Sunday school and it sounds so cute when kids are singing it. But think about it. Be careful little eyes what you see. Be careful little ears what you hear. Be careful little mouths what you say. Be careful little hands what you touch. Be careful little feet where you go. Those words of caution mean nothing if they come from a person who doesn't practice what she preaches. I can tell my daughters a hundred times a day not to do something, but if I do it then what am I teaching them? If I curse or call a bad driver an idiot or speak sarcastically or lose my temper - how can I expect them not to do the same? How can I scold them and tell them they're doing something wrong? You can tell your children over and over what to do in life but if you don't actually live it, you're doing them an injustice. Kids don't know enough to not do the wrong things they see other people do. My parents told me not to smoke (sometimes while they were holding a cigarette) and guess what? Yup. Couldn't have been more than 10 years old lighting up cigarettes in the park. There's a song by Casting Crowns that talks about those little eyes watching us. It's called "Slow Fade" and talks about the descent to darkness, how things don't just happen in an instant. Your child won't just overnight turn into a bad student or become promiscuous or act like a bully. These things happen slowly and because of that, you have time to stop it. But you can only stop it if you recognize it in yourself. Don't expect your kids to not try drugs if you smoke marijuana. Don't expect your daughter to not sleep with her boyfriend if you move in with yours before you're married. Don't expect your son to be nice to the "nerdy" kid at school when you call your non-athletic neighbor a pansy behind his back. People never crumble in a day, say the Casting Crowns lyrics. Families never crumble in a day. You don't think about it but what you do today will affect the way your kids are when they're 15 or 30 or 50. Be careful where you walk. Those little feet behind you are sure to follow in your footsteps.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Time flies

Yesterday, my oldest daughter had a friend over. I refuse to call this a playdate. I am from a generation when you went to someone's house and "called" for them and then you hung out and played together. We just played and we found things to do. We didn't ask our moms to make schedules and lists and come up with activities. It wasn't even a thought. The little girl was here for close to eight hours and after dinner when it was time to go home, that is when they remembered all the stuff they didn't get to do. Apparently, they had worked out an agenda. It was pretty cute. Look at the turtle. Look at the crayfish. Play with the guinea pigs. Play with the kittens (yes, I have a zoo). Play in my room. Watch TV. Have a snack. Skype with friends from school. Are you kidding? Video chats is now on the schedule for playing? Somehow, the schedule went out the window. The guinea pigs stayed with them almost the entire day and then there was a surprise birthday party (for me! how lucky am I?) complete with streamers and balloons (that I blew up) and silly string. There was cooking class were pizzas were fashioned and nacho cups were created. There was some dancing and some looking through closets and emptying every drawer in the house. What was so great about it was there never once came an "I'm bored." There was no fighting. Disagreements were easily worked out. They even let the little sister play along. And then when we brought the friend home, the play continued for another hour! This is what I'm talking about - playing, hanging out, having fun, doing so much but doing nothing all at the same time. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with structure, but I think we are parenting in an age when there is just too much to do. We have color-coded calendars and charts and maps and lists and reminders chirping from our phones. Can you make some time for your kids (and yourself) to just play? To just hang out and chill out and not have a plan and just wing it and see what happens? Try it - even if it's for 15 minutes carved out of your schedule. I promise you, the time will fly!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Am I smarter than a 3rd grader?

I think the reason for the success of the show "Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader" is people like me - people who think they're pretty well-educated and pretty intelligent but really can't remember much that happened more than two decades ago. For instance, yesterday my daughter asked me on which continent is Cuba? Wait, I thought, Cuba's an island. Did they teach us which continents islands belong to? Today, she asked me about royalty. I know I could explain to her why she could be born a princess but not a queen. But then she asked how royalty started. Like, how did someone first become a king? I guess I could explain that too but that would mean a discussion about tyranny and pillaging and I don't think I want to go into that quite yet. I just think some of these questions are beyond the scope of a normal third grade education. Of course, I'm glad my kids are inquisitive, but sometimes I wish they would ask me easier stuff. Gone are the days of 'but why mama?' My kids are so far past 'why'. They need to know cause and effect. They need to understand matter and inertia and gravity. They're getting too old and smart too fast. What happened to them thinking I was the smartest person on earth? When your kids are little, they pretty much believe anything you tell them. They look at you in awe when you answer a seemingly impossible question. They are so impressed by your knowledge (or ability to BS them when you don't know the real answer). By the time they get to school, their teacher is the smartest person they know. Oh, and if you don't do something exactly the way the teacher does it or if you point out a mistake? Forget it. Your kid will knock you right off that high horse you're riding and tell you Mrs. So and So is right. And then they become tweens and teens and you become a dolt who knows nothing about fashion, relationships, music, life. Those of you with older kids know just what I'm talking about. Those with little ones don't really believe me just yet. Oh, but you will. It will happen. I hate to burst your bubble, but your child will not consider you Einstein a few years from now. Don't worry though, my fellow dolts, we'll get them back in their 20s. Once they've made all those stupid decisions and followed the wrong directions, they'll come back and tell us how smart we were and how they wished they would have heeded our words and advice when we offered it. And, if we're smart, we won't tell them "I told you so."

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I sometimes wonder if children don't really gain peripheral vision until they're grown. Or if they have some special kind of kid blinders that prevent them from seeing things beyond the six inches in front of them. I wonder this because my children don't seem to be able to see certain things. I've had their vision tested so I know they're actually able to see properly. They just can't see certain things like the dirty clothes they just walked over on the floor. They can't see the book that they're supposed to return to the school library or the guinea pig food that they're supposed to put in the bowl or the coat hook where they are supposed to hang their coat. They can't find the sink when they need a place to spit their toothpaste. They can't find the small pieces of a toy they dropped (but my foot seems to find it!) or the healthy snacks lining the pantry and the fridge. Besides the eye exam, I know they can see because they have absolutely no problem finding the remote to the TV even if it's jammed between couch cushions. They can find the chips in the pantry and anything in the fridge that has an ounce of chocolate or sugar in it. They can't find a pencil to do their homework, but they can sure find a marker to color their fingernails. They can't find clean socks or warm mittens, but they can find a bathing suit and beg to wear it outside in January. I guess, like any of the other senses, their sight is selective. They see what they want to see. Like men, they don't usually find things that are right in front of their faces. Beyond a cursory glance, kids won't make much of an effort to actually look for something. They will walk aimlessly around the house (or lay on the couch) saying "Mom, have you seen my ......" That's kid speak for "Mom, I'm too lazy to get up so could you get my .... for me?" Open your eyes children!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Where your road leads

Lately, I find myself "borrowing" the wisdom from my pastor to use in my blog. Can't help it. He's got a good message. This week made me think a lot about the paths we take. You don't always think that what you are doing right this moment has a direct impact on your life days, months or years from now. Same for your kids. When your daughter talks back to you, do you say "it's just a phase" or "it'll pass"? You think that your child will grow out of his bullying ways in 10 years? Or that the daughter listening to lewd pop music lyrics won't emulate them when she's a teen? Think again. When's the last time you knew of a person who changed? I mean, really and truly changed? If you're headed in a bad direction, that is where you will end up. The road you are on will always take you where it leads. Confusing, I know. Think of it this way. You want to go to Chicago so you leave New York and head south on I-95. Why would you be surprised that you ended up in Florida? It's not the road's fault. It's yours. You got on the path and you kept following it. Kids will follow a path and it's up to you to make sure it's straight. But if yours is all screwy, theirs will be too. "Oh, I can call my husband a jerk, but I know my kids won't." "I can roll my eyes when someone annoys me, but my son won't do that to me." "I won't tell the grocery store clerk she accidentally gave me too much change. That's not really stealing, right? But, girls, don't you put that lip gloss in your pocket unless it's paid for." See where I'm going with this? Little things mean more than you think. And that little detour or wrong turn can make you two hours late getting home. It may seem like a little bump in the road, but those little bumps will turn into a sinkhole if you don't avoid them. I hope you'll take a few minutes after you read this to think back to a mistake or bad decision you made in your life and then think even further back to what led to it. Think about a bad decision you've seen a friend or relative make. Did you see it coming all along? Did you know they were on the wrong path? Sometimes, we don't see that we're on the wrong road. We're too involved in the journey to look at the bigger picture. We're right in the middle of downtown and have no idea what the satellite picture of the map is showing us. So many of us these days use GPS to navigate our way on the road. Maybe you need to do the same in the pathways of your life.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Out of touch

I can't believe it's been nearly a month since I blogged last. Time flies, huh? Actually, my computer had a virus and crashed so I was unable to journal online. It was hard. I missed the computer. I guess I'm a bit addicted to it. I'm not some techie who likes the whole idea of gigabytes. I just like being able to use the computer to do things. I actually enjoy responding to e-mail. I like to find a recipe or craft idea in seconds and then share it with my kids. I like getting the community calendar and the weather and all that other convenient stuff that is leading to the demise of newspapers throughout the world! I didn't realize how much I used it until I had to stop using it. I forgot how easy it was to shoot an e-mail to someone at midnight instead of waiting until a decent hour to call. Or how much I like making lists in Times New Roman instead of my own handwriting. I really dig listening to Darius Rucker crooning from my computer speakers while I'm typing. Ugh. I can't believe I've become this person. Seriously, am I now at the point where I will no longer own CDs? Will I only have an iPod and an online catalog? I have been trying to resist all of that to this point. I mean it. I like opening a newspaper. I don't care if gets ink on me. I like going to the library and taking out books. I swear, if you ever see me with a kindle or a nook, please hit me with it! Anyway, the point is, being out of a touch was a good thing, I think. If I can't use the computer, I won't. Granted, I do need it to work and earn money, but I need to also realize that I should shut it down and close the doors to the computer armoire and walk away. I once read an article about a mom who did that for a week. She didn't use her computer and no one in the family was allowed to use cell phones, text, use the iPod, play video games or watch TV. Imagine, an entire week being unplugged. Okay, now that I think of it, maybe it wasn't an entire week. Maybe it was a day or two. Listen, I've seen Amish people with cell phones, so even they can't live without some kind of wireless communication! I have to say this - I know I CAN live without the computer. I don't like it, but I did it. Same with smoking. It's been three years since I quit. I hated it in the beginning. I didn't want to quit, but I did. Now I know I have the strength to be unplugged. So, every now and again, I will be.