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This Week’s Headlines #5

I must say it has been very difficult to pick through all the political headlines this week.  I’m not going to touch any of those. Why?  First of all they are way too easy to make fun of but beyond that I am not interested in posting political opinions.  I have them of course but I’m not interested in discussing/debating/arguing them.  There are billions of blogs out there for sort of thing and I’m not interested in making mine one of them.  Instead I will keep picking through the rhetoric of both sides, the latest poll results and opinion articles in search of more headlines that make me laugh.  While counting down the days until November of course….

1 – “How To Tell Whether A Designer Handbag Is Fake” – if it’s fake then it really isn’t a designer handbag is it? Do you mean “how to tell whether that handbag is designer or fake?”  At any rate I don’t really care unless I’m paying for it and…well…I don’t do “Coach”.

2 – “Biggest Eating Mistakes That Women Make” – I’m guessing chocolate is in this article somewhere.  I’m hoping “tasting while cooking” is in there so I have an excuse to quit cooking.

3 – “What Apple Won’t Say” – Buy a PC??

4 – “5 Beauty Apps You Have To Try” – Now my phone can style my hair and put on my make-up?  There really is an app for everything!!

5 – “Teens Who Smoke Pot Can Damage Memory and Intelligence” – This is news?  I have a friend or two who could have told you that 20 years ago.

6 – “‘Go Topless Day’ Seeks Equal Rights” – All things were NOT created equal – sorry.

7 – “Commuter Finds 6′ Snake Attached To Bumper” – Well I bet no one was riding his tailpipe that morning. Shudder….

8 – “Ugliest Mansions In America” – Now there’s a list you want to make.  Even if they are “ugly” they are still worth more than anything I’ll ever own.  Who am I to judge?

9 – “Bumbling NFL Refs Completely Butcher Call” – Again: This is news?  Don’t they get paid to do that?

10 – Missing Woman Joins In Search….For Herself” – Okay I’ve heard of needing to “find yourself” but really?  How does that even happen.  Shouldn’t you know who you are looking for when you join a search team?

11 – “Boy Set To CAsh In On Rare Whale Vomit” – How in the name of everything sane does someone find whale vomit?  Furthermore what determines that it IS whale vomit? Wait….I might not want to know the answer to that. Might be a good thing to keep in mind if you are ever at Sea World on the day Shamu has the stomach flu however.

12 – “What You Are Doing Wrong At Casinos” – Losing??

13 – “Wild Uses For Everyday Beauty Products” – Please. I haven’t mastered the “tame uses” yet.

14 – ” ‘Jersey Shore Hit With Cancellation” – Who says there is never anything good in the news these days?  Uh…I mean…Awww! Poor people are going to have to get real jobs now?  How very sad for them.

15 – “The Parts Of Your Body That Don’t Age Well” – Ummmm…all of them?

16 – “Make Easy Homemade Marshmallows From Scratch” – How do I know this article is by Martha Stewart? Who in their right mind makes homemade marshmallows? The words “easy” and “homemade” in most internet sentences are a lie.  You know that right?  Why don’t they be honest and title it “A Great Way to Turn Your Kitchen Into A Big Old Sticky Mess”?

17 – “Five Home Decorating Rules It Is OK To Break” – Then they really aren’t “rules” are they?  They are more like home decorating suggestions.

18 – “Pig Parasite May Help Treat Autoimmune Disorders” – Who thinks to try things like that?  Do you suddenly one day think ‘Perhaps this disgusting blood sucking thing could have some good qualities. I mean, after all, look how cute he is.  Hey – I know! Let’s get Mikey! We’ll feed it to him and see what happens!”  (20 bonus points to the person who caught the 70’s commercial reference.)

19 – “400 Pound Gorilla Statue Returned To PA Woman” – Who buys a 400 lb gorilla statue and why would anyone steal it? 400 pounds? And you didn’t hear them outside picking it up?  Really?

20 – “Go Beneath The Arctic Ice” – Is this like a new cruise you can take? It’s been a hot summer but I think I’ll pass.

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Some More Things I Don’t Get

I was home for lunch with my husband today and we were watching some of the coverage of Hurricane Isaac on The Weather Channel.  As I listened to the wind-gusted reporter talk about how they were evacuating the people behind him the only thought in my head was, “So you are standing there…..why?”  I’m all about being dedicated to your job but come on! We don’t need to see you blow across the street and get slammed into the side of the building to prove this is a nasty storm.  We believe you.  Some days I think advancements in technology are just not all that wonderful.

Before I got home for lunch I stopped at the post office.  While waiting in line I noticed a sign attached to the front of the counter.  “Please Do Not Place Children On The Counter.”  So much for shipping the kids to Grandma’s house.  It kind of reminded me of the big signs on the diaper changing stations that read, “Do Not Leave Child Unattended.”  What? You mean this isn’t a “child docking” place for me to use so I can shop in peace?  What a let down.

The other day my husband and I went out for lunch.  It has always disturbed me to see the signs in restaurant restrooms reminding workers that they have to wash their hands before returning to handle food.  There is just something unsettling about people who need to be reminded of that simple sanitation rule making my salad for me.  EW!  This week I was even more bemused to find another sign posted on the mirror with explicit instructions (including pictures) on HOW to wash your hands.  1 – turn on the water. 2. – get hands wet…… No. I’m not kidding.  Do you suppose this sign is for all the employees who didn’t graduate from Kindergarten??  Keep them away from my salad please.

While pumping gas I started reading the warning sign on the gas pump.  (Hey – I was bored.)  One of the instructions was “Do not hold nozzle next eyes or nose.”  Seriously? People need to be told that?

Exiting the automatic car wash I noticed the large unit that runs the dryer. It has an electrical cord as big as my arm running into it and a large sign that says, “Warning: Disconnect Power Source Before Servicing Unit”  I’m sorry but if your service man isn’t smart enough to know he needs to do that first you might want to rethink letting him anywhere near your equipment.  How bright can he be?

Finally, my friend posted this on Facebook last night:

This one had me pondering things for quite a while.  Do you suppose they order their stock from  the commercials?  If I check out in the next 15 minutes will they double my order for free?  Do I have to pay an extra processing fee for multiple items? If I am one of the first 30 customers will they throw in a free lint remover?  Why don’t I see any Ginsu Knives? (I’ve always had a secret desire to cut a pop can in half with my kitchen knives.)  Are those Forever Lazys all lined up there? (How cool would it be to cut a pop can in half while wearing an adult blanket sleeper???) What if I missed some really exciting commercial and I don’t have the one product that will revolutionize my life? Oh. Wait.  I can find the “as seen on tv” stuff just about anywhere.  Never mind. Guess I won’t be running to this mall after all.  What a bummer.

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Road Rage?

I have never been in a car accident in my life.  Nope not even a fender bender.  Never gotten a ticket either.  My kids will tell you that it is because I drive like an old lady.  I tell them that I drive like a woman with low insurance rates. In all honesty I drive like someone who has never gotten caught.  I do try to behave myself but I have never met a person who doesn’t space out at some point and do something stupid.  I’m just thankful that my space out moments never came in from of a police officer.  All of that to say,  I consider myself  a pretty good driver.  Living in a town of not so good drivers.  This  has never been as apparent to me as it was this morning.

I usually don’t have to take our younger daughter to school because she rides with her sister.  I am especially thankful for this fact because driving around that high school before and after school scares me quite frankly.  I have often said that every good parent should figure out a way to be in the school parking lot prior to their child arriving in the morning just so they can see how their kid drives when parents aren’t looking.  I also think it’d be good for the kids to come squealing up and – ta da! – there’s Mom!  I’m digressing however.  Because of an un-shared early morning meeting on Tuesdays I have to take our younger daughter to school on those days.  After today I may make her get a bus pass.  Wait.  Our town doesn’t run buses. Never mind.  But I think we need to come up with something.

As we entered the street adjacent to the school I already knew I was going to get annoyed.  Why?  1 – People park on both sides of this narrow little street leaving the width of a bowling lane down the middle. I hate playing chicken with large trucks early in the morning.  2. – The kid behind me’s subwoofers were hurting MY ears and I had my windows rolled up. 3 – Teenagers have no concept that blinkers are useful and stop signs mean “Stop”.  As I pulled up behind the school to drop off our daughter I also accessed that teenagers have no concept that crossing the street in front of cars could result in you getting killed.  I think they rather enjoy seeing if their “peeps” will run them over.  If that is enjoyable to you then far be it from me I guess. The problem with all this frolicking is that it slows down the mother trying to pull back into traffic and get her younger child to his school on time.

I finally negotiated the often scary street behind the school and proceeded to the often scarier street that runs in front of the school.  Now in theory this street should be easier because it is double-laned, contains a stop light and is supposedly where most parents drop off their children so you should only have to be dealing with adult drivers. (Like that is better sometimes?  Not!)   The problem with that theory is that the sophomores also park in that lot.  You know.  The kids who just got their licenses.  The ones who have driven alone for something like 10 minutes. The other flaw is that the older kids are driving there to get to the back of the school and their parking lot.  They’ve driven longer than 10 minutes but I’m not sure you’d recognise that fact.  This morning, for example, I heard a very loud car approaching quickly in the lane next to me. Very loud cars are not uncommon around a high school.  I mean after all if you are forced to drive an 80’s style Ford Taurus that is the color of well….dirt…you are still cool as long as it sounds tough. Right? That’s the only thing I could surmise.  As Mr. “Teen Needs A Muffler” came flying by me on the right I noticed that Mrs. “I Need To Drink More Coffee Before I Drive My Kids To School” came pulling out of the school parking lot. She must have thought that yield sign applied to the people coming at her.  Mr. “TNAM” who was driving about 10 miles over the speed limit decided to swerve out of the way while laying on his horn.  I know that it’s a lot of work to honk, gesture and drive at the same time which might explain why he didn’t bother to look to see if there was someone in the lane next to him.  There was – ME. Luckily I was enough behind him I got stopped before he wildly careened around “Sleepy Mom” and turned the corner at the same time. This mom shook her head, said a little prayer of thanks and pondered aloud if I shouldnt have looked at purchasing an armoured vehicle instead of a small SUV. Muttering about people’s driving skills, I got as far from the school as quickly as legally possible.

Not that it helped.  You see people are still driving across town to get their kids to the various schools in town.  People who either are not awake or shouldn’t be licensed.  I’m not sure which.  Perhaps it’s just that once you enter a school zone all the regular traffic rules no longer apply.  Perhaps I missed that in fine print somewhere in the driver’s manual.  Perhaps people are just bad drivers.  I’m not sure but by the time I got across town to our son’s school I was working on getting cranky.  As another parent pulled up next to me and proceeded to let out her four very small very slow children out – IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET – I slid past cranky to annoyed.  As I got to the corner intersection and found myself waiting for the drop-off line of the cross street to move so that the woman with the 15 passenger van could move out of the middle of the intersection where she stopped to wait I have to admit that something about cousins marrying each other and having children may have come out of my mouth.  Finally released from the chasm of the school zone I figured I was home free.  Straight on to work.  Or not.

I have to drive by our local grocery store to get to my place of employment.  I had forgotten this morning that Tuesdays are what my husband lovingly refers to as “Blue Hair Day” at that store. On Tuesdays not only do senior citizens get 5% off of their grocery order they also get discounted breakfast and coffee in the eating area of the store.  Great marketing isn’t it?  Not if you aren’t a senior citizen it isn’t.  As I approached the entrance to the store TWO cars pulled out in front of me at the same time. The older gentleman headed the opposite direction as I and the older lady headed the same direction.  At least I think it was an older lady.  I couldn’t actually see a head above the headrest of the car.  I’m pretty sure neither one of these “experienced” drivers heard all the car horns blaring at them. I didn’t bother. Why spook the woman who was now in front of me going 5 miles an hour.  I was about to switch lanes (finally clear!) when she swerved – blinkerless – into the gas station owned by the same store.  One can only assume that she wanted to use her 10 cent off receipt in addition to her 5% off to fill up her 30 year old Buick.  That wouldn’t have bothered me so much if it hadn’t been for the fact that while she was swerving IN to the gas station two more discount-seekers swerved OUT of the station again right in front of me and again going opposite directions.  Thankfully I hadn’t picked up much speed from the 5 miles per hour I was going behind the headless Buick but the people hauling it in the other lanes were. Again horns blared. Again I’m pretty sure the people at whom they were intended didn’t hear them.  White knuckled and muttering about people’s civic duty being to take away their parents’ keys at a certain age or driving ability, I made it the rest of the way to work without further incident.  I almost kissed the parking lot.

As I settled into work I decided that I’m glad I don’t have a permit to carry a concealed weapon.  This morning I’d have probably had an accident trying to pull it out of its hiding place.  No not really. What I realized was as irritating as my morning commute was I really didn’t have road rage.  It was more like road irritation.  That might be because this line kept running through my head:

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She Really Is Paying Attention

I love this picture.  Love the ideal that it portrays.  A dutiful mother teaching her daughter all the things she is going to need to know when she grows up.  It’s lovely.  It also has no relation to my life what so ever.  First of all I don’t think I even own an apron and even if I did I wouldn’t look that good in it. I do know I would never let anyone snap a picture of me if my hair looked like that. Beyond that, I have often felt like I haven’t done a very good job purposefully teaching my daughters.  It might have something to do with the fact that I feel like my girls roll their eyes at me and don’t pay attention when I speak half the time. (Ok – a quarter of the time.) Or it might have something to do with the fact that my life resembled something a little more like this:

Whatever the reason it’s amazing how once in a while something happens to show you that you aren’t as far off course as you’d thought.

Saturdays are “Catch-up clean up” days at our house for the most part.  If we don’t have commitments anywhere else we generally spend Saturdays working together as a family to get things done around the house. This Saturday was no exception.  On top of the usual stuff it was “last Saturday of the month I better be able to see the carpet in your room when I come up there” day. After our regular Saturday clean-up tasks were done the kids began shoveling out their rooms.  I began the laundry (I had NO IDEA my girls owned that many shirts) and started working in the kitchen.  As I was sticking a cake in the oven our oldest daughter, who turns 18 this coming Friday, walked in the kitchen to inform me that her room was clean and wanting to know if I was going to have time to finish off some lessons with her.

This summer I’ve had the privilege of working with her on “Girl’s Only” materials.  Girl’s Only is a discipleship club aimed at high school age girls that was offered through our church.  Unfortunately the woman who had been working with our daughter the past three years was unable to finish it off with her so in order to complete the lessons “Mom” had to step in to help.  We’ve had a lot of fun and some of the discussions have been really good.  We’ve covered material ranging from what we believe to be Truth and how to  handle peer pressure to personal appearance and preparing for college.  Although it’s taken a chunk of my time I am so glad I’ve had the opportunity to do this with her.  I don’t know that I would have purposefully set aside the time to talk through some of it with her otherwise.

I swiftly calculated the tasks I had left to accomplish and how long they would take and told her that I thought I was have time as soon as I got a few more things done.  She stood in the kitchen and watched as I began browning hamburger while I took some chicken I had cooked the night before off of the bone.  “What are you making?” she asked. “Well they had chicken on sale yesterday so I cooked it last night. Once I get it all off of the bone I am going to freeze it in 2 cup bags so I have it for casseroles and soup and stuff like that later on.”  “Oh.”  She stood and watched while we chatted a little. Then she asked “So….what’s the hamburger for?”  I explained, “I’m going to make Runzas with part of it as soon as I’m done with the chicken.”  “Oh.” she said,  “Is that what we’re having for dinner tonight?”   “No.” I replied. “I’m freezing those for later this week when everyone is running on a different schedule and we have to eat a different times.  We’re having tacos tonight.”  She looked at me funny, “So you are browning the taco meat now?”  “No.” I said, “The hamburger for the tacos is in the refrigerator.  I bought hamburger in bulk yesterday so I’m browning the rest of this to freeze already done for things like homemade pizza and spaghetti sauce. I’ll make some of it into hamburger patties and then freeze the rest in 2 pound packages.”  Her eyes got big. “Oh.  Do you do this all the time?”  I grinned at her, “Not all the time but the more I can get done ahead of time when I do have extra time the easier it is for me during the weekdays when I don’t have as much time.”  She smiled at me and said, “Don’t tell anyone, but you’re kinda smart Mom.””  “Nah.” I said, “I’ve just been doing this a long time.”  She helped me finish my kitchen tasks while running back and forth to switch loads of laundry. Productive day at our home.

As we sat down later that afternoon to begin working on her Girl’s Only material I asked her what the next two units were.  She started laughing. “Time Management and Home Management.  Do you think we’ve already covered that today?”  I looked at her and smiled.  She might as well have handed me a crown. Perhaps she has been paying attention all along.

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Kid Quotes #7

Jakob and I were “negotiating” a chore in exchange for something you want deal. When both of us were satisfied with the terms I stuck out my hand and said, “Deal?”  He said, “I like hugs better Mom.”  Yep.  He’s still my little schmoozer.

Trying to get our kids adjusted to school schedules has been a process.  One night as I was chasing Jakob to bed he said, “I just don’t feel like I’ve spent enough time with you today Mom.  You are so fun to be around.” Me: “Jakob are you trying to get me to let you stay up later?” J: “Maaaaybe.” Me: “It isn’t going to work.” J: “It was worth a shot.”  Told you he was a schmoozer.

Brittnie was working on homework from one of her 3 AP classes this year and filling me in on her busy schedule for the next few weeks. Me: “What? You don’t have an overacheivers meeting this week?” B: “They closed that club at our school. I’m thinking of re-starting it though.”

Both girls were bickering about something silly. Jakob walked into the kitchen where I was and informed me, “Mom you don’t want to go in there. Trust me.”

Jakob was showering when suddenly we heard him blowing water out of his mouth. Me: “Was that Jakob?”  both girls, giggling, “Yes.” Me: “Did he just sound like a porpoise or was it just me?” B: “You don’t thing he’s developed a blow-hole in his back do you??”   Me: “Apparently he already has one.”  L: “Eeeeeewwwwwww! Mom!” Yeah. I wasn’t talking about what she thought I was talking about.

Jakob and Lyndsie were giving each other a hard time when it started to get a little more vicious. Me: “Let’s use our kind words children!” (Using my best Barney impression of course) J: “Those ARE our kind words!” Me: “Then you need to find new ones.” L: “Sorry. How about, ‘You are without intelligence.’ Is that better?”  Well at least it sidetracked them for a moment right?

Brittnie, who does not have a twitter account, found out that one of her “friends” had tweeted some not so nice things about her knowing that she wouldn’t see them.  Well she did. And she wasn’t happy. Me: “Sticks and stones may break your bones but tweets can never hurt you.” B: “Right. Tell that to Gabby Douglas.”

Every day after school Jakob asks me what we are having for dinner. When I tell him and it is something he likes he says, “Yeeeessssss!” in a quiet hiss-like voice.  One afternoon he didn’t do that. Me: “What? No yeeessssss today? You don’t like what we’re having?” J: “You can’t nail it every day Mom.”

Yesterday was a rough day at our house. Brittnie got a part in the musical at the high school, Lyndsie did not. One daughter excited, one daughter crying.  Brittnie, who worked right after school until 10pm, arrived home with cheesecake for her little sister. Hugging her she said, “Here Bugs. Nothing is so bad that cheesecake can’t fix it.” Sweet. And so true.

After the cheesecake as we were talking Brittnie was trying to downplay her part. “Think about it. I got the ‘anyone can do this part so let’s give it to a poor senior who has never gotten a line’ part. It just means I won the butt-kissing contest.” Me: “Brittnie quit downplaying your part. We’re excited for you. Lyndsie is excited for you, she’s just sad she doesn’t get to be in it with you. She loves you you know.” L: “Mom! You aren’t supposed to tell her that! It’s a secret!”  Yeah. She was feeling better by that time.  Must have been the cheesecake.

Going to bed last night Brittnie asked if we had anything to do this morning or if she could sleep in. Me: “Define sleep in.” From the living room, Jakob: “One?” Me: “Uh no. That’s a little late don’t you think?” J: “You said define it not tell you what time we wanted to sleep until.”  Caught by my own words….again.  They are masters at it.

 

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This Week’s Headlines #4

I must admit it was hard to wade through all the headlines this week about a certain prince from the United Kingdom and his weekend in Las Vegas.  Poor guy. What happens in Vegas is supposed to stay in Vegas.  Guess that doesn’t apply when you are famous and someone has a camera phone.  For the record I am not interested in what the young man did in his private room on vacation. If this constitutes news, people really need to get a life.  While I’m on the subject of people needing to get a life I also noticed several headlines about a young man from Alaska suing for custody of his son.  Again – who cares? Aren’t his 15 minutes of fame up yet? Apparently not.  Okay – on to the other headlines that caught my eye:

1. “A Look At Anti-Zombie Fortresses” – Seriously?  They make those?  Should I put that in the back yard next to the bomb shelter?

2. “When Cats Get Grumpy” – How can you tell?

3. “Homes Elvis Would Love” – Didn’t know he was in the market for a house. Furthermore is this a positive selling point? I guess if you are into gold and guitar-shaped things….

4. “What Does Eating 1,200 Calories A Day Look Like?” – Not much. I’m guessing chocolate isn’t included.

5. “What 46% Of All Women Lie To Their Partners About” – Well I guess that isn’t going to work any more. By the way no one called me to ask.  Where do they come up with their percentages anyway?

6. “Couple Weds 23 Times In 15 Countries” – Hope it sticks this time.

7. “Exclusive: Sports Agent Accused Of Sneaky Dealings” – Exclusive? Seriously? Next you are going to have the exclusive scoop that the sun comes up in the morning.

8. “School Lunch Workers Learn Coaching Skills” – Wouldn’t cooking skills be more helpful?

9. “Fairytale Hair Isn’t Hard To Create” – As long as you have a magic wand.  What is fairytale hair anyway? Does it require a pen and paper?

10. I only found this funny because these two headlines were grouped together: “Back To School Hazards” followed by “Light Cocktail Recipes” – Yep. Sounds about right.

11. “How The Spice Girls Stay In Shape” – Why do I foresee a ‘Spice Workout’ video being marketed soon? Sigh….

12. “NJ Casino Sues Gamblers Who Won 1.5 Million” – Sore losers?

13. “Nepali Man Bites Snake To Death For Revenge” – Ever heard of an ax, buddy? Knife? Gun? Anything but your MOUTH? EW!

14. “Fast Food Causes Car Crash” – Why not? We blame fast food for everything else. See? It is bad for your health.

15. “Norway Killer Sane When He Committed Crimes” – now I guess that would depend on your definition of ‘sane’.

16. “Why You Are Feeling Poor” – Ummm…..might have something to do with your bank account.  Or the grocery store. Or both. Just guessing.

17. “New Rat Has Fangs” – I could have gone the rest of my life without knowing that.

18. “Is Pagent Mom An Unfit Parent?” – If she’s on that reality show I’m going to guess yes. Just sayin…..

19. “Robbers Busted After Writing Thank You Note” – Well I guess we all know they’ll be out early for good behavior.

20. “Biggest Parenting Lies” – Are those the lies you tell as a parent (“I have no idea what happened to that popsicle stick creation you worked on all day yesterday.”) or the ones people tell you about parenting (“It gets easier when they get older.”)??

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A Little Understanding For The Folks Behind The Counters

I had to go to the post office today over my lunch break.  When I arrived there was only one person ahead of me – SCORE!  I was excited that I’d caught a day without a line and took my place behind the blue line to wait for my turn. The older gentleman already at the counter in front of me was mailing several packages.  He was demanding, loudly, that the poor frazzled clerk check every rate to ensure that he was getting the cheapest postage possible and scolding her for the fact that it costs so much to mail anything now a days. “I can remember when it only cost 2 cents to mail something….” “The service isn’t any better now than it was in 1952….”  Really sweet little fella.  My heart went out to the poor clerk who was trying to as polite as possible while still being efficient. She was the only one working the counter at the time.  I’m pretty sure she was wishing she’d traded lunch breaks with someone else and missed Mr. Happy all together.  I have to hand it to her that she handled it well. I’d have choked the guy. Clerk: Is there anything flammable or fragile in this package.” Mr. H: “Well I don’t want it broken if that’s what you are asking!” Clerk: “No sir. We wouldn’t break anything on purpose.  I just need to know if it needs to be marked fragile.” Mr. H: “Does that cost more?  It shouldn’t cost more. You should be careful with everything.”  Yeah.  I don’t think today would be a good day to ask her if she loved her job. I was ready to kill him and I wasn’t even dealing with him.   As I stood there in disbelief I was reminded of an incident I witnessed earlier this summer.

A few months ago I had to take a trip to our county courthouse to re-license one of our vehicles. I put this chore somewhere after get a root canal and before severing a limb on my “fun things to do” list but it has to be done.  I walked into the courthouse expecting the usual line but was pleasantly surprised that there were very few people there.  As I cheerfully walked over to the Treasurer’s office window I heard a gentleman across the way at the County Clerk’s counter.  I’m pretty sure everyone in town heard the gentleman standing at the Clerk’s counter because he wasn’t using his quiet inside voice.  He was very loudly explaining to the poor woman behind the window that our county seems to have an inordinate number of incompetent judges and attorney and how the constitution allowed we the people to do something about that in November. I can only assume that his morning in civil court hadn’t ended in a way he had anticipated. The more he talked the louder he got and trust me he had a lot to say.  I looked over at the poor girl working behind the counter.  She kind of resembled a deer caught in headlights. Afraid to move and yet wanting to flee.  As I paid for our registration and license the lady waiting on me from the treasurer’s office muttered, “Boy I’m glad I don’t work over there today!”  I laughed and said, “No, but I suppose you get your share of chewing out .”  She smiled at me and said, “Why do you think we put in the bullet proof glass. It’s to protect the people on THAT side of the counter.”  I laughed and told her to have a good afternoon, my respect level rising for anyone who has to work behind a counter.

Our oldest daughter works at a grocery store in town.  Not long ago she came home and told us about her day at work. Apparently there are only certain types of beans that the W.I.C. program allows you to purchase with their checks.  The store’s computer is programmed to know what the limits are and what is available to purchase. The people checking you out don’t program the computer nor do they make the rules for the program.   That particular day the woman who was trying to purchase the incorrect type of beans with her W.I.C. check wasnt aware that the cute red-headed clerk wasn’t trying to be difficult. She can only do what her register will let her do. (By the way – NO – she isn’t too dumb to make change without her register’s help.  That’s such a pleasant stereotype.)  Many swear words and a manager’s assist later “Mrs. W.I.C.” departed after letting my daughter know exactly what she thought of her, the management and the store in general.  My chipper little daughter shrugged it off but I kind of felt sorry for her.  It isn’t any fun to be the target of frustrated people. That seems to happen a lot to people who work check-out.  It all makes me wonder how often I think a clerk is incompetent or slow and in reality they are just tired of dealing with grumpy people?  How often am I one of the grumpy people?

As I finally walked up to the post office counter today the clerk said to me, “I am SO sorry you had to wait so long!” (How often do you hear THAT at a post office??) I smiled at her and said, “It’s ok. It certainly wasn’t your fault.”  She stopped, cocked her head and looked at me. “You know,” she said, “you might just be the first person who has ever said that to me.” I smiled at her and said, “Well I’m glad someone said it to you .” took my stamps and wished her a better afternoon.  As I walked out I remembered again my new goal to be nice to people working behind counters.  You never know what they’ve dealt with before you got there.  You could just become the bright spot in their day. Or you could become the thing that ruins their day. The person the talk about when they come home from work.  The choice is yours.

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Mom Skills You Never Knew You Would Need

I have often said my life would be easier if my children had come with a set of instructions.  Not that I have ever followed instructions in my life but it would be nice to know that there was something there in which to refer if I’d wanted.  I know the “holy” reply to my last statement is “There is an instruction book for parenting: The Bible” which is true and a really nice thing to say but not what I’m getting at.  No where in Scripture is there a warning that you are going to spend night after night after night walking around with a teething baby who will turn around in six short years and be proud as they pull those teeth out of their head.  Then you get to act happy for them AND pay  for the tooth when all you can think of are the hours they spent crying and throwing up on you to get the silly things to pop through their gums.  I’m talking about those kind of instructions.   Not the “How To Be The Best Parent In The World” books – I’m not interested in those. Those are written by people who are a little too perfect for me.  Besides my children never read those books so they never knew that if I used a particular parenting skill on them they were supposed to react in a specific way.  (wait – maybe they DID read those books just so they could do the opposite of what  the book said they should do.) I would just like some practical instructions on occasion.  A little good information to make life a little easier.

I will never forget starting out as a mother.  I listened intently as they taught me how to bathe our newborn son and how to wrap him snugly.  All those things a first time mother needs to know.  I figured between the things they showed me and the fact that I was a loving person who knew how to cook and clean and rock and cuddle I’d be fine as a mother.  I was delusional. I had no idea of the hidden skills I was going to need to learn.  Things like:

1. – The ability to fish a pony bead out of a three-year-old’s nose with a tweezers. Gross, but it happens.

2. – The skill to string pads into football pants when older brothers and dads are not available to do it.  This is after you’ve had the joy of washing those stinky things.

3. The organizational genius to pick up one kid from volleyball practice at the same time you are dropping off another one at football practice AND making dinner at the same time.  (If you’ve mastered this could you let me know?? I’m looking for help here….)

4. The ability to fix ANY toy that has broken by the time the broken-hearted child wakes up in the morning. (Thank you 24 hour stores….)

5. The skill to save the goldfish out of the sink drain without panicking OR letting your child know you just dropped their pet down there.

6. The ability not to panic or puke before saying, “I think that might need some stitches.”

7. The ability to keep a straight face as your adorable child does something totally naughty.  Hilariously funny….but naughty.

8. The restraint to resist the urge to say “Good then my job here is done!” as your dramatic child informs you that you have ruined their life.

9. The ability to see those imaginary friends and include them in your conversations while making sure they have a snack.

10. The patience to watch the same video over and over while holding a feverish child on your lap.

11. The creative ability to call food whatever sounds fun in order to get your kids to taste it.

12. The scrubbing power to remove crayon from any surface, nail polish from your kitchen table and permanent marker from clothing.

13. The ability to read the same bedtime story for the 1,425,322nd time (because it’s our favorite) and STILL make it sound exciting. (“Mom you aren’t doing the voices right!!”)

14. The skill to unclog a vacuum that has consumed one too many legos or Barbie shoes or necklaces or…..

15. The grace to act surprised by your Mother’s Day breakfast after your children have been busy in the kitchen for an hour. Noisy and busy.

16. The ability to keep a straight face as your teenager informs you they have life figured out.

17. The restraint to not sob until after you’ve left the dorm building on move-in day.

18. The humor to laugh at the same knock-knock joke you’ve heard a hundred times before.

19. The wisdom not to ask what happened to the lamp.

20. The diplomatic skill to keep all of them from killing each other while silently wondering if you shouldn’t just let them have at it.

Ok…those just came rolling off the top of my head.  I’m sure there many, many more Mom Skills which are required but forgotten after you check them off.  Feel free to share any that you’ve discovered along the way. I’d love to hear them.  Meanwhile, I found these helpful instructions on-line today.  Thought I’d share:

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Just Slow Down

Have you ever noticed that there are some things we expect to be fast and get annoyed when they aren’t and there are some things that we expect to be slow and get just as annoyed when they go fast?  Example?  I want the week days to go by fast and then want the weekend to go slow.  Life there is a difference in 24 hours.  They should go slower on my days off right?  Like we could enter a time warp sort of things on Friday evening.  Yeah.  I’d like that.  Sorry – back on track: I want my internet connection and computer to be fast so I can get things done but I want my coffee pot to slow drip so it tastes better.  I expect the person I’m driving behind to go faster (well….at least the speed limit) but I’d like the person darting in and out of traffic to slow down.  I couldn’t wait to grow up – the years couldn’t go fast enough – and now that my kids are getting older I want it to slow down.  Amazing how that works isn’t it?  The older I get the more I realize that I really am not built for speed.  Never was that more evident than yesterday.

Arriving home from school with our youngest in tow I was tired.  I’m still trying to adjust to our back-to-school schedule and when you add “Monday” to that…well…you get the picture.  There’s another thing I’d like to see slow down: summer vacation. It goes too fast. I wasn’t really cranky per se, just kind of felt slow and dopey.  As our son sat eating his after school snack I noticed that he has reverted back to his “chew at the speed of sound” habit.  I blame schools and their 15 minute lunch periods for this.  If a kid wants to actually eat their food during the lunch time alloted they have to chew like a rabbit on speed to eat it all.  Instead of teaching our lunch ladies how to help kids make healthy choices why don’t we extend lunch time a little so that kids could actually chew slowly and taste their food?  Maybe we could give their stomachs the chance to realize they are full and not instill a habit that is hard to break at home?  Sigh.  Oops. Sorry.  I digressed again.  At any rate I reminded him that he was not in an eating contest so it was appropriate to slow down and savor his snack.  I’m sure that I’ll continue to do that for the rest of the school year.  See? Not built for speed eating.  I don’t think it’s good for you.

Our daughters arrived home a short time later. I was trying to finish something on the computer while they sat at the table behind me telling their dad about their day. They’d had a good day.  Or at least I think they did because they seemed to be excited about it. Or maybe they just seemed excited because of the way they were talking. At 150 miles per hour.  That was the slow speed.  Now I admit that I was only about half listening to the first part of the conversation.  I was trying to concentrate on what I was doing so their chatter was background music in my already slow-moving brain.  Until someone said. “Right Mom?”  I hate it when they catch me like that.  Not paying attention to what they are saying and then suddenly put in the spot to answer a question.  In my defense I wasn’t pretending to be listening at the time. My back was turned.  They just assumed that because I am their mother who can hear them whisper argue upstairs and yell at them for it that I was following along the conversation.  I wasn’t.  I’m also not dumb enough to agree to something that I didn’t hear.  Too much experience there.  That NEVER works.  I turned around and said, “Huh?”  Now here is where the story gets scary.  Well to me anyway.

Our older daughter launched into her explanation of the conversation to which I hadn’t been paying attention.  She did it at her usual speed: fast.  Teenage girl fast. I can usually follow her because, well, I WAS a teenage girl  Was being the key word in that sentence.  Looking at my lovely daughter talking  and throwing her hands about to punctuate her points it occurred to me that I was not tracking.  In my head it  kind of  sounded like the teacher from Peanuts was talking.  You remember her:

Wel….sort of like her.  You’d have to speed it up to fast forward and raise the octave.  Kind of picture the Chipmunks playing the part of Charlie Brown’s Teacher.  Yeah.  That would be it.  I wasn’t getting a thing and I was TRYING to listen that time.  I stopped her 150 mph speech with my hand and said, “Wait. What?  Could you do that again but slower and in English this time?”  Now I know I was tired and probably wasn’t tracking the best but I didn’t think my request was unreasonable.  She wasn’t making sense.  To me anyway.  Then my younger daughter looked at me surprised and said, “Mom.  What is wrong with you? I understood every word of that!”  Figures. They have hardly agreed on anything for fourteen years but suddenly they speak the same language.  The one that comes out of their mouths at the speed of light. It’s the language of teenage girls and I’m afraid I’ve gotten too old to comprehend it any longer. It was a sad moment in my life.  Not only was I out of “the club”, I’m pretty sure I looked a little like this….

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It’s In The Closet!

We experienced a miracle at our house this past week.  Well maybe not a miracle in the traditional definition of miracles. Maybe it was more like a shocking event. Or a once in a lifetime happening.  That’s probably more accurate.  What was this phenomenon? Our 14-year-old thoroughly cleaned her room AND closet.  I know that sounds like a common every day occurrence for most people.  It may even be a required weekly happening at your home.  I tried to make it a required weekly happening at our home for many years and then I gave up. Well I kind of gave up. What I did was come to the conclusion that beating my head against the wall was less painful so I let  up. I relaxed.  Life is too short to spend all of my waking time nagging my children.  I have cut back to part-time nagging. It’s worked out pretty well for all of us but it led to the closet disaster in our younger daughter’s room.

Our children’s rooms are all upstairs and there is nothing else up there.  No reason to go upstairs unless you are going to one of their rooms.  Because of this, I have to CHOOSE to look at their rooms.  I decided to quit choosing.  The general rules around here are pretty easy: 1 – no fire hazards. This means no candles, extension chords that haven’t been approved by electrical dad or anything else flammable upstairs. 2. – You must be able to get OUT of your room in case of a fire. 3. – My stuff does not go upstairs.  My stuff is defined as towels, dishes or – by penalty of death – my tweezers or fingernail clippers. 4. –  If I start smelling a foul odor from that level of the house and have to come investigate you will not be happy with the results of my investigation. I will throw out anything that looks like trash.  Lots of things look like trash to me. 5. – The “family areas” of the home are not storage places for your misplaced items.  If it is still downstairs when you retire for the evening then it belongs to ME. You will pay by cash or chore to recover it. 6. – We do not replace items ruined because you did not take care of them. You break it – you replace it. 7. – I cannot do laundry that I do not see. If you want it washed get it down to the hamper on laundry day.  Otherwise I taught you how to use the washing machine. 8 – Once a month you WILL clean your room and I WILL come look after you are done.  See? Simple.  I’m pretty easy to get along with, no?  My conclusion is that their rooms are their space and they have to learn, somehow, to take care of things without my following them around. Besides I don’t have to look at the mess. It’s a win/win.  Unless you looked in our 14-year-old’s closet.

Our younger daughter, bless her heart, has always been “tidy-room-challenged.” When she was little I would go up to her room at “clothes change” season twice a year.  On those days not only would we switch her clothes I would meticulously help her clean and re-organize her room.  So that she could mess it all up over the next 6 months. It wasn’t that she meant to.  It’s that she simply got overwhelmed by her stuff all the time.  She didn’t know what to do with it so she would shove it in the closet.  I’d tell her to clean her room so she’d shove everything in the closet.  She’d hear me coming up the stairs and she’d shove stuff in the closet.  She’d “borrow” things from her siblings and then hide them in the closet so they wouldn’t know she had them.  She’s get tired of toys so she’d put them in the closet. She’d put clothes on decide they didn’t fit so she’d – say it with me – shove them in the closet.  Have I mentioned that her closet isn’t really that big?  So every six months I’d get frustrated, she’d cry, we’d shovel out the closet and start the cycle all over again.  Then she got older and didn’t need my help switching clothes for the season.  Use your imagination. The closet quit getting shoveled twice a year. Or ever.  Her closet became notorious.   If she couldn’t find something the response was automatically, “It’s probably in your closet.”  Something disappear in the house? “It’s got to be in Lyndsie’s closet!”  Missing persons report in the newspaper? “Did anyone check Lyndsie’s closet?”  You get the drift.

This past week my little closet stuffing pack rat decided she could no longer stand it.  Either that or she figured out that neither her organized mother and older sister were going to bail her out any longer.  She declared that she was going to clean her room AND her closet before school started last week.  I must admit I was skeptical.  Until I came home from work to find her hauling down bags of trash. Old backpacks. Lost school supplies.  Long forgotten Polly Pockets. Her old tea set.   Stuffed animals that were no longer being hugged.  Clothes.  Lots of clothes. Suddenly I was a little sad.  I kind of felt like her childhood was being carted out in bags. Lots of bags.  Some to throw out and some to donate.  A few to give to friend’s little girls.  It’s the end of an era.  When I asked her why she suddenly decided to part with all her old things she looked at me seriously and said, “We’re moving next year.  You keep saying if we don’t use it we aren’t moving it.  I figured I’d get a head start.”  It’s one of those moments you realize your kids really are listening even though it doesn’t seem like it.  She got it.  She’s ready to move on.  I only cried for a minute or two.  My baby girl is growing up.

Arriving home later that night she informed her older sister that her closet was finally cleaned and organized.  “You’re kidding.” daughter #1 said. “Hey! Did you find the Chilean miners in there??”  “Yes.” Daughter #2 replied, “They were right under all that underwear I outgrew.”

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