Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Say What?!

As children, didn't we all make a list of things we would never say when we grew up to become parents?  Things like, "Because I said so."  Well, I had a list.  And I may have kept to some of those things, but over the years I have found myself saying all kinds of crazy things that I could never have imagined coming up in normal conversation.  Things like:

Quit eating money.  We save pennies,  we don't swallow them!

I had thought that went without saying.  I was wrong. 

The toilet plunger is not a microphone.

But, if you almost close your eyes and let your eyesight blur, it does kind of resemble one.

Awesome.  I can sound just like Max AND Ruby!

After endless hours of watching Max and Ruby on Nick Jr. I found out that I could do a really good imitation of the little rabbits when reading aloud their Easter book to my son.

Please, don't pee on Grandma's head!

To long a story to get into.  I do have a picture of my naked baby boy sitting on my mom's shoulders, though.  She is laughing, but it all could have turned ugly in an instant.

The dingo took your koala bear.

O.k.  Not a dingo.  Just our dog and a stuffed animal.

And this is just a few years in.  Can't wait to see what crazy sayings the coming years bring!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The One Hundred Million Dollar Pay It Forward

Can you believe it's Friday already?  Seems like the week just started and here we are at the weekend!  Not that I'm complaining.  This week I spent some serious time on the look out for people paying it forward.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about then here's a nice little video with a nice little soundtrack to explain it all.

Pay It Forward Video

O.k. last week I got off track a little bit with what seems more like random acts of kindness.  Either way, people are being nice to each other and who can find fault with that?  But, this week I'm back to the paying it forward.  Only I don't have my usual list of suspects.  Just one guy this week.

Perhaps you've heard of this.  It's been all over the news.  The founder of facebook has donated one hundred million dollars to the Newark, New Jersey Public Schools.  It's been suggested that he is only doing this as a publicity stunt.  It's been suggested that this is in response to a movie which depicts him in a bad light.  It's been suggested that this isn't really a move from the bottom of his heart.  All I can say, in complete ignorance and naivete is, "Who cares?"  Whatever his motive.  Whatever his reasoning, a school district in need is going to get some help.  This afternoon, on a national news broadcast I watched the reporter and the expert from the lucky school district debate the pros and cons of this windfall.  Maybe the schools shouldn't rely on private citizens to fund their budget.  Maybe the man has egocentric motives behind this.  But, these aren't the only maybes to consider.

Maybe some children are going to get some new books.  Maybe some children are going to get new computers.  Maybe some children are going to get sports, music and art programs reinstated.  Maybe some children will get a taste of hope.  Maybe some children will remember this, and when given a chance, somewhere down the line, they will pay the hope for a better tomorrow forward.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Of Red Lights, Cell Phones and Kim Kardashian

The universe is a complex and mysterious place.  Sometimes, like when I'm sitting at a red light waiting for it to turn green, I like to ponder it all.  You know, those questions that seem like there is no easy answer.  Things like:

Why is it that when I'm in a hurry I hit every single red light?


Why does my cell phone quit ringing the instant I fish it out of my purse?


Who gave the Kardashians two shows, and when can we stop trying to Keep Up With Them?

What?  You're thinking I should wonder about the more serious things in life?  Like, how to negotiate peace in the Middle East, perhaps?  Once I figure out how to get my dogs to quit barking at the neighbor's dog I'll move on to the more complex issues.   Until then, is it just me or does anyone else think that M tv shouldn't use the words Reality and Jersey Shore in the same sentence?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Pay It Forward Fridays

It's Friday!  And, for the first time ever I get to do this "Pay It Forward Friday" having actually watched the movie.   One scene in particular I really liked.  The boy, can't remember his name, is in front of the class writing on the chalkboard his idea to change the world.  The pay it forward plan.  The other kids scoff at his idea.  Teacher steps forward to tell the boy that he's designed an Utopian world where people co-exist on the honor system, as if this were a bad thing.  The boy thinks for a moment and then says, "So?".

So.  Indeed.  I love words.  And I love it when one little word is used to sum up so many other words.  So, what if it is an Utopian world?  What if we all really did get through life on the honor system?  And having faith that others were as well.  What's wrong with that?  Why is that not possible?   As for me, I'm with the boy. 

 And, so today's Pay It Forward is not going to be the usual.  Normally this is the point where I embed the link to a cool video and talk about good deeds people have done.  Inspiration by the boy and the perfect one word answer, has struck.  Pay It Forward doesn't always have to be a good deed.  Sometimes, just a word or two can do the trick.

Yesterday was a bad day at work.  The kind where I cry during the drive home.  Frustrating, stressful and every hour seemed like two.  On top of that it was Curriculum Night at my son's school.  After working late, I had to call my husband and tell him that I wouldn't have time to come inside and eat dinner.  Pulling into the driveway, I would honk, my son and husband could come running out and we would just make it to school in time.   My husband and I sat, crammed into the tiny desks with our knees up to our chins, hanging on the teacher's every word.  Until, she turned away for a moment and I got the chance to riffle through my son's desk.  He had a newspaper that he was working on.  Extra, Extra Read All About Me! blared the headlines.  What caught my eye were the words, "A Hero Story" pre-printed and my son's careful lettering underneath, which read, "My Mom".  He went on to tell a story about why I was his hero.  And just like that, with a few short words my day was transformed, into a day that I would forever remember with pride and happiness. 

The Pioneer Woman writes that it wasn't even a word that touched her and made it all better for her.  It was a wink.  From a total stranger.  According to her story, her fourth child was born via emergency C-section prematurely and placed in a NICU.  With her husband and other children staying at their farm an hour away, she was left to recuperate and worry on her own.  One day, tired, in pain from her surgery and worried for her newest son, she walked slowly back to her room.  And that's when she came across him.  A man who just happened to be passing by in the hallway.  Maybe he too had had a preemie baby.  Maybe it was something on her face.  Whatever it was, the man winked at her and smiled.  And, Pioneer Woman says that was when she knew everything would be all right.  And it was.

My friend offered up this story of a shopping experience with her mom.  Out for some quality bonding time with mom, it was actually torture.  When my friend picked up a necklace she was contemplating buying her mother piped in with, "Are you getting that?  I don't think it works with your neck and face.  Your sister could wear it.  She has such dainty, pretty features."  On and on it went.  It was as they were leaning up against the railing and looking at the floor below them that my friend looked around for potential witnesses.  Perhaps no one would see if she gave her mom a little shove.  Her mother should thank God for the lady that passed by right then.  A stranger stopped my friend and asked what color and brand her lipstick was.  She loved the color, it was perfect for this season.   Which of course, was the exact opposite of what her mother had been saying.  Instant mood brightener. 

It's the unexpected compliment that means so much.  A kind word or two that makes all the difference in the world.  The moral of the story is this: if someone comes up to you and tells you that you aren't making any difference in this world, that it's as crazy and messed up as it ever was, say "So?" and then compliment them on their lipstick. 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Holiday! What holiday?

Oops!  This past Sunday was a holiday and I totally overlooked it.  Grandparent's Day.  What makes it even worse; we spent Saturday afternoon with my son's one set of grandparents.  You'd think I could have managed a "Happy Grandparent's Day!"   But, I didn't.  So much for being more thoughtful and caring.  What made me remember was a fellow blogger posted a story about her grandparents and asked others to add their own.  So, I donated Ode To A Grandma and that has me thinking about my other grandparents. 

I was never given the chance to know my mom's dad.  He was killed in an accident at his job when I was just a baby.   I wish we had been given some time together.  There are enough pictures of him riding in a wagon, while my brother and cousin drove the tractor pulling him, that makes me think he was a fun guy.  He gifted family with ponies, kept trains set up all year in the living room, allowed my mom and aunt to keep a lamb and raccoon as household pets and held toy car races across the kitchen floor with a purse of a penny.  During World War 2 he fought at Iwo Jima as a Merchant Marine.  Injured when a land mine blew up, he came home to my mom and Grandma, settling into the life of a farmer.  Hence the ponies, lambs and cows that would come down to stare in the kitchen windows at dinner time.  It's been almost forty years that he's been gone, but people still talk about him with a smile on their face.

Seanchai is Irish for “storyteller” and it isn’t just something someone did, it's something someone was. That was my dad's mom.  A storyteller if ever there was one.  And like any true bard she adhered to the main rule: enlighten and entertain.  Which she did.  With a devilish twinkle in her eye.  And she never let a little thing like the truth get in the way of a great story.  My Grandma swore the cookies she kept in her jar were a secret family recipe and could only be passed down in a last will and testament.  They were Nestle Tollhouse.  How I hung on her every word, this lady who had the right to boss my father around.  She spun tales of pets, a cussing parrot that scared off a burglar and my father as a misbehaving youth (in direct conflict to his claims of being a perfect child).  Right before she got to a really good part she would lean forward, a gleam in her eye.  That was my cue to listen up.  Something good was coming.  And it always was.   When I was in sixth grade she told me that I was lucky to be growing up in this day and age.  Free to choose anything that I wanted to be.  Not like when she was a girl.  Become a doctor or lawyer, she advised.  Take advantage of all the options.  Looking back I wish I would have thought to ask her what she wanted to be when she was growing up.  But, I was young and never thought about things like that.  Now, it's to late and I'll never know that about her.  When my Grandpa, her husband of over fifty years passed away she hugged me as I cried.  There was no twinkle in her eyes that day.  Or any day there after.  Within a very short time she would join him.  Memories are all that's left.  I know she kept Nutter Butters in her house at all times.  I know she smoked Kool cigarettes, drank Sanka and always kept her fingernails long and painted.  She wore bright red lipstick, dressed to the nines and opened up her home to foster children.  Grandma hasn't been a part of a family celebration in almost twenty years and yet I see reflections of her everyday.  There hangs in my kitchen a framed print that once hung in hers.  It reads:

May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

An Irish blessing.  Which is what she was to our family.

Days after I turned sixteen I had to say goodbye to the only Grandpa I ever knew.  He never talked much.  My grandma did the talking for them both.  Once, during a game of pool, he beat me in less than five minutes flat.  You might have thought he would go easy on his young granddaughter.  Especially since it was Christmas Eve.  Nope.  If I wanted to beat him I had to do it because I could do it.  When I was a girl scout and trying to earn a badge he let me help him out at the grocery store.   I was supposed to push the cart for him and help lug groceries.  Instead I spent more time throwing in candy for myself and treats for my dog, Brownie.  He indulged my every whim that shopping trip.  The only time I spent some one on one time with my Grandpa.  That memory is a treasure.  My grandpa was a slick dresser.  He wore fedoras where ever he went, paired with a long trench coat.  He was one of eleven, and when his dad died suddenly he had to take over as head of the household.  Taught that family was everything he remained close to his many brothers and sisters and as a child I spent a lot of time at family reunions and picnics.  His youngest sister was my godmother.  I have lived more years without him then I have with him.  And yet, he remains part of my life.  I have a picture of him in my office.  He's sitting at the kitchen table, smiling at me and my new camera.  As long as I am alive I will remember him that way.  From that day.   When the end was closing in on us, though we had no idea.  When we knew no better, so we were just happy. 

All grandparents are important to their grandchildren.  They are the ones that get to do the spoiling.  Their parenting days are behind them.  They have only to worry about loving, not imparting life's lessons.  Still, both are accomplished.  Long after a grandparent is gone, their echo is heard through the years.  In the smiles, the look in an eye, the stories that are shared by and with their grandchildren.  They are one of the strongest links in the chain that is family. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pay It Forward Fridays

Of all the words in the English language that are so wonderful to hear, it's those three little words that can lift my spirit and send it soaring:

     It's the weekend!

Last weekend I was stuck working.  This weekend I will be doing nothing but hanging with the family.  Good times. 

There is another good time going on in La Jolla, California.  A group of people with the Life Rolls On Foundation are paying it forward in a big way.  Life Rolls On is for children to young adults who have spinal cord injuries and are wheelchair bound.  The foundation is a way for them to come together and join in some camaraderie with other kids that know what they are going through.  Today in La Jolla they will spend the day at the beach for the "They Will Surf Again" event.  Everyone will be given the opportunity to leave their wheelchairs sitting empty on the sand while they take to the waves!  Yes, they will surf in the ocean.  Some will be given a chance to surf for the first time since their accident.  Some will be surfing for the first time ever.  Besides surfing there will also be food, and entertainment. For every one surfer it takes 7 volunteers to make it happen.  That's a whole lot of people paying it forward.

The lawnmower man rides again!  My neighbor is back with his trusty lawnmower.  This time it wasn't the family with newborns.  It wasn't even some one that lives on our street.  The house's backyard backs into our neighbor's yard.  The people that own the yard don't bother to cut their grass.  They can't see that part through their trees.  It grows to about three feet tall in the summer.  So, rather than start a turf war, lawnmower man went out there and cut it himself.  Now, all my neighbors that face the wild prairie grass don't have to look at ugly weeds taller than their kids.  Thank you, lawnmower man. 

My sister-in-law must be psychic.  I have started a new job, running a website called Macaroni Kid Cincinnati, but I still have my regular full time job.  On the day when I was ready to throw in the towel and declare myself a quitter I received an email from my sis-in-law.  She had no way of knowing but her email made my day!  She offered her help with the website.  Any way she could help and no payment, please.  Just an honest offer to assist me, because she thinks it sounds like fun.  So, my newest in-law is either:

     A.  A really nice person.
     B.  A person with a warped sense of what fun is.
     C.  All of the above.

Just kidding.  She a nice person and I'm grateful. 

Did you know that if one person helped three people, and then those three people helped three more people, and so on and so on, then just one person turns into 31,381,059,609 people helped.  It's inspiring, don't you think?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Tumbling Walls

"You're lucky to be alive." 

These are words no one wants to hear.  But, if it's said by a neurologist and she is staring at a MRA of your head, then it's enough to strike fear in your heart.  And change the way you look at the world around you.  This past winter I faced a health scare.  Concluding with said visit to neurologist.  One specialist and some more testing later I had a diagnosis I could live with.  Less grim.  More perspective.  As the good doctor said, "Are you lucky to be alive?  Well, isn't everyone when you think about it?"

Yes.  But, to be honest, I hadn't devoted much thought to it lately.  Much to busy.  Busy juggling work, family, the house and a million other things.  Lots of balls in the air.  About the only thing I hadn't been handling or dealing with on a daily basis was myself.  What little time I had left at the end of the day seemed to valuable to be squandered on myself.  So, I lost myself.  Forgot myself.  Forgot the person I once was.  Until I got that wake up call.

Time to wake up and remember certain things.  And discover new facets to my personality.   The girl I used to be loved to have fun and adventures.  The girl I used to be kept her walls up, firmly in place and backed up with another set of walls.  No one was getting through them.  Until someone did.  A couple of people.  Their names are husband and son.  The world gave me a wake up call and I responded. 

This past summer my family and I went rappelling and rock climbing.  I was terrified.  And not just your garden variety terrified.  The guide had to tell me several times to look at him and breath.  Hyperventilating.  Once I made it to the ground I collapsed.  My husband had to tell me that I was on the ground, I didn't even realize I was sitting on soil.  Next came the rock climbing.  Equally terrifying.  But, I did it.  And now every Wednesday I go to the gym and climb their rock wall.  So far, I haven't made it to the top of their wall.  To scary without Paul, the guide, cheering me on.  Just a teenager that would rather be doing something else.  One day I'll make it. 

In the meantime I live life a little better than I did before.  At the end of the day, I'm thankful to be here.  Thankful for my family.  I'm tearing walls down.  Letting people in.  Letting people know me.  That's why I write this blog.  I tell these stories and occasionally get a comment from someone that has read one and connected to it on some level, whether it's a tale of parenting my newborn, paying it forward or talking to the dogs.  I feel like I've accomplished what I've always wanted to do.  I'm writing, sharing it with people and having it inspire a reaction.  

The other day my husband loaded our bikes on the back of the car and met up during my lunch hour.  Where as once we may have said, "It's only an hour.  Not worth the trouble.", we no longer think those things.  We biked a path that runs along the river, starting in one town and finishing in a neighboring one.  At one point, gathering some speed as we raced down a hill, the wind blowing across my face,  I felt an insane urge to lift up my face and shout, "I'm back, baby!"   Which I did not do.  This is real life, not a scene out of Eat Pray Love, after all.  A life that I am getting around to living again.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Pay It Forward Fridays

This week I am paying it forward on Saturday instead of Friday.  No, it won't be changing.  Just this past week has been a little crazy around my house.  New job, still keeping other job = two jobs, plus a hurt dog.  It's never ending.  One thing I have found out in doing this every Friday is just how much I love it. 

10 Out Of 10 Drs. Agree Pay It Forward Can Change The World

This is a new video I found on youtube.  There is a nine second ad in the beginning but after that watch the bit by Katie Couric.  Interesting.

Pay It Forward Fridays has changed the way I look at the world around me.  In looking around trying to find good people doing good things it has made me aware of just how much good there is.  I see it like never before.  For that I am very grateful.  I'd like to take a moment and thank the people who were kind to me this week.

To the lady at the library who got the door for me when my arms were full of books, I thank you.

To the boys at the 50th wedding anniversary who lugged around wooden benches for me so that I could line a family up for pictures, I appreciate it.

To the UPS delivery man who came into my work singing, complimented me on the color of my blouse and then told me to have a great day, you made me smile and I'm grateful for that.

Rest assured I paid it all forward.  How about you?  Any kindness shown your way this week?  Pay It Forward.  Please.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Things I Do When No One Else Is Around

Things I do when no one else is around to see me:

Today, at work I dropped a big glob of yogurt on my shirt.  No one was around so I sucked my blouse into my mouth and licked the yogurt off.  Please, don't judge me.  It was strawberry shortcake flavored and I couldn't help myself.  So delicious.

When I'm driving in my car I often feel invisible to the rest of the world.  That is why whenever "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus or "Kissin U" by Miranda Cosgrove come on the radio I not only turn the volume up to maximum, but will dance in my seat.  I know, I know.  They are teeny boppers and I am a mature woman.  I shouldn't be a fan.  But those darn little twinkies and their catchy beats get me every time. 

On the rare occasion that I have the house all to myself I often resort to talking to my two dogs.  That in itself isn't terrible or embarrassing.  It's the fact that I pretend they've voiced a reply and then answer them, that borders on the ridiculous. 

Sadly, I could go on and on.  But, then doesn't everyone try to smell their own breath by breathing into their cupped hands.  I can't be the only one.  And if I am then I guess it's time I quit announcing it to the world.