Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Mother-In-Law vs. A Root Canal

Did you hear the joke about the lady who would rather have a root canal than spend some time with her mother-in-law?  Only it's not a joke. a website for women conducted a poll, in honor of National Mother-In-Law Day on Sunday.   Turns out that 51% of women would rather spend the day cleaning their house than visiting with the mother-in-law.  28% would prefer a root canal over spending time with dear old mom-in-law.  Sounds pretty harsh, right?  Apparently not. 

 28% of women (the same dentist lovers, I suspect) label their relationship with their mother-in-law as "terrible".  As ridiculous as it sounds, 76% of women would never turn to their mothers-in-law for child rearing advice.  Only 64% of women would trust their children with their husband's mom.  I can only assume that the lady must know something about bringing up baby.  After all, you fell in love with the product of her experience, so she must have done something right.  Or, did you fell in love with a monster?  The kind of person you would never want your child to be?  Doesn't make sense to me.

My mother-in-law has held her position for the past thirteen years.  I could be wrong, but I wouldn't describe our relationship as terrible.  Mothers and Daughters-in-law have to navigate some unfamiliar waters at times, that's true.  We share a love for the same people and that forms a bridge. 

To be honest, I've never considered myself in competition with her.  She's accomplished what I most want to.  The lady took a baby boy, survived those temper tantrums (I've seen his elementary school report cards) and somehow churned out a man that has all the qualities I desire for my son.  If I don't turn to her for advice she never offers it unsolicited.  Which is the second best gift she has given to me, after her son.  Oh, and the dimples my son flashes; those came from her.  I love those.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday Is The Best Day

We meet again, Friday.  

How I love to see you coming.  What can be better than knowing that the work week is over and the weekend is looming large?  What can be better than two days of nothingness?  No need to set the alarm clock.  No need to get dressed until noon.  It's the best.  Here in my blog world it's Pay It Forward Friday.  We all know what paying it forward is right?  One person helps out three people.  Those three go on to help three more.  And so on and so on.  Before you know it, the world is a better place.  Here are the three for this week. 

The other day at a very busy intersection an elderly man was trying to cross the street.  Hanging onto his walker, he was halfway to the other side when it broke.  Literally, it broke into pieces.  Two of the legs and wheels came off.  Stranded in the middle of the crosswalk he needed help.  Enter a young man in a van.  This gentleman hopped out of his vehicle, grabbed the walker and pieces in one hand, loaned his arm to the older man, and got them all across.  Then he fixed the walker.  Once all was well with the senior citizen the good Samaritan hopped in his van and sped off. 

To the National Guard man who helped me during my son's school field trip, I say, "Thank you."  Eight rowdy kids and I were in search of a herd of buffalo.  Someone told us where to walk to catch a shuttle to the viewing area.  They were wrong.  If you've ever tried to herd a group of kids,  you understand why I didn't relish the idea of more walking.  The National Guard officer standing nearby overheard some of the children moaning.  He told us to stay put and he ran all the way back to where the shuttle was.  Then he convinced the shuttle driver to come to us.  Thank you, sir.  For your service to our country.  For your service to my tired feet and aching knees.  For your willingness to jump in and help a stranger out, even though you were on leave and could have kept your head turned the other way.

Finally, I was a guest at a luncheon honoring a special lady.  She's a 95 year old trail blazer.  During an era when women were encouraged to grow up to become wives and mothers she chose a different path, earning her masters degree from a college in Washington, DC.  With education in hand she returned to the small town she was raised in, married and had several children.  Not one to rest on her laurels,  she single-handily raised the funds to build and open a residential home for the county's abused and neglected children.  Even painted the walls herself when there wasn't enough money to pay the contractors.  She brought the Head Start Program to her town and all the small towns bordering.  She has done about a hundred other things for the children in her hometown, promoting education and safe environments for the smallest residents.  Over the past sixty plus years she has saved countless children and made her town a better place to live.  When her name was announced the grand dame received a standing ovation.  With the help of a granddaughter she took the mic and said,  "Thank you.  But, I only do what you're supposed to.  I love my town and I try to make it a good place to live."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Love At First Sight

Label me jaded, call me a fool, but I've always thought of love at first sight as something better left to the poets and dreamers.  Real love, true love, the sticking around forever kind of love takes time to develop.  Requires time to grow.  Needs to weather life's ups and downs to prove it's truth.

Then, ten years ago I feasted my eyes upon this beautiful sight.

Love at first sight and I've been head over heels ever since.  Happy birthday to my boy!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Living The Fashion Life


There is a method I employ when shopping for clothes.
     Is it available in my size/style/color?  Nope, but it's only $5.  I'll take it!

Today, while buying myself a new shirt at the grocery store it occurred to me that I don't really dress myself the way I would like.  Partly, it is due to the fact that any extra money in the clothing fund gets spent on my son.  He's growing like a weed and needs a new wardrobe every couple of months.  Also, there's the fact that I'm a cheapskate.  Paying retail makes me cringe. 

Last year for my birthday I was given a few gift cards for a store that doesn't sell toilet paper in aisle four.  It took me two hours of walking around with a sweater in my hand before I worked up the courage to buy it.  I loved the sweater as soon as I laid eyes on it.  It was actually in the current style.  The color worked really well with my eyes.  It wasn't on sale.  Still, I threw caution to the wind and paid full price for it.  And, promptly wore it the very next day.  I don't mind admitting that I did a fair bit of strutting around.  Finally!  I wasn't dressing like my mother!  A couple of weeks later I was back in the store with a friend looking for a new outfit for a special occasion.  I grabbed the same sweater but in a different color.  As soon as I stepped out of the changing room she looked me over and said, "Oh, no.  You can't wear that, it makes you look shapeless."  How nice for me. 

So, today as I picked out a striped shirt on clearance for only $7.50 (what a deal, I'll learn to stop hating horizontal stripes) I thought that if I could afford to I would be dressing so much better.   Well, that and if I could borrow a better body, then I'd be set!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pay It Forward Done Up Kid Style

Today's Pay It Forward Friday is brought to you by the letter K for kids.  

Kids.  They're every where you look.  For as small as they are they sure take up a lot of room and make a lot of noise.  But, you gotta love them.  Nature made sure of that by giving them those big eyes,  round bellies and chubby cheeks.   Sometimes the kid even does something to warrant their parents devotion.   No to mention the respect of everyone that hears their story.   This is the story of children who decided to pay it forward.

As everyone knows, pay it forward is doing something nice for someone and then that person goes and does a nice thing for 3 people.  On and on it goes until the world is a nicer place to call  home.  Every once in awhile someone comes along that thinks bigger. 

Jonas Corona runs his own charitable organization, set up a website for it, wrote his company's mission statement and designed the logo to go along with it.  He gives public speeches.  Organizes city wide fund drives by working with local libraries, high schools and other organizations.   All this and he's only six years old, people!  A first grader!  Jonas created and runs the organization called Love In The Mirror.  The idea came to him at the ripe old age of 5.  His mom took the boy to a homeless shelter to help pass out cookies to the residents.  To his complete dismay five children close to his age were in line.  Jonas didn't understand what kids were doing there.  Once his mom explained that anyone of any age can be homeless the precocious five year old decided to quit taking his loving home filled with family and friends for granted.  He asked his mom for help.  She obliged by helping Jonas set up the website.  The mission statement and logo he did on his own.  When his mom gave him his own set of business cards the tyke was off and running.  On his own he approached a librarian at the local branch.  She offered her assistance.   To date Love In The Mirror has held sock drives, a toiletry drive, clothing and book drives.  Over four truckloads of supplies have been given to The Long Beach Rescue Mission.  Easter baskets to a school for homeless children called Precious Lamb Preschool and His Nesting Place.  The kid has just begun.  You can find Love In The Mirror on face book and the website is  if you want to contact Jonas to find out how you can help him.

Just one!  How many parents have heard that from their children?  Be it one more cookie or one more cartoon or one more bedtime story, "just one"  is common refrain in a child's repretoire.   But, Sarah Dewitz a fifth grader from Florida took it to a whole new level when she created, Just 1 Book.  The idea is simple.  If every child from her school brings one book from home that they have read and are finished with then Sarah would take the books (almost 800 in total) to a nearby community center that was in desperate need.  The Family Center is located in a neighborhood of less fortunate and had only one bookshelf for books.  When Sarah was shown a newspaper article about how families from this community were struggling in today's economy she started thinking about how she would feel if her parents couldn't afford to go to a bookstore and buy her and her brother a book or two.  A fourth grader at the time, she set up and ran a school wide book drive.  She asked for each student to bring in a book from home.  She hoped for around 700 books to donate.   The response was overwhelming.  Four months after she begun the drive Sarah has collected over 9,000 books!  There are now drop boxes in three schools, a face book page with over 400 followers and a booth at a local Farmer's Market.  She also has taken it mobile by hitting the road and setting up at local parks, community events and gives speeches at other schools.  Some in different cities.  Sarah runs everything herself, although Mom and Dad do help with the paperwork end and face book.  But, the fifth grader isn't finished yet.  She's in talks with the school superintendent to take the program countywide and would like to set up a bookmobile that would travel.  To send your gently used books click on the link.   Just 1 Book

Bikes and kids.  They go together don't they?  They do for Joseph Machado, a thirteen year old boy from California and his Biking For America.  When a sports injury sidelined the boy and kept him bound to a wheelchair for several months it gave him an appreciation for his life.   Joseph wanted to help out disadvantaged kids.  So, he rode his bike across the country in the hopes of raising donations and awareness.  Yep.  He set out in Rancho Cucamongo, California and 39 days later finished up in Washington D.C.  His three goals for his trip:  Raise money for charities.   Give hope to kids across America.  Encourage other children to help out in their own communities.  To date he has raised $30,000 in donations and donated services.  As for the other two.  Well, what do you think?  Mission accomplished.  To view his website click on the link.  Biking For America.

Everyone knows that saying about a child leading.  Leading by their example.  It all started at home for these kids.  Continued with the support of the community.  Let's hope it never ends.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Speaking Of My Sister

Card given to my sister on her birthday:

"You have me for a sister, what more could you want?" 

What more, indeed?  Maybe her own bedroom growing up.  From the moment of her birth (many, many years ago) she began her role as my unwanted, unappreciated sidekick.  Watson to my Sherlock Holmes.  Neither of us were given the chance to pick our roles.  Separated by only a year we were treated more like twins.  Same toys every Christmas.  Same yellow rompers.  Shared bedroom.  A bedroom that I used to force her to clean while I 'supervised' from my spot on my bed.  

The bedroom where we used to lay in the darkness and whisper our secrets to each other.   The bedroom that became our sound stage every time the Holly Hobby Record Player was put into action with the Grease Soundtrack blaring from the box.  We spent many hours singing into our hairbrushes and prancing about the floor in a horrible imitation of "Beauty School Drop Out". 

Years later my sister became a beauty school graduate.  And I was there to watch her graduate.  We've been a part of all our biggest moments in life.  When I married my husband it was with my sister standing at my side.  The first one to congratulate me.  When I had news of a baby to broadcast she was the second person we told.  My mom was first.  Three years later when I became ill and had to have my gall bladder removed she was the one we dropped my son off to on the way to the hospital.  We didn't even have to call and warn her.  I knew that no matter what she would be there for me when I needed her. 

Life has made us sisters.  First friends.  Also best friends.  And mortal enemies.  Co-conspirators.  Staunchest allies.   Within the same day, usually.  I don't have to see her face to know when she's smiling in her home 20 miles away.  It's something felt over the phone wire.  She's the only one that I can complain about our mother to and know that she gets everything I am saying.   I love her children as if they were my own.  And yet, when my family brought her young daughter with us white water rafting, and my niece fell out of the kayak into the raging waters my first thought was for my sister.  As in, "OH MY GOD!!  I HAVE JUST KILLED MY SISTER'S ONLY DAUGHTER!!  SHE IS NEVER GOING TO FORGIVE ME FOR THIS!!"  Happily my little niece was scooped up by a river guide and given a 50 person cheer.  My sister did yell at me when she found out.  But, the next year she let me take both her son and daughter on another trip so all was forgiven.

Between sisters all is always forgiven.  Though it's usually drudged up every holiday and used over the dinner table for fodder.  We can laugh now about those things.  We're sisters and we share a language all our own.  So that's why I can end this with these words:

"Quit doing the turtle.  This one's for you.  May all your green bean dreams be sweet, Rockin' Robin"

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Good-bye Week That Was

Small towns have a way about them.   Everyone knows everyone else.  People know you, your parents, grandparents and the original color that your house once was.  Having become a part of a small community several years ago I can tell you that when it comes to paying it forward, no one does it like small town folks do.  What is pay it forward you ask?  Pretty simple.  You do something nice for three people.  Those three people pay it forward by doing something nice for three more people.  Simple, right?  Right.  This Pay It Forward Friday is for a town full of people paying it forward.  Unfortunately.  Bad news piles on top of bad news which piles on top of more bad news.  And a town is left reeling.

It began with a mom, young son, toddler daughter, and grandma.  During a visit with Grandma the women stood out in the front yard gabbing, as women are wont to do. The children played tag at their feet.  Then, as small children are wont to do, the young boy swerved sharply and darted into the street.  Into the path of an oncoming truck.  The tiny boy with the blond hair and dimpled smile was killed instantly. 

It was followed up later in the week with a husband and father of three.  A former airline pilot he lost his job in the crunch of the economy.  Times are hard.  Not many people are hiring.  Worries about providing for his wife and three school age kids began weighing heavily on his mind.  One morning he drove to a public park and put a gun to his head.  The man I once sat next to on a couch and chatted with about Florida family vacations was gone in a second.

The week ended in the middle of the night with an eighteen year old college freshman.  A bright boy, he once dated the class valedictorian and graduated from high school with honors.  The middle child of a close family.  Newly acquired heroin addiction.   A drug deal in the middle of the night took a deadly turn.  The police are asking for help in finding his killer or killers.  The teenager who once showed so much promise has had his voice silenced forever.

Lots of people out there know what it's like to suddenly, shockingly, suffer the loss of a loved one.  Fortunately, these people are rallying around the three families.  A group of mothers who have lost children are reaching out to the newest members of the club no one wants to belong to.  Dinners are being cooked for the families.  Donation jars are springing up all over town.  Charts and graphs are being created in school and church basements.  Charts that detail the time and day volunteers will pay their visits, take care of chores and entertain the young children who don't comprehend everything going on around them.  It's pay it forward in reverse.  Instead of one doing for three, it's many doing for three families.

Nobody makes it through without some heartbreak and heartache.  Whoever you are, where ever you are, look at the person next to you.  They have been there, done that.  Or they soon will get their chance.  We're all in this together.  You will get the chance to repay a kindness that was shown to you.  Please, don't let that opportunity pass you by.