Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sins of the Father...or the Mother?

Perfectionism. It's not all bad, right? As a friend of mine mentioned just recently, we'd like our doctor and our accountant to be perfectionists. But when your ten year old is paralyzed by his tendencies, then it's not a good thing.
My sweet little YellowFellow hates school. It's been a struggle every day this year to get him to go. "MythroathurtsmyheadhurstmytummyhurtsIdon'tfeelgoodcanIstayhomepleasejustthisonce". It's exhausting. Granted, his allergies have been a killer this year. I know because I share them. So I've tried the, "We're in this together kid" strategy. The "Who has the Best Booger" contest. The who can whine the loudest or who can come up with the best explanation for the goop on your throat that just can't be hacked up or swallowed or described to anyone who doesn't have it contest. I've kept him drugged up on Claritin and Tylenol. And all along I've looked for THE root of it all. WHAT is it about going to school that he loathes so much. Is it PE again? He's a sensitive kid, and if he gets the rules wrong or, or gets hurt, he cries and gets teased, and his coach last year, was well, a football coach and didn't quite respond to him the way say, his mother would, which produced MORE tears and started the cycle all over again. But this wasn't just Wednesday. It was every day. So I ASKED him. "Mom, it's just so hard. I want to do my best for the Lord, and I know my best is 100% with ALL the extra credit, and when I don't get that, I get really upset." So I have to think of the THE best sentence. And make all my letters just right. And I get distracted. And all the other kids finish and go out to recess, but I have to finish, so I miss recess, and then I have to bring it home. (We've been struggling with hours of homework every night. She doesn't assign specific homework. It's just to finish what doesn't get done in class.) So now I know his problem. He's a perfectionist. Where does that come from?
He got it from me. I'm a perfectionist too. You hadn't noticed? This blog is the perfect example. It was supposed to be a place for me to practice writing. Just throw it out there in cyber space for people to comment on so that I could get better. But what ended up happening was that I'd start a post and then edit it to death before posting. And I have many that I've never posted. Why? Well because they're not my best work. They're not good enough. I don't want anyone to read them. Which brings me around to the title. In the parent teacher conference the Engineer and I had with YellowBoy's teacher last week, she mentioned that perhaps that verse about the sins of the father being visited up the future generations (resisting perfectionist tendencies to use my concordance and look up the specific reference and post that...not easy...) referred to sinful tendencies as well. That what we struggle with is perhaps passed on to our children. Poor kid got this from me.
So today I'm doing something to help him. I'm posting for the first time since August. And I'm not editing.
After all, if I can't work on my bad habits, how can I expect my ten year old to work on his.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Anybody need a casserole?

I'm disappointed in the Body of Christ. If we're supposed to be His hands, we're doing a terrible job.

I'm very frustrated with people who say, "Oh, I'm so sorry you're going through that. Please give me a call and let me know what I can do to help." I've watched dear friends go through really tough times. I mean break you down, don't know if you'll ever get up tough times. And I've watched them actually swallow their pride, grab their courage, find the phone number, and CALL that person for help. You know what the answer is 99.9% of the time? It goes something like this:

"I'm sorry, but I'm busy with family stuff right now." (the Body IS your family)
"I'm sorry, but I'm not comfortable doing that." (since when did God say serving Him would be comfortable?)
"I'm sorry, but I've thought about it some more, and I realize I over-committed myself." (think twice, speak once)
"Isn't that the job of the deaconesses?" (oh, we don't do that, but does she need a meal? We could arrange meals for her!)
"We should really have a committee that takes care of the single moms" (but I bet you won't be on it)
"I'll pray for you" (please don't say that unless you're truly going to, because it's one of the most over-said and under-done phrases in Christianity today, IMHO)
"Oh I know how she feels, give her my best" (there is no way on God's green earth you could know how this feels)
"Maybe next month, this month is really packed" (if she gets brave enough to try AGAIN, which she probably won't)
"I'm sorry, why don't you call_________" (she probably already did, and probably already got one of the above)

Serving the body of Christ is more than bringing someone a meal. It's stepping out of your comfort zone, giving someone a break, and providing the specific thing that they are asking for. (Of course meals are nice, and if you're one of those hundreds of people who have fed me and my family through 14 surgeries, I in no way mean to under value what you did. But meals is what I needed and meals is what I got.) What if what you need is someone to put your child to bed because you need respite? What if what you need is someone to come over RIGHT THEN because you know your limits and you need distance from that challenging child? What if having your requests turned down so many times has left you feeling like an outsider in the very church where you have served for so many years? What if you felt completely alone, had no extended family and the ONLY family you had was your church family? And what if how they treated you in your time of need made you feel like an outcast, unworthy, unloved, and completely alone? What if the job God had given YOU to do with YOUR spiritual gift left you isolated? What if the county system gave you more support than your own church? How would you feel?

I say be brave. The next time someone calls you and asks you to do something that's a little out of the ordinary, or a little inconvenient, or frankly, a bit scary because you've never done it before, just step out in faith in your God and serve Him by serving that person.

After all, we're His hands and are supposed to be reaching others for Him.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Heat Induced Pet Peeve Rant

Summer is flying by, which is a total blessing since it' s my least favorite season, and for only one reason.  The heat.  I am heat phobic.  (I insist it's a medical condition, why else would I be dripping sweat while everyone else is freezing to death?  I am NOT making this up.  If you've met me, you know this is true.)  And in the summer, my schedule (up at 4:30, at work by 5:45, home at noon, then family time) is the opposite of my children's (who get to stay up later) and The Engineer, who is a night owl.  It's hard to never have alone time, either with The Engineer, or with myself.  Afternoons are packed with kids' stuff, then by the time dinner is over and cleaned up, I'm ready to drop dead.  So come on, August 21, I'm ready.

As I suffer in this heat, I've added to my list of pet peeves.  In no particular order:

Drivers.  All of them.  They are all terrible.  Weaving, not using turn signals, cutting me off, tailgating, talking, TEXTING, not paying any attention to the psychotic in the next car who is still suffering post my-car-got-totaled-by-one-of-these-idiots syndrome.  (T-boned when he ran a VERY red light and plowed into my precious boxy-but-beautiful wedding present Volvo wagon and left me on my back for 4+ months of agonizing therapy to recover).  I hate driving.  I hate riding in the car.  Beam me there, Scotty.  I'm too scared to be out there.

The little bugs that came in with the bouquet my niece made me, took up residence in my kitchen compost, and though I'm now composting in the garage, still haven't left.  Annoying little things that like to slip into our drink glasses and drown.  BE GONE!

Video games.  If they'd never been invented, I wouldn't have to fight with Diamond and YellowBoy to turn them off.  All the time.  They are addicts.  It's my fault, I know, but it's still gets on this list.  It's MY list.

Construction.  Why does EVERY road have to be worked on ALL at the same time?  My beautiful, scenic-country-road drive to work is no longer possible.  No idea what they're trying to accomplish, but the entire road is blocked.  I HATE driving the highway.  In case you missed why, see #1.

Rude campers.  I go camping for peace and quiet and solitude.  When you blast YOUR choice of music so loud that I can't carry on a conversation INSIDE my camper, then I WILL tell you about it.  I think a good rule is don't let what you do leave your site.  I love music.  Listen all day long.  But with headphones.  Everyone has different tastes.  But I think I'd be annoyed even if it was Bruce Springsteen they were blasting.  Camping is about hearing the water lapping the shore, the wind caressing the trees, and the fire crackling.  Not your hip-hop or thunderous bass (yes, your stereo is macho, now turn it OFF.)

And with this, I will close.  Perforated invoices that are folded not on, but NEAR the perforation.  I process about 80 pieces of mail a week.  Not everyone requires the little payment coupon when  paying, but if you do: have your envelope stuffer fold the invoice ON THE FREAKING PERFORATION.  Ok, so maybe I'm a neat freak and should just rip it off where it's folded, but I like order.  And straight lines.  And neat tears.  (When I was a teacher no spiral paper was allowed.  I took off points to discourage the practice (ok, to be completely honest, I never actually did, just threatened them about it)).  It's very hard to re-fold it to tear correctly when the first fold is less than a centimeter from where I'm trying to go.  I know this isn't a pressing issue, but this is about how everything makes me crazy when I'm too hot, so there you have it.

All I want is my fan, a glass of icy beverage, and FALL.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Have you met Pandora???

It's been humbing to find that I'm actually kinda slow to catch on to things.  

It took numerous friends encouraging me to join Facebook.  I've since been thrilled with how it keeps me in touch with my already good friends.  Technology is amazing.  

I'd heard friends allude to something with the name "Pandora".  I didn't ask.  Didn't want to appear...out of it.  After all, I'm a modern gal.  Cell phone?  10 years and counting.  Online banking?  Wouldn't know what to do without it.  iTunes and iPod?  Check.  Laptop?  Check.  Digital camera?  Check. Blog?  Well, yes, finally got brave.  Which brings me back to Pandora.  I was lamenting to a co-worker about how totally annoying radio commercials are.  (I'm a totally spoiled TiVo girl who never has to watch a commercial again unless *I* choose)  and he told me about Pandora.  I encourage you to try it.

All you have to do is give them a "seed" artist, and they'll take it from there.  It's all linked to the Music Genome Project (which as a clarinetist for 9 years totally fascinates me).  They've analyzed songs and "graded" them on various criteria.  They match what you like from one artist with similar qualities with other artists.  The result?  I listen to the "radio" all day, there are no commercials, and they play "only songs you like".  If a song comes up that you don't like, just mark it.  They'll never play it for you again.    You can add variety by adding other artists that you like.  You can bookmark songs and buy them.  It's been totally fun for me because my office is VERY quiet.  Listening to music helps me concentrate, but  I wouldn't want to inflict my tastes on the engineers who share my open office (no cubicles for us).   I got tired of what was on my iPod.  Now I can listen to great music that I like all day.

No, Pandora hasn't paid me for this.  I just wanted to share my totally cool, totally free toy with you.  Give it a try!

After all, life is to short to have to listen to commercials.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Random Ramblings in a Thunderstorm

Is there any sound more glorious than the rhythmic rain?  I love rain whenever it comes, but especially when I'm asleep.  There's just something about the "I'm all safe and snug with my pillows, and outside it's nasty" combined with the lovely pitter-splashes (the best "white" noise I know) that makes me smile.  I got rain during my nap today.  A nap in and of itself is a glorious miracle, but when it comes with a thunderstorm, you know God loves you.

I am a napper.  My email signature contains my current favorite quote.  Don't know where I got it, maybe a greeting card, but the quote is:

Consciousness: that annoying time between naps.

I've napped as long as I can remember.  I remember fighting with my mother about it while in high school.  She would want me to be sociable to whatever "project" type person I found in my home that day.  (We used to call them Mom's Strays because it didn't matter whether you were homeless and toothless or jobless or teen-pregnant or a refugee, my mother would befriend you, tell you about Jesus, feed you, and do what she could to help you on  your way.  It was her spiritual gift of mercy in the works, but I was 15, didn't know what a spiritual gift was, though I knew Jesus, I just wanted to NAP.)  Sometimes I was the good daughter, but mostly, I was the sullen, sleepy, teenager with no thought except unconsciousness awaiting.

As a teacher, I always struggled with whatever class was after lunch.  I was just sooooo sleepy, yet I had to be alert (they were 7th graders you know) and nowhere near cranky.  We got through it.  As a mom, I was in perfect company.  My kids would nap, and so would I.  But all that changed when Diamond started pre-school and quit napping.  I had many napless years in there.  But now?  My kids are old enough to entertain themselves quite well and quite safely so I again can have my favorite treat.  And when you're getting up at 4:30, by the afternoon a little pick-me-up is in order, or you'll never be alert enough to put your children to bed.  (Though I will admit to dumping them in bed quickly, and heading straight for mine from time to time.  Does cut down on the grown-up only time with The Engineer.)  So if you're trying to get a hold of me in the afternoon, you'll find a sign on the door which says, "They can't play until 2:30".  My phones will be unplugged and silenced, and I'll be dreaming.  

I started this about rain, though.  You got the nap part for free.
Rain has never ruined any of my plans.  Postponed, changed, cancelled, but not ruined.  It's a matter of attitude, I think.  As a little girl growing up in Sweden, we went to an afternoon class in the woods called, "Mulle School".  Mulle was a woodland character dressed in green with green leaves in her hair, yet looked suspiciously like my 1st grade teacher.  We'd hike in with our mommies and meet her in some secret place that changed every week.  Very exciting!  She would teach us about flora and fauna and Sweden, but most importantly, she taught us the Mulle School Mantra.  "There's no such thing as bad weather, there's just the wrong clothes."  If you know anything about Sweden, you know it's more Seattle than Denver.  Let's put it this way, in the summer they painstakingly COUNT the sun days.  "Summer '79 was a good summer.  We had 12 sun days!"  I'd go to Sweden for my summer visit, spend three weeks, get maybe 3 sun days.  I still remember the best miracle of all was the year we had gotten to spend the day with my relative who lived on an island and had an adorable teen-age son who was just older enough than me to be completely enticing (very, very distant relative, don't get squeamish on me) and who took me and my sister for boat rides all day.  From the "big" island to the smaller islands to the "beach".  In the motor boat, in the canoe.  All in blazing, non-Swedish warm sun.  It was a day to remember.  His name, apparently not worth remembering.  (But I bet my sissie who remembers such stuff oh so much better than I do will retrieve it from her memory banks and tell me).
I love rain when camping.  Mind you, after 25 years of tent camping, I've earned my camper.  I've camped with a port-crib, with a potty-chair, with a high chair, with no sleep and crying kids.  It's a welcome change to just be able to duck inside and listen while the storm splashes away on the aluminum roof.
I love rain while sitting on my covered front porch, just watching it.
I love rain while driving, and wish I could do it without the interrupting noise of the wipers.  (Although the rain we drove home in on Saturday night was a bit over the top.  More like driving straight through a river than in rain)
I love rain in the summer when I walk barefoot in it with my umbrella.
I love rain for the way it makes the air smell and feel.
I don't know if I'd still love rain if I lived in a rainy place, but in often drought stricken and high desert Colorado, we don't get enough of it for me to ever get tired.

And I always have the right clothes.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ok, here I am, for all the world to see...

Why am I writing a blog???  I am a frustrated writer.  I remember as a young girl having some dreams.  One was to be a gymnast.  I didn't think it would EVER happen.  I was (was, you say, doesn't she mean IS??) uncoordinated.  But it did.  It took years of hard work, but I retired 6th in the state as a 16 year old.  The same year I broke my ankle, collar bone, and wrist.  (You caught the uncoordinated part, right?)  

Next, I thought about being a runner.  Could never happen, I thought.  After all, I couldn't make it around the track. How did those people do it??  But I did that too.  After I quit gymnastics (ok, so I hadn't completely quit...I ran cross country and did gymnastics and was in the marching band and had a part time job and was a psychotic over-achiever regarding grades...and almost gave myself an ulcer...) I took up running.  And improved quickly, got to go to NY for a regional meet, lettered, learned the value of team work (running really isn't an individual sport, you see).  I ran in six Boulder Bolders.  Coached track for eight years.  LOVE running still, but that pesky ankle doesn't, so now I walk.  

Which all brings me to my last goal, and back around to the whole writing thing.  The last goal I made as a teenager was to write a book.  I had an absolutely terrific junior year English teacher named Marilee Ruddle.  She was a legend of ferocity at Northwood High in Silver Spring, MD.  She challenged me, encouraged me, got my poetry published, and gave me the writing bug.  Ok, she was also the first teacher to say to me, "This essay is complete crap.  You give the illusion of saying a LOT, but I know the book and you're not saying anything of value about it.  Try again."  Pissed me off.  I'd read the damn book, unlike some classmates, and I'd written damn essay, and dammit, I knew it was crap and how dare she call me on that?  I got As.  All my teachers gave me As in writing.  Who did she think she was?  My first C on anything EVER.  Overachievers out there will recognize me...I set out to prove her wrong.  To get that elusive A from her.  I never did.  She ruined my GPA but gave me immeasurable life lessons.  I love art and poetry and opera and writing because of her.  I worked harder and learned more than in any other class.  But I still haven't written a book.

Instead, I became a math nerd, with a math degree and math teaching job.  And journals.  I have loads and loads of journals.  No one is allowed to read them, not even my best friend who will be known as C.  (She has sworn to burn them upon my death).  So that's why I'm here blogging and writing and I'm excited about this adventure.  I'm not looking for a huge following.  I just want to push myself to write, and if it's going to be out there is the blogosphere, searchable and readable, it will make me try harder.

Here's to a new adventure.  After all, life moves pretty fast.

Life moves pretty fast...

I love that movie, Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  I'd like to stop the world for a day and have adventures.  But for this season of life, it's not usually possible.  As you may have noticed, I started this project MONTHS ago, and have yet to post my first time.  I will admit that part of it is intimidation: what in the WORLD do I say for my first post?  I want to be witty, I want to be funny, I want people to read what I write.  I want people to get to know me.  Call it writer's block, I guess.  Today, when there are no lunches to make for my family, I will just take the plunge.

HI.  Let me introduce my family.  My oldest son is 12.  I will call him Diamond for now.  He doesn't want me to use his name, so we'll go with his video game handle.  It's an appropriate nick-name, since video games are his passion at this stage in his life.  He is my "boy who lived".  It's a special name I call him in tender moments.  You see, both my children are absolute miracles.  I lost 3 babies along the way, and Diamond was born with an apgar of 1.  He was in NICU for 5 agonizing days.  And now he gets practically straight A's, is athletic, and funny, does all the dishes for me (I'm partially handicapped, but that's for another post).  And they said he'd probably have permanent effects from the lack of oxygen during his delivery.  (Without gory details, it was not Caesarean birth, but I was catheterized and in a wheel chair for 3 days after...)(Ok, that was gory...but this is my blog and I suppose that will happen from time to time: the raw truth, as opposed to the "talking about it in public" version that my engineer husband prefers that I use for all topics.  He's shy.  I'm Swedish.
My youngest we'll call YellowBoy.  His favorite color is yellow.  And I'm not talking a favorite color as in a preference.  But yellow as a life obsession.  It's easy to spot his laundry: it's 85% yellow.  His room is Wendy's cup yellow.  If I'm pouring drinks, he needs the yellow cup.  He bought yellow duct tape and makes yellow weapons out of cardboard and said tape.  He thinks all the yellow flowers in my flower bed are "his".  He's 9.  He's creative, and loves acting, and has the sweetest, most tender heart of anyone I've met.  He makes friends easily, but gets hurt easily.  He's eager to please, and does his best to keep up with Diamond.  He does the laundry.  Did I mention he's NINE?
Hubby.  What to nickname him?  Sometimes it's SpongeBob GrumpyPants.  Sometimes it's Most Lovey Man on the Planet.  Let's call him The Engineer for now.  He's an electical engineer for the company that hired him fresh out college.  He's also got his own company that tinkers with cutting edge technology in lighting.  (Hasn't sold anything in a while...but loves to invent and build things.)  He's into gardening, alternate energy, cooking, being  a pack rat, and he's building an electic car in my garage.
Ok, I'm just going to take the plunge and post, because if I don't start somewhere, I'll never be able to see how much better I'm getting at this.  Next post I'll tell you about me.