Change is good…sometimes.

Even this old stuck-in-the-mud person likes change from time to time.  Just a little bit of change is good for me now and then.  I don’t deal with big change too well.  I am still adjusting to moving far away from what I was used to, and to such a different environment…but that is another blog.  So anyway, I think that the format of my blog page needed a bit of a change.  Now, if only I can figure out how to change my title… for some reason the blog site’s program stuck in an apostrophe where it really doesn’t belong and it has bugged me ever since I started blogging.  There seemed to be no way around it.  Oh well.

Practice what you preach

Practice what you preach went out the door for me this week.  In fact it went out the door, down the street and clear into the next county.  I have no idea what happened. 

One of my personal rules for myself is to never judge people by hearsay.  I have found in my years of working with people, that we all have different personalities and each personality gets along with other personalities differently.  I experienced a few times when a fellow teacher had come to me and said that one of her student’s parent was really hard to get along with, then I ended up finding that the person for me, was a hoot and very easy to get along with.  Did I follow my own rule this week?  NO.  Someone I know  justifiably complained about another and I fell for it.  I made the same judgement as she did without even knowing what the person she was talking about even looked like!  I hadn’t even met her!  So why, I wonder did I break my own rule?

Okay, the next thing that I screwed up with (oh this was a duzy of a week, I think that my brain was taken over by aliens or something).  I have preached over and over again in the past, “if you don’t want it to be seen, or known, don’t ever, EVER put it on the internet!”  What did I go and do?  I put this person who I don’t even know, down in a fairly big way via e-mail and it somehow got to her, and a bunch of other people who I didn’t intend on.  I am so ashamed and embarrassed.  For one, I put someone down.  Unless someone does something really, really horrible, they don’t deserve to be put down, especially if it is based on someone else’s judgements.  Then two, I e-mailed it.  “If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t e-mail it!” is my new motto.  Let’s see if I can stick with that.

Long story short, it is easy to sit behind the computer and blog about how things should work, how we all should treat each other, but when it comes to the real world, it changes.  It is not as easy as it looks on paper… or the computer screen.  I am going to have to go on, and accept my fate.  I will also have to try harder, much harder to practice what I preach!

Unconditional love

The other day, while I was working away on the computer, my oldest decided that she was going to braid my hair.  She didn’t braid my hair in one great big braid, or two smaller ones, it was more like 20 little ones all over my head.  When she was finished, I looked like the mythical character, Medusa with 20 braided snakes all over my head.  She stepped back and took a look at her creation and gasped, “Oh Mom! you look good!”.  The second kid momentarily came out of her TV induced coma and noticed that something was going on.  She looked at me and said, “Momma! you look beautiful!”  The thing is, I didn’t look beautiful.  Well that’s what I thought when I looked in the mirror.  My heart melted though, because with braids sprouting out of my head like ugly weeds growing in the garden, I was still beautiful to them… either that, or they are very, very good liars!  *Sigh* I love my kids.

These are a few of my favorite things.

I have been wanting to write lately, but I have writers block.  For some reason, when the new year began, I have been pretty negative.  When I attempt to write something, it seems to be negative too, so I change my mind and choose not to write anything at all.  It’s like the saying, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.  I have no idea why I have been that way especially since I am overall a very positive person.  I am trying very hard to stop being negative, to change my outlook.  I read that when you change your outlook to a positive one, good things start happening.  What comes to mind is Rogers and Hammerstein’s, My Favorite Things.  If you are not familiar with the song,  think of the movie, The Sound of Music.  So, here are the lyrics… just in case you still don’t know what I am talking about:

  • Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, 
  • Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens,
  • Brown paper packages all tied up with strings,
  • These a few of my favorite things.
  • Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels,
  • Doorbells and sleighbells and schnitzel with noodles,
  • Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings,
  • These are a few of my favorite things.
  • Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes,
  • Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes,
  • Silver white winters that melt into springs,
  • These are a few of my favorite things.
  • When the dog bites,
  • When the bee stings,
  • When I’m feeling sad,
  • I simply remember my favorite things
  • And then I don’t feel so bad.

It’s kind of like what I wrote about in a previous blog entry, a gratitude journal, but in a slightly different fashion.  So, for me, the dogs are biting and the bees are stinging and I really need to remember some of my favorite things and here they are (Oh, and I am not even going to try to rhyme it all since I am not in any fashion like Rogers and Hammerstein. ) :

  • Snowflakes… really any kind, but the big, wet fluffy kind makes me feel even happier.
  • The patterns and sculptures that Jack Frost makes with ice.
  • The patterns and sculptures that Mother Nature makes in anything natural.
  • Children’s books.
  • Children’s art.
  • A baby’s belly laugh.
  • The star-filled darkness.
  • Bike riding in the cool sun.
  • The crisp Fall air.
  • Cheese.  Yummy, yummy cheese.
  • The prized “steal” from a rummage or garage sale.
  • A baby sleeping in my arms.
  • A brand new outfit that seems to be made just for me.
  • Loud music with lots of bass.
  • Dancing to 80’s classic hits with my children.
  • The moment when I realize that I have just taken a great photograph.
  • Costume jewelry.
  • The way freezing fog grows on objects like crystals grew on string in junior high science class.
  • Trees.  Lots and lots of tall, green trees.
  • Stars… the ones in the sky, not so much the ones on TV or the movies… although it would make me happy if I got to meet Oprah.
  • The glorious Northern Lights swirling in the dark night sky of Alaska.
  • Real flowers… even better, big fields of them.
  • Agri-theme parks and huge jumping pillows. 
  • The Enchanted Forest theme park.
  • Strawberries and blackberries in the summer.
  • Warm buttery corn on the cob.
  • A child’s creative imagination.
  • Fluffy white clouds and golden sunsets.
  • The smell of rain in the summer.
  • The crunchy sound the snow makes when I walk in it.
  • Great friends.
  • Wonderful family.

Help make me happy again and write a comment.  If the dogs were biting and the bees were stinging you, what are some favorite things that you would think of to make you happy again?


John Doe, the cause of unrealistic self expectaions

Lately, I have heard the complaint, “I can’t do it as good as John Doe,  so I won’t do it at all”.  Or, “why can’t you be like John Doe?”  More questions that I cannot stand, and people who really know me, know never to ask me: “John Doe can do it, so why can’t you?” or, “John Doe is in a worse position, so stop stressing!”.  As I am writing this, I am starting to really despise this John Doe.

I believe that whether you call it spiritual, or science, there is a reason why we all have different skills, abilities and personalities.  The world just wouldn’t work if we all were skilled in the same thing.  I was talking recently about basketball and teamwork with my daughter.  She was bummbed that she didn’t have a certain skill that one of her teammates had.  What good would a team be if they were all good in dribbling and nothing else?  Teams are comprised of people who have different skills that when put together, helps accomplish a common goal.  We are all different, and we should celebrate it, not beat ourselves up because we are not just like someone else.  It took me a very long time to understand this.  I am a very shy person.  I just don’t like public speaking.  For a very long time I would beat myself up for being shy and for avoiding public speaking as much as I could.  You know, I have come to the conclusion that it’s okay, I am just not a public speaker, and just because there are others out there, including my father that are okay with it and are comfortable with it, it’s fine, because I am not those people… I am ME. 

This goes for parents who belive that their children should grow up as they did.  For example, there are parents out there who believe that their children should grow up with piano lessons because that’s what they did when they were children.  Even when they hated it, even when their own kids hate it.  Piano lessons are not for everyone.  Some of us just want to be ourselves and learn how to do something completely different.  Parents out there, celebrate your children, celebrate the uniqueness of your children and the hobbies and lessons that fit them the best.

Back to the first complaint: “I can’t do it as good as John Doe, so I won’t do it at all”.  This saddens me.  If a person decided not to do something, they should turn it down because it’s just not part of them, or not in their interests at all.  It saddens me when a person really wants to try something and turns it down because someone else does it better.  I think of all the personal satisfaction a person misses,  all the discoveries gone.  I was like this when I started blogging.  I had seen very good blogs out there, and was a bit timid about trying it myself.  I soon learned that I could enjoy reading other people’s blogs without comparing them to mine.  At the same time, I enjoy writing my own blogs. 

It’s funny… I compare this situation to garden burgers.  I remember when the garden burgers first came out.  There was a small group of people who revolted against them because the garden burgers were sold to us as a healthy substitute to the greasy, salty (yummy) meat burgers.  They tasted nothing like the meat burgers, and some people couldn’t eat the garden burger just because of that.  The garden burgers  were actually palatable if you didn’t think of them as meat burgers, because they were not.  You had to think of them as a complete separate sandwich in order to enjoy them. 

The second and third question, “why can’t you be like John Doe?” and “John Doe can do it, why can’t you?”.  These questions are of the most degrading and damaging things to say to a child, I think.  It feels just as crummy to get it when you are an adult.  They mean, “I have no respect for you, and high respects for someone else.  I could care less about you”.  The answer would be, “because I am not John Doe at all, can’t you see?”.  It is so unrealistic to expect one person to be like another.  Again, I believe we are all put on this earth to be individuals, to have different skills and personalities.  If we were all alike, we would be an awfully boring bunch.

Another thing that I had to learn in my life was that even when John Doe’s house fell down, his girlfriend sent him a Dear John letter, he got amnesia and nobody knows who he is…then I stubbed my toe and  it hurts, that I can own it.  I learned that just because John Doe is way worse off, it doesn’t mean that I have to write off my own hurt.  I have just as much right to feel my hurt, as John Doe has the right to feel his.  No matter to what extent either one of our misfortunes are.  I think that this is different than finding the silver-lining.  For example, I could say,”ow, that hurts, but at least I still have my toe”… that’s the silver-lining.  I shouldn’t say, “oh, buck up.  John Doe hurts way more than me, so I shouldn’t feel the way I do”.  It’s back to my common theme it seems, we are all human and we all have feelings.  We shouldn’t fight them and should have the freedom to own them.  We are also all very different and feel our feelings in a different fashion.  Yes, John Doe is feeling pretty bad, and I have compassion for him, but I shouldn’t disregard myself and how I feel.  I need to feel my own feelings without any comparison of others.

So the message of all this confusion? (sorry)  To enjoy yourself as an individual.  Celebrate your uniqueness.  Please don’t get muddled up in believing that you should be like someone else.  You are not that person,  you never will be.  It’s fine to make a goal, like “I want to blog, and I want to be good at it”  but leave out the part, “like John Doe”.  Be gone, John Doe!

We’re only human…we all have inner dorks.

I went to my oldest daughter’s basketball game tonight and felt like a complete dork when I couldn’t get through the door to the gym, or what they call the playshed, where the game was held.  I kept yanking on the door, then decided to push instead of pull, which didn’t work either.  Of course the door that I was trying to get through had a glass window and through that glass I could see the packed bleachers as well as people standing nearby talking.  I know that they all weren’t, but I felt as if everyone in that playshed were watching me, the dork yanking away at the door.  They probably were thinking that I was a complete dunce.  The thing is, I went through all of this before, but without an audience.  Why couldn’t I remember how to get through the freaking door?  Finally, a girl opened the door for me and just as she did, I noticed that there was a door knob directly below the very handle that I was tugging on to get the stupid thing open.  Dang!  If only I had thought to use the doorknob!  I was so embarrassed.

The thing is, why the heck do we all find these simple, easy mistakes so embarrassing?  Why is it embarrassing when our shirts are inside out, or there is spinach in our teeth?  Why is it embarrassing when we wear miss-matched socks or even miss-matched shoes out in public?  We all make mistakes, I don’t believe you if you say it’s not so, so why is it that we are so embarrassed about them?   I know that I am hard on myself, and at times care way too much about what others think of me.  I envy those who have egos made of steel and really don’t care about making stupid mistakes, or what others think of them.  I know that I am my worst critic and I can’t help it.  You can’t just say, “oh get over it”, because I won’t.  I just know that there are people out there who feel the same as me.  I know there are others like me that know better, and understand they shouldn’t be embarrassed about being human, but are anyway.

I think that feeling the way I do is not all bad.  I am able to empathise with others and am not as critical when they trip over a crack in the sidewalk, or make a stupid decision while driving because I know that either I have been there, or will probably be there someday.  I don’t get upset with people who drive in the dark without their lights on because I have done that.   It is easy to do when there are lots of streetlights illuminating the road.  When you can see just fine, why should it cross your mind to turn on the lights?

I recognize that we all have an inner dork that rears its ugly head from time to time.  Now all that I have to do is not be so hard on myself… and remember to use the dumb doorknob.

Laura’s very important tips… a week in review.

  • It’s a good idea to use ripe avocados for guacamole.
  • If you are going to spook a deer, spook it when there is a good sheet of icy freezing rain on the road.  It may sound cruel, but it is pretty funny to watch the deer’s butt catch up with it’s head.
  • If all doors in your vehicle but the driver’s side have been frozen shut by freezing rain, load everyone from the driver’s side and make sure that the child safety seat is directly behind the driver’s seat.  It is much easier to buckle up that way. 
  • If you are not a licenced pilot, don’t consider driving your mini-van in 110 mph winds. 
  • Never mess with the federal government, even when your boss tells you to.
  • Never let your son leave his two-foot toy dinosaurs in the bathroom.  It’s no fun finding the scary creatures in the dark when your bladder is full. 
  • There is such a thing as a Wii hangover. Your whole body will ache the next morning and most likely if there is a competitive game player in the house, your high score will be beat minutes after you made it, so it’s not even worth it. 
  • You can have an ice-rink on a gravel driveway.
  • Bubble baths are good to take when you discover that a lot of money has mysteriously disappeared from your account.  
  • Always listen for the phone.  Your daughter might be trying to let you know that you have forgotten her at basketball practice. 
  • You are blessed if you have a working kitchen sink faucet.  You are blessed even more if you have water turn of under the sink.  And even more if the pipes under the sink are up to date and replacements fit. 
  • If your kitchen sink faucet dies, hopefully the bathtub is close by because it is hard to carry gallons of water through the house just to do dishes. 
  • Always have a huge 10 gallon kitchen pot handy just in case your ancient kitchen faucet dies, and you need lots of dish water.
  • If your kitchen faucet dies, it is good to have a huge supply of paper plates and plastic utensils (sorry Anne).
  • Never keep your favorite, electrical kitchen appliance near the stove-top.  Your fire fighter husband will be sure to accidently melt the cord and ruin it.
  • Never, never claim that your life is too boring.   The Universe will surely prove you wrong!

My ponders about addiction

This is the time of year that people are focusing on making themselves better.  So, consequently, there is a lot of stuff thrown at us on TV, the radio, everywhere you may go, about programs to help with the new, or revisited resolutions.  There are of course a plethora of advertisements for diet programs, exercise programs, and exercise devices (some of which I find hilarious).  There are advertisements for healthy food, even if it really isn’t that healthy.  Then there are advertisements claiming hypnotism is the way to go for loosing weight, or as a tool to stop smoking.  There are also patches and potions to stop smoking, and special groups to attend to stop drinking.  Now, there is a trend of shows focusing on the illness of hoarding.

Addictions seem to be everywhere.  I consider myself lucky that I have no desire to smoke.  I have never smoked, and as far as I care, never will.  I have never been drunk.  Can you believe it?  I am this old and have never been drunk.  I have been tipsy, and have hated, hated, HATED the feeling!  So, if being tipsy is anything like being drunk but more, NO THANKYOU!  That goes for drugs too.  I cringe when I see commercials for energy drinks.  What happened to a good diet, water and plenty of sleep?  That works way better than a momentary high and miserable crash that comes after it.  When I was giving birth to my second baby, I was offered something to take the edge off.  I tell you, when you are in child-birth and in that much pain, nothing matters to you.  So, amongst my birthing delirium, I was dumb, and agreed to have some of that edge-taking-off stuff.  I think I liked the edge afterall.  Actually, I didn’t even notice any pain reduction… I just felt crummier.  I also don’t like to take Benadryl.  I’d rather feel the effects of an allergic reaction than the sick-like feeling I get from that stuff.

I don’t even drink coffee.  When I was a teen, I had so many people around me trying to quit the caffeine addiction, that I decided that it would be foolish to start something that I would end up wishing I could quit.  What was the sense in starting in the first place?  I however, confess that I am rather addicted to Big Train’s Spiced Chai tea.  Heaven forbid that company goes under since I have not found anything I like better or even close to it.  The tea however, is 99% caffeine free, so my addiction has nothing to with that, and more to do with something that I haven’t figured out yet. 

I wish that I was addicted to exercise, but that probably would make me bulimic.  If I were bulimic, on top of excessive exercise, I would probably throw up a lot, and I did that all of my childhood due to severe migraine headaches and know that is miserable… so that wouldn’t work.  I wish that I were addicted to cleaning my house, but then I would have OCD or obsessive convulsive disorder which I hear is hell… so that wouldn’t work either.

Because I am seemingly immune to addictions like smoking, drinking, drugs or caffeine, it doesn’t make me immune to everything.  For me, the potential could be overeating.  Although I like vegetables, I like rich, fatty foods way better.  Oh,  and chocolate.  I have noticed that after I had babies, I have become more fond of the stuff.  When I get stressed, I don’t reach for the bottle, I reach for chocolate.  I could very easily be addicted to shopping.  I have experienced that high when I purchased something at 75%, even 90% off.  It felt good until I came to my senses and wondered what the heck I was thinking when I bought that ridiculously useless, ugly product?

Related to shopping, and thanks to TV (which by the way could be considered as my addition), I have become more and more aware of hoarding.  The scary thing is I could very well fall into hoarding, thank goodness I have not though.  My point is, we can look at the commercials and say, whew!  I’m glad that I don’t have a problem with smoking, or I am glad that I don’t have to think about dieting!  But the sad story is that we all are susceptible to some kind of addiction, even if it’s not the most common ones.  As the saying goes…we are all human.

The unseen challenges of parenting a food-allergic child

Some of you may know already that we have a child with food allergies.  At six months old, our little guy grabbed a cheeto from his sister’s hand and put it to his mouth before his sister grabbed it back.  His lips swelled up to what I would say, three times the normal size.  He had hives all over his body where he was touched by the cheesy cheeto dust.  He recovered from that incident on his own, and as if by magic, his allergist called the next day, a Monday, to see how he was doing with his eczema.  I told her about the reaction, and she immediately got us set up with an epi-pen, a portable syringe if you may, that will inject medicine that can help save a person with extreme allergies when exposed to a certain allergen.

So through the next couple of years, we have found through blood tests, scratch tests, and food challenges that our little guy is severely allergic to at least four foods.  That means if he were to eat even a drop of what he is allergic to, he could potentially die if he didn’t get the proper medical attention, including the magic epi-pen.

We have pretty much come to terms that he has the allergies.  I figure if he were to have something wrong with him, at least it’s allergies, and not something somewhat uncontrollable like juvenile cancer.  We have had no experience with this sort of thing since nobody on either side of our families has anything close to what our guy has.  So we are blindly feeling our way through all of this.  Since we have no experience, we may be a bit over protective, but what can you do when your sweet child’s life is in grave danger every moment of the day?  When you never know when an easy yet deadly mistake is going to occur?

I am now a stay at home mom, at least until he can either grow out of his allergies, or grow up enough to understand them.  I fear that if I place him in a child care, even the very best of child cares, that there is great potential for him to get the wrong food and have an anaphylactic reaction and possibly die.  We don’t order food from restaurants for him, even the food that he can eat because we are worried that in the kitchen someone can inadvertently contaminate the food with allergens.  We study food labels all the time and are always on the search for foods that are interesting, healthy and okay for him to eat.  Again, we have dealt with these situations and have come to terms that this is the way it is.

Our extended family has traveled with us, so to speak, through our challenging food allergy trip and understand how serious it is and are somewhat familiar with the craziness that we have to go through to keep the kiddo alive and healthy.  We have been able to train our family about what he can and cannot eat and how to use the epi-pen if needed.  So, we now live in a town with no family anywhere close to us.  It may be a bit paranoid of us, but we feel that we can’t just go and call a babysitter in this town who knows nothing about our guy’s situation.  Our new challenge lately, has been events that we have been invited to are held for adults only.  I am sure set up by thoughtful people who feel as if the parents of children need a break and a fun night out without children.  These events seem to be coming along more and more lately.  So what happens?  One parent reluctantly goes alone while the other stays at home caring, protecting, our special needs child.  Neither adult feels good about it.  Neither has fun.  The one who parties feels rotten because they have to go without the other, knowing the one at home feels rotten.  The other who sits at home feels rotten because they feel left out.

I wonder if anyone even gives a thought to this kind of situation.  I am sure that they don’t because we didn’t either.  Not until it actually happened that we became aware.  I am positive that people mean well.  We just got tickets to the local theater as a Christmas gift.  I am sure that the well-meaning thought was for us to get away together for an evening.  It’s not going to happen.  We will either go in shifts, or one will go twice, but we won’t ever go together. 

This, I have concluded, is yet another thing that we will come to terms with.  We won’t feel left out or forgotten and will be blunted to the suckiness of the whole situation some day and won’t even bat an eye over it.  There will be a day when he grows up, and will be able to take care of himself.  But for now, we will trudge on and wonder what the next unseen challenge to having a severe food allergic child will be.