Dear Officer…

Dear State Trooper who pulled me over today:

First of all, I want to make it clear.  I hold the up most respect to those in your profession.  Your job is very important and the work that you do is valuable.  I know that your job can be very tough at times and I appreciate you for your service.

I really don’t know what happened; why you pulled me over.  Maybe you were bored because it was out in the middle of nowhere and there was not much traffic at all.  Maybe you just needed to talk to someone.  Maybe, just maybe you made a mistake and you really thought that I needed to be pulled over.  I get it.  I’m human too.   I just want to tell you my side of the story.

I don’t get angry often.  I don’t get offended often, but when someone falsely accuses me of doing something that I am positive that I did not do, something that I am passionately against, I get quite upset.  Like when you accused me of not wearing my seatbelt and when you pulled me over, that I must have sneaked it on because I was obviously wearing it when you came to the window.

I know, I know, you don’t know me.  You don’t know that I NEVER, EVER go without my seatbelt.  You don’t know that since I was a child that my mother made sure that I ALWAYS wore my seatbelt, even back in the days when backseat belts were not required.  She made sure that some were installed if we bought a car without backseat belts.  You don’t know that wearing a seatbelt is ingrained into my subconscious self.  You don’t know that because of my mother, I have raised my kids the same way.  They are trained to ALWAYS wear their seatbelts.  You don’t know that I almost lost my Aunt when I was a teenager.  She wasn’t wearing her belt and was thrown from her car.

You don’t know that within a year this year that the small community that I live in has suffered from very bad accidents (I have no idea if seatbelts were factor or not).  You don’t know that I almost lost another Aunt and a best friend to accidents.  You don’t know that I was involved in my own vehicle accident…and guess what, I had my seatbelt on.

You don’t know that I am from an EMT and Firefighter family and that we have a pretty good clue about what happens when someone doesn’t wear their belts in an accident.

You don’t know that when I climbed into the car this morning to travel far to drop off my first-born child at school, that I buckled up before I even put the key in the ignition.  You don’t know that buckling up is so important to us that even the stuffed animals my daughter brought to school with her were buckled up!

You don’t know that I am not a liar.  I wish that you believed me.  I think that maybe you did.  I thank you for giving me a verbal warning, even when I don’t need it.

 

 

 

The longest half mile ever in a car

Most teenagers claim that their parents are weird and embarrassing.  When our teens say it, they are quite warranted.  Today was no exception.

Today was the last day of school and was a half day.  Our daughter found herself home in the afternoon with me on lunch break and her sick father.  Our latest family craving has been Crystal Light pink lemonade and we were all out of it.  She really wanted some, but was not willing to walk to the store and back, so she begged her parents for a ride.  Not wanting to drive her, I was happy to discover that I had to start walking back to work because my lunch break was almost over.  She proceeded to beg her father who, by the way, suffered from a pretty bad case of man-flu.

As he reluctantly agreed, I stood up and said, “Well, I had better start walking now” and just then there was a decent clap of thunder.  I swung around and begged myself, “Please, pleeeessse, can I have ride?  You are going to the store already”  Anyone who knows me well, knows that I have a huge fear of thunderstorms, bordering on phobia.  There was no way that I was walking now.  It took all the courage I had to just get to the car from the front door of the house.

By the time we got to the car, we were smack dab in the middle of the thunder storm with rain pelting down on the windshield and rivers running down the streets.  As we started out, just the short jog from the house to the car threw that man-flu into a full blown coughing fit.

As he hacked away, he started to slow way down, I mean I could have crawled faster that what he was going.  I looked out of the window and up in the sky and right at that moment, a flash of lightning lit up the sky.  I swear right above us.  The thunder was so loud it shook the car.  I started to freak out and exclaimed, “Oh crap!” out loud which made the coughing fit worse since he thought that I was talking about him.

Roger continued to hack, but this time way worse and as soon as his lungs were out of air, he would gag.  So now, between my panic attacks, secretly chanting to myself, “oh crap, oh crap, oh crap”, and praying that mister man-flu would stop coughing so that he could put the pedal to the metal and get me out of the apocalypse, I started to gag as well.

Somehow, with all of this going on, I managed to look behind me, and in the backseat was a very traumatized teen with her fingers in her ears.  I’m pretty sure that this was the last time that she will beg for a ride.  I must say though, that it was the longest half mile I have ever experienced in a car.  I’m sure that she must agree.

 

I’m Back!

I looked when I posted my last blog post and it was four years ago!  A lot has happened since then.  I went from a stay-at-home Mom to a working full-time Mom.  I returned to what I am born to do and continued my career in Early Childhood Education as a Lead Preschool Teacher.  My husband made a 180 degree change in career and went from a desk job to the medical profession as a Medical Assistant at a clinic in a neighboring small town.

When I stopped blogging four years ago, I was running out of material.  Now, I have four years of material!  Not to mention that being a Preschool Teacher of a bunch of three to five-year olds gives me daily ammo for exciting material.

With my family growing up and are self-sufficient, I am able to partake in more activities for me.  I have decided to become a volunteer fire fighter.  I can’t pinpoint why I want to do that particular thing, I just do.  It just feels right.  I want to give back in some way and that just feels like the right fit.  I am very lucky to be able to be part of a wonderful well-oiled team of volunteers who have given me a lot of respect for good people in this world.  If I am successful in my New Year’s resolutions, I will blog more about that later… there’s plenty of material there too!

Relationships: the definition of a team

Recently, my family and I found ourselves literally in the middle of nowhere with no cell service, below freezing temperature, late and in the pitch dark with a flat front tire. Usually, when things like that happen, there is a sense of urgency as a parent with their helpless kids sitting in the back, but this time I had a sense of calm. I was aware that my husband was practically born and raised on a race track, having changed tires hundreds of times probably since the time he learned to feed himself. It didn’t occur to me right away however, that the racetrack that my husband grew up on, didn’t race mini-vans. Mini-vans are a whole different breed of car.

We knew that there was a spare tire under the van, but how to get it out was another story. I knew where the jack was, since I was the last to use it (see my blog entry from a few years back when I tried to render the van a very expensive lawn mower). I had forgotten that a set of instructions came with it, but quickly threw them aside, confident that my husband knew how to change a tire.

I stood patiently outside with a light source directed under the vehicle as my husband hunted around for some way to get the tire released. Again, they don’t usually store the spares under race cars at the track. As I stood, even with a sweatshirt and wool coat on, I began to shiver uncontrollably. My husband, being an EMT realized that wasn’t a good sign and started to panic, frantically feeling around the trunk area for some kind of inkling that we could access the tire from the inside. That’s when I came to my senses and picked up the instructions.

Due to reading the instructions, I was able to locate the small little bolt under a tiny carved out half circle of carpet. By using the detached handle from the jack, I loosened the bolt, lowering the tire that rested under the vehicle. By doing that, I warmed up and ceased shivering.

The rest went smoothly as it could, (we could have used some of those pneumatic tools from the race track) and off we went (very slowly) on the spare until we reached our home safe and sound.

Later, after it all happened, I pondered, then marveled over our little experience that we had together. I realized that all that happened was a very good example in team work. I have been very fortunate to have wonderful parents who taught me by example that a marriage is nothing other than a team. Heck, any kind of relationship; co-worker, parent/child, family.. they’re all teams.

Within a team, each person brings to the table their own unique skills and has their own special job so to speak. If a team was comprised of those with the same knowledge and same job, it would crumble. If I didn’t have my inherent female sense to actually read instructions, (something that I learned early on, that if it had to be assembled with the “instructions included”, it was my job.) we all would had frozen to death. We would all have frozen to death if neither of us knew how to change a tire as well. I know how to in theory, I just haven’t actually done it.

Another very important part of teamwork is the treatment of the teammates. Both of us knew very well that the tires were bald (we didn’t know they were that bad), but did either one of us take action before the blow-out? Neither of us took action. Both knew without explanation that if we stood there and laid blame, pointing our pre-hypothermic fingers at each other, it wouldn’t fix a thing. There was no sense in blame or complaining. What had happened, happened, and it was our responsibility as a team to fix it. We were not going to waste precious time by dwelling on the past, or dwelling on what is.

We also had an unspoken agreement to not hassle each other about lacking the skills the other had. We understood, each of us had a special purpose, and didn’t expect the other to know it all. Okay, okay, I did make a quick tongue-in-cheek comment about the strange phenomenon with men and instructions, but that was the end of it.

We also knew that even though it seems as though I am always in his head (as all couples learn to do after so many years together) and it seems as though we always move in sync, but there are times when neither of us know what the other wants unless it is communicated verbally. Even though the light I was shining where I thought it was supposed to be, it turned out that it was not and I was asked to move it slightly to the left or right. There was no, “you should have known”.

In the end it all worked out smoothly effectively because we had the “team”. That’s when I realized what a relationship of any kind really is, or should be.

False incrimination; a day in the life of an innocent parent

One of the many things that I enjoy about motherhood is watching my children try to figure out this so-called life and the funny things they say as they make their observations and assumptions. Things like, “Why can’t we just eat through our belly buttons since that’s where the stomach is?”.

Although their perspectives are usually humorous, at times they can be embarrassing and downright falsely accusatory. When I was at the DMV recently, trying to get my licence renewed, my 6-year old stood next to me, taking it all in. I swear, out of the blue and all on his own, he announced to the nice lady on the other side of the counter, “We have State Farm Insurance!” as if he was coached to say so. I found myself explaining to her that yes, indeed I have insurance, and that the proof was not intended to be what appeared to be a coached 6-year old. He has been watching recently, myriad af insurance commercials on TV (really, they can’t be avoided unless the TV is turned off) and studied them as if they were some kind of social clubs. He asked one day, as if he was afraid that we had excluded ourselves from these elite clubs, if we had insurance. He seemed to be relieved that we indeed belonged to one of those clubs… he was somebody.

This situation was only mildly uncomfortable, and I took it as a pro, being in more embarrassing moments in the past. It reminded me of the time when my youngest wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye, and I had taken my oldest out shopping for a friend’s baby shower. She was to have a baby boy and together we carefully chose a nice soft blue baby blanket and a few more trinkets to go along with it. By the time we found our gift, I was tired and ready to just get out of the store. I found it strange that the total bill came out to be slightly more than I had expected, but I paid it and left the store.

Still wondering what happened with my calculations, I studied the receipt after I got home. A mistake was made, the blanket accidentally scanned twice and I was charged for two blankets instead of just the one that I brought home. I verbalized my frustration to my husband who then encouraged me to go back to the store to get a refund. “But how would they know that I am telling the truth?” I said, positive that someone had to try buying two before, then accusing the store of making the mistake of charging twice getting a free refund, therefore making it hard to prove the honest mistake that happened with me. With much encouragement from my husband, I made my way back to the store with my oldest in tow.

To my surprise, without even a questionable look out of the corner of the eye, the store returns person fixed the problem and refunded my money. As we turned and walked away, my daughter said loudly and with amazement, “Wow! They actually believed you!”. Even though I was completely innocent, I didn’t visit that store for many months afterwards due to sheer embarrassment.

Yet another resolution post…

It’s been a while since I have posted. I figure it is time that I do and what better way to start than with yet another New Year’s resolution post. It’s seems silly that one of my resolutions, one I have had for as long as I remember, is to not procrastinate, and here I am, nearly a month late, posting about what my resolutions are. I try to think of it in a positive light and call it ‘prioritizing’. This year is different though. In the back of my mind, I still want to work on my procrastination, but I am going at it in a different way.

Many people make resolutions then joke that it only lasted a few days. Then they complain about how useless resolutions are, so why do it? I have thought that resolutions at the new year are important and a good chance go make self goals to strive to being a better person. I don’t know many people who want to lay stagnant with no personal goals.

I got to pondering though, about why so many of us, including me, fail? Sometime during the past year I saw an interview on TV of an author (I forgot her name, and title of the book unfortunately) about her new self-help book. The subject was self-talk, and more specifically the negative self-talk. One of her examples in the book, and I am paraphrasing, was from childhood she was told that she had weak ankles. Throughout childhood she told herself that she couldn’t do certain activities such as roller skating. It wasn’t until adulthood that she decided to try to ski, still telling herself that she wouldn’t be able to do it because she had weak ankles. She ended up trying it, succeeding, and realizing that the lifetime self-talk was a farce and didn’t do her any favors.

I belive that for many of us, the reason that we fail at resolutions is that we have the habit of telling ourselves that we won’t succeed, that we are not good enough, that it’s just another resolution that will be broken eventually. Think about it. How many times have you said, “I can’t because…” and “I am not good at (insert subject) because…” or “It’s just not possible because…”? I bet when you get right down to it and look closely, it’s quite a bit. I know I do.

I don’t know how many times I have had someone tell me that when they were kids, they thought they were over-weight, but when they go back and look at photographs, they say, “hey, I actually looked pretty good!”. Guess what. I think every one of those adults are over-weight! I am almost positive that those adults are over-weight today because for their whole lives they engaged in negative self-talk.

So, my goal for myself this year is to try at least, shut up that negative voice that tells me that I can’t, or not I’m good enough to succeed, and listen to the positive one who busts through all the roadblocks and says, “yes you can and you will because you will find a way!”

The humorous side

There is that saying, “there is always a bright side to every bad situation”.  I think there is from time to time, a humorous side as well.   

My sister-in-law is going to college, and from time to time she asks me to proof-read her papers that she writes.  Recently, she asked me to proof-read a paper that she was going to send via e-mail.  I was to expect it during the weekend sometime. 

Saturday morning came around, and there it was, bright and early, an e-mail from my sister-in-law.  I started to read it right away, eager to get it done for her, when I realized it was uncharacteristically poorly written.   The setting was strange as well, although I’ve had writing classes when the assignment was to think of a fictional character or situation and write as if it were non-fiction.

So, the e-mail began saying that my Sister-in-law was called last-minute to Madrid, Spain for business.  While there, she got “mugged” and all her money was stolen.  She was at the Embassy, but is trying to get money wired out for a ticket home.  Please send money.  Hmmm.  Wierd paper.

Still groggy, I started to ponder how I was going to tackle the strange paper of hers.  Before I got to start, intelligence kicked in, and I began wondering whether she had been hacked or not.  Long story short, she was indeed hacked and it all was a scam.

I am sorry for all what my sister-in-law went through, that part wasn’t funny at all, but I can’t help but think what those crooks on the other end would have thought when they got a proof-read e-mail instead of the intended money!

If you don’t judge a book by it’s cover, you may be lucky and find an artist.

It is human nature to judge others.  Usually, I don’t like to resist nature and how it works, but this is once instance when I do.  I have had numerous events in my life, more than I can count, when I have learned to either not judge others, or in the very least, make my own judgements and never base my feelings on what others say.  I am still learning, I’m not perfect, even though I don’t believe in judging others, I still slip from time to time.

Living in a small town, we don’t have the luxury of curb-side recycle pick-up like I had come so accustomed to when I lived in the city.  The small town citizens have to collect the objects in our own recycle containers, then drive them to the designated site to dump them.  In our house, they accumulate so quickly, so when I do get around to delivering them, they fill the entire trunk of our vehicle. 

I have a small window in each day with a bit of free time when I rush around and get things done around the house before school is out.  One ordinary day, I used that  time and decided it was high time to take back my laundry room to get rid of the accumulated recycles.  I had better wait to drop them off, I concluded, until the youngest got out of school (he gets out slightly earlier than the others) because helping with recycling is his chore.  I have no idea how it happened, and parents out there, I have no tips other than magic about how I achieved this, but if anyone does one of the kids’ chores, they are in BIG trouble.  I can’t vacuum without getting a chew-out by the child who was assigned that chore!  So, if I were to do the recycles on my own, I would have had to hear about it until the day I died.

After picking the kiddo up from school, we headed over to the recycle drop off site.  As we drove up, I noticed a motor scooter bike with an old milk crate on the back filled with what looked like a bunch of junk and then several full plastic grocery bags lay at the floor where the feet usually rest.  A little chihuahua dog was running around, but there wasn’t a visible person around at all. 

I am painfully shy at times, and find it difficult to meet new people, so it was easy to make yet another of those dumb human-nature kind of judgements and I just didn’t want to deal with finding an unsavory person at the recycle bins… especially when I had my kid with me.  I just about continued on, but a voice in my head convinced me that I was being silly, making those dumb judgements again.  Besides, I already told my kiddo that we were going to do his very favorite chore… what was worse?  Listening to him whine and complain, or meeting someone new?  I parked the vehicle.

As I climbed out of the van, I noticed a head pop up in the great big, metal recycle bin that looks like one of those giant garbage bins, but with windows to throw the various articles to be recycled.  Then out climbed someone.  First came a leg, followed by two more arms and the other leg.  Now there was an owner to that bike and dog.  Still, not really knowing what to think, I pretended to be unphased by all the weirdness and by what had just happened and continued to the rear end of our van to quickly get the recycles out and get our job done as soon as possible. 

The woman who had just crawled out of the bin, metal in one hand, pop bottles in the other joyfully announced that she was going to use the metal square forms to create a hanging lamp shade, and the bottles as a form of shrinky-dink art.  She went on to explain that the beautiful blue glass alcohol bottle in her milk crate could be a modern style hanging light shade as well.  I am sure she felt compelled to share that information because she had some concern about how I felt about stumbling upon a person climbing out of a recycle bin.

We ended up talking for a full half hour!  The delightful woman was a quirky artist (the best kind) who had deserted her college degree for a life of art made out of re-claimed objects.  With her very successful blog she writes about her art and the pieces she creates, she is able to make a pretty good living!

So I just passed yet another lesson in the grand old school of life.  Never judge those who dumpster dive… there may be an awesome artist in there!

Perceptions

I’m one of those people who enjoys the study of human nature wherever I go.  Not to make fun of people, just to understand how we all work.  One category from my personal human nature studies quest is perception, and how some can have such diverse perceptions of the same event.  I took a psychology class years ago that introduced me to the theory that nobody can ever have the same perception as anyone else.  Our perceptions can be similar, but they are unique to each and every person.  My mission from then on has been to try to understand what other’s perceptions may be like.  My favorite thing to do is watch young children make sense of this crazy world they were born into.  I enjoy it mostly because their perceptions are usually pretty humorous as they sort it all out.

This summer, the kids and I have enjoyed time at the pool during what they call there, family swim.  Family swim comes at dinner time and at times, swimmers have been sparse.  One day, when things were slow, a teenage lifeguard took some of her free time to teach our oldest a little about being a lifeguard.  The lifeguards at the pool have an eye on her, so that sometime in the future, she can be a lifeguard herself. 

The young lifeguard had our oldest jump from the tall look-out chair with a float, while the lifeguard acted as if she was drowning.  I must say, the lifeguard was quite an actress; it looked like she was drowning for real.  Our oldest then swam out to the drowning actress and “saved” her, just as she was taught. 

The whole time our two other children and I were watching, me beaming with pride.  The youngest however, had a whole different perception of the event.  After all was done, he pointed to the lifeguard and said, “That girl isn’t a very good swimmer”.

Oldness

I heard a theory years ago that one way to age faster is to believe that you can’t do things because you are too old.  Just the belief that you are old is a factor.  Thanks to my knees (which I am sure is a genetic gift) I have been forced to think of myself as being old.  I make those grunts when I squat, and bend at the waist because after all those years of trying to save my back by bending with my knees, I screwed them up. 

It’s not the only thing that has been making me feel old, encouraging me to age faster than ever before.  Things have been floating around Facebook such as pictures of things like cassette tapes laying next to a ballpoint pen, with a caption about whether you are old enough to understand the correlation.  Of course I am old enough to know the correlation.  I spent many wasted hours of my life re-winding those cassette tapes with whatever worked… pens, pencils, dimes… anything.

I did have a good time recently with my middle child, however.  Our family was blessed to be able to ride in our small town’s fire truck in our prided 4th of July parade this year.  As we were waiting in the truck before the parade started, I suggested to the kids who were sitting in the back with me, next to the windows, to roll them down so that we could throw candy out to the young spectators.  Our middle child sat there, dumbfounded, trying to figure out where the heck the window button was.  The window was one of those old crank windows.  I sat there in silence, laughing hard inside.

What topped off my pity party about being so old, was one day, exhausted, I sat down in front of the TV thinking that I would treat myself with a vege-out time.  I noticed that a channel was playing a re-run of the 80’s, early 90’s show, “Designing Women”.  I used to love that show.  After watching it recently, I’m not sure why I loved it, but anyway…  Those women in that show would always be dressed to the hilt.  Always the nicest dresses, and the beautiful big hair with about a gallon of hairspray that was so popular those days.  I was enjoying my walk down memory lane when my oldest walked in and said, “What’s up with their hair???”.  I am sure she was disappointed to hear that’s the way they wore their hair those days, that no, it wasn’t an episode where all the women got electrocuted.  The thing is, there was a day when I was brainwashed into thinking that big hair was cool, proudly sporting a puffy doo for a school photo.

I have to tell myself, so that I can slow down things a little, that I have actually been lucky that I have had the chance to experience life, and how far and fast our society has moved.  I remember writing in a college paper about being in awe of how for we had come, and how exciting it was to imagine what is to come.  Back then there were no iPads, smart phones, not even mp3 players.  Word processors, the new (chunky)wireless phones, and CD’s were the top of technology.  Now, I am in awe with our current technology and wonder what’s it going to be like when we see images of iPods, and say, “are you old enough to remember what these are?”.  I’m just going to have to accept it.  I’ll still be old… but hopefully with better knees.