Friday, May 29, 2009

Leaving Your Mark on the World

Happy Friday, everyone! I love four-day weekends, because the next week is shorter.

I rejected the next two questions in the book--well, I might come back to one of them, but not the one that asked if you could kill the pet of anybody you know, whose pet it would be. Jeez. I'm not a pet killer and if you secretly wish you could be, don't tell me, okay?

So the question for today became: If you were to be recognized by posterity for one thing, what would you like to be known for?

Easy. Writing fiction.

Guess I should get to writing fiction and not blogs, huh?


Thursday, May 28, 2009

When I Was Five

Yesterday Mr. Blue slept late (till 8:45! It was a miracle!) so I had some extra time to write. I pulled out a book called What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers and started one of the exercises:

"Ask yourself, what did I care about when I was five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, etc.? What do I care about now?"

As sometimes happens with seemingly random exercises, the idea took off as soon as I put my fingers on the keyboard. I chose to write in the first person, trying to use the mindset and "voice" I would have used at that age. Since I have always written about my life, and writing things down is how I remember them, I was able to recall quite a bit of what was important to me at those ages. I've already written the first two and will keep working on the next ones (admittedly, it will be harder to express my emotions as the years give you more complex issues to deal with.) Since I was long-winded even when I was five, I'll just post one at a time. Here goes!
* * *

I love my mommy and daddy and my baby brother. Although my brother is not as much fun to play with as I thought he would be because he doesn’t listen to me when I want him to sit still and play school with me. He doesn’t even want me to read books to him! But that’s okay because I can read books for myself. My favorite books are the Little House on the Prairie books. I wish I could ride on a covered wagon like Laura. But I do have a sunbonnet that Mama got me. I like to go outside and pretend that I live on the prairie. I collect nuts and make mud pies and fun stuff like that.

School is pretty fun too. My work is easy for me. I’m the littlest one in the whole school and I wish I had someone my exact age to play with but the bigger kids are nice to me even though when I say things they sometimes laugh and I don’t know why they’re laughing. I don’t like my teacher much though; she’s kind of mean and she doesn’t explain my math so I can understand it. I wet my pants one day because she took too long to find out what I needed. She felt bad and told me if I needed to go that bad, just to go ahead and go to the bathroom. I wish she had told me that before!

My daddy is a pastor so we go to church a lot. He’s the one who gets up in the pulpit and preaches and everyone has to sit there and listen. Sometimes he kind of yells but it’s not scary because my dad is not at all a scary type of person. I AM scared of the church when it’s dark inside. A teenage boy told me there’s a boogeyman in there and I can’t stop believing that even though Mama told me there isn’t. But then why do they talk about the Holy Ghost so much?

Oooh, cookies! Can I have one? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease? Okay, you're my favorite bestest friend in the whole wide world!


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

In Their Eyes

I decided to interview Miss Pink, age 6, about her mother, after seeing these questions on a couple of great blogs. It's so fun to get her perspective on things, even when the "thing" in question is me.

What is something I always say to you? "I love you."

What makes me happy? Chocolate. [Smart girl.]

What makes me sad? When you're alone.

How do I make you laugh? When you tickle me.

What was I like as a child? You had the same hair as me, and you had green eyes.

How old am I? 33. [Correct.]

How tall am I? (Thinks) 53 inches. [Not correct, but not that far off.]

What is my favorite thing to do? Read and be on the computer and spend time with me.

What do I do when you're not around? Be on the computer--but I don't know 'cause I'm not here.

If I become famous, what will it be for? Fashion. [Very sweet but I doubt it!]

What am I really good at? Wait--let me think. At the computer. What do you do on the computer?--Play games. [Uh, no, except Scrabble occasionally.]

What am I not very good at? You're not very good at playing outside with us. [Sad but true.]

What is my favorite food? Chocolate.

What makes you proud of me? When you blow bubbles for me and read me a story.

If I were a cartoon character, who would I be? The mom on The Jetsons. [??? Although I would like a robot maid.]

What do you and I do together? Read.

How are you and I the same? We both have green eyes--mine are turning green, anyway.

How are you and I different? I have blonde hair and you have brown hair.

How do you know I love you? Because I was born in your tummy.

I tried to ask Mr. Blue, age 3, the same questions. We got to number 7 before he started saying "I don't know" to every question while spinning around in circles.

What is something I always say to you? "I like chocolate." [Seriously, is chocolate all I talk about?]

What makes me happy? When I stop crying.

What makes me sad? Cry.

How do I make you laugh? I don't know.

What was I like as a child? When you be a girl.

How old am I? 23. [I love this child!]

How tall am I? That big.

Here is Miss Pink celebrating her kindergarten graduation. I love the look on her face! This is how we experience the joy that is Miss P about 95% of the time. (You don't want to see a picture of the other 5%, but I'll take that proportion.)

Mr. Blue was harder to capture at his end-of-the-year school program, because every single picture I took of him on stage was blurry (from him swaying and looking around rather than singing). But here is a picture of him at the church Mother's Day program looking cute enough to melt my heart.

P.S. Thanks so much to Martha, who gave me a bloggy award that I kept forgetting to acknowledge. I promise I did appreciate it, Martha!


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What I Learned This Week #13

I am enjoying participating in the What I Learned This Week carnival every week. It's on Tuesdays at Musings of a Housewife, if you're interested in linking up.

At first I thought I hadn't learned anything this week. I didn't throw away any iPods this week, if anyone's wondering. I am using my husband's; he uses his even less than I used mine. I only use it at the gym, because when I'm with Mr. Blue I need to be paying attention to him and not to music. If you have ever been around a three-year-old boy for any length of time, you know what I mean.

But it turns out I did learn a few things this week.

I learned that when you are ordering from a company that has a catalog and a web site, don't give up if the web site isn't showing something in stock. Victoria's Secret is having its Semiannual Sale (as opposed to the sales they email me about every OTHER week of the year); however, the bra I wanted wasn't even on the site, and similar ones were more expensive. So I called the number in the catalog, spoke to an actual live human being after a short wait, and got exactly what I wanted.

Oh! This is a good thing I learned: Forever 21 has finally realized there are women who like their trendy yet affordable styles yet cannot squeeze into their teeny-tiny junior sizes. So now they have two other options: Love 21, which has sizes more like misses than juniors, plus the clothes are a little more sophisticated; and Faith 21, a plus-size line. I love what they're selling. Every time I check the site, more cute clothes have been added, which is fun but gives me the itch to spend! I'd show you what I got, but apparently it's already sold out: a knit dress with ruffles on the front in bright orangey-red (great color for me). I'm ready for summer (or will be when I get the dress AND Miss Pink is finally out of school)!

That's all I've got. Can't wait to see what y'all have learned this week!


Friday, May 22, 2009

Loss of Sense

Here's this week's Friday question! (I get these from a little book titled If... in case you're wondering where I come up with these crazy questions.)

If you had to lose one of your five senses, which would you give up?

I'd say smell, because I don't have a very sensitive nose anyway, but if you lose your sense of smell completely, you lose your sense of taste, and that would be unacceptable for me! I'm going to say hearing. I could still communicate through sign language and in writing, and I'd still get to see everything in God's beautiful world. It's kind of surprising since I'm more of a verbal than a visual person, but there are different ways to use words.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What I Learned This Week #12

I'm just going to get the most expensive thing I learned this week over with first. A word of advice: when throwing away your worn-out purse, you MIGHT want to check all the zippered pockets, because one of them could contain a perfectly good iPod. Which you haven't used in a while, but still weren't ready to throw out. And the garbage truck might come before you get back home.

Sigh. At least I didn't get a ticket as I sped home to try to beat the truck to my house.

The rest of what I learned this week has to do with my first week following the Weight Watchers plan. As I said in an earlier post, I found out I was in fact eating too much--at least, if I wanted to lose weight. I've been hungry quite a bit. Not all the time, but hungrier than I used to get. Apparently I used to snack a lot. Yes, I often ate fruit and low-fat cheese and all that, and I actually like raw veggies, but those weren't my first snack options--I love crackers and pretzels and yes, chips--anything crunchy and salty. Now I have to choose whether I want a few crackers or a cup of broccoli (zero points!) and I'm going for the more filling options. Those 100-calorie bags of popcorn are great.

An unexpected effect has been that food tastes better to me now that I'm not eating so much of it. Knowing that this is all I'm getting makes it more delicious. I'm not craving sugar like I was. I stayed within my limits every day and used some of the extra points for a tea party given for my brother and his fiancee. The sweets were delicious and worth it. But the next day at church, there was a graduation reception with cake and other food, and I didn't indulge.

Besides taking off the extra pounds that found their way onto my thighs during the winter, I think this is good for me to develop my self-discipline. It's so easy to say yes to all the tempting things that aren't so good for us in the long run. By planning ahead and deciding which treats are really worth it to me, I think I'm doing a good thing for myself.

For more learning experiences, check out the What I Learned This Week carnival at Musings of a Housewife.


Friday, May 15, 2009

At Least It Would Be Easy to Decide What to Wear

I deliberately stayed off the computer until now so Mr. Blue and I could have some quality time hanging out at home. But I do have a fun question for you today.

If you could keep only one article of clothing you currently own and the rest were to be thrown out, what would you keep?

Now I can't help overthinking the question, which by specifying one article of clothing, could lead to embarrassing situations if you had to choose between a top or pants. We girls could wear a dress, but that's not exactly practical in some situations. So I'm going to assume you get a basic top or pants to go with your favorite.

If I'm only going to get one piece of clothing, it has to be comfortable. So I'll say workout pants--my current favorite pair is lightweight, black with white stripes down the side, and they don't fit too tightly. I do wear workout clothes almost every day, at least part of the day. But thank goodness I don't actually have to make this choice!


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Meme Time!

This is a meme I just did on Facebook. The questions are more interesting than the ones made up by high school kids.

1) What bill do you hate paying the most?
Medical bills. Thank goodness we're not sick very often, but the routine checkups still get expensive (especially dental, since we don't have dental insurance, just a discount plan).

2) Where was the last place you had a romantic dinner?
Now that we have children, going out together anywhere alone is romantic! On our last date night, we went to a Mexican restaurant that was not a romantic spot, but we just enjoyed being together.

3) What do you really want to be doing right now?
Sleeping. It's sad, really.

4) How many colleges did you attend?

5) Why did you choose the shirt that you have on right now?
I wanted something cheerful: it's watermelon-colored.

6) What are your thoughts on gas prices?
I don't like it when it goes up at all, but I'm glad it's not $4 per gallon.

7) First thought when the alarm went off this morning?
Time to go wake Miss Pink up.

8) Last thought before going to sleep last night?
I hope Mr. Blue doesn't get any worse.

9) Do you miss being a child?
Yes. The freedom, having very little was great.

10) What errand/chore do you despise?
Judging from how I procrastinate doing it, sweeping and mopping the kitchen floor.

11) Get up early or sleep in?
Take a wild guess.

12) Have you found real love yet?
Without a doubt.

13) Favorite lunch meat?

14) What do you get every time you go into Wal-Mart?
Milk. We go through a lot of milk.

15) Beach or lake?

16) Do you think marriage is an outdated ritual?
Not at all.

17) Sopranos or Desperate Housewives?
I stopped watching the Sopranos (on DVD) a few years ago, but I've never watched Desperate Housewives. I still think The Sopranos was very well-written and acted. Does that answer your question?

18) What famous person would you like to have dinner with?
Since it didn't say the person had to be alive--C.S. Lewis.

19) Have you ever crashed your vehicle?

20) Ever had to use a fire extinguisher for its intended purpose?

21) Ring tone?
One of the ring tones that came with the phone. It sounds jazzy.

22) Strangest place you have ever brushed your teeth?
I don't think I have ever brushed my teeth anywhere strange.

23) Somewhere in California you've never been and would like to go?
San Diego.

24) Do you go to church?

25) At this point in your life would you rather start a new career or a new relationship?
Since I have a great relationship, it would have to be a new career. When the kids are both in school I will have to decide what I want to do.

26) How old are you?

27) Do you have a go to person?
That would be my husband. I can depend on him for anything.

28) Are you where you want to be in life?
As far as my marriage, children, friendships, and church are concerned, yes. I still feel restless wondering what God has in store for me.

29) Growing up, what were your favorite cartoons?
The Smurfs and the Looney Tunes cartoons.

30) What about you do you think has changed the most?
I've learned to control my emotions better than I used to (I have a way to go still).

31) Looking back at high school were they the best years of your life?

32) Are there times you still feel like a kid?
Sometimes, when I'm playing with my kids. I wish I felt that way more often.

33) Do you have a pager?
Do those even exist anymore?

34) Where was the hang out spot when you were a teenager?
There were several restaurants we went to after church on Sunday nights. Harrigan's and Cheddar's were two of my favorites.

35) Were you the type of kid you would want your children to hang out with?
Yes, I hope my children will be friends with goody-goodys like me who never get into trouble.

36) Who do you think impacted your life the most?
As a child, my parents.

37) Was there a teacher or authority figure that stood out for you?
Other than my dad, who is my pastor, not really.

38) Do you tell stories that start with “when I was your age”?
Only because Miss Pink wants to hear stories about my childhood.

39) What was the first new car you purchased?
That I purchased: the Acura MDX I just turned in for another Acura.

40) What is the scariest thing that has happened to you as an adult?
When Miss Pink had a febrile seizure at 1 year old and I honestly thought she might go into a coma because I didn't know about that type of seizure.

41) What advice would you give to someone about to get married?
Be willing to communicate until you work things out. Divorce is not an option (murder, maybe, but not divorce). And learn how to compromise and appreciate your spouse's differences (which means not to try to change him).

42) What's your favorite room in your home and why?
The bedroom (because I SLEEP there!) but I am enjoying the new playroom since the computer is there and the kids can hang out in there with me.

43) What advice would you give someone starting their first job?
Don't get involved in any more drama than you can help. Work hard and be reliable.

44) If you could go back and change one thing you did, what would it be?
Save money when I had a full-time job.

45) If you could go back and change one thing someone else did, what would it be?
Make Justin save money starting before he met me.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Keeping Children Safe (And Parents Sane)

The title of this post is taken from the subtitle of an excellent book I read recently called Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (And Parents Sane) by Gavin de Becker. I'd put the book on my to-read list months ago, but I only got around to reading it last week. And I am so glad I did.

De Becker is an expert in predicting violent behavior. He advises clients like the C.I.A. and the Supreme Court as well as presidents and movie stars in order to keep them safe; he also co-founded an organization to assist battered women and children. He has studied all the different horrible things that can happen to people--the type of things that grip a parent's heart when we think about what could possibly befall our children if we aren't there to protect them. Sounds like a book you don't want to read before you go to bed, right?

Yet Protecting the Gift is not as scary as I thought it would be. This is because de Becker tells parents that we are equipped with the tools we need to protect our children. The main thing we need to do, he emphasizes, is listen to our intuition. That little voice that says, "Don't let your child walk home alone yet," or "I don't trust the parents of my child's school friend." Too often we talk ourselves out of listening to our instincts, he says, out of a desire not to offend or because we simply tell ourselves "It's probably nothing." It may be nothing, but what's the harm in listening to our intuition? It turns out that a lot of danger can be avoided when we listen to what our "wild brain" (as he calls it) is trying to tell us.

De Becker says, "To tap into this resource, to reinvest in our intuition, to know how to avoid danger, to know, for example, who to keep our children away from, we must listen to internal warnings when they are whispers. The voice that knows all about how to protect children may not always be the loudest, but it is the wisest."

Personally, I felt empowered knowing that as a mother, I am as fierce as any other animal mother when my children are threatened. This book convinced me that I could do anything I had to do to protect my children. Most of what I need to do, however, is not physical defense. First, I have to choose not to be a denier.

What do I mean by that? Well, as the book makes clear, children are much less likely to face danger at the hands of strangers than with people they know. (The book includes tips to prevent kidnapping and attacks by strangers, but statistically speaking, your child is very unlikely to be kidnapped by a stranger.) Accordingly, we as parents need to realize that predators count on denial. If we say,"Oh, that would never happen because we only know nice people," or, "Not in this family," we are willingly burying our heads in the sand. How much better to be informed, and to use the knowledge found in this book to train our children not to be victims!

Some of the information in the book that I found most useful included descriptions of tactics used by predators to charm children (and their parents), and how to stop the possible predator in his tracks. There are lists of questions to ask child-care providers, doctors, schools, and parents of your child's friends before you let your child visit their home. Also, the Test of Twelve is a list of things your children need to be capable of before they are allowed to be in public without you. I intend to start teaching these skills in an age-appropriate manner so that when Miss Pink and Mr. Blue are somewhere without their parents, they'll know what to do to keep themselves safe.

Maybe I sound paranoid, but I promise you that the book isn't written to make you unnecessarily afraid. Personally, I'm glad to have some guidelines that are based on statistical facts rather than irrational fears. As de Becker promises, "By the end of this book, you'll know more and be uncertain less; see more and deny less; accept more and hesitate less; act more and worry less. How can I be so sure? Because if nature selected you for the job of protecting a child, odds are you're up to it."


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What I Learned This Week #11

1) My three-year-old son likes to clean house more than I do. On Friday, he asked me if we could clean. (Oh, the shame!) So we cleaned. Thanks, Mr. Blue, for keeping us from living in squalor!

Now he has to be restrained from spraying Windex on everything, including the carpet. He's like the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

I plan to remind Mr. Blue of these times when he's a teenage boy who leaves smelly socks around the house. And maybe squirt some Windex on him.

2) I had a very nice Mother's Day weekend, so I guess what I learned from that is that I am a lucky woman. On Saturday morning I lounged in bed while Justin made cinnamon toast, and then we did our usual Saturday things. Justin and the kids did most of the cleaning while I got groceries, but I did some cleaning and made chicken and sausage gumbo for some friends we hadn't seen in a while, and we had fun with them.

Then on Sunday morning I received what I'd asked for: a necklace made of brown stones, and something I didn't expect: a bracelet made of pewter-colored hearts, which Miss Pink had chosen. She also picked out a musical card with a sweet song for me. Later, we got to enjoy our church's children lead the worship service (Miss Pink knew all the words and the motions, while Mr. Blue turned around and stared at the video on the screens the whole time). My dad had to catch a plane right after church, so we picked up Pei Wei and treated my mom to lunch. I had a nap and Mother's Day was complete.

3) My favorite scrapbooking magazine, Simple Scrapbooks, is being shut down because of the economy. I am getting Creating Keepsakes instead, which, although nice, is not my style like Simple was. And since I am not visually creative AT ALL, I need simple designs to inspire me. What a bummer.

4) My friend (the one who came over Saturday night) is on Weight Watchers; she gave me a point tracker so I can lose a few pounds. I don't need to lose much--no more than five pounds, because I can't afford to get too large OR too small for my clothes. But I know that although I eat healthfully on a daily basis, it's the weekends and extra treats that gradually add up to extra pounds for me. And lately there has been a cake, or cookies, or Chick-Fil-A, or a husband who wants ice cream, in my life every couple of days. It had to stop somewhere.

So I decided to lose those few pounds and then go to the maintenance stage. And I'll tell you what I've discovered. (You veteran dieters are allowed to make fun of me.) I now know why I've never lost any weight when I was just going to do what all the articles say and just write down what you eat, rather than actually following a diet. I was simply eating too much to lose weight. I was really hungry yesterday, y'all.

21 points is not that much food, it turns out.

Actually, it's not that bad. I wasn't hungry when I went to bed last night, after I ate fruit and some rice cake snacks (3 points altogether, which was all I was allowed, and you'd better believe I was going to eat those three points' worth). And I went to a birthday party and passed up pizza and cake and soda, so there you go.

Plus I am motivated more to work out, so I can have those 1 or 2 activity points.

Stay tuned to see how this experiment turns out.

(And go to Musings of a Housewife for more learning experiences.)


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Why God Made Moms

Answers given by 2nd grade school children to the following questions:

Why did God make mothers?
1.. She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
2. Mostly to clean the house.
3. To help us out of there when we were getting born.

How did God make mothers?
1. He used dirt, just like for the rest of us.
2. Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
3. God made my Mom just the same like he made me. He just used bigger

What ingredients are mothers made of ?
1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in
the world and one dab of mean.
2. They had to get their start from men's bones. Then they mostly use
string, I think.

Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?
1. We're related.
2. God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.

What kind of little girl was your mom?
1. My Mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
2. I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty
3. They say she used to be nice.

What did Mom need to know about dad before she married him?
1. His last name.
2. She had to know his background. Like is he a crook? Does he get drunk
on beer?
3. Does he make at least $800 a year? Did he say NO to drugs and YES to

Why did your mom marry your dad?
1. My dad makes the best spaghetti in the world. And my Mom eats a lot.
2. She got too old to do anything else with him.
3. My grandma says that Mom didn't have her thinking cap on.

Who's the boss at your house?
1. Mom doesn't want to be boss, but she has to because dad's such a goof
2. Mom. You can tell by room inspection. She sees the stuff under the
3. I guess Mom is, but only because she has a lot more to do than dad.

What's the difference between moms and dads?
1. Moms work at work and work at home and dads just go to work at work.
2. Moms know how to talk to teachers without scaring them.
3. Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause
that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's...
4. Moms have magic, they make you feel better without medicine.

What does your mom do in her spare time?
1. Mothers don't do spare time.
2. To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long.

What would it take to make your mom perfect?
1. On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of
plastic surgery.
2. Diet. You know, her hair. I'd diet, maybe blue.

If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be?
1. She has this weird thing about me keeping my room clean. I'd get rid
of that.
2. I'd make my mom smarter. Then she would know it was my sister who did
it and not me.
3. I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on the back
of her head.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Moving On...

Today's question: If you had to live your life in a place that you have never lived in before, where would you live?

Well, since I've always lived in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, there are many possibilities. I could go the easy route and say Austin, but it seems like cheating to stay in Texas. Let's see, I would probably be most comfortable in the South. But not in Louisiana, where my in-laws are. Oops, did I just type that out loud?*

Other than that, it's pretty much wide open.

[sits here for several minutes staring into space]

Okay, for no other reason than I have heard nice things about these places, I might consider going to Atlanta, GA:
or Asheville, NC.

Can you tell that I'm a homebody? I want to VISIT a lot of places, but this is home.

*Don't worry, they don't even know what a blog is, much less that I have one.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Freaks I Have Known

I am working on a post which requires actual thinking since it's about a topic we mothers really care about: keeping our children safe. However, I feel the need to post so that y'all don't get disgusted with me for not posting and abandon me. (Needy much, Alison?) Also, I love these stories and not many people read them the first time when I originally published this on October 25, 2007.

Have I ever told you about my experience answering calls at a suicide hotline?

Well, when I was in college I thought I wanted to be a counselor. This unpaid internship at the crisis hotline was one of the reasons why I decided not to pursue that career.

Not that I would have spent my days as a counselor fielding obscene phone calls, which I did a lot at the suicide hotline. We had a bulletin board with index cards containing the favorite fantasy scenarios of repeat callers. Usually they would try to rope you in with a long, drawn-out story of a sexual nature, and if you recognized the story, you could call them on it. One caller said she was a very attractive blonde with an older boyfriend who got jealous when she talked to or danced with other men, which she wanted to discuss in detail.

I didn’t even need to look at the cards to know this was a fake story. Clue #1: It wasn’t a woman’s voice, but a man talking in falsetto. Clue #2: No woman I’ve ever known describes herself the way “she” did, listing her height, weight, body type, etc. as if for a personal ad, plus “she” just happened to have the measurements of a Playboy bunny. And Clue #3: I’d talked to this person the week before, when “she” had given the same story, only she called the jealous guy her husband instead of her boyfriend. A week ago he was your husband, and now he’s been demoted?

When I informed the caller that we’d already spoken before, I got a dial tone. Ha. I foiled that one.

Another guy was known to the volunteers as “Oedipus.” As his nickname suggests, his problem was that he was having sex with his mother (or sister). No, he did not want to go to counseling. He just wanted to talk about it. A lot. Don’t be surprised if you hear him breathing heavy. (I don’t think I ever actually spoke to Oedipus, thank goodness.)

Once I answered the phone to hear an effeminate male voice say, “I’m wearing a skirt!”

I hung up, but I wish I’d been quick enough to say, “Well, does it match your shoes?”

At least he got right to the point so I could tell him I was hanging up right away instead of wasting my time.

Of course there were calls from genuinely desperate people. I had to call the police a few times when someone seemed on the verge of committing suicide. Other times, I spent hours on the phone with people who weren’t necessarily suicidal, just very depressed and beaten down by life. I hope I helped some of them, by listening, clarifying, offering hope and counseling referrals. I will always remember a Hispanic woman, old enough to be my mother, who was trying to get up the nerve to leave her abusive husband. I think she did get some clarity when I pointed out that she wouldn’t want a man to treat her daughter the way she was being treated.

Other people were just clueless. Once I talked to a young guy, probably a few years older than I, who had just found out he’d given his girlfriend herpes. I felt a little sorry for him because he seemed so remorseful. Then after we had talked for about an hour about what he should do, his tone changed as he complimented me on how sweet I was. “Oh Nicole, if we had met in real life, like in a club or something, I think we could have really hit it off. You’re exactly the type of girl I’m looking for.”

I shook my head in disbelief. First of all, Nicole is not my real name, but the pseudonym I used—all the volunteers had them as a safety measure used to protect us from stalkers. He didn't even know me at all. Second… dude! You just told me you have herpes (not to mention a girlfriend)! Do you honestly think I’d be interested? At least it became clear how he got infected. “I don’t think I can help you any further,” I told him.

Human nature will never cease to amaze me. Not least because of its capacity for self-deception. But after that I decided I wasn't cut out to be a counselor.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What I Learned This Week #10

It's shaping up to be a busy week--shoot, a busy month. I never expected May to be so hectic, but we have birthday parties and shower invitations and Mother's Day events at both schools and graduation ceremonies for both schools. I just got an email from Miss Pink's teacher asking me why I didn't turn in an order form for her graduation pictures. Um...because the school has already taken my kid's picture twice this year, because they are trying to get more money out of us because they want to help us capture these precious memories that will NEVER COME AGAIN, so pay $50 for a picture package, you sentimental suckers! I decided I can take her picture in her miniature cap and gown for free.

So that is one thing I learned recently: I do not have to shell out money for school fundraisers. I keep repeating: "It is OPTIONAL. This is a PUBLIC school." I am still working on the guilt, though.

On the plus side for the school, I learned that Miss Pink is reading everything she can get her hands on. She reads ME books now. Can you feel my pride from here? I do still read to her, because she's into chapter books now. This summer, I plan to read several classic stories with her like The Secret Garden, which I think she will love. I just have to convince her to let me read her the Little House on the Prairie books.

Huh. I just learned that even though I am a good speller, "prairie" just looks wrong to me when I'm spelling it.

I also learned that I have been wrong about which groups sang certain songs I've known for years. My car flashes the artist and title onto a screen on the dashboard, which I LOVE because I hate liking a song and not knowing who sings it. But apparently the Eagles do not sing the song "Lights" (you know, "when the lights go down in the city, and the sun shines on the bay..."). Journey does. In fact, Journey is responsible for more songs than I realized. So now you know. I'm sure you will sleep better tonight.

One more thing: I learned that it's possible for my children to go from arguing with each other every 2.6 seconds, to laughing and playing together, all from me leaving them with their dad while I go somewhere else for an hour. I'll have to try that more often!

For other learning experiences, check out "What I Learned This Week" at Musings of a Housewife.


Friday, May 1, 2009


Hey, everybody. Hope you're having a good Friday and not worrying about the swine flu too much. If you are, here's a web site I've found helpful:

Here's today's "If" question.

If you were instantly able to play one musical instrument perfectly that you have never played before, what would it be?

For me, it would be the piano. Although I just realized that the question may exclude the piano for me, because I have taken piano lessons, but really I only "played" in the most elementary sense of the word. I have always wanted to be able to play so well that I put my whole self into the interpretation of a song, but alas, it was not to be. I didn't start lessons until I was thirteen, and by that time school and extracurricular activities (and thinking about boys) started taking up so much of my time that I dropped out after a year.

Why did I start so late, when I did want to take lessons earlier? Well, my dad had been forced to take lessons because his mother and older brother played, and he hated it. Even though I ASKED for lessons, he thought I'd want to quit (self-fulfilling prophecy, there). He and my mom said they couldn't buy a piano for me to practice on (I don't remember there being decent electric keyboards back then, either.) When I did take lessons, they rented the piano and returned it when I was done.

Oh well. Most people I know who took music lessons don't play into adulthood. Except my cousins, who got all my uncle's musical talent.

And that's my "sad" story from childhood for today. (My dad has since apologized for not getting us involved in more things, although I think he means sports, which I could have used, too.)

What instrument would you like to play perfectly?