Archive for the ‘Me’ Category

An Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama

This morning when Monkey woke up I told him that the man he picked to be president won.

Realize my 4 year-old picked you on a whim yesterday based on your appearance. So congrats on that.

I chose to break my two-presidential-election streak of third party voting (Nader, who has clearly gone cuckoo) to vote for you based on a lot more than Monkey – though I hope he has a good eye for character). Though it wasn’t a whole-hearted “Yay! I am votin’ Obama” vote like it has been for some, because I’m jaded. I chose you over McCain quite easily, because quite frankly the man scares me, with the Bomb Bomb Iran (sorry, not funny) and the “100 Years in Iraq” and Palin not knowing that Africa is a continent (thinks it’s a whole country, for reals). So take it as much as a vote against McCain as for you.

But Sen. (President-Elect) Obama, as someone who voted for you and watched history be made last night, I make one request:

Bring It.

A message of hope brought you to victory, and as such, you’re going in with a lot of expectations. Many think you’re the Messiah, while others think you’re the Anti-Christ. The Messiah camp thinks you will be the BEST PRESIDENT EVER, while the Anti-Christ contigent thinks the apocalypse is nigh and thinks, if we’re lucky, you won’t make it past four years. Some I know who voted for you think you will be a one-termer.

So Bring It.

Surround yourself with good people. Let the healthcare thing go, at least for a while (frankly, I’m not on board with your plan there) and help the market to correct itself. Get us out of freaking Iraq in a responsible manner. Fix what Bush broke.

Congratulations, and best of luck to you. W left you quite a mess. I know I would not want to be in your shoes.

I promise I didn’t drop off the face of the Earth…

We’ve been busy ya’ll. A wrapup:

  • We are wrapping up the Monkey’s swimming lessons. He has really enjoyed them this summer, and he is very confident in the pool now. We will definitely repeat these next summer, and likely for the Bear too.
  • The Bear turned two, and BHE turned 31, on August 1.
  • Monkey started school (Tuesday/Thursday pre-K) just shy of two weeks ago. LOVES IT. The school – a private school which teaches pre-K on up through high school – also asked me (to essentially volunteer) to teach Spanish to pre-K through elementary. I’m having a blast, and have deeply appreciated teaching advice from my crabby amiga. There’s a lot of sources I have used online for class, as I am still awaiting an official curriculum and am right now “winging it” – I will post later when I have some more time for all the linkage.
  • Soccer practice started this week. Wow, it really was like herding cats!
  • We’ve been watching the Olympics; as such, we promised Monkey that he can take gymnastics again after soccer season ends (he took gymnastics about a year ago and we quit mainly due to the drive; there’s now a place in town).
  • I’ve had a lot of work stuff (the job that pays me, in addition to the volunteer Spanish position), so that’s kept me busy too.
  • Unfortunately, exercise has suffered for me. Am considering taking up jogging…
  • I’m trying to read more. Right now, I am reading Trail of Tears, which is really good (I’m a big fan of non-fiction) in addition to trying to muddle through Ulysses (to which my brother commented “Yeah, good luck with that…”)

Fun with Search Terms

Just for kicks, these are how people have run across this lil’ old blog over the last two days:

  • Speed Racer Cake (all variants of this term) – 49. My pic of the cake on flickr has over 1,200 views. MADNESS!
  • “green cleaning” “kitchen floor” – vinegar, my friends. So cheap, so non-toxic.
  • crested gecko looking straight at light – can’t help you there. The gecko’s nocturnal though, so that’s gotta seriously mess with his head. We just leave the heat pad on at night, and use the lamp during the day when he’s hiding and sleeping.
  • how do avenue clothes fit? – I don’t know, how do they fit?
  • religious wrapping paper – I haven’t found any, but you might want to consult Texas in Africa who seems to have vast knowledge of religious novelty items.
  • free piano sheet music bizmarkie – flippin’ awesome, my friend.
  • teaching preschoolers about nadab and abihu – I get this from time to time. Best of luck, dear googler. Which reminds me, they’re recruiting Sunday School teachers for the next year at my church, and my poor sister-in-law STILL has not recovered from teaching preschoolers two quarters in a row. As for myself, I think I am ready to assist in a class with older kids – no more teaching my boys!
  • feeling good about myself – you go, googler!

Dude, where’s my bod?

In which I join the legion of women in complaining about my weight…OK, well, maybe not, because I don’t want to complain – complaining is not constructive really, is it? So call this a history – a typical mom’s weight struggles.

When I was growing up, I was one of those “off the growth chart” kind of kids. I was often the tallest girl in class, and my weight was proportional. I wasn’t chunky – I was just bigger. This ended in the sixth grade, when I hit about 5′ 3″ (I’m 5′ 4″ today) and stopped growing while everyone else kept on. And that was fine, really. I was pretty average in high school and on into college.

I don’t really regret much about my life, and don’t like regretting things and live to avoid that, but if I could change one thing about my upbringing it would be the lack of activity. I was the child that played piano (which I still love). I did a couple of active things in my early childhood – ballet and “cheerleading” – but for some reason these never lasted long. But sports (and I’ll group dance into it) was not a part of my childhood, so I never developed any type of exercise philosophy. I never saw that type of activity as important, and I never really liked P.E. to top it (except jump rope. I liked that). I especially loathed running – cripes did I HATE to run the mile.

Anyway, despite lack of exercise I did OK throughout high school. I even went to college and didn’t initially gain the freshman 10 – I actually lost weight (which how I did that on my Ramen and rice diet is beyond me). I should disclose that a friend pressured me to jog, but it was very sporatic.

Then I stayed with my folks for the summer and probably put on about 5 lbs. or so. Then I went to Mexico for my junior year.

I went as a vegetarian, which I was at the time. And let me say that, based on my experience, Mexicans do not “get” vegetarianism. I’m not denegrating the culture there at all – I love Mexico – but (as I was told by Mexicans I met) – they just don’t understand why people would choose NOT to eat meat. In that culture, you don’t eat meat because you can’t afford it – and many can’t from time to time. So choosing to cut out that food option is just stupid in many Mexicans’ viewpoint. It probably smacks of gringo elitism, truth be told.

But I remained a vegetarian in Mexico – a bad vegetarian. I ate A LOT of avocado and cheese sandwiches, and without the hallowed hills of UTK to walk daily, the weight started to pack on. And I returned to UTK the next year probably one-two sizes bigger than I had been (I don’t weigh myself. I go by how the clothes fit on me and how healthy I feel). My Pasta Roni diet my final year at UTK didn’t help matters.

After graduation I got a job and moved back to Nashville (no longer a vegetarian, I should add, but this was unrelated to the weight gain). About a year after moving back, BHE and I joined a gym. And the weight started to come off, and I felt healthier than I had in quite a while. I recommend the ellyptical machines – they’re fabulous. We were members for a couple of years, but then I got pregnant with the Monkey and we dropped membership.

Pregnancy was pretty normal with the Monkey, and my weight gain was pretty normal. By the time we hit toddlerhood, weight was starting to drop just due to chasing a little man around all the time. My pregnancy with the Bear was right on track – I had actually gained LESS weight than with Monkey – and then, in the third trimester, I broke my leg. Lacking mobility and craving ice cream, my weight gain (while not terrible) was more than I would have liked. And we won’t talk about what two pregnancies have done to my stomache.

So I’m trying to attend an exercise class regularly, because I’ve learned that exercise is the only thing that’s going to make this weight budge. No gimmicks, no miracles – just simply getting in shape. Life gets in the way though, so I missed the last two weeks. And boy did I pay tonight when I returned to class. The class is intense and old-school and includes a lot of that running that I dreaded so much in elementary school. But now I welcome it. I want to be healthy. I want to be more comfortable in my clothes. Do I expect 18-year-old me to reappear? No; my body’s been through too much and it just ain’t gonna happen, though I wish I could tell that version of me that she’s a lot hotter than she thought she was.

Then again, 18-year-old me didn’t have BHE yet, and lacked that constant that I’ve had – no matter what shape my body’s in, I have his love and support. And for that I love him, and for that I thank him.

If they jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?

I guess the answer is yes, ’cause plastic please and Crabby Mama did it first.

I resisted the urge to include explanatory notes. And if anyone else does this, let me know.

1. Touched an iceberg
2. Slept under the stars
3. Been a part of a hockey fight
4. Changed a baby’s diaper
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Swam with wild dolphins
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a tarantula
10. Said “I love you” and meant it
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Stayed up all night long and watched the sun rise
15. Seen the Northern Lights
16. Gone to a huge sports game
17. Walked the stairs to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
19. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
20. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Bet on a winning horse
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Taken an ice cold bath
28. Had a meaningful conversation with a beggar
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Ridden a roller coaster

31. Hit a home run
32. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
33. Adopted an accent for fun
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Felt very happy about your life, even for just a moment
36. Loved your job 90% of the time
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied

38. Watched wild whales
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Gone on a midnight walk on the beach
41. Gone sky diving
42. Visited Ireland
43. Ever bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited India
45. Bench-pressed your own weight
46. Milked a cow
47. Alphabatized your personal files
48. Ever worn a superhero costume
49. Sung karaoke
50. Lounged around in bed all day

51. Gone scuba diving
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Done something you should regret, but don’t
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Been in a movie
60. Gone without food for 3 days
61. Made cookies from scratch
62. Won first prize in a costume contest
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Been in a combat zone
65. Spoken more than one language fluently
66. Gotten into a fight while attempting to defend someone
67. Bounced a check
68. Read – and understood – your credit report
69. Recently bought and played with a favorite childhood toy
70. Found out something significant that your ancestors did
71. Called or written your Congress person
72. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
73. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
74. Helped an animal give birth
75. Been fired or laid off from a job
76. Won money
77. Broken a bone
78. Ridden a motorcycle
79. Driven any land vehicle at a speed of greater than 100 mph
80. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
81. Slept through an entire flight: takeoff, flight, and landing
82. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
83. Eaten sushi
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Read The Bible cover to cover
86. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
87. Gotten someone fired for their actions
88. Gone back to school
89. Changed your name
90. Caught a fly in the air with your bare hands
91. Eaten fried green tomatoes
92. Read The Iliad
93. Taught yourself an art from scratch
94. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
95. Apologized to someone years after inflicting the hurt
96. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
97. Been elected to public office
98. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
99. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
100. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
101. Had a booth at a street fair
102. Dyed your hair
103. Been a DJ
104. Rocked a baby to sleep
105. Ever dropped a cat from a high place to see if it really lands on all four
106. Raked your carpet
107. Brought out the best in people
108. Brought out the worst in people
109. Worn a mood ring
110. Ridden a horse

111. Carved an animal from a piece of wood or bar of soap
112. Cooked a dish where four people asked for the recipe
113. Buried a child
114. Gone to a Broadway (or equivalent to your country) play
115. Been inside the pyramids
116. Shot a basketball into a basket
117. Danced at a disco
118. Played in a band
119. Shot a bird
120. Gone to an arboretum
121. Tutored someone
122. Ridden a train
123. Brought an old fad back into style
124. Eaten caviar
125. Let a salesman talk you into something you didn’t need
126. Ridden a giraffe or elephant
127. Published a book
128. Pieced a quilt
129. Lived in an historic place
130. Acted in a play or performed on a stage
131. Asked for a raise
132. Made a hole-in-one
133. Gone deep sea fishing
134. Gone roller skating
135. Run a marathon
136. Learned to surf
137. Invented something
138. Flown first class
139. Spent the night in a 5-star luxury suite
140. Flown in a helicopter
141. Visited Africa
142. Sang a solo
143. Gone spelunking
144. Learned how to take a compliment
145. Written a love-story
146. Seen Michelangelo’s David
147. Had your portrait painted
148. Written a fan letter
149. Spent the night in something haunted
150. Owned a St. Bernard or Great Dane
151. Ran away
152. Learned to juggle
153. Been a boss
154. Sat on a jury
155. Lied about your weight
156. Gone on a diet
157. Found an arrowhead or a gold nugget
158. Written a poem
159. Carried your lunch in a lunchbox

160. Gotten food poisoning
161. Gone on a service, humanitarian or religious mission
162. Hiked the Grand Canyon
163. Sat on a park bench and fed the ducks
164. Gone to the opera
165. Gotten a letter from someone famous
166. Worn knickers
167. Ridden in a limousine
169. Can hula or waltz
170. Read a half dozen Nancy Drew or Hardy Boys books
171. Been stuck in an elevator
172. Had a revelatory dream
173. Thought you might crash in an airplane
174. Had a song dedicated to you on the radio or at a concert
175. Saved someone’s life
176. Eaten raw whale
177. Know how to tat, smock or do needlepoint
178. Laughed till your side hurt
179. Straddled the equator
180. Taken a photograph of something other than people that is worth framing
181. Gone to a Shakespeare Festival
182. Sent a message in a bottle
183. Spent the night in a hotel
184. Been a cashier

185. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
186. Joined a union
187. Donated blood or plasma
188. Built a campfire
189. Kept a blog
190. Had hives
191. Worn custom made shoes or boots
192. Made a PowerPoint presentation
193. Taken a Hunter’s Safety Course
194. Served at a soup kitchen
195. Conquered the Rubik’s cube
196. Know CPR
197. Ridden in or owned a convertible
198. Found a long lost friend

199. Helped solve a crime
200. Responded to a NJP newsletter

Accentuate the Positive

I say the above not so much as advice to you, my dear reader (how many of you are there, anyway? Two?), but as advice to myself.

Today was one of those days with the boys. You say up, they say down. You say “Please don’t dump out all the crayons”, they look you straight in the eye and…dump out all the crayons. Especially Monkey, ‘cuz he’s four and has ‘tude.

Stuff that separately isn’t so much a big deal, but wears you down as it goes on through the day.

I was thinking, as I was stewing about the day, about how I rarely remember the “bad days” but can easily recall good moments. The good moments not only outweigh the bad ones in value, but also in quantity. I have good kids. They say “Thank you” generally without prompting – even almost-2 year old Bear! They give out hugs and kisses like you wouldn’t believe, and it’s so heartwarming to watch them bond as brothers, and watch as they laugh and giggle and jump and play (and roughhouse)  their way through boyhood.

I’m very blessed, and should remember it more often. Right now they’re sleeping like angels, in the room they’ll share more often as time passes, and tomorrow will be a new day.

What if…

Angelle had an interesting post up about two weeks ago that I’ve just now had the time to really attend to. Go ahead, read it and come back here.

It’s funny thinking about what ifs, isn’t it? I think anyone that’s had any major life change – and that’s pretty much any adult – can play that card. It’s weird to do.

Honestly, my “what ifs” always end with “Well, it all worked out, didn’t it?” because I am very happy right now – awesome husband, great kiddos, two dogs, house, etc… We’re livin’ the American dream here on Awesome Avenue.

I try to live my life without regrets, and feel I’ve been fairly successful at it. However, I will share my biggest what if*.

At the age of 12, my Dad got a new job and we made the trip two hours north from Decatur, Alabama to Franklin, Tennessee.

At the time, I was pretty jazzed about it. Sad to leave my friends, sure, but happy about this BIG CHANGE that was going to make everything different. See, I had a nerd label to me – I was “the one that always made the A’s, got braces at 10 and glasses at 12” – and I thought “wow, no one will know me in Nashville, and I can totally reinvent myself”.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I’ve since learned that you are who you are. Can you change things about yourself, learn and grow? Of course! But does the fundamental core of who you are change? Likely as not, no.

So I move up to Franklin, and I’m still socially awkward (who isn’t at 12? Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that at the time), and now I’m deemed as having a hick accent (I know, I know – I’m in Nashville, right?) and was ridiculed in class for it. By a teacher. Nice. During my two years in high school, I always had shaky hands which I think was caused by the social anxiety.

Anyway, I later got over all this, made some friends, settled in, and all was peachy. I would not change a thing. It all lead up to this – if I had not moved to Franklin, I likely would not have gone to UTK, and in turn would not have met BHE.

I do have to wonder, from time to time, what “Alabama Me” would have been like. Would I have stayed in-state for my schoolin’, or left the Pride of Dixie for opportunities elsewhere? I know I would not been allowed to attend ‘Bama by my Auburn-fan Dad… What choices would I have made?


*The second big what if – when I was about 13, Dad was offered the chance to move us all to Japan for a year by his company. He turned it down. When I found out about that, I was disappointed, as my ties to Tennessee were still quite weak and I thought living in Japan would be awesome. Que sera.

Back from Bloggy Vacay…

Lack of blogging due to a lot of work plus I was in Memphis for lil’ bro’s law school graduation – many pics taken at botanical gardens, of which I will share a few when I get a chance to upload them. I will say – I had not had an “adult break” in quite some time and, while I missed the boys and BHE more than I can describe, I had a very lovely weekend with my parents, brother and cousin. I came back quite refreshed.

Piano for the Kiddos

I’ve been meaning to look up EASY sheet music for the Monkey as we’d like both boys to at least be exposed to playing musical instruments, and as I play piano and BHE plays guitar (and we have a drumset that neither of us can really play) – we should be able to at least provide them with a start.

Anyway, I was looking for simple songs, and I hit jackpot here.

I picked a few songs I think he will like. Also, there’s plenty of room below the notes for me to write the coordinating letter, which will be helpful as I already placed letter stickers on the piano keys (in the middle C range). Wish us luck. Monkey claims that he “already knows how to play” so we will see how this goes. I’m definitely not going to force him into piano.

As for me? No freebie songs today – I have plenty of piano books here at home to wade through, and not enough time!

I want my mommy.

One of the things that can be frustrating about parenting, particularly about being the stay-at-home parent, is that when you get sick, there ain’t no such thing as a sick day.

The boys have a bit of the crud too, but were acting pretty normal – the way Bear was running around like a wild man, you wouldn’t know he’s sick. I guess kids just take illness better than we adults. I wanted my mommy to swoop in and take care of me. Maybe bring me a little chicken spaghetti while she was here.