Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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Chivalry? Just Do It

I have a question. Is chivalry really dead? To me, chivalry means being kind to others and doing something without being asked. Holding a door is a simple example and can be done by anyone being polite or considerate of the person coming behind them or allowing someone to go in ahead of them. It’s not limited to men. I do it all the time. Or maybe you envision the man offering his jacket to his date/lady friend who’s chilled. I gave my sweater to my daughter yesterday in church. See. we can all do it.

Here’s something I didn’t know about chivalry: it dates back to the 14th century, probably King Henry VIII since he was such a stickler about appearances. Chivalry by definition relates to knightly behavior, qualities expected from knights. Huh. I’d never have guessed. I thought knights rescued damsels in distress, jousted and basically did whatever they wanted or the king ordered them to do.  The first definition of chivalry in Webster’s dictionary is mounted men-at-arms. Not exactly what comes to mind when I think of chivalry. how about you? yeah, I thought so. The third definition is a gallant or distinguished gentleman. That’s a little closer to what I think of. Then it says the qualities of the ideal knight: chivalrous conduct. So….what exactly does ‘chivalrous conduct’ mean? According to my friend Mr. Webster, chivalrous = valiant. And not only that, but marked by honor, generosity, gracious courtesy and high-minded consideration especially to women.

I suppose the basis of it is why we almost expect to see it from men. Standing when a lady comes to the table (not so much these days, but maybe in our parents’ day), pulling out her chair, taking off a hat indoors. In movies, when there’s only one room left and the two people who are traveling together, but heaven forbid they should be romantically involved, the man always offers the bed to the woman to his own discomfort.

Every girl, no matter where or who, has dreams of her knight in shining armor coming to rescue her from whatever dread thing she has to go through, be it an evil step-mother, a pile of laundry, a dreadful boss, i could go on, but you get the picture.

We always like to think of our partners as being that person for us. So, what do you do when your spouse/partner/significant other has an opportunity to display true chivalry (gracious courtesy or high-minded consideration) toward you and just doesn’t? And not for lack of knowledge of what the situation is, it’s just a decision to not choose chivalry.  If it’s something that’s not normally displayed, you probably just go on, since you haven’t come to expect it anyway. But when it’s an aberration, it’s very disappointing, particularly when it’s more than just opening a door. Opening doors is nice, but not a big deal, I can do that myself. However, when this act of chivalry has to do with the parter/spouse/significant other directly, and it affects you in an adverse manner, it’s a real disappointment.

I say to you, don’t let chivalry die. Think of others before yourself without being asked to. Do something nice for someone else, just because. It doesn’t have to involve money either, holding the door for the person behind you, make a phone call just to say hello, a foot rub, doing something you can see that needs to be done before being asked (pick up your dirty socks, empty the dishwasher, you know the basics). Take the opportunities to show how much you care when they present themselves. I promise, it will not go unnoticed, no matter what you think, and it will be appreciated more than you know. Go on, give it a try, all that can come from it is good.

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Observations from the retail world

Yes, it’s definitely time for a new post and since everyone seems to be running around like ants these days trying to secure the ‘perfect gift’, what better subject to write about?

Is it just me, or do people to temporarily insane while in parking lots between Thanksgiving and Christmas? I have not seen any fisticuffs lately, but I’ve heard many angry horns and several obscene finger gestures over ‘stolen’ parking spaces. Is that really necessary? I mean honestly, would it kill you to walk a little bit farther?

When shopping, people PLEASE take the cart with you as you are leaving the checkout line. That is one of my all time pet peeves and it’s just plain rude.

And while I’m on the side of plain rudeness, when you leave the dressing room, take your things with you. That’s why there’s a person working in the dressing room, just hand them off, it’s really simple.

Whatever you do, do your very best to be polite to the customer service person. When the s— hits the fan, and it never has anything to do with them personally, they are the ones catch all of the crap. And having worked that position myself, I think it’s not uncommon for someone to just be having a bad day and want someone to yell at over something stupid that no one has any control over. Just remember, that could be you someday, behind that desk or cash register. Our economy is still kind of dodgy. So don’t turn into a raving lunatic the instant “Brenda’ asks ‘Can I help you?’

Here’s something I’m curious about. when you are looking for a particular shirt or sweater in a stack in your dresser/armoire/closet, do  you flip over all of them until you find the one you’re in search of? Or do you carefully lift them until you locate it?  I’m asking this because I’ve seen some really atrocious behavior in retail establishments. People who are well dressed and perfectly normal-looking in search of the last size medium of the purple argyle sweater flip over every single stack of neatly folded sweaters in their efforts. And when they come up empty, they simply walk away, leaving what looks like a tornado strike on that table. I implore you, please don’t do that. The retail employees are not paid enough to clean up your messes. Someone will have to stand there and refold that whole pile, cursing you as they do it. So it’s simple, be courteous and considerate of the employees who work there. Once again, some day it may be you folding the mess that others leave in their wake.

This happened yesterday, to me, so I know it’s true. When purchasing clothing that is on a hanger, don’t assume the little letter “M” or “L” on the hanger is really denoting the item that is hanging on said hanger. My BFF bought me a lovely cardigan, but alas, she did not have her glasses with her and relied on the hanger that showed an “M” on it. Imagine her surprise (and disappointment) when I opened the gift and saw the tag that read “XL”. Yeah. Two of me could fit in an XL. Not to brag, but I’m like the Weebles, remember them, heavy on bottom and light on top? Yep. I’ll likely never be accused of being an XL on top! No worries though, I’ll exchange it this week.

And always, always, try to keep in mind the reason for the season. As the corporate people who crack the whip on my husband may believe, the reason is not sales goals. I remind my children constantly, the reason for this holiday season is the birth of Jesus. Our savior. Not gifts. Not parties. Not shopping. Although all of those are fun. Let’s just try to remember what it’s really all about and do something for someone in need. Adopt an angel from the tree at the mall. Serve food at the homeless shelter. Volunteer to pack groceries at the local food bank. Pay it forward and pay the tab of the car behind you in line at whatever establishment you’re at. Do something selfless and anonymous. And, if you can’t physically do any of that, you can always donate money. Times are tight for all of us and when we pull together, we can do amazing things.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good night!

Love you all and I hope you have a very merry and safe Christmas and holiday season, however you choose to celebrate. xoxo


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For My Dad

Eleven years ago today, my world lurched,  tilted on its axis, and came to a screeching halt. It was the day my dad died and my life changed. I remember waking up the next day crying that I wanted my daddy back. As I got myself back together over the following days and attempted to pick up my normal routine, it just seemed so odd to me, and unfair that the world went on. People still went to work, the grocery, the mail was still delivered, the sun still rose and set, as if nothing had even happened. And here I was with a gaping hole in my chest feeling like everything was going to fall out at any second.

In 1981, my parents divorced and less than a month later, Dad was in a really serious car accident and nearly died. The accident was the result of a brain tumor that caused him to black out. I was 13 and my world was crashing around my very narrow shoulders. Talk about a basket case.

Dad went through surgery, chemo and radiation and was declared cancer free. We danced and thanked God. Dad also did his part to get healthy, he quit smoking and found some diets that would help rebuild his body and make him stronger.

My dad was an amazing man. He had a dry sense of humor and  loved bad jokes and pulling pranks on his friends. As far as I was concerned, he knew everything and could fix anything. Above all, he loved my brother and me. When doctors told him that his type of cancer had a low survival rate, he told that doctor it was not his job to tell him when he was going to die. he was that kind of person. He was very headstrong, but also very kind and loving. A bear of a man with the heart of a teddy bear.

Dad was the one who told me I could do anything I wanted to if I worked hard enough for it. He encouraged me to do things and try new things and always built me up, even if he thought I might not like something. When I was in 6th grade I think, I decided I wanted to play soccer. Even though he knew nothing about the sport, he volunteered to be one of the coaches. He showed me the value of hard work and acceptance. In a part of the country where prejudice and bigotry run rampant, he taught me to look at the person as a whole, the color of our skin does not define who we are and we’re all the same on the inside.

In the late 90’s, dad’s cancer returned and he began having increasingly regular blackouts, several of which lead to car accidents. One of those was extremely serious and landed him in the hospital for several days with multiple broken bones. he never really recovered from it and died 8 months later.

He lived long enough to see my brother and I grown and to walk me down the aisle at my wedding. he was even able to hand me my diploma when I graduated chiropractic college and followed in his footsteps. I miss him like mad and so wish he could’ve met his grandchildren. He would be so proud of them.

I love you dad.

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Freecycle

Everybody seems to be using the ‘G’ word these days. I prefer the ‘E’ word, environment. As in environmentally aware and environmentally responsible. I think that really almost says more, to be perfectly honest. I try to be aware of what I’m doing and how it will impact our environment and what I can do to be more responsible. Seriously, if you’re responsible for cleaning up the mess you create when you’re making dinner, why not be a little more responsible for the mess we’re making of our environment? HULLO, BP!

I just got back from walking my dog and saw many things being throw out with the garbage that could have been recycled or Freecycled. Many larger cities now have recycling programs that are low or no cost to the residents. Here, the city has a twice monthly pick up of paper/glass/aluminum/plastics for the low low bargain basement price of $2/mo, which is billed on the city utility bill. How easy is that? My friend lives in St Louis, they have a FREE citywide recycling program and the city provides the large wheeled cans for the recyclables. We also have recycling stations that are totally free and accept more things than the residential pick up, such as cardboard, metal cans, motor and cooking oils, in addition to the others. These recycling centers provide jobs for people with disabilities or other barriers to employment. And the best part, other than keeping the paper/cardboard separated from the rest, I just throw my plastic/glass/cans in the same bin. I drive up, unload my bins and I”m on my way. Couldn’t be easier!

Now, the other way to get rid of unwanted things that I love is Freecycle! What is Freecycle you ask? Freecycle is a national network of people who are recycling in a different way.  for example, one of the things I saw this morning on my walk was a suitcase. It looked perfectly fine, a suitcase being thrown out with the garbage that will take up space in our local landfill, when someone else may be able to use it. Anything that may be headed for the landfill that someone else might be able to use, that is what you’ll find on Freecycle. And it doesn’t all have to be working. I’ve seen many non-working lawnmowers/string trimmers/washing machines and the like on there and people take them for parts, I assume. But seriously, why wouldn’t you want to pass something along to someone who can put it to use, versus trashing it because you don’t know what else to do with it.  A few other things I saw today that could’ve found new homes: built-in microwave, laundry basket, pink plastic princess play vanity, rugs. I’ll tell you who could’ve used each and every one of those things: Microwave-landlord/repair shop, laundry basket-college student/someone who’s recently moved out on their own, princess vanity-daycare/children’s shelter, rugs-animal shelter for bedding.  See how easy that was? You simply post the things you have to give away, people email you and you get to choose who gets what. They come and pick it up. Easy peasy. I”ve given away an old gas grill, an entry door when we had ours replaced, and our old dishwasher (it still worked and none of our local charities would pick it up).

If you are upset about the devastation in the gulf and all of the pollution being dumped, you should also be worried about your local environment, and our mother earth. Let’s all do what we can be it recycling the plastic shopping bags at the grocery, using reusable shopping bags (many stores give a discount for each bag you bring), recycling the normal recyclables, or joining Freecycle. It isn’t hard or inconvenient and once you get in the habit, you won’t think twice about it. I keep a bin in my kitchen and take it to the station when it gets full. We should all do what we can to reduce the needless garbage and pollution we are inflicting on our beautiful planet.

Check it out and get started today!


Merry Christmas!

And what a day it is! We had 6 to 8″ of snow yesterday on top of about 1″ of sleet and the FIRST ever blizzard warning for our state! It is definitely one that we will be talking about for a long time to come.

I am very thankful that we don’t have work and school to worry about missing today. We are able to just spend time together playing and hanging out. Enjoying each other for a bit. Later, when the windchill isn’t in the single digits, we’ll go out and build snowmen and have some fun outside and then come in for hot cocoa with loads of marshmellows!

My living room is strewn with the remains of at least an hour or two’s worth of wrapping, clothes, toys, random and miscellaneous stuff and a few lonely presents still under the tree waiting for the snow to clear so we can venture out and deliver them to their intended recipients. It essentially looks like a department store threw up, yeah, I think that’s a pretty good description, just because of the sheer variety of things lying about. Shoes, Lego’s, candy, Nerf guns, books, video games, board games. Wow! What a haul. I even really tried to scale back this year. Honestly, I think I was able to scale back a bit, but it still looks like my kids made out like bandits!

Me, my gift was spending time with them and seeing the pure joy on their faces and thinking about the families of the children I purchased for from the Angel Tree.  How the kids’ faces must have lit up seeing the presents under the tree, if they had one, and the joy on the parents’ faces knowing someone cared enough to help them in a time of need.

Now if we could just keep the feeling of love and caring going all year long, how wonderful that would be.

I hope this finds your heart full of love and your home full of friends and family sharing this wonderful day. I wish you the Merriest of Christmases and a blessed New Year!

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Merry Christmas, now listen to NIKE and do it!

I know you’ve passed by those Angel trees, bell ringers, and collection boxes and thought, ‘I wish I had the time/money/canned goods to give, but I”m just too busy/broke/distracted right now.’  Well guess what? You are not too broke to toss a couple of coins in the kettle or buy an extra can of corn or a little toy for someone in need. What are you waiting for?  Do what Nike has been telling you to do for years! DO IT! and btw, DO IT NOW!!!!

I think I posted about adopting angels from our local Salvation Army angel tree. I did it and I went back two more times for more names.  There were just so many still there, I couldn’t bear the thought of children not having a gift on Christmas.  Or the stress of the parent worrying about it.

I wanted to do more for more people.  I knew I could do better.  I had some old tangled up, mismatched, ugly old jewelry that I’d been meaning to take to a gold buyer here in town and today, I was on a mission.  I was there before they opened the doors and walked out with a lot more money than I thought. It allowed me to take 4 more angels from the tree. I also read in the news today that our Toys for Tots program is 11000 toys short this year.

I made my plan and I went for it. I bought warm hats and gloves for all of my angels. It’s really cold here right now, it won’t stay this way all winter (I hope) but it’s always good to have the things you need when you need them. I bought them warm fleece pull-overs and shirts and some toys. I am taking my children today when they get home from school to pick out toys for the older children, the ones their ages. I want them to understand that not everyone is as fortunate as we are. They are young, but not too young to understand helping people in need. I sent with them to school today, 15 pairs of gloves for the hat/scarf/mitten tree for children in our school district.

I had a surprising response when I took the gifts for the last 4 angels I got today. I had a big green net bag slung over my shoulder, feeling rather like Santa, minus the red suit, beard, big belly and other things 😉 and stood for a moment watching the girls unpack the gifts and sort them into piles. It really struck me how something like that will affect so many other people.  The children, of course, but the rest of their family as well. They will see that people care about them and want them to have a good Christmas. As I watched the girls doing their magic, it really brought tears to my eyes seeing what I had done for these kids and made my heart expand, kind of like on the ‘Grinch’ at the end when his heart grows. I dont’ think I’ve ever been the Grinch, but we just get so wrapped up in ourselves that it’s hard to see beyond our own lives and how our actions can help others. Almost like the forest and the trees. We are so focused on our ‘trees’ that we fail to see the ‘forest’ beyond that maybe suffering.

I am just so full of hope and love right now, I can’t explain it.  It may sound corny, but it’s true. I wish everyone could have a roof over their heads, food in the pantry and good clothes to wear. If I could do anything about it, I would. I will continue to do what I can every chance I get.

If I can motivate only one other person to do something for someone in need, my job is done.  I’m encouraging you to put a toy in the box, put some coins in the red kettle, take a name from the angel tree, put some groceries in the collection box at the store.  Do something, even in some small way, to make our world a better place. It’s really pretty ugly right now, with our economy still being pretty rough an unemployment numbers in double digits, there are more people than ever in need. If you are reading this, that means you have a computer and you can do something. Even if it’s digging under the couch cushions for loose change, that 37 cents may not do much for you, but put it in the kettle with the other money that people have put in and it can do great things.  Just DO SOMETHING. You’ll feel  better for it, I promise.  You’ll feel lighter, happier even, knowing that you have made a difference, no matter how small, in the life of another person.

Merry Christmas

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Something to strive for

We went to mass today for the first time in about a month.  I don’t consider myself a ‘religious’ person, but more spiritual.  I don’t feel I have to follow someone’s ideas and guidelines to believe in a higher power.  Because, well, let’s face it, a lot of churches have some really wild teachings and philosophies.  Like the Southern Baptist church doesn’t allow dancing. Or drinking.  Or the Catholic church doesn’t believe in birth control.  That’s fine for some people, I’m not knocking it at all, just not for me.

Today, our priest, whom I like a lot, had a really great message: We should be quicker to forgive than condemn.  That we should not gossip and spread rumors and lies.  This is the holiday season and we’re all crazy busy, but we should still remember to be kind to each other.  To show some compassion to others.  Not walk past those red kettles without dropping something in every now and then.  Those coins alone may not do much for us, but they could do much for those in need.

This line of thinking kind of goes along with that Random Acts of Kindness post I wrote.  If we really work to be kind and polite to each other during the busy season of the year, life will be so much nicer for all of us.  Remember that it could be so much worse than it is.  If you have a roof over your head, food in the fridge, a job, healthy friends and family, what more can you really want?

I know it gets difficult, believe me, I have those days when any kind of manners in a parking lot have been tossed out the window.  Or we get testy when we’re looking for a specific gift and there may only be one left on the shelf.  this will be a more common occurrence this year as retailers have dramatically decreased their inventory so they don’t get caught holding the bag at the end.

Let’s all work toward a kinder, gentler life, not be so quick to judge or condemn, but to forgive.  Isn’t that what the season is all about?  Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, love, kindness, and family.  I will really try to remember that the person who is grumpy or rude to me, may have just lost their job or possibly dealing with a devastating situation that could mean life and death.  It happens all the time.

I know it won’t be easy, I’m one who has those knee-jerk growls when someone cuts me off, but I’m really going to strive toward being a kinder, gentler person this year.  I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

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Random acts of kindness

I was really and truly surprised today.  Today is what’s known as “Black Friday’ for us here in the States, the day after Thanksgiving when there are sales out the wazoo and bargains to be had around every corner.  The stores open at insanely early hours and I don’t know if it’s just to see how many people will get up at the butt crack of dawn for a $3 toaster, or what.  If it was me making those decisions, they’d open at the crack of 7AM, a much more respectable hour.  But, since they don’t ask me, the hour of opening has become increasingly early.  Case in point: Toys R Us. This year, they opened at MIDNIGHT! yes, midnight as in 12AM.  Old Navy opened at 3AM, but they had the best giveaway ever, a free Lego Rock Band game w/a $20 purchase (the game retails for $49). And of course with mounting pressure for increased sales, Sears has joined the 4AM club this year, much to my chagrin.  Why do I care about Sears, you ask?  My dear, sweet, lovely husband is a store manager for Sears.  Which means he went to bed last evening at 6:30PM to get up at 2AM so he could be at his store at 2:30AM and open the doors at 4AM to the masses waiting outside his door for the early bird deals. 

What was it that surprised me?  Well, here it is.  We have a dog, love her though I do, she sheds so much that every time I run the vacuum, there is enough fur in the bucket to make another dog! Literally, she shakes and the fur flies.  Target had a Dyson Absolute Animal vacuum on for $200 off the regular price.  $200 is a lot of money, I don’t care who you are. Well, if you’re  Madonna or A-Rod, that’s just pocket change. But since I’m not either of them, nor do I know anyone remotely in that league, $200 is a fair amount to be saving.

At 4AM when my alarm went off, I hit the snooze and debated with myself should or shouldn’t I?  It’s cold out and so warm and snuggly here in  my bed.  Finally, my desire to have  pet-hair-free carpet won out.  I pulled myself out of bed dressed and ventured to my nearest Target in search of a vacuum that promises a great cleaning of my carpet. I had a list of a few things I was on a mission for, in addition to the vacuum.  When I pulled up in the parking lot at 4:45AM, the line crossed the front of the building.  I thought I was well dressed for the cold, but it was still damned cold.  The woman in front of me was asking people if anyone was there for a vacuum. I piped up and said ‘I am.’  This year, the difference is quantity.  Last year, the retailers ordered way more stock than they sold and ended up taking a loss on it when they had to sell at mark down prices. So this year, they have only ordered limited quantities.  Almost every ad I read, under the really great deals was a disclaimer “Limited quantities” or “while supplies last.’  I knew I had to get in, find the Dyson display immediately if I wanted this wonderful piece of machinery that was to make my life a little less hairy.

I pressed through the crush of people and made my way to the place I thought I’d seen the vacuums before.  This was a new store and I’d only been in it once before.  I found an employee who directed me to the vacuums.  To my surprise, there stood the woman who had been in front of me outside, waving to me. I did that whole, look around and be sure she was meaning me.  Yes, she did mean me.  She’d gotten to the display before I did and she had two off the shelf, leaving only one on the rack.

She said, “here! I got this for you!’

‘Really?  Thanks!  You’re the best!’

She looked at her daughter and said, ‘I told her we’re not leaving here until you get here.’

I was shocked.  In the climate where I thought we’d be fighting each other for something, she did something really nice. Would she have done it if there was only one, no way, that was hers.  Since there were a couple left, she helped me out.  As I was standing there looking at her in shock, a guy passed by with one.  So there were 4 for sure that I know about and that’s probably all they had.

 Would I have done the same thing?  I don’t know. I didn’t know her.  I’ll probably never see her again.  But I can promise you one thing, next time something like that happens, I’ll be a bit nicer and less cut-throat.  Or try to be more compassionate.  It is the season of giving after all.

Merry Christmas