Confessions of an Unintentional Domestic Goddess

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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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Never Wake A Sleeping Mom!

This is just too funny and pretty typical of life in our house. First I just have to say I love my two little yard apes more than I ever thought I could love two people who drive me to drink!

It’s 3AM and my son, who’s nearly 10, is suddenly at my side. In a half-whisper he says, ‘Mom, I turned on my radio, can you hear it?” 

When our kids have nightmares, we tell them to turn on their radios and go back to sleep, seems reasonable enough, right? So he’s actually doing what he’s been told to.

‘Um, no honey, I was asleep.’ yeah, that’s what I”m normally doing when it’s 3AM and I”m in my bed and my eyes are closed.

‘I used the bathroom, but I didn’t flush or wash my hands because I didn’t want to wake you.’

HUH? shaking my head. ‘what? ok honey, go do what you need to do, flush and go back to bed.’

‘ok mom, I love you.’

‘love you too honey.’

Now I am  awake. And I can’t go back to sleep! GRRR

The next day, my husband asks him why he did it. If he didn’t want to wake us with the flushing of the toilet and the washing of the hands, why did he come and talk to us.

‘Mom was already awake.’

“What? No, I’m pretty sure I was asleep. Why do you think I was awake?’

‘You were coughing.’

‘Helllllooooo. coughing and awake are two completely different things!’

See, it’s just a different version of , ‘mom, are you awake?’ poke, poke. ‘mom? mom? are you awake mom?” poke poke shake. “MOM? ARE YOU AWAKE MOM?”

‘I AM NOW!!!”

So if anyone is wondering why I have bags under my eyes, look like a zombie, and I’m mainlining my coffee today,  that’s why.

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And The Universe Said, ‘ha HA!’, Again

Oh my sweltering heat! This summer has just gotten out of control way too early! Today at 8:15AM, it was 82F and 70% humidity! You know, I have a suggestion for the weather people around here. There are a couple of times each year when we don’t need to be told how FREAKING HOT it is outside. Like now, when the heat index is about 367F, and in winter when the wind chill is in the single digits, or worse. They could simply use a three letter description: RFH or RFC. As in REALLY FREAKING HOT, or REALLY FREAKING COLD. It would save them some time and you know what, sometimes we just don’t want to see the actual numbers, they’re just depressing. Kind of like coming home from vacation, you know you’ve gained a bit, but don’t want to get on the scale because seeing how much it really is will make you feel like you never want to eat again!

So as I’m marveling at air conditioning and thanking God and the genius who came up with it, I remembered a conversation I had with a little old lady and the thoughts that I had before I met her. You see, I think what you put out into the universe, you get back. Example, having a great day? Everything goes right. But, if you’re having a crap day, everything seems to follow suit. Anyway, I always said I didn’t want to have a baby in August just because it’s so bloody hot here, I ‘d be really miserable. The Universe said, HA HA! I’ll show you how in control you are. I found out I was pregnant in December and started doing the math. Yep, I got an August baby. He made his appearance 8/21. When I was still in the early stages of my pregnancy, I had lunch at a function and was chatting with a lady who was probably close to 80 and I was whining about how horrible it was going to be, pregnant in the summer here. Then she piped up and said, ‘When I was pregnant in summer, we didn’t HAVE air conditioning.’ And just looked at me very pointedly. I said, ‘Wow. ok, I’ll shut up now!” I managed to survive, but right after he was born, we had about a week of 100+ weather.

When we started talking about another child, I said, “I won’t have another August baby”. And you know that was just sealing our fate, dont’ you? Even though I tried to juggle the calendar and get it right so we could avoid another summer baby, well, apparently somewhere things got jumbled up. I remember December 13, it was a Friday, when I found out we were having another August baby! The Universe said HA HA! once again.  I sat there and cried! I was so upset! My husband, well, he just laughed. Needless to say, we have a beautiful daughter and I wouldnt’ trade my children for anything in the world. But it just goes to show exactly how much control we have over our lives. 

If you are pregnant in summer, I feel your pain, literally! But you will get through it and thank the genius who invented the AC!

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The Most Important Men in the World

Today is Father’s Day. Or as my husband thinks of it, just another Sunday. He’s a very humble man. He doesn’t want to make a big to-do about himself at all. Me, I like to think of it as a day to honor him and the wonderful job he does with our children. So, to make a big to-do about not just him, but fathers everywhere, I’m writing this post.

From the very beginning of life, fathers are a different force in their children’s lives. They play with them differently, showing them that it’s ok to be physical when you play. I mean how many times do you see a mother tossing her 6 month old in the air?  Their voices are deeper and the children respond a little differently to them. If I could only tell you how many times I’ve said, “Stop jumping on the couch’ with little to no effect, but along comes dad with his booming voice, saying the same thing, and they immediately snap-to and stop doing whatever they were doing! I have to admit, it’s a little frustrating. It’s like dad is my secret weapon and they know if dad’s got the ‘big voice’ on, they’d better straighten up.

Fathers are so much more important than many of them think they are. I have a feeling more than one man has thought, ‘My kid has his/her mother, he/she’ll be fine without me. I’ll just pop in whenever it’s convenient for me (read almost never) and try to keep up with my child support.” This is just such an underestimation of their value, it’s mind-boggling. so many times we read of ‘dead beat dads’ who don’t pay their child support, or just simply vanish without a second thought of the children. It really is a tragedy.

Fathers set the example for how their boys act and for their daughters in how boys, and later men, should treat them. When men are abusers, the children see that and think it is the norm, the way that men are supposed to behave and it sets them in a cycle for a lifetime of hurt, both physical and mental. Yes, I am making a generalization here, but it is based on the lives of a few of my friends whose fathers were abusers, of their mothers, or themselves, or even both. They have been married multiple times and in completely dysfunctional relationships and my theory on that is because that’s what they saw as young girls. In fact, one of my friends, whose husband was an abuser, has two sons, and because they saw their father yelling at and beating their mother, thought it was perfectly acceptable to behave that way toward her and became rebellious and nasty toward her at very young ages (before they hit their teens). I blame this on the negative actions they lived with. She also has a young daughter and I hope she doesn’t fall into the cycle of abuse because of what she lived with.

On the other hand, fathers definitely set a good example for their children as well. My father set the bar extremely high for the men who came after him in my life. he treated me with love, respect, kindness and compassion. he was devoted to us and always put our needs first. Dad always encouraged us, even if he didn’t understand what it was we wanted. He coached my soccer team when I was younger, even though he knew nothing about the sport. He unfailingly told me that I could be whatever it was I wanted to be, as long as I worked hard enough for it. 

If he ever had to discipline us, he would say,’this hurts me more than it hurts you.’ I would be thinking, ‘Are you serious? I’m the one being spanked here!” Now I understand that statement and why he would say it. He didn’t like having to do it, but I swear when I was younger, it seemed like his hand was the size of a dinner plate! Discipline for children is so important, they need and want those kind of boundaries, so dads can’t back down from that no matter how unpleasant it may be at the time.

He taught us about what it meant to have a good work ethic and really how to treat others. He believed that we are all the same on the inside and the color of a person’s skin had nothing to do with the kind of person they were. I have tried to be like him in that manner as well. Although being in the south, sometimes it’s difficult to do, there is a lot of prejudice around, but I try to follow his example as much as  I can and not judge people based solely on what they look like.

Yes, i am a card-carrying member of the ‘Daddy’s Girl Club.’  When I was little, if you tried to tell me that he hadn’t hung the moon and stars just for me, there was no way I would’ve believed you. He knew everything, could do anything, and could fix anything. He was a chiropractor because he wanted to help people, and he did. He had such an effect on his patients, they still ask me about him to this day. He was not caught up in money, he felt that people were more important and he did everything he could to help. In fact, I found an acoustic guitar in a spare bedroom of his house and asked him about it. To my knowledge he didn’t play guitar, or any musical instrument other than the radio.  He told me that he’d treated a patient who was in need and couldn’t pay, so the man gave him the guitar as payment. He was jus that kind of man.

 He was the best and I miss him terribly. You see, my parents divorced when I was 13. (talk about one jacked up teenager!) Shortly after, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He went thru the usual round of treatment surgery, chemo and radiation and declared cancer free. He drastically altered his lifestyle to give his body the strength it needed to fight the cancer. The 5 year survival rate for his kind of cancer is about 20%. That means after 5 years, only 20% of people diagnosed with that type of cancer are still alive. he beat that all to hell. He was very head strong and told me that he wa snot going to let a doctor tell him when he was supposed to die. He was an inherently positive and strong-willed person. BEcause of his strength of will, we got nearly 20 more years with him. He was able to walk me down the aisle at my wedding, and what little girl doesn’t dream about that? He was also allowed to present my diploma when I graduated college and became a chiropractor following in his footsteps. Shortly after my graduation, we got the devastating news that the cancer had returned and it was terminal. Once again that rug was pulled out from under me. We lost him three short months later. I miss him so much and tell my children about him every day.

If your father is still living, give him a big hug and tell him that you love him for all that he has done for you, because without him in your life, you would be a completely different person. I know I would. If you have children, be sure and tell your husband/baby daddy how much you appreciate him, fathers really do help shape the world.

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An unintentional domestic goddess

Ten years ago, I was a new mom and newly minted healthcare professional on a mission to save the world. The thought of being a domestic goddess, or *GASP* stay at home mom was about as foreign to me as someone talking to me in Chinese. I never would have even considered it. I spent too much blood, sweat, tears and money on my education.  I was very happy the way things were. I thought everything was the way it was supposed to be: harried, hectic, and wonderful. Dinners most nights were a whirlwind of something out of a box and a can and augmented by some fresh chicken or beef and a salad. And although it sounds tasty, it was, um, bland is a good word to use. I felt like I was turning into, *gasp* my mother! AAAAAAGGGHHH! She was a working mom and had a fairly limited number of recipes that made their weekly appearance on our dinner table, boring is the best way to describe them. The most colorful name of all her dishes was ‘Shit on a shingle’. MMMM Appetizing, no? ‘Mom, can I have more of that shit?’ funny, but it just doesn’t have the same ring to it as, ‘Mom, can I have another piece of the bacon wrapped chicken in the white wine cream sauce?’

Of course, we enjoyed eating out, seriously, who doesnt? At one point, my favorite thing to make was reservations. But, it gets expensive really quickly. And then, when you only frequent a small number of dining establishments because of time, as in it’s too late to go all the way to the north side, or wherever, because it’s too close to junior’s bedtime, it is no better than whipping up the shit on a shingle I was making on a regular basis!

What to do what to do? Life went on this way for a few years, something like this: I’m off @ 6, pick up my boy, zoom home, throw something together, eating dinner at 7:30, kid’s off to bed at 8, I’m off to bed at 9. sounds terribly exciting, doesn’t it??

Looking back at it now, I can’t believe it. Things are so different now and definitely for the better. When our precious girl came along a few years later, I had what I thought was a random, fleeting thought about life. It terrified me and I thought there was no way in hell my husband would go for it. Ha ha! Once again, the universe laughed at me! The first two times, well, it’s a long story for another post. So I sort of vomited this idea on his lap. I say vomit because, well, that’s really kind of what it felt like. I was nervous and frightened all at the same time. But I decided I wanted to be the one raising our children, not an underpaid daycare worker who was too overwhelmed with children to give them the attention that I would want them to have. (No offense to daycare workers, but you get my meaning) To my complete astonishment, he said yes! Go for it! He was actually happy that I wanted to do it.

Now life is not the harried, hectic place it used to be. Well, maybe not the same, harried and hectic yes at times, but better. We now have dinner at a respectable hour with time to play after eating. I have found a really insane love of trying new recipes. I jokingly call myself the friendly neighborhood Betty Crocker! I truly enjoy making things, and not just food. This blog is another. If we dont’ have at least two new recipes a week, I must be ill. Or solo. If my kids are gone, I don’t cook much. Although, they were gone earlier this week and I made a new dish, Italian sausage w/peppers and penne. OMG it was soooo good! Will I ever go back to work? I don’t know. All I can say is even though this may have been an unintentional route on my journey, it has been wonderful and I wouldn’t change it for all the rice-a-roni in the world!

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You know you’ve had a really crappy day if…

Preface: All of these things actually happened, but not all to me.  The names of the innocent have been omitted to protect their identities. Feel free to add yours!

…you open the fridge to get something and find your laundry detergent. Or open the pantry and find your milk.

…the teenage cashier looks at you and says, ‘Looks like you’ve had a long day too.’ Thanks junior, that means I look like crap!

…the librarian asks your name, and you can’t remember it! It really happened, but after a long week of exams.

…your precious three year old tells you he’s made a poopy, but it’s not in the toilet, it’s in the window seat of his bedroom! Or in the backyard, had that one too!

…you’re using the self checkout at the library and the machine tells you there’s a problem with your card and you need to go to the front desk.  Wow! Those fines must be worse than I thought!  Then you realize, they don’t take Blockbuster cards at the library!

…you sacrifice your favorite bagels from your favorite bagel shop in favor of traction under the spinning tires of a truck in a snowstorm. Don’t laugh, they acutally worked!

…setting the alarm clock for your romantic get away weekend, you accidentally hit the ‘time’ button and change the time.  When the alarm goes off, you rush around in a total panic to get out the door in a flash, only to see the clock on the dash tell you you’re actually an hour EARLY!

…your mother forgets your birthday….AND YOU’RE AN ONLY CHILD!

…your mother ‘accidentally’ throws away your daughter’s $90 bottle of eye drops before you’ve even had the chance to use them!

…you turn on your computer and it does nothing.  After being examined by the computer geeks, you’re told there’s nothing they can do and all of the files (including 100’s of pictures) are gone forever and you know have a useless boat anchor on your desk.

…you arrange a romantic 10th anniversary getaway and totally screw up the return dates on the flight, and find out when you go to the airport after your wonderful weekend that your seats were on a plane that left three days earlier!

…you’re invited to a fundraiser and will be sitting at a corporate table (read free food) and wake up puking in the night before and spend the entire day paralyzed on the couch!

…you plan a family vacation, doesn’t matter where, happens every time, one of your children either wakes up puking right before you leave, or while you’re on your vacation!

…your husband forgets your birthday, and you’re 8 months PREGNANT!

…your oh-so-precious-love-of-your-life child smacks your thigh and says, ‘Mommy, your legs wiggle!”  thanks for that honey, I hadn’t noticed the cellulite until now!

…you think the stuff the kids listen to on the radio these days is crap!  then comes the realization you must really be OLD!

…your mom looks at you, with a very intent and questinong look on her face.  You’re thinking she’s going to make a comment about the ‘third eye’ zit you’ve got going on in the middle of your forehead, but instead says, ‘Are you alright?  Your skin looks yellow.  Are you sure you’re ok?’  yes mom, I’m fine, thanks for noticing.  The yellow cast comes from being out of the sun, it’s called pale.

…you get home from a family outing to a park only to see that you’ve left the garage door open while you’ve been gone!

Anybody else have things like this happen? Please tell me I”m not alone in my blonde moments!

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10 Things That Make Me Happy

One of my friends wrote a post on her blog and I thought I’d give it a shot. You can read hers here http://www.bridgetmcguiresfillingstation.blogspot.com/

I don’t know that I can put these in any specific order, I don’t want anyone to get their feeling hurt, so I’ll just write them as they come to me.

10. Cooking. it’s so funny, I have become what I call your friendly neighborhood Betty Crocker. Ten years ago, I was a newly minted chiropractor out to save the world and cooking was the last thing on my mind. In fact, I was very pregnant and looking forward to becoming a mother, not a chef. I have found a love of cooking and especially trying new recipes. dinner in my house is never boring, I can tell you that for certain. My kids, well, they will say otherwise. They don’t love everything I make. I dont’ love everything I make, but that’s how you learn.

9. Traveling. I have always enjoyed traveling to new places that we haven’t visited before and seeing the architecture and learning about the history and culture of the places we’re visiting. We have been some really interesting places, like Bermuda, Bahamas, Mexico, Napa, US Virgin Islands, Hawaii. I still have a rather long bucket list of places I want to see before I die. At the top of my bucket list is Italy. My friend, ‘Bridget McGuire’ just returned from 10 days in Italy and the pictures she’s shared are simply amazing!

8. My children. I have been blessed with two beautiful and amazing children who have changed me immeasurably. You know they say you will never truly understand what it is to be a parent until you are one, and it’s true. I am so proud of these little people. They are adorable, precious, and maddening all at the same time. They fight and bicker with one another, but I love them more than I can ever begin to express. They are so much fun to be around, they make me laugh, cry, and scream every single day! Watching them grow is such a joy and privilege. I just hope that I can do a good job helping them grow into productive, respectful, intelligent people. My son is so handsome and sweet. He’s a very caring child who wants to make people laugh. When he was younger, he never had baby talk, he was very articulate at a very early age. People were amazed at how well he spoke as a two year old. My daughter is a beautiful, blue-eyed girl. She was the sweetest, most laid-back baby ever. But when she hit 22 months, it was as if someone told her ‘you’re almost 2, you’d better act like it’ and since then all bets are off! She’s very strong-willed and knows what she wants. She’s a princess one minute, and a tomboy the next.  She loves to perform, dancing and singing are what she really enjoys.

7. Writing. Writing in some way, shape, or form has been a part of me since high school, maybe earlier. I remember keeping a journal when I was younger. In my 20’s, my journal was my best friend as I was going through a particularly hurtful breakup. It was my therapist and my catharsis. I still journal, just not as often as I used to, I blog instead! I’m also working on a novel about a 20 something young lady who moves from the midwest to LA. She’s been languishing on my hard drive for years, and I’m determined to finish her story, if for nothing else, for myself and the knowledge that I’ve completed it. That and I’ve got another story in mind that comes from my friend’s incredible life.

6. Learning. I feel like the perpetual student, but I really enjoy learning new things. I can’t say that I learn something new every day, but I do enjoy reading and studying and discovering things that I didn’t know. My son is going into the 5th grade and last year in helping him with some projects, I learned things that I had no clue about prior, and it was really fun. I like to exercise my brain through learning. I keep telling my children that they don’t know everything, and neither do I, but we can find it out. The internet is such a wonderful resource. I really wish it had been around when I was growing up, it would have made researching topics for projects so much easier!

5. The beach. My friend wrote that Notre Dame is her happy place. Mine is the beach, any beach as long as it’s on an ocean. Although at this specific point in time, I’m very sad to know that many of the beautiful Gulf beaches are being polluted by the oil spill and it’s a real tragedy and a travesty. Anyway, maybe it’s because I’m a cancer, the crab, a water sign, that I find the beach so soothing. To have my toes in the sand, smell the salty sea air, hear the waves crashing on the beach, to me, that is heaven right there. If I get my way, we’ll retire to a beach condo. That’s a while off still, but I’ve put in my order!

4. My friends. I have been blessed with some really good friends that I’ve met in some really interesting ways. My friend Bridget McGuire, we met while on a cruise 10 years ago and have kept in touch with. My BFF and I have been friends for over 10 years, my husband met her at a bank while he was opening an account. Another friend, well, this one is pretty wild, she was the girlfriend of a boyfriend of mine (LOOONG story). He was a POS and neither of us knew it, but the best revenge we could’ve gotten on him was becoming friends. Facebook has helped me reconnect with so many people from my past that I would not be in touch with otherwise.

3.  My love. My husband and I have been together for 14 years now and it feels like the blink of an eye. He is my best friend, he still makes me laugh and tells me he loves me every night before we go to sleep and in the morning as he’s leaving for work. He was my willing guinea pig while I was in chiropractic school and my taste tester for my new recipe concoctions. We started off as co-workers and friends at Bed Bath and Beyond. Musci trivia was how we really got to know each other. I tried to set him up with my friends. He was a really good guy and I was planning on moving out-of-state to go to college. None of them were interested and I don’t know why. One night, we were going to a movie, as friends, and I looked at him and thought, ‘Boy, he’s really cute, why am I trying to set him up with my friends?” And that was it. He gave me a good night kiss that night and we’ve been inseparable ever since! funny how things work out.

2. Trying new things. I’m always up for something new, be it food, activities, places.  To me, that’s what makes things interesting. Some things I like, Cabernet franc anyone? Others not so much, like Alice in Wonderland. I really enjoy going to a restaurant and trying a dish I’ve never had before. Once we were in Cozumel, I ordered ceviche. I’ve had ceviche before, but this had octopus in it! that was pretty wild. And yes, I did eat it. It completely grossed out my husband, but he tried it too!

1.  Introducing my children to new things. Every time we travel with our kids, I encourage them to do or eat things they never have before. On our vacation last year, my daughter tried Brussels sprouts (gag).  My son tried them on our Disney vacation this year. I have been very happy with them at least taking one bite of something new before deciding if they like it or not.  Taking them places they’ve never been and showing them fun new things, or to help them appreciate all that we have is really amazing. We went on a cruise last year and one of the stops was Grand Bahama Island. We rode a bus from the ship to a beach and to get to the beach, we passed some really sad and run-down neighborhoods. It was such a contrast, you have the gorgeous beaches and people living in poverty. it really made me appreciate what we have and I try to help our children understand that every chance I get as well.

Now I challenge some of my blogging friends to do the same!

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I haven’t fallen off the planet….yet!

Well, life, as is normal around here, is crazy and hectic, hence no new posts in a while. It was the end of baseball season, tumbling, school, and just about everything else you can think of around here! Hubby has been working like a mad man, it’s just that time of year for him.

I guess I’ve been really domestic lately, if you call shuttling children to baseball practice, games, from school, and basically running hair on fire domestic! I’m really looking forward to summer! We are going to go swimming, bowling, movies, the aquarium, and hopefully more fun things! It has been so crazy around here, I’ve been relying on prepackaged food *GASP* because of our time issues. Hot dogs, frozen pizza, and canned ravioli unfortunately have become de rigeur at my house and I don’t like it! Soon, everything will settle down and I’ll be able to return to my normal Betty Crocker-like state!

Right now we are getting ready for a trip to Disneyworld! Yay! We are getting very excited to visit the mouse once again. our good friends and neighbors will be there for part of our trip so we’re hoping we can meet up with them for a Mickey  Bar or a Dole Whip. It will be loads of fun, I mean seriously, how can it not? Although, I do know people who complain just to complain. But my thought is if you’re at Disneyworld and you’re not having fun, it’s your damn fault!  Something that will be particularly exciting is my daughter. The last time we went, she didnt’ meet the height requirement for several rides and was unable to ride. this brought much anger and many tears. She was only 4 and promised she would hang on with all her might, alas, they would not bend the rules for her. Which I totally understood, but she could not. this time, she will be well over the height restriction for almost all of the rides. I think the only one is the speedway, where you drive the race cars on rails. She won’t be able to drive it herself b/c she can’t touch the pedals, but I’ll work the pedals and let her steer.

Oh, and my container garden, well, it’s not doing too well these days. My basil has died, the cilantro has gone to seed and the grape tomatoes are hanging in there. They have some fruit and I’m excited about it. One of the major branches got broken off during a wicked storm we had a few weeks ago, so I’ve got about half the plant left, but it seems to be doing well.

I’ll post info about our trip when we return. right now, I’m off to sit in the hairdryer hot winds and cheer offspring #1 in his last baseball game of the year. Go Yellowjackets!

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Things I Learned Living in LA

It’s been a while since I lived there, but having found several of my friends and coworkers through Facebook has made me a little introspective about my time there. I learned things about the city, about life, about people, and about myself.

My cultural/geography lesson was kind of the first one I got. Having never been to California, I thought all of LA was Hollywood and Sunset Blvd. And I thought that there were movie stars everywhere. I literally expected to bump into someone famous at Mc Donalds every time I went. (As if!). Hollywood is just one small part of the city. There are loads of cities within the LA metro area. It’s pretty much the same as the guys I worked with thinking we still rode horses and had dirt roads here. It’s an easy misconception to have.We see awards shows in Hollywood, movies are made to look like they’re in one small part of the city, but it’s so much more than that. Not to mention the whole speed of life there. everything is going 24 hrs a day. I’d never seen a grocery that was open 24 hrs before I’d moved. They’re commonplace everywhere now, but in 1990, not so much.

something that was really difficult to grasp was how you could have a 10 lane freeway, 5 in each direction, so congested it was literally bumper to bumper and at a complete standstill. Our highways around here  at that time were 4 lanes, 2 in each direction. To have that many lanes completely clogged was mind-boggling. And on the other hand, when the traffic wasnt’ clogged, people drove like they were on fire! I would be going 65 feeling like I was going fast, and I was being passed left and right as if I were really standing still. And then the motorcycles would come flying by even faster and going in between the cars! I think I started saying a prayer every time I got on the 405 that I would make it home alive! So, any time you hear anything about the traffic in LA, it’s true, and then some.

I learned that there really is a rainbow of humanity. Coming from a very white bread, midwestern home town, diversity was not a word that was used because there wasn’t any. When I arrived, I found out that I was in the minority there. At my job, I was one of a handful of white people. The employee base was black, hispanic and Asian. That was a huge wake-up call that there is so much more to the world than what we see in the mirror. They are all different, and yet interesting and beautiful in their own ways. I was like an animal in the zoo, they looked at me because I was the one who was different, and they wanted me to talk so they could hear my accent. it was a very enlightening and humbling experience.

Something I learned the hard way, people out there, not everyone, but most of the people I came into contact with, wanted something. They wanted to borrow money, they wanted you to help them get where they wanted to be, they would be friends with you as along as it was advantageous to them, and then they would lose interest and just fall off the planet. People would tell me one thing, while thinking another and doing something completely different. It got to be very tiresome trying to figure out if the person I was talking to actually wanted to be friends with me or if they were just with me because they had nothing better to do. I guess that’s why people out there seem to be jaded and aloof, they don’t want to put themselves out there, in case they’re dealing with a fake person.

I realized that I was a lot stronger than I ever thought I was. I moved out there with a suitcase of clothes and a couple hundred bucks in my pocket with a dream of starting over and doing something fun and exciting. Yet at the same time, scared to death. I’d never lived anywhere but my home town and near my parents and friends. Now I was leaving everything I knew behind to take a chance on a city I’d only seen in the movies. it was difficult at first, I won’t lie. but after the first few months of culture shock, I made up my mind, I could let the city beat me, or I could really give it a shot, and try to make it work.

I tried all sorts of food I’d never even heard of, let alone tried. Thai food was very popular out there. I wasn’t crazy about it, but I tried it. authentic Mexican food was different than the Taco Bueno/Taco Bell we had around here then. Now there is a literally a plethora of good authentic Mexican around here. At that time I’d never had a chopped beef burrito. I can’t remember the name of it exactly, but it was very unappetizing to me b/c it looked too much like Alpo! All of the ‘California cuisine’ had avocado or sprouts on it. Well, maybe not ‘everything’, but a lot of it. Heck, we had an avocado tree right outside the door of one of the apartments I lived in. I don’t think I’d ever had real fresh avocado before. Artichoke hearts, hearts of palm were a couple of things I’d never had either. Wasnt’ really crazy about either one, but I tried it. Oh, and Filipino cooking. I worked with loads of Filipinos and I have to say they were the sweetest most generous people you could ever hope to meet. someone had a birthday and one of the older ladies had made a traditional cake. I can’t remember the name of it, but it was purple and had an odd flavor to it. I wish I could remember, but it was very popular in their country.

I realized that as in a previous post, you can’t judge the book by it’s cover. It’s not fair to either you or the person you’re making the snap judgement about. If someone looked at me right this second, I have no idea what they’d think, I look terrible, no makeup, wild hair, giant sweatshirt on top of overalls and old tennies. I probably look like some old and tired middle-aged woman. I have to admit, I’m kind of feeling that way right now too, but still. You get my point.

Before I’d moved, to my knowledge, I”d never known a gay person, other than the guy who did my hair. But that’s a stereotype isn’t it? I worked with several gay people, mostly men, and I would never have guessed that about them, if someone hadn’t told me. I realized that being gay, straight, crooked, whatever has nothing to do with the kind of person they are. Truly. How could what someone does in the privacy of their own home be anyone else’s business? How could it matter in their job performance? I’ve known people who were straight as an arrow, but were arrogant, lazy jerks. I’ve known gay people who were dynamic, intelligent, funny and charming. I think the color of your skin or your preference in love have nothing to do with the kind of person you are, and I don’t see how people get off judging other people in that manner, as if one is better than the other. I think when there are two people who love each other and want to be committed to each other, they should be allowed to do that. I don’t see how allowing gay people to marry damages the institution of marriage one little bit. Honestly.

That’s a few of the things I learned living in LA. It was a very transformative time in my life. I came back a different, more tolerant, less judgmental person than I was when I left. LA definitely made a mark on me, even if I made no mark on the city, and that’s fine by me.

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It’s the end of a DECADE?

You know, I really hadn’t thought of it that way until I heard them mentioning it on the news last week.  But it really is. Wow. So, needless to say, I was thinking I hope the next ten are as good as the past ten have been.  It will be hard to top though. I was also kind of compiling a mental list of the past decade of my life.

  • My son was born in 2000. Also in 2000 was that embarrassment of a presidential election. Honestly, I wish we would toss out that damned electoral college and just have a direct election. WTF? It may have been useful at some point in time, but it’s antiquated now.
  • My daughter was born in 2003. And shortly after I decided I need to be a domestic goddess and be the one who’s actually raising my children, rather than a daycare worker making $6/hr who could really care less about my children.
  • Our country went to war. Again. And once again, Georgy boy messed up. “mission accomplished’ indeed. What an idiot. The Dixie Chicks said they were embarrassed by him. I have to count myself in their numbers. It’s a travesty what he did and now we can’t seem to get ourselves out of it. I say bring all of our people home and let them blow themselves up. Who cares? they don’t want us there and we don’t want to be there.
  • We moved into a beautiful new home.  Pretty darn close to being our dream home, minus granite. Wonderful neighborhood, neighbors and schools. We are very happy here and don’t plan to move unless we get an offer we can’t refuse.
  • All of our grandparents passed away, starting in 2000 with my husband’s sweet grandmother, Helena. And it seemed Helena started some sort of mass evacuation. Howard followed, then Helena’s husband Quentin, my great-aunt Millie, my grandmother Janet, and Howard’s wife Pearl. They all had good, long lives. But that doesn’t make us miss them any less.

Now, what do I want from the next ten years? To finish the novel I’ve been working on, and seem to be nearly halfway through and get it published. Also to complete another project I’m working on with a friend whose life is as wild as a movie. Get my children graduated successfully from high school and on to college, at least one of them anyway. To continue being as happy and healthy as we all are and to find my husband a job that doesnt’ require working nights, weekends, and 12 hour days on a regular basis. That seems to be quite alot, but I’ve got ten years to do it! Actually, I’m seriously going to work on finishing my novel by the time school is out for summer break. That is my New Years’ promise to myself.

What about you? What do you wish for in the new year and decade? I wish you happiness, health and prosperity. Anything beyond that, is up to you.

Happy New Year!

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