Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Taking a Break

When I started this blog 1 1/2 years ago I envisioned it as simply a forum in which I could express my feelings and experiences, whether they be failures, triumphs, joys, frustrations, or anything and everything in between. I didn't do it to be popular or to acquire readers, even though I have whole-heartedly appreciated those who have read and commented . I did it for myself, though. I felt like it was something I needed, something I would enjoy. And for the most part I have. I have "met" wonderful people and read their wonderful blogs and felt supported and encouraged at times when I needed support and encouragement. For that, I will always be thankful and grateful.

Lately, though, I have started to feel like this is more of a burden than it is a joy or outlet for self-expression. I have felt like I have nothing to say or at least nothing of interest or importance. Or that this might not be the appropriate forum for the things I wish to say or feel passionately about. I have felt like I rack my brain for things to say only to come up empty or for a variety of reasons choose not to share. Right now, it's just not fun or rewarding.

On top of that I have felt for a long time that I self-censor. I filter what I'm thinking and dilute it before I write it. I don't know why. I guess there is a part of me that doesn't want to offend or insult. Or I think that readers might not be interested in that particular topic and I become "that blogger" similar to "that facebook poster". I don't know.

What I do know is that it feels disingenuous at times. It feels like I am not me. Don't get me wrong. What you have read is me. What I have said I have meant. But there are the words I haven't said, that I have wanted to or felt like I should, only to second-guess and hit the backspace or delete key. It's that part of me that I wish I could just turn loose. The unfiltered, uncensored, careless version of myself. I just don't know how entirely or if I even want to completely.

I don't know what all this means. I know I need a break. Some time to re-think the direction of this blog, to rethink how I get thought to screen without feeling like I am giving up part of what makes me, me. This break may be temporary, might be more.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Frustrated Buyer

When my husband was a kid he was a huge fan of the big metal tonka trucks. I can remember playing with them myself with my brothers. So, for Christmas this coming year I found one online and was so excited about it, I ordered it without really looking around first. Needless to say I apparently got ripped off. Then when the truck arrived yesterday it was obviously one that had been gently used, even though I ordered it from a store and it was advertised as new. There were dings and chips in the metal and the packaging had been taped back together quite elaborately. The box had obviously been opened.

To add insult to injury, we were at Toys r Us today where we came across the EXACT same truck for literally less than half the price that we paid. HALF. For that amount, I could have purchased two trucks for him. Needless to say I am going to try to return it and hope that I don't end up spending even more on shipping charges.

Next time I guess I'll take my time a little more to make sure I'm not getting hosed.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Only Shell

I once had a friend who thought for herself. She had her own opinions and own ideas. She then got a boyfriend and quickly adopted all of his views, did whatever he said, went wherever he told her. They'd inevitably break up and she'd move on to the next guy, whose views, even if they were in direct conflict with the previous guy's, she'd just as eagerly adopt. This went on for years. She no longer remembered how she really felt, what she really thought. She was lost. She became who each guy said she was, who he instructed her to be.

One day she married one of these guys. Gradually, over time, he told her what to think and believe, told her how to act and how not to act. He isolated her from her friends and family. His family became hers and took precedent over her natural family. His friends and siblings became her friends and siblings and she forsook her own. This whole transition was not only scary, but sad. It is how I imagine indoctrination into a cult being. She is now merely a shell of who she once was.

I'm fairly certain that deep down, in a place she will rarely access, let alone acknowledge, she knows all of this to be true. But she's trapped now. A marriage and progeny tie her to this new life. She believes she has too much to lose if she leaves. At least this is what I gauge to be true as a vacant, glazed look overtakes her eyes as her husband enters the room. The only time her eyes begin to clear is when he is far from earshot and she reminisces about times a decade or two ago. It is like she is quietly reminded of the hope she once had, the person she once was before she gave it all up to be who someone else wanted her to be. The ironic thing is, that I think she could be hopeful again if she was simply allowed to be herself.

I sometimes think that one day she is going to wake up and think, "What the hell have I done?" She's sacrificed much; she's given up entire parts of herself and allowed herself to be molded into this person that's barely recognizable. What if, one day, he wants her to be someone else?

While I don't agree with what she has done, I can understand it. It is for self-survival. She could never exist in this new family and circle of friends without adopting their views. They would eat her alive, belittle, and ridicule her. So, in turn she feels that she has to strike first, attacking those whose views go against "The Family." She has to prove she belongs. Unfortunately, those attacked are her former family and friends...those who knew her before she traded in who she was for what he needed and demanded her to be. Which makes it all the more sad. It is as if she has to be so forceful, insulting, confrontational, and borderline hateful in order to convince herself and others that this is who she really is. She is one of THEM.

More than anything, I now just feel sorry for her and pray she can live the next fifty years as someone she is not.

**Fictional piece; any similarities to actual people are unintentional

Water Babies

Since my kids were very young they both have been obsessed with bathing, either in the tub or the shower. When either would get upset, when they were much younger, they'd run to the bathroom and cry to have a bath. Something about being in the water instantly calmed them down. As a result I have two kids who want baths all the time. Literally, they take three a day most days.

Play outside? Need a bath. Run a couple of errands? Need a bath. Go on a play date? Need a bath. Just had lunch? Need a bath. Played with the pet rat? Need a bath? Breath? Need a bath. Simply exist? Need a bath.

I'm a bit of a clean freak myself so I understand the desire to be clean, but three times a day seems a bit excessive. Not to mention, our water bill has gone up quite a bit (that might have something to do with the grass we put in too).

Anyone else's kids have this propensity for baths or showers?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Find a New Scapegoat

I know I am a few days behind all the hoopla, but the outrage expressed over PRESIDENT Obama giving a speech to school children about the importance of an education is frankly ridiculous. The nerve of OUR President addressing children and about the importance of working dare he. Maybe I am missing something, but to me I still respect the office of the President, even if/when I don't respect the man in it. I have very few kind things to say about George W. Bush, however if he were to have given a speech and I had school age children I would have certainly had them listen to it, both out of respect for the position he holds in our country and because if there were aspects we as a family disagreed with I think it is a perfect way to think critically about what our leaders say and then discuss later WHY we disagree. What specifically is at issue? Why do we disagree with what is being said? It's not good enough to say “Oh, he's evil” “Oh, he's a socialist spreading his propaganda, trying to indoctrinate school children.” What specifically is he doing, what has he done? I would encourage this type of critique of all leaders.

If we want to talk about indoctrination or spreading propaganda how about those that refuse to let their children listen to anything other than what their parents tell them, never teaching them how to critically think or refute views that oppose their own. I WANT my kids to be exposed to ideas and ideology different from my own. Only through that exposure will they be able to verbalize clearly, effectively, and coherently why we believe the way we do. It's those that never see the other side that are incapable of clearly expressing the reasons for their own views beyond saying it is “what they believe.” What a cop-out.

In Arizona our school superintendent made some pretty controversial statements pertaining to Obama's speech and how he felt the White House was encouraging a worshipful approach to the President. These comments got the fringe element frenzied and the next thing you have the arm-chair pundits claiming the educational system is trying to push a liberal agenda, how teachers waste time spreading propaganda, how public school teachers are at fault for all that ails us morally as a society. As someone who spent six years teaching in a public school I find that offensive and wholly inaccurate. We barely have enough time in a year to get through an ambitious curriculum, let alone attempt to indoctrinate our students to apparently the “evil teacher way” of thinking. In six years I taught my students to write, read and think critically, edit, identify parts of speech, define and identify literary terms and showed how these concepts have real world application. And this is just a very small fraction of what I taught.

My students never knew if I was a Republican or Democrat or somewhere in between. They never knew who I voted for, even when they would ask...and some repeatedly. They knew I treated all of them the same and held them all to the same standard regardless of their political or religious beliefs. Interestingly enough, in six years I taught, spanning two different high schools, there were only a handful of teachers who tried to spread their “propaganda”.....and these were those from the right. Not those evil, liberal lefties who have overtaken all the classrooms. Hmm.

The irony isn't lost on most that those that deride the public education system the most and the loudest are 1) those that have the least first hand knowledge of or experience with an actual education system; they base their philosophy mostly on what Fox News and their right wing journals tell them and b) they are the ones that have benefited the most from an education. It seems funny that those who devalue an educational experience are oftentimes those who have the jobs they have because of that education. They are able to have the family lives they want because of the opportunities gained from a diploma and then a college degree.

For years, people have placed blame with the educational system on the teachers. There are certainly some bad teachers out there. I even had a few. But more often than not I had wonderful teachers who provided me with a terrific education. Those I worked with over the course of six years were wonderful people and terrific teachers who had their students' best interest in mind. These were people who worked hours lesson planning and grading despite not being paid. These are people who spend much of their own money purchasing supplies for their classroom because very little of the money actually sees its way into actual supplies for the students. These are people who served the purpose of multiple roles: parent, supporter, encourager, instructor, etc. because some students had no one else in their lives to step in and fill those roles.

There may be aspects of our educational system that are broken or need to be changed. Working in education I would certainly agree that there are quite a few changes that could be made that would be beneficial. However, the teachers that are there day in and day out, doing the best they can with what they have, deserve more respect than they are given. To lump every teacher into the category of “spreader of propaganda crap” is offensive, baseless, and completely ignorant. Sadly, with many in our society today I wouldn't expect any differently. These are the people that could maybe benefit from a little more education.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


When my husband and I bought our current house we thought more about having enough room inside for a family than we did about having enough room outside. As a result we have a 4 bedroom, 2100 square foot home with a 600 square foot backyard. It's small. This never bothered us when we were childless, but since having kids it annoys us to death.

Pre-kids my husband built a fire pit with three concrete benches. We'd have friends over, sit around the fire, and chat. It was nice. Then life happened, we got busy, and we never had a fire anymore. Literally, half of our backyard was filled with the fire pit and its surrounding area.

A few months ago, I finally convinced my husband to tear down his labor of love. It was painful for him. He loved the fire pit, even though he rarely used it. I convinced him that our kids needed more space. After quite a bit of work involving the destruction and removal of debris we had an empty portion of yard that we decided to fill with grass.

The past two days, the kids and I have spent hours outside, just playing, laying, laughing, running in the grass. The kids have so much more room, they love being outside and honestly it is a nice change in our routine. All the work was totally worth it. Until we are able to move to a house with a bigger yard, this will have to do and right now, I'm okay with it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


This morning my daughter tells my shirtless husband that he needs to put a shirt on. She says, "Dad you need to put your boobs in a shirt."

For the record, my husband does not have moobs.**

**Moob-less husband wanted to make sure that was made clear

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Heaping Pile

A few months ago my husband and I did some major overhaul to our backyard. We cleared an area to lay down grass and figured it would be cheaper to plant by seed versus purchasing the roll out grass. So, we prepped the ground, followed the instructions exactly as given, and then waited. Grass only grew in a random five foot by five foot patch. The rest of the 300 square feet was left completely bare. So, we reseeded and waited again. The grass in that same area continued to grow, but nowhere else.

Here we are three months later and we have no grass. This has created a bit of a problem as we have promised that our children will have grass.

Over Labor Day my husband re-prepped the dirt, leveling everything off again. Today I spent $75 purchasing bags of soil, sand and shit (or more appropriately termed manure). My husband is picking up rolls of grass at 5 am tomorrow morning and hopefully by tomorrow evening we will have grass.

A couple things about this chap my hide. Number 1: We are now out way more money than we had anticipated. Had we just done the roll out from the start we could have saved $200 or so. I guess that is a lesson learned. Number 2: My husband has a crazy schedule, like always, but this week is especially brutal. He has no time to put the grass in or do any of the prep work. That leaves me. Tomorrow after I take the kids to the dentist and my daughter to dance class I will spend the rest of the afternoon and probably evening laying down sod. I am not looking forward to this in the least. I will, however, be very glad when it is done and we have grass.

On that note, does anyone know how long people and pets should stay off the grass?

Sunday, September 6, 2009


I chewed through my leash this evening and ran a couple of errands by myself while my husband was putting the kids to bed. On the way home I thought I'd stop and get my husband and I something to eat. There is this local Mexican place called Nico's that has a bit of a cult following. It's "fast" Mexican food, but still authentic. As their popularity has grown they have opened more locations throughout town. It's open crazy hours and attracts a wide-range of clientele from prominent local business men and women to drunk college students hungry after clubbing all night.

Tonight as I pulled into the parking lot I saw in the distance what I thought were horses. As I got closer I realized they were totally horses. Parked. In the handicap parking. Tied to the handicap sign.

I couldn't help myself. I was hysterical. I don't know why I found this so funny. Something about riding a horse to a restaurant. Parking in an actual parking space. The handicap space no less. I called my husband and then my mom and we were all dying. I had to compose myself before I could get out of the car so the owners wouldn't hear my mockery. I walked up and struck up a conversation. Turns out they ride their horse to Walgreen too. Seriously?

Only in Tucson.....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Hands of Time......Please Turn them Back

In three months I'll be 32. THIRTY-TWO!!! There are days, like today, where I wonder where the time went. It has gone by way too quickly. The cruel twist is that I look like I'm 21 and feel like I'm 25. Yet, the birth certificate doesn't lie. I'm in my thirties.

Tonight I was sitting here thinking about my daughter going off to school next year and quite a bit of panic set in. Then I started visualizing her in first grade, then second, and mind kept going to where I envisioned myself going to pick her up from 8th grade and I'll be 40! That seems so far away but really it's not. It seems like just yesterday I was 20. Aside from the husband, job, and a couple of kids I feel pretty much the same. So, I started thinking about what I'll look like (will I have any gray hair?), what I'd be wearing (can you still get away with gym shorts at 40?), what would my kids be like, what would my husband look like (who at that point would be 43). That led to 50, then 60. I can't say that these thoughts were met with excitement.

I just wish time would slow the heck down. I love my children at this age. I'd keep them home with me forever if I could. I love having all this time to spend with them, when the biggest influence on them is me. I know once they are older and in school that won't always be the case. Their teachers will spend eight hours a day with them, their coaches maybe two or three. Where does that leave me? A few hours for dinner and before bed. Sorry, but that's not enough.

I loved school. All of it. I loved grade school (except part of first grade and most of seventh), high school, and college. In fact I'd do any and all of it over again. I hope my children have that same wonderful experience and I would never want to deprive them of that or do anything to take away from that. But the selfish, protective mama cub wants to curl up with her babies and stop the hands of time from moving forward. Because I know that with each year that they age, I'll age too and the next thing I know my kids will be married with children of their own and I'll be a grandma.

Can grandma's still wear gym shorts?

The truth is that as long as I look young, feel young, and act young I still think I am young. The reality is that I am not that young anymore. It's strange to wake up one day and realize that you aren't considered a young adult anymore, that you have jumped an age bracket. I'm sure I've matured and grown in ways that I don't realize but to me I feel like someone much younger than the date on my driver's license states.

Anyone else have these feelings?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Why I Bribed My Daughter and How My Son Became The Slayer of Snakes

My four year old daughter gave up naps shortly after she turned one. It has been a long three years. Today, after putting my son down for a nap, I tried to convince my daughter who look exhausted to lay down and take a nap with me. She wanted to play. As I fought sleep I finally resorted to bribing her. I am not proud of this, but I told her that if she would just go to sleep then I'd take her to the store and get her a toy.

She went to sleep.

The joke was on me, though, as by the time my daughter fell asleep I only got to nap for fifteen minutes before my son woke up wanting to play.

Two hours later my daughter woke up. She came down the stairs and the first words out of her mouth were, "Can we go get a toy now?"

I'm a woman of my word so I took them to the store. My son picked out a sword, which against my better judgment I bought him. He uses his baseball bat, tennis racket, sticks and anything else he can find as a weapon to hit his sister with, so a sword was probably not the best idea. Before buying it I told him that he could not ever hit his sister with it and if he did I would take it away.

He said, "No, I'll smote snakes." And that he did. He spent the rest of the afternoon hunting and smoting imaginary snakes throughout our house.