Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Capone, Monet, and me...

Oh all things holy and good, I am tired!

My sister and I arrived back into LA at 9:00am from our adventures in Chicago. My cousin lives in the Edgewater/Andersonville district of Chicago (see the picture below) and she was the hostess for the trip.

This is Edgewater, and yes I have walked down this street and know my way around...sort of...

There is so much to tell and so many hilarious stories to share. Still, given that my sister and I decided to try and sleep at the airport rather than at my cousin's, you can imagine that I am a little pooped. Plus the boys both have colds and I think mine is right around the corner.

However, I know you are all dying to hear some news so I'll share with you a few highlights:

- Being propositioned (yes, that kind of proposition) by a crazy sixty-year-old crackhead on the way to the airport.

- Standing in the amazing spaces that Frank Lloyd Wright imagined and created.

- Watching the fireworks and decorated boats during the Venetian Night celebration.

- Trying to sleep in the airport with a towel as a blanket because it was freezing!

- Taking the time to just sit and experience the energy of the city.

- Having enough time to stare intently at each version of Haystacks by Claude Monet and being able to finally decide which was my favorite.

- Realizing the simple truth that people raise their children everywhere, finding adventures for their family, the same way I do, in wherever they may be.

- Riding down the Chicago River, wind in my hair, sun in my face, and the spirit and brilliance of great minds who built the city around me.

- Drinks and jazz at the Green Mill (Al Capone's joint) with Patricia Barber & Quartet.

- Time with my sister that was never boring, bothersome, or stressful. It was time that we gave each other to continue strengthening our relationship.

I could easily put Chicago, cold weather and all, on my list of places to call home at some point. If you have not been there, I highly suggest it as a place you spend some time in.

And now it's time for a nap...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

I'm looking for Abe Froman!

In about three hours my sister and I leave for our trip to Chicago! I have not been all that excited - probably because I've had company all this week and haven't been able to organize :)

Now that I am packed and my sister is here, the countdown has begun!

While this trip will be tons of fun, especially since Noonie has never been there before, I am glad for the time I will get to spend being quiet. Noonie is an introvert and by nature will need some solitude which will afford me with my own.

And in typical me form, I have created some goals for myself for my quiet time:

1) Just sit. No iPod. No book. No phone. No conversation.
2) Think about bio vs. adoption for baby #3. Why do I feel such a need to have another bio baby....
3) What's next for me? School? Work? And why...

Phew - now that I've done my goals I think I can actually get on the plane!

Chicago - here we come!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Oh, please!

Yesterday morning I opened my email. I check my email as often as I can but it is always full of messages - mostly junk that make it into my inbox or emails that come from mailing lists I subscribe to.

There were seventeen of those type emails - not a problem since I have my handy little 'delete' button. However, there was one that caught my attention. The subject was:

'Hello from an old friend!'

Yeah, I know...most messages bearing this name are from people in foreign countries with dead relatives hoping to give me lots of money. Still I opened it.

It was from someone who wrote in a very friendly tone about how he hoped we were all doing well and that things in his life were good - including the fact that he started a new insurance business. The rest of the email was an image of his sales sheet with plans and rates for his insurance.

First, I have no idea who this person was.
I did notice that all of the other people being emailed, since he did not blind cc us, were from my high school. In fact, the list looked just like the alumni list on our high school website.

Second, I hate this type of marketing.
If I did know this person I would be happy to get an email from him with information about his life, including that he started a new business - but I don't want the sales sheet.

So, I responded:

"Dear _______,

Good luck with your new business.

I would like to be removed from your mailing list. I do not recognize your name at all, let alone as someone I would call an 'old friend'. You are violating section 3 of the CAN-SPAM email advertising laws.

Thank you,


This morning I opened my email and - VOILA! I had a response from my good 'old friend'. He said it was too bad that I did not recognize his name since we went to high school together but that he would remove me from his list. He said that he hoped his other 'old friends' would be more supportive than I was of his efforts.


Maybe we did go to high school together. His name does not ring any bells but I'm too lazy to actually pull out the yearbook. Still, if your marketing efforts include sitting on your butt sending out emails to a list of people that you get from your 'alumni' website than you're going to need more than good luck to be successful! Add to that the personal comment he added in his response back to me, and you've got one interesting business man. Just remove me from the list!

Life is funny.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Five things: Tag, I'm it!

My oh-so-lovely best friend tagged me to do this a few days ago- and since I am up late doing nothing else, now seems like a good time to do it!

This is called 'Five Things' but five is not the theme...guess not everyone is as Type A as I am, so here goes:

Rule #1: Remove the blog site at the top of the list below, move all the blog site names up one, and add yourself to the bottom.

LDS Writers Blogck
Tristi Pinkston
Lords of the Manor
Life as a Military Wife
The Life I Imagine

What were you doing ten years ago?
I had just turned 19! I had stayed in Utah instead of coming home for the summer. I was working for Kaplan - living with Gladyris - mourning the loss of a boyfriend - and having a blast! We spent my birthday at my friend Alan's apartment where we went swimming, danced, and ate a bunch of college-style crap. Oh, and Shelly, Liz and I did water ballet in the pool. Ha!

What were you doing one year ago?
Let's see. You know, I really can't remember. I think I had just turned 19 for the eighth time. Oh, but I do know I got some great gifts from my boys!

Five snacks you enjoy
(in no particular order)

1. Cheez-Its
2. grapes
3. edamame
4. ice
5. orange creme yogurt

Five songs you know all the lyrics to:

1. Sin, Sin, Sin by Robbie Williams
2. You Are My Sunshine
3. Defying Gravity from Wicked
4. It's Hard to Say by Sister Hazel
5. Brown-Eyed Girl, Van Morrison

Things you would do if you were a millionaire:

1. Pay off our debt
2. Start a non-profit - probably for single moms or low-income children.
3. Buy more Apple stock...and invest in some other hot stocks.
4. Finally buy a ticket to San Antonio :) Plus other tickets to the million places I'd like to go.
5. Put my boys in a fantastic private school when the time comes.

Five bad habits

1. picking scars
2. worrying too much
3. scratching my throat
4. backseat driving (oh, I am horrible at this and I HATE it!)
5. slouching

Five things you like to do

1. talk to people - though I prefer to do it in person
2. read, read, and more reading
3. watch my kids discover new things
4. play games with my hubby
5. relax in the water (pool, tub, ocean...doesn't matter)

Five things you will never wear again

1. big-frame glasses
2. denim dress
3. jelly shoes
4. a wedding dress
5. anything neon

Five favorite toys

1. iPod
2. label maker
3. my kids' imaginations
4. a deck of cards
5. my current collection of books

Where will you be in ten years?
Ideally, in another country, with several more children, a degree or two or three, a productive non-profit. Happy. With friends and with the ability to fly home frequently to see other friends and family.

Tag five friends to complete this survey for themselves:

Um...anyone who wants to! I love reading these.

You're tagged.....

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Actions speak louder...

Today I was unloading and then reloading the dishwasher. This isn't anything abnormal, I do it every day, and sometimes twice a day. However today my sister-in-law is in town and was talking to me as I was unloading. I made a comment about how funny it was to me that I live with three other adults and yet no one else loads their own dishes. Let me be clear: they will load their own dishes IF the dishwasher is empty. However everyone will stack their dishes in the sink if the dishwasher is full. I realize that this is pretty common - but what is funny to me is the amount of lectures I endured as a child about chores and chore-sharing, including making sure we put our own dishes into the dishwasher every time we used it.

Somehow we got talking about things in her family. She made the comment that her mom expected them to load the dishes as well. Since my experience with the family has been very different, I commented that I never thought her mom expected them to do chores, of any kind. I remember vividly my first dinner there: my mother-in-law had worked in the kitchen all day to make a Thanksgiving-esque dinner and then afterwards cleaned it all up with the help of one child and myself. The others made no effort - even my husband. But I digress...

My sister-in-law continued by saying that even though her mom expected everyone to do chores, she never enforced it. In fact it is commonly known that my mother-in-law will take the dishes out of the dishwasher and reload them in order to get the most loaded in. So, if you do try to be helpful by loading the dishwasher, she'll undo it. Now the kids stopped doing stuff because she'll always go back and redo it.

I've known this for a long about her...but it really made me think yesterday. Here she is, desirous to have her children help, but undermining their every effort. Why would it be a surprise that her kids stop helping?

How often do we do this? We want something to happen or we expect help, yet we bite the hand that helps us? I know for myself this has been an issue. My mode of operation is quite different than my husband's and when I ask him to do something I often end up upset that it did not get done the way I wanted it to be - even though it gone done.

I heard something on NPR today after we were driving in the car. This woman was talking about how she nags - and how she came to feel that nagging is really an expression of superiority. The person nagging feels that whatever they think and/or do is better than that of the other(s).

Have you ever heard something that initially feels so dead-wrong...but the more that you think about it you realize that it feels so wrong only because it is so true of you? This was that statement for me. Yeah, I often think that however I do something makes more sense than how others might choose to do it.

Now I am looking around at all of the things that I reorganize, re-plan, redo - or the things that I undermine by not allowing the person to do what I ask...

I want people to feel that they can do their roles in life as well as I know they can - and often times better than I can do it. And I want to be able to let go and let them do their own thing.

Monday, July 09, 2007

I wanna be Lou Manahan!

So I was originally going to call this post 'I want to kill myself' but I figured that would spark a frenzy of worry that would spread like a wildfire through the three people who read this blog.

Let me be clear. This is not a cry for help. I do not want to kill myself - well not literally. Rather, I'd like to just pretend to have died and yet not have to do any of the actually suicide part.

I was on the phone with my best friend, TJ, talking about the frustration I am feeling about an upcoming trip I am making and my attempt to 'surprise' someone, which is turning more and more into a given, and not by my choice.

The complaint in a minute:
My children and I are taking a road trip. On said road trip we were hoping to surprise someone. I contacted another person in the hopes to get help with the surprise but also make sure that there were no conflicts with us visiting. This 'other person' is having trouble keeping it a secret and is asking for me to stop keeping it a secret. Bottom line is that it has become a control issue between me, the 'other person', and the person to be surprised.
Ok, my minute is over.

So I was telling TJ about the problem and how it would be great if we could just not have to deal with stuff like this and the other stuff she and I were talking about. TJ mentioned that in a show she'd watched, a character, Lou Manahan, had faked his own suicide as a method of escaping his life.

That sounds wonderful to me! I'd let a select few, my kids, maybe a couple of family members plus one friend, know that I'm really ok. Then I'd have a funeral, hear all the nice things people had to say about me, let them say goodbye, and it would be done.

Of course that isn't fair...making people grieve as a way for me to escape relationships, but still. And suicide is a serious issue - and I've lost friends unnecessarily to it. But if you for one moment forget that, there is something calming about never having to answer the phone calls from the people you don't want to talk to, to escape the bills, the expectations, etc.

In reality, just like Lou Manahan, I'd get to my own memorial service, break out in tears, and revel the truth to everyone. Then I'd have to live with the guilt that I feel about the whole thing.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Words and Deeds

I did something today that I rarely do. I flipped through the blogs here on Blogger. Quite the variety I must say. As I was flipping I kept thinking about the need I had to update my own blog as well as the one I keep for the boys. And I even knew what subject I needed to blog about - but did not know where to start. Then I happened upon a blog, that I didn't even read, but I saw this quote:

Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions Watch your actions, they become your habits Watch our habits, they become your character Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.

I've been thinking about this very subject a lot lately. I've been listening, or replaying, the conversations that I've had with people lately...and I'm not all the impressed with myself. Even I haven't said things out loud, the things I've been thinking, the judgments I've made, the labels I've placed --- are really not me.

Really not me at all. One of my all-time-favorite quotes is from Mother Theresa. She says, 'If you judge people you have no time to love them'. The opposite is true as well that if you love someone you have no time to judge them.

And I'm wasting time not loving people and make judgments about them instead. I'm not sure why I am in this phase of my life. The difficult part about it is that I am in a place where I really want people to be wholly accepting of me - yet I find myself saying things that I don't believe or even agree with. Sometimes just to please the people that I am talking with who believe what they are saying...

Part of it is because of the recent move. I find myself in the middle of a lot of people. I'm in between Eric and my parents. I field questions from my parents about him, I listen to their concerns about us and then have to talk about them with Eric later. I watch my parents, who are also opposites socially, step on each others' toes and feel as though I should mediate. Or I get pulled between them when it comes to events and activities.

I am also in the middle of who I was before I moved from CA and who I am now. That is probably the toughest part of the move. People just expect that I am the same person they knew from back when. In many respects I am, and in others I couldn't be more different.

My original goal when we moved back was to get settled, get into some good routines, and help the boys make a good adjustment. Now that I have done that and feel as though we are in a good place - it is my turn to self-reflect and make some changes.

It is vitally important to me to be respectful of other people. This means that their choices are theirs alone and not mine to correct, critique, or condemn. It means that I need to honor them by returning phone calls, sharing my time with them like they do with me, and being honest with them. Honest about who I am, what kind of time I have, what kind of energy I have, and what kind of friend I can be to them.

If someone were keeping record of me, I wouldn't want to be labled by the things I've done and said as of late. Rather, I'd like to try and take the time to say what I mean, mean what I say, and keep my mouth quiet and my spirit calm, the rest of the time.

Monday, July 02, 2007

My greatest fear....

Ok - so this really isn't my greatest fear. Not by a long shot.

But I have no idea why potty training my children, or even just the notion of undertaking the training, is testing every nerve I've ever had. We have attempted to potty train Will before, only to be met with severe resistance over it. Of course all Doctors say not to force the issue...so we backed off.

Well he's been showing signs that he is ready - but I am not showing any signs that I am ready to do this! In fact, as I type this he is sitting here watching his potty movie that he picked out. This movie sure isn't inspiring me...it's basically a bathroom musical with songs like:

'Doin The Potty Dance'
'Me Potty Wotty'
'I'm a Hottie for the Potty'
'I've Gotta Go'

And what is most humorous about it to me is that it really doesn't show potty time, but rather a group of kids (all WAY past potty training age) dancing to the potty songs. Hilarious! I'd like to know if the person who choreographed this actually put it down on his/her resume.

At least it is taking the edge off my nerves...I just don't want to start this and have him back out of it. We have such a busy summer and then he starts preschool in the fall - so it just feels like this would be the best time.

It's so funny - I have done many things in my life that have pushed me out of my comfort zone, emotionally, intellectually, personally...but I haven't felt this apprehensive about something for a long time!

This is the kind of stuff that makes me long for the days when I worked sixty to seventy hours a week...at least in that crazy world my apprehension didn't involve pee-pee and poo-poo and a three year-old's emotions!

Well, wish us luck!