Sunday, August 31, 2008

Make Change Happen

Make Change Happen...

That has been the message that I have received loud and clear from all corners of the Universe and from right under my nose. Make change happen. MAKE it happen. Not, hang on a little bit, something's coming, looks like a little change... Nope. The message has been MAKE change happen. Not Make Change, like can you give me four quarters for this dollar because I just saw Ms. Pac Man and dammit if I'm not a wiz on that game, and could you watch my kids 'cause I'm probably gonna be on that thing for a while. Nuh-uh. Make change HAPPEN. Not Happenstance. Happen.

That means it's up to me.


Not that I couldn't do it alone, but wouldn't it be fun to Make Change Happen with a little help from my friends? And by that I don't mean for you to cheer me on, though I must say, your cheers have been the wind in my sails for the last several months. What I'd really love to see is a whole bunch of change. A whole bunch of people shedding fears or over-committed calendars or dream stealers. I'd love to see a whole bunch of people changing something. I don't mean like returning your calls that day instead of waiting a week. I mean like setting up a regular dinner night with friends you never see. Or picking up an instrument you always wanted to try. Or defying an old myth of not being good at baking.

I think I just gave away my list.


So these are sort of promises that I'm making to myself. Nothing huge. I'm tackling the huge things one day at a time. But the little things... those little things that nag at me reminding me that I too easily break promises to myself. I don't like that feeling. That feeling is the crack in the foundation of all the larger changes. And it's these little changes that will bring more joy into my world. Here are my first five:

#1: Practice the guitar every day. Even twenty minutes. I love the little I've learned. Why not keep going? It's sitting right there in the corner. Go on, Shoog... pick at it!

#2: Shoot something EVERY DAY! I am joining a 365 Project. I'm excited to have this commitment with a larger group. I'm even more excited to make myself find something simple or amazing or amazingly simple every single day for a whole year. Whew... I'm getting butterflies just thinking about it!

#3: Tuesday IS Park/Beach Day. No school. No work. No appointments. The Park or the Beach only. I'm sure this seems like a no brainer, but life gets busy and we forget to give ourselves that bit of time to just enjoy life. And then all of a sudden, we're grumpy... the whole lot of us. Because, you know... if Mama's not happy, nobody's happy! This will also help with the next item on my list.

#4 Surf. I can paddle out pretty far. I could probably paddle to Australia. I can get up on a board in the inside waves. All day. No problem. Between paddling out and the inside waves are the waves you see on TV. That's where real surfing happens. Until I'm in that zone regularly, I can only say that I "swim with a board."

#5: Throw stuff away. I know... we should recycle and not leave a massive footprint. The problem is that most of the stuff I hang on to I have rationalized into being useful, but it really is just trash. I don't know if this is something I picked up from my Depression Era Grandma who kept sugar packets in her purse. I'm pretty sure it was. The other day, I had to throw out salt and pepper packets from my purse. I guess I had them "just in case" I ever came across a restaurant that somehow didn't have S&P at the table. ???

Okay, that's about all for now. There will be more. These are my changes for now. I'm going to start by going to the garage and purging some junk from our lives. YAY!

What about changes elsewhere? What one thing do you want to start doing? Throw it out! Public accountability is the best way to keep a promise to yourself. Trust me!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Nie Nie

Hey guys... for the three or four of you that read here regularly, I thought I'd pass this on. There's a gal who has a beutiful family and her name is Nie Nie. She and her husband were in a plane crash recently and were badly burned. Flying around in a light airplane with The Pilot, I can tell you that this has always been in the back of my head so when I heard the story, I immediately started this post. That's my little way of saying... I don't know all the details. So her friends, both real and virtual, are putting on an auction called Nie Nie Day. As with most auctions, it's not about the actual value of the item, but what the winning bid can do for the receiver. If you'd like to participate, go to the following blogs (Check out this list of items!). If you have the means to join the auction, awesome. If you can pass the info on to others... awesomer. You can also go to the button in the sidebar to donate directly.

If nothing else, please read her posts. Her archives are at The Nie Nie Dialogues. Scroll down to the bottom of the sidebar. She seems to be quite a lovely person.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Holy S*it!

I hate it when I chicken out of something and blame it on someone else.

So a few weeks ago, I was at Saddleback Church for something other than the candidates' Q & A with Rick Warren. Ignoring all the TV trucks and buzzing helicopters, I sat and listened to Kay Warren, Rick's wife talk about a subject that I had been discussing with my inner critic for quite some time now. When I got one of the random passes, it was only for that specific time, but rather than feel like I got the fuzzy end of the stick, I had this awesome feeling that there was something at that specific time on that particular day that I needed to hear. As I sat there in the sanctuary, I understood why.

She was talking about the fear of stepping up.

Then she referenced Aztlan from Narnia. May mean nothing to you, but I fully expected her to look right at me. I got that feeling in my chest you get when someone randomly calls you out and makes you come up on stage to answer an awkward question. All from a Lion in some kids' movie? Yep! See, I've been using guided imagery in my daily trials with difficult people since I have a few of them buzzing around at any given moment. The picture in my head that I call to mind is the part where Aztlan (The Lion) belts out a roar and shuts the witch up. She is frightened back into her seat and he goes back to his pose of strength even thought she thinks she has won. That whole roar thing and the witch backing down... that's the visual I use when people start to cross my boundaries. Sorry ahead of time if I ever let out a loud roar when you ever happen to "should" on me. At least you'll know why. Back to Kay... she brings up Aztlan and how Lucy, the curious little girl asks one of the Narnians, "Is he safe?" The answer...

"Safe? No. But he is good."

Kay's point was that sometimes, doing what we're supposed to do may not be safe and may be scary, but we know that we are supposed to go in that direction... and that it will be good, and that God is right there with us. I've been wanting to become a group leader in our recovery team for a while now. That was why I went to the summit that day. The problem is that I didn't think I was good enough to go the next step... to ask. I was paralyzed by the fear that I wasn't ready. I didn't know if I would ever get the courage up to ask. See, once you ask, you are open to rejection. That rejection might sound like criticism to a sensitive ear. And I can be... sensitive. I hate that. A LOT! But supposedly, I'm not concerned about what others think anymore. And there was Kay reminding me that my Lion is good... So why then, did it bother me when the woman (leader) sitting next to me (also listening to Kay speak) got all snarky and said I was merely getting there? Because it tapped into that crummy fear.

"I'm not good enough."

That afternoon, we had the opportunity to nail a note to a cross. Each of us wrote what we were going to leave behind, nailed to wood, never to haunt us again. In next year's program, there will likely be a picture of some crazed woman pounding a nail in as far as it could go eliciting giggles and stares from some bewildered attendees at this summit. No matter how much she resembles me... don't be fooled. That woman was someone who was brave and strong at that moment. The woman typing this post still holds that fear in a little velvet box, wrapped up in a plain brown wrapper, tied with some twine, tucked away in a dark spot, somewhere deep in her heart.

What a pathetic loser.

But then I sat there at church on Sunday, a week and a day later, and heard a message of how many other leaders were afraid. Afraid of not being good enough. Afraid of change. (Woah! Didn't I just post something about that? Creepy...) Now, I don't mean to say that I am equal to Moses or Abraham, but I'm also not being asked to go smack down some big old Pharoah or build a massive nation. Nope. Just being nudged to help out with a small group of women that want to recover from life's hurts. Not a big deal. *big sigh* But I still worry... and I still care a teensy tiny bit about the opinion of others... and I'm still afraid to hear "No, Sugar. You're not good enough."

How many times do you suppose I need to hear that I am good enough? Only one more...

In comes The Pilot this morning, one day after the Fear of Change sermon, coffees in hand. Did you know we have a Starbuck's within walking distance from us? Did you know that sometimes, I'm still tempted to go to the Starbuck's Drive Thru like three miles away? Way to be green, huh? Anyway, today's installation of The Way I See It on the back of the coffee cup was #17. Look it up. I'll wait... Oh, never mind... I'll just show it to you:

Huh! Serendipity comes in 16 oz. coffee containers, too!

Here, I got all worked up about someone else being snarky and allowing that feeling of not being good enough to spill on to me and get me all yucky with their stuff almost to the point of not stepping out and stepping up. And all this time, the truth... (according to Keith Olbermann, but not Starbucks as they clearly state that this is the authors opinion... big chickens) the truth may actually be that they, the dream stealers, the nay-sayers, the grumpies are simply not very smart. Huh! In fact, they may actually be stupid! So you know what? Me and my lion are going to step up and just keep on roaring at all the stupid people in the world.

Even if sometimes, I still get a little scared...


Stories are great for encouragement. I'd love to hear stories about overcoming fears, ignoring dream stealers, or eschewing the snarkiness of others.


Friday, August 22, 2008


This popped up on Twitter today. "change is amazing. change motivates. scares. inspires. forces growth. requires thought. what other concept rules lives so completely?"


I once heard a fashion-minded psychologist say that people who liked wearing stripes enjoyed change. I loved stripes. What girl in the 80s didn't? And when I was a Power Mama, I loved wearing my pin-striped suits. Always felt in charge! I still enjoy a subtle tone-on-tone stripe for fun. But I do not like change.

Well... maybe I do... I don't know... let me think here...

Okay wait... I changed my mind. I do like change. I don't like radical scary change. Like aliens coming down and rearranging my life so that it no longer resembles the one I was dreaming about before waking up. I don't like when good friends move too far away because their husband changes jobs. I don't like when control freaks change the rules by which the rest of us were just playing nicely. Those are jolting changes. Those are uncomfortable and don't inspire anything.

What about the change that motivates us to grow? That can be scary, too.

Late last year, my husband, The Pilot and I separated. It was ugly. But it was good. Now, we are changing again. Not changing back... but hopefully changing for the better. We are slowly reforming our relationship, setting new rules and standards by which we plan to live. That change is also good. There are some old habits that we are both clinging to. That's where we are going to need outside help. Agreeing to the when and how is our current challenge. The fact that it is being discussed shows that we are changing forward... but that we still need to tread lightly...

You know what? Do you want to hear my Dirty Little Secret? The one I think The Pilot is pretty aware of? I really got used to being alone. I mean, yes, it's hard being a single mom. It's just one challenge after another. And answering questions about the husband is only part of the agony. (Ask my good friend, Naomi about those annoying questions... I'm the Little Voice In Her Head, or something like that...) But in the midst of difficult questions and all the confusion, there were things that I really began to enjoy. Not checking in with someone about a possible schedule conflict. Picking out girly colors for the room. Wearing something pretty just for me. These are all things I'm going to hang on to, regardless of the outcome. I guess being apart reminded me about who this girl named Sugar was. And I began to miss her. And there's a lot of stuff that I'm not willing to lose again.

Being alone also meant that I didn't have to worry about rejection, real or imagined.

The Pilot wasn't always wanting to join me for stuff. I always wondered if... if he would go on a hike with me... if he would schedule time off for special days of the year... if he would want to sit quietly with me as we sipped a cup of coffee read the morning news. I used to get so depressed when my invitations were met with indifference. This time alone made me really look at that unnatural reliance on another person... looking to someone to "complete" me. It hit me hard one day. I remember being up on the most thought clearing hike, thinking, "Now, why is it that I always begged him to come out with me?" I was thoroughly enjoying the quiet time alone. It didn't even bother me when a couple walked past me in the opposite direction. It would have last year. But I realized that although they may have been enjoying the hike together, I was enjoying the solitude... a lot! Then I thought, The Pilot likes fishing... he doesn't think I don't care about him if I don't go with him. Every now and then, we do go out on a boat together and we enjoy it. Most of the time, though, he's like Opey with a pole looking for a fishing hole. He doesn't need me to fish with him. Why did I need him to hike with me? That was a big epiphany for me. Silly, I know... but I can't tell you the relief I felt at that moment, right there on the trail.

So now we are semi-living together. He still keeps his Spare Room rented just in case I need to kick him to the curb. Just in case things don't change in the right direction. Eventually, I suppose he'll either move in and get rid of the Spare Room... or he won't. We'll have to take it... (do I need to say it)

... one day at a time.


Thursday, August 21, 2008


When I was a little girl, I was afraid of the monsters under my bed that were going to reach out and grab my legs before I could jump into bed after turning the lights off. I was afraid to walk out into the hallway to use the bathroom because I always imagined ghosts at the other end. I also thought that the scratch scratch scratching at the window was Big Foot.

I watched way too much TV.

Eventually, those monsters started to fade in comparison to the real monsters that were on TV later in the evenings. The monsters in Iran that had captured fifty-two American civilians and held them hostage for 444 days. The monsters in South Africa taking away their people's rights because of the color of their skin. The monsters in Russia that were threatening us with their nukes.

I watched way too much Nightline when I was a kid.

This week, we had some real live monsters in our neighborhood. One guy was an actor who played a part in the 40 Year Old Virgin. He ran into his girlfriend at the gym just over the hill. Apparently, they chatted for a while before she left to come back home. She was making dinner for her new boyfriend when the actor showed up at her door. He stabbed her twenty times. All evening, we heard sirens going down the street and a helicopter that whisked her away. She lived. But I'm sure those monsters will haunt her for a long time. Another monster is a guy that looks just like everybody else. The only things that set him apart are his love of white shoes with white knee high sport socks and his black backpack. He has threatened many of our neighbors while we are out on our beloved trails. Some neighbors have cautiously followed him in order to give his location to the operators on the phone, but the police can never seem to get here in time. He may be harmless, but he has us all on alert... and scared... and nervous about going out on the trails.

Monsters can just be in our heads. But they can also be very real. Some monsters just need to threaten us to feel empowered. Others will rage and cause harm because of jealousy. And other monsters that seemed to have gone away for a while are all back in the news... threatening us again...

There's this little thing called Election '08 coming up. The only thing I want to know from any of them, national, state, or local is: "How are you going to keep me safe from the monsters?" Because, essentially, that is the basic role of government. Not to legislate what I do with my hands. Not to legislate who I bow to. Not to legislate how I should think and who I should marry and where I should send my kids to school. All they really have to do is keep me and my friends and my neighbors and loved ones safe from monsters.

Is that too much to ask?

So while they are droning on and on about taxes and pumping their fists about change, I hope they have a clear view of the monsters in the world that threaten us here and abroad. I hope they have a good idea on how it is that they are going to keep us safe. Because I want to enjoy Saturday Night Concerts in the Park and dinner with my husband and hiking on my trails...

And I don't want to be afraid of the monsters anymore.


Last Saturday Night, Atomic Groove playing at the park for all the funky families

Last night at dinner with The Pilot

This morning...

Thursday, August 14, 2008


I was saddened this week at the loss of a woman I never knew. I mean, I never knew her personally. I have, however, come to know her through those that loved her.

My friend's sister had a lovely friend named Bridget. Bridget had a wonderful husband named Steve. She also had a sweet little girl named Grace and a newborn named Chloe. Bridget loved to dance and be with family.

Bridget had cancer.

Early on in Bridgets pregnancy with Chloe, she was given the news. During that time, she spoke of a calmness that washed over her knowing that everything, somehow, would be all right... even if her earthly body died. She believed that God was standing right beside her and in that strength, she lived each day. After many weeks of pregnancy with chemo, an emergency C-Section was performed and Baby Chloe was saved. Unfortunately, the prognosis never got any better for Bridget, and after much prayer and discussion and tearful last goodbyes, Bridget passed on. The email I received yesterday left me a little sad, but also feeling amazingly blessed for having been a witness to the strength and grace of a woman I never knew.

Her husband wanted me to know her. He wanted everyone to know her. Everyone who was ever touched by her. Everyone who will miss her. Everyone who ever breathed a prayer for her. So he pulled out an email from six years ago and invited us into a moment between a man and a woman so that we might know what a special person Bridget was. It's a long list, but don't worry... you have time to read it...

LOVE 101

1. I love when you smile

2. I love your Yahtzee celebration

3. I love how supportive you are of others

4. I love that you can dance

5. I love that you don't like Strawberry Hag -- more for me! :)

6. I love that your value our relationship

7. I love it when you rub my back in church

8. I love it when you laugh at my jokes

9. I love how supportive you are of your mom

10. I love that you love your family so much

11. I love that embarrassing things don't embarrass me when it is a result of you (see V-day cookie)

12. I love that you have entrusted me with your heart

13. I love your ankles

14. I love how we are able to work through our problems and come out stronger at the end

15. I love how your personality balances mine

16. I love how you support your friends

17. I love that you accept me and my many flaws

18. I love that I can give my life to you and know it was a good investment :)

19. I love your nose

20. I love that you pull me out of my shell so many times

21. I love the fact that looking into your eyes and smile can calm the storms inside me

22. I love your heart

23. I love smelling your hair after a shower

24. I love driving the Rav-4 with you as my co-pilot

25. I love that I can trust you to do the right thing

26. I love that you are a committed Christian

27. I love that we made a shift from 4:30 to 11:00 service for eachother's growth

28. I love that you are working on telling me concerns or things that bother you quickly

29. I love rubbing your back

30. I love rubbing the tops of your feet

31. I love your generosity

32. I love your kindness

33. I love that you have stopped breaking hard for me

34. I love that you were not late on Sunday or this morning

35. I love the glow you get when you talk about our relationship

36. I love hour head smashed in my chest when we hug real tight

37. I love your bumper

38. I loved it when you taught me how to ice-skate

39. I love how you compliment my strengths/weaknesses

40. I love how we have great talks about different things

41. I love that you know my WSU jersey number

42. I love that you don't hate me for buying a Nextel phone

43. I love how truly supportive you are of me

44. I love how we both rave about Gordon Huegenberger

45. I love that we both love Park Street Church

46. I love that we met at Park Street Church

47. I love kissing your neck

48. I love spending entire weekends with you away (see Wash. DC)

49. I love watching people get drawn to you

50. I love how others admire you so much

51. I love snowboarding with you

52. I love snuggling on the couch with you

53. I love taking walks in the rain with you

54. I love sitting on benches in the park with you

55. I love going to sleep on the couch next to you

56. I love waking up next to you

57. I love being your disc jokey

58. I love when we go on trips together (NYC, DC, Oregon...Australia?)

59. I love when you open up to me

60. I love opening up with you

61. I love looking at the picture of you on my cube wall

62. I love dreaming up pictures we can put up on our condo's new walls

63. I love going to BC football games with you

64. I love going to Sister Sorel with you

65. I love hearing your "smokers" voice

66. I love calling your office

67. I love walking by Bakey's on my way to Fanieul Hall and reminiscing

68. I love picking up your tab

69. I love making you happy

70. I love it that you make me so happy

71. I love it when you clean my earlobes

72. I love it when we sit close together on the T

73. I love it when we went on runs together...we should get back into this

74. I love talking to you after your dance class, you're so full of energy

75. I love playing tricks on you

76. I love giving you zrbrts

77. I love rubbing your stomach and back super softly

78. I love seeing you wake up

79. I love scaring you when you go to pick something from my face

80. I love that I have written 79 of these without hesitation

81. I love that I can call you my fiancee

82. I love that we have wonderful mutual friends

83. I love that you are my life's number one priority

84. I love that you are forgiving

85. I love that you are understanding

86. I love it when you look at me with your sheepish grin

87. I love it when you hold my hand

88. I love it when we hug that special way on the escalators

89. I love falling in love with you again and again when I dream of you

90. I love that you are accepting of my love affair with REM

91. I love that you love family as much as me

92. I love that we look to hang out with one another before anyone else

93. I love that you are 5'6''

94. I love that you looked into buying me some new chinos

95. I love in a few months we will look back at Thursday as just a blip in the radar screen

96. I love that you stuck by me through my weird time in early January

97. I love that you didn't run away when you were scared I was cheating on you with Lisa

98. I love the dream that I will be this old (98) and still call you my sweetheart

99. I love that you strengthen my character

100.I love that you will be this old (100) when I am still calling you my sweetheart

101.I love that God brought you into my life.

Just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more that cannot be explained in words.

Your forever,


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Do you hear that? That low hummm... coming to a feverish crescendo... just before the cymbals start to crash... crash... crash!

It's the sound of parents flocking to all the Big Ass Office stores to score supplies hoping that they will finally, this year, get everything the teachers ask for. It's the sound of all the cars taking off for three and four day weekends trying to savour the last of summer, even though it's not going to get really nice until their kids' butts are stuck to a chair. It's the sound of teachers stapling and hanging and shifting things in the class room for the optimal fung shue environment for learning. It's the sound of JCPenney usurping an 80s classic (still irritated by that) in order to get Gen X parents into their stores for the kids' wardrobes.

It's the Back-To-School buzz!

My BTS'ing is a little different. This weekend, we will be meeting a new Co-Op group that we will likely be joining. A new pink guitar was purchased instead of folders and highlighters. I'm mapping out the best route for our Moab to Durango to Mesa Verde loop. I'm scowering CraigsList for a school desk with attached chair while weighing the cost against actual use. I'm pulling out the sketch books and paint supplies, the inflatable globe, the puzzle of the 50 States...

Did I mention I homeschool?

Last fall, I sat on the back stoop of our formerly owned home talking to my husband about the fact that after a year in private Kindergarten, the Wonder Minds of the public school across the street were not going to allow Banana Girl to start first grade because her birthday was two weeks after their cut-off date. Never mind that she knew all her Popcorn words (the 100 words kids need to know to get into 1st grade) within the first five months of kindergarten. Never mind that she was given the Math Monkey award at her end-of-year celebration for being a walking calculator. Never mind that her mom spent the prior ten months working at a contract gig that she didn't really adore (f*ing hated) just to pay the tuition for the private kindergarten because she was told by the previous principal (idiot) that she would be able to start first grade. No... now, they were saying no. Just like that. After all that work.

(EXPLATIVE that rhymes with LUCK!!!!)

We had talked about homeschooling for quite some time, but then my husband got a taste of a two paycheck lifestyle. Homeschooling became a distant thought that we had pushed back behind the plans for building a pool and adding in that outdoor kitchen... don't forget the new floors... what was that? Homeschool? Huh? Sorry, I couldn't hear you over the din of my narcissism. We had a very serious discussion about what either path would mean to our family. I was scared. So was he. Choosing to school our own kids would mean great things, but sacrifice. Were we up for that? Could I handle sitting at a kitchen table and teaching my child all that she was supposed to learn at school? And then he reminded me about the incredibly ridiculous homework load that the older two would bring home because the shit didn't get finished at school. The mere memory of it sent me into convulsive fits and before I got the call back from the school across the street (ironically named Hope), I had already signed the Banana Girl up for the California Virtual Academy. "But we can test her into first grade," the principal pleaded, feeling thousands of dollars in state funding slipping through his hands...

A couple of days later, box after box after box came via UPS with everything our little student was going to need. We met other families at Back To School day where we had our pictures taken. I got a Teaching Parent ID card for discounts on school supplies at Target (holler!) and to show the police that the nosey neighbor down the street with all her cats had nothing to worry about. Just kidding. About the police. The target discount is For Real, yo.

Luckily, the curricumlum that CAVA uses is K12. FYI: Several states across the country are using K12 as part of their public school alternatives, slapping their names on it, and calling it worthy of receiving Government dollars. What that means is that our tax dollars come right back to us in the form of a fantastic curriculum (with all the texts, workbooks, computers, art supplies, music CDs, etc. covered by my state taxes, amen!), an awesome on-line system telling me what to do next, a real teacher that I can call if I don't know what to do next, and, my personal favorite, the freedom to explore anything that sparks my kids' minds.

Even armed with all those school supplies and my little ID card, I thought I had made a big mistake. The Biggest Mistake Ever! I was so overwhelmed. But I remembered something a friend had told me... it was going to take at least three months to hit our stride. It took us at least that long, for sure, but eventually, we figured it out and started to have a lot of fun (who knew) learning.

While there are some real sacrifices to homeschooling, there are a lot of great benefits. As I mentioned, we have an on-line school system. That means, wherever there's a connection, there's school. That means that we get to travel throughout the year without having to consult the school district calendar. That also means that our classroom environment can be as dynamic as I choose.

The kids love that!

I know the question that is already forming in your head. You've got it sitting there, tickling the front of your mind, blurring all the other words together so that you can't even see what I'm writing until you get to ask your question... it's the question I always get.

"What about socializing?"

I used to make a point of listing all the sports and dance and play groups that my kids were involved in because I wanted the person I was talking with to feel confident that I was not holding my kids captive in a basement only letting them out for church and the occassional doctor visit. I wanted to assure all the (judgmental) people (moms) that I was, in fact, a good mom. But then I would walk away from our conversations feeling all icky and whorry... I didn't need their approval to know that I was doing the right thing for my kids. Did I ask them about the food they feed their families and then continue the conversation by asking if they fried or baked their chicken, because you know grilling is much healthier and that's what we do and you should too? Did I? And did I point out that their socialized child just pushed that kid over there down the hill, but don't worry about scolding him because right now, you are too busy judging me? Huh?

So now, when I get that question, the one you know you want to ask, but you have way better manners than that, I just turn it back around, just like I was trained to do when stuck in a no-win situation with a client. "Do your kids get the right socialization?" I usually follow their long winded and somewhat defensice answer with an open ended question that gives me a chance to breathe:

"How do you feel about the forty to one class ratio?"

So, I'm not here to sell anyone on homeschooling. I just saw all these people buzzing all over the place and it was starting to get all frenetic so I thought I'd look into it and then all of this just spilled onto my keyboard. I feel like I was standing on a soap box. Maybe because all the complaining is finally just frustrating me. Parents have choices. We do. It's just that some choices come with a little more personal sacrifice than others.

Now, if you'll excuse me, we need to Wiki why we can not make square pancakes. After that, we'll be painting, and then we have a wayward beetle to disect.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Reunion Recap

These were NOT taken by my real camera. I didn't want to be behind the lens avoiding any interaction with my former classmates. Instead, I brought along my all-in-one pocket media gadget: my Palm Centro. We did not have optimal lighting conditions, but the smiles in these images shine pretty bright, regardless.

This is Paula, my high school BFF. She married some guy that I used to have a little crush on...

She still lets me sit on Todd's lap. He still likes it.

This is Christine, the most genuine girl you will ever know and the most fun you will ever have... and I don't mean that in a written-on-a-bathroom-stall kinda way.

Shaun... this guy was WAY too smart for his own good. Our high school counselor asked him if he thought that high school just wasn't for him. I reminded him that it wasn't. Because of his genius at finding loopholes, three rules were permanently changed in the student handbook. He took the GED and joined the Coast Guard. Now he's on his way to med school after a successful stint as a financial analyst. Guess our counselor was right. Genius isn't always in the form of a mold...

Randy (below) was my first crush. He had totally forgotten that fact. I had to remind him that I used to walk up behind him to snake the Fat Comb out of his back pocket so that he would chase me through the quad. He married one of my other classmates. They are so funny together... by the end of the night, she and I were drunk, laying on another guy's bed comparing nail length. Just like school...

Mr. Cool here is Craig. I never had a crush on him or anything. I just always loved his sleepy smile and killer dimples. He was one of those cool and quiet guys. Except for the beer gut, he's exactly the same.

I accidentally insulted Eric (below) by saying that he was the same but old. What I meant was, he had NOT changed... AT ALL! He looks just like he did in junior high. His wife is so so so sweet. I told her that I always knew he would marry someone just like her. He's a fireman now. Of course he is...

I once got arrested for shoplifting. I had totally forgotten about that episode until I ran into this Boozer. Brandy was always good for a party, especially when we were away on school sponsored trips. She admits that she still loves a good time. Brandy: Don't you go changin'...

My outfit was perfect... no matter how much I stressed over going without a bra... First time EVER doing that! Apparently, losing weight and regularly doing push ups works.

And can you believe that I didn't get Biggest 80s Hair???

At the end of the party, we moved to the bar, played some pool, ate some popcorn, and shut the place down. Then we headed up to Mike A's room, #617. Todd made sure we'd remember that number. He repeated it incessantly on the microphone all night. Supposedly, the guests across the way called security, but I still think it was Mike... he had the biggest S* eating grin on his face as we all left, beer and shoes in hand. My head hit a pillow sometime around 3:30 with a piece of cold pizza on my chest.

Aaaahhh... just like the good old days...


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Lyrics that make me think...

I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love
Can the child within my heart rise above
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life

Well, Ive been afraid of changing
cause Ive built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
Im getting older too

Oh, take my love, take it down
Climb a mountain and turn around
If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well the landslide will bring it down

If you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well maybe the landslide will bring it down

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Out of Focus

While I was at BlogHer in The City (aka San Francisco), I joined the Photo Walk organized by The Shutter Sisters. I was still a little overwhelmed from the morning's session on Beautiful Blogging and I was starting to get a little tired from trekking back and forth to my sisters apartment looking for my phone. Although I made it in time to grab a lunch, the obsessively efficient banquet staff at the St. Francis had already pulled the sodas. I started to feel pretty woozy and was actually planning to pass out before Rod, the very attentive Banquet Captain ran to get me a couple of Sprites. I guzzled one down, which is usually all I need to stop the ground from moving. He sat with me and made sure that I was okay. I had to get to the lobby for the Photo Walk but was still a little light-headed so he walked me to the elevator. I still had a bag filled with swag and lenses, so I quickly dropped it off with the bellman, took my ticket, and then ran out the front of the hotel searching for my group. Luckily, it's not hard to spot a large group of women with big mama honker cameras around their necks. I ran across the street to start snapping along with them.

And that's when I realized my mistake.

I had completely forgotten to switch to my 28-135 and still had the 70-300. I had to rethink what it was that I wanted to capture (pun intended) in that walk. While I would normally have taken shots of the obvious elements right in front of me, I had to actually do some work to find interesting shots far away. I took pictures of bits and pieces of architecture. I got a shot of a gentleman taking one step at a time without burdening him with my presence. I found crazy little creatures in all kinds of nooks and crannies. I was a little bummed, though, that I would not get to take pictures of the pretty little flowers in a garden that we had come across.

But then I was saved!

At the top of the hill and to the left, we came upon Grace Cathedral. I found some lovely flowers in the planters surrounding the steps up to the church. I did my best to take shots of them with the camera in my hands. Unfortunately, the further back I stepped in order to get the flowers into focus, the further down I got on the steps. I was starting to get frustrated but then thought better of having a tantrum in front of my Shutter Sister heroes. I decided to put the camera on the planter and pull it back to where I thought my intended foliage might come into focus. The results were surprisingly pleasant.

I hope you'll agree... or not... whatever... I don't care... I like 'em!

See... way too close up...

More Pictures over at my Flickr photostream.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Guitar Hero

Okay, so a few months back, I was TURNED ON to Rock Band. I was having so much fun "playing" the bass guitar and belting out Blondie's Call Me that I completely forgot it was just a game. I was no longer in my friend's media room with my kids eating a year's worth of M&Ms in the next room... no... I was on stage... at The Whiskey! YEAH! After a few sets, I was forced to relenquish the guitar and the mic and take my Sugar Babies home to sleep. It was, after all, nearly midnight.

One of the things I've always loved is the sound of a guitar. At a campfire, usually. I used to make moon eyes at the guys playing. Somehow, knowing those few chords seemed to elevate their handsome factor by leaps and bounds. I mean, how else do you suppose Tom Petty gets 'em? My new favorite guitar heroes are Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson. Those guys are already pretty cute. Strap on the guitar and oh-my-my.

My husband, The Pilot had always wanted to learn, so this year he bought not one, but two guitars. An acoustic one and an electric one with a whammy bar that the Banana Girl loves to rock! (I wonder how much of his hours of practice had to do with the way I stare at Jack Johnson on VH1?) So the other night, I was at church watching a chick play. Since I've been kind of picking along as The Pilot learns, I could actually follow what this girl was playing. I was like, wow! When she was done I pulled her aside and started asking her about the music, so she gave me what she had. I knew how the song was supposed to go and just needed to play the three chords that went along with it. I went home and miracle of all miracles, I could play a song! Not all rockstar, but I could play just the same.

I always wanted to learn an instrument, but I had tricked myself into believing that it was too late or that it would be too hard to learn something like that at my age as opposed to learning as a child. Then I thought, what the hell? What's the worst that could happen? I could get a couple of blisters and realize it wasn't for me. When I put my plucking and the song together, the combo confirmed that I could learn. So here I am... plucking away at this thing... I was thinking about shooting some video of it... but it's Monday and I just don't have it in me to practice chords AND shoot video. But hey, I get to check off another thing on My Life's Wish List.

#37: Learn to play an instrument.


Here's a shot of The Pilot at play:

UPDATED 08/07/08: Apparently, we've all been infected by Guitar-itis... this just came today for Banana Girl. She has decided to call her band "Daisy Rock" after her new pink guitar. How cute is that?! I'm askin'!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What was your name again?

Most of us are given names that our parents thought sounded nice for the little being growing inside of them. The names could have been handed down as a family legacy, or maybe the choice was based on a biblical persona or saint, or even just a popular name at the time. Think of all the Jennies in the 80s...

Last night, I showed up to my High School Reunion with butterflies in my stomach and a pen to rewrite my name. The name I graduated included my bio father's last name. Unfortunately, until the last part of my senior year, everyone knew me with my step-dad's name. My first name was the nickname to my actual name but was not reflected on my name badge. I knew that was going to happen, so I was prepared to make the change. What was funny was walking in knowing that these people all knew me by that name. That was a person I was so long ago. I really liked that person... full of love and potential, regardless of the stupid adults thwarting her dreams at every turn. She had a fun time and made so many good friends. She enjoyed life and learning, even though sometimes she was too busy frolicking in the waves to show up for class. She laughed out loud and hugged everyone hello. Reuniting her as an adult and with a new name was like a circle closing. By closing, I don't mean ending but finally being complete.

It felt like a ghost who had been haunting the hallways was finally set free to move on to the afterlife.

I walked away from High School as fast as I could, not because I didn't love my experience. That's not it at all. I loved being there. It was like paradise compared to being home. At school, I could be myself. Sometimes that was good, and other times embarrassing. That's just life. The reason I ran so far from there was out of shear humiliation. Although I held my head up while sticking it out, it was really hard being the pregnant girl. I left and started a new life. All along, I searched for friends that were older that had kids the same age as mine. We had that in common, but really nothing else. I missed people my age, so I started finding friends that knew the same songs and remembered the same movies. Unfortunately, none of them had kids. I was always either the youngest mom or the mature adult. Nobody else cared, but I never felt at ease. With the search for a new life came new names. First, the nickname had to go. I was no longer a child and the cutesy name wasn't jiving with my attempt at playing the responsible adult. Next, I took on the name of my first husband... then back to my legal last name... and now my second husband's name. Between husbands, I decided that my birth name was nice on a driver's license, but I really resonated with Sugar, given to me because of my need to go swimming at 2am in any available pool when I had too much to drink. Long story...

You know how when you fall on your face and look around to see if anyone saw and then thank God that the only person that saw had just tripped on the same thing? No? Well... I guess I'm just trying to come up with a metaphor... not working... Anyway, turns out that while I was running to escape what I thought was this awful stigma, many of the friends I left behind fell into similar situations. Some of them had kids the following year. So while it didn't happen in high school, it did happen. We laughed about the fact that I had always thought I was the only one that had to deal with these surprises at such an early age.

You know how when you fall down and then look around and nobody even noticed because they were too busy with their own stuff? Well, turns out that half of the people I came across last night don't even remember that I was pregnant. I was like "WHAT? How could you miss it? I was like totally pregnant! I was in labor at our graduation! You don't remember?" Blank stares. Turns out they were just typical 17 and 18 year olds who were too busy and narcissistic taking care of their own stuff. The only kids that remembered my "condition" were the ones that I had classes with.

All this time I had run away thinking I was the odd ball that had not had enough sense to either get on the pill or say no to her boyfriend. And all this time, I had friends just waiting for me to show up to the party to reconnect. I am so glad I went. And I am so glad to have reconnected. But I am eternally thankful for putting this ghost to rest...

releasing the feelings of torment that were never even necessary in the first place.


Friday, August 1, 2008

We are mighty, we are great...


I have to start packing up for a night of High School reunion-ing. I'm not all super hyper excited but I'm definitely looking forward to reconnecting with long lost friends and seeing how everyone is doing in our 30-somethings. I have a feeling we are all at about the same place by now. All the high school silliness is behind us and we've all likely taken our beatings in life since then.

It will be really sweet to see how tonight plays itself out.