Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Small Blog Big Pond

I decided to be cool. I decided to be hip and techno savvy. I decided to move my blog to a new website. A website which would allow my family and friends to get my blog emailed to them. A website with links, widgets and much more!

When I first started to blog a year ago, I put my entries up on Blogger. My mission was to write for me. I wanted to vent, express, and find a creative way to stay in touch with my friends. My cute small blog worked well. I picked out my background and started writing.

The problem is, I am still a small blogger, with a small blog. I still am blogging selfishly for me. I am a bit startled by the “Categories”, “links” and “tag words” all designed to get my blog bigger and better. I am intimidated by the possibility of people I don’t KNOW actually reading my blog. It is my blog but is also my journal and my mental health check. Well, honestly, it is my life that I try to reflect on and make funnier.

I know I have several “stealth” readers of my blog. Friends and family who check in on my life but don’t leave comments. I felt like this blog site would give you a chance to have my wit and wisdom sent right to you via email. (It would also boost my ego by knowing how many of you actually WANT to read it.)

So, here I am, Small Blogger in a Big Pond. Dear family and friends, I hope you find me here. I hope you get my blog via email. I hope you keep laughing with me as I move, transition, and live my life. To any others who stumble upon me. I hope you laugh a little. If you find me at all amusing, please go read “The Meat and Potatoes of Life” blog. Also available on this website. She is the blogger I want to be when I grow up. Now if I could just figure out that “Links” widget I could post the link to her site hmmm……



Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wanted: An Entourage

The relocation process has started. I have been explaining to people that for awhile now we have been waiting for things to happen. The relocation is this huge boulder sitting at the top of a hill. You get the call from your "Relocation Coordinator" and the boulder starts to shake. You get the call from your "Relocation Counselor" and boulder starts to roll. You get calls from morgatge representatives, realtors, your counselor again, and paper work arrives that HAS to get back right NOW. The boulder is big and now it has picked up speed. It is barreling down toward you.

This is where I feel like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. I need to get my hat, whip, and keep running. The problem with Indiana Jones is that he is often dirty, and I am sure he likes sleeping outside. He deals with bugs and snakes. I won't even camp unless I am in a building with a bathroom, attached. No walking through the woods for me, no way. I am also not a fan of bugs. They are fine, outside. I will stay inside and let them be. If they appear on my turf, they have to expect consequences. So I have devised another plan.

I can move pretty fast. I will dodge the boulder and assemble an Entourage. A nice full staff to get me through this transition. I want a personal assistant to organize my lists and life. They can send the emails out, mail the paperwork, and take my messages from the Relocation Posse. I could hire an interior decorator/stager to help make the house perfect for selling. I don't need a personal chef because I can handle that. I will need someone to keep the house clean though. To round out the team a publicist would be great. Someone to let Chicago and Naperville know I am coming and how cool I am. Since I don't have an Entourage, and won't be getting one soon. I guess I better keep running, pick up my hat, my whip, and get this house sold. It is always nice to dream though.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mrs. Mom

The other day the movie Mr. Mom came on our television. In my life, this is a classic movie. There are many quotes from it that are wonderful. My husbands favorite is "Wow Dad, one punch!" ONE of mine is "Wow, what did you use (to kill him) a 38?" Response, "A 38, 39, whatever it took." I loved this movie when it came out in the early 1980's. I was only 14 or so but it was funny and creative. It was written by John Hughes after all. It has Michael Keaton, Teri Garr, Martin Mull, and supporting players, Christopher Lloyd, and Jeffrey Tambor.

The premise is of course the husband loses his job and the wife goes back to work to support the family. The husband has many cliched, exaggerated troubles adjusting to being a stay at home parent. At one point he gets hooked watching soaps. They show scenes from an actual soap. Not only do I watch that soap, some of those characters are still on it!

As a stay at home parent, I can identify with the problems this gentleman had. The drudgery the routine. In a particular scene the husband and wife argue over his lose of focus, his appearance and the wearing of his "flannel shirt". Now I am not sure why but yesterday, I looked down at myself and got scared. You see this winter my wardrobe has morphed into sweats and my favorite gray fleece Y campaign for kids pullover. It has become a type of uniform. The pullover is definitely in need of a cleaning and the fleece is no longer soft and full it is rough and worn.

Last year when I was working I clearly put more effort into my look. This year I find myself getting dressed well to do errands etc. IF I am doing it after I have showered and exercised. If I do things before I exercise my dress is sweats and a UT shirt. So what to do? If I were in the movie the Rocky theme would play and I would be seen cleaning, turning off the TV, and burning my shirt. This I know will not happen. Instead, I will continue to exercise, clean the house, sell the house, and go on from there. (without the benefit of a soundtrack)

One problem, Mr. Mom handled so well in this movie was getting his son to give up his security blanket. My youngest doesn't have a security blanket, she has a bin of them. I wish I could use his logic on her.

"I understand that you little guys start out with your woobies and you think they're great... and they are, they are terrific. But pretty soon, a woobie isn't enough. You're out on the street trying to score an electric blanket, or maybe a quilt. And the next thing you know, you're strung out on bedspreads Ken. That's serious."

What do you think? I just may give it a try. But then again, I think it may be to late.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Animal Magnetism

I am a dog person. I like petting our dog. I like walking our dog. I like playing with our dog. Our current dog is a calm and loving creature. She stays close, listens well, and occasionally pees on my bed, but I still love her.

Lately, other dogs seem to have discovered the love of my dog Sage. Sage is a yellow lab who quietly pads around inside and outside. She sometimes stops while outside and lifts her head to bark 3 or 4 times in a row. I am not sure who she is calling out to, but she will then stop and resume her other business. Now one day last week some other dog must have heard her call.

It was a snow day and I was home with the children. The children came running to me with much excitement, "Mom, there is a dog outside in the yard!" Sure enough when I looked out, a large yellow retriever was happily sniffing around out back. I think it should be mentioned here that I often try to rescue loose dogs. If at all possible I attempt to attract them, look at their tags, call their owners, and host them in the house until the owner can come get them. I am a dog person. I hope someone would do the same for me with Sage. I go outside in the cold and snow. I kneel down and call this dog. He is big, he is hairy (and covered in snow),and he gleefully runs over to me. The girls are coming outside in their pajamas, they are taking pictures of this dog with their phone. I grab our new friend since I now know his name and I have a phone number to call.

Since our new friend is a boy I allow him inside. Sage ALWAYS gets along with boy dogs, girls are a gamble since it is the one thing I have found that can makes her a Diva is another girl dog. Our new companion comes in and chaos ensues. The two new friends start running around the house quickly, playing as dogs will do. The problem was they were two BIG dogs. I was able to call the owner and as luck would have it our new friend belonged to a neighbor. He was returned and all was well.

Until a few days later....

The girls are at school. I look out the window and there is my friendly dog again. Snowy, hairy, and happy in our yard. This time I go outside and call his same. He gallops over to me with a big goofy look. I pat his head and say, "Go Home!" I point to his yard which is behind ours. He looks at me and without missing a beat, runs past me to the back door of MY house. Well, I AM a dog person, so I let him in for more chaos while I call his owners. He gets sent home safely, again.

Until a few days later......

I am sitting in the kitchen working on my computer. Out of the corner of my eye I see a large dog in the yard. Not AGAIN I think. This time I decide to let Sage outside. I figure chaos can happen out there instead of around my dining room table. As I go out after Sage, I take a closer look. This is DIFFERENT dog. Upon closer inspection I see that she is darker colored, and the name tag shows me she is a GIRL. Uh oh, I think to myself. I grab Sage and run her inside before the fun stops and the fussing starts. I then get my calm, gray muzzled, female dog and call her owner. She apparently lives a little further away but not far. I wait outside with her while the owner walks over. Once returned everyone is happy again.

I am not sure why dogs are so attracted to our yard all of a sudden. For the moment I will continue to work on my computer, and keep one eye out the window. You never know, maybe next time we will attract a pony!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Snow Days

It was snowing, again. It was snowing, again, in Tennessee. This is an unusual thing for the south (or so I am told). I am a northerner, a dam Yankee, the snow is not shocking, or surprising to me. I was assured it did not snow in Tennessee. Before we moved, I purged our boots, snow pants, and most snow shovels. I had saved my favorite snow shovel, the one which got me through the Delaware Blizzards last winter. It was like an old friend, I could not part with it just yet. Now I am glad I kept it. Apparently, I NEEDED it.

Remember, it is NOT supposed to snow in Tennessee. Here it was snowing, again. The children had missed school, they continued to miss school, and when they did get back to school they had delayed starts. It was not even that much snow. I think the move to Chicago will stun my children. I keep trying to tell them, they will NEVER see another snow day again. Like good pre - teens they nod at me and pretend to hear me. They are in denial.

One thing I missed during my snow days in Tennessee was my Delaware neighbors and friends. Here in Tennessee the snow stopped. I had watched the news and seen the storm move out. I must say the "Storm Coverage" was reasonable, not like in Delaware where the "Storm Coverage" would go on for hours and have reporters out in the snow talking to crazy people out driving in it. I missed the "Storm Coverage", I used to watch with gleeful guilt when I knew we had a storm big enough to keep us in the house.

Here in Tennessee the snow had stopped. When the snow stops you go out to shovel. In Delaware you would be out shoveling and in short order you could be chatting with neighbors, catching up with them, helping each other dig out driveways. I went out to shovel. I saw not a single soul. I am not sure if it because they don't have snow shovels, they assumed it would melt quickly since we live in the south, or if they were all in their houses pointing and laughing at me.

As my shovel and I plowed our way down the driveway, I began to think. Why am doing this? It is not like when I get to the end of the driveway a plow will come by on my street so I can get out? I decided to do it anyway, I figured the sun would melt everything away making my life easier for tomorrow. Later I learned that I was not alone in my shoveling. ALL the northerners get out there early and get it done. We are like a mutant animal that work in instinct and tradition. There was just not enough of us to be connected by sight in my neighborhood.

I missed my old neighborhood in the snow, and I missed my old neighbors. The children would walk to each others houses to play. They would meet at the school and go sledding on the barely a hill. We would share hot chocolate and glasses of wine as we huddled together and survived the storms. It is not supposed to snow in Tennessee. I know it is supposed to snow in Chicago. I just hope my new neighbors are kind and along with a glass of wine might watch the "Storm Coverage" with me if there is any.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Wisemen Cometh

This is a story about accidents and wisdom. As a child I am sure all of us have a story of breaking something in our house by accident. People my age will nod their heads and laugh if you mention the immortal words from "The Brady Bunch", "Mom, always said,'Don't play ball in the house.'"

When I was young my mom had a lamp. At the particular age I was I could never really understand why it was called a lamp. It looked more like a large vase. It was an antique and was very special to my mother. It sat by the fireplace in the living room. On one particular day my sister and I were playing in the living room. We were singing, dancing, and acting out lyrics to songs. If I recollect correctly it was Beatles music. We were having a grand time, and then it happened. I don't know how, I don't know who, but there was a crash. My sister and I froze and turned to see the lamp shattered on it's side. We then heard my mother's pained cry from the basement where she was doing laundry, "Was that my lamp?" Suddenly, my father materialized from no where. He looked at the lamp and he looked at us. "Go to your rooms." he told us. He did not say it in an angry way, more of a "I will take care of this and save your lives." kind of way. My sister and I dashed passed my mom and ran upstairs. I looked back to see my dad comforting my mother.

I don't recall being punished for breaking my mother's precious item. I do know it hurt me that it had happened. I was upset that I had taken something from her. I knew there was nothing I could do to fix it. It was, an accident. I am much older now but I still remember how bad I felt back then. Over time my siblings and I have given my mom other antique lamps. She now has several. We tried to give her something back that we feel was wrongly taken.

It is at this point that I must flash forward to the present day. It is the holiday season. My family has returned from out travels but has not cleaned up our Christmas decorations. In the family room sits my Nativity Set. My Nativity set is a little different. It is mine, that I liked, and I have worked hard to build up over the years. It is fairly expensive so I have bought it or received pieces as gifts over time. It is nearly a complete set. I am in the kitchen cleaning up and I turn around. There before me stands my youngest child. Her eyes are wide and she holds in one hand, the head of a wiseman, and in the other his body. She looks at me and stammers," He, he just fell over." I return her gaze and echo back "He just fell over?" a question and probably some sternness in my voice.

My daughter regroups and says,"I was bouncing on the ball(why is always balls)and I bumped it. You can glue it, right?" she asks me. I examine the wiseman, "I guess I could glue it." I say. I am thinking in my head, but then he would have this scar on his neck like some marauder had come up from behind and slit his throat and tried to rob him. I am clearly upset at the loss of my wiseman but I am doing my best not to show it. I have my vivid memories of how upset I was when I had broken something special to my mother. My daughter can see I am hurt, and she knows how important my Nativity is to me. She looks at me and her eyes fill with tears. "I am so sorry mom." she cries. "It was an accident." I comfort her and calm her down. "Don't worry," I say, "I can get another one." In fact when I seek out my husband and cry a little on his shoulder he suggests just that. "Just call them up, I am sure they will let you buy just one." I nod in agreement, but secretly know it does NOT work that way.

I come back downstairs and at the sight of me my daughter starts crying again. I take her in my arms and comfort her again. This time I tell her not to worry. As I recall in the bible it never actually SAYS there are 3 wisemen. People just assign the number three because of the gifts that is listed they bring. In our Nativity one wisman can bring TWO gifts. I reassure her that I will buy some new wisemen. Next year, I say, we can have FIVE wisemen. What baby Jesus would not like a few extra gifts?, I ask. I also think in the back of my mind, a few extra wisemen for the next time this happens could be a good thing. Now that's what I call wisdom.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

All Gods Creatures Have A Place in the Choir, and Apparently, a Room in the Holiday Inn Express

We traveled this Christmas. We planned, packed, loaded, unloaded, reloaded, and drove over much of the midatlantic region. I have not traveled this far for Christmas in many years. In college I loved being home for the holidays but always dreaded getting there. My sister Gayle got double the travel bug where as I got none. When the children were young we packed up toys, diapers, gifts, excersaucers, bottles, pack and plays and went to relatives but soon that stopped. We were blessed and able to be at home for Christmas and our farthest journey over the holidays was an hour and half long. In my mind that is not a journey, it is an excursion.

This year we had a full fledged journey to make. My husband and children helped carry out all our items to load. Which included the gifts, snacks, sleeping bags, air mattresses, luggage, plus a dog, dog bed, and cookies. I packed the car with efficiently thanks to the Strommen packing gene and we set off. We drove part of the way and found our hotel. It was COLD that night and the hotel seemed fairly quiet. The check in clerk said it was busier the night before, mostly people traveling with their pets. After a bite to eat we all settled in to bed.

My husband fell asleep almost instantly, he was very tired and done the driving. I snuggled in with the children to assist them in laying still and settling down. They do not enjoy sharing a bed, it often helps if I am a barrier until they fall asleep. After I was assured there was even relaxed breathing from both I crawled back to my bed. The dog who was on the floor mumbled at me. (something she has started doing lately) I don't often sleep well in hotels or places that are not my home. I wake often and sleep lightly.

During the night I would wake and hear people walking by our room. I often heard other dogs barking so I knew we were not alone in our travels with animals. At some point I began to picture what it would have been like on Christmas Eve in the stable. It was cold that night in the hotel, was it cold in the stable? The rustling of animals and oders that accompanies them, what was that like? Surely worse than my dogs current "I need a bath bad" smell. Was the night sky clear? Out our window we had the view of an 84 Lumber. It just backed right up to us. All the outside sheds had reminded me again of a stable. I had not been able to see many stars when I had looked out. Eventually I fell asleep for the longest of my stretches of slumber. In the morning we all awoke and it was Christmas Eve. The dog jumped on the bed with Jack and I and we let her stay. She did her usual mumbling. I laughed and asked her what she was saying, maybe it was "Merry Christmas", but Jack said she was saying, "It was about time you let me up here." We ate our breakfast, loaded the car, and continued our journey. I was glad we had found a hotel that welcomed pets. I am also glad that we were on our way to family and friends and are able to welcome the coming of Jesus at Christmas together.