Well, This is Awkward

Well, this is awkward.

I’ve taken a break. Quite a long break, it seems. The last time that I posted on my blog was exactly one year ago today. As time goes by, it passes more and more quickly. Last July, I had intended to post once weekly. According to my calendar, the next post should have occurred during my first week back to work after last summer’s vacation. I suppose I was a little weary coming home from work that week. So I put it off until the next.

Tucker urging me to write a post.

Tucker urging me to write a post.

That next week, I suppose I thought I might just take a two-week break, and so another delay. Followed by another, then another. Once several weeks had gone by, writing on my blog shifted from the front of my mind toward the back. That’s not to say that I completely forgot. Not at all. Each time that I sat at my desk in my office, I felt a creepy nervousness . . . I should be writing. I was in an extended intermission.

After a month or two, thinking about posting prompted the same feeling as picking up the phone to call a friend too long neglected. Awkward. Nonetheless, making that awkward call is a necessity, and generally results in something positive. Right, Stephanie??

Tucker - waiting for me to start writing.

Tucker – waiting for me to start writing.

I guess about a year ago, I felt like I had run out of things to say. Sort of. There were many times that I felt strongly about some topic and thought, “That would make a great blog post.” The problem was always the topic. I had things to say about politics, the state of education, parenting, or religion. Those topics, however, have never been the purpose of this blog. Would I be sharing too much if I commented on such topics? Would I invite people to invade the privacy of my mind?

I make a new pledge to write every week. I do have things to tell. I hope I can tickle something in those who read. I don’t want to have another awkwardly blog intermission.

What do you want to hear?

Stay tuned.

P.S. Happy Birthday, Ian!

Tucker - having given up.

Tucker – having given up.

There’s an App for That

How did I live my life before heated seats, cell phones, computers, and most importantly computer applications. There’s an app for nearly anything that I need to do. My day moves along from one app to another, especially these days that I’ve been on vacation.

Credit: huffingtonpost.com

Credit: huffingtonpost.com

I get up in the morning, and check out all sorts of communications on my ipad, computer and cell phone. I have two personal email accounts – and I check those both first. Then I move on to see what people have been doing on Facebook. I must admit, that I really only glance at Facebook, since there’s just too much there: too much politics, too much “Today I cleaned my kitchen”, too much of too much! From there, I see what my friends have to say on Twitter – which is generally a little more inspiring. From there, I check out the photos – many of them pretty spectacular – on Instagram.

After catching up on both the important and trivial that’s going on, I do my daily brain exercises. I’ve tried lots of apps, but what I’m interested in are FREE apps that are quick and limited. I can complete a puzzle or game in a few minutes, and the app doesn’t allow me to complete more than one game daily (or I would be on it forever!) I like 7 Little Words and Red Herring (thanks for the tip, Ian!). Some days, I’ll put together a puzzle on Jigsaw Bug, but it doesn’t limit my play, so I try to avoid it.

I could spend the rest of my day reading from iBooks or Kindle. That would be the end of that, but I am trying to read the entire Bible – and I’m using Bible Study for that. It assigns me a short passage every day.

I organize myself with Google Calendar where I keep appointments and special dates, and Any.do – my to do list. I’ve organized my ENTIRE closet with Stylebook – and I can plan and track what I wear, so that I can thin down all that stuff in my closet!! I LOVE that app!!

I really am not a great big fan of cleaning – and so I found this wonderful little app that gives me as many or as few chores to do every day. If I keep up with it, the house remains adequately clean! It’s called UfYH and there is a disclaimer upfront that the language is not for the faint of heart. Enough said.

If I’m at work, then I need my combination of Psych Tools and Cube to keep track of everything that is going on.

Come time for dinner planning, I pull up RecipeBook, where I store all my favorite choices for dinner.

An evening isn’t complete wiithout a little entertainment. Generally, one of the boys have something on  that makes me giggle.

When I go to bed, I don’t set an app alarm. I continue with my old fashioned clock radio. My evil enemy. But if I wanted to – I’m sure there’s an app for that, too.

 

My New Tooth

June 6Yesterday I got a new tooth. I didn’t really want a new one – I was quite happy with the original until about a week ago. And if the truth is to be known, I would far rather spend several hundred dollars on new pieces for my wardrobe, or anything that could be seen by my friends without having to pull back on the side of my mouth in a very unseemly grimace.

I called for my appointment just after hearing about the two break-ins at Rod’s mother’s house and the ten (or so) stitches that Rod’s brother-in-law had in his ear. The stitches were a result of an injury sustained in a fall that he took onto some lovely cactus plants in the beautifully landscaped grounds of the El Dorado Royale Resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Both his mother and brother-in-law were there on a family vacation that Rod and I had enjoyed with them.

June 3

Our balcony pool

Rod had to get back to work, so our vacation was one day shorter than the rest of the clan. The weather on the day we left was beautiful – 83 degrees with abundant sunshine. The previous two days were spent avoiding the effects of Tropical Disturbance “Invest 91L”. Over those days, about three and one-half inches of rain were blown wildly about by winds of twenty to fifty miles per hour.

Ever diligent to details, Rod had inspected our outdoor shower and surmized that, during the storm, it would be best to keep the shower drain clear of the thatch from the resort rooftops so that the rain water didn’t become trapped. The other family members hadn’t taken into account that three and one-half inches of rain would spill over the shower curb; hence three of our group of four rooms flooded to a greater or lesser degree.

During the stormy weather, I amused myself by running my tongue over the jagged edges of the break on my tooth while gazing longlingly at our private pool nestled off of our weather-ravaged second floor balcony. Invest 91L turned into Tropical Storm Bill over the Gulf of Mexico as Rod and I travelled home.

June 4

El Castillo, The Kukulkan Pyramid at Chichen Itza

We did have one solidly good weather day during our trip. All eight of the family members spent five hours of that day on a slightly comfortable passenger van completing a round trip through the jungles of the Yucatan to Chichen Itza. The Mayan ruins were awesome! And I didn’t even mind the sweat that was running downward from the top of my head to my toes as we stood on the lawn at the base of one of the seven wonders of the world –  El Castillo, the Kukulkan Pyramid. The eighth wonder was that none of us appeared to suffer from heat stroke.

Sam, our tour guide, took us from Chichen Itza to a nearby cenote (an underground pool) for a swim. Now, I’m always game for something that can make a person look five years younger, as was claimed of a fifteen minute swim in the cenote; however, from the looks of the water waaaay down there, I thought the effects of the stagnant pool could be somewhat more harmful than beneficial. AND I’d read to be sure not to get a mouthful of cenote water so as to avoid the Revenge of Montazuma. Enough evidence for me. I sat that experience out.

June 5The previous day’s shopping trip to Playa del Carmen was interesting. Fifth Avenue it is not. We purchased this bottle of Tequila (yep, that’s our crew) and Rod bought two floats for us to enjoy in either the large common pool or our privately suspended pool mentioned above. It took Rod the two hours following our return to the resort to blow one up. That left about 30 minutes to float before a storm blew in. Not to worry – we had a dinner reservation for a self-described authentic Mexican restaurant in the resort.

Ricon Mexicano had a wonderful table for all eight of us. AND the food was fantastic. I just didn’t know that the unexpected crunchy texture that I experienced in my bowl of taco soup was, indeed, small parts of my beloved tooth number 15. A piece of dental floss and the mirror in my room helped to reveal the sizable gap in ole 15. I hurried to show the remains of 15 to Rod, and accidentally bumped into his left thigh. This left him grimmacing in pain while I grimmaced to show him my dental failure.

You see, when we arrived the day before, Rod went to his sister’s second floor room via the wooden staircase to inspect their bathroom flooded by a sink drain failure. On his way back down the stairs, he slipped on the water that had been flowing from their room. His fall caused a large and ugly bruise, a huge welt and a scrape on his left thigh. The resort doctor prescribed some antibiotics and a day out of the water.

That trip is another one for the books. There were challenges, for sure, but we gained lots of good memories. And I gained a new tooth 15.

 

World’s Best Mom – The Real One

Dear Readers – I know that I’ve posted this one before – each year at Mother’s Day, in fact. I can’t help but post it again. It’s tradition. And it’s true.

Who is it that is The World’s Best Mom – I mean the real one?

worlds best

I hear today’s mothers talk about how difficult it is to raise children. It is. Today’s mother fills so many roles: care-giver, taxi driver, social secretary, tutor, short order cook, therapist, and laundress to name a few. Many times, today’s mother is also an employee, working part or all of the week outside of the home. You might think that the World’s Best Mom that I mentioned in my last post is one of these. Not so.

I know the woman that is written about on the covers of all those cards lining the shelves of your neighborhood grocery, drug store, or Hallmark location. Sometimes I think that the people who write the nostalgia that you read there have covertly followed this woman around for many, many years. Watching. Studying. Examining the methods, the skills, the seamless way that she somehow balances all that she does, with their pencils balanced in their hands, taking notes, jotting down words now and then to try to capture this magic.

They watch as she nurtures so many little ones simultaneously. Six children in a ten year span. She dresses them and feeds them. Dressing is not just pulling some clothes onto wriggling little bodies. They watch her late into the night, expertly guiding fabric through a Singer sewing machine – miraculously transforming bits of raw material into garments that stylishly adorn her children, her teens, her young adults, as they grow and mature.

mothers

She doesn’t drive through a fast food store or take the brood out for a restaurant dinner. No. Restaurants are meant for adults. The interlopers watch her in the spring as she wrestles with an old and battered tiller to turn the soil in the acre-large garden, in which she will sow the vegetables – corn, potatoes, beans, peas, lettuce, onions, cabbage, carrots – all in long rows which she will tend through the summer and harvest in the fall, storing up all that will be needed for the long winter. Her children are with her – being guided and taught, learning the difference between a weed and a plant that will bear their sustenance. The spies witness the tending of the poultry as it is carefully cleaned and frozen. They watch her on baking day, when she kneads the dough that will be baked into the most delicious loaves of bread and pans of rolls. They observe closely while she teaches the girls the finer points of jelly rolls, pancakes, and chocolate cake.

They see her thank God for each and every meal.

They watch in wonder as she earns a living, along with her husband – raising the wheat, the cattle, the hogs. They follow her when she is called to drive the truck, the tractor, the coffee and lunch to her husband while he works the land. Copious notes are taken during the harvest – she at the house: preparing the food for the hungry children and the harvesting crew, pickling and freezing the bounty from the garden, preparing her children for school, and sending them on the bus to the school in town.

With water running into one sink in the farm house, she keeps the home clean, washes the clothes, bathes her babies.

black best mom

The sentiment writers are awestruck as this woman guides her young. She pushes them. She demands good things. Even when the child would rather take the easy way, she expects admirable results. She knows the value of work and teaches it to her children.

She reads to them. She writes and colors with them. She’s known to break into song at unpredictable moments. Old songs. Good songs. Perfect pitch. “I’m an old cow hand – from the Rio Grande.” She and her husband somehow purchase a piano. She sets the timer daily to insure that thirty solid minutes of practice are completed each day.

This woman gracefully, lovingly watches her children grow. She ushers them through graduations, sends them off to college, sews their wedding gowns, bakes and expertly decorates their wedding cakes. She turns them over to the world, knowing that they will do good things.

Still, the agents watch this woman go on. They are thrilled to joyous celebration when she becomes a grandmother; and humbled to tears as they watch her quietly, firmly, steadfastly reassure one of her own. “It’s alright, Judy, Mom’s here,” they hear her say, as she guides the daughter to life’s end.

They see her nurturing continue as she cares for the her husband in the last few of their 57 years together, while his once razor sharp mind diminishes to confusion and doubt.

Mom and grandboys

Still, the agents see her smile, see her laugh, observe her delight in her grandchildren, all ten of them – each one receiving wisdom, comfort, cuddles and cookies.

These spies have been exposed to what motherhood is and are full of wonder at how this one woman could be so much to so many – year after glorious year! The operatives cannot imagine how they will express all of this and try so hard to contain all the meaning within a limited number of words, with fancy font on the front of a greeting card. The best they can produce is “World’s Best Mom.”

How do I know this woman? Well, if you were there: in the garden during the summer, on Main Street of the little town on Saturday night, on Sunday mornings at the little country church, you would have seen a little tow-headed girl, second youngest of the half-dozen, holding her mother’s hand. Staying close.Mom

I know this woman. I am honored to say that she is my mother.

Love You, Mom! Happy Mother’s Day. You are the World’s Best.

Lori

 

 

World’s Best Mom!

I once received a Mother’s Day card from the boys with the words “World’s Best Mom” on the front. I was delighted that the boys found such a sweet sentiment for me to mark the one day of the year sanctioned to honor the most honorable job in the world. Generally, I don’t recognize what I think of as “Hallmark Holidays” – you know, the ones that are spaced out evenly throughout the year so that Hallmark and other greeting card companies can supplement their sales.

Photo Credit: cafepress.com

Photo Credit: cafepress.com

I did feel a little uneasy with the “World’s Best Mom” message, though. You see, my boys are most decidedly mistaken. I am not the world’s best mom. Each and every year since the arrival of my oldest son, I have committed some of the most grievous parenting errors.

I must say, that I did not set out to do a poor job of mothering. When I was growing up, I knew that I wanted to be two things when I grew up: a teacher and a mother. Not only did I want to engage in those most honorable professions, I wanted to be good – no – FANTASTIC at each of them. In fact, prior to being blessed with any children at all I knew EXACTLY how I would be a prize-winning mother. I had seen so many examples of parenting behaviors that I vowed I would never do. I also had seen children doing things that I swore to myself, and regrettably, to others, MY children would NEVER do.

Ian Mutant Ninja Turtle

Ian Mutant Ninja Turtle

In retrospect, it is true that ignorance is bliss. I may not have committed any (or many) of the faults that I saw others perpetrate upon their children, as I watched with haughty disdain! However, I  was able to single-handedly impose a wide and vast variety of ill-conceived parenting techniques upon my mostly innocent (and that may be a generous descriptor) children! Although my memory is somewhat dulled, I believe that I can reach through the fog of time to retrieve a few.

I recall with a healthy measure of guilt, how cute I thought Ian looked when, at a children’s festival, he had his face painted to look just like one of the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles. Cute to be sure, until the colorful mask was removed and revealed an angry, red, near blistering rash remaining where the adorable mask had been.

Who wouldn't want to kiss him?

Who wouldn’t want to kiss him?

Or the time that one of the boys came home from a lovely day at kindergarten and reported that a little girl had kissed him on the playground. Rather than recognize the act for the wholesome one that it surely was, I experienced a surprising welling of indignation. I took that angelic boy’s face in my hands, and growled through my teeth that he could march right up to that little hussy the next day at school and tell her that no one, NO ONE kisses my boys except for me!

Angelic!!

Angelic!!

And then there was the day that I heard that phrase that I believe every child carries around in their back pocket, waiting for just the perfect time to deploy on their parent: “But Johnny’s mom is going to let him <insert a clearly dangerous activity of your choice here>.” My instinctive response went something like: “Well clearly, Johnny’s mother doesn’t love him as much as I love you!” Ouch!

And, of course, there was the time that, while interrogating ten-year-old Ian about his playmate’s accusation of Ian having used the “f” word, I actually handed the aforementioned cuss word to him on a silver platter. Ian was steadfastly denying that he had not uttered a bad word, in fact, he claimed not to even know what the “f” word was!

“Really,”  I said to Ian in disbelief! The child was in the fourth grade! He had ridden the school bus daily for the past two years with older children. Surely, he knew the word to which I was referring! “The “f” word, Ian! You know, the one that rhymes with truck! I can’t believe that you would use that word with your friend!” I exclaimed.

Ian’s brow furrowed deeply in thought. He never was really good at rhyming, or any of the phonological skills, for that matter. He looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “F*¢^? Is that the “f” word, Mom? F*¢^? Tell me, Mom, is that what it is? I thought that the “f” word was fart!”

Ugh! Each time that I committed on of these thoughtless acts upon the boys, I would cringe as the words would spill out and immediately wish them back into my undisciplined mouth.  And I would think, “Nice going, Lori, that puts you out of the running for Mother of the Year for another year.” Sometimes, I would remind myself that it might be a good idea to deposit another few hundred dollars into the account set up for future therapy. The kind that can repair the damage done by a mother careless with her words.

I’m not sure if the boys will read this post, and if they do, whether they will recall any of these poignant moments from their early childhood. Hopefully not. It seems that they have somehow been able to recall mainly the good stuff that happened during their younger years. It must be so – they’ve told me, via Hallmark, that I am the World’s Best Mother.

Though I’m not the epitome of mothering, I know a person who is. Watch for a post in a minute, and you can read all about her.