Thursday, August 28, 2014

Before and After: Gun Show Edition

Do you remember when I quit the gym in March?

I can’t believe you don’t remember.  It was a pretty big day here.

Anyway.

I quit the gym for one very good reason: I wasn’t going to the gym anymore.  After four years of regular yoga and weightlifting classes three times a week, I sort of just stopped going.  I blamed the brutally cold temperatures of winter, the many snow-covered days that kept me inside, even my own busyness.

It was a sham.  I just got bored and lazy.

So I quit.

Do you know happens when a person quits the gym and does not much other exercise?  I mean, I do exercise.  I walk every day.  But still.  DO YOU KNOW WHAT HAPPENS?

You know what happens.  Flab and Sag come to visit indefinitely.  They are not good houseguests.

So when I read on the internet* (yay, internet!) about little things you could do each day to keep in shape, like do push-ups every day for 100 days, I thought, now, I can do THAT.

So I did.

I did push-ups every day.  I started doing them on my knees like I was taught in gym class (Why are girls taught this?  WHY?), and then when I felt like I could spend a good portion of the day doing knee push-ups, I graduated to doing push-ups on my toes.  It felt really good, even though I could only do a few half push-ups that way.

But I kept it up.

For like three weeks.

Then I got bored and lazy, so I quit.

Well, I didn’t really quit.  But I definitely didn’t do it every day.  A hundred days, people.  It’s a lot of days in a row, and I was just getting started.  I did push-ups every other day, then twice a week, then, well, when I think about it I’ll drop and give you twenty er… ten or so.  I did push-ups a few times this week.  It takes like less than thirty seconds.  I question the usefulness of this type of exercise.

But at least I remembered to take a picture of my arms the first day I started this nonsense, so I could see the difference a hundred days makes, even if my hundred days turned out to be 20 days and the odd day here and there.  So I took a picture today, to compare:


Not bad.  Not bad at all.  Not great, but not bad.  Maybe I'll keep it up.  Or not.

*Thanks to Alexandra from Good Day, Regular People, who inspired me to try this 100 days of push-ups challenge.  Even though I'm a total quitter.  Evidently this 100 days thing is a total thing.  Here's the video that got me going.  Try it!

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This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #3: Show us a before and after.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Summer by the Numbers

It’s such a joke that summer is comprised of the months June, July, and August.  That’s 92 days, people.

It’s not that long.  School goes until the middle of June and starts today, the beginning of the last week of August, a full week before the unofficial end of summer, which adds up to about ten weeks of summer.  That’s 72 days.

I don’t know about you, but I could have used those three extra weeks.

We never feel like we get to all the stuff we say we’re going to, never get to live up to the hopes and dreams of all that summer promises.  My kids end every summer by telling me all the things we said we’d do but didn’t get to.

My kids are insistent on keeping me accountable.  It’s maddening.

We did a lot this summer! I chirp, trying to keep their dwindling spirits alive as they morosely pack their backpacks to the brim with pens and highlighters and composition books and 2-inch binders full of loose-leaf that they will bring home unused next June.

(Dear teachers:  My kids need a notebook and a folder and a couple of pencils to survive in school.  The myriad binders and hole reinforcements and colored pencils bog them down and confuse us all.  Simplicity.  Please.)

Before I usher them out the door on the first day of school, before taking pictures of their smiling, tanned faces, freshly brushed and scrubbed today for the last time all school year because they will from this day forward be too tired and overwhelmed to get themselves wholly ready for school without missing some critical part of daily hygiene, I remind them how we spent each second of the summer.

Time spent watching YouTube videos: 104 hours
Time spent crafting and playing video games: 90 hours


Time spent fighting and arguing: 59 hours
Total time spent peeling sunburned skin: 3 hours
Time spent watching re-runs of TV shows we’ve seen before: 127 hours


Time spent watching TV shows we’ve never seen before: 4 hours
Hamburgers eaten: 47


Pop-Tarts eaten: 75
Bags of Twizzlers eaten: 8
Amount of beer and wine and soda consumed: unknown
Pounds lost/gained: 7/7
Days on vacation/camp: 31



Time spent doing vacation/camp laundry: 4 days
Pieces of luggage irretrievably marred by stench of vacation/camp laundry: 1
Bathing suits lost: 0 (win!)
Beach towels gained: 1 (win!)
Pairs of flip-flops broken: 3
Baseball games watched or participated in: 20,000,000




Times golfed: 20
Times mowed the lawn: 12
Time spent mowing the lawn: 9 hours
Time spent talking/whining about having to mow the lawn: 24 hours


Times affected by poison ivy: 2
Time spent talking/whining about having poison ivy: 24 hours
People shown poison ivy rash to: 100
Money spent on poison ivy remedies: $104
Incidences of rage/insomnia/acne brought on by steroid remedy for poison ivy: 12
Times promised we’d do the local river float: 12
Times doing local river float: 0
Books read: 20
Times mom patted herself on the back for ensuring kids did all their summer reading required for school: 15 and counting
Activities squeezed into last week of summer vacation: 3


Hours spent being cranky about last week of summer being so chaotic: 15
Kids going to school: 2
Husbands going to work: 1
Person wishing she had three more weeks of summer: 1


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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Don't Say It

One of my worst characteristics is saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Yeah, I said one of my worst.  Sigh.

All is not lost, however.  I am learning to overcome my personality defects.  In conversation, I have learned to consciously think to myself: keep your mouth shut, don’t say it, it’s not worth it, and - when things are dire - for the love of BeyoncĂ©, STOP TALKING. 

It’s a constant practice.  I was not naturally blessed with the gift of tactfulness.  I neeeeed to make connections, appropriate or not, good sense or not.   I also neeeeed to try and be witty, clever, sharp, and flippant.  I’m exhausting to be around.

Is it self-centeredness that drives my predilection to say the wrong thing?  That’s been mentioned before.  Thoughtlessness and stupidity?  Well, that’s two, isn’t it?  Awkwardness?  Mmm-hmm.  One too many glasses of wine?  Just what are you implying?

The need for the spoken word-monitoring practice that I employ in most every interaction didn’t become apparent until I was well into my adult life, so the instances in which I say the wrong thing are largely documented.

At least remembered, wincingly. 



Like the time in junior high when I was making new friends and we were all sitting at lunch and talking about names we liked and all these names were being thrown out and I felt like I wasn’t contributing enough and I thought it would be smart and funny to talk about names I didn’t like.  Except because I have a flair for exaggerating, I commanded the table’s attention and said, rather commandingly, “Do you know what name I HATE?  Like hate so much that I want to punch the face in of anyone who has that name?”

I didn’t think things through back in junior high.  Oh, you did?  How nice for you.

“What name is that?” all my new best friends singsonged.

“Clarice*,” I made up.  Any girl with that name I want to punch in the face,” I repeated triumphantly, expecting fist pumps and understanding nods.  Brilliant, I thought.  In a few weeks I would rule this school.  My reputation as the smart funny girl was on its way, certain to overshadow the unfortunate hairstyle choices that would take me all of junior high and part of high school to grow out.

The table grew quiet.

The girl next to me gave me a look. “Clarice is my sister’s name,” she said.

Oh. 

Whoops.

Again.

*Name changed for privacy purposes.  Also because I don't really remember what it was.  Also I should mention that I think Clarice is a lovely name.


I've written about this subject before.
Check out this other post about when I put my foot in my mouth.  
Not literally.  That would be better.


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This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #4: Write a blog post inspired by the word: whoops.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Shared Life

When Eli at Coach Daddy asked me to do a guest post, I was thrilled.  Eli is awesome and fun and so is his blog.  His 6 Word Posts series is not to be missed, and he answers questions on Fridays, which is funny and informative all at the same time.  Like Bill Nye, but not as science-y.

What should I write?  I asked.  I’m nothing if not always woefully in need of an idea.  Woefully.

How about balance in the home?  Or…?  Or…?  Stop right there.  I’ll do the balance thing, I said brilliantly.

In my mind I say everything brilliantly.

***

“When my husband and I got married, we did most things together.”

Do you remember those days?  Back when life was shiny and new and the tasks to maintain it were equally distributed, and love and promise poured through your actions and words like a forgotten open tap, no matter if you were cleaning bathrooms or cooking dinner or tending the lawn together?

For me, those days are over, friends.  And nobody will accuse me of sugarcoating my suffering.

I may be a little dramatic.

Today, I’m excited about guest posting over at Coach Daddy about sharing a life and how that looks in my marriage today versus all those years ago.

Join me to read about how the distribution of tasks has changed in our married life over the years, and how I feel about that.  I won’t lie; it’s ugly.

I bring it back, though.  Brilliantly.  Sort of.

See you there!

*******

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ten Minutes

Summer is kicking me around the block, friends.  Every moment from now until the kids go back to school has been planned away, and during the school year every moment is logged and accounted for, and I fall into a spiral of despair about time whizzing by as speedily as I did in my car past the police officer that one time I got a ticket and it was all my husband’s fault because I was following him on an unfamiliar road and then after the ticket my husband STILL didn’t slow down enough for me to follow him and I took a wrong turn and got lost and things were ugly at home that night.

Wait.  Where was I?

Because things are moving rapidly around here, I feel like I’m playing a one-woman game of catch-up against the world, and I’m losing miserably.  It’s survival mode on steroids around here, folks.  About the only saving grace is that my kids are old enough to mow the lawn and feed themselves.

They feed themselves cookies and soda, but still.

I haven’t written anything.  I haven’t done anything blog-worthy, either.  And it is soul-crushing, because ennhhhhh… I MUST WRITE.  And I can’t figure out how to get back on the horse.

Which usually means that I’m about to get back on the horse, thanks to the following advice to writers that I hear pretty often:

Write every day.  Write when you have ten minutes, write when you don’t have anything to say, write even if it’s crap.  Writing is my preferred mode of expression, and – by the way, thank goodness ‘writer’ is one of those nebulous, broad designations – I took this advice to heart.



It’s amazing how great advice sounds before you have to do anything about it.

So I sit in my chair, fingers poised on the edge of greatness, the precipice of understanding, the foothills of the great mountains of truth.  I wait for pearls of wisdom to drop onto the page, er, the screen.

I got nothing.  And oh hey, the laundry needs to be folded again.

Typical.



Writing is a muscle that you have to exercise, I hear.   Exercise – that terrible word that conjures up pain and time spent sweating and pushing yourself to exhaustion only to undo a fraction of the damage a body has sustained as a result of poor lifestyle habits.  I hate the thought of it, enter into it only grudgingly.  Since I quit the gym most of my muscles are slowly atrophying into masses of substance that I’d rather not even think about.  I could be in better shape, I guess.  I’ve thrown my back out while doing not-so-strenuous tasks like reaching across a car seat and climbing into bed.  My core strength might not be all that it could be.

Why must something that is so good for us be so difficult?

Is writing good for me?  Spending time alone sitting threatens at a lifetime of sciatic pain and relationship breakdown.  Exposing my thoughts and dreams and desires that might not previously have seen the light of day is scary.  Ignored household tasks and piles of mail and being late to appointments and SOON - school pick-up - and all the things that eat up the hours, days, weeks of my life degenerates into chaos.

But for ten minutes a day?

How hard could it be?

Even if this is all I have to offer?



*******

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Looking Back

A couple of years ago I had the grand idea to do something amazing with old pictures, and informed my mother that I had to commandeer all of our family photos that have ever been taken since the beginning of time.

She reluctantly gave them to me, and they have been sitting in my office in bins since then.

I have done nothing with them, except maybe to look through them once in a while.  To reminisce.  To make a collage for my Grandfather’s funeral.  To post embarrassing pictures on Facebook for #ThrowBackThursday, an ongoing social media project that serves to show people you know now who you were then.



For a lover of history like me (okay, a sentimental fool like me), these photos are important.  I like having them close by.  I like seeing little me smiling within a three-by-three square, wearing satin mouse ears and a pink tutu.  I like seeing pictures of my brothers and I choosing a movie to watch on videodisc.  I like looking at my parents’ wedding photos, snaps of me and my cousins listening to Granddad playing the fiddle, family pics of my Grandparents, Great-Grandmother, my dad, aunt and inexplicably, a cow.

When I was a kid I spent hours looking through those old pictures.  There were hundreds of them, millions it seemed.  I would paw through unfinished albums and piles that were stuffed into the drawers of the highboy in the living room, searching for one I hadn’t seen before.  I never found a new one. When I look at the two bins in my office I realize that there weren’t that many to search through.  Three hundred photos can fit into a small album.  I can get through those old pictures in a couple of hours.

My husband and I have maybe a hundred photo albums.  Before we even got married we had several, filled with pictures of just of the two of us, our families and friends.  At one point I was afraid that they might overtake our home, even in this digital age where piles of real photos are unnecessary.  The albums kept filling up.  He was the photographer in our home, and the task of selecting photos to edit, print, and put into albums was his.  I preferred to live our moments, not watch them happen behind a camera.


Now we have so many photos stored on our camera, in our phones, on tiny digital cards, and in our kids’ iDevices and phones that to try and catch up with them would take several days.  Maybe weeks.  “Organize photos” is a regular entry on my to-do list, my husband giving up his job long ago.

I don’t know if it will ever happen, or if I even know where to start.  Maybe someday I’ll get to it.  Or maybe we will be one of those families where the albums peter out after a few years and newer photos are just thrown into a box or in a few drawers, left for our kids to rummage through on a day when they’re feeling nostalgic.  Or maybe they’ll never be printed out, left on tiny SD cards to be lost, erased from damaged iDevices and phones, or languish forever in The Cloud, whatever that is.

Anyway, I’m keeping the pictures of my past for just a little while longer.  I like having them to look through once in a while, to remember who I was before I became who I am.  Someday, hopefully soon, I will do something with those old pictures.

I’m just not sure what.

*******


What do you do with your old pictures, digital or otherwise?  
Do you have any suggestions for me?  If you say scrapbooking I'll scream.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dear College Students With Crappy Summer Jobs

It’s summer, which means that my doorbell is ringing off the hook by young adults trying to make a buck by working for the man for the summer, selling knives and windows and whatnot.

I’m not one of those homeowners who peers around corners to see if the person at the door is worth my time – because, let’s face it, things like cleaning toilets and raising kids can always be interrupted.  Plus, hiding out in your house just to avoid a person at the door is for losers and children who were specifically instructed not to open the door to strangers while Mommy and Daddy are out getting their Happy Hour on at Chili’s.  Stop hiding, people!  Either that, or stop complaining about how rude people are these days.  Sheesh.

I answer the door.

And inevitably on the other side is a young man or woman earnestly rattling off a lengthy memorized spiel in the hopes that I will sign up, purchase, or accept a free consultation.

And I would like to tell them something.

You seem like a nice young man/woman.  I will patiently listen to you talk about the  amazing company that you’ve worked at for four weeks, because you probably did a great job memorizing the fact sheets they’ve given you.  You’ve done your homework, and for that I applaud you.  College!

Don’t mind me holding my hands like this – I was dismembering a chicken for dinner when you rang.  Salmonella, you know.

But.



Do you see this house here?  It’s sucked all the cash from my pockets and bank accounts.  Things break down, son.  Every day it’s a light bulb here, an appliance there.  I just spent $75 on replacement parts for my microwave.  And before that it was $60 to fix the vacuum cleaner.   In addition, my husband spends hundreds of dollars a year on the lawn.  GRASS.  Can you believe that?

Windows are last on my list of things to fix, even though we need new windows.  Most of them are cloudy because the seals have broken and the screens are all ripped because they are dry rotted from the sun.  But I don’t have that kind of money – new windows are expensive.  I know because you just offered me $200 off each window if I set up a consultation with you today.  Two hundred dollars off!  Do you know what that would buy?  Groceries for my family for a week.  Twenty regular-priced margaritas at Chili’s.  I shudder to think of how much each window costs. 

Let’s talk knives.  I like knives.  I like the knives you are selling.  I have some of them.  But I can’t buy any more. I just can’t.  For one thing, I don’t have a place to store them.  For another, I’m not a chef.  I don’t need another chef’s knife.  Ever, because the one I bought from your company has a lifetime guarantee.  Perhaps you could talk to your boss about his questionable business practices.

That vacuum is awesome, but holy moly, Kyle, I don’t have $1200 to shell out on a dirt sucker.  I barely use the vacuum I have, and you want me to buy that thing?  Do you know that I had most of our carpeting ripped out to minimize my time with the vacuum?

No, I wouldn’t like to change my cable provider.  We’ve done that a hundred times already, and I’m still spending too much money on entertainment that I don’t use.  The last time I watched TV was two weeks ago and I had to get up at 6 am just to watch a movie in peace.  It was on one of the regular channels.  I sat through all the commercials, too.

I don’t read magazines.  I used to read Vogue, but it made me feel guilty for two reasons: that I didn’t have all the hours required to read every page and pore over every insanely gorgeous ad, and that I have never and will never live the lifestyle that is featured in its pages.  Magazines have one aim – to make me feel bad about my own choices in life.

Educational Books?  I sold my spleen to buy two of those books for my kids one year.  Do you know how many times they looked through them?  Approximately 1.4 times.  I miss my spleen.

So you see, I can’t possibly buy anything from you right now.  You’ve done a great job with your speech, and I would be a fool to pass up this incredible offer, I realize.  But right now just isn’t a good time.  Don’t mind the new minivan and air-conditioned house you see here.  This stuff costs money, honey.  Money that we flush down the toilet every single day.  Now go on, now.  Knock on some more doors.  Maybe they’ll answer.  Or maybe not.

Now if you’ll excuse me, me and my chicken hands are going to go now.  Have a great day, and good luck with your venture.  But if you know what’s good for you, you won’t come around again.

Because I will answer the door.

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