Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Driving Me Insane

You can spot them from a quarter mile away.  They move at a snails pace, unaware of other cars around them, not noticing that they've slipped into another lane, not caring if the light's turned green, and never, ever under any circumstance using turn signals.

Who are they?

Older drivers?  Nah, Hubby's Granny got around fine until she lost her license at age 97.  She was slow, but she was cautious and knew how to use that d&%* turn signal.

Foreign drivers?  Nah, you should see my next door neighbor from India.  She makes my lead foot look light as a feather.  I respect drivers who know how to leave dust.

These people are the cell phone talkers.  

Not just cell phone users, these are "talkers."  They have one hand permanently attached to their ear while their mouths move at lightening speed.  I passed a woman going 35 mph on Hwy 64 the other day and her mouth practically got her a speeding ticket.

There are two kinds of people who use cell phones in their car, in a store, and in a restaurant.  Those who have informational conversations, and those who just talk.

I wonder who they're talking to?  I wonder if the other person is listening?  Maybe they're doing a crossword, or their taxes, or watching TV.

I used to do that with my mother.  I'd play computer Scrabble or watch TV with closed captioning and half listen.  I had to half listen because sometimes she'd check to make sure I was listening.

Mom, "blah, blah, met her for lunch."
Me, "that's nice, Ma."
Mom, "blah, blah, played tennis."
Me, "that's nice, Ma."
Mom, "blah, blah, she died."
Me, "that's nice, Ma."  
Ooops.  I didn't let that happen again.

My mother was a talker.  I could never get a word in edgewise.  I don't think she had a two-way conversation in her life.  Just, blah, blah, blah.  If she wasn't on the phone (just landlines back then), she was out in the driveway, or a parking lot, or wherever she could nab someone...and make me wait while she told the same sh&% over and over again.

I think I stopped talking about the age of 7.  I was the youngest, and there was no use trying to compete with very limited air space.  I found books and I found my escape.

Maybe I equate all cell phone "talkers" with my mom and so I'm projecting my disdain of my mother's quirk onto them.  Who knows?  Who cares?  They slow down traffic and make me do the thinking for them by playing defense.  They pollute my lovely and quiet shopping excursions sans kids with endless "blah, blah, blah" in the aisles.  And, to top it off, they invade my dining experience.  If I'm gonna shell out for a place that offers me a menu without pictures and has a wine list longer than four whites, five reds, and a blush, then the menu better say, "Cell phone use prohibited in the dining room.  Thank you."  No, thank YOU!

I'd love to put that sticker on my car that says, "Hang up and drive."  But, I think you can't ever use a cell phone in your car with that on the back.  It would SEEM hypocritical.  It's not at all, of course, because they really are different animals, these cell phone talkers and cell phone users.  So, to prevent "seeming" hypocritical (because image is everything--ha), then I will forgo the sticker and stick to the muttering.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Hubby did it again!  PPI: Perfect Parenting Implementation.

Roll back to the other day.  Another trip to Target Eye Center to bend back son’s glasses into a shape that would actually fit his head.  He’s learning, SLOWLY, to take care of the specs.  But, when the call goes out to don a Power Ranger’s helmet or Spiderman mask, more often than not the blue frames find their way to the floor, and one ninja battle later they morph into a wire pretzel.

That night, son was acting up at the table and was sent to his room, where he threw the mother of all temper tantrums.  Tucking him in that night (after cool down, tears and hugs), he reached under his pillow and handed me his glasses, in three pieces.  It didn’t take special powers to know they were beyond repair.  He said he was sorry and admitted to destroying them on purpose.

My initial reaction was to pitch a fit.  For cryin’ out loud do you know how much that's gonna cost?!  I was exhausted mentally and physically.  His tantrum coupled with his sister’s crying over something else earlier had beaten me down.  It was the end of a long day, and I just wanted the kids in bed so I could have a few minutes of peace and a glass of wine.  However, I kept the volcano inside, and went to find Hubby.  I confronted him first with, “He told me the truth...”  Then, I displayed the fragments of son’s glasses.

Hubby was upset but calm as he laid out a course of action for us to take.  Son was to determine the days he would NOT be playing video games and playing with friends.  Then, he would get an extra day given back for telling the truth.  Hubby went to son, explained the deal and that was that.

It was like seeing an Ezzo book spring to life!  You ALWAYS know what to do when you’re calm and reading the blueprints, but when the situation hits you squarely in the face with adrenaline pulsing, can you do it?  You know the best course for you and your kid, but you’re tired, angry and they make such easy targets.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t “haul off” on my kids, but sometimes it’s easier to explode than to breathe and think it through before reacting.

Hubby was PPI!  He perfectly implemented the parenting technique in textbook style.  It was beauty to behold.

And next time?  Well, for me, leaving the room helped.  Seems to me that distance in the face of imminent eruption works well.  I’ll try to remember that the next time something happens, because something WILL happen again, and again, and again…sigh. 

UPDATE: His new glasses came in.  We'll pick them up tomorrow.  Son promised to take care of them, then added, "I will hit the pillow instead."  Good idea.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


So, Hubby and I went to see Ben Stein’s new doc, “Expelled.” 

One word: BRILLIANT!

This is a must-see movie.  It will make you think, it will make you laugh, and it will scare the tater tots out of you.

The film basically shows how Darwinism has overtaken the world’s scientific community to an almost fanatic level.  Scientists who question the validity of evolution are “expelled” from the society.  Those foolish enough to mention Intelligent Design (ID), let alone Creationism, are fired, blacklisted, denied tenure, sent threatening emails, you name it, he or she endures it.

Ben Stein is typical Ben Stein, traipsing around Paris or Seattle with his trademark suit, tie, and tennis shoes.  He is witty, direct and refreshingly humble.  He probes the world’s greatest minds with respect and unwavering purpose to seek out their viewpoints.  They are surprisingly and sometimes frighteningly candid (depending upon which side of the debate you raise your flag).

Throughout the film there is Ben Stein’s dry humor and drier voice, making you believe for tiny bits of time that you’re just watching another show on Comedy Central.  A quick laugh, then wham!, he hits you with reality: how this debate ultimately affects our society and the attitudes of the next generation.

If you think you’ve got it covered, if you think you’re cool with your own position on the matter and you don’t need this movie, THINK AGAIN.  Ben Stein manages to expose some unbelievable truths that will rock the ground you feel firm standing upon.

Go see this movie.  Get rocked.  


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Supreme Decision

I was panting away on the elliptical machine with Dire Straits waxing philosophical about Romeo & Juliet in my head when my attention was captured by the Fox News subtitles.  Seems two talking heads were debating the constitutionality of banning anorexic and bulimic websites, should we consider to take France's lead in the matter.  

The websites teach young people how to starve themselves and glorify skeletal thinness.  (Sick!)  One point was made that assisted suicide is illegal here in the States, and these websites are akin to providing recipes for death.  They started showing pictures, so I "lost interest" and my mind wandered back to moving refrigerators and getting my chicks for free (I'm too cheap to pay, btw).  

A while later, my eyes floated back up to the tv and they were announcing the Supreme Court decision that verified lethal injection is not cruel and unusual punishment.  Well, I had to pause the 80's music right then and there.  The disconnect in my head was creating a vortex.

So, people who want to die, can't get help doing it because assisted suicide is illegal.  But, people who don't want to die (heinous crimes aside), are legally assisted in their journey to death.  


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Every 7 Years

It happened again today, the white tunnel light that eclipses my vision.  Fortunately it was only in my left eye this time.  

Last time I had this migraine episode  (as it was diagnosed in the emergency room) was 7 years ago in Los Altos.  I was having a perfectly lovely lunch with Sis, Hubby and our new baby when I believed I was having a stroke.  I thought, "Oh, great, my life is super, I've got everything I want, and now it's all going away in a flash."  Of course, when you're looking at the world through a strobe light you think you're on your death bed.

Hubby drove me to the emergency room, and while they hooked me up to various monitors, he sat in the waiting room with our newborn.  I was breastfeeding, so he didn't even have formula for her.  This is the great part about being in a hospital: they let him take her up to the maternity ward where they filled our diaper bag with readymade formula, bottles, and diapers.  Talk about a haul!  When I saw my fam again, and was grateful to have nothing more than an inconvenient headache, I was totally psyched by the nursery booty!  Every mom knows how expensive and totally easy that ready-to-drink formula is.

Anyway, it was unnerving to again today have that white light return.  At first I thought I'd stared outside too long and captured a ghost of the reflecting sun on a car window or something.  But, the tunnel shape persisted, so I knew what it was.  The light is gone now, but I'm shaky, panicky and glad to be stuck at home.  (We're down to one car because my car broke down on the way to school this a.m.  God answered my fervent prayer to make it to Apex Autoworks before it quit completely, so that was a huge blessing.)

I hope it takes another 7 years before this happens again.  My blessings to the people in my life--mom, sis, mom-in-law--who suffer from real and consistent migraines.  What a cross to bear!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Acting My Wage!

Well, what can be said but it's the end of an era.  A pretentious, ostentatious Texas-style overindulgence of the 1980's era, but an era none-the-less.  The stainless steel leisure-class status symbols which previously donned this wrist are kaput. 

My Rolex and Baume & Marcier have bitten the proverbial dust, and while the Rolex can be fixed for $1500 (yeah, riiiight, I'll just write a check--not!), the B&M (wow, didn't see THAT abbreviation coming!!!) is discontinued and the parts are no longer available.  

So, I must learn to settle for looking like I like I make enough $$ to wear a watch from WalMart.  Hmmmmm...interesting new path for me.  Actually acting my wage!  (Which was $2.50 last month, ha!)

So, it's either enjoy the $15.00 watch I got at WalMart (which is truly super for workouts, btw), or NOT enjoy the $15.00 watch I got at WalMart.  We have all sorts of options in life.  We can enjoy what we have, or we cannot enjoy it. 

Luckily I've spent the last two years working intensely on ridding myself of my materialism.  God has been very helpful and I've put a lot of time, energy and prayer into it.  And I've made huge progress.  Maybe this is like the final test for me.  No Rolex, no First Class airfare, no private islands in the Caribbean, no BMW, no first row seats, no country club, no whirlwind trips to Europe, and no Nile cruise.  Just WalMart and Days Inn.

And I ask myself, can I be happy living the Middle Class Dream?  Can I be happy spending wisely and counting my change?  Can I be happy being ordinary, and taking the kids to Pizza Inn buffet ("the best ever!" says daughter)?  Can I be happy carpooling and making the kids choose one sport or extracurricular activity?  Can I be happy as a member of the hoi polloi with my ego extracted from the car I drive or the watch on my wrist?  Can I be happy being where I am now?

And if the answer isn't yes, then I'll end up like those old women in Iowa, where I grew up.  They were poor, and bitter even late in their lives that they didn't "have means."  Everything was about coveting the wealth of others--and yet these ladies were Christians!  They started their sentences strangely, even when talking about tea: "well, if Ebeneezer had been as successful as your dad, then I wouldn't have to get two or three cups from this bag," or, "your mom always had such lovely china and silver, I'm afraid these cups will just have to do."  Bitter, coveting and complaining.  Not a great way to spend your last days.

The sign on my microwave says, "Contentment is not found in having everything, but being content with everything you have."

It's a goal.  I'm not there yet.  But, I'm closer than I've been my whole life.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Good Read

So, I was reading Hubby's Car & Driver magazine...for the articles, I swear!  

I know, I know, you're thinking Car & Driver?!?  Yes, Car & Driver.  Not because I'm a car aficionado like Hubby, who can spit out platform, torque and horsepower info like some guys parrot baseball stats, but because the writing is truly top notch.  I'm not joking.

Some tasty bites that keep me coming back for more (and these are merely good ones I could quickly find to add here, not the gems that send me running from the bathroom, jumping up and down, and waving the magazine excitedly between Hubby and his morning cup):
  1. After you see a piano fall off the balcony, you never again sit easy in the first row.
  2. ...all tucked in and combed out like a Kindergartner on the first day of school.
  3. Rolls-Royce...continues its glamourous and flamboyant traditions--big and bazoomy, yet somehow stately, even while knocking over a cocktail table or two during a flashy entrance.
  4. The lights went dim in GM's rear-wheel drive department about the time Saddam Hussein took over Iraq.  It's been hell in a hatbox ever since.
  5. ...was a long black purring, floating, unhurried, unstoppable six-volt time traveler from the Tommy Dorsey era.
  6. Glaciers that were ducking and running from Southern California about two million years ago left behind a deep thumbprint in the jagged desert backcountry...
  7. My how you've grown, Accord!  You were just a cute little three-door when you were born.  Now you're 32 and crowding the ends of the garage.
  8. The elasticity of "all new" gets a test here, as Ford stretches the words to surround this large font-drive sedan, known previously as the Five Hundred.
The writers are writers first, then car guys.  They play with words and stories like puppeteers guiding the show, titillating the audience with disconnects, onomatopoeia, alliteration and down-right clever verbiage.

Pick up your own copy and enjoy what these guys can do unleashed with a laptop and the English language.  You'll especially adore the editor's responses to letters.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My Fave Trip Pic

Hubby snapped this on the street in Gatlinburg.  I didn't know about it until I was browsing through our pics to put some on the kids' blog.  It captures what I love about mothering...walking hand-in-hand with my children through this life.  

The walk is a lot like our role in parenting.  We teach them and try to guide them on the right course, to stay with us and follow our lead.  Sometimes we bring them closer, away from cars in the street or away from other pedestrians.  Sometimes we give them slack and let our fingers barely touch as they move their bodies in frenetic kid ways: hopping, skipping, dancing, even dragging their feet.

But our hands are always there, always ready to grab or release their little paws.  I sense them come up to me and my hand instinctively reaches down.  Often they tuck tiny fingers into my palm, and sometimes they fall into my legs, but a few times they don't need me to touch them, they need to simply know that I'm there.

My view of God is always seen through the eyes of being a parent.  Oftentimes I make assumptions about God, rightly or wrongly, based on how I love (verb and noun) my children.  

Like my hand reaching down to my kids, God's hand--as perfectly portrayed on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel--is always outstretched to us.  We can grab it, or we can fall into His legs, or we can just pass by closely to know He's there... 

Monday, April 7, 2008

Those Who Question God's Lead

Gwenn and Nick are following God's lead and are embarking on a most extraordinary and wild journey. They are making serious plans to move with their three kids to impoverished Haiti (birthplace of one of their brood), acquire land to build a home-style orphanage where they will be houseparents, and have designs to construct other service buildings and a soccer field on the property.

It's difficult to imagine moving away from North Carolina where the gettin's 'bout as good as it gets. Affordable housing, the world at your fingertips, great schools, no pollution, police protection, clean drinking water,
hot baths!

Needless to say, Gwenn and Nick have been questioned about the sanity and safety of their plan.

Every time you follow God's plan for your life there will be people who question it. Not out of ill will for you, I believe, but to test you, to try your commitment to God's will, even when His direction seems ludicrous to the outside world. Maybe even God puts those people in your life, so you
and He will know for sure you are up to the task He's placed before you.

We faced similar circumstances when we moved to NC from California. We left the idyllic San Francisco Bay Area with its rich culture, big city advantages, gorgeous ocean vistas, ancient redwood forests, et al. From that viewpoint many die hard Bay Areans were shocked for us to move to "moonshine country." (Which is not true at all, the ocean and mountains are just as beautiful on this coast, and the Triangle is wonderfully culturally and ethnically diverse.)

The others in our lives, those who understand that it is possible to live outside of California and still enjoy life, also questioned our sanity. I was 6 months pregnant with my son, my daughter was 16 months old, neither of us had a job, we hadn't yet sold our $3,000/month albatross of a house ("What a dump!"--said like Bette Davis), we had no home in NC, all of our savings was in retirement accounts, and we knew not one soul in NC.

With all that, there was absolutely no reason for us to move. And, people questioned it. Rightfully so. And yet, we knew it was the thing to do. We knew God wanted this path, this life for us. There is a reason we left friends and family in California and moved to NC.

And, five years later we are still waiting for an answer.

Things haven't gone the way we envisioned, and we don't have a clear picture of what we're doing here. But for now, God wants us here. So, we will stay and pray for further direction.

I understand a tiny bit of what Gwenn and Nick are going through in their move to Haiti. They are making a much more drastic and severe change than we have, yet I know the feeling. People will throw all sorts of stuff at you, questions, concerns, other ideas, and most are coming from a truly genuine intent to help you. In a way they do, because every time you question your choice and you come back to the same conclusion, that conclusion is verified: you know you're following God's will.

So, when God tells you to do something, you need to do it regardless of what people say. Reference Moses, Job, Jonah--yikes, too many to name-- but you get the picture. Your answer to those who question your plans shows that you're on the right path, or the wrong one.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Life at 98

We just returned last night from a visit to southern Illinois to visit Hubby's 98-year-old grandmother.

She's taken a decline recently and needs an in-home caregiver 7 days a week. What she lacks mentally she makes up for physically. She's as healthy as ever, even with broken ribs from osteoporosis, and she's quite feisty and independent--as she's always been. Granny only lost her driver's license last year, and still lives in the same house she bought as a new bride.

Hubby asked, "Can you imagine buying a 30-year-old house and then living in it for 75 years?" Hard to contemplate these days as we pass by brand new mini-mansions popping up like weeds from freshly leveled earth. Homes have almost become disposable commodities.
Don't bother remodeling, just upgrade!

Granny (and God) gave Hubby the gift of one really good day during our visit. She was alert and knew Hubby as her grandson, and she could sort of piece together who the others were: that blonde sitting on the couch and the two rambunctious rascals dancing in her living room.

"They are so full of life," said Granny, watching our kids jump, dance, kick box and generally create mayhem out of stillness.

It was a generational juxtaposition, our children bobbing about on the seventies shag carpet in front of her, and Granny stoically melded to her recliner enjoying their show.