Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Dungeon

The dungeons of Blarney Castle

Image via Wikipedia

Dungeon – a dark, often underground chamber or cell used to confine prisoners.

In every home there is one room or place we don’t like.  Sometimes it is an attic.  Or maybe a vacant bedroom.  But in my house it is the garage or as I refer to it…the dungeon.

As you know, I live in a little house.  Attached to the little house is a one-car garage.  My garage serves as a multi-purpose room.  It is dark, small, and crowded.  There is nothing I like about my garage.

I go the ‘dungeon’ everyday.  My workout equipment is in there.  My washing machine is in there.  I have clothes, food, cleaning supplies, all in the dungeon.  Every time I enter it makes me cringe.

The dungeon is dark even with two lights.  It smells.  It’s walls are covered with dark paneling or unfinished walls.  The floor is dark and stained.  The ceiling is covered with bare wood beams.  Spider webs are everywhere.  You get the picture, right?

One of the worst things about the dungeon is that I workout in it.  I have all sorts of workout equipment.  I started to collect equipment years ago, when I realized going to the gym was time-consuming and expensive.  Each year I add a new piece of equipment.  I have a pretty well stocked gym.  The problem is, it is hard to find all the workout equipment with all the junk everywhere.

I usually wake early in the morning and head for the dungeon.  Motivating myself to workout is bad enough, but knowing I must workout in a dark garage is brutal.

My husband recently mentioned his work was opening a new gym at work.  Only five dollars a month.  What a deal, right?  When he mentioned he wanted to join I said yes.  But really I was thinking, “NO WAY!  Life is unfair.  He gets to workout in a state of the art facility with showers, treadmills, and tons of light.”

He joined the wonderful work gym and is very happy.

“I am going to work out today at the gym.  I can’t believe it is only five dollars.  Isn’t that great?  You should see the place.  They even have yoga classes.  You would love it.” – Husband

He is right.  I would love it.  But I do not belong to a gym.  My gym is  located a few steps from where I cook dinner.  It is where we do school projects, fold laundry, and park bikes.

I know, I know…I should be grateful to have a garage and to have a place to work out.  Really?  Do you really think that after seeing my photos?  Somehow I don’t believe you.  Maybe I would though, if you would treat me to a new gym membership.

Falling Short of Expectations

Helen Keller

Image via Wikipedia

“Be of good cheer. Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find joy in overcoming obstacles. Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.”

Helen Keller

You may have noticed, I have not been keeping up with daily blog entries.  Too much life gets in the way.  I don’t like to work on the blog with the family around, so early mornings work best.  This is becoming a problem.

Lately, I get sidetracked  and suddenly the kids are awake and I must attend to their needs.  Later in the day, more things are happening.  The time alone for writing is very limited.  I need at least an hour or so of very quiet uninterrupted time to write.  This does not happen often.

I subscribe to other blogs and wonder how they manage.  Some bloggers have very young children or more kids than I.    One mom blogger I like, does crafts, cooks and writes a daily blog.  How the #$&@ is that possible?  By the way, she has three kids under the age of 5.

I have come to realize, I do not multi-task very well.  I wish I did because I would get a lot more done in the day.  I can do many things effectively, but if I am asked to do them all at once, trouble.

So what should I do?  Should I cut the daily blogs to a few times a week?  If I do cut down, what days to I keep?  Maybe I should only write when I am in the mood.  No, that is a bad idea.  I do better if I feel an a committment.  I want to be successful at blogging.  I will only get better by writing.

How about this?  I will do my best to do the daily blogs, but forgive myself if some of them do not get done.   My blog is supposed to be for fun right?  Not another pressure filled obligation.

I will also not dwell on the daily statistics of my blog.  Some postings reflect amazing readership and others are an all time low.  I will focus on writing to all of you and improving my ability to communicate.  So there you go, a plan.

Any feedback you have would be great.  What blogs do you like best?  Which ones could be tossed?  If you have time, I would love to hear from you.  If not, I will figure it out somehow.

Take care my friends.  Talk with you soon.

By the way, thank you for being here.

Lazy Cook – Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli

Tired of eating broccoli steamed with a little butter?  Well, how about adding some potatoes and sour cream to liven it up?  Today’s recipe is from the magazine, Real Simple I am one of those people who loves broccoli, so this recipe is a winner for me.  Wondering if my boys liked it?  My oldest son had this to say, “Why did you have to ruin the mashed potatoes by adding broccoli?”  Sorry son, but this recipe is good.

Mashed Potatoes and Broccoli

Ingredients

1 pound potatoes (peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces)

1/2 bunch finely chopped broccoli (3 cups)

1/4 cup sour cream

4 tablespoons softened butter

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1.  Steam broccoli and potatoes until very tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

2.  Drain well and mash with 1/4 cup sour cream and 4 tablespoons butter.

3.  Salt and pepper to taste.

School starts tomorrow for the big boys.  We had a great summer.  Looking forward to fall, my favorite season of the year.  Thinking about new  things for the blog.  I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, take good care of each other.  Stay well.

Talk to you soon.

Shame On Me

Shame – A painful emotion caused by a strong sence of guilt, embarrassment,

A while ago, I was asked by a parent to help on a school project.  I was reluctant, because it was not my area of expertise.  I told her I didn’t think it was a good idea.  The parent assured me that it would be ‘easy’ task and she really needed my help.  She provided the instructions and sent me on my way.

As I started the task, I realized I was in trouble.  I could not do it.  Looking back, I should have stopped and returned the project back to the parent.  But I didn’t.  I wanted to prove to her and to me, I was capable of doing something difficult.  My pride kept me moving forward, knowing darn well I was creating a piece of junk.

Half way through the project I became ill.  Instead of taking the time to rest and get better, I kept working.  I did not ask for help.  I did not call the parent to tell her of my illness.  I just kept working and working, until at last it was complete.

I will admit I felt pretty darn smug, because I had completed the difficult project and did it while I was sick.  Yes, I was confident I would be nominated for “Super Parent of the Year”.  The entire thing looked terrible, but who cared?  I did what was asked and now my part was over.

When I brought the parent the project she was grateful.  I felt good and went about my way.  A few days later I got an email from her saying she wanted to meet with me.  When I met with her, she informed me she had re-done the entire project.  She claimed there were too many errors and it needed to done correctly.  She showed me the re-done project looking flawless.  My heart sank.

My emotions overtook any sense of reason.  I was insulted to see my work had been re-done.  Sure my project was horrible, but still.  I could not believe she did not even call to tell me what she planned to do.  I worked hard on the stupid thing and now it meant nothing.

With anger in my voice I launched into a loud rant.  I told her in many words, that I did my very best on the project.  I informed her I didn’t want to do the project in the first place and she should have never asked me.   With my voice shaking, I explained to her I have three children, no housekeeper, no gardener and no relatives who live near by help out.  I  yelled, “I did the project without any help from anyone!”

The parent listened to my rant and told me it was unfortunate, but the project I had done was not good enough.  She was calm, talking to me in her best mother voice.  The calmer she spoke the more crazy I sounded.  Suddenly, I realized I had blown it.  My reputation as the ‘funny, helpful, kind school parent’ gone.

Realizing what I had done, I ended the conversation.  I ran out of school as quickly as possible, not saying goodbye to anyone.  Shame filled my head.  I thought of all the things I should have done differently.

I should have said no at the beginning.  I knew I could not do what was asked of me.  I should have informed the parent things were not working.  I should have told her I was ill. But most of all, I should have controlled my tongue and spoke with her privately to express my disappointment.

You may think I was too hard on myself, but you did not hear me yelling.  I give myself some slack because I was ill, but overall it was a low point in my school parent career.

Thank goodness I read a wonderful book, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, and learned shame “can’t survive being shared.”  I needed support.    The last thing I needed was a pity party, lecture or someone telling me it was not a big deal.  It was a BIG deal.  I had always prided myself on being the calm parent and now the entire school would know it was a sham!

I ended up calling another school parent.  She was kind and non-judgemental.  She did not try to fix me or the situation.  She listened to me and shared her similar humiliating experience.

After talking with my friend, I was able to take a deep breath.  I realized I would be okay.  It was not the end of the world and I may have over reacted, but everyone does sometimes.  My feelings of shame lessened.

I realized that when I am filled with great embarrassment, I need support.  It would have been easy for my friend to have said, ” Why are you making such a big deal out of this?”, but she didn’t.  She just listened.

A while later, I summoned up the courage to apologize to the parent.  It was hard, but I felt better.  She did not exactly apologize to me, but it didn’t matter.  I had moved on.  I was able to accept her imperfections, just as someone was able to accept mine.  And that is what being human is all about.

Wednesday Words of Wisdom – The Beauty of Different

Sometimes books call to you.  I mean it.  It happened to me just the other day.  While shopping at Barnes and Nobel, I heard a book calling my name.  I bought it.  The book was, The Beauty of Different, by Karen Walrond.

I love this book.  It is one of those books that makes you smile when you talk about it.  The message of the book is powerful.  Beauty is in being different.

It is a wonderful book about accepting what is.  The book uses essays, observations and stunning photographs to convey of the beauty of being unique. The author takes the reader on a journey by interviewing several people, who share what makes them different.

It is hard to say what I enjoyed more the photographs or the written essays.  Both are excellent.  But what makes the book unique is the photographs.  The author is a fantastic photograher.  Her photographic images are compelling.  As you read  an interview about a person,  you see visually what they look like.  It helps develop a better connection to the story or message the person is sharing.

Beauty of Being Different is a coffee table book.  It is something to put where it can be glanced at often.  I think it also is a book of inspiration.  Reading the stories of real situations and people is hopeful.  Each person who is interviewed has something unique about them.  The book helps to show the beauty of each person, internally not just physically.

This is an excellent book for teenagers.  Teens and young adults spend much of their energy wanting to be like everyone else.  Beauty of Different embraces what sets them apart from others.  It celebrates what makes them unique.

Hope this is something you will enjoy.  Talk with you soon friends.

Eleven Things Unique About Me

Photo of Bette Midler backstage at the Grammy ...

Image via Wikipedia

“Cherish forever what makes you unique, ‘cuz you’re really a yawn if it goes.” – Bette Midler

I have always felt  different from other people.

For many years, I spent a lot of energy trying to be like everyone else.  I wanted to blend in, not stand out.  It didn’t work.  I was unhappy. Now I accept me as I am.

I am unique.  Everyone is.  Being different is a good thing, maybe the best of things.

Eleven Things Unique About Me

1.  I hate cauliflower.  

It is the one food I will not eat if served.  It does not matter if it raw or cooked, I don’t like it.  It smells funny.  The texture is terrible.  Please do not serve it if I come over for dinner.

2.  My first kiss was at a mall.

Every weekend in 9th  grade, my best friend and I used to head to the mall.  My mom would drop us off in the morning and we would walk around all day.  My friend and I would follow boys.  One time two boys stopped us to talk. While talking, one of the boys planted a big kiss on me.  It was sloppy and he tasted like mint gum.  I never saw the boy again.

3.  I do not use an alarm clock to wake up.

I have not used one for years.  The reason is my husband always wakes me up.  I can’t hear the alarm, so my husband kisses me to wake up.  I feel like sleeping beauty every morning.

4.  I wish I was shorter.

I am tall.  I am taller than my husband.  He often asks if I wish he was taller, but really what I would like is for me to be shorter.  Pants are always too short.  It would be nice to be able to buy pants of the rack, not special order them.

5.  I don’t like going barefoot.

I love shoes.  I love socks.  I love shoes and socks.  I do not like getting my feet dirty.  Clean feet make me happy.

6.  I once met Sugar Ray Lenard’s bodyguard.

In high school, I went bowling with my friends.  Sugar Ray’s bodyguard was bowling in the lane next to us.  Sugar Ray and his family were in the next lane over.  It is the closest ‘brush of fame’ I have ever had.

7.  I would never go to outer space.

Outer space freaks me out.  My husband and boys would jump at the chance for space travel, not me.  I have no interest in exploring any other planet than Earth.  I love Earth.  She is where I plan to stay all my live, long days.

8.  I am addicted to the fan.

Every night before I go to sleep, I turn on an electrical fan.  I love the cool air blowing. If I do not have a fan at night, I can’t sleep.  My husband and boys are addicted too.

9.  I lied to a police officer.

When I first moved to San Diego, I got stopped for expired out-of-state tags.  I told the officer I had just moved and did not realize they were expired.  I had lived in San Diego for almost a year.

10.  I tie my shoes by making bunny ears.

I do not use the traditional way to tie shoes.  My dad taught me to make two bunny ears (loops), put one bunny ear in the hole and pull it tight.  I will never do it another way.

11.  I met my husband in a bar.

My mother used to tell me all the time, “You will never meet a nice guy in a bar.”  She was wrong.  My husband and I met in a beach bar and were engaged six months later.  He is the nicest guy I have ever met.

How to Be Home More With Your Kids

People often ask me how I am able to stay home full-time and care for my boys.  I think they wonder not only how I do it economically, but socially and emotionally.  It is not easy.  As a matter of fact, when I compare my old life of working outside the home and working at home, leaving the house each day would be a lot easier.

Staying home all these years has been my choice.  Some days are harder than others, but I happy with my decision.  I like caring for my boys.  I am proud of what I do and feel fortunate that I was able to create a situation in which I could stay home.

Being home more for your kids can happen.  It may take some extra planning, but if you want to do it, you can.  It won’t  happen overnight.

How to be home more with your kids.

Make the decision

The hardest part of doing something different is to make the decision.  There are a lot of things to give up.  But when you make the choice to be home more, you become more determined to make it happen.

Talk to people

If you are married or in a relationship, you need to tell the other person your decision.  Okay, I know you are thinking, ” I can’t just go to my spouse and say I am quitting my job to care for the kids.”  Telling people what you want is a beginning step.  The more you tell people, the more likely it will happen.  Instead of saying, “I think I would like to stay home with the kids”, try “I want  to be available more for the family.  Do you have any suggestions to how we could make that happen?”

Prepare financially

Before I had my first son, my husband and I practiced living on one income.  I say practiced because we were not very successful for the first few months.  When I was pregnant, we practiced for the full nine months.  I wanted to stay home to care full-time for my child,  so we had to learn how to survive on one income.

This step is usually where most people get stuck.  Any income we have, is the income we spend.  More income means more opportunities and freedom.  It is very hard to give things up.

People are barely making ends meet, the idea cutting things out of the family income seems unrealistic.  But the idea is to practice using less and living on less.  If you can do that, you will have a greater chance to work less, maybe even work part-time so you can be home with the kids more.

Preparing for a change financially is not a one size fit all solution.  Each family must decide how to manage their family with less money.  Look at the situation as something that will happen, as opposed to might happen.

Value being more available for your family

Most of us are already  very committed to our children.  We work hard to meet the kids needs and be involved as much as possible.  But to be home more with the kids, you must value being with them.  This means you look at being home more, as an important contribution to the family.

After all my years at home, I still struggle with my worth.  I know what I do is important, but there is not way to measure its’ value.  A paycheck is often a measure of worth and if you do not bring one in, well…you inderstand.

You may need to educate your children, spouse, and extended family the value of being available more.   Children do not always realize the sacrifices a parent makes to be home for them.  You must keep in mind you are doing what you think is best, even if others do not seem to appreciate or understand.

Get support

Surround yourself with people, who support your decision to be home more.  When you have a bad day, you will need someone  you can call to give you a boost.  If you are not very good at asking for help, get better at it.  The more time you spend with the kids, they crazier you will feel.   Having people around to give you a break or to talk to can make all the difference.

Being home with the boys has been very rewarding for me.  While it may not be what every person desires, I certainly hope parents who do want to be home more, will try.  I have never regretted my decision to be home with the kids.

My boys will live at home only for  a short while.  Caring for my boys will be less than a third of my life.  That means most of my life will be spent not taking care of them.  Just something to think about…