Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tomorrow, A Plan. Today, A Cookie.

All right, I have to many of you are already done with your Christmas shopping?
One more question:  How many of you have your Christmas decorations up?

I lied.  One more.
Do you have your tree already?
I will admit, I thought about shopping on Black Friday.
And by shopping, I mean sitting at my computer, checking out the 5 gazillion e-mails advertising sales from every store known to man.

I haven't watched the news, or talked to anyone who went shopping, but I am guessing that the "thrill of the chase" that used to be "Black Friday" is gone.  Am I right?  Now that is keeps creeping backwards...earlier and earlier...moving into Thanksgiving evening...and I'm sure it will soon be the whole day, it seems to me that it has taken the fun out of having Black Friday all together.
What's the point when it just becomes another day?  Another sale?  
Making a buck has become WAY too important.  It seems to me that it's all that matters anymore.  Big business could care less about their employees.  It's all about the bottom line.  Too much money just makes people crazy.  That is why I have never had any desire to strive to be rich.  No thank you. I will be blissfully borderline broke. 
(Okay..I could handle slightly well off.)

Anyway....back to my "almost day of shopping."
 I sent Mark out to buy tires for his car.  
(Which may be counter-productive, considering the rate at which our daughter is smashing that vehicle up.  Pretty soon it will be a crumpled, mangled hunk of metal, sitting atop 4 lovely new tires.)
Anyway, once that was done, I realized that we should probably wait until the next paycheck (or power ball win) to do any shopping.
And of course...any shopping that happens will take place from the comfort of my own home. :)

I guess I should mention that I have done a little bit of shopping (online, of course) over the past few weeks....but all of it has been for me, so I'm not sure that really counts. 

Rather than attempt to be productive in any way this weekend, I opted to run a series of tests. (I did play for a I had an hour of productivity.  That is plenty.)

The "scientific" part of my brain doesn't typically get much of a work out, so I think it's good to exercise it every once in a while.

Here are some of my findings:

1. Men are incapable of doing two things at once. (This is not new news...but I felt the need to see if anything had changed.  It has not.)
This includes doing virtually anything and listening at the same time.
I am tempted to say that perhaps it may be true that, in general, unless you clap your hands, or snap, or flash your boobs, men are incapable of listening.  You must make sure you have their complete attention before speaking if you expect them to take in anything you are saying.
Comprehension of what is being said is not guaranteed.
2. Watching one movie will cause your butt to begin to fall asleep.  Watching two will result in a definite numb butt.  Watching three will result in a full blown butt coma, combined with hip pain and lower back agony.
I suggest some movement, and perhaps a few rounds on one of those handy dandy back rollers.  As for the butt issues, I suppose that may be another way to get your man's attention....ask for a butt rub?
3.  If you eat dried cherries and cheetos, after a late lunch of turkey leftovers, and then fall asleep on the very well may be attacked by vicious heartburn that will not only wake you up, but make you slightly miserable for a good 15 minutes or so, until you can remedy the problem.
You may want to find a better combination of foods. :-0
4.  If you always reward your dogs for going outside to do their "business," they may eventually get smart (it took my bozos 8 years) and try to pull a fast one on you.
My darlings like to go to the back door and bark, so we will let them out.  They then walk in a circle around the deck...pretend they are scoping out the "perfect spot", and then walk back to the door, having done nothing....yet waiting eagerly (with their cute puppy eyes, and wagged tails for a congratulatory "way to pee!" bone)  My husband always falls for this trick, because, of course, his attention span has expired by the time he shuts the door to let them out.  He never has a clue if they actually went or not.  It is imperative that I am around, so someone is watching them to make sure they aren't pulling the "bark and sniff" on us.
(Just an FYI, I do always ask my beloved "did they go?"  And...on the days when he is listening, he replies "Oh crap...I forgot to watch them.")
And this is my life.

Tomorrow I start planning.
I'm not quite sure what I'm planning....but I'm going to start.
It will be a good plan.  One of those "get my shit together" kind of plans.
But today, I still get to be lazy. And I might eat some cookies.
Feel free to join me.
We can be productive in December. :)
Happy Saturday!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday

It has officially arrived.
Black Friday.
I may check out some online sales...but that is as close as this chicka is coming to participating in this day of retail insanity.
We literally live a few blocks from lots of shopping...Shopko, Target, Old Navy, TJ Maxx, Gap, and the mall.
I dread this day, just because if we try to go anywhere, we have to deal with the crazy traffic, just trying to get out of our neighborhood.
I'm guessing that since Black Friday now starts on Tangerine Tuesday....or whenever the hell they have moved it back to...maybe it won't be so bad after all.
Nevertheless....I am only leaving the house if absolutely necessary.

I hope everyone had a lovely Turkey Day.
I thought I would give you a brief run down of our quiet little day at home.
I attempted to get everyone to church on time....but Mark was busy getting himself acquainted with his new girl, Shaniqua. (the turkey)  Just a quick side note.....whenever we refer to Mark's make believe girlfriend(s), her name is Shaniqua.  The way he was rubbing down this little lady this morning...well, I would definitely call their relationship more than "casual."

I didn't need to watch any more of Lexie and I headed out the door.  Mark and Sam made it to church by the time the homily started.  (Good effort boys!)
Once we returned home, the excitement began.
Mark opened a bottle of wine and cranked up his cheesy music (it was the typical lounge lizard vinyl, circa 1970) I paid attention for about 30 seconds and heard "When the Saints Go Marching In" being played by trombones.  I mentally checked out after that.
I knew we were in for a memorable feast when I saw him open up the turkey bag to put flour in it, and the flour went right through (the bag was defective, and completely open on both ends) and nicely floured his shoes and the floor.
The best part of this was his delayed reaction.  He just stood there, holding the bag in one hand, the measuring cup in the other, and looking back and forth between the bag and his shoe....the bag and his shoe...with this expression of complete confusion on his face.
About 10 minutes later....he finally figured out a plan (tie both ends of the bag...pure genius!) and dinner was in the works. (And really did take about 10 minutes for this to all come to fruition.)  I was not about to offer suggestions, because it was much more entertaining to just observe this whole process from afar.
I decided (about two hours into this whole debacle) that perhaps I should offer some assistance, so I took on the job of "mashed potato maker" since I really do make a yummy mashed potato.  (It's all about the delicious, high caloric things you add in.)  I figured if he made them, they would be lumpy and tasteless...and I was having none of that.
While I was mashing, he was preparing the "dressing."  He made sure we all knew that it was "dressing" not "stuffing" it was not spending any time shoved into any of Shaniqua's orifices.  For this, we were all thankful.
He put all of the ingredients together (he had chosen a Martha Stewart recipe) and stirred it up.  Then he looked at me and said " this is all I have to do with this, right?  You don't need to cook this stuff or anything, do you??"
This was when I realized that I should just probably book a couple of rooms at Gundersen Lutheran for the next day or two, while we were all recovering from salmonella poisoning.  (He did add gizzards, and other internal organs that we really should just not even talk food poisoning was imminent.)
We had a brief discussion about how food is typically better when cooked.
It went pretty well, and he followed directions nicely.
Too bad he didn't follow the recipe so nicely.  It had called for just plain white bread croutons...and then you add lots of yummy things, like cherries and pecans..etc.
He decided to get the seasoned (aka: high sodium) stuffing mix bread whatever it's called...rather than just the plain kind.  So...his "dressing" tasted like heavily seasoned, over salted stuffing....and you couldn't even taste the good stuff he had added. 
Markus Stewart needs to not stray from the recipe next time.
Then, he started to make the gravy.
What I observed (before just leaving the kitchen altogether) was some brown goop that had the consistency of cookie dough.
I offered my assistance...but he said "no...I've got this!"  I had to leave, I couldn't watch it happen.
Somehow, a Thanksgiving miracle occurred, and it actually turned into real gravy.
I did fall asleep on the couch during this whole he very well may have run out to the store and just purchased a jar of gravy.  I will never know.
After our Thanksgiving was time for pie.
Well...kind of.
Mark bought a pumpkin pie.
I should mention that he is the only person in our house who eats that stuff.
This is what he brought downstairs when we were going to watch a movie. you think it's a big enough slice?
He had another one during the second movie.  (In other words...1/2 of the pie)
I just sat there and wished I had baked an apple pie.
I ate a hersheys bar instead.
Because I really needed that.
And so, here we are....another Thanksgiving has past...and Christmas is quickly approaching.
I think I need a couple extra weeks in December.
If someone could arrange that, I would really appreciate it.
For those who are braving the cold and the crowds,
happy shopping.
I will be sitting at my computer, being thankful that I'm not crazy like you!
(just kidding! Sort of.)

And for all who work in retail....God bless your sweet little souls!

Oh...and I think this^^ should be changed to
one MONTH out of the year.
Or perhaps one SEASON.
Say whatever you want, I fully support your freedom of speech.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!
What could be better than a day dedicated to giving thanks, and eating until we almost explode?!
I really do love Thanksgiving.
I'm pretty sure it has a lot to do with the traditional "turkey, stuffing and mashed potato" extravaganza that occurs every year.  That definitely falls into my top 5 favorite meals.
The fact that it is accompanied by a huge selection of side dishes makes it that much more enjoyable.  (Especially the green bean casserole!)
And of course, there is always pie.

I am not a pumpkin pie girl.  However, apple pie is something I would happily live on until my dying day. :)
My in-laws were here last weekend (and grandma made apple was amazing) so that means we get to have a quiet Thanksgiving with just our little family.
Up until a few years ago, we used to gather with my dad's entire side of the family.  It always took place at my parent's house, and the food and company were always wonderful.

Once all of the nieces and nephews grew up and had kids, we started having family reunions in July and October instead.  That way we could all still get together, but then the aunts and uncles were free to be with their kids and grandkids on the holidays.
I have to admit, I really enjoy our quiet holidays at home.  After 35+ years of traveling for every holiday, just staying home with my husband and kids is a nice change.
To make things even better, my husband has declared himself "Grand Chef of the Thanksgiving Feast."

Okay might want to fasten your seat belts for this one.
This is what happens (once a year...but it happens!) at our house when Thanksgiving comes around:
Two days before, we (almost always) remember that turkeys come frozen....and that they don't thaw out quickly like a pound of hamburger does.
So, Mark heads out to the store to find the perfect turkey (and usually a 6-pack of beer.)

The day before Thanksgiving, he researches "how to cook a turkey."  (We only do this once a we have to re-learn the process.  Every year.
Then, he solidifies the menu, and makes his ingredient list.
Then comes one of my favorite parts:
 HE GOES TO THE GROCERY STORE ALONE and buys everything he needs for the feast.
Side note: I usually try to stay clear of him after this...because it is always a zoo at the grocery store the day before he comes home crabby.
I encourage him to enjoy a glass of wine. Or 4.  That usually helps.
The day of:
I have to play for we all head out bright and early (and usually still crabby.)
Once we arrive back home...the music (or game on TV) is turned on....cocktail is poured, and the cooking begins.  

(I typically have changed back into my pj's at this point, and am either downstairs watching a movie, or taking a nap.)
The Grand Chef slaves away in the kitchen until the feast is prepared, and then he calls us all to dinner.
He will ask us no less than 8-10 times "Is the turkey done?"  "Can you taste the pecans in the stuffing?"  "Is the gravy thick enough?" etc.
This is his subtle way of fishing for compliments on his cooking...
 which is our cue to gush and fawn over him and his culinary prowess.
He then will throw us the "pssht....this was nothing....just a typical family dinner for me" act, and put away his oven mitts for another year. ;)
Then we all retreat to the family room for a glass of wine, followed by the inevitable turkey coma.

We are all aware of my thoughts on "Gray Thursday" becoming the new shopping I won't even go there.
I really do think it is important to take ONE DAY to just stop and think about all we have to be thankful for.
It's too bad that it sometimes takes a holiday to remind us to do that.  
It should be something that we do everyday.
We should be aware of all of the gifts we have been given in our lives....and appreciate them.  Even on the days when it doesn't feel like we are quite so blessed.
I had posted on Facebook earlier that I was really upset when my son walked into the kitchen and asked what he was supposed to eat for breakfast, since we had "no food."

This is where he was standing when he said that.  Right next to a counter (a very messy counter!) overflowing with food. I wanted to scream. I wanted to grab him by the shoulders and shake him, and yell "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!"  "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT IT REALLY MEANS TO HAVE NO FOOD??!!"
I wanted to cry.
We had spent two weeks in St. Lucia last June, working within a community where everyone lived in one room shacks made of tin and plywood.
Had my kids learned nothing from this experience?  Had it been so far fetched for them to even be able to relate to how these people survived?  
I have always been so proud of my kids....they have always been humble and kind, willing to help others.  I had never witnessed them acting entitled...but hearing those words, "we have no food" absolutely made me snap.
God must have been listening, because about an hour later, a shelf in our pantry collapsed, and everything spilled and crashed to the floor.
God does have a sense of humor.  I wonder if Sam caught the irony.
We had TOO MUCH food...and the shelf could no longer bear the weight.
I will admit, I have had moments of "poor me."  Sometimes it is hard when you are working so hard to get ahead, but no matter how hard you try, life keeps throwing curve balls at you.  We seem to be bad luck magnets at times.  I have to believe all of this crazy stuff keeps happening to us, just to give me more material for the memoir I will someday write. If something ridiculous is going to will most likely happen to our family.  For instance, Mark's parents take us to Italy...our car gets stolen.  They take us to St. Lucia...our kid gets chikunguna.  We make the (crazy, stupid?) decision to buy our dream house (and I decide to quite teaching)....and three months later, Walker gets elected (which was quite detrimental to us financially) You can see where this combination  has not increased the numbers in the checkbook balance. Heck, we have made three insurance claims within the past month for car accidents.  If we ever seem to be gaining ground financially, there is no doubt that something will come along and pull the rug out from under us again.
I'm sure that there are many of you who have experienced the same thing.
It's easy to start feeling sorry for yourself.  And it's hard when you look at your friends and family who have no idea what it is like to be in that boat.
I refuse to go there anymore.  What's the point?  I look at everything we have, and we are SO blessed.  I have nothing to complain about.  I have everything to be thankful for.
And it goes way beyond material possessions.

I have been really making a conscious effort to be fully present in any interaction I have during my day.  I started to notice that it was easy to just engage in meaningless small talk, and then go about the day, and forget about even having that conversation at all.
What was that all about?!
Life isn't about a quick nod to people as you walk by.  It's about communicating, and connecting.  When I allowed myself to be more aware, and to fully engage in whatever interchange I would have...I really started to realize how many amazing people I have in my life.  
Anywhere I go, I run into people I know from some facet of life.  And even better, I am connecting with people that are new friends.  People whom I have built relationships with through Facebook, or this blog.  It's so interesting when you hear people grumble about social media. (My husband is one of them.)  I will often hear the words "That's why I'm not on Facebook."  I understand that it's not for everyone.  However, I think it is a great tool when it comes to initiating conversation, or getting to know more about people.  It allows us to express our feelings and thoughts, and to get feedback.  I have had several people who were merely acquaintances before, become friends through social media.
We are all so busy with our lives, that finding the time to physically get together to do things is difficult.  It is nice to have a tool to bridge that gap, and bring people together.  It's like having a whole other group of people to support you, outside of your family.
It is something I am so thankful for.

So, on this Thanksgiving Day...I would like to say, from the bottom of my heart,
Thank you for reading my blibberings each day.
Thank you for supporting me and encouraging me to write.
I would have never started this crazy blogging thing had it not been for my FB friends urging me to do so.
I thank you for that push, because in this blog, I have found such a love for writing that I didn't realize was there.  It is my therapy each day.
If only it burned calories. ;)
I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving.
I hope you are able to spend the day surrounded by those you love,
and that you will feel God's blessings all around you....filling your heart and soul.

I am thankful for you

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Trying to Connect

I have been sitting here for awhile, staring at the computer....wondering what to write about.
Typically, something will occur during the day that will get me riled up, and it becomes the subject of my post.  That, or I will sit at the computer and start typing...and some sort of topic will emerge from the jumbled thoughts that travel from my brain to my obedient little fingers.
It's interesting, isn't typing skills differ from person to person.
I took typing class in high school, and my teacher assumed that since I played piano, I would be an excellent typer.  Actually....she gave me no choice.
My friend Jess and I were in her class together, and we would both go on to pursue piano as a career.  She told us we would be better typists than the other kids because of our dexterity due to piano playing.  This wasn't an option.  We better damn well be the best typists in the class, because she would accept nothing less.
I am good at typing.
You can certainly pick out the people who did NOT take typing class.  You know...the "two fingered keyboard punchers".  It must be so frustrating attempting to type at length that way.
The youth of today seem to have no need for typing class.
They came out of the womb with their thumbs ready to text...and since they work on computers from the time they can is just second nature for them.  Ah, how times have changed.

I am just happy that my phone has that voice activated texting option. It is SO much faster to dictate my text than to type the damn thing with two fingers.  Two THUMBS of all things.  Not exactly the daintiest, most reliable of fingers.
No wonder EVERY TIME I try to type love it says live. Or of becomes if.  The letters are just too close together for a thumb to be expected to type with any sort of accuracy.
Of course, my dictated messages often take on a life of their own.  
It's always a good idea to read them before hitting send.
Although, I will admit, I have gotten some pretty hilarious messages from people who did NOT proof-read their dictated messages.
So...on second thought, if you are sending a voice text to me...don't proof read.
It's so much more fun trying to piece together your message from the disaster of nonsense words and bad autocorrects your phone comes up with.
Since I have shifted my topic to phones....let's continue there.
Seriously.  Where to begin?
Some people feel that texting has pulled us away from human interaction.  From actually talking to one another.
Here is my take on it.

I LOVE texting.  For a couple of reasons.
1. I HATE talking on a cell phone.  Specifically a cell phone
When I had a land line...I had NO problem talking on it.  The sound was weird echo or feed back.  It was a pleasant experience (assuming I liked the person I was talking to.)
Talking on a cell phone is awful.  There is often that weird echo, where you have a delayed replay of everything you say echoing in your ear.
I find that there is a lot more interrupting one another during the conversation when on a cell phone. I think that is because once again, the sound is not clear.
It is just not an enjoyable experience.

2.  Texting is a lot like subtitles.
I love subtitles.
For me...(a woman with sucky hearing) is just easier to read things.
A text gives me the information I need, quickly and efficiently.
I can also go back and refer to it if I need to.
What more could I ask for?

My husband often says that I love my phone more than him.
This is not necessarily true.

My phone just happens to be more interesting than him. :p
This is probably the problem with society and the smart phone.
Why do we need to interact with people when we have Facebook, Pinterest,
Twitter, Instagram, texts, e-mails, the internet....pretty much everything one can imagine at our fingertips?

I dare say, the smart phone has made us all dumb.
And often, quite rude.

I am really glad that I lived my teenage years pre-cell phone/internet/technology.
In other words...during the stone age.
Back then, you actually had to work at a relationship.
There was none of this "I am going to text him/her...or message him/her on Facebook and see if they want to hang out this weekend!"
Back in the olden days, you actually had to CALL each other, or hunt them down and ask them in person.  There was none of this "hide behind a gadget" nonsense.
You actually had to talk to each other.  Crazy...I know.
There was only one time when it would have been handy for some advanced technology back in the day.  It was a month or so after Mark and I started dating.
He was one of those "dedicated students" who spent a lot of time in the practice room.  We went to different colleges, so one night I left a note on his car windshield (since he was never home, and impossible to track down) saying "give me a call."
I assumed I would get a phone call.  I assumed wrong.  
He got so mad at me.  He thought I was being too controlling and overbearing.
Good thing I hadn't picked the lock on his car and camped out inside until he got there.  Or maybe he would have preferred that?
I would have appeared to be less stalker-esque, I guess.

But really...I don't know that I would want to be dating in today's society.
Everything seems to wind up being a Facebook status.
I think I would just stick with "It's Complicated" and call it a day.

I really do love the convenience of having all of my "contacts" at my fingertips wherever I go.  It's super handy knowing that if I ever have a question about something, I can google it, or post it on Facebook  and will likely have an answer in seconds.  I enjoy having a portable entertainment system that I can take anywhere.  Sitting in waiting rooms, or at the airport are no longer boring and endless.  
However, as much as I enjoy all of these perks that technology provides,for me, there are some things it can never replace.
I will never choose a kindle or a nook over a real book.
I have no desire to plug my appointments into an electronic calendar.
I am old school when it comes to this.  I need a calendar I can carry with me, and write in....and never worry about running out of battery to view.
I also will continue to write, by hand, whenever I can.  It breaks my heart to see that the art of cursive writing, and beautiful penmanship is a dying art.  What a disservice to kids that it isn't even being taught anymore in some places?!
When it comes to interaction, conversation, and my overall need to connect with will never hold a candle to human relationships. 
Texting, e-mail, Skype, FaceTime.....none of it will ever be able to compare to the joy of human interaction.
Well, technology will just keep advancing....and we can hope and pray that people won't forget how to interact with one another.
Maybe we will get lucky, and laws will be passed where phones are no longer allowed in restaurants and bars....they will be banned, just like cigarettes.
I'm sure every employee at these establishments would be thrilled if this were the case.  Lord knows their jobs would be a lot easier if they didn't have to waster their time waiting for people to get off their phones long enough to decide what to order.
I know that I am never giving up my pen and paper, and I will hold on to my "old school" traditions as long as I possibly can.
As far as when we are spending time with friends and family, or just out socializing....the best place for that phone is tucked away, and silent.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Missing the Moment?

I'm doing it again.
Thanksgiving is three days away, and I am thinking about Christmas.
I am starting to wonder if it actually possible to "live in the moment" without kind of "missing the moment."
What I mean is this:
In October, I was really focused on staying "present."  Living each day in the moment, and not thinking about the past or the future.  Just trying to be where I was, when I was.
Well, parts of doing that were good.  I felt like I enjoyed things as they happened.
However, I also missed the boat on a lot of things.
For instance...Halloween.
Two years ago, I decided to really embrace the holiday.  I had never really done much, as far as decorating, or creating any fun family traditions in the past.
The kids would trick or treat, and we would hand out candy, of course.  And most years we would get around to carving pumpkins...although once the kids got older, it didn't always happen.
But then my friend Colleen came into our lives, and her birthday fell on Halloween.  So not celebrating was not an option.
Birthday girl with curly horned sheep chihuahua

Notice the "mummy dogs" ^^

Everyone wants to be a birthday princess

She was kind of attached to her pumpkin.

Well, this year, I let it all get away from me.  
I bought the pumpkins...but they never got carved.  (Well, the squirrels made a valiant attempt.)
I had a nice stash of Halloween decorations and party-ware that I purchased on clearance last year....all neatly stowed away, ready to go for this year.
It is still in the storage room.
I was so busy "living in the moment" that I never got around to planning and preparing for things that were coming up....and when they arrived, it was too late.
I am starting to feel that way about Thanksgiving.
I realize that perhaps I can still salvage this holiday.  
I am thinking about it I have time to buy a turkey (or buy a sling shot and hunt one down.) and figure out how to cook one.
(We may be eating lasagne)
I can go get some orange, yellow, black and brown felt at the craft store to make pilgrim and Indian costumes for the dogs.  (They can draw straws over which one plays the pilgrim this year.  They both love those fancy buckle pilgrim shoes so much.)
I am guessing those pumpkins the squirrels have been eating may no longer be fit for human I may have to re-think the pumpkin pie idea.
This is a good thing, since the pie crust making thing sounds a bit daunting to me.
I am sure the kids won't notice if I scrape that freezer burn off the ice cream, and serve whatever we can salvage from the bottom of the pail.
When we used to have our big family Thanksgiving pot-lucks....I was always in charge of bringing the buns.
Everyone else brought things like fancy salads, mashed potatoes, candied yams, cranberry froo froo, homemade pies, etc.  I brought buns.... that I picked up at the grocery store.
I always assumed they gave me bun duty because of my busy schedule.  They didn't want to burden me with having to bake a fancy side dish or dessert.
It took several years before it occurred to me that perhaps that wasn't it at all.
Perhaps they were actually looking out for their own health and well-being.
Buns were safe. It was highly unlikely anyone would suffer from salmonella poisoning or e-coli if I brought buns.  Always underestimating the artsy fartsy one.  Little do they know.
They have never tasted my microwave popcorn.  I skills beyond their wildest imagination.'s a good thing we are having lasagne for Thanksgiving.
I have a loaf of frozen garlic bread in the freezer.
Or we may just opt for a gourmet meal.  Browning the hamburger is a lot of work though.

As for Christmas...I think that may be on hold for awhile.
Silly Santa.
I suggested 3 diamond rings.
Instead...he got confused and thought I said 3 insurance claims.

Lexie strikes again.
I guess she wanted to make sure the front of the car matched the back?
3 body repairs + 4 new tires = Merry Christmas!

She will be getting bubble wrap for Christmas.
And a job.
As for me....I have altered my Christmas list, slightly.
Dear Santa,
All I want for Christmas is a self renewing prescription of prozac.
Thank you,

Monday, November 24, 2014

Standing on the Soap Box

I love my church.
I love working there.
It's nice working at a place where you know that pretty much everyone is going to smile at you or say "hi."  It's also pretty great when the majority of your work involves sitting at a lovely grand piano. ;)
I also happen to have the nicest "boss" in the world.  (I am referring to the priest I work for...I am guessing that some of you assumed I meant God, considering I work at a church.
I suppose he is my boss too.  And I'm hoping he is nice.  (I am pretty sure he is...if we skip over the Old Testament....which is what we will do right now.)  So, I have two fabulous bosses! Yay me!
Yes....I have lots and lots of "feel good" moments at church.
But that isn't always the case.
In my 734 years as a church musician...I have been privy to a lot of interesting church chat.
I was raised Catholic, and am currently working in a Catholic church...but have also worked in churches of various denominations.
Now, I realize, as an employee of the Catholic church, I am expected to uphold the teachings and beliefs of the Catholic faith.  Or at least keep my mouth shut.
(Did you all get a little chuckle at that last part?)
Well, there are some things that I just can't keep quiet about.
In all honesty....this entire post really does not even need to involve the church at all.  It just so happens that something occurred at church this morning that started the fiery rage in this mama bear's belly...and I needed to write about it.
Let me start by stating these facts:
Yes, I believe in God.
I believe the church should be accepting and loving toward all who enter.
I believe the church should be a safe haven.
I believe everyone who comes to church each weekend should do so with an open heart and mind, both toward receiving the message given, and toward the other people in the congregation.


I do NOT believe the church is a place for people to judge others, to be unwelcoming toward others, or to treat anyone in a hurtful manner.  Period.
Unfortunately, this happens all the time.
What happened today was stupid.  It was childish, and quite frankly, when I consider the really was not much of a surprise at all. bothered me.  A lot.
My daughter is playing the role of Mrs. Van Daan in "The Diary of Anne Frank."
(and my son is an evil Nazi soldier.)
(He is too darn cute to be a mean guy.)

If you know Lexie, she has tons of wild curly hair.  In order to get her hair to look like it does in this pic, she has to put it in rollers, and let it dry for several hours.
Well...that meant coming to church this morning in her curlers and Aunt Jemima head wrap.  Luckily, she is so used to this lovely look because of show choir (where everywhere you turn there are girls in curlers and head wraps) so it doesn't really phase her.
As she walked to her seat in the choir, a woman (who I know well...and who should totally be able to figure out that she isn't coming to church with curlers in her hair because she wants to!) shot her the most obnoxious, obvious look of disgust and superiority the ENTIRE time she walked by.  This was a full-blown, panoramic, "even though I am in my 50's....I am going to act like I'm 15, and auditioning for the movie 'Mean Girls 2.'"  I am sitting about 2 feet away, watching this happen....and saying (while playing piano) "she is in a SHOW! She is in a SHOW!"  She was too busy staring at my daughters head to hear me.
Now, I realize this is ridiculous.  However, this is also a woman who has come after me before with adolescent there is a history here.  And...this is my child that she is obviously judging, and we mama bears protect our cubs.  And's not like Lexie was wearing a robe and slippers with her curlers!!  
Had I not been in the middle of playing prelude music...some verbal "scratches" may have occurred. 
What made me laugh, was after church, I was talking to a girlfriend about it, and she told me her son turned to her when Lexie walked by and said "Hey mom, is she in a play or something?"
If a little KID can figure this out.......good Lord.

I am tempted to have business cards printed up with^^ this on them.
Wouldn't that be awesome to have on hand...for those moments when the perfect opportunity presented itself? ;)
Watching that oh-so-obvious display of judgement this morning got me thinking about how rampant judgement within the church really is.
In fact, I recently heard about a church that will not allow the song "All Are Welcome" to be sung at Mass, because all are not welcome. :-o
In my perfect world....a church (and this would encompass the church universal...rather than dividing us up by denomination, religion...etc) would be a place where everyone was equal.  Everyone was welcome.  Everyone was safe, and loved.
That is what baffles me...SO much.
We read about Jesus tending to the poor, the sick, the sinners, the prostitutes, the lepers....there was no one unworthy of his love and care.
So, why are there so many churches that push people away.  
"We love everyone!  As long as you are just like us!"

And then....there is that big issue that so many churches can't even begin to wrap their heads around.
This is where I am supposed to say "I am Catholic, and I cannot condone gay marriage."
Okay then.
How about this.
I support the right for every damn person on this earth to be HAPPY.  
I support the right for every person to be treated EQUALLY.
I support the right for every person to be FREE from any form of oppression.
^^^^I love this man.^^^^ 
So let's talk about the whole "gay" thing for a minute.
First of all....why is it even a "thing?"
Quite frankly....people's personal lives are called PERSONAL for a reason.
We are who we are.
I didn't choose to be slightly manic, moody, musical, and to like men.
That's just who I am.
And I don't always like men.
When it comes to companionship....I prefer dogs.

It's interesting, isn't it?  The "hand we're dealt."
The fact that I am white and straight automatically gives me an advantage.
If I were a male...I would be set!  
I wonder if the fact that I have brown hair and eyes put me at a disadvantage?
I mean, it really does come down to that, doesn't it?
Our society is that messed up, I think.  
And these labels we attach to everything.
Why is a gay man always labeled that way...but a straight man is just a "man?"
Or a black man...again labeled.  What difference does it make if the man is black or white, straight or gay?  Isn't he still just a man?
I pray that there will be a day when the labels cease to exist, and people can just be people.  
If we insist on labeling people, I think it's time we do it based on their character.  Isn't the way a person acts and the way they treat other people the one thing that a person can fairly be judged upon?
It is ridiculous that society insists on judging people for things we have absolutely NO control over.

I will also never understand why people are so afraid to allow everyone equal rights.  
We seem to have no problem whatsoever with the ridiculousness that occurs everyday in Hollywood.  
This is one of my favorite quotes regarding marriage:







You have to is pretty ridiculous.

And then, this interesting tidbit

Ok.  So, I am not sure how I got from curlers to gay marriage.
Let me just take a moment to summarize.
This is how I will rule the world...if I'm ever elected ruler of the world, of course.

1. All people should be treated as equals. 
2. All religion should be based on kindness, compassion, acceptance, and love.
3. Everyone should be accepted, and appreciated for who they are.  We all come to this earth with gifts.  We can not nurture and share those gifts if we aren't allowed to first nurture and grow into who we really are. 
4.  Hatred will not be tolerated. It will be obliterated, and haters will be taught to love.  (Or, if they prefer, haters will be sent to the dark that pit with teeth that Jabba the Hutt tries to throw Luke and Han down in Star wars) that should take care of the hater problem. ;)
5. People will slow the heck down, and start thinking about the bigger picture.
Today's homily at church was short, sweet, and important.  Father asked:
Do you feed the hungry?  Do you clothe the naked?  Do you care for the sick?  Do you welcome the stranger?

Good food for thought.

So, as we begin this week of Thanksgiving....I think it's the perfect time to really keep these thoughts at the front of our minds.
I know for me, once Thanksgiving hits....I feel like time flies right up through Christmas.
This year, I'm going to make a conscious effort to slow it down.
So what if the cards don't go out, or the presents don't get wrapped until the last minute.
I want this year to be about more than material things.
I want my kids to see me setting an example...and I want them to have a desire to follow it.
Bethy Crocker and Markus Stewart may not make an appearance this year...and that's ok.  I'm pretty sure that is why they sell "ready-made cookie dough."  
This year, I don't want my holiday's to be about "stuff".  I want, instead, to focus on family, and people...and what I can do to maybe make someone else's Christmas a little brighter.  I think a quiet, peaceful Christmas sounds heavenly.  
And if the craziness of the season starts to weigh heavily on you....take a step back, and think about what you really want...or really need.
Maybe letting go of some of the craziness and allowing some quiet into your home is just what your family is craving as well.
We get so used to constant action and noise and activity.
We forget to just be.
Give yourself that gift.
Just be.