Sunday, November 4, 2012

Light My Fire

What are you passionate about?  I'm passionate about everything.  Seriously.  I'd give you a list, but there's a limit to what you'll read before losing interest.  How about a list of what I'm NOT passionate about?

Golf on TV.
Whoppers.
Stick figure stickers on cars.

I can't come up with more at the moment, but if you give me something and act excited about it, I'll join in.  Sounds a little weak, but I prefer to call it "supportive enthusiasm".  What does passion get you?  An early grave.  Really!  If you're calm... cool... collected (all 4-letter words btw!) you will live to 114 yrs.  If you fly by the seat of your pants with your hair on fire?  You will be shot by a soccer mom on the side of a highway at rush hour.  Give me passion any day!

What do you get at 114 anyways?  Sittin' in your hoveround drooling on your housecoat?  I can do that while zippin' around the grocery store sayin' mean things to the twit who cut me off just loud enough so she can hear.  Live, love, shove food in your face - isn't that a movie or something?

I don't want to live long enough to have my food pureed and put into a bottle for me to suck on.  Sure, it was exciting once, now it's just degrading.  I'd like to go down in flaming glory with a tommy gun and a cigar.  I'll be coughing on the cigar, but that's not the point.  I'll be kicking zombie butt and giving great one-liners.

Live with passion!  I voted for Dukakis in the 6th grade Social Studies class election!  Am I ashamed?  Of course!  But darn it I'd do it again!  (Mostly cuz I'm still an uninformed, head-in-the-clouds dreamer who believes in the goodness in everyone, but I digress...)  Stick to your guns, my friends.  Don't cower behind your mistakes - embrace them.  Stand up and say "I screwed up and I'm not afraid to tell you!"  Be passionate about your successes AND your failures.  Cuz no one likes a know-it-all.  hahaha

And I think people appreciate some honesty.  I mean, if they even believe you, that is.  Who the heck would believe that Dukakis even got one vote from a 6th grader in Upstate New York?

What happens when you live your life with passion?  Your blood pressure goes up, your anxiety levels increase (cuz you care about things more) and your life expectancy plummets.  You also see the beauty in the world - the colors dazzle, the music vibrates in your veins, you get goosebumps reading a good book.  Find your passion and throw your energy at it.  Stop wasting your time hating your job.  You only live once - find something about your job that you like and concentrate on that or find a new one.  It's so much more satisfying to live your life LOVING something than hating! Whether it's your job, your hobby, of course your family and friends, spend that precious time loving them instead of hating whatever it is that has you moping and grumping.

Or, ya know, if you have to, by golly put some passion into your grumping!  Don't be a half-assed grouch.  Throw your kitchen scraps at the neighbor kids!  Bark out of the window of your car when someone flips you off.  Teach your cats to attack the mailman.  Put a little umph into your meanness.

All good advice can be found in a fortune cookie and mine recently said "true brilliance only comes after a period of chaos."  And what's more chaotic than acting with passion?  Imagine if everyone took their love and threw their energy into it?  My first thought is Armageddon but my second would be Utopia.

Yeah, I don't even imagine in a dull way, folks.  lol

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Where the Fun Never Stops!

Gavin and I spent the weekend up in Old Forge, NY with a friend of mine, Lisa, and her family.  It's been a while since Gavin and I did anything without Liam and Scott.  We had a good time.

We arrived Saturday at about 2pm.  The campgrounds were warning of bears - that we should not feed them, they aren't as cuddly as they look, that sort of thing.  Not that I'd share my smores with anyone, but I guess they were being cautious.  Our "kottage" was jammed in along the lake with a few hundred like-minded cityfolk up in the Adirondacks to get away from everything but modern amenities.  You could even rent a TV at the main office-slash-gift store.  (But it was a 14 in.  I mean, that's seriously roughing it.  It wasn't even a flat screen.)

After depositing 4 trips-to-the-car-worth of absolute necessities, we headed into town to blow our cash on food and worthless do-dads.  We breathed in the fresh air, only some of it having been recently breathed out by wall-to-sidewalk tourists carrying children and pushing heavily-laden strollers.  I purchased a wooden sling-shot for Gavin that had a deer head carved into it.  Or a fox.  Or maybe a rabbit.  We weren't sure, but we knew it'd be great for shooting stones into the lake from the campfire.  For 3 shots anyways, before an ear/antler broke off.  How could I have forgotten to pack the superglue??

We reveled in our outdoorsmanlike ability to start a campfire with only roadside wood, starter log and aim-a-flame.  Several smores later, a bear twice my size waddled out of the dark.  We watched him sniff our picnic table from the safety of our "komfy kottage", behind a locked door with absolutely nothing that could be mistaken as a weapon in our hands.  Should he have decided to have a fudge-covered Oreo we would have had to convince him to leave solely by our charm and good looks.  We were screwed.

Not finding any gooey treats easily accessible, the bear wandered to the next picnic table.  We'd had enough excitement, and went to bed for the night.  My queen-sized air mattress was not inflated to my normal firmness, and so I did not sleep well.  Camping is hard!  We awoke with the dawn at 7:30am and got ready for our day at Enchanted Forest. A full day of water slides, food, sun and fun.  We picked out our home base, a collection of chairs huddled around a tiki hut umbrella, where Lisa's husband, Jamie, held down the fort with a thick book of Civil War facts.  Gavin and Logan, their 14 yr. old son, dumped their things and ran.  When we saw them again they were sun-pink and running to another ride.

The wave pool didn't agree with my stomach, being a landlubber, so Lisa convinced me to go on the Curse of the Silverback.  There was a healthy line up to the top of a 30 foot tower.  There's a tunnel that drops into a huge bowl, that you circle around until you go down into another tunnel and out into a pool.  No one coming off the ride seems traumatized, so I figure it should be okay.  Lisa hops on the front of our double-innertube, and I'm bringing up the rear.  Appropriate, I figure.  What I didn't realize is that after a few feet of tunnel, there's a 20 foot drop down into the bowl.  The first 5 feet of the ride were great!  Then we dropped... and when we landed I swallowed my bathing suit.

I guess I'll tell you a bit about the saga that led to my purchasing this particular suit, and then you'll understand why inhaling it through my backside was so painful.  I'd lost considerable weight early on this summer, and my search for a new suit yielded only two-piece jobbers that fit my ample posterior but inadequately covered the leftovers of my son's welcome to the world in the mid-section.  (ie.  Nothing hid my squishy belly.)  Till I found the cutest one-piece at Target.  Size Itty Bitty, Teeny Weeny.  And it was made by Spanx!  Those wonderful people who make all things synthetic for women who have bits and pieces sticking out of the wrong places!  I ordered it online, after considerable hemming and hawing, as it was about $10 more than I really wanted to spend, and when it finally came in was $20 more than what they had it in the store for, restocked in MY size.  I shrugged it off as the pain of being beautiful, and jammed my bod into that lycra as hard as I could.  With minimal breathing, it fit like a glove.

So when I lost half of the backside of my gorgeous suit into my colon, I was a bit miffed.  I spent the 3 turns around the bowl, the plastic, gaping, Silverback gorilla in the center spewing water at my head, frantically yanking Spanx out of my butt.  I now knew what the Curse was.  We made it out of the bowl and down into the pool with minimal incident.  I did one last booty check and climbed daintily, ladylike, out of the innertube.  It seemed to me that the bottom of my bathing suit sagged a little, but perhaps that was just my imagination, having recently pulled it out of my tonsils.

The rest of the day was a relaxing mix of icecream, lazy river and people watching.  The boys and I went for dinner and shopping, while Lisa and Jamie enjoyed a dinner cruise for their wedding anniversary.  Back at the "kottage" that evening, our fire pit just refused to cooperate, so melted chocolatey goodness was denied.  We went inside to utilize the microwave and under the light of a 60 watt bulb I realized that I was burnt red from neck to toenails.  Apparently, reapplying the sunscreen is a good recommendation.  I would have /facepalmed but it probably would have developed blisters.

Lisa plugged in the air mattress blower-upper and pumped some more air into my roughing-it bed, which I slept on like I was drugged.  Perhaps it was because I was violated by a cartoon gorilla that I swear I'd never met before in my life. Or the fact that the sun had sunk down into the 6th layer of my skin.  Either way, getting up the next morning, as the sun peeped over the horizon at 8:30am, was tough!  It took a diet pepsi and a short stack dripping with maple syrup to get life into me.  Then we climbed a mountain.

No, seriously, we climbed a friggin' mountain.  Or, at least, they climbed.  I whined.  No, I don't care about the photo opportunity at the top, I can get the same picture off the internet.  From my phone.  In the car, at the BOTTOM of the MOUNTAIN.  People coming down, as we were going up, were watching me a bit.  I'm betting that my bright red face, panting with exertion, reminded them of someone about to burst in half.  I asked one couple how much further it was, because Lisa kept lying to me -  "It's just a little further.  Right around this corner.  Look, it's getting flatter."  Nice try, Lisa.  They told us it was 100 yards or so.  Damn Canadians.  Might as well have told me it was the length of 20 canucks lined up in a row for all I know how far 100 yards is!  I told Lisa I figured it wasn't too far cuz it was under a thousand.  A sound theory, right?  If they'd told me it was 3 kilometers I would have been ecstatic, cuz 3 is alot less than 100.

Ok, so the top of the mountain was nice.  But that's all I'm going to give it!!  Not another inch!  What did I learn from this experience?  Don't climb another friggin' mountain!  That's what I learned!

Down was a bit easier, at least on the lungs.  My knees and ankles were unimpressed but didn't complain too loudly.  Gavin stayed by his old mah while Lisa, Jamie and Logan ran down to sit and wait by the car.  Damn them for their stamina, balance and general sportiness!  I still have pieces of denim sweat-glued to me.

They'll be removed surgically at the same time as my bathing suit.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Long Time No See

Whew!  How about that for an extended absence?  You were waiting all this time, right?  Yes, of course you were.  And that last haircut... I was just humoring you.

Cuz I dont have enough on my plate right now, I thought I'd come back here for a little bit and take a stab at the whole blogging thing.  What else is a person who can't keep her opinion to herself to do?  Let me enumerate my last few months:

We've moved into a decent-sized house in a different school district.
Liam's adoption went through; he's now, officially, a Burns.
I am now employed nearly- full time.
Scott and I went on an uber-diet and lost a combined 120 lbs. (so far).

Between haunting Facebook, working on my photography this summer, getting the house organized and being MOM (maniacally obsessive mother), writing has been pushed to the back.  I have, however, managed to work a bit on my tan, relearn to ride a bicycle and start the lawn mower in less than 15 minutes.

We've entered the pre-teen zone with Gavin.  He'll be turning 11 in November.  At 11 I was still dressing up my Barbies.  Gavin prefers to growl and scoff at how obvious we are.  Sometimes I'm torn between pride in how well he's playing his tortured soul routine and wanting to duct-tape him to a wall.  (Check out what these guys can do with duct tape.  I'm an amateur.)

Liam is in pre-school weekday mornings and will be going to day care in the afternoons starting this week.  I like to tell people it's to help with his socialization, to get the skills he needs before Kindergarten.  The fact that the child would like to crawl up inside of me like a baby kangaroo on the hottest day of the summer has almost NOTHING to do with it.  He's growing an umbilical cord, people, you have no idea.

Then there's my husband and I, who have, combined, lost the equivalent of Kate Middleton.  And what a load to let go!  I think I've lost mine fairly evenly but poor Scott.... my poor husband.... he kinda looks like Mr. Incredible now.  All chest - no butt.  He'd have to pad his backside to wear Kate's tighty whities.

Me, I dont know how or if I've changed much with the ability to see my toes again.  Still just trying to keep one step ahead of these three while juggling the ragged remnants of my sanity.  I sit humbly, in awe, of women who work full time, have a clean house, go to 3 birthday and 2 PartyLite parties a week while feeding their children vegetables out of the garden promptly each day at 5pm.  Some days that box of mac & cheese needs to make itself while I drool on my keyboard, one hand on Liam's forehead, desperately trying to keep him from crawling onto my lap and licking my face.  Fondly, I can almost hear Gavin whining in the background about how bored he is.  *smiles*

It's nice to be working again, though.  Adult conversation (some yelled through my windshield at the moron ahead of me on the way in), purpose, drive, peace and quiet (only occasionally interrupted by sirens and blasting tones through the speakers of the emergency ambulance company I now work for.)  It's heaven -  minus the toga-clad Adonis strumming a lute while deftly handing me a chocolate sundae.  I'm going to work that into my departmental budget here one day...

Oh and I guess I'd be silly not to shamelessly plug my photography, carefully selected and tenderly gathered at Smugmug.com.  As with all art, it's a work in progress.  Right there along with my aeronautics aspirations and 5'5" goal.  Hope springs eternal.

Pssst.  Before you go.... feel free to share my blog with your friends.  I only need 6 more people to spew liquids at their monitors and I get a free laser mouse and body wax.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Say What?

Have you heard of the phrase "momtourage"?  Oh, no, seriously, it's this new word, apparently, for the children that you end up toting around in your minivan from school to soccer practice, through the drive-thru at McDonald's and to Jimmy's house for the birthday party.  But it also seems to include the friends, family, retail stores, magazines, websites and television shows that help Mom raise her family.  Mothering isn't just feeding the kids and sending them off to public school anymore.  It takes a village?  Nahh it takes an industry.

The advent of the internet and the mobile mom has given rise to the entire world raising your child, instead of Grandma and a few neighbors.  I'm not sitting here in my comfy chair with knitting in my lap discussing Liam's new favorite sentence ("Awwww DANGIT!").   I'm googling (yep, it's in the Oxford Dictionary, folks, "googling") ways to change "dangit" into something a little less offensive, and whether I'm a bad mom because my child curses at every opportunity.  Three hundred of my closest friends can pipe in on their opinion.

That's what I've realized lately, maybe a little bit slowly:  that now I'm SO nervous about what people I've never even met might think about something I say or do that involves the kids.  I'm sure I'm not the only one feeling this new pressure from the outside world.  Twenty years ago you were afraid that your mother-in-law might find out you gave the kids lollypops before bedtime and she'd give you that look.  Now it sits in the back of my head that my toddler's swearing might end up on Youtube or the Nightly News.  Now I've got children's advocate groups parked on my sparse front lawn and a satelite pointed at my roof controlled by that Eastern European guy named Peggy in that credit card commercial. 

And really, the threat isn't real.  Just because I see this on the internet happening to people (like this woman who sent her young son on the NYC Subway, for example) doesnt mean it's going to happen to me.  I really dont need to walk on eggshells.  Just because I make a parenting decision, doesn't mean it's going to fascinate anyone.  Just because she was butchered alive by the media and 20% of the planet doesn't mean it's going to happen to me.  And hers was a success story, a child who was able to navigate his way home and wasn't abducted and sent to work in a circus. 

There are many reasons why I don't watch the evening news anymore, but this has got to be the biggest: every single night they tell a story about a child who was hurt in some atrocious manner.   Do I believe I live in a great and perfect world?  No.  Am I having a hard time remembering that I don't live on a prison planet?  Sometimes yes.  The media would have me believe that I need to chain my children to my person until they're old enough to move into my basement apartment I've had specially renovated for them - somewhere around 26 yrs old. 

Know what?  The internet can take their "momtourage" and shove it.  I'm not going to live my life in a panic, fear weighing my every step and thought process.  I already have trouble sleeping thinking about asbestos, carbon monoxide, random midnight kidnappings, mold, asthma, Christmas tree fires, falling airplanes, the Bomb and (Gavin's dinner musing) the Sun blowing up.  But those fears are for ME.  I absolutely refuse to let those unreasonable fears be passed down to the kids and hinder their life experiences.  Once I pick out their wives and they have my grandkids I'll let the worry pass to them. 

Until then, I'll keep my mother-in-law (who really doesn't have a look, she's sweet as pecan pie, and doesn't read this so you know I'm not sucking up) and the handful of trusted advisors I feel confident in sharing my child-rearing horror stories with and the "momtorage" ... well Liam says it best, "Get WAY from me!!"

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What would you bring to...

...ZOMBIE APOCOLYPSE
Yep, that was the topic on our nearly 2 hr. trip down from Scott's parents' house this afternoon.  I mean, we normally do have some pretty interesting topics, ranging from astronomy to what dog we would like to get one day.  Zombies was a new topic though.  So first we defined "zombie" - an undead creature whose sole mission is to eat brains.  No, they can't drive or press buttons or use weapons.  With that taken care of Gavin decided that he wanted some sort of machine gun.  Booooriiing.  Mamma is more inventive.

My Zombie Apocolypse Luggage would contain:

1.  an industrial flame thrower
2.  thigh-high black leather boots
3.  tricked out (and armored) red Mustang
4.  the cast of Glee

Scott wanted a boat.  Apparently the dead don't swim well.  Okay, good, practical.. now let's step it up a notch.  Lets add a mechanical Santa Claus to the bow that mutters "Ho..... Ho.... Ho" in a kinda scary, evil robot monotone.  I was totally picturing Scott standing there on the boat with half a cigar sticking out of the corner of his mouth, a rifle strapped to his back with a belt made out of scrap tires.

We went back to Gavin, who hadn't been able to come up with much more than two comedians and Tom Bergeron.  (The child watches WAY too much Funniest Home Videos.)  But I admired his attempt.  I, too, would find Tom Bergeron's presence helpful when attacked by a horde of brain-eating corpses.

Not to leave anyone out, we asked Liam's opinion on the matter.

"Liam, what would you bring to a zombie apocolypse?" 

"Ticken Nuggets."

The child is a genius.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Attack of the 50ft. Green-Eyed Monster!

Everyone has their moments where jealousy and envy sneak into their minds and wreak havoc.  If they don't then I'm going to look darned silly cuz it happened to me this week.  Really, it happens to me alot, and I'm having a hard time finding a good way to get rid of it.  Unlike the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, this beasty is immune to proton blasts.  Jealousy is a rather nefarious, indistinct creepy goul that seems to prowl around just waiting to jump in when you're least wary.  Like my kids at meal time.

I'm starting to get an idea what some of the triggers are though.  Like this week there were two things that got me looking around at what "everyone else has":  1)  the kids and if that wasn't enough 2) I've stopped drinking caffeine.  (Insert head-numbing scream here.)

Alright, I'm not blaming the kids.  Nahh, I'm blaming the media.  Every single darn commercial on the kids' channels are for some wicked cool toy they absolutely must have cuz their friends will love them for it.  (Turn if off, you say?  I did that this week, there were tears.  It was heart-wrenching.  Apparently there's absolutely nothing to do in that bedroom full of toys, books, art supplies, radio...  Goodness, I sound like my mother.)   The three-year old gnomeling was another story.  He just sees SHINY LIGHTS and his eyes get big and he turns and says "Mom, digga [insert D-battery using kids' toy here]??"  Digga meaning "I want" or "Can I have?"  Then repeat ad nauseum.  If I say "no", his response is a wet-eyed, head-tilted, diabetically sweet "pleeeeeeeeease, Mommy?"  The child is a genius.   But the answer is still "no".

Ever notice that the word lousy is in jealousy?  Cuz that's how I feel after the kids beg for this or that thing that they must have.  And not cuz they're dirty little street urchins looking for a handout (hmm, not SO much anyways) but because I would kinda like to buy them the Mega Huge Ultra Battery-Sucking Obnoxiously Loud Village Code Breaking Whozeewhatsit.  I think to myself "For heaven's sake, they don't need that garbage, it's too big, it's not going to teach them anything, they'll get bored with it in 10 minutes, it'll be broken in 15 and the cost is inconceivable."

And then I hear that So-and-so's Mom got him/her one.

I know So-and-so, and there's no reason that child needed one.  Their room is already filled past the point of being able to walk through it with The Latest Fads.  What on earth was Susie Spoilsalot thinking when she walked into Walmart and dropped $150 on another piece of molded plastic too soon forgotten?  Then I get two thoughts at once:  my kids don't have room for anything that huge even if we could afford it and I wonder if So-and-so has a college fund.  I'm pretty certain that if their mom is spending $X on stupid toys (X = insane) then they aren't thinking about how quickly they turn 18 and come to you asking for tuition or a basement apartment for them and a "couple of friends". 

How to counteract jealousy:  remember, tuition is more valuable than Loopy-dee-loop Fuzzy Critter Hugging Laughing Learning Giggle-me-choos.  Ten years from now Susie is going to go bankrupt paying for So-and-so to go to Johnny Mondo's Surfing College of California because she doesn't want her house to be burnt down by his friend Arfo and an old hot plate.  Long-term thinking, my friends.  I'll send my kid over to So-and-so's house to play and go through their batteries while I plan out where I'm going to put the hot tub after I get rid of the toy trains and matchbox car racing sets.

It's hard to explain to the kids that even if I could get them everything they wanted I still wouldn't cuz it wouldn't be helping them any.  Is So-and-so a nice person?  No?  I'm shocked.  And I have to remind myself frequently that the same holds true for me, even though I'm not technically a kid anymore.  I continually hear of people my age getting things handed to them by their parents and wish for a moment that would happen to me (hear that Mom??)  But it's true - hard-won things hold more value.  I'll be much happier with what I have if I obtain it on my own through my own hard work.  Or, because I'm currently unemployed, my husband's. 

Well... I mean... I have to wash that sweat out of his clothes, right?  That's rough.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ahhh the Lightbulb

Q:  How many politicians does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A:  As yet undetermined.  First, a committee was established to determine if the light bulb was actually broken.  Requests for bids were sent out.  The lowest bidder was Bobby, the neighbor kid at $5 but it was determined that his licensing was not in order.  The next bidder, a Turkmenistani contracting company of three related employees, had a three week completion time at a price of $200,000.  Upon finding that the light bulb was indeed not lit, another $50,000 was allocated to determine if it was the light bulb that was broken, the fixture, or the electricity to the bulb was at cause.  As it was a holiday weekend in Turkmenistan, the contractors added three days and $10,000 to their expenses.  Monday morning it was determined that the light bulb itself wasn't working and the fixture was in good order but upon descending from the ladder, the contractor fell, breaking his hip, wrist and sustaining cuts to his forearm.  Legal fees, mental anguish, loss of wages and a short stay in the hospital are expected to be in excess of $80,000.  In converting the American Dollar to the Turkmenistan Manat, they were incorrectly given a 23.5% bonus. 

Upon determination that the light bulb was in need of replacing, a second committee was established to seek bids from contractors to do this work.  Four thousand, six hundred and eighty-three bids were received.  Five and a half months later, Juan Carlos and Sons Inc. was awarded the contract.  Their $60,000 fee for this service stipulated that all plans and specs be made available in Spanish.  This took two weeks, two supervisors, three edits, 27 emails and 841 Post-Its.  Upon receipt of the plans, Juan Carlos and Sons subcontracted the job to Cousin Luis, a former Sears electronics salesperson and successful meth lab owner for $12.63 and six packages of Sudafed.  Three weeks later, Luis enters the house and, upon discovering its rich decor, hires four street kids at $20 each to remove 3 plasma TV's, 2 laptops, a surround sound system and a Krups combination coffee and espresso machine to his white, unregistered van on the corner.  After showering, dressing in the lady of the house's skinny jeans and eating a package of Hot Pockets, Luis falls asleep on the floor beneath the light bulb, dropping his cigarette on the hand-woven Tibetan carpet.  The house burns to the ground in 3 hours and 12 minutes.  Luis is in the hospital for eight months.  His suit to the government, Juan Carlos and Sons Inc. and the homeowners quote the fire inspector's determination that adequate smoke detectors would have saved half of the home and 2/3 of Luis' body hair.

As the light bulb no longer exists, the politicians are currently adding special programs and stipulations to the Light Bulb Referendum while waiting for the house to be rebuilt by Bobby, the neighbor kid.