Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Chores Galore

For those of you that might of noticed my absence last Tuesday, I assure you that I am in the pink of health and all is well.  OK...maybe my time management skills are running amuck and my tendency to behave compulsively in my effort to get everything that didn't get accomplished over the winter done in a matter of a week ...perhaps those things could stand a bit of improvement.  Other than that and the fact that last Tuesday my attention was refocused thanks to  my new iPhone 5S dying a tragic death, all is well in my world.

As for the subject today,  my preoccupation with getting my gardens in.

One of the things about living in the middle of the country is that our weather tends to be "hit or miss" as to the number of days between November and May that are conducive to being outdoors.  Oh sure there are the occasional sunny warm day that begs you to step out your front door.  These are usually followed up with a blast of wind, a drenching rain, or a freezing  snow storm to remind you that you are  in the Midwest. So it isn't really all that surprising that sometime around the middle of May, a lot of Midwesterners collectively lose their minds when the sun makes an appearance.  It's very much like bugs being lured into a bug zapper.  The light beckons us.

We step out into the world and are amazed that the sun is still in the heavens and want to participate in all that is Spring.  (FYI..This need to spend copious amounts of time basking in the sun, is going to play havoc with my blogging schedule.) 

Thought Number One:  Gardening is not a hobby as much as it is an addiction.

While our hardiness zone for planting here in Kansas says that our  "suggested" last day for frost is May 15th, most hardy and hail (glutton for failure types) start heading for the local nurseries around April 1st.  We tell ourselves that we are just going for inspiration and/or  for starter seedlings that we won't plant  into the earth for weeks yet.  Of course, all the truly avid gardeners, are lying when they say this and invariably end up buying shopping carts full of plants.  One would think that the common occurrence of snow in April here would act as a deterrent but no...the delusional thinking of a Midwestern gardener knows no bounds.  The signal to get started is the convergence of the sun actually shining AND the thermometer registering 65 degrees or above.  It doesn't really matter if those two events only last a few minutes, the starting gun has sounded.

That, too,  is my cue to spend hours and hours AND hours in my yard.  This act of coming out of hibernation does not go unnoticed by my neighbors.  Those of you that have followed my blog for awhile might remember the comment from the neighbor that suggested that people that "waste" all their time gardening are crazy.  The fact she said this to me as I was planting a new flower bed pretty much negated any chance of her being my favorite neighbor. She certainly doesn't gain points if it turns out that there is a measure of truth in her statement.

Thought Number Two:  Beauty is In the Eye of the Beholder

Just as people have diverse tastes in food, clothing, home styles...and everything else, what people consider a pretty yard is equally varied.  This time of year there are garden tours just about every weekend.  There is something so interesting about getting to peek into the backyards of  people that have fashioned some version of a personal sanctuary.

One of the backlashes of garden tours is that the more "ideas" you see the more compelled you are to try new things in your own garden.  Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting 6 gardens on the Johnson County Master Gardeners tour and came home with renewed energy to rework my planting beds.  A garden is always making subtle changes without any help at all.  Nature has a way of  creating and destroying a landscape without help from humans but drastic changes are immediate when a human gets involved.

BUT..as with many things, I am aware that planting gardens have become passe.  As a Realtor I hear many people say they wouldn't want the extra work required by anything  other than the most basic landscaping.  I recognize I am an anomaly in my neighborhood.   Most people want 100 percent turf. They prefer no obstacle to mow around.  The thought of deadheading flowers or watering planters is unnerving.   I laughed when one neighbor told me that she was striving for a low maintenance lawn that consists of clover, crabgrass and dandelions.  In my heart of hearts though, I can't think of many things that are as pretty as a beautiful garden. I guess this is just one of those things that I choose to follow my own path.  If you need me, I am out in my yard.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Two Thoughts over Three Problems

 Thought Number One:  You know what they say about "Good Intentions".

 Last Tuesday morning, I had every intention of posting my "Two Thoughts For Tuesday" and those good intentions hit a  brick wall.  I am sure you have heard the quote "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."  Well..last week I traveled that road and it was not a pleasant journey.

So.... do you mind if I complain a bit?  I know you get tired of listening to the never ending lineup of complainers  that surround you but, I think you will agree with me on a couple of points why my complaints are warranted. 

You might remember that just 10 days ago or so, it was freezing here in the middle of the country only to be followed up with 80 degree weather within a matter of days.  While not wanting to look a gift horse in the
Not convinced this is a gift horse.
mouth, the extreme weather change brings on a bit of urgency for the Midwest gardener.  Well...I shouldn't even say "Midwest"  I should say Johnson County, Kansas gardeners because this is "extreme" gardening here.  We not only fight the weather but we fight each other for product and services.  While there are thousands of landscapers and various lawn and garden related service providers, there seems to be an extreme shortage of  any that actually know anything about yards or gardens.

I had hired a landscaping company to put in a number of plants and trees in a back portion of my yard.  The bid consisted of planting  a large tree, 2 six foot shrubs and a lot of smaller plants, plus they were to enlarge the planting bed and sod the area in front of it.  A week or so ago, I realized that the large tree they planted  isn't deciduous...it's dead.  Also, the 2 shrubs that were supposed to be Rose of Sharons...aren't. That is just a couple of things that made an appearance on the bid, that didn't actually show up at the final party.  Sooo...I made a several calls and sent several emails to ask for a meeting to go over the "situation". 

I wish I could of recorded last Tuesday's morning meeting but I doubt that "landscaper man" would of been too happy to be videotaped. Still, that would of equaled things out a bit as I am not particularly happy, having to deal with a half-assed job.   At one point he tried to convince me that the tree was alive and just needed time to green up but when he shook the tree to reinforce his position...it fell over.  Seriously...the tree fell...prone onto the ground.  As the poor slob stood there over the prostrated tree,  he said something about " it needed staked."   He seemed oblivious to the fact the tree was a variety of EVERGREEN that was currently the color of tanned leather....and laying on the ground.  It was all I could do, not to yell "timber" and pronounce it dead on the spot.  

I know that you don't know me all that well, but you might of figured out over the last few years of reading my posts, that I am a proficient complainer.  Yes, I am gifted.   At one point in the conversation, I asked him if he was proud of the work he had done and would he mind if  I took pictures to show all  the ladies at all the various clubs I belong to.  Before waiting for his response,  I started snapping a number of shots with my Iphone.

The conversation quickly made a U-turn with promises of  a "live" tree being swapped for the pathetic plant laying on the ground.  Although, it must be said, I haven't seen evidence of the swap actually happening yet.

Onward to my next gripe.   I switched cable companies.  Against all logic I decided to switch from a totally workable system into the abyss of the unknown because of "price."  I knew this was an endeavor that would drive me to the brink insanity, yet, I kept telling myself for $165 dollar DIFFERENCE per month, I should try to go the distance and go with a new company.

To be honest, I did the research.  I talked to people using the service. I talked to the local representative and asked all the possible questions and pointed out the myriad of reasons my house would be the worst "install" that their company would ever be unfortunate enough to have to deal with.  The local rep for his part, rolled his eyes, assured me that their installers weren't of the mediocre quality of my last cable, phone, Internet  provider and they could install this baby in two hours.

 Needless to say, one lonely little installer came at 8:00 AM on Wednesday.  At 8:00 PM he called for a second installer to join him.  After the two commiserated over the difficulty of the job, they ran "temporary wires" until they can send in someone else to run new cables. 

None of that came as anything close to unexpected.  I have moved 21 times in my adult life and when it comes to cable companies, it's not that my attitude is "the glass is half empty".  My attitude is that the glass is bone dry and has remnants of lime deposits clinging to the bottom.  I expect problems.  I count on the fact there are going to be problems in all arenas:  installation, technical and billing.    Yes, I know this trifecta of aggravation is an absolute when switching cable providers.

I wasn't exactly shocked the following morning when I turned on my TV to watch the news and it didn't work.  Here is a portion of my "chat" on the customer service chat line:

I am not entirely sure the phrase "as good as resolved" is easing my mind.

AND last but not least...the third reason, I never got around to posting last Tuesday. 

You might remember my concerns over being called for jury duty last year in my posts Looking from Both Sides Now and  Who Is the Liar?

Last Tuesday, I was notified that I AGAIN was called for jury duty.  Now don't go jumpin' to the conclusion I don't live to serve BUT the problem with this summons is that it was to serve in Denton County, TEXAS.
I live in Johnson County, Kansas and have for nearly 10 years now.

The basic problem with jury duty notifications besides that pesky question "Do you deem yourself mentally competent to serve?" which at best is a trick question...is that they have that threat in there about " if you fail to respond there will be a bench warrant  issued on your behalf."  I don't really know why a bench warrant is called a bench warrant as opposed to using the word "arrest" but I don't think it has to do with a cozy little area to rest and relax.

If I won lotteries like I "win" jury duty, I would be rich and I wouldn't be worried about my impending arrest on an outstanding warrant.  Needless to say, on Tuesday between bargaining for a living tree, Wednesday watching the installer(s) commiserate over my house being the worst install EVAH....to which I kept nodding and saying "told-ja-so"...I now was dealing with  the powers that be in Texas to recognize I moved out of their lovely state in 2005 and serving on jury duty just wasn't going to be convenient for me.

Thought Number Two:  Providing I am not in jail...I am confident that this is going to be a good week...right???

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Outing an Introvert

Carl Jung had a number of theories dealing with the personality traits of extroversion and introversion.  Most of his theories are too obtuse for those among us that aren't in the psychotherapy biz. (To all of you armchair psychiatrists out there:  I am sure your theories make perfect sense...on some level...to someone...so feel free to analyze those within your reach.)

  As for Jung, he defined introversion as an "attitude-type characterized by orientation in life through subjective psychic contents" (focus on one's inner psychic activity); and extroversion as "an attitude type characterized by concentration of interest on the external object" (the outside world).

Other sources define the difference between the two as: extroverts prefer to be around other people and introverts prefer solitude. 

 OR...how about some people are quiet and reserved,  while others are more animated and love to talk. 

As is the case with most things, I am a combination of both.   My level of introversion versus extroversion depends on my day, my mood, and my audience. I am nether overtly outgoing nor am I an extreme loner.

This has always been the case.  While it is true that I was described as painfully shy when I was little, being shy isn't quite the same thing as being introverted.  I liked being around people and even back then, I was quite chatty and social to people I knew.  It was "the people I didn't know" that made me nervous.  Then again, it didn't take me long to get to know people.  One minute I was part of the era where "children were meant to be seen and not heard" to "what song would you like me to sing for you now?" (note to those that had to listen to what I now realize was a form of torture..Sorry!)

There have been periods of time, however, that my "introversion" took front and center.  The first month or so of grade school, I threw up at lunch in the cafeteria daily.  All those kids that I didn't know made me nervous which in turn, made me the kid to watch.  At class reunions the subject of my projectile vomiting is still a hot topic.  It must of been quiet memorable...or scarring as the case may be.

Thought Number One:  Is Being Friendly Out of Fashion?

I have progressed...somewhat.  I no longer vomit in front of large groups of people but I still wouldn't necessarily want to go to a large party without knowing at least a person or two.  Of course, it does happen from time to time that I find myself among strangers but today,  I would consider myself a moderate talker and an ardent listener. That is to say, I might not tell you my life story but I am interested in getting to know you.  I would definitely want to talk to you.

Just like most people, I have evolved over a lifetime.  Maybe it's all the small towns that I have lived in, or the fact I married a man that knows no strangers but  today I would describe myself  a smiler to people on the sidewalk.  I am the talker in checkout lines.  I am the waver to the drivers that let my car go in front of  them and find that I judge those that don't give me the wave if I let them cut. 

With all that being said, I still appreciate my solitude and don't seek out large groups of people.  If I had to choose between a  huge party versus having dinner with a couple of friends...the couple of friends would be my choice. 

Why this subject?  This week I have had the opportunity to talk with a number of people doing various jobs around my house:  landscapers, cable installers, painters, even the man that does our quarterly pest control and I have discovered that comparatively speaking, I am an introvert and it would appear that there is a strong probability that I  have a sign tattooed on my forehead that says, "please talk to me until my eyes glaze over."  It was after several bouts of  my listening skills being maxed out that I thought about how comfortable other people are or aren't at talking to strangers.

Thought Number Two: Is Technology Leading the Trend of Rising Introversion?

Coincidentally, I came across an article called Connection Error in  Spirit magazine written by Steve Almond about a social experiment that he conducted. He called his experiment "Operation Talk to Strangers".

Seems that Steve is among those of us that lived (survived) prior to the time of cell phones and has noticed the impact those handy devices have had on the general population's ability to communicate...face to face as opposed to tap-tap-tap with their fingertips or with a square little box plastered over one of their ears. (for all of you that corrected me by saying they are rectangle...let's stay focused...you know what I mean)

Anyway, as I was saying, back in the early 90s, many of us thought the idea of having a "mobile" phone as they were then called, was a lot of fun but hardly necessary.   It fell into the same category as the need to take your television for a walk. As the current technology of the that time gave us a phone about the size of a
shoe box, it wasn't the norm to see people going down the street holding their bag phones.

Somewhere between then and now, 90 percent of American adults obtained cell phones and 50 percent have "smart" phones. According to Steve, he feels that society has morphed into an army of users and that smart phones have become the "ramparts of isolation" even when we are in a crowd of people.  He set about to prove this by coming up with a plan to attempt to engage total strangers into conversation. He was especially interesting in trying to talk to people that had smart phones with them.  He was sure that humans would prove themselves to be social beings.

Just a few years ago, if someone initiated a conversation with a stranger, there might of been an impression of friendliness. There also, might of been a time that talking on a cell phone would have a majority of people thinking you are rude.  Those perceptions may have shifted.

Steve Arnold found during the course of his experiment that people often appeared panicked that a person was trying to initiate a conversation and they used their phone as an excuse to disengage from him. In other instances, he did manage to find some people that would converse. His explanation was that he became better at finding a natural opportunity to work in a conversation starter. If all else, failed he asked his target about their smart phone.

Ultimately, Steve Arnold formed his own opinions regarding the interaction  with our devices taking precedent over the interaction with other humans.  An excerpt from Connection Error:

I realize that people do use their devices to tell stories. But the version of ourselves we present via Facebook feels oddly airbrushed, a form of marketing more than a true accounting of our lives. Twitter provides a telegraphic forum for our wit, and Foursquare documents our hipster bona fides. But these apps are all about constructing a self, not revealing one.

Does all the swiping, tapping,  answering, game playing, Internet checking of our smart phones produce more introverts that become more comfortable with their solitude?  Does the interaction with a device become more enjoyable than interaction with other people?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why Plato Was Probably an Optimist

Over the years, I have rolled my eyes more times than I can count, when hearing about some new invention that is supposed to revolutionize how we live our lives.  As it turned out, a number of those ideas did, in fact,  change EVERYTHING.  Shows what I know. Regrettably, I can't undo an eye roll, can I?

For many of my readers that have read more than one or two of my posts, you have no doubt,  figured out  that I am nothing, if not,  a skeptic. Yes, indeedy, I wear my cynicism  and skepticism like other women wear chin-to-ankle Spanx.  Firmly ensconced and hard to remove.  This is especially true when someone is trying to "sell" me something.

There are so many products out there being introduced as the "must haves" and yet I find that while they may be things I would enjoy, they aren't things I require.   Oh...I might still buy them for the enjoyment factor,  but attaching  the word NECESSITY is a far stretch. 

Do I really think that most inventions that hit the market came into being because we required them?
I think Plato had it all wrong when he used the word necessity or at least it being used singularly.  I think this is more accurate.
Perhaps the Mother of Invention was a lazy, greedy mother that had some addictions.

 I have upon occasion had flashes of brilliance as far as "inventing" goes,  (mostly in the category of either hoping for wealth or needing to create a shortcut) but never went to so far as to get a patent.  Therefore, it could be said, I have no right poking criticism at ideas that others are trying to promote....but here I am doing just that.

Take for example these products: Were they necessities?

Baby duster for floors? 
If the baby duster is a complete failure
Does this cap look better than baldness? 
Complete loss of dignity is a known side effect

Thought Number One:  The Store Where You Pay to Break Things

This week there has been a number of news reports about the store front in Boise, ID where a guy is marketing the concept of  smashing things as a type of therapy.  The store called Das Breakroom was started by Tom Farrenkopf.  He charges people a fee to come in and smash things such as lamps, dishes electronics, vacuums and furniture.  The pictures show it to be an extremely "no frills" kind of operation.
The prices are reasonable (I guess) for those that feel enough rage that they need to destroy something. You can smash a single item for $3.00. Since it isn't an item from your home, I guess one could consider that as a type of savings really. 

Tom encourages people to come in for "recreational destruction".  One of the articles I read prior to writing this post had  a recent client say,  "So don't break plates at home, people.  Das Breakroom is where you need to go. Why don't more cities have places like these?" 

At $3.00 per item, Crabby Pants is figuring out the budget plan.

 As I am not in the habit of breaking my dishes or electronics due to uncontrollable rage, I don't think this is a necessity for me but perhaps, I am being short sighted.  Maybe the next "new product" will be more in demand.

Thought Number Two:  Palcohol: No more toting bottles and cans when you need a drink.

The alternatives could of been worse
There is some controversy brewing (no pun intended) regarding  the release of powered alcohol. The Alcohol, Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau had approved the release of Palcohol but then within the last few days  news came out that there was a reversal by the TTB saying that the approval was made in error. I am  shocked, of course, that a government entity would make an error but it seems that it did.  (You can go to the Palcohol website
to read more about what is going on.)

On the outside chance you haven't heard of Palcohol...it is a powered drink mix in the same vein as the kiddy fruit powdered drinks but this powder is strictly for the adults.  It turns water, juice or whatever you mix it in, into an alcoholic treat. Currently the powder comes in four flavors: Cosmopolitan, Mojito, Powderita (margarita) and Lemon Drop.

At least part of the reason you won't get to buy little packets of booze anytime soon, is that there are issues dealing with all the warnings that need to be put onto the label.  One of the items that need to be added to the label is, "this product is not to be snorted."   (Seriously,  doesn't that warning need to be put on just about every item that is for purchase...legally?)

SOOOO...who really is the Mother of Invention?  I would say she is closely related to someone at a PR firm.  I will say that at least until I come up with a brilliant idea that becomes the next must have.  Then we are good to call my invention a necessity.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Rules, Laws, Guidelines or Suggestions

Today is tax day.  Not a fun day for a lot of people, I suspect. Most of us have come to terms with it as  just  being one of the many rules that we have to deal with if we are to  live in the U.S.A.  That particular set of rules is complicated.  Tens of thousands of bureaucratic  undecipherable, conflicting, dos and don'ts and cans and can'ts. 

Rules...today I struggle with the good and the bad of rules. Not just rules, really,  but laws, requirements, mandates, suggestions...so many directives and so many gray areas.

While I usually think of myself as somewhat of a libertarian, there are days that I find myself thinking some new law or rule needs to be implemented to fix a perceived problem.  As a consummate rule follower, I also want things to be concise and make sense. I know, I know...conflicted right?  I want some rules but don't want rules that were made for just the sake of having rules. They should serve a purpose...a reasonable purpose that makes sense. 

BUT..as of late a good many things don't make sense.

Thought Number One:  Frivolous versus Important

When I was a young mother, I gauged some of what I allowed or didn't allow my children to do,  on the premise "will this action impact anyone in any negative way".  If my child wanted to fingerpaint on top of the kitchen table and was having fun doing it, was there anyone impacted or hurt in a negative way?  NO, so why not let him or her paint?  Wiping up some messy water based paint didn't bother me so, all is fine.
Conversely, I wouldn't let him or her loose with paint next to the neighbor's car.

I haven't progressed much past that. All the rules, laws, mandates etc. should have some value as far as providing a greater good for someone or something.  They shouldn't just be arbitrary just for the benefit of making people jump through hoops.

Last week, for example, I was talking to a good friend and fellow blogger, Leah, (check out her blog, Eating Life Raw)  about the fact that some writers go "ape shit" (technical term)  over bad grammar.  Out of all the things in my life, I have little care whether someone uses poor grammar.  I have the ability to ignore it.  If I read something poorly written, I could quit reading it, although in all likelihood would read it anyway.  I would It doesn't matter enough to make a huge deal out of it.

Another rule that has incensed me this week that I need to put into the frivolous category but seem to be stewing  over, is my community's HOA rules.

Last week I contacted a painter to repaint my house and he had an opening to start painting last Saturday.  Very quick turn around and I was ready to get on with it.  I sent an email last Wednesday (4/9) to the HOA architectural committee person (or at least the contact person with a link on the subdivision website) and said that I was having my house painted starting Saturday (4/12) but I was painting the house the same color that had been previously OK'd  several years ago.  Nothing is changing.  No response by Saturday so I allowed the painters to start.

Last night I get an email from the person that I had contacted, who said he is no longer on the committee but I needed to fill out the appropriate forms and send those to the association's president....which I did. I also, apologized for the delay but in all fairness, the delay is the result of my original request going to someone that no longer is involved with the HOA and he didn't contact me back until last night.

Well....This morning, I wake up to a 3 paragraph bitch-out about how there is a process that takes time and I knew the rules when I moved here..blah, blah blah.  She, also said she didn't believe that "it just occurred to me one day to paint my house" so I should of had plenty of time to work on getting the necessary paperwork done.  OK...now that just pissed me off.  How does she know that I didn't wake up last Wednesday and decide to paint my house?

 Silly her.....little does she know.... That is exactly what happened. I was talking to my daughter about who painted their house last Wednesday, I immediately called the painter and said "let's do this".  I am nothing if not impulsive.

Anyway, after getting her nasty email ....I, acting like the mature grown-up I am, shot back a equally snotty note.  (copies available upon request)   I haven't heard back yet but I am expecting a backlash. The fact that my house is half painted at this point isn't exactly bearing well on my previous statement claiming myself to be  a "rule follower", but has, instead led me down the path of when are rules important and when are rules just created to justify someone's position or driven by someone's need to impose their will on others?

Thought Number Two:  Rules that Make a Society Better

Now that I have started down that road of important versus frivolous...here comes the gray area. There are gaps between man-made rules that are bureaucratic in nature,  the societal rules that protect our rights and the rights of other, and the moral and ethical rules that make humans "decent" (some might call these god-given rules, if you follow religious teachings like the Ten Commandments) and even the rules of etiquette that just serve to make us "nicer".

What I know in my heart is that you can't mandate good behavior.  You can't  make a law or a rule that makes a person behave himself or herself.  You can only make rules that are designed to provide a good foundation for people to live in some style of harmony. That isn't how it often shakes out.
I am mired in sadness at the recklessness by people that break the "important" rules and leave the rest of us vulnerable to chaos.  This has been a difficult week in my community just as many of your communities have experienced prior to this event. (Note: referring to the shooting deaths of 3 people in my community of Overland Park, KS) Those that choose to break the important rules to the determent of others, those that  act out  on some misguided premise or maybe they are just so vile and evil they can't comprehend right from wrong.  I don't know how people think but I know that 3 people that were well loved lost their lives this week. 

There are a lot of little rules hardly worth noting but there are some rules of such importance that it's hard to believe that people would every defy them.  AND yet they do.

Off topic a bit....

Speaking of rules:  I saw this on Facebook and thought "as rules go" I could get on board with these.
Notice the reference to using "please and thank-you".

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

There's a Nap for That

Last week, I had the pleasure of keeping my two little grandsons for the week while their mommy and daddy took a trip. It never ceases to amaze me how enlightening it is to revisit  "full time" parenting of young children.   As grandparents, most of the time we are just the cheerleading squad.  We get to stay on the side lines while the parents get to do the hard work of quarterbacking, tackling, and running the field while we give them "high fives" and  "way to go".   Yay, TEAM!!!

However, every once in a while we get a taste of what it's like to really be in the game and it's interesting...and busy and exhausting.  Turns out the game is harder than a person would think. Now I know that might sound strange given the fact, I used to be a full time mom of small children but it appears that chaos is a  acclimated environment.  Yes, like plunging into very cold water.  After awhile you adapt and don't notice that you have hypothermia.  Same with parenting little kids.  When you are in the metaphoric freezing pool of chaos you aren't noticing that your limbs are falling off.

But.....perhaps I am just out of practice.   OR maybe it's that AND things have changed in the years since I had a three year old and a six year old on a regular basis.

Thought Number One:  Some Things Have Changed While Others Remain the Same

It turns out that some thing regarding care for children are about the same as it has always been.  Bathing, brushing teeth, eat your vegetables, time for bed, stay in bed, no we aren't reading another bedtime story, no you have gone to the potty 3 times now,  no you aren't thirsty, ...are you up again?....

Yes, all of that seems fairly familiar but other things...TOTALLY different.

First of all technology came visiting and decided to worm it's way into the psyche of all living beings, including the toddler and grade school set.  For example:   Riding in a car.

AHHH..remember the good ole days when you would travel with your parents and somewhere between the license plate bingo or "I spy with my little eyes" there would be a bout of "he's touching me...make him stop!"  At that point,  any parent worth their weight in "false threats" would shout via the use of the rear view mirror.  "DO I HAVE TO STOP THIS CAR?"  Ahhh..such good memories, huh?

Today you may start out playing the "my little eyes" game but today's children are at a huge disadvantage aren't they.  They are buckled into a chair that is reminiscent of torture devices that prevent them from half hanging out the window to find the object that is being spied upon.  No more laying in the back deck above the rear seat to check out the license plates for the bingo game.  Thank goodness, they have been strapped down since infancy and don't recognize the fact they are extremely uncomfortable. 

BUT as luck would have it...technology has compensated.  Now the dual screen DVR player loaded with Disney movies lures your little ones into a video induced car coma.  Bliss, pure bliss...for both the driver and the little passengers.

However there is a caveat. Twice in the week during their stay with grandma, I needed to take hubby to the airport.  This is our life..driving to and from the Kansas City airport so grandpa can travel hither and yon. The problem is that the Kansas City airport was built in the middle of nowhere to accommodate all the little towns in the middle of the country.  So while it is an hour north of  where I live, it's quite handy for the people in southern Iowa.

Knowing that children would be in the mix for this week's airport runs, I had to make sure there was a  decent movie line up for my vehicle's DVRs.(quit shaking your head...I realize this is another First World problem)  In preparation for the trip,  I give great thought to what movies might hold their attention for 2 hours.  This would of worked out really well except for the fact, Disney animated movies only last about 1.5 hours.  By the time I am 20 minutes from home, the movie has ended and we can't play any "look out the window" games...because it's dark out in the middle of nowhere.  Damn the Disney company for not developing special DVDs that last 12 hours at a pop for long trips.  Modern parenting is so complicated.

Thought Number Two:  Wrangling the Chaos

Of course, I have plenty of opportunity to see close up how my daughter and her family go about their daily routines.  Very impressive, if I say so myself, how they seem to manage a complicated schedule for two little boys that go to two different schools and both working parents work that outside the home.  They make it look easy.  Turns out it isn't...at least not when I am in charge.

I would say the getting them up, clean, sweet smelling, fed and out the door and on time to school is the easy part.  Dealing with any situation that involves other parents...TOTAL NIGHTMARE.

First morning out, I arrive at the grade school with 10 minutes to spare before the first bell rings to find cars lined up a full block back from the school.  The one way circle drive is stacked two-wide with moms that are all but shoving kids out of  "seemingly still moving" vehicles. There is a sense of urgency in the allotted time allowed for kiddos to get out.  I, however, am a novice and am not entirely comfortable at thrusting my little grandson out the door like a bag of trash tossed onto the curb. There is the added component that I am taking care of someone elses children. Maybe there would of been a time with my own kids that I would of come to a rolling stop and yelled " Last person to hit the pavement is a rotten egg" but I am overly cautious with my grandkids.

 The mom behind me was having none of it. My lack of urgency wasn't to her liking.  It didn't escape my notice as she passed me in the "unloading" lane that she gave me the evil eye.  I probably cost her an extra 3 minutes in her busy day. I am assuming it would be really bad form to flip off a mommy at the grade school so I just pretend I am senile and hope that people blame the dementia for any infractions on my part.

Speaking of  BUSY...as the week progressed, I had a chance to talk to quite a few mommies at the soccer game, swim lessons, preschool etc. and there seems to be a shift in what mommies talk about in 2014 as opposed to the early 1980s.  No longer do they talk about recipes or what's new at the mall they talk about how busy they are at work and how tired they are.

Oh...don't get me wrong.  I am sure they are tired.  I was exhausted and I was only on day 5.  How parents work the type of jobs they have today and still manage all that goes with modern parenting is absolutely beyond my comprehension.  Still it's interesting to listen in on the conversation.

It appears that whenever a group of women congregate the conversation at some point goes to the number of hours of sleep each person  in the group had the prior night. 

Tired woman A.  " I only got 5 hours of sleep last night!"
Tired woman B " I haven't had 5 hours of sleep since little Jason was born."
Tired woman C. "I haven't had 5 hours of uninterrupted sleep in 10 years." 
Woman D.         " I try to get 8 hours every night."

At this point all conversation stops and every one in the group sends a variety of looks varying from disgust to pity.  (The group is concluding that  any woman getting 8 hours of sleep is failing short in some important way.) 

As the interloper among the group, I wouldn't dare mention that while I may or may not sleep well, it's not because, of my unmanageable schedule or my hectic pace.  It's because I am on Team Grandparents and my time is my own.  Yay team!

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Following the Trend

The other day, my son and I were talking  about memes.  (Yes, the poor child seems to have a geek for a mom.)  We were talking about some of the  those various  words, "catch phrases", videos, posters...all manner of things that made their way into our collective consciousness.  Some of them have been more resilient than others and have actually become somewhat iconic.

What is it about certain phrases or ideas that plant themselves into our collective brain and cause us to want  to share and repeat them over and over?  Now that we have the ability via the Internet to spread our "cleverness" to the masses in just a matter of seconds it seems that each day brings a new "catch phrase" or some idea that everyone feels the need to hitch our reins to and ride that trend...until the next trendy idea comes along.  At which time will will quickly dismount and get on the new trend.

Definition according to the Urban Dictionary...gotta love the phrase "virus of the mind/"

It kind of makes me wonder how ideas spread so effectively prior to the Internet. How did the word "groovy" ever get in widespread use?   Were the words and images in the 1960's transferred by the media, by the music,  or by  advertisers?  Frankly, I don't remember how we all came to talk about "how cool and groovy" or "out of sight" things were....although I do remember thinking my brain would explode if one more person used the phrase "out of sight".

Thought Number One:  Conscious Uncoupling

Last week we have another new "catch phrase" in our lexicon and we can all thank Gwyneth Paltrow for getting the message out for us.  While Gwyneth, didn't come up with this bubble of brilliance, she posted it on her website, Goop, in a statement that her and her husband Chris Martin were separating...oh excuse me...they are Consciously Uncoupling.

The idea came from one of her frequent website contributors Dr. Habib Sadeghi and his wife Dr. Sherry Sami.   They have a lot to say on the subject.

A conscious uncoupling is the ability to understand that every irritation and argument [within a marriage] was a signal to look inside ourselves and identify a negative internal object that needed healing, "From this perspective, there are no bad guys, just two people," they say, expanding on the blame-free, "it's about people as individuals, not just the relationship" theory.

OK...some of that sound legit...no finger pointing, no blaming (unless, of course someone is to blame).

"Life is a spiritual exercise in evolving from an exoskeleton for support and survival to an endoskeleton. Think about it."

Oh, oh...now they have lost me!

"There's a scientific theory by Russian esotericist, Peter Ouspensky, that the creation of insects was a failed attempt by nature to evolve a higher form of consciousness.

How did insects get into this? I think we have crossed the line from new-agey to total bull****.

"Conscious uncoupling brings wholeness to the spirits of both people who choose to recognize each other as their teacher...If we can allow ourselves this gift, our exoskeleton of protection and imprisonment  will fall away and offer us the opportunity to begin constructing an endoskeleton, an internal cathedral, with spiritual trace minerals like self-love, self-acceptance, and self-forgiveness. "The misunderstandings involved in divorce also have much to do with the lack of intercourse between our own internal masculine and feminine energies.

 Maybe we should worry less about our internal energies having intercourse and worry more about who is having real intercourse and with whom.

Thought Number Two: Here comes the bandwagon.

I have been thinking a lot this week about why we ( I am including myself here) follow trends.  The "conscious uncoupling" will not be one of the trends I intend to participate in.  I am just not all that "new age-y" and still am pretty secure  in my belief that long term relationships can last a lifetime. 

 I, however, am not immune to following trends and often find it troubling to be one of the lemmings. This became especially true this week as I went to the "big company who shall remain nameless" to get the next generation of my iPhone.  (OK you iPhone haters...mock and berate me..but let's stop short of calling me an i-hole)

After installing the latest update on my  4S to the OIS 7 operating system.... it went "funky"  That is a technical term for "not working worth a damn."  So hubby and I both went to the cellular store thinking we would qualify for a discounted iPhone 5s because we were out of our contract period.   NOPE..there are no longer upgrades.  You buy your plan by the amount of media you need then you pay a fee to use a phone on that plan.  Oh..and if you want a phone you pay retail but they add it in  monthly installments to your bill. According to them, they are doing you a big favor. 

When I suggested that there wasn't a chance in hell that I would pop for $40.00 a month for 18 months to get a cell phone he gave me a number of reasons why "everyone else" thinks this is a really slick idea. At which point, my cynical side wanted to jump out of my skin and beat the man about the head...instead I went to plan B. 

Plan B is "Big Box wholesale club store.  Yes, I went elsewhere and bought the phone outright and had it activated to my "big cellular company" account.

I was thinking that I had averted a monetary crisis until I got my bill from the "big cellular company that shall remain nameless".  Turns out they didn't charge me the $40.00 per month for the next 18 months but the bill was chock full of  other surprises... all with $$$$ attached.  The phrase "one time charge" might not have had  the pacifying effect that the company hopes that phrase imparts.  GGGRRR

While I may participate in herd mentality and often follow trends...I do recognize this in itself is part of the meme  of  "This is a First World Problem". 

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