Monday, April 30, 2012

And we wait (Part 1)

From what I have learned about adoption, "wait" is a word that comes along very frequently.  When I was pregnant with my daughters, I used to joke that this was the universe's way of teaching me about patience - you just have to WAIT.  Wait wait wait...

So following the adoption fair on Saturday, we turned in our "screening application".  And now we wait to see what the agency has to say about whether we qualify for any of their programs.  We are interested in international adoption and domestic children, but in both instances - because we would prefer child(ren) over 3, we are open to some disabilities and even a sibling group - if we qualify, there may be a pool of waiting children since those kids can be harder to place.  And because our family situation has a couple issues to overcome (and I hope we will because I truly believe we have so much to offer that it outweighs any of those issues), I also put in a couple other online screening applications with other agencies this weekend - like getting a second opinion. 

And now we wait to hear what those agencies think.  It is so awful to have to put out the negatives and not really have a chance to express why our strengths outweigh those negatives.  And to accept that governmental bureaucracy (particularly a non-US governmental entity) may end our journey in a manner we find arbitrary.  But I'm breathing (in AND out) and trying very hard to believe that if there are kids out there that are meant to find their way to us, the path will show itself. 


As in 'the end' of the A to Z challenge.  I have really enjoyed it, but as has been evidenced by many of my posts, I don't always have the ability to limit myself to one topic per letter.  Sometimes it's just a series of whatever pops into my head - so away we go!

ZED is also a shout out to my BFF - a big hug to you just because!

New Zealand - how I would love to go there!  A friend visited for several weeks many years ago and sent me a pile of photos and it looks just absolutely gorgeous.  I met a number of folks from New Zealand the winter I skiied as often as possible at Whistler BC and thought each and every one of them was beyond nice and fun, and their descriptions of their home country also lured me with the concept of going camping in backcountry which has no predators (bears, big cats, etc.)  I am also fascinated by a country that has no military ... being somewhat of a pacifist myself, and terrified of weaponry, I can't quite imagine what it would be like to be in a country without the backdrop of violence. 

Zebras - one of my all time favorite animals.  I am intrigued by the idea that no two zebras are striped the same and you can tell them apart by their markings.  I'd love to spend long enough observing them to be able to make out the differences. 

Zealous Advocacy - an interesting concept in my observations of lawyers.  This is an ethical requirement but often I think attorneys think "zealous" means saying whatever ridiculous b.s. your client wants you to say, and arguing positions that have no legal merit and/or no basis in actual fact.  One of the walls I try to refrain from beating my head against, since I have no control over the behavior of others...

Zip - might be one of my favorite words.  It's just fun to say.  And the whole "zip it" part of the Austin Powers movie(s), where Dr. Evil is talking to his son, is a favorite movie clip for me (if I were really motivated I'd embed a video clip of it HERE, but I'm not that motivated today, sorry).

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y: Yellowstone

Yellowstone National Park.  It feels like I've been there - I've heard a lot about it and seen a lot of photo and video footage - but I haven't.  And I want to go.  Our National Parks are such a treasure and I really want to take advantage of them.  For all that I've seen pictures of Old Faithful and such, I'd really like to see it in person.  And I can't get enough of natural beauty and wildlife.

I read a novel recently that used as its backdrop the last round of huge fires that tore through Yellowstone (I think in the 1990s?)  It made me wish I'd been there before, so I could go again and see what effect the fire had on the ecosystems.  I'm pretty fascinated by that sort of thing.  I remember seeing a lot of footage of the Mount St. Helens area before the eruption and of the eruption and aftermath itself, and then I visited the area about ten years later and was fascinated by the moonscape appearance even then - when you looked at it from a distance, it was just gray looking and dusty with weird patterns (like the dead trees, all laying where they fell in the blast, buried under ash).  But when you walked around and actually looked at the ground more closely, there was all kinds of regrowth and even flowers.  I'm hoping to go back again the next time we're in the Pacific Northwest, to see what change the last ten years have brought.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X: X-ing

We used to play a lot of the alphabet game while driving places when I was a kid. Of course, it was terribly difficult to find signage with words starting in "x".  We had to make a few rule changes - to allow the "X" of a railroad crossing to suffice and we also kept our eyes peeled for things like school or pedestrian crossings.  Why?  Because they'd say something like School X-Ing.  I had no idea that was some abbreviation for crossing for years.   I got in the habit of calling them "exings".  My aunt was a 5th grade teacher and just thought this habit of mine was hysterical.  Never quite understood that using "x" for random words thing before...

As for other X words - I can tell you that I am way to confused about my right and left to ever play xylophone and x-acto knives scare the bejesus out of m and I haven't had a whole lot of x-rays in my life beyond the dentist and the annual mammograms.

Can't believe we've almost made it through the A to Z challenge!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

More on the crossroads...

I posted a few weeks ago about how Sean and I were perched on a precipice - considering a very big leap for our family.  That post was here

Yesterday, I flippantly wrote a post about "our" vasectomy, which included discussion of our unsuccessful quest to add to our family.  That post was here.

And today I am feeling the need to ask for a little something - support, understanding, prayer, what have you - for our flying leap. 

Here's the deal:  this Saturday we are attending an Adoption Fair by a large adoption agency in our state.  Following the open house Fair, we are going to the required "informational meeting", and then I anticipate we will be handing over our screening application.  I am so excited I could squeal at the drop of a hat (which would not be normal behavior for me).  And at the same time, there is a lot that I am nervous about.  Sean's addiction history is probably the biggest red flag that we have, and different agencies (and countries if we end up pursuing international adoption) have different requirements when it comes to major medical or addiction histories.  The more I look into adoption, the more I know this is a path I've been meant for.  And I know that adoption comes with lots of ups and downs and unexpected complications, so I am trying to remain hopeful and in the moment, rather than worrying about all the possible setbacks.  We will know a LOT more about what the future holds after Saturday. 

In the meantime, let's all breathe together:  In-2-3-4, Out-2-3-4-, In-2-3-4 ...

W: Wishing

Oh man, have I spent a lot of my life wishing...wishing for Christmas to come, wishing for some boy to talk to me, wishing I would wake up looking differently some morning, wishing my life would be different.  And I'm not exactly sure when it hit me that i was wasting so much time wishing, that I was wishing my life away.  It hit me like a ton of bricks when I realized it and it had a profound effect on my outlook.  And I changed, really I did.  Not that I never wished for anything again, but I started making a conscious effort not to neglect today, in my wishing for a better tomorrow. 

I had this attitude reinforced when I started going to Al Anon last year - the whole concept of focusing on today, and noticing the gifts in this moment, and letting tomorrow wait until tomorrow, is of great importance to recovery.  One counselor I met liked to say, if you stand with one foot ahead in tomorrow and the other foot back on yesterday, what are you doing all over today?  For those of us who work well with visual learning, that also drove the point home to me. 

So keep wishing within its daydreaming boundaries please, and don't waste the precious moment you've been given! 

W: Washington DC

I really want to go to Washington DC - hopefully during the cherry blossom season which sounds gorgeous and is before the weather really heats up for the summer.  I had the opportunity to meet a man from DC last summer and I instantly admitted my ignorance of his city and my certain misconception that it is all just urban concrete.  He assured me there is plenty of green space and residential living, just as in any other metropolitan area.  But you can't escape the fact that there is an amazing lot of United States history there, as well as world history given the Holocaust museum and the Vietnam wall.  I really hope we can go sometime in the next few years, when the kids still like us enough to spend the time absorbing it all with us. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V: Venice

In my "places I'd like to go" series of this A to Z challenge, let me add Venice, Italy.  I am fascinated by this city on the water, that is sinking further and further every year.  I expect it doesn't smell so good, fetid water and all, but I really would love to see it. The buildings and the bridges seem amazing.

V: Vasectomy (oh yes, I'm going for the TMI today!)

I have had a variety of other "v" words come to mind since yesterday but my brain settled on this lovely TMI topic and there was no getting around it.  The past year was eventful for us, in that we had a vasectomy.  I am using those plural pronouns intentionally, since (1) everyone always said "we" had two babies, when I'm pretty sure all that huffing and puffing was just me; and (2) any woman attached to a man who has had to have work on his nether regions knows that it's a joint experience whether we like it or not.  I do give my husband credit though, he whined much less than I expected him too.  Other than the 45 minute drive home, with the local anesthesia wearing off, I would say it resulted in less drama than the average head cold.

But it is a weird thing - permanent sterilization.  It took us a long time to get there.  Finally, after the fourth miscarriage in my 40s, even stubborn me had to admit that my eggs were likely past their 'best if used by' date and we were not going to be adding that long-awaited 3rd child to the family via my uterus.  I appreciate that my husband was willing to put his boys on the line for that local anesthetic office procedure, to save me having to have anesthesia and a week off work.  He didn't even really balk at it, once we knew we were ready to take that permanent step.  He's a good man (I was going to say "good egg" but thought that pun didn't really fit the occasion).

Not exactly an event worthy of our Christmas letter to family and friends near and far, but it was certainly a major event in our lives.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U: the name of the game is "UMMMM..."

A little context first - I come from a family of word dorks.  Both my grandmothers were school teachers, both my parents have teaching degrees, and my siblings and I often think we are too smart for our own good and we weren't afraid to say so.  We were raised playing Scrabble, pretty much as soon as we learned our ABC's, and it was commonplace in my teenage years for us to act as the grammar-police with each other.  The battle of the "good" vs "well" and "I" vs "me" included all three of us kids and both my parents, and we were merciless with each other. 

So, it stands to reason that when I went off to college and met two guys from South Dakota who had this dictionary-based game with which they tormented each other, I was charmed immediately.  The game goes like this:

One person, who either knows of the game or is in the presence of another game player, says - in conversation - "ummmm"
The next person interrupts with a word beginning in "um..." (like umbrella, for instance)
The opposing game player responds with another word beginning in "um..."
And so on, until someone can't come up with another "um" word.

And in the course of the game, you also have entirely sidetracked the conversation.  It's great fun!  When I joined this band of gamers, if memory servces, there were about 7 words in my dictionary starting in "um" - let's see what I can remember:  umbrella, umber, umbiliferous, umbilical,
umpire, umbria, umbrage...

I loved that game and I am happy to admit I'm a dork when it comes to stuff like this..  Now when someone says "um" in my presence, I still occasionally bark out my favorite opening word - umbiliferous.  Then there are blank stares.  It's so disappointing.  Darren and Kent, I miss you!

Monday, April 23, 2012

More T's

T is an excellent letter.  It might be my favorite letter.  Talk - I love to talk and I love it when other people talk (except about boring stuff).  Truth - I am a fan of the truth.  I have been trying (mostly in vain) to teach my kids that it is always better to tell Mama the truth.  They do not appear to be grasping it.  Testosterone - I have too much, thus the stupid facial hair that has now, in my 40s, taken a turn for horrifying as it is now WHITE.  Gack.  Telephones - despite my love of talking, I really am not a fan of the telephone.  Terrier mix - in particular, our Lucky the terrier mix.  He is a hard dog to love as a single dog parent.  My husband does not take an equal role in his care and it makes me tired about this time of the evening.  It is just ONEMORETHING on top of a busy day.  Sigh. 

Timbuktu - my daughter asked me today if that was a really city (yes) and if so, why would someone name a city Timbuktu.  I had no answer.  Anyone?  Texas - I'd love to spend some time there. Tired - as in, I am, and I am starting to ramble worse than usual, so I'm headed to the peace and quiet of my bed.  Leaving the terrier mix to my husband for the remainder of the evening. 

T: Taos, New Mexico

I would love to visit New Mexico, and Taos strikes me as a great place to start.  Mountains - check, narrow rocky mountain passes - check, warm days (in summer) but cool nights - check.  It is reported to be a community that offers lots of outdoor activities - skiing, hiking, biking, horseback riding, exploring the pueblos - and a large art community, all with the gorgeous natural backdrop.  And at that altitude, I bet there are no bugs.  Love that.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S: Sarah-with-an-H

I have an unpronounceable last name.  I long ago gave up on correcting the pronunciation and am not at all offended when people get it wrong.  A favorite story is a now-retired judge who would pronounce my name differently each time he addressed me in court.  I don't care a whit.  However, all bets are off if you spell my first name - Sarah - without the "H".  It has become somewhat of a theory with me that there is a distinct difference between the Saras of the world and the Sarahs.  And I do not mean that either is better or worse, we just tend to fall into different categories of personality.  In my anecdotal experience, the Saras tend to be more the cheerleader types - girly and bouncy and life of the party types.  The Sarahs, while also generally smart and funny and good to be around, tend to be less frilly and more, dare I say it, solid and straightforward.  Which is why I will always, and I mean always, correct you if you spell my name wrong - because otherwise you will be looking for the entirely wrong person.

And, because I can't leave the letter "S" without paying some homage to the City of My Heart, here's to Seattle.  I love it, I miss it, and as I was on the road most of the day yesterday, criss crossing the State of Minnesota but ending up in Brookings, South Dakota for the weekend, I desperately wish I'd have been on a plane to Seattle instead.  You can read more about my relationship with Seattle here.

R: Romance

Ah much art and music and literature has been written about romance. While I admit to a swoon or two in my life, I feel like such a romance buzz kill.  There has been much talk of prom and such among my work friends as the all have teenaged kids, so I've been hearing tons of teenage drama stories.  This is one situation when adults (or at least I) do a lot if eye rolling back at children. Please universe, let my girls grow up to know they can live without a boyfriend - or if she has a boyfriend, that she can live apart from him for a weekend or a week or a month!

My idea of romance seems obnoxiously simple to me, but way out of touch with the media portrayal of it.  Show an interest in me - "how was your day?" will work in a pinch but asking a question about something specific will show that you actually know something about my life...or want that's romantic.  Take some burden off my shoulders once in a while - maybe cook a meal unexpectedly or get up to walk the dog when he starts barking at 5:30a some weekend so I can stay in bed...I will feel warm fuzzies all day.  Have the oil changed in my van and the interior cleaned when I'm not expecting it...I will sing your praises to the heavens.  It seems so easy to me but maybe I'm the one with the skewed view.

and p.s.  (just for the A to Z record) I did write this yesterday but my smart phone is apparently not smart enough to handle the blogger mobile app.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sometimes I just have to say it...

This came across my email again today - I've seen it before.  I get a lot of propaganda from various political sources, not quite sure how that happened, and I don't necessarily agree with the group that included this Jimmy Carter quote - which prevented me from sharing the quote and adding my own little statement on Facebook - so instead, my blog gets to be the outlet for my commentary because today I need to say it.  So there - I love being the boss of my little blog fiefdom (as I said earlier this week).  

The quote:

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries. At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.... The truth is that male religious leaders have had -- and still have -- an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter.
JIMMY CARTER, "Losing My Religion for Equality

My commentary:

I do not want anyone, or any religious or political institution or group, to "exalt" me or "subjugate" me, and I certainly don't want any of that nonsense based on my gender.  You can admire me for anything number of things I have done or said or created, and I guess you could also criticize me for any number of things I have done or said or created.  You and I are each a human being, in my mind we have equal status in the world as a human being.  No-one should be on a pedestal or ground down underfoot.  We can each be respectful and caring toward the other human beings in this world.  Anything - person or dogma or whatever - that tries to pit you and me against each other because of some inherent categorization system that makes one human being more or less than another - one of us being deemed a Star Bellied Sneetch and the other a Sneetch Without for instance (credit to Dr. Seuss of course) - is wrong.  Period.  

Q: things I am; things I am not

Q:  Things I am:

Quick (in mind and in speech)
Quizzical/Questioning/Querying (always)
Qualitative (as in 'quality over quantity')
Queen (of my household - truly ask anyone)
Queasy (often - been prone to motion sickness all my life)
Quotation mark user (credit where credit is due, right?  But I'm not exactly sure when you should not use quotes in regular writing to set words out - only when defining?  Only when an odd word? I probably use them too much)

Q:  Things I am not:

Quick (in body - I walk normally at an ambling pace and am not at all nimble)
Quiet (I talk a lot, no doubt about it)
Quantitative (as in 'form over substance')
Quixotic (I'm not a mystery - you ask, I probably tell)
Quintuplet (nope, just a singleton)
Quack (I'm pretty competent at my profession)
Quibbling (I try really hard not to bicker over things that don't matter)
Quidditch player (as much as I love Harry Potter, the interest in playing Quidditch in real life - running around playing rugby/soccer with a broom stick between my legs - entirely escapes me)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P: Paris? Parent? Pets? Portland? People?

Today is another day where I'm having a hard time choosing a many choices and no clear winner.  So, let's just chase that stream of consciousness shall we?

Paris:  would love to see it.  Gorgeous stuff like the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame and the Louvre. 

Parent:  JT wrote a great post about parenthood today, so I'm just going to direct you back to her for that topic.  Check it out here.

Pets:  Our family currently has 3 pets.  The terrier mix Lucky, adopted just about a year ago from our local animal shelter; the "grandma cat" Rita, who was Sean's cat when we met and is now about 15; and Prince Harry, the 2 year old bully cat.  My white boxer, Ande, whose picture goes with my profile, died about two years ago now from a pituitary tumor.  I still miss my 55 pound, all-elbows, lap dog.  We have toyed with the idea of getting a middle aged bigger dog of a calmer breed to see if that would help Lucky with his ADHD but I'm not sure I can handle the responsibility of yet another member of the family.

Portland:  Portland ND - lived near there for about 6 years of my childhood; Portland OR - have visited and loved it, and it's the home of my favorite beer of all time:  Widmer Hefeweizen; Portand ME - would love to go someday.

People:  I love a lot of people, I like even more people, and overall I really care about most people...but dang if I don't wish often for the peace and quiet of being left alone! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Just hit publish on my post, only to realize I doubled up on "N"!  Totally thought I hadn't done "N" yet...ah well...I like them both, so both will stay.  Poo on the rules.

And that little goof up was also confirmation about what my "O" post would be.  But let me first warn you that I have the mouth of a sailor and have really curtailed my cursing in this blog in an effort to be more polite.  So this post is definitely into PG-13 land.  You've been warned. 

My sister is the queen of personal acronyms, in an attempt to not swear in front of her children.  An early favorite of hers was OFCOL!  (and she would say it o.f.c.o.l., not as a word), which of course meant "oh for crying out loud!"  These were not intended as texting shortcuts, mind you, but as spoken exclamations.

Recently, she has a new one - which carries the benefit of being one of those acceptable things you can say when you have started to swear (like shhhhhhhhh...ugar!).  Better yet, you can growl this one and it actually works!  OFFS! is spoken as a full word (not o.f.f.s.) and, if you haven't already figured it out, means "oh for f***'s sake".  So, thank you to my sister on behalf of myself - in my efforts to clean up my language - and on behalf of the ears of everyone else around me. 

N: Norway

My grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Norway in the 1920s, when he was about 16 years old.  He came with his mother, his brother, and his two sisters, after their father died of diabetes in his early 40s.  The family traveled to western North Dakota (aka the middle of nowhere, and a very harsh and windy nowhere at that!) where the father's brother had immigrated to some years earlier.  I suspect the widow and her 4 children were sent to the father's brother, anticipating that he would marry the widow and provide for her family.  Not sure how that all worked out, other than the widow (my greatgrandmother) never remarried.  My grandfather died when I was 23 and one of my big regrets is that I never asked him for stories about his immigration - the boat, traveling through Canada from Nova Scotia to North Dakota, etc.  I'm not sure he would have told me, but I sure wish I'd have asked.

My grandfather married my grandmother - who herself was also Norwegian but born in Minnesota.  They spoke Norwegian as their primary language and my father says he didn't learn English until he started school.  They always remained very fiercly proud of their Norwegian heritage.

My father then took up with my mother who is (gasp!) Swedish and German.  My mother said that sometime after she and dad got married, my grandfather said to her "you're pretty good for a Swede" and he meant that, sincerely, as a compliment.

Over the years, my grandparents traveled to Norway a few times, and had Norwegian visitors regularly.  My parents have done the same.  My father has re-connected with some relatives over the years and has a pretty good idea of where his family originated.

I would love to visit Norway.   A good friend of my husband's met a woman from Norway some years ago and they married and he now lives in Norway, so we have that inspiration.  Plus it is gorgeous.  Given my penchant for rocky, wild shorelines and mountains, Norway looks right up my alley.  And I would really like to see my great-grandfather's grave.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N: New York, New York

My seven year old daughter declared about a year ago that her favorite place in the world is New York.  No idea where that came from.  This same daughter last week asked me one morning if I would see my boss, Jim, at work that day.  I said I expected to.  She said "ask him if there is any chicken in the fridge".  I have no clue where that came from and when I asked her why, she said "because if there is, you should bring some home."  There is no frame of reference in our lives that explains that little conversation, any more than her declaring New York her favorite place.  We've never traveled East, we have no connections to New York, and I think she maybe just saw the  Statue of Liberty on TV, asked where it was, and then decided New York was the be all and end all of the world.  In any event, it is high on my list of travel priorities to take her to New York in the coming years. 

My friend JT chose the same topic today (read it here), and mentioned how she waited to go to NYC until she had a seasoned New York visitor to show her around.  I feel much the same.  I know there are things I'd want to see, but I suspect there are about a gadjillion things I'd love to see but have no idea they even exist.  So travel gods, please send me that New York tour guide soon!  I love musicals and would kill to see a show on Broadway.  I would love to see Lady Liberty and Central Park and Ground Zero, which I understand has the new Trade Center up to 100 stories already!  I don't think I can even comprehend the scope of New York.  An old elementary school friend lives out on Long Island and he has tried to describe the boroughs and such to me, and when he did that, I pulled out maps and pored over them, trying to grasp all the cities within the city.  And I'd love to go out to the ocean side of things and upstate New York too -  I remember the Lake Placid Olympics very well and that part of the state is gorgeous. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

One of those "yep, I'm a mom now" moments...

I have mentioned it before (and tomorrow is "N" day on the A to Z challenge, so you might just hear it again), but it is worth repeating how much I love my nieces and nephews.  My sister's girls, in particular, are just the apples of my eye.  This normally manifests itself in my constantly seeking to get together, spoiling them rotten whenever I can, telephone or Facebook conversations about what they are up to...all very positive and supportive.  But last night, I was scrolling through Twitter and found a tweet from my 16 year old niece that brought out the "mom" in me. 

She took the ACT yesterday.  And since I have taken several of those types of tests over the years, so am well aware of what a pain in the butt they are.  We had been texting about it earlier in the day - commiserating.  But then I saw her tweet about the test...long and painful, to be sure but she included the tag "#rapedme" and I had a "oh no no no no no, you cannot say that!" reaction.  My niece is extremely smart and kind, and well understands that there are things not to be used as a joke (there was a double suicide in her very small school just a year ago, for instance).  So I know she knows that certain words carry a lot of power and should not be used so flippantly - but somehow sexual assault didn't get caught in her teenaged filter!  Do I correct her on Twitter?  On FB?  By text?  I considered it all and had a text message written - but then decided I'd better rat her out to her mother first (who does not FB or twitter herself, and relies on those of us that do to tip her off if the kids cross certain lines).  She agreed with my assessment of the situation and had already called my niece before she and I finished texting about it.  I'm going to apologize for ratting her out next time I see her, which will give me an opportunity to broach the subject.

I had another parenting teenagers discussion earlier in the day when our visitors told us that their 14 year old, very pretty, daughter, desperately wanted her belly button pierced.  My first reaction was "she'll still have a belly button when she's 18", which was applauded by the father.  But the mother commented that she didn't really see the big deal, since you can take out a piercing - it's not really permanent like a tattoo - and that she had one back in the day.  Well true enough but for what purpose does any 8th grader need a belly button piercing?  And we got talking about the message put out by certain things - like belly button piercings - and whether a 14 year old can actually comprehend and weigh the pros and cons about such things.  I know I couldn't when I was a kid, but the world (and the kids) are not the same as when I was 14.

Can't hide it - I'm a mom and I don't back away from getting involved with more than just my own kids when given the chance.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M: Maine

Again with a letter that has so many choices - Mom, Men, More - several things came to mind immediately.  But I want to go to Maine and see the Northeastern coast.  It looks rocky and stark and gorgeous.  Throw in the fishing boats and the accents and it sounds right up my alley.

I always intended to drive out to the northwestern most corner of Washington State when I lived in Seattle, and plan to remedy that sometime, but I have been to the southeastern corner of the continental U.S. when we visited Key West some years back.  Get me up to Maine and I can take care of the northeastern corner, and then I'll just have one corner left - down in Baja California I suppose.

Friday, April 13, 2012

L: Lighten it up!

I sing in a regional chorale and our director told us a few weeks ago that, in listening to old recordings, we are hugely oversinging and need to lighten it up.  But when you are to get it right, it seems only natural to sing forcefully and purposefully and hit those notes as squarely as you can.  Then she says, sing the same line but make it quieter, more bouncy, and just "lighter".  Guess what?  Same notes, but the sound comes out much easier and it bounces right along.  People are musical directors for a reason, that's for darn sure.

It applies to life in general too, doesn't it?  Yes, we all try hard to do whatever it is we're doing and to do it right.  But if we just lighten up the stranglehold we have on the reins, maybe some things can just come easier and life (in some ways anyway) can bounce right along.  This is never more evident than when our family has something coming up - company coming over, or a trip, or some other event.  I have the ad naseum "to do" list in my head and I pound along, trying to get things done, and I write lists for my husband and kids, and then am never satisfied with what they've done, and then I pound some more (often with huffs of annoyance and stomping feet - it's true isn't it honey?), and eventually I work my way into acceptance.  If the company is coming tonight and "x" hasn't been done - well oh well.  We're still going to enjoy our company and hopefully they'll forgive us for whatever "x" hasn't been done and have fun with us too.  And when I reach that place, I realize I should have gotten there sooner - lighten up, move through the days a bit easier, and move along in a happier place. 

Lesson to myself:  lighten it up.   

I'm still laughing...

I have been reading my friend Anne's blogs of late - almost done with her adoption blog at Bringing Borya Home and next up will be Life at the Funny Farm archives.  I often laugh, or cry, when reading Anne's blog, but the one that will not leave my mind is the post she wrote in April 2011, after she posted about her colt being castrated.  HERE is the link to the post "Table Talk" which documents the conversation that followed about that castration post.  Check it out, you'll be glad you did.  Oh my gosh, I am still laughing.  Thank you Anne!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K: Kick the can and other "night games"...

Remember those summer nights when, after supper, somehow word just got around the neighborhood (no phones, no texts, no FB) that "night games" would be at some house or another.  And until bedtime, we'd run around with the neighbor kids, playing kick the can or whatever.  It didn't matter if we liked each other, it didn't matter if you liked the game chosen, and sometimes even the older kids joined in.  It's just what we did - virtually every night in good weather.  I'm trying to gauge whether I enjoyed it or not ... I just remember doing it, I don't really remember it being fun, but it must have been or I would have stayed in I expect.

I can't imagine that now - we don't really know our neighbors and it would be inconceivable to just let the girls take off down the street until bedtime.  We were so excited when a family with 2 children nearly the same ages as my kids moved in next door.  But then those kids weren't allowed to come and play in our yard.  I let my kids go to their yard, as long as the parent present says it's OK for them to be there, but I feel weird about it since they don't allow their kids in our yard.  And I don't think it happened all last summer, but then when I was single parenting last summer, things were different and the girls and I were pretty insular.  This year, when the kids are home with Sean all summer, I am curious whether they'll all branch out a bit.  And one of these years, they will discover the freedom that comes with riding a bike - and how far it gets you out of a parent's watchful eye. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J: Jordan Elizabeth

On the eve of my start as a mother, I am dedicating this post to my eldest daughter, Jordan.  Nine years ago right now, it was Friday afternoon and I was packing to go to a weekend conference with my husband about four hours from home.  Our first child was due on Monday, I'd seen the doctor that afternoon and was given the green light to leave town, and I packed and loaded everything into the car.  About 7 p.m., all was well and I headed out to get into the car.  One leg into the car, my water broke.  Twelve long hours later (and really I'm not complaining, and it wasn't much of a labor story compared to many others), my beautiful daughter Jordan Elizabeth was born.

Jordan will turn nine years old tomorrow.   She is smart as a whip, she has a kind heart, she is funny, and while she knows how to push every button I have, she is a joy to have around.  I feel some anxiety about being able to help give her the tools to create a satisfying life for herself, but I mostly am excited to see what the future brings my sweet girl. 

Enjoy your last day of being eight, kiddo!  I love you to the universe and back again.  Mama

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I: Infatuated? Infuriated? Inebriated? Ineffectual?

Ah, the choices that come with the letter "I". 

I miss feeling infatuated about anything.  Those rose colored glasses days when I believed thoughts like life will be perfect when... I think life would be easier if I could just slap those glasses back on and pretend things are just grand.

Instead, I often feel infuriated.  I was told yesterday, as I ranted about a case to a counterpart from another county, my "problem" is that I care.  If I could just stop caring about doing right by people, then life gets easier.  Take the easy way out, stop struggling, and let someone else 'fight the good fight.'  Instead, I often find myself beating my head against a wall, and have to find a way to bring the serenity prayer to my work (you know, have the courage to change the things I can, but accept the things I cannot change).

I would like to feel inspired.  That is truly my "I" word of the day.  This blog is a way for me to air out the marauding thoughts that fill up my head, and maybe make some sense of the really good ideas that are probably also bouncing around in there, so that I can be free to find and follow what inspires me.  Inspiration to move forward in my life, inspiration to give my children the tools they will need to find their own way, inspiration to be happy more than I'm not, inspiration to love and be loved, and even the inspiration to come to work even when I don't want to, because I do make a difference whether I like it or not. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

H: Hawaii

Wow, this was easy.  No sooner did I think "what letter of the alphabet am I on?" than I knew today was Hawaii.  I do want to go to Hawaii.  I would like to think I would wear a lovely flowered dress and sandals the entire time, with a flower in my hair.  I would make the trip up the big volcano in the early morning hours that I've heard about.  I would try body surfing or boogie boarding and probably enjoy it immensely.  Hours would be spent sitting on the beach, under an umbrella, drinking lovely drinks that come with their own umbrella, while reading good books and wallowing in the air off the ocean.  I would take my Dramamine and then acquiesce to whatever drive it takes to get me to those gorgeous waterfalls I've seen pictures of.  I would eat at a luau (but I will not engage in any hula exhibitions).  I would explore those places where the lava is still pouring into the ocean - stretches of black rock with crevasses that show the billion degree lava glowing in them. 

Sean and I had the worst wedding photographer in the history of the world for our wedding.  For God's sake people, skimp on anything at a wedding BUT the photographer.  But we lived through it by promising that we'd take a 10th anniversary trip to Hawaii and book a "renewal of vows" package that would allow us some gorgeous Hawaiian wedding photos.  This fall will be our 10th anniversary...I don't think Hawaii is in the books this fall.  And that's OK.  We'll get there at least by our 15th, I have no doubt, and we'll get those photos.  You'll know me by the flower in my hair!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Are we at a crossroads?

Some big serious discussions this weekend with the hubs...some things that have been floating around in my head for years, and have started getting weightier and weightier in recent months...I am so happy with his response and starting to feel like we are standing at a crossroads or on a precipice - just perched on the cusp of something magnificent.   That might just be what I've been waiting for all my life.  It is like riding an Aha! wave - no mere "aha moment" for me - and as I watch things maybe start falling into place, and spent all of church this morning (Easter season, everything is full of "new growth" and "hope" and "joy" and "promise") with tears in my eyes.  My heart feels like it is swelling to encompass everything surging through my life and mind right now.  Crazy how this can happen ... like maybe it's been brewing and maybe I have quieted my mind enough for it to break through.  I am not going into any detail right now since I don't know quite what will come of everything, but these feelings were a bit too much not to share - when I am ready to leap, rest assured you'll be hearing about it! 

G: Good enough

I will give a shout out to my runners up for the letter G - I would love to go to Greece (first international locale I recall ever wanting to visit), my absolutely favorite color is Green, and I absolutely love Giraffes.  But they were overridden by the chosen topic "good enough" this morning.  This is honestly the overarching theme of my life.  Let me give you a perfect example...

We took a road trip yesterday and got home late.  Kids were sleeping in the van, so had to schlep them into the house and get them to bed, take the neglected ADHD terrier out for a walk and give him some love, and we were tired.  Moreover, there had been not a lick of Easter basket preparedness in our house - with the exception of 2 bags of candy I knew were tucked away.  And today is Easter Sunday and the kids had been talking about Easter baskets and what the Easter bunny would bring etc.  We had purchased some treats on our trip, and I had suggested on our way home that perhaps we could put that in our baskets and leave a note for the Easter bunny that we had it covered and he/she could save the extra candy for someone else.  Anyhow, by the time we got home, the kids didn't think of fishing out the Easter baskets from the closet and I was too bloody tired to care.  So, I pulled out 2 bowls, put some of the jelly beans and malted milk eggs from the stashed bags in them, concocted my cover story, and called it a night.  The cover story is, having seen no baskets, the Easter bunny had to make do with what he/she found in the kitchen to leave some candy.  My kids will accept it - we have very practical magical visitors in this house.  Good Enough.

I am this way about most everything.  I am not a clean person by any stretch but really, if the floors and counters underneath the clutter are sanitary, and the bathrooms are clean, it is good enough for me.  At least until company comes. 

With school work back in the day, I had law school friends who would be up all night working on papers and other assignments - tormenting themselves editing and re-editing things.  I have long held to the firm belief that if I haven't learned it by 11 p.m., the damage done to my brain by not sleeping will be more than anything I might cram in after 11 p.m.  Kind of a diminishing returns argument.  And I did well in school - but way more of a B+ student than an A student for that very reason.  Good enough. 

I push a little harder at work, since after all I am directly affecting the lives of children, but it doesn't ease my stress to be freaking out over something right up until we walk into the courtroom or file the brief.  At some point I accept that what I've done is good enough and I am as prepared as I'm going to be and deep breathing will get me much farther than reading that book or paper or case one more time.

And then there is the message of recovery.  Good enough is probably not quite the Twelve Step message but certainly Today is Enough is.  Learning, and practicing, the idea of being present in today, in this moment, and having that be enough to think about, is a great one.  It's easy to do that in the springtime days of life - all around is hope and potential and sunshine.  Where I need to practice more is doing it in the gray, sloggy days of life, when it seems to be good enough just to put one foot in front of the other and get through the day.  I'd like to find more of the beauty in days like those. 

As Stuart Smalley (an SNL alter ego of my U.S. Senator Al Franken, who I admire) says:  "I'm good enough.  I'm smart enough.  And gosh darn it, people like me."  It's true in my life, and it's really enough for me. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

F: Fremont

One of my favorite fantasies, after a particular trifecta of nastiness like I've had lately, is to picture myself leaving work, driving the airport, flying to Seattle, and spending a weekend going to old favorite haunts and breathing deeply of the home of my heart.  Oh I wish. 

One of my favorite places to go in Seattle was the Red Door in Fremont. It was one of the first places I ever went to taste "good beer" and it remained a go-to kind of place for me the whole time I lived there.  Unfortunately, after the earthquake in the early 2000s (was it 2002?), the original building was damaged and the Red Door moved to a new location a few blocks away.  I haven't been to the new one - it wasn't open yet when I visited the first time after the earthquake and we didn't go there for some reason when Sean and I visited in 2010.  Fremont itself was (and I believe still is) a very cool neighborhood in Seattle.  Funky shops and artists...that sort of thing.  Right up my alley, even though I am neither funky nor artistic.  Come as you are and fit right in no matter your personal style.  Love it.  I miss it. 

Can I have a Widmer Hefeweizen please?

Just the words or beyond the words?

I have never been good at getting the "meaning" behind the writing.  This became crystal clear to me in my freshmen comp class when we had to read some random story and then write a little paper on some question provided by the professor.  I read the story, then the question "discuss the importance of the characters' hats".  My first thought?  "The characters were wearing hats?"  It was a long day that day (and I'm sure a very bad paper). 

The fact is that I read the words and I follow the plot.  I have an extremely hard time with the "book club type questions" often found in the backs of books since Oprah started touting her picks and book clubs in general.  I can also track some between the lines activity - hints left by the author in a mystery, for instance, or what a character might be saying without words.  But the deeper meaning?  Not usually apparent to me.

I have written poetry in my life.  And I get that the words and the way I put them together can evoke a feeling or a picture in my mind beyond the words. I suspect those images are probably unique to my brain, when I read my writing.  I do not have the same reaction when I read poetry or prose by others, at least most of the time.  Is that typical?  I don't know.  At least I get the idea, even if I can't usually sense the image myself. 

These thoughts all came today as a reaction to my daily calendar "Seize the Day" reading from yesterday, which says: 

"Sense the pulse and song of the day as it unfolds and creates the music in your heart." -RP-

Logically, I read the words and sense that the "image" meant to be conveyed is that each day is unique and you should pay attention, but the poetic image I'm sure the author intended is lost on me entirely.  And without that sense of image, I tend to read the words and discard them.  And it seems that even as I realize this, and slow down to read and imagine the intended image, the phrase is still nothing to me.  I can't seem to create the image if it isn't there to start with...what do you make of that? 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E: Edinburgh

I had the good fortune to travel to Scotland in 1998 with a friend.  We were both in graduate school, her brother was working in Edinburgh and invited us to use his flat and his car, and so away we went.  We spent 18 days there - a few days in the Highlands but the rest exploring Edinburgh and sites within day-trip distance away.  It was May, so the weather varied from sunny and warm to cool and drizzly.  I loved everything about the city of Edinburgh and would visit again at the drop of a hat.  My friend and I had some differences of opinion as to our travel agenda, so there are dozens of things I would like to do in the city that we didn't do then, and dozens more things that I'd like to do again.  What I'd really like to get a feel for is how this ancient city, built upon an even more ancient city, is also a modern and vibrant city.  I saw lots of the old (we were staying just a block or so off the Royal Mile) and would love to tour around the entire city and get a feel for the modern part.  And I want to hike all the way up to the top of Arthur's Seat - we made it part way and I can't recall why we didn't go to the top.  And by golly, I'd spend days and days in the Highlands in and around Inverness - what a marvelous place.  I only spent a few hours at Culloden Moor but it gave me goosebumps (it might have had something to do with the strikingly gorgeous Scot in kilt with all the trimmings, running the tours which I was too short of time to attend, too).

One of the most striking memories of my trip was not in Edinburgh itself, but on one of our side trips.  We drove over to the western coast to take the ferry to the Isle of Mull.  There is a castle out on Mull and the shoreline is rocky and starkly beautiful.  I love Celtic crosses and took dozens of photos on the trip of all the various crosses I saw - on statutes, on park benches, in cemeteries.  From the ferry we saw a HUGE cross.  So as we walked up the wooded road to the castle on Mull, I realized that the cross we saw must have just been down the hill and through the woods from where we were walking...and so we followed a path down toward the shore.  We went by a house and came to a pasture that appeared to include the part of the shoreline we were looking for.  So, seeing nothing about, we went into the pasture and continued toward the shore.  And there was this huge Celtic cross right next to that rocky shoreline.  It was a grave - Mary Murray was the name on the cross.  I'm sorry I don't remember what her dates were - I suppose it might be visible from the photos we took.  What a gorgeous place.  I think of Mary Murray from time to time, wondering about her and who put up this beautiful monument to her.  I joke now that I merely expect a ten foot high Celtic cross with my name on it at my gravesite...

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D: Deep Sea Diving

As I was pondering what D location to post about today, I read JT's description of Doran Beach, CA, here and decided I would love to visit Doran Beach - her pictures and description were wonderful.  I love Northern California and the ocean and I would very much like to invite JT to join me on the beach for some walking and talking and other "sand in our toes" sort of activites. 

But instead of using Doran Beach as my topic, I decided to go back to the original thought I had when the letter D popped into my head today - deep sea diving.  I would love to try it.  It would mean facing a few fears, that's for sure.  There is the fear of all things hiding in that deep blue...but there is also the fear of being deep under water, trusting a tank of oxygen to keep me alive. From reading some of my posts, one might suspect I'm a fearful person - that is not true at all.  Or at least not true to the observer and honestly I don't think of myself as fearful because I can force myself to do some stuff that scares the bejesus out of me.  The contradiction is that I sometimes force myself to do things that scare me willingly, because I so much want the experience.  Another good example would be bungee jumping - there is a bridge in British Columbia that has a bungee jumping outfit, or at least they did some years back.  I saw video of some folks doing it once and just so badly wanted to do it.  My friend Bryan said he'd go with me, but his wife (also my dear friend), who may have been pregnant at the time, vetoed that particular conversation from going any further.  I truly believe if I had the opportunity, I would find a way to force myself off that bridge, just so I could say I did it.  I suspect I would feel the same if the opportunity came to go deep sea diving.  I don't want a cage, I don't want to just snorkel - if I'm going to do it, I want to get out there and DO IT.  It is hard to explain how weird it feels to write that, while the hair on the back of my neck goes up gets all prickly as the shudder runs down my back. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C: Cairo

Cairo, Egypt definitely falls into the category of "places I would go if I could go anywhere in the world", but it also makes me hasten to add the clause, "if I could go there safely".  I'm not sure about Egypt these days, in terms of safety of travel, but since we're talking about dreams here, I won't worry about that right now.

I would love to see the pyramids and tombs and experience the markets and culture. I admit I would be looking hard for Indiana Jones while there too! I would love to take a boat up the Nile.  I have been fascinated with archaeology since I was a kid and would love to see what a real dig looks like.

What is funny to me is the contradiction that I, the woman who prefers cloudy drizzly weather over sunshine, and prefers climates that don't rise above 80 degrees, would dream of visiting the desert.  But then any climate is do-able when I'm on vacation!

Monday, April 2, 2012

B: Boston

I have done a bit of traveling but I have never been to northeastern parts of the U.S.  I would very much like to tour Boston and see all the sights, historic and otherwise.  I would love to take one of those self-guided audio tours, so I can walk around at my own speed and hear the stories as I go.  I also love the idea of sailing ships and harbor activities, and at least in my mind (which I will admit has limited geographic knowledge) that is also a big part of Boston. 

Mostly it is a city I'd like to see because I would like to know what else it is ... I am feeling really stupid, like I'd better do some googling before I publish this post, since I can't really list anything else about Boston.  The Red Sox are there...Harvard is there (I only know this thanks to Good Will Hunting, thank Matt and Ben)...people talk funny (I can say this because you all remember the movie Fargo and how everyone in your movie theater laughed at everyone's accent?  Yeah, that's how I talk - seriously)...what else is notable to Boston?

Random questions I pirated from another blog...

In visiting a few other A to Z Challenge bloggers today, I came across the Jenny Hansen Blog and a post that challenged her with 11 questions.  And those 11 questions were awesome!  I am intrigued by weird questions, so of course I wanted to write a post with my answers to those questions.  There were rules, though, and I am not much of a rule much like Jenny Hansen, I am choosing to answer the questions, and then allow any readers the freedom to tag yourself, if you are so inclined, and write yourself a post...follow the rules or don't.  Those are my rules. 

First, the rules (in case you opt to play by them):
  1. You must post the rules. :-)
  2. Answer the questions on your blog. Create eleven new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
  3. Tag eleven people and link to them.
  4. Let them know you’ve tagged them.

The 11 Questions:

1. What is your favorite historical period and why?

I would not choose to live in any other time period, let's just get that straight right from the top.  However, I love to read about the early American years - the settling of the great West in particular.  Sometimes when we are traveling I try to imagine what the Midwestern world I've always known looked like in the 1700s and what it would be like to move west and never see your family again, even though you might have only been 100 miles away. 

2. List your top five favorite movies.

Oddly enough, I only have to change one from the list Jenny Hansen made!  She clearly has good taste in movies!
  • My Cousin Vinnie (taught me more about real Civil Procedure than my entire year of Civ Pro in law school)
  • When Harry Met Sally (taught me that romances may come and go but friendships can be forever)
  • The Princess Bride (just the best, on so many levels - even my kids quote it now!)
  • The Shawshank Redemption (best escape story ever)
  • The Wedding Singer (makes me laugh every time - and is the source of my favorite quote of all time:  "information that would have been useful YESTERDAY!")
3. Your house is on fire. Your loved ones–humans and pets–are already safe outside. They have your driver’s license and a flash drive with all your backups (files and all the media you own). You have time to save one more object. What would you get?

Oddly enough, I expect I'd be too busy holding my kids and trying to breathe to even think about anything else.  Sure there are "things", but nothing that would inspire me to run back into a burning house. Which makes me wonder why I have so many things, and so much clutter, if none of it means much to me. 
4. You can invite any three people in the world for a dinner–anyone alive. Who are your guests?

Dezra, my lifelong friend; Kelly, the Seattle friend I made after I left Seattle; and Nancy, my favorite Seattle friend.   And I would have to put on Depends because I know I would be laughing myself silly and wallowing in the presence of three women who I don't see often enough but who I am attached to for life (whether they like it or not!)  

5. Congress/the gods/smiling extraterrestrials said you can only have one type of food every meal for the rest of your life (they’ll supplement your diet with vitamin pills). Which food would you choose?

Baked Cheetos.  Does that count as food?  If not, then I will go with bread, since I love everything about bread!

6. In an episode of “Friends”, they all reveal their freebie list: 5 celebrities with whom they can hook up without upsetting their partners. Who’s in yours?

Mark Harmon...Mark Harmon...Mark Harmon...Mark Harmon...and Mark Harmon. Did I mention Mark Harmon?

7. (Huge spoiler alert.) Some people think the Hunger Games is bloody. In Harry Potter 6, fifteen characters die. In HP7, the body count is over fifty (see here). JK is rewriting the series, and she let you choose one character from any of the seven books to get a reprieve. Who would it be and why?

Sirius Black.  After all those years in Azkaban, he deserved some years of a happier life. George Weasley being a close second.

8. What’s your worst fear?
Sharks.  Long standing phobia dating back to (1) being a flatlander who never saw the ocean until I was almost 30; and (2) seeing Jaws at about age 10.  I am scared of all the dangerous stuff in the oceans, to tell you the truth, and the idea that you'll never see it coming until it GETS YA!

9. You can choose your own nickname, with an assurance that no one would ever mock you. Tell us your choice.

Remarkably, I have had very few nicknames in my life.  The only one, used by a select few folks to this day, is Wah - which came about through a very odd, long, inside story.  Works for me.

10. What’s the best vacation you have ever had?

I spent 18 days in Scotland some years ago.  With no real agenda and the chance to just wander around and see what we felt like seeing.  I loved the country, the people I met, and everything I saw.  I would go again in a heartbeat.  Since having kids, vacations are great but even a long weekend is a lot more work than that 3 weeks in Scotland.  I miss that ease.
11. Congress/the gods/smiling extraterrestrials said you must move to any fantasy or sci-fi setting (books, movies, videogames, rpgs) of your choice—permanently. Where would you go?
A small beach house, with food and housekeeping services, on a white sand beach (lets make it a nice, shark-free, cove, shall we?).  Preferably with a mountain range out the other side of the house.  With good wi-fi.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A: Alaska

I responded very poorly to the NaBloPoMo challenge in February, so I'm hoping to do a little better with the A to Z challenge for April. 

My "A" thought for today is that I would love to visit the State of Alaska.  I have a friend who moved to Anchorage some years back.  She is very active in environmental politics and loves the backwoods kind of life, and met her soul mate there, so her Facebook posts and emails are full of camping trips that involve protective gear like electric fences and large caliber weapons.  Her daily walks with her dogs involve dodging moose and keeping an eye out for bear.  And this year, she and her husband are busy clearing ten or more feet of snow from their roof so that their house doesn't flood in the spring thaw.  I would love to see in person the world she describes - though I'll leave the backwoods camping trips to braver souls than I. 

I would love to take the inside passage up along the Alaskan coast.  The coastline and the wildlife sightings sound amazing.  Watching video of glaciers "calving" is amazing and I can only imagine what that would be like in person.  The northern lights are fantastic and I'm sure Denali National Park is beyond anything I can imagine. 

Yep, Alaska.  One day.

A touch of politics

I have always abhorred politics - wherever it appears in my life.  I have never ever wished to involve myself in state or national politics and often feel a grand sense of apathy in election years.  I have been heard to say many times that I don't believe I have a voice - at least in national and possibly statewide politics (read: elections) and I never really gave any thought to being involved in lawmaking, which is certainly another level of political hell. 

Last year, a particular bill came up in our state legislative system that just offended me to no end in its practical application - it was related to my employment and it was just so stupid that I volunteered to be on a small response committee from a professional group of which I am a member.  The bill didn't really go anywhere last session, so I never had to attend any meetings with legislators or any hearings.  But then this year, another bill came up that also was just wrong and it was again very apparent that the folks writing this crap knew nothing about my job and what they would be doing to the system in which I work.  And I was even more irritated that none of my professional colleagues seemed to take up the torch.  And so I did.  I wrote my first letter to a political representative, lobbied to other professionals in our community and in other related areas, and was prepared to attend a hearing and testify if needed.  To my great relief, the bill writers announced they were removing the bill language from consideration before the hearing, so I didn't need to do any of that.  But what a freakish experience - to realize that this professional persona of mine is the kind of person who can speak to things, who can point out the "wrong-ness" of a proposal, and who can talk with authority on certain subjects.  And even more of an out of body experience was to realize that I would be willing to do so!  And that other professionals in my arena might look at me as someone who can participate in such a role.  Where is my apathy? 

Don't get me wrong - I am not drawn to the political world in any way.  I am disgusted by it in so many ways.  But it seems I have discovered the potential of having a voice - albeit a small voice in a particular niche.  I must have read Dr. Seuss' The Lorax to my kids a thousand times and we just saw the movie remake recently and the closing line in the book has always made me pause:  "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not."
Ain't that the truth.  I'm just not sure I have the stomach for this particular gig.

Philosophy for 3rd graders

The girls and I took a long car drive yesterday and, because I am a well seasoned motion sickness veteran, who has too many times heard "Mom, my stomach feels funny..." from our backseat, only to enjoy the view of one or the other child spewing as I turn around to respond, I confiscated the electronics about halfway and declared that it was time for the girls to watch out the window for a while.  Surprisingly, we had a great conversation about our recent vacation and discussed the possibility of one or more future vacations in upcoming years.

And then my nearly nine year old, 3rd grade daughter asked about something she has heard - is it true that the world is going to end in 2012, Mom?  The reality is that I rarely pay attention to apocalyptic crap - I'm not going to waste my life worrying about the end of the world.  But I think I was correct when I explained to her that an early civilization (Aztecs?) had the earliest or one of the earliest known calendars and that calendar ended in December 2012.  And then I explained to her that people have a choice - you can live your life, and do your best to live your best life, or you can live in fear of the end and what comes (or doesn't come) after.  And as many kids do when they ask a deep question, she listened to what I said, she nodded, and then she proceeded to talk about where she'd like to go in 2013.  I guess she's decided her "apocaplypse plan" for the time being.