Tuesday, December 29, 2009

my two cents for the New Year

I have always liked making New Years Resolutions. It is like a game plan or a to do list. I like knowing what is expected of me before I start and this is a way to know what I should be doing in the coming year. In some ways I like making the list more than I like doing what’s on the list. When we used to drive to Kansas for Christmas I found that driving back across the barren plains and into the dreary land of enchantment until finally sloshing into the home land was fertile ground for me to brood and daydream, contemplate and deliberate waxing back and forth between the focus. I found inspiration just being in my mom’s well organized, well run home. But we don’t make that drive anymore since part of what attracted us to go to there has decided that wintering here makes more sense. So now I must come up with my list amidst the hustle and bustle of city life.

As I seemed to be having some difficulty this year I was pleased to hear Andy Rooney’s take on New Years. Like Andy, my New Years Resolutions are simple. I lost weight in 2009 so now I resolve not to gain it back. Always on my list is to become more organized. It is always there and probably always will be. I usually sort through and get rid of enough stuff through out the year that I don’t feel defeated (much), but I never quite manage to get the job done and keep it in check. Health and self improvement are a biggie for me but it is more of a hobby so I don’t think it needs to be on my list.

I asked the kids what is one thing they would like to accomplish in 2010. For Allison, to graduate. She is right on track to do that in the spring. Drew said not to get behind on his school work second semester. (and the mom broke out in song and dance for joy-quietly) Both very attainable.

Which got me thinking. Maybe that is what we need to focus on, the attainables. The accomplishable,  gettable, obtainable, possible, probable, procurable, reachable, realizable, securable. Pick your word-able. The one thing that we know we can do. Maybe we should be like Paul in his letter to the Phillipians. Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is a head. I press on… Philippians 3:13-14. Yes, I can do that. I can press on. I press on to do what I have been gifted with abilities to do. I press on to develop into the person God created me to be. I press on to never stop learning. I press on to nurture 2 of God’s greatest creations. I press on to live fully the life that has been given to me. I press on to be available and open to new areas of service. I press on. Not resting, but ready and available to live. Grandma Moses said “ Life is what you make of it. Always has been, always will be.”

"Over the years I have developed a picture of what a human being living humanely is like. She is a person who understands, values and develops her body, finding it beautiful and useful; a person who is real and willing to take risks, to be creative, to manifest competence, to change when the situation calls for it, and who finds ways to accommodate what is new and different."
-- Virginia Satir, American social worker and educator, 1916-1988

Monday, December 28, 2009

Reflections and Emotions

It has been 6 years now since the kids father and I were together. I tend to loose track of time but I can remember this because on the first Christmas we were apart I started a tradition to take the kids to a special Christmas Eve dinner. The first year was at the Arizona Biltmore where you could order s’mores for $10. Money was tight and my financial future was unreliable so I couldn't afford dinner but wanted to create new memories. The lobby was decorated immaculately and as we found a corner to have the kids open a small gift from me we walked past the families where there was a mom and dad together and I felt a sting but at the time I am not sure I knew what it was or the significance of it. Besides I had to be strong and it was easy since I was fostering so much bitterness.

Each year has had it’s own special meaning. Had I been blogging and writing as each year passed I would probably be able to look back and see the trail I have been forging. No matter how many books and articles you read, well-meaning friends advice your receive on divorce, you are never prepared for the affect divorce has on you and your children. Divorce is hell and it hurts and it is ugly and sometimes you want to forget and so you make yourself remember why it took place.

Some years I was so angry at the kids father and worked hard to hide the loathing I felt for him. Some years I was more reconciled and realized all over again as if it was a new revelation, that it is what it is and IT is. Some years I have been flooded with memories of the better times in my years of being married.

For a couple years I have wanted to take the kids to the Phoenix Hyatt Compass Restaurant. To be able to revolve high above the ground and see the skyline of Phoenix seemed a perfect Christmas Eve gift. This seemed to be the year because the obstacles kept me from planning it before were gone. The menu obstacle; Compass changed their menu this year and Drew has become more adventurous in his eating and I was sure he would find something he would like. The financial obstacle; I adjusted the budget this year so I had the means to spend what I knew it would cost to go there. I even splurged on valet parking! The emotional obstacle; I had been to the Compass a few other times but never without my ex-husband. Certainly, after being married over 20 years there are a lot of places that I go that I was there with him at one time or another. But for some reason this place caused the butterflies to take flight in the pit of my stomach. We had a lovely time. The evening seemed to be perfect and even when Drew asked if I had been before I was able to tell him the circumstances of my previous visits all which included his dad.

Allison was house sitting and we dropped her off on our way home from dinner. When Drew and I got home he decided he wanted to stay up. I felt tired but I needed to wrap gifts and get things ready for morning. But soon nothing was going right. We didn’t have scotch tape and had to resort to using bits of packing tape. I had been so sure of the gifts I had purchased but at that moment I felt unsure. I had started to fall back into the pattern of obsessive perfectionism the day before when I was formatting our Christmas letter. And here it was rearing it’s ugly head. Drew was being so sweet, anticipating the day ahead as midnight drew near. As he was helping me wrap he asked innocently “what gift do you want to open first”? The tears silently streamed down my face. I told him there wouldn’t be gifts for me to choose from as I explained Allison had given me her gift early and grandma and grandpa’s would probably come in an envelope. I explained that it was okay but I didn’t know how to tell him that it wasn’t the gifts or his question that was bringing the emotions front and center, but the realization that I am feeling very alone. That sometimes I get so very weary of being the sole decision maker for our family and all that comes with it. Or that one day he and Allison would have busy lives that won’t intersect with mine on a daily basis.

The melancholy that I was immersed in was my companion Christmas morning. Allison overslept, and I had not been able to reach her and I was making the breakfast casserole alone. We decided since it was so cold and my mom wasn’t feeling well that they should wait to come over until Allison arrived. I couldn’t shake the feeling and worked to keep my snarky attitude at bay as those expected arrived and we started opening gifts. As almost a way to put the exclamation mark behind my depressed feelings I was able to bypass the only wrapped gift that had my name on the tag and keep it under the tree until it was the only gift left. My mom asked when was I going to open something and I explained that Drew’s gift was there and Allison had already given me hers.

My mood lifted or maybe I was able to push it aside as I finished lunch preparations. Allison was finishing a Christmas present she was making for someone, Drew was exploring his new gifts, and we were all visiting. Allison had given her grandpa oatmeal raisin cookies made with her great grandma’s recipe. Dad told the story about coming home from school and every day his mom would have baked something. One the days she made cookies, he and his brother would put a few in their pockets for a snack while they were out doing their chores.

By mid afternoon the kids had left to see their dad. Mom and dad had headed home to take naps and I became aware of my utter exhaustion As I laid down on the couch to nap I realized that had I not been exhausted some of these emotions and feeling that had so freely roused themselves probably would not have had the liberty to do so. As painful as they were, I am glad they did and thankful I didn’t have to justify them or pacify them.

The Christmas Eve tradition that was started 6 years ago is not only a gift that I give my children but it is also a gift I give myself. This Christmas was filled with 2 other very special gifts both given Christmas Eve. The first was from Allison who verbalized for me what I didn’t know but is in my heart, when she said that she realized that the planning and surprises that I do for our Christmas Eve outing is a gift to me. She is so wise. And later when Drew was heading up the stairs to go to bed, he turned around and said “mom, I think I finally get the true meaning of Christmas”. And I cried.

A well-meaning friend once said, after I told her about another weekend I had participated in with Beginning Experience (for those dealing with the loss of a loved one because of divorce or death), “oh, I thought you’d be over your divorce by now”. No, it isn’t something you get over. But you change, grow, discover, make new and eventually become new.

And with a grateful heart I say, thank you and bless you!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Life of Furniture

Allison and I have now reached a new pinnacle. I declare that we will stop at nothing or stoop too low when we see a piece of furniture with a glimmer of a future. As providence would have it, on Saturday morning after Allison and I had been to a couple Goodwill stores and found nothing noteworthy (well, except for the fanny pack Allison needed to top off her Halloween costume, oh and I can't forget the bird pictures that are very Audubon Society worthy which I got for $6), we were heading home. We both needed to go to Sunflower Market to get edibles to take to our respective parties later that evening so although we were heading home we turned and flipped a u-turn on a side street. All of the sudden my well trained eye's spied a blue chair just hanging out in the alley. Since we had passed where it sat, I looked at Allison who without hesitation said "TURN AROUND".

We expeditiously darted past the blue chair as we spied an amazing desk, nightstand, chair and a sundry of other objects. We are standing in a dirty, dusty, grimy alley, hoping we wouldn't encounter anyone. We decided to save a nightstand, chair, a tray and 2 table leaves from the landfill and take them home with us. After a brief discussion we agreed that although we had a keen interest in the desk we would need to rely on the aid of someone with a truck to get it home and maybe it would be wise to let that decision simmer a while.

Once again, as fortune would have it (so to speak), the party I went to was hosted by a couple with not one truck but two trucks. The host, Michael has moved a piece of furniture for us before and is a good sport about it asking if I had any moving that needed to be done. I wasted no time in soliciting their help, which they graciously provided with the results are below.

You may look at these pictures and think we should have let the landfill have them. But as we like to say (it makes us feel like we know what we are talking about), the bones are good, cosmetically they leave a bit to be desired but hey, the bones are good. You should see the hardware on the nightstand!

So at the end of the day, we have used a mega amount of Clorex wipes and Murphy's Oil Soap. We have vacuumed and cleaned until we are confident that anything that might have deposited a germ on any one of these prized finds has now been annihilated. Hands are dry, nails are cracked, back is sore and I am so darn excited about our back alley booty. Stay tuned, I'll keep you posted on the transformations.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Had I Known...

...that everyone has something admirable about them. I would like to think I would be less judgmental of others.
...that everyone has flaws and issues. I would like to think I would be less judgmental of myself.
...that everyone just wants to be heard. I would like to think I would talk less and listen more.
...that everyone just wants to be understood. I would like to think I would perceive and accept more.
...that everyone just wants to be acknowledged. I would like to think I would be less selfish and affirm more.
...that life is neither just or unjust. I would like to think I would understand that life is both and it is what I do with both that matters.
...that the days would go by so fast and that they turn into months which turn into years. I would like to think I would savor the moments more.
...that so quickly I would wake on the brink of 50. I would like to think I would pay better attention to what I was doing the first half of my life.
...that I enjoy so many aspects of being alive. I would like to think I would live more, laugh more and be mopey less.
...that I am smarter than I think I am. I would like to think I would try more things out of my comfort and let my cage be rattled occasionally.
...that feelings are okay and are fleeting when you allow yourself to feel. I would like to think I would repress less and give myself more freedom to acknowledge my feelings.
...that I am a good mom. I would like to think I would be less uptight about the little things.
...that 10 minutes to child is a very long time to wait when they have a nugget to share. I would like to think I would say, wait until I get done, less often.
...that money isn't the end all goal just a means. I would like to think I would value the things money can't buy more.
...that I am beautiful. I am not a one dimensional being and beauty is so much more than what we see. That being beautiful is really about the inside and not the outside. I would like to think I would accept and appreciate the true me, and not harangue myself because I don't always look or act or think the way my preconceived prejudices say I should.

But quite simply, we live life each moment, the way we know at time we are living it. I hope to pass on to those who are in my sphere of influence a whisper of what I have learned. But once again, the truth is, that each person lives their own life the way they know to live it at each moment they are living. And when you think about it, we are living, a new dramatic serial, however it isn't written by a team of Hollywood writers. We can't strike out a scene or a line that doesn't fit in the current plot. Still we can find the preciousness in each scene.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


“Cynthia”, you may ask, “where did you get that stunning necklace?"

Cynthia answers, “I made it myself after being inspired by one I saw on J. Crew website.”

“What!” you say, “you made it?”

“Why yes, out of repurposed jewelry.”

What a clever term “repurposed” is. But what exactly does it mean? So glad you asked for you see according to dictionary.com, it quite simply means to use or convert for use in another format or product. I adore that concept. In my book it is notch above recycling and I love recycling. Hence a new hobby - upcycling.

I must give credit to my darling daughter though. She is my inspiration, the one who got me to change my terminology back to saying “crafts” instead of “crap” every time I spoke the word. I used to be quite the crafter. I could cross stitch, knit, weave baskets, make bows, oh the list goes on and on. I suspect I may have leftover materials for a Battenburg Angel or two. But I took a much needed break, a bit of hiatus so to speak, in order to once again appreciate the art of crafting. Crafting has seemed to take on a life of its own with many bloggers and tweeps that post regularly about their latest crafting find or creation. And I am noticing that they seem to be young people, which is very fun. I can’t wait until one of the young crafters gives the crafting world a new take on the crocheted toilet tissue roll cover. Allison is one of those new young breed of crafters. Give that girl a piece of clothing and she can make something new in no time. You need a skirt but only have a mens button down shirt. Have no fear, give Allison an hour and you will have your new skirt. She sees potential to upcycle everywhere.

That is why we know where every Goodwill store is in the greater Valley of the Sun and have visited a good portion of them. Yes we have been to Sun City, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and we may have even stopped at one in Glendale, but that day I was punch-drunk from all the stops we had made. And yes we have found the treasures. At a Goodwill near our house I am starting to believe one the sales clerks now recognizes us. I fear that will soon be the case at the new store that recently opened, and by recently I mean a week ago. You see it can be quite memorable when we are gazing at the jewelry case. We have a method: Allison starts on one end and I start at the other and we painstakingly go through each tray to see what treasures are waiting to be unearthed. We work with finese as we give a quick glance through the articles that are purely not what we are in the market for. But you never know when you are going to pick up a piece, which gives you cause for a pause, and there it is, a spark of inspiration.

On $1 sweater and $1 denim day, we were almost beside ourselves with the finds that existed in abundance. Once again, you may ask “WHY?" And I would answer, “because we are felting the sweaters to “repurpose” into a blanket and other such items where you would want to use felt. The denim jeans will soon find themselves with a new purpose as a rug on Drew’s floor.”

Ah yes, you may be asking, “what does a 12 year old boy think of all this crafting and Goodwilling”? And the answer is what you would expect from most 12 year old boys, “if Drew might benefit, he likes it. He is quite a repurposer of common objects buff himself, but just don’t make him go shopping for the stuff.” We are happy to oblige because it is very hard to scour and find the hidden nonpareil cache when one of your offspring is bemoaning the fact that you have been at the same store for more than 7 minutes or is that the 7th Goodwill of the day.

By the way, I figure I paid about $10 for the jewelry I used in my necklace. Compared to the $135 I would have paid for the one J. Crew, I'll take my designer original.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Being True

This isn’t about being selfish it’s about being true.

One of my favorite bloggers and twitterers is Leo Babauta. I discovered that he writes about life right where I am at this stage of my life. Three blogs I read are Zen Habits, Zen Family Habits and Mnmlist . If you are curious about living a simplified lifestyle spend a little time looking through these.

In stereotypical terms and clumping all Americans into one statement, ‘Americans have an insatiable need for things and for more and more (and more)’. So what happens when the economy and the world as we have known it does a flip flop like a fish out of water?

Could it be true…less is more.

Robert Browning certainly felt it was worthy of inclusion in his 1855 poem entitled Andrea del Sarto:

     Who strive - you don't know how the others strive
     To paint a little thing like that you smeared
     Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,-
     Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
     (I know his name, no matter) - so much less!
     Well, less is more, Lucrezia.

I have come up with my own manifesto for my family for as long as I have influence on them.

1. Buy what you want, but buy less. Since I have lost a sizable amount of weight, I decided to clean out my closet and disperse all the items that don’t fit to someone else to use which left quite a void. Not having a lot of discretionary money has brought me to shopping resale, discount sales and other cheap places. When I see something and consider buying it I ask myself “do I love it?” and if the answer is no it stays. I am not going to buy something just because it was a great deal if I am not extremely fond of it. If I were to go ahead and get it, even if it is free, it isn’t worth the cost because soon it will be clutter.

2. Eat what you want, but eat less. How often do we really know what we want to eat but don’t because it has too many calories or too much fat or not enough vitamins or minerals in it? Often what happens is we eat the “good for you” item but still want the other item. Then we often end up eating the item we wanted in the first place, resulting in extra and wasted calories. I think it is better to eat exactly what you want but just don’t eat as much as you may want. Let a little do the trick.

3. Say what you mean, but say less. I have become aware that too many people talk way too much. We think we have to explain our explanations, justify our justifications and apologize through our apologies. I think at one time or another most people have said “do you know what I mean?” or “do you get what I am saying?” Sometimes when people say that to me I want to scream “granted I was educated in the public school systems and I went to college at a small Christian college, I think I am bright enough to understand what you are saying and if I don’t, shut up so I can ask you to clarify for me”.

I meant what I said

And I said what I meant . . . .

An elephant's faithful

One hundred per cent!

- Horton Hatches the Egg

4. Do what you want, but do less. Do you ever feel like you are in the spin cycle of the washing machine and wish someone would push the stop button? Sometimes the spin cycle stops at the insistence of something quite clamorous, other times it is a drastic consequence. Life is all about balance. I know that the less I do the happier I am. When I stopped being obligated to causes and organizations which I was in allegiance to, not because I didn’t feel akin to their purpose, but because it was habit or I thought it made me worthwhile or my favorite, because no one else would do what needed to be done. I finally shook myself and realized that if no one else will do it maybe it doesn’t need to be done. I like having a 5 minute breather before an appointment. I enjoy being the first one when meeting friends for lunch. I like having a minute to listen to the birds. I want to spend time doing what is meaningful to me which includes caring for other people. I don’t want to have regrets or say I ought to or I should have. I want to do what I want.

5. Keep the best, but keep less. The best means something different to different people. For me I would rather have the antique furniture that has been passed to me from my family other people would look at these prized possessions and call them junk. This is a tough one though. Drew and I have tried and tried to go through his things and pare his treasures down. He finds sentimental reasons to keep just about anything. But what I try to help him see is that we have to make room for the new experiences, treasures and hobbies he is developing every day. There are some things that were a part of my past that I can’t get rid of yet. That is okay for now, but I know at some point if I want new and fresh I need to make some room. Sometimes this happens with relationships too. We want to have room to keep those vital relationships in our lives. But sometimes we find out that as the affiliation wavers it is because something has changed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Irony of a 12 Year Old

Today I took Drew to the airport. He is going to see his dad who has recently moved out of state. This is not Drew’s first time flying alone but it was different in that on Southwest he does not need the same assistance that under 12 year old people need. “But he is only 12”, I say out loud because I need to remind myself of that fact, because at this moment it feels like I should say “he is already 12?”.

Twelve is an interesting age. The voice is just starting to change. Boys this age seem to be quite proud of the underarm hair that is sprouting and my boy, on occasion, gives invitations if you care to see it or better yet feel it. He still needs reminding to brush teeth, take a shower and should not leave home without a heavy dose of deodorant (a reapplication is sometimes a necessity). He still loves watching cartoons, particularly Sponge Bob and Scooby Doo. My twelve year old boy still likes to have some of his earlier toys around but if the right person should come over then that toy needs to find its way back into the vault. He likes to hear stories about when he was little, needs help packing for a trip, and he loves his mom.

On the flip side, my twelve year old boy has a cell phone and thinks he should be twittering. He likes the independence to ride his bike down to the Ace Hardware to pick up PVC pipe or duct tape or something else that is important for a latest invention. He asks for things like a soldering iron for Christmas. My twelve year old boy likes to remind me when he will be driving and to talk about what kind of car he is sure he will have. He likes to be told when his reaction or answer is very mature. He is adamant about having complete privacy when time to get ready or change clothes. When he remembers he can be the perfect gentleman and hold the door open for ladies. He carries a wallet with a picture ID card in it and whatever amount of allowance that has managed not to be spent. And my twelve year old boy doesn’t need his mom to go through the security check point with him. And so I left my twelve year old boy to find his way to his gate armed with all the instructions I could think of. Still I forgot to tell him he needed to take his wallet out of his back pocket, but there was the security officer to tell him that. But told me often today (as he does every day), that he loves me. And never tires of hearing that I love him too very very much.

Daily I see a surge of maturity in my twelve year old. Daily I see a barrage of childhood in my twelve year old. I haven’t thought about this for a while but when my children were young I would look at them and say “oh I just love age one” or “I think age two is my favorite age” or “how fun seven year olds are”. It didn’t really matter what the age was I loved it because there is always something new and different at each age. Sure I might get frustrated or hung up on this or that, but I try to remember that these children of mine will be this age for such a short time. Early I realized that once a year passed  and they moved on to the next age we could never go back. And how Allison was at two or seven or twelve was totally different than how Drew was at two or seven or twelve. So where ever they were or are or will be in their progression, it is my favorite forever.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Since I have been on this food journey, for lack of a better term, I think it has accomplished one of the goals I had set for myself. I wanted to look at food differently. I wanted to stop using it as a crutch, or use it to fill time when I was bored, and any other psychological reason I have for eating. But I especially wanted to stop eating more than I needed. I am still working on all these but I will credit myself with the fact that food does not have the same seduction. That said I still enjoy finding new places and yummy morsels.

A couple weeks ago, Allison suggested we should eat at Liberty Market in downtown Gilbert. Not that it is so far from where we live but I just don’t get to downtown Gilbert very often. A few years back Gilbert was home and driving down Gilbert Road occurred regularly. We even ate at some of the other restaurants. After a brief discussion we decided after church on Sunday morning we would head east and check it out. I have to tell you I couldn’t have been happier with our decision.

The morning was beautiful and we were pleasantly surprised to find a great patio at Liberty Market. I was a bit confused on what to do when we first walked in but there were helpful professional service staff moving about. Allison and I desperately needed coffee and Drew decided he wanted hot chocolate. We were not disappointed. I am a big fan of scones and they had apricot as a choice decided we should give it a try. It came with a side of clotted cream and raspberry jam. Delish! It came out before our main selections which was perfect to nibble on while we waited. Drew decided on the American Standard - three scrambled eggs, Liberty potatoes, biscuit, and his meat choice was bacon. He couldn’t finish it all. Allison and I decided to split the Grilled Vegetable Scramble - scrambled eggs with grilled zucchini, Portobello, onions, red pepper, goat cheese, Liberty potatoes, biscuit. A treat for the taste buds.

Food was great and definitely well worth the time and travel. But the experience is what made it memorable. It is comfortable, the kind of place you want to sit and just enjoy the moment. The beverages are self serve so you are not waiting for someone to come and take care of you. At the same time the professional service staff were very helpful, pleasant and from what we saw very efficient. I was impressed that the tip jar was at the cash register with a note that said that tips are divided equally between those said professionals. The Liberty Market has a great history which is worth the read on the website.

Everyone who has probably been there has probably commented on the restrooms. I also had some really great pictures but upgraded my phone yesterday and now they are not accessible. So you will just have to check it out for yourself.

The next week we decided to go downtown Chandler and eat at Kokopelli Winery & Bistro. It didn’t wow me so I am not going take up time talking about it. Allison liked it okay and might try it again. Me…uhm….well…no. The food was good but just didn't make me want to sing - figuratively not literally, of course. After a walk around the square I determined there are other places of interest just down the street that I have a hankering to try.

This week while driving down Indian School Road in Phoenix to my hair appointment I saw a little place called Acacia CafĂ© and decided I would like to pop in soon and give it a taste. They too have outside seating and this Sunday was a perfect day to be outside. Drew ordered honey bbq chicken with melted provolone on a ciabatta bun. He was quite pleased which pleased me since he isn‘t the “try new places kind of guy”. Allison settled on egg salad sandwich on whole wheat and I ordered a veggie panini which I believe was about the best I have ever had. We traded a half so we could try both. The whole wheat had a variety of seeds on the crust which is baked on the premises and was outstanding. They also make fresh soup every morning during the week. The beverages are self serve fountain drinks along with coffee and iced tea. I was not disappointed with the flavored iced tea I chose. They also offer some bottled juices and soda pop. Drew savored the flavor of a Jones Grape Soda. I just think when you are drinking grape soda out of a bottle you have to savor the flavor. Also available were baked items and after lunch we sampled their fresh pumpkin cookies. Scrumptious! Would have loved to take time out to sit with coffee and a cookie.

It’s the kind of place where regulars show up week after week and if it were in my neck of the asphalt jungle I would be a familiar face on their patio.

Too often, we humans find ourselves scurrying here and there. To quote the well worn lyric to Cheers theme song, Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got. Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. Wouldn't you like to get away? We enjoy vacations for that very reason, to get away, see and try new things, and to hopefully stop scurrying for a moment. My criteria on choosing a place to eat is not just to leave with my stomach satisfied but to give my mind and soul a mini get-away. To  enjoy, learn and explore. Relaxing and chatting with the kids over a meal feeds more than just our physiological needs.

Eating at home is still my favorite place to eat, but it appears we are creating a pattern on Sunday. So apart from the apparent goal to stop the rumblings in our tumbly, as Christopher Robin would say about Winnie the Pooh, we are setting out to get away for our customary and feast on a delicious new find now and again.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Night at the Theatre

On Tuesday evening Allison and I went to see the musical production of Legally Blonde at ASU Gammage. As always anytime we get to spend time together we have fun. And who doesn't love the character Reese Witherspoons brought to life, Elle Woods. The cast of the musical is great. The music is energetic and perky. Dancing is superb. The dogs Bruiser and Rufus did the canine world proud. It was great fun.

Equally amusing was people watching. It was the Pink Carpet Premier night and as any Legally Blonde fan knows pink is Elle Woods signature color so as you can imagine there was a plethora of pink. Pink patent leather shoes, pink tops, bottoms and even pink feathered boa's. There was a profusion of pink popping up everywhere.

What caused me a pause and a ponder though was the audience. As a matter of record, Arizona is the land of perpetual casualness. I am good with casual. Definitely enjoy dressing casual. But for some reason I have it in my head that when you go to the theatre you dress up a bit. It is a little out of the norm so you dress like you are doing something special. Now I guess the term dressing up is subjective. I am sure the young women in the row in front of our in the loose, pink no less, knit halter top that was hanging down in the wrong places which then caused the wrong body parts to hang over, out and actually everywhere but up, might have thought that she was dressed up. Can a person dress up in flip flops? Sure, but I wouldn't consider the 2/$5 flip flops that you buy at Old Navy dressy footware. Shorts and a t-shirt might be considered dressy unless the shorts are so short that you see way too much of someone's chunky... and if the t-shirt has any visable holes or words on it, I vote that it should stay at home. But my favorite was the old guy in his Levi's with his western style shirt and his John Deere cap. From the looks of things, Stacy and Clinton will not have any shortage of material for many many seasons to come on What Not To Wear.

The young woman sitting just 2 empty seats from us who felt it necessary to check, text and flip her phone so it would light up every 2 minutes must have been terribly bored by the whole production. I had to bite my tongue. Allison must have sensed that I was about to lose my gracious restraint, so when she came back from intermission she conveniently switched seats with me.

I was very surprised that the ushers allowed guests to come in and sit down after the show had begun. So for the first 5 minutes or so people were still traipsing through the aisle and tripping over our feet. I thought that was banned. Maybe the ushers missed that day of training. Or maybe the guests were just too pushy and impatient. Parking at Gammage is irksome when school is not in session, but it is atrocious when school is in session. Plan ahead people!

Drinking water out of the plastic bottles and sucking the water and air out of them so they crackle and creak is totally taboo. Now maybe there is a good reason to do that but I can't figure it out.

I sensed that we as a society have forgotten or never learned how to carry on in public. We are so comfortable and casual that we abate common graces. There are plenty of people who expect others to be considerate of them but then neglect the same courtesy in like. How many times have I grown lax and not treated others the way I expect to be treated? I bought a book for Drew when he was younger. It is by Munro Leaf and I think we all might be due for a refresher course by reading How to Behave and Why, How to Speak Politely and Why, and Manners Can Be Fun.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

To do list

I like to make a mental to do list before I get out of bed in the morning, a mini checklist of sorts. This morning was no different. I mentally made notes of the kids schedules today; Allison - finish dog sitting job, classes on campus, afternoon of studying; Drew - early release Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for parent teacher conferences, homework but plenty of time to hang out and play; and for me, I would be leaving work early for my appointed time at the parent teacher conferences and then immediately following to an appointment I had set up 2 weeks ago. Nothing too stressful but plenty to do.

Shortly after noon I received a phone call from Allison in which she told me that Drew had tripped and fallen on his way home from school and the result was a chipped tooth. She asked if she should take him directly to the dentist or do we need to call first. One thing about Allison is that she is a take charge kind of gal. Now I am not an alarmist. In fact I usually error on the side of not taking proper medical action as soon as I probably should so I asked if it was a small chip or large. To which she replied that about half of his tooth was gone. Okay that qualifies as large and I thought it best if I would come home. On my drive home from the office, Allison proceeded to call the dentists office as if she were me to save explanations and we had an appointment at 2pm. Since I had an hour before the appointment I decided to stop by the school, see if I could meet with Drew's teachers earlier than my scheduled time still in hopes of making my other appointment on time. What was I thinking. Being squeezed into an emergency appointment at the dentist of all places and thinking I would still make my appointment.

I am here to report that we all were able to accomplish what was on my mental to do list this morning. I didn't work quite as long as I had planned but it will be there tomorrow. I was able to see most of his teachers today and I will go back and see the other 2 sometime during the next 2 days. I did make my other appointment thanks to Allison aka responsible older sister who graciously stayed with Drew through the ordeal of putting a temporary crown on his tooth. Drew didn't quite get all of his homework done but at least now he really has a viable excuse rather than the feeble excuses he usually tries to feed me. Allison will probably be up for a while finishing the homework she didn't get to do earlier. She is like her mom in that she likes the quietness of the house after everyone else has gone to bed. I am a bit concerened about her though. We played our usually game of scrabble and I actually won! Something is definitely wrong here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Sticky note...hummus, cauliflower, Dubliner cheese and fav sweet red wine

When I woke on October 21, 2008 I didn't know how significant that day would be. You see, that was the day I would choose not eat meat until who knows when. It certainly started out normal enough. I attended a seminar which hit on things we can do to make ourselves healthier. I had gone to lunch at Einstein Bagels and had a Ceaser salad. And somewhere during my time outside I declared to myself and only to myself, that I thought it would be a good idea if I would stop eating meat. Since I didn't know how to be a proper vegetarian I could make up my own rules. I decided I wouldn't eat anything with a face but since I love cheese, coffee with cream, lattes and other dairy products I would include those which eliminated me from the vegan club. I decided to add eggs too just because from time to I eat something eggy (although they aren't my favorite). I didn't have any strong convictions as to why I wasn't eating meat but mostly it came down to I wanted to see if I could be that disciplined, health was a factor with my family history, and I just didn't want to eat an animal, plain and simple. Truly, it was about me and not any great philosophical or environmental reason. It was an adventure.

Although I didn't make a long term commitment I am pleased with my resolve. I think it has helped me keep the consumption of food in a healthier place in my priorities. It has also made me more observant and aware of the issues surrounding the meat industry in America and I am convinced that we need to be doing things differently. Drew, the self aware 12 year old that he is, has proclaimed that he is a carnivore. As his mom I decided that it would be okay afterall I made the decision for me and deliberately chose not to make it for the entire family. But as the mom I did sign up to be the responsible decision maker in regards to the health of my children. I am quite sure I have not done a steller job through the years. I certainly won't be receiving the "mom of the year pin in the area of nutrition" at the next awards ceramony. Who knew all those high fructose corn syrupy snacks were bad. They were yummy and convenient. Drew was also a lot more selective (aka picky) and so I was definately more lax than I was with Allison.

After reading the article entitled Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food - TIME Magazine, I have determined from this day forward, to be more selective on what meat I buy for the carnivore for which I am responsible. Gone are the days when I would buy the cheap hamburger because it is cheap. Now I want to know what is in it and from where it comes. I know this won't be easy; I am not always the most consistant either; and I will be the first to admit that I am cheap. But living in this big ole metroplex, there are plenty of opportunities to shop in stores that offer a cleaner alternative, and I think it will be worth it. I started with the eggs. I bought the dozen in a carton declaring that the chickens were hormone free and had the opportunity to run around rather than sit in a cage. One small step I know but it had to start somewhere.

As far as my future eating habits I just have to shrug my shoulders. I have to tell you I do love a summer cherry tomato, those delightful Persian cucumbers, oh yes and my mouth can start watering for a perfectly cooked eggplant, and I get all excited with the variety at the farmers market. Stuff I have never seen before. But before I forget, I'll grab my sticky note and head to the store. I have got to get my most recent favorites: cauliflower dipped in Mediteranian Hummus, a couple slices of Dubliner cheese and that wine that I can never remember the name of but I know just where to find it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Moving Forward

It started innocently enough. I was happily living a simple life keeping up to date with email. I had my work email address and my personal email address and I threw in a gmail address just for the fun of it. Sounds so yesterdays news! Then I heard about Twitter and it seemed all to personal. Did I really want to know what people are doing at any given moment? But I started following a couple people on Twitter and pensively posted a tweet or two and began enjoying this whole new world that had opened up to me. Grudgingly, I leapt to Facebook. I will probably write more about that later. For now I will only say that the jury is still out but quite frankly I don't care a bit about what games people are playing but I do care about the people who are friends.

So now I find myself on the brink of blogging. I believe I may be too much of a worrier or should we say perfectionist on how this all will show. But that's what I love about sticky notes. By design they aren't permenant. If something changes you can peel it off the surface and replace it with a new and updated note. They are small, even the jumbo size still will only accomodate minimal words. They are transient enough, yet stick when you only have one hand to use and it is holding the pen. I never know when something noteworthy will pop into my head or someone will tell me something I don't want to forget (and to me it is noteworthy).

Today on sticky notes I wrote a couple books that I want to check out from the library. I learned about Marcus Buckingham's new book that will be released later this month and decided I wanted to read an earlier published book of his. Oh the power of Twitter. Another book I think I would like to read is by Hank Phillippi Ryan. I discovered her because I enjoyed reading Haley Ephron's book and through her website I discoved The Jungle Red Writers blog. Also on sticky notes today were a couple things I don't want to forget to do at work tomorrow. And tomorrow when I accomplish those couple things I can take the sticky notes and throw them away. I used them for a phone message pad today. They make helpful reminders of stops for the commute home. That would be why today I remembered to drop clothes off at the drycleaners

I am sure there are the organizational guru's who would scoff. That's okay. I like my plan. I am comfortable with it. I get excited when I see sticky notes in cool designs. I hate that sometimes I am too cheap to pay for the really cool designs. Stick with me and we will discover the ebb and flow of life from a pad of sticky notes.