Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Make Mine a Double

How often have I heard or seen people apply a double standard to something and long to scream from the housetops: “HYPOCRITE!”

Here are a couple double standards that drive me nuts:

1) If you have enough talent in sport, music or acting (and sometimes other fields) then the law and other socially accepted norms of behavior and decency somehow don’t apply to you, or they are applied in a “slap on the hand” manner. I can’t even begin to name all the professional athletes, big time Hollywood & pop stars that you can read about in the paper having abused alcohol, drugs, & women (often all in the same night). But you rarely hear of the consequences for that behavior. They often get off scot free, or if they even go to court for such actions they rarely serve actual jail time. People still buy their music, watch their movies and attend or watch their sporting events. If anything the “scandals” only serve to get them more publicity which in turn often means more cash in the bank for them. Why does being a celebrity change the standard???

2) Women getting less pay and less respect for doing the same job as men. I know, I know; this one sounds cliché, old fashioned, and maybe even silly coming from a stay-at-home mom. But I still see it in the world around me. I have a friend who works as an architect who struggles daily to gain the respect that her fellow (male) colleagues enjoy. She often gets ignored when opinions are solicited, gets passed over for potential projects simply because they see her name and figure she’s female so she doesn’t know what she is doing. Too bad her mother named her such a girly name instead of Terry or Jean or something that was a little more asexual. She has started listing and signing her name with just her first initial so as to help avoid some of these problems, but the double standard is still there.

What are some double standards that drive you nuts?


Well, I would be a bigger hypocrite than I already am if I blogged about double standards and didn’t confess to having applied some very liberally in my own home. Does the fact that they are only applied at home make them better or more acceptable than my biggies up above? Maybe I am just seeking another double standard??
Here’s my quandary: I want my kids to do things and be things that I have yet to master in myself.

1) I don’t like to see my kids get angry, particularly with each other, and yet I have shown them a repeated example of anger to follow.

2) I never want to hear my kids swear, but I have been known to let a few @#$!* slip from my tongue.

3) I do not like to hear my kids criticize others with little or no feeling, but I proceed to do so all through television programs that we watch together. “What is she wearing? What was she thinking leaving her house in a get-up like that? She looks utterly ridiculous!” “He sounds like a dog choking on a bone he should stop singing and put us all out of our misery.” “He must be the producer’s kid because he is so ugly and definitely can’t act.” You get the idea. Somehow my saying it to the people on the flickering blue screen didn’t seem to be a big deal until I heard similar criticism from my kids aimed at each other or other “real, live people”. I was applying a second double standard in that it’s okay if they’re on TV but if they’re in person just smile and pretend you like it.

I am very guilty of teaching my children to do as I say but not as I do.

If you would heal the ills of society, begin in the home. I have heard this many times and know it to be true. I have decided to rip out my shaky foundation built on the “do as I say” and lay a more solid one of “do as I do.” I am trying every day to be a better person, one baby step at a time. Hope to see you on the same path of self improvement where I can learn from your example and someday when I grow up you may learn from mine.

I Survived School Break

My four oldest kids' three weeks of school break just ended yesterday. I do not think anyone could have said Hallelujah louder and meant it more than I did!

Don't get me wrong, I love my kids very much and am happy when they're around. School break however, puts us all into a temporary limbo where you can't do any major holiday things because it is too short, but the break is also too long to prevent boredom setting in. My biggest beef is that my life seems to get put on hold, and my normal roles as entertainment coodinator, taxi driver, cook, maid, and task master seem to become so much harder to manage.

For one thing the hours involved would violate any and all labor laws in any and all countries. Not to mention the incessant appetite of three teenagers and one preteen. Trying to keep my sanity when the video games, TV, and game boys were on concurrently and incessantly despite the number of times I personally turned them off and asked the kids to read a book. You know, all those musty, dusty things on the shelves in the living room and in every bedroom.

Yesterday and today have been very peaceful, and I have gotten everything done I wanted to. No distractions, interruptions or frustrations.

I have found myself again amidst the calm. How sad my respite is so short. Next week the two youngest start their FOUR week break! That should be outlawed!! No more school breaks longer than one week!!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Is your one enough?

I read an article in the LA Times about a man in Nigeria who has married 107 women and fathered 185 children. WHAT IN THE WORLD?????

This Nigerian man is also a faith healer and will not allow his wives or children to go to the doctor or use any medicine when they fall ill. He claims the angel Gabriel told him to marry all his wives and that if God can give him all these wives and children He can also take them away when He wants to. Many of them have died of easily curable sicknesses.

Apparently all his wives are content and many of them are fiercly loyal. He has divorced twelve of his wives because of disobedience, and yet he himself is disobedient to the government and Islamic leaders who demand he divorce all but 4 of his wives, which is all the Koran allows. When he was arrested for his disobedience, his wives protested for his relaease and testified in court that he takes care of them well, and they are happy - so the government and church dropped the charges and he was released.

I have heard numerous men complain about managing with just one wife. Of course my husband is very content with me and never says things like that (to my face). How does this faith healer manage to maintain this household of almost 300?? Here are some of the elements of his success:

1) He has a 4-storey, 89-room home taking up a full city block (everyone has their space).

2) He has a large compound surrounding his home, in which his followers live and help run the household. This includes a large number of personal aides that do his every bidding and treat him like a god (lots of servants and blind obedience).

3) He has an intercom system where he can talk into his microphone and speakers on every floor and facing out into the compound and even the street blare out his words, requests, demands, etc. (easy means of communicating so all can hear and no one can claim they didn't know what he wanted them to do - I think I need an intercom in my house).

4) If a wife is disobedient he divorces her and simply finds a new one every week or so (anyone starting to feel like he treats his wives like Kleenex? Use them up, wear them out, make them obey, or get rid of them - whatever works).

I am a believer in "Live and Let Live" and am usually the type of person who thinks that if someone is minding their own business and their life does not break any major laws and they don't try to force me to do what they think I should, then I can mind my own business too.

But I do feel I have to say that I am appalled at the fact that he will not get medical treatment for his wives and children. I feel that God has aided and led many scientists and doctors to develop the medical treatments offered today; to ignore that is like saying you do not want a gift someone has offered you.

As to his numerous wives???: although I do believe in personal revelation I am extrememly skeptical, to say the least, that the Angel Gabriel actually visited him and told him God wanted him to take all these wives. I think that what he is doing is bogus and ridiculous, but if they are happy so be it. I am happy to let God be his judge.

So, what do you think about this man and his life and wives???

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Weelky Awesome Person

I have decided, like a friend of mine, to honor one person a week that I think is or was (death does not disqualify you) an awesome person. My friend has the coolest ideas.

This week I want to honor Milton Hershey (1857 - 1945), the creator of Hershey's milk chocolate.

Now that fact that he created one of my favorite fatties (see previous blog) is enough reason to honor him, but I have a better reason (one with substance). Milton Hershey suceeded at building his chocolate empire after utterly failing as a confectioner, not once, but twice. So Milton I honor you for your PERSEVERANCE.

It all began after years of struggling and failure in school, So his parents decided to apprentice to a printer at the age of 14. This too was a utter failure. He then was able to secure another apprenticeship as a confectioner. After learning this trade that he loved, he decdided to open his own confectioner's shop. He borrowed money from his uncles and set up shop. He struggled in vain to make a profit, and ultimately his business failed.

He thought that maybe he needed a change of scenery, and so he left his home in Pennsylvania and moved to New York. With more borrowed money from his uncles he set up shop again, and struggled and failed again. His parents told him to give up and come home; he could always work on one of his uncle's farms. Milton persisted, though and went to Denver, Colorado where he worked for a time at a large candy factory.

After his Colorado experience, he decided that what he needed to do was specialize in one type of candy so as to maximize his profits. He moved back home and went to see his uncles. They, however, told him they would give him no more money and to give up his dream. Undeterred, Milton convinced a local banker to give him a 90-day loan. He was on his way. He was going to build his caramel empire (that's right I said CARAMEL - not chocolate).

Milton worked hard and specialized in his caramels (which he had learned to make so well while in Colorado - I knew I liked Colorado.) He built a hugely successful business that he later sold in 1900 for $1,000,000 to the American Caramel Co. $1,000,000 back then was a vast fortune! He was set for life and could retire and travel the world. He decided, however, to start a new company and a town along with it: Hershey, Pennsylvania - where he built a giant chocolate company that makes the best chocolates in the USA and maybe the world!

Thanks for persevering Milton - the world is a yummier place because of you!

Cats vs. Dogs

Growing up I had always considred myself a "dog person"; I used to hate cats and take significant pleasure in their discomfort. I have no idea why this was the case other than the fact that they make me sneeze. Maybe it could also be the trauma assosciated with the fact that when I was a baby the kitten we had would sit at the end of my crib and everytime I moved my feet it would scratch them. (This is probably totally unfounded as I have no recollection of this at all and only knew of it because my Mom told me about it. Maybe it was even my sister that was the one getting scratched - can't remember.)

Over time I have come to realize that I am not a dog person at all! My mother is a dog person and as such we always had at least one dog in the family. I thought back on this and realized that even while I was thus fooling myself that I was a dog person (simply because my family had always owned a dog)I never really liked most of the dogs we had. I even detested some of them. Yes Bonnie Bell, I'm talking about you!!!

Over the last year or so I had begun to fool myself again. I began to think I was deep down a cat person.

We have a very nice cat who eats all of our mice and is very useful. He usually keeps to himself and doesn't meow very much and will happily sleep outside and as such I have had little or no trouble with cat allergies. Recently, however, he has started to assert his "rights" a bit more. He will meow louder for food when hungry, he will constantly try to stay inside all day long, and will most annoyingly walk right between my legs when I walk. He has never been taught to be an indoor cat so if I forget he is in the house he usually leaves us a present somewhere. Beginning to irritate!!!

So I get to thinking again. Am I a cat person or a dog person? I have spent time pondering this (since it is such a weighty matter you know). The result? ... wait for it ... I AM NEITHER!

It was an epiphany for me. I realized that for the most part, I dislike animals. Kind of like when I had another epiphany a few years back and realized that for the most part I dislike other people's children. But that's a different story.

So when I see our cat, I smile at him because he eats the mice but am freed of the burden of thinking I have to like him. I think back on the "dog years" and of enduring face-lickings, and not being able to play in the back yard for fear of the silent, squishy, stink-bombs hidden in the grass and I smile because there is nothing that would EVER make me get a dog. And that's okay.

So I say to the world: You don't have to be a dog person or a cat person. You can happily and gratefully be neither. Come join the ranks of the animal tolerators, and know that your home is a slobber-free, poop-free, pet-hair-free zone and breath a deep satisifying breath with me.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Of Yoga and Kids

I was recently introduced to Yoga by a friend. I have always been amazed by people who could do yoga and still be in one piece afterwards. My friend was very sold on the benefits of yoga so I tried it with her a couple times and then I dowloaded some yoga workouts from the internet and tried it out on my own. I have found it quite refreshing, rejuvenating, and enjoyable, but I have a tendency to feel highly self-concious when doing yoga. Here's why:

1) I am overweight, out of shape, and accident prone.

2) I have always found it funny to tease or joke about people I would call "granola" or "crunchy". This includes (but is not limited to) those who: are vegetarians; wear sandals in winter; use recycled or recyclable anything; anyone and anything associated with saving the whales, the planet, or whatever is the current endangered fad; and ... those who do yoga. My kids are very quick to pick up on my hypocrisy and it is only a matter of time before one of them teases me and calls me "granola" or "crunchy."

3) One morning my youngest woke and quietly tiptoed into the room where I was doing yoga and sat silently watching me. When I was in a particularly exposed pose trying hard to keep my balance and focus, my son says cheerfully, "big butt coming thru," and slaps my rear end. Before you gasp in shock at his behavior, you need to know that I taught him that phrase by jokingly saying it whenever I squeeze my way into or onto something (like when there is no room on the couch but I want to cuddle between my boys so I say it and force my way in.)

So, now I do my yoga when my husband is at work and the kids are all at school. I close all the curtains, lock the doors and get crunchy!

What Books Are in Your Bomb Shelter

I recently read a friend's blog where she asked what books would we put in our bomb shelter. If I were to have to retreat to a bomb shelter (as if there are any in Samoa) it would presumably be because of an end of the world type of scenario. I thought about this and determined that it isn't just about me, but about my kids and future generations right??? What would I deem valuable enough to save for myself and future generations?

Here's my list:

1. My scriptures.

2. The Laura Ingall's Wilder Books (I love history, especially American history. I love the stories of the American frontier and all of her practical pioneering info.)

3. The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (Like I said, I love history and her book is such an inspiring one about loving our fellow men even when faced with the horror of the Holocaust.)

4. Little Women, Little Men, & Jo's Boys all by Louisa May Alcott

5. Helen Keller's The Story of My Life

6. Best Loved Plays of William Shakespeare (mostly for posterity and because so many of his words are woven into our past and present culture. To understand ourselves we must know Shakespeare.)

7. Cheaper By the Dozen & Belles On Their Toes by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr. & Ernestine Gilbreth Carey (wonderfully funny and practical.)

8. James Herriot's books about his life experiences as a vet in the highlands of Yorkshire.

9. Sense & Sensibility, Emma, Pride & Prejudice, and Persuasion all by Jane Austen

10. Harry Potter series (we all need some magic and fantasy in our lives).

I would also make sure I threw in a good Dictionary so I can continue to say, "Look it up, the dictionary is right there" when my children ask me "what does that mean?" and "how do you spell that?"

So, I will pose the same question my friend did: What books would you have in your bomb shelter?

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Trail of Smears

I love history. I remember studying the massacre of Cherokee Indians (Native Americans for the PC people) as they were forcibly removed from their lands and made to march thousands of miles away to an Indian reservation. This event later came to be known as the Trail of Tears. It was a sad time and I feel a special sadness when I think of it because I have some Cherokee ancestry.

Today though, I am talking of another trail. This one is also filled with murder, gore and carnage. But this time I am the perpetrator of these deadly deeds. I speak of the snail trails in my garden beds.

This past Saturday we harvested our sweet potatoes and in the process found hundreds of snails and slugs. These aren’t just the cute little garden snails but they are the invasive species of African Snails that have decimated my previous pepper and cabbage crops. They can grow to be very large and I found one that measured from the base of my thumb to the base of my pinky finger (the diagonal width of my palm).

I took the biggest rock I could find (one that had rough edges to make it easier to crack their shells) and started smashing snails like a possessed person. I discovered their nurseries and egg clutches and smashed them all. I stopped counting at two hundred snails and never even started counting the slugs. I just went on a murderous frenzy, smashing and crushing my enemies.

Before I was half done the flies were buzzing loudly and the sun had risen enough to make it very hot! Did this stop me? Are you kidding??? I was taking revenge for all my poor defenseless pepper plants and cabbages that they selfishly ate and then pooped all over my garden!

I confess this murderous streak in me is most definitely not hereditary. I remember my mother was always so kind to animals, even insects. When a stray wasp or bee got into the house she would have one of us kids get a cup and paper plate to catch the poor thing in and release it outside. I am usually of the philosophy that if it is in my house then it is fair game, but if it is outside I will not hurt it. But, snails and slugs are another story.

While on my murder spree I had discarded my shoes with reckless abandon and cared only for the next kill. I tell you I was possessed. When I could find no more snails I stood up from my crouching position to hunt somewhere else and stepped right onto the squishy remains of the largest snail. Its juices splattered all over my feet, and oozed up between my toes. Hopping on one foot I made it to the hose to wash my feet, but the snail remains were very sticky thanks to the heat of the sun. I thought I heard the new Sugarland song playing somewhere: “Uh oh, uh oh, stuck like glue; you and me baby we’re stuck like glue.”

“Get off you sticky piece of goo!” I grumbled.

My husband (with his impeccable sense of timing) walks around the back of the house to see me hopping about, spraying water from the hose everywhere but where I needed it, all the time mumbling and grumbling.

“Murder is a messy business,” he quips and strolls inside the house leaving me to wrestle with the snail goo still lingering on my foot.

I smear my foot on the grass thinking, “why didn’t I just do that in the first place?” Then, just to make sure no slug or snail escapes my wrath, I sprinkle Slug Out all around my new pepper seedlings.

That night I dream of huge killer slugs and snails dragging me off to snail jail and banging me on the head with rocks. Not really, but it sounded like a good ending. I slept like a baby knowing that my garden was a lot safer than it had been the day before.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Girly Side

I have written previously about high school with much nostalgia. Today however I want to touch on something that boggles my mind. It’s the girly drama associated with high school. Having been a tomboy growing up I do not remember being involved in this side of high school life much because it seemed so RIDICULOUS that I didn’t waste my time on it.

Here’s what brought this up:

My teenage daughter comes home from school and says that she has bad news. I brace myself as thoughts of flunked tests, bad grades, or fights flood my brain. “Who did she hit? Is she suspended from school? Is she going to pass math?”

She then announces that one of her best friends is going out with her other best friend’s boyfriend who never officially broke up with best friend #2 before going out with best friend #1. So BF2 said to take BF1’s initial out of their group sign and BF1 says to refer to her just as her classmate and not her friend because she has joined another group [clique]. Then a girl from BF1’s new group starts “talking trash” about my daughter so my daughter says she hates BF1 forever, and to make it worse the scummy boyfriend (who somehow has escaped blame in all this drama) is a relative of ours so BF2 is now also mad at my daughter because it was her 10th cousin five times removed that treated BF2 like trash (but no blame directed to the player boyfriend).

So, my daughter no longer has any best friends but she has a new enemy, and her cousin is a putz. Her life sucks she says. No wonder she can’t pass math; she spends all her time thinking and worrying about this sort of RUBBISH!

I told her to tell her two former best friends to jump in a lake, slap her cousin in the face (because someone should), and forget about the trash-talking girl. Somewhere along the way as I was dispensing this valuable (and very good if I might add) advice, her eyes glazed over. I lost her.

So … never mind, tomorrow they will all be friends again and the cousin will probably be dating the trash-talking girl.

Now I remember why I have never wanted to go to any of my high school reunions.

Follow the Trail

I have a son who thinks I am psychic – not really but almost. He can’t figure out how I know where he’s been, what he’s been doing, and in what order he did those things and for how long he did them.

One day he was looking for his prefect badge that he had misplaced and asked for my help. I guided him through his activities of the day trying to jog his memory and perhaps find what had been “lost”. He was astounded I knew what he had been up to all day.

“How did you know all that?” he asked flabbergasted.

Inside me a battle was raging. Should I tell him my secret and give up my status as psychic? I thought it a marvelous opportunity to teach him something, and besides he looked so in earnest that I decided to reveal the secret to my psychic powers:

“I just follow your trail,” I replied.


“Here let me show you son.” We started out in the dining room (luckily it had been a busy day and nothing had been cleaned up yet.)“Here are the remnants of your breakfast … and lunch. See the banana and orange peels, bread crumbs, the margarine tub with the butter knife still in it, and your empty cup and dirty plates.”

Next I usher him into the living room. “Here is your shirt you took off this morning to put on your school uniform. See over there on the couch are your school uniform, and backpack, with your school shoes tossed on the floor nearby from when you came home after school.”

“Yeah, so what’s your point?”

“Let’s keep going son. It should become evident soon enough.” This was followed by a shrug, so off we went to the bathroom.

“Here is your toothbrush right where you left it on the counter when you finished brushing your teeth this morning. And there is the comb with hair gel still clinging to it in globs from when you put too much gel in your hair and had to comb it out. In the sink and on the wall here behind the sink is the extra gel you combed out of your hair and flung off the comb. Over there is the towel drawer still open from when you took out a washcloth to wipe your face, and there on the floor NEXT to the dirty clothes hamper is the washcloth you tossed in that general direction.”

“Okay … so…”

“To the hall now,” I say as my enthusiasm to teach him how much I do for him and how I know so much about him begins to wane.

“Here are your dirty clothes from when you cleaned up your bedroom.”

“Yeah, but you said I had to clean my room, so I did.”

“No son, you relocated the mess out here.”

“But my room is clean.”

“Never mind. Here is the linen closet door still open from when you took out clean sheets to put on your bed, and here are the dirty sheets in a pile on the floor next to your dirty clothes.” Exasperation starts to build up inside me as he begins to roll his eyes.

“Yeah, but my room is clean, Mom.”

“Okay, let’s have a look in there then. “ I am almost ready to abandon the exercise and return to my status as psychic. Have I revealed too much already??

“See, Mom, it’s clean.”

“Yes, it’s about the only thing. Over there though your phone is charging so you must have spent quite a bit of time texting friends and listening to music while cleaning your room.”


“AND…, your clean clothes are hanging out of your open drawers, your school books are like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and your sheet is wadded under your pillow, so I estimate that you spent about 5 minutes actually cleaning your room.”

“Okay, okay, I think I get what you’re trying to say. But where is my prefect badge?”

“Try looking in the pile of dirty clothes in yesterday’s dirty school uniform pocket.” Eyes rolling he humors me by rummaging through his pockets and then freezes.

“How did you know??!!!”

“Never mind. I have a headache. Clean the house, will you? I’m taking a nap; being a psychic is exhausting work.”

“But Mom!!!!!”

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fat is Fabulous

Why is it that everything that tastes absolutely fabulous is loaded with fat? The top of my fabulous list would have to be McDonald’s French fries. Whenever I drive past McDonald’s I have to make sure all the windows are up so I don’t get a whiff of their delectableness, because once I smell them, my thighs and spare tire start to grow. NO FAIR!

Second is a tie between chewy chocolate chip cookies, Reese’s peanut butter cups, and triple berry chocolate ice cream. Need I say more?

Next on my fabulous fat list are fish and chips. Whether they are home cooked by my husband or from the shop around the corner – they just call my name! I can feel my jeans shorts getting tighter just thinking about them! NO FAIR!

Fourth: avocados. Why live on an island where the food straight off the tree is so heavenly if you can’t eat it? Avocados are food fit for the gods: smooth, silky deliciousness with just a sprinkle of salt. Here’s the slap in the face: Avocados are100% fat! NO FAIR!

Those are my top four but they may as well be my top four hundred most fabulous fatty foods. WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Here are some others on my list, in no particular order. So don’t be offended my favorite fatties; I love you ALL:

Hershey’s chocolate in all its varieties
Fried chicken
Tortilla chips
Cheese (shredded, sliced, melted, cubed, saucy, YUMMY!)
Nachos (a marriage of two of my favorite fatties)
Pepperoni Pizza
Cheese cake
Pies (pumpkin, blueberry, chocolate cream, banana cream, peach, apple, plum)
Coconut milk
Deep fried anything…

Fat is fabulous! NO FAIR!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rugby Tape If You Please

My oldest son had a rugby game yesterday. In his preparations he asked if I had any electrical tape he could use – I directed him to where I thought I had a cache of electrical tape all stored up for the day when I, Mrs. Fixit, would need it to fix any number of electrical wiring problems. “I already used all of that,” came the reply. “Don’t you have any more somewhere?”

“Hmmmm let me see … just at the store. What in the world did you use all that electrical tape for?,“ I queried.

“My shoes, Andy’s [names have been changed to protect the guilty] legs and head, and now I need some for my head,” echoed from the bathroom.

It was too much for my curiosity. I walked into the bathroom to see rugby preparations for myself. There he and his best buddy were in their rugby gear. My son’s shoes so heavily strapped with electrical tape you could hardly see the shoes underneath. His buddy’s thighs were wrapped in ace bandages with electrical tape criss-crossed all over them, and around his head covering his ears was another ace bandage secured with electrical tape. My son had his own ace bandage around his head, which is what he wanted the tape for, to secure it tightly.

“Why all the tape son?”

His response: “It is on my shoes so I can wear them without them falling apart.” [In Samoa sometimes you just have to make due – better than playing barefoot.]

“And on Andy’s legs?”

“So that when I lift him in the lineout I have something to hold onto.” Probably thinking, “Geez Mom, don’t you know anything about rugby?”

“And your heads?”

“Mom, you and Andy’s mom both told us to protect our ears. These are your own words mom, ‘you’re too handsome to go around with cauliflower ears the rest of your life.’”

“Okay, fair enough.” Smiling inwardly because all along this sporty, rugby-enthused Mom knew exactly what he needed and only wanted to revel in it. I pulled out my last roll of electrical tape from my pocket, and handed it over for the protection of my son’s handsome ears. “Make sure you put it back where it goes when you’re done.”

I wonder … if I need to fix any electrical wiring will I have to run out on the rugby field, make a killer tackle on my son (or his buddy), peel my broken body off the ground, grab the tape and run? Nah! I’ll just go buy another 20 rolls at the store – and invest in electrical tape stock while I’m at it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

You have 7!

Not long ago, when looking for a way to contact my old basketball coach, I found an email address for an old high school acquaintance. I was surprised to find her on my old high school website where she teaches now. She and I had been in the same level in school all the way from junior high to high school. Although we were never good friends, we were always pleasant to each other. There were times I wanted to kill her though (even though she never knew it).

She was the type of person who was good at everything I wanted to be good at. Most of these things I wanted to do well were things that I was pretty good at doing, but that never seemed to be enough. When I went out for the volleyball team in 8th grade there she was, the star setter of the team. When I tried out for hurdles on the track team – there she was fast as lightning, and there I was eating her dust everyday at practice. So, I decided to try out for basketball hoping she wouldn’t be there. You guessed it … she was the star point guard.

Having already given up volleyball and hurdles, I refused to give up basketball. I stuck with it even though I was in her shadow all the way. I did my best and it was enough to stay on the varsity team, but I usually rode the bench. She, however, set school records and was team captain. Somehow none of my accomplishments meant anything because they always paled in comparison to hers.

Years later I heard a quote by Eleanore Roosevelt. It goes something like this: “No one can make you inferior without your consent.” All those years I was the one beating myself up about that fact that she was good at everything and that I sucked at! I had consented to feeling inferior.

I digress though. I meant to talk about the SHE of today.

So, having found her email address I sent a short email asking about our old basketball coach. She replied rather quickly giving me the info I wanted. She also told me a little of what her life is like these days, and asked about my life, work, and family. She had told me that she was married and had one son and one daughter. It was her perfect dream family.

I later replied with some answers to her questions including that I didn’t work, I was married and had seven kids. At the time I had a nephew living with us and explained this to her and then explained how we had adopted a girl and then I also had five of my own.

She replied with what amounted to this: “Wow, you have seven kids!!!! [gasp – I hope it’s not contagious!] That must keep you very busy. [Do you even have a life?!?] Well sorry this is so short – have to get back to work [but you wouldn’t know about that].” That was the last I heard from her.

Did I feel inferior to her again as in days of old??? No way. I realized that who I was (and wasn’t) was who I was happy to be. I had always wanted to be a mother. I was content to have “no life” away from home because home is where I love to be. For the first time in my life I felt I had it better than she did. I had it all!

I Googled myself

Have many of you have googled yourselves and liked what you found?

I did it and was shocked.

I never knew public records (such as driver’s license records, telephone records, public school and university records and other such information)were so PUBLIC! I mean, they were just plastered all over the internet for any Tom, Dick or Harry to find me and find out everything they want to about me. How clueless I was. I found online basically my life history for the years I spent in Colorado. I am surprised it didn’t show a daily log of what I ate every day!!!

It is no wonder there are so many Americans and others from developed nations who scream about privacy of personal information!!!

I am so grateful that on my little rock in the Pacific they do not put public records on the internet. It’s one thing for someone to be able to look you up in a local phone book or something and something else ENTIRELY for someone in China to pull up all your info and do what he pleases with it.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

High school

For some High School brings up wonderful memories. Maybe yours are memories of sporting events like football games, with the cheerleaders waving their pompoms the excitement of a close game, and the cheering of parents, students, and friends in the stands, or the band blasting out the school song.

Or perhaps yours are memories of swim meets; the smell of chlorine stinging your nostrils, the blare of the starting siren and subsequent splash of the swimmers as they enter the water; or the excitement and disappointments, but mostly the fun and the team spirit.

Maybe your memories are of basketball games with the smell of nachos and popcorn from the concession stand wafting thru the air. The band blaring once again and the mindless screaming and cheering from the stands. The thump, thump of the basketball, and the thrill when it swishes – nothin’ but net.

What about the memories of other activities like homecoming dance, or prom?: The preparations and anticipation; the balloons, streamers and other decorations; you and your date enjoying the enchanted evening, maybe even a first kiss.

What about pep rallies, track and field meets, volley ball, yearbook, math and science quests, drama, debate, choir, band, talents shows, or the school musicals? Good memories…

I know for some there are memories that are not so good. Memories still smart from embarrassing moments, bullying, or teasing. Going out for a sport or the school musical and getting cut. Ex-boyfriends or girlfriends – those early relationships that can tear your young heart out.

What is it about high school that can have such a lasting effect on our personalities, self worth, and future lives?

Maybe it’s because we are beginning to discover our independence and our “true” selves. Maybe it’s because we have so many opportunities to develop our talents and discover our likes and dislikes, abilities and inabilities, our strengths and weaknesses. Maybe it’s because it is such a transitional time in our lives and we have many opportunities to test our wings in a still relatively safe way while we are still at home and under the watchful eye of our parents. Maybe it’s because we are beginning to make decisions with long-lasting tentacles that intertwine themselves into the fabric of our future lives.

Personally, whatever the reason that high school is so memorable and lasting, the biggest part of it was the teachers who chose such a difficult job as teaching high school - hoping to make a difference, but probably never realizing how much difference in the lives of young people they really made. They are what made high school so formative for me. That is what I really started out to talk about: the lasting effect that high school teachers can have on us.

When I think of the teachers I had in high school I realize that a big part of who I am today is because of what they taught and how they taught it. I remember the life lessons I learned from my high school teachers (and coaches for that matter). Here are just a few I want to mention:

Barbara Sinclair – freshman English. Mrs. Sinclair had a list on her wall and she always said to us that if we learned nothing else in her class, she would be content if we simply learned the lessons on “The List.” Here are the things I remember from “The List”. 1) Yoda’s advice to Luke – “Tend to where you are.” I remember always thinking of this when my concentration would wane or when I was distracted and had to refocus on where I was or what I was supposed to be doing. 2)Act as if…then you will become….” She told us, “If you want to be an ‘A’ student, act like one and you will become one.” She would also say that it works the other way too. The fastest way to be a loser is to act like a loser. 3) Delay gratification. If it’s worth having; it’s worth waiting for. A lot of sadness in this world is rooted in the quest for immediate gratification of our wants, desires or lusts.

Dennis Hall – varsity basketball coach & school counselor. He taught us girls on the basketball team the importance of being ladies in our thoughts, speech and actions. He taught us that when we play basketball, we are representatives of our school and win or lose we should conduct ourselves appropriately. Lastly he taught us that winning is most definitely NOT everything. We can lose a game and hold our heads high if we did our best and represented ourselves and the school well in all we said and did.

Mary Ann Poe – JV basketball coach & Spanish. She taught me that it’s okay to say no to your friends if you know it’s wrong. She taught that the only safe sex is ABSTINANCE!

Madaline Floyd – calculus. Mrs. Floyd taught me to always be prepared (especially for her pop quizzes.)

John Abrams – chemistry & swim team coach. He taught me that laughter and kindness make life sweet.

I don't know where you all are today, but to you my high school teachers - I honor and thank you. Thanks for the memories, and the lessons!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Maybe I’m Just a Sucker

I have a nephew who is always a victim; usually of his own imagination, but occasionally a real need or injury is present.

What do you do with the boy who cries wolf all the time?

How does a person perceive the real need and ignore the false cries for help?

When should I step in to help; when should I let him learn from life experience; and when do I simply ignore his blubbering?

I think every parent (or person in place of a parent) struggles with things like this. My problems are: 1) he doesn’t live with us, but he used to and I still feel like I have to rush to his rescue. Besides, my brother-in-law (his father) does little or nothing for him; 2) I am not always in a position to know or ascertain all the facts; and 3) as my oldest son tells me, “Mom you’re a sucker for a sad story.”

So here’s an example. He comes to me and complains that his younger brothers don’t listen to him and are disrespectful. He wants to move back in with us to escape his brothers. They don’t let him do his homework because they think he should do all the chores because he is the oldest, etc., etc.

I tell him that things are no different in most families, he needs to have patience and that respect is something that is earned rather than demanded. His eyes begin to glaze over, and “blah, blah, blah,” is all he hears.

I have taken the hook, though, and he is reeling me in. He seizes his opportunity and begins, “My brothers always spend all the money so we don’t have food money for breakfast and lunch. I only get to eat one meal a day. Look at my face, I am so skinny now.”

So what do I do?

I start to feel sorry for him. (He really does look thinner to me.)

I tell him to come over every afternoon to do his homework; I give him some money, send him some credit for his phone and tell him to stop by the house for lunch tomorrow.

Reflection time:

Was most of what he said true? Sort of. I found out that there was a grain of truth and a sprinkle of accuracy, but most was just exaggeration or making the exception seem like the rule.

Did I do too much? Probably.

Did he take advantage of my sympathy/pity? Definitely. Pity is a powerful force. This nephew is a master at soliciting pity and sympathy. He can wring every last drop of it from someone and walk away richer for his troubles.

Will it happen to me again? Probably. Like my son said, I’m a sucker for a sad story.

I think of it this way: I’d rather be a sucker than be too selfish and fail to do enough for him. So, here’s to all the suckers out there.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Are you a keeper?

I was at the market and saw a man wearing a t-shirt that said, “I’m a Keeper!” My first reaction was to look at his face to see if he was handsome enough to justify his wearing that shirt. He wasn’t. “So much for being a keeper,” I thought. When my cynicism wore off though, my thoughts turned to some less shallow things that would have made him a “keeper”. What qualities in a person would make him/her a keeper??

I looked at the people I love and enjoy being around and tried to identify the qualities that I value in them the most. Here are a few I’ve come up with:

1) Obedience. I thought of how my children behave and of their willingness to obey. It feels so wonderful when my children obey what I have asked of them even if they don’t like it or agree with me. I think of when I worked in a finance office and later as I ran a preschool. The employees I appreciated the most were those who did what they were asked to do without anyone nagging or reminding them.

2) Forgiveness. I am very quick to judge and slow to listen – hence the requirement for me to often ask forgiveness of others for hurt feelings or misunderstandings. How grateful I am to my family members, friends, and others I interact with who willingly and repeatedly forgive me when I do something rude or insensitive or just plain selfish.

3) Love. My husband is very good at overlooking the surface and looking to the heart of the matter or person. I ascribe this to the fact that he is a loving person. On days when I feel like road kill and look worse (hair hanging in my face, sweat trickling down my back and face, smears of peanut butter or garden dirt on my clothes, and my last ounce of patience used up hours earlier) he looks at me and says, “you look beautiful honey.” Or when I am confused and can’t seem to cut through to the heart of an issue to see a clear decision, my husband says simply, “you are very capable and no matter what you choose I am sure you can make it work.” Love breaks down so many barriers and clears your vision like nothing else can. How blessed I am.

4) Industriousness. There is nothing so sad as a person with so much potential wasting it in laziness or inactivity. I value those who can work and work hard. Through work we are blessed and receive far more than a physical reward for our work. We receive spiritual and emotional rewards that build self esteem and make us feel like we can conquer the world. Sad is the man who makes leisure his sole work - he can never take a vacation.

5) Kindness. I am grateful to know a few people in my life who would never consider saying anything bad about anyone else. They always look for the good in others. They can almost always be found thinking of others and doing things to help them. When there is an argument between others they are always there striving to keep the peace. When confronted with another person bent on being contentious, they refuse to take the bait and get upset, and many times will simply walk away. Kindness is a quality I need to develop in myself.

Now back to the guy with the t-shirt…. What makes you a keeper? What makes other around us keepers? I am going to try to look for the good in others around me and find out what makes each one of them a keeper.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Red eyes and white clouds

Recently my family had the distinct privilege of having pink eye. My first reaction was of course a negative one: “Great, now I get to deal with grumpy kids wiping at their eyes and spreading the germs everywhere so I will get pink eye too. I DON’T have time for pink eye!” Well needless to say, the most contagious disease in the world found its way into my eyes.

My sons and I suffered through our uncomfortable ordeal while my daughter and husband - somehow immune – experienced nothing! I felt like shouting “I hate you” at them as my eyes watered profusely and discharged enough gunk to supply millions of science classes with bacteria cultures….

While we were thus suffering, I remembered the saying that every cloud has a silver lining, and I’m like, “Yeah, sure. Not this one.” As I wipe my eyes and put on my sunglasses to keep the light from making my eyes hurt and from becoming a gushing, bacterial-infested waterfall. (Can you tell that I’m a germophobe?)

Little did I know that my silver lining was about to appear. To escape from the monotony and boredom in the house, I took a mattress out onto the front porch, donned my sunglasses and lay down to enjoy the breeze and the sound of the birds. MY little four year-old was already out on the front porch with his sunglasses on singing and talking to himself. When he saw me he came and lay down with me. As he cuddled in close he looked up at the clouds in the sky. His chubby little hands guided my face upward to see the clouds too. “Look Mommy I see a trotadaddle [crocodile]. Look, look, da trotadaddle is eating a big piggy.” As I lay with him I too began to see shapes, events and stories unfold to us in the clouds. We spent an hour watching the clouds and laughing and talking together.

Silver lining??? No, it was GOLDEN!!! Had I not had pink eye – I would have been rushing around too busy and caught up in my “important” things to stop and enjoy time with my son.

I thank my Heavenly Father for red eyes and white clouds!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Home Alone

Today was the first time in over 18 years that I have been home alone.

I feel to pause and savor the moment.

What will I do first? I think I will call all my friends and go out for breakfast with them. Or maybe I will spend the while day uninterrupted on the computer. Maybe read all the books I have started over the last few months but never had time to finish. Maybe do some exercise, clean the house the right way (since the kids could care less if they do it right or not), or even jump on my bed in celebration. I think I'll observe this day annually as my independence day!

Okay now that I have savored and dreamed let me reveal the truth.:

What did I do as soon as I got home from dropping off my babies (aged 7 & 4) at school? My babies who remind me daily that they are "NOT BABIES anymore! We are big and grown up boys, Mom." And I say to them "you will always be my babies even when you're old men." They laugh and roll their little brown eyes at their silly Mom. Anyway, I walk in the house after dropping them off and I sit down on the couch and ......... CRY. I cried harder than when I sent my oldest son off to school for the first time.

If I had my way I would keep all the kids home with me forever. I love spending time with them, talking and laughing with them, watching them learn something new, and laugh and play with each other. ( I will not miss the bickering though). I look back on my childhood and adolescence and think of my Mom and all she must have felt as she watched her children learn, grow, and eventually leave her. I am not ready for my kids to grow up. I feel like a little kid whose best friends have moved away.

My Dad once said that boys when they grow up leave and don't come home again, but girls - they leave and keep coming back. Maybe my Mom feels a little better than I do because she had a houseful of girls with a couple boys thrown in the mix. I have all boys. I miss them all already and they haven't even left yet.

I look at their baby pictures on the wall and say to them, "Why can't you just stay small a little longer? The world can be a scary place - just stay here with me - Okay?"

I repeat - I am not ready for my kids to grow up!!! My oldest will graduate from High school this year. Every time I think of that I want to cry all over again. He was the one I experimented all my parenting strategies on (and wound up throwing away all the parenting books). He taught me how to look at life with excitment, and wonder. He is still patiently teaching me everyday how to be a better mom, a better friend, and a better person.

I have watched him grow from a michevious little boy (that would put Dennis the Menace to shame) into a mature, responsible young man. I want to say to him the same thing I say to my little boys, "You will always be my baby even when you're an old man. I thank my Heavenly Father for the priviledge of being your mother."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Just some green fuzz

Over the last week we have had over 12 inches of rainfall. That's not even the official amount which is somewhat higher I am sure - that is just my little son's rain meter measurement. His little measurer is only 4 inches high and he had to empty it three times. The rain is not so bad even when the street in front of my house becomes a river, and the backyard becomes a river/lake. In fact I like rain, even hard torrential rain but...

Here are my issues:

1) that my kids keep escaping from the house to swim in the storm surge (AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!) Visions of typhoid fever, and other horrible diseases and parasitic infestations play in my mind. What make this even more disgusting is the fact that most of the country uses the toiletry system designed in the dark ages: The Outhouse. Yummmy! Not only do we get the runoff from all the neighbors' dog poo, but we also get all of their poo too! Every night I check the kids for fever, make them take antibiotics as a precautionary measure and pray!

2) The river/lake in my back yard has now become a stagnant cesspool with a lovely green fuzz growing all in it and making a scummy surface on the top of the water. I am sure in a few days all the mosquito larvae will emerge in their adult form to feast on us and give us all Dengue and Malaria! The other challenge with the back yard being a stagnant lake of filth and algae is that I do not own a clothes drier so I have to make several trips daily through the muck to the clothes line to hang and bring in the many loads of laundry our family generates!

I am back to the thoughts of parasitic infestations and typhoid...needless to say every time I have to venture out I soak my feet in disinfectant the minute I am back in the house. My husband finds this amusing - I might too someday. For now I am just battling germs, parasites, and the green fuzz. I can't wait for a couple days of sun to bring out the stench!!!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Like a dog to his vomit

I just came from a youth basketball tournament. Here in Samoa they call it basketball even though it is more like rugby. It is the same every year they have this tournament: The refs are crooked and never call the game right; the other teams cheat and play overage players; the players play dirty and scratch, trip, and punch; and then everyone bellyaches and moans about it but then continue to turn up year after year for the same torture.

Would it be too much to ask that we as a team boycott the tourney on moral grounds?or maybe on physical abuse grounds?? Today I saw a dislocated shoulder, multiple elbows to the face and LOTS of frustration. Why do we return EVERY year to the same treatment? Why does everyone tolerate it in the name of "fun" or exercise or title defense or some other rubbish reason? Sometimes I think I am the only realist of the bunch. Why complain about the tournament and then continue to return to it year after year? JUST STOP PARTICIPATING!!! Why is it so hard? It is quite refreshing actually to walk away from the stinking pile of vomit.

Don't get me wrong I LOVE basketball but what this tournament is doesn't even come close to basketball. The game of basketball when played right is a beautiful thing of fluid motion. A quick layup, an impossible pass, a 20-foot swish, an unimaginable three-pointer. It has excitment, finesse, and can be pure poetry in motion. I think an entrance requirement to play (or ref) in this tournament should be to watch games from 25+ years ago. The names of Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Kareem Abdul-Jabar are lost on these players and refs who try hard to immitate thugs rather than play out of love for the game. The name of this game is: who can win at any cost or how much damage can we inflict on the other team.

I remember my high school basketball coach. He was always more worried about us than our win-loss record. He would always tell us: you are ladies first, representatives of this school second, and lastly basketball players. Don't get me wrong, he trained us and coached us hard and we had our fair share of success, but we were taught our priorities and that helped the defeats taste a little better. Thanks coach for all the memories and life lessons! Too bad they don't teach the same thing to the youths and officials in this tournament.

I for one am boycotting the rest of the tourney - everyone else can enjoy their vomit - steaming fresh!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hey Baby

Recently I was driving down the road after having dropped off teenagers at a church youth activity and was extremely surprised to hear a "Hey Baby!" flung my direction. At first I looked around to see if it was really me they were talking to. Must have been, unless they were talking to the dog who was licking himself!

Here I am: whiter than paper, overweight, puffy eyes, and having the mother of bad hair days. Were they really serious or just teasing - what did they think they were gonna get out of saying that???? Either way, it annoyed me that I was the butt of their joke and they were being rude.

As soon as I realized they were talking to me, my hand did something obsene, but so quickly I just barely detected the choice taking place - it was almost so smooth and fluid that it denoted involuntary reaction. I admit I am very ashamed for having done it - can I obtain forgivness easier if they deserved it???

Now I get to feeling guilty for not just ignoring them. I made a split-second decision: a bad one. Sad, though that my only thought was: "I hope I was far enough away from the chapel that none of the youth or leaders saw that."

To quote one of my favorite country singers, Alan Jackson, "I'm a work in progress." Aren't we all. I decided from then on to be more forgiving and tolerant of others - now the real test: Will I remember the next time a "hey baby" is flung my way??? Or am I being too optimistic; have the days of my "hey baby" reached expiration? I'll keep you posted...

The Samoan National Bird

I live on a small dot in the Pacific where the national bird is supposed to be the Manumea (some sort of wild pigeon or dove or something) that is found only here. I think the government should choose a new national bird, though. I was in town shopping today fighting the crowds, rain, mud, and my nominee for the new national bird: ...drumroll please... THE MOSQUITO. Anything that stood still for more than two second had the priviledge to receive a visit from one of these blood sucking parasites. Not so unusual, I suppose, but at one point I looked down at my legs and noticed sixteen at once which didn't even flinch when I tried to shoo them away. If I kept standing there I wonder how many would have feasted on me and how many of them it would have taken before I was lifted off the ground and taken home as their prize kill.

If the government made them the national bird maybe I could get some perks for voluntarily (unknowingly voluntarily) feeding them: A nice car with the a big bumper sticker that says "Long live the mosquito" or something similarly stupid. Or maybe a year-long pass to the spa for mud bath treatments to counteract the effects of all the mosquito bites. I would even agree to be bitten if it would qualify me for decent health care - the state health care system (if it can be called a system at all) is beyond a joke to the point of being nightmarish. Come on prime minister Tuilaepa - let's be realistic and change the national bird and start receiving the perks!

Love the live the mosquito - NOT!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The miracle of sound

I was just sitting listening to my kids talk and play and was struck by the wonder of speech and sound and how our ears work. Sounds dorky, I know. Think about it though: somehow sound can travel from someone or something and reach your ears almost simultaneously and then your brain processes those sounds into recognized words, voices, music,etc. I marvel at it. I know there is a God because I cannot imagine that something so wonderful as sound and hearing could have come about by chance or evolution no matter how many billions of years it supposedly took.