Saturday, May 31, 2014

A few new ones for the Bill of Rights...

Americans talk a lot about rights. Right to free speech, right to vote, right to bear arms (don't get me started on that one -- Guns in playgrounds, libraries, and bars? Really? A rant for another time...), etc. I think, in this new age of selfishness and narcissism, we should all have some new rights. Rights that help to protect us from the rudeness, insensitivity, and stupidity of those around us. (Or, at least make us feel a whole lot better!)

For example:

Shouldn't I have the right to run over the idiot who walked right out in front of my car, without even looking up from the cell phone on which she was furiously texting? Seriously, shouldn't I? It wasn't even a crosswalk, people. Just a curb on a busy street. I had to SLAM on my breaks, scaring the hell out of myself and my little guys. She didn't even look up from her phone. C'mon, should I really be blamed? Really? My fault, or hers?

If a guy throws his disgusting, smelly, smoking cigarette butt onto the sidewalk right in front of me and my little boys as we're walking into Crazy Mike's to rent a movie (Yes, we still do that local business right? It's not ALL about Netflix, people! Engage with the world! I digress....), do I have the right to pick it up, run up to him, say, "Hey, buddy, you must have accidentally dropped this litter on the planet we all share. I'm sure you actually meant to throw it away, 'cuz you couldn't possibly be that selfish and you go!" and hand it back to him, preferably burning ember side first??? Or, better yet, follow him to his house and dump my trash on the floor of his living room?

If I'm waiting in line behind a young woman at the grocery store, after a long, hard day at work, and her turn comes up, but she continues to just stand there yakking on her cell phone about the "fat, hairy, OMG, you have no idea how disgusting he was!" guy she went out with last night while the checker and I just stare blankly at her, waiting for her to pull her head out of her a** (yeah, true story), shouldn't it be within my rights to just walk around her and take my turn? Or, "accidentally" just slam into the back of her legs with my shopping cart? A slightly more violent alternative...

If a neighbor stands in his front yard, talking and laughing with his buddies, while his dog runs into our front yard and drops a big, heaping, steaming pile of poo in the middle of it -- while he stands there and watches -- and then he just goes back inside his house, do I have the right to pick up that steaming pile of poo with a shovel and spread it around on his front doorstep, so that HE can be the one to step in it, instead of one of my kids?

I'm thinking that I might be on to something here. Reasonable, courteous people of the world unite! Let's demand our right to live in a world where people actually give a rip about those around them, or at least suffer some consequences if they don't, eh? Who's with me???

Cheers!  Beth

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Totally Self-Serving Post!

I have noticed that writing is sometimes a really great outlet for pent-up frustration. And, it's a lot quieter than yelling, cussing, and screaming, eh? With that in mind, this post will be short and sweet....

AAAAAAARGH!!!!!!  Clueless Husbands!
AAAAAAARGH!!!!!!  Negative Co-Workers!
AAAAAAARGH!!!!!!  Parents enabling their kids!
AAAAAAARGH!!!!!!  Children who complain when you put a nice dinner in front of them!
AAAAAAARGH!!!!!!  Dog diarrhea on the carpet!
AAAAAAARGH!!!!!!  Working full-time while trying to raise little kids!
AAAAAAARGH!!!!!!  I can't fit into my pants anymore!

As Forrest Gump would say, "That's all I have to say about that!"
I actually feel a little bit better.



Friday, May 23, 2014

A harsh dose of reality...

So, last night I went to a conference with a group of my students. The crowd was mixed -- Students from 6th - 12th grade, college kids, young adults, and a few older folks as well. Among the crowd were members of the Nooksack Tribe, representing several generations. They played traditional ceremonial music for us to open the conference and then welcomed us to visit the buffet. As we moved along the tables, one of the tribe members got on the microphone and asked the younger generation to step aside and invite "the elders" to fill their plates first. I paused, thinking to myself, "What a lovely thing to do." Until the 20-something, perky little blonde in front of me, turned around with a big smile and said, "Would you like to go ahead of me?"

Good lord, I'm an "elder!"



Thursday, May 22, 2014

OMG. Sometimes dads are so clueless!

So, Father's Day is coming up, right? As moms around the world shop for something special to give as a gift to the father of their children and help their kids work on cute art projects and cards and such to celebrate his special day, all while also planning something special for their own fathers (and fathers-in-law), I can't help but reflect back to another recent special day....Mother's Day. Personally, I can't complain one bit about the treatment I received this year. My hubby and kids rocked it! Early morning donuts, super-cute cards hand-made by my little guys, late morning brunch, hanging flower baskets for the front and back decks, and a relaxed, geeky evening spent all curled up in bed together watching Star Trek Next Generation reruns...I felt very loved, appreciated, and special. Which is the way it should be for all moms. Which brings me back to the point of this whole diatribe.

The week following Mother's Day, I found myself talking with a neighbor, a very nice man with two small boys and a lovely, hard-working wife. As we made small talk, I asked him if he had spoiled his wife for Mother's Day. His response? Wait for it..... "Well, she's not MY mom!" The moment the words spilled out of his mouth and he saw the look on my face, he knew he had spoken them to the wrong woman. I could see him mentally trying to rewind what had just happened, even as I took a deep breath and prepared to give him the verbal beating he had earned for making that comment. Poor guy. He deserved it, but still...I feel a little bit sorry for him. We're still friends, but the "Wrath of Beth" isn't pretty. Following is a rough, reconstructed transcript of the conversation that occurred:

Me:    "What did you just say?!!!"

Him:  "Umm....what?"

Me:    "Did you just say 'She's not MY mom?'"

Him (In a defensive, whiny little boy tone of voice):  "Well, she isn't my mom."

Me:    "Is she the mother of your children?"

Him:  "Yes."

Me:    "Does she take good care of your little boys and nurture them and cook healthy meals for them and take them to the doctor and teach them how to be good people and have a happy life?"

Him (Miserably):   "Um, yes."

Me:    "And, does she take good care of you as well? Does she make you feel good and support you and have your back? Does she do something special for you every Father's Day and get the kids to do something special too?"

Him: (Almost inaudibly):  "Yes."

Me:    "And, do your little boys need to appreciate and respect her for all that she does? Do they need to show her how much they love her and take time out to thank her for being their mom? Hmmmm? How are they supposed to learn that, if you're not modeling it for them?!!"

Him:  "Um..."

Me:   "And, here's another thing! There are 5 days minimum where you need to make an extra effort to show love and appreciation to your wife."

Him:  "Five?"

Me:    "One -- Her birthday. Two -- Your anniversary. Three, Mother's Day. Four, Christmas or Hannukah, if you celebrate it. Five, Valentine's Day."

Him:  "But those are just--"

Me:    "If you are even thinking of saying that those are just holidays invented by greeting card companies to make money, you'd just better zip it right now! Doesn't your wife deserve to be celebrated and appreciated on at least 5 days every year? Shouldn't she be able to count on a little extra love and effort on just 5 days? 5 days out of the 365 days she spends taking care of you and your family? And, so what if greeting card companies are making money on it? They make it easy for you -- You get reminders, gift ideas, and you can even buy a card that says all the loving things she deserves to hear but you don't ever say! Seriously! There's NO excuse!"

Him:  "Uh --"

Me:    "And, one more thing....You'd better not stop celebrating her on Mother's Day when the kids are grown up and gone. She is still the mother of your children, and you owe her love and gratitude for the rest of your life for all of the blood, sweat, and tears she has poured into helping you raise them!"

Him:   "I feel really bad. I used to be more romantic."

Me (No mercy!):    "You should feel bad. Fix it! Take her out for a nice dinner or something. Better yet, you and the boys clean the house, do all of the laundry and empty the dishwasher. Then, hire a sitter and take her out to her favorite restaurant. And, start being romantic and appreciative on those 5 days, at least. You'll end up reaping the benefit in the long run. You know it's true."

Him:   "I know. I'm gonna do it."

Me:    "Good! You'll feel better too."

He sort of slinked away, shoulders down, looking like a guilty little kid, while I stood there full of righteous frustration for moms everywhere. Later, he came and told me that he did take her out to dinner and apologized for not celebrating her on Mother's Day. Baby steps...

So, I fight the fight for moms around the world! (And, by the way, it's just as important for us to celebrate and acknowledge our partners on those 5 days, at least. So, before you go getting all cocky, none of us are off the hook...)

Happy Romancing! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

You Say It's Your Birthday, da dum dum dum dee doooo....It's my birthday too!

So, it's my 46th birthday. Happy birthday to meeeeee......Happy birthday to meeee.......Happy birthday dear meeeeeeeee......Happy birthday to meeeeee...... I have to admit that I am a little tipsy as I write this. Thank you to my lovely blonde amazon friend, who took me out for a post-work glass of wine (or two -- I'll never tell) and a big birthday dose of healthy belly laughing (burns calories and lowers your body's production of cortisol). I decided that our waiter looked like he should be from Scotland, shared this piece of information with him, and he then did his darndest to speak in a Scottish brogue the whole time he served us. He even did a little semi-strip tease with his apron, as we chuckled about what he might wear under a kilt.... Lucky me, after this bout of friendship and laughter, I then came home to a family who covered me in hugs and kisses, a husband who handed me thai food and a glass of champagne, a tail-wagging doggy, and a shed that is NOT going to be worked on tonight, in spite of best intentions several hours ago at work, when I loudly proclaimed, "Even though it's my birthday, I'm going to work on building the shed tonight. Have to take advantage of the sunny weather, you know!" Whatever! Seemed reasonable at the time...

I sit, now, at my kitchen table, glass of champagne to my right (not too close to my laptop, brother mine, don't worry! I am aware of your rule: "NO FOOD OR DRINK NEAR THE NEW LAPTOP!"), looking out onto my back deck at the pieces of the shed we are constructing scattered throughout the backyard as if to say, accusingly, "Why haven't you painted me yet? Why haven't you put me together yet?", while the boys get ready for bed and hubby cleans up the dinner mess. (!) Just got off the phone with the most amazing Dad in the world, who never shies away from calling me out on my crap, but continues to love me unconditionally, in spite of my myriad flaws. Missing my Mom like crazy and wishing I could hold her hand and hear her laugh, but feeling incredibly lucky to be living the life I live. Did I mention that HUBBY is cleaning up the dinner mess??? Birthdays are great!

Seriously, birthdays ARE great! I have friends who hate birthdays, bemoan the passing years, lie about their ages, and just want to hide until the day is over. Not me, man! I say, "Bring it!" Most days, I embrace the philosophy that every single year we have is a gift. I'm not "46 years old." Instead, "I have the gift of 46 years!" Now, maybe I won't feel this way at 50, I dunno. And, there are times where I look in the mirror and feel a bit sad about the ravages of gravity.....But, I hope that I continue to view aging with an overarching attitude of gratitude. Maybe it's losing my Mom to cancer that has me feeling so appreciative of every year, maybe it's having little kids at my "Advanced Maternal Age" keeping me young, who knows?  (By the way, A.M.A is a real thing. When I was pregnant at the age of 37, my OBGYN said, "Do you know what A.M.A. stands for?" "American Medical Association?" I asked innocently. "No, Advanced Maternal Age." Seriously? How is that good for an expectant Mom to hear, I ask you? You're an old fart who shouldn't be having kids at your age???
That's helpful, doc. Anyway, I digress...and blame it on the champagne.)

Here's the thing, though. I embrace each year, because I have a wonderful life. I am the luckiest person I know! In spite of my frequent whining and complaining, I have a husband who happens to be my best friend, a genuinely nice person, and easy on the eyes, two fascinating little boys who keep me guessing and inspire me to be a better person, a career that fills me and feeds me and makes me feel like I'm giving back to the world, a small group of wonderful friends who keep me laughing through the tears, family members who'll be there for me in a pinch, a big brother who looks out for me and respects me and sees the best in me, and parents who taught me to be resilient and optimistic and fearless! Yes, I have strange health conditions that give life some extra challenges, but they also make me stronger. Yes, I lost my wonderful mother to that bitch, "Cancer", but how lucky I was to have been raised by someone so special. And, while my job sometimes makes me want to chuck it all and move to an island, especially this year, it helps me to make a difference in the world, and at least I'm not cleaning toilets for a living. My house is so small that the walls start to close in from time to time, but it's full of love and singing and giggles. And, yes, I would like to have buckets of money, but we have enough to keep a roof over our heads, pay the bills, go on dates from time-to-time, and even go on the occasional family vacation. That's more than most people have.

So, lucky, lucky, lucky 46-year-old me. Happy birthday to me, and may the rest of you have a year as full of love and laughter as I'm going to have...

Cheers!  Beth

Saturday, May 10, 2014

When Animals Attack!

Have you ever seen that show, "When Animals Attack!"??? It's full of stories about people being bitten by sharks or attacked by cougars...shocking, super-gruesome stories! I know you're gonna think I'm one sick puppy for saying this, but I think it's awesome! So, do my boys. Chips off the old block...It's all very exciting, but nobody usually dies. They just get horribly maimed. Plus, it's usually someone doing something ridiculously stupid, like walking up to a bison after ignoring all of the signs that say, "Stay away from the bison! DANGER! DANGER!"So, you're kinda rooting for the animals...Nature cleaning up the human gene pool by weeding out some of the stupid, y'know?

Anyway, we have our own version of the show going on in our backyard. Not too gruesome, though, and the humans really aren't doing anything stupid. Our chapter of the show would be called, "When Hummingbirds Attack!" Stop giggling! Seriously! Have YOU ever been dive-bombed by an irate male hummingbird defending "his" food supply? Ever felt the brush of buzzing hummingbird wings against the side of your head and heard a terrifying sound, like the buzz of a miniature chainsaw or some giant, mutant mosquito, mere millimeters from your tender, exposed earlobe? Ever had to dodge and weave, narrowly missing dangerous backyard deck hazards, like BBQ's, cheap patio furniture and a variety of potted plants, as a small, sharp-beaked jet plane, glowing red like Katniss in "Girl On Fire", attempts to drive you away, while your black lab mix cowers in fear of the terror from above? (So much for defending your masters, dog!) No? Well, it's traumatizing. And, sort of hilarious at the same time. Especially when the damn bird is attacking you while you're trying to get to its feeder to fill it with more nectar!

Wait just a minute...We keep feeding it, even while it attacks us? Now that I think about it, maybe the humans are being sort of stupid in this scenario...Go Nature!

Cheers!  -Beth

Thursday, May 8, 2014

"What happened to Chicken Nugget Mama?" or "Where the hell have I been the last 2 years?"

Hi there! I've been gone awhile. Just logged back on and realized it's actually been a LONG while - much longer than I thought. Why, you may ask? Did I leave blogging to write a best-selling novel? Did I win the lottery and move to a tropical island to live out my life in a constant state of zen? Did my big mouth and opinionated, obstinate personality finally get me punched, resulting in a serious concussion and a long battle with temporary amnesia? None of the above. But, things got a little hairy there for a bit. I was feeling really negative, and I was getting sick of the sound of my own whining. So, I thought I needed to take a break from writing until I had something positive to say. Had to go find my optimism and get reacquainted!!! I am happy and relieved to say that I did find it. My optimism, that is. It was way, way, way back in the bottom of my closet, underneath the cowboy boots I just had to have, but almost never really wear, and the shirts that won't ever stay on their damn hangers and slip off into the bottom of the closet so many times that you finally just give up and leave them down there. Anyway, I dusted it off, reattached it, and I will never allow myself to lose it again. Fact: Life is just easier when you can look at it through an optimistic lens. Doesn't change that s**t happens, but it makes it a little less smelly!

Some good things have happened. Like, hubby finally got a new job. An 8 to 5, normal job, with weekends and even some holidays off. The boys and I (aka "the three musketeers") finally got him back! It has been absolutely amazing having my partner & best buddy around again. Those nights, weekends, and holiday hours were really hard on us. And, let's face it, part of the reason I was so stoked, was simply because I needed some help around here! I did the "single parenting while working full-time" thing for 4 long years, and I was full-on, sob-in-the-kitchen-while-trying-to-put-away-groceries, sleep-with-your-clothes-and-make-up-on, pass-out-while-in-mid-sentence-with-your-friend-on-the-phone, exhausted! And, frankly, way too tired for any sort of - ahem - intimacy...if you know what I mean. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, "Say no more!" (That last comment, was for all the other Monty Python fans out know who you are!) Seriously, though, y'know how you get so friggin' wiped out and so sick of taking care of everybody else's needs that sex starts to feel like just another responsibility to check off your to-do list? Pick up groceries - check, make kids' dentist appointment - check, throw laundry in the dryer - check, have sex with hubby before he explodes - check.....No? You honestly haven't ever felt that way? Then, you are either blessed with the sex drive of a 17 year old, testosterone-fueled teenage boy, are in a new relationship, are under the age of 35, or have no children!!! Bless your little heart! Hope it stays that way for you.....Anyway, after a fairly bumpy adjustment period, during which we had to figure out how to operate as partners again without committing spouse-icide (is that a word?) we muddled our way through and got back to being best friends, who also happen to be in love. Awwwwwwww....cue the sappy music. Anyhoo, all good there. We are a walking advertisement for sticking together through those tough times where you don't really like each other all that much but are committed enough to trust that things will get better over time. Woot woot! Yay, us!

Other good things? My boys are amazing. Now, almost 9 and 10, they are so much friggin' fun at this stage! They're at that age where they still need me, still love on me and hug me and snuggle with me, still give me a smooch in the car and flash me the "I love you" sign when I drop them off at school (Well, only Foster does that last part. Thanks, Fos. Makes my day every time!), BUT they can also entertain themselves for long periods of time without destroying the house, the dog, or each other, get themselves a snack, and even help out -- without being ASKED -- once in a while. I actually had a full 30 minutes of uninterrupted bathroom time last weekend! No one saying, "Mooooommmmmmm......he touched me!", "Moooooooooommmmmm.....I'm bored!", "Mooooooooommmmmmmmmm.....I'm hungry!" So, even though I didn't NEED a full 30 minutes in the bathroom, I stayed in there anyway, just 'cuz I could, reading all about George Clooney's new fiancé in peace and quiet. Shut up. Trashy entertainment magazines are one of my coping mechanisms. It's a guilty pleasure. Don't judge me!

My job is going......well, it's going. I can honestly say that this has been the worst professional year for me in 14 years of being a school counselor. I'm hanging in there, though, 'cuz even though I kind've hate my job this year, due to lots of circumstances and events that would bore you to tears, I also know, in my heart-of-hearts, that I really do love what I do, overall. Maybe not this year, but overall. It fills me, it feeds me, it makes me feel like I'm giving back to the world and helping guide some really precious young folks along the way to adulthood. So, I will not let one truly crappy year drive me away! We'll see what I'm saying at this time next year, eh?

But, here's the other reason I didn't write for so long. My mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer (pancreatic, in case you're wondering), and I lost my mojo. As I struggled to guide and support this wonderful, gentle, kind, funny woman through her last months of life, I tried to turn to writing to cope...but I couldn't make the words come out. Simply couldn't do it. When she gave up her valiant fight on February 15, 2013, I sat down again to write about her. I wanted to pour my heart out in homage to the most important woman in my life. I wanted to tell the world about how she never really enjoyed a meal, because she was so busy watching to make sure everyone else was enjoying theirs, how she put everyone else's needs above her own, how she could talk endlessly to a complete stranger and make them feel like they were her most important priority, how she unconditionally loved - and truly understood - my challenging younger son, patiently teaching him how to crochet, never giving up on him, ferociously loving him, even when he was at his most challenging and unlovable, how she would tell me that I'm a good mom, when I was bawling my eyes out and feeling like I didn't know what the hell I was doing and was probably wrecking my children for life, how much I loved her twinkly blue eyes and her hands -- thin, delicate, fingers that were almost always freezing cold but could make me feel so comforted and safe... I wanted to say all of that and more. But the words wouldn't come...So I stopped trying.

Now, here I am -- Two years after my last post, three days before my second Mother's Day without my own mom, still missing her every single day, but finding myself suddenly ready to write again. So, watch out world, 'cuz Chicken Nugget Mama is back, to record my stubborn opinions, random thoughts, and the events of my life -- the exciting and, more frequently, the mundane -- for my boys to read someday. When they're older. A lot, lot, lot older. And, for friends and random strangers to read, if they feel like it. 'Cuz there's something kind've cool about throwing your thoughts out into the universe, knowing that maybe somewhere there's another exhausted, flustered, stubbornly optimistic mom or dad, who's just trying to muddle through the best they can, same as me...

Cheers!  -Beth