THE PLAN…it rules our lives!

I was just having this interesting conversation with one of the few people in the world I’d call my sister, Brea, on Facebook. She posted a note about how spontaneous youthful road trips have grown into “planned responsible scheduling”.


I remember days when I had time to just get in the car and go. Sure, I’ve been working since before I was 18, but I always had some extra time on my hands, even when I was in college. Once in a while one of my friends and I would decide to just get in the car and go somewhere. It didn’t have to be far away, it just had to be a place we hadn’t been to before, or hadn’t been to in a long time. You know, just something different to see and do.

These days, I constantly find myself pestering my kids about their job/activities, and wanting to know exactly what they have going on, when, where and what time. Rides have to be given and everyone’s schedule needs to be considered so everyone can get to where they need to be, especially since I have two jobs, Older Son works, and Younger has sports activities. The amalgam of what it is that keeps us so busy every day of every week is what I affectionately call THE PLAN.  Oh, man…it sure gets to be a drag to be so hemmed in by THE PLAN.  I hate that we can’t just get up and do what we feel like, whenever we feel like it. Already the boys are learning that they need to have their own mini versions of THE PLAN, so they can keep themselves straight on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. I think they’ve learned that only because they know their mother will go stark raving mad if there’s no PLAN. If I ask “what’s THE PLAN?,” and the answer is “I dunno,” it sends me right into atmospheric heights of angst. And then I get the shakes, complete with eye twitching. Not pretty.

I gotta have A PLAN at all times or I am a wreck…just gotta. I’m a slave to THE PLAN. One might even say I’m an addict, but I’m sure I could quit at any time if I chose to.(insert snort of derision and disbelief) What a load o’ horse pucky! If I tried to quit THE PLAN, I would no doubt expire due to an anxiety induced panic attack.

However… in all honesty, I have to say that THE PLAN has it’s up side.

I live and die by my work calendar at The Cube Farm. It’s a miraculous thing that tells me when to get up from my desk to go to a meeting, when I have specific tasks I need to do, and when I get to go to lunch. It really is what keeps THE PLAN in motion for me Monday through Friday.   Every day I walk with my friend Clarice , and she’s a hoot. We have a good time. Every Tuesday, I have lunch with my good friend Connie. We only get a half hour together, even though we work in the same building, but I really look forward to them every week. I also have lunch with Brea every Friday. I really look forward to those lunches. Brea helps keep me sane, and provides an opportunity to let my brain go and have fun like nobody else can. All the other days of the work week, I either run errands or have lunch with my parents. They are pretty funny people, and we laugh a lot together over lunch at their house too.

Do I hate THE PLAN? Yeah, mostly I do… but sometimes it works to my advantage to schedule my fun in with the work, so I don’t miss out on it.

Now I must go throw in a load of laundry, and get to bed for the night, because THE PLAN says I have to get up and go to work tomorrow. Again. ‘Night all!

Live and let live – I challenge you to tell me why we can’t.

Fair warning…a rant is about to ensue.

I read an article today about the same-sex marriage debate that is going on in California right now, regarding the judge who ruled that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, and I was shocked to discover that Gov. Schwarzenegger has requested that the stay against same gender couples getting married be lifted. Wow…a Republican is asking that same gendered couples be allowed to marry. It’s about damned time.

In another article published by The Christian Science Monitor (which was a very fair article), one of the reasons given that Proposition 8 should stand is:

“…that the government has a rational reason to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples. They said because marriage is likely to result in children, the state wants to encourage both birth parents to raise their children within a stable household.”

Ok…I’ll be the first one to agree that kids need a stable home life, but the implication that opposite gendered couples are the only ones that can give a child a stable home is complete horse pucky. Opposite gendered parents can be abusers, addicts, dead beats and a whole host of other negative descriptors. The notion that two committed people can’t be together and raise children because of someone else’s so-called “moral” imperatives is just beyond me. If I had two neighbors, each a couple but one opposite gendered, and one same gendered, who do you think I’d pick to look after my own children, or my home when I’m away? I’m going to choose the more honest, stable and common-sense neighbor regardless of who’s married to whom. You are either a good person or not.  You either have common sense, or not. You are either honest or you are not. Your brain being hard-wired to have interest in one gender or another doesn’t enter into it.

It really annoys me that this is even an issue. As far as I can tell, from all that I’ve read, heard and seen, the only reason anyone is fighting to ban same gendered marriage is because it’s a religious issue. If it’s a religious issue, then that needs to be administrated by individual churches and their flocks, which would then have no impact on anyone outside those individual circles. The government has no business telling people who can and can’t marry. Some will say that it is an issue that impacts the insurance industry. I have to call Baloney Sandwiches on that, as I work for a Fortune 500 company that is based out of Europe, and domestic partners of either gender are allowed to be included on our health insurance, which is administrated by an American company.

The bottom line argument has to do with human rights. If two people want to make a life time commitment to each other, what difference does it make if they are same or different genders? The problem is that people are full of ignorance and fear about things that make no matter in their own lives.  If you don’t believe in same gendered marriage then don’t have one, but for crying out loud, let other people run their own lives. See this picture of people holding hands? This is what life should be about…forming positive relationships with people, not finding ways to tear them apart. Really, people… aren’t there more important things to worry about than this?!

If anyone can find a valid reason (not involving religious choices, because that IS a choice) that we shouldn’t allow same gendered people to marry…. bring it. I say live and let live, and I challenge you to tell me why we can’t.

My kids are my parents’ best revenge

I had to get after Younger Son today, and now I feel like crap. I have told him time and time again how to do this particular chore, and he refuses to do it unless pushed

Facsimile of me pulling my hair out, curtesy of Google Images

and prodded, let alone do it right. Once he finally got going on said chore, I heard slamming of things, stomping around and nasty muttering. I’d had it…that was just the last straw, and I let him have it. I told him in no uncertain terms that this behavior was unacceptable and if he didn’t turn his ship around and sail straight, there would be consequences. He finally gave in, just did his job and got it done. Had he just done it to begin with, he’d have been finished a lot sooner.

Parenting is messy. It’s hard and mostly thankless, not that I think I need any thanks…I chose this. It was my decision to bring children into the world and part of that is following through to make sure they have the skills and knowledge they need to be successful once they get on their own. Teenagers being teenagers, aren’t going to blindly follow directions. They have their own thoughts about how things ought to work, and tend to be very black and white in their views. Things are either wrong or they aren’t…not much gray area. I remember being that way, and I am sure that my Mother has most likey just now fallen down in a giggling heap on the floor. I’ve no doubt that she has a detector that picks up on when my kids aren’t at their best, which triggers a manic laughter reaction. She did tell me once that my kids would be her best revenge on me. Now I find myself telling my kids the very same thing. While I can certainly wait to become a grandparent, I’m sure going to enjoy their kids exacting my revenge on my children for me (Muhuwhahahaha!).

What really chaps my cookies is that I had to be the heavy even when their father lived here. He rarely ever disciplined them, unless it was an extreme circumstance. Otherwise he was just the “good time” parent, and he had a tendency to do their chores for them, rather than make them do it themselves. Less confrontation and responsibility that way, you know.

The good news is that I have really good kids. They don’t get into trouble, they get good grades, and generally do what they are told. As things go, I could have it a lot harder.

Now the storm has cleared off and everything is back to normal. Hopefully things will stay that way for a while. I might take on the responsibility of having to be the heavy, but I sure hate doing it.

Drowning in Testosterone only looks harmless in the picture.

I’m a single mother, raising two boys ages 17 & 15. Generally speaking, our house is a veritable testosterone swamp. It’s all about video games, sports, boys clothes, and boys stuff… and boy issues. It’s so pervasive that when I recently renovated my bathroom, I found myself  leaning to a more masculine decor than I might otherwise have liked. My basement has become Older Son’s personal Man Cave.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not a girlie-girl. I don’t like pink or yellow, unless it’s on flowers, and I sure don’t dig flower prints on my furniture. I don’t care for lace much, and don’t even think about trying to get me into a dress…unless it’s that really cool wine-colored celtic dress a dear friend gave me some years back (It rocks, thank you Hel’wyse!). As I child, I spent way more time climbing trees, riding my bike, shooting a BB gun and playing catch with my Dad than I did playing dolls.  Oh, I tried the whole hair and make up thing between the ages of 15 and 22, or so. Turns out I’m allergic to all that gunk that women put on their heads, so I decided just to go natural and quit trying to swim upstream. I itch less and it turns out it’s a very much cheaper way to live. I don’t know how some of these women support their make up/hair habits.

So, given that I am a tom-boy (still) at the age of 41, why would I have any problems with living and breathing in a testosterone-laden atmosphere? I guess it has to do with the lack of balance. I don’t get out with my friends much. I do work with a lot of women, but that doesn’t really count. These last two weeks, just about every time I go out with my boys, I’m meeting my Dad and my Favorite Nephews to go to some neat cultural thing. Not that I don’t want to spend time with them, but I’m starting to feel the lack of not having enough women around. My one fleeting moment of estrogen-wrapped fun this week was my Friday lunch with my friend Brea. It only lasted about 20 minutes or so, but we laughed, and chatted, and it was nice (thanks again for the bracelet!).

So, tonight the boys and I were to pick Dad and the Nephews up and go to the Dakota Territory Air Museum. They had some special shindig going on, with lots of vintage airplanes. Uff-da…another testosterone-soaked activity. I just couldn’t take it any more. So, when we arrived at Mom and Dad’s, I gave Older Son the keys to the van, packed Dad and the Nephews up in the back with Younger Son and wished them a good time. I stayed with Mom while they were gone and it was nice. We chatted awhile, and I helped her out with some stuff on the computer. There were no loud noises, no exhortations on why one aircraft/tank/weapon/ship/video game/computer game is better than another. There was also no arguing (I swear to the Gods my kids argue some times like old ladies fighting over who gets the better bingo card) and there was no COPS on the television.

After they all came back from the aircraft show, I took my boys out to supper and we picked up some movies. The one we watched tonight was called “Whip It”, directed by Drew Barrymore, which is a new release in video stores right now. It’s all about women’s roller derby. I loved it! So, I got to spend time with Mom, and then watch a good movie (it really was good…go rent it) about a girl who is coming of age and trying to be tough enough.

It was a good evening. I think the only thing that would have made it a spectacular evening is if Hel’wyse could have joined in. We miss you, honey!

Kids are smarter than we give them credit for

I am a mother of two boys, ages 17 and 15. If I’ve learned anything in the last 17 years, it’s that kids are smart and they will flog you with their unwavering curiosity and intelligence at every opportunity.

What prompts me to write about this today are two blog postings I read concerning people saying things deemed inappropriate for polite consumption. The first, called A One Armed Stripper Ruined my Lunch, talks about a woman who was trying to have a nice lunch with her kids, when the people sitting next to them began to talk about strippers and all manner of topics related, and her reaction to it.  The second one entitled Feel Free To Swear Around My Children, is a differing view on how to react when situations like the one-armed stripper conversation occur.  I encourage you to read them both, as both have valid points. Not that I want to take sides, as I’ve certainly found myself in similar situations as described in both of these blog posts, but I think I have to say that I agree with the 2nd one more.

Several years ago I won tickets to a Vikings game and so the four of us (before I divorced) went to Minneapolis for a night and to watch the game. Of course, the seats were three rows from the top, and so I found it more entertaining to watch the people around me and visit with my family. After half time, two drunk guys came in and sat down directly behind us… and then the F-Bomb-a-polooza began in earnest.  Generally speaking, I try not to eaves drop on other people’s conversations, and if others want to swear that’s their business. However, when you are packed in together like sardines and the F-Bombs are flying free and fiercely into my ears and the ears of my (at the time) young kids from directly behind our heads, I just couldn’t keep it to myself. The conversation with the guy behind me went something like this:

Drunken Idiot: “Blah, blah, f**ker, blah, blahbity blah. F**k that, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, can you f**king believe that?  You’re f**king right, blah, blah, blah… “ (you get the picture)

Me: (I turned around and looked him in the eye) “Sir, I hate to bother you, but could you please tone down the F-bombs? My kids are sitting right in front of you, and hearing everything you’re saying.”

Drunken Idiot: (His eyes got big and round) “Oh my god, ma’am. I’m so sorry. I was so totally not paying attention. Yes, I will stop that right now.”

Me: (Smiling…his embarrassment was gratifying) “Thanks a bunch, we appreciate it!”

So, we continued to watch the ants, er, players run around on the field and the conversation behind us became less of a distraction. Until he slipped, and then things got funny. His getting the hiccups made it even funnier. It went something like this:

Drunken Idiot: Blah, blah, (hiccup) f**king bastard. (he leans closer, addressing me) OOPS! Sorry about that (hiccup)!  Blah, blah, blah…(hiccup) yadda, yadda, yadda. Yackity, yack. Blah, blah blabbity blah, you’re f**king right! OOPS! (hiccup. He leans into my ear again) Oh crap, Ma’am…sorry about that…my bad!”

Needless to say the kids and I just about wet our pants trying not to laugh at the guy. I have to give him credit for at least trying! The point here is that if someone is being offensive, it’s OK  to politely ask them to stop. If they don’t, at least your kids will know that you tried to do something about an offensive situation. At the very least they are watching to see how we adults react to things, whether we speak up about them or not, and they are soaking it all up like little sponges.

Another thing to consider are the questions children ask because they are naturally curious beings. If they weren’t curious enough to ask what most adults deem as embarrassing questions, they wouldn’t be normal.

A very important thing to know about children is that they know bullshit when they hear bullshit, and they will keep asking questions until they feel they have them all answered. If they ask you a direct question, it’s better to just give them a direct answer without any prevarication or squirming. It doesn’t mean you have to tell them everything, but at least a basic and direct response is due. Otherwise you run the risk of being interrogated, and the interrogation will most likely come loudly and in the presence of your grandmother, minister or boss. With your luck, probably all three at the same time.  All kids have an inboard BS-O-Meter, and when you start squirming, try to put them off or tell half-truths when they ask embarrassing questions, it starts pinging in the red zone. This will prompt more questions, each one more embarrassing than the last. Save yourself…just be honest the first time around.

You can fake out the BS-O-Meter sometimes, but the next person who has to answer that question you so successfully avoided will not appreciate it. One example of this is when my kids picked my mom to ask where babies come from. She promptly told them that babies are hatched under cabbage leaves in the garden. She successfully avoided an interrogation by looking them directly in the hairy eyeball and giving them her answer straight from the hip. Being as they were still so young (ages 4 & 6), they took it hook, line and sinker. Later that week when the boys notified me that babies are, in fact,  hatched under cabbage leaves which, of course, is the gospel “because Nana said so”, it was left to me to tell them where babies actually come from.  No explanation from me would break them from their misinformation. Luckily enough, at the time, there were a couple of different networks who constantly showed real birthing stories. So, I made it my business to keep the channel dialed to these kinds of shows and the boys then got an education about how babies are born.  I remember very clearly that Older Son was particularly disgusted with seeing the birthing process, and proclaimed loudly that was gross and he was NOT born like that.

Silly me. I should know that when kids have time to digest information other more insidious questions are then launched…very much like when you cut the head off of a Hydra, two more pop out to take its place. Next questions were, of course, “Why do babies come out of THERE instead of the belly button?” and “How did the baby get in there to begin with?!”

Oh well. Parenting is messy, and if we didn’t want to answer the hard questions we shouldn’t have signed up for the job. That’s what we get paid the big bucks for.

Uhm…yeah…big bucks. I guess I’ll have to quantify my rewards in something other than hard, cold cash! 😉

Waiting for paint to dry

It’s 10:52pm as I sit down to write this, and I am waiting for paint to dry. Yes, it is as boring as it sounds, and I’m grateful to have this blog to blather on while I’m waiting. I have two coats of primer on, and I am just waiting for one wall to dry so I can get a coat of the top coat on before we go to Mom and Dad’s for the night. The plumber is coming tomorrow to put the toilet and sink in, and that wall has to be done before that happens.

I’ll be so slap-happy to get this project done and get back into my house. Don’t get me wrong…I love my parents, but there is nothing like staying in your own house with your own bed, and your own house rules. I especially want to wake up and take a shower in my own new bathroom, with the brand new quiet fan. Cancel that…I want a nice long bath. I bought some new bath salts just for the occasion!  Here are some more pictures of the ongoing progress:

This week has gone by fast, and I am hoping that tomorrow is as successful as I hope it will be. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

My new floor is in!
The primer is on! You can just see Older Son peeking in at the right.

Bathroom demolition begins!

Well, I got the word that the bathroom renovation will start today as scheduled. I’m grateful and panicked all at the same time. How’s that for a strange mix of emotions?!

The idea that someone will come into my house and take chunks of it away is strange, and a little anxiety inducing, even though I don’t want or need those parts anymore. I’ll be getting new and improved parts, so this is a good thing. A new tub with a shower that’s higher up, and a spigot that works properly. A new pedestal sink, and a  new toilet that will work better than the last. New flooring will be put down that will be more currently dated than 1985, and I’ll get to put in new storage. And paint…I’ll get to have painted walls in a color of my choice instead of that nasty, cheap, faux tile wallboard. Oh yes…it will be fabulous when it  gets done.

In the mean time, why should I be panicked? The kids and I will move out of our house and will be living with my parents for the next week and a half. Change is happening, almost like it’s coming on like a freight train. I will miss my washer and dryer, and my bed. I have to take Younger Son to a post-operative appointment just when the guys are to arrive to begin demolition, so poor Older Son has to stay here to answer the door and man the fort to begin with. Whine, whine, whine…I could go on ad nauseum.

Anyway, zero hour approaches and I have to get Older Son out of bed and into the shower. I have several things to do yet. Hopefully I’ll have more later!

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