Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Better late than never, right? Haven't done a RemembeRED post for awhile, and haven't even posted much lately, but squeaked this one in under the wire.

It's funny, you spend the first 18 years of your life with one goal - to graduate. You'd think the ceremony would be seared into my memory from start to finish. Yet, I have no idea who gave our commencement speech. I can't remember what I wore. I know we were able to hold the ceremony outside at the stadium which was a relief since an indoor ceremony restricted the number of people you could invite to 4.

I remember decorating our cars, and I, the nerdiest of the bunch - accidentally left the "U" out of my painstakingly crafted painting on a friend's passenger window so it read, "1993 GRADATE." She was so pissed. She had to drive around with the window down all day to hide it.

I remember the three folding chairs draped in white with a single red rose delicately placed on each. Mini-memorials to the students who had passed away that year; one from leukemia, one from a bizarre bicycle accident in Germany (convinced me that helmets weren't such a lame idea), and one in a tragic car wreck during lunch hour.

I remember it was windy. My hat was strategically bobby-pinned to my head to keep it from blowing away while also allowing my monstrous bangs to show. I wanted to toss my mortar board in the air in the traditional, free-spirited, Mary-Tyler-Moore sort of way, but I was afraid I would lose it amongst the 500 others that were thrown. I half-heartedly flipped it up and kept my eyes glued to it as it descended so I could recover it quickly. So telling of my personality then; desire to be cavalier, but restrained in action.

I remember the after party: tearing up while watching the Senior Video, the magician taking my friend's watch as part of a trick, not winning a prize even though 450 were given out to 500 kids over the course of the night.

I remember waiting for my friend's dad to pick us up the next morning, the sunrise highlighting her blonde perm. She still looked gorgeous after being up all night.

I have memories of the pictures that we took that night, though I don't really remember the actions as they took place. False memories, like the stories you heard about yourself as a small child that were repeated so often you think you remember the events though you don't really.

Snapshots, moments of the day that I can recall, but not much overall when you think about it. Except for one thing. The strange mix of emotions that I felt. I was excited to be done with school as I was after each final day, but also nervous and apprehensive about starting a new chapter of my life. I was supposed to be an adult now, but I felt like an awkward preteen. I still feel that way 20 years later! I was sad to say goodbye to the familiarity of being in the same school district for my entire educational career thus far, but relished the freedom of a future of flexible scheduling and fewer rules. I was proud of my accomplishment, and thankful for the opportunity. Most of all, I was relieved to be released of the (mostly self-imposed I later realized) persona I had maintained for so long. Free to "find myself," meet new people and start over.

Graduation: resolution of childhood, commencement of life.

This week we asked you to think about graduation. It didn't have to be yours and it didn't have to be high school. It does have to be non-fiction - it's memoir.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The One Where Our 3YO Threw Up the Devil Horns.... At Church

Baby R has been growing by leaps and bounds lately. She started climbing up on the sofa the week before Easter, I just forgot to mention it in my last post. She also started saying, "K." So conversations with her now go like this:

"Baby R, are you hungry? Do you want to eat?"


"Please don't put your fingers in your milk."


She makes the sign for "sleep" and says, "Seeeeep."

"Baby R, are you ready for your nap?'


Then she said her first three-word sentence: "I want cake." That's my girl. She said it at DH's bday celebration which was the Saturday after I got sick. I had started to feel better by my last post, but by that Friday night, I could tell I was getting an ear infection. I asked him if we could reschedule. He suggested asking his mom if we could have it at her house. That was a huge relief. At 3am, the pain in  my ear was so excruciating, it woke me up. About 15 minutes later, S woke up and had a big tantrum. It was awesome.

Saturday, we picked up a store-bought cake and went to DH's mom's. I ended up going to urgent care after and getting a Z-pac. Hallelujah! Poor hubs - a lame bday, that's for sure.

Sunday, Baby R started pulling on her ear. Sigh. Luckily she made it through the night ok, and I took her to the ped Monday morning. Ear infection for her, too. :(

The next weekend was Mother's Day. I left DH's family's get together up to him and his sister. Which resulted in it being at our house on Saturday afternoon. Which was fantastic since we've been sick for the last month so I hadn't cleaned. And I didn't find out until Thursday night. And I had tickets to the ballet Friday night. Which meant I only had Saturday to clean like a mad woman.

Sunday we picked up my parents and met my sister and BIL for brunch in a suburb about halfway between our house and my BIL's family. It was nice, but the girls were antsy after the 45 minute car ride, so I spent most of the morning chasing them around. So Mother's Day weekend was pretty much just exhausting.

One day last week it was raining when we got in the van. I turned the rear wiper on, and S noticed it for the first time. "Mom, you have TWO wipers? That's genius!"

Last Thursday I got home from work and Baby R had a black eye. DH said there was some discrepancy as to how she had gotten it - whether she had fallen on her own or had a little help from big sister - but she'd fallen into the corner of one of the desk drawers in the kitchen. Poor baby!

Friday night was S's preschool Spring Show. The teacher said they didn't have to dress up, but I thought S might want to. When she got home that day, I asked her if she wanted to change out of her shorts jumper into one of her dresses. She didn't. It had gotten cold, so I suggested at least changing into some long pants. Nope. She just wanted to wear her winter coat (not her spring one that would have been sufficient). She was wearing one pink sock and one white sock, and shoes on the wrong feet. I asked if she might be more comfortable if she put her shoes on correctly. She liked them that way. So freaking cute.

So we went to the show. All the grandparents came as well as my older sister. The kids counted, did an alphabet song, a colors song and then played a song on the bells. Then they did a little play and we watched a slide show of photos from the year (tears!). It finished with getting little caps and diplomas and having a cookie cake. So fun!

My BFF since 4th grade is her teacher and she is a-ma-zing. Here are a couple of pictures of projects they did this year:

Dragon for Chinese New Year

Piggy Bank from Mini Water Bottle

Mother's Day Gift: "Flower" Handprints on Bendy Straws

Yesterday, S and I went to our church for the first time in about six weeks since we've been sick and spent Easter at my sister's. We were singing during worship time and, as usual, she was dancing around. Then all of a sudden, I realized she was holding up her little fists with her pointer and pinky fingers out like Daddy had shown her to rock out. We've never referred to to it as "throwing up the devil horns" to her, but all I could think was, "Please don't let anyone else think that's what it means!"

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Friendship in a Bottle

When I was a kid, we didn't go on vacations. Don't get me wrong - we took trips every year. My grandma lived in Manitoba, so we went to visit her once or twice a year. And when I got older, we went out of town to dance competitions for me, band competitions for my sister and occasionally accompanied my mom on work trips. There's only one time I can think of that we went on a trip that had no purpose other than just to relax. I was about five. We went to Arkansas, and the hotel we checked into had bed bugs and our car broke down on a Sunday (back when NOTHING was open on Sundays). So when one of my best friends asked me if I wanted to go skiing with her family over spring break my junior year of high school, I was freaking ecstatic to go on a REAL vacation!

Another of our best friends, E, was headed to California for spring break. She was originally from there and was headed back to visit family and friends. She and I made a deal that I would bring back some snow for her, and she would bring back some sand for me. A silly idea, but one we both followed through on. I carefully kept my cup of snow from spilling on the ten-hour drive from Keystone to Kansas City, though it had melted long before we had passed the "Leaving Colorful Colorado" sign.

Back home, E and I got together to talk about about our trips and trade souvenirs. I clearly got the better end of the deal since the sand didn't melt. For awhile, I just kept the beige crystals in the Ziploc bag she'd used to transport it home on the plane. Then I found an old, empty liquor bottle my parents, who rarely drink, had kept because the glass was cut in a beautiful pattern. I filled it up with the sand and put it on my vanity in my bedroom.

It stayed there, or on my chest of drawers, for the next 3.5 years until I moved away to college. (That spring break trip to go skiing? Made me fall in love with the Rocky Mountains. I ended up going to Colorado State. And not skiing once while I was there since I was a poor college kid. But I digress...)

On moving day, I had to cram everything I needed for 9 months into my blue '88 Oldsmobile Cutlass and leave room for Dad and me in the front. Only the necessities could come with me. I hemmed and hawed, changing my mind about what could stay and what could go many times. I expected some homesickness so I wanted to take photos and memorabilia, as well as stationery to write letters (I didn't know what email was quite yet). The bottle of sand made the cut. I used it as a door-stopper in the dorms, and later, hung leis and beads on it in the sorority house.

By now, E had decided to move back to California. We still talked on the phone whenever we had extra minutes on our phone cards, and wrote letters and emails to each other, though the frequency lessened with time.

When I left Ft. Collins and came back to Kansas City for a job, the sand bottle traveled back with me. It returned to it's original home on the vanity in my old bedroom while I stayed with my parents for a few months until I could afford to move into an apartment. There, it was useful again as a doorstop. The next year, I moved into a duplex, and it managed to survive my single life in a house with two boys and lots of parties.

A month or two before DH and I got married, we moved my stuff into his house. By then the bottle of sand was a part of me. I didn't even think about it anymore; it was just always there. We had a tiny house; the space on shelves and dressers was limited, so I defaulted to using the bottle as a doorstop again. DH tripped on it repeatedly, and finally asked me to move it. I put it in the basement with the majority of our belongings for decorating the bigger house we would move into "someday."

Someday came almost two years ago. We unpacked, and I saw that bottle of sand. Like E, though I hadn't seen it in a long time, I hadn't forgotten about it. It returned to my life as any old friend does, as though it had never left.

Monday, May 9, 2011

PSA: How To Enable People to Follow Your Blog

 When I started blogging, or rather, reading other people's blogs, I saw those cute little icons for email and Facebook (I didn't know what RSS or Twitter really did yet). I thought, "Those are nice! I'll have to figure out how to add those someday." The more I delved into the blogosphere, I found that I NEEDED those icons. I had my site evaluated by the amazing minds at Eli Rose and that was one of their top suggestions. Pressure was mounting; it's not just me who wants them, it's my fans! Must add!!!

I searched high and low for the HTML that was needed. Lots of people had adorable icons to share, but no one could tell me how to make them work? I finally got an RSS icon hooked up, but that was it. And then... then the sweet Kate at Mommy Monologues not only created adorable icons - that she's sharing for FREE if you click here - but she also gave away the secrets to making them work in the comments section! I decided to create a post about it in case anyone else is having the same issues.

(Please note: I know NOTHING about HTML. I realize that at some point I really should take a class on it, but I'm living in denial about it. That said, I can only tell you how to follow these directions to make it work with Blogger. If you are on WordPress or something else fancy, I'm of no help whatsoever.)

Ten Steps to A Cooler Blog
1. If you do not already have a Photobucket account, get one because they are all kinds of awesome at making this job easier.

2. Create an album and upload your icons into it. You can either use ones you already have or some of Kate's adorable creations from the link above. After the upload is complete, click "Save and continue to my album."

3. When you roll your mouse over one of the icons, it brings up a menu. Click the box to select that icon (see below). Do that for all of the items you want to include. Selected items will have a blue box around them.

4. At the bottom of that screen is a drop-down menu that says "Choose action." The last item on the list is "Generate link codes for selected." Choose that.

It will bring up something that looks like this:

5. Click in the top box, "Clickable Thumbnails." Just clicking in it copies.

6. Open a separate browser window. Login to your Blogger account. Click on "Design, " then "Add a Gadget" and select "HTML/Javascript" which brings up this window.

7. Paste the code from Photobucket here.

8. Click on "Rich Text" and instead of code, you'll be able to see your images.

9. Click on the first one so it has the handled border. Then click on the link icon and add the corresponding link information.

For the email icon link information, type in:

mailto: youremailaddress

10. Click "Save." Once it finishes updating, view your blog. The functioning icons should be there!

Check out my new pretty ones on the right side of this page.  I need to finish updating all the format so it all goes together - the pink looks too dark on these icons compared with what I used in the header - but I lost the header artwork when our server crashed. SO SAD! Thanks for your patience while I wade through all this technical stuff to get my designs uploaded. Best of luck to you!

Friday, May 6, 2011

What Do You Pledge?

BWS tips button

I have beliefs, religious and personal. In my mind, my perspective on these subjects is the right one. (Logically, I wouldn't believe in something I thought was wrong.) My convictions are not the same as all the other people on the planet. There are many, many religions. There are countless other causes people support. Just like me, each person believes that their own personal values are the right ones.

My religion is Christianity. A part of that religion is the idea that God created human beings with free will. No one, not even God, can make us do anything. So why do people, oftentimes Christians, try so hard to force others to bend to their way of thinking?

We threaten, instead of explain.

We bully, instead of embrace.

Where there could be open dialogue, there is close-minded judgement.

Where there is the possibility for a myriad of personalities to interact in harmony, there is prejudice that says if you believe in something different than I do, you fall into a category, and I can't relate to you.

It's an all-or-nothing attitude. When an impasse is reached, we don't say, "Let's just agree to disagree," we continue to fight, wasting energy and resources to force compliance.

I remember being in Geography class in high school and a speaker addressing us about the Middle Eastern countries warring over the Gaza strip, different groups fighting for land because it holds religious significance to them. I raised my hand and asked, "Why can't they just share it? It's land - it's not a toy or a single thing that would have to be traded back and forth. Lots of people can live on it, or use it. Or they could just designate it as holy land for no one to use."

The speaker and the teacher traded an amused look. "If only it were that simple."

But does it really have to be that complicated? Why don't the rules that govern toddlers rule the world? Share. If you can't share, no one gets to play with it.

The reality is, they can't share. Because that would be admitting that it's possible that they aren't right. And they will never give up that fight. They will make the world see that their way is the right way.

This is me saying, I think my way is the right way, 
but I know I can't make you agree with me. 
And I don't want to try to force you to. 

I want you to chat with me. I want you to tell me what you believe and why. I want to get to know you - not make assumptions about who I think you are because you say you are a Democrat or a Republican. And if you disagree with me, great! The world would be a boring place if we all had the same opinions. Share your thoughts, and let's see what happens.

The Internet and social media are making the world a smaller and smaller place. Is it really that far-fetched to think that starting to treat others respectfully in these realms could carry over into real life? Imagine what that would look like. I can't wait to find out...


I'm being featured on efloraross.com today as a member of The Mom Pledge Community. Over 260 mommy bloggers have taken the pledge to fight online bullying. Please consider joining!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

End of an Era

Sunday, May 1, 2011, was a historical day in American history. I don't usually watch the news; it's predominantly depressing, and I have enough things to worry about in my life. But when I saw on Twitter that President Obama was going to make an annoucement declaring that the United States had killed Osama bin Laden, I flipped on the TV. Even though I was getting ready to go to sleep. Even though I was sick and needed my rest. This was huge. I ran downstairs to tell DH. Then I changed the channel for him to a news network, and he said, "Hey! I want to watch the rest of that movie." Clearly people's perceptions of "historical" are varied.

My initial reaction was one of skepticism. We've been searching for him for ten years. (Well, longer than that, but REALLY looking for the last decade.) Once it seemed legit, I was excited - I was doing a fist-pumping "YES!" in my mind. Then proud when I saw the crowd outside the White House singing the national anthem. Thankful, for the soldiers who protect us. Relieved - the subconscious fears instilled with 9/11 slipped away. I went to sleep that night with a lightness I hadn't felt in some time, unaware that it had been weighing upon me.

Monday, I was surprised that no one was really talking about it at work. There was quite a bit of chatter on Facebook and Twitter, though. And many people began to post quotes, some from Martin Luther King, Jr, others from friends, that became entwined. Here's the one I liked most:

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

I wish I had those thoughts as my gut reactions. Heck, even as secondary reactions. And I got to thinking about what comes next. Killing Osama bin Laden does not eradicate the al-Qaeda. In fact, it makes him a martyr for them. It empowers and emboldens them. Killing him is like cutting the head off the Hydra. Homeland Security has already elevated the alert status for traveling Americans. I wonder if capturing bin Laden and imprisoning him like we did Saddam Hussein would have been more effective? I wonder if we had shown him mercy, if it would have effectively shown the love that Dr. King was speaking about?

While the end of the bin Laden era is upon us, sadly, it's not the end of terrorism or our way of life in being concerned about our safety. That weight that was lifted Sunday night? Is back. And it won't be gone until light drives out the darkness.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Money, Money, Money, Money...Money!

The first part of the year is always tight for us financially. We have certain bills that come due only around this time or semi-annually - health insurance for the girls, life insurance for us, car tags/property tax, car insurance, etc. It's usually just a month or two, but it seems like every paycheck this year, DH has said we can't spend money on any extras, only the essentials.

This has been frustrating, so the other day I thought about it and had a forehead-smacking, shoulda-had-a-V8 moment. After I wrecked the car and we bought a van, we knew the amount we spent on gas would go up a bit. Not to mention the car payment. But, add to that the fact that the price per gallon has gone up - significantly - and both DH and I are spending $200 more each month on that. Plus we started putting Baby R in part-time daycare in November. That's another $500/month. Yikes, people! That's $700/month we're spending on essentials.

I'm a low-maintenance gal. I haven't bought new clothes since...since...well, at least since we moved to our new house a year and a half ago. I get my haircut at Great Clips when we have a coupon. I get a massage/mani/pedi/some extravagant beautifying done once a year or less (total, not each). And though I tend to go overboard with gifts for holidays, when it comes to everyday items, I haven't bought much. Baby R has hand-me-downs from her big sis. And I haven't bought big sis, S, much since, thankfully, we have hand-me-downs from another friend. Though we are going to have to buy her a summer wardrobe because S is now in the same size as our friend's daughter.

So I may not be able to play sports this summer or scrapbook or do some other things, but at least we have our needs met. I feel very blessed that we were able to tighten our belts and make it work. I feel terrible for many others who were already struggling and are now dealing with these kinds of issues.
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