#8: I wish I’ve never worked too hard

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Today’s Search Term of the Sad and Desperate is “I wish I’ve never worked too hard,” and its companion term, “I wish I’ve paid more attention to those grammar lessons on past tense.”

OK, I made up that second one. I crack myself up.

Dear person who has worked too hard,

Buck up! This is America! We are all about working too hard. If you’re not working too hard you are probably dead.

(An aside: I realize this could be someone from a country other than the U.S., but I’ve chosen to believe this is a person who is instead contributing to the gradual erosion of the English language. Besides, most of my international visitors these days are looking for porn videos.)

Where was I? Oh, yes…Dear person, this is the home of the free and the land of the over-scheduled. Maintaining a ridiculous level of activity is how we validate our existence. Haven’t you ever heard of productivity? Let me run it down for you. When you perform work you are an input. What you produce is output. The goal is for output to exceed input at a steadily increasing rate throughout all time. Otherwise, productivity goes down and we all suffer the consequences of a dismal economy.

I am a firm believer in productivity. That is why my to-do list always gets longer, not shorter. Oh, wait a minute…technically it should get shorter as my productivity goes up. Or the list should get longer first and then shorter. Or…

OK, let me try this another way. If you don’t have enough to do, it will eventually impact your self-esteem. You will see others rushing by you, too busy to pause and it will dawn on you that you are unnecessary to…to…

Huh. Thing is, I don’t want to rush around. Maybe ever-increasing productivity is not my goal! I want time to contemplate nature, think great thoughts and take a shower.

I think I’ve talked myself out of this. Go ahead and take the day off.

Read the series:

Anxiety dreams involving my kids 

How do I talk to my surly teen? 

I have only one child but laundry and housework never end

Life is not a competition

How to relax and enjoy your children

Gym class was never like this

Your husband’s fashion sense

 

A disclaimer: While it perhaps shouldn’t need saying, let me remind you that I have no credentials, training or certifications of any kind that would qualify me to mete out advice to anyone. This is a humor blog. If you don’t find it funny, well, that’s another issue.

Actions speak louder

IMG_0301I say “I love you,” to my kids so often I’m sure they don’t hear it anymore. Well, to be honest, they don’t hear much of what I say these days. I can give a direction five times before anyone even acknowledges it.

But I persevere. I’m a doer, so I’m convinced that the little things I do will cut through the fog and instill themselves as some kind of ghost memory of my love in the minds of my kids.

Am I dreaming? Maybe. But if you think about all the annoying things you do just because you love your kids it gets to be a pretty long list.

No one who didn’t love you would do this:

  • Cut up a mango. It’s a giant pain.
  • Go to Chuck E. Cheese or one of its for-the-younger-set counterparts.
  • Change a diaper. Any diaper.
  • Use $10 in gas so you can go to a job that will pay you $40.
  • Invite a friend to be the 6th at dinner when I only made enough food for five.
  • Host a sleepover with more than two children at it.
  • Let you eat in the car.
  • And while we’re at it, prepare a homemade meal whose primary asset is that it was designed to be eaten in the car…
  • …but skip dinner myself to drive you to your activity.
  • Watch The Teletubbies while sober.
  • Drive you to school in my pajamas.
  • Pay your phone bill.
  • Volunteer at a school event that requires me to produce an attractive and educational display…
  • …or carve a map of Africa out of a pan of brownies.
  • Spend the afternoon in a wet bathing suit.
  • Play the same children’s CD in the car, every day, for a year.
  • Make a 5-hour round-trip for the sole purpose of adopting a stray cat.

I could probably stay at this list all day. But I need to go drive some people around.

What’s the most annoying thing you do for your kids?

Read some other perspectives on love or link up at The Wounded Dove.

 

The scorching road trips of my youth

ImageToday, the WordPress Daily Post posed a writing prompt that I could not resist: If time and money were no object, what car adventure would you go on?

We’ve taken a few car adventures, and I’ve loved them all. Even three sweaty, bickering kids packed in the back of the van with 40 DVDs and a bushel of fattening snacks can’t quell my joy. I adore the open road. Stopping for scenic roadside views. Poking through tiny museums where the docent is so bored they’ll give you the personalized, two-hour tour.

We’ve hiked the Badlands, and trails in Glacier National Park. Taken the Montana Dinosaur Trail. Trooped across the Little Bighorn Battlefield.

But if I were to take the ultimate car adventure, there is no doubt what it would be. I would recreate one of the scorching trips of my youth.

My father grew up in Arizona, so our final destination was always in the middle of the desert, and because he was a university professor, we had to travel in August between summer school and the start of the fall semester. It was hot. Really, really hot. And we had no air conditioning in our station wagon. That did not stop us.

We’d depart early in the morning and bomb across the boring, flat states like Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas (sorry neighbors), then we’d slow down a little. We’d hike through the Utah canyons, including my favorite, Mesa Verde, where we got to walk through the ruins and climb ladders to go down into the kivas. We’d visit Four Corners, where Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all come together, and each stand in a different state for a family picture. Perch at the edge of the Grand Canyon, my mother far back from the railing convinced one of us was about to pitch to our death.

Then, because we lacked air conditioning, we’d make the last leg of the trip through the desert at night. I can still remember the warm breeze, and the hum of the pavement as we sailed along in the dark.

Once we reached our destination, we’d explore early in the mornings before it go too hot. Climb sand dunes and tour territorial prisons. Take a day trip into Mexico and barter for the interesting little trinkets that my grandmother called “cochinada,” which she roughly translated as little, (expletive deleted) things.

I know there were long, boring stretches of highway. Beautiful canyons that my sister and I could not be bothered to view because we were too busy playing cards in the back of the station wagon. Bouts of car sickness. Remote areas where all we could tune in on the AM radio was “Song Sung Blue”. We listened to it for hundreds of miles.

But I think travel is worth a few unpleasantries.

I have not been able to convince my family to make this trip. My own children are Minnesota-born and bred and they melt when the temperature exceeds 85. Spoiled by all that air-conditioning, no doubt! And to be honest, they are a little sick of my 3000-mile extravaganzas. This year we are opting for the quiet, “up north” vacation typical for our region. It will be a nice break, but I intend to use it to plan next year’s vacation.

Which will be another epic drive. Where shall we go?

#7: Your husband’s fashion sense

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My husband’s fashion sense? Now, why would the initiator of this sad and desperate search term want to know about that?

If you are one of my readers, you may already be convinced that my husband has no fashion sense based on the clothing he buys me. But he actually dresses himself quite well when the occasion calls for it.

He wears nice suits and shirts. He’s often the only one in a meeting with a tie on. And he has a collection of antique cuff links that’s really quite impressive.

But like many of his species, he’s inconsistent. He went through a short-sleeved Oxford shirt phase that was truly unfortunate (I accidentally donated these shirts at one point.) He often has to consult me to see if something matches (he bats about 500 on this count.)

And, of course, the garb he wears at home is composed primarily of early-90’s novelty t-shirts, rugby logo-wear, and baggy sweatpants. But my yoga pants-wearing self can’t argue much with that.

So while I’ll give him “has a tailor with a good eye” I don’t think I’d credit him with the fashion sense necessary to address this individual’s needs.

Fortunately, he doesn’t read my blog so there’s little chance his feelings will be hurt.

By the way, I conducted minimal (that is to say no) due diligence to make sure the aforementioned search term was not the title of a porn video. But I think I can pretty safely say that no porn videos were harmed in the writing of this post.

Read the series:

Anxiety dreams involving my kids 

How do I talk to my surly teen? 

I have only one child but laundry and housework never end

Life is not a competition

How to relax and enjoy your children

Gym class was never like this

 

A disclaimer: While it perhaps shouldn’t need saying, let me remind you that I have no credentials, training or certifications of any kind that would qualify me to mete out advice to anyone. This is a humor blog. If you don’t find it funny, well, that’s another issue.

Tips for the desperate gardener

IMG_0711What an embarrassment. My perennial garden, a source of pride in past years, is a weedy mess.

While we were running around during a busy spring, and huddling inside during uncooperative, rainy weather, the weeds moved in and took over.

Then, feeling neglected, many of my perennials decided to migrate to different locations, infringe on their neighbors, or waste away to nothing. It’s as if Mother Nature’s testing my resolve.

Well, I don’t have much, but even I’ve reached my limits. The weekend found me up to my waist in tick-infested, overgrown foliage, yanking out handfuls of invaders.

Before I had my kids, the garden was a refuge. I’d head home after a long day at the office, don my grubbies, and dig around in the dirt in the long mid-summer evenings. Pulling weeds felt like an accomplishment. Dividing perennials like a fresh start. I enjoyed the physicality of it.

Fast forward a few years, and the garden took a hit. I no longer had the energy or the time to tend it. Ever try to weed with a fussy baby next to you in a playpen, or turn soil with a toddler eating deer poop off the lawn? I have.

Here are some tips when the state of your garden calls for triage:

Pay the neighbor kids to help. My kids are old enough to assist now, but they aren’t willing helpers. I have to bribe, pay, threaten or conscript them. However, my neighbor and I have discovered that our kids, who sometimes balk at doing even work they’re being paid for at home will often jump at a chance to do the exact, same work at someone else’s house. So we trade kids.

Pull the tallest weeds first. A method my oldest son caught on to right away because it fills up the bags faster. But it also makes the most immediate visual impact. You’ll actually feel like you got something done.

 Pull all the similar weeds first. This is a good method to use if you have new weeders who might accidentally remove the expensive day lily you drove miles and miles to obtain. Pull a sample weed. Hand it to them. Say, “Pull out everything that looks exactly like this.” Repeat at necessary intervals.

Utilize those garden tools. There is a reason they were developed. If your garden is really awful, like mine, turning over dirt might actually be faster than pulling each, individual weed. Plus, (if you’ll pardon the generalization) those boy children would rather use the tools anyway.

Assign tasks based on individual strengths. My oldest son is all about filling up the bags, but my youngest wants to find a tiny plot of soil and make it perfectly smooth and weed free. Assign the perfectionist to the paths and borders where neatness really counts. Otherwise, you’ll just be frustrated that in the time you’ve been clearing the back 40, this child has cleared only one, perfect square foot.

And my #1 tip…

Embrace native plants, a method I borrowed from another neighbor. I’ve ceded one whole section of a perennial bed to a large stand of milkweed. The butterflies like it, and it’s pretty enough, especially when it’s in bloom. And I’ve let some other wildflowers take root.

“What’s the difference between a weed and a wildflower?” my youngest asked.

“A weed is just a wildflower growing where you don’t want it,” I answered.

I almost believe that.

The Slightly Hungry Games

IMG_0714The other morning I woke from a dream where I was engaged in a Hunger Games-esque contest – only the contest was filtered through the mundanities that are my life.

There was a lot of packing involved. We each had to amass a large amount of gear in a duffel bag. Then the contest got delayed. We waited and waited, until it was rescheduled and then we all had to pack again. The kicker – some people got to decline to participate. As I woke, I was asking myself, “Why does she get to get out of this?”

Yeah, sounds like the kind of adrenaline-producing, life-or-death struggle I’d be part of.

It got me thinking how other movies would be watered-down if they were filtered through my life. Here’s how I think they would play out:

Born on the 2nd of July. We can only scrape up two kids who are not at camp or on vacation to attend the birthday party for the kid with the summer birthday.

Dances with Coyotes. A coyote crosses my son’s path as he retrieves the newspaper at the end of the driveway, passing so close my son can hear its nails clicking on the pavement.

Dead Tired Mom Walking. After a day shuttling kids to the orthodontist, the mall for back-to-school shopping, and driver’s ed, I sit through three hours of evening lacrosse practice.

The Deer Chaser. After hearing crunching through the front screen door, I confront a doe who is on the front stoop eating the buds off the perennials. She calmly walks away, annoyed with me.

Life of Pie. I make a pie in order to use up some peaches that are getting soft, then spend the hour it’s cooling trying to keep the cat-who-will-eat-anything out of it.

Not-so-national Lampoon’s Vacation. Five people vie for wi-fi access in the car, and eat two weeks worth of snacks in the first six hours of the trip.

Of Mice and My Husband. My spouse declines to remove the gas fireplace insert in order to remove the dead mouse that is obviously enshrined there.

The Titanic Problem. I find a puddle of water at the base of the water heater.

I tell you, it is five-star action around here. Non-stop.

 

Silly me, I don’t know from desperate

emoticonWhen I wrote my latest installment of Search Terms of the Sad and Desperate, I was unaware that the phrase “gym class was never like this” referred to the title of a porn video. Silly me. I didn’t know just how much desperation there was out there.

I noticed this after a suspicious bump in traffic, much of it generated BY THAT EXACT SAME SEARCH PHRASE. Despite my naivety, even I have the powers of deductive reasoning to figure that one out.

(OK, I know about half of you reading are now in the process of searching “gym class was never like this.” I hope you’ll come back to finish the post when you’re done, and are not lost to me forever.)

I was slightly panicked, until I sought the counsel of my husband, who suggested that from now on the titles of all my posts ought to be the titles of porn videos, and the sage advice of my blogging tribe who suggested I relax and enjoy the extra traffic (even though….ewwww!)

But I still felt an explanation was due. Whew, got that off my chest.

I briefly considered searching the titles of all my posts from now on to make sure this doesn’t happen again, but I think that could seriously constrain my creative process. (Ha, ha, my creative process, snort!) Or at least send me into a paralysis from which it will be hard to recover.

Ignorance is bliss, folks.

Read the series:

Anxiety dreams involving my kids

How do I talk to my surly teen?

I have only one child but laundry and housework never end

Life is not a competition

How to relax and enjoy your children

And of course, the infamous Gym class was never like this

Summer touring, blog-style

untitledA big virtual hug and many thanks to the fabulous Susan at Pecked to Death by Chickens for inviting me to join this blog tour.

The tour requires me to respond to the following questions. My answers are, of course, utterly fascinating.

1. What am I working on? In addition to blogging I have started two books. One is a small business management handbook; the other is a novel. Neither is close to finished. I’m also working on raising three wonderful children. None of them are finished either. Nor are any of the numerous projects around my house. Do we see a pattern here?

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? I try to bring a wry humor to everything I write, even if it is instructional. And I try to write the way people talk. Or at least the way I talk when I am chatting to myself.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?I live by the principle that when you meet adversity, you can either laugh or cry. I choose to laugh. I hope others will, too.

4. How does your writing/creating process work? I throw everything up in the air and see what comes down. I take notes constantly – on paper, on my phone, on my iPad – and then pull out the bits and pieces when I have time to construct something. It’s amazing how much content you can pull together from that. My most creative ideas seem to come at inopportune moments (in the middle of the night, in the car, in the shower, during meditation) so I try very hard to record things as they come to me.

As part of this blog tour, I get to introduce you to three of the fabulous members of my blogging tribe.

Mary is a stay-at-home, work-at-home mom to two beautiful girls, ages 4 and 6. Her husband works full-time for the military. She runs her own direct sales business as well as two blogs, Living a Sunshine Life and Homeschool Antics. In addition to writing, Mary enjoys casual photography, painting, needlework, reading and spending time with her family.

Charity has four young children who inspire her to be a #GoodEnoughMom. It wasn’t until she discovered her husband’s affair and her life fell apart, that a lifetime of fear, depression, and anxiety was revealed to her. Her marriage was restored, but she spent an entire year walking through hell, and it wasn’t until she got to the other side that she realized she was actually walking the road to freedom. She shares her story on The Wounded Dove.

Sharon who writes at MommyVerbs, is a working Momma, 41 years old and newly tattooed for the first time, who enjoys writing about life with X and Y while playing fast and loose with punctuation. She spends many, many hours sitting on bleachers by ball fields and she’s on a mission. To be intentional. To pay attention to the action of her world. To engage and encourage others to do the same…especially when it comes to health and wellness.

These lovely ladies will post on July 20th, but feel free to stop by to visit them before that.

And thanks again, Susan!

#6: Gym class was never like this

desertUsually, in my installments of Search Terms of the Sad and Desperate I offer advice to visitors whose search terms hit my blog. But I’m not sure the originator of today’s topic, “Gym class was never like this” is seeking advice. I think he or she is just making a statement to the world.

But I’m intrigued. Is this someone who loved gym class and wishes that all life was like gym class? Or is this someone who huddled in a corner of the gym hoping no one would notice? In my experience, there is no in-between.

I’m picturing someone in a cube at the office, feeling either hateful or joyful, making a comparison to a past in the gym.

Here’s what I think might have been going through this person’s head if they hated gym class and love their job:

Gym class was never like this because…

  • …we didn’t get to eat during it.
  • …it made us sweat while right now I am basking in a frigid blast from the AC.
  • …I never get picked last here.
  • …at work we don’t have to swim and then go directly to a meeting.
  • …I can sit in the same chair all day if I want to.
  • …my boss is not a sadist.

But if this person loved gym class and hates their job, they might be thinking:

Gym class was never like this because…

  • …we don’t get to “accidentally” hit each other with field hockey sticks here.
  • …humiliation of others was tolerated, and sometimes openly encouraged.
  • …I was always picked first.
  • …those who violated the rules got a foul or better yet, got kicked out of class.
  • …now, I have to sit in the same chair all day.
  • …the gym teacher was not a sadist.

How about you? Did you hate gym class? Love it? How would you finish this sentence? I am dying to know.

Read the series:

Anxiety dreams involving my kids 

How do I talk to my surly teen? 

I have only one child but laundry and housework never end

Life is not a competition

How to relax and enjoy your children

 

A disclaimer: While it perhaps shouldn’t need saying, let me remind you that I have no credentials, training or certifications of any kind that would qualify me to mete out advice to anyone. This is a humor blog. If you don’t find it funny, well, that’s another issue.

I love a parade

IMG_0696It is my privilege to attend an annual 4th of July parade that defines what small town celebrations are all about. Each year, we anticipate representatives from all modes of transportation – tractor, truck, car, horse. We cheer loudly for the bands and the veterans. We vie for the free water and hotdogs, and the kids risk life and limb to retrieve candy from the street.

I love this parade. Its main asset is that it changes little from year to year, and let me tell you, there is much comfort in predictability.

Here are some of this year’s highlights:

The mammoth is looking a little warm. He probably wasn’t meant for this weather.

IMG_0673 There is a lot of liberty going on here.

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All the emergency vehicles are in the parade, so don’t light the barbecue until it’s over.

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Not sure which I like best – the mariachi band or the polka band (I have an inherited love of mariachi music, but this is a Grammy-winning polka band, I kid you not!)

bands The guys in the little cars hope the parade never ends.

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At times, the pacing could have used a little attention.

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Nothing to say here.

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I think I was this car in another life.

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The water ski team is taking no chances this year.

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Belated best wishes to those of you for whom the 4th is the holiday of the summer. Hope you celebrated in style!