Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Services I am NOT Going to Buy on Groupon

I rather enjoy scrolling through my daily Groupon offers, but they often give me pause.  There are some pretty nutty products and services out there.  I'll admit to having had my eyelashes extended, my nails done and availing myself of some tooth whitening products on top of some two-for-one pizza deals, but there is a limit to what I will purchase.  That being said, the folks at Groupon are really great about refunding your money if you change your mind (before you use the voucher, of course).  Here are a few of the wackier ones I've come across lately.

Human Hair Half-Weave
It makes me think of comb-overs.  "Yes, sir: we'll do half your head, but not the other.  You can just comb it over."  I mean, if you're going to go for it, at least opt for the FULL weave!  But the whole idea of having a woven piece of human hair attached to one's head is a little unnerving.  I'm all for wigs and bandannas and hair attachments a la Jessica Simpson and her hairdresser/BFF, but getting something sewn to your head or half your head?  No thanks.  I know Elton John was cutting edge with those hair plugs of his, but you know how that turned out.  (And he's a very rich celebrity who has bucket loads to spend on the very best of the best hair retrieval systems.)  A human hair half-weave from Groupon?  It just doesn't sit right; forgive the pun.

Healthy Pig Lung and Almond Soup
Enough said, right?  I don't think I'd be slurping that down, even if it was free and even though the lung is  healthy.  Maybe it's cultural.

Leg Extension
This one was forwarded to me from a friend in China.  Would I like longer legs, a la Gisele Bundchen?  Sure I would.  Would I pay someone who has signed up with Groupon or ANYONE, for that matter, to make my legs longer?  I don't think so.  It summons images of torture chambers from medieval times, doesn't it?  Thanks, but no thanks.  I'll settle for the short, stumpy legs the good Lord has blessed me with.

45 Item Pre-Marital Check Up
Well, for one thing, I'm already married, but really?  And 45 items?  What are they going to be doing?  Is it in a doctor's office or a lawyer's?  Will I be getting counseling and a pre-nup with that, too?  It just sounds suspect to me.

1 Hour Balloon Animal Making Class
It could be quite fun if you're into that sort of thing.  I suppose if I were thinking of becoming a clown or busking on the busy Hong Kong streets, this could be a good deal.  That being said, I think I'd rather surf the net and eat junk food than make balloon animals in my spare time.

Botox Treatment for 488 HKD
Maybe it's just me, but I want to pay more than the equivalent of 60 US dollars for botox injections. It just kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it?  Who exactly is giving these injections and what exactly are they injecting?  Frankly, I'm okay with a little botulism under my skin, but pig fat or Sprite or melamine just won't do. Call me crazy, but I just don't trust it.

Turbo Trimmer Belt with 10 Intensity Levels
Didn't those things go out in the 1960s?  Do people still think they can jiggle their belly fat loose with a vibrating machine?  It might be a bit o' fun, but it certainly isn't going to replace the treadmill.  I can only imagine what that 10th level of intensity must entail.  A trip to the emergency room for belly burns?

You can't make this stuff up, folks.  Okay, maybe I can, but I didn't.

So what's my new start for the day?

Let's call it an ongoing resolution instead of a new start this time: to continue being a discerning customer and not fall prey to the money-saving, irresistible deals of Groupon.  If you don't need it, don't buy it.  And if it seems too cheap or too weird, don't bother.  Hit the delete button after you've had your chuckle for the day and save yourself some money.

My glamorous eyelashes, compliments of Groupon

Friday, March 23, 2012

Sick Kid

What do you do when you've got a sick kid and you're a working parent?  There's not much you can do, but call in your relief army and hope for the best.  It broke my heart this morning to have Charlotte sobbing in the nurse's room of our school with a high temperature and saying, "Come home with me, Mama.  Why do you have to stay here with your students?  You're MY mommy!"

I just want to feel better, please!

To put the cherry on the sundae, Charlotte had a speaking part in tonight's whole school production: playing the part of her teacher, Ms. Sheppard.  She's been practicing for weeks, has a brilliant, spot-on costume and has been so excited to have her Daddy and Mommy and Auntie all come watch her in action. Alas, it is likely not to be.  My sweetheart is on his way home now to check in on her: she was crying so hysterically on the phone when he called he decided he had better drop everything and run.

There are a few poignant times I remember being sick in my childhood and missing landmark events: the big one was when I contracted pneumonia over the summer vacation and was hospitalized the night before the week long annual Camp Squeah adventure was to begin.  The cherry on my sundae was that all my other soon-to-be seventh grade friends were at camp so the only visitors I had were my parents and grandparents.  I do remember my Oma Rempel smuggling in a flask of gruene borscht (a very wonderful green barley and potato Mennonite specialty made with buttermilk) and being eternally grateful.  I haven't had a taste for jello or Reuben sandwiches since that stay 35 odd years ago.  I remember having only "baby" books to read and spending long hours watching the TV in the common room, through my window.  I wasn't allowed out of my room because apparently I was highly contagious.  The Flintstones minus sound does not good entertainment make.

Worse than the misery of being sick, however, was the wretched knowledge that all my friends were having fun TOGETHER when I was not.  What wonderful secrets and experiences would they share that I'd never be privy to?  Would my best friends be replaced and I'd be the tagger-alonger?  Might someone get the dreaded period on the trip?  Who would fall in love with whom while I was staring at cheerful, juvenile walls painted with giraffes and zebras?  No safari for you this week, young lady.  Only ice cold baths to bring your temperature down and  trays of tepid, jiggly food served on sickly colored melamine plates and bowls.

My other watershed sick story is when I contracted chicken pox the day of "the talk" at school in 5th grade.  It was the day where the girls were separated from the boys, trooped into some private, dark room and informed of all the indignities their bodies would soon be going through, from sprouting breasts to flowing periods.  I think we even anticipated learning what the s-e-x word actually consisted of.  There was a video from the Canadian National Film Board that would explain all the miracles of womanhood and then a discussion chaired by our teacher, Mrs. Johnston.

Alas, I was never to partake in this momentous day because I woke up covered in pox and an insaned frenzy of itchiness.  While I was being doused with calamine and scratching like a dog with fleas, my friends were giggling together through the most intimate, embarrassing details ears would ever hear.

Of course, I learned bits and pieces of what it was all about through their animated accounts, and my mother chased me around with a little Christian handbook entitled Almost Thirteen for years, trying to induce me to sit down and read it with her.  Over my dead body, I always thought.

So I figured it out in bits and pieces and jits and jogs, but to this day, I wonder if there is some vital piece of information I am missing had I just been able to watch that video and have the debriefing session.

I'm sure Charlotte will recover from her flu in a day or two, but right now I am also sure it feels like the biggest deal in the world, not being the starlet on the stage for a brief moment of glory.  If she's anything like her Mama (and she is), this is a girl destined for the limelight.  To miss out on an opportunity like this can be truly heartbreaking.

It's never fun being a sick kid, but it's ever so much worse being the sick kid who misses the big event.  One of my goals tonight will be to tell Charlotte some of my stories to know she's not alone.  She's soon sure to have a treasure trove of her own disappointments, but it can help to hear other people's misfortunes so you know you're not alone.

I've had a few impatient moments with my kids in the last few days that I regret quite profoundly so it's time for me to cozy up to my sweethearts and take on the role of comforting mama instead of mean, impatient mama.  I'm ready to play nurse and cars and Crazy Eights and even Spider Man on the iPhone if need be.

Sick kids need superhero parents to swoop in and save them. Lucky for them, their Papa is already in position to play the part, and I'm ready to step up, too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I Can't Put My Finger On It...

I can't put my finger on why, but I'm feeling off tonight.  Restless.  A little agitated.  Ever so slightly irritated.

I don't quite know what to do with myself.  I've flipped through a few pages of More magazine, but I didn't want to be reminded that I was an over-40 woman on the verge of incontinence, even though, according to their marvelous articles, I can be wrinkled and incontinent and have type B diabetes but still have a massively successful start-up in Silicone Valley well into my 50s.  

I downloaded a book from Kindle (for the first time ever!), but I feel tepid about actually picking up the iPad to read it.  It will be my first time ever reading a digital book, so as excited as I am to read the book (The Journal of Best Practices), I can't bring myself to start yet.  What is it going to feel like in my hands?  And reading from a glowing screen?  Don't I do enough of that already, all day every day?  
Then there's the guilt of possibly shutting down all the independent book sellers around the globe. Didn't I always aspire to run my own used book store and bakery (or maybe that was my sister or a character from a novel I once read - in a real, paper book)!

I've got a bowl of Shreddies cereal in front of me over which I've sprinkled sugar (but no milk) which is comforting me slightly; the half a tumbler of red wine is also easing the agitation.  I just got off the phone with my friend Carry whom we will be going to visit in Australia in two weeks time.  I'm ever so excited about seeing her and going to Oz, but Carry's cadence of speech, combined with her loveliest of accents and the shaky telephone connection may have had me laughing in the wrong places and agreeing with the wrong things. I know she said something about Stalin, and I still can't figure out why or what it was about.  I'll ask her when I see her in a few weeks.  Stalin or not, talking to Carry always makes me happier.

I'll admit that food almost always cheers me up!

But what is it that is casting a pallor on my admittedly rather charmed life and causing this malaise?

  • Could it be that Don and I just finished the last episode of Downton Abbey last night and who knows how long we'll have to wait before production finishes on season three?  What is going to happen to Bates and Anna, not to mention Cousin Matthew and Mary?  (I need another period piece drama pronto so please send your recommendations my way!)

  • I'm teaching puberty in class right now so my students might suggest I am "hormonally charged."  Alas, this is not the case, either.

  • Could it be the dismal weather?  For more than two months now we've had nary a ray of sunshine in Hong Kong until this glorious weekend; after basking in its glory for a brief 24 hours we are back to misty, humid wetness.  It's like getting the smallest lick of a passion fruit sorbet, only to have it whisked away before you can taste it's sweetness on your tongue once more.  

  • Or maybe it's my list of a million and one things to do.  At work and at home.  So two million and two things!  It seems cavernous or Everest-like or whatever image best conveys the enormity of it (maybe both ways at the same time!) and my teaspoon hands can only slowly dig me out, one miniscule task at a time.

  • Then again, perhaps it's the other way around: for all my can't-wait-another-day-to-get-them-done tasks, they really don't matter a whit in the scheme of life.  Am I dispensable?  Absolutely and then some!  I could fall off the side of the planet and plummet into Pluto and the world would proceed quite happily without me.  Oh, a few people might miss me once in a while, but they'd get over it.  They always do.
Some of the people who will miss me when I'm gone.
(Not the mahout or the elephant, though.)

  • The inevitability of death.  That could well be it.  For all the work we create for ourselves to make our lives meaningful (and put food on the table and roofs over our heads), ultimately we're all on that slippery slope of one-day-closer-to-death.

This is sounding more and more morose, but, surprisingly, it's cheered ME up a bit.  I don't know about you.  Sorry, if you started off cheerful enough and I've sent you into a nose dive.  There are about seven billion of us hanging out here on this planet and I'd hazard a guess that pretty much every one (except the Dalai Lama) feels this way one time or another.

Today I'm grateful that I only feel this way once in a while.  My new start for today is to remember gratitude again.  To remember that there is nothing wrong with feeling a little out of sorts.  To be with it.  To feel it.  To write about it.  To give a little smile.  To brush and floss and wash and pajama-up and go to bed.  

I may not be able to put my finger on it, but I have a feeling that sleep is the answer.  I'll stop fighting it and let sleep work its magic.  Tomorrow is a new day.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Luck or Serendipity?

I've been accused of "having a horseshoe up my backside," but I really don't think luck has anything to do with the life I've lived: I think it's all about the energy I've put out, the decisions I've made, and, yes, the serendipitous moments and people I've been destined to meet along the way.

Due to the good fortune of being born in a wealthy nation, the opportunity to be educated, the decision I made to travel overseas for my career, the fact that I've chosen to spend more of my money on experiences than things, a lot of amazing things have happened.

I Got the Guy

  • I met my sweetheart on an airplane on the way to Taiwan.  That was nearly 20 years ago.  He thought I was coy, I thought he was cute.  I won him over within a week.  We've been together ever since.

We Got the Gals

  • I thought I never wanted children, but an overheard conversation between my husband and a friend at a Halloween party and a willingness to ponder why I did not want kids, cracked open my heart and helped me to realize I had plenty of love and room for children in my life.  We chose adoption as our first choice, and the Beijing government chose our children for us.  Could there be two more wonderful, perfectly matched children to nestle into our hearts than the ones that were chosen for us?  That had to be destiny.  We are rich beyond words.  Two sets of birth parents in rural China must wonder about their given-up daughters each day.  I hope they have peace in their hearts, somehow knowing the children they produced are deeply loved and part of one of the happiest families on the planet.

I Love Where I Live and I Love What I Do

  • Don and I are both teachers, making modest amounts of money, both living outside of our home countries.  We have lived together in Taiwan, Korea, Canada, the States, China and now Hong Kong.  I have also had the opportunity to live in Greece and Germany.  All of these places have been home to me, but China is where we became a family so it is my favorite place on earth.  We have always placed adventure and newness over so-called stability, yet wherever we've been together we've felt stable, grounded and happy.  Home is where my family is.  It always amuses me when people think, because we live abroad, that our lives are a constant backpacking circus parade where we have no responsibilities or jobs, even.  We get up and go to work like the rest of the world and come home and zone out in front of square boxes like the rest of you.  The only difference is, we get to do it in so-called exotic locales where we can't easily listen in to other people's conversations.

I Go Places

  • Oddly enough, I'm both a travel junkie and a homebody.  When I'm in my work-zone, all I want to do is come home, put on my pajamas and hang out, but when I have the opportunity to pick up and go somewhere new, I'm all over it.  For those of us who are travel fanatics, a common goal is to get to as many countries as your age, which means I should be at 46, and be hitting my 47th very soon indeed.  I'm somewhere in my 30s I think, and that's because we can't seem to stop going back to Thailand.  In between its beauty, its beaches, its food, the foot massages, the affordability and the fact that its a couple of hours away from where we live, it's our standby vacation locale.  That being said, we're about to hit Australia for the first time in the next few weeks.  So excited!  (We could have bought a new high definition TV, but hitting Oz seemed like a more fun way to spend those extra pennies we earn.)

I'm Alive

  • And then there's the accident.  Nearly 20 years ago, just a few months after meeting my now-husband, I had a very traumatic motorcycle accident that should have killed me.  I remember flying over a bridge, my motorcycle staying on deck, thinking, "I guess this is the day I die."  And I didn't.  I'm alive and well.  I live with some degree of chronic back pain, but even when I feel that, I am more often than not thinking, "I should be dead, but I'm not.  How lucky am I?"

So whether you call it luck or being blessed and whether I brought it on myself or have been gifted it, I am one happy, grateful gal.  Life is grand and I feel so fortunate to have a new start every day!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day.  Be well and count your blessings.  
I'm sure you can find many of them.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Seven New Green Starts in Honor of Saint Patrick's Day

Here are some new green starts that seem apropos to put into action as we move toward St. Paddy's Day:

1. To eat even more green vegetables than I already do.  Aside from popcorn and sweets, I am a huge whole foods gal, but the more green stuff we put inside of us, the less room there is for all the other nasties that clog up those arteries.

2. To be more green by stopping with the tuna eating: the overfishing, the catching dolphins in the nets, the eco system going to hell in a hand basket, the guilt...

3. To ignore the green monster of jealousy when it comes to prettier, younger, skinnier, less stumpy women and just accept myself for the prima donna, sorta-pretty, aging gal that I am.

Me and the gal I get most jealous of: my beloved, gorgeous sister!

4. To ignore any niggling back pain and get out into the green, lush mountains for a good ramble with the family this weekend.

The view of our village from the hills above our house

5. To walk away from the Apple products more often and opt for those chopped down green tree things called books.  To be honest, our iPad is likely to become our book reading gadget of choice.  That will also help, of course, in the preservation of those green trees.  I think I've been won over to the world of digital reading except when it comes to celebrity gossip magazines; they MUST be brought into the tub.

6. To grow some greens on our rooftop.  This weekend, I'm going seed and soil and container shopping.  Tis the season...

7. To eat lots of green food for St. Patrick's Day but to imbibe no green alcohol, (in fact probably have no alcohol at all).  I'll be the designated driver, thank you very much.  I'm not Irish and I'm experimenting with going back to my teetotalling ways.  I've always been more of an eater than a drinker anyway.  That's where I like to get my calories...

Okay, it's neither green nor alcohol, but it
certainly isn't good for you! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

These are a Few of my Favorite Things...To Do With My Daughters

Doesn't that title just make you want to break out in song and nestle under the covers while listening to the thunder and lightning?  Doesn't it inspire you to go and make dresses out of your bedroom curtains?  Does it not compel you to prance around a room jumping from one piece of furniture to the next?

Among my favorite things to do with the gals are:

Watching Musicals

Yes, we love to watch movies like The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof and Mary Poppins and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (though, I must admit, that one was actually a bit hard to get through.  It was surprisingly boring for a movie about a magical car).

If you haven't heard my confessional before, the first movie that my girls ever attended in a proper theatre was Mama Mia.   It's not that I'm a lover of musicals: just a select few.  And really, what is more sing-alongable to than an ABBA song?  (Really, folks.  It was a great movie.  No gratutious violence or sex. Just dancing and singing and good, clean fun.)

Of course, Emily had her eyes shut the first half of the movie, saying, "The TV is too big - I can't watch it!' but once we persuaded her to pry her eyes open and start rocking out to the music, there was no stopping her.  She was dancing in the aisles by the end, and we are now (much to my husband's chagrin) proud owners of the movie.  Just last week the girls requested a re-watch.  Lord knows, they're a lot more stressed out by Home Alone and ET and other so-called children's movies than they are by mommy's adult musical favorites.

Exercising Together

Aside from rousing singalong movie watching, I love to exercise with my daughters.  The last few weeks Emily and I have started doing Pilates together.  We mute the bits where we have memorized the instructors's inane comments and we mimic the things she says like, "Tighten your buns, girls" or "Squeeze those abs," or "Give it all you've got, gals.  Think how good you're gonna feel when it's all done."

We also have a lot of fun going on hikes through our local Hong Kong mountains.  This is a whole family activity and we are often joined by our best buddies, too.  Rain or shine, we always have a lot of fun shimmying over the hills.  Bribery in the form of chocolate is usually included and there are always a lot of stories and jokes  Surely you have you heard the one about the three-legged dog who walks into the bar and tells the bartender, "I'm looking for the man who shot my paw."  If you accompany us on our gallavants, these are the kinds of jokes you will hear.  Again and again.

Hanging Out on the Beach

We are lucky enough to have a little beach in the front of the village we live in, just a moment's walk from our house.  Some of our most pleasant times together have been spent picking up shells (or garbage!), bringing down picnics on warm Sunday afternoons, floating in the sea when the weather is warm, and some half-hearted attempts at fishing.  Often we'll drag down the lawn chairs and, in the colder weather, a flask of hot chocolate (I brought down Baileys to spike mine with at Christmas) and some baked goods.  I'll often bring a book sometimes and settle in for a good lounge while the gals enact elaborate fantasies or reenact scenes from The Lion King.  The satisfaction and deep contentment I feel being beside the sea with happy daughters beside me is indescribable.

 Reading Together

What could be better?  We make time for this every day and it is almost always the highlight of my day.  There are few times I can remember in our seven odd years of parenting that we have gone without reading to our kids before bed.  Every once in a while there is an occasion (that actually feels a bit sad) where Charlotte will ask if she can read alone in her bed.  I know these times will come more frequently before long, and reading in the bed (or tub!) or anywhere is a great, private pleasure that needn't be shared.  Even so, we most often say, "Let's read together first and then you can go read on your own for a bit, too."

The pleasures of the read aloud are still with me from my primary years when the itinerant librarian, Ms. Lindor, a big bosomed, masculine woman came to our school once a week to read to us from The Secret Garden or James and the Giant Peach or other books that remain classics to this day.  If I do say so myself, I am an excellent read alouder and will miss the days when I am no longer called upon to do so.

Dressing Up

Emily wearing her Aunty Coly's bikini top.

While I don't want my daughters to become too "precious" (and they're not), we do enjoy the act of prettifying together.  I really DO put make up on because I am of a certain age and I need it, but they like to use my brushes and pretend to adorn themselves.  Then  they prance around the room, donning my heels (and sometimes my bras) and pretending they are movie stars.  Putting on toe nail polish is a sacred rite that involves detailed scrutiny of the various varnish colors and a great deal of wriggling and laughing and lots of touch-ups.

Dressing up can also involve tiaras (for mommy too, of course), Spiderman, tiger, and leopard outfits, and occasionally daddy's underwear and some kicky red cowboy boots we were given.  When we have visitors, they have to keep their clothes locked in suitcases or they might just find the gals staging a fashion show with their bathing suits or pajamas!

Going for "Coffee"

The girls and I love to pack up our favorite reading and drawing materials and head off to the local coffee shop to enjoy a cup of coffee together.  The girls actually get hot cocoa with whipped cream (and sometimes I do too) but we always call it coffee.  It's a good bonding time together.  We usually share a scone or muffin and we pretend we are sophisticated young ladies who lunch (unti Emily inevitably spills her chocolate and chaos ensues.)

Living in Hong Kong, the girls have learned the nuances of the English accent and this is usually when they choose to pull it out and use it very loudly.  "Mummy will you be a dear, and pass the sugar?  Thanks, awfully, darling!"

Driving Home From School Together

A few days a week I have the pleasure of driving the girls home from school.  It is always an education to hear what they have to tell me and ask me about as we make our way home along our seaside route.  Emily's questions are often along the line of, "Mommy, tell me exactly how the brakes work and when my legs will be long enough to use them," and "How do you make the car go speedier, Mama?"

Charlotte will ask questions like, "So, do you think after primary school I can go straight to university or do you think I should go to high school first?"  or "What about babies?  Will it hurt?"  Then Emily will chime in with, "When  you adopted us, Mama, did we come out of your tummy?"  (She's getting it.  Slowly.  There are lucid moments but the synapses have not yet fully connected on this topic.)

Often we listen to classic episodes of The Satellite Sisters on my iPod and the girls will guess which sister is talking.  "Is that Julie or Monica, Mama?"  It must be Lian.  I think it's Liz: she's talking about the news.  If she's talking about teaching, it's Sheila.  She's a teacher, you know."

It's funny that my girls like listening to podcasts, but I guess since Mama is a fan, I'm turning my girls into fans, too.  (We've thought the three of us could make our own!)  In between that and NPR streaming at home all the time, I have a feeling they will become information junkies before long.  In spite of their exposure to current events, the other day when I asked Charlotte who her president was, she replied, "Giraffe Obama? No, Geronimo Bolton. I mean Barack Iraq. Oh, it's Brack Obrama."

(In her defense, we DO live in Hong Kong, and though she is an American citizen, she has never lived there.)

Anyway, it's often in the car where we make some good connections together and have a good laugh. By the time we get home, we're in high spirits.  We keep the keys out of Emily's reach because, if she could, she'd be the resident chauffeur on our driving adventures.

My New Starts For Today:

No new starts.  I'm just committed to keep doing my favorite things with my favorite little gals in the world.  Life is sweet and I am grateful.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Why Am I Always Sick on Saturdays?

Here I am in bed: it's four in the afternoon, and for the first time today, I am actually able to look at a computer screen without feeling like I'll vomit.  (Even though I have had two Skype chats: one with one of my dearest friends, Heather, and the other with my sis and mom and dad and bro-in-law.  It was so good to speak with them all, but it must have been painful for them to watch me: a blob on the bed, grunting and looking like Cousin It from Munsters.)

And no, folks, for those of you who don't know me up close and personal, it's not a hangover.  Never had one.  Never will.

That being said, I have a sneaking suspicion it might be the wine.  Friday night is date night for Don and myself, and I usually have a glass or two with dinner.  Usually Sauvignon Blanc.  Usually Marlborough out of New Zealand.  Then we come home and snuggle up in bed and watch Mad Men or Downton Abbey or 30 Rock or some other racy couples show.

It's often within an hour or so of getting home that the headache begins, builds through the night, and I wake up feeling as though a piece of shrapnel went clear through my head.  No amount of medicine, over the counter or prescription, seems to help.

The guilt doesn't help either, of course.  I work hard all week long, by and large enjoy myself immensely at work, but hugely look forward to the weekend ahead with my beloved family.  I've pretty much banned any outside parties, save from our closed friends, out of our lives on weekends, because I so enjoy our time together.

The gals are invited to countless birthday parties and there are many sporting events and opportunities we could avail ourselves of, but mostly I just want us to hike and cook and play on our dirty little beach and watch movies and hang out together.  (Okay, part of it is also that I have a very strong anti-social streak that most people don't realize I actually have because I "turn on" socially very well.  For about half an hour.  And then I'm done.  I could have happily been a hermit if I'd had a stage and could have broadcast myself live (because while being anti-social, I deeply crave limelight).

In spite of my grandest intentions of spending every available moment with my loved ones have I "hung out" for more than five minutes today with any of my three favorite people on the planet?  Nope.

Aside from Emily giving me a head butt this morning (unintentionally, but it didn't help the migraine), and Charlotte petting me like a little kitty who had been run over by a truck, and Don helplessly standing over me, saying, "How can I help?"  I've had no contact with my gorgeous family.  They've gone off to hike and play and eat and I have lain inert in my bed for the better part of six hours.

If not the wine, what else could this Saturday sickness be?  Is it possible that I work so hard during the week and feel so duty-bound to "put-out" and be "on" that come Saturday morning I've got nothing left in me but a fleshy shell of pain?

I'd like to think that's not true.  I AM happy at work and, no, I don't take sick days when I probably should and I DO sometimes pretend to be more in control than I actually think I am, but who doesn't?

I don't see every parent succumbing to their beds come the weekend from sheer exhaustion and overwork.  Do I just have a weak constitution?  Is it because of my vegetarianism?  (I think not!)  I never get colds or flus or coughs or even tummy aches much: mostly I get debilitating headaches that make me question whether I even want to be alive.

The worst of it is (Okay, the pain IS the worst of it), but the second worst of it is the tremendous guilt that accompanies the day lost to my family.  As daddy and daughters bond and indulge in fun activities, poor sick mommy rots at home and feels inadequate and sad and lonely and angry at herself for not having the sheer fortitude to just lunge herself out of bed and carry on in the face of excruciating pain.
Surely other parents do it all the time?

I like to think of myself as a strong woman.  I was a Pioneer Girl extraordinaire (the evangelical equivalent to a Girl Guide or Brownie) and a farm girl who could arm wrestle any boy into the mud given all my manuring-out-the-barn practice.  I've never been particularly athletic (no hand-eye coordination), but I have legs like tree stumps and a heart of steel (and gold) so aside from a back injury, I could have been a female body builder.

Yet I'm brought to the mat again and again by the sharp-scissors-through-the-head syndrome that results in the feeling-like-a-pathetic-mommy phenomena which then hearkens the I'm-such-a-crummy-parent voice that reverberates through my skull and probably exacerbates the pain.

So what to do?  This, my fifty-first blog, appears to be my bitchiest and most hopeless so I had better come up with a list of positive to-dos and set about enacting them or I will no longer be able to call myself inspirational.  (I call myself that; I'm honestly not sure that anyone else ever has.) Anyhoo, I want my aspiration of becoming a cross-section of Ellen and Oprah to stay alive so I'm going to end on a positive note with my "newstarteveryday" list.  (And if anyone has any insights/recommendations into my weekend maladies, please pass them along!)

For the remainder of the day:

So long as my children whisper, they can spend time with me in bed.  (Unfortunately, there can also be no jumping on the bed).

I will listen to happy podcasts (in the dark) that will make me smile even though no one will be able to see me.

I will drink more water, as my bf, Claire, just recommended in a text to me.  She seems to think it will help me feel less sorry for myself.  She has also warned me off of writing a confessional blog, but it appears I have already done that.

I will be thankful for the fact that very few calories have been consumed today.

I think I will drink something carbonated because bubbles always make me feel better.  (Of course, there will be no alcohol involved in the carbonation.)

I will get away from this brightly-lit screen and stay away from the Internet for the remainder of the day.  It's just too easy to get slurped into the virtual world and not live in the real one.  My real family is coming home soon so the rest of the day belongs to them!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Taking a Mental Margarita...

Because it's all feeling like a bit much today, I want to remind myself of some of my favorite tactics I use when I need to keep soldiering on with my big-life commitments, but I need a little break.  It's important to take a "mental margarita" once in a while to revitalize and renew.

Here are some of the little things I do to give me a little zap of energy and help me get back to feeling okay about myself and my little life:

1. Remember that more than 6 billion people on the planet have it WAY worse than I do.

So I have to stay late and work tonight for a parent curriculum evening and there's a stack of papers on my desk that need grading?  That's not exactly the end of the world.  I'm not starving.  I'm not sick.  I'm not mourning the loss of a loved one.  I've just got a late night.  So what?

2. Drink some water.

 I am constantly dehydrated and don't even know it.  I just know I'm feeling low-energy and slurring my words or getting a headache.  It's not until the near-migraine stage that I have the "aha" moment that the only thing I've drunk today is my morning glug of joe.

One of the reasons I've been dehydrated for the better part of my life is that I thought I was supposed to drink my water cold and with ice.  I hate that.  In Asia, most people drink their water warm.  I love that.  I love it even more when it has a squeeze of lemon in it.  When I am hydrated, I think better and can get more done in a quicker amount of time.

3. Read something funny.

A string walked into a bar. The bartender said,”Sorry, we don’t serve your kind. Get out of here.” The string went outside, tied itself into knots, and shredded its ends. He went back inside. The same bartender looked at him suspiciously and said,”Are you that string again?  I told you already, we don't serve your kind.” The string replied, "I'm a frayed knot."

Funny, right?  A little guffaw and you may just be good to go again!

4. Listen to something funny while you're doing mind-numbing work that doesn't require your concentration.

I recommend these three podcasts:

They can all be found on iTunes or just go to the websites and listen from there.  Each of these podcasts has years worth of archives so you're set for a long time.  It's funny stuff that will make your day.

5. Watch something short and funny and then get back to work.

On Saturday, Charlotte and I watched all the video clips of those two adorably crazy British girls who are regular guests on Ellen.  Just go to and search for "Sophia Grace and Rosie."  Or just listen to Ellen's monologue which is posted daily.  It's a few minutes of good, clean entertainment and it takes the edge off every time.  Once I've had my quickie Ellen laugh, I'm ready to get back to work.  (Or I might listen to a dozen more of her monologues and THEN get back to work.)

6. Sing along to a medley of tunes from either Fiddler on the Roof or The Sound of Music.

 Belting out "My Favorite Things" helps me pretty much every time I'm a bit down in the dumps.  I have them readily available on my iPhone and all my electronic devices so I can be a show girl any time I need to take a short break.

7. Have a good old-fashioned smooch (if you're lucky enough to have someone to smooch with)!

8. When all else fails, make my margarita a real one!  If it doesn't get done today, there's always tomorrow.