Monthly Archives: July 2014

Models…

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A million years ago…or maybe closer to 40 years or so ago-more realistically speaking; my older brother Bill traveled to Alaska with a buddy on vacation. While there he took hundreds of mostly scenic pictures with his 126 camera. Upon his return my mom refused to spend the money on developing fees…not because the scenery wasn’t beautiful, but rather because no person could be found standing in front of the scenery.
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As such for years I couldn’t waste a single frame of film on a scenic shot, unless there was an object-person contained within. Oh sure they might be off to the side-out of the main shot–but they were still there-eventually needing to be cropped out! Thank goodness for the advent of digital cameras. Nowadays I can take hundreds of scenic shots without worry or care.

Believe me when I tell you I still enjoy snapping pictures of my kids, but they don’t like it when I do. Instead they block the shot, purposely sneer or find any other way to ruin the shot. Why wouldn’t I want a beautiful scenic shot instead? That being said, I’ll never stop trying to take their picture….much like they’ll never stop trying to be the center of attention at the worst possible times.

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Dog days of summer

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Ordinarily I would be complaining about the heat this time of year, but due to a polar vortex which has found a new home over Northwest Ohio, all I can say is, hello extended Spring. I know many people who are upset we haven’t had typical summer weather for some time. Last year there was too much rain; this year too many cool tempered days. I dare say however, if you work outside, these temperatures have been a dream. But I digress.

My kids don’t seem to care…so long as they can sleep in late and be lazy bums, all is right in their world. The rest of us hark back to 90 degree days when kids wore nothing but swim and bathing suits from sun up to sun down; fueling the need to swim in local pools, lakes or rivers. Some adults however use heat as their excuse to seek out cool shelter in shopping malls. Maybe what’s best of all, is the enjoyment derived from an ice cold beverage on a blisteringly hot day.

Yet even with these cooler temperatures, we’ve experienced some very beautiful sunny days without a cloud in the sky. The cool temps have not stopped us from gathering with friends or memorizing the nuances of the sights and sounds around us. We’re still creating reminders of summer, whether from smells of evening bonfires or music playing from radios; forever cataloging them as “summer songs” (The Stampeders Sweet City Woman) in our minds.

Looking back on these waning days of July, yes, we have experienced more cooler temperature days than hot and August’s forecast doesn’t offer much improvement. School starts back up in 19 days and while many parents (me included) are looking forward to routine coming back into our lives, I can’t help but feel a little bad the kids had an extended Spring, rather than full hot summer. However as I tend to tell the kids repeatedly, summer is what you make it. Go out live and have fun-weather be damned!

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Real life

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I was standing in a friends garage the other night visiting when my cell phone rang. “Yes” I replied to the caller, my doll. “Mom I’m about to explode!!” She said into the receiver. “Literally or vehemently?” I replied. “What does that mean?” She asked. “Are you really going to explode into a thousand pieces or do you just feel like screaming?” I replied and could envision her eyes rolling as we spoke. “I really want to scream! There is stuff happening over at PC (Pic Collage) which makes no sense!” She said in a frustrated tone. “Why don’t you?” I asked. “Oh that’s all I need, the boy in my grill wondering why I screamed”. She said in reply. “Doll, grab the dog and let her out back…while she’s doing her business you can so yours–get it?” I explained. “Oh…” She began before I finished, “I’ll be home soon and we can talk about it…” “Okay” she replied before hanging up.
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Earlier in the week the doll informed me one of the “girls” she had been talking with on Pic Collage turned out to be a boy. When I arrived home I entered her bedroom and asked how she was doing. “Oh I’m okay now…it was a huge misunderstanding.” She said. “Elaborate please?” I replied. “Mom it’s no big deal…” The doll tried. “No that doesn’t work. You called me ready to scream in frustration at this board. Now spill…” I demanded. “Well there has been a lot of fighting and bullying on the board lately and people who I talk with are leaving for good-to get away from it all. I thought one of the peeps I like to talk with was leaving for good, but she was just going out to dinner.” “Sounds like a lot of contrived drama to me” I said. “I used to belong to the Soapnet message board…” I began before she interrupted with a laugh. “A soap what? Who does that mom?” She laughed mockingly. “You have you sites, I had mine…” I said before moving on. As I began to dispensing advice, I noticed she had become more interested with what was happening online, rather than what I had to say. Annoyed I reached out and snatched her iPod out of her hand and walked away.

“GIVE IT BACK! GIVE IT BACK!! She screamed and began slapping at my hand. “No” I replied and switched hands before depositing the iPod into my front pants pocket as she began to yell “THATS MINE! GIVE IT BACK!” While she continued to slap and hit at me. Finally I turned around and yelled “BACK OFF” before walking out of her room to her shouts of “I should have never told you a thing!! You’re the worst mom ever!!!!
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A half an hour later, once we had both calmed down she asked, “May I please have my iPod back?” “No” I replied. “I hate you!” She returned with a pout. “I hate this behavior of yours” I informed. “Doll I took this from you because you called me away from visiting with friends, seeking my advice and then you rudely dismissed me by making this…” I said holding up her iPod. “… more important than me”. “Oh” she said adding a “Sorry” for good measure. “Are you willing to listen now?” I asked. Seeing this as a means to getting her IPod back, she quickly nodded yes and I began. “I used to belong to the Soapnet message board, very similar to PC. There I became good friends with many people and often looked forward to talking with them every night. But I came to realize the people online aren’t ‘real-per se” “Wait, what about Lauren?” She asked. That’s different; I met Lauren through Twitter-but that’s not the point. What I mean by real doll, is those friends you interact with everyday in your real life off the internet. You and me sitting here talking is real life. You talking with others about your moms on PC isn’t do you understand?” I said. She nodded but not in a convincing manner. “You became really upset and frustrated over the actions of a few people you don’t even know!” I exclaimed. “I know them!” She replied. “Really? What city do they live in? What school do they attend? How many children do they have?” I fired off rapidly. “Why would they have children?” The doll asked rolling her eyes. “My point is…do you really know much about them other than the few crumbs of information they’ve let slip?” “No.” She answered. “Then why are you allowing their online antics to get you so upset? How do you know they weren’t just trying to shake the board up because they were bored on a Friday night?” “I don’t” she replied in a small voice” “Exactly! You don’t. PC may be fun, darlin’ but it isn’t real life. Please keep PC in perspective….please.”

We talked for a while longer and once satisfied she understood, I returned the iPod to her. “Thank you Mom”. She said and I replied under my breath, don’t make me regret it.

Ugh!!!!!

Heavy…

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I invited the doll to take a walk with me last night, which she agreed-so long as I didn’t talk to her. “Whatever doll…” I replied and we fell into an easy step as we walked along. “Mom why are some people so fake!” She asked. “I thought you didn’t want me talking to you…” I replied. “No you misunderstood. I don’t want you talking to me first. But you can answer my questions…” She explained. “Ah” I said nodding my head with understanding. “Um, well ah, what was your question again?” I asked. “Why are people so fake?”

We walked along in silence for a few minutes before I asked “In real life or…?” Rolling her eyes she replied “It took you that long to ask me another question?” I laughed. “Doll…I don’t understand the context of the question. So before I answer you I want to make sure I’m in the right ballpark-so to speak”. Giving me a frustrated groan she replied, I just finished this book where this girl named Leslie was bullied by her…” the doll lifted her hands and framed quotation marks as she said “so called friends”. “Okay…” I replied. “Well Leslie was so fed up by it all she committed suicide”.

Oh crap!

“Okay….did the book offer any explanations?” I replied. “Well they each had reasons why they picked on her; mostly they were following this one girl’s (Macie) jealousy of Leslie being asked out by a boy she had a crush on”. “Aren’t girls lovely?” I said aloud before I realized it. “Doll, first of all, did the book show you all the other kids insecurities at play?” I asked. “Yes. One girl was gay and had a crush on Leslie and didn’t want to be rejected; another girl just wanted to be part of the popular group at school…” She explained.

“Well that should answer your question…” I said. Her face scrunched together as she turned her head and asked how?” Laughing to myself at the look on her face, I replied “Insecurity. Most people are so worried others will see their own flaws that they go out of their way to emphasize the flaws in others”. As my explanation took root she nodded in understanding. We
walked a little further in silence before she asked “What did you mean when you said “Aren’t girls lovely?”

Shoot!!! I thought to myself.

“Nothing… it’s just, typically girls are depicted as wildly jealous creatures…especially during high school…” I tried to explain. She interrupted and asked “Because of our hormones?” Smiling I replied “Well they certainly don’t help. But let’s get back to your book for a minute” I added hoping to skirt the issue. “Do you know who was responsible for Leslie’s death?” “Eventually all the players crumbled and blamed the ringleader.” She replied. Shaking my head back and forth quickly I said, “No, she may have bullied her-but she’s not responsible. The only one responsible is Leslie. She made a split second decision to take a cowardly way out. I often wonder if they think of this solution as final or just an end to this bad chapter. You know like a video game. One life done, new life begins to try anew.” She looked at me and almost imperceptibly nodded her head in understanding. “I call her a coward doll because she had choices but couldn’t see beyond her own painful insecurities. You know your Dad had a friend-a very good friend commit suicide a few years ago. Your dad was devastated and very angry that his good buddy-who had issues mind you; didn’t stop and think about the mess he was making or the giant hole he created in everyone’s heart. Suicide is never the solution…never an answer.” I said.

At that I stopped talking as we continued to walk along; each lost in our own thoughts. When we were almost home she asked “Mom did you ever consider suicide?” “Not really” I replied before adding “I’d be lying if I didn’t have a what if conversation with myself. But I always came to the same conclusion…I want to see what happens next. I don’t want to miss anything…I’m too curious” “Yeah me too! I mean I’m too curious too!” The doll offered. “Good” I replied with a half hug.

All the while I screamed “Thank God!!!” in my head.

a walk through the blooms…

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20140725-134748-49668086.jpg20140725-134746-49666150.jpgOn Sunday, my husband asked the kids if they would like to accompany him and his mother, to the area botanical gardens and take a nice walk. They both declined. Disgusted by our children’s lack of desire to do nothing other than be lazy on the beautiful summer day, I ordered them to go. I was met with various objections “I’m too tired” being chief among them. Unfortunate for them, their apparent tiredness was of no concern to me and after much grumbling and being called mean, we were on our way.

When the walk commenced one couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the day really was-especially20140725-134747-49667021.jpg when walking among the many blooming flowers. The boy and his Grandmother paired off and immediately spotted a Great Blue Herron off in the distance looking intently into the river which snaked through the garden’s property. I stopped every so often; taking pictures of native plants, yet seemingly exotic flowers-many of which I’ve never seen before. The doll and her dad fell into easy companionship as they walked alongside one another, a few feet ahead of me. “Hey! I shouted toward my husband, “I think I just planted these in our garden yesterday…” pointing at a particular set of blooms.

“I’m going to take a picture of that tree…” The doll said, disappearing for a moment. When she rejoined us, the boy said, “Doll, did you know that’s a willow tree?” “I’m not an idiot boy!” She testily replied.  “If you take some of the  bark and boil it down, you could make a tea… Trying desperately to tone her brother out, half listening she replied, “I don’t like tea!” “…whose innate properties act as a pain killer?” Trying to put distance between herself and the boy, she moved at a faster pace, missing when her father added, “Okay, no pain killer for you…” The rest of us smiled and I made a mental note of a willow tree’s special properties.

Mosquito Bar

Mosquito Bar

At some point the doll surprised me,  emerging from beneath a tree, whose branches hung down around the tree trunk, sheltering her from view. Looking back at me she pointed and said “It’s cool in there”. I smiled and replied, “I would have thought that was a mosquito hangout.” Giving me a disappointed look she replied, “Way to ruin everything mom”. “You’re welcome” I replied with a laugh.

All told, we spent a little over an hour and a half, walking around the gardens; taking pictures. While the kids may say the exercise was dumb and tiresome, I knew better and hopefully someday they will too.

6000 steps….

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Oh if only this were true….

Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he requested something called “wheat germ, organic honey and tiger’s milk.”

Dr. Aragon: [chuckling] Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.

Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or… hot fudge?

Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy… precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.

Dr. Melik: Incredible.

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When I was a kid, by some odd stroke of luck, my town had the first pay-per-view Cablesystem. What’s more incredible, my very strict, devout Catholic parents were subscribers.  Channel 100, as it was called back then, offered two new movies per week; but in between, replayed the previous week’s movies over and over. As such, some movies have stayed in my sub conscious with very little effort from me. Woody Allens 1973 hit film Sleeper, about a man who goes into the hospital for a minor operation in 1973 and wakes up 200 years in the future-after the hospital cryogenically froze him in hope of resuscitating him later; is one of those films. Even though many of the jokes were above my head back then, they have staying power today. The above sequence I often think could be running through my son’s head at any given time. 

The other day, one of the stipulations on the Electronic Device Retrieval Guide (EDRG) was for the boy to take my old Ipod, activate the pedometer app and go for a 6000 step walk. He was mortified. “Mom there is no way one can walk that far in a day” He argued. “Bay, actually 6000 is quite achievable. Studies recommend you take at least 10,000 steps a day. So we’ll start slow and build until you’re able to accomplish that.” I said and then showed him how the app worked.

A few hours later he called me at work and said, “Hi Momma! I wanted to tell you I’m out taking a walk…” “Hey that’s great!” I said in return before adding, “Are you recording your steps? Where are you now?” “Yes I have the Ipod activated” He said in a chipper voice and then added, “I’m about a block away from Little Caeser’s Pizza. The doll and I pooled our money and I’m walking there to pick up the pizza now”. “Because there was no food to be found in our overcrowded refrigerator?” I dead panned. “Well it’s a hot day and I figured the pizza would stay warm on my walk home…” He answered. “Besides Momma, somedays pizza is just better…”

After our call was disconnected, I couldn’t help but laugh and shake my head at his ingenuity. However, the walk to the pizzaria and back only covered about 2000 steps…. My husband having become abreast of the situation ushered him out the door and encouraged him to walk an additional 4200 steps-much to his surprise.  All told he walked 3.6 miles…no worse for wear. What’s more, yesterday he recorded 6,024 steps or 2.9 miles. Who knows what he’ll accomplish today?

And to show the doll, momma isn’t messing around, 6000 steps has now become a standard non negotiable item on the EDRG-for both kids.

 

 

Electronic Device Retrieval Guide….

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I no longer leave the children a “To do” chore list at home. Instead, a new tactic has been employed. The name of the list is now called The Electronic Device Retrieval Guide. As such, each morning I swipe the kids various electrical devices (DS for the boy and Ipod for the doll) and hide them somewhere in the house. In addition, to ensure they do not spend their day frozen in front of the television, I’ve thrown parental locks on the DVR, essentially leaving only news programs available for viewing. The guide then lists ways the children can work to retrieve their items for the remainder of the day and night. As you might imagine, neither child is a fan of this new system. One might argue I’m being too harsh on my children. Perhaps, but one of my stipulations is they go outside-smell the roses, experience life; rather than staying inside, cooped up all day.

Last Friday one of my “tasks” asked the kids to go outside and walk around for a while and then write a 300 word essay about what they found. The doll called me at work “Can I just write a short story that has nothing to do with walking around outside?” “How about a short story about walking around outside?” I countered. “Mom, this is SUMMER not the school year. I think this exercise is totally unfair!” She replied. “Who said I was fair? Just write something…find some inspiration and use your imagination.” I encouraged. She hung up the phone as a loud groan was heard escaping from her.

The boy called me a half an hour later “Mom how about I tell you about my adventure” He asked excitedly. “Bay I don’t have the time to listen. Just sit down and write a quick essay” I replied. “Mom, there was nothing inspiring about my bike ride…so I can’t write you an essay.” “Are you saying you can only write when inspired?”I asked in reply. “Yes”. “Bay, 300 words is not that big of an essay…really. I have faith you can find something. You know when you two were small, we’d go on walks and see all kinds of stuff-real or imagined. Use some of that imagination now…” The phone disconnected with a loud bang.

When I arrived home the doll handed me a short story about pirates. “Did you imagine you were fighting pirates on your walk?” I asked. “No. This is something I began to write a long time ago,  but abandoned. Now I found a use for it. Thanks” she said in a very droll tone. “Did you write any of this today?” I asked holding the notebook. “Yes…the last paragraph”-which contained almost 30 words. “You were supposed to write 10 times this amount” I pointed out. “Mom! For goodness sake. I went to the park, sat down and wrote the ending to the short story then came home.” “How long were you at the park?” I asked. “About a half an hour” the doll replied. Having at least completed the going outside requirement I gave in and she happily disappeared into her bedroom with her Ipod for the rest of the evening.

“Can I have my DS?” The boy asked. “Let me see your essay” I replied. “Mom! Nothing inspiring happened. I can’t write about a trip to the store…I mean seriously it was a boring exercise!!” “300 words will take you ten minutes to write…just do it” I replied. Frustrated he stomped off toward his bedroom while his father and I shook our heads at his behavior. “How difficult really is 300 words? I mean heck, it really isn’t that difficult!” I remarked to my husband. “I know I told him to just do it. I don’t understand why he’s fighting so hard against it”. “You know if he wrote the phrase “I went for a bike ride around the neighborhood” over and over again I’d accept that. At least then he would be using his noggin to get out of the essay instead his desire to just not do the darn thing.” I explained.

A while later the boy emerged from his bedroom and thrust a notebook into my hands “Here, where’s my DS?” he asked angrily. “When I finish reading, you’ll get the DS back” I said. “FINE!”  He said then stormed off. “I rode my bike to the park. I rode my bike around the park. I rode my bike to the stoplight. I pressed the button to speed the crosswalk light up. It didn’t work. I rode my bike across the street and onto the sidewalk in front of the high school. They were putting new asphalt down and the road wasn’t ready for tires. I saw a homeless man. I avoided him. I rode behind the high school. I…..”

All in all he had almost a 1000 word essay which gave me a step by step account of his time on the bike. “Bay, you don’t make up any stories in your head while you’re riding your bike? Is everything this black and white with you?” I asked. “Momma…what I think about while riding is for my consumption only.” He explained. “Now can I have my DS back?” “Sure…it’s in your bedroom.” I said. “Wha? Where?” he asked. “In between your mattress and box springs. You’ve been lying upon it all day.” I smiled. “Mom you’re cruel!” he replied and disappeared into his bedroom for the rest of the evening.

“So what did you learn from this exercise?” My husband asked. “I think it was a complete success…they spent  time outside and they actually, incredibly agreed on something–their mutual hatred for the essay” I replied with a laugh before continuing, “And what’s more, they went outside for a while…and survived”.

To which we both agreed was a good thing.

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For those wondering-Today’s blog has 970 words not including this sentence. See 300 may sound large-especially to tween/teenagers, but really is not (987)