27 June 2009

Saturday Night Muttering

11:30pm, almost bedtime........time for a quick probing of my subconscious!

  1. Guest :: Be our guest, be our guest (Beauty and the Beast)

  2. Impact :: It's the final countdown (don't know why I thought of this song?)

  3. Unplanned :: Pregnancy

  4. Tactic :: tactical maneuvers

  5. Delayed :: gratification

  6. Bombastic :: Pompous

  7. Comfort :: I have become comfortably numb

  8. Trumpet :: Wynton Marsalis plays one

  9. Joe :: the plumber, six-pack

  10. Budget :: It's hard to live within one
Icky words this week, my thoughts weren't very forth coming out of my unconscious. Want to give muttering a try?

23 June 2009

Public Schooling Stifles Kids' Free Will

A friend in an online chat group recently sent along a great link. Here's what she said about it:

A local unschool dad had a letter to the editor published as a guest column in the Atlanta paper. He is part of a group that is working to rescind compulsory education.

This article gives a great explanation of why public school is so harmful to our children. He also gives one of the best definitions of unschooling that I have seen. Definitely worth a few minutes of your time if A: You think there are problems with public school and B: You want to know why I unschool my kids.

Public schools stifle kids’ free will

22 June 2009

My Daughter Made a YouTube Video

And being the proud mom that I am, I have to share it. I had no idea, but Catherine worked on this most of the day. It's her first attempt at putting together a video. I think it's sweet. BTW, she is self-taught on this whole making a video thing, I have no idea how to do it. Unschooling at it's best!

Here's the story, which is good to know before watching the video:

Cliff is singing about his daughter Jill, who is growing up and (Eventually) getting married to Skye. (No, Jill is not Cliffs daughter, this only exists in my Vids.)

That was in Catherine's words. The pictures are people from Harvest Moon, the video game. (I didn't know who they were either, but it's still cute : )

21 June 2009

Late Saturday Night Muttering

It's really Sunday morning, 12:15 am to be exact. WAY past my bedtime. Let's see if my brain is still working:
  1. Divorce :: None for me thanks

  2. Napkin :: use one

  3. Camera :: All I've got is a photograph and I realize you're not coming back anymore

  4. Leather :: comes from cows

  5. Fractures :: breaks

  6. Flip out :: I tend to do that occasionally...I blame hormones!

  7. Coroner :: My sister wanted to be one....Quincy!

  8. Atomic :: Bomb

  9. Liz :: Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother 40 whacks, when she saw what she had done she gave her father 41.

  10. Leave :: It to Beaver!

Well, I know I still remember the Lizzie Borden rhyme ; )

Want to see what comes out of your unconscious?

19 June 2009

Duggar's Again

I know, I am probably a horrible person because I criticize the Duggar's. The way I look at it, they decided to put their life on tv, which means I get to criticize them if I want to ; )

The latest show my youngest daughter (Catherine) and I watched (oldest daughter can't stomach the show) was about them going to some homeschooling conference in Texas. They loaded up their giant bus and headed out on a road trip. When they got to the conference they showed some of the activities the kids had planned for the week. While the boys were outside rappelling down towers and having fun, the girls were inside teaching a bunch of little kids. What is wrong with this picture?

I get when you have to wear a full length denim skirt everyday that it might be hard to rappel down a tower, but the boys were having FUN and the girls were struggling to wrangle a bunch of little kids. I was so bothered by this. I wanted to see those girls outside rappelling down the darn tower. Heck, I wanted to try rappelling down the tower.

After the show was over I still couldn't get the thought out of my mind that they never showed the girls letting loose and having fun. They always have jobs to do. Even at home these girls are helping their mom wrangle younger siblings or helping with the housework.

What must it be like to grow up and always think of yourself as 2nd? I suppose some might think it noble for someone to give of themselves so much that they always put their needs last. But these girls are never even taught that it is ok to put themselves first. Are they allowed to say no at home? What if they had told someone at the conference that they wanted to rappel down the tower (denim skirt and all)? Would they have let them? Probably not, climbing towers isn't a "girlie" thing to do, that's boy/man stuff. That's what bothers me so much. The fact that they have drawn these lines of what is acceptable for the girls and what is not. Keep those girls in their place, girls needs always come after boys. Bleh!

I grew up in the 70's the age of feminism. For all the bad things people say about feminists, they have helped women progress beyond the kitchen. It is not necessarily a women's job to stay home and cook clean all day. If she chooses that, fine, but to raise girls and teach them that is the only choice for their adult lives does them a grave disservice in my book. I want my girls to know that they can do whatever they want with their lives. They get to dream and choose, it is their life. My job is to help them see all the choices that are available to them, not all the doors that are shut. I wouldn't even tell them any doors are shut to them, because I think if they encounter a shut door, then they should try to open it. If we had been at that homeschooling conference, my girls would have been telling everyone it isn't fair to make the girls teach the kids while the boys rappel down the tower. We would've been the squeaky wheel, the ones changing the rules.

To tell a woman everything she may not do is to tell her what she can do.
~Spanish Proverb

I realize some women say they are happy in the roles that have been assigned to them since birth. Grow up, help mom to learn how to be a mom, get married right from daddy's house, become a mom, do unto your daughters what has been done to you. I often wonder if any of these women wake up one day and wonder what happened to their life. Or are they kept so secluded, all outside life kept at bay, no tv or controversial books, that they really live in oblivion their entire lives. How sad that seems to me. To never find yourself, to never think your life had a greater purpose than to be a pawn in someone else's game.

I'm so grateful that I had parents who taught me to think for myself, to question society and it's rules and roles and determine for myself what was ok and not ok. The older I get the more I have a better sense of who I am and what I want to be. And I plan to pass that on to my daughters.

A feminist is a woman who does not allow anyone to think in her place.

~Michele Le Doeuff~

18 June 2009

Thankfulness Thursday

There is always, always, always something to be thankful for.
~ Author Unknown~

These are things I am thankful for today:

1. The sun making an appearance.

2. Laying in the sun and reading a book while my children swim.

3. Reading a good book that makes me think.

4. People who took the time to plant flowers in their yards that I can admire.

5. Children who help clean out the dishwasher.

6. Trucks driving slowly in front of me who suddenly turn off the road and out of my way.

7. Fresh strawberries from a local farm.

8. Homemade fudge from that same farm : )

9. Birds chirping and squirrels scurrying in my backyard.

10. A husband that calls me everyday on his way home from work.

If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.
~ Rabbi Harold Kushner~

16 June 2009

Thankfulness Tuesday

A while back I started a Thankfulness Thursday posting. I probably posted for 3 or 4 Thursday's before it slipped my mind and I stopped doing it. I think it is a good habit to try and start again. I know it's only Tuesday, but I was feeling thankful about some things today and thought I would get a head start on Thursday.

My day started well enough, the sun was out and my daughters and I had planned on going to the pool. It opens at 11am. It was sunny at 9:30am. As it got closer to 11 it got cloudier and cloudier, but the girls still wanted to go. So off to the pool we went. It was freezing. I guess the water was warm, but the air was not. I huddled under a beach towel and tried to read a book while my girls swam about in the pool. Then it began to rain. They were already in the pool, already wet, so they just stayed in. I moved my chair to a building overhang so I could keep my book dry and yet still see my girls. My good mood from earlier in the day was slowly leaving.

After the girls were tired of the pool I dropped them off at home and left for the grocery store. I like to grocery shop, I know some hate it, but I find it to be pretty relaxing wandering around a grocery store. On my way home I saw "the homeless guy". We have a guy in our town who is obviously homeless and he just walks around town all day. I started seeing him over a year ago, and now I am seeing him again. We have an organization in our county that houses the homeless in churches overnight in the winter. The program only runs from October through May, which is probably why I have just begun to see this man again. He always has a fairly heavy coat on, even in the warm weather. And he has a backpack type bag that must hold his stuff. I always feel badly when I see him, but my fears (being a woman) keep me from stopping and offering any kind of help to a man. Plus, what can I offer him besides a little a money? I certainly can't offer him housing or a job. (I wrote another post about the homeless last year and covered most of this stuff in that post, if you're interested: The Homeless).

Anyway, seeing that man again today made me realize how truly thankful I am for the things I have. I have a home. Not a great home, but not a shack or a hut either. It has heat and air conditioning and a roof and furniture and tv's and kitchen appliances and a fridge full of food. I have a husband who I know cares deeply for me and his daughters. He goes to work everyday to provide for us and I am thankful for that. I have two beautiful daughters who amaze me everyday. The older they get the more I am in awe of who they are becoming. I have four furry babies that delight and irritate me at the same time, but I love having them in my home. I have a yard and a deck and a patio where I can go and sit and listen to the birds and watch the bats come out at night. I can look into the sky and see stars and contemplate the universe. I don't have any giant worries that consume me. I can sit and be at peace.

When I think about how a lot of people in the world live, I have no choice but to be thankful. It is so easy to gripe and complain everyday. I can complain about the government and bad drivers and sales clerks. Or I can look at the bigger picture and realize I have it pretty good. I have a car and can drive myself anywhere I want to go. I can wake up and take my girls to the beach or the pool. Or we can go to the library, or the grocery store. We have computers and can access all sorts of information in cyberspace. The world is at our fingertips. I live in a free land and have freedom to choose what I want to do each day and how I want to live my life.

I have realized I need to make an effort everyday to find the good in every situation. My life is not so bad, certainly not when I compare it to others. Of course there are people who it seems their lives are much better than mine, they have more money and better homes and grander lives, but comparing myself to them only hurts me. Thou shalt not covet (and all that). I need to look at what I have and be thankful for it because I really do have a lot. And I need to remember to give thanks for it everyday.

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.

14 June 2009

Customer Service

It seems customer service has gone the way of the dinosaur.

Today was my step-daughter's (Raina) bridal shower. She registered at Bed, Bath and Beyond as well as on Amazon (who knew they had a bridal registry?) Anyway, her Amazon list looked like a Christmas wish list, things like laptops and Ipods and all other manner of non-wedding type gifts. So I opted for BB & B.

Last week, one week before the shower I went into the BB & B store and asked for a print out of her registry. After it printed the sales girl said she wanted to explain to me how their registry worked. It has columns showing the item wanted by dept, gives the UPC code, tells whether it has already been purchased, and lastly whether it is available on the floor or it says "see associate". The young sales girl tells me that "see associate" means it's not on the floor, but they have it in stock in the back. So I took the print out home (it was 13 pages) to read over and discuss with my husband which gift we should buy his daughter. We narrowed it down to a very nice toaster oven or some of her dish place settings. But I decided we should wait a week and see what everyone else got her and then go in and get something not yet chosen. So we waited until last evening, the day before the shower. (Stupid me!)

We arrive at our local BB & B around 6pm last night. We'd had a busy day, otherwise we would have gone earlier. I go back up to the service desk for a new print out of the registry so we can see what may have been purchased in the last week. Again, as I am being handed the print out the young sales girl tells me that "see associate" means they probably have it in the back, so if we want something that says "see associate" just find one of them.

(disclaimer: I say "young" sales girls because they were young. And clueless! Not that young necessarily means clueless, but in this instance it applies!)

As I look over the list I realize very little of what Raina wants is "available", most of it says "see associate". So I find one of these "associates" a male this time. I tell him I would like him to get this specific toaster oven out of the back. He tells me they do not have this toaster oven in the back. He then proceeds to tell me that they don't have anything in stock that says "see associate". What? I tell him that the chicks up front told me that "see associate" means that if I see one of you, you will get the item for me. "Yea" he says "I don't know why they tell people that, they know we don't have those items. WTF!?!?!?!?!!?!?

So I march back up front to the young women who are apparently running things (poorly) and I say "Why did you just tell me that "see associate" means you have the items in the back when you don't?" "Well," she says, "We do have the item, we just have to order it for you". Hello? Did I just enter the twilight zone? Am I being punk'd? Do we not understand the difference between telling someone you have something in the back of the store or ordering something from somewhere else? So I lost it. Yes there were other customers around as my voice got louder and I said "My step-daughters shower is tomorrow. I waited because last week when I was in here one of your "associates" told me that you had this stuff in the back, that not everything listed was on the sales floor. When I got here 15 mins ago again I was told that "see associate" meant you would get something from the back, why in the world are you telling people that instead of telling them you need to order this stuff?" "Well, we do have the items, we just need to order them for you". What are these chicks, robots? Stepford wives? Sales "associates" from hell? Am I speaking French? Do they not understand what I am saying?

So I tell the sales girls (there are two now at the desk) "If you had told me last week that I needed to order the "see associate" items, I would have ordered them last week. The shower is TOMORROW! I can't order them now!" One of the girls then proceeds to tell me "Well I can call another store and see if you can pick it up there". Yes, it is now 6:30 on a Saturday night, I have been running around all day, and I really want to drive all over northern IL looking for a toaster oven. So she proceeds to get on the computer to look up the toaster oven. "It seems that we don't carry the toaster oven in any of our stores, it's an order only item". If I'd had a gun I just might have shot myself. Hello! Why not just print that on the registry sheet? This item must be ordered. How hard would it be to print that on the sheet? Who runs this place, smurfs? So obviously there is no way I am getting the toaster oven by tomorrow. So then she checks on her dishes. Seems the closest store is Downers Grove, a good hour away. I'm just not up for it at this point. I tell the sales girl I have no idea what we are going to do now, I am going to find my husband (who smartly hid away in the store while I stormed the service desk.)

So after realizing that there aren't' any "good" gifts we can get Raina, all the cool stuff like her dishes, her silverware, her glassware, the toaster oven I really wanted to get her, all have to be ordered or are in other stores, we opt to buy all her little stuff. Dish towels, flexible cutting mats, glass measuring cups, acrylic canisters, etc. We pretty much bought her all of her kitchen basics, the $3-10 stuff. And we bought $125 worth of piddly shit. 2 big boxes and and one gift bag full of little kitchen stuff. Not what I wanted to buy her, but what could I do? I didn't want to get her a gift card, I wanted her to have stuff to open. I didn't even really want to give BB & B my money after all that, but I had to get her a present.

After collecting all the little stuff for Raina's gift I had to go back up to the service desk to pay and so they could wrap it. Free service I was definitely going to take advantage of at this point. I again say to the girl while up there "I still don't understand why you just don't tell people up front that the "see associate" items have to be ordered. Why don't you tell people that?" "We aren't supposed to" she says. "Why not" (why the HELL NOT I wanted to say) "I'm not sure" she says. OMG! Here are people who don't know how to think. If you get hired for a job and someone tells you to tell people something that isn't true, wouldn't you question it? Is it some corporate policy to get people in the store and stuck like I was, and force them to buy things they don't want? I still would have bought stuff with them had I known I needed to order ahead of time. They didn't have to force me into buying a bunch of crap.

The shower itself was very nice btw. But it was interesting when I spoke with a few of Raina's friends, they too had problems with BB & B and the "see associate" listing on the registry. Many of her friends also tried to get items a few days in advance of the shower only to also discover the item or items they wanted weren't in stock but needed to be ordered. Raina herself told us she chose her registry items online. She never went into a store and picked out items. So she had no idea that most of her choices weren't available in the BB & B stores. If only the registry had told all of us "this item needs to be ordered" instead of "see associate" how much simpler and more pleasant our shopping experiences would have been.

In the end all BB & B has done is make me not want to shop there again. And I am also sending a letter to corporate to ask what the heck is going on with the registry. How about a little truth in advertising? If the item isn't in the damn store, tell us the item isn't in the damn store.

I think in the future I'll just sick with cash!

Unconscious Mutterings

I haven't muttered in a while. I haven't blogged in a while. Just too busy or tired lately. Hopefully soon summer will actually arrive in my little corner of Illinois and all that Vitamin D will cheer me right up. In the meantime, a little late night muttering:

  1. Nudity :: Random

  2. Domestic :: Tranquility

  3. Burp :: never in public

  4. Baby :: Hit me baby one more time!

  5. Dateline :: NBC

  6. Retract :: That statement!

  7. Suppose :: I suppose ............

  8. Surreal :: Life is sometimes, isn't it?

  9. Infidelity :: I don't think my marriage would survive it

  10. Token :: of my appreciation
Ok, another boring muttering. Art imitates life ; )

Want to see if you mutter boringly?

08 June 2009

More on Death

This time of year tends to keep me focused on death. The anniversary of my dad's death was just a week ago, and the anniversary of my mom's death is on June 13th.

While thinking about my dad in the last week, I remembered some of the things that happened after his death, things that would bring him to mind and make me wonder whether or not the dead can actually try to communicate with the living. I know this goes against every single thing a "Christian" believes, but these things really happened and I have believed them to be a sign from my dad, a sign letting me know he was ok, and that I would see him again one day.

When my dad died I had a 3 year old and a 1 year old. We still did the family bed at our house, so I would go to bed with my girls and we all watched a bedtime video while they drifted off to sleep. One night about a week after getting back from Florida (and my dad's funeral) I was thinking about him while laying in bed watching a video with my girls. Just then the tv turned off. No reason, it just turned off. I was able to hit power on the remote and it turned right back on. The same thing happened on two other occasions over the next few weeks while I was thinking about my dad. In all 3 instances, nothing was wrong with the tv, no one sat on the remote, the tv just turned off. Now that may seem like nothing, but at the time, I truly felt like my dad was there, that he knew I was thinking about him and worried about him and it was his way of making his presence known. I felt oddly at peace after those episodes.

In October of the year my dad died ( he died May 31), I was still going to the Catholic church. Every year they hold a service for those who have died that year. The service is in the evening, the lights are dimmed and there are votive candles on the altar. When they call your loved ones name, you are able to go up and light a candle for them. At the end all the candles are glowing, it is a very moving service. After I left the service that night and got back in my car, there on the floor of the passengers seat was a shark's tooth. I live in IL, no where near the ocean. My dad was an avid beachcomber of shells and sharks teeth. He had quite the collection of both at his home in Florida. I had been to Florida the previous year when he was dying, but this was 5 months after his death, and the car had been cleaned out many times since our returning from Florida. Plus I don't recall us ever bringing home any of his shark's teeth. But here was one, right in the middle of the floor mat in the front seat of my car. Right after a very moving service of remembrance for my dad. To me it was a sign. Another sign from him telling me he was ok, that there really is an afterlife and that I would see him again one day.

Now you might think I am crazy, you might think these things were all just weird coincidences. I suppose you could be right. But there really was no other explanation than the fact that I had been thinking about my dad at these moments. I know in my heart that somehow my dad was able to send me a message that he was ok. Or maybe it was God sending me the message. Whatever it was, it brought a sense of peace to me at a time when the world made no sense. How does one make sense of a 56 year old man having 6 months from diagnosis to death? It wasn't fair that my dad had to die so young. He had so many plans for his retirement. So much he and my mom wanted to do. My dad did everything right during his life. He worked hard, he was honest, he always did the right thing. And his reward was an early death? So it was very comforting to me to somehow get a sign from him that he was ok. And I do believe he is ok, and that my mom is now with him and I will see them both again someday.

I believe the dead send us signs after they die, we just need to look for them. I think many people never see the signs that have been given to them, signs that will bring them peace, because of some fear that it is not of God or that it just isn't real. I encourage everyone to remember to look for the signs after losing a loved one. They'll let you know they are ok, I know they will.

Death is nothing else but going home to God, the bond of love will be unbroken for all eternity.
~ Mother Teresa~