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Monday, December 17, 2012

I Was Too Desensitized.

On Friday I wrote a silly blog about Elf on the Shelf and subsequently spent the next few hours stalking Facebook to see if anyone commented on my little blog. In one of my Facebook-stalks I saw a headline something to the effect of “Shooter 20 year old with ties…” I did not click the link. I thought briefly about the headline and thought that it had something to do with some shooting from earlier in the week. Some shooting I can’t even remember the details of. 

It wasn't until I saw the deluge of posts about children that I thought of clicking that news article. But even as I moused-over the headline, I didn't think much of it. The word “shooter” didn't even register an emotional response from me. I am that desensitized to the news of violence that the words didn't even bother me. 

It makes me sick. It is a shame that we live in such a media-hyped-up violent world that it takes the brutal death of 20 small children to register on our hearts and in our minds. But how soon before we forget? How soon before I am again desensitized?

I put my kids on the bus this morning, turned around and looked at the path of destruction they left and thanked God for it all because if I didn't have them making the same messes every single day then I would have nothing. 

If I didn't have them and their messes, I would have nothing. 

I can’t imagine what those mothers are going through today as they realize, through their unimaginable fog of grief, that it is Monday and their children should be going to school leaving behind unmade beds, piles of dirty clothes and every light on in the house.

As I walk around my house today turning off the lights, I will remember the children whose lights will never be left on again.

Let us never forget. Every time we turn off lights behind our children let’s not forget those children whose lights are off permanently. Let’s not forget those children that witnessed this horrible violence; those children who won’t let their mothers turn off the lights for dread of the dark.

Let us never be desensitized to this violence.

Friday, December 14, 2012

I am weak.

I have several blog articles in the works including one on my anticlimactic visit to the dermatologist but I had to leave them unfinished to write today’s article.

I must confess something: I am weak; I have no convictions, no back bone. Oh, I talk a good game – I can rant, I can rave – but when it comes down to it I am easily influenced.

Case in point, guess what appeared in my house this morning….

For those of you that don’t have children or are somehow able to keep outside influences away from your household, let me tell you about the “Elf on the Shelf.” The Elf magically appears in your house at Christmastime (or can be seen at Target for $29.95). He or she sits in conspicuous places and watches your children’s behavior by day then at night she flies home to Santa to give a report. The next morning your children wake up early and run around the house looking for the new place the elf has chosen to hide. Over-achieving elves find humorous and sometimes theatrical places to hide. They may also write your children a cute little note. 

I have resisted this new craze. I have stomped my foot. I have been heard to exclaim, “I’m not getting one of those flipping elves!” But, like I said, I am weak. 

My eldest has decided that we must be too well-behaved to have an elf and promptly behaved even naughtier. My middle child beams whenever he has reported the goings-on of his classroom elf.  My littlest one has managed to slip the words “elf on the shelf” into conversation whenever he can. 

I tried to tell the kids that maybe we've had one all along but we just haven’t seen him. That didn't fly. So, finally, I told my son that I would talk to Santa and ask him to send us one. I thought this bought us some time. After all, Santa is busy and we may have to wait until next year.  But, I went to Target yesterday….

This morning my little guy came running up to me with the biggest, dimpliest, only-to-be-matched-on-Christmas-morning grin squealing, “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Look we DO have an elf on the shelf! I have to tell Justin!” 

Yes, I am weak but it was so worth it.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wasting Time?

I haven’t done much writing in the last few weeks but, no worries, I've had lots of excuses. There was an extra week of Halloween to prepare for then we had to quickly turn around and prepare for Thanksgiving. We hosted several events at our house over the last few weeks – so lots of pre and post party clean up. I've had to be at the school for various functions for my preschooler, kindergartner, and second grader. And there were kids birthday parties to buy presents for and to attend. There was the perpetual cycle of laundry, and grocery shopping, and cooking meals, and doing dishes. Now, of course, there’s the Christmas decorating and shopping and cooking. It just all seems so mundane sometimes, like a big waste of time.

I can’t help but feel like I’m just spinning my wheels. We all have 168 hours per week to spend our time, how do we spend it effectively? What defines spending it effectively? If my house is clean, has my time been spent effectively? What about the reverse?

I know that many days I don’t spend my time wisely. Hence an entire blog devoted to the subject! But, really, what is spending my time wisely? If today I sit down and write for several hours while my children play with real, non-electronic, toys this is a good use of time, right? But my husband may come home to find lunch dishes still on the table, a load of laundry mildewing in the washing machine, unmade beds – you get the picture – and he certainly would not agree that my time was spent wisely today. If I was a paid writer, perhaps. Therefore, does being paid for something mean that it is not a waste of time? What if you hate your job? What if your real passion was your hobby? What if you have no passion, is your entire life a waste of time?

I know I am not the first person in the history of the modern world to ask these questions. Is even asking these questions just be a big waste of time? Love to hear some comments on the subject!

Meanwhile, I've written a blog entry for the week. Check that off my to-do list (waste of time or not, it is done!). Now, off to clean the kitchen. Again. And, just for fun, here's a picture of the mess of a kitchen I am sitting in as I write this entry. Notice the lunch dishes still on the table at 2 pm. My three year old is making a can tower precariously close to my laptop (who is going to clean up this can tower?). A pile of papers sits on the counter behind him. Dishes are stacked next to the sink along with recycling to be taken out. Oh, but notice the count-down to Christmas chain that my daughter and I made together. Yay me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Just Need a Little Bit of Perspective

We all need a little perspective. Some of us, like me, more than others. That is one of the reasons I came up with the idea for this blog over two years ago. My idea was to make a slightly humorous, highly self-deprecating, and somewhat tongue in cheek blog about how I let all life’s little things keep me from seeing the big picture and keep me from living the life I really want to live.

I resisted actually beginning this blog because I was afraid that writing a blog such as this would be a waste of time. I want to be a fiction writer – novels, short stories, etc. - where does writing trivial essays on life fit into this goal? But the idea kept nagging me, the blog posts kept writing themselves, and people kept suggesting it. So, a few years later, here we are!

Around two weeks after my blogging debut, Hurricane Sandy came banging on our door. As the wind rattled my office windows and the rain dripped ever so slightly into my basement, I sat on my computer in my well-lit office writing a blog entry on how I scrambled to prepare for Sandy but she did very little but force my family to remain inside and spend some time together. Minutes after I posted my entry, our electricity went out for a few hours.  This was the extent of our damage.

While I was cuddling up with the kids on the sleep sofa, families north of us were losing their homes to wind, fallen trees, floods and fire. While my husband and I worried about a trickle of rain coming in our house, my beloved Jersey shore was under water.  While people in Sea Isle City are renovating their first floors, people in Sea Side Heights are rebuilding homes. While people down the shore are evaluating the damage to their vacation homes, people outside New York City lost everything – everything they've ever had, gone. While people are taking stock of all the processions they lost, some people have lost their lives. It is all about perspective.

I had another momentarily lapse in perspective just a few short days later on Wednesday, October 31st. Our town had already decided to post-pone Halloween to Saturday, a decision both the kids and I were happy with. While I was busy planning a fun-filled Saturday Halloween, Governor Christie mandated that the entire state of New Jersey post-pone Halloween until Monday. I didn’t even know a Governor COULD or WOULD do that? Didn’t he trust the municipalities to make that decision? And on and on I ranted to my kids (who could have cared less), to my family on the phone, to my friends through email, and on Facebook. Big mistake! Immediately, I was put in my place and rightly so because, after all, does it really matter when Halloween is? 

People lost everything. Some New Jersey towns still couldn’t Trick or Treat come Monday. Some Trick or Treated this past weekend. Some will not be Trick or Treating at all this year. Furthermore, what about the people that struggle every year on Halloween – struggle to find the extra money for costumes and candy?  All I can do is be grateful for what I have, pray for those that struggle, and offer assistance wherever I can. And always try to remember to keep things in perspective.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Blame It on the Weather

Let’s start out with a confession. I really wanted to title this blog “Blame It on the Rain!” but since this is only my second blog post I didn't want to go there.  And, also, the beginning of the week had such nice weather to blame I didn't want to only blame the rain!

The week did start out beautiful. So many ways to get distracted! Tuesday I chaperoned my son’s Kindergarten field trip to the apple farm instead of writing.  Then the boys and I followed it up with a hike through the woods to find our first geo-cache. By the time we got home the day was wasting away and no chores were done. Wednesday’s distractions included a dog walk and bike ride. Thursday was a blur of activity although I think I did manage to sit for about an hour and a half and write a new story (which is NOT what I should have been doing with my writing time given the number of almost-finished stories I have!).  Friday was my husband’s birthday but the poor guy had to wake me up in the morning asking if he had any clean underwear. Oops. Then, after work, he was greeted with a counter full of dirty dishes and a forced birthday dinner out because there were no groceries. Double oops.

This meant that Saturday I had to find time between competition cheer practice, a football game, and a soccer tournament to get groceries both to stock up for the week and for the storm. I did have a plan, though. I carefully perused the circular, clipped my coupons, made my list and shopped online scheduling pick-up for after soccer. Silly me. First, the store called me to tell me that all pick-ups were delayed at least 30 to 60 minutes because of the volume of orders. Then, around the time of my new estimated pick-up time they called to inform me of all the things they DIDN'T have like water, soup, and D batteries. Needless to say Saturday dinner had to be eaten out as well (but not at the soccer tournament because they ran out of food!).

After church Sunday and into Monday storm prepping for me meant doing dishes, laundry, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, cooking and any other chore I could think of before the inevitable power outage. I even baked. Twice.  In between all my chores we were able to get in a lot of family time which was worth all the storm-prepping hassle – we played games, read books, and watched old movies. The kids even helped me bake. Twice.

I look forward to more family-time tomorrow. Bring on the rain and the wind! (Easy for me to say, I still have power. Tomorrow I could be singing a different song!)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Excuse Me!

I recently had a melanoma scare (in my head). And, quite frankly, melanoma still hasn’t been ruled out since I have yet to see the doctor (no time). During this frightening half hour I came to the realization that I could die soon. A trip to the doctor for an atypical mole that turns out to be melanoma that has spread to the lungs (my college friends KNEW I’d die of lung cancer!).

You are supposed to laugh. But, while you’re laughing I am defending myself saying “It happens!” Bob Marley died at the age of 36 of melanoma that spread to his brain. Who knew? And - are you kidding me? 36! Look at his legacy! I’m 36! What is my legacy? Sure, I have 3 kids. But what am I teaching them? To say please and thank you (some of the time); to look both ways when you cross the street (1/2 the time); to cover your mouth when you sneeze (most of the time); to wash your hands (almost all the time)?

If I go to the doctor next month and am told I have melanoma that has spread and I’m going to die in 1 year, what would great wisdoms would I want to teach my children before I go? What will they remember of me (that I yelled all the time? That I spent too much time on the computer?)?

As a wannabe writer - what do I have to show the world when I’m gone? A bunch of crappy ½ written stories and novels that my sisters (probably not my husband) will read as they throw them in the recycling bin? And, if I had 1 year to live would I spend that time writing the great American novel? Doubtful. Why? I really don’t even know – I have hundreds of excuses. I’m sure I’ve got at least one excuse each day!

You know what, though, I don’t think I’m much different than anyone in America. No different than you reading this blog (shouldn’t you be doing dishes?). Are these excuses keeping us from living a fulfilled life? (Who really cares about those dishes in the sink anyways?) Are excuses keeping us from achieving the American dream? What is that dream these days? And, does it even matter if we are happy with our excuses?

                There you have it the birth of my blog, 365 Excuses. One woman’s reasons why I may or may not be living a fulfilled life. Excuses for why I may or may not ever be a published writer. Excuses for why I have a sink full of dishes, a sticky kitchen floor, and 3 laundry baskets of clean unfolded laundry. While we are at it – the excuse for why there is cereal on the floor (my 6 year old had to get his own breakfast because Mommy was writing her blog).

                While we are being honest, it will be more like “52 Excuses.”

                Hope you enjoy!