- Your Voice
At the risk of sounding like my grandfather, I have to say that I have genuine concerns about the next generation. I’m worried about the impact of constant connectivity on impressionable young minds.
Summer has officially begun. The calendar might not say so, but I know it’s true because not two days after school let out my seven-year-old son came to me and uttered those three dreaded words: “Mom, I’m bored.” My threat of additional chores to resolve the boredom was only a temporary fix; I also devised a summer bucket list. Our summer bucket list suggests 50 things to do before school resumes. I thought I’d share it here for those of you who are looking for ways to avoid hearing those same three words uttered by your own child(ren). Good luck!
Have you seen the TV show, American Dream Builders? It’s an NBC program in which several designers are assigned to a team and they compete against one another to design a house that wins the votes of a neighborhood council. I’m not sure what the big prize at the end is and I didn’t bother to look it up because the prize is not my point. I only mention the show because I want to tell you about something the host, Nate Berkus, said on an episode I watched the other night. Two things, actually. The first phrase came to pass when he walked into a newly-designed bedroom painted a drab gray color. He looked around and then said on camera to his colleagues, “This room literally bores me to tears.” Only he was wrong because, as I mentioned, he was being filmed and I can assuredly say that not a single tear rolled down his face as he spoke those words. By definition, the word ‘literally’ means to convey an actual, exact occurrence or sentiment.
On Friday, March 28, a project biologist observed a ewe with her newborn lamb This new lamb is the fourth addition to the newly reintroduced Catalina bighorn sheep population.
As a stay-home mom, my job title is sort of like an umbrella that covers several duties. I’m a chauffeur, a chef, a tutor and a nurse. An accountant. A personal shopper. Secretary. When you throw together a few duties from each of those titles, you begin to get an accurate representation of life as I know it. Often times, though, I feel as though the title ‘maid’ most accurately describes the majority of my job. Especially this time of year, when I’m busy spring cleaning. Maybe I just have dust bunnies on my mind, but today I thought I’d share a checklist for those of you who, like me, are busy polishing and shining everything in your house. It can be difficult to remember to tidy every seldom-used nook and cranny, after all, but this checklist should help you get your place cleaned up for spring in a hurry.
I had a dental cleaning appointment this morning. I considered calling in sick and putting the torture off until next week but in the end I worked up my courage and went in as scheduled. I have dental anxiety stemming from several bad root canal experiences. Every time I find myself lying supine in that chair my heart rate increases. And then the hygienist comes in and seems to mock me in the way she suits up. First she strings that mask across her face—I presume to hide the snide smile that will creep across her lips as she slowly tortures me. And then—one by one—she pulls the latex gloves on and lets them snap to spite me. I stiffen in response. The worst part is when she emerges with her tray full of sharp and shiny death tools. Oh sure, they look harmless enough beneath that flimsy sterilization sheet. But in the right hands, even that insignificant little string of floss can be wielded like a miniature machete and slice right through the tender, fleshy gum right there between my two front teeth. Believe me, I know.
Last January, I made a list of goals that I wanted to accomplish before the clock struck twelve on Dec. 31. I haven’t actually done the math, but I’m guessing that my success rate hovers somewhere between 70 and 80 percent. Not bad, but for a perfectionist like me, when I see those numbers all I really see is the 20 or 30 percent failure rate. I can’t help but want to do it differently this year so that I have a better chance of success.
It’s official: the elf is back. Yes, ours is one of those households tormented by the infamous elf on the shelf. For those of you who don’t know the premise, the elf on the shelf is a cute little stuffed elf who is reported to spy for Santa, keeping a close eye on who is naughty and who is nice. Ours happens to be a household in which Santa is known to be a fictional character, but still we enjoy the whimsy our elf, Doogan, brings to the household each year. More than just a jolly decoration that sits stagnant on the shelf, Doogan is known to move to a different spot overnight. The kids have fun seeking out his new hiding place each morning.
Every time my grandpa comes to visit, the conversation invariably leads to one particular topic: America’s moral decline. I cannot tell you how many times and in how many different ways I’ve heard his viewpoints on the subject. I have learned to recognize the cue. He’ll shake his head or roll his eyes in exasperation and then he starts in, “Back in my day...” I know to settle in for a comparison of what was acceptable in his younger years versus what passes as status quo in modern times. His memories are romanticized—a look back at yesteryear through the rosiest of lenses.
Six years ago I was on the cusp of what I considered a major bummer of a birthday. I couldn’t bring myself to call it what it was (thirty), so I adopted a catchy phrase from some Drew Barrymore movie I remembered and loudly proclaimed that I would be celebrating my twenty-ten birthday that year. I might not have been able to get around the technicality of the number itself, but I refused to say it out loud.
My husband and I celebrated an anniversary a few weeks ago. Rather than exchange gifts to mark the occasion, we decided to treat ourselves to dinner at an AAA Five-Diamond award winning restaurant. We dressed for the occasion; him in a suit and tie, me in a strapless black gown. From the moment we arrived at the restaurant, we were treated like royalty. The maître d’hôtel greeted us by name and wished us a happy anniversary. We were shown right to a lovely table and presented with personalized menus. Nearby, a harpist played elegant mood music. Everything from the lighting to the tableware to the refined décor contributed to the most opulent dining room I’ve ever experienced. And that is saying nothing of the impeccable service or extraordinary food.
Just before bedtime last night I reminded my husband that the water softener was in need of salt. Out he dutifully went, to do as I had asked. It was only moments later when I heard an echoing boom from the garage. I went to check and saw water seeping into the house. I hesitated only briefly, unsure if I really wanted to know what was happening on the other side of that door. If my husband’s safety were accounted for I might not have looked, but I had to. I opened the door to find my husband drenched by water that sprayed violent as a fire hydrant from a busted water softening unit. He fought to get a grip of a slippery valve so that he could shut the water off at the source. Unfortunately, the water kept spraying all the while. We were up late into the night, fully emptying the garage and sweeping as much water as we could out from inside. The wet/dry vac also came in quite handy.
Before moving to the desert nine years ago, my family and I lived in Colorado for a short time. Prior to that, we lived on California’s central coast and so the prospect of Colorado’s snowy winters was a novel one. Unfortunately, the icy winters I looked forward to came to be well ahead of schedule. You can imagine how a girl born and raised in California was taken quite by surprise when snowflakes began falling in October. Those snowflakes pretty much kept falling through mid-May. By then the novelty of it all had given way to frustration with the bitter cold, the constant sludgy mess and the inability to drive without sliding all over the road. Had we stayed longer, I may have gotten used to mountain life. Stranger things have happened.
When our neighbors listed their house for sale a few months ago my husband and I were admittedly a bit saddened. Not that we knew them well. We did, however, appreciate the constant presence of a Sheriff’s patrol car parked quite visibly in their driveway. I mean, in spite of the alarm company’s sign in our yard, both my husband and I feel that you never can have too much insurance. The presence (and constant threat of) law enforcement was certainly a neighborly perk.
I was sixteen when I stood at a podium before my graduating class. With a tassel dangling in my peripheral vision, I delivered a speech on dreams and the audacity to pursue them. Audacious because beneath my graduation gown was a belly bulging, ripe with a life on the verge of beginning. Ironic because some might say that by choosing to grow that life when I was but a baby myself, I was bringing my own life to a screeching halt. I suppose that I was, in some ways. But mostly, I was beginning a whole new chapter.
There were a few things we did well at the small-town central California high school I attended. For starters, we routinely whooped the pants off of the rival football team from the next town over. Our cross-country team always did well in meets. Even our band was regularly invited to march in big name parades all over the state. And while there were a number of areas in which we excelled, I’d be remiss not to point out a weakness: our district so miserably failed in meeting the needs of kids with intellectual disabilities, and in doing so, I think they failed the rest of us, too.
I’m learning French. What began innocently enough as a goal to pick up some conversational basics has evolved to an all-out obsession. I have CDs in my car that sing me through various scenes in which otherwise normal individuals break out in song (French songs, at that) about the most mundane things. It isn’t every day, after all, that full-grown men and women sing their one, two, threes. Picture Big Bird wearing a beret and you can get an idea of what it sounds like.
My family has this non-negotiable Christmas tradition. Many of them, actually, but this one in particular sets the story. Every year, we clear our respective schedules and gather ‘round the Christmas tree on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. We blast our Christmas playlist as—one by one—we hang ornaments from the boughs of our tree. The kids and I absolutely love the tradition because it gives us a chance to reminisce over Christmases past as we unwrap layer after layer of bubble wrap to uncover a pajama-clad Santa or a sparkly twirling ballerina or even a fragile depiction of the White House that we picked up the year we visited Washington D.C. My husband is not quite as fond of decorating the tree, seeing as he is responsible for overseeing the little kids as they attempt to hang our very breakable glass ornaments from boughs high and low. I know he stresses out about it, but it gets easier as the years go on. In fact, this year I was the only one to break an ornament. There’s more to it than the Tannenbaum, though; our traditional tree decorating night wouldn’t be complete without steaming mugs of hot chocolate. This single tradition is the one that officially kicks off our holiday season, but it’s far from the only one we adhere to.
Now that we’ve officially entered the holiday season, there are sure to be countless invitations to holiday gatherings piling up in your mailbox (or email inbox, perhaps). Maybe you’re even throwing a get-together of your own. If so, you’ll want to continue reading. Today, I’m offering five suggestions for gatherings that go beyond the average, ordinary dinner party and take it up a notch, to bring friends and loved ones together in a fun and unique way.
Of all the seasons, fall is my absolute favorite. Not only does it usher in fresh, crisp air and football (Go Cardinals!) but so, too, does it offer the opportunity to try flavorful pumpkin recipes and cozy casseroles. Those things alone set the season apart, but I like to take it a step further. A couple of years ago I scoured the craft stores in late September. I was on a mission to add a touch of fall décor to my home and I was prepared to consider my shopping splurge an investment. To my surprise and delight, though, I found that many retailers were clearing out their harvest decorations to make way for aisle after aisle of Christmas goodies. I was able to pick up quite a haul at a fraction of the retail price. And then, to fill in the gaps, I searched my own home and neighborhood for items to finish the look. Today, I’m sharing some ideas for inexpensive and festive fall décor with you.
My husband and I are very much one of those “opposites attract” kind of couples. It’s apparent in many ways, but none more so than our opinions of air travel. Whereas he appreciates the hands-off approach to letting someone else do the navigating, I’d much rather go by car and retain the ability to stop when and where I want to.
Last week I was at Costco for my weekly grocery shopping trip. Just as I was wrestling the last of my items - a ginormous honeydew melon - onto the conveyer belt for checkout, I heard the cashier question my purchases, “is all of that stuff for a birthday party?” I looked up to find that he wasn’t actually talking to me. The lady behind me had a cart full of convenience foods: Rice Krispy Treats, juice boxes and enough sugary fruit snacks to send a bear into hyperglycemic shock.
“Project X” claimed second-place at the box office over the weekend, grossing $20.7 million.