Sunday, November 30, 2008

Debbie Downer

This is a total "Debbie Downer" post. She is the person who is always negative, or has a way of depressing the room. So...this is me, I am not as chipper tonight.
I think that Black Friday only escalates my frustration with the commercialized part of the holidays. I will admit, I also think that the Christmas parties this time of year also effect my poor attitude. For some reason, it seems like getting together with family in the summer does not bring near the emotions. In my last post I stated the joy I find this time of year, appreciating our doesn't seem to pertain to extended family.
Maybe it's that our immediate family knows us better, and has an obligation to love us. Extended family is just there to piss us off and hurt our feelings. At a time when I should feel more jolly and joyful, I must admit this part of the holidays is not my favorite. Mike without his parents and me with just a Mother, those really large family gatherings...they really suck! It's as if there is a missing link in the chain of a family. Nothing to connect us to the older generation. In my case, there is just quite frankly a lack of connections. Maybe a pretend or fake link between us, which can't hold the pressure of too many of us in the same place at the same time.
Mike and I come from such different families it is unbelievable. Mike's family are what you would call "good ol' boys". Hard working families who enjoy hunting and getting their hand dirty. Tough rugged men who talk shop and dirt bikes. (I know that these statements are very stereotypical...but it is where we came from, and it shows how different people can be.) My family is more of what you might call "Yuppies". If you don't have a college degree, don't bother opening your mouth. If you're a male over 30 and don't have your Masters or PhD , you will be in the minority, but they will still be nice to you. You better have received at least one of your degrees from BYU, and your calling in the church determines your importance in this life. Your job description is crucial and your salary is common knowledge and openly discussed. (and if you are asked your should not hesitate, your salary gives others an opinion of where you are in life) Basically, you would find Mike's entire family planning a vacation to a 'Gun and Knife' show. While you would find my family on their Blackberry's and iPhones trying to fit something into their work schedule, which only proves how busy they are because of how important they are.
I am a person who hates being lumped into a category, and these are the extremes, but these our the lumps we belong to. (our lovely lady lumps, hee hee)
I had a wonderful discussion with my Therapist regarding family situations which seemed to be making me miserable. He put it best, but in summary...Some relationships are toxic. And I'm sure I am toxic to members of my family. (In fact I know I am) But we can't change the fact that some people are toxic, we can just protect ourselves from letting it make us sick. Learn how to be around them without getting 'infected'. Love them from a place where you don't expect love in return. Be content in knowing things may never change. As harsh as it is seems to admit, some of my family is toxic to me.
I had one particular toxic situation this year that made me a bit ill. I knew better, and should have expected it, but I guess I set myself up. Mike, being the talk radio fan that he is, heard some advise on families at Thanksgiving. One part said that family hierarchies remain in tact, and always will. matter how old you are, to some will always be that snot-nosed-brat who peed her pants at Disneyland. I am on the edge of 30, mother of four, and have been married now for more than 10 years. I expect to be treated like an adult, and when I am not it gets me fired up. I think I qualify to be in adult conversations and advance from the 'kiddie table' so to speak.
There is major fight for my Grandparents time and attention. If you step over the limits, you better believe you will be told. It is a race to the top, clawing, scratching, biting our way to victory. The allotted time is set up by generation, age within the generation, where you live, how many children you have, and even your gender. It is apparent that some people believe that my Grandparents only have a certain amount of love to give. You must fight and earn your share of it. When that love runs out...oh, wait! has yet to run out? It's funny the way love works, there is always plenty to go around. Especially a Grandparents love. They seem to have so much love they can't contain it! My extended family does not seem to understand that concept.
Mike and I were 'put in our place' for being there recently during a football game. I was even told "Well, you had your it's our turn next year." Are we scheduling out time a year in advance now? Come on!
I have family members who put themselves so far above the rest of us, that to even attempt to engage in conversation with them is an insult. Especially for me, because I am a child...on a lower level to begin with. To come down and mingle with us 'commoners', is quite a sacrifice for them and a privilege to the rest of us. You know the type, they are the experts on any topic, in any area, and there opinions are always right, constantly reminding you why they are better then you and how little you know about things. Mike and I were both (within minutes of each other) made to feel stupid for even opening our mouths. It went as far as to say I was verbally attacked for doing nothing but trying to be generous. Seriously, what do I think I adult? Geez, what was I thinking. I don't have a college degree...heaven forbid, I am even below that...I went to hair school! That's what stupid girls do because they aren't smart enough to go to college. Not only that, but I had better plan on bringing my scissors to family reunions, because I will have the glorious opportunity to give all my highly educated family members haircuts! FOR FREE! (deep breath...deep breath...)
When did making someone feel inadequate become such an accepted part of socializing? And maybe I'm fooling myself. Maybe I do the same to others without even realizing it. Mike said that listening to a discussion with my family sounds more like a heated competition or debate rather than a friendly chat. Like we all have something to prove, and we are making a case for ourselves. A verbal war, defending our opinions and standing up for ourselves. While the quieter or more reserved family members sit as spectators...carefully listening and mentally preparing to choose a side if so asked. The funny thing is, I am so guilty. Right there with the best of them. I find myself talking in a way I don't usually talk. Arguing about things that shouldn't matter...and in any other situation wouldn't. And when the discussion has finally ended...I feel exhausted! As if I have gone into a battle, not fighting, but trying to not to fight. It is strange. I am tense, my heart is beating faster than usual, I realize muscles in my hands have been clenched for 30 to 40 minutes.
Needless to say, we had to conclude that in upcoming years, limited time with certain people is best. If you place yourself in a toxic situation, you are bound to get sick.
Mike is in a similar situation, but the attacks are not so forward. While my family is outright mean to your face, his family is nicer to your face. It is more what's said after you leave the room, or the eyes you can feel burning holes in the back of your head. Every year we show up and recite how many kids we have, their names, what Mike does for a living, etc. It feels as if we are meeting for the first time, and yet we gather like this at least 3 or 4 times a year. It's no different than a room full of strangers. Only we are frowned upon for not "picking up the slack" when Mike parents passed away. Forget that Mike's and his siblings are young adults trying to establish families of their own...The year after Mike's Dad died, it was his year to have planned the reunion. Well, boy did we drop the ball when we said we couldn't do it! Silly us, I guess we thought they might not expect us plan such an event. At that point we were working to not have our own families fall apart. A few Christmases ago, my sister-in-law and I were blamed for the breakdown of family traditions, and I'm not sure we will ever be forgiven for what we didn't say or do. We try and find the family members who know us, but always end up sitting with Mike's siblings and enjoy the fact that if nothing else, this event facilitates a great opportunity to spend time as immediate family members. Oh heaven help us...
Friday night, my wonderful grandparents bought the entire extended family tickets to Hale Center Theatre. We saw 'The Christmas Carol' and sadly, Mike and I walked away feeling a bit like Scrooge. Then Mike was asked to speak in church today. It is obvious that the Lord is trying to help us. Giving us the experiences we need to change our ways. (and my attitude)
I am making a commitment to find the joy in our many family gatherings. To keep my spirits up, regardless of others. I love the reason we celebrate this blessed day in December, and I am grateful for the opportunity to celebrate giving thanks each November. I realize we are placed in families on this earth for's not by accident. I need to do a better job of loving ALL of my family, even those who hurt me. Considering the situation they might be in, and be compassionate to why they feel certain things. I have to be careful not to eat my emotions, which has taken me 14 weeks to control, and only one family party to ruin. And visit my therapist twice a week until New Years, seriously!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

An Old Lady's Gobble, Gobble!

The last week has been so busy and so full of things I need to jot down. I have some work ahead of me...I know life will only get busier over the next few weeks so I am giving brief overviews to go back and update later.

Last week I went to the much anticipated, much talked about, much obsessed over midnight premier of TWILIGHT! I can't wait for my girls to someday read these books, and I will feel like such a celebrity to recall my experiences and feelings on these novels. (Not really! But I do remember when my Mom gave me two books to read...Charlie and Little Women. Two great books!)
I could go into detail about my feelings on the movie. I have heard so many different opinions about it I don't have any desire to even bring it up. It's like when the third book was released all over again.
It was a great topic at Thanksgiving. An aunt of mine was on a MAJOR Twilight rampage. I was warned by my Mom beforehand not to bring it up...and although I wanted nothing more than to disagree with her to her face...I opted to stay hush-hush.
The best part of the Twilight premier for me, was the 'girls night' with some new friends. It was a group of women I have not socialized with before. (not outside church...where everyone is friends) We went to dinner, and visited about a range of different things, from 'time share' presentations to childbirth. It sounds strange, but it was really great!
Quite frankly, it could have been any movie, I had a great time. I will confess that the "Ooo's and Ahh's" in the theatre made me laugh...out loud. And there was a time when I forgot if I was watching a movie, or Days of our Lives.
All considered, it was a good chick flick. I had a wonderful time, and I am thankful for the girls I went with!

Thanksgiving was at my house. We had it here two years ago, so I was prepared. Two years ago I had some stress realizing the not only did I not have enough seating, but I didn't have real silverware. This year was much better, and went much smoother.
I made twenty pounds of mashed potatoes. Yep...that would be only one example of how I handle parties at my house. I'm not a low key type, and I firmly believe that there is never too much food. I would rather throw away food after the fact, than worry I might run out. So we had enough potatoes to feed the entire neighborhood. I go way overboard, and I can admit it.
Everyone went home with enough food for the next week, and I was happy to give it all away.
Mike's family was wonderful. I called our Thanksgiving the 'Island of Misfit Toys'. Along with Mike's family, we had one of my sisters, a friend from Africa, and almost a last minute friend of my sister-in-laws. We enjoyed the time together, and the kids loved playing all day. It does feel fun that we are all between our late twenty's or late thirty's. There's no 'head' of the family. There's not hundreds of cousins or family member's names you can't remember. It feels more like a party with great food.
Mike's Mom passed away on Thanksgiving 2001. So the holiday holds additional meaning for us. A family without parents feels a bit different, but as time passes, we become more accustom to the dynamics. We grow closer and understand each other better. I have felt a bit on the outside of Mike's family for a long time, so maybe I'm just speaking for myself. Mike's siblings are closer, for some reason Mike and I have felt we needed to depend more on one another, rather than rely on family and friends. I think it stems from losing loved ones, and having different relationships with our families. At different times we have both felt alone, and had to grow some thick skin to survive in life. Mike's common phrase is "If you have a problem with me or my can go"...and I don't need to finish that one. Thanksgiving and Christmas is a good time for us to really appreciate our families, and try to be better at loving and letting others love us.

I got to out with a girlfriend of mine last night. It was her birthday, and it was the big 30. She is single, going to school, working, etc. and although we still are a lot alike, we are very different.
We met in Jr. High. She was a very good student, student council member, and what you would call 'goodie two shoes'. She was the most naive and sweetest person I'd ever known. For example...
Our coach had to give us a scolding during our Sophomore season. We not only won every game that season, but we won by a good margin. Our practices turned into tugging each others shorts down at the free throw line, and learning better 'bump and grind' moves to our Salt-n-Pepa warm-up songs, even Grease moves on defense. We were told that we had to keep our grades above a 2.0 and we wouldn't be able to play in the game with visible "hickies" on our body. (Hmmm...classy, I know...this just goes to show what a diverse group of girls we were!) My dear friend raised her hand to ask "Well, can you just wash it off before the game?" Even our coach had to laugh on that one. We sang songs for the boys we were in love with, which nobody ever knew. We would sit on the bus and practice kissing with our vanilla ice cream cones. (I'm sure that's too much information) Oh how I love her! And how in the world we were best friends that year I will never know! But my memories of her are some of the best times ever. I ended up moving a few months later. We went our separate ways and lost contact.
As fate would have it, a phone call from another friend of ours got us back together. She went through some hard times, very similar to the hard times I went through as a teenager. Our friendship grew on another level, in ways I knew connected us forever. She is so dear to me, and I love her.
Last night we went to dinner and a movie. I was driving her back to her apartment, for me the night was over. I looked at the clock and it was 9:30pm. Then it dawns on me that I am an old hag! Here I am, on a Saturday night, and 9:30 is all I have in me? I said "So...I can't take you home at 9:30 on your Birthday...what should we do? where should we go?" I think she thought I was a bit crazy, and I could tell she was looking at me like I look at my Mother when she tries to be cool.
She then tells me that she doesn't really do much, and Country Dancing is about the most exciting it gets for her. I know that she is a really good country dancer, and I said "Let's go! Let's go Country Dancing!" She said "Really?" "Sure! Why not!" I said. She is laughing at me and I'm not sure she believed me.
So, in my smokin' hot, super stellar mini-van, we go to this Dance place on BYU campus.
Now let me just tell you...there is a lot of explaining to this situation. To begin with...I do not listen to Country music, I've never been a fan. Every Country song is about a truck, a girl/guy leaving, or a dog. I've just never liked it.
I have never country danced. Not my thing, but very entertaining.
Also, I would not dream of going dancing without Mike. I am quite friendly, but not that friendly! No worries! I am content with my life and don't have any desire to pretend otherwise.
But I figured it is her Birthday, and if the tables were turned, what would I want to do on my Birthday if I were single?
So there I this place. If you ever want to feel old, just go to a college campus and look around. I felt like I was a room mother at a High School. You know how all-of-a-sudden the College Cheerleaders look 12, yep...they all looked 12. Maybe 14.
I was watching her have a good time. She would sit with me, then get asked to dance almost every song. She said "I'm sorry! You are just sitting here...we can go if you want." To which I said "This is better than what's on my TiVo, it's not like I'm missing some great, it's fun to watch this kind of dancing!"
She tried to teach me some line dances...I sucked! I was even asked to dance. Hilarious! I said that I wasn't feeling good, and it's not like I was just saying 'No' to certain people...I was not dancing, that was obvious.
I did however feel bad saying 'No'. I felt bad for the guys. I would hate to be a guy, and have to ask girls to dance...with that fear of rejection. I have never been on the rejecting side...I was always the one rejected. It brought back so many memories. Starting with my Ninth Grade Night Dance, which was the first dance I ever attended...and darn near the last one!

In High School, I moved to California. I spent Thanksgiving with some family friends in Mission Viejo. It was fun, and the only time I had Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant. Over the weekend that I was there, I got to hang out with a guy friend who I really admired. His family was perfect, his friends were great, everything I didn't have at the time. Anyways...we went to a church dance, they were a big deal there. The dance was in Irvine, and there were a ton of people. I had gotten to know this group of boys. We played basketball, went to the beach, even took a trip to Tijuana. (To by butterfly knives, yes...I was a smart one. They put the knives on me because I was less likely to be searched coming back over the border. smart!)
At this dance in Irvine, I was having a good time. I mustered up the courage to ask a boy to dance. I had NEVER done that, but it seemed safe enough. He totally turned me down, hard! Just looked at me and said "" It was as good as a kick in the stomach. I never forgot that feeling. I ran into him about five years ago. I had heard shortly after High School that he came to BYU or UVSC on a wrestling scholarship or something like that. It was weird...I'm sure he would never even remember who I was, let alone that dance.
Sadly, I never could ever bring myself to ask a guy to a 'girls choice' dance. I even really struggled accepting an invitation from a guy to a dance. I only went to three dances in High School, and each one made me feel nervous and scared. I was very stand-off-ish, and came up with any excuse not to go or get close to that person. I always felt bad for the poor guy who was stuck with me for an entire evening...I was a loser, damaged goods. I had so many issues at that point I could write a book about it! It was sad that it affected me, but I let it. Sad!

So this night redeemed my thoughts on dancing and socializing in that aspect. She was, and still is, an example of innocence and carefree fun. It was a fun night, thankfully she had fun. She knew almost half of the people there. The guy who she said had never and would never ask her to dance...did! She is a great dancer, and that kind of dancing is more of an acrobatic sport. It was fun to watch. Mike laughed at me, and said "you still got it babe!" I just felt bad for having to say 'no'...but not that bad! It would probably make them feel worse to know they had asked a 29 year-old, married, mother of 4 to dance...what category of rejection is that in?! Too funny!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Enjoying the Moment

Mike and I went on our first date in a while on Saturday night. Since our trip this past summer, we haven't felt we needed dates for a bit. (maybe we had enough of each other to last a few months)
On our date, we started talking about where we are in our lives, and the different parts we have gone through. Even more scary...the parts that will come. (4 teenage daughters)

I will be turning 30 next year...and honestly...29 is for some reason really hard on me. I feel a constant reminder that I'm "almost 30". On the other hand, I have been married for more than 10 years now, and had my last baby 3 1/2 years ago. My girls are in preschool and for the first time in almost 9 years I am not changing diapers all day long, carrying around a huge diaper bag, and I even have two days a week without kids for a couple hours.

Mike has got to a comfortable place in his career. He has been graduated for 7 years and with the same company for 9 years. He made his way up the "corporate ladder" to a wrung he is enjoying. I know there is always the possibility of him returning to school for more education, or losing his job, but for now we are settled.

I send out a Christmas card each year, updating our friends and family with what is happening in our lives. I told Mike that "there is nothing to report again this year!" For so long we had family dying, babies being born, or moving to new cities to report. It feel like we are now just getting older every year.

Mike and I started talking about how great it feels to be here. We reminisced about the first INCREDIBLY hard three years. Then the next transitioning four years. We both look back and wonder how in the world we survived some of the things we went through.

For the first three years, Mike was taking 14-16 credit hours at BYU while still working 40 hours a week. I was home alone, most of the time without a car, raising babies by myself. We have a notebook we keep as a memory. I would write a note to Mike before we went to bed, telling him what we had done that day. I would tell him what dinner was, that is was "in the fridge", and instructions on how to heat it up. He would write back, telling me about his day. The next morning, he was gone before we woke up, and would leave us another note. There are page after page of notes and "I love you's". Mike was living on 4 to5 hours of sleep each day. I cannot believe the sacrifices he made for us. I don't think I appreciated it enough back then.

I also went to school and graduated, Mike lost both his parents and we had 2 more scary pregnancies, but thankfully two more beautiful girls. We moved a few times, and made good friends along the way.

We can break our lives into segments. Each one very difficult, but very rewarding. I made a ton of mistakes. There are things I should have done...and I didn't. But I can see the Lord's hand in each segment, guiding us and pushing us (or carrying us) through them.

So now here we are...we are done having kids and not planning on moving until the kids are all grown. I am looking forward to working in the next couple years. Mike feels accomplished and will hopefully continue to progress at work. It feels as if we've reached a milestone, and yet it really feels strange. I can say that 8 years ago I never thought this day would come! It seemed like worlds away. Everyone says to enjoy your children, they grow up fast. We are out of the baby stage...they are just memories.

On a personal note, I have to document another milestone. I saw a number on the scale this morning I haven't seen in a long time! I can truthfully say that those numbers are the ONLY motivation I still have. Everything inside me tells me to eat what tastes good, regardless of the consequences. I have a big "Go hard or Go home!" personality, and when I finally made the decision, I knew I couldn't go back. This has been a huge commitment, and a difficult road. Sadly enough, the road that lies ahead is even longer. But I keep reminding myself I could be sitting here in the same place I was in September. I took this picture on Saturday, of course it was the most flattering, but I thought it would be nice to document. Maybe when I reach my goal, I will feel brave enough to document a time line...scary thought.

Saturday started week 12 on my journey, or as I affectionately have named "My Hibernation Transformation". In my mind the past 12 weeks have felt like an entire year! I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that whether is week 2 or week 102, I will have to do this for the rest of my life! My sister and I ran another 5K a week ago Saturday. As I was panting like a dog, with my tongue hanging out, feeling like I'm going to kill over any second... I told my sister that I can't wait for my resurrected body...because I know it will be skinny and smokin' hot! She tried to tell me that it won't really matter, our resurrected bodies won't be fat or skinny, just perfect. I told her that was nonsense, because I'll be rockin' a flat and sexy six-pack stomach! (lucky her huh? good thing she loves me and will put up with me)

So today, I am 30 pounds closer to that amazing segment. Which will mark a time I can look back and think of my "heavier years". That segment and place which feels so incredibly far away and unattainable some days. Just as 8 years ago, this part of life seemed. 7 years ago today, I woke up with a 22 month-old and 4 month-old. I woke up without my husband and without a car. I was in 800 square feet of glass baby food jars and poopy diapers. There is a really good chance I never changed out of my pajamas and didn't take a shower. Yes, those were very different struggles than the ones I woke up with today, but I had challenges which made me wonder if THIS day would ever come. The strange thing is, there are things I miss about back then. My girls as babies, not running around in the car all day, walks to the park in my stroller. I realize there will be things I will look back at and miss about today.
I guess I see it as goes on either way. There is no changing that fact. There is always something about today that I will miss some day. But you do have control over what you are doing today, and if you are enjoying the moment and working towards a goal. So today is getting you closer to what you want in the years ahead. It will happen. It may take a long time, but it will happen.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fourth Folder, Fourth Photo

What a mouthful! I saw this and thought it was cute (thanks Stacy). This is the fourth photo in my fourth folder of pictures on my computer. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

This is Cori and Lexi holding Sophie in July 2005. This was the week after Sophie came home from the hospital. (which was one of the most horrible experiences in my life)

We were getting ready for bed...the older girls had just been bathed, lotioned, and put in pajama's. I had bathed Sophie and wrapped her up tight. She fell right asleep and so I placed her in Lexi's arms. This was taken in my bedroom in our last house. It was a strangely huge room, especially for that house. Before we bought the house I told Mike it was such a "waste of space", because it was literally the biggest room in the house! Bigger than the kitchen/dining room, family room or living room...oh how I miss that room. It quickly went from the waste of the greatest and most genius floor plan EVER! When I look at this photo I can smell the baby shampoo and lotion.

Lexi loves babies, she has such a caring and nurturing heart. I love Cori's face in the back, with her arm around Lexi. We are missing Addi...maybe Mike was still finishing her in the bath. Cori was 5, Lexi was 4, Addi was 18 months old...
I look back at it now and think "What in the world?!" 4 kids in 5 1/2 years! No wonder I'm crazy!

Ahhh...just memories now :)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

High School? Really?

For some reason I have struggled a bit this week. It was nothing specific, just a combination of things. Do you ever feel like your adult life is mimicking High School? Granted, my High School experience ended with 10th grade, but still!

I popped into a gathering this evening and came across some realizations. I watched a room full of High School Seniors. All enjoying themselves. You could spot the popular kids right away. Then there were the kids who sat at the shy table, and the group of pretty girls. There were, of course, the more awkward looking boys, who didn't quite fit their bodies yet and had pimples all over their faces. (The guys who don't seem too cool at the time...but end up being amazing men, intelligent college grads, hard working, great husbands and good fathers...go figure!)

It was a fantastic event, and this will sound very narcissistic. It was a party for a great friend and wonderful young lady. I was happy to be there for her, I just wanted to share my personal experience from it.

Anyway...I was invited to this party...but as I walked in I felt this rush of inadequacy! I didn't have the time to change my clothes, and could only drop off a gift anyway. I grabbed the gift and expected to run over and leave quickly. I walked into the room and immediately felt incredibly out of place. I snuck in the back and waited for a time to give my gift and leave. I found it funny to watch the teenagers, but then I saw a table of grown women. Women I knew, but I'm not good friends with. They were all together, dressed-up, and clearly good friends with each other.
I panicked, and wondered if I should just walk out and give my gift later. This was my self-talk:

I'm standing in the back:
"Oh geez, I'm SO not dressed right. My jeans probably make my butt look big. My color combination of my clothes is totally wrong. Should I have worn a different jacket? Probably!"

I spot the table of women:
"These women don't like me...they are probably wondering why am here. Should I tell them that I was invited, so they don't think I invited myself?"

I start walking to the front:
"I don't really care what anyone thinks! Nobody will even notice my clothes... Oh man! I am wearing a hat! What kind of person wears a hat? Honestly!"

I give the gift to the Birthday girl:
"I just love her, she is so awesome. What a great birthday! I hope she can see how loved she is!"

I turn around and see the table of women:
"I'm just going to say "Hi", if I don't it will look rude. If I do it may look like I'm trying too hard. Oh well!"

I say hi and walk away:
"Whew! That was a bit awkward...I really worked myself up for nothing. Stupid!"

On the walk home:
"Why in the world did my mind just take me back to High School!?!"

Now I am not usually so insecure, like I said, a bad week. But I have my days!

Last year I was at the gym and saw 2 ex-boyfriends in the same week. Wow, that kinda sucked! I am not a slim and trim, make-up wearing, matching outfit, bronze tan type of gym babe. I'm more of a wear pajama bottoms, Mike's big T-shirts, pull my hair back, no make-up, just happy for some 'alone time' types. Again...very insecure moments! Not too easy to hide in a gym...too many mirrors. However, I did consider a full out sprint to the locker room!

When I feel that way, I immediately wonder why? Why do I care? What does it matter? It's not that what other people think of me is that important...or is it more important to me than I think?

Even in the work place, things can feel like High School. Who you go to lunch with, who drives the nicest vehicle. Did you hear what 'so-and-so' said about 'so-and-so'? Did you see what 'so-and-so' was wearing today? Things can be like that, heaven forbid, at CHURCH!

At my 10 year High School Reunion, it felt strange. Many people didn't know who I was, and those who did weren't really my friends after our Sophomore yeah...didn't really fit in. In so many ways, the room felt like High School, but we were all in different bodies. (Some bodies a lot better than others ;)) Everyone stayed in their groups, taking pictures and reminiscing. Nothing wrong with was just strange to see the same groups of guys and girls, that were the groups in the hallways of the school. And the rest of us, passing by on the outskirts looking in.

I'd like to think that as an adult, I have learned that what other people think of me doesn't really matter. But in all does. Not nearly close to as much! Granted, I don't wake up every morning worrying if my clothes are right, my hair is perfect, and if 'so-and-so' will talk to me today. But it's fulfilling to 'belong' somewhere. To have people around who you can talk to, trust, and confide in. To feel a part of a group who understands you and wants you around. I love my children, but adult interaction is a must for me.

Many times I have wished I could go back and tell my teenage self that it's not a big deal.

I would tell myself that everything will be fine, and many of the people you idolize turn out to be losers anyway. A lot of the guys you want to date won't amount to much, and the guys you don't give the time of day to...will be the ones you want to marry. I would tell myself to keep my butt in school! Stop skipping classes and pay more attention to what's being taught. I should respect my teachers, they don't get paid near enough, and take way too much crap!

I would try and explain what 'being cool' means, and how it's not as cool as you think! What you want to do is surround yourself with people who are kind and genuine. But most of all...I think I would tell myself to just relax and enjoy life. You will do plenty of worrying when you get to be an adult, so don't worry now.

I'm sure that sounded like the whole "Wear sunscreen" advise song that played a million times on the radio 7 or 8 years ago, but it's true.

The one thing I wish I could give my daughters in life is positive self-esteem. It is the foundation of life, and drives decisions. I would pay any amount of money to be able to buy it and give it to my girls.

I just hope and pray that they are equipped BEFORE they need it and not after. I think most people get it after the fact, or some never find it at all. I know that I definitely didn't have it until after High School, and I sometimes wonder if I still have enough now.

It is easy for me to feel inadequate. I compare my bad qualities to others good qualities. I dismiss my good qualities as not that good, and while it's important for me that I'm always improving myself...I could take more time to acknowledge what I do well. Or even the things I try to do well.

Working in the Beauty Industry, I have learned a few things. I've seen that no amount of hair extensions and make-up can make a person beautiful, it really can't. I've also seen that people who are beautiful inside, and love themselves, are beautiful outside. They really are more physically beautiful. Not 'special spirits', but are truly attractive.
This is to my girls...

Remember who you are....a daughter of God. Remember who will always love you, no matter what!...your Father in heaven, your savior, and ME! Remember why you are learn what you need to become Christ-like. If things get difficult, or you are feeling inadequate...close your eyes and imagine yourself ten years from now.

These are from Audrey Hepburn (although you probably won't know who she is) they are the best beauty tips you will ever get...

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; Never throw out anybody.

Remember, If you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears,
the figure that she carries,or the way she combs her hair.
The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes,
because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole,
but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul.
It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows,
and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!

You are truly special and incredible! Don't let anybody tell you different! The people who don't see that are really missing out!

Love you,

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Leafy Green Dictatorship!

I have to vent a bit about Mike's day-to-day experience.
To put it frankly...Mike's boss is a Dictator! I feel it's appropriate to share, because nobody knows where Mike works, I would never mention him by name, and I'm positive he would NEVER read my blog!
Definition of Dictator:

A. An absolute ruler.
B. A tyrant; a despot.

I will refer to this guy as "Dict", because if I left off the "t"...well, you know! Mike works for a company in the computer/tech industry. The irony is that Dict knows absolutely NOTHING about computers, or the Internet, or anything that has to do with technology!
He's one of those health crazed, meditation, kum-ba-yah, "center yourself with the universe" types. Now, don't get me wrong...I'm all for being healthy, saving the earth, etc...but he is the extreme!
Not only does he drive and own 3 hybrid vehicles...he's pretty much told all his employee's that if they don't all own one of these vehicles, they will no longer have a job! This guy is so green he makes Al Gore look brown! Seriously.
He is actually over the tech part of the company. Not the business, finance or relations department. Dict has always been a bit off his rocker, but things have gotten worse this past year.
Recently, Corporate came to do a management training. Mike said the the CEO could barely get a word in edgewise, Dict had his own agenda for the meeting. Not only that, but he acts like Mike is "on board" with EVERYTHING he suggests. Mike is SUPPOSED to be a manager of a team. This guy micro-manages every aspect of the team to where Mike's team barely even knows his name...and they should technically report to him!
Anyways, (I could go on and on) the Management training was INSANE! It started by everyone having to take off their shoes so the "negative vibes could pass freely out of their bodies". (Unless you had leather soles, which of course his boss always wears, because leather is a natural material which will not hinder the "flow of emotions". ) They couldn't sit on chairs, because that too would hinder "the flow". Mike said that the Corporate Team kept looking at everyone in disbelief! Mike could hardly believe it himself.
So there Mike is...sitting barefoot in a room full of his co-workers. As you can imagine, Mike has enormous feet! So all the attention is drawn to his freakishly large feet. Everyone keeps asking about his shoe size, and the entire meeting is constantly being distracted by Mike's fleshy ski's attached to the bottom of his legs.
Mike's company provides assistance in planning and managing technology events. Or as I like to put it...Geek-fests! Being present at many of these events over the years, Dict has decided to take the company in a bold and different direction.
He informed everyone that there will be big changes in the way they do business in the future. He presented the following, “If you take a look at an event show floor after the attendees are gone, you see a sickening amount of waste left behind — badges, brochures, spiffs that people take and toss, signage, and food and beverage.”
Dict said that they should see that garbage as“dollars littering the floor”. Sounds harmless enough, Mike agrees that being more conscious of our environment is great. We recycle...which Mike and I feel good about. But when gas prices got so high this summer, he had the nerve to tell Mike what type of car he had to drive. He then tried to force a 'carpool' policy. I mean enough already! For a performance bonus this year he gave Mike a lifetime supply of canvas grocery bags!
Back to work... argh...His boss went on and on about the type of Hotels all the attendees should be required to stay in. He said the the hotels "must be conscious of recycling and “green” linen policies." He also said that from now on, they will only hold events in ‘green cities'. Mike's thinking "How do you know if a city is Green or not?"
He really has lost it! Mike loves what he does, but he can only take so much!
Dict then went on to say that if event planners took the simple step of replacing bottled water with thermos-type containers and bulk dispensers they would save thousands of money at each event. He even said that he would enforce that all the binders distributed would have to be made from post-consumer waste and the pencils must be produced with sustainably harvested wood.
He wants all the participating company's and attendees' to share the same expectations of green linen and other environmental policies, asking the hotels to even change their types of toiletries.
He will demand that all lunches be provided in the preferred “low” packaging (brown paper bag) instead of using clamshell and interior packaging. Another alternative is that all lunch food be served banquet-style, using reusable china and silverware. He said "These are responsible adults...they can handle breakable plates!"
I mean, at what point are you taking the whole 'Green' thing too far? Maybe I'm not as in tune with the environment as I should be, but is all that going to really be beneficial?
On the technology side of things he believes that the infrastructure supporting new advances is a major problem because it is expanding and changing as technology progresses. He's asked Mike to even cease development on important issues due to this problem. Since he needs to access the clients standing with the environment, he figures a stop in development is necessary anyway. He wants all the products offered to be slower. He said "Not slow enough to notice, just slow enough to use less powerful servers."
I told Mike that somebody better explain to this guy that Beans and Kernels are not organic food! When beans are loaded into the are not watching the Food Network. And when the beans are lazily loaded (not instantiated until explicitly started) it doesn't mean to use your Crock Pot! Honestly!
Oh but gets even better...
These events will often employ 'Booth Babes', who are meant to attract attention from poor socially deprived computer programmers. Men who have never been looked at by such women, let alone spoken to! Dict had the nerve to suggest that they enforce that these women should wear less clothing or possibly no clothing at all! He said that "Not only will this attract more attention than usual, but it will confirm to the event attendees that less really is more!"
Mike came home from the training so distraught. He's not sure where to go from here. I'm trying to be supportive wife. However, I was so shocked and disgusted by these comments! It is all I can do to not go right into his office and give him a piece of my mind.
And the weird thing about the whole thing is that Dict is the VP of Engineering! Is he engineering a technology company, or the environment!?!
Anytime there is an issue with a project or product he solves it by saying

"Keep a green tree alive in your heart and a songbird may come to sing there."
- Chinese Proverb

His other favorite line is...

"I sow myself as a seed, living my life. I architect life! I architect hives with emotions nectar, sucking the productivity from bee's."
-That one is his own

He has that one on the wall in the Office! How could you expect to take that day-after-day?
Anyway...I just thought I should share some of the things Mike has to endure to provide for our family. We sure appreciated all his hard work and dedication. He figures he can continue to work with Dict, at least for the time being!

* Disclaimer *
That big wink is for Mike's boss, he is nothing like this! I went to visit Mike at work yesterday and his boss said "Hey, I like your blog." I was a bit taken back, quickly trying to think if there's anything on there I wouldn't want Mike's co-workers to know...I guess not, it's too late now anyway!
He then said that he wished I would post more about Mike and his job. (so he wants some good juicy gossip) So I thought I would write this for Jason...Mike's boss. Who is nothing like this at all! In fact, he bought a big truck around the same time Mike did, and they are both gas hogs. Mike loves working with him, and they have worked together for many years. He is a great guy, who is real laid back and VERY normal. He is a fantastic VP of Engineering, and very educated and experienced!
I wanted it to start believable, and get worse as it went on. I totally made up that last quote "I sow myself..." which makes me think I could be a really great philosopher someday! (I know, I poor children) I like to rant sometimes about those green extremists. But hey! In today's society, you never know. Just that I have to put a disclaimer on this post proves that we live in a strange world :)
If you commented on what a freak he is...I forgive you...since 'Dict' doesn't exist, I bet he forgives you too. If not...he can blame me for it all! Your comments were much nicer than what I would have written, believe me!

(That one's for you Jason! ;) See you at the Christmas Party.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Scare Tactics

So I have two things to post about today:
(and I'm trying to cut back, so I don't keep posting novels)

1. Election Day. It came, it went, and we have officially elected a new President of our country. I personally am both nervous and excited to see what is to come. There is bound to be good, and bad...there always is. It's not that I'm happy to see Bush go...but I'm not sad to see Bush go! I think that this election really bothered me for a couple reasons. First, delegates have been campaigning for two years! How does a Governor campaign for two years and still fulfill their duties as Governor? My two oldest girls know the names of the candidates and have asked who and why we were voting for for the past 3 months. I am glad to know as much as I do about these men, but come on! This means two years of drama and mud slinging as well. Second, it felt like a real doomsday approach to winning America's votes this year. We are all lead to believe that if we don't vote the right person in, our nation will end as we know it. I think it really ripped our county's people apart, and scared the crap out of a lot of Americans.

2. Blogging. I have a few friends who have recently decided to go private due to a news blurb the other night. I missed it, obviously, but wanted to see what had everyone so scared. I have to offense to ANYONE who decided to go private, but I thought the clip was a bit funny. I guess I was expecting something really bad to have happened due to blogging. We all want to protect our children and our families. The two examples they had were a child's picture which had been copied and doctored, and a blog that got nasty and hateful comments. The one with the comments hired a lawyer and subpoenaed Google to find the culprit. Well...low and behold, it was a close family member! I shouldn't be cruel, but I thought that was a bit Jerry Springer if you ask me. I want to keep my family safe, and would never want to put them in harms way. It was just that these two cases where not what I expected to scare me into going private. The suggestions were to follow these guidelines:
1. No pictures of children
2. Password (which I assume means going private)
3. Guard information (don't post personal contact information)
4. Adjust settings
I'm a bit sketchy on the last one, maybe don't let people comment? I don't know quite what settings you would adjust if you are already private. Pretty much I concluded that if you are stupid, and put your address on your blog...someone could know where you live. (There was even a statement about that very case and a person walking up to a house.)
So, I had a long discussion with Mike (a web software engineer) and tried to get the facts. It would be tragic to wait until something goes terribly wrong to learn my lesson. However, there are many ways to find a person's address, phone number, etc. I wouldn't put that information out there publicly, but it could be obtained. It is the same with the stickers of your family on the back of your mini-van, or having a job or calling in the church with more public exposure. As for me, the benefits currently out weigh the real risks. Time will tell if things will change.

In conclusion...there is so much to be afraid of. The media is so incredibly good at putting doubt and fear into our thoughts and our homes. I am not supporting ignorance or stupidity, but I personally feel I owe my children a safe and secure environment. To reassure them of the great and amazing country we live in. The blessed freedoms we enjoy, the freedom to vote! To elect a person to lead our country. Even if he is not the leader we would have liked...a leader our nations people were able to choose. What a great place we live! A State in which we can feel safe. Where family values are the core of our culture. We enjoy so many great things by living in this State. We enjoy freedoms and liberties other people only dream about. There is so much to be grateful for, so much to be thankful for!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Christmas Pics

I replaced my Header with the girls new picture. My sisters and I have taken a picture of all our kids together (all cousins) for Christmas since 2004. We give a big one to my Mom for Christmas, as well as to grandparents. I feel lucky to have my sisters all still living close enough to do this. Well...this year one of my sisters didn't want to participate. Since we couldn't do a group picture and leave some of the kids out...we had to scrap it this year.
I still needed a picture of my girls, and I realized I hadn't taken individual pictures of the younger two since their first birthday. I stopped getting school pictures, because they never turned out well. So we did the works...

It seems to strange to think I helped create these little people. They are growing and changing into little ladies. I miss my babies...but I love this stage. Cori is old enough to want to sit with the adults and converse. Lexi is making friends out of our neighborhood. Addi will start Kindergarten next year. Sophie can be reasoned with, is no longer in diapers, and must do everything by herself. It feels strange, and yet exciting to move to a new chapter.