Straight talk from Wayne and Garth.

So…on Sunday I had a brief chat with my sister-in-law, during which she related a tale of so much over-the-top high school drama I truly wanted to hurl (“If you gotta spew, spew into this.”). The drama involved her daughter – my niece – and her date for prom. Included in the story were a fake girlfriend, false friends, a broken prom date, and a lie about my niece having mono.

…but it turned out I was just bored.

The mono part is where it gets interesting. My niece’s prom date told his mom that my niece had mono. And THAT, not the rest of the ridiculous, pain in the ass drama, was what my sister-in-law got upset about. She was horrified that a rumor would be started that her daughter had “the kissing disease” as she put it, and would forever have a “reputation.”

Hey, mom! The seventies called, and they want their 40-year-old ideas back!

From the Brady Bunch episode titled “Marsha Gets Mono.”

Not only was my sister-in-law’s reaction over the top (marching her daughter over to the boy’s house and having it out with him and her mother), she’s seriously misinformed. I happened to be hanging out with college students last night, and I confirmed with several people around the age of 20: No one out there today thinks having mono connotes skanky-ness.

Note: Our Oldest had mono a couple of years ago. It was clearly brought on by overwork, too much stress, and too little sleep. I know at least four other kids – and one adult – who have had mono in the last year, and in every case, they were overworked, too stressed, and overtired. Not a skank in the bunch.

I didn’t have time during that brief conversation to disabuse my sister-in-law of her antiquated ideas. Also, she’s not a person to take correction well. I value all my limbs and would like to keep my head intact. Thankfully, she doesn’t even have A gun, let alone enough guns to necessitate a gun rack.

But seriously. Live in the now!!!!

A quick rundown of a quick overnight run to our son’s college town.

Quick because I left my iPad AND laptop at home and typing on my phone sucks. 

  • Last concert in the top university choir for our boy – it’s a full year commitment and he’ll be too busy student teaching the second half of next year. 
  • We got a call from my stepdad (AKA the husband’s boss) as we pulled onto campus, to say The Husband was needed for work on Monday, though he’d planned on Monday off after working Saturday. Which meant getting up this morning at 4:30 to start the 2 1/2 hour drive to get me home so Husband could then make the hour drive to his job. 
  • Needing to get up super early gave us an excuse to do the inexcusable: leave the concert after our son’s performance in the first half.  Oh, the horror! Really, seriously bad form. But secretly, such a relief. 
  • Rotten night of hotel sleep. More like hotel not-sleep. 
  • Kept a window open for fresh air and woke up with a killer allergy attack.
  • Amused by the story of our boy being awarded a scholarship this past week, announced at a concert he didn’t attend, for which he didn’t apply and which ha has no idea what it’s for. As his oldest sister said last night when I texted her this info, “Well, of course. Who else but my brother has unexpected money thrown at him through no effort of his own?” No joke, the kid is golden. 
  • Note to self: What’s worse than struggling into yoga pants while half a sleep and still slightly damp from the shower? Struggling into yoga pants  BACKWARDS while half a asleep and still damp from the shower.

What a Monday!

Do-it-yourself “beauty.”

I checked “to-do’s” off my list yesterday at such a fast and furious rate that all I’ve got on the docket for today are a couple of home “beauty” tasks.

First up, the dying of the hair. Argue as you will, but my motto at this stage of life is “Do not go gently into that head of grey hair.” I don’t care to/can’t quite afford the gorgeous highlighting job I used to get done every other month, so the alternative is a box of Loreal Preference, a nasty old mirror, and the stained utility sink in the laundry room. Voila – I’m back to the uniformly dark brown of my younger years with only 40 minutes’ worth of effort.

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Disclaimer: This is not me. But don’t we all wear a black formal dress while coloring our hair?

Next, the home pedicure. A bag of heavenly-scented Epsom salts, a tub of almost-hot water, a good scrub with the pumice stone, a fresh coat of nail polish and we have adequate (if not quite salon-quality) sandle-weather toes.


I’m not due for a reboot on my pink and white salon nails for a few more days, but a quick application of baby oil gel around the cuticles will freshen them up nicely.

And last, I’m undertaking a new adventure – tooth whitening strips. Had my first go last night, sitting around drooling for half an hour while distracting myself with “The Office” on Netflix. We’ll see how that goes…

 

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If this is your first question about using a tooth-whitening product that you yourself have purchased, you might just be better off just painting your teeth with White-Out. 

Why do we do this stuff? As a rabid feminist I can’t help but suspect a culture that diminishes women to their appearance alone.  But as an aging mom who cares how she looks, I still go for it.

Fight the good fight.

Sense and Sensibility, updated.

We had a Great Sorrow in our home this week.

An attachment had been formed, and all had rejoiced. But our Heroine of the Piece suffered a deep disappointment when her intended showed his blackguard tendencies. Willoughby deserted his Marianne.


Loud and intense weeping ensued. Our Marianne took to her bed, and I feared that she might disappear into the storm, requiring rescue from a Colonel Brandon (unfortunately there is no Colonel Brandon waiting in the wings in this updated story).


Sensibility ruled for a night. Our heroine’s doting mother was called for, to sit at the bedside of her grieving daughter, wiping her brow and attending to her comfort and present relief.


Happily, with the return of the sun and a busy day ahead in her classroom, Sense returned to our dear Marianne the next morning. She has a renewed view of the world and, one hopes, a more realistic view of romance.

But it was a close thing.

Reasons why I’m obsessed with beds and sleeping.

 

  • Perimenopausal hormones, which cause me to be wide awake at all hours of night, lying in a pool of sweat.

Note the happy faces on this couple. I suspect their mood is due to their separate sleeping arrangements.

  • Two adults on a double bed (our situation for the last 30 years) is a recipe for elbow-related bruises and near-concussions.

  • Our current mattress is about 8 years old. When it was new it was like sleeping on a cloud. Now it’s like sleeping on a pile of Slinkies.

This woman is clearly considering the most effective way to whack her husband with that hand mirror.

  • Our new and improved, not to mention queen-sized mattress (coincidentally, a BeautyRest) is scheduled to arrive today. I’m pinning my hopes on it for a whole new world of sleep.

Dream a little dream.

dream

This past weekend I was one of the planners / facilitators / teachers for a local leadership event…

And I came away with a dream.

I’ve been contemplating the future of my work life for a while now. Wondering what I REALLY want to be when I grow up. Sometime during Saturday’s event, I figured it out.

But what I want to be isn’t even a thing.

Here’s the deal: I firmly believe that the leadership principles we’re working with in this organization have the potential to create significant positive change in this world, in every arena. I feel passionate about this work (which, at this point, is all volunteer / part of my everyday paid job). As an educator, I’m also passionate about public education. And my passion for social justice is pulling at me like crazy.

So…what if I could combine these passions? The dream, in my mind and heart, looks like taking this leadership stuff to urban school districts, with a view toward helping teachers and administrators effect real change in the places where they work – the places where kids and parents have, for generations, had the deck stacked against them.

But like I said, at this point in time that’s not even a thing. The organization I’m working with isn’t at that place yet in its development. And I am the farthest thing in the world from being a networker, a “mover and shaker” – the last person in the world to step forward with a huge idea and find a way to make it happen.

It never occurred to me that at the age of 51 I would get slapped upside the head with a new, out-of-the-blue calling.

I’ve got a lot of thinking to do.

Shut up about STEM already.

Earlier this week I heard a discussion on our local public radio station about getting the most “bang for your buck” with a college degree. With two kids in undergrad and one in grad school, I know it’s an important topic of conversation for families. The cost of higher education is all but unattainable for way too many people. It makes sense to consider what you’re going to get in return for the ridiculous amount of money you have to put into it, and to consider how you’re going to manage the debt you’ll almost inevitably accrue by the time you graduate.

I knew whereof I speak. Our oldest chose an elite school and came out with $20,000 in debt (but is in a field in which this debt will be made manageable by her eventual salary). Our middle graduates this year with $10,000 in debt, having chosen to live at home for her four years to keep expenses down. Our youngest, as always, came out smelling like a rose and got a full ride to a state college. All three of our kids were National Merit Finalists, top 5% of their high school classes, and were awarded various academic/talent-based scholarships. And still two out of three of them had to incur serious debt in order to graduate.

So, back to that public radio discussion. As I say, the topic was reasonable. Where I ran into angst was with the advice I heard being given by some local “experts.” Which all boiled down to “If you want to get anywhere in life, go into a STEM field.” They said, in so many words, that “Computers are a good field to go into.  Analytics is a good field to go into. Math and engineering are good fields to go into.”


Granted, this was a show with the stated topic of “making money with your college degree.” But the very clear message was that the only reason to go to college was to make as much money as possible. It’s a theme that drums in our ears constantly – STEM currently rules the educational world. I even saw an ad on Facebook today for STEM play kits that can be mailed directly to your home, to feed into “Oh, dear God my child’s gonna be left behind!” hysteria.

I take exception to the idea that STEM is the be-all and end-all of education.

Not because I think poverty is a good life goal.

Rather, because fulfillment and joy are excellent life goals.

For those people who love numbers or research or engineering or writing code, pursuing a STEM degree is absolutely a good choice. But I think pushing a kid into a field of study solely because it will make them a pile of cash is a seriously rotten thing to do. I’ve seen it plenty of times. In our super-affluent suburb, money is the god most commonly worshiped. Working with families my entire adult life, I’ve witnessed repeatedly parents whose narrative to their kids is that making money is the number one priority.

What about instead encouraging kids to follow their passion? Or – radical thought – what if our society adequately rewarded the life-giving careers that involve the humanities?


Again, I know whereof I speak. Our oldest was fascinated by genetics and research from the time she was in middle school. She excelled at and was fascinated by the humanities, as well, but chose molecular biology as her life’s work. Our Middle was great at math and science. But her first love is languages and writing and teaching. She chose to become a high school teacher, and we cheered her on every step of the way. This world will be a better place because of her choice.

And our youngest? For the first half of his 21 years, he was certain he would become an aerospace engineer. He had the skills and the ability to do it. But then he fell in love with vocal music, and the rest was history. It was a shock to us as his parents to see him make that radical change, but we couldn’t be prouder of his achievements in music and can’t wait to see him take on his own choirs after he graduates next year – a vocal music education major with a minor in physics (in a nod to his first love).

Will our younger two make a mint in their careers? Obviously not, especially in this crappy state we call Kansas, where our legislature is doing its level best to destroy public education.

But all three of our kids are thrilled with what they’re doing with their lives.

And THAT is what’s really important.

In which our Little Free Library gets a whole new look.

A year and a half of standing exposed to the elements had caused some pretty serious aging in our dear Little Free Library.

I’d been planning on a face lift (for the library, not for me) since last fall, and our beautiful spring weather and lighter evenings gave me just the kick in the pants needed to actually tackle the project.

The Husband took it down for me last Friday, and we posted this sign to reassure our neighborhood friends that it wasn’t a permanent thing.


And then started the demo and clean-up. It took two hours and two VERY sore hands to remove the old decorations and the glue underneath them.


Then came a couple of days’ worth of painting and applying polyurethane.


We had to wait out three days of rain, but yesterday afternoon we finally got the new and improved library back up and running – all new books and everything!



Our little friends from  next door dashed over to check it out before I could even re-stock.

I had to go out last evening, and when I got home I loved the thrill of seeing our cute library standing in the yard to greet me. Can’t wait to see the reactions of all the folks in the neighborhood as they pass by in the next few days and see the upgrade!

Want to know more about the Little Free Library movement, find one in your area, or start an LFL of your own? Visit littlefreelibrary.org .

Hot (dog) date.

You know your marriage has lasted a long time when you consider mattress shopping a great date.


On the other hand, you know your marriage has hit a state of bliss when you’re out spending $1000 on a mattress and your spouse says, “I don’t care what mattress we get. You just pick out the one you like.”

Of course, that comment was more about reality than generosity. My husband could get a full eight hours of perfect sleep hanging from a meat hook in a butcher shop. Still, I figure I came out pretty sweet on the deal.

The main motivation for redecorating our bedroom over Christmas break was the desperate need to graduate to a larger mattress – one wide enough to keep our elbows and knees out of each other’s personal space, possibly the only way to allow our marriage to actually continue. Sadly, the re-do cost so much that we couldn’t afford the larger mattress for the larger bed until now. So this little outing was long-anticipated and much-desired.

But once I’d chosen the perfect mattress, the shopping date only got even better. While The Husband was dealing with paying and arranging delivery (and haul-away of our old mattress set), I wandered off to check out the kitchen ware section of the department store.

And came across an awesome item that no one on earth could possibly ever need:


Seriously? Are people really eating so many hot dogs that they need a decorative toaster for them and their buns? Even one that “fits thicker hot dogs?”

I’ll just have the mattress, thank you.

A note to any fellow Python fanatics out there: I recognize my grave error in continually using the word “mattress” in the above post, rather than “dog kennel.” I will be standing in a cardboard box all evening and singing “Jerusalem” to make up for it. “And did those feet, in ancient time, walk upon England’s mountains green…”