Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's All In The Details

After Nashville's very rainy season this spring, the flooding has stopped and it's time to crank up the sprinklers. Our sprinkler system is semi-functional at this point, needing some repairs. But it still will water most of the yard, so last week I turned it on - at least the parts that are working properly.

Today I noticed that my petunias are looking puny. Since I plant with reckless abandon, I could chalk it up to that. But I also am considering the fact that I haven't watered them properly. So today I decided to have the sprinklers go on twice a day to hopefully revive them back into life.

I go to the control box, punching every button I think is needed. I punch the time, the program, the station time amounts, my favorite color, and any other information that I think it needs. At 6:00 pm, I peek outside to see if I was successful. I wasn't. I imagine every reason why, and go back to the box to check out my previous work. It all looked good, except for one thing - I hadn't punched the buttons that said which days I wanted the water in the afternoon.

It just goes to show that sometimes you think you have every base covered, but you don't. One little detail keeps you from success. You just have to check it all over again and find that little thing that keeps progress away. For me, it was punching in the days - which was a pretty good lesson for me to learn, because if I really want change to happen in my life, it's going to have to be an everyday thing.

We'll see who gets it together first - me or the petunias!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

5K-ing 4 Kids

This morning, Steve, Sam, Lynnette, and I participated in the Run 4 Kids 5K to benefit the Tennessee Baptist Children's Home. Of course, Sam and Steve ran, while Marathoner Lynnette and I were content to leisurely stroll the route. It was a great morning with perfect weather, a great post-race spread, and the proceeds going to a good cause.

As usual, I'm hoping that today's 5K will be the beginning of yet another attempt at getting in shape. With two half-marathons scheduled for the end of the summer, I've got to get moving again.

All it takes is one step in the right direction. This morning I made several - I've just got to keep at it!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Stroller Land

Since my children are ambulatory, I no longer have the need of a stroller while at Disney World. But when I am there, I am constantly amazed at the sea of strollers that I sometimes have to navigate to get to Peter Pan's Flight. Sometimes I do pass judgment on those who rent the strollers, questioning if their 13-year-old really needs it.

But I realized one purpose of the stroller in this picture taken by my nephew David. If you want to ride Snow White's Scary Adventure alone, just strap your child in the stroller and park it. After all, nobody wants a stroller complete with baby inside!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hey There, Err... Uh... Hey Buddy!

I admit it. I am terrible at names. When introduced to someone, I am more interested in gathering as much imaginary information about that person by studying them, than by actual factual material, like his/her name. So in other words, you may be introduced to me as Queen Elizabeth from England, but I won't remember that. Instead, I will be trying to figure out why you are wearing that crown.

I try to remember names, but rarely do. When meeting someone new, you usually begin by telling me your name. It would be better to begin by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance first, then tell me your name. By that point, I will be mentally prepared to register that information, because I will have already figured out (in my own mind) at least part of your personal story.

I've tried all the usual tips and tricks. Here are my issues with the tricks:
  1. Be interested. I am interested. I am interested in where you come from, your family, why you are wearing those clothes, and if you like me or not. I am not so much interested in your name. Unless it is also my name, in which case I won't forget it.
  2. Verify it. I would be glad to, but I didn't hear it the first time and I'm too embarrassed to ask you again. I'm also a little nervous that if I heard it, I heard it wrong. Melissa/Melinda, Sandy/Randy, Betty/Betsy, Bob/Christopher - they all sound similar to me.
  3. Picture it written on their foreheads. In what font? All caps? What about color? And is this less embarrassing that looking at some other part of this person's body? About the only way this will work is if I physically write it myself on your forehead, and that may be just a little awkward.
  4. Imagine writing the name. I did. On your forehead. If I start waving my arm in the air, I don't think you're going to stick around much longer, in which case your name is no longer needed.
  5. Use word association. Not going to work. If I associate your name with my cat who had the same name, then the next time I meet you, I'm going to have to remember which cat had the same name as you. The liability is that the only cat's name I will probably remember is Sacajawea, and I'm thinking that's not going to be your name. Trying to associate your name with something, then remembering that association is just way too much drama.
  6. Use it frequently. I would. If only I could remember it.
  7. Record the name in a "new contacts" file. Perfect. I will just carry around my laptop and/or address book (if I can find it). Now all you have to do is wait while I retrieve the information, which may require trial and error. If I'm going to carry around writing materials, then I think the magic marker on your forehead will be a lot easier.
Anyhow, I just wanted to confess one of my shortcomings, should we meet. Don't be alarmed if I start staring at your forehead (not looking for Botox) or start writing in the air (not writing an imaginary letter to my imaginary friend). But you may want to run to the nearest exit if I pull out my magic marker.

And don't be offended if I don't remember your name - I do it to everyone. Just ask Whathisname, Whosis, and That One. I named them as soon as they were born and don't remember their names most of the time!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My New Weight Loss Plan

Not really, but since I eat unwisely when I am bored, I thought this might help that dilemma. Probably not, but at least I got this blog post done!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Scary Things Like Scales

Today I went for my annual checkup at the lady-parts doc. My most dreaded part was - you guessed it - getting on the scales. Since I haven't boarded one in many moons, I wasn't looking forward to heaving myself on top of this one. In fact, I even considered calling and rescheduling my appointment until I had lost a few hundred pounds.

But I didn't. I knew I had to face reality sometime, and it was going to have to be today. My 68-pound journey was not going so well, unless you thought it was to add those 68 pounds. Anyhow, I got on the scale and although I had indeed gained pounds, it was not as horrendous as I had anticipated.

Today I faced up to that which I feared. Although I got the information I expected, it wasn't the death knoll. My doctor is the type that doesn't harp on weight, so it all turned out for good. While I still have a journey of now 68+ pounds, it is still within my reach.

I guess the point of this story is to keep confronting the unknown and unpleasant situations in my life. Even though I may think I know the outcome, I may not. I may be in for a pleasant surprise, or a smaller dose of reality, or the very thing I am expecting. But if I don't face that seemingly scary thing, I will never know the truth and end up living in ignorance. And while ignorance may be bliss for some, it certainly won't get me where I need to be.

So I'll start back on that journey. It's a little longer this time, but I'll get it done just like every race I complete - one step at a time.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Home Again

It was a great vacation. We had a great time. We had great weather - well, some of the time. All in all, a great way to spend a few days with family.

But I'm back home and I'm tired. There's stuff to be done here and I'm on Eastern time, which means it's bedtime. So it's off to bed for now, to rest up for the next great adventure.

See you tomorrow!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Molly's Top Ten

Twenty-three years ago today, Molly was born. She was our largest baby at 9 pounds and 6 ounces, and our last baby. She made our family complete by adding her own special gifts to our crew. Today on her birthday, I just wanted to list my top ten favorite things about our Molly:

1. She's a great cook and will try just about any recipe that sounds good and/or requested by the family.

2. She does things in her own time - Molly time - when she is ready. And Molly time is always the best time for her.

3. She is a loyal employee and hard worker. She sometimes works too much in my opinion, but I'm her mom and worry too much.

4. She saves her money. She also spends her money, but it's money she's earned, so she's entitled.

5. She is tenacious - usually in a good way. I don't worry too much about other people running over her.

6. She's witty and funny and fun to be around.

7. She's taken care of Opie and the various cats that have been housed at her house, even though technically they don't belong to her. She has a good heart.

8. She's takes good care of her house and all the many roommates that have lived at Cadillac.

9. She's very smart about government and all that stuff that I don't care so much about. I trust her opinion and ideas.

10. She has a strong spirit that will keep her on the road to where she wants to go. As her mom, I am privileged to watch her journey and be a part of it. And wherever she ends up, Molly will make that place what she wants it to be.

Happy Birthday Molly - I love you and am blessed to be your mom!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Things in the Water

Today's highlight (well, one among many) was watching my brother and nephews scuba in The Seas at Disney World. It's something I may never do, and while it's fascinating to watch people do it, it's especially cool when the people doing it are people you know and love.

I guess there are a lot of life experiences like that. There are things that you may never do yourself, but enjoy watching others do. And when those things are done by special people in your life, it makes that thing unforgettable.

But I think it helps to remember that sometimes the other people who are doing those things may not have special people in their lives who are watching them. They may not have that cheering section or that support crew or just that proud watcher. It's those times that we can fill in the gaps. By cheering and encouraging those we are watching but may not know, we are making new friends. And maybe, one day when we least expect it and need it most, there will be a stranger who is watching and encouraging us.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Lesson from Nail Polish

Late this afternoon, I had my toenails repainted. This time I went with the tried and true, a shade of pink. While I had removed the yellow/orange polish a week ago, there was still some stray streaks of color still left on my nails. The pedicurist said, "You had yellow polish?" I admitted that I had and that it had been a huge mistake.

I guess the lesson of this story is that you can try to erase the mistakes you make in this life, but sometimes you just can't get rid of all the residual evidence. It's still there, proving that maybe you made a choice or two that you later regretted. But if you can own up to it and admit you made an error, then the action you took no longer owns you. You move on and make better choices. Maybe you learn that it's okay to make mistakes because everybody does. We're all making mistakes and learning from each other because we're all in this together.

As for me, I hope I made the world safer from yellow/orange nail polish!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Disney Day

This is my new pin I bought today, because - you guessed it - I'm at Disney World for the weekend. Among other reasons, I'm here to see my brother and nephews scuba with the fishies at The Seas in Epcot. I think I bought this pin because I think every day should be a Disney Day. Let me tell you about mine.

On the flight down, the pilot told us that we would have a smooth flight, probably until Orlando where we would experience a few bumps. I hate when bumps and flying collide. He asked the flight attendants to sit down - a reason for me to start drinking, except for the fact that the drink people have been commanded to sit down. Then King Pilot tells the flight attendants to clean up the plane early, which translates to imminent flying danger to me. Of course, this also means they will be unable to provide me with a bottle of vodka. After all this commotion, the flight lands fairly uneventfully and not-so-bumpily, although my nerves were pretty shot. And un-inebriated.

So, I wander off the plane and head to Rental Car Land. I am searching for the Hertz counter because I Pricelined a sweet deal for a car. After staring at the car rental sign for eons, hoping that the Hertz name will appear, I find Hertz on another sign- the one that says I have to get on the rental car bus to get it. I am spoiled. I do not want to get on the rental car bus - I want my car right outside the airport door. I sneer, go outside with the other peons, and wait for the rental car bus. It takes me to the Hertz place, where the first stop is for the Gold Class people. The next stop is for all us low-class cheapskates. The kiosks are not working, which means standing in line. I finally get up to Felicia, who can't find my name. Luckily in my anal-retentive travel notebook, I have a copy of my Priceline confirmation. Felicia tells me that my name was backwards - as if Luanne is a common last name. We haggle over insurance and refilling the gas tank, I sign my life away, and Felicia hands me the keys and points me in the direction of the North 40 to retrieve my car.

On my marathon out to find my car, a passing stranger says, "Your suitcase in unzipped." I look, and it is but it isn't. Actually, the nylon zipper is doing what nylon menopausal zippers do - come unzipped in the middle of a zipped zipper. I managed to fix it a bit, find my car, and heave the suitcase in the trunk. I pull out the inspection report Felicia gave me so that I can inspect my car and note any damages. (Sidebar - why should I have to do this? Shouldn't the car be in good order? If it is that important, why didn't Felicia come with me?) I see a minor ding, not bothering to denote the various scratches or the grimy floor mats of my cheap car. I decide that people who get a car with Priceline probably get the yucky cars anyway. I get all my documents, hand them to Roderigo at the gate and head for Disney.

I arrive at Bonnet Creek Resort, another good deal found by Steve. My building is next to one being built and overlooks two other new hotels being built. I can't get wireless Internet, but Steve finds out that there is wired - the hookup is on the breakfast bar next to the sink. The resort info says checkout is at 10am, after I run the dishwasher, carry the trash down the hall to the trash bin, and put all the dirty linens on the bathroom floor. It is a nice resort - and I guess a nice change of pace. I guess.

Anyhow, I unpack my stuff, go pick up my nephews David and Michael for some dinner and Downtown Disney-ing. It sprinkles here and there, so we don't go watch fireworks. I drop them back at Pop Century, spend a little time chatting with John and Anne about their food fest at Victoria and Albert's, then head to Wal Mart for some sundries before the second wave arrives tomorrow.

I get back to the room, only to find the milk has a small leak that leaks all the way from the car to the sink. The Itty Bitty (laptop) decided to freeze up in the middle of this blog. I want the pizza that is being delivered three doors down.

But the thing is, I'm at Disney. And even if I weren't, I could still have a Disney Day. How? By realizing that it's just a day, and tomorrow will be another one. It will be full of something, so I might as well enjoy it. Enjoying the day - that's what makes it a Disney Day.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hey You - Got A Few Things To Tell You

Sam had an interesting blog today. It's all about what his 28-year-old self would say to his 23-year-old self. While he suggests that you think of what you would say to the five-years-ago you, I decided to think of what I would say to that 23-year-old Luanne. Here it is:
  • Find a journal and list your life goals. They're probably going to change a lot, but keeping them on paper will help you not forget them.
  • Marriage changes constantly. You're an equal partner, so speak up with courage and conviction.
  • You're going to learn about unconditional love in about four months. You're going to meet someone that you would kill for, would give your life for, and will be absolutely mesmerized by. You have no idea what being a mother is all about - it's much harder and more wonderful and greater than you could ever imagine.
  • Learn about epidurals and challenge your OB on his policy of no-epidurals. By the way, your OB is not God - when his needle and thread start to hurt, tell him so and offer to sew his balls together.
  • Start keeping a diary. Not a journal of your feelings, but dates and facts. It will come in handy for the inevitable arguments between those little bundles of unconditional love.
  • Start walking/jogging every day, even if it's just a mile. By starting now, maybe it won't be so hard later.
  • Ask for help. You will soon have a lot on your plate. Ask for help.
  • Ask your mother lots of questions about herself. You may have issues with each other now, but she is a person that you need to know about, and she doesn't have many years left.
  • Eat healthy. Make it a practice. Those Ding Dongs are going to haunt you in your middle-age.
  • Stand up for yourself, even if it's really hard. Make yourself heard and known. Your ideas and view may be a little different, but they're worth hearing.
  • Don't buy anything called a computer table. You will save yourself a lot of money since you will never find the perfect one.
Sure, there are a lot of things I would tell that young woman. But most of all, I would say, "I love you - don't ever forget that." Because in the end, it's that self-love that will keep her going through the highs and lows and everything in between then and now.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

But Aren't They Cute!!

My yard is a dug-up mess, I spent much of today touring Nashville with GDizzle and entourage, and I am extremely sleepy. This is the best I could do. By the way, no kittens were harmed in the making of this video!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Fixing the Fixings

This morning, the concrete dudes began digging a trench outside the sunroom wall. The plan has something to do with footers. After digging today, the dude in charge talked to the main dude and I was educated on the footer dilemma with my sunroom. I really don't completely understand all of it, except that it's going to cost some more money to fix it "right."

Of course it is. Our house is over fifty years old, so whenever something needs fixing, it usually means that it's only the beginning of the real repair. This is a little scary, since we have a new roof planned for late June.

I guess the lesson of this story is that you can do stuff just to make do (and often not-so-legally) or do it right. We've done both, and doing it the right way usually lasts much longer. It just costs much more.

Hopefully in a few more days, my sunroom will have the footings and drainage it needs. I'm hoping I'll get what I paid for - as if I would really know a good footer when I see it!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What's That Bright Light in the Sky?

Lately, the weather in Nashville has been wet. It's either been raining, or about to rain, or just finished raining. While we were in Fishers, Indiana, this weekend, we experienced the same weather. I was beginning to think we should rename Nashville to Seattleville. At least until today.

When I finally made it outside after my post-overindulgent-pancake coma, I was blinded by the giant orb in the sky. Speaking of the sky, it was a beautiful blue, instead of the usual gray. I looked around for puddles and raindrops, only to find none. It was a bit odd and hard to believe. But after a few moments of acclimation, I got it - it was one of those sunny days that I remembered.

I had gotten so used to cloudiness and rain, the sun was unfamiliar. But it quickly brightened my thoughts and caused me to think about summer and all its possibilities. In the newly appreciated sunlight, everything in my yard and planters looked prettier (weeks of rain helped that). I realized I am ready for a new season, ready to bask in the sun and be invigorated by its brilliance.

Maybe I needed the gloominess of rain to appreciate the sun. Or maybe the rain was needed so that there would be such glorious beauty when the sun came out. Or just maybe both were absolutely essential so I could fully understand how God uses everything to make my life complete.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Good Going Geist!

It was supposed to storm this morning, but when we got up, the weather was cloudy, but not rainy. Sam completed the hilly half-marathon while I wogged my way through the 5K. I got to see Sponge Bob and see Sam finish his race. I even got a medal for the 5K, which is always a bonus for such a short distance. The Geist was a great race with great organization and support. All in all, one great experience!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday to Saturday Plans

Sam and I travelled to Indianapolis this afternoon. He is running in the Geist Half Marathon tomorrow (his fifth of 2009) and I am wogging the 5K. We drove for possibly five hours, had an excellent dinner, and are now holed up in an ancient Holiday Inn until the race tomorrow, after which we shall clean up and drive home.

So the question remains, "Why do this?" Again, my answer is, "Why not?" I see a new part of this country, I spend time with my adult son, I eat in new places, I meet new woggers, I once again attempt to kick-start a jogging training plan, and I potentially experience new adventures. All in all, not a bad way to start a weekend.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Another Great Day to Celebrate

Tomorrow is National Chocolate Chip Day. I thought I would let you know so you can really observe the day in style tomorrow. To that end, I have researched and found some valuable information for you:

For instance, here are some creative uses for chocolate chips, in case stuffing them directly in your mouth seems rather mundane. Maybe you need to collect the Top Ten Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes. Maybe you need to identify the best chocolate chips. Maybe you need to justify eating that chocolate chip cookie in your diet. Maybe you need some ideas on celebrating this day. Maybe you just want to be smarter about chocolate chips in general.

And finally, a toast for tomorrow: May your chips never be down and always be chocolate!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Today's Guest Poster - My Browser

I have looked endlessly for funny videos and have found none. I looked for an amazing Lego creation, but didn't find anything that really amazed me. My browser is now refusing to even load the pages I want. It is too warm up in my desk area, and my forearms are sticking to my desk. In other words, I have nothing really to blog about today, it's hot, and I'm ready for bed.

So I will leave you with my new favorite show - Man Vs Food. It's hilarious and it's the one page my browser approved of.

Bon appetit and good night!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I am not a gardener. I like flowers in my yard and the look of a manicured landscape. We hired a landscaper a few years back to design and plant the stuff in our yard. It's pretty when freshly trimmed up in the spring. However, since we only hire somebody to do that once a year, maintenance is left up to us to make sure it looks presentable.

To that end, today I spent a little time pulling weeds in my front yard. I don't like it, but it has to be done because otherwise my flowers would not look as pretty as they should. It's boring, it's not fun, and I just don't like weeding. But it has to be done if I want the desired results.

I just wish I could transfer this mindset to other areas of my life. I wish I could practice getting rid of the yucky stuff so the good stuff would show forth. I wish I could get rid of bad habits so that the good habits I want to develop would come out. I wish I could weed out most of the bad stuff that tends to choke out and take over the good stuff in my life.

The fact is I can. I weeded the planters today. Maybe tomorrow I will weed out the distractions that keep me from jogging, or tempt me to eat ill-advised food choices, or simply waste moments in my day. It's just a practice, this weeding thing. It's work and it's boring and it's not fun. But in the end, the results are so beautiful that it makes all that weeding worthwhile.

Monday, May 11, 2009

At Least It's Not A Cat Video!

When you go see a movie, you get the previews. Since I don't have anything ideas for a blog post, I thought I would use the same idea. Here's something to look forward to this holiday season!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Best Mother's Day Ever

No, it wasn't because everybody was home and we had a big party. It wasn't because everybody got me ridiculously expensive presents and then sent me to the spa for the day. It wasn't because everyone made me sit in a chair and heeded my every wish and command. It was the best Mother's Day ever because the three people who entitled me to the rights of this day made me aware that they know who I am.

Let me explain. Before he left to go to Disney World with Lynnette and her mom/dad/brother/sister-in-law, Sam gave me his Mother's Day present. It was a pair of Toms shoes, one of my favorite things. I had abused my other pair of Toms by wearing them in the rain puddles, so I knew I needed a fresh pair. I was thrilled to get a new pair, but doubly thrilled because Sam knew how much I like them. The icing on the cake was the fact that I also know how much Sam likes his Toms and the whole premise behind this shoe company. I feel like his gift was a sharing of our lives and a connection that goes beyond mother and son - it's a human connection between two people.

Maribeth's gift was a pair of earrings. They are a style that she knows I like - light danglies. Because she had her ears re-pierced a few months ago after years of no-pierced, she's become a little more interested in earrings. Although she says these aren't her style, she knew they were mine, so she bought them for me. Again, she chose something that we both have in common, yet she decided on this particular pair with me in mind.

Molly's gift was a wall hanging that we saw in the window of Ten Thousand Villages just before my fateful pedicure. Earlier this week she said that it was no longer hanging in the store, which made me wish I had purchased it myself. The reason it was no longer hanging in the store was because Molly had purchased it for me. She knew I liked it and bought it. Then, to make today even better, she made my favorite dishes from Disney - Cobb salad, grapefruit cake, and Konk Koolers.

So today was the best day because my three children gave me the best gifts ever. Each gift was chosen with me in mind and represented the individual giver. Whenever I wear or see each gift, I will be reminded of them. I will be reminded that the best gifts, the lives of Sam, Maribeth, and Molly, are what truly make every day the best Mother's Day ever.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

When It Rains It Pours - Thankfully

Last night the thermostat on our HVAC decided to pitch a fit. It wouldn't do what it is supposed to do - like turn down the ac when I want it colder. It wouldn't have been such a big deal, except that it is just one more thing on my current list of things to do.

For instance, on Friday, Terry the roof man confirmed my suspicions that our 15-year-old roof is terminal and needs to be replaced. We're waiting for the rain to stop awhile so the cement guy can pour the new footing so that the sun room won't have water seep in. The sprinkler guy is supposed to return this week so that the broken/ineffective sprinklers can be fixed. I retrieved Maribeth's repaired car on Monday only to take Molly's broken car in on Friday. I know it is the rainy season in Nashville, but is it also the broke-down season?

It would be easy to sink into a pity party, wondering why everything has to be having problems and be in need of repair. But the truth is, this current time of disrepair is minuscule in comparison to the time that these broken things are working well and performing as expected. In fact, most of the time, everything goes along swimmingly, to which I rarely pay attention. It's only when I'm inconvenienced that I notice. And should there be more than one thing with problems, I assume the whole world is falling apart.

But it's not. It's just that sometimes things wear out or break down or fall apart. Things get fixed or I get a new one. Soon everything is up and running again and I go back to oblivious ingratitude. Maybe that's why things should break - so I will have the opportunity to realize how good my life is and how blessed I am.

So the next time I experience a rainy season of malfunction, I'll use it as a time of thankfulness. After all, if I didn't have those things, they wouldn't break and they wouldn't need fixing. And most of the time, my life is much easier because I have them.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Commence to Commencin'

**Disclaimer Alert** If you are a big fan of all the pomp and circumstance of the traditional ceremony known as "Graduation Commencement," do not read any further. You will probably become irritated and unhappy. You have much better things to do than get angry and write a pissed-off comment to me. Go watch Oprah instead.

This morning I was privileged to watch as Lynnette received her Master's Degree in Counseling. She also received an award for being a standout graduate student in her field (sorry Lynnette - couldn't remember the exact name of the award). Having worked her tiny little butt off for the past two years, she certainly deserved all the accolades she received. However, I personally feel that she and her fellow graduate students deserved something more - a commencement exercise that was deserving of them and all their hard work.

So, in response to my dissatisfaction with the above-mentioned commencement, I would like to leave my thoughts for future commencements, should any higher education muckity-mucks be among my readers.

1. If the event is supposed to start at a certain time, and it doesn't, please inform the audience. Some people have been waiting an hour. Outside. With small children. We need to know if we're waiting for Brad and Angelina to arrive. And to heck with them if we are - the start time was published - are you this lenient for students who arrive late to class? I didn't think so.

2. Just because you're the dean/boss/head honcho of the school, it doesn't mean you have to be the Master of Ceremonies. We know you have lots of diplomas from fancy-schmancy schools, but it's obvious that none of them are degrees in public speaking. Get somebody who can entertain a crowd. I'll bet there's even an alumni who could keep my attention better than your monotone delivery and lame jokes.

3. My bywords for today - remember who you are honoring. Yes, all you faculty members look pretty in your various lovely doctoral robes and silly hats and stoles. But why do you need to parade in at the beginning, while the real honorees, the graduates, are sitting in chairs watching? You've done your thing - sit your butts down wherever you want and stand up with the rest of us when those who earned their degrees parade in. Your time in the sunshine is not today.

4. Today is not the day to award the Distinguished Alumni Award. Have another banquet/ceremony/weenie roast for that. I don't think the graduates care - their main concern today is getting a job and paying off their student loans. They are not inspired by Dr. Whoosis who graduated way back when and has gone on to teach in college and write books and get written up in the Guinness Book of Word Records for most boring speeches. These graduates and their families have probably already been hit up for contributions to the school, now that they are officially alumni. Again - remember who you are honoring. Let Dr. Fancy Pants have his glory day on another day - nobody came to see him today.

5. Speaking of Dr. Commencement Speaker, we don't care to hear fifteen minutes on him, his accomplishments, his family, and his triumph over male pattern baldness. It's already printed on the back of the program - if we want to know about him, we will read it. Guess what - we don't want to read or hear about him - we're here for the graduates. Why not give us twice that time on the graduates? Which graduate ran a marathon/half marathon to raise money for charity AND did all that graduate research and work? Who managed to graduate and hold a full time job? Who raised kids and stayed married and will receive that diploma today? Who spent spring break building homes with Habitat, or fed the homeless, or gave blood? Tell me about those people I came to honor, not some dude I will forget as soon as he sits his long-winded self down.

6. If you insist on having a speaker, find somebody relevant. And interesting. And current. Inspire these graduates with someone who's out in the real world doing something. Get an alumni who graduated in the last five years. Get an alumni who may not have done anything that would be considered significant in the world's eyes, but helped an inner city child learn to read. Get an alumni who's back from Iraq with a story to tell. Find a speaker who will give these graduates twenty minutes of giggles and laughs. These graduates have listened to windbag professors for the past few years - give them a break today.

7. And if you happen to be the speaker, do not think you will inspire them by encouraging them to be like somebody else. Today we were told numerous times to "be like Ralph." I don't know Ralph, so I don't know that I want to be like him. But I do think all those former students waiting to claim their diplomas need to be encouraged to be themselves because of their unique talents and personalities and strengths. Encourage those individual qualities, because these people are going out into this world to share themselves. That's who they need to be like - just who they are.

8. You are an institute of higher learning - please go to the engineering department and have them design a way so that the graduates waiting in line to walk across the stage are not in the sight line of family members who want to see the actual moment of the diploma hand-off and get a picture. This is a precious moment - missed by families who were seated behind the mountains of standing graduates waiting to get in "the line." It wasn't the graduates' fault - they were doing what they were told to do - after a few years of graduate school, their brain cells needed a rest today.

9. Finally, again with the royal procession out for the faculty members. You marched out and left the graduates in their chairs and then dismissed. If your schedule is that hectic that you have to leave early, don't come at all. We won't mind. For the last time - remember who you are honoring. The graduates deserve to leave to applause and hooping and hollering. You are getting paid to sit and watch - so sit and watch.

It was a great day for Lynnette. She probably didn't care about any of the stuff above. I guess I just want the commencement to fit the celebration that each of these men and women deserve. Commencement can be dignified and regal and ceremonial. But it can also be fun and meaningful and personal - just like those graduates for whom the commencement is meant to honor.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Two More Shopping Days ...

... until Sunday, Mother's Day. If you hurry, you might be able to order some funny gifts, make some homemade gifts, mistakenly choose the wrong gift, or scurry for some last-minute gifts.

Good luck!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Mom Story in Preparation for Sunday

... and yes, it's been a slow day...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Today was a busy day. I finally cleared out the leftover clutter from the yard sale, thereby reclaiming my sun room. I uprooted the rose bushes that Concrete Dude said had to be moved before he started his work - which is who-knows-when. I managed to throw away/put away/hide away the rest of the stuff that made my house a mess. In other words, I'm back on the road to normal.

Now if I could just figure out what normal looks like, maybe I'll know when I get there!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Just One More Brilliant Idea

It all started because the back corner of the sun room continues to flood when we get our Nashville monsoons. We've tried several remedies, to no avail. After a few years of this dilemma, I decided to call a concrete man to basically pour a deep wall or something to keep the rain out. He came and designed a solution. I asked him to figure in the cost of pouring a concrete slab over the slate pseudo-patio we had installed a few years ago. The moles in our yard were not appreciative of our patio, and expressed their displeasure by bumping some of the slate pieces up so that the whole thing was a mess.

Anyhow, Concrete Dude says he will try to get out to do this little miracle by the end of this week. My assignment was to get the sprinklers rerouted (fat chance) and pull up the slate slabs. I had absolutely no confidence that the new sprinkler dude would show in time, but I knew I could pull up the slabs - I just needed someplace to put them.

Fortunately for me, I have a family that appreciates a good adventure. We rarely plan or think anything through - we just do. Today, Sam decided to join in the fun by agreeing to take custody of the slate. He doesn't have a firm plan on how he will use them, but that doesn't matter - he has a yard. So, Operation Rock Slab Transfer begins.

To add to the mix, Maribeth was due back tonight and would need her Jeep, which was still in the Jeep shop. It had been there since last week. The Jeep service man said he would call me when it was ready, but apparently forgot. I called him today and he said the Jeep was ready. So, in the midst of the slab transfer, I was also going to have to pick up the Jeep.

Anyhow, I start pulling up the slabs. Did I mention that it has rained for the past week? This meant that the slabs were pretty much in mud. This fact was not about to dissuade me from my task. I got my pick tool and started pulling up the slabs. By the way, the pick part of the tool is not fastened anymore, so it slides up and down the handle, adding to the fun. Anyhow, I pry up the slab, brush off the dirt and worms, and start loading them into the trunk of the car. Sam and I planned to meet at his house at 4 pm. I have started this task around 1 pm, so I figure I am making good time.

After about five successful transfers of slabs from mud to trunk, I notice that my car is sinking a bit. A brain cell kicks in and I realize that perhaps the slabs are a bit heavy, and perhaps it would not be wise to load the whole think into my Camry, unless I want the tires to explode. So I call Sam to see if Lynnette is home (I had called but she didn't answer - I think she has Caller ID). I explain my car/weight theory and tell him I think I will need to make a few trips, and by the way, can he take me to get the Jeep? He says yes to all, and says he will meet me at his house at 2 pm. Or better yet 2:15 pm.

So, I put a few slabs in the back seat of the car to balance it a little bit and a container of little slabs in the front to balance it out more. Because five big slabs in the trunk is equal to a box of little slabs. Maybe in space. Anyhow, I drive to Sam's house at about two miles per hour, fearing a quadrilateral tire explosion at any minute. But I finally arrive safely, back into their driveway without knocking down the back planter, and we unload the first load. We then hatch a plan of returning to my house, loading Sam's car, then he will take me to the Jeep place, where I will retrieve the Jeep and return to my house and load the remaining brick blocky things and return to his house to unload the rest. By the way, did I mention that I loaded a bunch of small slate slabs in a cardboard box? One that had been sitting outside all weekend in the humidity and probably had the strength of a sheet of paper? Oh well, that decision went along with everything else.

Anyhow, the mission went well. I went to the Jeep place, filthy from head to toe looking like a homeless person. The employees got an eyeful but said nothing - maybe they've heard of me. Sam now has a yard full of slate slabs and I have a mud pit waiting for concrete. The birds have a fertile worm harvest and I am one step closer to a dry corner of the sun room.

Anyhow, that's my Monday. What did you do today?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

When Something New Isn't What You Desired

When choosing nail color for my toes, I usually go for some shade of pink/magenta/rose. Today, I thought I would go for something different, something springy going into summery.

I looked on the tray full of nail colors, and saw a yellow. It looked fresh, and since Molly had on a yellow sweater, it seemed like a good choice. However, once it actually got on my toes, it didn't look so good. What I thought would be yellow turned out to be some color of tangeriney orangish yellow. Not exactly what I hoped for.

When faced with an undesirable toenail color, many people would stop right there and change the color on the spot. Some people would wear it home and take it off themselves. Some would just plan to wear socks and shoes until the color wore off.

But I am rarely like most people. So, my toes will remain this color for the next month, which is about how long my pedicures last. I figured I would give this color the full opportunity to gain my favor. Maybe I won't like it after all. But as with anything new, I won't really know unless I give it a chance.

Sometimes it's a stretch to try something new. Sometimes the "new" becomes a "was." But sometimes that "new" becomes "what is" - you just have to try it on a while to see.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Best Yard Sale Ever

First of all, I do not like yard sales. I do not like to haggle over prices, nor watch as people paw over my stuff, even if I am trying to get rid of it. But since I am trying to earn every donation for my Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk, I decided to host a family yard sale.

Sam, Lynnette, and Steve helped set up all the stuff last night. Because of the monsoons Nashville is having this week, the weather was going to be iffy. But we managed to get everything under the carport and in the sunroom. Sam advertised the yard sale and put out the signs. Molly, Scout, and Micaela stayed up all night making cupcakes, boob cakes, and muffins. Steve and Molly's crew made the necessary food runs. Everybody sold (even Lynnette and me, who have acknowledged that we are the worst yard sale people ever). And when it was over, everybody helped box up the leftovers.

There were many high moments. Sam selling the Cool People Care poster off my wall. Our "Quarter Table" that eventually went to "Three For A Quarter" to "Fill a Box For a Quarter." Our sales campaign of "Take this - it's free with any purchase." Friends coming by. People donating extra because of the cause. Things selling that we thought wouldn't. Dogs that came with their owners, especially the one who also had a pet goose (it didn't come).

In the end, we were able to box up the leftovers and cart them to Goodwill. We made an astonishing $1200. I had previously decided that I would share 10% of the proceeds with my sister Marilyn and my friend Emily, who are also raising money for the cause, so our yard sale extended to Baltimore and Durham.

For a non-yard-sale person, it was the best yard sale ever. It was a family time and a fun time, but best of all, we were able to raise funds to fight breast cancer. Now that's a reason to haggle and paw!

Friday, May 1, 2009

May's 100 Things

Actually, this is what's left after my getting rid of 100 things this month. If you look carefully, you should be able to ascertain what my 100 things were - you got it - all Disney-related.

I started giving away things back in April. I knew it would be a little harder, so I started early. I sent some stuff to some princesses in South Florida, some stuff to some princesses here in Nashville, and some stuff to some princesses in Baltimore. I gave some stuff to some Goodwill princesses, and the rest will be sold to unknown princesses tomorrow in our yard sale.

One might wonder how I could even have 100 Disney things, much less find that many to give away. It's really quite easy - I am a sucker for anything that Disney World has for sale, especially if it's a good deal (and for me, what isn't?).

But having to give away stuff has helped me look at my shopping habits. I am a shopper who likes to buy stuff "just in case." In my case, I had a basket full of doo-dads that I was saving to give away. But I never really gave it away - I just kept holding on to it.

Maybe I've learned something. Maybe I've learned not to buy unless I intend to use it or immediately give it away. Maybe I've learned that a good deal isn't so good if it's just going to sit in my closet for years on end. Maybe I've learned that just because I like it and think it's cute, I don't have to have it. Maybe.

I can tell you this for sure. The more I get used to getting rid of stuff, the more I am enjoying it. Maybe I can live on less. Just don't tell the folks at Disney - I don't want to imagine what kinds of deals they might come up with!