January 26, 2011

Two Suns in the Sunset

Pink Floyd, The Final Cut 1983

Last week, I hosted a Snow Day Playdate with the Backyard Neighbor and the Next Door Neighbor - it was interesting because all 3 of our boys are going to Kindergarten this fall, yet none of them will be on the same schedule. We are doing Afternoon Kindergarten, the other neighbors are doing All Day Kindergarten and Morning Kindergarten, respectively.  I am so grateful our school has such flexibility.  Full Day Kindergarten simply would not work for us, but I like that parents such as my Backyard Neighbor have the option for Full Days.

This week, I am submitting the paperwork to enroll Anjali into pre-K.    In the spot on the form for "Child's Fears" I could not resist my answer of "Her brother beating her to the last cookie."  Seriously, if you want to watch my little girl lose her frocking mind?  Just watch Arun beat her at anything - the sprint to the last cookie, the race to the car, the race to let the dog out of the crate, the race to the last puzzle piece.  She is obnoxiously competitive.

I blame Manoj.

In the space for "Any special information that would help the person taking care of your child" I did refrain from writing "full body armor or at minimum, a fencing outfit". I held firm! See? I just might make a pitstop in purgatory instead of careening past on my way to hell.  There is hope.

Oddly, I have my head and heart wrapped around the fact that Arun is going to Kindergarten in the fall.  Fine.  I am fine.  Really! That kid is SO ready and he will turn 6 in October. Shove the little bugger out.  I am done with him anyway. Tired, worn out model. I want upgrades! However, Anjali going the following fall?  Is dicier because she is a summer baby and we aren't entirely sure if she will be ready for Kindergarten the following fall - which is why I have been thinking about the Kindergarten topic with her already, since I have to sign her up for pre-K now. This minute, in fact.  Hurry, hurry, hurry!!  Your child's entire educational future is at stake right this very minute.

Okay.  In all seriousness, the director of her current school said that knowledge and language-wise, she will certainly be ready.  What we are waiting on is the social maturity.  So, for now, she will go on to pre-K and we will play the rest by ear.  It is not the end of the world, either way.  Really, it is not.  But it cracks me up how easily one could jump the cliff and lose a few marbles over it.

It just seems early,  I guess.

When I first began working for our now-defunct business, one of the first things I did was clear out the dining room and make it a place for us to actually use and hang out in (as opposed to using it for an ancient Indian burial ground of Junk).  Seriously, this was the best idea ever.  The kids love hanging out with me - cutting, drawing, pasting and generally, making messes while I pretend to be productive.  Everyone wins.  This snap is from the afternoon they spent making Valentine's Day cards.  And yes, I know my dining room is stuck in the 90s.  I kinda liked the 90s. 

Someday I will get my chair back.  

It takes my breath away at how quickly my babies are growing up.

The last time they sit in my lap for a snuggle, will I realize at that moment that it is the last time?

January 21, 2011

The Gnome

Pink Floyd, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn 1967

Norman's 1/10/11 Status:

After that snowstorm was over?

Norman's 1/19/11 Status:

What a loser!  He has a frocking shovel, you would think if he had half a brain, he would have used it to get a jump on shoveling his sorry gnome ass out when he had the chance.  For Shiva's sake, his little buddy Newman is crouching and has no shovel and now, you can only see the teensy point of his hat.

RIP, Newman.  We hardly knew ye.
And yes, the Christmas lights were still out and on.  What part of "Oliver" do you people not understand???

Nobody gets me.

So! at some point this week, I morphed from a stay at home mom sorta person to a person with a J-O-B which is not blogging related whatsoever and pays real currency (as opposed to free samples of chewing gum, bacon-flavored lollipops, meat thermometers, and hand soap.)  Go me!  The transformation was not magical, I am not sparkly or bloodthirsty (much).  No, it was far more urbane than that - involving upgraded resumes, scanned contracts and signatures.  And poof!  I am no longer a slacker, eating bons bons while watching my stories as my kids hover in saggy diapers -- now, I'm a worker.

For those of you just joining the circus here, I have long been vocal about how much I love staying home with my kids and how little of it actually involved staying at home.  I re-read those posts and they still stand mostly true, with adjustments for maturity in my children.  And myself.

Also, I love my crow served warm, smothered in Cholula sauce.

I do love staying home and I am mixed about this working gig.  However.  This opportunity that came was too good to pass up - it is part-time, from the comforts of my dining room and is in a professional capacity with a manager who is willing to be flexible (he has already offered the use of iPad as an entertainment option should I need to bring Arun along to a meeting).  It requires using dormant skill sets which need to be updated.  And it is in the financial services industry, which has long been my favorite of the industries in which I have experience.  I have always been interested in risk management, in particular, fraud prevention.  This is a great time to ramp up my knowledge in that area and get on board with the new legislation.

Quite simply, I would have been a colossal idiot to not jump on this opportunity.

Truly, the timing of this offer was terrible.  Our schedule is crazy, with Arun and Anjali in school at different times.  On Mondays and Wednesdays, in particular, I am at home in 1-2 hour increments with FOUR separate trips to their school scattered throughout the day.

However, the timing of this offer was also perfect.  On the days that we are home, Arun and Anjali love hanging out together and playing.  I can squeeze in the work hours needed, while they play the 100th game of "Koopa Kids" (don't ask, I have yet to figure out the rules.) I can work in the evenings or the weekends. Additionally, Manoj has a lot of flexibility with his own schedule, so we are able to trade off on duties.

I am really nervous, I have mixed emotions but mostly I am excited.  And intrigued.  I am not sure how much I will talk about my work life here, but I did ask Lag Liv for advice on "blogging about work" and she wrote a post about it.  Feel free to comment here or there if you have additional pearls on blogging about work, or even working life/balance with kids in general.

Historically, I have been pretty bad about balance - if I was needed at work, I always tried to be there.  But now I have kids, so the gig has switched up on me.  Oh sure, I have worked with Manoj in the past, but it is a very different situation working with someone who shares a vested interest in your kids taking a nap or not melting down from sheer boredom. Indeed.

Anyway, I will stop there.  I have more to write about as I figure this out - meal planning, hobbies planning, "how to not lose my mind" planning.  You know. The usual.

For enduring that drivel, I am going to throw out some Simian Snappage and then run away.....

I have started a Flickr set called "Fashion Victim"  because even Coco Chanel had to begin somewhere.  Also, if anyone has tips for how to get my daughter to wear something besides summer skirts and dresses in the middle of January (Cheese and fries!!), I would be appreciative.  Furthermore, half of her wardrobe is deemed unacceptable due to a dearth of bows, ribbons or flowers.  So much for all of that careful garage sale hunting and clearance rack scuffling last year.

I love this picture with Lucy snuggled up so close to him.

We have a "backyard" neighbor where we share a backyard fence.  On snowdays, we trade playdates to ease the boredom and cabin croup.  What is hilarious is that to get to each other's houses, we have to completely bundle up and trudge around the block through the snow.

January 13, 2011

When the Tigers Broke Free

Pink Floyd, The Final Cut 1983

Listen up, yesterday's post was tongue-in-cheek -- a sarcastic romp via a superhighway of parody.  If you would like to read an actual thought-provoking response to the Amy Chua article, then I highly recommend poking over into Faiqa's place, where she talks about her own experiences growing up in a household set with high expectations.

Do I think all Indian men are spoiling their kids rotten?  Nope.  Do I know a mega ton of Indian parents who have spoiled their children in the early years, only to crack the educational and behavioral whip in the later years?  You betcha.  And that was sort of my point.  Kind of.

Yes, it is true that I believe Manoj to be way too lenient with our kids.  It is most certainly true that he rolled his eyes at Arun's chore chart and that he snorts (with vigor!) at my suggestion we get Arun on a soccer team.  We do disagree a bit about how best to raise our kids, but we find our common ground.  The chore chart still hangs, whereas Arun has yet to join a soccer team (and probably never will, because we agree it would be fun, albeit not important.)  However, I would not be surprised if later on, my kids are shocked to learn that their IIT, Ivy League educated father will not back down when it comes to academic achievement.  Will an "A-" or a "B" be good enough for Manoj?  Time will tell.

Better enjoy those raw sugar packs now, kiddies.  The end is nigh.

Some of Amy Chua's article did not surprise me - I went through a "Chinese author" spate of reading a few years back and have read everything Amy Tan has written, in addition to some other Chinese authors.  Kitchen God's Wife, anyone?  Her descriptions of Chinese Mothering were fairly spot on, from what I have read in the past.

However, a few things DID surprise me about Amy Chua's article. First, I knew Chua from a previous book, World on Fire  so  I was mildly surprised to see a professional such as herself reveal such personal, intimate details of her parenting style, perhaps not realizing how awful some of them would make her appear.  Or maybe she did know.  Maybe that was the point, to stir controversy.

I was also surprised to the extent with which her husband disagreed with her, yet she still continued when some of her actions.  Yikes.

And while I was not surprised at the blanket outrage towards the article, I was surprised how few folks gave any credence whatsoever towards some of the things Chua had to say.  In fact, Faiqa's post is incredibly valuable in this because she does validate, in part, a small piece of what Chua was trying to achieve while still expressing concern in Chua's method of delivery.  And one important bit really concerned me - all parents do not want the same things for their children.  I know some folks truly believe that participating in a sport activity is critical to their child's development (personally, I do not.)  Also,  I read a blogger who is going to pack her kids up in an RV for a year and travel the country.  While I am actually excited to read about their adventures, I would not want this for my own children.  However, I do not judge her for this because those are her children and she wants different things for them. Different does not mean wrong.

Or superior, for that matter.

When Manoj and I argue about disciplining our kids, he asks me "Why are you so hard on them?"  My answer is ALWAYS this:
"Because if I don't expect 100% from them, no one else will.  No one else cares about their success like I do."  

Oh sure, my kids will come across teachers here and there who form a vested interest in their success, but seriously - the world at large will not weep too many tears if my kids end up academic and/or professional failures.

I do not talk about my paternal grandmother much here.  I really should, because most of my readers have no idea how incredibly central she has been (and still is) to my life.  She spoiled us with toys and clothes when we were young, but she had strict behavioral and academic standards  -- we were expected to follow them.  She also helped pay for part of our college education, so there were some financial strings attached as well (which was absolutely fair because it was HER money.)  Growing up and through my 20s, I desperately wanted her approval and I never felt like I got it.  Finally, when I was 30, I understood.  She loved me but I had to accept the fact that I would never completely be the sort of person she wanted me to be.  And that it was okay because she still loved me.  Now that I am older, I appreciate that she did not coddle me and tell me something was okay, when it really was not.  

Most importantly, I also appreciate that she was my grandmother, which is a slightly removed relationship from a parent.  I cannot imagine living in that sort of environment with a parent.

Chua's article (and book? which I will never read) provides some good topics for discussion, I wish more folks would loosen their defenses, hop off the mind-numbing bandwagon, and really think.

Okay, I need to publish this and get back to work.  This Prairie Dog Mother really needs to research how to get past Mugley's Mound in Donkey Kong Country.

January 12, 2011

The Trial

Pink Floyd, The Wall 1979

I have always had a nagging sensation that  I was not quite good enough as a mother.  Something was lacking, but I could not put my finger on it. Something....something....something.... What could it be, I always wondered?  I mean,  I know I can do better but how?

Well, thanks to Amy Chua, I now know that a Chinese mother is superior.  And last I checked, I am most certainly not Chinese. Way to take the pressure off, right?  Thanks, Amy!

Cue the Greek chorus, folks.

Despite my maternal deficiency that resides in my white skin and mid-western breeding, I do have a significant trick up my sleeve. That is, when I am not busy driving my kids to harmonica lessons, arranging playdates for them, or playing Super Mario Bros with them.

However.   Lest you think that I am rending my garments and bemoaning my mid-western culture, 'tis not a problem, Gentle Reader. Ah yes, while I am most certainly a lost cause, there just might still be hope left for my own precious progeny.  Perhaps.

You see, I have a Cobra Daddy.

Cobra Daddy?  What's that, you say?  Well, they come in an assortment of flavors and colors! They generally hail from the sub-continent of Asia (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and in a pinch, Sri Lanka).  For myself,  I chose a delightful varietal from Kerala, India, in a lovely sepia tone with smoky hints of mocha that resulted in some pretty darned cute kids.  I also went "Catholic with an Anglo last name", which downplayed a chasm of cultural issues for us.  Try it, you might like it!

So, what makes a Cobra Daddy special?  Oh trust me, Gentle Reader.  When your Cobra Lover morphs into a Daddy, the transformation is spectacular!  Don't forget your sunglasses.  Our house is now like a constant rave around here sans glowsticks and the goddamed disco ball. Which leaves Guess! Who! to fill the role that can only be referred to as the Enforcer (hint: Me!)  But that's okay, because as long as the kids don't cry, then we are totally cool.

You see, that is the #1 Article of Faith by which a Cobra Daddy lives:

Children shalt not cry.  Ever.  

Want to sleep in your parents' cozy bed, little fella?  Just cry and your Cobra Daddy will whisk you out of that crib faster than you can shoot that pacifier outta your mouth.  Speaking of pacifier, what the hell, woman? Give me the real stuff, you lactating loser.  Cobra Daddy to the rescue!  By the way, little fella, you look a little cramped. Perhaps, Cobra Daddy should move to the other room.

Don't want to pick up your toys?  Just cry and your Cobra Daddy will tell your mama what a relentless nag she is.

You want to wear the sparkly, satin party dress in 15 degree weather, baby girl?  Just cry quietly and before you know it, your Cobra Daddy will be fumbling with the sash.

You want ice cream at night, just before bed?  You want a West Highland Terrier instead of a Labrador Retriever? You want 10 packets of raw sugar, just before dinner?  You want to watch Shaun the Sheep for the 5th time in a row? You want Ovaltine in your milk?  Just CRY, goddammit.  CRY.  Cobra Daddy has your back.  No worries, dude.

Chore charts?  Cobra Daddy rolls his eyes.

Acting classes? Cobra Daddy cackles.

Soccer?  Cobra Daddy snorts.

Dance?  Cobra Daddy shrugs.

Art classes?  Are you fucking kidding the Cobra Daddy?

I wonder what would happen in a Parental Thunderdome between a Tiger Mother and Cobra Daddy?

I'd pay good money to see that show.

January 11, 2011

The Thin Ice

Pink Floyd, The Wall 1979

I have been clearing through some boxes of paperwork and clutter the past week.  Per usual, I came across a huge pile o' Indian rupees.  Enough to make a whole mess of beggars get their lungis in a wad..  Disconcertingly, discovering a pile of rupees invariably makes me feel like I've won the Indian Powerball even though I know damned well I only found enough to get me a mango lassi and maybe a streetside chole (without hope of it being served in a clean bowl.)

As I shot Arun a 5 rupee note, I watched his eyes gleam with greed as his thumb caressed the bald forehead of Gandhi.  With excitement, he exclaimed "Can I buy something at the Indian store now??!!"  Mind you, the Indian store here, in Overland Park, KS.  Not an Indian store in actual India.  Although, to be fair, both probably feature the same bright, cancer-laden candy coated in saccharine and Shiva knows what else.  The same candy for which Arun would gladly hand over his soul (maybe), his dog (possibly), or sister (probably).

Oh, Christ on toast, how tempting it is to let him loose with that 5 rupee note at the Indian store.

All 10 cents of it.


What has prompted this spurt of recent productivity is the off-chance that this potential contract work comes through.  So, I am sifting through mail from 2009, discovering birthday cards from my early 30s, and pictures from ultrasounds long, long ago.  Ah yes, trips down memory lane abound.

Furthermore, for this job,  I needed to update my resume.

Resume.  Hmmmm....  I seem to remember something about that.  A 2 page document. Had my name on it.  Definitely my address.  Probably some details about previous professional positions I have held.  Perhaps an objective carefully phrased, comprised of ridiculously lofty hopes and dreams.

Gentle Reader, I must confess.  When I waddled my plump pregnant rump out of the Federal Reserve in June 2005, I did not look back.  And I certainly did not update my resume as I headed out the door.  Ha!  That would have been the smart thing to do, no?

Smart?  We don't need no stinking smarts! 


I did come across a hard copy of my resume (for you Youngsters, that means PAPER and INK).  Tellingly, I immediately detected it was missing my married last name.  It also included references to my former experiences in RACF, TopSecret and other rad War Games Worthy mainframe data security packages. And it had an address in which I have not lived since 2002.


I knew there was a copy hanging out on our Mac, the same computer which has ground to a halt (Reason #278974 why we will never own another Apple computer EVER). I could SEE the damned document with my own two eyes, yet there it remained.  Trapped in its beautiful, white modern cage of glowing plastic.  So pretty.

However, I was certain that I had a backup somewhere.  Somewhere.  You see, that resume indicates that I have held more than one position with the title of "information systems auditor" - a key piece to many an audit program....disaster recovery....data backups. Ah yes, I am the Queen of the Backup. 

As I furiously dug through closets and storage totes, my panic increased.  While I may be The Queen of Backup when it comes to data, conversely,  in the area of organization, I am the Queen of the Damned.

Finding these did not help:

For those of you only accustomed to these newfangled "CD" and DVD" thingies, those brightly hued squares are called Zip Disks.  And oh my, Youngsters - at one point, they were the BOMB.  They were 100MB of pure, raw data storage. Totally HOT.  And the colors!  So pretty! You could coordinate your data!  Que magnifique!


Judging from the Sharpie'd labels on these disks, I thought it important enough to store some South Park shorts (Star Wars, anyone?), some stuff from Music Match (WTF?), some Malayalam wav. files, backup stuff from an old job (Stop, Thief!), something titled "Fun Stuff" (NOT porn, I promise) and........ my resume.

My resume.

After completely freaking out.......  After digging through not one, but TWO spare bedrooms' worth of storage........ After sifting through a smorgasboard of cabinetry downstairs.......I found my resume.

Neatly stored on a CD.

In my dining room.

A mere arm's reach from where I sit currently, typing this very post.

Precisely where it should have been all along.

Of course.

January 4, 2011

Atom Heart Mother

Pink Floyd, Atom Heart Mother 1970

A post that banishes me to the dungeons of mommyblogdom.  A post....about......my children. With opinions, scanned artwork, sugary snaps and cute stories.  In vernacular.

Commence screams of horror.

At least I do not include Tales of Bodily Function.  I do have standards, as low as they may be, they do exist.

Anjali: Joseph and Mary walked to Bethlehem.  And baby Jesus knocked and knocked and KNOCKED.  The innkeeper opened the door and said "all the rooms are TOOKEN!"  And he SHUT THE DOOR!  Then, Joseph and Mary walked back to NazeraHAM.

Arun: All the good guys in my mouth kick the germs OUT of my mouth and into OTHER people's mouths and that's how they get sick.  Right, mama?

Obviously, my comparison of anti-bodies to ninjas was not such a stellar idea.

Scene: I spy Anjali hanging by her feet and hands off the banister at the TOP of the stairs.

Me: Anjali, don't hang on the banister like that. It's dangerous.  You could fall down the entire flight!
Anjali: MAMA. I'm just being a KOALA.
Me: Fine, be a koala, just do it at the BOTTOM of the stairs.
Anjali: MAMA.  Koalas hang HIGH on the branches.  Not LOW.

Obviously, I am no fun and have the imagination of a gnat.

I only write this for that one mother out there who is at her wit's end with toilet training.  Fear not, I am not going to offer any details other than this:

It is okay to wait until your child is actually ready.

Long ago, a friend told me "Kelli, you can't make a kid eat, sleep or poop."  Words to parent by.

With both kids, I conferred with the director of their school and with both kids, the director was adamant that most toilet training involves training the parent as much as the child (constant reminders, having to do everything from undressing to placement on the toilet to wiping)  She is a huge believer in waiting until the child is independent enough to do most of the activities on the toilet alone.  She also advocates waiting until spring time, if possible, since it is easier for the kid to deal with less layers of clothing.  I am so grateful that she and I were on board with this topic - I cannot imagine how stressful it would have been had she pushed the early toilet-training.

Don't get me wrong - I have witnessed, with my own eyes, a kid begin to use the toilet at 18 months with little intervention by her mother.  That little girl was ready and she wanted to use the toilet.  However, far more often, I have seen parents determine that a 2 year old MUST use the toilet and then I watch them struggle and battle it out for the next year.

With both of our kids, we bought them underpants at the age of 2 and began the Potty Talk and videos and books.  Then, we simply waited until they were able to do most of it by themselves.  With both kids, they were not ready until they were nearly 3.5 years old. However, with both kids, toilet "training", per se, took a maximum of 3 weeks, with a minimum of accidents (Arun was good to go after 2 weeks, actually.)

I cannot lie - it totally sucks having people exclaim incredulously "your 3.5 year old isn't potty-trained yet?" as if they are "late" on some incredibly important milestone that might delay their entrance into Harvard. However, I sucked it up and carried forward.  I have no regrets and if we were to have a 3rd kid (we are NOT), I would do nothing different.  I would simply wait, all over again.

Again, if you were an early potty-trainer, that is fine.  I am writing this for that one mother out there who truly does not believe her kid is ready and would prefer to wait until her kid is mostly independent with it.

We still co-sleep.  I have written some about this in the past, I am not going to revisit why we do it.  Again, if you are a crib-sleeper, more power to you.  This bit is for that mother who doesn't want to do cribs.

Co-sleeping absolutely was the way to go for us.  I really regret wasting all that money on a stupid, over-priced clothes hamper crib.  Manoj claims that he is done with sleeping with Arun, but when Arun slept in his own room for awhile, Manoj admitted missing him.  Heh.  Anjali is not moving out any time soon, with which we are completely fine.  I know generations after generations of co-sleepers who managed to move into adulthood just fine (my own dad, my sister Jill, and my own husband were all co-sleepers.)

One word of caution, though.  There is a brand new hazard to co-sleeping and it is absolutely imperative I warn you of it:

Pillow pets

These days, I sleep with a dolphin.

God, I am SO tired of "princess this, princess that".  GAG ME WITH A TIARA.  The other night, Anjali declared she was going to be a princess when she grows up.  Arun informed her "Anju, princesses are only on TV and in games."  Let us leave the cautionary tale that is Lady Diana Spencer for a later day, right?  After learning that Princesses are not a real career option, Anju declared that she wanted to be a girl pirate.  I told her she'd need to relocate to Somalia for that, but let me tell you, twisted humor is lost on the pre-schooler set.

Next to princesses, I am tired of DRESSES.  Last spring, via clearance and garage sales, I carefully put together Anjali's wardrobe for this winter, only to witness her summarily reject the majority of it because it involves SHIRTS (Gasp!) and PANTS (Gasp!) , which are apparently only for lowly commoners, not she of the Princess and Pirate caste.  Double pox on you if the colors involved are not a delicate shade of pink or purple.  Red is allowed on occasion, if the mood strikes (and only if it strikes, just so.)  Blue?  What the hell, woman?

Frankly, I am not convinced in her ability to choose her own outfits.

For I am now uploading scannage of my kid's crappy artwork.  Gentle Reader, I suggest you unsubscribe while you still have your faculties about you.


A. George
Mario Fights the Piranha Plants, 2010
Ballpoint on spiral notebook paper

Housed in the collection of Mrs. Kelli Courtney Oliver George

January 3, 2011

Green is the Colour.

Pink Floyd, More 1969

Note: This post will be poorly written because the hamsters are awake and screeching..  My mind has been all over the place emotionally this past month.  The year is ending and a new opportunity recently presented itself, which has left me rethinking everything.  I need to get this out before the hamsters stage a protest.

In the early 90s, I bought a set of translucent, green drinking glasses from the WalMart in Lawrence KS.  They were cheap, most probably Anchor Hocking or Luminarc. But holy crap, they were great glasses - durable, a perfect size, not too heavy, not too fragile.  Perfect.  Over the years, I changed apartments in Lawrence, then moved to Kansas City, then moved to St. Louis, then moved back to an apartment in Kansas City, then to a townhouse, then finally to here.  Our home.   By the time I arrived here in 2004, I was down to 3 glasses. 

And then there were none.

I cried in early 2010 when that last glass was broken (Sniff.) I had kept it hidden in the back of the cupboard, but that was not enough to save it (thanks, Manoj.)  And yes, I actually cried while my husband looked at me as if I had lost my mind (I had.)  But you see, I simply love, love dishes, china, glassware (LOVE.)

Actually, it is a passion that I have always shared with one of my oldest friends, Mindy.  In fact, Mindy also loved those green glasses after seeing my new purchase and bought herself a set after she had seen mine.  Such a sheep, that Mindy.

A month ago, I went to visit Mindy.  We have been friends since I was a senior in high school in the late 80s.   To have such a friendship? One where the person has known you at your very, very worst and less often, at your best and yet she still calls you a friend?  One who still has your back even after watching you literally grow up before her eyes? One who understands your complete history and with whom you can begin a story in the middle without starting from the beginning and still, she nods her head knowingly because she is so well acquainted with the cast of characters?  One with whom you can settle back into her couch and tell her your hopes, dreams, frustrations and actually receive gentle encouragement, honest feedback with no coddling?

I would wish everyone could be so lucky. Yes, I would wish that for everyone.

During our visit, she got out those green glasses for us to drink from and we laughed at the history, our history.  When you have been friends with someone throughout your 20s and 30s, you have many, many stories.  Although, admittedly, many are not fit for publication.

That evening, Mindy and I tried to see if we could find another set on eBay.  No dice.

So instead, she wrapped them up for me to take home.

When it comes to relationships, I had a sad year in 2010.  However, it was nice to finish the year on a positive note.  One that had me thinking on that long drive back home to Kansas City from Mindy's home in Topeka.  A pleasant evening spent with such a friend had me realizing with clarity what I want from relationships from now on. (I would also like to give a shout-out to Dawn - a new friend with whom I have had some conversations about this topic that hit hard.  And also, I must mention Brit - she who has been more than a friend to me than she can ever imagine.)

In the past, I have not formally done resolutions for the New Year.  I like to ponder the previous year, yes.  But I have made life changes in June that have stuck - I quit smoking in June 2000 and in June 2009, I began a regular, consistent exercise routine.  In short, if it is the right time for a life-affirming change, I do not believe a person should wait until January.

However, last year, I broke tradition and I made a formal Reading Resolution -- it was actually fun and worked out quite nicely (I read 50 books last year).  This year, I am making another Reading Resolution (to read 12 Classics - please feel free to tell me your personal favorite Classic - I am still making the list.)   I have also decided to add a Knitting category (one full pair of socks and one full pair of mittens. Oh, sure, I've made singletons but left each buried deep in my knitting basket, to fester in a purgatory of mateless spinsterhood).  And for once, I am actually working on the Exercise category - my current routine is boring and I would like to spice it up.  I am thinking of adding yoga twice weekly (I suppose I need to decide quickly before the first week of the year ends, eh?) 

And that is it.  Simple, specific, attainable.  Most folks make a huge mistake in their resolutions - they don't make them attainable or specific.  It is poetic to reach for the stars, but not very practical.  Make your resolution is something that you can actually DO.  Make sure it is specific (Hint: if your resolution includes the word "more", then it is probably not specific)

Recently Mom-101 wrote a sweet post about having one word set the tone for the year, rather than making specific resolutions.  Then, Meagan wrote a post about it that really brought it home for me and made me see, quite clearly what my word needs to be this year.


I let myself get too scattered with too many distractions - too many blogs in my reader, too many crap shows on the DVR, too many magazines piling up, too much time spent aimlessly following the lives of people I do not even know in person, too much white noise that muddles my mind.

This year, I need to Focus.  There are reasons why.  In early December, I was contacted for a potential part-time job.  If it happens, I would work from home in a professional capacity that takes me back to subject matter in which I have past experience.  I will need to get up to speed with new regs and legislation with which I am not familiar  (namely, The FACT Act, the Dodd-Frank Act Gulp.)  The hamsters are waking up, folks.


So.  I am canceling a magazine subscription, cleaning my feed reader, looking at the DVR recording list with a ruthless eye and I am examining relationships.  I am using this week to tackle a few projects that have been lingering.  And I am going to clean the house from top to bottom.


If this job happens, it is very clear to me what I need in my life to keep my sanity.  Obviously, I need my husband and kids.  I need my books.  I need my yarn and sticks along with a few television shows that I truly enjoy while knitting.  I need my exercise.  I need a close circle of friends who reciprocate with their own small digits of free time.  I need a clean house.

I know I can still have all of these things if I just focus.


Bonus Simian Snappage Which Just Happens To Fit Today's Post Title But Not Much Else.
If your kids were hanging out in their pajamas and gnawing on stalks of raw broccoli for breakfast, you would also take a snap. Do not lie, Gentle Reader.  God is watching and he will smite your ass.  Or pop a cap in it.  He's hardcore like that.