November 30, 2004
When People Don’t Act Like They’re Supposed To

I’m working on not letting other people “get” to me but I still haven’t mastered it. Possibly I’m too easily bothered. Why can’t everybody be more like me?

You know how you’re supposed to look at yourself to see what personal issues are being mirrored back to you when someone or something drives you crazy? How supposedly the annoying qualities in others are actually things that you yourself need to work on? Sometimes I can see it, if I look hard and am really honest about it. Other times I think the theory is complete bullshit.

I’m thinking right now of someone who aggravates me and the things about this person that I don’t like. None of those traits or behaviors are like me. Really. I have my issues but those are not them. Unfortunately I can’t get more specific because we’re dealing here with classified (read: family) information.

Maybe what I need is a personal catchphrase—something I can repeat to myself when certain people are driving me crazy. That might be better than biting my tongue so hard that it hurts. Frank Costanza (George’s dad on Seinfeld) had “Serenity Now!” Remember that episode?

Frank: "Serenity now! Serenity now!"
George: "What is that?"
Frank: "The doctor gave me a relaxation cassette. When my blood pressure gets too high, the man on the tape tells me to say 'serenity now!'"
George: "Are you supposed to yell it?"
Frank: "The man on the tape wasn't specific."

While I ponder what my own calming mantra should be, let me share some other strategies that I’ve come up with so far. As we’re heading deeper into the holiday season, you too may be dealing with people who are not as reasonable or enlightened as yourself so consider these approaches:

1. Eating Halloween candy that should not even be in the house anymore.

2. Laughing at the absurdity (noting that Ambrose Bierce defined absurdity as “a statement or belief manifestly inconsistent with one's own opinion.”)

3. Venting on your blog in a vague way.

4. Realizing that an expectation that things will ever be different is dumb. Accept that some things are not going to change.

Peace be with you.

November 22, 2004
Report Cards, Family Style

On Friday afternoon, K. and I participated in our very first parent-teacher conference. We expected the meeting to go well and the kindergarten teacher confirmed that J.’s doing great—both academically and socially. The report card that we took home included comments such as “J. is an outstanding student!” “She is a beginning reader at this time.” and “She is a good friend to others!”

So what were we, her parents, like when we went to school? While I was an honor roll student, one of K.’s claims to fame was being voted “Life of the Party” by his senior class. It’s interesting how our personalities and skills show up early in life. For kicks, I decided to look at our old school records—I hoped to find information going back as far as kindergarten, where J. is now.

Shall we compare Mommy and Daddy’s report cards from back in the day? As I suspected, I was an excellent student from the beginning. My kindergarten progress report states:

She learns quickly and seems to retain the knowledge well. She seems eager to learn, has an active mind, a good speaking vocabulary, and a good background of information…

The teacher also said:

She is a leader in the group, is dependable, accepts responsibility, appears happy, relaxed and secure with the teacher and the group. She listens without interrupting, respects the feeling of others, is self-reliant and self-confident and alert in following directions.

See? I was a model student. Let’s take a look at K’s records now. You can see how he took a slightly different approach in the classroom. There wasn’t much in his kindergarten report but subsequent grade reports show the following:

"K. is a very capable student. I will continue to work with him on exhibiting more self-discipline at the appropriate times.” (grade 2)

“Good peer relations.” (grade 3)

“K. is especially well-liked by his peers (and his teacher!). Now with spring in the air, he needs to work very hard for self-control.”

“Too social!” (grade 5)

“K. has been a fun student. He is an excellent and well-poised oral reader and speaker…” (grade 5)

J. would probably enjoy hearing those comments about her parents. But seriously, what I’ve learned as an adult is that there are different roads to success in life. If we play to our personal strengths, we have the best chance at achievement. While I’ve done well professionally using thinking skills and following the rules, K. has built a successful career in sales using his best talents, which include his social skills and likability (plus, of course, a lot of hard work). We hope that J.’s first, positive evaluation is an indication of a bright future doing whatever she wants to do!

November 16, 2004
Is It Really That Time Again?

You don’t want to hear this and I don’t want to say it, but there are 38 shopping days left until you-know-what.

I’m one of the annoying people usually done with my shopping by this time, however that is not the case this year. I am fortunate in that several of the more daunting gifts are out of the way, i.e. parental in-laws, my mother and my husband; plus I have most of the girls’ things. I should feel good about that but truthfully, circumstances made those presents easy.

On my husband’s side of the family, we’ve started drawing names instead of buying every single person a present. They are People With Everything & Money To Buy More types, plus there are a bunch of nieces and nephews. The four adult couples (including us) now draw another couple’s name and spend about $100 on them. The children each draw a name as well, and spend about $25 on a gift for the chosen cousin. For the second year in a row, we drew K.’s parents as our giftee and bless their hearts, they told us want they wanted. A nice, stainless steel toaster oven, which I found at online in the right price range. Hooray!

I’m also done with my Mom’s gift because there were a few things that she didn’t receive as a wedding gift that she wanted. When she last visited, she mentioned one of those items to me and I went out and immediately bought it. There’s also something that I usually get her each year that I can’t mention (a subscription to a certain magazine—shhh) because there’s a good chance that she is reading this.

Now, a confession. K. and I are very lazy about holiday gifts for each other. We often get a household appliance and call it our gift to each other; this year is no different. We’re about to remodel the half bathroom downstairs and the project is going to cost more than we saved for it (what a surprise). So we’re calling the extra cost to complete the project properly our mutual gift.

Does this look like a girl who loves Care Bears?

Both daughters would be happy with a Care Bear themed Christmas. I already got them a few new bears (ones I never heard of, since the CB makers keep producing new characters just to keep my visa card active) and a Care Bear DVD from Costco. I also did a stealth Target run after dinner one night last week and got a few other, non-CB gifts for them that I’ve stashed in the closet.

You may also recall that both children’s birthdays are within two days of Christmas (December 23rd and 27th) so I need to buy gifts for those occasions as well. I know what they want for their birthdays and I think I’m going to get it for them: pet fish. Kind of hard to hide though.

Unfortunately I can’t just sit here and pat myself on the back for what I’ve planned and accomplished so far because there is more to be done. I still have a bunch of shopping to do and I ask you, if you have any gift ideas for dads, siblings, or 7-8 year old nieces, to please speak up. Or if you’d like to tell me what you’d like most for the holidays, I’m listening.

November 12, 2004
I Can Relate...

"Three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do."
-Jean Paul Sartre

November 08, 2004
When In Doubt

Stop and get gas for your car, even if you have some left?
-Yes. A full tank is quite satisfying.

Snuggle with your kid vs. anything on your to-do list?
-Yes. Always.

Whistle in a public place, particularly a store that I’m in?
-No. Never OK.

Eat leftover Halloween candy?
-Yes, for 7 days. Then step away. (Self? It’s over. It’s November 8th.)

Go somewhere alone (without children) for a couple of hours if your spouse is offering you a “hall pass”?
-Leave. Say goodbye and don’t look back.

Watch Angels in America?
-If you have an open mind and six hours, I say yes, absolutely yes. It’s quite something.

Kiss your five year old, even if she gets annoyed?
-Sometimes it can’t be helped. And when she wipes it off, taunt her with, “The love’s still there!”

Pumpkin Spice latte at Starbucks?
-I say no, they’re yucky. Your call.

Do something nice for someone, “just because”?
-Yes, right away, before the inspiration’s gone.

November 03, 2004
Things to Think About

Perhaps you could use a bit of levity today? Area 51 offers some things to ponder:

If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.

One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor.

If man evolved from monkeys and apes, why do we still have monkeys and apes?

Isn't it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do "practice?"

Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? Are they afraid someone will clean them?

If a pit bull humps your leg you'd better fake an orgasm.

Light travels faster than sound. That's why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Live every day as if it were your last. Eventually you'll be right.

The easiest way to find something that's lost is to buy a replacement.

How come when you open a can of evaporated milk it's still there?

If a thing is worth doing, it would have been done already.

Why do you press harder on a remote control when you know the battery is dead?

Why does your gynecologist leave the room when you get undressed?

Why is it called Alcoholics Anonymous when the first thing you do is stand up and say, 'My name is Bob, and I am an alcoholic?'

Why does mineral water that 'has trickled through mountains for centuries' have a 'use by' date?

Is French kissing in France just called kissing?

Why the sun lightens our hair, but darkens our skin?

Why you don't ever see the headline "Psychic Wins Lottery"?

Why "abbreviated" is such a long word?

Why the man who invests all your money is called a broker?

Why they are called apartments when they are all stuck together?

Why is a package transported in a car called shipment, but on a ship it's called cargo?

Why is dyslexia so hard to spell?

Why is Lisp spelt with an "S"?