What Kind of Stories Will We Tell?

robbie

Tony’s Grandmother passed away this last week and we have her funeral this week. Anytime a loved one passes away, we can’t help but face our own lives and mortality.

Eighty-eight years.  It seems like a long time but I would bet it didn’t seem very long to Robbie. I would bet it flew by just like my forty-four years has. Years have a way of doing that. Before you know it, a decade has gone by and you’re not quite sure where it went. I’m halfway to eighty-eight already.

Robbie was a storyteller. She told stories of the Great Depression, of Gypsies, of good times and of bad. She told the stories of the people she loved; her husband, her children, her parents; and her country and it’s struggles.

My Grandmother was a storyteller, too. Being quite a bit older than Robbie, she told far different stories of the Depression and stories of wartime. She told stories of Indians and Vaqueros instead of gypsies. She told stories of rationing and an inability to fulfill basic needs.

Both told stories of a world that, really, no longer exists.  Our modern world has far different stories to tell. Our “depressions” are still times of abundance. No children starve to death, at least in the US. In wartime, our food and supplies are never rationed and are still abundant. To most people, war is just a vague 30 seconds on the news.  Our lives are far more insulated from the hardships of life than those of our Grandparents.

What will our stories to our grandchildren be? I’m afraid they will be far less colorful than our grandmothers told us.

The world we’ve grown up in has been a world of abundance. We live in a world where life is far too easy. We’ve grown fat and complacent with our own overfilled lives. Where are our stories going to come from? Our shopping trip to the mall and the perfect shoes we found to go with that dress?

It’s not enough. Although I’m very happy that our children don’t go hungry, I wonder what they are learning about life? What lessons are they going to learn from growing up in a world where they lack nothing? And can we really count on that abundance to continue? Our children would be woefully unprepared for a world of true depression or war.

My grandmother stockpiled food. When she passed away, there were canned goods tucked away in every nook and cranny of her home. She lived in fear of those lean times returning because they can, and she knew that.

Stories worth telling are born from hardship. They are born from struggle and overcoming thin odds. In a world of abundance, our stories shift to ones of little significance. Did you hear what Kim Kardashian said? Did you see Dancing with the Stars last night? Even our conversations are shallow and meaningless.

My generation at least grew up hearing these stories of hardship. Our children won’t even have that. At least I hope they don’t. But, where will their stories come from? What will their children know of struggle? Lean times are bound to return.  Will there still be anyone around who remembers the stories of difficult times and how to overcome them?

I will miss you and your stories, Grandmother.

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Spin: Enviro-Friendly Bathroom, Reality: White-Trash Plumbing

We started remodeling the house a couple of years ago.  When I say remodeling, I mean the house was totally gutted down to the studs. Every last inch of the house is new inside and outside, with one exception.  The original bathroom was left intact so that it could be used during the remodel.  For a good year now, we have had a brand new house surrounding a stuck-in-the-70’s bathroom.

We decided recently that it was time to take the “plunge” and remodel the original bathroom. We would have remodeled it sooner but, we have had a few issues with the new bathroom. Like, nothing wants to drain. We had the plumber back out a couple of months ago. He worked his magic and things were draining fine so, time to remodel the old bathroom!

Just as soon as it was torn out, Murphy’s Law went into effect.  The “new” bathroom started having plumbing problems again.  The toilet wouldn’t flush and the bathtub wouldn’t drain. To make matters worse, the washing machine in the laundry room started backing up into the bathtub that wouldn’t drain.  Our lovely garden tub suddenly looked like a cesspool of black linty water .

No amount of plunging or Drano made a difference.  Reality set in very fast.  Houston, we have a problem.  With the old bathroom torn out and the new bathroom all clogged up, we had nowhere to do our bathroom “business”.

My husband’s solution?  He did what any good West Texas husband would do.  He re-plumbed the drains to the washer and tub out to the back yard.  I’m pretty sure the plan is to leave it that way since now the bathroom works much better.

I would love to be able to say we are just awesome environmentalists whose only motive was “reclaiming” the water for watering the yard.  Reality is, we’re cheap white trash and don’t want to pay a plumber again.

I like the “awesome environmentalist” spin a lot better.  I’m just going to call it a grey-water system and pretend it’s OK.  Yes, I think I will go with that.

Welcome to my life!

Big Brother Bloomberg Can Kiss My Fat Ass

I really do try to leave politics out of my “Mom” blog, but this one has me going crazy and I can’t help it.

Big Gulp

It’s MY body and the government has no business telling me what to do with it!  How many times have we heard this when the subject of abortion comes up?

What business does the government have telling people who they can marry?  I hear this one a lot, too.

Honestly, even though I tend to lean conservative, I agree with both statements.  In fact, I lean so conservative that I’m over in the range of libertarian.  I don’t think the government should be able to tell us either one, or a lot of other things they are trying to tell us lately.

Now both of those statements tend to come from the mouths of liberals.  But, lately, these same people have taken to talking out of both sides of their mouths.

For anyone that lives under a rock and hasn’t heard, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed a ban on any sugary drink over 16 ounces being sold inside the city.

I know I live in Texas and it doesn’t affect me, but it’s bound to spread just like the non-smoking bans.

So, it’s my body as long as I’m not putting a 64 ounce soda in it?

It’s my child as long as I’m sending an “approved” lunch to school with them?

http://dailycaller.com/2012/02/14/nanny-state-report-nc-school-officials-confiscate-preschoolers-homemade-lunch/

It’s my car as long as it’s a Prius or a Leaf, but not an Excursion?

Do you know that they are even discussing a ban on large movie popcorn?

I have a big family and we don’t fit in a Prius or a Leaf.  Do you want me strapping the two car seats to the roof?  Oh yeah, they have a problem with big families, too.

If you want to go to Cheesecake Factory and order the Mushroom Lettuce Wraps and a side of Edamame, you go right ahead.  But, I’m ordering the cheesecake and you can just shut your mouth about it.  I may even eat it for my dinner.

If you want to go to McDonalds for breakfast and order the Blueberry Banana Nut Oatmeal, you go right ahead.  It looks pretty good.  But if I’m hungry, I’m ordering the Big Breakfast with Hotcakes.  In fact, is that a bit of envy I see in your eye as I pour a gallon of syrup on my pancakes?

Look, people, it’s my fat ass and I’ll feed it if I want to.  If you don’t want me telling you what to do with your body, then you better step the $%#@ back from my extra-large Coke and tub of popcorn at the movies!

I pay for my own health insurance.  And, guess what?  I pay $20 more out of each and every paycheck because I’m fat.  That’s right.  My employer does a health assessment once a year and they calculate some number based on your results.  I’m always one dang point over the cut-off for the cheaper insurance.  Do I think this is wrong?  No, I don’t.  This is a fully justifiable way of handling the problem of unhealthy people.

You may think I shouldn’t be eating what I eat.  And, you’re right, I probably shouldn’t.  But, it’s my choice and I will have to live with the consequences.  What about when they go after something you like?

When the New Yorkers came for the sodas,
I remained silent;
I don’t live in New York.

When they shut down the donut shops,
I remained silent;
They give me heartburn.

When they came for the movie popcorn,
I did not speak out;
It costs too much money anyhow.

When they came for the Ho-Ho’s,
I remained silent;
I like the Zingers, anyway.

When they came for my beloved chocolate cake,
It was too late;
The precedent had been set.

Freedom is a precious thing and it’s very easy to lose.  What is more basic than choosing what we eat?  It’s easy to justify it by saying well, it’s good for you anyway.  But, where does it stop?  It’s a slippery slope we are on and we better get off it before it’s too late.  Maybe we all need to go back and read 1984 one more time.  Or Fahrenheit 451.  How far are we from eating Soylent Green just because we’re told that is what is good for us?

What to do in San Angelo – Weekend Roundup!

I hate it when I hear someone say, “There’s nothing to do in San Angelo.”  There’s ALWAYS something to do in San Angelo!

Tonight:

Downtown Movie Night is presenting “Pearl Harbor“.  It starts about 8:45 or 9:00 (when it’s dark enough).  It’s located in the parking lot at 17 E. Twohig.  And, best of all, it’s FREE!  Bring your own chairs.  Drinks and snacks are available for purchase.

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Concho Valley Farmer’s Market

Don’t forget about the great resource we have in our Farmer’s Market, which is up and running and going strong.

It’s held starting at 7:00 am every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday until the first freeze in the fall.  It’s located at 609 S. Oakes St. (across from the State of Texas offices) under the pavilion.

Get there early to get the good deals!  You get great prices, help support our local farmers and gardeners, and can give your family the freshest fruits and veggies they’ve ever had.

San Angelo Family Friendly Events for Thursday 06/07/12

Lots out there to do today for the kiddos!

Don’t forget, this is the first week of Cinemark‘s “Summer Movie Clubhouse”.

For $1 a ticket, you can’t beat the price.  Today’s movie is “Journey 2: Mysterious Island” and it starts at 10:00 am.

The Tom Green County Library has events at both the Stephens Central Library and the North Branch.  The Central Library has Preschoolers Stories and Songs starting at 10:00 am and 10:30 am.  North Branch has “Spinning Yarns” from 2-3 pm.

For older kids and adults, all the new shows are starting tonight at the newly renovated ASU Planetarium.  For all shows, admission is $3 for adults, $2 for children, senior citizens, and active military.  There is no charge for ASU students, faculty, and staff with university activity card.

The Cowboy Astronomer“, starting at 7:00 pm,  is a skillfully woven tapestry of star tales and   Native American legends, combined with constellation identification, star-hopping, and astronomy tidbits – all told from the unique viewpoint of a cowboy astronomer who traveled the world plying his trade and learning the sky along the way.


Mars Quest“, starting at 8:00 pm,  is a chronicle tracing our centuries-long cultural and scienftific fascination with the red planet Mars.  Set in a theatrical style “three-act” form with an epilogue, it weaves an enjoyable narrative of what Mars means to humanity

Oasis in Space“, starting at 9:00 pm,  transports the audience on a startling and beautfiul voyage through our universe, galaxy and solar system of liquid water – a key ingredient for life on Earth.  The audience will view each of the planets in the Solar System using our SciDome HD projection system.

Also, as a reminder, “Fun at The Fort Concho” starts in just a few days, so you better register pretty quick!  You can find all the events and information here:  http://www.fortconcho.com/forms/fun%20at%20the%20fort%20-%20flyer%202012.pdf

Let’s have a great summer!

Tuesday Tips – 3 Tips for Easier Ice Cream Scooping

3 Tips for Easier Ice Cream Scooping | The Feed

via 3 Tips for Easier Ice Cream Scooping | The Feed.

TIP #1 Frostbite-Free Scooping


Have you been assigned ice cream-scooping duty at a party? Avoid frozen fingers by wrapping a kitchen towel around the middle of the ice cream carton and twist the ends together. To scoop, grasp the twisted section of the towel firmly; this will give you a good grip—without the frostbite.

TIP #2 Slower Melting

Summer heat wreaks speedy havoc on a cool dish of ice cream. To slow melting, keep sundae dishes in the freezer until needed. The cold dishes prevent the ice cream from cooling down too quickly.

TIP #3 Preventing Ice Crystals

When exposed to air, ice cream quickly develops unappealing ice crystals and freezer burn. To cut down on air exposure, try this method (which also frees up freezer space): As the ice cream is eaten, cut off the empty part of the container with scissors or a knife. Then just replace the lid and return the container to the freezer.

Caffeine, Because I’m a Mom and I Can’t do Cocaine

I don’t have enough time to do all that needs to be done.  I need a 36 hour day, 24 just isn’t enough.

It’s early in the morning and no one is up, not even the baby.  I know if I even breathe too loud, the little ones will instantly sense I’m up and get up too.  I could take up playing an electric guitar in the morning and my husband and teenagers would sleep right through it.  But, the little ones, any sound at all and they are up.

So, I really can’t do anything in the mornings.  And, I love it.  It’s my time.  It’s my time to read, to write, to drink my coffee in a quiet house.  The rest of the time, my house is never quiet.  In fact, it’s incredibly loud.  2000 square foot of tile and any sound made echoes through the house like it’s a canyon.  Four kids and two adults worth of noise echoing through the house makes quite a ruckus.

I am officially a morning person.  That’s when my brain works.  And my brain slowly but surely disintegrates as the day progresses.

Unfortunately, I have to go to work while my brain is still working.  I guess that’s a good thing, since I have a fairly complicated job.  By the time I get home from work, my brain is a frazzled mess.  I just spend too many hours crunching numbers and putting out fires.

I dream of a “life” remote control that has just one button – pause.  If I could just pause everything for a little while and catch up – catch up on sleep, catch up on laundry and, most important, catch up on all the things I want to do that I never have time to do.  Like writing about all the great stories and ideas that roll around in my head, but then get forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the day.

But I don’t have a remote control and I can’t change the fact that a day only has 24 hours, so the answer to my dilemma is caffeine.  I drink massive amounts of caffeine.  I drink coffee, energy drinks, and energy shots.

Yes, I know it’s probably not good for me.  But, after working all day, I come home in zombie-mode.  I just want to sit, or go to bed, or maybe even eat the children for dinner because my patience is gone.  Caffeine fixes that.

One Monster Java, and all is well again.  My brain, once again, works.  For a little while, anyway.  But, there’s dinner, cleaning up from dinner, kids homework, laundry (always laundry), and other assorted things that just have to be done.  And, boom, the brain is gone again.

By the time I get the kids in bed, I’m a frazzled brainless mess again.  And, unfortunately I can’t drink more caffeine that close to bedtime or I won’t sleep.

So, I really need some really smart nerd out there to invent my pause remote.  I can only drink so much caffeine, so it’s really the only way I’m ever going to catch up.

Conversations with a One Year Old

Having a conversation with a one year old is kind of like looking at a Salvador Dali painting. They don’t quite make sense, but they’re a lot of fun!

Daniel MUST have ice in his sippy cup.  He will not drink from it after the ice has melted.  So, the conversation goes like this:

“Ice, Mommy, Ice!”

I go fill his cup with ice and fresh water and hand it back to him.

“Oh, it’s cold, Mommy!”

“It’s cold, it’s cold, it’s cold,” he continues as he holds the cup against his forehead.

A few seconds pass.

“It’s hot,” he says.

“No,” I remind him “It’s cold.”

“It’s cold, it’s cold, it’s cold,” he replies.

A few more seconds pass.

“It’s hot.”

This conversation takes place several times a day in various forms.

We go out to get in the car.

“It’s hot outside,” he says.

“It’s hot, it’s hot, it’s hot,” he repeats incessantly the entire way to the car.

Then, when I’m buckling him in to an even hotter car, he comes back with, you guessed it,

“It’s cold!”

I do think he knows the difference between hot and cold.  But, I guess as long as he’s talking about one, he might as well practice the other.

I absolutely love watching my kids learn to talk.  The funny ways they say things when they are learning cracks me up.

For some unknown reason, Ebony used to call milk “gook” when she was a toddler.  It was cute for a while, but after many weeks of making sure everyone said “milk” right around her and she still persisted in calling it “gook”, I even took her to get her hearing checked.  Of course, she was fine and eventually she said it right.

Daniel, for a while, had a very interesting word for “fork” that can’t be repeated here!  My teenagers thought it was hilarious.  I did not.  I had to threaten them within an inch of their lives if they laughed and encouraged him to keep saying it that way.  Fortunately, he’s at least putting the “r” in it now and I’m no longer terrified to take him to a restaurant.

Madison was the precocious one.  I swear, she came out of the womb a grown up.  At two years old, she told her pre-school teacher that a boy had climbed up on top of a playhouse on the playground and the teacher needed to get him down because he looked very “precarious” up there.  The teachers were still laughing about it when I got there to pick her up that afternoon.

I know I have to treasure each moment of Daniel’s toddler years.  That time is so sweet.  In what will seem like no time at all, I’ll be looking up to hold a conversation with him instead of down.

But every age brings it’s own rewards and challenges.  Dusty is 18 and graduating this year and, even though I’m looking forward to finding out what the future holds for him, I’m nervous about letting go and letting him be his own man.  I know he will be fine, but…well, I’m his Mom and it’s my job to worry.

Madison, at 13, has just hit the teen years and it shows.  I get plenty of rolling eyes and “but, Mom!”  But, she’s also growing into quite a young lady and it’s so rewarding to see the person she has become.

Ebony, at 6, is hilarious.  Her imagination and creativity is in overdrive.  She wears me out, but brightens my day, too.  I can’t wait to see what she eventually does with all that energy and creativity.

On the other hand, yes I can…I can wait.  I want to be there for every day of it.

An Ode to Hospital Gowns

Oh, hospital gown, hospital gown,

How little you cover.

How small you look on my quite large lover.

Such a small piece of fabric,

It’s really quite tragic, 

How you add insult to injury like that!

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