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Archive for the ‘Kids’ Category

I  have fundamentals in education (play-based education/Montessori) that tend to somewhat line up with a whole other species of motherhood I can’t relate with – The Granola Mom. 

 I would say that I am a  practical and moderately conservative person in most areas; fiscally, morally, within my scope of  child rearing, and attire and home decor ( I tend to stay true to the classics and not be trendy).  I let my sense of humor and sarcasm take lead in most things and try not to be too ridgid.

I can find my same species of motherhood in this arena, but for some reason the only granola that I can stomach is the one I eat for breakfast.  I try to keep an open mind when I hear their philosophies and ideas (I have a few close friends that fall in this category), but with no avail, I just don’t get it.   This is the inspiration of Top Ten Tuesdays and is not meaning to bring offence to anyone. It is just my personal satire and opinion and if you don’t like what I am saying, then don’t read it.  🙂

10.  The Family Bed: So not my cup of tea.  I don’t mind the occasional snuggle time, but I like my peaceful sleep AND my adult extra curricular time without a foot in my back.

9.  Positive Time Outs:  What is that?  A time out should be anything but positive.  Sit your butt down, think about how you just hit your sister over the head with a toy and be lucky that all you are getting is a time out!

8.  Never Say No to Your Child, Use Positive Reinforcements:  Really, that is going to set them up for success for adulthood? I have heard NO more times than I would like. “NO, you don’t make enough money to buy the car of your dreams”.  “No, you can’t drive above the speed limit, and here is your $150 ticket.”   “NO, you did not get the promotion.”  “NO, he does not want to date you anymore.”

 7.  Never Letting Your Kids Cry It Out/Self Sooth: I have a friend that has not slept in four-year because of this theory of creating abandonment issues if they let them cry it out.  I see how that is working out for the kids and her; she is a zombie and the kids have anxiety issues.  I have two kids that sleep through the night and can entertain themselves well.  Trust me, it is not that I am just “lucky”.  I had to pay the price of a few hard nights and days getting to that point.  NO ONE LIKES TO HEAR THEIR KIDS CRY, but it is my goal to prepare them to be independent and thriving adults and teaching them self soothing skills are the first steps.

6. Mobi Wraps or Slings for Carrying Your Infant: I could never use a Mobi wrap, even though I think they are really cool.  I know I would have dropped my kids on their heads multiple times.  Now, I do think when the kid is ready for High School it is time to get them out of the sling and buy them a car. Trust me, I have seen that.

5. Breastfeeding with No Discretion:  Just whipping it out in public regardless of the setting just because it is your God-given right to do so is disturbing to me.  I am a HUGE advocate of breastfeeding, but let us use a little discretion please! We are not at Marty Gras and you will not get any beads thrown your way for doing so.  Keep second base a novelty!

4. Planting Your Placenta Under A Tree:  Believe it or not I know three people who have done this.   I get the whole primitive idea of this, but the last I checked we have babies in the hospital, we have doctor’s for fertility issues and the idea of asking your doctor to place your placenta in a plastic bucket and then carrying it out of the hospital along with your new bundle of joy is beyond bazaar to me.   I have no idea what they did with my placentas and I would like to keep it that way.  It was bad enough to have the hubs try to photograph my uterus as the doctor was sewing it up.  There are just part of my insides that just needs to stay between it and the medical professionals.

3.  Nine Page Birth Plans:  This one kills me.  As you all know from my postings, The Start of Soapbox Sundays, you know where I stand on this.  I once heard a Labor and Delivery RN say,  “When someone comes in with a nine page birth plan, that usually means they will get a one-way ticket to the OR for an emergency C-section. That is just how the karma seems to work. It is child-birth,  not a trying to achieve a business plan!” 

2.  Breast feeding a Toddler:   I had a rule that when the kids got teeth  the bar was closed and then I pumped until they were close to 12 months old.  Watching  a mother lift up her shirt for a child that walked up to the ‘bar’ and asked for a drink is very disturbing to me.  I have made an observation that it seems more boys are breast-fed later than girls.   I remember when I was in the dating pool, there was a saying, “Chici Boy” which in Spanish essentially means, still on the boob.  Now I get where that saying originated.

1. Not Vaccinating Your Kids:  As we all know Dr. Wakefield manipulated data to prove his theory that certain vaccinations caused autism.  Believe it or not, even with that evidence coming out there are still many that will not vaccinate their kids and illnesses that were once eradicated are alive and well.  Here is the question I asked myself when making that decision to vaccinate before the findings of the information was considered a fraud.  Would I rather risk a chance of autism or a chance of death? To me the answer was quite obvious.

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* I am using an image of Peter Krause since many have said that the hubs looks very much like this actor.  Peter’s current role in Parenthood, actually not only looks like the hubs, but reminds me of the hubs.   Except the hubs is not nearly as uptight.

Well, I guess it is time to introduce the guy that is behind the name of Pie Hole, that would be my best friend, thorn in my side, the one that can push all my buttons and at the end of the day I somehow like him enough that I don’t poison his food. 

This is the man who took on a challenge me (I still think he may have lost a bet somewhere down the line) and has been the best thing that ever happened to me outside of my kids, but without him I wouldn’t have them, so that makes him the BEST thing that ever happened to me. 

He can put the Pie Hole in its place and make me laugh like no other. 

He has integrity that I strive to model.

He is tight  good with money to the point I am almost certain my over a carat diamond engagement ring was once a piece of coal (if you don’t know how he could have made a diamond from a piece of coal,  please crawl out from under that rock).

He is the most amazing daddy to my girls and it brings tears to my eyes to see this amazing bond he has with them.  He is the bar that they will set for their future partners and that is a very high bar. 

He wants to run and hid when emotional issues surface (God has a sick sense of humor in trying to stretch us, he was given nothing but girls, even the dog.)  Can’t wait till the puberty years hit this house.

He is someone I admire and respect.  He respects me and cherishes me.  We see eye to eye on most everything and those we don’t we can still listen and respect each other in our stance.

He is a MacGyver  in every sense of the word.  That man can fix and do anything.  

He has a sassy mouth and has a sarcasm that can outdo me. 

He wears MC Hammer jam pants still when he lounges and it amuses many of my friends.  He actually will go out of his way to put on a pair when one girlfriend comes over. 

His friendships are deep and long and he is respected and successful at his work.

He is the current president of the National Nerd Herd Association, and noting is more exciting than having a house full of Mechanical Engineers on a Saturday night (seriously) It is like an episode of Jack- Ass meets Myth Busters without the stupid 12-year-old toilet humor.

I hit jack pot when I ran off to Vegas and committed my life to him at the “Garden of Love” wedding chapel.  He is the only stable thing I ever had in my life outside of my God-given drive to be a strong and independent person. 

He is my Polaris, my North Star.  Always there never-failing and always shining.

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I live in a community that is filled with stay-at-home moms and blue hairs.  That combination together makes for a very “narcissistic” experience anytime you go out.   Each Friday the kids and I head out to our favorite shopping experience (Trader Joe’s) but getting to and from the car can bring a level of extreme adventure to the table that could rival climbing Mount Everest in the risk and cost factor.  This is the inspiration to my Top Ten Tuesdays!

10.  When scouting out a parking spot, it is not acceptable behavior to pass by a soon-to-be available parking spot, throw on the brakes and then proceed to back up (without looking) ten spots to try to get it.  Look, you missed it, move along and give the poor schmuck behind you a opportunity to reap the rewards of your cluelessness while saving his and your bumper!

9.  I notice that blue hairs rarely ever look over their shoulder while backing out.  It is more like this; adjust review mirror, slam into reverse and hit the gas pedal.  Apparently, nothing exists beyond the scope of what is in view of the review mirror.

8.  It seems that those that are BMW owners think that the parking lot is the Autobahn.  If there is a speeding car in the parking lot, it is a BMW 99.9% of the time.  I know that the company once known for making airplanes, but that ship sailed decades ago.  You are not in an airplane ready for take off, you are in a car in a parking lot full of all kinds of obstacles, mainly me and my two small children trying to push a cart to our car.

7.  When you open your door, please be mindful of the GIANT car within 2 feet of yours.  Having your red paint scraped across my door panel just pisses me off!

6.  Mothers, when loading up your groceries, please secure your small children first.  Allowing your children to play chicken with the BMW is not going to fare well for either party.  Do you know how much BMW parts cost to replace?

5. Those that keep Cujo in the car as they run errands.  Nothing is more frightening than while getting out of your car a dog in the car next to you jumps up out of nowhere and is able to stick their head through the crack and snaps at you. Don’t make me have to use my pepper spray on the beast!

4.  Those that leave unruly children in the car, because they would be hellions in the store is not working for you either.  Yes, they are secure in the car, but jumping up and down in the driver’s seat and manhandling all the controls is a recipe for disaster.  Risk them knocking down a few display items than taking out 5 parked cars, a little old lady and her purse dog, and a parking lot light post. Trust me your parenting style will be judged about the same with less damage.  Better yet leave them at home and risk them burning down your house.  At least it would limit it to YOUR stuff being damaged.

3.  When looking for a parking spot please multi task and watch for pedestrians! 

2. When you know someone is waiting ever so patiently for your spot as you load, please  don’t decide you can shift into tortoise mode just to be a PITA.  I saw you zipping across the parking lot and loading up your bags with a purpose before you saw that someone is waiting for you to leave.  Trust me your display of new-found power is just making you look like a Jack-a-lope!

1.  PUT YOUR CART AWAY!  It is beyond me why people have issues with this concept, because they would be the first to have a fit if someone’s abandoned cart plowed into the side of their car or into their tail light.  This is not only the top of this top ten, but this is my biggest pet peeve.  If I can put a cart away with two small children, anyone can!

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A Highway Patrol Officer receives a call that a teenage boy is standing on a freeway ramp holding a sign. At the scene, it reads, “I skipped school today and my mom told me this will be my future.”

When questioned, he had been there for 45 minutes. Then the teen points across the street to his mother’s parked car. As they approach the car he states, “I can’t allow your son to do this, you both please be on your way.”

As he walks away he pauses, “Ma’am, off the record that was genius! May I keep the sign?” It now hangs in a California Highway Patrol kiosk office somewhere in northern California.

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I have  a good friend that has humanitarian as part of her DNA.  She is a child psychologist that focuses on PTSD in children and young adults.  She has led teams to Shir Lanka 6 weeks post the devastating tsunami and then did follow-up six months later.  She has traveled the world working with oppressed and traumatized people.  Recently she headed off to South East Asia to work with orphanages and safe havens for those that are fighting to stay off the radar of human trafficking and sold into sex and other forms of slavery.   This developed a passion that she is taking on and doing something about.

Currently she is trying to raise around 40k to build a safe haven for those that have their mark on them to be sold into the sex industry of South East Asia.  This is a place where these kids will live, grow up and be educated and protected from those, mostly family members, from being auctioned off for pennies on the dollar to be prostituted out at young as the age of five. 

Unfortunately, it does not just stop in the remote parts of the world.  It is here in the US in a very serious way.  There is a big question of the millions of  illegals that are in the this nation, how many are here against their will with death threats to themselves and their families if they do not comply with those that they fell into the hand of for trafficking and slavery.  There have been several sting operations that have been successful in my county alone within “massage” parlors and drug houses that is clear evidence that this is happening here on our soil.  

It just does not stop there with the US and the world having some responsibility in this issue.  Companies that take their business overseas  or across the border for a higher profit are not holding up their end of the deal on ensuring a realistic work environment that ensures safety and humane working conditions. They are not holding up their end of the deal to ensure that children are not being born into indentured families and having to work in insane work environments as early as the age of five or seven years of age.  

Free 2 Work is an organization that is slowly setting up a resource for consumers to be able to make informed decisions on the products they are chosing to buy and be able to boycott the ones that are not holding up their end of the deal of ensuring safety and humane treatment of the people who make or are a part of the manufacturing of that product.  It is graded from A-F on the US standards of manufacturing.  Obviously we can’t hold other countries to our standards, we can’t even do that without killing the profits of a company (that why is we send a vast majority overseas or across the border to be manufactured).  However, this website seems to be realistic in the fact that an A to a C- rating are companies that we can still do business with.  Those lower than that, need to get their act together and stop looking away from crimes on humanity. 

They have developed an application for your smart phone where you can scan an item and get a rating, that can help with making informed choices and not being part of enabling companies being able to profit and get away with bad horrifing business practices. 

This is something we all should think about;  it is our fiduciary responsibility as consumers to think about it. If you knew for a fact that the shirt or sneakers you are wearing were made by a child that was 5 years old or anyone of any age for that matter,  working 16-18 hours a day, never seeing the light of day, beaten, on machinery that exposes to radiation and/or no safety guards in place where there are daily amputees and serious injuries would you really want to support a company’s profits and wear that? 

Learning about this has changed our household and how we look at products before we buy them.  I wanted to get a Leap Frog toy for my child, and I will not now that I know they have a D- rating.  I love Carter’s children’s clothing, especially their jammies, but they get an F because they will not respond or communicate their business practices (which means they don’t feel they have a responsibility to be transparent to the consumer providing them their profits).  

 Free 2 Work is a good starting point on trying to make a difference in how consumers of the world hold companies accountable to just being humane. 

 http://free2work.org/home

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‘Tis the season for heading off to the mall and embracing it for all its glory.  My Christmas shopping is pretty much done, however, I headed off to the mall for a personal reason; to buy the beloved popcorn maker that was on sale at Williams – Sonoma I have been drooling over for the past month! Another outing this holiday season that is the inspiration for the Top Ten Tuesday!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Photo from Kyle Dahl

10.  The parking lot situation is less than desirable, especially in a torrential down pour.

9.  There is a Salvation Army Santa at every corner ringing that friggin’ bell.  I don’t know what is worse the ringing in my head hours past the visit to the mall or the guilt I have every time I walk by one of them and not put some coin in the bucket.

8.  The way Macy’s places displays in the middle of the aisles making it pretty much a crap shoot to get through with a stroller ( I have a narrow incline double stroller; it is as wide as single stroller), trying to keep your kid’s paws off the merchandise as you are cautiously maneuvering them around them, or better yet trying not to run over people at the MAC or Clinique counters.  Oh, the looks I got yesterday when I asked people to “excuse me”.   “Seriously, lady?  What other options do I have?  Risk running over your foot or knocking down the 8-foot display of perfume gift sets.  Let me tell you, if you don’t move your foot, it will get run over and you can go file a claim with Macy’s for their inconvenient strategic display of merchandise!”

7.  The people on cell phones or texting while walking around, totally clueless of their surroundings.  This is such a blood boiler for me.  That is why the mall has benches and seating areas.  If you wish to turn the mall into your personal social network office, then pull over and sit the friggin’ down and twitter and Facebook that you are doing your Christmas shopping and the mall is a nightmare.  NEWS FLASH: YOU ARE ONE OF THE REASONS THE MALL IS A FRIGGIN’ NIGHTMARE!”

6. When needing to get on to the elevator and the people unloading decide to stop and block the doors for those trying to get on while they are discussing where they want to go to lunch or their next shopping destination.  I have a stroller to push onto the elevator and if my kids gets clocked by the doors closing on them because you screwed around discussing if you want to go to Cheesecake Factory or just the Food Court, I am going to run you over with my loaded stroller.  PAY ATTENTION PEOPLE!

5.  The kiosks in the middle of the mall.  If I wanted to buy cheap Chinese crap from people who look like they are one day out of a state prison or a halfway house I would go to Wal-Mart.

4.  The line to Starbucks.  Since the mall does not sell booze, which I think would make the whole experience much better or at least tolerable (Marty Gras is a mob infested nightmare, you don’t realize it because all are intoxicated), caffeine and sugar are the next best thing.  Having to wait for that in a line that rivals the line for Santa is  beyond me!

3.  Other people’s kids.  Letting them run around like wild banchies is just something I will never get.  The world is not every kid’s play ground.  

2. Standing in line waiting to purchase your goods and having to hear a woman on her cell phone yelling at her mother that she is an enabler and all her 9 year-old son wants for Christmas is that his uncles get off the hooch and meth.  Now, this did make me fill a little better about my Christmas family situation.  At least there will be no tweakers at my table this year!

Photo from Kyle Dahl

1.  When you see that there is people standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the first and second floor of the food court that may be a sign that a major tragedy is in the forecast and it is time to un-ass the area.   Nothing would make it a holiday to remember by having the second floor collapse while waiting to hear Handel’s Messiah in a Random Act of Culture moment.  Go home and play the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and enjoy your festive egg nog and avoid the Random Act of Culture turned breaking news nightmare.

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A quick order of housekeeping.  Today I have been on double duty for Top Ten Tuesdays and  was also  featured on the recently Freshly Pressed blog of  The Life of Jamie as her guest blogger! Thank you Jamie, it was fun!

In almost every town in America there are certain neighborhoods that ban together and go all out decorating their houses for Christmas.  They are a festive bunch that are willing to invite all of the public into their neat and tidy cul-de-sac streets and manicured sidewalks.  They even make sure they park in their garages so there are no cars on the street for optimum Christmas light viewing.  Their kids pass out home-made cookies and hot coco and there are even little bins where you can dump your expired canned goods to go towards the homeless.  Yes, it is a bit of Mulberry in the new millennium.  But like anything wonderful and soulful, there has to be a group of jack-a-lopes that have to go and ruin the fun. 

Yes, I am going to bombard everyone with my 12-days of Christmas crap inspired moments well into the New Year!  This moment inspired me enough to make it part of my Top Ten Tuesdays! 

10:  If you decide to bring your dog please clean up after it.  Nothing spreads the smell of holiday cheer than dog poo on the bottom of your shoe which transfers into the car!

9.  If you have kids that must wear roller skates, ride a scooter/skate board or even a bike make them risk it in the middle of the street with the drivers not paying attention to their driving and more to the Whoville exhibit.  I would much rather them get hit from behind than me or my small children.

8.  If you are driving to the area and wish to park and walk the neighborhood, please pay attention to where you friggin’ park.  Seriously? Parking right in front of the house with the Charlie Brown Christmas exhibit works for you?  At least you could pull up six feet and not be blocking Snoopy and the Woodstock!  Really, I saw a whole family in a mini-van do this two nights ago.

7.  If you are going to partake of the goodies supplied by the local kids, give them a buck and pack out your trash!

6.  Don’t allow your kids to play tag in the sea of cool inflatable Christmas characters.  Someone is going to trip over the tie downs and get hurt and somehow it becomes the owner of the house fault.  Again, another true story only in Southern California my friends.  Now you know why Gloria Allred is so successful!

5. Why does someone feel compelled that as long as it is dark outside that it is OK to wear jammies.  It is 6:30 pm, it is not even prime time TV time yet. This goes along with my whole thing with middle-aged women not wearing jammies in public.  

4. You are not cool cruising up and down the streets standing up through your sunroof texting!  What do you think this is? South Beach? Jersey Shore? The only thing that is out looking at Christmas lights are annoyed husbands, grumpy grandparents, screaming kids and frumpy housewives. 

3. Be mindful that there are others wanting to walk along the same sidewalk as you.  So stopping in the middle of the sidewalk while texting, attending to a needed item within your stroller or adjusting yourself is considered rude and it holds everyone hostage to your narcissism. 

2. If you chose to drive instead of walk, turn off your headlights, everyone’s retinas will thank you!

 1. Parents when you let your kids get hopped on Starbucks and then they are running a muck and smack into me or my small child, do not get testy with me when I “accidentally” push them into a bush to slow them down. “Opps, I guess little Timmy should have been more careful on where he was going!  That bush just came out of no where!”

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When I was  about six or seven we lived in California.  My dad was gone a lot, doing who knows what , and I was left with my first step mother her daughter that was six years older than me and my youngest half-sister that was just a baby. 

 Let me back up a little.  What I mean by who know where my father was, meant really that.  He would just disappear for weeks, not leave much money, we had no transportation, but could walk to the store if we needed food, again that is if we had enough  money.  As mentioned before my father was a Vietnam Vet that was still trying to adjust back into reality and was not doing that well (he is doing amazing now and has turned out to be a good dad to his adult daughter and a wonderful grandfather.  I would never call him a great father, because he was not that when I needed him to be and he owns that.  He has a strength that I admire so much in him.  He made tons of mistakes and big ones, but he owns them all, turned his life around and polished up his heart of gold and made himself a success story – there are still issues and he does like to push buttons, but he conquered his personal Everest!).  

During this time, my step mother would make these dolls, I called them Pee- Pee Dolls, because that was exactly what they were.  They were made out of nylon stockings and fluffy felt.  They were little cave men and when you would lift up their beards, their pee-pee’s would pop up.  I was part of the assembly line on those projects and I think that is why I abstained from sex until well into my twenties, those things scared the death out of me. Anyway, we had three next door neighbors in their late twenties and early thirties that always  participated in flea markets selling their art and willow furniture they made.  They would take bags of this Pee -Pee Dolls and sell them for her.  With that money we would have money for our daily needs.

If things were a bit tight and there were no cave men to sell, these next door neighbors would bring us bags of groceries and check up on us a couple of times a week and do odds and ends around the house if needed or just be a companion for my step-mother to smoke weed with and socialize.  They were very wonderful men, beautiful men, the kind you could stare at all day and never get bored doing it; they each looked like a member of an 80’s hair band. They had great patience with us and even took interest in our pictures we drew, stories we waned to be read, you know kid stuff.

One day my step mother explained to me that our neighbors were gay.  I responded to her, “I know they are happy, they are the nicest people on the street, why wouldn’t they be”.  She laughed and left it at that.  She realized that child like perception was the best way to look at life. 

We moved away a little while later leaving my father there and lost touch. Over the years I always wondered what happened to them and wished I could have thanked them for their kindness.  My grandmother told me that they moved to Wisconsin and opened a restaurant (since she owned that house we lived in).   A year ago, I was having a conversation with my Aunt (not related to my father) and somehow this story came up.  When I said Wisconsin she asked if their names were Jim, David, and Jessi.  I was floored! How did she know them?  Apparently, the world is a small one and when it comes to antique dealers and ex husband’s ex wives.   Turns out my aunt’s ex-husband and father of her son married a woman who was friends with them and they were all antique dealers (they are now divorced).  They all moved to Wisconsin and they started a restaurant and antique shop.  Within twenty-four hours of that conversation, I had a phone number and was calling these three angels from my childhood.  I could finally thank them!

The phone call was a bit of a shock to them and it was a bit of a shock to hear Jessi passed away about ten years ago.  It was a great conversation and I could tell that they were genuinely happy  “gay”  to hear from me. I was able to thank them and they were able to hear good reports on how it all turned out.  I could tell they were proud and honored that I made an effort to contact them just to say thank you.  We never exchanged information, we just left the conversation the way it was and hung up.  I feel that for some reason both of us needed to have that happen, not sure why, but it did.  

Those three men were my first introduction to the gay community and I was blessed to have them in my life.  With that experience, I could never hold prejudice or malic towards someone because of their sexual orientation.  What someone does in their bedroom is less concerning to me than what someone does out among society.  These young men were kind, caring, loving and thoughtful.  They showed compassion to a woman and three children, they were even kind to my father.  They understood that he was messed up from the war, and even though they did not like what he was doing, they were kind.   I cherish this piece of my history very much.  It was part of the molding process of understanding what being a kind and tolerant person is about.

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Well, I am back, and Top Ten Tuesday’s will be kicked back into gear with one of my favorite holiday past times, Cyber Mondays!  Thanks to the Idiot, he was the inspiration of this post.  My experience was a polar opposite of his. There were no error messages or having to toss the computer around.  However, there was a ton of chain-smoking and caffeine involved!

Need I Say More?

Black Friday- Really People Enjoy This?Need I Say More?

                                                                                                                                               VS.

Nothing but a Zen Moment!

10.  No one has to get up after eating turkey the day prior at some ungodly hour (2 am) and have to load up on a huge amount to of caffeine to try to counter act the tryptophan effect!

9.  You are not having to stand obscenely close to strangers that smell funny.  Trust me, what Thanksgiving meals do to some people should never be relived, especially in a “boob to back line”!

8.  You get to stay home in the comfort of your jammies and look stupid doing it, but no one cares.  Seriously people! If you have time to put make up on, you have time to put some friggin’ normal clothes on! Jammies only look cute on 2 year olds, not middle-aged women.

7. The only risk of injury is carpel tunnel, not being trampled to death by an obsessive mob wanting the one of three dancing Mickey Mouse dolls, that will only drive you crazy after the first hour of the box being opened.

6. Coffee always tastes better at home.

5. I can be at my favorite ten stores at the same time!

4. I can yell at my kids with “Leave Mommy alone, go play!” and, ” Don’t bother me, Mommy is shopping right now!” without anyone giving me the evil eye of my bad parenting moment.

3. I don’t have to worry about the risk of my kiddos finding out  what “Santa” gets them. It comes to my door in a box and goes straight to the attic until Christmas Eve wrap-a-thone!

2. I am guaranteed not having to schlep all the gifts for out-of-town friends and family to the post office, stand in line for most of the holiday season and pay an enormous shipping fee.  With one click of the mouse that whole experience fades away and it is always free shipping!

1.  The only holiday season a–holes I have to deal with are the over exhausted, but very attractive UPS/FED EX drivers, which a plate of cookies and bottled water  remedies any ill feeling towards my address.

Happy holidays to all your fantastic blog buddies!

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Today is Veteran’s Day and since I am a daughter of a Vietnam Vet, I sit and really think about this day and what we are truly observing.  I will never fully understand what the Veterans of this nation from any war has gone through and are currently going through, but I have a compassion and honor towards each and every one of them.  The below post is a piece of something I have been working on for over ten years.  It is the birth of a book. 

 I remember walking in the cold and rain past the Korean War Memorial and its frozen majestic metal soldiers.  The dogwoods were in bloom and blossoms were falling with the steady sprinkle of the rain.  I caught one in mid-air before it could reach its final resting place; it was delicate and perfect.  I placed it behind my ear under my hood and continued on my journey.  My purpose was to pay respects to a man who had fought for this country beside my father.
As I made my way up the sidewalk I saw a black structure ahead. It seemed to grow in size as I drew closer, and suddenly I was enveloped in an ocean of black stone walls with numberless engravings.  I was unprepared for this; I had heard that The Wall was big, but that was a gross understatement.  I had no idea where to start among the many flags, flowers, family pictures, unopened letters, and poems left at the base of The Wall.  Then I noticed a kiosk a few feet away where there were directories.  I flipped through one as if I were trying to look up the local pizza parlor.  Eventually, I found the name and location code.  I was on a mission, still very detached from what I was doing; it was exactly like solving a puzzle.
As I walked down the sloping sidewalk, the wall seemed to grow even larger and the engravings became recognizable as individual names.  My heart beat faster; I felt hot and sweaty beneath my raincoat and my throat tightened.  I was beginning to understand that this was not just one of the many tourist attractions of the Nation’s Capitol, but was instead a horrifying reminder amidst this beautiful setting of manicured dogwood parks, majestic granite, and immaculate walkways; a perfectly evanescent of Viet-Nam.

I could not grasp the sheer number of names on that Wall.  It seemed to go on forever, with each name representing a family, a wife, a lover, a friend, a son, an enemy never reconciled with… but most of all a life never truly lived unto its fullest.  How did this happen?  How did it get so far out of hand?  Those were the questions that ran through my mind as I finally found the name for which I was searching.   It was too high for me to reach; I found a step stool provided by the groundskeepers, pulled out a pencil and a scrap of paper and began taking an impression (never suspecting that when this mere scrap of paper, when presented to my father, would cause him to fall on his knees and weep as no one had ever seen before). 

 As I rubbed, I began thinking about his family and those who survived him.  How they must have felt so robbed and betrayed by death, the Government, and the senseless war he fought.  He was very young — in his prime — and it never should have happened.  It never should have happened to any of them.

I left the dogwood blossom that I had caught earlier on the ground just beneath his name, and an undeniable truth suddenly occurred to me: The Wall is not big enough… it is missing numberless names, and for countless reasons!  Most particularly, the names of the survivors with whom these men and women took their last breaths.  My father is one such survivor.  The guilt that he bears on that account is just another death sentence awaiting execution at any time.  He is only the least bit better off than those veterans who have lost their minds, their self-respect, and who sit outside the local grocery store hoping for a handout.  Likewise the veterans who didn’t make it even a decade past the war, whether death was by their own hand, or drugs, or alcohol, or violence.  And you must include the veterans who cannot cope without substance abuse or some toxic relationship to dull their pain.  Their widows, their ex-wives, their estranged family members, their forgotten high school classmates, their neglected children who forfeited childhood because their fathers lost all enthusiasm, compassion, understanding, and their once responsible outlook on life… they must be included in the list of casualties.

At that moment, standing in the rain and looking at my reflection in The Wall, the child of a Vietnam veteran, I knew that this Wall did not only memorialize the tragedies of those engraved upon it.  I realized that this Wall was only prologue to another war that will be fought for generations yet to come.

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