Saturday, December 31, 2011

Page Me 2011

My reads for 2011:

A Fine Balance, Rohinton Mistry
The Good Husband, Gail Godwin
The Paper Men, William Golding
The Road, Cormac McCarthy
Teacher Man, Frank McCourt
The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman
The Book of Ruth, Jane Hamilton
Crazy Love, Francis Chan
The Wedding, Nicholas Sparks
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J.K. Rowling
The Lacuna, Barbara Kingsolver
Heaven is For Real, Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent
The Orchid Thief, Susan Orlean
Redeeming Love, Francine Rivers

I loved reading the Harry Potter series.  So much fun.  And now I can participate in all those conversations.  Are you Slytherin or Ravenclaw?  Who wants some butter beer?  
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver has one of the most unexpected endings EVER. It took me a LONG time to read this book, but that was because my schedule was been crazy. Authentic, lovable characters... some actually real people...  Thank you, Katie, for the recommendation!

My friend Sandi insisted I read Heaven Is For Real and loaned it to me. Thanks, Sandi! I read it in one afternoon. Lots of tears for me.

I thought finishing The Orchid Thief would kill me. Which would have made an interesting obit.  Laborious. Possibly the worst book ever. Yes, there might be some exaggeration in that statement.  The research in the book was thorough...

J.O. loaned me Redeeming Love.  Thank you for providing a fabulous day of reading.  Perfectly coincided with my reading of the account of Hosea and Gomer.  A "bad" woman being pursued by a man of amazing character. What's not to love?

 The Paper Men.  Golding has a way of investigating the nature of man that is both disturbing and accurate.  A different voice than that of Lord of the Flies.  His take on the disintingration of relationships in the absense of societal rules is similar though.    

Looking forward to finishing up the books I'm halfway through... I failed to complete three that I wanted to finish. Here's to good reading in 2012!  

Monday, December 26, 2011

It Was THAT Kind of Christmas

You know the kind where you hear comments like this:

"I don't want to hear anything else about the Holy Grail; I want you to eat your lunch."

Yep, that about sums it up.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

If Forty-One Is As Good As Forty, I'll Take Two

Yes, it's my birthday. I'm 41.

The birthday fun and surprises have already been far more than I was expecting.  I threw a surprise baby shower at my home on Monday night.  Was I ever surprised!  My friends brought party hats, cake, wine, and cards that totally cracked me up for my birthday.  I wish you could read these cards.  My friends know me and my sense of humor so well.  Yes, you can be jealous; I have wonderful friends.
Oh, and I'm currently tucked under the covers! Mr. Incredible got me a fancy, new netbook for my birthday.  He couldn't stand keeping the surprise any longer. He gave it to me on Saturday.

About a month ago Mr.Incredible asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday.  Three words: Laser Hair Removal. Not the ones you were expecting?  Well, I've asked for this for eight years. It's what I really wanted, and I bought myself a package of 6 treatments.  I'm over the moon with just the thought of throwing away that bottle of Nair.  So much hair we have to worry about.   At least it's not growing on my back or in my ears.  But, I did not make an appointment for hair removal for today.  I don't want to be in agony on my birthday.  I'll be sure to give you a review of the process when I do go though.

Instead, we went to Six Flags for Christmas in the Park with one of our favorite families. Fun!  

It was all I could do to shake off this creeper who kept getting in line behind me.

Not afraid to wear girl hats in public.  Most manly.

This trip around the sun has been amazing.  Quite possibly my favorite yet.

The surprise parties!  Both of them! Nothing beats William walking into my kitchen as I sat braless at the table.  Thank you to Mr. Incredible for making my 40th year less about hitting a cetain age and more about having fun and celebrating.

My sister all weekend.

PandaMom and I bravely rode the train into New York City and almost came to fisticuffs in Madison Square Garden. "WE ARE NOT DOING THIS RIGHT NOW." We learned that a pedicab ride was as close to death as we wanted to come.

Oh, Hail! I hailed a cab. Myself. I was irrationally afraid to do this.

The sheer bliss of the Met. Sorry for dragging you around all day, Pandamom.

Derby. Derby. Derby. Where have you been all my life?

RollerCon.  That's all you're getting out of me.

Bonus goes to school and gets smileys almost every day!

NOG gatherings.

Tears and laughter at Starbucks or Corner Bakery or our living rooms or kitchen tables.

Those are just a couple of my favorite things from forty. Too many fantastic memories to list.  Good thing I blog.

Who knew last December 22 what unexpected adventure this year would hold?  Certainly not I.  Forty was a wonderful year.  It's a shame it had to end.  I'd do it all again!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Yeah, Yeah, I'm talking about myself again

Recently, (okay, day before yesterday) I started reading a blog called Musings of a Shiny Penny.  Alana made a list of 25 things she loves about herself and encouraged her readers to do the same. I've made lists of 50 reasons why I love my husband and why I love my dear friend PandaMom, but I haven't made the same type of list about myself.  I've been thinking about the things I love about myself in the days following the writing of my post Mirror, Mirror, and I've decided to take Alana's encouragement and do something about it.

25 Things I Love About Me

1.   I can laugh at myself... most of the time. 
2.   I am genuinely concerned about the people in my life.  I really do want the best for you even if we don't agree on what "best" is. 

3.   I can take my feelings, put them in a poem or a post, and have people say, "That's exactly how I feel." 

4.   I wear sequins to the grocery store because it's Tuesday.  It's fun.  Try it!

5.   I'm always willing to give people a second chance or a third or a fourth or more.  Probably because I need all the chances you can spare.

6.   I consistently rock the high heels.  The higher the better. And when I say rock, I do mean ROCK.  What's not to love about hot pink patent leather peep toes? 

7.   I see my children as real, imperfect, flawed people like myself.  I'm not a "super mom" (banish the very idea), but I am a good parent.

8.   I can find at least one beautiful, attractive, or redeeming thing about anyone.
9.   I can see both sides.  I may not agree with you or believe in it, but I can generally understand how it is possible for you to believe as you do.  At the same time, if you want to know what I really think, ask me.  I will tell you my position.  I'm not afraid to stand up for what I believe in.  I own my opinion.    

10. I will quietly tell you if you have spinach in your teeth, toliet paper on your shoe, or if your fly is unzipped.  I'm protective of the people in my life.     

11. I have nice eyes.  They look golden in the sunlight.  Someone once told me it's because they reflect my heart.  Wasn't that a fantastic thing to say? 

12. I listen.  I love to hear people's stories.  My favorite way to get to know someone is to say something like, "You are 14 years old.  Go!" and then just listen.  Of course, sometimes I HAVE to interject, give a hug, or agree in the middle of the story!

13.  I make people feel safe when they talk to me.  People are not afraid to tell me really personal things about themselves. Sometimes they are complete strangers at Taco Bueno.  Or my doctor.  The doctor thing is a little awkward.    

14. I rarely give up on my dreams.  I finally cashed in on my dream of playing roller derby.  It took me about 32 years to get to a place where it fit into my life, but I'm doing it.  Derby rocks the socks.  And our socks rock, too.  Especially my glow-in-the-dark socks.

15. I have a fabulous memory.  I'm grateful.  It helped me pass many courses. 
16. I give lots of hugs.  I'll touch you when we are talking. 
17. I'm still learning.  Fortunately, I love to learn.  Sometimes I learn that I'm wrong.  I'll come back and tell you later if I learn that I was wrong.  It might be ten or twenty years before I get the chance, but I'll hunt you down to tell you.   

18. At times I laugh so hard that I pee in my pants. In public.  And that's why my nephews lovingly refer to me as Aunt P.P.  And sometimes, I snort, too. It's good to laugh that hard. 

19.  I'm not very squeamish.  In other words, I can do head wounds or splint the bone that is sticking out of your arm.  I'm decent in medical emergencies.  I'm fascinated by the human body and all it's wonderfully, fearfully made parts.  Actually, now that I think about it, I'm just fascinated by people in general.  People intrigue me.

20.  I can still do the splits.  Left and right leg.  It's a great party trick. 

21.  I don't always do, say, or think the right things, but I want to.  I think wanting to is half the battle. 

22.  I want to be alive when I die.  I don't want to be complacent.  I don't want to shift into neutral and coast.  The race counts for just as much as the finish line.   

23.  I'm generous with my time and money.  I will make time for you if you need me.  I love to surprise people with little gifts when it isn't a birthday or a holiday.  I especially love symbolic gifts. 

24.  I show up.

25.  I think words are important.  I can be snarky and sarcastic when we are kidding around and having fun, but when we are truly talking to one another, I want my words to be a gift to you.  I try to be encouraging. 

I'm different from you.  We don't have the same number of hairs on our heads.  No one has irises or fingerprints just like mine.  I am me, and being me is fine.  It's more than fine; it's perfect.         

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

World Premiere

For those of you in far off places who have wanted to see me skating, here's a small chance.  A group of students from a local university made a short documentary about roller derby starring our league.

My interview was after a hard, sweaty practice.  It's hard to make sense or look glamorous after you have been hit for two hours. 

My favorite part is when Little Annie Orphan Maker kisses my helmet.   

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gold Medal!

I recently attended an art reception honoring children whose artwork would continue on to the regional level of the National PTA's annual Reflections Program.  Miss Noteworthy received an Award of Excellence (the highest award at the school level) for her artistic interpretation of the theme "Diversity Means...".   And, yes, I am one proud mama.  Of course, hers was the best!!! 

Miss Noteworthy's piece Two Worlds

I love her piece, and as soon as I walked into the gallery, I knew it was hers (she had completed this piece at school, and I had never seen it.).  It took my breath away to see her interpretation of the theme.  Her mind is a beautiful, creative place, and I am so proud of her. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pardon the Dust

I'm refurbishing (who furbishes?  look it up, it's a word.)  my blog to bring you a whole new look.  Code-diving can wreak some serious havoc, so if things look crazy... well, consider the source.  And then, please stay tuned and be patient because like myself, the blog is a work in progress. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

Last Thursday after derby practice, a most gorgeous and wonderful derby sister (you know who you are) said, "Reckless, I wanted to ask you a question."

Well, I, of course, immediately thought we were about to venture into a conversation about all things derby.  You know--wheels, plates, pads, hits, chips, dips, chains, whips.  Average derby repartee.

Instead, she told me that I'm radiant.  And I was stunned.  She said that she loved me but that she hated me because I glow (I knew what she meant about the hating part.).  She wanted to know what I use on my face to get that look.  She wondered if I use sake' (which I might try now that I know about it...).  I told her that I really don't use anything special.  I occasionally get a facial.

She went on to say that I can pass for someone in my twenties when I get all dolled up.   


I thanked her but told her I thought she must need a new prescription because I'm not kidding myself thinking I might pass for a girl my twenties (I cannot remember the last time I got carded and I do go places where one would be carded, so....). 

She continued insisting that I am radiant.  And each time she paid me a compliment, I killed it.  I'm a compliment killer.  I slaughter them. I'd like to say I graciously accept compliments about my appearance, but I don't.  I appreciate the words, but I don't know how to deal with them from most people.  And in general, it's because I don't agree.  I just don't see it this way.  I don't think I'm especially ugly; I just think I'm extremely average.  So, if people say otherwise, I get an urge to argue with them and get them to restate their words in a way that is more inline with my view of myself.  Usually, I am able to suppress this urge and simply say, "Thank you" (and then do an internal eye roll), but at times I verbally disagree with the praise.   The only compliment she gave me that I readily agreed with was that my husband is smokin' hot.  He's totally eye candy.  I can agree with that because that is really a compliment about him (And, yeah, he gets them all the time.  Ask him about the woman who stalked him and gushed over his eyes in The Krogert yesterday.  In front of the children.).            

This whole exchange with my derby sister caught me completely off guard, and leaving the rink I literally felt off-kilter.  I stumbled through the doorway of the rink, knocked my bag over twice in the parking lot, and about fell over when I hoisted my bag up into the truck. I thought about her comments the whole drive home and then relayed them to Mr. Incredible when I arrived there.

And, of course, Mr. Incredible told me that her words were spot on.  But, he's my husband, and he gets paid piles of cash to say that.  And there I go again.

I continue to work on the impulse to talk my way out of a good word.

So, I've spent the last couple of days pondering about and ruminating on my penchant for murdering kind utterances about my appearance and my abilities and things people like or admire about me.

You see, I still have to try very hard to ignore and turn off all the little tape reels that have constantly played in my head since I was a teenager.  The mixed tapes that say I'm not good enough or pretty enough or smart enough.  Because I'm very quick to agree with anyone who is critical of me (especially me), even if the criticism is only perceived in a tone or a look or is entirely untrue or undeserved.  And if I agree with the mixed tapes, then they were right all along, and that's a lie.

Now, at the same time I'm not going to jump all the way over to the other extreme of overly confident and having an inflated view of myself either.  That's not me.  That's not the answer either. 

I'm trying to pinpoint the balancing point between being proud of one's self and joining the ranks of the ascetics. 

Does anyone know where that location is and how to live there consistently?  Five dollars cash money for the first of you who produces a map.  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

That's One Way To Freeze Your Butt Off

The other morning after the children had been delivered to their schools, I decided to take one of my famous bubble baths. I headed upstairs to start the water and add the bubbles. As the tub was filling, I undressed and then I thought I would like to read in the tub, which is not an uncommon activity for me.

I'm reading A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, and while it took me several attempts to get past the first chapter, once I did, I'm hooked. I'm loving this story that takes place in India.

At any rate, I checked my nightstand, checked the counters in my bathroom, and then, I remembered that I had taken the book in the car with me the day before to read during a time I would be sitting and waiting.

I grabbed my towel and headed down to the garage.

Now, I have frequently stated that if my neighbors haven't seen me naked, they haven't much tried. I'm just like you. I make dashes to the laundry room to fetch the shirt I want to wear that was hanging up to dry.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that Mr. Incredible, who would normally be tucked safely away in his office, was sitting at my desk using my computer because of the untimely and most unfortunate demise of his work laptop (his new laptop made it's way from Shanghai to Ankorage to Louisville, KY in the last 24 hours...keep your fingers crossed that it crosses our threshold this very day!).

Heading out the door that leads from my home to the garage, I think nothing about the fact that I have no clothes on. I'd grab my book and be in the deliciously steaming tub in no time.

Enter the funny guy.

When I reached into my van to retrieve my book, I heard the lock turn and the chain being put on the door.


I knocked on the door.

No answer.

I knocked and yelled, "Very funny. Let me in."

Mr. Incredible unlocked the door, opened it as far as the chain would allow, and said, "Who is it?"

"Ha. Ha. Very funny. Let me in. I'm naked out here."

To which Mr. Incredible replied, "I'm not sure it's a good idea to open my door to naked people in my garage."

And shuts the door.

Did I mention that it was below freezing outside? And I was standing in nothing but a towel.

So, I knocked again.

He cautiously opened the door and peeked out from behind it.

"Oh, it's you again. Put your clothes on, and I'll let you in."

"Let me in. I have no clothes on."

"You should have thought about that before you went out into the garage naked."

He looked over toward the garage door opener buttons that are right outside the door. I thought we were about to have a throw-down. Because I wasn't about to allow that door to go up. He must have seen the sheer horror on my face and thought better off it.

The door slid shut. And I heard his feet pad along on the tile floor. He was headed back over to the computer.

You know, it was funny that first two times, but at this point I was freezing my cojones off. Not that I have cojones, but you know what I mean. I was cold. I had no shoes. I wasn't dressed for the wintery morning.

And I had a flashback to an event circa 1987. My sister had just gotten out of the shower, and for some reason, she was downstairs in her towel. We started squabbling, and I opened the front door, shoved her outside, GRABBED her towel, and locked the door. I left her standing naked on the front porch while our neighbor, the beautiful senior in high school Kurt Sine, pumped iron on the balcony across the street. I didn't leave her out there but for a minute. And trust me, I got the crap beat out of me when I did open the door. And I got grounded for the millionth time when my parents heard of the torture I had subjected my little sister to, too.

I knocked a third time. He did not answer.

And I started to think he might really let me stay out there.

Apparently, I deserved to be standing naked in my garage.  I knew that somehow my sister, all the way in southern California, was hearing ringing bells and having people congratulate her that justice was finally served while my feet were turning into popcicles in my garage.

I backed away from the door and started toward the van. I knew that at least one child basically disrobes in it everyday, so I could probably find something warm in there with which to cover myself. I could get in and sit there, and I could read because I had my book in my hand. It was looking like it was going to be a stellar day.

Just as I reached the van, the chain rattled, and the door swung open wide.

Make no mistake about it;  I RAN into that house. Then, I punched Mr. Incredible in the arm and told him he was mean and that his little joke wasn't cute or funny.

And then I started laughing hysterically because it was funny.

I think next time I will remember my robe AND slippers before I venture out into the garage. I make no promises about changing my naked ways when I sprint to the laundry room.