Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

This was a last minute book club change. At the last book club meeting, a couple of us mentioned how hard a time we were in reading the current selection that we decided on "fluff" material instead. And thus, Twenties Girl was chosen.

What a great choice. I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book. I read this (435 pages) in just two days (which is amazing for me). I could not put it down.

Lara is down and out.

She just lost her beloved boyfriend Josh. Her parents are nagging her about her life. She quit her job to go into business with her BFF, who abruptly became MIA and left Lara to deal with everything.

Then she meets her great-Aunt Sadie. And life changes drastically for Lara. Why? Because great-Aunt Sadie is dead.

And this becomes the story of Twenties Girl.

This book made me LOL so many times. Sadie forcing Lara to wear a twenties outfit for her first "drink date" with Ed was just hilarious.

And throw in the love story with Ed and I am sold.

Lara is delightful, even though she annoyed me like crazy when it came to her ex Josh.

But Sadie was delightful. I fell in love with Sadie and loved her in this book. I was so thrilled that her life could be shared with Lara, and the rest of the world.

And then the tears came at the end. The inevitable happened and I cried and cried and cried, much to the delight of CJ and Tim, who just love to tease me incessantly when I cry at books or movies.

But I don't care. It was a beautiful, unique story that Sophie Kinsella brought to me.

Friday, June 25, 2010

DOH!

After the afternoon swim practice, I stopped by Kroger to pick up some "fun food" for our Friday night dinner.

I had it all planned out in my head: chips with onion dip; guacamole and chips; and some bacon-wrapped cream cheese stuffed jalapenos. I also added a cheap bottle of wine and some other necessities.

The whole time I was in the store? I just cruised the aisles...'window shopping', if you will...taking my sweet time.

In my head, I am thinking about my budget in relation to the cash I have in my wallet. No worries, I think. I always have my debit card if it goes over the amount of cash I am carrying.

My girls are somewhere in the store, looking at candy.

So, I check out in the self-checkout lane. My avocados go through...my limes...everything. I save the wine bottle for last. Once I see that I have to show my ID for the wine (not really...the self-checkout lady comes towards me, then abruptly goes back to her area as if 'wow, she's really old. i don't need to card the bitch.'), I realize a very bad thing. The bag I have is my 'go-to-the-pool-bag'. There is only petty cash in that thing. No real money. No debit card. No money to pay for what I just purchased.

So I search for CJ to see if she brought her big birthday bounty with her. Nope. In fact, she apologizes later, she spent her five dollars on candy and cups. All $5, which is still $10 short of what I would have needed.

So I asked the skeptical cashier if she could hold my stuff because, really, I am right down the road.

And I managed to stump the skeptic by COMING BACK and paying for my avocados.

It really wasn't that bad. I wasn't at all embarrassed. If it were the debit card that was rejected, however, that would be a different story...

SYTYCD 2010: My Favorite Week Two Performances

I am a week behind, but it's easier to blog about the recent one vs. the previous week. Better late than never.

So, my favorite performance of the week was from Mark and Ashley. I am soooo in love with Mark, ever since he was on the show in Season 4. The routines with him in it are usually my all-time favorites.

I even looked him up to find out how tall he was, how old he was, and whether he was single. Why? I have no clue. As if:
1. I would fly to LA (where he now resides)
2. I would actually meet him (I don't dance)
3. That he was single (he's probably gay)
4. That I would be his type (I'm a 41 year old, married with children, "soccer" mom)

But whatever. He is soooooooooooo hot. And that is one reason why this was one of my favorite routines:


I actually LOVED LOVED LOVED almost all of the routines. I was completely in shock whenever the judges dissed one of the dancers. I genuinely enjoyed every dance. When Melinda (the tap dancer) and Ade (he will protect me) danced their routine, I became a Melinda fan. The look she gives when she first turns her head to the audience swept me off my feet.

And even Dominic and Lauren's Lyrical Hip-Hop routine made me a Dominic fan, who I didn't really care for while he was competing.

It's been an amazing season. I wasn't sure how I would like the new format but so far, so good.

NurtureShock - New Thinking about Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

This was another book recommended by my friend Ann. She previously recommended that I read Into Thin Air and during a lunch time conversation, she talked about aspects of NurtureShock. That same lunch is where AudreyPodrey told me about Parenting Beyond Belief.

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way first. This took me a little longer to read. It cites a lot of research and thus, not "fun" and "light-hearted" as a fictional novel would be.

But...this book is uh-MAZE-ing.

I don't know if I liked this book so much because it goes along with the way I like to think...or if it's because I work with people who rely on research...but regardless, this book just opened my eyes up.

Nurtureshock covers several areas about 'rearing' children. Not really 'rearing' like "do this, do that" but more along the research behind the reasons children think/act/do the things they do.

It's got some psychology, social psychology, and neuroscience all mixed in...with a little advice on what to do in those situations.

I could not stop talking about this book to my friends. I mean literally, I would not shut up. I was citing every chapter, revealing each study that I found meaningful, with the enthusiasm of someone who just found gold.

I would read, out loud, to Tim excerpts of chapters. I am begging him to read this now because, I just think, it is *the* handbook for parents.

So, what did I learn?

I learned that praise needs to be specific and not gratuitous. Hearing something like "You worked really hard to study your math" vs. "You are so smart" can help a child feel, not only that the sentiment is more sincere, but also more proud of their effort.

A study is cited where a group of children are divided into two groups and take a test. The test is relatively easy. One group is praised for being smart; the other praised for working hard. Both groups are then given an opportunity to take a harder test, or take one that was just as easy as the first. Of the group praised for their hard work, 90% chose to take the harder test; the majority of those praised for being smart chose the easy test.

Why? Because the "praised smart" children wanted to continue to live up to being smart vs. showing failure...where the "work hard" kids wanted to continue to show how hard they would work.

The next chapter goes into depth about why our children NEED SLEEP. Yes. I read a lot of articles on the need for teens to have more sleep, but this book reveals studies that show that kids losing just an hour of sleep each night actually regress two years. In other words, 'a sleepy sixth grader will perform in class like a fourth grader'.

Why is this? Well, there are many reasons...and these are based on biology: neurons lose plasticity; debilitation of extracting glucose, which affects the prefrontal cortex.

The third chapter, which is the chapter that Ann talked about during our lunch, deals with racism. This is one eye-opening chapter and if you are a parent that is afraid to say "black people" or want your children to 'not see' race but see us all as equal, well, you better find this book and get a different perspective on what you are doing.

In one study, children were asked if their parents liked black people. Since these parents never talked about race to their children -- because they wanted them to be "colorblind" -- the children answered either 'I don't know' or an outright 'No'. This being the very OPPOSITE of the intent from the parent!

I could go chapter by chapter and recite a study or two about what I learned from this book. Our children will lie, but it may be a sign of great intelligence. Or arguing with me is actually a sign of respect. And that what my child will fear most as a teen will be something like going to school with a new hairdo vs. vandalizing, getting drunk or some other risky behavior.

This book just revealed so much to me, from a scientific point of view, that makes me feel more empowered to understand my moody tween, or to contend with my feisty 7 year old.

Granted, I'm only human. I will have my meltdowns. But overall, I see my child in these chapters and I had those "A-ha" moments that the MRIs picked up, to sort of 'explain' why they say/do/act the way they do.

Now, if only I could do that for Tim, my life would be soooooo much easier....

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Forgot About These Two

I failed to mention two other movies we watched, before I declared Brotherhood of the Wolf as my favorite movie of the year so far.

Inglorious Basterds - I wasn't sure about this one. I'm not a Brad Pitt fan...not as bad as my hate for George Clooney, but Pitt tends to get too many undeserved roles because he's so popular. He's at his best when he plays an oddball (Kalifornia is a good example...another fave of mine).

I do like Quentin Tarantino. Some of my all-time faves: Pulp Fiction; Kill Bill 1 and 2, Reservoir Dogs. But he's also "name brand" so despite having so many of his movies as faves of mine, I'm turned off by his popularity.

But he got me again on this one. A great, great movie. Still not my fave of the year, but watching nazis get scalped was a great delight for me. Pitt, in his unusual role, did fine but definitely the center of attention was the "Jew Hunter" Hans Landa played by Chrstoph Waltz, who eventually won the well-earned Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Next was Shutter Island. Tim and I wanted to see this one so bad while it was in theaters. I reserved it at Redbox as soon as it came out on DVD. CJ begged to watch it too. Tim, unbelievably, said OK.

My excitement got the better of me because I was sadly disappointed.

I knew, already, there was a twist. And while I tried to watch with an open mind, I had it all figured out from the get-go. Definitely not on my A or B list. I did find this to be an unusual flick to be directed by Martin Scorsese.

Both these movies were in the 2+ hour range. Really people of Hollywood: STOP WITH THE TWO FRICKING HOURS! It's just not cool.

The Beauty of Babysitters

Yesterday, MiMi and I had the great privilege and pleasure of attending one of great friend's wedding.

Christina came to us via 'babysitting job description' through NC State. She started watching our children while Tim and I went for our Saturday long runs.

She continued to babysit for us for the next six years.

Yesterday she got married.

When I first saw her appear with her dad, to head down the "aisle" at JC Raulston Arboretum, I cried.

Not only because she was one of the most beautiful creatures I've seen, but because I was so proud of her.

And while I don't look to her as a daughter, or a past employee, she is definitely someone that has been part of our life for a long time. She pretty much help raise MiMi and CJ. Having the same battles with MiMi, which I can laugh at now but at the time, I was horrified that MiMi was misbehaving for her.

Christina now is a professor of Economics at Missouri State University. I attended her graduation dinner last year and I cried. She's just an amazing person that I was fortunate to find 'randomly'.

And there have been others...

Crystal came to us from her dad's recommendation at my workplace. She was 12? when she started babysitting for us.

Yes. Twelve (or thirteen).

A few people were bewildered at why we would have someone so young babysit our young daughter. We tried one college girl before and CJ told us she spent the entire time on the phone.

So we gave it another go and found that Crystal was more trained than we were. She carried a tote bag filled with her Red Cross training books, among other things.

Her mom, a wonderful woman, would drop her off and pick her up, no matter how late Crystal stayed for us.

When MiMi was born, we had her as a "mother's helper" throughout the summer.

Another amazing person, Crystal is now working her way through college...literally. She has an amazing work ethic that is so hard to find in anyone today, young or old...but to me, it is absolutely unusual to see it in this young generation.

We still see Crystal occasionally, but she's a grown woman now and has her own responsibilities. The beauty of Facebook is that I can keep up with her. But I shake my head in disbelief, remembering how young she was when she first came to us.

A couple of years ago we met Jennie. Jennie was a brunette when we met her and were entranced; when she returned to the first day of spending the summer with the girls, she was 'goth' girl. Tim had no idea she was the same person!

Jennie was awesome and took the girls to the pool, the movies, wherever. She was a voracious reader which helped my children continue their quests for books at the library. I remember her bringing Marley and Me, along with her towel and other pool supplies, as I passed her in the morning.

Jennie went on to work as a school psychologist for an NC county school system.

These are all people I consider great friends. I don't know how anyone can go without friendship with babysitters. I don't even like to use that word, because they are so much more than that. For the summer, starting with Jennie, I used "Personal Camp Counselor". But they are so much more than that to me. And I'm grateful to keep in touch so that I can continue to shed those happy tears as I watch/hear about the life milestones they continue to reach.

I Fixed My Camera!

My little camera that could, my Olympus Stylus 760 that I purchased when I started *this* blog, finally broke on me after three years.

The zoom lens would no longer retract. When I tried to turn it on, I could hear an awful grinding noise.

Great.

Not that I am a materialistic person (I'm not), but I have an affection for this camera because I did get it fro Spring Break of 2007 and it's been my lifeline to all my outings with my kids.

So thinking that this was "it" for it was quite sad.

So I did some investigating and with a lot of "drill-down" work (finding terms, using those terms to further the search, etc.) I found a place where someone posted detailed instructions on how to fix it. It would require a small camera screwdriver and superglue. Uh-oh. Anything with a screwdriver and superglue and I'm out. *But* directions? I can follow to a tee. And the directions I read seemed detailed enough to be do-able, even by me.

An anecdote about following directions: long ago, when Tim and I lived in Greenville, I decided to get Tim a grill for (maybe even) Father's Day. My mom was with me, but Tim was out of town. So instead of having him come home to put the grill together, I figured I could do it with the directions provided by the grill.

And I did. It wasn't easy, but the great thing about those directions? They have real images of the screws, washers, etc. that you are supposed to use with each area, and I would grab a screw, line it up with the drawing, and know when and where to use it.

It took me a good couple of hours of re-reading, re-doing, and cursing, but I managed to put the grill together by myself. :)

So I *can* follow directions. But it's whether the directions are written clear enough for a person like me.

These are the directions I got from fixya.com:
It's a little tricky but with a small eyeglass screwdriver and some super glue you can do it. I had the problem, here is what you do. 1 romove the five screws two on bottom NOTE one of the bottom screws is longer than the rest. two on side one on other side. 2 gently remove housing, 3 then remove chrome ring that surrounds three sides of camera. 4 inside there are four screws remove them and separate camera. there is a small metal clip that came unglued you can see where it belongs you must gently turn the wheel till the retainer is all the way to the left away from wheel.the clip goes under the shaft use a little super glue to glue it back. the hardest part is the screen plug lift up black piece line it up and then lock the black piece down it took me about an hour and a half.even with my fat sausage fingers.

Along with this picture:


As you can see, the picture is not a great quality.

Following the directions before the actual fix, this is what I had (posted to twitpic):
Attempting to fix my own camera cross ur toes! #Fb on Twitpic

And after reading, and re-reading, I managed to fix it.

Just in time to get pics of CJ's birthday and Christina's wedding.

So I'd like to thank the guy who posted the directions, the people who made me anal-retentive enough to follow directions, and for Tim for getting my supplies.

And now, I have an even stronger bond with this inanimate object.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Favorite Movie of the Year

Yes, it's only half way but I thought I'd mention what my favorite movie of the year is.

It is actually a movie I watched nearly *8* years ago. And we have watched a few, albeit not a lot, of movies in recent weeks.

District 9 - this was better than I anticipated *but* not at all inline with the mental model I had in my head. I'm not entirely a Peter Jackson fanatic, although I am not an anti-Peter Jackson guy either. I saw Lord of the Rings (the first one) and I'm not a fan of the genre. King Kong was decent. Dead Alive was just weird. Heavenly Creatures, however, is one of my all-time favorite movies and has made me a forever Kate Winslet fan.

Avatar - this definitely did not fare better than I expected. While visually nice, and Neytiri was an amazing character in the flick, the whole thing has been done before. This is not original! It's like every fricking, blockbuster Hollywood movie ever made. Overblown. Overdone. And Overdramatic. It was so cliche. So cheeeeeesy! I am so done with James Cameron. Aliens was one of the scariest movies ever and The Terminator, while very outdated, was one of the best movies ever created. But I HATED Titanic (and am so glad Avatar did not steal the Oscars this year...it didn't deserve it). The Abyss was NOT all that and this? Technologically? OK, I give him that, COOOL. But man, I'll take Pixar any day over this and Cameron himself. I just hate that I spent $5.95 to watch 3 hours of my life disappear in blue...

The Lovely Bones - ah...Peter Jackson directed this one. I was so excited about it, especially with Peter Jackson at the helm. I read the book. The book is one of the most amazing, original books of its time. I still have perspective moments that I gathered from the book that I apply to my life. But the movie SUCKED. It was not good. At all. I didn't even think Stanley Tucci brought anything amazing to the story, since he was nominated for an Oscar. Another long one...and so sad that it didn't deliver the beauty that the book did.

So my favorite movie of the year thus far?

Brotherhood of the Wolf.

Tim and I watched it for the second time. Tim had no idea he had seen it before.

It stands the test of time and is one of the most visually amazing movies I've seen. From the first few minutes, I was entranced and I remember being blown away by it the first time I saw it.

It's a French movie, so yes, there are subtitles. I lost my children on that one.

But there's some action fit for any guy, and a bit of intrigue for any mystery buff. It's historical fiction set during the 1700s. A small French province is being terrorized by a beast. The royal taxidermist (yes, you read that correctly) is sent to capture the beast. Alongside that storyline, we learn about his American Indian partner, Mani, and the young beautiful Marianne, daughter of the local count.

I love this movie and I am so glad I decided to grab it from Netflix. I thought it would be a good "horror" movie for the girls to watch but it's not scary, but interesting. The story is intriguing, the cinematography is to-die-for, and the accents are swoonful. It's hard to believe that someone managed to make this movie in 2001.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Trial and Meet

Saturday was MiMi's swim trials. That was the day the kids would be timed on all four of their swim forms: freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly. This to provide a base time for the first swim meet.

We weren't prepared.

I didn't realize we would be there *all* morning.

I mean, I did know that...but the pool opens at 11AM and the plan (from the swim coach) was to be done before the pool opened.

We got there at 8AM. We left, after MiMi's last event, at 11:30.

That means we had no food or drink the entire time we were there. The snack bar was closed. Fortunately, there were folks who *do* know how to do this stuff and brought Krispy Kreme and coffee to sell. Fortunately (again), we brought money (after all, we thought the snack bar would be open).

While I tried to downplay this swim trial event to MiMi, the air was electrified, and the mere fact that there were crowds of kids, MiMi soon felt nervous and scared.

Tim did a great job of keeping her calm and encouraging her...still, there was a lot of tears. In fact, before every event she had, there were *a lot* of tears. I was the carrot by waiting at the _other_ end of the lane for her.

And she did every single event.

I was so proud.

But before I could be proud? I cried.

I cried, involuntarily, when I saw one of the first set of kids do their event. I don't know how old they were, maybe 7-8 year old boys? But I cried. Some of them could not swim and instead, doggy-paddled or did whatever they could to stay afloat. Coaches, kids, parents, adults all yelled encouragement to each kid. Some kids had helpers in the water to encourage them to swim to them. It was amazing. It was inspiring. It rang through my whole body, how beautiful this was. And I cried like a big baby.

So I went to Tim, who is trying to keep MiMi from crying, only to cry alongside MiMi.

But once the tears went away (which took awhile), they were gone and I rooted everyone on.

Tuesday evening was the first swim *meet*. This was against a very BIG (meaning MANY) swim team *and* to top it off, it's at _their_ pool. All the cards are stacked against MiMi for being calm...

We get there at a time that I think is early, only to find that I barely made it into the parking lot for a space. How naive of me.

I did find a seat and then? Wait. Since we are the visiting team, we had to watch the extra large team to practice and practice and practice.

While we wait, MiMi notices that the platform end of the pool is all five feet deep. The four feet end is not until way until the other end. At our pool, the five feet is closest to the diving pool side, so she can swim on one end (the 4' side) and stop, feet down, then swim again. I sense panic is going to set in...

Finally, it's time for MiMi's swim team to practice and I walk her over...and it's a bit chaotic so I have no idea where she is supposed to be. I try to play it cool so as not to make her more nervous, which may have worked a little bit, but she dove in and swam...and attempted to stop, only to sink. I watch and she continues to bob-and-sink. I'm looking at the lifeguard like: do you see my kid is drowning?!? And I rush to Tim who is already up, contemplating how to dive over the kids to get to MiMi.

MiMi is now holding on to the ropes and not moving...but crying. Panic set in.

No one is paying attention to *my* daughter except me and Tim. The lifeguard, the coaches, NO ONE. So I find the assistant coach (that I have a crush on) and point out MiMi struggling. I mention that she was really nervous about the 5' deep side and now she's stuck. He says OK and I leave.

I am not a meddling mom (unless you fuck with my kids). So I wanted MiMi to follow her coaches' orders. And she did.

He walked by us, with her sniffling behind him, and mumbled slightly, but firmly to us "She. Will. Be. Fine."

And she was. Despite the fact that we were there from 5:45 PM until 10:30 PM...despite the fact that we had two thunderstorm stoppages...and despite the fact that their team had 100 swimmers to our 20? MiMi swam every single event.

How many events did she have?

First, a relay where she was the freestyler position.

Then a solo freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke *and* butterfly.

Lastly, free relay (whatever it's called, but swimmer's choose their stroke).

That's a lot of shit for a 7 year old to do.

And she did each one without her toe tapping the bottom of the pool. She swam the entire length of the pool for every single event. She has *never* done this before.

I was so proud. I was floored. I was inspired. I was in disbelief. *My* child did this. MINE!

At some point, I did tell her to reach for the wall. Even if she's a little far away from the wall, just reach for it. We noticed that the judges just wait for that touch of the wall (and yes, I remember that olympic moment that Michael Phelp's barely one with that first touch of the wall). She asked "you're not asking me to swim faster, just touch the wall, right?" And I grabbed her and told her that was exactly right.

I explained that at some point, once she gets comfortable swimming, she is going to want to swim faster...like the older kids. I pointed out that the older kids were just going crazy to go faster, and that's because they have had years of swimming behind them...probably starting at her age, and now, they WANT to go fast. But until she's ready, she can go as fast as she wants.

Let's just hope that doesn't apply to time. I don't want any of this to go by fast.

BTW, we still are learning. I brought snacks for Tuesday's meet but apparently, I need to bring DINNER because people were ordering pizzas, grabbing KFC, Mickey D's, etc. I'll be more prepared next time, but I bet there's something else I forget...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Parenting Beyond Belief by Many Freethinkers

My friend Audrey recommended this book during lunch one day, as I discussed with her and Ann how my 7 year old was coming home with "jesus" talk.

I was mildly curious as to why she was coming home with "I believe in jesus", or in the past year, "You know Christmas is when Jesus' was born" because, well, Tim and I don't say this so none of the jesus talk was coming from us.

I was wary of this book because I don't really 'label' myself as an agnostic or an atheist. Tim went through several years of being agnostic but concluding, much to my surprise to my secure-in-her-faith Aunt Jean one year, that he was an atheist.

I actually relate more to atheism/agnostic philosophies because what we do have in common is: a disdain for organized religion.

I was concerned that a book about non-religion would be fanatic against religion. I don't need anymore animosity towards organized religion. I'm quite content with my own views. The last thing I want is a book organized to make me hate it more.

But it didn't do that. In fact, it was pretty agnostic :). Although the first article by Julia Sweeney fit into the stereotype I have about non-religious freaks, the rest opened up my eyes to what I could do BETTER to teach my kids their freedom to choose.

And that is what I believe...to a certain degree.

When it comes to religion, I have a very jaded view of it. So being religious is like being a republican: you are a bigot and a hypocrite. This is NOT what I want my children to choose. So I probably won't be a very happy parent if my child came home and said "guess what? i'm going to be a Christian!" In my mind, I didn't do a very good job if they feel so insecure in life that they chose to be this thing. It would probably be out of 'love' for a friend, a boy or a girl, but I don't believe it would be anything of their own free choosing.

This book is really a compilation of essays from people who are "freethinkers", that is: agnostic, atheist, scientific, or part of an 'organized religion' itself, the Unitarian Universalists. And although I typically don't enjoy these types of books (self help, guides, etc), I learned so much in this one.

I learned what "secular" really meant and I believe our family to be a "secular" family.

I learned that Darwin was really a shy dude, who made sure he crossed his "t"s and dotted his "i"s before he decided to publish his book On the Origin of Species.

I learned that not only is there natural selection, but sexual selection.

And I find it all very coincidental that MiMi was recently learning about metamorphosis, which will tie all of this together.

I learned that I am definitely neither agnostic, atheist, nor skeptic. But just a person who, based on her own experiences, has her own ideas that actually relate to Unitarians but I'm still not someone that likes organized religion of any sort. I'm quite content in my own supernatural beliefs and have no desire to influence anyone to believe what I believe.

I learned the boy scouts of america (BSA) would rather require a religious connection than to allow any young boy, no matter what his family (or he) believes in, to participate in the BSA.

There were several sections that really captured me and one was a letter from Richard Dawkins, a British biologist, to his 10 year old daughter. As I would assume a scientist would do, he points out to her that "evidence" is what is needed to prove existence of anything. It's powerful and pretty much sums up, in a layman's way, what that means. He lays out three reasons as to why it's bad for believing in anything: tradition, authority and revelation.

Tradition being "that's what believe, so I believe it".

Authority being you are told to believe it by a powerful figure.

And revelation being something like dubya's so-called conversations with god.

Another part that opened my eyes was the mere fact that I, as a parent, am responsible for educating my children about religion. The words that caught me were: if you don't do it, someone else will...and most likely, you won't want that "someone else" teaching them.

I have been neutral in my teachings to my kids. We did celebrate Hanukkah last christmas, because MiMi had been learning about it in school...and was interested...so I asked a Jewish friend of mine to give me details of how we can celebrate it. We had fun and learned just a little bit about Hanuka. This, apparently, is a good way to learn about religion.

The seven virtues outlined in Chapter Five, by Dave McGowan was my favorite. It outlines the seven virtues that we, as humans, should live by. No one needs to carve into stone that it's wrong to cheat on your spouse, or that you shouldn't kill anyone. It should be something you just KNOW. Along with humility, empathy, courage, honesty, openness, generosity, and gratitude.

I fear that the first three are lacking in "my" world. Not me, mind you...I feel that I embrace humility and empathy as my religion. My expectation is for others to have it and sadly, not all do. I've written about the douche bag in the past, but it applies to many others who I have worked with. There is a "it's all about me" attitude and "let me save my ass" before thinking about the repercussions of others. Sadly, I am surrounded by people who lack any humility.

But those seven virtues are lacking even more in organized religion. "Openness"? Are you kidding? If you don't believe what I believe, you go to hell (btw, for your information, we are already there).

What about homosexuality?

What are religious fanatics grateful for? God, jesus, whoever. But not for the children, or for the nice neighbor who helped them with their lawn. It's all god's doing. "thank you god for this people's choice award". Hello? The people voted for you...not god.

Generosity? That only comes to those who believe the same as they believe. Religious fanatics don't want to help anyone who wants to get married to the same gender. Look at the boy scouts! You're an atheist? Well you can't be a boy scout...

Sure. There are some good ones out there. I believe that faith in third world countries is far "richer" than what the Westerners believe. I believe there are many people, like me, who believe in something based on their own lives.

But the masses of hypocrites outweigh the minority of folks who truly just "believe". It's hate and it's ironic.

I will end with a quote from Chapter Seven, on Wondering and Questioning, by Stephen Law:

If there is no God, then perhaps it is up to us to give life its meaning. The purpose of our lives have is the purpose that we give to them. If that is true, then we each have a big responsibility. You can choose to live a meaningless life or a meaningful one. What sort of life you live is up to you.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Best Ending of A Show. Ever.

I have thought to post this for years because it was such a powerful episode for me, the end of Six Feet Under.

So many shows try to make such an impact for their finale: Seinfeld, The Sopranos, and of late, Lost. They didn't do it for me (the first two failed for most people).

Watching the Lost finale reminded me of Six Feet Under, but to be honest, the Six Feet Under finale crosses my mind at least once a month. I kid you not. It was that powerful for me and it helps that I have the "Breathe Me" song on my iPod.

After reading AudreyPodrey's post on her take on the Lost finale, I decided that I will finally post the Six Feet Under piece that continues to embrace me to this day.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Well That Was Weird

Yesterday morning I had my first chiropractic adjustment. I heard a lot of popping. *A lot*. And when he was done, not only did I smell like his cologne, but I actually could turn my head to the left and to the right.

This is promising.

And then I had the electrode thing, which I recall from my visits to the previous chiro, years ago.

It was funny because the assistant, after putting the nodes on me, to let her know once I felt them. This seemed to take awhile and I was beginning to panic...but then I felt them. Next, I was supposed to tell her when to stop. Within seconds my left shoulder felt seized up to my ear. I said 'Um, when do I say stop?' and she was like 'when it feels uncomfortable'. Well, to me 'uncomfortable' is slightly painful...and while I wasn't in pain, I felt slightly odd about my left shoulder feeling hunched up. Nonetheless, I laid that way for eight minutes.

That afternoon, after MiMi's swim practice, I decided to get into the pool and play with my girls.

We play a game called "Colors" and it's when one person holds another, then the person being held has to guess the color the holdee is thinking. If they are wrong, they get their head dunked into the water. If they are right, they get flipped over. Except for me because I am completely scared of flipping over in the water.

So *I* was being held, first by CJ, then MiMi (that was quite funny actually). I got dunked *a lot*. And at some point, CJ got a hold of a water soaker and would shoot me and MiMi in the head while we played the game.

I got home, grilled our dinner, ate, drank, watched Leap Year and decided to bunk with MiMi for the evening.

About 5:15 this morning, I heard Brenna the dog whining to get out of CJ's room. I slowly jumped out of bed to open the door for her, only to find myself falling towards the left side of my body, towards the wall.

WTF?

I thought, Hmmm...I must've jumped out of bed too quickly.

So I tried to stand up and walk again, only to find myself falling towards the left. I couldn't walk. Every time I tried, I would walk leftways. I made it to the door, let Brenna out, then rolled back into bed wondering WTF has happened to me NOW.

I wondered if my chiropractic adjustment fucked me up. It's all in the neck area...maybe he screwed me up?

Then I thought about the pool and wondered if I had water in my ear. I didn't feel it but I also tend to use the drying drops after my pool play...but didn't last night.

On top of that, I haven't been able to sleep on my left side since I got my piercing a month ago. It hurts to sleep on it.

So I tried to elevate the ear off the pillow with arm, in hopes of draining any water.

I managed to fall back asleep and saw the time was close to 7, so I got up slowly...to find that I was still walking leftways. I came down the stairs, hoping to show Tim my dilemma, only to see he and CJ had left for the day.

Now what? I started feeling extremely light headed and the headaches. How the hell am I going to get MiMi to school? What about work? I have this and that to do!!

I called Tim. He calmed me down. Told me to take the drops and call him in the morning :). Actually, we would evaluate around lunch to see how I was feeling. MiMi would stay home with me. Cancel everything else and then we would see the doc if I didn't improve.

I did improve. I'm no longer walking leftways. I still feel a bit strange in the head (no, not that way) but I think I am going to live.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Back to Back

I decided to give chiropractic care another go.

I did this route several years ago, when I bruised my coccyx (aka tailbone) in a freak accident. The freak being me, rolling down a hill in roller-blades and not being able to stop except to fall on my ass.

And while some parts felt great -- and I won patient of the month from the staff -- it all still felt like a revolving door of patients getting the same old dance.

I'm not sure if this will go any better but I enjoyed the staff at my visit yesterday and for awhile, I'll be happy about it if that's all I get out of it: the enjoyment of nice people.

I first met the staff a couple weeks ago at our employee health fair celebrating National Employee Health and Fitness Day. They did a scan of my spine to show where my muscle fibers are all bunched up. OF COURSE it showed that I was stressed. One - because I am stressed and two - isn't that the sell?

Yes. I am cynical. But I am also more stressed than I was two weeks ago. Much to my dismay, the balance of work and life is not balancing out well. Work has overwhelmed me to where I have little time to do ALL the things I want to do. Some of my friends ask me: how do you find the time to do it all? There's no magic in what I do. I have found time to "do it all" but my "all" is different than your all. However, my "all" now is impossible to do. Not without more stress. The stress of it all makes me think that some of my BFFs are not quite getting it and insist on being agitated with me for not participating in the things I have done with them in the past. SO SHAME ON YOU IF I AM TALKING ABOUT YOU. I am very vulnerable right now.

Back to my chiropractic visit.

Yesterday was just the consult. And as expected, the doc said I could benefit from this. I did mention my "halo"-like symptoms, sans the migraine, and the tingling-to-numbness I get in my right hand...on top of the fact that I already know that my c-spine vertebrates are similar to that of 'an 80-year-old woman who has been in a series of car wrecks'.

He asks: do you wish to continue to an initial exam? Why not?! I say. Probably not the best response, as it seems a bit whimsical and not at all serious. But my docs can't seem to figure out what's wrong with me and maybe, just maybe, the premise of aligning my spine will help.

But I loved my introduction to the staff, who, BTW, are exceptional. I called last week to postpone the original appointment (due to more work) and the person on the phone was SO FRICKING NICE. That never happens these days...

As I filled out the appropriate paperwork, I was dealt with more niceness from one member of the staff. Then the other brings me to the doc's office and says to me "Did you take the day off?" To which I replied "Um, no. This is what I wear to work." Instead of being uncomfortable with my dry wit, she laughed and made jovial remarks (to which I cannot recall now) about it.

When I gave the go-ahead for the exam, x-rays were ordered. The jovial member then took me to the x-ray room and said, very hesitantly, "Um...can you take your earrings off?" Well, the indy bar is what she was referring to. "NO. The only person that can take that one off is the guy that put it in."

"I thought so" she replies.

When I lined up for the first shot, which required me to open my mouth wide, she looks at me accusingly, "Do you have any tongue piercings?" I was a bit confused at why she asked me that but soon realized, ah. She thinks I'm a freak like my kids and hubby do. I like this girl...

So...I sit here waiting to go to my first appointment with the doc. I'm sure to hear how I must go "x" many times a week (whatever my insurance allows per week) and I'll just stress out about how I need to fit in these appointments in my already booked week...accommodating WORK, wallyball, WORK, running, MORE WORK, workouts with friends, reading, fricking WORK, blogging, cooking, taking kids to pool, bejeweled blitz, WWF, and all the other things I am managing to put into my day along with WORK.