I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing – and Not to Blame and Sue…

So many things are out of hand and need to be reset. If only it were that simple. Society’s knee jerk reaction to sue whenever something goes wrong is one of the most damaging problems we face.

If we wanted to really trace the problem closer to its roots we could go back a step to our nation’s quickness to place blame anywhere but on ourselves. I don’t recall my parents playing the blame game as I was growing up, but I remember hearing people who did. And I know that my generation is filled with people who trip on some ice outside the bank and their minds go directly to how they can work the situation for some money. Then go as far as to feel what they’re doing is okay because it’s “legal.” They got a lawyer and if the lawyer said they had a case, and the jury ruled in their favor, then by goodness they must have deserved that money. Funny, though, how when such a thing is flip flopped against them, they call foul and curse lawyers for being liars and predators. Sigh. People.

Medical cases can be tricky though, and an example of where a reset button would come in really handy. There probably was a day when a doctor could make a mistake, admit it, allow for restitution, and be judged by his peers based on the circumstances of the incident. Not today. Whether we’re dealing with medical malpractice, the patient has to fight to be compensated for suffering due to medical mistakes. Doctors are hushed up, cooperation is minimal, and the patient’s well being is put aside in favor of fighting for the smallest compensation from malpractice insurance. My own Uncle was hung out to dry after he went in for surgery on his right leg and they instead operated on his left. This is not right, but how do you suppose we got to this point?

We became a sue happy society, that’s how. Predator patients and/or attorneys push forjudgments and amounts of money not due them, so those in the medical practice have had to adopt a “cover my ass” policy, otherwise they’d fall victim to scam artists and misguided patients. We are our own worst enemy in so many things. People like my Uncle go uncompensated while more savvy game players get what they want and don’t deserve.

It’s all so twisted up and layered that i don’t know how we’ll ever change it. Especially with the prevalence of blame in society today. Come to think of it, even if we had that reset button and started over from scratch, if our attitudes don’t change everything would just unfold back to this point anyway. So maybe the key is to focus on our attitudes as a society. Goodness help us.

The Sound of My Work Day

There are so many disadvantages to living in Michigan in the winter time and there are so many things working against my mood and focus. Summer time is so much more inspirational with the sunshine, birds chirping, and longer days.  I wish it was possible for summer time me to poke my head in once in a while and remind me of the things that I already know need to be done to keep me at the top of my winter day games. Unfortunately that can’t happen and I sometimes get to taken down by the grays outside and the bitter cold that I forget those tools exist. Fueled, I bet, by yesterday’s out of season warmth and sunshine, I started making a list of what perks me up when I’ve got the cold weather blues, and am incorporating them in my daily to-do list.

#1 is lighting. Duh. When I drop the kids off for school in the spring and fall, it’s already light by the time I get home and dig into work. I have already felt the benefits of the sunshine on my skin. As we spiral off into morning darkness, I am so on autopilot that I just dig into work and forget to light up the house! It’s not exactly dark – it’s just gray and gloomy. So first thing when I come in – Turn up the lights.

#2 is music. The music is probably actually the most important tool but logistically speaking, the first thing I should do when I come in the house is turn on the lights as pass by them. Then tune in some tunes. The selection of music is tricky though. It positively cannot have words. I know everybody is different but I cannot write with people talking or singing around me unless I am already deep in the zone. So for instance, as much as The Black Eyed Peas get me excited to do laundry and scrub bathrooms, they kill my writing mojo instantly. Instrumental music can be a downer though. Bordering on funeral-ish. I find that orchestral strings are the best writing music for me. Even when the song is sad, there is always this great BUILD UP that subconsciously gets my adrenalin pumping and motivation high. Paired with ocean sounds or chirping birds through the window in the summer and I’m a writing machine morning til night!

#3 Lists. In addition to the order and organization of a list, I get satisfaction and further motivation from checking things off and seeing my accomplishments before me. Such a simple easy addition but for maximum effect I have to do it the night before so I’m ready to get busy in the morning.

#4 Stretch breaks. Yup. Still struggling with this one. Even though it is possible to make it through my work day and cross everything off my list and be productive withOUT taking breaks to exercise, it is still taking a toll on me and my body for the rest of the day. When I take regular breaks for movement during the work day, I have more energy and longevity into homework, showers, and bed times with the kids.

There are always more things you can do to jazz up your work day but it’s more likely to stick if you keep the changes small and simple. That’s what I’m banking on anyway. What is the key to your successful work day? What kind of music do you like to listen to when you’re creating?

Capturing Photos, Memories, and Deals

I was cleaning out the closet the other day and found our camcorder. It was way in the back of the closet being neglected. Just like my photo albums. When we first became parents we took a lot of pictures. It was easy because I had a couple of great cameras for work, my parents got us an easy to use camcorder, and the kids were small and somewhat easy to contain. They also loved hamming it up for pictures.

Cut to today. Cameras have water damage. Thank you kids.  Camcorder has some kind of sticky damage. Thank you again kids. I have a cell phone that takes pretty great pictures but the kids don’t like having their pictures taken anymore! Plus they’re hard to keep up with and not so “contained” at 12 and 16 as they were at 3 and 7. My dog, though? He loves to have his picture taken. And he is small and since his favorite position is laying down at my feet, he is easy to keep up with. If you look at my cell phone images or browse my Facebook, it looks like I have an out of priority affection for my Schnorkie but I promise that’s not the case. I love them all equally. Hehe. But like I said, Hobo is just easier to capture in the lens.

I have been thinking about getting a new camera, though. What kind of Mom has no camera or scrap books? One that got frazzled for a spell. Then was broke for a spell. i’m still broke but I did just get a second job. Yay! So I can at least THINK about replacing some of the things that have been lost, broken and ruined during the child rearing process.

Parenting in a recession has taught me a lot of good shopping habits. Going to the mall and ordering from manufacturers online has been replaced by finding gently used, bulk, and overstock items. It’s absolutely thrilling finding insane deals at places like nomorerack.com and Overstock. Nomorerack actually has a pretty good deal on a digital camera today. The deals come and go quickly and this one likely will not be available when I am ready to buy, but I am confident there will be another one to replace it.

As for the camcorder in the closet – Hubs is cleaning it up and hopefully we will get that up and running again soon. I am becoming a little embarrassed by all the pictures of my sweet amazing schnorkie. Wanna see one?


Playground Mulch and Other Lessons

My kids are twelve and sixteen now and they still love climbing on things. I keep waiting for them to outgrow it because it makes me so nervous. My daughter has always played on top of slides and playground equipment, rather than utilize the swings, rings, and actual functions, and my son has taken to jumping off the top of the swings and over the trampoline net to land on the trampoline.  The “what ifs” in those scenarios run rampant through my mind. My Mom was a “what iffer” and I hated it. I cannot believe I have become one!

I have vivid memories of being just like my daughter and the favorite parts of my swingset not being the “toy” parts, but rather the connecting and load bearing bars and poles. Hanging, swinging, and climbing along those were the best part! I imagined I was a gymnast in the Olympics. I did fall down on occasion and get scraped up, but thanks to companies like Rubbercycle, kids today have it a little easier.

I have noticed recycled rubber mulch around commercial type play areas before but didn’t realize that its usage goes beyond school playground safety. I didn’t pay much attention to what it was or consider that I could have it at my house too!

I have seen people landscape their playscape areas with traditional mulch and I thought that was pretty fancy. The grass around the swings and slides see so much traffic that anything looks better than bare spots worn in the grass. It also makes mowing easier. We have to move the trampoline all over the yard to mow and prevent grass dying underneath. Playground mulch makes such good sense. Rubber mulch is a bonus!

Not only is the ground covered, more attractive,  and easier to maintain, but it provides more cushion for the kids. Is it going to protect my kid when she falls down from tight rope walking across the top beam of the swing set? No. But I suppose that’s where the “parent supervision” part comes into play. :)  But for protecting knees and elbows and faces from the normal wear and tear associated with playground playing, it’s great! AND the bonus bonus is that it’s environmentally responsible, made from recycled tires!

I wish I could say that “the dangers” of playing on jungle gyms was my only “what if” habit. But it’s not. It has spread from what they eat, where they go, who they hang out with, what they watch on television, the video games, and worst of all – going to school. “What if she spends her lunch money on cake?” “What if the kids pick on her?” “What if she tells her teacher how much I swear at home?”  … So many scenarios! Sigh. I don’t know.

My son turned it around on me one day. Whatever the situation was I can’t remember, but when I over reacted with “what if?” He said, “You’re right Ma. Let’s think about this. “What if?” I don’t know if I simply had a brain freeze from having it turned on me and put on the spot or what – but I really couldn’t think of any consequences that bad. Or that likely. It was like the time he made me realize that my default answer to everything was, “No.” I don’t like letting him know he makes a good point here and there. I don’t need a power shift at this point! He’s already getting taller and bigger than me. I need to maintain SOME ground here! :)

What every day stuff do you worry about most with your kids? What kind of lessons have your children taught you?




Women, Wisdom, and Egg Donation

You know, no matter how good you eat or how well you live your life, sometimes things just don’t turn out the way you planned them. Girls are programmed from birth that regardless of whatever else they achieve in their lifetime, their biggest accomplishment is marriage and motherhood. When something gets in the way of that it can be devastating to a young woman’s psyche. I know because I’ve been there.

Working to my favor is the fact that the getting married and having babies bug never bit me. I had nothing against getting married, I just didn’t see it as my life’s goal and I thought big lavish weddings were silly. I announced at an early age, “Ma, I am going to elope one day and adopt children that nobody else wants.” And that’s exactly what happened. But as it turned out, I couldn’t have have had my own children naturally, even if I had wanted.

After I graduated high school my Mom took me to the doctor to have some things checked out that she found suspicious. After several appointments, tests, and surgery the verdict was in – No uterus. No kids. With every fiber of my being I did not care that I was not going to be having any babies. But I was devastated that I COULDN’T, if that makes sense. Because even though I had escaped society’s notion that I should want to have children, I still had value placed on the ABILITY to do so as part of her strength and worth. I felt different, and incomplete, and defective.

Even though I didn’t want to have a baby at all – my passion revolved around older children who were having difficulty getting placement because of their ages – I had nightmares for a month about being trapped in the loft of an abandoned barn. I could hear a baby crying but I couldn’t find my way to it.  Because the rational, “sensible” side of me knew that I didn’t want to have kids, I decided I was fine, ignored the nightmares and depression, and declined any counseling. I didn’t realize I was suffering inside until much later when things started taking a toll. I am 42 now and I still suffer with negative self worth and my completeness as a woman and mother.

The practical, activist side of me gets upset with women who have trouble getting pregnant yet continue to pursue expensive alternative methods. I cannot figure out why a person would spend all that money and go up against egg donation risks or the drama of a surrogate when there are already countless children who need families and good mothers desperately. I criticized a lot when I was in my thirties. But along with reaching the top of the hill, forties does bring some kind of wisdom. And when I look at the toll not being able to have children has taken on me, someone who didn’t even want to have babies, I can only imagine the magnification of the impact on someone who spent their whole life dreaming of it. To them,egg donation risks are just part of the deal. When you want something bad enough you don’t see road blocks – only speed bumps.

Sometimes I look at my forties and cry, “Where is all the wisdom I was looking forward to? The exhales?! The inner peace and such?!” When I quiet down long enough I realize it’s there. It’s in the subtle changes of attitude and opinion that I didn’t even realize I had until the subject comes forward. It is in the ability to see the trees through the forest, and realize that nothing is final or over or the end of the world, until you’re dead. Everything else you can manage.

I do have a regret though. I wish I had come to all this understanding a little earlier because I just found out that the payment for donating eggs is about $6,000 but you have to be between the ages of 21 and 30 to participate. Dang it! 



Lots of Opportunities


This guest post from Lewis Beck

There are a lot of great opportunities for small business owners here in Texas and I’ve had a lot of fun over the last few months trying to decide exactly what direction I wanted my company to take. His great part about living here is that the people at the small business administration are so incredibly helpful, they were knowledgeable about everything from dallas business internet service to tax codes to HR rules. I can’t imagine what life would be like if I was still working for “the man” but I do know that I’m far happier being my own boss than I ever have at any previous job. I guess it’s all about what you make of your life and for me this risky decision has been one of the best I’ve ever made. I’m not saying I’m a millionaire but at the end of the day all that really matters is that I am happier, more fulfilled and I really like the direction my life is going. Who could ask for more than that?


Its Minutes are Numbered – The Cell Phone Battery

I love Saturday Night Live. I completely get that it’s satire and it’s meant in fun, but do you ever think that the Powers that Be over there know how influential they can be? They made a complete mockery out of George Bush and clearly took sides during the last presidential election. I know people are smart enough to draw their own opinions, but could they be swayed one way or another without even knowing it?

I don’t really have time to get into how deep that could go today. Why did I even start it? I was just looking at my phone whose battery meter is dead. It’s always dead. I love my Motorola phones, don’t get me wrong,  But the Motorola batteries have been causing me stress for the last few years. I usually blame myself – saying that I leave the internet open too long or something. But then there was this skit on SNL this weekend.

The skit was based on a verizon commercial talking about – and confusing people with – all the different Verizon phones and options. At the end someone asked what happens if the phone gets wet and the sales guy said that it instantly dies. I laughed – it was a real “it’s funny cus it’s true!” moment. But then I applied it to real life and today’s phones – for all the fancy stuff they can do – are fragile little things! Which got me thinking – I should not take the blame for USING a product the way it was intended. The fact that it’s dying so quickly could be the fault of batteries whose technology has not yet caught up with that of the phone.

So that’s my new theory. I try to have one on something every week. What do you think?

The sk

Easy Room Updates

I was talking a couple of weeks ago about how I always grow unhappy with my house in the early weeks and months following Christmas. As all the holiday decorations get put away and my activity slows down a little and am in the position to sit still for periods of time, I see all these things I don’t like. Worn out spots, grimey spots, outdated spots. And my mind quickly goes to all the beautiful shiny new housewares I saw when I was out Christmas shopping; Things that I didn’t really register at the time because I was on a mission and focused on other things, but obviously I took note of them on some level because they start to flood my mind. A hundred household items, big and small, start nagging me and making me feel bad about what I already have. I try to ignore it and not make any choices or changes during this time because I know it’s an irrational impulsive thing. I might do a tiny bit of work to my son’s room though.

My son’s room, which was not too long ago the envy of my daughter, now looks like a barracks. He has been grounded from everything, leaving it looking extremely bare. He’s also been hospitalized and is still in a healing/recovery mode, so for his safety and ours there are a lot of things he just can’t have in his room. Add to that my husband’s refusal to put any color in the house besides white carpet and white walls and you’ve got one stark ugly bedroom. So I’m studying it and looking online at sample bedrooms and such and I discover how much impact is made by comforters, pillows, a valance, and switch plate covers. I already framed and hung his baseball jerseys and put up some shelves with some memorabilia. And I’m thinking about hanging his snow board strategically in the room which would give a big burst of life to the room AND provide a functional convenient place to keep the big over powering thing :)

Do you find the once you get in the right mindset you start having ideas and realize you have a lot of solutions right in front you that don’t cost a lot of money? Do you have any good tips for fast cheap decorating updates?

Lower Your Birthday Party Budget Without Lowering the Fun


Between party favors, entertainment, and venue rental; and, of course, the presents, birthday parties’ can sometimes be a huge drain on your bank account. Of course you want to show your child a fun time, but a lot of parents just assume that means they need a 4-digit budget to make it happen. The truth is, you can make your child’s special day extra special without having to take out a second mortgage. The trick is to get creative and be open to new twists on the old birthday traditions.

First of all, trim the guest list down as much as possible. Throwing a huge party is a nice gesture for your child but it can often be overwhelming to a child who has not completely developed their social skills. They will probably have even more fun with 5-10 of their closest friends.

Instead of renting a venue like a roller skating rink or a putt-putt golf course, let the kids run wild at the park. Most cities have free park with baseball diamonds that are perfect for games of baseball, softball or kickball.

Once you have the guest list pared down and the location decided on, consider what sorts of activities the kids can engage in. If you can think of a way to combine the food and the entertainment, you will end up saving a lot. For instance, turning the birthday cake into an interactive experience by setting up a cupcake decorating station will keep the kids entertained while they feed themselves. Have the batter ready to go and let the kids add chocolate chips, M&Ms or any other little goodies into the batter before putting the cupcakes in the oven. Have icing, sprinkles and other candies ready once they’ve cooled down.

When children are young they are mostly just happy to be hanging out with each other. As long as they have some sort of sweet in their tummy and some sort of activity to play, they’ll most likely have a blast.

Melissa is a party planner and guest blog writer who enjoys throwing great themed parties using Mario party supplies.


Thanks to Melissa for the informative guest post and to Rawich for the birthday candle image. :)

I Love New Things: Rain Chains

Have you ever heard of rain chains?  I just learned about them today and I can’t figure out how I never heard of them before.  As a hobby I look at houses and landscaping – maybe they’re kind of new here, even though from what I understand they’ve been using them in Japan for hundreds of years. I thought I’d pass the info along so you don’t miss out on them too. See? I care. :)

Okay. So a rain chain, as I understand it, is designed to take the place of your gutter downspout. When you hang the chains rain hits them, attaches, and follows the links down to the ground. They come in a variety of styles and are much prettier than standard downspouts. The ting ting sound of the water hitting the chain is pleasant and you can put a bucket at the bottom of it to create a peaceful waterfall or meditation garden atmosphere. Doesn’t that sound nice?

I will have to fight my husband to get him to consider these because he is very traditional and kind of stuck in his ways. He doesn’t generally like to try new things unless other people have done it first. Sigh. But I’m going to try. I can already hear the sound of the rain on the chain in harmony with my wind chimes on the back deck. Have you ever tried a rain chain or know anyone who has?