Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Joy-filled Child

She jumps up and down when she's happy.

She twirls without abandon.

She holds her hands limp at the wrist like a puppy dog begging as she flits around the house, telling pretend stories to anyone who will listen.

She makes up songs and sings them loudly as if no one is listening.

She is our joy-filled child.

She dances when it moves her, and makes up her motions as she goes.

She runs her fingers over the keys of the piano as she passes by.

She jumps from couches and chairs without fear.

She is our joy-filled child.

She somersaults over beanbag chairs and on rugs when the spirit moves her.

She makes silly faces for cameras and video recorders and laughs at the results.
She runs up to me and hugs me tightly around the legs for no reason.

Her bedtime routine includes "snuggle time " with daddy.

Everything makes her laugh.

She is our joy-filled child.

The Oldest 9-Year-Old in the Room

The weekend before Valentine's Day always bring a flurry of activity at our house. Valentines need to be purchased or created, lists made to cross out as valentines are completed, mailboxes to receive valentines from classmates crafted, and so on.

Sunday evening found Lindsey, Marissa and I sitting around the dining room table, making an assembly line of valentines for Marissa's classmates. Lindsey tore the store-bought valentines at the perforated edges, I inserted the tiny tattoo into the tiniest little paper slots you've ever seen, Marissa wrote her name and sealed each with a sticker. It was fun, actually, our little assembly line of hearts.

"I can't believe it's Valentine's Day already," Lindsey announced. "That means it's already February. I've only got three more months left of 4th grade. I can't believe I'm in 4th grade -- it seems like just yesterday I was in 2nd grade."

Good heavens, is this girl's soul already 70?

Later that same evening, we were watching the Grammys. I love the Grammys. Some people get glammed up, others wear the weirdest thing they can possibly concoct, and someone is bound to say something they shouldn't. But the best part are the performances, especially when they bring together a couple of artists who wouldn't normally be paired together.

Alicia Keys and Maroon 5. Sting and Bruno Mars. What awesomeness.

We watched Kelly Clarkson do a tribute to Patti Page and Carole King. While she sang (beautifully, I might add), photos of both of the artists filled the screens behind her, Patti Page in all her classic beauty, Carole King in her casual, messy realness.

Kelly Clarkson performs at the 2013 Grammys, photos of Carole King behind her
Patti Page

"Mommy," Marissa asked. "Are those ladies from the olden days?"

"Depends on what you mean by olden," I say.

"Like when you were a kid," she says.

Lindsey responds. "Marissa, you know, when we grow up, all this," she gestures around the room, "Will be olden days."

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Metropolitan Consumers

Wayne and I recently bought a Sleep Number bed. Our old mattress was aging and we wanted to get a king if possible. Of course, with our old house with its 90-degree turn at both the bottom and the top of the staircase, we knew that getting a "normal" king-sized mattress into our bedroom was an impossibility. So we looked at the Sleep Number bed, as the bed arrives in pieces and is assembled in the bedroom.

We kid you not, that was a deciding factor in looking at a Sleep Number bed.

While the girls were away at birthday parties one Saturday afternoon, we had a couple of hours to ourselves so we drove to the nearest Sleep Number store, about 2 miles from our house. We shopped, tried different beds, talked about whether or not we wanted to make this investment, and ultimately signed on the dotted line. A week and a half later a crew of two guys showed up at our house, hauled away our old mattress and assembled the bed for us. By that evening we had a brand new bed for us, and a new "toy" for the girls, who thought that having a remote for a bed was DA BOMB.

The girls putting our new bed to use.
I was talking to my dad about our latest purchase, and he was slightly envious. "We used to have a Sleep Number store in Jonesboro," he said wistfully. That's the closest big city to them, about 25 miles away. There would be no way they would get a bed delivered and set up at their home by Select Comfort employees anytime soon with no store location near them now.

My mom said their customer service stunk, which is why they didn't buy one. She and my step dad drove to Green Bay, WI to shop for a bed, and found out that they do not live in the delivery area. The store would have shipped them the bed in pieces for them to assemble themselves. If they weren't happy with it they could break it back down, put it back into the original boxes (yeah right) and ship it back within 30 days for a full refund. She figured they would lose a week on both ends of that equation just to put the damn bed up, so they never bought one.

I wouldn't say that Select Comfort has poor customer service, I would say that my mom lives too far away from the store to get customer service.

My niece who lives in California was in her hometown of Tracy, Minnesota, visiting over the holidays. She wanted to make a salad and went to the grocery store with her mom to get the ingredients.

"I can't find the cucumbers," she called to her mom as she was looking over the produce department.

"Cucumbers are out of season," her mom calls back, "They don't carry them this time of year." My niece looked at her mom like she was from Mars.

Recently I had an exchange with a high school classmate of mine who sent me a recipe for an Irish soda bread. He recommended using Red Mill flour in this particular recipe, so I went to the store to buy some. I snapped this picture, sent it back to him and wrote, "Which kind?"

Wheat flour? Whole wheat flour? Semolina flour? Soy flour? Oat flour?

These are ALL Red Mill brands of flour. Crazy.
 He assumed I was at a specialty store; I was at my local grocery store. And apparently the answer was "Red Mill Organic Unbleached White Flour," which wasn't even in the section I was looking in, because it is so "plain."

We take this level of access to choices for granted.

Want to buy an expensive bottle of wine for a special occasion? We've got 3 wine stores near us to choose from, which one did you want to try first?

Did you want to go to a restaurant that only serves vegetarian food from Ethiopia? It's called "Blue Nile," and I drive by it on the way home from work. Or you could have your pick from any one of over a thousand  restaurants in the area, serving cuisine from every corner of the globe.

From clothing to household goods to food, we are lucky. Not only can we afford these purchases (which I am grateful for every day), but we have easy access to these goods and services living where we live.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Follow Up to "Help Unwanted"

Thanks to everyone who commented on my last post about listening. Most comments were on my Facebook page, and it appears that this is a VERY common side effect of our busy American lives.

I have an update on my efforts to be a better listener. Last week Thursday, Lindsey had a VERY interesting day at school. There was a "contained" explosion of the boiler at her school, and the children were evacuated for some time. They first walked down to the fire department which was only a block and a half away, and then the school district's buses picked them up from there and bussed them to Southwest High School, which is their destination in their emergency evacuation plan. After a few hours they were all bussed back to the school and class resumed while the boiler was being repaired. They declared it operational and safe around 3 p.m.

I heard about this through an emergency auto-call that the school sent to all parents, as well as through a parent forum on Facebook. I knew before I came home that Lindsey would need to have a listener the minute she arrived home.

I had been considering a home-cooked pork chop or chicken dinner, but once I heard this news, I set aside my tentative plans and freed up my time by ordering pizza. Yes, we ordered pizza on a Thursday night, unheard of for our family (though not unusual for a Friday).

Lindsey had gone to a karate class with a friend right after school, and was dropped off at home by her friend's parent. She walked in the door and said, "You would NOT believe the day I had today."

And she was off and talking like it was a race. I ignored my smart phone, ignored the house phone (which rang during this time with another message from the school about the day's incident), ignored the dog and let the younger child play on the floor. She had my undivided attention.

After about 40 minutes, she had relived the experience, shared how very scary it had been, and felt a whole lot better. She even shared an essay she had written about it at her after-school program. She'd gotten about four pages written before she ran out of time. She is a ball of emotion, this girl, and she, like many people I know, feels better after having shared her experience with someone else.

I gave her a hug, thanked her for telling me about it and said that it sounded like a very scary experience. She nodded emphatically that it had been.

I was concerned that she wouldn't want to go back to school Friday morning, unsure of the safety of the school, but I think that her being able to relate the entire experience to a sympathetic audience helped her restore her confidence. She had no problems going to school the next day.

Besides, she learned some moves in her karate class, so she was ready to kick that fire's butt if it came down to that.