Saturday, March 31, 2012

My (dis)interest with Pinterest

I really tried to get on the Pinterest bandwagon. I wanted to be "one of them" - the ones who post these great ideas for cool crafts, amazing outfit combinations, and brilliant do-it-yourself home ideas. I read the FAQs, asked advice from friends as to how to navigate all the "boards" and "pins".

Read my Pinterest journey in the latest article of Pastelle Magazine, a relatively new pub that is making waves for women in the Bloomington/
Normal area.

What's the Interest in Pinterest?

Since the article, I've tried to keep my interest up, but I find myself shying away, knowing full well it will be two or three hours of my life that I'll never get back. Why? Because even thought I don't have the time to browse boards and peruse pins, I have even less time to implement these inventive ideas - and knowing others do makes me feel inadequate.

For now, I will live vicariously through other people's Pinterest proficiencies. What's your interest in Pinterest? Do tell!

Shameless plug: "Like" Pastelle on Facebook and not only will you get to read great articles on health, kids and life for women, but you'll get free coffee! Click HERE to like Pastelle!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

What, me worry?

I'm a closet worrier. At least, I think I am. Maybe not. Maybe I'm one of those people who when people describe me say, "Oh, Amy? Yeah, she's a worrier." I don't know. I like to think I internalize most of it, but given the fact that I spill my guts in my blog pretty much every time I write, I may be a little hypocritical.

I bring this up because my son has inherited my worry gene. He just started soccer, at the invitation of a friend. His friend fell ill before the first practice and was unable to attend. As soon as my son heard this, he developed a debilitating stomach ache. "I think I'm going to throw up," were his exact words. He's my second child, so I know the drill. "You're worried because your friend isn't going to be there and you're not going to know anyone," I diagnosed. Sure enough, we went down to practice, he refused to play (and I will admit he was looking a bit green by that point), but as we were driving away he perked up and said, "Can we go to McDonalds?"

I'm no dummy. Been there, done that. I remember my first migraines back in 6th grade - they started every Monday right after lunch - about three hours before my piano lesson that I was taking a the local university by a very straight-laced teacher who was hell bent on turning me into a concert pianist. If I didn't perform my scales properly, she left the room and wouldn't come back until they were perfected. It was agony and it made my head pound.

Another time, I had to give a presentation in front of the class. Aside from being naked on stage in front of an audience, public speaking runs a close second in my random psychological fears department. I remember leaning up against the blackboard waiting for my turn. After I finally sat down, I looked up at the front of the room and saw a huge sweat stain glazed on that board where I had stood.

Here's a good one. When my oldest was three weeks old, we had to move to Ft. Leavenworth (my then-husband was taking a command class with the Army). I had never done the "Army wife" thing, and it was the night before I had to take my newborn to the PX using my military I.D. I was terrified. I didn't sleep all night. I woke up with a feeling of dread. How was I going to do this? What if he cried? What if I didn't do it right? The military was very precise and regimented. What if I pushed my cart the wrong way down an aisle and the MPs came after me? Would I lose my son???

Now my worries manifest themselves into the weirdest, irrational dreams and sleepless nights. They give me stomach issues and more migraines than I've had in a long time. I worry about my kids and their worries, how I'm dealing with their worries, if I'm being too much of an enabler or not being tough enough on them. I worry about my work, and doing enough or doing too much. I worry about saying the wrong thing or not saying the right thing at the right time. I worry about the ratio of words that come out of my mouth to thoughts in my brain - should there be a greater margin there?

I worry about what I will do if... if I get sick, if I run out of money, if something happens to my kids, if something happens to my parents, my sister, my brothers. I worry if my relationships are balanced and enough of a two way street to sustain themselves for the long haul. I worry that I'm not good enough, that I don't try hard enough, that I'm not doing as much as I should be doing. That I'm doing too much. I love (and live by) this quote: "There are two days in the week about which and upon I never worry... Yesterday and Tomorrow."

And what a lucky duck - my youngest seems to have inherited this lovely quality of mine. And I don't know what to tell him. "Don't worry" has to be the stupidest thing you can say to a person who says, "I'm worried." So I try not to. What I do try to do is relate what he's going through to something I've experienced - because usually I can find some correlation. I know that doesn't necessarily takes away the worry, but he can see that I felt the same way and that I made it through. But it breaks my heart knowing the exact feelings he is experiencing and wishing I could make them all just go away.

Some level of worry is good, I suppose. The other extreme would be apathy, and that's not a quality I care to have. But I gotta say, this worry gene is killing me - as is raising a little mini-me with the same M.O.

Maybe I should jump on the bandwagon with Lily Tomlin. She worries. A lot.
“I worry,” she says, “about being a success in a mediocre world.”
“I worry that we’ll become so overcrowded that loneliness will become a peak experience.”
“I worry that we’re writing a new chapter in American history — Chapter 11.” 
"I worry that the person who thought up Muzak may be thinking up something else."
My favorite quote, though, is not from Lily Tomlin - I don't know who said, it, but it makes sense: "Worry is the darkroom in which negatives are developed." I need to get a handle on this worry of mine and try to not only teach my kids that worrying is only going to cause them sleepless nights and furrowed brows, but to show myself that the act of worrying really doesn't get me anywhere. Maybe I'll start small and take Charlie Brown's advice. He said, "I've developed a new philosophy... I only dread one day at a time."

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Dating Hall of Shame

My small circle of friends includes individuals of all ages; some married, some divorced, some single. (Apparently being "single" and being "divorced" are NOT the same thing, if you've ever been in my shoes and had to check a box on any official document.)

Anyway, I enjoy hearing random stories from my single/divorced friends about their dating adventures in the 2000s. The best ones, of course, are of dates gone bad, which remind me of the plethora of "God why are you punishing me" dates I've had in my illustrious dating career. Yep, I'm going there. My Dating Hall of Shame. Here goes.

It all started in 8th grade when my first "official" boyfriend, Steve G., came over to my house. We sat outside and ate chocolate cake that my mom had baked. He said something funny and I blew chocolate crumbs out of my mouth. That's OK. He was shorter than me and I believe the only blonde I ever dated. With a few chocolate sprinkles.

Fast forward to sophomore year of high school and John M., who drove a sweet car that always smelled like Big Red. He kissed me in the driveway after a date and perhaps I was so preoccupied with the thought of my parents peering out the window at my provocative behavior that I failed to notice his big slimy tongue reaching for my esophagus until it was too late. My sophomoric reaction was to reel back in disgust and say, "What are you DOING?" to which he, confused, said, "Um, French kissing you?" Well, no wonder those French people are so mean, I thought. Always having to deal with fellow citizens sticking their tongues down your throat. To this day I can't stand the smell of cinnamon gum.

Then there was Quentin, who made me scale a chain link fence in order to get into the drive-in movie for free. At least I didn't have to worry about him French kissing me in the back of his car; however, I think I ended up getting a tetanus shot from the rusty barbed wire.

A friend of mine invited a male friend of hers and me over for dinner one snowy winter's night for sort of a "break the ice" introduction. Things seemed to be going well until she got up to clear the table and give us a chance to talk. He whispered to me, "Shouldn't you be helping her?"

Oh, and that's not all. After post-dinner conversation that I could have had more successfully with a rock, I finally said I was calling it a night. It was bitterly cold outside, and as I donned my coat, he tossed me his keys and said, "Hey, if you're going out, can you start my car for me?" I rolled my eyes and tossed them back at him and left, but upon reflection, I should have said, "Sure, Sweetheart!" and promptly hurled the keys into a snowbank. Hindsight is so 20/20.

Finally, the pièce de résistance was Jeff D., a guy I had known in high school who checked in with me about five years ago and said we should "go out". (Note: he had SEEN me since high school so it wasn't like it was one of those 'wow you've really let yourself go' things). We met at a bar one evening and I noticed he was texting - and unfortunately, it pretty much didn't stop. "Rude," I thought. "But I'll be a trouper." After about a half hour of small talk, he mentioned that his friend "Joey" might join us. "Hmmmm..," I mused. "Weird to ask one of his buddies to join us when we are clearly on a date." No matter. I can be one of the guys. Suddenly he said, "Oh, there's Joey!" and motioned to the door. I turned and looked - which must have been one of those looks you only see on the fade-out shot of a soap opera character. The wide eyes - the mouth agape... hold... hold.... hold....

See, "Joey" was not male. "Joey" was very, very much female. Long, blonde hair, very blinky eyes and very large, um, large... you know. So she bounced herself down and they started chatting like the old friends or friends with benefits or whatever the hell they were.

Stunned but undaunted, I excused myself to the bathroom (like they cared) and instead of contemplating my angry exit, decided that apathetic really described my mood better and texted my best friend. "Get here now - you have to see this to believe it," I typed. Being the best friend that she was, she showed up 20 minutes later, plopped down with Jeff and Joey and I and proceeded to interject herself into the conversation. About 20 minutes later, I said, "Have you had enough?" "Oh, yeah," she replied. "You?" And we left, went on to another bar, and proceeded to have a great time.

Best part about the above story? I was relaying it to a friend of mine the next day, who relayed it to her friend who was a DJ on a popular radio talk show. My dating horror story was a topic of conversation that very afternoon on his show, with everyone in agreement that the guy was a total tool.

I never liked dating much, as I'm sure you can see why. I remember the agonizing feeling of going through those horrible first dates in the beginning, then as I got older, they became battle scars. Badges of honor that I would sit around and talk about with my other single friends like old war buddies sit around and talk about combat. Yes, I'm scarred, but I will survive. But like any soldier who has gone into battle, he'd probably just as soon not have to relive that portion of his life. I'll take my heart, albeit not purple, and be just fine, thanks.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The mom who said "We will never get a dog" got a dog

I'm not a dog person.

Ask anyone. When I told my friend I got a dog her response was, "I would have been less surprised had you said you got a monkey."

We had a dog growing up, but I didn't really have to do anything with her. We never had her on a leash, she was trained not to go in certain rooms, and to my knowledge she never pooped. When she died I was sad, but it never occurred to me to replace her. Ever.

When I called my parents last week and asked them to come with me to see about a dog, they probably would have reacted better to me telling them I was pregnant. "A dog? Why? You don't even LIKE dogs. You said you'd NEVER get a dog. What are you going to do with a DOG?"

I blame my friend Diane. She posted one of those "OMG look at this cute doggie he's at the shelter and if you don't go adopt him he'll be KILLED" pictures. Normally these don't phase me, but for some reason, this one did. Sad to say, I didn't save this dog. As much as I wanted to, he wasn't too good at pleading his case. He jumped and nibbled and howled and generally shot himself in the foot with this tough customer. I'm all about saving the dog, but apparently I need to save the perfect dog, which to me is one that doesn't bark, shed, jump, lick or have a colon.

I had seen a couple of contenders on, which is kind of the for people looking for pets. I contacted the shelter, The A.R.K. in Lacon, and they said they were going to have the dogs at PetSmart in Peoria the next day. Good. I'm not driving all the way to Lacon just to feel guilty about NOT getting a dog I didn't even want.

Short story long, the dogs there didn't quite fit my stringent criteria. I voiced this to the A.R.K volunteer, and while I know she was thinking, "This girl would be better off with perhaps a fish," mentioned there was one dog that may fit the bill and she would bring him to the store tomorrow. Fine. The next day, I figured I'd run over to PetSmart "real quick" then go to my parents' house and do my taxes. That was at 1:30. At 1:45, I called them and said, "Um, can you meet me at PetSmart?" At 4:45 pm, I walked out with Domino.

Domino was given his name at the shelter because, I was told, he was "sweet as sugar". He was rescued by The A.R.K. in January after being surrendered by his owner at the Centralia Animal Shelter, and they estimated him to be around 3 years old. That's all the background I have on this dog.

What I do know is that aside from doing all the things that dogs do, this is pretty much the perfect dog for me. We walked around PetSmart for probably 2-1/2 hours and bent the ear of the trainer there for most of that time. We tested him around other dogs and kids of all ages. We tried to figure out his real name (note: it is not Spot, Rover, Mayonnaise, or any of the Irish beers). He only barked once, sat by my side on the leash, and peed three times in the store. Everyone who came in contact with him remarked, "What a good dog!" All I could say was, "Thanks. He's not mine."

Well, now he is. And so far, he's a great addition to our family. In fact, he makes us feel like more of a family. My kids are still stunned and in disbelief. I had told them emphatically that we were NOT getting a dog. Ever. So much for consistent parenting. Domino and I sat on the front porch and watched my oldest son get off the bus this week. He walked up and said, "Whose dog?" My other son came home and said, "Who are we dog sitting for?" When they found out that Domino was, in fact, OUR dog, they were speechless. And for the first time since they were toddlers, we all sat around on the floor, no TV, no video games, and hung out as a family. With a dog.

Now don't think I'm living in a dream world. While Domino is "sweet as sugar", he is also, by definition, a dog. Which means he has his own set of doggie things that he does that will need to be tweaked, trained, and terminated. But let's just end this feel-good post on a positive note - you know there will be more to come from me on this canine conversation.

Welcome to the family, Domino. This song's for you: