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Thursday, July 12, 2018

How my music is like my vacations

Life is too short to go to the same places over and over again on vacation. 
Even when I have moments of thinking it would be nice (and less stressful) to return to the same vacation spot every few years, I just can't do it. 
It doesn't feel right.

That same feeling describes my musical taste.

I do not listen to any music now that I listened to when I was 35, and certainly not when I was 25, and absolutely not what I listened to at 15.

Sure, I'll have an occasion when I listen to a particular song or maybe even a whole album, but I listen once and then I move along to discovering new things. 

(There were some lost years when all I listened to were Disney soundtracks and The Wiggles because of kids.)

If I had to create a timeline of my lifetime musical interests by musical artist/band in order, it might look like this:

Andy Gibb
Rick Springfield
Duran Duran
--
--
--(ok, this particular phase lasted a LONG time)
Bon Jovi / Guns & Roses / various hair bands
Al B Sure / New Edition / Public Enemy / Big Daddy Kane / various other rappers
Pearl Jam / Tori Amos / Liz Phair / PJ Harvey
Jeff Buckley
--
--
--(this phase lasted a long time, too)
David Gray
The Lost Years (Disney, Wiggles, Doodlebops, Dora the Explorer)
_
_
_
The Flaming Lips
The Black Keys
Bruno Mars
Fitz and the Tantrums

At the present time, I'm listening to Fall Out Boy and Panic at the Disco.

I remember as a kid loving Duran Duran; it was a complete obsession. And they never came to my city. Later, when I was considerably older, they did come to my city, and the idea that I would pay money to see them in concert by that time was laughable.

Even though I loved Pearl Jam in college and saw them in concert in college, I would not pay to see them now. That ship has sailed.

This summer, I will finally get to see The Flaming Lips in concert. That is a bucket list item.
The one performer I never got to see is Jeff Buckley, which is a shame.

There are some artists I've seen a couple times, but after two concerts, I'm sorta done.

Sometimes I wonder what I will listen to when I'm in my 70s or 80s.
Will I be listening to entirely new things, or will I revert to the "oldies?"

If the first 45 years of my life are any indication, I'll be finding new musicians and bands and, perhaps, asking my grandkids if Nana can go with them to see their favorite bands in concert.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Weight gain--the good, the bad, and the anxiety

Last week, when I went for my annual girlie appointment, I had gained 7 lbs from the previous year's visit.

To say that this fact is now taking up valuable real estate in my brain is an understatement.
I am, more or less, obsessing.

I'm not overweight, which many people would say precludes me from being able to fret about this 7 lb gain.

Those people, if they are reading this post, should probably stop reading now.
Because I am fretting about this 7 lbs.

I weigh 148 lbs.
My BMI is 23.2.
Totally "healthy."
Totally normal weight.

My doctor told me not to worry about it.
But I am worried about it.

Because I cannot gain 7 lbs every year.
I am this close to 45-years-old.

And I have been slacking off on my health.

In one sense, that is the good part. That I have allowed myself to not worry about what I'm eating or how much I'm exercising.
That is also the bad part.
And now, I'm in the anxiety part.

I began fretting over my weight, in one form or another, in 2003, when I was pregnant with N and developed gestational diabetes. When I was put on a super strict diet and lost 7 lbs during my pregnancy. When I began walking 45 minutes every single day on the treadmill.

The day I delivered N, I weight 141 lbs.
The day I came home from the hospital, I weighed 120 lbs.
Between breastfeeding and walking nonstop on the treadmill, I dropped even more weight.
Six months later, I weighed 112 lbs.
When I began not eating as a result of depression, being 112 lbs was not a good thing.

My therapist at the time (prior to medication) asked me if I had an eating disorder, and I guess in some sense I did.
When you are obsessive, you find things to obsess about.

Gradually, with medication and therapy, my weight increased.
Two healthy-weight pregnancies followed.

After M was born, my mid-section bothered me, so I began working out regularly.
My mid-section dropped to 29 inches.
Over the years, it has increased to 33 inches.
Partly, this is due to working more and not having the energy to want to work out.
Plus, I began to snack more and have an occasional adult beverage more than just one night a week.
(When you drink good full-calorie beer, having an extra 1 or 2 a week can make a difference.)
I'm also not lifting 25 lb kids all day long, as I once was.

So I am refocusing on my health, which I hope will result in the loss of the 7 lbs.
Perhaps not all 7, but maybe 5?

I'm having to fight the urge to buy a scale (which I haven't owned in years).
Because I'm already obsessing; I don't need to buy tools for my home that will help me obsess more and better.

I'm having to tell myself that cutting out chips and after dinner snacks and walking every day and increasing my strength training will probably be "good enough."

I wish I could burn calories by obsessing. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Doing VBS in a week of incivility, hostility, hatred (Badass Jesus)

Last week was a hard week for me to do VBS at church.

We were in year two of a program about feeding the hungry, and I was in the storytime group.

Our pastor pretended to be so sleepy from having been up half the night caring for unexpected visitors whom he and his wife had to feed....because that is what you did when someone came to your door.
You washed their feet and fed them.
To do otherwise was to violate norms and be considered uncivil and inhospitable.

As you can imagine, my brain was pummelled by the cacophony of "love thy neighbor" and the Muslim ban, the ICE detention centers that separate children, the restaurants who pick and choose who they serve.

I am not a Bible thumper by any stretch of the imagination, but I love me some badass Jesus.

Badass Jesus ate lunch with Zaccheus, a tax collector who may or may not have gouged people.
Badass Jesus told Martha, who was all concerned about "looking like a proper hostess" to chill her ass out and visit with him. (Which makes me feel MUCH better about my meh hostess skills when book club friends come every summer.)

Badass Jesus politely (and sometimes not politely) gave the middle finger to "propriety" and to hypocrisy.

I suspect that Jesus, who himself was an infant refugee, would have his sandals down in Texas protesting and flipping tables and not having any part of children being separated from their parents.

I suspect Badass Jesus would be giving hell to the rich white folks who claim to be Christian and yet seem to be perfectly ok with denigrating anyone who is brown-skinned or poor.

I admit, though, that I'm not sure what Badass Jesus would say about the restaurant refusing to serve Sarah Sanders.

I really have mixed feelings about this one, as does apparently everyone.
Maybe Badass Jesus would too?

I follow Reason magazine, which is libertarian, and they posted opinions by two of their writers that had diametrically opposed feelings about the actions of the Red Hen owner.

My own feeling is that I would have served her, taken pictures of my staff serving her, giving her a really excellent evening and then posted all over social media that "WE DO NOT AGREE WITH ANY WORD THAT COMES OUT OF HER MOUTH (she is a bonafide liar), but we serve even those we disagree with."

I get not wanting to serve her, but I would choose differently.
Because if we're going to not serve people based on being liars, where do we draw the line?
Cause I've lied.

Being kind, being compassionate does not have to mean allowing people to run roughshod over you, which is often the response when anyone questions the treatment of refugees or immigrants at US borders.

It's like you can't be a kind person AND have boundaries.

"Do you want open borders where anyone can just waltz right on in?"
"Will you let people just walk right into your house without your permission?

Well, of course not.

I am procedure-oriented, not rule-oriented, and the current procedure for seeking asylum in the US states that you have to be PHYSICALLY PRESENT IN THE US, which means the procedure is to cross the border and step onto US soil and state you are seeking asylum.

So don't blame immigrants or refugees because this is the procedure.
Desperate people take desperate measures.
If I was running from persecution or violence or abject poverty, I may not care about breaking a law either.

Or if you insist on blaming them, then at least be sure to spread the blame around sufficiently.

Maybe blame politicians who don't adequately fund immigration courts, meaning there are too few judges to manage the proceedings, which means it takes YEARS for asylum cases to be decided?

Maybe blame the Americans who illegally smuggle/sell guns to cartels in Mexico, thereby worsening the violence from which people want to escape?

As with virtually everything under the sun, if you don't think it's complicated, you're not paying attention.

The sermon today at church was about how Jesus often followed the "spirit" of the law and maybe not so much the exact law.

How many people who lambast immigrants for crossing the border illegally (and therefore deserve whatever horrible things happen to them as a result, including the forced separation from their children) break the law by speeding?
Or by violating intellectual property rights by showing a film to a large group of people?
Or by not giving attribution every time they download a photo off the Internet that they then use on a flier to advertise their business?
Or drive while using a cell phone?
Or don't wear their seatbelt?
Or drink while underage?
Or sharing medication?
Or failing to update your driver's license when you move?
Or not registering their pet?

Or any of the other laws regular citizens break all the time.

I'm smart enough to know that I know virtually nothing about immigration law.
I'm also smart enough to know that our country is going to pay a heavy price for separating kids from their parents, whether it is through legal action or through the animus that will pervade these kids and, perhaps, make them do harm to Americans down the road. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

I don't call it nagging; it is reminding, and it is NECESSARY

I sometimes hear parents complain that their children are not responsible. They forget to brush their teeth. They stay up too late. They don't pack what they need.

In some cases, I am able to observe what parents do around their kids, and what I notice is a distinct lack of checking up on the part of the parents.

Now, I realize that everyone parents differently, and what works for one child may not work for another. But, I also know that kids are kids. They are not little tiny adults who should be able to do something after being told once or twice.

I am a firm believer that kids need to be told approximately 100,000,000,000,000 times between the ages of 0-18. By the time they have been reminded this many times, your reminding voice will be firmly established in their heads, and they will no longer require you to do it.

And I don't mean yelled at 100,000,000,000,000 times. I mean there needs to be reminders of what to do in calm voices. This isn't nagging as much as it setting routines and procedures. There is a difference.

Routines and reminders have to be practiced until a parent feels like he/she is going to die from having to remind and establish routines.

Perhaps I find this easier because my OCD brain is a record-player that circles around and around and around on repeat naturally?

Earlier I said parents need to check up on their kids, and what this means is after reminding them to brush their teeth, you smell their breath to ensure it was done. If you tell your child to set out clothes to pack, you ask them to show you what they have packed so that you can catch any forgotten items. If you tell them to go to bed, you check to ensure their butts are in bed and lights are out.

Does this cut into "me" time?
Yes.

But in these cases, like tooth brushing and packing, a child forgetting something doesn't just impact the child. Not brushing teeth often leads to cavities, and parents pay for cavities financially and time-wise when they have to leave work for repeated dentist visits. Not packing items for a long family trip means parents pay for items when they realize their kids have forgotten x, y, or z. A child who stays up too late playing video games means a cranky, sleep-deprived child the next day, which isn't good health-wise for the child or psychologically for the parent who has to deal with the cranky child.

I am a huge believer in natural consequences, but a parent has to think about what are natural consequences that solely affect the child and those that affect the child a bit but a parent more.

If a kid forgets his jacket to school, he/she may be cold one morning at the bus stop. That only affects the child and usually for only one day. A parent should NOT check up on that.
If a child forgets to brush his/teeth repeatedly, that affects the child AND the parent. A parent, in my opinion, should check up on that.

If a child forgets his/her homework, that only affects the child. No checking up or running homework up to school when a child forgets.
If a child doesn't sleep enough, it impacts the child, the parent, and every other human who has to deal with the child (including the teachers who have to wake the child up at school). A parent, again, should check up on this.

N is pretty responsible, but she is also a teenager, and there are some things I simply would not expect her to be responsible for. When we flew to Colorado, I didn't give her and her brothers their boarding passes until 1 minute before they got on the plane because if they had lost theirs, it wouldn't just impact them. It would impact the entire family. If I had given their passes to them, and they lost them, it would have been their fault and MY FAULT for thinking a 14, 10, and 8-year-old could hang onto those items.

N IS responsible for hanging onto her wallet, which holds however much money she wants to take wherever she goes. It is money she has earned from her pet-sitting business and babysitting. It is not money I gave her, and if she loses it, it will not be replaced by me. The natural consequence of not paying attention to her stuff would fall solely on her.

It would be far easier if I didn't have to think so much about whether the consequence of an action only affects the child or impacts me too, but it is necessary. 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Rocky Mountain High

We just returned late last night from a week's visit to Colorado with the five of us, my brother's family of five, our parents, and my MIL. Thirteen of us in total.

This is our third all-family vacation. We visited Great Smoky Mountain National Park in 2012, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in 2016, and now Rocky Mountain National Park in 2018.

The day we were all supposed to fly out, my niece woke with a stomach bug, which delayed their family's arrival by a couple days, but they eventually made it and (so far) no one else has gotten ill.

Day 1--Golden, CO

In order to get acclimated to the altitude, we stayed in Golden, CO our first 24-hours before heading up into the higher altitudes. We visited Red Rocks Amphitheater and Park, as well as a little part of Dinosaur Ridge. We also made it into downtown Golden, where we checked out Clear Creek and ate at Bob's Atomic Burgers.

At Clear Creek, Golden








Dinosaur Ridge Visitors Center


Red Rocks Park






DAY 2: More Red Rocks and then heading to Granby, CO

On our way to Granby, we stopped and ate lunch in Winter Park, CO at a restaurant called Denos.




This is the house we stayed at in Granby.

Deer walked through the neighborhood every morning and evening, and we had a family of prairie dogs we could watch from a window. We arrived too early to check in, so we took a little hike on the Fraser to Granby Trail.


This deer under the window was just resting.



Granby is a very small town on the western side of the mountains. It is a short drive to Grand Lake, which is a slightly bigger town with more shops and restaurants. Grand Lake is also the "locals" entrance to RMNP. Estes Park is on the eastern side of the Rockies and where most tourists go.

DAY 3--Grand Lake, CO
We went into Grand Lake on Monday and hiked to Adams Falls, which is part of RMNP.







My brother's family arrived on Monday afternoon, which meant that we could carry on with our plans to go on a morning breakfast horseback ride at Snow Mountain Ranch on Tuesday. The kids LOVED this!

DAY 4--Snow Mountain Ranch and Colorado River

This was my handsome horse, known as PoopChute.



The kids met a real-life cowboy named Tim. 
He has broken nearly every bone in his body from riding in rodeos. 

After riding, a breakfast of eggs, pancakes, and bacon tasted delicious!


G and M handled their horses so well!!

Since the morning ride didn't last too long, we thought we'd try Hot Sulphur Springs in the afternoon. We weren't impressed with the springs, so we opted to just dip our feet in the Colorado River.






DAY 5--Steamboat Springs, CO
We had promised the kids some water fun, so we drove to Steamboat Springs to visit Old Town Resort and Spa. We ate at BeauJo's and then walked around the town for a bit.







Sights around Steamboat Springs as we walked



It is a bad idea to take 6 kids into Rocket Fizz Candy Shop.



Day 6--RMNP

We started here:




At some point, we spotted these guys,


and then went here

More driving up the mountain. 
Took some photos at Farview Curve Overlook




We made it up to here and climbed the Alpine Ridge Trail



EVERYONE had a great time up there. 




 We had pushed the kids entirely too far so we ate lunch in Hidden Valley.




During our RMNP full day, we saw marmots, elk, a ram, a coyote, and FINALLY, we spotted this dude:



Day 7--RMNP with D, and Grand Lake one.last.time

D and I drove up to see Lake Irene and hike a wee bit before heading into Grand Lake with everyone later in the day.



Lake Irene


Green River Mountain Trail

 Grand Lake Lodge, overlook

 Grand Lake

Hummingbird feeders lining the shops in Grand Lake




G thought the baskets were cool 
(as you can tell from his enthusiastic expression).

Day 8--Headed back to Golden before our flight

We had time to kill before our flight, so we went back to Red Rocks to stroll around and then ate lunch at the Bridgewater Grill near Clear Creek.




At some point, in the airport, my grumpy middle child took 29 photos of himself grinning like a fool even though he mostly pouted the entire week prior.