Category Archives: Uncategorized

Searching For A Reasonable Copy May Be As Elusive As Searching For Bobby Fischer

My youngest son is a big chess fan. He’s just turned 10 and can beat all of us at a game of chess.

All of us.

He has this uncanny knack for seeing moves 10 moves ahead. None of us enjoy getting beat by him all the time so we bought him an electronic chess board. He’s challenged by the computer’s moves. He leaves us alone now. (His choice.)

It’s a win-win.

I remember seeing a movie, a long time ago, called “Searching For Bobby Fischer.” I knew he would like it so I reserved it on Netflix. “A very long wait” is what it says under expected availability. We’re tired of waiting.

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So I looked on Amazon.

There are quite a few purchasing options, ranging anywhere from $11.97 to ……..

$1,979.99.

Plus $3.99 in shipping.

Really?

You’re selling a DVD for two thousand dollars and you can’t throw in shipping?

Gotta love free enterprise!

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The Zen Of Daylight Saving Time

(An oldie, but a goodie. Enjoy!)

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Here I sit. Bleary-eyed. Unmotivated. Exhausted.

And it’s almost 11am. Gosh, I could swear it was only 10 o’clock. Where did the time go? (Bear with me. These jokes are going to continue for the next couple of days.)

I loathe Daylight Saving Time in the spring. Loathe it. I start dreading it. I try to prepare for it by getting to bed earlier and waking up earlier. It never works. (Although, I will say that since having kids I notice the effects less and less. Chalk it up to being perpetually sleep deprived.)

So imagine my surprise when the priest at mass Saturday night says, “I know you are all here this evening, but I invite you to join us again tomorrow morning for my favorite day of the year!”

Favorite? Did I hear wrong? My ears perk up. Because tomorrow is my least favorite day of the year.

“Trust me,” he goes on to share, “It’s a blast! Because at about 40 minutes into the mass, people start trickling in thinking they’re arriving early when actually they’re 40 minutes late. The expressions on their faces?  Priceless!”

I can only imagine.

I hate to be late for anything. I had to learn to deal with that personality quirk after children, however. It seems they have their own agendas when it comes to being anywhere – Toddler Time, I used to call it. Now? It has no name. Other than late. But I digress…

Whose brilliant idea was it to move Daylight Saving Time smack dab in the middle of flu and cold season? Certainly not a mother of small children. And explaining bedtime while the sun is still blaring outside? How do the mothers of Alaska do it?

I asked a friend how she felt about this time of year. Didn’t she just hate it?

“No,” she replied.

Oh, you’re one of those who think the extra hour of sunshine is worth it?

“Not really,” she said, “I just don’t have an opinion about something I can’t change.”

Oh, how very Zen of you.

Pfffft. I wish I could be like her. I really do. But no matter how hard I try I can’t get over the fact that I’m losing one whole hour of sleep, one whole hour of my life every single spring. Sure, I get it back in the fall (Hence, my absolute favorite day of the year. Ok, not absolute – but certainly in the top 10!) but is really worth all this trouble?

Daylight Saving Time was established to save energy. The theory is that taking advantage of the daytime hours we will all use less electricity. Go ahead. Google it. There are conflicting studies out there with regards to the validity of this theory. And many claim that there is little to no effect in any energy savings during this time.

Little to no effect.

I choose to believe those studies.

So, again, I ask is it worth it?

(Silence.)

Oh, I suppose all of you out there are so very Zen, too.

Sigh.

Well, I’m stepping off this path of enlightenment…

and going back to bed.

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Sometimes You Just Have To Stop And Look At The Ducks

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“Mommy! Look at the ducks!”

My 3-year-old was tugging on my hand. We were at Walt Disney World. My mom and dad were racing ahead to catch the boat to Hollywood Studios which was just pulling up to the dock. I was torn. I wanted to keep up with my parents but I wanted to honor my daughter’s thrill at seeing the ducks.

Waving wildly at my daughter and I, my parents won. I tugged gently on my daughter’s hand and said, “Honey, we can look later. The boat is here now. We have to catch up with Noni and Papa.”  I urged her forward.

She stopped. She let go of my hand. She stamped her little foot and said, “But I just wanted to show you the ducks!”

My daughter won. I waved at my parents to go ahead without us. (They begrudgingly waited.) And I stopped to look at the ducks.

It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of Disney World and the sense of urgency to see and do everything. The same is true for the grocery store. Or for writing that next blog post. Or the sense of urgency to get that mountain of laundry folded. (Okay. I admit. I’ve never felt that particular sense of urgency but I’ve heard that some of you out there have.)  When I can’t fall asleep at night I try to figure out how many days you would need to “see and do everything” at Disney World and I fall asleep before I can come up with a worthy number. Disney World is full of things to do and see. It’s the greatest marketing ploy around, creating so much to do you just have to come back. And real life is the same way. There will always be another load of laundry to fold.

And so, when everyone is in a rush to catch the next bus, someone in our family will invariably say, “Hey! Look at the ducks!” Or, while navigating through the Christmas crowds at the mall my husband will grab my hand and say, “Look! I see some ducks.” It’s our cue to slow down. Savor. Enjoy each moment.

It’s a lesson we’ve carried beyond Walt Disney World.

It’s a lesson that bears repeating.

Whether you are at Walt Disney World or the mall or buried in laundry, remember, you can’t possibly see and do everything. Take a moment or two. Slow down. Breath. People watch. Ask your child a silly question while she still wants to talk to you. Hold your child’s hand a little tighter before he’s a teenager and rushing off to the football game without you.

Time will fly by fast enough.

No need to hurry it along.

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Awwww, Google! You Remembered!

I clicked on Google to google something, of course. I’m an old Googler from way back. One of my favorite pastimes. My kids say my epitaph is going to read, “Let’s Google it!”

But I digress….

So, I click on Google and what do I see?

This….

Image

So cute! Cakes and cupcakes. Sparklers and candles. I just adore the Google pictures each day. It’s my second favorite pastime, besides actual Googling, of course. I hover over the picture and discover something new and an hour is lost learning about C. V. Raman or Maria Callas or the invention of soap. (Here I go. Digressing again. Must be my age. Wink, wink.)

Today, I see the cakes and the candle and wonder, “Who else shares my birthday today?”

I hover the mouse over the picture and low and behold it says:

Happy Birthday, Jane!

My heart skips a beat. Google remembered!

I’m so touched. And honored. And awestruck.

And then, I realize (fairly quickly, because I’m not that egocentric) that the image will only be seen by me.

But that’s okay.

Google remembered my birthday.

That’s enough for me.

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Punks Unite! (Well, For Today Anyway.)

It’s October 25th. And do you know what today is?

Punk For A Day Day!

This tickles me because my husband is always saying, “Quit being a punk!”

When I discovered it’s a day to celebrate, well, me – I have to admit. I got a little excited. But then I began to wonder, am I really a punk?

I consulted Merriam-Websters.

The first definition is “prostitute.” Nope. Not me. And since I eschew heavy make-up  and high heels of any variety, I’m sure I’ve never been mistaken for one.

Gangster or hoodlum? Me? Little Miss Rule Follower and Defender of the Weak? Strike two.

Dabbling in nonsense and foolishness? Now we’re getting somewhere. (Take this post, for instance.)

Then I found this little gem at wikiHow: “A fierce individualist who has a bone to pick with the profit-driven world.”

Now that’s a definition I can relate to.

I have complained here, many a time, on how I feel like I don’t fit in. How I seem to have lived my life backwards. My timing is always off. I don’t belong to any one crowd. Blah, blah, blah.

I’ve embraced my quirks. At this point in my life, I’m a peace that I married too young the first time and a little old the second time. I was a young mother and then an old mother. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and I didn’t care about growing up. I was a music major studying classical voice and rocking out to Metallica in between classes. I was the designated driver at every single party in high school (yes, high school) and college. I still wear Minnetonka moccasins, Keds and peace signs, as I have for the past thirty years. I don’t care that they’ve gone in and out of style – I’ve never stopped wearing them.

That’s me. I’m a rebel.

And I have always been repulsed by blatant materialism and greed. I love it when I hear about a celebrity who lives in a 2000 square foot home and drives a Prius. I think companies like Toms Shoes  are amazing and I wish I had thought of it first.

But when wikiHow proceeds to tell me how to look like a punk? That’s when I get my panties in a bunch. Didn’t the definition say “fierce individualist?”

I don’t have spiky hair. I don’t wear leopard print leather pants with a punk-band-goth-t-shirt with my cowboy boots and dog collar. I don’t wear brightly colored make-up. I hardly wear any at all. Reading their cookbook list is making me panic. How can I celebrate me, today, when I can’t conform?

Wait. A punk is a non-conformist. And I’m going to celebrate all the non-conforming things about me that I love. And you should, too! (The things about you, that is.)

Are you a non-conformist? Yay! Punks unite!

Well, for today, anyway.

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10 Things I Never Dreamed In A Million Years I’d Say. (Okay. Maybe In A Million. But Certainly Not In 100 Years.)

About a year ago, I was bemoaning the fact that it’s 2012 and we still don’t have flying jet packs.

And then, yesterday, as my children were calling for me a flight of stairs away (Do your children scream downstairs for you, too? One of my big pet peeves. Yet, I always respond. What is wrong with me?) words left my lips that sounded so foreign, so odd, but made perfect sense to my tech-savvy self. (Okay. I’m not very tech savvy. At all. But when I said #3, I felt like the perfect techno-geek.)

It got me thinking. When I was sitting in Algebra class, oh-so-many-years-ago, and we were sitting around figuring out how old we’d be in the year (gasp!) 2000 and wailing “We’re going to be sooooo oooollllddddd!” (36 years) besides the ancient age of 36, there were many other things we never could have imagined. So many other things we never could have predicted would come from our fossilized and parentified lips.

1. How can you have any dessert when you haven’t eaten your meat?

2. Boy, that Zumba class really kicked my butt this morning.

3. Hold on. I need to turn off my book.

4. I just hit 190 followers on my blog!

5. Because I said so.  (Or some similar version.)  (Okay. Not very original. But when we heard that as kids we all vowed we’d never say it. Am I right?)

6. Honey, don’t forget to charge the car.

7. Wait a sec, I’ll just Google it.

8. Oooo. I love that song. What’s the name of it again? Here. I’ll Shazam it and then download it when I get home! Hey! I don’t have to wait. I can download it now!

9. I just Viggled the Today show. It’s on for four hours! That’s 240 points!

10. Upon leaving the house and forgetting, yet something else – I’ll be right back. I forgot my phone.

So, what did you dream you’d never say?

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It’s Time For The Pause That Refreshes!

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It’s time for the Jane Family annual beach trip!

Ahhhhhh!

And I’ll be soaking up every last relaxing minute because when we arrive home it’ll be time to take #1daughter back to college. :(

And the boys will start back to school in just 2 short weeks. I will never get used to this early August back to school start date.

Hope you all are enjoying these last days of summer!

See you soon!

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The Sandy Hook Elementary Snowflake Project. An Opportunity For Healing.

The first day of holiday break and my daughter, home from college, dragged her brothers to the kitchen table.

“We’re making snowflakes. As many as you can. And we’re sending them to Sandy Hook Elementary.”

She had heard about the Snowflake Project for Sandy Hook Elementary on Facebook and like many of us, was searching for a way to help.

So two young boys, under the firm direction of their older sister, sat for hours at the kitchen table, designing, cutting, decorating. Pleased with some of their creations. Tossing their failures (or giving them to Mom, because Mom loves everything they create.)

PicMonkey Collage

And then, they wrote little notes, welcoming the students back to school, placed their creations in an envelope and sent them on their way. A small gesture. But so meaningful for my children to help with the healing, theirs and ours.

After my own children went back to school I was curious about the snowflake project and found this post.  Sandy Hook was inundated with snowflakes, from all over the world. An outpouring of love and caring. More snowflakes than they needed, they are no longer accepting snowflake donations. But if you are moved to help, check in here.

Or, create your own winter wonderland. At your school. Your home.

Snowflakes. To remind us of what is beautiful.

And precious.

And fleeting.

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An Open Letter To All Teachers Out There But Especially My Son’s

Attention All  Fourth Grade Teachers! (Although, with a few adjustments this could apply to all teachers.)

We, the parents of the children you teach, would like to be parents. And real estate agents. And contractors. And doctors and lawyers. Or advertising reps. Or designers. Or ditch diggers.

We did not sign up to be teachers.

Oh sure. We signed up to teach our children manners and respect. We teach them our religious beliefs and all about the birds and the bees. We teach them how to make their bed and throw a baseball.

All of the above and more fall into our job description as a parent.

It is not, however, listed anywhere in our job description that we must spend our family time with our child continuing the job you started at school.

We did not sign up for the two hour “homework” sessions after school, with detailed instructions for the parent on how to teach the reading comprehension assignment (which we have to sign, proving we completed it with our child). We did not ask for the solar system project where we had to teach our children the order and size of all the planets so that he, and by “he” I mean “I”, could show him how to build it according to scale ($60 later in supplies.)

And for the kicker that prompted my letter to you today, we did not and I repeat, we did not sign up to type any more papers. We have been there, done that. But when my dear son, my sweet, responsible, hard working, non-procrastinating son is practically in tears at the keyboard because it has taken him forever (and by “forever” in a 9-year-old’s perspective I mean “an hour”) to type a tiny portion of his story and I am tempted to jump in there and do it for him? I paused.

I shouldn’t have to type his papers for him. And he shouldn’t, at 9 years old, be expected to type his own papers if he hasn’t yet received the proper keyboarding instruction to do so, with plenty of practice so that he can proficiently type his own papers at a reasonable speed.

He is nine. He is a responsible, conscientious student. He starts assignments when  you assign them and works diligently until he gets it done. He is bright and doesn’t need busy work.

What my child needs, what any child needs, is time to play outside. Time to make brownies with their mom, learning (by accident) about fractions and degrees Fahrenheit. They need to be encouraged to read on their own but they should be allowed the free time to be read aloud to by their parent. When we’re working 2 hours after dinner on homework, there is little time left for Harry Potter before bed.

Don’t get me wrong. I applaud your efforts in the classroom. I demand that my children respect you and your rules. They are expected to give 110% to their schoolwork. And I don’t mind running a few multiplication drills before dinner or quizzing him on his spelling words.

What I don’t understand is the assignment after assignment after assignment my 9-year-old child is expected to complete that he has neither the ability nor the life experiences to complete on his own.

Homework should be an extension of classroom material. Yes. But it should be, always and forever, commensurate with the maturity and the abilities of the child to which it is assigned.

If the parents are doing the homework, the child is getting the impression that he or she is inadequate. My son lamented, “Why can’t I type fast like you?” Uh. Because I had a typing class, for a full semester and I’ve been typing for years and years and have had plenty of practice.

Assign my child age and skill level appropriate homework. Work that my child is capable of completing on his own, with little parental intervention. Homework that reinforces what you’re teaching in the classroom, giving him additional practice. Work that allows him to explore and create. Bolstering his confidence when he finishes it all by himself. Allowing him to experience pride in his work, not someone else’s.

Please.

It’s all I ask.

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Shame On You, First Baptist Church In Crystal Springs, MS!

Shame, shame on you, congregation of First Baptist Church in Crystal Springs, Mississippi!

Members of the church, who just happen to have black skin, wanted to be married. In their own church. And a few bad apples, who just happen to have white skin, pitched a fit – threatened to fire the pastor if he married them-because there had never been a “black” wedding in their 129 year old church.

News flash, First Baptist Church. It’s 2012. Prohibiting marriage because of skin color is old, old, even ancient, news. We’ve moved on to the gay marriage debate. Get with the program!

To my great relief, “the vast majority of Crystal Springs residents, blacks and whites alike, were “blown away” by the church’s decision.” (There is a God.)

But to my great embarassment, we made international news. (A God with a wry sense of humor and an obvious lesson in humility.)

The venue chosen. Invitations printed. RSVPs received. And then, the day before the big event?

Outrage from a few bad apples.

For shame!

To avoid marring their special day (and save his job), the pastor found another church so that the wedding may proceed.

Considering the outrage from local citizens and other church members, how about rallying around this couple and their guests, overshadow the few bad apples and allow the wedding to take place?

Just a thought.

Whatever.

It’s sad. It’s pathetic. And I apologize to my husband for not believing him when he told me about this story. (Yes, I admit it. I really was Googling it because I didn’t believe you. It wasn’t research for a blog post like I said.)

On this beautiful Sunday morn, whatever your beliefs, please say a prayer and/or send loving thoughts to the Crystal Springs couple, their family, their congregation and those few bad apples.

Not because it’s the Christian thing to do.

Because it’s the RIGHT thing to do.

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