Monday, June 28, 2010

A century of Mabel

Today is a pretty special day for my family as we celebrate the 100th birthday of my grandma, Mabel Wadding. Actually, we celebrated about a week ago with a big party (look at the pic—can't you tell we're all having the time of our lives?!). But today it's official, and any loved one who achieves centenarian status definitely deserves a shout out on this blog.

Long before the days of incubators and neonatal ICUs, my grandma survived her first few days in a shoebox sitting by the fireplace—weighing only three pounds. And she's proved to be a survivor ever since.

I could tell you countless stories of her life and her "Mabelisms" that never cease to make me laugh (or roll my eyes—like when she insists I haven't eaten enough when I've already had seconds and thirds of everything, or her concern that my "tootsies" will get cold when I'm going barefoot).

But simply put, if you've met her, you love her. She's just such a cutie and I'm in awe that, after all she's been through in the past 100 years, she continues to live an active life and always show concern for others. Plus, she raised my mom well and I'm reaping the benefits of that too!

(Not to be outdone by grandma, I also owe my brother-in-law some birthday wishes today…Happy Birthday Phil!! Hate to be a downer here, but something tells me your wife may outlive you…it's in the genes!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Under construction

As I've mentioned before, the older I get, the more of a homebody I see myself become. It’s my place of refuge, even if much of my time spent there is spent on cleaning, laundry, and kitchen duty. However, every once in a while, something upsets the balance of my home. Lately, that has been construction work to finish our lower level (previously just an unfinished storage room…but soon to be our new office).

Fortunately, the workers are there when I’m at work myself, and we have no other living spaces on that level of our home. Still, we come in from our garage to a mess of construction dust and plastic curtains, and I can’t seem to get upstairs fast enough. And because the workers leave the door wide open when they’re working, I spend my evening chasing after gigantic flies who have found their way inside. It’s just weird knowing that while I’m at work, strange men are entering my home and using my bathroom every day (yes, these are the kinds of weird things I think about).

Then, when we do cross paths with the workers, it’s not easy to communicate with them. Earlier this week the hubs stopped home and told one of the workers when he was leaving so they would know to shut the garage door when they left; in response, the guy gave him a confusing look, smiled, and simply pointed to another guy who actually spoke some English.

I’ve known many people who have lived in home construction for months or even years at a time (including plenty of do-it-yourself types) and I have to give those people credit. I hope we never have to move to a “fixer-upper.” I can’t wait to feel fully settled at home again. After all, there’s no place like it!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Precious time (wasted?)

I took the day off on Friday and decided to enjoy the peace and quiet of my neighborhood. During the weekend, the streets and park trails nearby are always bustling with people. But on the weekdays, it's quiet. I enjoyed the "me time," walking to the lake and sitting on the beach for awhile. (I was mesmerized watching a rowing club practice.) It was a perfect morning and I kept thinking I need to do this more often.

Then, to further postpone my house cleaning, I decided to hit the pool for an hour. I got to the pool…and there she was. That girl. I've probably been to the pool 30 times in my 4-plus years living in my condo. No matter when I go—morning or afternoon, weekend or weekday—that girl is always there.

She has food delivered to the pool. She pays her bills from the comfort of her chaise lounge. I find myself wondering what her story is. How can she possibly have this much free time on her hands? How can she sit there all day and not get bored out of her mind?! (And, has no one told her about melanoma yet?)

Cleary, daily tanning at the pool is not my thing, but maybe I could learn something from her obvious expertise in relaxing. I don't know her real story, so who am I to judge how she spends her time. On Friday when I saw her yet again, I thought about the fact that I have my own time wasters too. Some could argue I spend a little too much time browsing iTunes for new music or watching reality TV (or even blogging).

I often feel guilty when I take "me time" like I did on Friday. But I think there's something productive about occasionally wasting time. I need that to recharge and regain my sanity. It's healthy, and I could stand to do it more often. What are the time wasters that help you recharge? (I promise not to put you in the category of that girl at the pool!)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Why my dad rules

So, Father’s Day is coming up and, knowing my dad, we’ll be celebrating by letting him go to the driving range by himself (trust me, it’s what he wants). This year, Father’s Day weekend may be slightly upstaged by a different, once in a lifetime, family occasion (which we’ll report on soon). So, I’m going to talk about my dad a little early.

Lots of people say they have the world’s best dad, but I’m pretty sure my dad truly does rank at the top of the pack. Here are just a few reasons why:
  • My dad is crazy. If you’ve met him, you know. There would be far less laughter in my life without my silly (sometimes embarrassing) dad.
  • He is a human jungle gym for kids. When I was young, he mastered the art of getting me all hyper and giggly right before bedtime. I can’t wait to see him play with my kiddos someday.
  • My friends always thought my dad was super cool (and it’s a fact that my friends are incredibly bright people). Sometimes my friends even wanted to hang out with him, which was a little weird.
  • He would do anything for me. Over the years, he has rescued my sister and me from stranded cars, moved us multiple times, been our handyman, and our biggest cheerleader in everything we do.
  • He spends quality time with me from family vacations, to daddy/daughter dates growing up, to hockey and baseball games.
  • He made sure I grew up knowing what it meant to be a Christian.
  • He encourages me be myself. I’m reminded of the time I had to fly halfway across the country to have a very difficult conversation with a colleague. We joked about my fear that I would be a big cry baby, but in the end my dad told me, “just be yourself; you’re sensitive, and it’s okay if you cry” (and I did). Having that reassurance from my “tough guy dad” that I didn’t have to act tough meant a ton.
  • He told my husband to make me happy or else…
I could go on and on, but that’s a good taste of why my dad is pretty darn awesome. Happy (early) Father’s Day, Pappy!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

All aboard the hot tamale train

Oh, So You Think You Can Dance, how I love you! Welcome back to my television screen, where I will replay your contemporary, jazz and hip hop routines over and over again until my vocabulary overflows with adjectives like "raw," "organic," and "buck."

On Thursday, we got to meet the top 11. I'm pretty pumped about the new format this season where I get to see some of my old favorites as the all-stars. So far, my new favorites are Lauren and Kent.

The top 11 also got 11 seconds to introduce themselves to America. Kind of reminds me of how we all need the standard "tell me about yourself" response to rattle off in job interviews. (Except in job interviews I don't usually talk about my plan to become a professional contemporary, Broadway, hip-hop, salsa dancer...even though I'm determined to find a way to make this a highly sought after skill in my corporate office.)

If you had 11 seconds to introduce yourself to the world, what would you say? I'm a writer, definitely not a speaker, so my 11 seconds would probably sound something like Kent's when he immediately got tongue-tied. Thinking they'd just do another take, he stopped for a moment and then said "what?! I don’t get to re-do it?" Finally, at about the 10-second mark, he just shouted "I'm single!" Bless his cute little heart. I'm sure we can all think of millions of seconds we’d like to re-do, but instead I guess we just do our best with the one take we get (and hopefully learn to laugh at ourselves for our flubs of all sizes).

Ooo, did you catch that? A life lesson and a dance lesson all in one episode! Nice. Enjoy your weekend folks and don't forget to check out the Tony Awards on Sunday!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spelling reform

I love that America is full of passionate people willing to take a stand, donate money, and volunteer time for things they believe in. I don’t always identify with another’s cause, but that’s generally ok. Then again, there are certain causes that I think are just downright stupid and a waste of time. Case in point? These people who protested outside of last week’s National Spelling Bee to call for the adoption of phonetic spelling because, basically, they think regular English spelling is too difficult.

Now, I write for a living, so you’d think I’d be against this cause because of my devotion to the English language. But the truth is, I’m a terrible speller. In fact, had I worked in corporate communications 30 years ago and had only a typewriter to work with, I would have been in serious trouble. Spell check is a godsend for me. (On the other hand, my co-blogger was once a top speller in her elementary school back in the day.) Nevertheless, can we all agree there are more important and sensible things to fight for? We’re not asking people to read Chinese here. If you want to fight for better literacy, I imagine there are better ways than this silly phonetic spelling campaign.

And c’mon, isn’t there enough edge-of-your-seat drama at the National Spelling Bee as it is? Remember this girl? Keep on spellin’ crazy kids!

Friday, June 4, 2010

What I get to do

I think four-day work weeks are great, except that I usually still have to figure out how to cram five days worth of work into them. Oh well, TGIF anyway. I usually avoid blogging about my job. I like my job, but writing about it in my off hours just doesn't sound fun. But there are oh-so-many blogworthy moments related to crazy clients with over-the-top requests (and over use of really bad clip art).

My church has been doing a sermon series on faith in the workplace for the past few weeks. There have been some great messages about working with difficult people, embracing our "calling," etc. But the whole basis for the series has been around a single phrase: I get to go to work. Not I have to go to work—or some variation of that, which may or may not include the words "sucks" and "BOO!" But, it's our privilege to go to work—to help meet people's needs, to provide for our families and to grow as a person.

I get to go to work. Such a simple idea—yet so difficult for me to keep in mind during the day-to-day stress and frustrations of my job. Consider the fact that two days ago, a bird pooped on me in the parking lot at work. (Really, I can't make this stuff up.) My first thought was to curse the wretched place of employment where I both figuratively and literally get crapped on. While I don't think we have to outright thank God for the crap in our jobs, I know I could be better about staying positive.

Currently, my employer is preparing for a nurses strike so I'm learning a lot about unions, negotiations and federal mediators lately. It makes me think of this:

Somehow, I don’t think this strike will be quite as fun. No Christian Bale on the picket line either. But even so, at least I get to go to work.