I was sitting at our kitchen counter when I heard a thud. I looked up to see something falling to the ground and a flurry of feathers floating in the air.
Damn. That had to hurt.
I apprehensively opened the sliding glass door and stepped onto the deck, concerned about what I might find. Would it be a dead, disfigured carcass over which I would feel both heartbreak and disgust at the idea of having to dispose of it? Would it be a pissed off fowl ready to come at me as revenge for my ill-placed kitchen window? Thankfully, it was neither. What I found was a brilliantly beautiful bird sitting on my deck almost motionlessly, trying to figure out what the f*ck just happened to him. Continue reading “Saving a Bird – And the World – In Three Easy Steps”→
I am looking out my window, feeling the weight of things that have been bothering me. Things I’m so good at tucking away inside. Because they are dumb in the grand scheme. They are petty and poisonous and 100% of my own creating, and they don’t deserve to have light shined upon them where they might cause someone else pain. So I look out the window, hoping if I look long enough, the feelings will find it quite nice out there and decide to make a new home. Continue reading “The Gumball Tree”→
If you were to ever secretly record me watching television, you’d see a lot of this:
I am a crier. Just a few days ago, I found myself crying at that State Farm commercial where the guy keeps saying he’s never going to do something (get married, have kids, drive a minivan…), then it cuts to a shot of him on the couch with his sleeping wife and two kids saying, “I’m never letting go.” Those four words crawled right out of the television, down my throat, and wrestled themselves into nice fat lump for me to get all choked up on. That’s right, people. I cried at a STATE FARM COMMERCIAL. You can add that to the very long list of culprits which have made me weepy, including standing ovations, wedding toasts, the song “Gracie” by Ben Folds, cute old men doing just about anything, and the graduation episode of Saved By the Bell. (Damn you, Mr. Belding! I always knew you loved Zack best.) Continue reading “Compassion Is In the Details: #1000Speak”→
I am guest posting over on Tipsy Lit today to close out their Children’s Literature Week. I guess you could say this is my official announcement that I’m writing a book. I know. A blogger, writing a book? It’s unheard of. While in many ways it may seem like a natural step, it doesn’t always feel natural. In fact, it usually feels uncomfortable and frustrating writing and illustrating a book, even before a publisher enters the picture.
I hope you will head over to Tipsy Lit and check it out! Thanks!
I am really excited to have a guest post over at Winding Road today where I have a discussion with an inanimate object. And it turns out this inanimate object is kind of a smart ass. I would love for you to head over there and check it out. While you are there, poke around. Winding Road’s author, Kerry, has a very down-to-earth way of inspiring her readers to take small steps onto the path of self-improvement in order to help us navigate our lives a little more smoothly. She also talks about Elmo having balls. So basically, there’s something for everyone.
“I need three volunteers. You’re going to be Carly. You’re going to be Bo. And you’re going to be Lawrence.”
It was my first day in Mr. Stein’s sophomore Geometry class. And I had just been given a giant name tag that said Lawrence. What was going on here? I thought this was a Math class. And I hated Math. I mean, I was pretty sure it was a Math class. There was a poster of Einstein on Continue reading “What’s the Hypotenuse of a Love Triangle?”→
It has been something else around here. Thanks to my minivan music video, this blog received more hits in a few days than probably the last two years combined. Next, the Life Sherpa of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch devoted his entire column to my post “Apparently All-Inclusive Attitudes Aren’t Part of the Resort Package,” where I took issue with an earlier piece he had written chiding parents of young children. And then he went and briefly mentioned me again in this Sunday’s column. It appears that a younger woman offering to buy an older man a beer is newsworthy. I will take it, especially considering the fact that when my version of “Texaco, Texaco over the hills to Mexico” differed from my daughter’s, she told me that now they sing it different from how we did in “the olden days.”
I feel a little like a celebrity. I mean, the video has caught on like virtual wildfire. My daughter said that her friend told her that her older brother told her that practically the entire 6th grade class has seen it because a boy in their 2nd grade class showed it to HIS older brother who then showed it to all his friends when they came over. Um, did you follow that? Basically, I’m the Justin Bieber of the elementary school. Not quite Taylor Swift yet, but give it time. All I know is that I’m kind of a big deal in the parking lot at pick up time. And my daughter has been dubbed “famous” for her starring role in the video. Part of me hopes this doesn’t make her too popular though, as I have decided it is better for my kids to be nerds. Not tortured outcasts, mind you. I simply want them to have just enough social clout that people find them likable, but not enough that I will have to spend my Friday nights waiting up for them…because they will be at home watching 80’s movie classics and eating cheese balls with their nerd friends.
But these past weeks have also taught me that I am semi-uncomfortable with semi-fame. Compliments are like a funky little form of sadomasochism. They make me feel good, but at the same time, a part of me feels very uncomfortable. My immediate way of dealing with compliments is to make it seem like it wasn’t a big deal: Oh, the video wasn’t really that hard to make. They have programs that any dummy can use. OR I’m just weird like that. I don’t know why I spend my time doing this stuff. OR Thanks, but it was just a fun little family project. The kids were just happy to be hams in front of the camera. In reality, I do spend a lot of time and effort on most things dealing with this blog. And I am over-Saturn’s-moon-slap-me-jazzed-do-a-high-kick-yell-SUPERSTAR-like-Mary-Catherine-Gallagher-happy when people respond to it in a positive way.
Then I got an email from a friend I went to high school with. This is what she said:
I just have to tell you that the reason I had been thinking about you is because in between all the mom stuff, house stuff, grocery shopping, etc (YOU KNOW!), I feel like I can get extremely short and cranky with my family and when I read your blogs and posts, I am truly inspired by your zest (decided to use a good word like that, with your love for words and all) for life and how much fun you seem to have. I seriously think of you and think of how lucky your kids are and your husband is and how much fun you have, while still being a great mom and teaching your kids what is right and wrong.
First off, that email made my day, more than the excitement of all the hub-bub that had been surrounding my blog at the time. To know that something I enjoy doing somehow helps other people navigate through their lives in even the smallest way is the gold medal of compliments. But here comes that flip side of accepting something nice said about you. She painted such a glowing reflection of me, a reflection I feel on most days I can’t claim to be mine. I joked with her that while reading my blog might help her stop being cranky and short with her children, I am usually JUST THAT with my own children while WRITING THE VERY BLOG she feels inspired by. Wow. I felt a little like a fraud. I stumble through motherhood just like everyone else; I just usually choose to only write about the more lighthearted moments of it. I don’t like to complain too much in public, mostly because I have little patience for others who do. But in doing this, am I unintentionally portraying a false image of my life? Am I somehow making other mothers say things to themselves like, “Why can’t I be more like THAT kind of parent?” Trust me, I am no model mother…nor do I want to be.
But I had to realize that wasn’t the point of her compliment. And you know what? My kids ARE lucky to have me: an imperfect mother who loves them like no one else can and who lets them star in music videos. And every mom who reads this has children who are lucky to have her: another imperfect mother who loves them like no one else can and who sometimes needs to read about the funny, heart-warming moments of my life to remind her that she has moments just like that in hers.
Needless to say, it has been nice that things have settled down a little around here, at least on the blog front…because my darned life won’t take a break long enough to let me ogle my site stats to find out exactly how many people have been reading my posts or let me plot my next strategy for taking over the viral world. In the meantime, here is a link to a post by Rage Against the Minivan that will make all parents feel better about striving for acceptable mediocrity most of the time. Happy Easter!
Movember calls for an awareness of men’s health issues and mental illness. Started in Australia, Movember has infiltrated the globe, and supporters work to raise money and awareness under the guise of mascot moustaches. You may notice my banner photo has conveniently grown one for the occasion.
Coming on the heels of October and Breast Cancer Awareness, Movember holds a rightful place. My husband actually made the observation last month at how much coverage breast cancer awareness receives in proportion to other health issues. I responded that it is probably because 1.) most everyone likes boobs for one reason or another and 2.) it is a disease that affects namely women, and women get stuff done. But Movember proves that men are stepping up to the plate on their own healthful behalf. And just as men have helped carry the flag for women’s health issues (like the NFL teams sporting pink on their uniforms in the month of October), we women need to do the same for them. After all, every woman has at least one man in her life she cares about, be it a husband, father, brother, son, boyfriend, uncle, grandfather, or friend.
Prostate Cancer is a disease on the minds of a lot of men. And it should be. I have heard it said that if a man lives long enough, it no longer becomes a question of if he will get prostate cancer, but when. That experience has proven to be true in my family. Both of my grandfathers battled with prostate cancer; one successfully, the other not so. My dad’s father was one of the lucky ones, and now in his nineties, he is giving time a run for its money. My mom’s dad had a much rougher go of it. (I remembered him in an earlier post.)
Papa, as I called him, was a tiger. But not a wild tiger…more like the tiger you see at the circus. The one who knows when to roar on cue and make people quake when necessary, but who also gives warm, gruff, fuzzy snuggles to those who care for him (we will just forget about that tiger that attacked Roy for the sake of making my analogy work, okay?). He battled prostate cancer TWICE, but it was not actually the cancer that took him in the end. He kicked that crap to the curb on both counts, but not without consequences. What finally took him from us was what the cancer opened him up to. By the time he died, he left behind a body that was missing a prostate, had one lung, was skin and bones, and had been ravaged by years of fighting off infections. To me, the amazing part of it was how long and hard my grandpa fought, how many times he beat the odds, and how he did it in way that made us think there was nothing to it. Despite his courage, faith, and determination, I am still left feeling that it was not fair. He should not have had to endure it. No one should.
So here’s to Movember. Here’s to helping keep the men we love healthy. Prostates may not be as pretty as boobs, but ugly things need love too. I recall a wise man in a wool hat once said, “In order to dig things that are pretty, it takes no special talent. What it really takes talent to do is to dig something ugly…dig something like a garage door. I mean, how many people say, ‘OH, look at that garage door!’ ? You know? I mean, you get a lot of this stuff, ‘Oh, what beautiful azaleas.’”
So in other words, let’s save some garage doors! You can help by spreading the word about Movember, liking the Movember Facebook Page, and/or making a donation to my Are You Finished Yet Movember Team. If you’re a man (or a very hairy woman who doesn’t mind going “au natural”), grow a ‘stache…and get yourself screened for prostate and testicular cancers (only the guys, I mean…that would be a waste of time for the hairy women. But they may want to get their hormone levels checked). If you’re a woman, encourage a man in your life to get screened.
Now watch this rap about a bunch of men who were rockin’ moustaches before Movember was a word. And stay tuned for next month’s awareness campaign…Decentember: National Please Stop Posting Pictures of Your Elf on the Shelf in Sexually Explicit Poses and Thinking It’s Funny Awareness Month.
Are you ready to read this blog post?…I can’t hear you!ARE YOU READY TO READ THIS BLOG POST???? Well, this should pump you up:
So I have admittedly never watched this music video before now, and somehow the bad-assitude of that song diminished the moment I saw a gaggle of mullets led by Captain Beret struttin’ down what clearly looks like a perfectly safe, well-lit city street.
Bad 80’s music video aside, “Eye of the Tiger” is arguably one of the top go-to songs when it comes to getting oneself psyched up, especially in the arena of athletics. And it conveniently came on the radio as we were driving to my daughter’s soccer game. I could feel its magic working on me; I was definitely pumped to go spectate the hell out of that game! But Grace was just sitting in the backseat, reading Freckle Juice by Judy Blume.
Throughout her young sports career, Grace has not exactly been the picture of the enthusiastic athlete. There was the time in pre-K soccer when the other team scored and she marched off the field, declared she was done, and walked straight to the parking lot. (My husband and I were of course laughing at her and videotaping the whole thing.) And then there was the time in first grade during her school’s annual kickball tournament when she was so clearly not enthralled with the game that she let three kicks go right past her without missing a beat in her conversation with a friend. We don’t force her to play sports, mind you; she is always willing to sign up. It is only after we have paid the slightly ridiculous fee that she suddenly informs us that the answer of “yes, I would like to play soccer again this year,” actually means, “no, I did not really want to play soccer even though I said I did, so I will now just whine every time you tell me I have to go to practice or a game.”
Thanks to my psychology minor (I totally just impressed you, didn’t I?), I know that part of her apathy stems from her belief that she just isn’t a good athlete…which stems from her fear of not being perfect at something the very first time she does it…which stems from the unfortunate strain of DNA I passed along to her. So when “Eye of the Tiger” began rockin’ our four-door sedan, I took this as a teachable moment of sorts. All Grace really needed was a little confidence to help her see all the fun that can be had playing a sport. Maybe what she needed was the eye of the tiger. It helped Rocky beat Mr. T, after all. And Grace only needed to beat a bunch of other second grade girls…fool.
Me: “Hey, G. You hear this song?”
Grace: “Uh huh.”
Me: “Well, this is probably the best song you could hear right before your soccer game. Lots of athletes listen to this song to get themselves pumped up to play. It’s got a good beat that gets you excited.”
Grace: (not even looking up from her book) That’s nice.
So much for the thrill of the fight. Apparently freckles are more thrilling.
But I bet you would never guess what happened next. Grace played the game of her life! The girl who normally does everything she can to avoid the ball was alert, aggressive, energetic…dare I say good? Maybe the “Eye of the Tiger” worked after all.
Or was it Freckle Juice? Was my daughter’s inner athlete awakened by a rousing piece of literature? I joked about the coach reciting excerpts from Blume’s books as his pre-game pep talk.
Then again, Freckle Juice is about a second grade boy named Andrew who desperately wishes he had freckles like Nicky. Unhappy with the way he is, Andrew allows himself to get taken advantage of trying to get freckles only to find out in the end that Nicky actually hates his own freckles. And both boys are reassured by their teacher that they are each just the way they need to be: Andrew is perfect without freckles; Nicky is perfect with them.
Well, look at that. A story about confidence. Just what she needed. I have always believed that literature is amazing stuff.