Thursday, June 19, 2014

Just The Tips

I like giving advice.  I especially like giving advice when I don't have to see anyone rolling their eyes, doing the exact opposite of what I've suggested, or worse, ignoring me.  You've probably noticed, though, that my blog posts tend to be heavier on the fluff and lighter on the advice.  That is, until this one!  Here we go with all advice, no fluff.  Okay, so it'll probably be, like 90/10 advice to fluff.  Maybe 80/20.  Just pay attention!

  • ADD CRUNCH to your ice cream.  Cold, sweet, creamy treats are better with a bit of a bite.  Honey roasted peanuts are a favorite on almost every flavor other than mint, but you will also enjoy crushed graham crackers, cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels, M & M's (Or, as Cupcake calls them, "LMNs." She's been singing a lot of alphabet song, lately.), plain pretzels, dry roasted peanuts, and any kind of sweet baking morsel. 
  • BE KIND always.  Do you seriously think you'll ever regret being kind to someone?  Even if they don't deserve, notice, or appreciate your kindness, you still did the right thing.  If not for your own sake, do it for Helen.  
  • BE GRATEFUL and dwell on your gratitude.  I've given myself two Summer Projects to complete.  One is to toilet train Cupcake, the other is to make sure Rip Claw understands how grateful he should be for his blessings.  He gets rewarded with a star for writing at least 5 days a week in his Big Book of Thanks. I realized that in order to feel gratitude for what he does have, he has to be able to see and understand what it means to have not.  I've taken to telling him about something mildly horrible each day in order to drive home the message that he's got it good.  Sunday, I showed him a newspaper picture of a street in Iraq where dozens of men walked with rifles held high, having just volunteered to help stop the rebel terrorists from killing innocent people.  Thursday, I told him about how people used to have to go to stores to shop for things, and if they couldn't find what they wanted, they would have to use a phone book to call another store.  Then, if they ordered something through the mail, it might take a month to arrive.

School has been out for 2 weeks, and already he's writing letters backward and forming sentences like "in do'nt go tso stores" Love it.
  • EAT A CALZONE made like I make them.  Recipe available upon request.  I'm not including it because it would bring my fluff percentage up to at least 30.
  • READ because reading is awesome.  I recently finished The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd and loved it.  I'm now in the midst of a library copy of One Summer by Bill Bryson, and I'm seriously considering buying a copy for Charming to read at the same time so that I'll have someone to talk about it to.  I know the author wasn't in America, in 1927, experiencing all that was happening, but the book reads like you're being told a first-hand account of really cool historical events.  If you've read it, please let me know so that I can talk to you about it instead of blurting out things like, "Prohibition was the worst!" and "Wow.  Babe Ruth." at random times.
  • THINK OUTSIDE THE RED when it comes to fries.  I feel that I may have failed newcomers here by not posting my fry dipping advice all the time.  
  • EXERCISE.  I don't have to tell you that, though, right?  There's really no excuse not to.
I don't know who Bill Phillips is, but he's right.
I also don't know if I could eat a doughnut that large, but if it's blueberry cake, I might like to try.
  • GIVE IN to your quirks.  I only recently stopped making excuses for mine, and I must say, it has been quite freeing.  I stack the papers neatly just before I put them in the shredder.  I color coordinate my to-do list based on how much I like or hate the task.  "Make phone calls" is in orange, because making phone calls is the worst, and orange is the worst color post-it I have.  It bothers me when the two sides of the dishwasher racks are unevenly weighted, like the left side is going to tease the right side for having to work harder.  Everybody has their quirks, and the sooner we all admit them, the sooner we can find others with whom to commiserate.
  • SMILE at someone.  One thing I love about being a mostly-stay-at-home-mom is the absence of customers and co-workers telling me to smile.  I smile a lot, because I'm a happy person. When I'm not smiling, it's usually because I'm not a complete idiot walking around with a toothy grin spread across my face to hide the absence of intelligent thoughts. When someone tells me to smile, I immediately want to scowl and kick them in the teeth.  However, I'm telling you to do it because when you give someone a friendly smile, it's really hard for them not to smile back.  Here, I'll even give you some help!

So, how do you think I did?  Nowhere close to 90/10, eh?  

Care to share any of your quirks?

Calzones.  Just a friendly reminder that my recipe is available.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Stranger Searching

I did something Thursday that I have never done before.  I clipped an obituary from the newspaper and hung it on my refrigerator.  I also think I fell slightly in love with a total stranger who died peacefully in her sleep on June 7, 2014.  I don't think I'm alone in my mildly obsessive habit of scanning the obituaries for the ages of the deceased, hoping they're all older than my grandparents, way older than my parents, and way, way older than me.  If I happen upon a young person's obituary, I then (obviously) try my hardest to investigate the cause of death to ensure that either they died of unnatural, rare causes, or that they were probably unhappy anyway.  You know, if they don't leave behind any children or a grieving spouse and they're picture is from their high school yearbook but they graduated in the '70's, I feel better somehow.  Helen's obituary didn't list her age in bold, so I had to pause to look for her date of birth, and I'm so glad I did.

"Wife, mother, church lady, gramma-- GRAMMARIAN?  That's it!  That's how I want to be remembered!"  I was going to stretch the truth a bit and say that my first impulse was to chuckle, or even guffaw at the idea of having "grammarian" listed in my obituary, but, yeah.  That was my first thought.  As I read on, I had to deal with the nagging memories of all my grammar errors.  It was kinda like a quick Christmas Carol-esque sequence, where I was quickly, silently haunted by comma splices and quotation marks placed before periods, all "Whooooooooo"ing and "BOO"ing in my brain.

I did actually chuckle aloud when I read this part:
Is there any more important war to fight?  I wish I could have been one of Helen's soldiers.  Suddenly, I realized that I wasn't being an annoying nerd when I correct people's use of apostrophes or gently tell them to lose, not loose, an 'o' when they have lost something.  I've been fighting!  I've been fighting with strength and honor for what I know is right.

Helen and I didn't have much else in common.  She grew up in Ohio, I've always lived in Florida.  She was a devoted Episcopalian, I'm a not-every-Sunday-goer Baptist church member.  She majored in English Literature, I in Psychology.  She traveled extensively and was a member of a knitting guild, I don't have a passport and couldn't knit a hat for a newborn if the newborn's life depended on it.  (I would wad up the yarn and place it gently on the newborn's head, of course, to keep it warm enough.)

Hers was an obituary that made me happy to read, especially when I got to the end.
"Isn't that just so Helen," I thought immediately. Keep in mind, I never met this woman or her family, but simply by reading about her long life (they didn't put in her date of birth, but she was married for 63 years, so I know she had to be old enough) I felt sure that she would have loved for random acts of kindness to be done in her memory.

So, here I am, trying to figure out which stranger and how to act kindly to them.  I wish I could give someone a lot of money, but we didn't budget for Helen's life-changing obituary when we were planning where our funds would go this month.  I thought about complimenting a girl at the gym today.  She ran on a noticeable incline at 7 mph on the treadmill, and then got on the elliptical for a while, and I was really impressed by her double cardio.  But I didn't know if telling her, "Wow!  I noticed you did cardio twice!" would come out as a compliment.  I thought about baking cookies for my favorite supermarket employees, but they're not really strangers; I see most of them 3 or 4 times a week.  I also thought about letting some other drivers have my right of way, but I really hate it when other people do that.  (It isn't a favor for you to wave me and 3 other drivers ahead at a 4-way stop sign.  Just put your hand back on the steering wheel and take your turn.)  I'll come up with something, though, rest assured.  Or, I should say, rest in peace.

Goodbye, Helen.  Your soldiers will keep up the good fight.