About Me

Hi, I'm Debbie. Sometimes, people like ask me what I do. Good question. I'm not always sure how to answer it myself! I'm hoping this blog helps me answer that question, or is at least fun to read along the way.

Friday, November 8, 2013

I'm Promoting Something for a Friend--Check it Out!

My friend Jennifer--who is not a blogger, but should be--has requested my help in promoting something.  Poor dear...apparently she believes my reach is much stronger than it is, as she asked me to "maybe post something on your blog."  I guess that means I'll have to shamelessly promote this blog, or at least this post.  Come Facebook, come Twitter, come MySpace, come Vine.  Come Pinterest, come Instagram, come Digg, come Slyme.

I made that last one up.  I think.

And I'll probably just email this link and see what happens.

Onto the promotion:

This year marks the fifth year of the Kids4Kids Sale at Schroeder (our children's school.)  What's that, you ask?  Well, mostly know this:

It's your opportunity to get rid of the crap in your house just before you get more crap during the holidays, and then all the OCD people of the world tell us January is "national get organized month" just as all we ADD people are wading through piles of crap and thinking, "Geez, get me while I'm down, won't you?"

I know, Jen, you were hoping I'd say something along these lines:

Schroeder is working with an organization called buildOn, a fabulous non- 
profit that teaches kids they can make powerful, positive changes in the world by building schools in  
developing countries.  300 schools have already been built!   Schroeder  
Elementary is working with the International Academy and the high school students from IA will actually help with the physical labor of building the school, along with the people of the  
village where it is getting built.  Schroeder students help all this through our Kids4Kids rummage sale, which allows our children to feel empowered, recognize how contributing to a larger group can make powerful change, and even do some recycling.  Yay rah rah!

Me?  I'm just thinking:
Kids4Kids sale=GET RID OF CRAP IN HOUSE.  The whole building a school thing is a nice bonus, though.  Yay rah rah.

It's fitting that Jennifer contacted me about this, seeing as just this weekend I ventured into our basement sober.  You see, whenever the school year starts, I get all Martha-Stewart-y in my mind, and picture myself organizing my home into Pinterest worthy perfection.  This never happens, because I'm marginally ADD, and when I look at piles of crap, my head locks up, and I think something along the lines of "f--- it", and then go for a walk or mow the lawn or something.  (See, I can still get something done and call myself productive.)

This year, so as to not set myself up for failure, I decide I wouldn't even think about our basement.  Nope, not at all.  Not thinking.

But this weekend I walked down there.  Eyes open.  AGH!

Full disclosure: I still haven't made much of a dent.  And I have a sneaking suspicion that my children will suddenly attach themselves fervently to old toys that they never play with.  (This is another reason the basement never gets cleared away.  I lack the balls to just chuck stuff when the kids aren't looking.  I can only presume all those organized, neat-freak moms have been toy sabotaging since day one.)  But I do have a few things that my son, at least this past weekend, said he doesn't play with anymore.  These are set out on our Ping-Pong table, which, of course, is pretty much never used for ping-pong as it's typically covered with crap.  What? Isn't yours?

I'm hoping that knowing about this upcoming sale--and agreeing to help promote it in some form--will inspire me to bribe and force my children to get rid of stupid crap create positive feng-shui in my basement, while showing my children ways to recycle and help underprivileged communities build schools. 

Want to know more?  I'll try to keep you posted, here or on Facebook, or on the Kids4Kids facebook page.

Now get busy cleaning your basements!  For cryin' out loud, the holidays are coming up! get busy saving the world, and let the surrounding neighborhoods know about our awesome sale, which will be Thursday, November 21st, from 4:05 to 6 pm in the Schroeder Elementary cafeteria. 


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dental Visits Are Awesome!

I thought I'd write about going to the dentist today.  Because nothing spells fun like a good dental story, right?

Actually, I'm pretty much the least dental-scared/traumatized person in the world.  I believe this is a result of good mouth genes, good oral care on the home front, not drinking pop as a child, and having an uncle as my dentist.  Going to see the dentist always meant sitting in a chair, getting your teeth cleaned, saying "hi" to my uncle, picking out a bouncy ball from the treasure chest, and getting a Frosty with Mom on the way home.  I mean, that's a good deal, right?  So imagine my shock upon hearing, in school, that half the world was in terror of dentists.  Huh?  What gives?

Who knew that half the world was experiencing brutal mouth-shots and drilling and all sorts of other freaky stuff at the dentist.  We never got cavities in our house; I associated shots with regular immunizations--scary stuff--and then later the dermatologist.  (We were always getting funny lookin' moles sliced off.)  Why weren't people scared of the skin doctor, the guy who would greet me with, "Goddamn it, wear sunscreen!"  In February?

I didn't go to a new dentist until after I married and moved.  This new quack poked all over my mouth and promptly declared I had 6 cavities that needed to be taken care of, pronto, and I probably didn't want that metal stuff, but fancy new porcelain, or my mouth would look all ugly.  Umm...no.  I checked out and noticed my neighbor's paperwork laying right on the reception counter.  Strike two, buster.  I made an appointment with my uncle 3 hours away.  "Your teeth are fine.  You have some pits, and those can get stains.  That guy was trying to milk you," he said.  More or less.

My brothers were in dental school at the time--or maybe they were newly graduated--and I think I had them take a cursory look in my mouth then.  When I say cursory, they may or may not have used a dinner fork to poke around.  They might have muttered something about tooth #16 looking possibly suspicious.  And when I say "they," I think I only mean one brother, but I do have two, twins, and yes, both are dentists.

I found a new dental practice closer to my then home.  It was a rather new and shiny looking office, and a youngish dentist said tooth #16 should probably be filled.  I was okay with that.  Call me crazy, but at this point, I was really curious about what getting a cavity filled was like.  What kind of trauma was I missing out on?  I wanted to know!

All I really remember was a drill-y noise and a yicky odor.  I don't even remember if they gave me a shot.

To be fair, I had four teeth removed for orthodontics work, and that wasn't exactly a cake walk, but by then, I'd already sucked up getting a mole removed from a lady-parts area, which caused me to pass out on the exam table and wake up in my own urine, so really, even those tooth extractions weren't that memorable.  (And my mom probably still got me a Frosty afterwards.)

Nowadays, the worse part of a dental exam for me is when they do that little poke-poke thing were they assign a number to your gums to check for gum health (I think; please note I'm not being supervised by a dentist as I write this, so please, in no way let this guide your dental care.)  I must say, I feel a little judged during this part.  "You'll want to hear a 1, 2, or 3," they tell me.  Apparently, you're a total looser if they ever say "4", or "5", or "1,240."  So I sit there, staring at whatever might be on the ceiling (I photo of a farm and stream today; nice touch), thinking, "Please give me straight 1's."  But I don't get straight 1's.  I get a bunch of 1's, and some 2,'s, and sometimes a 3, which typically happens near the back of my mouth, where I still have my wisdom teeth.  (Yes, I still have my wisdom teeth.  This must mean I am wise!)  Am I a loser at brushing and flossing my wisdoms?  Am I undeserving of them?  Is a 1 like an A?  And if so, is a 2 a B?  Or is it a B+?  And what's a 3?  I hate to think I'm getting C's on my mouth report card.  'Cause I'm not really sure.  Can we say a 3 is still a B or B-? 

I get a quick check-through from my brother the dentist.  Yes, the dentist today was my brother.  I typically just go to my uncle's partner, as my uncle has retired, and that seemed like the easiest route.  But my mom goes to my brother, and was also visiting to take him out for his birthday lunch, and apparently his hygienist had a last minute opening, and I was due for a cleaning, so why not?  I guess my brother did a decent check-up, although a dentist has never stuck his fingers in my ears before.* 

I made sure to take some stickers on the way out.  I have enough bouncy balls.  And my mom still took me out to lunch after, which is even better than a Frosty.**

And that's why you should not be scared of the dentist.  The end.

*When my little brother the dentist did that ear thingie, he asked me to open and close my mouth and said he was checking something my jaw.  Seems legit. 
**Unless you think a Frosty is better than a whole lunch.  I'm okay with that opinion. Frosties are pretty damn good.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Mystery of Cherry Lifesavers

My brothers and sister sometimes dig at my mom for being cheap.  We recall having to open the car doors--while still moving somewhat--to pick up bottles lying on the side of the road waiting to have their deposits cash-out.  We joke about the time our mom was too cheap to buy some drink called New York Seltzer Water, so instead she mixed Crystal Light with club soda and declared it the same thing.  I believe she spent hours on the phone with insurance companies because she was erroneously overcharged some small amount--the arena of 10 bucks or less--for an IV stint. 

So, as her daughter, it should be no surprise that I had to spring into action when an unauthorized purchase of Lifesavers showed up at my doorstop last week.

A $3 bag of cherry Lifesavers.

The shipping was $5.99.

That's, like, $9 for a bag of candy.

Umm, no.  Not on my watch.

So I looked up my credit card statement, and there it was: the unauthorized Lifesavers via Walgreens pharmancy.  Plus, same day, an unauthorized charge of just under $200 to J.C. Penny. 

I don't know what that one was for.  I never received anything from J.C. Penny.  Just the Lifesavers.

So here's the irony: the douchbag who somehow snagged my credit card number and did some sort of J.C. Penny/Lifesavers binge probably would have gotten away with it if they didn't send my that little "thank you" of Lifesavers.  (It was my husband's suggestion that the Lifesavers were a "thank you."  Really?  Couldn't you do better than that?)  I mean, sure, $200 is a considerably more significant chunk o' change than $9, but if that was their only charge, I possibly would have glanced over it at the end of the month--maybe missed it entirely--or at least figured I was a bit ADD about remembering what I might have ordered from J.C. Penny.  It wouldn't, to be honest, scream "ripped off credit card."

But I can assure you, I never would buy a $3 bag of Lifesavers and pay an additional $6 for shipping.  Okay, I might, but it would likely involve considerable and memorable trauma, an act of desperation. 

So here's a tip, jerks who want to snag my credit card: don't send me a cheapo "thank you".  I'll noticed.  And it will piss me off.  Seriously, if you would have sent me a $1000 couch or something, I would have let my kids jump all over it, spilled juice on it, invited the neighborhood cats to sharpen their claws on it or whatever.  But my kids started begging to eat those $9 Lifesavers, pretty please, I was like, "No way!  You are not touching that bag of candy, as I do most certainly did NOT pay for them, and WILL not pay for them, so do NOT open the bag."

Walgreens was very nice about saying they would refund/cancel the charge.  My credit card company went though their whole stop/reissue exercise, and I'm not paying for the Lifesavers or whatever was ordered from JC Penny.  (What was it?  I nice pair of boots?  Pretty new bedding? An ugly dress?)

Meanwhile, Walgreen told me to enjoy the Lifesavers.  I haven't let my kids know yet, but I treated myself to one.  It was tasty.

But certainly not worth 9 bucks.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How Facebook is like my Refrigerator

Note:  Of course today isn't Friday...but I wrote it on Friday.

It's Friday: otherwise known as that day I plan on getting nothing done.  Now that the kids are in school, my schedule is pretty open to accomplish ambitious, start-a-business or create-pin-worthy-closets type of projects, but by Friday, I kind of run out of steam.  Let's not act like this doesn't happen in the corporate world. 

So although I might do something like fold a batch of laundry or even prep some dinner by stealing my neighbor's basil (they said I could, plus they borrowed a cowboy hat yesterday, so I think they owe me), I'm lowering my standards today.  Might wash my hair, but might skip it, too, to prolong the lovely blow-out I got yesterday.  Thinking of doing the good deed of visiting my grandma. 

And, of course, I'm writing this blog post.

I had my writer's group this week, during which my bloggie/writer friend Pam--who's new website, by the way, it completely awesome, and you should check it out--submitted a piece about Facebook.  By now, most of us have gone through some weird Facebook love/hate, drop-out/rejoin, get addicted/give it up cycle with one of the bigger social media forums out there.  Which has got me reflecting on my "relationship" with Facebook, and it's kind of like this:

I'm viewing Facebook the same way I'm viewing my refrigerator.

Let me explain. 

Now that the kiddos are at school--and heck, even when they were home--I'll find myself opening the refrigerator for no real reason.  I'm not hungry, not really.  I'm not getting ready to make something.  I'm not putting away groceries (unless, of course, I am.)  I guess I'm just having a bored or aimless moment, and opening the fridge is my response.  Maybe there's something good in there.  It's like I'm looking for a slice of chocolate cheesecake to appear and fulfill any voids or uncertainties I might have in life.  (Hmmm...is this sounding mid-life crisis-y?)

But now there's Facebook!  Yeah!  I can just periodically open that instead, and check out what's going on there.

Umm...like my fridge, pretty much nothing.  Or at least, nothing life-changing.

I don't mean to insult my "friends" on Facebook.  You are wonderful people.  But I think we know by now that there are certain people who post heavily in certain ways (read: self-employed business folks who promote, which is fine, but it's like opening the fridge and going, yup, there's bread.)  There's the slightly brag-worthy posts, although thankfully, I actually don't get too many of those.  Sometimes there's a link to something amusing or interesting, and while I thank you very much for those, how come I sometimes feel like I've just eaten a cookie I really didn't need?

It's making me realize I need to keep developing real relationships, do real things, and, quite likely--oh, ick--take real risks from time to time. 

Unless Facebook upgrades so that people actually can share chocolate cheesecake with me, in which case, baby, I'm so on it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Notice: This Post Might Not Reduce Belly Fat

This past Monday, unplanned, I ended up doing one of the coolest, funnest things I've done in a while.

(First, wait--it "funnest" still not a word?  Crap, can we change that?  "More fun" ruins the pretty little parallel structure.)

I did improv.

Yep, improv.

I don't know if I want to go into the backstory of how I fell into a room with a bunch of "instructors"--or maybe it was a troupe, or facilitators, or just people with cooler jobs than the average Joe--on a Monday night.  Like one of the rules of improve, just accept it.  Accept the scene--Debbie is in a room with strangers doing improv--and go with it.  (Some might find the backstory interesting, and some day, I may touch upon it.)

(Also, as aside, will auto-correct please accept "improv" as a word and stop tacking an "e" on it?)

We started off doing some crazy little exercise that involved making strange noises and pointing at each other.  We moved on to naming states or games or pharmaceuticals while pointing to each other, and somewhere in there, we said our names, which we may or may not have learned.  I think my brain was supposed to wake up, although I felt a little like my questionably ADD self repeated things over and over so I don't forget to, I don't know, water a plant or something.

Things moved on from there, to little exercises which were actually building crazy, silly, fun scenes around scenarios.  I guess I do this sometimes when I write, or often in my head when I daydream, but when I started doing this out loud, with other crazy, silly, fun people, it felt so much more fun and communal and supported and instant, like people throwing confetti at me while I write a blog piece, instead of that inner voice always going "Hmm...is this okay? Is anyone going to read it? Like it? I'm not so sure."  No, almost by definition, improv is fun and right and anything goes, which is such a refreshing change from wondering if something is good enough.  Was I any good at improv?  I'm not even sure it matters, which is why, yes, I was so awesome at improv.  It was kind of exciting to try something new, and I found myself both enjoying other people's "skits" while itching for my turn, pretty please, next.

I've also found myself googling about improv, re-reading Tina Fey's "The Rules of Improvisation That Will Change Your Life and Reduce Belly Fat"*, and reflecting upon how treating life like one big improv exercise might just be free-ing from time to time.  In fact, it's actually quite possible most of my parenting has actually been improv.  (I'm especially good at improv-ing with stuffed animals, by the way.  Perhaps I should lead a class in it?) 

While I'm not sure I'll turn into some improv junkie, checking out the local club behind this fun-fest is on my list of things to do.  For fun.  Which I don't always get enough of.

Right now, I'm kind of like a timeshare salesperson with this stuff:  You should try it!

*Tina Fey later notes Improvisation will not reduce belly fat.  Sorry, if that's your goal.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Summer's Last Hurrah (Now Let's Get On With It)

This past week, something seemingly simply occurred: my kids played nicely in the backyard with neighborhood friends.  An activity which to me is quintessential to summer--kids playing in the yard--seems to have become a rarity in a time filled with camps and vacations and swim meets and the like.  

The next door neighbor girls have returned from visiting their out-of-country grandmother for a while, and all the kids took to each other as if they'd just re-discovered old favorite toys.  I decided to cap off the week with the offer of chocolate ice cream cones--a much easier thing to pull off than, say, a BBQ--with two other neighborhood friends as well.  It was nice and sweet and chocolate-ty and now I have this to say:

I'm done. 

I've basically hit everything on my summer bucket list.  Road trip vacation, the pool, a trip up North, a fish fry with Amish, Mentos in a Diet Coke bottle, blueberry picking, and now ice cream.  If it hasn't been done by now, f---- it. 

My pedicure (the one I slopped on myself) is long chipped.  It was pool weather this week, so we went, but not with the same enthusiasm as the start of summer and the first heat waves.  We've lost a beach towel; swimsuits may be stretching out; sunscreen bottles are empty.  My phone had a text frenzy of weary mothers who are putting their kids to bed either waaaay too early because they are driving them crazy, or waaaaay too late because their parental resolve is dissolving. 

Back in July--when I was admittedly aghast that it was only July--I bucked up for a moment and created some bribery based system of getting my kids to do things like keep the house clean and practice their reading and math skills; it involved getting paper chain links.  I may have even masterminded getting some girls together for a reading group.  But now, the paper chain link is abandoned; I don't much monitor screen time.  My kids bust me rolling my eyes more than that chick from 50 Shades of Grey. I pretend not to hear questions like "what are we going to do today?"  Sister makes brother cry, and vice versa, for nonsensical reasons.  According to my Facebook account, 90% of the country is back in school.  The other 10% is feeding Pirate Booty and fruit snacks to their children for breakfast. 

I think we are all in agreement: it's time for the kids to go back to school.  Let's get on with it.

In our district, they like to wait until the 11th hour to let us know who their teachers will be.  Meanwhile, my kids have had their haircuts, their new shoes, some new clothes, and all their supplies, including those pesky strong magnets that Target never seems to sell.  My kids are playing nicely right now, but I don't think I'm alone to say this: wait much longer, and I might have an actual Hunger Games on my hands.

Yes, my children are precious little snowflakes, and I hope their teachers hold them dear and well.  I know I'll be excited to see them return off the bus that first day.  But I also hope those teachers are feeling re-charged and excited and organized, because that ship is sailing here.  I'm saving my last bit of strength, like a camels back-fat or that bit of chewed squid penguins hold in their throats, to get through a final week of doctor's appointments and a birthday party.  I'm counting on the teachers for that fresh-faced enthusiasm. 

It's your turn.  Here's the baton.  I think I'll go book myself a pedicure now.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Just One Question: So What Are Your Kids Doing?

These days, I have Stephen King's On Writing sitting by my bedside table.  I've read it before; mostly, right now I'm in a reading lull, so I just grabbed this book one random morning when I felt I needed something to read.  By in large, it's a good read, and a decent book about writing.  Okay, social media and blogging and what-not have taken over the world enough that it feels sufficiently dated in parts--worry about the paper you are printing your work on? why are you printing anything?--but the nuts & bolts part is still pretty solid.

In the meantime, in between time, a friend--okay, Pam again over at Starbucks--shot off a little link-a-doodle about "12 Musts of Blogging."  Currently, I follow about, err, zero of them.  Some are technicalities that I haven't gotten off my "to figure out" list.  Others are things like "be patient" and "be consistent" and "have a focus."  Not sure if I'm nailing any of those right now.

Why do I mention both this Bloggin Guru and Stephen King?  Well, it's that consistency thing.  Both seem to think I should be writing more often.

I'm gonna' make a bold call right now, which might just be an excuse:  I bet both these guys aren't the ones taking care of any kids in the house. 

I don't really know about Blogging Guru, but Stephen Kind mentions having two children in his book, and at least has the grace or good sense to make a passing comment about his wife's writing, saying that she'd have broken through if she had 2 more hours in the day, but she has the same 24 as everyone else.  (I believe Tabatha King may have some books out there--and surely, by now, she has some good connections, lol!--but King makes this comment discussing his early, not-yet-mainstream career.)

About 6 months after my daughter was born, I went to a local writing workshop entitled "Writing for Money," or something like that.  (I'm guessing the workshop made the money, at $100 a pop, but I was desperate to get out of the house and feel human, plus there was another published writer there I was stalking, and it was worth it: I managed to get one article published in a local parenting mag.  I think I broke even.)  The keynote speaker was Michael Ruhlman, a guy I'd call a "foodie writer," except really he writes about much more; non-fiction journalistic stuff that reads like a story.  Anyway, I sat next to him with my own copy of Soul of a Chef and had him sign it, so I was feeling pretty cool.  Soon after, he gave the keynote address.

Honestly, I don't remember much of it, lousy listener I must be!  I do remember him talking about his day.  It sounded pretty damn idyllic.  Do some yoga in the morning, have a nice breakfast, write for 4 or 5 hours, break to make an elegant lunch in gourmet kitchen with skills acquired from interviewing Thomas Keller, do a couple hours of revisions and marketing stuff, wind down with a cocktail and some nuzzling with the golden retriever.

Yes, I'm exaggerating.  Some. 

My day at the time looked something like this: Wake up.  Nurse baby and change.  Eat breakfast.  Try solids.  Fail.  Nurse baby.  Start laundry.  Put baby down for morning nap.  Do some transcription from random side-gig I'd picked up.  Baby up.  Nurse baby.  Stick baby in exer-saucer in bathroom and shower.  Get dressed.  Try feeding baby solids.  Eat peanut butter sandwich one handed.  Take call for side-gig.  Turn on the "Wiggles" while doing interview; eventually throw napkins at baby and make funny faces while finishing up on phone to keep her quiet.  Ignore mess of napkins on floor to go play with baby in family room.  Ignore mess of toys in family room and mess of napkins on floor to go fold laundry. 

I'm not exaggerating.  Nope.  Pretty much not. 

So I raised my hand during the Q&A time.  While other folks where asking all sorts of writer-ly questions like "how do you find your material" and "do you like adverbs?" and stuff, I asked this:

"Umm...you mentioned having two kids.  What are they doing during all this?"

I think he said they were in school or camp all day, or discreetly being nurtured by a sexy, off-stage au pair.  We had a brief back-and-forth on the age of his children, and the age of my baby.  Finally, Mr. Published Keynote Speaker said, "Oh, six months?  You won't really have a whole lot of time to write until your kids are around eight."

Eight.  I actually can't recall if that was the exact number, but it was something like that.  Basically, I got redeemed by a professional for claiming (okay, implying) that finding time to write was really, really challenging with young tots underneath.  So no, over the past 9-ish years, I haven't had the Stephen King/Blogging Guru discipline that these pros have advised.  I've been busy.  Raising a family.  But if you are a mother looking to find some time to write--maybe 15 minutes a week, say--here are some tips:

1.   Skip showering.  Your kids probably don't notice, and it's kind of over-rated.
2.   Skip blow-drying your hair or putting on makeup.  People don't see you when you write.
3.   Order pizza.  Cuts down on dinner prep.
4.   Ignore the laundry.
5.   Win the lottery.
6.   Let your kids watch Go Diego, Go!  (If you're really kickin' it, let 'em watch a few.)
7.   Install an iPad keyboard at your sink.  (Let me know how that works.)
8.   Pretend to "color" with your kids, but actually write.
9.   Have your kid dictate stories to you; sometimes they come up with stellar ideas.
10.  Fill the sink with water, pull up a stool, and let the kids have at it.  This will buy you up to 20 minutes.  It might destroy surrounding cabinetry, but hey, it's for your craft!

Until then, to all you genius mommies who periodically ignore their children to write find any time at all to write, kudos to you!  Keep it up--I'm sure you'll go viral or write a bestseller soon!