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Navigating the Middle

through adolescents, menopause, aging parents & other flying debris

Month

July 2014

If You Get Your Son a Binder

If you get your son a binder,
He’s going to tell you that he doesn’t like it.

If you return the binder to Target,
you’ll want to replace it with another.

Finding the one you want will take you to the other side of the store,
where you’ll pass the women’s workout gear.

A white “t-shirt” will catch your eye.

Seeing the t-shirt will remind you of Kelly’s “White Party.”
You’ll drop the shirt into the cart.

Kelly’s party will make you think of Austin’s upcoming birthday.
He’s turning ten.

You’ll scour the toys section before placing a board game in the cart.
Of course you’ll also need a birthday card to go with it.

Three little boys will fight over birthday cards next to you.

Listening to the boys bicker, will remind you of Lego’s.
The Lego’s will make you wish for a way to organize the bricks.

You’ll leave with the card, to find the Ziploc bags.

Walking through the snacks will remind you that you’re hungry.
So…
you’ll grab popcorn from the end cap and toss it into the cart.

You’ll find the Ziploc bags; they’ll go in the cart too.

Remembering that teachers always need “something” you’ll head to the back-to-school section.
Standing there, you realize that your kids need summer activity books.
You’ll settle on a writing guide.

Reading over the writing guide will remind you why you came into Target.

And you’ll walk a few aisles over and get your son a binder.

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How Did You Sleep Last Night?

Me: Good Morning Son.
#1 Son: mum (sound with closed lips, not wanting to speak).
Me: Come in for a second and sit down.
#1 Son complies.
Me: How did you sleep last night?
#1 Son: I slept okay.
Me: Just okay?
#1 Son: Yeah.
Me: Did you have trouble sleeping?
#1 Son: No.
Me: But you slept in your bedroom last night, right? You didn’t have to sleep on the streets?
#1 Son: What? No. I slept in my bed.
Me: And your bed – Did you have it to yourself or did you have to share it with your brothers?
#1 Son: (Eye roll.) I slept in my bed, in my room. Alone.
Me: Oh, and were you comfortable? Did you have a pillow and nice bedding to keep you warm.
#1 Son: Yeah.
Me: Did the AC work in your room so that the temperature was a perfect 65 degrees?
#1 Son: Yes. Was it really THAT cold?
Me: And did you wake up this morning with bites all over your body?
#1 Son: From what?
Me: I don’t know…bites from malaria-carrying mosquitoes or disease-laden rats?

#1 Son (silence…then a smile.)

Me: So I guess when I asked you how you slept, you probably should have answered differently, huh?

#1 Son: I slept well, Mom.

Saving Pinky

Yesterday, I looked up to see my son making a beeline for the house, a combination of fear and excitement across his face. I hurried downstairs to check on him. He was hyped about something hidden just beyond his swing set.

“There!” He pointed. “It’s some kind of animal, and it’s all pink.”

Not a big fan of the “wild kingdom,” I timidly peeked into the dried leaves. Lying nearly lifeless, but not quite, was a tiny, hairless, pink-colored creature, fresh from the womb. We stood there, watching, speculating, until I decided that it was probably a squirrel. It must have fallen out of nest, and now there was no one to take care of it, except the red fox that sometimes visits. I noticed my 10 year-old who LOVES animals looking at me, expecting me to save the thing.

STOP!

Right about now, you’re probably thinking that I should have either (a) Put on a pair of garden gloves and picked it up; or (b) Left it alone and allowed that whole “Circle of Life” thing to happen. I sort-of went with (b), reasoning that Mama Squirrel might come looking for her baby. So when Jeff returned from work, an hour or two later, that little “thumb of a squirrel” was laying precisely where we found it.

A doctor by day, with the heart of a veterinarian, Jeff did three things, which probably saved a young life.

  1. He placed the unprotected infant in a pet carrier, wrapped it in swaddling clothing (thank you baby Jesus), and started a lamp to keep it warm.
  2. He mixed a potion of water, sugar and salt. Think – homemade Gatorade – although I think he was going for more of a Pedialyte-vibe. Using a medicine dropper, he hydrated the animal every 20 minutes; and
  3. He phoned an animal rescue shelter in the area. Before the dinner hour was up, the baby was in its new home.

Our 10 year-old tagged along to make the drop-off. When they reached the shelter they learned three things:

  1. The owner of the shelter loved squirrels; they were her favorite.
  2. The baby “it” was really a “she.” (Funny how things ‘suddenly’ appear when you know what to look for.)

Noah named her “Pinky” after his favorite baby blanket. Oh, and probably most importantly…

3. The new owner thinks that Pinky has a very good chance of surviving.

 

 

Some people are animal lovers. I’m not afraid to admit that I am not one of them. While I don’t dislike animals, I strongly believe that people who LOVE them should be the ones to purchase, adopt, feed, raise, and care for them.

Yet, somehow, we tend to wind up taking care of a small animal every few years. I

Day 1: Use Your Gifts to Be Great

Most people sharing content on Facebook seem to do so, focusing on the “great” in life: how “great” the kids are; what a “great” meal we had; back, from a “great” vacation.

But yesterday, a friend posted that he was having a hard time. He wanted to know if anyone else ever felt alone, while being in a room filled with people.

Well, have you?

I’ve been there, feeling like I can’t quite connect with others around me. In those rare instances, I usually remove myself from the situation, and the feelings abate. My emotions return to equilibrium.

I let my friend know that he is not alone, but shortly after, came across this great video that another Facebook friend posted. Check out the way this guy uses his gifts to connect with total strangers.

That’s the message: Use your “gifts” to connect with others and “GREAT” things will happen.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 2: Don’t Mess with Granny’s Money

This is my 104 year-old grandmother, the matriarch of our family. Her name is Katie, and she was born in 1909. In about a month, she will turn 105. God willing!

People are often amazed by her age. But with the same breath, they will ask,” How’s she doing?” Sometimes I respond politely; other times I say, “She’s 104!”

To be more specific – Grandmother’s eye-sight is fading. Talking to her requires using your ‘outside voice” and getting very close to her face. But if she is able to hear you, she can tell you all about growing up in Onalaska, Texas or picking cotton with the poor whites who lived in the area. She can recall how my grandfather Oris built the only house I have ever known her to live in…until now.

Now she resides with her daughter, my aunt. The other day I phoned. Aunt Maudi explained that Grandmother was a little peeved, following this exchange.

Aunt Maudi: Mother, I’m going to take some money out of your purse to put in the collection plate at church.
Grandmother: Okay. How much are you taking?
Aunt Maudi: Well you have $40 in here.
Grandmother: $40? Don’t take $40. You can give them $20. Or better make it $15.
Aunt Maudi: Mother, I’m not going to put $15 in. That’s not enough. I’ll give them $20. You don’t need that money.
Grandmother: I do need my money. I may need to buy things.
Aunt Maudi: What kinds of things?
Grandmother: I might want to buy a dress and some new shoes.
Aunt Maudi: Why? You don’t go anywhere.
Grandmother: I might go somewhere IF I had a new dress and shoes.

It might be time for a trip to Houston to refill that purse.
Grandmother needs a new pair of shoes!

Day 3: Please Display with Care

A Florida vet faced eviction by his HOA, after failing to pay thousands of dollars in fines for displaying an American flag in a flower pot on his front porch. (Earlier today, a pair of executives offered to pay the Air Force veteran’s fees that jeopardized his home.)

A couple of days ago, a Korean War veteran in Idaho was cited for displaying the American flag in his window.  The vet’s HOA demanded that the “inappropriate curtains” be removed, before rescinding the violation and issuing an apology.

Both men are veterans. Both have the right to display the American flag. But only one of them has properly done so, according to the U.S. Flag Code.

If you’re going to present the colors, here are some guidelines that you need to follow.

  1. The flag may be displayed from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. It may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated after dark.
  2. The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.
  3. When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill, balcony, or front of a building, the union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff. When the flag is suspended over a sidewalk from a rope extending from a house to a pole at the edge of the sidewalk, the flag should be hoisted out, union first, from the building.
  4. When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.
  5. When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street.
  6. The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
  7. The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

Now that you know a little more about the proper way to exhibit Old Glory, I’ll ask you: which of these flags is properly displayed?

flag2 flag1

 

Day 4: Bet You Couldn’t Walk a Mile in My Shoes

While people rarely notice their span, I have always been aware of my long feet. Maybe because they seem proportional to my nearly 5′ 9″ stature, people don’t seem to take notice.

But from a young age, I have been aware that the size of my feet was more than a little “different” from other girls my age. When I was six years old, I wore a women’s size 6 shoe. I remember the frustration that my mother expressed at the limited selection. Imagine trying to shop for an age-appropriate shoe for your first grade daughter, among a selection intended for grown-ass women. Subsequent years proved equally daunting.

  • At age 7, I wore a seven.
  • At age 8, I wore an eight.
  • At age 9, I wore a nine.

From the age of ten, until I had my first son decades later, I wore a 10.

When my mother took me shopping for the ninth-grade dance, the shoe salesman tried convincing me that a nine would work. He asked something stupid like, “Wouldn’t you rather wear a nine than a ten?” (Side note: I  never really cared much for men who thought they knew what was best for me.) We purchased the tens.

Back in the day, shopping for that size shoe offered few GOOD options. It was as if shoe manufacturers decided that Earth Women simply did not grow to that size and therefore, shoes would be primarily restricted to two varieties: the Pilgrim Clodhopper (i.e., thick, clunky heel, lots of black leather with big buckle attached to some part of the shoe surface; or the Drag Queen Stiletto (i.e., high-heeled, loaded with feathers and/or sequence, and usually available in a bright color, like fuchsia, with or without a bow).

pilgrim4drag3

Shoe shopping today has definitely improved. Most retailers carry one or two pairs in my size, but they always sell out quickly. (Apparently there are lots of other girls out there with long feet.) But not very long ago, I walked into a department store and inquired whether they sold my size. The saleswoman’s response: ” No we do not!” And she seemed annoyed that I bothered to ask.

Fortunately for me, EVERYONE’S feet have gotten longer over time. Podiatric historian William Rossi explained it this way to lifestyle blog Divine Caroline, “People are getting taller and heavier, as they have for generation after generation. And their feet are getting larger in proportion to their bodies.”

Today, the average American woman wears between an 8 1/2  –  9. I may still be outside the boundaries of “average” but had I lived in the 1800’s,  when the average woman wore a size 3 1/2 – 4, I likely would have been burned at the stake.

So here’s this Size 11 Girl’s Latest Shoe Faux Paux.

Two days ago I ordered a pair of White Mountain sandals. Since the Macy’s near me didn’t have them in stock, I drove 20 miles away to pick them up. I even checked the size stamp inside the shoes before returning home. When I modeled them for my mother-in-law, she remarked, “I don’t like the way your heel is hanging off of that right shoe.” She was correct. I slipped them off and measured. photo (39)

(Sigh) Guess I won’t be walking a  mile in these shoes.

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