Thursday, April 29, 2010

Didn't Your Mama Teach You Any Manners? Part 2

Seems there's a theme to this week. Yesterday I wrote about the bad luck we had at Nordstrom last weekend. Ill-mannered? Maybe. Wrong? Most definitely.

Today I want to address another ill-mannered person who seems to be in the news quite a bit these past couple of days. Senator Carl Levin. If you heard any of the Goldman-Sachs hearing on Tuesday, or if you listened to the news on Tuesday, or if you were in the vicinity of the Capitol building, you probably heard or heard about Senator Levin's rant to the Goldman executives who were called in to testify.

In case you missed it, you can read the story and watch the video here. But be forewarned: there is some nasty language being bandied about.

It seems Senator Levin likes to use the s-word. A lot.

In Tuesday's hearing, he used it 12 times in the 4 1/2 minute clip that's all over the web now. (You can click the link above to see it.)

Now, Levin might argue that he used the s-word only as a quote of some Goldman executives. 'They used it first. Na na na na na na.'

But, honestly, 12 times in 4 1/2 minutes? Is that necessary? Doesn't Senator Levin know that the s-word is still, thank goodness, considered inappropriate language? It's vulgar, it's crude, and most of all, it's rude.

Senator Levin (and, for that matter, many of his colleagues on the Hill) seems to have forgotten to whom he was speaking. In his rant to the banking executives he pressed in, like a hyena circling his prey. He pushed and prowled and pounced until he felt like he had humiliated them into submission.

But what he did was rude. Unstatesmanlike.

Has Senator Levin, and others like him, forgotten who signs his paycheck? Last time I checked, it was the American citizens whom he is supposed to represent.

So today, as a mother who would never tolerate her children speaking like that, I'd just like to remind Senator Levin that talking to your employers in such vulgar, demeaning terms, is just plain bad manners.


Shelly

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Didn't Your Mama Teach You Any Manners?


Dear Nordstrom Shopping Bag Thief:

So how does it work? Did you just happen to stroll through the shoe department on a Saturday afternoon and see a random shopping bag sitting there and decide to take it? Or were you stalking teenage girls, just hoping that in their teenaged forgetfulness they would get careless and set their bag down, not remembering to pick it up?

Either way, what you did has really bothered me for the past few days. I think about it while I'm standing at my kitchen sink. I wonder what possessed you to do it while I'm falling asleep. I ask myself how you could do such a thing to an innocent girl while I'm folding laundry. It's like I can't get you out of my mind.

So I thought I'd just clue you in on what you "found" at Nordstrom on Saturday, the little "BP" shopping bag that you happened upon and decided to claim as your own.

Did you know that what you took was a birthday present from one sister to another? Did you know that my daughter and I had just a few minutes earlier enjoyed a fun moment together choosing this gift for her sister--laughing over the silly pink sunglasses, debating which pair of earrings and which necklace she would like best? Did you know that the purchaser of this $36 gift had worked several hours at the public library in order to save enough money to buy her sister just the right thing?

No, I suppose you didn't think about that. I suppose you just saw the little bag sitting on the sofa in the shoe department and thought, 'Ha! It's mine!' and took it home.

Did you open the little boxes and think they were gifts just for you? Did you wear the earrings and necklace this week, get compliments on them from your classmates or coworkers and say, "Why, thank you!"?

Or did you tell the truth about your new jewelry?

Did you tell them that you just saw a little bag sitting all alone on a sofa in the shoe department at Nordstrom and stole it?

Oh, and one more thing . . . has it bothered you at all?

Sincerely yours,

A Hurting Mother

**Disclaimer: I am not one bit blaming Nordstrom for this incident that happened last Saturday. In fact, I called their Customer Service department as soon as we realized that the bag was missing, and their people could not have been more helpful. I still love Nordstrom and will continue to shop there. I'll just watch my bags a little more closely.**


Shelly

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Intentional Parenting - Part 10; Intentionally Letting Go



On the day my first daughter was born I held her in my arms, looked my husband in the eye and said, “I feel like my job from now on is to teach her to not need me anymore.”

I know what you’re thinking: How weird is this woman?

But in all seriousness, whether that thought was from God or not, that idea has stayed with me for the past 18 years, and it has largely shaped my philosophy of parenting. And somehow I believe that in that most significant moment of my life, I was given a gift.

The gift of letting go.

Perhaps God knew that this was one area of parenting my daughters that would be hard for me. Perhaps my past had something to do with it. Whatever it is, the idea of purposefully teaching independence and intentionally preparing myself to let my daughters go has been at the forefront of how I parent them.

I probably think about letting go more than the average mom, most likely because I experienced a forced letting go when I was young. I think every day about how my beauties are here for a moment and could be taken away just as easily.

When I was a young girl, eleven years old, my younger brother drowned in an accident at summer camp. This loss has shaped me in many ways, but it has made me examine my relationship to my kids and has forced me to think about letting them go in ways that many parents do not. Losing my brother has made me realize that, as a parent, I am only a caretaker of these three incredible gifts God has given to me. He is ultimately in control of them—not me.

Of all people, I would love more than anything to hold my daughters close to my breast and never let them go. I love my girls with a passion, and since I love them so much, I naturally want to hold them close to me. But I know that would not be God’s best for them, and so, because I love them, I choose to let them go.

And there are benefits to this letting go.

Letting go has given my girls a confidence that comes from independence. From the time they were young, my husband and I have given them small bits of freedom that have served to make them more confident as young women. Little bits . . . like walking to school alone, riding bikes around the neighborhood, driving a car all by themselves (!) . . . become bigger bits . . . like choosing a college, deciding on a career, choosing a husband. I cannot make these big decisions for my daughters, but because they have learned to handle smaller responsibilities, they are well-equipped to make bigger, independent decisions.

Letting go has caused me to trust God more. Believe me, the first time I put Kate on a bus that would take her to summer camp for two weeks was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done as a parent. If any mother wanted to protect her child from any one situation, it was me and camp.

But I put Kate on that bus when she was ten years old because I had to. I had to trust her into the care of the One who entrusted her to me. I had to let her go to camp because I had to learn to fully trust God with my children.

It worked out. She came home. And every one of my children has enjoyed many weeks at that camp. They have grown tremendously because of that camp, and I could not let my fear of the “what if” keep them from that growth.

So why is letting go of our kids so difficult? I mean, when you think about it, kids are messy, they take lots of time and money, and they don’t always say thanks for the effort. But our kids are also a part of us. We’ve poured our very lifeblood into them—so much so that there is very little of us left in the end. But we’d do it again and again and again because they are ours and we love them.

And then there’s the “what if?” which is where so many parents seem to get stuck. They give in to their fears, their worries, and focus on all the scary stuff that’s around us all the time. Yes, parenting is an incredible privilege and an incredible joy, but it can also bring incredible pain along with it.

How can we counter this fear and really learn to let go? It begins with trusting God, the One who gave you your children and the only One who can really protect them. I think often about a pastor I know who moved his family into Chicago to plant a church. Someone asked him if he was afraid for his kids in the city—would they be safe? His answer has stayed with me to this day. He said, “My children are in more danger living in the suburbs if we are out of God’s will than they will ever be in the city, living in God’s will.”

We cannot protect our children from every evil around them. It’s just not possible. We cannot protect them from failure or disappointment or sadness or even death. But when we begin to look at our children not as possessions but as gifts, we can truly trust God with them.

Letting go is kind of like teaching a child to ride a 2-wheeler. At first we hold on lightly until we knew they can do it. Then we gently let go of the bike, running alongside while our child wobbles a bit, figuring it out for herself. Pretty soon we are left just standing there with our hand shielding our eyes as our child rides off into the sunset. There is no keeping up.

There is no need.

In just a few short months I will send my firstborn off to college. I could look at this as a scary time or a sentimental time or a sad time, but I will not. I will look at her new journey as an exciting time for which she has been well-prepared. Because on the day of her birth I held her in my arms, looked my husband in the eye, and said, “I feel like my job from now on is to teach her to not need me.”

Hopefully, I’ve done my job.


**Next week I will wrap up my Intentional Parenting series. If you've missed any of these posts, you can just click on the links below to get caught up.**


Introduction
Intentionally Disciplined

Intentionally Truthful

Intentional Stewardship

Intentional Service

Intentional Worship

Intentional Kindness

Intentional Travel

Intentional Prayer

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Good Reads

Things have been so crazy busy since spring break, not to mention the fact that my computer died and I had to get a new one, that I haven't linked up to some great posts lately. Here are a few that have caught my eye this week.

Here's an amazing post written by the daughter of my friend, Sarah. You won't believe it when you read the post, but this sweet girl is twelve years old.

Another daughter-of-a-friend, Karen, is studying in Italy this semester. Karen is an artist and has put the most amazing photographs on her blog. This one took my breath away this week.

Jon's at it again - making me laugh. Or maybe I can relate to this post because I have to work at post-prom tonight.

You know I'm always looking for good parenting posts, and this one, a post about mothering daughters, was beautiful.

Finally, I think I forgot to mention that I did a second guest post this week. Two in a row is unheard of in my bloggy life, but I'm thrilled to have the opportunity.

So there. That should keep you reading for a while. I, on the other hand, am heading to the Community Center at 10:30 tonight to work at post-prom. I'll be sure to take notes. (!)

Shelly

Friday, April 23, 2010

And the winner is . . .

Kim!!

Kim won my birthday giveaway--a $10 Starbucks gift card, a $10 Borders gift card, AND a $10 Old Navy gift card. Woo hoo! (Kim also happens to be a dear friend from college, which is fun.)

So congratulations, Kim. And thanks for reading! Your prize will be in the mail soon.

Shelly

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Welcome to the Hotel Grand Rapids


I think I mentioned that last weekend I went to the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College. The conference was great, and I got to hear a lot of wonderful authors like Wally Lamb, Kate DiCamillo, and Rhoda Janzen. I bought way too many books and have an even longer list of books I'd like to check out of the library--enough to keep me going all summer on my beautiful back porch.

But what I haven't mentioned yet was the perfectly hellacious night that Amy and I spent in a hotel-which-shall-remain-nameless. Or should I name it? I haven't decided yet.

We arrived on a Thursday, spent the day racing from lecture to lecture, and by the time we hit the beds we were exhausted. Thursday night was fine. Even though we were in a room directly across from the elevator (which I usually don't do), we slept fine.

The next day was the same. Running around like the crazy geeks we are, listening to lectures from authors we wished we could be, and getting more and more tired by the minute. By the time Friday night rolled around, we were plumb tuckered out as they say somewhere I'm not sure where. We spent some time talking--O.K., lots of time talking because one of my best friends from college was also at the conference. So the three of us, Amy, Sarah, and me, stayed up all the way until 10, just gabbing like college freshmen over a pizza.

We're crazy like that.

Around 10:30 that night I turned out my light, put in the trusty earplugs, and fell asleep within about 30 seconds. About 20 minutes later I was awoken by a loud thumping and bumping and jumping above us. It sounded like a herd of warthogs running for the nearest mirage out in the bush.

What ensued was like something out of a bad movie. It involved me calling the front desk to ask that they tell those warthogs hooligans above us to stop it. And then Amy calling the hooligans directly. And about 45 minutes later, me calling the desk again to see whether they had actually gotten around to calling room 238 because the thumping and bumping and jumping was still going on.

I'm telling you, it was like being in the basement of the place where they taped Soul Train.

Finally, around midnight, the front desk guy, Raj I think his name was, told me that they had "one room left" on the top floor of the hotel and it was "as quiet as rooms can get."

Amy and I talked it over and realized that we had no choice. Soul Train was going to go on all night long and since we had a few more geeky lectures to attend the next day, and then had to drive four hours home, we needed to get some sleep.

And so, AT MIDNIGHT, Amy and I packed up our face cream and shampoo, along with all the clothes that were strewn about, changed our clothes and switched rooms. Not only that, I had to trudge down to the front desk to retrieve the new key! I thought the least they could do would be to bring it to me, but no, the Hotel Grand Rapids doesn't exactly treat its customers that way.

By the next morning I had worked myself into a righteous indignation. No way should that have happened. No way should WE have had to move rooms. No way should I have to pay for a room I didn't even get to sleep in or a room I had to get out of bed to move to in the middle of the night.

I wanted to gather up the chutzpa of my brother-in-law, Tom, who is the most lucky person in the world because he gets more free deals and 20% offs than anyone I've ever met. Just because he asks.

I don't have that kind of luck, but I figured I'd ask anyway, so at checkout I told Raj in no uncertain terms to look at the dark circles under my eyes and tell me in all honesty if I should have to pay for the worst night I've ever spent in a hotel. Raj said I'd have to take it up with the manager who wasn't there yet. Of course.

Later, the manager did call me, but I didn't have time to call him back what with all the nodding off I was doing during the geeky lectures I was attending. But when I got home there was waiting for me a very nice email telling me that my Friday night hotel stay would not be charged to my credit card.

Good thing, because if I didn't get my way I was going to sic my brother-in-law, Tom on them.



Shelly

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Guest blogging and Giveaways

Hey! I'm guest blogging over at Internet Cafe today, musing on the phrase, "God never gives you more than you can handle." Stop on over and read my thoughts. I'd love to know what you think!

And don't forget, my birthday giveaway is still going on so scroll on down and leave a comment on yesterday's post to enter. I'll pick a winner on Friday.

I'll be Bible studying and birthday partying with my friends today, so this is all I've got to give you. Go make it a good day!

Shelly

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!!! *giveaway*


It feels weird to even write this because it feels somehow self-serving and arrogant. But, hey, everyone has a birthday. They come around once a year. And this year I feel like sharing it with all of you.

First, a little story. This past weekend I went to a writer's conference at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI. I was sitting in one of the sessions by a memoirist named Rhoda Janzen (who wrote a hilarious memoir called Mennonite in a Little Black Dress), when she suddenly said, "I will be 47 next Tuesday." Well, I immediately sat up in my chair and looked with surprise at my friend, Sarah, sitting next to me because I have never in my life met someone who had the exact same birthday as me. I do have a friend who shares my birthday, but she's not the same age as me. Rhoda and I were born on the exact. same. day. Somehow I find that weird and interesting.

So anyway, I went up to her after the session and introduced myself and wished her a happy birthday. I'm sure she'll never remember me or our brief meeting, but I will. And I wonder how she will be celebrating today. I wonder if she will do something more than go to the gym, walk the dog, and do laundry.

I hope so.

Anyway, in honor of Rhoda's birthday (and mine), I've picked up a few goodies that I'd like to give away to one lucky reader/commenter. A bit of a "favorite things" giveaway, only not quite so grand as Oprah's.

First, because I love books, I'm giving a $10 gift card to Borders. Second, because I equally love coffee, a $10 gift card to Starbucks. And third, because I love clothes and because I was in the store yesterday buying some things for Maggie, a $10 gift card to Old Navy.

Just leave me a comment below. I'll give you a second chance to win if you'll follow me. (And please be sure I have your email address so that I can contact you if you win.)

I'll announce the winner on Friday, so tell all your friends to come on by!

Happy Day!


Shelly

Monday, April 19, 2010

Intentional Parenting - Part 9; Intentional Prayer


As a young mom, I knew I wanted to be intentional about praying with and for my children, but I didn't know what that would look like on a day-to-day basis. I knew, and still know, the importance of prayer for my children, but it hasn't always worked out in the ways I thought it would.

As I've looked back over these "Intentional Parenting" posts, I've noticed a theme here: I'm intentional about the things that are hardest for me to carry out. Does that make sense to you? I hope so. I think that what I mean is that I sense the importance of being intentional about the things I find so hard to be intentional about.

And prayer is one of those things.

My husband tells stories of busy school mornings, hustling to get out the door like every family. In the midst of the early-morning scurrying about, his mom would stop to pray with her three sons. My mother-in-law sent her sons out the door every day protected with the armor of God, bathed in prayer.

I fear sometimes that my girls may or may not tell such stories to their husbands someday. Much to my shame, I have not been as consistent about sending my girls out the door covered in prayer as perhaps my mother-in-law did.

Some days, sure. On some good mornings, particularly when the girls were in elementary school, we would stop, huddle by the front door or in the car, and pray for their day. My intention was to help them see that at every moment, not just at mealtime, we need to turn to the Lord in prayer and that at every moment, not just at mealtimes, He hears us.

I hope that lesson has caught hold over the years as I've tried different ways to emphasize the importance of prayer in their lives.

Sadly, the habit of praying before school has gotten lost as my girls have grown. They leave the house often before I've had my first cup of coffee and, sadly, not much prayer happens before my first cup of coffee. My goal of intentional prayer has always been important to me, but it hasn't always been a reality.

No, I don't always gather my chicks around me for prayer every day, but does that mean I have failed in my goal of intentional prayer? No way. Because, for me, prayer has become an even more integral and important part of motherhood as my children have grown.

Even though I don't necessarily pray with each of them every day, I do pray for them every day and have learned to incorporate prayer for my kids into my life in different ways.

I intentionally set aside time every day to bring my daughters before God's throne because I know how important it is. I know I cannot solve their problems, dry their tears, make everything better for them . . . but He can. And He is what they need the most, so I bring them to Him every day.

What does intentional prayer look like? Well, for me, it's being in a spirit of prayer all the time. It's connecting God with my kids and my kids with God all throughout the day. And so I pray for them when I'm alone at home, washing dishes or running the vacuum. I pray when I walk the dog. I pray for them when I drive by their school as I'm doing errands.

And, yes, sometimes I pray with them when we're talking and it seems natural and necessary to do so, but I never force it. I want my girls to see that prayer is a part of all day, every day and not just some forced talking to God at certain times and in a certain way.

Intentionally praying for our children, I think, is one of the most important things we can do as parents. And intentionally teaching our children the importance of prayer will be one of the most important lessons we can pass on to them.

So I'd love to know: how do you pray with or for your children?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Few More England Photos

O.K., I have probably about five minutes before my computer crashes again, so I thought I'd sneak on here and show you a few more pictures from my recent trip.

This is one place I always make sure I visit if I'm in London on a weekend. And if you ever find yourself in London on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, you must--MUST--head to Borough Market. Just because I love it there so much.



I mean, really, where else can you get the world's best cheese? I tasted this Stichelton (which is really just Stilton) and . . . oh my. Mmmmmmm.



This is the Royal Albert Hall. Every Good Friday for the past 132 years, the Royal Philharmonic and the Royal Choral Society have performed Handel's "Messiah" and this year I got to be a part of this rich tradition. The audience part. But, still, it was one of the most amazing performances I have ever seen.



As we were waiting to enter the RAH, I turned around and this is what I saw . . . the Albert Memorial. Amazing. Queen Victoria built this as a tribute to her great love, Prince Albert, after his death. Makes me wonder what B is planning for me!



One thing I love about England is their signs. They just don't mince words over there.

I'm thinking this sign might be good to post in my parents' Arizona community. (Just kidding, Mom and Dad!)



And this one I just loved. I might need one for my own yard.



Here's me, smiling like a silly person, in front of one of my favorite touristy spots in London--the Tower of London. My imagination just seems to take off here as I hear stories about beheadings and attempted coups that took place right here on these very grounds.



And one more. . . . Isn't this just so pretty? This is NOT London Bridge, although many people think it is. London Bridge is a fairly non-descript bridge spanning the Thames; it looks pretty much like any bridge we have in Chicago. No, this is Tower Bridge.



I have so many more pictures and so many memories to share, but we'll have to have a cup of tea together if you want to see them all. Suffice it to say that this was a special trip with a special girl, and our memories will always be special to me.

I am . . .

blessed.

Shelly

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Quick Hello

Hello, my friends!

I have more England pictures to share with you. . . . I had a post all composed in my head about the Master's golf tournament last weekend. . . . I want to tell you about what I'm doing this weekend. . . .

So many posts, so little . . .

. . . computer.

I have tried three times to turn on my computer this afternoon and three times I have gotten the black screen of death (as it is called around here). We have dealt with the black screen of death before, and we haven't had a pleasant outcome.

SO, it may be a few days before the black screen of death situation is resolved. Please hang in there with me. Please come back on Monday because I have a fun giveaway to announce (which may or may not have something to do with a little birthday celebration) and . . . FINALLY . . . an "Intentional Parenting" post.

I am on the kids' computer right now, sneaking a few minutes here before they catch me and kick me off. I just miss you all and wanted to say hello.

Why don't you say hello in the comments section and let me know what you're doing this weekend. If I can tie up the children for a few minutes, I may be able to read your comments.

See you on Monday . . . I hope.

Shelly

Monday, April 12, 2010

Snapshots of England

I'm back from 10 glorious days in one of my favorite places on earth. I feel like the most blessed woman in the world for being able to take this trip with my daughter.

Today I'd like to just give you a few snapshots from our trip. Even though they say a picture is worth a thousand words, these still wouldn't be enough to tell you how special this trip was.



"You can find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London, all that life can afford." Samuel Johnson



"England is a nation of shopkeepers." Napoleon Bonaparte
(Liberty of London is now at Target, but hardly the same thing.)


"Let not England forget her precedence of teaching nations how to live." John Milton

"When it's three o'clock in New York, it's still 1938 in London." Bette Midler


"Oh, to be in England now that April's there!" Robert Browning


"A man builds a house in England with the expectation of living in it and leaving it to his children; we shed our houses in America as easily as a snail does his shell." Harriet Beecher Stowe


"Europeans, like some Americans, drive on the right side of the road; except in England where they drive on both sides of the road." Dave Barry



"And now the time returns again:
Our souls exult, and London's towers
Receive the Lamb of God to dwell
In England's green and pleasant bowers
."
William Blake


"By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show." Samuel Johnson


"The only legitimate artists in England are the architects." Benjamin Haydon (English historical painter and writer, 1786-1846)



"I'm leaving because the weather is too good. I hate London when it's not raining." Groucho Marx

Shelly

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Confessions of a Show Choir Wannabe

Last night I had to admit a painful truth to my friend, Amy. I had to confess that I tried out for, but did not make, the show choir when I was in high school.

And to make matters worse, I so desperately wanted to sing and dance and wear pretty costumes that even after one rejection, I tried out again the following year, only to be rejected. Again.

So it was with some painful trepidation and a lot of baggage that I went with Amy to the area "Show Choir Showcase" last night.

Apparently this is a really big event in our community because you need an actual ticket to get in, and if you don't have a ticket you have to sit in "overflow" in the gym and watch the entire two hour long extravaganza on a teeny-tiny little television screen. Who knew?

Certainly not me.

Thank goodness for my friend who graciously offered to give me her husband's ticket so I could go watch Maggie perform. Once again, Amy saved me from coming thisclose to wearing the Worst Mother of the Year crown.

Anyway, the Show Choir Showcase is an annual event highlighting all the district middle school's and high school's show choirs. Honestly, I didn't even know Maggie was in a show choir until last night. I thought her group was the Concert Choir because that's what they call it. Silly me.

Apparently they're grooming her for bigger and better things to come, and this so-called showcase is designed to get little girls' hopes up that they, too, can sing and dance and wear pretty costumes once they get into high school.

Be careful, girls! (Not that I'm bitter or anything.)

The event was actually very fun if you like seeing middle school girls in tight, swirly dresses wearing lots of make-up and middle school boys trying to clumsily dance around on the stage. Come to think of it, it was a blast!

But the highlight of the evening was seeing the high school groups perform, and I really do mean that. They were good. Really good.

One group in particular got my attention with their rendition of a song I had never heard before--something about "Trouts and Bass." Seriously. This was an all-girls group, and after their pretty swirly dress songs they quickly changed costumes into something that Ellie Mae might have worn on "The Beverly Hillbillies." (How DO they change so quickly?) And the highlight of the song was when the girls all came out with these really huge fish pillows--yes, pillows that looked like fish (you can purchase one a Cabela's if you're interested)--and started dancing around with them.



To be honest, it was a surreal moment, especially for me with the show choir baggage. In fact, the entire evening reminded me of an episode of "Glee."

When it was all over, we all piled into Amy's car to head home, and one of her daughters blurted out, "What was with the fish?!" We all kind of laughed about how strange the fish dance was and how some of the girls probably hated that dance with every fiber of their being, wishing that the stage had swallowed them whole it was that embarrassing.

It was at that moment that I left my show choir baggage on the steps of the high school and realized that I may not have made the "team," but I may have saved myself a boatload of embarrassment in the process.


Shelly

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Welcome back!

Boy, I've missed you all. Have you been away?

No?

Hmmm. Must have been me.

I'm coming to you through a jet-lagged, foggy brain, so please forgive any typos or strange twists of phrase in this quick little post. Seriously, it's 11 in the morning here, and I'm not handling this well at all.

Abby and I flew back from London yesterday, crashing through the doors of O'Hare's International Terminal around 3:30 p.m. to find a very handsome man in a suit smiling at us through the crowd. Yes, my sweetie had been tracking our flight and saw that we had landed, so he left his office (which is literally right next door to O'Hare) and came to greet us.

Can I just say that after nine hours on an airplane with no sleep and very little food, there is nothing--NOTHING--like seeing the smile of your sweetie through a crowd? I was one happy girl.

We had an awesome trip, Abby and I, and I have so much to tell you about it. I think I'll spend the rest of the week writing about it (so don't bother to come back until Monday if you're not interested). There is so much to tell you and I have lots of pictures to share.

But not until tomorrow. Because I'm still thawing out from the trip (let's just say that March/early April is NOT the time to go to London). And because I'm really tired. And because I've been up since 4 this morning--I was zipping through Target at 8!--but now I'm pooped.

But, seriously, I'd love to hear from you. What have you been up to for the past week and a half?

Shelly

Friday, April 2, 2010

Don't Hate Me Because I'm an Introvert


Don't you just love it when your friends, who know your issues, take an opportunity to remind you of those issues?

I mean, it's not like I don't know my issues, right? I know I wear holey socks and that my husband hates it when I do that. (I actually think that when I wear holey socks it makes him feel like he can't provide socks without holes for our family. Trust me, he can. It's just that I hate to throw anything away, especially socks, because I know that once they're in my shoes nobody can see the holes.)

I know that I tend to ask my teenage daughters too many questions--what mom of teenagers doesn't? (And just for the record, too many questions would be exactly one. One question is too many for them.)

I know that I have an irrational dislike of people who make loud, repetative noises in public and that nervous tics make me, well, nervous.

I have issues. What can I say?

But one of my "issues," if you can even call it that, has become even bigger and more glaring the older I get and the longer I'm a stay-at-home mom. Because my issue is that I've become an introvert.

Oh sure, you could probably argue that a person is born that way, and maybe I was. Looking back now I realize that I spent lots of hours alone as a child, wandering through the cornfields with a book in my hand. I mean, when you grow up on a farm, there really aren't that many people to be social with. Maybe I just didn't get enough practice being social, I don't know. I guess the difference is that when you're an introvert you don't really mind that there's nobody around to bug you.

Anyway, back to my issues and to my friend who pointed one out to me. Recently Amy sent me a quick email that said, "This is perfect for you. You'll love it." And there was a link to an article titled, "Caring for Your Introvert" by Jonathan Rauch.

Well, I'm here to tell you that love it I did. It's one of those articles that you wish you were reading with someone else in the room so you could go, "Oh, listen to this! Isn't that just like me?" That article (go click on the title above to read the full text), written by a self-described introvert, pretty much sums up yours truly to a tee.

The author describes introverts as misunderstood people who don't really hate other people, they just don't like or need to be around them that much. He says every introvert's motto is "I'm O.K., you're O.K.--in small doses."

Bwahahah. Get it? If so, you, too, might be an introvert.

I'm kind of a slow learner, though, and not all that self-aware, because I really didn't come to a full realization of the level of my introversion until a few years ago, when I was driving home from a writer's conference with my friend, Cheryl. Cheryl-the-extrovert.

She was driving (thank goodness!) and chattering on and on about how great the weekend was and about all the great people she had met and all the great conversations she had had. Everything was GREAT! And there I sat in the passenger's seat, quietly listening to Cheryl recount her absolutely fabulously great weekend.

It's not that I didn't also have a great weekend--I had. I loved every minute of it, but I realized as we drove and she talked that my tank was empty. I had had enough of talking and listening and conversing and schmoozing. I was completely depleted and had nothing left. I desperately needed to get alone for a while to recharge my batteries.

As I made this observation to my friend, she just laughed and admitted that she was completely opposite from me in that way. After being with people all weekend she was charged up, ready to go. She could have taken many more days just like that weekend and have been perfectly happy.

So, of course I had to laugh when I read this in the article Amy sent to me: "After an hour or two of being socially 'on,' we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing."

I like that formula: two hours "off" for every hour "on."

Rauch is quick to add that introverts aren't trying to be rude or arrogant, although that's how we can come across sometimes; it's just that we're playing things out in our head instead of through our mouths.

Which brings me to my current conundrum. I'm going away this weekend. On a retreat. A women's retreat. Do you know what that does to an introvert like me? It makes me want to run the other way. It makes me want to hide. It makes me want to slather myself in lotion and slide right out of the picture for a while.

Because you know women. Women like to talk (so do some men I know, but that's another post for another day). Most women, I would venture to say, are extroverts. And introverts like me make extroverts like most women kind of nervous.

I think they think we're weird. Or worse, as Rauch points out, aloof or arrogant.

But we're not. We just need a little more time alone so that we can actually muster up enough energy to spend time with the rest of you. Talking. And listening. And socializing.

But here's the thing. I am excited about going on this retreat because of some of the great women I'm going to be able to spend time with. I'm going to suck it up, that need to be alone, and I am going to socialize. I'm going to talk. And I'm going to listen. And I'm going to try with everything that is in my to NOT come across as aloof.

Even though I'll be counting down the hours until I can be home again. Safe in my little haven. With people who understand my need to just be quiet. And alone. Blessedly alone.

Come Monday.



Shelly

Thursday, April 1, 2010

You'd think that after 25 years of marriage we'd be better at it


“So how was your Valentine’s Day?” my sweet friend Meghan asked me this week.

I had to laugh. Sort of. And then I told her the truth.

Truth which actually started last Wednesday—the Wednesday before Valentine’s Day—when B called me from work. “So, do you want to go out for dinner this weekend?”

My mind was thinking, Are you crazy? This is Valentine’s weekend. We’ll never get a reservation.” But instead my mouth said, “Are you crazy? This is Valentine’s weekend. We’ll never get a reservation.”

And then nothing happened until Friday when B called me from work again and said, “So, how do you feel about eating a little early tomorrow night?”

“What? Like as in 4:30 when the old people eat?” I said.

“Nah, not that early. How about 4:45?” That B. He’s such a kidder.

And me? I’m too honest for my own good.

“No,” I said. “Basically, no. We’ll be done with dinner by 6 and then we’ll have to go back home to the kids and that won’t be fun at all. Nope. Not gonna do it.”

So we talked about it a little more and decided that we’d go out the next weekend. When all the Valentine’s Day losers go out to eat.

So then Valentine’s Day came, and, frankly, I was pretty excited because you know what happened last Sunday.

The Olympics.

When our neighbor, Nancy Swider-Peltz, Jr. was skating in the 3000m women’s speed skating competition. And I really wanted to see it.

But there was this little matter of a meeting I had at church that afternoon. And then another matter of Nancy’s skate being postponed by a couple of hours. And the DVR recording that didn’t happen. And then another matter of a hockey game that was on when I got home. Well, and if I’m to be completely honest here, which I most certainly am, there might have been a little bit of a hormonal matter going on too.

And before I knew it the Blackhawks were in a shootout and Nancy skated and our DVR had not recorded it and I missed the whole thing. And I was kind of . . . oh . . . mad.

But I held it in. For a little while. Until B asked me what was the matter and, silly me, I had to be completely honest and blame hockey, whose fault it certainly was, which made him mad and so we were both mad for different reasons, both, I think, hormonal.

Children huddled in the basement. Dogs whined. Voices were raised. It was an ugly, ugly scene.

All over . . . what? I can’t even remember.

The next day we talked laughed about it, realizing that we couldn’t even really remember why we had had a huge fight on Valentine’s Day. We couldn’t even remember the last time we had had a huge fight. It’s all just so silly.

So, yes, we’ve been married for almost 25 years (June 1 is the big day—you can start your planning now), and we still fight every now and then. Over some really important things.

Like hockey.

And Valentine’s Day.

So, how was YOUR Valentine's Day?


Shelly