Monday, May 22, 2017

Life In a Snow Globe

To give you an indication of my current mental state, I offer these texts to my husband (the topic is signing up my daughter for SATs)...

I am way in the weeds these days with all the "end of" and "last" things happening as we enter the last month of school. And also...teenagers. Mine are good ones (I say without bias :-)), and generally have their act together, but there is just so much to keep on top of. I could rail against the crazy over scheduling of kids and heli-parenting, but it's the world we live in. Any sports team, scout troop, theater production, and oh yeah, school, requires complete commitment and more time than they/you might have.

That rant and many other topics for blog posts are swirling in my head, snow globe style, but nothing is settling down into anything coherent.  Until some miracle of metal clarity happens, here are some newly discovered pod casts that you might enjoy. Listening to them is what I do to chill out.

NPR's Up First - it's posted daily and is 10 minutes of the biggest stories and ideas of the day. 

The Big Listen - it's a podcast about pod casts.  It's fun to listen to on its own but also has introduced me to lots of new pod casts. Two I am trying out (and they are vastly different) are Two Dope Queens and The Hilarious World of Depression.

One I tend to listen to when I am on a road trip with my son is Story Corps.  Two recent episodes are standouts: An Experiment and Tough Mother.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Adventure is Out There!

I love to travel. So much. While I like the idea of "going with the flow" and finding unique experiences, I find it so much easier if I know where I am going to sleep every night.  As my kids have gotten bigger, we've figured out that the standard two-doubles-in-one-room just isn't optimal. And having access to a kitchen so we can get coffee and breakfast while still in our PJs is even better, (We are not a family of morning people, trust me on this). Enter AirBnB...

The first time we used AirBnB we got a little burned - we were looking for a place in Paris and kept getting "not available" messages.  Then the place we got - which was perfect in every other way - is now forever known as "the place where I had to sleep on the floor" (my son's refrain). The write up said 1 bed and 1 pull out couch that slept 2, but really it only slept 1, and barely 1 at that.

A couple years went by, and then I decided that we NEEDED to get away over New Years last January, and a place listed on AirBnB popped up in my google search.  I wanted a place that had separate bedrooms for us all, allowed dogs, and was near the beach. The place we found on AirBnB hit all the marks. Next we took a trip up to New York over President's Day weekend to see some colleges for my daughter.  I was lucking out on hotels, but found a quirky house that had room for us all and a kitchen.

So then we decided to forgo the responsible thing to do (use spring break to visit more schools) and went to London and Ireland instead. By now I was getting good at carefully reading the details of available places, and we liked all three we stayed at in London (Hackney), Dublin and County Kerry (Tralee).  What was great is that we gained valuable local knowledge from each of our hosts. By far my favorite place was in County Kerry - the view from the driveway is the picture at the top of this post. It was a very old cottage that had been modernized, but still had low ceilings and funky angles, really awesome!

We have a couple more trips in the queue, and will keep using AirBnB.  You can't beat a 3 bedroom full kitchen situation with most any other standard hotel :-)

PS - this is an unsponsored, unsolicited review.
PPS - if you travel with lots of devices, we highly recommend a multi-port charger.  We used this one, which my husband dubbed "the electronic hooka" :-)  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Busy Busy Busy

So it's been nearly a month since I posted, lots of stuff going on at our house, fun stuff, work stuff, kid stuff.  I forgot (and forget every year) that the time between spring break and the last day of school tends to be the most packed for us. Some things have been dropped inadvertently (like updating the May schedule for a church activity on May 2nd - oops) but most everyone understands.  I try not to be so wrapped up in it all to not pay attention to the important stuff (key word: try).

That's why I have found it frustrating to have a meeting at work changed to another date, for the third time.  It's not super important, it's not a meeting required to make a major decision, and it's with someone who outranks me.  Really, if we don't meet at all that's cool, but this person does have approval authority for my work schedule, so we should probably meet face-to-face at least once. This is not the only manager I work with that's nearly impossible to meet with due to a packed schedule, and the intent of this post is not to pick on any of them.  I sympathize, truly.

It's rather a reminder to me (and now you) to not fall into the over scheduled trap, in any aspect of your life. Everyone has a point where the level of activity gets so high that you cease to be effective at anything.  And it can creep up on you without you realizing it.

The people around you need your time and attention just as much as those that are demanding your attention outside of your immediate area of responsibility.  At work this is making sure you take care of your subordinates.  Spend time hanging out, keep time open on your schedule, keep your office door open.  This goes for volunteer work also. I am sometimes bad at this - dashing off after a volunteer gig without spending time to connect with my fellow volunteers.

At home this can mean any number of things - dinner at a senior citizen hour because that's when everyone is home, getting up a little earlier to get the dogs a longer walk because they need attention too, going to bed early because you've been burning the candle at both ends, or ignoring e-mails and writing a blog post :-).  Whatever it takes for you.

Monday, April 3, 2017

So proud!

My daughter has been borrowing my camera and photographing the games of her rugby team. This morning I was in DEEP work avoidance mode, and flipped through the latest batch she had posted online for her teammates to see. This picture of one of her teammates makes me so proud, for many reasons...

First, because my daughter has been sidelined with a significant injury, and there is nothing she hates more than standing on the sidelines. Taking the camera to games is a great way for her to contribute and be involved with her team. I am proud of her for persevering.

Second, because if you look past the fierce expression and mud stains, you can see...mascara. That's why, despite my worries, I love this sport and the girls that play it. They are tough, they tackle, they get knocked down, a lot. But they aren't afraid to also be girly.

Third, because it makes me proud that teenage girls in 2017 can be socially ambidextrous. Being athletic, kicking butt at high level math, and being on the Homecoming Court are not mutually exclusive. It's been a joy to see my girl grow - too fast sometimes - and I can't wait to see where the big wide world will take her.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

It's the Law (or It Should Be)

On the first warm sunny days of Spring, while you are driving, you MUST play music loudly while all your car windows are down.  MUST.

When I was deployed, the only time I was truly alone and in control of volume was on the drive from the main part of base around the airfield to where the control tower/my office was located. I played music as loud as I could stand it, just shy of harmful to my hearing. The drive was about one song long, and the right song could cure a lot -- and reset my attitude to positive. My squadron loved to tease me about it, because it was so loud they could hear the words to the song as I pulled up to the tower.  They even played my favorite (Pink's So What) at my change of command. Bless them.

In the super normal and benign world I live in now, I forgot that blasting the music with the windows open on those first warm sunny days is so awesome. And even more fun when your son is in the passenger seat helping to pick the tunes :-)

It should be the law - do it!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Power of Snail Mail

I recently helped a dear. dear friend with her Mom's house after her Mom died suddenly. It was kind of the opposite of a typical girls weekend, but being with her to help and feeling like I could cut down the long list of tasks made me happy.  

I turned my OCD-like sensibilities towards her Mom's desk. And as I sorted through all the paper work that builds up in living a life - bills, receipts, bank statements - I found many letters and cards written from my friend to her Mom. Her Mom had kept them all. We also found many pictures, programs, change of command invites, and other momentos from my friend's Air Force career, all the way back to her graduation from the Academy.

We do so much electronically now that we forget the impact of a card or written note. These pieces of paper formed a bridge between my friend and her mom as her career took her around the world, and in keeping them all her Mom showed the pride and love she had for her daughter.

Other than Christmas cards I can't think of the last time I sent a note or card to anyone. It's time to break out the box of blank cards gathering dust on my desk and let people know I love them lots. :-)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

It's About Choice, Right?

Beloved, wonderful, impossibly well grounded Emma Watson is being called out as a "bad feminist" because of pictures that accompanied her profile in Vanity Fair.  Apparently after this photo was posted to the Vanity Fair Instagram page, the internet went to town "claiming this photo undermined her fight to diminish the gender wage gap and that she was being hypocritical by baring her body while still touting notions of female equality." (source)

I thought feminism was about choice, and making sure that women had the freedom to make choices - what ever they might be - without limitation.  Why does what you wear make a difference? I know this is something that women struggle with all the time - being taken seriously in the work place and in many other aspects of their lives. The last thing we need to do is pick on someone who is actually doing an exceptional amount of good work on women's behalf.

For a really great perspective on femininity and feminism, check out the awesome blog Femme Feminism.  The writing is excellent and covers a gamut of issues, "personal essays about the intersection of femme and feminist with our monthly themes, historical examinations of fashion production and design within a feminist context, and yes, posts that show off our favorite pair of jeans."