Sunday, November 4, 2012

Much Ado About To-Do Lists

I'm a list person.

I have lists for things I'd like to accomplish at home, at work, to my home, in my life, with my writing, for my shopping. Lists help me think, dream, brainstorm, order my thinking, set goals. Remember.

My journals are full of these lists. Sometimes I think of the journals kept by women in history -- and how much scholars learn from their journals about everyday life during the times they lived.

But I digress with my grandiose thoughts.

Anyway, I carry my journal everywhere with me. I'll often go back to entries from previous days or even weeks to check off items I complete.

At times, these lists get me down, as in, I'm not getting anything done. Other times these lists give me a feeling of satisfaction, of moving forward.

So it was with a jolt of surprise and, yes, pleasure, that I found a to-do list in my son's backpack. His first! 

My son's first ever to-do list. Isn't it beautiful?

It turns out that his teacher had my son and his classmates make to-do lists that day at school. Their assignment: to do all of the items on their lists and check them off as they did them.

I love his list. I love the items on his list. Such simple things. It makes me want to be a kid again. 

But, since I can't do that, maybe I can simplify my list-making. Or simply stop making them. But if I did that, would I remember what I need at the store? Would I remember all the things I want to do to our house? Would I remember the things I want to write about? Would I remember the things I want to do with my life? Would I remember that I want to discover my purpose in life? And, more important, would I continue to move toward that purpose if I didn't have my lists?

I don't know. And I don't think I'm ready to find out.

Monday, October 15, 2012

What's in a Name Change

Last month, we got a puppy. A small dog, he came with a big-dog name: Bruno.

At a little over a year old, he knows his name. He responds to his name.

So it was inconceivable to me when, over the weekend, my 9-year old son expressed a desire to rename our puppy Huxley.


Huxley, AKA Bruno.

To prove it was no big deal, my son yelled, "Huxley!" Right in Bruno's ear. Well, Bruno suffers from a small-dog characteristic. He's nervous. So when my son screamed the puppy's new name, Huxley, AKA Bruno, jumped in fright, his eyes bugging out at my son.

"See?" my son said.

It reminds me of a couple of years ago, when my son was really into the names "Rex" and "Jaxin" (his spelling). He loved them so much that he asked me to register him for second grade as Rex Jaxin. As if that would be all we would need to do to give him this new name.

So unlike reality, when I had to go to the courthouse and Social Security and the DMV to legally change my name after I got married. Then had to make photocopies of our marriage license and send them to all the various places to get my name changed on my bills.

If only it were as easy as my son imagines.

Then I could be Mina one day, Milla the next. Or I could try out Violetta or Persphone or Maya or Anabel or Ludivinia or Anna Maria Christabel.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Nine-Year Old Passion

My son has become passionate about basketball.
What my son's heart must look like.

It's a beautiful and funny thing to see.

The Beautiful Parts

  • My son playing imaginary basketball games for hours, complete with imaginary teammates and steady play-by-play announcing.
  • The hoop that my husband and I spent a whole day putting together -- incorrectly -- then taking apart and doing again. That activity almost ended our marriage, I mean, made our marriage stronger.  
  • My husband and son intensely playing Knock Out.
  • My son and me playing Knock Out while I giggle the whole time from nerves, as I scurry to make a basket before my son can knock me out.
  • Day after day, my son wearing his various Sixers (and one LeBron James) jerseys (a birthday gift from his generous grandparents), even as the temperature drops. He just sticks a short-sleeved or long-sleeved shirt underneath. 
  • Watching the NBA post-season as a family and having a rooting interest in the Sixers.
  • My son voluntarily reading books about basketball players.

The Funny Parts

  • My son telling me that when he grows up, he's going to be 6'10", a point guard in the NBA, and that he'll dunk so many baskets, everyone will call him Dunkin' Donuts.
  • My son learning about the all-time greats of the game and asking me if Michael Jordan is still alive.
  • My son telling me about recess at school one day, when all the kids were cheering, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" every time it was his turn to shoot. (Yes, he's also a huge WWE fan.) 
  • My son teaching me the following new vocabulary words:
Vocabulary Word
Ball Hog
‘Nuff said.
When you make a basket and all you get is pure net. As in, "Look, Dad, all I’m making are swishes!"
Air Ball
When you throw the ball at the basket, especially a free throw, and it doesn't even make it to the backboard or the basket. I hear this one all the time from my son when we play Knock Out. And he's not talking about his own attempts.

The Passion

His passion for basketball makes me think about my own passions -- and whether I feel that passionate about anything in my life. 

I know I did when I was younger.

But since I became a mom, a puppy owner, and a full-time corporate worker bee?


But I really want to.

Now that my son is getting older, I think it's time for me to start rediscovering these things about myself.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Eating My Way Back to Healthy?

The Strong Years
Random strong woman. (Not me. Nor my double.)
For almost 10 years, I taught eight to 12 group fitness classes per week: kickboxing, step aerobics, body sculpting, interval, spinning, treadmill trekking, even yoga (as a sub).

Along the way, I took lots of workshops and picked up certifications for the latest fitness crazes at any given time: urban rebounding, mat pilates, body pump, zumba, and on and on.

During my pregnancy, I continued to teach, even my spinning classes. Teaching helped with my swelling ankles. Teaching helped me feel fit. Strong. Healthy.

The Long Slide Down
After I had my baby, I continued teaching. When my son was almost two years old, I rejoined Corporate America -- on a part-time basis -- and continued to teach on my days off. Until I went back full time. Until I was promoted to officer. Until my job became all-consuming.

So I picked up running.

Then walking.

Then I stopped exercising.

I have since left that all-consuming job. But I'm still not exercising, and haven't for about a year. I'm still living on the benefits of my earlier teaching days. Or at least I was.

The Wrong Year 
My weight is still about the same. The jiggling is not. Nor is the thinning hair.

I think this hair loss is happening because I have no outlet right now for the stresses of the day.

My husband thinks it is due to my diet. My poor one, of course.

For years he has exhorted me to take a multi-vitamin. To eat healthier foods.

The Solution: GOMBS?
GOMBS. Mmm. Appetizing.
Anyway, here is what he says I should be eating every day (from the teachings of Dr. Joel Fuhrman on PBS):
  • Greens, especially kale, collard greens, broccs, cauliflower
  • Onions, either raw or chopped up small and cooked
  • Mushrooms
  • Berries and Beans
  • Seeds and nuts, especially flax, sesame, walnuts
My husband, the apostle, calls it a diet of GOMBS, "chock full of micronutrients that act as immunity boosters."

I can eat other stuff, too. I just have to make sure I eat these particular foods every day.


Where's my multi-vitamin?

Friday, February 3, 2012

Where Art Thou, Little Bird?

I miss my little bird.

No, I'm not talking about a pet bird. Nor Angry Birds. Nor a certain part of my husband's anatomy. (Besides which, he'd object to the descriptor!)

Little brown bird.
Rather, I'm talking about a tiny wild bird that used to live in an enormous prickle bush outside my kitchen window. As I would make my coffee and fix my breakfast, he'd chirp away, while his delicate feet took his portly body hopping from branch to branch. And I would take soothing pleasure in his presence.

I'm reminded of my little friend as I sit in Montgomery County Community College's new art gallery. Above the latest exhibition, in the gallery's loft, there's a brown bird in this converted barn with me. He's flitting from window to window, perching here then there. As he picks his way across one of the exposed beams, his movements and his chirping bring to mind my little bird outside my kitchen window.

A few years ago, we had a patio installed outside my kitchen. There was no room for a large prickle bush. I really hated that ugly old bush. But I really miss my happy little bird.

In honor of my friend, here's one of my favorite Emily Dickinson poems. I'm hoping that my litttle bird was able to find another home, one where he is bringing soothing pleasure to another.

Emily Dickinson

"Hope" is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I've heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of Me.

Monday, January 2, 2012

My Mixer

I finally started making my holiday cookies last night. Yeah, I'm appalled at myself, too.

Anyway, I started easy. Viennese Kiss Cookies. Only six ingredients. I wasn't sure whether my mixer was still working, so I dropped flour, butter (chilled and cut into 1-inch pieces), and sugar into my food processor. That did nothing but make a mess since flour and butter fell through the hole of the bowl and onto the food processor base itself. Meanwhile, the food processor couldn't seem to catch hold of the ingredients to process them. I ended up with the flour, butter, and sugar still in the same state as when I put them in.

So it was with some trepidation that I dragged out my mixer. Last time I used it -- last year -- the motor sounded like it was straining.

The mixer's old. In fact, it used to be my mom's. Her first mixer from back in the 1960s. A Sunbeam Mixmaster.

My mom's old Sunbeam Mixmaster. Now mine.
(Please ignore snorkle mask in background.)

I remember watching my mom use it when I was a little kid. I remember her turning the control on the end and watching the mixer speed up as she did.

I remember being fascinated by how the beaters got released. When you rotated the handle on top, down to the back of the mixer, there was a clicking noise as you rotated the handle. Then there was a second clicking noise when the beaters pushed out of their holders. You could then pull the beaters out one at a time to lick the batter off. I remember wondering why the second beater didn't fall into the batter while you were licking the first one, and being a little anxious that it would.

I remember thinking how cool the bowl size lever was. To move it between small and large, you had to push the lever down first. And when you did move it between bowl sizes, the whole top of the mixer moved in and out so that the beaters could move along the edge of the bowl, whether the bowl was large or small.

I remember that the beaters were shaped differently from each other; the one that went on the outside, along the edge of the bowl, was rounded, while the one on the inside was square. And when you put them into the mixer's holders, you had to put them in just right so that the notches lined up and clicked in. So sometimes you'd have to rotate them around a little 'til you got it right. I remember loving that clicking sound as they pushed into place. I still do.

The mixer is quite heavy, as it's almost all metal. Its weight reminds me of the old heavy cars we used to drive: our Country Squire station wagon (which I crashed when I was a teenage driver) and my dad's prized Mercury Cougar (which my mom gave away without consulting my dad when it was rusting in our driveway). Both of them boats.

As I was saying before I interrupted myself with a walk down memory lane, I plugged in the mixer and transferred the ingredients into the large mixing bowl. Then I moved the speed control from "OFF" to "1 Add Dry Ingredients/Folding." 

And that trusty, old, heavy mixer of my mom's began mixing my ingredients. 

And mmmm. Those Viennese Kiss Cookies were yummy.