What IS IT about IKEA?

February 28th, 2007

What is the draw of IKEA? I love that place. There is something about the clean lines and simple style that draws me to their store/catalog. Maybe they put some kind of hypnotic ingredients in their meatballs (which I have to enjoy each time I shop there). Maybe I am being brainwashed into the “Furni” culture (from Fight Club). Whatever the draw, I am hooked.

IKEA boxesI find myself wanting to “de-clutter” this year. Truly. I feel like I am swimming in so much lately that I am drowning. Our living room is full of items to sell on Craig’s List or Ebay. I can’t wait to have a garage sale to get this stuff outta here!

That brings me back to IKEA. I have drooled over a desk set and bookshelves the last few times we were there. How nice it would be to have a school room that is full of matching furniture, maps, books filled with amazing subjects, and LESS CLUTTER. Our beautiful, school bus yellow room will soon look like it is from an IKEA catalog. Clean lines and organization. Oh, happy day!

Not enough hours in the day

February 26th, 2007

When I was a little girl (yes, that was a l-o-n-g time ago..), my parents used to say: “There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.” As a kid, I fouSeashellsnd that to be a ridiculous statement. What did they mean, “Not enough hours”? As far as I was concerned, there were too many hours sometimes! Too many hours for school work, homework, chores, hours before spring break, hours before my birthday, Christmas or summer vacation, hours before my report card arrived (so I could break the grades gently to my parents when they were in a good mood). There are just too many hours for a kid (unless there is a birthday party or playing on the playground involved).

Today, I think I truly understand what my parents meant. As adults, we fill our waking moments with so many activities that we fail to really enjoy the little things. I find my days full of housework, taking care of loved ones, paying bills, trying to sell items here and there to make extra money, lesson planning, etc. When was the last time I just “relaxed”? Truly.

I remember going to Padre Island last year and relaxing for a few days. It was heaven. Sure, I swept our tent to get out sand (which you can never get all of) and made meals. However, I took care of only immediate needs and that was it. There were no phones, computers, door-to-door salesmen, bills to receive in the mail, grumpy folks in the grocery store line…nothing but the beautiful ocean, finding seashells, and making sand castles with my family. I miss that right now.

As I go along my busy day today, I will keep one of the many seashells that we brought back from the beach in my pocket. It will be a reminder for me as I go about doing laundry, checking math, cooking dinner, sweeping the porch.. It will say: “Take time to relax, Shan. Take time to relax.”

Grandma’s “De-Nesting”

February 22nd, 2007

Here Comes GrandmaI visit with my husband’s grandmother about 2-3 times a month. She is a hoot at 84 yrs. old. I have known her now about 18 yrs. and I have always looked at her as my own grandma. She tells great stories about when she was a kid, she is a great cook, she loves crafts, she loves puzzles and reading. She is very opinionated at times. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but I enjoy her company just the same.

Recently, she has started giving things away. Not expensive things or things that have a lot of sentimental value. No, she is just “de-nesting”. I remember being pregnant many years ago and going through the “nesting” phase (when you have to get things in order before the baby arrives). Now, I see this 84 yr. old woman that I have come to love very much “de-nesting”. In a way, it makes me sad. She is going through books, furniture, crafts, dishes….she is giving things away or trashing them. Things that have given her joy over her long life.

I was honored that she gave me some handmade dish towels and linens recently. Some of them are from her mom and were made in the 40’s. Sure, they have some yellowing/stains and are worn. However, I have them in my kitchen and home and look at them fondly every day. They might not be worth much at all, but they are very special to me.

When we live our lives and find that we are “winding down” in the history books, I think we start to look at life differently. We look about our home and we see years of memories. Trinkets from places we have been, gifts we were given, items that we made, and photos of loved ones present and past.

I am approaching the point of living half of my life. That is a very sobering thought. As I look around my home, I wonder what I will give to loved ones when I am “winding down”. Will I be like grandma and sense that it is happening? Will those around me realize that by giving away items like: a dish towel, a treasured book, a piece of furniture…I am giving away a piece of myself. How wonderful it would be for others to speak fondly of me when I am gone.

I am learning from grandma’s “de-nesting”. She has taught me that my family and those I care for are what matters. That when I am gone, it will be the moments we shared and the laughter that was made that will matter. I missed out on spending the last days with my own grandparents, Nick & Francis. I am so glad that I can spend time with my husband’s grandparents.

Nana, although I am honored with your gifts, I hope that you stay with us for a long, long time. Those dish towels are wonderful, but they are nothing compared to your company.

No Marathon Tomorrow…WDW in 2008?

February 17th, 2007

MickeyCan you be sad and giddy with excitement at the same time? I think it is possible because I sort of feel like that. First, I am sad. I pulled my hip badly two weeks ago and am unable to run the AT&T Marathon tomorrow.

I went to the running expo today to pick up my running packet. Everyone in the place looked excited. There was energy in the air. Folks were going to do great things tomorrow. I felt horrible. I was there to get my $80 t-shirt and go home. The chipper ladies at the registration counter wished me: “Have a great race tomorrow” when I got my shirt. I looked at them and said: “I wish I could. I pulled a hip and unfortunately can’t run.” They all looked sorry for me, and honestly I wanted someone else to feel miserable with me. This stinks!

All I wanted to do was get out the door and go home. As I was walking to the door I noticed the Walt Disney World Marathon booth. Man! I have heard of that race before and have always thought it would be SO COOL to run it. On a whim, I went over and grabbed the brochure. I threw it in my bag and drove home.Cinderella's Castle

An hour later I was going through the “goody bag”…my shirt, some gloves, a Clif bar, a bag of brown rice (no kidding), brochures to other races…and the Walt Disney World brochure. I showed it to my hubby thinking he would hardly glance at it and say “Uh huh” and that was that. He didn’t. He looked it over and said he thought we could go in 2008. HUH!?! But, but, but…

Then, the wheels started turning. Why couldn’t I run in it? We have been to WDW something like 4 times in the last 6 years. Our family loves going there. We usually have a great time. Last time wasn’t so great as they messed up our reservation and Park Hopper Passes. We weren’t planning on going anytime soon. Now, I am not so sure. I really want to do this. I want to run this race.

Let’s face it, I will never be a professional runner. I run for fun. I run to enjoy the outdoors. It makes me feel happy and healthy. I don’t run fast, and I am okay with that. I will never qualify for the Boston Marathon or New York City Marathon. I am not that serious a runner. If I can’t run in the two most serious marathon races, why not run in the most fun?

How great would it be to run through all 4 Disney parks? How cool would it be to run through Cinderella’s Castle or run through the different countries in the Epcot World Showcase? Come on! That would be great! I can just picture me running with my Mickey ears now…..

We are calling WDW tomorrow for more information. I’m crossing my fingers. The run isn’t cheap ($105) and that doesn’t include airfare, lodging, food, or Park Hopper passes. The vacation is about $2-$3K. That gives me less than 11 months to save. Hey, I can wash cars, sell on Ebay, and have garage sales. I’m good with that. This is a dream that I really hope comes to a reality. I’ll keep you posted.WDW Marathon Read the rest of this entry »

If I were President…

February 15th, 2007

Not that I ever plan on running for office, but I have some ideas about how some things could change. My ideas might not be able to lower the National Deficit, end hunger, or make traffic run smoother. They are, my ideas for your consideration.Uncle Sam

If I were President – The important stuff:

*The Constitution would be THE LAW. All laws nullifying the Constitution or Bill of Rights laws would be voided and cleared from the books. Our founding fathers were not stupid.

*Our country was founded on faith. Denying American citizens the right to state the words “One nation under God” goes against the First Amendment. EVERYONE that is a U.S. citizen is allowed to honor their own religion. Christians are no exception.

*People would be allowed to be on Welfare for six months only. If the recipient hasn’t obtained a job within that time, they would be retrained to do a different job that is useful to their community (i.e. 911 operator, Roadside maintenance, Crossing Guard, School bus driver, Street sweeper, etc.) NOTE: My Mom was a postal carrier when I was a child. Many of the homes she delivered to were Welfare recipients that were waiting for their checks so they could go buy steak & beer. They even bragged about it to her. That just isn’t right.

*DWI violators on their FIRST offense would be required to work with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers or assist local hospitals in the care of car crash victims.

*Communities and/or citizens taking advantage of a catastrophe (i.e. Katrina) or a sports victory (i.e. basketball, etc.) and using this situation as an excuse to vandalize, loot, or harm others will be STRONGLY punished. Mandatory community service, heavy fines, and/or jail time will be enforced.

*Sexual predators would automatically be sterilized.

*School vouchers would be used. Whether you want to send your child to a private, public, or home school..you could do it.

*All celebrities that bash the United States (i.e. Johnny Depp, The Dixie Chicks, Alec Baldwin, Martin Sheen, Jane Fonda, Sean Penn, etc.) are more than welcome to relinquish their US citizenship. You have the freedom of speech and the right to your opinion. However, you would NOT be allowed to make millions of dollars by selling your movies to Americans. We have our opinions about YOU too.

*Lawyers bringing STUPID lawsuits to court (i.e. “I burned my mouth on a pickle from my McDonald’s hamburger) would be fined and disbarred.

*Cell phones would not be allowed while driving. PERIOD. The ONLY exception would be if your brake system failed or you were being chased by a stalker.

Just for fun/silly things to include:

*If a parent is doing a great job in public (i.e. correcting a whiny kid, expecting the respect towards others, etc.), they can be nominated by witnesses and recognized through media (either printed, audio, or visual) for their efforts. Bravo for you!

*All electronic toys (i.e. PS2, X-Box, Gameboys, etc.) would be TREATS. They wouldn’t be something that kids do INSTEAD of going outside and getting dirty. These toys would only be given to the child while having a lay-over at the airport, waiting at the doctor’s office, etc.

*Children would be expected to get AT LEAST two hours of outdoor play per day. (I truly believe that electronic toys, television, lack of playtime, and junk food are turning our children into obese adults) Get those kids out to play!

*The fashion trend of wearing an over-sized shirt to cover the fact that your pants are belted around your lower thighs is OUTTA HERE! That looks so stupid!

*The Salvation Army could ring their bell in any mall or large store they wanted around Christmas time. (Our bell ringer stopped this year because a mall patron was “offended” by the bell ringing. So sad..)

*Telemarketers would not be allowed to call after 5pm. No more disturbing you during dinner or a movie.

*Class reunions would no longer be held. (If you didn’t like them then, do you really think you will now?) If you want to be contacted by former classmates, you can join Classmates.com and be put on a list.

*Drivers over 65 yrs. would take driving tests EVERY year.

*Men that are losing their hair will be encouraged to shave their heads. It is completely voluntary, but encouraged. Comb-overs are unsightly and humorous. After all, bald men look TONS better than comb-over men.

*Farmers would be required to post what they are growing in a field (it always frustrated me when I couldn’t recognize a crop from the Interstate).

*Parents that bring crying babies into movies would be given a ticket for another showing and asked to leave.

*People would have the option to have their birthday off from work (and make up the hours before or after the date).

The Ups and Downs of Homeschooling Pt. 1

February 13th, 2007

Homeschooling Rocks

Believe it or not, I got a scholarship many moons ago to become a teacher. I wanted to teach art to children with learning and/physical disabilities. I felt that I had something to offer in the way of creativity and wanted to share that with children. God had a different plan for me. He wanted me to teach – just not a classroom full of children.

When I became pregnant, my husband mentioned homeschooling. Honestly, I had never really heard about it, much less wanted to do it. I stopped going to college in order to support my family with a marketing career. Besides, there were subjects that I wasn’t very strong in (i.e. higher math, chemistry, physics, music). How could I teach my own child? My husband convinced me to investigate the possibility. We have never looked back.

To tell you that I was unsure about my abilities in the beginning is an understatement. There are SO MANY different types of curriculum out on the market. Pre-packaged programs, umbrella schools, unschooling, etc. It boggles the mind! homeschool nature

We tried different things here and there and found that the “traditional” schooling didn’t work for us. It bored us to tears. I found that being eclectic in our books really worked. Hands-on teaching inspires both of us.

As we are approaching our 7th year of homeschooling, I am starting to “get the hang of things”. However, I doubt my abilities every now and then. When I need a pat-on-the-back moment, I seem to get them from the least expected places. Someone will say that my child displayed courtesy, or patience, or unexpected intelligence. When I hear that, I am better. I know that we have made the right decision.

When we have been out in public during school hours, we often encounter people that want to know “why we aren’t in school”. Some people think that “school” has to take place in a classroom with a stuffy textbook. Why is that? Sure, books are very important. Do they have to be stuffy textbooks though? Homeschooling offers learning OUTSIDE the classroom. Learning can take place: By interacting with adults at the bank or post office, taking care of an ill relative, discussing likes/dislikes with the local librarian, mowing a neighbors lawn, helping out at the local church fund raiser or food pantry, making a meal from scratch, or learning a foreign language from a retired professor.

The downside of homeschooling for me is the occasional unfriendly attitudes that we receive. That can be hard on the spirit at times. Teachers, in particular, can be non-receptive to us when we mention homeschooling. I believe that they feel that homeschoolers are saying that they aren’t doing a good job. That isn’t so.

As I grew up, the majority of my teachers were just there to get a paycheck. They didn’t do anything special in the way of teaching. They drank their coffee, read their paper, and daydreamed while assigning the class to read umpteen pages in a boring book. The teachers that REALLY made a difference were the creative ones. The ones that went the extra mile. Those that had gumption and inspired students to push themselves. THOSE are the teachers I remember fondly.

I believe that most teachers today are not allowed to be creative. They have to teach in a way that the students pass their government tests. The schools make more money and look good. However, where does that leave the teacher that wants to inspire? Can they really use their talents to teach? If the children want to explore a subject further, are they allowed to or is there a set schedule of items that need to be covered before going home?

THAT is why we homeschool. We want the flexibility to be creative. If we want to learn about the Revolutionary War (as an example), we can make a whole unit study on the subject. We can study what people wore, where they were from, what they ate, how they lived, why people were fighting, spiritual beliefs, what music they played, who was prominent at the time, etc.

Homeschooling allows us the freedom to explore. We can learn the basics (reading, writing, math, etc.), but we can do SO MUCH more. I know that the teachers that made an impression on me allowed me to “think outside the box”.

For all the teachers reading this, please don’t think that homeschoolers dislike you or think badly of you. We don’t. We just want to be able to explore more of our world than the four classroom walls allow. Our world is a classroom. We have so much to learn.

Someone replaced my jeans

February 12th, 2007

Tight jeansI put on a freshly washed pair of jeans this morning and realized that someone had replaced them. These can’t be MY jeans! They are tight on me. Ok, I am guilty. I have been eating more than normal over the last 6 months due to all my running. As I am a bit injured, I haven’t been exercising. Thus, the reason for the tight jeans.

I am a member of Spark People, a FREE weight loss site. It is great. I moderate the 1 Day Challenge board and that really has kept me tracking my food, water, and exercise. I think it is time to really get serious now. I find when I eat between 1400-1600 calories a day, get in my 12-16 glasses of water, and either walk, run, or do Turbo Jam, I lose weight each week. I need to get back to that.

As I am looking at 2007 to be a year of “getting rid of junk”, I need to lose this 30lbs. that I am carrying around. I don’t want them. Maybe I can find a 100lbs. lady who desperately wants some curves/padding. I will be happy to give her some of mine. Free and no charge. Who wants some?!

This CLUTTER has GOT TO GO!

February 11th, 2007

ClutterWhen you have been married for a long time, you collect a lot of “stuff”. The wise George Carlin had a skit about “stuff”. He said: “A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it.” It really is true. We acquire so much “stuff” over time that it starts taking over our lives. We dust it, wash it, buy storage for it, etc.

My wonderful husband has been looking for a Windows cd for a few days now. During his search, he went through his “stuff”. He went through books, software, computer parts, etc. There is now a pretty good pile of “stuff” to sell in our dining room. That got me to thinking…

We went to IKEA (one of my favorite stores) earlier today. We want to get office furniture that matches. (One quick note, NONE of our office furniture matches. Seventeen years of marriage and none of our office furniture matches.) Anyway, we were looking at desks for our school room and I thought: “I need to get rid of a bunch of stuff. I have so much stuff, I don’t even know what I have.”

I think that 2007 will bring a year of change for this family. I want to get rid of “stuff”. We have SO MUCH that we don’t use, we don’t need, we don’t want. Why do we have all this “stuff”? It is really ridiculous when you think about it. Magazines, clothes, shoes, tools, toys, housewares, jewelry, etc. There is just so much of it!

Thank goodness for digital cameras, Ebay, Yahoo, Craig’s List, and Salvation Army. With their help, I will be able to see the carpets and back of our closets in no time.

Self Pity ain’t so Pretty

February 9th, 2007

Self PityIf you know me or have been reading this blog, you know that I have been training for 6 months to run the AT&T Austin 2007 Marathon. I have been running 4-5 days a week through 90+ degree late summer days or 34 degree cold winter mornings. I wanted to get under my 5 hr. 13 min. time from my first marathon in 2004. I have been training and have felt “right”. I am..well…WAS ready.

I ran 10 miles last Wednesday. During the run, I got a strong pain in my left hip joint. I felt excruciating pain. Tears in my eyes, “What the heck!”, sort of pain. I had to walk 3 times to get home. That is something I never do on a long run.

I took some Ibuprofen, put on some Biofreeze, and rested for several days. I ran 7.7 miles on Sunday. OUCH! The pain, the pain, the pain. Ok…rest a few more days.

I ran 5.5 miles on Tuesday. Pain, pain, pain. Ok, this is NOT working. I told my husband and he said: “I had a feeling that you weren’t healed.” I came to the realization that I can’t run the 26.2 miles. I can’t even run 13.1 right now. I hurt. I ache.

I wrote to the marathon people explaining my EXTREMELY DIFFICULT decision to withdraw from the race. I also asked for my $80 entry fee back. I was very sad to hear that they do not give refunds. No matter what. I BEGGED them to reconsider (after all, we are a one income family and $80 is groceries for a week or more). No way, lady. We just don’t do it.Pelvis picture

It would appear now that I have purchased an $80 marathon t-shirt. Wow. I think that is the most expensive t-shirt I will ever own. I have to admit that I am not thrilled with the prospect of watching the evening news next Sunday. Seeing the race results and hearing how great the event went will add to my already foul mood.

I have learned a valuable lesson with this “set-back” though. Life isn’t predictable. No matter how much you think everything is going right, it can always change. You then have two choices. Wallow in self pity & loathing (and start drinking heavily) or dust yourself off and roll with it. I am rolling with it. Okay, I was tempted to drown myself in a case of K Hard Cider a few days ago, but I am over that now.

So, if you see me on the street wearing an expensive looking t-shirt, it was. It cost me $80.

Telemarketers, PLEASE stop calling me!

February 6th, 2007

Telemarketing guyWhen I worked for my Mom about 20 yrs. ago with Olan Mills Photography Studios, I had to make cold calls to sell photography packages. Honestly, I hated it. I don’t like high pressure (buying a car, large appliance, whatever). I didn’t like having to call people in the middle of their evening or Saturday morning newspaper reading to sell them a year’s worth of pictures. I am sure that I disappointed my Mom back then. I just wasn’t a good telemarketer.

I realize it is a job. I know there are worse jobs out there. However, this one really bothers people in the comfort and privacy of their home. At the end of a long day, you want nothing more than to sit down and enjoy being with your family. In the midst of taking a bite of your mashed potatoes and pot roast, the phone rings. It isn’t a beloved relative asking a quick question. It is a stranger asking if you had time to take a survey or would you be in the market to buy “x”.

These calls never come at an opportune time. They always come right when you are having the family meal, when your favorite television show is “getting to the good part”, or when you are tucking in your darling angels to bed.Telemarketing phone

I recently called our phone company about our high phone bill. We really don’t call anyone with our home phone any longer. We always use our cell phones. We would disconnect our home phone, but it is nice to have in case of an emergency and we need to call 9-1-1. The phone company took off the Call-Waiting feature and a few other things. I am not sure, but I think they also put us down for “Call them whenever they seem busy” and posted our phone number to every sales firm across the U.S.

We have been getting more and more telemarketing calls lately. I’m not making this up. We seem to be flooded by them. Well, I have had it. I put our phone number and cell phones into the National Do Not Call List www.donotcall.gov. I also went to our state do not call list website and registered there. I found that if telemarketers continue to call you, you can report their phone number and company name. I am not sure if anything will come of it, but it made me feel like I was getting the class bully into trouble.

Take that you 866 numbers! Next time, let me call you when Lost is on!

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