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Category Archives: humor

You Can Do It Too: Nailing the To-Do List

I was incredibly productive today, absolutely nailed my to-do list. This is the time of year when our minds turn to goals, resolutions, and other grandiose planning strategies. Follow my methods, Young Grasshopper, and productive, you can be. (A lot of Star Wars excitement up in this house this holiday season.)

Effective goal-setting is a matter of priorities, resources and alignment of opportunities. But mostly, it’s all about the list, baby…  This isn’t brain surgery, or rocket science, or even binge-watching HGTV. (Is addiction to “Tiny House” a thing? Cause I’m a little worried…)

Don’t believe me? Well, check it out. Writing a blog post wasn’t even ON my to-do list today, but I’ve been so productive I’m still doing it, and now I can add it to the to-do list JUST so I can check it off. Oh, yeah, that feels good. Don’t tell me you don’t do it too, you know you do.

Curious? Intrigued? Sick of waiting for the point? Here’s today’s to-do list,  read it and be amazed:

  1. Sleep in – Done.
  2. Stay in pajamas all day – Done.
  3. Eat ridiculous amounts of Christmas treats. Balance with mandarin oranges and popcorn. Repeat – Done. And then some.
  4. Read a book. A real book, with chapters and without pictures or People Magazine columns anywhere – Done. (The Bone Labyrinth by James Rollins, beginning to end. Great fun in the style of “National Treasure” or “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, and equally believable.)
  5. Ignore the disaster that is post-Christmas chaos for one or two more days – so far so good, although I did have to clear a path through gift and toy detritus from my reading perch to the kitchen. But that was all in service to #3.
  6. Randomly demand throughout the day that my other family members “go eat some protein, enough sugar already!” I mean, #3 is on MY list, they should make their own  – Done.

Impressed? I am, and also happy and relaxed (and possibly high on sugar, but that’s for another day). After days weeks a couple of months being incredibly focused on the needs of others up to and through the Christmas holiday, today was all about me. You know what? It felt good.

Did reading this list leave you wistful, snarky, or even a little angry? Then do yourself a favor and adopt it as your own one day this week. Go on, you deserve it!

Oh, yeah:

7. Write a blog post, even though it’s been a really, really long time

– Check and Done!

 

Simmer Down, Missy!

Simmer Down, Missy!

I am a master of catastrophizing. That’s a word, I assure you. I learned it in parent classes I took for my niece when she was in DBT, or dialectical behavioral training, for her mental health struggles. It was actually, um, disconcerting how much helpful information I learned for myself from those classes.

Catastrophizing is the tendency to see everything in black and white, to immediately assume the worst possible outcome and spend precious time and energy spinning out instead of SIMMERING DOWN,  and proceeding with reasonable caution and cautious optimism. Isn’t it amazing how quickly we can assume the worst, and spiral into a vortex of impending disaster and doom?

It’s extra “special” that I am so good at catastrophizing, since I’m a Christian who professes to believe that God has good things planned for me, that He is working even the bad things out for His good, and that He walks alongside me in the hard times. I say I believe He is more interested in who I am and who I am becoming, and not in what I achieve.

That’s what I say, but I still spend far too much time panicking and freaking out, careening wildly between frantically trying to fix everything myself and anticipating the worst.

I was doing just that yesterday. We are in the final days of preparation for a church event for which I am nominally responsible (nominally because, you know, it’s really God’s bidness) that is shaping up to be, shall we say, more intimate than we had hoped for. More intimate to a degree that is possibly not, um, self-sustaining.

The more prudent approach that would protect your perception of how awesome I am would be to tell you all about it in a few weeks, after we make it work and we’ve learned lessons and I can tie a pretty bow on it. That would be prudent. But after an exhausting self-centered day yesterday of worrying about what people will think OF ME, I awoke this morning with a clear understanding that once again, IT AIN’T ABOUT ME. (Apparently a lesson I need to have repeated frequently.)

So I’m confessing my crappy attitude now, publicly, to do absolutely everything I can to get myself out of my own way before I even know how He’s going to work it out, because this is where the rubber hits the road.

(Anybody counting cheesy cliches in this post? I hope not.)

This event isn’t about me, and it isn’t about attendance numbers. It’s about what the Lord has planned for the women who He knows are coming. It isn’t about my leadership or reputation, it’s about the message we’ll hear and the stories we’ll share. If worst comes to worst, it won’t be about me being embarrassed but it will be about me being faithful, following His leading, and doing the best I can AFTER centering myself in prayer, in His Word, and in the counsel of others. It will be about me trying to follow as much of Him as I understand with as much of myself as I can.

You know what I get out of that approach?

A clear head for decisions.

A calm mind for creative problem-solving.

An open heart, ready to perceive the best way forward.

You know what I got out of yesterday’s approach?

A headache.

A self-indulgent pity party, party favors not included.

Shoulder muscles so tight you could bounce a quarter off of them, and a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

You know what my family got out of yesterday?

Cranky mom.

Cranky wife.

Cranky daughter.

They deserved better.

 

Today is better. I am not the center of the universe. You know what? Neither are you. Thank goodness!

So simmer down with me, huh? He’s got this.

 

How about you, been spinning out lately? What helped? If you’re a Christian, what verse from Scripture helps you remember Who’s in charge?

Not My Favorite Spring Break

Not My Favorite Spring Break

Thank goodness school started again today. Our spring break kind of……sucked. Not only that, but I’m suffering an uncharacteristic  — for me — amount of mommy guilt over the whole thing. Gotta be honest, mommy guilt is normally not in my wheelhouse (whether it SHOULD be is another question), but this week threw me for a loop.

I had all kinds of grand plans: a thorough spring-cleaning and purge of all boys’ rooms and belongings; outings to the zoo, the science museum, and hiking; frolicking in the great outdoors; garden planting and yard work. Not to mention relaxing extended family reading time, etc., etc.

We made it to the zoo Monday, but after that the week just kind of kerploofed. (It’s a word now, people, it’s perfect for the sort of imploding-while-disappointing sound I was imagining.) I had made just a few wee commitments for the week, but each of them somehow had other meetings appended to them, including meetings for and with my nieces that were really important and out of my control. Then mid-week my poor dad experienced a serious back injury that required a chaperone and multiple appointments, it rained most of the week so no one could play outside, and …… kerploof.

Lessons were learned though, and I record them here for your potential benefit, should you ever experience a disappointing kerploof of a holiday.

1. Huh, I’m raising relatively self-sufficient small people. Instead of adventures with mommy all week, my little men spent record amounts of time alone and in charge of themselves and each other. As the oldest is 13, this should be no big deal on paper, but we’re talking several big chunks of hours of time and three boys. And you know what, people? No blood was drawn, no disasters were had, lunches were prepared and consumed, and all was well.

2. Much less laundry is required when your family members spend most of the week in their jammies. This reduction in laundry was a small side benefit to the fact that the boys got dressed maybe twice between Monday and Friday……oh, look, here comes the guilt again……

3. Multiple Jammie Days??? My boys think that’s the Best. Thing. Ever. So instead of being disappointed at the lack of mommy outings, they were thrilled at the added responsibility of being on their own combined with the luxury of relatively unlimited electronics (truly not the norm in this house, honest) in their pj’s. By their accounting: SCORE.

A sleepover in the basement is the perfect end to a jammie day. Well, that and piles of Oreos.

A sleepover in the basement is the perfect end to a jammie day. Well, that and piles of Oreos.

4. Unlimited Electronics Buffet + Rainy Week Still = Squirrelly Boys. This is just basic physics, no changing that. Thank you Jesus for a sunny afternoon yesterday, or there might have been intra-familial fisticuffs.

5. I have discovered a basic, and to my knowledge, previously unnamed law of human behavior. Other people at the zoo cannot stop making up what are clearly dumb explanations for the animals’ behavior. The Corollary to this Law of Uncontrollably Fabricating Animal Behavior Explanations is the Inability to Control Mocking Others Ridiculous Explanations While Believing Your Own Understanding of Zoo Animal Behavior is Unquestionably Stellar.

6. Baby elephants are so cute, one cannot be blamed for compulsively taking what are clearly awful pictures of them….

Awww....look at the baby elephant. Well, she is cute, but there was all this glass in the way...

Awww….look at the baby elephant. If you can, through the glare, the glass, and her mother’s legs.

7. Much to my shame and dismay, I am not immune to Facebook-related jealousy. Having never really experienced it before, I was pretty confident I was above the capacity of Facebook to effect my perceptions of how fun our life is or is not. Until this week, when the pictures of Palm Desert, Hawaii and Mexico flooded my newsfeed while I went from meeting to appointment to meeting. I realized I am no better than any other Facebook user, capable of being consumed by feelings of envy and inadequacy.

A pathetic group selfie (us-ie?) of us at The Lego Movie.

A pathetic group selfie (us-ie?) of us at The Lego Movie.

I did not post that blurry mess to social media, didn’t feel it adequately competed with all of the beach/skiing/Italian spa/parasailing/rock-climbing on Mars photos. Sigh. (I am completely aware of the whiny nature of my seriously first-world problems. I am a brat. That fact just makes it all worse. More sighing.)

8. When given the chance, my boys rose to the occasion and to my expectations, whether it was helping injured grandpa walk his dog this week, managing on their own so long, or doing extra chores to help me out instead of getting to do extra adventures or fun treats. Our kids are often capable of so much more than we ask of them, and they are proud to do it.

9. This too shall pass, for everything there is a season, kids are resilient, and honestly I can’t remember ONE single spring break from my elementary or middle school years. My mom was GREAT, and I’m sure we did all kinds of super fun spring break things.  Wait, had spring break even been invented then? Anyhow, maybe in the scheme of things it won’t really matter…..

Maybe everything IS awesome….

Also, I’m pretty sure that song was composed by the folks who compose Vacation Bible School theme music. Anyone agree?

 

 

Barley Love and Life in Maliva

Is it weird to be a fan of barley? Is it more weird to post about barley and unintelligible song lyrics at the same time?

This is not and never will be a food blog, but holy cow! I have to tell y’all about this salad, Hearty Barley and Cauliflower Salad, a recipe from Real Simple magazine. I made it last night and polished it off this afternoon for an early Friday dinner after sending two of the menfolk off on a weekend Scout camping trip. (On a side note, when you finish dinner at 4:45 Friday afternoon, the evening stretches out in front of you like a glorious mini-weekend in itself. The old folks in line at Denny’s might just be on to something.)

Anyhoo, this salad is SO GOOD. The inclusion of salami raised its family sample rate, and it was surprisingly well-received across the board. I used the fancy manchego cheese, substituted spinach instead of radicchio so I didn’t have to make an extra trip to the store, and added pine nuts – brilliant. But for me, it’s all about the barley. So chewy and substantial and yummy. I am a new and enthusiastic fan of barley.

Hearty Barley and Cauliflower Salad With Manchego and Salami

credit to Real Simple magazine, Hearty Barley and Cauliflower Salad With Manchego and Salami

Wait, too much barley excitement for you? I can slow down……

OK,  just one more thing before I leave you overwhelmed with the PARTY that is me on a Friday night. You know those songs that contain lyrics you just cannot understand, so you are left to make up your own? Well, my kids and I love to listen to this song by the Christian band Unspoken, called “Lift My Life Up.” Beautiful song, cool vocals, great lyrics, respect.* 

HOWEVER, even though we KNOW the lyrics are in part “I lift my life up, my life up…” it totally sounds like “I live my life in Maliva.” Makes us laugh every time. Every. Time.

I live my life in Maliva. Ha!

Wonder if they like barley in Maliva?

What about you? Any fabulous new dinner finds, or hysterically misunderstood song lyrics you’d like to share with the class?

*(Hey, hey you! Don’t you go running off or rolling your eyes just because I referenced Christian music. The genre is WAY better than it used to be, and is now often nearly indistinguishable in quality and style from other pop and alternative music forms. Don’t believe me? Check out groups like alt-folk-rock-ish Rend Collective or the pop-y Francesca Battistelli. Even if you aren’t a Christian, misunderstood lyrics are cross-faith funny!)

Truck Meat Revisited: Am I Too Trusting?

Have you ever bought truck meat? How about had your dent undented by a parking lot dude? Have you ever been accused of being too trusting, or are you the kind of person who frisks your own family when they come to the dinner table?

I admit it, I may be too trusting. (Note: I first wrote about this on Facebook 4 years ago, but something happened yesterday that made me realize I’m still trying to figure it out. Plus, it’s just fun to say truck meat. Go ahead, it’s fun, say it. Truck meat. Ha!)

While treating a fellow Stand Up for Mental Health comedian to lunch yesterday for sharing her morning with my co-author and I for our upcoming book, I was hollered at in the restaurant parking lot. “Did I hit someone? Did I park stupid? Do I know that guy?” Questions ran through my head (not that I have a habit of hitting people. Parking stupidly, eh, maybe) as a friendly gentleman in a pickup truck waved me over.

“I am sorry to yell at you like that,” he said, “but I couldn’t help notice you have some damage to your bumper, and I have a machine that will pop that right out, I can come to you, maybe I could jump out and take a look and do a free estimate for you right now?”

Here’s the thing. I’m pretty sure my husband, a handsome but introverted and danger/inconvenience/getting-ripped-off-averse guy, would have already said “no thanks, not interested….” and walked away at this point.

Which is WHY, dear readers, I haven’t told him about it yet, because I want your feedback first! So stick with me, and tell me what you’d do, ok? Help a blogger out?

I, being me, said sure, he could give me an estimate if he wanted to come find me in the restaurant, because I didn’t want to make my lunch partner wait. AND HE DID. About 5 minutes later he walked right into Shari’s – Denney’s of the Pacific Northwest – and came over to give me his estimate. $160 to pop out the big ol’dent in the front corner of my front bumper, which would allow him to reattach it to the surrounding bumper-adjacent parts. He gave me a note (OK, I had to give him a piece of paper and a pen to write the note) with his name and number and the estimate and said to give him a call.

OK, that’s not exactly how it happened. He actually said he could go get the machine RIGHT THEN and have my bumper fixed by the time I was done with my tasty BLT, and I wouldn’t have to pay unless I was satisfied.  When I played the “oh, I’d definitely need to talk that over with the husband first”, THEN he said I could call him, and if I said nice things to my friends he’d even touch up the other paint-scratched areas for free. (There may be a few, I don’t think that’s relevant here. Though I do think it makes me extra pious and noble to not care that my Honda Odyssey is showing signs of its journey with me…..)

And you know what? That’s the world I wish I lived in.

I wish I lived in a world where I could say “Sure, that would be great! Please do go fetch your undenting machine, I’ll see you in the parking lot after my lunch!” without knowing that grumpy untrusting folk like my handsome husband would metaphorically strangle me for doing such a crazy thing. Grumpy McGrumpypants. Why can’t I give this earnest man a chance to fix my bumper?

Said husband would point to my history, I’m guessing. For instance, I wrote a personal check a couple of years ago to a rough-looking young woman with a really good spiel at my door. She was selling magazines and kids books, and she said she was a teen runaway hooked up with a charitable organization helping her learn skills to stay off the streets. My husband, quite sure the depths of the identity theft would become clear right before the home burglaries and murders began, was somewhat annoyed. We were both relieved when we actually got the books and the magazines.

And you can imagine his resigned bemusement when I bought truck meat. Yup. Meat off a truck. Meat off a truck from a guy who “happened” to be going on vacation that day who needed to unload it instead of taking it back to the “office.” I thought at the time I was pretty clever, even going so far as to whip out local store ads and make him prove that his prices were comparable. In the end, I bought truck meat. A lot of it. For a lot of money.

Not long after, while frying up some truck meat, I had to admit to myself I’d been taken. The hamburgers were just not great. The steaks were fine, and the chicken merely average. Don’t even ask about the seafood, I’m not sure we were ever brave enough to eat it. (I TOLD YOU, it was a LOT of truck meat.) Sweet husband asked for months afterward, as a matter of course when he saw me cooking, “Is that truck meat?” And now, in this public forum, I admit it to my dear husband. I got taken. The truck meat was fine, but I shouldn’t have done it.

It didn’t help that I once neglected and burned some truck meat because I left the kitchen to show a sweet-faced landscaper seeking work a stump in our yard that needed removed so he could do an estimate. But…..

I like working with the little guy, supporting the underdog, keeping it local. How do I do it without being a trusting idiot? Or should I worry so much about it?

How else to be a part of a community without allowing yourself to occasionally be vulnerable to your fellow man?

Or is that just a glorified excuse for truck meat and parking lot undenters?

What do you think? Have you ever used a parking lot undenter dude? What would you do?

Getting Real and Getting Uncluttered, day 3

Getting Real and Getting Uncluttered, day 3

So……day 3 is actually happening on day 4. But you know what? That’s ok. This week is supposed to be about getting real on the Internet, and real is that life happened yesterday. Then I realized there were technical difficulties with day 2’s post which needed is now fixed, so I didn’t get my spot done til today. It’s as done as I can get it for now, but completion will require shopping! Yay shopping! A trip to IKEA may even be in order……oh, the excitement.  Here’s my clean and uncluttered, if not attractive, entryway:

Entry way after

Ready to see yet another photo that will make you feel FABULOUS about your house? Whoo, boy, my next spot to tackle is a doozy! This shelf SHOULD be beautifully decorated, really, because it is very centrally located on our open plan main floor, between the dining area and the living room, and it’s even visible somewhat from the front door. This spot, I’m ashamed to say, looked like this straight through Christmas. (On a side note, I think I have realized why I love decorating for Christmas – it seems so much more achievable than decorating my house without a festive theme and fun sparkly things. Perhaps I need more “regular” fun sparkly things to motivate me, and LESS un-fun clutter that overwhelms me. Hmmmmm…..)

Now, remember, this is about getting real, so try not to judge? Because this has clearly become a sad, sad testament to my addiction to magazines.

The Magazine Pile

I know, it’s out of control. But it’s largely my mother’s fault (and possibly the Mafia). First, my mom has always had a ton of magazine subscriptions, so I was exposed and then addicted at an early age. Second, about 6 months ago my parents started receiving about 15 MORE magazine subscriptions to their exact address, including apartment number, but addressed to “Sheepshead Bay Primary Care Clinic.”

As far as I can Google, such a clinic does not currently exist. There was such a clinic in Brooklyn, NY which was slated to close in 2009. I don’t know if the clinic and the magazine orders are some complicated Mafia money laundering scheme, the result of a rift in the time-space continuum, or just a boring error by a 3rd party supplier of magazine subscription packages to doctor’s offices. Either way, my sweet mother here in Oregon has tried to cancel each magazine individually and the magazines tell her they don’t have records of the order. Whattya gonna do? Fuh-geddabout-it!

It would be WASTEFUL not to try and read the magazines, right? I mean, it’s not like we read the baby magazines, that would be silly. (Because MY baby turns 8 this weekend. WHO LET THAT HAPPEN?) (Apparently, baby magazines are delivered in bulk to doctors, so it caused quite a stir the first few months my folks received 25 copies of the current issue delivered to their senior living community.) But there are some primo magazines too, and I can’t let them go unread. Add in all of the magazines I already get, and it’s out of control. Not sure the fix, but tomorrow I vow ACTION.

That’s right, even if I have to read magazines straight through the weekend, I will persevere!

Here are the links to day 1 and day 2 if you missed them!

Getting Real on the Internet

If we are friends on Facebook, I owe you an apology of sorts. A few weeks ago, the night of Christmas Eve, I posted the following on Facebook. Accept my apology now, I’ll make my excuses in a bit. So along with this picture of my three boys dressed in matching blue Oxford shirts and suit jackets, all smiling adorably in front of the tree, this is what I posted:

3 Boys Xmas

“We’ve had our Christmas miracle! Managed to get the boys to do a video to mail Grandma in Arizona that included trumpet, violin and harmonica solos, the first EVER recording of the Rolstad boys SINGING, and they even got dressed up! Alleluia!”

It was probably three days before I reflected on that post and realized how COMPLETELY over-the-top nauseating it may have read to some. Trumpet solos? Seriously? It could easily be interpreted as just another polished-for-the-interwebs overly shiny and somewhat fake post that we find ourselves hating when done by others.

Social media posts like that can make us feel bad about ourselves, make us hate our lame vacations to the Sock Museum, hate our spouses for not buying us diamond-encrusted cars for Christmas, and even tempt us into embellishing our own posts to compete with the virtual Jones’.

But here’s the deal. We also need to remember to give each other grace, because I truly didn’t realize how overly precious that post could sound when I wrote it because here’s what my Facebook friends didn’t know:

1. on the other side of the camera? I was getting over the flu, generally cranky and phlegmy. I was gross.

2. My boys had been wearing their footie pajamas until I made them do this video. Even though it was like 3 in the afternoon. OK, it was later than that.

3. They were all wearing jeans with those suit jackets. Two of them were wearing visibly dirty jeans.

4. They were all barefoot.

5. None of them were initially too excited about being pulled away from TV shows and computer games. (I had the flu, ok? Mama has to do what mama has to do when mama has the flu and there are three of you.* We had a very electronically intensive Christmas break. Oh, well.) The oldest visibly pouted through much of the video.

6. All of those instrumental solos? Well. Said eldest somehow managed to look grumpy while playing his trumpet, the violin solo was a simple scale, and the harmonica solos were two songs completely made up by the 7-year-old, who does not know how to play the harmonica. (They did sound the same every time he played his “songs”, amazingly.)

7. Video of them singing was a big deal. I have not had the glorious experiences of friends who put their precious wee ones in the church kids’ choir, and beamed with pride as they performed for their church family. My youngest two flatly refused to participate after absorbing the misery caused to their oldest brother. He wouldn’t sing in choir practices because he “didn’t know the songs” (hey, perfectionist introvert child I do not get – hello? that’s how you LEARN the song???) He finished one of his only performances sitting on the floor in silent protest, as everyone around him stood and sang. He had begun the performance with a full minute of shooting death rays at my head from his eyes and making violent chopping motions at me with his hands. In front of everyone. He was 5. The three have not ever sang together, really, until this Christmas Eve afternoon.

See? It really was a miracle. A messy, imperfect, disorganized miracle. But in my virally induced state, I didn’t think to make the context clear, so it could have been perceived like a pretentious braggy mama post. Well, anyone who knows my family very well probably assumed at least 4 of the 7  points above, so they knew, but if you didn’t know me well…..I wouldn’t blame you for rolling your eyes.

So while I don’t normally jump on a bandwagon created by a corporate entity, I thought it was perfect timing to do this post today. One of my favorite magazines, Real Simple, has declared this week to be Get Real on the Internet Week. It’s all about “down with fakebooking”, and up with sharing more of who we really, authentically are with each other. Those who want to sign up get fun challenges all week, including today’s challenge: “Meals can’t always be gourmet. Show off your botched dinner, junk food, or sad sandwich.”

I’m taking a different tack, however. Partly as penance for my potentially pretentious post (nothing more fun than some good ol’ alliteration), and partly because I need to GET ON TOP OF THE CLUTTER ALREADY, I’m going to post one “before” photo of a different horrible and horribly true spot in my house every day this week. The following day I will have hopefully cleaned it up and can show you the “after” picture. Before and after pictures are fun, right? Hopefully, the public pressure of sharing my mess will help motivate me to clean it up, one trouble spot at a time.

If not, it will at least give you the chance to feel better about yourself, looking at what a bad housekeeper I am. (Warning – if you are a true neatnik, you should probably avert your eyes. My disorganized mess may give you hives or something.)

Ready for picture one? In the interest of  getting real, being authentic and motivating myself, here it comes………………I call this:

The Dumping Spot Next to the Sink

Why does this spot ALWAYS look like this? Such a small spot, SO MUCH crap.

Why does this spot ALWAYS look like this? Such a small spot, SO MUCH crap.

OK, Interwebs, we’re getting real. Tomorrow, the “after” version of this spot, and a new spot to make you shake your  head and wonder how I can be such a mess. See you tomorrow!

Oh, and want to join me in my quest? Go for it! Share your spots in the comments, or tell me how you’re being real on the Internet!

*Ha! I wrote a funny poem! If I was artsy, I would design a cute word graphic out of this and post it on Facebook, or maybe needlepoint it onto a pillow and then Pin it on Pinterest…..oh, wait.

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