Gym Etiquette

Today I encountered this transgression against basic courtesy. I had to unload a total of 13 forty-five pounds plates on a leg press machine. I believe the machine probably had 14 plates, but the guy next to the machine might’ve removed one for his workout.

Anyway, is it truly necessary to press nearly 600lbs.? If it’s necessary, why on earth did the person not remove the weights? Was it too heavy for them to remove? The narcissist who left this mini workout circuit is what is wrong with this world. Too many self centered, short sighted individuals who feel like the world only revolves around their interests are crawling the earth with tunnel vision. These same individuals breed mini versions of this archetype and perpetuate a vicious cycle that’s egotistical and possibly sociopathic. Yes, it’s only weights, but it shines a light on a larger problem. 

My Picky Eater

My youngest son is a picky eater. When I was breastfeeding him, he refused to drink my expressed milk from the bottle. He needed it from the source which made life a little challenging. My oldest son is a different story. While his brother shunned most foods, my oldest ate most things. 

Dinnertime is hellish whenever I cook which is 90% of the time. I’m a good and predictable cook, but you wouldn’t know it by my youngest reactions. He would rather eat baseline pizza (hello, Pizza Hut), hamburgers, and hot dogs. 

His pediatrician has been telling me that my son will outgrow being picky. Friends tell me to give it time. Experts say to offer a variety of foods, but don’t force him to eat. Well after 10 years I’m still in the midst of the battle with no end. 

I’m trying hard to not be resentful, but when it comes to dining, it seems like my youngest has held the family hostage to his preferences. I like seafood, but going out to a seafood restaurant is out of the question unless there is some chicken fingers on the menu. So many restaurants I enjoy come off the table for choice. Any family outing for a meal becomes a conversation on what’s on the menu the youngest would attempt to eat. It’s frustrating. 

You do you

I’ll do me

Do nothing less

And you’ll see

There’s no other

Way to be.

Don’t bite my style

Because I’m fly

Don’t covet

My special guy

Don’t contradict

Don’t ask me why

Just do you

And I’ll do me

Have your own

Buck jealousy

Walk your path

And be happy.

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When did it become imperative that every child should have a birthday party every year? Honestly, some marketing genius started a campaign to guilt parents into giving their children a full blown birthday party EVERY year.  When I was growing up in the 70’s, milestone birthday parties were the rage if you were good and your parents had a nice stash of cash to blow on a clown, magician, cake, and party favors.  Birthdays were small celebrations with family and a close friend or two.  Mom would bake a 1/4 sheet cake or buy one from the bakery.  Birthdays were not a big fuss.  Sometime during the 80’s birthday parties became a big to-do.

As a teacher in the 90’s, I remember parents asking me weeks in advance if they could bring cupcakes to the classroom.  This perfect party was genius.  The child’s friends were in the class.  The parent didn’t have to worry about getting their house dirty while making their child feel special.  Yes, this kind of party took valuable time away from my teaching, but I made allowances if I had plenty of notice.

Toward the end of the 90’s kids’ parties became larger affairs.  Places like Chuck E. Cheese became the defacto party spot.  Instead of taking off from work, parents could plan the party for the weekend at a place that kept the party mess away from the home for a nominal fee.  Then suddenly parents were out party planning each other.  The parties got bigger, parents were giving out expensive party bags with toys to the guests, and high priced entertainment became the rage.  I’ve been to parties where the entertainment was to name a few:

  • clown
  • pony
  • licensed Disney character
  • portable laser tag vehicle
  • video game truck
  • trampoline venue
  • bouncy houses
  • movie theater
  • train

It felt like every month there was another fancy birthday to attend.  As  guests, I’m hyper-aware that the party was expensive, so I would shop for a gift or gift card that will work as a price for admission to the party.  My boys would be thrilled to go to the party while I would dread it.  I hated having to go to a party where the noise is loud, the pace is frantic, and I’m forced to make small talk with people I do not know very well or have little in common. Birthday parties became a special kind of hell.

Lately, the etiquette for birthday parties in my homeschool community has become non-existent.  I have received a loosely worded text a couple of weeks before the party with the details.  I have gotten a word-of-mouth invite with no follow-through from one mom with a short attention span which disappointed my boys and her son because she “forgot” to send me a Facebook invite with the pertinent details.  And tonight I received a group email from a mom who is making park day in 2 days a birthday party for her son.  TWO DAYS! She’s giving the parents 2 days notice on one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year for a birthday party.

Why?

When was the mandate passed that we must give our children a birthday party? And this imagined mandate is making parents appear self-centered or neglectful.  This particular parent is known for giving her children fantastic parties with well-thought out themes. This off-handed invite two days before the day is negligent.  It appears that she’s mailing it in so she could check the box to say she gave her child a party.

During this time of turmoil, people need to take a moment to stop and reflect on the things they should be grateful for in this moment in time. Yes the origin story of Thanksgiving leaves a lot of people cold, but the essence of what the day means is where people should reflect.

Be grateful for the little things. Family, friends, and health top the list, but the little things that make the day easier or better are the nuts and bolts of life. Be grateful that you woke up. That simple thing we do everyday is a blessing that most take for granted.

Over the past 12 years my house has been the defacto place for Thanksgiving dinner since it was easier to host it with small children underfoot. I’m a strong believer in family traditions, so I started early and often to establish a core meal for my boys to remember when I’m long gone. So my dinner consists of turkey, stuffing, french green beans, brandy yams, dinner  rolls, and cranberry sauce.

Growing up, the canned cranberry sauce was the standard. As a kid, I  liked it, but as an adult, I  realized cranberries were an actual fruit and it was pretty easy to take the fruit and make a delicious sauce to compliment the meal that didn’t have the  ringed imprint of the  can on it. The first time the extended family came over and experienced my cranberry sauce, it was a shock to their expectations. Initially I felt apprehensive about this break with tradition, but I knew I  was making my own tradition for my husband and sons, so I  soildered forward.

So for years I had to endure the quiet murmers of wondering where the canned sauce was hidden. Proudly I served my sauce and watched my sons and husband  happily eat it up.  Well, today I  got a phone call that didn’t move my irritation  needle,  but I  was surprised it took over a decade for the request to be made. I was asked if it was okay to bring the canned sauce to dinner. I could’ve been a crab and said no, but it’s not a battle worth fighting.  There will be two sauces on the table illuminating two traditions. Life is too short to sweat over small things.  

Born of a union

Between two bitter souls

Eager to scream “Checkmate!”

Why? Who knows.

The fight for possession 

Grew bitter and colder

But olddly got boring

As you got older

The player who cheated

Found another game to play

The defacto loser

Wandered away.

So you grew older and dusty

An inconvenient play

A hard reminder of combat

So passionate in the day.

So you cry yourself to sleep

And no one heeds

Not believing the chess piece

Is wounded and bleeds.

I’m reading Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins. I’m 10% through it which isn’t much. I  have 7 days left on my checkout.  

When I was younger without being responsible for educating my children, running a household, and maintaining a social calendar, I  could read a good book in a day or two.  If the book was lengthy and deep like Anna Karenina by Tolstoy, it may take me a week to  finish.  Now that I’m older with scattered energies, I find I can’t sit for long periods of time to get lost in a book. I  get easily distracted. For example, I turned on my Kindle and read one paragraph. Suddenly I felt the urge to check my Facebook, read a political article, and write this blog post. Now for further transparency, I’ll finish this post, take a fifteen minute nap, then later get dinner together.

The book is intriguing. I’m getting to know a depressed drunk and a bored housewife. Honestly, it’s interesting and I’m promised a mystery, so I won’t shelve this novel, but I  can’t keep myself plugged in. I will finish this book in two days. I need to force myself to take the time to disconnect from my responsibilities and the internet.

My mind’s fudged up

With political woes

Giving side eye

To all of those

Who hid in shadows

Under blankets of fright

Some got angry

Some found might

Blue and red

Serenity is dead

Some pockets of society

I fear and dread.

But in the dark fudge 

A hard nut of truth

Kindness has survived 

Flowering in the youth, 

The old, the middle aged,

Kindness is all mental 

It’s needed to survive

And make this life gentle.

You know who you are.

You sit shotgun in my car.

I can tell you anything 

And you never repeat

Even if we are arguing

On your street.

We got a list

For folks who are bold

To step to us

Without being told.

You’ve seen my scars

And I’ve seen yours

We share the burdens

We share the chores

‘Though  time and distance

Aren’t on our side

You will always be

My Die and Ride
Dedicated to my sisters from other misters…and moms. Yeah, we’re not related, but you know what’s up.