Thoughts About Jobs and Parenting

Last night, my husband and I helped my daughter prepare a show-and-tell presentation for her first grade class. The presentation was about the jobs we have, how these jobs help our community, and the tools we most often use to perform our job functions.

About The Jobs. First, we are parents. Secondly, my husband is also an electrical manufacturing engineer for GM and I am a writer. As parents, we love, teach, nurture, comfort, cook, clean, organize, play, discipline, and help our children explore their world. As a dad, my husband teaches our children how to build model cars and how to launch rockets. He also wakes on Saturdays at 7:00 am to make pancakes and watch movies with them. As a mom, I comfort our children when they’re puking pizza or having nightmares. Also, I host play dates and go on magic quests. At GM, my husband researches and develops advanced technology, parts and processes for passenger cars and trucks. I have written hundreds of new business development proposals as well as copy for marketing materials, which helped small and large business owners gain new clients.

Helping Our Community. As parents, we help our children participate as positive, active, and informed members of our local, state, national and global communities. We do this by encouraging interests, fostering strengths, and practicing what is learned in school. My husband’s contributions at GM help the automaker develop affordable, energy-efficient vehicles to reduce oil dependence and to save the planet. Writing enables me to inform, to advocate, and to share with the goal of helping others.

The Tools. As parents, our tool is a TLC-kit, which is at the ready at ALL times. It contains a phone, calendar, tasty health food, good books, music, toys, a computer, camera, pen, money, car keys, and adventure plans. The tools my husband uses at GM are innovation, a solid work ethic, a love for technology, intelligence, adaptability, eagerness for learning, and top-notch social skills. My writer tools mirror many of those in the TLC-kit; and a brain that does not have an off-switch.

The Original Saturday Real-Life Escape

It began Saturday morning. I started the engine, set my music to the Black-Eyed Peas, and sped out of the driveway. Squealing my tires, I left my husband, children and dog for my sister and Hob Nob Pinot Noir. I escaped to the land of The Original Cottage Inn, Stucchi’s, the University of Michigan and flirty boutiques.

At The Original, my sister and I savored a child-free meal and traded strategies on how to avert meltdowns. Somehow food and drink tastes so much better without food strikes, projectile air launches, or requests for drink refills. Plus, nothing beats The Original. Just think about it. Does Ataris’ cover of Don Henley’s Boys of Summer measure up? Say what you want. It just doesn’t do it for me. The same goes for food. Mastery of artful, tasteful duplication is tough and not without peril.

Our escape route also included a trek through the campus at U-M, hunting for stylish spring accessories, and indulging at Stucchi’s. That scoop of cinnamon crumb cake was absolutely delicious; and worth every calorie and fat gram.

The original Saturday real-life escape was extra special with a visit to my sister’s home. There, I cuddled my nephew who is a bundle of six-month cuteness and discussed how challenging it was to catch leprechauns with my niece, Annalise. She even showed me the box she made for trapping them. Life is beautiful.

Nine Irish Kids and the Power Codes

My mom is one of nine Irish kids who grew up in Howell, Mich. The tight connections among her siblings — my aunts and uncles — make for mega family reunions and for volumes of stories.

One story is about family population tracking and keeping peace during family meetings. My Aunt Kate — a mentor in all things Kate and the youngest of the nine — generated and assigned — in descending numeric and alphabetic power codes — to help everyone remember their “pecking” order in the family.

Numeric codes were assigned — from eldest to youngest as follows:

  1. Diane
  2. Susan (my mom)
  3. Gerry
  4. Betty
  5. John
  6. Steve
  7. Julie
  8. Dan
  9. Kate

Single, alphabetic codes were then matched to the number of offspring or pets each of the nine introduced to the family. For example, my Aunt Diane has four children. Their codes are 1A1, 1A2, 1A3, and 1A4. My mom had just two — my sister and I. So, we are 2B1 and 2B2. My cousins and I have learned our power codes do little to help trump discussions, decisions or euchre contests.

How do in-laws and future generations fit into this power code scheme? I am sorry to admit this. But, I lost the memo at my Aunt Gerry’s in Melbourne, Florida. It’s probably matted to the bottom of that empty keg we drank on St. Patrick’s Day 10 years ago.

So, how much of this story do you think is blarney and how much do you think is fact?

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Speechless

I am thousands of miles away from the devastation and chaos in Japan. It is a beautiful, sunny morning north of the “D”. My children are at school and I have yet to start on my daily to-do list. I keep thinking about Japan. The enormity of the situation there eludes me.

What can I say? There are not any words coming to my head. It’s impossible to know specifically what is being experienced. Can anyone imagine losing it all within a matter of minutes? I can’t. Urban landscapes and seascapes that were once thriving with life and activity are leveled and silenced.

A FB friend shared these NYT photos. I believe these are the best at telling the magnitude of loss in Japan. They capture the fragility of life; and how quickly it can be altered to a unrecognizable scape.

While on a date with my husband Saturday, we discussed earthquake activity in the Midwest portion of the US; and speculated on how unprepared this slice of the world is for a crisis. Just look at what happened in the Gulf leading up to and following Katrina and the BP oil disaster.

What to do? It’s human nature to put off preparing for future crisis situations; especially when my life has not been disrupted. There are so many more immediate “to-do” items competing for my attention. But, I thought Jamie Lee Curtis offered some worthwhile advice in a blog she posted Saturday on the Huffington Post. None of us know when disaster will strike. Wouldn’t it be better to be ready?

I Love Michigan: Ann Arbor

I can’t help it. This post and those that follow are going to read like a script for those Pure Michigan ads. However, I don’t need a script. All I have to say is off-the-cuff, from the heart and Pure Michigan.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of a date day with my husband. We stole away to Ann Arbor for the afternoon and then to his brother’s house later that evening.

Why Ann Arbor? It wasn’t for MTV’s casting call for the Real World at Scorekeepers. But, isn’t it great that filmmakers think Ann Arbor is a great city? It has urban appeal, a great mix of people, and the University of Michigan campus.

Anyway, why Ann Arbor? The bargain book shelves and tables at Borders’ flagship store on Liberty. Great people watching from Amer’s big plate-glass window. Nickel’s Arcade and the University of Michigan are beautiful even under a gray, cold March sky. March Madness at Buffalo Wild Wings on State Street.

Plus, Ann Arbor has a permanent signature on our relationship. My husband and I spent nearly one year of our dating lives there. Our first date was on the patio at Good Time Charley’s. Then there were Saturday afternoons goofing off at Pinball Pete’s, Middle Earth and The Little Brown Jug; a Valentine dinner at Palio’s; autumn strolls through the Arboretum; and haunted hayrides at Wiard’s.

One more very special connection to Ann Arbor is family. I am proud and boastful to mention a number of relatives live there or nearby. Rest assured, my husband, children and I will be spending many more fabulous Saturdays re-visiting and creating memories in this fabulous urban landscape.