I craved the quiet surrounding me. Peacefulness is what I sought. My brain missed the memo. The silence encourages me to ponder. Life thoughts — husband at work, kids at school, and my action item list — make me restless. The morning caffeine is working its magic.
Spring forward. Clocks are off. Sleepy heads stay snuggled. There are schedules to keep, things to remember, errands to run and work to do.
Kids arrive at school on time. Learning takes place. Teachers say it was an excellent day. A revamped workout gives me energy. Lunch out with a friend feeds my need for adult socialization.
Errands and work are complete. Sun peeks through the gloom. Gray prevails. Rain drops sprinkle the drive. Sprinkles become a downpour. Umbrellas, boots and quick feet are a must.
Stir-fry dinner makes husband smile. He loads up for seconds. It must pass the test. Children eat healthy. After-dinner treats are sweet. Homework is next on the agenda. That’s when trouble starts.
The couch is so inviting. A pillow offers respite. Tired eyes close. Clocks are off, again. What’s the big deal? There are more days in the week. Performance is best when body and mind have a much-needed rest. Pajamas and a cozy bed are the ticket.
Quiet, sleeping little people is bliss. Preparation for tomorrow morning is complete. Downtime with a favorite television show and my latest read is next.
These 10 include people, behaviors, and music that are most likely to elicit a snarl or two from me. I’m sure you have a Top 10. I would love to read yours.
1. Simultaneous, impatient demand for my undivided attention. I say, take a number and wait. Your request for attention will be considered in the order it was received. Now, suck it up and get in line.
2.When my children or husband ignore, forget, debate or protest valid, simple, reasonable instructions. I am all for questioning authority as long as it is not mine.
3. Rude, oblivious, distracted people. They are on our roads and all public places. There are so many. Why?
4. Zhu Zhu Pet hamster speak. Why did Santa Claus bring our family six of these; and then tell our neighbors another two of three would be just swell? Here is my theory. He was baked.
5. Ted Nugent’s Cat Scratch Fever. This song makes me feel like sticking a fork my eyeballs. And, I do not think about harming myself in any way, ever.
6. Consumer and media addiction to the stupid and irrelevant. Machetes, tiger blood, and crack do not make a sick man funny.
7. When I extend an invitation and do not ever receive a response. Since, I have violated this one and do not have an excuse except severe neglect of etiquette, I try to cut slack. But, multiple time offenders are off my A-list.
8. American Chopper: Senior vs Junior. My husband and I were avid fans of the original series because it told a good story about how hard work, creativity, and savvy marketing could grow a small business to tremendous success. But, then… all the constant infighting became old and nerve-racking.
9. Ask for my opinion, and then completely ignore — don’t even listen to or consider — what I have to say. If you’re not really interested in my opinion, don’t ask! Don’t pretend you care about what I think?
10. Overly competitive people. Healthy competition at work, school and play is okay. However, it bothers me when people make it their life-mission to out-do or even keep pace with having the same material possessions, luxuries, vacations, cars, chaotic after-school schedules, etc. as their neighbors, family and friends.
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.
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.
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.
A few weeks ago, I watched Piers Morgan interview Oprah on CNN. One of the most engaging, memorable sound bites was when Oprah talked about living in the moment. She talked about being able to thoroughly enjoy the dialogue with Morgan because she was focused specifically on life in that particular moment; not about the past and not about the future. Oprah identified living in the moment as one of her greatest life achievements.
I have been thinking about this portion of the interview for some time. Living in the moment is an ability to aspire to. But, is this a reality anyone can really achieve? Can anyone truly filter out — completely — all past reflections and forward thinking while doing something else at any given moment, consistently?
As I write this post, I am living in the moment; focused on the topic at hand. I am also listening to Foo Fighters and thinking about making my daughter’s lunch for school in 30 minutes.
But, I believe Oprah’s challenge was to savor each living moment we have; because our past is just that; and the future is unknown. Anything could happen. The irony of my reflections is that a girlfriend and I discussed this very issue just a few nights after the Morgan-Oprah interview. It was Janurary 15 and we had attended a Pistons’ game with our husbands. We were nicely surprised to witness a win against the Sacramento Kings. As we drove home from Auburn Hills, the roads were slushy and snow flurried across the windshield. It was a cold, dark night. All of us expressed how anxious we were for spring. My girlfriend agreed, but noted we were wishing our lives away. By thinking forward to March and April were not allowing ourselves to truly enjoy what we had that evening.
She was so right. The fun, cozy night began with a delicious Mexican meal at Miguel’s Catina in Rochester, Mich. Our good times continued with coffee at Caribou and then the Pistons’ game with fantastic seats in Section 102, Row E complements of a charitable organization I made a donation to in November. The four of us had it all; and we still do even in arctic-like Shelby Township, Mich.