Category Archives: The Tribe

Being a Grown Up

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“When adult life becomes so overwhelmingly frustrating, I almost feel like I want to be able to remove the skin I’m in and step out of it, taking on a new reality just as I change duvet covers when the seasons change. I don’t itch, not in a physical sense… it’s like a psychological itch; a discomfort that almost, but not quite, allows me to understand why some women simply walk out the door and leave their home and family behind when the challenges of life are piled on top of them.”

I wrote this paragraph a couple of weeks ago. For the life of me, I can’t remember the precise details of what was stressing me so much that I needed to capture these feelings. Obviously, it was intense. And, just as obviously, it worked itself out and I’m still happily married and devoted to my children and husband. I think sometimes the collision of Things I Can’t Control and Things That Don’t Go As Planned just creates the perfect emotional storm, you know?

Do you ever experience these feelings of wanting to just lock the door behind you and walk away? What makes you stay? I think I may need to investigate a little deeper and pull a book idea out of this…

Baby birds and healthy meals

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A couple of weeks ago now, I moved my oldest daughter into her first apartment. She packed up the boxes, I helped her unpack a few. We went shopping for some of the necessities of single-living that she wasn’t able to pay for right away – dish detergent, broom, etc… We discussed the best way to buy groceries on a (very) limited budget: meal plans. And then I came home to my house. That evening, as I prepared a yummy dinner that featured pork chops and organic veggies from my CSA bag, I was struck by an unexpected bout of guilt. Guilt that I was making a healthy, not-so-frugal meal that my daughter and grand-daughter were unable to partake of. They only live 20 minutes away. But their meals will be based around cheap staples, 101 ways to use ground beef, and probably not a ton of fresh (certainly not organic) veggies.

That feeling hasn’t hit again, thankfully, and I’ve even seen a post on Facebook that featured a decent meal she created all by herself. I’ve begun to feel a little more comfortable with the idea that they’ll be able to make it. And by “make it”, you know I mean “keep their clothing clean and ingest a vegetable at least once a week.” 🙂 Sometimes, it really is necessary for the baby bird to be shoved out of the nest.

I have wondered if my mother worried about these kinds of things when I moved out. I was single and living on my own for approximately two months before meeting my first husband, who promptly moved in with me. I had my oldest the next January. I figured out how to apply for WIC, how to deal with the county health department when I didn’t have health insurance, and how to appeal my denial for health insurance when I could finally afford it but it was outside of my employer’s “open enrollment” period. (I won.) I don’t remember asking my mom for advice for these things, but I also don’t remember her being much of a worrier. I think she just assumed all would be well. Of course, I was 25 when I moved out, and didn’t have a baby yet… but still. Surely she worried just a LITTLE.

Perhaps I should go dig out her journals and read a little about her feelings on the subject. Or perhaps it’s best to just keep looking forward and expect success. Seems like it worked for me.

 

 

Cheaper Than a New Car

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Maybe it’s a natural result of having kids. Maybe we’re just a lazy family. It doesn’t really matter what behavior leads to the smell… it turns out that on any given day my car and my husband’s truck may just have a funky odor. I’ve frantically thrown everything out of my car before looking for THAT SMELL, and rejoiced upon finding a half-full container of orange juice. If you don’t know what spoiled orange juice smells like, believe me when I say it’s not something you want in the 8×6 box that is the interior of your car. Nasty.

So the other day when I climbed into my husband’s truck for an afternoon drive and immediately thought “what’s that smell??” I knew it was time to do something about this apparently chronic issue. We just paid our last car payment, so a new one was out of the question. I was going to have to settle for a #FresherCar. I ran by my local Walmart supercenter at lunch the next day to peruse the air fresheners, and came across air filters. Did you know that the interior of your car is called a “cabin”… just like a boat or a plane?? Yeah, neither did I! More importantly, I found out that there are air filters in our cars that are made to be changed regularly to keep the air inside the cabin clean. I have owned lots of cars, and this is a fact that somehow eluded me. I hope I’m not alone here… feeling like a girl. 🙂

So I found these FRAM Fresh Breeze cabin filters, and they claim to clean the air 6 times better than standard cabin air filters because they use Arm & Hammer baking soda. Just like grandma used to put in the fridge. If grandma used it, it’s gotta be good.

FRAM Fresh Breeze air filter

There was a little catalog hanging off the shelf to help analog users look up the make and model of their vehicle… but do you see the little QR code there on the box? Yeah, I whipped out my iPhone and pulled up my ScanLife app… I feel all hip and tech-savvy when I have a chance to use it. It’s the little things, people.

And what do you know – that little code took me to the FRAM app and let me look for the correct filter number right there. And even better – it included an installation video! We were in business – and that filter was in my cart. (For a complete ride-along of my shopping trip to Walmart, check out my Google+ album here.)

FRAM Fresh Breeze app

The box promised a 15 minute installation, and of course I’m assuming that’s an optimistic prediction. But seriously, it only took me 12 minutes to pop that thing in. I had to un-hinge the glove box (easy), and pull out the old filter… gross… it might be hard to tell, but the one behind is the original (which had probably been in there since we bought the truck) and it was full of grit and bits and nastiness. Can you see the sparkly shine on the new one on top? Maybe it was late and I was hallucinating a little…

FRAM filter vs. old filterJust slide it in and close her up, and we’re done!

FRAM filter install

Have you used the FRAM Fresh Breeze filters? Go check out the FRAM Facebook page and let them know what you thought. And if you’re shopping for filters, be sure to take advantage of this rebate offer! They’ve got my DIY-friendly vote, for sure. And I am definitely looking forward to my next Sunday drive.

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and FRAM #cbias #SocialFabric

Tools to keep us sane (relatively).

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I’ve shared before that my husband and I have been making some changes in our diets and activity levels due to my husband’s brush with high blood pressure and diabetes last year. I’m happy to report that the Hubs has been super-committed and has lost over 40 pounds just by exercising more and cutting back on his portion sizes and intake of starches. He’s been using an Atkins-inspired diet plan and I’m so proud of his progress so far. His A1c level has gone from 10+ last year to just over 5 in January.

I doubt I’m the only wife who feels like they have to be prepared at any moment to step in and rescue our husbands when they have neglected a Very Important Thing. Sometimes (most of the time, probably) the Very Important Thing isn’t potentially life-threatening… picking up milk on the way home, or scheduling an oil change. But sometimes the Very Important Thing is, in reality, VERY IMPORTANT.

Now, any given day at my house, we’re looking at this pile of laundry… (yes, that’s a pool table underneath… we’re busy around here!)

Laundry makes me crazy

… and this selection of medication on my husband’s side of the bathroom vanity (yes, that’s the 9th Dr. overlooking the scene – we’re busy geeks around here!).

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So, you can imagine that when I find an app that I can load on my phone and that will make a Very Important Thing in my life a lot easier, I’m all about it.

One particular panic moment occurred soon after my husband’s diagnosis with diabetes. He was already headed out of town on a business trip and realized that he hadn’t ordered a prescription he couldn’t afford to miss. He was kind of freaking out, but I remembered that I had the Walgreens mobile app loaded on my phone. I told him to just get on his flight and let me take care of it.

The Walgreens app allows users to load prescriptions for other people – perfect for parents, spouses, or caregivers who are taking care of someone else’s prescriptions. I pulled up my husband’s prescriptions, found a Walgreen’s near his hotel, and sent the Very Important prescription he needed there. He picked it up after dinner that night and never missed a dose. I think he was fairly impressed.

I’ve added my husband’s prescriptions to my account on the app (easy to do – just follow directions on the app) and I can pull his list up on my phone with a simple drop down menu:

Walgreen's Prescription App Family Member RefillOnce the prescription has been filled and is waiting for me, I get a text message on my phone to let me know – these alerts are easy to set up in the app as well:

Walgreen's Prescription Alert on iPhone

You can also schedule reminders to nudge you to get your kids vaccinated on time, and even set a timer to remind you to take your meds every day. What do you bet someone’s wife came up with this app?? LOL! #Happy#Healthy

Before I headed to pick up my prescription I also used the shopping list available on the app to remind myself that it’s time to touch up my roots and I needed to pick up some sugar-free candy for my office (low carb, remember?).

Walgreen's App Shopping List Feature

But I’m not saying this wasn’t tempting… Damn you, Easter Bunny!!

Easter Candy at Walgreen'sI found these warmers at a ridiculous price and had to pick one up. I’m sorry, but less than $6.00??? Um, YES.

Harmony Home Warmer Sale Walgreen'sI checked my Walgreens Rewards Points and kept an eye out to see if anything I had on my list had points available. Most of the items that offer points do so by 1000-2000 at a time, and you only have to reach 5000 points to get $5.00 off your next purchase.

Walgreen's Rewards Points AppMy youth-in-a-bottle didn’t have any points attached today, but it’s a couple of dollars cheaper than I see it elsewhere, so I’m still happy. 🙂 Mission accomplished, and I’m able to check a few things off my to-do list. But of course, the laundry is still on the pool table… 🙂

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community.  This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias® and Walgreens. Even so, the opinions are my own and I use the Walgreens Mobile App for realz. #cbias #SocialFabric

Tell Me A Secret

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We all have secrets. Some of us keep secrets from our spouses – the fact that your credit card balances aren’t quite as low as you claimed, or maybe the fact that you were engaged to someone else before you met them. But what about secrets that would be appreciated, or even cherished, by someone else… but you decide to keep them to yourself. Have you ever been selfish with a memory?

As my husband has been receiving updates from his step-mother and watching his father suffer what is probably his last battle with a lifetime habit of cigarette-smoking, we have talked about his feelings and how I can support him through the child’s journey he’ll be taking as his dad goes through treatment. One evening we reflected on my mom’s cancer battle, and he suddenly said “There’s something I haven’t told you before.” Obviously, in other circumstances, I might worry about this statement, but in context I simply wondered what he could be referring to.

His tears welled up a little as he confided a secret he’s kept for over 3 years. The night before mom died, as my siblings and I wrapped up an evening spent laughing (loudly) and telling stories in her hospice room, we each said our good-nights to her and headed out the door. Rick was the last to bend over her and give her a kiss, and he told her he loved her. She was heavily medicated to relieve the seizures she was experiencing due to her brain tumor, and had not been responsive or able to communicate for a couple of days. We were hopeful that she was able to hear us, but unfortunately we didn’t get to hear what she may have wanted to say to us. But when my husband said goodbye, she responded to him. He doesn’t recall recognizing any words, but she mumbled. She recognized that he was communicating with her, and she let him know.

Mom was probably the closest thing to a real mother that my husband had, but they had only a short time together – almost exactly 6 years. She was never one to mince words, nor did she hold back when heaping praise. She took Rick in when he moved here, unemployed and broke, from Colorado to marry her daughter and be her grand-daughters’ step-dad. They had so much in common it was kind of funny. I used to joke that he married me for her. 🙂

We left my youngest brother with mom that night to spend the night in the room with her, and around 6 a.m. he let the rest of us know that she had died in the night. I suppose I could be upset that my husband never told me about that night. Some people would be, I’m sure. I mean, she was my mother, afterall. I certainly would have enjoyed knowing that she recognized him. But, I know she thought he was pretty great, and I’m so pleased that her effort to say something to him at least confirms that she knew we were there. I hope that she heard our laughter and knew that she had done her job in this lifetime… she raised four children who will care for each other and be there for each other in her absence. She taught us how to remain positive and move forward through difficult times with determination.

I think it’s better that she didn’t respond to me, because I probably would have wanted to make her say something… I would have asked the doctors if perhaps she wasn’t ready to go. I would have hung on, even when it was obvious there was no point. It was time to let go. She said what she needed to say to the person who needed to hear it. I’m glad he has that special memory… but I’m also glad he finally told me about it.

Girls’ Night!

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A few weeks ago I went to an incredible conference for Arkansas women bloggers. In fact it was called the Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged conference. Funny how that works. As a result of those three amazing days, I have begun creating an editorial calendar for my writing endeavors, I have picked up a freelance job that pays me decent part-time cash, and I got a ton of terrific swag including a free pair of boots. What a great deal, right?? TOTALLY worth the cost of the conference.

Well the hits keep coming. Some of the ladies who went to the conference gathered for a little meet and greet today, sponsored by Therapon (and I brought home some products I’ll be talking about in coming weeks!) and one of the giveaways for the afternoon was tickets to see STOMP at the Walton Arts Center.

My family is very familiar with the WAC. Ever since my girls were small we have gone to see Broadway shows, dance troupes, musicians and singers, opera… we were even onstage ourselves and have the commemorative Christmas tree ornament to prove it. We have been fortunate to have a family member who works there, so sometimes we get so see things as her guest, but they have such a huge variety of shows in their schedules there are always things that we can afford, whether it’s a family outing or a date night with the hubster.

When I was offered the opportunity to see one of the biggest touring shows in the country as a little promotional perk – uh… Duh. It’s easy to talk about things you already love, right??

The best part is that I’ll be taking my daughter. D and her 2-year-old live with us right now as she works on getting her feet under her as a young mom and figures out where she’s headed. It’s made for some stressful months. It’s also been difficult to find time to do things together for fun. I feel as though I’m constantly griping at her about one thing or another, even when we’re doing otherwise fun things like shopping for shoes or cooking dinner, and that’s no good for either of us.

So tonight, we’ll get dolled up a bit and find our seats at the WAC and look forward to seeing some of this:

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And a good bit of this:

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And maybe a smidge of this:

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There is one more show this weekend, tomorrow at 2pm. If you are anywhere near Northwest Arkansas, I’d encourage you to go. In case you need a little more convincing – check out the video on their website. I’m off to get dressed for a night out!

 

Cowgirl boots.

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My son kind of marches to his own drummer. As a former drama club vice president and general artsy-fartsy person, this fact makes me very proud most of the time. I am not a mother who winces or begs for forgiveness with her eyes when my son walks out to the car for a trip to the market wearing snow boots, a cape, and one glove with the fingers (but not the thumb) cut off. Some of you may have felt this way when your children were, say… 3 years old. When they’re 3 it’s cute if they dress themselves in two pair of pants and a Thomas the Train Engine bathrobe… My son is 7.

I know there are moms out there who are with me. I see other kids out in public flying their “I’m a Bit Odd” flag proudly, and I give their moms a knowing look as we pass each other, judging our awesomeness based on the level of odd our children have achieved. But while I may be okay with a kid who dresses like he just finished playing an old party game involving a stopwatch and a box full of clothes, HE is certainly old enough to know when something he wears may invite some criticism from his peers. Such was the case with the “cowgirl boots”.

We found the boots on a treasure-hunting day-trip a month or so ago. My husband and son agreed to indulge my desire to go look at stores full of old stuff, and we all had a little Christmas money to spend. As we wandered through a flea market, G spotted them. He immediately had to try them on, and was thrilled to find they fit. The price, $14, was not outrageous, and after confirming several times that he did, indeed want to spend some of his money on them, he was allowed to carry them through the rest of the store. He didn’t even make it to the cashier before begging to put them on.

The boots didn’t come off his feet for a full 48 hours after purchase, and he had to wear them to school the next Monday. He was so proud! “Ka-lomp, Ka-lomp, Ka-lomp…” out to the car he went. When I asked him that afternoon how everyone liked his boots, he said the other kids all thought they were cool. That night, he had some shin pain that we decided was probably due to the boot-love. They have a little heel on them, which I’m assuming most 7 year-old-boys aren’t used to. We put the boots in the closet and suggested he not wear them for a little bit to give his legs time to recover.

A month went by, and I noticed the boots in the closet one evening before bed. I asked if he was going to wear his boots again soon. He said no. Surprised, I asked why, and he responded that the other kids said they are cowGIRL boots. Uh-oh. Let me state for the record – they are NOT cowgirl boots. I appreciate a creative fashion sense, but I’m not setting my kid up for certain social rejection.

I tried to make it better: “They were just teasing you…” I said. He opened his eyes wide and said “No, they had serious faces.” Then I suggested it wasn’t everyone who thought they were cowgirl boots. This idea was rejected as well. “Everyone” told him so. But he LOVED those boots!!! I was not going to let a bunch of un-imaginative, ignorant, bully-children (or even a few teasing friends) steal my child’s creative spark!!

So, I had to just get all authoritative. I simply stated – with as much Mommies-Know-All voice as I could muster- that they are, in fact, not cowgirl boots. It’s hard to explain exactly how boots are not cowgirl boots to a boy who has probably only seen two pair of cowboy boots in his life, but I gave it my best shot.

“The stitching is brown, not pink.”

“Girl boots don’t look like snake skin.”

“They’re Durango brand, and I think they only make cowBOY boots.”

He finally capitulated a little, and decided he might wear them again. In fact, he pulled them on over his skull and crossbones footy pajamas (he found them at a thrift store… I wasn’t kidding about that flag!) and wore them to bed.

The next day, he wore the boots to school, and afterward reported that not a single person said anything about them. Success!! My son was free again to be the spirited young man he is, and hopefully he learned a little about persevering when the voices around him are not speaking the same language he hears in his head.

That night his feet hurt, so we’ve put the boots away for a little while. But I’m confident that they’ll be seen again soon.