Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Peek into My Day

At dinner, we debated who the real hero is in Frozen. After some banter back and forth, Steve presented an argument. Ella responded, "Point taken."

Currently, Nora is laying inside a giant box, with it closed, singing at the top of her lungs.

Steve and I had this conversation:
Me: I'm cold. The only time I was warm today was when I vacuumed.
Steve: So you're saying you should do housework when you're cold.
Me: No, I didn't say that.
Steve: I'm extrapolating from the data.
Me: Nah, it's anecdotal.

I discovered that when Steve talks to himself, he often speaks with a German accent.

I love my tribe of weirdos.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Thank you, Alexander Graham Bell

I hate phone calls from solicitors. They're slightly better than people who look like they're 12 knocking on my door and saying they just need to see a copy of my electric bill, because it's much easier to hang up than just shut the door in someone's face. But we seem to get a lot of them and I don't like it. Since today is election day, we've also had a ton of political calls lately. I should probably just stop answering the phone if I don't know the number, but I haven't. And so this morning happened.

At 7:45, the phone rang. People know not to call my house that early, except in case of emergency. Caller ID said "Not Available 191079." Obviously not an emergency. I answered and said hello several times before there was a click, a "good-bye," and another click ending the call. I wrote it off as a political call.

I drove the girls to school and then walked down to the park to vote with Nora. When we got back home, there was a missed call at 8:44 from "Not Available 19." I'm glad I missed it and I'm starting to get a bit annoyed.

At 9:18, the phone rings again. Caller ID this time is M followed by a dozen numbers. I answer it and suspiciously say, "Hello?" It's an Indian guy who calls me Mrs. Scott and introduces himself as Steve from the Microsoft technical support call center. I interrupted him and said emphatically, "NO, you're not. I know this is a scam and I want you to stop calling me." Guys, he didn't miss a beat. He ARGUED with me and insisted he was from Microsoft and my computer is a mess. So I argued back and told him my computer is fine (he interrupted, insisting it wasn't) and I told him if there was a problem, my IT guy husband would fix it. I hung up and left the room. HE IMMEDIATELY CALLED AGAIN. I ignored it.

At 11:36, my phone rang again. It's the school. Cue the panic. Is one of the girls sick? Had some sort of accident? I answer it and am greeted by an automated voice reminding me that the school has half-days and conferences this week. Immediate sigh of relief.

I'm done with the phone today. Text me or send me a Facebook message if you need me.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Space Between Fairy Tales and Sit Coms

I just saw an article (blog post may be more accurate) titled "I Never Thought My Marriage Would Look Like This." Curious, I read it. It talked about how marriage, especially with kids, is like a roller coaster. Okay, I can agree with that. But her friend told her she would hate her husband and she thought they would be different. By the end of the article, she said several times that she hated her husband. Nope, can't agree with that part.

Let me be clear. Steve is not perfect. Sometimes he frustrates me, annoys me, or exasperates me. I'm positive I do the same to him. Because no matter how well we fit together, we're still human. I get grumpy from lack of sleep and short from too much socializing. He forgets details and can take jokes too far. But the beauty of marriage is that where Steve doesn't see the details, I do. And when I get hung up on one small issue, he can see the big picture. When I get too serious, he can lighten the mood. When his jokes start to cross a line, I can reel him in. The areas where we don't see eye-to-eye, we're in balance. So we're not perfect. But we talk things through and we know each other well enough to give the other a little space when necessary (since we're both introverts, sometimes we need a little alone time to process things or recharge).

Steve finds me attractive, smart, funny. When I blurt something out, he either thinks it's funny or understands. With most other people, I just get a strange look. He makes me more confident in who I am. And because there isn't pressure to be anything I'm not, I want to be the best version of myself. And I just like him. I love when he geeks out about something and when he's silly with the girls and when he's generous to strangers. He's not perfect. But there's so much good and so much that I like, why would I focus on the few things that are imperfect? Especially if they're areas I can help? After all, he sees my flaws too. He just chooses to show me grace in those areas and focus on my better qualities.

It seems society focuses on this spot between either thinking marriage is a fairy tale with happily ever after or a sit com where the couple tolerates each other at best and the wife is a nag to the bumbling husband. It is true marriage has its ups and downs. There will be days that feel mundane and unexciting. There will be hard times. There will be blissful times where things are just good and then whirlwinds where so much is happening all at once. But I believe love and respect is the bedrock of marriage. Hate doesn't enter into it. We're a team and we're looking out for each other's best interests. This is the real, third option in between the fairy tale and the sit com: two imperfect people who communicate with love and work as a team, understanding there are ups and downs. No fairy tales. No sit coms. Just real life.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Things that make me sound ancient

I turned 30 in July. It's not that old. And most of the time, I don't feel old. And then I look around and realize how much things have changed since I was a kid.

- Our first computer not only did not connect to the internet, it didn't have Windows or a color monitor.
- When we finally got the internet, it used the phone line and made all kinds of screeches while connecting. If anyone needed the phone line, you had to get offline. And it was slooooooow. Oh, and we had ONE computer. For the entire family.
- The printer was a dot matrix and also very slow. You had to make sure the dots on the edge were lined up right or it would print crooked. And then you had to carefully tear off the dotted edge and tear the pages apart after it was done.
- Gas was something like $1 a gallon when I was in high school.
- When I learned about the planets, there were 9, not 8.
- I didn't have a cell phone until I was 20. It also had a black and white screen. I'm not sure it had texting capabilities, let alone internet access.
- That means we relied on landlines. I remember when we first got a cordless phone. The phone before that was in the kitchen and had a super long cord, because you were attached to the wall when you used it. But at least we had touch tone phones. Before that, there were rotary phones. My grandma had one and it took forever to dial anything. Also, we had one phone number for the family and people usually memorized the numbers they dialed most often. I barely know anyone's phone number anymore, but I can remember our phone number when I was little and my best friend's number.
- Our tv didn't have a remote, let alone the ability to pause. You had to get up and walk to the tv if you wanted to turn it on or off or change the channel or the volume. We didn't have cable and there was no streaming anything. If we wanted to watch a movie, we had to either buy it or rent it. And movies were on video cassettes, not discs. You had to rewind them. I also remember when we got our first VCR. Before that, we couldn't watch anything that wasn't on live tv.
- Rather than having entire networks of cartoons, they were on Saturday mornings. We got up early and watched cartoons for a few hours on Saturday morning before playing outside. Because that's the only time they were on.
- Music on CD didn't become popular until middle school. Again, we used cassette tapes before that. If we wanted to listen to a song, we had to fast forward to that part of the tape. And that was if we had it on tape. Otherwise, we had to wait for the DJ to play it on the radio. At my house, we also had the 8 track tapes and vinyl records that came before tapes.
- If we wanted to know how to get somewhere, we used a map or asked a person for directions. We couldn't look it up on Google maps or use a GPS or phone to direct us.
- Back to phones, we couldn't text. Email wasn't a primary mode of communication either. I got my first email address in 9th grade. Some people had fax machines, but not everyone. The most reliable way to communicate to someone far away was by letter. I remember stamps being like 23 cents. They're now 49 cents.
- If you called and someone wasn't home, you had to try again later. Eventually, we got an answer machine, which used a tape to record messages. And there was this thing called a busy signal. No call waiting. No leaving a voicemail. Oh, and no caller ID. Which meant you could make prank phone calls. But you had no way of knowing if someone called unless you had an answering machine and they left a message. And if you wanted to call someone but didn't have their phone number, you had to look it up in the phone book. That's the book that's left on our doorstep a few times a year and goes into the drawer until the updated one replaces it.
- Video cameras were giant bulky things that the entire video cassette went in. My family didn't have one. The videos were usually shaky and blurry and the audio wasn't very good.
- Then there were picture cameras. You looked through the viewfinder and clicked the button. You hoped that the picture was clear and used up the rest of the pictures on the roll before dropping it off to be developed. A few days later, you got back a packet of pictures and hoped they turned out.
- As for books, you could buy them at bookstores or borrow them from the library. To find out if the library had it, you had to use the card catalog to try to find it. If the library didn't have it, you were out of luck.
- Research was done at the library or using an encyclopedia. It generally required a lot of reading to find the information you were looking for.
- If you wanted to buy something, you drove from store to store until you found it.
- I also remember when we got our first microwave. Food was either cold or made on the stove or in the oven.
- I remember getting a Nintendo too. I didn't have much interest in it, but I remember Duck Hunt and having to blow in the cartridges to get them to work.
- Despite all of those things, we were more up to date than my grandparents. I remember a rotary phone, a black and white tv (and watching the Dick Van Dyke show), and a tv with knobs instead of buttons. And I don't remember them ever having a computer.

When I stop and think about it, things have changed so much in my lifetime. I can do more things on my phone than I could on the tv, computer, and stereo combined when I was little. While I was typing this, Steve was streaming music he just bought online onto the tv and used his phone to record the girls dancing and singing to it. And then he streamed that video to the tv. Anything we want, we can get almost immediately. A book? I could download it onto my phone and read it. A song? Same thing. If I want some odd item I can't find at the store, I can order it online and have it in 2 days. I can text my mom pictures or even videos of the girls. I'm not saying this is bad, although I don't think it's helped my impatience any. It's just a bit crazy how much things have changed. We had one computer when I was little. We eventually got a printer. We had a tv and VCR. And we had a cordless phone and one or two corded ones and an answering machine. At this moment, in my house, we have two smart phones, two cordless phones (with voicemail), two tvs, two Chromecasts, a VCR, a DVR, a blu-ray player, a Wii, an Xbox, a desktop computer, a laptop, a printer, two Kindles, two Kindle Fires, two stereos, a boombox, and I think Steve has his work laptop and tablet. We also have miscellaneous other electronics, like an MP3 player, two digital cameras, and Gameboy Advance. No wonder we have to limit screen time. It's all too easy to spend hours a day on one screen or another now. There was so little to do on a computer back in the late 80s/early 90s that it didn't hold my attention for long. And then I was off to read or play outside.

When I tell my kids stories about how different things were when I was their age, they're going to think I lived in the Dark Ages. Their eyes will get big and they'll think I'm making this up, until Steve confirms it. And then I can tell them about getting tangled in the phone cord and the embarrassing story of how I called my crush. I can tell them about mixed tapes and my Walkman. I can describe what the Internet and the busy signal sounded like, because they'll never hear the real thing. I can tell them about penpals and show them the cool way to fold notes. You know, the way we did before texting. Back in the Dark Ages.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Things to do and see in Michigan

Huffington Post recently published a list of one thing you MUST do in each state. Out of curiosity, I scrolled through to Michigan to see what made the list. Shinola, a watch and bicycle shop in Detroit. To be fair, the shop sounds cool. But if you come to Michigan and do ONE thing, that's it? Really?

So I scrolled through the rest of the list. In some states, it's driving down a picturesque road. For Arizona, it's spending a night in the Grand Canyon. For others, it was throwing horseshoes at a popcorn festival or seeing the butter cow. I haven't seen a single thing on the list in any of the states I've visited. And no matter how awesome the food, I don't think ice cream or a sandwich has ever topped the list of best memories of any trip.

Plenty of people have complaints about the Michigan. They complain about the weather, the roads, the economy, the crime (side note: the weather contributes to the roads and the economy contributes to the crime rate). Sometimes I wonder how people outside of Michigan see us. I'd imagine they think it's basically Detroit and Flint, with wilderness and snow elsewhere. And cars.

Personally, I like Michigan. I've never lived anywhere else and I'm good with that. I was born in Alma, spent my childhood in the UP, and have lived in small towns in the lower peninsula. Jackson is both the biggest city I've lived in and the farthest south I've ever lived. I'd be okay with it remaining that way, to be honest. I like having seasons and Michigan has beautiful seasons, more than the winter and construction most people talk about. Winter can feel long and we get a good amount of snow. It also gets cold. But it's winter. And the snow is actually really pretty, at least for the first two months. When spring comes, it's green and flowery and gorgeous. Everything is new. And we've got wildlife. Baby animals are adorable. When summer comes, it's warm and sunny and we can go to the beach. Michigan has tons of lakes and rivers and we have miles of beaches on the Great Lakes. Plus it doesn't get ridiculously hot here. It does get humid, in which case you find water to swim in. The thunderstorms can be awesome too. And then there's fall, my favorite season. There's a chill in the air, leaves start turning colors, and it's perfect for football and bonfires and visiting pumpkin patches. It gets windy too, and there's this eerie, melancholy feel to fall. Things come to an end and fall is a reminder of that. But things aren't dead. They simply go dormant for a while and start fresh in the spring. Plus fall is a countdown to Christmas and the first snow of the season. If seasons were a song, it'd be a lot more exciting with changes, right? Summer would be light and uptempo, fall would be a bit melancholy and crisp, winter would be muted and hinting of things to come, gradually coming to a joyous crescendo in spring. Seasons without weather changes would be a repetitive pop song - it might be appealing at first, but it would quickly become grating and dull.

And there are so many cool things to see in Michigan. There are the Great Lakes and all the things that go along with them - beaches, dunes, lighthouses, rock formations. There are other natural things, like Castle Rock, Tahquemenon Falls, and more. There are historical places - museums, forts, Mackinaw Island. Man-made things, like the Soo Locks and the Mackinac Bridge. There are thousands of things to see in Michigan, no matter what your interest. There's a shipwreck museum at Whitefish Point. There's an old state prison in Jackson you can tour if that's your thing (there are rumors that it's haunted, if you like that). There are festivals for everything from roses to cherries to cheeseburgers. If you're into architecture, visit Grand Rapids or Detroit. If you like cars, visit just about any place in Michigan - Detroit, Flint, even St. Ignace (there's a car show there). If you're interested in art, go to ArtPrize in Grand Rapids or visit the Heidelberg Project in Detroit. The cities here have a lot to offer, though personally I think you'd be missing out if you didn't venture outside them. There are so many interesting things about Michigan and I know I've missed a ton of them. Please comment and add anything I've missed. The point is, if the one thing you do in Michigan is visit a hipster watch/bicycle shop, you're missing out, no matter how neat it is.

Friday, February 14, 2014


As a parent, it's easy to feel like you're not getting it right, especially if your kids have been bickering a lot. And mine have been. But today was one of those days that makes you feel like you're getting something right.

While dropping Ella off at school this morning, she told me that every day before they split to go to their classrooms, she hugs Mia and says, "I love you and I'll see you after school." Mia told me Ella sometimes kisses her forehead too.

Later Nora needed my help peeling stickers off to stick them on a piece of construction paper. Then she brought me the paper and a crayon and asked me to write, "To Mommy" on it. I did and handed it back to her. She waited a split second, handed it back to me, and said, "Here you go. Happy Valentine's Day!"

It is a happy Valentine's Day. :) 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Review: Solving the Paleo Equation

I was recently able to receive an advance copy of Matt Stone's new book. The following is my review:

This book is a practical guide to customizing your lifestyle to optimize your health. It’s easy to read and contains a large amount of ideas that are easily applied to improve health. Each section explains why the conventional approach does not work and gives alternatives that do work. This is not your typical diet book and is meant for health nuts that are experiencing a decline in their health rather than improvement. It will give you a good set of guidelines to determine what works best for you and your health and states that small changes can have a huge payoff in the long run. Much of what is discussed is the opposite of what many health gurus and doctors say. The science is there, but in a way that is easy to understand and not overly technical. There’s a list of references at the back of the book for further research for those who are interested.

The section about electromagnetic fields seemed a bit out there. But as with the other areas discussed, any effort to reduce exposure could be valuable and would require only minor changes.

In my opinion, the biggest take away from this book is that health and fitness is highly individualized and as such, the best guru for you is your body. Learning to listen to it and reading its signs are hugely beneficial. I find it refreshing to read a book about health and fitness that is different from the pat answers everyone else gives. If you’ve ever wondered if there is a sane alternative to extreme exercise and diet methods, this book is for you.