Why did the rabbit cross the road?

This is a post written a long time ago. OK, only seven years, but it feels like a lifetime ago that my kids were watching these types of cartoons. My now-almost-3rd grader was just a baby!

I’m re-posting because I’m reminding myself that before I wrote for a living I used to write for fun – and could be funny too. This is the second of a bunch of posts I plan to reincarnate over the next few weeks.  

[Originally posted 8/28/08] 

Why did the rabbit cross the road?

Because he’s afraid of a squirrel.

Huh?

Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Can someone please tell me why a rabbit, one that wears clothes, goes to school, and watches TV would be afraid of the squirrels in the back yard, and furthermore, why aren’t these squirrels also wearing clothes and conversing at the library about their homework with their fellow rodents? What kind of hierarchy is this where not all rodents are created equal?

I’m talking about the PBS show ‘Arthur’. In this cartoon world it appears some animals have evolved beyond others, even those who in the real world, are of a similar species. But what’s even more confusing is the episode where Arthur the aardvark – yes, an aardvark – who wants a pet takes a dog-walking job to prove he’s up to the responsibility of dog-ownership. Now consider that one of Arthur’s gang is also a dog. If you use this reasoning, in Arthur’s world, a human might be seen walking another human on a leash and scooping up its poop in a plastic bag.

I read a book to my daughter the other night where a pig, a sheep, and a cow, all wrapped up in their best winter coats, enjoyed a sled ride driven by… a horse! A human harnessed to the sled might be more logical, but a horse? What audacity! The horse is one of the noblest creatures in this creation and some author has deemed it appropriate to demote him as a servant to a pig.

Now, I could draw a political comparison between these disparities in the cartoon-animal world with that of the poor vs. rich or developed vs. third world. But I won’t. I’ll just continue to be amused and bemused by the rat, rabbit, monkey, aardvark, and cat living and learning in harmony while their squirrel and bird cousins peer wistfully in their windows, cartoon tears in their little cartoon eyes, wondering when it will be their turn.

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We plan. Life laughs.

Well, here we are. Five days into 2011 and I am finally getting to my computer. I had big plans. My goals for work, school, housework, and this blog were all spelled out in my January 1 journal entry. I had my running shoes on and I was just waiting for the starting gun, i.e. the roar of the school bus as it carried my eldest child away for 6 beautiful, peaceful hours. But first I had to pull myself out of bed, clothe and feed two bouncy children and get them out the door to drop the youngest off at pre-school. And that’s when my best-laid plans withered like the poor plants on my window sill.

Puffy-eyed, make-up challenged, and with my mop of hair mashed under my winter hat I said good morning to the too-awake teacher. As I hugged my son goodbye I heard her say, “Did you know you were scheduled to be parent helper this week?” I looked up to see which unprepared mother she was addressing and realized with horror it was me. “And you’re responsible for snack too.”

If I were in a cartoon I would have shook my head to clear my ears because surely I had not heard this correctly. I wasn’t scheduled again until spring. “No, Mrs. Young, it’s right here on the calendar that we gave you at the beginning of the semester. Young. See?”

So, after rushing off to get my eldest to school and then back home to raid the cupboard for a toddler-approved snack (for 15), gulp some coffee, and attempt to do something with my hair, I returned to pre-school, tail between legs, to observe dinosaur vs. race car war games, baby dress-up, circle time, and the nightmare of 15 four-year olds attempting to self-attire in snow-suit, coat, hat, glove and boots. Trying to find the positive in my sabotaged morning, all I came up with was, “One down, only two more mornings to go.”

Then I got sick. It felt like someone was smashing the back of my eyeball with a rock. I woke coughing in the night and my sinuses were goose-stepping behind my face. Then the kids got sick. Croupy coughs echoed around the house. I was going to have to call pre-school and tell them I couldn’t help. I felt guilty. But on a positive note it would be a nice, quiet day reading in bed while the kids lounged around recuperating.

Ha!

While I attempted to breathe through my nose they threw off their croup and began bouncing on the sofa, calling for drinks and snacks, pummeling each other, and asking why we can’t go out for lunch. After I croaked my way through two story books, I decided it was movie time. So, here I am. Finally in bed and all is quiet.

I had planned that my first post of the year would one of new positive thoughts for a new year – a fresh start. But life has a way of letting us know we have to roll with whatever is sent our way, be it involuntary volunteering, the croup, or a blizzard on your wedding day. I am searching for the positive in this delayed start to my new work/writing year… and it is that I got to read to my kids by the fire and I have the chance to write about my silly “misfortunes” while in my jammies and eating Christmas chocolate. The early evening sun is pouring through my window onto my bed. I would have been battling my way through the grocery store aisles on my “planned” day. I have to learn to slow down and take each moment as a blessing. It may not be the moment I had planned for but it is still a moment I have been given to be made the best of and thankful for.

Prompt: The positive in my latest “negative” is…

____

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A reminder just in time for summer vacation

Note: This is a recycled post, the second in a series while I take a journal-blogging break. I hope you enjoy the off-topic jaunt.

Silly Mommy, trips are for kids!

May 10, 2009

Funny how memory works. We swear we will never take both kids to the grocery store right after school, then we do again… and again. Flying with the children is an absolute No-No until they have full responsibility over their own bodily functions and can run the length of Detroit’s Terminal C on their own two legs. But then we book that flight. Road trips and hotels were off the list too, but…

We packed the car and headed for a lovely weekend in Maine. But after we had stopped for the 6th bathroom/poopy diaper break in two hours and the Laughing Game ensued (which would be more aptly called the “Let’s See How Many Times We Can Say The Word Poop and Scream With Laughter Game”), I began to realize our mistake. This was no vacation, this was the trip to hell.

What I learned this weekend:

a) You don’t need to buy a jungle gym or trampoline when you can just book a hotel room.
b) The number of times a child can ask if she can go swimming increases in direct relation to the lateness of the hour.
c) If there is an alarm clock in your hotel room, it is best to unplug it before bed because it has undoubtedly been messed with by little hands and set to blast you awake at 12:00AM. In the ensuing hitting of said clock you will inadvertently turn the radio on, set to the loudest, heaviest metal available to the listening public.
d) Once you have just drifted off to sleep again, your child will awake just enough to discover “Pappi-dog” has wandered off and alert you at the top of his lungs of this emergency.
e) The air-conditioner will whir loudly back to life the moment you have entered dream-land again.
f) The fact that hotel bed bouncing did not end until after 10PM, 5:30AM is a perfectly acceptable time of day to wake your mother by placing your mouth directly by her ear and announcing you’re bored and need to go swimming NOW!
g) No matter how many outfits you pack, they will all get wet, sandy and/or ketchup-stained and you will have to buy something extra.
h) On the journey home you will be so exhausted you won’t realize you drove north instead of south until you are arriving in downtown Portland.
i) There is not enough Dunkin’ Donuts iced-coffee in the world to make the drive home (which is now an hour longer) go by fast enough.
j) Home and your own bed are the best places on earth.
k) Happy, sand-encrusted, swimmed-out kids make it all worthwhile… maybe.


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Recycling my babble for Earth Day

In honor of Earth Day I am going to do some recycling. Not my #2 plastics – I do that everyday (unless there’s too much gooey peanut butter stuck and then the jar sits on my counter “soaking” for a few weeks until I get sick of it and just chuck it. So sue me.) –  no, I’m going to recycle some blog posts.

While going through my almost two-year old blog to attach links to my new Amazon Bookstore (which you should check out, not just because it’s purple and pink and pretty, but because I have recommended some damn good books) I discovered some yummy stuff. Not to brag, but there are some treats buried in this ‘ere blog. For example, have you read of my soap-opera-worthy The Tale of Two Couples (parts 1 – 7) or Can’t I poop in peace? ?

Before I got all focused on this blog, I was more of a random mommy-whiner-writer blogger and some of my posts were actually almost funny. I kind of miss that; I miss the scatterbrain approach to blogging. But I am trying to earn a living here now, so no more funny business.

But I am still a mom, I have another life, and I don’t just sit around reading and writing about journaling all the time. So, just like the Austrians who hang their duvets out the window to freshen up, for the next little while I will be digging out some of the old stuff for an airing (that and I’m bit tired from all the deadlines I had this month – all of which I met, thank you).

Conversations in the grocery aisle

August 10, 2009

As I am trying to find the toothbrush for which I have a coupon while trying to think over, Mama, Mama, I want the Dora toothpaste! Mama, I want this one. Oooo, watermelon, I don’t have watermelon toothpaste. Mama, I need this… what is it?, an old lady approaches me. I think she’s going to comment on how cute my kids are or congratulate me on my ability to grab falling tubes while simultaneously remove brightly colored, cartooned products from my children’s itchy fingers. Instead she asks me if I know where to find the baby wipes. I tell her the next aisle over. She then proceeds to tell me why she is looking for baby wipes. No, not grandbabies coming to visit. No, not a baby shower. She likes to use them herself, she has Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you know.

Thanks for sharing.

A few aisles on, I run into an acquaintance, an older man I knew from my former job. We say hello and howdy-do and he asks me what I’m doing. I point to my cart crammed with two impatient children and far too much food and reply, Doing the mom thing.

He smiles indulgently and says, I meant, what are you doing with your time?

Oh, yea, nothing, nothing at all. Now, where are those bon-bons?


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P.S. Please visit my Examiner.com page for articles on Journaling for Kids, Organization, and almost everything in between.

Quoting Natalie: Getting close to our genuine self

Writing is about getting close to our genuine self and the authentic way we see.

– Natalie Goldberg, Thunder and Lightning

When I a junior in high school my journal was a chunky spiral-bound notebook with ‘1988’ written in big black bubble letters on the cover. I don’t recall much of what I wrote but I know that if I pulled it out of my parent’s attic today I would be so embarrassed by how soooo in love I was, and how totally awesome or completely unfair everything was. One thing I remember clearly though is the words I wrote to myself on the inside cover:

BE TRUE TO YOURSELF

16 years old  and very aware that I was too easily influenced, too gullible, too eager to please, and so afraid to have an opinion that might set me apart or disqualified for not being cool enough. I don’t believe I was conscious of what being True looked like, sounded like, or acted like, but my journal did. My words may not have openly reflected this authenticity for which I was searching (wouldn’t be nice to have a manual to ourselves?) but I do know this: it worked.

I’m not saying I was no longer a shallow, self-absorbed teenager, but I do know that I made through those difficult years without completely compromising my values or my style.

While my classmates were sporting their uniform of rolled Guess jeans and oversized sweatshirts, I refused to wear jeans (except on Fridays). Instead, I wore perfectly matched outfits complete with vintage jacket and a brooch at my throat (OK, so I was a bit of a prude) or long “hippie” skirts and shirts belted low on my waist. While the other girls were hanging for dear life onto their shiny, plunging necklines, I floated through my choir solo and proms in beautifully home-sewn high-necked Victorian-styled dresses (thanks, Mum!). I was the first in the entire school to grow out my bangs (even though I could then be, technically, called a “slap-head”) because the look better suited my face than the monstrous hair-dos of the 80s. I hung out in the choir room. I was in drama club. I didn’t drink, go to parties, or wear a class ring. I was proud to be different.

(I do have to admit here that a lot of my “individuality” came from the inability/refusal of my parents to buy me Guess jeans or a class ring, along with the restrictions of the religious home I was raised in. However, I firmly believe that these “difficulties” were made easier to bear and adapt to because I wrote a journal. I was more self-aware and therefore confident enough to pull off the not-fitting in as not giving a damn, er, I mean, darn!)

Back then I had no idea that my journal was helping to form the woman I was meant to be. All the whining and complaining on those pages was my escape from the stress and unknowns of everyday – little did I know it would be my life line. While I could say exactly what I wanted in the journal I was unknowingly shaping the opinions that would suddenly fly out of my mouth in later years, surprising both me and my family.

I was also laying down a path to my future which was 20 years in the making. How could I have ever known that through my hopeless romantic teenage and 20-something musings I was actually creating the life I saw for myself as an writer/artist/”something out of the ordinary”? Scribbling away in my tiny bedroom imagining my life as a driven artiste brought me to the place I am now – a driven artiste and business woman.

At 16 I didn’t know who or what I was exactly but the whisperings were there. The inspiration to write those words “Be True to Yourself” – despite the fact that at the time I admonished myself for not following my own advice – was actually my Genuine Self tapping me on the shoulder.  It wanted me to listen carefully to what my Subconscious had to say. And I even though I didn’t know it, I was listening, and I started very slowly to look, speak, and act like myself.

Prompt: Dear Genuine Self, am I Authentic and True to you?

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Gratitude, even while leaning over the bowl

I believe in gratitude. I try to be thankful for everything, to find something to be thankful for even in the midst of a blitz of ugh. I won’t deny this is very hard for me. I love to complain. Love it! Too cold, too humid, too hungry, too tired, too poor, too, too, too. But I am practicing gratitude and practicing finding the positive. I’ll get good at it yet!

Being thankful for what you have now instead of being focused on what you haven’t got is a very healthy mindset. Being grateful for everyday’s little blessings does not mean you can’t dream of bigger and better, it just means being content in this moment, now. After all, our life is ultimately made up of minutes. What you do, think, and say during the minutes is your life. Constantly wishing for something else makes a mockery of what you have now. Thankfulness for what you have now opens the door for more to be thankful for in the future. Contentment in the moment brings happiness in the long run.

The last two days has found me holding one or other of my children while their poor little bodies convulsed to void themselves of illness. This has meant two days when I couldn’t be at my computer rambling away as usual. I had to pull my mommy-nurse hat firmly down over my ears and set to comforting my weakened children. I tried not to think about the two looming article deadlines or the last minute marketing I could/should be doing for a workshop starting this week. I tried to immerse myself in housework that I never have (never allow myself) time to take care of. I tried to live in the moment even while mopping vomit off Little Lady’s chin.

It was hard. My work kept sneaking up and taunting me. And I had moments of frustration when I tried to sit at my computer while Elmo occupied my offspring in the other room, only to be called upon for more water or a tissue.

But then I realized something. I am so blessed! I can be home with my children. I am not letting anyone down at the office or using sick days that I might need for myself at a later date. I am not shorting us a paycheck and I am not subjecting anyone else to my children’s germs. How wonderful that I can be here to hold a coughing child and bring him hot milk.

I am so grateful that Hubby and I made the decision to stick to our guns and pursue what matters to us. It was incredibly important to me to be here to see our children off to school in the morning, to be here when they come home in the afternoon, and to eat dinner together at night. Yes, my dream to write and teach writing was an extremely high priority also, but the fact that these priorities merge almost seamlessly is an amazing blessing.

I acknowledge – and do not in anyway demean – that others would not choose the same route as me. Their dream, their priorities, lie on a different path. I do not for one moment intend to imply that those mothers (or fathers) who have chosen, or have no choice but to work outside of the home, care one inkling less for their children. My point is this, and only this: Be thankful for your every moment, even when you spend a morning washing sick-bed sheets when you would much rather be wringing out words and phrases. Being thankful can change your attitude from frustrated to fulfilled.

Prompt: Even if you are not particularly content in your current situation, what ARE you thankful for?

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Just asking


Why is it…

1. After you spend 20 minutes stuffing your children into their five layers of winter clothing, hats, mittens, and boots, they stay outside for exactly 2.2 minutes? And then after peeling them back out of it all, leaving a puddle of melted snow and ice on the rug (in which you step in your socked feet), they ask to go back out?

2. Your husband unexpectedly brings home a cheesy, gooey, yummy, pepperoni-free (miracles can happen) pizza half an hour before you leave for a Christmas party that includes food for which you have already (over)paid?

3. Daughter could be playing with anything, let’s say something as uninteresting as the can opener, and Son will scream that it is his, so you try to distract him with, say, a wooden spoon; dropping the can opener, Daughter will yell that no, the spoon is hers, making Son once again focus on the spoon; so, you give them both wooden spoons, which they immediately crack over each other’s head?

4. A Christmas ornament that somehow did not make it into the storage box last January 6th and has been hanging around all year, its location known even through a move, is no where to be found when you put up the tree? And with 100% certainty you know it will magically reappear once the Christmas box is back in storage, thus starting the process all over again?

5. In the same mail as you receive a surprise Christmas check from your grandmother, you get a surprise bill for the exact same amount?

6. Son’s colon decides to empty itself in the most pungent, leak-potential way after you have just wrestled him into a clean diaper, clothes, snowpants, jacket, and boots, and you are already running 10-minutes late?

7. Children sleep like the dead through 1/2 hour of an eee-eee-eeeing alarm clock on school mornings but are awake and bouncing at 6AM on the weekend?

8. Children begin the I-really-need-a-nap-whine three hours earlier than usual on the very morning you were psyched up to go Christmas shopping, leaving you adrift and in denial that you could use the time to finish cleaning the kitchen (and so you write a pointless blog instead)?

Just asking…