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Tuesday
Jun272017

It's Like Parenting Your Parent

As I sat across the table listening to the hilarious details of a vacation gone awry, it dawned on me -- I could be telling the same story. If we were to travel to the Grand Canyon, I most definitely would be telling the same story. There would be just one difference; my story would feature a toddler instead of a senior citizen.

I don't know how it has passed by all these years without me noticing, but toddlers and senior citizens are essentially twinsies. Let me count the ways:

  1. Which is more likely to wander off and end up in a senseless conversation with a stranger? I ACTUALLY DON'T KNOW. Mila did it twice today. One of those times she wandered off while a senior citizen was telling me a story about ... uh ... something.
  2. Is it the very young or the very old that you have to remind constantly to focus? My money says they're both highly likely to run off to find their shoes and instead end up standing in the kitchen eating a banana.
  3. Three words: Elastic-waisted pants.
  4. If you lock a toddler and a senior citizen in a room together for a day, how many stories will be told? TRICK QUESTION. Two. Two stories will be told because they're both incredibly likely to pick one story and tell it over and over and over again.
  5. Ask a toddler to sing her favorite song. Now ask a senior citizen to sing her favorite song. Which one of them got more of the words correct?
  6. I'll just say this: Diapers.
  7. They all fall down. It's not fair how we all manage to grow out of that phase only to grow back into it.
  8. If you need help finding the remote, don't ask a toddler or a senior citizen. Odds are it's missing because one of them touched it and now doesn't remember touching it.
  9. STAY WAY FROM THE STAIRS, PLEASE.
  10. I've yet to meet a toddler or a senior citizen willing to admit they were wrong about something. Ever.
  11. But if you talk to either of them, you'll always be blown away by how wise they are.
  12. They're never too busy to stop and smell the roses.
  13. They both have to be told to quit dawdling in the middle of the street.
  14. Have I mentioned that both senior citizens and toddlers like to repeat the same stories over and over? Because Mila wants to tell you about her trip to the library. Again. And again.
  15. She's still talking about the library.
  16. She's going to be talking about the library until I'm a senior citizen.
  17. And maybe until she's a senior citizen.
  18. They're fantastic, even with all of their little oddities. It doesn't matter if we're talking about a toddler or a senior citizen, they're fantastic and unique and STILL TALKING ABOUT THE LIBRARY OMG.

 I could go on for a while, but I've got a story about a library I need to pay attention to.

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Monday
Jun262017

It's Me You're Talking About

I've stayed quiet about the ongoing debates regarding our health care system mostly because I see you. I see you over there talking about personal responsibility and that you're tired of freeloaders and all of it.

I see you ... and I wonder if you sit across from the table from me at dinners and gatherings and all of that and think about how much you wish I weren't there. I hear it in your words when you talk about obliterating Obamacare. I hear it when you say you're glad they're finally cutting Medicaid. If you had your way, I wouldn't exist. You think I'm worthless.

Maybe not now, but you thought I was worthless several times over the years. When I was laid off from a job I loved and collected unemployment, I was worthless. Got it. I was even more worthless all those years ago when I was a kid living in a trailer park eating the crap cheese you get when you get vouchers for such things and eating Kix cereal because that's all you could get with food stamps back then.

My parents were abusing the system. I know. How dare they take those food stamps and trade them for Kix cereal when they should have just gotten better jobs? If they couldn't afford to feed their kids, they had no business having kids. I've heard you say as much when you were talking about the woman you saw at the emergency room begging for free care and the man in front of you at the grocery store holding up the whole line as he tried to figure out which box of cereal to put back because he couldn't pay for all of the items he had picked out. Those adults are a burden and their kids just shouldn't exist.

I hear you.

I also hear you saying that I'm different because I pulled off the American dream and turned it all around. I paid for myself to go to college, I worked hard, and I dug up from the trenches until I landed a great job. That's different. Of course.

I've heard you, so listen to me for just a second - that "worked hard" and "dug up from the trenches" crap is exactly that. It's a load of crap.

I.

Was.

Lucky.

I was born with the aptitude to do those things, just like I was born with the aptitude to spend my life living off the system. The only difference between Path A and Path B is luck. I can pinpoint the exact days that I happened to be in the right place at the right time in order to be afforded the luck necessary to go on Path A. Life threw me a little luck and I didn't let it go.

Life doesn't throw luck towards everyone.

Which is where we go back to that part about my parents being freeloaders. I can pinpoint the exact day when they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and it all fell apart. My dad was enlisted in the Air Force. My mom worked at a carwash. Neither made great money, but they worked hard and got by. And then in a flash, there was a car accident. It doesn't matter whose fault the accident was because accidents are just that -- accidents. They are bits of luck and none of us have a choice in that moment.

Certainly nobody would choose to be in a car accident while pregnant.

My mom was pregnant with my younger brother at the time of the accident. It  resulted in him being born with a long list of physical and developmental disabilities. The good news is that since my dad was a member of the military, health insurance was guaranteed to us.

But there was the trap. My younger brother - before he was born - became a preexisting medical condition. Nobody who was in those cars that day chose the path, but a healthcare system that is designed to line the pockets of the very rich did exactly what it was designed to do after that. My dad couldn't leave the military without losing healthcare for all of us. He was stuck in a job.

Until he wasn't.

Long story short, a series of events - aka "luck" - landed him as a civilian working for the United States Air Force.

No health insurance.

Not making enough money to feed his family.

Freeloading off the system.

That's when I was the most worthless to you. I know.

By now I've paid back every little thing I received from government assistance probably a hundred times over. Good jobs come with a big chunk of taxes. And while I may be worthless, I will happily pay those taxes a thousand times over because no little girl should ever have to see your words on Facebook and be struck by how very much you hate people who happen to be poor.

Sunday
Jun252017

Strawberry Mandarin Salad

I ended up in a conversation about the best uses for strawberries with Alexis this weekend. We absolutely agreed that Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes are the number one way to use strawberries. That's as far as our agreeing went, though. We might have made it further, but the kid went and threw me for a loop with SALAD.

Alexis was all, "SAAAAALAD, MOM. THAT'S THE SECOND BEST USE."

She wasn't entirely wrong. This salad is REALLY good.

I've posted this before but it's worthy of a repost. The recipe came from our neighbor Cindy and she's worthy of all of the things because she rules. Just like her salad.

It's pretty simple. You start with a bag of spinach (or Romaine or spring mix, if you are -meh- about bitter leafy stuff like I am).

Then you throw some mandarin oranges, sliced strawberries, chopped red onions, chopped pecans, and craisins on top. Toss things up and top with dressing.

Marzetti Poppyseed dressing. It's the correct choice for this.

Annnnd ... happy.

Cindy's More Than a Salad

1--10 oz bag of spring mix or whatever leafy stuff you want
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
1/4 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup craisins
Marzetti Poppyseed Dressing

1. Find a big bowl.

2. Throw the lettuce in it.

3. Throw the oranges, strawberries, red onion, pecans, and craisins in with the lettuce. Toss that salad.

4. Resist the urge to make the sort of joke a 16-year old boy would make.

5. Dress the salad however you want.

6. Enjoy!