Our First Date….A Hot Springs History Lesson

alex and me (2)Alex and I met in 1991 or 92.  I’d just started The Springs Magazine and he was a hot shot young chef in Hot Springs. I turned him down a couple of times cause he was a player then finally relented.

Back then Alex was a stud, lean (he’d been a swimmer at Michigan State) long curly black hair and lots of black chest hair. He was swarthy and smooth.

I relented and said yes to date.  I remember I was wearing a short black gauzy dress, it was mid-summer and so hot.  We went to Brewskies on Ouachita Avenue first. Mike Stanley was playing with Danny Smith and I realized Hot Springs had amazing blues.

Then we drove in separate cars to the restaurant cause I was being cautious.We met at The Majestic, an old restaurant, not really cool, but he was a chef and seemed to know what he was doing. We sat in the first booth, closest to the door, under the thick floral curtains.

majesticI thought it was incredibly cool when Alex left me and walked right into the kitchen to talk to his friend Butch, who was running things that night.

He ordered some kind of smoked trout dip as an appetizer. I don’t remember the rest of the meal. but our waitress knew Alex and was obviously flirting. He was really handsome.

After dinner we walked out and he stood in front of me looking so hot. I thought he was going to kiss me. Instead he reached into his jacket pocket and handed me something wrapped in a napkin.

It was a quartz crystal, three points and incredibly clear.

He said, “I collect them. I found that one in Mt. Ida.”

Oooookay.

Then I waited, smiling, thinking he would lean in and kiss me.

But he didn’t. Instead he walked around and opened the door of my Toyota. I climbed in, waited, then drove away thinking. ‘Either he doesn’t dig me or he’s a total weirdo.”

Twenty something years latter we’re sitting here watching The Big Bang Theory waiting to pick up child number four from Taekwondo. We’re good.

So next time you drive past the burned out remains of the Majestic Hotel remember some great romances were born there with reasonable women and handsome weirdos.

 

 

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Boys Being Boys…Let Them

black eyeI recently read a blog entitled “Why Our Sons Wear Pink”.  A mom explained why she encourages her sons to be sensitive and gentle. She thinks people like boys who are rough and jock like.  But I think things are going in the opposite direction.

A lot of folks get mad because little boys act like little boys. They are too rough, too tough and too violent. And it’s not politically correct.

But boys are boys and girls are girls. (That’s coming from a woman who’s a terrible example of a girl. I box, love MMA, can’t wear heels and never really liked dolls) We don’t get mad at little girls for being too “girly” . We don’t get mad at girls for wearing pink and taking care of their baby dolls. We don’t fuss at them for being  too nurturing.

But boys take a beating for being too aggressive and too violent, for pretending to shoot things and beat up dudes. I love it when my youngest son plays in his room, when he draws and listens to music. But I try to be patient when he’s a screaming, hollering crazy guy running around in the yard with his bb gun and jumping off the playhouse onto the trampoline with a  sword. When he and his friends literally pick each other up and smash each other on the ground…most of the time it’s ok. That’s what boys do.

Sandor and his friends come home laughing about the terrible things they do to each other. That doesn’t happen much in girl world.

I’m the first parent to jump into a hot messy situation about a kid that’s a bully or too aggressive. When that happens I start calling parents and principals. I call kids out that I don’t even know cause I hate punks.

Boys and men were  made to be hunters and protectors. Girls were designed to take care of their young. Sometimes the boys have to take care of the babies and the girls have to go hunt down dinner, so a person who can do both is invaluable. But for the most part that’s how humans were designed. Seahorses and birds are different but we are humans.

I agree we have to encourage our boys to be sensitive and compassionate. We must teach them to respect everybody, not just the alpha males.  Parents  need to encourage boys to appreciate the arts, music and literature. But as a society we need to stop blasting our boys for being boys.

When my oldest child, Jack, was born I was a very tan hippie chick who hated guns.  I wouldn’t let Jack play with guns…ever.  So ,the boy turned everything, from Legos to bannanas, into a gun. My daughter, Mary, who is 16 months younger had absolutely no use or interest in guns.

The truth is boys work out problems differently than girls and sometimes that involves pushing and shoving. Being aggressive isn’t mandatory for boys but for most, it’s part of their DNA

Parents, this is on you, insist and encourage your boys to be respectful and kind but don’t beat them up if they want to sword fight, wrestle, and hunt down bad guys. Let those boys be boys.

Side note: If you’re child is mean or a bully, make him stop and don’t make excuses. Don’t use the line “he’s just being a boy” if he’s actually an obnoxious punk.

 

 

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Taking Care of Your Wife

wifeAlex and I are in an interesting place right now. He’s not working, at all. And I am For a multitude of reasons we decided for now and maybe forever he didn’t need to work and instead would stay home.

Everything has been lovely. He’s not nearly as stressed or exhausted, the house is in much better shape because he’s always been a better cleaner than me.  And on most evenings when I get home there’s a wonderful dinner waiting.  Having a chef at home has it’s rewards.

But I’ve had to fuss at myself several times because I do something he’s done in the past.  For years, I stayed home with the children. He’d come home from work after eight or ten hours and I was ready to talk.  I wanted him to pay attention to the things I’d accomplished while he was gone.

All the laundry was done, the kitchen was mopped, I painted the bathroom.  If Alex was dismissive or uninterested in my accomplishment I remember feeling really hurt and pouty. I felt that he thought my work was unimportant to the family and menial.

So, I’m trying not to be that kind of working jerk. I’m not going to let mys3elf walk in the house, say hello than sink into the couch to watch the news. I’m going to focus on him for a few minutes because he’s focused on us all day.  The truth is, I’m really really happy the house is so much cleaner and he’s finishing all kinds of projects.  I’m so happy I’m not the only one who has to deliver the missing notebook or trumpet to the school in the middle of the work day when a child forgets something.

So, husbands and wives out there. If you have someone at home taking care of business walk around and admire all the stuff they are accomplishing. Say thank you, repeatedly. You need clean clothes, you want dinner. You hate it when the kitchen floor is sticky.  And what does it cost you? Conversely, if you have a spouse who works  while you stay at home say Thank you so much!” Cause you get to sleep in a little if you want, cause you can sit down and watch 15 minutes of Grease in the middle of the day, because they are trying to take care of your family.  Finally, neither on of you needs to act like the martyr and sigh all the time, cause you’ve got it so rough. There are perks to both sides of this coin.

Just remember to take care of each other.

 

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Your Girl is Gonna Have Issues


 

daughterI’m not going to make up some lame lie as to why I’m writing this. Either he’ll get it or not.

There is a man who is fifty years old: he is a single father bravely raising a beautiful twelve year old daughter all on his own. His eighty five year old mother lives with them too and she  helps out a lot.

Here’s the problem. This dad, I’ll call him Gary, does a great job selling cars. He makes good good money in the little town he lives in. People love him at work, then he gets home, he drinks and then all he does it make fun of his daughter, he’s a jackass, a smart ass who mocks and teases and makes fun of his own beautiful daughter. He says she’s dumb, fat (she’s very thin) she’s slow, she’s selfish. He makes fun of her and pokes and criticizes until she cries. Every night ends in tears. Nothing the girl, I’ll call her Sara, is good enough.ry is breaking the girls heart and the grandmother’s too.

Here’s the weird part. When you talk to Gary all he does is brag about his daughter, constantly. It’s incredibly annoying. And this is coming from a woman who brags about her kids a lot.

I think Gary believes his being funny, I think Gary assumes he’s funny and that his daughter is being too sensitive.  Gary is wrong. Like lots of fathers.

Here’s the deal. Dads, you have one chance with your daughters.  You gotta love them and support them.  The first thing you say in the morning should be sweet, the first thing you say when they come home from school and the last thing you say at night has to be sweet and loving. Otherwise your daughter is gonna have big ass issues.

If you don’t adore her and say sweet things and support her here’s what will happen. She’s gonna get boyfriends way too early cause she needs male approval. She’s gonna have way too much sex way too early cause she wants a man to love her and she wants to punish you. She’s gonna hate men but still chase after them because you never really acted like you loved her.

So, dumb ass dad, get your act together and love your daughter, adore her, hug her and tell her you are proud. Along the way there will be plenty of time to correct her, to tell her purple hair isn’t a great idea, to tell her she can make better grades, to tell her she can do better.  But if you love that girl your words will be heard differently, they will be coming from a place of love. And they will make a difference.

She needs you to be sweet and loving. The world is harsh and ugly and unfair. You have to be her safe place so get your freaking act together.

 

 

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My Little Black Book

nashvilleI have a little notebook in my car and sometimes, when I’m especially worried about an issue I write a prayer to God everyday, just something short, two or three sentences.  Earlier this Fall, I needed something for one of my children. So for five or seven days in a row I wrote out my request. I didn’t realize how my prayer had been answered, little by little, over the course of a month and a half, until yesterday when I was reading my notebook.  God one hundred percent answered my prary. So now I’m writing thank you notes to Him.

I like my little notebook because it forces me to recognize and acknowledge when prayers are answered. And then give the right Man credit.

When my dad was in WWII he was shot down over the North Sea. for four days he and crew members floated in a dingy until picked up by a Dutch fisherman.  Once on board he wrote a letter to my grandmother, Mooie.  He said, “I’ll find a way to study architecture while I’m in prison camp so don’t you worry. Just keep the faith.”

Why in a billion years would he think he could study architecture in prison camp? That’s an absurd and delusional idea. But, as it turned out, he spent the bulk of his time in the POW camp, with a Polish Architect who taught him everything he knew.

When I first started in sales I would decided what my sales goal would be each month and then I would write that number, over and over and over. During every sales meeting my boss would look at me, scribbling away, filling up the margins of all my legal pads with 25,000, 25,000, 25,000. I wrote that number hundreds of times and I made it. The next month I wrote 28,000, 28,000, 28,000. Again I made it. this went on and on. My boss was stunned because it was 2008 and the economy had just tanked in a stupendous fashion.  Nobody was making budget. But I kept writing and making budget.

When I was a little girl my dad always told me we could “brain wash our brains.” And a phrase he made me repeat over and over was, “when you imagination accepts it as reality it will become true.”  He also cautioned me not to take this power lightly and do the hard work to make that reality happen. So I didn’t try to conjure up a hippopotamus.  Dad told me I had to guard and respect the power and to share it.

Have faith in the power of your mind. It’s amazing. Do the hard work; its necessary. Give as much as you can, it will all come back to you. And tell God thanks.

 

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When You Need Some Help

sandor birthdayI have a little notebook in my car and sometimes, when I’m especially worried about an issue I write a prayer to God everyday, just something short, two or three sentences.  Earlier this Fall, I needed something for one of my children. So for five or seven days in a row I wrote out my request. I didn’t realize how my prayer had been answered, little by little, over the course of a month and a half, until yesterday when I was reading my notebook.  God one hundred percent answered my prary. So now I’m writing thank you notes to Him.

I like my little notebook because it forces me to recognize and acknowledge when prayers are answered. And then give the right Man credit.

When my dad was in WWII he was shot down over the North Sea. for four days he and crew members floated in a dingy until picked up by a Dutch fisherman.  Once on board he wrote a letter to my grandmother, Mooie.  He said, “I’ll find a way to study architecture while I’m in prison camp so don’t you worry. Just keep the faith.”

Why in a billion years would he think he could study architecture in prison camp? That’s an absurd and delusional idea. But, as it turned out, he spent the bulk of his time in the POW camp, with a polish Architect who taught him everything he knew.

When I first started in sales I would decided what my sales goal would be each month and then I would write that number, over and over and over. During every sales meeting my boss would look at me, scribbling away, filling up the margins of all my legal pads with 25,000, 25,000, 25,000. I wrote that number hundreds of times and I made it. The next month I wrote 28,000, 28,000, 28,000. Again I made it. this went on and on. My boss was stunned because it was 2008 and the economy had just tanked in a stupendous fashion.  Nobody was making budget. But I kept writing and making budget.

When I was a little girl my dad always told me we could “brain wash our brains.” And a phrase he made me repeat over and over was, “when you imagination accepts it as reality it will become true.”  He also cautioned me not to take this power lightly and do the hard work to make that reality happen. So I didn’t try to conjure up a hippopotamus.  Dad told me I had to guard and respect the power and to share it.

Have faith in the power of your mind. It’s amazing. Do the hard work; its necessary. Give as much as you can, it will all come back to you. And tell God thanks.

 

 

 

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I Am An Enabler When It Comes to My Kids

enablerAfter giving two out of four of my children money last week a friend jokingly (I think) called me an “enabler.”  Driving home I thought about that and then realized she was right.

I am an enabler and will continue to send cash when needed… as long as my kids are moving forward on the right track. Here’s the tricky part. As a parent we have to decide if we think our children are “on the right track” and if “enabling their behavior is what we really want to do.  At nineteen Lex isn’t self sufficient but she’s doing everything right and she’s moving down the tracks toward her life.  She’s go a full ride to college and hasn’t lost it, she works fifteen hours a week at for a non profit. She wanted to get a second job but I said “don’t’ do that please focus on grades and finals”.   She needed money for food and gas. I think, if she wanted money for new speakers in her car and another tattoo I would have said no and laughed at her.

Mary and her boyfriend Andy are doing really well in their new city of Indianapolis but her just barely making enough money right now. That will change but for now things are tight. We all desperately want Mary home for Thanksgiving. Mary want’s to come home for Thanks giving, so I’m helping a little.

I remember when I was sixteen and needed money to upgrade my dark room equipment.  I didn’t want to ask my parents for the cash, even though I was actually making money taking pictures. A couple of weeks before my brother Jack died at the age of 22 or 23 he sat down on the edge of my twin bed with a can of Bush beer in his hand and said, “Ask Mom, that’s what parents are for, they live for shit like this.  It’ll make her happy.”

I did not know exactly what my big brother was talking about that night but I took his advice. And he was absolutely right. I never had the chance to talk to my brother Jack again about his advice. But I’ve thought about it every time I needed to “enable” one of my kids, or one of their friends.

I can’t tell you how happy Alex is when he needs to buy tires for your car. It’s his way of saying he loves you. Sometimes he even buys them for one of your Hampoland friend’s cars and that’s a good thing too.  I promise this is true.

Sometime in the near future you will all be grown, self sufficient and our help won’t be necessary.  Jack doesn’t need us financially at all anymore. And it actually makes us a little sad.

But until that day arrives, Alex and I are here for you always, as long as you’re moving in the right direction. And my brother  Jack was right, nothing makes us happier. So thank you for asking.

 

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I Lost My Friend….To Gossip

graveyardLosing a friend, when you are an adult, is terrible, seriously something horrible, especially if you are a woman.  When you are a kid you have a gang, so losing one …plus or minus…is bad but it’s ok.

I lost a very dear and cherished friend about a year ago and I still ache. I have a million “friends” but very few (maybe two) friends I let into the inner circle of my family, that I trust with secrets and worries and concerns. And I only had one that I trusted with the truth about my life and my children and my family. Just one. Some people are blessed with a gaggle.

So, I found out one day because a loud mouth  twenty something chef said something like, “oh, your best friend said your daughter is a habitual liar, charming, but can’t be trusted.” When I asked my dear and beautiful friend she said yes, it was true.  Late at night, at a party and lots of beers she had made that kind of statement.

At first, I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t have anyone to talk to because she was gone.  I knew I could no longer trust her with my worries and concerns.  I knew I loved her so much I would always tell her the truth and share my life with her. So I had to “divorce” a friend I loved and needed so much.  It’s a friendly divorce, because I still lover her desperately and wish her well. But I can never trust again.

My husband is a dude. When he heard the story he was quick to say, “cut her off,” but he doesn’t seem to need friends.  Family is all he needs.  I needed her.

To this day I still don’t have any one like her. I don’t have a dear dear friend that I can trust one hundred percent.There is a gaping hole in my life and heart.She is lucky and lovely and has moved on and has lots of friends and pals and support.  We are different animals.

So, bottom line. If you have a friend, don’t take that for granted, especially if you are an adult. Cherish and protect that friendship.  Some of us are lucky and have a whole gang of grown up pals, some of us only have a select and coveted few.

Always take care.

 

 

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The First Baby Rules and Smoking Crack

chiro-care-on-babies-las-vegas-main20150921Last night a friend called Sandor and asked him to spend the night. I said something like, “yes, after you finish your homework.” Lexie, who is nineteen and home from college, looked at me as though I was rolling a joint at the dinner table. “But it’s Sunday! He can’t spend the night on a school night!”

I just shrugged. “I’m getting soft in my old age.”

Right now I have a boat load of young friends with brand new babies. I love looking at all their adorable pictures on facebook, baby toes and fingers, funny hats and faces smeared with food.  But I need to warn them all. You’ll have all kinds of high minded ideas, rules and practices for that first child. That kid will be astonishingly  healthy, cultured and educated. And it’s existence on earth will be documented,  pictures will be taken every hour.

But something happens with the third or fourth child.  My mother had massive photo albums of my two older brothers but I guess she ran out of film by the time I came along.  I literally can’t find a picture of “little girl me” with either of my parents. I have a storage unit full of her black and white family photos but I’m not even in the family  portraits taken by the church when I was six and eight years old.  I remember my mom getting so frustrated with my tangled hair that she decided to leave me at home with the maid.

Last week I laughed as I walked up and down the cereal isle at Kroger looking for Coco Puffs.  For the first fifteen years I had an ironclad rule.  I did not buy colored cereal, only the tan stuff, so no Lucky Charms, no Capt. Crunch with Crunch Berries.

I still have a few rules I take seriously. I’ve never let the kids have tvs or computers in their rooms.   I want to be able to look over a shoulder and see what they are looking at. There’s no doubt they’d be all over www.bigboob.com if I didn’t peek. And when they spend all their time in their room, I get too lonesome. We still don’t have any Playstation or Nintendo things at the house.  They can play all they want when they visit friends, but I don’t care for them.

As long as they make good grades, have good manners, say yes sir and know how to shake hands I still try to pick and choose my battles. If Sandor want’s a stupid hair cut I’ll probably just roll my eyes and say ok if he’s on the honor roll.

So far the system has worked out pretty well.  Yeah, I let the youngest eat bad cereal and go out on school nights but seriously, no smoking crack in the kitchen.

 

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The Righteous Punch

bullyingI’m not supposed to write about this but I can’t keep my mouth shut.

Yesterday before school a bigger boy in my son’s class shoved him face first against a wall and he banged his head pretty hard. Instinctively, my son spun around and punched the kid in the face, hard.  The boy went down and cried. But Sandor helped him up and apologized and they shook hands.

Sandor called me to let me know what had happened. He was upset because he know if a teacher saw him he’d get in big big trouble, probably suspended.  He was also upset because he made the boy cry.  When I pressed him he explained he was kind of a big slow kid who did stuff like this all the time other people. He also told me he wanted to keep punching him but the yellow belt tenant in Taekwondo is Self Control.  He did the right thing and stopped.

I was totally stressed all day waiting for a call from the school. Right after lunch Sandor texted me “I feel so guilty”.  When we got home I asked him why and it was because the boy cried and that always makes him feel really bad.

Good news, this morning Sandor texted me again, the kid told him his face still hurt and they shook hands again.

Then my son told me about another fight which took place in the football lockerroom.  There’s a young man, I’ll call him Joe, who’s mother died a couple of years ago.  A seventh grade boy started making fun of Joe’s dead mother. (It doesn’t get any worse that that.) One of the star football players slugged the kid several time to shut him up. (Obviously, in my mind the right thing to do.) I believe this situation was handled appropriately by one of the coaches and was never reported.

The truth is some kids are just wretched human beings right now but they aren’t any worse than they used to be. I remember getting pushed around in first grade because I liked Davey Jones in the Monkeys.  And in 5th grade when I had to go to a new school for a little while in Florida all the kids and bus driver called me “Pig Farmer” because of my accent. Kids are really mean.

My son has been in Taekwondo, and messed around with boxing since he was three. He’s a second degree black belt and he’s been trained to do exactly what he did. Defend himself.  He’s also been taught to always always stick up for a kid being bullied. that’s one of the founding principals of our Taekwondo school and house hold.  That’s his job. There are sheep and there are coyotes in life and especially in school. Somebody has to be brave enough to protect the sheep. that’s the natural order of things. Walking away when you can help someone is a disgrace.

Hopefully our school administrators will come to understand (and many of ours do now, thankfully) we’re not helping anyone, especially the sheep, if we tell kids not to defend themselves and weaker students from punk ass coyotes. Teachers, administrators and the police can’t be everywhere all the time. So when we tell our strong and righteous students to step back we are only emboldening the bullies, we are giving them even more power.

It’s a fine line, but again, this is a situation where “zero tolerance” just doesn’t work.  If I defended an old person who was being pushed around at Walgreens by a big tough guy I’m pretty sure the police would take the circumstances into consideration.

There will always be bullies, there will always be kids who get bullied and there will always be heroes unless they all get suspended.

 

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