Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Death of a SalesMom

Tis the season for sales galore. My daughter might be selling nuts and candy for the Daisy scouts (this is doubtful as I am the troop leader and sales are not my strong suit), my son is selling popcorn for Cub Scouts and both of them are selling discount cards for their school. While I understand that these types of sales must be done and that they benefit my children in tangible ways, I loathe them. Selling a card that can actually save local folks money throughout the year is one thing but hawking overpriced popcorn, nuts and candy to the fine folks of East Tennessee who are struggling not only to make ends meet but also to find belts that fit is not something I enjoy. According to a recent study, Tennessee is the second fattest state in the nation. Seriously scouts? Can’t we sell gym memberships or nutritional supplements? How about hand weights or discounted weight watchers memberships?

Despite my lack of enthusiasm, I will participate. My love for scouting organizations runs deep. Both boy and girl scouting are a legacy in my family going back to my beloved Grandma who was passionate about cultivating a love and appreciation of the outdoors within her children. Granted, my Grandma also managed to take both of her daughters’ Girl Scout troops to Europe while serving as their leader and I can guarantee she would never stand outside of a Wal-Mart hawking caramel corn and Thin Mints. But alas, I am not my Grandma, this is not 1950 and it is doubtful my kids will make it to Europe thanks to scouting. They will, however, get to go camping with their friends, gain an appreciation for the outdoors and learn some valuable lessons about life. That’s worth a few popcorn and nut sales, right?

So, in the spirit of participation, anyone want some popcorn? Nuts? Discount card? See me. I’ll hook you up.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Inspired by Common Sense with Money, a favorite blog of mine and the fact that I've had the DVD since May, I'm starting the 30 Day Shred tomorrow. The plan? Do the twenty minute workout every single day for 30 days, starting on level one for the first ten days then moving to level two on the 20th and ending at level three for the last ten days. Jillian Michaels is not my favorite person but I've read enough positive reviews of this 20 minute workout that I'm convinced I'll see results.

I know this is not exactly riveting blog material but my chances for success greatly increase when I share my plan with others. How can I let you, my thousands of screaming fans, down?

So, here goes. Wish me luck...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Lessons from the Unemployment Line: Part 1

66 days ago my family became a statistic when my husband lost his job of 11 years. The company he worked for was not turning a profit in that particular business model so they shut it down completely and let go a couple thousand employees. Always one to take comfort in his supposed job stability, this was a devastating blow for me. I never dreamed we would face the loss of our primary source of income. Such a prospect simply wasn’t a possibility in my world. I’ve learned a lot in the past few months and have decided to do my best to put a positive spin on this, my most difficult life lesson to date.

Lesson #1: The fact that this is my most difficult life lesson to date speaks volumes about my life. I have observed many tragedies as an adult: 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, a devastating Tsunami and the earthquakes in Haiti. I have witnessed families struggle with cancer, the loss of a spouse or the unimaginable loss of a child. But I have experienced all of these things as a sympathetic third party observer with a safe distance between myself and grief, loss and devastation. Through my experience with living in financial limbo, I have learned to stay mindful of those less fortunate then myself and try to sustain, cliché as it might be, an attitude of gratitude. My number one priorities these days are finding ways to save money and sock it away, doing what I can to help my husband obtain a new job, and coming up with an innovative way to rid my neighborhood of the aesthetic eyesore that is Ninny the goat. These are not grave worries. They pale in comparison to the plights of so many scattered throughout this country and the world. Sure, I may have to put the kibosh on vacation planning for the time being and get used to the idea of living in this house longer than I’d like to but, deep down, I know things will change. I know we will emerge from this financial storm a little dazed and windblown but we’ll be dry, comfortable and ready to restart our lives. I’m hoping that my renewed perspective will stay with me long after this financial limbo comes to an end.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Goat Kabobs

As many of you know, I’ve got a goat problem. When I emerge from the shelter of the giant hedges that line my front yard, I gaze into the empty blankness of a goat’s eyes. A former resident of the house two doors down, these days he makes his home within the confines of the fence directly in front of my house. I’ve concluded that my neighbors must be starting some sort of pilot goat cooperative on our street. It should be a real boon for home sales in this area. He spends his days eating grass, kudzu, weeds, magnolia leaves and azaleas. I often catch him standing on his back legs like a giraffe, gnawing on a branch 5 feet in the air. Seeing a dead-behind-the-eyes goat in this position five feet from your front yard is a more disconcerting sight than one might think.

I live in the city limits and, as such, have always assumed that when the time comes to put my house on the market, I could call animal control or some other organization and get him removed. Surely there is some sort of rule against having a farm animal within the city limits, right? Wrong! The municipal codes of our fair city dictate that all farm animals, with the exception of swine, are permitted within the city limits but must be contained. Other than that, it’s a free for all where farm animals are concerned. I’ve got three options here:

1. Accept the presence of the goat and use him somehow as a marketing tool when I put the house on the market. Here’s what I have in mind: “No need to worry about your neighbor’s neglecting their lawn on this street, the goat takes care of that for you! As a part of the neighborhood's innovative pilot goat cooperative, twice a month he will visit your house and trim your grass and eat all of your bushes at no charge to you!” Any takers?

2. Embrace the new petting zoo vibe of my neighborhood and get a goat or two, a sheep, some chickens, a pony and an Alpaca and open up a small petting zoo. I can then market the house as a residence/small business.

3. Enlist the help of some of my hunter friends and conduct a covert op under the cover of night. Invite all of the neighbors over for a barbeque that weekend and serve some delicious mystery kabobs.

What would you do?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Time's a Wastin'

My free preview of Bravo ended just in time to prohibit my viewing of Part 2 of The Real Housewives of New Jersey Reunion Special. I was devastated. DEVASTATED. Ask Sean. A self-declared hater of most trashy reality shows, even he would get sucked in to the drama care of these hothead Italian women. Commercial breaks always snapped him back into reality and he removes himself from the viewing area but he just proves that, while there is no denying these shows bring your IQ down a few points with each episode, they do have a certain trashy appeal. The extent of my devastation, however, confirmed my suspicion that I need to cancel my cable completely. The DVR is the antidote to productivity and the shows that I enjoy most are not coming from PBS or The History Channel. They are on Bravo, A&E and VH1 and I can watch them at my convenience, commercial free thanks to the miracle that is DVR. I’m getting rid of it, turning off my Dish Network and adding a digital antennae that will allow us to keep the basic channels free of charge. Not having the option of sitting on my cozy sofa and zoning out to another episode of Hoarders will, in theory, cut down significantly on my time-wasting.

Has anyone out there in cyberspace cut their cable out? If so, what was it like? Any regrets? Are you glad you did it?

Of course all of my productivity resolve will have to wait until September 26 when my free preview of HBO ends. Now, off to post this so I can watch last night’s Housewives reunion online…

Thursday, May 27, 2010

High Glitz and Summer Education

“High Glitz” and “Spray Tans” are terms that most 5-year-olds are not familiar with, unless said 5-year-olds are involved in the world of beauty pageants. My rising kindergartner is familiar with these terms but she’s never competed for a crown. She has, however, sat on the couch with me on a rainy afternoon, captivated by the high drama of TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras. She enjoys that show so much that, given the choice between it and Sponge Bob, she’d choose Toddlers and Tiaras. I’ve always been very clear about the fact that beauty pageants are not something that I plan on being involved in and she’s OK with that, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the antics of those crazy pageant moms.

Yesterday, after several requests, I caved and sat down with her to watch an episode. Her brother, home from his last day of first grade, decided to watch it with us. He was drawing and watching it intermittently until the pageant started and he noticed the baby division. I could almost see the light bulb go off in his head as he put two and two together, “Mommy. We should put Harper in beauty pageants. She would definitely win. We could use the money she wins to go to Disney World.” I told him that pageants were a racket and that no one really makes money after dropping $800 on a dress and then a couple more on the entry fee. He was disappointed but it didn’t last long because he began a new art project, a book. He frequently makes 3-4 page “books” out of illustrated stories he puts together sheet by sheet. Tatum and I finished watching the show, cheering on our favorite 4-year-old stepford hussies while Truman colored and drew and asked me how to spell words like, “Pageant” and “trophy.” I could see where this was going.

After the show was over, Truman handed me his creation. It was entitled “Beauty Pageant” and told the story of baby Harper’s rise to pageant domination. It depicted Harper with olive skin (spray tan) in a poofy pink dress (high glitz) with big hair and an even bigger trophy. See? Our summer learning has already begun!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Body Art

Our youngest was our happy accident. We didn’t expect her but now we cannot imagine life without her. She’s nearing 15 months old now, walking everywhere and systematically testing every single parenting philosophy I’ve ever held. She has yet to sleep through the night on any consistent basis. She refuses to let me feed her without a fight. She is clinging to nursing like some kids cling to a pacifier (I had the other two weaned by 12 months). She won’t take a pacifier. She eats at least one piece of non-human food per day and she is into everything, EVERYTHING.

Her latest exploit involves markers. She’s obsessed with them. Despite our best efforts to keep them out of her reach, she finds them, opens them and begins her magnum opus. This budding artist’s masterpieces all start out the same way. The medium is her body and the starting point is her inner ear. She immediately sticks the marker tip as far as it will go in each ear, colors as much area as possible and moves on to the rest of her face.

So far all markers have been washable. Here’s hoping it stays that way!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Five Years to the Day

Today, I am thankful for Tatum. Born five years ago today, she is an unpredictable, bubbly, lively ball of energy that speaks her mind and refuses to take no for an answer. She delights ever-so-slightly in her brother’s misery and in being older than her four-year-old friends and she feels right at home in the red tiara she strutted around in tonight. More than any child I have encountered, she relishes every second of her birthday celebration, savoring each gift, each birthday wish, each snapshot taken, each wish made and every drop of attention showered on her. To every person she encountered today who gave her an
“in” to speak to them she said, “Today’s my birthday” and waited for the well-wishes to pour down on her. I love her. Today is her day and, as such, it is a day of thanks for me. Tatum: you rock my world. Happy birthday!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Safe Words

So the week of living Duggarly went very well. We learned a great lesson: yelling is counterproductive; and we plan to stick with our anti-yelling family plan. It's pretty entertaining because the Hale family has a new safe word. Yes, I know safe words are typically only used when one party is wearing leather and holding a whip but in this case, it just serves as a reminder that yelling is not allowed in our house. Our safe word is: Jim Bob. Awesome!

My next experiment: A T.V. diet. I've just got to muster up the strength to do it. One week, people, one week. Surely I can survive without Dr. Drew and Jim Halpert for that long!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Duggarly Day 2

I'm at the midpoint of day two in my Week of Living Duggarly. School was unexpectedly canceled today because someone saw a snowflake within a 10 mile radius of the city. I was dreading it because today was supposed to be my work day at home. I might as well kiss any work-related productivity good-bye, right? To make things worse, I didn't sleep well last night. I had a hard time falling asleep and finally got my first taste of REM at about 4am. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to fit the Michelle Duggar Zen master of calm mask on my sleep-deprived head today.

Boy was I wrong. My kids unexpectedly let the baby and I sleep in until about 9am, giving me enough of a sleep foundation to get the mask on my head. Since I got up and came downstairs with the baby, my son and daughter have been playing actively and creatively and (here's the true miracle) harmoniously together. They've created these "snow" balls out of white tissue paper, put them in a gift bag and have been taking turns hiding them from each other. This has gone on for hours. I can't help but wonder, does this creative harmonious play have anything to do with my attitude yesterday?

A little update on yesterday's events: I stuck with the experiment veering only once from my no-yelling plan. It was an honest mistake. I was jogging on the treadmill when my son came upstairs and was trying to step on the moving belt. I feel fairly justified in yelling in that particular instant. Other than that, it went smoothly. I didn't rush the kids, didn't raise my voice, and remained calm the entire day (which even included a trip with all three kids to Wal-Mart!). There were no melt-downs yesterday, no serious behavioral issues. All in all, I have had a harmonious house for the past 36 hours.

More to come...

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Milking Purse

Yesterday evening my stress level was through the roof. I was working on a deadline on a new writing project and I wasn't exactly sure how to proceed with it. My entire family was home and the kids had a major case of cabin fever. They were running like banshees (what's a banshee?) through the house, jumping on furniture, screaming, laughing, and having a ball. I did not share their enthusiasm and was sitting at my computer, hands shaking on the keys, right on the cusp of a nervous breakdown (this was before I put on my Michelle Duggar Zen master mask).

My daughter ran towards the couch and warp speed, jumped on it, scaled it and landed on the bay window ledge behind. The then catapulted her body over the edge of the couch and landed on the cushions where she claimed to be stuck. I heard this in the kitchen:

Daughter: "Mommy! Help me!"

Me: "I'm working. What do you need?"

Daughter: "I'm stuck."

Me: silence. I didn't believe her.

Daughter: "Mommy! I'm stuck! My foot is stuck in the milking purse."

This baffled me so I looked to the huz for guidance. His shoulders were shaking with laughter. I said, "What the heck is she talking about?"

He explained that she was referring to the breast pump.

I had to laugh. It was one of those cliche "Kids say the darndest things" kind of moments. The breast pump is encased in a black fabric bag with a large handle. Of course my daughter would understand it as a "milking purse." Maybe Medela and some of the other pump manufacturers should take a hint from my daughter and market their own hip version of a milking purse.

A Week of Living Duggarly

In the spirit of guaranteed blog material and the possibility of becoming a better parent, I have decided to give up yelling for the next seven days. That’s right folks. No yelling. No raising my voice. Nothing. Nada.

Before you judge me, I must clarify. I am no Olympian yeller. I’m not breaking any records or involved in any type of domestic dispute worthy of Judge Judy, I just have a tendency to raise my voice when I get frustrated or when I have to ask my kids to do things over and over again. Inspired by the cool and collected zen master of calm, Michelle Duggar, I’ve decided to give not yelling a go. In case you don’t watch 18 Kids and Counting on TLC or you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar are the parents of 19 children. They live in Arkansas in a ginormous house, custom made for their family and they have the most well-behaved children on earth. I’ve been studying them (watching the show) for some time to try and figure out what their secret is. All along I’ve been certain that they must administer some type of behavior altering drugs to their kids or beat them into submission but that is simply not the case. Michelle and Jim Bob made an agreement with each other that they wouldn’t yell at their kids at the beginning of their parenting journey. This includes the times when they are running late and trying to get 19 pairs of shoes on, coats zipped, seat belts buckled, and faces wiped before they can leave for their destination. If they are late, so be it. They’ve even coined the phrase, “Duggar time” to represent their reliable tardiness. Sure, they could stress out, lose their cool, do a little yelling and arrive on time but I guess they figure promptness is simply not worth the psychological damage that this kind of behavior does to their kids. They’d rather just be late. As a result of their remarkable ability to stay calm at all times, the Duggars have produced 19 children with the same ability. Go figure.

After watching my son freak out and yell out of frustration and recognizing that this is a learned behavior, I’ve decided to try to change. I’m wearing a Michelle Duggar mask all week and adopting her Zen master of calm parenting style. Who knows, you might even catch me in a floor length denim shirt and a modest shirt, rockin’ some mac-daddy bangs this week just to emphasize how serious I really am. The huz is in on it too. I’m hoping he’ll start talking with his hands and use massive amounts of hairspray to get in the character of Jim Bob.

And thus begins the week of living Duggarly. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

On to Greener Pastures

Well, it's official. AnotherGrayHair has moved. I switched servers from Typepad (not free) to Blogger (free) for obvious reasons. I imported all posts so nothing was lost. I'll continue to update this blog sporadically so please subscribe if you have a minute.

Thanks for the memories Typepad and the many dollars that have needlessly been tossed your way in the past three years.