Felled By a Sitcom

I'm down with the flu, and TV is playing a big part in my "distract the kids so I don't contaminate them" plan for today.  I know, I know.  TV isn't a great choice for a babysitter, but when the doc tells you you're highly contagious and that you have to wear a mask if you "have" to be with them, and your husband works nights...well, it's a viable distractor.

In any case, after multiples episodes of Dora, Mickey Mouse and other stuff my mind is conveniently deleting from its database, I decided it was time for a mom-centric show.

Consult: DVR.  I don't get to watch many shows first-run, but the DVR captures them for viewing when the kids are already in bed, playing with dad, or succumbing to a milk- or sugar-coma.

Select: the How I Met Your Mother episode from January 24th.

Spoiler alert: if you haven't seen this episode but later intend to and don't want me to ruin it for you, quit reading now.

In a nutshell, this episode deals with the funeral of Marshall's father, played by the goofy sidekick from Coach.  (Ya'll know who I mean, right? I'm bad with names.)  In it, Marshall's mom and brothers have touching last words to recount from his dad.  Marshall doesn't feel like he has a similar story to share...but then discovers a voicemail from his dad that a previously battery-drained phone didn't deliver earlier.  That message lets him hear his dad say that word "I love you" one last time.

I don't remember my last words from my dad.  He died on August 5th, 2008, 2 months before Catherine was born.  During the last six months of his life, he was 100% unresponsive and uncommunicative, and considered to be in a terminal state.  Although I was able to see him several times during those six months (I live 1500 miles from where I grew up), our visits were comprised of holding hands or me feeding him various meals. The last meal I fed him, which was also the last time I saw him while he was living, was 2 days before his 75th birthday.  It was dinnertime and the very first time I'd visited him in his nursing home without my mom or husband tagging along.  He'd already entered hospice care, and we knew the end was near...although we didn't expect him to linger for another six weeks and then die just 18 hours before my flight back for my next visit was to land.  But I digress...

I remember the last words I said to him.  I told him how much I loved him and how much I missed the man he had been before Alzheimers had robbed him of his mind, his personality, and his quality of life.  I told him I was going to enjoy telling my daughter all about the wonderful times I'd enjoyed with her grandfather while growing up but that I hated more than anything that she wasn't going to get to know him.  I told him I was glad that he was the first person we'd told about our coming baby, on the trip we made to Pennsylvania 3 months previous when it looked like the end was then - that's a picture of him and I and the baby's first stuffed animal.

But I really wish I could remember the last words he said to me.  I know that we talked on the phone a few times after he broke his hip in November of the year prior and had to enter the nursing home for rehab.  I know, in fact, that we must have talked even just prior to the weeklong 105 degree temperature he suffered that landed him in the state he'd be in for the rest of his life.  And I also know that those talks were probably not about anything meaningful, since Alzheimers had reduced our chats to pleasantries instead of the long talks we used to share.  But for the life of me, I can't remember. 

Maybe that's better.  Maybe the most pleasant memories to save are the ones of our long chats on current events, politics, family gossip, the Phillies and NASCAR.  But I don't know.

So here is flu-ridden melodramatic me thinking about what last words I'd want my children to remember me saying to them.  "I love you" is a given.  "I'm proud of you" and "I want only the best for your life" aren't far behind.  But what insightful advice could I offer that they could look back on?

I guess this is what I've come up with: "I want you to always be who you are.  Always say what you are thinking, but say it with respect.  Always think deeply and thoroughly, but act decisively.  Remember who your friends are and always have room in your life for more.  Take care of the people you call family, even when they've stolen your last nerve.  And never believe that there's anything you can't accomplish through sheer stubborn will."

What do you think?  What last words do you remember, or do you want to be remembered by?

SOTU Wrap Up

Howdy, folks!  I struggled to decide this year upon the format for my State of the Union response - line by line responses, like last year, or topical thoughts, as I've done with prior political speeches?

I've decided that topical is better than line by line - better use of my writing time; better use of your reading time.  Hope you agree!  Remember - comments are welcome, dissent is appreciated, but everything must be CIVIL!

The Use of Victims

In my opinion, it is appropriate to recognize victims of recent tragedies and send best wishes to them (if they are still living) or their families (if they are not).  I do not, however, find it appropriate to use it as a wait to paint a divided body as unified or as a rallying cry.  Obama seemed to prolong his Tucson-related comments, while Rep. Ryan mentioned it and moved on.

Taxcuts, Paychecks, Healthcare and Jobs

Obama trying to tell me that my paycheck is larger because of "his" tax cuts is like Greece saying it's a fiscally responsible country. (Apologies to Greek friends.)  It's just funny.  First, extending the BUSH tax cuts was a Republican prerogative.  Second, my paycheck isn't larger.


Oh, yeah.  My healthcare premiums went UP.  So did my deductible, co-pays, and out-of-pocket maximum.  I don't blame my company for this.  I blame the government's so-called "reform." 

Oh, and bringing up tort reform at this late date, Mr. President?  When that and auditing government entitlements for FRAUD (more lower) would have been better done before last year's "reform?"  Oy.

Highlighting 250,000 jobs is almost funny.  Pointing to the success of a handful of "successful" small companies is sad.  We should have MANY examples to point to.  The absence of many and highlighting of few is indicative of the failure of the "bailout" of our country.

And calling our workers the most productive?  Not when we enable laziness and limit innovation through over-governmentalizing EVERYTHING.

Funniest phrase of the evening: "We're not just handing out money."

Yes, you are.  Through many different avenues and at length.  Unchecked.

But you can't handle cutbacks with grace, can you Mr. President?  At my company, employees gave back HUGE portions of their incomes after 9/11 and accepted little or no increases in pay for the following decade, in order to keep the company afloat.  Excuse me if my sympathy is not with government employees unwilling to make the same sacrifice.


How can the same man who has so limited NASA draw an allusion to "the Apollo of our time?"  How can a man who is our Commander in Chief be ignorant that the innovations he mentioned (internet, etc.) had their basis in the military, not small business?  Sure, small business grew into Silicon Valley.  But its roots were vastly different.

And how can a man flout the desirability of green energy, advanced by small business, and forget the roots of the oil industry, all the while making hardworking men and women in that industry into the devil?  Even as he knows their support of cleaner energy.  And complaining about government support going to them while ignoring the MASSIVE tax dollars coming back to the government as a result, both from the oil companies themselves as well as on the gas tax.

Undocumented Workers

It was hard for me to type that phrase.  I don't believe it.  At all.  Let's call a spade a spade: these are ILLEGAL aliens.  I don't care why they're here.  Almost all of us have touching tales of why our ancestors came to America: my mom's family was looking for new opportunity, 400 years ago; my dad's family was escaping religious persecution in the Middle East.  But either way, they came in the appropriate manner, not specifically flaunting the laws of our nation.

And that's what it is.  It's not opportunity seeking when the chance to become legal is ignored.  It's a complete disregard and disrespect for our laws.

Yes, let's not take it out on the kids of illegal aliens.  But let's not give illegal aliens a FREE PASS or an EXCUSE just because they have kids.


Obama spent a few minutes on rail.  Studies have shown in this country that even areas with many opportunities for rail and other shared ride programs, they are underutilized.  Our culture is simply different than Europe and Asia.  More money spent on rail isn't better spending.  And first of all, we'd need to recapture MANY MANY DOLLARS from other fraud-fraught government programs to even afford this.


(Please remember that even though I work for an airline, any thoughts posted here are MINE and MINE ALONE.  I represent no one else's ideas.  Period.)

The joke on the patdowns was weak.  Um, it's YOUR government that came up with that idea, Mr. President.

And the aircraft-sans-engine analogy was, uh, muddled.  An aircraft can't fly without an engine.  Decisions to take off weight are made before takeoff.  You didn't make sense.  Maybe this is simply a great example of your entire speech, though.  Cute words; no substance.

Redistribution of Wealth

I believe that a rose by any other name...is still a rose.

By challenging high income Americans to pay more in taxes (you do know, Mr. President, that they already pay a majority, right?) in order to "promote America's success", you're just encouraging the socialist idealogy of redistribution of wealth, right?

The Government/The Country/The Rhetoric

So you're against earmarks, now?  How many were necessary to get your healthcare law passed?

"A government that lives within its means?"  Oh, please.

"This is a place where you can make it if you try."  But how many people don't try and live off the government instead?  A lot.  Seen it.  A lot.  And it continues throughout generations.

Representative Ryan's Response

It felt like President Obama's speech was slick, and Representative Ryan's was sincere.  Anyone else get that vibe?

I LOVED Rep. Ryan's point that the amount of confidence people have in the government is inversely proportionate with the size of the government.  Truer words could not be spoken.

Of all of his remarks, I liked those centered on self-initative best.


"Which allows able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency."  Isn't this what I scream all of the time about the problem with our welfare state and the lack of self-initative in many citizens?

"Hold all of us accountable."  Certain quarters wouldn't like that; easier to have someone to blame.

What say you, readers?

My Life and Meat Loaf

I'm a huge fan of Meat Loaf.  Have been since childhood - and I'm surely not talking about the dinner entree.

Like many teenagers, I went through an angry phase.  Ok, maybe a decade.  It started around the time of my grandmother's death, when my mother's extreme grief left me feeling abandoned, and ended 9 years later when I decided I didn't need constant anger and triggers in my life.  I moved 1500 miles away and *poof* - instantly happier person.  Have been for most of the almost-nine years I've been here in Texas.  Life hasn't been without it's ups and downs - but I'm one helluva lot more balanced now than as a teen.

I have a teenager in my house right now who is at the pinnacle of his angry stage.  Been there for awhile.  Came down a bit for awhile, but now back up there in the clouds that seem to have a red tinge.  It's been a tremendous opportunity to get to work with him since he arrived in mid-May of 2010 but it feels like an impending huge loss to know he'll be leaving in less than two weeks.  And naturally, since life gets boring without drama, the shiznit hit the fan...actually, it's been hitting and splattering for just over a month now.

Tonight, while reviewing what was a not-so-great evening, I was suddenly transported back to my own teen years (cue the music from Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell) and the words from one of my favorite Meat Loaf songs sprang into my head.  That doesn't happen to me very often; I love music but don't generally define my life with lyrics. 

In fact, I can think of only four times this has happened to me, including tonight:
  • a song I shared with my high school sweetheart:
    (You're Still the One, Shania Twain),
  • the song that prompted me to change my college major:
    (Livin' On a Prayer, Bon Jovi),
  • the song I share with my husband:
    (Bless the Broken Road, Rascal Flats),
  • and now the song to describe the past three-quarters of a year:
    Meat Loaf's Everything Louder than Everything Else (Wasted Youth).

Here are the lyrics that are resonating with me right now, used completely without permission but with all credit for their genius going to artist Meat Loaf and composer Jim Steinman.  (First 5 lines are key, the next two parenthetical lines are one of my personal mantras, and the remainder is included because, well, I've always loved this entire stanza.)

And I ain't in it for the power,
And I ain't in it for my health
I ain't in it for the glory of anything at all
And I sure ain't in it for the wealth
But I'm in it till it's over and I just can't stop
(If you wanna get it done,
You gotta do it yourself)
And I like my music like I like my life
Everything louder than everything else,
Everything louder than everything else,
Everything louder than everything else,
Everything louder than everything else,
Everything louder than everything else,
Everything louder than everything else.
Read the full lyrics here.
Great stuff.  I'll have to hunt up either my original or live CD tomorrow and play.  For the first time in years, I'll fall asleep tonight listening to music...even if it's only inside of a memory inside of my head.

Good night!

Go to School!

Big Girl loves to go to school.  We started her in preschool back in June, through a summer camp that a local Montessori sponsored.

Well, my little socialite LOVED it.  The first week, she cried when I left her there.  Afterall, she never attended daycare, so this was all new.

By the second week, she cried when I picked her up.  She was doing half days; most kids stayed all day.  She didn't want to leave!

After a brief hiatus to accomodate travel, she started there again in late September, going for two full days.

Over Christmas break - two weeks of no school - she was seriously bummed out.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, she was just sort of off.

But boy...starting back last week just MADE.HER.WORLD!

So let's here it for preschool - social activity, skill enhancements, and time for mommy to do other things - like work!

Do your children attend preschool, daycare, or a similar program?  What are your likes or dislikes about your program?

Ooops - time to head out the door to school!

Caring and Sharing in Hotels

Good Tuesday morning to everyone, and welcome to Tuesday Travel Tips with Tiffany! To read previous editions, you can find them here.

Today's topic is learning how to share hotel rooms.

No, no, no.  I'm not talking about physically sharing a hotel room with someone else, particularly someone else you do.not.know.

What I'm talking about is caring and sharing in a hotel room that will, yes indeedy, be used by someone else after you check out.


Betcha never thought about that, eh?

Just because most hotels employ maid services, don't think that you have carte blanche to lose all sense of propriety and hygiene.

I'm talking about you, Mr. I'm Gonna Throw a Condom on the Floor.  Eeeeewie.  Do you do that at home?  'Cause if you do, I'm never coming to visit.  Do you honestly think the carpets in hotels get washed more than once a millenium?

I'm talking to you, Ms. Conveniently Lose a Bra Behind the Television Set.  Really?  Really?  Stop.

And I'm talking to all ya'll that do nasty things (get your mind out of the gutter; I'm talking about eating greasy food!) on the bed comforter.

Listen, folks.  I worked as a hotel maid.  Briefly.  Like for a week.  Because the hotel where I worked in a restaurant had all of it's maids quit simultaneously and I got talked into doing it for a couple of extra bucks besides my hourly.  And it was seriously the most disgusting thing ever.

Except changing new-to-baby-food diapers.  But I digress...

Why do human beings, especially Mr. Professional Business Traveler and Ms. Have It All Together Mom, devolve into disgusting creatures while on the road?  You're leaving behind a mess not only for the person who is getting minimum wage to clean your room (and tip, dummy!), but also potentially for the next user of the room.

I'm not a constant traveler, but I've been to my fair share of places.  We'll estimate that I've stayed in 3 dozen different hotels in the last five or so years.  And you wouldn't believe what I've seen.  (For the sake of not seriously grossing anyone out, I won't go into details.  Just let your imagination go to the worst.possible.corner and then take it a step further.)

So when you're traveling, learning about caring and sharing in hotels is absolutely key.  Here are some tips:

1.  If you wouldn't do it at home, don't do it at a hotel.  Now, I'm not telling you not to do it do it.  But don't do it in a way that you wouldn't do it at home.  Got it?
2.  If even you're too grossed out to clean something up, maybe you shouldn't have done it in the first place.  And you definitely should clean it up.  Like right now.
3.  "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" doesn't mean you leave your manners and hygiene at the door.
4.  Tip your housekeeper.  He or she works for a low sum of money doing work that you'd like want to be paid beaucoup bucks to perform.  A few bucks goes a long way towards good will.
5.  Just because you ask the front desk for something doesn't mean they have it or have an obligation to get it for you.
6.  Room service is a luxury that ought not be spoiled by you spilling your remains all over the hallway.  Yeah, you.  The one who complained on TripAdvisor that the hallways were dingy.  Who, pray tell, do you think caused that?

Now you're ready to go forth and be a courteous hotel guest!

Until next time...

Safe travels!

Hair and Insight

I had a "day off" on Saturday to go have some kid-less time.  I used part of the time to get my hair done.  I love making conversation, so I asked the hairdresser (a student who did a SUPERB job) why she had chosen to go to beauty school.

Her answer surprised me.  She didn't cite a love of hair or a lifetime spent beautifying others.  Instead, she told me this story.

A few years ago, not long after she graduated from high school, she was speaking to a friend of hers who she considers to be a talented artist.

She told her friend that she admired his talent, but didn't feel like she had any talent of her own.

His answer was outstanding.

"Create one."

His point, she relayed to me, was that not all talent is inborn.  Some is acquired, and has to be worked at to master.  (I'd argue that some = most.)  He told her that she couldn't wait for a talent to be magically revealed, but instead needed to work to develop a talent of her own.

This young lady loves fashion and one day dreams of owning a string of stores catering to various areas of talent, such as shoes, clothes, and wedding gear.  But she realizes that the money and knowledge to be able to do that doesn't just fall from heaven.

So she went to college, where she has a year of school to finish for a business degree, and is also attending beauty school.  She wants to master the full package of fashion, and that includes both the business end and the service end.

How smart!  And how many of us sit around waiting for talent to magically drop down on us?

We can learn from the sage decisions of this young lady.  Don't wait or expect talent to just happen - work for it!

What do you think?

New Year, Abandoned Resolutions

Do you all like to make New Year's Resolutions?  I do.  There's nothing I like more than writing out a list of goals.

How do you all feel about keeping them?  Um, yeah.  I'm not so good either.

I came into 2011 gung ho with my new resolution.  Blog more, write more, clean more, and then relax more.  Oh, and there's all those resolutions for my full-time job, too.

With one+ week down, I'm not doing so well.  Oh yeah, and the gaining weight thing.  Not so much.

What I'm trying to learn is that you can start or restart resolutions any time of the year - and that just because they haven't worked in the past doesn't mean they won't take this time.

So I'm going to try to restart today.  Won't you join me on this journey?

Kids and Church

Six point five days per week, Big Girl is a little devil - she understands the word "no," but believes that if she looks away and can't see me, I can't see her either.

And on Sundays, we go to church.  For a long time, Big Girl thought church was a fun place to see people and then spout off during more quiet parts of the sermon, as if thinking that it was her turn to liven things up.

That seemed to change at the Christmas Eve service.  Big Girl loveloveloved the music and actually paid more attention than usual.  Now, she's only 27 months old - there's definitely a limit to how much she'll get.  But she was far more engaged than usual.

Today, she started Sunday school.  I was a little worried.  She doesn't know any of the other kids in her class, and the morning started off with two of the other Big Girls freaking out.

But she did GREAT!  The teacher said she danced and sang and was happy and had a great time.  YAHOO!

Coincidentally, on the day when we were alone with Bubba Boy in the church service for the first time, he was HYPER AWARE of what was going on.  Cooing and gaaing and checking everyone out.  We go to a large church but a very small service...so with only 30 people there, they were also HYPER AWARE of each of his noises.  But that's ok!  I love that he was interactive instead of simply a passive little baby.

The kids exemplified Christian behavior this morning, both in their interactions in church and also with each other at home.  Bubba Boy was crying before we left and Big Girl leaned over to comfort him: "It's ok.  It'll be alright."  What a nice girl to try to comfort her brother!

Maybe those devil-can-catch me moments the other 6.5 days of the week will start to recede a bit, now.  (Then again, maybe not!)

The Part-Time Single Mom

Ever since Big Girl was born 27 months ago, I have joked that I was a part-time single mom.

Afterall, with me working days and Funny Daddy working nights, we didn't always actually meet in the middle...especially when you throw in our "extra" involvements like security work (FD) or writing (me).  So whenever I was with my kids, I was likely alone with my kids, doing whatever comes with being alone with the kids: making decisions regarding spending, health, punishment, and more.

So why the name? I felt like this experience was more in line than what single parents face, versus what other moms might.  In fact, I still feel like this experience is so unique that I'm about to start a whole other blog about it.  (*Want details?)

When I felt overwhelmed as a new mom - and who doesn't? - I started to feel like it was unfair that I was always alone with the kids, always dealing with problems on my own.

But with that thought process, I lacked two things: perspective and self-assurance.

Perspective: I sure as heck wasn't alone with my kids all of the time.  In his old job, FD worked 4 of every 7 days.  In his new job, FD works 5 of every 10 days.  And even when he's at home and sleeping (working nights can be tough!) or at work and busy, I can still count on him for advice and support when I need it.

Self-Assurance: I'm independent.  Long before I met FD, I maintained my own household.  Since marrying and having children, I've done any number of things on my own with the kids, including lots of balancing and lots of decisions.  And I've done just fine, TYVM.

When I finally worked my way around to a better understanding of out-of-the-norm parenting (ok, it only took a few months, not forever! I'm a smart cookie!), I felt totally empowered. I'll bet that's how actual single moms feel when they work their way around to knowing that they *can* handle things on their own, and quite well at that.

What say you, actually and part-time single moms?

*New blog project: Called "The Officer's Wife", it will deal with issues unique to families of police officers and other emergency service workers.  I'm targeting it to fill a perceived gap - there are a million billion resources (much needed!!  bravo!!) for military families who deal with year-long deployments 3-4-5 times in a 20 year career, but pretty near to zero resources for emergency service works who spend half their days of the year, every year, working in the service of others and often in dangerous situations.  I'll announce a "Grand Posting" soon!

New Year, New Blog Resolve

Have you ever started a project and then after awhile, it just...fizzles?

Happens to me all the time.

I don't know, maybe having multiple kids, multiple lines of work, and more interests than brain cells causes that.

For some reason, it seems like I get tunnel-vision on projects.  One year, I'll attack blogging gung-ho-get-out-the-way.

Another, I'll focus on other projects, still writing, but somewhere else.

I *hate* that.

And I *love* blogging.

So in 2011, you'll be seeing a lot more of me, and I hope to reconnect with a lot more of you parents who were my bloggy buddies for so long!

Happy New Year,

Frazzled Mommy