February…How Do I LOVE Thee? (A Musical Countdown to Valentine’s Day)

Love is…an unexpected Sonic Coke (delivered), just when you need it most.  –me

DISCLAIMER:  I am not a man-hating, love-skeptic, Lifetime-movie-watching scorned type of woman.  Really.  And I’m not anti-Valentine’s Day out of a series of rotten relationships or man troubles.  (Rather, I’ve been the recipient of some truly wonderful and sentimental Valentine’s Day gifts from some sweet gentlemen callers over the years.)  Yet, I’m just not big into the Valentine thing.  The idealist in me believes that we should love each other (and act like we love each other) every single day, no holiday necessary.  The realist in me wonders why we spend so much time, energy and money picking out that special something only for that special someone to psychologically dissect it in a thousand different ways.  Uggghh.  It just feels like an unnecessary merry-go-round.  It doesn’t help much that Valentine’s Day lands smack in the middle of February—my least favorite month.

So this year I decided to approach the whole thing differently.  I’m going to start loving February.  As part of my cup half full approach, I vow to jump in with both feet and embrace the whole Valentine thing with my own custom list of Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul.  Ambitious?  Yes!  Bold?  Absolutely!  Crazy?  You betcha!  Pointless?  On just about every level.  Regardless, let’s give it a go—I mean it’s February and how else am I going to get through the coldest, bleakest, cloudiest, shortest (and longest at the same time) month on the calendar.  Let the countdown to Valentine’s Day begin!  I (gritting teeth) LOVE February, how about YOU?

Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul:  Song 1

What a fun, upbeat look at love!  Great metaphors.  Quirky and fun lyrics.  Reminds me of new love…such excitement Song 1and intensity coupled with uncertainty and hesitation.  It’s that point in a relationship where you say look I want to make you my number one, are you with me?  We’ve all been there.  It’s the moment of truth:  Will you let me lean on you?  Carry the weight without complaining about the burden?  Appreciate the good and the bad…let me be a source of joy in your life.  Pull your honey close and move to this one.  BTW…pay attention to the shadows in the video.

Coming Up:  

Love Songs to Melt Your Heart and Move Your Soul:  Song 2

My World According to George Strait

I’m usually in the mood right after dinner.  Something about a full belly, a mountain of dishes, left overs sealed in GladWare, and disinfecting the counter tops seems to put me in a George Strait state of mind.  There’s nothing like classic George when you feel like singing at the top of your lungs while your heart breaks into a thousand pieces as you simultaneously two-step with a broom…the occasional teardrop running down your cheek.  Good times 🙂

imaginary george fan photo

My imaginary fan meet up with George Strait. Hope Martina doesn’t mind that I inserted my face over hers in this photo!

I don’t think anyone would classify me as a country music fan…although there were a few years in the mid-nineties where I “walked the line.”  Okay, I’ll confess—I had a hat at the time, but it was just for the Little Texas concert at the county fair!  My get-up was technically faux cowgirl…you know, trendy “booties” instead of real ropers, but I never went as far as having a belt buckle or Wrangler jeans.  I did have a few radio presets dedicated to the local country music station at age 18, but all of it faded away just as quickly as it set in.  Yet somehow, I managed to fall (and stay) in love with George Strait.  And back in the day, I would have donned all that western wear, moved to Texas and developed a real southern drawl just for him.  I mean, if I was ever going to go for a cowboy…it would have had to have been him—because if you’re gonna love a cowboy, why not love one who can sing?

While clearing the kitchen table and belting out a little George, the thought occurred to me—almost every song reminds me of a place in time.  Memories, days gone by, people who I know and have known.  It appears that several of his tunes have served as the soundtrack to many different seasons in my life.  Crushes, first love, long drives, adventure, good times and bad.  Right or Wrong, Fool Hearted Memory, A Fire I Can’t Put Out…seem to speak to times of young love and the intense feelings that often come with those first break ups and let downs.  It was like George was the only one in the world who knew exactly how I felt!  Then there were catchy tunes like The Fireman that remind me of KU and driving home with my roommate Sara in her hot, little red car.  You Can’t Make a Heart Love Somebody, Easy Come, Easy Go, and Write This Down mark times where I learned important lessons about moving on and trusting God’s plan in both life and relationships.  Twangy feel good music like Am I Blue always make me want to dance the day away.  And two of my favorites–The Chair and All My Ex’s Live in Texas remind me of my parents–especially my dad’s band and concerts in the park downtown on summer evenings.

Unlike my other music phases, my George fanaticism began at a young age.  I remember hearing George in the background while I learned to sew at my Grandma’s house.  His songs seemed to play non-stop the first time I visited the great state of Texas (not to mention every time that I’ve ever stepped foot there.)  George rode shot-gun with my best friend, Amy and I on our great Tulia, TX adventure in college.  Later, his music again played on the radio appropriately setting the stage for a trip to Nashville.  And it was George who traveled with me when I moved from Kansas to California.  He was my cowboy companion as I cruised the interstate…thank goodness for a cassette player with auto-reverse!  I laughed out loud while listening to Ocean Front Property in Arizona…scoping the horizon for his imaginary piece of real estate as I neared Phoenix.  One song after another served as the backdrop to beautiful countryside and endless highway.  And it was Heartland that later satisfied my soul when I found myself homesick for family and friends back in the Midwest.  Other songs like Carrying Your Love with Me and I Cross My Heart remind me of true love, family values, and faith in God.

I know I’m not the only one with memories like these.  And it’s been equally as fun to introduce my children to George’s music.  His CD 50 Number Ones was on our vacation playlist as we traveled through Denver, Cheyenne, Salt Lake City, Lake Tahoe and finally into the San Francisco Bay area a few summers ago.  They claim not to like him…but one glance in the rear view mirror and it’s hard not to notice them singing along.  Just tonight my son belted out three songs in a row as he wandered into the kitchen asking aloud, “How do I know every single word?”  My daughter rolls her eyes when I bust out a little George in the car on the way home from basketball games.  Yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if someday George Strait makes his way onto their playlists.  I imagine them sheepishly trying explain to their friends that these songs remind them of their mom and childhood!  Better yet, I’d love to hear their take on the little ditty I call my “ultimate George Strait life song”—Ace in the Hole.  They frequently give me the oddest looks when I tell them that there’s a life lesson in that song that will serve them well…if they just pay attention.  Sure, Mom…sure.

While my radio presets today run the gamut from News Talk and Christian contemporary to Pop and Top 40, modern technology makes it easy enough to find George when and wherever the mood strikes.  I don’t have any crazy aspirations of ever meeting George Strait.  In fact, it’s probably better this way.  I’ve been lucky enough to see him in concert twice and I’m good with that.  As for me, our occasional kitchen-after-dinner meet-ups will continue to suffice, especially since they’ve been going on for years.  Besides…who would two-step with the broom if George and I  didn’t have these now and again country rendezvous?

Music gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.  —Plato

10 Things You Don’t Know About Me (A Response to the Facebook Numbers Post)

Every once in a while Often, I wish that Facebook had a dislike button. I would use it. I honestly consider myself to be a nice person, but when those little posts roll around asking you to “like if…” I just want to throw something at the computer cringe . I believe this sort of thing to be some form of Facebook spam.  So whenever I see posts asking me to make comments starting with a certain letter of the alphabet or tell a story about the day we met, or for heaven’s sake that “giraffe” thing, etc…I start looking for my imaginary dislike button.   I think on some level I don’t care for these posts because I am private person and something of a control freak, and I don’t want anyone telling me how, what or why I should play along.  But, wouldn’t you just know it, it wasn’t long before I found myself enjoying these messages like everyone else.  Laughing at the quips left behind, chuckling at what a friend or family member said, the inside jokes and (I know) hold your horses…it actually became somewhat fun!  Okay, so it’s a thirty-something sort of fun, but if you’re a part of that club you know we’ll take just about any kind of fun that rolls our way 🙂

The only thing was… I wanted more.  Naturally curious, I wanted explanations to the comments I didn’t understand.  I wanted to be in the know.  And again, I didn’t want anyone to tell me what to do (as in assign me a number)….and so, drum roll please:  I decided to disclose 10 Things You Don’t Know About Me, on my own terms and with explanations.  Here it goes….

Tom Brokaw1.  As an adolescent, I had a huge crush on Tom Brokaw.

Okay, so he’s not everyone’s teenage dream, but he was mine.  So smart, knowledgable and trustworthy.  With a sweet midwestern charm and perfect hair.  He could pull off a taupe suit like no other man I know.  Sure, I was obsessed with Joey McIntyre of the New Kids on the Block and Mark Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris) from Save by the Bell, but so were all my friends.  I thought, however, I just might have a chance with Tom.  I later found out he was married to a former beauty queen!  #hopesdashed

2.  I’m a picky eater, but if my Mom is making Mexican food…I will eat right up to that point just before vomiting.

Who doesn’t think their Mom is the best cook EVER?!  My Mom is a boss in the kitchen and makes the tastiest Mexican food in the world.  As a kid, I would protest and boycott all kinds of food.  I practically lived on grilled cheese (and not the good kind–I had to make mine in the toaster!)  But when Mom made Mexican food I could actually keep up with my brothers in the packing it in department.  Now that I live away from home, I have to make the most of my visits which means eating tostadas (my ABSOLUTE favorite) to the point of nauseousness.

3.  I HAVE to sleep on the side of the bed closest to the bathroom.  ALWAYS, no exceptions.

Without going into a lot of explanation, I have a sadder bladder.  It’s not a fun thing and stress makes it worse.  So whether home or away, near the bathroom I must stay 🙂

4.  I am obsessive about cutting up the plastic ring things that hold together soda, sports drinks, etc.

I went on this crazy save the Earth kind of thing when I was in junior high.  I was pretty fanatical about chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), saving the environment, ozone and climate everything.  In some ways, I was actually before my time.  I’m not sure what started this zaniness, but it might have something to do with Earth Day being so near my birthday.  So here’s where those little plastic ring things come in…I remember seeing a video where the human race was polluting the environment so badly, that tiny, sweet little ducks and birds were getting their heads caught in those rings and dying.  (Think of that one penguin in Happy Feet!)  Absolute sadness.  Always cut the plastic ring things into microscopic pieces.  Have to.

1186_save_us_save_earth5.  I walk out of movies.

Most people figure they pay good money to see a movie and even if it’s bad, they’re going to plant themselves on that seat clear through the end.  Not me.  If it’s trash–I’m out.  If it’s violent–see you later.  If children are being hurt–goodbye.  This doesn’t just apply to movies in the theatre, I’ll walk out on a DVD any day of the week.  I once walked out of a Christian movie–and I’m a Christian.  I can be perfectly happy in a movie theatre lobby.

6.  I can’t stand the song She Drives Me Crazy by the Fine Young Cannibals.

This wretched song came out in the late 80s and was completely overplayed.  I CANNOT stand it.  I hate the video even more.  I’m not sure exactly what has caused such a vile reaction to this particular piece of music, but like it I won’t.  The only thing I like about this song is that when it comes on Pandora or my iTunes radio station, I can actually click thumbs down or (my favorite) select the NEVER PLAY THIS AGAIN option.

7.  I learned how to do the “Twist” from Chubby Checker himself!

As a reporter, I had the opportunity to have many wonderful adventures–and meet some pretty cool people.  The one person I’ll never forget is Chubby Checker.  I’m a huge fan of oldies music and I just adore the “Twist.”  Chubby was performing at a venue in southeast Missouri and agreed to be interviewed to promote his concert.  He personally taught me how to do the “Twist.”  The trick, he said, is to pretend like your stomping out a cigarette with your foot and drying off your rear end while holding a towel.  That, my friends, is the “Twist!”

8.  I have never ridden on a motorcycle.

Many moons ago there was a young man who I as smitten with who rode a motorcycle.  I sooooo wanted to ride on the back!  I thought it would be just about the coolest thing in the world.  In reality, I had just watched the movie Grease 2 way too many times and wanted a “cool rider” of my own.  However, when I had the chance–when the motorcycle and the guy were right there in front of me (offering me a ride no less) I couldn’t do it.  I actually said, “My Mom said I can’t ride on a motorcycle.”  Lost many cool points that day, but (as my Mom would put it) I am still alive and with all my own skin on.  Today, as a mother, I would actually pull my kid off a motorcycle if I had to.  #uncoolmomsrule

9. I once yelled at a guy for trying to offer me drugs.

While at a college party (in a town that was not Lawrence, mind you) a young man sauntered up to me reeking of marijuana and sporting some extremely over-sized clothing.  He started making small talk with my friend and I and in less the two minutes decided we were worthy of retreating with him into a dark alley in order to share a joint.  Maybe it was the fact that I won a SADD contest as a kid, I’m not sure, but something kicked into hyperdrive with his offer.  I am against substance abuse of any kind and this gent had completely offended my honor.  I said (at the top of my lungs), “Do I LOOK like I do drugs to you?” and proceeded to yell at him.  It was one of those screaming rants similar to that of Ralphie on the movie A Christmas Story…I got started and I just couldn’t stop.  Poor kid just slithered away.  Maybe that was an over-the-top reaction, but I take this say no to drugs thing pretty seriously.

10. I want to be a writer, as in real book author, when I grow up.

When I was a kid I used to tell stories to my brothers and sister at bedtime.  I could tell stories that would go late into the night.  We would laugh and laugh with plot changes and strange twists.  The crazier the story, the better.  I also wanted to be a teacher when I was very young (decided kids are too much work), and then wanted to be a lawyer for about a week (couldn’t stand the thought of defending someone who I knew was guilty.)  Next, I wanted to be an author.  The dream seemed too big…so I set my sights on becoming a journalist instead!  I have yet to write a book, but the urge is still there.  And maybe, just maybe when I grow up–I’ll do something about it!

It’s funny (figuratively and literally) what we find out about each other when we simply “play” the game.  Thank you Facebook friends for sharing and for indulging me in “my version” of the game as well.

The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.  Wayne Dyer

Just Might Be a Cool Mom

I had this zany idea the other day…let’s make a snow day Harlem Shake video–and upload it on youtube!  What? Yeah, I know. It’s not exactly the sort of thing that pops into the head of a quiet midwest Mom (sometimes I even surprise myself.)  So, how does one arrive at the idea of a snow day Harlem Shake?  Glad you asked.  Let me walk you through it.

The whole thing started when I saw the Kansas Jayhawk basketball team’s Harlem Shake video.  A die-hard Jayhawk fan, I absolutely loved it and shared it with my kids.  They liked it.  Liked it?  That’s right, they liked it as in they watched it once and moved on.  Okay.  Mmmm, maybe this Harlem Shake thing isn’t exactly cool.  But it sure was funny and I soon found myself cruising youtube looking for more Harlem Shake videos.  Before I knew it I had watched a couple dozen videos (some good, some not so good).  Eventually, I decided to turn to everybody’s favorite source for information–Wikipedia–and find out more about these videos.  Turns out it’s this big web frenzy…complete with rules and criteria like masks, costumes, wielding objects and in some cases, very little clothing!  The whole things lasts less than one minute and I thought to myself…it might be fun to make one.  Of course, I never (ever) thought we actually would–but Mother Nature had a better plan.

Enter the big midwest snow storm!  Wednesday’s light snow and modest accumulations  (mixed with the weatherman’s doomsday overnight forecast) led us to cancel Wednesday night activities at church.  A relaxed night of Jayhawk basketball ensued (LOL that game was anything but relaxing!)  Word that school was cancelled for Thursday made room for a laid back morning and an additional 5 inches of snow created opportunities for some outdoor fun.  We could have headed to the backyard to build a snowman (I like snowmen), but blame it on the Jayhawks victory, their funny Harlem Shake video and the rare occurrence of a well-rested Mom and an idea was born.  I announced my plans over lunch.  No one was as excited as I was. 

I headed to the basement to gather some props.  I explained the “rules” of the video to the kiddos and swore that it would take 5 minutes or less to create.  Still, no one moved.  I bribed them with the promise of hot cocoa and extra play time in the snow that afternoon.  They were slow to get moving, grumbled all the way out the door, and gave me blank stares when I directed them into the yard.  My son complained that the whole thing was embarrassing (and he’s an EXTROVERT) while my daughter moped and sulked in the snow.  Three minutes later we were done and they were FREE!  They couldn’t get to their friends fast enough and I was left feeling like the “uncool” Mom with the “uncool” idea of making a Harlem Shake video. 

Fast forward to later that afternoon.  The video had been edited and uploaded.  I asked the kids to come see the finished product.  The smile that crept across their faces was priceless.  My children are hams at heart and love to see themselves on any screen.  They giggled.  They asked me to play it again.  They laughed at themselves, laughed at each other and of course, laughed at their parents.  I linked the video to my Facebook page and we laughed together throughout the day as family and friends liked and commented on our video. 

We were surprised this morning to see that our video had more than 60 views on youtube…for today’s “plugged in” kids that’s a pretty big deal.  Our snow day Harlem Shake video was the buzz at the only hill in town worth sledding on–which means… this little family project just might be labeled a success, that as parents we aren’t that lame and out of touch and finally, that for once (yes once),  I just might be a cool Mom.

No one in this world will ever love you like your Mom.   author unknown

They Keep Taking Away All My Fun :(

So, I live in Kansas.  I was born and raised in Kansas.  I have heard ALL of the Dorothy jokes.  I like the movie, so what?  I have been teased about the Wizard of Oz in every other state that I’ve lived in.  And I still get teased whenever we travel.  I’m okay with all of it…really, but it wasn’t until today that I realized that maybe, just maybe, I might be as naive as the girl in the ruby-red slippers.

Where do I begin?  I grew up in a small town.  I’m pretty trusting, but I never considered myself gullible.  I dreamed of living in a big city and most of my wardrobe is black, the standard “big city uniform.”  I enjoy wearing oversized, Hollywood-style sunglasses.  I was under the impression that I talked a pretty good game.  I thought that I could reasonably hang in any city, look the part and everything.  But apparently, you can’t cover naiveté with a trench coat.  Because over the last few months I have been slowly finding out that all of my favorite things aren’t what they seem and it’s starting to take the wind out of my sails.  BTW, Google and metrolyrics are no longer my friends.

First, my husband tells me that “Hotel California” by the Eagles is a song about Satanism.  What?????  I thought it was about an old hotel on the West Coast.  I could picture it in my mind’s eye.  Some weary traveler happens across what he/she thinks is an oasis hotel right on the beach…and sure it isn’t picture perfect (I sort of thought the service there sounded kinda bad), but the person checked in any way and wrote a song about their stay.  Right?  Wrong.  Song ruined.  How can I listen to it without thinking that a horrible evil is slowly penetrating my soul with each guitar chord.  Uuuggghhh!  There’s a whole section of my mp3 player that is no longer usable.

Oh, the bubble-busting didn’t end there.  Next, I find out that one of my favorite songs from the nineties is about being addicted to meth.  What??????  Semi-Charmed Kind of Life (Third Eye Blind) is about drugs!  I let my kids listen to that song!!!!  That was “my song” the year it came out.  I practically wore that single out when I moved two states away to start a new job right after college graduation.  That’s supposed to be a “coming of age” song.  That’s supposed to be an upbeat, positive song about life.  But, no–it’s not.  It’s about drugs and drug addiction.  How is a girl who once yelled at a guy for offering her pot at a party (I believe my exact words were, “Do I look like someone who does drugs to you?”) end up liking a song like that?  Answers, I want answers.

My mother used to tell me to listen carefully to songs that I liked…especially if I planned to sing them aloud at some point.  I thought I had learned my lesson when she about drove our car off the road after I started singing Bel Biv DeVoe’s “Do Me” (I was in high school at the time.)  In fact, I so thought that I had learned that lesson that I frequently read my kid’s the riot act over some of their favorite songs.  So now on top of having all my fun ruined, I’m a hypocrite, too.  Thank you, Pop Culture for making me out to be a complete dork.

My trusting nature isn’t limited to just music.  I couldn’t be that lucky.  Apparently, I am naive in the television and movie arena as well.  One of my all-time favorite movies is Breakfast at Tiffany’s.  Yep, I thought it was a sweet, little love story, with a hilarious upstairs neighbor and a super-cool party scene…but, turns out it’s the story of a high-price escort in New York who hooks up with a “kept” man.  I can’t write that under my list of favorite movies at the next church mixer, can I?  Nor can I tell you how often I have come to adore some actor/actress on TV only to find out that they’re VERY good at their job and their real life personas will quickly make your jaw drop.

This morning I read that the Ukraine is banning SpongeBob SquarePants and the Teletubbies.  According to them, SpongeBob is gay (aren’t sponges supposed to be asexual?) and the Teletubbies model a “loser” mentality.  I was beside myself.  I’m a SpongeBob fan.  “Pizza Delivery” is my favorite episode.  Besides, I thought that Sandy Cheeks was SpongeBob’s girlfriend!  To top it all off, my daughter LOVES the Teletubbies…now I have to deal with the guilt of exposing her to “loserness.”  Great.

So this is me, admitting it.  Struggling to become one with my obvious simplemindedness.  I am naive…and no amount of red shoe clicking is going to undo what I now know.  The great and powerful Oz has been revealed.  Look for my picture in the dictionary under

naive:  1.having or showing unaffected simplicity; unsophisticated; ingenuous.2.having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; credulous: She’s so naive she believes everything.