That Person

I’ve become that person.

I’m not exactly sure what elements in my life have banded together to create this person that I have become but I think living in third world countries and being a single mother have certainly contributed.

Long story short: Last night I took my iPad to a kiosk in the mall to be repaired. Over the summer the glass got stepped on, broke and I subsequently tried to fix it at home. Bad idea – I messed up the wifi receptor and had to have it replaced.

After being thoroughly rebuked by 16 year old Ron at the kiosk, “In the future, never try to fix this at home.”  I was given a quote of $65 to replace the wifi thingy and to clean off some remaining adhesive and restick the glass. Thirty minutes to fix.

Thirty minutes later he hadn’t even started. I had all four kids with me. In the mall. sephThey had already raided Sephora and were covered in make-up. Loads of kid homework and exhaustion were looming at home. The best decision seemed to be: go home and pick up the repaired iPad the next morning. Young Ron said that was fine and that, no, I did not need a receipt.

This morning when I returned to pay, a different man charged me $75 for the job. $75. WHAT! I was quoted $65. The man talked to the kiosk owner on the phone again and again but the owner refused  to budge on the price.

There was nothing left for me to do but wait. I was told the boss would be there in person in 20 minutes. *I seriously considered plopping down $70 in cash ($65 + 7% sales tax) and taking my iPad and leaving. If he said anything I was going to reply, “Arrest me!” and walk off. But the ATM only gave out $20s.*

I knew the owner wouldn’t be there in twenty. Still, I stood right there in front of the guy at the kiosk for 20 minutes. He became increasingly uncomfortable. Then I waited 10 more minutes and when the guy still would not charge me $65 for the repair, although I asked him, I spoke to a security guard and asked where I could make a complaint.

$10

I want my ten dollars!

While I was writing out the complaint at Guest Services, the owner finally arrived. He had kept me, a customer, waiting for 40 minutes. For $10. The owner then called Ron and asked how much he had quoted me the night before (wait, couldn’t the boss have done this 40 minutes ago?) The owner hung up and charged me $65.

I own my own business. The amount of money that I could have made in those 45 minutes at the mall had I been working is MORE than the $10 I was fighting for. I actually lost money. But, you see,  I have become that  person. I knew I was being scammed. The owner of the kiosk assumed that I would grumpily pay the extra $10 in order to move on with my life. He was wrong.

He had no earthly idea that he was dealing with that person, although he probably has a more colorful name for me.

I suppose Single motherhood, Being a woman and Vast experience overseas in bargaining and rip-off techniques have formed me in to that person. I stood up for my ten dollars. I stood up for all our ten dollars. In the end, I felt really good.

Kind of silly that I just wrote about my “Good Morning” Mission yesterday. Oh well,  you can follow the crazy on bloglovin’

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The “Good Morning” Mission

walk 3

On clear days when I walk westward I get a view of the skyline of Philadelphia.

I love walking in the morning. My town has a marvelous, 2 mile “bike trail” running right through the center of it. It was built to cover the old railroad tracks no longer in use, so it truly does – run right through the center of town.

walk 1

No matter what the weather or which direction I’m walking, I do enjoy my little path.

Since writing my post, Everyone is Friendlier than People from New JerseyI’ve been more determined to greet passersby as I walk on the path or am out and about. In a sense, it has become My Mission.

Everyday as I walk the path I make an effort to say, “Good Morning” to the people I pass. This is a lot more awkward than you’d think it would be.

I once passed an old gentleman from behind and as I was lapping him I greeted him with a warm, “Good Morning.” I walked to the end of the path, swiveled around and started heading back East. A few minutes later the old gentleman and I passed again, this time we were walking toward each other. When he saw me his face brightened and he said an enthusiastic, “Gut Morningh” with a heavy accent and a smile.

I don’t think he recognized me from the front, and although this could have been a somewhat awkward situation, my heart was gladdened to think that my initial “Good Morning” to him a few minutes earlier had created a positive chain reaction. 

I said it to him and then he said it to me. And I’m OK with that.

I take My Mission seriously but the following is a list of people that I Do Not say “Good Morning” to:

  • Dog walkers whose dogs are in the middle of a poop. (This happens more often than you can imagine.) I figure these people must be humiliated enough watching their dogs take a dump and probably are wishing for invisibility. I sure would be. Therefore, out of consideration for their remaining shreds of dignity, I walk right by without a greeting and pretend to see nothing.
  • People with ear-buds in. This is a struggle. I want to say “Good Morning” but I know they can’t hear me. I try to make eye contact and smile instead.
  • People I’ve already passed once and already greeted. Awkward. I don’t make eye contact
    weird me

    mini half-mouth smile

    until I am a few feet from them and then I look over for just the teensiest instant and flash them a mini half-mouth smile. I have this down to an art form. It means, I acknowledge you. We passed and greeted each other 9 minutes ago. In fact, we pass and greet each other this way every day. I’m on A Mission, you see.

  • Groups of people walking together in conversation. What is the etiquette here? Do I interrupt? I’m 50/50 on this one.

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I Named My Daughter After a Barbie Movie

If you have girl children you are probably aware of the World of Barbie Movies.

Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper

Barbie: Fairytopia

Barbie Fairytopia: Mermaidia

Barbie as the Island Princess

Barbie in ‘A Christmas Carol’

The list goes on and on. The premise is the same, Barbie, an actress, is playing these various rolls and therefore she is not known as “Barbie” but by some other name in the movie.

12 bIn 2006 a movie, “Barbie in the 12 Dancing Princesses” arrived in India as a Christmas gift from my mother to my two (at that time) daughters. Barbie is playing the third oldest of the twelve sisters who falls in love with her cobbler (the guy who makes her shoes). Spoiler: They get married. It could totally happen.

For two months Barbie and her eleven sisters danced across our TV screen until February when we packed up the little girls and traveled to the US to give birth to Baby #3.

     Indian culture demands a boy child and, after two female children, hopes were high that Baby #3 would be a BOY. It is illegal in India for an ultrasound technician or Doctor to reveal the sex of a baby to the parents (- too many female children aborted. Sad, true story.) Later, by the time I had an ultrasound in the US I was past 36 weeks and it was difficult for the American technician to determine the sex of Baby #3.
    Up until this point, my husband had forbidden me to discuss or even think of girl names for Baby #3, I suppose he thought we would jinx it. Therefore, as my due date loomed near, we had not a single name for a girl child.
     Although the technician could not definitively determine baby #3’s sex, she did say that she was 75% sure the baby was a girl. This was enough for me to push for a girl name discussion on the drive home. The husband was amiable and never really minded having girls and he immediately suggested “Jennifer.”
    Ack! I am a child of the 80s! Jennifer is a great name but sadly OVER used in the era of my youth and I could not help but recoil from the name (my sincerest apologies to any Jennifers or Jennifer mothers reading this – I’m just keeping it real.)  However, being the compromising sort I immediately offered the name, “Genevieve” for consideration.
     Genevieve had never been on my Baby Name List before that moment but it just popped out and it was still “Jen” and I liked it. A lot.
      So did he. A few weeks later we held a precious 8lb Genevieve in our arms.Gen
  Three months later we packed up our growing family and returned to our Indian home. It wasn’t long until Barbie was once again dancing across our TV screen.
     I distinctly remember standing in the kitchen of our little house one evening and overhearing the sounds of the TV in the other room.
     “Genevieve…” one of the movie characters said. Huh? What? I rushed into the living room.
      It was true.
    I had named my child after Barbie’s character in Barbie in the Twelve Dancing Princesses. And I didn’t even know it. Subliminally the name must have been circulating in my head for months, waiting to for its chance. Sigh. As humiliating as this confession is, I do LOVE the name Genevieve and I wouldn’t change it if I could. I suppose I should thank Barbie, not just for delivering such a great name, but also for saving me from a Jennifer.
     Thank you Barbie.
  In a side note of more weirdness, my oldest daughter’s name is “Eve.” It took me a whole year before I realized the connection. Genevieve and Eve. Sigh. Duh. Sigh again. Yes, it’s weird. Yes, it gets confusing around the house – which one am I calling…  I have no excuse. 
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    (I apologize for the horrid formatting and lack of paragraph spacing – WordPress is freaking out on me. 😦  )

29 Forever? Not Hardly.

Ending my 41st trip around the sun isn’t so bad. Last year on this date I entered my fortieth year with a pretty good attitude. Forty-one certainly can’t be any worse than Forty!

3 things 1

The following three people were all born in 1973 (like me) and they look fabulous. I decided as long as they’re looking good and rocking their forties – so will I.

3 fabs

Aishwarya Rai BachchanNovember 1, 1973. Miss World, Bollywood Actress, Gorgeous

Andrew LincolnSeptember 14, 1973. Actor. I want to meet him and ask him to say, “Caaaarl.” I would like that.

Heidi KlumJune 1, 1973. Model, Project Runway Host, Businesswoman

For whatever reason, knowing Ash, Andy, Heidi and I are all the same age makes me feel great. And that’s enough for me. I’m easy like that.

3 things 2

My bucket list included:3 b

Learning to SewDONE!

Getting First Aid Training and CertificationDONE!3 b1

Learning How to Shoot a GunStill pending  😦  (I have the money set aside, I just haven’t gotten around to it – yet. Dang it.)3 b2

2 things 3

Disney Cruise (OK, this is for the kids, but I want it too)

Water Painting/Pen and Ink Classes (My all time favorite medium to work in, it’s been almost 25 years, but I’m ready to pick it up again.)

Attend the Opera (I’ve never been, but I desperately want to go – if I can find someone to go  with me, or even better, take me.)

The End. 🙂

PS – Everyone knows it’s not about what number you are, it’s all about what number you look like…   😉

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In Days Before

I was talking to an African woman while in line at the Indian supermarket the other day (true story). I’m not sure what started it, but we began wondering how stymied people would be these days if their smart phones were suddenly unavailable or unusable.

I am writing this post on the day before my 41st birthday. Not so old. Not so young. Born in 1973 I have been witness to life with TV (only 5 channels that you had to actually get up and turn the nob to change) and life with Netflix. I remember a time before cellphones and I was at least 30 before I had my very own. I even remember life before push button phones. od rotaryDial a number, wait (chug chug chug as it came back around) dial another number… There was no speed dial – no Yelping a restaurant or Googling a hairdresser and then just touching the number on the screen to have it dial for you. You took your finger, put it in the hole and pulled that dial around and around and around.  Seven times for local.

I was born after humans landed on the moon, during the Vietnam War and before Germany was once again, just – Germany. Not so old and not so young. I’ve seen a lot come and I’ve seen some things go. I stood there in line with an armful of Indian snacks listening to this older woman recount the wonder of the first time she saw an airplane in the late 1960s and the first time, as a young woman, she was allowed to speak on a telephone. She shouted because she thought they would hear her better.

I nodded my head like I knew what that was like. I didn’t.

Airplanes were flying over my house long before I was born and I cannot recall a time without a telephone, rotary or not, because to me, they always just were.

od pizzaod bagelI’ve often heard my father say, “Have I ever told you about the first time I ate pizza? They called it ‘Tomato Pie’ and…” It was at a rolling concession stand at a county fair in the early fifties. My Aunt Carol still remembers her first experience eating a real bagel. I’m reminded, for some, there was a time before pizza and bagels.

I have a vivid memory of the exact place I ever tasted (or even heard of) Ranch dip. Yes, Ranch. There actually was a time before Ranch seasoning – and I remember it.

I’m not old, but I feel just old enough to nod my head and murmur in agreement when someone a little older reminisces about the days before. I remember those days, maybe not the exact old days, but I do remember what it was like in days before.

***

What astounds you that you remember about days before?

 

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Hold this.

Standing in a crowded room trying to have a conversation with the woman in front of me about Room Moms and what must be done, I feel a little someone bump into my arm.

“Mom, can you hold this?” She says, holding up an enormous stuffed dog she bought at IKEA.

“No. You brought it, you hold it. I don’t hold your stuff.”gdog

Two minutes later I glance down at my hands and see that not only am I holding a large stuffed dog, but also a water bottle, coloring book and pencil.

Hold on a minute… how did this happen? How does this always happen?

Five-Minute-Friday-4

This post was inspired by Five Minute Friday: Hold. Link up here. 🙂

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Sit Up and Spit

A little over a year ago Dental was added to my Health Insurance; apparently it was just snuck it in there because I didn’t know about it until last month. I suppose if I actually read the yearly manuals I might have known sooner.

So it came to be, yesterday, after a hiatus of three years, I paid a visit to my dentist. According to her, my gums bleed too much and I need to floss. Twice a day.

Can I be real honest? I hate brushing my teeth. Don’t get me wrong, I hate my stinky, nasty morning mouth more, so I brush first thing every day. But I don’t have to like it. Word on the street is, you’re supposed to brush twice a day. At least. And floss. Twice! ai yi yi…

More brutal honesty: The only way I brush more than once a day is if I have a date.

With a real live man. Period. I’ll even Listerine for that.

sigh.

rang highBack to the Dentist. As I lounged in the chair with the suction tube hanging out of the corner of my mouth, I reminisced about the good old days at the dentist. Back when the dentist was literally on the corner of the next block over and I walked myself there with a signed check from my parents in my hand. This was way back, before People and US or iPhones. In those days I read Highlights and Ranger Rick in the waiting room, which doubled as the basement of the Dentist’s family home.

In those days there was no spit sucker hanging out of your mouth, you had to sit up and spit after each section of your mouth was scraped and polished.

dentistSit up. Spit into a tiny porcelain sink. (That white mini-faucet just ran and ran and ran…) Drink from your little paper cup and rinse out every last bit of that gritty pink paste.

I miss the sit up and spit. I liked seeing what the dentist was digging out of there.

 

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10 Things I Don’t Say

I recently read an interesting blog article,

10 th

You can find the original article here. I found it thought provoking, mainly because my own experience is much different from the author’s.

(Spoiler: It’s never crossed my mind to say (or think) most of these – fear of judgment or not.)

1. “Your words hurt.” I have never experienced a person saying something to me in regard to my single parent state that was intentionally mean or hurtful. I have been saddened and hurt by words, but the intention behind the words was never hurtful. Words that hurt, hurt because they touch an open wound. A “Daddy-Daughter Dance” is a lovely thing, but when your daughter doesn’t have a Daddy to attend with, those words hurt, even though the words themselves were never ever intended for that purpose.

2. “We will freak out if you ever refer to our kids as ‘baggage.’”   No one has ever referred to my children as “baggage.” Ever. People really say that to single parents?

However, I do agree with the dating piece of the author’s point, and I would/will say this. Don’t date me if you are unsure of the “whole kids thing. Just. Don’t.

3. “We’re not rich.” Ha! I doubt that anyone even assumes that we are. And I do not receive child support.

4. “There will always be some “drama” with our kid’s other parent, if they’re around.” My children’s other parent is not around, so our drama level is way low.

5. “We feel isolated and lonely.” This is a hard one. Yes, absolutely, Single Moms are in a world of their own. I agree that connecting with like moms, single or married is key. News flash, there are married  moms out there who feel isolated and lonely. I’m thankful to work in an office with my parents and brother; if I didn’t, I would definitely feel more isolated and lonelier. But, I also believe isolation and loneliness are situations that, under most circumstances, we can change. Conclusion: Occasionally, on a cold, dark night I have felt isolated and lonely, but in the warm light of day, it rarely crosses my mind.

6. “We worry constantly that we aren’t doing a good enough job.” Absolutely not. I don’t worry, and definitely not about this. The reason: I have Christ in my life and He loves my children even more than I do. How could I worry about my  job of raising them when I have the God of the Universe sticking it out and walking with me? I trust Him. Worry is futile.

7. “We aren’t very much fun.” Huh. How many married people with children are super fun? Really. Come on, be honest. By our mid-thirties we’re already falling asleep on the couch in the middle of our favorite show. We can’t go out for coffee because it keeps us awake and we can’t drink wine because it knocks us out. This is not a single parent thing. This is a parent thing. Kids wear us out and it doesn’t matter if there are 1 or 2 or 10 parents. You know it’s true. However, I’m definitely still fun.

8. “We don’t have a strong sense of ‘self'” Yes, I do. I’m a Mother. 😉  I think I covered this in my recent post 1%. Or 5.

9. “Long before our kids could understand adult conversation, we talked to them like they could.”  I have no idea if this is true. How would I? I have no way of knowing whether I would talk in the same manner to my children if I were still married or not. I’m kind of at a loss here.

10. “Someone complimenting our kid means the world to us.” Yes. Yes. And YES! Wait, doesn’t every  parent feel this way?

Yet, In all honestly, I think it does mean more to single parents. On this point, I agree whole-heartedly with the author of the article. I think #10 is a gauge with which we can measure how well things are going in #6 . When nice things are relayed to us about our children we get a sense that:

They really are turning out OK.

Being raised by only one parent isn’t scarring them for life.

They are well-adjusted and kind and happy.

joy l

I suppose every parenting journey, married, single or other, is unique. The paths of our lives rarely lead where we expected. I latch on to the joy that is found in the brief moments that build our days. Eventually, they will build a lifetime.

cwj 3Isn’t that exactly what this blog is all about?

I’ve been a single parent of four children for three & a half years.

 

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1%. Or 5.

The kids and I watched the movie, Blended, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore the other night.

blended_movie_poster_wallpaper

While it was showing in the theaters I saw that it didn’t receive great reviews but we figured that for a Friday night family movie, it was worth a try. This Is Not a movie review post, but I will say that we, kind and uncritical people, loved it and my kids want to own it. For a single parent, like myself, it was hauntingly accurate and funny; as well as being funny and sweet and, did I mention, laugh-out-loud funny? (Disclaimer: it does contain the regular dosage of Sandler crudeness, but mostly in brief spurts.)

On to the purpose of the post… At one point in the movie Sandler & Barrymore are agreeing that, as parents, you must give your kids 100% of yourself. They finally agree to 99%, with 1% withheld for the Parent’s personal wants.

If you are a parent, especially a single parent, you are probably shrugging your shoulders in reluctant agreement; or , possibly, you don’t agree at all. My own children have not seen their father in over 3 and half years. He calls them about six times a year. What I’m saying is, sometimes parents – peace out. Even my own daughter disagreed with the 1% thing.

“Mom, I don’t think that what they said in the movie is right. It’s not 1%, I think it’s more like 5%.”

Okay. I’ll buy that. Yet, is it really possible that 95-99% of our time goes to our children? Do we really only have 5% (or less) of ourselves and our time to pursue our own interests?

Let’s explore this. This weekend my colleagues are traveling to MN for a three-day conference. I would have liked to attend. My colleagues also would have liked for me to attend. But I won’t be attending. – Because I am a single mother. I have four children. And no one to watch them for that many nights.

On the other hand, I am glad that I am not going because it frees up my weekend, because if  I were gone my children would have missed a birthday party (or I would have had to arrange transportation.) I would miss a meeting after church about youth group, (which is important to me.) I would have missed all kinds of important things. And ALL of them kid-related. 

Do you see what I am saying? – even the HIGH points about not being able to attend the conference this weekend are positive because they benefit my children

That 99% is starting to seem a lot more realistic.

For single parents, is there time and room in our lives for romance? Apparently so. At least it seems so in the movies. I haven’t found it true in my own life, but then again I often say, there is a Whole Lot of Female Awesomeness  in this family. It would have to be a special man to be willing to blend in some of that.

What about activities, hobbies, free time? I suppose I have that. I do love to write. Then again, my kids influence my writing – a lot. (eh hem – this whole post and most of what I write.) I like to crochet – generally scarves and beanies – for my kids. Occasionally, I create other things, especially around Christmas, that usually end up as gifts, for teachers, of my children… Hmmmm.

I go to the movies alone sometimes…

Before you start getting all poor Rebecca on me consider, when I left my husband I asked God for my children. Nothing else. Not a portion of our five bedroom/five bathroom home, our lucrative business, vehicles, land, savings, or anything else. We left him (I write a bit about why here and a little bit here) and carried away with us a single suitcase. Eleven years of living. Five people. One suitcase.

The rest of the possessions were, and still are, his.

Hear this: I Totally Got the Better End of That Deal.

Imagine a scale that weighs everything left behind or unrealized in my life on one side and my children seated on the other side. Yeah, no comparison. None.

I asked my chubby little seven year old tonight if she liked watching movies with us on Family Movie Night and she shrugged her shoulders and said, “I just like ‘nuggling with you.”

I’m delighted with my 1%. Or 5.

And hey, it’s not going to be 99% forever, right? They do grow up, don’t they…?

me writer

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I Blame the Mummies

My 11 yr old child: “I don’t know what I’m going to be.”

Me: “Good, I’m glad you brought this up. Healthcare. Healthcare is the field to go into. There will be more healthcare jobs needed in the coming years than any other profession- doctors, nurses, all kinds of practitioners. Right now is the time you need to start thinking about these kinds of careers. OR you can be a Coach. Not a sports Coach, a Coach who coaches CEOs of large companies and helps them achieve more in their professional and personal lives. This field is exploding right…”

My  bewildered child: “Huh? What? I’m talking about Halloween.”

Me: “oh.”

It’s recently become clear to me that I had no clue about the real world as a young person. I had direction, but no guidance. I blame no one. It’s not anyone’s fault but my own. You see, I didn’t ask for guidance. It never occurred to me to seek out council. At 9 years old on a class trip to UPENN Art & Archaeology Museum I decided to be an Archaeologist. It was the mummies. The mummies got to me.

I take it back. I blame the mummies.

Mummy-UpperClassEgyptianMale-SaitePeriod_RosicrucianMuseum

Twelve years and 90-some thousand dollars later I held a Classical & Near Eastern Archaeology Degree in my hot little hand but had now decided not to pursue my doctorate (like I ever was gonna). I had a new direction for my life. I was going to become a foreign missionary.

I’m not talking about regret today, I’m talking about zipping happily through this life without a clue and not stopping to ask for one.

I suppose now, at 40, my eyes are finally opening to how things work. I’m passionate about guiding my children in ways I never was – whether they ask for it or not.

Now that I think of it, dressing as a mummy for Halloween isn’t such a bad idea…

mummy2

 

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