It's my life and I love it...most of the time.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I recently spent almost an entire week, almost entirely unplugged from the world. After writing that, it sounds a little ridiculous. I started today’s blog thinking how unplugged I was during our girls trip this summer. As I typed it out, I realized that while I felt completely unplugged, I still used some modern technology.

I chose not to have access to a computer. Granted, the dial-up at my parent’s house didn’t make that too difficult, I could have used one at one of the hotels. And I heard a rumor that if I sat in my car, parked strategically at various locations in my parent’s town, I could have connected wirelessly with my laptop.  I had one texting conversation with my daughter who found a new job.  I had one conversation with my husband, one with my doctor’s office, and a brief one with my dad using my cell phone. And we watched a little TV in the evening, while recuperating from the heat of sightseeing. In today’s world, that could very well be classified as unplugged.

Thirty years ago, we didn’t have any idea of what being plugged in would mean or how it would affect our world. Like many things, we forget how good that really was for us, and choose to ignore what unplugged did for us. We were more active, our children did not have constant contact with peers to tell them they don’t “have to put up with that” when there is a problem with their parents, and we used our brains differently.

I do not pretend that I am not plugged in way too much. And a trip with little plugged in time only presented my need to unplug more often. I enjoyed talking, I enjoyed reading, and I enjoyed listening. I do believe technology provides tools that help modern society. Anyone who has ever been stranded in an untraveled area appreciates a cell phone. But it is up to us to gauge our usage. Rather than just existing with these devices, we must be aware of them in our lives. We must be in tune with how much we rely on them to entertain ourselves, as a communication tool so we don’t have to speak with someone, or to occupy our time in a vegetative state rather than face our problems. It is up to us to not lose touch and to show our children it can be a good thing to not let them rule our lives.

On another recent trip to Colorado, I enjoyed interacting with our friends two young daughters. They are doing an excellent job of keeping technology in check by not having public or cable television in their home. They do watch appropriate DVD’s in a limited quantity, as well as have a Wii they play on with limits. Our friends are teaching their daughters, as well as their son, how to find other meaningful activities to occupy their time, while controlling their plugged in time. Hopefully they will grow up knowing how to gauge it for themselves by these examples. For now they are growing creative minds, because they entertain themselves, rather than be entertained by technology. They make up shows and perform them, just as they did on our trip. We were entertained several evenings by one of their productions, and were even engaged by them to participate.

These are memories we will all treasure for years to come, not the movie we watched on DVD one evening after a tiring day of sightseeing. Memories we will hold in our minds, all because we were unplugged.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Small Town, America

There is something to be said for small town life. Many will argue that the city offers too much to pass up, but I would argue small town living offers too much to just dismiss it. I tried in vain to interest Roger in looking at homes in small towns rather than Wichita. But he grew up here, and could not imagine living anywhere different. Approximately 49th in the nation for population size, at just over 380,000, Wichita may not be the largest city in our country, but it does have something to offer.

I, on the other hand, had the privilege to grow up in a small town; Mulvane, Kansas. I would say Mulvane is and was pretty typical of small towns. At a population of almost 6,000 currently, and another 3,000 in the rural areas surrounding it, it had a lot to offer. This is up from about 4500 in town when I lived there. I probably didn’t appreciate it then, but I most certainly do now.

As I drove through many small towns during my travels this summer, I couldn’t help but remember all of the positives of growing up “small town”. There is a camaraderie that accompanies living in a small town that cannot be explained to a city dweller.  Everyone knows almost everyone. There is a different vibe to living in a small town, it tends to be a little more laid back and relaxed. There isn’t as much hustle and bustle. No matter where you live, you can walk to the pool in the summer.

I absolutely love going to the “You might be from Mulvane, Kansas if…” group page on Facebook. There are generations of adults who have grown up or lived in Mulvane since the 1940’s. Everyone shares the same stories; recently they have revolved around school with the beginning of the new school year. One day when I was reading on the site was especially fun. A discussion had been started about one of the local eateries. And someone posted about my mom working there and how she had taught the women how to make milk shakes. My mom is famous!  It’s great to read all of the things we have in common even if we are decades apart in age. We all have a fondness for the color green and wildcats. Everyone knows where the Witches path is.  And we all miss eating Charlies at the Dairy King.

And where else but a small town does the entire school system shut down for a day, only days after school has begun, for a city wide celebration? I’m jealous of my school yard friends that still live in “my” small town. They are walking downtown this weekend to celebrate all things Old Settlers. Many of them will be stopping by the Lion’s Club Booth to enjoy some old fashioned Charlies!  Someone eat one for me!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Music - Melodies of Our Heart

I recently found myself driving three hours home with only Cameron in the car. Being the teenager he is, he chose to sleep. I had time to reflect on many things during that drive. At one point, I pulled over to type some notes on Blog ideas into the notepad in my cell phone. My mind was running rampant with all I had experienced during my week away from home.

One thing I enjoyed was listening to the music I like. I have loaded an inexpensive MP3 player with over 600 songs. I am thankful for being able to transfer CD’s and records to this marvelous piece of modern technology. The vast majority of the songs are from my teen years as well as my early 20’s. They all evoke different feelings and memories. I love listening to the songs from those years, they remind me of spring Friday nights, riding in the car with the windows down, hair blowing, and laughing with friends.

There are also the songs such as “God Bless the USA”, by Lee Greenwood, or Toby Keith’s “American Soldier” or “Angry American” (also recognized as “Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue”). Of course there are others, and I’m sure they are not all country songs. But there is nothing like a patriotic song to get your blood running.

Then there are those that remind me of old boyfriends, I’m sure you have some of those songs yourself. It’s not that I want to think of them, but I truly liked those songs and like to listen to them now. I love Debbie Gibson’s” Lost in Your Eyes”, it is just a byproduct that I remember the boy I was dating. I can’t help it that it played on the radio constantly during that time. Don’t worry, it doesn’t bother Roger. I would tell you why, but then I would have to kill you because Roger would be mortified if I shared that detail with you.

I love being able to hear some of those more obscure songs that Roger shakes his head at when they come on. At the top of that list is Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman”. You’ve probably never heard it. If this tells you anything, I watched her perform it on Saturday Night Live, April 19, 1986. I wish I could say my memory was that good, but I googled it. Wikipedia defines her music as experimental, and I would agree. I don’t know why I like it so much, but I do!

At the opposite end of the spectrum is what you might refer to as church songs. There is nothing like listening to them on your way to church as you prepare to worship God. Or turning to them when you are frustrated, or angry, or need comfort. “Awesome God” is one of my favorites to pull up.

Classics are not all that you will find on my MP3. Sidenote: As Bowling for Soup so eloquently puts it, when did hair bands become classic rock? I am really enjoying some of today’s music and have downloaded many of them as well (does anyone buy CD’s anymore). I really enjoy Adele, specifically “Rolling in the Deep” and Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over”. 

My eclectic taste continues to grow and I try to give everything a shot. You never know what will evoke emotions. Music is one thing we can all agree on, no matter our sex, level of education, or political affiliation. Music evokes emotions in all of us. It can bring us to life, it can make us sad, or it can comfort us. I hope to always have music in my life.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Just One More Day

Almost thirteen years ago, my mother-in-law passed away after a battle with cancer. It was about this time of year that she asked the women to come and meet with her and hospice. This included her daughters and daughters-in-law. We were all included because we all loved her, she loved us, and she knew it would take all of us to get through this time. One of the things we discussed was a schedule we would follow. We would take turns coming to the house to help her.

Over the next two months, we would all care for her. We were also there to take care of my father-in-law, and support him. We talked to her, even when she didn’t make sense any longer. We loved her no matter what. We adjusted our lives to there. We came at 1:00 in the morning when needed.  I personally thought I would be there for the end. I had a need to be there for the end. Even though I was “only” a daughter-in-law, she loved me and treated me like a daughter.

And then the day came. And I wasn’t there. Because we all thought it wouldn’t be today. It broke my heart to get the call that day. I was at my children’s school volunteering. Because I never thought it would be that day. How I wished I had one more day to be there.

Because of that experience, I have tried to live the past 13 years taking advantage of every opportunity to be with the people that I care about. As my grandparents aged, I especially focused on them. I made sure that I brought the kids to see them during spring breaks. I made a tradition of leaving my scrapbook weekend retreats early to go spend the afternoon with them. I had them all to myself. We would visit about the kids, look at the work I had done, and I would bring them a treat. I cherish the memories of those visits.

I find myself realizing how much I miss knowing, that at any time, I can jump in the car and go see my Grandma. She is not there anymore to go to for comfort, to make happy, or just to reminisce with her about her life. Today as I drove home, I also realized how much easier the wishing we had one more day was, because I had chosen not to live as if there would be one more day.  I am so glad I lived the just one more days while they were happening, rather than waiting.

Recently, I found myself feeling even more that I needed to be as diligent about visiting my parents. They moved 600 miles away 8 years ago, and I try to keep the connection with my children and them partly through visiting each summer. After an especially busy year completing my degree, topped with the emotional stress of losing my grandmother, and only having one child to travel with this summer, I had decided that I was not going to go anywhere this summer. By mid-June, that idea had changed. Among other things, I could not bear the idea of disappointing my parents. I especially wanted to do something special with my mom. It only seemed natural to include my aunt, who had become a part of the annual trek to Minnesota. I chose to not lose one more day.

Just as I didn’t live with a we’ll have one more day attitude this summer, I will continue to seek out those moments that can be today, not put off for tomorrow. I don’t want to ever have to wish I had one more day.