M Day is Coming!

It’s a little over a week away – yup, Mother’s Day. Aside from the bazillion things our own moms do for us everyday, every now and then we have the privilege of crossing paths with an inspiring Mom On a Mission (ooh, that makes “MOM,” cool). 

Recently, a couple of these women have helped me see that there’s nothing more powerful than a passionate MOM, like Donna Jackson, who wanted her mentally disabled son, Ben, to have a sense of purpose and accomplishment, so she started some art classes for Ben and his friends a few years ago. Now, The Gallery Group and Art Studio partners with dozens of regional artists to provide art classes to more than 50 disabled adults, exhibiting and selling artwork from both professional and student artists. 

Then there’s NJ foster MOM, Danielle Gletow, who couldn’t stop at just helping a handful of foster children, so she started www.OneSimpleWish.org, to grant wishes for kids in foster care all over the country. 

And, can you imagine being a mom facing seemingly insurmountable challenges, like the moms in earthquake devastatedHaiti? Some of them (along with others in their communities) are working to support their families and help their communities recover by creating beautiful handmade crafts and jewelry. If you’d like your Mom’s Day gift to reach out and help them, it’s easy to do and I’ve even got a special promo to share with you. Here’s how: 

Shop the Heart Of Haiti Program from May 3 – May 8, 2011, and receive a 15% discount on Heart of Haiti and Rwanda Path to Peace products.

Use Promo Code: CLEVERGIRLS 

I was selected for this very special “CleverHaiti” opportunity by Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity. All opinions are my own.

They’re Watching You Too

They stared at me as I passed by, hundreds of pairs of tiny eyes, forlorn and unwanted, frightened about their uncertain future. Somehow, they hadn’t quite measured up to their peers, hadn’t been good enough to be chosen. And so they sit there on the shelf, deeply discounted and ashamed – the Post-Easter Peeps.

I pondered their fate as they watched me, unblinking, roll my shopping cart away. Would they be stored in some warehouse and placed back on the shelves again next year, given a second chance to end up in someone’s Easter basket, surrounded by chocolate bunnies and brightly colored jelly beans? Unlikely. 

Will they be rescued, shipped off to children around the world who will cherish their marshmallowy sweetness, without a second thought that Easter has already come and gone?  Surely they won’t be tossed into the trash, only to end up dotting our landfills, their cheery yellow peepness soiled by garbage? 

I’m hoping they’ll stage a revolt, marching off the shelves, out of the stores and into communities across the world. It could spark a whole new kind of reality TV – Survivor Peep Island,  Peeps Intervention, The Amazing Peep Race, Dancing with the Peeps…(sorry, I got carried away.)  

Suddenly I feel compelled to go back to the store and rescue some Peeps. Won’t you join me in this humanitarian (peepitarian?) mission?

Homes of the Rich and Feathered

Despite all the harsh criticism we dole out around our breakfast table concerning our small town newspaper, occasionally I actually learn something from reading it. An article in this morning’s paper had me so curious I went straight to the web for further research, only to discover that I have been totally unaware of a burgeoning national trend. 

I’m sure your community hosts various tours of homes to raise money for local charities. Often there are tours of historic homes or homes decked out for Christmas. It’s a great opportunity to get inside houses you can normally only gawk at from the outside. Some communities also have garden tours, allowing you a glimpse into the sort of gardening perfection that most of us will never achieve. 

And now, friends, there is something new and exciting in the world of community tours. Backyard chicken coop tours — Tour D’Coop,  Tour de Coops, Tour de Cluck. (Go ahead, read it again if you need to.) Along with efforts to be greener, to promote sustainable everything and to recycle as much as possible, lots of folks are now raising chickens so they can enjoy fresh eggs. Rural Americans have been doing this forever, of course, but now suburbanites and urbanites have discovered the joys of chicken ownership. 

A quick online search turned up Tours de Coop in Raleigh,Phoenix,Portland,Boise, and several other places around the country. One tour even describes itself as a way to “indulge your backyard poultry fantasies.” Pretty funny, or maybe just disturbing, I’m not sure which.  

Imagine the preparations that must be underway for these tours. Chickens busily cleaning and decorating their coops, fluffing their feathers, and laying special souvenir eggs for visitors. From urban chicken dwellings to suburban coop condos, there is something for everyone. I can’t wait to order tickets and see for myself.  What does one wear to a Tour de Coop, I wonder?

The Donald’s Hair and Other Great Mysteries of Life

Every now and then, most of us wonder about big cosmic questions – you know, what’s the meaning of life, is there intelligent life in other galaxies, and how is it that gas prices go up the very moment you pull into the gas station? 

There are a lot of small inconsequential things I wonder about too. If you can help demystify them, by all means, please leave me your comments.  Here goes: 

Why can’t I get anywhere near my kitchen sink without getting a wet spot on my shirt two inches above my belly button? 

Donald Trump’s hair? (I trust this needs no explanation.) 

If there are extraterrestrial beings, do they have hair like the Donald? 

Why do celebrity moms-to-be have “baby bumps,” while ordinary moms-to-be are just plain pregnant? 

Why do I still watch the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, when they’ve been recycling the exact same plot with the exact same characters for more than a decade? 

How can a reasonably intelligent organized individual repeatedly forget to bring coupons to the grocery store? 

Why do we spend so much money and work so hard to grow “desirable” plants around our yards, while spending even more to eradicate weeds – couldn’t we just switch the “weed/plant” labels and save ourselves the trouble? 

Why have air traffic controllers suddenly been stricken with some kind of contagious narcolepsy? 

How is it that cats instinctively know I’m allergic to them and decide they want to be my bff’s? 

Finally, one mystery has vexed me for many years. I’ve posed it once before, but no one offered any explanation so I’m going to try again. Ten bonus points and my eternal gratitude if you can answer this: Why would architect Mike Brady custom design a home for his family that had a single bathroom shared by six children? Why?

Wow, Coming to a Mall Near You

I’m not a big shopper, but every now and then, a schlep to the mall is inevitable. It seems like every time I’m there, I discover that the stores have been playing musical chairs, shuffling locations, leaving me wandering around bewildered (does this happen to you too?). As a bonus, a few new stores get sprinkled into the mix, just to keep it challenging for those of us who may be directionally impaired. 

Yesterday, near the end of a three hour mini shopathon that yielded a paltry two pairs of shorts and a pair of sneakers for my daughter, I spied something new. A bright little shop called WOW Brows!™  tucked into a corner of the mall. Having crossed the line from human to shopped-out zombie, I was too tired to check it out, but recovered enough today to look it up online.

Here’s what I learned. Instead of plucking, waxing or chemically annihilating stray hairs from your eyebrows, you can relax at Wow Brows!™ where “highly trained staff” will gently remove unwanted hairs from your brows using an ancient threading technique. Not only that, but “the thread is tied around the eyebrow specialist’s neck, rather than held in the mouth” thereby assuring you a “more sanitary experience.”   

Did you know that thread had such magical powers? Imagine, all this time I thought thread was good for sewing or tying and not much else. Fascinating. Still, I’ll leave you to decide for yourself whether eyebrow threading is right for you, though I’ve chosen NOT to book an appointment for a more sanitary experience with a highly trained staff member who has thread wrapped around her neck. I’m feeling a certain sentimental fondness for my little tweezers right now. 

What’s going on in your local mall these days?  Wait, I’m not sure I want to know…

The Art of the Ignore

Ignoring people – sometimes it’s rude, but other times it’s a good idea. Let’s say a friend wants to talk endlessly about details of her life that you find boring, unpleasant, overly personal, or just plain ridiculous. It would be rude to just ignore her because she is, after all, a friend, right?  On the other hand, if you grew up with siblings, your mom probably told you repeatedly to just ignore your brother or sister’s attempts to annoy or harass you, as in:

“Mooommmm, she’s looking at me.” (stated in the whiniest voice possible)

“Just ignore her.” (said with exasperation and an unspoken yet distinct threat of negative consequences if you choose not to ignore the culprit) 

I’ve discovered a new “ignore” category that I’m enjoying immensely. Are you on LinkedIn, the quasi-professional version of Facebook? On LinkedIn, when someone asks you to connect, you can choose to “Accept” the invitation or “Ignore” the invitation. As I understand it, the inviter is notified if you Accept, but simply gets no response at all if you Ignore. It might be appropriate to Ignore complete strangers, people you know who creep you out, or potential stalker types. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to Ignore someone. 

You know, if I had had an Ignore Button when I was about 4 or 5 years old, it would have saved my mother all kinds of humiliation. Why?  Because I was a shy little kid, but pretty cute. Adults seemed to think that my cuteness gave them permission to invade my personal space to pinch my cheek or pat my head or other seemingly innocuous gestures that I DID NOT LIKE. My response was to look such an intruder straight in the eye, point my finger and make a giant air “X” in front of the offender’s face while chanting, “I-Cross-You-Out.” 

(Yep, that’s me in kindergarten, wearing my groovy orange jumper.)

An Ignore Button would have been a much more gracious solution, but it’s not my fault I was born in the 60’s before we had all this technology at our disposal. If by chance you are one of the people I crossed out years ago, I apologize for being rude, but really, you had it coming. And Mom, I know it must have been humiliating, but it gave you a great story to tell over and over and over again for decades, right? 

Hey, friends, be sure to look me up on LinkedIn!

Adult Onset Musical Malnourishment Extremis

Today I confronted an embarrassing, pathetic, wholly stunted area of my life. I opened the CD case that sits ignored in my car for months, sometimes years, at a time. It was a painful experience. 

I know many people who simply cannot live without music – listening to it, creating it, participating in it with passion. I have nothing but respect and admiration for those musical souls. My sister plays the piano, my brother is an actual composer married to a real live singer/songwriter, and I took no less than a month (ok, maybe three weeks) of piano lessons in second grade. Yet somehow, despite those musical influences and despite my significant Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, Kenny Loggins and Bruce Springsteen phases of life, I have failed to nurture any sort of musical connection in my adult life. 

That brings us back to the contents of my CD case. Are you ready? Carole King (still amazing, of course), Lynyrd Skynrd, the soundtrack from Shrek, Peter Paul and Mary, an unmarked mystery CD, and a sing-songy phonics CD for preschoolers. Most people who have phonics and other little kid CDs in their cars also have little children to go with them, but my children are no longer preschoolers; they’re teenagers who mastered phonics long ago. 

For now, the CD case has been shut again, entombing those ancient relics for a little while longer. Please, don’t hate me for my musical illiteracy, my abysmal CD collection, and my negligent disregard for this amazing art form. Perhaps you can find it in your heart to at least give me points for watching American Idol last night?