Realistic Weather Forecast: Not Snow

The weather is complicated. I totally get that, but sometimes I wish the weather forecasters would just say – “we don’t know.” Instead of saying 100% chance of rain all day – only for it to be hot and sunny most of the day – just say “no idea.” It would really be okay.

Maybe a first step would be to stop with the precision. Let’s quit focusing on the 23% chance of rain at 2:15PM and instead just state that rain is likely in the afternoon.

Maybe it is a particularly challenging forecast period and just state what you know for sure – Not Snow. It is after all June in Florida, so safe to say snow is unlikely. Because sometimes, that really is the most accurate forecast you can give.

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Award Show for the Rest of Us: The Norm Awards

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The Norm Awards for ordinary people living extraordinary lives

Awards season is almost over. The season really wears on me each year.  I feel like each category should get a shot –

  1. Awards Show for Movies
  2. Awards Show for Television
  3. Awards Show for Music
  4. (And an awards show for Sports – if we absolutely must)

That’s it.  But no.  There are several iterations of each.  And in most years, these shows dominate the news [thanks to a disastrous presidential primary season that is not the case this year].  Then the shows dominate prime-time television [if you are actually still beholden to live television, which my family is not].

Many years ago I decided that I would not watch these shows – I find them to be informative to a degree.  Like a quick filter of the movies that a small group of people were interesting from a given year.  Although I generally find that the winners do not necessarily make it to my viewing list for a number of reasons – mostly length, so many of them are too long for parents of small children that awake at 5:30am every single day.

I think I would be more inclined to watch the shows (again, if they were pared down to just a few) if there were also a show honoring “normal, ordinary” people.  To that end, I propose The Norm Awards.  The Norm Awards would honor the normal, everyday people that really are the backbone of the country.  So what categories am I thinking about?

Outstanding First Responder:  this award would go to an individual who not only puts his or her life on the lines for others in their work life, but also goes above and beyond to apply these skills to benefit those in their community in their personal life.  Know anyone like that?  I do.

Inspiring Teacher:  this award would go to an inspiring teacher that not only puts his or her heart into teaching students in the classroom, but looks for opportunities to build students up outside of the classroom as well.  How many teachers have you known that do this and more?

Extraordinary Youth Volunteer:  the award for a mom, dad, or adult that passionately dedicates his or her free time to encouraging children and/or teenagers by volunteering time toward developing the next generation – often staying dedicated to a particular organization for many years.  My mom did this for a group of my friends through Girl Scouts – leading us for 12 years.  Volunteering time with any group for 12 years is commendable, but given the task of organizing cookie sales (for an entire county), camping out, cooking on a fire, driving screaming girls all over the state and region to earn badges, and generally dealing with screaming girls — that calls for an award.  Did you have someone like this in your life?

All Star Parenteither you are one or know one that deserves this award.  I have a friend at work, who deserves this award.  After working a stressful job, she spends many evenings and most weekends supporting her daughters by taking them to sports activities.  Sports is their passion – and though she does not have much free time (at all), she supports their passion by ensuring that they participate in every activity possible to develop their skills and love for sports.

Awesome Animal Advocatethis award is for those that go above and beyond to support the health and wellness of animals.  I love animals, but I typically stay away from them – I have always had this slight fear of animals – though I loved our Maggie dearly (even when she snipped at our fingers).  I am amazed by the people that I read about or meet that sacrifice their own well-being so that they can provide food for a foster pet or ensure that a sick animal gets the treatment necessary to extend or improve their life.

Super Sandwich Caregiver:  this awkwardly named award goes out to an individual of my parents’ generation (or possibly Generation X) that are often in the middle of caring for their own parents, while still caring for their own children or even grandchildren.  I have met many people that are juggling their own careers, their children’s schedules, and trying to determine the best care resources or treatment plan for their own parents.  That’s a lot to handle.  Have you seen someone like this?

Please note that Low Key was really hoping that this would be an award for an actual sandwich maker or burritos.  He loves them both.

Single Parent Superstarthis is the award that goes to an individual who through any number of events has found himself or herself in a situation of raising and providing for his or her children.  A few years ago, I worked with someone who had been diagnosed with a terminal cancer.  He passionately supported his family and fought for his health until the end.  However, in the end, his wife was left with two young children to raise.  She could have sat in dismay, but instead she remained strong and encouraging for her kids.

Open Heart Champion:  this is the award for adoptive parents – those that open their hearts and homes to children, who for any number of reasons cannot remain with their birth parents.  Whether they are children from 5,000 miles away or 5 miles away, adoptive parents ensure that many have a safe and loving environment in which to grow up.  I know several that have opened their hearts and homes.  What about you?

Adversity Award:  this is the award that goes to an individual who has over come adversity – illness, a tragic accident, economic setback, or other event.  It is hard to imagine that you do not know a few people that deserve this award.  I think of my brother, who was in a car accident and lost his right leg above the knee.  Rather than give up or settle, he consistently pushes himself harder than most anyone I know.  He now helps other as an emergency air flight nurse.  Is there anyone that you know that deserves an award for overcoming adversity?

The number of awards that everyday, ordinary, normal people deserve could go on and on – not that different from the numerous celebrity award shows.  However, the fact of the matter is our culture will probably never insist on such a show.

Instead, how about we as one of the ordinary people in this country – one that needs a bit of positivity – go look for those that deserve awards and give them a thanks for their example or encouraging words to continue doing what they are doing?  A small thing, but often simple words can be powerful.

Who do you know in your life that deserves an award?

Being Presidential

Sappy girl movies were never my thing, but there were a handful that I watch repeatedly – Love Actually, Bridget Jones, Notting Hill, Sabrina (the Harrison Ford one), and The American President.  Bit of a British obsession as the first three indicate…

One of the most memorable exchanges in The American President is between President Andrew Shepherd and Leon Kodak:

Leon:  “Yes, sir.  But it can be, sir.  What you did tonight was very presidential.”

President Andrew Shepherd:  “Leon, somewhere in Libya right now, a janitor’s working the night shift at Libyan Intelligence headquarters. He’s going about doing his job… because he has no idea that in about an hour he’s going to die in a massive explosion. He’s just going about his job, because he has no idea that about an hour ago I gave an order to have him killed. You’ve just seen me do the least presidential thing I do.”

Being presidential.  If only our current candidates could grasp the definition of what it is and what it is not to be presidential like movie writers can.  Oh, it’s naïve and not so logical to expect that to happen, but shouldn’t we as Americans aspire for our President and future predecessors to behave presidential – inspire for us as Americans to seek to encourage good and hope in one another.

This presidential season something is amiss. Maybe the general state of discontent in the country.  Maybe the candidates (likely). Maybe I have changed – since the last election, my life has changed.

Last election cycle, Goose was a toddler.  Chicken had just made her debut.  In 2012, I was just starting to see the world through the eyes of my children.  At their ages now, I am keenly aware of their environment.  They are sponges absorbing the words and emotions of those around them – the country around them.

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Goose and I at the Statue of Liberty in 2011

I was probably Goose’s age when I really became aware of President Reagan.  Whether you agreed with their political views or not, I do not know that there would have ever been a time when my parents would have worried about me listening to President Reagan or President Bush speak to the American people.  For that matter (though I was older), I do not think there would have been concerned about President Clinton (well other than a couple of occasions).

Unfortunately, the current political landscape brings me great worry.  Depending on how the election shakes out, I could well find myself censoring future presidential speeches before Goose or Chicken can watch.

HOUSEHOLD RULES

Since it seems challenging for our perspective leaders to determine some basics of decorum, I thought I might suggest some rules that we have set for our (small) children

(1) We don’t say stupid.

I am not quite sure how this rule came about.  While I am not so good at following this one in day to day life, at home, we do not say stupid.  It is so frustrating for me to hear kids call each other stupid.  What sort of encouragement does that offer early in life?  By not saying stupid at home, I hope that the kids learn that it is not a word to use flippantly – and definitely not something to call their classmates at school.

If only presidential candidates (or one in particular) could think of some other ways to describe those with whom they have disagreements.  I can only imagine the scolding some of the candidates might receive from my children upon hearing “stupid” being dropped every other sentence

(2) Sharing is caring.

Yes, sharing is caring.  Sharing is a simple act of kindness that we can apply in our day to day life.  Beyond the obvious sharing of toys, sharing means making space for others – in our circle of friends, on a bench, in a line, or wherever.  Make space, let others have a turn speaking, don’t interrupt.

That does not mean everybody gets the exact same amount or that life is equitable or fair.  That model has been tried around the world – it does not work.  Eventually, you end up in an oligarch state with economic disparity far worse than what we have today.

Hard work is a critical part of life.  However, we should show kindness to others and share.

(3)  We respect others.

At this age, Goose and Chicken may not be able to articulate what respect is.  However, they have learned that if they interrupt nightly book reading, their book selection will not be read.  They know that trash belongs in the garbage and not to throw things on the ground.  They are 6 and (almost) 4 years old, so they slip up, but they know what respect is.  And Chicken frequently identifies “rude” behavior.

I wonder if some of the presidential candidates know what respect is or how to apply it in daily life – or on a public stage.  It certainly does not seem like respect when the religion of others is questioned or judged.  Or when a candidate does not appear at a debate simply over a disagreement with its moderator.  Respect.

(4) We don’t lie.

Honesty.  I have a tendency to be too honest at times – or maybe better stated, I don’t soften the truth.  Honesty – without it, how do we know who each other really is?  We encourage Goose and Chicken to be honest.  Often we have to remind them to do it respectfully (see rule #3).  I do not particularly care to hear that they “hate” something – file the word “hate” along with the word “stupid.”

Often it seems the instinct is to lie when they make a mistake.  We are encouraging them to be honest about their mistakes.  We learn from mistakes, and we forgive them.

At times, this political season (or most political seasons), it seems like it is really some epic game of who can get away with the most lies.  If an entire candidacy is full of lies, how do we know who the candidate is?  Or how do we know if he or she has learned from past mistakes?

What are we teaching our kids?

I don’t know if there is a good outcome this election. I do know that if a presidential candidate cannot put on their best behavior during an election cycle, then there is little hope of it being exhibited once elected.

I hope that something will change in the next six months – maybe someone will channel their inner President Andrew Shepherd (or some other movie president) and identify what it means to be presidential.  I hope that kindness, respect, and honesty prevail.  Otherwise, Low Key and I will spend the next four years as censors, while our nation continues to become more divided and isolated from the rest of the world.

 

Pantry Nirvana

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A new year tends to bring forth ambitions of healthier eating, better money management, and pursuits of a clean and well-organized home.  [These goals tend to last all of about three weeks, so you best make some headway this week.] It was a few years ago amidst similar goals that I took a look at our own small pantry.

Too Much Soup!

The goals surfaced several years ago while Low Key (husband) and I were putting away groceries only to realize that we had accumulated about ten cans of cream of chicken soup.  Unfortunately, because of how our pantry was arranged at the time, the many cans had been pushed to the back where I could not see them during my quick glance checklists I would make for the grocery store.  At the time, I had maybe two recipes that required cream of chicken – yet I had enough to feed a small village.  Apparently, I had a hoarding problem caused by pantry disorganization.  A new quest was launched to find pantry nirvana.

After finding so much soup, I completely emptied our pantry and then carefully and thoughtfully restocked it.  Now every year or so, I follow this same process with hopes that keeping the pantry organized has prevented the accumulation ten cans of cream of chicken soup or five bottles of salad dressing (another year). 

Steps to Pantry Nirvana

  1. Pantry10Empty: you have to empty, and I mean completely empty the pantry of everything, including spice racks.  Find a table or area of your kitchen to spread everything out. 
  2. Clean:  while I would like to say that I completely clean the pantry monthly, that just does not happen.  Other than spot cleans – the deep clean annually is about the only time it is totally cleaned. I tell myself that if I did not work full-time I would deep clean my house monthly, but I think that is probably just one of those things that it is easy to say.
  3. Examine:  with everything spread out it is easier to see what was actually lurking in your pantry.  I’m always surprised to fPantry11ind things that I have no recollection of buying.  Taco kits.  Publix always gets met with their buy one, get one free taco kits.  It is not that we don’t eat tacos.  We eat tacos every Tuesday night at Tijuana Flats – so why do I have taco kits?  Note to self:  don’t buy taco kits this year.
  4. Toss:  this part is hard and counter to what seems right, but you have to do it.  Toss any food that is past the best buy date.  While throwing away food is wasteful, eating food that has spoiled and could make you sick is worse.  There are lots of places online that can give you guidance on “safe zones” past the best buy/sell buy date.  I like the one on webMD:  Do Food Expiration Dates Really Matter?
  5. Pantry7Organize:  group like items together.  This allows you to better visualize how much space you need for each group items so that you can place items back in logically.  If you see that you have six boxes of brownie mix  (yes that happened), it may be time to schedule baking or cooking whatever it is.  
  6. Restock:  one you have identified a logical grouping, restock the pantry.  

 

Ah… an organized pantry.  Now to the resolutions – this year I will not hoard taco kits, cream of chicken soup, or the 2015 item of the year… tomatoes!

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2015 Hoarded Item of the Year:  Tomatoes!

What’s in your pantry?  Anything surprising?  If you happen to have six boxes of brownies, feel free to share a few with a friend – after all, (maybe) you have to meet those lofty health goals you made.