Label reading

When The Teenager was just a wee lass, she accompanied me everywhere.  We were always learning on the go.  For instance, if she wanted me to purchase crappy food at the grocery store she would have to read the label.  Keep in mind she was five when we started this and she couldn’t read much at all.  She could however pick out the word sugar with surprising quickness, and we won’t buy a product if sugar was in the top 5 ingredients.  As “new and improved” sugar substitutes became available we learned that if it sounded like a crazy chemical it probably was and it was best not to consume it all, and always be skeptical of “natural ingredients” packaging.  As the years went on and she had a firm, slightly jaded view on pre-packaged food we moved onto math and price illusion (as I like to call it.)  Now she is 15.75 year old educated consumer, and we did a little vacation shopping.  We paused and gave a nervous giggle, snapped a picture and entered into a bewildering, obviously recently re-branded grocery store chain.

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“Who do they think they are fooling?  There is no farm in there!”

We were instantly struck by the ridiculous lengths that this chain went through to make people think that their crap was any better than anybody else’s crap or fresher and local? The Teenager was horrified by the “Chicken Kitchen.” Stuck to the floor leading up to the counter where a man stood wearing a chicken hat butchering chickens and selling it in every configuration I could imagine were chicken feet decals.   “MMMOOOOOOMMMMMM”  “It looks like the chicken are walking to their death!!!!”

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OY!  no chicken today.  We quickly turn and The Teenager’s disgust turns to laughter as she gawks at the single muffins.  “Look mom they are single and ready to mingle, but that is a pricey date.”

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Right next to the muffins were half loaves of bread.  Not a small loaf, but a whole loaf that was broken up into two loaves and then sold for the same price as a whole. I mutter that “I can waste my own bread thank you very much” as The Teenager counts the slices and declares that “you can’t even make four whole sandwiches”  we laugh the laugh of the confused, but begin to draw attention and step away without photographic proof.  “This place gives me the creeps!” she whispers.  We wind our way around to stop dead in front of yet another petrifying sign.

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“MMMMMOOM??  do you see all the gears?

I begin to conjure images in my head of a boardroom full of executives howling with maniacal laughter as they try to scheme us out of our money.  How gullible do they think we are?  That windmill isn’t creating energy it just a vertical fan! Those are not greenhouses, they are filled with frozen food! That bakery smells like a cookie candle! Quickly we grab our absolute essentials  (ice cream and coffee) and depart hastily.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately because of the recent ruling about GMO labeling voting nonsense.  All of my meticulous training for nothing!  My instinct tells me to teach my children not to eat anything genetically modified, but how will they ever know in order to make that choice? Maybe I need to teach The Associate a different method all together and we can start by never going back to that “store” again.

 

 

7.5 years apart

IMG_0039 I actually planned to have my children this far apart, and most of the time it works out alright.  The age gap became ever so much larger when The Teenager started to drive.  In the space of 30 minutes I went from indulging The Associate in a game of “I am a kitty take care of me (pictured above)”, to explaining to The Teenager how to drive responsibly.  Surprisingly enough I didn’t cry all over myself and was repeatedly astounded by my calm demeanor.  She chauffeured me all over the winding roads of Lakeview Cemetary, around dead people that she couldn’t kill because, you know, they are already dead. Each turn became a little smoother and her foot more leaden. stopping for gas on the way home. IMG_0047

We arrive home to The Associate panting at the back door. “Yes, you are a sweet kitty, here is some milk”  “NO MOM! I need you to take my picture so it looks like I am stopped in mid-air!”

IMG_9998 IMG_9999 Switch! IMG_0034 The manual is read and highlighted.  It is full of useless information, but I don’t tell her that.  There is no driver etiquette, or even common sense, so I begin to point these out quite obsessively when we practice.  I go over what I think a young driver should know, but the DMV has very different ideas.  I am all for it being difficult to get a driver’s license, and the questions to be tricky, so they have to use their heads, but these two questions she got wrong are utterly ridiculous. They are so bad I woke up thinking about them.

The first question on THE NEW DRIVER TEST that she gets wrong asks.  “If a driver is over 18, who in the car has to wear seat belts?”   My cautious and thoughtful teenager that I have spent 15 years buckling in, over 16 if you count me buckling my giant pregnant belly, answers: Everyone?  Sounds good, safety first, but to her surprise and my horror, this is incorrect.  The correct answer is: Only the people in the front seat.!  Thanks DMV.

The second question on THE NEW DRIVER TEST that she gets wrong asks.   “If a driver under the age 21 gets pulled over for drunk driving how long do they lose their license?  Again, The Teenager reasons, well the driver is drinking underage which is bad and driving under the influence, that’s really dangerous.  Her answer is 2 years. This however is incorrect, and the correct answer is 60 days.  Soooooooo. Let me get this straight…… A person under the age of 21 and over the age of 18 can drive around with people unbuckled in the back seat (kids included), while under the influence of Alcohol that they aren’t even legally allowed to drink yet, AND it is really not a big deal. 60 days and they can get their privileges back.  SERIOUSLY who do I call? Even if this messed up stuff is the law, is it necessary to put it on the NEW DRIVER TEST?? I have 7.5 years to get it changed, who is with me?

The Associate sums it up nicely and slightly incredulously.

TA- Mom, why are you smiling? (The Associate asks as I beam at my phone)

me- I am happy because the highest court in our land decided that a person can marry the person they love.

TA-  huh?

me- The Supreme Court says it legal for a man to marry a man or woman to marry a woman.  The point is that if you love someone and want to commit to them legally you can.

TA- wait illegal is bad, and legal is good.

me- in this case, yes.

TA- Wait, it was illegal before today?

me- in some states, yes.

TA- well, I am glad they finally figured that out.  Makes sense to me.

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nobody is perfect :)

The Teenager wanted to work at the local Ben and Jerry’s and waited patiently until she was 15.  We went over the whole job applying process very thoroughly from start to finish, and when she started was teased because she had never mopped a floor.  She came home a little forlorn, and I said “It’s my fault, I never taught you how.”

It can be argued that I employ a “different” parenting style with The Teenager.  Much to the chagrin of my husband and increasingly myself this focus is not on house cleanliness.  In my mind I am arming her with different information.  Information on how to move about this crazy world with empathy, self-confidence, kindness and fun.  Some of these lessons are impossible for a person of the male persuasion to understand, and I understand his confusion.

Our conversation that mopey mop day continued and the topics ranged from global politics to the difference between baking flours.  Weeks went by as they tend to do and I began to see large gaps in my parenting agenda.  Most of the problem areas are related to cleaning, and we begin to imagine the messes we will make in her future home.  Tea bags in random places, smoothie cups drained dry but not rinsed, blender stuck to the counter. I will most definitely leave my underwear on her bathroom floor tangled up in the soaking wet towel that I took from her hook. I relax thinking about it, my eyes twinkling.

I am startled out of my reverie when I realize that I also making these same mistakes with The Associate.  I temporarily talk myself up and deny my faults.  “If she knew how to clean up after herself, than we wouldn’t know what the sneak is up to.  We can hear her eat sugar from the bowl because of the clink of the fiesta ware as she puts the spoon back in.  I cannot hear the brown sugar container open or close, but I can always read the telltale signs of a powdered sugar meltdown.  The sprinkle of dust goes all the way down the cabinet, under the burner on the stove and into a little heap on the floor.  There is no good way to justify this behavior in her or me, especially when a steady stream of ants invaded for a couple of days.

What to do now, how do I right this wrong? Now that I am finally seeing the light, The Husband can stop banging his head against the wall (which is good), but The Descendants aren’t thrilled with the change.  The Associate yelps out NO! like she is two and The Teenager smirks and lurks off to work or dance or something else of vague importance.  What to do…..?  I know!  Demerits!  (stay tuned.. he…… hee…..)

Why is this in the fridge?  Dumbfounded.

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I asked her to clean out these items that she left on the counter instead put in one side of the sink and half in the other.

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Evidence that she has been trespassing in my studio.

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last days scramble

As the teachers of the world scramble to get the last days of school done, those parents that are at home with the children all summer scramble for a last bit of sanity.

My conversation in my head goes as follows.

Monday! Only four more days of school!  There are meetings I must schedule. done. now how to spend any possible free time I might have. One last alone trip to the grocery store, start meditating (too late), sit on the porch quietly? think clearly while not being hit with a water gun? organize my life? take a uninterrupted shower?

Monday starts off ok, as I get interviewed for our local paper.  I struggle through the parts about me that I have yet to nail down, and of course gush about my new project and my team.  Slightly proud of myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone and not having a panic attack, I go on with my day, and manage to organize the mini studio a bit while fielding phone calls.  I spent the evening fretting over The Teenagers study habits, because she didn’t call off work and had a math final in the morning. I have already mentally prepared myself for the bad news, and I am irritated with her when I pick her up from work.  I do manage to calm myself and tell her that my attitude stems from my desire for her to be able to become whatever she wants when she grows up. I don’t want her to be held back by grades.  Her chilly exterior defrosted and we move on.

Tuesday starts by waking up The Teenager and her dragging her butt to school, LATE for her exam.  I know this particular child only learns when she messes up, but I find it difficult to hold my tongue. The Husband and I head out to a doctors appt in the maze of The Cleveland Clinic. We attempted to have a nice brunch ALONE after only to have my eggs delivered with a hair draped across them.  (I could scrap it off,  NO, I could cut around it, NO, I could send them back, YES, but appetite is unfortunately gone for good :(.  For some stupid reason I decide to spend the rest of the beautiful afternoon cleaning out the garage!  sit down! be quiet! do a puzzle! I do manage to meet my friends for dinner and relax until I get a phone call from The Associate begging me to come home because her orthodontic paraphernalia has popped out of her mouth.  Asleep by 10:30 I awoke bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to call the orthodontist and beg for an immediate appointment. I only have two days of peace and quiet left!!!! The woman felt my pain and told me to come right in. As soon as we are back in the car The Associate begs for donuts, because we always get a donut as a reward for orthodontia! FINE!  We are not allowed to go through the drive thru anymore because The Associate learned it was bad for the environment. I somehow manage to get her to agree to a simple glazed donut opposed to the double chocolate one that she wants and all is right with the world, until she starts to negotiate for a second and third donut. deep breath. I drop her at the front door of the school and peel out of the parking lot.  (five hours and 15 minutes) I take care of some paperwork, take care of my mind and head to pick her back up from school.  The Teenager lets me help her study for a bit, of course it is the exam that she is really prepared for because she has a great teacher and she loves it.

Thursday I dragged them out of bed and to school and I took care of my important meetings.  On my way home we crammed a bunch of teenagers in the car and they proceeded to lay around on each other, eat and zone out.  We retrieved The Associate from school and I almost immediately went into shock.  My brain stopped working. After substantial amount of time, I snapped out of it, and I realized how lucky I am, and decided to stop complaining. HAPPY SUMMER.

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baseball cupcakes

The Associate is a tough interrogator, and can sniff out the truth like Matlock.  She is full of questions all of the time, and doesn’t hesitate to grill me.  My parenting style has always been to give as much information as possible without giving my direct opinion.  One of deeper conversations while driving about town was about metal detectors in stores.  After figuring out what the heck she was asking me, I paused (a little too long for her.)

TA- MOMOMOMOM!

me- yes!!! sweety!!! I was just framing my answer.  Do you know when you try on clothes and there is that annoying tag in a really bad place?

TA- yes.

me- well that is there so if you try to leave the store without paying for the clothes that metal detector thingy sets off an alarm, and the police will come.

TA- why would somebody do that?

me- that is called stealing, and it is against the law to take something you haven’t paid for or doesn’t belong to you.

TA- but that store has plenty of money.

me- *sigh* Wellllll, that store has to buy those clothes from another company, and then this store adds some money to the price and sells it to us.  So…. if someone leaves the store without paying the store loses money and then it will go out of business.

TA- so….

me- That store creates jobs in our community  (this is where it gets tricky. We are actively shaping her power to work for good, so my answers are straight forward, but lean towards the consumer and the worker, without demonizing well run businesses.)

me- (in my head, how the heck does she do this to me every time, why can’t we have a nice ride in the car and look at the trees!)

me- Ok, we are going in this store to get one thing, we are on a mission to get things we need not things we want.  (mercifully she does not argue and we make it all the way to the counter without incident)

TA- Why do they need to make these?

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what the heck?

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why would anyone collect cereal?

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me- at least no one will steal that junk.

The associate’s bloody tale

She was born smiling, her teeth popped through in all the right places creating a perfect set of teeth, straight and white.  We ignored the gentle warnings of our dentist that this was not going to last, and we snapped a million pics of her beaming smile.

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(That was her cramming raspberries into her face phase)

As they fell out we realized that Dr. Dorothy was in fact correct and our little smiler was quickly starting to look like Sponge bob.  She wasn’t fazed at all and kept flashing her chiclets.

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About 6 months ago we began the arduous task of correcting her jaw and she was a trooper.  She would obediently lie down on the couch so I could crank open her palette and crack jokes all the while. The Herbst appliance was next and she became bionic.  You can hear the hydraulics inside of her mouth operating like one C3PO’s limbs.   She soldered on and only slightly complained, always looking forward to her braces, which for some crazy reason she thought was cool.

Then one day I decided to obey her and hang the hammock. I went in the house to grab some water and then heard a blood curdling scream.  I ran out the door to see blood spurting from her mouth and through her fingers, while she yelled “MOMMMMMMM”  I grabbed a towel that was luckily blood-red and dashed over to apply pressure.  Leaving her alone I ran up the stairs to find The Husband trying to get off of the phone face stricken from what he overheard downstairs.  While The Husband dug around in the grass to find the missing tooth I called the dentist, and she cautioned us to put it in a cup of milk.

The Husband- what?

Me (very loudly)- Just put it in a glass of milk!!!!!

Our dentist met us at her office so she could take a look but it was very clear this child needed to be knocked out, so we headed down to the ER.  Somehow I managed not to throw up while holding her, and her cup of milk with tooth while looking up the number for the ER and requesting a pediatric dentist.  The Husband at the wheel got us there in no time flat.  I was half in the bed with her trying to calm her, as people came in and out.  Apparently the new method in the ER is to give very specific directions about what they are going to do to you.  I interrupted knowing that this child or possibly I would not benefit from the nurses’ over sharing.

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We managed to get a movie playing on the TV and were calm for a bit, but by the time Dentist arrived the poor kid was anticipating the needles and moaning.   One nurse sat on the bed with her knees around The Associates head, another was trying to distract her with a huge ball and another with an ipad, all the while the Dentist tried to trick her into opening her mouth.  I came in and out of the room my heart pounding while she screamed at the top of her lungs.  The Father sat solidly by her side and as per usual tried to distill the tension with humor.

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Screaming, crying and definitely over stimulated the The Associate hushed us all up.  We all backed away, hands up and she declared “Let’s get this over with!  The mayor is waiting for me!”  Stifling giggles they got back to work and the tooth was finally wedged back in. The room was quiet and she was instantly better, still excited to see The Mayor.  Sanity partly restored we were freed to go back to home.

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As we drove out of the hospital. The Associate came up behind me and reminded me that The Mayor was waiting in a conspiratorial lowered voice.  I laughed as I braced myself to go to at least 3 pharmacies to get the medicine we would need.  Three weeks later her tooth looks alive, but we shall see, one step at a time.

jewelry converts #7,8,9 (ongoing DIY series)

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Life is pretty busy.  I am working on a huge project called ARTFUL and my days quickly get filled up with meetings and such.  In an effort to stay creative without the benefit of time I am continuing this series.  These are meant to inspire you to fix something instead of throw it away and to develop your eye for finding the parts, among the trash.

So first we add some items to our arsenal.  I love this glue, it works on most surfaces and is durable and flexible.  It is expensive so make sure you close it up tight and you use a coupon.  The second item, ring blanks can be found at many craft stores and come in several finishes.  The last item (not pictured) is a soft toothbrush,  which comes in handy when gentle cleaning of caked on ick is necessary.

#7 I have been looking for a good case for my round business cards forever, and I finally found it. It was right under my nose in a box in my studio, but timing is everything.   All this project needed was a good cleaning with that toothbrush and some dish soap, and we were all good.

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Perfect fit.

#8 This next project I have been meaning to do for a while.  The original concept is so great that all I needed to do was clean it out (toothbrush again), refill with shea butter and add a chain. It still smells like the original lipstick, but oh well.

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I am waiting to see if the shea butter melts in the heat before I fill it all the way up.

#9 This pretty pin was in a bag of stuff a friend gave me to play with.  it was broken, so I decided to turn it into a ring.  Using my pliers I carefully removed the other half of the broken latch and simply glued it on the ring blank.

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It is still drying, but I plan to wear it asap.

now back to life, have fun!

 

 

Jewelry Converts #3,4,5 (ongoing diy)

While flipping my closet out for summer attire I realized that my wardrobe has lost its flavor.  I used to be prone to outrageous combos, and was a real fan of double-knit.  Maybe now that I am “older” I am shying away from my more whimsical ensembles, and the last thing feel like doing is shopping for new clothes. They are expensive and made to fade these days,  so I’ll tone it down a bit but that means it is time to accessorize!   This was the first bunch I encountered when I closed my eyes and dunked my hand into the FREE miscellaneous bin in the church basement.

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After thoroughly cleaning off the layer of caked on 80’s foundation, they didn’t look half bad.  Using wire cutters I snipped the metal holding the posts to the drop, It is that rigid, close to the ear thing that makes them really look bad.

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then I simply slipped on regular earring wires.  (When apple comes up with a phone that makes me look gorgeous in selfies, I’ll take a pic.)

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the final pair was pretty chunky and ugly but I wouldn’t give up. So I clipped them onto my high heels for a dash of 80’s glam.

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The most important thing is to have fun and try to find little morsels of coolness. Unless you want to look like everybody else :)

 

jewelry converts #1 and #2 (ongoing DIY)

There are many cool earrings out there in the wild masquerading as clip-ons.  I have tried to wear them but, no thanks, it is less painful to change them quickly and cheaply.  I own an abundance of tools, but if you can’t make it over to my house to use them you should probably stock up on a few.

First of all don’t go anywhere near a craft store until you have a coupon from the paper, mail or online, if you forget yours you can google and it can be scanned right from your smart phone.  You can also get your pliers from a hardware store, but the prices are pretty similar when you use a coupon.

We won’t use all in each project, but I will add the most useful as I think of them

1. Round Pliers (I am sure there is a more technical name but it is escaping me at the moment) are good for making rings and curving metal wire.

2. Standard pliers (these come in all shapes, colors and sizes, just make sure they feel good in your hand)

3. Wire cutters (mine double as standard pliers so they are multipurpose, you can get snub nose cutters and two pairs of pliers,  whatever your preference you will most likely need two pairs of pliers at your disposal for proper jump ring action)

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4. Assortment of headpins

5. Assortment of jump rings (I like to have lots of colors and shapes around)

6. Ear wires  (These are the basic ugly ones that I adapt, or you can purchase prettier ones at the store or make your own if you are really ambitious)

 

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7. You must have interesting tidbits that you have found.  There are a ton of cool components at thrift stores, garage sales, or your mom’s dresser.  Try not to think about it as a whole but as pieces that can be broken up, and be sure to inspect them carefully and make sure the cool parts aren’t broken or chipped.

#1 These earrings would be discarded because they are clip-ons. NO!  Simply remove the clip-ons with your pliers and replace with regular ear wires. I takes mere minutes to bring these beauties back in style.

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#2 requires little skill but a few more supplies.

When I am out and about, well not anymore because I have enough for a lifetime. I buy necklaces that have a lot of bang for the buck.  They have a lot of dangly things or a lot of chain that can be reused. Like this one.

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Ugly to the untrained eye, but very useful to me.  Just one section released from what looks like Skeletor’s head makes a lovely pair of earrings, with a few additional goodies.

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After freeing these cute diamonds, I simply wrapped the chain around once and toggled it on the jump ring.

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These are my new favorites.  Light and long with an unexpected black accent.

Don’t forget to find a toolbox and some containers to keep your new crap organized.

Hey! Thanks for reading.