Friday, September 30, 2011

Best Friends

There ain't any doubt I have the world's best friends.  Seriously.  Sometimes they take my rugrats, and sometimes they bring me sunflowers when I'm sad that my four-year-old went to preschool, and sometimes they bring me hot tea on a fall afternoon.  They do good for their neighbors, and their communities, and they make me smile.  I am so blessed.

If you don't read The Bloggess, you should.  She is my kind of humor, although she's a bit more crass than Bits and Pieces.  I heart her.  She's actually following me on Twitter, which would be a huge deal, except that she follows about 10% of her 162,000 followers.  She's hilarious.  I was attracted to her when her Big Metal Chicken post went viral.  If you haven't read it, do it before you read the rest of this blog post.

This week, when I was bringing out the trash in the middle of a monotonous day of cleaning, laundry, and child-rearing, I saw this.


I lost my fool head.  I roared for a couple minutes, and then, of course, grabbed my camera.


The note reads:  Dear Ms. Leanne: I need a new home. You are such a kind lady. I know you will give me shelter or find me a real good home. Signed, The Wooden Rooster (cousin to the Giant Metal Chicken.)"

It has found a place in my dining room, where I can see its cute little face (and jointed wooden legs) every day.  Where it looks at me, and reminds me to thank God for my very. best. friends.

PS  Don't forget to participate in my Ellen Show giveaway!  You have a couple more weeks, but I'm going to keep reminding you!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Be Kind to One Another

My sister Laura and I are going to the Ellen Show in a couple weeks.  I've been watching Ellen since the very first season. I had quit my full-time job to move out of state.  I was home packing, and she came on TV.  The first thing I remember her saying was, "...and if you're tuning in for the first time, what took you so long?" 

And I haven't missed an episode since.  She's funny, Ellen.  And she's kind.  And generous.  I like to think I'm her biggest fan, but truly there are thousands who love her as much as I do.  I'm sure if I had an "if you could have lunch with anyone in the world, living or dead..." she'd make my list.  And I may never get that, but I am going to sit in her live audience.  That'll do, for now.

Since I missed my 500th post giveaway (such a slacker...I'm nine over now), I'd do one now!  In honor of eight years of waiting for the opportunity to go to a live Ellen taping.

At the end of every show, Ellen says, "Be kind to one another!"  So here's what you have to do:  you have to step out of your kindness comfort zone.  You have to be kind to another person that you wouldn't normally be.  It can't be your kids, or your spouse, etc. (unless, of course, you're not usually kind to them...in which case...you get extra points for changing that relationship!).

Here are some ideas:

Pay a compliment to a stranger.
Do a random act of kindness.
Pay for someone behind you in a drivethrough.
Volunteer your time somewhere you haven't before.

And then, you have to tell me about it.  You can comment here, or send me an email or call me.  And I'll put you in a random drawing for something I pick up for you at the Ellen shop!

Kindness feels good.  Even if you don't get a prize...you'll still win!

Be kind to one another!

Friday, September 23, 2011

An Open Letter to Facebook

Dear Mark Zuckerberg:

I was going to say, "You don't know me, but..." but that would be an inaccurate salutation.  Chances are you know more about me than most people. 

First of all, I want you to know that I am grateful for you. Facebook has given me the opportunity to know and connect with people in a way I never imagined possible. Like millions of other people, my life is better because of your invention. Thank you.

I watched you via livestream yesterday as you gave your f8 presentation. I don't know what f8 is, but I'm guessing its a really cool technological seminar.  Good job.  Clearly your team worked hard to pull that whole presentation together!

I do have some thoughts on your new format, and Facebook in general, if you'll indulge me.

I've been doing some research.  It appears your average Facebook user is about 38 years old.  38!  Now, I know you have oodles of information and data, but I'm not sure you understand 38-year-olds.  I'm coming up on 35, so let me share with you how I'm feeling.  I think I speak for a many of your average users.  Here's the thing, Mark:  We're smart, but we're busy.

I'm 35, and I'm a parent, and I'm a professional.  I'm very busy with my kids and don't get many opportunities to get out of my house to socialize.  Facebook is my daily coffee break, my communication with my friends, my opportunity to maintain friendships with men and women I don't have the time in my busy parenting and professional life.  It is, truly, my social network.  I realized something really important the past couple days...you don't know what it's like to not have social networking as an adult.  But you know what?  WE DO.  We were without these people, these connections for 15+ years of our adult life.  And we really want to keep it.

I'm 35, and I like things to be simple.  Between making school lunches, and paying bills, and cleaning my kitchen floor, I don't have time for Complicated.  I'm a work-at-home Mom, so I have snippets of time between work-work and home-work to check in on my friends and family online.  You don't need me to tell you that Myspace didn't work because of the clutter.  Facebook has kept away from that, and there is no doubt in my mind that the streamlined format has been one of its biggest assets.  Easy for 35-year-old women like me.

I'm worried about the new layout, Mark. 

You say it's a way to showcase our life.  Let me tell you, I'm far less interested in showcasing my life as I am maintaining my social network.  My relationships.  But if half of my friends can't use Facebook any longer, and leave, then Facebook no longer serves its purpose for me, either. 

You know who the new layout is perfect for?  Every smart 20-something who works for you.  It's a beautiful product.  Particularly for young, smart-phone using college students.  But you know that that's not your only demographic.  And I certainly am not that user.  I've got kids to read to!  I've got cookies to bake!

I have to hand it to you, Z.  A lot of people have gotten really rich from Facebook.  And I don't pay you a fee to use the service, but I still pay you.  My information is invaluable to your advertisers.  Heaven knows they pay you a lot of money to obtain it.  And you're welcome to it, because it's been a fair trade for the networking I've been given.  But don't be fooled -- I'm not oblivious to it.  I know that you have to give your advertisers/partners what they want...and you're probably always going to have to keep changing to excite them.

I'd just encourage you, while you're servicing them, please don't forget about us. 

I imagine when you come into work in the morning, and you talk to all the other 20-somethings, most likely the smartest tech people in the world, you guys are so excited to discuss the next big thing.  And your creative juices flow until that is satisfied.  God bless you -- I certainly appreciate you contribution to the world.  All I ask is that when you're deciding what to do next, consider how this program works for me.  We've put up with an awful lot of changes because there is nothing out there to compete with it (yet). 

I can only speak for myself, but I'm not trying to sell anything on Facebook.  I'm not looking for a spouse, nor a job.  There are different online sites for that.  I don't need my site to look like I am.  I just want to continue to sit in my virtual living room and share ideas and support with my friends (who range in age from 10 (what...as if everyone is the required age) to 75.  I need these people, Mark.  Don't make it hard for them to stay here.

Carry on.  Be well.

Sincerely,

Leanne

Friday, September 16, 2011

Shannon


You know how sometimes you have friends and you sort of grow apart from them depending where you are in your life?  I've had lots of those.  But I've had one friend ALL MY LIFE, with whom I have never grown apart.  We've had our share of conflict, sure, but we've never not been friends.

She's the first one I've turned to for so many years, for comfort, for support, for a kick in the ass.  And she's always delivered. 

For the past 20 years, she's been my very best friend.  Even when I got married, and when I started having kids, she was still interested in me.  For the past ten years, we've talked on the phone two - three times per week for an hour or more at a time.  No one else has gotten this amount of my time and my life.  And I'm so grateful. 

When we've had conflict, we've resolved it.
When I've hurt her, she's forgiven me.
When I've vented, she's comisserated.
When I've been sad, she has comforted.
When I've had joy, she's shared it.

And for all of that time, we've been waiting for this day

It couldn't have happened sooner, because Nate is The One. 
And I knew she'd find him, because everyone deserves this. 
And God is good, and it's worth waiting for. 

All the clich├ęs are annoying, but they're true.

So...on the eve of her wedding, I send her my love.
And my wishes for a happy life with her beloved.

And so, once again, I send her off with this Irish blessing.

May God be with you and bless you.
May you see your children's children.
May you be poor in misfortunes and rich in blessings,
And may you know nothing but happiness
from this day forward.

I love you, Shan.  Forever.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sharing the Love: Ginger Crinkles

It's fall...how about some cinnamon, cloves, and ginger?!  My mother-in-law's mother's recipe.  Delish.

Ginger Crinkles:
3/4 c shortening
1 egg
1 c sugar
4 T molasses
2 c flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda

Mix wet ingredients well.  Add dry ingredients, beat for two minutes.  Roll into walnut-sized balls, and roll in sugar. 

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

I miss him.

He's my baby.  He's my ninja-cowboy-police officer-getting-the-bad-guys baby.  Every day of the past couple years, he's made me smile with his creativity and laugh at his imagination. 

He's kept this house free of bandits and never before has a mother felt so safe. 

He's mixed that up with hugs and kisses, and never before has a mother felt so loved. 

A hundred times a day he says, "I like you, Mom."

But today, I sent him off to preschool.  He'll be going four hours a day, three times a week.  And that's a lot for Jack.  He really does like me.  Matthew has always left me pretty easily, happy to explore whatever adventures I couldn't be a part of.  Jack would rather stay right next to me, given the chance.  At the barber shop last week, when asked if he was going to school like his brothers, he said, "No.  I'm just going to stay home with my mommy."  But he was wrong.  Because there are many things to learn that I can't teach him, and next year, when he goes to kindergarten, he needs to be prepared.

But it's hard for me, because I was Jack.  I got hives when my mom went out of town.  I cried when we got babysitters.  So I know Jack's pain.  I feel what he feels. 

Today, when I dropped him off with his really great teacher, his soft, still-chubby hand held mine tightly. When it was his turn to go in, she told him to follow the purple footsteps and put his bucket away.  He held my hand so tight.  I went to let go and he looked up at me, with a look, part panic, but mostly bravery and said, "MOM!  I need a kiss!" 

So I smooched my baby and let his hand go.  And his teacher said, "Oh!  That wasn't so bad!"  And I replied, "Except for me."  And I ran out before anyone saw my tears.

And now I sit here, with no little ninja to protect me, to hug me, to make me laugh. 
And I miss him. 
I love you, Jack-Jack.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

American Heroes Day

I hereby request that from now until eternity, September 11 be officially known as United States Heroes Day. We will celebrate those who choose professions in which they put themselves in harm's way for the good of our citizens. Heroes.

I went to an incredibly touching 10-year Anniversary Ceremony of September 11 with many of the fire/police/ems employees in the State of Minnesota this afternoon. I couldn't keep it together when I saw the photos of the firefighters' funerals, or the mournful sound of Amazing Grace on the bagpipes.

An awful lot of Americans lost their lives that day. An awful lot of friends and relatives of those victims are still grieving.

And I suppose it's because of my position in life, but I can't stop thinking about those wives. Those children, who are growing up without their fathers because they ran into a collapsing highrise to save others.

Think of that love. That selflessness. It takes my breath away.

I was sitting by friends of ours, who are relatively new parents. I was thinking about how much Matt loves his daughter and how I know he wouldn't hesistate to lay his life down for her. Those 343 firefighters were men like Matt. They were fathers, and husbands. Good, kind, honest men. And in a devastating moment, they made a decision to put others, strangers, in front of their daughters, their families, because they took an oath to do so, and these are men of deep honor. But now those children, and those wives are living without those men.

So, on this day, I stand in solidarity with those women. Because my pain is no worse than another's, but my empathy for them runs deep. And no matter how proud they are of their firefighters, they must miss them something desperate.


My most sincere prayer is that none of the men and women I was surrounded with today know that agony. That none of them ever have to give everything for their profession, even though they are prepared to do so. That my husband always keeps the promise he made me: to always come home. I remain in deep love, and in admiration of each of them -- and thank them for everything they do.

Happy Heroes Day.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Meal Planning

I thought with the teenager in football and Matty in school all-day, it's time to start planning a meal for every day. Gotta admit, I'm pretty accustomed to winging it, especially when the captain is at work.  I made a list of our staple meals.  I would love to add a new item each week, so I'm more than interested in your ideas!

Here are mine:

Meatloaf/Twice-Baked Potato Pie
Chicken potpie
Meatballs and gravy with mashed potatoes
Ham
Scalloped potatoes and ham
Rice hotdish
Spaghetti
Lasagne
Stuffed shells
Stirfry
Spaghetti carbonera
Sloppy joes
Chip beef on toast
BLTs
Hamburgers/Hotdogs
French dips
Chili
Beef Stew
Wild Rice Soup
Ham Chowder
Tostadas
Nachos
Tacos
Enchiladas
Quesadillas
Mexican hotdish
Breakfast for dinner