Friday, October 15, 2010

The Soundtrack of my Life

I was charging my IPod and I got to thinking about how important music is in my life.  You see, I'm one of those people that if given the choice would choose blindness over deafness solely because the thought of a life without music is unimaginable to me.  I'm not one of those "music snobs" that only listens to classical or only listens to jazz...nope... I love it all (well, not the really heavy medal stuff where they are screaming vicious rants that can barely be understood - but that's probably because I don't really consider that music, but I digress...).  For me, the "type" of music I listen to at any given time, completely depends on my emotional state.  Am I sad?  Am I feeling sexy?  Am I angry?  Am I happy?  The right song can completely change my mood for the better or solidify it for the worse.   If you were to listen to my IPod right now you would be amazed at just how random the songs are, but they each fit a different emotional need, and I change the songs on my IPod accordingly.  But I started wondering, what are my favorite songs?  If I look at my ITunes "play count" I can see which songs have been played the most, but are they really my favorites?  I can think of a song right now that isn't even on my ITunes but is definitely in my top 10.   So I think for today I am going to list my ITune Top 10 Play Count Songs, and than my Top 10 Songs of All Time.  What do you think? 

ITunes Top 10 Play Count
1. Bring on the Rain: Jo Dee Messina
2. We are Family: Sister Sledge
3. Stand: Rascal Flatts
4. Wanted: Jessie James
5. You're Gonna Love Me: Little Big Town
6. See You Again: Miley Cryus
7. You're Not Sorry (CSI Remix): Taylor Swift
8. The More Boys I Meet: Carrie Underwood
9. The Lucky One: Alisson Kraus
10. 9 to 5: Dolly Parton

Top 10 +2 Songs of All Time (in no special order)
1. We Are Family: Sister Sledge
2. Seize The Day: Carolyn Arends
3. What a Wonderful World: Louis Armstrong
4. Bring on the Rain: Jo Dee Messina
5. I Will Be Here: Seven Curtis Chapman
6. Remember Me: Mark Schultz
7. Cheek to Cheek: Jane Monheit
8. Somewhere Over the Rainbow: 50 First Dates Version
9. World: Five for Fighting
10. Better Man: Pearl Jam
11. Adore: Prince
12. Let's Get it On: Marvin Gaye

Wow...that was hard.  There are several other songs that feel like they belong on this list too, but...I'm going to leave it at that.

Happy listening everyone!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Silver Lining

"Are you Kathryn?" I slowly turned around to see two police officers standing beside my minivan. "Ahh, yes officer I am." "We received a call from a customer complaining that you had parked in the handicapped space without a placard. Now I see the placard on the floor of the van - it must have just fallen when you tried to hang it up, but they were also complaining about how you parked." I took a few steps back to look at my parking job. Holy Cow! Which spot had I been aiming for? Or was I not aiming at all? There were two handicapped spots with a smaller spot in between them with stripes to give each spot a little extra room. I had parked with my van mostly in that striped spot but angled so that my front end was taking up a small part of the spot on the right and my rear end was taking part of the spot on the left. I looked back at the two officers who were studying me intently - probably trying to figure out if I was drunk. "We were paging you throughout the store but you didn't answer so we decided to wait out here by the car." They had been paging my name throughout Giant Eagle? Was I that exhausted that I actually walked through the store unaware that my own name was being loudly paged overhead? "I'm so sorry. I'm usually a good driver - I'm just reeeealy tired right now. I only got about an hour and a half of sleep last night." Probably because I looked like death warmed over, they cautiously studied me some more and then said: "O.K. just drive safely home."

Yep, it has finally come to that. I am so sleep deprived that I am walking, and apparently driving, around like a complete zombie. Bill keeps a sleep chart on the children because they both have sleep problems and the data helps their doctor. In any case, looking back over the data for September to the present, it is no wonder I can barely function these days. Bill and I try to share the overnight responsibilities but since our move I have been trying to take on more of them since Bill makes a long commute. He used to do the same when I was the one with the long commute. In any case, let me share some data with you to give you an idea of what I am talking about...

Let's take a look back:
Sept 1 up at 4:00
Sept 3 up at 3:45
Sept 5 up at 2:15
Sept 6 up at 1:30
Sept 7 up at 4:00
Sept 9 up at 2:00
Sept 11 up at 3:00
Sept 14 up at 4:00
Sept 16 up at 4:00
Sept 18 up at 3:00
Sept 21 up at 12:30
Sept 22 up at 2:30
Sept 24 up at 3:30
Sept 25 up at 3:00
Sept 26 up at 3:30
Sept 27 up at 4:00
Oct 2 up at 1:00
Oct 4 up at 2:00
Oct 6 up at 1:15

Just for the record, we count any night where my son sleeps past 5:00 a success and he NEVER sleeps past 6:30. The parking "problem" happened on October 6th. I had gone to bed at 10:30 only to be woken up by Jessica around 11:00 because she was "sleep walking." She was pretty fitful so it took me until about 12:30 to get her peacefully sleeping again. I had just fallen back asleep when Will woke up. So now we know why my brain was mush when I was attempting to park my car.

For most of you reading, this blog entry is just another "poor Katie" moment, but that's not why I wrote it. This post is for the many readers who just said: "wow, I'm not alone." Sometimes when I am following Will around at 2 in the morning I feel so alone. Not in the physical sense, but alone in my daily struggles. At those moments I force myself to remember that there are countless Moms out there who are just like me - sleep deprived, financially strapped, and terrified about the unknown future. I feel sad for their struggles, but also comforted to know that I am not alone in mine. I know that things will get better - I will eventually get to sleep, I will someday start a savings, and the children will one day become more independent. But in the meantime, I will continue to try to make the most of those early hours with snuggles, tickles, and if I'm lucky, a little leisure reading. Sometimes it is hard to find that silver lining but if we look hard enough, it is always there.

                   The Silver Lining!    

Monday, October 4, 2010

Think Before You "Speak"

I was thinking some more about my last blog about bullying and its link to technology, and it got me thinking about texting, emailing, posting on Facebook and get the point. Let me be the first to admit that I love Facebook. I love that I can keep in touch with people that I would otherwise probably lose track of. I love emailing, because it is a much more time efficient way of communicating and it also allows for editing - can't really edit a live conversation. I don't text, but that's only because the hubby thinks it is a waste of money so it's not on my cell plan:) But, like a lot of good things, the use of communication technology has also brought with it some consequences.

People now feel comfortable "saying" things via a post or text or email, that they would NEVER say in person. It doesn't take guts to post online: "OMG, Mrs. Smith is such a fat @#!$&. I can't believe I have her for Math class this year." People feel braver to be rude, thoughtless, or even malicious when the face-to-face component is taken out. Unfortunately this doesn't only apply to young people; although their fragile sense of self is at a higher risk of being destroyed by someone's thoughtlessness. "Grown-ups," and I use that term loosely, have also become seduced by the feeling of fearlessness that communication technology gives. For once, I am going to try to keep this blog brief. We need to lead by example. If we want young people to be kinder to their peers than we need to do the same. When I was growing up my parents would always tell me and my siblings to "think before you speak." All I'm asking you to do is to stop, before you send that email or before you post that blog, and think about whether you would actually "say" those things out loud? Would you actually say what you are writing to someone? If the answer is no - hit delete!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Bullies: Wielding Their Mighty Swords

Many of you have heard the horrible story about the young man at Rutgers University who committed suicide. His roommate posted a video online of him involved in a gay encounter with another man. Within a matter of seconds everyone knew. Everyone. For me this story isn't really about homosexuality but instead about a growing problem we have in this country with bullying. As I thought about this awful story over the past few days I started wondering why...why are we hearing so many more stories of young people ending their lives over bullying? Bullying has been around forever, right? So what has changed?

For my generation - remember back to when we were in junior high or high school. There were kids that got teased and picked on, right? Kids that were different. Whether you were a part of that teasing or not, think about "how" that teasing or bullying was done. Through verbal exchanges at school. Through gossiping on the phone in the evening if your parents allowed you to have a phone in your room. And through the most popular method, passing notes in class. Wow - passing notes. Now think about today's generation. If they want to make some one's life a living hell all they have to do is post nasty comments on myspace or twitter or facebook get the point. The bullies of today can wield their mighty swords in a more profound way. They are going to be able to cut much deeper than we ever could.

I think a little bit of teasing and getting picked on is a natural part of growing up. Call me old fashioned. I think it is a part of adolescence that no one is exempt from. Even the most popular kids are subject to the occasional jab. But maybe today's teens are meaner or more self-absorbed (I think so) but maybe not. Maybe kids are bullied more aggressively (I think so) but maybe not. Either way, that's not the problem. The problem is the way the bullying is done. If someone passes a nasty note about "Joe" and "Kevin" caught kissing behind the school building, that note reaches one person. Then you have to wait for the gossip mill to pass the info along. Even when it does finally reach everyone - there's nothing tangible there. No video, no photos, no blog. But, if someone posts a video of "Joe" and "Kevin" kissing everyone knows immediately and even worse yet - now there is proof.

So what can we do about this? How can we, as a society, cut down on the senseless bullying-induced suicides that we have been hearing about? Corporations have sensitivity training but young people are much too immature to get the value of something like that. If anything, it would probably just fuel the fire. "Oh, poor Joe and Kevin. We're sorry you feel so misunderstood. Let's just all be friends." I can practically hear the sarcastic dialogue in my head. Then what? We can't take away the Internet. Like it or not, technology is only going to get bigger and better and young people are going to continue to be drawn to it.

It feels like this is the point in my blog where I'm supposed to say: "here's what we need to do" - but I honestly don't know. I think of my own kids and the likelihood that they will be the target of bullying someday because they are different. Especially Jessica whose whole world, already at age 5, revolves around (1) boys and (2)having friends and being liked. How devastated would she be if someone decided to play a "joke" and have a boy pretend to like her, only in the end for all their emails to be shared online for everyone to laugh at. How would she react? As a parent, all I can hope for is that she and I have the kind of relationship where she feels like she can talk to me. I remember running home after school and telling my mom all about my day. In high school she knew who everyone was dating; what the latest gossip was; in general, she was involved. Sometimes she had to pry it out of me, but she always "knew" when something wasn't right with me. She "knew" when I broke up with a boyfriend or when I was fighting with my friends. She paid attention. And I know she wasn't above reading notes she'd find laying around. "Privacy rights" were different with my generation. All I can hope for is that I am that kind of mom. It may not be an answer to our problems as a society, but right now, it's all I've got.