Thursday, February 28, 2008

I've Gone Batty

Five college friends who are gathering at my house this weekend just received an email from our friend Paige. One line reads: “I just realized Anna is a dingbat.” No further explanation. At first I was offended. A dingbat? I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, but a dingbat? Then, quick hand slap to forehead, I realized what I had done and that yes, indeed, I am a dingbat!

We are all getting together for a girls’ weekend (never mind that the girls are all pushing 40), and we plan to give our pregnant friend a surprise present for her soon-to-be-born twins. Well, last night when I was emailing the out-of-towners about when the festivities would begin, I kindly cc’d the other in-towner so she would feel in the loop. Of course I forgot that the rest of the email discussion, still plain to see, centered around the adorable baby clothes we had for the twins, what a nice surprise it would be, and how much money we each owed for them. Ugh. I feel like crap, but it’s compounded when I think about our gathering last spring when I looked straight at Paige and said in a hush-hush voice, “Have you signed the card yet?” For Paige’s own birthday. Dingbat, indeed.

We often hear of roles in families, and how they stick long into adulthood. My sister and I have set roles we play in each other’s lives. I still like my big sister to take care of things for me, even though she lives 5 hours away. For instance, I’m looking for a Wii for my son’s birthday, and I have my sister on high alert at her Wal-Mart, even though my own Wal-Mart is only 20 minutes away. Why? She gets things done.

In adulthood, I’ve sort of hit a point of inertia, but my sister has hit her stride as far as accomplishing things. For instance, about 7 years ago I told her how much I liked yoga. I was lean and buff and felt pretty good about my upward dog. My own yoga practice then slowed to a trickle of about 2 times a year, but in that same time frame, my sister became a certified yoga instructor, taught classes, transformed her body, and now wakes up at 6 to do yoga daily. She can stand on her head, do one-armed push-ups, and generally kick yoga butt. She is a do-er. She loves a new challenge. I love comfort and ease. We have roles. She buys me cranberry juice and tells me to take my vitamins, while I organize her kitchen counters and show her where to hang pictures on the walls.

In my group of college friends, as we have ascertained, I am the dingbat. In addition, I am known as a homebody who was not involved in some of the crazier aspects of college life. As we reminisce it’s like, “Remember when we climbed out the window of the main hall with those guys from X fraternity?” “Oh, yeah, Anna wasn’t there.” In our current life, none of us carries on like college students anymore, but the rest of the group knows I’d be just as happy to curl up and chat in our pj’s than go out to a club or go dancing. In our group we also have Ellie, our sorority social chairman in college, who has maintained her role these past twenty years. When we find a while has gone by without our getting together, Ellie starts those emails going around and plans a weekend getaway. The others of us are perfectly capable of doing this, but we rely on Ellie, because we know she’ll do it. Is Ellie the social chairman in other circles of her life? I don’t know.

Maybe the reason I’m thinking of roles is because my husband and I watched the end of “The Breakfast Club” on TV last night. Got to love that ending when Anthony Michael Hall says, “We are all the nerd, the freak, the jock, the princess, and the thief.”

My childhood friend, Cindy, considers me “the vault.” She knows I have not shared private information about her in these past 30 years. She knows she always had my permission to ditch me at a moment’s notice if a boy she liked had a better offer (now the same applies for husbands). She knows I’ll remember her cousin’s brother-in-law’s last name and why he doesn’t come to Thanksgiving dinner anymore. In our relationship she knows I’m not the one to call to go to a last-minute movie and that I definitely don’t want to meet for breakfast. Ever. I know she’s always up for going out to dinner, and that it’s never too late to call her on her cell.

My husband’s role in friendships has in the past been one of passivity. This could be the youngest child thing again. Friends choose him, they make the plans, and he’s happy to sit back and go along. The guys we go to the beach with know to research all of the beach houses and pass along only the top three to Tom for approval.

In Tom’s family, his role is the Golden Child. It is hard to imagine an uncomplimentary word being said about him. We recently found his elementary school report cards, and I laughed so hard I thought I would pee my pants. Teacher after teacher commented that Tom would act silly and goofy to distract his classmates. Tom’s stellar academic record had caused the image of this little Eddie Haskell to vanish completely from family lore, so we found it to be hilarious and enlightening. Now if you asked his folks about Tom’s older brother, you would have heard an earful, but not about Tom. Why? Tom’s brother was considered “the rebellious one.”

What roles do you have in your family? At work? In your circles of friends? What would you change if you could? Do you find yourself falling back into old patterns and roles? Why?

Well, I have a conference call at two pm, and I want to collect myself so I won’t sound too batty.

P.S. Kathleen, if you are reading this, you already know about the baby presents anyway. You’ll get them on Saturday!

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Adventures in Dumpster Diving

Well, I told you I’d share something about my past-time of “dumpster diving.” I don’t want to appear insensitive to those who, because of their circumstances, must root through trashcans for food and necessities. My dumpster diving is purely for fun, not for sustenance. I am just a suburban mom who gets a thrill finding uses for stuff other people throw away. I love getting use out of something, even temporarily, that would have ended up at the local dump.

My dumpster diving days started a long time ago in, of all places, a dumpster. It was the last day of school in fourth or fifth grade. All the other kids had gone home. I was wandering when I saw that the school dumpster’s sliding metal door was ajar.

I peeked inside, and two of my passions were ignited: the desire to snoop, and the desire for free stuff. There, in the dumpster were leftover workbooks and school supplies (even dictionaries!) and-- the snooper’s holy grail-- carbon copies of all of the student report cards for the year! I climbed inside and sat among the milk cartons reading everyone’s grades and comments. After a while, I gathered a few favored school supplies, and headed home.
I couldn’t take everything I wanted, because my mother would have balked at my bringing more junk into the house. She was always sorting through things trying to get rid of them. I didn’t like how she discouraged us from going to yard sales, either. Now, 30 years later, I get it. I don’t want my kids bringing junk into our house either. I want to be the one who picks the junk in this family!

That was my one and only foray inside an actual dumpster, but I’ve been on the prowl ever since. Now, as I drive my minivan around town, I check out the discard piles in front of people’s houses. My philosophy is to take it now, and if I find out it’s not a good fit, donate it or recycle it later. On the few occasions I have mulled over whether to pick something up, it has been too late and I’ve been seriously bummed. I still pine for a pristine set of wooden TV trays I left standing at the curb. My treasures have included baby gear, bookcases, tables, chairs, toys, shelves, sprinklers, and one of those things that spreads fertilizer in your yard.

My kids are on board with my habit. This may change when they are teenagers. Molly scans the curb to see if anything looks good. When she was starting preschool, her teachers came by for a home visit. When a teacher complimented her on her pretty nightstand, she declared “that’s a dumpster dive!” She proceeded to take the teacher on a dumpster dive tour of the house. I do try to exercise self-control and have only picked up one item off the street with another person’s child in my car.

A few times I’ve been caught by a house’s owner, which is a little embarrassing. A smile, a thank you, and a quick getaway seem the best approach.

I’ve also been known to donate my own things in order to make room for a new dumpster dive. I try to maintain a “one thing in, one thing out” mindset and I don’t think my house looks junky…yet.

My favorite find is a huge cabinet we refer to merely as “the dumpster dive.” It sits outside our kitchen door and we use it as a place to store our recycling, as well as serve as a bar and buffet for outdoor parties. I am not sure what it was in its former life, most likely a workbench in someone’s basement. I love if for many reasons: its chipped milky green paint, the old phone numbers scrawled inside, the way it keeps our recycling, birdseed, sports equipment and grocery bags stowed out of sight. But most of all, it makes me appreciate my husband and his support of my quirks.

I had driven by it on a trash heap for several days. I pined for it, but I was sure Tom would put the kibosh on bringing it home. Unlike most dumpster dives, I couldn’t throw this one in the back of my minivan on my own. I needed serious buy-in on his part. This involved removing both bench seats from my van, finding a place to stash the kids for a few minutes, driving over in broad daylight to the middle of our town, and raiding the trash heap. When we got there, he said there was no way it would fit in my car. After almost 10 years, I know that van like the back of my hand, so I asked him to please try to help me get it in. Rather than squelch my dream, he helped me wrestle that thing into the car and it worked!

I get warm and fuzzy when I think about how he did not make fun of me and tell me our house was starting to look like the Sanford and Son junkyard. Two years later, he still loves that “dumpster dive,” and he even puts in orders for things for me to be on the lookout for as I zip around town. Looks like I may have a convert!
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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Like Mother, Like Daughter?

I drove my kids to school in my pj’s today. Actually, in a pair of velour sweats and the long sleeved t-shirt that I slept in last night and wore all day yesterday. I feel as if I have finally arrived!

People always talk and write about becoming their mothers, but I wasn’t sure it would happen to me. My mom died suddenly when I was 18 and she was just 46. For almost 20 years, there has been a gaping hole in my heart and in my life felt most acutely on important days, but ever present in the mundane as well. I was never sure if I would turn into my mother, having only been with her for 18 years, especially since I realized I have now lived longer without her than with her.

I won’t try to describe my mom too much in this entry—there is no way to capture her in so few words—but I will tell you that she was the center of my life. A perfect blend of security (a mom who acted like a mom), zaniness, and strength that allowed me to love and respect her, even while rolling my eyes at her during those teenage years. She had a strong faith in God and a warm acceptance of others that drew others toward her.

Since becoming a mother, I have heard “mom-isms” come out of my mouth numerous times. “Goodness gracious” and “sweet potato” are two of the most common. When I pull out of our neighborhood onto a busy street every morning, I tell the kids we need to “goose it!” to get the car up the hill. In the most pleasant voice I can muster, I tell the kids to “hop up!” every morning even though those were the two most dreaded words of my childhood. I also use the phrase, “the other day” liberally, much to the annoyance of my six-year-old daughter. “It wasn’t the other day, mom! It was like two months ago!” This morning, when I told the kids to “hustle their bustles, I knew I was indeed, my mom.

My school drop-off attire just cinched the deal. I remember being mortified when my mother would wear the same clothes two days in a row. As a teen I changed clothes multiple times a day, from my matching headbands and earrings down to my colorful flats, so I couldn’t see why she couldn’t dig a little deeper into her closet for some variety. One year, after she broke her toe, she added wooden clogs to the look because she found them quite comfortable. Yikes. We may be used to seeing clogs today, but in the color-drenched, shoulder-padded, big-haired 1980’s, I thought my mom looked like a hippie throwback in her clogs and socks—bent on embarrassing me. Little did I know I’d feel the same way about my brown velour sweat pants as she did about her teal ones. I didn’t know how comfy it would be to drive the kids to school in my slippers (clogs, of course).

One of the most mortifying phrases she used was to “feel someone out.” Of course I understood she was using the phrase differently than my middle school peers, but I found it embarrassing to say the least. “Lunch on Tuesday? Let’s feel her out about that.” Eeek. I swore I would never, ever let that phrase pass through these superior, dignified lips! Well, the other day, while I was hustling my bustle, I told someone I needed to “feel something out.” Much as I love my mom, I need to wipe that one out of my vocabulary completely before the kids reach middle school. Any suggestions?

I’d like to think that if these phrases and clothing choices wore off on me in those all too short years, some of the important stuff about my mom did, too. I don’t know whether I got her humor, compassion, strength, and acceptance of people where they are, but if I did, I know that my kids, whether I live to 46 or 96, will be better because of it.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Big Day

Happy Valentine’s Day, or is it? My husband informed me he would be out of town on Valentine’s Day this year and asked if I would mind. I told him that my expectations had fallen so low in the past few years that his whereabouts wouldn’t matter too much. He was wounded and couldn’t figure out why I felt this way.

Hmmm. Our Valentine’s problems started two years ago. For weeks the stores advertised the big day. The kids and I had red and pink cards out all over the place as we got ready for class parties. The big day arrived. At breakfast I put out the cards and the gifts I had picked out for my husband and the kids. No card, no word from dear husband. Nothing. That night, at about 11 pm, I could stand it no longer. “WERE YOU PLANNING ON DOING ANYTHING FOR VALENTINE’S DAY?” I asked with clenched teeth. His response, “Well, I called you from the office today. I wouldn’t have done that if it hadn’t been Valentine’s Day.” Gee, thanks for making such a Herculean effort.

I told him I was beyond peeved and explained that when everyone around you is getting some sort of recognition on Valentine’s Day, it stinks to be overlooked. Three days later he came home with a special gift for me. A $300 i-Pod with a red case. As I opened the box, my 5 year old daughter asked the question that I was thinking, “Is that for you or for Mom, Daddy?” It was indeed for me, but to me it felt like a little too much, a lot too late.

Now I’m sure the men reading this are thinking what a high maintenance person I am and how they are glad they aren’t married to me. The women, I hope, will have a shred of compassion-- more so if they know that at the time we had just come off of a pretty stinky 10th anniversary at which time I had clearly and calmly stated my expectations when it came to the marking of romantic holidays. I wanted a card, purchased for the occasion, verbal acknowledgement of the special day, and some sort of small gift, not picked out by me.

Well, you can imagine that after this big brouhaha two years ago I was expecting last Valentine’s Day to be much better. At breakfast I found a short note, written on his everyday stationery (after he had seen the card and gift from me). No gift, no word of acknowledgement, and not even last year’s obligatory phone call from work. Perhaps I should tell you that he was leaving the next day for a weeklong ski trip with “the boys” in Utah. With a new set of skis and boots.

I admit I was pretty sure that since my husband had a lot of making up to do for the year before, and he was leaving me alone with the kids for an entire week, I’d soon be feasting on some pretty impressive chocolate. No dice. As he came home late that night from work, stressed out and needing to pack for his big trip, I mentioned my Valentine’s disappointment. He appeared blindsided.

First tack: “We don’t DO Valentine’s Day. It is just a stupid Hallmark holiday.” Ugh. Second tack: “What are you complaining about? Last year I got you an i-Pod.” Double ugh. He didn’t appear to remember any of the drama surrounding the extravagant electronic gift that he’d been using daily ever since. Tack three: “Well, I was going to order you flowers next week from my ski trip, but now you’ve ruined the surprise.” If he hadn’t left town, I think I would have killed him.

This year, I laid out my expectation that we would, indeed, commemorate Valentine’s Day. I reminded him that being recognized on this “Hallmark holiday” was important to me. He gave me a blank stare and said, “What are you talking about? Didn’t I give you a spa certificate last year?” Ack.

Well, I can’t finish this entry the way I intended because my husband came through with a slam-dunk! This morning (2/13), he woke even earlier than usual and set up my Valentine’s gift—a digital picture frame loaded with 200 photos of family and friends. It was playing in the kitchen when I stumbled in to say goodbye to him. He had already cut up a melon and a pineapple for us to eat while he was away (I’m not a good fruit cutter-upper), and manhandled an enormous limb last night’s ice storm brought down in the middle of the driveway. So, on the day before the “Hallmark holiday,” he surprised me with an incredibly thoughtful gift and several acts of service to boot before I’d even rubbed the sleep out of my eyes.

The “card” was a yellow piece of scrap paper with writing on the back, but we can deal with that next year.

Monday, February 11, 2008

To Do or Not To Do

The new movie “The Bucket List” shows two men trying to suck the marrow out of life before they die. Their “to-do” list is ambitious, and has them jumping out of airplanes, visiting famous landmarks, and mending fences with relatives.

Today I came across a list in my house. It was written on the back of several envelopes and was called “Freindship Club.” Love that first grade spelling. My 6 year old daughter and her 7 year old cousin wrote a list of all the fun things they want to do together.

I thought about the girls’ list, and “The Bucket List,” and I wondered if making a new list of my own would be a good idea. After all, there are lists all around this house. Shopping lists, house projects, books I want to read, even store returns to make. My husband makes lists, too, and adds things as he does them so he can then cross them off and feel productive. I recently made a list of my interests and skills (the interest part was a lot longer than the skills), because I feel like the time has come to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by all the details on my lists, and by my inability to get anything crossed off, so I think maybe a shorter, more meaningful, list is in order for today:

1. Do my Bible study
2. Connect with an old friend by phone or email
3. Take the dog on a long walk, not just until she poops

If I manage to do these things, I think I will feel a whole lot better than if I just spent the day at Target tackling my shopping list. Also, I may peruse the little girls’ list again and see if anything strikes my fancy. I’ll include the list here for you, too, because it doesn’t look like a bad way to spend a day.

1. Plofite (pillow fight)
2. jump
3. stuft animals
4. sing
5. lafing (laughing)
6. tell scary stories (shown as illustration only)
7. tooting (shown as illustration only—is that my enormous rear??)
8. play with dolls
9. read
10. blow your nose
11. read stories
12. dance
13. jump on bed
14. act
15. bilding
16. being friends
17. loveing each other
18. be good
19. do a play

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Come On, Get Happy!

Do you have the winter blahs? At our house, the months December through March are not very pretty. After reading about S.A.D., Seasonal Affective Disorder, I became convinced that at least 2, possibly three of us could use a little extra sunlight during these winter months. S.A.D. can lead to irritability, depression, and tiredness. I also read that this year S.A.D. would be worse than usual for night owls because of the way daylight savings time was extended for an extra month. I didn’t understand any of the science behind this claim, but I sprung into action.

Cruising the net, I saw a lot of light therapy boxes for sale. Most were enormous, monolithic creations that reminded me of the tanning beds I frequented in the 80’s. Not only did they look creepy, as if they had been assembled by either a mad scientist or an 8th grader in his basement, they cost more than $200! I took a leap and ordered a smaller, hipper version from The Sharper Image. It blends in nicely on my kitchen counter, so I can blast the kids with it at breakfast time. We call it “The Happy Light.”

All of the bigger boxes have dramatic testimonials and medical claims on their websites. The Shaper Image one doesn’t make any promises, but I do hope it works. I think it does something, because the first few times we used it, I sat the kids in front of it in the late afternoon, and they couldn’t go to sleep at night. I learned later that optimal exposure is in the MORNING and that using it later can cause insomnia. The Happy Light has not led to any dramatic changes in our moods, but I don’t want to risk not using it. We just got back from 4 days in Cleveland sans Happy Light, and we were none too happy.

The other product I considered getting, but my husband balked at both the concept and the price, was a dawn simulator. I figured we would use this very ordinary looking lamp in the kids’ rooms, and at around 6 am it would start to emit a very delicate glow. By our normal wake-up time of 7:30, the room would be awash in light, and the kids would bound out of bed refreshed and eager to start the day. My husband, however, suggested I could start getting out of bed earlier myself so I would be less cranky (ugh) and flick on the kids’ lights for free. Instead of gentle beams of light, they would awake to our normal sounds of morning, “Get out of bed! Move it! Now!” It is true that on the rare occasion I wake up much earlier than the kids, I feel calm and centered, but I have a hard time convincing myself that it’s such a good idea when my bed is so darn cozy.

I think it’s especially hard for my husband, a morning person, to deal with us on dark winter mornings. By the time the rest of us get up, he has walked the dog, brewed his coffee, played catch with the dog, and started on his morning devotional. He’s perky and cheery, playing Snow White to our Grumpy, Weepy, and Sassy.

Two of my favorite things in the morning are my cereal and the morning paper. I’m not sure if it’s making a difference or not, but I’ve recently added a third element to this morning routine: perching on a stool in front of the Happy Light after the kids head off to school. My husband wouldn’t dare say I need the Happy Light for myself, but I hope he’s reaping its benefits. Maybe the next time Snow White comes flitting into the kitchen, I won’t want to knock one of those annoying little birdies off of his shoulders.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Skirting the Issues

I got my first Lands End catalog of the spring season and I am excited. I am a true bargain shopper, dumpster diver and recycler, but once a year I pore over full price merchandise that runs well over $100 plus shipping. What makes my heart get revved up this way? The Skirted Bathing Suit. For the past seven years or so I’ve worn a skirted bathing suit, and well, it just seems to fit: my life, my personality, my ample backside. I think there are those of us who were born to wear the skirted suit, but we had to wait decades, pulling and tugging on regular suits, until the skirt went mainstream. Well, perhaps not mainstream, but until it became more widely accepted.

I think back to my childhood, when I only saw one or two skirted suits a season, each worn by women in their 70’s or 80’s. The rest of us were doing that trick to find bathing suits with the highest leg openings possible. I didn’t feel successful unless my suit went higher than my hip bones. At some point someone had told us that the higher cut the leg, the longer our legs would appear. I think it was the same person who told us orange blush applied in a line on our cheekbones would make our faces look more defined. Anyway, back then, skirted suits were not on the fashion radar.

It wasn’t until I became a mom, quit my job, and started hanging out at the neighborhood pool that the necessity for a skirted suit became crystal clear to me. First of all, I went from lounging in a deck chair reading a magazine, to chasing toddlers around. My regular suit would not stay put, and unless you are in Rio, a wedgie is not a good look at a public pool. Second, I realized that the neighborhood pool would be frequented by, well, my neighbors. While my goal as a teenager at the pool was to see and be seen, I now wished I could fade into the background or hide behind my wacky noodle. Chatting about preschool or church issues with my neighbors, as I stood around in the equivalent of my underwear, felt just plain weird.

I thought back to my childhood and a few things fell into place. I remembered that as soon as my sister and I were able to splash around in the water by ourselves, my mom was out of the water and back “on the deck” wearing street clothes. I remember thinking this was really odd when I was a kid, for there is not much more miserable that sweating in street clothes in the hot sun while those around you are cool and comfortable in the water. I realize now my mother, not too happy with her body, preferred to sweat it out rather than be seen in a bathing suit by people she could run into at the local Safeway. We never talked about it, but I do remember how excited she was when we finally earned our swim patches and could walk down to the pool by ourselves. She enthusiastically handed us our towels, snack money, (no sunscreen of course!), and sent us out the door for the day. I realize now what was missing. She didn’t have the skirted suit.

I have become so accustomed to my skirted suit that perhaps I’ve become a little too comfortable. There is no way the suit covers all my cellulite, which is creeping down toward my knees, yet I wear it with confidence. Each January I used to panic about my flabby legs and plunge into an exercise routine; now I just order one size up. Also, no more shaving for me. I figured the skirted suit freed me from this dreaded ritual forever. Last summer, however, when my little girl learned to swim, she came up for breath and said, “Mommy, with my goggles on I can see the ladies’ hair “down there.” “Oh, Really?” I responded. “No, just yours.” I guess there is such a thing as being too comfortable.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Don't Bite the Hand That Feeds You

Shadow the dog has diarrhea. Dear husband had to get up 2 times a night for the past 2 nights to let her out. She doesn’t bark, just paces the bedroom frantically, filling it with noxious odors until none of us can take it any longer. We’re not exactly sure what has caused it, but we have our suspicions.

Our neighbor has been leaving food out “for the animals.” Now I have nothing against feeding the birds. Watching our favorite flock of downy woodpeckers, chickadees and tufted titmice outside the kitchen windows is one of the highlights of winter for our family. But I think Frank has something other than birds in mind when he dumps leftover meat, pans of pasta and the like on the ground outside his house. We’ve tried to keep Shadow away from the dumping area, but our houses are so close together, it’s almost like living communally. Whenever she goes out, she makes a beeline over there to see what delicacies await. Burgers? Rice Pilaf?

I asked Frank’s wife about this behavior, and she explained where it’s coming from. He is 75, a child of the depression. He grew up fatherless after age 2. In the country. In Kentucky. His mother supported 5 kids on a teacher’s salary, and they learned to waste nothing. Now that I read this, I realize what a jerk I sound like for even writing about this sweet soul. Who would rank on an elderly neighbor trying to feed the animals?

I guess my question is, what kind of animals are we attempting to save here? We’re not in the country; we’re in the heart of suburbia. The deer are vegetarians and they have my entire garden of hosta to eat. The birds have feeders, and the squirrels get plenty chubby eating what they steal from the birds. Are we feeling sorry for the rats? The raccoons? A wayward fox or two? Ugh.

The other day, Shadow came back with half a pizza in her mouth, which may have prompted this bout of diarrhea. I don’t have the heart to say anything else to our neighbors. In fact, as I write this, I think I’ve realized the best solution is to try harder to keep a tighter rein on the dog.

After all, what do I have to gripe about? The way these neighbors pick up our mail and newspapers for us when we are out of town, no pre-arrangement necessary? The way they laughed it off when Shadow pooped in their yard and took an uninvited dip in their swimming pool? The way they treat our kids like grandchildren, buying presents for birthdays and Christmas that reflect the kids’ interests perfectly? The way their warmth next door has helped our kids learn to hug, talk to, and interact with adults other than mom and dad? Perhaps I’d like to grumble about the homemade cakes for our anniversary each year? The more I think about it, I guess you learn about a whole lot more than just feeding animals in rural, depression-era Kentucky. Maybe there are some life lessons for me there too.