Monday, May 27, 2013

Stuff I have learned

I will turn 48 years old next month. That just sounds so...middle age! I don't feel middle age. I also don't know that I have acquired the wisdom I was promised would come with age. Older and not so much wiser? That's me. I have learned some things in my years, so, thinking about them, I sat right down to add them to this box full of letters.

*Having six kids is hard work. So is having one. Or two. Or three. Trust me...I have done it. The only thing harder with six than with one is that you can spread yourself pretty thin. But, I have seen some people spread themselves pretty thin with only one kid. The other stuff just kind of evens itself out. I am telling you this at the risk of losing my "I would help, but, you know...I have six kids" card.

*Having six kids is expensive. Duh. Eight people in a house is expensive, but I like to look at it like this...we are actually conservationists. To those who worry that we are leaving too large of a carbon footprint, consider this: we use the same amount of electricity to light, heat and cool our house with eight people inside as you use to light, heat and cool your house with three people inside. Car pooling? We do it every day. Cooking from scratch? We can't afford to do it any other way. Yes, our clothing an shoe budget is tight as heck, but hand me downs are the bomb-diggity. (I can't believe I just typed out bomb-diggity)

*Even though I dress like a slob most days, rarely "do" my hair, have dry, scaly skin and have the most un-glamorous life you can imagine, my eight year old thinks I'm beautiful and likes to paint my fingernails with red, glittery polish. So, I let her and it makes me feel half foolish and half pretty. So, see yourself through your younger children's eyes and you will feel pretty darn good.

*Seeing yourself through your teenage daughter's eyes is not good for your self-esteem. 'Nuff said.

*Reading is better than TV watching.

*Go ahead and hop in that picture. I always thought I looked too fat or not dressed well enough to get in photos with my kids. Now, here they are, mostly grown and I have zero pictures of myself with them. And,
the funny thing is, I wish I looked as young as I did back then. So, get in those pics and make some memories for after you're gone.

*People like to have you listen to them. From the youngest kid to the oldest pal, people enjoy eye contact and meaningful responses to their words. You can tell when someone is waiting for you to take a breath or a pause so that they can jump in with the story that will most definitely top yours. There will be time for you to talk later. To be a good listener is to be a good friend.

*Grocery shopping is not fun. Neither is doing laundry, cooking meals, cleaning house or driving people around. Yet, these things are the fabric of my life as a "housewife", a job I wouldn't trade for all the tea in China. I guess it's because I really love and cherish those for whom I do these tasks. Go figure.

*Talking politics and/or religion is usually a bad idea among friends and definitely among strangers. Throw in the anonymity of an online persona and there is bound to be trouble. If you enjoy keeping your blood pressure within the healthy, normal range, you should avoid participating in online debates about these topics and, for the love of God, don't read the comments section of most articles. That's where the trolls live, and they are nasty.

*You only need about 1/4 of the things on the "What you need" lists you find in books when having a baby.
Most of the stuff you get at a baby shower is unnecessary. After your third or fourth kid, you realize that all you need are diapers, onsies, gowns, cloth diapers (seriously, you can use these things for practically everything), a crib and a set of lactating breasts.The rest is fluff. Seriously. And,save your money for cute clothes for baby when he/she is old enough to wear them more than once. They grow that fast.

*If you serve regular meals to your family, your kids grow up eating regular food. If you feed your kids chicken nuggets and hot dogs because they don't want to eat "grown up" food, you will be cooking two separate meals, one for you and your spouse and one for the kids for the rest of their home lives. Have fun with that!

*Note to self: If you kind of have to go to the bathroom before you leave the house, you better go. You aren't in your 20's any more. Your days of "holding it" are over, my friend!

*I have learned (the hard way, unfortunately) that kids usually work out their differences with friends on their own. They like to choose their own friends. There is a real trend of mom cliques these days. I have had my feelings hurt for myself an my kids because the mom cliques kind of dictate who your kids get to be friends with. It's sometimes hard to navigate through friendships if your kids and your friend's kids don't like each other. It's even harder if your kid really likes another kid, but for whatever reason, the mom doesn't like you. Your kid will get left out and talked about. It's stupid and it sucks. But, if you try your best to stay out of the drama, it passes. I mean, think about it. How much of your day to day childhood do you really remember?

*Probably the most important thing I have learned is, be your spouse's best friend. Stand by each other. Be a united front. Put up with each other's stuff and be thankful that they put up with yours. Put your relationship with your spouse ahead of friendships and even the kids. The order of priorities should be God, spouse, then kids. I don't always get it right, but I know that my life feels right when I do.

I'm sure I have a few more things to learn. I plan on being around for a lot longer, so it'll give me something to do. Feel free to add to this list. What have you learned?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Jumping on the self improvement bandwagon

I have been thinking a lot about self improvement and living in such a way that sets a better example for my children. Of course I made specific New Year's Resolutions, but I have never really set a resolution and held myself accountable to its completion. I was recently inspired by a blogger I like to read. Courtney Kendrick is turning 37 and blogged the 37 things she hopes to accomplish this year. You can read them here. Now, Courtney is a well known blogger and I am only a legend in my own mind, so I do not have grand goals that involve famous musicians and exclusive film festivals. Also, I am turning 48 this year and there is no way I am making 48 goals, so I am going to go with "13 Goals in 2013". I think cjane will understand. I will have these goals written here on the blog and therefor I will be holding myself accountable. I may even update occasionally when a goal is met. Isn't this exciting? I can literally feel the excitement! Or maybe I have gas. I don't know...

1. I am going to learn something new. I have a new camera. It is digital and it is able to shoot  both automatic and manual photos. I am going to learn how to use that sucker! I am eager to tap into my artistic side. I rarely do that any more. I don't have a huge amount of artistic ability. Okay, I hardly have any. But I am going to tap into it, dang it! The bottom line is, prepare yourselves for an onslaught of Basso kids pictures.

2. I will go to a concert at The Cain's Ballroom. Of course, this will take some convincing of the guy who will be buying my tickets. I hope he wants to go see They Might Be Giants on March 13th. I hope he is reading this and wondering how he can help me achieve my goals. 

3. I will finally lose that pesky postpartum weight. Never mind that my "baby" is almost eight years old. 

4. I will get off my butt and work towards participating in the Tulsa Run in October. I have been promising Mike I would do this for years. I am grounded in reality enough to realize I will not be running the full marathon. But I fully intend to sign up for the Fun Run and do it with all of my kids and my husband. 

5. I will adjust our menus and cook more clean and healthy meals so that it becomes a lifestyle rather than a "diet". We do enjoy eating fresh fruits and vegetable and only occasionally eat processed foods. I would like to eliminate them completely from our diet. Also, less red meat, more fish, less starchy vegetables, more leafy greens, less white sugar, flour and pasta and more wheat and grains. I bet you can't wait until I invite you to dinner!

6. All of our closet spaces and attic storage areas will be organized and clutter free. Better yet, they will stay that way. I am tired of clutter and disorganization. I would like my kids to learn to be more respectful of the spaces we have to store and organize our things. That hall closet of ours that is the Black Hole of Calcutta needs a plan and we need to stick to it. 

7. Pizza Night is back. For a while, Friday night was Pizza Night. We made our own dough and topped our own pizzas. I'm not sure why we quit. I guess we just got busy and stopped making time for it. Well, it's time to bring it back. The last time we did it, we made individual pizzas. That was really fun. We had a contest to see whose pizza looked the best. Yeah..I'm pretty sure I nailed it.

8. I want to go ice skating. It has been a really, really long time since I have skated. I may end up in traction, but I want to do it! It may have to wait until next winter, but the outdoor rink at the BOK center seems fun.

9. I'm going to try to be a little more selfish with my time. I do not regret that I spend most of my time doing things for my family. I consider it my full time job, sorta. Well, I tend to forget to do certain things for myself that affect the way I feel. Like not keep on top of my hair cuts, or forget to use my foot scrubs and lotions. This year, as soon as I get my hair styled, I would like to stay on top of it instead of resorting to the good 'ol headband when my hair outgrows the style. (like right now)

10. More board games, less bored games. I love playing games with the kids, but lately I have allowed them to fill their "I'm bored!" time with TV and computers. Since I don't watch the TV, we end up in different parts of the house. I don't like that! I want us to do more things together. I just taught Anna how to play Backgammon and I think we need to have some marathons. Clare has been pestering me to play Monopoly. We have more games than Toys R Us, a table in the game room, plenty of players...time to play some games!

11. Birthdays. I get overwhelmed. I get lazy. I send facebook notes instead of birthday cards. I really want to make sure my friends and family know I am thinking of them on their special day, so I want to get cards and use actual snail mail. I know that it sounds like an easy goal to achieve  but it really is a challenge for me. I have already missed a couple of nieces birthdays in early 2013. Time to get going on this one!!

12. Let it go. I don't really consider myself a grudge holder, but sometimes I find myself having a pity party for something that may have happened during the Reagan administration. Or hanging on to hurts that should have long ago been healed. I had a rough year socially a couple of years ago. I still find myself licking the wounds and feeling like an unforgivable chump, isolating myself from people and activities. It is time to let it all go. I have great friends that I enjoy and an awesome family. What more does a girl need? It's harder to measure the success or failure of this particular goal, but I have found a great personal exercise that I have started to employ when I feel those old feelings of worthlessness come creeping up. I feel more positive and therefore am easier to be around. I hope to soon feel like socializing again. 

13. Procrastinate less...starting tomorrow. Ever since I was in 7th grade and waited until the last day of Christmas vacation to write a research paper, I have promised myself that I would quit procrastinating. That was followed by a high school and college career full of last minute runs to the library, caffeine fueled all-nighters and, admittedly, half-assed work cranked out at zero hour. Now that I have kids of my own, I use my foibles as a cautionary tale. I still find myself rushing to do things at the last minute, though, and frankly, I drive myself nuts. "When will you learn?", my mom is probably thinking. My mom doesn't procrastinate. My husband doesn't procrastinate. Half of my kids don't procrastinate. (and the other half...I'm sorry. You are a lot like me) 2013 will be my year to stop procrastinating. The fact that this New Year Resolution type blog post wasn't written until late February should give you an idea of how #13 is going...

Friday, February 1, 2013

What I think happened this week

I have a few blog posts sitting in the drafts folder. After a long week of being sick, I tried to read through them to edit, and darned if I couldn't make it through a single one! If I don't feel like reading them, you sure as heck won't! So, instead, I'm going to post a little recap.

Things that happened this week.

*Since we were ill, after dropping the recovered kids back at school, Mike and I lay still in our bed, taking Ibuprofen, drinking NyQuil, sipping tea, contemplating the profundity of life....and watching Netflix. Lots and lots of Netflix.

*I woke each morning and roused sleeping children, fed them pop tarts, drove them to school and then went back to bed. I don't remember doing these things very well, but clearly I did them. It reminds me of those times when I was younger, driving home from parties and....oh, never mind.

*I started to play a game on Facebook called Candy Crush Saga. It required no skill, no interaction with others, had pretty, shiny candy coated shapes to visually stimulate me and made me feel like I was accomplishing something. I apologize to everyone who had to suffer through the endless notifications alerting the world to the fact that I was creating those crazy candy combos and crushing those sugar coated bombs with striped jelly beans. It's almost as bad as Spotify ratting you out for listening to Justin Bieber.

*I fed the children. They had a meal each night that I prepared for them. The meals weren't always square and some forms of frozen fare were most definitely consumed. But they ate, dang it. I would like to thank the Tyson geniuses who created dinosaur shaped nuggets.

*The kids bickered. I know this virus left me feeling pretty darned grumpy and I guess the kids weren't immune to the grump. They bickered about anything and everything and aside from our occasional correcting lectures, they pretty much heard nothing from us. I just didn't have the wherewithal.

*I read a couple of books. I may have to re-read them now that the green haze has worn off. Green being the color of NyQuil.

*I started some laundry. I folded a couple of loads, the kids folded some and put it away and some is still clean in baskets. I did no housework. I doled out the kitchen chores to anyone recovered enough to eat food. It was done well enough for a sick house.

That's about it. It wasn't an exciting week, but kind of eerie now that I am on the other side of it and recalling all of the things I did in a sort of sick stupor. Like a distant, foggy memory. How was YOUR week?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Take a picture, it'll last longer

The art of photography has changed so much in the last 30 years. It really boggles my mind. Some say the art is lost in our digital age. I don't necessarily agree with that, because I have seen some really beautiful recent photography that I would consider artistic, but I do understand that the form has evolved tremendously and not always for the better. Consider the sheer amount of teens snapping their self portraits and taking mindless pics of their friends sticking out their tongues, planking, making duckfaces...the obligatory mirror shot, smart phone in hand. There is certainly a lost appreciation for the medium.

When I was a young girl, around 11 or 12, I was thrilled to receive a camera for Christmas. My cousin, Denise, also got one. The rolls of film were easy to install and simple to eject. The cameras were point and shoot. Since I grew up in the 70's and 80's, there was no digital display. You just shot picture after picture without knowing what the end result would be. I can remember my dad getting a little annoyed with us. He would say something about the money spent developing a bunch of pictures of our friends making dumb faces. (hmmm...the more things change the more they stay the same) I also recall using hard earned babysitting money to develop rolls of film and getting back an envelope filled with grainy shots, pictures of my own finger and if I was lucky, two or three decent shots of an actual intended subject. Each roll of 25 possible shots usually yielded 2 of my cat and maybe one of my brothers and sister. In that respect, the digital age is a huge bonus. Ya gotta love the little garbage can "delete" button!

I sometimes forget to appreciate the easy access to picture taking we are now afforded. When my parents were kids, they either sat for portraits or had a very rare and occasional picture taken. When I was a baby, cameras were a little bit more accessible, but the family portrait was still the thing. I don't have books and boxes full of pictures of myself as a baby like my kids do. If we were to develop all of the pictures we take now, we would need another house just to store them. Digital file storage is another awesome convenience I sometimes forget to appreciate.

I never owned a Polaroid, but thought they were pretty cool
My first camera was a Kodak 110 that used this type of film
I developed hundreds of these rolls

I had one of these disk cameras
I was cleaning out a drawer recently and found 3 rolls of 35mm film that had never been taken in to be developed. I'm going to take them to the CVS today and drop them off. I am excited and anxious to see what they is on them. When I get them back in a few days, I will share!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bloom where you are planted

Mike was offered a job in Illinois recently. When he first brought up the possibility of interviewing for the job, I cried. I was so hopeful. Back to Illinois! Home! Then, I went about my business here in Tulsa, but secretly I was googling the area. I was checking out the schools, the cost of living, the proximity to family...I was planning Thanksgiving gatherings in my mind. I didn't say much to Mike because after the interview, he wasn't even hopeful for an offer. I didn't want to nag or press. A week or so later, he did receive an offer. Then it was real. He had some thinking to do and we had a huge decision to make. Ultimately, we made the decision to stay in Tulsa. The move would have been difficult for the kids, especially the college and high school kids, but we know they would have adapted, so that wasn't the deciding factor. It just wasn't a smart move job wise.

We have lived in Tulsa for sixteen years and I still think of Illinois as home. As a married couple, we have lived in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Ohio again and Oklahoma. We have spent the longest time together here. Yet, I have lived this life here as if we will soon be leaving. Leaving and going home. We bought a beautiful house about 5 years ago. I have only done the bare minimum when it comes to decorating. It really doesn't feel like "ours". I have always had this lingering feeling in the back of my mind that I ought not get too attached or go out of my way to really fix it up, since we aren't staying. It wasn't a rational feeling or even one I was highly conscience of, yet it was there.

When it became clear that moving "back home" wouldn't be a good move, I was a little angry. Perplexed. Why would God present this opportunity to us, then when we prayed about it, make it clear to us that Tulsa is where we should stay? What was the point? Then I understood. We were faced with a choice. We weighed pros and cons. We chose Tulsa. We were forced to look at what we have here in this city, in this state and say to ourselves, "This is home. This is where we are staying.". I have a new attitude about Tulsa, born of contentment. I will be content here. This will be home. I may never know the reason we are supposed to be here, but I can accept it and embrace it.

In my 16 years here I have kept a short list of "Things to Appreciate about Tulsa" in my journal. I have tried to find the beauty. Reasons to love living here. Here are some pretty awesome things about T-town:

1. I have a good friend, Denise, who is also a transplanted Tulsan. She grew up in Seattle. She once mentioned to me that in her own search for beauty in Tulsa, she realized that crepe myrtles are something that do not grow in Washington. They are beautiful. I never saw them until we lived here. We have two in our front yard and they thrive every year, rain or shine, no matter how hot it gets. Ours are white and our neighbors have violet and bright pink. They are striking to see and they are survivors. You have to love that.

2. The music! Tulsa is home to The Cain's Ballroom, a legendary music venue and historic landmark that has been around since 1924. It was the site of the radio broadcasts of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in the 1950's. In 1978, The Cain's was one of the few venues that opened their doors to The Sex Pistols. From then on, The Cain's was recognized as a pioneering force in the music industry. I was surprised when we moved here at the eclectic array of bands that come to play. And now that the BOK Center has been built, huge arena bands come to town, also. There are also multitudes of musicians from Tulsa. The Hansons, Garth Brooks, The Flaming Lips, Roy Clark and Patti Page to name a few. Now, if only I could make it to some concerts.

Philbrook Museum of Art
3. Tulsa has two art museums, an Air and Space Museum, a Planetarium and a Children's Museum. There are beautiful gardens, breathtakingly beautiful parks and oil boom architecture. The Blue Dome district has some cool art deco buildings and Cherry Street has hip shopping establishments and restaurants. There are bike trails, a riverwalk and some top notch private schools. The University of Tulsa is one of the best small, private colleges in the United States. Tulsa Tech graduates are recruited from all over and is a highly respected school for computer technology. Opportunities abound in this town.

4. Tulsa isn't as big as Chicago or Cincinnati. It is big enough to do just about anything you want to do, though. Whenever I am in heavy morning traffic, I think back to the days when we lived in DeKalb an I had a teaching job in the Chicago suburbs. It took me 90 minutes to drive about 30 miles every day, each way. And I paid about $5 in tolls a day. I haven't seen a good car fire since the early 90's! I used to either see one or hear about one every day. That was bad traffic. In Tulsa, we just have minor inconveniences.


                                          I used to imagine Tulsa looked like this....
Your teepee or mine?

....and this.

But, it really looks like this....

I don't like it when it looks like this, though...

There is beauty in Tulsa. Five of my six kids were born in Tulsa. Mike has a great job in Tulsa. Tulsa is home. 2013 is the year I'm going to bloom where I have been planted.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Burnin' down the house

Shit just got real...

Honestly, this is how I feel today. I have pledged to go through each room of the house and focus on it exclusively. Time to declutter and deep clean. You know what that means, right? The rest of the house goes straight to hell while you are focusing on the one area. I shouldn't complain, though. So I won't!

Today is mud room day. I would take before/after pictures like a good blogger should (?) but I have too much pride for you to see the "before" shots! Just think "Fibber McGee's closet". Closets. There are two. If you have to google "Fibber McGee", then you didn't grow up in a house where your mom called your bedroom "Fibber McGee's closet". Me and messy rooms and closets go WAY back!

Fourty-seven isn't too old to change, is it?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Five Unintentional Instances of Utterly Ineffective Parenting

These instances may or may not have happened at our home. You don't know! I may have just read about them on the internet or something!

1. In a classic moment of  "Do as I say, not as I do" a mother got busted eating ice cream after talking to the kids about choosing healthy snacks and not needing a dessert every single night. I'd like to say this only has happened once, but that would be lying. Lying sets yet another bad example for the kids.

2. A mother told her young daughter in the space of five minutes these two things: "Stop crying or I will give you something to cry about." and "If you tell me you are bored one more time, I will give you something to do...and you won't like it." Immediately after saying these two things, the mother realized they had the same effect on the daughter as they had on her when she was a young girl and her mom uttered the same words to her. Not any effect whatsoever.

3. A mother, being frustrated at the lack-luster quality of her older daughter's dish washing, announced, "If you don't do a better job at rinsing those dishes, I'm going to have to walk over there and do it for you." The daughter was caught in a strange moment of wanting to be respectful to her mom, yet wanting to laugh at her, step aside and let her mother show her how it's done. Luckily, her mom spared her the task of deciding which road to go down and reworded her half-assed threat into something along the lines of, "Do it right or you will get to practice your craft all next week when it's your sister's turn to do dishes.".

4. A mother was having a serious discussion with her children about language. She explained that using sanitized forms of curse words, such as "freaking", "fudge-nuts", "shiz", "cheese and rice" and the like is really not a good idea. The mind automatically goes to the curse word and it makes you sound crass. She also used the opportunity to remind them that bathroom words might be funny sometimes, but to give it a rest, please. Feeling pleased with herself for making her point and wanting to freshen her breath a bit, she picked up a roll of Mentos. She squeezed the roll to pop one out but inadvertently squeezed the closed end. A majority of the Mentos flew out the open side and onto the floor. Exasperated, she yelled out "SHIT!"...then employed the 3 second rule and sheepishly glanced around at the delighted faces of her offspring. To this day, the kids beg me...uh, I mean "say the S word like the time she dropped all the Mentos". Apparently, it was hilarious.

5. Upon hearing slapping sounds and cries of anger from the back seat of the car, a frustrated mother yelled out "HEY!". Coincidentally, the Lumineer's song "Ho Hey" was playing on the car radio, and the mother just happened to yell HEY in time with the song, and so the kids yelled back HO and the mother's indignation was completely ignored as all of the children burst into laughter.