Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Disgust of Social Media

I am completely disenchanted with social media.

I realize that sounds like an oxymoron as I use social media every single day; multiple times a day. In fact, I might even admit that I am addicted to social media. After twenty some years of being a social worker, I find that I am inquisitive. I like to know how things happen and why things happen. In addition, I am just a big people watcher.

So, then, what is my complaint? Sure, I often scratch my head at some things that people post.  I absolutely believe you should resolve personal problems face to-face and not through Facebook. Yes, I do get annoyed when people post photos of their children in near naked status {am I the only one that is aware of perpetrators?}.

But none of that is my complaint. My complaint is the news sites. All of our local news stations have a Facebook page and post breaking news. One one hand that is very helpful information. On the other hand, every single person on Facebook can comment on the news story.

As current events occur, I talk about them with my family and friends. I have even been known to develop opinions about them. Those opinions are shared intimately. Not publicly.

This past week several traumatic events have occurred in the city that I live.  People died. A car crashed into a daycare. A babies body was found discarded in the trash. The media posted these stories on social media and then continued to update the stories with multiple post.

The story should end there. But it does not. So many people posted comments under the news stories. They make wild allegation, off-the-wall hypothesis based on their own biases and judgments. They hold nothing back. They become judge and jury. They demand information that they have no right to. They do it publicly for all to see.

When I was a young teen, my family suffered a huge tragedy. My Uncle was mysteriously killed. In fact, his death remains a huge source of wonder in our family. His death was painful. But what made it worse was how very public (or at least what we thought was public back then) it was. Both newspaper and radio ran stories. We could not escape the public reminders.

Back then the closest thing we had to social media was the town donut shop. And yes, when we walked into the donut shop, people did stare at us. But you know what they also did; they shut up. They had enough decency to keep their comments to themselves. There was enough respect to us and our community to maintain a level of civility.

What is wrong with us that we no longer see the benefit of that? Unfortunately, the anonymity of the computer and cyberspace makes some feel like they can type anything that enters our minds whether it should be said or not.  Reading a story on the internet does not give you all the facts. Responding to a request on social media to aid a community that asks for help does not give you the right to private/personal information.

Part of my self-care is that I am absolutely going to refuse to read any comments posted under a news site.  However, I would like to challenge everyone else. Stop and think a moment before you type that comment. Can it be misconstrued? Can it be offensive? Will it cause even more hurt? Is it necessary?

If you can answer yes to any of those questions, then just step away from the computer. And go have that conversation with a friend or a spouse in private. Leave it off of Facebook. Don't tweet it. Just don't.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Sandlot Tour

One of our favorite movie’s of all time just celebrated its twentieth year anniversary. The Sandlot was originally released four years before my son, The Boy, was even born.  He actually got the movie for a present when he was three years old and he loved it so much that we wore that VHS out.

Have you seen this movie? Or maybe a better question would be, “How many times have you seen this movie?”  When it came out the late, famed movie critique, Roger Ebert said The Sandlot was a summertime version of A Christmas Story.  The story is about a young boy who recently moved into a new place. He meets eight boys who play ball together and although he has no baseball skill, out of necessity he becomes their ninth player. All goes well, unless you count the black-eye, until their baseball gets hit over the fence. Then they encounter “The Beast”, a rather large dog that eats baseballs for dinner. The movie is funny, memorable, totally quotable, and is a cute story of a group of boys who are growing up and finding themselves.

This photo has nothing to do with this story other than it was taken at the ball park. But isn't she cute!

To celebrate the anniversary there is currently a Sandlot Tour crossing the county, making twenty stops at twenty different ball parks. This past week, the tour came to our Community America Ballpark, home of the Kansas City T-Bones. The T-Bones are a professional baseball team part of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball league, which is not affiliated with MLB. The director, co-writer, and voice of the narrator of The Sandlot was at the game last week where he threw out the first pitch, signed autographs all game long, sang the 7th inning stretch song, “Take Me Out To The Ballpark”, hosted a trivia contest after the game, and introduced a special viewing of the movie on the jumbo-screen.

7th Inning Stretch "Take Me Out To The Ballgame!"

It was absolutely the best night to be at the ballpark watching baseball. Temps were below average for this time of the year in this part of the country. The tickets are so reasonable at Community America Park, and who can beat a $2.00 hot dog? Apparently, not my family!

The Boy got to meet David Mickey Evans, the director of The Sandlot, and get his copy of the movie autographed. The Boy was so awe-struck he just stood in front of David Mickey Evans and tried to formulate simple words! He performed worse during the trivia session and maybe left a little broken hearted that he failed to obtain an “I made out with Wendy Peffercorn” t-shirt!

The Short Chic had never seen the movie, The Sandlot. She has shown little interest in baseball but rather spends all of her days watching Princesses. She had no idea what the fuss was about until they started giving out posters during the trivia session. Then she decided she had to have one. Of course, with The Boy’s sudden loss of words, we did not win a poster and she left crying.  Luckily for her, we found a discarded poster in the parking lot, a little worse for wear but she is five, and she went to bed extra happy that night.

First Pitch

The next day, she and her brother snuggled together on the coach and he watched The Sandlot for the bizzionth time and she watched it for the very first time. She came running downstairs to tell us that she loved it and can’t wait to watch it again! All weekend long she has been telling us funny parts from the movie. Here we go again!

Oh, Mr. David Mickey Evans, I hope you will consider doing a 40th reunion tour so she can come and meet you when she is older!

Check out David Mickey Evans blog  to find out if The Sandlot Tour is coming to your hometown.

Friday, July 26, 2013

My Little Fashionista!

This is The Short Chic. She is all about fashion! I am not sure if she is a fashionista, yet. But some day I believe she might be.

She is about to set a new trend. She has been wearing this new look for the past three days. Can you spot it?

Look closer...down there....

Forget mismatched socks. This girl is all about the mismatched shoes!

Here is another version. Seriously, we do not wear mismatched socks in our family. So, I am not sure where she came up with this. The other day she wore one flip flip and one dress sandle. Why? She said, "just because I wanted to."

On another note, maybe I should stop making her Easy Peasy Flip Flops!

And if she could not get any siller, she now thinks she is a cat. MEOW!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Liver Cheese: A Family Tradition

Today is an anniversary date. One of those dates you wish you did not have to remember but there is no way you can forget. 

Fifteen years ago today,two days after his birthday, my father died of lung cancer. He was a lifelong smoker and his cancer was aggressive. His battle was short. He fought for six short months after his diagnosis. He knew the chemo was not working and that his time was limited. When he came to this realization he became the best dad in the world. 

In the days before my father's passing, my family shared some memorable moments. One of those moments centers around the deli meat: Liver Cheese.I would not be surprised if you have never heard of it, or even never tasted it. But I was raised on it as it was one of my Dad's favorite things. 

What is it? Well, it is a German food that is actually called Leberkase. It is bacon, corned beef, pork, and onion that is ground together and baked. It comes with a lard ring around the meat {which kinda grosses me out, so I remove it}. For my family, fresh deli Liver Cheese is way better than the packaged stuff any day!

As my family gathered fifteen years ago, someone from our small caring community brought us some fresh deli Liver Cheese. My poor dad had not eaten anything in days.  {A fact that Hospice told us would happen. As the cancer progresses the patient looses interest and sadly food just feeds the cancer}. I, however, was hungry and made myself a Liver Cheese sandwich. I took my sandwich into our living room as sitting space was very limited. I ended up sitting on my dad's hospital bed expecting him to be asleep or incoherent due to all the morphine he was one. 

As I was eating my sandwich, my father awoke, and in a moment of clarity, he asked me what I was eating. I told him and asked him back, "you want a bite?" He did and I offered him my sandwich. He took such a huge bite he almost bit my finger!

Sadly, a day later he died. 

Now, every year on either the anniversary of his passing or his birthday, my mother, brother, son, and myself eat Liver Cheese.

I like my sandwich on white bread {which is weird because I normally prefer whole grain}, mayo, onion,, and Liver Cheese. 

Just the way Dad liked it.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Public Admission(s)

I am going to publically acknowledge that I have been a poor blogger this spring/summer.

It is not that I have finally ran out of things to say {like that could ever happen!}. Or that my life has gone bland {we are still spicing it up over here!}. Or that health concerns still do not impact me {in fact, a dear friend of mine is facing one now}.

The truth of the matter is, I will formally admit, I have finally spread myself too thin. There Husband. I have formally admitted that I have a problem. I. Take.On. Too. Much!

I have always wanted my kids to be involved in what I call "pro-social" activities. They are the type of activites you want your kids involved with (organized sports, dance, 4-H, piano lessons, book clubs, cheer, science club, chess club, ect.) as oppossed to those activities you do not want your kids invovled with (reckless behavior like drinking, drugs, non-stop video gaming, sleeping all day, sex, criminal activity, ect).

When we just had The Boy, it was pretty easy. We did one sport at a time and then moved on to the next one. The Short Chic has been too young for much but we were pretty good at limiting them to one thing at a time. I use to wonder how people with multipe kids juggled it all.

Until this spring. And the flood gates opened!  The Boy played spring baseball on a rec league. He played basketball with a rec league, and then still did high school basketball off-season conditioning. The Short Chic was in dance, gymanstics, for the first time ever t-ball, private swim lessons, and the grand-daddy of them all Kindergarten Summer School!

The Husband and I found ourselves somewhere with one or both kids every single night of the week except one. It seems that since we made it home from Disneyworld in March we have been meeting ourselves coming and going. Of course, it was not all about the kids either. I took a road trip in May with Miss Medical Student.

We have camped twice already this summer, we have been working on the Twinkie, gave up and bought a pop-up camper, went on a Float Trip, made several trips to my mother's, attended two family reunions, and got a new roof put on the house.

In addition, I know have offically one month until my huge keynote presentation at work. All of my energy for writing has been zapped up in writing this presentation. Can I say, that I will be relieved when it is over.
Maybe things are slowing down. We certaintly have more free nights at home. Hopefully I can interact with you all a little more! Thanks for your understanding!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Midwest Heat

You know those fake candles. The ones that run on batteries and don't really have a flame but they flicker and look like they are burning?

Well, they melt in the Midwest heat just like a real candle.

Just ask me. I know first hand.

A Missouri Mini-Vacation

Missouri is full of vacation spots. Some of them are obvious {Kansas City, St. Louis, Branson, even The Lake of the Ozarks}but some of them are less than obvious. We recently went on one of those less than obvious ones.

We planned a four day getaway to Dora, Missouri to camp and canoe on The North Fork River. Here in Missouri, we call it a "float trip".

What can you expect on a float trip?

1. Some driving.

Most of the rivers that we float on are in the southern part of our state. It took us a good 5 hours {not including stops} to get to Dora, Missouri. At this point, even Missourian's are probably asking, "Where is Dora, Missouri?" Well, it is 40 driving miles away from West Plains, Missouri.

As is typical with most float trips, you can not access the river by interstate. Nope, in fact you must get off the busy roads and take the roads less traveled. We prefer to pop in a CD full of good ole country music and just enjoy the ride.

Of course, you will see lots of these signs:

It gets curvy and hilly in the southern part of our state. It is the Ozark Mountains afterall!

2. Some Camping.

In Dora, Missouri, we stayed at The River of Life Farm. They are most famous for their treetop cabins {actually featured in the Wall Street Journal} which is how I found this isolated, friendly resort.  We ended up not staying in a treetop cabin but instead we used their RV spots for our Pop-up Campers.

When we arrived at the resort, we were greated by Bob, the Resturant Manager. He welcomed us all and invited us to an ice cream social. I think I might have busted his bubble a little because he used a standard joke about how no one brings ice cream to the resort so he supplies it. I had to tell him that we came prepared to make our own ice cream using our tin cans .  We immediately got to meet the owners and managers of the resort. The McKee's. All of us shared a first impression; these folks are just down right nice. Despite the fact that we had reservations, the owners encouraged us to wonder the RV sites and pick out the best ones for us.

We ended up selecting a double site at the end of this long road. We were a little ways from the public bathroom and showers but we were also isolated.

We set up camp and quickly set about enjoying the beautiful river.

3. Some river time!

On our second day at River of Life Farm, we woke, had breakfast, made lunch and headed to the boat ramp. From their we piled into canoe's and went about floating down stream for a scheduled 4-5 mile float.

Here is my Short Chic ready for her first float. Water guns are a cool thing to take on the river. You never know when you might encounter another floater who wants to challenge you to a water fight.

 After taking off, we floated right past our campsite. Yep, that is how close we camped to the river.

 The river is beautiful! It is spring fed so the water temp is cool and crisp.  The day we floated it was warm outside but not unbearably hot. There was lots of shade to help keep us out of the sun. The water level was just about perfect too. I liked this river because it was not all still water. There was a decent current that moved us along and we encountered a few "tricky" parts that made it exciting.

4. A few encounters with Missouri Natives.

We also encountered lots of Missouri wildlife. We quickly saw a Copperhead snake warming itself on a rock in the middle of the river. {NOTE: this is not the type of wildlife I like to see when floating!} We saw a family of ducks. We saw lots of birds. And at our first stop, I nearly stepped on this little soft shell turtle. He certaintly did not like us picking him up. He twisted that tiny little neck all the way around and snapped at us till we put him down. I guess he is camera shy!

The Husband trout fished while we floated. I am sorry to say he did not actually land a single fish. The Short Chic accidentally netted one of these crawfish. There were tons of them in the river. She was just attempting to scoop moss "seaweed" in her net and got a crawfish "lobster" instead. It was the funniest thing ever to see her drop that net and run to the bank screaming "lobster" while her net floated down stream. He, also, was a little camera shy.

We can comfortably put three in a canoe and still have room for our cooler. The Boy decided to try a kyak out for the first time.

5. Making Memories that will last a lifetime!

The owners/operators of The River of Life Farm gave us a heads up about a spring we could encounter on our trip if we wanted to. The mouth of the spring is super cold and super deep. The Boy, The Short Chic and our friend "B" loved jumping into the mouth.

The mouth flows downstream and before joining the river has a nice man made fall. We were told about a secret door to the left of the steam that would allow us to get behind the fall so the kids could bust through the water fall. The water pressure is so heavy we were also warned NOT to wear any sunglasses or hats through the water fall.

I was even able to shoot a simple video of the falls with The Husbands 100% water proof Sony camera. I am a horrible video shooter as I got so excited I forgot I was taking video and tried to shoot a photo of them. Hence ending the video rather shortly. {But that is okay, because my friend Angie fell seconds after I hti the stop button and no one gets to see her fall into the river!}


Did I mention that water is super cold? I waided over to the hidden door and I could not feel my legs.

In the end, we floated for seven hours. River of Life Farm picked us up and drove us back to our camp.

Day Three of our vacation was spent just hanging around the resort. We hiked up "Twisted Ankle path" to check out Inspiration Point.   The pro's to the hike is that it was well shaded, offered a pretty view from the top, and we all had cell phone reception for the first time in three days! The con to the hike, it was a steep climb that rendered most of us breathless at times!

We found lots of spider webs, birds, and even a few bird feathers on our hike. We also found a natural spring that we enjoyed splashing water on our faces from!

After an intense hike and walk in the woods, it was time to cool down. We were told that the owners had innertubes for guest to use to tube the length of the resort. We were also warned there were some "falls" that would make the tubbing a lot of fun!

So after our hike, we put on our bathing suits and grabbed some innertubes and took off walking to the far east of the resort.

We then spent the next several hours tubing over these falls. Yes, even the little girls! "B" got stuck on one of the rocks during our last trip over them. Thankfully her daddy rescued her. The Short Chic begged her daddy to let her go at it alone. She has no fear!

 Day Four of our vacation was the day we broke down camp, packed up and drove the five hour drive back home.

So, there my friends. A float trip is a sumer staple here in Missouri. If you ever visit during the summer/early fall think about going. There are a lot of great rivers to float in this great state!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Goal: Clean Out The Basement

Almost a year ago, I made a goal to get my basement cleaned out. Yes, I practice procrastination. 

A few thing have occurred that made the necessity to get this chore done sooner than later. 

So, today, we started tackling this massive project. 

Hour One. Yep, as I started this project, I began contemplating my hoarding tendencies. I almost wanted to cry it was so overwhelming. In case you can't see her, The Short Chic is in the picture. She was my helper for this task.

Closing Time. I have decided I am not a hoarder. I found it very easy to throw things away; hoarder's struggle with parting with things. I do have a lot of stuff. I started counting the number of trash bags I pulled out of here. I got lost in the number. 

Hour One:  The condition of the basement has been totally embarrassing to me for a long time.

Closing Time: At closing time, I am feeling hopeful.

Hour One: The majority of things in the basement were things set aside for a yard sale. I usually have one every year. I am just not sure I want to have another one. They are so much work for a little payoff. I decided today to set everything aside for goodwill.  Just removing the goodwill stuff was a huge payoff.

Closing Time: Yep. My feet are tired. Honestly they hurt. But no time to whine. We are back at it tomorrow.

Stay tuned for Day 2. Tomorrow we will decide what to take to goodwill, what to post on Craigslist, and what to throw away.