Charities know that people like to think that their money is going to something concrete (rather than the necessary but not as heart-warming "operating costs") and have come up with all kinds of ideas - A. recently decided to use his "share" money to adopt a polar bear through the Wildlife Federation - he received a certificate of adoption and a picture and everything and that polar bear is HIS. (And as an added bonus, he gets a whole lotta junk mail now). He feels like his contribution has really made a difference.
"Oxfam Unwrapped" has taken this idea and created a website letting you choose something specific to pay for in someone's honor, and they'll send you a gift card to give to that person - or you can personalize it online and they'll send it to the recipient for you. It's fun to browse through the site and think who would most appreciate the can of worms for farmers, or even better, a pile of manure (I can think of at least a few people who would love to give a pile of ^&* to someone for the holidays). Both are under $25. On the sweeter side, give a dozen chicks to a family to raise and earn income or some soap to help stop the spread of disease in a community.
If you're feeling flush, there are gifts that would in themselves make a world of difference - helping a village recover from flooding or rebuilding a primary school. Go browse through the categories - can you imagine how much good could be done if, instead of buying each other gifts this Christmas that we don't really need, we put our money into helping others build sustainable futures? For the amount of that iPhone decorative case, you could pay for a child's school meal program in Africa.
I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of Oxfam America Unwrapped and received a credit for a gift on the Oxfam site.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Sunday, November 22, 2009
The boys watched regular Saturday morning cartoons yesterday, so they were exposed to commercials! Gah! Guess what they decided they needed, right away? Yep - Shoes Under.
They were fascinated. "Benjamin," I said, "You already have a drawer under your bed. It's pretty much the same thing."
"But I want one of those - with the lines (dividers) in it!" he insisted.
"Honey, you only have two pair of shoes."
"Well, I want a shoe set, then."
"You want more shoes?" I asked.
"Yeah! More shoes." Poor kid - we could probably arrange for another pair of shoes. Both boys had way more shoes back when they couldn't walk and didn't even need them.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I'm driving back to my dad's house in Phoenix, Arizona. We have our first argument pulling out of the parking lot. "You need to take a left and then a right," he says.
Me: "No, I take a left and then another left."
Him: "No, to get back to the freeway you make a left out here onto McDowell."
Me: "No, I originally made a right onto McDowell, so I make a left going back."
Him: "No, you made a right into the parking lot, but you made a left onto McDowell."
Me: "No, Dad, 7th Street is that way."
And so on. He finally concedes as I pull onto the freeway, "Hmm. Good thing you're driving."
If there are two left-turning lanes, and I get in the right-hand one, he repeatedly corrects me. "You want to make a left here."
"I know. Both lanes turns left."
Or, while we're sitting there: "The light is green."
"That light is green. The left-hand turn arrow, my light, is red. It would be a really bad idea for me to go right now." (It really throws him off when I don't get into the far left lane to turn left).
Before we left for the museum, he asked, "You know how to get there?" I said yes. "How?" he asked, and I knew it was a test.
I failed the test immediately when I said, "Take 10 west to Phoenix." Crap. He jumps on it. For a guy who doesn't hear 90% of what people around him say, he sure hears it when I make a mistake. "I mean, 10 EAST," I correct myself. He wanted to make sure I had the directions written down before we actually left. Exasperated, I pulled out my iPhone and showed him the written directions I'd saved. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes and moan, "Gawd!"
He nods knowingly and brings it up later, "You were going to get us going the wrong way on the freeway!" Right, Dad, and you were going to have us run a red light.
Speaking of red lights, a few weeks ago he drove his car right through one and caused a three-car pileup. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt, but his car was totalled. He was afraid (and we hoped) he would lose his license, but it turned out that the AZ courts are very forgiving. He paid a fine and never had to go to court.
He quickly bought himself a cheap Ford focus with a broken door lock, broken trunk latch and broken passenger side seat, and sent my sisters and I an e-mail stating flatly that he was not going to lose his license, he would be very careful and not drive when he didn't need to, but he was going to continue to drive. It closed with "I hope you agree," which is Dad-speak for "And I won't be changing my mind."
While in AZ, I put his car key on the counter when I was done driving. "What's this doing here?" he demanded.
"I put it there so I'd know where it was since I'm going to be driving your car while I'm here."
Looking me straight in the eye, he pocketed the key and said, "Now you know where it is."
His wife is worried that he'll hit someone and they'll get sued and lose the house. She mentioned it so many times I finally snapped back, "I'm not as worried about you getting sued as I am about the potential of someone losing their life."
My father is very stubborn. When we questioned the safety of his driving a few years ago, he took it upon himself to drive himself, alone, from Phoenix to Tahoe. My sister even confronted him with the possibility of killing other people with his stubbornness. I guess he showed us, huh?
I'd booked my trip to Phoenix in order to accompany him to court when we thought he'd at least get some sort of mandated driving test. That was canceled when he found out he could just pay the fine, but I'd already bought the tickets and figured I was due for a visit.
I tried making a list of alternate transportation options (lots for taking seniors to doctor's appointments, fewer for taking seniors to bowling). His wife said, "You're wasting your time. I had a ride for him to bowling. He used it once, then went out and bought his car."
I feel as helpless as I did when he decided to re-wallpaper the dining room by gluing the wallpaper over the old wallpaper. "Mom's not going to like this," I thought, but would he listen to me? No. When he bought her the car mats for Christmas, I told him, "Don't wrap those up and give them to her as a gift, she's gonna freak out." He did it anyway, and guess what? She spent the evening crying to me in her bathroom.
My sisters and I got an e-mail from his wife's son saying that "some tough decisions might have to be made." We thought, have you met our father? Ain't no one making that decision for him except him.
All we can do is pray, take the wheel as often as we can and not get too annoyed when he tells us we're going the wrong way. And if you're driving in Phoenix, and you see a dark green Ford Focus with an old male driver, stay as far away from it as you can.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Benjamin was in a crazy letter-writing mood a few weeks ago. He'd heard A. dictate his thank you letters from his birthday, so I think that's where these came from.
To Santa: Dear Santa,
Thank you for the toys you gave me and thank you for the R2-D2 robot. I hope Christmas comes after Thanksgiving and I'm going to be Darth Vader for Halloween and what are you going to be? I hope you're doing good. Send me some cool presents. Bye.
To G: Dear Papa,
Thank you for getting out of bed and thank you for giving me the proof set but I want another one soon and I want to go to ToysRUs and thank you for taking me to Bible Camp. Bye.
I can't find the one he wrote to me. Bad mother.
Note: Benjamin doesn't have an R2-D2 robot, but his brother got one for his birthday, and he remains hopeful that life will be fair and deliver one to him as well. Also, G. gets out of bed every day.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
I've been in one my "therapy moods." That's what I call it when I want to tell everyone to just get over it. I guess it would be more accurately called a "non-therapy mood." The ironic thing is, I never feel this way in a session. I feel it afterward when I review things and think, "Wow. You've been stuck for how long, you come in and complain about it week after week and yet you don't DO anything about it." Most of the time, my perspective is such that I realize they CAN'T do anything about it and that's why they're there, but sometimes, with too many of those in a row, I lose some perspective.
Tonight, I'm not in a therapy mood. I'm in a "wow, some people's lives really, really suck" mood. Because some people's lives really do, and today I sat through 8 hours of people's lives really sucking.
Fortunately, I was able to come home to my boys. When Ben asked, "Do you want to read Star Wars?" I was able to answer, "Not really. I want to snuggle with you and hear about your day." He's always up for snuggling, so I got to breathe in his 4-year-old energy and remember that my life doesn't suck. Not at all.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
I've already screwed up NaBloPoMo, but they shouldn't have started November on a Sunday. Sunday and Monday are my busiest days, don't they know that?
The problem I'm having with blogging is that now that I'm addicted to Facebook, and less so to Twitter - unless there's an earthquake, after which I'm on that twitter thing like (insert cliche here) - I can only think in 140 characters or less.
So I'm going to try to blog every day from now until November 30 by just posting some status updates, and if they turn into something looking more like a blog post, all the better.
Halloween was fun. We had Anakin Skywalker at two distinct phases in his life, young Jedi knight and as Sith Lord, Darth Vader. Darth was shorter than young Anakin, but that's OK because evil makes you shrink.
I was very disappointed in the Pope for his "Halloween is anti-Christian" message. Much like homosexuality, I don't recall Jesus personally weighing in on All Hallow's Eve. I think he recognized that there were bigger fish to fry. BTW, according to this article, monster and zombies are the enemies of man. Just so you know.
Also, I got an iPhone and went hurtling headfirst into the 21th century. Before this, I hadn't even texted before, let alone customized a ringtone. Yesterday, slightly lost on my walk through an unfamiliar neighborhood, I called up my location on my iPhone and found my way out of there. I only had to go 2 blocks south instead of turning around and going 6 blocks north, which is what I would have done had I not been able to consult my iPhone. It's freakin' amazing.