Day 8: Get on your soapbox. What issue, idea, or stance were you vocal about this year? Or did you let it internally build up? Was there an event, person, or time that triggered your strong reaction? Or was it a slow-burn? Why do you feel so strongly – is it personal? Emotional? Strictly reasonable?

On an ordinary day, in ordinary times, this would be a dream topic for me. There are several things I feel passionate enough to rant about.  But right now, it’s almost too difficult to rant and rave about my main passion.

As you can imagine, there have been lots of conversations in our house these days–both just me and Jeff and with the kids.  The kids have become pretty clear of one thing: Most of you will NEVER understand our side of this big debate. You just see things differently,  You can’t truly understand. You can’t truly sympathize, empathize or even visualize.  Let’s just say my kids have seen how people really feel about cops the last few weeks and have watched the media and many others glorify criminals.

I plan to write more about this topic in the future, but for now, let me leave you with one story.

My husband works in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country.  IN THE COUNTRY, people.  Like the 17th highest homicide rate.  It’s full of not so great citizens.  Weapons are a common occurrence and when he shows up to a run, most of the time the criminal doesn’t overtly advertise he has a weapon.  That would sort of take the element of surprise away for the bad guy–it would sort of lose it’s shock value if he just had it all hanging out for the cops to see.  Although, sometimes it does go down like that, most of the time it doesn’t.

Knowing how prevalent guns are in this neighborhood, I asked my husband.  “How many of your runs turn out to involve a gun?”

I threw out 80%, maybe 90%.  He came back quickly and say with conviction, “100% of the runs I take involve a gun.  My gun.  At any moment, the suspect can try and get my gun and use against me.”

Wow.

 

 

ThinkKit Day 7: Wave your magic wand – whoosh – what would you transform, create, or make disappear in 2015? Don’t be afraid to change the world, or merely alter the mundane. Just be prepared to defend your decision with reason, or irrational emotion! 

This is an easy one.

Wave my magic wand and –whoosh–make this disappear.

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ThinkKit Day 6: Work, home, and _____. Where was your third place this year? Did you like it, love it, …or was it out of obligation? What feeling, sense, or vibe did you get from your third place? 

I am not a frequenter of places, except for home. I work from home, so work and home are one in the same. And, on my favorite days, I never leave home. If I could live my whole life within 3 miles of my house, I would and I most often, do. Grocery, the local family restaurant, the bank, the fish market, the pizza place, the liquor store, the gym—almost everything I need is right within reach. And, it’s not because I am dedicated to the whole “shop local” movement—I mean, I am and it’s great, blah blah blah, but it’s really just because I am a homebody.

My first preference is always to stay home rather than go out. Now, when I do go out, I am often glad I did. I enjoy the experiences, like trying different things and going new places but the idea of it is often overwhelming. It’s often overwhelming enough to make me not want to do it.

I try to stack my meeting all in to one day so I only have to get dressed in real clothes and go out once. I like being in sweats and having messy hair and eating my own food and drinking my own wine.

I have this rule where if someone hires me, I try to look nice. If I hire them, I get to determine the dress code. My time—my rules; your time—your rules.

Make up is the worst. I usually wear it for client meetings or if I am going out with friends, etc. But it’s a pain in the ass. First you have to put it on and then, you have to take it off. And for what? I really don’t think it makes that much of a difference. I much prefer to never have it on at all and just plop in to bed after brushing my teeth.

And, I don’t like places that are far away. That’s why I am always late. I want everything to be no more than 15 minutes away. I want everything to take no more than 15 minutes to get there—the thought of having to leave for something 45 minutes early is annoying.

Now that I have had that rant and sound like an isolated crazy person, let me just assure you of something. I am an isolated crazy person.   I am an introvert at heart. As a child, my favorite playmate was no one. My favorite way to recharge is in the house by myself. My idea of a dream vacation is everyone else goes away and I stay home.

It’s not lazy. Lazy is not a word I would ever use to describe myself. In fact, it’s the opposite. It’s that I am so busy doing other stuff I don’t have time to drive far. I don’t want to take the time to put on make up. I am too busy doing important stuff. Like steaming cauliflower and purging closets.

We just got home from being at a swim meet all day and only have about an hour and a half until we have to leave to go to a friend’s house for dinner. Andy rallies the troops and organizes the “Christmas Tree Getting Trip” for all the boys in the house (that’s how we do it around here). Sam is freaking out and doesn’t want to go because he has too much stuff to do around the house (aka a puzzle) and has been gone all day. He just wants to be home and hang out in his underwear. I totally get it.

 

ThinkKit Day 5: What did you say goodbye to this year? Was it a bad habit? A ’94 hatchback? Or something less tangible? How did you feel the day after? The week after?

In 2014, we said goodbye to the car that Andy had deemed, “Pimp Mobil.”

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Cars are funny. At least for me. I have so much attachment to them. I know some people just think of them as the thing that gets them from point A to point B, but that’s like thinking of food as just fuel.

Cars have meant something to me since I was a little girl. My dad loves cars and part of our Saturday routine was going to look at cars, test drive cars and sometimes even buy cars.   He would get a call from a dealership and out we would go to spend our day driving whatever they gave him to try. A Lotus, an Audi, a supercharged Porsche 911.

He never bought a Lotus, but sure did love his Porsches. Which brings me to another interesting point: I wasn’t allowed to drive them, but my brother was. That policy seems very unlike my dad, who made sure I knew how to drive a stick even before I actually had a license because he never wanted me to, “have to depend on a man” to get me home.

I got a car for my 16th birthday. We went out to dinner to celebrate. My dad told me I could drive my mom’s car home. He went to go get it and he was going to pick us up in front of the restaurant. He pulled up in my Honda Prelude. The blue one I wanted so bad. I cried.I cannot find the picture where I first see it, but here is a picture of me on my 16th birthday when we got back home for cake. Yes, that is really what my hair looked like when I was 16. Hey, it was the 80s.

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About a year and a half later, I wanted a new car. A convertible. We shopped around, looked at a few and I had one all picked out that I loved. It was a blue Cabriolet. I can still see the light blue interior with tiny little polka dots on it. It was awesome. Then, one day, my dad brings home this red one instead. I cried.

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This time, I cried because I wanted the blue one; not the red one. In retrospect, probably not the best response I could have had. I had this car until I went away to college. It hung around the first year I was gone, then became a victim to the slow division and liquidation of mutal assets during my parents divorce process.

I was living in Philadelphia and needed a car. My dad bought me a cute little Honda Civic, a hatchback, and my brother drove it out for me. Finally, I had a car again. It was the perfect city car. I parallel parked it in the smallest of parking spaces; I hugged the turns on Kelly Drive and I weaved in and out of city traffic being sure not to block the box. I had that car for years, even when I moved back to Indiana in 1994.

Then, I was hit by a drunk driver and the accident scared me. It made me think my car wasn’t as safe as the new cars with those airbag thingies. I bought another Honda Civic, a red coupe. I loved that car too. I had my first cell phone in that car. Drove it to my first real job and had it when I got married and when we moved in to the first house we bought together. But soon, we started talking about having babies. I wanted something more practical.

I found a used Honda Accord wagon and we took out our first car loan together to get it. It was a great car and we brought Philip home from the hospital in it. Shortly after it was paid off, there was talk of baby #2. This time, I wanted a van. I found a used Honda Odyssey in the paper. It was located in a small town near the state line.   We drove to see it; I loved it. It was perfect. Low miles, single owner, in great shape. We bought it. We brought Sam home from the hospital in it. We moved to our new house in it. We drove to get stitches and to preschool and to playgroups.  Phillip, just a toddler at the time,  loved to play in this car and would spend hours washing it on hot summer days. We took trips and hooked up a TV so the kids could watch videos.

And then, I wanted a new van. I needed doors that opened on their own with a single pull. I wanted a built in DVD player and that new map thingy. We sold that van and bought a new van. This time, we bought a brand new van. It was the first new car Jeff had ever had in his life. I still remember when we went to pick it up. He said he wanted to drive it off the lot because he had never gotten to do that. He did it.

We had that van for 10 years. We brought Andy home from the hospital in it. We took so many trips in it to Florida, Michigan, Tennessee, Missouri, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago and more. That van took me to the hospital with a broken leg, took my mom to see a melanoma specialist in Columbus and brought Jeff home from two knee surgeries. There were some special “adult only” memories (especially that one in the Fresh Market parking lot). There were sad times like driving to funerals or leaving somewhere feeling hurt or unwelcome. There were many drivers—family members, friends and nannies. There were many passengers—family members, friends sometimes strangers. It was a good car.

When we got rid of the Pimp Mobile, we got a new van. It’s super fancy and very nice. I like it; I love it. But, it’s just not my old one. It’s funny how attached I got to that car. And sometimes, simpler is better. So the old van didn’t have blind spot sensors or a vacuum in the car, but it had old chewing gum in the carpet and that sucker that Sam hid under the seat. It was missing the “H” from where I backed out before the garage door had finished opening. It had that tiny scratch where the nanny ran alongside a bike in the garage. It had ten years of our lives in it.

We have already put a year into the life of this new van and it’s been a good year. The car already has almost 14,000 miles on it. Every one of them is full of a memory.

#ThinkKit Day 4: Whether you asked for it – or not – what good advice did you get this year? Did it come from an unexpected source? Was it unsolicited, or did you need a word or two after an eventful day, week, or month? Has the advice changed the way you think about the world? Changed the way you think about your advisor? Changed the way you think about yourself? Changed the way you act? Can you distill the message and help the rest of us out, or is it too personal to be universal? 

 

Here it is, people.  The advice that literally changed the space I occupy on this earth.  Thanks, Jamie!

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Aladdin

Sam: Mom, you know how Jewish people are really good at training little monkeys?

Me: Huh?

Sam: You know how they all have monkeys and the monkeys listen to them and do what they say?

Me: Where on earth did you hear that? What do Jewish people have to do with monkeys?

Sam: Well, Aladdin is Jewish and he trained that little monkey.

Me: I don’t think Aladdin is Jewish.

Sam: Yes he is.

Me: What makes you think that?

Sam: He wears that little hat.

Me: He isn’t Jewish. That’s a different hat and Jewish people don’t train monkeys! Sam: …Oh, okay, never mind then.

 

The Rock

So I am in bed on Thursday recovering from the flu. I am totally out of it. Andy comes in and stands by the side of my bed and says I have a rock stuck in my nose. I say okay and he leaves. I think to myself I should mention it to Jeff, but I fall back asleep.

The next morning, I am feeling better and go wake Andy up for school.

“I am all buggery,” he says.

“Yes, you are I can hear it.” I said.

A few minutes later he comes in my room where I am sitting in bed watching the morning news. “Andy, why don’t you blow your nose?” and I hand him a Kleenex.

“Thanks,” he says and he starts walking out as he is blowing his nose. “Hey….I got the rock out!” he shouts.

“The rock??!” Jeff and I both repeat what he said and look at each other. “Let me see,” I said and he proudly holds up the Kleenex to expose, indeed, a rock.

Here it is next to an almond and a ruler so you can get a sense of its size. I have no idea how he got it up there…let alone left it up there for more than 12 hours.

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Day 3 ThinkKIt: Let’s loosen up: share a side-splitting story from the last year. What made you laugh out loud until tears formed? What made you giggle every time it was referenced? Whether it’s a story, an image, a video – we want to hear about the banana peel on the floor, your best practical joke, or gems from the mind of a three-year-old. Whether it’s sassy, sarcastic, or just plain silly: make us laugh!

There is nothing I love more than getting an email that wasn’t intended for me. I love to see how people really talk and think when they don’t know you will find out.

There is a great story from a parent of one of my son’s friends. Years ago, she emailed the Headmaster (at the time—not our current Headmaster) and several staff members to request that her kids miss two weeks of school for an extended holiday trip to an amazing destination filled with tons of history and many once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The Headmaster accidentally hit reply to all—including my friend who sent it—and made a comment about how these “rich parents think they can do whatever they want.” I love that; it’s a completely uncensored expression of his feelings.

So was my unintended email.

Earlier this year, my partner on my start-up and I had struggled to get a press release picked up by a daily highly read and regarded e-news blast.  We had sent it a few times, reworking it each time. We didn’t understand why it wasn’t getting picked up. We sent it to a PR firm we had worked with and they made some suggestions. We made more changes and submitted it again.

When the e-newsletter came out the next morning, our story was still not included.

I forwarded the e-newsletter to my partner and asked in bold and all caps:

“WHY IN THE FUCK are they not running our story!”

Send.

Then, as it sent, something told me to double check it.

Uhh. Wait.

I went back and looked at my sent message. Yes, in fact, I had. I had emailed that colorful statement to the editor of the very e-publication I was trying to get our story in. I had not emailed my partner.

I panicked. I immediately composed the most humble and apologetic email I could muster. I was mortified. I begged them to delete it and blamed it on the fact that I was a new Mac user (which is true) and kept screwing up the Mac email (which is also true).

I emailed a friend who works there. “Okay, you are going to die…” I told her what I sent. She responded and said, “That was you?” She said she could hear them laughing down the hall and went in to see what was so funny. They read her the email. Yes, I assured her, it was me.

We imagined they would definitely run the story now, but I was worried which story they would run; my witty partner sent me this mock up of a potential headline. I am so grateful they had a sense of humor. And, they did run the story—the one in our press release, not the one about my email—the next day.

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Day 2 of #ThinkKit: What did you change your mind about this year? Was it a big deal – the way you feel about an issue? Or something small – maybe you learned to like Brussels sprouts? What was the moment or series of moments that changed how you felt? How did your friends or family react? Have you uttered the phrase, “I’ll never change my mind!” since then?

I have thought about this question all day…I mean, all day.  And I cannot think of anything.  I mean, I am like Mrs. Gray area.  I don’t really run around talking about all the things I hate, won’t do or must do.  I am married to Mr. Black/White on issues, so it works well to be Mrs. Gray.

He makes a statement.  And I throw out the “what ifs” and play devil’s advocate.  I offer sympathy for the other side, a thought of perhaps if he looked at it from another way, considered another perspective.  Sometimes he takes the soft road and I lay down the cold facts.  Sometimes it’s me spelling out the facts. He listens. We discuss.  It works.

And that whole “I’ll never change my mind” thing?  Yeah, I learned after I had kids not to utter those words.  “I will never let my child sleep in my bed.” WRONG.  “I won’t let my kids drink soda.” go ahead, call BULL-SHIT on that one!  See?  I mean, I am 42 now…if age and experience has taught me nothing else, it’s taught me that I am a forever evolving blob of gray matter.  Forever changing, learning, evolving.  I walk around all day indecisive and middle of the road.  In fact, I should probably change my mind about that and take a position and stay there. Forever.

 

#Thinkkit kicks off with a Year in Photos.  If anything, this topic has made me realize I really need to up my photo-taking game.

I started the year with a visit to Philadelphia to see my old friends.

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February the boys went to a Pacer’s game with Jeff.  Which means I celebrated a very rare night home alone.

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March was spring break with our first trip as a family to Disneyworld.

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In April, we were lucky enough to have dinner with Ms. Kate, our favorite nanny of all times!

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May was the opening of Devon!

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June was a trip to Rochester, New York to hang with the Parmelee family and our first of two trips this year to Lake of the Ozarks.

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July was the wedding of my longtime friends Jim and Ray, which included a hot overnight date at the Alexander.

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August was the second and final trip to Lake of the Ozarks, marking the end of summer.

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September was sports season for all four boys in this family:

Cyclocross for Jeff,

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Cross country for Phillip and Sam,

 

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And soccer for Andy.

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October was fall break to Asheville, NC.

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In November, I took Sam to Rose-Hulman to watch a Freshman class’s end of semester Robot Wars.  He really wants to go to Rose-Hulman.

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Today marks the first day of December…can’t wait to see what image captures this month–my favorite month, filled with family, laughs and fun.