“I got this”

I don’t know of anyone who would say they enjoy nagging or being nagged. As a parent of a teenager and a preteen, I catch my “gentle reminders” turning into outright nagging more than I care to admit. Having said that, I’d like to think I nag less than most. I received some invaluable parenting advice a few years ago which, while it often goes against my instincts as a mother, I’m grateful I heeded and wish more parents would also heed. The advice is simple, but not easy:

Allow your children to fail. Repeatedly.

The younger the child, the less severe the consequences of their failures. Let them fail in small ways when they’re young so they can understand cause and effect. For example, my youngest child is not a morning person. After several mornings of going into her room to wake her up and hearing “Five more minutes” from the mass beneath pillows and covers, I’d had enough. I called the school counselor and asked her if the school would have a problem with my child showing up at school in her pajamas. She assured me they would not. (Which I sort of figured would be the case since she’s the one who gave the “allow your children to fail” advice in the first place.)

That afternoon, I informed my daughter that in order to catch the school bus in the morning, we would be leaving at exactly 7:30 a.m. She could wake up at 6:45, get dressed, eat breakfast and have a few minutes to spare, or she could sleep until 7:27. Either way, she was walking out of the house at 7:30. Even if she was still in her pajamas. Guess who never missed the bus again? But that only worked because I was wholly committed to allowing her to board the bus in her PJs, and she knew that I was. Empty threats don’t carry much weight, especially with kids.

I’ve let my kids eat school provided cheese sandwiches because they left their lunch bags on the kitchen counter instead of dropping them off at school. They have received partial credit for late homework because I refused to bring it to them, despite their pleading phone calls from school. I don’t regret allowing my kids to fail in small ways. It’s taught them to be more responsible and independent.


There are times when the stakes are higher. And downright scary.

School doesn’t officially start for another week, but my 15 year-old son has already started attending football and marching band practice. He chose to do both, knowing that juggling both would be hard work. For the past 2 weeks, he has daily football practice for 2 hours followed by 4 hours of marching band. Not all of his time is spent outside in the August heat, but the majority of it is. He’s been told repeatedly by coaches, band directors and both his parents the importance of keeping hydrated. Not only during practices, but throughout the day. Was he heeding our advice? The few times I asked if he was getting enough water, his answer was always, “Mom, I’m not a 5 year old. I got this.” I honestly thought he was until last week when he complained of feeling weak and light-headed. I assumed it was the heat and suggested he stay indoors and rest when he wasn’t at practice.

It wasn’t until he stepped on the scale that we discovered that not only had he not been drinking enough water, but he was suffering from dehydration. The boy lost 15 pounds in a week! I temporarily abandoned my “allow them to fail” philosophy and followed my son around the house nagging him about drinking water. I even placed a gallon jug on the kitchen counter and told him he was to drink its contents every day. I think his drastic weight loss scared him into drinking water more than my nagging ever could, but I continued to nag him until I caught him refilling the gallon jug himself.

He’s regained all but 5 of the pounds he lost last week and is feeling back to his old self again. But this has been an important lesson for all of us. Pride, the desire to be self-sufficient or even the simple notion of not wanting to impose on others often lead us down the path of destruction. How often have we told our families, our friends and God “I got this. I don’t need any help.”

Love others and allow others to love you–through words and through actions, even if those actions sound like nagging. We were not meant to travel this journey alone.

Being enough

It’s been a crazy, busy summer filled with things decidedly un-summery–summer school, football and band camp, and other scheduled events which made an escape to the beach this year impossible. But I have my memories of last summer to get me through. This is one such post from last year at this time.

It’s Thursday, late afternoon. I’m walking down the beach looking for shells and watching the waves roll in. Tomorrow will be the last full day here at the beach. I’m not ready to go home. I’m never ready to go home when I’m at the beach.

It’s been a fairly lazy week. Oh, we’ve been to Waterville and The Track, eaten at The Original Oyster House and Lulu’s. I imagine we’ll go to Flora-Bama for some fried oysters and shrimp before we leave because my friend Amy Sorrells said I needed to go, and y’all know I always do as I’m told if it suits me.

But truth be told, it would be enough for me just to walk on the beach every day. To dig in the sand and wade in the water. The crab catching, castle building, dolphin and stingray sightings are like extra gifts–unexpected and much appreciated.

I’ve often wondered if living at the beach would take away its hold on me. If knowing I wouldn’t have to leave would make me less inclined to appreciate it. I’ve said before I feel closest to God where the earth meets the vastness of the ocean. Here there is so much of Him and so much less of me. And while I know this is the case wherever I am, knowing it and knowing it aren’t necessarily one and the same.

I am never enough and God is always enough.

But here at the beach, there is peace in knowing that with Him, I am more than enough.

Now, if I could just find a way to bring that knowing home with me.

Words with Friends, An Idiot’s Guide, Part 6: Trolling for celebrities

Celebrity Words with Friends enthusiast, Alec Baldwin

I’m not sure what your process is for coming up with things to write about, but I tend to write about what I know. Or what I pretend to know. Or what I feel the need to rant incessantly about which I may or may not know.

But almost without fail, when I begin this process saying to myself, “You know what would be a really stupid thing to write about?”, it’s blog fodder gold and the beginning of a never-ending series. Such was the case when I decided to write about my adventures with a little iPhone app called Words with Friends.

Not since I wrote about my encounters with the Pornographic Cheese Butler at my local grocery store has my penchant for being completely ridiculous been so well received. If you’re new here, or have somehow missed the first five parts of this series, you can find them here:

Words with friends, An Idiot’s Guide

Words with friends, An Idiot’s Guide, Part 2

Words with friends, An Idiot’s Guide, Part 3: Strategery

Words with friends, An Idiot’s Guide, Part 4: More words that shouldn’t be

Words with Friends, An Idiot’s Guide Part 5: Know your opponent

Trust me when I tell you, “An Idiot’s Guide” is an apt title. Here’s a brief excerpt from my first post where I explain my complete frustration and utter confusion with this game:

After much nagging from a few online friends, I decided to download a free Words with Friends app onto my iPhone a few months ago. Of course, having never played Scrabble before, I had no clue what to do. In retrospect, I suppose I could have googled “How to play words with friends”, but that would have been entirely too obvious and logical.

Instead, I would open the app every few days and stare at it. I started a few games, but it kept telling me something about an invalid tile placement or some such nonsense. I’m sure whomever I was attempting to play with assumed a toddler had gotten hold of their mother’s cell phone, and if anyone who doesn’t read this blog asks, that’s the story I’m going with.

Now, before you Scrabble/Words with Friends experts roll your eyes at me (some of you probably already are), let me explain how I interpreted this game screen.

  • The Star — Yeah. No idea what that was about. I didn’t realize your first word had to have one of the letters on that star. As a matter of fact, I thought one of the objects was to AVOID the star. (Welcome to my brain.)
  • DL, TL, DW, TW, et. al. — As some of you may know, I’m not a big fan of acronyms, so my brain does not seek them out. Imagine my frustration when I would make a great word like hanDLe, or DWight or TWeet and it refused me. Stupid game…

I was very likely the worst Words with Friends player ever to download the app. But it’s been several months and many games since my initiation into the world of online pseudo-Scrabble, and like those tobacco company ad executives were fond of saying in order to encourage women to smoke cigarettes,

“I’ve come a long way, baby!”

So much so, that lately I’ve been challenged by several new opponents. Some of them I know personally or through social media, but the vast majority are complete strangers. A couple of folks even mentioned reading my Idiot’s Guides. Several would send me a text during the game which simply said “Hi”, which I thought was a little weird, but whatever. One of my new opponents sent me a game text which said, “Nice move, Dish!”. I immediately texted him back, “Do I know you?”, because that was my nickname in high school, but no one calls me that anymore. His answer surprised me:

SNORT! I wonder how many people playing Words with Friends with Katdish or Katdish10 (I have 2 accounts because I forgot I had the first one) think they’re playing someone famous.

Come to think of it, I do share a name with a famous celebrity mother. I actually used to get Google Alerts for Kathy Richards, but I unsubscribed because I really don’t care what Paris Hilton’s mother did last weekend, nor do I want to play Words with Friends with her, but again. Whatever.

If you ARE playing Words with Friends with me under the assumption that you are playing someone famous, I’m sorry to disappoint you. Good luck in the future with your quest for brushes with greatness. Maybe Snookie plays Words with Friends…

Who’s the real bully here?

image courtesy of photobucket.com

Apparently, this PSA has been out since 2008, but I saw it for the first time yesterday:

This post is not meant to be a moral debate about homosexuality. I’m young enough to understand that the word “gay” bears no resemblance to its original definition: Showing or characterized by cheerfulness and lighthearted excitement; merry; bright or lively, especially in color: a gay, sunny room. I’m okay with that.

I’m also okay (mostly) with the fact that the favorite drawing subject of almost every young child with a new box of crayons–a rainbow–is now the symbol for an entire movement of alternative lifestyle. A rainbow is still a rainbow, even though now a new meaning has been attached to it.

I agree with what Wanda Sykes says at the beginning of the ad. The word “gay” should not be used as a derogatory term meant to insult an entire group of people.

But she loses me at the end with the line: “It’s like if I thought this pepper shaker was stupid and I said, ‘Man, this pepper shaker is so 16-year old boy with a cheesy moustache'”.

With that 30 second ad, she manages to sum up my disdain for the entire political correctness movement. If you question or disagree with a political or moral opinion, you’re a hate monger and therefore free game for vicious personal attack.

There’s no such thing as tolerance unless you agree with what they stand for.

Which is pretty much the definition of intolerance.

We’re never going to get anywhere but further apart if we continue to view people with different views as somehow less human than we are–and I’m talking to both sides of any controversial topic.

As Wanda Sykes is fond of saying, “It’s a crazy world.”

Pardon my while I rant incessantly: Olympic Girl Power

Citius, Altius, Fortius, which is Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger”

This is the official motto for the Olympic Games. The 2012 London Games are historic. London is the first city to host a modern day Olympic competition three times. These games also hold the distinction of being the first in which every country has a female athlete competing in the games. The United States contingent actually has more women than men for the first time.

And I think that’s awesome.

I love the back stories for some of these athletes. Stories of great sacrifice and determination, physical, emotional and financial for the athletes and their families. Thousands of hours spent training, thousands of dollars spent on trainers and equipment, in some cases, money these athletes can’t afford to spend, but their families find a way. All in pursuit of their Olympic dreams. Some dream of gold, others simply dream of being good enough to qualify. For every one that does qualify, there are hundreds who try and fail. Which is why I hold each and every one of these athletes–whether they medal or not–in the highest regard. Because just to qualify is a victory in and of itself.

And then there’s Wojdan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani.

At first glance her story is an inspirational one. One of two women allowed to compete from Saudi Arabia. This is a milestone for a country where women are considered little more than property. Shahrkhani would represent her country in Women’s Judo.

Her dream seemed to be coming to an end before it started when the IOC informed her that she would not be allowed to participate in the games wearing a head covering, as it might pose a danger to herself and her opponents. She was only able to compete in judo after a compromise between Olympic organizers, the international judo federation and Saudi officials that cleared the way for her to wear a modified hijab. The following story from ABC paints a pretty picture of boundaries being overcome, milestones being made:

What the story doesn’t mention is that, unlike most athletes who have devoted the entire lives just for the Olympics, Shahrkhani wasn’t even required to qualify for the games. So enamored with the idea that Saudi would allow women to compete at all, she was given a free pass to an event hundreds of athletes tried and failed to qualify for.

That bothered me. A lot. But I was willing to give her a pass because what she would do was historical, and I actually began to feel sympathy towards her because she seemed to be a pawn in a game of international political correctness run amok. Until I learned of her Judo ranking. With the exception of Shahrkhani, all competitors in Olympic Judo hold advanced black belts.

Shahrkhani? She’s a blue belt.

judo belts

If you’ll notice, a blue belt is an entire belt color away from a black belt–let alone an advanced black belt. I have a friend who’s son just earned his orange belt in Karate. He’s the same distance away from her blue belt as she is from the other competitor’s black belts. He’s 8. He still wears Sponge Bob pajamas.

Now, you may be saying to yourselves, “But katdish! I watched the video! She is clearly wearing a black belt!” Yes, she is. But only because she and her father were whining because it was unfair that everyone else was wearing a black belt and she had to wear a blue one.

And once again, people who should ensure the highest standards in Olympic competition caved to political correctness and allowed her to wear a belt she didn’t earn while competing in an event she never should have been in in the first place.

You can call Shahrkhani’s story historic and ground breaking.

Me? I calls them likes I sees them.

A slap in the face to every athlete that actually earned the right to represent their country.

Despite this black eye to the integrity of the games, I’m still loving me some Olympics, though…

Happy 47th birthday to me! (Again)

image courtesy of photobucket.com

The first week of August around here is referred to as Birthday Palooza. My son’s birthday is July 31, my dad’s is August 1, my daughter and my sister share an August 2 birthday and mine is August 5. And that’s just my immediate family. I also have a brother-in-law, sister-in-law and niece with birthdays in either late July or early August.

My birthday always has and most probably always will be shared with family, and I’m okay with that. What better way to celebrate your birthday than your family? My sister found a birthday card which sums up this sentiment rather nicely:

inside card

It’s funny because it’s true. We put the fun in dysfunctional.

Anyway, this year I turned 47, which is weird, because for the life of me I thought I turned 47 LAST year. As a matter of fact, if you were to search blog posts I’ve written over the past year, you will find that I’ve often referred to myself as being 47. When I was 46. Weird, huh?

Many of you may be thinking to yourselves, “How can a person not know how old they are? Was she born under mysterious circumstances? Was she left on her parents’ doorstep as a baby and her actual age is merely a educated guess?”

No. I know the day I was born. August 5, 1965. I have my birth certificate as proof. My only defense is that I honestly don’t think much about my age. Also, I suck at math.

How did I come to the realization that I was turning 47 and not 48?

Because a couple of weeks ago, my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday. This question lead to the next:

“How old are you, again?”

“I’m 47…I think. I’m pretty sure I’m 47,” I said.

“What year were you born?”


“It’s 2012. If you were born in 1965, how old does that make you?” he asked.

Me: “You know I suck at math.”

Him: “You’re 46. You’ll be 47 on your birthday.”

Me: “Okay then. Good to know.”

So, Happy 47th birthday to me again! I’m not sure whether to be glad not to be 48 yet or sad that I never enjoyed being 46.

No matter. I’m just grateful to have celebrated another birthday. Whichever one it happens to be.

Thanks to you all for the birthday greetings via Facebook and Twitter. You made my 40-somethingth birthday that much more special.

The journey

I love watching the Olympics. Always have.

I’m partial to swimming. I suppose when you’ve participated in a sport you’re able to more deeply appreciate just how much better those athletes are than you ever hoped to be and what kind of sacrifice and dedication contributed to their success.

The news has been downright depressing lately. And while all that bad will still be there after the closing ceremonies, for now I’m content to cheer people on rather than shake my head and mourn for what they’ve become.

In past years my focus has been on the gold medal winners, but as I watched the parade of athletes during the opening ceremonies, I decided that while winning gold is a worthy goal, just getting there is a huge accomplishment in and of itself.

Take Irish gymnast Kieran Behan for example. From the New York Times:

As a boy, Behan, now 23, had a series of injuries, two so severe that doctors told him he would never walk again. Nerve damage from a botched leg operation left his foot numb and causes excruciating pain even if his leg is touched ever so gently. Brain damage caused by his head hitting the high bar in training left him struggling to do simple tasks such as moving his head or eating.

Yet he fought back to become an Olympian, a goal he has had since he was 6.

On Saturday, though, the plucky Behan lost focus. On the floor exercise, his best event, he stumbled on two of his landings for a disappointing score of 13.966 points. He also competed on vault and scored 13.933 points.

Behan, the first Irish gymnast to qualify for the Olympics, did not make the final in either event.

When asked about not qualifying for the final event however, Behan was overcome with emotion. Not out of disappointment, but out of gratitude for the sacrifices so many had made to get him to London in the first place.

“It doesn’t matter what I’ve done in there,” he said, gesturing to the arena floor. “It’s how I’ve got to where I am now. But that isn’t the last people are going to see of me. I’ll be back because I’m a fighter.”

There are hundred of stories of sacrifice and triumph in the Olympic games. Most of them we’ll probably never hear about. I’m grateful I was able share just one with you.

Many of us spend so much of our lives focusing and striving for the destination that we forget to appreciate the journey.

As I watch the games over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be cheering the athletes towards their destination, but I’ll also be celebrating the journey they’ve endured to get there. Bravo.

Finding your happy place

my happy place

This feeling of almost overwhelming funk. Watching the news certainly hasn’t helped: tragedy both here and abroad and the constant political back biting. It’s exhausting. Plus, I didn’t go to my happy place this year: the beach. Oh, how I love the beach. But alas, our schedules did not permit such a getaway this year. It’s all left me feeling unrested and restless.

I thought it was just me. But it’s not. I’ve talked to several people who seem to be stuck in a similar funk. Just knowing I’m not alone helped lighten the weight a little.

There are plenty of folks much smarter and wiser than I whom you can turn to for advice. Many will tell you to pray and read scripture, and I’d be the first to agree that those two actions may do you a world of good.

But sometimes you need an immediate anti-funk injection.

And I discovered one quite by accident this afternoon. It worked for me, and I’m hoping it may work for you, too:

Think of a song from your youth.

A song that the 13-year old you would sing loudly and with absolute abandon.

Download it to your iPod or find the CD or whatever.

Get in your car, put on your sunglasses (even at night).

Play that song loudly.

Sing it ever louder. I mean, belt that sucker OUT!

When you get to a stop light, play air guitar. If you draw attention to yourself, all the better.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Will this little mini concert make the world a little less ugly? Probably not.

Is it a long term solution to your heavy heart? Most probably not.

But maybe, just maybe.

It will help you realize what I did.

That buried beneath all that heaviness we all tend to carry all too often,

there is joy.

We just need a little help finding it sometimes.

*Editor’s Note: The above video is the medley I stumbled upon this afternoon. And while I’ll admit that the 13-year old me was a big Journey fan, it could have been any number of belt-worthy songs.

Stuck in the middle

image courtesy of photobucket.com

July is the middle of the year. Specifically, July 2 (in a non-leap year) is the exact middle of the year. And it feels like the middle, doesn’t it?

For me, June seems like a recovery month. Time to take a breath, throw away or file the piles of school papers the kids have accumulated over the past several months, sleep in a bit and be a little lazy. Or a lot lazy. But June didn’t fall into its usual rhythm this year. My son attended summer school for the first time. That, in addition to something called SAC camp (Strength and Conditioning Camp) four afternoons a week has put a wrench in the laziness of summer.

And now I find myself in the waining days of July wondering where my summer went. No beach getaway, no long drives to visit family. Just days on end having to be somewhere at a certain time. Dropping off or picking up. There’s been plenty of laziness in between, but not the kind that makes you feel rested. Just the kind that makes you feel…well, lazy.

August is just around the corner, and while the kids don’t officially go back to school until the 27th, marching band and football practice starts August 1.

I’ve felt like I’ve been in a holding pattern this summer–waiting for one thing to end and another to begin. Filling my time rather than investing it in something bigger, and generally feeling a bit useless. But as I look back on the days where it seems nothing of great importance happened, I remember the two day Psych watching marathon with my daughter. Two days filled with laughter and repeating silly lines from Shaun and Gus. I remember teaching my son how to make grilled cheese sandwiches on the griddle, and how obtaining that knowledge empowered him–even if it was only the power to make himself a hot meal. And a dozen other little things millions of moms or dads never think twice about. And I realize the little things do matter. Or maybe not so much the little things, but the little moments.

And now, for your viewing pleasure, may I present a gratuitous cat video:

This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: July hosted by Peter Pollock. For more summerly posts, please visit him at PeterPollock.com

Analysis overload: Aurora

So much has already been said about what happened at the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie in Aurora, Colorado last Friday. There’s not much I can say that hasn’t already been said.

One of the dangers of the 24 hour news cycle is that in the absence of new information, media outlets often substitute “expert” opinion, conjecture and innuendo. Just hours after the name of the alleged gunman had been released, the following exchange between Good Morning America’s George Stephanopoulos and Brian Ross took place:

“There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado page on the Colorado Tea Party site… talking about him joining the Tea Party last year,” Ross said. “Now, we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes, but it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.”

ABC later issued an apology:

An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted.

I fully and correctly predicted that the tragedy in Aurora would be used as a platform for gun control, but what Brian Ross did was so blatantly, shockingly irresponsible. He seemed almost giddy at the prospect of connecting a political movement he opposes to a homicidal maniac. The Jim Holmes Ross incorrectly connected with the shooting is a 52-year old Hispanic man who looks nothing like the suspect in custody.

There have been calls for boycotts of ABC and their affiliates, but I will not be participating in any such boycotts. They are just one more distraction which divide a nation who should be coming together in support of the people of Aurora, Colorado. We need to set aside our personal and political agendas and try and remember what it’s like to act like decent human beings again.

People die violent and senseless deaths every single day and each one is a tragedy. I think what’s especially frightening about the Aurora shootings is the familiarity of the venue. The chilling realization that it could have been any one of us sitting in that movie theater–or worse–one of our children.

Twelve people were brutally murdered and many more will sustain life altering injuries–both physical and emotional.We should all be outraged by this senseless violence, but the ultimate blame sits squarely on the shoulders of one man: James Eagan Holmes. May God have mercy on his soul.

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