Archive - August, 2011

Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Thank you, entitlement generation

image courtesy of

There are children who suffer horrible abuse and neglect at the hands of the people who are supposed to love and protect them: their moms and dads.

There are also children who bear emotional scars from parents who were doing the best they could for their kids. Parents who were simply ill-equipped to raise their children into emotionally healthy adults.

There are days when I think I’m the worst mother in the world because I’ve allowed my own foul mood to spill onto my kids and overreact to some minor infraction. I wonder if there’s any parent who hasn’t felt this way.

As adults, how many of us have questioned to what extent how our parents treated us as children has impacted who we are today? Both positively and negatively? If everyone had a wonderful childhood, we would put the practice of psychiatry out of business. Mostly likely the alcohol and illegal drug trade as well.

But what if you could SUE the offending parent? Certainly would help with those therapy sessions and bar tabs, no?

That’s what this enterprising brother and sister duo attempted to do:

20 year old Kathryn Miner and her 23 year old brother, Steven Miner

According to a story from ABC News, the adult children of 55 year old Kimberly Garrity were attempting to sue her for being a lousy mom. “The children sought $50,000 for emotional distress stemming from the damage of her supposed bad mothering.” The news report goes on to say:

The case was originally tossed by a Cook County circuit court, but the kids appealed. Last week, an Illinois appellate court also dismissed it.

Raised in a $1.5 million home by their father, the children alleged the Garrity was a lousy mom because she failed to send money for birthdays, called her daughter home early from homecoming, and threatened to call the police on her son, then 7, if he didn’t buckle up in the car.

Steven also accused his mother of once smacking him on the head, saying that he still suffers from headaches. One of the exhibits in the case included a birthday card that Steven called “inappropriate” because it failed to include cash or a check.

The card did include the inscription, “Son I got you this Birthday card because it’s just like you ? different from all the rest!” On the inside Garrity wrote, “Have a great day! Love & Hugs, Mom xoxoxo,” according to court documents cited by the Chicago Tribune.

Oh, where do I begin?

Two bratty children raised by their father in a million dollar home, mad at their mother because she didn’t shower them with the lavish gifts their father did and actually had the audacity to tell them no. And frankly, Garrity didn’t smack that kid in the head hard enough if she was trying to smack some sense into him.

Incidentally, the kids’ lawyer? Yeah…their dad. Kimberly Garrity’s ex-husband.

Miner did not respond to messages left by ABC news, but said in court papers that he filed the lawsuit after much legal research and had tried to dissuade his children from bringing the case.

Why would their father agree to take on their case (presumably pro-bono, because I’m guessing neither one of these kids have worked an honest day in their lives in order to pay for a lawyer) knowing from the start that it was a case they would most likely lose?

Here’s what Garrity’s attorney had to say (source

In court papers, Garrity’s attorney Shelley Smith said the “litany of childish complaints and ingratitude” in the lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt by Garrity’s ex-husband to “seek the ultimate revenge” of having her children accuse her of “being an inadequate mother.”

“It would be laughable that these children of privilege would sue their mother for emotional distress, if the consequences were not so deadly serious” for Garrity, Smith wrote. “There is no insurance for this claim, so (Garrity) must pay her legal fees, while (the children) have their father for free.”

I guess it’s true what they say. The spoiled, rotten sense of entitlement fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.

This is a ridiculously extreme case of the entitlement generation run amok, but it permeates American society on so many levels.

But that’s an entirely different rant. Maybe next time…

Support for our support

We all need constants.

Something or someone we can go to when the world or our circumstances overwhelm us. Many of us turn to God and cry out to him, even though I suspect many of us don’t do this as often as we should.

Sometimes it’s not so much that we’re overwhelmed, but that we feel ourselves heading down that path. It’s been said that music soothes the savage beast, and for some, music soothes the savage beast within and gives comfort.

Maybe for you it’s not music. Perhaps it’s going for a run, taking a walk, meditating or hitting a punching bag. It need not be physical. I know if I don’t escape at least a few minutes a day in a good book I feel completely out of sorts. Same goes with writing.

Most of us have at least one thing we turn to which makes us feel more in balance and offers us some solace.

For my son, it’s the swing set in the back yard.

It may seem a little odd that a fourteen year old boy would still gravitate to a swing, but, as he tells me, “It’s my only therapy.” Between school, friends, homework, band, private horn lessons and now football, things have already begun to get hectic. He needs a few minutes each day on that swing–just him and his headphones–with the rest of the world far away.

His daily therapy sessions came to a halt last week when his dad happened to notice that the swing set had suffered more wear and tear than we realized.

It’s a wonder the whole thing hadn’t come crashing down already. The bolts had almost completely worked themselves out of the structure on one side and it was leaning precariously.

I suppose we could have sat him down and explained that the swing set had seen its better days. That it was time to move on and put aside childhood things.

But like I said before, we all need our constants.

Which is why my husband, who has a firm understanding of structural principles that are way beyond my understanding, took the time to design a support system which would allow our son to continue using the swing. It’s also why we spent a good portion of our weekend in the ungodly heat of this Houston summer (he way more than me–I was just a helper) making sure that at least one constant would remain…well, constant.

And a good reminder that our constants–those that support us and build us up–sometimes need us to return the favor. Be they animal, vegetable or mineral.

Glory days

I have two Facebook accounts. The one associated with this blog and the other one. While there is some crossover, the account not associated with this blog is primarily for family and friends I actually know in the non-virtual world. Right or wrong, I like to keep these two world separate to a certain degree.

When I first signed up for Facebook (the friends and family account), apparently I did it wrong. I didn’t think to hyphenate my name. I am simply Kathy Richards, not Kathy Dishman-Richards, which (in theory) has prevented old friends and acquaintances who knew me before I was married from finding me. Not necessarily a bad thing. But despite my Facebook faux pas, several people from “back in the day” have been able to track me down and “friend” me, and it’s been interesting to see what became of some of the people I haven’t talked to in so many years.

I don’t spend much time on Facebook, but recently someone tagged me in the following photo:

Can you find me?

How about in this one?:

Hint: I'm one of the few girls in the picture who didn't get the Charlie's Angels hair memo.

And yes, I did make the same Charlie’s Angels hair comment on the Facebook post. As other people began to comment on the picture, someone said something that struck me:

“The fact I don’t even remember that day frightens me. I remember the 8th grade group photo not this one.”

to which I replied:

“That’s funny you should say that. I remember the 8th grade pic as well, but don’t remember this one at all.”

Then someone else chimed in:

“I hear ya Kathy-I don’t remember this pic. either. I thought it was our 8th grade pic.until I saw northbrook class of 83! damn we’re all getting old!!!”

Why would we all remember our 8th grade class picture and not a much larger picture four years later? I have a theory based upon my memory, but keep in mind that picture was taken 28 years ago and memories are tricky things, aren’t they?

Before we entered high school, we were still the neighborhood kids. We may have begun to splinter off into our little cliches, but we all still remembered the days when we played together because our houses were within walking or biking distance. Rather than choosing community, community chose us. I have to think those circumstances helped us accept our differences if not embrace them.

I remember wondering why my friend’s family three streets over rode bicycles wearing slacks and ties and carrying books, but he didn’t seem to want to talk about it, so we never asked. I remember one friend who spent her evenings sitting at the end of her driveway to get away from her parents’ constant fighting, so we sat there with her. Or we made up some stupid game to pass the time. I remember after my dad left. My mom was working nights and I remember friends’ moms and dads taking time out to talk to me. Not about the divorce, but just enough small talk to let know someone cared about me.

Funny how those differences that didn’t seem to matter when we were kids became important when we started our journeys into adulthood.

I don’t have fond memories of high school. By the time I was sixteen years old, I was going to school half days (I was in something called Distributive Education which allowed me to do this) and working full time at a department store. I didn’t have time for pep rallies and football games, and if I’m being honest, I thought I was all grown up way before I really was. I merely tolerated high school rather than embrace it. I missed my senior prom because my 20-something year old boyfriend was out of town. I pretended it didn’t matter, but it did. I think my high school experience could have been so much better if I had allowed myself to be a kid instead of being in such a big hurry to grow up and get away from all these people. People who weren’t so bad after all–just the kids from the neighborhood trying to figure out where they fit in.

How was your high school experience?

If you could go back and do it differently, would you?

(Special thanks to Ted Reade for taking the time to  post our senior class picture on Facebook and allowing many of us to reconnect after all these years.)

Move over Sky Mall, there’s a new game in town

Are you a mentally disturbed dictator of a third-world country who has amassed a fortune off the blood and toil of the people you’ve ruled with an iron fist, and yet you feel your decor lacks a certain je ne sais quoi?

Well, my friend, today is your lucky day.

The fine folks at the newly formed Gaddafi Couture is now offering many beautiful, one of a kind products that would be perfect additions to your home and wardrobe. And why not get a head start on that arduous Christmas shopping season with items sure to impress even the most hard to please person on your shopping list?

As I’m sure you’re aware, clothes really do make the man. Being a dictator requires that you display an aura of power, and nothing says I’m in control of things like a giant, fancy military hat. Preferably a couple sizes too large.

Gadhafi power hat

(Sceptre, gold chain, insulated lunch bag and large clump of human hair sold separately)

But being a crazy dictator isn’t all work and no play. Sometimes you just want to dress up and feel pretty. Gaddafi Couture offers a wide array of colorful robes, hats and accessories. Whether you’re entertaining foreign dignitaries, having a night out on the town or publicly threatening a world super power, they have the perfect outfit for every occasion.

Clothes make the man

And speaking of foreign dignitaries, how about that beautiful Condoleezza Rice? She’s smart, she’s pretty. She’s all that and a bag of chips! Impress your friends and enemies with a collection of personal photographs of everyone’s favorite former Secretary of State.

Who loves Condi? You do!

Your friends will be beyond impressed!

It’s a never ending game of one-up-manship keeping up with the Chavez’s (or Jong-il’s or Castros) isn’t it? You lose sleep wondering who’s currently got the largest number of people under their rule or who’s got the biggest statue erected in their honor. Oh sure, Mao Zedong may have the United States in his back pocket, but tell me this: Does he have a solid gold mermaid couch?:

Gold mermaid couch

No. I didn’t think so.

In countries all over the world, collectively known as “not the United States of America”, soccer, or “football except in the United States” is the most popular sport since the Roman Empire fed Christians to the lions. Gaddafi Couture has a large collection of soccer balls to give to your many children and grandchildren. Or, you know, whoever…

For those among you with only the most discriminating taste, Gaddafi Couture offers for a very limited time the Commemorative Muammar-head soccer ball. Operators are standing by:

commemorative soccer ball supplies extremely limited

These are just a few of the thousands of items now available through Gaddafi Couture, and rather than attempt to show them all, we have created a very special all inclusive shopping spree. Included in this package is a first class round trip ticket on Air Libya, which will fly you into the heart of Tripoli.


Once you’ve landed in Libya’s capitol, you will be whisked away by our friendly armed guards who will accompany you while you shop and browse to your heart’s content:

The green room


See you at the compound!

Pursuit of a Thirsty Fool

In my role as a marginally successful blogger, I will occasionally receive requests to review books, specifically non-fiction Christian books. There’s been at least one instance where I disliked the message of the book so much that I chose not to review it. There are plenty of bloggers who will give a book a bad review, I’m just not one of them. I also won’t write a good review for a book I feel doesn’t truly warrant it.

Several months ago, I received a copy of Pursuit of a Thirsty Fool by T. J. MacLeslie for review. When I first began reading it, I thought this book would be in the aforementioned category. It seemed to be another “I once was lost but now I’m found” sort of stories. And while I think it’s important to celebrate the redemptive power of the cross, I wondered if the world needed yet another such story. But as I kept reading, I began to realize that MacLeslie’s honest account of his failures and shortcomings as a child raised in the church could be a helpful one. Christians are quick to forgive the past sins of those coming to Christ for the first time, but forgiving ourselves and other Christians who “should know better” is an area many of us come up short.

One of the themes this book puts forward well is the notion that if we love Jesus we must also love other Christians. MacLeslie makes the following observations after a mountain top conversation with God where he promised to follow Him the rest of his days.

I was embarrassed by my faith and not at all sure I wanted to embrace Christianity, even though I had embraced Christ. I believed in Jesus and wanted to know Him, but I wasn’t at all sure about His people.

I was frustrated by the superior responses of others as the news of my conversion began to get out. I was humiliated as they pointed out that they had been right all along and I had been wrong. I was angry when they told me they had prayed for me to see the light. Their superior smiles and self-satisfied stares were almost too much! Still, I couldn’t go back. Jesus was God. It was undeniable truth. It was the only right way of understanding life, the universe and everything. Where could I go? What could I do?

I was caught by the truth. I couldn’t deny I had been wrong. I couldn’t deny that He was actually God. If God was now my Father then these patronizing and unintentionally antagonizing Christians were now my brothers and sisters. I couldn’t love Him and hate them at the same time. That was probably the hardest part for me about coming to faith. I was ready to humble myself before God, but humbling myself before people was much more difficult.”

The term “self-help Christian book” is a bit of an oxymoron. Pursuit of a Thirsty Fool is no such book. It is an honest, often unflattering personal testimony of a man who is on a journey to find less of himself and more of Jesus. If you’re looking for a 12-step program to becoming a better Christian, this is not the book for you. If you’re looking for a story of a person who is just as broken as you are yet still finds redemption at the feet of Jesus, it’s definitely worth a read.

For more information about the book, visit Pursuit of a Thirsty Fool.

Dear Future Mark (repost)

When a saw the One Word at a Time blog carnival topic for this week–Childhood–I had every intention of writing a post about how my own childhood has had an impact of how I parent my kids–both good and bad. But the first day of school (or more appropriately, the first day after school) has left me completely and utterly spent. Perhaps I’ll write more about this later, or for the short version, you can just check my Twitter feed from Monday night.

The beginning of each school year brings both excitement and trepidation. I worry about my kids’ safety, the friends they will make and the friends that they won’t. My son is in his last year of junior high school and he’s had his struggles there. I know junior high was pretty hellish for me, and I suppose things don’t really change all that much after all. The following is repost is an open letter to an awkward kid I went to junior high and high school with and how knowing him helped to shape the person I am today.

Dear Future Mark,

I’ve thought of you often over the past 20 plus years. I’ve even tried to track you down a couple of times without success. I’d hoped to see you at one of the two high school reunions I’ve attended, but I don’t suppose you had much interest in seeing most of those people. I’ll let you in on a little secret–me neither.

Even though we attended the same high school, I’ll always remember you as Junior High Mark. The guy with the horn-rimmed glasses and the army green backpack. While the rest of us stuffed our backpack into our lockers, you carried that thing with you everywhere. I’ll admit it came in handy, like the time you hit me with it.

What I’ve wanted to tell you all of these years since junior high school is this:

You’re a big part of who I am today. I know you’re probably scoffing at that, based on the way I treated you. Of all the many regrets in my life, not being able to tell you “I’m sorry” and “thank you” still make the list.

We were both picked on. Me because I suppose some half-breed Asian girl isn’t supposed to have a big mouth and is expected to keep her head down and not have an opinion about anything.

You? You were called that most hurtful and horrible of names: Retard

I suppose we both would have been better off in the short term by doing what they all expected us to do: cower down and not fight back. I fought back because, as I mentioned before, I had a big mouth and an attitude. You fought back because they were just flat out wrong about you. You were not, as they so cruelly labeled you, a retard.

You were the smartest kid in school. I don’t know the reason for your speech impediment, but I knew you enough never to consider you mentally challenged. I also knew a thing or two about false labels and assumptions based upon personal experience.

But back to the apology:

I’m sorry I joined in with the others when I should have stood up to them, for looking down on you because you were different. That day in the cafeteria line when I pulled on your backpack? You did the right thing by smacking me with it.

That was the day you smacked some sense into me.

That was the day you gave me permission to be different and to stand up to those who are threatened by anything other than the status quo.

You may think I left you alone after that day because you stood up to me, but you always stood up to everyone. Probably still do.

No, the real reason I left you alone was, to be honest, I was sort of in awe of you. You taught me something crucial that day. Something life changing:

True strength and depth of character is found when we face adversity and refuse to lose a part of who we are in order to be part of the crowd, that if you walk to the beat of a different drummer, you should do so unapologetically, and most importantly that oftentimes the most memorable heroes in this life are the unlikely ones. Thanks for being my unlikely hero.

Gratefully yours,

Kathy Dishman-Richards

“What you really have to do, if you want to be creative, is to unlearn all the teasing and censoring that you’ve experienced throughout your life. If you are truly a creative person, you know that feeling insecure and lonely is par for the course. You can’t have it both ways: You can’t be creative and conform, too. You have to recognize that what makes you different also makes you creative.”

– Arno Penzias, 1978 Nobel Prize winner for physics


This post is part of the One Word at a Time Blog Carnival: Childhood hosted by my friend Peter Pollock. To check out more posts on this topic, please visit his website,

Back to school

It’s Sunday evening. Tomorrow my son and daughter will enter the 8th and 5th grades respectively.

Summer seemed to fly by, especially the last couple of weeks. The past few days? GAAA! There were one or two last minute school supplies to be purchased along with shoes and clothes. My son assured me he didn’t need any new clothes, but my daughter? She “needed” plenty. A guess a girl’s gotta have a new outfit or two to begin the school year.

Friday afternoon my daughter found the perfect pair of tennis shoes at the Penney’s just 10 minutes away from our house. Saturday morning she informed me they were too small. So, back to the conveniently located JCP to fight the back-to-school-tax-free-weekend-coupon-bearing crowds for the next larger size. Bad news: they didn’t have the size she needed. Good news: they had the right size at another location. Bad news: It’s Memorial City Mall in Houston. It’s almost impossible to find a parking space at this mall on a slow day. Saturday was parking lot Armageddon.

Much like the Christmas shopping season, the weekend before school starts is when all the rank amateurs come out to the malls. This was no different. But we were able to get in and out of there in less than 2 hours–an hour and a half of that time spent in the parking lot. Okay, I may be exaggerating a tiny bit about that, but you get my drift. Mission accomplished.

The last of my back to school shopping adventures was a trip to the Walmarts. Just needed some bottled water, lunch supplies and a few snacks. Of course, it was a mad house. I noticed a huge, angst-filled crowd pawing through the school supplies section, which begs the question:

What the hell is wrong with you people?

Don’t get me wrong, I have a black belt in procrastination. I didn’t buy school supplies until last week. But the day before school starts? Sheesh!

Okay…whew. I’m glad I got that off my chest.

As much I’m going to miss the lazy days of summer, I’m the type of person who needs a schedule. Even though I dislike them. So, here we go. Back to the swing of things. It will be Christmas before you know it!

In closing, I would like to share my all-time favorite back to school commercial. My friend Steph at the Red Clay Diaries first posted this a couple of years ago on her blog. It’s an oldie but a goodie. Enjoy!

(Less than) Perfect

image courtesy of

A new school year begins here on Monday. Wednesday night was “Meet the Teacher” night at my daughter’s elementary school. Thursday night we went to the junior high to pick up my son’s schedule, buy school supplies (thank you, PTA) and find his locker.

There is such a marked difference between elementary school kids and those in junior high. Puberty tends to bring out the worst in kids sometimes. I know that was the case with me.

As I walked the hallways with my son, trying to walk a few feet back from him so he didn’t have his mother hovering over him, I witnessed a very big kid walk past him and yell, “MOVE!” My son just walked past him. I should have kept my mouth shut, but sometimes (oftentimes) my mouth is way ahead of my brain. As the big kid walked past me, I looked him in the eye and said, “You are RUDE!” As the kid made a hasty escape down the hallway with me burning a laser glare into the back of his head, I asked my son what his name was. “Mom, I’m not going to tell you. Don’t worry about it”, my son said. As difficult as this was for me, I let it go. Boys need to fight their own battles sometimes. Of course, this didn’t preclude me from staring him down when I ran into him in the cafeteria later, but that’s all I did. He avoided making eye contact with me like a cat avoids a bath, so I think he figured out I wasn’t his biggest fan.

I hate that kids are horrible to one another. I hate that adults are horrible to one another. But as much as I’d like to believe otherwise, people really do suck for the most part, myself included. That’s why we all need an abundance of grace–for ourselves and for each other.

My blogging friend Michelle has a very talented son named Hunter. He is an aspiring filmmaker who helped put together the following video. As the school year begins, I pray for peace and understanding for our kids and for their teachers. And most of all, I pray we extend a little more grace to each other–undeserving as we most assuredly are.

Life’s a beach and then you die

Not only did a week at the beach provide some much needed down time, it also lent itself to some writerly reflections I’ve shared with you here. (Sorry/you’re welcome.) And while there is great beauty and majesty where the waves kiss the shoreline, there is also the ugly underbelly of life near the ocean. I speak, of course, of the seaside gift shop:

A world of capitalistic greed where sunstroke victims can easily be persuaded to part with their vacation dollars. Who among us has not at least been tempted to purchase a souvenir as proof that we were, in fact, at the beach? And nothing says “I’ve been to the Gulf of Mexico” like a coconut painted to look like a pirate’s head.


Really, I don’t object to the coconut head. I don’t believe an oversized nut really cares what happens to it after it falls from a tree. But what of sea creatures? Many of us look forward to Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. We marvel at these ferocious, single minded killing machines of nature. We fear them with awe and respect.

Which is why we feel compelled to stuff them in a pickle jar full of formaldehyde and set them on a shelf: to honor their ferocity:

Majestic, no?

Of course, if having a dead shark on your shelf proves too frightening, you could always opt for an alligator head paper weight:

Personally, I’d like to see them turn some of these into staplers. Form AND function.

The little pufferfish is a poor swimmer. In the ocean, its only defense against predators is to quickly fill itself up with water making it an undesirable meal with its sharp, pointy surface.

Alas, in death there are no such defenses against a hot glue gun, googly eyes and a little straw hat.

Not all pufferfish suffer the indignities of the little straw hat, some retain their former appearance

(Save for the googly eyes, of course)

There is no dignity in death, at least if you’re a gift shop sea creature. But what of dignity in life? The hermit crab, both sea and land dwelling, is virtually defenseless, and must seek shelter from its enemies via the abandoned shells of snails or other such creatures.

I suppose beggars can’t be choosers.

Have we learned nothing from the Spongebob Squarepants movie?

Perhaps not.

It’s good to be human.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go dress my dog up like a chicken…

Little red boat

A little red boat sat alone at the shore.

Each morning I looked for her captain to no avail.

On the third day, I decided it was meant to be set afloat by a captain yet to be determined.

And that captain was me.

Just a short trip around the bay I tell myself. No one will even know I’m gone.

That was before the storms rolled in…

The winds and the waves tossed the little boat for what seemed like hours.

When the storm passed and the seas calmed I found myself on the shores of Key West, where I shared a Cheeseburger in Paradise with Jimmy Buffett.

He asked me to stay for the band’s next set, but the day was waining and I knew I had to get the boat back.

So back in the little red boat I climbed and back to Gulf Shores I paddled. There were sharks and pirates and other perils on my trip back, but I survived and I prevailed.

My adventure took a grand total of 30 minutes

And my feet never left the sand.

Sometimes grand adventures are just a daydream away.

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