"To Do" List

This world moves very quickly, and during the course of a 24 hour period of time, we have implanted in our minds, things that we'd like to accomplish. Lists of "Things To Do" is what runs through my mind, and usually is scribed somewhere on a 3x5 card.  I am such a lucky woman to have a few of these 'lists' around.

One is my 'General List for Work', which includes the simple tasks that I don't always do on a daily basis, but need to be accomplished. If they're real 'technical' (legal documents) they get a special list of 'Paperwork for Work' list all to their very own. These lists are usually accomplished in a relatively short amount of time, and when the tasks at hand are completed, the list is simply thrown away.

My home has a few lists of it's own. One's a general "Housecleaning To Do" list, another boasts the title of "Projects @ the House", while still another holds the coveted "Important Dates/Times" list. Why, you might ask, are lists such a prominent part of my life? It reminds me of all of the things that I not only expect my self to execute, but what others are relying on me to complete as well.  I have to admit, that sometimes, just sometimes, there are a few items on the list that don't get completed, but I still cross them out, as though the task at hand was done. It's not cheating, after all, most of this is just to organize my thoughts, my wishes of how I'd like my world, my day, to run. Not like the 'List Nazis' are gonna check up on me and my follow-through, right?

These items, the one's that I put on my 'list', which ever one it may be, are usually a chore, task, errand, etc. that needs to be completed, but isn't something that I REALLY want to do. So, my dearest friends, I have decided that I want to create a list (NOT my 'bucket list' ~ that has different parameters) that has some positive connotation to me... be it just fanciful, or even a tad practical.

1) Dance the night away
2) Learn the secret to happiness
3) Discover why men have to be the driver when the other passenger is a female
4) Read for a minimum of 4 hours each day of whatever you want.... (I know, for me, unrealistic)
5) Tweet at least 5 compliments to 5 different people each day (watch your following grow!)
6) Give a hug to at least 4 people a day.
7) Imagine "What if.." on a scale so huge, IF it were to happen, your life would be forever changed.
8) Spend time alone, no electronics around, and reflect on those people who mean so much to you.
9) Sing, loudly, to your favorite music while driving around 'back roads'
10) Find out who teaches kids to jump on chairs, couches, or beds
11) Meditate on positive people, places, and events in your life...
12) Spend a day with someone under the age of 21, they are FASCINATING!
13) Write a letter by hand to a dear friend or family member, put it in an envelope, mail it!
14) Send a "Thinking of You" note to someone you just thought of (See #8)
15) Order something, anything, online, to be delivered whenever ~ as a gift to you.
16) Take a 2 month trip down the Rhine, visiting EVERY castle along the way
17) Take a horseback ride under the full moon (again!)
18) Spend a night watching a meteor shower
19) Go on a photographic expedition of an area that's always fascinated you
20) Find out who teaches kids to jump in mud puddles (see #10 ~ they might be able to help)

I know I've got more... but I'll end it here for now ~ as soon as I accomplish a few of these, I'll be adding another. In the mean time, get going, you've got a list to make and things to do!

A Family Portrait ~ Just in Time for Christmas!

We currently live in a lovely little sub-division, neatly dotted with look-alike homes. I would venture to guess that well over half of the properties have children (ages ranging from 0-21) residing with their parents. Many of 'the first families' in the neighborhood still exchange Christmas cards, goodie baskets, and of course, the holiday family portrait, the same one that Aunt Eunice in Topeka gets in her Christmas card.

I had been honored to have been asked to take THAT family picture for a young couple this last holiday bout. The family was dressed in matching flip flops, shorts and adorable shirts. They looked like something out of a catalog. We discussed where the picture would be taken, who would sit where, and what palms should be in the backdrop. The pool had to be in the photo too... I mean, you can't JUST have the kids in shorts for a December picture without the constant reminders that 'we live in a warm climate' screaming at your relatives, who are most likely buried in 8 feet of freshly fallen snow.

It was perfect, they were perfect. They sat together, the young couple grinning, the children excited. Then it happened. A flip flop fell off, much to Mommy's chagrin. Daddy explained that 'you are a grown up 4 years old, you need to act accordingly and not flop around like a fish.' Apparently, the two year old decided that since he was NOT 4, he SHOULD flop like a fish, and in doing so, inadvertently hit his mother squarely on the bridge of her nose. Her nose began to swell, and the tears she was producing were ruining her perfect make up job that she had administered to herself earlier that morning. After we applied ice to her nose, the dog ran into the planted palm, dumping its contents onto the newly scrubbed brick pavers. The children became whiny, as what began as an exciting moment became a comedy of errors. It was close to nap time too ~ and I could feel the frustration taking a toll on us all, as I wanted to claim 'nap time' along side the children.

Before the day was through, we did manage to get a couple of pictures taken, one of them actually made it as 'the' picture for the holiday greeting card. The young mother thanked me for my time, and was exasperated over the whole ordeal.

The young mother lamented about the photo shoot, claiming that nothing comparable had EVER happened like this before. She was clearly embarrassed and frustrated. I explained to her the cliché lines that I was once told, that this was something she'd look back on and laugh about. I then shared my family's own little holiday picture shoot extravaganza with her.

All four kids, ages 6 months, 2, 6, and 8 years of age were dressed up, well coiffed, and ready for it. The diaper bag was packed for the trip to the Department Store Photo Studio; otherwise known as ~ "we still have floor space, what do we do with it to make money" area.

We had made an appointment, but due to the New England weather, either the photographers, previous appointments, or all of the above were running late. I liken waiting with small children in a confined public area as an opportunity to expose any and all dysfunction a family has or COULD have. As you can guess, our 3 1/2 hour wait consisted of the typical stressors that a young family would encounter: the 4 diaper changes, the toddler that was ready for her nap 1/2 hr before the sitting, and two kids that wanted nothing more than to go back to the toy area to dream of what Santa would bring them, began to fray our nerves.

My husband and I began getting short with the children, then correcting one another. We were, after all, in public. I had been smart enough to bring my 2 year olds favorite stuffed bear, aptly named "Bear", to sooth her while we waited. By the time we were ready to select the backdrop, figure out where we were sitting, and get the children in place, there was nary a smile in the place. Tears ran down faces, whining ensued, and complaints of 'This is stupid!' and 'Why do we need to do this?' made me reflect on whether or not it was truly a good idea.

The children were constrained into poses, yes, constrained, as between each shutter click, my husband and I mumbled words that a sea-fairing soul would identify easily. The two year old, to the point of being un-consolable, was offered "Bear" and would not part with him. Growling under a pasted on grin, we told the kids that there was just a moment or two more, and all of this nightmare would be over..

The photo was lovely, my grandmother even said so. My parents and in-laws cooed over the portrait, which, to this day, sits prominently in the living rooms of their homes. When a friend comes to visit, they point out how much the children have grown, and how they have/haven't changed. Every time I look at it, I smile, and am grateful that I don't have to re-do that day again.

We have taken only one other official family portrait, many years later. The kids were much more at ease, there was no need to wrestle with diapers or snacks. There were moments, ones that were spent grumbling about one little thing or another. The photos, after all, are a snapshot of what we are, what others see, when we're in public.