Tuesday, May 26, 2009

When the Other Shoe Drops....

"Waiting for the other shoe to drop..."

What does that phrase mean?

From what I can gather I think it has to do with cause and effect. If you think about it, events, like a pair of shoes, have two parts. Part one (the first shoe) is at actual act. It is a word, an experience, a situation that happens in a particular moment of time. Part two (the other shoe)is the effect, the aftermath, the mess that’s left behind to be cleaned up either by the executor of the act or by those that are affected by the act.

Part two doesn’t always come immediately, in fact it may come hours, days, weeks, years later….that’s why you “wait for the other shoe to drop.”

Events, just like pairs of shoes come in all different shapes, styles and sizes. They can be small and pretty insignificant like a pair of flip flops. The aftermath when the other shoe drops is small, not very painful and doesn’t draw a lot of attention. Events can be a bit larger, like a pair of sneakers. They hurt a bit more when they drop and may leave a scuff on the floor and make a thud, but all in all, the damage is minimal. Then there is the all out heavy weight, steel toe boot kind of event. This one is not only heavy, it is loud, draws attention, damages and leaves a mark on what ever it has hit.

So, what do you do when the “other shoe has dropped?”

Well, the way I see it, you can do one of three things.

1. You can ignore the shoe, step over it, act like it’s not even there. But I warn you, eventually you will trip on it and land flat on your face eye level with that stinky shoe.

2. You can kick the shoe under the bed, the couch, into the closest…where ever you can to simply get it out of your sight. But you always have the constant nag of knowing the shoe is there and will need to be picked up eventually.

3. You can pick up the shoe, find it’s mate, and figure out why it dropped in the first place. Only then can you put on that pair of shoes and use them to walk forward.

None of these choices are easy. They all have consequences associated with them. But I firmly believe that the most productive option is the third one. It is much better to walk around with shod feet than to constantly walk on egg-shells bare footed.

If you are dealing with a dropped shoe…take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. This Mom of Many Hats has picked up a lot of pairs of shoes in her life. Some of the pairs may have gone out of style and don’t get worn that often, but others are the ones that I wear to walk into the future.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hot Crossed Buns...Don't Get Burned!

If you live in a desert area, you can probably relate to this.....

You're on your way out to run an errand in the middle of a hot summer day. The air is hot and and actually burns your skin as the 117 degree blast hits you in the face as you step outside. You get in your car, knowing that you can make it to where ever it is you need to go because your car that you've had parked in the garage will keep you nice and cool till you arrive at your destination.

As you drive down the road, you can actually see the heat rising from the road. It is an ominous reminder of just how hot the desert summers can be. But still, you don't lament much...at that moment... because you are still in your nice cool car and are headed into a nice office building, grocery store or mall. You know that despite the heat, you can bypass the pain of the blazing temperatures.

You pull into the parking lot of your destination. Then realization hits. The car you've been in will soon be sitting in the hot summer sun, transforming from a vessel of comfort to a blazing hot oven! When you get back into the car to leave, your hot car seat will give new meaning to hot crossed buns. And, unless you want to be branded with the metal of the seat belt buckle, you'd better find a way to keep the car cool.

So, you search and search for a shady parking spot to keep your motorized domain cool. Your eyes scan the parking lot. You see a few spaces shaded by small desert trees, but those that were there before you reaped the benefit of the shade. Just when all hope for finding shade is gone, you see a shopper leaving the building and heading towards a shady spot. You think your parking dilemma is over. Quickly you navigate the lot until you are right behind them. Slowly and stealthily you lurk behind ever so slowly inching your car forward as they approach their vehicle. You take the assertive posture, moving you car to the center of the isle as to not let someone from behind gain the upper hand. You put your blinker on and make definite "don't even think about it" eye contact with every other driver you encounter while on your hunt for some respite from the summer sun. The patron slowly backs out of the space. Without hesitation, your accelerate your car forward and into the newly available spot.

Feeling proud and accomplished at reaching your goal, you look up to admire the canopy of shade that protects you and your backside from the heat. You expect to see a lush, shady, green covering above. What you see is the twiggy, small leafed, sparsely covered branches of a Mesquite tree that are about as effective at shading your car as an umbrella made out of fishnet is at keep you dry in a rain storm.

There is nothing left to do but crack the windows, find the few stray napkins from your last drive through stop to use to cover the steering wheel, and pray that a rogue monsoon will miraculously roll in and minimize the heat.

So...what's the purpose of this summertime parking dramatization?

Sometimes we put ourselves into situations that we know we will get burned in, often times repeatedly. We are willing to take the same risks and apply the same behaviors but expect different results. To avoid getting burned, we often need to re-adjust and take a different approach to life, an approach that keeps us out of the heat.

As a side note.....Ive learned to do most of my summertime errands after the sun has gone down.....

Friday, May 15, 2009

What a Man...What a Mighty Fine Man!

To all my loyal readers, you have probably read about my husband, Mr. Mom of Many Hats.

We have been married for over 17 years now. For the most part, we work very well together. We share similar goals, ideals, values, and outlooks on life. We have done a pretty good job of melding our parenting styles to create a united front and a cohesive plan to raising our children. We have some common interests that we are able so share - hockey, running, healthy lifestyle, among other things. We also have plenty of differences that we both respect and know are essential to our growth not only as individuals, but also as a couple. I think overall, we get a lot of things right.

But like most couples, we have struggled with the whole male/female communication thing. If you read my post Pass the Cheese Please! you probably know about one of our communication breakdowns early in our marriage. Now I must admit that I did not do a wonderful job of communicating a response back to him (my dad made the comment that he knew Mr. Mom of Many Hats was in trouble by the look on my face and the tone in my voice.) And yes.... I did milk it for all I could.

After I posted Pass the Cheese Please! Mr. Mom of Many Hats posted a response that reinforced the reason that I love him so much. Please read Mr. Mom of Many Hats words.....

To my bride: Well written! You have a real talent for relating your experience and perspectives. I'm proud of you.

To everyone else who reads this: I did err when I exclaimed, out loud, my shock at the strange ingredient in the lasagne. It was not fair to my bride. New husbands take note - appreciate the effort even if the results may not be what you expected. While I have since said many stupid things over the last 17 years, I have not repeated that mistake. I must say, though, that I watched my grandmother and my father make lasagne many times and ne'er a cottage cheese container even entered the kitchen! As a matter of fact, if my grandmother had made it that way and I saw cottage cheese go in there, I would not have eaten hers either. I just don't like the stuff. And no, I haven't been spelling lasagne wrong. Check the dictionary, it can end in an 'e' or an 'a'. Just like I suppose it can be made with more than one kind of cheese. I only eat lasagne spelled with an 'e' at the end. I don't like the kind with the 'a' at the end either....

Ti amo!!

I love reading these words. They are witty, honest, and explain his standpoint. In his response, he not only acknowledges where he erred, but he also (rightfully so) defended his viewpoint. He offered sage advice to new husbands and proclaimed his pride in me.

My response back to him is.... What a man....what a mighty fine man!

Do you have a mighty fine man too? Or for that matter, a mighty fine woman? Leave a response and share your story with all of AZ Mom of Many Hat's readers!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pass the Cheese Please......

When my husband and I were first married, we had an apartment warming party. I cooked lasagna for the entire family. I was so proud to have everyone over to our new domestic haven. I had prepared all day long for the meal and was looking forward to showing off my domestic prowess. I laid out a buffet of food to share with my lasagna as the centerpiece. The table was worthy of a photo to place in an “Our First Home" photot album.

I had prepared the lasagna the way my mom had always cooked it, and similar to the way it was prepared in the prepackaged Italian dinners - the way I had ALWAYS eaten it. As we gathered around the small apartment we blessed the food and began breaking bread together as one big happy family. I lovingly watched my handsome young husband as he enjoyed the meal. I was honored as he took a bite of the lasagna and his eyes got wide. I about burst with pride as I figured my husband was enamored with my cooking. I could see he was about to offer up words of praise….I waited anxiously.

As any blushing bride would, I listened adoringly for his praise. Then, in front of all of his family, my family and all of our friends, my husband exclaimed


…..and not in the tone that indicated he was pleasantly surprised. It was a tone of disbelief. I, his new bride, had committed an awful sin. I had used cottage cheese, not ricotta, in my lasagna. To my Italian husband and his family, this was practically unforgivable.

For the next 17 years, I endured ridicule as the story was re-told countless times. “Remember the cottage cheese…” , “Can’t be as bad as the cottage cheese incident….,” “Angie, what kind of cheese did you use in this?”

Then, on Christmas day, 2008, I got one of the greatest gifts I could possibly have received. My father-in-law pulled a recipe box out of his cupboard and slowly opened it. As he opened it, he slowly issued me an heartfelt apology. In this box was a recipe from his mother - an amazing woman and the quintessential Italian grandma. The very first ingredient on this recipe for some sort of Italian pie was….you guessed it…..COTTAGE CHEESE!

Finally, after all of those years, the “cottage cheese incident” could no longer be held over my head.

Now did this incident occupy all of my thoughts for all these years? No. Did it stop me from meeting goals and living a happy life? No. But, I have to admit, it felt pretty good to be vindicated!

Why did this vindication feel so good? Why, when I knew the lasagna actually tasted pretty good, did I let this even occupy any space within me? I guess it is because at some level as humans, we all want to fit it. We want to be accepted. We want community with others and acknowledgment. I am no different. I want that too. This little incident at some level, although not a conscious level, made me feel like I didn’t belong, like I was different, like I didn’t fit in with my community. Hearing that I wasn’t the only one who had used the cottage cheese, and then hearing the acknowledgment finally gave me a place within the group.

Is this a MAJOR over analysis of this situation? Yes and no.

To all my family that reads this…it hasn’t bothered me all that much. I have even found a lot of humor in it and I have even broadened my culinary skills because of it. But, I think the general idea is not a really a stretch. We should continually be aware of how we are acknowledging others. As members of this big human family, we have a duty to foster community with others and create an environment of inclusion - even if others do use cottage cheese in their lasagna…..

By the way....my husband has NEVER had that kind of reaction to my cooking again. I guess we both learned some valuable lessons from that lasagna.