Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Pink Ladies

We all remember "The Pink Ladies" in the movie Grease. They walked around strutting their stuff, trying to make everyone else feel inferior. After an encounter I had yesterday, I'm thinking that a new gang of Pink Ladies has started to take over the land--Mary Kay people.

If you are a Mary Kay person, or love their products, I'm sorry if this offends you, but after you read of my experience, I think you will understand.

Over the years, I've been approached by many people who sell Mary Kay and want me to use their products, or be a consultant. I used to use the products and liked them well enough, but have NO desire to sell the stuff no matter what kind of discount I would get. In all my encounters in the past, I have never been made to feel so uncomfortable by a Pink Lady as I did yesterday.

I was at TJ Maxx--alone. J, L and O were at school, and K was with my mom. So, I was browsing through the shoes when I noticed this woman staring at me. Thinking that maybe I knew her from somewhere and just didn't remember, I sort of smiled to be polite and moved on. She followed me into the next aisle of shoes. "Is she following me?" I wondered. Then I thought that maybe I was making too much of it.

So, I walked to the sale section where everything is just weird leftovers from summer in sizes like 6 or 11 and THERE SHE WAS AGAIN.

She turned her back and I darted into the little girls' section and pretty soon, THERE SHE WAS AGAIN. This time she started staring at me a little more and I clutched my purse close to me, had my hand on my cell phone and was getting ready to kick her and call 911.

Then she spoke in her big smiley voice, "Hi," she gushed. "I love your coat. Where did you get your coat if you don't mind me asking?"

I mumbled something about getting it for Christmas a couple years ago and scooted away from her. She kept smiling at me through perfectly lined lips. I was officially freaked out and thought about running to the front of the store, jumping in my van and driving away, but I was afraid she was a psychopath that would just follow me. I decided to find a place where there were more people so if she tried to attack me, there would at least be witnesses. I made my way into the boys' section and tried to keep an eye out for her. Within about 30 sections, THERE SHE WAS AGAIN.

I saw her walking towards me this time in her very high heeled boots, purse held like she was going to open it with her perfectly manicured fingernails. She flipped her ponytail, batted her very well made up eyes and said, "I'm just going to ask you this...would you consider being a face model for me?"

While I'm not sure what look I had on my face at this point, I'm pretty sure it was something between, "Get away from me you weirdo" and "What the heck are you talking about."

She went on to explain while she thrusted a business card at me, "I'm annoying Mary Kay woman who likes to stalk people in stores (she actually gave me her name at this point)and I like the way your skin looks. And, I would really like a fair skinned model at my next..."

At this point, I tuned her out and was trying to think of a way to reach in my pocket and make my cell phone magically ring. I have no idea how she finished her sentence because all I could think was, "You've got to be kidding me?????? Who chases people around stores??????? I will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER sell Mary Kay. I would rather work at McDonald's than be a PINK LADY."

Then I remembered from my neighbor who is the least pushy Mary Kay person in the world, that if you mention you already know someone in Mary Kay to a consultant, she should back off since you technically have a consultant already. The stalker lady wasn't going to back down and she continued to ramble on and on when I decided to pull out the big guns.

I know one of the national sales directors for THE PINK LADIES because her son used to play on Jonah's soccer team. I figured mentioning her name to Stalker Lady would make her go away--but it didn't...because she knew her...on a personal level...and she is going to the national sales director's house in Florida for Thanksgiving! All this did was prolong our conversation and cause me to have to explain how I knew her and that took us into a conversation about children. Oh, it was endless and I just wanted to shop in peace.

After finally freeing myself, I headed straight for the door, ran to my van, and drove off fast.

I don't understand how this is good salesmanship. It is NOT o.k. to follow a person around a store. It's weird. The worst part about this is that now that she knows that I know the national sales director chick, she can find out my phone number and something tells me that if she's the type of person to follow someone around a store, she won't be a bit shy about getting my number and calling.

Thank goodness for caller ID.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fall 2004

This time of year, with the cold and the falling leaves, always reminds me of the fall of 2004. That fall was hard for me and then suddenly became filled with one of the biggest blessings in my life.

In March of 2004, I found out, rather unexpectedly, that I was pregnant. At this time, Landon and Olivia were only 18 months old and the prospect of having three children so close together was kind of daunting. But, after the initial shock wore off, I was happy. At the same time; however, I had a good friend trying to get pregnant. Sharing the news of my pregnancy with her wasn't easy. She was very gracious about it and was happy for me, but at the same time, I knew it was probably hard for her.

A couple weeks after finding out I was pregnant, I felt something was wrong. I didn't "feel pregnant". After going to the doctor for some blood work, then an ultrasound, we found out that there was no baby. The sac was completely intact, but the baby just wasn't there. I was angry. I felt like my body was defective since this same thing had happened to me before I had Jonah. It just didn't seem fair. I ended up having an D & C during spring break. It was good that I had the entire break to recover since I was teaching junior high at the time.

During all of this mess with me, my friend, Tracy, the one trying to get pregnant, found out that she was pregnant. It was a very hard time for her, I'm sure, me recovering from a miscarriage while she was trying to spread the good news of her own. The fact that we taught together at the same school made everyone feel awkward. More than once I walked into the office to have people congratulating her and then turning to me to say, "Sorry".

What amazed me about this time is that first of all, I genuinely was happy for Tracy and her husband. I wanted them to have a baby and I was glad she was pregnant. What I was angry about was the careless words people said to me during this time. On more than one occasion I got the following:

"After all you went through to have the twins. You really wanted to do that to yourself again?"

"You have your hands full enough right now. This is a blessing in disguise."

"What if you have another baby with a cleft? Do you really want that?"

My answers to these questions were always:

"Yes, I think babies are worth every bit of trouble."

"A miscarriage is never a blessing. It's an emotion upheaval and to suggest that God made this happen is sick."

"No, I would never wish a birth defect on a child, but I would love them all the same--cleft or no cleft."

Finally, I broke down one day at school, and a mom of one of my students said, "Heather, these people are nuts. If you made a cake mix and put it in the oven expecting a cake, only to realize that something was wrong and it didn't bake correctly, would it make that cake any less of a cake? Of course it wouldn't. A baby is still a baby and whatever the circumstances, when it doesn't come out of the 'oven' like it should, it's devastating."

At that point, instead of crying about the baby that was gone, I started praying for another one. I asked God to take the desire for a baby away if I wasn't going to have any more kids because at that point, the desire was very strong.

Meanwhile, I decided to stay home with Landon and Olivia, so I quit teaching during the day, but that fall I started teaching English classes for a community college about 45 minutes away. Two of my closest friends were now pregnant. My friend, Tracy, and my friend Laura. I was happy for them, but handled it o.k. The closer we got to November 15th, which was to be my due date, the more sad I became.

Then one evening, Laura called to tell me that she'd been talking to Tracy on the phone when Tracy's water broke. She was about 3 weeks early and was quickly going to the hospital. Parker was born not very long after she arrived at the hospital. He was in perfect health despite being a little early. The next day, I went to visit her in the hospital. I got to hold the tiny bundle and touch Parker's sweet litte hands and then all of the sudden it hit me. I was sitting in a hospital room ON NOVEMBER 15th (what should've been my due date), at the very hospital I was supposed to deliver my baby, and I was holding a baby that wasn't mine. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. I couldn't believe that Tracy had Parker the day before my due date. What were the odds?

I thought about the irony of the situation all day long. I cried a few tears that night on the way to teach my class. While I was teaching that night, I realized I didn't feel so great. Thinking it was due to the stress of the day, I put it from my mind. Then I started thinking about the fact that my period was late. I figured it was too big a coincidence, but went to Wal-Mart after class and bought a pregnancy test. Since I had a 45 minute drive home, the suspense was killing me, so I pulled into a Casey's, went to the restroom and took a deep breath.

What were the odds of finding out I was pregnant on the very day I was supposed to have had a baby? Fulling expecting to see the NEGATIVE sign on the stick, I nearly passed out when it said POSITIVE. I looked into the mirror and started laughing like a maniac. How could this be happening?

At that point, I slipped into zombie mode. I could not believe this was happening. I got back into my car, turned on the radio and Lionel Richie was singing "Ballerina Girl". Was it a sign, I wondered? Was I having another girl? Something told me I was.

Mike was just as shocked at the news. We had not been trying for another baby and now, faced with the reality of the situation, we were a little scared. What if I had another miscarriage? What if I had a difficult pregnancy like with the twins? What if the baby had a cleft?

We got through all those what if's and really enjoyed the pregnancy. I felt pretty good considering I was pregnant and chasing after 2 two-year-olds and a 2nd grader. Our attitude when people asked us how we were going to do it was always the same: after handling premature twins, one baby was a walk in the park.

And you know what? It was. Other than using the umbilical cord as a jump rope and wrapping it around her neck 3 times while she was inside me, all things with Kate were pretty uneventful. Easy pregnancy. Easy delivery. Easy recovery from the c-section and an easy-going baby in the end.

I never take any of my children for granted, but when I look at Kate, I'm constantly reminded of the amazingness of how God works things out. She was a wonderful little present given to me on what could've been one a very sad and depressing day.

Even though our house is loud and crazy sometimes and the laundry is never ending, I feel blessed beyond belief to have four children and I'm so thankful that God felt I could handle the craziness.

Friday, November 7, 2008


I really hate talking about politics. I know that I just did on Tuesday and here I am about ready to do it again, but something happened today that really just infuriated me.

I was subbing in a 4th grade classroom. The kids were taking an English quiz and a little boy approached me with his finger pointed at one of the sentences. The sentence talked about the rose gardens at the White House and this little boy, with a confused look on his face asked me, "Why are they talking about rose bushes at the White House? They don't have roses there anymore."

Thinking he was referring to the time of year when everything dies, I said, "Well, there aren't roses there right now but in the spring and summer, they're back again."

He shook his head and looked at me like I was ignorant and told me, "No! Obama got rid of all of them."

I then went on to explain to him that Barack Obama is still a senator until January and right now he's just the president-elect and isn't making decision about roses in the White House flower garden.

And then, here's where I almost lost it on this 9 year old who is obviously been horribly misguided. He said to me without a smile, grin, laugh, or anything else to indicate he was telling me a joke (this would be a truly horrific joke if he were trying to tell it as a joke), "Obama ripped out all the rose gardens to make a watermelon patch. That's what his kind like."

For a moment, I thought that all the air had been sucked out of the room. I couldn't breathe. Here I was...faced with a 9 year old bigot who had been taught to be a bigot by someone, somewhere that he trusted.

My first reaction was to yell at him or shake him and scream, "ARE YOU KIDDING ME? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!!!!!???????"

I closed my eyes and said a silent prayer that God would show me what to do because I wasn't sure where to go with this. Then I heard this little voice in my heart that said, "He doesn't know any different. This is what he's been taught."

So, for the next several minutes, bigot boy and I had a very serious conversation on racism, racial slurs, and the choices we make with our words. He never would tell me where exactly he had heard it, but I have a pretty good guess. While I don't know his parents, I suspect that the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree. I told him things like that were poison and type of poison is what has caused violence against human beings for hundreds of years.

I was bothered by what the little boy said, but I was also horrified and embarrassed by my community. People in ours and surrounding communities aren't really open minded when it comes to other races. The closest thing to any kind of racial exposure our town gets is when people go into the Chinese restaurant downtown. I felt compelled to make sure my children know how lucky they are to live in a country where literally, anyone can be whatever he or she wants to be if that person works hard enough.

So, while we were driving to our nearest "real" town about 30 miles away to go out for dinner, I began lecturing them on the evils of racism and how it has no purpose. Jonah then told me that kids at school were saying that if a person didn't like Barack Obama, then that person was a racist. See how ignorant our community is? Children don't even realize that an individual can disagree with another person's political point of view and still respect that individual as a human being. It's an all or nothing situation with so many of them. Many kids don't even realize what racism truly is.

As I've said before, I have always voted Republican and I don't know if I'm going to be very happy with all the policies our new president is endorsing. I don't know if I believe everything he says, but this has nothing to do with the color of his skin; it's just the nature of politics.

Meanwhile, today's situation has made me realize that Mike and I have a our work cut out for us. We need to make sure our kids are going to be the ones to set the ignorant straight in our community. I want my children to root for the underdog (which in our community means anyone that isn't popular and white) and reach out to help them and not make stupid, insensitive comments based on a person's color, looks, economic status, or intelligence.

Sometimes I think our country has come so far and then an incident like today happens and suddenly, it feels like we're going backwards and nobody seems to care.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Politics Shmolotics

I'm sitting here on this fine Election Day evening listening to and reading on the internet everyone's reactions to the events of the day. The more I listen, the more annoyed I become. I'm annoyed by the left and the right. I think that both sides have the potential to be the biggest whiners and complainers on the face of the earth.

First of all, let it be known, that I seriously did not have a deep down conviction on who I felt should be elected president. What does this say about me as a person? I don't know and really, I don't care. That's the glory of living in America. You can be unsure and it's OK. It's called FREEDOM.

Also, it should be known that historically, I have always voted Republican--except for the unfortunate mistake of voting for our terrible, horrible, no good, very bad current governor. But hey, everyone makes mistakes, right? I just hope he doesn't run the state so far into the ground that my dad loses his job!

I guess when it comes down to it, I was pulling for McCain. Although tonight while I was washing dishes I began to wonder why exactly was I pulling for McCain? Then I came up with some thoughts.

Growing up, my family was not very politically minded. Our dinner conversation was not one that contained political chit-chat. Did we care about the state of our country? Yes. However, we weren't going to debate the current state of affairs while passing the potatoes because that did two things. 1. It caused people to get upset and 2. It caused indigestion.

I was; however, raised in a very conservative Christian family and although nobody came out and said it, it was assumed that a vote for a Republican was a vote that would "please God" because Republicans were considered "Christians" and Democrats were deemed those who "needed to know Jesus." The reason behind this belief seemed to be based on the abortion issue. If you were anti-abortion then you should vote Republican even though no Republican president since the inception of Roe vs. Wade has been able to abolish abortion! There are other issues, but many times, people fail to see them.

I was raised to believe I should be a Republican because a vote for Republican was a vote for GOD and really, I still do consider myself a Republican, but I think that there are many Democrats that would call themselves Christian. What bothers me so much about politics is that too many Christians get wrapped up in the party labels and they stop looking at the actual candidates. Then, once their candidate doesn't win, they assume that our country is going to be destroyed and that God is not pleased with the current state of affairs.

My point is this: GOD KNOWS EVERYTHING THAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN. It's all part of His plan and to shake your head and point fingers, and worry about what is going to happen in the world based on who the President of the United States is really like doubting God. It doesn't really matter who the President is...God is the one truly in control. People lie, they disappoint, laws don't get passed, or laws do get passed and all of these things shape our way of life, but God is still the one calling the shots.

My biggest disappointment in this election is the way that so many Christians look down with distain at Democrats--whether it be a person running for office or just a person going to vote. I don't know what is going to happen with the state of our country, but I do know that anyone has the potential to do something great or do something awful with the power that is given to him. It doesn't matter what the party affiliation is.

I don't know what is going to happen now that we have a new leader. My prayer is that everything goes smoothly and that people on both sides of the party lines can see the positives and that the President can listen to the people and the voice of God in his decision making.