Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Honest Truth About Lying

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick

I don't know what bothers me more, catching someone in a lie, or having that person not take responsibility for it. People lie so easily that it becomes second nature to them, and kids pick up on it at an early age. I've always instilled in my children the importance of telling the truth, or at least I thought I did.

We all tell "little white lies" from time to time. I remember many years ago, if  I had a bad cold when my grandmother called, I would tell her that I was fine. I didn't want to worry her, and have her check up on me several times a day. I know that my boys picked up on this, so I explained that it would only upset her, and a fib wasn't as bad as a lie.

This would come back to haunt me several years later, when my older son was hospitalized for the stomach flu his sophomore year of college. He was so dehydrated that he spent the night hooked up to an IV, and didn't bother to mention it until several days later.  My younger son only called to tell me about the stitches in his forehead a few months ago, because there was a question about the insurance. 

I remember how one of my friends used to lie to her parents by saying she was spending the night at my house, so she could be with her boyfriend. There was no Caller ID back then, so she would phone them from his place. By the same token, with cell phones people could be calling from anywhere. When my kids were in high school, if they called to tell me that they were staying overnight at a friend's house, I would tell them to hang up, and call me from their house phone. Once they went away to college, all the rules changed. 

I was brought up to fear my parents, and with that fear came respect. Today, many parents want  to be thought of as friends not disciplinarians. I'd be happy if we met somewhere in the middle with honesty and respect thrown into the mix. I want to be able to trust them completely, but with every slip up, that trust has to be earned all over again. Likewise, I'd like for them to be able to trust us enough to come to us with any problem.

White lies are like matches, they could be blown out quickly after one strike, or they could become a force of nature spreading as wildly as a forest fire. I've always told my sons that their word means everything. I have some idea what word they would use to describe me right now, but I won't ask, because that would be encouraging them to lie.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Nighttime Aerobics

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick

Left, right, twist, turn,
Nothing is working
To fight off the burn.

One, two, three kick
Flexing, stretching
While the clock ticks.

Booming sounds to and fro
Swatting, punching
Nowhere else to go.

Pillows flying, sheets galore
Taking off layers
Hot flashes no more.

A new dawn,
Hubby wakes feeling fantastic
Wife lets out a yawn
While snuggling in her casket.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Son's 5 Minutes of Fame on Oprah

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick

When my oldest son was in first grade, a friend of mine asked me to get a group of children together to shoot a promo for an upcoming episode. After I happily agreed, one of the producer's called me to make the arrangements. She originally wanted to film in a park since we were enjoying beautiful spring weather; however, I was able to persuade her to bring the camera crew to my backyard instead. We had a swing set in a wooded setting, so I was thrilled when she accepted my offer. Suddenly, I felt like I was calling the shots for Oprah's crew, and the next step was to arrange the casting. 

I immediately called my closest friends who had kids around the same age, as well as a few neighbors. My son also asked his best friend and his sister to join the group. We had to work fast, as they were planning a special show with Hillary Clinton involving school reform, and they wanted to feature young school age children in short commercials leading up to her appearance. 

The next day the crew arrived at my house to shoot the footage. I had gathered about six kids together, and more followed when they saw the van pull in. My 4 year old ran around with the big kids, while I sat back with the other stage mothers. The end result was a scene with two children playing on the swing set, with a close up of a little girl with dark curls, and another close up of my son looking very serious, climbing a tree. The voice over announced the details of  President Clinton's wife's visit, "On the next Oprah" while the beautiful black & white footage of the kids appeared in the blink of an eye.  

The following fall, our group was called back for a special opening to launch Oprah's 10th anniversary season. More kids were added to the mix, so we headed to a lovely park in the city. There were over 100 participants there, hence they began to narrow down the list. That summer my son had lost a few teeth, and his brown hair had bleached out a bit from the sun. Since his appearance had changed slightly, I wasn't sure if he would make the cut. His little brother came along for the ride, so I brought two potential "stars" with me. 

Fortunately, my older son was asked to stay, as well as my neighbor's daughter who drove down with us. Before filming began, the children were sent over to a hair and make-up trailer. While they were primping on other's windblown tresses, they took one look at my boy's perfectly coiffed mane, and sent us on our way.

 The special 10th anniversary opening montage with Oprah, surrounded by children, as well as other memorable scenes throughout the years, aired for only one episode. I never was able to find out why they decided to go with something else instead. Afterward, I offered to buy my boy a special toy to celebrate his first job, not to mention his exemplary behavior, and all he wanted was a sword. 

I'm so grateful to my friend for making both experiences possible, beginning almost 15 years ago to the day. She was also kind enough to send me videos, which I'll convert onto DVDs with a combined running time of less than 5 minutes, but worth a lifetime of memories. With Miss Winfrey's departure from daytime TV, I'm saddened by the end of an era. If only I had the foresight, to take better care of our souvenir Oprah t-shirts.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stamping Out Junk Mail

                                                                                      Julie Kemp Pick

The other day I was going through the typical assortment of bills, and catalogues when a certain letter caught my eye. It was bright yellow with the headline, NEED DAILY CASH - HERE IT IS “GUARANTEED”!!! Well I was saving up for a new robe, so I read further. The next sentence explained that I could earn over 2 million dollars within 6 to 18 months if I followed 3 easy steps starting with a $25 membership fee. I turned the flyer around to see if there was a giant GOTCHA written on it, but found the heading, "This new program is SCAM FREE!!!" instead. 

I was taught to be weary of the single exclamation point. However, triple exclamation points always cancel out the single one, factoring in a double negative which becomes a positive, so it must be true. The first step to becoming a millionaire is to send $5 to five members on the list. They include men and women from Pennsylvania to Tennessee. I'm still waiting to find out if they accepted my friendship requests on Facebook. They're probably busy running back and forth from the bank everyday.

After I send the first five checks in, I'm supposed to invite 5 new members, who each invite 5 new members and so on. In the meantime, I’ll be receiving “tons of $5 CASH from each new member” under me.

There are two more levels before I'm on the road to luxury. I just have to increase my cash payments to $50 for 5 members at level 2, and by the time I reach level 3 my payments will jump to $500 each. Because I’ll also be receiving money, I’ll only have to invest the original $25 plus a $15 monitoring fee. This amazing program will enable me to turn $40 into $2,167,275 within 6-18 months.

I wanted to call the head of marketing to thank him in advance for this “revolutionary new plan,” but I couldn’t reach him. Come to think of it, he never even mentioned his name. Suddenly, I have an overwhelming urge to watch reruns of the $100,000 Pyramid on the Game Show Network.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

How I Almost Flashed The Fire Department

                                                                                                 Julie Kemp Pick

As I eagerly awaited my boys' arrival for summer break, I did a quick sweep of their bedrooms, and went to check on the condition of their bathroom. It desperately needed a mini makeover. A couple of fresh coats of paint, and a power wash for the tile, and the bathroom would be ready just in time for them to turn it into a frat house.

The next day the painter arrived on time, and everything was going smoothly. The walls required sand blasting, because they needed to smooth down the stenciled cowboy designs I had painted in 1994. Hey, I didn't want their delicate noses to inhale dangerous paint fumes, and I also didn't want them to develop a taste for beer, before they were even double digits. Now was the perfect time for a change; while still keeping  their allergies at bay. All was calm, until the smoke alarm sounded off. 

After I turned the alarm off, I called the alarm company to tell them that the sand blasting must have tripped it. They told me that the firefighters were already on their way. Before I hung up, two fire trucks were in front of my house. I nervously apologized, and they were very gracious and understanding.

Two days later, our handyman was scheduled to clean, re-grout, and seal their  bathroom tile. He came a half hour early, before I had taken my shower.  While he was working in one bathroom, I was showering in the other.  As I was drying off, I heard faint beeping sounds. I quickly put on a faded pink towel robe that was fastened by an unreliable Velcro panel, and opened up my bedroom door. Now the noise was growing louder, and I ran into the hallway to turn off the alarm. Then I frantically flew down the stairs to get the phone number of the alarm company. I was so relieved to have reached them in time. Now I needed to head back upstairs to get dressed. 

After I put one sock on, the siren sounded off again. I quickly fled down the stairs, to look up the access code. Then I remembered that the handyman's assistant was working nearby in the first floor bathroom. He pretended not to see me, but I know he also caught  a glimpse of my towel robe, gently brushing up against my single tube sock. Meanwhile, the head handyman was trying to clean all of the dust out of the smoke detector, as I was coming up the stairs. Once it was put back together, my Groundhog Morning started up again.

Before the fire department graced our doorstep again, I held on tightly to my repulsive robe, and pleaded with one of the handymen to  go outside and apologize for wasting their valuable time. Then I finally convinced the alarm service to temporarily disarm the system. They told me that this whole incident could have been prevented, if the painter had covered the smoke detector with a plastic bag. I'm sure this ordeal made both handymen welcome their wives with a passionate embrace.

That evening my oldest son came home from school, and actually noticed that his bathroom had been painted. He liked the bold color of the accent wall that will serve as a constant reminder. It's just a shade deeper; a spicier version of fire truck red.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Whirlwind of Emotions From A to Z

                                                                                                  Julie Kemp Pick

It all began when Rhonda from Laugh Quotes sent me an email about the A to Z  Blogging Challenge. The timing was perfect, as I was approaching a milestone birthday, and this was a welcome diversion.

As a new blogger who first started writing in January, I thought this would be an excellent exercise in blogging boot camp. I'm always encouraging my kids to try new things, and felt that this was the perfect opportunity for me to lead by example. 

Shortly after I signed up, Arlee Bird introduced himself,  and two other participants quickly followed. I had 3  new followers, before the challenge even began, without begging and pleading!  

The night before the A to Z kickoff, I decided to post my first story around midnight. The next day, I woke up to encouraging comments while gaining new followers! I returned the favors, and searched through new blogs with the handy A to Z buttons. Some of my viewers were quick to rush off, while others generously returned. I looked forward to daily visits from my small, but mighty group of faithful followers.

It was like taking a trip around the world with all of the comforts of home. I laughed, cried, and was often humbled by reading the plights that so many of the bloggers went through.  I was expecting the claws to come out, and that the competition would really heat up. Contrary, it wasn't a competition, it was a challenge as the name suggested; a friendly challenge from within, instead of pitting us against each other.

 I want to thank  all of the hosts for organizing this extraordinary event.  I'm especially grateful to Arlee Bird at Tossing it Out and Talli Rolland. Arlee has the amazing gift of drawing you in, pulling you close, and making you feel like you're part of a private conversation; amidst addressing an audience of more than 1000 people. Throughout the challenge, Talli Rolland always made an effort to drop by with  encouraging remarks. In the midst of  temporarily losing her blog, she still kept up the morale without missing a beat.

I'm still reeling from this adventure, that has brought in more than 50 new followers, as well as, insightful tips from all of the hosts. I'm so proud to be  part of such a warm and engaging community. My hope is that we'll continue to knock on each other's doors, and be invited to come in and stay awhile.   

A to Z Blogging Challenge