Monthly Archives: January 2011

Driving Me Crazy

As every soccer mom worth her kids’ cleats knows, parenthood is:
  • 20% cooking/cleaning/laundry, etc.
  • 10% nagging
  • 20% teaching valuable lessons, like “Don’t roll your eyes at me or they’ll stay that way forever”
  • 50% driving kids all over God’s green creation to every practice, game, rehearsal, recital, playdate, birthday party (usually they arrive in two’s or three’s on the same weekend), club meeting, competition, performance, open house, dance, or ceremony.

With three daughters in different sports, activities, even schools, I keep the big oil companies well in the black while keeping my soccer mom-necessary SUV full of the black stuff. I easily log 250+ miles a week out on those mean city streets. And in doing so, I’ve gained some important insights not only in driving, but in basic human nature as well. These insights can be summed up in three simple words:


With my teenage daughter a mere two months away from driving lessons, I think it’s important to pass along this valuable rule. I even skimmed through a book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (And What it Says About Us), by Tom Vanderbilt, trying to determine if my daily driving frustrations are isolated to me. Ha! Vanderbilt helped me realize that:


Notice the exclamation point! It’s as if everyone has been reading this:

So, in order to assist all parents of soon-to-be-drivers out there, as well as the rest of you just trying to get to work and back each day, I’ve compiled the following road signs which the BMV should consider posting ASAP:



Your kissing my bumper will not make me drive any faster!


Five cars cannot zip through the yellow light before it turns red!

Pick a lane and please, just stay there!


Your cool factor does not increase with your bass line!


If it's dark, foggy or rainy, I can't see you without your headlights, Moron!


If you zip past a mile of barely-crawling cars and expect to be let in at the last minute, forget it!

So the next time you’re out there behind the wheel, remember it’s not you that you have to worry so much about, it’s all the OTHER drivers who will be driving you crazy!

Keep your cool and your sense of humor about you and you’ll soon be arriving at your child’s third birthday party in a day with seconds to spare and your sanity intact (don’t roll your eyes at me, they may stick that way!).


Favorite: Bill Bryson’s At Home

As most of you know, I am a voracious reader. I can read one or two books in a week if my schedule permits (or if I stay up too late because I simply must know how the chapter ends…and then how the next begins, etc.). In fact, most people think I have special attachments, in addition to fingers and thumbs, on my hands just for holding up books (closer and closer, as the years go by) to be read in any situation, and are amazed when they discover it is not true.

So perhaps no one was surprised more than I when I spent my last SIX weeks reading one deceptively skinny book, suspending all library holds which I’d awaited for sometimes months! Each day I couldn’t wait to slowly, hungrily read another chapter, or section of a chapter, learning more in six weeks than I did in years of schooling (but please don’t tell Mr. Beck, my high school World History teacher).

After falling in love with his A Walk in the Woods a few years back, with its dry (though never boring), witty way of teaching while telling a story, I decided to pick up Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life. I’ve always been fascinated with how people lived in the past, especially in the Victorian Age, and how various things came about which we today take for granted. For instance, just how did women decide corsets were a good idea and why did men feel it necessary to don large white wigs and tights? Furthermore, how did people survive before indoor plumbing, mousetraps, chimneys, and over-the-counter cold medicines and who came up with such seeming necessities as bras and shampoo? Bryson, who lives in England in a Victorian parsonage, has answered these and hundreds, if not thousands, more questions you never even knew you had.

Taking a literary tour of his historic home, he delves room by room into the history of not only what usually occurs in that room today, but in how it has changed over the past 500 or more years. Each room is simply a starting point, though, for Bryson takes us on a journey of worldwide proportions, from England to America, Africa to Asia, as he explores the lives we lead today and how we got here.

In the Dining Room, we learn of the salt and other spice trades, and the sometimes reckless and hapless explorers who made the various spices into household names. In The Garden, we learn of the development of landscaping, public parks, and household lawns. In The Bathroom, we learn about the ablution habits (or most often, lack thereof) of various royalty, slum dwellers, and country folk. The Scullery and Larder brings us insight into household servants and the arduous lives they led on a daily basis.

Of course, The Study’s study of plagues and the filth and animals which cause them, is not for the weak of stomach, just as The Nursery’s look at barbaric childbirth practices is not for the faint of heart. Even The Stairs can shock with its careful dissection of not mortality from falling down stairs, but the horrible illnesses and deaths created through lead-based paints and wallpapers in the 1800’s. These, however, are all important to who we are today and so are an important, even enjoyable, part of the book.

Never fear, those of you who are not history buffs per se, this book , is not a long slog through names, dates, and details, though it is full of each of these and then some! Bryson is such a talented writer he has presented fact after fact in an easy-to-read, delightfully enjoyable format, weaving together people and places and events cleverly and carefully so that it doesn’t feel you are learning history at all, but are instead conversing with a dear friend about things which you’ve always wondered. I anxiously await Bryson’s next foray, and must console myself with my hold list at my local library for now. In the meanwhile, I recommend you pick up At Home so you can learn the importance of closing the toilet lid before flushing and how lucky we are to have corn to eat for dinner.