"God must love the common man, He made so many of them..." Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, May 28, 2009


A birthday is like a personal mugger that’s hiding right around the corner just for you. It waits patiently, approaches carefully and attacks gleefully! Quick as a wink you’re older.

When I was younger, I wanted to be older. Now that I’m older, I want to be younger. My friend and I were discussing this odd age-reversal birthday wishes phenomenon and she asked me if I’d do my teenage years over again. Heck yes, but only if I could take my middle-aged brain with me. Knowledge wrapped up in perspective is the best birthday gift of all.

What if I had my middle-aged brain with me in junior high? Oh man! In math, I would rock on those rotten story problems. If a train was traveling at 70 mph how long would it take to churn 9 quarts of cream into butter? In P.E., I would fearlessly give the stink-eye to the evil coach who had a fondness for tight short-shorts and tall socks. Hey buddy, can you rethink the wardrobe and lay off the butter? In Home Ec, I would confidently use a big knife and chiffonade faster than a culinary-trained swashbuckler. Sauté that in melted butter!

Fast forward back to high school – just imagine a middle-aged brain roaming the hallways with a middle-aged outlook. Prom is not life or death. Boyfriends are temporary. Friends are transitory. Gossip is bad. Studying is important. Mom is right. Be good. Drive carefully. Make plans. Have goals. Move away. Work hard. Save money. Spend frugally. Grow up.

So let my middle-aged birthday mugging commence! Bring on the cake and fire up the candles! Oh my, is that butter-cream frosting?

Friday, May 8, 2009


I’m notoriously cheap. Pinching pennies and stretching dollars are my modus operandi. Once in a while I go a little crazy, though. Every now and then I come across a BOGO sale. Buy One Get One – the only way to spend money. I love BOGO deals because free is a very good price. Buy one frozen pizza, get one free. Buy one flower pot, get one free. Buy one college education, get one free.

Okay, okay, college isn’t really like that – but it can be. My husband is one of those perpetual college students. We met in college when he went for the first time. The second time he went to college we had two little girls and two cats. The third time he went to college we had not-so-little girls and four cats. The fourth time he went to college we had gray hair, a herd of cats and a puppy. I shudder to think of the aging or wildlife that more college might bring. Anyway, when it’s all added up he’s been in college for 12 years, half of our 24-year marriage. We have paid a lot of money for his education and mine has been free. BOGO.

Over the course (and courses!) of all those college years, I’ve acquired a heap of knowledge through a process I call Wife Typist Osmosis or WTO. Actually it is a BOGO side-effect and this is how it happens: when the wife types assignments or papers, the wife asks questions. In response and maybe in defense, the husband shares his textbooks and lecture notes. Now the wife knows what the husband knows. It’s as simple as that. So, some of this wife’s most favorite BOGO classes have been world history, children’s literature, classroom management, and educational philosophy. The assorted “ologies” (geology, sociology, and biology) were pretty good, too. Math and more math were not favorites. Just think about it – all of this education and I’ve never had to take a quiz, pass a test, or sweat a final. BOGO WTO.

Now that the kids are in college, I have the chance to expand my educational horizons by the BOGO.2 and BOGO.3 versions. Those editions don’t come with WTO attached because the girls know how to type. However, the recently developed and stringently tested MEO, Mama Editor Osmosis, module is included!

There is a downside to BOGO WTO and BOGO MEO learning, though. The free education is undocumented. No advanced degrees decorated with curlicue flourishes. No fashionably medieval academic hood. But oddly enough, that’s okay because undocumented certainly doesn’t mean unrecognized. My typing and editing efforts are frequently rewarded with non-BOGO roomy tote bags, sparkly earrings, or sweet chocolate. Roomy, sparkly, and sweet – just like the wife/mama/typist/editor herself!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Nap Time

Sunday is indeed a day of rest – especially because of the afternoon nap. Those few hours between the end of worship and the start of the workweek are a precious time of rest and renewal. I just don’t get hours like that during the other six days of the week.

Life sure is busy. Pull out anyone’s calendar and you’ll see it’s full – appointments of wondrous variety, lists of infinite variety, and activities of dizzying variety. How does it all get done and get done well? You put your shoulder to the wheel and push along. Heigh-ho, heigh-ho! It's off to work we go!

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday are crammed with shouldering, pushing, and working. Finally Sunday arrives. How nice it is to wake up without a to-do list. How nice it is to wake up looking forward to a nap.

After my nap, I feel like I could conquer the world! I wish I could feel this good every day of the week. It’s almost a shame to waste such energy on a day of rest. Do you think there’s a way to save it for later? Energy storage like food storage? Just imagine…The calendar has promised a truly hectic day, so you just go get a little extra scoop of energy from storage and voila! The house is painted, the marathon is run, the bread is baked, and, and, and…

On second thought, all that energy might kill me. I’ll stick with Sunday afternoon naps just the way they are.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


I’ve always considered myself a writer – an unknown, undiscovered, writer. I can’t say unpublished though, but copywriting educational materials just won’t get you onto the Oprah show. Whether it’s for work or pleasure, I’m always writing. When blogging came along, I realized that I had a new outlet for all of the things that swirl through my head and emerge on paper. So I’m still unknown and undiscovered, but at least I’m on the ‘net!

My mom was very artistic in color and word. I thought I knew her as well as any daughter could know a mother. When Mom passed away, I inherited a box full of her daily journals. It wasn’t until I read them that I realized how much I didn’t know her. I didn’t know she had feelings, impressions, dreams, goals, or trials. Her journals, full of her perfect artsy penmanship, told the story of her life and it was a story I hadn’t heard before. To me, she was just Mom, the organizer and driver of the family. She was a complex, thoughtful, kind, sarcastic, and occasionally angry woman. But, Mom was a wonderful woman and I didn’t know how wonderful until it was too late.

The blog bug bit the first time last year and I’ll be darned if it didn’t bite harder the second time. I started blogging about my school board experiences in an effort to be more open with the public. You know how the public trusts elected officials! Anyway, I realized there were so many more things I wanted to blog about, but the topics just didn’t fit on the board blog. I started a second (personal) blog, but now the two are combined into one because my board seat will soon have another seat sitting in it. I decided not to run for another term. Not because of any one reason, it’s just time for someone else to take a turn.

Considering the experience I had with Mom’s journals, I decided I want my kids, my family, and my friends to know me now, not after my funeral. So please enjoy The Common Mann. Comments are always welcome and candy is most appreciated!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Such a Slacker...

I know, I know. I’m such a slacker. Honestly, my blogging intentions are good but I just can’t seem to find the time lately. Part of the problem is that I have short-timers syndrome what with Election Day right around the corner. Soon my school board seat will have another seat in it. Another part of the problem is that I have budget blues. But in this day and in this economy, who doesn’t? Another part of the problem is that my husband is taking Master's classes. When Pa takes classes, Ma loses her free time.

My mom and my grandma were teachers. Mom taught first-graders because she loved the experience of teaching them to read. Even years later, long after she’d officially left the classroom, she would talk about how wonderful those moments had been. Grandma, on the other hand, liked teaching older kids and spent her days teaching middle school English and running the high school library. Between their combined efforts, I can read and I can diagram sentences!

My mother-in-law and my husband are teachers. Mom recently retired after a long kindergarten career. How she managed I’ll never know. Two classes of kindies mean double the students, double the work, and double the show ‘n tell. She’s certainly earned her stars ‘n bars and a retirement check. Rick, on the other hand, is just starting his teaching career after spending the last 20 years in another industry. He’s subbed all over the place and has now realized how tough you actually have to be to teach kindergarten! With the way district budgets are looking, he’ll probably have to sub for another year or two before getting a for-real classroom job.

I’m so thankful to have been part of the public school system as a student, as a room-mother, as a fun-run helper, as a cookie lady, as a field trip chaperone, as a sports fan, as a band patron, and as a board member. When I ran for the board four years ago, I didn’t have any personal agenda or vendetta. I just wanted to be part of a system that has done so much for my family and I felt the need to pay it back and pay it forward. Serving the community has been an extraordinarily satisfying and rewarding experience. Thank you for giving me the opportunity.