Best of My 2013 Facebook Status Updates

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And when I came downstairs this morning (after a second night of being up half the night with a sick child), THIS is what I saw when I turned on the light.

December 31 – the last day of the year. Time to take a few moments to reflect on the highlights of 2013.  Some technologically forced reflections have been available for weeks to help with this task.  This, for example, appeared on my Facebook timeline:

2013

Jennifer Prestholdt

A look at your 20 biggest moments on Facebook.

Learn more.
Share Your Year.

Frankly, it looked suspiciously like 2012, but with more directives and a slightly larger font (and now in United Nations baby blue, I might add).

Year in Review
Jennifer Prestholdt
A look at your 20 biggest moments from the year including life events, highlighted posts and your popular stories.

But this Year in Review app most certainly does not accurately reflect  my “20 biggest moments from the year”.   Some of the pictures were not even from 2013!  So, in what has become an annual tradition, I’m taking charge of my Year in Review and creating my own”Best of My Facebook Status Updates”of some of the funniest moments for me in 2013.  (And if you like this post, you can also check out Best of My 2012 Facebook Status Updates and Best of My 2011 Status Updates.)

Best of My 2013 Facebook Status Updates

#25      The fifth graders are studying puberty, so the dinner conversation was interesting. It was a spectacularly unfortunate coincidence that we grilled tonight – and tubular meat products were on the menu.

#24      Some families set a place for Elijah. Our family apparently sets a place for Trouble.

Photo: Some families set a place for Elijah. Our family apparently sets a place for Trouble.

#23:

Eliza (age 8):  “Are you drinking barf?”
Me: “Yes. I threw up in the smoothie machine and added a banana. Now I’m drinking it.”
(Pause)
Eliza: “Is this called ‘sarcasm’?”

#22  I’m helping my 7th grader study for his Tom Sawyer test. So I showed him the classic Rush video. To which he responded, “Mom, this is not really helping.”

#21       In 5 minutes, I have to give a lecture on international human rights mechanisms to a class at the U of Iowa Law School. Unfortunately, I just figured out that since it is via Skype, they will all see how messy my office is. Gotta go stuff some documents in the closet and sweep some files under the rug…

#20     “When in doubt, add cheese.” This is the kind of advice I give to my daughter.

#19     Positive things about below zero weather: I stuck the tragically unchilled bottle of wine outside for 5 minutes. Now it is cold (and DE-licious!)

#18

Mom, when I grow up – if I’m a teacher – on the first day of school I’ll pull down a map of Europe and say “I see London. I see France.”And I’ll be wearing, like, really bright pink boxers or something and I’ll have my jeans low.

So then I’ll turn my back to the class and pull down another map and say, “Class, what else do you see?” And the kids that raise their hands and say, “Mr. ___, I see your…”

Well, that’s how I’ll know who the troublemakers are.

#17     Note to self:  Be careful doing laundry this week.  Very, VERY careful!

34 snakes
There were 2 pockets. Each pocket held 17 snakes. How many snakes in all?

#16    My flight out of Delhi was cancelled, so I was re-routed through Paris. Perhaps the only major airport in the world that smells of fresh-baked croissants at 6 am in the morning!

#15

“Simon, turn off the TV.”

“I can’t, Mom! Everything I need to know about life is on Dr. Who!”

#14     Home! And, as always when I return from the developing world, I am feeling so thankful for clean air, hot water, high-speed internet, urban planning and traffic control – and a democratic system of government that is not perfect, but which functions smoothly and provides us with services without corruption. Perspective is a valuable thing.

#13     Lady behind me at the grocery store:  “Girl!  You’ve either got a big family or you’re done shopping for 2013!

#12      First week back at school update:

Eliza (grade 3):  “What’s the difference between fiction and non-fiction again?”

Simon (grade 6): “Non-fiction is real. Like Facebook.”

Eliza: “So what is fiction?”

Simon: “It’s fantasy, it’s not real. Like Facebook.”

#11   The Polly Pockets were willing to sacrifice their heads for the opportunity to skydive off our back balcony.

Photo: The Polly Pockets were willing to sacrifice their heads for the opportunity to skydive off our back balcony.

#10

“Mom, do you have a name for our toilet?”
“No.” (pause) “But something tells me you might.”
“Yeah. Our toilet is named Bob.”

#9     (The next day)   I have been informed that the gender of our upstairs toilet “Bob” has been reassigned. Depending on who you ask, she is now either “Tina” or “Betsy”.

#8     Well, at the request of one of my sons, I bought ramen noodles for the first time in 25 years. Still the same price – 29 cents. The way I figure, it’s never too early to prepare them for college.

#7

 Eliza: “Hannah says that when I grow up, I should be a doctor.”
Me: “I concur.”
Eliza: “An American Girl doctor.”
Me: “I retract my previous statement.”

#6     Still life with retainer.

Photo: Still life with retainer.

#5     I could have done without these 6th grade boys and their dinner discussion. All you need to know about it is that their creation myth involves the planet “Poopiter” and explains why there is so much cosmic gas in the universe.

#4     I made the mistake of taking my 11-year-old son with me when I was shopping for bras. With having to yell so many times, “Don’t touch that!” and “Stop squishing it!”, I ended up accidentally buying a nursing bra.

#3     I sent my 13yo son to camp with two pairs of shoes.   Somehow, he managed to come home with just one.   One shoe, that is.

#2     I very much appreciated that the employees stocking shelves at the downtown Target let me participate in their “Churchill-off”. I only made it two rounds (they were still going when I went to check out) but I got to use the only two Churchill quotes that I can ever manage to remember:

        1. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

        2. Lady Astor: “Sir, if you were my husband, I would give you poison.”

            Churchill: “If I were your husband, I would take it.”

#1      It’s just not a holiday in our family until someone gets a pie in the face.

Photo: It's just not a holiday in our family until someone gets a pie in the face.

Thanks for reading The Human Rights Warrior!  See you in 2014!

Happy New Year from Sullivan's Island, South Carolina!
Happy New Year from Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina!
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Chronicles of a Bike Commuter

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I’ve been a bike commuter on and off for twenty years.   But it wasn’t until I began posting about it on Facebook recently that I began to realize that maybe biking is more for me than just transportation to and from work.  I know that bike commuting impacts my daily  life (I’m definitely grumpier when I have to drive), but is it possible that the simple act of riding a bike has also influenced me in other ways?

I started bike commuting back when I was in graduate school in the Boston area, motivated partly by the fact that I had no money and partly because driving, parking and everything associated with cars is a PAIN in that city.  I biked to law school a lot, but I took a break during the long years of managing babies and daycare pick-up for young children.  Although I don’t consider myself a serious cyclist, I have returned to steady bike commuting now that my children are older.

I have to admit that, living in Minneapolis – America’s most bike-friendly city,  I have it easy as a bike commuter.  It is only a 4 mile commute to my office downtown, with most of the ride in a dedicated bike lane (thanks to the 2008 economic stimulus package for cities).  We even have a shower in our office building.  While I don’t ride in the ice and snow of the Minnesota winters, I do bike commute almost every day from late March until early December.

Everybody knows that there are obvious benefits to bike commuting.   Riding your bike to work increases your physical activity,  thus helping you drop pounds, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, improves your mental health, etc etc.    There is an environmental benefit as well in terms of reduced emissions.  While I can’t do anything about my carbon footprint when I travel internationally, I can do this one small thing when I am at home.  And, of course, there are economic benefits:

October 10, 2012:  The financials are in! By bike commuting for 5 months, I saved more than $700 in gas and parking. (There’s probably a way to calculate the calories burned, too but that’s too complicated for me.)

Upon reviewing and reflecting upon my Facebook posts, however, I think I can identify some other benefits of bike commuting that are a little more intangible.

I have learned to be a little more organized.  Bike commuting  require some planning.    I have a stash of work clothes in my office and a collection of shoes under my desk.  Shopping when you have to transport things in your bike panniers really forces  you to plan ahead. Many a time, I have felt like a Parisian, peddling home with a baguette in my bike pannier.  Other times I have kind of pushed the limits…

July 17, 2012: I’m getting to be an expert bike commuter. Tonight I rode home with two bottles of wine and a litterbox in my pannier.

I definitely notice a lot more about the world around me. I think it may be the combination of the need to watch out for cars and the time to reflect, but I have become a bike seat philosopher.

April 29, 2013: I saw some interesting things on the bike ride home from work tonight: old guy strolling cheerfully down the street in his boxers and fedora; lady going for a walk with her cat in a Baby Bjorn; guy singing at the top of his lungs while driving a black Cadillac convertible, MN license ISLAM4U; guy tossing hot sopapillas out of his apartment window to delighted passers-by on the sidewalk below; lady biking with her little-dog-Toto (whatever breed that is) in a Camelbak; and a lady in a motorized wheelchair racing a lady pushing a baby in a pram, both laughing hysterically.

I guess spring brings out the crazy in all of us!

October 15, 2013:  I’ve noticed that people in convertibles smile a lot more than people driving regular cars.

I feel more connected to my community.  You interact with people much more when you are on a bike than when you are in a car.

October 2, 2013:  On this gorgeous fall morning, the cop directing traffic near the Convention Center called out to me as I passed him, “Have a good ride, miss!”

October 3, 2013:   I am chronically late, always rushing to get to the place I was supposed to be 5 minutes ago. So I had to laugh at the guy who called out to me as I passed him on his bike, “Slow down there, girlie! You’re gonna get yourself a speeding ticket!”

There are certain characters along my bike route that have become familiar to me.  People that I once would have zipped by without noticing are now friendly faces.  There’s a tall homeless guy who wears a gray polarfleece jacket regardless of the weather.  I pass him walking near the Convention Center most mornings and he shouts a hello.  I can tell by his accent that he is from West Africa.  There’s a kid who goes to Whittier Elementary who I have ridden with several times for half a mile or so on his way to school.  He’s saving up to buy a day-pass to Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America.   There is an elderly Somali gentlemen who raises a hand to salute me every afternoon near the Horn Towers.  And then there is Gandalf in Boxer Shorts, a grizzled old guy with a long flowing beard who generally strolls down Blaisdell Avenue wearing nothing but boxer shorts and dress shoes.

May 23, 2013:  I spotted Gandalf in Boxer Shorts again on the bike commute home. Then, one block later, a new character – Smeagol, Tan and Extremely Cheerful!

Is it possible that bike commuting has made me into a more compassionate human being?

October 1, 2013:   This morning, I stopped and helped a kid who took a wrong turn and got lost while biking to school. So I was in Good Samaritan mode, see. On the ride home, I stopped to help an old man lying face down on the sidewalk. Imagine my surprise when it turned out he was just taking a little rest between sets of push-ups.

Nope, I guess not.

October 11, 2013: If I were a”Spiritual Healer” (which admittedly, I am not), I do not think I would choose to solicit customers by standing in front of the White Castle on Lake Street and darting out to the the bike lane when the light is red. Also, I would be a little less judgmental when the bikers refuse to take my “Spiritual Healer” card.  And I would definitely not say to them,  “Ohhh-kaaaay. Your loss!”

Of course, bike commuting is not all smiles and sunshine.

October 3, 2013:  On this misty morning, the whole city smells like wet dog.

October 7, 2013:  This morning, I rode over a banana peel in the road and almost fell off my bike. Much funnier in the cartoons than in real life.

October 8, 2013:  Strong winds on the ride home tonight. Once or twice, I was standing up and peddling as hard as I could but literally going nowhere. I felt like I was in the cyclone scene from the Wizard of Oz. (Cue the Wicked Witch of the West theme song!)

 

October 10, 2013: I was biking home from a lovely event on a perfect fall evening under a canopy of majestic elms, gloriously ablaze with color …   when a bird pooped on my shoulder.

 Stay tuned!  More Chronicles of a Bike Commuter to come!

October: Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota
October: Lake Harriet, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Best of My Facebook Status Updates 2012

Cinderella sure has an interesting way of drying her gowns.
Cinderella sure has an interesting way of drying her gowns.

It’s that time of year again.  That special time of year, when the treetops glisten … and children listen … and the”Best of ” lists come rolling out. You won’t find me in the Rolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2012 or The New Yorker’s Best Books of 2012 (numbering 28, down from 37 last year).  I am not one of  the E! Top 10 Stylish Stars of the Year (thankfully, though, I am NOT on either E!’s list of Top 10 Wardrobe Malfunctions OR their list of Top 10 Mug Shots).  My name cannot be found on ANY of the many 2012 Forbes Rich Lists – not even Richest Pastors in Nigeria.   Unlike Honey Boo Boo Child, I am not one of Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People of 2012.  Gawker’s 10 Least Fascinating People of 2012 list isn’t out yet, so I may still have a shot at that. Salon’s 2012 Hack List? Nope.  The Best 140 Twitter Feeds of 2012?  Sadly, no.   And I just learned that President Barack Obama beat me out for Time’s 2012 Person of the Year.

Last week, this appeared on my Facebook timeline:

Year in Review
Jennifer Prestholdt
A look at your 20 biggest moments from the year including life events,
highlighted posts and your popular stories.

So, I checked it out.  How could I resist my life events, highlighted posts and popular stories?  But  my 2012 Year in Review was an utter and complete disaster!  I don’t know what kind of random generators are at work here, but this app most certainly does not capture my “20 biggest moments from the year”.   Some of the pictures were not even from 2012!  In short, Facebook Year in Review app is like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas: “The three words that describe you are as follows, and I quote: ‘STINK. STANK. STUNK.'”

These days there is precisely one thing in my life that is entirely within my control and that is my Facebook status update. So I’m taking charge of my Year in Review and creating my own”Best of My 2012 Facebook Status Updates”!

Best of My 2012 Facebook Status Updates

# 25   This sugar is not just pure.  It’s DHAM pure!

dahm pure

#24     Me (to my 10 year-old): “Simon, turn off the TV. Your screen time is done.”
Simon: “It doesn’t count as screen time if it is football or Barack Obama.”
Well played, son. Well played!

#23  Some people have Elf on the Shelf. I have cat barf on the Playmobil nativity scene.

#22  To the gentleman crossing against the light while reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I say, “Have you any idea how much damage that bulldozer would suffer if I just let it roll straight over you?”

‎#21  Chickie (my 7 year-old daughter): “Mom, do you know why we light candles at this time of year? It’s to keep the trolls out of the house. It’s true. It says so in the Bible.”

#20 I did not realize that I even had a granddaughter, much less such a thoughtful one!

happy anaverse

#19     As I was jaunting around this morning with my bike helmet pushed back and dangling down my back like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s sunbonnet, it suddenly struck me that perhaps I did not look as fetching as I would hope.

#18     Fortunately, I left the restaurant for another meeting BEFORE my colleagues ordered the “head chips”- at Kathmandu, Nepal.

#17     Further proof of my bad hockey mom status: Packing Simon’s gear for hockey camp, I couldn’t remember what the thing that they wear on the chest is called. So I called it a “breastplate”.  (I also called his nut cup a “codpiece”, but that was on purpose.)

#16     Note to self:

go to work

#15     Chickie: “Where is everybody?”
Me: “They went to Sev’s hockey game.”
Chickie: “WOOHOO! Girls’ night! Let’s get into our jammies and READ!!”

#14     Went to gym. Worked out. Took shower. Realized I had forgotten to bring a towel. Dried off with my sock. Keep calm and carry on!

#13     Bonnie Tyler, reincarnated as a 10 year old boy. Turn around, bright eyes!

#12     These are the kinds of conversations that go on in my head:

Me: Why did I buy this Empire-waisted dress? I look terrible in this style?
Myself: It was only 7 dollars.
I: Ooooo! Excellent bargain shopping

#11       I keep reading the UN Millennium Development Goals – MDG – as – MGD – Miller Genuine Draft. It must be Friday!

#10     To flush or not to flush.  That is the question.

flush

#9     I waited a couple of decades and read the book again. Same conclusion. Mr. Rochester is an a-hole. Run, Jane Eyre, RUN!

#8     Overheard Chickie giving a friend a tour of our house: “This is mom’s closet. Or as I call it, My Shoe Store.”

#7     Future God’s Gift to Women: “Girls don’t like AXE, they like Old Spice. Wait, no. AXE was invented by women because they like the smell. I need some AXE. Girls like AXE.”

#6     Last day of summer vacation.
         “What’s left on the school supply list, Chickie?”
         “We’ve got everything but The Lorax wipes.”

#5     My rule:  You forget your lunch box at school and you get the Lunch Box of Shame the next day.

lunch box of shame

#4     7:10 am and I’ve already had to answer the questions “Is this a scalene triangle” and “Can you make me an omelette?”

#3     My Mother’s Day present:  The Napoleon Dynamite Dance!

#2     Chickie: “Mommy, what is a Miley Cyrus?”
          Me: “It’s a person.”
          Chickie: “Really? I thought it was a body part. One of the private ones.”

#1     I found this in my grandma’s apartment today. Also found out that she had voted absentee before she died. I don’t know if it still counts, but I’m proud that, at 98, she made sure to vote. And that she voted No on both state constitutional amendments (one that would have limited the right of same-sex couples to marry and one that would have limited the right to vote). Go Edna!

obama family

This post is in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: Wrap It Up!  Check out other original “Year In Review” posts by following the link.

Best of My 2011 Status Updates

“Why yes, I do know both Wallace AND Gromit. Why do you ask?”

It’s that time of year again, when the “Best of” lists are rolling out. Sadly, I am not Time’s 2011 Person of the Year. You won’t find me in the NFL’s Top 100 PlayersRolling Stone’s 50 Best Albums of 2011,The New Yorker’s Favorite Books from 2011 (numbering 37),  iTunes’  Top 25 Songs of 2011,  E! Top 10 Stylish Stars of the Year,  or Forbe’s 5 Top Retail Success Stories of 2011.  I am not (thankfully, given The Kompany) on either Barbara Walters’ 10 Most Fascinating People of 2011 list or Gawker’s 10 Least Fascinating People of 2011 list. Salon’s 2011 Hack List? Nope.  I didn’t even make Babble’s Top 100 Mom Blogs, which has me and the other estimated 3,999,900 mom bloggers feeling just a smidge left out.

So, in the spirit of the “Best of 2011” season, I decided to put together my very own top 25 list.  The only problem is that these days there is precisely one thing in my life that is entirely within my control – my Facebook status updates.  Welcome to “Best of My 2011 Status Updates”!  I’m posting it now before Facebook – through random-number generator or Mark Zuckerberg’s pet rats in a Skinner box or whatever means they use to decide these things – tells me what my Best 2011 Status Updates are and then posts them in my friends’ News Feed. (Which I predict will happen on Monday, December 26 at 9:36 am EST.)

Best of My 2011 Status Upates

#25 It just seems like you shouldn’t have to start your day with the sentence, “Hey! Don’t pee on your sister!”

#24 It’s snowing. Both the front and the back doors are open. The refrigerator door, too. Come on! Work with me, people!

#23 I was looking for a wineglass but I found Darth Vader in HEAVEN!

darth

#22 “Don’t throw up on the iPad!” And how is YOUR Friday night going?

#21 ‎”If you’re going to get out of bed, for God’s sake bring the throw up bowl with you!” And how is YOUR morning going?

#20 Taco Tuesday for those family members who did not throw up today. Everyone else gets pablum.

#19  ‎”Can you make us turkey waffles?” Happy Thanksgiving!

waffle

#18  Most of the time, I think I’m just a normal mom. And then I do things like yell, “You boys stop fighting or I’m going to get Nonviolent Peaceforce up in here!!!” Which makes me think I’m not so normal.

#17  A day that starts with threatening your sons with international non-governmental organizations could really only end with teaching your daughter the difference between flipping the bird and the Vulcan “Live long and prosper” sign.

#16  No Comment.

no comment

#15  Is it wrong that my first reaction to the Demi/Ashton split is, “Oh no! What will happen to their foundation that works to eliminate sex slavery?”

#14  Burnt the toast. Threw it out the door. Squirrel caught it and scampered away.

#13 I’m thankful for my (ZOMBIE!!!) family and friends.

zombie

#12  “No, honey, they are poppy seed muffins. Not hockey seed muffins.”

#11  Today is “World Toilet Day.” That is all.

#10  Better to be a friend hole than that other kind of hole.

friend hole

#9  Had a brief, friendly chat with my boyz about what to do if a coach wants to bear hug you in the shower.

#8  Accidentally made a reservation for brunch tomorrow at a restaurant in Australia. Stupid World Wide Web!

#7  Apparently my “mom” pheromones are so strong that random German AND Greek children fall asleep on me on transatlantic flights.

#6  That’s right, sweetie. It’s a “coffee blender”, not a “margarita maker”.

COFFEE BLENDER

#5  Now is as good a time as any to introduce the small fry to Spinal Tap.

#4  Sometimes, it is best just to remain silent. For example, when your 9 year old son says, “Mom, you are a brick house!”

#3  Daughter: “Can I get a Barack Obama Barbie for Christmas?”

Me: “Ummmm…I need to focus on making dinner right now.”

Daughter: “So, is that a YES?”

#2  My Friday night involved a 4th grader, a saxaphone, some sheet music, and two Youtube videos of Boil Them Cabbage Down.

 

#1. 9 yo son (critiquing little sister on the way she is carrying her babydoll):  “You’re never gonna make a good mom.”

6 yo daughter:  “Your shirt is on backwards.”

Oops!  My Top 25 list is all filled up and I only got as far back as October in my Facebook “Older Posts”!  Wait a minute – this is how these these “Best of” lists actually work, isn’t it?  They are really just the  highlights from the last quarter with maybe one or two standouts thrown in from earlier in the year?

Once Again, No Comment

wiggles

Postscript:  You may be wondering what any of this has to do with human rights.  It doesn’t really.  But I have learned from working in human rights the importance of humor as a coping mechanism for dealing with the tough things in life.   I’ve done a couple of posts on this already:  You Really Can’t Make This Stuff Up – Part I  and You Really Can’t Make This Stuff Up – Part II.  I consider this post to be You Really Can’t Make This Stuff Up – Part III.