Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It Came Without Ribbons... It Came Without Tags... But was it any good?

One of the reasons I brought back this blog is because I didn't make it through Christmas without it.

This was a tough Christmas for many reasons. It's actually the second Christmas since Steve and I split up, so although that's still hard emotionally and scheduling-wise, we did have last year to fall back on. But this was my first holiday as a working mother, and that, THAT, made things very difficult.

It's not like my workplace didn't recognize the season. It did, actually, far before I was ready for it. There were a number of organized gift buying efforts for needy families and needy children. There were gift swaps and holiday parties and everyone gave everyone else small token gifts...

But I wasn't buying it.

I wasn't feeling it.

I was struggling to find time to buy a tree, put up the tree, decorate the tree. I ordered holiday cards and accidentally ordered only one. I didn't know what to get anyone. Including my own children.

And I wasn't blogging.

When people asked me what the kids wanted I threw together an email and forwarded that email to a number of people. Over the years I'd developed a system over this blog where I could add to the list and delete anything I knew was purchased. That helped keep duplicates at bay...

People told me what they were getting the boys, but I was either confirming that the boys had asked for those gifts, or not hearing anything at all because all I could think about was the fact that I had decided to make 30billion cookies as gifts for everyone in the world this year...

And some people told me what they had already gotten the boys. And sometimes I already knew those were duplicates. But I wasn't entirely sure what to do about that. Do I tell the gift giver that those gifts need to be returned and something new purchased for my precious baby boys? Do I go back out myself and buy new things, even though I could barely scrape up enough time to go shopping the first time? Neither seemed like good choices, and so I let it go, reasoning that some of these items were useful to have plenty of. That the boys have two homes now so they could keep toys in two places. That we could keep things quiet and not hurt any feelings.

I also didn't have a lot of time to spend at home. One day was all I had, between work and the boys' play rehearsal. Some people thought I was crazy for attempting to make the drive home for one day, but I felt like I was failing at so many other things that I didn't want to give it up. I was trying to do everything, to see everyone...

Well, I tried not to let anyone feel slighted. I tried to keep things casual and light and non-stressful because I already had stress thickly bleeding out of my ears, but not everyone can take these things with a grain of salt. So not only did I fail in the holiday card department, the decorating department, the time-spent department, and the gift giving department, I seemed to have failed in the joy-of-the-season department and I humbly apologize to those people (everyone)  I inconvenienced and / or hurt with my lack of communication. It was a rehearsal. I'll do better next year, for the real performance.

It's just that I wasn't feeling Christmas this year. Even now, after all the gifts have been opened and the dry pine needles are raining off the branches of our tree, I feel as though I skipped it. I missed it. I never caught that Holiday Spark.

Maybe for a few moments. At church. During the Christmas Eve service when we were all singing carols in the dark, candles lit, and the director stopped playing the organ... it was just our voices in the vast old space, warm with bodies close to bodies, and a certain kind of hope and belief in new things.

Next year, things will be different.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Old Friends

So... I let this blog go by the wayside.

I didn't mean to. It wasn't an intentional thing... at first. It's just that it was getting harder and harder to write things down. I was stretching more and more to find interesting things to say. The blog... this blog... it knew everything about me already, and I'd run out of interesting things to say.

I've had a number of close friends in my life, and most of them, many of them from my 20's, I imagines I would have as close friends for the rest of my life. I imagined living in the same town, raising our children together. If one of us needed time off for a date night, or shopping, we'd simply pick up the phone. In an emergency, we could drive each other's children to and from school. Our kids would play together in our backyards. We would spend long, lazy summer nights chatting while the kids splashed in the sprinkler. I know, it sounds insane, but I honestly believed this would happen.

It's not that I ever changed my mind about that. I still love these people. I haven't hung out with many of them recently, but I like to think that, if I did, I would still love them. We would still laugh together and be kind to one another. 

One day, we just spoke to each other a little less. One day we spent a little less time thinking about each other. We started turning down invitations so that we could do other things... and then one day we forgot to invite the other person at all... Or maybe one of us got very busy and simply filled her life with other things...

You think about calling, maybe, but as the days go by it just gets more and more awkward until finally you realize that, if you did call, you probably wouldn't have anything to talk about. You need a reason to pick up the phone. And unfortunately, you don't have one.

And then suddenly you find out one of your friends has had another child and you hadn't realized it. Or you go to send holiday cards and you realize you don't know your friend's address... Maybe you try to think back to the last time you spoke and you realize it's been years. Years. 

Can you still call someone a good friend if you haven't spoken to them in years? 

I sort of have feelings like that about this blog. I used to write every day. Every single day. For years.

And then... well.. I stopped writing. I stopped knowing what to say. 

That's when I actually made the choice to stop writing.

I'm taking it back.

I'm not done writing. I miss it. I have things I would like to say.

I like to think this says something about me. I like to think it means I won't stop thinking of my old friends as good friends, and that, eventually, I can be better and call them up and spend some real time with them. It takes a little time and a little effort and, if you're me, it may take a little planning, but it's worth it.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Like Cooking, but with Kids!

There are a ridiculous number of people in the world who believe that children should help in with the cooking.

Seriously, I remember being a kid and making Christmas cookies with my mom. I remember it well because there was this really odd shape of cookie cutter and I had no idea what it was, kind of a lumpy thing, and I liked using it to cut shapes out of the dough, and then I would eat the dough. My mother flipped out a bit, then chased us all from the kitchen so she could actually put some cookies in the oven, and so we would die from eating raw eggs. (by the way, the cookie cutter was a camel. I never understood what a camel had to do with Christmas, but that's because I was a heathen and camels didn't pull the sleigh.)

I've tried to get my kids interested in cooking. The books say you can... the many many cookbooks for children, most with large sections that say "GET MOMMY TO HELP YOU CUT THE CARROTS!" Made for children who are dumb enough to eat radishes just because they are peeled and placed on a plate in the shape of someone's hair. My kids are too smart for that, people. Put fruit on a pancake and guess what? It's still fruit. Only now it's ruined the pancake.

Anyway, I have my moments where I try to let the kids help. "You can get a four year old to tear the lettuce!" it says, larger-than-life smile implied in the tone of the font.

So a couple of years ago, in some strange moment of weakness, I purchased a monster cook book. It has things like mummy meatloaf and potato skins disguised as yeti claws. But it also has a few gross desserts. I let the boys each pick an item to make. Andy chose something called "Trifle With Death."

Before pouring in the lime jello, the vanilla pudding, or the marshmallows, the first step is to tear up a sponge cake. I figured if I four year old could tear lettuce, my three kids could tear up a sponge cake.

"Is this piece big enough?" Nick asked, holding up a crumb the size of a raisin.
"It says one inch pieces," I said.
blank looks.
"A little bigger, like this," I said, holding up a piece about the size of a large grape.
"Is this big enough?" Nick asked, holding up a crumb the size of a raisin.
"No," I said.
"Like this? Like this? IS this good?" as all three boys needed me to approve every single pinched morsel of squashed sponge cake that went into the dish.

It was slightly insane.

The boys ate half the marshmallows. They were really impressed with the jello. And the pudding, which was stirred for about three seconds before the boys gave up.

The concoction is now in the fridge until tomorrow, when we get to sprinkle the top with crushed oreos and gummy worms. And gummy eyeballs, if we can find them before then. I'm afraid, and already feeling slightly ill.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Dark

Maybe it's because it's been raining the last couple of days, but it's been dark.

Yes, overcast and rainy, but not just that.

When my alarm goes off in the morning, it looks like the middle of the night. It's still dark out.

When I leave work, before 5pm, the sky is already darker, the sun already going down.

Day are shorter.

Nights are longer.

I'm just commenting: It's hard to get out of bed. Harder. Than before.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

How To See Your Doctor

The other day I had an issue come up. A medical issue. A "lady" issue. Something of a sensitive nature. And without going into details, I decided that I should probably make an appointment to see my OB/GYN.

So Friday morning I picked up the phone and called. This wasn't an easy decision to make because I'm not 100% sure where I stand on health insurance, and also any time I take off from work I don't get paid for. Also, I'm trying to do a great job at work so they will hire me, and that doesn't happen when you're in a doctor's waiting room.

When I was a kid, my mom would pick up the phone and dial for the doctor's office, and the doctor would get on the phone. "Hi Fred!" she'd say. "It's Jean. Another one of the kids is complaining of a sore throat." Then our doctor would say, "Probably caught the strep. I'll call in a prescription for that one, and may as well do the other two, also. They'll probably get it sooner or later."

I got the scheduling lady who listened to my brief description and made me an appointment. "With Dr. B. at ten fifty in Derry," she said. "I'm sorry," I said. "Did you say ten fifty? As in ten five zero? In Derry?" And she said,"Yes, ten five zero, ten fifty, in Derry."

And ten I left for work, happy that my issue would be taken care of.

At ten thirty I left work and drove tot he office. I walked in and gave my name. "Oh, Kathleen," a pretty blonde nurse said. "You're actually scheduled to see Dr. B. at 10:50 in the Bedford office."

Now I've been here before. I can't remember if I blogged about it, but this spring I actually went to the Derry office to see my General Practitioner and it turned out I was supposed to be in a different office. But since then I've been careful. Very careful.

"No," I said. "The lady said Derry. I know she said Derry."

I don't know what I expected. Maybe some sort of acknowledgement that I was not the one at fault, and since they messed up, to just let me have a 10:50 appointment?

"Would you like me to see what the rest of the day looks like in Bedford?" the pretty blonde nurse asked.

"I can't go to Bedford," I said. "I have to get back to work."

"You can wait here and see if we can fit you in later?" she said.

I stood there looking at her. I was actually struggling not to cry, because I was embarrassed, mostly because all the office people and the other people in the waiting room were obviously so embarrassed for me.

"Do you know how long?" I asked.

"We don't," she said.

I opened my eyes wider. "Time frame?" I asked. "Twenty minutes? An hour? Three hours?"

I waited for an hour and then walked out, heading back to work. Before I left I let the pretty blonde nurse know I was leaving and would try again on Monday, three days later. "She really did say Derry," I said as I walked out, holding back tears. Because I could hear them talking about me as I sat in the waiting room, feeling sorry for me, or laughing, or rolling their eyes because I was one of THOSE people who couldn't keep office locations straight.

When I got home there was a message on my home machine from the scheduling lady, apparently left five minutes after I hung up the phone and dashed off to work. "Your appointment will be with Dr. B in Bedford, so she'll see you at 10:50 in Bedford," she said by way of correction. Too bad I work until five.

This morning I got an email from the office.

The last time I'd been in for a regular visit, I had signed up for some online system the office had adopted. But I'd never used it. This one was telling me I had a message.

I was curious to see if it would be something personal. Maybe someone saying they were sorry for the confusion.

I was at karate, on my phone, but I didn't have anything else to do, so I clicked the link in the email to try and sign myself in.

I did a quick search of my email and found the one from the same service that provided me with my user ID.

Then I tried clicking the link. The link opened up a webpage asking me how I wanted to sign in. Google? Yahoo? Facebook? (why would anyone use Facebook for medical records?)

I tried Google. Because I have a google account.

But Google did not want to let me in, because Google had no idea who I was, even though I used the correct password.

I got an email. It was from Google. "We think your account was being hacked! Someone tried to log in! If it wasn't you, please change your password!"

Only it was me, and the email didn't say what to do if it WAS me and they still wouldn't let me in.

I gave up and waited until I got home.

At home I was finally able to find a way in without google.

I found that I had an unpaid bill. I found an email saying congratulations for signing up. I found that they'd downloaded all of my visits onto this system. And I found that they said I had two cancelled appointments from Friday. As though I'd simply just cancelled them. One from 11:10 in the office I had been sitting in, until 11:30.

I still have my medical issue, by the way. And I have to go back on Monday. I hate them.

Friday, September 26, 2014

I Would Like Some Wine

I don't really think that title needs any further elaboration, do you?

It's self explanatory.

But I shall not, because I have self control. And because I need to get up in the morning. And because I'm too darn tired to drag myself out to whatever store one goes to and purchase said wine.

Of course, I also want ice cream.

Ice cream is also full of calories. If I had ice cream, I would also feel guilty, same as the wine. I wouldn't get drunk, though. Which is a plus. Or a drawback, depending on how you look at it. Still, Ice cream is tasty and wonderful and maybe I could talk myself into going to the store for that.

Then again, as long as I'm going out anyway, and as long as I'm at the store... well, the wine is Right There. I could pick up a bottle, as I'm out anyway. A bottle of something dry, to pair with the ice cream.

So now I've gone from being strong and healthy and all denying the bad stuff and eating cucumber slices to having wine and ice cream.

But I don't care because at least I'm happy. And slightly drunk.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Now is the time...

This has happened to me several times over the past few weeks.

I makes plans to meet someone. Could be anyone. An old friend, a friend from church, a date, just a person. Usually a person.

As the meeting time approaches I might get a wee bit... not excited, exactly. Lifted? What you feel when you're looking forward to something, but it's not Christmas. What is that word? Anticipation? Buoyant? You get the idea. The point is I don't get out much, and these meetings are a welcome break.

And then, the day before, or the morning of, or an hour or two before, the other person will cancel.

The other person isn't being mean or malicious. Something else has come up, something that makes meeting with me inconvenient, or uncomfortable, or downright impossible. "I'm so sorry!" the person will say. "When can we reschedule? When's the next time I can see you?"

And this is why they are selling calendars for 2015 already. For people like me.

"What are you doing six weeks from now?" I ask.

I know, I'm booking so far ahead. I must have such a social life.


Wait, no.

No, I don't.

The truth is my free time is so, so limited and rare that it runs out quickly. I mean, I have a weekend free every 2 weeks. That's 2 nights every 2 weeks that I am able to spend as I wish. Yes, I get a floating night during the week, and that night is usually Wednesdays. But Wednesdays is choir night, and nobody dares take that away from me.

So 2 nights every 2 weeks.

"Why don't you get a sitter?" some people might ask.

Well, in some cases I have, and I've shelled out the $40 it takes to go right from work to dinner and then drive home. But seriously, sitters are expensive. And my kids need pants.

The sad part is, I find myself home alone on these nights more often than not, and during vast portions of the day. I end up feeling lonely and depressed. "I should have made plans," I tell myself. And then I remember - I did!

The stupid part is, I spend a lot of time feeling guilty for being so difficult to make plans with. "I'm so sorry!" I say. "I know, I'm so difficult!" But hell, I'm not going to Yoga all week long. I'm not hard to meet with because I'm going to the gym, or getting my nails done. I've got my kids, for crying out loud! I shouldn't be feeling guilty! I'm not the one changing plans last minute!

The thing is, a lot of the time I don't try to make plans with people because I feel like I've already got them. And then the person cancels and I'm alone eating cereal out of the box and watching reruns of The Mindy Project.

What I should be doing is making tons and tons of plans. I should make plans with everybody! And then, an hour or two beforehand, I won't care if someone cancels. "I was going to have to back out, anyway," I can say. "I have all these other things planned." And  then I'll take a look at all the remaining possibilities and make my choice, and cancel on everyone else.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

Another Sunday Afternoon

I am always doing freakin' laundry.

If you want to know what I did at any given moment during any weekend, it's laundry. We really don't need to go into any more detail.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Return Of Winter

The nights are coming earlier and earlier, and lasting longer and longer each morning.

The leaves are very gradually changing colors, blushing yellow and orange.

And the cold is creeping into the house at night, reminding me that the storm windows need pulling down.

To keep heating bills down, and myself warm, I spent last winter wearing my bathrobe to bed. It was an accident at first, but I was so cozy I just kept doing it.

Last night was the first night I did it this year. It's getting colder.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Know Thyself

I found this recipe for Baked Butternut Squash & Gouda Tortellini.

It looked so yummy. I immediately thought to myself, "I want to make that."

I don't cook as much as I used to. For one, food is expensive. At least good food is expensive. Also, it takes time to cook. Time is something I don't have. Boys are in bed at 8pm. I get home from work a little after 5pm. Squeeze in to those three hours some karate, homework, baths, and any quality time I spend with the boys that day, and what's left is about five minutes. Not long enough to make a five course meal.

I promise myself one recipe a week. One night a week I can try something new, or make something "fancy" that takes more than fifteen minutes.

This past week it was the butternut squash tortellini.

I started cooking and I had all the optimism in the world.

This brings me to my point... there is a huge difference between wanting to COOK something, and just wanting to EAT it.

I overcooked the squash. I almost missed the vegetable stock entirely. I didn't measure the cheese. I almost forgot the onion. Halfway through the process Nick walked in and crumpled his face up. "You know nobody's going to EAT that, right?"

I made it anyway.

I made huge mess that I needed to clean up. The end result was a completely different color than the picture. I still ate it, mind you. The boys refused, but I didn't really think they would, anyway.

Like I said, a huge different between wanting to COOK it, to actually slice, roast, sautee, puree, etc. and just wanting to order it off of the menu. "That looks good!" I say to myself. "I want to make that!"

But I don't want to make it. I don't want to actually make it at all. I want to eat it. I want to order it. I want to enjoy it, and I want to not slave over it and struggle with it and have it come out with half the ingredients and the wrong color.

I felt like I learned something about myself. It's not that I don't like to cook. Under the right circumstances, I do. When it's not so stressful. When I have adventurous tasters. When I have time and don't feel rushed. THEN I like to cook. Not when I have 40 minutes for a recipe that says it takes 40 minutes (it lies) and the kitchen just got clean.

I will never cook again, I say.

24 hours later I'm flipping through Facebook and run across this: White Beans With Kale. I'm not even 100% sure what polenta is.

And I thought - Wow. I want to make this.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What's For Lunch

I wasn't going to eat at all.

I wasn't going to eat lunch because the numbers on the scale have been creeping ever upward and today reached a high I haven't been since I was pregnant. Or shortly after I was pregnant. I'm despairing because I haven't stopped working out. I haven't been eating outrageously. And over the past few days I have been making a bit of an effort.

Anyway, I got home from church and realized that, even though I didn't want to eat, there were three small humans in the car I was legally obligated to feed. "What do you want for lunch?" I asked. I thought I could throw something quick their way and then do chores. "I have leftover spaghetti from the other day..."
The boys all stayed silent, their disapproval radiating silently in my direction.
"Or I can make you guys some PBJs"
"I hate those," said Nick.
"Well, I'm not making you three different lunches," I said...

I made three different lunches.
Only Andy wanted a PBJ, and he would have nothing else. Nathan wanted a leftover hamburger, and Nicholas refused to eat anything except for pizza.

I was angry and cranky and hungry and touching a lot of food.

What made it worse was Gunther licking the floor beneath me to catch every molecule of food.

I ended up eating more than half of a frozen pizza.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Screen Time

When I was a kid, I would wake up early in the morning and go down to watch TV. Sometimes I would be so early, the station hadn't come on yet. You remember that? When there would just be a barcode up with maybe a line of odd code on the bottom? Because people back then didn't usually stay up all night watching TV. Not yet.

Screen time was TV. My mother made an effort to control it. We could watch only certain shows (Sesame Street, Electric Company, Captain Kangaroo, Mr. Rodgers...) And then all heck broke loose. We discovered cable. We watched hours of stupid cartoons on Saturdays, starting with the Smurfs, the Snorks, Spaceghost, the Shirt Tales...  And my mother made a declaration. Only 1 hour of TV a day.
Mind you, we were only allowed to watch during the weekends, anyway, so...

I thought it was horribly unfair. My friends were playing V out on the playground, and knew exactly who the people were in Miami Vice. I was doomed.

Fast Forward to yesterday when a therapist was lecturing me on limiting screen time for the boys. She told me about 9-year-olds addicted to porn. She went on about desensitizing young men to the act of killing. And then she brought up the fact that all 3 of my boys had been terrified of a certain video game a friend of theirs had shown them.

I admit. She is right. I don't know anything about what the boys do on their screens. I mean, it is So BORING. I really don't want to know. But I cant just pretend that none of them had trouble sleeping the night after that stupid game walked into my home. Or that the internet is a safe place for children.

So, I made some changes.

It was hard, because the schools now assign homework Every Night that must be done on a computer.

The thing is, playing one spelling game can then lead to "I was just checking this thing out..." and before you know it they're all watching YouTube.

I made the boys give me everything. DSs, Laptops, tablets. I took the Wii U controllers and the remotes for the TV. And I put them in a basket in my room.

When it is time for screen time, I will let them choose a device. I will set a timer. And when it's over, then it's over.

Homework that involves the computer will wait until I get home to supervise.

I know it seems unfair. I know it seems a bit insane. But I guess it's just my effort to regain a little control over the situation. I'll have to see how it works out.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A List

Here's a list of things I forgot to do today, and so will do now, after I write this post:

Sign Nate up for Travel Basketball (Am I crazy? Probably)

Pay Homeowner's Insurance (which is overdue)

Set out Nate's homework for tomorrow night (because if I don't, the only thing he'll do is the bit on the computer.)

do my nails. (OK, who am I kidding. It's just easier to walk around with claws on my fingers and toes than do my nails at this point.)

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Oh, Laundry

I get you clean, but you sit down on the counter for days.

I hate you, laundry.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Off Schedule

It rained, and heavily, as soon as I got home, about 4:30.

It rained and thundered and the wind blew. The sky became dark.

I headed upstairs to send an email before starting to clean the house.

And then I fell asleep.

I woke at 7pm.

The sky was dark for real, the rain had stopped. And I declared it too late for chores.

Things are so different when I don't have the boys.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

How To Break A Habit

Something was caught on the back of my tongue.

It was something hard and scratchy. It felt kind of like a popcorn kernel skin, only I couldn't remember the last time I'd eaten popcorn.

It was so annoying. It scratched every single time I swallowed. I drank a lot of water, ate bread, ate ice cream, even! (oh the sacrifice!) But nothing worked. It moved down my throat a bit, but didn't go away.

This lasted for hours.

It lasted through dinner, dishes, bath time, and stories. It even lasted until I climbed into bed, when finally I told myself there must be something, SOMEthing I could do. Made my way to the bathroom, where I turned on all the lights, held a flashlight on one hand, and a pair of tweezers in the other.

I felt with my finger where it was, and then reached back with the tweezers and began blindly trying to pluck it out.

Now, I realize at this point that I might have appeared slightly insane. No, my actions were not entirely logical, nor even safe. I was stabbing myself in the back of the throat with tweezers. But the little thing caught in my throat was driving me mad!

And then I caught it.

I pulled out the tweezers and looked at what had been driving me crazy.

A fingernail.

It was a fingernail.

And I thought, I really need to stop biting my nails.

The thing is, it felt so good to get it out, I was positively gleeful with relief.

I still haven't stopped biting my nails.

I have more motivation to stop, but this sort of habit isn't something I think about before I dot it. I just find myself with my teeth biting my fingers.

Friday, September 05, 2014

I Can't Sleep

I can't sleep.

Know what sucks?


Not so much while it's happening. If you're just there, in bed, reading, it's not too bad.

But the next morning? It's hard getting up.

Or maybe it's not hard. Maybe it's fine. But then after lunch it's like someone dropped a sand bag on your head.



Thursday, September 04, 2014


It's official.

All three boys now have homework.

None of them like to do it.

Right now, the boys are at Steve's, and there is an unfinished assignment on the kitchen table, due tomorrow.

I told the boy it should all be done yesterday, and was assured I was being ridiculous.

This would be slightly easier if the boys didn't have to be wrestled into their chairs to complete this stuff.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Shoo, Fly

We have flies.

Not just one or two flies, buzzing about the place.

I mean we'll turn around to the sliding glass doors, and ten to fifteen flies will be hanging around in the corner, swapping stories of the old neighborhood and maybe drinking beers.

I flip out. I open the door. I shoo them all outside with a dishtowel. I kill the ones that won't leave. And ten minutes later... more flies.

I think it's because I left trash in the garage for over three weeks. I just couldn't find time to take it to the dump. Or maybe something died in the walls. It's got to be one of those.

In any case, I'm done with flies. I hate them. I hate everything about them. Worse than ladybugs.

That's the official slogan.


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Do The Things I Have To Do

I have to clean my house.

I have to go grocery shopping.

I have to do laundry.

I have to sort thought my personal papers so I can find things when I need them.

I have to clear the space in the kitchen designated as "Homework / Craft Area" so that there is actually space there.

I have to get desks for the boys.

I don't want to do any of this. I don't want to think about any of this. I would like to stay in bed and watch the Amazon Pilots that are out. I would like for someone to bring me coffee and a croissant in bed.

But In stead I need to get up. I need to do those things. But before I do those things I need to feed my children, feed the pets, give the cat his insulin and his thyroid pill. I need to wash the dishes I didn't wash last night (broken dishwasher.)

I need to run.

I'm going for a run.

Not quite a day-long movie marathon with croissant and coffee, but at least I'll be moving. I have this visual image of depression building up in my system, like rust in the pipes, plaque in the veins. It sits there and hardens and the more there is the harder it gets to actually move around or get the right water pressure.

If I get up now, after two days of sitting around feeling sorry for myself and over eating take out, shortbread cookies, and white whine, it's going to feel horrible. Two days ago, I could have jumped on the treadmill and avoided all of this.

But if I do this now, it will be so much easier than if I keep dragging my feet until Tuesday. I need this. I need this run to work the grit of 'depressed' out of my system and get some normalcy back.

If I jump on the treadmill, cleaning my house will be easier.

If I run 3 miles, grocery shopping will feel better.

If my blood flows faster and my heart beats stronger it will clean out the junk sitting in my mind, and I will be able to look at the pile of jump sitting on the hutch in the kitchen without feeling an overwhelming sense of despair. Maybe I'll even be able to make sense of it so the boys can sit at the table and do their homework.

Until their desks get here.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Name That Feeling

I really have tried to keep the boys in touch with their emotions. Maybe I haven't. Or maybe I've done such a good job that Andy actually didn't feel nervous the first day of first grade.

Or maybe it's just that he watched too much of that scary Freaky Five Friday thing with his brothers and was too scared to go to sleep, so he was awake with me until 11pm, folding laundry, and then spent the rest of the night sleeping diagonally in my bed. And on the first day of school he was so tired he couldn't muster up any nerves at all.

Sunday, August 31, 2014


So Frank died.

He was a great cat. It was a sudden thing, with him getting sick and then being whisked away to the vet without me getting to see him.

I miss him because he would be on my bed right now, in my face, making that bird-like purring noise and rubbing the top of his head against my hands as I tried to type.

He used to climb into bed when we read books at night. Maybe he thought we were all coming to spend time with him?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Startup Disk Full

Have you ever gotten this message on your computer?

It's terrifying.

You're going along, doing your thing, whatever it is you do on your computer... and the message pops up. Your computer is full. You need to get rid of stuff.

I have no issues getting rid of physical items. I can dig through a closet and harden my heart (sometimes) and fling out underused items of clothing, toys, books, games, etc. It's hard, but my biggest worry is the waste.

With a computer, there is no real waste. I mean, if I delete a file, that file isn't going to end up in a landfill in India for generations of barefoot children to cut their feet on, is it? I delete a file and it's gone. Poof. Magic. One moment it's a movie or a song or a game, and the next moment it's not there. negative space.


So I got this message on my computer.

I deleted some stuff, and I went on with my life.

I tried synching my ipad. My ipad wanted a software update. I said OK.

Then the update couldn't be completed.

Because there wasn't enough room on my computer. My startup disk was almost full.

The last time I got this message on my computer, I went to Steve. Steve said he would fix it, and he did, and it worked for a little while. Then I got a new computer.

The trouble is, every year computers and ipads and iphones come with more and more memory. Apps take up more and more space and they do more and more things. Where 20 games would fit, now only 5 will. The games are bigger and better and clearer. The pictures are better. They just take up more room.

So I woke up in the middle of the night. I do that more often than I care to admit. And after some while of trying to get back to sleep, I caved and googled what to do when your Startup Disk Is Full.

I deleted cashe files. I emptied the trash. I combed through my downloads - and there were quite a few. You want a huge chunk of space taken up in pdf files? Get a divorce.

I went through my itunes folder. I deleted a number of games that I'd had for years that I probably would never play again. They didn't even all fit on my ipad. But I had backups for them, just in case... Oh well. I guess I can live without playing the Alabama Vampire Detective Hidden Object / puzzle game a second time. Purge. That's what this is. It's a purge.

Yes, I paid for the game. Yes, maybe sometime in the future I might have the time and the inclination to actually play that game again.

Will it be the worst thing in the world not to have it?

No. In fact, I might not even remember that it was ever there.

So. Purge.

Throw things out (electronically). Get rid of this old stuff so that I can have new experiences.

The message will come back, I' sure. But at least I have some idea of what to do and what to get rid of when it does.

Friday, August 29, 2014


So... the divorce papers came in last week.

Or maybe the week before. I'm not sure. I've lost track of time.

Whichever it is, they are here, and we are divorced.

Except for signing some certificate online. Which I can't seem to find. It's funny. I'm not a stupid person. But I follow the instructions, go to the place it says to go, and then it says "Fill Out NH DIv. FInal Certif. Form." And there is no such form on said page. I've looked.

And this is me. I'm not exactly unfamiliar with computers and the internet. What if I were a not-so-smart computer illiterate? If these little problems drive me insane, I imagine a lot of people must find this process a million times worse.

But yeah... I guess I can now officially consider myself divorced?


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Try, Try Again

Maybe I don't need to write something deep and meaningful every time I post on this blog.

Maybe I need to take some of the pressure off.

Maybe it can be something simple, like a comment. Or a short paragraph. Or a fleeting thought.

Maybe when a few of those have gone up, the deeper, more meaningful posts will come back.

Maybe it can start with a few photos.

Like a new start to a new school year.

School Day 1. Grades 1, 3, 4

School Day 1. Grades 1, 3, 4

School Day 1. Grades 1, 3, 4
I said "make a face like a Dalek" andNick grinned

School Day 1. Grades 1, 3, 4
Photo Session Silly Face

Sunday, July 20, 2014


This summer have been more relaxed than the rest of the year.

The reason? I'm letting go. I'm changing it up.

I let the boys take July off of karate. It sounds minor, but it is costly for 3 boys. Also, that's a lot of time that is usually spent at the dojo now spend here, at the house, making dinner, tidying up, and just talking to the boys about their day.

I stopped making the boys practice piano. Nate won't be taking piano in the fall - he's going to do the violin. Nick will be taking violin AND flute. Andy will still be doing piano - I still haven't worked out the details. But I haven't made him practice for weeks.  There's no fighting about it, no struggling to find time to do it.

Sometimes, when I'm having a particularly difficult day, I put on a TV show for us to watch during dinner. We watch an episode of Dr. Who, or part of a movie... once, an episode of Arrested Development. It seems so horrible, right? I mean, this goes against everything I've been taught, everything I believe. It's the HUGEST no-no. We're supposed to sit and talk and have healthy foods. Not eat grilled cheese while laughing about banana stands.  But somehow we aren't having a bad time. It seems to work.

Also, I don't cook dinners anymore. I used to make a THING every day. Steak or chicken, a vegetable... These days I'll cook a "dinner" a week. And then the rest of the time I'll make eggs, hot dogs, french toast. Or sandwiches, mac 'n cheese, a quick pasta. I cook broccoli in the microwave or put out carrot sticks. It's quicker. It's cheaper. We're good.

Sometimes, even though we're in a rush and have things we need to do, like sleep, we just stretch out on my bed and surf the net for Weird Al videos, or research Portal, or play silly computer games or look at old photos.

All this makes it sound like we just lounge about. But that's not true either. I used to see dinner as a line drawn in the day - after dinner, the day was done. Everything else had to be done beforehand. But twice I've given the boys dinner and then packed them in the car for errands. No place very exciting - once to CVS and once to Target. The reality is, I don't want the sitter to have to stay an extra hour just so I can pick up eggs and deodorant. Also, more time with boys. And who says we can't do these things? What is it that makes them so horrible?

It's OK. It can work. If I just relax about it and don't worry about it, life is going to be fine.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Who Am I... Really?

I think Divorce almost naturally leads to Identity crisis.

Maybe not so much divorce in and of itself, but in my case, it's being by myself with no kids. Weekends are rough. Week long vacations almost intolerable.

Because I don't remember what I used to do before, when it was just me. Back then I had a roommate, I was in my 20's. And now that I no longer have a husband, (or boyfriend) I no longer know what to do when I am with only myself. The friends I used to have are now also grown up, grown apart, moved away, and have their own partners and children.

Who am I?

I'm leaning toward re-inventing myself. And while that can be a very exciting prospect, it unfortunately leads me to some odd choices. Especially since I'm still a bit emotional and, at times, just plain sad.

The other day I hung out with my friend Betsy. Betsy lives up here, not too far away, but for some reason we only see each other once a year. This time I went to her house and brought stuff to make margaritas (not fancy ones. Cuervo and mix and ice.) It turns out I make strong margaritas. After two, I decided to join Betsy in smoking a cigarette.

I don't smoke. In college, I tried smoking when my friends did, and was the only one who did not pick up the habit. In fact, smoking made me feel ill. Which was good, because I was a singer. I still do sing, in the church choir. But the point is, I don't smoke. Never have. I spent years watching my friends try to quit, watching Steve try to quit, going through gums and patches and things...

But I did smoke with Betsy. I smoked a cigarette, and then I did it again. After two strong margaritas, though, so wait, because that's not so surprising.

A couple of days later, in the car, I found myself thinking about smoking. I thought that I could actually purchase my own pack of cigarettes and smoke them myself. At home. Alone. With just me. I thought about how this would make me feel, about how I could just do this thing, how there was nothing stopping me, how it was all so very possible. And I thought about how it would make me feel, what it would mean for the kind of person I could turn into...

I know. Pure craziness, right? I never once thought about how addicting smoking really is, or how horrible it would be for my lungs. I didn't think about cigarette butts or ash or the smoke clinging to my clothing and hair. I didn't think about how I can hardly afford shampoo these days, let along packs of cigarettes. I didn't think about the example it would be for my children. I didn't think of how it would affect them.

So... needless to say, I have not taken up smoking.

I have, however, given serious though to getting a tattoo. And also to chopping off my hair. These things are possible.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Little Alone Time

18 months ago, I probably would have fallen at your feet if you had offered me a few hours without my kids.

I love my children. I love them more than my own self. I would walk to the ends of the earth for any of them. I just don't want to be around them every single moment of the day. Even when the boys were in school and I had no job (outside the home) it seemed that I kept myself busy with housework and volunteer work.

Life has changed significantly. Every other weekend (and one weeknight a week) the boys go off to Steve's house, and I am left alone in the house. I have no one to cook meals for, no one to put to bed, no one to dictate what goes on the television, and no one to try and describe a new Dr. Who Minecraft Mod while I'm busy braiding my hair and listening to music with adult lyrics.

Most of the time, when the boys are gone, I have the time scheduled. I have a meeting or a choir practice. The weekends I don't have the boys I clean the house and get to shop for groceries my myself. I teach myself how to use the rider-mower so that I can mow the meadow which used to be our lawn.

But sometimes, I find myself with nothing to do.

These are the moments I'm supposed to fill with leisure activities. Call up a friend! Read a book! Do the things I always said I wanted to but couldn't because kids were around. (For the record, most of these projects involve cleaning.)

A couple of weeks ago, Steve took the boys on vacation for an entire week.

No kids for an entire week.

This is a huge adjustment. Not just routine-wise, but because for the past ten years I have been defining who I was as a human being through my children. "Mother." I quit my job to stay home and be a "Mother." I stopped spending time with young single friends because I had a baby and I was a "Mother." The TV I watched, the music I listened to, even the clothing I wore changed - yes, because I was a bit older, but mostly because I was a parent. And let's not forget the fact that, after three boys, there are parts of my body that will simply never be the same.

So, who was I before that? Um... I dunno. I was a girl in my late 20s who liked to do the things that 20-somethings do. Now? Well... I don't know. I'm almost 40. I don't feel middle aged. I don't always make grown-up choices (I had three biscuits after dinner instead of one.) Who am I? Any given weekend I can't tell you what it is I even wish I were doing. What do I do for fun? Um...

I'm not going to lie. I can get rather down and depressed about it. I have my ways of dealing with it or distracting me from it, but they don't always come through.

So what did I do while the boys were on vacation?

The first night I was alone I took a bucket or warm water out to the deck and scrubbed away the green and yellow pollen buildup.  I got halfway through before I became so sad - this is what I was doing the night before a weekend? I cried. I cried so much I had to stop working and crawl upstairs into bed, where I remained for an entire day.

I have to be careful about the crying. It isn't always helpful - sometimes it is! But not always. Also, my eyes tend to puff up, and if I'm not careful I wake up with bags under my eyes. Most people might simply let this sort of thing pass, but I work with a very enthusiastic and well-meaning 25-year-old (born in '89) who is prone to being concerned about my well-being, and who is not beyond commenting on my appearance when I look less than my best.

I stayed in bed a whole day. Then the next day I got up and finished cleaning the porch. I did laundry. I cleared the clutter off the dining room table. I played piano a little bit. I wrote a little bit. I bugged people online a little bit. I managed to make it to the Library one day. I hung out with a friend and had some (Very) strong margaritas.

Still by the time they came home, I was more than ready to see them.

It will get better. Things will get easier, Eventually. I know this. In the meantime, though, these stretched with no boys hare hard.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

I Made A List

So, just because I'm not posting anything here on this blog, doesn't mean I'm not thinking about things I want to say here on this blog.

Side note - It was really hard for me to say "here on this blog" instead of "on this here blog."

I think of things all the time. In fact, I write the ideas down. I had a running list of items to write about, topics I could address.

But yesterday I threw it away. And then took the trash to the dump. An amazing sequence of events considering how rarely I do either of those things.

Here's the thing about lists - you can always make a new one. I should do that, so I will actually have something to say.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

File this under "Done"

Last week, Steve and I filed for divorce.

Wait, what? you're thinking. Didn't they decide to get a divorce over a year ago? What then heck have they been DOING?

Shut up, I say to you. You have no idea.

First of all, no two divorces are the same. If you and your spouse own nothing and have no children you can probably file for divorce and be done with it in an afternoon, or at least a month. But if you own things, if you have children, if one of you has spent the last 10 years not working in order to care for your children and your household, it might take a wee bit longer.

In some cases, it might be worth it to wait.

It might make sense to get a job. To figure out what your expenses are or will be. To think through certain things, like what do do with joint property.  And in the meantime certain people might be able to keep health insurance for a few more months. Things like that.

So... yeah. It took us a little over a year.

Not that we didn't try to get things done earlier.

We had a meeting with lawyers. It took hours. It cost me about $900. It probably cost Steve the same. We spent the entire time arguing over a temporary arrangement and listening to the lawyers argue over who was going to pay to have the house appraised for value. Do you know how much it costs to have the house appraised? Probably a fraction of what it cost us in lawyers fees to argue over who was going to pay for it.

I quickly realized that we could spend months, years in court, arguing over how much alimony, child support was owed, over who would get what visitation, who would get which bank account... but when it was all added up, the lawyers would probably end up with most of the cash.  Steve doesn't make enough money, I explained to my lawyer, to make it worth arguing over alimony. At the end of the day, any difference he could possibly afford will be eaten up in fees paid to her firm.

In January we went to a mediator. We came up with an agreement, and most of the arrangements were made. Then we each took a copy of the papers to our respective lawyers and each of them had something to say.

When we finally go copies of everything we went tot he courthouse, but we were missing a couple of the 93 documents we needed in order to file, so we had to go back.

And so we did. And then we filed. And that brings me to now.

I had over a year to get used to the idea. But still, once we did it, once the paperwork was in, I had a little bit of a shock. That was it. It was done. Mostly. All over except the parenting class and the actual document stamped and returned.


It feels weird.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I'd Like To Thank My Health Insurance...

Way back in October, the school recommended that Nicholas see an outside therapist.

Take a step back - not time-wise, people. I mean back from the blog content for a second. I've been wondering how to phrase this issue. I've been wondering if I should even speak about this issue. Nick isn't a baby. He is a now 10-year-old boy with his own thoughts and his own life and above all his own right to privacy. I can't be a good parent and be explicit or detailed with his issues here. 

Dealing with these issues, however, is a different matter. And that is where the focus of this post is.

What the heck is she talking about, you wonder?

Well... way back in October, the school recommended that Nicholas see an outside therapist. There were issues, and the teacher, the guidance counselor, and the principal all seemed to think this was a good idea.

After some calling around, some filling out of forms, many voicemails.... do you know how difficult this was? It's the golden triangle of Therapists. 1 - Willing to work with children, 2 - Will take my insurance, 3 - Had appointment times NOT during school hours.

We found someone. Nick started to see her.

She recommended something called neuropsychological testing be done. This is a test to find out how the brain is working. Look it up if you have questions, because I can't explain it now. This began phone calls to the insurance company to see if they'd cover the testing, and to another center who does the actual testing.

Meanwhile, issues at school got a little worse. There were more meetings. More issues. We assured them we were trying.

An appointment was made, weeks in advance. Not for a test, but for an intake. A week before the date I got a phone call saying the therapist had to cancel because she wasn't taking new patients. I explained we didn't want to be a long time patient, just needed this one test done. At which point I was told the therapist just didn't take our insurance. Something I feel should have been noticed when I MADE THE APPOINTMENT.

So I scheduled again. For a month later.

I brought Nick with me to the intake, which apparently is never done. But the nice Therapist #2 seemed OK with it, and recommended that we schedule testing - we scheduled 6 hours of it, over 2 days. Both scheduled weeks ahead.

Only THEN Therapist #2 called us and told us our insurance company wouldn't cover the testing. To pay out of pocket would mean a rate of $200/hr, for a possible 13 total hours. THANK YOU, INSURANCE COMPANY! 

Instead, our insurance company wanted him to have something called a "Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation."

When I called to make the appointment for this, the nice lady scheduling the appointment called it the "Medication Evaluation." I know there are those of you out there who think pills solve a lot of problems, but I honestly feel the damn test should be called something else. I don't want him on meds IF HE HASN'T BEEN TESTED FOR EVERYTHING ELSE!

Anyway, Steve and I sat down for yet ANOTHER intake - the get-to-know-your-kid appointment which is an hour of history, which you have to do with each new person they make you see. Therapist #3 seems really nice, is prepared to to this evaluation, and based on her assessment we'll know if we can have / should have the neuropsychological testing.

My feelings? Well, this is the first therapist who asked for a form to be filled out by his teacher. Of course, this meeting took place the FIRST MONDAY OF SUMMER VACATION.

I mean, the TIME it takes. And this is time sensitive, because this crap started back in October. I know no one wants to be rushed, but this is ALL of the third grade, here, that we've been trying to get something actually done, but we've been jumping through hoops. 

A task made more difficult because, oh yeah, we're in the middle of getting divorced and I am working for the first time in a billion years.

Also, I'm a little apprehensive because Therapist #3 - a lovely lady - seems a bit over-ready to slap an ADHD label onto my son. And while I know it's not off the table, I've MET kids with ADHD  - Nick isn't like them. I've also met kids with Asperger's, and Nick isn't like that. While everyone is different, I feel like Nick deserves to be looked at before diagnosed, and I'm not sure that's actually happening with this new round of testing.

I hate it. I hate it. I feel like it's made this difficult because they actually want you to drop out of the race and leave them alone. Then, of anything goes wrong, they can blame you for being a bad parent and not following through. But if you DO try to follow through, they just recommend you see a different therapist, and you have to start all over again, add another month or two to your sentence, fill out another round of paperwork.

Nick starts school in two months. We'll se how much has changed before then.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Like Sand Through The Hourglass...

Time slipped away from me.

I experienced genuine shock this morning when I checked this blog and realized it had been over a week since I'd written. A WEEK! OVER!

The thing is, I have stuff to say. And I've been saying it... just usually to whoever happens to be closest to me at the time. The poor lady in the cube next to me at work has heard all of it. So have some random strangers at the grocery store. Sorry, random people! Sorry, co-worker!

I mean to try harder, but I don't mean to stress myself out. I want to say things, but I don't want to over-share, over-state, or over-do it. Sometimes that means a bit of Time-Gap.

So keep eyes wide open: Posts With Content are on the horizon.

And also, if I can find some, photographs!

We do love photographs.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Monday was long, right?

How could Tuesday top Monday? I mean, sure it's crazy and we've got a schedule that includes Karate, then Piano Lessons, and dinner in the car as I drive from one to the other.

Unless, of course, I get a text from the Babysitter saying "CALL ME ASAP!!!"

Given yesterday's fiasco with the baby and the phone, I would lean toward not freaking out. Until I read the next text.

"Gunther. Had a seizure. There's blood and I don't know what to do."

Gunther is a dog, people. A pet. A pet who, at 4am, decided to pee in the hallway despite being let out at 10:30pm, a good 2 hours later than usual. And at that moment I seriously wondered if it was time to consider putting him down. It's not like it was my 7-year-old child passing out.

But I rushed him to the vet.

And the vet looked at him and said "He seems fine." And the dog? He was acting fine. I knew he's actually had a seizure because Nate described it to me in great detail, and there was blood in his cone-of-shame, which was coming off tonight anyway. The blood was probably from biting his tongue while he was shaking.

The vet said sometimes dogs will have one seizure and then never have another. Or sometimes they start having them every few days, or every 30 minutes. We'll have to see. Unless we want the expensive bloodwork to start now. I opted to wait.

There was no karate. There was no piano. Instead we had our sandwiches at the table. I let the kids listen / watch  the beginning of Amadeus (after the suicide attempt) while they took a bath.

After the boys were in bed I realized that Andy had a concert tomorrow at 10am and that there was also an after school trip that the boys had to be at by 3pm, which was awkward and involved picking all three kids up early. (Because they don't let you pick up after 2:20. If you have to be someplace at 3:15, you need to get picked up an hour earlier. Even if it's down the street.)

Then I ate cheese and had a bowl of cereal.

Tomorrow will be better, right? It has to be.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Longest Day

You know that feeling when you're in a rush to get somewhere, but traffic is inching along? And you're not even on the highway?

That's the traffic I was in after work this evening when my cell phone rang.

It was the babysitter. I immediately began apologizing for running late and saying I was on my way home. She asked if I had left yet, and I said yes.

And then she told me that the phone rang, and Nick tried to give her the phone, but she hadn't answered it and just put it down, and then her almost-year-old baby had somehow gotten hold of the phone, and you'll never guess who he called...

Did you know that when you dial 9112, it's the same as dialing 911? And that when you dial it and hang up, they will actually call you back? And once you call them, they are legally required to stop by your home to make sure you're OK? I did. Apparently our babysitter didn't.

So when I got home, there was a bit of craziness. She didn't want to leave until the police came by. Her baby was cranky with a tummy ache (I told him they were coming to take him away to baby jail!) and when the cops finally DID come by, she was busy changing his diaper. I was clearing out the boys' backpacks.

When I opened the door for the very cute and attractive police officer, I had my arms full of school folders, a thermos in one hand, and a pair of maracas in the other. I was holding a barking Gunther inside the house with one foot against his cone-of-shame. I asked if he wanted to come in (I thought he might want to yell at us and lecture us about faking 911 calls.) But he backed away pretty quickly and said he was just checking to make sure everyone was all right. One look at me, and he got the picture.

After that I started making dinner. I was interrupted by 2 girls - one with heavy eye make-up and a nose ring in her nostril - from the EPA to get me to sign a petition. I tried to get them to hurry the speech along so I could finish cooking dinner, but they were horrified by Gunther barking, and kept stopping to ask he he was all right. I finally got them to leave, but not before the guy who mows the lawn stopped by to talk about the job he did that weekend. Before I could chat with him, the phone rang - an automated message from the school letting us know about Step-Up Day, the day the kids visit classrooms of the next grade, just in case we didn't find out about it from the flyers, the emails, and the clearly noted "STEP UP DAY" on the calendar.

Dinner made, table cleared, dishes.... in the sink (I can't do everything!) I practiced piano with the boys (lesson tomorrow!) and finished reading the last chapter of House Of Hades.

Then I took a phone survey from some guy who asked a lot of questions about TV shows I watched (cable? Which channels? Where do I get my news?) and political candidates (On a scale of 1 - 100, how many points would I give the following candidates.)

Now I have to pay my bills, register my boys for summer programs, and re-do my budget so I'm not actually in the red (it's got to be possible, for crying out loud.)

It's Monday, folks. Gonna be a long week.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Crazy Long Week

It's been a long one.

In my heart I feel like so much has changed. Was that just last week I was sitting here, wondering why I had no plans for the weekend? I climbed into bed and sat there, drinking tea and writing until I feel asleep, completely ignoring all of the cleaning and shopping and general things that needed to be done.

And then the week happened. It was just full of things, emotional things. From meeting up with old friends to shopping for Steve's Birthday present. It's been like a trip down the Twilight Zone hallway, all spinning and blinking lights, but in black and white.

And that brings me to here. Another Friday night. No plans - well, for tonight. I am meeting up with Lillian tomorrow to see a play. I'm putting off cleaning my house. I'm putting off putting shopping for a car. I'm stalking more than one person online. I have no judgement. One minute I'm bugging a person so much via technology that I'm afraid he / she will block me and refuse to take my calls. The next moment I wonder how this person will know I'm serious about hanging out with her / him if I don't put myself out there and express my interest.

What I should do is laundry. What I should do is clean the house. I should go grocery shopping. But instead I want to sit in bed and watch bad TV while eating Honey Bunches of Oats out of the box.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Terrible Horrible No Good etc. Day

I had the worst day.

My kids say that all the time. "This is the worst day of my LIFE!" Usually this cry is in response to my taking away screen time. Or declaring that 3 hours is enough screen time. Or saying it's time to practice violin.

In any case, I laugh at the boy who says this because it's an over reaction.

I had the worst day.

Not the worst day of my life. But just, The Worst.

It involved an argument with Steve. In our driveway. In front of our children. Before work / school. So much fun, right? I don't often write about arguments with Steve, but you know, we are getting a divorce, and they do happen. I regret the fact that the argument took place, but not anything I said. Perhaps the timing. But not the substance. And I'm still angry.

The babysitter is ill and had to cancel for the 2nd day in a row. Actually, she asked me if we could play it by ear, but call me crazy, I'm not comfortable with that. I like to know who is going to pick up my child from school before I leave for work.

I showed up at work stressed and blotchy faced. My co-workers were in unusually high spirits. Not a good mesh.

Work was... work. I didn't bring my A game. At the end of the day my back had started hurting. I must have hurt something while working out, or those shoes I wore are not good for standing.

And there are other things. Stupid things. A guy I like basically let me know he wasn't interested. I was surprisingly let down for someone who didn't think she was all that interested. All this culminated in the realization that I simply liked the conversation because I've been lonely. Before Steve I had my friends. My friends are now far far away with their own families, and I find myself watching them all have mini-reunions through facebook photos and wondering how I'm no longer in touch. I don't even know how to make new friends.

Do I sound sorry enough for myself? What do you think? Could I whine a bit more? More of a nasal quality to the font?

By 9pm I was wiped. Exhausted. Sad. But oddly motivated to get back on my diet of healthy foods, to do yoga (for my back and flexibility) and to take life where I have it. It's like when the house gets messier and messier because you can't start the job of cleaning it, and then you finally snap. Only my life is the house. Which isn't to say that one of the things I'm motivated to do isn't fix up the house a bit. I'm all over it. I'm all over lots of things. I'm ready. Bring it.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Wakeful Nights

Even when I was a small child I sometimes had trouble sleeping.

Maybe everybody does. Maybe this makes me not special at all. I could just be like everybody else.

When I was a kid I would turn on the light and read until light began creeping in my window. I would do  my best not to look outside into the dark, because without leaves the trees shaped themselves into a creature with eyes that never failed to find my in the dark. Also, because I read Salem's Lot when I was really young and I was afraid I'd see a vampire floating out there who would charm me with its eyes and get me to let it in my home.

OK, sometimes I'd run and climb into bed with one of my sisters, but they didn't appreciate that.

This past year, my wakeful nights have become more frequent.

I used to think they were random, or caused by caffeine, sometimes a wine overdose. And I don't think I'd rule those two out as factors 100% of the time.

But these days there's a lot floating through my mind. Paperwork, finances, parental dilemmas, existential crises, all of these pinprick my brain at times it should be resting and sorting through the day's bucket of information. 

Also, there's Gunther. Gunther is my dog, and he has recently been returned to the Cone Of Shame, due to the fact that his leg hurts him. Well, his leg hurts him, so he licks it, and then he keeps licking it, and then it becomes a large bloody infected sore. So the vet made us put the cone back on. Gunther has lost most of his hearing, and now he's mostly blind, because of the cone. He's also still in pain, despite the pain meds I try to fool him into swallowing twice a day. This makes him extremely annoying to live with. 

I've also lost most of my compassion for Gunther as he has begun to spend his nights doing the crying-whining thing. He gets up, he turns in circles, he pant-cries a bit. He sits back down. He makes odd lapping-licking-slurping noises inside the cone. It's all very loud and unsettling at 1am. I'm never sure what the problem is - does he need to be? Should I let him out? I don't want to do that because if he doesn't have to go sometimes he just walks around out there, wandering and taking his time. He's deaf and mostly blind and it's dark. He can't see, he can't hear, I can't find him in the dark, and I'm tired and would rather be sleeping. Maybe he's just thirsty? Should I go downstairs and make sure he has water? What else can I do? What else is there?

Eventually I try to shut him out of the room, but Gunther then barks to be let back in, undaunted by the fact that it's the middle of the night and the house contains sleeping children.

I'm tired. I'm cranky. I'm sleep deprived. I blame the dog. It's like having an infant that won't sleep. I remember holding Nick and trying to find a way I could get some sleep, setting my eyes on the closet and thinking "You know, if I put him in there and shut the door, I might not even HEAR him cry, so I could sleep then!"

Sleep affects the thinking part of our brains. (I'd like to state here than I never put Nick in the closet. Even sleep deprived, I realized this was not actually a valid option.)

And I would be lying if I tried to pass this all off on the dog. There are nights I simply wake at 2am and can't get back to sleep. I read books. Sometimes I even write a little. Sometimes I just squeeze my eyes shut tight and try to not be awake until dawn creeps through my window and the clock says it's an acceptable time to get up and start working out.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Double Digits

He's ten today.

Today he's ten.

It's a leap closer to adult-hood, to independence, to becoming a person who doesn't need me and who eventually moves away into his own space, his own life.

He is never going to be one of the Little Kids again.

Birthdays can be traumatic. I love him so much, and I love watching him grow into someone who is so smart and compassionate, and so perfectly himself. But I miss the little boy he used to be.

Happy Birthday, Nicholas!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bias In The System

I used to go to everything.

When Nick started school, there would be multiple opportunities to volunteer. I jumped at them all. I wanted to do everything. I wanted to work in the library and I wanted to help out in the classroom. I wanted to make all the parties and go on all the field trips.

Oh, I had my Gwyneth Paltrow moments of difficulty. I had an infant and a toddler! It was so hard trying to balance these things around pre-school and childcare! And how hard is it to find time to run and buy groceries when I chose to dedicate my time re-shelving copies of The Magic Treehouse and Captain Underpants.

Also, our town seems to be overflowing with volunteers. I have been turned away for field trips because there were too many parents trying to go. I have signed up to bring juice boxes for parties and realized three other moms did also, and all of us over-bought.

But I was there. And even if I didn't make the volunteer times, I was at every concert, every classroom sendoff, every presentation.

Here's the things about Bias. If something is biased in your favor, you might not notice it. But if it swings in the other direction, it becomes really clear.

I am not stupid. I've always known that the school system was biased toward families with a parent at home. It's one of the reasons I chose to stay at home. I wanted to be the kind of parent who could be there for my children.

But now that I'm working, the frequency with which I am asked to leave work for concerts, meetings, assemblies, classroom presentations, is astounding.

You might be rolling your eyes. I mean, it's JUST a classroom presentation. And then a spring concert. And then an end-of-year classroom party for the parents. Not a lot. But that's only for one child (I have three), and it doesn't include the volunteer appreciation assembly (9am on a Friday) or the parent / teacher conferences, or the special field trips that other moms are signing up for.

It sounds like I'm complaining, doesn't it. Say one work to the school administration and all they hear is a mother who doesn't want to spend time with her children, who isn't invested in them. Secretly, I feel they're rolling their eyes and thinking "THIS is why those kids are having such issues! See how disengaged the mother is? Why can't she just make an effort?

Let me say this again, just incase either of us forgot. I am not stupid. Nor am I uninterested or unsupportive.

I WANT to be there for my children. I want to make every party every classroom presentation, every concert, every meeting. I want to go on all the trips and know all the children's names. I used to do that. I liked that.

I can't do that any more. I can't leave work every time. Not every time. Not for three times the fun. I would be at the school more than at home.

The thing is, my kids could also use the support right now. Those other kids? The ones where the moms are all friends and the girls are all giggly and practicing cheerleading at age 8 and wearing heels at the violin concert? I'm going to be mean and say they probably don't need to see parental support as much as my boys right now. Because Circumstances. Because Divorce. Because Working Mom.

I think that children with two working parents probably need to see their parents faces in the crowd more. And if the parents have jobs that are flexible enough to allow them to come to the concerts and class meetings and such, well, good for them.

The people who need support are the ones with the hourly jobs. The ones that are less flexible. The ones that don't pay as much and are more strict with time and less secure. The families under more financial constraints. Those kids probably could use a friendly face in the crowd. It's sad to have your teacher make a special announcement that she'll record your presentation for your parents later, when the other kids have smiling pairs of adults in the back row. It's tough to be the one kid without a parent during the end-of-year party. On top of everything else.

I don't know what the answer is. I know end-of-year parties can't be moved, but I'm not sure why parents need to be involved. Not that I think removing other parents from the classroom is fair just because I can't make it. I know concerts are fun. I know you get more kids to attend during the day, when they're at school anyway. I know we already get plenty of parents during the day. Moving it to the evening would conflict with soccer and cheerleading. It would disrupt the routine of the status quo.

I'm just frustrated at a system that is so clearly set up for who I used to be, and not for who I need to be today.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Jenga and Ice Cream

I had a hard day at work, I told the boys.

Did you staple your fingers again? Andy asked.

My first week at work I actually stapled my fingers together. That happened. But not this week.

Nope, I said. It was just a hard day.

It was a good day at work, actually. I learned a lot of new things and was happy to learn them, but as things need to be completed by certain times the day wasn't very forgiving to my learning curve.

The first two weeks I went back to work, in January, I cried every single night. I was so tired, so overwhelmed. I felt incompetent at work. I felt out of control at home. The careful balance I'd created over the past 10 years of childcare and laundry, housework and homework, came crashing down like a Jenga tower with the wrong piece pulled from the bottom.

The thing about these block towers that come crashing down? They can always be rebuilt. Sure, the new tower won't be like the old tower. But maybe it'll be even better. Maybe you can build that extra part on the corner and expand the fortress walls... or rip the wallpaper down in the bathroom and pick a nice paint shade to brighten the place up a bit.

I keep having to remember that.

So, Thursday I had a hard day. It was crazy and frantic and I left wanting to do nothing but kick my shoes off and go to sleep. It was all I could think about when I picked the boys up from karate.

But then came the Ice Cream Social.

Every year the PTA has an Ice Cream Social at the school. Everyone is invited. The teachers and volunteers serve small bowls of ice cream and large bowls of toppings - gummy bears, sour patch kids, sprinkles, cherries, chocolate chips - they have chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Everything but nuts. No nuts.

Everyone goes to the Ice Cream Social. All students and their parents and their siblings and next year's kindergarteners and their families and siblings. The kids eat large bowls of sugar and go running around playing ball at the back of the gym or on the playground, and parents try to have conversation where they make themselves heard.

Last year we went to the Ice Cream Social, and it was not a good experience. Oh, I bet it was for the kids. I think the kids were fine. I think that they were too distracted by Ice Cream and Loud Craziness to notice anything was amiss. But for me, it was a defining factor in making the decision to proceed with divorce. Without going into too much detail, that night was the last straw. Now I don't usually make rash decisions, especially where my family and my children are concerned, so know there was plenty of thought that went into it before then. I'd weighed my options, I'd given thought to what I wanted, what I needed, what all the choices would mean.

And then came the Ice Cream Social.

Last straw. I heard the snap. I felt the pull of that Jenga piece and the wobble of the tower as it started to crash.

Thursday at karate the boys reminded me the Ice Cream Social was that night. And I'd promised them we'd go.

I was tired from working a new part of the job, overwhelmed with what I was going to do for dinner. Lonely. Missing my family, missing my friends. Making plans for the long weekend that didn't include cookouts and friends or trips to the beach, but laundry and vacuuming and putting screens in windows, and working number magic with finances to allow me to pay my bills, send the boys to summer camp, and buy a new car. I was in tears already with the lot of it.

And here comes the Ice Cream Social.

I cried.

I went.

I took the boys.

And it wasn't that bad. I mean, how can a bowl of 1 part ice cream 2 parts chocolate sauce 3 parts topping be bad? There's some good that comes out of that. And watching the boys scramble around for a few minutes in a large group of other boys? That's good, too. These are good moments.

And yes, I felt more out of place than ever, sitting there, trying to be a normal looking mom. Yes, I was tired from work and wanted to be home. And yes, I was and am still harboring resentment towards the school figureheads for certain interactions we've had this year. BEcause the principal wears those dresses and calls the children kiddos and smiles and nods at me while not outright saying anything but insinuating that my child might not be good enough. And also because for some reason I was seen as not good enough to work in this place.

But whatever.

Despite all of that, I survived. I ate my ice cream and then went home and went to sleep.

And the next day I woke up and the sun was shining. I worked out and make the boys breakfast (cereal) and got them to school and I was feeling pretty OK. Actually, I felt rather good and upbeat.

Because we move on. We pick up our Jenga blocks and we stack them again, one at a time. We go to build a different block tower, one with stronger walls and a better view and a hiding place for all the treasures we've collected.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cleaning Strike

I spend most of my off-work hours... working.

What I mean is, when I get home I have a lot of things to do. I need to feed the boys, make sure they do their homework, practice piano, take a bath, and get to bed at a decent hour. When they boys get to bed I have laundry to fold, snacks and lunches to pack, and school folders to sift through. I do so much that I hardly have time to write anything. In fact, I fell asleep yesterday writing this and had to finish it tonight.

If I decide I need a few moments to myself to just sit and read, write, or even to swap out long pants for shorts, I need to steal the time from another task. 

I'd been trying to get together with a friend of mine for weeks now. For most people, this doesn't present a problem. Most people I know can easily (if they so desire) squeeze a visit with a friend in between work and home or other social visits or obligations. Not so with me. With me, I have work, and then I have the boys. The boys have piano and karate and t-ball. They need to be fed and bathed and helped with homework. They need clean clothing.

But life without seeing friends isn't worth living, really. So I picked a night and went ahead to see my friend. I'm glad I did it. I really am.

But my house isn't. It's so messy. My living room is so messy. My kitchen counter is so clustered. Every single toilet in my house needs a good scrub, the floors are all sticky, and there are dirty socks in every hallway and stairwell. Dust and pollen cover every surface. And my windows really need a shine.

It's because I chose to spend time with my friend, because I choose to spend time with my boys doing other things. This is why my house is such a mess. Because I decided somewhere along the way that it was more important to have a little bit of a life than a perfectly clean house.  It doesn't mean I'll never clean. It just means I'll spend time resting and doing other things, too.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

It's Not a Comeback, It's a Return

OK, so I went away.

I went into hiding because I wished to live more secretly, to front only the essential stress of life, and see if I could not learn what life had to teach and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.

Or something. Thoreau said it better.

I took a break.

It was unintentional, at first, but after some thought I realized I actually still have a lot to say. I simply hadn't been saying any of it because it would LOOK BAD.

For a long time I've been writing this blog with some idea of how it would look from the outside. I didn't want to point fingers. I didn't want to hurt feelings. I didn't want to sound too depressed or too callous or too anything that might attract attention because then people would either ask questions or challenge me and I hate being challenged because that requires that I stand up for myself and stand behind my words. I am, quite often in fact, able to stand behind my words, but there are other times where I was just full of hot air caused by a condition called "Being A Passionate Human" and I have absolutely nothing to back me up and I have to admit I'm wrong. While I have no problem admitting I'm wrong, I really really hate confrontation and conflict.

For example, one time my FaceBook Friend Meg made some comment about the Red Sox and the Yankees. I don't usually comment willy nilly on FaceBook, and I especially try to stay away from anything to do with sports, but I made a comment on my friend's post which included the phrase "Yankees Suck." It was tongue in cheek, mostly, because as I said I don't follow sports and I also take exception to putting down another team on a regular basis as a way to cheer your team on.  (FYI - "Yankees Suck" is a phrase many red sox fans use to show their support for the Red Sox. I know, I don't get it either.

Anyway, my one little comment resulted in a huge tirade by some die-hard Yankees fan who cited many statistics in support of his view that the Yankees do NOT, in fact suck. And that the Red Sox might actually be the ones that suck. His comments were long and scathing, and when I tried explaining that I was kind of joking and that I didn't give a flying fig and finally that I didn't actually even understand the statistics he kept flinging out there, He refused to listen and kept ranting about how angry he was about people like me.

People like me.



This happened probably two or three years ago and I still hesitate to comment on things beyond "Oh, your baby is so cute!" and "Happy Birthday!" and then I spend fifteen minutes debating over adding a line about having a piece of cake.

I hate confrontation.

You know what you can't have without confrontation?

A divorce.

So anyway, I've been thinking a lot. I've been thinking that this is one of the more interesting times in my life, and here I am, falling silent. What good does that do anyone?

I've been thinking that I don't really care about offending people anymore, or saying too much, or doing the wrong thing, because I'm not getting a second chance.

So I'm back. My posts may not be a lot more interesting. But I plan on giving this another go-round. I plan on being honest and putting it all out there and if people don't like it, they don't have to read it. It's not like this is the news or a newspaper.

It's ONLY the internet.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Guess Who?

Remember last year, when Nicholas did his Biography report and had to create his person out of a 2-liter bottle? Remember this:

Well, the good thing about having Nick and Nate in back to back grades is that we are prepared for the biggest assignments. I knew Nate was going to have to collect rocks. And I knew he was going to have to create his own bottle person.

Here he is:

No, it's not Einstein. Yes, the hair can trick you, but obviously this is Benjamin Franklin. See the kite?

His hair is just standing on end (I am informed) because of the electricity running through his body. Also, the lightning seems to be stuck to his back.

Nate was very proud of Bottle Ben Franklin. We hope he will get along with Bottle J.K. Rowling, who is still hanging around from last year. (Yes, I know it looks like George Washington. It's not.)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

I am so tired.

Want to know what's rough?

Twelve hour works days. Ask me how I know.

What to know what also sucks?

Working back to back twelve hour days.

And what's worse than that?

Following it up with a tournament in a town 40 minutes away, when you'd forgotten you signed up to volunteer and then they gave you the 7am volunteer time slot, and then your kids competed later in the day, and then when they were done one of them refused to leave until he found out his score at closing ceremony, which took place at 6pm.

I'm glad it's over. I'm glad next week I'm back to more stable work hours. And I'm glad that I only ALMOST rear ended that other car on the way home because I maybe was so tired I was slow to respond.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Can't Judge a Movie By It's Poster

Friday night is movie night.

It always has been. I've kept the tradition even since Steve moved out, figuring it could be a fun night we all kind of crash out and have screen time together.

It's not exactly the same. I don't have Steve's skill at finding exactly the movie we want, so we need to know what we have before choosing. We still take turns, but we often forget whose turn it is as we don't have turns each weekend anymore.

Last time we had a movie night, it was Nate's turn, and it was Valentine's Day. It was more than 2 weeks ago, because of February vacation. He chose and old Godzilla film, and I had to grit my teeth as the dubbed film went on and on and the boys stared openmouthed at the screen, waiting for monsters.

Tonight was Andy's night.

I showed him what we had available on my Amazon account, and he chose My Dog Skip, because there is a picture of a tiny dog staring at a toilet, and I said "Maybe the dog learns how to use the toilet?" And Bingo, Andy made a choice.

Have you seen this movie? It came out in 2000. The little boy in the movie is almost 30 now. In fact, all the actors are incredibly young. It's a sweet movie with a sweet story. But the boys are a bit cynical. Almost as soon as it started they were talking about how the dog was probably going to get hit by a car. "That always happens in these movies."

As the movie went on, the boys laughed and talked about relationships between the characters in the film. The kids are pretty intuitive about some things. The next door neighbor comes home from the war and is different. "Who do you think might understand him?" I asked. Nate was the one who said the boy's father, who had lost his leg in the war. And it all seemed good.

Until the end.

OK, so, flashback and subject change (kind of.)  When we were kids, my mother got the movie Turner and Hooch. Do you know this one? It had Tom Hanks in it, back before he was Big Tom Hanks and was just Medium Tom Hanks? Anyway, it was about Tom Hanks and a dog. One of them was Turner and the other was Hooch. I don't remember actually watching this movie, so I can't tell you who was who. And SPOILER ALERT! At the end of this movie, I'm pretty sure the dog dies. I think he gets shot. My mother watched this movie with us, and at the end of the movie, she was a gibbering mess. And so was my brother Jamie, who must have been around 8 years old. They cried and cried together, Mom and Jamie, all over this dog from this movie.

So.... My Dog Skip.

I'm about the spoil the movie for you. The dog dies.

But not when you think he's going to die. They make it so you think he's going to die, but then he doesn't. During the time when the little movie boy was crying and we all thought the dog was going to die, Nathan started sniveling. And then Andy started tearing up. And then the movie dog got better, and it looked like it was going to be OK, but then the dog got old and the narrator (Harry Connick Jr.) told us that he died at the old age of eleven.

And then the movie was over.

I went over to give Nate a hug, because he'd started crying. Only when I hugged him he started right out bawling. Nick made a comment and I replied, "It's OK that Nate's crying. It shows that he has feelings and that he's empathetic."

At this, Nate started crying harder.

He cried and cried. Andy was crying, too, at some point. But then he lost interest in crying and decided he was just sleepy. Nathan kept going. After ten minutes I was coated in snot and Nate was making odd wailing noises.

The thing is, I was serious about him being empathetic. Nate gets so wrapped up in his own story and is so easily frustrated that it's easy to forget that stories affect him this way.

One week, he wants Godzilla. The next he's sobbing about a dog. My baby boy. My baby bear.