Saturday, May 30, 2015

Faces In The Crowd

I used to love intimate gatherings of close friends.

This is when I was young, of course, in my late teens and my twenties, before I knew that relationships were fleeting and that friendships changed and faded with time, or at least were often placed aside, only to be taken down to be dusted every now and then, like an old keepsake.

I miss that feeling of security I used to get when I was among these friends.

I always assumed that, no matter what, I would always have someone close by I could confide, in. We could take our kids to the beach together, get together and drink wine in the shade, and throw caution to the wind by letting our offspring stay up way past bedtime to catch fireflies in the summer dark.

I see photos of friends and their families together on Facebook all the time, children smiling and sharing bowls of ice cream or breakfast cereal. I see families like this all around me  - at the schools, at church, at town events. The parents chat easily, carpool their children, take vacations together.

I can't seem to navigate social situations. I have a few friendly conversations with a parent during karate classes or volunteering for a classroom, and begin to feel at ease. I learn about this persons family, listen as she chats about children and in-laws. Months go by and we begin to be friendly. Then the class ends, summer comes, and we pass each other in the library. Maybe she will smile and wave before turning away. Maybe I can't even get eye contact. Maybe I will make an attempt at conversation and get that awkward feeling this person doesn't remember who I am.

I dislike parties and town events for this reason. It's a gathering of slightly familiar faces, of people I have seen for years in all sorts of social situations. None of them have any recognition in their eyes when we walk past each other. It leaves me feeling awkward and confused.

I would rather go to a party where I know no one, or spend time in a city of complete strangers, than be in my own town surrounded by acquaintances smiling and chatting to each other.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Fade to White

I can't remember if my hair has ever been this long before.

I like long hair. I like long hair on my own self. My parents always told me that women usually cut their hair short when they got older, and that always worried me a bit. I do know quite a few people who, at some point in their 40's or 50's chopped their hair off to a pixie, or a spiky boy cut, or a "dyke" cut, or whatever. Call it what you will. It looks great on them, but terrifies me.

Usually a cut like that goes hand in hand with coloring. I think it's because the shorter length shows off the whites and the grays that the longer length usually covers up. I don't color my hair. I have always said I would grow old naturally, with no color in my hair at all. But why cut it shorter to show them off?

The other day I was sitting in a work meeting and playing with my split ends when one of my white hairs popped out at me. My hair goes to my waist, usually the whites are white up top only, but this hair was stark white all the way to the tip.

In fact, upon closer inspection, there were quite a few like that. In fact, it turns out I have a whole bunch of white hairs streaking through this frizzy near-black mess on my head.

Is this what aging is like? One day I'm my normal, usual self, and the next I look up and my features have morphed into something "other."

Monday, March 02, 2015

Crazy Times

Crazy times is here, folks.

DI, Frog and Toad, and work are all coming to very critical pivotal cathartic moments and I'm runing around trying to remain calm as I pretend homework will still get done and that I can add peanut butter to the crock pot recipe as a substitute for almonds.

The good news is that I haven't thrown myself off the roof yet.

I'd probably be cushioned a little by the three feet of snow still on the ground, but that icy top layer might scrape...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015


I could talk at length about it, but in the long run, does anyone need to hear me babble?

No, no they don't.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

More? More Snow?

My Bedroom Window

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Nowhere To Put It

I never understood this about the snow. To me it just piled up and then people shoveled it away. It never occurred to me that the snow had to get PUT someplace.

Right now cities are in a state of shock because they have already run out of places to put the snow. Streets are impossibly narrow. Corners are impossibly dangerous to see around. People are being hired to clear snow off roofs and truck snow out of parking lots.

We're supposed to get more in two days...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pretty Roads

Driving in the snow can be slick. It can be slippery. It can be sloshy and slow and more of a sliding experience than one is comfortable with.

But the roads sure are pretty. Until they get all dirty with mud and exhaust.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

White On White

So there was some snow.

I generally disregard warnings about snow. Usually there's a lot of noise about snow, people rush to the grocery store and get into fistfights over bread and milk. They clobber each other trying to get to gas pumps. And then it snows two inches and life continues.

So when the forecast called for lots and lots of snow and everyone started to talk about working from home, I spoke up and said I was coming in.

It snowed three feet.

Less than a week later, it snowed again.

And then again.

In fact, we've been averaging about two snowstorms a week.

The trouble is, it's also cold. This means the snow doesn't melt. It just piles on top of itself. People push it to the side to clear driveways and roads, making walls of snow on either side. Pulling out of a driveway is a game a chance because you can't see the street.

I'm done. It's halfway through the month and I'm done with winter. I'm ready for spring and sand and warm air and sun on my face.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

My House is Your House, Your Activities and My Activities

We're doing too much.

Well, actually, the boys are doing too much.

Which means I am doing too much.

The boys are doing DI this year, again. The past couple of years I've managed DI but when I started working I realized I simply didn't have enough time for weekly meetings. Each team is required to have at least one appraiser and one volunteer, and out of sheer guilt I signed up to appraise - this is usually a hard role to fill.

The appraiser is a hard role to fill because the appraiser cannot appraise at the same meet their own child is competing at. Well, you can, but then you don't get to see your kids compete. So they give you an alternate assignment - another meet to appraise at. All day. From 7am to whenever it ends, frequently after 5pm.

The other meet date - aside from the one my boys are at - is the same weekend as the play Nick and Nate are doing. I also have the boys that weekend. While I haven't heard back from Steve, I am reasonably sure he will be able to watch the boys and get them to their performances. I can make three of the four. Still, I'll be spending a whole day doing something because of an activity they are a part of.

Today I spent the day training for this day of not-my-activity activity. This isn't even taking into account the day I'll spend at the meet my boys are actually attending.

Oh... and that play. The boys are having a great time and are doing such great jobs. But they parents were asked to volunteer both behind the scenes and ahead of time. I was hoping to lend my hand during the production, but now that I'm not there for Saturday's I can't. This doesn't mean I'm not stressing about being so awkward at finding props (my other assignment) or selling ad space.

It's tough, that play. Because the rehearsals are constantly conflicting with rescheduled basketball games and practices. Those were originally scheduled for Friday and Saturday, but keep getting rescheduled for Sunday and Tuesday due to kindergarten registration and snowstorms.

This week is going to be exceptionally difficult because the band concert that was snowed out is smooshed up against the previously scheduled violin concert, and now we have activities every afternoon this week.

I don't want to do all this. But I guess I didn't quite realize that, at this point at least, if the boys are doing something, I need to do it also. Only I need to know all of the details while the boys only think about it during the moments they are IN the activity.

We'll sign back up for karate in March.


Sunday, February 01, 2015

In the wee small hours of the morning

It is 4:14 am and I am awake in my bed.

I woke up around 2:30 in that usual, middle-of-the-night grogginess, and suddenly I remembered I forgot to submit Bios for Nick and Nate, and those were due the 31st. (They are doing a play. Post to follow.)

I submitted the bios and then sent an email out to family members because tickets are on sale. I posted the link on Facebook. And then I realized there was a deadline for placing good luck messages in the program, so I went through all the emails ever and found the one pertaining to ads in the program. When I saw the deadline was February 12th I got so sad because I was picturing Nick and Nate looking for a good luck message from me or their dad, and finding nothing...

... then I realized it wasn't February 12th yet and I still had almost 2 weeks. My sense of time / date is totally skewed.

I printed that out. I swore to buy a HUGE ad for both boys.

While I was at it I looked up the rehearsal schedule going forward. I cancelled karate for everyone for February.

I was going to go back to sleep, but my brain is just not cooperating. Which is Why I'm here...

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Week's Highlights

Andy's Birthday Party went off without a hitch despite the snow.

The kid that plows the driveway was awesome and showed up many many times to clear the driveway for me.

Actually, during the storm I got a lot of help from a number of people. I was going to write about it here, but really, it deserves its own post...

My backyard is beautiful in the snow.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Birthday Party

Last weekend we finally had Andrew's Birthday Party.

Andy was born on December 17th. It's a horrible time of year to have a birthday party. Everyone is fraught with holiday tension, schedules are crammed with holiday parties, and because of all this the party planning really needs to start before Thanksgiving. It never does.

Last year none of the boys had a birthday party, so this year I promised. It's just that we had to pick dates that were a little later than the actual birthdays. Because of Christmas, basketball games... things like that.

These days parties get ridiculous. They're all at movie theaters, laser tag, arcades. The simplest party invites 8 people for $300, and you still have to bring your own cake. It's great if you can afford it because you don't have to worry about the pizza.

But I decided not to go all out.

Steve came over and set up the playstation on the big screen in the den.

Andy had a guest list of 7 people.

We bought an ice cream cake at the market basket.

I ordered pizza to be delivered.

It snowed 8 inches and three kids cancelled.

But the four that showed up had a great time.

This is how I'm doing all of my kids' parties. The boys had a blast. They hung out and did what kids do and I didn't need to do much of anything except clean my house and worry about folks getting up and down the driveway.

Nate's birthday party is in 2 weeks. We're doing this. I'll figure out if 3rd graders are as great as the 1st graders. But so far Nate only wants 5 kids...

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

While I Was Out

A lot happened during my hiatus. One of them is that we lost Gunther, our sweet dog.

He'd been having more and more trouble getting up the stairs. He was eating less and less, and drinking and puking up water. One morning I came down the stairs and Gunther was exactly where I'd left him the night before. He wasn't able to lift his head off the floor. He'd puked up water during the night and had tried to get up but only succeeded in rubbing himself in it.

I had to call Steve to help me get him to the car.

It was very fast.

I miss him now that he's gone, but I'm getting used to it. I no longer stumble in the dark when I get up to use the bathroom in the night. He used to sleep in the middle of the room and no matter how I tried to avoid him he always seemed to be right under foot. I don't feel the same pressure to vacuum. We no longer had to worry about filling his water bowl or letting him in and out and in and out...

On the other hand, I get lonely when the kids aren't here. Puck and I watch TV but it's not the same. Also, I vastly underestimated the amount of food we dropped on the floor after dinner.

I miss that dog.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Call Me Maybe

I got a new phone.

This new phone replaces my iPhone3, which was an extra one Steve somehow had.
That replaced the other iPhone3 which I had dropped on the driveway and shattered - that one was also a hand-me-down from Steve.
That first iPhone3 replaced another phone - not a smart phone - that I left in the outside mesh pocket of a diaper bag during a heavy rainstorm at Santa's Village.
Before that I had my other cell phone, my first cell phone, purchase in 1999 at the mall. It was a flip phone and I thought it was the coolest thing...

Anyway... this is the first phone I'd purchased since then.

It isn't new, it's used, an iPhone 5. I like that it's used because not only is it less expensive but it makes me feel good to know I'm prolonging the life of a still useful item. People tend to go through cell phones like kleenex these days.

I love it. It's so fast and does so man things my old phone couldn't do. It doesn't just decide to shut down, like my old phone, or quit making sounds, like my old phone.

It's funny how attached I am to it. I think a lot about how technology grows and has morphed into our society. I just don't know the rules anymore.

Nick says he's one of the only 10 year olds who don't have a cell phone.

I'm not inclined to believe him, but I wonder... I want to think that I know what's right for my kids, regardless of what the masses are doing. On the other hand, if he is being denied something that everyone does have or do, then is it really a benefit?

I'm not getting him a cell phone. Not anytime soon. Not until he stops forgetting his completed homework at home or his agenda at school. But at some point, sooner than I'd like, I'm going to have to get him a cell phone. And my life will never be the same....

Maybe when he starts driving...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

High Lights of the Week

I tried to think of a catchy phrase for this type of post, and that's the best I could come up with.

So, I tend to get a little down. I sometimes let the season's cold and grey weather get to me. And with the stress of working and trying to be a good parent, I tend to fall into a horrible cycle of self-criticism and too many cookies.

But a lot of great things happen, too. And this is where I'm going to post them. In a weekly recap.

 - A little girl in the church's children's choir gave me an unsolicited hug for no reason, and for a moment I remembered back when I didn't have my own children and could connect with them in a different way because I wasn't someone's mommy.

 - A friend of mine volunteered to watch my kids on Martin Luther King Day. And she told me my kids were awesome. And they are.

 - My bed is so comfortable. And my sheets are so flannel. And they are so clean.

 - I caught Andy singing the Pirate Jenny song from Three Penny Opera. I mean, how awesome is that? Then we all had an in depth conversation about Mac The Knife, and how he might be different from Jack The Ripper

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Year Of Throwing Things Away

As part of my whole Green phase, I started keeping things.

Wait - backtrack....  it wasn't a phase. When I became more ecologically aware, it was opening my mind to a reality. It was learning something, not a behavior, but a truth. You can't unlearn a truth. Only behaviors.

So... as part of my whole Green... awareness... I started keeping things.

I was keeping things because I felt they could be reused or re-purposed. I was keeping things because I felt consumerism is helping change the environment in negative and harmful ways.

But in order to re-purpose something, in order to re-use items, one has to be crafty. One has to have time. One has to have the ideas and the know how to do so.

Let me find an example.

I kept syrup bottles so I could fill them with homemade oils and vinegars.

I kept socks with holes in them so I could make a quilt or re-purposed socks.

I kept cracked mugs so I could use them as decorative planters.

None of these projects ever got finished. Or started. But I still have the socks.

I kept everything. Bits of paper to wrap gifts in. Old clothing to quilt with. Ribbons to wrap gifts or decorate or craft with... never mind that I no longer have the time to breathe, let alone craft, plant, make infused oils, etc.

I kept all my baby stuff in case someone I knew had a sudden need for a used crib, or a stroller, or a tiny inflatable pool.

I'm clearing things out this year. This year I am giving myself a break and throwing things away. Clothing I don't wear, shoes that hurt, fabric I won't use...

Almost all the things. I'm keeping the holy socks. Because... holy socks.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bury The Lead

So, Steve is seeing someone.

People I've told have asked me how I feel about it. I'm not sure what exactly I'm supposed to feel, but the way they ask always makes me think they're fishing to see if I'm jealous. I am not at all jealous, and that is the truth. I'm actually happy for Steve and glad he's found someone to spend times with, and as far as he goes I couldn't care less about the person he ends up with. Where I do have concerns is where my children come into contact with her.

See, I'm not a great snooper, but I did kind of get online and snoop around some photos on Facebook until I managed to find what I'm pretty sure is her profile. I know. I know I'm terrible. And she seems like a pretty normal, non-mean, nice person, and knowing that makes me feel justified in my little spy mission.

It's a big step, introducing a significant other to your kids. I know some people don't think twice about it and proceed as usual, letting their kids meet dates willy nilly, but our kids are young and they get attached to people. Both Steve and I wanted to be sure anyone we introduced them to would be around for awhile.

But it's getting harder and harder. Because introducing them to the person I'm seeing would make it much easier to see him. And I guess this is my way of formally announcing that I'm seeing someone. His name is Jason, and I like him a lot. I'm trying not to be too impulsive, but I like him a lot. He's been incredibly sweet, thoughtful, and helpful. We just need to hang on to the next step... and we're not quite there yet. It's hard to keep a poker face when all you want to do is grin and shout from the rooftops.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Runaway Train

So, last week Nick tried to run away.

We were on line at the grocery store, and Nick said he was excited about screen time, and I mentioned the fact that he had used up his screen time that morning, and also that he'd lost screen time for Sunday afternoon because the week before he threw a fit when I said it was time to turn everything off.

He didn't like that. And after the usual begging and pleading and protesting and expression of discontent, he said he was running away.

A lot of kids say they're running away. I ran away myself once, with my sister. She was angry and said she was leaving. She grabbed a sweatshirt and headed for the door, and I ran out the door with her.

That's me. I'm a rebel of the following sort.

We ran around the cul-de-sac and then went right back to the house, giggling about how everyone would be surprised when we got back. When we burst into the kitchen, the babysitter informed us that our rooms had been rented out.

I figured Nick's announcement was pretty much the same amount of bluster. So I played along.

I told him it would be pretty cold, and he should wear a coat and bring a blanket. I told him we'd miss him.

Then he came into the room and he looked like this:

This is when I started to really worry. Bursts of panic were seeping through the spaces in between my giggles. I needed advice, and I needed it fast. Not knowing what else to do, I posted a statement on facebook. It said Here's a question: one of my kids is running away from home. He has packed a suitcase, has a blanket, his DS, and his Doctor Who stress toy. And he's moments away from walking out the door. How long do I play along with this, and just how do I call his bluff?

I took the above photo and posted that on facebook. I told Nick I needed a picture of him to show the police, in case they came by, so we'd remember what he was wearing...

Then Nick headed out the door.

Nate was freaking out. Nate wanted to go with him, but it was 20 degrees. I said no.

I still figured Nick would make it up the driveway then turn around.

But he got there and kept going down the street.

This is when I really started to panic. Part of me wanted to let him go and get it out of his system, but we live on a busy street, and it was cold. I could follow him to make sure he was safe, but Nate and Andy couldn't be left alone. I could call for backup, but my cell phone was dead dead dead, and by the time I called anyone and explained Nick could be anywhere.

So I turned to Nate and told him to watch Andy while I headed after Nick.

I talked him back to the house, and he took a bath while I congratulated myself on my parenting skills.

Then he got out of the bath and what followed was four hours of yelling, screaming, threatening, tantruming, and tears on all sides.

We lived. We went to the therapist. We got a new plan. But I'm tired and worn out and scared because this is my kid's life and there are no do-over's.

I know this isn't an uncommon feeling. I read this blog entry from one of my favorites - worth a few visits.

How can something like this be so funny and so heart-wrenchingly scary at the same time?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Busy Busy Lazy Busy

There's so much I want to write about.

Most of the time I sit down in front of my computer and my mind goes blank. I can't remember anything I wanted to say.

Lately I've had lots of topics on my mind.

I just don't have time to sit down and write.

But oh, so many things have been buzzing and going on around here...

Like this: I've learned how to take Selfies! Usually when I'm in bed and too lazy to get up.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Immigration Simulation Day

They had an Immigration Simulation Day. For the third grade.

This means that Nate came home mid-November with a stack of papers. He had to put together a family tree. He had to pull together his heritage, which apparently means the countries you're from.

Not FROM from, but just from. Like way back. Many, many generations ago.  Where you had your roots. In case you are wondering, the teachers don't think it's funny when you ask if New Jersey counts. Tennessee doesn't count either.

Nate had to pack a bag - not one with cartoon characters, or anything too brightly colored - to bring with him on his simulation boat trip across the simulated ocean. It had to have just a few objects, something to remind him of his "home" country, and a snack - nothing that would spoil during the long journey.

Nate was in tears looking for a bag that would be old enough. He stressed looking for a special object to remind him of his nation of origin. As I sorted through piles of pokemon and bakugan, I wondered aloud if we should try and convince everyone we had roots in Japan.

We also had to find Nate an outfit for his trip. Nothing too modern - the flyer the teacher provided assured us that boys should be in dark pants, preferably not jeans, and no modern graphics on the T-shirts please.

Then we got the chance - and this is so exciting it made me want to scream - to choose a special dish from our countries of origin to make and bring in for the immigration simulation workshop. I admit, I started wondering who exactly this simulation was for, and which one of us was actually a member of Mrs. M's third grade class...

I couldn't go to the simulation. I was working, and these things invariably take place during the work day. But I did get a good snapshot of him in his immigration clothing.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Lost In A Good Book

I haven't read a book in ages.

I used to have three or four going at once, and when I was tired of reading one, I'd dogear the page and pick up a different one.

I read doing everything - going to sleep, waking up, rocking babies, cooking... I read in the bath. I'd even tried to read in the shower. I'd even tried to read on the treadmill, but the words were too bouncy.

I can't tell you when I stopped, really. I think it was about the time I got my ipad. Suddenly I was playing games, and they were stupid games. Sure, I had books on the iPad, and I read some of those, but mostly I watched TV.

When Steve and I first split I read a lot of stupid E-books. In my head they don't count, because they were mostly poorly written romances with terrible typos and bad grammar. Many of them had horrible plots and dialogue that made me laugh out loud. But at 3am, they kept me sane. 

But these days, I do watch a lot more TV than before.

It's because I can't read while I fold laundry or do dishes. I can't read while I clean the house and change the sheets.

I got so many books for Christmas. And I love them all.... well, I'm excited about reading them all. I have a huge stack of them piled up, and I want to get sucked in to every single one of those marvelous worlds...

But I need to find the time. I need to make the time. I need to figure out what happened to make me unable to get lost in a good book...

Sunday, January 04, 2015

One Last Night

This is it. Christmas break is officially over.

It was hardly a break for me. I was working most days. But even so, I didn't have to pack lunches in the mornings, I had a very light commute, and for the most part the boys were with Steve, so I had evenings to relax in (or do laundry in, but still...)

Tonight after dinner I asked the boys to shut off their screens and get ready for bed, and the realization hit. Tears were shed, complaints were made, and we reached a verdict: School Sucks.

It just does. Sorry. You have to sit there and pay attention to stuff you don't care about, do work you hate, and no one is paying you for it. Maybe people pick on you in the halls. Maybe you hate the horrible cafeteria food. Then you go home and it's still not done because you have to do the HOMEwork they give you, and study for tests on the stuff you don't care about. And it's hard and uncomfortable and so exasperating.

Today I marked up the schedule with the events of the month. I posted the boys' individual schedules - the days they have gym or library, so sneakers will be worn and books returned. I posted the rotating instrument schedule so the flute and the violin have a better chance of being there on the days they are needed. I posted individual index cards with events so unusual they'd be forgotten... Student Council meeting 8am Wednesday. Basketball 10:30 Saturday.

It wasn't a vacation for me. I was working. But these are things I didn't have to do or deal with for a couple of weeks, and now  will be dealing with them again.

Tomorrow morning, wake to alarm (6:30 of sleep if I fall asleep right now.) Work out. Get the boys awake. Feed them. Clean up after them. Pack snacks / lunches. Shower while supervising boys getting dressed (which means getting walked-in on three or four times in the shower.) Get the boys on the bus. With backpacks. And snacks. And library books and / or gym sneakers and / or instruments. And sheet music. And school folders. Rush for car the moment children are gone and spend 30 minutes doing a 10 minute drive.

I can do this.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Resolutions - 2015

This new year, I resolve to...

loose weight
get back in shape
dress better
take better care of my skin
keep a cleaner house
buy less stuff
keep up with the laundry more
eat better food
read more books
take more baths
breathe more deeply
help more people
spend more time with my kids
prioritize kids over cleaning
play more games with the boys
in a messy house
eating pizza and ice cream and fried apples
and maybe drinking wine