Archive for May, 2010

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Dress Shopping

May 31, 2010

I like my daughters.

I think they are great people.  I am proud of them.  It makes me happy that they have empathy, that they are kind to others – friends or not.  I like that they appear to like themselves.  I like that they are not materially spoiled, and that they do not expect lots of “stuff” from me.

So when an occasion warrants an indulgence, I will indulge.  I’m not really sure that this was one of those times, but I indulged anyway.

S~ is getting ready to “graduate” from 8th grade.  Writer Dude is always rolling his eyes at this – it’s not a “real” graduation, the only “real” graduation is graduation from High School.  Fine  – that’s fine.  But since the girls attend a K-8 school, this “graduation” is a big stinkin’ deal.

There is graduation, on an afternoon in the middle of a week, and the night before, there is a Dinner/Dance for the kids.  The dinner dance is semi-formal, and requires proper attire.  The graduation is graduation, and I think a new dress would be fun.  But S~ came to me and said she was willing to wear a borrowed/old dress for the dance, but could she please go shopping with friends for a graduation dress?

And me, feeling all indulgent and excited about these big days, I said – “oh, you can have TWO new dresses!”

[Also, in light of the fact that she was feeling torn between two “groups” of friends, not really wanting to tell one group “no” about shopping for dresses, but having already told the other group “yes.”  So I told her she could buy two new dresses, and then be able to go shopping with both sets of friends.]

I told her she could spend $100 per dress.  Seemed reasonable, especially in light of the fact that last year, she was able to get several bar/bat mitzvah dresses in the $60-$80 price range (since she’s grown 4 inches since last year, re-wearing wasn’t really an option).

Off she goes!  On her first shopping expedition, with 4 friends (3 other girls and a very fashion-savvy boy).  With $100 in her pocket.

While the younger girls were off on their scavenger hunt, S~ called from the mall:  She found a semi-formal dress for the dinner/dance, but it cost a little more than what she had with her.  Her friend’s mom who had driven them to the mall said she could loan the funds, and S~ could pay her back later.  Well, asks her curious mom (that’s me), how much is the dress?

$188.

Whaaaa?

I said no.  I said she could not borrow that much money from someone, and I was not willing to buy that dress without (a) a list very compelling reasons why it was worth it, and (b) seeing it with my own eyes, to understand that it looked appropriate and was worth it.

She was so unhappy with me.  She was working on bargaining:  “I promise, if I can have this dress, I’ll just wear an old one to graduation, I won’t get two dresses!”  She texted a photo of it to me (i didn’t see the diamonds that MUST be sewn into it, to explain the price).  She cajoled.  She whined.

And still, I said no.  Impervious, I tell you.  I am impervious to whining.

[At least, as you will see, in the moment.]

I told her we could go back together and look at it.

She took a deep breath (the same ones I’ve been working on with her since she was one year old), and put the dress on a 24 hour hold.

But then nearly 24 hours went by, and I realized that I forgot that: younger girls would be at my house until 11, friends were coming over to play mah jongg at 12, and S~ had a softball game at 4.  So …. ???  But when I explained all this to her (especially that I wouldn’t let her miss the softball game, which – frankly – we both had forgotten about the day before), she was so unhappy.  She was so afraid that the dress would be gone.  That someone else would buy it, and she wouldn’t be able to find it anywhere else.

Why such a big deal?

See, this dress is a strapless dress.  Her friends started wearing the strapless dress last year, in bar/bat mitzvah season.*  Poor, poor, S~ comes from a family of late developers.  Late as in … period at 16?  No boobs before 15.  She’s 13.  That means, well, no boobs.  Dress shopping last year – regardless of the presence of straps – was very difficult.  The styles that she wanted didn’t match her body type.  We had to try a few times to nonchalantly stroll through children’s departments, looking for something with less bows than what lines the aisles in such places.  It was hard.  There were tears.

But this year, we’ve had some forward movement.  And this dress was the first strapless dress that she tried on and that FIT HER.  And that STAYED UP.  “I even jumped up and down with my arms up over my head!” she told me.

It was important to her.  Not just because it was a fancy, expensive dress, but because it let her feel like she was finally caught up and in line with her friends.

So guess what I did?

I told my mah jongg friends to go home (they knew what was going on, and were okay with it), and I packed S~ into the car, and raced to the mall.  I was doubtful that we’d be able to get there and back [because we’d have to find parking … how I hate the mall … how I hate finding parking at the mall] in time for the softball game.

But we did! We had a parking spot within seconds (seriously) of driving into the lot.  I knew it was a sign!

First we went to the store, and she showed me the [quite modest] strapless dress.  It is strapless, but the neckline is not low, and it even has some pleating stuff going on at the neckline that makes it a higher than usual cut.  And it comes to just above her knees.  And she looked lovely.  Old.  Lovely.  Tall.  Thin.  Happy.

Then we went to Macy’s to look at shoes.  And then we dashed up to the Junior’s Department, to look at graduation dresses.  And she found one!  It’s very cute and casual (and most importantly, $40).  Then I grabbed her a few pairs of shorts (because she outgrew all of hers from last year).  Then we jumped in the car, flew home, shoved some food into her gut, and sent her out the door to softball.

She was 10 minutes late, but glowing.

And I don’t regret spending $188.

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Scavenging

May 24, 2010

I’m trying to get over yesterday’s funk about “no vacation for you!”

Rewrite of that first sentence:  I’ve been working hard to get over last week’s funk about “no vacation for you!”  The first step was to drink more wine than my “diet” actually allows – 5 nights in a row.  The second step was to tell work to Go Fuck Itself on Friday.

Okay.  What I really said was “I’m working from home on Friday.”   And I meant it.  I even went back to the office at 9:30 p.m. after a work dinner to get my computer so I could “work from home.”  I thought the home-time would be rejuvenating, and because L~ had a school thing that she wanted me to attend at 1:30 p.m., at the other side of my often-one-hour commute, I felt justified.  I was saving time for the firm.  I could work, work, work right up until the event, and then work,work, work after the event.  No commute time lost!

So when I got an email at 10:30 saying, “Hey Suzie, can we meet today about X Project?”  I responded with, “Hi very sweet paralegal who I adore.  I’m working remotely today, so let’s have a call about X Project instead of meeting.”  She responded with “Great!  I’m free now, if you want to call.”  I responded again with “Um, I can’t!  because I’m currently “working” at CVS [pharmacy-type store, for you non-New Englanders].”

And so went the day’s productivity.

Or rather, work-related productivity.

I did not review documents, and I did not draft briefs and I did not research legal issues.

But I did put together my Adirondack chairs,* and I did plan …..

THE SCAVENGER HUNT!!

We had L~’s 12th birthday party this past weekend.

When it was time to start planning the party, all she knew was that she wanted a sleepover, and she knew who she wanted to invite.  It wasn’t a huge list (6 names were on it, creating a group of 7 girls), but it was a little bigger than I find comfortable for sleepover (i.e., more than 1 girl was on the list).   But it’s her birthday, and it only happens once a year.  So I said okay.  Then I looked for ideas on activities.

Mini golf?

No, Friend A did that last year.

Bowling?

No, Friend B does that all the time.

Swimming?

No, we did that last year.

A movie?

[no, mom doesn’t want to spend $150 on tickets and snacks – because Mom believes in much lower key birthdays, and it’s already a sleepover.]

Hey – what about a scavenger hunt?

Yeah!

I spoke with a friend who had done Hunts for years with S~’s age group, and she gave me some the run-down on what was entailed.  The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a great idea.

I had a few moments of doubt – do we really need two teams?  Because won’t some girls be disappointed not to be with the birthday girl?  And does this particular group break down into teams in a healthy, harmonious way?  L~ assured me that yes, they would.  She also insisted we absolutely needed teams … otherwise, what’s the point?

I also doubted whether or not the girls could go on their hunts without adults.  Our town is a pedestrian-friendly, kid-safe town.  L~ and most of her friends often walk considerable distances with parent blessings.  But not all of them do.  So I was concerned – the kids wouldn’t be happy about adult escorts, and all parents may not be happy with the lack thereof.

But L~ stayed excited about the idea, and I thought we could make it work.  So I committed myself in the way of announcing it in an invitation.

I continued to vacillate about the adult-escort issue, and ran the question by a couple of friends.  On their advice, I sent an email to all parents and asked for their input – letting them know that if everyone wasn’t comfortable with the kids off on their own, they would be escorted.  Everyone said, “they’ll be fine!  booooo to the escorts!”  And then perhaps “oh oh oh! adults to your house for cocktails while the kids are running wild in the streets!”

[instead, i stayed home alone and polyurethaned my Adirondack chairs … (see supra and infra)]

I collected ideas from friends and town as well as my best friend in the whole wide world (i.e., google), and set to making a kick-ass list of items, photos, and puzzles for the kids to solve.

Writer Dude and I initially had very grand schemes — we were going to send them out with a single clue that had to be solved before they could find the next clue – we were going to make them go to the library and research stuff before they could move on, etc.

We didn’t end up doing all that.  But I came up with about 10 items, 10 photos, a riddle, and a puzzle.  The riddles were HARD.  The parents could not solve them.  The puzzle was a Sudoku (easy), and I had highlighted 2 squares and told them that once they solved it, they had to get a photo of a house with that number on it (Team A), or get a photo of a menu with that price on it (Team B).

The girls had a blast.  We had a team with 3, and a team of 4.  The team of 4 won.  Then there was some unsavory response … from someone on the losing team.  But I pulled out my “strict mom face” and told them that if they couldn’t resolve/drop the issue, the party was OVER.  The last thing I felt like doing was spending 13 hours mediating a dispute between two 12 year olds.  No!

So they stopped.

We then had lots of energy and eating and yelling and dancing and singing and movie-watching and talking and screaming and ice-cream eating.  And a little sleeping.

Next year, I’m forcing WD to help me come up with the more intricate and involved set of scavenger items, and I’m inviting a much larger group,** and I will even invite boys (7th grade … totally appropriate, no?), and then I will call them all back to my home for a pizza party, and then I will send them all to their OWN homes to sleep.  I think this way, I’ll get more than 6 hours of sleep myself.

* Yes, I put together my Adirondack chairs.  The same chairs that I stained, to go with the deck furniture that I put together.  What’s that you say?  “Suzie, did you not know?  You do not have a penis, you cannot do these things!  Where was your husband?  Why is he making you do this??”

Or so said a neighbor friend to me while walking down the street.  “What are you doing?”  “I’m putting together my chairs!” “All by yourself?”  No really.  He said, “All by yourself?”  And really really, my response was, “Well, there weren’t any grown ups around to help me.”   That’s where the more overt sexism came out, with the “Well, don’t you have a husband?  Why get married at all if you can’t have your husband do these things for you?”  And I didn’t even have to make shit up to be snarky in response.  I told the truth, “My husband is at the grocery store getting the things he needs to cook dinner tonight.

** Slight unexpected drama:  I limited the number of girls invited to the party based on the space in our house.  In other words, I cannot fit L~’s entire 6th grade class on the floor of L~’s room.  As it is, I kicked S~ out of the house, and put half the girls in HER room.  I do not have a mansion.  Of course, though, while the girls were out on the Great Hunt, they ran into an uninvited classmate.  It was awkward.  [understatement.]

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Vacations are for Losers (and non-lawyers)

May 19, 2010

A shifting trial date at work has seemingly stopped shifting.  It landed on a day that essentially forces me to forfeit a deposit on a vacation home, and to increase the amount of time I have gone without a vacation from pretty much exactly-a-year to more-than-a-year.

I am the most unhappy person.

At the same time, the Ex is farting around about setting a date for the girls to head his way this summer, and has basically precluded Writer Dude and I from having a get-away earlier in the summer.

The final result of these two converging shitty situations may or may not be tears squirting from my eyes.

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Overkill

May 18, 2010

As I’ve mentioned, I’m pursuing some weight loss goals.  I’m fully aware that in order to meet my goals, I need to exercise.  I’m okay with that – exercise is fun, especially if outdoors, and it gives me energy, and makes me feel strong.

Problem is the timing.  As a full time lawyer and a mom to two, I find it difficult to find the necessary corners of time.  After many a trial & error (the gym at the lunch hour, the gym prior to the lunch hour, the gym in the afternoon, exercise after work, etc.), I have found that the best time for me to exercise is first thing in the morning.

By first thing, I mean 5 or 5:30.

I know this is no big deal for some people.  Some people are early risers.  Some people like getting up before the rest of the house to have some quiet time, and don’t find it difficult to get up at 5 or 5:30.

I’d like to think that the reason why it’s hard for me to get up at 5 or 5:30 is because I’m never in bed before 11 or 12.  Whereas others go to bed at, like, 9.

So I struggle.  I try to get up at 5 or 5:30, but often, when I’m successful, it’s more like 6 before I roll out of bed.  Leaving the house for a run at 6 a.m. means I’m back home by 7 and in the shower and getting ready for work so that I can be in the office between 8:30 and 9 (if I have to … if I don’t have to, I linger a bit more, and get in for 9:30).   That works for me.

This morning, however, I had a meeting at the kids’ school at 7 a.m.  Which meant I had to be in the shower by 6 a.m., and if I was going to run, I had to be outside by 5 a.m.

Ouch.

While it would otherwise seem like a good reason to take a day “off,” I’d taken Monday off, and knew rain was coming in on Wednesday, which means Excuses!!  So I set the alarm.

While half asleep after the first alarm, and as per usual, I started to convince myself that the meeting was absolutely silly, and that my attendance would be futile and wrong.  So I should – of course – sleep an extra hour.  But then Writer-Dude rolled over and nudged me and said, “are you getting up?  for some reason the alarm is really bothering me this morning.”  (He usually sleeps through without difficulty.)

Being the considerate spouse that I am, I hopped out of bed and turned off the alarm so at least someone could ahve the additional two hours of sleep.

I put on my work out clothes, and checked my email, and finally, at 5:17, left the house for my run.

While running, I continued with the “this meeting is stupid.  i hate this discussion topic.  they don’t need me there.” Sprinkled with a little, “I don’t know what I’m going to wear today, and I hate rushing when I don’t know what I’m going to wear.”  And I had to give a little talk to some peoples at work today, so I didn’t know what I was going to wear, and it had to be a suit, and I was definitely going to have to iron, and I was going to have to pay a little extra attention to the hair & make up, for first impression, “face of the law firm” purposes.   Definitely not feeling the meeting.

When I got back to the house, it was 6:05, and I was a sweaty mess.  Resolved, I sat down to my computer to email another meeting participant to inform them of the fact that it was impossible that I would make it to the meeting.  The work!  The meetings!  The train being so unreliable!  No way!

Before I pushed “send,” I looked up the meeting announcement, in response to a small little whisper somewhere around the brain stem (“what if it was at 7 PM, instead of 7 AM?”)

Oh, it was 7 AM, alright.

7 AM on Wednesday morning.  Not Tuesday morning.

Fantastic.

So I took out my frustration with a Wii strength training workout.  Why not be productive, if not asleep?

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As Long as the Mosquitoes Stay Away …

May 17, 2010

We are renters, and based on the median home price in our town, coupled with college tuition barreling down on us, we probably will be for a very long time.

Our first apartment after we came back east was a tiny 2 bedroom with no outdoor space to speak of (although we had an awesome park just across the driveway, where many picnics were had).  Once grad school ended for me, we [finally] moved to a bigger place.

We now live in a duplex on an awesome little street.  And it has a large deck/balcony.

We moved in during the summer 2 years ago, and had to buy a lot of furniture to fill our much bigger home, and outdoor furniture didn’t make it to that list.

Last year, I dreamed of nice outdoor furniture for the deck, but it never hit the top of the priority list.

This year, however!!  It was on my list of priorities.  And this weekend was the weekend to Make It Happen!

Writer-Dude and I have been looking at what’s out there since February, which is when outdoor furniture showed up in stores.  Turns out that by waiting until May, we almost were unable to purchase anything.  (Ridiculous.)

And, as per usual, we found ourselves at IKEA.  I keep saying I’m done there, that I’ve grown up and moved on.  But then I go back!  And getting a real wood table (i.e., not  press board) that seats up to 10 people for $99?  I mean, come on.  It’s hard to insist that I should go buy something similar from Crate & Barrel or Pottery Barn for $3,000 (I was going to say $999, but then I went to their website to check that I wasn’t exaggerating.  Ha!  Their sets are on sale!  For $2,999!!)

So I spent the afternoon on Saturday putting furniture together, while WD did the grocery shopping.  We had kids (ours & not-ours) in and out of the house, and so I took a few breaks to make them food.  We finally set everything up, including our sun umbrella purchased to block the direct sun while we sat & chatted & ate … but it didn’t block the sun.  It was too high, and didn’t quite work.  The umbrella we chose wasn’t adjustable in any direction, and so, we just sat there with the sun coming in UNDER the umbrella, feeling frustrated, and a little sad.

But then the sun went down, and we were happier.  We sat on our deck at our lovely table in our lovely chairs, and looked out at the other 2/3rds of the deck that sat barren & empty.  Hmpf.

“We need recliners.”  I said.  “And flower boxes.”  WD kind of glared at me.  “We don’t have to do everything at once!” he said.  I think that’s what he said.  But I’m not really sure, because my brain didn’t compute anything other than “I will give you what you want right now.”   He then pulled out his iPhone, on which he snapped a picture of some Adirondack chairs on sale at Home Depot.  They were unfinished, but $30.  Weeee!!

So we got in the car (at 8:30 p.m.*) and went to Home Depot.  They had 2 Adirondack chairs left.  The exact number we were looking for!  We spent some time looking at stains and finishing instructions.  Then we wandered.  Guess what we saw?  A sun umbrella – just like the frustrating one already at our house – that tilts!  It was $100 more than the one we bought, but with none of the frustration!  Hooray!  So we bought that, too.

I then spent my Sunday staining the Adirondack chairs and prepping for dinner company that night.  Dinner company that was invited 3 weeks ago to have dinner with us on our deck in our new deck furniture!  S~ laughed at me and said, “you invited them just to force the new furniture, didn’t you???”  That kid knows me.  Maybe too well.

Company was due at 5:30, and so at 5, I started prepping the table.  I put up the umbrella, and tilted it to block the setting infernal sun.  Then I went to the kitchen to make a salad.

WD came into the kitchen, a wee frantic.  “The wind blew the umbrella so hard that it moved the table!  [the table has a hole in the middle for the umbrella] I don’t think we can leave it tilted like that if we’re not outside, it catches the wind too much.”  So I finished the salad and went back outside.  I wasn’t out there for 5 minutes when another breeze came and grabbed the umbrella and tipped it (and it’s 10,000 pound stand) so hard that the table was on 2 legs.

Despite the blazing sun, we were forced to take the umbrella down, deciding it really only worked on non-windy days. Even if we put extra weight on the base, the strain on the joints and the ribbing from the wind would be too much.

As a result, we spent the first half of our dinner squinting through the sun and watching each other’s skin turn pink, and the second half freezing cold, because when the sun went down, the temperature instantly dropped 20 degrees (or so it felt).

Regardless, I love my new deck furniture.  I can’t wait to finish the Adirondack chairs, and to get my flowers and flower boxes.

Two scenes from the weekend:

Scene 1

Sitting on the deck at the new tables on Saturday night – Citronella candles flickering, a fantastic adult dinner of grilled swordfish and salad, with a nice glass of wine.

Me:  I love it out here.

WD:  Yes, it is shaping up nicely.  the only thing I don’t like about it, though, is that I know that you are going to want to do more entertaining.  I don’t really like entertaining.

Whaaaa?  How did we end up together?

_________________________

Scene 2:

Earlier in the day, L~ & a friend sitting [where else?] on the deck, eating dinner while I am sitting on the floor, struggling to build an IKEA chair.  I am using my thighs to close the folding chair just so, in order to line up the holes on 3 different pieces…

Me:  Ugh.  I cannot get this thing into the hole!  It just won’t line up!

L~:  Heh heh.  That’s what she said.

[both girls, plus mom, snicker]

Whaaaa?  She’s 11!!

____________________________________

* This is a new freedom for us.  The girls are now old enough that we can just, on a whim, get up and leave the house.  S~ was watching a movie with a friend in the living room, and L~ had gone out to see a play with our across-the-street neighbor.  It is quite lovely.

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Book Group

May 13, 2010

I have book group tonight.  At my house.  At 8 p.m. I guess if I were home during the day, I’d be cleaning so that I could present a nice, shiny, organized home to my 10 fellow book-readers.  But instead, I’m at work.  Not sure if I’ll be leaving here before 6.  I’d like to.  But I have a hearing in the morning, and prep will be required.  It’s even conceivable (because of the hearing) that I will be hopping in a cab at 7:45, calling the closest of my friends and my husband, asking them to let people in and make them feel welcome.  I doubt it, though.  (Although I did just now have a meeting scheduled for 5 p.m., to discuss tomorrow’s hearing.  So we’ll see what happens.) (Now it’s 6:05 p.m., and I’m wrapping this post up and walking out the door – so catastrophe has not ensued, and I will be home in time.)

Instead, I will be scrambling to hide the biggest and worst messes, to wipe down both bathrooms for company-use, and to shut (and bar) my bedroom door so no one can see that I am currently the biggest slob in the house.

It’s true – I am.

L~ used to be.  She kept her room so horrifically messy.  But then 2+ months ago, she spent the day doing the most obvious cleaning, and then I joined her.  We took her room to task.  We went through the closet, we went through the shelves, we went through the under-the-bed … we got rid of 4 large garbage bags – 2 actual trash, 2 outgrown or disfavored clothing – and 5 bags and boxes of recycling.  It was amazing, and productive, and HARD.  But she’s done a great job at keeping it clean.  Miraculously.

S~ used to naturally be cleaner than L~.  But around the time that I helped L~ with her room, S~ lost all semblance of control over her bedroom, and her floor was covered in 4 layers of mess.  I kept saying that we would take care of it – that I would help her like I helped her sister.  But between her plans and my plans, it seemed impossible to find the time.

Then this past weekend happened.  With my parents coming to town – staying in S~’s room.  Clearly, I could not force them to sleep in a pit.

So S~ and I spent Saturday – all day on Saturday – cleaning her room.

She did very little.  You would think she were the younger of my children, when looking at how L~ participated a couple of months ago compared to how S~ participated this past weekend.

I was so exhausted when we were done – and we never even made it under the bed.  We ran out of time, because my parents were coming!  And S~ had a play to prepare for.  And I had Mother’s Day presents to buy & wrap.

And so yet again, I spent an entire day doing massive amounts of work and cleaning and didn’t spend a single minute in my own bedroom.  Sorting through the massive pile of both dirty and clean clothes and the summer-clothes bin which is half empty, and with some winter clothes thrown on top (and the half that isn’t empty is full of clothes that don’t fit, thanks to the foot surgery/weight gain debacle … although I’m close to making them fit).

So the door gets shut.  Then people won’t find out that I’m the biggest slob in the house.

(Except for, you know, all of the internets.)

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Spoiled.

May 11, 2010

I felt a little spoiled on Mother’s Day, because in addition to the typical home-made cards and well-planned meal, my husband gifted me with a new coffee maker – one of the single cup brewing machines.  It was kind of big.  I love it.

Then a friend of mine called, feeling kind of bad, and spoiled, and maybe even decadent, because she was gifted with an iPad for Mother’s Day.

Then, yesterday, I spoke to another friend, who was telling me about the gift she got on Mother’s Day … a new car.*

I still love my coffee pot.

* to be fair, it was also her graduation gift, in honor of her almost-completion of a Ph.D. program.  [I didn’t get a new car for my grad school graduation, either.]