Archive for October, 2010


Thanksgiving – Pass the Beignets!

October 28, 2010

For the first time in a very long time, the girls are going to the Ex’s house, in the middle of the country, for Thanksgiving.  Technically, we alternate years.  In even years, I get Christmas, and he gets Thanksgiving.  Opposite for the odd years.  But Thanksgiving plane tickets are very expensive, especially if you forget to make reservations until November 10th, or something like that.  So for the past few years that it was his turn for Thanksgiving, he had to forgo the visit.

This year, however, I prompted the ticket-purchase in August (!!), and we got reasonably-priced tickets.   I was pleased, because I was anticipating a wee battle over hte holidays, and if he had to skip the Thanksgiving visit, I think conditions would be ripe for strife.

See, last year it was his year for Christmas.  But he went and got his new wife knocked up, and she was due on Christmas Eve or something crazy like that.  So they decided they shouldn’t have the girls for that holiday.  He was afraid she’d go into labor while he was at the airport picking up the girls.

At one point, he started to make noise about how he should get this Christmas instead.  Because it’s totally my fault that he had another kid.

I usually don’t mind being flexible, but with the holiday schedule, flexibility runs away from my inner self.

Long ago, my sister got divorced.  It was after I got divorced.  She has a son, and I have 2 daughters.  We put our heads together and got very clever — we made it so HER divorce agreement matched MY divorce agreement, so we wouldn’t have to fight to have family gatherings with all the kids in one place.

Turns out, the family gatherings really don’t happen all that often.  She lives on one coast, I live on the other.  But still.  If she DID come, we’d both have our kids.

So I didn’t want to give him this Christmas to make up for last Christmas.  I actually did give him both spring breaks last year to make up for that time (okay, so the reason for that was because of my trial that was scheduled for February, the week after their break week, and then got unscheduled for February, and was maybe going to happen during their break-week in April … but then it didn’t happen then, either …)

So yay!  Thanksgiving!  No fights about Christmas.

I was happy for a while.

Then I remembered – crap.  I HATE Thanksgiving without the girls.

Hate.  It.


WD and I have tried a few different things on the major holidays that we haven’t had the kids.  Once, we rented a bajillion movies and stayed in bed all day with junk food, movies, and eventually take out Thai.

Sounds great, right?

No, it sucked.  I was depressed.

We’ve also cooked for the two of us.  And we’ve gone to my parents’ house.

I guess the Christmas where we cooked, just the two of us, and made cocktails, that went okay.

But ya wanna know what sounded even BETTER?


Before I went to law school, WD and I always used to take the girls’ trips away as an opportunity to travel. Even if it was just to go camping.  And we had a great time.  But law school made it so that whenever the girls went away, I caught up with studying.

And since then – this is kinda odd, when you look at the numbers – money has always been an issue.

The only time I remember he and I getting away alone together since law school started is the post-bar exam trip to Europe.  Before law school, when I was making a fraction of what I’m making now, we went to Portland, OR, Disneyland, camping in 3 different locations (all in California), Arcata, CA, and New Orleans.  Since I started law school?  Just one trip.

Weird. I feel like I must be forgetting something.

So I decided this is going to be the time that we go away. And What I really wanted to do was leave the country.  So it’s not Thanksgiving.

We spent months exploring plane tickets and possibilities.  I said “let’s do Montreal.”  We were supposed to do that in the summer, but the Ex’s summer plans conflicted, and so the girls didn’t go to his house when we were able to get away, and so we didn’t get to go.  But we had a great week with the girls.  So I’m not [really] complaining.

He said – Or Vancouver!  Or London! Or Dublin! Or Prague!  Or Amsterdam!

Unfortunately, heading west wouldn’t work. And many flights to Europe were either (a) too expensive, or (b) too soon after the girls’ departure flight for me to be comfortable.

But then, a couple of weeks ago, there was a dip in ticket prices.  It looked like we were going to be able to get to London for $700/each.  Wow!  We started to plan. WD got books from the library.  We solicited recommendations on hotels.  Then I *reserved* a hotel! We did everything but buy the tickets.  Because I decided to pay cash, rather than put it on a card.

So then pay day came, and I went to buy the tickets, and …. oops!


Uhhhh.  No.

We were bummed.  We gave it a few more days, but things just weren’t budging.

So we started to re-assess.  Montreal?  Niagara Falls? New Orleans?

Hmm.  New Orleans.

This would mean I would be in the country for Thanksgiving, but where else in the country feels so OUTSIDE the country, with such flare and character?

New Orleans was where WD and I went on our first real vacation together.  We were there in March of 2002: pre-Katrina, and during the start of the Iraq war.  I have very clear memories of walking through antique shops while the UN did its roll call with yays and nays on the war.  We stayed in that night, to watch the t.v. coverage.

And the tickets!  $400/each!  So much kinder to the wallet.

And the hotels!  The same $175/night  that would have gotten us a cramped B&B in London can get us a suite in New Orleans!  A suite!

And the restaurants!  Do you know how many menus I looked at with appetizers that were only $6???  $6??  How insane!

[Yes, living in Boston with a decent paycheck as changed me as a person.  No longer do I balk at the $12 and $14 appetizer.  I now find $18 entrees and $6 appetizers to be CHEAP.  At least if at a reputable restaurant.]

And so we did it.  We bought the tickets, we booked the hotel, we made the Thanksgiving reservations at a well-reviewed restaurant, and we’re heading out.

We’ve been pouring over the guidebooks and emailing MORE restaurants for reservations (don’t know what we’re thinking, we only have 3 nights!), and we’re very, very excited.





Confession Time.

October 27, 2010

Last Friday?

We watched Rocky Horror.

No, I do not mean “WD and I watched Rocky Horror.”

I mean, “The entire family watched Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

No, not a sanitized version.

The real thing.

Proof?  Mouse is singing in the shower right now …. she’s singing “t-t-t-touch me, I want to be diiiirty!”

Ya. She’s 12.

Maaaayyyybe I forgot just how … advanced. that movie is.

But I didn’t turn it off.

I sat there, slightly squirmy, thinking about how I was educating my kids about tolerance.  About people Who Are Not Them.

And I let it go, and I enjoyed the movie.

So then, when we watched Glee last night, the girls had a blast.  They got the humor when Meatloaf and Barry Botsworth showed up.  They enjoyed the contrast of Mercedes as FrankenFurter.

We had fun.

And we didn’t freak out that a boy was in bed with a boy [okay, man, whatever].

All kidding aside, I think that’s valuable.


Punkins & stuff

October 26, 2010

This past weekend, I subjected myself to my second annual weekend of pumpkin carving.

On Saturday, Lemon had her friends come over, pumpkins in hand, and they chatted about the high school and the people they’ve met from other schools, and they carefully carved their pumpkins.

Then they went thrift store shopping, where Lemon had her first ever independent awesome thrift store find.  She texted me a photo along with the price, and eventually gained my approval.  A cute pseudo preppy jacket in a tartan plaid.  When she got home and put it on,  WD and I approved even more (it looked tight in the photos, like she’d outgrow it within a month, but not the case in person).

Then they came back, and I ordered pizza for the world.

Then I almost had to kick the guests out because of rudeness and mean conversation about a classmate.  Fortunately, my Lemon continues to stick up for people when her friend (one in particular) insists on being nasty.  Often, I let Lemon do it, and just sit in the other room listening, feeling proud of her kindness, and willingness to assert herself with her peers.  But this time, the banter included conversation about chopping a girl up and strewing her body parts around (!! I do not jest !!) and so I intervened.

The speaker-child said, “oh, actually, I’ve had this conversation with my mom, and she’s fine with it, so we’re good.”

To which I responded, “but that’s when you’re at her house.  Right now, you’re at my house.  And it’s not okay with me, and so you need to change the subject.”  They weren’t happy with me.

And I heard them continue to whisper, and I was convinced they were still talking about it, so I LEAPT up off the couch in the other room to stop them …

and kicked a full glass of wine (which was going so very well with my white 4-cheese, garlic-covered pizza), sending it flying.  When I say flying, I mean that most of it created a puddle on the rug, but some of it ended up on the wall! and the picture on the wall! It was a mess.

Fortunately, only WD and I were witness to my accident, and he went into crisis mode while I went in the other room and threatened to send everyone home.

Interestingly, they weren’t mad at me.  They came back over the next day, just as happy and chatty as before my group-discipline.  Of course, my theory is that the poor speaker-child is really starving for decent parenting. Hence her statement:  “Suzie, you know that show Wife Swap?  Well, I think we should invent Mom Swap, and I should switch with Lemon.  Maybe for more than a week.”

Of course, that statement came before the lecture and threat.

And even more interestingly … it came up as I was serving her a salad, and offering many toppings and dressings.  She said she wanted to swap houses because at our house, we have “better food.”

Funny part?  Almost every day that she doesn’t have a scheduled activity, Lemon asks to go to this friend’s house.  When we pushed about why there instead of our house, she cited “better food.”

Turns out, the “better food” at the friend’s house is junk food and snack food, and the “better food” at our house is salads … the grass is always greener.

Sunday was Mouse’s pumpkin-carving day.  Turns out, twelve year olds create much more chaos, lots more noise, and lots more help needed.   Also less gossip and more … craze.  I worried for fingers.  Hence the “more help needed.”  Or rather, forced upon them.  And they were so all over the place, I don’t have pictures.  A few of the designs kind of failed, and one of the unfinished, but partially-carved pumpkins is still in my kitchen (not Mouse’s).

Still, I am always so happy to have both girls’ friends in the house.  I love knowing them, especially as they get older.  On Sunday, with the younger kids, I sat in the kitchen with another mom while the kids were in the dining room – and we could barely carry on a conversation because of the “Suzie, can you come help! I can’t get the nose out!” and “Suzie, are you listening?  I’m telling a joke – I want you to hear it.”  Very satisfying.

But not so satisfying that the second they were done, I didn’t shoo them to the park.  They were just so very loud.  And I got to sit down and finally watch an entire Patriots Game, except for the 15 minutes during which I dozed off, which was also nice … since before I could host five 12 year olds, I spent 7 a.m. until Noon at the office, wrapping up some deadlines for work.



October 25, 2010

Not really sure what it is lately.  But I’m starting to feel all crowded by my kids.  Am I broken?  Is something wrong?  I just want to take 2 steps away, almost all the time.  We’re watching t.v., and Mouse is sooo on top of me, the weight of her is noticeable.

Last night, I was ashamed of my reaction, my irritation, my claustrophobia.  I forced myself to say “hey! she’s 12! She’s so on the verge of not wanting to be in the same room, let alone on the same  square of couch cushion – enjoy it.”  So I held her hand, and ruffled her hair, and tried to breathe … in, and out.  in, and out.


Blind as a Bat. (Or some other animal that can see pretty well, actually.)

October 19, 2010

In early September, I took turns shopping with my girls for school clothes to start off the new year.  Mouse was first.  Because she had time for me; Lemon was running around with her friends non-stop, almost desperately clinging to the elementary school relationships before high school came crashing in.  So I let her, and only threw hundreds of dollars toward one of my children.  Oh, woe is me.

At one point, after lunch and before we returned to stores for the items we weren’t sure about on the first go-through, Mouse had to pee like a race horse.  She was frantic for a bathroom (which is typical – all of a sudden, it’s an EMERGENCY.  You’d think she hasn’t spent 12 years with this bladder, for her to still be so unaware of the early signs) – because I am not the worlds biggest shopper, I was not familiar with the mall, and so we were struggling to find a bathroom.  I followed the signs, but we found ourselves in a strange service corridor.  So we went into Lord & Taylor instead.  Even though I typically avoid the department stores like the plague, because I feel like I spent my entire childhood sitting under the racks in J.C. Penny or some other low-grade department store while my mother combed the sale racks.

So, we’re in Lord & Taylor, and I’m sort of teasing her about whether or not she’s going to wet her pants while looking around for some indication of where the restrooms are.  I see the sign across the store and I say, “hey – there’s the women’s room over there.”

And the child is bewildered.  “how do you know that??!!”  Well, darling, because I read the sign?

(She is a very smart 7th grader.  Finding and reading of signs should not be a mystery to her.)

“What sign?”

“That one, over there.”

“You can READ that?”


No, seriously.




What did she mean?  Of course I could read it.  Clear as day.

She couldn’t.  It was all blurry.

She had her last check up 10 months previous, when she was deemed to have perfect or close to it vision.  So why couldn’t she see as well as her 38 year old mother?

That was Clue No. 1.

A week or so later, after school started, she informed me that the board in her classroom was blurry.  Lemon had been in that classroom just over a year previous and said, “Mom, if she can’t see the board from the back in that classroom, something is seriously wrong iwth her eyes.”


A week or so later, she and I were driving, and were stopped at a stop light.  I noticed her head turned almost completely around, and so I said, “what are you DOING?!?”

“I’m trying really hard to read that sign over there.”  The sign wasn’t that far away.  It was perfectly clear to me.

In the meantime, the school was sending me letters reminding me that she failed two hearing screenings last year, and that I was suppose to get her a follow up scoliosis test from her pediatrician.

I called the pediatrician, made appointments for annual physicals for JANUARY (why so hard?), and had to make another appointment for “Mouse is generally falling apart” reasons.  I also made an appointment with an opthamologist.

WD took her to the pediatrician, because my volunteer doo-hickey thing was falling apart, and I had to deal with it.  I received multiple texts, though, during my meeting, to tell me that her vision had deteriorated from 20/30 to 20/80 in less than a year.

20/80 sounded horrible to me.  But that’s because I have really outstanding vision.  I may even be superhuman.  Even people with 20/20 vision can’t see the street signs I can see from miles and miles away.

The pediatrician said we still might not need to get her glasses – just wait and see waht the eye doctor says.  She also said her son had a blip in 7th or 8th grade where his vision was blurry, and then it went away.  It’s just one of the many, many, many growing pains.

{Both my girls have outgrown their muscles, causing knee pain.  Seriously — their bones grew super-fast during growth spurts, and the muscles didn’t bulk up as quickly, and muscle weakness was causing pain in the knee.  Now Mouse’s eyeballs outgrew their lenses.  Apparently.}

When we had our last physical and Lemon had her eyes checked, she was crossing her fingers that they would find terrible vision.  She wants glasses like she wants nothing else.  She has even considered spending her own money on frames with blank lenses.

But Mouse is very sports-oriented.  She’d need glasses and contacts, for the sports, and didn’t want to deal with that.  She also said that if she’s going to need glasses, she’d rather it happen after her braces are off.  So, uh.  She’s sports and appearance oriented.

Yesterday was the eye doctor appointment.

He felt that she does have some impairment of vision, but that it is not enough to require her to wear glasses at this point.  He gave us a prescription, in case the not-seeing-of-the-board is problematic and we choose to get glasses anyway.  He also said that she may keep getting worse, or it may be the same kind of blip that the pediatrician had mentioned.  But because the Ex is – truly – Blind as a Bat – Mouse said the doctor said she will likely just get worse.  But WD said the doctor said that she’ll probably be back to normal in a year.  They both were hearing what they wanted to hear, I think.

But then all last night, Mouse was doing happy little dances about the fact that she doesn’t need glasses yet.

We’ll see how it goes from here.  Maybe her eyeballs will straighten themselves out, maybe she will prove that she does not share all of her genes with me.  Poor thing.  😉





Head Less Spinning

October 19, 2010

I may have mentioned before – this is not my first blog.

Way back when, in, oh, 2005?  I was a pretty regular blogger.  I managed to post 1, 2, 3 times a day.  I had actual traffic.

This is the second time I tried to get back to it, and just cannot find the groove of consistency.  Honestly, since the middle of September when the trial I was working on ramped up to its full speed, I forgot I even had a blog …

But the trial ended.  And I spent a week or two just basking in my family and my house, and doing not-enough-laundry.

All through the trial and beyond, I’ve also been working on a volunteer project for the kids’ school.   Last week, that went off the rails.  We had a major catastrophe that took up so much of my time and my effort and my emotions, I was floored.

Yesterday, I went to my cell phone’s account on the internet, and could not believe that my minutes for the month were flashing yellow.  I was very close to exceeding them, only half a month in.  That has never happened to me.  We have a family plan with the lowest amount of shared minutes (700).  Because our major form of communication is either (a) face-t0-face; (b) texting; or (c) emailing – we do not use the minutes.  Ever.

This is a good thing, though, because I also have 3,000 roll over minutes sitting there waiting to kick in if we use the final 7 in this month’s plan. I had talked on the phone for 558 minutes.  Between October 2 and October 18.  Insane.

I also was a little (sickly) proud to see that I was the Queen of the Texts this month.  I was beating out both the girls.  I was at 500+, and Lemon had only 400-something, while Mouse and WD were trailing with 100 or less.

So now that the volunteer hell seems to have quieted, the trial is still over, and the girls are pretty well-settled into their activities and such, I will again try to be a consistent blogger.