Archive for December, 2010


Welcoming 2011

December 31, 2010

I can’t exactly put my finger on why, but I didn’t love 2010.

Maybe it has to do with work – it was a strange year bookended by trial franticness, but the middle part with everything in odd limbo due to rescheduling of said trial from March to September.  The limbo wasn’t a good thing for me.

And I had canceled and deferred vacations as a result, so it leaked into home.

I don’t know – it wasn’t a “great” year.

But it didn’t suck, either.

I’d like more from 2011 than “not sucking.”

We’re heading to a friend’s vacation home for the celebration tonight.  Bringing along bags of food and some fun girls.  We’ll have more teenagers than adults at our little get away, so I am certain it will be loud.

I’ll spend the drive thinking about how to make 2011 great.

Happy New Years everyone.

Happy to New Year.



My Favorite Gifts

December 30, 2010

Yesterday, Writer Dude seemed a little anxious about me getting home from work.  I’ve been working abbreviated days this week, partly because of the f’ing flu keeping me slow, and partly because – uh – it’s vacation.  Even though I’m not on vacation.  But almost everyone I work with is on vacation.  I have some things to do at work, but not a ton, and it’s depressing being one of four people (out of thousands!) in the office.  In at 11 – out at 4/4:30.  That’s the schedule I’ve made for myself this week.

But … yesterday some buffoon decided we needed to have a call at 4.  Dork.  Mr. “I’m single and have no kids and am gong to make partner if it kills me, goddammit!” messing with my abbreviated schedule.  (Me:  Ms. “I’m married and I have kids and I’m grateful for this job but I am not about to let it kill me or wreck my family, goddammit.”)

WD started to IM me, text me and email me around 4:41.  “Are you leaving yet?  are you coming home yet?  where are you!?”

Aw, he misses me.

“I’m hungry!” he said.

Which is bullshit, because we never eat dinner at 5.  Or 5:30.  Or 6.  Or 6:30.  Because my job may not be killing me or wrecking my family (this month), but it also ensures that we eat dinner very late on a regular basis.  7.  or 7:30.  Sometimes, it’s really after 8 before we are seriously with fork in hand.

“Okay, fine.  The project I was working on that wasn’t done is now done.  Come home.”

He had mentioned in the past week that he’d been working on a home-made gift for me, but hadn’t been able to finish.  I wondered what it was, but waaaahh!!  the flu!!  I didn’t focus on it.  In the past, he has made me very nice shadow boxes with photos and mementos from trips we made together, fantastic framed photos of the girls, hand-bound journals crafted from antique books, and more.  He has never made me anything that I did not love.

But when I came home to the three of them stretched through the hallway to hold up a ginormous painting that he created for me this year … I was stunned.  Absolutely stunned.  By ginormous, I mean 40″ wide x 120″ long.  He made it for our stairwell wall, which – it turns out – is only about 115″ long.  🙂

It is a beautiful Pollack-esque painting with rich colors and gorgeous depth. I really can’t believe he did it.

For a few reasons:  (1)  I’ve never seen him paint anything before (although I know he has, before me); (2) it’s just so big, and clearly so much work … I know I work all day, but how did he do that without me noticing?; (3) we don’t have a huge house.  How could he hide all of this from me?  I’ll tell you how – he worked in the *attic*!!  The completely unfinished, have-to-go-in-through-a-tiny-door-in-the-closet-ceiling attic.  Heat?  Nope.  Lighting?  Um, no …. I’ll have to ask him what he did about light.

I will eventually post a photo of my awesome art work, I promise.  But today, WD is working on building some frames.

Yes, plural.

Because it was too big for the wall it was designed for (and any other wall in our house), he has decided to cut it into pieces.  I am taking a 40″ x 40″ chunk of it to my office.  The remaining 40 x 80″ chunk will be hung on the wall for which it was designed.



He’s not the only one who got creative for me this Christmas.  Lemon also crafted me something out of her own labor and talent.

She is taking a photography class in high school, and is really loving it.  WD is thrilled, as photography has long been an interest of his, and is something he always suspected she would take to.  The class she is taking deals with black and white film photography, and the students develop their own prints, and are learning the process fully.  She and WD spend hours talking about different types of film, and other stuff I don’t understand.

For Christmas, she came up with an idea for me, and he helped her to execute it.  It is a very nice framed  piece that consists of a series of negatives that she made.  [photo to come soon.]

This, too, I love.  I will be hanging it at work as well.  Although I may not tell anyone at work or here what the inside joke is that it represents …


Mouse didn’t employ any creativity this Christmas, but she did choose for me a bracelet that I have not taken off since I opened it on Christmas morning.  It is definitely another of my favorite gifts.


Room Cleaning Hell

December 30, 2010

Why oh why are my children such slobs?

[because they take after their mother]

Why oh why must I fight with them constantly just to keep their rooms on the very teetering edge of presentable?

[because I don’t allow them to shut & lock their bedroom doors like I do with my own when people come over]

Why, when I ask them to clean their rooms, do they wail and cry and gnash their teeth?

[because they’re brats, and they do as I do instead of doing as I say.]

Why, when I say “yes, ‘perfect’ means you have to sweep and vaccuum” do they act like I’ve banished them to hell for all of eternity?


Why – when they come to my room doing goofy routines from spoof songs/videos they found on the internet in an effort to distract me from making them clean their rooms – does it work?


And so then, why do I stay up until ungodly hours giggling with them, and causing WD to give us dirty looks for being “so loud”?

[Because (a) it’s vacation – for them at least;  (b) the downstairs neighbors aren’t home anyway, so the noise doesn’t really matter; and (c) they are really very fun and very funny girls].

And so why – after a full day of working on them – are their rooms still a mess?

[It’s not my fault.]



December 29, 2010

I’m feeling a little guilty about yesterday’s rant.  It goes against my latest mission:  The mission to appreciate my parents more.  To be more loving toward them.

I am 38, and my parents are 60 and 63.  They were young when they had me, and I am grateful that I have them around.  But despite that gratitude, I often find myself slipping into irritation, frustration, annoyance, when I am around them.

And it has struck me lately – as I see my 14 yo slip into irritation, frustration annoyance with me – that my parents deserve better.

Yes, they have beliefs I disagree with.  And – yes – those beliefs were implemented in ways that have impacted my life in important ways.  But so what?  Whose doesn’t?  What parents don’t profoundly impact their kids’ lives?  Whether it’s religious beliefs, divorce, relocation, job loss, illness — parents and children are intertwined, and the decisions and events of one will impact the other.

Many of my friends have lost their parents, and they have chastised me for complaining about my mother:

Me: “Ugh, my mother is insisting that we travel to Connecticut for a Christmas celebration!  I don’t have time for this!”

Friend who lost her mother when she was 15:  “What I wouldn’t give for another chance to celebrate with my mother.”

That didn’t stop the irritation, though.   It didn’t keep me from choosing not to call my mother, rather than hear cliché after cliché.  It didn’t keep me from seeing my father’s caller i.d. on the phone and letting it ring and ring, rather than hear the usual harassment about why I haven’t gotten on the road yet, or the teasing about the Patriots losing, or something else.

It really is the recognition that my kids keep getting older.  And they will not stop.

Right now, Lemon still comes and lies next to me in my bed, and asks me what I’m reading, and rests her head on my shoulder.  She still wants to tell me funny stories about things that happened during her day (even if I can’t make heads or tails of what she’s telling me, not knowing these new high school friends of hers or their inside jokes).  But there are glimpses.  Glimpses that come with, “can you PLEASE shut my door when you leave?”

And I find myself spending considerable time wondering what it will be like when we reach the phase in life where I don’t talk to these two people who mean so very much to me every single day?  What will that be like?

It will be like shit.  That’s what it will be like.

Will it be less crappy because they’re one day 38 and have kids (babies, hopefully, because they will obey me, and not have children until they are 30)?  No.  Will I ever want to hear frustration and annoyance in my daughter’s voice when I call her?  No.  I will NOT.

So, my parents struggled with me during my teen years.  But they also took care of me when I was a baby, and they changed my diapers, and they taught me how to laugh, and how to have fun.  They taught me about the importance of the family unit, and they gave me a good life.  They have apologized to me for the struggles we had when I was a teen – they know they went overboard.  They know they were over-zealous.  They were finding their way.  They weren’t perfect.  And I have benefited – as a parent – from their mistakes.  My kids will benefit from me knowing what not to do.

And when I was divorced, and they were so disappointed, and when I subsequently told them I had nothing in me that followed their faith, and they were heartbroken, they moved on.  And they continued to support me, and to accept me.  They did everything they could to be there for me.  Through the divorce, through my move back east, through all of law school.

And I am grateful.  And I will do my best to show it, and to be there for them, no matter what.  Without irritation.  Or at least with less irritation.  Hopefully.

[But I was still mad on Christmas.  So there.]



I Guess I’m Still Angry

December 28, 2010

My flu did not go away in time for our trip to my parents’ house.  It stayed with me.  I had my 102 degree fever through the 2.5 hour drive south, through the Christmas Eve gathering with my brother and his absolutely adorable young children, through that night’s sleep, through the Christmas morning gift-extravaganza, through my almost-all-day-long-nap on Christmas Day, through the 2 short hours of Christmas Day that I was awake, through the snow storm that started on Sunday morning and drove us into our car more than 24 hours ahead of schedule, through the 6 hour drive home, where we apparently did not beat the storm into Boston, and through that night where I was unable to enjoy the snow and the wind and the awesomeness of winter.  Finally, yesterday, the fever waned, but I was left a little dizzy and without much energy to speak of.

I was sick enough, with little to no voice, that I could not talk to my husband about many things I wanted to talk to him about.  I just didn’t have the energy for real conversations.

One of things that kept running through my mind to discuss with him happened at the tail end of Christmas dinner, long after I had to flee to a recliner in the other room.  Let’s set the stage.

My dad invited some old family friends over.  He thought they’d come after dinner.  They did come after *their* dinner, and arrived 20 minutes before ours.  So they sat with us through our dinner, and for a few hours after.

These family friends became friends around the time that I was Mouse’s age.  12.  My mom had just found a “church home,” and was born again and baptized.  She had one mission in life:  To Convert My Father.  He had one mission in life:  To Give God the Finger.  Those missions were in conflict.

But then my mom met our family friend, who had long been a member of the church that was new to us.  He was 10 years younger than my dad, but relatively similar in appearance.  Bearded, gruff-looking.  He shared many interests with my dad.  He hunted!  He fished!  He had a motorcycle!  These things were important things in Winning Dad Over.

The short story – he was instrumental in winning my dad over.  My dad – after 3 long years – was Won Over.  Since then, the family friends and my parents no longer attend the same church, and they are not quite as close as they used to be. Even though we were very close for several years.  I think that their younger age lent to them being close to us kids, as well as to my parents.  The wives had less in common with each other, and I got along better with the wife than my mom did.  So family dynamics changed with my siblings and I growing up and moving (far) away, my dad and the husband stayed friends, but independent of the families.  They still hunt and fish together.  Once they came to Boston together, Patriots tickets in hand, and WD and I went to the game with them.

My dad remains very much Born Again and very conservative, but he is a little less conservative – behavior wise – than the family friend.  For instance, my dad enjoys alcohol beverages, while the family friend eschews all alcohol, and always has (freak).  This probably also keeps them from spending as much time together as they used to in larger social circles.  My parents now hang out with other born again people who don’t mind giggling over the fact that their margaritas went to their head.

But the family friend came over on Christmas, with his (only) daughter, who is one year older than my Lemon.   His wife was sick (she had a COLD, not the much-more-serious FLU that I had/have).

I have the same uneasy and relatively guarded relationship with this person as I do with many of my parents’ friends from that period of my life.  They must know – from my life choices and from my parents’ “prayer requests” that I no longer share their faith.  But we don’t discuss it.  I don’t cuss like a sailor around them, nor do I flaunt my Sunday Morning Sleep Ins or my raucous partying ways (ha!).  They may mention people we used to know in common, but rarely will talk about god or their faith with me.

So it was after I left the table that the Conversation happened.  I thought WD was still there.  But he doesn’t remember the conversation the way I heard it.  So maybe his feelers were up, and he left before things turned.  Maybe I hallucinated in my fever.  But this is what *I* heard, and what *I* stewed over for 3 days before I had the energy (last night at 12:30 while WD scratched my back trying to calm me down) to rant and rave with my squeaky-barely-a-whisper voice:

Family Friend’s Daughter:   Dad says I should go to B____ college in Boston. [I’m not being craftily anonymous.  I have no idea what she said — I was 3 rooms away.]

My Father:  Yeah, but not until your third year.

My Husband:  Well, what do you want to do?

Daughter:  I want to be a teacher.

My Father:  You really should just stay home for the first two years.

[small pause – perhaps wherein my husband and the high school girls left the room?]

My Father:  After all my experience with my three kids, I really feel strongly that it’s important that kids stay home for the first two years of college.  It’s a good way to ease the separation.

My Mother:  Yeah, you know, all that really matters is what the degree says, it doesn’t matter where they go to school leading up until then.

My Father:  Suzie stayed home, you know.  She went to college the first year right down the street.  And that was real good for her.   You know, they go from being dependent on you and under your roof to just out there on their own.  It’s just too much.  They need more time to ease the separation.

Family Friend:  Well, yeah, but B____ is a Christian College (why I have no clue what school he’s talking about.  What “christian” college is in Boston?  Also, for the record, in this conversation, “Christian College” means “evangelical born again college” – not “a school grounded in any faith that believes in Jesus.”  ]

My Father:  Yeah, pfft.  So was Liberty.  I mean, it was christian enough when Suzie went, but by the time her sister went, it lost a lot of its values.  [Although, for the record, if my sister got caught kissing her boyfriend, she would have gotten kicked out.  And if my sister wore a skirt that came above her knees (skirts being the only thing we were allowed to wear outside the dorms before 6 p.m.), she would have had to pay a fine.  And my sister still had to attend church 3x a week, chapel 3x a week, prayer meeting 2x a week, and had a midnight curfew.  She also wasn’t allowed to watch television, and couldn’t listen to non-evangelical music without paying a fine.]

Family Friend:  Yeah, no kidding.

My Father:  They really should stay home for 2 years.  It really helps with the separation, and the transition.

Yeah, dad, you said that already.

I think that’s a fine idea.  A good plan.  Worked well for all your kids:  Shelter your kids, tell them what to believe, who to be friends with, allow no questions to be asked – basically, refuse to prepare them for the outside world.  Then, because they are UNPREPARED, oh!  Just keep them home even longer!

Then, when they do leave all the series of bubbles that you built for them, they will not be at all maladjusted, or delayed in their maturation process.  They will not ( in 3 out of 3 cases) rush into a premature marriage at a ridiculously young age, in light of pressure from said bubble environments, eventually ending in divorce.

But wait.

This has been sarcasm.

No, let’s continue the sarcasm for a minute to say – who cares about the quality of the actual education your offspring receives during their college experience?  That is not important.  What is important is the amount of indoctrination received, the amount of oversight by adults who will ensure that children (I mean … young adults) will not be kissing other children (I mean, young adults), will not be watching Rated R movies, will not be dancing, will not be listening to music with lyrics that may suggest intimate relationships with people of the same gender, and hopefully (although less importantly … especially if they’re athletes, or boys) won’t be drinking alcohol.

Maybe I will stop ranting now.  And I will just say … I do not share my father’s priorities.  I am working to prepare my children to be ready to face the world after high school  – whether they choose to head directly to college, to partake in a gap year activity, or otherwise.  I understand that they will not be fully formed upon their graduation from high school, and I am okay with that.  I am okay with them making mistakes during their still-formative years, and making those mistakes away from home.  I feel that I can trust that those mistakes will not have life-long impacts, because they will be leaving our home armed with enough education to know what consequences result from what behavior.  They will leave our home with enough self-confidence and education to know where their own limits are.  And maybe that won’t protect them.  Maybe serious mistakes will *still* happen.  But I will have done all I can – and I will have done my best, and I will be UNABLE to prevent everything from happening to my ADULT children.


The whole time I was in high school, my parents insisted that I get “good grades” so I could “go to college.”  It didn’t sink in for me.  I didn’t want to do the work to get “good grades.”  I didn’t have a goal other than to “go to college.”   At the same time, mother often talked about my future ONLY as when I got married and had children and took care of my children … While I do not remember exactly how I viewed my own future during my childhood, I am not surprised today at my lack of goals then.

I didn’t do well in high school.  I was smart enough – I could pull off my final exams with As and A+s, but after averaging them in with a semester’s worth of missing and late homework assignments, I was a pretty solid C student.

When I was a junior in high school, I started dating a boy that my parents hated. We fought about it.  I kind of won, and kept dating him.  Until they found out that we had … well … that I wasn’t a virgin.

Two years of intense fighting, grounding, family counseling – absolute misery – ensued.  My grades suffered.  I almost enjoyed the look on my parents’ faces when they saw the grades I brought home.  There weren’t many ways that I could return the misery that I felt they were inflicting on me (of course, the entire package of this mess inflicted plenty of suffering on all of us.)  I was solidly a non-college path.

During that time, I had a job in a law office working as a Girl Friday.  I did secretarial tasks, I ran to the court, I ran to other offices.  I did computer projects.  I liked it.  My mom started to fantasize about my life as a Legal Secretary, and how well I would do.  “Did you know that Aunt Marge knows someone who works as a Legal Secretary in the City, and she makes $70,000!!  Just think of the things you could do?”

It wasn’t until spring of my senior year that I realized that everything in my life was about rebelling against my parents, and I was sick of it.  I broke up with the boyfriend, and started caring about school.  I filled out college applications.  I told my parents I accepted Jesus as my Lord & Savior, and that I was sorry for being so stubborn.

But they told me I couldn’t go away to college.  Not until I proved myself.

Academically, it made sense.  I really didn’t get decent grades until my last semester of high school.  Then I got all As.  They didn’t want to pay for room and board just to watch me flunk out.  They weren’t super well off, and that made sense.

But they also made it clear that they “didn’t trust me yet.”  To behave.  Not to slip into my non-Christian ways.

So I stayed home. For my first year of college.

It really didn’t have anything to do with “easing the separation” or the fact that I was “depending on getting everything under their roof for my whole life.”  (What does that even MEAN?)

I guess we all try to do things with our past to make it work for us.  That makes us feel better about the decisions we made, and the paths we chose.  But when I hear my parents contort the things that shaped my life in relatively meaningful ways so that it works for them, it really upsets me.   I think my dad looks at where I am now, and glosses over what happened in between.  Maybe he really thinks that I am “where I am today” because he didn’t trust me to move out of his house when I was 17 years old and a freshman in college.

He looks at me, and sees the first person on his side of the family to graduate with a college degree.  He looks, and he sees that I went to law school, that I work in a very tall building in a very big city.  I live in a city.  I have two teen daughters who get straight As and play sports and have really great senses of humor.

Sure, I got divorced, and he does not approve.  But do you know how easy it is for him to place all the blame on my ex husband?  Just as easy as it is for my ex husband’s family to place all the blame on ME.  So they can continue to love their son, unconditionally, and enjoy his new spouse and his new family.

I look at me, and I wonder what I could have done with my life if I left my parents’ house solid in who I was?  If I didn’t squander away high school rebelling against rules designed to keep me biblical, if I didn’t spend 3 years at Liberty being told how to think, what to believe, what party to join?  And then another 3 years — while getting married and having babies — wrestling with how that all conflicted with the world BEYOND Liberty?  Then another 3 years trying to take this new reality and figure out who I was inside of it?  Now with a divorce, a 6-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a house to support?  Then another 3 years, as the kids inched their way through Kindergarten, first grade, second grade … trying to get my feet under me, paying off the debt from the ex’s ph.d., the years of floundering, and figuring out how to pursue my OWN goals?  Then another 3 years attending law school?

And now I’m 38 years old, my oldest is 3 years away from college which is almost completely un-funded, I still rent in a very expensive city, and feel way behind.

Of course this is not ONLY because I stayed home for my first year of college.

But I believe it’s all twisted up into the point of view that makes him say that.  At least somewhat.



Sweating it Out

December 23, 2010

Now I know why I got Christmas ready in a whirlwind 3 days.

Because I knew I was going to get teh flu.

Oh my god – I haven’t felt this sick in so long.  I can’t even remember when.

It started yesterday with aches and pains … the day before, throughout the afternoon, I could feel my lungs filling up with goo.

And then today – Ow.

But it probably isn’t the flu.  Because I just took a nap, and I woke up all sweaty and gross, but feeling a hell of a lot better.  So, if it was the flu, it was a very quick strain.

I hope.

I now need to finish wrapping, finish laundry and pack the car.

Because tomorrow is Christmas Eve!!


We will excuse her, she is new to death.

December 20, 2010

Ahh, a new adventure in parenting:  How to Force a Child to Attend a Mourning Service.  Complete with tantrums, tears, and foot-stomping.

My children and I are very lucky.  We have never lost anyone that we are close to in a very difficult way.  It is true that I have lost grandparents and aunts and uncles.  But these were people from whom I was distanced by time or geography for some time prior to their death.   My grandparents moved from New England to Florida and Arizona before I left for college, and contacts were minimal.  When they passed away, it had been years since we knew each other, with annual visits in between where there were only the most superficial of gatherings.  I think if we were very close prior to the moves, we would have kept in better touch.  But it was not the way things went.

My parents are very much alive and – for the most part – healthy.  Because I am young as a parent in my community (by up to 15 years, in some cases), and my parents were young as parents, my kids have the youngest grandparents in perhaps the entire universe.   Lemon has this one friend who’s mother (my friend) is 2 years younger than my mother.

Their other grandparents are also very alive, and even healthier than my parents.

Their aunts and uncles are much younger than me or their father.

We have not had any accidental deaths in their life time.

As a result, my daughters have never been to a funeral.  They have never been to a wake. And, in light of us not being Jewish, they have never paid a Shiva Call.

Until yesterday.

Sadly, friends of ours lost a member of their family.  My friend’s father, Lemon’s friend’s grandfather, passed away after a very brief illness.  While it was a surprise that the time between diagnosis and death was very short, it seemed to have been as positive an experience as one could have in such a situation, as there was enough time to prepare hearts for the loss, but not so much time to prolong suffering.

Our family was invited to drop by while the family was sitting Shiva.  I gave Lemon several days’ notice, being very clear that I expected she would come to support her [very close] friend.  She said “okay, but I don’t even know what that is!”  I explained (as best I knew, as this was a first time experience for me, as well, although I highly doubt my last) it to her, and she begrudgingly agreed she should go.

I reminded her several times through the week that we had this to do on Sunday.  She weakly protested: “but he hasn’t even mentioned his grandfather to me, Mom!”  To which I responded, “just because it’s hard for him to talk about doesn’t mean he doesn’t need your support.”  I threw in a couple, “being a friend means doing the hard things, too, not only the easy things.”  I’m sure that was met with some eye rolling, but still general agreement.

Until it was time to go.

Oh boy.

Then she really didn’t want to go, and became a new (icky) person as a result.  “I don’t know what to wear!”  So I suggested what she should wear.  “I don’t know what shoes!”  So I suggested shoes.  “They’re too small!” So I lent her a pair of mine.  “What socks am I supposed to wear with these?  These are too big!  They’re ugly!”  So I suggest she change her clothes into something she likes.  “I can’t! My clothes are at my friend’s house!”  So I suggest she solve her problems just like she would if she were dressing to go to a party at a friend’s house, and not something that was making her feel uncomfortable.

She sat on her bed and cried.  She shouldn’t have to go.  It’s not fair.  She doesn’t know what to say.  She doesn’t think her friend really needs her.

Then she got dressed.

I had suggested a polka dot dress she wore 2 years ago to a Bat Mitzvah service.  When she hated that, I suggested her black jeans and a nice top.  Those were the things that were not at home (totally my fault, and definitely my problem).  But when she dressed herself – finally – she put on very dark wash jeans, black boots, and a nice jacket/blazer over a fresh white top.  She looked good.  Considering that she’s 14, I thought she looked appropriate.

We took her to the service.  Which wasn’t even a service – it was a gathering in someone’s home, with food, conversation, and no overwhelming sense of grief.  Also – there was no body in the room.  Which means it was easier for her than the few such gatherings I had to attend at her age.

My friend said, “Oh [her friend] will be so glad you’re here. I think he’s feeling a little lost.”   She went and sat with her friend, and WD and I mingled some.

She was not the only 14 year old there.  I spoke with another friend who has a daughter in Lemon’s class and said, “man, did we just fight.”  She said, “oh!  So did we!  It was horrible.  I don’t even know what happened to her – all  of a sudden, she couldn’t work out how to choose proper socks!”

No, seriously.  She said that.  Just like Lemon, this other girl was stuck on SOCKS.  They had the exact same arguments we had.  The exact same.

[Also, Lemon was dressed more than appropriately, in light of the other kids there, and the adults.  WD and I were on the dressy side.  I think us non-Jewish people may be a bit uptight ….]

We didn’t stay long.  Only about 45 minutes.  Lemon spent the whole time with her friend, and I think she was a comfort to him.  She apologized to me afterward, and said she understood that she behaved badly.  I told her that I understood, and that she is not unusual for feeling uncomfortable around difficult things.  I told her I understood it was hard, but I wished she chose to talk to me about how she felt about it, rather than seizing up and freaking out.  We also laughed about the similar arguments that went on in all of the families that brought their 14 year olds along.

Then she went out with WD, and she presented me with 2 dozen roses.  She said she brought them because she felt bad about our earlier argument.

But in truth, I think we all know she brought them so I would allow her to go to her friend’s house, despite the behavior.

(WD thought she was more genuine than that.  But, still ….)


No Toys for You!

December 20, 2010

Friday night, WD and I found ourselves without kids again.  It’s been happening pretty frequently for us.  They both makes plans or have things going on, and we look at each other like, “huh, now what?”

This was probably the first time that we didn’t choose to go out to a nice adults-only dinner.  We went stocking-stuffer shopping and wrapping paper shopping, and then came home and wrapped gifts until the girls were due home.  Of course, we started the evening out with the MOST delicious chicken shwarma with extra garlic sauce.  Delicious.

While we were wandering, we ducked into several of our old favorite shops.  But we bought almost nothing in those old favorite shops.

I would have bought something.  We wanted stocking stuffers.  We wanted little things to make the girls smile.

But we couldn’t find anything.  These were the places:

The Paper Source.  The girls used to beg to go there every weekend.  They would buy the fancy paper, and the stickers, fancy pens in all different colors, had a healthy stamp collection.  They’d make art projects, and they would play with origami.  If they had extra money – this was THE PLACE to go.

Eureka.  I remember the day this place opened in our town center.  I was wandering around town, and passed the video rental place (since out of business), and in one of the front areas near the window, there was a huge display of puzzles and games.  I called WD frantic “you have to come check this out!”  There hasn’t been a year since that we didn’t do a significant amount of our holiday shopping at this store.  We’ve enjoyed so many puzzles and games and little toys and gifts.

But this year?

Neither place had a single thing that I thought my girls would be interested in.  Not one thing.  Oh – I take that back.  I bought Mouse some hair clips at Paper Source.  But query why the hell Paper Source even HAD hair clips.  I mean, seriously?

This year, I was looking for the North Face jackets and an iPod Touch, and the tights with flowers and other designs on them, and a black pencil skirt, and sports apparel and a pair of earrings and a sock monkey hat.

I like having a 12 year old and a 14 year old.  They are fun and interesting.  I like that they play basketball and volleyball and soccer and field hockey and crew.  I like that they look to spend their free time going running with their friends, or baking cookies and cakes.  I even like that they care how they dress, and that the ways that they want to dress are decent and attractive (and if they’re not attractive, it’s because they’re oversized, not because they’re slutty).  I like that Lemon is taking guitar and voice lessons, and that she is looking forward to learning Latin outside of school because her school schedule is already too full.

But I do miss the simpler days.  The puzzles and the pretty papers and the little art projects.  A friend reminded me that – you know – board games and puzzles are not specific to a certain age.  It’s not that the girls outgrew them.  It’s that they are just currently interested in other things.  I play board games, and love them.

They’re just busy in other directions right now.  Many of those directions are outside the house and with friends, instead of inside the house and with WD and I.  But not to an alarming degree.  And when we do things together, we have a very good time, and don’t have to twist their arms to get there.

So I will try to take my nostalgia in stride, and not wish for the younger days.  Because they sure had their own challenges, and I don’t miss those.



A Christmas Record

December 20, 2010

I made an awesome Christmas for my kids.  I mean, over the top, spoil their asses off, awesome.

And I did it in 3 days.


And that was definitely the fastest I’ve ever blown through a paycheck.  (I get paid on the 15th.)

But now WD and I are looking at the tree, and the huge amount of presents exploding out from under it – while knowing at least a few more are scheduled for delivery this week – and find ourselves unsure what to do.

See, we’re driving 2.5 hours south for Christmas – leaving home on Christmas Eve morning.  We planned to bring all the gifts, so the girls just have a normal Christmas morning there.  But … we also plan to bring the kittens (so they don’t destroy the house in our absence).  And we have to bring – you know – clothes and stuff.

We don’t think it will all fit.

AND – because the majority of the gifts we’re bringing will also be coming back with us (silliness, I say), plus we’ll be getting gifts from my parents – we’ll have to fit even more in the car on the way back.

So, I’m proud of my success – and I’m even happy with every single one of the too many gifts I’ve bought – many of them are just clothes that i’d probably end up buying them anyway – but I don’t know how to make it all work!  Damn our environmental concerns, and their causing us to purchase a hybrid hatchback car that has little space!

I have a few options –

Open some of the gifts on Solstice Night, which is the holiday we celebrate on those years that the girls visit their father.

  • reasons for not doing this:
    • I don’t want them to go to school on Wednesday going on and on about their gifts,
    • and because it will dilute some of the Christmas magic

Delay our departure on Christmas Eve, and open some gifts in the morning;

  • Reasons for not doing this:
    • I didn’t just go nuts spoiling my family to have to rush through it all so that we can get on the road.  I want them to enjoy the gifts, savor the gifts .
    • and because it will dilute some of the Christmas magic.

Pack super light, and cram it all in.

  • [my vote]

Buy a roof rack and roof carrier for the car, put the presents up there, and have more than enough room for the rest in the hatchback.

  • Reasons for not doing this:
    • $300 in expenses.

WD and I have yet to hash it all out and decide what to do.  I think he believes the ONLY way to go is the roof carrier.  Of course, the kids think it is a fine idea to open gifts early, and they vote for Solstice.  That’s my second choice solution, but I’m also worried that work won’t let me leave in time to have a full and fun evening.

I hope we work something out …




Give & Take

December 15, 2010

Our school play went really well.  Amazing, even.  I was most struck & impressed by the kids who were involved in the play – not only actors, but behind-the-scenes as well.  They are now 7th and 8th graders, which means 12 and 13 years old.  And they are so capable, responsible, mature, reasonable, loving, kind, excited, curious, hard-working … just amazing.

Yet, I finished the play and thought, “I can’t do this next year.”

Even though I loved it.  Really loved it.  I loved being with the students, theo ther parents, the school officials – I loved watching something come together, I loved seeing how I became more and more capable now that this is the third or fourth play I’ve produced.

But I didn’t love waking up the next morning to emails asking me where giant-ass projects were.  Projects I thought I had a few more days to finish.  I don’t love feeling like I dropped at least 10,000 balls while taking care of the play and all of its details.  I didn’t love feeling like I was letting the play down when a work meeting/client conference call took an HOUR longer than was schedule.  (I really did almost miss the opening of one of the shows ….)

I’ve been really struggling to catch back up and to keep up.  And I don’t like it.

Is this the balance I was looking for?