Thursday, June 30, 2005

817 S.Quincy - Month 14

Marriage is similar to running a small business. There are subordinates to manage, finances to control, property to maintain and appointments to schedule and attend. Pretty soon the dreams that created the entity can become lost. The hopes and plans can disappear into the day-to-day maintenance of the business. Sometimes the CEO and COO have to arrange for a meeting to talk about the big issues in the corporation.

Early last week, Chris asked me to get a sitter for that Friday night so that we could go for a hike and talk about our vacation home in Green Bay. I believe the house presents itself as the nucleus of all the stress and anxiety that probably hangs over our life on an every day basis, but isn’t overtly noticed or discussed. Almost every time we try to discuss anything related to the house, the conversation becomes loud and argumentative at the most – tense at the least. Some weeks I’ll want to lowball the price and take a huge loss, while others I’ll want to maintain status quo and wait the SHITTY Green Bay housing market out. Usually he’ll be at the opposite spectrum that I am which causes a lot of the strife. We are currently “investing” approximately $2,000 a month into this lovely property. Obviously this has to end.

Hiking, for the first time sans preschoolers, we ascended the Rattlesnake Gulch trail. I didn’t bring my camera because it was a business meeting after all. The first mile we talked superficially about heart rates and fitness, the condition of the trail and upcoming events on the family calendar. About a mile in, I broke the peace and descended into a scary place called Real Life. “I called the mortgage guy.” “When?” he responded. “A few days ago. He really yelled at me.” Aghast he asked, “Why would Eric yell at you?” (Eric is a high school buddy of Chris’.) “He raised his voice, after we had talked awhile, and asked me to tell him what happens when you dig a hole. Then he asked me what happens when you keep on digging. The conversation ended with these words ringing in my ears – ‘IT GETS DEEPER!’” Chris and I finally agreed to re-list with a broker. We had terrible luck with the last one and now the price is so low – we really can’t afford to use one. According to Eric, however, we can’t afford not to. About an hour into our hike we were joined by a snake. As we rounded a bend, there was a white-ish snake with criss-crosses on its back and rings around its tail. We don’t know if it was a rattlesnake or not, but it sure scared me. Small, but it had it’s head and tail up and stared at us menacingly. Similar to our real estate dilemma, we were at a loss for what to do. We couldn’t go back – the trail dead-ended. We couldn’t go forward. We had to wait it out.

I’m particularly angry and anxious about our predicament. I am told constantly that this is out of my control and that worrying is misguided. I agree, but don’t know how else to be. How can I not worry about the loss of money that affects us daily? How can I not be angry over the loss of all the equity I’ve earned over the years on houses I owned before I even knew Chris? How can I not worry about being able to even attain a loan to cover our loss, if we do ever sell, for that potential closing? How can I not worry about the terrible toll this has taken on my family? How can I not be angry over this entire thing? I have asked many of my close friends, colleagues and hell – anyone who will listen, why they think this happened. More specifically – what am I supposed to be learning from this? No one has given me an answer I am satisfied with.

Life is really hard. Keeping up with the day-to-day business of running a family is exhausting. Throw in an extra stressor or two, and it can throw people like me over the edge.

As I laughed and danced a lot during my four days in Nashville, I felt strange. I thought it might be because I was unencumbered by my kids. Or I thought that it might be because I was in a really fun city with great nightlife. No, I think that strange feeling was happiness. My boss even commented on how great it was to see me smile. I was genuinely joyful. I felt in control of my time, my money, and my decision-making.

As a kid, I remember having occasional family meetings when we had to discuss big issues. I think all families need to do that. Maybe they should even generate an annual report to assess yearly progress towards short and long term goals. Possibly, if we had done more of this we would not be in the situation we are in. Hindsight is 20/20. I HATE that. I am not good with not knowing what the future brings. I think if I were granted three wishes, one of them might be to see into the future. Knowing the outcome in life would sure save the energy I waste worrying. I want to be more carefree, as I was in Tennessee, more often.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

More shots of my second day in Nashville. Or we could call this another break from posting pictures of my children!

Amanda and I must not be too bright. This is an area of the conference center that we missed the first day because you know, it's easy to miss large trees, indoor rivers and BOATS inside.

Splurge of my trip. New bracelet bought in cool conference center.

I can now die happy. I made it to BB Kings Blues Club.

Our evening could have been re-named The Corruption of Dr. Randy". Of the seven of us travelling together, Randy is the only Mormon. He's been dragged into a lot of bars and has only walked out of one!

Sorry about the flash blinding you, but it was hard to take a picture of the lead singer of the band singing to my collegue, Maggie. It was probably because I couldn't stop dancing in my chair or it might of been the Long Island Iced Teas. What do you think?

New friends on left. Jeff, a.k.a. restaurant-picker-outer man, on right. The woman on the far left is a grandma - can you believe that?????

Monday, June 27, 2005

Out on the Town

This was taken about 15 minutes and four beers ago. A little blurry, but shows that we're having fun. The beautiful woman on the right is Amanda - my work buddy. We had a blast tonight "honky tonkin'" as Katie calls it. In a comment made on my post from yesterday, Katie - a native - was kind enough to tell us what to do. We followed her instructions implicitly!

Lynard Skynard to Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson

This guy was amazing. Nineteen years old and he had an incredible energy. His voice could sound like anyone. It was fun to hear live music again. I have such a love for it.

Lower Broadway

This is where all the rib eatin' and honky tonkin' action happened this evening!

Pure Tennessee

I've never seen so many educators lined up for southern BBQ! I tried to stick to my Weight Watchers regime, but it was absolutely impossible. The vegetable du jour was creamed corn. I haven't had a raw vegetable at all today, but the barbecue sauce I ate today was incredible!

Dr. Randy

Baked apples, three types of ribs, three types of sauce, mac and cheese, baked beans, and corn bread - and he still went out for ice cream!

Airplanes and taxis and buses and trams, oh my!

Air travel, with a group, is much more enjoyable than flying alone. The time goes by more quickly and I don’t have to think as much – Randy does the thinking. He’s a really smart guy – even has his Doctorate in Chemistry. Randy knows when we need to catch our connection. Randy knows where the gate is because he looked on the airport map on the plane before we landed. Usually I wander around looking for the perfect place to eat, but not today. Jeff picked it out, “We’re not eating crappy fast food – we’re sitting down!” Maggie and Amanda provide the entertainment. Maggie keeps us energized with her amazingly positive spirit and Amanda is my rock – calm, non-judgmental, sincere – listening to all of my decompression babble. (I’ve had insomnia for the last couple of nights and the adrenaline I’m running on is finally starting to fizzle now that I’m en route to my conference.)

Travel from the Nashville airport to the hotel was a tad complicated. Fitting five suitcases, five passengers and various carry-ons into a minivan taxi was hilarious, but the guy really wanted our money and made it happen! By the time we got to the hotel, we had to hurry to get to the shuttle stop that would take us to the Opening Night speaker. I dumped my stuff in my room. Looked around in amazement. (This is a super fancy place!) And ran back down to the lobby to wait and wait. Forty minutes later we were taken about 20 minutes to the Grand Ole Opry Conference Center extravaganza – hotels, restaurants, and meeting halls. The speaker was in the Grand Ole Opry House and I can now check that off my list of things to do before I die. We listened to a taped version of Leeann Rimes singing the National Anthem while we all stood. The acoustics were amazing.

A tram ride and another bus later, we were back to our hotel. Walked to a restaurant for some beer and food and collapsed about midnight. Have to say I am pretty impressed…this is a really cool town. Looking forward to seeing some of the live blues I heard oozing out of many of the places we walked by last night.

Oh – if you happen to be in downtown Nashville tonight and see a nerdy looking bouncer with lots of stuff hanging off his belt – don’t let him card you. (Some guy thought Dr. Randy was a bouncer and handed him his card. It was hilarious!)

Friday, June 24, 2005

I think I was Catholic in another life

After several THOUSAND melt downs, on my part, during each of the previous summers that I’ve been alone with kid or kids, my husband insisted that I put the children in school at least two half days a week while I’m off for summer break. I finally agreed and now actually look forward to my Tuesday and Thursday mornings. It gives all of us a break from each other and keeps them acquainted with their friends and teachers.

During my first week off, I needed to fly to Minnesota to help my parents start to get their house ready for sale. I was away from the kids for four days – three of which they attended school. This week we began our part time status at their school. Everything went well on Tuesday morning. However on Thursday morning, Harrison had a tough morning. He wanted to bring his Lego race car into school. (Toys are only allowed to be brought in on Fridays.) Trying to follow the rules, I stuck to my guns until he cried. He cried A LOT. Buckets of pathetic, loud tears filled the quiet school as all the rest of the children participated in Circle Time. He threw himself on the floor in front of the door begging for his car. Fine. I went to the car and got his damn car. I know that it wasn’t the best moment I’ve had in parenting, but I decided I’d throw this moment into the “Pick your Battles” file. When I returned to the scene of the crime, Harrison – still on the floor – was being consoled by the teacher and a few kids. I gave him the car and apologized to the teacher for breaking the toy rule. I told her that he hadn’t slept well the previous night and that I was accounting his sensitivity on fatigue. She quickly looked at me and said, “He’s probably upset because you’re gone so much.” Oooo…OUCH. That one still stings two days later.

Sunday I leave again for a educational conference in Nashville. I’ll be gone another four days. I enjoy my time away, but wonder this: why do mothers, well women in general, feel so guilty about so many things? The obligations and “rules” we put on ourselves are encumbering and relentless. Working moms feel guilty about having other people “raise” their kids. Stay at home moms worry that they aren’t getting enough intellectual stimulation and this is affecting their relationships and personal happiness. Women worry about their weight – more specifically what size they wear. Did you know that J. Jill sizes things about one size too big so that when you go to try something on, you feel like you’ve lost weight?! When I mentioned this fact to a man, he was dumbfounded by the lack of logic women use to find comfort in this information. The list could go on and on.

Bottom line: I wish that I could go to Nashville totally carefree. I will miss my children, of course, but don’t want the concern for their care to consume my thoughts. My husband can handle things. He has been offered a lot of help. They’ll be fine. I am afraid, though, that Harrison’s teacher’s words will be ringing in my ears. It makes me wish that parenthood could be turned on and off like a light switch.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

My Girly Guh-rl

A couple of weeks ago, I took Ella shopping at a mall. She took an old purse of mine, put her “Jammie Baby” in it (named a long time ago for the pajamas that she came dressed in from the store) and all of Jammie’s accessories – blankie, bottle, and extra clothes. We both had skirts on and it was our first mother-daughter outing that was more than a trip to Albertson’s. I couldn’t believe how much fun we had together. I had visions of the future that day – of the two of us becoming friends like I am with my mother. We do have quite different styles, but I think we can teach each other a few things. I do know that she is rubbing off on me. She is affecting my style.

I grew up in an upper middle class suburb of Minneapolis and went to high school in the late ‘70s – early ‘80s. My attire consisted of argyle knee socks, wide wale cords, kilts, penny loafers, pastel button down oxfords and monogrammed crew neck sweaters. I loved every minute of it. When I got to college in Iowa things became a bit more casual and trendy for me. Remember long big shirts over stirrup pants? This outfit was my friend because big girls, with big butts, needed that kind of coverage. My bangs were sprayed tall and I still wore penny loafers.

As I entered the advertising world, and worked in downtown Minneapolis, I would shop the clearance rack at Dayton’s Oval Room for silky blouses. I wore them with skirts, hose and pumps every day. Very traditional. Grad school and the education field introduced me to khakis, casual sweaters and black pants. I lost my bangs, kept my penny loafers, but finally had some income to get different styles of flat shoes. My colors of choice have been black, charcoal grey, white and an occasional navy or light blue. I still dress in a fairly classic style. Solid separates, crew neck collars, nothing feminine or frilly.

Along came Ella. Not being a fan of pink, or femininity in general, I tried to dress her in blue and yellow as much as possible. Pink outfits poured in after her birth, however. Always the tight wad, I wasn’t about to let any of these outfits go to waste. Okay, I never put her in the Green Bay Packer cheerleading outfit, but other than that I dressed her in everything she was given. The “girl” colors started to grow on me. I actually started buying her pink and purple outfits.

Ella naturally loves these colors and lets me know as often as possible. “Mom – I want to wear the puh-ple shirt with the flowers – not THAT shirt!” Every day she gets more and more opinionated about her dress. She wants her hair bands, or “pretties” as we call them, to match her outfit and will only wear certain shoes with certain outfits. I think it’s actually starting to rub off on me. She is a girly girl in every sense of the phrase, and I am succumbing to it.

Last week, I bought blue sequined flip flops while in Minneapolis. I also bought a semi low-cut sleeveless top. Today I actually considered purchasing a PINK sweater until Beth knocked some sense in me. I did get pale yellow instead of white or black which I felt was a move in the girly-girl direction. The final stop in my shopping trip was Victoria’s Secret. I think I’ve gone overboard – I bought a lacy bra. Ella was proud of me even though she insisted it was a hat.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

This is my favorite lake in Minneapolis - Lake Harriet. It is right near downtown, but feels very tranquil and peaceful. I grew up going to this lake and hope to bring my kids here for years to come.

Early morning run around Lake Harriet

Making mud pies

Mama, can I run up that hill?

A frozen Go-gurt on the front step

Bedtime with Daddy - check out his Princess shades!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Home sweet home

Hugged the kids. Disciplined the kids. Ran some errands. Played in the yard. Still exhausted. More later.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Another glorious and sunny day in the City of Lakes

When does one become a regular? How many times do you have to go somewhere to gain this status? Do you need to order the same item each time, or will they just remember your face? This is my third visit, during my four days in Minneapolis, to the same funky coffee shop. I really like it here. I am looking forward to bringing my family here with me when we return in a few weeks. There is even a toy box sitting next to the chair I always sit in. What a different experience I’ll have when I have three extra people with me. I imagine it won’t be as relaxing, but I’m sure it will be interesting.

I’m sipping another Depth Charge preparing myself for the big trip home. I fly out in four hours. My mom and I have kind of hit the wall when it comes to sorting and tossing. We have made a small dent in the house, but I think my trip has energized the whole family. My dad has been working hard on cleaning the deck and the outdoor furniture since I’ve been here. That may not sound like much of a task for the last three days, but when my dad does something – he does it well. He took a knife and scraped gunk out from between the planks. All of them. It’s a two-level large deck. He’s nuts. My brother came by today and is starting a weed killing project. All in all, I think the momentum has begun.

I’m feeling much better this afternoon. We’re all getting along and the appreciative comments and compliments on my cooking/baking are flying all over the place! See…that’s all I needed! My mom truly enjoyed the Pepper Steak dinner I made for her today and even told me that she LOVED my oatmeal/chocolate chip cookies (originally she said she didn’t like chocolate anymore and wished they were crispier). That was yesterday. Today they’re spectacular. I need to remember all of this for the next time I’m feeling upset about all the moodiness in the house.

Everything going on in my parents’ lives is extremely stressful. Why did I ever expect them to act normally? Deep breaths, sleep (which I cannot seem to get!!!) and frequent trips to my coffee shop are definitely going to be on the agenda for the next trip.

Can’t wait to kiss my babies.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Rules to follow when staying with your parents

Rule #1 Don’t expect the key you’ve been given for the Olds 88 to actually open the locked doors. Only the key fob buttons are capable of unlocking the doors.

I had the PERFECT morning planned. Couldn’t fall asleep last night until about 1:00AM and then woke up at 5:30AM with an amazing amount of energy. Drove down to Lake Harriet to run. It was glorious. Fish were jumping, the sun was still rising and it smelled fishy, but I loved every minute of it. I brought my camera and took a few shots before my run, but found much better shots after going around the whole lake. As soon as I got back to the car, I pulled out the key I had pulled off the ring and put in my secret agent running shorts pocket, and attempted to enter the car. No go. The key would not open any of the doors or the trunk. I had to walk up about 5 blocks to my favorite ice cream shop and ask to use the phone. They were less than helpful. I called my dad to get one of my old high school buddie’s number and it was disconnected. After several snide looks, and a lecture about the phone being a business phone, I walked across the street to a bakery where they were EXTREMELY helpful and even fed me. I finally got a hold of my friend who had to pick me up, then drive me to my parents to get the other key and then drive me back to my car. By this time, my free time was gone. No morning coffee with my Internet at the funky coffee shop. No driving around the lake to get the better shots. No, I just drove around finding another key for the Olds and even got scolded by my parents for breaking Rule #1 (“Carol – WHY did you do that?” “I don’t know, Mom, I guess I just didn’t want to hold the bulky keys while I ran.” DUHHH!!!) I know I sound like I’m really mean to my mom. I’m not. I just didn’t appreciate the “talking to” I received. It was almost as bad as the one I got last night when I arrived home MUCH later than they expected. “We didn’t know where you were…what if something happened to you???” Basically, I have felt like a teenager since last night. I can’t seem to do anything right and I’ve become defensive and as crabby as they are. I need to take a deep breath, re-group and remember why I’m here. Or I just need to go get a drink.

Rule #2 Don’t assume that the recipe cards that are laid out on the kitchen counter are actually desired meals.

As I told Rachel this afternoon on the phone as we were planning my first “Meet Another Blogger” date, I am a taker, by nature, not a giver. I will give when necessary, but then I want to be acknowledged. For example, I made a double recipe of a goulash-type dish I had as a kid a million times because my mom had laid the card out on the counter. It is ground beef-based and fairly simple. I separated it out into individual meals and froze it for them. I then baked chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. I had to find the recipe in her box, but she had mentioned last night about ten times that these were her favorites. After I baked and boxed up the cookies, I started dinner using another one of the recipe cards on the counter. Sweet and sour meatballs – again another ground beef meal. I made a double batch which took awhile and while one of the batches was simmering, I went into my mom’s room to check on her. It was then that I was told that she doesn’t really like ground beef or desserts (specifically chocolate). Oh. OK. I didn’t mention that this was more cooking or baking than I had ever done in my WHOLE life because we were too busy re-hashing how stupid I was to separate the key from the key fob this morning when I went running.

Rule #3 When people tell you that you’re in charge, they’re probably in a delusional state and don’t mean it.

Over the last few weeks, my parents have been REALLY nice to me on the phone. They looked to me as a problem solver. I have helped solve several of their arguments (remember I mentioned they bicker quite a bit), I promised to cook and run errands when they came, I offered to help my mom with her physical therapy, etc. Well, now that I’ve been here for almost 48 hours things have changed. My problem solving ways are not as attractive as they used to be. Last week, my mother told me that I was to be completely in charge of their impending move this fall. I was to come in – sort and organize – and then disappear into the night apparently. Things haven’t gone too well on that front. My parents seem to be overwhelmed. I recognized it immediately. They are spinning in place and it is making all of us VERY dizzy. The picture sorting project is still in progress and that is all we have accomplished. I’ll mention potential project areas to each of them and I’m not getting too much of a response. I guess glazed-over-eyes that eventually look away from me and then de-muting the TV could be considered a response of some sort.

Rule #4 Never, ever, EVER listen to “Fox TV News with Brit Hume” in the same room with my father.

I was cooking and couldn’t leave the room. My dad is a man of MANY words who doesn’t really enjoy debating with anyone who doesn’t completely agree with him. It was not pretty.

I’m back in the funky coffee shop tonight. I told my parents that I needed some space. I was accused of spending too much time on the computer. I tried to defend it, but decided that I’m going to stop talking and do more listening. I need to remember why I’m here. My parents are in a terrible predicament. My mom is holding her own, but still very sick. It’s been such a long battle. She has a much better attitude than I would have after this long. I need to focus. I also need to get drunk. Maybe tomorrow I can do that.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Coffee and wireless - it doesn't get much better!

I’m sitting in a funky little coffee shop in south Minneapolis sipping a “Depth Charge” (my new discovery – a shot of espresso in a cup of regular coffee) and I feel invigorated. My new mantra is “Just Do It.” I am accepting my four days of independence and doing what I want to do and saying what I want to say. There just isn’t time to do anything else.

I haven’t even been here for 24 hours, but needed a break from the house. My parents are fine, but bicker like crazy and I feel like a parent to both of them. I have to teach my dad how to grocery shop because he doesn't know how the hell to pick out cheese OR ground beef. You should've heard my mom go on and on. “Six dollars – SIX DOLLARS for cheese. Why did he buy so much? He always buys the biggest blocks!” Also we are going to learn to cook. Did you know that if you let red potatoes boil too long, and their peels start to come off, they are WAY too soft for potato salad. I pretty much told my mom that she was pretty lucky that my dad was even willing to make potato salad and that she should just appreciate it. That went over well.

We didn't get too far today with our sorting and packing. I found about 4 BILLION pictures and that slowed us down because of course we had to look at each and every one of them and recount what was going on in each and every one. It can take some time.

I have also become the physical therapist from hell. My mom is supposed to be walking down the hallway once an hour. She never did this until I moved in. Now I'm the Nazi trainer and she is up - like it or not - walking about 40 feet each hour on the hour. She cries, whines, but I don't give in. C'mon...I know you have cancer and you can't breathe too well, but your muscles are atrophying. YOU NEED TO WALK! The funny thing is that she likes it - welcomes it - and finds it another reason to complain about my dad. "Your father just doesn't make me do things like this. Thank you, Carol." You're welcome!!

Well, my coffee cup is almost empty and I should probably get to the bakery for the dark rye my mom has wanted, but hasn’t asked my dad to get for her because it’s too far away, but she really wants it. My GOD woman! “Eat the bread you want,” I yelled at her.

So, I’m off until I can get wireless access again (and because it’s cocktail hour – yea! For Minnesota and it’s liberal liquor laws!!) Thanks for all the kind comments of support. This is an incredibly weird experience to go through and I truly appreciate the understanding.

P.S. I really think Ted Kaczynski's twin is sitting across from me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I'm leaving my little sweethearts for FOUR whole days. Heading to Minneapolis to start the arduous process of getting my parent's house ready for sale. I'm excited to see my parents and a few friends, but don't really like the reason I'm going. My mom is becoming pretty hard for my dad to continually take care of. They are selling their house in Minneapolis, the one I grew up in, and will continue to search for assisted living options in Florida while keeping the condo they have there for now.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

You say "to-may-to", I say "to-maw-to"

Over dinner tonight:

Harrison: Why do they sometimes call hotdogs, wieners?

Chris: Uh, mmm, uh - that's just what they're called sometimes.

Harrison: It could be because they're shaped the same way as a penis.

Chris: Uh, oh, ummmm, I don't think so.

Harrison: That's what I think.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Last day of work for about 6 weeks! Here's to warm weather, gin and tonics on a terrace, sleeping in (HA!), travelling and relaxing.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Light as a feather




Weekdays I set the alarm for 5 AM so that I can run before work. Weekends are gold to me. The kids sleep till about 7:15-7:45 and I feel like I’m on vacation. Last Saturday, however, I was awakened by a loud “ping” noise. I looked at the clock – 5:24 AM. I jumped out of bed thinking I was late. As I shuffled into the kitchen I remembered it was Saturday and got really mad. Out the window, in my driveway, were four adult men. Seemingly intelligent men until this particular morning. They were affixing extra bike racks to our bunny bus (a.k.a. Warner Bros. Chevy Van with Bugs Bunny emblems) and dropped a wrench on the concrete which awakened me. It was the day of the Tour de Cure for Diabetes. Chris, his two brothers and a friend were riding 100 miles to raise money. It seemed pretty stupid at that hour, but they all seemed pretty excited so I tried to act supportive.

I wandered back in the kitchen with a couple of options racing through my head. I could surf the Internet. I could clean uninterrupted by screaming little ones with sticky hands and dirty feet. I could make a hot breakfast. I could go back to bed. I chose sleep.

The ride took them all day as the starting line was 90 minutes north from our driveway. Also, one of Chris’ brothers is not really in his best riding form. He just started riding about six weeks ago. He did make it, but it was a long day for all. On days like this – when I have the kids alone all day – I tend to freak out a bit. I lose my patience more quickly and I am scrambling for things to keep the kids entertained. This particular day alone was different. Both kids were in unusually great moods. Harrison even asked Ella to dance with him. If you knew Harry better, you would know how amazing this is. This lovely boy of mine does not really enjoy music, let alone like to dance. You should have seen him this past Saturday. He grabbed his sister and led her through a choreographed number. Honestly. I couldn’t believe it. She neither. You should have seen her face when he tried to twirl her. She was so confused, but he stayed patient and taught her.

It was one of those moments I will tell them about as teenagers when they’re fighting over the car.

The busiest of times....the slowest of times

In many ways, I haven’t been writing much lately because I’ve been too tired at night to write about the big stuff. And the little stuff is….little. I made a commitment to myself to write tonight, but the kids decided to boycott bedtime (a trend of late) and just got down now at 9:45 PM. It’s a terrible cycle. They need to be up by 7 AM and struggle with this early rising, but must nap enough at school to feel wide awake at night. I wish I could turn back time. For months they were fast asleep by 8:30 or 9 PM and I would have an hour to write before collapsing in to bed at 10 PM. My days are full – I’m up at 5 AM, work all day, care for the kids in the evening and then try to find energy to do a few things before I go to bed. Now my schedule has become screwed up and frankly, sleep has been winning out.

So after that long excuse, it’s 10:03 PM and I’m going to sacrifice sleep to fill in some of the blanks of late.

Last Friday I took off the afternoon and picked up Harrison early from school for Kindergarten Open House at the neighborhood elementary school. I had felt pretty informed about what’s to come for all of us this upcoming year. Being in public education, and even spending two years as a professional in elementary schools, I thought I knew the drill. Nothing, however, could prepare me for the “cattle calling” – as Beth described it – we encountered.

It started off very nicely. Five of the neighborhood Kindergarten newbies gathered with their moms out in front of our house. We all walked up to the school together. Harrison and Kyle ran ahead, weaving back and forth across the sidewalk and into peoples’ yards, playing hide and seek with us. They would hide behind a tree and then jump out at us and yell, “ROOoooaAARRrrr!!!!” Over and over again. The three girls, on the other hand, walked on the sidewalk staying close to the adults. It was an amazing contrast I rarely see so clearly. As we neared the school, more and more parents, and 5 year olds, filled the sidewalks. I felt, for a moment, like I lived in Mayberry. It was a perfect example of Americana.

The feeling started to change when we entered the school. There was a little confusion about where to go and then we were directed back into the gym. A hum of noise got louder and louder and as we entered the large space full of parents in folding metal chairs and tons of kids. It was Kindergarten graduation. All of the interested parties were in the front of the gym, while we new people were herded to the back. Harrison immediately hid behind my leg and asked to not go in. Not a good beginning. He doesn’t do well with unfamiliar places, people nor loud noises. It was not a good place for him. We watched the program for about 15 minutes until we were excused. Harrison slowly adjusted after he found an accessible water fountain that he could play in.

The five moms gathered up our kids and trekked down the hall to see the rooms. The halls were thick with people and again Harry asked if we could leave. Just wait, I told him. It will get better. The rooms were full of lots of great stuff at his level – big cardboard blocks, maps, kitchen and doll stuff and then he found the Lego table. That was it. He was hooked.

About a week ago, Harrison found Ben’s underbed box of little Legos and dragged it into the play room. He has been building stuff ever since. Finding this little piece of “home” kept him sane and comfortable in yet another new environment. Me, on the other hand, became INSANE mommy. I didn’t realize how crazed I can get when I don’t know what’s going on and feel that everyone else does. I would look in other parents’ hands and wonder where they got a certain piece of paperwork. I’d ask and then RUN to the next room to get it. I frantically looked over the list of things that Harrison needed to know to be ready. “Harrison, you need to memorize your phone number…let’s work on that right now!” (He didn’t even grant me the courtesy of a glance on that one.)

It was confusing and scary to me for about a half hour, but I finally found my comfort zone when I met the principal. He was very approachable and seemed comfortable with my discomfort. I am very worried about Harrison having a good year in Kindergarten. Some of this stems from Ben’s negative experience, but more of it comes from the last year of struggles we’ve had with him. I want him to have an understanding teacher who will care and have patience like he currently has. I want him to love school, not just like it, in an environment where he learns and makes friends. He’s getting there in his current school so it’s hard to think of moving him again. All of these concerns engulfed me as I crazily walked around wondering where the structure was for this event. Why weren’t the teachers in the room for us to meet? (they were in the graduation back in the gym) Where were the registration forms? It went on and on. I was a basket case. My neighbors, God bless them, kept telling me that everything would be fine.

I think the experience was good for me. Kind of like when a doctor has to be treated for an illness or disease – he or she sees the medical field from the patient perspective. I was the patient that day. A new parent in the sea of confusion called “public school”. Experience and intellect usually can guide me through these things, but with Harrison I become a pile of mush. I so want him to be successful and now have an idea of how many parents I’ve dealt with over the years must have felt.

The event ended very positively. I was able to meet the teachers after all as we stayed long enough that they returned after graduation. Also, when the room cleared out, I was able to truly appreciate how bright and cheery it is. It was good for both of us. I calmed down and Harrison loved the place and didn’t want to leave. Now it’s time to get ready for summer. We need to enjoy it and think good thoughts about this next phase of our lives about to begin!

Monday, June 06, 2005

This reminded me of the "Sound of Music". Remember the scene when all the VonTrapp kids are hanging in the trees in their curtain clothes?

Thursday, June 02, 2005

What do you think they are having for dinner?

How long has it been?

Sometimes parents lie. I know it’s terrible, but we usually have a good reason. For example, Santa Claus is a colossal fib, but most people agree it’s a romantic myth for children.

Most of my lies to my children fall under the guise of “parental control”. Once in awhile I will tell the kids a teensy eensy white lie so that they will change their behavior or it makes my life easier. If we happen to drive by a toy store and they clamor to go inside, I have been known to tell them that it is closed (even if it is 2:00 in the middle of the day!) Other times I may tell them that we are out of fudgesicles (when I know damn well that there is one left that I want to eat after they go to bed.)

Sometimes I feel guilty after I tell these “stories” – sometimes I don’t. The other night I did. Harrison and Ella wanted to play with the neighbor girls. I didn’t want them to go knock on their door because this wonderful neighbor always lets them in and then my children become her burden. She’s great with them, but she just had a baby and has two other preschoolers – why give her two more that are unannounced. In all my parent glory, I told them that the girls were inside eating dinner as it was early evening. I assumed they would move on and do something else. About five minutes later I was walking by the front windows when I noticed my two kids sitting in our front yard right next to the sidewalk staring longingly at their friends' house. When I asked them what they were doing, they promptly told me that they were waiting for their friends to get done with dinner. I told them that it might be awhile and that they should play. No – they wanted to wait. (GUILT poured over me.)

Is parenting always going to be this complex?

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


My husband’s job can become all encompassing if he lets it. There is always something to be done. Since we have moved to Utah, he has been much better about carving out time for family and not giving his all to work. However, these moments have consequences. For many evenings that he spends with us, he will often have to go back into work to finish things up. Last night, after we had a great evening with just the four of us, we came home about 7:45 to take baths and get ready for bed. Chris ran downstairs to his closet (a hanging rod in the basement storage area of our “cozy” a.k.a. TINY house) to change for work. He came back up in jeans, sandals, and a lightweight sweater.

Harrison: “Daddy? Are those your play clothes?”