Thursday, May 25, 2017

Remembering Kathleen

I find myself counting down the days, this month. Five more days and you would be turning 50. Oh boy, what a celebration I would have planned! Both your parents are, sadly, also gone, but your baby brother would have been welcome. I'm thinking a dinner cruise around our pretty lake.

You would have loved our cute little house out here in the 'burbs. My boys would have loved their Aunt Kathleen as much as I still do, of this I am certain.

I miss you. Happy Birthday, bestie! BFFs (oh, that's best friends forever. You missed the whole acronym and texting generation, thankfully, because I'm pretty sure you would hate it. You always loved a nice long phone call or letter.)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Something Fishy

I spent the past week playing single mom again. Darling husband went to Tennessee for a work thing. He missed soccer practice, the spring concert (Max played the flutophone and sang with his class), a soccer game (Max's team won and are currently undefeated!) and the Spring Carnival Dance. What's a carnival dance, you ask? Well... they combined a typical school dance (kids dressed up and dancing to music from our awesome local DJ) and carnival games. Max won a fish.

*groan*

Here we go again. Fish fever!

About 10 years ago, Tyler won a fish at a carnival. That precipitated a trip to PetSmart for a small desktop fish tank, chemicals (to dechlorinate the water), food, and decorations. Then came "my fish is lonely" followed by, "my fish died" followed by, "now that one needs a friend", followed by a large bag full of new fish, a larger tank, more decorations, guppies giving birth, fish cannibalism, fish segregation, an even larger tank, and so on.

Knuckles and Tails

Guppies

[deep breaths]

This lasted a few years until the last of the fish sadly passed on and the tanks were emptied, washed and retired. Until Friday night.

Enter Fishy the goldfish:
Max came home with fishy at 9:30pm, quite triumphantly, and shortly after that, the dad came home after a long day of travelling. He wasn't too happy to meet Fishy, but he also wasn't falling into bed (as he so desperately wanted to) until Fishy was happily ensconced in a sweet new home. Out came the middle sized tank and a slew of decorations. Water was dechlorinated and added to the tank, Fishy was carefully acclimated to his new environment then gently poured from his clear plastic bag into his swanky new digs. The dad fell into bed shortly after midnight. Max was THRILLED with Fishy's new setup and had a hard time settling into bed.

I prayed Fishy hadn't been through too much trauma and would survive the night. We are now on Day 3 and he is happily swimming. He's just a tad skittish. Took me ages to get that macro shot, but I was happy to have something interesting to shoot. Haven't taken out the good camera in a while and the macro lens had some cobwebs. I exaggerate only slightly. Ha!

We are a fishy family once more. "What, hun? You are headed to PetSmart?" *sigh*

Friday, April 07, 2017

Foodie

I love food. It's a passion, an addiction, and one of the few things I can still enjoy - albeit with a great deal of associated guilt since I need to lose weight.  This week was almost thrilling with all the culinary variety. But first, a funny story. A friend in England invited me to play a game on Facebook. I've pared down the number of games I play considerably over the last few years as it was getting way too time-consuming and nearing addictive levels. Pretty much, I was spending 10-15 minutes each day on Candy Crush (just long enough to burn through my 5 lives) and a couple other games that didn't take a great deal of time or concentration. I'd received other invitations to play different games...mostly card games or gambling type things. Meh.

Then came Margaret's invite to play Tasty Tale. I don't know what whim drove me to try it. Maybe because it was another puzzle game like Candy Crush and didn't require a significant time commitment. Maybe because it was another food themed game. Are you sensing a trend here? Yes. I breezed through the first few restaurant levels pretty quickly. Then came my job at a German restaurant. Each level is a restaurant that serves a certain type of food and each round is a recipe you need to complete. Now, I like German food...but there were recipes for dishes I'd NEVER heard of before. It got me really curious! Before I knew it, I was on Google looking up these foods and finding real recipes for things that sounded REALLY good. There is a German restaurant right around the corner from us here, and I was tempted to call and see if they made any of these dishes. In reading the recipes, it swiftly became apparent that some of the ingredients would be difficult to find and the dishes complex and hard to prepare.

Then came the Greek restaurant level. I also adore a fair number of Greek foods and was pleased when those dishes were popping up as I played. Then came recipes for things I'd never heard of, again. Google!!  One recipe was for a Greek soup that, based on the article I read along with the recipe, was sort of the Greek equivalent of Mom's chicken noodle soup or Mac n Cheese. Pure, simple comfort food. And the recipe was really easy. Fasolada! So I made it. Greek white bean soup. And it was amazing. A couple days later, Max and his Dad decided to stop and eat someplace that was new to Max after his soccer game - a Greek-run diner in Wharton. Would I like them to bring something home for me? Why, yes! Yes I would!  I swiftly ordered spanakopita (Greek spinach and feta pie.) Heaven.

Then, tonight, Max and I had the chance to eat Japanese food. Still high on my culinary adventures, I ordered crispy duck spring rolls. I also got the chance to try these little strawberry mochi cakes. My stomach is so happy, I'm giddy.  I'm so so happy to be eating things outside the rut we've been in. I don't know how it happened, but our kids are rather picky eaters. The teen is EXTREMELY picky. Max is less so, but still very particular. He has one bad experience with a restaurant and that's it. He never wants to try anything else from that place ever again. There aren't that many places around here we can talk both boys into eating from. It can get very frustrating. We get tired of making the same 2 kinds of eggs, 1 kind of pasta, fish sticks or chicken strips every single night.

So, for this moment, I am giddy. New taste sensations! I need more. I want MORE. I don't want to have to cook 4 different things to keep the peace and feed the people in this house. It's too exhausting. We eat out way more than we probably should, but oh how I want to use that opportunity more to my advantage. I wonder if I can convince the kids to try German food this weekend. The Black Forest Inn does take out! I checked! :)

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Random thoughts...

Events of the day: a lengthy power outage, a trip to the pediatrician to confirm our suspicions that Max has a concussion (he does), trying to prep for Easter while keeping my boy resting and away from screens and/or reading (he is supposed to be resting his brain. RESTING! He doesn't know the meaning of the word.)

A scare with my left leg (chronic inflammation and a build up of scar tissue leads to a higher risk of infection and I had a large blister on my shin for over a week that I watched, swabbed with alcohol, and lightly coated in antibiotic ointment) but it seems to be ok for the moment.

And an inability to concentrate or focus my thoughts. This leads to disjointed blog entries that don't make for very entertaining reading. You'd think I was the one with the fresh traumatic brain injury. Bleh.

Oh! He got the concussion while playing with a friend after school. Got hit in the head with a swing. Yep. Just as I was getting comfortable with him hanging out on the playground after school to play with friends. I will try very hard not to turn into a smother. :)

Monday, January 30, 2017

A blast from the past...

A couple months ago, my darling husband decided it was time to REALLY clean out the garage. He was determined to get rid of at least half the junk we had stored in there to make room for our cars. (Really. Why have a garage if you can't fit your car in it, right?)  At one point during that weekend long cleaning spree, he brought me a box. "This has been in the garage since we moved here! Go through it please. I think it's gotten wet a time or two, so no telling if the contents survived..."  I held my breath and prepared for the stench of damp, rodent remains, and/or insect activity.

There was evidence of all three (plus a faint whiff of cat pee) but the contents of the box soon made me forget all that.  It was like opening a time capsule. This box had been packed in 1988 or so when I left home to move into my new apartment and hadn't been touched since.  It just moved with me every time I got my junk together to go to a new place. I probably peeked in there a time or two, saw it contained just random memories and never bother to put any of it away. Or throw any of it away.

It took me several days to sort through the contents. I posted a bunch of pictures on facebook, but here are some examples:





















These are some old, unfinished pencil sketches from my more artistic days. I used to draw all the time.

Menus from my time working at Friendly's as a waitress. (We were required to memorize the menus.)

There were cancelled checks from bank accounts I didn't even remember having, pay stubs from long forgotten jobs, misc. stationary, a pack of old photos - some from my college days that I'd all but forgotten.

The girl on the left was my first college roommate, Melissa, and the girl on the right was my last (and very best) college roommate, Jennifer. I am still in touch with Jenn. She's awesome!  Search my blog if you want to read the story I posted years ago about my first roomy. Ha! It's a good one.

The very last item in the box was a small white envelope with the address of a photography studio in Florida stamped on it. The envelope was in really rough shape, but I wish I'd taken a picture of it before throwing it out. I'm curious now about the photographer/studio.  The envelope contained fourteen 35mm slides. The first photo shoot for my modelling portfolio, from what I could see holding them up to a lamp.  Unfortunately, less than a month earlier, I'd disconnected and gotten rid of my old flatbed scanner (it had a transparency adapter.) It wasn't compatible with Windows 10 and was just collecting dust.  How was I going to scan those slides and digitize them for posterity?

I popped on to Amazon and almost immediately found a handy little device called the F2D Mighty from Wolverine. A film to digital converter. It was reasonable inexpensive and could not only handle my slides, but a bunch of other film types too. Sold!

I got it up and running this weekend and scanned all my slides in.

Hey! It's 80's me! Back when my mother was certain I'd be the next Cheryl Tiegs or Brooke Shields. Ha!  No. My modelling career never really got off the ground. I hated the entire process. I had no confidence or self-esteem at that time. I was tall, awkward, shy, and broken. One runway show and a catalog shoot and I was done. Except for the Miss Teen pageant my mother also pushed me into. Ugh. I think I already blogged about that too. Ah, 80's nostalgia. That was a great but horrible time.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Annual Christmas Anxiety

Funny, I seem to post all the funny and lighthearted stuff on Facebook and all the serious, thoughtful, or bitchy stuff here in my journal. Go figure. *snort*  Anyway, it's a few days until Christmas and I haven't started wrapping gifts yet. I do this every year. I look at the piles of things to be wrapped, get overwhelmed, and say "Nope. I'll do it tomorrow." At the same time, I look at all the boxes from Amazon and wonder... Did I get enough?

Does anyone else do this? Look at your piles of shopping and have that fearful moment of doubt? I'm sure people who stick with a strict budget and/or operate from a set list probably don't. I'm a mood shopper. I start with a thing here and there in September, maybe one or two in October, a bunch in November (particularly on cyber Monday) and then go a little nuts at the beginning of December. I mean, I kinda have a budget. I use the points I have saved all year on my Amazon credit card. But we always end up going over that. Usually one of the boys will suddenly say "Oh! I'd really like ___ for Christmas!" and I panic. I didn't get that! That's the first I am hearing about it! Is that the most important thing??? The TOP want?

So, here we are, just a couple days until Christmas and I look over these piles and feel anxious. Did I get that top want? The most requested items all year? Does a 10 year old really need a cell phone? Did I get way more for one kid than the other? Yes, they have both heard the line "Don't expect a lot, because you ask for expensive things. That means less for other stuff!" But that doesn't mean they won't be crushed if one kid has 10 things to open and the other only has 3.

I know, I know. Christmas isn't about just getting stuff. But this post isn't about the real "reason for the season." It's just about gift anxiety and my annual procrastination of the wrapping. I actually LIKE wrapping gifts, it just takes a lot of energy and I have to be in the right head space. It is backbreaking work and I can drive myself crazy with wanting everything just so.

At least this year I know I have plenty of paper and tape. Some smart person told me to get stuff on sale after the holidays and I actually listened, for once. Yay me! Now if only I could remember what we did will all the saved gift bags from last year...

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Fog

A friend posted a series of photos to Facebook this morning of the fog banking around her home. I've always loved the fog. When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time imagining what heaven would be like. In the movies, it was always puffy white clouds underfoot and people with little wings springing from cotton ball puff to cotton ball puff. Walking on clouds! How cool would that be?!

Then I took my first plane ride and realized that clouds were far from solid. We went up, the sky went away, and it was like being in dense fog. Sure, once you were ABOVE the clouds, you got that big screen heaven look. That trip through though...that was a thing. From that point on, every time fog rolled in, I would do a little dance. I was IN a cloud. INSIDE one! I wanted to shake people. Did they see it? Did they realize??

I took a lot of science classes over the years and learning the nitty gritty about cloud formation and how it was just water vapor...that took some of the magic out of it for me, but not all of it.

Seeing those photos made me remember a long ago trip we took to San Francisco. It was the beginning of July, but the city was completely fog-bound and chilly. We walked up the pedestrian walkway of the Golden Gate bridge on July 4th along with a ton of other folks and slowly rose up out of the clouds with the height of the bridge. Up there, the sun was shining (but setting) and the glow reflecting off the city skyline, shrouded in mist, was so stunning it made me cry.

Then the fireworks started.

That was pure magic! The low altitude bursts were IN the fog and it lit them up with this unearthly glow. I leaned against the rail and snuggled close to my guy just entranced with the show. Fog is amazing.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Fall again

While I am eternally grateful to the inventor of modern air conditioning, I am so happy at the change in the weather. I have the window in my bedroom open and breathing crisp cool air is so much better than chilled and stale air. Plus I get to listen to all the activity in my backyard! The squirrel population has really rebounded this year. The past couple years I saw maybe one scrawny squirrel in my infrequent travels around town. Now there are 5 warring fiercely in my own back yard. They fight daily over territory and acorns. We have a metric ton of acorns out there, so they really don't need to squabble over every one, but I think they enjoy it.

The largest of the group (called a scurry, according to Google) has quite a personality. He runs to the edge of the grass and watches me when I pull into our driveway. I say "Hey, Ookla! How's it going?" and he will chitter at me. It sounds like "mok mok mok" to me, hence the obscure cartoon reference name. :)  He lets me get rather close before twitching his tail and scampering off.  I see him being kind of a jerk to the other members of his scurry, however. He's a bit of a bully and rather greedy. He's sure is cute tho, and bold. Very bold.

I'm hoping to get him to pose for a photo soon. Maybe with the lure of some cat food.

Back to enjoying the night air...

Thursday, October 20, 2016

My boys

I read something recently that got me thinking. If I were to die suddenly and, years from now, my boys decided to read this dusty old blog (assuming it's still floating out here in the interwebs in years to come) what is the one thing I could write that would tell them how much I love them?

For my boys - When each of you were placed in my arms, I felt like the luckiest mother on the planet. I loved holding you, singing to you, reading to you, changing your diapers (well, maybe not the explosive ones), bathing you, dressing you up, making you feel better when ever you were sick, scared, or hurt, and taking you out to show you the world.

As you grew, I was so proud of the people you were becoming. One fiercely independent, brave, strong and opinionated. One gentle, wise, kind, and loving. My greatest wish for you both is that you find love and happiness in your life. Success is also nice, but I'll trust that you have the wisdom and strength to find something you are good at and that gives you a steady income.  Or a wealthy spouse. That works too. ;)

I love you boys. No matter how much you fight the rules or battle with me and your dad, we will both always love you and support you in the best way we know how.

Just remember this! Mommy loves you! Always!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Bacteria!!!

People already think I'm weird (and I rather embrace my oddity) so...here goes.

I have IBS. Have struggled with it (and a host of other health problems) for many years. Several people have recommended I try a probiotic supplement to help alleviate symptoms. A month ago I finally bought one that came highly recommended - 6 strains of "good" bacteria for my gut health.

Yay?

...

I haven't been able to take it. Why? It's bac...ter...i...a... Bacteria! I am going to swallow bacteria on purpose. Deliberately.

*shudder*

I know they use it to make cheese and yogurt. I know this. But that bug makes tasty tasty food. Food that rips my guts apart (because lactose) but still...tasty tasty food. This is a little pearl of BACTERIA. 6 kinds!!!

Someone reassure me this isn't crazy and that people do this all the time? Thanks.


On an even lighter note, my baby turned 10 on the 3rd. TEN. He is double digits. *sniffle* Here he is being blown away by a suspiciously large birthday candle the teppanyaki chef stuck into his fried rice that turned into a fireworks show. That was awesome.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

When I was your age...

Remember our parents saying that? "When I was your age...we walked 5 miles, uphill, through the snow just to get to school!" or wherever. Us kids would laugh. Sure, sure you walked so much further than we have to.  But I did do a LOT of walking and bike riding when I was a kid. A ton! I found myself thinking have I ever used that line on my kids?

I spent today in bed nursing a stomach bug when Max (age 9, almost 10) came bouncing in. He'd had a full day of soccer fun with his dad (opening day ceremonies and events) but once they got home, the dad headed for a much needed nap in his office and Max said he was lonely. Why? Half the house was resting and big brother had gone for a walk (or bike ride) to the store.

My teen walking to the store is not a new thing. His therapist told him quite a while ago that if he was feeling bored or angry or frustrated, go take a walk!  I suggested he walk to the QuickChek in Netcong. It's not too far. We always make sure he has pocket money and having a destination in mind rather than wandering aimlessly is a good idea. (He does enjoy wandering aimless too, tho.)

I'm pretty sure my childhood home was a LOT further away from any convenience store than we are now. That got me thinking again. Just how much further did I have to ride my bike to get to my favorite country store than my teenager has to walk?  Can I use that "I had to bike 5 miles through the snow just to get a sack of Swedish Fish!" line?

Thankfully, we have Google Maps, Directions and Street View now. I hopped on my computer and plugged in my street address from my middle school years. That's about the age I got really independent and rode my bike anywhere I wanted to go. I wasn't supposed to leave the neighborhood, mind you. But I did, just the same. I didn't know the street address for the places I'd ride to when I was a kid, so I just used street view and virtually rode down the roads I remembered from my youth.  Memory is a funny thing. The shortcuts of my childhood were not easy to find! The landscape of my old home town and the surrounding towns has changed so much that one of the stores I used to ride to I can't even locate the general area. It's all industrial with large corporate buildings now. No farm stand and country store anywhere around.

So I rode my virtual bike in the opposite direction and went downtown looking for my second favorite country store. That ride was shorter, but much more hazardous at the time. The roads to get there were much more heavily traveled. I cruised through town following my old bike route (I stuck to back roads where ever I could in a effort to be safe) and finally located the side street where the store used to be. Gone. Torn down for a stretch of shops that looked "colonial" but were not actually 200 years old like the old converted house/store had been. I could go on a tangent here about tearing down history, but I won't.

3.5 miles from my old house to the spot where the Ye Olde Bedford Country Store used to be. That's 7 miles round trip. No wonder I was so fit back in those days, despite the asthma! But I probably undid a lot of that good by spending all my savings on penny candy. *snort*

Back to the teenager and Google. How far is it from our house to QuickChek? 1 mile. So that is a 2 mile, round trip, walk.

Kids! When I was your age, I had to bike 7 miles down sometimes dangerous roads to get to the store!

Heh. Yep, that will be quite satisfying.

1 mile from home to QuickChek

3.5 miles from childhood home to the country store

Sunday, September 04, 2016

MOPs? Where did it all go wrong?

For those readers with teenagers, first of all, my sympathies. Remember the good old days? When the kids were little and we were MoPs? Mothers of Preschoolers? There was a mom's group with that name that I always meant to join, but chasing after preschoolers is very time consuming. Then you blink and they are starting high school.

That adorable little boy who would hold my hand to cross the street and would run to me when he got hurt so I could make it all better is now in high school. How did that happen?

What's worse, I seem to have lost that deep connection we once shared. We went everywhere together. Did everything together. Mommy and her little buddy. He helped me shop (he just loved to grab things and put them in the cart. We totally needed 12 cucumbers and a jumbo pack of adult diapers!) He helped me unfold laundry. He helped me mess up the house. We watched hours of Bob the Builder, Maisy Mouse, and Little People. Over and over and over. Oh and Caillou. Gosh how he loved Caillou.

He got a wee bit older, but it was still the two of us. Now we loved Ninja Turtles and Pokemon! And any video game with Mario in the title. We'd network our Gameboys together and play mini-games and Mario Party for hours.

Even when the baby brother arrived, everything was great. The baby watched while we played. We looked forward to a time when he'd be able to play with us. It was going to be GREAT!

Then came the accident. The driveway was a sheet of ice...but it was February 14th and I would risk death rather than have my little man miss his big class party and exchanging all those Valentines we'd stayed up late to finish. I'd just strapped the boys into their car seats when my legs just went flying out from under me. I impacted the ledge of the minivan with my ribs, my head hit the car seat and my knees came crashing down onto the ice. I'd never felt pain that bad in my life. I blacked out, but not for long, I think. I came back to my senses and heard Tyler calling "Mommy? Mommy?!" and was able to get him to grab an extra blanket from between the car seats to put over Max. It was below freezing out and the sliding door on the van was wide open on the baby's side. I was on the ground, unable to move.

My brain raced from one scenario to the next. My husband was out of town. No way I could call him for help. I called him anyway, after Tyler was able to get my phone out of my purse. The daddy was in a meeting and I was barely able to talk, the pain was so bad. I couldn't convey the seriousness of the situation and he was impatient with me. I hung up. I could call my mother in law, but she was over 30 minutes away and who knew how long it would take her to get ready and get out the door. It was 7:45 in the morning! Neighbors? I wasn't thinking clearly enough to remember anyone's names, never mind phone numbers.

911? I probably needed to go to the hospital, but...what would happen to my babies? I knew they wouldn't leave them sitting alone in the driveway in a freezing cold vehicle. Would they be allowed in the ambulance? Probably not. The police or someone would probably take them away somewhere. The thought of how scared they would be by seeing me carted off in an ambulance and then put into the care of strangers just horrified me. I had to get up! I had to get off the ice!

I couldn't put any pressure on my knees. I just knew something was fractured. Same with my ribs. I grabbed what ever I could with my hands/arms and tried to drag myself upright, but the ice was too slick. 40 minutes I lay on the ice, struggling. It amazes me that no one saw me there or came to help. Finally, my cell began to ring. It was the school nurse looking for Tyler. I told her what had happened. She offered to drive over to the house and help! She also offered to call paramedics. I told her I was trying to get up but I would call her if I needed help, but that I didn't think we'd make it to school that day. I think I had a head injury too (AGAIN) so that could account for the epic levels of stupid mixed with my introverted "good god no, I don't want all those strangers showing up at my house" tendencies.

I did finally manage to get to my feet, free the boys from their car seats, and Tyler helped Max across the ice and into the house. I was moving very slowly and limping badly. The pain had me seeing large black spots in my vision. If I fell again on the way back into the house...well, we won't go there. Things were already bad enough.

The next two days are a blur until John got home from his trip. I honestly don't know how I managed. I could barely walk or move. I couldn't sleep, the pain was so bad. He pressed me to go see a doctor. The thought of trying to get back down those stairs, into a car, drive 30 minutes, and then walk across a lot all the way to my doctor's office...it was too much. Of course, my regular doctor wasn't available. The guy who saw me took a poke at my knees and ribs, saw the massive bruising and said "You need to go straight to the ER. There's nothing I can do for you here. You need x-rays!" He did give me some pain meds. But I just couldn't bear the thought of getting back to the car, going to the hospital and sitting around the ER for gosh knows how long. I was ready to drop dead as it was.

I just cried and cried. I wanted to get back home, take pain pills and finally get some sleep. So that's what we did. Stupid again.  2 years before I could put any pressure on my knees. Every cough/cold and I was separating a rib. They never healed properly. I ended up with a cane, then a walker. I couldn't do much of anything after that.

I keep coming back to that time. Was that when I lost my boy? Mommy couldn't keep up any more? Mommy wasn't as much fun? Mommy couldn't do as much around the house, so Daddy had to take up the slack which made Daddy cranky... He knew I fell and hurt myself. But I don't think he could process just how broken I was.  And the poor baby. He wasn't even 2 yet. He never got to have the Mommy who could get down on the floor and play. Who could sit in circle time at Gymboree and play. Who could play at the park, rather than just barely make it to the bench. Who could walk around the lake and skip stones into the water. The fun Mommy. The active Mommy.

Really. Who wants a broken Mommy?

He's just so angry with me all the time now. I know. Teenagers can be difficult. They can say things that are like a knife to the heart. We would argue. Debate endlessly. He'd say things he knew I would find offensive, horrifying and awful. He blames me for everything wrong in his life. Everything.

Today he tells me I am the only one he can't stand. The one person on the planet he acts this way with. He wants to hurt me. He won't listen to me any more. He says everything I say is a lie.

I just want him to stop picking on and hurting his brother. I ask nicely, at first. I say please (at his request.) He ignores me. He doesn't speak to me. I keep hoping I can get through to him. Remind him of what we had. We were so close. I am on his side. In his corner. Always advocating for him. Wanting the best for him. Wanting him to be happy and healthy.

He hates me. And I don't know what to do anymore.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Avon

A friend on FaceBook posted the following image today and it was like a mental time machine:

Avon lipstick samples

Oh my gosh! It's the 70s and my mom's friend, our neighborhood Avon lady is coming to visit! DING DONG, Avon calling! *happy dance*

I loved Avon day. Mom and her friend would sit chatting and I'd hover nearby waiting to be noticed. Once that happened, I knew I'd be showered with samples. Saaammmmples... Lipsticks, perfumes, lotions, night creams and stuff I didn't even know what it was for. It didn't matter. It was time to play dress up!

I'd use the lipsticks on my lips, cheeks, eyes, where ever looked "grown up" and put on my prettiest dress up clothes.

Of course the samples memory led to memories of all the cool stuff my Mom would get us from Avon for special occasions. Christmas, of course, meant neat stuff in our stockings. Soaps, wash-mits (they were like puppets for the tub), bubbles, lip balm...oh gosh. So much lip balm. I was addicted to the stuff!

Top secret lip balm that looked like other stuff!

You have a burger in your purse? Nope!

This was a gift from our Avon lady. Lip balm in his belly!

Oh the fruit scented and flavored stuff! Loved it!

Halloween! The ghost was a finger puppet too!

Blue Bird of Happiness perfume. I still have this bottle!

We were dirty little piggies. That piggy bathtub was a nail brush and worked really well.

It's A Small World perfumes. I had the girl in the red dress.

Of course there was lip balm too. Always lip balm...



We used our wash mits until they were shreds. Don't even get me started on the jewelry! Somewhere I think I still have a necklace with a chunky letter R on a chain. Wearing your initials or name on a chain was high fashion back then. Heh.






Monday, June 13, 2016

Looking back... again.

I turned 50 this year and it seems to have made me even more introspective than usual. Things have been hectic for the last month or so as we run up to the end of school. Lots of projects and getting ready for Tyler to graduate from 8th grade. Next year - high school! It's such a weird thought. My son is headed to high school. Most of the time I feel like my high school days weren't all that long ago.

I had a thought this morning that sent my mind racing back into the past. I was a rather shy and introverted child. I was happy as a clam just sitting alone and reading a book in my bedroom at home. If I didn't have a few extroverted friends, I might never have left the house. Thankfully, there were a few people along the way that would drag me out into the sunlight from time to time.  My elementary school friends, Sarah, Laura and Jane. I love you guys. I wish we'd never lost touch.  I want to thank my friend Pam for being the first friend who pushed me toward boys and forced me to flirt. Without Pam and, later, Chris - I might NEVER have had a boyfriend. After high school, there was my work friends - Sue, Harry, Kerry, and Sarah. I always seemed to have great luck when I had a friend named Sarah. And Kerry...he was a little person.  That was not, however, the first thing you'd notice about him. He had a BIG personality. So big, you didn't even realize he was quite a bit shorter than everyone else. He made me feel beautiful in a wildly inappropriate way. What a charmer! But it was risky dancing with him. Sadly, as is far too common with big personalities in tiny packages, he had serious health problems and passed after complications from a heart transplant. I miss him too.

I also think being inside my own head so much of the time is what made it so hard for me to relate to my brother. He is 5 years younger than me, so the age difference was already difficult, but he was also rather extroverted and high energy. I am a very low energy kind of person.  He didn't get me, I didn't get him and we never really bonded very well, sadly. It's a shame. As I get to know him, now, later in life, he seems like a really fun person.

I don't have any of that anymore, sadly. No extroverted friends. No one to drag me out of the house and get me into trouble now and then. I miss it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Memorial Day?

My best friend died. Yes, it was many years ago, but I still think about her. Her birthday was May 30th and just a couple days after turning 22, she was gone. John found some stuff in a box today with her name on it. He was looking for something else for me, but she found a way to make herself known. She was like that. Just wanted to make sure she was never far from your thoughts. *grin* (Hi Kath. I haven't forgotten you.)  Just out of curiosity, I plugged her name into Google (she would have LOVED Google) and it spit back a website that had her address, family member names and estimated her age at 47. Sadly, no. She is forever 22.  Google had a street view of her house, tho. That was pretty nifty.

Last time I saw that house it was painted dark red, had black shutters, and was nearly unseen from the road. Her parents valued privacy and they lived on a VERY busy road, so they had an ancient rock wall that ran along the road and behind that was towering overgrowth and trees hiding their house and yard from view. It doesn't look anything like that now! Somewhere along the line, the town removed that ancient stone wall and put in a sidewalk. That would have come in handy years ago when I was riding my bike to Kathleen's house and, because of all the traffic, nearly getting killed every time. New owners cut down all the plantings, trees, and shrubs; painted the house white, put on a new roof, and now it's all open and grassy. I don't like it.

After studying the street view and the satellite view (so I could see that big back yard again...the tree house is gone too) I virtually toured the town. We spent quite a few years living in Bedford when I was growing up. That was where we stopped roaming for a while. Dad retired from the military and, after moving every couple of years, it was weird just staying put. I cruised through the back roads and found my old house on Google Street View too. My house used to be this gross mustard shade. Now it's painted white. There are TONS more trees and the house is nearly hidden by them from above. I like it.

I found the pond where I took swimming lessons. Springs Brook Park looks more like a pool from above. They've altered it, for sure. You can see the bottom and there is probably less risk from snapping turtles. I'm not sure if I like it.

Anyway, enough nostalgia for tonight. I was going to put screen shots of the places I mentioned in here but depression is sapping my energy even more than usual. That'll do.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Life's ups and downs...

Like an elevator...one where the car never stops on the same floor twice and at any moment the cable may snap. Life. I've been a little emotional today. I read something on Facebook that really triggered a lot of mixed emotions. Next month, Tyler's 8th grade class is taking an annual trip to Washington D.C. Tyler wasn't invited.  He missed out on the 7th grade trip as well. He was SUPPOSED to be invited, but someone didn't send critical emails. By the time we realized we hadn't seen any details about this year's trip, we were told it was too late. Besides, they aren't "equipped" to handle any special needs Tyler might have and don't want to take responsibility for what might happen. Yes, we asked. Yes, we protested.

I call BS on that!  He's not that different from his fellow 8th graders. His needs could easily have been met (a list of foods he likes, a room with someone he is familiar with, no loud music, and someone making sure he knows well in advance where they are going, what they are doing and how long he has to prepare.) It's not hard.

He tells us he really doesn't care if he goes or not. But I have a feeling when he's sitting in an empty classroom for 2 days and then hears everyone excitedly talking about the trip on their return. he is going to have regrets. He's going to feel left out.  He's going to feel hurt.

And I'll be feeling all that pain and rejection right along with him.  He just wants to be a regular kid and treated like a regular kid. It's really not that hard.

:(

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Adopting?

Thinking about adopting a child? We did! We adopted 2 baby boys to make our little family and we love them more than life. I've advised a number of friends and acquaintances over the years on the ins and outs of the domestic adoption process. (We have little experience with international adoption other than researching agencies and starting to fill out paperwork.)  We've talked about private, semi-private and open adoption (we prefer open), going through an adoption attorney vs. an agency (we've done both), creating a portfolio, etc. All very useful.

One thing I've never really talked about are regrets. As a whole, we've been very pleased and very lucky, but there is one thing, if I had it to do all over again, that I would change. Before I get into that, I'd like you to consider something.

Imagine what is going on in the life of a teen who accidentally gets pregnant. If they come from a loving and supportive home environment, chances are that baby won't be placed for adoption. Teens who give their baby up are most likely to come from a chaotic home environment. During the pregnancy, the fetus will likely be exposed to a lot of stress. Fighting, yelling, poor diet...you get the idea. All the literature says pregnant women should avoid stress, maintain a calm and restful environment and talk to their unborn child. They can hear you and are deeply affected by what is affecting momma.

That said, I wish we'd brought our first birth mother home with us. Our baby would have grown in an environment full of love, support and the sound of not only his birth mom's voice, but ours as well. I think it would have made a huge difference.  If you have the means and opportunity to have the woman carrying your child come and stay with you during her pregnancy, DO IT.

If you are considering giving your baby up for adoption, please go to a lawyer who specializes in adoption or to a reputable agency. Ask for housing with your prospective adoptive family. That way you can get to know the people who will be raising your baby, they can help take care of your needs, and lower your stress level. It's a wonderful gift and will make you more confident in your choice. They will really want to be there for you and even help with delivery, if you feel comfortable with that.




Monday, April 04, 2016

Adult Tastes

I was shoveling a salad into my face for lunch today and found myself contemplating the strangeness of life. You know...like you do. See, my salad was liberally coated with ranch dressing. "What's so strange about that," you ask? Well, I hate ranch dressing. Or rather, I used to hate it. Growing up, anything made with buttermilk was eww. And I mean REALLY eww. Make me vomit eww. I wouldn't say I was a picky eater. I ate way more stuff than your average kid. Chili. Chinese food. Tacos. Spinach. Yeah. But I had my list. There was stuff you couldn't get me to eat even if you paid me.

Asparagus! Brussels Sprouts! Lima Beans! Bacon! (I know, right?! What kid doesn't like bacon?) Liver! Gravy with "gizzards" chopped up into it. Raw tomatoes! Oh, the list goes on.

My mother often told me, especially when I'd turn my nose up at something, that perhaps that food item was "an acquired taste" and I'd appreciate it more when I was a grown up. There did seem to be some foods that only grown-ups liked, but I was fairly certain it was a big scam. See, my parents tried to convince me that steak cooked out on the grill was "an acquired taste" and just for grown-ups. Us kids? We'd get Spaghetti-Os or Kraft Mac n' Cheese on those nights when Dad was going to cook out. The steak, wild rice, onion rings and asparagus (ok, I was fine with that last one) was just for Mom and Dad. Us kids? We'd be sent to bed after our boxed dinner and Saturday night was date night. Mom and Dad and their steak dinner, on TV tables in front of a good show like Love Boat or Fantasy Island.

Then, one night, I crept downstairs. I was hungry, not at all sleepy, and curious. Their dinner always smelled soooo good. I crawled to the doorway of our family room and peeked around the doorway to watch my parents eat and watch TV. It didn't take long before they spotted me. I plopped down next to my Mom and asked if I could try a taste of her food. She was very reluctant, but finally allowed me a bite of steak, a fork-full of rice, and an onion ring. They...were...awesome!  It was fun staying up late, watching TV and eating off my poor Mother's plate. Soon after, I was allowed to stay up later than my little brother and they would make a little plate up for me with my own TV table. I began to wonder what other "just for grown-ups" items were being kept from me.

I'd try a sip of my mother's various cocktails. Good! I'd try a sip of Dad's cocktails or beer. Not bad! I took bites of lobster thermidor, shrimp scampi, hot crab dip and all the other foods my mother had deemed too sophisticated for my young palate (or, as I more wisely suspected, too expensive to make for more than 2 people.) But I still had my limits. That list in my second paragraph up there was still a no go.

It wasn't until I was in my 30s that I realized bacon was actually really good. Lima beans too. Then I tried asparagus that was roasted and had this amazing sauce drizzled over it. Not soggy from a can. And fresh brussels sprouts cooked in bacon fat with bacon crumbles...yum! Then came the restaurant that gave me a salad covered in ranch dressing (instead of my rather new adult love of bleu cheese) and it was also GOOD. Feta cheese! Bleu cheese! Goat cheese! Oh all the cheeses I'd avoided as a kid because they were "stinky." Sour cream!!! Realizing I loved sour cream was almost scary. I'd avoided that stuff for decades. Probably good, because all these rich and creamy tastes would have made me fat MUCH sooner. Heh heh.

Now I feel like I'm making up for lost time. I try things that I used to avoid, but there are still a few things I don't want to try because I have a feeling I will LOVE them and will eat far too much. Like Italian gelato.  Ice cream that is supposedly even creamier and richer than American ice cream? Yeah. I better live without that one, just to be safe.

But you won't see me eating liver. I have a feeling, if prepared well (onions, bacon) that I could stomach liver now. I just don't want to. Same goes for mussels. Why do people want to each something you don't even chew and has been described as choking down a wad of snot? Food that is still moving (look on YouTube for sushi bar octopus or squid.) I have expanded my palate, but I still have to draw the line somewhere. :D

Friday, April 01, 2016

Audacity

I had an excessive amount of caffeine today, so pardon me if I ramble a bit. My mind has been racing from one topic to the next, but I found myself thinking about those times in my life where the verbal filters in my brain seemed conspicuously absent. Words came out of my mouth and, from the look on the listener's face, I could tell I said something that shocked or hurt them in some way. I am better at thinking before I speak, these days. Usually. But sometimes, I ask the questions that no one else dares to ask. Apparently.

Think of a news reporter. There are those times, in an interview, where the reporter will ask a question and the audience will *gasp* audibly. That can be a good thing. They've asked the question everyone hoped would be asked. Or the question no one else dared to ask, but everyone was wondering about. And we admire the reporter's audacity. They went there! Then there are those times where a reporter will ask a question that no one else dared to ask because...it's just rude. The audience will *gasp* in horror! How dare they go there! That's going too far!

I've never been very good at discerning that line. But I want everyone to know, I ask because I am genuinely curious and concerned. I'm not a busybody! Honest. I don't gossip. I just need to understand what's in people's heads. What makes them tick. Why do they do the things they do and what goes into their decision making process.

And no, I am not satisfied with "I don't know." My children have hopefully figured that out by now. I'm going to keep asking until I am satisfied I have a real and truthful answer. ;)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Musicality

I meant to do a quick search of my blog to see if I've written on this topic before, but I opened a new entry first. So, now I must start writing. I am 50 now, so I guess I have a good excuse if I start repeating tales from my storied childhood. Ha.

In 3rd or 4th grade at Nathaniel Page Elementary, we were given the opportunity to join the band or the orchestra. That meant choosing an instrument. I'd always loved music and musical instruments, so this was HUGE. What should I play? Flute? Trumpet? Cello? Harp? French Horn? Tuba?? Violin?!?! There were so many choices! My father's first concern was cost. My mother's first concern was size. "How are you going to carry something that big to the bus stop?!" Followed by, "Are you going to practice? If we get you this instrument, you have to promise you'll practice!"  I was ready to promise my first born child if they'd only allow me this chance to learn.

After drooling over various choices at a local music store, I finally settled on the violin. I'd taken ballet. I loved (and still do) Classical music. It was a sleek and elegant choice. Plus my parents said no way in hell to an electric guitar or piano. So...there was that.

I remember being measured for my violin. I remember my mother gasping at the rental fee but being placated by the sales person that all fees went towards the total cost of the instrument. Eventually, if I kept it up, we'd own the thing. Rent-to-own is a nifty deal to a naive 9 year old.

Then we bought the recommended text book, sheet music and record album. Yep. You read that right. My violin book came with a record album. Anyone remember The Suzuki Method? It's still really popular and a great way to learn. Like most kids, my very first song was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. My second song was something by Bach. Yeah! The dude! And it was something I actually recognized from my Dad's radio station or an old Warner Brothers cartoon. REAL classical music. Not the boring, repetitive junk the other kids were banging out down in the band room.

This is the one! I found this on eBay. Ah, memories...
Suzuki was a genius. He had this theory that kids could learn music like they do their native tongue. Listen, absorb, and practice. I'd start each new lesson by listening to the new piece of music on the record and following along on the sheet music. Then I would try to play it just like I heard it on the record. The recorded version was one violin playing the exact piece I was learning in the book. Simple and elegant. (I imagine the method works even better now because of video and computers. At least I hope someone took the time to modernize it. I'll have to check on YouTube later.)

At school, my music teacher would play each part on each of the different instruments in our orchestra. I didn't think much of it at the time, but seriously. How impressive is that? He'd play the viola part on my friend's viola. He'd play the cello part on his own cello. He'd play the first and then the second violin parts on his own violin. He could play them ALL. Then we would all try and play together. For a pack of elementary school kids, I thought we sounded amazing. Like, Boston Symphony Orchestra amazing. And it was fun!

Until it wasn't. I wanted to play when *I* wanted to play. For the sheer love of the instrument. Sadly, my violin teacher told my mother I had real talent. I breezed through each unit and was way ahead of my fellow orchestra members. I was playing mostly by ear, because reading music was tedious. I had the record! All I had to do was listen and play what I heard. Couldn't everyone do that? My mother, however, decided that if they were going to keep paying for this expensive instrument, then I needed to do my part. That meant practicing every day for at least an hour. No, I couldn't go out to play with my friends. Practice first. Always. Practice first.

I played and played and eventually I started just lying on my bed and reading a book while my Suzuki Method record played for me. My mother would call up the stairs, "You are sounding really good up there, Rebecca! Keep it up! 15 more minutes and you can go outside." *sigh*

I did keep it up through Junior High. I joined their orchestra. But by then they expected you to know how to read music and there was no handy record to listen to and learn the part. I'd fake it for the first couple practice sessions until I knew what to play, then I'd join in. I also painstakingly wrote the corresponding letter for each note on my sheet music. For some reason, I could follow AABCFF much easier than just notes alone. I only looked at the notes to tell me how long to hold it. I'd lost most of my passion, however. That daily battle with my mom took its toll. When I headed off to high school, my violin was relegated to the floor of my closet and all but forgotten. I'd take it out, now and then, and play along with my Suzuki record, just to see if I still could, but I didn't really play seriously again until a couple years later when my mother got it into her head that I should compete in the Massachusetts Miss Teen pageant. I'm pretty sure I wrote about THAT topic.

I took my old violin out a few years ago, polished it up, tuned it, and squeaked out a passable rendition of Twinkle Twinkle. Max was thrilled. He loves music and instruments almost as much as I did at his age. I heard him noodling around on the electric piano today we got him for Christmas a couple years ago. Next year he will have the opportunity to join Band at his school (if they still have a music program by then.) I hope he decides to play something. It really is fun.