Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
I've been thinking about what I wanted to do to acknowledge the season of being thankful. My friend Alissa at Have Stroller Will Travel (http://www.havestrollerwilltravel.blogspot.com/) is doing a Pay It Forward series. The things she does make me more aware of the kindness I can provide to others - simple things that make a difference. Today I met people from various organizations that provide help and services to my local community. I decided to showcase some organizations that are making a difference between now and Thanksgiving. Maybe it will help them get some much needed support.
Since today is November 3, I'll list three.
1. Deaf Reach - http://www.deaf-reach.org/ - In 1972, the National Health Care Foundation for the Deaf--doing business as Deaf-REACH-- was founded as a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization within the District of Columbia. Our mission is to maximize the self-sufficiency of deaf adults needing special services by providing Referral, Education, Advocacy, Counseling, and Housing.
As a parent, my heart breaks a little every time I see children in the Clinical Center at NIH. I'm very aware how lucky I am as the parent of healthy children.
Do you have a charity or know someone making a difference in the world? Let me know - I'd love to give them a voice here.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Sunday, October 9, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
I started writing this a few days ago but decided to change my mind. Then I changed it again. This is the last time.
I started by writing a memory of my 9/11 day. I’ll leave that below. After thinking for a while, I realized what I really want my kids to know (assuming they read this one day) is how my life changed after 9/11. It changed permanently.
I was scared after 9/11. Living near DC, I knew we were a target. Who was going to get us next? I had to carry ID with me all the time – no more sweet talking my way into a federal building on the days I forgot my driver’s license at home (which happened frequently at that time). No more driving around the NIH campus to show my mom all the cool places over there. Now there are very big fences surrounding their locked-down facilities. There are big fences everywhere now.
Travel by air is a pain in the ass. We wear flip flops and sweats now because removing shoes for not just me but my two kids takes a little while. And I can’t wear a belt so sweats make more sense. Lines for security are long. But I don’t complain – let the security do what they must to keep me safe.
Entering federal buildings changed, which I understand. Now we need ID to get into the Old Postal Pavilion and the Reagan Building. That was new. We get checked walking into some Smithsonian buildings. That feels weird, too.
Riding metro and driving has changed. There are signs above the road that say “Report suspicious activity.” That makes me nervous. Some days metro is just like it always was. Some days there are lots of police. I always wonder why. Is it for show or is there a threat?
We lived under different color threat markers for years. Code yellow, orange, red – I don’t remember what they all mean but every time the news would talk about it my blood pressure would go up.
Life went on but it’s different. We as a nation are no longer quite so naïve. I’m a different person.
Ten years ago……
I lost my innocence. It’s never quite come back.
There are a few days in my life that I will never forget: my wedding day, the day I found out I was having twins and the day my babies were born, the day I had bad medical things happen – important days in my life. I remember those days clearly though the specific dates are a little fuzzy. September 11, 2001 is one day I’ll never forget. And I remember the date clearly. I’m pretty sure most other Americans do, too.
My girls were little – a little less than 4 months old. I had them sitting in the car seats on the floor in front me while I ate my breakfast and watched the Today show. I would rock their seats with my feet – like I was bike riding. Everything was normal until they said a plane had crashed into one of the towers. I knew something wasn’t right. I called my husband, who was working close to BWI airport. His office didn’t know what was happening so they found a news station online and were watching when the second plane hit. Fear set it. Planes were being grounded. At some point there was concern about a missing plane near DC. Mike told me to get the girls and go to the basement until he got home. I was scared. I listened.
But I kept coming upstairs to look at the news. It didn’t comfort me. Nothing did.
When I learned of the crash at the Pentagon, all I could think about was the interpreters. There are interpreters there nearly every day. Who was there that day? Were they okay?
I don’t remember how we found out there were no injured interpreters. I know someone at SLA let me know but I don’t remember the specifics. I just remember being relieved and surprised.
The hours that followed involved phone calls to family to let them know we were okay. Emails from friends increased. My family thought I should move. But where would I go? No place seemed safe.
I hope I never live through anything like it again. I know I probably will experience some sort of bad event. I hope my children don’t have to.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Today was the first day of school. Traditionally it's a day of mixed emotion - the end of summer, the start of homework, seeing friends, an earlier bedtime. It's all part of the deal of learning.
For one of my kids, it's a high anxiety time. I don't want to be in fifth grade, she told me. I don't want to be a big kid. I want to stay small. Oh, I understand that feeling quite well. I often feel that way. I don't want responsibility, demands on my time, expectations of me. I want to feel free. I didn't have the heart to tell her that her life as she knows it will disappear. She knows it's happening.
Many of her anxieties at 10 are the same I feel at 44. It amazes me how much I understand this kid - the one who isn't quite like me. But she's becoming more like me daily, which is a scary thing.
M: I want to look good on the first day which means I must wear this outfit.
Me: I want my kids to look good on the first day of school which means their outfits must be CLEAN.
M: I want my hair to be straightened when I go to school.
Me: I want my kids to look like their brushed their hair.
M: Mom, I must wear those shoes today!
Me: Your shoes must match each other.
M: I’m afraid of who will sit next to me in school.
Me: I really hope this teacher lets her BFF sit next to her this year.
M: I hope my friends play with me at recess.
Me: God, I hope the nice kids play with her at recess.
It never ends and it never really changes. I had the same anxieties when I was little. I have them now. I knew exactly what was happening to her yesterday when, out with her grandmother and some friends, she announced “mommy, I don’t feel so well. There are butterflies in my tummy.” Butterfly villages live in my tummy. I get it.
“Do as I say, not as I do” comes to mind here. Do not be like me. Relax. Learn to enjoy the good things that happened to you today. Breathe. Don’t be like me.
Enjoy your today. That is my new mantra. ENJOY YOUR TODAY. I will enjoy my today….or try to.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
My given name is Judith Ann Rockhill. Yet, I’m called by many different names.
Judi, by most folks.
Judi Ann by my 8th grade science teacher and grandmother, both deceased now so no one calls me this any more.
Judith Ann by my former bosses in OCNJ and my mom but only when I’m in trouble.
Mom, Mommy, Maman, MOTHER!, Ima by my children, depending on their mood.
That interpreter by some of my clients.
AnjaandMikaela’smom by the kids at the playground.
Mom of the twins by the parents at the playground who can’t remember my name.
Miss Judi by the kids in the mental hospital where I worked (and some of my kids’ friends).
Bitch by my best friend from high school (and that’s totally fine).
Rockhill by some of my friends.
Hey or You by strangers.
Ma’am by young people who want me to smack them.
Miss by smart folks at the store.
Mrs. Rockhill by people who don’t know what name to use (this is the correct one).
Ms. Prien by the unknowing folks in my kids’ school.
The ex by my ex.
They’ve all been correct at some point in my life.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
a : a familiar or usual setting : congenial environment; also :the focus of one's domestic attention <home is where the heart is>
— at home
1 : relaxed and comfortable : at ease
2 : in harmony with the surroundings
3 : on familiar ground : knowledgeable
I don’t often feel at home. I’m okay in my house – it’s full of my stuff and sometimes my family, which is comforting. But it’s not me. That will change soon, though.
When I say I’m going home, I usually mean Lansdale, PA. That’s where I grew up, though I wasn’t born there. I was born in Boston and spent the first five years of my life in Chelmsford. A nice place, sure, but it’s not home.
I couldn’t wait to get out of Lansdale. Now sometimes I can’t wait to go home, even though my “home” there is now the Marriott Courtyard hotel.
Ocean City, NJ is probably the place where I feel the most at home. Now, after not being here regularly for so many years, it’s a little less like home, a little less familiar. I still love it. It still brings me peace. I walk into Marty’s or Henry’s or the Old Salt and I recognize the people who work there. Many of them were working here when I started working.
I got my first job when I was 14. It was in an odd store that sold all sorts of stuff – jewelry, doll house furniture, kites, stuffed animals – everything. I told the owner I was 16. He told me I was magically 17 (the legal age for me to work then) and poof, I had a job. On Sundays, because of blue laws, the store would open for a few hours at midnight. There I was, a 14 year old pretending to be 16, told I was now 17 but still scared inside walking by myself on the boardwalk at 2am.
I learned all I know about gems and jewelry (and it’s a lot) from Henry’s. Ask enough questions over a number of years and you start to learn things. They eventually hired me and taught me more. I loved that job.
OC is an odd place. It’s a dry town so there are no bars, no liquor stores. It’s billed as “America’s Greatest Family Resort”. I’ll buy that. Every year we walk and drive around the island looking for what stayed the same for another year and what changed. Sometimes the changes are good. Sometimes they make me sad. But I always notice them.
I don’t get lost here. I’m here once a year at most and can still get around perfectly. I know which streets have traffic lights, where stores are, how to get around traffic without thinking about it. It’s IN me.
I live in Silver Spring, MD now. I’ve been there 18 years. I was supposed to stay 3 months (for an internship). I didn’t call it home until I’d been living there for nearly 10 years. While I’m comfortable there, am raising my children there, and have more friends there than I do in PA, I’m only now starting to realize that it really might be my home.
When I leave here, I’m going home (to Silver Spring). Then I’ll want to go home (to Lansdale). Then I’ll be being here (at home in OC).
Sunday, August 14, 2011
I love the Montgomery County fair. It brings out the freaks and families, all to one place. The pig made out of butter has been replaced by a cheese wheel (now that’s disappointing). But there were baby ducks and ponies. And we were blessed by some guy at the pig races who declared #14 the Pig Queen and then said God Bless You All! That was odd.
My kids were asked to say the Pledge of Allegiance for a prize. They could only do it in French but they still got the prize. They answered questions about rain-scaping and won sponges. Where else does this happen but at the fair?
I love the sights and sounds of the fair. The lights are magical. People are happy. People eat fried butter and oreos. I guess it’s a good thing all the EMTs, fire and police personnel are there. I wonder how many heart attacks occur there.
People are happy at the fair. The vendors want to sell you something. The exhibitors bring candy and gizmos for you to bring home. People give stuff away. The Methodists (apparently famous for their pot-luck dinners) feed thousands at the food booths. The politicians are there, too, putting elephant or donkey stickers on kids. (NO elephants on my kids, thank you very much) Inside the buildings are crafts that county folks have made and monstrous veggies they’ve grown. You don’t see this side of people every day.
I don’t think about the rides but my kids do. I like the way they light up but I can’t help but think of all the urban legends regarding deaths of celebrities at fairs and small amusement parks. I grew up near West Point Park in Lansdale and clearly remember hearing that the boy from the tv show “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” died while standing on the roller coaster (he’s still alive and well, thank you very much). I know they aren’t real stories but when some ride is flinging my kids up in the air, that’s what I think of. He also was said to have died from eating poprocks and soda together. Poor guy.
I have many happy memories at this fair. I remember going before I was married. In fact, I think I’ve been to nearly every fair since I moved to MD. It’s THAT big of a deal in my world. One that stands out above others is of my then-father-in-law, unable to communicate from Alzheimer’s, walking hand in hand with my girls around the animals. They all loved seeing the animals and didn’t need words to express it.
In addition to pig races, there are demolition derbies, concerts by little know singers, animal barns and my favorites: the baby animals. I would like a duck, please.
Friday, August 12, 2011
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Oh, I could spend a million dollars. Or at least I think I could. But that's a lot of money so it's probably harder than I think. But I'd like to try.
So what would I do with it? Here are my thoughts:
I'd make sure my mom was set for the remainder of her life.
I'd make sure my kids had a good start on saving for college.
I'd buy a house that's all mine. And I'd get a housekeeper because I suck at it. And my kids would have their own rooms (on a different floor than me).
I would have a kitchen that makes me happy to cook in.
I would have appliances that work (AC, laundry - just the necessities).
I'd go to Prague, Croatia and Yugoslavia. And maybe visit Poland and Hungary because I love both and I'll be in the area - it makes sense. And, of course, Paris. Twice. Once with my kids and once with the guy I want to romance me in that beautiful city.
I want to have a car that doesn't look like I'm a mom.
I want a purse that makes me happy. And a pair of those red-bottomed shoes.
I don't really think that adds up to a million dollars.
So I'd be able to open a house for deaf children in need. I sort of think of it as an orphanage but there's got to be a better name for it. I found a place on the internet a while ago that listed deaf children in need of adoption. I want them all. And a staff with teachers and people who will love them and can communicate with them to take care of everything.
Or maybe I'd continue the work my brother and sister-in-law do in making sure seniors with limited incomes and no families get Christmas gifts and things they need.
There are so many choices. So many wishes. So, how what would you do if you won the lottery or a huge bag of money landed in your yard?
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I have to stop watching Sex and the City. I watched it long ago but now it’s back in reruns and serves as a (mostly) amusing background distraction while I’m (supposed to be) working.
Charlotte says to her gay, afternoon-movie friend, “I’m not looking for sex! I’m looking for my next Great Love!” Isn’t this what every single female is looking for? Face it, sex is easy to get. You can either take care of things yourself or peruse the online sites which are full of guys who want to show you all their (self described) fancy tricks. While they are tricky waters to maneuver, they are mostly manageable. The problem is when you’re looking for something more.
Dating, especially after not having done so for a very long time, is daunting. The make-a-good-first-impression behavior is good but it’s not real. And it’s when you start finding the less than great stuff that the challenges appear. When does one decide to show their real self? There’s a time limit to the good behavior.
I thought I’d found my Great Love a few times. And maybe I had. Or maybe I just wanted it but it wasn’t real. So, as Carrie asked, how many Great Loves does one get in a lifetime? One? Two? What happens when we hit our quota?
Monday, July 11, 2011
Mommy, is it true that if you wanted to change the channel on the tv, you had to get up to do it?
Yes, that’s true.
Mommy, did you really only have 3 channels on tv?
No, we had 7. Channel 3, 6, 10, 12 (pbs), 17, 29 and 48. Sometimes if you held the rabbit ear antenna just right, we could get another channel from Allentown, but that was rare. And none of the channels were on 24 hours a day. The star spangled banner would play and then it would go off the air.
Is it true that you didn’t have to pump your own gas?
Yes, that’s true. The man at the gas station would check the oil, too. He’d do that for free. And if I needed windshield wiper fluid, he’d add that, too.
Were cell phones invented when you were little?
Nope. I remember getting my first one shortly out of high school. It was a bag phone and it was big and heavy – couldn’t fit in a purse or a pocket. I was the first of my friends to have one. I’ve been addicted ever since.
I also grew up with rotary phones – the kind you had to dial. Technology is amazing.
I remember buying my first microwave, computer (it was a gift) and life before ipods. I grew up with vinyl and tapes and encyclopedias.
When my mother was growing up, they had funerals (dead people!) in the parlors of their homes. I never had a dead person in my home. She can remember seeing her first car. I wonder what inventions will impress my kids. Personal flights into space? The regeneration of limbs? What’s next?
Modern technology is awesome and so….modern…..
Friday, July 8, 2011
Saturday, July 2, 2011
I want my girls to grow up and have healthy relationships. But how will they learn that? I didn’t do such a great job modeling that in my marriage, which I owe largely to the fact that I didn’t have that model. A general mistrust of humanity doesn’t help that, either. Yet here I am faced with the daunting task of making sure my children grow up happy and healthy. Daunting doesn’t begin to cover it.
I read an article recently by Lisa Bloom (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lisa-bloom/how-to-talk-to-little-gir_b_882510.html?ref=fb&src=sp) which addressed the issue of how we talk to girls when their young can influence how they see themselves as they grow up. As someone with about a zillion self esteem issues, I don’t want my children experiencing that. Too late, I know. It’s already started. Mommy, I want to look pretty for [insert boy’s name here]. I want him to notice me. Mommy, I don’t like my thighs. Seriously, it’s started already.
I raised my girls from the beginning telling them it’s not enough to be beautiful on the outside (which they are, as they know from the strangers who would stop us when they were young to tell me how beautiful they were). They needed to be beautiful on the inside. But that’s not enough, I’ve learned. I reinforce their academic achievements but there’s more. I grew up with statements like “you hit the ball well, for a girl” and “girls don’t need to understand math”. I can’t tell you how negatively that affected me. I still feel stupid when dealing with math problems and I hear that voice in my head telling me I’m too dumb to do it. Luckily, both my kids are seriously smart. I can’t help M with her math anymore – she explains it to me. Both are voracious readers, for which I am grateful and proud. They know they’re brilliant yet still can’t get past the awkwardness they see in the mirror. I wish I could take this part of their lives away from them for a while, just to give them a break. Both are independent thinkers and are realizing how lonely that can be. They are mini-me’s and sometimes, while fiercely proud, it also breaks my heart. I know what they’re in for.
So how do I raise two strong girls who don’t rely on their beauty and boobs or popularity? How do I convince them that playing dumb to get a boy is just that? Geez, all of this and they haven’t hit middle school yet. My prediction is after several years, they will be fine. I will be gray.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I'm playing words with friends, aka scrabble, with several friends. I started out okay, beating several of them. Since then, I've had my ass handed to me in the middle of words I don't know several times.
Okay, folks, here are the rules. Dictionaries are for cheater pants. Yes, there, it's in writing. You don't need a dictionary. You either know the word or you don't. You can guess. You can swear. You can try words that you would think it won't accept (it took sext but not jiz - yeah I know it's spelled wrong but I was hoping it wouldn't notice). But you can't look up words that start with an O hoping to find something that will work with the tiles you have. That's cheating.
So there you go.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
In my world, art is something that someone creates for a specific purpose. That purpose may never be known but it's there. It should cause a reaction in you. You like it, you love it, you hate, you don't understand it - something.
Before I continue on, two things should be known: 1) I'm an art school drop out and 2) I'm the family archivist. I document everything. Both of these facts probably cloud my judgement a bit.
The Hirshhorn is full of weird things. There was a 60 minute video of Niagara Falls. It consisted of nothing more than the water falling over the falls. Yawn. What makes that art? There was another video of something that I'm not sure how to describe. It sort of looked like a city view with weird lights, sounds and other graphic images moving around on it. I thought it was cool but not necessarily art. I might be changing my mind, though, as I've thought about it several times since seeing it.
The yarn hanging display annoyed me. It looked like vertical pick up sticks. And it did absolutely nothing for me except cause me to wonder why the museum spends its money on things like that.
The argument I had with someone was about my photos, few of which I'd call art. I document my life because I'm a doom and gloom kind of person. I think if I die today, what will my kids know and remember about me. They will certainly know the importance of a camera in my life. No question there. But will they remember the rest? Will they remember how I see things in a way that is often different from the mainstream? That's what I want to document. I have pictures of everyone who is important to me - regardless of the reason. I take pictures of almost every place I go because I want my kids to know what I enjoyed doing. Sometimes the pictures are artsy. Sometimes they're not. I never take a picture with the idea that I want it hanging on someone's wall. I do want to make sure a memory is created forever when I click the shutter. There's a difference in intention.
Some pictures I take can be called art, though they weren't taken for that purpose. I have some of those posted at Red Bubble. You can see the ones I like at http://www.redbubble.com/people/judirock/portfolio/recent.
I will continue to take pictures all the time. I might even let one or two go up on my wall.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
I always thought my mother should get both Mother's Day and Father's Day - she was both to me. But I had a brother that grew up with both parents, so that would've been weird.
I, for one - and yes, I'm a mom, would be very happy to get rid of mother's day (which is usually a less than stellar day for me) and father's day. Maybe just one day of recognizing the person(s) who influenced your life. For me, that would be my 8th grade science teacher (who was probably the most paternal figure in my life), my mom and a few family friends who tried to steer me away from the trouble I was drawn to.
So happy day to the people who influenced my life and taught me right from wrong. The list is long but includes some odd people who would never guess they had an influence on me:
Mr. Righter, who taught me in 7th and 8th grade and saved me in my senior year by letting me teach his class,
The man who owned The Smuggler Shop in Ocean City, who took the time to listen to me and always supported what my mom said,
Mr. Aiken, who was the closest thing to a dad I had.
Mr. Miller, who tried his best to teach me how to garden (and now I wish I had paid more attention).
and the others I won't mention today.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
There's another blog I like by a friend of mine, Alissa. Her blog, Have Stroller, Will Travel, makes me think. Sometimes it makes me feel normal - that I'm not the only one dealing with weird parenting issues. Plus I get to win fun things sometimes. She wrote the other day about accidents she had while growing up. That got me thinking.
I have scars. Right now, when I think of my scars they're mostly the kind on the inside. But I have plenty on the outside.
I'm pretty sure CPS watched my family for a while. I broke both wrists within three months of each other. The first was in gym class in 6th grade. I tripped and fell and surprise, it was broken. Then at tennis lessons in NJ, I tripped again and broke the other arm. Ooohhhh.....my mother was not happy with me. At all.
There are the weird ones. I have had stitches in the same place (my chin) twice, about 7 years apart. I put a safety pin in my eye (hence, no contacts for me) and a knitting needle through my leg. Neither of those was fun at all! Apparently I'm above the age when most people get their appendixes out yet that happened last summer - and those scars are on top of part of my c-section and previous laparoscopy surgeries from long ago.
I was a fire bug for a while when I was young. I have plenty of scars on my legs from when I would melt things and forget that I was wearing shorts. Yeah, I was a pyro but not too bright. I still have claw marks on my hand from where a jealous girl got pissy with me when the cute boy on the neighborhood walked me home and not her.
These scars are easy to deal with. It's the ones you can't see that are harder. But those are fading, too.
I have kids who are doomed to be accident prone. The local ER knows me well already. The cycle continues.....