Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Christmas Stocking

My favorite part of Christmas is the stockings.  I love making them up and I love getting one.  This is the story of why my kids are the best in the world.

The year their dad and I separated, we (obviously) didn't do Christmas stockings for each other.  I was a mess - it was a horrible holiday.

The next year was better.  The hatred was gone. But he was dating someone.  I was dating someone (who grew up without this tradition).  We weren't going to do stockings for each other.

My kids knew this was such an important part of my holiday - I'd never had a Christmas without one.  They knew the previous year was very tough for me.  And this year (which was really last year) was tough because their grandmother was dying during it all.

You're probably wondering what this has to do with my kids being the best in the world, right?  Hold on.

This year I was prepping all the stuff I had for the girls' stockings when I remembered what happened last year.  We have a rule that no one can sneak down the stairs early to cheat and see what Santa brought.  The girls broke that rule to sneak down the stairs and remove some of the candy and toys from their stocking and put them in mine. I was stunned.  I cried.  See?  I do have the best kids in the world.

This year we went back to old traditions.  We all had Christmas stockings.  My girls made sure I had a little bling in mine (with help from their dad).  Seriously, I love those girls.  They planned and prepped and made sure my Christmas was good.  Last time: I have the best kids in the world.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Friendly Side of Karma

Karma is a bitch.  We've all heard it.  And in my experience it's pretty much true.  But there's also a nice side to karma.  Every now and again I get a reminder from the Universe to pay more attention to that kinder side.

My day started out shitty.  My facebook status was going to say something like "If I don't drop dead from a stroke, this will be a successful day."  Then I started to hear my mother's voice in my head.  When we lived in Ocean City, NJ, she was on a positive thinking kick.  She would get a thought in her head and say it over and over - I suppose much in the way I do with my girls about making a positive impact on others' lives.  Only my mom's mantra was "Thoughts are things" and "Your attitude is your life".  I HATED hearing those phrases.  Yet, something must have sunk in.  Because about 30 years later, I'm still hearing them.

I fought with my daughters this morning.  I yelled.  I felt bad and it was a crappy way to start our day.  That didn't make me happy. It made my blood pressure shoot up and put me in full-on bitch mode.

Then I realized I didn't want to feel bitchy all day.  I wanted to start over.  Easier said than done.  But I would make an effort and see what happened.

I got to my job and waited until we found that it had been cancelled last week and we weren't notified.  I wasn't UNhappy.  I needed to be in that area anyway so it was okay.  But still.....

I went to the gas station and some dude in a tanker truck yelled at me.  Something along the lines of "why are you behind me?? You're blocking me!!"   Instead of giving him attitude and a finger, I rolled down my window and said in my nice voice "Do you need me to move?"  He asked if I was getting gas.  I did not called him stupid and say WTF??  Why else would I be at a gas station.  I just said yes.  His response?  He smiled and told me he'd wait.  That was good.

Then I went in the Russian grocery to get something my bf's mother introduced me to the other week. I wasn't sure of the name but I remembered I had taken a picture of it.  I asked the woman (who spoke to me in Russian) and she responded (in English) that they didn't have those things today.  Oh.  I must have looked sad because she went in the back, came out and asked if I could wait 5 minutes.  Of course!  And five minutes later I had them.  My attitude adjustment was becoming genuine.

I went to a craft store that has several online reviews about the snotty staff.  I needed to ask a question and wasn't looking forward to getting an attitude. I asked my question and instead of attitude I got a friendly sales person to help me.  The woman at the counter told me to download the app for the store so I'd get a discount.  She waited while I did it - and there was a line behind me.  Not too many people do that.

I'm not 100% sold on the "thoughts are things" spiel.  I do think "Your attitude is your life" might have some merit.  Clearly when I smile at folks and give them the benefit of the doubt, my interactions with them are more positive.  As my girls and I try to do additional deeds of goodwill to folks in memory of the children who died in Connecticut last week (they can no longer do it for themselves so we will do it for them), I need to remember that people have bad days or at least bad moments but that doesn't always (usually) merit me yelling or shooting the finger.

I will continue going through my day looking for the good things that happen when I don't yell at people.  It sounds like of odd but it works.  My daughter (A) points this out to me regularly.  I need to notice it more.

Monday, December 10, 2012


Hello.  My name is Judi and I'm an addict.

Addict to what?  It depends.

Sometimes it's to a tv show.  Or three.  Like Dexter.  Homeland.  Real Housewives (that last one is a secret vice.  Don't judge).

Sometimes it's to a book.  50 Shades had me hooked there for a while.  Usually it's something far more mundane.  Illusions - my favorite book.  I've read it at least 50 times.

Sometimes it's a movie.  We won't talk about how many times I've watched Rocky Horror - but that's been over 30 years so that's not so bad.

Sometimes it's a food.  When I was in second grade I loved maraschino cherries.  I loved them so much I ate an entire jar in one sitting.  Haven't touched one since.  The site of one makes my stomach hurt.

Sometimes it's people.  That is a separate post entirely.

Sometimes it's a restaurant.  We used to eat at the Woodside all the time.  Now I avoid it.  It never was a great place to eat.

Sometimes it's a store.  I used to LOVE the unique store.  It catered to my need to treasure hunt.  Now I don't have time for it.

I need a good, not expensive, not unhealthy addiction.  Suggestions?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

All that glitters....

Most folks know I am not a huge fan of Christmas.  I think I actually like the holiday.  It's just all the gift buying and wrapping and baking and being sociable stuff I don't love.  I like it all in parts.  I would just like those parts spread out over, say, a few months instead of a few weeks.

M asked me the other day:

Mommy, what do you want for Christmas?
Um, I don't know.  I have everything I need.
It's not about need.  It's about want.  What do you WANT?
Huh.  I don't know.  What do I want?
You want perfume.  Or jewelry.  Or pretty socks.  Not stuff you need.
Those are all good ideas.  I like all of those things.

Every Christmas (and Mother's Day and my birthday), it's kind of the same thing.  I need new tiles for the kitchen floor.  I need a new filter for the refrigerator.  I want something sparkly.  And I feel bad for wanting things.  I don't know why that is.  Maybe it's because I stress about money, the car, the girls education so much that I can't see past that. I need to stop doing that.

My ex and I limit the girls' requests of Santa to three things.  We've always done that.  Three very well thought out things.  This year they can't come up with three things so at least one will be a surprise.

Maybe my problem is that I have good (read: expensive) taste.  I like Channel Allure perfume.  I like gold and silver, not plated, jewelry.  I like electronics.  And my girls are taking after me.  This is a problem.

Some of the best gifts I've ever received were things I wanted and didn't know I wanted.  A keurig (I didn't even drink coffee then!).  An iPod.  Now I listen to it almost every day.  A double burner griddle - pancakes are so much easier now!  A Kindle - I read far more than I did before.  Those were all wonderful and were obviously gifts that required some thought.

I have a few folks in my life for whom buying gifts is tough.  I want to get each of those folks a gift that will give them that Oh, she knows me! feeling.  I'm coming up blank.  This makes me nuts.

If you, my fabulous readers, have great gift ideas, please leave comments.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Fresh Coat of Paint

I did something I don't often get to do.  I got a make over.  This probably isn't a big deal to most folks and I didn't think it was a big deal to me.  Then I realized it was.

My sister-in-law (and brother) are in town for our family holiday, Thanksmas.  It's a combination of Thanksgiving and Christmas all rolled into one.  It's normally a time for my girls to spend time with the aunt and uncle and my mom to spend some time with her son.  It's usually a rushed sort of weekend, trying to get a lot of things done in a short period of time.  My participation tends to be making sure the girls are wherever they're supposed to be and attending the family meal.

This year was a little different.  My brother was taking my mom to an appointment and the girls were not yet out of school.  I got a text from my SIL that said "come play with me!".  I had paperwork and billing and cleaning and laundry and blah, blah, blah to do.  But I don't often get time with just her so I went.  

There wasn't much time before we had to get the girls so we walked around downtown Silver Spring for a bit.  I never get to go in Ulta (makeup store).  Going in with two 11 year old girls is a nightmare.  Please don't touch.  No, you can't wear Smashbox makeup.  No, I'm not getting you Bare Minerals.  Don't try on more than one perfume at a time. That is why I don't go in there with them.  They weren't here and Kelley was so we went in.  I wanted something new - a new color, a new something different.  

At Kelley's urging, I sat in the chair and the makeup person started her magic. I told her I thought she has the best job - she makes people feel pretty.  She had brushes and lotions and powders.  At the end of it all, I had new colors on my face and a new attitude.  I haven't had another person do my makeup since my wedding.  That was 1998.  It's been a while.

I feel all shiny and new.  I didn't want to wear my glasses - I wanted everyone to see my new colors.  When we picked the girls up from school, M noticed right away.  You're wearing makeup.  That's a new color!  That's why I love that kid.

My new attitude and new look and new happiness are going to celebrate Thanksmas.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Being a Daughter


"My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”... Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way... remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day... the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked.

When those days come, don’t feel sad... just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love.
I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you... my darling daughter."

- Unknown

A friend posted this on facebook.  You know that saying that you hear what you need to hear or you are given what you most need?  That's what this is for me.  I was having a grumpy daughter day (me being the daughter) and then someone posted this on facebook.  I was instantly reminded that my nearly 83 year old mother is indeed the person who taught me things - including to respect my elders and take care of my family.  I failed that lesson recently.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked.  I can still see my mother walking along the beach in OCNJ, looking back at my 6 or 7 year old self.  She would walk so fast on the beach - she loved doing that.  And I would dawdle, looking at every single shell.  We repeated this morning after morning, year after year.  Then one year I did that with my daughters.  I would walk along the beach and they would look at every single shell.  Morning after morning, year after year.  I can't quite remember if my mom could walk on the beach with us when my girls were little.  

Somewhere along the line, my mother became old.  She developed Parkinson's Disease.  She is no longer able to walk on the beach.  She can't really walk very far anywhere.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you. Yep.  I need to remember this one.  

I needed to be reminded that she was the one (the only one as my only parent) who taught me to listen, walk, read and write, and most importantly be a good person.  It's time I remember that last one.  I'm mindful that my girls watch me take care of her and are learning from me.  One day they'll be in my position.  I hope I teach them well.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

Every Thanksgiving is kind of the same.  We think about the things for which we are thankful.  We eat just about the exact same food every year.  Once in a while I shake things up by making green beans instead of peas but mostly it's the exact same thing.  Growing up, my brother and I would balk if there were any changes.  My mother wanted sweet potatoes.  No.  That's not okay.  My aunt would make some sort of jello mold.  There was no way in hell either of us would touch that.  (We both boycott Jello.  Always.  It's a forbidden food in our homes.)  Dinner consisted of turkey (white meat only), stuffing (preferably stove top), gravy (on potatoes only), mashed potatoes and peas.  There was also pumpkin and cranberry bread.  Oh, there was cranberry sauce - Ocean Spray in the shape of the can only.  And none of my food can touch.  Ever.

I'm a little more flexible now.  If there's gravy on the stuffing, it's okay.  Salad instead of peas works.  I make banana bread instead of pumpkin bread.  Change is okay.

This year bring a lot of change.  This is the first holiday without any family.  My children are with their dad in Chicago.  This is a year of change for that family, too.  This is the first one without their mom (my mother-in-law).  So if ever we were going to have change, this was the year to do it.  My mother has decided to eat with the other seniors in her apartment building instead of joining me at my boyfriend's parent's house.  So it's just going to be us.

I might let some of the food on my plate touch.  I might try something different this year.  I will remember all the reasons for which I am truly thankful.  Let me list just a few:
  • My children still hold my hand, snuggle up with me and clearly love me.
  • My boyfriend loves me and shows this to me regularly.
  • My friends have become my family and show me how much they care.  The number of invitations to Thanksgiving dinners confirmed that for me.
  • I live in a country where I am not in fear of my home being bombed or being killed.
  • My life, though far from perfect, is quite good.
So, on this day when I'm reminded of all I have, please know I am quite thankful for you, my friends.  I'm always thankful for my new and returning readers.  And I'm thankful for my fellow bloggers who lead me along this weird way.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

homecoming Queen

You can't go home.

There's no place like home.

Home isn't a place, its a feeling.

Yes. All of that. Going home, to Lansdale, this past weekend was interesting. I brought my boyfriend for the first time. I don't bring people home. My home people don't visit me in Maryland. It's like there's a line at the border of PA and Delaware that doesn't get crossed. We crossed it. I'm so glad we did.

I haven't been home in a few years. I've been homesick during that time - many times. I know I'm homesick when I dream about Main Street. Or McDonalds (in those dreams I am once again in 9th grade and sitting in a booth after school with my friends). Or being on the ice at Melody Brook. I don't have those dreams often but they still do come once in a while. They're like old friends to me.

This is the longest period of time I haven't been home in the nearly 20 years since I left. It was strange at first. Awkward. It didn't feel like home. Things had changed. Stores had come and gone. The economic situation of this country is evident there - much more so than here. It was a strange feeling - like I wanted to be there more than it wanted me there. It had changed, grown up, aged, without me. I had left it behind.

Then I had dinner with friends. Now, I have fabulous friends in MD. They are my family. I depend on them and love them with all my heart. My PA friends, many of whom I hadn't seen aside from high school reunions in 30 years, hold a different place in my heart. They know me. I used to think they saw me as the rebel, the girl who was never quite comfortable in her own skin. It wasn't until recently I realized that's not exactly true. They have the same memories I do. Their memories of me are quite different - much more positive. I don't know why it surprises me but it does. I've known Jane since I was 5 years old. FIVE YEARS OLD! I've known Chrisy and Lynne since I was about 13. Some of the other friends we saw have known me since I was my girls' age. We play the game of "remember when" and they know what I'm talking about. They know me.

Bringing Andrew home was interesting. I was nervous. It was strange letting him into that part of my world. He is from the other side of my life. Yet there he was. And it felt okay. Very okay. My girls showed him the Castle Playground. We had cheesesteaks - with sauce!!! He saw my two houses, what was left of the three elementary, two junior high and one high schools - all without complaint.

I used to want to leave Lansdale and never return. So I did. Somewhere along the line I realized that I wanted to return, at least for brief periods of time. I suppose my home really is here. in Silver Spring, as it's been for about 20 years. But Lansdale, Chelmsford (MA), and Ocean City - other places I've called home - will always have a special place in my heart.

Friday, November 2, 2012

How to make a zombie

Transforming my sweet (most of the time) little ones into zombies wasn't hard and it was a ton of fun.

Here's how we did it.

Start with liquid latex.  It's kind of as gross as it sounds.  And it smells.  But it's worth it.

Paint it in layers on in the areas you want to have a wound.  Dry it on a cool setting with a hair dryer.

Then using tweezers, pull it up and rip a hole in it.  This is the wound.

Using "blood" paint, make the wounds.  Paint the inside of the hole and add globs in there.  Clots look good.

Using white theatrical paint and a make up sponge, pale out your subject.  Then add dark eye shadow around the eyes and on the cheek bones to hollow out the cheeks.

For lips, you can use an eyeliner pencil, lipstick or leave them alone.  My kids didn't love the first two choices so we left them alone.

Voila.  You have creepy.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Waiting for Impending Doom

I am not a patient person.  I don't like to wait.  I don't wait in lines at attractions (except Disney World/Land which is a given).  Patience is that ever elusive virtue in my life.

I'm waiting for the end of the world to hit.  Sitting here on the couch with my daughters (watching scary movies) waiting and waiting.  And waiting.  Do we eat the food before it goes bad?  Watch tv?  Start a movie that might die in the middle? I am not good at this.

The biggest mistake was watching the news.  Thankfully we did that only briefly.  Just long enough to see NJ drowning and NY about to be sucked up into the sky.  Okay, maybe not really but it feels that way.  The majority of my friends and family are right along Sandy's path.  My friends are without power (as we are preparing for as well) and have flooded basements - all along the east coast.  We're just waiting to see what happens here.

I am looking forward to Thursday.  Everything should be done by then.  Maybe school will be back in session.  Maybe the federal government will open again (hopefully both on the same day).  Fingers crossed.

And toes crossed that being stuck indoors for days on end with no power and two tween girls will not make me batty.  Uh huh.

A week in the life: Saturday

This was the most interesting day of all!  Zombie day!

We woke a little late, which is unusual.  Chocolate chip pancakes are a good start to the day.

A quick run to the bank and a few errands keep us busy until it's time to start zombifing.

Mike (ex husband) came over full made up and with the girls bloodied clothes.  That was weird.  Then, using liquid latex, he gave them wounds.  I added make up and in a pretty short time, they were full on creepy. Mike helped me with my scars.  It felt weird.  It was wet when it went on but as it dried it felt like egg on my skin.  Odd feeling.  Then he made the scarring.  Even weirder.  Painting on the blood was cool.  Adding the make up was fun.  I like that part.

My boyfriend and another friend joined us.  Amanda did her own make up (she passed on the latex goo stuff).  Andrew let me give him a few scars.  Mike painted him in blood.  It's like a modern day Brady Bunch, only Adams family style.  Very odd indeed.

The girls and their dad, the mastermind behind this weirdness.

The six of us went to an early dinner at Piratz.  We were the best dressed bunch in there, but it was early.  After dinner (Mike, Andrew and I did brain shots - shots of something not too bad with gummy brains at the bottom.  The funny part of that was A) my ex, current and I doing shots together and B) Mike told Amanda it was the first time (in over 15 years of knowing each other) that he'd ever seen me do a shot.  That's true but still made me laugh.) we walked over to Ellsworth Ave - the heart of Silver Spring.  That's when the true creepy factor of it all started.  

Mike showed A the clip of the movie "Come play with us.  Forever and ever...."

The girls did it really well.  Super creepy really well.  They kinda freaked me out.  Well, no kinda about it.  They freaked me out.  I was proud.

We spent a few hours getting out pictures taken, getting stopped as we walked by.  The girls did their "Come play with me...." thing at a mom.  She was completely weirded out and then looked at me and said "You didn't let them watch that movie!!  Did you??"  Oh hell no!  I won't watch it!  Really?  People think I would do that?  Well, given how they were dressed, I guess that was a legitimate question.

We had fun freaking folks - especially the ones in restaurants.  As we walked down the street, the girls would stop in front of the restaurant windows and just stare.  A few patrons clapped.  They were certainly a hit.

A fun day indeed!

A week in the life: Friday

Thank God it's Friday.  Yeah, not original but true.

You know the breakfast routine now.  The girls got to school on time.  I got to work early so I could eat breakfast there.  I like their breakfast better than my own.  It would've helped for me to look at my schedule first.  I was on the wrong side of the complex and had a technical meeting at 9 am.  Who schedules things like this on a Friday morning?  Clearly not someone who asked my opinion.

I was not on my A game for this job.  Lucky for me my client wasn't on his A game for staying away.  It all works out nicely.

It was a packed day.  Here's the summary:

Leave work.
Stop home to change.
Take care to the shop for the endless list of things that need to get done.
Pray the bill is under $400.  It was (barely).
Lunch at Max's - best schwarma and falafel in town.  The 20 mins in line proved I am not alone in this thinking.
Waiting for parts for my car - enough time to run to the grocery and get things for the impending doom that's about to hit here.  Bread, coffee creamer, chocolate.  Done.  Ran into Amanda there and bitched for 5 mins (each of us).  Ah....friends are awesome.
Picked up the girls from the bus stop and went back to the shop.  Waited.  And paid.
Off to the thrift store to find something for my zombie outfit.  Chef's jacket. Done. 
Over to University of Maryland for Physics is Phun.  Dragging but making an effort.  That was cool.  Pause in the summary.

So Physics is Phun is an awesome program put on by UM for 31 years now. That's pretty impressive.  They have all sorts of fun things to do.  They girls love it.  I'm humbled by the fact they usually know more about what's going on than I do.  At some point, the guy giving the presentation asks for a volunteer.  M nearly dislocates her shoulder shooting her arm so high up in the air.  She gets chosen.

I took video of this and have been struggling for a few days to try to get this uploaded.  Because all technology hates me, this isn't going to happen.  Trust me.  It was cool.

The guy does something with a cool machine that makes M's hair stand up.  A memorable day indeed.

And a tiring day!

Back to the list:

Dinner at Chipotle with bf.  Lots of laughs.

A serious need to sleep.....

Friday, October 26, 2012

A week in the life: Thursday

Thursday was a yo-yo day.  Certainly some ups.  And some downs.  And a little bit of everything in between.

Again, it was an uneventful morning.  No phone waking me at 2:05 am but an alarm ringing in my early shortly after 6.  I decided to set it a little early so I could cook something for the girls' lunches.  Turkey pesto paninis.  Coffee and paninis done by 6:30am.  Not bad.

I drove the girls to school.  I hate the school bus.  They hate the school bus.  I would never let my kids ride in a car without seat belts but here I put them on this bus that doesn't have enough seats for the all the kids so they're not only without seat belts but also without seats.  So when possible, I drive them.

Lucky for me, my work didn't start until 10.  That means I get a real breakfast!  Pumpkin pancakes.  Trader Joe's pumpkin pancakes are this family's weakness.  I like getting them all to myself once in a while.

Work was uneventful, which was welcome.  I've spent a lot of time in physical therapy following my barely-an-accident rear ending event in August.  I still can't believe that something I could drive away from could hurt like this.  I thought I was on the mend.  Apparently I'm wrong.  Today was a painful day.  Hopefully it will be the last of those.

There's always the challenge of figuring out how the girls are getting home from their after school activities.  Today was rough.  This is the hardest part for me as a single parent.  There is no one to share rides with (not that there was when I was married).  I rushed to pick up the girls so I could meet the plumber who was finally coming to fix my bathtub drain.  I was giddy happy at the thought of having a properly draining tub. It's been a while, which is gross at best.  This has been an ongoing problem in this house for years.  The super nice plumber fixed it and we're making plans to replace the pipes so the problem really gets fixed.  SO FREAKING HAPPY!  Plus he's a dad of twins.  Plus - and here's the really good part - he is in charge of the toilet decorating contest at the Montgomery County Fair!  We're decorating a toilet next year!  How cool is that!

Following all that excitement, we were left with the zombie question again:  What should the girls wear for the zombie walk?  Their dad came and took them out to shop.  They returned with full outfits.  Pretty impressive.

While they were out shopping, Andrew brought me dinner (Peruvian chicken - yum!) and we admired my neighbors decorations.

It was a fun, productive and busy day but boy oh boy, I am in need of sleep again.  The story of my life.......

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A week in the life: Wednesday

Wednesday is Zombie day.

Not the I-didn't-get-enough-sleep-so-I'm-walking-around-like-a-zombie kind of zombie day.  I'll explain in a bit.

Our morning routine is pretty standard.  If all is well, nothing changes.  This is exactly what I want. Today was a decent enough morning.  A new cereal made the girls happy.  Coffee makes mom happy.  All is right with the world.

I was able to prove to myself today that I can, indeed, behave like a grown up when needed.  I had a job that made me nervous this morning.  I knew I'd be tired after the Alanis show but I had to voice a presentation for a client I really don't want to disappoint and would be broadcast on through a webinar.  So, yeah, I was nervous.  I ended up rocking the voicing part.  At the end of that part of the presentation, the other interpreter (who was sitting next to me) took over the signing part.  Then there was a smell.  Not a pretty smell.  Oh my god.  Did that interpreter just fart right next to me?  I was trying not to look at her and trying not to show anything on my face.  In front of me was my client, another person with a guide dog and a third person.  I'm trying to figure out the source of the smell that just won't go away.  Finally I realize what's going on.  It's not the interpreter!  It's the dog.  No, I didn't laugh.  I did hear Phoebe (from Friends) in my head singing "Smelly Cat".  (smelly cat, smelly cat.....what are they feeding you?) but I didn't laugh.

That was pretty much the highlight of my day.  That is a sad statement.

I lived through the rest of my work.  I lived through the super speedy talkers with accents who were making 20 minute presentations in 5 minutes.  I thought I talked fast.  I have nothing on those folks.  That was a challenge.  I was missing my uneventful day.  Thankfully it didn't last over 2 hours.

Now here's where the zombie part comes in.  I'm taking the girls to downtown Silver Spring for what was *supposed* to be the Zombie Walk this weekend.  I went with my boyfriend last year and it was fun.  I've been waiting all year to bring the girls.  And they sort of cancelled it.  Grrrrh.  They're welcoming zombies but there's no formal walk.  We're still going all dressed up and we'll see where we land.  But zombie girls need an appropriate zombie outfit.  So off we went to the thrift store.

Should they be school girl zombies?  Prom zombies?  Slumber party zombies?  So many choices!  But there weren't any outfits that seemed just right.  So we quit and went home.  Their dad came up with a great idea.  Remember the movie "The Shining"?  I've never seen it - I can't handle super scary.  Apparently there's twins in it.  With a few adjustments, the girls are going to be those twins in zombie form.  Uh huh.  

That's the goal anyway.  Now, where does one find creepy little blue dresses like that?

The evening ended with one of our favorite activities - a dinner picnic while watching Switched at Birth.  Trader Joe's is my favorite place for finger foods.  Spanikopita and kielbasa made for a nice inside picnic.  Switched At Birth is a challenge for me.  I love the Deaf culture aspect but the sex stuff this season is tough for me.  My kids, of course, don't have a problem with it.  Thankfully I had only one episode recorded and when it was done, it was magically bed time.  Not bad!

All in all, it was a good day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A week in my life: Tuesday

You might be wondering, what is this "A week in my life" stuff?  Alissa over at is participating in Adventuroo's  "A week in the life" series.  So, because I like just about everything Alissa does, I'm doing it, too.  She's like my blogging mentor.  Or I'm like a puppy.  Take your pick.

Tuesday was at least a semi-interesting day.  It started at the butt crack of dawn for me.  Yes, that's right.  My evil phone decided once again to start waking me at 2:05 like it's been doing for DAYS.  I NEED SLEEP.  My phone is possessed.  After turning it off (which I'm not supposed to do because I'm on call but seriously folks, I NEED SLEEP), I did indeed fall back asleep until the alarm started to torture me at 6:30 am.  Even though I don't need to be up that early most mornings for work, I do the weeks my girls are with me.  Middle school starts way too early for me.

Thankfully the new rule of getting clothes and books and shoes all ready for the next day was in effect.  A few too many hits on the snooze button meant we were in a hurry.  But we made it out the door (mostly) on time.  The middle school news anchor made it to her desk on time.  Whew.

Work was uneventful.  Uneventful is good.  Sometimes it's just what I need.  Today is one of those days.

The after school rush was in full effect.  Homework done?  Check.  Everything organized?  Not really but we'll pretend.  I actually have plans tonight.  I have three concerts that I'm attending in a two week period - totally unheard of for me!  Last Saturday was the Indigo Girls in Baltimore.  Tonight is Alanis Morrissette in Silver Spring.  I've been wanting to check out the Fillmore and this seemed like the perfect show to see there.  So my friend, Amanda, and I are going.  Woo hoo!

My ex arrived on time to get the girls.  Everything is set.  And off I go.  Only I forgot my phone.  I did remember the tickets but I had to go back home (a whopping 10 mins) to get my phone because I don't memorize anyone's phone number and couldn't let Amanda know I was there.  Organization would be helpful here.  But, alas, no such luck.

The show was great.  She runs all over the stage.  Yes, she's got a lot of energy.  The audience was odd.  There were the 20 something girls screaming the words to You Ought To Know at the top of their (off key) lungs.  There were the 40 and 50 something year olds that looked a bit out of place. Yes, that is the pot calling the kettle black - I'm one of them!  (see previous post  There were the weird 30 something year olds on a freaky looking date.  It was an interesting night.

It was so interesting, in fact, that I couldn't sleep.  Midnight rolled around.  So did 1:00am.  But here's the great news!  2:05 came and went QUIETLY!  I followed my ex's advice and changed one setting on my phone and viola!  Success!  And sleep!  Not enough but some is better than none!

A Week in My Life: Monday

Monday is never a day I look forward to.  At least not most of the time.  Today wasn't a stellar day.

My day started at 2:05 am.  That's when my phone started rebooting and yelling DROID at me.  That continued every 5 minutes until 3 when I just couldn't take any more.  I don't care if I'm on call.  I need sleep!  So off went the phone.

Then the alarm started to taunt me at 6:30.  It took a while for me to realize I was not dreaming this.  It was really time to wake up.  Waking the girls up is always fun (not).

Pumpkin pancakes made.  Coffee made.  We're ready to go to school.  Then work.  Starting out in Silver Spring, ending up in Gaithersburg.  Driving back to Silver's a lot of time on the road.

On Sunday we designated Monday night an early-to-bed night.  A last minute change of dinner menu because M has a Very Loose Tooth.  Afraid it will come out mid-bite, she asked for soup.  Easy enough.  So it's dinner and a tv show or two and it's bed time - early tonight!  8:30!  I love that!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Being the wrong age

I have lived my life being the wrong age.  At every age, I'm the wrong age.

It started when I was young.  My mother told me I was born at the wrong time.  I loved everything about the 1920s and 1930s,  I was born to be a flapper girl.  But I was about 60 years late.

I was crimping my hair and dying it purple before it was popular to do.  I liked the way it looked but I got a lot of shit for it from the other kids in school.  Then a year or two later they were doing it.  I was ahead of my time.

I was the last of my friends to get married.  By many years.  But I think I was the smart one.  While it wasn't perfect and didn't last for forever as planned, I was still smarter for waiting.  I was an older bride.

When my kids went to preschool, I was closer in age to the grandparents than the parents of the other kids.  I hated that.  HATED THAT.  Now it's pretty much evened out as far as the ages of my kids' friends' parents.  I didn't feel old enough to be a parent of two.

Now I find myself realizing I'm the wrong age again.  I'm not mature enough to be a parent.  I love my children with all my heart but I'm not like a regular mom.  When they make farty sounds with their elbows, I still crack up.  I laugh at inappropriate things constantly.  I'm not a good role model.

I went to a concert tonight.  I was older than a lot of the people there, which was expected.  I wasn't as old (looking or feeling) as some of the other folks there that are probably closer in age to me than the friend that accompanied me.  Again, I'm the wrong age.  I feel younger than I am.  I'm annoyed when the occasional gray hair appears.  I don't have time for the arthritis that makes its presence known at inconvenient times.  I don't feel like half my life has been lived.

So I will continue to laugh uncontrollably at inappropriate things (my kids call this O.L.D. - overactive laughing disorder).  I will continue to giggle when I see people be silly.  I will continue to be the wrong age.  I will be 46 soon and will still be drying my hair by the open car window and laughing so hard I snort soda out my nose.  Things won't change.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Acorn meet tree

I hear a lot of comments about how my kids look like me.  My friends say they are a lot like me - which is, in many ways, true.  They are outspoken and opinionated and (in my humble opinion) funny as hell.  I like those common traits (I crack myself up so that's why I think it's a common trait).  There are others that give me concern.

I'm a nervous person by nature.  I've had anxiety issues for as long as I can remember.  I always assumed it was because of growing up with a parent who died - it made sense to me.  But now I have a kid with anxiety issues.  I see the look on her face and I know the feeling in her tummy.  She recognizes it in me, too.  When my anxiety levels rise, no matter how hard I try to conceal it, she comes over to put her hand on mine, a move that always relaxes me.  She takes care of me as much as I take care of her.  The other kid is aware of all of this, too, but she doesn't have the same anxieties.  She has a confidence I envy.  The anxious kid handles it well.  I like to think I've taught her well but I don't know if that's true.  She might just be smarter than me.  And maybe this is genetic.

I dropped them off for a girl scout trip the other night and saw the look on her face.  One kid went to play with the other girls.  This one just stood by my side, very quiet.  I knew what was happening.  I try different strategies with her - they all eventually work.  It's just a matter of getting her to trust in that fact.  I let her shed a few tears and reminded her how much she enjoyed these trips.  I reassured her that as soon as the caravan left, she'd be okay.  She trusted me.

I had a similar experience to my nervous daughter's last night.  I was supposed to go see a show with friends - friends who don't know about my nervous tendencies.  Would they want to be up front?  I can't handle crowds like that.  Will they make a big deal if I need to leave early (I stayed until the very end!)?  My enthusiasm for the show waned before I got there.  But I went.  And I'm so glad I did.  I think my boyfriend explained it best:  it's an issue of inertia.  If I can get past my issues enough to get moving, all will be okay.  And it was better than okay.  I had a great time - just what I needed.

I'm waiting for the call saying the girls are back from their camping adventure.  Judging by the lack of calls and texts earlier - none saying to come pick up my child - I will assume both girls were fine.    Guess I'll find out soon enough.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Queen of Procrastination

I am the self proclaimed Queen of Procrastination.  This is my most honed skill.  It's amazing what I can get done when I don't want to do something.

When I don't feel like invoicing or billing or running payroll, I have super clean toilets.  When I don't feel like paying bills, my kitchen sparkles.  When I don't feel like doing laundry, the girls and I spent a lot of time at the park, Brookside Gardens or anywhere else.  It's amazing the things I can find to do when I'm avoiding doing something that needs to be done.

But at some point there comes a time when I need to be an adult.  I need to do the things I don't want to do.  If I wait long enough, that time will eventually come.

Until that happens, I will continue to scrub bathrooms, do dishes, go for walks and watch endless hours of Dexter and The Walking Dead in an effort to distract me from what I need to do.  So now I will turn off the tv and turn off the computer and make my way to bed.  Then tomorrow I will make my list of all the things I need to do and another list of the ways to avoid doing them.  I'm good at that.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Fine Line

My mother always told me there's a fine line between love and hate.  There's also a fine line between hate and ignorance.  There's a fine line between lots of things.

This point was driven home to me recently.  One of my daughters said that an educator at school had used the term "retarded" to speak about someone who did something stupid.  My daughter immediately corrected him.  "That's not an appropriate word to use!" He immediately apologized and thanked her for correcting him.  She came home and told me about it.  I was proud of her for many reasons.  I was proud that she felt comfortable enough to correct a teacher and that she knew to do it.  I was sad because it knocked him off the pedestal on which she had him placed.  I was surprised that someone in that profession would use that term.

While observing at school today, I decided to talk to this instructor about his choice in vocabulary.  It was an interesting discussion.  He explained why he used that word, why it was wrong and apologized again for it.  I left with the feeling that it was not said out of hatred but rather out of ignorance.  It's not an excuse but it does make a difference.

I discussed this with someone else who kind of chastised me for defending a person who uses hate filled words.  Normally, I wouldn't defend that behavior.  But this one was different.  After speaking with the teacher, I didn't get a sense of hatred at all.  Just ignorance.  Education seems to be what's needed here.  I'm proud that my 11 year old was the one to do the educating.

It lead me to think about other words that have become inappropriate to use and why I feel this is different.  Everyone knows not to use racial slurs.  More than one generation has passed since it was established that discriminatory words weren't appropriate and I'm thrilled that my kids have never heard most of those words.  It's not in their world so it's not in their vocabulary.  Success there.  I almost never hear people use words that are anti-gay or centered on people's sexual orientation.  Success again but that's taken a while.

The only words I could come up with to compare to this situation are "deaf and dumb" and "hearing impaired".  I think most folks know better than to use the D and D term.  It's been a long time since I've heard that.  Hearing Impaired still comes up quite frequently but when I politely say "the proper term is Deaf", that's the end of it.  No one argues.  Change happens, just slowly.

My children have someone important in their lives who has Down Syndrome.  Between that fact and knowing what I do for a living, they have a keen awareness of appropriate vocabulary used in the disability community.  Hate words are not used in their world.  It's interesting to think that their children will not have racial slurs, homophobic or discriminatory vocabulary in their worlds.  Or at least I can hope......

Friday, October 5, 2012


So often in my life, I want proof of things.  I'm not good at going on faith, though I have been known to try that once in a while as well.  Proof is preferred.

I try different parenting strategies with my girls from time to time.  When I need to make a change in my life (generally some sort of kick of my own ass), I usually share this thought with my girls and there are discussions and attempts at fulfilling whatever goal I have set forth.  Some are more successful than others.  Tonight I got proof that my determination to think in a more positive manner is working.

The girls had been separated all week thanks to different schedules for outdoor education classes.  This worked well for us - they missed each other.  After a bit of time together, A starts complaining about someone.  She didn't like something this other child did and felt the needs to share that in a pretty bitchy way.

This is where my proof appeared.

M said "I don't hear anything positive in what you just said.  Can you restate that in a positive way?"

A just stared at her.

Then she said "I prefer hanging out with (another child).  She makes me laugh.  I'm happier around her."


Pah!  There's my proof.  It made my otherwise grumble bunny day perfect.

I love my daughters.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Grumble bunnies

When my kids are grumpy, I call them Grumble Bunnies.  I have become a Grumble Bunny.

I am full on bitchy.  No, that's not right.  I'm sad.  No, that's not it.  It's a combo.  Bad.  Get it?  Bitchy + Sad = Bad.  At least I make myself laugh.

Why am I Bad?  Here, let me list it for you.

I have not had a good parenting week.  And what makes it worse is I've only had one kid (they changed in the middle) and they're staying with their dad!  That just sucks.

I do not feel like being a good daughter.  But I have to.  There is no one else.

Business is booming.  This is fabulous.  But it makes me work until the wee hours of the morning on a regular basis.  I am overwhelmed.

I am still in physical therapy, which hurts, for an accident that wasn't my fault.  This annoys me greatly.

I feel like an alien around those who should know me best.  I don't understand how this is true.

Now, none of this is completely horrible.  The fact is, it's been a decent week.  Why?  Here, I'll list that for you, too.

I had a few canceled/billable jobs this week.  That is always wonderful.

I got good medical news.  No more MRIs for 5 - count 'em FIVE!! - years.

I have a family that loves me.

I have friends I cherish and I know love me.

It's warm out.  This always makes me happy.

So my goal for the weekend, which will give me both girls back, is to breathe.  Relax.  Have fun.  No work, just festivals.  We'll (hopefully) hit the festivals in Germantown, the Russian one in DC, Takoma Park and maybe a market or two.

I'll give myself an attitude adjustment and a swift kick in the ass.  No more Grumble Bunnies.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A change in thinking

I had an interesting conversation with someone I work with the other day.  We were talking about the house he lives in (a super nice one in a nice neighborhood).  I said I didn't want to live where I live any more.  I also said I didn't want to be age 80 and still interpreting.  I told him of a few other things I didn't want to be doing.  He stopped me, explained some neuro-linguistic theory and asked me to re-phrase.  What do you mean? "Rephrase in the positive".  Rephrase in the positive ..... I had to think about that a bit.  "Think about what you're saying - is it positive or negative?"

Oh!  I get it!

That led to an interesting discussion with my girls.  One of our daily topics of conversation is "what did you do today to make a positive difference to someone?"  This fits with that.  It's made me think of how I speak.  "I don't want...." is getting replaced with "I would like to have" or "I will work towards getting..."  It's weird but I kinda like it.

It also leads to my kids having to come up with solutions, not just complaints.  Instead of "I don't want (whatever) for dinner", give me a positive statement.  "I would like to have kielbasa and pierogies for dinner.  Much easier.  "I don't want to clean my room" becomes "I would like to work for a half hour (and get it inspected) so I have time to play."  I can live with that.  It'll take a while for this to become our normal and truthfully I'm not sure that we'll ever get rid of all the negative statements.  But this is a good start!

Now, how to end the sibling bickering.....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lucky me

I am lucky for a number of reasons.  On this 11th anniversary of 9/11, I'm reminded of just how lucky I am.  I was thinking of this as I was writing my facebook status.  What a difference between my life and my children's lives.

Why I am lucky/grateful/thankful:

1.  I wasn't in the Pentagon on that day.  I worked over there enough over the years but was still on maternity leave.  My friends weren't there, either.  Very lucky indeed.

2.  I remember a pre-9/11 life.  I remember being able to take my mom to NIH when she visited, walking around without a security check.  I remember being able to go into the Smithsonian museums and the Post Office Pavilion without walking through metal detectors.  I remember being able to drive past the White House.  And, the one that really bothers me, I remember driving without the Report Suspicious Activity signs above the beltway.

3.  I know a lot of people who had family and/or friends die on 9/11.  I am not one of them.

4.  I am no longer naive.  I don't assume my world is safe.  I pay attention to my world around me.

5.  While I don't pretend to understand those that join the military, I am grateful for their service.  They do what I wasn't willing to do myself.  I respect that more now than I ever did before.

To those that died, we will never forget.  To those that protect us, thank you.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday 5 - Back to school twofer.

It's Friday - and as the saying goes, Thank God!  It's been a long week which is silly because it was a short week.  We've now been back to school for two weeks.  Two. Very. Long. Weeks.  There's a lot I liked.  There are some things I don't.  Maybe today I'll do a twofer.  I'll do 5 things I like and 5 things I don't like.  Wow, that's ambitious of me - before 8 am on a Friday!

Things I Don't Like:

1.  The 7:05 school bus that arrives early, takes my kids to a different school and makes them transfer buses.  Whatever happened to the bus that picked up at a normal hour and drove them directly to school?  Oh yeah, we're magnet school to be us.

2.  The size of text books.  This is a big difference from last year.  I will be grateful is my kids don't look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame when they graduate.

3.  Physical Education.  They have it 3 days a week - but only for three semesters.  That doesn't make much sense to me.  Plus I never see the clothes they have to wear.  I can only imagine when the PE lockers smell like.....ewwww.

4.  Paperwork.  This school sends home just as much paperwork as the last school.  I have a forest worth of papers in my house that can be attributed to the junk from the school.

5. 7:55 start time.  Who thought this was a good idea?  Certainly not me.

Things I Do Like:

1.  Responsibility.  The girls have finally figured out how to get from point A to point B on time and generally remember their homework.  This is a major improvement.

2.  They can walk home from the bus stop by themselves.  They have some independence and don't rely on me to have to finish work by 3pm every day.  Serious progress.

3.  They do interesting things at school and they're meeting new people.  They're growing up....sniff....sniff.

4.  The media center (library back in my day) is their favorite place in the school.  They haven't read all the books in this one (unlike elementary school).

5.  Edline.  The girls can get school assignments, papers, etc. online any time they want.  Brilliant.  And it's about time.

Clever Compass' Friday 5

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Being grateful

I had an argument the other day with M.  "You don't understand what it's like to have to share everything!" she yelled at me.  She's right.  I don't.  "We're the only ones in our class who haven't been to Paris!"  Well, that's tough for you, isn't it?  Since when does an 11 year old have a right to expect things like a trip to Paris, an iPad or any other electronic or a big ass house?  I left that conversation mad at her and mad at me.  Clearly, I am failing in this area as a parent.  Overall, I think I do a good job.  But this kid does not understand how to be GRATEFUL for what she has.  i don't get it.

My friends tell me this is just the beginning of puberty hitting.  After getting so freaking mad at her, she has changed her tune a bit.  She doesn't like me mad, that's for sure.  I am pretty open with my kids about things - I can't buy what I want when I want because I have to be responsible and make sure things like the mortgage and utilities get paid.  School activities, their hobbies, clothes - it all costs money.  But the reality is everything they need, they have.  Ninety percent of what they want, they get.  It might not be on their time frame but they get them.

I thought we had instilled these values pretty early on.  They've only been allowed to ask Santa for three gifts.  That's it.  It has forced them to really think about what they want - not waste their wishes on silly things they won't use.  It's been good.  Until now.  I don't know if it's peer pressure or pre-teen crap or what but this stage is making me nuts.

Maybe it's time for self reflection.  Assuming that their dad and I are still their primary influences (and that's a big assumption), they must be learning something here from us.  Or maybe rebelling against what we've taught them?  Or may they're just tired of being very middle class and seen as a pair when they really are quite individual.  Maybe they're just testing their limits.  Maybe they're just trying to make me nuts.

It's back to the drawing board for teaching gratitude.  First stop, a homeless shelter.  Maybe seeing and helping others who are not as fortunate as them will help.  Maybe it will just make me feel better.  Maybe, maybe, maybe....

I'm encouraged by the knowledge that other people's twin girls have lived past age 11.  So I know we'll get through it all.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday 5 - Inventions that do not help me at all

The last post was about inventions that are helpful.  There's a lot of stuff out there meant to be helpful but aren't.

1.  The snooze button on my alarm clock.  The snooze button itself is probably a good idea.  The fact that it's located just next to another button is the problem.  One little slip at 5:30am in my sleep coma and the alarm doesn't ring again.  This is a problem.

2.  Voice command on my phone.  This is supposed to allow me to text without hands.  Maybe it works for some folks but my phone has a sense of humor.  I was texting a friend one day to tell him about my day.  What I said was "I'm having a good day.  I have a good client and a good team."  My phone sent him "I'm putting my penis in my client."  Not even close.

3.  GPS.  I know the roads (here) better than my GPS.  And she yells at me.  I get yelled at enough from humans.  I don't need this crap from my electronics.

4.  Travel mugs.  They work in theory but they are missing one big thing: a voice reminder to take it with me.  I make coffee most mornings.  The cup is still there in the afternoon when I return.  Not helpful.

5.  MP3s.  Yes, they sound good but there's no more touching the vinyl.  There's no more album art (remember Led Zeppelin's In Through the Out Door and it's cool paint with water cover?  Or the Velvet Underground's Andy Warhol banana peel?  Or even Styx Paradise Theatre's etched vinyl?)  I miss those.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Friday 5 on Tuesday - 5 inventions I love

So I missed last Friday.  It happens.  We're going to play Friday 5 on a Tuesday, just to mix things up a bit.

I was thinking about things that make my life easier.  There are so many things, little things thought of by people who are creative, that help my life.  Here are a few.

1.  The re-usable K cup.  When my kids (and their dad) got me a Keurig for Mother's Day, I was less than thrilled.  I live within a budget and coffee for that thing wasn't going to fit in it.  Plus it's just more stuff in landfills.  The re-usable K cup solves all those problems.  Brilliant.

2. The automatic ice maker.  One of the big arguments in my house growing up was "who left the ice tray with just one cube in it??".  That and who only fills up the little cubes half way making for little ice cubes - makes me nuts.  I don't have to think about that any more.

3.  Texting.  I don't actually like talking to people.  Texting allows me to communicate without having to have personal interaction.  Perfect!  It also lets me say totally inappropriate things to people at times I couldn't normally.  I can text my boyfriend with an inappropriate comment while at the doctor's office (not in front of the doctor, I'm not rude).  It provides me with good distractions.  And yes, bad distractions, too.

4.  The beeping thing that lets me find my car.  I would lose my car (especially my rental that is beige!) daily if I couldn't hit the little button that helps me find my car.  I'm pretty sure that annoys people in the parking garages and lots where I park but it prevents me from looking like a moron walking up and down all the aisles looking for my car.

5.  The DVR.  I don't watch a ton of tv.  Okay, I sort of do.  But I love a limited amount of tv.  I love the Big Bang Theory.  I love The Walking Dead.  I have a few things I really want to see, but I want to see them on my time.  DVR is awesome.  I can fast forward over the things my kids shouldn't see.  I can preview things they want to see but I'm unsure is appropriate for them.  This is a good invention.  It's not as friendly as my DVD player.  That says Hello and Good Bye to me but DVR is still a good thing.

Clever Compass' Friday 5

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Snow, accidents and shaved legs, oh my!

When bad weather happens, people (here) worry about milk, bread and toilet paper.  I think about shaving my legs.  I make sure my legs are shaved when it snows or there is bad weather.  I need to remember to do this on days when I have car accidents.

I was rear-ended a few days ago.  Nothing too serious, mostly just annoying.  I went the next day to get checked and realized I didn't want to go because A) I hate hospitals and B) my legs weren't shaved.  I know the doctors don't give a shit about my legs.  My boyfriend doesn't care when my legs aren't shaved.  No one cares.  Except me.

Last year my appendix decided it wanted to escape my body.  I waited a bit too long to go to the hospital.  Why?  A) I hate hospitals and B) my legs weren't shaved.  But I was able to rest assured that I was going to surgery with shaved legs.  Because the surgeon and anesthesiologist and nurses would care. No, they wouldn't.

At the end of my pregnancy, I had a few problems.  The doctors decided it was time to induce me.  I'd like to go get lunch (and shave my legs first).  Can I have some time?  Sure, they told me.  So I went home, shaved my legs and went to get Chinese food.  First things first, right?  Three hours later they were calling me to ask where I was.  On my way....

I had one accident experience previous to this.  I was 16 and was, again, rear ended.  My first thought? Well, after the whole oh shitness of it all it was Thank God it was gym day.  My legs were shaved.

Yes, this is silly.  I do know that.  I didn't shave my legs before going to hospital last weekend.  It stressed me but I'm pretty sure no one cared, except my boyfriend who had to hear me grumble about it.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sibling Insanity

I'm familiar with the concept of sibling rivalry.  That makes sense to me.  But this sibling insanity - what I call the constant fighting, bickering, bitchiness aimed at each other ALL. DAY. LONG. - is insane.  Why do they do this?  I have one sibling, a brother, who is 10 years older than me.  We fought (still do) but not like this.  Granted, one good punch and he would've knocked me out but still. We didn't do this so it's foreign to me.  I now understand why a mother I met long ago said Jagermeister was her best friend and started drinking it shortly before dinner every night.  But it's not constant snottiness, which is where I get confused.  Sometimes they're as sweet as can be to each other.  Do you want a glass of milk?  I'll get it for you.  Then about 30 seconds later, bam!  The bitchiness starts again.

Everyone but me had siblings close in age.  Did your parents beat some sense into you?  Did they all become alcoholics?  What's the cure for this???

I'm reminded of a man I ran into in OCNJ when the girls were just a few months old.  He was on the boardwalk and I was pushing the double stroller past him and he said "double trouble!".  I was so offended.  I said no, double blessing.  He started yelling at me.  "I have girls!  I know whereof I speak!"  Mike pretty much had to restrain me from punching him.

Now I'm wondering if he wasn't right.....

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sorry, no sari

My children are odd.  But I'm used to it so they don't seem so odd to me any more.  There are a few instances of peculiar behavior that will forever stay in my head.  The sari years experience is one of them.

A was sure she was Indian.  She wanted to wear saris and bindi and all sorts of bling.  This started somewhere around the age of 3 or 4.  There were tears when I forbade her to wear saris to preschool.  Mind you, I played along enough to have quite a collection of saris.  At Halloween she wanted to be an Indian princess.  Actually she was an ice skating Indian princess.  Yes, she wore a sari on skates (not easy, in case you were wondering).  Santa put bindi in her stocking.  We accepted this part of her.

Then one day we were walking into Giant (grocery) when she announced "I hope today is the day I meet my birth mom".  Huh.  Um, I reminded her, you're a twin.  I'm your mom and M's mom.  "No, you're M's mom but my mom wears a sari."  Great.  It continued for a while longer and then seemed to fall out of her memory.  Thankfully.

I mentioned this story to Andrew (bf) a while back.  So when he saw there was an Indian event open to the pubic at the University, he sent me the flier.  We went tonight.

It was interesting.  There was dancing and music and speeches I didn't quite follow.  There were women who jingle-jangled with all their bling.  Very fun.

Then A leans over and says "I bet my birth mom is over there ......"


Saturday, August 11, 2012

When hospitals become home

Much of the last two years have been spent in hospitals.  Thankfully, only one time was for me (plus one additional er visit).  I realized last night, while sitting in Suburban Hospital's ER, that I recognize the people who work there.  One was there when my appendix blew up.  One was there when my mother-in-law was taken there.  Another was there when I was interpreting.  It's strange.  I was interpreting there last year on the 6th floor when a nurse stopped talking to the patient, looked at me and said "I recognize you.  You've been here before."  Yes, I said, I have.  Continue talking, please.  She continues on for a while and when we left the room she said "You have twin girls.  You were here quite a bit with a family member."  It had been a year after we spent a very long month getting Ruth treatment there yet she remembered me.  I was both impressed and saddened.  So much of our time was there that she remembered us (thankfully fondly).

So, let's see.  What's the hospital count?  Remember, this is just for the last two years.  There are more if you count the decade.

Ruth: Suburban and Shady Grove (at least a month at each, multiple times)
Mike: Suburban, Shady Grove
Me: Suburban (just once, for a few nights for my appendix) and Shady Grove Germantown ER for the beer bottle that exploded in my hand.
Girls: Holy Cross, ER only, after A broke M's finger during a game of Dog and Fire Hydrant.  No, I didn't ask a lot of questions about that.  The less I know, the better.
My Mom: Suburban (twice, both ER visits, no overnights)
Andrew: NONE!  He's the winner!

I recognize a lot of the staff at Suburban.  I wouldn't recognize anyone at Shady Grove.  I think that was such an emotional time that I didn't really care about anyone there.  I've become a hospital snob.  I'll go to Suburban any time, never to Shady Grove and only to Holy Cross if there are no other options.  I can add connoisseur of hospitals to my resume.  Just what I wanted.....

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday 5 - Summer camp!

I have mixed feelings about summer camp.  I didn't go when I was young.  First, I hate to camp (as in be outside with the bugs and toilets that are not guaranteed to flush).  Second, I'm not a good team player.  And I don't think my mom needed to put me in camp.  I lived much of her working life in a townhouse community.  I just lived at the pool.  My kids, however, need to be in camp.  They can't stay home alone all day.  It's not fun and it's a guaranteed thing they'll find trouble.  So off to camp they go.

Camps have been tough for us.  We did the drop-in sort of camp for a few years.  That worked great for my schedule but the girls didn't love it.  Sports camp was met with enthusiasm, but briefly.  This year we did a few different things.  We sent them to sailing camp in Sodus Point, NY (they stayed with family).  That was awesome.  And they went to Camp Ahava here in Silver Spring before and after the NY experience.  They love it there.  It's a small camp located at our local Jewish center.  The camp is open to all kids, which is good because my kids aren't being raised Jewish.  They love this place.  Here's why:

1.  Swimming.  They go to the local swim club three, count 'em - 3!, times a week.  Swim classes are offered.  My little fish love it.

2.  Field trips.  Every week they've gone somewhere.  One week it was to Butler's Orchard to pick blueberries for baking.  Another week was a water park.  This week was the butterfly garden at Brookside Gardens.  Last week was rock climbing.  All were met with great enthusiasm.

3.  Baking.  Every week they bake something.  Often it's challah bread in preparation for shabbat dinner.  They've made other things - each age group makes something different.  And apparently they're all usually pretty yummy.

4.  Roller skating.  They roller skate all around the facility (inside!) when they aren't involved in another activity.  The girls think this is fun.  I think it must be tough to be a counselor when all your charges are on skates.

5.  Counselors.  The girls like their counselors.  They like all the staff at the camp.  This is a first.  I don't hear anything grumpy or complaining about this camp.  The director and the staff in the office seem to genuinely care if the campers are having fun.

It's nice to finally send them some place they really, really want to go.  Everyday they tell me of their adventures and it's usually done with excitement and pride in their camp.  This makes me happy.

Clever Compass' Friday 5

Saturday, August 4, 2012

My quiet stupid protest

My mother told me not long ago that I am raising rabble-rousers.  I don't fully disagree but I might have  labeled my style of parenting differently.  But, the fact is, I am raising kids with the motto "Silence Equals Agreement".  I am rarely silent and am teaching them to (politely) speak their mind when they see an injustice.

Today's event was not really an injustice.  It was an annoyance.  It was stupid.  But we silently stated our protest anyway.  Just to make a point.

We were at the fountain in Silver Spring.  We walked around the farmer's market, strolled past the crafts/small business market and made our way to the fountain to cool off.  Yes, we were dressed in our regular clothes.  If we get wet, that's our problem, right?  Apparently not.  The security guards came over to tell us we couldn't be in the fountain.  The reason?  We were not in bathing suits.  There was a lot of chlorine in the water and it would make our clothes smell.  That was the reason.  That was the same reason they gave some mom of a two year old in what the guard called "basketball shorts".  It looked like a bathing suit to me. What do these guards care what we're wearing as long as our girly bits are covered?  It's their job, they told me.  Uh-huh.

We sat over to the side for a bit, watching the folks in the water.  Yes, there was a strong scent of chlorine.  I still don't know why I'm supposed to care.  There were other kids in the fountain in clothes.  No one addressed them.  There was a mom getting her feet wet (in street clothes).  No one cared.  Hmpf.

So what was our protest?  The girls and our accomplice, Amanda, took their shoes off and walked slowly through the fountain.  There you go, Mr. Security Guards.  Take that!  The girls got wet anyway!  A turned back to look at the guards.  They were smiling.  They appreciated our protest.  So there, Silver Spring!  Your rules are dumb.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday 5 - 5 things I would like to outsource

I do some things very well.  I laugh a lot.  I get into enough trouble to keep me happy.  I'm competent at my job (most days).  I'm a good enough mom and a good enough girlfriend.

There are some things I don't do so well.  Or rather I don't want to do so well.  I'd like to outsource those things.  In other words, I need an Alice, Mrs. Livingston, Mr. French or whoever the current sitcom maid/housekeeper is.  I'd be a good client.  Okay, I'd be a challenge.  But the laughter would be worth it....maybe.

1.  I would (at least temporarily) outsource cooking.  I'm highly mediocre at it.  My boyfriend is polite and eats it.  My kids tolerate it.  Some days are better than others.  Breakfast (pancakes with chocolate chips and oats - surprisingly good!) is okay.  Dinner last night gave us all serious gas.  There's got to be a better way.

2.  If I never did laundry again, I'd be a happy girl.  The problem with this is I'm picky.  I could take it to the laundry that charges $1/pound.  But I don't like the smell.  I want someone to do it here, where the germs and detergent can be controlled.

3.  I hate mowing the lawn.  I hate it.  I will never like it.  I don't like weeding, whacking, any of it.

4.  Making lunches.  I don't know why but I detest making school/camp lunches.  It isn't hard.  I'm usually prepared.  I even have good ideas.  I just hate doing it.  For no good reason.

5.  Paperwork.  I hate it and it hates me.  It's a mutual thing.  I can never get rid of it and it never stops coming into my house.  I need a paper nanny - someone to take care of it all.  I seriously suck at this.

There are plenty of things I'm good at.  I don't even completely suck at my list above.  I just don't like doing them.  I should probably add that I want to outsource the whole car buying thing but that will be a future post.

Clever Compass' Friday 5

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Paper Monster

It's amazing what a huge impact paper has on my home.  It's everywhere.

I am a big recycler.  If it can be recycled, it is.  Yet, I think what doesn't get recycled reproduces.  There's no other explanation for the amount of paper that is in every room of this house.  Oh, yeah, there is.  I suck at filing and the school district feels the need to inundate every home with as much paper as possible.  When a family has more than one kid, that's a hell of a lot of paper.

So, what's a girl to do about this?  Fill the recycling bins, of course.  The things that seemed sentimental at the beginning of the school year are much less so now.  Even my kids can look at something and say trash it.  That's new.

In my next life, the schools won't use so much paper.  The mail service will stop bringing me junk I don't want.  And I'd be just as happy if they stopped bringing me bills.  Really, I'd be happy if the mail carrier would just skip my house.

What's that sound I hear?  Is it the sound of more paper hitting the recycling bin?  No, I believe that's the low moan of paper reproducing.  Damn, I'm never going to get a handle on this.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday 5 - if I had nothing to do....

There is never a day when I have nothing to do.  There's always laundry, cleaning, billing, payroll - something to do!  This morning I laid in bed thinking about what I'd do if I had nothing to do.  Since that never happens, it was hard to come up with 5 things.  But here's what I came up with:

1.  Read.  I'd read my mindless magazines.  I'd read my trashy books.  I'd read all the stuff I don't normally have time to read.  Maybe even the newspaper - including the crossword!

2.  I'd catch up on the few tv shows I like.  I do this sometimes while I'm cleaning or working but this time I'd actually get to watch the tv, not just listen to it.

3.  I'd catch up on emails.  All 27 gazillion that I owe people.

4.  I would sleep.  I might wake up for a while but then I'd sleep again.  And then again.

5.  If I ventured out of the house, I would go to Brookside Gardens or the National Botanical Gardens at the Capitol.  There is nothing better than getting a pollen covered nose.

One day I'll have nothing to do.....

Clever Compass' Friday 5

Saturday, July 21, 2012


My mom used to tell me that when people died, sometimes you could still feel their presence in certain places like their houses or offices.  I didn't really understand that.  Until now.

I'm sitting at the table at The Cottage.  The Cottage was built by my mother in law's father way back when.  It's a small structure - really, a cottage.  It sits on Lake Ontario which is a BIG lake - more like a pretty calm ocean (until a storm hits).

I came up here regularly early in my marriage.  It didn't hold many good memories for me.  My MIL and I didn't enjoy each other's company here much.  My FIL and I did, though.  He understood me better than anyone.  But when he was gone (mentally, he had Alzheimer's), there was no one left.  Or so I thought.

The first time I came here, Uncle John would eat off my plate if he thought I wasn't going to finish something.  The man was in perfect condition - I didn't get it.  He could eat everything, clean his plates and everyone else's too, and be so thin.  He was an engineer at Kodak - super smart man.  He was always polite to me; I just didn't think he understood me.  He was a Bishop after all.  And they all thought I was nuts.  Or just different.  I was.  I am.

Then I started to stand my ground: no, I don't want to go to the Cottage this year for my only vacation.  I want a vacation with just my family, not all the others, too.  No one understood it.  I was the pariah for a long time.  Then one year, the husband and kids came up for several days without me.  They picked me up from the Buffalo airport and we went to Niagara Falls before heading back here.  By the time we got back here, my MIL was gone.  It was just John.  Everyone was mad at me.  Except John.  One evening he stayed up to watch the stars with me.  Stand your ground, he said.  Don't give in.  You have a right to be happy, too.  He understood me.  Finally.  It changed our relationship.

Divorces happen.  People drift apart.  I still saw John when he visited his sister but not often.  His death, shortly before my MIL's, was unexpected and extremely painful for all.  It still is.  Now here I sit, in his house at his table (now really his daughter's), thinking about him.  I can almost hear his voice.  "Judi, how are you doing?" he'd ask genuinely.  I can feel him hug me, giving me a firm pat on the back, his hand open and warm.  His voice was a little raspy, deep and had a Rochester accent.  I miss him and Ruth here.  But I feel him here.

This place used to give me anxiety.  Now it brings me calm.  A function of age?  Perhaps.  The fact that I no longer have to be the dutiful wife and daughter-in-law?  Probably.  Mostly it's the sound of the water, the smell of the air and knowing this house is always full of love.  I just couldn't see it before.  Such wasted time!  I wish I could turn back the clock a bit.  I would have enjoyed my weeks here more.  So, for now, I take solace in knowing my kids are experiencing this the way their Grandma and Uncle would have wanted.  That's good enough.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday 5 - Why the last 24 hours have been stupendous

I write this while sitting in the dark at my ex's family's cottage in Sodus Point, NY.  I can hear the waves lap the shoreline on Lake Ontario.  I've been thinking all day about how incredibly lucky and grateful I am.  So many thoughts....only 5 things to list.

1.  I won't put down seeing my kids after a month.  That's a given.  I'll say seeing them sail by themselves in small little sail boats was pretty cool.

2.  Walking along the beach, just the three of us, looking for sea glass and fossils.  I hope they never forget this.  I won't.  This activity alone made my heart sing and made this day rank up there in my top 10 of all time.

3.  Watching the sun rise at 5:30 this morning (okay, it was sort of already up but that's as close as I'm going to get) and set again this evening.  Beautiful.

4.  Being in this odd little town.  I used to dread coming here.  Now I think of all the time I wasted in NOT coming when I had the opportunity.  We can walk everywhere.  My kids rode their bikes to camp ALONE.  People said "Good Morning!" to me when I walked by.  It's like a different time.

5.  Stars and Satellites.  They're everywhere here!  And I get to sit outside with my girls and count them.  So amazing.....