Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday 5 - MAGIC

Clever Compass' Friday 5

My friend, Alissa, over at Clever Compass ( is doing a Friday 5 series and has asked me to join.  I'm in!

This week's 5 is MAGIC!

Hmmmm.....MAGIC!  I've had a handful of times in my life that involve magic.  My favs?

1.  When I was little, my mom used magic to make the traffic lights turn green.  She did that for years!  It wasn't until I was driving that I realized she watched the opposing lights and when they turned yellow, she'd start her poem "Abracadabra, abracadee.  Red light turn green for me!"  It worked every time.

2.  In our brief quest to decide if we would raise our kids Catholic or Methodist, the ex and I visited a few churches.  One was an interesting Catholic church in Hillandale.  There were folks speaking all sorts of different languages and people said hello to us (a new experience for us at the time).  I have no idea what the sermon was about but the priest did magic.  He made his thumb come off.  I was fascinated.  I'd go back again if I thought he'd do magic again.

3.  I have a magic trick of my own.  When I'm waiting for a metro train to appear and it won't, I call someone.  I call and say I'm going to be late.  As soon as I do that, VIOLA!  A train appears.  Like magic.

4.  When my girls were old enough to chew gum, their lives changed.  They love gum.  And I mean LOVE it.  I forget which kid it was but one was chewing her gum and swallowed it on accident.  She was freaked out.  So her dad (and later her babysitter when it happened again) made it magically come out of her belly button.  That was cool magic.  She was fascinated.  So was I.

5.  I am unable to do real magic.  My kids got a magic set for some holiday several years ago.  It came with instructions.  Even with the instructions I couldn't do half the tricks.  So that was magic frustration!


Thursday, April 26, 2012


When I become Queen of the World (yeah, here we go again), I'm going to have Respect Police.  It seems to me that much of what's wrong with the world could be fixed or at least improved if people were more respectful of each other.

Now, that said, I don't always follow that advice.  I tend to yell a lot, at least when pushed.  I don't have much patience and sometimes that shows as a lack of respect for folks.  I have sensory issues and when I'm on overload, all respect is gone.  I need sound to stop and stop now.

I decided to try something a little different today.  I didn't really make a decision to change per se but I did wake up deciding today was going to be a better day.  I woke up the girls in a kind, friendly way (this is our routine until a certain someone refuses to get out of the bed.  Then voices get raised - but not today!).  I was a little late so I asked them to get ready quickly, get breakfast and start on lunches while I showered and got ready for work.  By the time I got out of the shower, there was yelling and tears.  But none from me.  I gave them hugs, told them all would be okay and got everyone back on track.  I did that a handful of times.  I politely redirected behavior when necessary and managed to get everyone on the bus and me to work, all on time.  Pah!

At the end of their day, I picked them up from the bus.  Hugs for all.  Now, none of this is particularly unusual.  We hug a lot; we laugh a lot.  But usually at some point voices usually get raised.  Not today.

Homework started.  Many hours later, it's all done.  We lounge on the couch, watch silly videos on youtube, manage to find something to eat for dinner and laugh a lot.  There were two, count 'em - TWO, episodes of whining and/or tattling.  That's all.  When it was time for bed, one request was all it took.  Kisses for all, sweet dreams set.  Quiet.  Respect works.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The countdown is on

In two weeks, it will all be over.  Well, two weeks and one day.  If I live through this, I will consider this a success.

It's been a hell of a ride.  Some weeks have been good; others less so.  Last week was miserable.  I felt like I couldn't walk.  I felt like I was letting people down. I felt failure through every bone in my body.  My feet and legs were bloody, my spirit was destroyed.  My walking partner for that day, Andrew, was my cheerleader.  I might have given up and taken the bus home but I didn't.  That in itself was a victory, though I couldn't see it at the time.

I may have written about this before, I can't remember.  I think it about it daily, though.  Back in January when Amanda and I were sitting in the information meeting about the walk, she asked me if I'd be able to do this if Ruth died.  Sure, I said.  I'm doing this for me as much as for her.  That won't be a problem.  It wasn't going to be a problem because I didn't believe she'd really die.  At least not yet.  Not before this walk happened.  But she did and things haven't quite been the same since.

It wasn't really until last week that things really hit me.  I know I can't do 26 miles.  That's not me being negative.  That's me being realistic.  My foot hurts too much.  My stamina isn't there.  My training hasn't been enough to let me do 26 miles.  I decided a few weeks ago my main goal would be 13 miles each day - anything I do above that is extra.  I'm mostly okay with that, though there's still a part that feels like a failure because I didn't do what I said I would.  I will do my best and see what happens.

During my walk with Andrew last week, I stopped several times to elevate my swollen foot and to cry.  The reality of Ruth not being here hit me.  Amanda told me this would be an emotional event.  I don't do emotional so that it's affecting me is a surprise.  The pain, the amount of time I've been walking, the things I've missed because of training - it all hit me.  I thought doing this walk would lessen my feeling of loss.  It isn't really doing that.  I'm tired of walking and tired of thinking about it.

Amanda and I walked from the Bethesda metro to the National Cathedral today.  Wisconsin Ave has some serious hills on it.  Wowza.  But we passed Tiffanys, Jimmy Choo, Saks - all places that make me happy.  It was sunny out but not too hot.  We arrived at the cathedral and listened to the church bells.  It was breezy and beautiful.  There were tourists all around. People were happy.  I was happy.

The walk back to Bethesda was a little rough but not terrible.  Hills suck.  Always.  But walking through Tenley Circle, Friendship Heights, Chevy Chase and Bethesda was fun.  We saw things we tend to miss in cars - that's been the common theme while working.  I feel better about things today.

Two more weeks.....

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Rabble Rouser

My mother once said I was raising rabble rousers - kids who are very much like me and while they don't start the fires, occasionally they need to fan the flames.  They can't help themselves much like I can't help myself.  Especially with the religious protesters.  I don't seek them out.  They find me, which makes them fair game.

First we stumbled upon the "Put God and Prayer Back In Schools" folks.  There they stood, holding their big wooden crosses.  I get a star in my crown today for not talking to them.  After all, which God do they want in schools?  Allah?  Yahweh?  Jesus?  Who makes that decision?  As someone who does have a faith of sorts, I don't want God back in schools.  I want to teach my children.  That's my job, not the teacher's.  They left before I got my picture taken with them.  Rats.

There were lots of people trying to push their religious propaganda at me.  I wasn't the only one but I still wonder why they think I look like someone who wants that stuff.  An older woman, a senior citizen (important because my mom taught me to respect my elders) shoved a pink "Unofficial Guide to DC" pamphlet in my hand.  I opened it and found pictures, cartoons really, of Jesus.  I'm pretty sure Jesus doesn't really want to be drawn into a guide for tourists.  

When bf and I were walking home from the Cherry Blossom Parade (yep, walking from the Mall to Silver Spring!) we decided to go up 16th street.  There on the sidewalk was a woman on her knees,  head bent down, rosary beads in hand.  Huh.  She was right there on the sidewalk.  So I stopped to figure out why she was there.  And then it became obvious - the Planned Parenthood sign was right there.  She was praying for all the tortured souls who were getting their pap smears, gyn checks and mammograms.  How nice of her!  I did get a picture with her.  She did not enjoy that one bit, which made me feel oh so much better. 

Would I have done this in front of my children?  Absolutely.  Would they have wanted to be in the picture?  Yes.  I know this because of the comments A made when she saw the pro life stickers on the car parked next to us in the garage.  I know this because they are my children.  I don't think my mom was right.  They're not really rabble rousers.  The dictionary says a rabble rouser is "one that stirs up (as to hatred or violence) the masses of the people". Neither my children nor I engage in or encourage hatred or violence. It's quite the opposite, really. But we do speak our mind and stand up for what we feel is right. I'm good with that.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Uneventful is good

Me:  I would like a day of boring.  I want nothing to happen for one day.

A:  That will not happen, Mommy.  Not to you.  (thinks for a minute)  You would not be happy with boring.  It's, well, boring!

She's right.  Boring is boring.  I don't want it all the time.  Just for a day.  Maybe one day a month could be boring.

Yesterday started out quiet enough.  Work was work.  It was fine.  I arrived at the track after school to walk around while the girls did their Girls on the Run thing.  School friends were there with their dog.  All was great.  Then the dog got jumpy because the girls (two of theirs and my two) were jumpy and playing and SNAP!  There went the dog's mouth on A's tummy.  Shirt is ripped.  There appears to be a little blood. And all four girls are crying.  There goes boring right out of sight.

(Note:  this wasn't the girls' fault or even the dog owner's fault.  Girls will be girls and dogs will be dogs.  No hard feelings here.)

When I was talking to the dog's dad that evening, as we were getting ready to hang up the phone, he said "have an uneventful evening".  I say that!  Have an uneventful flight.  Have an uneventful appointment.  It doesn't mean boring.  It means I don't want anything to go wrong.  Uneventful is good.

Some days start out ordinary and end up anything but uneventful.  I will always remember the day I found out I was pregnant, the day we found there would be two babies, the day I found I had a "little something extra upstairs" - days that started out normal but weren't.  Those days were eventful.  Some eventful days are good.  My kids first day of school.  A great date.  Good things.  Others make me wonder why the universe is messing with me: the day M fell off the top of the playground climbing structure, scaring the begeebers out of another parent (and me); the day my mom called to ask me to take her to the hospital and finding LOTS of blood in her apartment (lesson: Parkinson's patients do not need super sharp knives); the day A broke M's finger during a game of "dog and fire hydrant" (no, I didn't ask a lot of questions about that one).

I am ready for uneventful.  Hear that, Universe?  Uneventful is good!

Monday, April 9, 2012


Easter has always been my favorite holiday.  I love Spring  I love the joyful feeling of the holiday.  I love it all.  But it's different now.

Stores are open.  I remember most things being closed on Easter when I was growing up.  People go about their normal activities - it's not a special day any more.

Growing up, I went to church on Easter.  I don't do that anymore.  I never understood the whole "He died for your sins" and was resurrected thing.  I always felt that I was accountable for my own sins - whether or not someone died for me (which is a feeling I really don't like.  I don't want someone dying for me!).  Still, everyone at church was happy (they believed more than I, apparently).  The music was happy.  Everything had a positive vibe.

I still like Easter.  But I don't bring my kids to church, which is a decision that gives me mixed feelings.  We do outside things most years.  I don't do the family dinner thing though we see our family.  I hated Easter family dinner growing up.  We went to a family member's house who always served ham and I don't eat pork.  It never bothered me - I just ate the salads and side dishes.  Then one year everyone made a big deal about it by trying to make me feel bad about not eating something they cooked and that was the end of family dinners for me. I don't miss that part.

Easter this year went well.  My girls started out with an Easter egg hunt at their dad's.  Then they came to me and we visited my mom.  No family dinner there but we had a nice lunch that made my mom happy.  We had a brief break at home before going to cook out with my bf at his house.  The Easter bunny made an appearance three times for my kids (dad's house, Nana's house, and then at my house).

So, how do I know the day was a success?  Because this morning I heard one kid say to the other "This was a great Easter, wasn't it?"  Yes, it was.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Training in the City

I've started walking around the city while training for my Avon Walk.  I have always loved cities.  I find peace among a lot of people.  I love the sights, the smells and the sounds.  I feel alive there.

I left the convention center where I was working and just headed up 7th Street.  I don't know exactly where it turned into Georgia Avenue but I knew it would.  I walked through some pretty interesting areas.  There were people sitting out on their front stoops, walking around, going from point A to point B and just wandering around.  People knew each other - I was clearly an outsider.  I was less of an outsider around Howard University, though I'm pretty sure I didn't look like their standard student.  I didn't feel unwelcome anywhere, but I didn't feel like I belonged there either.  Still, it was a different way to see the city.

When Amanda and I walked from Silver Spring to the White House last Saturday, we walked up 16th street, a road I've driven a million times.  Yet we saw things we hadn't thought of.  We saw beautiful gardens, huge houses, buildings we couldn't identify and vendors selling yucca and plantains (no, we didn't try them).  We stopped in the Greek Orthodox church for baklava and a clean bathroom break.  Everyone we passed was friendly.

Andrew and I walked all over Eastern Market through Capitol Hill and down on the Mall to L'Enfant Plaza last Sunday.  We passed beautiful flowers, the Supreme Court, protesters at Capitol Hill and tourists galore.  Walking smells better than metro.

When I'm not walking through the city I'm walking around Lake Artemesia in College Park.  There we see beavers, bats, ducks and listen to frogs and other creatures.  Training for this walk has been tough but I've seen things I wouldn't have seen otherwise, which is pretty cool.