Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Year That Flew By

It doesn't feel like end of the year.  It doesn't feel like a year has gone by.  But it has.  And so much has changed:

My kids are in high school.
My mom is in a nursing home.
I grew a bunch of food.

Okay, that's not SO MUCH. That's a kind of short list.  But it's all I can come up with.

Lots has stayed the same:

I worry about my mom (though this year is dramatically different from last year - she's safe now).
My dishwasher still doesn't work.
I'm still in the same field that I should have left years ago.
I'm still living in this house.

There's more but that list depresses me.  I asked my girls yesterday what personal goals they had for the upcoming year (response: silence) and what accomplishments they had for 2015 (made it to high school, had their first job).  It got me to thinking about my own stuff.

Personal goals:

1.  Keep walking.  It's good for me.
2.  Maintain life on the healthy track.  I miss some stuff but I feel better.
3.  Find out what I want to do for the next few years.
4.  Fix my house (youtube videos, here I come).
5.  Get my life in order.


1.  I didn't kill anyone.  Yay me!
2.  I started walking/paying attention to what I eat.  I no longer feel "allergic" to vegetables.
3.  I maintained a successful business.
4.  I stopped drinking soda (except for the rare occasion).
5.  I saw a HUGE amount of fireworks.

We'll see what 2016 has to bring.  I hope it's a quiet year.

Happy New Year to you all.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

I'll take Crazy Bitch for the Win!

I had my day pretty well planned out before I left the house today.  I knew where to park for my jobs today that would give me the most steps.  I knew what I was eating.  You see, I have to think about these things now.  It probably comes easy to you but it's not easy to me.  I have been living a mindless existence in many ways.  I eat mindlessly and I don't think about exercising.  I concentrate on what needs to get done in any given day - work, my kids, my mom.  That's about it.

But it's changing!

I am on my 30th day of hitting my walking goal of 10,000 steps or more each and every day. On 15 of those days, I hit over 11,000.  My highest day is 14,700.

So, what have I done?  I made doing something for me a priority.  That's been huge.  Every day I walk.  This seems to annoy my children but, get this, I DON'T CARE.  M is somewhat onboard meaning she'll walk with me occasionally.  A doesn't enjoy it at all.  But, here I go again, I DON'T CARE.  I'm still doing it.  Andrew walks with me often, which I enjoy and really appreciate.  My friends cheer me on, which is encouraging.  One of the best things is the interpreters who know what I'm doing and either encourage me to walk when we're working together or walk with me at lunch and on breaks.  That's been very motivating.

I'm paying attention to what I'm eating.  No more mindless grazing.  No more eating what I want when I want without thinking.  Now I eat vegetables with nearly every meal (and I am not a fan of veggies).  I cut out the things that I can't eat in normal portions - pasta, rice, crackers, etc.  I haven't had chocolate in weeks - and oddly, I don't miss it all.  I can't eat at a fast food restaurant (except salads at McDonald's, which I actually like).  I can't eat from a vending machine (unless it's a protein bar).  I only have soda occasionally when I'm out (like once or twice a month).  All the changes are making a difference.

The most obvious difference is I'm down a pants size.  That wasn't unexpected.  The things that have taken me by surprise are the confidence I have, the lack of the sick feeling I had most days and the fact that I no longer think trees give me hives.  Let's break that down:

1.  I have more confidence:  This was unexpected.  I not a generally confident person.  I feel differently now.  I have a goal.

2.  I don't feel sick: I had enough gastro issues that I was being referred to a gastroenterologist.  I rarely feel icky any more.  Massive change.

3.  Nature doesn't suck:  I'm much more of a city girl.  But all this walking through Sligo Creek, Lake Artemesia, Greenbelt Park - all over - has made me appreciate and actually enjoy the sound of the leaves rustling, chipmunks scurrying and woodpeckers being noisy.  I've learned to hear the difference between deer, squirrels and chipmunks in the woods.  It's strange but it's become my form of mediation, in a way.

You know that saying "you can't teach an old dog new tricks"?  I refuse to be called old or a dog.  So I'll take "The Crazy Bitch is Getting Her Shit Together."  That fits much better.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thank you, Facebook.....and Friends

Facebook has been a game changer for me in a multitude of ways.  There's the obvious - reuniting me with friends, locating family I didn't know, all that stuff.  The surprise was all the cooking stuff I've learned.  I had no idea all the stuff I didn't know!  Because of all the posts, I had a great thanksgiving.  This is what I learned:

1.  Brine a turkey.  I had no idea what the hell that meant.  I also had no idea just how many people do that.  And that it's pretty hard to fuck it up.  Game changer!  It should be noted that I've never cooked a turkey before so I'm new to this game.

2. Crockpot stuffing.  Again, who knew?  Thanks to yummly and allrecipes and the people who post reviews with suggestions, I made some kick ass stuffing.

3.  Sausage stuffing.  This was a foreign concept to me.  I like Stove Top stuffing.  I'm a simple girl.  But holy moly, this is good shit!

Now, I learned a few things from our dinner companions.  It was such an educational day!

1.  Sweet potatoes don't suck.  In fact, they're good.  No marshmallows on these, thankfully, but oh so yummy.

2.  People like green beans.  Whew!  And garlic - double whew!

3.  Gravy isn't so hard to make.  It didn't quite look as I expected but it tasted good.

The most important lessons of the day?

1.  Laughing fixes almost everything.

2.  I love having a diverse group of friends.

3.  Wine helps.

Lastly, I'm not a left-overs kind of girl, usually.  Remember that sausage stuffing I mentioned?  It's good cold, too - directly from the container with a spoon.  Or fingers.  Yum.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thank you, Universe

I've been thinking a lot about all the things for which I am grateful.  I've been reading all the facebook posts documenting the things my friends are thankful for with interest.  There's a lot of gratitude out there!

So, what am I saying thank you to the universe for?  Lots of things....but let's see if I can narrow this down a bit.

1.  My children are super cool.  I love them, obviously, but I like them a whole lot.  They make me laugh, cringe, giggle and proud.  I can't ask for more than that.

2.  Andrew. I am extraordinarily lucky to have him in my life.  I overheard a conversation the other day between my girls.  One was telling the other that "he treats mom so well" and they were adding that to the list of reasons we love him.  It's a good list.

3.  My mom is still here.  'Nuff said.  She's still doing okay, for which I'm grateful.

4.  Work.  I'm lucky enough to spend much of my professional life with clients I enjoy working with and interpreters who make me laugh.  And it keeps a roof over our heads.

5.  Last but certainly not least, family. Our family dynamics have changed over the years but some things have stayed the same.  One of my favorite books in the world is Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.  And one of my favorite quotes is “The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.”  Oh how true that is. I'm grateful to my new family who take such good care of me and my girls. These are the people who make me laugh when I'm down, come see my kids perform in their first play, help me with my mom - they are my family.

So thank you, universe, for reminding me that I'm lucky and surprisingly happy.  That's a good thing.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Strange Ties That Bind

Today was a good but rough day.  I was tired and stuck in a conference room that had no windows all day.  I knew it was nice outside - I drove to work with the sunroof open.  I wanted to be out in the sun, not sitting in a meeting.  But it's my job so there I sat.

At lunch, everyone was deciding where to go.  Luckily, I brought my lunch.  The good thing about this healthy living thing is now I make careful decisions.  I think about what I'm eating before I eat it so I don't make decisions while starving or from a vending machine.  So today I brought fruit and half the portion I would normally eat of a Trader Joe's thai pasta salad.  It was surprisingly satisfying.  Mostly I wanted to get the hell out of the room.  I wanted air.  So everyone left for lunch and I went on my walk,

It wasn't a long walk.  But it was warm and sunny.  Once I got out of the parking lot, I found beautiful trees.  This area is mostly industrial and medical offices.  There weren't many people around, just cars.  Still, it was pretty.

On the way back, a woman came up to me and started talking to me.  Among other things, she told me she saw the same tree that caught my eye and she had to take pictures of it.  She walked a few steps with me, telling me that her mom was in the car waiting for her.  This woman was maybe 5 years or so older than me.  She was bringing her mom home from the hospital.  She wanted to make sure he mom saw the leaves but she was frail and couldn't get out of the car.  I know this story.

 I told her I knew the story because I, too, have a mom who can't walk around but enjoys seeing things.  I told her of the drive my mom and I took on Monday in Olney, Brookeville, Sunshine and the surrounding areas.  After a few pleasantries were exchanged and as she walked back to her car, she called over to me, wishing me a good afternoon and "good luck with your mom."

It's a strange feeling of camaraderie. I noticed it when my mom was in the hospital last year.  The children of the injured elderly person all nodded at each other.  After a few days of seeing each other hour after hour, we'd start a pretty basic conversation.  We never asked what happened to the patients.  We didn't talk about our roles in the family.  We talked about where to find the decent coffee and which vending machine wouldn't eat our coins.  We all had an idea what each of us was experiencing.  None of it was fun.

I'm betting this woman isn't used to it yet.  She'll get there.  And I hope she finds more pretty trees to enjoy.  They help.

Friday, October 23, 2015

It Isn't Easy Being Green

In one year, three months and 10 days, I'll be 50.  But who's counting, right?

I have certain things I want to accomplish by that time.  I won't list all the things I want to change in my life but there are a few things that need to be different.  The most important thing is I need to be healthier.  I want to look pretty in a wedding dress (no, I have nothing official to announce.  I'm just speculating.....or hoping).  I want to live to see my children graduate from high school, college, and see them be adults who might one day have children of their own (after age 32).  I have lots of things I want to do.

I want to tell you that I woke up one day and decided to  be healthier.  I want to tell you I've had some great epiphany and am changing my life.  I want to tell you all that stuff.  But that's not what happened. A friend called saying she needed to make some healthier changes and asked if I'd do it with her.  I didn't hesitate to say yes.  The idea wasn't mine but I'm excited by it.

I was a vegetarian for several years back before I was married.  I was a lousy vegetarian.  I don't like vegetables so that was a problem.  I ate a ton of junk and very little veggies and yet still proudly wore the title of vegetarian.  Then that ended and I continued to avoid veggies but could eat a burger again.

This time around, I'm not going the vegetarian route.  But I am determined to find something - anything - I like.  I've been doing this since Tuesday of this week and I've eaten more veggies in three days than I have in a month.  I've eaten salads (not my favorite).  I've bought things.  I cooked stuffed zucchini tonight.  If anyone ever told me that I would want seconds and thirds of that, I would have laughed.  It was so freaking good!  I even cooked my first spaghetti squash.  That's a weird vegetable.  I wonder about the pilgrims or Native Americans or whomever discovered that.  Who thought of scraping the sides to make it spaghetti-like?  I haven't used it yet but it looks interesting.  The difference this time is that I have wonderful tools like Pinterest,, and facebook.  People post recipes that actually look good.  I'm willing to try things now.

I'm also trying to get my ass off the (purple velvet!) couch occasionally.  It's been such a beautiful week that I've spent as much time outdoors as possible.  I've walked around the buildings where I work.  I've walked around Lake Artemesia (my favorite!).  I've walked around Sligo Creek Parkway.  I've had company along the way.  Yesterday Andrew (boyfriend) joined for the lake walk.  Today my kids were dragged invited.  Having time away from electronics, phones, people is a good thing.  We laughed, leaped (well, they did) and noticed the world around us.  It was a very good hour.

The biggest change for me this week is how I think.  I can't do mindless eating any more.  I can't just sit and do nothing. I have no great expectation that I will lose 100 pounds and magically become beautiful.  I would like to lessen my stress, make the chest pains go away and clear my head a bit.  Hopefully, the rest will fall into place.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Turn The Knife A Little Deeper

Conversation with M today:

M:  I'm sorry the government didn't close.
Me: What?!! Why would you say that?
M: Well, last time it happened, you were home every day after school.  We baked and cooked and played games.  You were a full time mom.
Me: Sigh....That's true.  But it was hard for us.
M:  But we made it through.  And I liked it.

This conversation came about two hours after a similar conversation with my mom:

Mom: I wish you didn't work so much.
Me: I don't work 60 weeks any more. I often don't work 40 hours.
Mom: No, but between work, kids, appointments, activities, responsibilities, you don't have a lot of time.
Me: That's true.  But you still see me every week, sometimes several times a week.
Mom: Yeah.  But I miss you.

I can't help but feel I'm doing something wrong.  No one is happy and I feel like a mouse on one of those running wheels.  I'm doing a ton of shit and no one - including me - is liking it.

There has got to be a better way.  Cloning isn't an option.  Moving isn't a great option (and not on the table right now).  I'm open to ideas.  Anyone?

Friday, July 31, 2015

What's Old Is New Again

I started taking pictures (with film) when I was in the 5th grade.  I have tons - TONS - of photos and negatives all around the house.  The smell of developer still makes me happy in ways nothing else can.

I was a slow convert to digital.  It was somewhere around 2002.  And even then, I didn't want to fully five up my love of film  But slowly the draw of being able to take as many digital pictures as I like, the ability to easily manipulate them or delete with ease drew me in.  I was a full digital girl sortly after that.

My kids have grow up with digital pictures.  They've known nothing else.  Until now.

My ex gave M a trip to Six Flags for her birthday.  She wanted to take a camera, but not one she'd be devastated at losing.  So we looked around CVS and discovered they still have disposable film cameras.  Who knew  She picked a water resistant one so she could use it in the water park.  That thing was monster sized.  But it was cool and it was what she wanted.

Finding a place to get film developed wasn't so easy.  CVS didn't do that.  We didn't know where else to go.  Rite Aid was on our way home one day so we looked there.  Success!  The only deal was we'd have to wait for 2 weeks for it to be developed and delivered back to the store. Two long weeks!

Finally, the time came.  We went in and gave our slip to the cashier.  She didn't know what to do with it.  But the manager did.  They handed M an envelope and she just looked at me.  What is it?  Open it, I said.  First she pulled out the negatives.  What are these?  Clearly I have failed in this area of her upbringing.  I explained what negatives were.  Then she looked at all the pictures.  This is so much more fun than the instant gratification we get by looking at the little screen on the back of the camera.

Then she showed it to A.  Why is there a film strip in here?  Not a film strip, negatives.  Then the excitement of seeing the pictures infected her, too.  This was just too much fun.

Ah, to go back in time and remember what it's like to get my film developed.......

Saturday, July 4, 2015

My Garden Has a Sense of Humor

Every day, at least once a day, I go out and look at the garden.  I talk to the plants.  Grow!  Why are you taking so long?  Grow!  They don't listen to me.  They do what they want, which is to be expected.

I have something like a dozen tomato plants.  I don't particularly like tomatoes so there's some irony that that's the thing that grows best.  And the one by the compost heap is doing better than any of the others.  It's weird.  But really, I'm not complaining.  We'll make salsa and Andrew thinks making ketchup might be fun.  I'm not sure about that.

My cucumbers are taking over my garden - just the leaves.  There's an itty bitty thing (that makes me laugh) to prove it's a cucumber.

My peppers are happy.  I have green peppers, super cayenne (already shared a few), poblano and probably something else.  I have no idea when they're ready for picking.  

Andrew makes me feel a tinge of guilt every time I snip the flowers off my basil to encourage it to grow.  Now I apologize for the flower version of blue balls I induce.

And the pumpkins rescued from the compost are still small but definitely growing.  The other (possibly bean) mystery plants didn't fare so well.

 I'm looking for ideas.  I don't love pesto so what else can I do with all that basil?  What can I do with the peppers?  I'm open to all ideas....

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Holidays without Parents

I'm not a huge fan of Mother's Day.  It's not because I don't think I deserve strawberry nutella crepes (the breakfast A has been making the last few years).  It's not because I don't want a day with no arguing (fyi - it doesn't really happen but a mom can dream, right?).  And it's not like I don't want it acknowledged but if I make a big deal about Mother's Day, then I need to do the same for Father's Day.

And the problem with that is I haven't had a dad for all but two years of my life.  I remember being with my then-boyfriend when I was in 11th grade and a friend of his asked me what I was doing for Father's Day.  Nothing, I replied.  He thought that was awful.  I just didn't want to explain it.  So I never did.  Not when I didn't show up for father-daughter dances in girl scouts.  Not when my uncle offered to be a substitute dad for all those events (which I always declined).  Not ever.

Then I had kids.  I had to celebrate Father's Day.  It was fine, if not weird, in the beginning.  We included my father-in-law and it was good.  The ex was (and is) a good dad.  He got that it was tough for me.  But it was okay.

Now that I no longer live with him, it's a little harder to make sure Father's Day is a good day for him.  He still gets gifts but now he controls the grill (instead of me).  The girls don't make him crepes (he can't eat them). And he has a whole other family to add to the mix.  They have a celebration that doesn't involve me, which is just fine.

Since my separation, I've had a taste of what life was like for my mom.  The main difference is I have a partner I can talk to, ask to help or just vent to.  She didn't.  So for the last several years, I've tried to acknowledge Father's Day for my mom since she was both a mom and dad for me.

I'm now at that age when my friends have parents who are older.  Several friends have lost fathers in recent years.  I suspect days like today are harder for them, though it's really not a contest.  It's hard for lots of people for lots of different reasons.

So while the rest of the world is grilling, going to ball games and fishing with their dads, I'll be hanging at the old folks' home with my mom.  It's a good way to spend the day.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Judi, Judi, oh so moody, how does your garden grow?

I have been thinking all day about the rhyme Mary, Mary, quite contrary.  How does your garden grow?  Nothing good rhymes with Judi.

Judi, Judi, with a big booty - NO!
Judi, Judi, oh so moody - NO!
Judi, Judi, you have cooties - Um, NO!

I can't come up with anything.  I am the least likely person to be a gardener.  I like plants but don't really know a ton about them.  I am learning to like worms but don't care too much for the other critters that try to eat my plants.  I like the whole start from seeds thing.  I like the process of it all.

I asked M the other day if she enjoyed it.  No, not really.  But I like seeing how excited you get when something grows.  That's fun.  I'll take that.

So, what am I growing?  And where?  I have a tiny front yard that just got tinier.  I now have 4 large garden boxes.  The picture only shows three but I just inherited one from a neighbor that's the biggest of all! Some plants I started from seeds (thank you friends who bring me toilet paper rolls for seed sprouting).  Some I bought.  And some I got on freecycle (excellent resource!).

That little flower will hopefully be a pepper one day.

This pretty little thing will be peas.

My list:

basil - both from seed and purchased
rosemary - both from seed and purchased
all sorts of peppers
lettuce - yummy kinds and others
tomatoes (various kinds)

I think I'm missing something.  Oh!  Eggplant.  Just one of those.

Hopefully, these little flowers will grow into cucumbers.  Or a squash - I forget which.

This little purple flower will hopefully become some sort of edible eggplant (even though I don't actually like eggplant).

I have a compost bin out back - I've had it for years.  I'm lazy about it.  Sometimes I remember to put stuff in it, sometimes I don't.  Sometimes I water it, mostly I don't.  But when I find worms, they go in it.  Worm poop is golden.

This year I opened the lid to find a surprise.  Things were growing in it.  There are potatoes - I'm not touching those because I haven't a clue on how to grow those.  There are pumpkin seeds.  I transplanted those so we'll see if those work.  I have mystery plants growing (they didn't transplant so well).  And there are at least 5 tomatoes growing around the compost.  I can figure out how it happened but it was still surprising.

I like growing things.  I like growing things that don't talk back.  I like little flowers that greet me daily, almost happy to see me.  I am a reluctant (and completely clueless) farmer.  Whodathunk?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Adios and Good Riddance, Middle School

We have one more half day of the school year left.  One more HALF DAY.  It's just enough to screw up summer camp plans and force one more day of early rising.  It's so incredibly stupid.  But then again, so was a MONTH of parcc testing, losing nearly a month of instruction preparing for parcc tests, the endless amounts of movies my kids watched on the days when they weren't testing (because other classes were) and the subsequent MSA tests.  Half of this year has been a clusterfuck of stupid.

A came home from school today teary-eyed at the thought of leaving most of her friends.  They've been together in the French program since they were 5 years old.  Now they're all doing to different schools.  It will be a change for us all.

A said they watched their class videos from 6th grade.  She commented how small and young they all looked.  They did.  They were straight out of elementary school.  Now they're wearing make up, flirting with each other and figuring what they hell they want to do with their high school life.

Everyone assures me that high school will be better.  I hope it is.  We have dealt with mean girl crap, racial crap, teachers who liked them and teachers who very obviously did not.  We've dealt with kids who hurt themselves, kids who get suspended for drugs (mostly they were the mean girls so my sympathies were limited), kids who declare they are gay, bi, gender-queer and pan sexual (yes, I did have to learn what that meant).  Elementary school did not prepare me for this.

I hope high school proves to them that geeks are cool, being smart is an asset, not a negative, and that turning in your homework is a smart thing to do.

A mom can hope, right?

Monday, May 25, 2015

14 Years and Counting

Fourteen years ago I became a mom.  It's been a fun ride so far but holy smokes, I had no idea what being a mom meant.  No. Freaking. Clue.  I've learned so much.  Let's review:

I learned to be an advocate for my kids from the beginning.  I remember telling our (then) pediatrician that something was wrong with one of my kids (A).  No, you're just a nervous mom, she said.  After changing doctors and getting a referral to Children's Hospital (what took you so long to bring her here?), I was proven right.  Boo yah.

I learned how to take advantage of the world around me: When M had eye surgery at age 4, I told her if she'd just suck it up and do the drops until the end, we'd have a super huge party with a big surprise.  She didn't know until around age 12 that the fireworks that last day of her eye drops were really for July 4.

We got so lucky and won two slots in the french immersion program and sent our girls to school in a language we don't speak.  That's been an educational experience that I could never have predicted.

We (my ex and I) should write a book on how to divorce without destroying your kids.  We've done a pretty good job so far.  Or at least I think we have. And our Significant Others deserve a lot of credit for making it work.

I learned how to deal with teachers who don't like my kids.  And I learned to LOVE the ones that get them.  The school process has been a never-ending learning process (for me).

I've learned that I have many names.  Sometimes I'm Ima (Hebrew).  Then there was Emme (Estonian). Maman (French), Judi (when they're annoyed) and Ma (when they need something) and Mommy (still, especially when they need comforting).

I've learned that I should never have gotten my kids phones.  Or showed them YouTube.  Or let them go to middle school.  It all sucks.

That's just a smattering of the things I've learned so far.  There's so much more.  I can't even begin to guess what high school will bring.  I also can't believe that I am the parents of high school freshmen.  How the hell did that happen??

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Breathing again and finding priorities

I did something I haven't done in years.  Years!

I took time off.  I did NOT work for a week.  I haven't had this opportunity in 3 - count 'em - 3 years!  My last real time off was when I went to Geneva with my boyfriend.  I've taken a day here, a day there off since but no significant time doing something I wanted to do.  In fact, I haven't left Silver Spring for more than 18 hours in nearly a year (since my mom fell).

It felt good.  Well, not at first.  At first, I was still stressed.  I was thinking of the money I was not making.  I was thinking of Kid #1's braces and Kid #2's braces and their camp expenses and the cost of their continually growing feet and all of that.

Then I didn't care that much.

In my perfect world, I would have taken them to Puerto Rico (on my bucket list) or a beach but a pricey vacation was out and it was raining all week.  So we came up with Plan B.

It started with our last White House Easter Egg Roll.  The girls have hit age 13 so this was their last time going.  At first they thought they were a little too cool for it until MKTO came on the stage.  Then suddenly Andrew and I were the coolest people on the earth because we brought them there.  That's a good start to vacation.

The following days included a manicure (my first in nearly 15 years!), a day of shopping, movies with a friend - just time to relax.  I could get used to this.

Then we headed north to the Lancaster County area.  We ended up in Columbia, which is a cool if not odd place.  We saw a sad farmer's market (that has such potential!), a building that looked like the windows were all crooked, a few buildings we're pretty sure were haunted and a pharmacy that still serves food.  That was seriously cool.

Downtown Lancaster is super cool.  Who knew?  There's a really cool market (think Philly's Reading Terminal) full of fun people and seriously yummy food.  There are stores near it that wind around to the market itself - it reminded me very much of Pike Place Market in Seattle.  There's a whole area of funky vintage shops and fun people.  We were definitely at home on Queen Street.  As I search for my next career, my girls said I should look here as these were my people.  They were right.

I took them to one of the few non-crowded places I truly enjoy.  I love wandering off Route 30 and just driving by all the Amish farms, the one room schoolhouses and the occasional roadside stand.    I enjoyed all of that more than my girls.  They were, however, fascinated by the selection of Amish romance stories in the bookstore.

Once we got over the "put your phone away" and "are we going someplace in particular??" grumbles, it was fun.  I can't say I forgot how much fun my kids are but it's been a while since I've turned my phone off, walked away from (whatever) screen and just paid 100% attention to them.  Andrew was taking care of the fish and my mom was safe.  I could breathe a bit.

We laugh a lot.  I mean A LOT.  And often at inappropriate times (which just makes me laugh all the more).  It was exactly what we needed.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What happens next to WWJD?

I am lucky to have a friend who actually knows stuff about blogging.  Alissa over at knows more about blogging than I ever will.  She gives me things to think about, advice when I need it and sits with me when I (very rarely) go to a blogging event.  She gave me something to think about about a year or two ago when we were at such an event.  Someone asked me what kind of blog I had and I answered the question with a blank stare.  Thankfully, Alissa answered for me: a lifestyle blog.

How cool was that?  I write a lifestyle blog.  Who knew?

Then I looked at stuff and realized that "online personal musing that appear randomly from my brain" isn't a category of blogging.  The first seed is planted.

Jump forward a year or so to last week when Alissa sends me an email saying she received something from a WWJD and it was actually about Jesus and not me!  Surprising?  No.  Cause for thought? Yeah.

Related topic jump:

I'm working on getting my shit together.  I feel pulled in 27 different directions and need order.  The ramblings I write are in my brain constantly.  I need direction.

So does the blog.

So where do I go?  What do I do?  I rather like the idea of writing about parenting, raising empowered girls and fixing my kind of fucked up life.  But that's at least two different blogging topics.  Eh, I could probably live with that.

I want to change the name.  The name actually comes from a saying I had when all my friends were moving away from me - What Would Judi Do and How Do My Actions Affect Her?  Shortened, it's WWJD.

I'm back to feeling indecisive.
  1. 1.
    not settling an issue.
    "these experimental results are indecisive"
    synonyms:inconclusive, proving nothing, settling nothing, openindeterminate,undecidedunsettledborderlineindefiniteunclearambiguous,vague
    informalup in the air
    "an indecisive result"
  2. 2.
    (of a person) not having or showing the ability to make decisions quickly and effectively.

I accept undecided, unsettled, unclear, hesitant and tentative.  I draw the line at weak.

All of this is to say I'm thinking of changing things. I'm open to ideas.  That's a hint - share your thoughts with me.

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Mighty Pen

I was raised by a mother who didn't take a lot of shit from folks - if she felt she had been wronged.  I remember hearing her speak of the letters she would write when people pissed her off.  The one that stuck in my mind (because it made me laugh) was the package she sent to whatever food company that sold her rotten hot dogs.  She enclosed them in a padded envelope and mailed them back to the company with a letter of complaint.  Now, this would have been in the early 60's prior to my birth so that's a long time ago.  It's back in the days when mail took a week to get from point A to point B.  So the already rotten hot dogs were in the mail for about a week when someone - a human at that time - opened them.  I do wish I could have seen the look on that person's face.  Instead, I can still picture the look of satisfaction of my mother telling the story, including the ending that included "we had free hot dogs for a year."  Not bad.

She taught me that for a letter to be effective, it has to be concise and meaningful but not mean.  Over the years I have written countless letters to companies.  And I'm happy to say I write as many letters of kudos as those of complaint.  I get more satisfaction from the positive letters.  They always surprise people.

Now, let's fast forward to a few months ago.  Kid A bought a travel mug with Elsa and Anna on it (of course) with her own money.  I thought she paid way too much for it but if drinking her morning tea with the Frozen crew makes her happy, so be it.  A few weeks later, it was on her desk at school when it fell over and shattered.  Yes, that "shatterproof" travel cup did indeed shatter.

So of course she wrote a letter to the company.

Then they wrote back - and offered to replace it.

Today the replacement arrived.  The world is once again right for the girl who likes her tea with lots of sweetness - plenty of sugar and Anna and Elsa.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Perfect Specimen

I love Trader Joe's.  One reason I like it is because of the people who work there.  They're always friendly and seem happy to be there.  So when I had a bad encounter today, I was surprised.

My girls, A and M, and I were walking up and down the aisles of the Silver Spring store.  It's smaller than the Rockville store but it's more convenient and has most of what we need.  We always get more than we expect there because there are always new things to try.  Basically it's a fun store.

As we were walking down the soup/pasta aisle, we encountered a bunch of employees putting stock on the shelves.  Of specific interest were two men who were talking to each other pretty loudly.  We arrived in front of them mid-conversation so we missed the topic.  But we most certainly didn't miss the juicy part:

Dude 1: How did she get that (job, acting part, something like that)?
Dude 2: Well, you know she's a specimen.
Dude 1: (blank stare)
Dude 2: I'm TELLING YOU.  She's a SPECIMEN.  She's EASY ON THE EYES.  Yeah, She's a SPECIMEN.

So the three of us just stop.  A woman is a specimen.  Huh.  We start walking down the aisle again.  At this point A is starting to boil a little.

Mom, you have to say something.  DO something.  That is NOT okay!

I hate this kind of situation.  I walked around thinking a bit.  The more I thought, the more I got annoyed.  She's a specimen.  Dude, a specimen!

No.  Not okay.

He went to take over for the woman at the sample area.  When he was done talking to a teenager (that took quite a while), I went up to him.  With my girls behind me I said that we were standing right next to him while he was having that conversation with his co-worker.  I told him that while he was fully entitled to his opinions, he might want to remember that he's in a public place and I doubt that calling a woman a specimen represented TJ's views of the world.  I couldn't leave without telling him that no woman wants to be called a specimen and that the value of person has nothing to do with whether or not s/he is "easy on the eyes."

He apologized to me.  And my kids.  And he was about to say something else when I'm pretty sure that "bring it, I will beat you silly" look might have crossed my face.

When we went to pay for our groceries, the gentleman at the register couldn't have been any nicer.  He talked to us, talked to the girls about what it's like to be a twin (which was fine because he is one!).  He spoke french to us.  Super nice dude, which somewhat made up for the caveman we encountered earlier.

Really the dilemma here was my kids.  They knew it wasn't okay.  They were totally offended.  Do something took on a different meaning here.

I'm not so arrogant as to think anything I said to him made any sort of difference.  But I hope the thinks about how he speaks when he's on the sales floor in the future.

And I hope he never has children.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Safety Girl

A person can never be too safe, right?  I'm pretty good with common sense stuff and make the safest choice for things when possible.  But there are some things I never really paid attention to - like what to do with emergencies that don't happen where I live.

Lucky for me, I have a kid who likes to read.  She reads anything and everything as long as it's in the bathroom.  This has been a point of contention for me for a long time but in reality, it makes sense. Your mom or sister can't bug you (isn't allowed) when you're in the bathroom.  That rule was set to give me a few minutes of peace when the girls were little.  Now they hole themselves in there (individually) so they can steal about a half hour of silence.  It's weird - and it's caused every single caretaker we've had to think that one kid in particular has digestive issues.  Every time I've had to explain that no, she isn't ill.  She just wants quiet.

One of the things we had in the bathroom was the FEMA guide for what to do in an emergency.  It was just there and I never thought about it.  But M not only thought about it but read it.  Cover to cover.

All of this came in quite handy the day we were in Sodus Point, NY and a microburst hit.  The windows blew in and I realized I had not only never heard of a microburst but I also had no idea what to do about it.  As I stood there trying to hold the windows together, A says she sees a funnel cloud.  Crap.  I have no idea what to do in a house without a basement.

And then I hear a little voice.  "I know what to do.  I read the FEMA book."


Sure enough, that kid knew what to do.  I was impressed.

Now, fast forward a few years.  We went to the NBC Health and Fitness Fair last month in DC.  We stumbled upon the FEMA booth as we were leaving.  M walked up and asked if the new version of the book was available.  She explained that she read the last one cover to cover - and it helped her know what to do in an emergency.  The FEMA person was so excited to meet this kid who wanted to learn all about FEMA stuff that she gave her an emergency radio.  It's pretty cool.  And she promised to mail her the handbook because she didn't have any there.

So we waited a few weeks.  Nothing.  Then the mail came on friday.

And now I have one happy kid!

It's funny the things that bring out the proud mama in me.  This is one.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Wacky Hair Day

Today is Wacky Hair Day in at the girls' school.  This is a yearly event, one that I find odd.  I get spirit week - it breaks up the monotony that is school.  But it is weird to see kids going to school in pajamas or with green spiked hair.  It was odder to see teachers all dressed up.  But it's all good. This is the only part of the week my kids regularly and excitedly participate in.  We've been doing this since kindergarten.  It always involves color and usually hair teasing.  Sometimes braids. Sometimes other adornments.

My favorite was the one when they were somewhere around first or second grade.  They came home telling me wacky hair day would be the following day.  They started planning and figuring out what they could do with my limited hair experience.  They came up with this:

They were so excited to have big hair and lots of pony tail holders and clips in their hair.  They got on the bus so happy.  However, when I picked them up, the pony tail holders were out, the clips were hidden in their bags and their hair was as matted down as possible.  When I asked why they said WHD was the next week.  Oops.  We still laugh at that.  Every year.

A couple of years ago they decided to look like planters.  At least this had a happy vibe about it.

Today the theme is My Little Pony and More Glitter, Please.  The house smells of spray-on color gas - even hours after using it.  I'm pretty sure we all lost several brain cells today.  And I'm not sure the glitter will ever come out of the bathroom rugs.  Or off the walls.  It's a very good thing there are no smokers in the house.  I think I sent them to school in a very flammable state.

I guess we'll have to up our game for high school.  I should probably start planning for that now.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Another year down

I haven't written for a while.  A long while.  It wasn't because I didn't have anything to say.  Quite the contrary: I had a lot to say.  But none of it was happy or even particularly nice.  It was mostly centered around arrogant medical professionals and the frustration of being the white fluffy stuff in the oreo (my definition of the sandwich generation).

I will be 48 on Friday.  I never thought I'd be looking forward to being that old and, really, I'm not.  I'm just looking forward to 47 being over.  It's been a hellish year.  Why?

I spent much of the last 6 months taking care of my mother.
I now have a house full of stuff that isn't mine.
I have a medical diagnosis that could, and likely will, end my interpreting career.
I have two teens who are, well, teens.

Why is 48 going to be better?

I'm no longer afraid to answer the phone for fear of what went wrong with my mom.  She's safe and happier now.
I still have a house full of stuff that isn't mine.  But I'm selling lots of it.
I feel a little better.
I still have teens.

My goals for this year:

Get my life back.
Paint my house.
Meet new friends who like to do things I enjoy.
Go somewhere.  Anywhere.  Preferably with a beach.  And maybe a friend.

I'm going to like this year, goddammit.