Monday, December 14, 2009

Parker's Social Protest Poem

Parker had to write a social protest poem for Language Arts. Here's what he wrote (with no help from me). I'm so proud.

Social Protest Poem

Why do those who have none suffer while who have lots thrive

Why is the government giving money to the millionaires Instead of those who can’t afford food for their family

The people who have don’t give

And the people who don’t have can barely live

Imagine watching all the people walk by throwing away their Half-eaten sandwiches spilling their extra large drinks

Things wasted that you would kill to have

You can’t afford it but that’s okay

Because A.I.G. has enough to pay

Their execs bonuses that they don’t need

When five jobs isn’t enough to provide what we need

To get help (from our fellow people)

And when they don’t answer

Where do you go?

You have nowhere to go

Like there is no light (at the end) (of the tunnel)

Like the government is a bully

Like they don’t want you to succeed

But don’t worry

You can do whatever you set your mind to

You’re as strong as a rhino and as smart as Einstien

Money may be avoiding you

But you can catch it

You can make it in this world

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Magic of Christmas

"Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me and for those who still truly believe."

I recently found out that my sister in law told my niece there is no Santa. She's 5. I'm not sure she's ever been allowed to have Santa. You see my sister in law is incredibly bitter. My brother committed suicide and left her with a 9 month old baby five years ago. Obviously, I have lots of unresolved feelings. I've been to two therapists and talked endlessly about it. However, I know my brother is at peace. Some people can't find peace on earth. He was haunted from the time he was a little child. I remember him complaining of terrible headaches and saying, "if I were a squirrel someone would shoot me to put me out of my misery." He went to see a psychiatrist. I wish we knew then what we do now. I wish people knew that depression was more than just being "sad." I think he would have had a whole other life. I tell people, I always knew Billie was tightly wound, I just never know how much.

Shortly after he died, my brother visited me in a dream. I was being chased by someone who wanted to kill me. I struggled and ran and ran and finally my brother came to me and told me to let them catch me, that death is a relief. That I would have peace and relief. A peace he could not find on earth.

I'm sitting here with Mollie watching Polar Express (we started out watching It's a Wonderful Life). It was really weird. I was watching this one part and suddenly my brother was sitting beside me and then he was gone. I don't really believe in ghosts, but I do think there is another dimension where others exist. Be they angels or guardians or whatever they may be. I mean who hasn't felt the present of a departed loved one at some time or another?

Anyway, so there was his brief presence as I thought of the magic of Christmas. There is a magic to Christmas. I hope there is a magic to this entire season for all, no matter their beliefs. But I thought of the magic of Christmas, here he was and then I thought of Emily (my niece). There was a message there. I want her to know the magic of Christmas. I'm afraid the cynicism of my sister in law has denied her the magic. I'm comforted that my sister in law is religious and so you may deny Santa, but hopefully not the miracle of Christmas.

So I was thinking of writing her a letter to talk to her about the magic of Christmas. Then I thought of sending her the book the Polar Express. It is an incredible book. Royce (a sort of faux cousin/aunt) sent it to us. Parker loved trains at the time and it was a such a wonderful tradition to read it. We love the movie too can't remember if some of the lines are from the book or the movie like--"Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see."

So then I began to think. What is the magic of Christmas? My kids have asked me several times over the past few years if I believe in Santa. This is our first Christmas without the mythical Santa (although the Elf still seems to have magic). I always told them "I believe in the magic of Christmas." There is no mistake that things happen at this time of year for a reason. That people go the extra mile, give the extra. That it truly is better to give than it is to receive.

For me the magic is traditions and memories. I love watching the same movies and hearing the same songs. Looking at the Christmas tree and just sitting and looking is a daily activity. I could definitely use a "move the Elf" app because that's a new one on me. The tree, really I just love the tree. And even the hokey Folger's commercials. The kid comes home from college (turns out now he's in the Peace Corps in West Africa) and I cry. I love helping my kids choose gifts for others--be they relatives, friends or strangers. I've actually never been a "happy holidays" kind of gal. I'll say Merry Christmas because I don't believe that my beliefs offend anyone because their beliefs don't offend me. Please wish me a Happy Chanukah or Happy Kwanzaa or Assalamu alaikum-I'm happy to celebrate all.

"The true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart." -Santa The Polar Express

And so in the end I guess we have to find our own magic. But I will also do my best to help others find it too.

Peace on Earth. Pax. Shalom. Assalamu alaikum.

***** As I think about what I wrote last night, I'm afraid it sounds like suicide was the right thing for my brother. I just want to say suicide is NEVER the answer. He may be at peace, but he left Hell on earth for a lot of people. If you or anyone you know ever mentions anything close to killing themselves--make sure they talk to someone. Or talk to someone for them. I wish every single day that my brother had talked to someone. That he had let someone know that he felt the world would be better off without him. Because the world is not better off without him.*****

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Girls Dry Your Tears

I've talked a lot with friends about the difference between being a girl mom and a boy mom. I have a friend who firmly believes that there are those who are just meant to be "boy moms." That may be true, but Mollie has several very special women in her life who are "boy moms." Maybe they were put on this earth to help her and be there for her since they didn't have girls. Who knows, she's just a lucky little girl to have extra moms.

Still we struggle. I love her and there is no one I love to snuggle with more. (BTW Anthony doesn't snuggle so it's not a dis at all.) We've always snuggled from the start. She struggled, we snuggled and that solved it. But still, we'll be calling out something and she'll cry because of the way I called it out or the way I didn't call it out or perhaps I just gave her the correct answer too fast. Anthony will come intervene "why is she crying?!?!?" Always because of something I did or didn't do right. Which of course is correct. In its own way.

But tonight I understood. I understood why we struggle and why we must bond in such an intense way. For me it's easy to love my son. He's beautiful, he's smart, he mostly does his work without effort. He's fun to watch in sports. With Mollie it's much harder. She's one of the sweetest children on earth. And yet we struggle. She worries about her weight, I worry about her weight. We talk about it, we act on it, we ignore it. Same thing with her learning style. I know she has a special learning style I just haven't figured out what it is yet. I know she has a gift. I'm just not sure I've figured out what it is yet.

I've heard others, including my own mother, complain about their difficulties with their daughters. Friction. Miscommunication. Assumption. Resentment. But the other night, as we sat with friends and watched My Sister's Keeper, I found the answer. If you haven't seen it, it's really really sad. Mollie looked over at me in the movie and sweetly wiped each tear that fell from my eyes. As one would roll down my cheek, she would wipe it away. I knew in that moment that I need to remember that feeling. Because no matter how we struggle, I knew in that moment that she will be there for me to wipe my tears. And I know also, I need to do a much better job at wiping hers.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Contrary Stance

This made me say wow. It also supports my thoughts that some people are taking a contrary stance, just to be contrary.

I would like to remind the suddenly fiscally concerned Republicans that they marched us into two wars that caused this huge deficit. That their deregulation brought about not just the crash of Wall Street, but even before that the airlines. It's time to start on common ground and build. It's time to stop listening to people who simply want to create controversy--and their livelihoods depend on it.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Things I Hate

I haven't compiled a list. But here's something to add to it when I do. My favorite jeans ripped. Did they rip in the knee? NO.
The butt? NO.
The crotch? Close.
The inner thigh!!!!

How does that happen?? OK I know how it happens but really, that sucks.

Because an inner thigh rip does not look cool under any circumstances.

Top 10 Reasons to Miss Your Training Session

Every Wednesday I go to see a personal trainer. Yes, it's indulgent, but it's way cheaper than therapy. For me the thing I most got out of therapy was that there were 45 minutes when it was all about me. Yes I talked about other people, but I was the most important person in the room. A trainer is much like that and for me improving the outside, can't help but improve inside. Now I don't have to analyze why I did or didn't call my brother's wife, I can talk politics or the weather. Or I can complain about my brother's wife to someone who is quite sympathetic. All while burning calories.

So this week illness struck our household. On Tuesday I knew I wouldn't make it to my training session on Wednesday. So I went to text my trainer. As I looked at my past texts, it looked like a bad top ten list. Since I got my iphone here are my excuses:
Mollie and Anthony have the throw up disease and I got it.
No school because of level 2 snow emergency--as much as it's tempting could not justify driving to training as an absolute necessity.
Going on a field trip.
Parker is home sick.
Spring Break.
Parker and Anthony are sick.
Going to French Lick.
Mollie has lice.
Mollie hurt her arm and is going for xrays.
Swine Flu.

The last three are the ones that struck me as really funny--if you can laugh at lice, a broken arm and flu. I mean they actually sound made up. I guess you can't make up real life.

By the way, I've got nothing against actual therapy. I am after all a trained psychotherapist. I'm just saying sometimes there are alternatives and also here is how I rationalize going to a personal trainer. Now that I think of it, maybe that should be the tag line for a friend's new personal training business--"personal training with xxxx--it's cheaper than therapy."

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Day After

OK, I don't know why, but I have a problem with all this 9/11 "Never Forget" stuff. What has remembering gotten us? A war in Afghanistan? A war in Iraq? A lessened position in world politics? A new and growing prejudice against a religion of many because of the actions of a few? Maybe it's the politics of hate that I have a problem with.

I'm sorry, I don't want to remember 9/11. I don't want to remember walking down a deserted street with Parker on his first day of school. I don't want to remember the crowds of people standing around cars listening to the radio to try to get information. Walking by the TV stores with the big screen TVs showing over and over the planes flying into the World Trade Center. I don't want to remember trying to explain to my 4 year old why his school was suddenly shut down and why we had to walk home and why those images were on TV. I don't want to remember the desperation I felt trying to get the mile home to find Mollie and to gather my children up and keep them safe. I don't want to remember that my husband wasn't allowed to come home that night. I don't want to remember being unable to reach anyone by any means for hours. I don't want to remember the guilt my friend who worked for Cantor Fitzgerald had because he survived because he was hungover and couldn't get a cab. I don't want to remember sending my babysitter home to Brooklyn to be with her babies in Anthony's running shoes because she had no idea if she could even get home. I don't want to remember the haunted look in my friend's eyes because he walked out of the Wall Street subway station as people began throwing themselves out of the building. I don't want to remember that his wife couldn't come home to be with him because she worked outside the city. I don't want to remember that my brother's birthday was September 11th and he committed suicide two years later. I don't want to remember the neighbor who got her entire law firm out of the building and then did not return home to the little girl she had so excitedly adopted 3 years before. I don't want to remember that two people I knew who crashed in the field in Pennsylvania. I don't want to remember how my friend felt knowing he sent people on that plane, or his friend who put his mother on that plane. I don't want to remember the fear, hatred and paranoia people suddenly had for men with beards and dark skin.

What exactly do we not want to forget about that day? I know what I don't want to forget.

In the days following, while the city was still pretty much shut down. There was a beautiful peace in New York City. People were certainly sad over the massive loss of life, but we were one. People stopped making fun and criticizing New York City and sent an outpouring of love from all over the world. We truly were the center of the universe that first week. Fire fighters and police officers looked for their brothers in the ruble. People baked cupcakes and cookies and took them to the fire houses and police stations. People stopped and waved and saluted to the fire fighters. And people were kind and compassionate to their neighbors. Even the kids in the playground were different. I didn't see a single fight over a toy and when someone fell down, someone came running over to make sure they were alright. When someone said, "How are you?" They meant it. People were kind and compassionate. People were patriotic in their hearts.

But somewhere along the way it feels to me that September 11th became about hate and not compassion. It became about getting Osama Bin Laden. It became about you aren't patriotic if you don't fly an American flag, or wear one in your lapel. It became about "where were you?" So forgive me but if I try to forget September 11th. I will try to never forget September 12 & 13th. I want to remember the calm after the storm. I want to remember the emails people sent me saying thank God you are OK. I want to remember the caring that every New Yorker had for each other and the nearly every other person in the world had for New Yorkers. I want to remember the fire fighters putting the American Flag up in the ruble.

I will never forget kindness and compassion. I will never forget funeral procession after funeral procession. I will never forget the love and respect we suddenly remembered for the brave men and women who fight fires, save lives and keep us safe. I will never forget the love and respect we found for our neighbors--be they strangers or friends. I will never forget a child picking up a toy for another child and handing it to him. I will never forget gathering with my friends in the playground and making sure everyone made it home. I will never forget finding out who didn't.

I guess that my wish is to never forget that September 11th is not about hating the people who took down those planes. I don't need to remember those horrible images. My wish is that September 11th is the day we are patriotic in our hearts and turn to our neighbors with love and compassion--be they next door, down the street or half way around the world. That we remember that caring was the first emotion people felt in the days following and that caring and compassion is what we should take away from this day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lice and relaxation

I went away for Labor Day weekend with some girlfriends. This is our third glorious outing. We were missing (in both senses of the word) a couple of our group this year. Other then that it was a beautiful weekend. Lots of wine, good food and laughs. Thinking about "ping pong" "number 32" (or is it "42"?) can still bring a smile to my face. We also spent a great deal of time talking about lice. One person's child had them before she left, but he was cured and she was given the blessing to go. However, various cures and techniques (lice not sex that was number 32) were discussed at length. I personally felt that I knew what I was talking about because I'd read some things and heard some things.

Of course, I came home to a list of chores including washing the football uniform "I was gonna try and do it myself", doing all the rest of the laundry, loading the dishwasher, running the dishwasher, unloading the dishwasher. It was all worth it though. And I am very thankful to my family for letting me go on what turns out to be a VERY busy weekend.

Tuesday I woke up ready to hit the ground running. I hit Target by 8 a.m., then to Newtown Farm Market and finally Kroger for the rest of the groceries. When I started unloading my cart at the Farm Market, my phone rang. I picked it up and heard the saddest, most desperate thing my husband has said in a long time, "Mollie has lice we need you home right now, she's in hysterics." I said, "OK I'm in the checkout line but I'll run to the grocery store to get the stuff and be right home." More discussion about not being able to make the medicine appear or being able to be home and at the store at the same time. I hung up and said pretty much every curse word I know. I looked up at the checkout girl and said, "Oh sorry." To which she replied, "I'm pretty sure I know what you are talking about." A discussion of lice ensued. By the way, it turns out I didn't know SHIT about lice!

So off I run to the grocery store, run to the pharmacy, "where's the lice medicine?!?!" Run down the shampoo isle (shampoo isle? shouldn't that be in the pharmacy?), grab the Lice MD (what the farmer's market girl had recommended), grab three more, run to the self check out. Jog to the car, receive yet another phone call, have another discussion about just how fast I'm able to do things, drive home. Stop and email my girlfriends, "911, Mollie has LICE!!!!"

Mollie actually looked quite calm upon my arrival. I'm pretty sure she was not the one who was hysterical (I've since gotten confirmation on that). So up to the bathroom we go. I hear my cleaning lady come in HALLELUJAH! I cast aside all the jobs we had planned for the day--dusting and reorganizing the bookshelves HA that could wait. There was stripping of beds, vacuuming, washing in hot water, putting every pillow in the dryer for 40 minutes, vacuuming of the beds (I flipped the mattresses just to be on the safe side), changing all the sheets. Finding every item of clothing from the long weekend, back packs, purses and coats--oh my! So I got my angel of mercy started and went into the stripped down bathroom to start the treatment. I should probably admit here that I was on the verge of hysteria. Much of that initial 1/2 hour is a fuzzy blur.

Fortunately one of the girls called the one whose child had had lice before we left and sent her to my aid. She was so sweet and calming that I can never thank her enough! She sat with me and combed through Mollie's hair for TWO hours. I got Mollie settled onto the LEATHER sofa (they apparently can't live on leather). And started on the checklist. Since I hadn't gotten to the grocery store before, we put her treated and dried hair up in a bun and went to the grocery store. There we saw a friend and told her to stay away because we were lepers, to which she replied "we were lepers all weekend." She told me about the cetaphil cure. Said it was much better and less messy than the olive oil cure (which I'd discovered that morning). So deciding I would do everything in my power to kill these nits or bugs or whatever they are, I picked up both olive oil and cetaphil. And a flea comb for good measure. Long story short, olive oil is indeed too messy because it drips in your eyes. It does make your hair soft and shiny though.

I treated the rest of the family with the Lice MD. Another angel and very experienced school nurse came to my rescue that evening to check my work (by this time I'd spent 4 hours combing through Mollie's hair). We still had a few hot spots of nits and I'd used the wrong stuff. Lice MD it turns out is simply a silicone gel that smothers the lice--so no medicine. Nurse Angel told me to go immediately the next a.m. and get some Nix. Which of course I did. And I combed her out for two more 2 hour sessions. In the meantime vacuuming, washing and clearing as I went. (I told the school secretary that I had removed all the rugs and towels are now washed after one use. Mollie commented, "our bathroom floor is really slippery." To which I replied, "better to break your neck then spread lice.") and dutifully treated the rest of the family with the poison.

Oh and in my research one of the symptoms of lice is "irritability". Of the patient or the treater?

So anyway, Mollie is now "nit free" and all we have to do is check each other for two more weeks. Thought I would be relieved, but I'm not really sure.

Doesn't really matter though because I've got to go vacuum, change sheets and wash. At least I can think about my weekend and smile.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Progress not Perfection

My house is completely disorganized. It's making me a little nuts. When someone says they are organizing or cleaning, I get a pang of guilt. More then a pang--more of a stab.

It's like when Mollie was born. I used to read If you Give a Mouse a Cookie to Parker about 20 times a day. When I got to the part where the mouse cleans the house, I would wish the mouse would come clean my house. Probably makes no sense, but who can explain post partum delirium.

I've got piles of papers. I've got boxes in the basement I haven't unpacked since we moved. I've got board books on my book shelves. Parker's backpack is just as it was on the last day of school. He's probably going to need to unpack it before Wednesday. (Nothing happens until he finishes Treasure Island.) The boxes in the basement are loaded with stuff I want to keep--like pictures from my childhood, pictures from my children's babyhood (because I am not a scrap booker). There are also things like soap carvings I did in fourth grade and the shrunken heads my dad brought me from a South American fishing trip. I don't think I need either of those. Although maybe I should just move them to the Halloween box. Parker's closet has Rescue Heroes in it he wasn't quite ready to give up at age 7 when we moved here. He's also got Legos and Christmas presents from 4 years ago. Oh and the art work and school work. What do I save? What do I throw away? I don't want Parker's wife to find the bull made out of tissue boxes and paper towel rolls 20 years from now and say--what the hell was my mother in law thinking??? Progress not perfection is one of her mantras.

So here I sit at the computer writing about it instead of doing it. Mainly because the Fly Lady tells me I'm a perfectionist. She says that I don't organize myself because if I can't do the complete job, I won't start. I am a perfectionist and my perfectionism is preventing me from getting the job started, much less done. I think it's true. I mean I want to clean out Parker's closet and rearrange Mollie's room, but I can't get started because I can't see the end. Because in order to move the boxes in the basement I have to move the boxes of books. It's like one of those puzzles where you have to move one thing out of the way to get the other in the right place.

The fly lady does have some very fun hints. Like doing the 27 Fling Boogie. You go through the house and throw 27 things away. (throw or give) It's quite liberating. I love to do the 27 Fling Boogie. Oh crap that reminds me, I meant to take some stuff up to the TPRC Garage Sale. Maybe next Saturday.

Anyway, I need to repeat that--progress not perfection. Progress not perfection, progress not perfection. I should probably start with Parker's backpack. Clean that out. One thing at the time. Then I can rearrange Mollie's cupboard. I bought her some new shelves to put in there. Progress not perfection.

Nah, I'm going to the pool. It's the weekend, I'll start on Monday. Although I should probably get the day old laundry out of the washer first.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Secret Life of Bees

Last night Mollie and I watched The Secret Life of Bees. Before you call 241-kids I will tell you that I wouldn't have watched it with her if I'd remembered that May committed suicide. That was tough. I think I must have completely blocked that. I originally read the book shortly before my brother committed suicide so I had locked that safely away. But anyway, before I start another death post let's move away from that.

I loved this book and I think they did an awesome job with the movie. It's tough though, much tougher to watch then to read about. But I think it's important for our kids to understand what happened during the civil rights era. In fact, Mollie asked a lot of the same questions Lily (Dakota Fanning) did--I don't understand, if they have the right to vote why can't they? Easy enough to understand how people kept people from registering, but the why, the anger, is harder. I was just with a friend of mine whose grandfather ordered the desegregation of the Virginia schools. Her mother had a body guard and their house had more than one brick thrown through the window. It's still very difficult for me to understand despite having a husband who has spent much time reading about, writing about and teaching about the Civil Rights Era. Mollie wanted to know if maybe Lily had sat one seat over from Zach if the men wouldn't have beaten him.

There are several parts of the movie when August (Queen Latifah) says some really profound things. One of my favorites (I think this was August) was when she said something about the fact that the anger was hard to understand because most of the angry people had been raised by black women. This is profound for a lot of reasons, but for me it was easy for these white people (mostly men) to hate a group, but love an individual. It's why I've always stressed that you need to get to know someone and not judge them for whom you assume they will be. She later tells Lily that she and her mother had a complicated relationship because she was her nanny. She was the person that Lily's mother ran to when she was in trouble too.

My other favorite part was when she talks about "the secret life of bees" and how bees have a whole life we don't know about. I'm not much for metaphors, but that one I get. The inner workings of people, of relationships. Of Lily who was trying to figure out the secrets behind her life.

The book really affected me because I want to be like Lily. I like who she was as a person--she was genuine, she spoke her mind with honesty. She admitted her mistakes. When she asked a question it wasn't with judgement. She asked Zach if he was going to be a professional football player. He asked why white people only assumed black people could only get ahead through sports. He wanted to be a lawyer. Then she said she was sorry she didn't know black people could be lawyers. She owned up to her own ignorance with genuine apology--rather than becoming defensive. She processed the information and learned from it.

When I read the book, I shared it with my friend Roland. Roland happens to be a older African American man. He could be 55 or 85, I'm not sure I never asked. At the time he was old enough to have experienced the civil rights era though. He told me I reminded him of Lily. It was one of the nicest things he'd ever said to me. I wonder if I told him that?

(If you read this--I miss you, Roland!)

Friday, July 31, 2009

It's been a while

Oh yes, it's been a while. Like since March. I got nervous, all of a sudden I realized that people were actually reading my blog--and liked it. So the pressure was on. Then my dh (dear husband) read it and told me I was a little consumed with death and that it was depressing. Then every entry I wrote had an (unconscious?) death theme. So I'm back. It's like that long composed thank you note you composed in your head and never wrote. Well in fact that's what this was supposed to be. All those brilliant things I wrote (said) in my head but never said out loud. My other problem seems to be that I go on writing and non-writing jags. Like the day I write an entry, I have about three other entries and it seems most bloggers write 1 a day so I thought I should only write 1 a day and then by the next day--well it's either gone or well gone.

So like those many diaries and journals that lie in my basement, I'm picking this one back up.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Patience--and peace it turns out

I think fishing taught me patience. Probably both by example and experience. This morning (well the day two weeks ago that I originally started this post) I rose early and went fishing with Parker on the beach. There were a few others out, but all in all we had the beach to ourselves. The first cast out I caught a spot (photo above of this little fish). When I was little we would get up early on Sunday mornings and fish for these little critters. We'd catch a bunch of spot and croaker, scale and gut them and take them up to the cottage. My mom would fry them and make lacey corn bread. We'd eat them out on the porch with the cool ocean breeze blowing on us. Of course they had bloody marys with them which could really only make the whole experience even better. That memory gives me peace. Being on the water gives me peace. Peace/patience--I guess they are much the same for me. Time, being in the moment, the memories and feelings I want to capture and hold on to.

Anyway, we made some more casts. One especially forceful one threw off Parker's rig. I gave him my pole and began to re-rig his rod. Sitting in the sand, detangling line, tying knots, remembering the order--well there was no hurry just the patience of going step by step to get back to fishing. No hurry, no where to be but there.

We fished for a while longer. Only caught one more. So we let the little guy above go. I began to think of the steps involved in scaling and gutting and decided we'd save that experience for another day.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


I have been against the MM mining since I first heard of it last summer. I have worked with many dedicated neighbors to get the word out. In fact, we even gave a presentation to the Terrace Park 6th graders so they could learn the facts and help educate others. Every time I have spoken to anyone about this issue, I get the same question--why would anyone (other then Martin Marietta) be FOR it?

This week I had the pleasure of escorting the Terrace Park "graduating" 6th graders on a canoe trip from Camp Dennison to Scenic River Canoe on Round Bottom Road. It was so beautiful! The kids had a great time, the river was beautiful, we saw plenty of wild life, the kids enjoyed swimming and playing in the river. I couldn't help but think about how wonderful our community and river is.

While many children are suffering from a lack of nature and outdoor time--our kids most often choose to be outside. They play lacrosse, baseball and soccer; canoe and swim in the river and run through the woods. Shoot beehives (less good but still outside). Our children love the outdoors. We absolutely cannot let that be taken away from them!!! Our canoe trip ended at Scenic River Canoe and the kids then went to the Township Pub to play outside have something to eat. What a great day! Our main concern was getting them safely across Round Bottom Road to the Pub. I was one of the last canoes to come in and I ended up waiting to cross Round Bottom Road by myself. Quite frankly I was terrified as giant trucks came barreling around the curve. I have lived in New York City and crossed many busy streets, but this was very scary. I cannot imagine what this will be like with additional traffic.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Making the Band

These photos are by Becca Worple of owenemma photography.  They are totally used without her permission, but with much love and respect.

Sometimes I feel young, sometimes I feel old, sometimes I'm just happy with who and where I am.  The old part sucks.  I'm on high blood pressure medicine (which in and of itself makes you feel old because you are so freaking tired) and getting physical therapy for bursitis and tennis elbow.  Did you know there is a sack on your hip called the bursa and it can get inflamed?  I'm thinking I've had this since puberty and thus why I have saddle bags no matter how much I do or don't exercise.  Still there are a lot of days--once I've dragged myself out of bed--that I'm just happy to be who and where I am.  Ok never really happy about the saddlebags, but other then that.  My kids are a great age, they have great friends, we live in a great place and we have great friends.  We have terrible things happen--right now it seems like we are losing a lot of parents to things like cancer.  But I believe as long as there is a "we" we can get through it.  I'm very lucky because I haven't lost a parent, but I have lost my brother.  The "we" got me through it.

Now I've left this paragraph for most of the day, I have no idea where this pre-coffee random thought was going.  I'm pretty sure it was just an excuse to post the above picture.   I call the band "Midlife Crisis" however, most of the band does not like that name.  I guess some aren't there yet (the cute young lead singer and even younger guitarist) and some are happily on the other side.  The drummer on the other hand loved the name--his drums are a symbol (no pun intended) of his midlife crisis (which ironically enough coincided with the sudden death of his father).  Since they didn't like that name now I call them "The Old Man Band" (sorry to Marc and Robby).  It was very cute to have them come over twice a week to practice their music.  They would each come in with their six pack (of beer not belly) and go play music in our basement for a few hours.  Saturday night they played at our lacrosse fundraiser.  They sounded great (although I worried a bit that playing in the basement was like singing in the shower--which always sounds better then real life), they had a great time and I think most of the crowd was pleasantly surprised by their talent (and ability to all play the same tune at the same time).  
And (perhaps what I was trying to get at pre-coffee) it was fun to be "us" on Saturday night.  Didn't really matter whether we were 38 or 58, we had a few beers (or wine), admired the fact that some of our neighbors can sing and play instruments, and just had fun.  We were "in the moment."  I probably could have stayed up past midnight.  Fortunately I didn't since I rode my bike home uneventfully until I hit my driveway, literally.  

It's important to remember to take your feet off the pedals when you stop.

(Hoping to shamelessly steal video from Becca so you can hear their groove.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sibling Rivalry

My kids fight.  Whenever I get one of those Christmas letters that tells how the brothers get a long so beautifully, that Frank eagerly awaits Teddy's arrival home on the bus or that Teddy is teaching Frank all about legos, I think bull shit.  It's like the babies who sleep through the night at 6 weeks.  My kids fight, so I get great comfort when other people's kids fight.  I especially appreciate it when they get physical.  Sometimes I wonder if and when they will ever say a civil word to each other.  Well it got really bad so I signed up for an online workshop--Siblings without Rivalry.  I was especially excited to find out the secret to "managing the fighting." Since I treat my children so fairly, I didn't really need the rivalry part, that couldn't be the problem. The problem is that I'm not strict enough or give enough chores or something.

Well it turns out it's all about the sibling rivalry.  There's the old comparison--what if your husband came home with another wife one day and said, hey, you're great and all and I love you just as much as I always have, but I thought adding another wife would just make things that much better.  You'll have a friend to play with!  Well, apparently no matter how well you handle it, your first born will feel this way.  Annoyingly it really makes sense.  There is no way in hell that I would want my husband to bring another wife home.  Now you can deny the difference because having multiple children is widely accepted whereas, apart from Big Love, having multiple wives not so much.

So it's easy to deny this comparison, but then she gave examples.   When you say "no" she runs to your spouse and tells on you.  Your spouse comes in and says "why can't you share, let him/her have a turn. "  "Why must you complain all the time?  Find a way to get along and stop running to me with your problems all the time."

"Find a way to get along..."  oops I think I said that 10 times yesterday.

Of course it outlines the expected touchy feely--accept their feelings.  Validate their feelings.   Blah blah blah my kids are whining,  that's not feelings, that's annoying!

Then she goes on to say--this may have been my breakthrough moment--"Don't love them equally, love them uniquely."  OK I think I'm getting it.

"Instead of giving time equally, give according to need."  Ha ha, if I give time to one the other immediately needs me.  Although upon inspection, if you give each what they need rather than equal at some point you reach equilibrium because if you are giving equally sometimes you are giving something the other doesn't need so you are just wasting time.

Oh and the secret to "managing the fighting" is "rough housing is by mutual consent only."  My kids laughed in my face when I said that.  (this apparently as opposed to--"someone's going to end up crying!")

But then I guess I digested some of this because I started to see and understand some of the dynamics better.  Please rest assured that I do not say things like, "wow it sounds like you are really angry with your sister, do you want to draw a picture of your anger?"  But when Parker says, "why can't Mollie take out the trash, why can't she do a poop check?"  (for the uninitiated, if you have dogs and a yard, having children is really great because they can pick up the poop for you and I'm pretty sure it hasn't been labeled child abuse yet).  I began to understand him to say, I have to share this house with her, OK, but she should have to lift a finger on occasion too.  When I realized that my answer would be, she complains about it more than you do so you have to do it, well that I perhaps needed to make some changes after all.  And that needs come in many different packages.   

But the most amazing telling moment came last night.  I really don't even know what to do with it, but still pretty interesting.  We were watching Extreme Home Makeover--you know the show where there is a sick child and a bad house and they fix it up and send them to Disney World.  There were two sisters.  One big, one little.  The little one had a terrible blood disorder and had to have like daily blood transfusions.  The big one was clearly upstaged and backstaged by the little one.  Parker said, "That's not fair that the little sister gets all the attention and the other one just has to stand by."  DING!  Empathy for the big sister!  Little sister gets all the attention.  I'm the nice caring one, hello!

Well it turns out the big sister is actually the younger sister and the little sister (the one with the illness) is the older.  Hmmmmm.  Which he then denied, because that couldn't possibly be so.

So "Siblings Without Rivalry" is not a cure all.  But it does help give some insight.

By the way, my kids still fight.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The First Laugh After the Loss

I know I promised to dedicate the next entry to Mollie, but she will have to wait.  I have these great inspirations to write (usually while I'm driving) and then I forget.  Or I have an idea and then I lose either my motivation or my time at the computer (despite the fact that it is my own).

But today I had a really fun encounter on Facebook.  Take the glazed look from your face.  A friend from college published 100 books you should read before you die--you are supposed to check off the ones you've read.  I'm not even going there, but it was fun to read the list and think about what was and wasn't on there.  Bridget Jones yes, Secret Life of Bees no.  So then we did have a brief discussion about what was omitted and why (it was originally published by the BBC so no Proust).  I even got a new FB friend out of it, some new reading recommendations and reconnection with an old friend on a new subject.  All before 9 a.m.

Appropos of nothing I started thinking about Kelly Corrigan and my friend Leah.  I could tell you the whole thought process but then your eyes really would glaze over!  Several friends have emailed this to me and I've dutifully passed it on.  There are no threats of bad luck attached just the connection to someone who has put my life into words.  Someone who understands what friends and family mean in our lives.

In it she mentions The First Laugh After the Loss.  Actually I've watched it about 20 times and today was the first time I noticed that line.  The First Laugh After the Loss.  It's one of the biggest comforts during the grief process.  You can call it up again and again.  It's like a little flower that grows and lets you know that it will be OK.  Well most people have heard the story, but I want to keep it for perpetuity. 

Leah's loss was sudden and shocking.  When Robin left me a message to call, she sounded terrible.  So what did I do?  I called Leah.  Leah was someone we all turned to.  We'd all just gotten an email from her offering her life coach services for free in the new year.  We were planning our next Avon Walk for New York City.  It wasn't her time.  We were robbed.

Well we weren't called the Pigeons, but we were and are the Beta Delts.  Beta Delta Chi--Burning Down the House.  The picture above are the Beta Delts who made the trip along with Leah's boyfriend who is slightly out of focus at the end of the table.  The other male is Reuben who is an honorary Beta Delt along with a lot of other Sigma Chis but that's a whole other conversation.  So when Robin called (I like to think that Robin and I were the founding members since we lived on opposite ends of the hall, blasted our stereos and both played Talking Heads.), she asked if I would call the others.  She had called Leah's family and Seattle friends and didn't have the strength to call our group.  Leah, like most of us had many different groups of friends--high school, college, first job, second job, grad school, Michigan, Ohio, Washington.  But of course the Beta Delts were some of the closest and most important.  We try to be in touch and we've even made a couple of trips in the last few years to reunite.  Some or all of us have made most of them.  We are all SO glad that Leah joined us on both of them!!   So I called.  I must confess that while I made the calls and during the course of the evening I got a little tipsy--a martini to start the numbing process.  By the last call, I was professing my undying love for Julie.  It was probably just like college.

Leah being Leah, one memorial was not enough.  She had one on each coast.  I really wish I could have gone to both.  I'd love to compile all the tributes.  The sad little group pictured above gathered for the Michigan memorial.   Marjie and I were the first for-sures because we live within driving distance.  Then Ellen, poor Ellen was/is living in Senegal.  Senegal sounds like an incredible place (you can read about it in her blog SenegalEase), but it is terribly far when one of your dearest friends and confidants dies.  We went back and forth and finally found her a ticket so that she could come.  It was really important.  Then Peg and Reuben emailed to say they wanted to come it was just a matter of scheduling.

We all gathered in Southfield.  I immediately felt comforted just by their presence.  I hadn't seen Reuben or Peg in a really, really long time but it didn't matter it was like graduation was yesterday--it had just been a really really busy night.  We spent a lot of time driving around in the snow looking for some place to eat.  I don't know why but there was something comforting in that too.  When we finally came upon the place above, we were so happy.  Oh and we had picked up Ciss, Leah's boyfriend along the way.  Fittingly in the full circle of our lives, Ciss is from Senegal.

We stayed at the Hawthorne Suites.  We got a 2 bedroom suite and a Queen room.  The price seemed a little too good to be true, but I checked with Leah's mom and she said despite the fire, it was a very nice place to stay.  Reuben, Ellen and I stayed in the 2 br and Marjie and Peg stayed in the Queen room which had a pull out couch.

The next morning we gathered for breakfast.   Peg was near tears, but not those sad tears we'd been experiencing the past few days.  I said, "what's up?"  Well the story goes something like this.  Peg and Marjie went to their room.  They decided that they'd use the sleeper sofa so they could each get a good night's sleep.  Marjie in the bed, Peg on the sofa.  Peg went to pull out the bed, but there was something stuck.  Was that a remote control?  She grabbed and pulled and squealed.  It was silver and shiny and no remote control.  Yes, it was a dildo.   

We laughed and laughed and laughed.  We tried to figure out the scenario that would have someone using it on the pullout rather than the bed.  We laughed and laughed some more.  

It was the relief we needed.  
It was the missing piece of our comfort.  
It was the First Laugh After the Loss.

Friday, February 27, 2009


How cute is this boy?  I don't usually brag about my children, oh that's probably not true, perhaps I don't usually gush.  My friend Holly took this picture of him last Saturday night.  I'm feeling a bit sentimental.   I want to freeze time, right now.  I want to remember details.  

Parker and his friends are so cute.  There are about 8 of them.  The make up varies depending on the activity, but sometime during the weekend the 8 usually gather.  Whether it's skating at the winter club, skate boarding at Nollie's, shooting bees with airsoft guns (they don't recommend it), or just buying 64 oz cups of Mountain Dew at UDF.  OK yes, we are all against the bee shooting, and I'm terrified of what 64 ounces of Mt Dew will do to his growth.  They are good boys.  They are sweet boys.  They are good friends.  They are kind. They are considerate.  They are bright.  (Hopefully someday they will have common sense.)  They are mischievous in a good way (witness the giant cups of Mt. Dew they know their parents would never purchase for them).

No one who was there will ever forget the day they were nicknamed the Terrace Park Brain Trust.  That was the day they were playing with airsoft guns in the nature preserve.  Henry was stung by a bee.  The boys were outraged, so they took revenge on the bees by shooting at the bee hive.  Bees 46 boys 0.  That's my estimate of how many stings the boys got versus how many bees they hit.  Much Benedryl was distributed that night.

Last Saturday night, when the non basketball pictures were taken, was a "sock hop."  Because of an unfortunate double booking, all the fourth grade girls went camping (they would have LOVED it) and their big brothers and friends were drafted to take their place.  Anthony dj'd the party and there was a dance teacher who taught them things like the hand jive (oh to have video of that!).  Well one of them snuck away from the dance and bought a 12 pack of Dr. Pepper at the UDF (which happens to be next door to the Community Building where the dance was).  Once all the Dr. Pepper had been consumed, they wanted to leave.  Apparently they kept inching closer and closer to the door and then out onto the ramp.  They were told not to go any further.  So they didn't (with some encouragement).

We play our last basketball game(s) this weekend.  Parker probably will not get a basketball scholarship to Duke, but rec basketball has been so fun!  Watching Parker go from looking clueless on the court and never shooting the ball, to making a three pointer and leading in rebounds (he was probably 2nd or 3rd in rebounds but this is my story) has been such a great experience for both of us actually.  He's been with the same team for five seasons.  How cool is that?  They are really a great little team.  They aren't the biggest team and they aren't the best (although only 1 loss and that was a nail biter against a rival team they'd already beaten whom they will be joining in Jr. High next year--imagine if Duke and UNC played each other for 5 years and then the players were told they'd be merging the two teams next year to play together in Grad School), but so much fun to watch them play and grow.

OK enough sentimentalism.  Next up, Mollie has an art opening....

Monday, February 16, 2009


My dad has seemed somewhat depressed lately, OK he's seemed somewhat depressed since my brother died (and before), but lately he's been really depressed.  I thought I'd cheer him up by sending him one of those greeting cards where they kids can say the message.  I thought I was being sweet by sending this and that maybe it would cheer him up.  (Oh the last email I got from him he asked if I would have the kids email him sometimes so that he could feel in touch.)  

So he calls to say thank you.  Then he drops that he didn't send the kids anything because they hadn't thanked him for a DVD he sent and hadn't been appreciative of something else and hadn't written a thank you note for something.  Well um this is the first I've heard of this.  Also, excuse me, but I didn't know he expected a thank you note for a used DVD he sent.  I mean don't get me wrong, he is very sweet to want to share his interests with my kids and I really want him to.  But really, could you mention something before you let the resentment build up to where you don't send your grandkids a Valentine.   OK yes, Valentine's is one of those made up days to make money for Hallmark and if he never sent them one that would be OK (my mom doesn't send them).  But don't send them and then stop because of built up resentment you haven't shared with anyone.  I mean they really appreciate them and talk about them a lot.  How do you convey that?

Maybe the word for the day should be communication.  Oh and don't get me started on the whole thank you note thing.  I KNOW we should write them.  I feel GUILTY for not writing them.  They are SO appreciated (especially by the older set) and we should write them.  Hand written, not emailed, hand written, not phone called.

But really, how do you convey to someone who doesn't see the joy, how much joy there is? 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tennis Elbow Sucks

Tennis Elbow sucks!  You know what sucks the most about it, I've had it twice and I don't even play tennis!  The weird thing is that it can come and go for almost no reason.  This time I know the reason.  

Way back in September, our Brownies were becoming Girl Scouts.  After putting it off a few times, we decided they would "fly up" at our inaugural outdoor camping trip.  (I'm sure this is direct conflict with Girl Scout USA rules so if you are an informant, you may want to stop reading now.)  I volunteered to go get what we needed for the sashes.  We needed 5 numbers for our troop, two patches for our region, a rainbow, and something else I can't remember and didn't have enough of to put on Mollie's sash.  We have 18 girls.  So I ironed on these 9 patches on 18 different sashes, wait it was 17 because we had a sample Becca had done.  Each patch takes approximately 3 minutes to iron on because you have to iron on the material, then iron on the back of the material and you have to iron on the patch.  So doing the math it's almost 200 patches and that's 600 minutes and I'm not even going to attempt to calculate that in hours (after a while I did start cheating and ironed on several numbers at a time).  

Well when we went to the camp out, my elbow hurt, but I thought it was just sore.   I mean you not only have to iron, but you have to press down really hard.   It would come and go but finally mostly stayed.  I started wearing one of those groovy tennis elbow bands (I'm now the proud owner of 3, it would be 4 but I gave one away one night, in 3 different colors and 3 different models--none of them work worth a crap)--I got a lot of attention (which I love) and I often felt quite athletic.  Plus, if I couldn't lift that 8 pounds one more time in sculpting class, I looked like I had an excuse.  Anyway, that was October, this is the beginning of February, it still hurts!

The final straw happened this weekend.  I went to take our youth group for laser tag.  In laser tag you get these lasers (aka guns) and you have to hold them with both hands in order for them to fire.  I knew this was going to be a problem as my right trigger finger is connected to whatever tendon creates the pain from tennis elbow.  I tried using my left, but I was inaccurate and it turns out more competitive then I thought because I wanted to shoot the people who shot me (and I'm somewhat of a pacifist--very strange to want to shoot someone, especially your own child or a neighbor or the 6 year old who follows you around and keeps shooting you every time your lights come back on).  So I paid for my rapid fire shooting, by being woken up in the night by a throbbing pain.  This is TOO MUCH!

So Monday, I decided to wander into the Orthopedist's office at my gym.  They happened to have a cancellation and took me right in.  The doctor said, yep tennis elbow, there are a few things you can do about.  It could go away tomorrow by itself or you could have it for the next two years.  Alternatively , we can treat it with a cortisone shot or some cortisone treatments and physical therapy.  One shot and I'm done?  Let's do it.  Like childbirth, I forgot how much cortisone shots hurt.  This doctor was nice and put some anesthesia in it and so it hurt like hell while he was injecting it, but then BAM pain gone.  I actually think I might have had the urge to play tennis I was so joyful.

I went grocery shopping on my way home.  I unloaded my car.  My arm began to throb.  I put the groceries away.  Shooting pains began to radiate throughout my entire arm.  Seriously,  I think there was a point where I might have chewed it off it hurt so badly.  But there was laundry to fold.  Fortunately my dear husband came out and yelled at me to stop folding and rest my arm.  I took a couple of Advil and sat down to watch soap operas, icing my arm 20 minutes out of every hour.  Soap operas are so boring when that's all you are doing.  I mean how many times can Stephanie try to sabotage Brooke and Ridge's relationship?  and they blew up General Hospital.  Will Dr. Drake make it out alive?  I honestly, it turns out, don't care (well maybe a little about Dr. Drake--he'd be Dr. Noah Drake's son).

Anyway, all of this is to say, it now feels better.  Not perfect, but we'll get there.  It would help if I quit bumping the bruise where he injected me.  They must put A LOT of drugs in the ones the NFL players get.  You know they hurt their shoulder, they go out at half time, get a cortisone shot and then play the rest of the game.  They are getting something way better than I got, but at the same time I do feel quite the athlete now that I've been shot up with cortisone.

And to think, I could have gotten the shot in November.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Free Time

Does that sound like an oxymoron to you? It often does to me. I get lost in the "shoulds" and ought tos". I love snow days because they are free time. Well, they have the capacity to be because you could clean closets, but there's snow outside and you should go play in it. Oops I said should. I don't think I always knew this. And certainly when I worked full time I was mostly feeling guilty all day and couldn't enjoy the day. I was either missing some important meeting or could be working on some letter or document on the computer.

Since the windstorm in September, I feel like I have a new-found understanding of what a gift a snow day can be. In September, the power was out, the days were warm and long and we hadn't really gotten into the swing of school. Those days were like extra days of summer. Rather than shooing the kids out and cleaning closets (which I couldn't because I couldn't really see with no power), I took them to the river or the reservoir. We went on hikes and played board games. We came up with reasons why no electricity is a good thing. Among the top ones for my kids were--playing with fire, no homework and no school. The top ones for me were family night every night (no internet or video games), community grill outs and meals, and of course drinking all the beverages in the refridgerator before they got warm. Hey here's a thought--no internet, no guilt. hmmmmmm

Recently we've had 4 snow days. We kept power, thank goodness, because no power when it's 2* out is way different then when it's 70* out. My first instinct was to curl up in my pjs and watch movies while my kids went out sledding. I mentioned something about "walk" and George, one of our golden retrievers looked at me with his doe eyes and then attached himself to my side until I acquiesced. Mollie and I got our snow clothes on and joined some friends and took a magical walk in the woods. I think we were out for 3 hours. It was so beautiful. We, and later I, went on a walk like this every day--discovering some new spot or snow covered field. We laughed at the dogs, we laughed with our friends, we went sledding down an icy hill on our knees (on purpose).

It was unexpected. Maybe that's the trick, maybe it's not free time, but found time that makes it so special. I found it the first day, but I made sure to enjoy it the subsequent days and I hope I remember it always. Take time, make time, be in the moment.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Monday Morning Blues

I woke up this morning exhausted.  I seriously considered staying in my pajamas so I could go back to sleep after the kids left for school.  I didn't go to bed terribly late, although I did make four big sandwiches for our Super Bowl party and we watched the entire game.  (I must say I may have a new talent--making big sandwiches--we had a muffaletta, an italian, a turkey club and a plain turkey.)  So it should be no surprise that Parker is tired and "sick" this morning.  

I always feel guilty letting him stay home.  If you aren't throwing up and/or have a fever, you should go about your day.  I made him get dressed but then I looked into his bloodshot eyes and acquiesced.  And here we sit.  It's a weird balance between making a not-too-sick kid go to school and letting an actually sick kid stay home.  I'll never forget when Parker was in nursery school.  He had been sick for a couple of days and had a fever.  Our pediatrician had walk in hours starting at 8:30 so off we went to the pediatrician.  Being rush hour, we couldn't get a taxi so we walked to the ped. He cried and wined the whole way there, but I made him walk.  When we saw the ped he said, "has he been complaining that his feet hurt."  I reluctantly replied, "yes."  He said, "he has blisters all over the bottoms of his feet, he has coxsackies aka hoof and mouth."    So the resulting guilt allows him to stay home without throwing up or having a fever.....

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Little Girls and their Diaries

When I was little, I always planned to keep a journal.  I'd start full force writing what happened that day and my feelings.  I rarely kept it for very long.  Which may in fact tell you something about the future of this blog (and my success with food journals and Weight Watchers). Actually that is my memory, I'm shocked to look back and see how much I did write.  It's fun to try and remember who NC or MT was and JM or TM.   Oh the drama!

I do not like making generalizations, but there are few who will disagree that little girls have more drama than little boys.  I notice the boys just play.  Someone (or a few people) come over and off they go to jump on the trampoline or shoot each other in the woods (another story for another day).  There is seldom, especially since third grade or so, a "we don't know what to do." 

With the girls however, often the playdate/play time is over before they have even finished negotiating "the game."  They cannot just go jump on the trampoline, they have to pretend to be Massey, Cynthia, Lizzie, Ashley, or Jenny.  There is extensive negotiation about who gets to be Caroline this week or if that name is allowed.  Will they be rich or will they be poor?  They get into the car, "Mommy, pretend that you are our limo driver and we are rich girls."  or "Mommy pretend the Skyler and I are sisters.  Don't tell anyone that we aren't, OK?"  

I go into Mollie's room and it's like walking into an alternate universe sometimes.  There are sheets hanging from bed posts and computers and cell phones litter every flat surface.  There are American Girl Dolls lined up classroom style or sleeping as if at a slumber party.  They have incredible imaginations!  Invariably there is extensive discussion over who is the baby and who will be the teenager.  No one ever argues over who will be the mom, hmmmmm.  Now in their mind the ultimate in maturity, ie being a teenager, is keeping a diary.  Since before she could even properly form words, Mollie has had some notebook or other that she was keeping as a journal (as her teenage alter ego).  Here is the drama part--they must keep their journal secret--even from their friends.  But a secret isn't fun unless someone knows about it, so they show their friends their journal and tell them it's secret and they can't see it.  This wasn't really that big of a deal when their journal had a series of scribbles in it, but now there are actual thoughts and feelings in some of them.  

Now as a mother, I'm torn.  It's easy to say don't tease your friends with your secret diary.  But if they do tease, should they then have to share?  And what happens when the friend reads it without permission?  I mean, at their age (9-10) they are still figuring a lot of stuff out, especially negotiating friendships and jealousy.  I'd like for them to understand that someone can be your friend and someone else's too.  Just because Susie invited Jessica and Mary over and not you doesn't mean you are no longer friends.  (Of course there are adults who still don't get this, but that may or may not be another post--there's that whole what if someone recognizes themselves.)

In the past I've made them share.  Good friends don't tease each other with secrets.  That's usually in the moment and an easy-enough decision.  However the other night it played itself out in a new and different way.  We were invited for happy hour to a friend's house.  Two girls arrived and their hostess was at a neighbors.  They went to her room to play and await her return.  Unbeknownst to any of the grown ups, they were entertaining themselves by reading the hostess' journal.  I was blissfully in the dark about all of this until Mollie walked into the room and burst into tears and apologized profusely.  We learned a third lesson, it's no fun to read someone's secret journal and keep that a secret from them.  Throughout the evening (Happy Hour had progressed to dinner at our house--a not uncommon occurrence) the two readers had been asking the journalist questions about what she had written.  She became upset and told her mom.  The mom of the journalist confronted the girls and thus Mollie broke down into tears because she had hurt her friend's feelings.   

So two wrongs don't make a right after all.   Don't taunt your friends with your secret journal.  Don't read your friend's secret journal even if she's taunted you with it.  I'm still not sure though how to prevent future drama along these lines......
We are on snow day number 3!  It's really beautiful.  We went for beautiful snowy walks on number 1 and number 2, not sure what today will bring.  

With our usual Terrace Park aplomb, we have made each day a party.  It's what I love about living here-- it's Mayberry by day, Sigma Chi keg party by night!  

Our boys (a gang of about 6-8), gather and go on adventures (after a morning of xbox live of course--they aren't perfect).  Tuesday they had a snow ball fight and then went on the bike trail to look for hills.  Cincinnati is very hilly, however Terrace Park is quite flat.  Of course, in their 12 year old way, only one of them brought a cell phone.  One little brother lost his hat and gloves, but yet continued to play in the snow for an hour.  So the one with the cell phone was the hero of the day because after an hour they thought calling for help for him would be a good idea.  I must remember to tell the tale of these boys and the bee hive, but that's another day. 

Yesterday, Wednesday, they went to a nearby hill at a school called Stepping Stones (yes we're flat but hills are close by) to sled.  I called them at about 5 to tell them it's time to head home. They were at UDF (it's like a 7-11) having a snack.  I told them it's time to head home.  They said, but we left our sleds at Stepping Stones.  Sometimes I think they are bright, sometimes, I'm reminded they are 12.

The girls (9 years old) spend much of their time negotiating where and when they will meet.   Yesterday it took them all day to finally gather for sledding.  It was about 4:30 so after all that they got in about 1/2 an hour.

Both Tuesday and Wednesday night about 4 families have gathered for an impromptu dinner and to await the call for no school.  Last night they called for a 90 minute delay, but I guess since it's still a level 2 snow emergency we had to end up canceling school again today.  I love our impromptu gatherings, we go to pick up our child, we're invited in for a drink and the next thing you know we are gathering food or ordering pizza.  We are so lucky to have such a great, inclusive group of friends!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Starting is the hardest part

I registered for this blog in December and have yet to post.  I spend a lot of time reading other smart women's blogs and know I'm no match.  But I do have some things to say.  But then of course I'm worried about a) offending someone b) having no one read it c) having a lot of people read it, well you get the picture.   I know I'm no Ellen of Senegal, but hopefully I have other redeeming qualities.  Today, snow day number 2 I'm taking the plunge.  I've got this whole "get to know me" thing written, but I seem unable to cut and paste.  I'll figure it out, but for now I just had to post something to get going.....