Archive for January, 2010

great worrying

Red has a very good friend, they are the sweetest together, watching out for each other, true partners at school and every year they are put together, seated together, partnered, and even paired together with others who need additional moral support in class.

It makes me really proud of both of them.

Last year, when the “swine” flu was the most common subject in the news and on the street, I struggled a bit with Red, who suddenly became immensely phobic of germs. I wrote about it on my previous blog “Movin’ Down the Road.”

It got so bad and I was so worried, but eventually, especially once summer hit, the phase and worry passed on her part and therefore I was relieved of it.

Red’s little friend has suddenly developed this anxiety thing at school, and it causes her not to eat, especially in the cafeteria. Just the other day, I saw her drinking “Ensure” because I know her dad is trying to just be sure she gets the nutrients she needs into her, fast, throughout the day, until they resolve this issue. J and I are good friends with her dad, who has custody of his kids, and does an amazing job parenting his two girls.

It’s horrible and they are getting a handle on it, even  though this little eight year old is seemingly disappearing, physically, but her personality is big, her presence is huge when she is here in this house and she shines at school. But she still just doesn’t eat.

I got her to eat with us the other night though, when she was here visiting, a few completely dry pancakes, which is more than she has eaten in a while, apparently. Anyway, at school, the cafeteria is too crazy for her for eating, so her dad asked if Red would be willing to eat with his daughter somewhere quieter. He arranged it with the faculty, so Red eats with her friend in the principal’s office (which is apparently a really fun and exciting special thing to them!)  It seems to be helping, but not sure what will happen when re-introducing her to the cafeteria.

This whole thing has really affected me. I feel bad his little girl is going through it and that he is going through it. He even has her going to a therapist  who specializes in eating disorders and the last time I talked to him, he was horrified and sad and struggling.

It makes me think about the kind of kid I was and what I put my parents through. I never did anything REALLY bad, but there were times I didn’t eat, times I stole candy from my sister and her clothes when she went to college. I stayed out past my curfew but I wasn’t out partying, I was making out with this cute guy I adored, out on the front lawn. I didn’t study and got b’s and c’s, and they knew that if I studied just a tiny bit, I would have gotten a’s. I faked cleaning the house when I was supposed to and shoved my dinner under the rug, often enough. (we didn’t have a pet). I also screamed and yelled and butted heads with my mom, on a daily basis. About what, I have no idea, but all I know is we were both stubborn and over the years I have had to let go of it, for my sake, for my own behavior, and for her sake.

Although the things I worry about now are minor, like how Red is doing with math (tutoring starts next week) or if Blue is lying to me about small things, I realize these will be teenage girls, going to middle school in a few years and then high school. I think about what I saw or what I experienced as I got older and cringe to think of my kids in similar situations. We can’t always protect them, but we can be there when the come to us, needing help to fix something or just be comforted.

McGuyver fixed my frother

I’ve mentioned before, J is a bit like McGuyver.

He has fixed things with duct tape, with sheets, with wire, with shim.

We have this frother we use to froth hot milk in a pan every morning for our coffee. It makes for a great latte and he tends to make it for me, because, well, I think he likes it. It’s like magic in a way. And we are reminded how cheap it is compared to a latte down the road at the coffee shop for $4.50.

Anyway, I have been through three frothers in the last year and a half. They tend to drop and break, stop working, or pretty much fall apart in our hands sometimes. I have tried cheap brands, expensive brands, but frankly, the hand held frother is just plain fragile.

Anyway, last week, J dropped it and it fell completely apart. COMPLETELY.

After a few days of using just hot milk in our coffee, he sat down to try and repair it, because I wasn’t about to drive down to the mall (half an hour away) to find a frother at Target. Because when I am in Target for just one thing, I end up with 20 things I didn’t really need right now, and alot lighter in the pocketbook.

That’s not to say, I didn’t go to Bed Bath and Beyond and buy a wine aerator the following week.

Anyway, I was thinking how J seems to find solutions for alot of things that make me feel helpless, even making decisions sometimes. I am pretty good at making decisions, but he is really good and finding a solution for things I am stumped on or just don’t take the time to resolve and I sort of put up with annoyances.

Our TV is not the newest kind. It isn’t flat screened, it sits in a cabinet that I love and the speakers are kind of on the side. For some reason, when we watch a DVD, we turn it way up and I still can’t understand what people are saying. I can hear it, the clarity just sucks. The background noise is louder than the voices. My struggle is due to my hearing loss and often, at 9 o’clock at night, I just don’t want to wear my hearing aids to watch a movie in my pajamas.

So, since last summer, J started putting on the subtitles for me. And I will tell you, I catch things even I wouldn’t catch if I could hear it clearly.

J even started to like it.

And I think back to my frustration FOR YEARS before J came along, with this TV and how I had a hard time hearing the dvds.

In my previous post, I mentioned Chuckee Cheese and how I admitted to my daughter that it wasn’t as bad as I remembered.

Well, I am retracting that statement.

I took the kids back there last night for Blue’s postponed reward for her incentive chart. J and I had the salad bar and we got the girls a pizza. And we ordered some wings.

BIG mistake.

I woke up last night feeling disgusting.

And it doesn’t help that one of the platters originally arrived with a huge long black hair draped over it and the celery on the wings plate had an, um, short hair on it, which I didn’t see until AFTER we finished.

Yeah.

This was not something McGuyver could fix.

On Mothering this week

I sat at the kitchen counter with my 9 year old realizing, “I am trying to  teach my kid math but I have to use a calculator to check her homework.”

My seven year old screamed how she hated homework because she hated coloring. Her first grade teacher gives her about four word problems a night and then makes them color everything on the paper, every picture, every line drawing. It IS kind of annoying. So, as much as I don’t blame Blue, I make her color. She rolls her eyes and then colors them half heartedly and then asks to do math flashcards. (what a kid, huh?)

This week has been hell in our house for some reason, my older one is good as gold one day, the next, she sticks her foot out to trip her little sister, who was already on the verge of complete meltdown…who screamed, not only at her sister, but at me, at the wall, she threw her boots down the stairs and yelled “I DON’T CARE” thirty two times before 8am.

Well, she did care, when she lost her play date with her little friend from school, when the Nintendo DS went in my purse for a few days, and when she didn’t get to go to Chuckee Cheese with her sister (and me) as the reward for the previous week’s good behavior incentive chart we have been doing the last few months. She still gets the reward, but “sorry kid, we’re postponing it.”

Chuckee Cheese, which I admitted to Red, was not as bad as I remembered (I had banned it for the last 5 years since the last time I was in one) because this one is smaller and being 5:00 pm on a Wednesday, we had the place to ourselves.

Now that’s how to do Chuckee Cheese, I’m tellin’ ya.

At any rate, she stayed home, in her room, by herself, while J practiced and about two hours later he went to get her, amazed that she’s been so quiet and had stayed put voluntarily. Apparently he stepped into her room and goes, “So, Blue….what do you think?” And he squatted down so she could climb on his back and he took her downstairs to make her an omelette and toast for dinner. They did her homework together.

And when I walked in the door with Red, fresh from Chuckee Cheese, Blue ran up to me and handed me a letter she had written, with the help of J.

And she gave me a hug.

Despite the ending to the day, it was one of those things that stayed with me, longer than it should have. It made me feel guilty, like I dropped the ball on her behavior turning out  to be so, so long and stretched out that day. That maybe I did something wrong and didn’t teach her properly how to get a hold of herself. Maybe I couldn’t get a hold of MYself to handle the situation properly.

I’ll say though, if all I had were champagne in the house, I would totally crack it open and drink it. (and I hate champagne) I would toast to the fact that we all made it through the day alive.

Enough

I was pouring my third (small) bowl of this sweet and cheesy popcorn my mom gave me as a present. It’s one of those things that happen where you never really know when to say “enough”.

But I actually said it out loud, to my silent kitchen, to the bowl of sweet and cheesy popcorn. I even poured it back into the bag and made myself a cup of tea.

I received an email from a friend yesterday after I sent out a quick artwork related email. He said:

“I thought of you the other day after getting an email notice that your sister had updated her Linked-in account. It’s funny to see that, or your emails about your art stuff. In my mind’s eye, you’re still the same age as I last saw you, not a full fledge grown up. If I admit my friends have gotten older, then my own youth illusion is shattered. I can’t possibly be old already.”

It made me think how I don’t mind my age of almost 38 or how I look. Sure, if I got more or better sleep these days, I wouldn’t have circles under my eyes. If I laid off the triple chocolate bread pudding (since I know how to make it now) I might be able to lose the 8 pounds that make my pants too tight. But that is all. Regarding the age thing, I like where I am in my life and I wouldn’t trade this time in my life for any other moment in my past, quite honestly.

Anyway, it just boils down to this fear that we all have, to some degree (whether it be in a work environment, in a gaggle of girls, or a relationship/marriage) the same insecurities, which on some level reflect that we feel we aren’t “enough” in that situation.

I’m occasionally afraid I won’t be enough for J, and if I get a little insecure-wonky on him (um, usually around “that time of the month”), he gives me this “look”, which makes me settle down…I know he is sitting here next to me because he wants to be, even if he has to put up with “my crazy”.

And sometimes, when he comes home and finds me in bed watching MTV and eating tamales and olives, he still arrives and still slides in next to me, he is still there in the morning with his leg flung over me, his face against my back and his hand holding mine, I look at him and just can’t believe it.

Helping out, 1st grade

I was helping out in first grade this morning and dictating to the kids and they had to write in their composition books.

Trick Words. Review Words. “Unk” and “ink”words.

So this little guy, who tends to be more on the cuter side with his fresh ways than on the annoying side with his fresh ways, is sitting there gazing at me from across the table. He wrote down every word perfectly and was listening and patient and not talking to his friends.

I was on the last word and I said, “Wink.”

And then I winked at him.

And he smiled and grabbed his crotch and goes, “You mean WINK like MY WINKY!?!?!”

And I swear to GOD he was totally serious.

Awesome

The phone conversation with my car fixer man:

Him: So, the muffler part is going to take a few days to get the part in. It’s gonna cost you about $600.

Me: okaaay.

Him: Your battery died because of (something I can’t remember or reiterate, but it has to do with the place the battery goes) and that’s gonna cost you $(I can’t remember, I am still reeling from the $600)

I’m silent.

Him: Your battery died because your parking lights won’t turn off and we think it might be because of something wrong with your remote starter. You’ll have to take it to the dealership or the guy who installed it.

Me: What?

Him: I took the fuse out and will show you how to put it in and out under the hood until you can get someone to fix it.

Me: What?

Him: So, the total, with new windshield wipers, your oil change and inspection sticker will be $821.58.

Me: Awesome.

Stranded and I can’t lay off the chocolate frosting

This is how I feel.

I stood there over J, who was flat on his back on the ground under my car, in nice clothes, after  lunch out yesterday. And I am thinking, “this man loves me.”

I had started the car up and the engine was loud, like my muffler had been chopped. You know, like when the kids back in the day wanted a loud car to be cool.

But this was not cool.

So, he’s lying under the car in the snow and salt and mud and I hear, “your pipe is cracked”.

It was ever so slight and he thought I might be okay driving the kids down to Boston to their dad’s later in the day.

So the girls and I set off at 4, he was already on the road in his car to go play a gig. And I heard a horrible high pitched dragging sound that was actually slightly confused by the girls’ new Nintendos that they were playing in the back seat. I pulled over and sure enough, the pipe had broken and was dragging. And then I lost complete power in my car, no power steering, no lights, no heat.

At any rate, I love my car, it was my first car ever, 9 years old (yeah, my first car was when I was 28 years old, imagine that) 2001 Subaru Outback Wagon. I love it.

It’s as old as Red.

There is a possibility I will decide to buy a new car. I’ve put 5k into this one in the last two years, so it may be time to bid this one goodbye and spend some money and gain some piece of mind. The last thing I want is another breakdown in the dead of winter, farther away from home, perhaps, with my kids in the car, with no heat, or cell reception, or whatever….

Anyway, soon after, my mom came to rescue the girls and take them back to my house to get them some food. I waited in a very cold car, because I also lost complete power, for an hour, waiting for the tow truck. After he came and towed my car to the car place, I walked home in the freezing cold. (just a quarter of a mile or so). I barely felt it, I was upset, mad and annoyed.

My mom was a saint and we drove the kids the hour south to their dad’s and back again, in snow and sleet and ice.

When she dropped me off at home, I took a shower and went to bed.

I’m thinking “bad reality tv” and nachos today.

Actually, no.

I am working on a new painting, because I haven’t painted since November.

I’m doing my end of the year financials for my tax guy.

I will do the laundry.

And maybe then, will lounge under ten layers of comforters in bed, eating leftover cake frosting with a spoon and watching bad reality tv on Hulu while I wait for J to come home.