Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Good Old Days?

  I recently attended my husband's high school class reunion. My spouse remembers a lot about his high school years. I can't say I have a lot of fond memories of those years. In fact, you couldn't pay me to be 16 again. The 80s hair alone could give me nightmares if my recall was good but thank God it's not. College was marginally better but mostly I remember working my ass off, not having much money and occasionally drinking. The only person I knew there was my spouse so it was my turn to take one for the team.
  I've also heard of grammar school reunions. If there was ever any group of people I was happy to put in my rear view it was those brats, except for one person I stayed in touch with and two people I didn't. These were not nice people. I was bullied but I don't think they called it that back then. Nowadays it's a huge deal in schools. We are lucky to live in an amazing school district where we couldn't ask for better teachers for our daughter.
  There are all sorts of meetings, programs, books and public service announcements about preventing bullying. What I'm wondering is why can't we just teach our kids to leave each other the hell alone? To quote the philosopher (or maybe it was Will Smith?) 'Don't start nothin', won't be nothin'.' We can't expect the schools to raise our kids for us. 
  I know there are plenty of people out there who say that bullying is always going to be a thing and kids need to stop being 'wussies'. That may be true but only up to a point. First, bullying should not always be a thing.  I firmly believe that the problem starts at home. Whether it's lack of parenting or poor behavior being modeled at home, I firmly believe we are products of our environment. I also believe that kids will do whatever they feel they can get away with. I live with cute but evil.

  It would be great if we were all born with a thick skin. Unfortunately, much to my dismay, I discovered recently that I can hold a grudge like a nun. An old friend let me know she reconnected with an old bully on Facebook. She let me know the woman has a disabled daughter. I don't know if I said it out loud but my first thought was 'It serves her right', not exactly magnanimous! 
  If we're supposed to enjoy karma, why do I feel like such a rat bastard for even thinking such a thing? While I admit the problem is mostly mine, it's a lot like the old therapist joke, 'If it's not one thing, it's your mother.'. I most likely went to school with a bunch of people who were not taught how to behave. Some wounds fester and it appears that I was swimming in a fish bowl that was never cleaned. It's now up to me to clean up. Beware, lest your offspring become the victim of someone else's bad parenting!
  Don't get me wrong. I do plan on teaching our girl how to defend herself (preferably verbally first) and eventually how to agree to disagree. First, since she is still young, I want her to understand how to be a good friend. Fortunately, the rule is simple, treat others how you want to be treated. The execution part can be complicated. She hasn't asked me yet 'But mom, what if the other guy is an asshole?', for example. I'm still working on my response to that one. There's a fine line between nice and doormat but that can be hard to explain to someone who is 8.
  I do plan to make sure she understands that greeting someone with a punch in the face is not acceptable behavior ( especially at a reunion).

Thursday, November 17, 2016

We survived, now what?

   After what felt like weeks but was really only days so far on Facebook I've finally decided to get political but only here if I can.  First, I am glad it's over. The political ads made Halloween seem like a prelude to Easter. The presidential campaigns were bad enough. We were also subjected to the local ones, not even in our state, just to add to the nauseum. I was really concerned about the effect they'd have on our daughter but they were repeated so much that she started to tune them out. Still, it was really getting old for all of us.
  I had no clear idea what I was going to do when I got into that voting booth. It was a lot like a martial arts test. I try not to think about it until it's on top of me. For most elections, I end up voting for the person who seems the least evil. What do you do when you're faced with a tie? I was used to holding my nose on election day, but full on hazmat suits?! I've left my screaming pumpkin on my porch in honor of the results.
  I admit it was also hard to ignore the commercials for us grownups, too. Hillary's commercials were the worst and best ones. They were the most effective in that the most negative shots at her opponent were nothing more than clips of him speaking like an ass. The bad part for me was hearing more venom than policy. Trump's commercials were God awful because they were full of pie in the sky promises with next to zero clue how to get there.
  I cannot understand how in a country of millions of human beings, these two bozos were the best we could come up with?!?! I wanted a woman president, for obvious reasons. I am one, I'm raising one, and men have been screwing this up for so long, why not try a woman? My problem was that it shouldn't have been That woman. If she had any class, she would have resigned or offered to resign after the Benghazi disaster and who knows, maybe if that had happened, Americans would have forgiven and forgotten by now.
  When the big day finally came, I found a way out. I voted, but I couldn't bring myself to vote for either one and the alternatives were underwhelming, too. Fortunately, I found a third option, you were able to type in someone! I typed in the name of Alan West, no not the guy who played Batman. He's a political commentator, of sorts. (Google him.) It was an emotional choice, I know. Many people said 'You wasted your vote', I get the logic but I went the emotional route.
  Like most other white people, or rather, not enough of us, I was surprised at the outcome of the election. More than that, I found myself in a real funk for a few days afterward.
  I also couldn't watch the concession speech and definitely not the victory speech. The concept of our nation putting that thing in office was bad enough, I couldn't hack hearing it speak any more than necessary. Beside the whole shitty attitude toward women thing the other thing that bothered me about what we elected was the I-love-me attitude that was so overt it could be seen from space. If Hillary had the same attitude, she at least hid it better. Did I mention I left my screaming pumpkin on my porch in honor of the election results?
  Facebook has been depressing mostly because I'm watching friends argue back and forth over who they voted for. I read one really good post that said basically I'm disgusted at people who voted for Trump because they were supporting his attitudes (racism is ok, it's ok to treat women like shit, we don't care if you make fun of handicapped people etc.). What I'm wondering is whether that's really true. How many of my friends chose to ignore Trump's behavior because they would rather have put Daffy Duck in the White House over Hillary? That's understandable.
  The problem I have with the protestors is that I see them as a bit misguided. Our election was legal according to the laws we currently have. What the protestors should direct their energy to is to change the electoral college law. From what I understand Hillary won the popular vote and she would have won had the law been different, but it's not. We're stuck with who won, legally.
  My mother I think, had the smartest take on the whole thing. She said 'I hope he surrounds himself with smart people and listens to them.' I'm hoping that, too. None of my friends would treat women like shit or make fun of handicapped people. I wish they had voted for None of The Above but that guy was too smart to want the job. My friends are still da bomb, no matter who they voted for. I just hope they agree to disagree, even if it's for four years.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

What's a holiday?

 I would like to take an informal poll.  What constitutes a holiday for you? Most would say family. I am, or at least partially, with that crowd. Thanksgiving is well on its way and hence the annual decision is upon us.  Since our family is not only small but largely older, we don't seem to have a consistent tradition when it comes to Turkey Day. This holiday, as a kid, was always spent at my grandmother's house. Now that many people have passed away and I have a family, I am down to my Mother and the inlaws to consider.
  It's frustrating that I'm the only one who feels this way.  I get the feeling that my inlaws consider us as an afterthought. We are informed of what his family is doing for holidays after the decision is made. I guess because I'm the last one to join the family and most of them are older it makes sense.  My problem is their choices.  They are restaurant people. Maybe someday I'll get there but I'm not there now. I have no interest in making someone else cook a huge dinner for my benefit, I get it, it's a lot of work.
  Here's where the question of environment versus the company comes in,  Am I wrong to feel like Thanksgiving is not a holiday when you're at a restaurant.  For some reason every year we go out with his family, I feel like I'm missing out. On the other hand, I don't want my husband to not see his family on a major holiday. Our house, while not completely far away from everyone, is also not centrally located. Although in previous years, they have selected restaurants close to our house. ( I don't think they've had much of my cooking so how could they deem it inedible??)
   It could be that the grass is always greener. Would it feel better if some people came here for dinner?  A lot of the people I grew up with are gone. There's something about walking into a house and smelling a turkey that's irreplaceable for me. I understand the appeal of taking the easy way out and when you work full time, the prospect of having company and all that entails is especially daunting. This is all the more reason to have people over our house, at least this year. I'm a stay at home mom.  I have the luxury of a little more time and energy. 
  We also have the miracle of supermarkets. If I asked everyone to bring maybe a side dish or dessert, doesn't that make things easier and certainly cheaper than a whole restaurant dinner? I admit I have another motive. I get to use a turkey out of my freezer and not have to deal with a stupid amount of leftovers. We are a family of three without company so a huge turkey is not something I would normally consider. 
  For some reason, I don't mind Christmas with the in-laws, mainly because it's at someone's house. Still, I am still trying to figure out how to start our own tradition even if it is just us three. It would be nice to have people over that day, too but let's not get greedy. I may have to settle for Christmas Eve at some point. We still have one tradition left from my youth. There has always been a fish dinner and  Mass with my mother. Currently, we gather what's left of my side of the family and my mother prepares the Polish fish recipes I grew up with. 
  That tradition may change locations but it will never be a restaurant. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Happy-ish Anniversary

   Recently, my spouse and I have hit the 14 year mark.  It’s hard to believe, of course. I don’t feel 48 and I’m lucky enough to be told I don’t look it, either. We’ve hit that Jesus-Christ-it’s-you-again point in our marriage. I’d like to say that we’re still as frisky as ever but mostly we just want a nap.  Our beautiful daughter is 8, funny, smart and full of energy. Did I mention mommy and daddy want a nap?  I’ve asked my spouse if he’s sorry we’ve only got one child.  “I’m in my 50’s, I’m exhausted!”  Our next child will have four legs and a tail.
  I get it that I’m lucky to be able to stay home and raise our daughter, it’s just that there are days when I want to run away from home. There are a few downsides if I do that. I’d have to make my own coffee for one. (We live by the biblical rule he-brews.) I’m also not sure who’d end up getting custody.  I don’t mean my daughter, I mean that currently, we are the party house and our friends would have to choose.  I don’t get any holidays.  Our family is small and my in laws are older and prefer to go to restaurants for holidays. I am way not fond of this.  Thanksgiving at a restaurant is not a holiday.  
  I’ve gotten so desperate I made up my own holiday. I call it Friendsgiving.  It gives me the chance to make a turkey for more than 3 people and it’s a cheap excuse to get everyone together to drink too much and bulls**t all evening. I also get to use my free-for-$400 turkey we get every year and we get turkey leftovers.  We’ve also been doing this for a while now so my guests literally make themselves at home and help clean up my kitchen! Who wants to louse that up? 
 I’m glad I only have two children. I gave birth to one, the other one bought me flowers for our anniversary. Our problem is that “date nights” are few and far between.  We get out by ourselves once a year whether we need to or not. By the time we get done paying for a sitter, dinner, drinks (God forbid), dessert and a movie if we really get crazy, we’ve spent a stiff chunk of change.  It’s no wonder we don’t get out much more than that.       
  As if we weren’t short enough on time, I’ve been “Highly Encouraging” (harassing the s**t out of) my spouse to start getting in shape. No, round is a shape, but not a good for your health shape. It has recently dawned on me that I need him to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible.  I admit I have ulterior motives.  I cannot even think about the possibility of raising a teenager by myself.  It would also be nice to someday enjoy retirement with a healthy person as opposed to taking care of someone chronically ill. Accountants make lousy nurses and I have zero bedside manner. 

  The spouse and I get along well enough.  The biggest reason I married the man (besides my best friend telling me to) was that I became convinced we were joined at the brain. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said “I demand a foil hat!”, I’d be driving a much nicer car. The compatibility thing was overwhelming since the beginning.  We’ve read a lot of the same books, he knows how I react to things, we say the same thing at the same time a lot, and can finish my sentences.  It’s nauseating and creepy at the same time. I tried to mentally calculate what the odds are of me finding anyone else I have this much in common with, yeah, I guess I’m committed - or I ought to be. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Mom's new car and the disappointed dinosaur

  I was recently dragged kicking and screaming into the world of new cars and even worse, car dealers.  My mom just bought a new to her Rav 4 small fuv.  I admit I liked the new car smell and the cockpit.  I was bummed out to discover that the newer cars do not come equipped with cd players anymore.  Don't ask me why I was surprised.  I think it was also a bit annoying to have my old age thrown up in my face like that.  It makes sense now that I think about it.  Of course there's a store in my areas selling cd's for $1, everyone else is buying their music in a digital format, except for us old fartasaurs.
  Mom asked me to come with her when she bought the car, that's the only reason I was there.  Finding out how much money these people were making on the deal is about as easy as finding the holy grail. Feeling as comfortable as a guppy in a shark tank didn't help. Unfortunately for us both, my mom had decided that she was buying a car that day and they knew it.  The dealer in question was someone she found on the recommendation of a friend.  I am also lousy at hiding my dislike of how much they wanted from my mom for the car.
  I think my mom just wanted the process to be over.  Despite the shingles, mom had been to several dealers with friends test driving cars before I got involved.  Normally shopping is supposed to be fun isn't it?  I've been in home improvement stores where I've had to send up a flare to get help (ok it just felt that way). Mom was already fed up with the whole process, or more to the point, exhausted. She made an appointment to buy a car. (This was a  completely new concept for me, to be sure.) Still, I expected a better attitude from people to whom we were trying to give a pantload of money.
  Dealing with car salesman is also a lot like dealing with a politician, again not helpful.
  Mercifully, the best thing about this is that once we're done, we're done for a good long time.  We are of the drive-it-till-the-wheels-fall-off ilk for a lot of reasons.  Cheapness is probably the biggest reason along with avoiding the car buying process like the plague.  It's great to have a new car, of course, but I am perfectly content to keep my old car.  Old Bessie is the last car I bought from my ex before he passed away.  That process was the epitome of car buying perfection.  All I had to do was put the remote down long enough to write him a check.  It was the equivalent of "Fetch me a new car, wench!".  I bought it sight unseen from a guy who was more anal about the car being perfect than Sheldon Cooper solving an equation. I also knew I wasn't getting ripped off. I paid him cost plus a finder's fee.  God, I miss him!!!
  The disadvantage to a new car is the fact that the more gadgets you have, the more something can break. My car is over fifteen years old and I'm sure there are "new" nifty features that I have never used much less know how to use.  Finding an honest mechanic can be like looking for a unicorn.  You've heard of them but never actually seen one.  It can be as much fun as sticking a fork in your eye.  Someday, when I do have to get a new car, I may have to take a course to teach me how to use all the crap it comes with. Maybe I should just ger a new bike.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Can we get a grip, maybe?

   I am shocked again at how fast our summer has flown by.  You'd think I'd be used to this by now but no, I'm still amazed.  It began with the end of the school year panic about how am I going to keep our daughter occupied and ended with school starts when??!!  Our girl did have a good summer.  I can't say it was Facebook glamorous.  There were no pictures of us checking in to this or that amusement park or getaway spot but thanks to camp, she managed a few fun trips and we made it to the beach.
  Fall, will probably fly by in a sneeze.  Besides the blur of homework and soccer, I have a consignment sale, a martial arts test, a birthday party, and a contest entry to handle.  I also managed to commit myself to regular blogposts on a large website for promotional purposes.  Changing my name to skippy would probably give me copyright issues with a major corporation so I'll settle for an unofficial nickname.  I'm wondering how thin I can spread myself.
  It would help me get a grip if I could manage to eat my elephant one bite at a time.  Making lists help and maybe a dose of reality would aslo be nice.  I will not be able to pull everything off, at least not perfectly or when I would like.  Admitting that I don't have a cape and phone booth is depressing. The fun thing about having 'can't remember s**t' and lists it that you have to remember where the hell you put the damn lists.  Starting things early although almost against my genetics is also helpful.
  Another shocker would be to remember that life will go on.  My test is not a death match where the loser gets eaten by a bear.  I will do what I can to make time to write and maybe dig up some old pieces or leaf through some handwritten things to type in and post if I get stuck.  Setting a reasonable word count for fall posting would help.  Once our daughter starts school and soccer, I'm bound to find something funny to rant about.
   Our daughter will definitely turn 8 and come hell or high water there will be an ice cream cake.  The rest will come together one way or another.  We already have half the gifts for her.  The toughest part is telling my inlaws and our friends what her majesty would like for her birthday.  This is a good problem to have, Hellllooooo, we are blessed, remember???  God forbid we should hang onto that.
  Another outcome of all this stress is that I'm losing my hair.  It was getting so bad I went to a dermatologist for help.  I am told the leading cause is - you guessed it - stress!  Stop worrying about losing your hair, it causes hair loss!  I was told my hair is healthy, it's just abandoning ship.  Peachy, I may have to start shopping for hats, or snarky baseball caps.
   Could we not completely freak out and find patches of time to actually enjoy rather than survive??  My God, I may need an oxygen mask! Let's not go completely nuts. They say that exercise is also good stress relief.  I've been having some ungodly workouts lately but for some reason the only thing I've gotten is sore.  The upside of this is that I'm working off my alcohol and chocolate in advance.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

It's just another manic birthday...but does it have to be?

  I can't believe it either.  The timing is going to be one mad scramble.  Brace yourself. Where did we put the Cuervo?? I am on the trail of arranging another birthday party. Our princess is turning 8 soon and, spoiled bunny that she is, we are having a party at a local arcade.  I am less than thrilled about this but it couldn't be helped.  While I never had my act together, I do try to plan ahead at least a little for our daughter's birthday.
  This year mom's car accident threw me for a loop.  I forgot all about planning for a party once my mom called and said she was in the hospital.  Long story short, she had a bad car accident and totaled her car.  It was an honest mistake, I think, but mom was pretty shaken up. It only took a week or two for the worst of the dust to settle but my focus got shifted and I just wasn't thinking about party plans.  What we wanted to do, have people at our house, was no longer going to work because the entertainment we wanted to rent was no longer available.
  As we say at our house, bologna happens.  I now need to move forward and accept help from a party place.  On the upside, I get to focus on the grown up family party - yes,  there's 2 gatherings. This means a lot fewer people at my house.  This is a plus since our house is too small to have people indoors so I keep everyone in our garage. The family crowd is also quite helpful since the inlaws and close friends ask 'what can we bring?'.  My house also gets a good cleaning since company's coming. That's about as much fun as a fork in the eye but at least I end up with a clean house.
  I also need to work getting ready for a consignment sale.  I registered to sell so I need to start getting my stuff together.  The problem is keeping ahead of things so I'm not behind the eight ball and killing myself to get it all done.
  A friend recently asked me a great question.  'Do you have to have a birthday party for her?' This got me thinking - again.  Why are we going through all this as if it was some sort of 'requirement'? I mentioned this to our girl. 'You know, I said, not everyone has birthday parties.'  She looked at me as if I had asked if she wanted to be disemboweled.
  Here's a biggie for the mommy to do list.  How do we instill some gratitude in a daughter who is incredibly blessed? I'm guessing this is going to take baby steps, possibly billions. We struggle as it is to keep our girl from getting greedy.  Unfortunately, I've seen that overstimulated look of a kid tearing through gifts, barely acknowledging one before the next one gets opened.  I plan to call on the cavalry for this one.  I plan to ask our family therapist for some ideas. In the meantime, I'm open to suggestions from you, dear reader.  

Thursday, September 8, 2016

For the love of God, slow down!

  Recently, I saw a friend post on Facebook that he saw pumpkin spice coffee at WaWa in August.  I thought, 'don't worry, in ten minutes it'll be Christmas'.  I think the retail after summer sling shot to the holidays is really bad for a mommy who feels overwhelmed already.  For me, they're just heaping on more s**t I'm not ready for- and in a shameless money grab to boot.
   I'm amazed like everyone else how fast the summer flew by. Funny to think how I was worried about how I was going to keep our girl busy all summer and now she started third grade this month! It still feels like I just brought her home from the hospital. Tempus fugit does not need any help.
   I look forward to the weekend for obvious reasons but is that really such a bright idea? Most people don't have the luxury of either a job they love or independent wealth. How do you find pieces at least of your week to enjoy so you're not 'looking forward' past your whole life? I don't want my week to be something to 'kill off' at least not completely.
  So how do I pull out of my personal vortex?  My week blurs by in a to do list of household crap.  I find this funny in the sense that I'm a stay at home mom.  You'd think I'd have free time.  I haven't been bored since I was 8.  I would be baffled as to why the house isn't immaculate but that's a wall of pudding because of the 2 children I clean up after, ages 8 and 53. There's plenty I would like to do but it seems I don't often make it past the brussels sprouts portion of the list, at least not during the day.
  Getting it all done so you won't be sorry is a big cattle prod but is it really such a bright idea?  How important is this really?  What's the worst that will happen if it doesn't all get done?  Will something explode?  
  It seems odd to me that the things I journal about always end up resolving themselves.  Every single time I go back through those hand written pages of worries they always turn out fine.  I wish I had a grip on that fact from the beginning.  If there is objective evidence that worrying is a waste of time, why do I keep doing it? I can only surmise it must be a deeply ingrained habit.
  Maybe the problem is my vision.  My eyes are way bigger than my stomach when it comes to all the things I want to get done.  There's no way I can pull it all off, not without a cape and phone booth.  Some things simply will not get done and I have trouble accepting that sometimes.  It would also help me to keep my eyes on myself, too.  I am not the Martha Stewart type.  When I am lucky enough to come up with something creative, it's usually in response to an emergency.  There will never be a birthday party with homemade perfectly decorated anything in our future.
   Those close to me also know that I am notoriously late for everything.  Maybe the way to get ahead is to take a step back.  I'll settle for baby steps on this one since we know what a basket of sunshine I am early in the morning.  I'm trying to get up a few extra minutes early to allow more time for the harassment campaign known as getting my daughter ready for school.  Once during the first week of school I fell asleep and was late to go get our girl.  Baby steps apparently came back to kick me in the butt.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Eureka, sort of, finally!

  "She needed to be 'bitch slapped' but he didn't do it".  I heard my spouse read this to my daughter before bed recently.  Someone is apparently getting frustrated with our girl's choice of reading material.  We've gone through this before when our girl was smaller.  She would get stuck on one book until we all had it memorized.  After a while we'd get bored and mess with her by changing things in the story.  Half the fun was seeing if we'd get caught. "That's not what that said!" At least we knew she was paying attention.
  This was all part of the "process" involved in getting her majesty to get ready for bed.  Some nights are better than others, of course.  The stories are probably my fault.  I'm a book nerd from way back and when I had my daughter, that was just a cheap excuse to get more books.  The downside of this is inventory management.  I'm a regular at library book sales and I have a ball looking.  It's one of the few times I will voluntarily shovel my butt out of bed early on a weekend.
  The rest of the process can be attributed to standard kid operating procedure.  Our girl is a professional staller.  Can I have some water? I'm hungry! Is it a bath night? Things got a bit hairier at during second grade.  Our girl's math grades were almost swirling the perimeter.  We tried the computer math games, math dice and getting her 'help' with figuring out the cost of treats at the grocery store.  Finally, her teacher suggested flash cards and our therapist helped out by suggesting they be neon.  Somehow flashcards got added to the "process" mainly because I couldn't figure out how to get any cooperation earlier in the day.
   I think the captive-audience-because-you're-upstairs helps.  It was painful at first but it got a little better when she figured out that these weren't going away anytime soon.  This harrassment continued all through the summer.  What frustrated me was that I didn't figure out how to take the torture out the flashcards until almost September.  Our therapist suggested that since our girl is more of a visual kid, I could just get her to find the answer to a math question in a pile of flashcards.  When we went to the library one day and ran into one of her teachers, she gave me the second half of a great idea!  We could have a race.
   Built into our bedtime saga is now a math game.  I spread out the answer cards and 'race' our girl to find the answers.  She had so much fun beating mommy that she asked for more cards!  I had to wonder if she was feeling well but I've learned to shut up and go with it (selectively, that is) for as long as it lasts.  Despite the fact, that I'm a CPA, my seven year old wins the math race every time by a mile.  She hasn't figured out why mommy is so slow.  Sometimes I don't get it, either.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

exercise - in masochism?

   I am very jealous of my gorgeous instructor, John.  It began as a horrible girl crush.  The man is young, handsome and in fabulous shape.  He's the complete opposite of my husband.  That's an ongoing struggle I have in my marriage.  My spouse is my best friend and we are practically joined at the brain.  I didn't marry him for the unbridled sex appeal but sometimes I miss that.  I'm having an imaginary illicit affair with my teacher.  Good thing he's not aware of that, I wouldn't want to skeev him out.
 Before anyone gets the wrong idea, make no mistake.  We are all of us right where we belong.  That is to say we are all paired up with the perfect spouses for us.  'John', my teacher,  has also never been anything but a consummate professional.  We all know I've made a commitment to run to the end of my chain and bark (to quote a comedian) and I'm cool with that.  Those that know me and my spouse know how spoiled I am and also know I'm smart enough not to louse that up.  John is also so married it can be seen from space.
  I've been taking classes with him for years now.  He began teaching self defense at my dojang.  Recently, he started a new series of real world self defense and intense fitness classes.  They began with an evening information session to survey for interest.  I figured it sounded neat and a little intimidating but I wanted to check it out.  I decided I'd have no problem looking at John for an hour a few nights a week so I signed up.
 Thus began an odyssey into what I can only guess is some warped combination of humoring my mid life crisis and an undiagnosed mental illness.  We started classes and I had no problem watching those nice muscles.  After the first week I woke up so sore it felt like my hair hurt and I was cursing Mister  Handsome Pants -- and I kept coming back.
 The lunacy continued and included such fun things as flipping tires, box jumps and ground pounds and went on to include burpees and "hood drills".  Hood drills, just to enhance the masochism, involve an exercise in reacting whatever threat is in front of you once a hood is removed. (See undiagnosed mental illness.)  
  What's even wierder is the fact that I enjoy these classes or should I say the benefit of them.  I've had fantasies about working out at home in my basement but the reality is that I'm someone who needs to leave the house.  I've also noticed that the older I get the closer to impossible it becomes to get in shape (unless you count round as a shape).  Normal gym workouts no longer seem to give the same results they used to.  I could also eat salad until I develop a nose twitch but still stay ostensibly the same size.  Unfortunately, I also need to sweat like a farm animal and do it often just to break even.  The sessions themselves are fast paced and you don't see the same exact routines twice.  Putting it mildly, by the end of a class, I 'mell.
  I'm guessing the real root of this warped addiction goes pretty deep.  When I was a teenager I lost a lot of weight the "wrong way" and ended up in the hospital.  I recovered physically but haven't been able to see myself clearly since.  I did manage a healthy pregnancy although I was frustrated that the only thing the doctors removed was the baby. They could have taken some extra but no, just our daughter.  Besides the peer pressure of "not wussing out and quitting", my pants are the other big reason I return.
   Somewhere around the sixth week of training from hell, I noticed my abs were improving and my jeans were starting to feel loose. I was teetering on the verge of feeling good about how I looked and was unwilling to give that up. I was trapped, dammit.
    I am one of the older students in our group. Some evenings you'd think John was making a concerted effort to kill us.  There was one particular evening recently when we were doing four rounds of craziness.  By the fourth time,  my burpees had gone from a normal looking down and up to flopping myself on the floor and praying for death.
  What helped a lot was the camaraderie of this group.  Maybe you latch onto each other in a crisis but these people are da bomb all the same.  I've gotten cheered on to finish a set of evil exercises by people I've just met that night as well as the regulars. They also make you feel like you want to finish your set even if you have to drag yourself across the floor with your teeth.
   Every once in a while, we'd all go out for a drink after class, too.  I try to be careful not to put back on too much of what I took off but either way, they're fun evenings because I get to listen to people's blackmail stories.
  I've also learned to look at the world differently.  I'm a bit more aware of my surroundings.  The self defense courses have taught me to look at my environment as a source of weapons should I ever need it.   Every class with John is a combination anatomy and physiology and a physics lesson.  I am a little bit proud of how much stronger I've gotten and I plan to keep training to build up muscle memory.  That part, I'm finding, seems to take a while.
   I figured out another reason why these classes are so much fun and the biggest reason I'm jealous.  The passion is infectious.  John really enjoys what he does.  It's as if someone told his parents, 'Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. you have a bouncing baby law enforcement professional.'  There are very few people I have met who are doing what they were born to do.  My ex, my mechanic and my instructor definitely are born to their jobs.  I'm still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
     I plan to keep trying to figure what I am meant to do, in between classes when I can walk, that is.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Bad Mommy on parade???

   It can be a real minefield.  When you are around what you perceive to be "bad parenting", how do you handle it? I took our girl to our local Chik Fil A for lunch after her CCD program as a sort of reward.  Someone posted on social media that they were having a chicken giveaway so being the cheapskate that I am I thought it would be a good day to take my kid to lunch.  Unfortunately for me, half of Gloucester County had the same idea.  The place was mobbed.  The promotion was for a free entree for every customer who showed up dressed as a cow.  That was the one half of the promotion I missed.
  We lucked out and found a good seat in full view of the play place.  I managed to get us settled and waited in line to order food.  If people took voting as seriously as free chicken I'd feel much better about the upcoming election but I digress.  Fortunately, I looked down and found a cow spot sticker on the floor.  I put it on my shirt just for the heck of it, not expecting anything. When I got to the register,  Playing dumb, I asked the cashier if there was some kind of party at the restaurant.  The guy was nice enough to tell me I was supposed to dress like a cow and gave me a free sandwich just for a stupid sticker!
   When you order a kids meal rather than giving you a toy, they give you a book.  As a mom, I always thought this was great.  As it turned out,  my daughter really didn't need another book, especially one that was written for younger kids.  Oddly enough, there was an older girl sitting across from us who was waiting for her mom.  She was older and after talking briefly, we could tell she had "special needs".  My girl decided that she didn't need her book and gave it to the older girl who was sitting there and chatting.  Every once in a while, she surprises me and makes me proud of her.  It's really disconcerting!
   The other girl's family came and joined her and my daughter decided to go to the "play place".  This   "other girl" also had a little brother who (we discovered later) also had issues.  He also chose to use the play place.  This boy was overweight and younger than my daughter.  A short tine later my girl came out crying saying the kid kicked her in the stomach. Assessing how bad she is hurt is one of the hardest things I run into as a mom.  Half the time we refer to it as "injuring her hambone" depending on the amount of attention Meryl St reep's boo-boo is getting.  While I want her to be able to shake things off, I also want to make sure I don't downplay something serious.  Nobody ever clutched their chest and yelled for an accountant.
   Evidently, its older sister must have told the manager because an employee came by and offered her a bag of ice.  In the meantime, the nasty boy had apparently been bothering two other kids.  The little beast emerged from the play place, refused to apologize and threw a hissy fit when he was denied ice cream!  I saw the mother take her kids up front.  Oher mothers were looking on and  commenting.  "She's not getting him ice cream is she??!!"  Fortunately, the family left shortly afterward without dessert.
  The manager came over to us and asked us what happened and if my girl was ok.  I let her know everything was fine.  To the restaurant's credit, the manager took our information and offered my girl a free ice cream cone, which she gladly took.  It's been very rare in my experience to see fast food places give a rats ass about their customers despite the litigious world we live in.  These "play places" are hard.  They are offered for the convenience of the customers, they are not free childcare!  As the parent of a one and only, it's not easy to back off the helicopter.  Oddly enough, the best parenting advice I ever got came from probably one of the worst parents (in retrospect) I've ever met, my father. He once told me "You guys didn't come with instructions!".
   That, in a nutshell, is it.  The advice that covers everything.  My problem is my brain and the drop shoot effect I seem to suffer from.  My friends know all too well what a sarcastic critter I am and diplomacy is not one of my strong suits.  According to my spouse,  I am aptly named, Barb.  How do you avoid judging someone when the situation looks so bad others are commenting?  Doubt has been removed, one would think, about what you're seeing.  Worse than that, as one who overthinks everything, I worry about what kind of impression this is making on my kid.
   Young as she is, it didn't take long for my little Judge Judy to make comments.  "He was mean! He shouldn't have done that! He's supposed to know better.  That was not nice. He was bothering other kids, too!"  I found myself reminding my own daughter that it's not our place to teach him how to behave.  That's his mommy's job.  It appears that judgements are about as easy to avoid as germs!  This is not the first time I've been "caught by surprise" in these parenting situations.  I'd say it's pretty much a way of life.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

motivational ranter

   It's a Saturday evening and we're watching the news. Funny thing is that one of the featured stories is really close to what I wanted to write about.  That subject is motivation.  During the summer my daughter has no homework.  Typical of seven year olds she also has an incredibly short attention span.  During the school year, when she did have homework, it was a never ending battle.  What espicially frustrated mommy was that this kid spent more effort trying to weasel out of homework than she would have just to do her damn homework.
  One of the biggest issues we had was with writing.  Her teacher was an amazing woman who really got involved with her kids and didn't bury them with homework.  You'd think we were asking our girl to rip out her eyeballs or learn nuclear physics over 4 measley sentences!  Every night at home was too much fun for humans.  I could only imagine how she was behaving in class.  By the end of second grade I bought the teacher a gift card to a liquor store.
   All of this is just the latest in a never ending battle for raising a competant human.  This brings me to one of my biggest parenting gripes.  I am ungodly frustrated by the fact that it is seemingly impossible to get this gorgeous, brilliant human being I gave birth to to just do what the hell I ask without some kind of bribery involved.  One of my problems is my age.  I grew up in the pre-behavior chart era.  My "motivation" started with dealing with an angry Polish woman and the reward was not getting the s**t beaten out of me.  Flash forward to today and now I have to figure out what to reward my squirrely princess with so she'll do her math!  Incidentally, the news report I mentioned profiled a program in California that pays kids money to stay out of trouble.  I can only imagine what my folks would have said about that, after they stopped laughing.
   Rewarding kids for doing what's expected seems to be everywhere.  I recently read a book called Mean Mommies Rule by D. Schipani.  I wish I had read it earlier.  I think it would have been much more helpful than those what to expect books by a mile.  The author details her attempts to raise her kids to be independent functioning humans who are responsible for their own happiness.  It talks about hearkening back to an earlier era of when kids had chores because they were family members and people didn't have the luxury of materiality.  It appears that we loved our daughter a little "too much" in some respects.  I am finding that to "reverse some of my mistakes" is going to be a long slow process but my daughter is not the only stubborn person in the family.
  I am holding onto the fact that our girl is still only seven. She is older than I would have liked to be figuring this stuff out although things could be worse.  Our little girl is not an out of control beast but there are definitely areas we need to work on.  Part of my problem is that being a bit isolated means I don't have a good handle on what is age appropriate for certain behaviors.  How old should she be to do the wash, for example.
  There were things about my childhood I wish were different, no question. However, there's too much about today's environment that makes me wish I had a time machine.  Anti bullying campaigns drive me nuts.  I get the impression that parents are expecting the schools to help raise their kids.  It's true that it really does take a village but rather than pressuring schools to fix bullying shouldn't people be raising their kids not to be assholes in the first place??!!  Again, my dinosaur brain goes back to the days when there was a grapevine and people were honest.  If someone else's mom saw you do something stupid, unless you ran faster than a phone call, you were in trouble when you got home.  The grownups rarely questioned the accuracy of another parent's report, either.
 I admit I don't recommend spanking - I just completely understand it.  Everyone reacts to discipline differently.  I grew up a nervous kid.  $3000 worth of therapy and several hundred milligrams of prozac later and everyone is fine is not how I want to raise my daughter.  Doing the hard work of parenting is way more complicated than spanking to get your way and moving on.  Making someone understand the why of how things have to be can be draining to say the least.  I will probably looking for the happy medium until my kid is thirty.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Mother's Day

     Recently it was Mother's Day and it was a very rainy one.  It was also the weekend of our daughter's First Holy Communion.  This is a big deal for Catholics and our girl was very excited.  Mom mom took her shopping and as funny as it seemed, she fell in love with one dress and we couldn't talk her into another one.  It reminded me of that moment when you try on a wedding dress and you realize when you find "the one".  Weird since she's only seven.  I have plenty of time to worry about big things like that but flashforwards are easy when you see your second grader in a white dress.
   We were lucky in that our group was scheduled for an 11:30 mass.  This was great for mommy since we know what a freaking basket of sunshine I can be early in the morning and the little apple in question didn't roll fall from my tree either.  However, another stronger genetic anomally made me shovel my butt out of bed earlier - the urge to bargain hunt.  That same morning there was a consignment sale at our local middle school.  I also happen to sell with these people in the fall so I was familiar with the type of merchandise they would have for sale.
   Being an only child, our girl doesn't want for much but I always figure it's worth a prowl because I enjoy the thrill of the hunt.  It also helped that I didn't desparately need stuff so I could relax a little.    That takes some stress away from worrying about someone else beating me to something I needed.  For a shocking change I was early to the sale.  I had to double check to make sure I was in the right place but after a few minutes a line began to build.
  I found a few good things and tried to keep it moving so I could get back in time.  The last thing I needed was people freaking out on me the day of First Holy Communion because mommy was shopping.  As soon as I got home I finished getting dressed and we got our girl ready.  She looked wonderful and even remembered most of what her teachers told her for the mass.  Even my sister in law and niece from Audubon showed up which was really nice considering how busy they are.  We survived lunch with french fries and ketchup with her dress intact.
  The next day was Sunday, Mother's Day and there was supposed to be a May crowning of Mary right after mass.  First Holy Communion kids were invited to come back in their outfits and participate in the procession.  It was also my mother's birthday so we were double whammied.  I was able to come up with a few small gifts for mom and after mass we went to breakfast at a local diner.  It was nice and low key.  It was after we returned home and mom left that I thought maybe I would get a Mother's Day.  Fat chance.
  The very creature that made me a mother in the first place wanted nothing to do with me and pitched an oscar winning hissy fit.  She complained loudly that no one was available to play and why was there no holiday devoted to kids??!!  As we say at our house A plus for hutzpah.
 It was at this point that mommy was fed up.  I had already been stressed out due to someone's behavior that week to begin with.  This was just the cherry on top of the crap sundae.
 Daddy, who is usually oblivious, came to the rescue.  He sent me upstairs for a nap while he dealt with princess hemorrhoid.  After my rest I was even able to go out to a local music store and shop.  What made that fun for me was boxes and boxes of cds of every conceivable type and they were all $1 each!  I almost closed the place.  In the meantime, my spouse did laundry and hung it outside, made sure I had flowers and a few gifts to open and even made dinner.  He destroyed my kitchen but he made dinner and it was obvious he was trying hard.
  Frankenbunny, on the other hand, wasn't done yet.  After the evening's bath, her majesty refused to get out of the bathtub and dry herself.  Mommy lost it.  I picked her up and threw her naked, wet miserable butt in her room and closed the door.  Happy fucking Mother's Day to me.  I think it was Roseann Barr who said this was why some animals eat their young.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

peeps hangover

   Forgetting for a minute that I still can’t believe Easter has come and gone, I’d like to focus on next Easter.  Like the day after Valentine’s Day when candy is half price, you would think I’d be happy to see the same thing now.  You’d be wrong, sort of.  Don’t get me wrong, half price or cheaper chocolate is right up there with my dream job as a mattress tester.  The problem is that I am not alone in the holiday spirit.  It did originate with me, though.  I blame our daughter.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Throughout the year, whenever I’m out I always manage to find things for her regardless of what I’m looking for.  Mostly small stuff, books, flip flops, small toy figures, cheap pc games or a necklace or something.  The problem is that after six months that stuff piles up. 
  For me, it piles up to the point of being covered for the next 2 gift giving occasions, easy.  Another issue is the fact that I’m shopping for someone with the attention span of a squirrel.  I try to keep some things practical but sometimes I end up having to reroute things if they get “stale” by the time I’m ready to give them.  We are lucky in that she is an only child and since we are “older” parents we can afford to pick up things as we go. Stashing this stuff does help me save time later because I can “shop at home” when I need a gift.  
   What I’m having trouble handling is the sugar war and the ridiculous amount of toys we get for 1 kid.  We are very lucky that not only can we spoil her but our family spoils her too.  I’m concerned that she’s getting a bit numb to it.  Easter was like Hallomas!  There was a pantload of peeps and other candy and oodles of game creatures among other things.  Mommy’s easter bunny went practical, putting snack combo cups, flip flops, aqua shoes, and plastic trading card pages in her basket.  I also weakened and did put some sugar in there, too.  I succumbed to the jellybeans for a dollar and peeps for 3 for a dollar.  I admit I have cheapness issues that are probably genetic.  
   This was a bad move because we are surrounded by professionals.  There were 2 egg hunts which yielded a stupid amount of tootsie rolls and some other candy.  Then, mom-mom gave our girl a basket with Polish candy and other goodies.  This was followed by a Sunday brunch with 3 more baskets and then another one from our bunny later!  Next year, I think our bunny is going to have some hard times and leave a much smaller basket.  I would like to think she wouldn’t notice the difference but that little stinker never ceases to surprise me.  Easter Monday she had the gaul to ask if she got her treat from her behavior chart for the week!  I realize I gave birth to a girl but this kid has a pair!! 
   Granted, she is still young and does have her generous points, but the concept of “give till it hurts” is way not on this kid’s radar.  We can give away duplicates of things with no problem.  I guess you have to start somewhere.  I’ve introduced the concept of selling things we’re no longer using, too.  (See previous article on toys emitting distress signals before a yard sale.) Once again, I’m trying to relate to a seven year old with a grown up brain.  Still, I do want her to start appreciating things and not expect too much.   

   I don’t have any control over what other family members do, especially mom-mom.  A friend had a great suggestion though.  The next time we get a ridiculous amount of candy I could have our little sugar fiend select some to enjoy now and some to put away for later.  Toys, for the most part, still need to disappear by stealth.  I still plan to keep trying to keep things down to a dull roar.  When we go out and she turns into “Captain Iwant” I usually tell her “We have a small house, I don’t have the room for too much stuff.  Can you think of something you’re done with that we could give away or sell? “  Miraculously, I often get a blank stare. God help us if we move.    
  I think someone may have actually been checking me out the other day as I was walking to get my daughter from school.  I had lost some weight lately.  Either that or my fly was open.  Not sure which.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

When I grow up...

   Tempus Fugit sucks.  
   There is an old saying that goes it is now how old you are, it is how you are old.  It’s not being in my forties that’s the problem.  After all, my father once said, ‘It could be worse, you could have a kid your age.’.  It’s this desparate need I have to savor every moment, since, as I learned the hard way, you may not have as much time on this earth as you think you do.  The hardest thing I wrestle with is the now.  Perhaps I’m fighting ingrained, grown up habits.  Odd, since I live with the perfect teacher.
   My three year old wakes up every day happy and looking for fun.  Mommy wakes up most mornings praying for coffee and wondering how am I going to keep her occupied all day.  What the hell’s wrong with me?  Bored? How dare you?  Since when was life something to get through?  If that’s the case, I’m doing something wrong.  
   While there are places to go and things to clean, there are also horsies out the car window.  There are dragon shaped clouds, sand in your toes, and - dare I say it - occasional ice cream before dinner!  Look mommy, look!
   She is friendly and outgoing like her father.  While I have lived like a hamster in my home for seven years, not knowing many of our neighbors, my daughter will say hi to just about any grownup with two ears - and most dogs.  She will immediately tell them a terribly important story in which they have no idea what the hell she’s talking about.  You will never see grownups doing this.  My husband is one, but Dave’s english is fine and mostly logical. 
   Exhausting and beautiful, our girl is an education and a gift.  She wants to feel and taste and see and smell and question everything.  She will also be teaching me patience for the rest of my life.   Sometimes, I am jealous at her simplicity.  If she gets hot, she just gets naked, problem solved.  Mommy will never again feel that free but I’m ok with that one - really ok.  

   Still, I don’t want her to be like me.  She is my second shot at learning how to enjoy, even the boring parts.  I’m pretty sure that when I grow up, I want to be three.