Thursday, February 23, 2012

Less Grease HAPPY, or Remember Sunny Days When It Is Grey Inside and Out

It's been one of those days. Day 1 of a 4 day long weekend, and the kids have been arguing all yelling all day. OK, not the entire day, as I'm pretty sure that they were very well behaved while playing at their friends' house. They did start-up again as they were getting out of the car when dropped back at home about an hour ago, couldn't even wait until they were completely out of the vehicle.

Michigan can be very depressing in February. We've been lucky this year in terms of warmer weather (that is a relative term by the way), but when there isn't snow to brighten things up everything seems to be shades of grey and brown. Guess it can make more people in this house cranky than just myself.

I put them in front of the tv~ I know, I know... ~ and started going through those kajillions of photos I have on my computer to attempt to organize or burn to disks or something.  I ran across the 1,204 (not an exaggeration) photos that I took on a European cruise last summer. My husbands parents very generously took all the kids, spouses, and grandkids on the 10 day trip.  Anyway, I slowly went through the ones taken on the best morning of all of last year. I was in Venice, Italy on a perfectly beautiful day in June, ALONE.  I know!! All alone with my camera.

My husband and kids wanted to hang out on the ship, as there were only 4 free hours before the ship left the port, and jet-lag had hit the children big time.  All four of us had spent the previous afternoon and evening exploring Venice together, so believe me, I didn't feel guilty at all.  (Everytime I get irritated at my husband I need to remind myself that it was his idea for me to go alone.)

OK, so I walked from the ship and just started wandering.  I have spent alot of time overseas both as a visitor and a resident, so I am not afraid of exploring.  I was on a quest for some real Italian coffee, so I found a bar/coffee shop and sat outside.  Wish I'd taken a pic of the coffee- it was the best coffee of the entire summer.  The coffee shop was in a piazza and there was lots to look at.  Great people watching, and there was a small fish market.  I am allergic to seafood, but I can still appreciate the smell of fresh fish.

As I was sitting there a group of men came by who looked to be just getting off of work, at 9:45 or so in the morning.  This next picture is my absolute favorite of the entire trip.  I had just gone inside to pay my tab, and one of the men in that group came in.  He was laughing and very outgoing, and he was greeted by name by the bartender and a number of other people inside.  The bartender took out what looked like a large wine glass and started by pouring some champagne. Then he added a splash of at least 2 or 3 colorful liquors, gently swirled it, and handed it to the man.  By this time I was just outside the door and pretending to not be paying attention, as I had decided to sneak some candids of the people inside. This was the first photo that I took and I just love it.

I continued to walk around just taking photos and enjoying the weather and being by myself.  It was such a peaceful feeling, one that I need to try to achieve more often, even when surrounded by bickering children and grey skies.  I feel like I just rush and rush all the time and have a hard time being in the moment, and I know that I am not alone in that.

I did get a little lost when I started back to the ship, but while I started feeling a bit anxious about the ship leaving without me, a part of me started fantasizing about it.

This wrapper was lying in my path as I neared the ship, and I thought that a picture of that would be a great end to the morning.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day Aftermath

Thank god for insurance.  Yesterday morning I was awoken by my husband, who was in a panic. I thought for sure that the house was on fire, as he knows after 13 years (14? I forgot) that if it is still dark outside that something had better be seriously wrong. 
"There's flooding in the powder-room that is running into the kitchen and going through the floor to your studio." Yeah, that got me out of bed pretty quickly.

The toilet had overflowed (clean water, or at least as clean as toilet water can be) all night in the little bathroom behind the kitchen and water was everywhere- powder-room, mudroom, about a third of the kitchen, then through the wood floor and through the ceiling below into my studio.  Needless to say, I ran right down into my studio to see how bad it was.  Luckily for me, the water was running down into a place where I did not keep any fabric or trims or anything like that. There was a giant puddle, but nothing important got wet.

Then we went upstairs. Yarg...  The wood floor was already buckling in that horrifying mountainous way that pre-finished floors do, as were the wood moldings.  I won't bore you with more details, but for some reason it took my husband a while to find the plunger, but when he did, we found the culprit.

Shiny red candy wrappers.  Hersey Kisses from a school Valentine party.

The kids had had plenty of sugar/junk at those parties, so I told them that they couldn't have anymore for desert, but they would have to wait until lunch the next day.  My 10 year, J, old pouts when he doesn't get his way, but E, the 8 year old, will figure out how to do what she wants, come hell or high water.  Yes, HIGH WATER.  Apparently she (we know who is was because J is not a fan of chocolate, unlike his sister) decided that she couldn't wait until the following day for those kisses.  I suppose it makes sense to a 2nd grader high on chocolate that flushing the evidence is the best thing to do.

My mother once told me that E is payback. Then she laughed.

I give hubby and myself credit for not freaking out at E when she came down for breakfast.  It was worth it to stay calm, as we discovered how compliant she can be when she feels really guilty.

E did not disolve into a puddle of tears or hyperventilate or anything, it just seemed to finally click that there is a REASON that hubby and I have a few rules.  We explained that the toilet overflowed, what we found with the plunger, and that there was a crazy amount of damage because of something being put in the toilet that didn't belong there.  She sat there for a minute, looked down, then admitted that she snuck chocolate and tried to flush the evidence. She wouldn't make eye contact, but at least she admitted it, even though her natural tendency seems to be to lie at a very high pitch with her eyes all wide.  We just calmly told her that being honest is the most important thing, that it isn't worth it to lie.

 Don't get me wrong, I don't generally want my children to feel crippling guilt, but... ok, in the case of damage that equals the value of a new car I admit that I'll take it. But only for a couple of days. If she isn't up to her old tricks within a couple of days I will start to get nervous.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Women's Networking Groups~ or~ Do Men Do That?!

  I believe in networking, especially with other women. Great to meet other entrepreneurial and creative women, get new ideas, etc, plus it gets me out of my basement studio and out into public. This morning it was a brand new group, first get-together, in the studio of a fun photographer I know. It was a small group, about 10, mostly doing different things as a business from everyone else there.  After about an hour we all sat down together and went around the circle introducing ourselves and explaining what we did, told about ourselves, and then said what we would like to get out of such a group if we were to meet regularly.
  Now, I would like to think that I am an open/generally non-judgemental person. Women need to support women, etc. But, sometimes I just can't be- so sorry.  Sometimes I just want to take someone and shake her. Everyone was very nice and was doing something interesting, but one thing just made me grind me teeth really hard.
  "Hi! I'm _______, and I do _______, but I don't have to do this/don't do it for the money, I just like it. My children come first/I quit working when I had kids and I want to keep busy while they are at school, etc." 
 Aaarrrggghhhh!!!! No!!!! How in the world do you expect anyone to take you seriously as a business person if you don't take YOURSELF seriously?!  Who cares if you are as rich as Bill Gates or don't actually need the money that you are earning, you can't discount the effort/time/expertise that you put into your business.  Do men do this? I sincerely doubt it. They wouldn't say that, they'd exaggerate about how well they are doing. I'm not saying that we need to exaggerate, but if you are not confident about yourself in what you are doing, forget it. No one else will be either.
  We all want to put our kids first, give them our best, and all the rest. Honestly, that should just be a given. Why do we have to say that all the time?  If your best is quitting your job and being with them all day when they are little and being there when they get home every day, good for you. If your best is working outside the house and not being there sometimes when they get home from school, good for you. If you work from home so you can work and still be there, good for you. I just hate that there is so much guilt involved no matter what we choose. I certainly feel my share of guilt for working almost constantly, even if it is while I am at home most of the time.  Personally, I think that most of that guilt is self-inflicted and we just need to get rid of it. I know, easier said than done, but why do so many women feel that they need to make sure that they say that while they are pursuing what is important to them outside of their families, that they really put their kids first.  It should be a given that what you do, or what I do, is because we do put our families first, we just don't do it all the same way, and we should feel good about figuring out what it is, not badly because we aren't doing the way that _____ is doing it. She probably isn't feeling too confident herself anyway.
 Yes, this is a huge pet-peeve of mine. Please feel proud of what you do and however you do it, as long as it works for you and your family. That is what counts.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

When Is It Absolutely Neccesary To Take Down The Xmas Trees?

 I love putting up the tree. I dread taking it down. Everyone is so excited to help putting all the ornaments on, etc. No one seems to be available to help with the dismantling and putting away.

How long till I stop noticing it?

I was very relieved tonight on my final dogwalk of the day to see a few trees still up with the lights on.  I'll worry about when I don't see any. Or it's Saint Patrick's Day.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I HATE Homework

I am not naturally a very calm person. Having a lot of energy and moving/thinking a hundred miles an hour has served me well in many areas of my life. Mothering, not so much.  Especially at homework time.  Amazing how children can focus so seriously on tv, yet become so distracted while doing math homework that it is like having a circus with a candy-gifting clown in the kitchen with us when it is time for subtraction.
Last night I was so calm when the whining began. I ignored it and spoke softly. I was the perfect mother, who if filmed had the soft filter and gentle smile.  2nd grade math took almost an hour, but we all came through to the other side happy.

Tonight I was like a completely different person.  I admit that I am tired and have a bad cold, but I still need to be that caring, nurturing, calm and perfect mom. Right?  RIGHT?! Aagghh!! (head spins around, Exorcist-style)

What is it about homework that turns my children into whining messes who just about bang their heads on the table and throw themselves on the floor instead of actually figuring out what 6-4= is?  What is it that makes me grit my teeth because I feel like screaming? (Why do children spend more time whining and complaining about something than it would actually take them to do it?)

Know why I hate homework? It's because it is done at the end of the day when everyone is tired and ready to turn his/her brain off for a while.  E gets off the bus at 4:30 and goes to bed at 8:00. She deserves to play and decompress after being in school for 7 hours. She needs to have a family dinner. She needs to have a bath with her toys. She needs her favorite bedtime story and a quiet snuggle.  She's 7.  I think that it is alot to expect a 2nd grader to do 2 pages of math, read to me or herself for 20-30 minutes a day, and do some page relating to spelling each and every day, plus use a math-game website for at least 20 minutes a day. She is tired. She is not an overscheduled child who plays 14 sports and is tutored 17 times a week, she is just average.

She just hits a wall, just like an adult does.  People may suggest that she do her homework as soon as she gets home from school, but I just can't do it.  We are in Michigan, so this time of year it gets dark so early, plus we eat dinner at about 5:30 or 6:00.  I need to take a break after a long day of work, so why shouldn't my children? I don't want them to be coddled, God knows I probably don't baby them enough, but I really do resent all the homework.  I think that it is unneccesary and just pushes too hard.

I want my children to be well educated and prepared for life, but what happened to being children for as long as possible?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Started Running Again. Sort of.

  Ok, so per the Blogher 365 Day blogging challenge I am blogging every day in 2012.  Today I went and got Vitamin D and Vitamin K at Whole Foods. I also started running again. Should have taken the vitamins AFTER running.  Just saying.
  Tomorrow I will rant and rave about why it is ok that I am embarressed about my son (10) and husband (46) watching WWE together, yet it is so ok that I watch "Real Housewives About Beverly Hills" like a religion and see no irony/conflict in those 2 statements.

3 min run/2 min walk x 6. Nausea that I blame on the vitamins and cold. (But don't really belive it, even it is Michigan.)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Proof I Really Need to Be Just Running Running

I had my third bone-density test in 9 years today. Wow, not good. I'm only 44, but I had a hysterectomy 9 years ago, and my bones are paying the price.  I have barely run or exercized in the past year, and even though I eat well and take good care of myself I have osteoporosis in my hips and spine. Seriously?!

Yes, I have been taking estrogen, but a low dose because of all the fuss about HRT.  I should have done more research and taken a higher dosage, but I was afraid.  It's really overwhelming when you start reading/asking questions.  OK, time to do something about it, not just feel badly.

I am having anxiety about this, but of course anxiety is apparently bad for your bones, too.  I would go sit out the sun for the vitamin k, but I live in Michigan, where it seems that the sun is useless for that except between April and September.  Plus, it's 18 degrees out right now...

Time to get my butt back on the treadmill if it's too cold or icy and use those handweights sitting next to it.  I've never really worried about my weight, lucky that way, so I just exercised when I felt like it.

OK, guess I should use my reserved spot in the New York Marathon (enter the lottery for a spot for 3 years in a row and you're automatically in when the 4th year rolls around) and start training.  Sigh. I do love to run and feel so good when I do it regularly- need to remember that.  Time to get excited about training again and not obsess about having worse bones than my 70 year old mother...

How are YOUR bones?

Monday, January 2, 2012

An Old Sewing Machine

   My grandmother died on December 22, the other week, just 2 days before my 44th birthday.  It was not a huge surprise, she'd been put in hospice care the previous week and was 95, but it just broke my heart.  She was my last surviving grandparent, I lived with her for a while, and I credit all of my talents to her and her sisters.  I volunteered to write something for her memorial service this coming Saturday, but I just don't know where to start.  She taught me to sew, what I do pretty much every day and for my own business, not to mention my sanity, and she is probably the reason I love pink so much.  When she first sold her house and moved into assisted living I made it a point to wear pink every day for a really long time.  It was her favorite color, especially in flowers.
  I remember the feel of the velvet of the couch in her living room in Texas.  I remember the blades of grass in her backyard, almost double, and I can't remember the name of it.
  There was a pull-up bar on one of the big trees back there that my grandfather used. It was grown into the tree.
  When my grandparents celebrated their 50th anniversary with a party at their church I wore her wedding dress, that she made.  It is white and has tiny buttons all the way down the front and a little train.  She was taller than I am, so the waist is at least an inch lower than it should be.  I have that dress in a closet upstairs, and the original pattern is in my studio downstairs.
  The room that used to be my mom's and my aunt's had really soft blankets and sheets with really big butterflies and little dressing tables built into the wall.  My parents used to sleep in there when we all visited, but when my brother and I lived with them for a while it was my room.  It was right next to the pink-tiled bathroom that had these little houses that they brought back from vacations in Bermuda.  I thought that it was so exotic that they'd go on vacation and have to fly through the Bermuda Triangle to get where they were going.  Those little houses had pink roofs.  The room with the butterfly blankets had a table with one of those pop-up sewing machines.  My grandmom taught me to sew on that.  It was green.  She was an amazing quilter, actually did most of her sewing by hand, but we made a beautiful white eyelet dress for a junior high dance on that machine. It had pink ribbon woven through it and Brooke Shields was the model for the pattern photo.  I thought I would deep the dress forever, but it must have gotten lost during one of my many moves through all those years.
  Today my aunt, my mom's sister, emailed me to tell me that my grandmother's next door neighbor in Texas bought her old sewing machine, the one she taught me to sew on, because she "didn't want it to be sold to a stranger."  She had a new one and never used it, but she bought it anyway. She still has it and will be on it's way to me later this week.  I don't care if it's hokey sounding, but that makes me happier and calmer than I can put into words.  Maybe I'll just write about sewing.  The minister will have to read it thought, because I am pretty much known as a big cryer.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Phasing Out the Crazy

   Happy New Year! I am not a big one for New Year's resolutions, but I do believe in it being a good time to take stock and remind myself of what is working and what is not in my life and if I am truely living it the way that I want to live.   One thing that I have gotten myself sucked into during the past year is a bunch of craziness and drama.  I take responsibility for that, as I have not put my foot down or refused to get involved, but honestly, sometimes I just do not know how.  I do not want to hurt anyone's feelings, I want to be supportive, or I just do not want to make waves.  I admit, I can be a bitch at times, but when confronted with a friend or family member's constant drama I just do not know what to do.  It is easy to tell someone else to just draw the line or refuse to engage, but it is much harder to actually do yourself.
   There is a person in my life who has a reoccurring issue with prescription drugs.  She is not a close friend or immediate family member, but being married to an extended family member means that I do see her fairly regularly.  When she is not too stoned to show-up at family functions, of course, though she does arrive slurring and babbling,when she does come.  It has gotten to where no one is ignoring it anymore, which took a ridiculously long time (years and years), but now that it is pretty much out in the open she has decided that I am the one that she wants to confide in.
  By confide, I mean calling/texting me multiple times a day but never being available when it I am able to talk.  Or trying to pull me aside at family get-togethers to talk. By talk, I mean make excuses and blame everyone but herself.  I honestly do not know how to handle it.  A few years ago I stepped in and insisted that she get help, and it backfired.  No one else said a word, and I ended-up being the bad guy.  That's ok, it's about trying to get her help, not about me, but I just do not want to do that again.
   I am just afraid to tell her that while she says that she is going to meetings, etc, she still needs to not make excuses and blame her doctors, her pain, etc, for her abuse of drugs.  I want to tell her that she needs to talk to a shrink, not her sister-in-law, that it is just too uncomfortable of a situation.  I feel badly for her because she seems to have no one. Her mother won't deal with it, her husband is at the end of his rope, and she seems to have driven all of her friends away. It is exhausting and draining.
   I know that this afternoon she will try to take me away from the get-together and cry about how no one is supporting her and how her doctors are to blame, etc, and I will be a deer in headlights.  I need to tell her that I called her yesterday exactly when she told me would be a good time, that she didn't answer or call me back, and that this is not an apropriate time to talk.  I need to tell her that I want to be supportive but I am not comfortable being her confidant because of our husbands being brothers. I need to tell her that I am proud of her for attending meetings and encourage her to see a therapist.  I know that she will get upset, and I just have a hard time with that. I don't want her to feel alone, but I cannot be the one responsible for her. I just can't do it.