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.