Friday, December 30, 2011

Yes or one

Last night I took my 9 yr old daughter and her friend to Roll On America for some good old-fashioned roller skating fun.  On the way, I listened to them talk.  "If L. is there, are you going to ask him to skate?"  "Ya."  "I'll give you $2 to ask him to skate."  "I don't have $2."  "$1?"  This continued until the rate became a quarter.  I had to giggle, remembering my own visits to the roller skating rink.

Will so-and-so be there?   Will he ask me to skate?  Should I ask him to skate when it's Ladies' Choice?  Will he hold my hand if we skate together?  I remembered being at the rink with my friends, all dressed in our tight Jordache jeans, scanning the crowd for our Ladies' Choice victims. And as soon as the beginning sounds of Total Eclipse of the Heart started playing, and the DJ announced, "Ladies' Choice", we would skate over to our choice and shyly (not really) ask, "Want to skate?"

Then I started sharing with the girls how we used to communicate in the past before texting and emailing took over the world to a time way back when you didn't call a boy after 9 PM because when you were calling him, you were calling his home phone, and you didn't dare wake his parents. You also had to be careful when leaving messages on the answering machine, because the answering machine was one that was played by hitting a "play" button, with your message sounding aloud for all in the near vicinity to hear.  There was no texting; you had to actually speak to say what you wanted.  You had to actually dial the phone number and ask to speak with the "boy of your dreams". And most times you had to ask this of one of his parents.

Then I asked if girls and boys still write notes to which they giggled and never answered. I assume that is a "yes".  I explained how our notes were quite simple:  Do you like me?  Yes or No (circle one).  My daughter responded, "What if the answer was maybe or a little?"  I said there wasn't a choice for that, it was yes or no.  She said I was kind of bossy for giving them directions like circle one. What can I say, honey?  Sometimes the boys Mommy liked needed it spelled out for them.  Her friend asked if the boys always circled yes, and I had to honestly answer no.  I told them of a time when I stepped up my game a little, and the note you see here had further instructions, such as "Leave the answer by the pencil sharpener."  So I passed the note and waited and waited.  Finally, the "boy of my dreams" went to sharpen his pencil, and when he left, I saw that he had left my triangular-folded note behind.  So I tried to suppress a smile and my excitement as I went to sharpen my own pencil and retrieve the note.  I was giddy as I raced back to my seat and slowly unfolded the note, only to read "Get off my case toilet face." Clearly this boy didn't realize he was supposed to ONLY circle yes or no, and a "no" would have sufficed because clearly I am still bitter over his response.

So L. wasn't there at roller skating, and there was no couples skate or Ladies' Choice, and no one owed anyone any money for their courage.  And there was no Total Eclipse of the Heart and no Thriller video played on the big screen and so...I didn't see the need to rent skates for myself.  Until....I saw the girls of Roller Derby practicing after our session, but that's a whole other blog.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Resolutions

Is it already the end of another year?  I feel like I'm still coming down from the Christmas holiday.  And now, as we approach 2012, comes the talk of New Year's resolutions.  I am one who does make resolutions with the best intentions and follows them faithfully...for about a couple of weeks.  I am one of those people who irritate a friend of mine, who writes on Facebook, that he can't stand those who make resolutions to exercise more and clog the gym, holding up faithful, daily gym fanatics like himself, while he now has to wait to bond with his precious Elliptical or Treadmill for the fatty in front of him to tire of their resolution and go out for a snack (paraphrased, but that was the gist of it).  Ya, I'm that fatty.

So I try not to tell anyone of my resolutions. I can vividly remember telling my children years ago when they were about 5 and 7 that I was going to go on a diet to which they both burst out crying. I couldn't figure out why they were crying at that announcement, and I wasn't, so I asked them to which one responded with "We like you just the way you are," and the other responded, "Ya, we like you fat."  As they got older, I asked them to be my willpower, and asked them to remind me in a loud voice, when I reached for something I shouldn't be eating, "You're on a diet Fatty, you can't have that."  That was all well and good while we were home, but I neglected to tell them that on the rare occurrence that we went out to eat, and I tried to eat something unhealthy, they shouldn't yell those same words to me, because not everyone understands that I told them to say that to me.

Why is it that I feel that I need a harsh kick in the pants, or harsh words or a rude awakening to chase me to the gym and the fruits and vegetables section of the market? Why do I immediately wonder who is out to get me when I get Free Registration mailings from Weight Watchers? Who reported me?  Who knows I am so cheap that the word "Free" might actually get me there?

I guess I've always loved food. I love to cook, I love to bake, and I love to eat.  I don't always eat bad, and to be honest, my favorite meal is a well-balanced one with a meat, a starch and a vegetable.  And, of course, if it's followed up by something with chocolate in it, I'm not complaining.  I've tried Weight Watchers, I know how it works, and I do try to follow it in my eating habits.  I don't count points, but I have a general idea of what each food's point value is. I know that a sandwich on light whole wheat bread with one piece of ham and one piece of cheese is about 6 points. Add 15 Baked potato chips for an extra 2 points, and to get the most of your 2 points, pick the largest 15 chips out of the bag - say no to crumbs, I always say.  I know that vegetables for the most part are 0 points, and fruits for the most part are 1 point each.  I know that a  BLT on light wheat isn't bad, and neither is a taco.  But I also know that a sundae will consume all of my points for the day and so when I have one, I should eat a dry salad for every other meal that day.

So, this year, I'm resolving to become healthier...healthier in my eating and exercising and healthier in my relationships with others.  I'm NOT resolving to go to the gym 3 days a week, or to lose 25 lbs. in 6 months or to be the best mother and wife and friend and daughter and sister ever.  But I will try to eat better, exercise more (which shouldn't be too hard considering I don't exercise at all now), and be a nicer person. I will try to enhance my relationships and disenhance (is that a word?) my waistline.

Good luck with your resolutions and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Rage

Obsessive-compulsive, perfectionist, anal-retentive, all things I have been called. I acknowledge it, I know it, I own it, and I have no intention of doing anything about it other than to try really hard not to inflict my personal issues on anyone else around me.  And all that was diagnosed without sitting on someone else's couch, but admitting while sitting on my own couch... for free.

My friend and I have a term we use for the period of time before birthday parties, vacation and Christmas. We call it rage, meaning "too much to do in too little time".  Party rage and vacation rage end once the shopping, cleaning and party end, usually within a few days, but Christmas rage lasts the longest.
Christmas rage, for me, begins the week of Thanksgiving when I begin to ask the kids for their Christmas lists in preparation for Black Friday shopping.  Thanksgiving Day finds me surrounded by flyers, paper, a pen and their lists trying to find the best deals.  Then after we come home from dinners with family, I tuck the kids into bed and head for the stores, armed with my lists, checkbook and Diet Cokes.  The following day is spent getting a little sleep and then checking the internet for the items that I was unsuccessful in getting the night before.

Then there is a couple of days reprieve before Cyber Monday deals.  Then comes the beginning of December when, I swear, new commercials and toys come out and get added to the kids' lists as "must have items".  So back to the drawing board of trying to find deals in stores and online, coupons and online codes for percentages off and free shipping. 

Then I start with my own that must be done before the holiday, baking, recipes, etc.  And for some reason, I have started to add more to my rage.  Instead of making the 3 kinds of Christmas cookies my Mom always made, I have added another kind as well as pecan bars, Rice Krispy treats and 2 kinds of fudge.  Instead of going to visit family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, I have decided to host my immediate family of almost 30 on Christmas Eve which brings on a whole other list of festive appetizers and desserts to try out on them. 

And Christmas shopping brings out a whole other rage...parking and driving rage.  People cut you off when you're driving, they turn in front of you when you're walking, they steal parking places, and sometimes they're just plain mean and make you really feel like decking their halls, if you catch my drift. my family and friends, if I seem a little stressed or smile a little less, it is a day of Christmas Rage, please don't take it personally for it shall soon pass.  Oh yeah, and be prepared to duck, in case it's a particularly bad day, and a cookie sheet flies through the air like a frisbee at the beach, or a ball of wrapping paper cut too short to wrap a gift gets thrown across the room.  I promise, I really do try to control it LOL.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Bring On the Baby!

My sister Terry is in labor right now getting ready to deliver her second child and my new niece Giana.  I can't wait.  For those of you who know me, really know me, you know how much I love babies.  I love to hold them, cuddle them, feed them, bathe them, rock them to sleep, smell them, there isn't much I don't like about them.  Whenever I "borrow" my nieces and nephews, I return them to their mothers with apologies for rocking them to sleep and holding them for most of the time we were together with hopes that I didn't destroy whatever patterns they were trying to create, whether it be by laying them in their cribs to sleep or getting them used to not being held all the time. 

My babies are 19, 11 and 9, and they no longer like to be held and rocked.  They also no longer like me to pick out their clothes or smell them, and to be honest, they no longer smell like baby powder and Johnson's baby shampoo.  They do, however, still allow me to feed them and hug them.  I can still vividly remember the details of each of their births, the two times they sent me home from the hospital when I was in labor with Jake because things just weren't happening quick enough, the frustration I felt as I left and labored at home and on the 5 mile walk I took that day, and the satisfaction I felt when I finally went back the same day and they kept me, and then the incredible joy as I became a mother for the first time.  I remember when I was induced with Nathan, going in one night and not having him until lunchtime 2 days later.  I also remember not eating or sleeping that entire time, and being really slap-happy due to lack of sleep and exhaustion.  I remember feeling that each method they used to induce me was going to "do the trick" and being disappointed when it didn't.  I also remember 8 year old Jake saying at the time that he wouldn't want to come out either to just have formula and bottles when he could stay inside and get pizza and sundaes.  I remember when Allie was born, waking up at 1 AM and feeling contractions, timing them and wondering if it was the real thing, calling the on-call doctor and being told that since I had just been in the office 2 days earlier and nothing was going on then that I could probably just wait until the morning. I remember an hour later waking up the boys and telling them it was time to go to Grandma's because Mom and Dad were going to the hospital.  I also remember a normally 50 minute ride to my mom's taking only 30 minutes while the contractions intensified and I held onto the handle at the top of my door in the car, trying to deal with the pain without scaring the kids, while Brian drove faster and faster and treated red lights like stop signs.  I remember him dropping me off at the hospital before bringing the kids to my mom's and then his surprise when he got to the hospital 15 minutes later and they hadn't given me a room yet.  And then I remember delivering our little girl only a couple of hours later, and how easy that delivery was compared to those of her brothers. 

More than anything, I remember how happy I was to be pregnant with each of them, how much I enjoyed my nausea-free and calorie-filled pregnancies, how every night following my due date I would go to bed wondering if that was to be the night I'd go into labor and waking each morning angry and frustrated that I was still pregnant.  I remember the thrill of washing and folding the little clothes, preparing for their arrival, and then seeing their precious faces and holding them tight. I remember the nurses coming into my room at 11 PM and asking if they could take the babies to the nursery so I could sleep, and my answering each time, "No, just a little longer, and I'll bring him/her in to you" and then holding them close for a little longer.

I remember sharing my maternity clothes with my sisters as they became pregnant.  I always felt a tug at my heartstrings passing those clothes off, and even though I don't plan on having any more children, I always ask for the clothes back, just to have them.  And each time I pass along my baby clothes to them for their babies, I have to take them out of the bins and unfold them and refold them, and a tear or two always fall.

And tonight I'm a little envious of my sister, envious of the joy that she will soon feel as she sees her new baby's face for the first time, holds her, cuddles her, smells her and kisses her, and I can't wait to get my hands on her tomorrow!  My gift bags are ready to go, and I've cleared an hour out of our busy schedule tomorrow.  Yes, Auntie is ready to hold a baby again.  Let's hope she smells good.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas Lists

Every year, a few days before Thanksgiving, I ask my children for their Christmas lists. Over the years these lists sure have changed.  Some days I long for the lists that contained items like Puzzles, Power Rangers, Candy Land, candy.  Those were the lists I could complete with $100 and two hours of wrapping, leaving 20 presents under the tree.

This year, I am looking for Monster High dolls, which can only be described as Gothic Barbies, Godzilla figures, color refills for a hair-streaking machine, video games, expensive sneakers and coats, both brand-name items that both begin with the letter "N", and I wish I could pencil in my own "N" next to them on the list.

Yes, gone are the 20 items for $100 per person.  Gone are the little ones in their feetie pj's with their sleepy eyes, gone are the hours of assembling toys after they've been ripped open, gone are the Lego's, the coloring books, the crayons.  Here are the younger two in their pj's with their excited faces, bursting with anxiety for the big one, still sporting the sleepy eye look, in his pj bottoms or sweats to wake up and join them under the tree.   Here are the $60 video games, the $80 sneakers, the $20 Barbies with their ripped fishnets and boldly-colored miniskirts and scuffed black combat boots, the Godzilla toys and movies.  Gone are the little red velvet dress and sweater vests and khakis.  Here are the jeans and graphic tees.  Gone are the ponytails, here are the feathers and streaks in her hair.

But as they come over and hug me and kiss me, thanking me for their gifts, I will be the thankful one. Thankful that I had the Lego and Candy Land years, thankful that I got to dress them up for a little while, thankful that even though they don't have the little faces anymore, they still hug and kiss me and tell me they love me, and that is a gift that bears no price tag.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

When does Teasing become Bullying?

Kids have had conflicts and arguments for as long as they have had opinions.  Even on that wholesome show, Little House on the Prairie, you would occasionally see children "go at it" on the playground, and sometimes even 2 girls.  Those were the good old days when the fight was between 2 people, and there were no weapons, and no one else jumped in, and a teacher or other adult would break up the fight.  Nowadays, there is no guarantee of a fair fight.  

When I was a pre-teen and an early teen, I was sometimes teased for not being as blessed in the bosom as some of the other girls in my class.  Boys called me Great Plains because of the flat lands there.  I know, stupid and not very creative nickname, right?  Did it bother me? Of course it did.  But my personality wouldn't allow me to hide and cry so instead I would come up with clever nicknames for my tormentors, make faces, and in extreme situations, stuff my size AA bra.  

Massachusetts General Laws define bullying in schools as "the repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a victim that: (i) causes physical or emotional harm to the victim or damage to the victim’s property; (ii) places the victim in reasonable fear of harm to himself or of damage to his property; (iii) creates a hostile environment at school for the victim; (iv) infringes on the rights of the victim at school; or (v) materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school. For the purposes of this section, bullying shall include cyber-bullying."

So was my teasing considered bullying?  I don't think so. There is a very fine line now for what used to be considered teasing to now be a criminal offense.  I work for a criminal defense attorney, and can attest to this fact as I read police reports and Facebook pages and text messages all registered as evidence when one person doesn't like another person or has a dispute or argument.  Small things become big things many times, and these big things can leave permanent black marks on one's record, a record that is checked when someone applies for a job, when someone wants to accompany their child on a field trip, when someone wants to coach a youth sport, when someone wants to become a foster parent or adopt a child, just to name a few.

Tonight I am attending calling hours for a 14 year old boy who is rumored to have taken his life as a result of bullying at school.  I don't know whether that is true or not, and I don't want to speculate.  However, some of his grieving friends seem to believe that to be true as is evidenced on his Facebook page, and perhaps through their hurt and emotional words and musings, they too are hurting more than we know.  Are some of them being teased?  Are some of them being bullied?  What can be done to prevent another young child from feeling that his or her life is so bad that he or she just doesn't want to do it anymore?  Is a child who cries "bullying" overly sensitive?  Is it just teasing?  No matter the question, the answer is clear:  No one should be made to feel that their life is worth so little that they wouldn't be missed if they were gone.  And there are so many people who are missing this boy, remembering good times shared and expressing their sorrow, and my heart breaks not only for this boy but for those he left behind.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It Wasn't Me

The office I work in is one of many small offices on a large floor of a large building, and all of us lovely ladies share the same public restroom.  The restroom door is locked, and only the tenants have a key which was a real shame for someone a few months ago, who, I imagine, raced to the bathroom one day, but couldn't get in because they did not have a key, and therefore they conducted their business right outside the locked door.  Another time, I'm told, someone walked into the bathroom to discover a man and a woman, not dressed in "professional attire", at the sinks, not washing their hands.  And it's also not unheard of to be in the stall and have another person standing outside your door talking to you.

So I'm always grateful when I unlock the door and all 5 stalls are empty, and I can feel as if I am in a private bathroom as opposed to a public one.  Today, however, my joy was short-lived as I opened the door to an empty bathroom, void of people but not smell.  I decided to be quick, and entered Stall #2.  A few seconds later the door opened, and someone entered Stall #1 but not without first muttering "Disgusting" which I'm sure was said as soon as they breathed through their nose.  I fought the urge to shout out, "It wasn't me. It smelled like that when I got in here too" but decided to just be quiet and get out of there before they did.  I succeeded in getting as far as the sinks before the door opened, and another person walked in.  This person sniffed and looked at me with an almost accusing look.  Again, I fought the urge to defend myself as not being the perpetrator of the smell.  I continued to wash my hands, and as I hurried to the door, I turned back and said, "It smelled like that when I got here too."  Then I went to the door, thrilled to escape the smell, the feeling that germs abounded, and to get back to my clean desk and office, only to touch a wet door handle. ARRGGHH!!!!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

When I'm a Mom...

Today, it happened.  My own words from years ago were said to me: "When I'm a Mom, I'm going to let my kids..."  This isn't the first time I have had flashbacks from my childhood, or more accurately, my teen years.  But my daughter's only nine!  Her words had me thinking, "Was I being unreasonable?  Should I change my mind?  And who is this little person standing in front of me with her hands on her hips looking just as I had many times before when standing in front of my mother?"

This eye-opening experience made me smile but also made me think of some of those "unreasonable" rules that I had as a child.  I was the oldest of 8 with my youngest sibling being 16 years younger than me so, yes, for a little while, we all lived at home.  Because there were so many of us, we got to split the chores.  These chores included dusting, setting the table for dinner, clearing the table after dinner and washing dishes.  And when the chores were divided, I had to either set, clear or wash probably 2-3 times a week, and the dusting meant that I had to dust 3 items each Saturday.  The other chores we had were to vacuum our room once a week and to put away our clothes after they were washed, dried and folded for us.  I know, how unreasonable!

Another "unreasonable" rule came when we started working. We had to put half of our paycheck into our savings account at the bank each week.  This still left us plenty of spending money for the week, mind you, but when you're a teenager, every dollar should be spent every week, and it should be your choice on how it is spent.  I know this last part to be true because it has been brought to my attention by another of my children.

And can you believe that every Sunday, following a wonderful Sunday mid-day feast, we all had to go take a nap, and if we couldn't sleep, we had to at least lie down and rest for an hour and a half.  The nerve of them, right?!?

Finally, let's face it, when you are a pre-teen or a teen (or nine years old), friends are very important.  Growing up, we were allowed to do something with a friend once a week and to have a sleepover (either at our house or the friend's) once a month. I am sure this had something to do with the fact that there were 8 of us, and it could get quite chaotic if we all chose to do something on the same day, or have a friend sleep over on the same night, but this rule did seem to be socially impairing at the time.

I can remember saying many times, whether aloud, or as I stormed to my room to blast my Guns 'n Roses cassette, which meant I was really mad, "When I'm a Mom, I'm not going to..." or "When I'm a Mom, I'm going to let my kids..."  Well, today that was said to me as my daughter went to her 2nd sleepover OF THE WEEKEND, and promised me that she wouldn't come home with an attitude from too little sleep and that I should let her go because she promised her friend she would, and I tried to remember how I felt as I sat in my room with a puss on my face, with "Welcome to the Jungle" blaring from the speakers, and I let her go. 

And while I'm thinking on the rules of my own youth, I'd like to bring back Sunday naps, I'd like to be able to put only half of my paycheck into the bank each week, I'd like to see my friends weekly, and do a monthly sleepover just to laugh and catch up, I'd love to only have to dust 3 things, and I'd also love to have my once every 8 weeks Saturday AM breakfast with my dad, just me and him, catching up on life.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Life is a Gift

I planned on many topics for my first blog, and it was supposed to be happy and funny, but as my blog is titled "This is Me", today I am sad.

This morning on my way to work, I got a message from my husband that Route 12 was blocked in town and that there was a detour.  Then I got a text from my sister asking if I knew why Route 12 was blocked.  As so happens when you live in a small town, a detour can cause a traffic jam.  And as also happens when you live in a small town, people start talking.  So the next text said that there had been a fatal car accident, hence the detour.  And as also happens in a small town, your first thought is "I hope it wasn't anyone I know."  And then a half hour later came the news: it was someone I knew.

Today my friend Ashley lost her husband, her two young sons lost their dad, parents lost a son, siblings lost a brother, many lost a friend, a young football team lost their coach of three years, and the town lost a good man.  Bryn was a man's man, an outdoors kind of guy, a big guy who was most comfortable in flannel shirts and jeans, a hard worker.  He was a big guy with a big heart who was most happy when with his family, the kind of guy that looked like a lumberjack but like a big teddy bear when holding one of his sons. 

Bryn left behind a strong wife, a wife who truly enjoyed her husband's company, and who loved him as a husband and a best friend and as a partner in marriage and parenthood.  My heart breaks when I think of what she is going through, the thoughts that must be running through her head and the incredible loss that just doesn't seem real.  I pray for her, I pray for her children, and I pray that she is strong enough to let people help her and to try to make things less difficult for her now and in the future. I hope she takes comfort in the joy that he not only brought to her and her sons' lives, but the joy that they brought to his and the love that was shared by them all.

And, at this time, I am reminded of how precious life is, how nothing is guaranteed, and how sometimes bad things happen with no warning.  Life is a gift, not to be taken for granted, and to be enjoyed each and every day.  So today I will breathe in the crisp fall air, hug my husband when he comes home from work, prolong bedtime a little bit longer for my children and open my arms as wide as I can to take it all in, this gift of life.