Milestones

15 Years

Today is our 15th wedding anniversary. What? 15 years already?!?! But it is true. Fifteen years ago on a similarly unseasonably warm day, I walked down the aisle, almost caught my dress on a pew and gripped Jimmy’s hands so hard that he joked the imprint of his ring would be visible on his bone.

You might think we spent this milestone anniversary having a nice dinner out or doing something special.

We did. Sort of.

First, I picked up takeout hibachi for about the zillionth time this year. Who needs the teppanyaki show when you can get the same food to go without the time commitment?

Then, we had normal nightly chores to do. School papers to sign for Daniel and practice for the next day’s spelling test. Lunches to make and kitty cats to be fed and treated.

Finally came the main task of the evening. We are having AT&T fiber installed tomorrow. Jimmy is very excited about it and we needed to do some wiring before the installer comes out tomorrow.  And I use “we” throughout because I helped (not always graciously).

Our living room is in disarray because we took apart the entertainment center earlier in the week for the fiber installation. Our bonus room is filled with pieces from the entertainment center. The TV is in front of our coffee table. And in the middle of it all is our Christmas tree, begging, hoping to be decorated soon.

Tonight, though, was devoted to wiring. Tonight Jimmy was in the crawl space underneath the house after drilling a hole in the wall to the crawl space. I fed him 50 feet of a bundle of wires with only a tiny bit of discord (we don’t do projects like this well).

It felt like that scene in Poltergeist in which Jo Beth Williams is preparing to go into the other side to get Carol Ann, and the scientists see the rope and tennis balls coming through the ceiling covered in ectoplasm.

As I was feeding the wires to Jimmy, it took all my restraint not to start chanting, “Cross over, children. All are welcome.”

The wiring is ready, and even though the house is still a wreck, we will fix it this weekend. The tree will be decorated.

It may not have been the anniversary night one sees in movies or reads in books, but it was certainly real.

Happy 15th to us. We got shit done.

Another Birthday

Today is my birthday, and I am 39. I’m having complicated feelings about it, the ones many of us have once you reach a certain age and the milestone birthdays aren’t quite as fun because of what they symbolize.

It has been a weird summer, a weird year. The first few months had stress and anxiety due to my husband being out of work, a house project that (predictably) went slightly longer than expected, work anxiety of my own, school decisions for next year, and health concerns.

We hoped that once summer came, coming with the end of the school year, another successful Listen to Your Mother: Raleigh-Durham show, health concerns allayed (although not necessarily improved), three beach trips, school decision made and a major change at my own job, we could exhale and detorque.

Instead, we felt unsettled all summer. I was never able to relax completely at the beach, and the summer flew by. Work stress continued – I have relearned the painful lesson that nature abhors a vacuum when it comes to drama. And worst of all, we had to put another cat to sleep, leaving us with an “only cat.” I feel down and blue and like I’m just failing at so many things.

We also learned that the upcoming season of Listen to Your Mother will be the final one, at least under its current branding and organization.

Those sound like major first-world problems, and I feel like I’m whining. I don’t know why this year felt the way it did. We’ve had other years that were truly terrible. There’s just something about this year that has felt and feels off.

But it is my birthday, and that’s a good thing. I have people who love me and a job that while frustrating and drama-filled more often than I would like, is interesting and stimulating.  Daniel has adjusted well to his new school.

And Fall is coming. Pumpkins and changing leaves and holidays. The heat will break eventually, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll find a little energy and enthusiasm.

Happy 39th birthday, KeAnne.

#MicroblogMondays: Snaggletooth

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We had been on loose tooth watch all weekend.  One of Daniel’s lower front teeth was so loose that he could bend it all the way forward (fun fact: loose teeth are disconcerting). We had the tooth pillow. We had been talking to him about losing teeth and the Tooth Fairy’s job.  We were ready.

Sunday morning Daniel bounds into the bedroom around 7:30 AM. “Mommy, my tooth fell out,” he announces calmly.  I squint and ask him if he has the tooth.  I feel something drop onto my palm.  A tiny, perfect tooth. High fives and hugs are exchanged.

At bedtime, we put the tooth pillow on the door knob outside his door.  He is so excited.  Jimmy and I change our mind about 14 times on what we want the Tooth Fairy to give him for his tooth.

Daniel’s tiny tooth is tucked in our safe, and we wonder how long it will take for his adult tooth, already emergent, to make its way forward.

There’s something special about that first lost tooth.

 

toothpillow

Tooth Fairy pillow

 

Tooth and Loot

Tooth and Loot

#MicroblogMondays: Thirteen Years

 

Favor from our wedding

Today Jimmy and I celebrate our 13th anniversary. I joke that I was a child bride, but I was a decent 24 and Jimmy was 25.  We had been engaged for almost 2  years by the time we got married, but our wedding occurred three months after September 11 and I felt nervous about everything.  Jimmy jokes (it isn’t really a joke) that I almost broke his hand during the ceremony because I was gripping it so tightly. I was a much more anxious person overall at that time.

It has been a good 13 years, but it feels like 13 years. That sounds grim, but it isn’t. We’ve been through many ups and downs in that 13 years, but we’ve faced them together, inch by inch and mile by mile.  We’ve invested time and most importantly, ourselves, and I’m proud of that 13 years. I don’t think we had any inkling of what our lives would be like over the next 13 years when we plied our troth at half-past four on December 1, 2001, but there is no one I’d rather be on this journey with.  Here’s to many, many more anniversaries.

 

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A Lot of Popcorn and a First Movie

Daniel in the movie theater for Frozen

Waiting for the movie to start

I took Daniel to see Frozen, his first movie in a theater, last weekend.  We had been watching full-length movies weekly for several months, and it occurred to me that maybe it was time to brave the movie theater. Sometimes I forget he’s the mature 4.5 year old he is and not the whirling-dervish 3-year-old who traumatized us for a year. Maybe traumatize isn’t a tad harsh, but I would have laughed in your face last year if you had suggested he would sit through a movie 🙂

We had a hard time getting tickets at the theater closest to our house, so we went to the theater at Southpoint in Durham because they had a 10:30 showing.  The movie’s running time is almost 2 hours, and we thought that a later showing would be asking for trouble. Daniel doesn’t nap any longer (sigh), so he can become grumpy as the afternoon goes on.  I bought popcorn for me and M&Ms and chocolate milk for him, and we found seats in the middle of the theater.  I think there were approximately 8 million previews and a Disney animated short before the movie started that left me on edge: don’t they know there are very small children waiting to see this film? Children for whom patience is not a mastered skill yet?

The movie finally started, and it was really good! I might be the only person in the world who feels this way but in general, I’m not a fan of Disney and Pixar movies, so I was worried not only about Daniel’s behavior but also my own LOL. Daniel did beautifully.  He watched attentively and especially loved the snowman.  He even kept himself from eating all of his M&Ms. Actually, he did better than I did because I ate all of my popcorn (I’m a glutton for movie theater popcorn and don’t get me started on how much I love being able to add all the butter I want with the self-serve butter dispensers)!

Daniel said he enjoyed the movie, but it may have meant more to me than it did to him.  Movies were something I shared with my father, and some of my earliest memories are of him taking me to see movies: Bambi, Cujo (my fault – don’t ask), Halloween 3, The Land Before Time, The Goonies…I could keep going. Usually these outings happened on school vacations and were what we would call a “Special Day” with a movie, pizza and bookstore. My father loved popcorn too and having popcorn at a movie was a must.

When I looked forward to having children, continuing this tradition with movies was something I couldn’t wait to do. As Daniel snuggled against me while we watched his first movie in a theater, I was so happy. In a holiday season bound by traditions old and new, it was wonderful to be able to create another wonderful memory and pass along another treasured tradition.

And I got popcorn!

Teeth and Tires

child at the dentist

A little polish, sir?

For some reason, I thought that scheduling a dentist appointment for Daniel at 8 AM today made perfect sense on our first day of vacation.  Our previous visit, while not unsuccessful, hadn’t been without difficulty. We had barely prepped him for this visit, and I worried how he would handle the cleaning since teeth brushing can be frustrating for us.

And as usual, I shouldn’t have worried.  He was in a great mood even though he hadn’t eaten anything, and I had rushed him out of the house in order to get there on time (although we were still 10 minutes late).  The hygienist told me I could sit down in the parent area several feet away, and I did with a little trepidation.  Daniel did a great job. The hygienist was able to polish his teeth and floss them – with a few interruptions.  Even better, the dentist said he was doing a good job brushing his teeth and had no cavities.

I’m so used to being by Daniel’s side for everything that it caught me off guard that he was old enough and mature enough to handle a routine dental appointment without me. I suppose this is the first of many times that I will be ushered out of the way or able to stay in the waiting room. My baby is growing up.

***

On Tuesday, I did something I had never done before. I put air in my tire. More accurately, I attempted to put air in my tire. Yes, I’m 36-years-old and had never put air in my own tires before. Jimmy had declared it a necessity the night before but was unable to do it because he is on call, so with much trepidation on both our parts, he gave me the tire gauge, $1 in quarters and drew me a diagram.

I promise I’m not as helpless as that makes me appear.

So I dutifully turn into the BP and head to the air area Tuesday morning. I read the instructions, get out my gauge, take the pressure and insert the quarters. I hook up the air nozzle thing-y. As instructed I keep checking the pressure every so often. The gauge hasn’t budged. Perplexed and convinced there is some sort of user error, I scrounge up another 4 quarters and try again.  The gauge still doesn’t change.  I’m frustrated, but I’m sure that the sight of me bent over my tire for 5 minutes was fun for the BP customers, especially since I was wearing a skirt.

I’m forced to conclude that either I’m a moron who cannot manage to put air in her tire or there is a leak.  Truthfully, I’m not sure which scenario is the better one because while I will feel like an idiot if I somehow failed to properly fill my tire, I’m not great talking with mechanics either, and either way, I hate looking and feeling like the stereotypical clueless girl.

In between my 4 meetings on Tuesday (ugh), I squeezed in a visit to a mechanic near work who Jimmy had vetted. I asked them if they could look at my tire.  It was pouring and chilly outside, and I was afraid that instead of coming off as an idiot, I came off a little bitchy. Isn’t it fun being female?

20 minutes later, the mechanic informs me that I have a nail in my tire. Hallelujah! They are able to patch it for $15 and I’m on my way, relieved it was a legitimate nail and that I was not a moron.

Although I think we will practice putting air in my tires this weekend 🙂

36

We leave for our second week at the beach in a few hours. It’s a beautiful day here, and I hope it’s as beautiful at the beach. It feels decadent to be able to spend a second week at the beach; some years we didn’t go at all. As with our first trip, our plans are minimal: relax, play, enjoy.

My 36th birthday is tomorrow. Last year, I felt like my 35th caught me in a bit of an existential crisis: who am I? What do I want to be?  What do I want to do? This year, I feel rather nonchalant about adding another year to my tally.  Maybe it’s because there is an evenness to 36 that feels more stable than the angular, pointed 35. Maybe it’s that 36 is firmly on the other side of the symbolic 35. Or maybe, it’s because we are so busy that I barely have time to think about personal existential crises. Parenting a 4-year-old and working will do that.

I’m not saying I’m at peace with the pesky gray that is consistently infiltrating my hair or the under-eye bags that grow more prominent (especially the one under the left eye. Nothing like uneven under-eye bags) or what I optimistically call crinkles at the edges of my eyes that are more accurately called wrinkles.  I wage war with creams that I suspect delude me into a false sense of well being. I’m just not ready to do anything more permanent about these mile-markers of my time here. I hope to one day be as sanguine and appreciative as Arch Mama is about hers.

35 was a year of up and downs, highs and lows, but couldn’t that be said of any year? A few months ago, I worried that perhaps I had peaked. Maybe I reached the zenith of my achievements a few  years ago, and that thought depressed me. I don’t feel that way now. I’m hopeful that Marty and I will produce a second year of Listen to Your Mother.  My 4-year-old, my chance at immortality, delights and infuriates daily. Jimmy and I have found time for wonderful late-night (if 9 PM is late!) conversations on the back porch. And Fall is coming.

So, 36, I welcome you. Or at least, I don’t fight you or deny you. Tomorrow I will spend the day on the beach, reveling in the salty air and the gritty feel of the sand. Making sand castles. Finding star fish. Maybe being squirted by a water gun. Eating great food. And not being at work!

As I slowly feel the rejuvenation the ocean brings me, I’ll think about how something so old can still be so beautiful and powerful.