children

Apparently Fridays Can Suck Too

It’s possible I might be in an especially raw phase. I cried at least 5 times this week. I just finished crying in fact. And I might cry more. The jury is out although it would be nice if they would give me a heads up.

I blame Mercury Retrograde. Yes. We are in that lovely period in which Mercury likes to fuck with us. I have an entire post planned on it if I can get past this week because I have a lot of Mercury in my natal chart, so I am essentially fucked.

I hope you don’t mind expletives. I am quite fluent with them these days. I always liked them and used them before, but now, it’s like my native tongue. Makes me think of when I returned home from college the first few times. My aunts and my mom looked at each other knowingly as the expletives rolled off my tongue. A look I learned to decipher as, “oh, so cute! College girl thinks she has grown up!”

I don’t like to feel that anything is overwhelming for me. At all. But I’m also human and apparently have pesky things called feelings, and they can be hurt and trampled on too. That really destroys my vibe as someone who is above that sort of thing, but here we are.

And 12-year-olds are especially good…exquisitely good…at picking out your weaknesses and trampling all over them gleefully.

He’s apologized. I’m sulking and trying not to cry again. It’s fine. It’s fine. It’s all fine. I am both 15 and 44 and that’s a weird place to be.

It’s just…one minute you are going along thinking – not that you have it together – fuck no. Never that. But that you are managing things. You are getting by (that is a bar set very low). And then, something emotionally sideswipes you and you realize you have nothing together, your life is shit, and it’s like a bucket of ice-cold water has been dropped over your head. Everything you believed is a joke. You know shit. This week has been an entire week of this. And believe me, my expectations are very low. And somehow that hurts even more.

And when you try so hard to look like you have it together, that you are keeping everything together, it’s like an extra low blow. Especially when you are trying to look towards the future and try to make plans – you know “be optimistic”: the universe guffaws (maybe in a nicotine-deadened croaky voice), “ha ha ha. Why did you ever think you could do anything like that? Achieve anything like that? You are FUCKED!”

Like I said. Expletives are my lingua franca these days.

Just think of me as a crab: hard exoskeleton, soft underbelly. That’s what I feel like.

***

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Today is Manufacturing Day. I’ve posted about this day for many years, but please think of the manufacturers in your area and thank them, support them, vote for legislation friendly to them. Manufacturing is so important to our economy and, frankly, fascinating! Someone said on a call today, “manufacturing has changed!” And that is so true. It is very different than what it used to be, and I want us to get to a point where we can visit plants again (damn COVID) so people can see what it is like now. I could think of a zillion types of tours to plan to showcase the various products made in NC, and I know my colleagues across the nation could do the same. I love Manufacturing Day. It inspires me, and I love trying to figure out best how to highlight what all we make. And the truth is that if we as a nation no longer make things, we are doomed. If I, a prissy English major who had never been exposed to manufacturing prior to 2000, can find it fascinating, I guarantee that you can too.

***

And welcome October. It’s time to get out my Halloween villages and set up a few things. I love October. I love the leaves changing. I love knowing we are getting to the end of the year and the shortest day of the year. It appeals to something primal in me. I have 20 pairs of Halloween socks. I love it. Today, October 1, also marks the 11th month since Jimmy died. I am stunned it is month 11 already.

Life and feelings ebb and flow. Flow and ebb. Emotions come and go. Go and come. You do your best. It’s all you can do.

And, well, fuck it, right? You knew I couldn’t end without an expletive ūüôā

Trip or Vacation?

It’s almost the end of summer and we’re at the beach for our second week of the summer. Daniel starts first grade in two weeks, and I’m at a loss for where the summer went.

It’s been a good week…mostly. We’ve had good weather except for yesterday, allowing us to visit the aquarium. Awesome fish, yet Daniel was mostly interested in the gift shop. We’ve had good food although it has been takeout because we don’t feel like battling the crowds, waiting, noise etc.  I was bitten again by noseeums, and my left arm and feet look like I have some flesh-eating disease. And today we dealt with the surliest 6-year-old; you’d think it was torture being at the beach.

Have you read the HuffPo post on Vacation or Trip? That pretty much sums it up.

But the view isn’t bad and it could be worse: we could be at work!

  

Imagining Small Things

Daniel’s school is about 5-10 minutes away (depending on traffic) from where I work. It’s wonderfully convenient, especially if I take the side streets instead of the main thoroughfares to get to work.

One of the side streets I take is a winding, narrow street that has been gentrified. It has a mix of quaint houses and stylish new apartments. A few years ago, I truly would have been nervous driving down this side street (justified or not) but no longer. ¬†The far end of the street closest to my workplace has the Governor’s School for the Blind and a historic park.

About three-quarters of the way along this street is a sign saying, “Hidden Driveway.” It has caught my fancy. I’ve been down the street enough times not to see anything that resembles what I would consider a hidden driveway. I assume that maybe what they mean is the School for the Blind’s driveway because I see no other likely candidates.

However, every time I see the sign, it gives me a thrill and sends my imagination into overdrive.  This street is tucked away enough to make me wonder what serendipitous things we might find there.  When I think of a hidden driveway, I envision an entire household living underground.  When a sensor beeps, telling them they are clear, part of the foliage on the side of the street is thrown back, and a car appears. It enters the street and the house recedes from sight again, the secret safe. Hidden driveway indeed.

Maybe this household has decided to live off the grid. Maybe they are protesting world conditions. Maybe they just want to reduce their dependence upon foreign goods. Who knows? I picture them defining their interaction with the world on their terms.

When a household is so different from yours (as a family living underground or hidden in plain sight would be), you wonder how they deal with typical family issues. How do they deal with the preschooler’s whine, “I don’t WANT to eat that?” Or the fight over who cleans the cat litter? Or doing dishes? How do such mundane tasks fit into the focus upon broader issues?

Shortly after the sign, I turn onto another street. Work is practically within sight. I miss the whimsy suggested by the “Hidden Driveway” sign. Reality will be crashing in again soon. ¬†Maybe one day, if I’m really fortunate, I’ll see the people who live there. If I’m not so jaded as to make it impossible.

What are your magic moments during your commute?

Lame-O, NaBloPoMo Post

I admit it: this post is being published only to fulfill the requirements of NaBloPoMo. Everyone likely has one post like that, right?

I’m home. Back in Raleigh. On terra firma and with my luggage, which earlier in the evening seemed unlikely (the luggage, not the terra firma part). Another series of very full flights and by the time I had raced through the Atlanta airport after my flight from Nashville landed (which looked like a lovely airport by the way), making it to my gate just in time to board, I was feeling a bit punchy and irritated at those passengers who tried to cram large carry-ons into the overhead compartments, holding up the line.

They had the last laugh because luggage shifted during the flight to Raleigh, causing the hatch door to be stuck. No one could get it open, which meant the rest of us poor suckers who had checked our luggage were left to cool our heels at baggage claim for an hour.  Eventually, Delta Baggage Services told us that the crew was going to have to remove seats in order to get to the luggage and our choices were to wait for who knew how long, come back later or have the luggage shipped. I chose to leave, thinking the only thing I really needed was contact lens solution, and I could buy that easily.

Just as the exit door opened, several passengers yelled for me to return, saying that the crew had gotten the door open and our luggage would be here soon. ¬†Another 15 minutes passed before our precious bags emerged from the bowels of the baggage claim area. I claimed mine with a good deal of ferocity and stalked off. I knew it had been a long shot because of the time my plane had landed, but I had hoped to be able to make it home to kiss Daniel good night. ¬†Instead, he’s snoozing well and we’re finishing up a few tasks that need to be done for tomorrow.

So to my fellow passengers with checked bags, I apologize for jinxing us.

It wasn’t completely awful. My seat mates were a father and his 4-year-old little girl on their way to visit grandparents. ¬†The little girl kept us entertained in the baggage claim and hugged me several times. ¬†She offered me one of her chocolate cookies, and when I told her thanks but no thanks because I don’t like chocolate, she looked at me curiously and asked, “why do you not like chocolate?” ¬†It was just like how Daniel would have asked it.

Back to work tomorrow, but I am so looking forward to being the first face Daniel sees tomorrow and giving him a huge bear hug.

It’s good to be home.

Changing of the Guard

Daniel moved his plate to be next to daddy.

Daniel moved his plate to be next to daddy.

Daniel prefers Jimmy right now.¬† Jimmy is his playmate of choice, and Daniel grins and runs to greet him when he comes in the door.¬† Daniel’s greeting to me is a bit more aloof: a smile, but he doesn’t run to me and throw himself on me.¬† Truth be told, our relationship is a bit antagonistic right now.¬† Daniel likes to boss me around and tell me to stop talking or not say certain words.¬† He commands me, and I swear, if he could snap his fingers at me, he would.¬† He’s actually quite rude to me. Sometimes, he’ll ask a question, and I’ll reply, and he’ll say, “Mommy! I wasn’t talking to you. I was talking to Daddy.”

Daniel and I also argue in the car. He informs me that everything is unacceptable and that I will NOT argue with him. He challenges me on everything.  Yesterday he told me:

Mommy, I love you, but I don’t always like you.

Ouch. Although I could honestly say, “ditto.”¬† When I tell people some of the things he says, they wince and tell me it breaks their heart when they hear their kids say that sort of thing.¬† Jimmy looks at me apologetically when Daniel states or demonstrates a preference for him.

The truth is that it doesn’t bother me that much.

First of all, I know that Daniel’s rudeness to me is a sign that he feels safe with me. He doesn’t have to be on his best behavior with me because he knows I love him and won’t leave him. Don’t worry – we do correct him when he says those things.¬† But I understand that he is being developmentally appropriate and that it is giving him a safe way to work through complex emotions. Or at least that’s what the parenting books say ūüėČ

Daniel also went through an extreme mommy phase for around a year that spanned the second half of his second year and first half of his third. I never thought my nerves would chafe to hear “mommy” said over and over in a sing-song voice.¬† It was frustrating to have him literally hanging off of me everywhere I went. Cleaning? Cooking? Sitting? Forget it.¬† He absolutely positively did not want his daddy and would go so far as to tell Jimmy that he didn’t like him and cry upon seeing him.¬† As a result, I had most of the hands-on parenting tasks because he would not tolerate Jimmy. Being your child’s everything sounds great until you experience it. It was a very frustrating time.

So now, I love seeing him run to Jimmy. I love seeing how patient Jimmy is with him and how Daniel responds to him because frankly, Jimmy can talk to him in a way that makes sense to him in a way I cannot. I love that Daniel adores his daddy. I don’t begrudge them any moment they spend together.¬† I want Daniel to have a good relationship with both parents.

Besides, I’m the one Daniel calls out for in the middle of the night when he wakes up from a bad dream ūüôā

Ranting over the Internet

I love the Internet. Thank you, Al Gore, for inventing it. I’ve written before about how lonely it was growing up in a rural area in late 80s and early 90s. After the sun went down and people went to bed, it could be very lonely.

I am so thankful that thanks to the Internet, I am never alone. Someone is always awake or at the very least, I can tweet something, knowing it will be seen later. Having such high regard for Twitter and Facebook seems silly and frivolous but folks, I lived in a rural area in which nothing happened after sunset. It was incredibly isolating and lonely.

That said, I like to think the Internet exposes us all to new ideas and ways of thinking. Unfortunately, what I’ve discovered is that while the Internet is a democratizing tool, what it enables is every mode of thinking from the incredibly ignorant to the brilliant. Or maybe I should stop beating around the bush: there are some stupid people on the Internet. And these stupid people often share their stupidity widely and loudly.

Am I being elitist? Narrow-minded? Judgmental? Yes, probably. And I own it proudly. Because when did the ability to think critically become a negative????

The truth is that that while the Internet has enabled unbelievable levels of connectivity, it has also given everyone a voice. And I’m shocked at some of what I read.

Before the rise of the Internet. I could believe that people were mostly intelligent and thoughtful. Now, however, I am forced to conclude that many people don’t have a damn clue what they are talking about and lack the ability to think critically. Because I’ve read them. Their articles. Their blogs. It’s appalling.

What the hell has happened to our civilization in which critical thinking has become a lost skill? And if your comment is anything other than, “OMG! U R a rock star,” your comment is deleted. What happened to discourse? To thought?

I realize that I am on a tangent, but I have seen some stuff recently that makes me want to throw knives at the wall. Hard. Deep impact.

So here is a brief list of what to stop doing on the Internet as of today. I know the list will grow and feel free to suggest your own items.

  • Stop trying to prove you can eat healthily on $5 a day or whatever. Here’s the thing. You are missing the full picture of what it is like to be poor in this country, so your experiment is nothing but ignorant and elitist. If you want to replicate typical conditions, work outside the home all day and then have to take mass transit to a store in your area. Buy only what you can carry and then go home.¬† Or, go to a store and buy what is available period. Do you have an hour to cook lentils or quinoa? Or are your children asking for dinner around 6 PM because they need to be in bed before 8 so they can be up when needed the next morning? If I want to cook fresh chicken, it will take me almost an hour in the oven or 15-20 minutes on the stove top. Pork? 30 minutes in the oven.¬† It’s easy to focus on, “I bought all this awesome food for $5 and cooked in 20 minutes” when¬† you are either home all day and/or live in an area in which such food is readily available.¬† The bottom line is that YOU DON”T KNOW what it is like, and your laughable experiments help no one.
  • Stop fat-shaming. Do you think overweight people don’t know they are fat? Do you think that your posting pictures on your blog of barely-obscured identities will help? Posting pictures is horrific and unethical. What gives YOU the right to be the arbiter for health and acceptance in this country? Especially when you likely don’t have all the information. Let’s look at statistics about poverty as well as food availability in an area.¬† Do you really think any parent wants their child to be overweight and unhealthy? NO. The problem, though, is likely what food is available and that can vary dramatically based on income level.¬† Not because the parents don’t know better but because of what is available and affordable.¬† So before you start fat-shaming children on the Internet, stop and think for a moment…a few seconds (surely your brain can spare that?) about what might be contributing the situation you feel compelled to pillory.

Rant over. For now. Seriously: what do you want to see ended on the Internet?

Our Growing Starfish Problem

It started so innocently.

A few months ago, we implemented a behavior chart to work on some issues we were having.¬† Daniel’s first reward for earning a certain number of stars (30) was the return of his train table, removed to our upstairs bonus room due to repeated bad behavior. Ask me how much I enjoy carrying that table upstairs and back down again while managing not to destroy it, fall down the stairs or curse out my husband.

behavior chart

The Behavior Chart

We needed a reward for the times when the train table had not been removed though.¬† Something simple.¬† One reward was a train we had set aside from the holidays.¬† Another reward was a new book.¬† About the same time, Daniel’s day care class studied the ocean and ocean creatures, and he became infatuated with starfish.¬† Charmed, we found a stuffed starfish on Amazon and that became another reward for reaching 30 stars.

Pleased with his new starfish, Daniel requested another one.¬† A purple one specifically (it’s his favorite color).¬† The frantic Googling began. We found a dog toy.¬† A cat toy stuffed with cat nip.¬† Um, no. Amazon let us down that time, so I turned to the next logical source: Etsy.

Unsurprisingly, there were several stores hawking stuffed starfish.¬† I scrutinized each one for suitability, vetoing all of them except one store. He made stuffed sea creatures, including hats and Christmas tree ornaments.¬† He had adorable mini starfish. He didn’t have one in purple, but I messaged him, and he said he could do it.¬† He emailed me color samples. We ordered three: one in the desired purple and two more in blue and red for back up.¬† It was easy.¬† We had the new starfish a few days later.

Daniel was thrilled with his new purple starfish and named him “Flynn.”¬† As we had suspected, he asked for more starfish.¬† Pleased with ourselves for ordering two more, we rewarded him with each one as he reached 30 stars on his chart. Eventually, we had Mommy Starfish and 3 baby starfish.

Then he asked for more starfish in different colors.¬† I returned to my dealer and ordered 3 more in green, orange and yellow. In due time, Daniel was rewarded with those three as well. Now we had 6 baby starfish and 1 mommy starfish.¬† Daniel made up a language for them, and they speak in a high-pitched, shrill voice.¬† Last night I told Jimmy that “this is what it sounds like when starfish cry.”

Daniel soon asked for another starfish, in white this time.  Again, we decided it was better to buy in bulk and I returned to my dealer to buy neutrals this time: white, gray and tan.  Last week, Casper the white starfish joined our family.  Last night, Mavis the gray starfish joined.  We have one more to go.

I’m afraid we’re running out of colors. I envision starfish covering his bed, lounging in the “ocean” as he calls the blue blanket on his bed.

Starfish are kind of creepy.¬† Thanks to our new starfish book, I learned they have no eyes or nose and only a mouth.¬† They surround their prey and pry open its shell to eat it. They regenerate their arms when they lose one (that’s been fun to explain to Daniel.¬† We hope he doesn’t attempt to observe it by removing one of his starfish’s arms).¬† They seem to be the definition of form over function.

But Daniel loves them.¬† Apparently Mommy Starfish mated with Daddy Whale to produce them.¬† He takes one or two to day care with him every day.¬† They make him happy.¬† So we put up with our increasing starfish population, and I’m grateful to have a dealer in California who can make and ship them quickly.

stuffed toy starfish

Our burgeoning starfish colony minus the newest one. So cute, aren’t they?

Now, for a few links:

Now I have to figure out what I’m serving with lamb for Easter tomorrow.¬† Any ideas? I’d like to do something different from what I usually do, but I suspect it will end up being green beans of some sort, garlic-rosemary mashed potatoes and something else.¬† We are creatures of habit.

PS: I’m feeling a lot better about the work situation this week.¬† I think it will be OK, and I’m starting to feel excited about the possibilities.¬† Change is hard and sucks, but we’re all working hard to make sure we are still able to collaborate. I feel a wee bit less diminished than I did. At least this week.

Have a great Easter!

Play-Doh, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down

Loving his play-doh fun factory!

When we were making our Christmas list for Daniel, we had a fit of nostalgia and decided that he needed the play-doh fun factory and a crap-ton of extra play-doh to go with it.¬† They arrived well before Christmas thanks to Santa Amazon.¬† We wrapped them and placed them under the tree.¬† Since we have a lot of family Christmases in a short period of time as well as Santa’s gifts, we usually end up waiting a while to let Daniel open the gifts from us.¬† Last weekend, he finally opened his last gift, a gift that happened to be the fun factory and the extra play-doh.

Although the fun factory wasn’t how my creaky brain remembered it from my childhood, it is still pretty cool.¬† You can cut “material” that then drops onto the moving conveyor belt.¬† The conveyor belt takes the play-doh through the extruder, which allows you to stamp various candies or toys on it.¬† From there, it journeys down the belt.¬† Just like product in a real manufacturing facility,¬† you can strip off the excess play-doh from the mold and re-use it.

Of course I was in manufacturing heaven.¬† The day we set it up, I told Daniel about production, production volume, scrap and quality control.¬† We were a factory making candy for Halloween.¬† That first day, Daniel played the fun factory for 3 hours straight and has played with it every night since.¬† He’s even neglected his trains!!

You’re probably thinking, “That’s awesome!¬† What’s she complaining about now?”

I don’t know if you’re like me, but I think about doing arts and crafts, and a haze descends over my brain, and I think about how fun it will be to sprinkle glitter, use glue, shave crayons, get out paints, etc.¬† I picture us engaged in an educational, heart-warming crafting moment and sigh at the exquisite beauty of the scene.¬† Mother and child, crafting. Creating exquisite ornaments or seasonally-appropriate art.¬† How wonderful.

How messy.¬† Then reality crashes in, and I remember my extreme hatred of glitter.¬† How it’s never possible to clean up all of the damn stuff.¬† The paper around crayons that I have to remove or else it triggers my paper/trash phobia.¬† The finger paints that make their way from the paper onto the walls and furniture as the young artist decides his art knows no boundaries, emulating Pollock with drips and drabbles.

And play-doh.  Dear God, play-doh.  I played with play-doh happily in my childhood, but I almost want to throw up at the sight of it now.  The can of biscuits smell when it slurps out of the can and drops on the table. The slight disgust at how it resembles the can like cranberry sauce does.  The squishing is therapeutic, but that smell gets on my hands, and little bits of it seem to end up everywhere: on the floor, on socks, on toys, everywhere.

Daniel also loves to combine colors, mashing them into edgy, dark colors seen only in hipster makeup lines at Sephora.  I like red to be red and blue to be blue, but Daniel mashes them together until they are a color never intended in nature.  The combined colors really bother me. Maybe the recipe for play-doh has changed too because the colors seem to mix weirdly.

Daniel won’t let us clean up the play-doh until after he goes to bed (we’ll work on that), so cleaning up play-doh and its detritus is one of the last tasks we have for the night.¬† I look at the kitchen table and the floor underneath, and I see bits of play-doh and it’s disgusting.¬† I know I’ll be finding play-doh for days, ranging in texture from oddly moist to a little dry to a little crispy to dry and brittle.¬† I’m cringing just writing that.

And you’re probably thinking what a bitch I am to complain about a toy that is educational AND fun and that Daniel obviously loves.¬† Yes, I am being bitchy.¬† After all, I just cleaned off the kitchen table, home base for the play-doh “candy factory” as I simultaneously tried not to inhale the distinctive play-doh smell and gag.

Don’t worry.¬† We aren’t hiding the fun factory just yet.¬† I am happy he loves the toy and playing with play-doh, but I admit that I curse a little under my breath every time he pulls it out.

What’s your least favorite toy?

 

 

The Only Problem with Low Expectations…

Oh, Christmas.¬† The one part of Christmas Jimmy and I were looking forward to was being Santa Claus and seeing the look on Daniel’s face Christmas morning.¬† That assumed bright spot kept us going through ennui, a scorched dinner, disappointment, passive-aggression, depression, narcissism and omni-present illness that characterized the holiday this year.¬†¬† Christmas Eve we made cookies for Santa, had a great dinner, drove around the neighborhood to see the lights, and threw out the food we made for the reindeer.¬† We read The Night Before Christmas before tucking in Daniel as is our tradition; once we were sure he was asleep, we set about being Santa. Jimmy and I had high hopes for the next day.

Cookies for Santa

Cookies for Santa

Santa on Christmas Eve

Santa has been here!

When we heard him stir on Christmas morning, we got up, turned on the tree and went to get him out of his room. The first thing that greeted me was an overturned potty and a naked little boy.  Cleaning up pee is always my favorite thing to do first thing in the morning!  Once the room was clean and he was dressed, we urged him to go see what Santa brought him.  And urged him.  And urged him.

Daniel wouldn’t go into the living room.¬† He informed us that he couldn’t and instead ran into the guest room to hide. No amount of coaxing could get him out.¬† We implored him.¬† We begged him.¬† We cajoled him, incredulous that our 3-year-old didn’t want to see his presents.¬† The more we asked, the more defensive he became, informing us that his name wasn’t Daniel.¬† It was Diesel.¬† His “I can’t”¬† became higher and whinier.

We were flabbergasted.¬† What the hell?¬† We had bought wonderful gifts that we thought he’d like.¬† We had cherished making Santa magical for him, but he wouldn’t even take a look.¬† We looked at each other, speechless, and feeling bad that we felt so irritated with our child on Christmas morning.

We should have expected something to go awry Christmas morning.¬† In retrospect, Daniel had been shy and avoiding all surprises lately; what is Santa but one huge surprise?¬† It was still a kick in the gut, and maybe if we felt better, we would have laughed it off.¬† It’s just that this part of Christmas – being Santa for Daniel – was the one thing we had thought would go well, would be a no-brainer.¬† It was the only part of Christmas that mattered for us.¬† And so Jimmy was speechless and I wanted to cry at 9 AM on Christmas Day.

We finally managed to coax Daniel into the living room, and once there, he was as excited as we hoped he would be.  The bittersweet feelings remained, though.  I felt like we were the worst parents in the world having to guilt our child into enjoying Christmas, and his initial reluctance was just one more reminder that this holiday has been less than ideal.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day

Here are a few more ways in which the holidays have continued to be less than ideal:

  • Jimmy contracted my pink eye
  • Jimmy finally was struck down by whatever Frankenvirus I have
  • I made my third trip to the doctor on 12/26 because I still felt like crap.¬† I was given a second dose of antibiotics and Claritin D (I’m happy to say that only 2.5 weeks after I got sick, I began to feel better.)
  • My pink eye is better, but my new supply of left contact lenses haven’t arrived, so I’m alternating between glasses that occasionally hurt my face or one right contact
  • I’ve cried twice
  • We have no energy
  • Daniel is being very 3, very contrary.¬† We’ve taken away toys every day and instituted a reward chart.¬† We have good days and bad days.¬† I know it’s normal, but it’s frustrating and depressing to feel like you are constantly disciplining your child and then the more you have to discipline, the more you worry you are crushing his spirit.
  • We are not enjoying this time off. Daniel probably isn’t either because he thinks we’re yelling at him all the time.

In short, what I’ve learned over the last 2 weeks is that you can accept and prepare for low expectations, but sometimes, those expectations aren’t low enough.

***

We’re two-thirds of the way through December 31 in my neck of the woods, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.¬† It has been a shitty year for my family, and Jimmy and I cannot wait to see the year depart.¬† 2012, it’s not your fault explicitly, but I have no problems blaming you.

Tonight, I will raise my glass of champagne high in celebration and joy as the last few seconds of 2012 tick by.

Goodbye, 2012.¬† I won’t be sorry to see you go.

May 2013 be kinder to us all.

Magic Fall: The Blathering

There’s a lot of crap swirling in my head, but when I woke up this morning, I felt cheeky and staccato, so I thought maybe another blathering post was in order.¬† Brain dump, commence!

  • I took 10 minutes and brought out my Fall decorations last week.¬† OK, let’s talk capitalization.¬† I know that technically, you are not supposed to capitalize the seasons, but I think that rule is asinine.¬† You can get away with not capitalizing spring, summer and winter (even though I bet the majority of the world will think you are making a mistake by NOT capitalizing them) and be fairly certain that readers will understand you are referring to the seasons even though they might think you are a moron.¬† Fall, however, could very easily be confused with usage other than the season.¬† Plus, it offends me on some level not to capitalize the seasons.¬† Let’s agree that on this blog, seasons will be capitalized, rules be damned.¬† Where was I?¬† Oh yes.¬† My Fall decorations.¬† They are on display, and it makes me happy to see them.¬† It also makes Daniel happy because he can climb on a chair and grab one of the pumpkin lanterns.¬† Like his mother, he’s a sucker for Fall and Halloween decorations, especially pumpkins.
  • Speaking of Fall (I rather like my new rule of capitalization), it’s like the trees finally got the message and are starting to change colors en masse.¬† I love it.¬† I love pointing out the colors to Daniel on our way to and from daycare.¬† My campus is really beautiful this time of year too.¬† Trees in front of buildings are turning flaming red.¬† The trees around the lake are changing too.¬† Right now, it’s just a hint of what’s to come, but in a week or two, it will be a stunning backdrop to the water.¬† I don’t really think I can explain it, but Fall thrills me.¬† The way the intensity of the sun has dimmed, giving a slight sepia cast to the days; the way the blue sky is so intensely blue but golden as well.¬† The vivid leaves.¬† I can feel my body respond and almost hum.¬† Some energy that courses through the changing environment calls to me.¬† I feel it and I welcome it.¬† I feel alive, which is interesting since in a way Fall is the last gasp of a dying year.¬† I know.¬† That’s weird.¬† I’m weird.¬† I guess Fall makes me feel connected to the environment.¬† It’s elemental.
  • We bought pumpkins.¬† We have Daddy, Mommy and Daniel pumpkins as well as a bunch of little pumpkins.¬† We’ll likely carve the Mommy and Daddy pumpkins and call it a day.¬† Despite our best efforts, we’re always carving at practically the last minute.¬† As for the rest of the pumpkins, Daniel has claimed 4 as his; I still maintain hopes of creating something decorative with the rest.¬† Don’t hold your breath.

    Interesting use of baby pumpkins

  • I had a lot of meetings this week.¬† I realized that the rest of October and quite a bit of November will be full of meetings as well.¬† When I told my staff that I’ll likely be in and out due to meetings, my newest staff member asked, “Why do you have to go to so many meetings?”¬† I wanted to tell her, “because I’m a masochist,” but I didn’t want to scare her off.¬† I get through the meetings by doodling copiously and irreverently:

    My doodles tend to be seasonal

  • This week I discovered that the construction area along my commute to work is going to be a new Sheetz.¬† I am thrilled by this because I love Sheetz.¬† Sheetz is like the anti-gas station.¬† It’s clean.¬† It has great coffee and genuine food options.¬† It’s colorful.¬† It’s mecca.¬† I’ve gone from hardly ever encountering a Sheetz to passing TWO on my commute to work.¬† Someone is throwing me a bone.
  • I started and finished Tana French’s Broken Harbor this week.¬† This is the 4th book in her…Ireland detective series?¬† The characters are loosely connected from novel to novel; she often has a minor character in one mystery who goes on to become the main character in the next.¬† I love her books because they are moody, lyrical and dark; the story grim and gripping.¬† Ireland is as much of a character as any person.¬† That said, I didn’t like Broken Harbor as much as the previous three.¬† It’s definitely worth a read, but it just didn’t work as well as all the elements in the previous three.¬†¬† If you like UK mysteries, I also highly recommend Elizabeth George’s mysteries.¬† Very, very good.
  • The State Fair is in Raleigh this week, and we haven’t gone and probably won’t go.¬† I thought that maybe this was the year to take Daniel to see the animals and eat some fun fair food but then I decided against it because of the crowds and logistical nightmare of getting there and parking.¬† I also that he doesn’t know the fair exists, so maybe I shouldn’t borrow trouble before I need to.¬† There’s also the 40+ pesky cases of E.coli that have been reported. Then I felt guilty and decided I was denying him some vital experience but realized that due to schedules, I may have missed our window of opportunity to go.¬† Now I’m back to trying to convince myself that he doesn’t know what he’s missing and it’s OK.¬† Also, E.coli.
  • Along with the rest of the world (so it seemed), we watched Felix Baumgartner’s jump last weekend.¬† Jimmy and I were riveted, and we told Daniel that Felix was making history.¬† Daniel’s response? “Skip!” he commanded, the same command he utters when he wants us to skip a section in a movie.¬† The world?¬† Seriously awed by Felix.¬† My three-year-old?¬† Not so much.¬† Tough audience.

    What’s so special about him, Mommy?

  • The governor of North Carolina was the keynote speaker at one of the meetings I attended this week.¬† I happened to be sitting on the aisle, and as she passed by, greeting people, she clasped my shoulder and said, “hi.”¬† That’s my brush with greatness this week.
  • We may have quit soccer due to life.¬† By that I mean, car trouble, rain, hacking coughs, etc.¬† There is one more session and then the “skills showcase” next weekend.¬† My guilt says, “GO!”¬† My brain says, “Just stop and don’t worry about it.¬† Life is too crazy right now and Daniel won’t really care.”¬† Talk me down, people.¬† Please.
  • We have 3 elderly, increasingly crotchety felines whom we adore.¬† All I can say is that I hope Daniel takes as good care of us when we’re that old.¬† Lucky pusses!

How was your week?  Am I insane?