Monday, December 29, 2008

The Holiday Pageant

pageant- noun, an elaborate colorful exhibition or spectacle often with music that consists of a series of tableaux, of a loosely unified drama, or of a procession usually with floats.

Let me preface this by saying that our family doesn't practice religion. It's not that we don't believe, it's just that we don't attend church.

My daughter, Ginger Snap, is going to be in a holiday pageant and we are so excited. Up until a week before the performance, she had been calling it a "show". In my mind, this show was a display of our children in their finest duds, parading on a stage, and singing Christmas carols. I got part of the equation right.

Ginger Snap and I looked at all of her dresses and have determined which beautiful outfit she will wear. We figured out how she will wear her hair and what shoes will be worn. I asked if the boys were going to be in the pageant as well. My daughter looked at me, laughed, and said in her all-knowing voice, "of course Mommy. Everyone is included" (like I was crazy). Silly me.

So, the notice came home in her school bag that the "show" was actually a holiday "pageant". Parents were invited to watch their kids on stage. Ginger Snap told me she was going to sing holiday songs and that the girls were going to be beautiful angels. My comment: "Yes, in your gorgeous holiday dress, with your hair down, and your "clappy", black shoes, you will be a beautiful angel."

At the end of school, the week of the great event, my daughter excitedly jumped into the car and said breathlessly, "Mommy, I'm going to be a lamb in the pageant!"

"What? When? I'm so confused."

Laughing at me again (hmmmm... I see a pattern here), she said, "You're silly, Mommy."

"But I thought the girls were going to be angels."

"Noooo, Mommy... only three girls."

I think to myself, How come my daughter's not an angel? Did they have try outs?

Whatever. Ginger Snap is so excited about being an animal. She's certainly had a lot of practice. When she's around her brother, they are a bit like wild beasts. I think she is going to be the BEST lamb ever.

In the end, and rightfully so, I decided to nix the dress (pants were a much better option). Ginger Snap kept mentioning the fuzzy pants and ears she would be wearing as part of her costume for the performance.

The Holiday pageant included three wise men, a couple of (breathtaking) sheep, a couple of angels, Mary, and Joseph. A simplified version of the story of the birth of Jesus was told in poetic form and the kids sang three Christmas songs. Then all parents (with video cameras is tow) were invited back to the classroom to congratulate the actors. It was lovely. So, now I truly know what a Holiday Pageant is all about.

Happy Holidays everyone and Happy New Year.

Note: I impressed my son by spelling the words Spongebob Squarepants. In his mind I am still a semi-God. Life is sweet...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Safe Spot

I approach the elementary school property with dread and repeat over and over, "Find your safe spot, find your safe spot." Then I see both of my friends, Maple and Cinnamon. As long as I locate them, I am "safe." These two women have their heads on straight and I know that all is well as long as I can get to them before a mom of "previous importance in the workplace" approaches me or stops me. I must carefully navigate my way around the conversation time-bombs going off to ensure my safe arrival to my girlfriends.

Watch out to the left! There is the (ever present) political debate going on- Zoiks! I want to avoid that! On the right, I hear a couple of women deep in a conversation about 9/11. I just passed two women having a serious discussion about the PTA. Be careful- a volunteer request may be passed my way (not that this is a bad thing, it just that it's another thing).

Why do women (in particular) have these heavy discussions on the school grounds before after-school pick up? I mean, really. Maybe these stay-at-home moms/part-time workers have this need, this desire, to prove to others that they were once full-time "important" people (please note that not all moms are this way). Maybe these moms are insecure about staying home and try to reduce the feeling by having "big" conversations with other moms who are "in the know." Maybe these women spend so much time with children that these are the only opportunities to have the deep conversations. I don't know, but often I wait in my car until the very last minute so that I don't have to be involved in the heavy discussions. Does this make me a wuss? I don't think so. I like to think that I am conserving energy by avoiding these conversations because, face it, by 3:00 p.m., I am really tired and often I haven't eaten. That is no way to enter into a debate about the price of gas. Maybe I am thinking about this too much.

All I know is that I am truly grateful for Maple, who is a kind, soothing mom who has the ability to put me at ease with her grace and charm. Then there is Cinnamon, who is spicy and spunky, a girlfriend who can see a bright spot on a cloudy day and always finds a way to make me smile. Everyone needs a little Maple and Cinnamon in their day.

Do you have anyone like this in your life?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Survival Of The Fittest

It's Friday afternoon and I'm so relieved. My son and I survived the first three weeks of first grade. You see, it's not just about dropping the kids off and picking them up... nonono ... there is so much more to it than that.

First let's start with making lunch, but not just any old lunch. This is Lightning's lunch and there are certain guidelines to be met. I must have the RIGHT kind of ham that's not too sweet or spicy, the bread MUST be white, and there can be NO edges. Pickles are good in a lunch, but olives are better. There can be NO Cheetos, Cheese Puffs, or any other kind of orange chips because my son has deemed them 'bad for his stomach'. Desserts should NOT be chocolate because, of course, he doesn't really like chocolate, and finally, there should be fruit in his lunch (as he has pointed out) because it's healthy for him, but he has also told me that he will not eat fruit... because, you know, it's so 'healthy and all that.' I will say, though, that even though he is picky, he does eat his lunch (even with the healthy items), which is very important and makes me happy.

Secondly let's talk about clothing. No, my son is not a fashion hound, although he has been bothered when other kids have his same shirt or shorts. I did point out to him that it may have something to do with the fact that Target is Heroin for adults and, through no fault of our own, we find ourselves buying things we might not necessarily need (such as 'awesome' shirt with cars on it). And, of course, about 1 in 2 adults is addicted to this "heroin". To offset this drug addiction and to search for the never-before-seen clothing, we have hit a few consignment stores where he has picked out one-of-a-kind shirts, pants, and shorts. This has suited him very well (and saved me a lot of money).

Beyond the home fashion there are the school's requests: Wednesday is P.E. and he has to wear running shoes in order to participate; the first Friday of each month is "spirit day" and (fortunately) I had the (unknown) foresight to purchase a school t-shirt. One day a month it is "Earth Day" when we appreciate our planet and all of the kids wear green. I have no idea when this occurs, but it sounds like a good idea. When it is raining I have to remember the umbrella. Crocs are frowned upon at school due to their poor behavior on a playground filled with wood chips, but sometimes he wears them anyway because his classrooms are not air-conditioned. In about two weeks the room temperature will not be a problem and Crocs will no longer be necessary.

Then there is the paperwork (AKA- homework-for-parents-to-make-sure-they-are-on-top-of-their-children). Look, I know this is part of the school process, I'm just pointing out that there is more to the first couple of weeks of school than shuttling kids back and forth to the property. Back to filling out "forms": join the PTA; volunteer for school committees; purchase school paraphernalia (spirit wear); buy a directory (well worth the $4); fill out emergency contact information; sell, sell, sell wrapping paper and chocolates for the fundraiser; purchase books through the Scholastic Book Club; sign the kids up for Marathon Kids (definitely a good thing), join the Cub Scouts, join the Spanish Club. Everything has a deadline as well, and trust me, for your kids sake DON'T FORGET THE DEADLINES.

Now we move on to homework- understand that my first child has entered the first grade, so the increased amount of homework is new to us. The first two weeks were a little overwhelming, but we are now in a good groove. So each day there is handwriting, spelling words, reading (sometimes a couple of books each day), and math homework. There is number memorization and a list of sight words. Spelling tests are weekly and started on the second week.

On top of the school, Lightning is taking swimming and playing soccer this fall. My daughter is taking a dance class. I am so busy and I only have TWO children.

Once I pick up my son from school, we come home, go through the backpack and have a snack. Then Lightning works on homework, while I prep food for dinner (or read a magazine). Once homework is complete, he gets to play (at least that's what it is some of the time) with his sister while I make dinner. Once dinner is finished, the kids eat dessert, take baths, and go to bed.

So, in summary, school is going well for both my son and I. Every test he does well on, offers better sleep for me at night. My daughter just started Pre-K last week, but I don't think we have steady homework until she enters Kindergarten -whew!

famous quote of the week by Lightning: 'Mom, there is a new teacher in my class. She is old like you, but she is pretty.' Well, at least I know where I stand in his eyes - hehehe.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pre-Post Vacation Traumatic Stress Disorder

I just discovered something while on our family getaway to Corolla, North Carolina. I need more attention. Is this pitiful? Selfish? Unfair? I'm not sure, but I don't think so. You know what? Our family needs more attention as well.

At home there is very little "down" time- time to think about the quieter things inside you... the things that hide right under the surface. You step away from the hectic that makes up your normal every day life and you realize certain things.

We are together as a family for EIGHT whole days- this is the first time in 12 months, sad but true. This is a rarity in Baltimore, Maryland (our home). We rarely vacation. My husband works long hours and travels occasionally during the week. On the weekend I work. Our family is not often together as a complete whole. Returning to Baltimore means breaking up our wholeness, paying bills, coexisting with a barking dog (who I share a love/hate relationship with- ask the dog, she would agree), scheduling doctor appointments, filling out school forms, buying school supplies, doing laundry, going to the grocery store ... oh, the list goes on. I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK!! I feel like the little kid that doesn't want to leave the toy store, or the man who just won the jackpot and is standing in Home Depot, or the woman who won a shopping spree on Park Avenue.

Our vacation was phenomenal. We arrived on a Sunday and stayed for a week in a condo with a beautiful pool. The weather was gorgeous every day and we were next to the ocean. Temperatures were in the low 90's and the ocean temperature was 84 degrees. We arrived on Sunday and around Thursday evening I started to fall into a depression (SEVERE). I started crying (secretly, of course) on Friday.

There was no easy way to drown out my return-to-Baltimore sorrow, so I did the most wise thing a mom could do while riding home in the family mini van- I started eating disgusting foods (but oh, so tasty to me). While in Corolla, North Carolina, I discovered a tasty little Outer Banks treat- canned boiled peanuts. I just popped the top and ate them cold and wet, right out of the can (well two cans, but who is counting). They are delicious! I added orange soda and sour cream potato chips to make a complete meal that I ate the whole way home. Need disgusting food combinations? Talk to me, the expert.

Flash forward two weeks...
There was no easy way out of this funk. It took a total of three weeks to pull out of the post-vacay depression, but I have something to look forward to now. In about 330 days, our family will be returning to the Outer Banks, so put the anti-depression meds away (until this time next year).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Girl Crush

Men, tune in, you might enjoy this. What exactly is a girl crush? Well, in this case, it is a woman interested in another woman. In the sexual sense, you ask? I guess it could be for someone else, but in my case it's just an intense interest.

Back in high school, in Alpharetta, Georgia, I had a girl crush on a friend of mine. She was smart, yet she didn't brag. She was a talented equestrienne who taught me how to ride my first horse. She did unique, different things than any other 17 year old female I knew. She went on hunting trips with her dad and actually did the hunting as well. Additionally, she worked on construction sites with her dad during the summer to earn extra cash. She knew how to wear cowboy boots and look good in them. She cared for her goats, chickens, and horses on the six acres where she lived with her family. She didn't live by other people's standards and she was attractive. Her life appeared so glamorous, original, and exotic.

Girls, I know you have known someone like this in your life. I simply wanted to immerse myself in her life and spend as much time with her as possible. Sometimes I wanted to BE her, if only for a little while. Been there?

Friday, May 30, 2008

Day Two: Alone With Kids

So, it is pretty much what you would expect. Yesterday was really tough, but there is always excitement and/or chaos depending on how you look at it, in our household. Today was your typical day- Ginger Snap refusing to eat, you know, anything. I often joke that she should eat air, but I don't think she would like the taste of that either. So, a half bowl of Rice Krispies for breakfast and a strawberry. Lunch consisted of about six spoonfuls of soup and a handful of Japanese rice crackers. She started to unravel around 2:00pm. Why? Well, Ginger Snap is HUNGRY!

We have pets - have I mentioned this before? Three cats and one dog to be exact. Marley, our dog, (named before the book or movie), has started her afternoon"incessant barking ritual". One of the cats decided that a blue?, yes blue, elastic hairband, would make a good snack. That was ejected along with whatever else was in her stomach- great fun! Sarah, our black cat has been licking the wall again-!?! (your guess is as good as mine). The third cat, Merle, is sleeping happily on my pillow- so good for someone with allergies and mild asthma.

Ginger Snap and I pick up Lightning from Kindergarten and from the start, it was all downhill. He was grumpy, hungry, and hot (as in dripping with sweat). All three of these adjectives lead to a toxic combination. I NEED A MARTINI and it's only 3:30pm!

The afternoon passes with "normal" household behaviors- two cats fighting, Marley chasing said cats, kids chasing Marley, Marley chasing kids. As Ginger Snap is running, she trips over Lightning's shoe and lands on her nethers (also known as the "V"). Ginger is making a screaming sound that is not even human. This all occurs while I am on the phone and in the process of inviting my sister in law to stay with us while she is in town. She kindly declines (I wonder why...).

After consoling Ginger Snap and her V, Lightning discovers a spider- announces he sees it and promptly stomps on it (another thing to clean up). He also discovered a small hole in the window screen in his bedroom which holds a pencil nicely (he showed me this proudly). And what do you know... it gets bigger when you put bigger things in it?

But the worst part of this time alone with my children is that my son celebrated his sixth birthday while my husband was away. It's not my husband's fault, and he wanted to be there, but it was sad. Lightning said he understood- we were going to wait to open all of his presents on the weekend when Daddy was back in town. I wanted to give him one gift to tide him over until the weekend. So, I selected a car that he could build, and wouldn't you know that when we opened the package, it was damaged and missing all of the wheels? Oyvey!

Later that night after the kids went to bed, I had my martini (dirty with an olive and worth every sip).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Skank For A Day

Skank - noun. A person and especially a woman of low or sleazy character.
Ever have one of these? Oh Puhleeze. Yes, you have. I knew I was going to be a skank mom today when I saw the red spot on my cornea and my eyes hurt to blink. Oh no! This means I won't be able to wear my contact lenses and, even worse, eye makeup. Prepare yourself everyone... a scary version of myself is emerging. Without makeup I typically have people ask me if I am 1) sick, 2) crying, 3) tired. NO PEOPLE it's just that my eyelashes are blonde and therefore you cannot see them without eyeliner and mascara. It's going to be a long day.

So, to reflect the look of a skank I have found it necessary to carry the character from head to toe. Let's start with the hair - yuck! I washed it last night, yet today it looks three days old. It's not straight or wavy... today it's stravy (also known as "not pretty"). Next let's move on the outfit. Note my "fashionable" gray sweat suit (too large) and stained running shoes. There is a quarter size grease stain on one leg and the pants bunch in the back where the drawstring is cinched. This could potentially be flattering, making my tummy look small; however, it makes my backside look like two rumpled watermelons. Should I point out that this outfit is on day three - suweeet! Why take something off that can easily be worn to bed? Underwear? Nah. That just gets in the way. It's amazing that I am wearing a bra- let's not go there (only disappointment follows). Nice visual, huh?

I'm even eating like a skank (at least this is what I think). Hold the protein today. It's only soda, Reese's peanut butter cups, and Andy Capp's Cheddar Fries for me. No need to work out when living like a skank.

My confidence stems from the fact that I know I look frightful and I stare you in the face and dare you to tell me. I've gotten so angry with my skankiness that I am haughty and self-righteous. Yeah, that's right. I'm a skanky bitch today. What are you going to do about it?

Okay. That's through now. Can someone help me find my mascara and contact lenses? I want to be pretty again.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Noise Hiatus

I have a fantasy. No, no don't get the wrong idea. This fantasy has nothing to do with frothy, little black undies and a corset, although that's not a bad idea. It has everything to do with solitude and quiet... rich, velvety, thick silence. The simple requirement for this fantasy includes a one-night stay in a hotel (or two nights, or three...). Once in the room, the goal is not to get off of the bed - order room service, write, organize two year's worth of photos, watch a movie, check out websites, etc. Food is also part of the fantasy - room service that will include some kind of seafood, wine, salad, and a really rich, fatty dessert.

Our household consists of only two children; however, we also have 3 cats and a dog. The noise is continuous in our home. The kids start fighting at which point our Australian Shepherd jumps in on the act and starts barking (loudly). Of course the cats don't like this so usually at least one cat takes off running at which point our dog will begin pursuit. I am usually somewhere in the middle yelling (at what, I don't know). The kids calm down or go into timeout and peace is resolved until the next fight breaks out. We have moments of peace in the house, but they are all too short lived.

One might think that things are quieter after dark, and they are; however, this is when the night noises begin. My daughter tends to wake up at least once almost every night - bad dreams, bathroom visits, thirsty, hot... and when my son is sick, he often coughs for several hours throughout the night. Additionally, the cats will brawl downstairs after the lights are out.

I am home practically 100% of the time with the kids and I need a "noise hiatus". I just want to hear my thoughts (I think). Can anyone relate?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Golden Check List

Okay, so I am approaching 40 years of age (not there yet, but it is looming). I actually think 45 is going to be harder to handle, but 40 is the next "big one" for me. So, I have been thinking about the things-I-want-to-do-before-I-am-too-old-to-do-them also known as The Golden Check List. Honestly I don't think I am going to feel "old" until 70 or so (and hopefully not even then). So, let's get right to it. My list includes:

- Get published. I have been working on a children's book for almost three years now and I am dabbling with creative non-fiction
- Go to the Macy's Day Parade in New York
- Attend any of these fun shows - Saturday Night Live, David Letterman (closed for the writer's strike when in New York in December 2007), Conan O'Brien, or Oprah
- Parasail
-Go to Disney World. Can you believe I lived in Florida for 7 years during my college days and I never visited Disney World? I have only been one time (when I was about 10 years old).
- Go to New Braunfels, Texas to visit Schlitterbahn (the 'World's Best Water Park 2007').
- Go to a topless beach - do I want to BE topless? Gee, I don't know. I will have to size up the beach competition first. Hopefully this will occur in someplace exotic. I don't want anyone I know to size up my B cups.
- Stay in a cabin in Colorado with my family and go skiing. I went skiing one time with my 8th grade class for a day trip. Kind of ironic because I lived in Georgia at the time and currently I live in Maryland. I don't even own a snow suit!
- GO TO EUROPE!!! I have never been to Europe. The only "foreign" locales have been Montego Bay, Jamaica; and Tiajuana, Mexico (do not reccommend this location to anyone). The list of desired locations include Greece, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, India, Australia, and Austria.
- Go on a family vacation to Canada.
- Go on a family trip to a tropical, foreign location such as St. Thomas, Ocho Rios, and/or St. Lucia.
- Jump out of an airplane (this is a 40th desire)
- Wear a thong on a beach (probably best in an exotic locale where the likelihood of seeing anyone I know will be nil). This may not go over well in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. I will also have to give advance notice to onlookers regarding my pasty whiteness. What's that glare on the beach, you ask? Oh, that's just my ass reflecting light.

This is just a starter list. Have any thoughts?