Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Air-conditioned tents in the desert?

Last week I was running a few errands with NPR's Science Friday on. I'm a bit of an NPR junkie, which is probably a good thing, since my taste in music is admittedly a little questionable these days.

The discussion that day was centered around U.S. Military energy use. The conversation came around to insulating the tents in Iraq and Afghanistan. Apparently, we place standard canvas tents in the desert and then spend over 1 billion dollars a year in fuel, 11,000 trucks worth, to air-condition them.

We are air-conditioning tents in the desert. Canvas tents. In the desert.

So the guest was discussing how he'd commissioned a team to come up with an insulation technique, something about spraying foam over the tents, to reduce these costs.

It doesn't matter whether you agree with the war(s) or not, air-conditioning a leaky old school canvas tent in the desert is about as ridiculous as, well, I can't think of anything more ridiculous. So instead of stopping the practice, we crazy Americans come up with a work around. And then, we pat ourselves on the back for it.

It bothered me for days.

So then I started thinking about my own air-conditioned tent in the desert. You know, that thing that I am doing where I find myself trying to come up with some crazy work-around (foam spray? really?) but is really only a problem I've created myself.

I'm pretty sure it is social media. Facebook, blogs, online news, and all the other 140 - 300 - 500 blocks of crap that I am filling my brain with. Now that I am serious about reading and writing, I am finding that it is hard to get my brain to focus on things. Just about a week ago I told a friend of mine that I seriously don't think I am as smart as I used to be. But something tells me that really isn't it.

My tent popped up from loneliness. Being at home is hard for me. Not because of the presence of the kids but more from the absence of adults. So I post status updates on facebook. I blog. I read other blogs. I poke around websites looking for a little something to break up the day. But the internet is, after all, the desert, so of course, bring on the air - the content - which is nothing really. Crank it up. Still nothing. What a waste.

So I am thinking I need to get out of the desert, abandon the mission. But like the occupation of Iraq, its' complicated, and I can't just leave all at once.

Or can I?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Start spreadin' the news

Girlie and I are NYC bound!

Tickets to the Radio City Music Hall holiday show, Rockefeller center ice skating, 5th Ave windows, FAO Schwartz, and as much fun as we can cram into a two night stay.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

But they're damn cute...




Since my blog has been more mental than Momma lately, thought I'd share a couple of pics.

These were taken in the spring, at the Phoenix Botanical Gardens, just before we moved from Phoenix.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaNoWriNOMO

Finished the last 1000 or so words this morning and folks, it was painful. I do feel proud of myself for finishing something I set out to do, but I swear I will never ever do it again.

Though I did manage to hit the 50,000 mark, I didn't end up with a novel, or anything close to it. I have a storyline, some characters, and a ton of really forgettable dialogue. This isn't me being modest, I really don't think this project produced anything exciting, though it does have a beginning and and end.

Was it worth the time? Absolutely, but not for the writing itself. By sticking with it, I did get a better feel for the discipline required to actually produce anything substantial. I think I improved my speed and gained some needed confidence along the way. I went into this as more of an exercise of toughness, to prove to myself that I had the sticktoitness to be serious about writing, and in that way, it was a total success.

Now that I have finished, I can get back to the smaller moments, the little beautiful bits of writing that I am hoping will lead me to bigger things. I am working on a series of short stories. I'd like to get ten or so under my belt before tackling the novel again.

If you liken the experience to running a marathon, the next 6K should feel a ton easier and more rewarding now. And eventually, when I get back to it, I'm hoping run the full thing and cross the finish line without gasping for air as I collapse into the gatorade stand.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Permission slip

Maybe it's because I was raised in the south or that I'm fast approaching middle age, but yes, lately I seem to be a little slow in catching on to things.

I started getting serious about writing a few years ago, and with a few exceptions, have been writing almost daily since. This process started with pages and pages of secret writing that no one will ever see, thankfully. But I have been working at it, and I am finally at the point with some of my fiction where I feel like what I am doing is even worth showing people. This week, I brought a short story to class and people really responded to it. I have some things to work out, and I will be rewriting it, but I feel like I am finally getting somewhere. It was only a short story, just around 6000 words long, and it took a few months to get it right. Really, it took two years. Writing is a very slow process.

But that's not the slow part I was referring to. This whole time I've been writing fiction I think I've been waiting for someone to tell me that I had "approval" to continue. I thought that there would be a very clear sign that I had some talent, or enough talent, to keep at it. I thought that there would be some climatic moment that would legitimize what has been up until this point, a hobby. So the funny thing is, even with the positive feedback on my story, there wasn't a time when someone jumped up and said "by God, you have to continue." Shocking, how long it has taken me to get this.

So, yeah, I am working on this permission thing for myself.

This is really hard for me, mostly because I have this practical side. Because I know that sticking with this will not make my family more financially comfortable and that success, whatever that is in this thing, may not happen. I am pretty used to being able to get somewhere by just working hard at it. But to give myself permission, and that's what I have to do, I have to embrace the magic a little.

Believing in writing is like believing in fairies or unicorns. Nice ideas, but c'mon, really? It reminds me of Girlie, who probably at this point realizes that there is no real Santa Claus, but chooses for a little while longer, to believe anyway. So like my little girl, I have to make the leap, believe the unbelievable, even though I know better, and just give myself permission to really go for it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful

This year I am thankful for the fullness.

A neighborhood full of friends.
A city full of possibilities.
A glass of wine, full.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Cops and donuts

Spotted a group of older women in what looked like police uniforms at my local Dunkin Donuts.

"Are you policewomen?" I ask.

"Meter maids," one of them replies.

"You should get the four for twenty dollars." another says, pointing to the pound of coffee I picked up to take to Hubs' uncle in Maine. "It's a much better deal."

Hmm, I think, maybe a pound of this here hazelnut will make that parking ticket disappear. I glance at the maids (or wait, isn't it matrons?). Black coffees, all around. They won't go for it. Next time, I think I'll grab the dark roast.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Mile 20

Today I hit around 36,000 words on my 50,000 word goal, or in marathon terms, around mile twenty. I can say, honestly, that I have no idea how I have gotten this far. The writing, after the first week, has been tedious and painful. Most of it will have to be scrapped. But I am okay with that (sort of).

At the beginning of this month, I set out to hit the NaNoWriMo goal, and barring anything crazy, I should be able to do that. During the last few days, I have started typing as fast as possible, writing for the shear joy of it, not editing myself a bit. I won't have a novel at the end of this. I might have the rough draft of a really bad series romance. Sandpaper rough. Heavy grit.

Still, I have learned that it takes absolute discipline to produce anything of any volume. That a reasonable word count for writing fiction (when you can't spend the entire day doing it) is, for me, around 500- 800 words per day. That I have to turn off all social media for some part of the day to stick with it. That writing is a really lonely job.

The experience has given me hope. Next year, I'm going to start on a real novel with a realistic timeframe. As for NaNoWriMo, I don't think I'll ever do it again.

Probably.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Deck the malls

I get a ton of email from Pottery Barn, West Elm and the like. Usually I just ignore, then delete them, but something caused me to click on a recent one from Pottery Barn Kids. It seems that they will be hosting holiday sing-a-long's in the stores December 1st - 3rd. Huh?

Caroling at the mall store? What then?

Oh, right. We'll roast marshmallows in the little faux fireplace.

Makes perfect sense.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Free at last, not so much

So I was out both Monday and Tuesday night this week. The first for my writing class and the second for a reading. The writing class was held on a different day from our usual time and there wasn't space available at Grub Street, so we met next door at a restaurant/bar. The second night meetup was a reading that happened to be at a bar too.

So there I was, bar hopping two nights in one week, one right after the other, just like the old days. Then Wednesday night rolled around and I felt a little down. It wasn't as much the scene or the drinks (there were only a few) or any of that, but the freedom of even having the choice to do it, that I found myself missing. The freedom I had before having children.

Girlie will be nine in March. I can still clearly remember, one evening very shortly after bringing her home from the hospital, thinking wow, I can't just get up and walk out of the house by myself right now. And it's not just the big nights, like the ones this week, which now require a babysitter or some mass evacuation level coordination with Hubs. It's the little nights. Like realizing at 10 PM while programming the coffee maker that I have run out of half and half. Kids tucked in upstairs, Hubs out of town, so I'll be drinking black coffee in the morning. I hate black coffee.

Yes, these are selfish desires, and it's probably worse for me lately because Hubs has been traveling for work so much. It's one of those things where I can step outside myself and see a list of reasons why it is okay, even good, that my life is this way.

But, nine years already. I wonder when I'll get over it.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cheers

Last night I went to a short story reading at Bukowski's in Cambridge (no, I am not linking it because you people have ADD already, so stay with me, it's a bar, and maybe, I am a little lazy). There was a contest, which I did not enter, but a few of my friends had. The first place winner got $2500. The third place winner got steak knives.

We got there to find a line outside. It felt like some kind of club situation or a concert, except the people in line had on the chunky glasses and the quirky haircuts and a few were reading, you know, books, while waiting to get into a bar. The reading started with the third place winner. It was an irreverent bit about a guy who had mistakingly researched the wrong person's bio for a writing pitch. Afterward he finished reading it, the crowd roared. They cheered. They clinked glasses. Over a short story.

There were two more really good stories. More cheering. Seriously, I though maybe the Sox were on (I know, wrong season) or the Pats (possible but, on a Tuesday night?). People were that excited. It was crazy.

There should be more events where people scream over good writing. That, and I love Boston.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Toast

I am hovering just below the halfway mark on my writing project. After today, the number of words left to do will be less than the number of words already done. Last night, I hung out for a few minutes chatting with a couple of women in my writing class. I came home feeling excited, completely immersed in the whole experience, writing, talking to other new writers, thinking about my short story for class, thinking about the novel project.

I got home, it was late, around 11 PM, to find that Little Guy was wide awake. This is a rare occurrence, in fact, I can't think of the last time it happened. He's starting to sleep without diapers, the final stage of the whole potty training saga, and he'd had an accident. I paid the sitter, and then changed sheets, changed him, found him a dry pillow (no idea why that was wet too), and then shuffled myself off to bed much later than I'd hoped. Too late, in fact, to get up as early as I needed to today. So I am behind on the writing goal.

Being a parent means buttering the perfect slice of toast for yourself and then handing it to your child who has just informed you that he or she is, after consuming a huge breakfast, still hungry. I get that. I can't expect to come home and bask in the glory of the writing thing every time. I have small children, little human beings who have accidents and nightmares and fevers.

So, as is often the case, I'm still a little hungry. I want this writing thing to work for me. Today I'll have to pop another slice in the toaster (or another video in the DVD player), and just keep trying.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Get down get down...

Today the weather is great, sunny and almost sixty, so we're trying to soak it in while it lasts. I am almost finished with the winter gear shopathon. I finally settled on a long down coat and it's really not that ugly. I still need boots for me and gloves for Girlie.

They say it usually doesn't snow until December, but occasionally it will.

I say bring it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Week two and weepy

So I have a confession to make. On Wednesday, I cried about my writing project.

You remember, NaNoWriMo, the novel writing contest with no prize?

It was going really well, until the beginning of week two. I had about 16,000 words in and suddenly felt like quitting. The beginning of a story is fun to write. It is the setup, describing the places, the invention of characters, before you have to make anything really happen. Some really good writing comes out during this period. You start to believe that you are brilliant. Really, you do. The next bestselling author, even.

And then the story starts and it has to go somewhere. All of the writing is supposed to turn into a book. You know, with a beginning (easy), a middle (whups), and an end (crap).

I've written short stories, but I have never completed a larger piece. My goal with this contest is to get the rough draft (really rough) material for a novel. I want to do it and yet I am afraid that I can't. That I won't be able to. So yes, I shed a few tears.

And then I talked to Hubs about it. And then I got an idea about what to write next.

And then I just got on with it. This morning I hit the 20,000 word mark. Just 5000 away from half way there. I am sticking with it.

And keeping the box of tissues handy, just in case.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A sad little ditty, sung to the tune of a Taylor Swift song

The other day I was in the car, listening to Taylor Swift. Shocking, I know, or maybe not, but either way, I have an eight year old daughter, so I am exposed to this particular kind of bubble gum teenie pop on a regular basis. I know the words to several of these girlie Disney backed tunes, though luckily in most cases I wouldn't be able tell you the name of the artist, and my guess is that it doesn't matter, in about five minutes, they won't be around anyway.

But Taylor Swift kind of sticks with me a little, and I hum along, even when my kid isn't in the car. Don't judge. I can relate to the angsty teenaged love stuff. I used to be that girl.

I think, as I approach middle age (forty in two years, and as these youngsters say, OMG), what's really missing from my life is a soundtrack. There aren't any songs that fit my particular struggles, so I feel pretty isolated. Nothing to make me swoon at the sight of my weary husband coming in at the end of a three day business trip. Nothing about the burned pork chops or the bleary middle of the night bedside calls (from the kids, not the Hubs). Nothing about the worries about ever being able to afford anything fun again (Girlie's new front teeth? Hello orthodontist, let me just donate a kidney first.). Nothing about the stress over re-entering the work force or watching the neighbor gals head off to work while I stay at home (she wears pencil skirts, I wear t-shirts).

Okay, maybe none of this stuff is song worthy. Does that mean there aren't any happy endings? Now I'm just depressing myself.

Time for another Taylor Swift song.

** Update: A very concerned friend called to stage an intervention. She claims that country music might solve this problem. I've never been a fan, but I agreed that I might be okay with the old stuff. She's promised a playlist with some Tammy Wynette.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wait! Don't jump!

I signed Little Guy up for weekly play group at a local gymnastics studio. The program, which runs twenty weeks, is all free play. I'm hoping this will help to get us through the winter when we both start getting cabin fever.

At this place, he can run and jump and swing from ropes. At no point during this hour is he required to sit in a circle and I never have to say stop running or slow down.

I love this place. I love it so much that when he asked, I actually jumped on a giant trampoline with him. It was fun for about two seconds, until I realized that every time I jumped, I was experiencing a little, um, leakage.

It isn't a total surprise. I've had two babies after all, and it happens when I sneeze. But jumping?

So yeah, like I said, I love this play group. Only now I'm not jumping up and down about it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Milestones

Last night, after I tucked Little Guy in bed, I heard some rumbling around in his room. I went in and all the lights were on. He'd taken off his pj's and fully dressed himself, underwear, shirt, pants zipped, the whole enchilada.

I admonished him for getting out of bed, but I had to smile at the same time. My Little Guy had just completely dressed himself for the first time. It hit me, at some point, I won't have to pull his pants up. One day, he'll even be able to wipe himself. As I pulled on his pj's again, and tucked him back in, again, I let myself imagine all of the extra things I might be able to do with the time I'll gain. I might blow dry my hair, or put mascara on both eyes, or even eat breakfast sitting down.

Wow.

Of course this morning, it was back to the old routine. But still.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Breaking the ice

Yesterday, Girlie and I started ice skating lessons. Girlie is the type of child who will stress out about trying anything new, especially anything somewhat physical. A week ago, it started. What if I fall? What if everyone can skate? What if I am the oldest one there? She'll work herself up, tears threatening to spill.

Yes, she wanted to do it, but worried her way through buying the skates, worried while getting ready to go (I need knee pads!), worried her way to the rink in the car. I was the same kind of kid. Though I can hide it, I am often the same kind of adult, so I get it. I have learned that it is pointless to try to convince her (or myself) not to worry, but I do talk to her about it. I remind her of other times when things turned out great. This time, I kept saying "let's just see."

A few weeks back Hubs and I went through a list of potential afterschool activities. The kids here seem to be in everything and though that sort of thing is completely not my parenting philosophy, I'll admit, I feel the tiniest bit of pressure to keep up. The options include the usual like soccer, dance, piano, art and foreign language classes, but also other things like Russian math (don't ask, I have a whole post about that coming soon, I thought the woman said Russian dance). Girlie already takes gymnastics, but I thought we might be able to add one more activity.

Then I got the flier for ice skating. "That's it." Hubs said.

He thought it would be fun and that since many of her friends have grown up here, she'd want to do it with them at some point. On a whim, I decided to take the class with her. We have separate classes, but go at the same time. Why not? I haven't been skating in years, and I thought it would be more fun to skate, than to sit on the benches, freezing my tushie off watching her do it. Plus I suck at sports, so Girlie thinks that girls don't do those things.

On the way over there, I was thinking it would either be awesome, or a total disaster.

Turns out it was awesome. I didn't fall once and I even learned how to stop without crashing into the wall. Girlie fell a few times, but was doing so well that they bumped her up to the orange group (whatever that means, she was happy about it). Afterwards we went for hot chocolate. We have nine more sessions to go. Nine more Sunday afternoon outings with just the two of us.

It is hard to raise a child who reminds me so much of myself. I can't help feeling guilty when she struggles with something new. I constantly have to work through my own crap just to make sure I'm not making it harder on her. I had a little speech prepared in my mind, of what I would say if she had a rough time of it, how I would get her to continue the classes anyway. So it was a huge relief that, this time, the lesson wasn't that hard to learn.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Orchestrating the origami pass

Girlie came home with a stack of books from the school library on making origami. She played around with it for a little while, then asked me to help her.

Folding and refolding paper into tiny little animal shapes? I took a peek at the instructions. First crease in paper half (easy enough),then turning, fold left edge to top, pulling concealed flap to front. Huh? Not my thing.

"Ask Daddy," I said, "he's really good at things like that." Hubs gave me the look. But he's been traveling, busy with work, and gone a ton lately.

I had him.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Doing it and over-doing it

I hit the first 10,000 word mark on the NaNoWriMo challenge yesterday. It seems to be going much easier this year. I feel really excited about how the story is coming together and I feel like I have a shot at hitting the 50,000 words. I do know, however, that the mid-way mark is lurking ahead, when the painfully slow writing starts. So I am charging ahead, but at the same time I feel like I am speeding towards the scene of an accident.

On a positive note, I've reached the point where the Halloween candy is starting to gross me out. I went the whole day yesterday without one single nibble.

Whew. Thank God that's over. Until the Christmas cookies...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Building character

I love the part, when writing something new, when the characters start to live with you. When you begin to think about them like they are real people. When you fall asleep with them and wake with them and walk around with entire conversations, their conversations, in your head.

Eventually, they get on your nerves. After a little bit of time, you hate them a little. The trick, as with any relationship, is to work through that place, and love them at the end, despite their obvious flaws.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Am I a "Gretchen"?

So Project Runway just finished up its 8th season. I don't watch very many shows, but for some reason I keep up with this one. I am pretty much down to this and Mad Men, and occasional episodes of Parenthood. I usually catch the shows on demand and my cable programmer hasn't picked up the finale yet, so I haven't seen it. I do know who the winner is, thanks to these here internets. Apparently, this year's winner is very controversial.

Collections aside, no one really liked this gal. Not the people on the show, not the people watching, maybe not even Tim Gunn. Her nickname was wretchen. The thing is, I really don't see what the big deal was. She was opinionated, but it seemed to me, to stem from her passion around design. From a fashion standpoint she had a really strong point of view.

On one show, she got stuck in one of those I should stop talking moments while standing up for a group project before being prodded by the judges to pick out a loser. She ended up completely contradicting herself, but in fairness, no one else spoke up either and they totally put her on the spot. There was another episode where the designers had to make clothes for Heidi Klum's new sports line, Gretchen mentions to Heidi, "I made what I thought was missing from the collection." During judging, Heidi got snippy. Who was Gretchen to tell her what was missing? An aspiring designer trying to bring something useful to the table, that's who.

Anyway, I am not one of those people to go on and on about a television show and we all know that reality programs are the opposite of real. But I found myself feeling sorry for this chick. She's a little outspoken, takes herself too seriously, likely to be the first person to speak in a group (a little too often), bossy, but also tenderhearted, and genuine, someone who tries to learn from her mistakes. Just like me.

Am I a Gretchen? Yikes.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wisdom from Walden Pond

Today I took a little field trip to Walden Pond. I thought, before I went, that it might be one of those places that wouldn't meet expectations. I was wrong. Of course, it is quite stunning. I don't think I have ever seen pond water quite so clear. In the south, the ponds are brackish, soupy.

And yes, the whole idea of Walden seems wonderful. The little cabin in the woods with a stove and a patch of beans and time to write. Before I had kids, it might have seemed a little too pioneeresque, too austere, but now I get it. Lock me up alone in the little house in the woods with my laptop and a case (or two) of wine. Not for two years certainly, but maybe for the weekend.

I walked the perimeter of the pond stopping at various vantage points to take in the scenery. Near the end of the loop there is a site near the original cabin, where people leave stones. A couple was there, placing stones in a little pile.

"Don't you want to leave yours with mine so they can be together?" The woman asked. The guy picked up his pile and put them around hers, making a little stack about three stones high.

"Are you sure you want to take that chance?" she asked, referring to the stack he'd made, "They might all fall." He shrugged and she reached down to rearrange his stack.

Geez lady, I thought, just let him put his rocks where he damn well pleases. And then I realized that the whole scenario, and the reason she irritated me, reminded me of myself.

Come closer, be with me, but do it on my terms.

I was thinking the whole way around the pond, that I wanted to come back with Hubs. Soon, before it gets too cold and just the two of us without the kids. Maybe I'll pack a picnic, some soup in a thermos, and show him the loop. I'll start us out in the direction so that the end of the path will take us to the cabin site, just so he gets the full experience, the building up to it.

But then, when we get there I'll give him his own space. I'll watch him pile his rocks anywhere he wants. Or not at all, that's okay too.

Come closer. Just be with me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Why can't we all just be smart?"

Writing might be making me fat. Okay, not the writing exactly, more like the hand stuffing cookies, tiny bits of halloween candy, bites of crackers, and whatever else happens to be nearby while I am writing, editing, rewriting. For the last few weeks, I've been working on a short story for my fiction class. I'll sit at the kitchen table pecking away at it and before I know it, bam, a half boxes of crackers is gonzo. Not to mention the sitting. See that's how you do it, sitting down. I've tried, but you can't write standing up. You can, however, write while eating snacks.

So the writing might be improving as the waistline is expanding. And this month I am staring down 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo. How many extra pounds does that equal?

It reminds me of a conversation I had with another writer friend about all the plastic surgery among women our age. We were wondering how these gals, also busy mothers, possibly had the time to maintain the teeth whitening, the botox, the highlights, the nails. "Why do we have to be pretty?" she lamented, "Can't we all just be smart?"

We can be smart. And our book jacket headshots can always be photoshopped.

Though, I might be getting a little ahead of myself.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Ready, set, write

So National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo starts today. 50,000 words in 30 days. Last year I made it to 30,000 and this year, I really want to get to the 50K.

I've had this idea for a book, started writing it, stopped, changed the voice, started again. Maybe it's not such a great story, but I am kind of stuck with it until I really get it down on paper. Anyway, I decided to start over on it. Same basic premise, keeping the title, but writing everything else from scratch and not reusing any of the old stuff (which is against the spirit of NaNoWriMo anyway). Maybe I will be able to get it out this time. And hey, don't you always read that a writer rarely gets his or her first book published. If I can finally knock out my first (albeit crappy) one, I'll just be that closer to brilliance.

I have a plan. Wish me luck.

Friday, October 29, 2010

They say it's your birthday...

It's my birthday too, yeah.

Okay, not really. My birthday's on Halloween.

But, alas, Halloween is all about the kiddos. Little Guy is going to be Buzz Lightyear (complete with cheesy store bought blow up wings, oh yeah, it's like that). Girlie is going to be a vampire (with silver sparkly spray on hair, probably the only time she'll be happy to have gray hair).

For a few weeks, the kids have both been off the hook about Halloween. We'll carve pumpkins and gather at the neighbors to eat pizza, and then head out for trick or treating. Sure, there will be a cake for me amid the festivities. Fun, but not the adult kind.

So I'm celebrating early (and late) starting with a date with Hubs tonight. We're gonna have a good time...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The countdown: rinse & repeat style...

No. Today isn't Halloween.

Nope. Not tomorrow either.

Uh uh. A few more days.

What? No, I said a few more days.

How many?

Three.

Three more days. Count them on your fingers. Like this see- 1 -2 - 3.

No you can't put on your costume.

Because.

I just told you today isn't halloween.

No, tomorrow isn't Halloween.

No, we can't open the candy today.

Because it's not Halloween yet!!

What? No, not tomorrow either.

What am I going to be?

An annoyed Mommy.

I said an annoyed Mommy.

Nevermind.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fiction class

Arrange for the sitter, get dinner ready, make sure Girlie's homework is done, pre-pack lunches for the next day, make sure Little Guy has clean PJs, walk the dog, have some cash on hand, read and thoughtfully comment on the pieces. I feel like a conductor, warming up each section, hoping it will all come together. The concert starts Tuesdays at 5:30 sharp.

It is all worth it as soon as my foot hits the sidewalk. I walk to the train. On the subway, I pretend to read while I eavesdrop on conversations. The classes are held across from the Public Gardens, just down the street from Emerson College. The streets are filled with people rushing to the trains after work and college students who move in slow packs, because they're in no hurry. I tuck into the crowd, anonymous, on my own path. I walk quickly and my footsteps are surprisingly light without the children in tow. I enter the building, ride up the ancient elevator (there's a sign that says to make sure the emergency switch is fully up, or the elevator won't operate), and find my place at the table, usually in the same seat, but not always. I listen and read aloud and share my opinion. People listen to me. At the end of it, I come home, walk through dark streets to my house.

And then I sit wide awake, like tonight, not able to sleep from the excitement of it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dude, pull up your pants...

So Little Guy is finally potty trained, knows when he has to go, rarely has accidents, etc. It didn't take as long as I thought it would. In the end, an enormous (and expensive) talking Buzz Lightyear sealed the deal. My youngest is out of diapers, now that's something. Of course, it can never be too easy.

He strips from the waist down every time, so I always have to completely re-dress him. But that isn't the worst of it, because whenever he's outside and has to pee, he seems to think it makes perfect sense to just drop his pants and go. Anytime, anywhere, rain or shine. Not too embarrassing in the backyard, but at the park or when we're walking the dog or taking out the trash...

yeah.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Easy

So I zipped in to pick Little Guy up from preschool yesterday after spending the better part of the day at Grubstreet. As I mentioned previously, I attended the screening of a documentary followed by a discussion, all around women and the sacrifices required to pursue artistic careers. The film was inspiring, but also as my friend Paige put it, a little depressing. On a side note, there is always some completely crazy person at these writing events. Not crazy, like wow I'm a busy Mom, but crazy, like sedate me and lock me up in the looney bin. I'm not going to think too hard about why some nutjob always shows up in these groups. Really. I'm not.

Anyway, Little Guy loves his school. During pick up and drop off, he's all smiles. It was tough for me to decide to send him two full days (as opposed to several half days). Its expensive and he definitely doesn't nap as well there. But he seems really happy (happy enough, that I'd love to send him three days, but it's a little out of the budget, universe are you listening). I've been getting a ton more writing done on the days he is gone and, like yesterday, attending some events that I hope will help me belong to a writing community.

When I got there, he ran across the room screaming "Moooooommmyy!" and hugged me really tight. He planted a huge kiss on my cheek. Dropping him a full day has been better than fine, good even.

This motherhood thing is so complicated. Or maybe I am making it that way.

Because, sometimes, it just isn't.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Who Does She Think She Is?

Today I am heading down to Grubstreet to attend a screening of Who Does She Think She Is? The film is about the obstacles mothers are faced with when pursuing a career. There will be a discussion afterwards led by Jane Roper, of Baby Squared.

This is a topic near and dear to my heart, something I've been thinking about a great deal lately. It is no secret that motherhood, or parenthood (let's include the Dads here too) isn't easy. It isn't supposed to be and really, I find most of the discussions of just how hard it is to be incredibly boring (unless they're funny, then bring it on, we all need a good commiserative laugh). Yes, you have to make tough choices. Often. Having a baby completely changes everything.

What I do find interesting is that men seem to have an easier time weathering the transition. They usually able to stick to the same career path. They don't cut hours, switch jobs, or reduce expectations for themselves.

There are always exceptions, but in my situation, we chose a pretty traditional approach. My career took second stage when we had kids. I left my corporate position. The plan was for me to work some sort of flexible job, or not at all, until our youngest child (we planned for 1 or 2) was in kindergarten. I opened a store, I started writing, all things that could work around the family situation. This is the part where I should tell you how much I love my kids and how the sacrifice has been worth it. Duh. Of course I love them.

We are two years away from Little Guy starting kindergarten and I am working to fully come to terms with the fact that my original plan was ridiculous. To be successful at a corporation (and I'd want to be), I'd need to go back to putting in the 10-12 hour days, working late into the evening, not to mention nailing down an MBA. The truth is that, because of the kids, and the way I am choosing to raise them, I will never be able to return to the career I had before. And to top it off, Hubs' career has now become more demanding and he travels a good bit, so someone needs to be home. He also makes more money that I will be able to upon re-entry, which means that I will likely be the one juggling the appointments, the sick days, etc. Taking a step back was my always my choice, but I'm not sure I understood the longer term implications.

The path I have taken is the same for many of the mothers I know. A lawyer friend took reduced hours (and got knocked off the partner track), a doctor took an administrative position, a writer became an editor (not that editing is less demanding, but the hours were more conducive to family life, and this gal loves to write). Some of the women I know, women with advanced degrees and tons of talent, have stopped working entirely. Yet I can't think of one man in our circle who has done that. Why is that?

So the question is not about equality, I think we've gotten way past that. The question seems to be about whether it is more wrong for a woman to choose career over family than it is for a man to make the same decision. And why, when the time comes, isn't it just as likely that one OR the other will take a step back?

Is motherhood that different from fatherhood? Does it have to be? Maybe.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What's in store

Something about October always makes me miss having a store. Probably because this was the month when all of the good stuff came in and I would spend every waking second on merchandising. By November 1st, the displays would be loaded, not just with holiday merchandise, but with the best of the best of everything we carried, and a few surprises. The holiday season is when people splurge, so setting the stage with that mentality was always fun.

I spotted an empty retail space in Wellesley last week, so I've been tossing around store names. They're all horrible, but that's okay. I've got some time to work on it. We opened our last place without financing, but real estate is crazy expensive around here, so that isn't likely to happen any time soon.


So I am not working on holiday displays, but this week I decorated our front door for Halloween. I gathered some branches from our yard and made an arch over the doorway, draped a dollar bag of spider cotton over it, and hung some skulls. I love how it turned out a little Day of the Dead.

You'll notice that we still don't have pumpkins. We went to a farm this weekend, but the ones there weren't very inspiring. The best ones I've seen so far are at Trader Joes, so that might end up being our pumpkin picking excursion this year.

I keep telling myself that this non-working time in my life is just a season. Like Halloween, it will soon be over and I'll be on to the next thing. For now I'm writing some decent fiction and reading a ton. I'm just beginning to figure out new freelance opportunities. The kids are settled and we have enough of everything, even without me working.

It's really not the actual situation that bothers me, as much as the not knowing what's in store for the future. And that's just silly, isn't it? None of us really know.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Down, from head to toe

I've started coat shopping. I have coats of course, but not real coats. I have boots, but not real boots. And my cute knit Anthro hat? I am pretty sure it won't get me past November.

So the process has begun. To be warm enough, I am pretty sure I am going to have to get a little ugly. The first trip through the coat racks didn't go so well, I left the store with a lovely calf length gray leopard wool dress coat and a pretty pair of red gloves.

Not very practical, but so fabulous. And I will need it for a fancy night out, right? You know, because with the two kids, I have a ton of those on the horizon.

I might need a winter-vention.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Happy Holidays?

This week the temperature has been in the mid-fifties during the day and in the high forties at night, just like Thanksgiving in Georgia or Christmas in Arizona. I have a strange urge to pop a turkey in the oven.

This will be our first winter in Boston and we've been trying to be proper New Englanders about the weather. That means no complaining (early on anyway, I hear in March all bets are off), and no turning on the heat this early. Or so we thought. After a quick poll of the neighborhood, turns out everyone turned on the heat two days ago. Why didn't we get the memo?

We have radiators and it only took a few minutes to take the chill out of the air. I love radiator heat. Love it so much I could hug it. Except I can't hug it, of course, because ouch. But seriously, radiant heat is toasty. I am sure there are some practical reasons why everyone has gotten rid of it. Like those horrible glare-ish light bulbs we all have to switch to by 2014 (and I might be hoarding the old bulbs, but that's another post), forced air heat is probably more efficient somehow, but the old fashioned way just feels nicer. And as a bonus, the pipes heat up the basement.

I took a peek at the forecast and it looks like it isn't going to warm up again. Until March. Or April. Maybe I'll pretend it's one long ongoing holiday season.

Cookie anyone?


Friday, October 15, 2010

Lost

I have always had a pretty good sense of direction. If I've been somewhere once, I can usually remember how to get back, and if I have a general idea of where something is, I can find it. My brain just works that way.

I wish I could apply that characteristic, and my confidence in it, to my life. Lately I have been worrying about the whole back to work situation. The plan is that I will go back again when Little Guy starts kindergarten, which is two years away. There are some things I need do to prepare for that. Freelance writing? Back to school? MFA? Retail? Start my own business again or work for a corporation? There are many options, but I am a little lost.

Left or right? Full or part-time?

I think I need a map.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Eight is enough


Girlie is at the perfect age. If I could figure out a way to freeze her at 8, I might be tempted to do it. The spot-on commentary,the endless supply of positive energy, the gaps in her smile where the teeth are missing, the hair long and natural and curling at the ends, the snarky but not too snarky sense of humor. Last week , she finally learned to turn a cartwheel at gymnastics. She's fantastic really.

I read to both of the kids every night before bed. Since Girlie likes older books (we're halfway through the Narnia series), I read to them individually. More often than not, Hubs is out of town and by the time I get to her, I have wrestled Little Guy through the dinner, bath, PJs, teeth, books, bed thing and I am completely exhausted.

On my way to her room at night, I almost always wish I could skip reading to her. She's old enough to shower, jump into PJ's, and do the whole routine herself. She can read to herself too, and often does. So I almost always think about bagging on the book time and heading for the couch to spend a little time with Don Draper and a brimming glass of cabernet. But then, I get to her room and there she is with that little gappish smile and I can't. I don't.

Sometimes we talk after the books. Last night she told me about a boy in her class. She's not old enough to like any of them yet, but this guy sits at her lunch table and she says he's pretty nice. What makes him nice I ask? She tells me that he's a good listener, you know, for a boy. I tell her I do know.

Can we just stick with eight?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My family might be driving me to drink

My sister in law and her husband are in town visiting for a few days, sans kids, so I stopped at the package store to pick up beer and wine. Since you have to make a separate trip, as in you can't buy it at the grocery store, I always buy in bulk. Here's how it went down when I wheeled up with a cartload.

Checkout gal: "Having a party?"
Me: "Oh no, just some family in town."
Checkout gal: "I hear that."

Monday, September 20, 2010

The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but something I made up

So I am sitting here while Little Guy naps taking a break from trying to bang out a short story for my class. For this class, we each get to workshop two pieces - the process of which involves crafting a short fiction piece to be taken home, read, and ripped to shreds by the group only to be followed up the next week by a 45 minute in-class discussion about it's suckiness.

I sit in the next to last seat at the table, a full twelve spots from where the sign up sheet started, so I was lucky enough to get a slot for this week, the second week of class. Of course I want my writing to be read and ripped, because I want it to be better, or maybe really really good, or at least to suck less.

Either way, I am committed, so that is what I have been spending my spare time on these days, back to the crack of dawn writing in the wee dark morning hours and some editing during naps. Today I have been working in the playroom which sits on the side of the house where my neighbors are in the last stages of a kitchen renovation so I am writing to the tune of a tile saw punctuated with bursts of Russian. It's fantastic really.

I say all of this to say that writing fiction puts my head into another place. A good place, but also somewhere that makes writing non-fiction, even blogging, a little difficult. So you won't hear from me as much around here. Because I will be busy writing things like

So there was an inevitable association between them that comes about when two people in the same small town fall victim to the same shitty circumstances.

As you can see, I really need to get back to it.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Don't tell anyone

There's this line in Broadcast News - what do you do if your real life exceeds your dreams?

The answer? Keep it to yourself.

Living in the Boston burbs, eavesdropping on the T, writing fiction, waking up in the perfect neighborhood, leaf peeping trips through New Hampshire, craft beer at the Biltmore, walking to get coffee... but then again, maybe I AM dreaming.

Don't wake me up though.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Back to school

As I write this, I am listening to the end of summer. In Massachusetts, the kids don't go back until after Labor Day, so they have been swimming and biking and running through the sprinkler and eating huge slices of watermelon. Even now, at dusk, there are a half dozen children in my backyard squeezing every last second out of the last day. Yesterday we had a barbeque and I wore white pants. My neighbor made sangria and we had an evening fire. All in all it has been a good send off.

Tomorrow school starts, and fall will follow, with all of its responsibilities. Finish your homework. Bring a jacket. Get the chimney checked. Rake the leaves. Order firewood.

Tomorrow is a bit of a false start really. Girlie only has a half day and she's off Thursday for Rosh Hashanah. Next week will be the real deal for her and for me too. I start a fiction class which will hopefully help me reign in all the crazy or possibly, let it all out. I've been writing a little, working on a new short story, but I am looking forward to the accountability of a ten week class. Little Guy will have two full days of preschool each week, so I will have some writing time. Serious writing time.

Girlie has her first day outfit picked out and a new backpack with a perfect pink notebook inside it. My new beginning isn't quite as well accessorized. But I am excited all the same.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Picture this

I've been having the bloggity blahs lately.

It's been building up, but then I stumbled on a blog the other day that sealed it. I can't remember how I got there. I can't even find the link now. But there it was, some woman blogging about apple picking, with every shot styled like a cross between Anthropologie and Pottery Barn kids.

And I realized I'm over it.

I don't care if this gorgeous bohemian chic woman and her two perfect children picked apples and made perfect pies. I don't want to know how she sewed burlap sacks to carry the apples home. I don't care how her house is decorated. I don't care about her stupid mixed breed dog and his jaunty little scarf.

Today my neighbor brought me flowers. I bought some too, so I made her a small arrangement, mixing the two. I want her to like me.

You, I really don't care about.

You don't know me (unless you do, then of course I want you to like me, a lot).

I'm no goddess, I am a regular person. I make beautiful flower arrangements and on occasion, really ugly pies. And you'll just have to picture that in your mind, if you want to. Because I'm not taking any damn pictures.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Special delivery

So I'm not ready to let some strange guy touch my breasts, but I'm okay if he gives my bread a little squeeze.

I finally took the plunge and got my first grocery delivery today. It could be life changing. I despise grocery shopping. There always seems to be too much of everything and the process of choosing catsup or salad dressing, or even cereal is exhausting. This is especially true in the larger stores, and getting through a big shop with Little Guy these days is almost impossible. So I decided to do a large portion of my shopping online and have it delivered. Pasta, juice, milk, the stuff I buy every week will now arrive at my doorstep.

From the privacy and comfort of my own home, I browsed the aisles, read all of the ingredients, looked up my favorites, and made a permanent list that I can click on next week. I'll still shop my own meats and produce, stuff I want to touch, in person, but it should go so much faster. And the best part is, when I run out of something, I can add it to the list right away. This works great for stuff I don't buy often, like saran wrap.

There is a small fee, but I think I will save money in the end by avoiding the impulse buys and random crap the kids occasionally talk me into. Plus, I'll double up on non-perishables, so I'll get the most out of my delivery money. The only down side is that they package everything in those plastic grocery bags, so I'll have to find a way to recycle them.

I feel like I've uncovered some magic secret. Now if I could only wave my wand over the laundry...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Clothing (not) Optional

Okay, I've been saving this one.

A few weeks ago there was a knock on the door. I opened it to find a delivery guy holding a gorgeous flower arrangement. Hubs was out of town and I immediately got all giddy.

Except they weren't for me.

Sure enough, the flowers had my address, but a name I didn't recognize. I sent the guy away and texted Hubs (sniff).

The following week, I opened the front door and tripped over a giant box of chocolate brownies. Of course, I didn't immediately know that they were brownies, that part came later. Again, not addressed to me, but interestingly addressed to the same person from the previous week.

This time I called the name of the company on the box and explained the situation. They told me to keep the box, which they explained was full of (perishable) brownies and cookies, they'd figure it out and resend it. After opening the box, and doling out a few brownies to the swarming horde, I found a pack slip with another phone number. I called that number and left a message.

Fast forward to dinnertime, I've got dinner sizzling on the stove, Little Guy half naked on the potty, and the door bell rings.

Turns out the recipient of the lovely gifts is my neighbor. She used to rent my house and eventually bought one up the street (see what I mean about the neighborhood, no one leaves). The gifts were for her partner, who had recently lost her mother after a long illness. She offered to pick up the package, and just as I was explaining that the company had told us to open it, Little Guy streaks by, still naked from the waist down. He makes a break for the front yard, where he pauses, takes note of the boys all agog out next door, and does a little dance on the sidewalk.

A half naked dance while I am trying to explain why we ate the bereavement brownies.

Yep.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The magic of three

I have never really been a baby person. As a mother, it usually takes me around three years to get my groove on. It was that way with Girlie and it seems to be the same with Little Guy.

A few weeks back we celebrated Little Guy's third birthday. He is obsessed with firefighter paraphernalia, so we loaded him up with a new hat, an official coat complete with shiny badge (he's the chief), and from my mother - a working extinguisher that shoots water 30 feet.

Oh how I love three. It is like a switch has finally flipped and the terribles are starting to subside. Admittedly often under the threat of punishment, but still. It is amazing to hear the thoughts that come spilling out of his three year old brain. The other day he asked me "Mom, do you know sports?" I said I did a little. He then proceeded to tell me "I really really good at dribbling." And he is. He runs, he jumps, he shoots hoops, he tosses balls, he catches, he swings at baseballs with all the concentration of a brain surgeon. Afterwards he high-fives the neighbor boys, though he's the youngest by a few years. He is becoming a real little dude.

But even better, he puts on his own shoes, makes jokes that are actually funny, and brushes his teeth (with a little help). He's working on the potty thing.

But he's still so small. We've had a few chilly mornings, and he'll stop in the middle of racing cars across the floor to run over and snuggle under my robe.

The magic of three.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rain, rain, don't go away (yet)

It's been raining non-stop in Boston since Sunday and while the gals on my street are complaining, I'm loving it. After two years in the desert, I've missed these rainy days. As an added bonus, the temperature is unusually cool for the end of summer, so I am wearing long sleeves and boots, a little dress rehearsal for fall. Last night, I slept with the windows cracked. There was a constant downpour and I had the best go to bed and die kind of sleep.

Tomorrow it will be back in the 80's and our leftover chili will seem ridiculous.

But for tonight, it is still brisk and lovely. I'll put the kids in fuzzy jammies, pull the covers up to keep them snug, and then I'll tuck myself in to dream of falling leaves.

Monday, August 23, 2010

He ain't heavy, he's my coffee table...




Here's the final set up with - the 120 pound concrete coffee table - looking quite fabulous in the living room. Yes, I said concrete coffee table. Solid concrete as in Tony Soprano could drop somebody in a river with this bad boy.


Hubs asked if I thought the table might be a hazard to the kids. You know, with all the rock solid angles and such.

Hmmmm. I suppose it could do some damage. Then again my last table didn't last three days before being chipped by somebody's princess dress up shoes, so I think I'll take my chances with this one. Besides, that door next to the painting leads to a playroom (where the shower curtain window treatments are proudly hanging), so I usually try to shoo the kids in there when things get a little crazy.

The living room is adult space and we grown-ups actually do hang out in there. The other night my neighbor dropped in with the current issue of La Cucina Italiana (porn for pasta lovers) and we had a glass of wine while discussing the deliciousness that is saffron risotto. Like the risotto, the table is the perfect mix of rustic and modern, but you can totally prop your feet on it.

As long as you slip off the pink plastic high heels first.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Training or train wreck?

Things I am considering as an alternative to my current potty training efforts:

1. Giving up. Why not? He could stay in diapers until kindergarten and then we'll let the five year olds shame him into it. Sure there might be some longer term psychological repercussions, but we could dip into the the college funds for a little therapy.

2. Hiring an expert. There has to be someone else who can do this. Super Nanny? Potty Whisperer? She comes in and follows him around with the spray bottle of non-toxic cleaner and the constant doyouhavetogo. Plus, she does laundry.

3. Leaving it to Hubs. Like the expert plan, but cheaper. I leave home until it's all over. Where should I go?

I know its going to happen, BUT good grief.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Summer Camp Closing Soon

Ah, the endless days of summer, and I don't mean that in a good way. Summer always means just a wee too much family togetherness and we all feel a little crazed by the end of it, but this year even more so. Girlie got out before Memorial Day in Phoenix, but Boston schools don't start until after Labor day, so we got three extra weeks of summer this year.

Three extra weeks of breaking up the bickering. Three extra weeks of packing snacks and schlepping to the park, the zoo, the aquarium, and the children's museum (which is lovely, but I swear it always smells a little like poop). Three extra weeks of not getting any time for myself.

Three.

Extra.

Weeks.

I am craving my routine, a quiet(er) house, and a little break in the pressure to keep these kids busy. Camp Mental Momma is coming to an end soon, closed until next year. We don't have a theme song, but I'll be doing a little dance anyway.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Magic carpet ride

Pardon the so-so photography, taking a photoshop class is high on my list of to-do's, but until then you'll have to suffer my amateurish snaps. So here it is, the craigslist rug of my dreams, a beautiful woven wool rug in the perfect shades of washed red and pink and brown and cream. It works amazingly well with my artwork and gives the room a chic ethnic vibe without being too matchy.

And it was less than $200. Yep, I have used up every last drop of my craigslist karma. From here on, I will only find crappy things or expensive things or crappy expensive things. But it was worth it.

Next week I will add this coffee table and the living room will be done. I've been on a roll with the cheap chic lately. Stay tuned for a peek at the shower curtains I used as window treatments in the playroom. Um hmm. I said shower curtains, but trust me, they look fab.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Break-throughs and fixes

My writing class? Thanks for asking. You see, I have been doing some discouragingly crappy crappy writing during my incredibly amazing and inspiring class.

The class format is such that we do a little reading, some discussion, and then end the section with an in-class exercise. Writing on the spot in a room filled with people, all furiously scribbling away? Notsomuch. Rarely do I come up with anything decent during class. As we read aloud, I am blown away by the fairly developed things my classmates are bringing to the table. So I'm a hack, a housewife with a hobby... waaaaaa.

And then today it happened. There I am, writing away, a little frustrated, repeating this sucks, this sucks, this suckity suck sucks, three pages of scribbling in one horribly wrong bad awful illegible direction, when I suddenly realized what I wanted to write about. And then I did. And the writing wasn't so bad.

Wow. Okay then.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

It is amazing, really, how everything can change so quickly. So much has happened in the last few weeks. I want to get it all down, record it, but it still seems like such a jumble. And it's going to sound easy and happy, something I am still getting used to.

Let's start with the neighborhood.

It's perfect.

The first day we were here, really within the first half hour, two little girls showed up at our door with handmade cards welcoming Girlie. A few weeks prior, I had run into a woman at a nearby park who knew some of the families in Girlie's school. She emailed the PTA president who filtered our info down to the families on our new street. The girls who live here were so excited to have someone their age moving in. Some more emailing and they knew the day we'd arrive. Apparently there was some giddy spying going on, peeping through curtains and such, and as soon as we pulled up, the girls sprung into action.

And their mothers? One of them pumped water out of my garage when it flooded on moving day and then invited me over for cocktails a few days later. We've had a group cookout every Sunday night since moving in. We drove to the beach for the day with seven kids between us. These are good people.

It is the kind of place, the kind of street, where all the kids run between yards. Fences were taken down to make it easier. Mothers pass the kids back and forth, no one can cross the street, but between the houses, the children can be anywhere. It is the kind of childhood I have always wanted for Girlie and Little Guy (though he is still a little too young to run free) and until now, we've never landed in a place that had it. You don't call to arrange playdates, you send your kid over to knock. The girls started a nature club and Girlie comes home dirty every night. How have we not had this until now?

So I want to pinch myself. Or maybe keep quiet about it. Or maybe shout it from the rooftops. And that is just about the neighborhood. There is the downtown writing class. The amazing preschool I found for Little Guy. The friends we've made already. This cute cute house. The subway.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Home

Finally!

We're in.

And it's as if all of the furniture I have acquired up to this point was meant for this house and only this house. Plus, I scored the best rug ever from craigslist.

Stay tuned for some pictures, I think the next box I will unpack is the camera!


Thursday, July 8, 2010

The "Situation"

Has it been over a week since I graced you with my presence?

Been a little mental over the preparations for moving, especially trying to run around to find window treatments that aren't crappy or cheap looking but not custom made. And they have to block enough light so that my kids will start sleeping past sunrise and hang such that they don't interfere with the radiators. That particular combination pretty much doesn't exist, so I ended up ordering a conglomeration of curtains and shades a' la Pottery Barn AND Land of Nod, which I will attempt to patch together in a way that is neither completely ghetto yet regrettably, most likely not exactly stylish.

Hubs' car is piled high with boxes of curtains, two new potty seats, two new room fans, and a large package of TP, waiting to go to the new place tomorrow. My car is equally loaded with new-sed furniture I found for Little Guy's big boy room on craigslist. I scored a great set at almost 1/3 of the original price, the only catch? The people were moving out just two days before we could get in to our new place so it has been "stored" in our car since this weekend. Fabulous.

Tomorrow morning I roll over to the new place bright and early to get the keys and then FINALLY on Saturday our stuff arrives from the central storage in New Jersey.

I can't wait to see my couch again. Hopefully it hasn't adopted a fake tan or cheesy nickname, but if it has, I don't think I'll care.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Top Ten List

Ten days until we get our stuff back from storage.

The top ten things I can't wait to get my hands on:

1. My fancy extra-sharp kitchen knife. So over sawing the carrots in pieces with the cheesy dull apartment knives.
2. The Whirley-pop popcorn pot. Nothing else even comes close to making tasty stovetop popcorn. And don't even get me started on microwave popcorn. Bleh.
3. My robe, not sure why didn't I bring it with me.
4. Our bed, complete with extra-soft sheets and the perfect pillows. Ahhh, I can't wait.
5. The lavender thingy that I microwave for headaches. Could have used it more than a few times, like last night... and the other day.
6. My bathing suit cover-up. Schlepping to the pool in a t-shirt isn't cutting it.
7. My sun hat.
8. My shoes, especially the silk ones that wrap around the ankles and my one pair of Prada heels. Oh and my Kors sandals. Come to think of it ,better get a pedi.
9. My straightening iron. Haven't used it in ages, but now I need to wrangle my east coast frizz.
10. The drinkware. Sipping microbrews from a juice glass and they call these wine glasses? And my favorite coffee mug...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lobsta

Yesterday was a particularly crazy day with the kids, mostly Little Guy. It was supposed to storm in the afternoon, so I took them to see Toy Story 3, Little Guy's first movie. I think the excitement of going to the theater led to a shortish nap. Afterwards he was literally bouncing off the walls.

Overall, I didn't feel the greatest about taking him. The movie themes were more mature and darker than the original. A little much for an almost three year old, though the eight year old loved it. I'll give myself a C- on parental judgement for that one, only slightly redeemed because he did sit all the way through it.

Anyway, I had one of those end of the day dinner preparations where I was stopping every two seconds avert some disaster.

Hubs came home a little late and by the time we got the kids to bed, I could barely form sentences. I slunk to the couch, popped some Top Chef on the DVR (this season not so much, by the way), and mumbled responses whenever he tried to chat with me. Poor guy, I am usually all over him to have adult conversation in the evening, and then when he's into it, I send him away. You lose some, you lose some.

Anyway, this weekend we're taking the maniacs up to Maine to join some friends for a 40th birthday. There will be lobster, or lobsta as they say up here, and Shipyard beer and blueberry pie.

That should do it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Scrambled

We just finished a farm style dinner - fresh eggs scrambled with farm tomatoes, sage, green onion, and a little feta with a side of potatoes and roasted squash. I ran out of time to hit a regular grocery store today and had to whip together dinner from whatever came in our CSA box. Oh, but it was delicious.

It has been a busy couple of days - a new pediatrician for the kids, haircuts (for them, not me, though I desperately need a little color), working out car details, insurance and registration, and an agonizing decision about where to place Little Guy in preschool next year, with two really great options. On top of all that, Hubs' schedule is imploding right around the time we are supposed to move into our new and final digs, so we're trying to juggle that too.

I told him I'd handle the movers by myself with the two kids in tow if that's what it would take to get our stuff out of storage.

I need my stuff.

Luckily, we commandeered a grandfather to come in and pull some handyman heroics during the few weeks after we move in. He'll take the kids to the park and then come home to do my honey do list around the house, kind of like a wife/husband all rolled into one. Of course, it will cost us a few gallons of coffee, a daily paper, and an unlimited evening beer supply... but it will be so worth it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fried fish and a fine fender bender

On Saturday we decided to take a little drive up to Ipswich to check out a strawberry festival at Russell farms. Ipswich is a coastal town around an hour drive from Boston, travel Gods willing. The weather was going to be amazing, so we thought maybe we'd catch a glimpse of the ocean and check out a local strawberry farm.

I did some research and found out that Ipswich is also the home of the legendary Clam Box, a roadside fried seafood place that is known for having a permanent long line snaking around the building and through the front door.

We were prepared for a wait, but timed it just right, got there right when the place opened, and treated ourselves to a three way combo platter piled high with clams, scallops, and shrimp, served with a side of french fries and onion rings. The kids would have nothing to do with the fried seafood, but we were able to order chicken and an older man even stopped by our table and complimented us on how well behaved our children were. We were a little taken back, as in our kids (?), but then again I literally had the soap bar sitting on the table, so maybe.

A perfectly timed trip through the Clam Box alone would have been enough, but then we made our way to Russell Farms for some strawberry picking, a hay ride, and cider donuts. It was a sunny afternoon and the farm had some wonderful shady play areas. There was a perfect breeze, the kids were in heaven and Hubs and I had plenty of time to relax and chat.

The beach parking was full and closed, so we decided to find some ice cream and then head back. On the way back we stopped at White Farms ice cream and picked up two giant cones for $5. But just to prove that no day can be without a twist, a young girl hit our car while we were sitting outside (and this while Hubs was rinsing sand from Little Guy's eye, always the calamity happens in multiples). So the van looks a little wonky, which makes for some eyebrow raising as I am parallel parking around town, and now I'll have to hassle with the estimates and repair, but no one was in it and we were able to drive it away. And that ice cream was homemade.

Do I sound like a boring travel brochure? I can't help myself, New England is just so damn cute and I just can't get over how much I love it. Really, crunched fender and all, it was one of the best days we've had in a while.



Friday, June 18, 2010

Soap Opera

So the whole ignore it thing wasn't working with Little Guy's newest phrase that pays, and we're back to the soap.

Sigh.

Life would be so much easier if I didn't have to actually discipline these children.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Stupid

So a few weeks ago I made what appears to be a colossal mistake and made a big deal about Little Guy using the word stupid. After the Trader Joe's incident, I decided to wash his mouth with a little soap the next time he said it. Sure enough he despised the soap, and for a few days it seemed to do the trick.

Problem solved right?

Yeah, except it stopped working and now he is almost compulsive about repeating it, even with the soap. He says it all the time, most often not in the context of calling someone a name, but to see if I will have a reaction. He sings it, he repeats it in the car, he lets it slip while we're shopping (along with a dramatic wide eyed face as he covers his mouth, and smothers a little giggle).

I went through the same thing with Girlie, the only difference was, she was completely horrified when I explained to her that the word was hurtful and she shouldn't ever ever say it. I think she said it once, got a stern talking to, and that was the end of it.

There are a few other words too, but this one is the one he can pronounce most clearly. So what to do? I am thinking of just letting him have at it. I think if I take the fun of the forbidden away, he'll give it up. Which means of course that I will suffer a little public embarrassment in the process.

So stupid.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Stuck

When we bought our house in Arizona, we removed a small cactus bush in the backyard by the pool. I had nothing against desert landscaping, but the cactus was just planted a little too close to a spot where the kids might whiz by in bathingsuited bottoms. Unfortunately, that lone cactus was the last of our native landscaping, so we wound up having a pretty grassy leafy Phoenix yard but at the same time the kids and I managed to leave Arizona without getting stuck by a single cactus.

But come to find out, I still got stuck in another way.

Around a month before we moved away, I got a ticket in the mail for a red light violation snagged on a camera in Scottsdale. It wasn't a blow through the light kind of thing, I had already pulled partially into the intersection to make a turn, when the light started changing and I followed the car in front of me. A violation for sure, but something we've all done. So I could pay the ticket or attend the court date. Since the court date was the day after we were scheduled to fly to Boston for our final move, I paid the hefty fine online.

But that isn't the end of it.

In Arizona, once you are convicted of running a red light (which I now am, by paying the fine and "admitting" my guilt), you have to attend a defensive driving class. So now, I have to take a class here in Massachusetts and fax proof to Arizona DOT. In the meantime, my license has a flag on it and I can't proceed in getting at Mass license, or I can, but as the AZDOT gal said I probably shouldn't.

The class is, of course around $500, not to mention the time I'll spend doing it. Apparently, I'm a crazy red light running mini-van Momma who deserves to get slapped with the full extent of the law.

Ouch.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Boston is my new boyfriend

It's been chilly and rainy and this city is completely oblivious to the fact that it is indeed the middle of June. But none of it matters because I can already tell that I have a huge crush on Boston.

Over the weekend we took the kids on the subway and did a little touristy trek through downtown Boston. Little Guy was, of course, enamored with the train ride and completely cute about it. For him, that would have been enough. For Girlie, it was the swan boat ride in the Public Garden, hokey as it gets, but totally sweet at the same time. Hubs and I just couldn't stop smiling over their heads because wow, we live here.

So we're not living in the city, but I am so happy with where we landed - Newton is around ten miles outside of downtown Boston and on the subway line. It is a made up of small villages, each with its own "center" with tiny restaurants and little specialty shops tucked into every corner. The small shopping takes some getting used to, especially coming from the giant stores in Phoenix, but once you find what you are looking for, it is a completely satisfying experience buying from someone that owns the place and has probably been there forever. Today I bought a Father's Day gift for Hubs from a place we can walk to from our temporary apartment and should he need to get it repaired? No worries, he can just bring it in, the guy does it right there.

And people walk everywhere. In Phoenix people don't walk farther than their mailboxes.

Of course, the winter will be the biggest downside, so I will have to reserve judgement until we get through our first one. But I saw a little sign for ice skating while we were in the city, so I have a feeling it may be two years before the romance starts to fizzle.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Hair Don't

So I was much cuter in Phoenix. The humidity in Boston is killing me. My hair is frizzy and today I have a giant pimple on my cheek.

I'm going to need to overhaul my beauty regime. I should remember what to do, I lived in the swampish southeast for most of my life. Until then, I'm going to put on a giant hat and be glad that we really don't know anyone yet.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cloudy with a Chance of Truffles

After Little Guy's nap, I got the kids ready and we headed off to a really nice park nearby. We found the park the other day while driving around and the kids kept begging to go back so I promised them that we would go after naptime.

As we pulled out of the parking garage the first few drops of rain hit the windshield. The temperature on the car dash read 62 degrees. Rainy and a little chilly. I explained that we'd have to try a little later and headed for Whole Foods instead. Little Guy had some trouble with it at first, having spent the last two years in Arizona where a rain delay was unheard of.

We dashed into the store, shivering a little (I know, but we were in short sleeves) and I made a game of finding the few things on my list. As we rounded the final aisle to the checkout, we spied an employee handing out samples - little truffles on a skewer with fresh cherries and angel food cake. And this is what I love about the kids, somehow that sweet little store sample made up for the park trip that didn't happen. They wholeheartedly embrace the simple pieces of happiness.

The rain never did stop, but the kids ended the day all smiles, and probably fell asleep dreaming of chocolate and cherries.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Me Me Me

Me time? What the hell is that? Oh right, I'm occasionally supposed to take a little time for myself.

Actually, I got up extra early today and managed to squeeze in a few minutes of uninterrupted time to knock out some things just for little ol' me.

First, I signed up for a local organic CSA. We used to do this in Georgia and I loved it. I have been meaning to do it again for ages, but the ones in Phoenix weren't terribly convenient, so I never got around to it. This particular group has organic meat options and eggs too, so we'll probably add on once we're settled. Yay for fresh organic stuff. Technically this one is for the whole family, but it will do my heart the most good.

Second, and this is a big one, I signed up for a writing class. As soon as Boston became a possibility, I got online and found this awesome organization. Today I registered for a six week "jumpstart" course to get my writing going again.

The class meets weekly and starts three days after we move into our house, so for a few minutes prior to clicking on register, I started freaking out - would I be able to find my way downtown, and figure out the train, and line up the childcare, omg, maybe I should just wait for the fall class. And before I could finish that ridiculous thought, I signed up. I have plenty of time to figure that stuff out and signing up for the class was just the kick in the toosh I needed to start organizing my writing again.

And that one is really only for me.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Heavy lifting

So we're two months into having all of our stuff in storage and we still have another month to go.

Little Guy is particularly confused about it, and keeps asking when he'll get his toys back. I have done my best to explain it, but he has no concept of time, so the explanation falls short. Hell, it's almost confusing to me - we were in Phoenix in temp housing, now we're in Boston in temp housing, but our stuff is in New Jersey stored safely (I hope) in a central warehouse. We move into our house in a month, and the company will unload it here then.

Every time we pass a large truck Little Guy asks if his bike is in it. Awww. I know. Right?

Of course, I did set aside some things to keep with us, important papers, some toys, my wine opener, you know, the essentials. When we came to Boston from our temp place in Phoenix, we shipped several boxes of that stuff to a nearby UPS store. We've been here about a week without those toys and the kids have been doubly crazed. Today I received an email from UPS that the boxes had arrived. Hurray! I excitedly told the kids to get their shoes on. We were going to get the toy boxes!

There were too many boxes to fit in the car, but I knew the two largest were the toys, so we squeezed them in. When we got back, I pulled Little Guy's box first, figuring I could keep him busy exploring it while I grabbed the rest. I knew which one was Girlie's because she had drawn a little house on it.

The boxes are fairly large and around 40lbs each, but I was determined to muscle them from the parking garage to our apartment. The kids were bouncing off the walls at that point and couldn't possibly wait until Hubs got home. I drug that box through the garage, into the elevator, down a long hallway, and then another long hallway, and into the apartment. Finally, we rip open the box.

And it was full of Hubs' office computer equipment.

Yep, someone mixed up the boxes, so the toy box went to his office instead. And of course, it was too late in the day to get into the holding area for deliveries at his office.

Sigh.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Grocery nirvana

Since Little Guy has been such a joy to shop with, Hubs suggested that I make a big grocery run today while he hung out with the kids. I hopped in the car, selected the grocery category on the GPS, and randomly picked a name nearby.

And hit the jackpot.

When I pulled up, the store didn't look like much. A little dated on the outside, smallish parking lot, weird front entrance. Eh, I thought, I guess I'll give it a try. Turns out the store is fabulous. All of my favorite products - plus oodles of extras, like a "meatball" mix of ground beef with the tiniest bit of sausage added in, really good breads, organic snacky stuff, and not too pricey.

The best part?

At the end of the trip, they send your purchases down a conveyor belt and you pull your car around under the store where a guy loads them right into your trunk. Oh sweet heaven.

I'm starting to love this place.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Driver's Ed

Let's move on from tears to traffic. Driving around this place is like playing some sort of crazy video game. Lanes merge in and out, construction pops up at every turn, and in some places it is hard to tell whether there is one lane or two, sort of a make your own road thing.

Phoenix is one gigantic grid, so we got adjusted pretty quickly, but I'm pretty sure the road system around Boston was designed by a sugar high toddler who snagged a contraband sharpie pen and went at it.

One of my bestfriends is from here and she has always been a pretty amazing driver, now I totally see why. I know she has always cringed a little at my driving skills, so I thought of her as I was making my way across town today. I almost picked up my cell phone to call her, but decided to wait until we got back.

Better to keep both hands on the wheel and the gas pedal down.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tears at Trader Joe's

So I cried at Trader Joe's today.

I'll just pause a moment to let that sink in.

The time change and stress of moving has us all exhausted. The kids didn't fall asleep until sometime close to midnight last night and Little Guy woke up and actually climbed out of his bed at 3:30 AM. So we're all a little delirious and Little Guy is having some sort of tantrum about every 2.5 seconds.

Under normal circumstances I wouldn't step foot into a public space with two cranky kids, but our cupboard is bare and we need at least the basics to get by. So we're cruising through the grocery store at warp speed, I am just grabbing things randomly off the shelves, Little Guy is flipping out, Girlie is "helping", and some dear woman is trying her best to help me. We get to the check-out with milk, juice, and some PB & J fixings in the cart, plus a few random things that should be good for dinner (except not together) and Little Guy starts grabbing at the bell, tossing stuff out of the cart, and THEN he turns to me and yells at the top of his voice

"Mommy you are stupid."

Yep, I cried.

I'm going to give it a few weeks before I hit that store again. Hopefully no one will remember me.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Same old same old

This marks my first official resident of greater metro Boston post. We arrived in the city a few hours ago to light drizzle and a snag at the car rental place. What, no parade? Ah well, I guess the city isn't as excited to meet us as we are to meet it.

Tomorrow's to do list is filled with exciting Bostonish things like stocking our place with groceries and the dog supplies we left behind. Whole foods and Petco, and a swoop through CVS.

So much is different. So much is the same.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Boston Bound


Tomorrow we'll make our final trip to Boston. Four suitcases, two computer bags, two kids, a stroller, the dog, and a couple of carry-on bags stuffed with snacks, videos, and a tissue or two.





When we moved to Phoenix almost exactly two years ago, it felt like we had landed on the moon. I knew it was the desert, but I couldn't quite take it in - the rock filled yards, the scrubby landscape, and the iconic cactus stiffly standing guard over the whole strange scene. There were palm trees everywhere, but not a drop of water in sight. I would soon learn that the water could be found filling the pools behind the tall backyard fences, and the palm trees were not native, but from somewhere else, just like us.

I arrived here completely sleep deprived, stuck in an over year long jag of insomnia. But in Phoenix, it seemed to make sense to go to bed late and wake early, since the sun came up so blazingly bright and I had to get moving to beat the heat of the day anyway. It's strange, but you can see the moon in Phoenix from very early in the evening until long into the morning. In the middle of the night it hangs gloriously close in a dark cloudless sky. By the fall of that year, I started sleeping a little more, and then in the winter the insomnia started to go away entirely. Had the desert healed me somehow? Had the moon hung around just a little longer to supervise?

We'll miss so many things, like our favorite eats at Barrio Cafe, and Lola, drinks at Camelback Inn and the Rokerij, and shopping in Scottsdale. The way Phoenix is big and small at the same time. The kids will no doubt miss the zoo and the fantastic parks. Hubs will miss running the mountain trails and biking along the canal. We'll all long for the famous Phoenix winters, and the days when we didn't have to remember raincoats or struggle with snowboots. It goes without saying that we'll miss our dear friends, both old and new. And I will miss my writing community.

Little Guy only understands our move to Boston as a vague concept, but Girlie has been struggling with the idea, alternating between excitement and despair. I remind her how it felt to move here, how she didn't even know how to swim when we arrived. I tell her she'll make new friends. I tell myself I'll find new restaurants and shops. And friends.

And it's true. We'll all be just fine in Boston. And I know that the moon that rises over Boston is the same one that hangs over Phoenix.

But still, it will be missing a little of that desert magic. And so will I.