Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Catch Up

The funny truth about blogging is that not posting very often really lowers your readership stats. I feel I have let both of you down and I’m really sorry. Now that my houseguest has left, we are now back to our regularly scheduled program of laundry, dishes and mommy blogging. Give me a few more days to catch up with all of you.

My two oldest are in their last week of their fall intercession. The year-round school calendar has them in school for nine weeks, off for three. Let me tell you, three weeks is just too long. The first week, we went somewhere every day. The second week, Dean went to a camp and we had my awesome kid-loving friend visiting. This week, I’d like everyone to simply go away. If I were to post yesterday, it would have read just like this - same exact story.

Having my friend here last week made me a better parent, even if I was a terrible host. I was on my best parenting behavior with a calm voice almost all of the time, which was exhausting. Maybe it was the knowledge that I had another adult in the house, in case I needed backup, or the wanting to give the impression that I haven’t completely unraveled – whatever it was, last week was easier. The patience I had, phony or not, left in my friend’s suitcase. I already miss them both.

And speaking of my poor friend - I felt terrible that I was so caught up in the mommy-related things that I am always caught up in that I didn’t show her a good time. And she didn’t expect to be wined and dined and entertained but I think the worst part for her was that I kept apologizing. I couldn’t stop myself and got completely stuck on how bad I felt that I hadn’t even really cooked a meal for her that I think if I said “I’m sorry” one more time, she might of wanted to slap me. If she were at all uncomfortable with her stay, it was probably because I made her feel that way with all my whining. She expected the chaos, the loudness and the toys all over the floor. She probably didn’t expect me to be constantly pointing it all out to her and saying “Why on earth would you pick my house for a vacation?” Seriously, it’s the last place I’d choose. I’m guessing that her next trip will be to the beach and I won’t be invited.

So in the spirit of catching up with good friends, I have two meme’s to offer. Mamabeeotch tagged me with this one quite some time ago:

1. What is your favorite quotable line from a movie? Too hard to pick a favorite so here are a few movies I often quote: Spinal Tap – “But these go to eleven” (Nigel’s answer to why his stereo speakers are so special); Raising Arizona – what is not to quote? “I need a baby HI, they got more than they can handle…” “I got the best one I did” and many others; Local Hero – Another movie that grows more hysterical the more you watch it. Watch it and you too will find yourself quoting it often.
2. Who is the most famous person you’ve talked to? Having worked in a children’s hospital for over a decade, I have met various athlete’s from teams such as the Carolina Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Duke Basketball, Cincinatti Reds and the University of Kentucky football and basketball. I have also met Matthew Laurance (from the original 90210 cast) who used to come to the hospital with the Duke basketball team and helped with some fundraising events. Most noteworthy was the time I spent with Jeff Foxworthy visiting the patients. He and his wife Gregg didn’t just pop into rooms and wave. They sat and spoke with each family and asked questions and suffered through the kids’ jokes that they had made in preparation for Jeff’s visit. He laughed at every single one.
3. How many bags/boxes of potato chips are consumed at your house per month? Depends on the chip – but maybe one or two.
4. What foreign food dish do you prepare from scratch and serve? Right now, anything other than mac and cheese is foreign in this house. But by request, tonight I will be making tortilla soup. The kids will actually eat this.
5. What is your favorite section of the supermarket? The exit.
6. What was your high school team’s mascot and what were the school colors? We didn’t have a mascot but we wore maroon and gold – just like the Gryffindors.

Then Green Girl in Wisconsin put this one out there today for whomever wanted to play:

1. What are your nicknames? Sue, Sues, Mom, Mommy, Mama (if you are really wanting something).
2. What game show and/or reality show would you like to be on? Fetch with Ruff Ruffman, except I think I might be too old.
3. What was the first movie you bought in VHS or DVD? Field of Dreams, VHS, as a gift to my first real boyfriend (it was the movie we went to on our first date).
4. What is your favorite scent? Patchouli, rosemary, lavender and coffee.
5. If you had a million dollars that you could only spend on yourself, what would you do with it? I would buy as much land as I could and create a nature preserve.
6. What one place have you visited that you can't forget and want to go back to? Ireland – I’d love to travel it on my own terms and research my family lineage.
7. Do you trust easily? Mostly, until someone gives me reason not to and then I may never trust him/her again.
8. Do you think before you act, or act before you think? I think a little too much probably. I am often paralyzed by indecision.
9. Is there anything that has made you unhappy these days? Everything that Green Girl mentioned and how greed seems to fuel it all; that there are folks who will make their election-day decision based on one issue, misinformation or racism; that bad things happen to good people and everything that I list in #10.
10. Do you have a good body image? For one week out of each month, I do. The rest of the month, I hate my hair and my hormone-induced acne on my chin and why is tweezing a full-time job?
11. What is your favorite fruit? Blueberries and whatever else is in season.
12. What websites do you visit daily? My local news, my favorite blogs, Huffington Post.
13. What have you been seriously addicted to lately? Coffee, tea, chocolate, blogs, and that elusive five minutes of quiet.
14. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is? I can only imagine that we’d be good friends in real life.
15. What's the last song that got stuck in your head? Book of Love from the new Dar Williams and the Stars Wars theme music.
16. What's your favorite item of clothing? My jeans with the big whole in the knee and that are too short for me – they fit everywhere else so perfectly and are soooo comfortable.
17. Do you think Rice Krispies are yummy? Only if they are covered in chocolate.
18. What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground? Look around to see if the one who dropped it is looking for it and then donate it to charity if I can’t locate the owner.
19. What items could you not go without during the day? Coffee and my laptop.
20. What should you be doing right now? Paying attention to the children.

I’m going to break with meme tradition and just say that whoever reads this and wants to be tagged, go for it. I’d love to catch up with you.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Susie Sucks as a Hostess

In case you were planning on visiting and staying with me, you should know that I actually suck as a hostess. Now the dear friend that is visiting me right now might disagree. She will saw that she is not here to be entertained. She will say that she is here just to visit with us and is not concerned with the chaos that is a family of five. She will say that she is more than happy to accompany us to the dentist, to nature camp pick-up and the grocery store. She cheerfully plays on the floor with the kids. She pretends not to mind the dog sleeping on her pillows and blankets set up for her on our couch. And I'm sure she means it all, but I still feel like I suck.

My visiting friend has made my life easier this week, no doubt. I have left one or two children in her care while I have showered, used the bathroom and picked up Dean from camp. I am trying not to take advantage of her love of kids. And she understands that this is my life and it can't stop simply because she is visiting. She doesn't judge me when I let the kids watch TV so that she and I can actually talk or I can make dinner. She is the perfect guest.

I wish I could show her a better time. We stayed in today because I couldn't think of anything that I wanted to do with her and the kids in tow. She understood. She listened to me try to sound out a parenting dilemma for half the afternoon. She never told me to stop whining and to move on. She took a vacation and came to see me in all my craziness. And to that I am so very grateful. I'd like to cook her a real dinner. I'd like to take her shopping or our for a glass of wine. I'd like to stop being so self-absorbed so I can focus on her. Maybe I'm a fine hostess and I just suck as a friend.

Who wants to come over next?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dare I Call it Community Organizing?

For those of you that have been reading this blog for a while, you might be wondering where I have gone and what I might be doing instead of blogging. I am finding that I am being remarkably quiet, even for me. It’s not because I don’t have anything on my mind – I have so many things I’d like to share with you. But other than simply being busy with the kids, I’m quiet because I am trying to strike a balance between processing my thoughts out loud and being respectful of others’ viewpoints. That’s right, I’m talking politics – however did you guess? Politics and this election are the subjects occupying my thoughts most prominently.

I have never before quite felt this way about an election. I've been interested, but not nail-biting nervous like this. There was the study and rallying to encourage people to vote that was part of Sociology 101 coursework in 1988. Most of my peers then didn’t even know who the candidates were, let alone planning on dragging their big hair to the polls. That year, I simply voted because it was my right to do so – not because I had a strong opinion of either candidate. Four years later, I waited in the longest line I had ever seen to cast my vote in the Bush vs. Clinton race. I was happy to do my part by casting my vote. The outcome was beside the point. I felt like my vote counted. And then there were the two dark elections in a row where I voted and felt like my vote didn’t matter – that it wasn’t enough. I felt helpless and unheard. This time around though, I am truly excited about this election. This will be the first time that I will be voting for a candidate rather than against one.

But I am aware of a certain discomfort in discussing such matters. Being from New England and in the words of Dar Williams, “Way back where I come from, we never mean to bother, We don’t like to make our passions other people’s concerns.” I was raised in a family where polite conversation did not involve talk of politics, religion and sex. I personally felt uncomfortable reading a blog post recently written by someone who is very pro-Palin. Since she asked for comments, I left a thoughtfully and respectfully (I hope) dissenting one. But I will guiltily admit that I may not be back to read that particular blog for a while. And I got very little feedback on the one post I wrote that wasn’t even necessarily about politics but I had the word in my title. So if I am putting anyone off here, I am sorry and I understand. It is simply easier to talk about the current state of the election with like-minded people – I get it.

The problem is, only speaking with folks who feel the same way I do isn’t really helping the cause. I can write numerous posts about what I like about Obama and what I dislike about McCain and those of you who agree with me will say, “Sing it Sister” and those of you who disagree will quietly click away. I’m sure I won’t be changing anyone’s mind so there is no reason to turn my blog into a podium. [For those who are completely undecided and plan on flipping a coin in the voting booth, email me and I’ll tell you why I am pro-Obama.] Seriously, do you really want to hear what I think of Palin as our potential new VP? I bet you can guess. However, I feel that we do need some true activism so I make the following proposals for whatever side of the ticket you are leaning:

1. Stop talking about the candidate for whom you are not voting and start talking about the candidate for whom you are voting. Tell us why you think he’s the right man for the job.
2. Write a heart-felt email or letter detailing these reasons and send it to everyone you know.
3. Call your local campaign office and find out how you can help. You can volunteer any number of ways by helping to get folks registered to vote or making calls. If you don’t have that kind of time, offer to donate food to feed the other volunteers.
4. Donate to the campaign of your choice. It’s going to take money to campaign hard in those battleground states.
5. Offer to drive someone to the polls that ordinarily might not be able to get there on their own.
6. Find out who’s on the fence – these are the people who will decide the election and these are the people we need to be talking to.
7. Get the facts on your favorite candidate – feel free to correct people who are spreading ideas that are simply not true. For example, “No, Obama does not want your kindergartner to carry condoms.”
8. By all means, vote. But only McCain or Obama can be president so think carefully before wasting your vote on a third party candidate or write-in. No one has ever made it to the Oval Office by a write-in vote. If you do decide to write-in your vote, email me ahead of time so I can make sure you know how to spell my last name correctly.

If true change is to happen, it is going to have to start with us. Be proactive! If you have any other ideas, please let me hear them. Please, please comment – I’d love to hear what you are thinking.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Without a doubt, the one thing I have always known that I wanted to be was a mom. In my earliest memories of playing as a child, I am holding a baby doll in one arm while hanging doll clothes on my small clothesline with the other. At night before sleep, I’d tuck those dolls into their own beds and kiss them goodnight. I wanted to be the best mom I could be and I was practicing for my far-off future.
When I was too old for dolls, I still knew I wanted to be a mother, although not until my career was well established. I figured that time would come late in life, like when I was thirty or something. And then the adult years of true baby lust came and I was saddened each month when my period came, even though I was using birth control and we agreed we weren’t ready. Parenthood was still off in the future.
The planning began in earnest after one particularly emotional day at work. I had kept vigil with a family the entire day. The parents and two young children had been in a car accident on the way to school that morning. The dad was critically injured and it was clear that he probably was not going to survive. The mom was being treated in another room so I was called in to start some psychological first aid with the kids. Later in the day, as the kids prepared to say “good-bye” to their father, the mother kept saying over and over, “At least I have the two of you. At least I have the two of you.” And that was the moment for me when I decided not to put off parenthood any longer.
Eleven months later and nine years ago today, I met the man who made my dreams come true.

Happy Birthday Dean. Thanks for making me a mom.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sound of the Eno -Theme Thursday

Stacy's Theme Thursday this week calls for Rest. A stroll by the nearby river is as restful as I can get. I took this video mainly for the audio, not necessarily for the visual. Please forgive the shaky hand since I was working with a handicap, I mean a toddler. You can read the full story at Triangle Mamas.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Life, Universe, Everything

Back in the early days of our friendship, the days before our courtship, my husband and I would often find ourselves being quiet together. This comfortable silence would often end with the question, "What are you thinking about?" If I were the one asking, he would almost always answer, "Life, the universe, everything." And I always knew what he meant - everything yet nothing in particular.

And that is how I am feeling lately, which is why there has been no organized post. I have so many thoughts swimming around but no clear definition to any of them. There is no way to string my thoughts into words that are understandable to anyone but me. If I had a Twitter account, you might see phrases like this:

Went to Target. Did not find anything to make my life better. (one hour ago)

Took the kids to the Museum. Spent almost the entire time playing in the best sandbox in the Triangle area. Good people watching but no blog fodder. (one day ago)

Just found out that there will be a 20 year high school reunion this November. Should I travel the 900 miles for it? Do I care? What would I wear? (two days ago)

Just read this article that Erika linked. Says "alone time is the new heroin." Hoping to get my fix this weekend. (three days ago)

Just spoke with most of my extended family after my grandmother's memorial service. I would have liked to go but wasn't invited. (one week ago)

Trying hard to get my shit together. Can't find all of my shit. (everyday)

There are more but you get the idea. Each one of these thoughts is a window into a longer story, a richer blog post. And once I am able to wrap my words around them, you will be the first to know.