Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Where have you been?

Hi there! It's been a busy few weeks over here at casa de MLM. First I caught the dread cold that everyone at work has had, but managed to perform in our end of the term "concert" with our jazz group on campus. Then we went away for a week to Oregon to visit my family. I have not been out there for 2.5 years, Cooper hasn't been since he was 9 months old and The Bob hasn't been since before Coop was born. So it was time. The flight had me the most concerned, as it is a long ass trip. Turns out Cooper handled better than either of the grown ups. It helped that I had downloaded a bunch of games onto my phone he liked.

The visit went really well. We did all kinds of things - Salem has a lot to offer like a beautiful, well preserved carousel, the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Museum (he invented the erector set among other things. Bob calls him a show off) and at least one vineyard where the grown ups did a wine tasting. We also went to the Evergreen Aid and Space Museum which is great, but fabulously frustrating if you happen to be a 4 year old who wants to sit inside every plane, jet and rocket on display, which is generally frowned upon by the management. The simulator for one of the Gemini launches was mildly satisfying but really, but inside the Spruce Goose, the gigantic plane that Howard Hughes built out of birch and made float on water by using beach balls for flotation devices, you only get to stand in a space about 12 feet by 12 feet. You cannot go anywhere interesting, like down below where they kept the fuel, so Cooper was all "NEXT, what can I touch NOW?.

We came home last weekend, and it is back to reality for a week, and then the holidays hit. I have wrapped NOTHING. I am considering piling everything unwrapped under the tree and letting people sort it out for themselves. No not really.

Last night I performed again with Harvey and Matt in our little trio at the retirement center on campus. We did an hour again. It felt more comfortable than last time, but now Harvey says I need to front more. Which is to say I need to do the chit chat in between songs, introduce the band, etc. I think I need to watch many hours of old Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin shows. I can hold a conversation with anyone, really, I can, but the idea of doing the "Heeeeey, how's it going, where are you folks from, don't forget to tip your waiter" chatter adds another layer of crazy to my brain. He says it should be FUNNY and light, and I am thinking it is hard enough for me to stand there and sing the right words and notes, now you want me to make JOKES?

OY. That is all. OY. I will have to work on it. Just another opportunity to stretch my wings a bit, step out of the comfort zone and grow. Or crash and burn. It is currently a toss up.

Here is hoping you all have a lovely holiday weekend!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

A view from my desk, the mythical monster series

Several items I have on my desk have been given to me by either The Bob, or our friend TR. Who, by the way, people think is named "Tiara" when I say her name for the first time and if you ever met her you would know that she is the LAST person in the known, and unknown for that matter, universe who would be named Tiara. But I digress.

Introducing the most mythical, shy and sought after office dwelling creature: Loch Desk Monster. AKA Desky. I asked him if he prefered Deskie, but he felt that was too feminine.

He is joined by two other mythical creatures of the deep,

Octavias "Otto" Octopus

And SnailBit, of the giant snail species, more rare and harder to find than the giant squid.

I acquired these two at the Venetian in Vegas many moons ago when there for a conference. I cannot abide Vegas but that is another story.

Friday, December 3, 2010

An ocean view from my desk

I haven't had much to report lately, Thanksgiving was lovely, we still have no snow, one of my dogs might be really sick or not sick at all, we are waiting for some test results, and work is work.

So I decided to show you a picture of one of the favorite things I have on my desk. I have A LOT of things on my desk. I am a chachke person. This is a paperweight I bought for myself probably 10 years ago during my divorce. It is handmade by Robert Held of Cananda. I just googled him. I guess he is kind of a big deal. I loved it because it looked like the ocean inside a glass ball. I love the green and browns. It is very peaceful. Which may be why I was drawn to it during my divorce. A small enclave of beauty and peace I could keep on my desk and disappear into as needed.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend! I will be trying to see the student production of Cabaret on campus. That is no small piece of theater to pull off.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Go Mommy GO! Sing Mommy SING!

Yesterday I stretched my wings again and sang FOUR songs at Ryles Jazz Club during their jazz brunch, with Harvey Finstein and the bass player from our little jazz group, plus Harvey's regular trio. Cooper behaved himself quite nicely, despite having to tolerate SITTING and EATING (or not in his case). It didn't hurt that I brought bribes. Oh yes, I bribe my kid to do things I want him to do. I am sorry, I REWARD him for behavior I find useful. Like sitting still and being quiet while I am performing. M&M's are MAGIC.

This video is one and a half minutes of Black Orpheus, a song I did not know prior to Harvey suggesting it and Cooper made a contribution at the beginning.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Big Man Turns 4 or How Legos Ruined My Life

Thursday Cooper turned four. FOUR. Seriously. When did that happen? He had his 4 year old check up this morning. I am happy to report he is 42 lbs strong and 43 inches tall. For those who are keeping track, he started out at 4.4 lbs and 19 inches long. He was long but lean and 2 months early. I would say he has made up the distance.

He and I both had Thursday off as it is also Veteran's Day (thanks to all who have served including the Bob!) and we gave him one present first thing in the morning: A Batman costume. Which he rocked all day. He even wanted to wear it to Target when we went on a shopping spree to spend the money his Memere gave him. We compromised on just the mask. We had cupcakes that evening with our neighbors who couldn't make his party on Saturday as they were heading off to the Happiest Place on Earth, i.e. Disney. They gave him a set of Buzz Lightyear pj's. Awesome.

Saturday we had his party. We invited his class at school, plus a few other friends. We thought we might get half of them to come. All but TWO kids could go. We had 18 kids and accompanying adults at this shindig. I have almost no pictures. We held it at an ice cream place in town, Lizzy's. Everyone declared it a roaring success.

Reasons to invite that many kids to a party: Really awesome gift ideas! I am always puzzled about what to get kids this age, and the presents he received were varied and interesting and in some cases will put me in an early grave.

Case in point:

Lego's. I had said to Bob I felt Cooper wasn't quite ready for them, as they have pretty small parts and he has the attention span of a...well...4 year old. And we have three dogs. Buster the Beagle lived on Lego's during the Lego years of Alex and Nick, Cooper's much older brothers. But someone gave him a set which has the parts to build three construction vehicles. Thank all that is holy it comes with instructions. But I have a suggestion for the Lego people. How about putting the parts for one truck in ONE BAG. Not all the parts for all the trucks in three separate bags based on no discernible pattern. You have to open all three bags, dump out hundreds of little parts, sort through them all for the 20 you need for one truck. Obviously no one was thinking of the parents.

Also acquired: Our first Hot Wheels cars AND one loop di loop Hot Wheels track with motorcycle. The testosterone levels in my house rose exponentially this weekend.

My kid capped off the weekend by watching a Spider Man movie, while wearing his Spidey costume, and playing with his Thomas the Tank Engine stuff.

All in all, it was a good birthday.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tasks that are hard to describe over the phone...

Cooper and I may or may not be slightly addicted to popcorn.

An indication your child might love popcorn a little too much: He asks for it for breakfast.

But what is not to love? It is low calorie, at least the way I make it, it has the salty/crunchy factor and is portable. Oh, and costs like 2 cents to make per batch, at least the way I make it. And I am fairly sure it qualifies as a source of fiber, and is considered a vegetable. Or starch. Whatever.

I LOATH microwave popcorn. It is an abomination. Too salty, too, I don't even know what that other texture/flavor is that they all have. It is not exactly greasy, because microwave popcorn is super dry to me. Can something be greasy and dry at the same time? Whatever it is, it is gross. And heaven forbid you burn it. Just throw away the entire microwave at that point.

I make popcorn on the stove. In a pot. Kernals, oil, pot with lid. Salt to taste when done. If I am feeling decadent, I will melt a little butter, or put parmesan cheese on it. If I am feeling fiesty, I will add a little cayene/chili seasoning with a tiny hint of sugar. Seriously, TRY IT if you doubt. But mostly, especially if I am sharing with Cooper, it is just salt.

Last week I was away for two nights at a conference for work. The Bob called, asking me how to make popcorn. This is when I realized that making popcorn is deceptively difficult. You think it is easy, since it is just kernals, oil and a pot on the stove. But there are the ratios. How much corn to how much oil? How hot do you make the burner? How long do you wait, listening to the popping before you pull the pot off the burner and let the corn finish popping without burning?

There is almost nothing worse than burned popcorn. No matter how you make it, when it burns it all smells and tastes the same. BAD. And you can ruin a good pot. Not to mention you have been jonesing for popcorn, and now it all tastes burned.

Here is my recipe for good popcorn:

I am not picky about the corn itself. I usually buy the bulk bag at the store for like 2.99 but one store I frequent only sells Orville Redenbacher kernals, so we get that every so often. I just bought two big bags from a fundraiser for the Boy Scouts from a friend at work, and this stuff is very nice. But stale kernals make for lame popcorn, so keep it fresh!

Use a heavy bottomed pot. I prefer a stainless steel, 3 or 4 gallon pot. Cover the bottom of the pot with a layer of kernals. Pour in roughly 2-3 teaspoons of oil. You might need to experiement with that to get it to your preference. I use corn oil mostly, because olive oil has a lower burn temperature, and will start smoking and burn sooner than corn or canola if you are not careful. But I have used a very mild flavored olive oil as well. Put the lid on the pot, set burner (we have an electric stove) at not quite high. If 10 is high, set it at 8. Let it sit until popping starts. Once popping starts you have to be right there. Once the pot is pretty full, and the popping has slowed down to just a few pops a second, take the pot off the burner, turn burner off, and wait until there are no more pops. The pot stays hot enough to finish the job leaving only a handful of old maids. I pour into a bowl, and season.

This makes a lot of popcorn, obviously you can adjust the amounts to get more or less.

Bob very successfully followed those instructions, and Cooper got his fix. And yes, I DID make some this morning to bring to work, and yes, Cooper did eat some on the ride to school. But he had other stuff for breakfast first. There are worse addictions to have. Just keep plenty of dental floss handy.

Monday, November 1, 2010

And then it was November

Does anyone else feel like it was just July? I can tell it isn't anymore, by looking outside and seeing all the leaves on the ground, and the colors have changed from all greens and pinks and oranges of summer to the steel gray of the clouds with the yellow and copper browns of the leaves up against them with the blue blue sky behind it all. Nevermind that my pool has been closed for over a month now. Cooper did not understand that at all. Where did the pool go? Why is it closed and why can't we swim anymore? The dogs like it when the pool is closed, because they can run across the cover, making the trip to the back corner of the yard where they bark like a murderous pack at the neighbors' dogs much shorter. They don't run as much as bounce like little astronauts on the surface of the moon because it is like a trampoline.

We had a very successful Halloween, although between our office party, Cooper's school celebrations, the Halloween parade we do in the neighborhood, and then finally trick or treating last night, it feels like we have had a week of celebrations. Cooper was Wolverine this year, which he rocked with his usual flair for the dramatic superhero.

Finally, the lovely and talented Karen Waldron of Chookooloonks fame, finally has her book out, The Beauty of Different. I will be getting a copy for sure! You should be checking it out too. Because we are truly different and beautiful because of it.

Happy November!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Doing things that scare you

Everyone has something that scares them, or at least makes their palms sweat a little bit as they face the task at hand. For me, it isn't heights, cats, dogs, snakes, public speaking. Spiders give me the shivers, but I will take them down if they make the mistake of being in my house.

Lately it has been singing in public that has had me nervous down to my core. I have been singing with a jazz group on campus for two years now, but in that setting I am one of a couple of singers with a four or so member band backing us. I have become more comfortable in that scenario. But every so often Harvey, the "leader" of our little jazz group, and someone I have come to call friend, will invite me to spread my wings a bit more and I have sung with him at Ryles Jazz Cafe in Cambridge a few times. Recently he suggested that he and I along with our bass player Matt, could form a trio and work up a repertoire of music and try to get a regular gig. I feel RIDICULOUS even writing the word "gig" but that is what it is. We have not worked very hard at getting one, so it hasn't happened yet, but we did perform for an hour at the retirement community attached to campus here at the college two weeks ago. One whole hour. Of just ME singing in front of what turned out to be Harvey on a beautiful Steinway, Matt on his upright bass, and one of our students, Brett who is a genius on saxophone. 10 songs.

I have never been so terrified, and that includes when someone was about to cut my abdomen open and pull a baby out. OK, I was on some pretty good drugs for that, so maybe these are not comparable experiences. But seriously, I have never, even in my college days of doing theater, been so nauseatingly petrified. I did not try to go it without some lyrics handy. I have discovered that in this setting my brain freezes up and if asked to sing a song, it is as if I have never ever ever learned any song ever in my life. No Happy Birthday, no national anthem, nothing will come to my brain. My voice works, my brain doesn't. So I created a small cheat sheet of lyrics, and really didn't need it most of the time, but the fact it was there made it better.

I decided not to record it, but to just let it happen and leave it to the universe and those present to remember it. It went really well. I flubbed a bit on Fly Me to the Moon, which I can sing in my sleep, but for some reason had a hard time hearing and finding the tune at the beginning. I seem to do really well, oddly enough, with tunes that fall into the Latin category. Two of them I had never heard before Harvey introduced me to them, Beautiful Love and Black Orpheus, aka A Day in the Life of a Fool. They seem to be in my wheelhouse range wise, and suit the quality of my voice.

What I learned is that I can do things that scare me and not only survive it, but conquer it, maybe even kick a little ass in the process. It will make the next time that much easier, and maybe by the time I am 60 it will be old news. By then I will have something new that will be scary to worry about - Cooper will be about college age by then. That is if I survive him being 4. But that is another blog post for another time.

Friday, October 15, 2010

It's been said, but it is worth saying it again, and again, and again until there is change

Over the past weeks we have been hearing in the media about a series of suicides by teenagers who were bullied, or harrassed by classmates, roommates and others in their lives for either being gay or being perceived as gay.

Many blogs have commented on this, and have said it more eloquently or with more passion than I probably can, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't say something or pay homage to these lives cut short so soon and so sadly. They are:

Justin Aaberg, 15, MN
Asher Brown, 13, TX
Tyler Clementi, 18, NJ
Billy Lucas, 15, IN
Seth Walsh, 13, CA and
Tyler Wilson, 11, OH

And it isn't just gays who face this sort of terrorism. Here in MA we had the case of Phoebe Price a teen who moved to the US from Ireland, who had the audacity to be different, and to date, however briefly, a boy from the popular group in her school. That made her the target of unrelenting harrassment from classmates that became so unbearable she hung herself.

This isn't new, being ostrasized for being different. People of color have been fighting this battle for equality and respect for centuries in this country. People who dress differently, talk differently, have earrings and tattooes, you name it if it makes you different it probably makes you a target for some level of unwanted attention.

As a mother of a young boy, I am more than a little terrified of something or someone hurting Cooper, and cannot make room in my conscious mind for the idea of him being dead for any reason, much less by his own hand. I can only hope that he never finds himself in a place of such despair, loneliness and torment that he feels that ending his life is a better option than seeking help. From me, from his father, ANYONE.

The world needs to change for the better. WE NEED TO CHANGE. I don't care what your religious belief system says about being gay. This isn't about that. I don't care what you were told growing up by your parents. This is about common decency, about treating people with basic respect for their humanity.

I went to a college which is a very conservative Christian college. Being gay was not okay there. My first roommate there had experienced a great deal of negative attention because she dated a guy who was a different race. It just wasn't done. I remember hearing that AIDS was God's way of punishing people for being gay. This is all unacceptable. I would like to think that in 25 years a more progressive, accepting attitude has been adopted, but I don't know.

You do not have to agree with someone in order to respect them, to treat them as you would like to be treated yourself. We need to rise above the hatred, and embrace that which makes us interesting, makes us beautiful. I want my child to be able to laugh, love and experience joy in his life no matter who he loves, what color his skin, eyes, or sports team he cheers for. It is our differences that make life such a blessed and beautiful experience.

I am quite sure no adolencent, teenagers are reading this blog, but if someone out there needs resources to deal with harrassment and bullying, they are out there.

The Trevor Project is there for gay teens who are in trouble, considering suicide as an option. The It Gets Better youtube channel has hours of videos from people talking about their own experiences with bullying and harrassment and how they stuck it out to find out it truly DOES get better.

No one should feel so lost and alone and harrassed that death seems a better option than living. We need to stop the hatred, and start the loving.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Time flies and then he is at the dentist

We have achieved yet another milestone in Casa de Cooper: the first trip to the dentist.

Don't look now but he might have a crush on Shannon, the dental hygenist.

Look Ma, no cavities! He has however, inherited my propensity for tartar and plaque, so I was glad he would sit still and let her scrape his little teeth. And then polish them. The lure of a new tooth brush is strong.

In other news, we went to the aquarium this weekend, Cooper and I. The Bob had to work, so off on the train and into Boston we went. Cooper was all about seeing the sharks, which led to serious disappointment, as it turned out the sharks were on a vacation at a different location while the main tank was being treated for some parasite or bacterial infection. Once he discovered that, he was all done being at the aquarium. Glad we spent that $40.

This is the face of No Sharks.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The world has plumb gone crazy

OK. I have this child, he is almost 4 years old, and I would like to state for the record right now that I would like this world to FIGURE ITS SHIT OUT before I have to launch him into it. Because the evidence so far is everyone out there has gone LOCO.

First there was the guy in New Mexico who decided it was a good idea to kill a dog with a chainsaw. WHILE HIS CHILDREN WATCHED. What level of demented do you have to reach to think, as Cooper would put it, this was a good choice. In fact, this was a series of bad choices with a side order of raving lunatic.

Then there was the mom who was arrested for watching her high school daughter fight a girl from school and coached her while she was fighting. Oh yes, and it was caught on MANY videos, posted on the web and honestly, every person who just stood there while the fight was going on, hooting and hollering, should have been charged with something. Sadly being stupid isn't illegal. Yet. The problem is who gets to decide what is considered stupid.

The woman said she went to the fight, to make sure her daughter wasn't hit in the back of the head by her opponent, as she had sustained a skull fracture, from a "previous incident." I am sorry, WHAT? She didn't go to STOP the fight, but to make sure her daughter, who apparently has a history of getting into "incidents" where she can sustain a skull fracture, didn't get hit in the back of the head. You know, possibly causing more injury. She was arrested on charges of child abuse.

Then on the news this morning was the story of a 14 year old boy in Providence RI who stole a van from a local organization, caused one accident which got the police after him. He refused to stop for the police, and during the pursuit he caused another accident, killing a 9 year old girl and injuring her mother and siblings. And himself.

I am not providing links to these stories as I really don't want to connect to these ridiculous and revolting stories, but they are out there. Google it if you would like.

What is wrong with these people? Why don't they have that thing in their brains, in their souls that says "HEY, this is actually a really bad idea. People will get hurt, I might get hurt, I AM HURTING OTHERS. And hurting others is bad." What happens to someone along the way in their lives that causes them to stop thinking that way?

If I thought moving to a farm in the middle of nowhere would help, I would do it. But it won't. The world has a way of finding its way in, so you need to learn how to deal with it. But I don't know how you explain things like this to a small person. So far I don't have to. He is blissfully unaware that the world can be this wrong. He gets glimpses though. When a little boy he doesn't even know tries to take a toy away from him at the park, Cooper's toy, not a generic it belongs to anyone toy, he sees that people can make bad choices. And it makes him sad and confused. We were at a different park recently, and there was a line to get up a slide. There was a group of little girls who were maybe his age or a bit older, who had no problem just cutting in line in front of whomever they chose. And I could see Cooper working this one out in his head. That it is wrong for HIM to cut and not take turns, but somehow these girls didn't observe the same rules. But they should. You could see he thought that. And eventually one of their parents intervened to support that in fact, they should be waiting their turn, but it was interesting watching how he responded.

But seriously, the world has lost its mind, and I want someone to fix it. Maybe if we all just take that moment before doing something and ask "Is this a good choice" we might, one choice at a time, make a difference. Because let's be honest, I am probably not cut out for raising ALL my own food and living the Laura Ingalls Wilder lifestyle. I need the world I live in right now to be a better place.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Swash Me Buckle, What have ye been doing in here?

Avast! It has been a few weeks since I posted, and you guys have made a mess in here. Me decks need swabbing and the bilge needs, um, bilging. No one has dusted or vacuumed and there are empty rum bottles in the crows nest.

It is Talk Like A Pirate Day. Ahoy!

Things have been hectic and exhausting lately. The opening of the semester was ridiculously busy. We spent the last two weeks hunting down missing students, clearing late arrivals, and generally putting out fires. Everyone is wiped out.

On top of that, Cooper began pre-school. He is still at the same school he has been at since he was 9 months old, but now he is upstairs in the Big Kids room. There are 15 kids in the class, 11 are boys. If I thought *I* was tired, I can only imagine how the teachers of his class feel. I have done day care, and it was the best birth control I could imagine. However, Cooper is having a great time. He gets to take gymnastics once a week in this class. When we get to class in the morning, there are all kinds of activities set out. Most of the time I just want to stay and finger paint or play with trucks too. But not enough that I want to change careers to be a day care teacher again.

In other news, have any of you ever tried growing cabbage? I planted 6 plants months ago. Gus pulled one out and ate it right away. I don't know why. He is a strange dog. But the others have been growing and growing, but have never developed any head. Stop it, all of the adolescent males out there. The picture on the tag shows a standard cabbage head, you know, like a smallish bowling ball. But all I have is a very large plant of loose leaves. It said they should mature within 70 - 85 days, and it has been that long. I am not sure if the leaves are edible, or even tasty. Next year I will have to try a different species.

And when did it become fall? Suddenly it is totally dark out at 7pm and it is dark when we wake up. There is one benefit to that, Cooper stays asleep past 6am. Most of the time. This morning he woke up crying at 5:20 from a bad dream. I have been awake now for almost 4 hours. On a Sunday. We should probably go apple picking or something, but honestly, my whole person just screams "Sit on the couch matey and drink grog." Or tea. Not very piratey but then, neither am I.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Grace in small things

There is a blogger, Schmutzie, who began the idea of noting officially the things for which she is grateful. The little things, because it is the little things that often have the most impact.

My list for this Sunday morning:

1. Cool almost fall mornings that dawn bright, and fresh and crisp.
2. Almost 4 year old boys who tell you "I like you mommy" because sometimes being liked is as important as being loved.
3. Watching a squirrel for two hours this morning methodically climb across the electrical wires, and down the pole with nuts in his/her mouth to bury for the winter. I don't know where they are being buried, but this squirrel is going to be ready when the first snow flies.
4. Coffee.
5. Friends.
6. Coffee is worth mentioning more than once.

Hope you are all having a nice Labor Day weekend.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The wind blows in a new direction, finally

For the last year and a half The Bob has been for all intents and purposes unemployed. He did make a few dollars in real estate, but it didn't take off in a way that made it possible for him to make what he was making as a software engineer. We worked our way through the severance, then through the savings. We were looking serious financial crisis straight in the eye. Finally he found a new software job.

This month is the first month where the financial situation will finally take a turn for the good. The first pay check should arrive soon. We switched over to his health insurance coverage, which is significantly less than it was through my work. Cooper's day care costs are going down this month since the older classes cost less than the younger kids classes. And our mortgage is going down.

Back when people thought we were crazy, we got a 5/3 ARM. The original rate for the first 5 years was good, and we figured when we got to the point when it would reset, we could reevaluate the rate and refinance if we needed. The good news was that this month it resets and for once the crappy economy is working in my favor. Mortgage rates are lower than ever. We could let the rate we will have now ride for 3 years, but then it will reset again, and I am fairly sure that unless the world REALLY goes in the crapper, interest rates won't be lower than they are right now. Our lender offers the option of locking in to a fixed rate now if we want, at this nice new low rate. And yes thank you, we do. And it does NOT involve refinancing. So without paying all the refinancing costs, we are going to lock into a new low rate, and save $300 on our mortgage per month.

Even before we get a paycheck for The Bob, we should save almost $900 a month. Now, if we are smart, we will funnel that right back into our savings account, to begin rebuilding that, because there is NOTHING in it right now. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. The universe could not have waited any longer really, to cough up that new job. But I will not spend any time whining about the past 18 or so months. I will be grateful what we have now, and try to plan very carefully for the future.

Now if I could just feel better physically. The throat feels better, but this cold/virus will not let go. I guess it will eventually.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Kicking my butt and taking names

Hello! In case you were wondering, I am alive, barely. Three weeks ago I came down with a cold, but it started as a migraine, followed by full body aches, then congestion and a sinus infection, capped off by what is apparently a virus that has attacked my throat. I have felt like a thousand bees have taken up residence in my throat and are stinging me regularly. Today is the first day I have felt even remotely human. It has seriously been kicking my ass and taking names. The doctor (I have spent $75 in copayments in the last month visiting his office) said it sounds like I caught a childhood virus, probably from that petri dish I live with called my son, but it has settled in my throat. Only time and diligent consumption of pseudofed and advil will provide relief and eventual healing.

In the middle of all of that Cooper and I went on our annual pilgrimage to Friendship ME. This year two out of the three sons of my friends we visit with were there with their respective spouses and children. It was great to visit with the eldest, as I have not seen him in probably 10 years, and we are almost the same age. He and his wife met later in life like The Bob and I did, and they had a child in the same time frame that we did. I spend so much time around parents who are at least 10 years younger than myself I appreciated being around people who are facing parenthood with the same set of limitations and perspective I am.

This is the cove we saw every day while there.

This view is why I go back every single year, along with the great friendship and relaxation we experience.

Our friend John is a train enthusiast, and each year we have taken Cooper up, he has taken us to see this train that is being restored in the Sheepscot/Wiscasett area. The track has been restored for about 2 miles, and we get to ride out and back on original cars pulled by an original engine. This year Cooper and John also got to ride and work a real hand truck.

And here is Cooper on the train, holding his ticket. He loves doing this and John enjoys having an enthusiastic friend to share his hobby with.

In addition to the train, Cooper also went on his first motor boat ride, to go looking for seals, which we found. He loved it. It couldn't go fast enough as far as he was concerned. Can you tell he was loving it?

He also went on his first kayak ride. Since I was piloting the kayak I did not get any pictures of this momentous event. However, he loved it. We used a friends double kayak and he sat back enjoying the ride, until he asked me if there were any whales in the water. I said I didn't think so, but there could be. It was then he said he was ready to go in. For the record, there have never been any whale sightings in the cove.

All in all it was good trip, I just wish I felt better. I got sick right before going up there last year too. Now I need to recover because the semester is starting in two weeks and I will need all of my energy to get through that.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Memory of Pain

I remember with great clarity the first sinus headache I can recall having. I was 6. It was a lovely sunny day. Sinus headaches always blast me the most on sunny days and there is little humidity. It is a cruel irony. They also happen when there is a weather front on its way to change conditions from whatever to something else. I am a walking barometer.

Anyway, this day when I was 6 I was in pain. My cheekbones hurt. My teeth hurt. Moving my eyes hurt. I lay down, it hurt. I sat up, it hurt. Our neighbor noted that it was too bad I was in pain, but my eyes were beautiful. Big and shiny.

Yesterday I had a migraine. I don't typically get them, although my father and brother have been plagued by them all their lives, and we are quite sure my paternal grandfather was as well. I generally can still manage my day, but I leave lights off and try to minimize the noise in my life. Which, hello, I live with three dogs and a three year old, not easy to do these days.

When I picked Cooper up from school yesterday, they said he had had a tricky day. He was weepy a lot of the day. Whined for me for 15 minutes after I dropped him off, cried whenever someone even touched him as if they had punched him or cut him. I looked down at him and saw big shiny eyes. Dark circles under them. "Oh my little bean, I bet you have a headache" I said.

Last week he was in this sort of state, and I decided to ask him if anything hurt. I didn't suggest WHAT might hurt, just if anything did. He nodded and said his teeth hurt. Ah, I know that feeling well. A little childrens motrin or tylenol and half an hour later he felt MUCH better. You could see it in his eyes.

The Bob rarely feels unwell. He hardly ever has a headache, a body ache, and when he gets a cold, he sniffs and moves on. I can see that sometimes my experience of pain which can be a full body, don't touch me or I might cry kind of experience is frustrating. It is hard to explain that sometimes the change in pressure in the air can make me feel like my head is going to implode and all my joints ache. Or like rabid porcupines are trying to crawl out of my eyeball. That loud voices resonate in my cheekbones as if a dentist was drilling without benefit of novocaine. But that is my experience and there isn't much I can do to stop it. You just take some stuff and ride it out.

Seeing the same symptoms in my child makes me a little sad. I hope for his sake it is mostly a sinus/weather thing, and not migraines. It won't surprise me if we do see a migraine or two in the next couple of years, but I hope it is not like it is for the other men in my family. But at least I know what I am dealing with and what can be done. Like not living where tornadoes are prevalent. I mean, that is a good idea for many reasons, but that kind of pressure change could put me in a coma. And then how would I get into the cyclone shelter?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Strength and Power Within...

I give up. That whole posting everyday thing is for the birds. By the time I think about the fact I haven't posted for the day, I am in bed half unconscious and am NOT getting up again to post.

In other news, I have two stories of two friends. Both have extraordinary strength and courage and deserve to have that noted for posterity.

First is a story of sadness, but within that sadness is strength and a future free of fear and pain. I have known this woman, L, for more than 10 years, and for all that time up until 2 years ago, she was a single person who lived her life fully. She is a runner, she has a life full of family and friends who love her. She is one of the most positive and joyful people I have ever met. It remained a mystery to many of us that she continued to be single, but then she finally met a guy. It was a long distance relationship, as she lives here and he lives in a more southern state. But eventually they decided to marry, and had a beautiful wedding in Hawaii.

Last week I saw her and noted that she did not wear what most would consider a traditional wedding band. I couldn't even recall if I ever noticed her wearing something more traditional. I asked if what she was wearing was her wedding ring. She paused, and in that moment I knew I would hear that she was getting divorced. What I wasn't prepared for was the rest of the story. The short version is he was an incredibly abusive man, who was vastly insecure and would belittle her, verbally assault her, and even went as far as to abandon her in another state, without any ID, cell phone or money during a road race they were running in. She ended up having to go to the police to find her way back to where they were staying.

It is an all too familiar story, how she didn't see it before they got married, and I am sure the long distance relationship helped hide any flaws, and then after they were wed the demons surfaced.

Fortunately for her, they own no property together, they have no children, and getting divorced will be relatively easy, especially since they live in separate states and he is not contesting it. I give her so much credit for standing up for herself and saying she is worth more, she deserved more. She feels humiliated and embarrassed, but that will pass. No one I know will judge her, we all care too much about her and want her to be happy and safe. Having been through a very amicable divorce, but still feeling a little bit of a failure, I know it is hard. But she is strong and positive and will survive.

The other story is completely different. There is a man I know who is gay and has been in a long term relationship with his partner and they have just adopted a little boy. Adoption is crazy on many levels, and most people attempt to adopt an infant, either privately, domestically or abroad. This couple decided to go through the Department of Social Services, and have adopted a 3 year old boy.

As a mother of a 3 year old, I think this is heroic and amazing and they deserve some sort of serious award. With sparkles and flowers. Sure they are skipping all of the infancy crap - no midnight feedings, no colic, no projectile vomit or diarrhea, but they are getting a fully formed personality handed to them, that they had no hand in shaping. They are getting a kid smack in the middle of the "WHY" stage. The "But I HAVE TO" stage. They are taking a child who has spent most of his short life in foster care. No matter how good a foster family is, that comes with baggage. They have chosen to do something that is hard to begin with, adopt, and adopt as a same sex couple. As advanced as we are as a society, we still seem to have issues with a few things. And they are adopting an older child. If that isn't love and commitment, I don't know what is.

I am so proud of these two people. Well three if you count M's partner. But these two individuals are examples of how to persevere, to stand for what you believe in. Don't let other people define you, be the best you you can be. And I am grateful for knowing them and having this example in my life.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Will you please stop talking...

Lately everyone in my life is talking A LOT. Not The Bob, but the Coop is definitely on some sort of talking marathon. And I cannot find the off button. The other day I was getting ready for work and he decided he should be upstairs with me, and it was NON STOP. "Mama, what are you doing", "Mama, what was that sound you are making", "I am pretending this belt is a rope, I swing on it", "Mama, where are you" and so on. I was exhausted and it wasn't even 7am yet.

Tonight we had a new yoga instructor, who was subbing for our regular instructor. His name is Fez, and he talked the entire class. I know most people think of yoga as this very spiritual, quiet experience. And that is true of some classes and styles of teaching. Not so much in Iyangar yoga, and DEFINITELY not for Fez. And I found it just a little annoying. Like when you go for a massage and the massage therapist talks through the whole thing. Hellooooo, I am here to RELAX, not talk to you. I don't know you that well, and frankly, I am paying a lot of money for you to just give me an awesome massage and NOT talk to me.

It is likely Fez will become the regular instructor for this time slot, once the new studio opens. I will probably continue to take his class, because there was something he said that I really liked. He shared that he was a cancer survivor. Prior to treatment he had been at a pretty highly developed level with his yoga practice. After treatment was done, he had lost a lot of his drive and ability to practice at that level. His instructor advised him that he needed to be gentle with himself, and that sometimes it is when you find the middle of your ability that you find the greatest opportunity for healing. You can see the outer or upper edge of your ability, but you don't push to get there. You work in the middle, and heal.

And I really appreciated that. Sometimes the whole idea of constantly growing, pushing, challenging is EXHAUSTING. I want to do X, whatever X is - yoga, singing, working, what have you, but there are times when the status quo, the place where I am comfortable and NOT challenging myself to grow, change, be more, is JUST FINE BY ME. Sometimes you need to just be in the middle, and be. To heal, to enjoy feeling a level of expertise at whatever I am doing, to feel competent for a moment. Most of my life is spent feeling like I am catching up, learning or just plain making it up as I go. I like the idea of working where I feel competent for a little while. So I thank Fez for pointing that out and giving me permission to give myself a break once and awhile.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

And the knot unravels just a little...

Today Bob was offered a job. A year and half after being laid off. And it is a HUGE relief. That knot that has been living just below my belly button unraveled just a little bit today. I was so happy for him when he told me. He had been working so hard at trying to make the real estate thing work, and unfortunately given how hard it is to break into that industry AND the lovely economic climate we are living in, it was not panning out quite as we had hoped. He is still going to keep it going as an option, but the full time job is what we needed.

Here is my kid enjoying his Buzz Lightyear action figure. For some reason Buzz says "Tally Ho!" when Cooper is in charge of his adventures. I do not know where that comes from. He cracks me up.

Today George Steinbrenner died. I am not a Yankees fan. Never have been, never will be. The Red Sox and the Indians are my teams. But I have spent most of my life hearing about Mr. Steinbrenner, and he was certainly a force of nature. His feuds with Billy Martin were legendary. He will certainly be missed for a variety of reasons.

I think today's lesson has been that I was more anxious about our financial situation than I was willing to admit. The relief that this job represents is astounding. I am so happy for him, for us.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

This is working out well...

Well, I am already an abysmal failure with the whole posting every day thing. This is why I never kept a diary either. That and rereading my adolescent blathering was beyond painful. Why anyone wants to revisit that angst I do not understand.

Friday I took the day off. I usually have Fridays off during the summer but with the holiday falling on Monday, we didn't have it off. But I decided to take it, since I have had to sacrifice some days off recently due to work related emergencies. The Bob had a job interview in the morning, Cooper went to school, so I got to have HOURS to myself. Gloriously alone. It doesn't happen very often anymore, and I forgot how nice it was to just BE. Not have anyone else around, talking to me, needing something from me, climbing on me. I worked out, took a swim and went shopping for some items I needed to celebrate my friend TR's birthday that evening. I also had rehearsal for the jazz trio in the evening. And here is my thing I learned for Friday. In preparation for rehearsal, I listened to the recordings of previous rehearsals I had made. I can tolerate listening to myself sing, but I HATE listening to myself talk. I am not sure I can even do justice to what I think I sound like. Most people do not like hearing recordings of themselves talk, so I am not unusual in this. But I was surprised at how flat my voice sounds. It annoys me to no end. So my solution to this is that while I am recording the rehearsals, I pause the recorder in between songs. That way I don't have to hear my annoying, flat, toneless voice. Weird. I am sure it is not that bad. Really. Yes it is.

Then on to Saturday. Because Cooper is completely into cartoons right now, and VERY into Wolverine, we have been watching the X-Men cartoons. Over and over again. I grew up reading the X-Men comic books my brother had, so I am pretty well versed in the X-Men characters. But there are some that I cannot remember at all. So, because I am good mom and love a good research project, I spent time on my friend Wikipedia, looking up the more obscure characters I didn't remember. I now know more than the average 46 year old woman should know about Gambit, The Banshee and Jubilee, as well as about some of the "bad" mutant dudes, like Juggernaut and Omega Red.

I SAID that not all the lessons I learned would be deep and life altering.

That brings us to today. The morning is not even over, and yet, I have learned something. My child is a consumer of the first order. I said I needed to go to Target for a few things, like razor blades and some lotion, and Cooper lit up like it was Christmas morning and said "GO TO TOY STORE??? BUY TOYS???? BUY BUZZ LIGHTYEAR????" He has not even seen any of the Toy Story movies, and he knows who Buzz Lightyear is. And he loves shopping for toys more than almost anything. I said we could look at Buzz stuff, so when we got to Target, we went off to the toy section. Cooper bopped from one isle to another, finding another and another and another thing to look at. At one point he stopped, put his hands up and said with wide eyes "There is SO MUCH stuff!"

Since I recently received some birthday money (Thanks Mom and Grandma!) I decided we could get Cooper one thing. So he opted for a Buzz Lightyear action figure (not figurine as I have been reminded more than once). Now Buzz, Iron Man and Spider Man are having an adventure in my living room. It is his own Toy Story in action. At least he puts these things to use.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


I shall just say it - I work with some incredible people. That is something I already knew, but today reinforced it. The big ugly thing that has been somewhat consuming at work is nearing an end, and part of today involved dealing with that. And through that interaction, I was reminded that I am truly a very fortunate woman. I work with smart, talented and gracious people, and this means more to me right now than I can express. In particular I learned how great the president of my college is. I have heard people express that they think he is a cold person, or not interested in knowing people at the college, but I know without a doubt that that is just not true. And today confirmed that.

My lesson for the day: It is easy to take for granted the people you see every day, that you talk to every day. But when the chips are down, sometimes you find that those are the people you can count on to be your champion, who hold you up and make sure you know they believe in you. And for that I am grateful.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

One thing...

Today is my birthday. HELLOOOOO 46. I like my age, for now. I haven't worried too much about it other than when I realize how old I will be by the time Cooper is in college. Older than the average bear for sure. I am the same age, if not older than, most of the parents of the students I work with now which on some days is disconcerting and other days makes me wonder WHAT WERE THEY THINKING having kids at such a young age.

Anyway, I have been puzzling through, wandering around in my head considering things I could do on this here blog each day for a year. A lot of people have done things with their blog like that. A picture of themselves a day for a year, that kind of thing. I don't feel the need to torture myself or any of my thousands of readers with a daily picture of MOI, so that was not the answer.

This morning my boss asked me if I felt wiser, for having advanced another year. And I realized that was the thing. Rather than consider just once a year what I have learned, I think I will attempt to put on here once a day one thing I learned that day. I said I will attempt to do it once a day, because if the interwebs conspire against me or I find myself in a black hole of access to technology on any given day, I might not be able to post.

I don't promise it will be profound every day either. It might be something as obvious as Do NOT put a liter of soda in the freezer. Unless you want to defrost and clean your freezer. You have been warned.

Today's thing I learned: Apparently one could say I have a very eclectic taste in music. My boss was asking me about iPods, as she is JUST getting one for the first time, and I was showing her mine and how iTunes works. She noted that I have Bach and Bossa Nova in my library, along with jazz, blues and blue grass and Aerosmith to name a few. She asked how I get exposed to music and find new things to listen to. I thought to myself, good LORD I don't even come close to having the exposure to new and different types of music that other people I know do, like my brother or some of my more creatively inclined friends who spend way more time on iTunes or Pandora listening to music. But in her mind, I have a broad range in my musical tastes.

So there it is. I am musically eclectic. Who knew.

And I miss the ducklings. I don't miss all the poop, but I miss their peeping and their little fuzzy selves. Apparently I am a duck person.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ducks in the house!

This weekend we are hosting some exchange students. Some fluffy, yellow, peeping exchange students.

Meet Jack, Mack and Baby Quack. Only 3 ducklings survived of the original dozen Cooper's class incubated. They do not have a permanent home to go to yet, and they are a little young still, so they needed someone to keep an eye on them over the long weekend. I jumped at the chance, because I am a nut. I love these little fuzzy guys. Makes me wish I lived on enough property that I could keep them. However, I do believe that ducks are counter indicated with Schnauzers. Since my one dog, Ghengis Gus as I am calling him, has been at least partially if not completely responsible for the death of one mole, one bird and one chipmunk so far this summer in my yard, I think ducklings would be right in his crosshairs.

This is their home in my dining room for the weekend. They kind of smell. Actually, the ducks don't smell, their food smells. I thought it was the poop, but when I mixed the food the first time, I realized THAT is what smells. It is just a corn kind of smell, but it is stinky.

The easiest way to clean their cage is to put the top of the cage on the ground outside and hose out the bottom. They can't swim yet, they don't have the oils needed to float and stay warm, but they love to splash around in a shallow pan of water, so we put them out on the front lawn and had the neighbors visit.

And has anyone else noticed that my 3.5 year old is a giant? When did he get that tall???? I swear he grows an inch every night while sleeping. He is going to be 6 feet tall by September if he keeps this up.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

For Audobon Ron

Cooper's class is the older toddler class at school, and it is the class that always hatches some ducks each year. So far we have two ducklings, Jack and Baby Quack. Two more will have been born by Monday, as they had broken through their shells yesterday afternoon.

Ron raises ducks on his property down there in the wilds of Mississippi somewhere. I thought he would appreciate a shout out and a picture of ducklings.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How you park your car...a window into your soul

From my seat at my desk in my office I can see part of the parking lot behind our building. Which gives me something to look at while pondering the deep and imponderable depths that is college financial aid and other related topics. Like how the federal government is going to define a credit hour and how that impacts life at our college. It is RIVETING over here people. RIVETING.

Anyway, as I stare out the window wondering how to implement the next oh so well thought out financial aid regulation, I notice things like how people park their cars. This time of year I have fewer examples to go by since there are very few students on campus, but sometimes that gives me even MORE information to go by.

It is my theory, and I am sure I am not breaking new ground here, that how you park is a direct reflection of your personal gestalt, your world view and how you view your place in the world.

Most people observe quite nicely the painted lines, the signs that indicate that spot is for handicapped parking only, or for faculty and staff only, or for visitors to campus only, or that a particular spot is, in fact, NOT for parking in at all because that would block the fire lane. These people are also probably the people who share easily and graciously, wave people in front of them at a 4 way stop sign or let the person trying to cross a busy street go before driving through an intersection.

But inevitably, there are those who think that rules are not for them, or that they are merely guidelines which, should they need to, can be ignored. My personal favorite is the person who chooses to park in the aforementioned no parking because people might die when the fire department cannot get past your stupid car spot. There is always one of those each term. Parking there has the added benefit of also blocking in at least two other cars who are legally parked in spots perpendicular to the no parking spot. So someone parking there thinks they are more important than a)leaving the fire lane open and b) the people who are legally parked and might need to get their car out when you are blocking them in.

Then there are the people who decide to park where there is no spot, at the end of a row, despite the fact there are perfectly usable, open spots in the lot, but just further way from the buildings adjoining the lot. Because college students are notoriously unfit and debilitated and cannot possibly be expected to walk an additional 20 feet.

These are the "me first" people. The ones who turn right on red even when the sign says NO TURN ON RED (and usually that sign is there for a reason, like it is a dangerous intersection for doing that) or who zoom around you erratically if they deem you are not going fast enough on the road, or you are waiting too long to make a turn.

Lately though, the most entertaining person in our lot is the person who parks her car, head in, but 5 feet away from the front of the parking spot. So her tail is sticking several feet out of the spot at the back. I know who this person is, and I cannot say that this level of caution combined with cluelessness is surprising. The fact that she is so overly concerned about bumping into something in front of her that she risks her car being bashed into from behind completely aligns with her personality and general approach to life. She has, more than once, made life difficult for me because of her blind devotion to something, and completely disregarding the need to pay attention to something else. She does not work in my department, but we have reason to work together a few times a year and it usually involves me groaning and bashing my head gently on my desk.

It is probably not a surprise to you that I am an observer of most rules. I would not do well in my chosen profession if I wasn't. I park where I am allowed to park, neatly, within the lines, leaving enough room on either side for people to open doors and not smack into the next car. And that pretty much sums up my world view and my view of my place in the world. Play by the rules and no one ends up needing body work. It doesn't always work out that way, but it could, if people would just observe proper parking lot etiquette. A girl can dream.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What to say...

I have been putting off writing this post because the topic is sad, and it is hard to know what to say and it strikes fear into my heart, truth be told.

Katie Granju is a blogger I have come to appreciate through her writings on Babble and at her personal blog. She is a very honest, open writer and blogger and has just experienced a loss that is probably the worst a parent can ever experience, the loss of her oldest son, Henry.

Henry was 18 when he died on Memorial Day. He died as the result of injuries he sustained from a brutal beating during a drug deal gone wrong, and then from the drug overdose he took after the beating. The ordeal is outlined pretty clearly on both of her blogs.

I have cried many times while following her updates after he was hospitalized, and I have been reading her updates regarding the investigation into the beating and drug deal, as well as what she has to say as she revisits Henry's struggle with addiction and how she and the family dealt with it.

It is horrible to lose a child, of that I have no doubt. It is probably terrible no matter what the circumstances, but I can see how she is struggling with the idea that somehow she failed him, that this might have ended differently if they had only found that one thing that worked for him to get him into recovery. He had been through a variety of addiction programs, including two extended stays at residential facilities, and yet within weeks of his return from the last stay, he was using again. It is safe to say that Henry was not at the point where he was ready to let go and let God.

I have never smoked pot, or taken any illegal, controlled substances. It just scared the crap out of me to consider doing it as a child/young adult, and as an adult I came to recognize that my own chemistry was not one that mixed well with certain kinds of drugs. I also come from a family with a history of addiction. Katie's story is one that hits close to home, and makes me stop and wonder how things will go for Cooper.

I don't question at all how Katie and her husband and ex-husband handled the situation with Henry. It is not for any of us to judge. When you are dealing with addiction, you are up against a tornado and quicksand covered in fog and slime. It is a life out of control, and only at the point a person says "I am helpless against this" can they begin to heal. Sometimes it doesn't happen soon enough. I cannot imagine the pain that Katie and her family feel.

This is where all of my fears about parenting crystalize. Now that Cooper is in my life, the idea of losing him, in any way, or of him being hurt by his own hand or by others, is just nauseating, potentially paralyzing. Can you even protect them enough, and yet allow them the freedom to be their own person, learn about life and grow? How do you educate them about the dangers of drugs - and I will say this out loud here - POT IS DANGEROUS. Specifically if you are an addict. The problem is that people often try pot before they ever know if that is an issue for them. It is the way they found out they are an addictive personality. Sure there are some people for whom it is nothing. They try it, they move on. But for many, it is a dangerous and slippery slope.

Dealing with the question of drug use, experimentation, alcohol use, etc. is something that we, his parents will learn to navigate I guess, as he grows. Bob has been down this path with mixed results with his older children. Ultimately though, no matter what, you have very little control and that is where the anxiety lives.

I pray for Katie and her family, hoping that by writing his story she finds some solace, and brings more awareness to the issue of drug addiction and treatment.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The one in which I eavesdrop on a yoga class and see a better world...

As I have mentioned before, I am taking yoga again. In exchange for one class a week, I do a few things for the studio, including checking in for our class, and maintaining the Facebook page for the studio. I wrote this note on the FB page this week after taking class.

I usually take the Wednesday night 5:15 class, and because I handle check in for that class, I try to be early. This means that I am there when the class before ours is ending. This is a class for young girls, taught by Christyn S. As I stood in the foyer yesterday (it was rainy and cold otherwise I would have been outside on the steps) I could hear her walking the girls through a pose that involved partners. I didn't peak in to see what they were doing, but it sounded like one person was being supported in a position by the other person.

I could hear her telling them what to do, and then I could tell they were doing the pose, and there was a lot of "Whoo hooo!" and "Yes, that's IT" and general sense of accomplishment going on in there. After they had switched and done the pose with the other person being supported, Christyn said something that I thought was fabulous. She congratulated them all on doing the pose and doing it really well, and she was proud of them because she saw that not once did the person being supported in the pose ever seem to expect to just be supported, that that person worked just as hard to maintain the pose as the person who was providing the support. The pose was about team work, and in all the cases, she saw each girl working together with her partner to do the pose well, as a team and she was so proud of them for working so well together.

I don't recall if I have said this here before, but I sort of loath partner poses. I am a Yankee born and bred, and I like my personal space and I REALLY don't like touching other people, other sweaty people, or having them touch my sweaty person. I mean, I don't KNOW most of the people in our class nearly well enough to, you know, TOUCH them other than to maybe shake hands. I am being a bit dramatic, but that is what my brain says when any instructor - JUSTINE - suggests we do a partner pose. I really do get a bit weirded out when someone stands too close to me, or, heaven help me, hugs me and I am not prepared for it.

But as I stood outside of that class yesterday, I thought what if I had had the opportunity to do yoga when I was 8, 9 or 12 years old, and had gotten used to doing things like partner poses early on, and how would my personal outlook on life have been altered if someone had in such a positive and encouraging manner praised teamwork at that age, you know, outside of my parents who did a great job, making sure I knew how to share with my brother and friends? I am a pretty good team player, but I am also 45 and have had 20+ years of working life to get good at that.

These days it seems the message we get from the world is ME ME ME and ME first. We have seen first hand what that kind of self centered approach has gotten us as a society - a credit crisis that has us looking at the worst unemployment numbers since the Depression, companies closing after decades of being in business, and an oil spill in the Gulf that is threatening to ruin the environment and way of life for fisherman and coastal communities for a very long time, to name a few.

The fact that Christyn was, in such a positive and enthusiastic manner, encouraging and reinforcing the concept that teamwork is good, that all parties have to put out effort to make something work right, to me is awesome. I don't know if in the moment those girls heard the message the way I did, but I assume that this is probably a normal part of how she teaches class, and I hope that because these girls are taking this class, and might continue to take classes after this one ends, that they hear that message, and it sinks in and sticks. Because I truly believe they will be better citizens of the world for it.

So kudos to Christyn, and thank you too, for helping in your way, to make a difference in this world, one yoga pose at a time.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hello Universe, it's me, Midlifemama...

So yeaaaaaaah, after that week with the auditors and blahblahblah, I had another week where I felt like every time I turned around, I was doing something wrong. Turns out some of that was PMS. Whee. But the other part was me, kind of being distracted and doing stupid stuff. Awesome.

Then on Monday we got word that The Bob's mother was admitted to the hospital with funky heart stuff. She had a mild heart attack, and what had previously been diagnosed as "a touch of emphysema" was probably full blown emphysema, and now might be more than that. He went up Thursday, and Cooper and I went up Saturday. She is in a rehab facility now, trying to work toward a point where she could go home again. But she has to be able to take care of herself, which is starting to look iffy. Whee.

Cooper refused to sleep by himself in the second bedroom in her apartment. Which meant he ended up sleeping with me in the other bedroom. Where the cat was. 4:30am and Cooper is awake announcing to me that the CAT! She's in the WINDOW!! KITTY!

Did I say Whee already?

The good news was we didn't hit any real traffic going up or coming back. She lives in Lewiston Maine, which is a hotbed of activity. If by activity you mean they had a tornado touch down in the town next door, and you too can have dinner at Dudley's at the Ramada Inn where they have a buffet with 30 senior citizens. We know how to have a GOOD TIME. But we realized that dinner buffets are perfect when trying to dine with a 3.5 year old whose idea of eating out is "how fast can you get in and out of any dining establishment".

Speaking of dining out with Cooper, my friend Harvey the jazz man performed at Ryles Jazz brunch a week ago, and invited me to sing with him. Below is a 1 minute segment of me doing Summertime. I had never performed this song with him other than in rehearsal before. I was a bit nervous. Harvey has invited myself and Matt, the bass player from our college group to work with him as a trio to perform out in the big wide world. This is an exciting and nauseating prospect. More about that another time. Let's leave it at Midlifemama is trying to find her bliss where she can and taking whatever opportunities the universe offers her to stretch her wings and not think about financial aid for a few minutes. One of the most gratifying moments of my life recently was Harvey's face when we were done with this song and I knew he was proud of me. He told me later it was a very professional performance. Which is a high compliment coming from Harv.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Can anyone say LIFE COACH?

Oh HEY there! Long time no post. It was a horrible no good very bad week here in MidLifeMama land. Summer is supposed to be a carefree, lazy, floating in the pool staring at the clouds time of life, right? Not so much. I think I want to move to Australia.

Side note: I must say that a lot - not so much. Because the other day we offered Cooper a sampling of a new cereal, Chocolate Cheerios, which The Bob seemed fond of, I am kind of on the fence about. He took a bite, and handed me the bowl. I asked him if he liked them. "Not so much" was his response. That kid makes me laugh.

Which is a good thing, because I need all the laughter and happiness a soul can get these days.

Thursday was the breaking point. I had spent all of my time at work working on two huge and very stressful things, one is the evil thing I cannot talk about, and the other is the annual audit of our office. The audit is stressful because this is an outside agency who comes in to make sure you are doing your job correctly, and there are reports to run, files to pull, trees to kill by printing pages and pages of screen shots because they cannot see the information they need. Then you get to the point where they are done, and you get to hear about the mistakes you made. This year went pretty well, but the one thing they found was a process issue, and resolving it means closer coordination with the student accounts office, and after the week I had had, I sort of broke down. In front of the auditor. Which was AMAZING. She is a very nice person and not at all trying to make me miserable, and had it been JUST her or JUST the other evil thing, I probably would been OK. But I wasn't. There was crying. Whee.

So I got home, and ordered pizza because I was NOT going to be in charge of one more damn thing that day. The Bob was all "OK" and I was all "The Mama's armor has some fractures, do NOT ask me to make any decisions beyond pepperoni or black olives."

When it came to Tubby Time as we call Cooper's bath, Cooper did what he has begun doing at bath time, Naked Dancing to Music by Nightlight. I don't know exactly what this says about his future extracurricular activities in the teen years, but he likes to get naked, turn out all the lights, get some music going on the radio and dance before he gets in the tub. This particular evening we found some quieter music, and he sat in my lap with his hairbrush microphone, and he sang along with the music and it was MAGICAL. He didn't know the songs, but he has an ear for music, and was humming along pretty much in tune most of the time.

By the end of tubby time, I felt worlds better. I am still stressed, but eventually it will all be over. But in all seriousness, this has made me stop and wonder what OTHER career could I embark on at the age of almost 46 that would not involve going back to school, and I could support my family doing? I am coming up el blanko.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Reflecting on beauty...

I don't know Chookooloonks but I have been checking out her blog, and she just announced she has a book coming out that intrigues me.

She is obviously a talented writer and photographer, and since I have begun embracing Twitter, I have been following her there.

This book focuses on how each person is different, and how that difference can actually make us beautiful. To quote from the website: "This book is designed to connect, inspire and encourage you to reconsider those attributes that make you unique, and reframe them as characteristics of distinction -- maybe even your superpowers."

Superpowers! Now we are talking. Because as I look age 46 in the eye (July 7th!) and am more and more aware of the impact of aging on my physical body (hello shoulder, you haven't bothered me lately, what's up?) what with the extra pounds and puffy eyes, I feel less and less beautiful physically. But through the eyes of others, like a three year old boy, I am crazy talented.

Let's review just a short list of my amazing, mad skillz: I can read, I can cut paper with sharp scissors and use glue. I am allowed to touch the remote and drive a car. My powers are ENDLESS.

Even with adults I can appear rather superfabulous. I produce tasty, even delicious meals using only leftovers and a can of diced tomatoes. I can find that missing thing that no one else can find, and is usually being demanded by the aforementioned three year old. That voice, that demand, makes his father almost blind to the point he can't find the door out of the house much less that third fire fighter that goes with that particular fire engine that Cooper has decided he MUST PLAY WITH NOW.

At work I am The Problem Solver. From helping a student figure out how to pay the bill to finding the jam in the copier, I am that go to person. Got a baby bird that fell out of a nest? Call me. Need some feminine hygiene products or a band aid? Come to my office. It isn't like I advertise these talents, but people seem to assume that I am a well supplied, prepared, and come armed with bird related wisdom. FYI...all I did about the bird was get an empty box, scoop the bird into it without touching it and plopped it under a bush nearby. After that it was on its own. The world has enough Sparrows.

My point is I don't think we give ourselves enough credit when it comes to the things we do everyday, but that we are really good at. That make us that person others seek out in times of happiness or sadness, or to help a bird in distress. We don't see those skills, those talents as beautiful, but we should.

I am looking forward to reading The Beauty of Different, and I am making it my personal mantra for the foreseeable future to consider my considerable talents, and to find the beauty in them. In me. Thank you in advance Chookooloonks for redirecting my mindset.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

It was just one of those weeks...

I feel like I have been going a mile a minute lately. Even right this minute I am keeping my eye on the clock because in 10 minutes I need to be over at Cooper's school to have his parent/teacher conference. Yes, even at 3 they have them. But that is cool, because they send you this evaluation that tells you all the great things you need to know, like he is on target with all these developmental milestones, and they say things like "We love having Cooper in class and we will miss him when he moves up to the next class". So it is a good visit.

I have done things like meet Bossy and a bunch of other fun bloggers like DaddyScratches and Meg of The Members Lounge to name a few. Meeting Ms. Bossy was great, and yes, she is THAT thin.

Things at work have been crazy, and then I cannot think about the oil spill in the gulf without wondering how do we become less dependent on oil and natural gas because if you think that is a clean fuel, you need to know my friend Pam whose life has been made hell by natural gas drilling.

This is why I cannot read books like The Omnivores Dilemma. I would probably stop eating if I knew more about where all my food comes from.

Anyway, that is a bunch of random thoughts, just to say HEY I am still alive and well, and hope you are too. Later. Must go hear how great my kid is now.

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's Perfect...

Yesterday was Mother's Day. The day started out with me waking up far too early for the time of night I went to bed the night before. I had gone with our neighbors (The Bob stayed home for a variety of reasons including but not limited to a lack of child care options) to a gathering for another set of neighbors who will soon be relocating to Maryland. We went into Boston to a place called Gaslight, which was loud but nice. I had been at a birthday party with Cooper for one of his friends from school just before going, so I had eaten pizza and ice cream and didn't need to order more than a glass of wine and enjoy my friends' company.

As the evening wore on, it became apparent that the neighbors I drove with were, well, drunk. So I said to the husband, "Am I the designated driver?" to which he responded by handing me the keys. The good news - his Accura is a nice ride. The bad news - I had to be the heavy and almost drag his lovely but seriously inebriated wife out of the restaurant at 11:15pm and try to keep her from flashing her tatas to the entire bar on the way out. That gal is a GOOD TIME for sure. She is quite hilarious actually, drunk or sober. What was supposed to be a quick evening out to celebrate with the neighbors became a repeat of many of my younger days, when I was the only sober person in a group of happy but silly and drunken people who all think that, after 5 cosmos it would be a GREAT idea to order shots, and then someone suggests going dancing and the sane and tragically sober person who is suggesting that if you are in charge of Mother's Day brunch tomorrow at your house, at 9am, for all 25 members of your immediate family who live in the area, you might want to leave now before you get MORE drunk, is such a an ol' stick in the mud no fun party pooper pants.

No one actually SAID that, but for anyone who has been that sober person, you KNOW THE LOOK.

Anyway, I am normally unconscious, in my bed, by 10pm most nights, so getting home and in bed at 11:30pm was LATE for me. We planned on going to brunch at Mel's, this great diner type place, first thing to beat all the other families with the same brilliant idea, so off we went at around 7:15am. We had a very nice breakfast, and not once did my child say "ALL DONE" and then insist on leaving. He was not interested in actually eating, but he was having a good time.

After that we went to Target, as I needed to pick up a gift card for my work study student who is graduating next weekend. Cooper LOVES Target, the place where all things Spiderman and Iron Man live. He immediately began asking for the Iron Man items he has been coveting since seeing them in a catalog. They involve a helmet that completely encompasses the head (a VERY important aspect to masks and helmets, according to Cooper), doohickeys you put on the hands that light up and an arc light that goes on the chest, that look like the repulsers that Iron Man has. Target sells all of these items, and after perusing them, I asked The Bob what, if anything, did he feel we should purchase for Cooper while we were there. The option of leaving without anything was real, but did we want to consider buying any of them?

We decided, since they were all on sale, to purchase the helmet. It was what Cooper wanted the most out of all of them. On the ride home I unpacked and assembled it, and he was thrilled. We arrived home and he ran in the house and was walking around the living room being Iron Man, when he turned, put the visor up on the mask and said to his father "It's perfect."

With that one little statement Cooper pretty much summed up my Mother's Day experience. Who doesn't want to provide, if at all possible, that item that fulfills your childs' aspirations, whether it is for a plastic helmet with eyes that light up and a British voice that makes statements like "Iron Man, return to Stark headquarters immediately" and then makes rocket noises, or something more lofty.

Motherhood. It is a lot of things, from frustrating to joyous and everything in between, and for at least a few hours yesterday, it was perfect.

Friday, April 30, 2010

I've Got the World on a String...

Wednesday night our jazz group performed the one and only time we will perform this semester, as part of a larger symposium of student projects that is presented at the end each term. We have some students in our group, the rest of us are faculty or staff, except for our outstanding upright bass player who is the husband of a staff member, so we get to perform during this event. The evening included 5 groups, the chorus, the a Capella group, our jazz group, the student rhythm and blues band, and then a presentation by a music theory class that was 17 students performing Fantasy by Earth, Wind and Fire. It was hilarious.

The energy in the room was fabulous. All of the groups did a great job and I think everyone had a great night. This is the one creative outlet I have that is just for me, and I have such a good time doing it. Harvey, who leads our little band of merry minstrels is a professional musician, and as a result of working with him over the last two years, I feel I have improved in both my actual singing, but also in my stage presence. I won't lie, it is a rush AND terrifying to perform in front of people. Especially people I work with, students who see me in my professional capacity. Our group aside from Harvey is just a bunch of amateurs who like to perform and we only get to rehearse one hour a week together during the semester. So all things considered, I think we do a fair job of it.

The video is just of one song, I've Got the World on a String, which was hands down my favorite, and I got to sing a good portion of it. So be kind in your review of it. In case you can't figure it out, I am the singer in the middle, bluish shirt.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A boy and some kittens...

For your entertainment, the video from Cooper's visit to kittenland, otherwise known as my friend Jen's house, where she is fostering a mother and her 5 new kittens. The mommy cat and her little tortoise shell kitten remind me of my first cat, Griffin, who passed along after 16 years together about 5 years ago now. If it were not for those demented Schnauzers I would be bringing a cat home. Although I do NOT miss the smell of cat litter AT.ALL. I had embedded this from Facebook, but it seemed to block some people from viewing, so hopefully this time things are easier to view.

It's 2am...why am I awake?

I rarely have trouble sleeping. Even more so since having had a child. I am usually half asleep on the couch by 10pm most nights and rarely see this side of midnight unless I am up with a sick kid or in the basement during the great flood of 2010.

But tonight, here I am. Awake. With almost nothing creative or useful to say. This blog has been pretty quiet because my life has not been. I am staring a book, Any Given Day, by Dennis Lehane, which I have been trying to read now for months. It seems like my free time comes in 20 minute spurts, and then should be put to use by doing things like washing some dishes or vacuuming instead of something frivolous like reading. For pleasure.

Work is still crazy. I go in with a list of 5 things I need to accomplish that day, and get sidetracked by 12 things I wasn't expecting. Or one BIG thing that I didn't want to spend 5 hours on, but there it went. Time is constantly sucked away by that Big Thing. I am hoping that Big Thing is going to be gone soon, but I am not holding my breath. My boss is hopeful it will go away soon too. We have all spent way too much time on it. I wish I could be more specific about it, but I can say that it has been one of the most frustrating, at time demoralizing and definitely disappointing exercises I have had to participate in. Ever. Hopefully by the end of the summer it will all be done, and maybe I can someday share my frustrations.

In the meantime, Cooper continues to keep us all entertained. We went to visit a friend who is fostering a mother cat and the kittens she just had three weeks ago. I asked Cooper if he likes cats or dogs better. CATS he said without hesitation. Hm. That is inconvenient. We are not getting any cats until most of our dogs are no longer in this life. The Schnauzers believe all cats are part of a major conspiracy and should be destroyed. That is not conducive to peaceful and harmonious home life. So no cats.

He has begun being a real grown up kid. We have watched Chicken Little, a cute animated film about Chicken Little who saves the world from an alien invasion, about 12000 times in the last two weeks. He has picked up from this movie the funny verbal distraction of saying "What were we talking about?" when he doesn't want to do whatever it is we want him to do, or answer the question we have just asked him. It is like he is 12 already. And because it is FUNNY, I laugh. And boy does this kid like to make a person laugh. You can see his eyes light up, and then he keeps trying to make me laugh. Since he loves a good prat fall as much as the next person, and loves to make people laugh, I can see a future as the next Chevy Chase of his generation. I am okay with that as long as we skip the part about addictions to various controlled substances. The Mama will need to be supported in some fashion in her dotage, why not through making people happy?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Princesses, they are not just for girls anymore...

My son is obsessed with princesses. He has recently watched a variety of shows or movies that feature princesses, and he "luffs them" as he likes to say. The Princess and the Frog showed up in Cooper's Easter basket, and he has watched it many times now. Inside the DVD case was a pamphlet of Disney products, like other movies - Beauty and the Beast has definitely caught his attention - or the other merchandise that goes with the movies. Cooper has carefully kept this around, and looks through it frequently. He tells me every time he "luffs" the Princess and the Frog figurine. "Put it on my list" he will say. The list is the invention our our friend TR, who spends a lot of time with us, and told Cooper when he sees something he would like, he has to add it to his list for birthdays and Christmas. It is quite genius.

Today Cooper and I took a little trip to Whole Foods, to see if they sold the kind of yoga mat I have been considering getting, now that I am going to yoga more often. They don't by the way. On our way to the store, Cooper said that when we got to the store, he wanted to look at phones. "Phones?" I asked. "Phones. Princess phones. I want a princess phone" he responded. WHU? Where do they get these things? Must be TV. He has seen commercials for Barbie, with light up jewelry and shoes (obviously the street walking Bimbo Barbie) and he will say "I LUFF that!" Pretty much if it involves either pretty girls in fancy dresses, or dragons, he loves it. You cannot fault him for being well rounded.

This week we have also had some new adventures in culinary choices with Cooper. He ate a Sweet and Salty peanut butter granola bar - the first time he has eaten peanut butter or peanuts or a really chunky granola bar, and a plain bagel. Just sat down and began chomping on it like he does it every day. Which he does NOT. He has refused to eat bread of any kind since he was 10 months old. It was one of the first solid foods he would gnaw on, and then he just stopped and refused to look any bread in the eye.

Just when you think you understand what is going on, you don't. Cooper also wants to add to his list a princess costume. If a Spiderman costume got me a potty trained toddler, what can a princess costume get me, do think?