Saturday, February 27, 2010

And then she blew my mind

I am sure we all know someone who is really good at visualizing something. Some people can write music like they breathe, some people can decorate a room perfectly, some people, like my boss, can visualize a spreadsheet like no one's business.

She can't actually CREATE the spreadsheet. She is the first to admit that she is much better at using a pencil and paper. But the other day we needed to pull together a huge amount of information in a very specific way. My brain was seizing up just at the thought of having to sort all of this information into the right format, and she sat down with myself and our Institutional Research guy, who IS a whiz at creating spreadsheets and reports, and outlined what she wanted just by visualizing it.

She could describe exactly what she wanted each part of the spreadsheet to include, how it should be sorted, what the cover sheets for each part should look like. I just sat there thinking "THANK GOD Richard is sitting there taking notes and knows what she is talking about" because if I had to do that on my own we would have been there a looooooong time.

I am quite sure I am good at certain things. But I sit in awe of my boss most of the time. She is one of those people with such a clear vision of things at times that it just blows my mind. And makes me wonder if even with another 10 years of experience if I would be able to ever do what she does even half as successfully as she does. Which is inspirational and depressing all at the same time. I learn so much by working with her, but often go back to my office thinking "I am sooooo inadequate."

Mostly I find it inspiring. I don't know if I ever want to have a job like hers, it is a huge responsibility and I know she loses sleep at night over having the fate of a college in her hands regularly, but I am grateful for the opportunity to work for someone like her. Maybe some of her visionary ability will rub off on me.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Once upon a time I was a very active, churchgoing individual. Over the years, as life has happened, as my world broadened and expanded, I stopped attending church. I didn't stop believing, I didn't abandon my faith at all, but I did stop going to church.

I have found it difficult to put myself in a place that is so limiting. I don't appreciate the exclusionary attitude many churches approach life with. That is not to say all churches are like that, but many are. I began to feel that there were other ways for me to worship that didn't involve being in church.

And then life happened. Again. Much like it is easier to be good at yoga if you go to yoga class, it is easier to be mindful of your spiritual life if you go to a spiritual place. With the arrival of Cooper in my life, my life took on a life of its own, if you know what I mean. It is that much harder to find a space in it, physically as well as mentally, that allows for me to get to that spiritual center. And I miss it.

I recently discovered a website that can be at times sort of sappy, but it suggests one thing a day that you can do to be mindful in your life. Today's suggestion was to "Take a deep breath and relax; it is all unfolding as it should."

Which is something that I KNOW, but keep forgetting. It is easy to get bogged down in the minutia, the franticness, the freak outs about fire fighters, the crap at work that you want to ignore but can't, pretty much EVERYTHING that takes your brain and soul away from experiencing life as a wonderful and blessed thing.

And it is wonderful and blessed. And things tend to work out the way they are supposed to. I mean, you have to participate, you have to do your due diligence and meet your obligations, but assuming you are out there doing what you need to, things work out the way they should.

So I am breathing, I am taking a moment and I am trying to give up the anxieties of the moment to the universe.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Do you see that image above? These are three little fire fighters that come with a little Fisher Price fire house. They come with these little vest/hat combos that you can take off and put on at will.

The first time Cooper saw them, he didn't want anything to do with the one that has a mask on it. That is the one to the far left. It has an oxygen tank on the back. It is not like the other two, and that BOTHERED him. "Take it off take it off take it off" was his mantra. Meaning take off the mask, not the whole vest. He wanted the mask off off off. Upon being informed that the mask was not removable, that it was a part of the vest/hat combo, he lost his ever lovin' mind, wailing and screaming and gnashing his teeth. So I took it away. It sat on the kitchen counter, taunting him.

A little while later, he decided he WANTED this vest with the mask. And for about 10 minutes all was well with the fire fighting world. Sirens were heard, fires were put out, and then came the next request. "More mask" he said. "MORE MASK" he demanded. Now, instead of wanting the mask to be removed, he wanted ANOTHER mask. But there are no more masks. This is it. Two with no masks, one with.

You would think I told him that I killed Fireman Sam himself. The wailing, the screaming, the general FREAK OUT was more than I have ever seen from this kid. I ended up taking the whole thing away, putting it in our room. When he persisted in freaking out, I put him in HIS room. Eventually I took some milk and a Nutragrain bar to him, which he consumed voraciously, suggesting this was a slightly hypoglycemically fueled freak out. Eventually he agreed to come downstairs but he couldn't have the toy back. I said the store took it back. They would only return it if he ate some more food and settled down, AND agreed to play with it exactly the way it was made. Eventually he wanted me to "call the store" and fortunately, the store delivers directly to our bedroom. I retrieved the fire house, and all of the fire dudes. And all was well with the world. For now.

Tomorrow is another day.

The pictures below are from yesterday, when we woke after a big storm to a beautifully blue and white and pink day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Back to yoga

I have been missing yoga. I do it at home periodically, but home practice is not nearly as good as being in a class where the instructor makes you do poses that are harder than you wanted to do, and makes you do them the right way.

I had been going to classes offered by Justine, who is Australian and yells things like "Blossom your bottoms" while you are doing downward facing dog, or in Sanskrit Adho Mukha Svanasana.

So many poses in yoga are things you will see either your dog, cat, or kid do. Seriously. Downward facing dog is exactly what you think - your dog is stretching, front feet stretched out in front of him, head low to the ground, butt up in the air and the back stretched out long.

My favorite is Savasana, or Corpse pose. You always do this at the end of practice and you lay flat on your back, or with a rolled blanket under your knees if you have back issues. You relax, soften your eyes, breath and try to not think about all the things you are going to do after class but just BE. It is HARD. In India people will spend all day in this pose, with cows wandering by, kids running around and general mayhem occurring all around. And yet they lay there, meditating, or not thinking, just being. But let's be honest: the reason it is my favorite is I get to lay down and do nothing for 5 minutes after having worked hard for the past 60 minutes. It is bliss on toast.

I get itchy during Savasana. It is partly because I just spent an hour exercising, but it is also psychological. My nose or face usually. I have to scratch. It is impossible for me to ignore it. So perhaps you can argue I fail in Savasana, but I don't really care. LAYING STILL FOR 5 WHOLE MINUTES.

Anyway, I am going back to yoga. I am going back to class with Justine, although she has expanded enough that she has other instructors now, so I will be taking class with Nadia. What I am also doing is taking class for free in exchange for providing some sort of service to the studio. I told Justine about wanting to come back, but not really being able to pay $17 a class, once a week. I couldn't justify it with Bob not working. The nice thing about Justine is that she is really trying to grow a community, and is in the process of opening a new studio so that we won't be doing yoga in the fellowship room of a church anymore. And she needs people to do things. So we are working out an exchange of services. I get to take a class, and she gets something from me. I may work at checking people in for a class, or manage the Facebook fan page which needs HELP.

I went tonight for the first time in probably two years and it was hard but good. I will be sore tomorrow. If anyone tries to tell you yoga is not a work out they are either lying or doing it all wrong. I will be putting a yoga post here periodically to talk about how it is going and what I am learning.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Everything and nothing

Lots of work stuff going on, new students to begin awarding for next year, current students to get aid disbursed for, things and things and things and yet, nothing of real interest to talk about.

It is that time of year when I am TIRED of being cold. I like snow, I like the change in the seasons. But it has been frigid here for too long. Even on days when it is sunny and looks nice out, it has been 19 degrees out. Today is the warmest it has been in awhile, at a balmy 35 degrees. It snowed yesterday, nothing like it did south of us in the Philly and DC area. But I am quite over winter. I know it is not over with us, but I am ready for flowers and sun and not needing to put three layers of clothes on to go outside.

I am ready for that smell in the air that says the snow is gone and the flowers are pushing up through the thawing soil and I can open the windows and let the Buster bunnies blow out from underneath the furniture.

Bring on spring.

Monday, February 8, 2010

One of the perks of working in my office...

There are a variety of perks to my job, for working at this college, and specifically for working in my office.

Caper. She comes to work every day with my boss. She has been coming ever since she was 8 weeks old, and is without a doubt, the BEST BEHAVED DOG in the universe. And I know about poorly behaved dogs. Every morning she comes in the front door of our building and bee lines for my office, so she can squirm and snuff at me and get a treat. She comes in throughout the day unbidden just to say hi.

This is a picture from about 5 years ago, when Caper came to visit at my house once while her mom was out of town. She and my juvenile delinquents get along fabulously. If by fabulously I mean Poncho, who was not in the world at the time of this picture, growls with absolute ecstasy whenever she is around. I would never dream of bringing any of my dogs to the office, as they have this thing about BARKING at EVERYONE and NOTHING AT ALL and generally not being nearly as user friendly as Caper. But she certainly does make coming to the office a little more fun, even if that does involve more hair on my clothes.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Maybe I need a personal assistant...

As with many kids, Cooper has a high tolerance for watching the same TV show or movie over and over and over again. We go in spurts with movies. He will lock onto one and watch it every chance he gets for a week straight. He will decide that he wants to watch nothing but Max and Ruby episodes one week, and the next week it will be back to back Dinosaur Train episodes.

What is funny is watching him watch things. This weekend has been an all Finding Nemo weekend. We have had this movie for two years, and he has watched it many times before. But this weekend, it is like he is memorizing it. He sits there, with his toy diver and shark, acting out the movie and saying the lines he knows. There is a scene where the teacher of all the little fish, a sting ray, is singing a song about the zones of the sea. It has a lot of fairly complicated words, most of which I can't catch, but Cooper will hum along with it until he gets to the part that goes "Sea weed is good, sea weed is fun, it makes its food from the rays of the sun" and then he sings along. Cracks me up.

Cooper's older brother Nick was famous for this kind of thing too, and I have a brother who has been known to watch movies and TV shows A LOT and memorize lines. I am not that good at remembering lines. Bob is, but I am not.

I can't even remember when birthday parties are. Cooper was invited to one yesterday, and after I remembered on Friday that the party was the next day and we didn't have a present yet, I still managed to get the time wrong. I was CONVINCED it was at 3:30 in the afternoon. Turns out it was at 11am. We were at ToysRUs at 11am, buying a little stuffed dog that comes in its own carrying bag. The little girl in question has no pets, and she loves our dogs, in theory at least, she has never actually met them in all their growling glory, so I thought a stuffed animal that comes with its own purse to carry it in would be funny. At least it doesn't make any sound. Toys that make noise should never be given as presents if you still want to be friends with the parent of the child.

Anyway, after I logged onto my email and checked my calendar, at 2pm, and was reminded that in fact the party happened several hours ago, I called and owned up to it. Thank GOODNESS I figured it out before I showed up at their house with Cooper and a present all ready for a party at 3:30. OY.

But this is what I do. I remember that I have an appointment, but I get the day or time totally wrong. I try to use date books and the calendar on my phone, but even with that, I can get it all wrong. I am compulsively on time, I just might have the WRONG time. This might explain my obsessive rechecking of itineraries when traveling. It is one thing to miss a birthday party, another to miss a flight.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Beans and brown bread and barf

The baked beans and brown bread - delish. Well, the bread was alright. I prefered the bread from Costco we had. Bob loved his brown bread in a can. The beans, awesome.

That meal had NOTHING to do with the fact that Cooper is now home with The Stomach Bug. He wouldn't eat anything for breakfast, which is always a sign of SOMETHING. Went to school at 8am, got sent home at 10am, having thrown up. Another friend in class was sent home for the same thing.

Let's will MidLifeMama spend the next 48 hours...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Bob and I might just go take a nap until Cooper is 18

It is Bob's BIRTHDAY!!! Happy Birthday!!! Over the weekend I was washing some dishes thinking that I completely stink at buying him birthday presents and what in the WORLD was I going to get him...when the angels smiled on me and he walked into the kitchen sheepishly and said "I've been bad."

Me: What did you buy???

Bob: It was on sale!

Me: You bought an iPhone didn't you.

Bob: It is a refurbished one!

Me: Happy Birthday!

See how that worked out? No more guilt for anyone. Of course there will be dinner, of his choice (I am looking at you Audobon Ron) which will be baked beans a la the Pioneer Woman's recipe, brown bread from a can Lord have mercy on us all, and a dessert yet to be named.

In other news, I was wandering around some blogs the other day, and happened on an entry from Jenn@JugglingLife where she was talking about a book that she was given to review The Body Scoop for Girls, a book on sex, geared toward teenaged girls. The ensuing discussion and comments made me put my head on my desk and wonder how in the world did my parents survive my teen years and my brothers. Don't get me wrong, I, by no means, was the party animal in high school. But I did have boyfriends and dated and how do you trust that anyone is going to be OK out in the big bad world. And someone is going to have to have The Talk with Cooper some day, and probably sooner than I am even prepared to think about it if the commentors on her post were anything to go by.

If I recall correctly my mother had to have the first Talk with me when I was around 8. I had come home from school, where one of my wiser than his age friends had told me I should not refer to a cat as a pussy. When I asked why, he very sagely said I should ask my mother. So I did. I don't recall if it all made sense, or even what my mother said, other than to explain that it was a term some people used for lady parts. It wasn't too long after that that, compliments of our somewhat progressive public school system, we began having health classes in school and discussions about bodily functions and changes that take place as you grow. And then there were always the books that most young girls read at that time, like "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret". I was fairly well BOOK educated on what was what, if not life educated. And I am OK with that.

But I have to prepare my son to be a respectful and kind to others young man. We have to. It isn't my job alone, The Bob, a respectful and kind to others man, is in on this deal too. Kids are exposed to so much so early. I would like him to just be a kid, and not have to worry about sex and drugs and bullies for a long time. It just makes me want to take a nap.