Sunday, September 30, 2012

The cosmos is kind.

Today started out poorly.  Well, it didn't totally start out poorly. The children slept until 7:30 and that was lovely.  And the morning was actually quite harmonious until about 10:00 a.m. when I asked "Who wants to do a craft?"
"I don't." Coen said, walking away and sitting down to a pile of disassembled Legos."
"I do!" Lucy said enthusiastically.

I saw this in a magazine--a craft activity for a fall tree art project:

 So I got out the paint and q-tips and everything and made a prototype for Lucy. 
"That doesn't look like leaves!" she said.
Really, in retrospect, I should have known it was over from there.  But I persisted.
And Lucy was frustrated when her first q-tip dot didn't look as round as mine and she angrily smeared paint all over her tree trunk and then cried.
It only got worse after that and I'll spare you the gory details.  Mostly it involved me trying to give Lucy alternative ideas for painting and her getting frustrated that it wasn't turning out how she wanted. But it ended in Tad taking Lucy upstairs and me going for a bike ride.

I learned a couple things from this:
1. Lucy (and perhaps many perfectionist four-year-olds) doesn't do well with a prototype because their own artwork never looks just like the prototype and that is very frustrating.
2. When a morning is going fine, I should just let it roll instead of suggesting an organized activity.
3. The cosmos is kind when you let it be.

The reason for number three is that while I was biking around, I was thinking such negative things to myself as:  "I am an inadequate parent." Mostly because Lucy is so different from me and the things I am good at doing are not always or usually the things she wants or needs from me.  And it is hard.  And so I was trying to push the not nice thoughts away and sort out my head. I rode around Washington Park and then down the Boulevard when I heard my name being called.

It was my friend Maria.  Maria recently published this book.   You should check it out.  Anyway, I stopped and we proceeded to have a lovely 15 minute conversation which turned my mood around.  I rode away feeling better and thinking about the different ways people give and receive love, heal and are healed,  and need each other to be.  I came home and was greeted by my little girl yelling "Mommy!", thrilled to see me and having worked out her own issue in her own head the way she likes to do it complemented by a little space from me.  And we cuddled and I told Tad about my chance meeting. 
"That was a cosmic encounter." he said.
Thanks Maria, for the cosmic encounter-coming around the corner when I needed you to. 
Thanks Lucy, for being who you are.  My strange, introverted, different, beautiful child.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Holding pattern


I feel as though I am in a holding pattern.

I'm the only one in my family who did not have to go back to school/work. I worked all summer.  And now my whole family is adjusting to being back to school/work.  I am waiting for them to give me the signal that I can come in for a landing upon back to normal.  Lucy spends all day being quiet and complacent and comes home and is anything but.  I know it's a lot to get used to for her.  I'm trying to be patient.  Coen is back to worrying about whether he'll get his work done so he can earn his "Friday Free Time"  In a sad twist of irony, he finished his work this week only to find out from me that I'm picking him up early for his nine-year-old check up and he'll miss Friday free time anyway. Oh the tears. The kids aren't the only ones back to school. Tad's adjusting as well.

At work, I'm heavily involved in placing students in job shadow experiences for Disability Mentoring Day. But now I have calls in to dozens of places and many tentative matches and matches waiting on times or contacts or confirmation. So I'm just sitting at my desk, staring at my email, waiting for someone to call or message me.  Occasionally I walk down the copy room to see if there's a fax.

And it's autumnal outside.  Which means it will get cold and I'll have to deal with coats and footwear in the morning in addition to dealing with morning itself.  I usually get migraines in the fall too, so I'm even waiting for those.

I know that once we all get into the swing, things will be just fine. Even when snow pants get involved.  I know that I'll get all the work done and the project will be successful as always.  I know that the leaves will fall and it will be beautiful outside and I can wear my cute sweaters and tall boots.  And even my migraines will come and go.

I'm just ready for the airport officials to wave me in for a landing with their flashlight things that look like light sabers. And for the seat belt sign to go off.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Major problems in footwear town.

Seriously. If I have to have one more argument about tights, socks or other footwear related items I am going to move to a planet where no one has any feet.

It is getting cooler out.  So no more sockless sandal wearing for Lucy.  I'm telling you, I did not know how good I had it. Sockless sandal wearing is heaven, I now realize.

Lucy is now having a daily debate about leggings, socks or tights.  Most of her tights she doesn't like for some reason or another--too orangy, not stripey enough, these ones itch! Whatever.

So she has a couple pairs which she loves and they are torn to pieces in the crotch area but she's wearing them anyway. I took her shopping at Target for new tights for the fall season and she said she wanted Halloween ones.  I found a whole rack of Halloween-related footwear and showed her.  I pointed to a pink and black striped pair.
"Those are NOT Halloween tights." Lucy said caustically.
"Well..." I tried.."Look. They have a Halloween label. And some of the stripes are black."
"No." She asserted. "They are NOT Halloween. Pink is NOT Halloween."
So I found a pair of purple ones with black cats on them.
"Look at these, Lucy!" I exclaimed with all the enthusiasm I could muster.
"Those are NOT Halloween either." she said, "Those are cats."
*sigh*  I knew there was no explaining that actually cats are a Halloweenish symbol so I put them back. 
Then I found some with spider webs.  "Look! Halloween ones!"
Lucy took them.  Felt them. Put then back. "These will be too see-through-ish"

I snuck the pink and black ones in the cart and she has worn those a few times to her credit.  But just for fun, she took some scissors to them and cut holes in the right thigh.  Awesome. Now even her new tights have holes.

Then on Sunday, adding injury to insult, she sliced her pinkie toe on the laundry basket somehow whilst trying to throw a yellow balloon up in the air and catch it with said laundry basket. 
Trying to get ointment, a band aid, socks and then footwear on her on Sunday morning was literally an hour-long process filled with tears, arguments and throwing oneself on the floor.  I won't go into who did what.  Actually, I was quite proud of my saint-like patience in that situation and I did get her into footwear and on her merry way eventually.

Yesterday after much debate over which tights to wear with her dress and a meltdown about how uncomfortable the tights were and a last-minute change AT THE MOMENT it was time to go to school into different tights and the choice to wear shoes she'd never worn before, she made it off to school.  And came home with blisters.

So now she not only has an injured pinkie toe (which has now caused a nightly battle over the application of neosporin on top of the what-to-wear circus) AND blisters on both her ankles.
She came down the steps this morning in a shirt and underwear, tights in one hand, skirt in the other crying and claiming that she was "NEVER putting anyfing on her feet again!"

Holy. Balls.

She is currently at school in tights, shirt, skirt and back in her comfy keens.  I, for one, could not be less excited about whatever is coming later on this evening as we pick out her clothes for tomorrow and decide what is going to be on the bottom half of her body.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Converse Heist

For my birthday in June, my sister bought me, as requested, a pair of red Chuck Taylors. 

Then I broke my toe and didn't wear shoes all summer.

When I finally put them on, I realized they did not fit.  They were a size 7 1/2 which is my pre-pregnancy size (How one's feet can grow simply by having a child in one's uterus is beyond me, but I digress).  So when my sister and I went to the  Amazon website to see if we could exchange them, we found that too much time had passed and it was too late. 

So I had to plan a Converse Heist. 

9:00 am Friday morning I went to Footlocker.  I purchased a pair of size 8 red Chucks.  Then I went back to my car.  I tossed the new shoes on the floor and put the Amazon-bought too-small shoes and put them in the box from Footlocker. 

9:21 am I headed east.  And got a haircut.

(Now you might be wondering what the haircut had to do with the heist and I will tell you, it had nothing to do with the heist.  I needed a haircut.  Well, that's partly true.  I needed a haircut and I thought if I went directly to the other Footlocker store to which I was heading, they would see from the receipt, that I had just visited another footlocker only minutes before.  It might look suspicious.  The haircut gave me some buffer time.)

10:40 am I went to the next Footlocker. I presented my too-small red Chucks in the box in which the fitting red Chucks came.  I told the clerk that I wanted to exchange them for another pair, but in black.  She got me said shoes from the back and then returned to the register.  I stared at the counterfeit money detector and shuffled my feet nervously. What if it could detect my heist?!
"Yeah, my sister got me these.  But I wanted black." I said, acting super casual.
"Hmmhmm." She was either not interested or somehow on to me.
She asked for my ID
Then gave it back.  Smiled. "You're all set." She said and gave me the new shoes.


11:00 am Heist completed.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

In all seriousness...

I was recently invited to be part of a national roundtable discussion on a campaign to end sexual abuse of children with disabilities.  This roundtable is being put on by the VERA Institute of Justice and Ms. Foundation.   I was recommended by a former coworker and then given a phone interview to see if I would be a good candidate for this event. 
They invited me last week and all my expenses-hotel, flight, travel expenses...will be paid for by Ms. Foundation. 


I feel so honored and excited to do this.  It is a subject that I feel passionate about and as many of you know, a main part of my job is running abuse prevention programs for youth and children with disabilities through classes and workshops.  And being part of a national conversation... I'm just so excited to be at the  table.

The problem, however is this.  I'm going to have to be serious for three days.  THREE DAYS of seriousness. I am not good at being serious.

Already, I can't stop thinking about how funny it would be to barge into that room and demand that our table better actually be round!  Sometimes when I am in a place where one is expected to have a serious demeanor, I get even sillier.  One time I was at a party with government dignitaries in Estonia, hobnobbing and after an hour of being serious, I found myself in between two very tall, very serious political figures with a melting chocolate cookie smashed between my fingers, looking up at them, and saying "I like cookies." And then walking away before I burst into hysterical giggling in front of them. 

I know it'll be fine.  I can be serious.  I just prefer to be silly.

I guess it won't hurt if I bring a little humor to the table.  However round it might be. (The table, that is.)

I gotta be me, right?

Me being silly in 2012
Me being silly in 1976

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Coen is nine.

Today my little boy is nine years old!  I can't believe that I have a nine year old.  How did this happen?! I remember being nine!  He has been, since the beginning the sweetest, most sensitive, weirdest child and I feel so lucky to be his mama.

Last night, I asked him what color he wanted the frosting on his cupcakes to be and he spent - I'm not kidding - ten full minutes looking over his food coloring options.  That is my kid.  He makes his decisions with unbelievable patient deliberation.

Then I asked him if he wanted to open his presents before school or after.
He said, "Well, maybe just one. And the rest after. I'll open the lamest one in the morning."
He is indeed a nine-year-old.

Coen.  After watching Prince Caspian, his first high-budget feature length movie, he cried and cried.  After crying he said "Why did that movie make me feel so strongly?"

Coen. When I prep him for leaving a party or other fun event by telling him he'll need to be a good listener when I say it's time to go, he says something like "Well, I might cry, but I'll still be a good listener and go when you say."

Coen. He chooses to listen to A Quick One (While He's Away) by the Who on the way to both school and baseball to pump him up.

Coen.  He is tormenting his sister one minute and holding her hand as he escorts her to her classroom all by himself the next.

Coen. My nine year old boy who is sensitive and kind, silly and funny, and can switch hit a baseball with the best of 'em.
Coen and his friends at his ninth birthday Brewer Baseball party.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Opposite day

I remember when I was a kid, I had this friend who liked to mess with me.  She punched me in the arm when she lost her last life in Super Mario Brothers, saying, "YOUR fault!" It totally wasn't.  She kicked the backs of my feet when we walked so I'd trip over myself.  She'd take my soda when I wasn't looking and not tell me where it went for the REST of the day. 

And one thing she loved to do was say, "It's opposite day." and then answer all my questions in the opposite.  For example.  I'd say, "Hey, wanna walk down to the mall and get some candy?" "No." she'd say. "Oh." I'd say, disappointed. "Okay." "It's opposite day!" She'd exclaim! "No means yes!" "Okay!" I'd say, "Let's go." "No." she'd say.  Then I'd be confused and tired and not want to go on anymore with the conversation. 

So anyway, this morning made me feel like that, in a way.  It is my turn to get the kids up and dressed this week and I spent some time in the morning focusing my energy and promising myself I'd be patient and kind, all the way through.

And I WAS!  Even when Lucy put her underwear everywhere but where it belonged and Coen refused to get out of bed until we were halfway downstairs and then wanted me back up to watch him get dressed.  Even when they both refused to eat the top part of their banana bread because you can TELL there are bananas in there and that's "duhschusting". Even when it was time to go and I received protests and whining after I gave them five extra minutes to play after their shoes were on.  And when we were heading out to the car and Coen stopped in the yard to smack baseballs with an errant bat, I was patient.  I said in my sweetest voice, "Come on, darling, it's time to go!" 

And Coen, emerging into the garage side door that I had been patiently holding open for him, said, "Wow, mom, you're getting pretty frustrated this morning."


Well, you win some.  You lose some.  You are accused of losing some that you are actually winning.
That's the lesson here I suppose.  Either that or it's opposite day.

Monday, September 17, 2012

How dancing puppets made my tahini explode

I went to Chicago on Friday and stayed overnight with a friend.  She lives in Andersonville and we were walking around after dinner and I got the very exciting treat of checking out the Puppet Bike. 

If you are curious about the Puppet Bike as you must be, CLICK HERE for heaven's sake!

We walked around after dinner and I bought some tahini.  I couldn't find any tahini last time I went grocery shopping and was very excited to find it in this little shop.  I bought a jar and we walked further on, passing a man who was having a bit of a rant and asking for money from passers by.  Another block further and we found the Puppet Bike was in the middle of a performance.  It was like the coolest thing I've ever seen.  Dancing puppets.  To really good music.  Inside a box on a bike that no one ever seems to see anyone coming or going into or out of.  I couldn't stop giggling.  I wanted those puppets to hang out with us for the rest of the night!

After the show was over  I, giddy and gleeful, turned abruptly and my tahini broke right through the plastic bag and smashed on the sidewalk.  "No!" I exclaimed loudly. "I knew that would happen!" I felt the energy of my excitement all the way to the ends of my fingers and I believe I knew that my tahini would become the victim of this in the end.  I tried to pick it up and throw it in a nearby garbage but it turned out to be a recycling bin.  Then I realized to my horror that the tahini was pouring out in a steady and disgusting looking stream out of the bag. I shrieked and held it up higher at which point, the man we'd passed earlier, asking for money stopped and asked me quite seriously if I was okay.  You draw your own conclusions there.

I finally got it in the garbage and washed my hands and a local dessert-ery where we ended our lovely and exciting evening with cake and ice cream and hot chocolate and coffee. 

I slept well on my friend Steph's couch with visions of small monkeys and cats and lions dancing in my head.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Watching shadows on the wall...

Sometimes in the morning, the sun shines just right on the wall behind the breakfast table and we can do shadow puppets.

Shadow puppets make my children giggle endlessly and that is a lovely sound in the early morning hours.  Especially because the sound we usually hear in the early morning hours is the sound of Tad and I telling the kids to eat their breakfast, and then to get their shoes on already so we can go.  Then the sound of the kids going "Not YET!!!"  So yeah, laughter is really nice.

Below are some photos of this morning's shadow puppet.  He is made out of my hand and a bagel.
Coen, come closer so I can tickle under your chin!

Oh no! Don't even think about it! You can't get me! I'm only a shadow!

Or can you get me? I'm a little scared. I must take some time to think...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pain in the neck!

I went for my run this morning at 5:45 a.m., my ipod started out playing Jane Siberry and then Sea Change era Beck which was not good for speed really, and perhaps I was moving slower than usual due to the music....  I was halfway into my run, and just passing a bush when I felt a terrible stabbing pain in my neck!

I screamed "OW!!" and stopped running, feeling for a bug or a needle of some sort when something fell down my shirt and I felt another stabbing pain.  "Hey!" I yelled indignantly, then, "Is it gone?!!" to no one in particular whilst looking around wildly.   

I stuck my hand down my shirt and grabbed something out, throwing it into the grass. Then I wished I hadn't so I could see what it was that had stung me.  But I decided to move on.  I felt irked that a bee could sting me while I was in motion. Surely I wasn't going that slow!  So I pictured the insect pictured at the side, full force ahead, determined to do damage, at any cost.

Finally I started running again, rubbing my neck, feeling wounded and coming to the conclusion that it must have been a yellow jacket as those can sting twice.  And I had definitely been stung. Twice. 

By the time I got home my neck and chest were bright red with telltale sting marks. After a quick shower, I made a paste of baking soda and water and spread it over my stings.  Coen and Lucy were very excited to hear the tale and I regaled them with it over breakfast.

On the way to work, dried baking soda flaking off onto my black shirt, my neck still throbbing, I popped in a CD and listened to the Clash at an unreasonably high volume for 7:00 a.m., trying to make myself feel tough. 

What a way to start the day!  It can only get better from here!

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Autumnal Sales Pitch.

Me, on hold with Wal-Mart
Well, it's that time again for me at work.

The time that I swallow any semblance of pride, patience and calm and call area businesses over and over asking them to participate in Disability Mentoring Day.

100-200 youth with disabilities will apply to be part of this project in which they will receive the opportunity to job-shadow someone working in the career of their choice in the metro-Milwaukee area.  It is my job to make that opportunity happen.  This involves a LOT of cold calling.

"Hello. My name is Alie and I am calling from IndependenceFirst.  I run a project called Disability Mentoring Day. I am wondering if you'd like to be involved..." And on and on I go with my sales pitch. 

It's exhausting.  It's a ton of work. It is akin to planning a wedding.  Several months of work, with one day to enjoy the results.  But, when I get someone to say YES, yes they will participate. Or I make a match between a student and a mentor exactly within their interest area and neighborhood, it makes me exhilarating happy.

So that's what I'll be doing from now until Mid-October.  I will make 100 + phone calls.  I will be put on hold, rejected, hung up on....   I will work, think and dream mentor/mentee matches.  I'll probably get a couple migraines.  But when all is said and done, on October 17th, I'll be really proud to be part of such a great project.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Either my eyesight is going or someone is slipping LSD in my tea...

So it has come to my attention lately that my eyesight might be declining....  That or I'm having some really odd hallucinations. 

Case in point #1:
This was the first instance.  I was driving down to the grocery store and I answered a call from my friend Steff.  As we were talking, I looked at the median and exclaimed excitedly! "Oh my gosh! Peacocks!"
Steff said, "What?"
Then I said, "Oh. Never mind, Those are just trees. God, I could have sworn they were peacocks."
Steff paused.  "Are you sure you should be driving?"

Case in point #2:
A couple days later I was talking to some neighbors in our front yard.  I looked down the block and saw one of my kids' friends.
"Oh!" I said, "Look guys! Here comes Kayden."
My kids looked down the block. My neighbors looked down the block."
"Um." Said my neighbor, "That's a fire hydrant."

Case in point #3:
I was riding with Tad and we were at a stop light.  I looked out Tad's window. "Look! I shouted excitedly, "Little garden gnomes!"
Tad looked at me. "What?!"
"Oh." I said.  "Weird. It's just some flowers."

Okay, I have to tell the truth. The third one is partially fabricated. It did happen, but I can't remember what it was that I thought I saw, nor what it was that I actually saw.

But honestly, I'd go to the eye doctor immediately if I weren't afraid I'd embarrass myself and pass out.  I know this bears explanation.  Last time I went to get an eye exam, I went a few weeks after my sister.  My sister, upon having her eyes dilated, got really woozy and dizzy.  She told me this and I suddenly and irrationally feared the same would happen to me.  So I went, I got my eyes dilated.  And I held my breath, waiting for the wooziness.  Of course, upon holding my breath...some would say not breathing, I did get dizzy and woozy and when they eye doctor came back in the room I was hyperventilating. 
"I knew this would happen when I got my eyes dilated!" I said, "I feel like I'm going to pass out!"
The doctor seemed annoyed. "Well, this can't happen from having your eyes dilated." He said and escorted me out to one of the chairs in the waiting room until it passed and he could continue.
"Well it did." I said quietly, mad at his annoyance.
"Not from the dilation." He asserted.
That was the last time I went to the eye doctor.

But I tell ya, the next time I see something...a unicorn on the highway, a weasel at the shopping mall, anything! I'm going to the eye doctor.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Doing a shot before bed.

Those of you know know me, know that I don't drink.  I've never been a drinker.  That's because, most likely, I'm probably an alcoholic.  So I just never went there.  I haven't really had the experience of being out of control of my faculties....except for just being who I am....

But man, do I love a shot of NyQuil. 

I came down with a head cold yesterday, feeling feverish, out of it, sneezes that made me feel like I needed to be plugged in to an IV after.  Well, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but it's a doozy of a cold.  End of summer colds always are. 

So last night immediately after reading Lucy her stories (and being criticized for reading "Diary of a Worb" instead of "Diary of a Worm" due to my plugged up head) I went straight to the bathroom and downed a shot of NyQuil. It took me two tries, and a violent shake of my head.  It's like what I imagine Jagermeister to be like.  But aaahh the woozy, dozy, sleepy feeling to follow is just bliss.  I can understand why people do drink.  The dulling of the senses is nice.  But as for me, I'll stick to NyQuil shots when I have a cold. 

Now, I'm on the couch, getting some work done and having a liquid breakfast of coffee, orange juice and water.  I'll end the day, though, with one more NyQuil nightcap.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day of School( or...things are not always how they look)

Happy First Day of School EVERYONE!!!  I took the above photo of my children after a relatively anxiety filled night before, and rushing them to the car when I realized how long I had let Coen throw baseballs against the house and thought we might actually be late.  However. This photo shows two happy-looking, stress-free kids.  Funny how pictures can do that.
Now, having said that, my kids went off to their classrooms with true excitement and cheerfulness.  And it was Tad's first day back too.  I am anxious to hear how it went for everyone.
But taking this picture, made me think about all the photos we take that don't exactly reflect what was happening before them.  Especially with children.  The stress of getting them all to smile, to look the same direction, stop arguing with each other already and just let me take the %&*# picture!...  It's funny.  So below, enjoy a few photos that look more idyllic than they really were.  I love how memories through pictures can paint a sunny picture.  After all, life is, they say, more about how you see things than what actually happens to you...
Our annual New Year's Eve photo shoot.  Oh how crabby and forced this felt.  But look at us, hamming it up anyway.

This photo was taken whilst arguing with Coen that it really REALLY was time go get his shoes on and GO!

Ahh, here's one that really does reflect the true situation.

Happy first day back everyone!!!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

A feminist rant (just being honest)

Whilst some people are making things specifically for females with the right idea in mind, others are making things specifically for females with the wrong idea in mind. 

An example of the former, is the 2011 creation of the female crash test dummy.  Since the crash test dummy's widespread use in the 60s, they have always taken the male form.  The manufacturers have asserted that in truth, they are indeed taking the form of 90% of the driving population.  What?!!!
So finally, cars can smash into a wall testing how the air bags might protect the other half of the population, whose form, skeletal and muscular structure, and height are usually quite different than the male.
Great idea! 

 The latter new idea is the new Lego sets for girls.  These are horribly stereotyped, sets with fewer pieces to construct, not to mention easier to construct.  Because, you know, females are very simple creatures.  We are the fairer sex, you know and can't be put at risk for fainting dead away over the exertion of putting together a complicated Lego set. I told the guy at the Lego store at Mayfair my feelings about these new toys and his response was, "Well, they're really quite popular."  Phffftt.

Finally, I would like to direct your attention to something hilariously incorrect that my sister in law shared with me (thanks Lara), Bic pens for her!  Because, you know, we need our own pens, in pink, so we know they are ours.

Check out this link for Bic Pens for Her. 
And then scroll down and read all the customer comments.  They are great.  

As a woman who uses pens (of all colors), drives a car and is the one person in the house who actually CAN put a Lego set together from start to finish, who knows how to change a tire, mow the lawn, and occasionally does wear nail polish, I am affected by all these newfangled inventions.  And so are my female friends. Not to mention my daughter.

I called this a feminist rant but really its a humanist rant.  I believe, after all, a feminist is really, in the end, a humanist.  

Don't we all-male and female-want to be safe from car crashes, play with toys and write things down?  I think we do.