Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Extracurricular overload

It used to be that I'd go to work during the day and play soccer on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays and take my Milwaukee Rec class or two on Saturday mornings and not really think about things in terms of extracurricular activities.  But that was when it was just my life.

Now I have the schedules of four people to manage, including my own and suddenly I'm on extracurricular overload. And I don't even think we have it as busy as some families.

I have Hula Hoop class on Tuesdays and I teach a class on Wednesday evenings and I had Zumba on Wednesday nights but that got cancelled (maybe it's a good thing)
Tad runs Chess Club after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays
Coen has Chess Club after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and will have Sunday morning baseball coming up in February and March
Lucy has Swimming Lessons on Wednesday nights and Ballet on Saturday mornings.

Not to mention that Tad and I have full time jobs and Lucy and Coen are at school from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day....

And I'm thinking ohmygosh Tad has to take Lucy and Coen to swim alone on Wednesdays because I'm teaching that class now and I have to hurry up and get Lucy on Tuesday afternoons so that she can get a bath in and some down time and so I can be the one to put her to bed before Hula Hoop Class and she has to go to Afterschool program on Thursdays because of chess club and we have to make sure we wake up early enough before Ballet or Baseball so we don't feel rushed and on and on and on......


This is life and we chose those particular activities because we ENJOY them.  And I find that when I take a deep breath and then just DO them...and not worry so much about how late it gets or about the particulars of fitting meals in and bedtimes and how many days is it since my children had baths... I do enjoy them.  And I enjoy watching my family members enjoy their activities.

So. Ready? Set? EXTRACURRICULAR!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The inside of my brain.

Usually, the inside of my brain looks like this:

A wide-open prairie. Happy little flowers. A nice sunset. And I can see for miles (and miles and miles).  It's nice being inside my brain most of the time. I have a good perspective. There's the occasional rock to trip over or storm to weather.  But I can most often see the end of it.  Maybe that's what positivity and balance looks like to me.

But right now, the inside of my brain looks like this:

It's just full of dusty books and dirty pipes and I can't see beyond my own four walls. 

I guess that's what stressed out and unbalanced looks like to me.

There's just a lot of stuff going every aspect of my life.  I know I need to take a moment to slow down and meditate on it, sort it out in my head.  I also know that it will pass and I'll be back in my happy prairie again. 

I'm ready for it now.  I want to be like Carrie on the Little House on the Prairie and run down that hill, and fall in the grass and laugh and get up again! 

Friday, January 25, 2013


Monday we went to Betty Brinn's Children's Museum with Lucy while Coen played at a friend's house.  As we were leaving, I saw one of the staff members vacuuming with one of those push sweepers.  I had a thought which made me laugh and decided to say it to him.  I've been trying to just say stuff  to people when it comes to me (as long as it's funny, kind, interesting or necessary). So I went up to him and smiled. And said, "Wouldn't it be funny if I just pulled a bunch of confetti out of my pocket and threw it in the air?!" 
He looked at me rather wryly. "It would not be funny. I would laugh politely but it would not be funny."
I laughed.  And Tad, who overheard me, shook his head, chuckling too.
"Poor guy." He said.

This made me think.  If you have been reading this blog you know that I spent some time in therapy over the last year and a half.  I won't go into the specific problems and neuroses and brain pathways, but one of the really wonderful results of my work with my therapist is that I no longer obsess about clean orderliness of my house.  I still clean my house--mop, sweep, dust, deep clean...all that. But on a daily basis I don't worry anymore about errant Legos or set up train villages or drum sets in the living room.  Because all of us who have children know this: We can clean our houses. We can put away all the toys-everything in  its place and sweep and scour until it's a lovely vision of spotlessness. But it only stays clean until the children make their return.  So now I deep clean once a month.  Because no matter what I do, the Legos come back out onto the china cabinet and the end tables. The costume box becomes unpacked, its contents strewn about the playroom.  Light sabers are in the cracks of my couch.  But my kids are playing.  And I'm not stressed out.

So a few weeks ago I got a package in the mail and it was inside a box filled with lovely raw, wiggly cardboard shavings.  Coen and Lucy looked upon it with glee.
I shook my head immediately. "No! I just cleaned this house."
I looked up and Tad's eyes met mine. He didn't say a word, didn't even really change his facial expression.  But I got a message.  And I thought this:
I can put the packing material in the recycling, rid us of it. And this moment will pass unnoticed and unremembered. No big deal.  But our lives are so full of unremembered passed moments.... 
So I could make a different choice.
I could let them go crazy on the confetti.  And it would be come a moment that stays with us, something that makes us smile later.
And so we did.
And our living and dining room were covered in confetti and we laughed and threw it around.

I'm still finding it places and showing the children.  And we laugh.

So throw that confetti.  Make a mess with it.  Isn't sweeping it up worth just one more moment that won't simply disappear unnoticed?

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I was stressed out this morning.

I had a bevy of tasks to complete--tasks for work, tasks for the kids' school, tasks for our own house. 

Here's how I looked at the beginning of the day:

I was thinking about how I am doing way too many things and not doing any of them particularly well.  I'm a mom, but I keep having to work at night so I don't feel like a very good mom. And I'm a Youth Leadership Specialist but I'm in the planning stages of events right now and I'm so scattered I'm either procrastinating or starting one thing and then multi-tasking my way out of it so I don't feel like a very good Youth Leadership Specialist. And I'm a volunteer at my kids' school but I'm so busy with mom-ing and working that I keep forgetting details of this event I'm planning this weekend so I'm not feeling like a very good volunteer either.

And then at work I started thinking, as I sorted through emails, about how I can't just put my work life and home life and personal life in these separate boxes and try to do each thing separately and perfectly. Because they're all related.  All those parts of my life are part of me and it's okay that they sort of run and bleed into each other.  My kids and my job and the rest of my life... It's all my life. 

And then my office phone rang and it was this woman from this amazing nature preserve offering me space for my Youth Leadership Summit this summer.  And I with a secured venue, I was able to finish the flyer and the application and send out a lot of correspondence about the program.  Plus it's just an extremely exciting place and collaboration and opportunity.  And then I got my work done and headed out to a meeting and to pick up supplies for work and groceries for home.  I had time then to bake some brownies for the school event at home and then got everything ready for the weekend program while I was at school getting the kids.

My children and I had a lovely night together and we all hung out in the bathroom while each of them bathed and I told them stories and we all laughed.  And after they were all tucked in and I was beginning to get mad at myself for zoning out on TV, my friend called me and we had a nice talk and I was glad.  So here's how I look now.

I tried Googling pictures of "Self-Satisfied" but then I thought it would be better to show you my own self-satisfied face. 

Sometimes you don't get it all done in one day...but sometimes you do.  And today I did.  

And either way, at the end of the day I'm a mom and a youth leadership specialist and a volunteer and lots of other things too.  Not good or bad.  Just me. Doing my best.  Aren't we all?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Strong, powerful Jedi, an egg frittata will make you.

Last night when I went to go up and tell Coen that it was time for lights out, he was reading his Star Wars Cookbook that he'd gotten for Christmas. 
"Mom! Let me show you the breakfasts!" He said. "Can we have one of these tomorrow?"
He paged through and found "Forceful Frittata"
"Mom! Can you make this one?"
"Yeah..." I said. "I suppose I could."
"Do we have all the ingredients?"
"We actually do!"
Coen flipped around on his bed and squealed in excitement.  "If you come up in in the morning and remind me that we're eating this, I'll get up fast FOR SURE!"
So before I went to bed I set out the recipe book and the pan and the mixing bowl.  I told Tad, "You HAVE to make sure I get up when you get up in the morning."
"Oh, I'm the make sure guy, huh?" He said.
"I'm making frittata for Coen and I have to get it in the oven at 6:00"
Tad shook his head at me, smiling.
In the morning, I woke up.  Tad was just coming back to bed from responding to an early call from Lucy.  It was dark and I didn't know what time it was, but I thought about breakfast.  I got up and looked and it was 5:53.  So in my bare feet, in the freezing kitchen, in the light of the open fridge door, I started whipping together eggs and cheese and salt and pepper and milk and basil.
"Good morning crazy person."  Tad said from behind me, turning the kitchen light on and going to take a shower.
After it was all whipped up and in the oven, I got back in to bed to warm my toes.
Tad came in and I was sitting upright in bed, grinning at him.
"You look no less crazy now than you did last time I saw you." He said.
The frittata was actually pretty good.  You flip it upside down on to a plate, spread marinara sauce in the middle, and sprinkle mozzarella to make it look like the Jedi Council Room floor.
It tasted pretty good too.  I don't think it really got Coen moving any faster, but breakfast was entertaining as Star Wars action figures joined us at the table and Tad talked like Yoda during our entire meal.
My favorite part of the morning, though, was when Lucy started making Princess Leia dance around, singing "Why am I such of a misfit..."

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rethinking the golden rule

We've heard it all our lives: Do unto others as you would have done unto you.  Or... Treat people the way YOU want to be treated.

And I a point.  But I think the golden rule is inherently flawed.

Here's why:

When I am sad or in a bad mood, here's what I want: I want to be gently teased, and then shown affection, warmth and understanding. I want someone to say, in a sweet voice, "do you want to talk about it?" And give me a hug and that's that. I'm that easy to cajole back into happiness.

And that's generally how I treated my friends when they were down.  With hugs and affection and humor of the situation.  It worked fairly well.

Then I married Tad.  And when he was in a bad mood, I would put my arms around him and gently ask if he was okay and give him hugs....  And he did not like that. At all.

And when I was in a bad mood, he'd tease me relentlessly. And then give me space.


So finally we had a conversation and it turned out that he was treating me the way HE wanted to be treated and I was treating him the way I wanted to be treated.

So we switched. And now when I'm upset, he puts his arms around me and asks me if I want to talk. And when he's upset, I joke around, tell him to buck up, and then I give him space. 

Muuuuuch better.

Now, this weekend, I was a bit pre-full-moonish (if you catch my drift) and being really cranky. 
And then went over to Tad and stood near him.
Me: I want you to hug me and tell you that you love me.
Tad: (smirking) Well it's kind of hard.
Me: *frown*
Tad: I mean, I DO love you and here... (gives me a hug)  But you know, you're being really difficult. (smirking again)
Me: What!?
Tad: It's just difficult to to show you affection when you seem like you don't want it.
Me: (crossing my arms)
Tad: I'm sorry. I shouldn't tease you.  It's just when you tell me that I'm being difficult, it's really helpful. Isn't this helpful?
Me: No! I don't mind if you tease me. I just don't want you to be honest with me!
Tad: (laughing) What?!!
Me: Don't tell me I'm difficult while I'm being difficult.  Tell me later.  Hmph.
Tad: (laughs and hugs me)

Granted I was being a little ridiculous, but you see how it works....

So, the new golden rule (It's more effective in the end but requires communication):

Treat others the way THEY want to be treated


Do unto others as they would have done unto themselves.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

aahhh Freak OUT!

I am hoping this nervous breakdown of a morning turns into a pleasant and happy afternoon and evening!
I went to bed last night so tense that Tad was laughing at me as he pulled my shoulder toward him and it snapped back in its stressed out hunch.  I've told you before I cycle with the moon and let's just say the full moon is next week so I'm suddenly anxiety ridden without my mind's consent. 
I was lying in bed last night thinking all kinds of unpleasant stressed out thoughts and fell asleep that way.  When I woke up this morning, Tad was already getting out of the shower and I felt like my consciousness was stuck in a bowl of molasses.  I groaned and dragged myself out of bed and into the shower where I clumsily knocked the shampoo bottle on my toe, my ear plug into the nasty bin of children's bath toys, and banged my elbow on my way into the shower.  After I was dressed I thanked Tad for being the first one up this week.
"I have to get up." he said. "If I don't get this train rolling by 6:00, I'm in trouble.  But I'll beg you to let me sleep in tomorrow."
Tomorrow the kids are off school and I'm home from work.  Tad has to go in.  He obviously deserves a sleep in but I was so tired, it was one of those mornings where I think Whatever it is I'm doing's cancelled.  I'm going to bed at 8:00 and I'm never doing any evening activities ever again. So suddenly I was stressed out about the kids waking up too early tomorrow.  And getting up with them.  Tad settled me down, letting me know that I could sleep in on Saturday.
Now that I'm up and at them, I'm over that.  But Coen had a freak out on the way out of the house because his book wouldn't fit into his backpack along with his shoes and his snow pants and his lunchbox.  He flopped himself all the way to the minivan.  Tad quietly remarked so only I could hear that the boy can beat him in chess but can't figure out what to do with the two things in his hands.
Once I got Lucy into her classroom, she was pulling her dress up and fixing her tights and yanking it back down again.    And then she was tearful because she was uncomfortable in the corduroy dress she'd chosen and we didn't have any other clothes with us.  I took her to the lost and found but all they had were pants and there's no way this girl will wear pants. (How I gave birth to a child who won't wear pants is beyond me) So I left her crying and uncomfortable in her classroom.
I stopped in the office when I saw three women who I KNEW would help me sort it out in an honest way.  And they said it was okay that I go and get her something she'd be more comfortable in, which was what I wanted to do...though worried about being too indulgent. 
My friend Rachel found me a dress and I brought it up to Lucy who put it on.  Her feathers were still ruffled and I gave her a hug and tried to be reassuring.  Her teacher smiled at me, "Now don't come back again!" She said. 
I got to work, and was rushing to a 9:00 meeting which turned out to be a 9:30 meeting.  So I have a little time to spare to tell you this tale. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How good it feels to feel.

When I was seventeen and just getting together with my first serious boyfriend, I remember saying that I would never stand for complacency.  That my only fear when we graduated from high school and got more serious by moving in together was that I'd fall into a routine and stop feeling.  That I'd blindly go to school and work and come home and make dinner and go to bed and watch TV and just get complacent. 

When I was twenty-one and breaking up with that same boyfriend, partly because of my own realizations of my dulled feelings, my near complacency. (And partly because I was twenty-one and had yet to see the world I needed to see on my own)  I remember that it was painful and sad and difficult, but that I also liked how it felt to FEEL so strongly.  I liked how it felt to be so sad.

When I was twenty-five and in the Peace Corps and alone a lot of the time on a cold, dark winter island (both literally and figuratively) I'd get so overwhelmed I'd collapse in a heap and cry and cry.  And usually after those crying sessions I'd catch a glimpse of my red puffy face in the mirror or I'd just realize how I sounded sobbing alone in the foyer of my apartment and I'd start laughing. And I would laugh until my belly ached and I'd  revel in the hilariousness of my dramatics because let's face it, nothing was really that bad.  I was just lonely and bored.  And then when I'd leave my island and take a seven-hour bus ride to see other volunteers, gathering in a pub or a restaurant and talking and laughing, I would feel the most profound joy.  Joy that was so loud and so big it was like my insides were exploding with light.  And I loved that time in the Peace Corps because of the range of my emotions and how good it felt to FEEL. All the time.

So now I'm married and I have children and there is a lot about life that is a routine. School drop off and pick up and workdays and dinner and bath time and bedtime and up again to start all over.  And all of us who are parents know the sameness of those days and the sometimes reminiscence of our twenties when we were free to do whatever we wanted and we didn't even know it.

But on the way to work this morning, after dropping Tad and the kids off and smiling because during the ride, Lucy asked what knees are for and Coen started talking about the intricacies of elbows, a song started on the CD player and I turned it up.  I heard the unmistakable sound of breakfast dishes clinking and thought what is this song? I know this..... And then it started and it was Jethro Tull singing 'Skating Away (on the thin ice of a new day)' 

Listening to it, the music took me back to a different time, hearing it not for the first time but with fresh ears because my friend Brian was going crazy over the way it starts and how cool it was.  But the lyrics kept me right where I was and I started to cry.  And my chest was bursting with emotion because I'm in love. And my kids are hilarious.  And my life does have routine but I'm constantly trying.  And so is Tad. We're trying to live a life together where we FEEL.  Every day.  And that feels good.

So as you push off from the shore,
Won't you turn your head once more 
and make your peace with everyone?
For those who choose to stay,
Will live just one more day
To do the things they should have done.
And as you cross the wilderness, spinning in your emptiness:
You feel you have to pray.
Looking for a sign
That the Universal Mind has written you into the Passion Play.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

January 15th, 2002

I know I have spoken of this day before in this blog.  But I feel I must speak of it again.
Today is January 15th.  It is a special anniversary for Tad and me.
On January 15th, 2002, Tad was visiting me in Estonia.  That day, I told him that we just had to go to Kaali, the crater lake about fifteen miles outside of my town.  I had heard a legend that if lovers walked around Kaali, holding hands the whole way, they would stay together into eternity! "Come on!" I'd said. "We HAVE to do it. It will totally cement our love!"  The whole time Tad was visiting me, we were making jokes about cementing our love.  So we took a bus there and walked around the lake, pictured above.   Afterward, I had planned that we could hang out in the local pub until the bus came about five hours later. 
We went to to the door and pulled on it. Locked. The pub was closed until spring. I had not known that.  What were we going to do for five hours in Estonia. Outside. In January?!
We went into the grocery, which was open and they gave us empty milk crates to sit on and we bought candles and snacks and a bottle of champagne and a bottle of cartoon champagne (which was what Tad called the non-alcoholic bubbly I liked to buy) and we had a winter picnic until the bus finally came to take us home.
January 15th, 2003, I was home from the Peace Corps and with Tad.  We decided to celebrate the anniversary of this date with an outdoor picnic in Milwaukee.  After the picnic we went back to my apartment and watched a movie.  In the beginning of it, the phone rang.  I had an ear surgery scheduled for the following day, to remove a benign tumor in my ear)  It was my ear surgeon. 
"Alie. I can't do the surgery tomorrow." He said. 
"Ummm. You're pregnant."
I don't remember how I ended the conversation.  I remember that I fell to my knees and that Tad and I talked late into the night about this unexpected news, with a little counsel from my parents.
And now we have our Coen.
And on January 15th, 2004, my parents took four-month-old Coen for a few hours while Tad and I had our winter picnic.  And the next day I finally did have my ear surgery.
January 15th, 2008, was the first winter in our new house.  I had forgotten. And after Coen was tucked in bed and two-month-old Lucy was asleep in the bassinet in our room, Tad took my hand and pulled me out to the front porch room of our house.  It was freezing cold in there.  Candles were lit. Lucinda Williams was playing. And there were cupcakes on plates.  And it was perfect.
And today is January 15th, 2013.  I have to work tonight, but I will be home at 8:30 with treats and a bottle of bubbly. And we'll have a dessert picnic in the cold front porch after our children are all tucked in. 
And I'll think about how lucky I am to have cemented our love in such a way.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Puppet bike.

There is a thing in Chicago called the Puppet Bike.  It is a bike with a puppet show attached to it and it is about one of the coolest things I've ever seen in my whole entire life.  Last night we passed it on our way out for my dear friend Stephanie's birthday party and I made the whole party go across the street and stop so I could see one dance and give them a dollar. 

Just watch.  It's magical.

Friday, January 11, 2013


So I have a funny story for you.

But I must preface this story by telling you this: When I hap by a reflection of myself in the mirror, I often make a face at myself. 

I realize this might sound strange to some of you and it doesn't really help my case that this is a story about something that happened to me, when tell you such a thing, as one who is already out there making faces at oneself in the mirror is kind of asking for it, but I digress.

So, I was going to my car in a parking lot and I caught a glimpse of myself in the reflection from the window of the car beside mine.  And so I stuck my tongue out at myself.  And laughed.  And then suddenly the window came down and there was a MAN  in there. I hadn't seen him! 
"Hey!" He said. He said it in a good-natured, amused way.
"Oh!" I said. "I didn't see you! I was sticking my tongue out at myself!"
"Oh." he said, slightly confused.
"Okay!" I said "Well, bye!"
And I got in my car and drove away.

How embarrassing!

And then as I thought about telling the story to the next person I saw, entering my work building, I realized that having to preface the story with When I catch my reflection in a mirror or window, I like to make faces at myself sort of gives me away right there. 

But whatever.


You should know that I googled "making faces at yourself in a mirror" trying to find a good illustration for this blog post, and turns out there are three Facebook pages for such an interest so I am not alone!

Making faces at yourself in the mirror  (238 likes)

Making faces at yourself in the mirror and noticing someone behind you (50 likes)

Making funny faces at yourself when you walk by a mirror (16113 likes)

Go figure!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Inattentive Orange Eating

The really boring version of this story is that the other day, I was driving and I got hungry. So I ate an orange. 

The really funny version of this story, however, occurred inside my head.  So I have written it for you below, complete with rather crudely done illustrations.

Inattentive Orange Eating

So I did get hungry whilst driving and get out an orange and peel it at the stop light.

 I pulled off a section of said orange and ate it.  And as I did so, I passed a police officer who was sitting, as officers do, in one of those good-to-catch-speeders spots.

 Just at that very moment, I became aware of how very sour the orange was and I made the face people make when they are eating something sour. You know the face. Your mouth gets all twisty sideways and one eye involuntarily closes.  That's what happened to me, and I was looking right at the police officer I was passing  as I made my sour face.

 So now we come to the part of the story which is fabricated inside my head.  So I imagined that the police officer recognized my sour face and realized that I must have been eating something while driving at the same time and the fact that whatever I was eating was sour enough to make me make that face certainly warranted an inattentive driving ticket, because, really, who can properly drive while they are making a face like that!

The very idea of all of this made me laugh and I hope it makes you laugh too.  Or even makes you smile a little while you shake your head and tell whoever is sitting next to you that your friend Alie is pretty weird.  

That's fine too.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

What we're Googling

Tad makes fun of me because when I want to know something and decide to find out by Googling it, I always type my whole question into Google.
I have Googled such things as:

"Why does my stomach hurt?"
"What size heater filter do we have?"
"Just how many pine cones CAN you fit down a heating duct?"
"Why is my eight year old being such a jerk face?"
"How high a fever is high enough to worry?"
"Do I have cancer?"

So yesterday when I read one of my favorite blogs of all blogs that I read-- The Bloggess, I saw that she'd posted phrases the people Googled, thus leading them to her website.  It was pretty funny and prompted me to do the same.

Mine were not as widely googled nor as hilariously awesome as hers were, of course, but here are my favorite Google searches that led people to my blog:

1. Small Wonder
2. Frock Coat Pirate Graphic
3. Broken Toes
4. Dentist Devil Sign

and my very most favorite

5. Cinderella Farts

Happy Googling.
This is the 4th picture that comes up when you Google the phrase "What we're Googling"

Monday, January 7, 2013

Red Arrow Park

Yesterday we were looking for something fun to do so I texted some friends to make possible plans.  My friend Maria suggested ice skating at Red Arrow Park.  Tad had suggested the museum but I thought I'd try to convince him otherwise.  All three of my family members were still in their jammies so I thought it might be hard to convince any of them to leave.  Tad was sitting on the couch watching Coen try to teach Lucy how to play chess.  I sat next to him and made the face I make when I want something. I imagine this face to be really adorable but it's probably more like obnoxiously weird.  Anyway, Tad said he'd be willing to do such a thing and so I asked the children.
"Who wants to go ice skating?" I said.
"ME!!!" Coen yelled. 
"Me!" Lucy said.
And so in a while, we'd had lunch and gotten our warm clothing on (after a particularly tearful battle between Lucy and I about snow pants and the wearing thereof) and headed out. 
Coen was thrilled to be able to skate with a friend, though he's only skated before at the Petit Center so all the way there he said, " OUTDOOR ice skating rink..I don't really like the sound of it." I tried to explain that OUTDOORS is where ice is actually a naturally ocurring thing but he wasn't convinced until we got there and he saw his friend Mason.  After I got my skates on and Lucy's too, Tad asked me to help Coen tie his. I knelt down and grabbed the laces.  Felt the toes.  "Honey, do these fit you?" I asked, pushing at the gap between the toe and the skate.  "Yeah, they fit." said a voice I did not recognize. I looked up. I was tying the skates of a boy I didn't know at all!"  "Oh my goodness!" I said. "You aren't my child!"  "No." said the boy matter-of-factly.  He seemed not to mind at all that a perfect stranger was  pushing on his feet and accusing him of having non-fitting skates.
So, then we skated and had some good stuff at Starbucks. While that was happening three hipster teenagers were dancing around and climbing on the cement walls surrounding the rink.  It struck Maria and me that they appeared to be 50% interested in having an audience and 50% self-conscious. It was very amusing to behold that kind of look on their faces. 
Lucy made use of a "child's helper" which was a bucket turned over upside down, mean to serve as a skating crutch.  Instead she sat upon it and demanded to be pushed around the rink until Tad pointed out that it was sort of negating the purpose of ice skating so we returned it and our little girl did a great job skating for her first time.
At any rate, we had a great time and I would definitely go there again. And perhaps not tie the shoes of strangers next time.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Might as well face it

As you might know, I lost my iphone over the holidays.  I was extremely sad about it.  At AT &T my cheapest option was a $15 phone regular old cell phone.  Now, I'm still holding out hope that my friend is going to mail me her old iphone and I'll be back in the saddle soon. 


I have learned a valuable lesson.

I had become an iphone addict.  In any idle moment, I was whipping out my phone...checking facebook, checking email, obsessively deleting unneeded emails so that I wouldn't have a little red number hovering over my apps, playing word games, scrolling through photos, instagram-ing them...

In the few days I have been without I have noticed this: When I have an idle moment, I look around me, take deep breaths, appreciate where I am.  I have missed several calls and texts because I was BEING with my family.  I've played three full games of Candy Land with Lucy without getting up to check on a beeping noise or worse yet, bringing my phone with me while we played.  I've let emails pile up and no one has been harmed.  I've gone for walks and simply looked around at the world, the passing cars, the buildings, the people...

This is all very good and if/when I get another iphone I will use it as nature intended:
1. To help me get unlost when me and my horrible sense of direction are driving down Forest Home or Fond du Lac Avenue and I have no idea in which direction I am heading. 
2. As a conduit for Pandora when I would like to hear some randomly selected music
3. Oh. And to make phone calls.

I'm not really a maker of resolutions at all.  But I guess my lost phone has forced me into one which is this: I will live much much more in the actual, real, non-Internet-based world around me.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Welcome home

The kids and Tad went back to school today and quite contrary to my expectations, it was a lovely morning. 

Maybe it was because we had the hustle and bustle of returning Spot the guinea pig to her classroom home.  Maybe it was because we picked up our friends Barry and Jamie on the way. Maybe it was because Tad gave the children "hair of the dog" breakfast cake.  Maybe we were just ready....

We pulled into Highland and I noticed the big banner hanging in the parking lot area that says:

It gave me pause and made me smile because, truthfully, my childrens' school and Tad's workplace is like another home.  Walking in the building, that's exactly how it feels.  I stopped at chatted on the way to the classrooms with Aden's mom, Leah's mom, Jackson's dad, Coman's dad, Abe's mom, and Ethan's mom.  Coen went by himself to retrieve a cart to put Spot's cage upon.  The children very easily hung up their coats and put on their shoes and put their lunch boxes in their proper places.  They excitedly spoke with their friends and I with their friends' parents. 
And after I kissed both Coen and Lucy goodbye, watching them settle in immediately, telling their teachers all about their winter breaks, I walked down the stairs of school and said good morning to everyone I passed.  People - parents and children - that I know because of the nature of Highland Community School.
So even though it's hard to get back into the swing of things, I am thankful for Highland.  And that my children can learn and my partner can teach in a place that feels like home.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back to life...back to Reality

I woke up today and got ready for....WORK. I haven't been to work in 13 days. So I sorted through my hundreds of emails and checked my voicemail and now here I am.

Being on a long break like that....
Having days where we just stayed in our jammies all day long
Having people over and going to people's houses
Making coffee when I get up and then making it again at 3:00
Going sledding at two in the afternoon and then snacking on cheese and crackers and cocoa after
Watching holiday movies with Tad
Watching holiday cartoons with the kids
Not even considering picking up the mess of toys and games and paper and crayons and stickers that is our house.
Having a temporary guinea pig....

Makes me want to never work again....

I love my job. I do.

But man, isn't it kind of the goal of everyone to get to the point where you don't have to go to work?

I do know, though, that without work, vacation wouldn't seem so special.  Without being away from each other during the week at school and at our jobs, being together wouldn't seem so special.  And my job is my life's purpose (aside from being a mom, being in love, having a tremendous amount of fun and laughing as much as humanly possible...).

So. I have the back to work blues. My kids will have it tomorrow as we return to school and bring back the guinea pig....  But we'll soon settle back in to our routine. And we'll enjoy the next holiday all over again.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy 2013

I was telling my kids yesterday that 2013 is going to be a really good year.  In part because life just gets better.  But also because people think 13 is an unlucky number. But I've always found that things that are traditional bad luck are good luck for me. 
Well, this is something I decided at age 16.  Mostly because this one day when I was on my way to Red Owl to shoplift some cigarettes for my friends.  (Yeah, I know, I know.  I had some troubled teen years!)  Anyway, I was on my way there and I found a penny on the ground heads-up.  As you know, a found heads-up penny is good luck.  Well, that day, the day I picked up that heads-up penny and went to Red Owl, was the day I got busted for shoplifting.  And rode in the back of a police car. And waited in a little room with writing all over the wall from others like me who'd been locked in the room. (I even saw the names of a few classmates).  Then I got brought to this conference room where my parents--My dad and my mildly embarrassed/mildly amused staff of the TOWN POLICE and FIRE COMMISSION mom sat waiting for me.
The cop: Well. What do you have to say for yourself
Me: *sob* I'm sorry.
The cop: That's a pretty bad habit for you to be stealing to support it.
Me: I don't even smoke *sob* *sob*
My parents (who always knew how to see the humor in any situation) could barely contain their laughter.  Anyway, I was grounded and made to do community service for a few months.  Lesson learned.
That was the day that I decided that
1. Stealing is bad
2. Luck works opposite for me and I would never pick up a heads-up penny again.
I also started walking under ladders, laughing off broken mirrors, and I chose lucky thirteen as my soccer number.

I didn't tell my kids all that.  Just the stuff about the ladder and the penny and number thirteen.

It's going to be a good year.  We celebrated with the kids--hats and horns and a fancy cheese plate and non-alcoholic bubbly.  We counted down at 7:00 and yelled Happy New Year out the front door.
After the children were tucked away, Tad and I ate dessert and re-read two letters from 2001, when I was in the Peace Corps and we were newly in love and away from each other.  It was lovely to see the ways we have changed and the ways we have not.  We danced near midnight and went to sleep.

Happy New Year everyone. Here are some of our family's traditional New Year's Eve photos: