Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My weekend as a southern belle

A kid-free weekend, visit with a friend and a family wedding in Alabama? What could possibly go wrong? For starters, I packed the largest piece of luggage known to civilization. Then I got bumped from my flight. Ok, these things happen. Except the person who bumped me was the dumbest person to walk the face of the earth. Seriously, after she bumped me, she acted as if she was done dealing with me. I "politely" informed her I still intended to go on my trip and it was her responsibility to assure me that I would get there. Acting very flustered and put upon, she proceeded to give me the run around with a vengeance. After making a nuisance of myself and reminding her that I was not going away unless it was on a plane to Alabama, she gave me a check for my troubles, some food vouchers and sent me to a Chicago airport in a cab. Happily, I got to spend the next morning with my Aunt Joan (the coolest person ever). We chatted, gossiped and frittered away the morning. Next, I was Melanie's responsibility for the day. How does she handle me? She takes me shopping and fills me up with caffeine and martinis (a winning combination). That night was the rehearsal dinner. I got to put on a fancy dress, heels and makeup. I forgot what it was like to wear girl clothes. It was quite fun. I got to mingle with southerners. Once I realized their accents were real, we had some lovely chats. I even met a die- hard Notre Dame fan. They really and truly are everywhere. So, I put on the charm (yes, I have SOME) and schmoozed for my husband. Sadly, I was not offered a return flight on his private jet. Maybe I am not as charming as I thought. The next day was the wedding. More fancy clothes, makeup and heels. It was AMAZING!!!! Everything was beautiful - the flowers, music, people, food and fireworks! It was the most beautiful wedding I have ever attended. Maybe there is something to this southern belle thing. They seem to have a good thing going. I may have to try it again sometime (with martinis).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Girls Night Out - it sounded like a good idea

We are approaching 1 year of life in Indiana. We have hit some milestones. Some good and some bad. We actually run into people we know around town (mixed blessing depending on moods and behavior - mine and the kids). I can drive to a few places without using the GPS. I even got invited out with some ladies for cocktails the other night and had a blast. Tonight I decided to brave a "ladies night out" in the neighborhood. I wasn't sure who I would know at this gathering but I went anyway. I "knew" 2 people. That is to say, I could put their names and faces together. After 2 hours of making idle chit-chat with people who all seemed to have known each other forever and feeling like the odd-woman out, I made my excuses and bailed. I forgot how terrifying and intimidating it is to walk into a room full of people and not know anyone. I was excited all day to "escape". It had been a long day with fussy kids, activities and feeling like my kids have decided that listening to me is optional and they have decidedly opted out. I was looking forward to getting out, having some laughs and enjoying myself. Instead I got to spend the night wondering if I was making a good impression. Not fun at all. I'm tired, cranky and homesick. Not a pretty combination.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What is wrong with me! (Rhetorical)

Paul took the kids to visit his mom in Chicago today. So, I have a whole day to myself. I had grand plans of relaxing and lounging. Truly. What have I actually done? I went to Sam's Club, did laundry, dishes, and cleaned up toys. What is wrong with me? Why do I feel the need to be productive even when no one is watching? I need some sort of intervention. I cannot relax if there are things around the house left undone. Does this qualify me as a grownup? If so, I strongly object.

On the plus side, both kids are loving school. Christian tried to cry and fuss the first day but it was so lame and pathetic I couldn't even muster any sympathy for the chubby little guy. Now, if I say it's time to go to school, he races through the house, knocking anything/anyone in his path down, plunks down and tries to put his giant Build A Bear shoes on. I get a half-hearted wave and "bye, mommy" as he runs towards the teachers and his freedom. Sara is too cool for words and waits for the bus on the porch by herself now. She says 2nd grade is for big kids and I can watch from the window if I need to. She has mastered the whole "big kid" thing - including the "eye roll/Moooom" look of disgust. Aren't I proud?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Sara and the almight dollar

Over the last 6 years, Sara has mastered the art of collecting any and all loose change in her path. She can make big bug eyes at my dad and suddenly his pockets don't jingle anymore. Last night, the Tooth Fairy came and left $5. She had outlined the terms of the transaction with the Tooth Fairy very clearly. The Tooth Fairy could visit, admire her tooth, and leave money. Under NO circumstances was she to take Sara's first (and favorite) tooth and give it away to some unappreciative crying little baby. The exchange was successful. Sara got $5, a letter and certificate from the Tooth Fairy and got to keep her tooth. She wanted to know how much money she had and what she could do with it. My suggestions of paying rent, groceries or utilities were rejected. We decided to go to Coinstar and see how much money she has. The little greed meister has accumulated $37. We visited Build A Bear and spent a looooong time choosing a purchase. She FINALLY decided on a snazzy hot pink ensemble for her Lala sheep. Then we had a long discussion about her remaining money. We were at Meijer doing grocery shopping. She kept demanding assurance that she was not expected to kick on for groceries. She perused EVERY toy in the store and declared each and every one over-priced for HER money. Long story cut sort-of short - she left with her remaining money tucked very firmly in her pocket. So, if you see my child begging with a tin cup in the street for loose change, please toss some her way. She needs it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Winding down of summer

Sara starts school (2nd grade) in 13 days. I'm still having trouble wrapping my brain around that little tidbit. So, we have to start easing her back into her school routine. Easier said than done. This is a kid who napped until she was 5 and now I have to start poking at her earlier and earlier over the next 2 weeks so she won't die of shock on the first day of school. This is a kid who likes her sleep. She wakes up then curls up in her papasan chair and reads for awhile before her day truly begins. Christian is also starting preschool. He will go 2 mornings a week. I almost feel sorry for his teacher. I feel like I should drop him off with a warning label. "Caution - large toddler with limited speech, large appetite and big temper. Approach with caution and snacks."

All in all, our first summer in Indiana has been a good one. We joined a local pool and haven't been banned (yet). They serve beer. It's become my second home. We survived Paul's 10 day business trip. Sara enjoyed her summer camps, especially the cooking camp. My goal is to get everyone in this house cooking so i don't have to. We went to Michigan for a visit. We went to Chicago for vacation. Although, if I ever have the urge to drag my small children through 4 museums, 1 zoo and an amusement park in 6 days again- shoot me or just hobble me.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

10 Days of Captivity (Mine)

Paul left Friday for a 10-day business trip to South America. He IS coming back (they have extradition - I checked). We are winding down day 6 and it has been a LOOOOONG 6 days. For everyone. I am even more in awe of single and/or working moms. You women NEVER get a break. How do you do it? I am losing my mind, patience, and sense of humor after 'only' 6 days. On a typical day, Paul comes home and I can either hand off the children and hide from all or at least have a battle partner and some adult company at the end of the day. Lately, my day starts and ends with 2 kids chasing me around the house begging for food, toys, battle negotiations and other random requests. Tomorrow we head home for a visit. Why? Because I thought it would be a brilliant way to pass the last 4 days of captivity. Yes, packing up a 6 year old and a 2 year old, ALL their crap and driving 3.5 hours across the cornfields seemed like a brilliant idea. Happily, once we arrive, we will visit with friends and family, eat, play and wreak havoc on the metro Detroit area. As usual, I will try to do too much while I am home. I want to see everyone during our limited time. So, I will be alone with the kids at a hotel and stressing out that I am running late to meet someone or missing seeing someone. But, in the end it will all be worth it. Won't it??

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mommy Wars, work, career, home

Do the mommy wars really exist? Is it an urban myth? Does anyone really care that much about what other people are doing? Don't we all have our hands full worrying about our own lives, taking care of our own families? Am I so clueless that I am missing that people are judging me for being a stay-at-home mom? Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn if someone else works or stays home. I have been told I am setting a bad example for my daughter by staying home. Do I care about what that person thinks? Did I rush out and get a career? Hell, no. I have friends who work and friends who stay home. I have never once heard someone pass judgment on someone else's choice. I truly think it is a figment of our crazy mom imaginations. I think we are so worried about whether we are making the right choices for our kids that we project our fears and concerns onto others. Most moms I know are too busy with their own kids, houses, husbands, families and friends to worry too much about what the lady down the street does all day. I also don't freak out when people call me a STAH mom. I don't get offended by the term "working" mom. I reserve that term for women who commute and collect a paycheck for doing a job or providing a service. I've been asked if it is hard to stay home with my kids. Yes!!!! It can be mind numbingly boring, stressful, repetitive and exhausting. But, on the other hand, I have great admiration for women who get up at the crack of dawn, get themselves and their kids ready, drop them off at school/daycare, work a full day, come home and deal with dinner, husbands, kids and household duties. Yes, I "work" but I do it at home. No, I do not collect a paycheck. No, I don't judge you for choosing to work or choosing to stay home. Do what is right for you and your family and mind your own business.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Waiting for friends and baked goods

Here is a shock for you. I am waiting ("patiently") for my friend to visit and bring baked goods. It's been a long week and I could some fun. Sara is out of school and already claiming she "doesn't know what to do". She doesn't seem to like my suggestion - quit whining and clean up your toys. We are trying to establish a summer routine. It isn't happening. So far, we all spend the morning hanging around in our jammies. She is very excited to start camp next week. Christian enjoys having her around all day and will miss her. He follows her everywhere. He gets very offended when she won't let him into the bathroom. However, by the end of the day, they are fighting. His tactic? To sit on her. Her response? To run away. Then he thinks it is a game and chases her. Usually, Paul come home at this point to find his kids screaming at each other and running around the kitchen table and his wife yelling at the kids. A lovely homecoming after spending the day with academics. Then I declare a laundry emergency and hide upstairs folding clothes. So, day 4 of summer vacation and the countdown to 2nd grade has begun.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My First Faculty Function

Last week, we attended an awards dinner at the Business School. This marks my first "official" function at the B-school. I got to hire a sitter, shower, shave, put on make-up, heels, jewelery and a dress so I could mingle with the academics of the business school all while trying to appear intelligent and charming. So, what does a stay-at-home mom talked about with the faculty, students and dean of the Business school? Hopefully, not much. I tried to hide in the corner and sip my wine while looking calm, cool and brilliant. Didn't work so well. For starters, the awards dinner went on forever. I think I am the only person who did not receive an award. (I'm still awaiting the ballot recount). It would be an honor just to be nominated. Seriously, isn't there an award for packing up your life, kids and all your crap and moving to the cornfields in the dead of winter?

On a happy note, I was seated next to a charming adjunct professor from the Chicago campus who didn't turn his back on me in disgust when he learned I am a STAH mom (don't laugh - it has happened to me). We discussed travel, literature, Notre Dame and had a generally good time. No, it was NOT his dessert I stole. He even told Paul that I was "charming". Hmmm......

Another pleasant aspect of the night was the chance to see my husband "in action". I rarely get to see him in a work capacity. It was a fascinating and proud moment. I was seeing him in a whole new and different light. Listening to him introduce the award recipients, I got to hear more about what he does at the school and why it really the perfect job opportunity for him. Hearing his speech, I was amazed at what a good public speaker he is. He is passionate about his job and truly enjoys his work and colleagues. Moments like that make me glad we took this chance and moved here. Don't get me wrong, I reserve the right to bitch, moan and whine abut moving here. Consider yourselves warned.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I really need to learn how to turn off my brain

Ok, here is a shock. I am sitting here over-thinking things. The end of the school year is approaching. Sara has had trouble with one girl since we moved here. The little demon seed is sneaky and only says things when there are no adults around to hear. Sara has tried being friendly. She has tried ignoring her. Nothing works. Do I contact the school and ask that they be in separate classes next year? Do I let Sara learn how to put up with this type of behavior now so she is better equipped when she is older and kids are meaner? Most importantly, WHY is this kid so mean to my kid? What is it about my kid that makes this little terror in pigtails want to pick on her? Yes, Sara is the youngest kid in the class. But, she is also the friendliest and most outgoing person on the planet. She is like a little puppy that doesn't pee on you when she gets excited. Well, she peed on Della once but she deserved it and Sara was 2 weeks old. That is my story and I am sticking to it.

There are other "fun" things on my brain. We've been here for 7 months. I still don't have any real friends. Am I ever going to fit in here? Is it ever going to feel like home? Will my friends back home move on and forget about me? Yes, I continue to stalk them on regular basis and demand food and shelter but they may grow tired of it. (I cannot imagine why.......).

And what about friends that are no longer in my life? There are so many relationships that have ended or dissolved for many reasons. Some have left my life because of geography or schedules. People get busy, grow apart, have kids, jobs, family obligations. When I look back, what bothers me most are the relationships that ended for no clear reason. I'm not talking about boyfriends. Those relationships always end for a reason. I'm talking about true, deep, meaningful friendships. One minute you talk almost every day and share all the details of your life. The next, it's over and you are left wondering why. What bothers me most is wondering if I should have done more to save those friendships. Given my deep-seeded fear of confrontation, this leaves me playing the what-if game in my head. And, as my friend Cathy tells me (often), my head is NOT a pretty place to be.

So, welcome to my head. Enjoy your short visit.

Monday, May 3, 2010

If you move, they WILL find you. And feed you.

Still in Indiana. Still being shunned by the Hoosiers. Putting aside my bitching and moaning about my lack of friends, I am attempting to get out, mingle and trick these women into being my friends. I went to a neighborhood gathering, had some cocktails, met some of the other moms and got the general low-down on whose kids will end up on an episode of "Cops". We are also in the neighborhood play group. Things have been going pretty well during the gatherings. Christian will decide to whack some of the other boys without reason but we haven't been kicked out yet. We came awkwardly close on Thursday. Later that night, I received an email from the host saying that Sara may have taken some coins from her daughter. So, I searched her pockets. No coins. Phew! I am not raising a felon. Or so I thought. When I asked her the next morning, she told me she had asked the girl if she could have some of the coins that were on the floor but sadly they fell out of her pockets while playing on the girl's swing set. So, she is not a thief. She is a beggar. Which is worse? Luckily, reinforcements arrived this weekend.

I always knew we were blessed with good friends but moving away (getting voted off the island) makes me appreciate them more every day. We moved here in November and we have had friends from Novi, Pittsburgh and Dundee visit us. My friend, (yes, Paul - MINE - I stole her fair and square) came to visit with her amazingly well-behaved and adorable child this weekend for the third time since we were banished to the cornfields. I'm not sure why but her drive to Indiana from Michigan involved driving through Ohio. She arrived as ordered with assorted baked goods. We had a great weekend with lots of laughs (mostly at me). The kids had a wonderful time playing together - no fights, argument, battles or blood shed. As always I am impressed and inspired by my friend for many reasons. First, she is an amazing mom. She is calm, cool, collected and firm. Her son worships and adorer her. And he LISTENS to her. Wow, can I buy some of that???? Second, she is completely comfortable with who she is. What you see is what you get. Can I buy some of that, too? And, third, she can actually walk into a store, grab the cart handle without having to wipe it down for 10 minutes with bleach wipes. I have been sent into a complete panic upon realizing the cart wipes box was empty. Thankfully, I can wear gloves in the winter. What's a germaphobe suppposed to do in springtime?? It's hard not to freak out at all the cooties on a cart and not a speck of bleach anywhere within reach.

I guess no one is wondering anymore why I'm having trouble making friends. We steal, hit and have "issues" with germs. Hmmmm...... Anyone want to come over, get disinfected and play?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'm a big "hit" in Indiana

Our first couple weeks in Indiana were "interesting". Driving to our new home, I had to use GPS. I didn't even have a key to our house. After spending a week unpacking boxes, rearranging things and obtaining my own house key, I made a list and headed to Target with the kids. Pulling into a parking spot, I bumped the car next to me. I told the Sara to stay in the car while I check it out. As I am bent over the car's fender, examining and photographing the damage, this crazy old lady comes tearing across the parking lot and proudly informs me that I hit that car. Really? Thank you, I was wondering was that sickening thud was!!!! Then she informed me I had to notify the car's owner. I "calmly" explained to her that I was photographing the damage and license plate so I can have the owner paged and exchange information. Sara gets out of the car, I load Christian into the cart and we head into Target so I can turn myself in. We head to the Service Desk and lo and behold there is the Crazy Samaritan from the parking lot. She is busily telling the clerk about my crime spree. I walk over and tell the clerk I am no longer a fugitive on the run and am turning myself in. The clerk has the vehicle's owner paged. We wait. By "we" I mean, the clerk, my kids, myself and the Crazy Samaritan. We wait awhile. I tell the clerk I am going to do my shopping and ask her to page me when the owner shows up. I also give her my name and numer in case my victim doesn't show up. About 15 minutes later I hear my name being paged. Waiting for me at the Service desk is a very nice lady and yes, you guessed it, the Crazy Samaritan. I introduce my self to my "victim" and explain what happened. We start walking to the parking lot. Crazy Samaritan is following us. My victim politely thanks her and we walk away. When we get to the parking lot, she asks me if I had her paged. I told her we had. She laughs and tells me how she learned of my crime spree on her car. She was in the bathroom when the door is kicked in Dirty Harry style. The Crazy Samaritan bursts in and asked in anyone owned a car matching the car I hit. My victim comes forward and is rushed to the Service Desk by Crazy Samaritan. Crazy Samaritan keeps telling to hurry so I won't have a chance to leave the scene. A few things strike me about this whole episode. First, you know that Crazy Samaritan has no life and my crime spree has provided her with hours of entertainment. Second, the lady I hit could not have been nicer about it. She even offered to get multiple estimates bc I was new in town and didn't want me to think she was cheating me. If you have to go on a crime spree, the parking lot at Target is the place to do it. Not that I am encouraging random acts of bad driving.

Two weeks after we moved here I came home from Target (they let me back) and asked where Sara was. Paul informed me "some girl came over and took her for a walk". Being a wonderful parent, I thought to ask "ummm Prof. Nash? To whom exactly did you give our firstborn?". He calmly told me he thought it was ok because the girl knew Sara's name and Sara recognized her dog. Everything turned out fine. It was the 12 year old girl across the street we met the week before. But, being me, I did have to needle him for just handing over my kid to the first person who comes to the door. I have been tempted many times to give her to the first person that comes by but never actually did it!!!!

Kids, playdates and a socially awkward mom (an interesting combo)

I took the bull by the horns yesterday and scheduled a play date for Sara. This little girl ("A") is in another first grade class at Sara's school. I've met her a couple times and Sara likes her. Now, words cannot describe the trepidation I experience when calling someone I do not know and trying to convince them that we are normal non-serial killers who would like to spend time with their kid. I left a nervous and stuttering message for the mom introducing myself and Sara and asked if we could schedule a play date. The father calls back 10 minutes later and says he is the stay at home dad and he would love to have us over. Oooops! There is my first faux pas. I foolishly assumed her mother would be in charge of play dates. Apparently I live in 1956 and it never crossed my mind that the dad would call and invite us over. Thankfully he was a good sport.

So, I load up my overly excited 6 year old and my giant 21 month old boy and head over to this girl's house. Now I get to make idle chit chat with some guy I don't know and chase my son around his yard. Chasing Christian around is a bit like following a ball in a pinball machine. Oh what fun. The girls have a great time playing with the new puppy. Christian (who is twice as big as this dog) is terrified. So, he sat his big booty on my lap and gave the dog the stink eye for 45 minutes. Turns out the dad was a great guy and the afternoon was quite pleasant. Departure was a less than pleasant scene. Ok, the opening scene from "Saving Private Ryan" was more calm and serene. Christian had finally warmed up to the dog and they were playing fetch. Yes, it was a mutual game of fetch. And the dog listens better than my son, in case anyone was wondering. Somehow Sara had lost her shoes and socks. I say 'somehow' because I chose not to ask. Some things I put in the "I don't need/want to know" category. I load Christian into the car. He is not happy about leaving his new furry little buddy and has no qualms about voicing his anger. Sara has temporarily gone deaf and does not hear the 6 requests to get in the car. She ends up in the car barefoot. Victory is mine. I now have 9 minutes to get home, change them out of their clothes (because I am allergic to dogs), get them cleaned up and start dinner because in 9 minutes they will be the babysitter's problem. It's amazing what you can get done in 9 minutes when you are properly motivated (i.e. escaping your kids for the night).

Monday, April 5, 2010

So, here is my 2nd attempt to make life like appear interesting. Sara and I just spent a great weekend back home in Michigan visiting friends and family. One of the few perks of moving is you get to go back home and feel like a celebrity. Everyone want to see you, feed you and entertain you!!! As most of you know, we have a tendency/habit to mooch food wherever we go. This is a skill my kids have perfected. Back home, we once had the pleasure of meeting a neighbor when we were playing outside and Sara (age 2.5) smelled something on the grill, ran to their house, introduced herself and said she was hungry and the food smelled good. A pattern was established and it paved the way to many wonderful friendships. As a result, Sara will eat anything put in front of her (or the person sitting next to her). As she once told our contractor, "you are eating blueberries. I like blueberries and it is nice to share". Lessons to live by. BTW- he gave her ALL the blueberries.

On this visit, Sara was fed by my father (4x), my sister-in-law Angie, the Elmblads, the Tischs, the Jevtics, and I am sure she scored some snacks along the way. We were in town for 3 days. Don't even get me started on all the loot and assorted gifts she received.

Sitting on Amy's patio (our 2nd home) and watching Sara run around our former yard with her friends was heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. No longer with this be an almost daily occurrence for her. It will happen 2-3 times depending on how often we can get home. (Yes, I still call it home). What I loved most about those summer evening was the casual and impromptu feeling. We would look out the kitchen window, see Amy starting the fire, wander over and have a wonderful evening of laughter and friendship.

I have met some people here but it isn't the same. We are still in the "courtship" phase of friendship. We have to be polite and on our best manners while we get to know each other and each other's personalities. We don't have the easy-going, familiar give and take. I like being able to walk into someone's house, grab a Diet Coke and plunk down on the sofa. I like that my friends at home could show up at my house and I didn't panic that they will be horrified that my dishes are in the sink and toys have taken over every inch of my house.

So, people of Granger, beware. You are welcome in my house but beware what you find. And if you are kind enough to invite me over, you better have some Diet Coke in the fridge!
People of Novi, also beware. We are never gone for long. Stock those fridges with Diet Coke and chocolate.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Getting into the groove of this blog thing

So, I've been hearing about and reading blogs for while and wondered if it was for me. I mean, who am I? Who cares what I think or feel? Then I thought some more and realized this was perfect for me! I get to say whatever I want however I want and no one can argue with me! Maybe there is something to this. So about me.....

I am the youngest of 6 children and the only girl. My mother died two days before my 16th birthday. Yup, those are two most interesting facts about me. A few more (possibly less interesting) details:

I have been married to Paul for almost 10 years and we have a daughter, Sara who is 6 and a son, Christian who is 21 months old. We recently moved to Granger, Indiana for Paul's job. To say moving was hard for me would be the understatement of the century. I absolutely hate change. We lived in a fabulous neighborhood and Sara went to a great school. We know and loved all our neighbors. They, in turn, put up with us and allowed us to join in their reindeer games!

So, here I am in this strange place, living in a strange house and surrounded by strangers. Everything is different - the grocery store, the school, the people, the neighborhood. It's been almost 6 months and it still feels surreal - not like a vacation but like it isn't permanent. I cannot describe how strange it is to see our things in this new setting. It doesn't feel like home yet. i used to be able to move around my house almost without thinking. I could reach for things without even thinking about it. Now, I don't know my way around my own house. I have to think about where something is or open 2 or 3 drawers or cupboards before I find something. I feel like a visitor in my own "home". When does it feel like "home"? When does it feel like "us"?
Now, I realize how fortunate we are. My husband got this amazing new job and promotion and so many of my friends and family are out of work. Do I feel like a huge crybaby whining about moving? Yes. Does that stop me from lamenting the loss of the wonderful and familiar life we left behind? Hell, no!
So, this is my first attempt at a blog. We'll see how it goes from here. Frankly, I am not all that fascinating so this may be a very short-lived endeavor.
Good night