Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ghosts of Christmas Past

I am sitting on my couch right now, looking at a large stack of gifts belonging to Brooklyn, that are sitting off to my left, near the stairs.  The stack includes presents from friends and family from her birthday party on Saturday and presents from family and friends for Hanukkah.  Off to my right sits another stack of unopened presents for what remains of Hanukkah.  The stack is obviously not as big as it was on Night One, but there are still presents there.  Hidden in the rafters of the garage are two more large presents that I am debating even giving to her, or possibly just returning to the store.  You can say it, she has too much.

When we started cleaning out B's playroom to turn it into Kensi's room, I was struck by the  number of unopened toys that were there.  Not unopened because B didn't ask from time to time to open them, because she did, but unopened because whenever she did ask me, the time wasn't right or I have some other random reason for not allowing her to open that particular gift.  Several of those gifts have long since been outgrown, and to open others would just be to perpetuate the excess that she currently lives in.  Yes, she has too much.

But I'm not writing about Brooklyn's excess right now, other than to briefly comment on how blessed she is.  Rather, I am struck by another thing that occurred to me recently, something for which I have no explanation.

While out shopping on "Black Friday" with my Mom, we stopped at Kohl's because something in the ad had caught her eye.  A 1/2 hour after finding that thing, we were standing in the interminable line which wrapped around the store, working our way to the check out at the front.  Somewhere about 1/2 way there, we passed a pile of pottery wheels for kids.  I pointed it out to Mom and asked her if she remembered that Santa had once brought me a pottery wheel for Christmas.  I think I was in the third grade, or somewhere around there.  I'm not sure why Santa thought to bring me that pottery wheel, but I was very excited at the idea of getting to use it, to create something with my own two hands.  It came complete with the clay, just add batteries (and some water for moulding, of course.) 

In those days, we had to ask for permission to do pretty much anything, especially if what we wanted to do involved the possibility of any kind of mess, and most certainly if what we wanted to do required batteries, which for some strange reason were rationed more strictly than gasoline was in the early 70s.   I remember asking very soon after opening my pottery wheel (maybe even Christmas night) if I could try it out.  I was told "no!"  Over the ensuing days, weeks and months, I would ask from time to time if I could use my pottery wheel, and the answer was always the same, "NO!"  I was never given a reason why, just told to "listen" and "put it away."  Every so often, I would take the wheel out of the box and stick batteries in it, just to see it turn round and round.  I can still picture the box, becoming dusty and caving in from being stacked with some of my other prize possessions, and the smaller box of clay inside, getting hard and unyielding.

I never did get the chance to play with that pottery wheel.  When we moved after my Dad passed away, the box with the pottery wheel moved with us and took up a spot in my closet.  I think it was still there when I cleaned out my room when Mom sold the house and moved to California, although I can't remember now what I might have done with it.  It seemed odd to me even just a few years ago, that Santa would go through all of that trouble to bring me that gift, and my parents would not let me even enjoy it.

Fast forward to my life now, complete with a 5 year old who has more toys than she knows what to do with.  Glimpse briefly at the stack of gifts now sitting on the floor, many of which require batteries or some other adult assistance or outside parts.  Consider the playroom currently filled with legos, a toy kitchen (complete with food and pots and pans), and the stack of coloring books and crayons that litter most stationery surfaces in the house.  In this world of excess, does she really need to open the latest doll/ game/ jewelry kit right now?

Here is where I had a bit of an "ah ha!" moment.  I caught myself being my Dad.  Scary enough when we women find ourselves turning into our mothers, carrying those large purses, stuffed with kleenex and crayons, a spare diaper and gum, telling our children to "stop that or your face will freeze that way!" and experiencing the various other genetic injustices nature heaps upon us, but to catch ourselves doing something our Dads might have done (or did do)?  That is just too much!

I can only imagine what my Dad's thought process was when he would prevent or forbid us from playing with new toys.  (And don't even get me started on all of the lip gloss and jewelry that B got with presents... my Dad would have confiscated and trashed it all - a move I am seriously considering!)  Maybe he thought to extend the joy of the birthday or Christmas, by rationing the presents over time  Maybe he thought we would appreciate those gifts more if we had to wait to use them.  Maybe he hoped to experience them with us and so wanted us to wait for a time that he could play with the toys with us, but the time never became available.  It's hard to say.

For me, my reasoning is usually a little more selfish.  I remember not having much as a kid.  I remember Christmas being the only time for new clothe or toys and even then in limited quantities.  I remember trying to ration things on my own.  My fear when B asks to open something is that she will break it and then it will be gone forever.  In trying to limit what she opens or plays with, on some strange subconscious level, I suppose I'm trying to preserve the excess that I didn't have, maybe in the hopes that she will come to appreciate how good she's got it.

Then again, she is 5.  She is not going to suddenly wake up and discover that she is an incredibly lucky little girl and begin to treat her things better (although we work to teach her to respect her things.)  I know that some awareness of her place in life comes later, and through hindsight, just as it did for me.  I suppose this is one of those "life lessons" we get to endure as parents.  This one for me is the lesson in letting go, and allowing her to be a kid and play with her things as she wants to.  She will do so with the knowledge that if it gets broken, then she is done and the toy will not be replaced.  Maybe if I can let go on this level, I'll be a little better prepared to let go when she is 18 and going off to college?  (O.k., let's not get ahead of ourselves.) 

So, in the end, I suppose she will get to play with her toys - other than those that we donate to Toys for Tots or some similar charity.  Of course, she has to write her Thank You notes first.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Sterilization" - such a cold word

I'm not having any more children.  It was never a big secret, but shortly after I got pregnant with Kensi, I said I was done having children.  When we found out it was a girl and people would ask if we were going to have a third child to try for a boy, my response was constant... "Shop's closed."  In response to the confused and questionning look I would inevitably get, I would elaborate: "snip, snip."  That would usually get the point across.

I was 31 when I had Brooklyn, in fairly good shape and pretty healthy overall.  It took me over a year to recover physically from being pregnant and having her.  When I say "recover," I mean to get to a point where I felt phyically "normal."  It took almost 2 years for me to recover mentally and another almost 2 years after that before I would even consider the thought of having another child.  With Brooklyn, it took us almost a year to get pregnant and I had 2 miscarriages along the way.  At 36, having made the decision to double our number of offspring, I faced not only the usual challenges of my body dealing with pregnancy, I was now chasing a 4 1/2 year old and was dealing with a medical community that considered me to be "old."  (Of course, the term they used is "AMA" - Advanced Maternal Age. Old.)

As  if that was not enough, my body betrayed me on a larger scale.  When Brooklyn was 7 days old, I had seizures and spent several days in ICU.  (Rob was awakened at 4 a.m. to me having a seizure and had to call 9-1-1 and then watched me have scan after test after scan while they tried to figure out what was going on with me.)  They came to the ultimate decision that it was eclampsia and I was a rare case where it manifested itself 7 days after delivery, rather than during pregnancy or within 24 hours after delivery, and what made me more rare was that my pregnancy was "textbook" and I had no symptoms. 

This "condition" was a big concern to my new OB, who kept a close eye on my blood pressure throughout the pregnancy.  He decided to induce me, to keep an eye on how my body responded to the delivery, and of course things still went "south" on the 7th day and I was back in the ER with high blood pressure and ended up having a seizure.  On my second day in the hospital after the seizure, the OB came in and sat down to discuss things and mentioned that he didn't think there would be any more children in our future.  Of course my initial response was my mantra of "shop's closed."

Fast forward to this past week, one month after Kensi's arrival.  I was back at the OB's office for another follow up (and blood pressure check).  When discussing the next few weeks, he finished with "and we will discuss sterilization options."  Talk about a sock to the gut.  Not that I hadn't already made that decision on my own.  Not that I wanted to have any more kids.  Not that I hadn't been saying all along that I was done having children, and that "snip, snip" was in someone's future.  But to hear it from the OB, and to hear it so bluntly, put it in completely different perspective.

So now it's out there - this blunt declaration of my future as a mother.  Because of the stress that pregnancy (and delivery) puts on my body, because of the dangers caused by a sky-rocketing blood pressure, I should not subject myself to that condition anymore.  But the word "sterilization" is such a cold word.  Maybe there's a better way to express it?  Of course, people make these decisions every day, and people map out their future every day.  I had made plans and was mapping our future as a family.  I just never thought I'd be making this decision because the doctor told me I had to make it.  Any maybe we can come up with a warmer word for the process?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Kindergarten Chronicles, Part 2

The squeal and laughter of children splashing in the pool have given way to the laughter and squeals of children playing on the swings and running across the playground.  The ding-a-ling of the ice cream truck's bell has given way to the ring of the bell announcing the beginning of the school day.  Somewhere (but not in Southern California, it seems) leaves are starting to turn, the wind is picking up and it's fall.  Back to school.

I meant to write this when Brooklyn finished her first week of school. Needless to say, I blinked and a month had gone by.  If I am not careful and blink again, it might be Christmas.  So finally, over a month after school started, here we are.  (Brooklyn told me that she has had 20 days of school.)  Of course it goes without saying that school is not the same as it was 30 years ago when I was finishing kindergarten and starting first grade. (Has it really been 30 years?  Yikes.)

Here are just a few things I've noticed over this first month of being an elementary school parent.  My apologies if you recognize yourself in these generalizations, or if I touch on any over-sensative nerves, I really mean no harm. :)

Homework - Yup, there's homework.... in kindergarten.  At the beginning of each month, we get a calendar and each day has an assignment.  At the end of the month, we turn in the packet and B gets a grade.  The good thing is that B likes to do homework and asks if she can do it each night when we get home.  But seriously.... homework... in kindergarten?  Is this really necessary?  The jury is still out.

Oversleeping - The alarm goes off and up we go.  But what do you do if the alarm doesn't go off?  ARGH!  It took us about a week and a half before we slept through an alarm.  I'll admit, the alarm is on my side of the bed, but in my own defense, I'm pregnant and don't sleep well.  So when I can sleep, I take advantage of it.  Also, we're getting up an entire hour earlier than we did for preschool.  Somehow, the alarm either went off and got ignored, or didn't go off.  Up we rushed (B actually slept in too) and ran to the shower, hurried through breakfast and lunch packing and off we went to school.  I think I deposited B inside the gate just as the first bell was ringing.  Phew!  We made it, in about 20 minutes, start to finish.  Not too bad for a couple of rookies.

Backpacks - Backpacks have changed over the years, just like fashions, but a couple of things strike me as just plain odd.  The first is parents that carry their child's backpack.  I'm sorry, but is it really that heavy?  Is your child really that tired that they can't lug their bag themselves?  (And let's review.... it's likely that a large majority of the students get dropped off within 100 yeards of the school - and then there are those that walk from home in the neighborhood.)  Still.... let the kid carry the bag.  Luckily, in kindergarten, there isn't much too the backpack.  A lunch, a snack, some papers.  In a year or two, some books, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.  For now, B carries her own bag.  It's part of the allure of being a "big girl," one of those things she will just have to do for herself.

On this same page, we now have those bags with wheels.  I can understand if the bags are heavy, you might want to put some wheels on them, so that the kids (especially those walking to school from around the neighborhood) don't put their backs out lugging around all that extra weight.  But are all those wheels really necessary?  I only ask because last week, as I was walking B up to the gate, several boys with backpacks on wheels went running through the cross-walk, tearing around anyone in their path- and then held up traffic when the backpacks flipped over on the back side and they had to stop to turn them back over.

Fundraising - My, how things have changed.  I don't remember selling anything in kindergarten.  My first recollection of fundraising was magazine sales in the 5th and 6th grade.  After that, it was a free for all.  These days, fundraising starts early.  Some of you might remember B selling wrapping paper in pre-school, and now, the wrapping paper sales continue into kindergarten and beyond.  On top of that, there's PTA memberships and scholastic books and spirit wear and all sorts of things.  The beauty of it is that somewhere along the way, someone decided to give parents the option of just donating cash.  Someone (dare I say, a genius?) figured out that some parents may not have the time or energy or even desire to peddle their kids door to door in the neighborhood, or to foist them on friends and relatives, and would prefer just to write a check.  Someone figured out how much the school needs in donations per kid and parents now have the option to just donate that amount.  Simple.  Beautiful.  Smart.

School Pictures - back in "the day," parents got the word about when pictures would be taken just so that they could dress the kids appropriately.  Pictures were taken, packets sent home a few weeks later and parents would shake their heads in horror or disappointment over the mediocrity that was "school pictures."  If you were lucky, a reshoot was made available for those really bad ones, but essentially, you were stuck with the pictures and whatever package Lifetouch offered.  (And yes, I vaguely remember, it was Lifetouch who did school pictures.)  It is still Lifetouch, but things have changed.  These days (at least at B's school), we get a notice about a week ahead of time.  The notice includes a website and the website includes options for packages.  But even more than that, we now have background options - over 100 different styles!  Suddenly, the school picture has morphed into so much more.  I'm not sure I can handle the pressure.  What happens if I buy a package and don't have enough pictures?  What happens if I prepay for a package and B's picture isn't any good... and how on earth do I choose the backgrounds when there are so many choices?

I had more tidbits to comment on, but I'm getting antsy from sitting so long and so will have to cut this one short.  Maybe next time I'll comment on the SUV brigade, the moms who drop off their kids dressed to kill in heels and a sundress, the event that seems to be drop-off (complete with the coffee clatch,) the parent valet volunteers, the kids still crying about going to school in the third week, and the green-yellow-red discipline system.  I know you are all on the edge of your seats.  Until then, you'll have to be content with the smell of paste and crayons wafting through the air and the whisper of misbehavior following along behind it.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mommy's Work is Never Done

When I was home pregnant with Brooklyn, I would spend my days at home waiting for Rob and getting ready for baby. Rob would come home and ask me what I did all day and I would not be able to remember a single thing I did. I was usually on the couch when he came home, remote control in hand, channel surfing. After Brooklyn was born, the first 6 months passed much the same way, with Rob coming home and asking me what we had done all day. If it wasn’t a day with a Gymboree or sign language class, I would be hard pressed to recount my activities, outside of the usual feedings and diaper changes. It would frustrate me that I could not remember what I had done and it would frustrate Rob that I hadn’t done anything (or so he thought.)

Today, I’m at home. I didn’t go in to work because there were a few things I wanted to get done, in preparation for a busy weekend ahead. I decided it would be fun to try to keep track of all of the things that I do today, so that Rob can see (and I can remember) what it’s like to be a stay-at-home mom. It also dovetails nicely with my Project 365 that I am working on, trying to keep a note or take a picture each day for a year, to remember this year. I think I picked a good year – the year of the Tiger, my year, our new baby’s year. We’ll see.

So, what to do today? Well, the novel I am reading sits by my bed forlorn, collecting dust in the morning’s rays of sunshine, the characters anxiously awaiting my return to tell me more of the story. There are cities in Russia and Greece to explore and I can feel the pull of the adventure, but I sit in the kitchen, downstairs and the book sits on my nightstand, upstairs.

The morning started like any other, with my alarm screeching in my ear and a few slaps of the ol’ snooze button. I dragged myself into the shower with eyes that were barely open, as I was greeted by the sunniest possible face, giving new meaning to “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” wishing me a “Good Morning.” As I was welcomed the onslaught of hot water, Brooklyn settled next to our bed with her bag of books, occasionally checking to see if Daddy really was still sleeping.

Once the showers were completed and everyone dressed, we headed downstairs where Daddy got started on B’s breakfast and I put the sheets and comforter in the washing machine, again. After a great week of no accidents last week, this week has been bad, with middle-of-the-night calls almost every night and dirty sheets to wash every morning. After I started the washer, yet again, I went back into the kitchen to begin collecting the pieces of B’s lunch for school. B settled in her chair with her pancakes and peanut butter and Daddy got to work on her PB&J. I settled into my chair with a glass of Apple juice. Yes, I know it’s not the best or healthiest choice of a breakfast, particularly when you are 5 months pregnant, but this little one isn’t cooperating when it comes to food. A good thing if you’re trying to lose weight, which I’m not, so it’s not a good thing.

I managed to flip through ½ of a magazine while B ate, even managing to get a few words in edgewise with Rob over his breakfast of waffles and peanut butter. (B comes by her love of peanut butter naturally.) After cleaning up breakfast, it was a quick brush of the hair, and even quicker pony tail (for B, that is) and the application of the ever-present sunscreen. Kisses good bye and they were out the door. Silence. Peace. I opted to sit in my chair and finish the magazine I had started, a luxury not often experienced. After completing the “flip through,” I went back to pull out the pages that had caught my eye – an idea for a holiday gift for a sister and brother-in-law, and a recipe for potato salad that looked interesting. I checked the clock and saw that it was only 8:30. Yikes!

At some point during my magazine perusal, the buzzer on the washing machine heralded the completion of the cycle. Trudging to the laundry room, I eyed once more the door to Rob’s new body, the door which seemingly held the key to kick starting his fitness routine, the door where the chin up bar was supposed to go. But first, the laundry – quick switch of the load from washer to dryer, turn it on, walk away. I eyed the door again as I walked past. Well, no time like the present and I’ve got the energy (for once), so why not? I pulled out my tool kit (yes, it’s mine, not Rob’s) and my cordless drill (again, mine) and drill bits. Checking the battery and finding it dead, of course, I began a search of the packed hall cabinet for the charger. Success and battery coming soon. Meanwhile, I tried to picture how the chin up bar was supposed to be installed, given the complete lack of any photographs or instruction from the company who sent it. I did find one “action” shot in one of the ads, trying to sell more product, that gave me enough of an idea of what I was doing to get started.

Several drill bits and battery switches later (I kept having to go up a size on the drill bit and the battery wasn’t charging fast enough for my taste), I got the brackets in and the chin up bar up. We’ll see how it holds up and how much use it gets. It is also putting a slight ding in the door frame, which gives the house some character, I suppose. I may have to do something about that in the future, we’ll see. Tools away, I return to the kitchen, my “thinking spot,” to begin the construction of Pooh Bear. His bee hive baked last night, I had to clean up the mixing bowl and get my tools ready. I also cleaned up the crock pot from dinner the other night – lasagna – since Rob had left it to soak and apparently forgot it was there.

So, that’s been my day so far. Laundry, dishes, a chin up bar, a few photos along the way for posterity, and this little diatribe. And it’s 9:42. Back to my baking and I’ll check in later to see how the day is going. I forgot to mention… somewhere in there I also managed to check my email from work (nothing but spam, which is a good thing) and clean a few pieces of junk mail off of the kitchen counter, and get a grocery list started. Progress.

10:00 a.m. - Just for fun, I threw another load of laundry into the washing machine.

It’s 10:20 - the bear cake is in the oven and the cupcakes (excess batter) are on standby. What’s a Mom to do with her time? Well, go in the garage and dig for cake decorating tools and pieces, of course! And fold some laundry while she’s at it. Is it lunch time yet?

10:45 – Oven timer, washing machine timer and dryer timer all going off at once. Seriously? Now I know why women wanted Calgon to take them away! Cake not completely baked, so back in the oven for a few more minutes. People must be warming up to their work days, because emails are starting to come in fast and furious. Onesie flower pots are done and ready to go. While putting them with the stack of things to take on Sunday, I ran into the favors and remembered that I had to tie a few things together and make labels. Yikes! Good thing I’ll have some time tomorrow afternoon – I hope! Off to put the laundry in the dryer and then make some labels. Hopefully the cake will be done soon so I can put the cupcakes in the oven. Once those are done I’ll have to head out to run some errands. I suppose that means I should comb my hair and put on some decent clothes?

11:15 – time to take stock: Laundry – last load in the dryer. Bear cake – Baked. Cupcakes – done. Favor tags – Printed. Onesie pots – done and ready to go. Chin up bar – up. All that and it’s not even lunch time. Hair is combed, decent (enough) clothes are on and I’ve even got a touch of make-up on. (Just enough to hide the red spots, and of course for the added SPF protection.)

I’m ready to head out, list in hand. If I work my route just right, I might even end up at Taco Bell for lunch! Oddly, baby likes Mexican food, especially El Torito’s chips and salsa. See you after lunch!

11:45 – All done at the grocery store. I had to stay away from the outer edges, and avoid any perishable foods. Quick and easy. Headed to the mall to find a few things to wear over the next few days (still need to get my box of maternity clothes from storage.) You gotta love parking for pregnant women. Right next to the door at the grocery store and right next to the door at the mall. On the radio when I got in the car – “Hangin’ Tough” by NKOTB. We still need a sitter for Saturday night. ARGH! On a more random note – it’s hot! The thermometer in the car says that it’s 78 degrees. Maybe it’s my own busted internal thermometer., but it feels hotter.

11:50 – Sitter problem solved! But I’m still Hungry!

12:30 – Grocery store, check. Cake store, check. Mall, check. Now… FOOD! (My usual luck continues … the gas alert started to beep at me – car needs “food” too. Taco Bell, then home. Finally, a chance to sit down. All of my errands (for now) were done and my lunch was waiting for me in front of the television. After I was done, I put together the favors for the shower on Sunday and came back to update my rundown of today’s activities.

I’m enjoying my time on the couch. I’m wishing that I could close my eyes and nap for a little bit, but I don’t think that’s a good idea. I have to head over to the scrapbook store soon to try and get things squared away for the demonstration tonight. At some point after 5 o’clock, I’ll have to go pick Brooklyn up at school and bring her home. This is why I can’t take a nap. This is why the idea of just melting into the couch is so tempting, but I can’t . . . and my book is still waiting for me on my nightstand.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dumbing it Down

As parents, we can look forward to the arrival of child number 2, because we see it as an opportunity to fix the mistakes made with child number 1.  Problems with sleep patterns?  Fix them this time around.  Want to try different foods?  Here you go, have another chance.

For me, I thought I was being so smart with #1.  I skipped the baby talk altogether and just spoke normally to my child.  I would spend hours with her, carrying her around the house with me, telling her what I was doing.  I knew I was in trouble when her 5th or 6th word was "email."  I thought it was fun to lay on the couch when she was an infant, with her curled up on my chest and read to her.  No "See Spot Run" for this kid.  Nope, I read her Harry Potter books and W.E.B. Griffin books and legal thrillers.  (If you're not familiar with WEB Griffin, he writes military novels - she got to hear all about OSS operators (precurser to the CIA) during World War II in Argentina and about present day Secret Service agents.)  I thought I was doing a good thing, helping her develop her vocabulary, exposing her to words.  As she got the hang of talking, she would repeat words to us, trying the word in different places in the sentence until we told her that she was using it correctly.  Who knew that a 2 year old could figure out where a noun went in a sentence.  At the time, we thought it was cute.

When B was a baby, I took her to sign language classes.  Conventional wisdom is that if you teach a baby to sign a few simple words ("milk," "hungry," thank you," etc.) they are less tense and don't throw tantrums as much, because they feel that they can communicate without being able to talk.  Studies show that babies who learn sign language are also quicker to talk and have a more extended vocabulary.  I should have known.  I thought I was so smart, getting her going early, teaching her to communicate.  You'd never know how much you miss the silence of sign language once the voice box kicks into high gear.

I also kept the television off.  She never cared much for the Baby Einstein dvds and would much rather chew on a board book, so I left the "squawk box" off.  It wasn't until she was 1 and a half or 2 that we started watching Dora the Explorer and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and even then she didn't seem interested for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a stretch.  Apparently that was enough for her to memorize the music and start singing the songs all over the house.  And then there's Sesame Street.  Such fun memories for some people, of watching it as kids.  Now I wonder if I will ever get "C is for cookie" out of my head.

These days, my first attempts at parenting have been coming back around to bite me in the ass.  My 4 year old has a vocabulary like you would not believe.  I'm not talking about curse words or profanity (although she did give "shit" a pretty good run for its money one day about a year ago.)  I'm talking about 3 and 4 syllable words that some seniors in high school couldn't use properly.  At a wedding on Saturday, she remarked that the reception was "magnificent."  But trust me, it's not all sunshine and roses with this one.  She knows how to manipulate the system and boy does she ever.  Yesterday I told her that we had to stop at the grocery store and Rite Aid on the way home.  She started throwing a mini tantrum, complaining that she just wanted to go home.  I said I wanted to go home as well, but "these are the things we have to do."  Her response was "what things do we have to do, mommy?"  I said "I already told you."  Her response: "No, you said 'these are the things we have to do' and I asked you 'what' and you didn't answer."  This is a 4 year old, people!  For lack of anything else to say, I told her to stop being a Smart Ass!  (I'm sure that phrase will wind it's way into her usage and come back to haunt me soon.)

In my ever present frustration, and with #2 on the way, I am now faced in an opportunity to test the theory.  Do I use this opportunity to dumb things down?  Do I refrain from talking to this little baby as I would any other person, opting instead to coo and make funny faces and noises?  Or do I let the first one explain how things go?  I'm quite sure Brooklyn would rise to the occasion.  She's already reading some of her bedtime stories to us, maybe she'll chip in and read them to the baby.  Of course, then she'll be telling the baby that things are "magnificent."

What is a parent to do?  Is this one of those "mistakes" that we learn from, or is this just a speed bump on the road to greatness?  Do we weather this vocabulary storm in the hopes that she will one day win the Jeopardy Teen Tournament and be able to pay for her own college education?  Perhaps, instead, we take on the role of mimes.  Instead of talking to the baby, we will act out everything.  Better yet, I'll take the baby to sign language class and speak only in sign.  The baby might get to age 3 or 4 thinking that "quiet" is the way to go.  Then again, with Brooklyn running around (who I swear does not have an "inside" voice) this child might have to scream at the top of his or her lungs to get a word in edgewise.

I'm sure there will be other hurdles as we go, things that we remember doing with Brooklyn that we will wonder about with #2.  I'm certainly going to think twice before I plop down on the couch to read a book out loud to the baby.  Maybe the Archie comics will be more the right speed, rather than the globe trotting spy novels that I gravitate to.  Then again, maybe not.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Some Scrappiness

I typically don't post my scrapping exploits, mostly because I don't usually remember to take pictures or scan them before I give them away (gift albums and contest entries and things) or before I send them out (invites) or before they go into books never to be seen again (except at holiday parties when people have one (or two) too many glasses of wine and want to see random memories of trips or parties.

This time around (for once), I managed to scan the invite to our annual Passover Seder that is coming up.  If you didn't get an invite, I'm sorry - our living room is only so big and as our numbers have grown, we've had to economize the guest list.  Maybe next year in shifts?  If you did get one, no need to read any further you've got an AMC - Wolf Den Creations original.  Cherish it.  HA!

The pictures doesn't quite do it justice, because you don't see the finished product, sides folded in and closed with purple and green flowers and tucked into a "grape" colored envelope.  But you get the idea, right?

If you're lucky, I might share a snippet of a certain shower invite that I'm working on,.. or maybe I'll wait until those are made public.  Wouldn't want to ruin it for anyone.  Until next time...

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Sting of Rejection

Recently I've come back into the realm of rejection. Not having experienced it first hand (yet), but at least again becoming aware that it is out there. In junior high, we first learn of rejection from the opposite sex. In my memories, it was pretty much me - a too-tall, clumsy, gangly girl - being rejected by the boys. I had a few crushes, guys I thought I was in "love" with, that introduced me to the finer points of rejection, by way of laughing at me and mostly outright ignoring me.

In high school, the joys of rejection by the opposite sex continued for me. I was lucky enough to have a boyfriend for my junior and senior years, which meant I was spared the horror of asking someone to the Homecoming Dance or Prom and having to face up to being told "no." I did have to ask a guy to Homecoming my senior year (and face the possibility that he would laugh in my face), but luckily for me, that turned out o.k. and we ended up dating for about a year.

Some of us were also lucky enough to play sports in high school, but many others tried and it didn't work out so well. They had to deal with the rejection of getting cut from the team - having someone tell you that you just weren't good enough that year. (And yes, sports fans, I too tasted rejection from a coach - I was cut from the volleyball team in 8th and 9th grades- but I think I rallied pretty well from that.)

Unfortunately for us all, the sting of rejection doesn't end with the opposite sex or that first blush of competition on the sports field. As we get ready to finish high school, we come smack up against our first really big test - applying for college. Some people pick schools based on academics, some go for sports and some check out the list of Playboy's top 50 party schools and make their choice that way. Regardless of why you pick the school or where you want to go, you have to put yourself out there, put your fate in someone else's hands and completely relinquish control. You fill out your application, write your essays, attach your check and wait. And wait. And wait.

I only applied to 3 schools, partly because I really wanted to play basketball in college and partly because I couldn't afford all of the fees to apply. 2 schools I picked because I was recruited to play basketball and 1 school I picked because I had some grand dream of going to a big university. Alas, I was not destined to "Roll Bama, Roll Tide" (although they did win the National Championship in what would have been my freshman year) - not that I didn't get in, because I did. I just chose to wear Crimson at a smaller school, closer to home. I think in part, I was worried that I would go to Bama and try out for the hoops team and be rejected. So I took the safer route, going where I had been recruited.

In college, we come face to face with our mortality, so to speak - on the social scene, on the sports field and in the "real world." Nowhere else can you get so much opportunity for disappointment in one place. You can be rejected left and right by all of the members of the opposite sex in this new "target rich environment." You can be turned down from here to eternity for all of choice on-campus jobs and work study programs. You can try out for the sports team... and be crushed because 10 other high school sports stars beat you to the punch.  And forget trying to get a job in the outside world.  It's brutal.

Rejection, rejection, rejection. Somehow, we learn to live with it, we learn to deal with it and we move on. Think about all of the different ways you put yourself out there as a kid, or in high school or in college, and you get through it. You roll with the punches, pick up the pieces and move on. So you don't get your first choice of colleges. Odds are you end up somewhere and you get a good education. You might even have fun, meet some great friends and (horror!) end up with a degree. You fill out application after application and submit boxes full of resumes. Somewhere in that mess, you get a job offer. It may not be the one you wanted, it may not pay quite what you think you are worth, but you get a job and you start working and you move on. Some of us who were gluttons for punishment decided to go for a second round in the education ring and applied to grad school - that leads to more opportunitys to have a door slammed in your face, whether it's by the school, the loan companies who are funding your education or the firms you are applying for a job with. But we get through it.

I sit here in my office, with my diplomas on the wall, 10 years in the practice of law - my "career" and I smile at the thought of what I've come through. I was rejected more times than I care to admit by the guys in junior high and high school and college and law school. (You know who you are and all I have to say is "HA! Look at me now!") But I survived it and met a great guy and got married ... and, well, you know how the story goes. I was cut from the volleyball team in 8th and 9th grade and still managed to play college sports (which statistically is quite a feat, apparently). I sent out more resumes to more firms than a person should have to, and I got that first job. So it wasn't the glamorous, high paying job downtown, but it was a start, I got experience and it paid the bills. I had my own place and I was supporting myself. It was a step. I can say that I worked on Wilshire Blvd. in Beverly Hills, and now, I'm sitting in my own office, a "sort-of" partner in a firm, doing what I have always wanted to do.

Of course, now that I've climbed all of these mountains and reached the top, I've become complacent. There's no need to worry about rejection once you've finished school, gotten the job, the house, the guy, the life. Right?

So why do I bring this up now? Why dredge up the memories of broken hearts and broken dreams from yesteryear? Because I'm putting myself out there again. Yikes.

Those of you who know me know that I have "projects." You may recall a mention of a book that I've been trying to write, or you are familiar with my scrapbook room that is filled with half-finished gifts, family albums and projects. (And no, I haven't finished my wedding or honeymoon yet. I'm working on it!)

I have never been able to quite put my finger on why all of these projects sit unfinished, but in the last few days, I think I might have figured out at least part of it. I think I leave things 1/2 done not because I don't want to complete them, but because I'm scared that the finished product will be rejected. When we "finish" high school, we face rejection by colleges. When we "finish" college or grad school, we face rejection by the work force, as we submit our resumes. I think it has been so long since I put myself out there, that I am scared to do so now, thinking of all of the reasons why someone won't like my book or my artwork or my projects (including because I have some very talented friends who I think put my work to shame). So I opt to let submission deadlines pass, to let journals filled with notes accumulate in dusty piles, to let that screenwriters book sit unopened with post-its stuck all over the cover, to let someone else do it. All of it sits because I got used to having what I thought I needed and didn't want to reach for more.

So now that I've figured it out, it's time to change. I've been working on a few projects for contests and a design team, and I'm putting myself out there. Over the next few days, I'm going to be finishing those projects and submitting them. Odds are that I won't be picked (I'm o.k. with that) and that I won't win the big money. But in my own mind, getting it out there is the big step for me. Some of you might know that I wrote a little book for Brooklyn, completely with drawings of her favorite bear, for our trip last summer. There really aren't alot of travel books on the market for the preschool set and B is bright enough to be introduced ahead of time to where we were going. So I wrote (and drew) the book of Mr. Bear, having him visit friends and family in some of the places where we were going. One of my goals for this year is to put out at least 5 letters to publishers of childrens books to see if there is any interest in Mr. Bear. As with the contest entries, the odds are firmly stacked against me. But I'm going to try.

I think that there will be something freeing (is that a word?) about putting my work out there. I'm hoping that it will give me the push I need to finally sit down and finish a book. Any book (I've got about 5 started in notebooks and rolling around in my head,) if for no other reason that to get it out of my head and make room for more stuff. I seriously think it's going to explode one of these days.

So my challenge in the next few weeks is to get things done and out of my house. To put myself out there again and leave my fate in someone elses hands. (This is a big step for someone who did it all on her own for so many years.) It's quite a step to sit back and wait on someone else to do something, to rely on someone else to tell you that it's good enough, especially after so many years of making my own way. That's my goal, my challenge to myself - to get back into the game. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Is there such a thing as too much....

Scrapbooking supplies? I've decided that I'm not really a scrapbooker, but more of a collector. And of course I was online ordering more today. I went to the site of one of my favorite designers, Reminisce, under the excuse of looking for baby shower ideas (I'm throwing one for a friend in a few months and doing some recon.) By the way, I should be WORKING right now. Anyway... I ended up buying a bunch of other paper, for other things. In the process, I noticed that they are having a contest which sounds like it is right up my alley. Design an album based on their newest line of paper, "Passport" which is all about various dream destinations. I also happened to check out the blog for a local scrapbook store and they are having a design team contest. Looks like I'll need to set aside some time to scrapbook. Oh wait, I'm going to Vegas this weekend.

And, in the midst of re-creating my family room, I'm still trying to sort through the thousands of pictures that I took in Europe. One of my goals for 2010 is to complete the albums for Europe 2004 AND Europe 2009. We'll see how that goes.

In the meantime, it's raining cats and dogs and I need to get some work done. But I'm starting to feel a little antsy about my crafting too. I need to start watching television in my office/craft room again. That reminds me... I got the Becky Higgins 365 kit that I need to get cracking on as well. ARGH!

Monday, January 11, 2010

My How the Time Flies...

Did I spell "flies" right? It's one of those words that never quite looks right, no matter how many times you write it, or how many times you spell check it.

Oh my goodness, it's January! For those of you just following my blog, it's been almost 5 months since my last post. Where has the time gone!?! (For those of you on Facebook, there have been a few more recent posts, but not many.) Life kicks into gear around here just into September, when school starts up and doesn't slow down until the end of January or even into February. There are birthdays (mine, Brooklyn, Rob, Phil and Ray) and the holidays (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year's- and do we could Valentine's Day?) and the other stuff that life is made of. You blink at September 1 and suddenly you are in February, looking at red hearts all over the stores. How did I get here? What did I miss!?

Reading back through my last post (on the blog) made me chuckle. I was lamenting the fine layer of dust that seems to constantly cover my family room and celebrating its "live in" feel. I was wishing for someone to materialize in my living room armed with a paint roller and can of paint, with new carpet underfoot. I laugh at myself because sometimes things work themselves out, just not the way you think they will.

We are finally getting new carpet in our family room. Not because we had some overwhelming desire to get it done (5 years after moving into the house) and not because we suddenly found a stash of cash under our mattress. Nope, we're getting new carpet in the family room because Brooklyn got sick. What? Well, she drank some fruit punch CapriSun one afternoon after I picked her up from school (she hadn't been feeling well.) Then I left to do a boutique and a few hours later I got an email from Rob that she had gotten sick and how do you get pink stains out of the carpet and couch. Hmmm. I arrived home to find a trail from the couch to the downstairs bathroom. Needless to say, the carpet's days were numbered. It helps that we did not like the carpet to begin with, so there is no attachment, no desire to save it. When a sale flyer came from a local carpet store advertising a sale on New Year's Day, we were hooked.

From there, the rest was easy (or so it seems in retrospect.) We had them measure the rooms, we picked out something we liked, we scheduled delivery and installation. Walking back into the house after the successful carpet shopping trip, I said "hey, if we're getting new carpet, now is a great time to paint!" Having already bought primer a few months ago, I went into the garage the very next day and collected my supplies. That weekend we painted the family room with primer. Of course, when I went to get more primer (the walls had been an ugly brown) the nice man at Home Depot told me that I didn't need primer any more, there was now a paint that didn't require it. (Umm, right.) So I picked out a sample of yellow that I liked (yes, it was similar to the yellow splotches already on the walls) and we got to work.

I won't bore you with the details (if you're read this far, you're hooked anyway), but I will tell you that we put down the yellow on Saturday night after B went to bed and I did the touch ups yesterday. It's not perfect, but it's certainly better than the brown that it was and my couch is back where it belongs. The carpet comes in on Monday and I can't wait. I'm already looking forward to being able to comfortably sit on the floor.

To celebrate the end of painting (for now, at least, until I decide to tackle the living and dining room), I played Wii "Just Dance" and made a fool of myself. But that is a story for another day...