Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The Wall
I've hit it.

The job market, house hunting, child-rearing, laundry, family matters, gas prices. Trying to live a life when it is in upheaval has ceased being amusing. It is downright exhausting. The thought of challenging myself to do something new is daunting.

I'm officially out of witty things to say in emails to people who may or may not have employment to offer. I'm tired of reaching out, feeling hopeful one minute, dashed the next. Sick of looking at my inbox and seeing zero new messages.

My to-do list keeps growing and I just look at it, marveling at its ability to self-perpetuate. Wondering when I'll find the time to take those books back to the library, wondering how much longer that bag of clothing for goodwill can sit in that corner. Long enough for the clothes to come back in style? Probably.

I feel bad complaining when I have so much support, so many people rooting for me, so little reason to worry. But here I am, complaining anyway.

People say to me "dont' worry, you have your health and your family? Then you have everything." To them I say, I know but...

People say "it could be worse." To them I say, shut up.

Monday, July 28, 2008
Almost August Already
For a few years now we've spent a week every August in the majestic bucolic unflat Pocono Mountains. It is hard to believe that our family vacation in the woods nearly upon us. Can it already be a year since Harry ran through the crowd at the county fair yelling "The pig races are starting!" 12 months since I made my family climb every step in the monument in Highpoint State Park?

This year I have a lot of relaxing planned. The past few months have been stressful and it'll be nice to do a few day trips, followed by swimming in the afternoons. Then more toasted marshmallows because my hips can accomodate way more than the 59 I ate this past weekend. Lots of ice cold beer, white wine sangria, maybe a fishing trip? There is also the community "talent" show, arts and crafts, and a hayride. Basically, enough wholesome country family fun to send us running back to the arms of New York City.

More meetings this week for prospective jobs...more resume editing, more emailing, more auditioning. More more more. Then the packing. Oy, the packing.

Friday, July 25, 2008
I've been waiting all week for my matchmaker to tell me that 'oy, they're meshugganah ovah you, dahling!' but when I hadn't heard I called and emailed them to find out what is going on in the Land of Finding Me a Job.

Its a no-go, or so one of the minions told me. Matchmaker will call to discuss the details next week. Why? There are no details to rehash, right? I mean, there are no forms for me to fill out for withholding since I will not earn a salary, no beneficiaries to appoint, no deciding on how to divvy up my 401k contributions, no dental insurance decisions to be made.

About the only thing I want to hear is that they had a very difficult time making this decision and they ended up going with the other person because s/he was willing to work for free.

As for plan B, I had an epiphany to seek employment in the suburbs we'd one day like to live in. It makes perfect sense! Work close to home! Hardly any commute!

I told myself as I was logging into the job search site I use that I am one smart cookie....heh, heh, heh. Working so close to my future home is one of my finest, if not the most obvious solutions to this dilemma of unemployment.

Oh, the dilemma could be solved very easily, if only I had a CDL to be a to be a school bus driver, degree in education to be a physics professor, or knew the ins and outs of marketing lentils (I'm not even kidding on that last one.)

Then there's Plan C, which is (drum roll please): get a job at a university which will allow me to take classes to become something new. Yeah! Now you're thinking. And, what praytell, would madam like to reinvent herself as?

Good question.

Dietitian? Oh, yes. That's a good job. I'd get to talk about food all day and tell people what to eat! Hmm...nearest university to future home is 50 miles away. Nursing? English? Start my own business? Sales? Lentil grower?

Going to take some aspirin now. Will follow with lots of wine, campfires, hiking and swimming over the weekend.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Ages and Stages
In May 2007, Sophie made me a cute craft at girl scouts. It is nothing more than half of a dessert sized paper plate colored in a nice mosaic of Crayola. There's a little curling ribbon centered at the bottom and "Happy Mother's Day from Your Biggest Fan is written in the middle. Cute little plastic craft butterflies are also glued to the fan because it just isn't a Daisy Troop craft unless something is glued to it.

I love this little craft and my only problem with it is that the glue holding the butterflies sometimes stops working and occasionally I find them on the kitchen floor.

One of the butterflies is black. It was the latest victim of glue failure a few weeks back and so I put it on the microwave cart, where all the stuff that needs attending lands. Popped off buttons, toys requiring new batteries, receipts that need holding on to somehow or other land there.

A few days after the black butterfly fell off the fan, we were rushing out somewhere with the kids. I can't remember where but trust me that it was the usual yelling at each other to let's just hurry up already, I went to finish the last of my water, which was in a glass on a table in the living room.

I tilted the glass back to guzzle the rest of it when I very suddenly saw something resembling a bug in the water.

Momentum being what it is, the bug made it's way into my mouth where I promptly spit the water out all over the living room floor.

You know that move in the Three Stooges when one of the stooges repeatedly slaps his forehead again and again? I did exactly that, but on my tongue, while also making spitting/gagging/blech-ing sounds and trying desperately to hold my shit together.

Then I saw it. A black plastic butterfly lying in the water I'd spit onto the floor. "Who put the black butterfly in mommy's water?" I demanded.

"I did!" said Harry. "Did you like it?"

Everyone had a good chuckle over that one. Ha Ha Ha! Harry made mommy think she almost swallowed a bug. What a corker!
I tell you this for my benefit more than yours. I need to be reminded of a time when Harry was merely mischievous because these past few days Harry has shall we put this? Difficult? That's putting it mildly.

Yesterday Harry started and ended the day in time outs. He's been hitting his sister, biting, pinching, pushing, tackling. Talking back. In short he's really testing his boundaries. And the patience of everyone in a five block radius.

He is most deft at getting his big sister to engage in warfare over the most trivial matters. Like whether we're eating pasta or macaroni. Is it raining or merely cloudy? Am I sure that Harry is drinking out of HIS Wall-E cup even though both cups are identical? Let's rumble over it, shall we?

I know it's not his fault. He's three and this is what three year olds do. But good lord this phase-and bickering-is killing me.

Today though is a new day! We woke up and greeted the day with new-found optimism that it is going to be a great one. A little rainy but still a new dawn. We're going to do something fun for dinner tonight since Dad has something to do after work...hooray for mom! We're going to go to the library and get more books and movies. Hooray for books! Yay for movies! Perhaps there will be ice cream? Hoo-freaking-ray for ice cream!

At 7:30 this morning I saw Harry take a swing at his sister, the fighting began and into the naughty corner he went. This is a most difficult age.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008
This and that: what I've been up to lately
This is my new crush even though I still love this guy.

This guy gets better all the time. Train wreck TV does double duty as a guilty pleasure.


Wanting this and this and especially this. (A job to pay for it all would be nice, too!).

Looking forward to watching this and eagerly anticipating the second season of this.

That's all folks.

Friday, July 18, 2008
Magic Potion
We have this multi-purpose potion in our house. You can buy it at any drug store. Seriously, it is very versatile. It can help rashes from poison ivy AND make three year old boys cry. Don't believe me? Come to my house the next time Harry gets a mosquito bite. When I put the magic potion on the affected area it will instantly make the bite better AND make him dissolve into a puddle of tears. Voila! Instant melt down.

But that's not all. If I can keep him still long enough to get the magic potion to dry on the bite he will continue to cry and when I reassure him that "it will be ok....just leave it alone already!" he responds "My arm is killing me!" Instant drama.

At $4.39 a bottle, it is a bargain. Instant melt downs in your own home without those pesky leaving-the-toy-store-empty handed trips!

Thursday, July 17, 2008
OK or Too Soon?
One of the things I sent with Sophie on her trip to her Grammy's was a list of addresses and set of postcard stamps. The intent was for her to send postcards to friends and family, including me. Maybe she was too busy or maybe she forgot but the only people getting postcards are our babysitter and Sophie's teacher.

I did get daily phone calls and two emails. Sometimes the phone calls were heartbreaking, like the last night's call. "I'm (snort) going (sob) miss (sob sob) the kids (whine) I (sniff) made friends with (snuffle)." Other times they were happy and lively, like when I asked her how her bike rides in the morning were going. ("Excellent!" in case you were wondering.)

But I loved the emails. I'm sure she dictated the text to an able typist (my mother in law and husband) but how could I not love "dear mom, it is so hot here i miss you. Love SOPHIA"?

It got me wondering if at the age of seven (and a half!) is Sophie is too young for her own email account to keep in touch with relatives and friends that have moved away? She is getting better at the computer. Her class has a blog. She would live in Webkinz World or Bella Sara or at if we let her and she's all about getting her friends ID's to send them Webkinz messages.
(And, mom, you can put that phone down right now because it will of course be monitored by us and have all sorts of parental controls, spam guards, etc.)

Too young? Or OK? Better to encourage her to write in long hand and rely on snail mail or acquaint herself with the world of digital communication?


Monday, July 14, 2008
John is spending time with his parents in Texas before flying home with Sophie so it was just Harry and I this weekend. Sophie has called several times a day to stay connected and alleviate homesickness.

During last night's phone call she let me know that they'd eaten at Sonic. If you want to kill yourself witht fast food, Sonic's the way you want to go. You just drive up, order and eat in your car (unless you are in Oklahoma City, where there is a sit-down Sonic). Sophie was all "We ate at Sonic! It was good. But I miss you!" and I was all "Dude, there isn't a Sonic within 200 miles of our house....suck it up already!"

Spending a weekend solo with a three year old is fun. And exhausting. But mostly fun. Especially in a camper where there are beds to ask him to stop jumping on, marshmallows to toast, pools to swim in and a playground in which to play. Not to mention the sandbox and a swingset next door at thegrandparents.

There were clouds on Sunday morning so there could be no swimming or trips to the playground. Well I could have, but you know how it is. Pack it all up and it will surely rain the minute to step into the pool. So, I packed the three year old up and headed home. We saw WALL-E. Three quarters of the way throughthe film, he asked "please can we go home now?"

So home we went where we donned swimsuits and headed to the local pool for a swim. I swore we would only stay in the kiddie pool so I could SIT but three year old boys always have a different agenda and it is usually the polar opposite of their mother's. Into the big pool we went where the legs, knees and feet of my three year old made repeated contact with my abdomen and thighs via kicking.

Then he yawned.

Did you know it is much easier to cajole a three year old out of the pool whenhe is tired, cold and hungry? Usually, three year olds cry and refuse to leave any place that features aquatic recreation. But tired, cold and hungry? Piece of cake.

Next was the insistance of having a steak dinner. Steak. What three year old doyou know refuses McDonald's, pizza, macaroni and cheese and enormous bowls of ice cream with candy toppings in order to have a steak? We walked around the corner to our local cafe where I ordered the hanger steak sandwich without the onions. Or cheese. Or bread. I noticed Harry falling asleep at the dinner table and when I woke him he asked "PLEASE CAN I GO TO BED NOW?" As if he couldn't stand to be entertained for one more minute. He was asleep before I even closed the door to his room.

Monday, July 7, 2008
Monday Mornings Weren't Meant for Conversations Like This
"Hello mom? Hi. When Dad flies down to pick me up this week can you ask him to bring my mix stick? I left it in the car."

"No, I put it in your backpack."

"No, I left it in the car when we got to the hotel. In Virginia. I forgot it."

"No, no you didn't. I saw it when we were getting you settled into Grammy's car. I put it in your backpack."

"But I was LISTENING to it and left in OUR car."

"No, I saw it when I was getting your stuff together when you were leaving with Grammy. I put it in the front pocket of your backpack."

"But then I took it out."

"OK, can I just explain? I'm walking into work. I'm late as it is. Your mix stick is in your backpack. I know you were listening to it and left it on the seat but before I said goodbye to you I put it in your back. Pack. BACKPACK."

"Well, it's not in there."

"Yes it is."

"No, it isn't. I left it in the car. OUR car."

"Did you look? Really look? Maybe it's under your Nintendo DS. Or the six books. Or your journal. Or your summer homework packet. Or your Webkinz. Or your Calico Critters. Or the portable DVD player."

"Nope, not there."

"Do you understand now why you have a mixstick and not a video ipod?"



"Grammy wants to talk to you."


More on Monticello:
While visiting Thomas Jefferson's house on Friday we learned that George W. Bush addressed the crowD in person at the naturalization ceremony. (We originally thought someone would recite a letter he'd written.)

All the tour guides at the house told us how "wonderful" his speech was, how well it went, how exciting it was to have him visit.
Funny, no one mentioned the heckling. Or the "Fuck You!" that was yelled. Or how he was blamed for bringing fascism to this country. Or the protesters calling for his impeachment and/or arrest.

Oh, why am I telling you. See for yourself!
I'm truly, truly sorry I missed it.

Sunday, July 6, 2008
Road Trip
We missed (Still) President Bush addressing the new citizens of this country on July 4th at Monticello but were able to tour the house and grounds after lunch. Usually, you get a tour guide to escort you from room to room but because it was a holiday, they changed the format and allowed you to walk freely around the house as you wished. In each room was a guide who talked about the significance and features of each room.

In the classroom, the guide was speaking of Thomas Jefferson's daughter and her children and how the room was used to school them. She spoke in the present tense and Sophie, who was listening with rapt attention asked "Are they still alive?" The guide gave a little chuckle and said "No, dear. They are most certainly not alive." I really wanted to tell her that if she was going to speak of the dead in the present tense to a girl who soaks up information like a sponge, do not act haughty when she asks if they are still living. She is proof that people are paying attention to you!

Photography is not permitted inside the house and so we only have exterior pictures to share. Here's the "nickel" side of the house:
Here's a picture of the garden and fields beyond:
The garden is maintained as a "library" of seeds originally cultivated and grown by Thomas Jefferson. The remainder of fruits and vegetables grown in the garden is donated to local food shelters and soup kitchens.

Once Sophie departed with her grandparents, we visited the family gravesite of Thomas Jefferson, then the University of Virginia and finally historic downtown Charlottesville.

Here's Harry on a sofa mosaic in the mall of historic downtown:

And here's Harry loving the big comfy bed at the hotel, after letting him swim until 9:30pm and letting him burn off the rest of his energy running the entire length of the hotel hallway:
The next morning I let him jump all over the beds as much as he wanted. I was hoping it would help tire him out for the long drive ahead of us on the the Skyline Drive.

We drove the northern half of it, all 105 miles. Here's the view from one of the first overlooks we stopped at:Here's another. Notice those clouds in the distance?

Further along drove right through those clouds. Here's how foggy it gets.
The fog starts very suddenly. One minute it is sunny and you are wearing sunglasses and turning up the air conditioning in the car. The next you are fumbling to turn on your highbeams like the cars in the picture below.

Then it's sunny all over again.

Then suddenly very, very foggy:

We're back now and Sophie is having a great time. She met some of her cousins and had fun at the family reunion/picnic. I can tell she misses her brother because every time she's called (4 times as of writing this post), she has asked to speak to her little brother about a minute into the phone call. Harry is loving his temporary only-child status and told his Uncle Will-who met up with us in Monticello-"I don't have a sister anymore!"

Thursday, July 3, 2008
Happy Birthday, America
This weekend we are meeting up with my in-laws in Monticello where we will participate in the Independence Day Celebration and Naturalization Ceremony featuring remarks by (Still) President George W. Bush. We think this means he writes a letter for someone to read at the ceremony, which won't be half as amusing as watching him stumble over his words in person. If there are any soon-to-be citizens reading this, all I can say is "Welcome to democracy! The best part is voting for your leader. And sometimes that's also the worst part but only a few more months left with this one!"

As John, Harry and I drive back to NY Saturday, Sophie will depart with her Grammy and Granddad to attend a family reunion before driving home to Texas with them. This is her first extended absence from me us. I'm a bit anxious but I know this will be a good experience for her and my in-laws. Lots of time spent together, traveling the open road, etc. My inlaws are planning on taking her to some caverns and when I told Sophie this she said "Caverns? I don't want to go there!" in that please-don't-make-me-go voice.

I started to talk it up and convince her that it'd be fun! An adventure! A learning experience! Then I shut my mouth because HA! I don't need to argue with her over this since I'm not the one taking her. Yes, this trip is going to be great even if I miss my daughter already.

If time allows on the way home, I'd like to take the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah National Park. It's s'posed to be real purty. I'm having a bit of a love affair with the National Parks of late. It started when John and I realized that traveling with the kids was getting easier and that we'd like to take a real vacation somewhere soon that doesn't involve setting up camp at a relative's home because it is free or a place centered around characters from certain movies. When John talked about seeing the National Parks as a young'n, I was hooked. I really hope we can fit this in.

John will leave next week to fly Sophie home and while he's gone I will get to spend a lot of quality time with Harry. To say I'm looking forward to it is an understatement. Harry prefers his Dad to almost everyone else, except maybe Speed Racer or any of the engines which comprise the Sodor Railway. I can't wait to not split my time between kids or worry if my affection, attention or hugs are being recorded against me.

Last night I explained to Harry the complex travel arrangements we've made and ended it with "So you and I will have some time to spend together! Isn't that great?"

He just looked at me and said "I think you should fly and I should stay here with Dad." Thanks, kid.

Anyway, Happy Birthday America. You don't look a day over 203, which was the last time we had a gas crisis.

Have a great 4th everyone!