Category: Friends

she’s waiting

she’s waiting

…because her mama trained her properly, that’s why.

no, she’s not waiting in that way. or at least, not what you folks might think. this is a pet peeve of mine, and on this last day of NaBloPoMo, i thought i would end on a cranky note. (cos that is what folks expect of me.)

i am a carpool queen. i shuttle kids here, i shuttle them there, mama wreke shuttles kids everywhere. as a stay-at-home mom, i tend to take on rides in the early afternoon, when a lot of my kids’ friends’ parents are still working or quite possibly sitting in traffic somewhere, cooling their heels.

i don’t mind it, really. i get some of my best material listening to the kids talk.  i’ve learned more about which boys are awful, which girls are snooty, which kids are kind, and which people should just be avoided at all costs. i’ve listened to silly-ass knock-knock jokes, i’ve listened to retellings of some pretty nasty pop music lyrics. sure, i make the kids listen to whatever is on my mp3 player, though anything with NSFW lyrics gets the fast-forward treatment. i don’t care whether my kids hear these things, but i suspect the rest of the world would be upset if johnny or janie listened to some of the finer verbage from panic at the disco. like, say, this:

anyway, my kids are trained from the get-go: when someone is picking you up, you wait at the appointed time by the window and watch for your ride. when they come, you shout out and let me know, and then you proceed directly to the car. people are kind enough to give you a ride, and you need to be kind and not make everyone else late by dallying.

apparently, though, this concept is not common knowledge. i can’t tell you how many times my kids and i have to come to people’s doors and knock and collect them. worse than that, though, are the times when the person isn’t ready, and when i mean not ready, i don’t mean that someone had to suddenly hit the loo before leaving. i get that, and i’m actually okay with that. but i have had situations where the person had to finish homework, finish texting someone, or finish talking to someone on the phone. and, in all of these cases, the people weren’t immediately trying to wrap things up, either; they were taking all the time in the world.


i get that stuff happens, and so when it does, i don’t get annoyed or upset. but i have noticed as of late that there are recurrences of these sorts of events with the same folks. it really burns me up. am i supposed to be teaching the kids that they need to stop what they’re doing and get in the car if they have any intention of getting to point B? then, of course, i will get the rep as the mean-ass mom who scares all her kids’ friends.

then again, maybe that’s not such a bad thing…

the godfather

the godfather

she gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse…

when our kids were born, we never assigned godparents. see, i never grew up with godparents, so it never occurred to me to select anyone in particular to be godparents to our kids. besides, i thought hopefully, all my brothers, brothers-in-law, and sisters-in-law will hopefully take some liking to our kids and that’s pretty cool, right? (lord knows i am extremely crazy about my nieces and nephews.) not only that, but as i have no biological sisters, i have some friends who my kids have called aunt so-and-so and who have always been very kind and generous to them, treating them as their own and even looking after them at critical junctures.

when BC was young, my friend M2k (or aunt M2k, to be specific) fell head-over-heels for my girl. somehow, M2K got the whole girly-glitter-pink thing that i never did (probably due to the whole i grew up with brothers thing.) over the years, M2k has gotten BC all sorts of wild and crazy stuff from her travels; she has visited the girl whenever she’s in town; she even watched the girl while i was in labor with jools. and BC is just as crazy about M2k, for mary loves the lamb you know. one day, little BC announced: mommy, aunt M2k is my fairy godmother.

i loved the image of M2k floating around with wings and a wand. it suits her generous and loving self so completely.

anyway, we were talking about M2k the other day, as the girl is excited for the day when M2k becomes a mommy herself. and  somehow, our conversation turned us  to thoughts of a mutual friend of M2k’s and mine, David. David doesn’t get over here too often; he lives a continent away.  But when he visits, he always has paddington bears for everyone, or GOOD chocolate bars that you can’t get here, or even foreign coins for the boy’s collection.  he is big-hearted and a dear softie and someone with whom i wish i could spend more time in real life.

David, you should know, also happens to be gay. it’s not something that has ever mattered to me, the girl, or anyone in my house for that matter.  it certainly became clear the first time he and i ever went shopping together — Best. Shopping. Buddy. Ever. (outside of my mom.) but in general, he isn’t my gay friend. he is my friend who happens to be gay.  he never said anything to the girl about this, as it really isn’t something that came into the conversation.  (his kilt, of course, is another story. the girl was FASCINATED by the kilt he has.) but the girl knows, and the girl doesn’t really care.

why am i spending so much time belaboring this point?

the other day, BC and i were talking about music. somehow, we got on the topic of a singer named Adele who has a gorgeous voice. i mentioned that David had met her once, and she was wildly impressed. we ended up talking about how David was doing, and then she lo0ked at me and, with a straight face, said: mom, if Aunt M2k can be my fairy godmother, can David be my fairy godfather?

at first, i had to stifle a chuckle. the girl clearly had no idea of the weird double entendre she had made. then, i had to resist the urge to slap myself for even thinking such a thing. wow, things get awfully ingrained in your head. did you really say that? i asked the girl, thinking she was being extra cheeky.

you don’t think he’d want to be? she asked, straight-faced.

i got over myself quickly and realized that just because that stupid idea flashed through my brain, i didn’t need to flash it through hers and continue down the path.

you can ask him, i replied. i bet he’d be delighted.

i told the story to David later. bless his heart, he didn’t seem offended by my tale. in fact, i hope he wasn’t drinking anything when he read my message, as i can picture the beverage spit all over his keyboard. (and wot a waste of wine that would likely be.)

true to form, he said he’d be delighted. you know, how could he possibly refuse?



oh, electricity. i am your bitch.

our part of the world is not known for dealing well with any sort of precipitation. people line the supermarkets, clamoring for bread, milk, and toilet paper whenever the weather reports hint of any impending white stuff. couple that with a hard, wet snow, very old trees in serious need of help, inadequate snow plowing on side-streets, and lots of above-ground lines, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

there we were, sitting around, basking in the joy of a potential snow day on wednesday night. the kids had all gotten out of school early due to the impending storm. the boy was extra-happy because he got out of a gymnastics class. the girl was in ecstasy because her religious school was cancelled.  i was thrilled because i had cooked not one, but TWO different dinners, which would allow me to spend less time cooking and more time lazing around or playing. we had just finished a game of monopoly cards (during which i had one two out of three games), when suddenly, the fireworks.


we looked out the window to see a transformer blowing up on the main road and spewing all sorts of little fireworks in the sky. then, a minute later, another one blew similarly. then, another.  whoomp, there it went: our power was done for.

fortunately. BS is the sort of guy who likes to be prepared. we had all sorts of flashlights, a crank radio, and a good attitude… for a time, anyway. we brought the kids’ sleeping bags into our room, and we all prepared to camp down together in the chilly evening. unfortunately, the ancient trees on my street were sagging scarily underneath the weight of the snow. huge branches were snapping. the kids were terrified that a tree would fall and take us down with it. the boy calmed down relatively easily, as i started to sing songs in the dark much like the songs i sang to the kids when they were infants.  he fell asleep, his head in my lap. the girl, however, was not as easily swayed; she, like me, was up for a large part of the night.

oh nervous night.

the next day, we hoped for the best. BS put food into iced coolers and dug out the sidewalk.  i dug out the mom-mobile with some help from my neighbor across the street, who simply stopped work on his driveway and just started in. (i am blessed to have some truly wonderful neighbors. i am baking something as a little thank you.) BS dug out the prius. the kids sleighed for a time before my other neighbor found a dangerous spot and stopped all the cul-de-sac kids from sledding. the entire street lost power, and the entire street lost phone service. my cell was dying away, and no recharging in my car was really cutting it for some reason. and dominion power was continually telling us that nearly 200,000 people were without power and that they could not yet give us a time estimate for repair.

and the house got colder and colder.

so BS realized he needed to think about plan B. unfortunately, foraging for potential hotel rooms required his computer. i suggested he hit up our beloved local library branch, where i suspected he could plug in for awhile and use some of their free wifi. so off he went to the library. upon his return, he shared two things: 1) most of the hotels were looking for upwards of $200 for one night, and 2) people around here are seriously obnoxious. apparently, some of our fair residents decided that the library was their home away from home to charge all their items. one enterprising person and her friend/family member brought a surge protector and proceeded to plug everything from phones to ipods into it, while taking over the other plug for one additional item. ultimately, BS found a spot in a hallway to plug in his little pc.

upon his return, the lights went on in the homes behind us. we felt hopeful and decided that we’d go out to dinner and then, upon our return, decide whether to hit up a hotel or stay home.  after a yummy, caloric dinner, we returned home to discover that the power remained out.  BC had been invited to a friend’s for a sleepover, so we brought her there and then the three of us set off to find a hotel. our path was blocked by a police blockade, so we meandered our way over to said hotel. only, too bad for us — no room at the inn. by this time, the boy was falling asleep in the car, so we figured we would hunker down again at home. we put the boy into his sleeping bag, covered him up, and then we, too, tried to fall asleep in a r e a l l y cold house under about a million blankets.

i was afraid to fall asleep because i knew that the minute i finally fell asleep, the power would go on, the lights would pop on, and all sorts of things would scare the bejeebers out of me. i fought sleep for awhile, but eventually, i succumbed to a fitful rest (which included a bizarre dream about my marrying owen wilson, who seems like a nice, sensitive guy but who isn’t really my type) until at 5am, the giant light over our bed went on, along with every other electrical thingy in the house. yeah, it scared me. but it also delighted me.

and now today, we take all the items the husband saved out of the cooler. ( he really loves me; he, who loathes coffee,  saved my vanilla creamer along with the milk.) we buy some more stuff. and we start over.

and i start to think about how, in some small way, it was awfully nice to have the family unplugged. if only for 34 hours, anyway.

welcome to the jungle

welcome to the jungle

dear playdate/person who’ll be here for the next two hours which will seem like an eternity,

evidentally, you never received my first letter to a playdate.  if you had, you’d know about my expectations and rules for having a safe, fun, and happy time in my home. if you can, review those rules. but if not, i will be glad to share a few quick pointers here.

please put down that giant branch. while i’ve been known to wing it when it comes to attempting minor medical treatments, i’m not really confident about my abilities in the area of emergency DIY eye surgery.

bless you for taking your shoes off before coming in. you didn’t listen to me as i shrieked about not going in our neighbor’s yard; you ran through it, anyway. besides the fact that good neighbors tend to not run through each other’s yards, i should point out that that particular neighbor’s lawn is a veritable minefield, as it appears he permits his dog to poop all over his lawn (as well as other lawns from time to time.) therefore, who knows what dreams may come/what delights may attach themselves to the bottom of your shoes. and i would prefer to not have such substances on my hall floor.

why certainly you can have a snack… oh, you don’t like peanut butter cookies? how about…oh, you don’t like freshly-baked butterscotch oatmeal cookies either? how about cheesey crackers? no? hmmm… no, we’re not having chocolate now… no, i just baked that cake for after dinner. if you would like to join us for dinner, you may have some afterwards… oh, you don’t like what i’m making for dinner? here, take this phone number. call it. see whether mcdonalds delivers to seven year olds.

great — you’ll eat graham crackers. i’m surprised you ate half of the box on your own, but i guess you are one hungry fellow. please don’t play your kill the graham crackers game in my house. you may have nannies who willingly clean up all the crushed crumbs that trail in your wake, but around here, i am the nanny. no one pays me to clean up after you.

is it really necessary to invoke a holy war over whether pokemon or bakugan is superior? both consist of cheap, plastic crap from china and cards, all promoted by half-hour-long commercials posing as cartoon shows. and the whole point of either? machines of some ilk basically fight each other.  if you really want to see some serious fighting, you ought to hit up someone’s house around holiday time. now there’s some really awesome battles. watch two siblings fighting over some long-forgotten feud. take a ringside seat while uncle joe and auntie mo talk about fidelity issues. maybe you could give extra points for people who are artificially medicated or take away points from people with certain baggage.

then again, you don’t get to a lot of these topics until later on in family life education, so just take my word for it — if i see plastic and cards flying around in a tantrum, you will really see some excitement around here.

no, the pinball machine still hasn’t been fixed. yes, i know — it wasn’t fixed when you were here before the holidays, either. no, i don’t know when i am getting it fixed. how are you at fixing pinball machines?

my son is banned from the wii for the next week. since you asked, he was banned because he continued to not listen when he was completely sucked into the game. it won’t be forever. you know, we have all sorts of board games. and he did want to go play outside, which you refused. so sorry if my house is the vortex of boredom.

how nice of you to mention that your neighbor will be home from his vacation on saturday and that you’d rather be playing with him. i know it makes my son sad to hear that; clearly, you haven’t yet developed the empathy gene to make you think how it would feel to be the recipient of such news. but i will be glad to see you happy with your neighbor friend.

for you see, there is another playmate in the wings who follows about 85% of my aforementioned rules.  i’m thinking 85% is a damn good number.

have a nice day,


pet peeve: people who don’t clean up after Fido

pet peeve: people who don’t clean up after Fido

while you’re curbing your enthusiasm, please also curb your dog.

although i am a cat person, i do, in fact, enjoy spending time with dogs as well. unfortunately, due to my allergy status (read: i am allergic to dander, dust, trees, flowers, mold, feta cheese, and, well, i’m lying about the feta cheese. i just think it smells awful, kind of like barf.) i am unable to have a cat or a dog as a pet. this means that i get to enjoy being a pet-parent vicariously, thanks to the many dogs in my neighborhood. (and hey- here’s a shoutout to our faves: Henry, George, Razz, Dexter, Samson, Bailey, and of course, jools’ favorite dog on the planet whom he’d probably marry if it were allowed, Beatrix (AKA Bebe) the pitbull. ) we love our neighborhood dogs, who prowl down our street, leashed and with owners attached, carrying the ubiquitous plastic baggy for the dog doo.

unfortunately, there are clearly others walking other dogs on my street and in my neighborhood who seem to think that the world is their dog’s toilet. there are days when i seriously contemplate putting up a fence in my yard, if only to keep dogs from pooping on my lawn. BC thinks she knows who is responsible for the poop, but if you don’t see it happening live, up close, and (yecch) personal, then you really can’t go pointing fingers at people.

i know some people just let their pup run freely in their own backyard and sometimes just let nature take it’s course. i still remember my friend jen’s beloved cocker spaniel lollipop. lollipop was a very pretty, friendly dog who often left presents around the yard. still, it was in her yard mostly and not mine, so i was always careful not to step in any landmines while playing. i remember one time my mom reading lolli the riot act, as the dog had somehow crossed the street and had decided to relieve herself in our yard, something which didn’t go over well with my mom. of course, my mom talked to dogs like she talked to people: lolli, go HOME! she firmly told the dog. lolli just stood there with her puddle brown eyes, probably wondering whether my mom was going to come over and pet her or feed her or SOMETHING.  but that was one of the few times i ever remembered dear lolli, may she rest in peace, doing something like that in my yard. she mostly kept things local, if you know what i mean.

in short: if you own a dog, you sign up for a lot of things. one very major one is picking up what comes out of Fido’s backside (unless you want his poop to return to the earth in your own yard. that’s clearly your right.)  if you can’t do it, hire someone else — or better yet, get Fido into a home that really is committed to him and his world.

and please: stay the hell out of my yard.

pet peeve: kids who call adults by their first names

pet peeve: kids who call adults by their first names

you can thank my mom for this one. well, mom and my old friend jen.

awhile back, my beloved pal jen pointed out how bent she gets when she hears kids calling adults by their first name. she will actually correct friends of her children if they call her by her first name. it’s a respect thing, and she feels that it is part of what feeds into the whole entitlement society that we’ve somehow grown.

i couldn’t agree more.

i don’t know whether it’s a southern thing or just something that happens now, but my kids call people they know well, like our neighbors, for example, mr. joe or ms. laurie. adults they don’t know well are mr. smith and ms. jones. authority figures end up here as well — their teachers are obviously known by their last names.  and for my very close friends, like the aforementioned jen — well, she’s aunt jen to my kids. i truly don’t appreciate it when other people’s kids call me by my first name; historically, i have let it slide because my name is complicated to begin with (i kept my name when i married, so kids get confused and call me mrs. mykidslastname, which i also let go. i even prefer that to just my first name.)

when i was growing up, i think my mom would have bodyslammed me if i had had the temerity to call any adult by his or her first name. to this very day i call jen’s mom mrs. lastname for fear that she might wash my mouth out with soap. (you see, jen’s mom and my mom apparently went to the same mom school. this we’ve known for over 40 years now.) another one of my old friends’ moms told me to call her by her first name. i have known this woman now also for about 40 years, and i must say it doesn’t fall trippingly off my tongue. but as she wants me to call her by her first name, i will try my best.

yes, old habits die hard — which is why i hope i’m getting my kids into really good habits now so that they’ll remember them always.

pet peeve: people who aren’t thankful on thanksgiving

pet peeve: people who aren’t thankful on thanksgiving

no, really. thank you.

sure, i picked the leitmotif of pet peeves this month. but that doesn’t conceal the fact that i am very, very grateful for a lot of things. i could list them for days and years. i’ll just list a few off the top of my pointed head.

1) thank you, BC: for being an awesome daughter who somehow gets me in a way that no one else does. you forgive me when i probably deserve a tween shriek thrown at me. you are one of the two greatest gifts i have ever been given, and i never forget that.

2) thank you, jools: for being an incredible son who picks and chooses the strangest moments to change from a delightful little boy into a wizened old man and provide me with a perspective that i sorely need to hear and grasp. you are one of the two greatest gifts i have ever been given, and i don’t ever forget that.

3) thank you, BS: my eternal partner in crime, the statler to my waldorf. you put up with me no matter what. you like me in spite of me being me. you make me laugh. you are always my personal bulldog. and you’ve got the most beautiful eyes i have ever seen. i am so lucky that mark wintle dumped a beer on you and therefore brought you into my life for keeps.

4) thank you mom and dad and aunt barbara: you have always been in my corner, and you have taught me the power of unconditional love. i’ll never be able to tell you fully how much you mean to me, but somehow you always know what i mean when words fail me.

5) thank you to my brothers, who never treated me like a girl but who always treated me as someone who needed to learn to be as tough as nails. i learned so much from both of you; and while i know i continue to get on your nerves in a huge way, i do it because i love you. (you’re welcome.)

6) thanks to my mother-in-law, my dearly-missed father-in-law, and all my husband’s family for treating me like one of your own. i know i’m a little bit odd in comparison to you all, but you’ve always welcomed me with open arms from the word go.

7) thank you to my friends, who seem to like me still. i treasure you.

8 )  thank you to america for taking my great grandparents in. my family has always been fiercely proud of our nation.

9) thank you to the Beatles for making the best music ever.

and last for today, but not least:

10) thank you, gutenberg, for inventing the printing press. for i do so love to read.

happy thanksgiving, everyone!

guilty pleasure monday: three little birds (bob marley and the wailers)

guilty pleasure monday: three little birds (bob marley and the wailers)

when the going gets tough in this house, the tough get bob marley.

my go-to guy when i start to get a little loco en la cabeza is none other than rastaman himself, bob marley. his music has always hit me in a place that nearly always soothes me into nirvana (or a reasonable facsimile thereof.) and three little birds to me is just like my own personal prayer to the universe. yes, i was delusional enough to believe that i didn’t need meds when i was going into labor with BC; all i needed was my boombox loaded with legend and i was all set.  (and yes; i really did try that. got special permission from the hospital to bring in a boombox and everything. only too bad for me, it turned out that i really, really, r e a l l y needed those meds. trust me, even bob himself showing up from the dead in my delivery room with a giant spliff in his hand would not have done anything except give me another man to yell at.) still, my kids are aware (or at least, BC is aware) that when i’m really stressed, i often turn this song on. it’s like a simple mantra on a never-ending loop. and for me, labor notwithstanding, it works.

i’ve been humming the damn song in my head for the past two weeks straight.

the week prior, BC took the train with her uncle middlebro to visit my parents. she wanted some time without me and without jools. sadly, not only was their train car without air conditioning on the 103F day (hey, thanks a lot, AMTRAK!), but my parents’ AC also died once she got there. long story short, i ended up driving with The Boy up to grandma’s house, where we proceeded to live like nomads for three days until PSE&G could come and fix their air.  we had fun staying at uncle middlebro’s house and at hotels; but to put it very kindly,  it was not the visit anyone had expected.

we then returned to our home, already a work in progress. we are in the last week or two of the renovation process. except for the day when i returned home to find a giant hole drilled through my concrete basement floor (and props to my good friend richard, who came over that day to borrow our laundry machines only to discover — at the same time i did — that people were busy unearthing jimmy hoffa all around the washer and dryer. to his credit, richard didn’t even murder me and still speaks to me, both plusses.), the process has gone relatively smoothly. sure, there are moments when i would have liked a little more lead time to purchase paints and other items, but it has worked out pretty well.

that being said, living in a few prescribed rooms is beginning to get old. the kids are hating camping out in the family room, BC on the couch, jools in a sleeping bag beside her on the floor. (well, in truth, BC and her back are hating it; i suspect jools loves the company every night.) BS is audibly mumbling about moving his office out of our bedroom and back into the tiny room where it belongs and where it has more sustained cable internet access. and me? because the kids are sleeping in the family room, home of the HDTV,  i have stuff from netflix that i’ve been waiting to watch for going on four months now.

but we’re working it. BS and jools were to be off to cub scout CubWorld (6 and 7 year old boys running amuck! camping! BB Guns! clearly BS’s idea of paradise) on friday, leaving BC and me free reign in the house until sunday night.  SQUEE! you would think, right? only we were left in a house that reeked horribly of floor refinishing fumes, leaving me to turn off the AC and open windows so that people could breathe. and oh, thursday night, there was this little matter of a gas smell in the basement, resulting in a call to washington gas to come and check things out. (glad it wasn’t a real urgent emergency; it took them about two hours to get here, by which time we could have been blown to kingdom come and come again.) the wash gas person kindly dealt with the little leak and explained that some of the smell were those lovely toxic floor fumes hitting the furnace and burning up.


so it was going to take some time for the gas smell to dissipate. (no way in hell i was turning on the stove this weekend.) meanwhile, i had then closed up the windows and turned on the air. sadly, the thermostat is currently in the basement, as it has been moved during the renovation. because i’m a little thick on such things, i now know that one must turn it down really low so that the rest of the house has a fighting chance to actually cool down. oops. i didn’t know that; so when BC and her pal were going to have a slumber party friday night, the house was pushing 80F and certifiably tropical. they ended up sleeping at her friend’s house (bless her mom!)

this left me alone FOR THE VERY FIRST TIME IN MY ENTIRE LIFE AS A MOM. (that’s nearly 12 years for those of you counting.) did i dance drunk and naked around the house? of course i didn’t. i was still worried about being blown the fuck-all out of here by the remaining gas in the basement. the house was hotter than a witch’s fart. oh, and the fumes were making me nauseous and giving me a stupendous headache.  so what did i do? i painted a few colors on the walls with my home depot paint tester cans — because what’s a few more fumes, right? — then settled in to watch a 20-20 show about a murder that made me want to go to bed with a baseball bat beside me.  and then, the lightning storm started, reminding me that i had moved everyone’s bike and scooter onto the lawn, getting them wet and making them sitting duck lightning rods.  i ran outside in the pouring rain after midnight, took one look at the thundering light, and thought, crap, i’m not bringing that stuff  in or else i will end up deep-fried.. move along, lightning, move along…

i laid there in bed for literally hours, unsure as to whether i was going to meet my Maker via heat stroke, asphyxiation, electrocution, murder, or simply explosion.

after four solid hours of sleep, i was annoyed to be awakened by the sounds of hammers on my neighbor’s renovation project. they weren’t in the wrong, of course, though i was surprised that they were doing that sort of work before 7 on a saturday morning. but wasn’t their fault i was up all night. but then again, i was also delighted to still be walking amongst the living, so i found my silver lining.

so, the weekend continued, a sleepy flurry of home depot visits, a walk in the mall with BC (who, along with me, got busted at Claires for trying to take a picture of each other wearing obnoxious sunglasses — apparently, it is verboten to do so), and moving things out of the way of the painters…  i was completely strung out and overtired and overstressed. bob marley played feverishly through my brain: my own personal serenity now prayer. and then, as i dropped BC off at her buddy E’s house saturday evening for her second sleepover for the weekend, E’s mom, one of my dear friends, invited me to join them for dinner. her dad put a glass of wine in my hand. i helped my friend bake some chocolate chip cookies for church the next day. in short, i had a lovely evening with her family; it was absolutely what i needed.

in short, i am convinced that bob marley does answer all prayers.

guilty pleasure monday: misty mountain hop (led zeppelin)

guilty pleasure monday: misty mountain hop (led zeppelin)

Why don’t you take a good look at yourself and describe what you see
And baby, baby, baby, do you like it?

today’s guilty pleasure monday brought to you by the letter C for camping.

those of you who know me in real life know i love nature. oh yes, i really, truly do… love to hike in it, love to play in it, love to search in it. and then, at the end of the day, i like returning back to my home or a lodge or a resort of some sort, nicely appointed with electricity, bathrooms within the building, and nature coexisting outside the confines of my indoor world.  i like indoor plumbing, i like restaurants, and i loveloveLOVE showers. (i’m high maintenance like that.)

so it came as a huge surprise to everyone when i agreed to join our girl scout troop as we embarked on a cabin camping trip to misty mount in the beautiful catoctins. after all, the one and only stipulation i had made when i agreed to help my dear friend M as she led our troop was no camping.  i’ll do lots of things with the troop if asked; i’m generally not a shrinking violet. but please dear Dog, no overnights in the great outdoors. at least, not for me.

in short, i am not a happy camper.

i know this, not from experience but from knowing what camping entails. if i don’t like when ants come into my home, i know i won’t enjoy whatever more interesting wildlife decides to say howdy-do while i’m trying to get some shuteye. i like climate control. i like having a bathroom nearby, one i don’t need to put clothes on in order to pee in the middle of the night, should, ehhem, nature call me. yet somehow, i threw the whole to thine own self be true biz to the wind. and i brought jools and BS up into it for good measure because why shouldn’t we all have fun together! after all, it’s not roughing it. it’s cabin camping! (which my more experienced friends said is a cakewalk in comparison to tent camping.) there’s a building with bathroooms and showers, just a short walk from our cabin. and one my friends graciously organized the whole she-bang, and lots of other families were bringing food and knew what to do.

so thanks to target, we had sleeping bags, we had mess kits, and we had liftoff.

BS was being a super-good sport when he went along with us; i offered to leave him home, but i think the idea of me being lost up in the maryland mountains with the kids probably compelled him to refuse my offer. he, like queen victoria, was not amused, but he came along anyway, bless his pointed little head. we arrived in the sunshine, somewhere before 1pm. the folks who had slept over friday night left us a note; they were hiking, but lunch foodstuffs were available and we should help ourselves. very very kind of them! another mom, her daughter, and another scout were there, so the mom took the kids, including BC and jools, on a mini hike while i waited for BS to walk back from the parking lot, where he had to leave our car. when he returned, he and i decided to hike a little hike ourselves.

now the thing about hiking here is that there actually are no paths. you really are walking through woods, over streams, and into mushy things that may end up on your pants when you sink in them (not that i would know about that personally, though my jeans are currently swirling in round two of my mini-wash-a-thon at the moment in the hopes that nature will leave my levis alone.) and when you’re a person who has fractured, then sprained one of her ankles, you tend to remember that perhaps unsure ground is not the place you ought to be walking until after you’ve had the surgery to fix said ankle and then have had a few months of physical therapy. but of course, this all had been realized as BS and i were deep in the woods.

gee, i hope we can actually find our way back, i mused aloud, fiddling in my pockets in search of crumbs i could start throwing onto the ground. just in case.

fortunately, we soon heard the happy chatter of our kids with the other girls and mom, and we knew we were on the right track. and if i only walked ever so carefully, i would make it back up the hill to our campsite without requiring a med-evac transport. which i did. yay me! well, yay, BS, who held his hand out, gentlemanly, at certain pivotal moments. (like the one, for instance, where i didn’t want to jump down this one giant rock onto the lower rocks at the stream. but i digress.) how cool is this camping business, i thought. it’s sunny, it’s fun, and food is involved!

the others returned, and we proceeded to have a fun afternoon. kids played, grownups ate and chatted, and other than BC getting stung twice by a wasp or yellowjacket on her knuckle (her pal H was stung just before she was) and having her middle finger look like it was blown up and ready to fly in the macy’s thanksgiving day parade, it was a lovely time. i brought benadryl, and since the girl had never been stung by anything in her life besides a mosquito and some sharp criticism, i gave some to her, hoping she wouldn’t have a reaction. and hooray hooray, other than a big old blownup finger, she seemed to keep breathing.

then, the deluge.

grownups made some awesome food in spite of the buckets of rain that came down. i am so very, very thankful to the others who brought so much delicious food and who knew how to prepare it out in a camp situation. (i saw my first camp stove, and in short, i was awestruck.)  i had amazing veggie chili made fresh, i made a smore for the first time in a campfire (yes, i make them in my microwave, don’t judge), and the yummy spinach artichoke dip that my pal and co-leader M brought from whole paycheck foods was absolutely delicious! knowing that jools was not a veggie chili eater, BS cleverly brought along a pack or two of hotdogs, which he and the boy roasted beside some baking dump cake (which i totally have to try at home!) the park rangers do, in fact, check on you to make sure you haven’t brought any grownup beverages (which is truly unfortunate.) while it rained, the boy continued to poke at the fire, which probably ensured that it didn’t go out. in fact, i think some of the boy’s and BS’s happiest moments involved poking at fire. which, in hindsight, should probably frighten me a little, though i prefer to think that perhaps they are both frustrated firemen.

yes. that must be it.

anyway, the light rain became heavy rain. we three retired to our cabin; BC slept in a bigger lodgey-cabin with my friend, the organizer, her family, and several other girls. (bless you, my friend.) the minute i sat on my bed, it sagged 3/4 of the way to the floor. a great sign in sleepland, to be sure. i crawled into my new sleeping bag. have sleeping bags gotten smaller, or have i gotten bigger? i remember fitting myself and a friend once in a bag, and now, i barely fit myself comfortably. i tried to stay on my side in an effort to preserve my back. and i tried desperately not to move. every move made a noise, and every noise, i feared, would wake up BS. the light shone in through my window, and i watched it blurry and hazy-eyed (my glasses were resting on a makeshift table of board games we had brought up.) jools, on the other hand, slept like a rock; his sleeping bag was practically off him, and he was just the best. sleeper. ever. would that i had been him.

when i saw BS stir, i knew the morning must have come. i didn’t have a watch (and couldn’t have read it even had i wanted to without my glasses on), but he did. when i don’t sleep, i just get boohooey. but when BS doesn’t sleep? well, let’s just say he’s not his usually, happy-go-lucky self. and waking up meant having to put clothes on to get to the bathroom (which, i will say, was very nice to have, as opposed to say a latrine. but still not psyched to have to put on clothes to get there.) i let him hike to his bathroom in the rain first, and i somehow ended up waking up the boy. it was 6:00somethingish in the morning. after he returned and i trudged to the ladies room, we did what any normal family would do: we broke open our two packs of donuts and started to inhale them. powdered donuts! jools exclaimed, mouth stuffed to the brim. mpfmpfmpfmpfmppfffffhhhhhh! yep. they’re definitely an important part of his training table. then, as others were still asleep, we played a game of yahtzee. the boy actually rolled a yahtzee and beat us both. badly. badly enough as in he wants to actually save the score sheet badly.

i’m sure my grandchildren will one day hear the tale of just how bad grandma is at yahtzee.

we finished, and people were beginning to stir. but watching hellboy struggle putting on his raincoat and whining because the sleeves were saturated was the straw that broke the camping camel’s back.

we’re done, BS simply said.

i am so grateful to all the families who did all the work while i did precious little, and i do mean precious little. they organized things, they fed us, they were so amazingly wonderful and generous to us. and i’m hoping they know that our experience is not any reflection on all that they did at misty mount.  if my house wasn’t a shambles, i would totally want to invite them all over for a thank you festivity.

so, in their honor, some zeppelin. cos nothing says thank you like robert plant.

happy birthday to me

happy birthday to me

I say, “I remember you.
You drive like a PTA mother.”

yep. today is my birthday. and, as your wildly narcissistic pal, i tend to really love the day because it’s all about me. (well, all about me and everyone else born on the same day… which, among my friends, includes three other people, particularly one high school friend born on the same day in the same year.  i’ve never established who was born first. me, i was born just after lunch, so she has the greater likelihood of being born before, i suppose.) in fact, i love the whole week before and the whole week afterwards as well. life is short. 24 hours is too little time to feel delighted to be on the planet another year.

this year is a somewhat big (though not ending in a zero big) year for me. so, now that i’m 25 (oh, stop it — i’m doing inverse dog years), i thought i’d put some goals together and put them out there. hell, it may keep me honest. and maybe, it will inspire someone else to put their goals on the road, too. sure, it’s over two months since new year’s, but my new year always starts for me on my day of natality.

so, as we celebrate what one of my beloved pals from grad school would refer to as wrekehavoc awareness day (and yes, her tongue would be so firmly in cheek that it would indent), in no particular order, the list of goals:

1) improve my health. well, we all know my health has been a struggle, thanks to a genetic crapshoot i lost. but (and with apologies to those doing the 12-step boogie)  if i can get some of that serenity to change  all the things i can change, then i need to exercise and lose weight. consistently. one of my friends has lost over 30 pounds; she has inspired me to take charge. and while i’m not using any particular diet program, i am watching my calories, using an online tool she steered me to, (no, this isn’t an endorsement. this is just letting you know what i’m doing.)

another friend — the wife of my husband’s best friend, which sounds scandalous when it’s put like that — has inspired me in the exercise department. i have always attempted the all-or-nothing approach which has yielded me exactly that — nothing. unless all consists of injured, disgusted, and not fit.  anyway, she has used her wii consistently and has lost 30 pounds over the course of a year. while it won’t make me the hottest bod in the land, it is certainly a great first motivational step toward bigger things. it gets me started in a way where i hopefully won’t kill myself in the first week.

as we all know goals don’t mean crap unless you operationalize them (thanks, grad school professors for that knowledge!). so the operationalization:

-work out three times a week

-write your food down at least 5 out of 7 days/week

2) institute a writing schedule. i blather, and i blather in a lot of places. this results in a lot of blather that isn’t really taking me where i want to be. if i make a schedule and stick to it, i might actually finish a new book by year’s end while continuing the quest to get the first book published.

yet i still love to blog; and after 8 years in the bloggy trenches, i am not about to give it up. but i think i ought to stick with a schedule for when i write to make sure that i contribute regularly there but not too much! that will be tough to stick to, i know. i love to blog. maybe i’ll only allow myself short bits on days when i am not scheduled to write…

(can you see me caving already?)

so. operationalization, please…

-work on new novel tuesdays and thursdays.

-blog mondays and wednesdays

-friday – open season! squee!

3) unplug the kids. since the snowpacalypse, my kids, especially my beloved son hellboy, have become much more plugged in. in fact, i fear one day that either the star wars video game or the wii lego batman will one day come alive and pull him into the tv to live forever, shooting at dog-knows-what. while i suspect my kids will not grow up to become serial killers (note to self: which parents think their kids WILL?), i need to make a concerted effort to find ways to occupy them — or, more to the point, get them to occupy themselves!

here’s the challenge. hellboy has no kids his age nearby. zero. zilch. nada. BC has one. of course, it’s easier to get BC out of the house and on her bike, especially since i am not as worried that she’ll be in the street when someone zooms up at 60 mph in a 25 zone. but what to do with hellboy? how do i get him into the backyard to play when he’s all by his lonesome? do i book up his weekends with playdates months in advance (since these kids all seem to have much busier schedules than mine do)? gone are the days when you could just run up to your neighbor’s door and ask him to come out and play. (and, in hellboy’s case, there’s no appropriate neighbor’s doorbell to ring.)

hmm. here goes nothin’.

1) look at the calendar at the beginning of the month and plan at least one playdate for the boy/girl.

2) research fun backyard things that the boy would enjoy doing. the girl is pretty good at occupying herself, but the boy will need more than a few slimy bugs to entice him away from luke skywalker.

okay. so three should be a start, right?

anyone out there have ideas to help me meet my goals? that goal three is a bear for me, and i know there are parents out there who do it all much better than i do. please enlighten me with ideas, websites, and hope.

and heck — share your goals if you have any. maybe new year’s came and went for you. so hell — you can say it’s your birthday today, too.

see, i’m 25 today, so i know how to share.

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