Archive for the 'Parenting' Category

I keep coming back to that, still.

Dear Wednesday,

I’ve been quieter than usual lately, and I’m sorry about that. I know I promised you I’d keep you updated, and this past month I’ve done a terrible job at it. I have no excuses, except for that whole we-just-moved-back-across-the-country thing, I suppose. I can milk that a little longer can’t I? ūüėČ

We’re doing okay. Not great, but okay. I would have written you last week, but it was the first week of theater classes back by you, and I knew the girls would be feeling more homesick than usual, so I downplayed the day. Not that it helped much. As soon as they were done with their school work, they got on their gadgets and checked their messages and heard how you were all there together starting another¬†great year of theater, and here we are, so far away from you and all the excitement…. By the end of the day, A. slipped into a bout of anger that I really couldn’t blame her for. Hell, I get it. I’m pissed too. But I’m The Mom, and I Set The Tone, so I kept my face and voice neutral and talked about all the good things we’re doing here (but it’s still okay to feel the way you’re feeling, and it’ll pass and everything is gonna be okay, and blah blah frickety blah blah BLAH!), because that’s all I know how to do.

She’ll be all right. We all will be. It just takes time, and it’s only been a few months.

We’re a month into our new school year, and the routine of it helps immensely. Our days have grown busy, especially now that all of the girls’ activities have kicked in. They are doing two drama classes a week, plus voice, piano and dance lessons at the Conservatory downtown one afternoon a week, plus the one full day out at the homeschool academy where they get art and music classes plus a smattering of other classes where they can have group discussions about history and books and such, not to mention the incredibly affordable archery classes we stumbled upon, and suddenly this year has just turned into this perfect blend of time at home working with me and time away from home. I couldn’t ask for a better set up.

Except for the fact that it’s two thousand miles away from you, that is.

I keep coming back to that, still. And it’s damned depressing. I can’t think about it too long or I’ll collapse into a fit of tears and misery, which would not jive well at all with my whole Setting The Tone Theme Song… c’mon, sing it with me: Everything’s Gonna Be Okay. Tra La La La La La……

So instead, I do the things that need doing. Like dishes. And laundry. I’m still mired down in those two chores. Some things never change, I guess. But I will say that we have the most cheerful washer and dryer set I’ve ever seen. It blips and beeps more gently than an elevator in a five-star hotel. When the cycles are finished, it plays these little tunes that sound like something you’d hear in church. It’s much more relaxing than the infernal loud buzzing sounds I had with my old set. Also: the washer on my old set was pretty much starting to die on me. Sometimes, it wouldn’t drain the water. It would just finish the whole cycle with all the icky water in it, and then BUZZ at me, like it was PRETENDING to have washed my clothes, like it was MESSING WITH ME. I’d hear that buzz and head down to the basement and open the lid and there the clothes would be: still soaking in that gray water. Bastard. It probably wasn’t serious. Probably something was just blocking the drain hose or whatever. That’s what RegularDad said, and he was probably right, because all I had to do was wait 24 hours and start the thing up again and it would work just fine.

Yeah… see… there’s something I don’t miss.

So, now I have this new house and all this new stuff in it, and believe me, I like it far better than the old beat up place we had. I have enough room for our things now, and the kids have a huge¬†basement to hang out in, and everything is finished and beautiful and properly furnished, and for the first time in 8 years, I don’t feel CRAMPED no matter where I go in my own house. When we had our first cold night last week or so with that little dusting of snow, we turned on all the fireplaces just because we could, and it was damned cozy in here.

first-snow-2014

So, I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.

I’m also writing again, which is good. I’ve decided to¬†take advantage of these unexpected free hours I find myself with to focus more on my own writing rather than offering to teach a slew of classes or volunteer for some committee or other, or what have you. This is the year when I will master the Art of Saying No. Suddenly I’ve got a whole day and a half to myself! Can you imagine? On Mondays I write for about three hours at the library. Alone. On Thursdays, I grocery shop and run errands, and still get a little writing done. ¬†I don’t talk to anyone for hours at a time. Not even the dog. It’s unbelievably soothing.

So, even though this post is somewhat depressing, you mustn’t worry about us. Really, in the grand scheme of things, I guess I’d have to say we’re actually doing better than “just okay”. The girls are healthy and busy, and they’re making friends in their own particular ways. When I pick them up from the Conservatory or the academy and ask them how their day went, A. says something like, “I made a new friend, I think,” and then E. promptly says, “I got everyone’s phone number today!” Which is so utterly, gorgeously THEM that I can’t help but feel good inside, and relieved that they’re still them. Homesick as they are, displaced and lonely and sick of each other as they are, even when they get those far away looks in their eyes, the looks that say whoa… this isn’t what I had planned at all!

They’re still them.

still-them2still-them1

Love,
RegularMom

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How we ended our summer vacation.

Not that it’s been much of a vacation, mind you, what with all this moving back across the country and all the difficult moments entailed therein. But all summer seasons do eventually draw to a close (some sooner than others), and here in Colorado, most schools have either already started or will start tomorrow, so we will do the same.

Today, by luck of the draw, we spent our last day of official summer vacation up in Denver at Coors Field, taking in a baseball game. RegularDad’s company hosted a bit of a party for all of us relocated folks, and sprung not just for the tickets, but for a nice lunch before game time. So, we drove up nice and early, and oddly enough, we ended up parking in the same parking deck I used to park in when I worked in downtown Denver many, many years ago, when I was younger, newly married, and RegularDad wasn’t even in the satellite business yet. It was a little bit freaky to tell the girls, “yep, I used to park right here and walk on in that building there. Every day.”

Everything looked exactly the same, and I knew exactly how to get to Coors Field, so I led the way. It wasn’t too hard. You just had to follow all the people wearing purple. Large crowds were already heading toward the field, which we thought was strange, since we were going a couple of hours early for a lunch. Even with the short walk to the stadium, we ended up standing in a long, long line to get inside.

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“Don’t tell me ALL these people were relocated!” I said to RegularDad.

“No,” he said, “but I think they’re retiring someone’s jersey today, and they’re giving away shirts or something, so I bet a lot of people are trying to get here early to get one.”

(It turned out to be Todd Helton’s jersey: No. 17. It was a lovely ceremony, and the unexpected thunderstorm held off until after it was all done.)

So we waited in line, patiently, the sun beating down on us…

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and eventually we shuffled far enough inside that we were in the shade where it was still hot but much more comfortable. You remember quite quickly how strong the sun can be up here a mile closer to it. Ugh. Hats, shades and sunscreen are a must. After about ten more minutes of just shuffling along in a crowd that reminded me of trying to get through Times Square on the day they were lighting the Christmas tree, we got up to where they were giving out the freebies. They weren’t shirts; they were Todd Helton bobble-heads.

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We’ve got four of these bad boys now. I have no idea what we’ll DO with them, but we’ve got ’em. I’m not quite sure what he’s dressed up as: Robin Hood? A park ranger? Maybe he’s just gone fishin’? But there he is in all his bobble-headed glory.

The lunch that RegularDad’s company hosted for us was just your basic baseball food: burgers and hotdogs, with chips and watermelon. And drinks of course. We stuck mostly to water, considering how hot it was, and we were glad to have gotten seats in the shade. We ate and chatted with some of the people we knew from Pennsylvania. It’s so weird to see all these people out here instead of back east. We went to a house warming party for one of RegularDad’s friends the night before, and at one point, we were all sitting around this guy’s kitchen table, swapping horror stories of Dealing With The Relocation People, and How Many Days Was YOUR Stuff Delayed, and all that, and then we got kinda quiet for a minute, just looking around at each other, like, “Jesus, how’d we all end up out here together???”

But after we’d all eaten, the Big Bosses got up and gave very nice (and mercifully short) speeches, thanking all of us for making the move out, and I have to say, it was nice to hear them actually say it, because, Oh My Freekin’ GAWD, it’s been a hell of a difficult summer. To hear them all say, Thanks, we know this is hard, but here: have a day at Coors Field on us, and welcome to Colorado. By the way, the pizza is just awful and there’s no scrapple to be had anywhere, but hey, thanks for coming.¬†

Yeah, it helped at bit.

After the speeches, we went back up into the stands and found our seats, and they were actually pretty damn good. We watched the ceremony retiring No. 17, and then the game started up, and maybe ten minutes after the first pitch, we all had to run for cover because the Zero Percent chance of rain for the day turned into a deluge complete with dangerous lightning. But that’s okay, because ten minutes after that the sun came back out and we grabbed a stack of napkins from a concession stand to dry off our seats and went back to watch the game a while.

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A few innings in, my 11-year-old said, to no one in particular, “This is cool. I mean, moving sucks and all, but this… this right here… is pretty darn cool.”

And it was.

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Thus ends our summer vacation that wasn’t much of a vacation at all. Not a bad way to close it out, I’d say.

Settling in, venturing out.

So, we’re settling in. Just about everything is out of the boxes, and in the proper rooms. Not organized, mind you. No. Just out of the boxes and onto a shelf or into a cabinet in all the usual disorganized jumble. I can almost find everything. Except for the power cords for my main computer with all my photo editing and graphics software. That stuff is floating around somewhere, so I’m still using my laptop for everything, which is fine until I want to blog something and realize I don’t have any decent photo editing software available to me yet. sigh….

In the midst of all this unpacking and settling in, I’ve also been busy getting ready for our new school year. All the public schools start in the middle of August here, and the girls have been itching to start school ever since the beginning of August, which is very unusual for us. We like our summers off. And we liked starting after Labor Day. August was all about chillin’ by the pool with our friends, and rainy afternoons at the movies and getting ice cream afterwards, and maybe the occasional trip to Hershey Park or down the shore for the day. Not for pining to open up those math books. I suspect the girls just want the routine of it all: days that are full of books and errands and activities. Too much free time can drive one mad when you’re displaced from everything familiar.

So, we’re starting on Monday, just like our district is. I’m almost ready. Or, I should say, just ready enough. We’ll get the basics rolling, and take it from there.

And our year promises to be quite busy, actually, because yes, we’ve been venturing out. We’ve met some new friends, and they’re good people, and even though they’re all still strangers to us, I know from experience that the day will come when that strangeness goes away, and we’ll feel like maybe we understand why we came back. My calendar is already gorgeously full of fun things to do, and this year we’ve signed up for one of these new-fangled homeschool academies that have sprung up out of the blue in the 8 years or so we’ve been away from Colorado. We went on down to register for it on Thursday, and after talking in more detail with the nice lady who runs the office there, it sounds like a really interesting program, one that offers theater arts and a variety of other arts type classes for my oh-so-artsy daughters. I couldn’t ask for a better replacement to the theater arts program we had in Pennsylvania. I addition to this part time academy, we’ve found a nice, affordable archery school where the girls can take archery classes with quite a few of their new friends.

And on top of all that, there are any number of skate days, park days, parties and laser tag afternoons to choose from. Already, I find myself having to scale back on the things we say yes to, so that our school work will get done. So yes, we’re settling in and venturing out. But every time we come home again to this new bigger house, we sit down and look around at everything and each other, and sometimes we’ll actually say it out loud: yes, this is good and fun and nice.

But it’s not the same.¬†

 

Sisterly affection.

Immediately after RegularDad throws a balled up tissue at my 11-year-old and then innocently hides his hands in his hoodie pockets:

11-year-old, to her sister: “Hey!!! Stop!!!”

13-year-old: “It wasn’t me!”

11-year-old: “Yes it was!”

13-year-old: “No it wasn’t! If it had been me, I would have thrown something heavier.”

Coming up for air.

Well, we made it.

Sort of.

We’re down to one dog now, and the movers didn’t arrive with our stuff for an extra 8 days, which was no fun, and we didn’t get our Internet service up and running until yesterday afternoon. But we’re here, and I have a working kitchen, and the ability to type on a normal keyboard, and now that our crazy dog is no longer with us, I actually have time to write.

I suppose I should write it all out, what happened these past three weeks, because someday I’ll be sorry if I don’t. But it’s hard because I’m grieving. That damn dog was such a pain in the ass, but I loved him. Four years I worked with him, and all for what? One week into this move, we had to relinquish him to a shelter. Because instead of calming down here in this bigger house, he just got crazier. I’m 100% sure we did the right thing, but still.

I miss my dog.

It’s the little things that you’ll miss the most.

Our beach day got rained out yesterday, so we decided to hit a movie instead. We were driving to our favorite theater, down this long county road that is hilly and full of potholes, a road that we always seem to end up on, in spite of its perpetually awful conditions, a road that, incidentally, was the road we first took seven years ago, when we found this little town and decided to stick around. As we’re bouncing along in my minivan, swerving here and there to miss the really bad potholes, radio blaring, my 11-year-old says:

“You know, I’m gonna miss this road.”

Me: “Really?”

11-year-old: “Yeah. It reminds me of every single horrible stomach ache I’ve ever had.”

Ten Days and Counting.

Ten days left until we all board a plane for Colorado.

The movers arrive on Monday. They’ll take two days to pack this house, and one day to load it. Then they’ll start driving west and meet us there in about a week’s time. I am continually grateful not to actually have to pack. But experience has taught me that movers will PACK EVERYTHING. Including any of your trash. They can’t make any assumptions about what you may or may not want to keep, so they just pack whatever they find and send it along for you to deal with later.

Back when we moved here seven years ago, I occasionally opened a box that was filled with nothing but trash. One box contained only a bunch of styrofoam blocks that once protected some new computer we’d bought way back when. Another,¬†from my office closet apparently, held a full¬†trash bag I must have forgotten to throw out at some point. Inside the bag were quite a few empty cigarette packages from when I used to smoke. At least there weren’t any ashes. Ick.

So, armed as I am with the knowledge that the movers will pack EVERYTHING, I’ve been spending as much time as possible going through cabinets and closets, tossing what needs tossing, donating what needs donating. Yesterday, the girls and I went through the DREADED COAT CLOSET. For such a small space, it sure did hold a lot of junk: mostly outgrown winter wear and sports gear. For about two hours, the chaos that is my normal living room reached higher and higher levels of disorganization as we sorted through the unbelievably overwhelming amout of CRAP that’s been collecting in there for the past six years.

Peppered in with all that junk, though, were dozens of pairs of outgrown shoes, along with an extra dozen or so shoes that couldn’t find their matches. We started lining up all these shoes and boots, and the line stretched across the room towards the back door. We exclaimed over the littlest ones, and each girl stole an old tiny favorite pair to keep as a memory, hurrying up to their rooms to hide them away. In the interest of being able to walk around in the house, we designated the back half of the dining room as the Shoe Recovery Area:

shoes-dr

All these shoes have a story behind them. That lone black flip flop in the front center, for instance, lost its mate to a friend’s puppy last summer, when said puppy stole it and chewed it up. My younger daughter¬†came home wearing only one shoe, but giggling the whole way. That black boot-ish looking thing all the way in the back at the top right is actually a walking cast my older daughter wore for half of one summer when she damaged some ligaments jumping barefoot off the swings CONSTANTLY for weeks on end.

And there there are the little pink princess crocs:

princess-crocs

See them there behind the white dress flats my daughter wore to her first communion? It’s not that there’s a really cool story behind them, but I had just been reminiscing about these little shoes with a blogging friend of mine last week, and then suddenly, there they were in the closet. My younger daughter wore them all summer long a few summers back, along with a little red dress and white hat we’d found at the thrift store. Now she’s almost as tall as me, and I’m not sure where that little red dress ended up. But here’s how she looked back then:

red-dress

And here is a close up of her feet in those little pink princess crocs:

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We were jumping rope on the back porch that afternoon, and the rule was: you couldn’t land¬†on the bunny. No matter what. Look how close she came. Those were good days. Good Pennsylvania days.

So, yeah. Yesterday I cleaned out my coat closet.

I may never recover from it.

 

 


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