Saturday, December 31, 2011


This time last year was a dark, dark time in my world. I kind of hate thinking about it. I remember walking with the kids and replacing the smile on my face as it kept slipping off and concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other. I was a mess.

The picture I've been using for my chat status was from one of those New Years walks with the kids. They were swinging around glow bracelets at night so all you see in the pic is blackness and little streaks of light. That picture is the definition of sadness and pain to me, and I kept it up for an entire year. How goth is that? I think we can take that down now.

I am trying to decide if I'm going on a little drive this evening to be social, or if I should just stay home and not drive for one day. I'm really tempted to skip the drive and stay home alone, and that doesn't even seem sad or lonely. It sounds peaceful and relaxing. I really hope this isn't how the unabomber got started.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Say Yes

It's hardly the time for a graduation speech, and even if it was, why hear one from 2009? Well, because I feel like it, OK? This often-quoted Colbert inspirational is amazing. Let's all take a moment.

"So, say 'yes.' In fact, say 'yes' as often as you can. When I was starting out in Chicago, doing improvisational theatre with Second City and other places, there was really only one rule I was taught about improv. That was, 'yes-and.' In this case, 'yes-and' is a verb. To 'yes-and.' I yes-and, you yes-and, he, she, or it yes-ands. And yes-anding means that when you go onstage to improvise a scene with no script, you have no idea what's going to happen, maybe with someone you've never met before. To build a scene, you have to accept. To build anything onstage, you have to accept what the other improviser initiates on stage. They say you're doctors--you're doctors. And then, you add to that: We're doctors and we're trapped in an ice cave. That's the '-and.' And then hopefully they 'yes-and' you back. You have to keep your eyes open when you do this. You have to be aware of what the other performer is offering you, so that you can agree and add to it. And through these agreements, you can improvise a scene or a one-act play. And because, by following each other's lead, neither of you are really in control. It's more of a mutual discovery than a solo adventure. What happens in a scene is often as much a surprise to you as it is to the audience.

"Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what's going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say 'yes.' And if you're lucky, you'll find people who will say 'yes' back.

"Now will saying 'yes' get you in trouble at times? Will saying 'yes' lead you to doing some foolish things? Yes, it will. But don't be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don't learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying 'yes' begins things. Saying 'yes' is how things grow. Saying 'yes' leads to knowledge. 'Yes' is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say 'yes.' "

--Stephen Colbert, commencement speech to Knox College           

Alana of Sunshine and Bones and Random Thoughts of a Crazy Liberal (see my required reading list) inspired this post.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Not So Bad

On Xmas eve, I was up til 3 prepping for what I hoped would be a stellar morning for the kids. I invited their father to join us for presents and breakfast. I made their favorite thing: breakfast sandwich. They prefer to grab those at Burger King, a block away from the apartment, but they usually don't mind my healthy version, with nitrate-free bacon, organic eggs, vegan butter, and whole-grain, organic English muffin. l mean, what's more festive than that? I even added a side of organic fruit. Isn't that what being a good mother is all about?

The kids were iffy on the breakfast and sort of picked at it. Their behavior was on the obnoxious and mean side throughout the morning festivities. When the rest of us were outside, Daisy locked herself in the apartment with the chain so I could only open the door wide enough to yell inside. She was angry because I gave her and her sister bikes, and There Will Be No More Training Wheels. Violet doesn't care because, at five, she's been riding without training wheels for months, which really annoys her eight-year-old sister. The thing is - Daisy can totally do it too but she's psyching herself out, which is exactly like me, which is why I can't let it go.

Anyway, there was way more drama than I was anticipating in the first half of the day. By the time we got to my folks' house, I was tired and not a huge fan of children. I didn't lose the edgy feeling until I took the dogs for a walk . . . lovely.

Then, out of nowhere, my mother offered up the nap option. I didn't even make it to the guest room. I went straight to my parents' bed - it was closer - and Violet crawled in and cuddled next to me sweetly. When we woke, it was dark. And strangely, my parents had snuck off to a party with their dog park people. I left the kids with their uncle and aunt and took the dogs out again, enjoying the pretty lights.


Later, Daisy and I played Scrabble, and it was a treat to do something just with her. She talked about why having her parents together made her nervous. I guess kids aren't so bad. On the way home, toward the end of the drive, there was a little Christmas music.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Selfpity Eve

The love of Christmas music was for me one of those afflictions brought on by pregnancy hormones. I don't remember ever flipping through the car radio to find the holiday music before kids, but after, I only had to do it once a year because that was the only station I listened to for weeks. I was even sad to see it go. Temporary insanity must be an important element of being a good parent to babies.

I didn't lose my taste for Christmas music until a couple years ago, when the family got swine flu. I'm not sure if it was the illness or the undercurrents of unhappiness in the marriage, but I decided that jolly made me mad. Last Christmas, in the middle of my divorce and the beginning of the kid's split custody schedule, I really did not want to hear that wonderland shit.

I'm still avoiding the holiday music. It's too bad because the kids are at an age to really get into the spirit of it all, but I''m not there yet. A new ritual of spending time alone at Christmas started the Swine Flu year. This year I will spend Christmas Eve alone. I'll sleep in late then work and wrap presents and stuff stockings. I'll donate something and cook something. And for some reason, I'll repeatedly get this image in my head of snow falling at night. I welcome the downtime, but it's a sad time for me.

I've pretty much worked through the divorce grief. For real, I have not held that in. Now, I'm sad because I notice what's missing. It makes me aware of how I could be working harder or making better decisions. So yeah, it's Selfpity Eve. But the dark and stormy introspection time is good for me, and I need to take it like a grownup and do what I need to do so I'm not so cranky next Christmas.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Floor Scores

As a dog owner, you really need to watch the floor scores during the holidays. Just look at our dog Sadie. Today's score menu included a meatball sandwich, a ham and cheese sandwich, and a gingerbread house slathered in frosting and candy. Bummer. Not sure why we were storing those on the floor.

Monday, December 5, 2011


It was my day off today but I took care of business. Let's just say there was sickness, flu vaccines, prescriptions, a grocery run, laundry, work from home, cleaning, homework resistance, holiday decorations found in perilous circumstances, a tornado of kid decorating, and an organic chicken in a pot with vegetables. After a solid day, it's always rewarding to see this.
Sometimes, I get discouraged by how hard I try to deal with good intention but only make more of a mess of things. But only sometimes. The rest of the time, I take my encouragement wherever I can find it.

Yesterday, we ran to Home Depot to get something boring, and the kids' eyes lit up when we passed the holiday displays at the front of the store. I saw an opportunity to make up for my weak parenting performance since arriving at their dad's house exhausted and sick that morning. I had eaten my post birthday breakfast with them before crashing in Daisy's bed for a good part of the afternoon. Meanwhile, their father was downstairs putting up holiday decorations, playing Christmas music, trimming his tree. The kids were pumped for holiday cheer when we returned to the apartment.

A bribe was clearly in order. I offered to get one Christmas item per child in the most boring store ever for a kid. See? I've got plen-ty of holiday fun. Now, look carefully . . . consider your options! Just one! The kids finally settled on a pouncing musical holiday puppy and a rocking musical holiday puppy, purchases I would clearly regret later. That's what I was thinking anyway when we were standing at the register, as well as how much I might allow for bribes in my imaginary budget that might soon become real. The lady exclaimed, "$71.71! With numbers like that, you girls should buy a lottery ticket. Those are great numbers!"

Really? Because I welcome positive feedback of any kind.

A little later, we were on a brisk walk through the aisles of a grocery store. Violet insisted on draping herself sideways across the kidseat in the front of the cart, her head dangling off one end and her legs hanging off the other - knocking off boxes and bags from displays on both ends - while Daisy made firm demands that she sit correctly. I focused on grabbing what we needed before all hell broke loose and the cart would have to be abandoned. Violet was upset because I'm cutting way back on her apple juice consumption in light of the poison in our environment that is ruining everything. It was a typical shopping trip with little kids, everyone pissed by the time we were waiting to pay. Again, the cashier came through with the enthusiasm, exclaiming, "Wow! $65 exactly! You never get an exact number like that. Good job, girls!"

Sweet.There really is no stopping us.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Battle

I don't know how to describe the battle of wills that is occurring between this person and me.


Daisy, her sister, is no slouch when it comes to battles or wills. 


Yet, currently, Violet is the reigning Drama Queen. When we are together, her war cry is Not Dis One!

Getting dressed in the morning is a major ordeal. The shirt is too big; the pants are too small. Violet can tell just by looking at them. Left to her own devices, she can sit for more than 20 minutes in her underwear, staring at the offending clothes that actually fit her and refusing to break her pissed-off stare to consider other options. They're all wrong. AAALLLL OF DEM! And, by the way, does anyone EVEN care that she's COLD?! I have threatened to drop her off at school as is, given her timeouts, taken away things, wrestled her into clothes, spanked her even though I don't believe in it. Her inability to carry the lesson from one day to the next is a thing of wonder.

Yesterday, Violet begged to ride her scooter to the park and then spent the entire time freaking out that she was not in front of the rest of the kids who were walking. Meanwhile, we were getting farther and farther behind as she sprawled herself out on the sidewalk, until we couldn't even see our group because they were so far ahead, but what Violet focused on was making repeated refusals to ride her scooter because she was not in front of everyone else because, as she insisted, she might "hute" the other kids if she ran into them. They were blocks away by then and she couldn't let it go. Our days are a thousand conflicts.

I crave peace and look for it everywhere. If something strikes me the right way, I'm hooked, lost in deep space . . . just look at the peace in this one.