Archive | June 2012

My Happy Place

Yesterday I think I had the best idea of my whole life.  Really.  I decided to grab a few hoagies and the kids, and go down to the shore after work.  For all those non local’s, since I’m from New Jersey, it’s always ‘down’ the shore, even if it’s actually just travelling east.  I thought it would be a great idea because it was probably slightly hotter than the sun’s surface yesterday.  I didn’t realize however, how nice the water would be.  Going to the shore is a passion of mine.  My parents started it so I can blame them.  I can literally feel the stress lifting from my shoulders as soon as my toes hit the sand. 

We started off, I picked the closest beach, about an hour from our house;  hoping for no traffic along the way.  Since its pretty deserted there wasn’t any. Even close to the beach, the road was fairly clear.  It worked like a charm.  By 5.15 we were installed on the beach.  There were few umbrellas still up since most of the vacationers were getting ready for dinner.  My youngest had come straight from her kiddie pool so she was ready to go.  My oldest and I just wore shorts, not planning on getting wet. 

We found a good spot and set out our impromptu picnic.  Not that the girls were interested in dinner.  Hoagies don’t compare to the crashing waves and sand.  The water, like I said, was really nice.  I let it wash around my legs as the girls frolicked and turned cartwheels in the wet sand.  (Yes my oldest got her shorts soaked of course) I brought out my chair and sat, watching the girls for a good hour before we decided to eat.  That’s when I decided that the beach is definitely my happy place.   It had to have been the best evening we have had in a long time.  We stayed for a few hours, built a castle, which got washed away in the rising tide, and finally headed home.  I would love to do that every week.  Maybe we will.  The beach is one place which never gets boring.

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Really Belated Father’s Day Post

I have been a blog flunky this week.  I’ll probably be invisible for the next few weeks since its crazy busy at home, at work, and pretty much everywhere.  But then it’s summer and vacation time; we’re all extra busy.  I’m actually impressed that I am only 3 days late with this post, but it’s no less meaningful than if I woke up promptly at 4.30 am on Sunday and pounded it out.  Actually that would have been disastrously filled with grammatical mistakes and sentences leading nowhere.  I mean even more than usual.    In my Mother’s day blog, I shared a few of my best memories of things my mom and I did together.  The ones I like to think about from time to time.  I could do that for this as well, but that might be too much of the same thing.  Instead I would like to share what makes my dad a wonderful dad and grandpa, and what makes him, well, him.

For one thing, my dad is an awesome storyteller.  And I’m not using the word because we all grew up saying “Awesome, Dude” and watching Bill and Ted.  (ok there goes my age again) When I was a kid, after dinner he always told me a story.  Things like ‘Ichabod Crane’, or the ‘Ghost Train’.  My favorite, and don’t even consider asking why, ‘How Glass was Made’.  Now that my daughters are able to appreciate it, he talks until he is hoarse telling them stories.  After the old standby’s were depleted, he has reached into his vast stores of literary knowledge and combines Conan Doyle, Tolkien and any number of other classics.  It’s one of their favorite things to do with my dad, as it was mine. 

My dad is also a writer, like father like daughter I guess.  He was a journalist, had a magazine, and spent a large part of his life writing in some way or other.  I think it’s just something that’s ingrained in him.  Even his emails are well thought out and concise.  Mine are as meandering as my speaking.

My dad is a great intellectual, and has so many ideas and opinions about things which my brain just doesn’t even think about.  He reads constantly, and while he’s reading actually thinks.  He covers a vast range of topics, from history books, to fiction.  He’s a quiet sort, but has his streak of stubbornness, like me.  It comes out from time to time, and when it does, it’s’ pretty impressive. 

My dad loves the beach, and the pool for that matter.  When I was a kid, we belonged to a swim club, so I grew up with lessons and swim team and all that.  My dad grew up in a city and taught himself.  So basically he always seemed to do a lot of flailing, but made it across the pool every time.  Now, my parents live close to the beach and although they probably don’t get there as much as they would like, I think it’s a high point in their summer.

There are so much more to my dad, but we can’t be typing forever of course.  naturally I am pretty biased, but I think he’s the best dad there is.  Who else would take their daughter to Shea Stadium every year just to see their beloved Mets lose? 

Summer Learning

When I was a kid I always used to get the inevitable summer reading list, especially in grammar school, which always got shoved somewhere under my bed the day after school let out.   I blissfully forgot about the lists for the rest of the summer.  I think I was friends with a few kids who did actually, you know, learn stuff during the summer.  That definitely wasn’t me though.

 Now that my own little redheaded appendages are in elementary school they get those summer reading lists and sometimes more.    I was a book-worm when I was a kid, (and now) so I just ploughed through most of the local library on my own.  However with my oldest, I have made an attempt each summer to reinforce her math skills.  Like me, she is also a reader, so those lists were generally half read before summer started.  But with the math we would enthusiastically make up worksheets for about a week, and then suddenly it was half way through August when I  remembered to pull out the booklet or find a math game on the computer.  We always made a half-hearted attempt though, and as a result her brain was not entirely empty when she went back to school in the fall. Now that she has discovered a few new math games on the computer that she enjoys, I think she will get a little more learning this summer.

 This year, however, since I have two little ones in school its double the load.  Apparently, being in special education entitles you to a nice shiny journal with lots of blank pages, along with the math and reading.  Because of her challenges with focus and attention, I really want to give her a boost up as she enters the intimidating world of regular education.  My youngest is thrilled with her journal and can hardly wait for summer to begin so she can start filling those pages up. 

It’s really for their own good, I tell myself.  Unfortunately life always seems to intervene and we are left with fewer days of leisure each summer.  I am hoping that my daughters’ enthusiasm for learning carries them beyond my innate summer laziness and that we get much more summer learning done this year.  I kind of have a hunch we will.

bits and pieces

Well I’ve been muddling along, proofreading, editing, adding and taking away.  I’ve almost gotten my novel to where I can print it out and let a friend or a dad-proofreader take a look at it.  Here is a little part which I kind of like.  And yes a dad-proofreader is a real person. 🙂

The weather had turned slightly cooler, a pleasant change from the hot and sultry June.  The July sky was brilliant blue, framed in puffy white clouds; it accented the darkening green of summer foliage.   The first Saturday of July, Chloe decided to splurge a little of her meager savings on a new skirt and perhaps a shirt of two.  She had Fiona headed up to 6th Avenue to see what they could find.  Fiona had an eye for color and a flair for stretching her dollar, so Chloe knew they would find luck.

“How is your friend Hank doing?”  Chloe asked impishly, as they loitered on the sidewalk, enjoying the slight breeze which fluttered their skirts and swirled around their ankles. 

Fiona smiled broadly, her clear wide eyes shining with happiness.  “Oh, he is fine. Very busy naturally.  He, he’s been working hard to save; his uncle wants him to take over his butcher’s shop!  There is a grand apartment over the top of it.  And it’s only 6 streets up.”

“And has he told your parents that?”  Chloe inquired.  “You haven’t been overly talkative about him in front of me lately.”  She teased.

“Wellll, we haven’t exactly talked to my parents yet.  But we will.  Soon.  So I haven’t wanted to… jinks it, by saying anything to anyone”  Fiona sighed happily and tucked her arm through Chloe’s.  “What about you and James?”  She inquired with raised eyebrow.

“Um, what about us?”  Chloe couldn’t hide the burning flame rising up to her cheeks.  She had always detested the fact that she blushed so easily.  Her sister said she wore her emotions for the world to see. 

“Oh Chloe, a blind man would notice the way you too look at each other.”

“I wasn’t aware how obvious it was.”

Fiona laughed, “To a close friend surely it is.  Come, why is it so complicated?” 

“It just is.”  Chloe sighed.  “I never expected this.  I came to New York to further my career and to, well, I guess to find a place to fit.  Not to ‘catch a husband’ as some of the ladies back home would say.”

“Chloe, you can’t help how you feel, not everything can be planned.”

“No. I know.”  Chloe agreed with this, but at the same time she felt that it should not have happened so.  Why was it that she had to meet James now when she was at such a very important and transitional step in her life?  He intruded in her life almost forcefully, that day when she very nearly was run over.  His eyes were what she saw from the first time they met.  How they could make her feel as if he was reading into her mind and soul, she did not know, but it was a familiar and safe and scary feeling all at one time.  Chloe knew she would never want to endanger their friendship or whatever closer feelings they had, but sometimes she wished she could have met him at another time. 

I certainly hope this little bit of my fiction doesn’t induce you to run screaming from your computer or shove it out the nearest window.  Maybe it will give you a warm fuzzy of slightly interested feeling like me.  Thanks for stopping by and reading!

The Graduate

Last thursday was a proud day for me in mommy mode.  My youngest redheaded appendage graduated kindergarten.  Well, the first year of it.  She was in a special education class this past year and has done incredibly well.  

For at least the past two weeks she has been reminding me daily of the impending graduation ceremony.  The days preceding the event were filled with the sound of her practicing songs which the class would sing at the graduation.  Finally the day arrived.   After getting many assurances that I was absolutely coming to her graduation, she allowed me to leave for my half day at work.  The ceremony was only for her particular class.  Since my oldest never had any ceremony, I suspect it was more to do with the teacher, than a change in school policy. 

As I arrived in the library and took a seat among the other parents and grandparents brandishing flowers, balloons and cameras, I noticed how much hard work had gone into the celebration.  There were banners and posters of the student’s artwork and classwork handing on the walls for us to gloat over.  We all chattered quietly as we waited for the grand entrance.  Finally, after a few announcements, the graduates arrived.  They processed down the aisle to the front of the library, each wearing their best that day.  We were treated to several songs that they had learned, accompanied by the flash of many camera’s. 

My one mistake of the day was wearing heels, the HIGH ones.  During the 45 minute ceremony most parents stood in order to get the best shots.  By the end my feet were screaming. 

After several songs, which showed their hard work to the full extend, we had a little award ceremony and the handing off of the “diploma”.  I am supremely proud to say that my littlest sidekick got the  “Best Reader Award”. 

Afterward we all had a chance to relax, speak to the teachers and other parents and hug our treasures.  There were even cupcakes. 

It was a proud day.  One of my friend’s, whose son was in the class, said to me that  it’s always particularly special when the kids have come so far and overcome many of their own social and learning difficulties to graduate kindergarten.  And she was so right.  It was a moment to remember.  I know my daughter was so proud of herself and her friends.

She is now looking forward to next year in the regular kindergarten.  She’ll have to get used to the bigger class size and smaller number of teachers in her class, but she is ready and eager.  She is even determined to practice her math and reading over the summer.  She better have more willpower than I do.

Why can’t they just get along?!

Growing up in a small family sometimes makes it hard to understand my two rambunctious red-heads.  I didn’t have any brothers or sisters to fight with.  I did have the pleasure of growing up in a small town with lots of kids, so there was always a playmate.  But being naturally non-confrontational, I simply have a hard time with the fighting in my house. 

This weekend was what I would call an ‘outdoorsy weekend’.  Saturday was a nice warm sunny day, unlike the recent rash of wet weather that has been haunting the region.  After an unusually late night (Irish dance recital) we actually managed to drag ourselves out to the other dance classes Saturday morning.  Being kids with unlimited amounts of energy, (oh, why can’t they share?) they wanted to wash the car in the afternoon.  Soooo, out came the buckets, cloths and hose.  We spend a pleasurable afternoon involved in this and that, and even had a picnic with the dolls on the front lawn.  Well, my 6-year old and I did.  In the evening we went to the library and got dinner since I did not have unlimited amounts of energy.  Not too shabby for a Saturday.

Sunday dawned with the makings of another pretty day.  I let the kids sleep until about 20 minutes until church and then we did the usual race to the car.  After letting them stuff themselves silly afterward, (it was the annual sunday school picnic)  we went to meet a friend and spend the day at a botanical garden.  It’s really a beautiful place and there is tons of room for kids to run around.  Not to mention a great ‘Children’s Garden’ with fountains and other things for kids to get into.  You would think it could be a peaceful day.  It would have been in my family most likely.  Not in any with more than one kid.  I’ve learned that nothing is simple with two (or more)  They fought for a majority of the way there, and then fought for a large part of the way back.  To the extent that I pulled the car over twice.

Apparently that was just a warm up.  The second they got home the other night, They were on the floor wrestling each other.  I asked what the fight was about later, after they had cooled off in their rooms, and they couldn’t remember.  This aggression takes me aback sometimes.  Not only am I getting used to the increased attitude from firstborn, but the fighting makes me wonder if they are rehearsing for an Off-Broadway production of The Hunger Games.

Logically I know that the fighting is their wayto deal with conflict and that they will learn from it.  And also I know that the half of the time they aren’t fighting, they are generally close, until the bossiness sets in.  I keep reminding myself that one day my house will seem too quiet and I won’t be able to tip toe into their rooms when all is peaceful and tuck their blankets in.  Hence I wait out the fights with gritted teeth and plans to buy a megaphone.

Up in the Air

My life is a little up in the air right now.  I have heard, well, more than rumor but not enough to know for certain, that my company will be relieving itself of many of its employees in the next 6 months or so.  It could be sooner, it could be later.  We don’t know of course.  Naturally this has caused an explosion of speculation among my fellow employees, and right there inside my head as well. 

Now, although for the moment things are stable, the thought that in a year my life might be pretty different keeps pricking at the inside of my head at least 5 times a day.  It’s not devastating news to be sure.  I haven’t been at the company for half a lifetime or anything.  In fact, it kind of feels like the kick in the pants that I need to get going.  I never planned for a majority of the day to be closeted in a cubby staring at a computer screen.  I am willing to bet a good percent of  office workers say the same. 

This is a real opportunity to change directions.  Completely.  I wasn’t meant to work in accounting, or business or marketing.    One of my coworkers even told me that my job and I are polar opposites.  (He is so right) However, changing careers means money.  So…that means a job is a necessity, unless I win the lottery which I have never played.  However if I take a job just to pay the bills and keep my two redheaded appendages in the manner in which they require, maybe I won’t have the time for writing … or school.  That brings me to what, even if I had no money concerns, I would want to do.  Well, writing is at the top of my list.  It’s a must.  I would love to have large amounts of time to write, trailing around in my pajama pants, sitting on my glider and immersing myself in the little fictional worlds I love to create.  Or maybe going back to school to  find something that actually pleases me and also makes money is the way to go.  (Because having a degree in Medieval studies is not the way to go, neither is having a minor in classics.) 

I do wish I had listened to my mother a little more now, and had actually done something more useful than fun in college, but since I am just now becoming a mature adult at 37, maybe this is the time to decide what I want to be when I grow up.  There are so many options that my head whirls at the possibilities.  The boulder that continually hangs over my head is the fact that no one will say when this part of my life is going to end so I can’t very well even start to do more than speculate on the next stage of life.  Whatever happens, I have complete confidence that I will be just where I am supposed to be.