Tag Archive | anecdotal

Locked out….again

The very first post I ever wrote was about me getting locked out of my house. It was a chilly but sunny spring day and due to a door malfunction, (yes it really WAS the door’s fault) I found myself locked out of my house with half of the groceries in the house on the kitchen floor. Over an hour and a soaked pair of pants later (car washing mishap) I was able to get back in the house thanks to a friend with a spare key. That was a good four years ago.

This time, it wasn’t the door’s fault, it was mine, and sort of my daughter’s. It was a simple case of talking to a friend as we left my house, and realizing after the door slammed that my keys were not in my purse. Never walk out distracted. Fortunately, I carry a spare to my car in a hidden place and have a garage door opener. So problem solved right? Wrong! My 6-year-old, always eager to be a help, in that 6-year-old rationale, raced ahead of me into the house. She wanted to be the hero of the hour and find the keys by herself. Thinking quickly, she slammed the door and locked me out so she could look for the keys herself. I pounded on the garage door while my friend pounded on the front door, both of us yelling and hollering to open up. Finally my threat of withholding a favorite cartoon hit home, she opened the door and we found the keys. While this was going on, my older daughter and her friend had wandered down the street, bent on raising money for one of their school clubs. Of course we were late for an appointment because these things don’t happen in the middle of a lazy afternoon. In a move which I thought was cooler than Tom Cruise’s in the MI movies, I grabbed my youngest, tossed her in the car while both of us moms each took a different route around the block to confront our eldest daughters. They simultaneously leaped into our respective cars and away we raced just in time for our appointment.

Frequently I have thought that parts of my life resemble a sitcom. But that day, I was pretty sure it was more like a cross between action and a Mr. Bean episode (without his yellow car).

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My mom

I am sure that there will be about a billion and two posts about moms and Mother’s Day this weekend, so I know I am not unique, but, being new to the blog scene, I think it’s a really great opportunity to share some of my best memories of my mom.  These are some of the things she has done to make her, well, herself.  Actually there are so many things Icould write about, but these are just a few that really kind of give me a warm glow, and make me realize how much she did for me, and never asked for anything in return. 

When I was a kid, I was in a pretty bad car accident and spent a lot of time in the hospital and then recuperating at home.  When I first came home, I guess I was around 5.  For a while I had trouble walking and used to stay on the living room couch.  I don’t really remember that much about the time.  It was a long time ago, after all.  However, I do remember with great fondness that she would make me sandwiches for lunch and always cut up some carrot sticks or pickles and lay them on top of the sandwich.  Sometimes she cut the sandwich into small squares or triangles to make it interesting.  It really showed how much she strove to make my day fun and happy, even though I am sure that she was stressed and worried about my health, and about her own personal life and that of my father.

Another memory I have which is really a good one, is that when I was in junior high school and high school, we would take a ‘mental health day’ as she called it.  Once a year, towards the end of course, she would call me out sick from school and take me to the beach, or exploring somewhere fun.  It would be just the two of us.  Since I had no siblings, this probably was not as hugely momentous as if I was in a family of five, but again it helped us to keep our bond, which has never broken, despite the inevitable teenage bickering and the hectic lives that we now lead.

The last one I am going to share is just a very simple one, but I think about it often, especially when sick.  I was in my twenties and I had the good fortune to be living fairly close to my parents, about 15 minutes.  In fact I have not lived that close since.  I had a cold, or maybe sinus infection, and was feeling pretty lousy.  My mom stopped at the local diner on her way home, which made incredible matzoh ball soup, and picked me up a container and brought it to my apartment, not far but not really on her way home.  I have always maintained that chicken broth makes me feel better, and its the one main thing I do for a cold.  I know that just the act of my mother bringing a carton of soup to me was what really made me recover.  She took care of me, and that was what really mattered. 

People always say that you really don’t begin to grasp what a mother does until you have children of your own.  I think in part it’s true.  But if you love someone so much that you’re willing to do almost anything to help them and protect them, than you get the idea, even if you have no children.   Now that I have two of my own, both of whom are always moving in opposite directions, I really appreciate how much my mother gave to me and helped prepare me to be an independent woman.   I only hope that when my daughters are my age they will be able to look back on their childhood with such fond memories.  No flowers, candy, or even  reciprocating saw (which my mom got one year) can ever say how much is in my heart when I think of my mom.  Happy Mother’s day to all of us moms.  Especially mine. I love you, mom.

The Fire

A few weeks ago there was a fire in the house next door to ours.  A fire is always scary.  It’s unexpected and the damage can be devastating.  Our house is a townhouse, so there are 6 houses in a row all attached.  I have known people who have had house fires before, but had never been on the scene when the fire trucks and police were in action.  Because the fire happened on a friday evening at dinner time, and in such a neighborhood, there were a large number of kids in the crowd, including mine, and the kids who lived in the house on fire.  Kids always have their own way of dealing with situations so it is interesting to see the differences between them and the adults.  The fire started in the attic of the attached house.  We didn’t notice anything at first, except that when I stepped outside to check on my youngest who was playing with her friend, the air seemed smoky, but it wasn’t from grilling.  I came back into the house, telling my oldest, who was helping with dinner that we should see what was going on, because there was a lot of smoke around.  I knew what a house fire smelled like but thought that it was in another neighborhood.  My first instinct was to get my other daughter while we figured out what was going on.  We went outside and I saw a few other neighbors.  My youngest came running up followed by her friends.  After a few minutes my next door neighbor came out and said there was a fire in the house.  They have a few children of various ages.  After a few minutes everyone was shepherded outside, and I think the fire company must have received about twenty calls simultaneously.   Luckily we live right down the street from the fire chief who was on his way home anyway, so he was the first on the scene.  After what seemed like a long time but was in reality about 10 minutes a policeman showed up, instructing me to get all of my animals out, and then the fire trucks right behind him.  As the sirens sounded, the crowd outside our block of houses grew larger, and most of the people there were unfamiliar to me.  We watched the fire men pulling hoses and ladders down, trying to calm the kids who lived in that house.  One little neighbor decided her job would be to try to calm my cat, who clutched my neck throughout the entire hour and a half in a panic.  Some of the other kids were more interested in my daughter’s guinea pigs than in the fire.  Both of my daughters alternately cried or tried to comfort their friends.  We adults all stood around watching with concern, glad that the family was safe, but worried that the fire might spread.  We chatted uneasily and I got to know a few more neighbors.  I could sense the tension filling the adults on our side of the street.  After about an hour and a half of standing around with the growing crowd, the firefighters packed it up.  After advising me of the smoke smell in my own house and the necessity of having to knock out the roof vent, we were cleared for re-entry.  The kids had all calmed down by this time.  My youngest took it upon herself, after the firemen started to pack up, to grab half a case of water bottles from our garage and give them out to any one who was thirsty.  She is pretty smart for a five-year old.  My older daughter was busy trying to find clothes for the teenager whose room had been burned in the fire, deaf to my advice to wait until the family was settled.  Finally I was able to persuade them that we could pick up some happy meals for the younger neighbors and put a hold on searching for old clothes for a girl who was at least twice as tall as my daughter.  The days that followed were slightly smoky and filled with strange sounds emanating from trucks and inspectors trooping around next door.  Since both my girls were very concerned, I suggested they ask our church to collect some clothes suitable for a teenager, with the result of a very cute and mostly audible speech by my 5-year-old to the entire congregation.  A few days after the fire, save for the absence of our neighbors, the whole incident had been forgotten by the kids.  They have not been scarred in any way or had any nightmares about fires, which is good since I did.  The whole unexpected episode on that friday evening reinforced my belief that children really are far more practical creatures than adults.  While we worry about the future, they are busy dealing with the present.

March is not for the faint of heart

And so it begins.  It’s the annual St Patrick’s day rush, winding up slowly from the beginning of February until the end of March.   Growing up in an Irish American family, we did the usual St Patrick’s day celebrations, on St. Patrick’s day.  We all wore green and drank green milkshakes and all those goofy things.   We even made Irish soda bread.  For the past 3 years however, there has been a lot more to the annual green holiday.  After seeing some Irish  dancing in a parade, my daughter who was already in ballet, decided to go for it.  She took to the class like a pro.  It was all she did.  She bobbed around the living room constantly, her feet flying, making me truly glad to be able to live out my dream vicariously through her.  I had never been able to see Riverdance and it’s my solemn belief that I have suffered greatly.  That first spring was quite a surprise to me.  I was completely unprepared for all of the parades and little shows that the dancers were going to participate in.  Far from my blissfully peaceful image of the doting mom (me) watching her adorable little dancer go marching down the street, I ended up being sucked into the entourage of parent helpers who walked the parade route along side of the dancers, carrying banners or providing camera footage.  Wow, was I out of shape.  Barely a mile, and I had to spend the rest of the day on the couch recovering.   It was the best feeling though, at the end.  There was such a feeling of camaraderie, and of pride.  And the best thing was, that it was only the beginning of the ‘season’ as we call it in the business.   Both my daughter and I were immensely proud to be sharing in our Irish heritage, discounting the fact that my grandmother who came from Ireland probably would have rather learned the Tarantella than admit to liking Irish dancing.  This feeling of belonging and wellbeing far outweighed the cold of March winds, the inconvenience of having to walk entire parade routes with a small child in tow,  and of driving to numerous dark unknown places to watch her dance in front of women’s leagues or half empty school cafeterias.  Now, on the cusp of March, I am looking forward to all of the new parades this year with as much excitement as my Irish dancer.  At the very least I will be getting some much-needed exercise, which I will make sure to combine with several bags of chocolate chips.

Eire go Brach!

Summer vacation anyone?

Last week was almost the end of February.  Despite the milder temperatures this year, I pulled on another sweater and started to plan…summer?  I suppose I had it lucky when I was a kid.  My parents even more so, I realize now.  Every year was pretty similar.  Once school let out in June, hoards of kids with itchy legs, from having to sit so long, would crowd outside to enjoy the summer.  We were so excited that there was no homework and no desks or bag lunches.  That lasted about a week and a half.  Then summer became hot.  And sticky.  By mid July we were all bored out of our head from sitting in the back yard asking each other what should we do that day.  Fortunately there was always the swim club.  Our town had two of them.  Most kids went to one of those.  But for the most part, there was always a parent on hand in the summer; and the only people I knew of who went to sleep away camp were on TV.  I really don’t consider myself that old, but things have really changed.  First, even in families where there are two parents, most of them both work.  That means the kids can’t spend the summer getting bored out of their head and end up being actually happy to start school.  Second is a discovery that since no one lets their kids go play by themselves anymore, most of the time there are no large groups congregating on the playgrounds and front yards.  My neighborhood is about as lively as a ghost town in Nevada.  So even if you were at home during the day, your kids wouldn’t want to go outside.  I don’t blame them, I’d much rather be bored out of my head with a couple of friends.  Instead , now we register our kids for some kind of activity, some child care (don’t call it that in front of the pre-teen crowd!) from the moment they leave school to the moment it opens again in September.  It also means that kids no longer have what we used to call ‘summer vacation.’  For the most part, they all wake up at the same time so their parents can get to work.  If they are lucky, there is a summer camp with nice lakes or arts and crafts near by, but of course, the nicer it is the steeper the price.  By the end of summer, there is no excitement about school starting anymore, it seems that it’s just a movement from one location to the other, with the added bonus of homework of course.  Now, instead of looking forward to summer, I find myself in the midst of a mild panic attack when I think about what used to be the best season of all.

Kids on Religion

In an age when most of our 9 year olds can manipulate our smart phones better than us, it is refreshing to come across a situation which is humorously innocent.  During the summer my daughter had befriended several girls her own age who lived near her father.  I would hear about them from time to time, glad that she had someone to play with besides her younger sister.  Apparently the girls had come of an age where they had successfully completed their first communion.  This momentous event was unknown to my daughter since we went to a church which did not celebrate that particular milestone.  She asked me about it several times and I explained that it was something that some churches did and some did not.  I told her we went to a church which gave communion at any age.  That was that, or so I thought.  One evening after her father had dropped her off, she mentioned that her step brother was also going to be having his first communion shortly.  She informed me that he had told her she was not allowed to take communion until the first communion was completed and that we were sadly misinformed.  WhenI calmly explained that we can take communion at our church, for the 17th time, she promptly  exhibited a category 3 tantrum.   She demanded to be taken to any church which did have first communion classes, immediately, otherwise she would never be able to take the sacrament again.  Deaf to my explanations and rationalizations, she finally admitted that she hadn’t taken communion since summer, several months before.  Apparently the little girls next door to her father’s house knew far more about religion than me, so I did the only thing that a parent, helpless in the face of  that particular stubbornness 9 year olds exhibit, can do.  I got the priest and deacon from our church to sit down and explain things to her since she couldn’t very well argue theology with them.  Fortunately for me, their conversations went well and I had no more histrionics about communion.  At least my 5-year-old daughter has a very different way of looking at  things.  As is her way she generally wanders between sunday school and the back of the church where I sit with the choir.  On one such occasion, she came up to me and whispered casually “Did I miss the drinkin’?” 

The joy of biking

At about the midpoint of summer last year I had gotten myself a bike.  Nothing fancy, just your ordinary basic bike, with shiny red paint and nice silvery chrome.  It had been a spur of the moment purchase.  I bought a bike for my boyfriend for his birthday and had the vague notion that we would go for meandering rides around the neighborhood together.  I pictured myself riding down to the park with my daughters, something which actually proved more difficult than I thought, having to stop every 20 feet and wait for my youngest.  My boyfriend planned to do some long distance riding; using it as an exercise tool.  Not me though, my definition of long distance was a mile.  I was content to run around the house with my dust cloth and count that as exercise.  And if you have ever had to run up and down the stairs five times before seven o’clock in the morning, that is definitely exercise.   Needless to say my daughters were also very excited I had gotten a bike.  I think they found it amusing to watch a grown woman making a fool of herself by wobbling around on a bike.  My boyfriend took to biking enthusiastically.  He would ride before work or with a friend, going for miles and coming back drenched and muddy.  I accompanied him on a sedate four mile ride one afternoon feeling like I had run a marathon.  But it was exhilarating.  Plus I didn’t have to stop every 20 feet for a little kid to catch up which was an added plus.  We decided to go on a particularly picturesque ride along the Delaware River, after all I had made it four miles without keeling over, what was another ten.  After much pouring over websites of different paths and looking at videos of biking, we decided on a path and made out way toward the river, decked out in appropriate gear and equipped with water and snacks.  The day was a beautiful one, less humid than usual for August and sunny.  We started off, along the canal that borders the river.  I felt wonderful for at least the first two miles.  There was something so freeing about riding a bike where no car could get to.  Fellow bicyclists passed by or pulled over and let us pass, we all gave each other cheery waves and felt very  superior to those poor saps driving cars on highways.  The views of the river and canal, as well as the old houses along the way, were incredible and I was feeling very lucky to experience them.  The sun shone down on fields and the marshy bit of land by the river and made swaths of light on the water  All in all it as breathtaking and I felt like an intrepid explorer discovering amazing views right in my own state.   After that it started getting difficult, but I doggedly kept up.  Some parts of the path were quite muddy, and I found a childlike joy at riding through the mud puddles and not caring if my socks got dirty.  It was very un-mom like.  We passed stone bridges which were so low we had to bend over out handlebars when we passed underneath.  I needed to stop several times to catch my breath but still insisted that we slog on.  Finally we neared the halfway point of the fourteen mile round trip.  A quaint town on the river would be perfect for a long rest.  Which I needed.  By that time I was staggering under the weight of my own body and could barely feel my wrists and hands.  Sweat plastered my hair to my head and dripped into my eyes.  My boyfriend looked cool and composed of course.  We found a place to eat, had some lunch and revived.  After that I started to feel almost human again and felt ready for the return trip.  I anticipated that he would have to carry my unconscious body half way back to the car.  I was in for a surprise however.  Once on my bike, I felt great.  Energy coursed through me and I pounded the pedals like never before.  The wind blew in my face, and a group of little yellow butterflies  even flew with me for a while.  This was definitely not something you could experience in a car or even on a walk.  I only needed one break on the 7 mile return journey even.  True, as I slowed to a stop by an old stone bridge overlooking a green meadow, I fell over.  I hadn’t exactly mastered the art of getting the bike to stop and getting off yet.  But that was OK.  Still feeling great, we rested for a few minutes and then rode back to the car.  The rest of the day was spent on the couch since I found that my legs had mysteriously disappeared after driving home.  The incredibly virtuous feeling held however, and now, as I look toward spring with great anticipation and grab another handful of chocolate chips, I know that this year will hold even more fantastic rides in it.