Friday, April 30, 2010

A little reflection

I haven't been writing in this space too much. Some of that is due to being busy writing for other spaces. Most of it is that I just haven't had too much that I've wanted to share.

It's been a tough few weeks, frankly. I did feel a good energy and productivity bounce when the kids returned to school on Monday after a week-plus at home, but overall, I've been in a bit of a funk. Not feeling good about my mothering skills, my patience level, my home, my body, you name it, I'm funky about it.

My candidate lost my town's selectman's race (by 32 votes -- approximately 1%) and I've had a number of Charlie Brown-like experiences -- trying to do nice things and having them backfire; inadvertently inserting my car into the middle of a funeral procession to the annoyance of the mourners; being pestered by neighborhood dogs -- it just seems like it never ends.

I was talking with a friend today and realized, as I was explaining it to her, that a number of things in my usual schedule have been thrown off, too, sometimes with snowball effects. I didn't get to do my yoga last Sunday because the kids didn't all go to church with Earl. I didn't get to do my usual Wednesday-morning-paperwork extravaganza because I had an early medical appointment (which I was almost late for, because I didn't expect to have to pry open my frozen car doors or scrape the frost off my windshield on April 28, for crying out loud.) So the tension is building, as is the paper pile, which leads to more tension. But at the end of the long days of this week, all I've wanted to do is crawl into bed, paper pile or no paper pile.

Last night, the kids were awful, awful, and had an earlier-than-lately bedtime. Feeling relieved that they were in bed before I was dead tired, myself, I thought I'd watch a little TV. Everyone raves about Mad Men, so I picked an episode from the On-Demand menu, and was promptly disturbed by the opening titles, which showed an animated silhouette of a man falling next to a skyscraper. Instantly I was transported back to September 12, 2001, when Katie Couric held up the front page of The New York Times on the "Today" show. The photo was of a well-dressed businessman, free-falling to his certain death with the World Trade Center in the background.

Maybe it's more than a funk. I think I'm having a really tough time.

Now, if I go the raindrops-on-roses-and-whiskers-on-kittens route, I have many things to be cheerful, or at least un-funky, about. Overall good health. A wonderful husband; three great kids. A home, meaningful work I enjoy, a comfortable standard of living. I know all these things, and am so thankful for them. Really.

I think what I am is tired. Tired physically, from cutting out most sugar in my diet and pushing myself to exercise more, and never getting as much sleep as I really need. Tired of hearing "Mom!" 84 times a day; tired of the routine of work and caring for a family and a house. I wish we could go on a vacation, just Earl and me, and rest for a week. I think that would recharge me, more than anything.

Since I don't see that as a possibility in the near future, I think I'll go to bed early. Goodnight.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Today's column

Today is a day off from the kids' swimming lessons. A couple of weeks ago was a different story. Today's family column is here. Enjoy!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Ups and downs

It's Friday of school vacation week. In some ways it's been a really good time.

The best part of the week has been Abby's participation in the Lose the Training Wheels program. She has learned to ride a two-wheeler independently, and I am so, so proud of her. Watching her ride yesterday, I thought my heart would burst. I took photos and video, but was so far away that they're not very clear. I am hoping that today, on the last day of the program, I'll be able to get closer and take some good shots.

Learning to ride is a major accomplishment for Abby. She's proud of herself, and pleased with her progress. She's also really tired, both from the physical effort and the mental effort of trying to stay engaged with her program helpers, and also being aware of her surroundings as she rides. This has made for some difficult times at home, naturally. I do think that all that effort will pay off this summer, though, in giving her another activity she can enjoy, and that we can do together as a family.

Another highlight was that my mother was visiting. We had originally planned on making the trip to her home in western New York, but when the opportunity for Abby's bike camp came up, we changed our plans. I was so happy that Mom was here, and that she got home safely yesterday.

I also landed some writing work yesterday, and sold a couple of unwanted jewelery pieces at a gold party last night. I only made about $40, but there was another woman there who made $1300, and a couple of others who walked away with $700. I just didn't have that much gold that I wanted to part with, but some others really cashed in. It was fun.

The rest of the week has been a mixed bag. I've not been at my best in terms of mothering, which has been making me feel a little sad. I've been doing moderately successful with eating well, although I went a wild on the tortilla chips at the gold party last night. I've also been keeping to my exercise commitment, even hitting the gym first thing yesterday morning.

The most difficult thing has been hearing the kids say "Mom" every 15 seconds, for 14 hours a day. Today's cycle is starting now. Time to get the boys' breakfast.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A couple of articles

Goodness, it's been a long time since I've written here. Part of that is due to my working on a couple of pieces for the Ledger (links below). Another part is because it's school vacation week, and mommy time has supplanted writing time. And the time that's left has been spent with my Mom, who was visiting from Rochester.

No matter. Here is my preview of Sunday's pops concert by the Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, and here is my review of the Milton Players' production of "Leading Ladies." It's column week, to, so I'll have that up in a couple of days.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Go with the flow

A friend lent me a Baron Baptiste yoga DVD a few months ago, which I've enjoyed. It's a beginner-level thing, and I can do most of the poses, even if not perfectly. Baron is good about reminding people that it's not about perfection, anyway. I really like it.

Mindful that I can't keep the DVD forever, I ordered "The Yoga Bootcamp Box," also by Baron. I peeked inside the box this week, and decided that, while sending myself away for a weekend to do nothing but practice yoga, meditate, walk and journal would be lovely, it's not really a possibility right now. But, knowing I'd have some time alone this morning, I listened to the guided meditation first thing, and then decided to attempt not the reasonable, 20-minute pose sequences, but to go for the big one, the 75-minute flow.

Let's just say that by the time we got to child's pose (or the "Thank God asana," as Baron put it) I was ready for it.

Even with many, many modifications, I discovered I have a long way to go. Power yoga is not for sissies. Or fatties. Eating a breakfast of chocolate-chip pancakes beforehand is not recommended, either.

But I survived, and, if I don't think about how stiff and weak I felt or how lumpy I looked, I realize I did enjoy it, sort of. It's more of a feeling of being intrigued and wanting to try again. Ommmm.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Surgery follow-up

Earl's surgery on Monday went very smoothly. He is healing nicely and being a very good patient. Best of all, the pathology report came back yesterday, and the cancer was completely removed. It's a load off all our minds.

Monday morning, Abby's stomach was still "squeezy," and I realized it was anxiety over Earl's surgery, not a stomach bug, that was causing her nausea. Poor girl! She barely held it together until she got to school, but then was fine for the rest of the day. She's still not eating as much as she normally would, and seems a little anxious, although she's not talking about it. She will probably feel much better when Earl resumes his normal schedule in a few days.

I've been feeling a little squeezy, myself, for a few different reasons. The surgery was on my mind, of course, and waiting for the lab results was tough, too. Then I had to call an editor to discuss a new project -- more exciting than anxiety-provoking, but I still got a little nervous. Then, of course, it was time to do taxes, which isn't nervewracking but it's not fun, either.

Thankfully, all that is behind me. Here's to cancer-free husbands, non-squeezy daughters, the end of tax season, and exciting writing projects to work on. Things are looking up.

Better-late-than-never bunny cake

Third annual bunny cake, with three pastry chefs
Timmy, Brian, Abby

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter list

I want to write some record of Easter, but am too tired to put a serious effort into it. Here are the highlights:
  • Hysterically funny chocolate-egg hunt, commencing at 6:30 a.m. The Bunny hid eggs everywhere -- in shoes, in toys, on shelves, in tissue boxes, and, Abby reported, 16 of them in her room alone. It was sweet to see the kids so excited, especially the boys.
  • Abby was more subdued, and by the time we sat down to breakfast, we understood why. For the first time in her life, she didn't want the special twice-a-year cinnamon rolls (some people are Christmas and Easter Catholics; we're Christmas and Easter cinnamon roll people.) She excused herself and read one of her new books the Bunny brought (Pick of the Litter, perfect fiction for a juvenile dog-lover.)
  • I dashed off to sing the 7:45 mass, doing my makeup in the car, hoping Abby wouldn't get sick on her way to church at 9:00.
  • Checked voice mail between masses. Abby thought she would be OK, but ended up too nauseous to come to church; Earl turned the van around and went home. Disappointed, I sang the 9:00 mass and made a hasty exit.
  • Timmy informed me when I got home that Abby was feeling "squeezy."
  • He had also told me last night, when discussing Earl's pet allergies, that it was a good thing the Easter Bunny doesn't shed.
  • Abby slowly improved throughout the morning, even eating a light breakfast. By the time the lamb (lamb! on a squeezy stomach!) was done at 1:30, she had made a full recovery.
  • Gorgeous, gorgeous day here. Yummy dinner, good company, and a family hike in the Blue Hills, followed by more backyard fun. It's such a treat to be outdoors and not freezing.
  • Too many wonderful desserts. Bunny cake (photo forthcoming), ricotta pie, a few other things. Mmmmm.
  • Lots of other sweet things -- Brian calling his worry stone (with a cross on it) in his basket his "holy stone"; kids wanting to stay in their church clothes until Grammy and Grampy got here, even though they never actually went to church in those clothes; kids playing by the stream in the Blue Hills; Brian saving his special baseball Easter-egg shaped brownie for the game tonight; Earl reading today's Gospel to the kids and discussing it with them after they decided they couldn't go to church.

It was a great day, and tomorrow is a big day, with Earl's surgery. I'm hoping for a smooth procedure and an easy recovery for him, and that we both keep this Easter joy in our hearts.

Easter 2010

The sun isn't up yet, although I think Abby is. I hear her walking around upstairs, but she's being quiet about it. The Easter Bunny usually leaves chocolate eggs for the kids to find, even in their rooms, so I bet she's on her own little treasure hunt.

My living room is perfumed with the sweet fragrance of hyacinths. Earl bought a pot of them for his mother, beautiful purple, each flower heavy with a hundred little blossoms.

Birds are chirping outside, knowing that the sun is coming. Some folks, my in-laws among them, are undoubtedly preparing for sunrise services outside, commemorating Jesus' Resurrection.

I'm singing masses at 7:45 and 9:00, and although that's plenty early, the sun will be up by then. I always feel a little sorry for the 7:45 crowd, which is used to a quick and quiet mass at that hour. No doubt the trumpet and full organ will be a bit of a jolt to their nerves. They'll leave church knowing they've celebrated, for sure.

I wish you and yours a blessed and joyous Easter, whether or not the Bunny comes to your house. It's going to be a beautiful day.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Autism Awareness month

April is Autism Awareness month. Oh, we're always aware of it in our house, although it's such part of the fabric of our family that we hardly notice it sometimes. This is made easier by the fact that Abby's Asperger Syndrome and Brian's PDD-NOS are milder than the diagnoses of many on the autism spectrum.

My general acceptance of autism in our family is a relatively new thing. When Abby was first diagnosed (with PDD-NOS) it was as if we were told our beautiful four-year-old had a debilitating, incurable disease. My head swam with horrifying thoughts: She'll never have any friends. She'll end up in an institution. She'll never hold a job, never get married, never live independently. She'll never be the daughter I hoped she would be.

More than four years later, I can say that she has some friends and many positive acquaintances. She won't be institutionalized for her Asperger's. In all likelihood, she will develop the necessary skills to find rewarding work as an adult. She already wants her own place to live when she grows up, so she can get a dog. And who knows if anyone will get married, disability or no disability?

She isn't the daughter I had originally hoped for (and that would be the perfect child every first-time mother hopes for) but she's the daughter she is and I wouldn't trade her. For the record, I'm not the mother I hoped to be, either, but we're doing all right together.