Random Thoughts: The I’m in Over My Head Edition

1. Kate is receiving her First Holy Communion this weekend, and we are having a picnic on Sunday with nearly 70 people (including children) attending. (Thank you everyone who promptly RSVP’ed after my post mentioning that!)

And I haven’t ordered food yet. So. Gotta get on that.

2. One of the things I wanted to do was make vegetarian baked beans for the picnic. We’re having fried chicken, and macaroni and potato salad, and a crudite tray, and the like. It’s hard to get prepared baked beans without bacon.

Here’s something I learned: after soaking beans overnight, you still have to cook them before you use them in a recipe.

I learned that the hard way.

I have been a vegetarian for more than 20 years. And I didn’t know that. This is my first time attempting to recipe with dried beans. So far, I’m not very impressed with myself.

I’m going to try to correct the problem this evening so I’m on track for Sunday. Wish me luck.

3. Still no dress for LTYM. I have an outfit in mind — one already in my closet. And a friend is sending a couple of things from her closet for me to try on.

4. Just for shits and giggles (why SHITS and giggles?) here’s what the rest of my week looks like: Thursday: Order food; shop at Target. Bonus: I will only have M in tow; Dan has the girls until they all come home tonight.

Friday: Attend happy hour for departing colleague. Let’s talk HIGH TURNOVER in my department, shall we? Aunt is picking up Flora (at soccer practice) and M (from daycare); Kate is attending 1st Holy Communion practice and having a sleepover. Aside: This may be a terrible decision on my part, letting her sleep over a friend’s house. I’m going to make every take a rest on Saturday to counteract any negative effects.

Saturday: Flora needs to be at a birthday party at 10 a.m. at the Warhol Museum downtown. Again, allowing her to attend this party may be another miscalculation on my part. Trying to fit in too much in one day. M and I will be strolling around the museum while she is at this party, because I’m not running all over the place. I should probably be home cleaning the house instead. But, you know, culture n’at.

On the plus side, my parents are meeting us at the museum around noon, in order to take the children back to the house, while I go to Sewickley to have hairs ripped out of various body parts. I’m pretty sure this appointment is in service to LTYM and not Kate’s 1st Holy Communion, but neat eyebrows are never inappropriate.

I’m not really sure how or when Kate is getting to me. We’re still working on that detail. She has a hair appointment, at the house, to get pretty — sorry, get prettier — for her big event at 2 p.m.

We need to be to the church at 4:30 p.m. Mass starts at 5 p.m.

I have no idea what we are actually doing for dinner. Maybe someone else will make that decision for me.

Sunday: Party day. I’m probably sending various people to pick up various things before we get started.

Another plus: I have people bringing cookies. We’re having a Pittsburgh cookie table at Kate’s party! This is probably my only smart decision of the weekend. Well, that and accepting my parents’ help, which is a given — that I would accept, not that I assume they will help.

5. Dan is going out of town the following weekend. I repeat: DAN IS GOING OUT OF TOWN FROM APRIL 30 TO MAY 3.

6. And we start dog sitting this little fellow May 2.

Oscar dog

I may be insane.

Just drop off bourbon for me and maybe do a food drop for the children. The pup will have his own supplies.

Are you in over your head this week?

Word Definition with Michael

When I picked up Michael recently, sans the girls (Dan was giving them a ride home from his office), he asked to sit in our third row seat — what we call the backy-back.

I said sure, moved his car seat, and got him belted in.

Glancing back as I was driving home, I saw M pick up a can of seltzer water that one of the girls had left in the backy-back cup holder from the weekend and take a sip. I thought, “Ugh.”

“Well, dat was a bad idea,” he declared a moment later.

“Yeah, I bet,” I said.

“It was an accident,” he said.

M does this a lot, says things are accidents when he’s very clearly chosen to do something that doesn’t turn out well. I’m starting to get a little concerned about it, because I don’t want him shrugging off responsibilities for his actions.

“Buddy, I’m not sure you know what that means,” I said. “Do you know what an accident is?”

“Sure. It’s something dat you’re sorry for.”

That would explain a lot.

M at the Children's Museum

Not an accident.

America’s Screwy Priorities or My Week on Twitter

So a Twitter friend tweeted this news story: http://www.wtae.com/national/sheriff-no-one-tried-to-stop-beach-gangrape/32361986

Which prompted me to say this:

And this:

IT’S NOT HARD, PEOPLE! Rape is an actual crime; drugging a woman on spring break and then publicly assaulting her — ILLEGAL. Standing around and watching, ALSO A CRIME. Shades of The Accused right there.

The part that depressed me the most about the news story? “This is isn’t the first tape. It’s not the second tape.”

THIS KEEPS HAPPENING. AND NO ONE DOES JACK SHIT.

What is wrong with those people? Call the cops.

Now, crazy-passionate Maryland “free range” parents aside — I know a lot of people think something is fishy with the Meitevs’ story — actually letting children play outside alone, especially if they are over, say, 8 years old is not illegal. Fingers may get itchy seeing children walking or biking around the neighborhood without direct adult supervision, but guess what? NOT ILLEGAL.

(Yes, if you see a toddler wandering in the street, you may call the cops.)

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And then of course:

There is not a scale in the men’s room; I asked.

Now, if the scale is there because women do Weight Watchers and need to monitor their weight, that’s… well, I guess having a scale in the ladies’ room is an option. However, I am seriously thinking of asking the person who put the scale in the ladies’ room to move it into the coat room. Equal opportunity access.

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What screwed up priorities are in your life this week?

The Only Thing I Was Ever Good At

I am embarking on the job search, hard-core.

When you end up in the bathroom crying after a meeting — because you have plainly stated that what is being asked of you is impossible to accomplish in the amount of time you have been given, and been solidly and utterly unheard — it’s time to move on.

Looking around at open positions is depressing to me, for myriad reasons. Not the least of which being that I may just be trading one devil for another. And the devil you know…

So.

As I mentioned recently, I am not this job — I’ve learned better — but I am a writer. Writing is really the only thing at which I ever excelled. The only marketable job skill I have is writing. Well, writing and editing.

And it’s really the only thing I have ever wanted to do. Write. Edit to make writing better.

And I am GOOD at it. I especially excel at learning about something, or interviewing a person, and then writing about the thing or the person. Daguerreotypes. KVM systems. Wineries. Organ transplants.

I can capture a voice. I can create a voice. I can make technological products understandable and give you the information you need to know if you need to purchase them. I can tell you about a trainer and his philosophy. I can blog.

I am learning more every day about SEO, social media, analytics, and other online content. This is probably the next step in this writing career I have built — am building for myself. Providing content, performing analytics, managing social media. I still have a lot to learn, but I am learning it.

I am not a marketing guru. Do I know a few things about marketing? Sure I do. Am I learning each day about marketing? Again, sure. I’m not a dummy. But *marketing* isn’t what I do.

I just write. (And edit.)

Headliner

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— This is the headline and the opening of my personal favorite thing I ever wrote. I really need to get a pdf of it online somewhere.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Random Thoughts: The On Assignment Edition

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1. I did not publish one post last week. I *wrote* one — it’s still pending, I’m not crazy about it. But I never got around to editing it, shaping into what I want it to be.

I’m a little busy, as you might imagine.

2. I am going to start an anonymous site called Open Office Hell. It will be about all the transgressions I witness now on a daily basis.

I gotta perfect stealth picture taking with my phone.

3. On Saturday, I had the choice to run around like a headless chicken before getting my ass to LTYM rehearsal, or, basically, not doing that. i decided on the latter. I got up, did a yoga workout — note: chaturanga push-up are HARD, people — ate breakfast and had coffee, hung out with my children, and cleaned as much as I was able. I got the laundry next door; harassed the girls into doing their chores; vacuumed the front room, dining room, and stairs; organized the shoes, which seems to be an ongoing challenge; and wrote out the Costco list for Dan.

M followed me around, asking me to play with him. And finally, at 11 a.m., I sat down with him and we played Trouble, then did a puzzle together. The girls were outside, and over at Bella’s, because I had taken all the screens away from them. Thirty minutes of one-on-one time with my 4-year-old was way better than mopping my kitchen floor.

4. Hillary Clinton is officially running for president. Fine, good, very well.

Here’s the thing that I can’t take right now: Nearly two years of campaign bullshit. The Republicans are a hot mess thanks to the Tea Party, but obviously have to put someone in the race. Probably Jeb Bush — so we’ll have another Clinton-Bush race for the White House.

And let’s face it. It’s going to be ugly. It’s going to be sexist; it’s going to reveal the ugly truth of politics, that money controls all these people; and it’s going to stoke the crazies on the right because Benghazi. Know what I’m saying?

I’m probably going to have to check out of social media at some point, and I may have to stop going to some family events until it’s all over. Unless we explicitly agree not to talk politics.

5. So far, very few people are coming to Kate’s First Holy Communion party, and I’m feeling bummed out about it. More people have RSVP’ed no than have RSVP’ed at all. So if you got an invitation, please let me know you’re coming — no church is involved for you heathens (whom I love!). Just a picnic!

6. LTYM Updates:

a. We had rehearsal in the venue on Saturday. It’s a lovely space, and I think it’s going to serve us well in terms of standing and reading, or sitting and listening as we will be doing during the show. I was nervous about the microphone, but I think it’s going to be fine.

b. Stage lights are HOT. So, I need to take that into account as the dress search continues. I had picked this one (thanks to @mattieflap who did most of my shopping for me) from ModCloth, but the size I ordered was too small. I think don’t the right size is going to work with the long sitting time under the lights.

c. SO, I still don’t have a dress. I’m trying not to panic. I need a natural fabric; a dress with some structure to it; and something that is also comfortable to sit and move in. I’m thinking some kind of maxi dress — of which I have a couple that can work in a pinch.

d. Tina made us all CDs!

LTYM CD

I think we should take this “baby” song idea and run with it! What songs would you add?

God So Loved the World

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I read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry today. (The Book Thief is better, IMO, richer. But Flora’s class read Number the Stars.)

This is from the afterword by the author. In case you can’t read it, let me transcribe it:

“… And I want you all to remember that you must not dream yourselves back to the times before the war, but the dream for you all, young and old, must be to create an ideal of human decency, and not a narrow-minded and prejudiced one. That is the great gift our country hungers for, something every little peasant boy can look forward to and with pleasure feel he is a part of — something he can work and fight for.”

It is the holiest part of the year for my faith, for my religion. And this is the message that Jesus came to bring us: Love one another. And these are the words from a century ago, from a peasant boy who was killed for fighting to save other people — people he may not have even known, people whose faith he may not have shared.

He wanted to save them because they were fellow humans. Jesus wants us to love one another because we are all flawed people who are in this together.

It’s so simple.

Last night was the washing of feet. Jesus told us, “If you will lead, you must first serve.”

It’s so simple.

Jesus came to give us a new covenant. A new commandment.

Will you follow? Will you serve?

#PghGBE: Confessions of a Reluctant Mom

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Today’s post comes from Britt Reints of In Pursuit of Happiness, and is part of a special day of shenanigans from other Pittsburgh Bloggers. I especially love this post because it feels like something I could’ve written myself.

You can see my post over on Orange Chair Blog, where I write about how different tastes don’t detract from a good relationship.

I have a confession to make: I never wanted to be a mother.

In fact, I suspect I wasn’t actually meant to be a mother.

I didn’t grow up playing with dolls or fantasizing about having babies. I played office—always the boss—and sketched pictures of the skyscrapers I’d someday live in. I made lists of countries I’d travel to, not baby names, and to this day I dream of growing old in a tiny apartment crammed with more books and souvenirs than grandchildren.

Despite all that, I am a mother. I have two kids, aged 10 and 15, and I love them truly, madly, and deeply.

But most of the time I feel like taking care of them the way they deserve requires me to work against my natural tendencies.

It is not in my nature to nurture. Inspire? Encourage? Motivate? Absolutely. But feed, clothe, and coddle? Not so much.

I’m a big fan of autonomy. You do your thing, I’ll do mine, and we’ll meet up over cocktails and small plates to share stories and lessons learned.

Children are not autonomous. They require active guidance and constant tending. They’re like gardens – which I am also very, very bad at.

So, I am raising resourceful children, children who can make meals from leftovers and lunch meat in a pinch and who can keep themselves entertained when mommy needs a nap, children who do their own homework and make their own beds. I know that’s not an entirely bad thing: resourcefulness and independence are good qualities for adults to have. But I worry that I’m not teaching them these skills with enough intention, that I’m really just dealing with my own shortcomings.

I worry a lot, actually.

I worry that I don’t push them enough. I worry that I don’t hover enough. I worry that they are getting the short end of the metaphorical stick because they were born to a mother who wasn’t supposed to be one.

I feel guilty for their lot in life, but I don’t regret mine.

As unnatural and unnecessary as motherhood is to me, it has also been very, very good for me – precisely because it has not come easily.

I could have effortlessly blossomed into a child-free happiness. Instead, motherhood has chiseled, ground, buffed, and polished me into a hard-fought, unnatural happiness.

Motherhood has forced me to learn skills that I might not have needed but for which I’ll forever be grateful. It’s taught me about vulnerability, strength, holding on, and letting go. It’s taught me about loving someone more than yourself.

Most importantly, motherhood has stretched me beyond my boundaries, beyond my fate, and taken me into the realm of possibilities and choice. It has showed me that we can become anyone we want, even a person we never thought we were “supposed to” be.

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— Britt says, “Pbbththt.”

What do you do that you think is against your natural tendencies?

It’s especially timely that Britt got to hang out here today. She and I are both reading at the Listen to Your Mother show. I hope to see you there!

Random Thoughts: The High-Low-High Edition

Thanks to the advice of a local parenting expert, Dr. Deborah Gilboa (on Twitter as @AskDrG), I started “playing” a game with my children at dinner time called High-Low-High. Each day we strive to recount one low point and two high points of our day to share with each other.

The girls are tougher than Michael at this point — Kate gets goofy, Flora claims she doesn’t remember anything. Michael LOVES to share his day, though!

We had a very high-low-high weekend.

High: Saturday started with nice coffee date with the baby loss mother I’ve been seeing. We tried a new place, Anchor and Anvil Coffee in Ben Avon, and I highly recommend it. She was in good spirits. She had had a dream of her son the night before, and she was getting comfortable with the fact that she didn’t want another child. Flora had to come with us to the coffee shop (she recommends the snickledoodle muffin), and I introduced her as my “rainbow baby.”

And my friend said, “I don’t think I’m going to have a rainbow baby.” And she sounded FINE about it.

This, as you may imagine, is unusual in the baby loss community — she may be a party of one — but she was very upbeat and positive. And that is good to see.

High: Saturday afternoon, as a family we went to go see Home, which is a very entertaining, very sweet animated film. We met Dr. Bro and two nephews at the theater (this was a birthday gift from us to the nephews) and took up eight seats. Afterward, we went over Dr. Bro’s house, ordered takeout, and let the kids tear around the house while we hung out.

It’s really nice to voluntarily hang out with family.

Eye See You! This is what happens when I try to get a candid shot of Kate.

Eye See You! This is what happens when I try to get a candid shot of Kate.

Low: on the way home we hit a deer. We actually hit it about 100 yards from our house. No one was hurt; the damage to the car was minimal. The deer bounded away, so it seemed to be unharmed. Our insurance is taking care of everything, including a rental car if we need it. (Moral of the story: Buy the good insurance!)

Cracked bumper.

Oh, deer.

High: Sunday was another good day in general, although my front room did not get cleaned. I feel like we clean the same things over and over again. (As of this morning, it still needed to be finished and vacuumed. Maddening.) I ran errands alone; we had a nice family dinner — burgers, fries, and salad, a popular stand-by; the girls and I went to Palm Sunday mass, and they were well-behaved. It was a nice way to end the weekend.

Low: Monday morning was another fustercluck because despite my exhortations to get ready for Monday morning, my girls were not ready for Monday morning. One of them was running around like a chicken with her head cut off. I actually left her to get the other to school on time. Dan was unhappy with me. But you know what? She was ready on time this morning!

I have two more days in the office, one WFH day, and I’m off Friday and Monday. We are traveling to Erie for Easter. Next thing on my to-do list is to find some rain boots for my children!

What are your weekend high-low-highs?

The Reckoning

Text to Dan: Did you eat the rest of the pepperoni?

Dan’s reply: I don’t remember if I did or not.

Text to Dan: I can’t find it in meat drawer so I’m guessing you did. You’ll have to reckon with Michael later.

Reply: Yikes.

I went to break the news to Michael.

“Hey, buddy. I know I said there was pepperoni, but it looks, like Daddy ate it all.”

“Okay. Will you buy some more?”

“Yes, I’ll buy more next time I go shopping.”

“And will you tell Daddy not to eat it all?”

“You got it, bud.”

You’re on notice, Dan.

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After Because of Winn-Dixie

As I explained in my post about marathon day (no, not that kind of marathon), I had Flora’s Battle of the Books team make a list of 10 things about an important person in their lives. In Because of Winn-Dixie these list are poignant reminders of absent people. Opal asks her father to tell her 10 things about her mother. When Winn-Dixie runs away, Opal makes a list in her head of 10 things she wants to remember about him.

In the book, these lists are poignant, but I think they could serve another purpose, which is why I had the girls make lists. I thought it would be a good way to tell one person about another person in one’s life whom they hadn’t met.

After thinking about it, I decided to list 10 things about my friend Cari (also known around these parts as @mattieflap).

Here they are, in no particular order.

1. Cari has long red hair that she knows how to French braid her own self.

Cari, my red-headed friend.

*Really* long red hair.

2. She has been married to Scot for 13 years, and they have two boys. They also have two dogs.

3. Cari is a wonderful baker. She makes pies, cakes, and cookies. The first time she visited me (after M was born), she brought me like six dozen cookies. And they were all delicious. Her shortbread cookies are amazing.

4. She prefers red wine and Belgian beers.

5. She is originally from Michigan, and her parents still live there.

6. She may love YA dystopian fiction more than I do. Although we both hated Allegient. Here is her excellent rant/review.

7. She has pretty much clothed Michael for the past two years with hand-me-downs from her now 6-year-old.

8. She is of Scottish descent.* Correction: She is of IRISH descent. She’s married to a Scotsman. Oops!

9. She was engaged once before.

10. Cari is a good person, and a good friend. She does stuff for people, and never makes a big deal about it. Before my sister’s wedding, I wanted to get a wrap to wear with my dress in case the beach was cold. I had seen the perfect thing at JCPenney, but I hadn’t picked it up.

Cari offered to get it for me. I had a gift card, so I knew it wouldn’t put her out financially. After checking with her several times (rule of three: I will ask three times. “Are you sure it’s not trouble?” “You don’t mind doing this for me?” “Are you SURE?”), I “let” her pick up the wrap for me.

When I asked Twitter and FB about headshots for LTYM, she offered to come over and take them for me.

She’s just great.

Bonus fact: She gives me good chocolate.

Cari in blue.

SHE’S SO PRETTY!

If you had to describe someone in a list like this, who would you pick?

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