Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday reading/listening

While we head to an away game more than an hour from here (remember - Bridgewater United Con- away games means AWAY), north of Wayne, I have something for you to ponder.

Undercover at an Evangelical University
was on NPR last night. I am wondering what the parents did right to have this college junior be independent enough to come up with and follow through with such a project.

Researching and writing a book in your Junior year of college is an amazing feat. I couldn't imagine coming up with or doing this project, especially when I was his age. It took a lot of advance planning, getting a book deal, applying and being accepted to the university and taking leave from Brown. A Junior Year "Abroad" indeed. It probably felt more foreign sometimes than the country I spent my junior year in where the language was unfamiliar, not to mention those strange odie-boodie dialects. Still, in many ways culturally it was much the same. I remember how much planning that year took (applications, travel plans, visas, requests for leave from my home institution, and the fight to get my home school to accept the year's credit so I could graduate on time)... why didn't I think to get a book deal out of the year?

On the other hand - tricking everyone around you in the name of critically looking at a religious society could seem a pretty "jaded" and underhanded thing to do.

Of course, as any self-respecting freelance journalist, he has a website and a blog. You can learn more by reading it here. http://kevinroose.com/

You can be the final judge of his parents' methods and of the final product.

Off to soccer. Several players are injured, so C will have to produce the goods like never before if she wants to score.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Saturday in BW

C wanted to have 3 friends sleep over. I have traded that for a clean car - the girls have to wash my car as payment for a "s/o". In the end "only" two are coming.

Since I haven't got time to write today. Read this! I LOVE LISA B!

Maybe, just maybe people will stop judging me for letting my daughter walk places alone.

Or, maybe they won't...

Off to supervise the grand car wash.

N gets T over no-strings. Fair? YES!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Irish eyes smiling on us

Today I attended a funeral for my parents' friend. Dr. N was a great man and I feel for this family who has lost someone very special.

The memorial service was absolutely beautiful.

Although Dr. N was an accomplished physician - and did some cool things, like was the physician for a LPGA golf tournament and for the Watkins Glen Raceway with it's world-class racing, the eulogy given by his dear friend talked mostly about his capacity for love. He talked about how Dr. N was one of the only grown men he could say "I love you" to, as most men don't say that to one another. With him it felt natural.

Dr. N loved barbershop quartets. Some of the members of his group sang an Irish prayer. It was incredibly touching. He was also a lieutenant, so there were military honors as well. He loved fly fishing - and the minister noted "Jesus hung out with a lot of fishermen". The service covered many aspects of his life but actually very little on his medical career.

Lately I have been wondering what my place on this Earth should be, could be, is. Should I have been a doctor?

I don't think Dr. N worried about having a lofty career. He simply lived the best life he could and loved people for who they were. Yes - there were some complications, he married three times - but when at your funeral the theme is what a loving person you were and not the things you accomplished, then you lived a good life!

Rest in peace, Dr. N. If heaven exists, I hope you're hanging with my Mom!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday washing...

I just did something I almost never do: published a blog without editing it (see 5/24). I realized I hadn't published anything since Saturday and I wanted to get something up. Usually these things bite me in the butt...

Am back in the juxtaposition of my life: washing floors on my hands and knees while wondering about Obama's choice for Supreme Court, Sotomayor. (for any readers who are living on the moon: check out the New York Times as a NY native and judge from the area, I am sure it has more than enough information to keep you informed).

I'm thinking about a conversation I had with C yesterday in the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. I was blown away by the place - everything I loved to study in college all in a single building, but it was overcrowded hard for the kids to concentrate on the exhibit, so I'm definitely going back with the kids on another day. I told C that Pres. Obama is about to nominate someone to the Supreme Court, unbeknown to me that he would make the nomination that day. I explained that only 1 of the 9 members are a woman. What did she think about that? "Why should that matter?" A discussion is started. I look forward to further conversations.

In addition to cleaning, I'm singing to the music of my youth: Billy Joel, the Police, Cher, Les Miserables soundtrack, U2, The Cure. All on my iTunes playlist called "Cleaning Music". Some isn't from my childhood, but has a beat designed to get keep me moving.

"I'm a survivor (what),
I'm not gonna give up (what),
I'm not gon' stop (what),
I'm gonna work harder (what),
I'm a survivor (what),
I'm gonna make it (what),
I will survive (what),
Keep on survivin' (what)"

Ok, break's over, slacker!! Time to publish a 2nd unedited blog. I can edit the blog or clean 50 ft2 more of my house.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

What to wear, what to do, how to be...

I've been reflecting on my writings lately, specifically on two blog entries - one about what I should or shouldn't be wearing and one about who I have become. They are both pretty harsh on myself. But looking back at who I was, I forget there is one common denominator (other than harsh). I have been always interested in women's issues. I've always thought of myself as the f-word.

Feminist.

I know what some of you are thinking: being a stay-at-home Mom and a feminist is an oxymoron. If you read Betty Friedan, you can't imagine that you can be both. And sometimes when I am making my husband's dinner (well, I guess I'd be eating it too) when I would rather eat out or when I feel like my life is consumed in endless and meaningless laundry (T does his own laundry, neither helping nor adding to the load), I wonder where my belief in equality have gone.

This morning I heard the President of NOW speak on NPR. Although I haven't been paying attention lately - and so I didn't even know her name (!!!), I certainly still believe her message is valid. Equality is still a long way off. Pay, leadership, medical coverage, images in the media, even in small subtle ways there is discrimination. How many women run a Fortune 500? How many run a country (you can probably count current female heads of state on two hands - other than Ireland, Iceland and Finland, I can't think of a single one, and maybe Iceland and England aren't in office anymore???).

But is my staying home sending my daughter a negative (if subliminal) message? Are financial equality and opportunity are passing me by because I have chosen to be home? Should I have run for BOE as a stepping stone to a statewide, then national office? (NO WAY is the answer to that rhetorical question).

When I was in college I was involved in the women's movement - I even marched on Washington for a pro-choice rally. I met Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem and I heard other feminists, such as Yolanda King (I think - or was it her Mom?) and Naomi Wolfe speak. But nowadays I can't be bothered - I'm too busy driving kids places or grocery shopping, knitting. I don't even think about inequality.

After hearing the NPR piece I went to NOW's website and found their Love Your Body campaign. What can you do? Here's a link to a list of things you can do to love your body. Don't worry -I'm not going to invite you to play affirmation games as we wait for our kids at TKD or soccer! Some of it is corny - but other things, like reading magazines with positive images of women, I am willing to do. (I guess I am also blogging about it, which is on their list, but I just noticed it now, so it doesn't count).

But body image doesn't mean I am going to stop exercising. Although my flabby stomach does bother me, my bad genes bother me more (I've got plenty of cancer and heart attacks in the
But I don't have to feel quite as guilty about finishing the entire serving of phad kee mao from Thai Kitchen II.

And I won't feel guilty about blowing off my husband for an evening with my girlfriend.

Friendships are the cornerstone of my past life. Being a good feminist means being a good girlfriend.

Now about that Supreme Court opening......... "Dear Pres, Don't screw this up! Signed Bridgewater soccer Mom" Maybe I can be both an active feminist and a stay-at-home Mom.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial day saturday

Forget Mixed Feelings.

It's Saturday and I am heading to the pool.

Enjoy the weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mixed feelings

Its another one of those days when I should be on top of the world but wondering how I got to this place and feeling like life is passing me by. It's also the continuing saga of my love-hate relationship with Facebook. It's been nothing short of miraculous to be back in touch with so many people. I have well over 300 so-called friends. Some are close, some are distant. The vast majority were people I had lost and am so grateful to have found. I don't live a life where I bump into people from outside of Bridgewater very often (bumped into one of my brother's friends at a hotel in New York last summer, but that is the only one I can think of offhand). So this has been an amazing tool to be in contact with my previous lives.

Whenever I get a new friend I pour through their facebook page, checking out their info (what they've been doing since I last saw them in 1985, where are they working, did they dare put their home address, etc.) and looking at their pictures. Sometimes it takes 30 seconds, sometimes an hour.

This week I have 3 new friends. One of my daughter's friends has friended me! She does not live in Bridgewater. What I think about kids on these types of sites is another blog topic... Another person who friended me was the minister of my church who performed my wedding, confirmation and was a great, laid-back minister.

Another is my former neighbor, JK. He was a popular senior when I was a dorky freshman in high school. But for as long as I can remember I thought he was really nice. His facebook page included a link to his professional website. Holy moly - he is a true-blue film director!!! There are a bunch of examples of his work, much of it from places like Carribean islands. Seeing his work made me wonder what the hell I've been doing since I last saw him around 1986... he is definitely in the top 10 cool jobs category!

I never cease to be amazed by my facebook friends! One is a speech-writer for a political party, another just got back from doing research for her PhD in Senegal and others are just living exotically: a French guy in China, a friend running marketing for a fabric company, another friend seems to be in the process of moving from a big US city to the country-side in Oregon on a quest for a simple life (organic gardening, meditation, etc.). Others are stay-at-home Moms like me. Another is trying to redefine her life after losing her fiance to cancer.

I wonder what people see when they read my FB page for the first time. I'm on it often enough that they probably think "she's got way too much time on her hands". But mostly I'm reading what other people are thinking and doing day to day. Sometimes people write things like, "My kid threw up on all 4 bathroom walls". Other times it is news of births, deaths, college acceptances, moves. Sometimes someone says something really funny. Sometimes really sad.

In the end, it doens't really matter what other people think of me or my Facebook page. I'm the one who has to live with it. That's the great thing about Facebook. You can "like" something, but if you don't like something there is no "dislike" buttton!

If only all of life were like that: you can only LIKE something.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Big on intentions, slow on progress

I volunteer for a couple of organizations in a couple of capacities. One position is directly related to my former work, another is because no one else wanted to do it and I felt like I could do it.

Unfortunately I haven't been keeping up with these jobs, and they are weighing on me like a house. One thing I started in November and dropped all together - the paperwork somewhere on the tower of papers on my desk - starting back up would require me to clear off my desk. In fact I am typing this on my laptop at the kitchen table since I have too much stuff cluttering the area where it lives.

Now it's a beautiful day. I have a meeting with the co-presidents of this organization at 1pm. Her e-mail said, "My blackberry says that we are meeting at 1pm on Thursday." I wanted to tell her blackberry that I don't feel like meeting, but I responded that I'd be there. That should give me plenty of time to finish what I should have done 3 weeks ago (3 months ago???) but here I sit typing my blog and trying to figure out how long it will take me to do the dishes, weed in the sun and go for a short run with the dog. Does that leave enough time? And even though I have showered already this morning, Blackberry-girl is big into hair, make-up and nails, so if I do any of the outdoor plans, I'll have to fit in a 2n shower and 10 minutes for my hair/make-up.

I can't wait for everything to wind down and I kiss this stuff good-bye until the fall.

T said this morning that he is looking forward to retiring and moving to Hawaii. I don't need to move that far. I just need to change my present where I say no to stuff like this. I've never been one to embrace the "just say no" culture. Yes, yes, yes, yes is what comes naturally to me.

Can I do the dishes, laundry, weed, run AND write the papers I need to bring for later today?

YES!

If I say that enough and finish this blog, then I might just be able to pull it all off.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A message from 1972

No matter what we get out of this

I know we'll never forget

Smoke on the water, fire in the sky

If you were there with the rest of us, then you know that last night wasn't your average school concert.

Where else does the principal accompany the school's orchestra, the new Vice Principal take up an instrument SPECIFICALLY to join the orchestra and an entire gym of 5th and 6th graders rock out together to end an orchestra concert?

When does orchestra ever get the "cool factor"? Not often!

Man, it sure did last night. The orchestra teacher said that she planned this as a farewell concert in case the budget didn't pass, and 5th and 6th grade music programs were cut. "I wanted to go out with a bang!"

The budget passed, so it was a musical celebration instead.

It brought back memories for me. Deep, meaningful memories. Years of lessons in school (that I hardly practiced for - so there's a pang of regret) and countless orchestra and choir practices, concerts every year from 4th grade through 12th. Some of my most important friends I have connected to through music. Playing cello, singing in various choirs and playing piano for 12 years, music has always been important to me. The best summers of my childhood were spent at a choir camp outside of Toronto.

Still, I think I faintly heard my mother's voice saying "PAYBACKS!" when there were some squeaky notes and what American Idol judges refer to as "pitchy"...

And while I think C will choose other opportunities over music in the future, I am glad that she will have one awesome memory - the whole school rocking out together. Two orchestras plus a ton of extra help - kids, professional musicians, teachers and staff working together to make a room rock!

Keeping music alive for 5th and 6th graders in BRRSD schools was worth a yes vote! I can't live through my kids - I don't want to try - but I am grateful that music was the cornerstone of my childhood, and that my daughter has had a taste of how special a fun performance can be.

During the concert I sent a text message to HK, daughter of Mrs. K, my orchestra teacher in 4th-6th grades and then in high school. I wrote:

"At my daughter's 5th grade orchestra concert. Thinking of you, your mom and Mr. Cavuto" (our tough Jr high orchestra teacher).

Her response "awesome memories".

Am glad that C will have at least one too! Hopefully she'll be lucky enough to be in contact with NR who sat next to her during last night's performance... and they can reminisce about their Principal rockin' with 'em back in 2009.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Head spinning...

Click here to enjoy a song while you read today's blog!

How can you tell me, you're lonely, and say for that the sun don't shine?
Let me take you by the hand and take you through the streets of London,
I'll show something to make you change your mind


My head is spinning. We just got an e-mail with the option for a tournament this weekend. Between now and the last day of school there is something extra on the calendar every day but 2 days! One some of those days there are extra tid-bits just to throw a wrench into the pot like "T in London".

"T in London" is a bummer for me. I am pretty well traveled - been in most of Western Europe, and about 40 US states and 2 Canadian provinces, plus Japan, but I have never been to London and I've always wanted to go. My Dad was raised there and I've heard how wonderful it is for my whole life. This was my chance! It would have meant outsourcing everything kid-related for 3 days, and I was tempted to do that, but in the end I decided against it.

If our kids (well, one of them at least) weren't so over-committed, 3 days in London would have been a breeze to pull off. When did my daughter's soccer practice take precedence over a chance to roam Notting Hill (where I could dream about running into Hugh Grant in a travel bookstore, while my husband attended meetings)? A girl scout leader meeting more important than seeing my friend ADA?

The old me would have booked the tickets before even checking the calendar! The new me - chose to be home and cart the kids around to their activities, chaperone a school trip and walk the dog. What the hell is wrong with me???!!!!

Where did *I* go? Will I ever find myself again? Why can't I just let the kids blow these things off and head off to the UK? It's only for 3 nights!

The old me heard this song for the first time in Europe in the mid-1980s when travel was the goal. Anywhere was better than home and I spent entire summers living out of my backpack. My life is completely different from what I thought it would be when I was that girl.

I don't regret having kids, or living this life but I wish I had chosen to go to London. And I am really mad at myself for my lost perspective.

IT'S LONDON! IT'S ONLY FOR 3 DAYS!

It's the new me. That responsible Mom-me. The one with a calendar chock-full of practices, appointments, games, pay dates and class trips. Too busy for a few days away...

All I can say is, "YAWN!"

Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday

Spent the morning in the kitchen. The afternoon in the living room and will spend the evening carting kids.

Not much to report therefore, but I have changed the coloring on the blog. Everyone needs a change once in a while...

Enjoy!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bridgewater Soccer Mom's Swimsuit Edition: What Not to Wear

Next weekend it starts. We joined a pool club and it opens on Friday. We resisted for many years but decided it was time to stop living off the generosity of others. Also, for several years I spent the majority of the summer at my in-laws with the kids. This year we are only going for a couple of weeks, so we're going to need somewhere to go. But this weekend I started to panic.
The first time I visited this pool as a guest of others I wore a very small bikini that wasn't too revealing, but still showed enough to shock my hostess. I remember her gasping, saying it might fall off my curvy figure (not her words, but that was the gist). Nothing is more painful than watching your hostess's shocked expression at your swimsuit.

I bought it with two good friends who sang praises until I dropped the $100 on this gooooorgeous bikini. Granted we were in Spain at the time, and maybe the sangria was part of the decision process...? At time of purchase, I thought I looked like a Roman Goddess and I loved that suit.

Despite the apparent "inappropriateness" for Bridgewater pool clubs where tasteful LLBean one-pieces or skirted-tankinis rule, I still wore it faithfully to the beach for a couple of seasons. Then one summer someone had a camera and I got a look at what AH was gasping at... yup, you could definitely tell that I am a woman who has born children and breastfed them. And maybe her fears of a wardrobe malfunction weren't so unrealistic? And... the Roman Goddess self-image??? Gone with the sangria!

Last summer I threw that suit and bought some much more conservative ones.

My June Cleaver-approved summer suits are ready to roll. I'm doing sit-ups, push-ups, planks and anything else I can think of to tone the mid-section to no avail. :-(

Where did the Roman Goddess self-image go? Who knows? Even though I work out regularly, I still can't get away from my own body. I love food with things like butter, sugar and I have a never-say-no policy to wine, and I'm not going to starve myself to please others at the pool.

Pleasing the person in the mirror is just as hard - maybe harder. Even if I meet my goal weight, there will always be something I will obsess about: my bad skin, my frizzy hair, my height... At least I go to the pool knowing that I am not the only suburban Mom who feels this way about her body. But I'm the one who is crazy enough to post a bikini-clad picture of herself on the net! Clearly I need to do more sit-ups, but it ain't all bad... in fact, looking at this picture I see my arms are pretty nice and my skin is clear.

Focus on the positive!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Proud to be living here

Earlier this week an accident turned into a nightmare for one Bridgewater family. They watched their house burn, while firefighters fought the blaze bravely. It was devastating and I highly doubt that anything will be salvaged, even though lots of the house "looks OK". Smoke, ash and water damage got everything that fire didn't. Neighbors and onlookers watched in horror as the home went up in smoke and flames.

The firefighters (mostly men, but at least two women!!) were valiant volunteers. They came quickly, in huge numbers, and stayed for several hours. Firetrucks spread over 1/4 mile. It reminded me of the St. Patty's day parade when I ask myself each year "how many firetrucks ARE there in Somerset County?"

Once the firetrucks left and the crowd that had gathered on nearby lawns disbursed, neighbors gathered. One neighbor brought pizza, others pooled drinks, and they brought whatever we thought might be needed: toothbrushes, clothes for the first few days, toiletries, etc.. Neighbors were practically tripping over each other to be the first to offer a bedroom.

Every time I mention that I live in this neighborhood, I hear the same thing, "PLEASE let me know if there is anything I can do".

As often as I have complained about Bridgewater's snobbishness, or write of suburban angst, I am so proud of how our community has rallied over this family. They are really great people.

The family is fine. No one was hurt and they were able to save some pictures and a few personal items (the daughter's iPod was actually playing when a fireman found it!). It made me want to upload all my pictures to a server offsite like snapfish or kodak.

In my childhood my "fever nightmares" were always about a fire that spread through the whole neighborhood and all the houses went up in fire. This was the opposite of that nightmare - it was the "best case scenario" if your house was going to go up in flames. No injuries or deaths, some of their most precious things were saved and their friends and neighbors are doing whatever the insurance company isn't!

I haven't checked with the family today, but I think they are in very good shape.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Soccer Wars - Episode IV a New Hope


A Long Time Ago

On a Soccer Field

Far, Far Away...


Ever feel like you are in Star Wars - the original movie? What I mean is, you think it is the beginning of this new story, only to learn that the saga started long before?

That's what I felt like today - thrown in the midst of a war that has long been raging while I have been living in another galaxy (or the soccer equivalent thereof).

This week our team was thrown into the mix. It felt like when I watched the newest Star Wars movies (Episodes 1-3, with Natalie Portman as Carrie Fisher's mother). Beyond the very obvious Yoda and his crew, I never could tell who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. Today I can't really tell now whose side to believe either.

And as with a good Star Wars plot, someone had warned me of eminent attack, but I didn't believe.

Just when I thought Soccer Wars couldn't get much worse... another surprise was thrown into the mix, and I said some very inappropriate things within the earshot of innocents. Not only are imperial storm troopers seizing our rebel base, but a bounty hunter wants to take over as head of the rebel alliance!

OK - enough with the confusing Star Wars analogy!

While I spent most of the evening freaking with mixed feelings of anger, fear and irony, my daughter and her friends were trying out for another year on Bridgewater United.

When we arrived home I could see it. Genuine happiness and pride. My daughter beamed, "I DID AWESOME!"

And in my hot shower I realized I didn't care about warring faction or hostile takeovers.

I just care about my kid, her friends and their happiness. If that is the goal, then the evening was a true success.

Remember, my adversaries, the words of Yoda, "War does not make one great!"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BtfejKs_mI4&feature=related

Monday, May 11, 2009

A tale of two soccer leagues


Bridgewater currently has two travel soccer leagues. C is on Bridgewater United (aka "Epic") the Bridgewater Rec Department's travel soccer organization. She has been very happy with Bridgewater United, but doesn't like one of the four coaches. We have 18 girls and four coaches - a head coach and 3 assistants.

A couple of weeks ago, out of the blue, C said she wanted to join BSA (Bridgewater Soccer Association).

Shoot me now! One year ago this week she was deciding between "Epic" and BSA. She tried out for both, and after much deliberation, chose "Epic", which became Bridgewater United. Both organizations sent "FAQ's" home last week promoting their programs.

She has been happy there all year. She has made new friends and the team has coalesced from a group of girls with very different sporting backgrounds to a team. Had she joined BSA she would have been an outsider coming in to an already formed group.

Maybe your daughters or sons are choosing between the two programs. Here are my impressions, which may be wrong!

Bridgewater United pros:
* Less parental interference.
* The organization is positive toward the fact that children do multiple activities and may not be able to make all practices/games.
* Less expense
* Less pressure - there's only one level, no A or B at my daughter's level
* Professional training mixed with volunteer coaches
* Very family friendly and welcoming
* I really like the girls. They are good to each other.
* I like the coaches, the manager and the families. The coaches and families are extraordinarily supportive of both the girls and one another. No one takes it too seriously. They realize these are innocent 10 and 11 year olds. (But we parents (especially a couple of us Moms) are still pretty loud on the sidelines).

BSA pros:
* Best reputation for quality
* Longer history, so few newbie bumps in the road
* Well trained girls with a lot of private extra training means the teams play better
* Name recognition/quality in the name
* Girls are in high flight, and the program is very challenging
* Girls get to go to lots of tournaments, including Hershey Park (Our BU team did one tournament in the fall and will do one in the spring, neither far away)

Bridgewater United Cons:
* Being as they haven't had as much professional training, some girls on the team need work on condition and it keeps them from being able to run fast enough, and others may lack ball skills, etc.
* C doesn't always agree with one of the coach's decisions, often mid-game, so I foresee some tough discussions in the fall. I personally think he is a really nice guy and cares about the girls' best interests. I don't feel like I have the experience to judge his coaching decisions. And maybe my 11 year old daughter doesn't either???
* Some girls claim it isn't challenging enough - but my feeling is that you challenge yourself. If you take a step-aerobics class and it is too easy, you lift your legs higher to compensate. So, I don't buy that too much.
* It's a low flight and we don't have the experience yet to move higher. We haven't won every game and clearly are in a flight we can manage.
* TRAVEL MEANS TRAVEL. We regularly travel over an hour, two counties away, for our away games.

BSA Cons:
* I have LOTS of friends who are Moms of BSA kids (some are among my closest friends!), so don't misunderstand me when I say that my number one CON with BSA: THE MOMS. They meddle, they criticize the girls, and speak of them as if they were NBA picks and not 10 year olds, they fight amongst themselves and they live for soccer. In our household we don't live for sports, we live in spite of them!
* It is very expensive. Plus there are the extra expenses that aren't mentioned: the pressure to send your kid for extra private training sessions, camps, extras to the uniforms like bags and jackets, overnight tournaments, etc.
* C would move from relatively strong player to one of the weakest.
* BSA says they are open to kids who play several sports, but I know that if you don't make a practice, that you aren't played much during the game as "fairness" to the girls who made practice. Also other parents notice and comment when girls aren't at practice enough.
* There seems to be an animosity between the A and B teams. A looks down at B. B families wish they were on A. C would be on B (did that make sense??? C = my daughter, A & B = are teams).

I'm a bit hesitant to post this blog. I actually started the concept a couple of weeks ago, but if you think Bridgewater families are concerned about the BOE election, you should see how impassioned they are about kids' soccer!

That's right, SCARY!

Try-outs are this week. C is only trying for Bridgewater United - sometimes I have to decide for her. She's gaining confidence on Bridgewater United and I like that!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Lilacs

It's Mothers' Day and I spent the morning cutting lilacs from the beautiful ring of bushes that makes a u-shape around their property. They have grown from the size of bushes to trees taller than the my parents' white ranch house. When we opened all the windows you could smell their beautiful scent in every room. Mom grew them in 3 colors. Very light purple, a darker purple and the color of light red wine. The leaves are bight green and everywhere, providing my dad privacy. I've been thinking all day how she would have loved to see the fruits of her labors in these gorgeous bushes.

We brought some to her grave and to Nonny, too. I remember Mom bringing her Dad (then later her Mom) flowers when she was healthy as those lilacs. We didn't have time to take care of the weeds around the gravestones, which she would have liked, but maybe I'll get to it next time I'm home.

I brought a huge bunch home. They didn't like the car ride and look unhappy and wilted, but I didn't have the heart to throw them.

But who cares!

Mother's Day is a totally different world now that I have kids of my own. I am so indescribably fortunate. My children are wonderful people and it was a lovely day. Along with their beautiful hand-made gifts, they got me what I asked for (probably with T's help). Wii Fit! We spent a long time doing it together. It was great!

Have a wonderful day, dear readers. Who ever you are, where ever you are, enjoy the smell of lilacs and think of your Mom.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Reading

This posted before I even wrote it. I apologize if you were just e-mailed a blank page (some of my readers subscribe via e-mail).

Anyway, I read this great op-ed about Bristol on my sister's facebook page and I had to post it.

If you haven't figured it out, I'm as pro-choice as they come and think that the Republican's choice of Palin cost them the election. I have wanted a woman in office my whole life - just not a woman like her who has achieved her goals through her looks and luck, and clearly not intellectual abilities.

Someone in McCain's inner circle dropped the ball when they didn't properly vet the proposed candidate. Even my father who voted for such gems as Nixon, Reagan and Bush-41 stopped considering McCain after it was a McCain-Palin ticket. Wink-wink...

There are lots of things that my beautiful daughter has done before her friends: first with a tv in her room, first with a cell phone, one of the first to read several "banned" books (Are you there God It's Me, Margaret, and Twilight, to name two - and that doesn't include the inappropriate movies my husband has deemed OK) she's possibly the most well-traveled 11 year old in Bridgewater... and it will break my heart if I find out she the first in terms of um... be like Bristol at such a young age. Although I will arm her with lots of information - including abstinence - I have no illusions about teenage life. My daughter is also more than adept at hiding things she doesn't want me to know about.

Many of the people I know on this planet have parents who weren't married at the time of their conception. That's not what I want for my kids!

So I am hoping that I can talk to my daughter as easily about sex as I could with her about menstruation (we read The Care and Keeping of You together).

Maybe Sarah Palin can write a "how to NOT talk to your kids about sex in a sexual world" book? Or something entitled "Not My Daughter"? So I can do the opposite of her advice.

And maybe, if I don't find something appropriate out there (I'm sure I will), I can write something I'd want to read!

I'll start with the mother of all sources - Planned Parenthood's website - oh, look the first thing you see on their site is "Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month" Everything else is going to take research. I have time... at least I think I have time. My daughter heard a pretty accurate description of how babies are made when she was 5 years old. She learned where most kids learn: from her friend, another 5 year old neighbor!

But I think it is my job to fill in most of the details! It's complicated and not a single-session discussion item. She's curious now... so I better start doing my own research on the how-to-talk-to-your-tween-about-stuff-she-shouldn't-need-to-know-now-but-does.

For now I gotta get packing. We're heading back to my hometown for a quick overnight trip to return my Dad to his humble abode. It's probably a good thing. If he knew I were trying to figure out what to tell my daughter, he'd probably say what he said when I had sex-ed in 7th grade. "Fallopian tubes? You want to learn about Fallopian tubes? I'll show you Fallopian tubes!" I was mortified and answered "I don't WANT to learn about this. The school is making me!"

But in hind-sight all the information I got (from my own neighbor's description, to my dad's anatomy lesson, to the school's messages, to my own independent reading) put together was helpful. I definitely learned a lot about birth control.

It's the relationship advice that I wished I had. How to deal with boys? How to talk to them? How to think for myself about what *I* want? But that's for another blog.

Maybe I'll have to write a couple of books...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Teacher Appreciation Week

I know I promised a blog about soccer... you're not getting one today either... I disappoint my kids with this kind of stuff every day, so why shouldn't my readers get a taste of it too from time to time.

Today's topic is teacher appreciation. We did a lot of fun things for Miss Teacher this week - collected toys for her new dog, kids brought in letters and flowers... and today there was a class party where we did the same thing to her that she does for the kids when they are student of the week. Ending with everyone giving her a compliment. The game I planned backfired, but that just shows I know nothing about elementary school kids.

I wanted to do something a bit more meaningful than the usual gifties. So I wrote a letter of recommendation to the Superintendent praising all she has done for N this year. It might not help her much career-wise, but now I formally have told her employers what I think... and for once they received a kudos letter from a parent and not someone bitching and moaning.

It felt really good to write and send. Even though teacher appreciation week is just a week, I've appreciated her since she pulled me aside and said "there's an issue with N and we need to do something".

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Careful what you wish for...

Today I remembered sitting in my Dad's Pontiac Parisienne waiting for him to finish at the gym. I sat in the red plush interior dreaming about the day I would be free to drive where ever I wanted. I also remember wondering if I'd ever be alone in a car with a boy... I yearned to drive and to be alone with a boy (not necessarily in that order).

I had to laugh today thinking how funny it sounded to dream about being able to drive.

Nowadays it seems that from morning to night I spend my time driving people places. My kids to school. My dad to Wegmans. My fat butt to the gym (it's getting to be big enough to count as a separate passenger). Pick up the kids from school. Pick up their friends and drive everyone plus the kitchen sink to soccer practice. Tonight was a triple header - first TKD, then soccer, then Wegmans, then home.

I wish I could reach back into my youthful self to find again that yearning to drive.

These days being alone in the car with my boyfriend (ie my husband) usually means something as romantic as a trip to somewhere like Home Depot.

Not the romantic drive I envisioned in my youth. God is certainly laughing at me, saying "You wanna drive - don't worry, you'll drive! And Drive, And Drive AND DRIVE SOME MORE!"

I still yearn for the freedom to drive where ever I want.....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

knew knits

It's a busy day in Lake Woebegone.

Grandpa is going home this weekend. He has been a huge help although today the dog pooped where he shouldn't have upstairs and Dad stepped in it and tracked it across the house. In my ever-present mindset of "not letting things bother me" I did my best to breathe deeply (well, figuratively at least) and count to ten before I sent him out for his walk (Grandpa's walk - the dog was sent to his cage) so I could clean up the mess.

T is ready to give the dog to Grandpa as a parting gift... don't think the kids will let him, though.

After washing the floors twice, I have taken it easy this afternoon. T has been to the doctor and has scheduled some procedures to check out something. I am so relieved that he is finally taking this step. Seconding guessing what it could be can be very tiring and for years my regular requests that he get it looked at have gone unheeded.

N had the NJASK this week. He couldn't sleep Sunday night, but he hasn't seemed stressed since. Tomorrow is math and he is pretty confident. As a "prize" for having NJ ASK let him blow off martial arts practice for a playdate with T. They are role playing Naruto as I write this and I am enjoying the happy sounds from above.

Did I mention Diego got into my yarn??? A certain red Christmas cap I was knitting for a newborn baby six months ago...

So tonight I promised myself a treat - starting a new knitting project. C's teacher from last year was supposed to get said hat, but I never finished it, so I will try a bib. I have never made one before. Hope it knits up quickly. I will make it red cotton - she can throw it in the wash over and over again with some fun detail like a heart or something. I don't think she knows about the blog... and since I am blogging about it, my readers can follow up and make sure I finish it soon!

Since yesterday I have found several new friends on Facebook. Someone who I don't know very well, but who I like so far in Hillsborough. My colleague that I spoke about yesterday and two Brazilian friends (one now lives in California, the other in Sweden) who taught me this sentence more than twenty years ago:

un beijo bem grande de una americanina. ...

a very big kiss from a little American.... (I was little back then)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Facebook

I had a crappy evening. Not the worst in the world - but for dinner I had chicken marsala, salad and a side of humiliation.

When I got home from this wasted benefit dinner, someone a lost friend found me on Facebook. I was thrilled. I have spent a lot of time trying to find her, to no avail.

It's good to keep things into perspective. As PM teasing me and mortifing his coworker (PM thought he was being funny, but I was humiliated), CH was remembering me and found me online.

Breathe in, breathe out. Focus on the good stuff! It'll all be OK!

PS - Am working on another blog, but haven't finished it... about the two travel soccer options in town... after all, that is what soccer Moms write about, right??? Coming soon...

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fighting other people's battles...

(With International Students - the Mini-UN of my youth)

When I was in college I wanted to be a diplomat. I still dream about it. Unfortunately I am afraid I am too old, and my life too child-centered to start this path. But it's still in me somewhere...

Every once in a while someone does something to someone else that I think is wrong. Let's face it, that happens pretty much daily - if I look for injustice, I'm sure I can find it every minute - but every few weeks or so something happens within my little world that upsets me to the point that I want to take action and engage myself in the issue.

Recently I called a relative to inform her that her child had done something inappropriate. It totally backfired.

A few weeks before that I attempted to "fix" something at the martial arts school where my kids take classes. Again, backfired.

Nearly 100% of the time when I try to fix something like this, it backfires.

This week I got myself worked up about how mean one child was to another child on the sidelines after a soccer game. It was a hot topic of discussion for my daughter and several of her teammates. Child A is a known bully. Child B has a crisis at home and because of this, the girls are trying to be very nice to her. Child A was rude to Child B after last week's game and threw a bottle at her, hitting her. All the girls were shocked, but of course none of the coaches saw it. Speaking with a friend about this at today's game, my blood pressure rose to breaking point and I decided that I would speak to Child A's mother. Perhaps Child A doesn't know about Child B's situation?

I really want to call the mother and say to her, "I'm not sure if you know about Child B's situation, but the girls are all trying to be a bit extra nice to her. Maybe you daughter, Child A, could try it too?"

Or "tell your kid to stop being such a bitch to everyone, but especially to Child B" (it's my fantasy, clearly I won't say that!).

In light of the delicate situation, and my near 100% failure statistics, I am not going to call Parent A. But I'm tempted!

Maybe it's not so bad that I never had the balls to take the Foreign Service Exam. Diplomacy might not be my strong suit after all. But someday, I hope I still fit these criteria and can take that exam and have the career of my dreams. When I checked the website a year ago it bluntly warned that you will be sent to an area of conflict (read: Iraq). They've taken that off. They've kept some caveats, but that goes without saying. Right now I don't want to miss a single soccer game, much less a couple of years of my kids' life, so I can't apply.

It also says: Must be less than 59 years old... I've got 20 years left to try!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sweating the small stuff

Well, my new leaf lasted about 2 days. On Wednesday I lost all patience over a lost shin guard. Typical me! Blasphemy and anger.

I sweated the small stuff. By Wednesday I couldn't help it! It's my own fault. We are overbooked. It's impossible not to sweat small stuff because life gets overwhelmed by it.

On Thursday, more small stuff, one time I was able to breathe in and out and not explode. Another time I yelled... but just a little.

Now it's Friday - I just got back from Philadelphia, the first of two trips I am chaperoning this month - and tomorrow I'm leading (with my faithful partner in crime, M) the girl scout troop's camping trip. Chance of showers all weekend... but I'm not going to sweat it! Will just have to follow the Scandinavian saying "there is no such thing as bad weather - just bad clothes".

It's the weekend and I must relax a bit. My body and soul crave it. So to treat myself, we're blowing off the evening's activities and I played solitaire for over an hour. I need to straighten up, but I need to lie around the house for a little while - even more.

If only I could...