Monday, February 27, 2012

Two down and run to go

I'm not going to be lonely today. I have both kids home sick.

Nothing life-threatening. Stomach bugs - one serious, one not. If last week we were nomads, today it's the opposite. I'm housebound, while an electrician is finishing loose ends. Of course - the weather is fabulous - so I am yearning to go outside and run.

C had a great day yesterday: the BR Middle School cheer squad won their only competition this season. The girls won easily. You could see it in their faces - they weren't very nervous so they did pretty well This fall the stakes were so high that girls were puking from the stress both before and during the routine. Yesterday everyone was relaxed and just looking to have a good time. As a parent I preferred the low-stress competitive environment.

I posted a picture/video on Facebook and said I was bragging. One of my friends reminded me that it's a good thing to brag about your children. I forget that sometimes. I find it hard to compliment myself - if I think

"I'm a good cook"

I say

"I'm a relatively good cook."

I guess I transfer that to my kids. If someone says "Your daughter is beautiful." I reply with a flippant remark like "as long as she's well-behaved..." Bragging seems like the sin of vanity, and I am many things, but not vain. So even when the kids win at something, I feel funny announcing it.

What would be better for the nurse-maid's immune system than fresh air and exercise? If I want to "brag" by calling myself a runner, I better get out an run for a while today.

Hopefully I'll post a picture from the road later...... or would that be bragging?

Friday, February 24, 2012

February 23rd

(Written Thursday, published Friday)

Duality today.

Mother nature playing tricks on the trees - Blossoms in February!
It's my brother's birthday. There are few people on planet earth that I respect more than him. He's so accomplished, so smart, has excellent taste... but most of all he is warm and loving. The antithesis to machismo. His family is Boise is lucky to have him - since it's a big loss for us East Coasters.

Today is also one year since my friend died. And no matter how much Feburary 23rd is my brother's day, it's El's day too. 

A while before she died, we sat on her open-aired screen porch and looked at the forest that surrounds her home. She talked about how much she missed hiking. At that point she could walk but very unsteadily. She seemed so weak, who knew it would get so much worse? I didn't want to tell her I had been running that day, but when she found out, she encouraged me, basically telling me to embrace exercise because she missed moving her body freely.

So today I thought of her as I did something new. One of the first places I ever visited in Somerset County - before we moved here - was Colonial Park. It's still one of my favorite places, less than a half hour from our house, but I hardly ever go there. 

If you are in the 08807-area then you know we have had exceptional weather. Today I happened to be in Somerset (we took refuge from HVAC replacement at a hotel) and treated myself to exercising at the park. Visitors looking for something extra for their workouts can follow the free and easy to follow circuit training. It even has directions for wheel chair users. 

If you were in Colonial Park today I probably gave you a good laugh. Completely under-dressed (in a t-shirt and shorts) I ran from sign to sign, then jumped, did toe touches, push ups and whatever else the signs asked for. When I got tired I thought of El and kept going... I had to stop because I just was too cold in the wind.

We are lucky to live somewhere with such beautiful trees, a nice place to exercise, pretty streams to look for wildlife and even friendly people who smile and say hi as I jogged past them. 

I looked at the near cloudless sky and saw the blooming trees. My brother would have enjoyed bird watching. I enjoyed the red sprouting trees against a blue sky. It might have been too manicured a park for El's tastes, but I really enjoyed my morning in the park. 

Happy and sad, duality. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Like something out of a children's story

Mind map (done Sun pm)
Last night the DH and I discussed paying for college. I wanted to make an outline using mind mapping to see if I can make sense of my options and obligations, and the general big picture.  I still need to do this - plus exercise. I pulled a muscle and am not sure how I am going to stay on track for my half marathon in April... but where there's a will there's a way. And then... there's taxes. Just the word puts me in a cold sweat!

But instead of facing my demons, I spent the morning making coffee, listening to NPR and surfing the net and texting a friend.

Somehow I got the "brilliant idea" of trying out my new wax. If you know me in person, you probably have seen my goat beard from time to time. Something like a Ukrainian Grandmother. I saw a "natural" wax from a company at the mall last week and I bought myself a tub on sale. Guess why it's on sale? Because it will RUIN YOUR DAY!

In my test run I managed to get the wax stuck to everything! Both hands (I am sure there is residue on my laptop), on my chin and lip, of course. But then - it stuck to everything I touched. The sink bowl, the handles on the sink, the door knobs (3 between the downstairs bathroom, our bedroom and the master bath), the shower door handle, faucet, and I didn't dare use a towel (air drying was not fun)... The hot water just made the wax more gooey and didn't remove itself, even though I tried several kids of soaps. After the shower escapade, I tried to use paper towel, gauze, non-stick gauze, band-aids, medical tape, and a now-useless hand towel.

It was like the pink ring in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.... "And I said, will this ever come off? I don't think!"

In the shower, I woke the husband with the choir of profanity.... F... F.... F... F'ing-F F F F.... (As my friend MR says "When I first met Bridgewater Soccer Mom I thought she had Tourette's!"). He told me to call the manufacturer.... but wait, gigispa.com doesn't give a phone number on its products OR on its website. So I blasted a scathing e-mail.

Fast forward an hour and a half, a bottle of nail polish remover, and a few tears, it seems to be mostly gone. (Both my skin on my hands and face are a bit red).

That's what I get for vanity. From now on I won't mind paying someone to remove the beard for me. Sometimes paying for something is better than DIY. My chin is still a bit sticky in places... and I don't dare try to start the cleaning of door knobs, etc. No knitting until the last of the stick is gone. :-(

Maybe the moral of the story is to turn off the computer, focus on the task at hand. And don't worry about a few whiskers. They aren't part of the big picture plan anyway!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Reminder


Bags of food ready to go
My kids' youth group volunteered today at a church in Somerville where Somerset County distributes food bank items (mostly edible) to the needy. It is a humbling reminder that so many people need help right here in Somerville. I learned that I need to think smarter when I donate. Often I'll donate items we wouldn't have eaten. I should do the opposite in the future - give what we WOULD eat. Most likely the people who need extra help also prefer the same foods as my picky family.

We helped more than sixty families before someone took the "white chocolate-flavored sparkling water". Maybe that would be good in a mixed drink, but that's not the help these families need.

Toilet paper was given one roll per family. How much TP do I buy without even thinking about the cost (beyond the general "the more rolls in the pack, the cheaper it becomes)? You can also call the food bank as they have a list of what they need.
Teens bagged and distributed

The hardest for me to think about today was when a couple of kids came in without a parent. Probably a teenage brother with his sister who looked like she might be around 3rd or 4th grade. They walked to downtown Somerville from Raritan, picked what they needed and walked home. Quietly and politely. On the ride home I reminded my kids that probably the older brother is at C's school or BRRHS and the little sister will eventually go to N's intermediate school. The neediest are part of our immediate community and we rarely give it any thought!

With the blatant wealth of this area it is so easy for all of us to forget how fortunate many of us are.

So readers, please remember to give to your local food bank.  And.... everyone smiles when they get a little cake mix.


****

On another note, I re-watched Colbert and took him down from yesterday's blog. While I found a lot of what he said to be funny, I have too many Catholics friends/readers who may find it offensive...


Friday, February 17, 2012

Quick Summary

I haven't written much this week. I can hardly believe it's Friday night. It's the usual for me: Drive The Girl to the movies and let The Boy have a friend sleep over. Make something for dinner (should have started earlier) and put on my PJs. Maybe I'll stay awake late enough to watch Bill Maher. As my regular readers know, I'm very interested in women's access to contraception, abortion and.. well, um everything. I could start a complete blog on this, but well, I don't want the house to get Fire Bombed, so I'll just say I'm looking forward to some liberal humor tonight.

I know some of you are wondering about Tuesday's Board of Ed meeting. If you are, you probably already read the Courier's articles here and here and/or the Patch here and here. My take:

  • The redistricting committee made its presentation. I thought it went without a hitch. However, I wish more BOE members had read through the report more thoroughly so that they were prepared with questions - or that it was decided to split the two huge items so that the redistricting options got the attention that such an important issue warrants. 
  • I was bummed that they are moving the vote to November. I don't want to give the parties the chance to court BOE candidates... especially since I'm a Democrat in Bridgewater and there aren't many of us, so if the Republicans keep their "cut budgets" platform, that probably doesn't bode well for the school district. Also, I have already spoken with several people who replied with "We can't vote on the school budget anymore? When did this happen???" The woman I spoke with today is active in the PTO at two district schools and was still completely unaware.
I actually don't want to blog about the BOE. I'm sick of thinking about it. Sometimes it seems like EVERYTHING I say gets misinterpreted- or if it is understood, then the BOE takes the complete opposite action.

To me, from me... 
The rest of the week I've been muddling along. Unusually focused on knitting. I find I am thinking about creativity, knitting, technology, and fabric much more than I normally do. I've started three new projects in three days without having finished my shawl. On Facebook I'm ignoring birthdays and following a discussion between various well-known knitting designers. My mind is on texture, color and gauge (tension).

I wonder if my body is telling me that I need to slow down and knitting is my mind's way of forcing me to think of other things. On the other hand, maybe my mind is continuing it's self-dialogue. Knitting and the arts might be a better venue for me to continue my life- but I don't even know where that would begin. For several years I've dreamed of owning a yarn shop on Main Street in Somerville.

Today is my friend MCM's birthday. This weekend she and her family start a new life in North Carolina. She's lived in Sweden and Ecuador. Traveled to Japan and all over the USA. It has been rather traumatic for her family of six to get to this point in their adventure. I wish them all the best in their new journey. Sometimes a change in direction is a good thing.

Vote for the Fire Budget tomorrow - it's probably the last budget you will be able to vote on in Bridgewater for a long time.

Time to take C to the movies.... posting without editing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines Day 2012

Happy Valentines Day to Ingrid. She made something like this for me.
I used to stress out about Valentines Day. Would something magical happen that day? Would some boy admit his yet-unstated love for me? Clearly I had seen too many sappy movies. And of course I was disappointed by my own inflated/unrealistic teenage expectations.

Fast forward thirty years and I spent early Valentine's morning coaxing a somewhat unwilling son to finish an essay. Even earlier I made my daughter hot cocoa to enjoy on the way to school which she had to refuse. Apparently alcohol is a problem and students are no longer allowed to bring coffee mugs on the bus... not a very romantic thought. She's in Middle School and cocoa is a no no!

Then I half-ran, half-hobbled the streets of Bridgewater with KK, my Tuesday running partner. She is the perfect person to bounce off an idea. Full of warmth and humor and smarts, time with her is well-spent. I love our conversations.

The rest of the daytime hours are relatively unromantic for Valentines Day:

  • Doctor's appointment
  • N working on a Science project (currently ongoing) with two boys in the basement. "Stay away from the powertools!" 
  • Then N has a basketball game 

Tonight I have to be at the least romantic place on Planet Earth. Dingy chairs, harsh halogen lighting, unhappy faces. Board of Ed meetings are about as sexy as tooth decay. But tonight's meeting is "Must See Meeting" for people like me who want to stay aware... The agenda includes:

  • The Redistricting Committee is making its presentation to the BOE and the Community
  • A discussion regarding changes to voting. Move representative elections to November? Stop voting on the budget if it is under cap? Important to go and hear what people are saying. Can I resist the urge to speak my mind?

Finally, hopefully, I will spend a few moments with my Resident Valentine. A glass of red... chocolate and a little TV. He usually hits the materialism out of the ballpark with the traditional bouquet.... while I wait to see what 2012 brings, I am making a nice dinner for all of us. (And yes, I got everyone chocolate).

Another reminder that I am very blessed to have a happy marriage and a great life. Valentines Day 2012. A day in the life of Bridgewater's Soccer Mom.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sunday in the Village with the family

Saturday night just before falling asleep, my husband suggested we go into the city with the kids on Sunday.

Sunday morning he didn't remember the offer, but we went anyway. (I think he thought I was manipulating him... who me?)

It was a great idea and a great day.

We drove into the village - parked at the corner of 6th Avenue and Bleeker Street. On street parking that was easy to parallel park in and out of. What luck!

First: pizza. Cheap and yummy.

In the first store we entered (near NYU) we found a dress for my daughter for a "prom" at Hershey (fodder for another blog when I tell you what I think of this). It looked fabulous on her and she will meet her goal: having a dress that no one else will be wearing. We were all happy with her purchase.

It was cold, so we needed cocoa.... very easy to find in that neighborhood! More yummy!

We walked through Washington Square and ended up in NYU's bookstore. N was thrilled. He found lots of hard cover books about Greek Mythology, and wanted to buy a hard cover copy of the Iliad. (It was $35, so I said we'd see if we could borrow Grandpa's copy - then he found a more age-appropriate book on mythology, so we got that.  As a bonus, we found a 4th book has come out in a series that both C and I read when we were on vacation.

It got colder and we remembered that N needed boots and I couldn't find them in Bridgewater or online. (A specific kind). While C & I looked in girl-clothes shops, they found them. Only 2 sizes too big (no snow this season - he can wear them next year - I wouldn't have bought them that big, good thing Dad is nicer than Mom).

We braced the cold and I found the car. Everyone was so impressed.... didn't share that I had a plan on how to find the car - park somewhere easy to find to begin with. :-)

We came home, I made dinner that everyone liked, C and I watched the Grammy's for a bit (the boys were watching some zombie-show). (I love Adele - no nonsense, just singing!) But it was cold upstairs - so I feared the pilot light went out on the heater.... it had. But T discovered that our water heater is leaking. Guess we're going to be getting a new one this week.

So T and I browsed the laptop for cell phones (another incident Saturday - NOT MY FAULT has left me cell-less) and then T and I watched Lilyhammer. My new favorite show.

A really great day.  Love a relaxing and family-focused Sunday.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Postcard from Virginia?

Imagination's the limit
It's a clean slate, and I love it.

My Christmas present from T: an office. He took out the furniture, painted he walls light grey (which I picked because it represents silver). A white curtain that I bought from IKEA seven or eight years ago has finally found a destination, and only needs a rod. A new ceiling fan to keep me cool in the summer.

I've been using pinterest to gather my thoughts on the space's design. I find while in the stores I'm drawn to darker furniture, but when I look at images, I crave the lighter side. It would allow the colors to stand out. From yarn. From pictures. From books. From whatever I want.

One book I plan to buy specifically for this room: Virginia Woolf's  A Room of One's Own.  Now that I am married, have two kids and a big house, I realize that what I missing is a little piece of real estate that is for me. I share a room, and while the kitchen is mostly my domain, it is certainly shared space.

How will I fill this space? It's up to me. But I want a warm and welcoming environment. A place where *I* want to be. A working space for my multitasking, a creative spirit.

A room of my own.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

No good deed....

You know the saying:
Last week I treated myself to flowers

No good deed goes unpunished. It's one of my favorites and I use it often.

But this week it's quite the opposite. I'm suffering from NOT doing my good deeds for myself and others. I haven't cooked anything since Friday. I haven't exercised in a week. Instead of helping my son, I berated him for not having his homework organized. I drove my Dad home (who treated me to a FANTASTIC MEAL at Charlie's) but I didn't actually help him. Normally I clean out the fridge or organize something. This time? Nada.

I guess I have done "one good deed". I offered to be part of a committee. It's been a huge time commitment - and I have missed at least 2 meetings. No good deed goes unpunished: instead of catching up on my favorite shows, I'm trying to rid a presentation of passive sentences.... Why did I offer to do this???? I don't know, I guess I'm just a link in a chain....




I could break that chain, have a glass of wine and knit for a while. Tomorrow is a new day to run, to cook, to help the kids. Last week's flowers are withering. But tomorrow is a new day... it's up to me how I allocate my resources.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Lecture Du Jour

At 86, giving a medical lecture sans notes
It's been a couple of years since my last time in a lecture. And I've been to a medical lecture before, but today I am wondering why not. It was very interesting to listen to a description of pathology, disease and cancer. And the lecturer, of course, was my Dad. He's been teaching the Radiology Technicians at the local hospital for about 25 years. I guess that he should know it pretty well, but at 86 he still has the ability to teach without notes, for two hours (with a 5 minute break). 

My father is an inspiration to many. At 86 he keeps in shape by walking and swimming laps, eating healthy and doing crossword puzzles. Actually he thoughtfully copied several in the library today for both of us. I'm not much of a crossword person - but as the NY Times crossword puzzle gets progressively harder, and today is Monday, I actually have a chance to solve some answers.

I have to admit that I've always been a little jealous of my Dad. He's known his whole life he wanted to be a physician. Just last week, when he was helping tutor our son, N said to him "Grandpa, if you weren't a doctor, you would have been a great teacher." Seeing him today I completely agree. Two have two professional talents is quite the feat. I'm still trying to find one that suits me.

My Dad has many faults. (Who doesn't?) But his gifts are many and he's been so fortunate to be in such good health, kept his stamina and his mental faculties in tact.

I'll be very lucky to walk in his footsteps. I just wish I'd followed him more professionally when I had the chance. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

inertia

My old sneaks - currently resting
Objects in motion tend to stay in motion.

This week I feel like an object at rest. My butt hasn't been in gear for anything. I should be running nearly daily to prepare for the Rutgers Half Marathon in April. It's a beautiful day - I should take advantage of the warm temps and the sun.

I should be doing more to build my business. There is incredibly much to do.

I sooooo should be doing about 5,000 other things.

I could even be doing something fun - planning our next vacation.

But somehow my computer is like a magnet this week. This morning I wasted several hours surfing the net. Looking and repinning images to Pinterest.

I'm wasting my precious time.

I never regret exercising, so why is so hard to begin? I slept relatively well. I need the fresh air. I've had breakfast and coffee and now I finished T's Lindt chocolate. All good reasons to hit the road.

Yesterday I went skiing. I had no problem getting myself ready. The only issue: I discovered T had no hat! Seriously? I knit hats constantly - at least 15 hats in the last few years. Yesterday I tried to play beat-the-clock in the car, knitting a hat for T before we got to the mountain. Alas, the curvy roads made me queasy. Even picking that simple project up doesn't entice me.

Objects in motion sometimes need a push. Mine's often a clock: I run about 10 minutes late to everything.

OK clock - do your thing. Body. Get into gear. As I look now, I see if I don't run I won't ever make it to where I need to be by 6-ish (again, the 10 minute rule applies).

Laptop, prepare for your turn to be well rested.

Time to go.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Closet cleaning

When I run I often listen to Eminem. I enjoy lots of his music, in spite of myself. But even better than music I love running with a friend, discussing our lives, our families, our town... Yesterday KK and I ran 5+ miles of scenic Bridgewater. After we split up I ran to "Cleaning out my Closet" and got inspired to tackle mine. Literally!

The finished product: A lot of red in my closet.... 
I came home and started to clean our bedroom. First I stripped the bed and put on my favorite sheets. Then I looked in my closet and said ENOUGH.

I pulled out everything on hangers and shelves. I made 3 piles: Keep, basement, donate. (Actually a forth "dunno" formed, but that got sorted).

It seemed never ending. I had so much crap in my closet - it was a haven for "dunno what to do with this, so let's just throw it here and forget about it".

Today I'm clearing out the stuffed bags and reassessing leftover items.

Keep


Basement


Donate

I need to do this with my life. A sort of Keep, Basement, Donate for all of my intangible stuff.

"Keep":
Building my business/my future
Important tasks/work/house
Positive relationships
Goals I want to achieve
Yarn that I plan to use this year (literally and figuratively)

"Basement":
Back burner items
Classes I would like to take, someday
Travel to exotic/expensive places
Yarn that I like but have no concrete plans for using in 2012

"Donate":
Efforts that aren't working or counterproductive
Volunteering overload
Difficult relationships, people who take advantage of me
"Yarn that I will never use" (a euphemism)

I am pleased with my post-cleaning closet. I wonder how it would look if I did the same with my life....