I try very hard to teach my children that material possessions are not the key to a fulfilling life.  I try very hard to remind myself of this fact as well.  Especially at this time of year, and particularly in the face of those damn commercials featuring a beribboned Lexus in some lucky bitch’s driveway.  But I will always want my kids to derive their happiness not from Nintendo DS and cell phones, but from the people who give them those objects.  (just kidding, sort of).   As Charlie Brown once said, “Happiness is warm puppy”.  He obviously never sat in the warm, heated leather seats of a Lexus RX350 however.

ANYWAY…seriously, I am a sentimental fool, and I prefer attachments to people, rather than objects.  Unfortunately however, I have a lot of objects to which I am sentimentally attached.  One of these objects, a ring I wear daily to be exact, got lost today, and now I am beside myself.  I don’t have a lot of expensive jewelry, and what I have is generally things that I wouldn’t cry over if I lost them.  However my rings, especially my wedding rings, are the exception.  Thank heavens I didn’t lose one of them (they belonged to my grandmother, and I would just jump into the grave next to her if I ever lost one of those!) but the one I did lose today is nearly as special as my wedding rings.

While I was pregnant with our first child, I used to tease Matt by telling him that it is traditional to buy your wife expensive jewelry after she gives birth.  She gives you a baby, you give her diamonds.  “It’s the least you can do”, I would tell him.  (Yeah, so it wasn’t until after I had kids that I realized materialism was bad.)  Of course he would just scoff at the idea of such a gift exchange.  “The baby is YOUR gift too”, he would say.  “What more do you need?” he would say.  I would laugh, but I kept dropping jewelry hints until the days in my last trimester when all I wanted was for him to shut the hell up and get me some damn french onion soup.

Then came Emma’s arrival:  23 hours of labor, BACK labor at that, several vomiting episodes, an hour of pushing, and all the technicolor glory of giving birth , shoved right in his FACE!   He was wonderful throughout, and clearly exhilarated and emotional when he first lay eyes on his daughter.  But yeah, he just saw one gory and raw reminder of the power and miracle of life. 

Matt stayed by our side until we were finally resting comfortably in our room, this new family of three.  Then, as I was drifting off, I felt him peck my forehead and heard him whisper “I’ll be right back”.  Lucky for him I couldn’t muster the energy to say “WHERE THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING LEAVING ME WITH THIS MINIATURE STRANGER BUSTER??” 

About an hour later he finally returned.  I was a bit miffed that he had mysteriously abandoned me and couldn’t imagine where he had been aside from perhaps McDonalds.   He sat beside me and placed a box in my hands.  It was from Bailey, Banks and Biddle.  I immediately began to cry.  (though as anyone who has given birth can attest, it wouldn’t have taken much to coax tears)  I had forgotten all about the jewelry teasing at this point.  Indeed I had been given the most extraordinary gift in the world–a healthy baby girl.  Yet here was my darling husband, who after witnessing what I went through to bring this baby into our lives, realized “Damn, she was right.  Jewelry IS the least I can do!!!”  Remembering that moment still makes me smile.

It is the sentiment attached to that jewelry that makes it so important to me.   So when I was walking out the door this morning and noticed that my beautiful, gold and amethyst “birth”day ring was not on my finger, I freaked.  I have yet to find it even though I have scoured my entire house, including the trash, the dog food bin, and intend to even examine the dog’s crap piles in case of an accidental ingestion.  I cried all morning.

But I wrote that story here for a reason: to remind myself that no matter what happens to the ring, the memory of the moment, the meaning behind it, can never be lost.  Well, and I do still have the matching bracelet. 😉

Matthew, I love you honey.  You are an amazing husband and father.  Even if you can’t give me everything I want (beribboned cars for example), you give me everything I need.  And that’s all that matters.

I’m feeling rather scatterbrained and ADD this evening.  Sprinkle in some writer’s block and you got yourself one hopeless blogger.  However, I wanted to once again begin anew and attempt an entry a day for the month.  Gotta get those writing juices flowing somehow.  So here’s December 1st.  Wish I could say I was off to a good start!

Why is my brain scattered you ask?  Ok, so you didn’t, but I’ll tell you anyway.  Pull up a seat.  This will only hurt for a second.  (And it will hurt me more than it hurts you.)  Give me a minute while I attempt to reign in some of my flurry of brain farts…

  1. Christmas is a mere 24 days away and yet I am still recovering from my Thanksgiving induced food coma.  For shit’s sake, I’m still digesting my (delicious) fried turkey and yet I cannot avoid the constant, blaring reminders that I better:  trim the tree (gotta get one first), deck the halls, get a card-worthy photo of the kids, send the cards, visit Santa, and buybuybuybuy.  Oh and if you know where I can get my hands on those damn Zhu Zhu pets, drop me a line.
  2. Moving.  Yeah, the sob story continues.  We are desperately trying to find a decent house to rent within our kids’ current school district.  Apparently I’d have an easier time trying to find Bin Laden.  I guess that’s what I get for moving to Rural East Jabib.  We’ve got until January 31st.  tick…tick…tick
  3. Our Diner.  It’s still chillin’ down there in Charlotte, waiting for a cash infusion.  Making my husband nuts.  Giving us both major agida.  It’s set to open sometime this winter–God, Yahweh, Allah, whoever, willing, it still will open.  This Diner is an ongoing source of stress for us.  This topic alone could fill an infinite number of blogs.  It is certainly filling up an infinite number of my brain cells, as evidenced by the number of gray hairs sprouting from the area immediately above.
  4. My kids.  Status quo.  I have an eleven year old whose behavior is strikingly similar to that of a two-year-old.  My memories of myself at this age (ohmygod I am SO sorry Mom!) and her good grades are the only things keeping me from abandoning her at the Amish farm up the road.  I also have a six-year-old whose awesome hilarious personality is the only thing serving her as a means of personal self-defense.  Sort of like how a puppy’s cuteness is the only thing keeping her alive after she has peed all over your white carpet.
  5. Have I mentioned my job yet?  I am finally, gainfully employed!  I never would have imagined that teaching a roomful of snotty-nosed preschoolers would make me so happy, but hell yes it does!  Sense of purpose, feeling like I make a difference, getting out of my house for a good reason other than shopping, bringing home a paycheck…all that and more are making me feel pretty darn good these days!  Number 5 here is basically the one thing that’s keeping me from going nutty from Numbers 1-4!

So, there you have it.  Those are the biggest brain toots anyhow.  Of course there are vast numbers of other, silent-but-deadly ones jostling for space in there, but I won’t bore you with those.  Suffice it to say that the majority of them revolve around my ever-shrinking wallet (See item #5 above–I am a preschool teacher.  Read:  not paid shit.) 

However, I must also add that lately, no matter how much Items 1-5 are weighing upon me, I can end each day with a smile.  No matter how crazy the day was, no matter how stressed I may be about tomorrow, I can still go to bed feeling far more blessed than cursed.  No matter what, I know I can always count on the one and only thing that matters to me:  hearing “I love you” from every person in this house.  I don’t care if it makes me sound like a peddler of cliche…as long as I have that to look forward to every night, I know life is good.

You know it’s been a really long damn time since you blogged when you can’t even remember your login password.  I tried logging in four times before giving up and resetting my password altogether.  Sad.  Just one more thing to reinforce my feelings of inadequacy and LOSER-ish-ness for neglecting my dear Kitty!  Well enough is enough dammit.  If I can’t manage to get my act together enough to at least check in every day or so, then I should just well, I don’t know, stick my fingers in the garbage disposal or something.  (While it’s on, I mean.)  Fortunately however, I don’t have a garbage disposal–and interestingly, this is the first time since I’ve lived here that I’ve felt that is a good thing.  Friggin septic system.  Now I have to scrape my plates in the trash can.  Woe is me.  But hey, at least I won’t accidentally (or on purpose) grind up my fingers in the Insinkerator.  Yay me!

What was I saying now?  Oh yeah.  Write more.  Avoid less.  I’m working on it!

Stay tuned…December may yet be a Nablopomo month for the Daily Nuzz.  I’m sure my two fans can hardly contain themselves.

 

Will you remember how we all snuggled on the couch and watched WipeOut, and made each other laugh until it almost got obnoxious?

Will you remember how you would ask me to hold you, even though you are all gangly limbs and wiggly bottoms and giant head that barely fits against my chest anymore?  And how I would do it anyway, and even though it was like rocking an octopus in my arms, it was still as sweet as when you actually fit in my lap.

Will you remember daddy’s patient cooking lessons?  How he let you sit on the counter to stir the batter before eventually graduating you knife handling skills?  Will you be able to recall the smell of the corn bread baking that you made together, from scratch?

When you are grown, and have your own children, will you continue the tradition of Sunday morning pancakes shaped like snowmen, cats or penguins?  Will you tell your kids how your daddy made them for you?

Will you feel comforted by memories of mommy singing lullaby every single night?  Will you smile when you think of how even when mommy was tired and cranky, all you had to do is say “please?” and I would lie down next to you and croak out the same song you’d heard a thousand nights before?

Will these memories manage to outshine others?  Will you think back to your childhood and feel happy?  Or will you struggle to pull these memories up from beneath the ones of these recent years?  These crazy days full of doubt, stress and near-constant anger and yelling.  I ask because today was a good day.  A very good day.  You swam and played and sang and danced.  You got a lot of love and attention from daddy.  You got a surprising amount of patience and tolerance from mommy.  And these are the days from which I want the fabric of your memories to be woven.  I only wish there were more like them.

Will you forgive me for worrying more about the dirty clothes on the floor than in how excited you are to have a new friend over?  Will you someday get your wish that mommy would stop worrying about how nice the yard looked and how clean the floors are and just stop and truly listen to your endless stories or watch your latest dance routine?  Will you be able to forget about how I got easily frustrated and angry about things that weren’t even your fault and took it out on you?  Will you forgive daddy for having to work so much, missing out on things that were important to you?  Will you understand that he truly hated having to do that?  That this crazy schedule and frantic phone calls and trips to Charlotte and whispered “discussions” with mommy were all so we could someday achieve our dream for ourselves, for you girls?  That even though we seem so tense and angry lately, it has nothing to do with you?  Will you be strong enough to realize that, and forgive us for not making it abundantly clear?  Will you trust the memory of us hugging you more than we yelled at you?

At the end of the day, when the darkness fills the space that had just been host to another screaming match over your messy room, will you forgive me once I gather you up in my arms?  Will that somehow melt the ugly memories and cement the good ones in your mind?  Can you then accept my lullaby and believe only those last words you hear before you drift off to sleep:

I love you.  I love you to the moon and back.

When my voice itself becomes nothing but a memory to you, will those be the words you remember?

While my landlord was busy being a major loser, and forcing me and my family to make some stressful decisions, everyday life has not taken a vacation unfortunately.  My kids are still on their vacation, and therefore, my whirly swirl of brain hornets have to be fogged out so I can focus on the little brats darlings and their needs.  Apparently, to my 11 year old, one of those needs is, as she puts it, to have “a facebook”.  Aside from my irritation at her syntactical choices, I am agog over this desire of hers.  For the past several months, she has bugged, nagged, begged, pleaded, and invoked the dreaded “but so-and-so’s mom lets her!” in a futile attempt to break me of my NO FACEBOOK FOR YOU rule.  Thus far, I have managed to comfortably hold my ground, without even resorting to “WELL, if so-and-so’s mom told her she could skateboard down the PA Turnpike would you ask to do that too?!” 

I am adamantly against my pre-teen using these social networking sites.  Nevermind the fact that Facebook’s User Agreement specifically states that members must be over age 14.  I would just prefer to see my child socializing in age-appropriate ways that involve real social settings, not virtual ones.  I believe that kids of this generation already have enough screentime distractions that are discouraging proper social development (not to mention creating attention deficit disorders of epidemic proportions).  The hours of tv watching, video game playing, texting and instant messaging are bad enough, in my opinion.  I try to limit screentime for my kids, but my 11 year old tends to co-opt the computer for her instant messaging habits on a frequent basis.  She chooses to communicate with her friends this way, as opposed to that dinosaur-aged convenience known as the “telephone”.  “But maaahhm,” she says, rolling her eyes, “I can’t talk to 5 people at the same time on the telephone.”  I’m not sure how you can do it online either, but hey, my addled, old lady brain can’t even figure out how to program the DVR.  Holding multiple conversations at once would surely cause grey matter to seep from my ears.  But somehow these kids manage it.  Unfortunately, this led to  the day my daughter began speaking to me using “Text” speech (“JK mom!  LOL”).  I knew then, it was time to curb the computer usage. 

Call me a curmudgeon, but I fear this generation is losing its ability to interact on a personal level.  I see it everyday.  My daughter has friends over and they inevitably end up either watching tv or playing on the computer.  I fear that their small talk or friendly conversation (actual speaking that is) is not stunted simply because they are surly preteens, but because they don’t know how to do it!  Give them a keyboard and they can chat for hours with someone across town.  Put those same kids in a room TOGETHER and they are at a loss for words.  Sure they might take 12 seconds to discuss where they got that cute pair of shoes, but within minutes, Emma is asking me if she can use the computer so her and her friend can “look stuff up”.  It’s like they are incapable of human interaction unless they have some sort of electronic apparatus in their hands.  Maybe I should count my blessings.  This could be a safe rehearsal for their adult years, when instead of a computer screen, they will require a beer before they can feel comfortable making conversation (it used to just be a personality trait, not a consequence of too much texting.  still is for some of us. ahem).  But hell’s bells man, those future frat parties are going to have a lot of “shit, where’s my beer?  I had to put it down so I could text Jessica” moments.

Seriously though, I truly feel that our children are slowly losing the ability to socially interact without some sort of plug-in crutch.  Kids today (oh my god did I just use that phrase?!) no longer know how to address adults or answer a phone properly.  They also have trouble waiting for anything.  It’s not an issue of manners—my children were indoctrinated with “please” and “thank you” from the time they could speak.  It’s a lack of experience!   They barely recognize a phone that doesn’t have a keyboard on it.  They are growing up in a world where shortcuts and instant gratification are the normal ways of communicating and living day to day.  Actually, I think it is affecting all of us these days, as far as the “quicker, better, now now now” expectation we have from living in a technologically advanced world.  Our kids though, are growing up without knowing any other way.  This worries me.

This is why, when my daughter asked me if she could “get a facebook”, I told her to get outside and play with her friends.  She whined and stomped, but she went.  Ten minutes later she returned.

“What’s wrong Emma?” 

“No one else is outside.”

“Really?  On such a beautiful day?  Maybe they are busy or out somewhere.”

And Emma’s response?

“They’re probably all inside, ON FACEBOOK!”

I can see that I will have to keep sticking to my guns. 

******************************************************************************************************                                                                                                                                                                                                  

I admit to being a Facebook junkie myself.  I do however recognize what an incredible time-suck it is, and that is one reason I forbid Emma from joining.  My brain is already down legions of  brain cells.  Hers is still growing though, and I want it to continually expand, not get stunted.

For me, Facebook  has been a wonderful tool for networking.  Oh and there’s that little matter of helping me find some long-lost friends that I never would have spoken to otherwise.  Facebook is fun.  I love peeking into my friend’s lives and their psyches (status updates can be an interesting window into some heretofore secretly deranged minds!)  It seems almost miraculous when I can click on an old friend’s profile and see photos of their children, who are currently the same age as I was when I knew their mom.  Getting in touch with people I haven’t seen or spoken to since college, but who have never left my thoughts, is an amazing gift.  Of course, there’s also all of those silly little apps, like Scramble or Useless Quiz DuJour that do nothing more than contribute to my neglectful parenting/homemaking.   Those are other reasons however, that I think Facebook is inappropriate for nonadults.  I don’t really relish the thought of my young daughter stumbling across “Which Sexual Position most reflects who you are?”

That is really my bottom line argument against kids using Facebook.  It is designed for adults.  Its purpose, content, ads, apps and so forth are aimed toward the presumed demographic—ADULTS.   It is clearly an adult forum, and as such, I feel strongly that my child has no place in that world. 

“Oh, but I made sure my child friended me so I can see what they are doing” they tell me.  I’m sorry, but I disagree with that approach for a few reasons.  Aside from the reasons I just stated, I also think it’s a bit creepy to be “friends” with your child.  Yes, I understand the reasoning to a point—seeing what the child is doing is somehow keeping them “safe” and reassuring you that they are as well.  For me however, the creep factor comes in when I think about the child seeing what I’m doing!  Now all of sudden I have to censor myself.  I would have to carefully consider everything I post, for fear my kid will find out that I pole dance on weekends.  (JK! JK!!)  Not that I regularly post dirty status updates (just occasionally), but I know that if my child could see what I wrote,  it would completely change how I use Facebook.  No thanks.

I enjoy my adult “me time”.  When I socialize, whether it be hanging out with my girlfriends poolside, barside or virtually, on Facebook, I prefer to be sans children.  Just as I wouldn’t want my daughter hanging out with me at a cocktail party, I don’t need her joining my social circle online either.  I’m fairly certain she feels the same way.  I also don’t have any desire to know everything she talks about with her friends.  She is entitled to a bit of privacy as well.  I am not naïve.  I know what I need to know, and pry where I need to pry.  I ask questions and encourage her to confide in me.  But I also feel there are natural boundaries in adult/child relationships, and frankly, Facebook falls under the “adults only” side.

“But your child will figure out how to do it anyway, so you may as well let her do it with your supervision” is the other argument.  I am sorry, but I don’t buy that one either.  I know this will piss some people off, but whenever I hear that line with regards to giving in to kids, I can’t help but think of the mom in my old hometown who used it to justify giving her teenagers alcohol for a party in her home.  She was supervising alright.  Through her sleeping eyelids.  While she was dreaming, a boy was downstairs drinking himself into a coma.    The mom woke up, but the boy never did.

Before you get your panties in a wad, I have to say I know alcohol is not on par with online social networking.  I am simply pointing out that we cannot parent by good intentions.  If something is inappropriate for kids, whether by law (as in liquor) or common sense (watching Faces of Death) or just your own parenting values (Facebook, for me), then you must stand strong and protect your children by simply not allowing it!  Sure, they may go behind your back and try it anyway—that’s their job—but if you are doing yours, you will probably find them out.  And then you can kick their asses. 

But like alcohol, I do believe there are personal safety issues inherent in Facebook, that require me, as a parent, to protect my child from being exposed.  Even if I were to allow her on there, with me as a “friend/spy”, how am I to then prevent her other “friends” from posting harmful things about her?  Is she savvy enough to know how to use the privacy settings so pedophiles and perverts can’t see the photos she posts of herself and her buddies?  And even if I taught her about that, have her friends’ parents done the same?  In my mind, it’s just one more potential minefield that my daughter is not mature enough to handle yet.

Parenting is tricky.  It’s hard and oftentimes downright terrifying.  (I’m still waiting for it to be featured on Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs”.  I mean, come on already!)  But I think one of, if not the, most important skills (art?) we can hone as newbie mommies and daddies, is being consistent.  Not just in our discipline tactics, but in teaching values and modeling these values ourselves.

It wouldn’t hurt to teach our kids the art of telephone manners though either.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go update my status….

My landlord called yesterday.  They have decided to move back here. Which means, when our lease ends in January, we have to MOVE AGAIN.  In light of my previous post, I guess that resolves some of my limbo issues. Unfortunately it introduces other ones.  

I have not yet absorbed the idea of leaving this house. Of packing again. Of dealing the financial and emotional crap that goes with relocating. The husband is busy wigging out enough for the both of us right now. I’m too busy trying to figure out how I will explain this to the girls.

Tonight, as I stood outside with my neighbor, watching my daughters chase fireflies with their posse of girlfriends, I couldn’t imagine taking them away from yet another home we have so fully embraced. Listening to them squeal in unison… that delightful sound mix of girly terror and pure glee…as they ran after bugs and ran away from the bats who were vying for their nights’ dinner, I couldn’t think of any place I’d rather be. I’m sure my kids were feeling the same way.

I figured as a parent I might be mending broken hearts on occasion. I never thought I’d be the one breaking them though.

Being a grownup sucks.

Well howdy stranger!  It’s been a while eh?  Yeah, I know, I haven’t been the best at keeping in touch.  But you haven’t done a very good job at guilting me into trying harder.  I am a Catholic, raised by a Jew.  I need guilt in order to get motivated, you know.  But I apologize nonetheless.  Sorry for being such a shitty friend.

May have a bit to do with the fact that I can barely sit still long enough to wipe my own butt, nevermind put two coherent sentences together here.  We moved.  Again.  Ok, so it’s been 6 months now, and I probably should’ve checked in once or twice.  But this move has been taxing in ways that have less to do with unpacking boxes, and more with the emotional fallout that can emerge once you are done arranging the furniture.  Now we have to go about the business of living here.  And that my friend, is a whole different ball of packing tape…

Suffice it to say, however, that I am about as settled as one can get when they aren’t entirely sure how long they’ll actually get to live here.  At least the boxes are all unpacked and the furniture is arranged.  The kids survived intact, in spite of some minor bumps in the road (“I hate it heeeere!  I hate this school!  I hate you for making us move here!”)  They eventually found their groove and now seem to be enjoying their new surroundings and new friends.  We live in the “country” now, to speak colloquially.  We’ve never lived so far from a major city before, and while Philly is only an hour away, that is light years compared to what we’re used to.  We actually have farmers for neighbors.  Amish farmers.  It’s incredibly peaceful and beautiful, but I will wax poetic about it some other time. 

Anyway, at least the kids are happy now.  As for me and the dear husband, well, I’m not so sure we’ve found our groove yet, but I do indeed love it here.  I guess that’s why I’ve been sort of hiding from you, Dear Kitty.  This move has been our most extreme yet, for a myriad of reasons.  I have been using way too much of my mental energy just trying to come to terms with my new life here (not the least of which is getting used to having my parents and my in-laws close by once again–mostly a good thing, but there’s always a bit of the bad and the ugly where family is concerned)…and for reasons I am not yet ready to discuss here yet, I am also grappling with the fact that this new life here may be temporary.   One minute I am living and loving the ordinary, everyday moments, like driving Emma to dance, or sitting by the pool (oh yes, did I mention we have a lovely pool?  for now that is.  but it’s AWESOME).  The next, I am smacked by the reminder that this may only be temporary.  It’s hard to feel settled when I have to keep telling myself “HEY, don’t get too used to this now.”  “Don’t bother getting too comfy here.”  Why even make friends?  Also, I want to get a job (husband will 2nd that emotion), a venture that is scary enough when you haven’t been gainfully employed for the past 11 years or so.  Throw in the possibility that you’ll have to quit so you can move AGAIN, and it’s another “Why bother?” situation.

Limbo.  That’s where I live now.  And I totally get why that place between Hell and Heaven is called the same thing.