Thursday, May 31, 2012

Growth Spurt


Lately, I've been writing about how much Sam has grown up, especially in the past year since he started working. It's such a hard thing to put into words, this growing up thing. This looking outside of the sphere of your family and taking a great big jump up and out into the world. I've struggled with how to articulate it.

And then, just before Sam and I left for Duluth for the weekend, I was in his room and I saw the box containing his very first pair of shoes. And then it hit me: No wonder I am having a hard time adjusting: I have been Sam's mother from the Size 7Ws through his current Size 13DDDDs. When I look at it like that, it makes me realize how much territory we've covered together and how much growing has occurred in between. 
Things are fine now and we (me) are over the worst of the sudden growth spurt/reality check that accompanied the jump into adulthood. But I still like this picture very much. And I think it says more about the journey of being a parent than words can ever say.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Taking Chance on Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, I think of my Dad. When I was merely a twinkle in my mother's eye, he was a Staff Sergeant in the 274th Army Air Force Base Unit. He served during World War II, but as the story goes (that he enjoyed telling so much) the only injury he suffered was walking into the propeller of a plane which thankfully, was not moving at the time. Later on, my Dad served in the Air Force Reserves and attained the rank of Major. When he passed away in 1992, the local VFW attended the wake and rendered Military Funeral Honors. I'm not sure I fully appreciated the meaning of this ceremony at the time. In fact, I'm sure I did not. And the truth is that I have not thought much about it much in the past 20 years since his death. But I thought about it this weekend after stumbling into a movie on HBO, called Taking Chance.

Based on a true story, Taking Chance (2009) is the story of a desk-bound Marine colonel who at some point in his career made the decision to opt for a tour of duty in a cubicle in Quantico. He's feeling too removed from the war and from the casualties of battle, and questions the comfortable choices he's made in his career. As a result, the colonel (played by Kevin Bacon) makes the decision to volunteer to act as a military escort to the remains of a fallen soldier, Chance Phelps. 


Kevin Bacon is spectacular as the colonel who begins his journey with good intentions but who gains so much more during his service as a military escort. The movie is touching and moving and above all, honorable. More than just showing a tradition that I had no idea existed, it made me feel proud to be an American and proud to know that this is how we treat our fallen heroes. I will never again see a member of the uniformed services in an airport and not wonder whether or not they are on a similar mission. And I will never again think of the unexpected ceremony at my Dad's funeral in quite the same way.

So on this Memorial Day, put down the hot dogs and wait until you watch this movie to go back for seconds on the potato salad. And while you're at it, feel lucky and proud and grateful, whatever your political views, that we have men and women in the armed services who give so much. Let us honor them all.  

Monday, May 21, 2012

Just Dance Like An Idiot 3


About a week ago I bought a Wii console for the third time. I bought the first Wii for Sam a few years ago so he could play Wii Bowling at the group home with the other guys. Then I saw how much fun it was and I bought one for myself (#2). I used to play all of the Wii Sports games like tennis, bowling, boxing. I even have a Wii Ski game. Anyway, for a long, long time, Sam was never interested in the Wii at my house because he was too busy playing his Sega, SuperNintendo, Playstation, GameCube, Nintendo DS and PS3. Then one day -- I'm not even really sure why -- it was the only thing he wanted to play.

One day he came home for the weekend and asked me if he could put my Wii in his room. I knew what that meant. But it was fine because at that point, I wasn't using it much and he was kind enough to let me keep the Wii balance board. I mention this story just so I can illustrate my redeeming qualities as a mother. I don't want anyone to think I just walk around all day telling Sam, "Screw you!"

So about two weeks ago, after my physical therapy team told me that I couldn't play tennis for about five months, skiing was out until December, and running was probably a month or two away, I decided to go virtual. I bought myself another Wii and a Just Dance 3 game. Am I the last person on earth to try this hilariously fun way to get off the sofa?

This is just about the most fun a person can have by themselves. If you haven't tried it, here's how it works: you pick the song, watch the screen and follow-along with dance moves set to music by Lenny Kravitz, Katy Perry, Van Halen and others. There’s even some disco music so my bad self can pretend I’m back in the 80’s. 

One of the best things about this kind of workout – for me at least – is that time flies while I’m dancing around my living room. Twenty minutes on the treadmill feels like an eternity. Twenty minutes of Just Dance goes by in a flash and super-challenges me aerobically (even though I am being careful with The Knee.)

The first time I tried it, I know I was completely hopeless but I was moving so much and laughing so hard, I got a great workout. I am actually getting better at it, but I’m convinced I still look ridiculous. I have provided the video below just to prove my point.




Swear to God, I look just like this.
But I'm going to keep doing it anyway.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Losing Weight the 1-800-Got-Junk Way

Denine-in-the-Box: College Graduation Photo from
Mom's Private Collectoin
8:45 - I am heading out the door to meet the Got Junk guys. I am oddly buoyant considering I have waited 10 months (since my mom's passing last August) to clean out her storage room. Part of my motivation is not wanting to spend $96 a month to store memory touchstones that, even if I waited another 10 months or another 10 years would still be there with all their power. I'm not sure what to expect today. 


I know there is plenty of furniture to which I have no emotional attachment. Perhaps, without knowing it, I practiced first by having the Got Junk guys come to pick up the family heirloom first: The Antique Couch (see 1-800-Junk-Therapy, 3.24.12) At least there is nothing in the storage facility that will have the same power, at least in the furniture category.


I know there will be boxes of mementos which I am planning to just haul back home for another day. And there is an odd antique ashtray set that was my mother's pride and joy. Sitting on the sofa last night, trying to figure out what to do with this item made me realize that if there was one thing my mother would come back from the grave to "get me" for, it would be this albatross. I have decided that the better part of valor is to keep it, much as it would be fun to see my mom again.


9:15 - I arrive at Public Storage only to realize that they haven't changed the lock and there's no way to get into the room. I wait. I fume. I rage, rage against the dying of the light. Then I realize that I have have the keys to the current lock on my keychain. Problem solved.


9:40 - I lift the gate to the storage room. So far so good. No ghosts or goblins or scary things waiting for me, at least not in plain view. Just a lot of furniture and a few boxes. I plow through the family photos the never-worn sandals, and the loads and loads of china some of which I know came from my mother's mother or my father's mother. I wonder to myself: Shouldn't their be a statute of limitations on this stuff? I mean Limoges is beautiful but I just don't have a antimacassar, humidor and Limoges kind of life. I own a microwave an iPhone and several other things that begin with "i". 


Nonetheless, I move that box to my car. I'll deal with that when I can deal with that. In the same box, I notice that my mother has saved the very first art project ever that I did in Mr. Stoffel's free-spirited art class in high school -- a hideous chunk of white plaster born from the ungodly womb of a milk carton and upon which I had carved a highly derivative Picasso-esque "sculpture". Right next to that is the very first ceramic pot that I had ever thrown on a potter's wheel in the same class. Although the bowl is only 3" wide by 2" high, it weighs about 20 pounds as a result of the thickness of it's sides. It would make a more effective weapon than anything else. And yet, she held on to it since I gave it to her in 11th grade (1972).


L to R: Woman's photo that came in the frame (I thought that was funny);
My brother, Jay, in red frame; Me and Sam standing in front of car;
My niece, Jane, in large oval frame; Me in red frame;
My brother Jay and I in gold frame. 
10:15 - By now I am humming along, looking through boxes and efficiently sorting. I check in with myself: I seem to be O.K. The combination of smoke-smell from my mother's belongings owing to her 50-year smoking habit mingles with the heat of the day and it reminds me of a conversation I had with Sam earlier this year. We were talking about Grammy's passing and I said, "I know Grammy is in a better place. Somewhere where she can have a glass of wine and feel good, maybe even do some skiing once and a while." And Sam looks at me, very somberly and says, "And some smoking." Then we laugh for 20 minutes.


It's in the high 80's outside so I grab a swig of Smart Water and move to the next box. It's all books: Dorothy Parker, Edna Ferber, John Steinbeck, Carson McCullers. It's then that I start sobbing. It hits me so fast it nearly takes my breath away. There is something about reading the names on the covers, knowing they were her favorite authors, and I hear her voice in my head repeating their names and saying how much she loves them. And it's not lost on me that she taught me to write and to love writing the way I do. I grab some Kleenex in the front seat of my car and cry it out and I'm just so glad that my Got Junk buddies aren't showing up until 11:00. 

Got Junk "Ghostbusters" P.J. and Zach
11:00 - The crew arrives and they are courteous, helpful and truly pleasant. As luck would have it, the extra time I spent sorting and clearing out mementos means that all they need to do is swoop in and move things to the truck. Zach and P.J. are extremely helpful, and comment several times on how nice the furniture is that I'm giving away. It is nice stuff and it makes me feel good that they think so too. As I say to them, "Unless I want to start a museum in my Mom's honor, I really have no place to put it." They are very understanding and assure me that they will donate everything and it won't go into a landfill. This means everything to me. It means recycling and a good home for furniture that meant something to my Mom. And less grief for me when she comes back to haunt me about giving away the grandfather clock that never kept the right time. 


11:50 - By now the truck is loaded and the storage room is completely empty. It feels like a small miracle. And I can't believe how good it feels to know that this little 5x6 room, with all its power and all its memories has been resolved. It's like Ghostbusters came this morning instead of 1-800-Got Junk. As I drive away toward ARC Value Village in New Hope to donate some of my Mom's special art prints that will help support their mission for DD kids (I know she would like that), I feel this tremendous weight lift from my shoulders. Ten months ago, just thinking about these items overwhelmed me and now I am sending them on their way. I'm smart enough to know that I have only dispersed some of the physical manifestations of my mother's passing. But I am also smart enough to know that this is a very big step forward. One she would approve of if she were here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

My Cheatin' Heart

I have been cheating on my sweet little blog this week. I have, on two occasions already, taken my writing affections and bestowed them on two other sites as a “guest”. Then I snuck away into the night leaving my own blog site with a story from last Monday. Ooops.

You always have to watch out for the quiet ones.

I’ve become so accustomed to writing for my blog in a particular voice that it’s fun to moonlight on completely different topics. Some of the writing feels like work writing (in a good way): informational, mildly persuasive (hopefully) and succinct. However, I recently volunteered to write a post for a nature center in Ontario that is somewhat different. Like I was cheating on my blog while wearing a red wig, a trench and smoking a Marlboro. 

Here is the link to my guest post ("The Tourist"), in the blog section of the Gamiing Nature Center. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dinner, Funny Faces, Prom and Gomez.

 One of the ways that Sam and I "play" is to go see plays and musicals.
We saw The Addams Family on Saturday night at The Ordway.
It was verrry cool. The perfect evening.

First, we had dinner at The St. Paul Grill. 
Food was beyond words, as was my handsome son.
Sam ordered the Sea Bass and I wondered
when he stopped eating fish sticks and became a sophisticate.

No Worries: This is Root Beer, not Guinness.
After dinner we crossed through the park in Landmark Square.
It was the most beautiful, warm, breezy evening.
We sat on a bench and watched the world go by...

                                  

 And we did a few pictures, including a "1,2,3 Funny Face" photo*
*Special thanks to Janet and Maggie for the inspiration on this one!


We saw lots of girl-women in flowy gowns having 
pre-prom photos taken with their dates.
Sam said, "What's a prom?"
I explained it to him and felt a little bad 
that he never experienced one. 
And then I thought about my own prom.
And I realized that he didn't really care about proms,
he just cared about having a hot date.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Special Mother's Day Edition

Here is the card and the box of chocolates that I got from Sam for Mother's Day.
If you look closely, you'll notice the box is empty. No chocolates.
That's because the minute I opened it we dove in.
It was only 8:30 in the morning and it was a terrible thing to do,
but we giggled the whole time and felt
like, "pssst...don't tell your Mother".

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!
P.S.-I feel like I'm going to barf now but it was still great fun.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Stuff I Did in the Past Few Day and Random Stories


Wintergreen Feet
1. Yesterday afternoon was mani-pedi maintenance. Same color on hands and feet (see matchy-matchy). I couldn't figure out what this color reminded me of and then I realized: it's a lot like toothpaste meets mint-chocolate-chip ice cream without the chocolate chips.


2. I took a picture of the cat. (I have two cats, my lifetime limit.) I'm a middle-aged woman. I'm supposed to do things like take pictures of my cat. I won't put it in my wallet or anything though. (Random Story #1: My son once had a  mean school social worker. She finally lost it one day at an IEP meeting. Her face got all red and puffy and she blurted out, "We don't want Sam at our school!" That is not a remark you ever forget, especially coming from a social worker at a school where you send your vulnerable child every day.


The One, The Only: Ginger-Peach
The other thing I remember about her is that she was the only person in the school that year who had a yearbook picture taken with the school's therapy dog. To me that just explained every possible thing that I needed to know about her. She should have had a bumper sticker on her forehead that said, "I Love Dogs! I Just Don't Like Humans Very Much." 


3. I called 1-800-Got-Junk and made plans to clean out my mother's storage locker on Saturday. Whoops. I reconsidered and decided that Mother's Day weekend was probably not the best time to do this and rescheduled it for next weekend. 


Sam's Favorite Actress
4. Occasionally I get unsolicited requests for Sam Stories which tend to be overall day brighteners. Here's your Sam Story for the week: One of Sam's favorite actresses, one that he thinks is super-hot, is Reese Witherspoon. But he doesn't call her that. He refers to her as "Reeses Witherspoon". It always makes me laugh.


5. Sam and I are off to The Ordway on Saturday to see The Addams Family. We bought these tickets forever-ago and he's never been to The Ordway in St. Paul. He will just love exploring it and will probably make me walk up every flight to "see it" even though we have seats so close to the stage I feel like I'd better study my lines. 


Pre-theatre, we are having dinner at The St. Paul Grill, where Sam's Dad always reminds me to remind Sam not to order a $58 porterhouse when the $32 one will do. (Random Story #2: The last time I did a St. Paul Grill-Ordway double-header was with Hadley a year or so back. As I recall, we "split" a few martinis and almost had trouble finding our way across the street. We sobered up during the opera which all things considered, was not a bad place to wake up.)


That's all I can think of right now. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Playing With Martinis...

The past few days have been so...well, serious.
In the spirit of playing, it's time to lighten the mood
(but not the quality of the vodka*).

I saw these martini glasses advertised somewhere
and I just love them.
They are definitely kind of hokey,
but they are going on my wish list anyway.

*Truth be told, I am sitting here swilling my favorite drink:
Diet Snapple Peach Tea.
I'm just wild, I tell ya. Just wild!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Getting Off Course. Climbing Back On.

I'm going through a rough patch right now. I can feel it. Sometimes it frustrates me. A lot. And more to the point sometimes I get frustrated with myself.


Do you remember when you were a little kid and you played the game Mother May I? I think it is known by a bunch of different names but basically the leader would stand with their back to the players as they would ask "Mother May I..." take steps forward. If the answer was "yes" you took the number of steps forward that you asked for; if the answer was "no", it was usually followed by an order to "take two steps to the left and one step to the right, hopping on one foot." The object of the game was to tag the leader and not get too far off course.


Maybe that's what I'm feeling these days: I am off course. The problem is that I have been off course for quite a while.


My health issues were the first thing to throw me off course back in 2010. ("Take four steps to the left with your eyes closed and your fingers crossed.") I soldiered forward and tried to meet the challenge of breast cancer which -- so far, so good -- I've been able to do. Ironically, it was after that when I think I let my guard down and my course veered toward the Bermuda Triangle. 


Someone who I shouldn't have been dating in the first place but who nonetheless became very dear to me over the course of several years and who saw me through my health crisis, exited my life. Gulp. ("Take three steps forward, have your head examined, and then five steps back.") One could argue that I went off course before that event (and not after) but we'll leave that one for the history books. 


Six months after finishing treatment for breast cancer, I was encouraged to take a lesser role at work because of the stress-level of my job and the responsibilities of caregiving for my Mom. Gulp. ("Take two steps back, put a smile on your face and suck it up.") While changing roles has been very positive, it was not without its own trauma to my ego. Then a few months later, my Mother passed away after a long illness and a downward spiral lasting about six months. Double-gulp. ("Don't move. Just sit down and try to breathe normally. Oh and try to remember not to fight with your brother too much.") 


Sam, the dearest human being to me on this planet, is next in my transition challenges. He is growing up. And the dream he has always had of wanting to work at Target -- a dream we never thought possible for him -- looks like a real possibility in the next few years. I couldn't be happier for him but some days I feel that I am going through the equivalent of Empty Nest Syndrome but under vastly different circumstances. ("Take three steps forward, give yourself an atta-girl and then try to figure out your next move. You may need some tissues for the ride.") Gulp and at the same time: Hooray for Sam.


And now, just when I had some momentum going to reach my fitness goals, I had knee surgery and a predictable fitness set-back. ("Take two steps back, gently. Careful with the knee.") Damn!


It strikes me as I write this that my knee surgery is really the least of it all. And that's a good thing to know. It helps me to see that sometimes I focus on the least of my worries because somewhere inside, I recognize that the greatest of my worries feel insurmountable -- too hard to really absorb and worry about. It's like the woman who escapes a car crash and says, "Oh damn, I broke a nail." So I guess that's where I am right about now. I can't worry about getting cancer again, or finding a new soul mate. Worrying will never bring my Mom back, and kids grow up and leave the nest, just as surely as the little swallows who are born under my eaves of my deck every spring. 


The circuits in my brain understand that I am going through a gang-bang of a transition here. And I know that going through just one of these things is enough to send anyone crashing toward the rocks. Some days I wish that the circuits in my brain would tell my heart to chill about all this, but I don't think it works that way. They are essentially heart things, not brain things. But some days I have a serious urge to rip my brain and my heart out of all of it faster than one of those Porsches' I covet can go from zero to sixty. I need to feel that I am moving forward and into the future even if some days I'm not sure I'm ready for that.



So for now, I am going to try to take one day at a time and one step at a time toward my dreams (writing a memoir, going back to tennis camp this summer, getting back to volunteer work, finding an available Mr. Terrific) and try to focus on the steps forward. But maybe until I have more confidence in the soundness of my course, I'll count each step forward and try to be patient with myself in case I need to take a few steps back. But I won't ask any one's permission. I'll just take it as it comes.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Video Game Madness and The Bad Mommy

So yesterday, when I wasn't observing other parents and offering helpful hints on how to raise their children, I was actually at Dave and Buster's with Sam. And stay tuned because I am going to use this particular post to prove that I am no saint when it comes to being a parent.

"Saint Mom"
Sam and I had lunch before we hit the video games. We had a lovely waitress named Christine who served our burgers and chicken fingers. I had to convince Sam not to hug her and tell her she was "hot", but he did tell her she was "beautiful and lovely" anyway. 

"Beautiful and lovely" is something I taught him to say as an alternative to the gropy  sound of "hot" (as in "I grope, you grope, we grope"). Since he enjoys complimenting women, I figured "beautiful and lovely" was likely to be both charming and PG to most women.

After lunch, he hit the video racing games -- his favorites. He's quite good at them. I am quite bad. I challenged him to one game and he still won despite owning a driver's license myself.


And yes, this is Sam's ideal form of playing.


So here's the downside of spending three hours at Dave and Buster's: Sam kind of gets in this zone (I think it's the wild abandon zone for those of you who've been reading along...). And at this point, he's convinced that he really drove there himself in his video car and that gimpy Mom with the post-op knee is completely superfluous. He's got his game card loaded with video cash and the world is his oyster. 

It's at this point that I approach him about wrapping up the games so we can leave. He ignores me a little and then flat out refuses. So I'm looking at this 6'1" super-recalcitrant male who is refusing to leave. I try reasoning with him, giving him a time limit, negotiating other options and he continues to flat out refuse. And I just kind of lose it for a minute. "Screw you", I said, "Next time you can drive yourself!"

In this moment, I am not proud of myself and yet, I know I have been up against a worthy adversary. Oddly enough, this seems to get through to him. Nice that such language made an impact -- proof that I don't usually talk to him like this, Thank Jesus. Of course I realize this this opens me up to blog post retribution like: "To the Horrible Mother Who Told Her Son, 'Screw You!'" Of course, nothing is worse than my self-retribution for losing it like that.

By the time we get to the car, he is laughing (he knows I am crazy). He looks at me and says, "You say 'Screw You' to me!" Then we are both laughing and I am calling him Mr. Too Big for His Britches. We decide to go to Dairy Queen for the dessert we didn't get at lunch, and go home. So he can play some more video games.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Letter to the Beleaguered Mother at Dave and Buster's

I saw you today at Dave and Buster's with your little son who was delightful. Maybe you were having a bad day? Maybe this delightful little one had been too delightful for you today and yesterday and the day before? Because in the course of 10 minutes, all I heard you do was scream his name and say, "No!" "No!", when he picked up the ball and started bouncing it (He has quite a dribble! NBA take note.) "No!", when he picked up the bright red stuffed bulldog (after I did) and I saw a smile spread across his face. After seeing your interaction with him, I thought he had the right idea when he took the bulldog and ran for the door to get away. I wanted to join him.

I tried to catch your eye and wanted to engage you with how truly charming your little son was. You were having none of it and ignored me. I didn't take it personally because I figured that if you weren't engaging your own son there is no reason why you would want to engage with me.


Here's what I wished I could have said to you: I'm sure you are a good Mom, but don't forget that your child is two (or two-and-a-half, at most). He should be bouncing balls and playing with stuffed animals -- it's practically part of his genetic destiny at this age. And for God's sake -- You're at Dave and Buster's, not The White House! Lighten up! It's OK! Try to put aside your humorless mood and explore the world with your son, or at least encourage him to do that.


One other thing while I'm on the subject: You have a typically developing child. Embrace that and appreciate that your curious young son has the world at his feet and he has the instincts to explore that world and initiate contact with it. Don't take that for granted. You will probably not have to take him to a speech therapist or a sensory therapist, or teach him how to play with blocks. In other words, and I say this with tremendous respect as the mother of a young man with special needs, count your blessings and the blessings that God has given your child. Don't ever take his natural curiosity and interest in you and the world for granted. (I may have said that already.)


Smile. Take a deep breath. And let your son experience the world. He has plenty of time to be president later. Right now, he just wants to play. And he wants you to play with him.


Sincerely,
Experienced Mom

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Incredible Lightness of Play

Like a crazy person, I continue my daily blogging. This month, exploring the idea of "play". It disturbs me that I've had to really think about this one. Play -- when do I do that? Do I do that? And if I do, when and what does it look like?


When I was much younger, play was very simple: walk out the door, go one house down to the right on South Hamilton Street, and there was Bobby. Knock on the door and ask if Bobby could come out to play. Collect Bobby, and then run into the backyard and go through the alleyway that connected the back of four neighborhood houses (including mine) and take a left to get over to Kevin's house on the other side of the block. Collect Kevin, and maybe go across the street to Christ Church and play forts. This usually consisted of sitting in a small group of trees and pretending we were "hiding out" as half the population of the town passed by the intersection near "the fort". 


After we get tired of hiding out, go to Penny's Variety Store and buy some Orange Crush and some Lick-a-maid sticks. Try to go to Kevin's house and get chased outside. Try to go to Bobby's house and get chased outside. Get bored and decide that the most fun thing in the world would be to make mud burgers, load them into the large, flat leaves that fall from the trees in Bobby's backyard, and chuck them at his sister's underwear hanging on the clothesline. For some reason, we thought it would also be fun to yell, "Yippee! Yappee! Yahoooey!"


Bobby was a funny guy. He had this great laugh and was normally "the good kid". But every once and a while, something would just light his fire and he would display this little wild streak. At that point, there was no stopping him. I remember that we each were making the mud burgers and climbing on the sliding board so we could get a better launch pad toward the huge, white sister-panties. We'd throw the mud bomb, scream the battle cry and slide down the sliding board. We must have thrown about 20 of these things. Bobby's face was getting all red and he had crossed over into The Wild Zone. Kevin and I were laughing so hard, but not so hard that we didn't see Bobby's grandfather when he came out on the back porch. Bobby didn't see him, or was just too far gone. His grandfather had to yank him off the sliding board and drag him into the house. We didn't see him for a few days after that. It's a wonder that he didn't end up on a milk carton.


These days, playing is a little more complicated. But when I think of playing and think about the times that I'm really having fun, it usually involves losing myself in an activity, getting dirty and being wild. I'm not even kidding.  Skiing fast with my iPod in my helmet, spending a week at tennis camp, going on a marathon hike at Glacier or ending a long day of cycling with my legs covered in bike grease, is my way of playing. I mean, there are certainly other activities that I enjoy, but I guess I associate playing with a kind of wild abandon that almost becomes a meditation. It's like a relaxed focus, all at the same time.


By the way, I guess I don't need to point out that I was a bit of a tomboy when I was a kid, no?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Told B and B Told C: "I Need Some Wine and No A to Z!"

The past few days have been so funny. First, there was a rip-roaring end of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. (I'll be right back. I think I owe myself a glass of wine...). 


Sam with instructor at We Can Ride.
Look at the devilish smile on My Angel.
"OK, so where was I?", she said lifting a Tiffany crystal flute of Lamarca Prosecco (She only has two of the flutes out of a set of four left. Bummer. In his day, Sam used to love to throw these against the tile floor when he had a meltdown. He just loved the tinkling sound they made as they shattered and the look on Mom's face as she realized she hadn't put the child lock on the cabinet door. It's what the behavioral analyst referred to as "overstimulating".) But all that was a long time ago.


It's funny how life can change in an instant. T-minus-five "instants" ago I was sitting down to write yet another post. Suddenly, I thought about visiting my writing group Facebook site to see how the A to Z Survivor party was going. It seemed to be in full, virtual swing. Everyone was drinking wine. Why not me? 


Luckily, when I remodeled the kitchen about two years ago, I made sure to have the contractor build in a small, 28-bottle wine fridge in my kitchen. Cross my heart, I did not know what type of floor I wanted in the kitchen or the color of the granite. I didn't know if I was going to go with stainless appliances or switch from electric to gas (I did both). However, I did know that I wanted a wine fridge. (Think "C" for kitchen "Conceit".) And for another moment, I actually worried because I could only fit the 28-bottle and not the 35-bottle fridge in the space. Then it occurred to me that as much as I like my wine, I probably have never had more than five bottles in my house at any one time. The rest is history. As conceits go, it's a fun one!


"She said, as she took the Lamarca Prosecco in increasingly larger gulps." Luckily, now that Sam was 22 and living at the group home, the support, stability, and a heartbreaking but healthy dose of what we called "behavior boot camp" (six months at an ICF-MR) when he was 10 years old had changed his life. Now he had bigger fish to fry (getting dates) and actually enjoyed drinking grape juice out of the remaining flutes on holiday occasions. 


As many of you may know, the past 30 days have been spent in the service of daily blogging, according to the letters in the alphabet. Great fun, new friends, and a very cool challenge that has kept me busy. Last night was the first night in a while that I had free -- free to complete some other volunteer obligations that I had signed up for. 


One of the main volunteer projects on my list was to record several audio books to promote literacy for kids in the Washington State school district (through Sparked, the very cool, micro-volunteering web site). So anyway, last night I finally sit down to do this. I have the MP3 software loaded. I have my new, Logitech microphone plugged into my laptop, and the books I promised to record sitting in my lap ready to go. I open the first book, an unfamiliar one to me, and read the first line:


"A told B and B told C, 
'I'll meet you at the top of the coconut tree'.
Whee said D to E   F  G. 
'I'll beat you to the top of the coconut tree'."
-From Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

At this point, I'm just laughing. Are you kidding me? Is this really my very first "to do" after the A to Z Challenge? Don't ever let it be said that God doesn't have a sense of humor.

Then again today, another funny coincidence. Weeks ago I volunteered to help with the volunteer newsletter for a local museum in Minneapolis. They check my references, make sure my picture is not hanging on the Post Office wall, and then I go to meet the volunteer manager today at the Minnesota Children's Museum in Saint Paul. It suddenly occurs to me that the entire building is dedicated to play in every possible form. From the Grossology exhibit to the Rooftop ArtPark -- it is all designed to engage the minds of kids in creating, developing and learning. What we might call playing. And all I can think is, "Drat. I'm going to have to do the Blogher challenge for May (on Play) now, aren't I?" It's like a sign. I'm not ready to say that it's a sign from God, but it's certainly a sigh from Blogher. Sigh. 

It's going to be another busy month.