Thursday, February 21, 2013

From "Bleh" to "Whoopee!"

So, we've been feeling kind of "bleh" for a while now. We had a GREAT 2011 and it continued into 2012 and then just got sort of "bleh." Not bad, mind you. Just bleh.

Bleh.

See, I think the Johnsons ruined us. Remember them? They moved here in 2011 for a temporary traveling nurse assignment - they were here for 3 months and we clicked like nobody's business. We clicked so much that they took their next temporary assignment in an area near here so that we were able to continue to hang out. It was far enough away that we couldn't see each other quite as often, but close enough that they could spend weekends with us. Which we did. With great frequency and much food, talking, and laughter (and very little sleep).

Then they moved to other assignments back in their home state of Arkansas (too far), New Hampshire (closer and we were able to get together a couple of times, including a really fun New Year's Eve celebration), CT (even closer - we were able to meet in the middle, get together here, get together there, and visit NYC together), MA (a little farther, but again, able to see them here and there - no posts up yet because we're all so ridiculously behind on them). And in between all this, we'd Skype, text, and call each other.

Then they settled in Springfield, MA. We knew it was coming. He's on a heart transplant list and we always knew the eventual goal was for them to live closer to Boston. In fact, he had to be within a 4-hour radius of Boston and his doctors there. And since we're 2 hours outside of that radius, I just kept hoping for an earthquake (one that wouldn't hurt anyone or anything) that would somehow just shift Boston about 2 hours closer to us so that they could be in their radius but be near us, too.

They say we ruined them, too. This was their first assignment and we clicked so well and have so much great stuff here and live in such a cute town and all get along and have the greatest homeschool group . . . you get the idea. So, they always said that post transplant, they'd want to settle here long term. But for now, it had to be MA, that long-term plan years away.

I've blogged about them a lot, but not nearly enough - we've done far more together than I've told everyone. We've visited places together, we've visited each other frequently, we eat everywhere we go and enjoy THE BEST food, whether we eat out or cook together. We talk non-stop FOR HOURS on end. We like many of the same TV shows, movies, books, hobbies, foods. We pontificate about anything and everything. And we laugh like crazy. 

Something I have failed to blog about is that fun New Year's Eve visit. It. Was. Awesome. We decided to make it a tradition. This past year didn't work out, because they had just gotten a new puppy and they were sick on top of that, and my mom was here with a hurt back, but in general, yeah, tradition!

When they came that New Year's, on their way to NH from Arkansas, I think the entire neighborhood knew they were back since they were yelling in excitement from a mile away from us and we were yelling in anticipation (yes, we texted this entire thing as it happened), and we couldn't even let them in the house without hips and hollers from everyone and jumping around and screaming and hugging on the porch.

That night, we exchanged Christmas presents together. And here is their most awesome gift to us:



Awesome, right? They made that for us. I love gifts like this! It's a framed collage of pictures of all of us. Can you make out what it says? "Friends: The Family We Choose." Yep, we'd known them less than a year and this is how we mutually felt about each other. Close like family.

It's nuts that we've only known each other for two years (this Saturday is two years exactly!), because it feels like so much more. We celebrated our 1-year anniversary by giving them a photo book full of pictures of all of us. (Shut up. We're awesome.) We absolutely love them and they love us. We often say that everything would be better if they just lived here. :P

Wow. Holy tangent, Batman! (See? They ruined us).

So anyway, back to the "bleh" thing. We have been feeling restless. Maybe it's because we've been here for 10 years - the longest we've ever lived anywhere. We wondered if it was time for a new place and experience.

I have, at times, felt sick of just about everything around me, even though there's so much we love about this area. I could list all kinds of things like how I miss New England personalities, more liberal politics, and more progressive thinking (though I do see that changing in an overall positive direction). We don't have any extended family support here. At times we feel lonely. Just bleh, bleh, bleh.

It isn't like me to feel negative, so I figured it's my yearly seasonal-affective-disorder episode talking and that, come spring, I'd be fine again.

See, here's the thing. There's so much to love here.

1. It's affordable.
2. Nice pace of life (and it's gorgeous).
3. Location: small town near some really nice big cities.
4. Our own business/Great moonlighting gig
5. Nice, 4-season weather

We have a great homeschool group, parks, libraries, swimming, activities. We have good friends here, a book club, and an absolutely wonderful independent theater and adjoining coffee shop in town. I don't think you could find a better place in many ways.

But yeah, we've been feeling bleh. Maybe it's a mid-life crisis. We need to mix it up somehow - in a good, fun way.

So, we've been brainstorming what to do - move away? Move within the area? Start a new business? We like what we're doing, so we wouldn't want to get rid of it, but maybe just change it up somehow. Our business is in its 6th year - maybe it's time to expand? We love our 1850s farmhouse, but maybe it's time to update?

I don't know. We're considering different options. But things just went from "bleh" to "WHOOPEE!!"

Wanna know why? Okay, then keep reading. It's me telling this story, so there are many, many details to share. I'm fun like that.


Remember this past week when we went to our favorite old-fashioned ice cream shoppe? Remember how we told you it's closing? Remember how we cried with the owner, the sweetest ice cream lady ever who is so awesome to our kids? Remember how we took her flowers and a card because we found out that her husband had died and that's why she was closing shop? Okay, I don't remember if I said that on the blog, but that is why she's having to close her business and it's so sad.

Well, she and I got to talking and she explained that her husband had had a heart transplant over 20 years ago. I hadn't known that. I shared with her about the Johnsons (who have eaten ice cream at her shop with us) and how Dave has HCM and is listed and waiting for a transplant. She nodded at all I was saying and then smiled a bit and said that that all sounded familiar, as her husband had had HCM as well. I did not know that. She then said what a wonderful job the local hospital did with it all and joked that we should tell the Johnsons to move here for their medical care. I chuckled with her and joked that we and the Johnsons could keep the ice shop running together. She liked that idea.

I texted Dave, knowing that they of course are committed to their doctor in Boston and already listed on the wait list there and settled in a house in Springfield, and told him of our experience at the ice cream shop. Small world, you know? They've been in a slump, too, so we text now and then and commiserate.

Fast forward to two days later. That night, our family had a fiasco of a dinner preparation in our kitchen that turned out so horribly that we bagged the experiment, left the mess, and went out to eat. We sat in the restaurant, all down and bummed and trying to cheer ourselves up. We felt lonely and isolated. I've been in such a slump for weeks. Mark and I have been mulling over our restlessness and ideas. Lots of thinking. Lots of sighing. Being out helped and the food was wonderful. 

While we were eating (and rediscovering a great place we hadn't eaten in a while, so of course we were saying, "Oh my gosh, we have got to come here with the Johnsons when they visit!"), Dave sent us a text that said, "We REALLY REALLY need to talk to you guys, like asap. Something good hopefully. Can you Skype?"

I looked at Mark and half-laughed, "Heh, wouldn't it be awesome if they had to talk to us to tell us they're moving here?" We knew that was kind of out of the question, but it's fun to dream.

Mark texted and said, "Stacy's been depressed for like 6 weeks, so unless you guys are moving back here, I'm not sure what would be 'good.'"

To which Dave replied, "Then we need to Skype."

We raced home and got on Skype immediately. The kids took their computers upstairs and got on Skype with the Johnson kids and we got on with Dave and Christie. They were flipping out. It turns out Dave went to the doctor that day to deal with some of the progressive symptoms he's been having and, while there, they learned some new information.

It's long and complicated, but the gist is that people who have the disease he has are waiting much longer for transplants up in the Boston area and with him progressing the way he is, they need him to be somewhere that wouldn't make him wait as long, bonus if it's a less expensive place with more of a support system to boot. Topping the list? YOU GUESSED IT.

"Whoopee!!"

They mentioned this area to their specialist, given the recent story we heard from the lady at the ice cream shop and relayed to them. They did their research and this area is TOPS for a good fit for them. Like there's nothing better in the whole country. The specialist loved the idea of them moving here. AS DO WE.

We are over-the-moon ecstatic. WHAT ARE THE ODDS?!? Crazy slim, that's what.

To recap: They moved here. We totally clicked and had a great time. They moved away and we all cried. We got together as much as possible. They love it here and we all wanted them to be here, but life said they had to be in Boston for many years until they could get back here again. And, in less than a week, everything changed - new information, changes, plans, updates, and big news. They're moving back for good within the next few months.

We are all shocked, reeling, and beside ourselves with excitement and happiness. They'll be here next month to house and job hunt. The kids are through the roof about this. We all are! BRING IT. We all needed this. I can't begin to tell you how thrilled we are.

So, a toast to "this very surprising turn of events!"




And a tribute (because we all - I'm not kidding - danced in the kitchen to this song tonight after hearing the news officially):

video

Yep, it's all "working out!" :) Because we have gone from "Bleh" to "Whoopee!"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Watching Her Grow Up

This past Tuesday, she walks into the library to drop off an application to work a volunteer shift. I stayed in the van watching her grow up before my eyes. She carries herself with sweetness and confidence and maturity. 

Saturday, as she's leaving for archery class, we hug and discover that it's official - she's taller than I am. I look up at her and we both smile, hers is a subtle-but-proud "YES!" kind of smile. Mine is more of a bittersweet acknowledgement, but mostly happy for her, because I know she loves it. We have a deal, the kids and I, that as they grow taller than me, they'll always look out for their little mom.

She is hungry for more learning, more experience, more insight. Mature beyond her years, yet such a kid at heart, she asks us things that keep us on our toes and awe us with her thinking. She is driven - always writing, always thinking. She cooks. She creates. She runs around and climbs trees. She reads voraciously. She writes for one of the top writing websites on the Internet. She teaches herself guitar.

This morning, I hear THIS SONG on my iPod and get weepy listening to it as I eat breakfast with my kids. I loved that song growing up - Peter Cetera is one of my all-time favorites. Listening to that song as a parent? Good luck not crying. It's upbeat and all, but (*sniff sniff*) it'll get you. 

So, I take my beautiful daughter to her first volunteer shift. She got herself up and ready on her own, so excited for this very grown up responsibility and opportunity. She has her hair combed beautifully and she is wearing her "Self-Rescuing Princess" T-shirt, mismatched socks (she started doing that long before it was a trendy thing to do), and pink Chucks.

It started snowing hard as we took this picture

Mark stops in after his morning shift at the hospital to see how she's doing. She is shelving DVDs when she looks up and sees him, smiles, and says, "Hi! This is fun!"

She is growing up before my eyes - tall, mature, hilarious, confident, beautiful, sarcastic, smart. She plays violin with grace, kicks butt with her black belt in tae kwon do, giggles hysterically when horsing around with her brother, reasons with insight, cracks jokes with quick timing, writes with talent beyond her years.

And she just melts me. She is loving and compassionate, witty and smart, insightful, passionate, and strong. She thinks things through, develops her own feelings and beliefs on weighty matters, and takes action - raising awareness, donating money, writing to legislators.

Celebrating her first day of volunteering with lunch out
She is growing up before my eyes. She is wonderful and good and amazing. She makes the world a better place.

She is good to her family, her dog, her friends, strangers, children, animals. She is my daughter and my friend. And I constantly feel so over-the-moon lucky that I get to be her mom and watch her grow up right before my eyes.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Why, thank you!

Thank you, Thing 1! I've won another award from my daughter. I love that we share a love of blogging (and awards with writing prompts).


award - seriously![1][1]

Rules

1. Nominate ten people.
2. Answer the questions.

3. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
4. Notify the bloggers you nominated.


Questions
 
1. The job you want to have?
I absolutely love being a mom. Like truly. I enjoy my kids and love that we homeschool together. I do some counseling on the side and that is also something I enjoy. I love that it's something that helps people and that it's something I'm pretty good at. I also love to write and think it would be really cool to be part of a writer's team for a TV sitcom (I love group energy and I don't one bit mind public speaking). 
2. Favorite singer/band?
Oooh, tricky. See, when you grow up, you have "all-time" favorites as well as current favorites. My all-time favorite singer/band is Peter Cetera/Chicago. My current favorites are many and varied, but include Michael Bublé and Adam Levine/Maroon 5.
3. Favorite choc or sweet?
I assume they mean "chocolate?" Ugh, this is hard. I prefer salty to sweet. But I do love cookies and donuts, so let's go with those.
4. Three words to describe you?
Feisty, Compassionate, and Particular
Nominees 

3. Dave at News of My Demise.
4. Jimmy in the comments.
5. Emily (no rush- I know she has a lot going on right now)
6. Um . . .
7. Er . . .
8. Uh . . .
I really wish more people blogged.


Thanks, Honey, for this wonderful honor! :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

More thoughts, because why not

There are more and more incidents in the news
 about local convenience stores being held up at gun point.
It's sad. I think it's a sign of desperation.
This economy is really messing with people.

---------------

I struggle every winter.
I've been feeling down and
my friend Linda knew it,
so she brought us a home-cooked meal,
complete with Valentines and treats for the kids.
That really touched me.
We really don't get home cooked meals
 (besides our own) much at all.
So that was a real pick-me-up.

----------------

Our kids both got haircuts and,
wow, are they looking grown up!

---------------

 Our favorite old-fashioned ice cream shop
is closing this month.
We're so sad about it.
We went today to visit the owner
and she cried when she saw us.
It made us cry, too.

---------------

Thing 1 knows what she wants for her birthday dinner:
Bacalhau A Gomes De Sa
 (Portuguese Codfish with potatoes and onions)
Yum!

---------------

I think the BSA is passing the buck.
Stand for something, you know?
Such bullcrap.
Saw a comment online that hit the nail on the head:
" . . . does their sexual orientation make them any less capable
 of building a fire or a pinewood derby car
 or offering community service?"
Seriously.
 It's 2013. History will show what a shame it all is.
I want to be on the right side of history.

--------------

I loved having penpals as a kid.
Our kids have several penpals -
some by mail and some by email,
both in the US and in other countries
(Japan and the Ukraine).

---------------

Did you know Ed Sheeran has a song
called "Small Bump" that is about a pregnancy
 that ends in miscarriage?
Heard it yesterday and cried,
for the first time in a long time,
about my first pregnancy that ended
in a heartbreaking miscarriage.

---------------

Whenever I start a book,
I get to know the book by reading the back,
the flaps (if it's a hardcover),
the praise, the acknowledgements,
the dedication, about the author, etc.
I hardly ever just dive right in.
What about you?

---------------

We haven't ever paid for cable
(more than the EXTREMELY basic one
 that gets you networks).
We figured out that over the years,
by not getting cable,
we've saved about 10K.

---------------

It occurs to me that when people come visit us,
they are not getting a feel of how things are here
 day to day,
since we pretty much drop most "routined" things
 and focus on enjoying our guests.

-----------------

I often cry when people cry.

-----------------

The kids got Valentines and treats in the mail
from Grandma.
So fun.
 I miss having grandparents.
I haven't had grandparents in about 20 years.

---------------

What are you doing (if anything) for Valentine's Day?

---------------
 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

More Thoughts (I think a lot)


Saw this headline today and thought,
"Wow, just when I thought people couldn't get any stupider."
-- New technique could track brain damage in NFL --
Really? Now we can TRACK it? Swell.
Rather than see a problem and do what it takes to end it,
 we'll track it.
Natural Selection is tough at work in the great USA.

----------------------

We watched a Taylor Swift interview
in which she said about her mother,
"It's unreal to me how she was just so behind my brother and I,
 no matter what.
Like I don't remember ever having the thought,
'My mom's so selfish.'
Like I never thought that.
Or 'My mom's vain'
or 'My mom, you know, like, cares about all this stuff.'
I've never thought my mom was self-involved,
not even one time.
Because she's always been, like, so behind us.
So I think if I could ever be that kind of a parent
 someday way way way way wayyyyyy in the future . . . "
Wow! What a testament that is!
I hope I'm that kind of parent to my children.

---------------------

This is the problem -
We're expressing ourselves with Memes
 and making them suit our points.
 Clever and brief.
I like a lot of them,
but sometimes it seems like
there's no rational dialogue among people anymore.

---------------------

As I write this (Saturday afternoon),
there are 6 men at my dining room table
playing D&D.
I love that I married a geek.

---------------------

There's this new social media trend
where people start sentences with the words,
"That feeling when" or "That moment when . . . "
except that
THOSE AREN'T SENTENCES!!

--------------------

The 30 Rock series finale was awesome.
So awesome I could cry.
I absolutely love that they didn't sexualize
Liz and Jack's friendship.
It was beautiful.
Also? Liz Lemon is such a cool character name.

---------------------

Thing 2 has been working hard
 on creating a game with Mark.
He finished it, the directions are all typed up,
and we get to test it out!
He is REALLY excited
and I am REALLY proud of him.

--------------------

Thing 1 did a beautiful job on her violin recital Sunday.
We're grateful to good friends who came out to support her
and cheer for her!

---------------------

If you have to call yourself a hippie,
 you're probably not one.

--------------------

At breakfast one morning this week,
Thing 2 leaves the room and says, about a door, "I'll leave it ajar."
"Ajar?" I say.
Thing 1 looks at me and says,
"He's been listening to too much Lord of the Rings."

-------------------


January 20, 2013

Kids are at a birthday party at one of those places
 that has gymnastics, rock climbing walls, etc. 
Mark took them and gave me some much-appreciated quiet time. 

He just texted me and said:
Kids are having fun. Kate made it to the top of the rock wall.
 Max stayed firmly planted on the ground.

Me: Did he try?

Mark: No. He’s not much for heights. 
I suggested he try and he said, “Daddy, you know me, right?” 

 -------------------

 I just read a book about a woman's struggle
with bipolar disorder.
Her meds cost her about 3K/month
and that didn't count expensive,
 not-covered psychiatrist visits.
She said her mother helped her.
How do people do it?!?

-------------------

Something I love and appreciate about my gay guy friends
is that we both agree on good-looking men!

------------------

Know what really stinks?
People get ideas in their heads and stick to them;
they project an idea and then believe it
(whether or not it's true).
Our perceptions are our realities.
And if two people disagree and stick to their own perceptions
about the same thing,
who budges?
They both think they're right.
Ugh.

------------------

I've been thinking a lot about R.O.I.
(return on investment),
not just with money, but with time and energy.
Is what you get worth all that you put in?
Food for thought.

------------------

The advice is given:
"Live each day like its your last"
and
"Save for the future" -
Anyone have the secret on how to do BOTH
at the same time?

-----------------

I hate appointments.
Dentist, hair, whatever.
Even a fun thing can seem like something tying me down.

-----------------

We have the BEST little independent theater in our town.
It is one of our favorite places here.
It's attached to a great coffee/sandwich shop with a fantastic vibe.
We saw Les Mis there (incredible!)
and this week they're getting "Silver Linings Playbook!"
So excited.

----------------

I'm restless again.
I get like this now and then.
I feel something creative coming on
(I hope!).

----------------

Saw a great quote this week by Louis CK:
'I’m bored' is a useless thing to say.
 I mean, you live in a great, big, vast world
 that you’ve seen none percent of.
 Even the inside of your own mind is endless,
 it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand?
 The fact that you’re alive is amazing,
 so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.”

---------------

Piggy-backing that,
I don't think I've ever heard the phrase
"I'm bored"
come out of my kids' mouths.
Maybe once if ever.
And I love that.
Isn't the goal to keep them hungry and curious
and not to squelch that with busywork?

--------------

If you could live anywhere,
where would it be?

--------------

January/February are not easy months for me.
I think I have SAD.

-------------

We've had a lot of good discussions around here.
Everything from sex to Santa.
Parenting is fun.

--------------

I hate it when nothing sounds good,
because I love food so much.

--------------

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Reader Appreciation Award

reader-appreciation-award[1]


Thanks, Magic Violinist, for a chance to answer more questions! I love these! I don't sit down to blogging nearly as much as I'd like to, but somehow these quizzes at least get me taking a break to blog, so thank you.



Rules
  1. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  2. Attach the icon to your site.
  3. Answer the attached questions.
  4. Nominate six bloggers who you feel deserve this award and notify them about their nominations. 

Questions

1. What is your favorite color?
Blue, because it's calming and beautiful. Maybe that's because it's the color of the ocean?

2. What is your favorite animal?
Ditto Mark. Monkeys are cool, but yeah, we pretty much have the best dog ever. I love her so much.

3. What is your favorite non-alcoholic drink?
What Mark said (water). Except the sweating part. But yes, I love love love water.

4. What is your favorite number?
Not sure I have a favorite number. I will say that I don't like things perfectly even or perfectly odd, though.

5. What is your favorite day of the week? 
I, again, agree with Mark. I'm really loving low-key weekends to hang out at home as a family. Simple, wonderful pleasures.

6. What is your favorite flower?
Daisy.

7. What is your passion?
Family, social justice, friends, writing, and food.

8. Do you watch television?
Yes. I love to laugh, so sitcoms are my very favorites - "The Big Bang Theory" and "Modern Family" and "Go On" are all family favorites (we also really enjoy "The Amazing Race"). And I always love watching "I Love Lucy."

9. Who is your favorite author?
This one is hard. I have favorite books by many different authors, so a favorite author is trickier to identify. I'm not sure there is someone whose book I must read when it comes out. I do think, after having read her first two graphic novels, that I would read anything by Alison Bechdel.

10. Do you like 80s movies?
Um, is the Pope Catholic? I don't just like them. I LOVE them. I am a huge fan of the 80s and think the movies from that time are wicked awesome. Some of my favorites include anything with John Cusack (Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer, Say Anything), Back to the Future, Karate Kid, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Princess Bride, A Christmas Story, all the John Hughes/Molly Ringwald films . . .

11. How do you like your eggs?
Scrambled, dippy, and in Dutch Babies. I love, love, love eggs. It is one of two foods that I think taste better when someone else makes them for you (that and hot cocoa). Mark makes delicious eggs and that's saying something, because he does not like them, but is such a good sport to make them for me.

12. When did you discover blogging?
2006.

13. Why do you like to blog? 
It's fun and makes me write and share with family and friends. I like the interactive nature of it, so comments are always really fun to get.


Nominees 
1. Thing 2 at I Don't Eat My Drumsticks.
2. Jimmy.
3. Um . . .
4. I, uh, . . .
5. Not sure.
6. Sadly, many of my blogging friends don't blog like they used to. I wish more of my friends blogged.