Sunday, March 25, 2007


J wrote to ask me if everything was ok since I've not blogged for a week.
(Thanks, J!)
Yes, everything is fine. DH was up frolicking in South Dakota again last week at the same time that both kids started baseball season with the requisite need for a chauffeur pulling from only one parent. I doubt that needs any more elaboration, right? (time sink+time sink+time sink = not much time to blog much less finish the baby blanket for baby S who was born nearly a year ago. You know?)

I'm good. Mostly. More than mostly.

But with respect to the "less than mostly" portion of my life that is not so good, I had a bitch session with good friend J.B. on Saturday night, where I lit into my UUs over a glass of wine in her loverly home, and I feel the need to continue in that vein here. I don't know exactly what it is (I know generally), but I am in need of much distance from my previously beloved UU congregation at this point in my life. I think the word is "burnout." I want to make it clear - the teens I'm working with are fabulous. They are inconsistent, unreliable, and unsure, and everything I expect teens to be, but in a good way. That's not what's alienating me. We meet on Sunday mornings and even when I feel like the curriculum guidance is ridiculous, I'm able to pull off some interesting discussion with them, mainly because they are interesting thinkers. They will never tell me something because they think it's what I want to hear. They are brutally honest. That I will not be there next year to watch so many of them in their senior years, making decisions that will start them off of the next phase of life, this is killing me.

It's the rest of the UU organization that's irritating me. The guidance from above that should be there but is not, the tendency to place the teens and other youth in the afterthought position, the negativity from many of those in "higher" (and often paid) positions, the generally selfish attitude of so many in the congregation (i.e., "what do *I* get out of this" rather than "what can I give?")?? Bleah. Besides, my children are increasingly negative about what is offered to them there. My daughter refuses to attend if she has to go to "spirit play", which is the current version of Sunday school for her age group which she views as ridiculously childish, and I have to agree. My son only goes to see his friends. I'm thinking the return on my investment there has become WAY beyond unreasonable. Enough of feeling the judgement. Enough of the expectations placed on myself. Next year, I'm going to use my Sundays to drive up to the mountains with my children and husband with fabulous picnic lunches, and we'll explore our spirituality in a positive, happy way as a family. We're going to feel free and unemcumbered and open to the world. Unscheduled.

Disillusioned. That's what I am.

I is possible to have a spiritual community that is not based on fear (fear of hell, for example), where the responsibility really is equitably distributed? What is the imeptus to encourage giving, when that "fear," that alliance to a given set of moral rules, is not there? In a community like UU, where we thrive on "we're all ok as we are", at what point do the givers tell the takers to put up or shut up?

You think I'm a bit irritable? You think?

My cherished daughter convinced me to buy her a new hamster today during a spur of the moment visit to the petstore. We got her, the hamster (Ruby), a wonderful new cage with the best lining and food and colorful tubes and shelves to play on. Daughter E was walking on air and charmed every person in the pet store with her estactic smile. I felt like I was the best mommy on earth. She was beaming more than I'd ever seen. She was in heaven.
Then we got home and while we were putting the cage together, Ruby bit her.
Lots of blood.
That hamster doesn't know how lucky it is that I didn't fling it across the universe. Daugher E pleaded with me that she (the hamster) was scared and didn't know any better. With tears in her eyes, she asked me to give her time to learn how to behave. I washed the rather large bit e wound and applied antibiotic ointment and dried the tears from E's eyes and imagined all the horrible deaths I could for that stinky little rodent. But E has faith. She thinks if we give the little beast time to relax, time to get used to things, she will be OK and will learn to love E. She has enduring faith that if she stays positive, that positive things will ensue.

I think, maybe, in times like these when I am ready to throw in the towel, that I might need to step back and take a break but not give it up with finality. Maybe I need to remember that faith is something that all of us use to pull us through. All of us. Faith needn't be limited to a "god" or supernatural being. Faith is necessary for anything that doesn't have a proof. I have faith in my marriage, in science, in nature.

There's no reason not to have faith in a community of reasonable, well-meaning UUs. I think there really are good intentions there, I just think that my version of good intentions and the rest of the communities' versions are not quite aligned at this point.

Distance is good, is necessary.

But overall, it's all good. It really is. And I have a whole 3 weeks with DH before he goes back to South Dakota for another week. (!) (Military moms/wives, single moms reading this, disregard my complaints.) But #()&@!.


For wonderful seester L, here is a youtube for you. :-)
(It is so easy to put these in, I'm embarrassed to tell you the "secret". Look for the "embed" part when you find a youtube you video you like. Copy it and paste it in.)

Monday, March 19, 2007

lots o' cheese

I've been perusing YouTube tonight and laughing my ass off at the cheesy 80s videos. Mare - you were one funny chick in college (and still are).
Do you remember this video? I remember how we used to make fun of John Oates for being always in the background and peeking around Daryl Hall, over his shoulder, trying to grab the camera with his eyes, like a muppet... LOL.

And then I can't watch that video without thinking of the Blues Brothers and Dan Ackroyd. That dance...OMG!!!

There is something so absolutely hilareous about both of these guys - John Oates and Dan Ackroyd. They're the second guy. But the whole flavor of the video is there, and is so funny, because of them. Their background antics, especially with the presenation in all seriousness, balanced against the front guy? It's what makes me spew out my Dr. Pepper all over the computer screen when I watch.

And that's my favorite place to be. I want to be moved slightly out of the lead position but be close enough to grab attention. What a totally wimpy cop-out. I want the glory but none of the responsibility. In the event of a success, it can be because I was a great behind-the-scenes help. If it's a failure, I can claim it's because of poor leadership, which is out of my realm of responsibility of course. It's the safest and most fun place to be.

So these days, as I'm running around setting up committees for the PTA next year and listening to suggestions and complaints from various folks about how we do things, I'm recognizing that I've moved out from behind the front guy. I'm no longer in the position of funny, safe background guy. Dammit, but if we fail, I'm at the wheel. Same for work, too. I'm not peeking out from behind Wonderboy any longer. I've been forced out of my comfort zone and into the realm of responsibility in several different areas of my life. All at once.

Frankly, it's a shame, and it's certainly not as fun. Everyone loves the background guy. How can you not like Dan Ackroyd or John Oates? The little guy, bouncing around and having fun behind the workhorse, making you laugh your ass off - they are harmless and plain fun. It's a hell of a lot harder to be loved or admired when you're in the driver's seat.

So how did I end up here? Good question. I'll have to get back to you on that one. I'm not sure it matters ultimately. What I really want to know is whether I'll be able to return to the Dan Ackroyd place again. Maybe we all have to pay our dues and be the fallguy for a while? I don't want to think that once I've moved out of the background that I can't return. I'm not kidding - it is much more comfortable and a lot more fun there.

In the meantime, here is one of my favorite 80's videos to share. I can so perfectly picture Mare mocking this one (we did lots of mocking in college). When the guy does the weird hand motions with the jerky head movements, I nearly split my pants laughing at the memory of Mare making fun of him. The 80's. What in the hell were were thinking???!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

I feel so loved

So tonight, being totally exhausted from three straight days of nothing but refinishing floors, I'm sitting on the couch with my *&#$ glass of wine and 'Nilla Wafers. I was hungry (mostly forgot to eat today) so I had a BIG handful of the cookies. I dropped one in my lap. My dog, Roxy, lunged forward and snatched it. (I think she was sitting at my feet waiting for that to happen). I shouted out. (It was my cookie, after all.)

Suddenly, a blur of fur crossed my vision. It was all so fast, I didn't see what happened. The next thing I knew, my cat Sammy had attacked Roxy and had her cornered. There was raised fur, there were throat growls, there was PLENTY of cowering by the canine half. After a several minute stand-off, Roxy slunk off (peering over her shoulder to make sure the feline half wasn't continuing to stalk her), while Sammy jumped up in my lap and comminced purring.

What the hell?

My cat just protected me. Who knew? That animal loves me! I don't know that I've heard of an attack cat before but I cannot imagine any other reason for the attack than he was defending me. Sniff.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

tag you're it

I was tagged by my friend J. She's just the most awesome person - I "met" her through an internet email list of moms who were all due to have babies in March of 1996. I missed March by a day, and so did she. Our first-borns arrived on the same exact day. She has always been so incredibly nice to me - I remember very fondly a conference I had in Newport, RI many years ago, where she came to meet me and took me to a winery and then to a beach complete with multiple kites sailing in the wind over the absolutely perfect day. It was one of the first times I'd left my baby Q, and I was discombobulated in a big way, but just her presence was very calming for me.

Anyway, she tagged me with the following question: "What are 5 reasons that you blog?"

Hmmm. Good question.

I blog because I love to write. I love to edit. I love to create. I always have, but have not always given myself "permission" to do it for fun. This blog gives me the opportunity to write creatively, as opposed to technically, which I do all the time at work. I blog to write for myself.

I blog to keep in touch with my family. The world is so large and so small, thankfully. My family lives far away, but through my blog I feel like I'm closer to them. Even when they don't respond, I know they are reading and I feel happy and heard knowing that. I can share pictures of my kids (their grandchildren, nieces and nephews), and know I've not gone overboard in the "proud mama" thing...because they are my family and this is my way of sharing my life with them. I have to have that connection.

I blog to keep in touch with my friends who are my world. I am lucky enough to have friends scattered around the entire globe. Most I have met in person - but some I have not. Some I have known practically my entire life - some I have not. Through this blog, I have a way to stay in touch with this village that rocks my world. It's diverse, it's interesting, it's amazing (I'm speaking of my personal village, not my

I blog to keep myself wondering. I never want to feel like I've got it all figured out. When my sense of curiousity is gone, I will be gone too. I blog to stay curious.

I blog to be heard. There are some things that I feel like I have an important voice on - global warming, liberal spirituality. I don't think I will ever impact the world, but I do have aspirations of touching someone who stumbles upon my blog through a search or a link and finds something helpful.

I am now supposed to tag three others. OK.
Mama Moose.

Check out their blogs. They're all very awesome, and I have other blogs just as awesome on my links list.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

what I do for relaxation

I'm having a difficult time blogging recently. I've told a few more friends that I interact with on a daily basis about my blog and it has suddenly made me shy. (flutter eyelashes, shift, shift). As a result, I've been trying to thing of more interesting topics on which to blog, and preferably ones that will impress everyone and make them think I'm awesome. This, rather than resorting to using my questionably "exciting" day-to-day life as fodder as I have been for the last few weeks. But, well... I just can't think of anything. CNN is no longer my friend and source for news, so I'm losing touch with what is going on in the world (is that so bad after all?). I logged onto the CNN webpage at one downpoint during work and was so offended by the National Enquirer type bent to the news that I blasted off an email to them (which will have the effect of pelting an elephant with a grain of sand) and vowed not to read them anymore.

So I've given up on finding an enticing topic to write about. I'll save that one for another day. I'm too tired to think right now. I have found the limit of my ability to function and am teetering at the edge of it. Plus my entire body aches.

So anyway, given my breakdown last week from having too much to do, and given this weekend's busy schedule, guess what I decided my next course of action should be? (Keep in mind that I really don't think I'm that much of an idiot. I just act like one sometimes.)

Yup. I'm refinishing our floors. Much too late, actually. The much too late part shows up in this next picture in the form of the dark spots down the middle of the hallway where it's been worn down. But you know, it really doesn't bother me that much so we're just leaving it there and refinishing with new coats of polyurathane to keep it from getting worse. (It doesn't bother me because it would be to the tune of multiple thousands of dollars if it did bother me. See why it's hardly noticable after all?)

So cleaning the floors made me see how horribly crappy the baseboards were, which made the see how horrible the walls were. In a fit, I cleaned the walls with too much gusto, rubbing off the paint (which shows up in that picture too), which means as soon as I finish the floors it's time to paint the hallway. After I put the moulding and rosettes up around the playroom door. It's a good thing worked the equivialent of several days extra last week and banked them away. I think I'll use them this week to remodel the house. I'm a fun date, aren't I?

Monday, March 05, 2007

no sympathy here

Here's a situation for you to imagine yourself in. (This is all totally fictional. Of course!)

You have a day at work where you suddenly realize that all the "talk" about how you are expected to be the leader of your research effort since the original (and very smart and successful) leader has moved on is NOT just talk. You realize in several different ways (which each involve some serious thought and preparation) that the buck stops with you and that whining really only gets in the way of getting the job done. You are exhausted from several weeks of single-parenting because DH has been up in the great white north dancing around in blizzards. (And yes I know that I am really totally wimpy because so many awesome moms that I know are single parents and do this ALL THE TIME. It's just that I am not used to it so being tossed into the fire is burning me.) Um. I mean, in this completely imagined situation, IF this were perchance me...I would be burned.

Your mind is incapable of keeping track of all the things you are in charge of anymore. You have a big science team meeting all week long and you are more than slightly nervous about the fact that you are the go-to person now for your modeling group. A long week of talks and presentations and discussions and working groups is looming (as in tomorrow) fat in the realization that you can't hide in the shadows of WONDERBOY anymore.

Your DH calls to tell you that he will possibly go back up to the great white north blizzard area next week.

You dissolve into front of your beloved neighbors because your dog escaped the house and you can't catch her. You are found sobbing behind the frying pan as you desperately try to make Salisbury Steak and green beans for dinner because you are supposed to be PERFECT and be able to have it all with no effort at all.

So there's the situation. Here's this fictional mom trying to do too much, to have it all, to be everything. You know what the next step is?

She's nominated for PTA President next year!!!!! Woo-hoo!!! What a great idea!!

Everyone, just pack up all your problems and mail them to me. Apparently, I have such an insanely inflated view of myself that I think I can do it all. Even *I* have no room for feeling sorry for myself. If I'm going to put myself out there in these ridiculous situations, I have to develop the means to handle it. I've got to shut up and just do it.


For what it's worth, DH was astute enough to figure out that next week was probably a tad too early to head back to South Dakota, so he was able to delay it by a week. He's a smart man, what can I say.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

hear me roar

...because I am Mommy.

I had to throw this together for the Dr. Suess' Birthday book parade tomorrow. E chose the book "Eldest" by Christopher Paolini. She wanted to be the dragon Thorn. Gah.

So thanks to $3.00 sweats from the evil retail store, some thin wrapping paper from who knows where, posterboard, lots of tape, glue, safety pins and a ribbon (to hold the tail on), voila. Thorn stands in the playroom.

I'm quite proud of this, given the state of near-panic I've been in this week, trying to hold everything together.

So guess what DH is doing about now?

It looks like he won't be home when he thought he would.

From the Argus Leader:
Businesses, schools and government offices are shutting down early today as the worst blizzard since November 2005 moves into the Sioux Empire.

A blizzard warning remains in effect until 6 p.m. Friday in eastern South Dakota, including the cities of Sioux Falls, Brookings, Vermillion, Mitchell and Huron.

Gah. Poor guy. Stuck in a hotel room...with room service...on good TV a place where it's someone else's job to clean and cook and wash a nice peaceful quiet room with no kids, dog or cat fighting for his attention. Yeah. Poor guy.