Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gotta get it off my chest somewhere!

Alternately titled: Mothering eleven-year-old girls is not for the weak!

Is it possible to be a truly awesome parent to one of your children and simultaneously be a completely crappy parent to your other child?

Is it?

Because it might not all be rainbows and unicorns raising my son, but in general it is rewarding.

But my daughter...


That kid is going to be the death of me.

I've really been struggling with her this school year, and I realize that it is because my husband is deployed, and she's at a hard age, and she goes to a school where an 83 average is a C and a 75 average is failing, and she's a girl so she doesn't want to turn into me, and she's lazy by nature, and she got all of my crappy personality traits and my bad skin...

*deep breath*

...but none of those things make me feel better when she lies and is irresponsible.

I know I have failed this child by somehow managing not to teach her to work hard. I am very much afraid of what she will become. I am scared that she will miss out on so much in life. But my fear is too distressing to deal with every day so it turns into anger.

I feel like I am angry with this girl all the damn time.

Lately I am having an especially hard time because things are going really well for my son. I am having a hard time finding ways to celebrate his accomplishments while she is failing at every turn.

I'm afraid that my daughter and everyone else in the world assumes that I love my son more because I understand him better and get along with him better, but that is just not true. It is because I love my daughter so damn much that I am so anxious about the lack of coping skills she has to deal with the world.

People always say that she is such a sweet girl, so happy and polite. And she is. She is. And if I were her aunt or her coach or her friend's mom that would be great. But I'm not. I'm her mother and I can't send her out in the world with only sweet and smiley to fall back on.

This week she has decided that she wants to be an author when she grows up. Why? To quote her exactly, "Because authors don't have to get up in the morning."

In the meantime, she is failing English.

We're going to be supporting this girl until we die. I can see it now. She'll be living in our garage when she's thirty.

I hope she finds a rich man to marry. I hear sweet and smiley go pretty far with rich guys. And my daughter needs a staff.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

It's Official

Not only did my husband and I make a decision about our future, but my diligent husband made it all happen.

We are going to get to stay here in Virginia, basically, for the rest of our lives. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it. The sacrifice is that he will be deployed again. For a year. And he'll leave only three months after he gets back from his current deployment.

We talked about our options, or the options we were going to create for ourselves, for days. I kept going back and forth in my head. We could go back to the bayou or another flying squadron somewhere else. He would requalify in his aircraft, be a member of a crew, probably deploy a bunch, and have little chance to be a leader. All while we lived in a place we wouldn't choose for ourselves.

Or he could volunteer to go away for a year where he might have a job commiserate with his rank, we would live right where we are and the kids would stay in a school that we all love.

As much as the second option seemed to make better sense, I love my husband too much to just blithely send him away for a year so that I could have what I want. So I dithered.

In the past I always told him, "Whatever is best for you is best for us. Do what you need to and we'll make the rest work," and I felt like I was going against that principle by suggesting he volunteer to deploy and pretty much end any chance he has to advance any further in his career.

But he sent me an e-mail that said, "It looks like the volunteer deployment might be a go. Are you sure this is what you want?"

As soon as I read the words, "...might be a go," I let out a huge sigh and breathed, "Oh, thank god." And so I had my answer. My gut reaction to those words told me all I needed to know.

He's deploying again. But not to Afghanistan or Iraq. He's going to have an important and interesting job that will actually really contribute to keeping people safe during the war. And he's going to retire in just a few years knowing he did his part and his duty.

And I get what I want too. (Except for the being separated from my husband for another year part of it.)

I am so thankful to him for making it all work out. And I am grateful that he is willing to sacrifice this one year of his life for the overall benefit of our family. And I still feel guilty for asking him to do it.

But the kids are happier with our decision than I thought they'd be. Everyone else in my life has acted like it's awesome news. As happy as I am to not have to move, I still don't think it is awesome news.

I'm still going to miss the hell out of my husband for a really long time.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Didn't I get vaccinated for that?

Last night my son asked me if I had tuberculosis.

He was reading a book entitled Why You Wouldn't Want to Live in the Wild West (or something like that) and it had a whole page on diseases.

So he has evaluated my symptoms of the last two weeks and decided that yes, I have tuberculosis.

He might be right.

This morning when he gave me a good morning hug he told me to go take my temperature because I felt hot. "Even your hands, Mom," he told me.

And my temperature was 100.2 degrees.

Do I have a future doctor on my hands?

These last couple of weeks have sucked because I've spent the majority of them either hacking up a lung or asleep. But a lot has gone on 'round the ol' Tuna homestead. Now if only I could stop barking like a seal for a few minutes to sort it all out.

By the way, I am weeks behind on my e-mails, and some of you have sent me some wonderful ones. I appreciate your kind thoughts more than you could ever know and I will answer your e-mails soon! (Even yours, Honey.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Finding Power in Choice, Maybe

Okay, so here is what has been on my mind constantly lately.

To completely over-simplify things, this summer we have a choice. We can either move back to the bayou for the next four years (until my husband's retirement). Or he can deploy for a year and we can stay here.

Now remember, he'll be getting back from his current deployment in the Spring (I'll optimistically say it would be mid-March). And he'd have to head back out again for a year in June or July.

I say this is a complete oversimplification because it is. The powers that be might not really let him choose. They might decide they absolutely need his ass in the wilds of Alaska or in the middle of the ocean. There's never really any telling what the powers that be might do.

Two years ago, I would have loved to move back to the bayou. It was the devil I knew. But now I would hate to. If it were just me, I'd probably be okay with it. I do have a lot of friends there and the cost of living is cheap.

But the idea of taking my children back there makes me want to cry and cry. To the point where I was actually looking into boarding schools for high school. (It sounds crazy, but my daughter would be half way though high school when we would be able to retire and get the hell out of there.)

On the other hand, living without their dad for a year, right on the heals of living without him for six months can't be good for them either. But it would only be a year. And the rest of their lives would stay the same. Same school. Same great neighborhood. Same opportunities to become adults in a really wonderful area of the country.

Let's just say that I can't explain it all, but to me, this is a complete and total fork in the road of my children's lives. And there are no good choices. And we might not be allowed to make the choice at all anyway.

After sixteen years I must say, I am over being a military wife. I used to be so good at it. Now I feel like we have so little power over our family's future.

It is a very bitter pill for this over-protective and overly passionate parent to swallow.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I didn't defriend you! I need you!

As if the rest of this shit weren't bad enough...

Facebook disabled my account for using a fake name. Which I am so I can't really fight it.

So if you think I defriended you, I didn't. I only had 43 Facebook friends.

You's the thing. I was just thinking about this.

I got some crappy news yesterday and I'm going through some crappy stuff. And my husband is away and I barely ever get to talk to him. And I don't really have any close friends.

But I have you guys.

I can't talk to my parents about what's going on because they'll be upset. And I can't let my kids know what's going on because nothing is final and they don't need to worry about it too. That's my job. I can always write to my husband, but e-mail and chat aren't the best ways to discuss major life choices. Plus, while I am always honest with him, I want to be careful what I say because I know he is struggling too. I don't want him making hard decisions based on the words I spew when I'm just venting.

But I can always "talk" to you guys.

Except now I'm right back in that place where I wish I had never been Tuna Girl.

I started blogging back when everyone was anonymous. Everyone had blog pen names. Nobody used real names. That seemed completely crazy.

And with my husband's job, we both felt more comfortable having my blog be anonymous.

So I went ahead and said anything on my blog. Anything. So now, if my parents were to find my blog and read back, well, I would just die.

So I have these two separate worlds. And they can't cross.

So Tuna Girl can't be on Facebook anymore. And quite frankly, that was where most of my interaction and moral support was coming from.

I didn't need this shit right now.

How sad and pathetic am I?

Oh, well. I dug this hole. I'll sit in it all alone. It's just the timing that sucks.

And it's just, well, my real life/real name Facebook friends are so boring compared to you lovelies!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Hound of Hell

There are few good things about a deployment. But I think we all try to find the silver linings, if only to give ourselves the illusion that we have some control of the situation.

One of my silver linings for this deployment is that I inherited my husband's iPhone when he left.

Recently I was endlessly and aimlessly shifting through the phone's apps (I spend a lot of time checking and rechecking my e-mail these days) when I decided to see what music my taste-challenged husband had left me on his device.

And I found Dos Gringos.

Dos Gringos are apparently a group of singing, music playing and song writing fighter pilots. So their songs are all about our branch of the service and the experiences aviators all share.

I find it fascinating.

First of all, I am a complete sucker for male bonding. I find it damn hot. The CD was recorded live at a bar and I love to hear a roomful of guys belting out a war mongering tune.

Secondly, the music explores a side of my husband's personality that I'm not all that familiar with.

To me he is a total family man. He's kind of soft spoken, except when he's not. He's sort of shy. He's a homebody. He's kind of sweet but mostly he is placid. He has one default facial expression and it is pretty dower. I mean, I can get him going, but for the most part, he is as even keeled as they come.

He very rarely ever goes out with friends or hangs in the O' Club bar after work.

But I know that at work he is stubborn and passionate about what he does. He yells. I've heard stories. He's an old crusty colonel now. He drinks Jack and has been known even to smoke cigars. (Though only on special occasions. Right, honey?)

Nobody knows his name. They all call him by his call sign. Everybody.

He could be a character in a movie. But I never see that side of him. I only hear stories (and see the Jack bottles).

It's when he goes TDY that he gets loose. That's when he goes out and has a good time with his friends. I've gotten the drunken phone calls. I've heard the stories. I'm not allowed to tell the other wives.

And so this CD with song titles like, The Legend of Shaved Dog's Ass and My Wife's Vibrator and lyrics like...

"I spent five months TDY, and the bitch spent all my money."

And the one that is stuck in my head...

"...raining fire from above for the freedom that we love, we are the hounds of hell and the bloody dogs of war."

...I am reminded of my husbands alter ego.

He is a warrior. He's seen combat. I should remember that.

But, still. On the desktop of our computer is a picture of my husband in his plane during his first post 9/11 deployment. He's wearing the baseball hat he wore on combat flights. He's wearing his headset and a mic.

And he's wearing a big fucking smile. His smile. His happy smile.

And I just can't think of him as the hound of hell or dog of war.

He may be a warrior, but mostly he is just...


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Occasionally I miss it wicked bad.

One of my New England friends took her baby out trick-or-treating dressed as a lobster.

In a lobster pot.

She put her baby in a pot.

How awesome is that?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Rich, and How They Stay That Way

How did our middle class asses get here?

You know, they say the rich get richer and they are right. Part of it might be the way wealth builds, but mostly, it is all about associations.

So, we are not rich. By far. My husband has a government job and I don't work. But we are fucking lucky. Through the generosity of family, we are able to give our kids opportunities we never would have dreamed of ourselves.

It all started when we picked a preschool.

Now, I picked a preschool for my three-year-old based solely on the kind of experience she would have. I wanted her to go to the school with the best academics and the best spirit. So I wormed our way in.

Little did I know the type of lifestyle I was setting my kids toward for life. Choosing that school led to violin lessons, Junior League invites, and inclusion in an inner circle I had known nothing about.

The first time we went to a preschool friend's house for a party, and they had valet parking at the circular drive leading up to their freaking mansion...I knew we weren't in a mill town anymore.

Eight years later...

We're still middle class. Maybe upper middle class. We have some savings. We're upside down on our house. (Isn't everyone?) We still live pretty much paycheck to paycheck. (But combat pay helps!) But we have a financial safety net most people don't have, and our kids are still going to private school.

But the level of school, um, let's say "prestige" has gone up a notch.

Now that my daughter is a preteen, it has hit me hard.

A few weeks ago, she got an invitation in the mail for the cotillion season at a country club. I put it in the recycling. Since it had a fee I assumed it was like all the other pageant-type schemes we've been getting "invited" to since our daughter was born.

Then we went to school that day and I found out that it was a thing. All the sixth graders go. Unbeknownst to me, my daughter and her friends had been planning for it for months.

So I came home and dug the damn invite out of the trash.

Does this mean I'm raising a deb? Does it?

How the hell did that happen?

Now my daughter wants to go to a summer camp for girls. Desperately. But not any summer camp. Oh, no. The summer camp. A summer camp that has legacies. Apparently, it's a thing.

Here's the thing about us. We're not going to say "no" based on just the principle that it is a rich girl thing. We've been researching the heck out of the place. And it looks awesome. We think it will be a wonderful experience for her.

But now she'll be a "_____ Girl" for the rest of her life. And that's a term that has some clout, especially in this region. In fact, as an alumnae she can bring her husband and children to Family Camp. She wants us to go to Family Camp. But we can't. I spent my summers in my own dang backyard.

It's the associations that make the rich get richer.

Hell, we get discounts at businesses in our area just because of where my kids go to school. (Free cookies at Subway anyone?)

The cop's kid in me thinks it is not right. But the parent in me says, "What the hell!" If my kids can have an easier life than my parents had, even then my own husband had, why would I deny them?

My kids are part of a society that my husband and I never really will be. We're pretty much depending on his military rank and our stunning personalities to get by.

Luckily we have learned one really important lesson along the way. Rich people are not bad people. They're like most people. Most are pretty okay. Some suck major ass. And some are really awesome.

We're pretty damn sure we're raising some awesome ones.

So my "_____ Girl" is going to cotillion.

And I find myself asking yet again, "How the hell did we get here?"

Friday, October 29, 2010

American Boyhood

Do you know that Wayne Gretzky's sons don't play hockey?

They don't.

Well, at least the oldest two don't. The first quit after riding the bench for a year. The second one chose baseball. The youngest two are just around my son's age

So the great one...the greatest hockey player of all time...his kids don't play hockey.

And he's okay with that.

That makes me feel so great! It totally puts into perspective that my son will never be an athlete.

Even before kids are conceived, I think every parent has a preconceived notion of what their kids will eventually be. Even those of us who try really hard not to, still do. It is so hard, no...impossible not to imagine them caring about the things we care about, excelling at the things we wish they would, and generally being happy about 99.7% of the time.

And then they're born. And they are nothing like you imagined. And as much as you love the heck out of them, and appreciate them for who they are, there is always this tiny, deeply covered part of your most inner self who mourns, just a bit, for the kids we thought they'd be.

Just one small comment by my son's teacher at our conference yesterday put it all into perspective for me.

She was telling me that third grade is a huge year of change for boys. Some of the them start caring about clothes. Some of them get serious about sports, and have the physiques to prove it. And some of them care about popularity and image for the first time. It's a time when boys assert their individuality.

And then she said, "Like your son...he's really found his direction in the fine arts. He's so amazing at music and art and drama."

She went on to tell me all these stories about how the other boys respect his talent (which is really just years of hard work) so much that they ask him to play violin for the class whenever he brings it to school. She told me how he read a script for the video the class is making, and the teaching fellow showed all the other teacher's his clip because it was so great.

I think if you've read this blog for any length of time, you have probably rolled your eyes at some point (over and over) and thought, there she goes, bragging about her kids again. And I do think they're pretty great. But what you don't read here is how sometimes I am disappointed that they don't care about what I cared about when I was a kid.

I worry all the time that they got all of my worst qualities and none of my good ones. I hate that they are not physically fit. I feel massive amounts of guilt and anxiety about it.

They drive me crazy when they are lazy. They make me nuts when they don't try things that are hard. They make me want to scream when they don't try hard.

I mean, heck. They're not perfect. I love them. But sometimes I am sad about they are not.

I'm sad that they are not passionate about sports like I was. That's not something most parents would probably admit. But what the heck.

But my son's teacher? She's taught hundreds of kids in an almost 20 year career. She greets 20 boys at her classroom door every morning. And because she is not their parent, she can love them for the unique individuals they are, without any of the regret for what they are not.

She looks at my son and sees an artist. A musician. An actor. And as she told me, the most polite, conscientious, agreeable, and happy boy she's ever taught.

Before I had kids, I pictured my son as this rough and tumble, athletic, captain of the baseball team type.

And what I got was this sensitive, empathetic actor, artist and musician. And he's happy 99.7% of the time.

How could I ever have any regrets?

It's time to let the preconceived notions of boyhood go.

I love this kid more than I could ever say.

I bet Wayne Gretzky's kids can't play the violin.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Please Welcome, Tuna Man!

I talked to my husband today. I haven't gotten to talk to him very much in the six weeks that he's been deployed, so it was very nice. Even though I spent most of the conversation acting incredulous about things that go on in our life. Like...

"I know!"

"She kills me!"

And, "I know!"

Recently, he found out that he was actually able to read my blog from the dry part of hell in which he currently resides. So now I feel like I need to rethink what I write.

Not that my writing has been so scintillating lately. But still.


Hi, Honey!

(Damn. There goes that post I had all written out complaining about my mother-in-law.)

Hey, Honey! Look over here!

(And there goes that post I had half written about my nutso father-in-law.)

Woo hoo, Honey! Check me out!

(And I can't even tell you about how my daughter has a "boyfriend" now.)

Breathe, Honey. Breathe. It will be okay.

But the rest of you, check back for stories of pre-teen love.

And, Honey, there is no reason to practice your marksmanship. Unless you need it to fight off bad guys. I got the whole boyfriend thing covered. I swear.

(I don't have a clue.)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wearing Purple

My family will be wearing purple tomorrow, October 20, to show that we stand up to bullying.

Well, three of us will be. One of us will be wearing desert camo like he does everyday.

I talked to each of my kids about just what I felt we were wearing purple for. I told them:

1) We show that we support all kids, gay or straight who are being bullied, feeling left out, or having a hard time. We want those kids to know that we'll listen to them, and stand up for them no matter what.

2) We show that we'll never bully other kids. (I'm not so much worried about that one.)

3) We show that we will never accept anyone bullying us. We know that no one has the right to make us feel bad about ourselves. We will stand up for ourselves to the best of our ability.

And finally 4) We promise that if we are being bullied, we will get help from a trusted adult. We acknowledge that our school has a zero-tolerance for bullying and we will go to a teacher to support a friend or stand up for ourselves if we have to. The kids promise to come to me if they've tried to stand up for themselves and it hasn't worked, and I promise I will do my best to handle the situation without making it worse.

Having this talk with each kid yielded some interesting results.

My daughter was all gung ho about it. We shared some stories of how we've dealt with bullying in the past. And then she started to cry. She was sad for the kids who had killed themselves, but she was upset for her brother too (who had a small run in with a kid recently).

My son asked a bunch of questions. The first of which was, "What does gay mean?"

What? Huh? How did I miss out on that one? My kid with all his gay uncles and living in his gayborhood cul-de-sac? (I was going to call it the gay-de-sac but that sounds bad.)

So I gave him an answer and he said, "Like Matthew and Kevin."

And I said, "Exactly."

Then he wanted to know how those kids had killed themselves. And why.

So they are very on board with wearing purple tomorrow. And even if no one else in the world wears purple, it gave me the opportunity to have this dialog with my kids. And that is totally worth it.

You know, I don't exactly have an "It Gets Better" message. Life has always been pretty damn easy for me. I can't show my support that way. But I can let kids know that there are other kids out there being raised to be accepting and supportive. And I know lots of moms who are doing the same thing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Let's Shake On It

This is where you learn about what a "weird" parent I am.

In our family we have a rule about sports. After every practice or game, our children shake their coaches' hands and thank them.

Our school has a culture built around handshaking and I love it. Every morning their teachers meet the kids at the doors to their classrooms, shake their hands and exchange a few words of greeting.

At the end of every violin practice or lesson my kids take a bow and say, "Thank you for teaching me," in both English and Japanese. It is a common practice among Suzuki trained kids and my kids have been doing it for years.

(I then answer them, "Thank you for working so hard," because it is the work that matters, not the talent or outcome. I don't say it in Japanese though.)

Why shouldn't the same courtesy reign in the world of sports?

After all, many, if not most of these coaches volunteer their time.

So, my son, the king of the handshake (you should have seen the General's face at my husband's promotion when my son introduced himself and stuck out his hand for a handshake) wholeheartedly believes in our sports rule.

In the locker room after every hockey game or practice, he goes up to his coach and shakes his hand, without any prompting from me.

His coach is used to it now, but was obviously confused the first couple of times. My son usually says, "Thanks for a great game," or something similar. And the coach always has trouble coming up with a reply.

I think that the other kids on his team think he is a freak. First he's got the weird teeth and braces thing going on right now. Then, he's not very good at hockey. And now he's shaking hands! They look at him weird.

But I'm okay with it. It might make him stick out. But I'd rather he stick our for good manners then anything else.

It's all about values, people.

So, last Monday my son had his very first rehearsal with the orchestra he auditioned for. He had been looking forward to it for months.

At the end of rehearsal, I was distracted by my daughter for a second as she headed to her own rehearsal. When I looked up to find the boy, he was up by the podium shaking the conductor's hand.

She laughed a bit so when my son made his way back to me, I asked what he had said.

"I said, 'Thank you for a good practice. I hope to see you in the future.'"

Never mind that we see her every Thursday when we go to group class and every Monday night for orchestra. He hopes to see her in the future.

Sometimes I don't know whether to be embarrassed by my little future politician or incredibly proud of him.

He is kind of weird. A lot like me. But he likes himself just fine, and I'm okay with that.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mr. Swift

Totally out of the blue my daughter announced to me, "I think the boy who sings Billionaire is cute."

What? Whose child is this?

"How do you know what he looks like?" I asked her.

"Last week you were watching TV and I had to come downstairs and get something and a cute blond boy was singing that song before you hit pause. It was like a music video."

How does she even know what a music video is? MTV hasn't played music videos since I was her age.

I had to think for a minute and then I remembered. "That wasn't a music video, hon. That was Glee."

So I love learning about my kid. I'm so very glad she isn't pining for the bad boy type. She likes blonds though.

Lucky for her, about half of the boys in her class look like mini Chord Overstreets. Living in a city with the word beach right in the name means there are lots of surfer-types around.

Yesterday she asked me, "Can you believe that none of my friends know who John Williams is?"

Um, yes.

She went on, "When I told them, they shrugged and said, 'Never heard of him.' Then they asked me if I liked Taylor Swift and I said I had never heard of him."

Eleven is such a great age.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One Month In

So, for the record, I've been doing pretty well these last couple of weeks. I feel like I've been pulling myself together step-by-step and day-by-day.

I can't even believe that it has been one month since my husband left on his deployment. We're one fifth of the way there. And I just got around to picking up the half empty soda cans he left on his nightstand.

You know, I keep composing this blog post in my head where I say, "Contrary to the evidence at hand, my life isn't all kids' violin and kids' hockey and kids' theater." But the truth is that it is!

It sounds like it should be sad and depressing, but to me it's not. But it is probably pretty boring to read about though.

I don't really know how I used to do it. How did I take care of little kids 24/7, but still have adult things to talk about?

I guess I was having sex back then. That was one adult thing to talk about. And I occasionally went to the gym or spent time with blog friends. But I don't do that anymore.

Also, kids are funnier when they are little. I rarely have the opportunity to throw them in toilets or watch them strip at the playground now that they are older.

So for now, life is all kids' violin and kids' hockey and kids' theater. And I'm going to enjoy it while I can. Especially for the next five months. Boring or not.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

And the Oscar goes to...Boy #2

Today,the kids got their roles for the play they are performing with their theater group. They are putting on an original version of The Emperor's New Clothes. I hear it is very funny.

My son got a speaking role, which is very cool because he was the only third grader who did. They use the third graders as the chorus. But he is Boy #2 and he gets to say, "The Emperor isn't wearing any clothes!"

My daughter is Lady #2. *sigh* This is her third play with this group and they keep telling the kids that the bigger roles should go to sixth graders. Well, she's a sixth grader. But she seems happy enough.

The coolest thing is how happy they are for each other. Apparently when her name was called, my son cheered and hugged her. And when his name was called, she went nuts for him. They have each separately told me how proud they are of the other.

My daughter even said, "He has such an important line, I think he has an even bigger role than me. I'm so happy for him!"

This parenting gig is all about priorities, people. I've messed up plenty, but in this one way, we've gotten things right.

You know what, I take it back. The coolest thing is that all that speech therapy my son slogged though has paid off. His speech isn't perfect, but it's no longer holding him back.

Go Boy #2!

Monday, October 04, 2010


I know I have mentioned it before, but my son really, really wants to be an actor.

I thought it might be a phase. That makes me sound almost thespiaphobic doesn't it. (There's a word I just made up. I like it!) But you know how kids are. They all want to be firefighters, dolphin trainers, and the president at some point in life.

But my son doesn't want any of those things. Just yesterday my daughter said to him, "You're either going to be a billionaire or the president, buddy."

To which he replied, "I don't want to be the president. But my career might make me a billion dollars. Really famous actors sometimes make a lot of money."

I mean, the kid's not dropping it.

Except for a few weeks when he was four-years-old and wanted to be a plane driver, he has only ever wanted to be an actor.

So I put him in the Young People's Theater Program at school. And he loves it. It takes him a couple of hours to turn off the acting after his rehearsals. (The kids in the hockey locker room think he's a weirdo.)

But I wonder.

If he really, really wanted to be a professional baseball player, I'd go out and play catch with him. He'd be playing Little League, but he'd also be going to the batting cages, clinics and camps too. I'd probably get him a private coach.

Well, his chances of being a professional athlete are close to nil, but why do I take acting less seriously?

Am I doing a disservice to him by not letting him do the local players group? Am I letting him down by not putting him in acting classes with a professional?

Is acting like an instrument? If you want to be awesome and make a living at it, you should start when you're a little kid. Heck! He's been seriously studying the violin since he was four-years-old!

An old acquaintance (and professional actress with some pretty decent credits) opened an actors' studio this year. She does online teaching and coaching, plus has summer intensive training back in Louisiana.

Another old acquaintance has her kid in the young actors class.

Today she posted her kid's headshots on Facebook. And I felt...yucky looking at them.

It just seems...icky to promote your child. Head shots smack of marketing. Well, actually it is marketing. And that seems...distasteful to me.

So even though my son would love to go to those disgusting casting calls he hears about on the radio, I know in my heart that I could never let him do it.

Supporting your kid's passion is one thing. Marketing your kid is another.

He has years and years left to be a kid. And I'm doing my damn best to make him a well-rounded kid. He'll have plenty of time after college to pursue a career in acting.

If he still wants to.


What do you think? How seriously can you take the dreams of an eight-year-old?

Think about it while I go get the kids some head shots for their violin concert programs. Thanks.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Flushing It Out

Well, whew! It's nice to know that yesterday's melancholy vent was a result of undiagnosed PMS.

Now that I'm down with the menses, I feel normal again. I've really got to see a professional about this PMS shit. It is getting ridiculous. Speaking of fears, if my PMS is this bad, can you imagine how bad menopause is going to be for me. And, well, of course for my family. But mostly for me!

You know, I have always thought that it's not really depression if you have something to really be sad about. It's not an anxiety disorder if you have real reason to be anxious.

I don't think much about what my husband is doing in Afghanistan. I didn't think much about what he was doing in Iraq. You can't think much about it and function on a daily basis. You have to put it aside. I'm good at that.

But that doesn't mean that my real knowledge of the situation isn't buried deep.

Before he deploys he tells us how he is going to be doing pretty much the same thing over there that he does here. Office work. And that he'll be just as safe. But when he gets home, little stories come out. Plus, when I stop my self-imposed moratorium on all war related media, I stumble upon other people's stories.

It is both much worse and much better over there than I think I imagine.

The first week he was gone I had a terrible cold. The second week, terrible PMS, apparently. Giving myself a break for not living up to my own high expectations has taken the pressure off. And writing out all of my very worst feelings yesterday helped to clear my mind too. (And so did your very sweet comments. You guys are the best! This is why I can't give up blogging.)

Today, the kids and I had a great morning. My son cruised through violin practice and my daughter actually got her hair clean in the shower (a real and true miracle, I'm telling you).

I blew my daughter's hair dry without tears. Hers or mine. I got my son into a pair of dress pants that fit him. And we got him into a tie without any strangling. It's school picture day.

My daughter is taking origami classes at school this month. As she got out of the car this morning, her box of finished origami projects went flying. And her brother went running all through the car pool lane to catch them and pick them up for her. All while she cried, "No buddy! Be careful! Buddy, come back!"

(She really does call him Buddy.)

The whole incident made me smile. They're good kids who love each other. Enough to risk getting hit by a car for the sake of a few precious bits of folded paper.

I haven't messed them up too bad.

And this afternoon I joined my daughter for lunch at school. It was chicken pot pie. Yum. I have always loved school food.

I talked to other moms and was, like, completely normal.

To top it off, tonight's violin classes are canceled due to flooding. Woo hoo.

As long as we don't float away here I feel like it is the start of a very good change. I'll flush out my bad feelings as I flush out my unused womb.

And then I'll worry about cleaning the house.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I'd love to tell you how well we've been doing for the last two weeks. I'd love to be one of those military wives who is all sunshine and strength.

But the truth is that I'm about 45% sunshine and strength. And about 55% frustration, sadness and weariness.

When it comes right down to it, we're fine. The kids are really fine. I'm pretty fine. My husband seems pretty much not fine.

I'm a little afraid though. I'm seeing some scary signs.

In these last two weeks since my husband left on his deployment, I've been seeing some tiny glimpses of just how bad things could get, if I let them.

I'm seeing the very first signs of depression. I've been sleeping during the day and not at night. I've been letting things go, like housework and volunteer work. I've gotten way behind and the scary thing to me is that I don't care. But I've been completing the tasks that really have to be done and taking care of the kids.

I haven't been wanting to leave the house. I'm not lonely. In fact, the scary thing is that I'm not lonely at all. I just don't want to be around people. What I think of as shyness has escalated. I've been turning down invitations. I haven't been returning phone calls, even to the bug guy. All because I don't want to talk to anyone.

My biggest fear has always been that I would turn out to be clinically depressed. Or agoraphobic. The agoraphobia is something that has worried me since I was a kid and my parents took in my cousins while my aunt was treated for agoraphobia.

I'm feeling a little down. I'm feeling like I need some alone time. I'm feeling typically shy. But I'm a little freaked at how easily I could let that slip into depression, agoraphobia and a social anxiety disorder.

So last Friday I decided to take the kids on a little surprise weekend trip and left the messy house and my big, enticing bed behind.

Last night I washed the dishes. I did laundry. This morning I took out the trash.

Those are little things, but they have helped me feel better. It's not hopeless. I can claw my way out of this rut.

Today I am going to go to the post office and mail my husband a package. He's cold there. He needs a warmer blanket and some sweat pants. It will be the first time in two weeks I've done something that wasn't just for the kids.

And then I need to decide. Am I better off wallowing for a bit, pampering myself and saying to hell with it all. Or should I push myself.

Right now, I just want a nap.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Okay, I take that back about my man being officially in Afghanistan.

Apparently, he got bumped from a flight (Who knew the military bumped service members?) and is stuck in some Russian blah-blah-i-stan country for the week.

He's sharing a bunk bed with a Marine Master Sergeant.

Yes, the "top" and "bottom" jokes are endless. Let's not go there, eh?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Blue Star Flag Hung Again

I've been wanting to write for a while.

You see, I saved this little outdated, naval-gazing thing called a blog for just this purpose. So that when my husband was deployed, and my alone hours stretched far and long, I'd have an outlet.

And he'd have one more way of keeping up with us and what is going on in our lives, from a different perspective. He says I'm much different on my blog. He gets more, or maybe a different part to the story than I tell him in e-mail or on the phone.

But, it's been so long since I've written, I forgot my user name and password. It took me a few days to remember. Hell, there was a time in my life when if you suggested I might forget my blog user name, I would have laughed at you. "Impossible," I would have said.

Now, well, blogs are so 2004.

So my husband is officially in Afghanistan.

It's fine.

Yesterday was totally fine. Today kind of sucked. We're tired. Ridiculously tired.

I've been waiting for this deployment for so long, now that it is finally here, I'm not sure how I feel. Except tired.

And I need to make a to-do list. For months I've been putting off doing anything that wasn't immediately necessary, telling myself, "I'll get to it when he leaves." But now that he's gone, I just want a rest.

So, the Blue Star flag is hung in our window once again. And we take on a day-by-day approach to life. And the days march by in relative peace and happiness.

2 down. 178 to go.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hockey Hips Don't Lie

Speaking of skating...

My kids are going to hockey camp this week. I had no idea that their coach was a former NHL player. I'm not sure how I missed that. But he is the type of gung ho, tough-but-fair coach I remember so fondly from my own sports camp days.

My son, poor guy, is as usual the worst one on the ice. I keep trying to remind him that he has come so very far and improves every single time he gets on the ice. He has a great attitude, but he just doesn't the have the natural talent of most of these kids.

But as his coach told him yesterday, "Hey, you could be at home playing video games. But you're here working hard and that makes you a winner in my book."

Today he was doing a drill where he was supposed to jump over his stick with his feet together. Um, it didn't go so well. You might be able to slide a piece of paper between his skate blades and the ice, but not a hockey stick.

So the coach was standing in front of him and trying to talk him through it. And he just kept jumping up an inch off the ice and straight back down. And finally the coach just had to laugh. It was quite funny to watch. My kid is all effort from the top of his head to the toes of his skates. But he looked like he was on a pogo stick that had lost its spring.

The girl, on the other hand, is one of the best out there. She's so funny. That child doesn't have a graceful bone on her body, but she does well in sports just by sheer desperation of will. Now that she's switched from soccer, where she was nowhere near fast enough to keep up, to hockey, where proper skating technique will take her far, she's building huge amounts of confidence.

Today at the end of practice they played a game where they tried to hip check each other out of the circle or onto the ice. My daughter won three out of four rounds. Much to the chagrin of a dozen boys.

What can I say? Her hips are bigger.

Skate On, Faster

I thought it would be nice, but now I have to admit it... the way, always be careful what you wish for...

...but the lead-up to this upcoming deployment has been waaaaaay tooooooo long.

I've spent the last, what, three months mentally preparing myself for my husband's deployment. And I'm tired. I'm beat! I have actually gotten to a point where I'm thinking, Just go already, would you!

I know I'm not the only one feeling that way.

We have so much going on these next couple of weeks, and all of it stressful, that my husband and I both just want August to be over.

He gets promoted on August 27 (our anniversary) and to celebrate, we have lots of family coming to stay. My parents, my nephews, his mother, his father.

Wait. What? What was that? His mother and his father, who have been divorced for 35 years and haven't said more than a word or two to each other in 35 years are both going to be staying at our house and attending the same ceremony, reception and party???


Truthfully, I'm glad for my husband that for once in his damned life his father is going to man up and do the freaking right thing. (I mean, seriously. His son is getting a big promotion in one of the most noble professions possible. You'd think the man would be a little proud.)

But it ain't going to be fun.

Even if everything goes as smooth as can be, the stress of preparing for all this family is wearing on us.

And my house looks and smells like crap.

I know my husband has been beyond stressed because the other day he said, "Hon, I love you to death, but I can't wait to leave."

How bad does your work stress have to be to consider a trip to a war-torn desert as a relief?

And I don't know how I let it happen, but our fall schedule is packed beyond belief. Violin lessons, violin rehearsals, orchestra rehearsals, swim conditioning training (I've got to trim my babies up!), theater program, and hockey.

And both of the kids are doing all of those things!

And, of course, my daughter has excelled at hockey and she may be playing on a "select" traveling team. It's not that I don't want her to do well, but sheesh. How much more can I do? We can't be at two places at once.

Things are going to have to cut back in the winter. It hasn't even started yet and I already know I can't keep up this pace. Not alone.

So for me, August has felt like the big countdown to "The Leaving" and I'm not sure how much more stress I can handle.

But I know a few hours of sleep would help.

Yes, I think I'll start there. I can sleep for an hour before I have to take the kids to hockey. Again. Wrestling two kids into a hundred pounds of extremely smelly hockey gear is always a nice way to start the day.

Skate on, August. Skate on!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Spoiled at Eleven

Thanks to her grandparents, my daughter is in the running for Most Spoiled Child Ever.

My kid has a cell phone, an iPod, a digital camera, a Flip video camera, and a nook e-reader. She has a freaking e-reader! I don't even have an e-reader.

But she is the first grandchild in our families. And the only girl. And her grandparents spoil her rotten. Admittedly, Santa brought her the cell phone and iPod bought she doesn't even use those.

In addition to the Flip and nook, her grandparents also sent her two pairs of gold earrings, a $100 Barnes & Noble gift card (for e-books), and a grand.

Yup! A grand! A thousand dollars. Her savings account is now bigger than ours.

And what did we, her loving parents, get her for her birthday? A subscription to American Girl magazine, a reading lamp, and decorative turtles for her wall. Yes, turtles.

Okay, sure, I can go on and on about the stuff she has that I don't, but I have to admit that she is really very appreciative of everything she has. She is a very good present receiver.

Still, that kid is NOT getting a MacBook, and iPhone, or an iPad before me. And she's getting nothing but socks and underwear for Christmas. I swear.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Catching Up on Summer, Part 2

Speaking of hockey, my husband still plays. I try to take my kids to as many of his games as I can. This past week he got in a shoving match with a real asshole on the other team. It's funny, because I saw it coming. One of the player's wives was sitting next to us with her two kids under 2 and she was bragging to her friends about how many penalty minutes her husband has racked up and how many fights he's been in.

Yes, this is recreational hockey we are talking about. On a men's league with five teams. Some of the teams don't even have uniforms. It is a "no checking" league. But HER man is all important because he trips people and acts like an asshole.

I don't know if he realizes it, but my husband's protective streak goes way beyond his family. So I knew once this guy started acting out, my husband would be the one to put him in his place. Within the first minute, the guy rode him into a corner, elbowed him in the head (which I'm not even sure of my husband realized) and checked him. So he stood up to him. He's not going to let some guy get rough with him and then the rest of his team.

They both got sent to the box.

My kids were not happy with the situation.

By the end of the game the guy had gotten tossed out. It takes a lot to get tossed out of a recreational hockey game. His wife was proud though, so I guess that's something.

When we were waiting for my husband to come out of the locker room, the guy's baby was crying. My son asked me, "I wonder what that baby is saying when he cries."

And I replied, "He's wailing, 'My parents are bad people!'"

What? It just slipped out, I swear. I didn't mean to say it and I wasn't considering my audience. Don't worry though. My son chastised me.

So, other than that great bit of parenting, I've also sent the kids to two weeks of day camp at school. Last week my daughter took photography, which she loved. This week she is taking a babysitting course, which I love. Last week my son had art camp with a member of the Guggenheim family. This week he is taking a class on candy making with his best bud. Guess which one he likes best.

Next weekend my husband is taking the kids camping. In a tent. I'll be home in the air conditioning.

But today is my daughter's birthday. She's turning eleven. She's creeping on up there.

She's such a good kid, even though most of the time she is such a trial to me. (She's the kind of trial that makes me roll my eyes and sigh and laugh, but still a trial.) I'm finally starting to understand her a bit though, and that is huge for us. I think she's finally at an age that I remember being myself. I was a much bigger dork at eleven than she is. I thank classical music, a good school and sweet friends for that.

She has three best friends that do everything together. They are quite a crew. But one of the girls is definitely sweeter and more mature than the rest and luckily, she's the one my daughter thinks of as her best friend. We're taking her out to dinner with us tonight.

Oh, I bought Justin Bieber concert tickets for my daughter's birthday, thinking I would earn the title Coolest Mom Ever. But nope. A little probing taught me that apparently she doesn't like Justin Bieber and thinks his music is completely annoying crap. I guess I should have probed before I purchased. Now I have to decide if I want to sell the six tickets, or still give them to her and make her friends happy.

Decisions. Decisions.

All in all I have to say that we are extremely lucky. We're very proud of our daughter. She's a very special person. She's strong enough to play hockey but sweet enough to hover over the little kid who falls to the ice and starts crying. Now she wants to be a violin teacher or a preschool teacher when she grows up. But she still dreams of training dolphins and having awesome animal adventures. She loves kids and animals. And her brother and her dad.

She's growing up, and mostly not into that annoying preteen stage that we've been dreading. She is an awesome mix of mature and naive that works well for her. She never whines. (But she cries.) She wants to wear lip gloss and perfume. (But she doesn't want to wash her hair.) She is a complex mix of kid and grown up, but she is sweet and empathetic above all.

She's a musician. She's a real artist. And she is everything that entails.

And I love her.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Catching Up on Summer, Part 1

My son is at his friend's house. My husband is still not home from work. And my daughter is asleep on the sofa. I haven't felt this alone in months!

Every single summer I have these fantasies about enjoying an idilic summer full of beach days, art projects and popsicles. But the truth is I'm scared of the jelly fish at the beach, I suck at art projects, and popsicles make my teeth ache.

So I fill our summers with stuff. I never mean to. It just happens.

We started this summer with a trip to Washington D.C. for a summer violin institute. It's hard to explain what the institute is like. It is intense. It is one of those great experiences that teaches the kids that hard work has its own rewards. That fun doesn't have to be frivolous or silly. That enjoyment can come from immersing yourself in a challenge and exceeding your own expectations.

It's kind of like one intense week of college for young musicians. The kids work hard but have fun too in "play ins" and at the pool. I attend parent lectures while they have fun.

This particular institute is very competitive, but they're really not supposed to be that way. Imagine spending at entire week with the stage moms of 260 kids. My son wants to go back to the same institute next summer. My daughter wants to try another one. (Probably because she happened to fall into that place where she was at the top level of each of her classes and she didn't enjoy it. She even had orchestra with her baby brother. She's right on a cusp and that is no fun for a tween.)

Also this summer, we finally let our little princess talk us into letting her play ice hockey.

She's wanted to play for years but hockey is so expensive. It was also the one thing her brother did that she didn't do. It doesn't seem right that they both play violin, both are taking theater class, and both are joining the swim program at school. Don't they need their own things? We figured they could at lest have different sports.

Bu she kept asking to play hockey and she has to go with me to the rink for her brother's games and practices anyway, so it did kind of make sense to let her. A few grand later (and a pair of $350 ice skates!) and we have two hockey playing kids. They're even on the same team.

So much for having their own things.

I guess I have to remember that my kids are kind of weird in one key way. They really do enjoy each other's company. They really are very supportive of each other. It's like they totally missed out on the sibling rivalry gene. It's kind of weird. I hope it doesn't mess with their future development.

Even though she is way better than him, my son still loves to have his sister on his team. When she scored a goal last week, he was the one who announced it to us enthusiastically in the locker room after the game.

I don't know how long the ice hockey thing will last for a girl in a place where she has to play with 6 through 10 year olds this summer and then 11 through 18 year olds this fall, but we'll see.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dragged Off By My Hair

Recently, friends of ours traded in their Prius for a Lexus GS 460 SUV. Yeah, like this one.

The wife had been driving the Prius (her husband had been driving their Toyota Highlander Hybrid) so we were all teasing her about trading up to something fancy schmancy.

But she let us know that her husband would be driving the Lexus and she would be driving his old Highlander.

What the?

I'm sorry, call me old fashion, but I believe the woman should always drive the nicer, newer, safer, more luxurious car.

Okay, I realize I'm digging myself a serious hole here. I mean, I claim to be a feminist (but I'm a housewife...go figure) and I don't mean to be heterocentric (which spellcheck doesn't recognize as a real word), but come on!

What husband could handle watching his wife drive around in the worse car?

Do I just live under a rock? Is this a common thing?

Today I drove my husband's used Honda Civic to the grocery store. I came home feeling very spoiled and very grateful. And it wasn't just because I was missing my Mazda's (not Lexus) navigation system, leather seats, blind spot monitoring and snazzy paint job.

My husband has a way of...I don't know...

He has this way of taking possession of something, and then working it into the fucking ground. Now that I write that I realize that it goes way beyond cars.

I don't know why that is. Maybe it is partly just because he has an eh, it will be fine casual ass attitude about just about everything. Or maybe it is just that his nose doesn't work. (The smell of moldy coffee was so overwhelming in his Civic that I had to hold back the bile!) Or maybe it is just that he is destined to be hardworking, down to earth (and not fancy schmancy) his whole life.

I'm okay with that. As long as I get to have my luxurious things. And as long as I'm not one of the things he's taken possession of and worked into the fucking ground.

Call me spoiled (no really, go ahead and call me spoiled). Call me old fashion. But I love that my man can provide expensive violins, a nice car, a nice house, private school and then not resent driving around in a POS.

And I love even more that when I tell him I appreciate all those things he provides he tells me I deserve it. And when I point out that I don't have job and earn nothing and therefor really don't deserve it, he scoffs and tells me that I am doing the most important thing of all.

Hell, I had no idea just how caveman my tastes really ran until I wrote it all out.

I think I'll go put a bone in my ponytail.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Here Comes the Gayborhood

When we first moved here to this little cul-de-sac in heaven we met all of our neighbors at a farewell party for our neighbors James and Rob who were moving to Palm Springs.

It was a very welcome culture shock for us. We had gay neighbors. Two sets of them actually. We had lesbian school teachers on one side and gay professionals across. A retired Asian couple, a retired Navy couple, and a German family all lived on our cul-de-sac.

We were a long, long way from the bayou.

But I was sad to see James and Rob move. They seemed like very good guys. But hell, they were moving to Palm Springs. You can't get much better than that.

The unmarried Navy couple who moved into James and Rob's beautiful house were a train wreck. The guy was so high ranking in the Navy that if I told you what job he had, the military among you might know who he was. And he was an asshole. An A class asshole.

Well, his concubine (also a Navy officer) smartened up and left the prick. And he proceeded to wreck that house. I mean, like, Hoarders wreck. She was smart enough to get him out of the house somehow and cleaned it up. But that house was never the same as when James and Rob lived there.

But, apparently, Palm Springs wasn't what it was all cracked up to be and James and Rob are coming back.

They're moving into the house that the German family has been renting out since they returned to their home country last year. The one right next to us that has been housing the most annoying child ever born for the last year.

Woo hoo!

We couldn't ask for better neighbors.

For two years our lesbian neighbors have been showing us up with their yard work. Now we're going to be sandwiched between two gay couples.

We don't stand a chance!

But professional landscaping is a price I'll pay to keep these great neighbors in our life.

Welcome to our gayborhood.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


This may be my all time favorite photograph ever.
To me it tells such a story.
Waiting to play...
While his sister watches the little kids on stage, my son is in his own head thinking who knows what.
It is also poignant to me for what (or who) is not there.
It's funny. It's so him. So us.
We're always, always, waiting.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

He's No Bobby Orr

Do you know what I love about my son?

That he sucks at sports.

Well, okay, I'm not so much psyched that he sucks at sports. If he was good at sports he'd be all fit and...kind of normal. I sometimes wish I could go up to parents whose sons can ride bikes and throw balls like it is not a big deal and tell them to be more appreciative.

I'd love it if my kid was good at sports. Because I love sports. But he's not. He sucks.

But, I love that he still loves them.

Yes, my son who struggles at sports jumps at any chance to play anything. And he loves hockey. He absolutely loves it.

It takes a special kind of person to always be the worst on the team, yet practice harder and show more commitment than anyone else.

This weekend he was talking about which hockey team he'd play on as a teenager. He sees that he's improving, albeit slower than everyone else, and with a lot more hours of sweat. He sees a future for himself.

After Hockey Academy this weekend he told me, "I'm so proud of myself."

And that's why I love him. Because he sucks at sports and he happily sticks with them anyway.

He tells me, "You can't be good at everything, Mom. I'm good at violin. But that doesn't mean I'll stop playing hockey."

He's turning me into the most well-adjusted hockey mom ever.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Glee for the Ten-Year-Old Set

Why have I never heard a elementary school chorus that was good? I mean seriously, kids! Why join chorus if you're just going to stand there awkwardly "singing" in a breathy little voice? I just don't get it.

Sing out, Louise! You're ten!

And seriously? What's up with these music teachers? Do they not have any ability to teach voice at all?

Okay, admittedly, this comes from a recover(ing) Catholic school girl who was forced to join Glee Club by the nuns at school. We were assigned to Glee. No choice about it. And we practiced daily. During math class. In fact our entire grade was forced to sing four part harmonies of How Great Thou Art and Amazing Grace at mass every week.

I may have hated Sr. Winifred's yelling and berating back then. But that women taught us to sing.

She would have been appalled at the concert I attended today.

It started with the Lower School string orchestra. My daughter finally, finally, finally sits and plays with "professional" posture. She finally looks like she knows what she's doing up there.

Their orchestra has such diverse levels of talent and skill, it must be tough for the director to pull it together. But it is still a little painful to watch half of those kids plod through these elementary arrangements when I hear them playing standard orchestral pieces every Monday night at our regional orchestra.

Then the fifth grade bell choir played. They were actually pretty good. I'm impressed that the music teacher could get every single kid in the grade to play in tempo.

Then the chorus sang.

Oh, dear lord.

I really do give those kids credit for getting up there and singing in front of their school mates. But it was hard to watch and listen to them. I felt bad for them.

After three songs of awkwardness, (including Beat It with choreography...seriously) the awkward got ramped up a thousand notches.

The music teacher announced that they would paying homage to their favorite show Glee with Journey's Don't Stop Believing.

Okay, wait. Stop. Seriously? You're telling me that this group of nine to eleven-year-olds are big fans of Glee.


With the teenage pregnancy and sex story lines?

With the word "faggy" being thrown around?

With the fake pregnancy and baby selling?

With Sue Sylvester?

And you think that is appropriate?

Well, we were all treated to a Glee-ish version of the worst song ever written complete with magically appearing instrument accompaniment. (One thing I have to give to our new school....they always use lives bands. No karaoke tapes for them.)

And okay, I clapped as loud as anyone when they finished with jazz hands. I mean it takes a lot of guts to get up on stage that.

But I can't help but wonder...(What? It's Sex and the City weekend, right?)

What has Glee done to our future generation of Glee clubbers? And how far is my ten-year-old from wearing a bubble-covered mini dress to school?

Monday, May 24, 2010

He's Not Normal, He's My Kid

Last night I did something I haven't done in years. I read back over my own blog.

Man, I was in a fucked up place last year. I mean, I knew it, but I didn't really know it. I knew I was unhappy, but I thought I was dealing.

Actually, now that I say that, I guess I did deal. By writing it out. Because I am in a great place now, so I got through it all okay, and that's all that matters. Right?

Last year I was drowning in the word gifted. Gifted. Gifted. Gifted.

Blech. Blech. Blech.

As I was told, my kids were both struggling, because they were so gifted. Now, I haven't even heard the word gifted all year, and my kids are freaking happier than ever.

Here's something I haven't shared at all.

My kids have both done very well at school, in general. But they both have one subject in which they struggle. The teachers agree that it seems each kid has a bit of a blank spot in their education, probably because they have attended three different schools in three years.

But my son struggles so much with his "word attack skills" (that would be daily spelling to you and me) that they were a bit worried. I was a bit worried.

When a child does exceptionally well in most things, but struggles a lot in one thing it can signal a learning disability. Throw in his struggles in speech and his family history and there was reason for concern.

So without my having to ask, his school put together a committee to figure out what was going on with him. (Love them!) They reviewed his history. They interviewed him. They tested him. As it turns out, he scored in the 94th percentile in phonics. He has no learning disabilities. He just never learned good work attack skills because he went through three different systems and philosophies on teaching those skills these past three years.

As his teacher put it, "I was a little surprised he tested so high, but then again, he's in a class where pretty much every kid is in the 99th percentile, so..."

And that is the beauty of it all.

Now he's going to start with a tutor and we're going to nip the problem in the bud.

So, he went from being gifted and bored in school to having to get a tutor to keep up?

This is why their tuition is worth it. Believe me. I'd rather have a completely normal, hardworking kid than a gifted kid. We're all happier.

And today he finally, finally, finally graduated from speech therapy. (With the caveat that he should come back for a refresher/reevaluation if I think he needs it.) They are throwing him a party for being "our hardest worker."

The director said she'd buy me a drink. I think I deserve it.

Sometimes normal is the nicest word of all.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

On Entering My 37th Year

How did I spend my 37th birthday? I can sum it up like this: violin, piano, chores, violin, chores,violin. Basically it was like any other day.

But that's okay.

This year my husband is away at training to prepare for his deployment. My son had a violin lesson and my daughter's orchestra had a concert. So I spent my day practicing violin with the kids, driving the kids to violin, taking notes at violin lessons, and sitting through a violin concert.

But that's okay.

My kids are old enough to feel bad that nobody did anything special for my birthday. But they're too young to really make anything happen either. I kind of felt bad for them. But we were so busy today. They swear they're going to make Daddy take them shopping for me when he gets home. And they want to take me out to dinner this weekend.

And that's okay.

I suggested that the best birthday gift they could ever give me was to clean up the house. This is especially true since the parts of the house that are messy are their responsibility. It would be heaven for them to clean without my nagging. They didn't think that idea was "good enough."

That's too bad.

But my daughter gave me the best birthday gift ever! She had perfect posture during her concert. You have no idea what a big deal this is. My daughter plays the violin beautifully but always looks like she wants to fade into the woodwork. We've been working on it. Hard. Tonight she looked like a professional.

It was awesome.

I can't tell you how great they sounded either. They played Palladio (you'd know it if you heard it) and selections from West Side Story. They sounded as good as any professional orchestra I've ever heard. It makes me so happy to know that my kids' lives are being enriched in this special way.

That's awesome too.

As for traditional birthday stuff...I bought a cake. I thought it was too sweet but the kids loved it. I got flowers from my husband. And I got a card from my son's godparents. They ALWAYS send a card. I also got a super awesome new camera. My little point and shoot is great because I always have it in my purse, but it wasn't cutting it at the kids concerts, plays and sporting events. My husband bought me a Canon Rebel T1i and a couple of lenses.

It totally rocks.

My birthday is always a little bittersweet. I am always happy to turn another year older. Actually, I would say that I am proud to turn another year older. I am thirty-seven and my life is just what I want. My life is full of choice and hope and love. But my birthday often underscores to me how geographically far I am from so many of my friends and family. But today my inbox was full of birthday wishes from afar.

It was sweet.

Mostly, I took today to look around at these three people I get to share my life with. These three beautiful, happy, wonderful, talented, flawed and perfect family members of mine. And I don't see how anyone could reflect on those three sets of eyes, those three hearts and not feel like the luckiest person on Earth.

And that is my life.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Like Nails on a Chalk Board

I have been having this recurring dream where I'm on stage and expected to play this really amazing violin solo.

Except, um, I don't play the violin.

But for some reason I'm pretty sure I can fake my way through it and no one will be the wiser.

Then I play the first note and I produce a sound somewhere between cats being murdered and a whale song. Except flat. Or maybe sharp. I don't know the difference.

And then I wake up. Or at least I force myself to stop dreaming that particular nightmare.

I believe this dream has some really important meaning. I'm just not sure what it is.

In other news, my piano teacher says I'm just about ready to start teaching children and beginners. Clearly, my piano teacher is insane. Or maybe delusional. I don't know the difference.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Best Behavior!

Today I dropped my daughter off at her headmaster's house on campus.

Yes, of course, my kid befriended the headmaster's kid and she's having a birthday slumber party.

I always remind her to behave and be polite when she visits other people's houses, but this time...

This time, I have never meant it quite so much.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Bad Boys, Bad Boys

Alternately titled: A Really Long Story about being a Private School Mom

For the last few weeks, I have been volunteering at the kids' school a lot. Frankly, it is part of my plan to get out and meet some new people and make some new friends before my husband deploys. But I also, ummm, do it for the kids. Yeah. That's it.

One of the things I've been doing is walking my son's class (that's 20 boys) from his classroom to the pool locker room, turning all of their clothes inside right (underwear and sweaty socks included) once they leave the locker room for the pool, and then offering to help tie shoes and the like when they get changed back into their school clothes.

My least favorite part of this process is walking the boys all the way across campus to the aquatic center.

Before we switched to this school, people kept warning us that we might not want to. "They march their kids in silent lines through the hallways like a military school," they said.

Little did they know that just made it sound even more appealing to us, the strictest, meanest parents in the whole wide world. This is how I look at it. Teaching the children to be respectful of the hard work going on all around them is a good thing. (Imagine that.)

But, then we actually went there and we learned that, yes, the kids are expected to walk quietly in line through the hallways, but they rarely do. Or certainly they don't always do that when accompanied by someone other than their classroom teachers.

So, as I lead the boys through the lower school, at least half the time, they are chastised by a staff member for being rowdy.

After enduring this torture--I MEAN--happily volunteering every day for two weeks, I was getting a little tired of this yesterday. And the boys were getting even more rambunctious. So as we passed a gymnasium, one of the P.E. teachers called out to them, "Gentlemen! Stop swinging your bags. Walk quietly!"

She used a no nonsense, but not yelling voice.

But as soon as we rounded the corner, the boys started hitting each other with their swim bags, yelling and rough housing again.

I picked the worst culprit, stopped, and focused my no nonsense voice on him, the voice that makes my own kids tear up and run to do what they are told. "Stop it. Now. You are making me look bad to your teachers. You are being very disrespectful. Stop it now."

He and the rest of the kids stared at me for half a second (except for my own son who probably thought oh, crap! they've done it now) and continued acting exactly the same way. As I turned back to deal with this, I found that they were laughing at me.

Oh, snap. Nope. Not cool. I didn't yell. I used my same no nonsense "coach's" voice. "And if you think it is funny, you can go sit with your teacher."

This was a pretty real threat because their teacher doesn't take any crap.

Unfortunately, their regular P.E. teacher just happened by as all this went down. He's my newest fan because of an unrelated incident at carpool, so he quickly stood up for me. He took over the boys, we all walked to the locker room and as the boys got changed, the P.E. teacher and the swim coach drilled me on what happened.

Ugh. I was a tattle tale. I wasn't sure what to say so I told them the truth. But I tried to downplay it. The last thing I wanted was for the boys to get in trouble and take it out on my son!

But the teachers were having none of that. The boys got a lecture. They lost pool time. They had to apologize to me.

It was all mortifying!

I was horribly embarrassed.

After, on my way past the refectory, I ran into their teacher.

"Did you have a tough time with them today?" she asked me. "We had a rough morning."

Now I really like this teacher. She loves my son. She is incredibly supportive. I wasn't sure what to say, but I know she was headed into the refectory to eat lunch with the swim coach, so I didn't want to say nothing!

So I told her. And she told me her story. They had lost their recess that morning for acting the exact same way. She was especially disappointed with them that morning because they were acting that way with parent volunteers in the classroom. So she was not happy.

You know, I went home and thought about it. Yes, I felt awkward and horrible, but there is a lesson here. Or a couple in fact.

People are always telling me how polite, well-behaved and wonderful my kids are. I mean, they really do. Like, people go on and on. And I've always taken it with a grain of salt. I'm thankful and flattered, but how much better behaved than your average kids could they really be?

One of them pouts. One of them is irresponsible. They both have crappy handwriting.

But they are polite. And, maybe 95% of kids are not. Politeness shocks people now-a-days. It is sad but true.

At my son's last parent teacher conference, his teacher actually said to me, "In the fifteen years I have been teaching, I have never met a more polite child." When I expressed doubt (although pleased and a little embarrassed) she went on to assure me that she meant it. That she doesn't make those kinds of comments ever. That he truly had one of the best characters she had ever encountered.

She said he is the kind of role model she wants for her own kids.

Well, hell.

What do you say to that? Thank you doesn't seem to suffice.

But enough bragging. (ahem!) What I learned is that my expectations for children's behavior are all out of whack. I am just not used to dealing with children who don't say, "Yes, ma'am" and "Thank you, ma'am."

But that doesn't keep me from being disappointed in these boys. I know their parents care about them. I know their parents want them to be respectful. I know their parents are paying a crap load of money to send their kids to a school where the Honor Code and Community Commitment really do come first.

I think parents just don't know how to teach their children anymore. (Not you parents, of course! I really do think my blog friends are all really great parents.) They have no guidelines. No parenting role models. Their expectations are all out of whack too. What is acceptable behavior today is different than what was acceptable behavior even thirty years ago.

Grandparents often live far away. Parenting books are a mess. We all have the kids and we love them so much and we want them to be happy, and very proper behavior usually takes a far back seat to all of our hopes and dreams for our kids.

So, I am an anomaly. Oh, don't get me wrong. I am a massive failure at a lot of parenting. Massive! You only have to look at my kids to know I failed in one of the most important parts of parenting. But I taught them to behave and to treat each other with love, by god. And in my value system, that is the most important thing.

But I am still embarrassed.

When I picked the kids up, I apologized to my son for possibly embarrassing him. He couldn't care a less. He doesn't get embarrassed. I also told them, "I know I don't tell you this enough, but I am very proud of you and your behavior. I know it isn't always easy and I really do appreciate how polite you are."

"Don't worry, Mom," my son said. "You have nineteen apologies."

I did. When my son opened up his homework folder there were nineteen neatly written letters of apology inside.

And I cried. And cried.

Now I'm too embarrassed to ever volunteer again.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

eMatch dot Harmony

My husband wants to know what would happen if he and I put up profiles on one of the many dating sites purporting to match people based on character. Would we be matched?

I kind of doubt it. On paper, we don't really match. But it works. Pretty damn well if I do say so myself. Although, I guess our values really do match pretty well.

Now, if they asked about sexual preferences, I think we'd match up pretty quickly. And if not, I'd want to meet the girl who does.

Monday, May 03, 2010

"Let's do it for Johnny, man. Do it for Johnny!"

Part of my daughter's homework this week was to ask us about our favorite book back when we were her age. She is then supposed to read the book and we can all share in the literary goodness.

This poses more of a problem than you might think.

When I was in fifth grade, I read The Outsiders 19 times in a row. Then I read S. E. Hinton's other books (does anyone remember Rumble Fish, Tex, or That Was Then, This is Now?) Then I read Forever by Judy Bloom and learned all about sex. Which transitioned into me reading every historical romance I could get my hands on. And probably how I developed into the highly sexual creature I am today.

I do remember reading all of the Misty of Chincoteague books when I was in fourth grade (back in my innocence)(and I think it is totally cool that I live near the island now), but she read those back in second grade.

This really illustrates the vast difference in our educations. My daughter seeks out Newbery Award winning books. I read about sex and cute men, over and over and over again.

And my husband? Frankly, I don't think he had read a whole book back then.

In fact, when I couldn't think of a single appropriate answer for her, I gave her the best answer of all. "Ask Daddy."

His first guess was Lord of the Rings which I vetoed. I then suggested that he meant Lord of the Flies which I actually have sitting around somewhere. He interjected that maybe we were thinking of A Clockwork Orange and I practically choked in my rush to make sure she didn't write that down.

We settled on Lord of the Flies. But that didn't fly because they read that in class in a couple of years.

So it was back to the drawing board tonight.

Apparently we weren't the only parents who struggled because her teacher sent an e-mail out to us suggesting that we just pick one of the Newbery Award winners from the year we were 12-years-old and play along.

She even sent a link.

Do you remember what you loved to read in fifth grade? Is it indicative of the adult you've become?

I wonder, because if it is, my daughter is likely to become that crazy cat lady at the end of the block. And me and my romance novels won't be any help to her.

UPDATE: We ended up choosing Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien. She read it in one night and loved it. Now all of her friends want to read it, but I have first dibs before it goes back to the school library.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

I Smell Tuna Up in Here

Last night I finally got around to watching Julie & Julia. That's right. I'm still living right on the edge, people!

I didn't really enjoy it. In fact, I found it quite boring. (Please, don't hate me.) But it did bring back both fond and pathetic memories of my early days of blogging.

I think that my writing here has become more sporadic, not because I don't have a lot to say, but because I don't feel the need to be at the center of something anymore. I don't feel the need to be witty or deep on a regular basis. I don't still enjoy shocking people by saying what no one expects me to say. These days I'm happy to just live, and if I'm still sometimes composing blog posts in my head, well, I really should be writing a damn book.

I did have fun in those early days of blogging though. And there's some pretty decent writing buried among the narcissism and angst.

And I still feel a deep need for connection with other people. But I'm trying to overcome my shyness in real life and make some real friends. I'm getting there. There are people I like.

But more than anything right now, I am dealing with my husband's upcoming deployment and all the uncertainty it brings. And I know for a fact that writing helps me deal with all of those way or another.

Besides, he loves to read my blog while he's deployed. (If it's not blocked, that is.) I'd do it for that reason alone.

So I'll be back with some more writing here soon. And I'll be sure to start lots of sentences with conjunctions. (Don't you hate that?) And I'll be sure to throw in unnecessary parenthetical phrases as much as possible. (Don't you hate that too?)

But I won't be committing to cooking from a cookbook for 365 days in a row. Because that shit is nuts. And it doesn't make for good movies. Even if they star Amy Adams with a bad haircut.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


This morning I laughed so hard I couldn't even breathe. I was snorting and wheezing. All because my son did a slow motion fall from the backseat of my car onto the driveway.

You should have seen the look on his face. With one butt cheek balanced precariously on the car's seat, he lost his balance and couldn't save himself, but his grasping hands and backpack made his fall slow and almost graceful.

From my spot in the front seat, I was the only one who could see him, but I couldn't possibly save him. So I just watched. And he narrated.


I'm falling...



And then from his ass on the pavement, "My slowness saved me."

I don't know why I find this so hilarious. But even now I can't think about it without cracking up.

Sometimes it is the little damn things.



Crack my ass up!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hot Boy

I think, every once in a while for parents it just hits you that your kids are growing up. And I love that. I love every second of it.

This weekend we went to a violin workshop. After the play in (an informal concert where anyone who can play the chosen song just gets up and plays) my daughter asked me if I had seen the boy on the end.

"He was so hot," she said.

Now there is a sentence I've never heard her utter before. She's liked boys before, but usually boys she's known for years and who are nice to her in some way. This was the first time she had signaled one out on looks alone.

But I was a bit worried. If I recalled correctly, the boy on the end was about 17 or 18, had a shaved head, goatee and tattoos. If her taste is swinging that way, I should probably put my husband in anger management classes now.

So at the last concert I asked her to point out this "hot" boy to me.

She pointed out the most angelic, baby-faced twelve-year-old ever to grace the Earth. He was actually very cute, almost pretty. And I breathed a huge sigh of relief!

You know, I was thinking about it. She's never gotten into actors or singers before. She scoffs at all things Jonas. But she has had what one might consider "celebrity crushes" on violinists she's seen perform live.

She's actually gotten to have master classes with a couple of those violinists. For her that would be like having a singing lesson with Justin B-whatever-his-name-is. Except these guys really can play the violin.

Ultimately, I'm glad she's comfortable enough with me to share her "hot" ratings. And I'm even more grateful she doesn't share my taste in men.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Careful What You Wish For

I have a kinda-sorta secret and it is driving me nutso. I'm not good at keeping secrets. I'm just too damn honest. Besides, it is a kinda-sorta secret that my husband and I share and want to talk about sometimes. And occasionally we blurt.

In fact, my mom figured out our kinda-sorta secret by overhearing something completely innocuous that I said when she was two rooms away.

My husband is deploying again.

We've been expecting it because he is long overdue. We were just hoping that we wouldn't get just a couple of weeks notice again like we did when he went to Iraq.

So now the opposite is happening. He is going to that other desert place next September. That's the longest lead time we have ever had before a deployment. Or a move, or anything!

And it's actually made things harder, I swear.

He still has a bunch of training he needs to do this summer, so he'll be gone half of June, half of July and some of August. But he doesn't know exactly when he's leaving yet so he doesn't want to tell the kids.

Plus, three (to six) months is a long time for them to be stressed about Daddy leaving. It just feels like it is too early to tell them. So we have to be careful what we say.

I hate that. They're smart enough to figure out that something is up anyway. They've been through this four times before. They know the signs. It feels like it is against our value system to withhold information from them. We're walking a line here.

But also, my husband doesn't want to tell his mother yet. He just doesn't want to deal with her worry. I think it is...funny, or maybe weird that he is more worried about telling her than he was about telling me.

So, I can't really tell anyone. (Except the blog-o-sphere) I'm not really worried or stressed yet. But occasionally I do think Oh man! Soon I'll be doing this all alone again.

If it is even possible, I am now even more grateful for the way our life has settled this year. And that I turned down that symphony job. And that I am slowly but surely making some friends here.

Ah, sigh. My warrior is heading back to be a warrior again. Sixth grade and third grade will forever be remembered as years when Daddy was gone. And I'll start sleeping diagonally across our bed again before too long.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Unplugged Six Years In

Given how little I have been writing lately, you'd be forgiven for thinking that I just don't have anything interesting going on. You'd be right, and you'd be forgiven.

I don't know. I've actually had plenty of things going on but I find myself drawing into myself more and more lately. I'm just not feeling the need to share.

I've been simplifying my life more and more. Which has been great. But it means that I talk to less and less people. And I'm okay with that. For now.

During the first week of March, my kids were on Spring Break. I'm not sure how it happened, but my father somehow used his impending blindness to guilt me into letting my parents take my kids for the week.

So my husband and I were going to maybe take a trip or spend the week at home remodeling the bathroom. But he ended up going TDY (and not inviting me along...pout) so I spent an entire week home alone doing absolutely nothing.

It was heaven.

Okay, actually I took a couple of days to Spring clean, but I spent the rest of the week reading and watching Bones and Spartacus, Blood and Sand.

I had intended to blog every day, since I was alone and all that, but I ended up barely going online at all.

I find myself being more and more resentful of technology and its ability to keep us absolutely connected and available all the damn time.

Sometimes I worry that I'm going to be one of those old widows who lives alone in a house filled with crap and never goes outside. I can envision it too easily. I'll never wash my hair and I'll re-read the same dozen books over and over and watch handsome men on television all day long.

I'm going to have to get a boyfriend in my old age.

And on that note, I just my blog turns six-years-old. If it was a kid it would be in Kindergarten. Holy heck!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mighty Aphrodite

My kids are both obsessed with Greek mythology right now. My daughter is obsessed with the Percy Jackson books and my son just completed a really in depth and creative unit of study on ancient Greece at school.

It's almost scary how much they know.

So they like to talk about the gods. A lot.

Last night in the car they were trying to pick what god was most like each family member. After debated for a while I decided to try and make them laugh.

"Well, I think I'm most like Aphrodite!" I announced.

I got three vastly different yet simultaneous reactions.

My husband rolled his eyes at me. (He doesn't think I'm funny.)

My daughter yelled out, "No way! You're not self conscience about your looks. You don't care about appearances at all!" (I'm kind of glad she noticed.)

And my son said with much relief, "That's right! Because you're so beautiful."

Guess which one of them gets clean laundry, extra helpings of dessert and help cleaning his room.