Passages

It has been quite a month.

I went to San Francisco and went to a conference with smart people and I missed my husband without whom the city we love is not the same.  And Mattie came to visit.  And she scratched the love out of us – demanding our full devotion and the warmth of our bodies.  And then shortly after she died.  And I was miserable.  Quiet moments stabbing me into crying.  And I still had to work a lot.  And then Easter and the kids wore stripes and giggles and my tears agreed to wait.  And then Polly.  And spring was too early and the flowers were everywhere.  The tulips made Ian sneeze and his eyes sting and he didn’t get mad at me – didn’t even think of it.  And I still had to work a lot.  And I turned 38 by the glow of my computer screen.  And Annie got her hair cut and found a time machine and frolicked just a bit.  And today I am finding balance and things are going to be changing and getting better and harder.  And always there will be the memory of little Mattie sleeping on my head, trying to get close enough to suck out all the marrow of all my love.  And I would give it to her a million times over.  I miss you little pup and will never forget.

26 Days of Family Fun (Day 2)!

Last weekend we hosted two of the kids’ friends for a sleepover and a comedy magic show. 

Here are my insights:

1.  I hope friends are a reflection of the type of person we are.  Because my friends are way awesome – awesomer than me.  And it was great to see that the kids have awesome friends too. 

SS’s friend was just about the coolest kid in the history of 10 yr olds.  He knew Kings of Leon and has a burgeoning sardonic humor and a funky fresh haircut.  And he appreciates knowledge – which is good, cuz SS has some.

And don’t even get me started on SD’s friend.  She was off the hook.  Very bookish, very friendly, very funny – and had pockets full of contraband Jose Pepper peppermints.

2. I don’t get boys.  I don’t understand the overt competition.  Or why they are so grabby of each others’ possessions.  And why they don’t like to talk about who has a crush on who.  And all the loud noises.  Being married has inoculated me from the fact that the male gender completely frickin’ eludes me.  DH is a beautiful anachronistic match for me.  But the complete puzzlement I felt while observing SS and his friend reminded me why I completely gave up trying to comprehend straight men fairly early in life, resulting in – 1. Most of my male friends in life have been gay and 2. I spent part of my early 20s dating women even though I am not really attracted to women romantically (again, sorry those women).

I am being extra nice to DH since this – as I have been reminded that I probably need to hold onto the one member of the male gender who is straight and I can relate to. 

3. My SD has SIX boys who have a crush on her – 6!!!!!!!  She can understand boys (she has a twin brother, after all), and so girl talk is not exactly her thing.  But in the long car rides this weekend to and fro Liberty, Prairie Village, and Olathe, her friend shared with me that there are many, many boys who have a crush on SD, including one who has had a crush on her for 4 years!!!!!!!!!

This is interesting to me because in my entire school career (k through college), there were exactly 1 boys who had a crush on me.  And he was a literal psychopath (long-time readers of this blog will remember he is the first boy I kissed (5th grade) and now is prison for murder via decapitation – happy story).  I dated, but I worked for that – strategic campaigns that required military-level planning and precision.  And by the 5th grade SD has SIX boys with a crush on her.  And she is like, “whatevs” – she really seems like she couldn’t care less.  Bless her.  It just isn’t that interesting to her.  I think she feels badly for them because their crushes are unrequited and that they get nervous around her, but that it really isn’t her problem. 

One of the reasons boys didn’t like me was because I was big and had weird hair.  SD definitely does not have those problems – she is so pretty and graceful and has straight, non-weird hair.  The other reason boys didn’t (don’t?) like me is because I have this crazy big not shutty up personality.  And that is boy antidote. 

I don’t want SD to have a personality as over-the-top as mine, but I don’t want her to be seen as a quiet vessel by boys – in which their personalities can take over and allow them to NOT SHUT UP.  I wish for her enough boldness in her that the weak boys are scared off, and the awesome boys are intrigued.  And for her to not be interested in any of it until she is 29.

26 Days of Family Fun! (Day 1)

We had so much fun with the 12 days of Christmas, that I have decided to extend it to 26 days of family fun in 2012.  I was tempted to add in more days, but 26 seems realistic.  Something about the formality of it being a family fun day makes me step up the planning and the family step up the enjoyment.  The first day was Belgian Day.  We went to First Watch and the kids had Belgian Waffles.  And then we went to see The Adventures of Tintin in 3D, which was really great.  I love movies, yes I do.

Next up, in two weeks, is the Comedy Magic show – we are taking the kids and two of their friends – wish us luck!

12 Days of Christmas – Day 9!

Day 9 was when I wasn’t available for the whole activity – so it was geared more towards DH and the kids.  The activity was a Dr. Who Christmas Marathon.  All of them are gaga for the Dr., and so the plan was to watch all of the Christmas specials since they started with the “new” doctors.  Because we had only an evening for this, they didn’t get through many.  I am hoping next year we will have a whole day to take to do this – I think they would love it… and I love tv viewing marathons, although I would prefer Gilmore Girls.

Four 2011 Christmas Memories

1. My sweet Annie running around with a purple bow on her head, being as earnest as ever, not realizing the indignity.

2. The living room full of laughter and wrapping paper.

3. The kids coloring with new coloring books after everybody had left.  I love how they still look like little kids in this picture.  After taking this picture, I thought this may be one of the last times they look like little kids.

4. The kids organized a scavenger hunt for me on Christmas eve to find a couple of my presents.  They drew pictures and wrote the most awesome clues and had me going from place to place in the house.  It was so fun – and I got a P.F. Chang’s gift card (Ma Po Tofu, here I come!) and a book about mini-pigs.  🙂 🙂

12 Days of Christmas – Day 8

We only had the kids for a bit on Christmas morning, so we had them open their presents the night before and just did stockings – which was activity #8.  We were all pretty sleepy – but stockings are my absolute favoritest part of Christmas, so I had fun.  Here are the kids with their stockings looking crazy grown up:

12 Days of Christmas – Day 6

Day 6 was one of my absolute favoritest days… the activity was to “Make a Zoo and See a Zoo”.  Our friend M came over and we made the cutest snowglobes out of jars and glitter and plastic animals and trees.  And then we went and saw “We Bought a Zoo”.  As a fan of Matt Damon and animals, I liked this movie very much.

2011 Year in Review – The Memories

Here are my most memorable moments from 2011 (in no particular order):

* Being petrified of some new responsibilities at work.

* Long dinners with friends at various restaurants across the city – laughing until crying, the fantastic hugs at the end – feeling connected with a family I created.

* The horrible awkwardness of delivering a bad performance review.

* Crying outside the DeYoung in San Francisco, calling my mom at work so she could talk me through how to tell DH and the kids that I feel like I don’t fit in with the family.

* Subsequent conversation with kids, trying to explain why I felt I didn’t fit in with the family sometimes.

* Finding new muscles in my shoulder blades that I didn’t know I had (thanks to Mandy)

* Getting styled up with some new clothes and jewelry – choosing to look great even though I was fat.

* Behind-the-scenes tour of Monterey Bay Aquarium.

* Seeing all the cool things grown in California on the drive to Monterey Bay Aquarium – strawberries, brussel sprouts, kale.

* When DH found his wedding ring after it had been missing for months.

* SD’s straight As!

* Conquering JewelQuest on my iPad.

* Hours talking in therapy.

* Deciding I could still love myself, even if I was fat.

* The adorable measuring cup sets I got for Christmas.

* Weekends spent writing papers for school, trying not to be bitter about it.

* My beautiful winter coat that I wore once before it was stolen.  And the replacement which is even more beautiful.

* Putting quarters in the parking meter at the med school.

* Painting SS’s room in the unairconditioned late summer heat.

* The joy of beautiful new rooms for the kids.

* Discovering what a great writer SS is.

* Getting iPhones

* Dinners at Cafe des Amis with DH

* The first time the kids saw (and touched) the Pacific Ocean

* Loooooooooooooooong stretches of Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, Colorado seen from the car window

* Camp Ginger

* Everybody at my mom & dad’s for Thanksgiving, being awesome

* Eating dairy regularly for the first time in a long time

* Superfun business trip to Los Angeles

* Superwretched business trip to North Carolina

* Harry Potter – the books and the movies

* The skytram in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and the delightful coldness at the top.

* Watching episodes of Modern Family over and over and over again with DH and the kids – debating who we loved the best and the funniest line.  For me, it is Cameron and “I would have blown the money on flowers anyway, so they saved me a step.”

* Endlessly quoting Modern Family to each other – “What’s the plan, Bill” “Ta-da!” “Do you, <insert name>, do you?” “dig-a-dig-a-dig-a” “Welcome to your nightmare, ha ha ha ha ha.” “Go Bullfrogs!” “Slow Down Your Neighbors”

* Watching all of the episodes of iCarly and developing a crush on Spencer.

* Missing having time/energy to craft

* Needing to take a moment to remember exactly how old I was – 37

* The vacation home we rented – with the gigantic windows and the dining room table where we worked on the Yellowstone puzzle and the renderings of pregnant, nekkid women everywhere.

* SS’s snowglobe collection

* SD’s butterfly collection

* My cousin’s wedding

* Spending a night in the hospital with DH.

2011 Year in Review – Unintended Achievements

My accomplishments in 2011 are paltry.  At least on paper (or on screen).  I am more in debt and weigh more than I did 365 days ago.  I only read 17 books.  And it appears I still beat myself up.  Or do I?

Because I *could* look at this year differently.  Instead of recounting the failures that are my constant companion, I can look at the things I did well.  Well, wouldn’t that be cool?   The last six months in therapy have taught me many things – and started a journey that will lead me not to “success” but to happiness.

In the spirit of choosing to recognize all that I am, rather than a handful of failures, here is what I did accomplish this year:  (If you abhor bragging, do not read on.)

1. Kicked butt at work – continuing my 13-year streak.
2. Completed three graduate courses and got As in each one – 7 hours closer to an M.S. in Bioinformatics.
3. Became closer to my stepkids.  One of the saddest parts of being a stepmom early on was the fact that my coming home was minimally acknowledged.  Now it is de rigeur for the kids to come clammering down the stairs, literally cheering that I am home.  And I am often rewarded with the title “Best Stepmom in the World”.  I’ll take it.  Those kids feel like my blood now.  It was one of the biggest challenges in my life.  But we found our ways to each other.
4. Became closer to my husband.  This year had highs and lows, for sure.  Just when we got good at the every day marriage challenges – not enough money, crazy mismatched work schedules, things randomly breaking in the house, and kids who require food and attention and to be driven back and forth 45 minutes 2-3 times a week – the universe handed us some crappy health issues and all the detritus that gets churned up when one (me) starts therapy.  After the big and little bumps, I end this year even more in love with DH.  We have been there for each other in ways that I didn’t imagine on the day we got married. I know the challenges aren’t over – my guess is they aren’t ever.  But I do know when I am terrified and crying in the middle of the night, I just have to reach over and DH will be there.  And I know that being happy is even greater when one’s companion is holding your hand.  Every year, every day I understand more how precious this marriage thing is – because it is a lifetime shared always.
5. Took the big step of getting into therapy so that I can take care of myself because I love myself.

That is a pretty darn good list – and not any of them were on my “resolutions” for the year.

12 Days of Christmas – Day 3

 

Day 3 was seeing Hugo and sneakin in candy canes.  It really was a great movie – and had a wonderfully happy ending.   I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have, because I had a paper to finish waiting for me…. but now I am DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONE until January 12.  Yay frickin ay!!  I feel so light now that is done.  I like school, but being out for a while is a super duper break.  I hope it doesn’t fly by, but of course it probably will.