Whoa Mama

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Cocktail party or mosh pit

Part of what I do at my paid job is organize a scholarship fundraiser. It's a swanky do with big corporate donors whose companies generously give big sponsorships and even an occasional Mr./Ms. Big signing personal checks. Everybody gets a rubber chicken dinner and we try to show them a good time. This year, the venue's overlooks Buffalo's gorgeous waterfront on a Thursday where there is also a huge free concert series. So I'm thinking 'cool! free music on the patio'. Then it occurred to me that one of the awesome things about this concert series is that over the course of the season there is something in every music genre. You get an 'up and comer', a musical equivalent of B-list actor and sometimes you get a 'once was'. With this in mind, I started hoping for Big Bad Voodoo Daddy or Peter Frampton to appeal to the fun side of my event-sponsoring suits. Lance Diamond, may he be playing the perfect set opening for Prince, would have been ideal. I started to think that things could get dicey if the band was really loud. Jackdaw, for example, might be a mood-breaker. Or with the popularity of the movie and HOF induction, an N.W.A cover band wouldn't like meld with Bobby Militello playing inside. Twisted Sister opening for Quiet Riot....oh this doesn't seem like a good idea anymore. Now I'm praying for rain.

The day arrived yesterday. The concert lineup was announced. We have Charles Bradley, an 'R&B/soul/funk singer songwriter'. YES!!

To prove that God loves Medaille and wants lots of kids to benefit from scholarships, our event is not on June 23.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

a parenting 5k in the rain with a hill

Scott is in Iowa for three months. No he isn’t getting punished. There is a whopper project that he was asked to go help get back on schedule and budget. Humblebrag be damned. This was a cool thing for which he was specifically asked and I am really proud of him (for more on what $400 million of construction looks like, you’ll have to follow him on Instagram). He’s home every other weekend and that leaves me as a solo parent for chunks of time.

This is most difficult because he is the favorite parent. Ask the boys, they’ll happily and shamelessly tell you. When I go away, it is good times all the time: video games and takeout, ice cream and staying up late. I was the stay-at-home parent, so there is no Cat’s Away Syndrome for me. Plus, I’m trying not to overemphasize his absence with things like “while Dad’s not here, (fill in the burden placed on them)”. I am still using my normal MO, which is no party. Again, ask them. They'll tell you. I inflict regular jobs around the house, enforce Draconian screen time limits, and patch the holes in their leaky memories for permission slips, book orders and behavior (as in, "I JUST said to stop touching your brother"). I grasp for some order to the chaos while not buckling to be their maid. In the words of the only parenting blogger I read, “aren’t we all just trying not to do the best we can to turn out good humans without f*cking these kids up”. I just typically have an offensive coordinator with whom I team to get the overall goals met while specializing on different elements. I can turn to Scott and say, “will you just please rotate the laundry and deal with the kitchen after dinner?” and that happens. Needless to say, there have been lots of boys matching socks for school directly out of the dryer.

So far I've found that any break in the routine, i.e. a wedding immediately after a soccer game, is when things get weird. Look closely and you'll see a Hogwarts tie on that one in the front. What you don't see or smell is the evidence of two boys having played soccer hard in the mud then changed clothes and tied real ties in the car. Or that that soccer mom was in a lovely dress at the field and the flip flops that I wore there, I forgot to take off before church.

It's much easier to just run wild. We did get for a long hike at Letchworth to get the lead out over the long weekend.

There is no need to get dramatic about this. It’s an adventure and I’ve got help. My mom and SIL have brought with meals, my parents have helped with rides and I’m remembering how to receive support that is offered. My neighbor mowed my lawn and I didn't die of embarrassment. I accepted the offer for the choir mother to drive them home on Thursday night. I did not, to the letter of the law, need that. But I got to store to get boys’ winter boots before the snow flies and pick up donations for choir reception and school fundraisers. Little things that I needed to do but were so much easier when not sandwiched between drop off and pick up.

Scott is home every other week. At 12, Sam gets the timeline and is largely ok with it. The twins at 10 are differently squishy. They've been good with each other, provided Sam remembers he’s not the fill-in parent. The twins both like a little extra love, which is super easy to give, unless it is after 8pm, because honestly there is a point every night when the premium on quiet and solitude is huge. Then I have to check myself and remember that they are 10, need an extra long hug (duh!) and that the care and feeding of their emotional well-being involves simply getting them through only a few weeks of his absence. They actually, just this minute, piled on the couch with me right now for this event:

So I'm not running some life marathon (this is more like a 5K in the rain with a hill) and by no means is mine the roughest road but man it is exhausting!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Throw Back Thursday - This Old House Edition

In the ultimate #tbt, our first home is for sale again. We bought this home from an elderly gentleman who hadn't lived in the house for some time. When he did live there, he had insulated the walls with newspaper, painted much in puce and band-aid colors and happily used stick on tiles to dress things up. There was one bathroom on the first floor of what could be a walk out first floor; wiping away the realtor speak, it was actually in a filthy basement. 

The bones of the house were good. It was the starter house to beat all starter houses. I'm lucky enough to be married to a smart, capable, motivated man who saw the potential in this house and was willing to champion the cause. It was a good thing too since I couldn't get near the joint for months, being 5 weeks pregnant as I was when we closed. 

NOT 5 weeks pregnant

World's Best Dog

OK - I'm really serious about the dog.
Rocky was the best

Scott made me a walk-in closet. He laid carpet with a knee kicker. He lashed 1/4 of an acre of over grown yard. He laid floor and hung cabinets. He and his cousin wired and his dad helped him plumb. My brother painted a spectacular mural on "the baby's" nursery.

this is how you get to the filthy basement
and just a year later I let Sam crawl up those same crazy stairs

this IS the filthy basement

Both rooms

Here we are comfy in the post Duck Dynasty era
He's sitting on the floor that I was once nervous to walk across

see the potential??
squint harder

We built a shed together (after Sam was born). I'd like to emphasize that. 

We built a shed together. 

I've said ever since then that engaged couples should skip pre-cana, marital counseling or any other formal preparation for the big event. They should build a shed together. Here's the rub. One person has to be in charge. One person has to be the helper. Project manager and assistant. It is enlightening, to put it mildly. But I digress.

We made a home. It was our first home where we brought home the world's best dog, followed by our first baby. There wasn't a corner of the house that we did not touch. It was our very own to every detail. It was also full of years of projects and potential and memories and love.

This is the kitchen with Scott well into its progress, followed by Sam making himself at home in it. The last is what it looks like now. See the exposed tile? This was the flavor of the whole house!



See the floor under Sam's feet. It started out unwalkable and rotting!

20 Blake St, Ivoryton, CT 06442
the kitchen today with the same drawer pulls that I picked out

As life happened, we moved to Buffalo and just in time for the family support since I didn't know yet, but this was fixing to happen:

Remember how things all happen for a reason....
So this week, I told my mom about the house being for sale and how the soon-to-be former owners converted Sam's awesome seascaped nursery into a bathroom. 

20 Blake St, Ivoryton, CT 06442

She said how sad it had made her, how she couldn't believe how quickly time passed since Sam was that small. In truth, I'm not sad. Sure I can feel Sam the infant with the intoxicating smell and whispering breath on my neck snuggling in that fabulous nursery. I smile at the silly toddler whose sense of humor came early and with abandon. That boy has grown up so happy, healthy, smart, strong and kind and still silly and fun like that little mopped headed boy who adored his "gee gog" (good dog). I couldn't wish for anything more. As new parents, we were full of anxiety and excitement for the unknown. Now we know, the tiny thing that changed every fiber of our being is turning out to be quite something.
While this boy melts me to smush.....

 .....give me this creature who I know is doing ok in the world all day any day.

And the rest of the critters are pretty great too. The journey has been tough, unpredictable, and at times quite harrowing. Though it is the day-by-day experiences that have brought us here and I wouldn't change this place for anything. I wish the former owners well and the future owners this much happiness.

And the house? Well the house in most pragmatic terms, was a terrific house and good investment. So here's to a Throw Back Thursday that reminds me of how I've enjoyed the bumpy journey and boundlessly grateful I am for the blessings of my little family.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

still combating the baby weight

In an effort to get rid of the last of that baby weight just in time for them to turn double digits, I'm really focusing on my food choices. Things have been going well, until yesterday when I went to a luncheon seminar. Read as: buffet from hell!

There were standard prescribed food choices which included iceberg lettuce in the sparsely vegetabled salad, an Olympic swimming pool of mashed potatoes and stuffed rubber chicken, all finished off with a flatbed of cookies. Did I mention the pasta salad, which was more like a dressing soup with noodles floating in it?

As I embarked on the journey down this nutritional pothole, I filled my plate with salad, aiming for the anemic cucumbers and pale tomatoes. With my plate 3/4 full, I was planning for some protein when I met a second stack of larger plates. Wait. What?? I had a plate already. I quickly realize that I was holding a salad plate. I held in my hands our nation's problem with our collective waistlines: a salad plate the size of a steering wheel.

"Forge on. Stay focused", I'm chanting to myself. The steamed carrots and green beans were a welcomed sight despite being odds on favored to have the same consistency as the noodles. Those got some real estate, leaving just enough space for what I learn is seafood stuffed sole. Huzzah!

There was no plate showing anymore, which means no room for those pieces peanut butter chocolate heaven. I loooove all things peanut butter and chocolate. I guess adults aren't as sensitive as children to peanut butter, which we all know cannot cross the precipice of any elementary school without certain anaphalaxis. But I digress.

Settling in at the table, I realized that I am the only one not having filled two steering wheels. I vow to eat slowly, put my fork down and drink water to avoid finishing first and going back for more, or worse, for cookies. I'm sure that the cookies would have been delish, but I'm not sure I would have felt delightful after I ate one. I only wanted one because they bookended the table. I did visit them to make sure that I didn't actually want one, and I resisted and used the trip to get coffee.

SUCCESS! I was satisfied without bad choices!!!! It was a win, since with the 2.5 hour drive on either end of the luncheon, I had no time to move with any meaning. On to a new day!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Your 24.

I, you, everybody has a shortage of time. We've all got our own details but the end result is the same. We each have 24 hours that we choose to fill. But we do get to choose.  It is easy to get caught up in life's demands and go the Steve Martin a la Parenthood route ["My whole life is 'have to'."].  I inherently disagree. Now this is not suggesting that I am practicing life with no schedules or obligations. And I categorically dismiss the More magazine midlife model of "Follow-Your-Passion-and-Everything-Will-Be-OK" bunk. I've yet to see much opportunity to pay off that relentless witch, Sallie Mae, while reading on the beach. That's not really my passion so much as my vacation anyway. There persists though this implication that because I'm over 40, I need to start wearing gauzy wraps and dismiss my entire life to follow some as-yet-to-be-identified untrod route. But I digress.

I espouse a philosophy that amounts to "Make the Most of What You've Got in the 24 Hours Granted". For me, that includes a daily practice of being in gratitude for what I have and for what I have lived through, while being my best today and consistently maintaining my health. Life ebbs and tides and with it I just try to always fold in a run, weights, walk, Pilates, etc. I am not a creature of habit so resolutions and declaration of "never again" or "always" are non-starters. That said, I'm do try to keep active; consistency is  bonus. I've started to go to the gym a couple times a week on my lunch. This is revolutionary since I usually eat at my desk. It isn't a hard core 90 minute burn but more like a 30 minute drive through. It is definitely better than more sitting. It makes me happier and quite simply I'm choosing to make more out of the winter days when hibernation is so tempting.

Here is today: I zip to the Y this afternoon and negotiate with myself that 30 minutes of a 45 minute Zumba class was ok. Despite all of the proselytizing, I really do have a 1:30 meeting that I can't stink at.

I jump into the class, my first one at the Y.  I'm used to a certain non-Y instructor. But I'm going to roll with it until I spot the bad ass teaching the class grimacing at us. And I don't like her music. I take it back. I can be a creature of habit if that means the things I like won't change. Seriously, she's got her mean face on.

The music gets better and I recognize some steps.

Then I remember what I love about Zumba. Everybody is shaking their money maker. EVERYBODY. Sure there is a beautiful people here and there but so is everybody else. There are timid women with hips going all the way north and all the way south with a visit to the west in the middle. There is some whooping and cheering. It occurs to me that the cat-calling whooper is not the instructor. It is the seriously overweight woman in the front row, having a blast! You can't help but get swept up in that kind of enthusiasm. Again remembering that Zumba is where everyone comes together. Everybody dances to their own beat. Another example, I'm directly behind a man who retired in the Carter Administration and he's not a sassy silver-maned Casanova. I'm sure he's leaving this class to head directly to Voelkers to bowl a few sets before going home to watch the game on the divan in his garage.

But everybody loves to dance, right? Well the person who really blew me away was behind me . In a wheelchair. Not temporarily. She was also not there for the first time. She was moving it! She was doing all the arm motions. And making it count while my two left feet were tripping over each other. Wow. Just wow. 

When my 30 minutes were up and I had to bounce, I wanted to tell her that I thought she was awesome. Then I remembered how I don't like when strangers try to chat with me either. So I buzzed by and said, "have a good workout", praying that what she heard was, "you make the world optimistic around you". 

Freshened up, still a little schvitzen and buoyant, I went back to my day, assured that we all get to choose how to make the best out of the 24 we've got. I'll be choosing wisely, with inspiration.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

many hands make light work

We are in the middle of a kitchen renovation. This is only plural because we all live here. Scott is doing all of the work. Except when he has a job for a boy, then they fall over each other to be the one who successfully wins the bid. This morning, Scott called out, "who wants to help?". He was snapping a line. The tacit permission to cross over the forbidden boundary brought him a team of roadies. And a few observations and questions:

-don't let that fall.
-do you need tape or glue?
-you poke a lot of holes in the walls.
-what's under there?
-can I go under there?
-I always imagine what would happen if the ceiling fell
-do you ever pull the string out all the way
  why not?
  because I've never needed to.
  but can you.?
  but why haven't you?

-what are you trying to do?
-that doesn't sound good
-do you need that screw?
  can I collect it?

- I know I cannot but if I could cut that, how hard would it me for me?

while measuring, calculating, cutting, hoisting and drilling,my husband patiently, kindly and loving answered all of these questions and took in the comments. in return, his adoring fans confirmed (as if there was ever a doubt) that he holds the trophy.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ode to the 6th Grade Band

Sitting through the Middle School Concert tonight, I was unexpectedly enveloped in nostalgia. As a former band geek, the band tugged my heart strings with fond memories. I smiled often while thinking back on the "Tour" to Cedar Point, the annual competition for first chair in piccolo and joy of hanging up the feathered coffee can hats at the end of each marching band season when I could settle into my seat as the lone bassoonist. Moreover, I was reminded how truly grateful I am for the depth of experience and enduring connections borne from making music together.

In my wistfulness, a few observations came to mind:

1. Brass players, especially trumpeters, tap with unfettered determination.
2. Dissonant pieces featuring mythical creatures hide a great deal of questionable fingering.
3. No pop song is beyond the reach of band music. I submit into evidence the LHS rendition of Only the Young and tonight's Beach Boys tune during which those cheeky bastards all popped on sunglasses.
4. Syncopation is like eyeshadow. You can follow the instructions, but you've got to grow up to really get it right.
5. Starter percussionists do go "boom chink boom chink boom chink chink", just like the elementary school band teacher used to call out to keep them on track. (name please? anyone?)
6. There is a very short menu of middle school jazz pieces to choose from.
7. All band/orchestra instructors unbutton their performance vest to be more hip when the jazz band plays. It never works.
8. The kid with long hair, the purple electric guitar, bandanna on his head and leather jacket over the requisite band t-shirt clearly doesn't like the choice of music but knows he's got to learn the fundamentals. Kudos. You'll do fine, kid. In Lackawanna, circa 1988, we had him too except it was drums and he sported the full marching band attire with a long, bitchin mullet . RIP Kevin.
9. And finally, it is my fondest hope that the 11 y.o. bassoonist is fierce and unapologetic for bucking the allure of the violin, flute and clarinet. Well, that and that she gets to play "The Blue and the Grey" someday. It really is a fabulous piece for the instrument.

I've got a lot of years of middle and high school concerts in front of me. I hope at each one I'll remember what the music is giving back to the kids as I'm treated to "In the Mood", Gershwin Medleys, Madonna as sheet music and Sleigh Ride.