Love in the time of Facebook.

I think it goes without saying that I don’t believe in miracles.  I think that what we have or what happens to us is one part sweat and one part who you know and one part preparation and maybe less than one part dumb luck.  You know, being in the right place at the right time or a moment of unusual bravery and/or panic that ended up being well-placed.

Do you ever have one of those days where everything goes right?  As often as everything goes horribly wrong do we even remember the good days when they happen?

I’m writing this down in hopes of having a record of my really great day so that when it happens again, I’ll be able to begin looking for a pattern.  As geeky as that sounds, I’d really like to have something to look forward to.

My mom was in town and crashed at my house for a few days.  She called it a vacation.  And, deep down, I don’t mind.  I really don’t.  I like the company and she always (and I mean always) makes herself useful.  It wasn’t always this way of course.  There were many, many times that she would come to visit and plant herself on the couch with the baby and whine to go shopping.  These days, she’s a flurry of activity.

Our morning activity was to take the littles to the chocolate factory.  Turns out, there’s a full-fledged chocolate factory less than 20 miles from my house.  A very delicious way to start the day.

Upon returning from our chocolate quest, she made lunch for herself and the littles while I went grocery shopping.  Alone.

I know.  That in itself is a win for Team Mommy.

I came home from the shopping trip to find the washing machine going and the littles busy cleaning their room before rest time.

I had decided days ago that it was high time I got myself something pretty.  I’ve been trying to get out and get social and I think (but don’t know for sure) that such activity requires more than my mom uniform of solid colored t-shirts and track shorts/pants.  It’s an investment in my self-esteem.  Or, so I say.  So we took the littles and went shopping.

Two significant things happened on this particular shopping trip.  First, the littles got nothing.  I’m good for blowing time and money on them and not on myself.  Had my mother not been there, I may have fallen into the old pattern.  And second, everything I tried on fit.  Everything.  I either have a realistic sense of my own body or the stars aligned just right.  For less than a hundred I got two shirts, a swimsuit, a dress (!) and a pair of earrings to match the dress. 

We got home from shopping and I started supper: chicken fried steak fingers, mashed potatoes and gravy and fresh sweet corn.  While I was cooking my darling mom asked if I wanted a few hours out. 

Yes.  Yes, I would.  One could maybe call this a miracle.

Made a few phone calls and made plans to meet friends out.

One friend in particular.  And this is big.

Wait for it.

I have been seeing someone.  It hasn’t been for very long (relatively) so I’m trying not to get too excited but…

I’m pretty excited.  It’s been a long, long time since I dated.  More than a decade anyway.  And dating is different in the age of Facebook and texting and itunes.  It’s also very different when it’s not under the unicorns and glitter cloud of love in your twenties with your whole life and dreams of family ahead.  I am different.  Older, for sure.  Wiser.  More than a little bit jaded.  Cautious.  A tiny bit guilty.  Somewhat selfish but in, I think, a healthy way. 

Oh, but the glitter is still there.  And the flutters and the pacing and the playlist set to “sappy” (except this time I don’t have to wait for the song to come onto the radio or for somebody to make me a mix tape).  I still had sweaty palms and, at the end of the day, I didn’t want to untangle myself from his embrace and head for home.

That much hasn’t changed.

Last night, I introduced him to several of my asshole friends (my asshole LOCAL friends) to an enthusiastic end.  And, like I knew he would, he fit right in. 

I couldn’t stop smiling.  And the feelings are, very obviously, mutual.

I don’t know how this chapter ends but, and don’t hold me to this, I think it might be a long story.

Fat Camp week 8, the manifesto

So far to go.

It’s been ringing in my ears all day.  And all night last night.

Sometimes it’s hard to talk myself down off this cliff.  Ultimately, we put ourselves there you know?  I have let one thing eat at me and bug me and rattle around in this big old head of mine.  I don’t like that it’s there but I can’t make it go away.

Words.  Innocent words.  Words not meant to hurt.  And they didn’t, not in the way that words can often hurt.  They weren’t said with malice but they did ring true.  I can’t deny their truth and that is the hurt.  Not who said it and certainly not how it was meant. 

I met someone for a concert last night.  James Taylor and son, Ben Taylor.  Sweet Baby James and his butter voice and the love child of he and Carly Simon, their son Ben.  I was three-quarters of a generation too young to rightfully be at that concert (much like when Stephen and I went to Neil Diamond when we were dating) but the music of James Taylor colored so much of the background of my childhood that I couldn’t help but feel all warm.  And Ben Taylor?  That apple didn’t fall far from the family tree.  His voice is equally smooth but very deep and sounds like you are sinking into a warm bathtub.  I wanted to put him in my pocket and take him home.  Alas.  I will just have to buy his albums.  And I will.  The crowd was weird in a “God, Mom!  You are SO embarrassing!” kind of way.  Like I said, too young to be there.  But I had fun and I am in no position to turn down a night out.

We were returning to our original meeting point and we are talking about my dad and how great he is doing.  He has lost, I think, nearly 50 pounds since September.  He is off all his meds and isn’t pre-diabetic anymore.  He and my mom eat very cleanly.  He rides his bike and does yoga.  My old man is the picture of doing it right.  But 50 pounds?  Makes me hate being a girl.  Boys lose weight easier than girls.  And he’s very good at it.  He has just never been good at keeping it off but appears to have it right this time. 

This is the conversation that followed:

It’s totally not fair that he started in September and he’s lost more than me.  I mean it’s been over a year.

“Yeah, I’ve been reading your blog and, for as hard as you’ve been working, I thought you’d be skinnier.”

Read that again.

My response was quick: Yeah.  Me too.

I don’t want anybody to think that it was thoughtless or being mean.  It was the truth.  And I know it.

Most of you don’t know me personally or, at least, don’t see me often or at all anymore.  And if you’ve seen me at all in the last 10 years, I still look pretty much the same.  I get that all the time “You haven’t changed a bit!” 

 I weigh the same, just today, that I did when I got pregnant with Ella.  My highest weight was right about the same as the day she was born. 

If it’s been since I toured, depending on the year, I am 10-30 pounds heavier than when you saw me. 

College?  I graduated 40 pounds ago.

Summer stock theatre?  Oh, summer stock.  You know what Ogunquit, Maine in 1995?  You are my goal weight, 54 pounds from this point.  I know I am, gulp, 17 years older but I’m just as strong.  And maybe stronger. 

High school graduation?  Forget about it.  Nobody gets that.  Except my mother.  My mother got that.  She went back to her 20 year class reunion within 5 pounds of high school graduation.  (and I didn’t get a lick of those genes)

So this is what’s been rattling around in my brain all day.  I have a headache, and have had a headache since midnight.  As in 22 hours.  I go between not caring what the stupid scale says and being mad at myself.

Truth is, most days, I’m somewhere in the middle.  I weigh myself every day, naked and before breakfast or a shower.  If I don’t, I have a hard time with my day and I get into some kind of denial mode that allows me to fuck off at nutrition and skipping out on the gym.  So, I weigh.  It works for me.  And, most days, I’m pretty proud of what I’ve done and how it makes me feel.

But it is there, every day.  Like the proverbial elephant in the room.  It’s just a more compact elephant than a year ago.  But still an elephant.  I feel fit.  I feel fat.  I know it’s possible to be both.

And then there are the intangibles, the things that don’t show up on a BMI chart.  I went off depression meds in April and haven’t gone back (it’s debatable some days though whether that was a good idea).  I couldn’t jog 2 minutes a year ago and now I can go nearly 30 minutes without having to walk.  I have done two 5k runs on my own.  I am strong.  I can feel it in my back, pecs, legs and arms.  My abs are even stronger but they are still buried.  But there.  And they weren’t there a year ago.  It hurt to stand for too long and now my posture is better.  I can hold a plank for more than two minutes.  A year ago, it was 20 seconds. 

And I didn’t quit.  Haven’t quit.  And I usually would have.  Boredom and frustration would have won out over patience and hard work.  But I’m still going.

But when you come right down to it, I thought I’d be skinnier too.

I still have so far to go.

Welcome to the world, Jordyn.

Meet my new niece:


That’s right.  She’s flipping us all off.  It was a tough morning, being born and all (5:29 am).  And you people have the nerve to keep changing diapers and sending in nurses to stick pokey thermometers under her arm.  No wonder she’s all “leave me the eff alone”.

I know she isn’t MY baby…but I’m still in love with every little inch of her. 

Welcome to the world, Jordyn Rose.  Welcome to the family.  (We’ll stick together ’cause those people are nuts!)

The one where I take my grandma to New Moon.

One more thing to check off my list:  family holiday at my house.

Remember that part where my mom volunteered my house for Thanksgiving?  And I chose, at that moment, not to say a word.  That is the part where my grandma gets invited.  If it hadn’t been for her, I would have chucked the whole idea.  I made a ham (as requested by my oldest little), cheesy potatoes (funeral potatoes), pan braised brussels sprouts with bacon and shallots, handmade whole wheat bread and Dutch apple pie.  I was a busy girl before noon!  Thank you America’s Test Kitchen cookbook.  You made brussels sprouts palatable and pie heavenly.

My grandma is so cute.  I took her to see New Moon this afternoon.  She’s read all the books.  She’s pushing 85.  It was, admittedly, my second time seeing the movie.  I’ll save my review for another post because I realize it’s fiction and I also realize that it was written with the fifteen year old, “True love waits” crowd in mind.  But let’s just say that I’d go to jail for a little bit of that yumminess that is Taylor Lautner.  Oh Em Gee.  Take me down to paradise city.

Er….yeah.  Cougar, much?

Starting tomorrow, I head into my Christmas show season.  Tiny Tim versus the tiny Nutcracker dancers.  I should be full of the Christmas spirit by the end of the week.  Or homicidal.  It’s all my fault.  I all but volunteered for both.  I’m such a sucker for shows that people actually want to see.  Wait.  What? 

It’s not that I don’t like doing the opera.  It pays pretty well and I get to play with big stuff but there’s something to be said for the homegrown, local favorites that people crawl all over each other to get a better seat.  And then there’s the drama of stage parents and the one stage mom of an understudy who might actually push the star down the stairs to get her kid on stage.  Have to keep an eye on that one.  Or, keep my camera handy.  I’m not sure which. 

So that’s it.  Another holiday. 

It gets easier.  Time helps.

I have to keep reminding myself of that.  This year is easier than last year was.  The littles grow a little each day.  I am proud of who they are becoming and how far we have come.

Time helps. 

Help me remember.

A confession.

Nights have been hard this week.  The littles have gone to bed with little to no complaint (maybe it’s the smell of new carpet that has addled their brains?).  There isn’t much for actual cleaning thanks to moving into a new house.  And carpet the color of pewter…shiny dirt.  My dvr hasn’t had time enough to catch my favorite re-runs so television watching is a chore. 

I pace around.  Read a little.  Text alot.  Too much probably.  I think a little.  Too much probably. 

Meals have been mostly out even though we’ve been to the grocery store no less than three times this week.  A tank of gas is gone just from exploring.  It’s been too hot to play outside and the trees are too small to shade even a squirrel much less my babies. 

School starts next week and is still full of organizational unknowns.  How am I going to get Ella up at 6:45 every morning so that she can make her 7:24 bus?  Seems like such and unGodly hour to this family.  Especially me.  Hot lunch or cold lunch?  Old backpack or new?  Will she be in class with her one friend in town or will she be all by herself?  What will Mimi do without her?

I figured it out tonight.  And it’s all Facebook’s fault.

I miss my friends.  Don’t tell them that but I do.

They are all getting together and, well…I’m not there.  And I miss my friends.

This isn’t saying that my dance card here is less than full.  I got together with girls I haven’t seen since, oh, that summer that both Mother Theresa and Princess Di died.  So it’s been a while.  And it was wonderful to get together.  There is something so satisfying about being with people who knew you before you knew yourself. 

But I miss my friends.

And my kids do too and that’s just as hard.  Or harder.

Cracked heel.

Well, I feel like a heel.  Officially.

My baby sister has done a wonderful thing.  She has gotten her master’s degree in education while teaching full time, raising my three year old nephew, running a household and driving to a town 30 miles away for class. 

Oh, and she graduated with a 4.0

She is proud of herself.  I am proud of her.  I don’t know how she did it.  She is throwing herself a party.  Today.  A big party with relatives and friends coming from all over.  When asked what she wanted for a graduation gift she answered, “Just be there.”

I had a plan that involved leaving the littles here and hitting town by myself.  That way, I could drink and cavort to my hearts content and not have to be anyone’s mother.  I would not have to concern myself with naps, snacks or bedtimes.  I would not have to referee the 4 foot and under set. 

Well, it fell through in a grand way.  I would have to take both littles (and the dog because I was just lazy enough not to call the kennel until it was too late).  And it is surface of the sun hot out added with jungle like humdity.  Ask me what I don’t want to do.  Go ahead.

So I’m not going to do it.  Make the 5 hour drive.  Drink beer in the heat.  Chase cranky, mosquito bitten children.  Boob sweat.   Not to mention the numbers of people who I don’t know who may or may not know me.  But they all know *about* me.  Nice.

And all she wanted was for me to be there.  And I couldn’t even manage to do it.

Thusly, I feel like a heel.  A cracked heel.  On an unpedicured foot with unpolished toenails.

I hate this.

Getting out of Dodge.

My (former) inlaws are here.  They arrived yesterday afternoon.  I was just about ready for them but not quite.  I’ve tried and I’ve tried and I’ve tried but I couldn’t give a shit less.

I’m trying to keep calm.  I’m trying not to flip out.  There are two things never to talk to me about.  One is money.  The other is marital issues.  Both…have come into my house.  Or rather, are camping in my driveway.

They haven’t seen the girls in seven months.  My littles are so great.  People continually come into and out of their lives and they understand it.  I love that about them.  I also like that they have the ability to make our overnight visitors feel like they are loved.  They cuddle and entertain.  They will draw a picture for you and tell you that you are beautiful.  They are grateful for a pull in the wagon or a sip of your Coke.  They will hug you when you go.  (Mostly) Forget about you while you’re gone but look forward to news that you are coming back to visit.  They will welcome you with open arms. 

I wish I could be like that.  I might make you dinner.  And…that’s about it.

I start out the visit with FIL quite civilly.  Pics of the littles.  Talk of their southern winter.  Catching everyone up on my parents and my sister.  Talking about moving.  As the night goes on (two delicious margaritas later) I want them off my couch.  I want my house back.  I want my kids to calm the eff down. 

My friend and I are leaving town in the morning, headed for MSP.  We will do a teeny little bit of shopping (although not much since I have to buy a new printer AND a new camera in the near future since they both shit the bed this week) and we will drink a little and eat.  We will go and see Jen Lancaster read from her book and get mine signed.  And I’ll try, once again, not to be a babbling asshole around her. 

And I will probably not succeed.

Illusion of bravery.

We are home.  You know, in case you wanted to break in and shampoo the carpet while I was gone.  Too late.  Kids and dog have staked their claim.

Seriously, though, I could have stayed another week.  At least.  I didn’t get to see half of the people I intended to see, most of whom I have recently found on Facebook.  Wouldn’t it be fun to have a reunion?  Oh, right.  We can meet any time of any day on the interwebz… 

I think…maybe…just maybe…it’s time to move home.  I have always said “Home is where your mother is”.  I miss my family, specifically my sister and my nephew.  It’s really great when the cousins get to really know each other.  I also miss my friends.  I have really great friends here, no doubt.  But there is something to be said for a group of people who have known you for 10, 15, 20 years or more. 

I figure I have lived five lives: before college, college, touring, roadhouse and mommy.  I can honestly say that there is not one single person who has been with me through all of my lives; all the different versions of me.  Some get really close and the ones that have stuck through are the ones that are still in Omaha.  Or came back to Omaha for the same reasons that I am giving myself to create the illusion of bravery.

That’s what it’s going to take…bravery.  Getting out of this chair, packing a truck and starting over.

I have given myself too many excuses to stay.  My friends, my church, the boys are buried here.  My doctor, the kids’ school, the Y, the waterpark.  It’s too expensive to move, too expensive to live.  My parents are crazy.  This house, while really small, is very nice which has spoiled me for housing that does not contain central air, a garage door opener, a dishwasher and brushed nickel faucets and knobs.  Okay, maybe not the knobs but I’m not sure that I can live in a midtown fixerupper.  Which would, realistically, be what I can afford.  Unless I go back to work.

So there’s that.

I could go back to work.  But that would eat into my busy schedule of swimming, stirring cookie dough and not  managing to remember send birthday cards.  (I buy them but forget to actually send them.  I suck.) 

I loved being in Omaha.  I loved working Boheme with a great bunch of guys and maybe the novelty of the brotherhood will wear off if I actually have to work with them every week.  Probably not.  I enjoy their company and their candor.  And the more than occasional off color comment.  Or three.  I loved playing Guitar Hero and drinking beer.  I loved watching the littles play with their cousin and I loved it that I could get MY cousin to see an opera only hours after he was turkey hunting.  (I love that…and am really proud of him.)  I miss my friends, the ones who have known me since I was a punk kid on her first tour with everything to prove.  And they love me now, half broken and 20 (or 30?) pounds heavier, with nothing to prove at all. 

Mentally, I am ready to go home.  Be home.  I told myself that I would know when it was time.  I’ve lived here for 9 years, soon to be 10.  That’s longer than I thought I would be here.  But I need a big dose of courage.  Because I’m scared.  Scared to make a giant mistake.  Scared to take the littles away from their home.  Scared to leave my boys here. 

Scared to make any kind of decision that may alter the course of things.

With a little help from my friends.

If you were out last Friday, you might have seen 6 moms (with 15 kids between us, soon to be 16) howling with laughter over beers and panini sandwiches.  No subject was taboo.   Think: anything that goes into or out of one’s crotch.  No poor fashion choice was safe from snark.  As the night went on, the shots came and went.  The pitchers refilled by a waitress becoming more and more surly. 

I have to say that I was in heaven.  My heaven.  I was surrounded by my bestest girl friends, drinking beer and laughing my ass off.  Literally, I believe.  My sides and abs ached for two days after and I doubt that it was the morning pool workout.  I can’t even count how many times I (almost) wet myself.  Funny thing is, I’m not sure I can say at the moment what, exactly, was so funny.  Just girls being girls I suppose. 

It’s been too long.  We all vowed to do it again, make it a regular thing.  Get the babysitters and raid the ATM.  Put on the dark jeans, low neckline shirts and eyeliner. 

I needed it.  I needed it like breathing.  I haven’t laughed like that in…years?  Yes, probably years.  Certainly before Stephen got sick and not since.  I forgot about everything for a little while except that chick with the gold stilettos or the woman who looked like Kristin on Biggest Loser, earrings and all.  If someone would have ponied up about five bucks, I would have asked for her autograph.  I probably also would have gotten the phone number of a certain Alex Karev look alike with a little more prodding but it was just as well.  Turns out his friends were thugs. 

I needed it.  Not the boozing (although that was a wonderful catalyst) but the friendship.  I needed to know that I was alive again.  That I was worth being around.  That it isn’t all about the littles all the time. 

And then Saturday came with two birthday parties (and two unfinished gift dresses).  The house looked like it had been tossed by the mob and I hope they found what they were looking for because I am down one seam ripper, a cell phone charger and an entire box of tampons.  Don’t ask.  But I was dragging ass all day and I didn’t care.  It was a different kind of tired and achey.  It wasn’t the day and it wasn’t the kids.  It was a pleasant kind of tired that only a night out at a dive bar can offer. 

We are leaving on Friday.  I have fifty-eleven things that need to be done before then and only a fraction that I actually want to do. 

What I really want to do is go out again.  I have a hard core jones for a good laugh.  The kind that lingers even when the hangover is gone. 

34 isn’t so bad.  Not with friends like mine.

Welcome Baby Olivia.

I’m an auntie!  Again!

Olivia Marie was born at 8:20pm, tonight.  She was just shy of 36 weeks but came out hollering so I guess we are related after all.  She is 6 pounds, 6 ounces and 18 inches long.  SIL was induced due to high blood pressure and made it through the whole labor, fully dialated and then couldn’t push her out after trying for quite a while.  Olivia was born by crash c-section.  This is all via my mother so I will call my brother tomorrow and get the full (real) story.  So welcome, baby Olivia, to our crazy family.

Oh, and I’m still working on her gift.  Which won’t fit for another two months or so.  Which is good because it just might take me that long to finish it. 

I am feeling better.  I went to the doctor (urgent care) because I thought my ears were going to explode.  I have, yet another, sinus infection.  I got an antibiotic and a whoop-ass decongestant.  And a nap.  Turns out, I probably didn’t need the antibiotic (and might just save myself a co-pay for next time and keep the remaining 9 days worth for next go around) but just the decongestant.  And the nap.  Never underestimate passing out with a two year old warming the small of your back.

I also have secured a babysitter for tomorrow afternoon.  I won’t believe that until I actually get to leave the house sans littles but at least there’s hope.  I don’t know exactly how I will spend my hard won 4 hours…there might be a pedicure (or a massage if I am so lucky) involved.  I know there will be mongolian grill for lunch.  Beyond that?  Does it matter? 

Maya and I are going to come to blows.  Not literally but I’m going to have to do something.  She is breaking out of her kennel.  She bangs on the door to it in the mornings to wake me up (which is better than barking I suppose) and now the plastic is cracking above where the door is secured.  And, she is still jumping all over me.  It’s worse than it was when she moved in.  I go all Cesar Milan on her and turn my back and ignore her but it just makes it worse.  I know what he would say…she needs to be walked more.  And she will be as soon as A) spring comes a little closer and/or B) she quits acting like an asshole on the leash.  Because walking her is fixing to either dump me on the ice or take my arm out of its socket.  She’s better on the harness but, alas, I left it on her (black harness on black dog) and kenneled her for the night.  It must not have been comfortable to lay down with it on because by dawn’s early light, she had it chewed to bits.  My bad.  I have yet to replace it.

Still not sure if she was a good idea or not.