Monthly Archives: February 2008

American Idol – Wow

The morning crew I listen to on the radio some days usually give a brief recap and their own opinions on the previous night’s American Idol competition. This morning they actually played a clip from David Archuleta’s performance of “Imagine”, which I hadn’t yet seen. They talked about how great it was, but I wasn’t buying it from what I was hearing – I actually cringed.

So I just finished watching the Top 10 guys sing (which really aired last night), and let me tell you – that kid (he’s only 17!) is amazing. What I heard on the radio this morning bore no resemblance to the magic I saw and heard tonight.

Check it out if you missed it.

Off to watch the women sing!

One and Done

This week is school vacation week for us. Oh, this has inspired so many thoughts, and rants!

First, why do kids have so much time off from school? I think the summer breaks started way back when so many families had farms, and needed all the kids at home to help with the work. But a “winter” break and then a scant two months later a “spring” break? C’mon!

Second, I chose not to take any vacation time this week, so I am paying for K to attend her old school (where B also attends full time) this week. She is having a blast seeing her teacher from Kindergarten, as well as other kids who have gone in separate directions since then. Tomorrow they have a field trip and she is very excited. But, this means I am paying a bloody fortune for her to be entertained so I can work. But, unless we had specific plans, I know she is much happier there than being with me, even if I worked from home all week.

The reality of this for me is that for the first time since last June, when K graduated from Kindergarten, both my kids are at the same place all day. One drop-off. One pick-up. I can’t tell you how liberating this is for me! It’s a huge time saver, for one. And yesterday afternoon the roads were horrible due to an icy, slippery storm and it was nice to be able to grab them both at once and head right home, without a second stop to get the other.

Only two more years till B is in school full time and they are back to the same location every day…..

Spending Spree

I’ve been unofficially limiting my shopping this year, inspired mostly by Chris. And doing fairly well at it too, I must say. In the past Target has been known to send me subliminal messages the whole time I’m in there (I’m not sure I’m kidding – everyone I know says the same thing!). And I have mostly avoided that since the new year by mostly staying out of Target! I have been in twice to buy birthday presents for parties one or both kids was invited to. Oh, and I did hit it on the day after Valentine’s Day to get the half price Dove Dark bagged chocolate (love that stuff!). Considering it was a twice a week stop before (for what, I can’t tell you!), this is definitely progress.

But in the last week I have spent some money. And not in Target, or in any other store. Online. I bought two sports bras online (which I really do kinda need – the ones I’m wearing are no less than 15 years old – and one of them doesn’t have much support anymore – lucky for me I am not particularly endowed). Sports bras are not cheap, man. But I guess, considering I do wear them (well, one) everyday, and I haven’t bought a new one in double digit years, it’s not so bad. Another online purchase was for this bag. Yes, it’s expensive. But this is the best price anywhere – believe me, as I’ve been searching around for months. But it does make me feel really guilty. Because I don’t “need” it. It’s a want, pure and simple. I hope I love it. I guess if I don’t I can sell it on eBay or Craigslist. Yet another purchase was yesterday, at my first ever Pampered Chef party. Where, even though I didn’t need a single thing, I felt obligated to buy something. And walked away $50 lighter….

It’s way too easy to spend money. Maybe going to cash only would be a better way to curb the spending.

Year of the Rat

Funny, how when I sat down here 2 seconds ago to post, I had a completely different topic in mind…

The 15 day period celebrating the Chinese New Year of the Rat has now concluded officially. Most years we have celebrated this in some way, usually with friends, and some years more formally with other families who also have children from China. This year we are way behind and I frankly was letting it go when two things happened:

  1. A friend whose daughter is K’s age, also adopted from China the same year, suggested we get the girls together to celebrate
  2. A co-worker, who happens to be Chinese, invited us, along with several other co-workers, out to a  Chinese meal

So the meal with my co-worker was Wednesday night. He chose a restaurant about 30 minutes from my house. It was a non-descript little place in a strip-mall. I completely gave over ordering responsibilities to him, aside from a request for shrimp for B, and rice or noodles for K.

I have become a bit of a snob about Chinese food after two trips to China. The food sold in most Chinese restaurants in this country has very little resemblance to the food served in China. I loved the food we ate in China. Oh sure, there are some items that would be considered very odd by most standards in the US, but most of it was fresh, local, flavorful and really special.  I loved it.

So being in a Chinese restaurant in a strip mall did not set my expectations very high. When we arrived we were the only patrons.  Slowly, more people started arriving. Ninety percent of them were Chinese. Ah, a good sign. And while my co-workers tastes ran to the extremely hot and spicy spectrum, the dishes were delicious. I never even looked at the menu, and I don’t know the names of the dishes he ordered. I can tell you that aside from the wonton soup he ordered for my kids, none of it bore any resemblance to what I typically order in the US.

He also gave each of my girls red envelopes, which is traditional to give to children in China for the new year. Inside each was a $5 bill!

Lunch with our friends is scheduled for tomorrow. A happy Chinese New Year to you all!

Letter to My Body

I’m participating in BlogHer’s Love Your Body initiative, which I stumbled across on Y’s site. So here you go, body:

Dear Body,

First, let me say, thank you for being there for me for all these years. While I have not always treated you with the affection or respect you deserve, you have been far better to me. You are strong and capable. You can run further and longer than most women (or men) your age, and you can lift your children when they need or want to be lifted. Pretty much anything I’ve ever asked you to do, from a purely functional standpoint, you have done, without complaint and usually with alacrity!

I’m sorry for the times, including now, when I don’t treat you the way I should. I know you deserve to be treated better. When I was younger, I honestly didn’t know any better. I didn’t see any link between how I treated you and how you responded. Young bodies can hide a lot of sins. And when you were younger you sure hid a lot of mine. I thought you always would! The amount of sugar and fat I have ingested that you have had to deal with – ohmygoodness I sure wouldn’t want to see all of that in a dumpster (since I’m sure that’s what it would take to hold it all). And now you’re less able to hide it for me, both from a visual standpoint, and from a health point of view.

Sometimes I look at you and hate parts that I see staring back at me. The thickness in the middle. The extra stuff that means I can’t get this pair of jeans on, or that this other pair looks ridiculous on me. And I blame you for that. But that’s not fair, is it? You only respond to what I put in you, either via food or exercise, don’t you? If children learn what they live, bodies surely are the same.

I have always thought you could stand to lose some pounds. Sometimes only 5 pounds, and sometimes 20 or more pounds. But I have never ever been satisfied with the size and shape of you. Yet, when I see photos of you from an earlier time I’m struck by how cute you were. But I didn’t know it then. There’s a lesson there, and I even know what it is. Love yourself, the way you are right now.

Body, I’d like this to be a love letter to you, since that’s what you deserve. I think there must be a part of me that doesn’t believe I deserve it, which is why we have such a cyclical relationship. But, if I don’t take care of you, where will I live?

Daughter of the Year

I am a sucky daughter.

My mother and I have an odd relationship. She thinks we’re close, and is always trying to force intimacy onto me that I do not feel. We have a lot of history in this arena, and I will admit that a lot of the problem at this point is probably me – I just cannot, or will not, forgive. I don’t even know what it means to “forgive”, since to me it’s too wrapped up in the “forget” that usually comes after, and that, also, I cannot do. At its root is her drinking, and for anyone who has ever been in a close relationship with someone with a drinking problem, this encompasses so much. Much more than I could ever put in one post.

She called me this morning – we have a standing Sunday morning phone date, and have for as long as I can remember. The conversation started oddly, and she quickly confessed she was very tired from not sleeping well. She even sounded a little drunk, though I don’t think she was. A week and a half ago she decided she needed to join the 21st century and bought herself a new HD TV and upgraded her cable. This from a woman who doesn’t watch much TV. But she wanted to do it, and she has the money, so who am I to say she shouldn’t? I gave a little advice when asked, most of which was aimed at trying to save her money. She said she was going to have the store set it up for her and teach her to use it.

My mother is directionally challenged. Since I was old enough to read, I’ve been the one to read and follow instructions on any new purchase. When she bought a VCR many years ago I had to re-write instructions for her in “Mom English”. As she’s gotten older, she’s gotten, well, older. More entrenched in her ways, less open to anything new. Technology is a complete bewilderment to her. And most of it she has managed to avoid, and whether genuine or defensive, she acts proud of it. (P.S. She is not that old -will be 68 this year.)

So today when she called, she presented a “proposal” – she wants to pay me to set up her TV and teach her to use it. I am extremely irritated by this, and it shows. I want her to call the store that did the set-up and tell them she still doesn’t know how to use it and to send someone back. That she has already paid for this. She did not buy it from a chain store, but a local place that should be much more open to providing this service than a big box store. And according to script, she breaks down in tears and cuts the call short, much to my relief.

Which leaves me feeling guilty, of course. Why can’t I just help my mother use her new TV? Of course I wouldn’t actually take any money for it. For her part, I feel like she is looking for attention, playing helpless. For mine, she lives two hours away and the sleeping arrangements for me and my girls are less than ideal. And I just don’t like the idea of spending that much time with her. Not to mention all the activities the girls are involved with on the weekends.


Daughter of the Year — so not.

Happy Birthday B

Happy Birthday, B. Four years old!  Wow!!

We’ve been a family for a little more than a year and a half, and this is the second birthday we’ve celebrated together. The idea of “birthday” is definitely sinking in! We started the day with presents, bought cupcakes on the way to school to share with friends there, and then went out to dinner. I brought my camera to work with me so I’d have it to take to dinner…..but, and here’s where I get Mother of the Year award…..I forgot it at work. Arrgghh!!

We ordered dessert and the waitress asked if we’d like a song. I said yes, and the look on B’s face when the hoard of servers arrived clapping and singing their birthday song was just priceless. It would have been nice to have a photo of it!!  Arrrgghh! She cocked her head coyly against her shoulder, grinning all the while. Adorable.

Tomorrow is her first birthday party – I’m so excited for her!

The VDay Reds and Blues

It’s the obligatory “HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY” post.

There you go – glad that’s out of the way.

Actually, my very favorite Valentine’s Day was my junior year of college. I had a very close circle of friends, and without planning it, we all just did really fabulous things for each other that year. Making cards and poems, cookies, leaving a surprise note. I really felt loved and special all day long. I’m smiling just thinking of that day, and those people. Sadly, I’ve lost touch with them. Hmmm, not the feeling I was going for. Anyway!

This year I actually considered sending myself flowers at work. I’ve been sent flowers at work before, and let me tell you, it’s up there on the special scale. It’s a way for all your co-workers to see that someone loves you enough to send flowers. Of course, I’m not sure this has as much impact on Valentine’s Day, since there was literally a bevy of flower delivery trucks lined up at the entrance to my building this morning. It’s too easy to get lost in the crowd on a day like this. A birthday, anniversary or other special event can pack a lot more punch. So for all you male readers out there, make a note. In the end, of course, I decided that I wasn’t willing to pay inflated VDay prices for flowers, and truth be told, I’m not much of a flower person anyway (psssst! chocolate). I just wanted to feel special. And then I think, why am I buying into the need to feel more special today than any other day? So, in the end, it was really just a regular day for me. Although I did wear a red sweater, and both my girls got a small box of chocolate and a bag of Valentine M&M’s.

Here’s hoping you feel loved and special today and everyday.

Got Books?

I haven’t mentioned my decluttering efforts in awhile. That’s mostly due to the “two steps forward, one step back” phenomenon – the increments are relatively small. Plus, as I’ve mentioned, K just turned 7 a few weeks ago, and B turns 4 on Friday, which means we are running amok in birthdays. K got a ton of stuff from friends at her party, and B’s party is this Saturday. More stuff is expected to descend up on the house. Heavy sigh.

My kitchen, which was getting into shape, has descended again into chaos. It’s the countertops – they just don’t stay clear for long.  On the plus side, we have been pretty successful with “eating what we have.” While I have definitely been spending money in grocery stores, it’s mostly along the lines of fresh fruit and vegetables, milk, bread, cheese and other things we eat frequently that don’t keep for long periods of time. So I am feeling pretty good about that!

The other day in the mail we got our regular Valpak envelope, stuffed with coupons for things I would never buy, or which don’t seem to offer any real discounts. Despite this, I always go through it, usually tossing them as soon as they’re touched. But this week there was a “coupon” for something I don’t think I’ve seen before – Got Books? Seeing as how I have been driving around with several boxes of books and videos, this really caught my eye! A quick search turned up a drop box not far from my house, so I swung by there yesterday and dropped all my books and videos in there and felt damn good about it too! Turns out this appears to be a locally operated thing, but hopefully for anyone reading this who may have their own stash of books/videos that need a new home, this will be expanding.

I also want to congratulate myself for not shopping recreationally this year at all.  I’m not sure when I’ll feel it in my credit card statements, since I’ve also purchased plane tickets for our summer trip, but I do feel good about not buying “stuff”.

How do you stop the button pushing

I am in serious need of some button protection.

You know how your kids are experts at pushing your buttons? I need something to stop that.

Tuesday again, so I helped out in K’s classroom this morning. She loves having me there, and I love doing it for her. The rush of love I feel for her when I see that smile on her face when I show up is like a drug. She is the best kid in the world. And since I was working from home to allow for the flexibility to do this, I asked her if she wanted to take the bus home instead of attending the after school program (which she loves). She decided she wanted to come home to be with me, and also to have some time to do her homework before B entered the picture later on, which always makes for a swell time.

So I was looking forward to having some uninterrupted time with my best big girl for a little bit this afternoon. And what did I get but a whining ball of brattiness. She started and abandoned both the reading and math portion of her homework, and insisted the world would end if she could not play outside (in freezing weather) with the kid across the street for the final 10 minutes we had left before needing to leave to pick up her sister. Which I finally gave in to, just to get her out of my hair for those 10 minutes.

The after school program is looking pretty good for next Tuesday.