Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Day of Tears, Cookies, and Spiky Balls

Today started in a bad way. Everyone got out the door as intended and I then started to plan my day. At some point heading out to do my errands my mood darkened. As Judy Moody would put it, " I was in a mood, not a good mood but a BAD mood." Instead of thoughts of Christmas carols, gift giving, laughing with friends, my thoughts turned to moving. Moving involves phone calls, cleaning, mortgages, emails, coordination of events, inspections, and paper work. I could feel the happiness in my heart deflating.

I returned home and tried to shake it off. After all I had things to do. I started to wrap presents. I also started to cry. I put on one of my favorite Christmas CD's to cheer myself up. I cried harder. Eventually I called a friend who was able to talk me through it. The conversation started in upset and ended in laughter. Now that I gotten over that hump I had other things to do. The girls had a half day and we had cookies to bake!

I like to cook and I like to bake. At Christmas I have several types of cookies I try to make. One of these cookies are my Mother's Butter Cookies. Making these cookies are a tradition. When I was young I would help my mom make them. When I got older my sister and I would make them. I have many happy memories of rolling out dough and icing cookies with my sister. As time went on before I had kids, I would even make the cookies on my own. They quickly became a favorite of my husband. One year he even tricked me into doubling the recipe, I was rolling out cookies for hours! (He has not lived that down)

Now I have children and they "help" with making the cookies. In past years I have sometimes planned to bake the cookies later in the afternoon, I often found a glass of wine for mom made the process of rolling out cookies with young children go smoother. Now my children are old enough and interested enough to roll the dough themselves. They can work together to choose cookies cutter and take turns. Ahhhhhh so nice.

Of course they get tired of it about halfway through the dough, and the elder daughter was in a pre-teen mood at first and played with flour more than anything else. AND there is the small matter of giving the younger daughter advice about rolling the dough without making her cry and the older daughter choosing to ONLY or at least MOSTLY make the small snowman. She says it is because it is her favorite with his skinny neck. I say she likes him and his skinny neck because when we ice them his head will "fall" off and she gets to eat the cookie. (It is tradition and a family joke to eat the "broken" cookies as we ice them) I can guarantee my husband will walk in the door tonight, look at the cookies we made, point to one and say, "Oh to bad that one is broken." and pop it in his mouth.

So, tears and wrapping. done, cookies. done, on to the last of the holiday shopping. The girls and I head out to get something for their father. They have their heart set on getting him earrings. After I convince them that "Claire's" would NOT be the best place to find earrings for their father we end up at Kohl's. I figure if we strike out on earrings they will have SOMETHING. It also keeps me AWAY from the mall and the other more harried shopping areas.

In we go and look around at the jewelry and earrings. The girls get very excited when they see earrings they like. They are actually like ones that my younger daughter has already. "LOOK mom they have the spiky balls!" one says. Then the other, "Dad would LOVE these spiky balls!" "I think he would like these colors they agree." and then the older one says,"ohhh! dangly spiky balls - dad would like those!"

I am standing no more than a foot away. I am not sure how to respond. Their statements are full of innocence and sincerity, and I do not want to dampen their enthusiasm. BUT, I do gently steer them toward another rack. "Oh, look at these small starfish." I say, and "I like these small sparkly ones with birthstones." The younger was won over by my suggestions. They elder stuck to her guns. We made our purchase and went to the car. In the car the accolades about their choices goes on, "He will really like these dangly spiky balls." etc. It is that point that I start to laugh. I laugh so hard that tears come and I start to cry. And so that was my day, it started and ended with tears. At least it ended with the right kind of tears.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The More things Change, The More they stay the same

I have a 12 year old daughter. As many of you know, 12 year old girls can be wonderful, and sometimes, not so wonderful. The other night I was reminded about how no matter what her age, how she is still my same little girl.

My little girl has asthma. She can cough a LOT when she is having a bad spell. It is often the worst at night. She is old enough now to take her own medicine. She is also old enough now to fight with me about taking her medicine. She is just the right age to "forget" to take her medicine, and still complain about how her cough is soooo bad. It is a constant battle. I did make one decision though. If Jack is traveling and she is having a asthma cough at night she can come into bed with me. I know, I know, this is not good, but she sleeps better when you are there. It has been that way since she was a baby.

It is selfish of me but I remember when she was a baby. She would get a cold and when the cold turned into a cough, she could not sleep. I used to think if I could prop her up she would not cough so much. (not possible - pillows in the crib?, she might not cough but she could also suffocate herself) I also got her to sleep in her car carrier (that did not stop the coughing and just frustrated he when she got old enough to want to roll over). So I gave up and would hold her in the recliner. It was the ONLY way we would get sleep. She would snuggle up on my chest and we would sleep. Any attempt to place her in the crib would create coughing.

As she got older I would snuggle up in bed with her to help her stop coughing. Before we knew it was asthma I spent many a sleepless night with her. We would lay quietly and I would tell her stories I made up, I would try to distract her, I would count quietly in between the coughs and tell myself if I got to 30 between them we would getting better. My presence often soothed her and she would fall asleep. As soon as I crawled back into my bed, the coughing would start again. I would say to my husband she had some sort of physical sense, if we were not touching her her mind and body would kick into cough mode.

Once we figured out it was asthma, we had an asthma plan. If we followed the plan things would often be fine. To that end, if you do not follow the plan you end up in trouble. When Jack is away I do not have time to deal with it. She can come to bed with me. She falls asleep and stays asleep.(Thankfully she does not need to be on my chest) Just like when she was younger though she gets RIGHT next to me. If I move, she moves with me. If I shove her over (she can be a solid sleeper) she moves back. The other night I thought, what will happen when she is in college? should I get her a body pillow? I know she will figure it out for herself. One thing is for sure. Whoever she ends up with as a partner better be ready to stay close!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Comfort Food

Tonight I ate a big plate of french fries. I had gone out to lunch with a friend (company good, food so so), and I had not been hungry for dinner. My husband fed himself and the girls. Naturally around 9 PM I was hungry, so why not go for a large plate french fries! Typically I crave sweets but tonight I wanted salty and filling.

French Fries hold a special place in my heart (and stomach) for comfort. There are several foods I hold dear. Chocolate of course, pizza (which I craved like crazy while pregnant), cake, ice cream, and of course french fries.

My fondest memories of french fries come from college. I lived my years at the University of Delaware on "West Campus", and as such used Rodney Dining Hall for a food source. Alas, I cannot speak well of Rodney Dining Hall food overall. It was, after all a dining hall. I cannot say I ever loved it. The tale of my brief work experience in the bowels of this establishment will also have to wait for another day.

BUT, at night, the lower level of Rodney Dining Hall (The Snack Bar) was open for service. It was not the swipe your card and get the typical swill. The food was made to order, fresh! There was a limited menu but everything was CHEAP. I was a freshman and stretching the dollar was important to me. My constant dilemma was spend 75 cents on french fries? or the $1.50 for the milkshake? or really splurge and get both? (it was college, I wasn't the most healthy eater) The plate of fries was always piled high, steaming, crispy on the outside and soft potato goodness on the inside. The milkshake was made right there and I often ordered mint chocolate chip. You got ice cream and at the end you could use a spoon to scoop out the flat, square, dark chocolate bits from the bottom of the cup.

I enjoyed eating the food there. I enjoyed the walk in the cold to get there. I loved the warmth once you stepped inside, and the anticipation of my choice of order. I also looked forward to the conversation to be had with a friend while there.

You see, that was the second part of the comfort in this comfort food. You did not go the snack bar alone, the fries gave me a reason to seek our friends to join me. I got food with a side of laughter. I seek this combination out even now in Knoxville. This week I went to lunch with a new friend. I also picked up the phone and called another woman I met here and we are going to lunch next week. This woman got to Knoxville (via Seattle) about the same time I did with the same circumstances as me. (new job) She has some added challenges of older children and her mother who had to move with her. (would you want to move when you were 80?) I like this woman. I don't know where we are going for lunch, but I do know that even though I will be leaving soon, I am hoping to give her a big plate of french fries with a side of laughter.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ode to a Turkey

I hosted my first Thanksgiving this year. I had avoided hosting Thanksgiving for many years. My husband commented, he thought it was odd, since I loved to cook so much that I would not want to be in charge of Thanksgiving. I find the coordination of Thanksgiving, intimidating I told him. There is something I find more intimidating (and annoying) than coordinating Thanksgiving dinner, and that is TRAVELING over Thanksgiving weekend.

So for more selfish reasons than I like to admit, I hosted Thanksgiving here in Tennessee. I knew my kitchen would be big enough, I knew the house would be big enough to fit everyone, and I would not have to go anywhere. They only thing that still scared me was, the turkey. I know, why am I scared of a bird? I had cooked them before but I never felt they came out just right. I can handle side dishes, pies, appetizers, and drinks. That turkey continued to spook me, Would it take to long to cook?, Would it be brown and crispy outside?, Would it be moist and delicious inside? Who would carve it? (This duty was previously done by my old neighbor, who was a PRO) I gave up. I figured I had enough to worry about and I ordered a cooked turkey from a local grocery store.

Now this is where the story gets a little crazy. I go to pick up the turkey with my mother in law. This does not bother me, for I love my mother in law, I am blessed to have someone kind, funny, and caring as a mother in law. She and I trundle off to the grocery store. I am not sure what I am expecting, I think my problem began with my image of the turkey. I expected this gorgeous bird in a pan, something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. I did not get that.

We wait, my mother in law and I, while the nice young man goes to retrieve my turkey. We chat with the woman also waiting for her turkey. (she looked at me and smiled, you KNOW I was going to talk to her) The young man returns and hands me a cold, wrapped up turkey that looks like it is raw. "Your sure it's cooked?", I ask. "Yes," he assures me. "It even says so on the wrapper." I look at the turkey and think to myself, "WHAT HAVE I DONE!" I am a little scared, I have risked the Thanksgiving turkey and may have lost. I think of the small turkey breast I have cooking in my crock pot. (Yes, I made extra turkey, I am my mother's daughter) Although tasty to be sure, it will never feed everyone. I am not sure what my mother in law is thinking, but as I mentioned she is kind and caring so she smiles with support at me and suggests we go get the roasting pan we will need.

We return home and all is well. The cousins are playing people are relaxing. I get my stuffing ready. When the time comes I place the "turkey" in the oven to reheat. In the end, I am rewarded, and VERY thankful. The turkey comes out moist and delicious, my mother in law is able to doctor the gravy so it is quite good, my stuffing is tasty, and we all eat ourselves fairly silly.

I am Thankful for many things, my family, my married into family, my health, and one other thing. I am Thankful to have learned my lesson about turkey. It is better to cook your own with the love of family than have one handed to you. Working for it is part of the fun.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Face to Face

Do you know the saying, "You never know how much you loved something until it is gone?" That was my saying a few weekends ago. I was in Chicago visiting with my husband. We were supposed to get "familiar" with the area. We got to see neighborhoods and houses. We went out to eat. We saw many great things: parks, downtowns, libraries, and a river walk. After our driving tours, bus tours, and realtor tours, we discussed our opinions. Honestly my feelings were not all that positive. I was struggling with the sprawl, the cold, the dreariness, and the TINY houses. We talked. Jack went for run to clear his head and relieve some stress.

I sat in the hotel room and cried a little. (I also has some wine, and texted people)
Since that time I tried to figure out why I was so upset. What was it? The change? The unknown? I mean seriously, we saw a lot of nice things. It will be a fine place to live. What I realized was, I really do like it here in Tennessee. I know I don't like everything but I do like it a lot. I like my hot tub, I like being so close to shopping, gymnastics, and karate. I like knowing how to get around, how easy it is to get around to places - Then it hit me. Tennessee for all it's differences is more ALIKE to Delaware then it is different. Moving here was a BIG thing but my adaptation overall turned out to be very small. I feel so comfortable here because it is so much like my "home" in Delaware.

So there it was face to face, Chicago is NOT like Delaware, or Tennessee. It is it's own style, arrangement, and size. Moving there will mean more change and more adaptation. It scares me. It makes me not like it as much. That is why I sat in the hotel and teared up. I will have to say good bye to what I am comfortable with, for REAL this time. I will do it. I may even have some fun doing it. I know myself, and if I am honest I will admit, I will do with a smile, and just a few tears.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Survivor - Outwit, Outlast, Outplay

One cold weekend in November will forever be known as my "Survivor" weekend. My husband and I traveled to Chicago to visit. His company has sent us in an attempt to get "familiar" with the area they want to move the company headquarters. Chicago suburbs were as Chicago area is often this time of year, cold and dreary. My husband kept saying, "They want me to be delighted about this move. I am waiting to be delighted." The brief visit did not necessarily bring us joy but more questions and concerns.

Along with us on this trip were fellow co - workers from Sun Coke Energy. They became our tribe on this trip. You see, at the end of the trip we were truly a Survivor tribe. We had been dropped into a crazy and wild area of Chicago known as "Chicago O'Hare Airport". Our goal was to make it home to Knoxville.

Many challenges were placed in our way, but we were lucky. Our tribe remained unified and determined to win the prize. Unfortunately the prize was not a million dollars (probably the amount of money to keep me happy in Chicago), it was to get HOME. Our tribe was strong and varied. We had young, all the way down to 17 months, and more experienced travellers. Our wile, determination, and support of each other allowed us to overcome our obstacles. These obstacles included: no outlets to charge phones, airport food, exhaustion, cancelled flights, illness, and delayed flights. The tribe held together, it watched bags, talked, protected seats, and shared magazines. There was no back stabbing or secret deals.

In the end our tribe was able to leave the most annoying member of the tribe and return home. That member being of course the "Chicago O'Hare Airport" itself. You see, as the day and night continued on, it seemed as though the airport was not only the lost area our tribe had been placed, but also a stealth competitor determined to do it's best to thwart our progress. Eventually though, we boarded our plane and flew away. The tribe was able to vote and snuff out the lantern of "Chicago O'Hare" airport and return to Knoxville. The tribe had spoken.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cell Phone Hugs

Recently we got my eldest daughter a cell phone. It was not something we did lightly and it WAS something we had put off. "She wasn't old enough.", we said. "Who is she gonna call or text?, none of her friends have cell phones.", we said. "It is to much money.",we said.

Then we moved. A cell phone allowed her to call and text her friends in Delaware that did have them, or would soon get them. The bill did not get THAT much bigger. (It went up mostly due to my new data package) She got the phone because I felt better knowing she had it on those days I would not be home when she arrived after school. It made me feel safer.

Now I must say that I really like the cell phone. I laughed with my daughter when I got the bill this month. She and I had sent in the realm of 800 texts! Naturally we had only called people on the phone for about an hour. I am shocked at how little I talk on my phone.

I think a great deal of my texting goes to and from my daughter. She texts me when she gets on the bus in the morning. She will tell me her friend is not on the bus. She will ask a question. She texts me when she gets on the bus in the afternoon. Practically everyday I get "Im on da bus". She also asks questions about what we have to do that evening or if I will be home or taking her sister somewhere.

I think the most important thing the cell phone did for my daughter this past weekend was give her a security blanket. My eldest daughter is not always the bravest away from home. She has been known to get homesick even when away with close friends. This weekend she went away for a Karate Camp. It was 4 hours away with kids she did not know THATwell. I kept my cell phone near by all weekend long. I even slept with it by my bed. (very unusual) She would text silly things to me. I knew things were hard when she would text, "I miss you :(" At those times I could try to distract her or steer her toward an activity. It was a lifeline for the both of us. She could miss me and talk to me without being embarrassed. It was not as good as a hug, but I was glad it was what we had.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

I am becoming my mother

I love my mother. She has many wonderful qualities. I have noted before in my musings how I am sometimes known as "Little Joyce" or "Mini Joyce". When I turn to my husband and say, "I am becoming my mother." He always responds,"It's a good thing I love your mother."

This particular story is not so much about the characteristics I may share with my mother. It is a story of how I am now a mom and how my daughters interact with me. I have some distinct memories of talking to my mom. (It always comes back to talking with me) My poor mother would come home from work and have to start dinner. When I was in middle school and high school, she would walk in the door and I would POUNCE!I would follow her about the kitchen as she prepped and prepared our food. (I never really helped) I would start telling her about my day, "well, in period one I did this and this," and "in period two we learned this and that". Of course there was also some personal drama I had to share. At times during this process, I would have to duke it out with my sister for "talk time". We would accuse the other of not being patient or say,"I was here first, I get to talk to her first." I am not sure how my mother survived.

Now time has marched on and I am the mother. I picked up my elder daughter at school. She hopped in the van and it started "Mom, today in Focus Thirty I did this." She goes on to tell me what project she completed in each class. I get a blow by blow on who did or said something funny. She chatters on as we exit the car and enter the house. That is when it hits me, she does this EVERY day, whether we are in the car or the kitchen. She comes home and starts to go through her day, she processes through talking.(Just Like ME!)While I am pleased to see we have a characteristic in common, I also stop in my tracks and think - I have become my mother! Which is ok, because just like my husband, I love my mother.

Friday, November 5, 2010

My Pity Party

You are all invited to my Pity Party.

When: As soon as possible
Where: Knoxville, TN
Time: Did I not say- as soon as possible?
Dress Code: Dress for comfort and with the ability to get down and dirty to help clean
RSVP: Fab IggyZ

There will be plenty of food. Pizza, chocolate, open cartons of ice cream, and of course beer and wine. The house will be a disaster and you must take a condiment from the fridge or can from the pantry as a parting gift.

I have been feeling more stress this week than usual. Hence my nose dive into full scale pity party mode. It is finally getting colder here and I pulled out the pity and wrapped myself up in it like a warm coat. The waves of strength and resolve have pulled back out to sea and the nights of bad sleep pondering what I have to do and how to do it return.

Now, I don't want anyone to worry, sometimes in writing a blog it helps to "enhance" things to make it more interesting, but it does seem November and December are getting busier and I am floundering to find my way in this new environment and situation. When it starts to get bad, I plan my pity party. I think about who I could invite. All my new friends here, my family, and all my friends back in Delaware. This often makes things worse, I get sad and miss them. Fortunately, I have a new photo in my kitchen that helps me. When I "declutter" and "stage", I will need to move it. Right now though, I just can't. You see, I am in the picture with my friends and we are all laughing. When I pull out the pity cloak and plan the pity party my friends look at me and laugh. They laugh with me, and cheer me up. Their laughter also gives me a reality check. It reminds me that I don't need a pity party. I just need them and all the other people who care about me to get through this.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Trouble with Tai Chi

One thing I was looking forward to when I stopped working was getting back to my Tai Chi. I had purchased a DVD and done some at home and really found it helped with my stress. The children would sometimes ask, "Mom did you do your Tai Chi today?" if I got grumpy with them. I was ready when me moved here to relish all my free time in my new house and add Tai Chi back into my fitness routine. Of course that was before we found out we had to move, again.

So the free time I had will now be used packing, cleaning, and purging. Up until this point however, I had gotten back into my Tai Chi. I must admit I love it. It is 20 minutes of time I HAVE to devote to me, or at least try. I do some morning exercises. You need to focus on moving slowly and breathing carefully.

One time when I was doing my morning Tai Chi routine I had a truly blissful moment, a meditative moment, and then I thought to myself, "hey what's going on this is cool." and it was over. I pondered what had happened. I worked very hard to try to get it again. It did not seem to work. I got frustrated. I decided to call my sister. She is more knowledgeable about meditation techniques. I explained my situation to her. She just laughed and said, "Stop trying to get it, the more you try ensures it won't happen." I asked, "Can I get it to last longer?, this moment of out of body bliss?" My sister said, "Sure, if you meditate like 20 hours a day." Since I don't have that kind of time I am left trying the best I can on my own with my 20 minutes.

This is where the trouble comes in to the story. I do my exercises, I breath, I try to relax, and the THOUGHTS come bursting in. Sometimes it is just questions like, what are we going to have for dinner?, or did I write bread on the shopping list? Now the questions are getting more intense, how to make that closet look bigger? Do I really NEED this or that to come to Chicago? How am I going to sell this house? What is Chicago like? and what does everyone want for Christmas? The thoughts and questions crash into my head. They burst my potential bubble of serenity and quiet. Some days I give up and let them come. Other days I try to push them out and FOCUS on my Tai Chi. It is a constant battle, just like the Yin and the Yang of the Chi AND everything in my life!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Little Bit Country and a Little Bit Orange

The color orange can make you think of many things. Perhaps you think of fruit, ING Bank, or basketball. Currently during the fall season, you may think of pumpkins or orange leaves. Here in Knoxville the color orange means one thing, FOOTBALL, University of Tennessee football.

We were warned when we moved here to be prepared for UT football. Everyone is a fan, they all wear orange, they all go the games (in the 100,000,00 seat stadium)and if you want to go out to eat, going while a home game is being played is recommended.

For the most part, they were right. You see Tennessee shirts, Tennessee flags (on houses and on cars), T license plate, T magnet stickers, and orange clothes everywhere! We even when out to eat during a game for my daughter's birthday during a home game. The restaurant parking lot was the emptiest we had ever scene it. Unless your a sports bar, you are dead during the game. Even my farmers market is quiet on game day at 9 AM due to early tailgating!

I myself made sure the family had at least some Vol(Tennessee Volunteer) wear. Fridays at school are a big day to wear your orange and show your support. I tend to wear my stuff on Saturdays (game day)at least part of the day. You see probably 1 in 3 people wearing football gear on Saturdays. I am telling you this town is serious about it's football.

I have taken to making sure I know when games are and watching at least part of them. It helps me keep up with conversations the next day (and Facebook Posts). I have to admit, I have been won over. I am liking the Orange. The enthusiasm is catching. I have made a decision that part of what I will take with me from Tennessee is becoming a Volunteer Football fan. I know that even in Chicago I will look for the scores and wear my Vol wear on Saturdays. I think it will be fun to have taken that with me from down south. There is only one problem, no can tell my Aunt Nelda. She is a huge PITT football fan. So shhhhhh, it will be out little secret.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

When I came to Tennessee I had all kinds of expectations about people. One thing that friends and others had told me was how southern women are much more "put together" or "dress nice". I had enough people say this that I actually became curious and even a little concerned.

You see, I am not the most fashionable of people. I dress pretty well, but mostly my attitude is I want comfort that doesn't make me look fat out of my clothes. I was just worried enough about this when we first moved here I actually was watching/noticing people as I shopped or walked in and out of stores. Did everyone look dressier than me? Would I fit in? Of course the true question was, Would I be still make friends or be liked if I was different?

I quickly came to conclusion that Tennessee was just like Delaware. Some people dress well, some people dress REALLY well, some people dress like me, and some people walk around in sweats. PHEW! I felt better. I don't like noticing what people wear anyway, unless it is a cute necklace, or maybe shoes. I love my shoes.

The other thing I noticed about many people here in Tennessee is their comfort with who they are in their own skin. It doesn't matter what they are wearing, if you don't like it, it is your problem, not theirs. They laugh at themselves and others if they think they deserve it. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I do appreciate the REAL I feel. It makes me wonder about the Midwest. What is their REAL like. I guess it doesn't matter, it will surprise me anyway. Sometimes I like surprises, but not as much as I like new shoes.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

My job as Domestic Goddess

I am a Domestic Goddess. I did not research where this term originated, but I believe my first time hearing it was uttered by the comedian Rosanne Barr. There she stood on the stage of her HBO special with her sarcastic attitude talking about being a stay at home mom.

I have been a stay at home mom for many years now. I have been known to put "Domestic Goddess" down as my job on official forms. Not every time, but sometimes. If I am lucky the person who collects the forms chuckles if they notice it.

The reason I am talking about this right now is, I am a dying breed. Not that stay at home moms are dying out. There are many people who want to, and thankfully are able to stay at home. The reason I am getting more lonely is because when kids get to be the age mine are, there are many less stay at home moms out there.

My children are 10 and 12 years old, my choice to be at home is for the most part that, my choice. Children this age are more independent, your family needs more money, and they are in school most of the day, and year. It makes sense that it would be a good time to dust myself off and get back on the work horse. The peers I was with when my children were young are moving on to work and other endeavors. If I am able to stay at home, it is because my spouse/partner makes enough money to enable it and/or I still want to do it.

For many of us it is not the right choice to continue to be at home. We are bored, need the challenge of work, need the social interaction, need the money and/or need more of, of, something. It doesn't matter what. For all of us, that something is different, and the pull of it, is strong or not so strong.

I feel that pull and challenge sometimes. Like so many things in my life, it ebbs and flows. Last year it became so strong and the circumstances so good that I went back to work. It was a wonderful choice. It was the right choice for me at the time. Now I am at home again and I know it is the right choice for me now.

The other thing I know is that the days you are not so busy and the "To Do" list starts with, clean the house. My choice can get murky. A job looks good on those days. Then someone gets sick and I am glad I don't have to scramble to get coverage or stress and just take care of them. You really can't win.

This brings me to my venting part of my story. I do sense that any of us as parents, man or woman, want a job that allows us to be with our kids when they need us. We all want that job that allows us to be creative, supported, do something worthwhile, see all our kids shows/events, AND make tons of money.

My job, right now, is still, the Domestic Goddess. Some days, I feel my pay is lousy for doing laundry, dishes, and dusting. My husband makes plenty of money to support us, some days he feels his pay is lousy for the baloney he puts up with co - workers and NOT being there for a conference or event for his children. No matter what we do, or what choice we make for what is best for us and our family we have bad days. The other thing I have realized as Domestic Goddess in the age of the stay at home dinosaur, is that I still have friends who are at home and those who work. We all still have the Internet and check facebook from home OR the office. Making us all, no matter where we are, still connected.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

I miss Patrick Stoner, Who would have guessed?

Hello. My name is Ingrid Ziegler and I am an NPR addict. Ok, so maybe not an addict, but I am definitely an NPR listener. When we moved to Tennessee a friend gave me an NPR map. It is a map of the united states with all the NPR stations on it. It was a small gift and it has been well loved and well used. I have previously noted that I seem drawn to the comfort of NPR voices when I am stressed.

Guess what? I think I have been feeling a bit more stress lately. One of the first things I did when I found out about our relocation was check out NPR stations in Chicago. I already knew "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me - The NPR quiz show" was recorded there. I even told this to the children as a perk. (I have one who wants to meet Mo Rocca and another who wants to meet Paula Poundstone who are frequent panelists) My research revealed a full NPR schedule on a Chicago station. I saw shows from my previous station and others I had heard of but never been able to listen to. I was happy. Here in Tennessee NPR shows are few and in between they play classical music. (I am not a classical music gal)

I continued to poke around on the WBEZ's (Chicago NPR station) website, and then I found it. The magic button that allows you to stream the station. All those shows and voices I need in my time of stress just a mouse click away. In the blink of an eye it was done. This week my little Net Book has been playing WBEZ all day long. Some people like the TV as background noise, but not me. I have been in heaven.

Of course, in my life with the good news there is often some bad news. I excitedly listened to the radio AND...... it's a pledge drive.(or as my daughters call them, a beg-a-thon) The girls used to hate them in Delaware. They would say things like, "Do we HAVE to listen this week?" and "Did you give your money to make it stop?" I wrote down the phone number for WBEZ so I could pledge (I was being greedy and holding out for an attractive incentive) My older daughter saw it and said,"Mom, that's the wrong number." and recited our old NPR station's pledge phone number. I must say, I think I teared up a little with pride at that.

I am sure I will pledge to the my soon to be new NPR home, but just like I miss things from my old house (like my porch), I also miss College Challenge day for pledge drives and I even miss that dog gone WHYY film critic Partick Stoner, pushing and poking everyone to give right up until the end. Who knew?

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Songs in my Head

I understand that the title of this blog may give you concern about my mental health. I apologize for that. I will attest that I am not hearing voices in my head telling me to do horrible things. I struggled with the title. I guess it could also have been, The Soundtrack to my Life.

Music plays an important role in my life. Admittedly, I mostly listen to ZUMBA music, but other songs sneak in and many times I listen to the songs or CD that fit my mood. Recently one song has reemerged onto my playlist. The song is, "The Russian Dance" from the "Nutcracker Suite" I am sure you know the song, it goes faster and faster, and gets louder and louder until it crashes into an end. It is the song that kept creeping into my mind when we last had to move. Events with moving and transition start coming and they don't stop. The tasks get bigger and come at you more quickly, and end with a big crash when you land in your new house and life.

I would like to be able to say that my song choices have been happy as of late. My emotions about our move and the changes coming into our lives move in waves. I am happy then sad. The feelings are more intense then ebb away. The current playlist can move from "Jump" by Van Halen to "This is as bad as it gets" by Christine Lavin. Another amusing ditty is "I Hate Everyone" by Get Set Go. A song about being unhappy but with such an up tempo beat!(Note: My version is from the Grey's Anatomy Soundtrack and is cleaner than ones I found online) I am sure my playlist will keep growing as time goes on. Another song I am glad that I recently added to my collection is "I Can Help" by Billy Swan, because I know no matter what I have lots of people willing to do that for me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Suburban Universe

I live in the "burbs". For most of my life I have lived in the suburbs in some way or another. I was born in Philadelphia but only lived there until I was 7 years old. I grew up in New Jersey,in what was a suburb of New York City. The town I grew up in, Westfield, was actually a town. I realize that times are very different now but it amazes me how much I did on my own in "town". I could walk places, like school, shops, restaurants, library and even my church. Even if I lived there today I am not sure I would let my kids walk so far on their own anymore, but I remember doing it. I was able to not depend on the car for EVERYTHING.

When I went to college, I lived in a college town. I also did not need a car until I was completing my student teaching. At that time my sister bought me a car, all I had to do was visit her once a month in Philadelphia. (I have a REALLY cool sister) In college I walked to restaurants, grocery stores, classes, work, and to see friends.

Once I graduated and left campus, that was when I got to really experience Suburbia as an adult. Strip malls, driving for everything, and living in a "Development" not a town. In Suburbia you get Malls, chain stores, and big box places to shop at. People will complain and say, every mall looks the same, every strip mall or big box mall has the same things.

At this moment in my life I have found those places comforting. When we moved here, I searched out a Target and other places. More importantly, finding the same places for my kids gave them comfort. I was picking them up and moving them away from everything they know, but hey, they could still have a Claire's and a Justice!

I was on the phone with a friend and we were laughing about this idea. I live in my own little Suburban world. Now I find myself searching online to see if my favorite chain store exist in Chicago. I tell my children, we are losing the Chocolate Factory but we get back a Trader's Joes! These location and stores offer scraps of normalcy and predictability in this time full of transition and change. So raise a glass and toast to Trader Joes, Target and all those other predictable chains. Which reminds me, I want to get online and see if there is a Total Wine in Illinois hmmmmmmmm.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Want A Pony

This is a blog about guilt. We all have guilt about some things I suppose. I feel guilty about poor decisions I have made or how I may have treated people poorly. At the moment I have guilt about the change coming in my children's lives, again.

I find it challenging and heartbreaking that all the things I made them do here in Tennessee I must make them do all over again in a year. I know it will be fine (or at least I hope it will), I know I did not plan it, I know I love them and they love me and that is the most important thing. I still have guilt.

As a parent I sometimes use guilt to get my children to do something. I know all parents do this at times. I know there is guilt in religion sometimes. There is also a joke in my house that involves my mom. She always wanted to take care of us and be sure we were alright. In the past she would often apologize for things that even she could not control. One day it was raining and as my mom gave my dad the umbrella she said,"I'm sorry." My dad replied, "why?, you did not make the rain." He was teasing her of course. I am like my mother and Jack teases me now when I say stuff like that.

Right now though, I still look at my children and say, "I'm sorry". I think of the movie "Sixteen Candles". The parents forget their daughters 16th birthday and her friend says,"You should tell them. There is some major guilt gifts to come out of it." I think if my kids said, "I want a pony." It would be hard for me to say no.

A friend was texting back and forth with me and suggesting distractions, "how about a puppy?" she said.(like I want to sell a house with a puppy in it) Then she texted me,"oooh I just had the best idea! Why not distract everyone with a baby! you have 9 months......that would be so much fun! now I'm really giggling..." So, a big NO to that one. The pony is looking better and better.

In the end it is not about ponies, dogs, or guilt. It is about change and how we handle it. I guess the best I can do is handle it well and instead of saying I'm sorry to my children, keep saying I love you.

Monday, September 27, 2010

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

There is a commercial I see on TV that has a line, "While I was busy building my life, plaque was building in my arteries." It is an advertisement for some cholesterol lowering drug I believe. These past few months, I can't attest to the plaque in my arteries but I do sometimes worry about my blood pressure.

You see I have been building, and in a way, rebuilding my life. I purge a house (one brick), pack a house (another brick), get new doctors, (yet another brick) and so on. I have been placing my bricks in order and make my new life sturdy here in Tennessee. The fates however have decided to come along and knock my house down.

They are moving my husband's headquarters and we have to move to Chicago. And now I sit amongst a pile of rubble. My bricks lay scattered around me. Sometimes I sit and stare at them. Sometimes I pull my knees into my chest and cry a little. Mostly I sift through the pile. I know that there are many bricks that are not broken or even damaged. You see, when I was in highschool I went on a workcamp with my church. One of our tasks was to search the remains of a "moved" house for salvageable brick. Brick is strong, and so am I. I will find my bricks and take them to Chicago. I can place them in a new spot. I can repair the ones which are damaged and gather/build new ones (like friends, Karate, Gymnastics) once again. I know I can, I know how, because, I just did it not to long ago.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I'm Getting Old

"I'm getting old." I will say to my children. This phrase disgruntles my eldest child and always brings a protest. "Mom, you are not old." she will say. "You are only old when you are 100." Or she will say, "Mom, you are only as old as you feel." I tend to reply,"I feel pretty dog gone old." This gets a smile from my daughter and has become a little joke between us.

It is true I feel my body aging. My foot hurts here, I get a leg strain there, and I have to be careful with my back. Out of respect for my male readers I won't go into details, but being a woman who is getting older, there is a time in the month which just keeps getting uglier. (my female peers will understand) I truly enjoy my new bras which give me more lift in the right places and will NOT buy Spanx but understand the temptation. There is nothing to be done, you get older and your body changes.

I do not want it to sound like I am bitter or hate getting old. It is what it is and I do my best to embrace it. I try to stay healthy and take care of myself. I also see the good things about getting older. The experiences you gain and keep under your belt. When my father had heart surgery a nurse told us that younger patients often have more trouble with recovery. They have much more difficulty with the pain and discomfort. I think when you are older you have experienced both, more pain, and more pleasure. Perhaps you have more background knowledge to know it will end. The other thing that startles me about getting older is that my children are getting older also.

My eldest (who complains to me when I say I am old) is growing up. She is gaining more experience and strength as I watch. It has been hard to pick her up and move her away from her friends and familiar places. Quietly she has been growing and maturing though. She is handling things in different ways than I would have expected. An example is our visit to the doctor.

We had to go to the doctor for her flu shot, and to check her asthma medication. I was lucky enough to have a friend watch my other daughter. It was a doctor visit, but I actually had fun with her. We waited in the room and talked and laughed. I was able to tease her(She was trying to convince me there was an Indian tribe call the Mohican's who had Mohawks, I kept telling her I KNEW how to contact her 4th grade teacher and would!) She helped me figure out games with me on my new cell phone.

I was reminded of something my parents often tell me. They say that they enjoy talking to me and all my siblings. They love having dinner with us as adults. It is a pleasure to talk to us as adults and dinner companions. I saw a glimmer of that with my 12 year old, and it made me happy. I hope I am able to grow old and help her mature through her teenage years and still be at this positive point. I know it will have it's challenges but I hope it still happens. We can get old together.

Monday, September 20, 2010

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Since I left Delaware I have been a little lost. I am continuing to find my bearings but at times I still feel like a fish out of water. I flop hear and there as I find my way around and things to do. I am Dorrie in "Finding Nemo" except I don't always communicate the right way with people because sometimes I don't speak "whale" or "Tennessee Twang", especially when it comes to politics.

I come from Northern Delaware, while not a bastion of liberal politics it was for the most part a moderate democratic community and state.(Ok,OK, I know the whole Christine O'Donnell thing was a bit of a shocker) While living here in Tennessee, I am reminded of a cartoon I saw after the Bush/Gore Election. It was a map of our country. It was divided with the Blue states which voted democratic and the Red that voted republican. The Blue States were labeled "The United States of America". The Red States were labeled "Jesusland". It was funny and expressed the anger so many people felt back then. The country was so divided. I tend not to be a divider but a unifier.

For most of my adult life I have lived in a Blue State. Now I reside in a Red. When I grew up in New Jersey our town was more conservative and republican in it's politics. My dad would run in local races so their would be someone to bring up the issues he wanted or just BE opposition. (Did I mention how my brother liked to stir the pot? I see where he gets it) That is not my way, I quietly go about doing things in my life to best I can to express my beliefs. Although it would be nice to have some type of peer friendship with someone who has my sense of political vision. I was surrounded by it in Delaware and it was wonderful. I had friends who held different political views also and that was fine. I just don't want to fight about it. I was thinking that was how it would end up here.

As fate would have it, I may have found a kindred spirit in a neighbor, she is from Massachusetts. She has lived here longer and I get the sense she too feels like an island of moderate, even liberal politics. Some moms were talking at the bus stop about the cute outfit a child had on. "Oh, I got that at Walmart," a mom said. I said,"I can't shop at Walmart." I got blank stares except from this one new friend, she looked at me and said,"The Union thing right? yeah me too." I almost wanted to hug her. We agreed that it hard to NEVER go there but she does her best. I had to admit I had keys made there the other day. I did not know WHERE else to go. (I texted my sister so she could absolve me of my guilt)

So at the moment I feel a little less alone. I am a blue fish with a friend, we are Two Fish now. Just keep Swimming, Just keep swimming.....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

My Own Personal Bubble

In another life, and honestly last year, I was a preschool teacher. I LOVE 3 and 4 year olds. They are funny, cuddly, adventuresome, and excited to learn. It takes patience and energy to teach them but it was worth it. In the classroom you have to establish rules in order to keep chaos from reigning. These rules need to be worded in positive language and in term the children will understand.

Last year I had a child who was having some difficulty keeping his hands and feet to himself. He would also lean real close and put his face in someone elses when he sometimes spoke and especially if he was getting frustrated. His mother had a phrase, "Stay in your personal bubble" or she would say,"your invading my personal bubble" I began using it in the classroom. It gave him and all the children a visual image of how to keep a respectful physical space.

In Tennessee I am looking for my phrase to say to some people, "Your in my bubble". Not because people are sitting to close or in my face. In tends to be about religion. As I speak to people, the conversation often turns toward church,"Where they go, what they do, the Christian Education etc." Then they turn to me, "Where do you go? Wouldn't you like to go to OUR church?" I want to say, "Leave me alone. Your in my bubble." But I know this will not fly. So now what?

I gave it some thought and I began to remember something my brother did in college. You have to understand my brother is very creative, very smart, and in his youth stirred the pot when he could. In college he and some friends created a religion. Just to SEE if they COULD. It became a legal religion in New Jersey for 6 years. It was called Norse Brahamanism.

Norse Brahamanism and it's creation has many wonderful stories. I encourage any of you to get my brother to share them if you get the chance to meet him. He reminded me the saying for Norse Brahamanism was "All things are One but some things are more One than others" Things I recall about this religion was that no one was supposed to take it to seriously. Anyone who did got demoted in the faith. It had everything, lore, traditions, and celebrations. As the Christian faith has Easter and Christmas as important holidays. Norse Brahamanism had "The Feast of Ragnarok". The feast was a party held just before "Ragnarok" which was when the Frost Giants would battle the Gods and win. The world would, you know, END.(really I think it was just an excuse for my brother to throw a BIG party) On the occasions it was held at our house I would get to spend the night on the third floor with a friend watching TV and eating junk food. The only rule was, "I had to stay upstairs." I didn't mind,it was fun.

Why do I bring this up? The other part of the story was that this was a religion.(of sorts) I mean ok, they had shirts that said,"Ragnarok is coming, Be There" but my brother could define and defend it as a faith. Just for fun he would tell the Jehovah Witnesses who came to the door. "No thanks, I am a Norse Brahamanist". He could tell them all about it.(if they cared to ask) To that end, I came up with my own phrase instead of "My personal bubble". I think when things are getting to religious I will just think in my head, "Ragnarok is Coming, Be There" and politely excuse myself.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tennesse Twang

Here I am in Tennessee. The feel of it is quite similar to Delaware and also quite different. It is in some ways a new and strange land. An example of this, is the accents, or as it is sometimes called that "southern drawl". Of course I do not have one, nor do I intend to get one, but one thing I am truly having fun learning is some southern lingo.

It all started with the term "Tennessee Talker". As I am a self described "Chatty Cathy", this term intrigued me. Some definitions are,"If you have a 10 minute conversation with every check out person, you're a Tennessee Talker" or "If you talk to the people in line ahead or in back of you, you're a Tennessee Talker". I soon realized I fit into this idea very well.

Other terms and phrases have been making me chuckle. I now have a Tennessee friend on the hunt for southern phrasing, she sits and when we talk she smiles and tosses out little gems so she can make me crack up. I don't think I have a favorite yet but here are a few. "Butter my Butt and Call me a Biscuit!", "He's crazier than a sprayed roach." and "He's uglier than homemade LYE soap." Also, apparently if you try to do something or see someone and can't "it's a miss". As in, "I went to get my favorite fruit at the farmer market but farmer Joe was a miss." I know more of these phrases and terms will keep coming. I'm "a fixin'" to collect them and put them in a book.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

You Like Me, You REALLY, REALLY Like Me

All things take time, this making friends thing is taking to much time. Sometimes I am not so patient. I admit I am slowly meeting people and getting to know them, but I want some FRIENDS. I decided to take a deep breath gave it some thought. I reflected on the times I had to make new friends as an adult in my life.

I am a fairly outgoing person. I went to college, leaving my parents open mouthed and saddened with the parting comment,"Good - bye! I have to go forge new relationships!"(yes, I ACTUALLY said this) I headed off and discovered creative, smart, and terrific people. Most of whom were not even in my major or my classes. During college I also met many people through my job at Kinko's Copies. I am friends with them today and one even introduced me to my husband. College seemed to be so intense that making friends was fast and furious. Over time the relationships strengthened. I recall feeling a little lost my freshman year, which group did I fit into? Did I fit into any? In the end, I made my own little group.

My next leap into meeting new people was my move back to Delaware. In my new home with my soon to be husband I was able to stay in touch with friends from college and make new ones with neighbors. I am now back in touch with them through Facebook! While in Newark, Jack and I met more people through our church.

Meeting people at church took time. I remember hanging around at coffee hour and not being comfortable, not KNOWING anyone. (I also remember being scared of Mrs. Hamilton, but that is a story for another time)Somehow over time it changed. At coffee hour I could not find the time to talk to EVERYONE! I made friends that are like family. As I visit new churches I try to remind myself that it takes time. The newness and uncomfortableness will melt away.

When I moved from Newark to Wilmington I was pregnant. My children launched me into a whole new group of friends. Being a stay at home mom, I worked every angle I could to meet people. One friend recalled how I stopped to talk to her outside as I walked the dog. (I had read an article in Parent Magazine that said when you were at home with children if you saw someone out with their kids, go talk to them, they might be a new friend!)Another friend recalled how I spoke to her at a Stay at home MOMS Club meeting.( I DO like to talk). My neighbor in Delaware recalls how I knocked on her door with treats not long after she moved in. She was at wits end trying to paint, the kids were crazy. I did not mind, all I saw was another stay at home mom! Yeah! So began my new round of friendships.

Now I live in Knoxville. I am walking the dog, meeting neighbors, and trying to find children my own girls age for them to play with. I am proud to say I have 2 Facebook friends from here in Farragut. I even got invited to a neighborhood BBQ. It was like getting a ticket to a Broadway show! We got to meet many new people and who knows - maybe it was my first step toward "forging new relationships"

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Circle of Life

The more things change the more they stay the same. A new school year has started and I am once again a stay at home mom. I have come back into the circle of PTA work, cleaning the house, staying on top of things, and of course driving everyone everywhere.

The circle continues with each day repeating homework, karate, and gymnastics. Everyday a new event to get to and return from. Soon we will have basketball, clubs, and Girls on the Run to work into our rotation. Even my driving is done in circles. I take a small circle route down the interstate and back up Kingston Pike for Jenny's gymnastics and a larger loop farther down the highway and back up Kingston Pike for Melissa's Karate. The cycle repeats over and over. Don't get me wrong, I am happy to have my new tasks that are different yet so much the same, but I think the next thing I will work on is expanding my circle of Tennessee friends.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Machine that goes "Ping!"

Technology is a wonderful thing. My increase in gadgets and such has been practically exponential since we arrived in Tennessee. We got an Itouch for our one daughter so she could text with friends, we got a camera and video chat with family and friends, and I got a netbook. I even got a new scale. It is digital. It shows weight and body composition (the best part for me was it said I weighed 10 lbs less than the old scale) It may be broken, but I am keeping it and embracing it's technology! My most recent gadget purchase was an upgraded cell phone. Now I can get emails, surf the web, text, take pictures and you know, talk on it. The phone is like it's own mini - computer.

Oddly enough we already have several computers. Our older desk top computer is now used by our children alone. It sits perched at the desk and lumbers to life when called upon. The poor thing is getting old and often needs rebooted and takes FOREVER to get going. It struggled with adjustment to the wireless network (it used to just plug into the router)now it hi cups and stumbles as it connects with the wireless adapter and finds new IP addresses. My husband will attempt to revive it but I fear it is at it last gasps of life.

I don't miss it. I love my little netbook. I can blog at the gymnastic studio! Of course now that I have my new phone I am to busy checking my facebook status while at gymnastics and karate I don't have time to blog there. Facebook has been a terrific technological tool since I moved here to Tennessee. A young cousin of mine introduced me to the chat function. There I was reading and commenting on things on my page, when up she pops - "Hey! How is it going?" I am old and not tech savvy - I had NO IDEA I could do that friends when online.

So now I am a pro. I started chatting with all sorts of people if they were online the same time as me. The other day it got really bad. I was chatting with my friend on facebook while my new phone pinged (or rather said - DROID, in that creepy voice)every time someone commented on my status or someone elses via facebook. I had to chat, read, comment, and keep checking the phone. It started to get a little overwhelming.

Now don't get me wrong, I still like all my gadgets. I also like the technology for social and other purposes. Here in Tennessee they are very big on technology in the classrooms and for communication. At Open House all you heard was, "Be sure to check the Parent Portal" and "The Parent Portal has grades and all our lesson plans on it." and even one "I am not so good at posting things on the Parent Portal." Due to the size of our schools and the race to embrace technology the school has the "Parent Portal" system in place. I will admit it takes time to navigate but I am learning and hope to get better. My only concern is, what about the techno phobes, or worse, the technology don't haves. If I only had my desk top dinosaur would I be checking things so often? If I had no computer how would I find things out? It seems to be the accepted way things are done here. I just wish technology could make itself available for everyone.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Is the UU for Me Me?

Our family went to church again this Sunday. We went back to the Unitarian Universalist Church. It is a very nice church. It is only 5 minutes away. The space is bright and open. The chairs are comfortable. This is an important feature for my husband. We once visited a church which had no leg space. He told me he really hoped I had not liked it. He could never sit for services there, it was TOO uncomfortable. I told him that the discomfort was God's way of making him move around and be sure to keep his attention on the sermon.

Needless to say this church is friendly and of a good size. I find it surprising due to where we live now, along the Bible Belt. You see the Unitarians believe many values that our previous church also did. They are a Welcoming Congregation (for all you UCC people this means Open and Affirming). They not only are Welcoming but are indeed very active in the support of BGLT people. (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered people) They have a mission to support each person's unique path to spiritual growth, celebrate life and support each other with respect and compassion, serve the larger community and work for a just and environmentally responsible society, and of course welcome ALL in the journey.

What is not to like?

There is no cross. I don't need a crucifix but maybe a cross. Will there be a Christmas tree? or Christmas carols? (We did sing "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" this week. That is one of my favorite hymns.) The sermon while faithful and speaks of God has not been, and naturally would not be based on scripture. I miss these things. But how much?

This church has 12 Religious Education Teachers. The Religious Director and Committee Chair -DON'T TEACH. They have 2 people in the rooms without a problem! They will have Our Whole Lives Education for my children. I can (but haven't yet) participate on committees and programs without much trouble. You need me to make dinner for the homeless we are hosting for Family Promise? Sure, I will bring it right to you. They are so close this could be done easily.

My brother once told me, people select child care based on 3 things: Quality, Cost, and Proximity/Convenience. I have found myself applying these principle to my search for a new church home. I think this church has the qualities I like, and the proximity. I am still struggling with if I am comfortable with the cost. The loss of the cross.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Twos and Tweens

When your children are two they are asserting their independence, they use more words, argue, and often cry. When my children were at this age I learned some lessons. One was that tired children are never much fun when you are trying to get something done. The second was that hunger would always make a mood much worse. To that end I carried food with me everywhere, in my purse, and in the car. My youngest became trained like Pavlov's dogs. She would get in the car and say, "I'm hungry." because she new I always had food and would feed her in the car.

Another tactic I learned which helped when my children were young was distraction. If you could make them laugh, point out something curious for them to look at, or get even another person involved they could "forget" their anguish. Changing gears on their own was too difficult. They could use a nudge or excuse to "let it go".

During the last couple of weeks I have some situations with my eldest daughter (my Tween) which found me falling back into these methods. For the most part our routine has been going along well, but as school approached trouble emerged. Their was increased excitement (and anxiety). The stress led to some exhaustion. Then there would be an argument. It doesn't matter what the arguments were about. As an adult I did not see the need to have a huge blow out over small things. My daughter would continue to persist and get more agitated as I did not engage. I half expected her to throw herself on the floor and scream. (Thankfully she did not do this) Instead of a tantrum I did get my first door slam though.

My main tactic in these situation is to reassure her I love her. I stay calm and tell her I don't want to argue. IF this manages to calm her but then she STILL wants to discuss her situation (or how wrong I was) I would ask questions about school or who she texted with or what color she wants to paint her room. It worked! The best thing was that our conversation would wind around on a curvy track and I could expose the kernel of truth about what she really was worried about. (It usually is not anything related to our original argument) An example: we argued because she had to get her OWN towel to use the hot tub (I know, I have SOME nerve huh?) but really she was upset her friends in Delaware had gotten together without her, she felt left out and missed them. So in the end I have learned that I don't need to keep fruit bars in the car anymore but it pays to be patient and peel back the layers to find the truth. As I stated in a previous blog, Children are like Ogres, they have layers.(Shrek)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Things That Go Bump in the Night

There are people who say sound is a strong trigger for memory. A song from a special summer or that you heard often while dating someone can often put you right back in that place and time. In my case I have a sound of cicadas. When I grew up in New Jersey I would wake up in the summer to sound of the cicadas. I distinctly remember opening my eyes and hearing their sound crescendo up and down. My windows would be open and it would be sunny and the wind would be blowing in the curtains. It is not a sound I thought of until moving here to Tennessee. I guess I did not hear that particular noise much in Delaware, but here I hear it often.

I began to think about other noises which are different here. In Delaware I would always wake up (or if I was stressed be awake) to hear the newspaper guy drive buy and "thwap!" the paper onto the driveway at 4 AM. During the school year a school bus would roll up and sit at 6:50 AM every school on the corner by my house. I knew when I heard it I REALLY had to get my act together. I could hear the trash trucks go by at around 6:00AM every Monday and Thursday. There was bird in the bushes under our bedroom window that chirped around 5AM. When I was outside you could always hear a plane getting ready to land at the Philadelphia airport.(actually after awhile you stopped hearing them because they became background noise) Sometimes when I would take my eldest daughter for a ride in her stroller around the neighborhood when she was a baby I would count how many planes I heard go by overhead.

At night my house was mostly quiet. Sometimes I could hear the "humming and thrumming" of our computer. (poor thing is getting old) The sound of the garage door going up when Jack came home from being out or working late. Nighttime held some of the bad noises too, the beep of the battery back up sump pump, the beep of the smoke detector needing a new battery, or the beep of the "I detected water on the floor in basement device" because the stupid heater pump had issues AGAIN. I would not say the noises at night in Delaware scared me much. Of course I was always happier when Jack was around to hear them with me.

The sounds of Tennessee at night are still a little scary. In the summer there are often thunderstorms at night. I do not like thunderstorms. During the day they are fine but at night they startle and disturb me. I have residual stress from worrying about losing power and the basement flooding. Here in Tennessee if there is a storm at night I make the dog comes close and I curse the big windows I now have that show me every flash of lightning. I have not heard to many thumps or bumps here. Thankfully my room is to far from the computer to hear it's hum. I hear the air conditioner thump on and blow. There is only one odd unidentified noise. It is the soft "tink" which we cannot place, we think it may be from wind blowing a vent somewhere. Jack and I have been happy and puzzled at the quietness of this house. I continue to look forward to learning all the noises bumpy, frumpy or silly this house as to offer. And at some point I know I will be trying to fall asleep somewhere new and miss that soft "tink".

Friday, August 20, 2010

I am as Proud as a Peacock

School has started here in the South. One thing seems clear to me right away. They do not fool around. My younger daughter has come home with papers, her specials are already on the go. Her homework starts next week though. My older daughter has homework each night already (welcome to 6th grade) but seems to be handling it well. Last night she had to complete some similes that describe herself.

I began to think about how I am feeling this week. I would say that if I was completing her assignment I would put, I am as proud as a peacock. You see, Jack is away and I am in charge and getting it done. I have juggled bus schedules, got up (ungodly) early, packed lunches, made sure homework is completed, and no one missed karate or gymnastics!

I made the children food they like, (BLT's, baked potatoes) while also making food I like. (salad with avocado, grilled vegetable sandwich) We ate together and talked. I met with plumbers and roofers and cleaned the entire house. I am thinking my proudest moment was the defeat of the Wasp. My younger child was terrified, having recently suffered her first bee sting, rightfully so. I attacked said wasp with a fly swatter and my shoe. He was defeated and mightily slain.

So I sit today in my clean house using my new netbook, puffed up and proud. I am happy that Jack is coming home today. I am proud of myself for doing well in our new world of Tennessee, but he needs to take care of that wasp nest. After all, I am proud but maybe not all THAT brave.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Missing Miss. Masterson

My children are in school today. They went off on their buses and are learning. More important to them they are making friends. The week before this one was spent checking to see what teachers we had, buying clothes, buying school supplies, and visits to the offices of each school to drop off all the necessary papers.

At one point I called to ask about lunch since I was having trouble setting up account for my younger daughter. The secretary said,"Well you don't have to worry about it just yet anyway. The first day is a half day." This was news to me. I said thank you for the information. I asked was I going to get a letter with car drop off information? this 1/2 day thing? bus information? My reply was, "Honey, we have over 1000 students, we don't do mailings. I said, "Ok, I will be sure to check the website regularly."

I was a teacher. I know the start of the year is this side of CRAZY for secretaries. I hung up and thought about Miss. Masterson. She was the secretary at my daughter's school in Delaware. She was quick to greet anyone who came in. She was organized and I could not help but feel a pang of sadness and not seeing her anymore. Miss. Masterson would look up at me (and others who came in) and smile.I had the feeling that when she registered someone new, she would have told them, we don't send out much information on paper, check the website. She probably would have a paper to hand them that said it, and had the website on it. I know that the more active I am in the girls schools I will get to know their staff and secretaries, but for now I just miss Miss. Masterson.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bless Me Father

Bless me father for I have sinned, it has been over a week since my last blog post. I am also not catholic so confessing as one seems somehow suspect. I have been attempting to go through correct channels but may have bent some rules to get my daughter on the bus. I have guilt over lying or at least tacit acceptance of something they may not be correct in this matter. I have been using chemicals to kill the weeds in my back yard. I spent much money (but REALLY like) my new kitchen stools and wine rack. Lastly, I purchased a book of Devotions for Mom, a book full of stories and scriptures for moms. I thought it would inspire me or bring me some spirituality. This book has not been opened. I think I will have to dust it this week.

To sum up, life has been very busy, very hot, and a little crazy. My week has been filled with "Get Ready for School" notions. Now my house is empty as the children are at school. I am alone with my sins and my blog. The school year has started and now I guess I have more time for both.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Guns and Gossip

Living in Delaware I had many friends. I had many circles of friends actually. I had the Village from my church, my Neighborhood Peeps, Moms Club Pals, and Happy Hour Gang. Some of these circles overlapped and some did not. I was so lucky to have all the help support and love they gave me and continue to give.

Here in Tennessee my new circles are not yet defined. I have not gone to church yet. I have met some neighbors, but have not had my "Get to Know Your Neighbor Party". The other places I seem to spend time are Karate and Gymnastics. Gymnastics parents are friendly but not always there. They chat and share information but I am not sure how well I fit in. Things are different in Karate.

I have begun calling these women (and some men) my Karate Peeps. There is an atmosphere of friendliness and lack of pretension. The people are comfortable with who they are and what they do. One of my favorite people is the karate teacher's wife. She is often in the office chatting and laughing. People float in and out of the conversation. She and the others are a wealth of information on everything. They give you help and their opinions, but don't mind if you don't take their advice. I sometimes sense some are better friends or have known each other a long time, but I never feel left out. There is no sense of a "cool" click. Their talk and stories are bubbly and exciting. Here is the somewhat unusual part, they often involve guns.

It seems many people in Tennessee own guns. They are also not afraid to share this information with you. One of my karate peeps shared the story of sitting on her porch when some kids came by to toilet paper her house. She had an older daughter and it seems to be the "in" thing for the kids to do to each other. Her neighbor was sitting on his porch where he was not seen, he came off his porch waved his gun and those kids dropped the toilet paper and got back in their car and flew! She scooped up the TP and told her daughter to post on her facebook - Thanks for the toilet paper, times are tough! Some may find this story startling or disturbing. I must admit it is ok for me. I like my karate peep and like it or not she is going to talk about guns and be comfortable in her own skin.

Unfortunately, there are the not so funny stories involving guns I have read in the paper. The man who shot intruders in his home and killed them. The man who sent his daughter to be with his parents because he feared he could not protect her without his gun. (a protection order had been put out this gentleman so he had to surrender his weapon ) The mother who held a gun to a 22 year old mans temple (but did not shoot) when she found him with her 14 year old daughter.

I am much more aware of guns around here than in Delaware. I am not sure what to do with my Karate Peeps, gossip and guns. I feel comfortable around them but not necessarily their weapons. I guess I will do my best to keep talking, laughing and not making anybody mad, because you just never know who is packin heat!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The New Age Of THE DUMP

I have been in Tennessee almost 2 months now. I continue to learn and discover new things. One of my discoveries last week was the Knoxville Dump. I am not sure what you picture when you think of a dump. I am not sure what experience you have had with dumps. When I think of a dump, I picture HUGE piles of trash with bulldozers roving around. They shove the trash into bigger piles. Seagulls circle over head. If I am lucky I can throw in an image of Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs emerging from somewhere among the piles.(Let's face it, the guy is ruggedly handsome)

My other images of dumps include money and injury. In Delaware, you take things to the dump and pay a fee. (You PAY for the risk of injury) My sister took some things to the dump and injured her foot. It got infected, REALLY bad. Dumps are dirty places after all. One of the first neighbors I met had just returned from "The Dump". He had an injury to his ankle. (Did I mention my image of dumps are dirty, dangerous places?)

My conversation with this neighbor and others gave me the impression "The Dump" was nearby and often used. I was not sure what to make of this information. In Delaware you usually loaded your pick up (or the truck of some kind soul you knew) and made a special trip to the far away dump.

As it turned out, I needed to empty my garage. My new lovely large garage was full of paper, boxes, assorted trash, and even some furniture that was of no use to anyone. I went in search of recycling centers and stumbled upon a Knox County Dump site. It was very clean and organized for a "Dump"

Instead of piles of trash, there were orderly rows of containers. There is always someone on hand to oversee and answer questions. You drop off scrap metal in one area, electronics to recycle in another, then continue around on your track. You can then recycle cans, paper, and cardboard before you final stop at the trash containers.

It should be mentioned here that I was not sure what to make of these containers. They were quite like ones you see in Delaware, except that attached and where you put your items in there were LARGE compactors. Every so often as you unloaded, it would start up and crush/shove your items into the larger container.

When I asked questions (remember I am a chatty Cathy), I found out some people don't pay for trash pick up. They just come there. I recycled all I could and returned with the metal and furniture. Since I had scoped things out I knew what to do. I pulled up and attempted to lift my dresser into the "large items" container. A kind soul behind me helps me lift it in. The compressor started immediately. I literally jump back in a mild startled horror as the dresser is crushed and splinters in front of me.(It is one thing to get rid of something, another entirely to see it die in front of you) My helper looked at me and smiled," I hope you hadn't changed your mind." he said. I got in my van and departed grateful to not have had to pay money, not be injured but saddened that any of us needs a dump.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

New Neighbor Needed

Yesterday upon returning home from errands. My husband noticed the House for Sale sign in our neighbors yard. Many thoughts went through my head. The first being, I guess my "Get to Know Your Neighbor Party" will also need to be a "Farewell for the Neighbors we just got to meet party.

I have no doubt the house for sale is very nice. It seems well kept. Fenced in yard, screen porch, nice landscaping, 4 bedrooms and 2 and 1/2 baths, and a bonus room. My main concern, naturally, is who moves in. Again my mind races to all kinds of ideas, a family with children (with of course girls the same age as mine), I could convince my old neighbors from Delaware to move here, OR I could convince many of my Delaware friends to pitch in and buy it. That way everyone could have a place to stay when they come visit with no crowding! It could be their own Tennessee Villa!

I know I have no control over who moves in to this house. I did give some thought to how realtor's describe and advertise their property. Keeping that in mind, here is my own Want Ad I want printed along side.


New neighbor family with children. All age children accepted. Girls ages 9 - 11 years preferred. New family should be fun loving, open minded, with a good sense of humor. NPR listeners and those who enjoy a good happy hour a plus.

Wish us luck!

Where are the People?

I mentioned to my husband the other day how empty parking lots seem here in Tennessee. It is odd to see cars but not have long lines at stores. I am told things will change around the holidays, especially at Turkey Creek. Turkey Creek is a strip of road brimming with stores and food. Jack says, "Think of it as Rt.202 developed today." Around here they call it the "Shopping District". I think of it as several Brandywine Town Centers in a row. I guess when the Holiday shopping comes it will be no different than Delaware. For the moment though, I am left wondering where are people?

The roads too, seem empty. While far from a ghost town, there is never horrific traffic. (Does anyone remember sitting through 2 or more cycles of lights to cross Rt.202?, how about taking an hour to drive from Wilmington to Newark?) I did experience some back up yesterday coming home from gymnastics and it was decided that to get home quicker I should hop on the highway. When is the last time someone suggested you get on Interstate 95 at rush hour to get home quicker? (Highway 40 runs parallel to my beloved Kingtson Highway) Kingston Highway is the Rt. 202 of Delaware. Long and more gritty. It has anything you want or need, just not in a convenient shopping mall. "Mom," my kids will ask, "where is my sock?" I will answer, "On Kingston Highway where everything else can be found." I will answer.

My husband has reminded me I am a native of the east coast. I grew up in NJ the land of the aggressive driver. He suggests I relax and enjoy it. For now I am adjusting. I will say the only parking lots I always see full are church lots on Sunday. There are plenty of churches and plenty of people who go to them. I just can't figure out where they live or where they shop!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Once Bitten Twice Shy?

Welcome to Tennessee, land of a thousand churches. It seems to me that one thing Knoxville is not lacking is churches and banks. The number and variety of both would astound you. I know people have told me, "Ingrid, you have moved to the Bible Belt after all." I have felt this religious presence in odd ways. One of the first questions many people ask you is, "So, have you found a new church home?" They automatically assume you attended church regularly AND that your top priority is getting a new one. The other was in the town 4th of July parade. There were so many floats from the churches it was startling to me. Celebrate our Declaration of Independence! and of course our Lord and Creator!

We have been in Tennessee for more than a month now. Why have we or even me not explored our religious options? I ponder this question often. I discuss it with my husband, and I make excuses, we are unpacking, we are traveling, we are doing things as a family, but why are we NOT seeking to visit churches.

One reason is, my options are limited. Despite the huge number of churches with LARGE congregations,(which are really tempting because you can go and not fear being on this committee or that deacon) my sense is their interpretation of the bible and mine would not match. I hesitate also because visiting churches is hard for me and my children. I don't want the girls attached to a place my husband I decide is not the right fit.

At this time we have narrowed it down to 2 starter choices. We are lucky to have a United Church of Christ congregation close to us. They have the same open and affirming feel as our previous home. They are even the same size. They even use folding chairs and have a pastor who has been there for 17 years. Uh oh, that makes me tremble a little. You see our church as been going though challenges for some time now, starting when our minister of 17 years left. I am not sure I can handle the disruption of that again. My other concern is the sameness of this church to our past one.

I will tell you a story, I went to the local YMCA's here. I wanted to connect with that familiar feeling of comfort and support I had in Delaware. Guess what? I left them and called my old boss(and friend)from the Y crying. The YMCA's here did not offer comfort, they showed in brightness how things are different here and my transition will still take time and effort. I wanted sameness, and what I got was a big dose of different. What if I go to this UCC church and experience the same unhappiness? Will I leave each week upset because I am reminded of not seeing my friends?, my village?, my peers?

Our second option is the Unitarian Universalists. The UU's as jargon calls them. My dad who is a minister used to joke United Church of Christ (UCC) stands for Unitarians considering Christ. My sister has said, the UU's and UCC have a fence between them. It is a chain link fence which allows ideas to go through but the UU's have the final barrier of not making that full commitment to just believing in Jesus and nothing else.

Even so, this option has appeal because they are 5 minutes away. They are very open (last week the sermon was one accepting atheists) AND they marched in the Knoxville Gay Pride parade. I am not even sure the UCC did that. The girls religious education would involve the "Judeo - Christian" beliefs along with other religious studies.

What is my problem with it? While I enjoyed their website, it somehow lacked for me. While I love to learn about other religion and cultures. I cannot escape the fact that I am UCC. I took the leap to believe Jesus is the son of God. Will I be ok with that being one piece of my experience? Do I want that for my family?

All of it troubles me and muddles about in my mind. We have not been to church in what seems like forever to me. My husband pointed out that due to his schooling and being here on his own he has not been to church in months and years! I told him I fear we will never go back to church. He tells me, if I am thinking about it this much, there is now way we will not.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fear and Trepidation

We live in Tennessee now. I have the Tennessee licence plate to prove it! ( of course now I have trouble finding my car in parking lots) For months now I have been saying,"Jack has a new job. It is a great job. It will involve some travel. I am going to stay at home and make sure we all adjust and settle in." These words have been recited, stated, but never actually came true,.....until now.

So far this summer Jack has gone away for at most, 2 days. It has been blissful having him come home from work each night. We eat meals together, we do things on the weekends together, and he helps me in so many ways. When Jack and I discussed his new job and travel we tried to figure out HOW MUCH travel he would do. It became clearer that his travel would come in spurts. Maybe not much for awhile and then it would pick up and he would be gone more.

A spurt is starting, it will become a squirt, and right after school starts for the girls more of a stream. I am hoping we don't get to a raging river anytime soon. The problem is for me, I am now scared. Not quaking in my boots terrified. I know things will be fine, but up until now, I had Jack as a constant safety net in this new land. Together we were explorers and discoverers. When he is in another state, I am the Sole Survivor. I do not have the comfort of my network. I do in spirit but not physically. The fear of being completely on my own creeps up on me sometimes even though I know I can handle things.

I do have options, I am strong, fierce, and of course friendly. I am never shy about asking for help. If needed, I know I can pull out the "we just moved here and I need help and my husband is away card." (as I cry naturally) As stated in previous entries, crying works sometimes. Jack will also tell you that I can conquer anything life throws at me. He is often proud of how I tackle a problem on my own. The other side of that is, usually at a time of crisis I am calm and collected. Then I call Jack to fill him in, and fall to pieces.

So how do I face my fear? One way is to set up a new support system. This has some problems, it takes time and how do I want to do it? Where do I start? Is it church? the Y? volunteering somewhere? I have a blank slate. Which way to go first? Certainly not to many at a time or I will end up stressed and crazy as I was at times in Delaware. I am torn between having involvement so I won't be so alone and then being to involved. For the time being, I think I will continue to lay low, on the prowl, deciding which path to follow first.

I will continue to keep my faith and my humor, perhaps I can laugh the fear away. If that doesn't work, I will call Jack on his cell phone when he is in other states and cry.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My Own Lake Naomi

My sisters came to visit this weekend. They were the first to see our new house and Farragut. It was easy to show them around. I can get to things without much trouble. On Saturday we explored using the method of my husband. Just drive around and follow your sense of direction. As you all know, I am unable to do this on my own.

The good news was that we found a new park and I do have a better sense of how certain roads are connected. "The Big Picture" as Jack puts it. As I mentioned previously, my sisters found Knoxville to be quite similar to Delaware. I would agree and say that the similarities have helped me adapt to my new life with less stress.

Some differences between Tennessee and Delaware came into focus from our travels on Saturday. You see, we ended up at a lake. There are several lakes minutes from our house. It is beautiful to look out on them. You can sit and watch boats and people. There are houses on the lake but not many. Boat ramps are easy to access so Jack will be able to sail and I hope to kayak with my daughters. I have not found it yet but there is beach access to swim in the lake. This particular park we found has a water park to splash in for the girls. (Think of the water park in Dutch Wonderland but smaller) It is open to the public and looked well kept.

As we sat and talked on a bench, a thought came into my head. We have moved ourselves to our own Lake Naomi. Lake Naomi is a spot in the Poconos where friends of mine have homes. You can swim (we belong to our own pool), go to a water park (we have that), kayak, canoe, or sail (we have that also!). All that from my own house!

It is great to consider I moved to a place with all this adventure and perks, it made me smile. The only problem is that I cannot share it with my friends with the same amount of ease that they did with me. The Poconos is only a couple hours away from Delaware. That thought deflates me a little, but does not me go completely flat. I look forward to greeting them here at some point in the future and showing them around.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

1 Month and Counting

As I go around Tennessee, I talk to people. I usually say something about how we just moved here a few weeks ago. The other day I realized, it was not just a few weeks ago, it was a month. It was a month on that very day.

It took me a back a little. I started to think about when my children were young. "How old is she?", people would ask. You answer,"1 month old" with pride. It goes on like that for some time. When you go to the doctor or talk to friends, you don't say, "My daughter is about a year old." or "My daughter is almost 2 years old." You say 13 months or 21 months old.

I wonder when my time to stop counting the months in Tennessee will be. When will I say I live in Tennessee. When will the countdown stop and I consider it the place that is home not this strange land I am learning about? I try to think back to when I lived in Delaware. I knew how to get to places from going to college there. When I first moved to Wilmington, I continued to do some errands in Newark. My husband pointed out that they do have "food stores and pet stores IN Wilmington, and perhaps I should USE them." Transition can be tough, and I liked my comfort zone in Newark.

Thankfully as my sister's put it. "Tennessee seems a lot like Delaware, with southern accents." So maybe that will be it, Tennessee will be home when I get that twang.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Proud Parenting Moment: #33

It had been a busy weekend in our household. We swam at the pool, swam in the hot tub, rode our bikes, went down a water slide at a friends house, and ran all kinds of errands. So it happened last night things got a little rough.

There is a saying in my daughter's Karate school - Quitters never win, winners never quit, I choose to be a winner! Last night as I stood in my girls bedroom and they cried and yelled at each other. I saw no way to win AND I quit.

The girls were upset over numbered moving stickers and money. My husband had encouraged the children to find the stickers and he would pay them. My understanding had been this was a team effort with money to split evenly between them. Somehow, competition had reared it's ugly head, well that and since there were fewer stickers he told them they got more money per sticker. There was crying, reminding each other of previous vows and rules, and yelling because of the 50 cents they could get for this ONE sticker.

I thought about my options and knew that no matter what decision was made there would be more tears and argument. (did I mention we were all tired?) I felt my frustration rising and knew if I yelled this would never get under control. So I did what any self respecting mother would do, I called my husband in to handle the situation. I mean the whole money for stickers was his idea right?

I slipped guiltily into our bedroom so HE could get the lowdown. After a few moments I knew he had delivered a verdict. There was fresh argument (not with each other, but with him) After all we all know he is sooooo unfair. I really love him for taking that bullet for me.

I listened and could not take the guilt anymore. I stepped back in and defended my husbands honor. I calmly explained that how they felt about fair did not upset me. I was upset because they were treating each other and their dad so poorly. I was upset because they were fighting over 50 cents! and I as their mother had bought them hundreds of dollars worth of gadgets just this weekend.(against their fathers judgement, I might add) They as children do not WANT for anything, and they are very lucky. I was so disappointed they were not giving up on this small thing. I wanted them to love each other and knock it off.

I said all of it, calmly and firmly. There was silence for a moment. THEN the girls started to cry and hug me. We are sooooo SORRRY mom!

I reassure them I love them. Jack and I calm them down. We return to our room, so we can all finally get ready for bed.

I guess, Quitters never win, winners never quit, and sometimes a little quilt is a good thing.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Karate Studios and Prom Dates

We are searching for a new Karate home. It reminds me of looking for a new church. You want the right philosophy and atmosphere. My children and I have been to two places so far. We have spoken to and dropped by to ask questions of others. I have also made phone calls in order to save a trip.

I know what we are looking for, we are looking for what we had. Our former place of study was fun, supportive, disciplined, and motivating. It was a great home. We had been there 4 years after all. My daughter felt like family with some of those people.

My daughter is looking for all the traits she had in her previous studio. It is hard for me as we discuss and visit potential new places to visit. She is so full of hope and excitement. "Maybe the instructor will be funny like Master Barnes." or "Maybe we will play that game I liked before." "Will there be someone funny like Mr. Paige?" When her hopes come in contact with reality, it can be upsetting. You see, my daughter is not only seeking the new karate family, she is looking for the ultimate Prom date in the lead instructor. She was very attached to her previous Master. I have had more tears over missing him than anyone else. I know it is because he was good at encouragement and support. He was a rock. Now in this strange new land of discovery, she wants that feeling of stability back.

So far we have not found the perfect fit or prom date. I know he will have to be funny. I know the studio will have to be friendly and knowledgeable. I myself have felt most comfortable in one studio. This is the one my daughter leans toward also. We will visit another this week. She wants to see all her options. Unfortunately, I get the task of calling back the studios which do not get selected and tell them, sorry no prom date this year.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The New Normal

Last week I began to feel it. I had that hamster running in a wheel feeling. I am going and going but I am unable to get it done. I was having trouble keeping track of what I wanted to get done and then HOW to get it done. I am a woman of lists and preparation. I has so many pieces of paper on my pile, I was beginning to panic. I have had this feeling in Delaware. I was surprised to feel it Tennessee though, especially so soon.

Before we moved, I had an image in my mind of my time in Tennessee this summer. I would unpack, get orientated, lay by the pool, read some even, and spend time with the kids. Somehow I thought my time to relax would be lengthier, and well, more relaxing. I thought I would be lonely and could fill the void of missing friends by "getting things done". Somehow though, I am still somewhat lonely AND I can't get things done.

Perhaps it has to do with how things take extra time to figure out here. If I want to try to shop in a new store, find a Karate studio, or Gymnastics place. I have to look it up on the computer, GPS it, visit, evaluate and decide. It can be draining. I currently have many suggestions for doctors and vets. I have to call them and visit, ask questions, and see if they take our insurance. Most things take three steps to complete. After the past few months, I am NOT in the mood for extra steps.

All of my tasks are not insurmountable, but the hamster still has to run in the wheel. I am not able to ignore the cluttered and increasing dirtiness of my new home. I really like my new home and want it clean and organized. I am hoping that I will get into a groove and routine sometime soon, for the moment though I think I will get off the wheel and continue to seek out my New Normal.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Independence Day

Independence Day is coming. The Fourth of July makes me think of fireworks, barbaques, and that movie with Wil Smith.(the one where the aliens blow up the White House).I can't say I have seen that whole movie but Jack will stop to watch if it shows up on cable.

Another thing that I think of for this weekend is family and friends. You see, we almost always saw my in - laws on holiday weekends like this. They would usually have us over to swim and cook out. When scheduling events for the weekend, my Delaware peeps would know to ask, "When are you seeing the Ziegler's?" and we would schedule accordingly around it.

Because I like to entertain and see people, my holiday weekends could have us at 3 or 4 events between family, friends, and neighbors. This year is different. We left the Ziegler clan on the east coast as we departed the Outer Banks. Even if we were in Delaware the in -laws have JUST moved so there would be a new location for our gathering.

Here in Tennessee, I am still making friends and meeting neighbors. I don't know anyone well enough to invite them over. It makes me sad. I let the sadness wash over me in the van on the way home from the Outer Banks. Well, maybe not completly wash over me, but I did let it roll up and lap at my toes.

I know myself well enough to know, wallowing in sadness is not my thing. To that end, I have decided that like the colonists I too shall declare my independence in the state of Tennessee. This in no way means I want to go to war with my past in Delaware, but it does allow me to be embrace the fact that my family will have it's own quiet cookout, will watch the Independence Day Parade in Farragut, will go on a family bike ride and we are able to start our own new holiday weekend traditions.