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.