Tuesday, November 26, 2013

another letter to Cold Weather

Hello Cold Weather.  

Are you there?  

Can you hear me?  




Thanks a lot.  

Really, I mean it. 

I haven't spent a Thanksgiving in Moncks Corner since 2004 and am pretty psyched about being there this year. 

So excited, in fact, that I originally convinced Jimmy we should drive home tonight after he gets home from work.  

And then you started stalking me and decided if I don't profess my undying love for you, you will not leave me alone.  So you bring this to punish me:

You said to me, "You think you'll drive after work?  Just try it, you love spurner."  

I'm conceding on this one, Cold Weather, out of concern for the safety of my family and to avoid what will surely be a rush-hour traffic nightmare getting out of the Beltway in this awful weather. We're spending one more night in Arlington.  

But Cold Weather, revenge is a dish best served cold, so you better keep yourself toasty. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

An open letter to cold weather

Dear Cold Weather,

Thanks so much for dropping back into my life after a really long absence. You can go away now because this love affair is never going to take off.  Don't worry: it's me, not you that's the problem. You've done nothing wrong or unexpected and I'm sure there are some nice girls in the Arctic region right now that are glowing in your attention but I'm not.  My skin is dry, my hair is staticky and I hate you.  Really.  So let's call this whole thing off and you can swirl back on up to parts more northern and send some of your more fair-weather friends down this way.  No hard feelings, okay?


Friday, November 22, 2013

in the spirit of Thanksgiving

This week I have been the recipient of countless blessings for which I am truly thankful but two are worth mentioning.

1.  Our car brakes have been making a horrible noise, particularly when all three of us are in the car.  My non-mechanical brain decided we all weigh too much together and the brakes are rebelling.  So I took it to the shop which had done our state inspection and begged and pleaded for them to fix it (oh and to also check the antifreeze in the car).  The car was there for hours and I panicked that they'd found something horribly wrong with the car but were too afraid to call me.  When I finally called them, the receptionist said that, in fact, there was nothing wrong with the car.  He said there was some rust and the friction between the rust and the brake pads was causing the squeaking noise, but there's no need to replace anything yet because everything's just fine.  He also confirmed that the antifreeze was great.  After all that checking, they didn't charge anything - not one red cent - for the evaluation.  For the record, they could have bilked me out of considerable money to change brake pads or rotors and I would have paid it.  I'm very thankful for honest mechanics who don't take advantage of clueless women.

2.  For Mac's birthday dinner, he chose to eat at PF Chang's.  He ordered his beloved pork dumplings and the crispy honey chicken.  As we were finishing the meal, the manager was making her rounds to check on all the tables in our area.  Mac told her how much he'd enjoyed his meal and I told her that of all the great restaurants in our neighborhood, he'd chosen to go there for his birthday dinner.  She got very excited and offered him a complimentary birthday dessert.  He declined  (who does that???) and when our check was delivered, she'd removed the dumplings from the bill.  I'm very thankful for unexpected gestures of kindness and goodwill.

I'm reminded as we approach Thanksgiving that I need to be more cognizant of the many blessings in my life.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A very good birthday

Mac woke up as an 11 year-old to his bunk bed festooned in balloons and his bedroom door draped in balloon streamers.
After opening his presents and eating breakfast, we headed off to school. Today was Outside the Box Day, which is an annual event where each grade is assigned an engineering feat to design and develop in a 2-hour period. The highlight for the elementary school kids is when they get to do the Egg Drop in the 5th grade. It was so much fun to watch the whole process and to see the testing, which took place off a ladder fire truck that the city sent in.

Mac and his partner's egg did not survive the drop in their vehicle.

I left school at 11:30, only to return at 1:30 for early release Wednesday.  Mac and I went to see the movie Thor at the really nice theater with the awesome fully-reclining leather seats. I napped until Mac made too much noise trying to suck up all the Icee he was drinking.

We are now home for a bit before heading out to dinner.  The latest I've heard is that we're going to PF Changs, but that's changed from Chic-Fil-A and Mexican in the last hour so it's all negotiable.

I think Mac's had a great day. Thanks for all the well wishes you've each sent him!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

on the occasion of Mac's 11th birthday

Tomorrow is Mac’s 11th birthday.

Double digits plus one.

I could cry.

I can’t believe I was given the privilege of raising this boy.  He is so cool and funny and smart and clever. He's a good athlete and a good friend, but more importantly, he's a really good person with a large heart.  Being his mom is my single greatest accomplishment, and I wish – even on those days when we don’t agree on anything – that I could slow down the clock which just goes faster and faster with each passing year. 

So on the occasion of his 11th birthday, here are 11 takeaway motherhood lessons/appreciations:

1. Smelly feet are a good thing because it means my boy’s body is healthy and works as it was intended.  He can run and jump and kick and play enough to produce sweat to make those feet stink.

2. If it’s not going to matter in a year, it probably isn’t worth a fight today.  My mom has framed school pictures of her 5 grandchildren displayed prominently on a side table in her den.  My sister and brother’s children’s photos are always perfect.  Their hair is always combed and parted and their clothes are cute and ironed and neat.  Mac’s school photo is outdated (my fault, not my mom’s), but he did look so nice a couple years ago in his British school uniform from Bogota.  Last week was school photo day at his current school.  I had visions of how Mac’s new photo would look on her table, but he came out of his room dressed like a thug.  He had on layered t-shirts, using a long-sleeved one on the bottom that had a huge hole in it.  He completed the ensemble with his beloved hoodie.  I went nuts.  His response?  “This is my school picture and I can wear what I want.”  I argued back and it ended up being a huge drawn-out affair over breakfast.  For what?  For a nice picture on my mom’s side table?  For a picture in a yearbook that nobody’s going to look at after July?  Finally I stepped back and realized that this is such a short-term event in what I hope will be a long life that it just doesn’t matter.  I can remember what I wore for one class picture in 13 years of class pictures and that was my senior picture when I wore the required cap and gown.  Mac and I ended up compromising and he wore a button-down shirt over the t-shirts, but the shirt wasn’t ironed and I’m sure his hair was a disaster after wearing a beanie to school.  Gigi, plan on keeping the already outdated photo in that frame unless you want to showcase your hoodlum grandson.

3. It is so satisfying to see your child succeed after hard work, not to mention seeing him learn firsthand the value of hard work.  The testing and grading at Mac’s current school is significantly harder than anything he’s ever faced before. Good (or at least decent) grades came easily (or at least without much effort) to Mac in the past, but he’s studying harder and smarter than ever before.  It’s been a struggle for all of us, but he’s seeing some better results and he’s learning that a little hard work won’t kill him.

4. I know we’re soon going to reach an age where his Christmas list is more methodical and better defined, but Mac still has a stream-of-consciousness Christmas list, and I love that.  He can jump from a GoPro video camera to a rubber band rainbow loom bracelet maker to a pocketknife in less than 3 seconds as his brain spins and churns and turns at lightning speed and dips between childhood and adolescence.

5. To see compassion and charity and empathy in a little body turning into a great human being is such a remarkable gift to a parent.

6. Even though we don’t see our families often enough, Mac has such a love and appreciation for his family.  He’s very grounded in the fact that Moncks Corner is home for him no matter where this life takes us, and he’s always so excited to visit and see everyone.

7. For an 11 year-old boy, there’s not much that a little chat over a cupcake or throwing a ball in the park can’t fix. Why do we adults make it so much harder?

8. Having a child continually forces me out of my comfort zone.  Mac’s not (often) worried (yet) about embarrassing himself so he just puts himself out there.  As a parent, I want to protect him from doing something that I think poses a risk of failure or embarrassment, but he could care not one bit.  I know that’ll likely change once he discovers girls or realizes he can possibly fail at something, but I love to see how uninhibited he still is.

9.  Mac is old enough to make me turn around a block before school so he can walk in by himself, mature enough to realize that this practice is silly but necessary for him, and young enough to still let me kiss or hold his hand when there’s no chance anyone he knows will see us.  It’s a delicate balance!

10. I am now catching glimpses of life PH (Post Hormones).  The last year or two have been fraught with crying for no real reason and lots of hysteria and screaming.   It’s honestly been like having a prepubescent girl in the house. Only in the last couple weeks have I seen evidence of what life will look like on the other side of this.  Mac has calmed himself in what would have been red-hot situations before, and he’s presented viable solutions.  I think we’re going to survive this period.  Over and over again, I’m reminded as a parent that there are ebbs and flows in phases.  All you have to do is outlast the bad phases and the good stuff comes back along.     

11. The love that a mom has for her child is unlike any other.  I remember my grandmother telling me many, many years ago that she loved my grandfather, but that she’d lay down her life for her children.  I get that fierce love now.    

Happy Birthday Mac!  YOU ROCK!  I hope this year brings you every blessing you deserve.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Saga of Tippy

The other afternoon we got the following email from the apartment building's manager:

One of our resident's cats, Tippy, escaped this afternoon from their cat carrier in the garage on level P-2. The cat is a brown tabby. Please exercise extra caution as you drive through the garage. If you happened to see the cat, please contact the concierge with details regarding its location at 703-xxx-xxxx. We are working for a safe return of Tippy.

Poor little Tippy.  She escaped the cat carrier and was lost.  But don't despair for sweet Tippy.  The email below came the next day:

We are so happy to report that Tippy, the cat who was lost in our garage yesterday, was located and returned to her owner. Many thanks to all who aided in the search. It is amazing how this community comes together when one of our own is in need. Thank you for creating such a wonderful place to call home.

It almost makes you want to get a pet just to lose it in the garage.  You know, as a way of bringing people together.  So heartwarming.

Tippy and her mom were also appreciative because on the third day, the picture below showed up in the elevators:

You can all sleep well now, knowing that we live in that kind of building.