Thursday, April 08, 2010

Oy, The Guilt!

Sorry guys (or probably just mom at this point), I just can't seem to make it on here. My life just is not that interesting, or maybe it's so interesting that I have no time to blog about it!

So here's the deal: I'll be taking a break until the school year lets out in early June, then I will be back writing, but I'm going to take a stab at writing micro short stories on here, pure fictional of course, since fiction is most likely more fun to read (and write) then retelling of the minutia of being a suburban mom.

So until then, be well and I'll try and make it through the rest of the school year. Now off to write another report about phonological processes disorders....

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Trivial Pursuits

This weekend K. and I attended our second annual fundraiser for our kids' elementary school. It was a silent auction and trivia night extravaganza. A very fancy event hosted at the neighborhood American Legion. Oh yeah, 50 year-old linoleum floors with decaying walls and American flags in every direction. Kind of, I mean exactly, like this:



But that's just how we roll here in La Grange. For the event you pair up with three other couples, create a theme, ours' was "Beer Olympics" (not my idea - I was pushing for the vampire-inspired table) and compete not only for the smartest in the trivia department but in the most eye-catching table. Sadly our team did not win in either category, but we did place #4 in the trivia competition, out of about 40 tables. Not bad, not bad. Plus K. was the only person in the freaking room to identify the artist from this piece of art (sorry it's so small):
Can YOU name the artist? Well, neither could I but my genius husband could. (It's Banksy, btw, a British graffiti artist - duh).

What surprised us the most last year was the amount of booze brought into this event. I mean, I usually see all of these prim and proper stay-at-home moms at Girl Scout meetings and PTO events and their husbands are usually wearing their business suits. But this night, to see some of them, many of them, in outrageous costumes carrying in gallon bottles of Jack Daniels made me restore my faith that people aren't as uptight around here as I thought.

Now back to reality of preparing for the grueling week ahead, but I'll be smiling whilst making the lunches tonight.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I Just Need Something to Do

Okay, okay Mom, I know it's been forever since I've posted. Work's been killing me, the kids and their homework, activities and neediness has been killing me, combined with my other interests that lately take priority over writing, like knitting and reading and watching Angel on DVD. I guess there's just not enough time in the day, dammit.

So since so much time has passed, a few holidays have come and gone and while I have been having some fun lately with new and old friends, there are still many moments when I just don't feel like I belong in the Midwest. Or maybe it's just the suburbs where I don't belong. Or maybe it's just in an almost 4o year-old body. I'd much prefer to stay in my 20 year-old body and mind.

So an example of how sometimes I say to myself, "What the fuck?" happened the other night at swim practice. As I've mentioned before, last spring I joined a master's swim team and swim 2-3 times a week (okay, maybe it's more like 1-2) at the local high school. I thought I was fast, but man some of these other 40-somethings can blaze across the pool about a mile a minute without even taking a breath. It's very motivating to swim with such great athletes. This year I've ended up swimming with a small group of women who are slightly older than me and a heck of a lot faster. But I do my best to keep up without hyperventilating. On some nights, but not very recently, I share a lane with a dark-haired women, I'll call her Elaine. She and I are very compatible swimmers and I always have fun swimming with her - we push each other to swim at faster intervals and do a few more laps then the workout requires. She lives in the suburb next to mine which is well-known to be a little richer, a little whiter and a little snootier than mine. But whatever, she's nice enough. A while back she asked where I lived and I told her the name of my town. She asked, "Oh, do you know the _____'s?" "Sure," I responded, "Nina goes to school with their kids". "We used to own their house", she explains, "but we outgrew it". Now I've been to said house and it looked plenty big and beautiful to me.

So over the past few weeks "Elaine" hasn't been showing up for practice. Then one night last week she shows up, announcing she's been busy because she's just sold her house. "Wow - that was fast!", we all exclaimed. I immediately assumed that she's having financial trouble - I mean, the country is in a recession and all and perhaps her husband lost his job? "Why did you sell your house so quickly?" I pried, being my usual nosy self. "Oh, I don't know. It's really big and we fixed it up so perfectly and now it's done. We may just move to _____(neighboring and even richer and snottier suburb), or we may build something". Then she obliviously says, "I need something to do".

Gulp. Not to sound judgmental here but, honey, there's plenty to do besides spend money on yourself. Have you heard of that small earthquake that just devastated a place called Haiti? How about these people known as 'homeless' right next to your community? And, okay, if your not in the mood for a mitzvah, how about using your love of interior design working in the field? But life coach I am not, so I just simply stare at this woman with shock, dive in to the cool pool water and start swimming. I think I may have broken some personal records that night.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Days After Christmas Suck a Little

First there's the initial flirting - signs Christmas is coming. You start to see Santa's face peering at you in Walgreen's, the Halloween aisle at the Jewel is slowly replaced by red and green candies, then lots of cheap toys from China start to flood in. You start to get a little excited. Then at work, people start to talk of the holiday parties, the secret santa swap, and the treats start coming into the teacher's lunchroom. You're beginning to see what the fuss is all about. The kids start talking more and more about it too -wanting to watch that old dvd of Elf we have buried downstairs in the basement, scouring catalogs that arrive at the house for toys that will fulfill their dreams of a perfect Christmas.

Yes, pretty much since Halloween ended we have all been looking forward to Christmas. After Thanksgiving it was pretty much non-stop celebrating -cookie swaps, girl scout outings to sing to seniors at nursing homes, parties, drinking, eating, cooking, cute holiday cards flooding the mailbox everyday. Then, all of the sudden it's Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and now it's done. Not to say it wasn't the climax I wanted. It was great in every way. Sure, I missed my family and friends who live far away, but it was the first year where I felt as if I have really set down some roots here. But still, now it's done. All that's left to look forward for the next two months (or three or four) is snow and cold.

I guess instead of feeling all depressed that the holiday season is over (New Year's does not count for someone who has small children, unless you've got a babysitter which we're too broke to get at this point), I'll reflect on some of the highlights:

1) Our family got a karaoke machine.

2) I learned much more intimate details about neighbors and relatives thanks to a little over-drinking of the substance known as alcohol.

3) I get to relive my childhood by playing with my daughter's new dollhouse.

4) I got to eat lots of sweets and not feel guilty, since I will never eat anything bad for me again after Jan. 1st. Ever.

5)
I am in the middle of a two-week vacation from work. Although the term vacation is used loosely here, since I've been stuck inside a lot with two active youngsters.

6) But I love my adorable, healthy, sweet, smart children. Most of the time.

7) Ditto for my husband.


Happy New Year, everyone! I promise to write more in 2010!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Holiday Cheer

Happy holidays, friends and families and cyber-stalkers! I am feeling a little relaxed because today is the first official day of Winter Break! Actually where I live in the Midwest, they just call it Christmas Break. They also have Christmas trees in the public schools and show the old VH1 video of David Bowie and Bing Crosby singing “Little Drummer Boy” to the entire school:




But what the hell, it’s not hard to get into the holiday spirit and since I celebrate pretty much all the holidays, who I am to get offended? Plus, David Bowie?! Awesome!


Tonight will be my block’s first annual progressive dinner party, otherwise known as The 12 Drinks of Christmas (don’t worry, Ma, they’re non-alcoholic of course). We start off with five families trekking out in the snow and the cold and go to one house in our ‘hood, have a drink or two, nosh on some ridiculously caloric appetizer while the 13+ kids reap havoc in the freshly cleaned home and then, after 30 minutes have passed, we get all our gear back on (that should take about 10 minutes by itself) and go to the next unsuspecting house. Our house is number four so the kids should be either completely exhausted or completely wacked from sugar by the time they get there.


We’re lucky that we moved to a block with 16 or so kids and most of their parents are fun and like-minded enough to hang out with us San Francisco ex-pats. We even have another family on our block who also hail from San Francisco so we're extra lucky. Tonight will be a good opportunity to further bond with the neighbors.

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Epilogue:

The 12 Drinks of Christmas have come and gone. Many sweet red and green drinks were consumed; songs were danced to, including "The Teaches of Peaches" when the kids were far away, and general good times were had. Unfortunately keeping the kids up until almost midnight resulted in some cranky children for the past two days, plus someone in this house (not me, I swear) puked, but 'tis the season for celebrating!



Thursday, December 10, 2009

Syncronicity

Thanksgiving has come and gone, seems like forever ago now. We went up to Wisconsin and had an intimate dinner of 40+ people and although we didn't even sit at a formal dining room table but rather on chairs with plates on our laps, nor did we pass the "thankerchief" that Niko made at school, it was a great night. Here's the cast and crew who attended:

The kids once again got on their Persian outfits and danced for the adults - they sure know how to charm 'em!

But on a sadder note, my paternal grandmother, Lillian, passed away the week before Thanksgiving. She was 97 and we weren't very close, but I did feel a sadness about losing my last grandparent and felt very sad for my dad. It's never easy to lose your mommy, I can only imagine. So the day I found out that she had died, Nina brought home a book from school that she informed me she needed to read that night and there would be a quiz on it the next day. So we snuggled on the couch to enjoy the day's children's book, I'll Love You Forever.

For those of you who don't know this kid's book, it is a beautiful story of a mother's love for her child. We start reading this delightful tale of how, even though this cute little boy causes havoc at home throughout his toddler, child and teen years, at the end of each day the mom goes into her sleeping child's room, picks him up and sings to him about loving him forever. But then the story progresses. The boy turns into a man and leaves his mother's house. Still, she drives across town, brings a freaking ladder on top of her car, climbs up to her son's room and rocks him in his sleep. "This is sad," Nina whines as she's reading. Story continues: He gets married, she again breaks into his house to rock the giant man in his sleep. But then, turn the page, the man says goodnight on the phone because his mom is too old and sick to leave the house. Then, next page, the son is driving over to his mom's house. He goes into her room, picks up the shriveled up hunched over mama and rocks her to sleep, singing the same loving song. At this point I have tears running down my face. Nina looks at me, realizes I'm crying and then she bursts out in tears. We hug each other, sobbing profusely. Niko gets on the other side of me and we have an emotional experience, except Niko soon falls asleep on my bosom. We manage to finish the story and see that the son is now a father, and he holds his child and sings to her the same song his mother sang to him.

Now, I'm not the most spiritual person but the fact that she brought home that book on the same day my grandmother died is no coincidence. What it was I'm not sure, but ever since I've realized something important - I will die some day.

With that, happy holidays!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

All This Homework is Killing Me!

You'll notice in this picture of my adorable children that the boy is holding a teddy bear lovingly in his arm. Everyone, meet Barnaby Bear:

According to his over-priced and overly academic preschool, Barnaby has traveled all the way from England to "study abroad" with the children in suburban Chicago. Each weekend, a lucky student gets to bring the bear home and let him learn about our culture. This is surely exciting for the child. Yep, really cool. But for moms, at least this one, not so much.

First of all, there is a raging flu epidemic going around the country and the rest of the world (I think maybe even England!). But still, a germy, grimy stuffed animal is being passed from household to household where snotty, coughing, dirty preschoolers cuddle the bear like they gave birth to it. Does the bear get washed after each home visit? I do not have the answer to this question since my husband picked my son up from school on Friday. I smell the bear to see if I can detect germs via my olfactory sense. I do believe I smelled some germs, but at that point, Niko had been hugging and loving on the toy for a couple of hours already so the damage was done.

Not only do we have the germ bear in our house for the weekend, but there's homework that goes with it. We have to remember to take the thing everywhere we go, take pictures with it, get the pictures printed out and then make a collage with pictures and descriptions of all the fun and enriching things we did this weekend. And I use the "we" very loosely to mean my husband and I. So here it is Sunday night and Kaveh's scrambling to download the pictures, go get them printed while I try and think of things to write, in Barnaby Bear's first-person voice (English accent included) no less. Niko could barely remember what he did with his bear other than go down the slide with it, so I basically did the entire assignment and then coached Niko on what I wrote in case he was asked to summarize it in class tomorrow. I'm telling ya, preschool is no walk in the park these days!

And before the bear entered our life, I was helping Nina with an art project that was very loosely defined. She was given two milk jugs glued together and asked to make a character that the child would later write a story about. I have to say, Nina did most of the work - designed it, glued on the hair, drew the face, made the arms, legs, hands and feet. I just helped with the hot glue gun (from which I have a few third-degree burns to show). It turned out like this:


Pretty cute, eh? Sadly, I don't think some other students did much of the work themselves. Last week, when we were at Nina's school for conferences, we saw all of the other first grade's milk jugs. There was an Incredible Hulk that looked like it belonged in a museum, a horse back rider with a tailored jacket that fit the milk jug perfectly and another milk jug even lit up! Boy, some of those parents are really talented!
I bet they were the same ones who took Barnaby Bear to the opera.