Monday, April 30, 2012

So Very Thankful List

Man, it's been a while!  I don't like it when I allow so much time to go by between posts . . .

I'm taking a challenge from a fellow blogger that I love, You Know it Happens In Your House Too, to write about ten things I'm thankful for.  So here goes!

1.  I'm going to pile all the obvious ones in number one.  God, my healthy kids, my healthy husband, and the roof over my head.  All things I am of course grateful for, and I know how blessed I am.  Every day I hear about the struggles people have, with health, personal problems, or money, and I cannot believe how fortunate I am that my life is so easy.

2.  Airplanes.  The fact that people travel by air, freight is sent by air, and our military uses the air for travel and defense, coupled with the fact that they need someone in a room telling their pilots which routes to take to their destination, has kept my husband employed.  And his job has allowed me to stay at home with our kids and our home.  The freakish schedule he has had to work over the years has allowed us to have family time when most other families are working, which makes for quiet movie theaters, no waits at restaurants, and no lines at stores.  He is home during the day on some weekdays, which has allowed us to go on some daytime dates while the kids are at school, which is such a luxury!

Also, I guess it's nice that airplanes make for a much quicker trip to the coast.

3.  My state.  I live in the beautiful midwest, and I truly believe that Minnesota is the most beautiful state there is.  There must be something magic about it, because people don't seem to leave much, and if they do, they seem to come back.  My whole family is local.  By that I mean that my mom, all my siblings and their kids, and all my hubby's siblings and their kids (as well as his cousins) are all pretty close.  Nobody has left the state.  This has made for a huge pile of people at birthdays and holidays.  It's noisy, chaotic, and happy.  My kids are loved from every direction, and it's wonderful.  It adds so much to our lives.  I have built-in friends, a giant support group, and people to bring food to my house to parties so I don't have to cook everything.

4.  Target.  Folks, I know you're with me on this one.  I LOVE me some Target.  The cheerful red carts.  The smell of the place.  The fact that I know where every single thing is.  My Target.  I go to one that is relatively close to me, and relatively new.  It is not crazy busy.  The carts are quiet.  During the weekdays there aren't many happier places to be, especially since now I get to go child-free while they are at school, and just wander the aisles.  What?  Easter candy is 70% off?  I don't mind if I do!  And yes, I do need some new lights for my porch, thank you very much!  And I can get groceries here too?  Hello, Heaven!  And now that I'm a grisled veteran mom I like to smile at the moms who have little ones who are out of control.  I remember those moments all too well, and I know how much a smile helped me back then.  Funny how other people's screaming babies don't bother me at stores, but when I had babies I was convinced that if they cried in the stores that other shoppers would think I was a horrible mom.  We are so hard on ourselves!

5.    Television and my DVR.  Modern Family.  Breaking Bad.  Sons of Anarchy.  The Middle.  Parenthood.  Glee.  Grey's Anatomy.  Hoarders.  Blue Bloods.  Hawaii 5-0.  Young and the Restless (I guess).  New Girl.  The Office.  Parks and Recreation.  The Killing.  Parenthood.  Big Bang Theory.  I think I have a problem...

6.  Colorful pens.  I know writing is a dying art, but I LOVE sparkly and colorful pens.  I will use them every chance I get.  Grocery lists, signing kid's permission slips, writing the occasional check (yes, I still have to write one once in a while), random OCD to-do lists for myself, whatever.  I have an entire cabinet full of drawers for all my pens.  It's a sickness--I have them labeled pencils, colored pencils, gel pens, specialty pens, archival pens, sharpies, paint pens, etc.  I really do.  I'll take a picture if you don't believe me.  And it's not a small cabinet.

7.  Christmas.  Enough said.

8.  Music.  Music is a really big deal.  It is how I met my husband (and most of my friends, for that matter).  It is how I manipulate my mood when I need to.  It is how I get chores done.  It is memories.  It is in how I exercise, how I entertain, how I cook.  And iTunes and my iPod go hand in hand.  I love love love it.

9.  Cocktails and coffee.  I love a good mixed drink, or glass of wine, or cold beer.  And I love a good hot cup of coffee.  These are like little treats.  My coffee is my daily comfort, my morning friend.  I love my Kuerig.  I have a variety of coffees and creamers that make me feel like my own barista, and it's so lovely to brew a cup and go sit outside in the morning after the bus leaves.  It's my quiet time.  I also love to have a drink with a friend (and once in a while by myself with a favorite TV show).  These things make me remember that I am a grown-up, and that I have done my time, earned my spot in that chair with that drink.

10.  Friends.  This is a big one.  I have lots of friends, but very few really tight buddies.  The ones I do have are precious to me.  Whether they are related to me or not, they are my family.

11.  (I have to do one more.)  This blog.  I started doing this last August.  In that time I have worked through the illness and eventual loss of my dad, shared my insecurities and my parenting junk, and just babbled about the bizarre stuff in my brain.  It has been so therapeutic, so reassuring to see so many women out there who really are just like me.

So there it is.  And what a happy surprise to find that not only would I not have trouble coming up with ten, it would be very difficult for me to limit it to ten.  What a great exercise this has been, and I'd like to do it regularly, maybe especially when I'm in a funk like I have been.  So thanks for suggesting this, YKIHAYHT, and I'm so glad I found you!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Come Sit on my Porch!

My coffee in the morning tastes even better on my porch.  Hubby bought me new porch furniture!  I love that man!  So we put most of it together, and here's what it looks like as of right now:

Lovely so far, isn't it?  Thanks.  I still have to put the other side together.  Not to mention the fact that we still have to build the rail and seal the floor and finish the painting.  But who cares!  I can sit out there and be cozy.  I love it!  Now I need to have a porch party.

I was thinking about that yesterday, and how much fun it would be to invite a bunch of ladies over for drinks and treats and let the kiddos run around for a few hours.  It's almost that time of year, where we can fire up the grill and a pitcher of mojitos, and the ladies will end up sitting on the porch while the dudes all end up by the fire pit.  Warms my belly just thinking about it.

I've even been tossing around an idea in my head that I need something regular in my schedule for just me.  Like taking a class or joining a club or something.  I can't think of anything, so let me know if you have a suggestion.  I've always wanted to do pottery, but I don't want to end up needing my own pottery wheel or shop or kiln or anything.  Maybe a regular card game?  Bowling?  I don't know.  But the idea seems appealing to me.  I think I need that regular social connection.

I think I'm meeting up with a SIL or two for a movie this week while the kiddos are at school.  It's nice to have a buddy to go see the chick flicks with, where we can admire Zac Efron or Channing Tatum and imagine we're 22.  It would be nice if we could make this a more regular occurrence, but it's sad how life gets in the way.  No matter how much we talk about getting together more often, a month goes by in an instant.

It also makes me start to ponder the whole Country Mouse, City Mouse thing.  I wrote about it once, here.  When I look at my porch, and actually my whole place this time of year, I think I must be crazy to even think about it, but I can't help it.  Life would be so much easier in some ways if we lived in a neighborhood.  It wouldn't have to be as much of an effort to socialize with people.  Not just the kids.  J was invited to a buddy's house to play this past Friday afternoon.  Just for an hour and a half or two hours.  If we lived in town, this would be a non-issue.  But we don't.  So we have to haul him in to town and drop him off, figure out something to do for an hour or so (because it might not be worth it to just drive home and back so soon), and then pick him up.  There's no way we wouldn't do it, of course, invitations like these are rare and precious, but that's partly why.  My kids don't know anything about the culture of being able to ride your bike down the street and knock on your buddy's door.  I can't imagine how lovely it would be to have a hankering for a margarita on my porch, and be able to call my friend across the street to come over for one.  And she can just wear her jammie pants and slippers if she wants.  It really is something I miss.  And my kids don't know.

I even feel self conscious sometimes about living way out here.  I tend to not have little gatherings over here, because I feel bad asking people to drive all this way.  It's not like we live hours away from civilization, but it's 15-20 minutes to town, and 30-45 minutes to the city.  So I feel like if I want people over, I have to make it worth their while, and make it be a big shindig.  Even though I think my friends wouldn't mind coming out here even if it was to just sit at the table in their sweatpants.  I don't know why I feel like that.

Anyway, I have to mow the grass today, so I should go.  That's another thing:  Mowing is a whole different event here.  City folk just go out, pull the starter on the mower, and cut their grass for a half hour.  I have to put on my mowing uniform (giant overalls, gloves, iPod, hat, sunglasses and giant ear protectors), wander out to the building where the mower lives, climb on and drive it out.  I mow for a good 2 1/2 to 3 hours, all the while singing loudly along with my iPod--don't worry, nobody can hear me over the mower--plus nobody lives close enough to hear me.  It's actually rather enjoyable, but it's something I have to plan for.  Have a great day, folks!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


It's happening again.  My house is a wreck, and I can't seem to find the motivation to give it a good deep clean.  This is especially  distressing to me right now, because I can't even turn to Hoarders to get my motivation, since the show is in hiatus.  

Help!  As you all know, I have a belief that all of you live in perfectly clean houses, with nutritious meals cooked from scratch every night, laundry folded and put away, kids showered, with homework done and in bed reading at 8:30, so that you can enjoy a glass of wine with the hubby and then have wild sexy time after the kiddos are in dreamland.

How do you do it?  

I need to stop looking at Pinterest.  Or Real Simple magazine.  These things do nothing but convince me that I should be able to have a perfectly organized, spotless home decorated with all kinds of unique crafty art pieces and filled with delicious treats that are decorated to look like perfect little birds' nests.  

I am a 40-year old woman with a hubby and two boys.  I do an assload of laundry.  My boys CANNOT figure out, no matter how many times I tell them, that they need to put their dishes in the sink and their dirty clothes down the chute.  I can't seem to keep my own bedroom clean.  I do not make my bed every day.  I wear my hair in a ponytail almost every day because I have no motivation to spend any time on my hair.  I have trouble remembering when it's "hat day" at the boys' school or whether we've studied for spelling tests this week.  My hubby works many evenings, and most of the time when he does I fix something for the kids to have for supper, like refrigerated tortellini or hot dogs and mac and cheese, and they eat in front of the TV while I eat something else (like cantaloupe and chips) in front of the computer.  Many of their meals do not include all four food groups.  When hubby is home in the evenings, I make family meals and we eat together at the table.  About once every week or two.  The other times we are running around and end up at Noodles or somewhere like that.  I LOVE television.  I used to scrapbook, but haven't even done that in a couple years.  

When I entertain, my idea of fancy is putting the chips in bowls instead of leaving them in the bags.  I buy birthday cakes at the bakery.  There's booze here when there's parties here.  

I don't know.  I think I'm normal.  And I don't appreciate all the pressure I put on myself after I see all this stuff on Pinterest or in magazines, or even on morning news shows.  Because I know I'm not the only one! I have things about myself that I think are exceptional.  I'm REALLY good at ironing.  I make a mean Rice  Krispy Bar.  I mix a really yummy dirty martini.  I help my kids with their homework (and so does hubby when he's home) every night.  I say "I love you" to all 3 of my men about 100 times a day.  A homeless man in Santa Monica told me I had a beautiful laugh.  I believe him.  I can color better than anyone I know.  I am an excellent speller.  My kids absolutely love me.  My hubby thinks I'm hot.  

Pretty good, right?  So from now on, when I'm dorking around on Pinterest (because I know I won't be able to quit it), I'll be doing it for fun.  Not because I feel like I should actually make those recipes or do that level of gardening.  And I'm letting my subscription to Real Simple run out.  Because really, the title is even ridiculous.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"What's That, Sonny Boy?"

I'm going to be making some changes here at Flying by the Seat of my Pants.

No biggie to you guys, but hopefully a bit of a biggie to me.  Hubby was kind enough to purchase a domain name for me.  I will eventually be moving my blog over there, and I'm hoping y'all will follow me over.  It may be a while, though, because I'm trying to learn some things, and learning when it comes to computers is a slow process for me.  I am currently trying to learn about GoDaddy, Joomla, and iWeb all at the same time, and I'm completely lost.  So I stepped away, grabbed a beer, and decided to just write a post.  I'll let you know how it's going...

I had my second WW meeting this morning.  I lost over 2 pounds, all good.  The week felt great, and I'm starting to be proud of myself for jumping back on the wagon.  I can do this, right?!?

Yesterday A was telling hubby about a kid at his school.  There's this boy in his grade, all classes have them, the "it" boy.  He can run the fastest.  Everyone wants to be his friend.  He's good at sports.  He seems like he's got the world all figured out at the ripe old age of 10.  You know the kid.  Anyway, hubby and A were talking about some issues like popularity and cliques, and hubby was trying to give A some suggestions on how to talk to other kids, because he gets super self conscious.  Well, all of a sudden, A says, "Dad, that's not cool talk now.  That's cool talk from the 70's.  Nobody talks like that now."  I almost bust a gut laughing.

We are officially old and clueless.  Our kids are 9 and 10, going on 16 and 17.  And somehow overnight, hubby and I have crossed into old fogey status.  It's not like hubby was telling him that he should say, "hey, man, groovy threads!  Slide me some skin!"

I try so hard to stay in touch with the young person in me.  I feel like I still remember Elementary school better than most people do, and I can sympathize pretty well with what my kids are going through.  I try to not embarrass them, in fact, I try to blend into the background for them, just the way I wanted my parents to at that age.  I try to stay current with music and pop culture.  I don't worry too much about fashion, but that's because that ship sailed LONG ago.  But I can tell it won't matter.  I am old to them.  No matter how cool I think I am.

Everything is cyclical.  My parents had Elvis.  I had Madonna.  My kids have LMFAO.
My parents had Pedal pushers and teased hair.  I had acid washed denim and huge bangs.  My kids have cargo shorts and Aeropostale.
My parents had Little Lulu, I had Looney Tunes, and my kids have Spongebob.

It's all the same, really.  My parents knew the same crap I do, and my kids will think I'm clueless.  It's already starting.  I guess what goes around comes around.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

It's the Little Things

Yesterday I discovered that there may not be a happier sight than 9- and 10- year old boys at Dairy Queen laughing like idiots with ice cream all over their faces.

I love those little moments.

Funny how in that second, I felt completely content and happy.  And it's probably a moment the kids already have forgotten.  I started thinking about those times that do stick out in my memory, and how sometimes what seems insignificant to you at the time will just stick with you.  And how many moments do we have in our lives that seem so big that you're convinced they are practically life-altering, only to completely forget about it fairly quickly?

When I lived on campus during college, I lived right by some train tracks.  In a couple of big houses that were next door to each other that housed all college students, almost all marching band members, and all of us close friends.  It was a very happy, crazy time in my life.  There was one night when a very close friend of mine and I were awake way into the morning hours.  That happened often, of course, but this night was just a regular night.  No parties, nothing special, we were just chatting.  We decided to walk over to the bridge over the train tracks in the middle of the night, so we just got up and went.  I truly believe that's one of the most special things about college--that freedom.

We walked over and stopped at the middle of the bridge and sat down, our feet dangling down as we kept chatting.  A train came through, and I remember feeling like it was only a few inches from the bottoms of our feet.  He and I just watched it go under, eventually got too tired to stick around, and just went back home.  There wasn't anything that significant about that night, I had many crazier nights, for certain.  But I remember almost every detail about that night.  The way the train sounded, the cool night air, the way the bridge shook as the train went through, how comfortable I felt with my friend.  In that moment, I'm sure I didn't think anything of it.  But it ended up being significant to me.

That was about 20 years ago.  Yikes!

I'm thinking about my life, what were supposed to be the most significant moments.  It's funny what happens to our memories.

When I graduated from high school:  I have absolutely no memory of walking across the stage.  No memory of what my cap and gown looked like, even.  I remember my brother was in town, and we had to have a lock-in party all night at the high school.  We had to go.  I just wanted to hang out with my brother. I don't remember anything about the all-night party except that maybe I should kiss Kevin Abrahamson, even though I had a boyfriend!  I never did, but why is that what I remember?

My wedding:  I only vaguely remember walking down to the dock (we got married on a lake) in the processional.  I think most of the ceremony that I remember is only because of the pictures we have.  I remember walking off the dock after we were married and the hubby leaning over to whisper to me that he was going to push me into the lake.  He's hilarious.  And I remember laughing with all my friends.  And the wedding night, but that's for my brain only.

When my first baby was born, the thing I remember most is when they wheeled the bassinet in and it dawned on me that this wasn't only the end of a pregnancy, there was an actual baby at the end of all this that they were going to send home with me!  Holy crap!  I don't even remember the "it's a boy!" moment.

I think I have a point with all this.  We get so caught up in the drama of all our day-to-day crap.  With relationships, parenting, cleaning our houses, paying bills.  Sometimes it would do us all some good to take a break, sit down and really think about stuff.  What seems so critical, so life altering right now, might just be a blip in the radar.  Let yourself really be in the moment sometimes, smell the air, pay attention to those little things.  Because those are what are going to matter down the road.

Have a great day, folks.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Here Goes.

I get obsessive.  Anyone who knows me well will agree with this.  I just do, and I can't do anything about it.  It's hardwired into my brain, and rather than fight it I've learned, for the most part, to live with it and use it for the powers of good.

And right now I really have to embrace the obsessive side of myself, and give into it.  I might need your help along the way.

I have hinted over the course of writing this blog about how unhappy I am with the state of my physical health.  That's a very nice way to say I think I'm fat.  And to be blunt, I am.  I am overweight.  I am unhealthy.  I don't think it makes me a bad person, but it is something that I obsess about.  I live my life, take care of my kids, take (reasonable) care of my house, and wear a smile on my face when I can, but there is never a 60-second period of time in the day when I am not mentally berating myself about how fat I am or how unappealing I am.  Even though I know how unhealthy that is, how twisted, and I know enough to never allow my kids to know I'm feeling that, I haven't been able to stop it.  Lately, it has led me to a point where I feel like I'm allowing myself to enter a real depression.  Like the kind you need medication for.

Over the years, since right after I got married, actually, I have battled the bulge.  I have lost and gained over and over, each time gaining a little more, losing a little less.  It has spiraled to the point where I had almost given up.  Embraced the muumuu and tried to convince myself that I was meant to be chubby, there are lots of women heavier than me who seem to be pretty happy in their lives, even wearing clothes that I would never feel comfortable wearing, and actually looking just fine.  But I just can't reach that acceptance level, and I find myself just draping on baggy clothes (as if that makes people think I'm so tiny, that clothes must be just all too big for me--I have them all fooled!).

Now, I am not morbidly obese.  Although recently they (I don't know who "they" are, I just saw the story on the news) announced that guidelines have changed, and they are going now by percentage of body fat as well as overall BMI, so people that used to be considered "overweight" may now be considered "obese".  Great.  I do NOT want to know where I fall on the new, "improved" scale.  So even though I know I am not morbidly obese, and probably fall in the relatively "normal" range of American 40-year old women, I know I need to get healthier.  And I have got to find a way to stop beating myself up on a constant basis.  The only way I can see to do that is to get healthier, more fit, find some pride in something about myself.  By the way, this news came out on the same day that I got an e-mail from AARP about joining.  WHAT?!?!?  Good lord.

I joined Weight Watchers for the first time in the spring of 1998.  I had gained weight quickly after I got married, which I have been told is the sign of a happy marriage.  Mine must have been pure bliss, because it came on fast.  So I joined, and it became like a drug to me.  The counting points, the meeting, the weekly appointment with the scale, it fed into my obsessive personality.  And since my life was finally pretty easy, I think I was searching for something to obsess about.  I lost 35 pounds, rather quickly, and felt like I was on top of the world.  It felt sooooo good.  I was within 5 pounds of my goal weight when I quit.  I remember standing on the scale at a meeting, and my Weight Watchers leader saying, "you know, you could make this your goal weight."  Because it was a healthy weight.  And I had been stuck on it for 2-3 months.  She was trying to be positive, encouraging.  I quit.  I chalked it up to her not believing I could make it, so why bother?

Looking back, I know that the reason I quit was because I was weary of the obsession.  I was tired of constantly having to be aware of how much I was eating, what I was eating, how many points things were worth, how many points I had left to eat in the day, and on and on.  And I figured I already knew what I was doing.  I didn't need to go to the meetings any more.

I gained all the weight back.  Plus some.  Quickly.  And since then, I have been back and forth 6 or 7 times.  Had two successful pregnancies that tacked more weight on, and yo-yoed back and forth too many times.

Every time I go back, it's for the same reasons:  I'm fat.  I can't do it on my own.  I'm tired of obsessing about how fat I am.

Every time I quit, it's for the same reason:  I'm sick of the program, it's not working fast enough, I can do it on my own.

Recently, I had been playing with the idea of going back.  Again.  Hanging my head in shame, and walking AGAIN through those doors.  I have gone to locations all over the place, partially to find a fresh group or fresh leader, partially to avoid the shame of walking into the same meeting place with familiar faces, mine puffier than the last time.  I decided not to go, because I knew how obsessive I get about it, and besides--losing weight is just math anyway, right?  Calories in have to be less than calories out.  I have my treadmill up and running, it should be a piece of cake.

But a piece of cake turned into an entire cake, plus way too much other stuff, and I could tell I was completely and totally out of control.  It's that old spiral that way to many of us women have:  I feel so fat that I'm going to go hide in a pint of ice cream/bag of chips/pizza/hostess cupcakes (pick your drug of choice) to make me feel better.  Great.  Logical, though, especially during that one week of the month...

So I changed my mind.  I decided, over the course of a week, that I needed to go back.  I'm like an alcoholic, and the WW meetings are like my 12-step program.  And last Tuesday I went back to a meeting.  At my old meeting spot.  There's a new leader now, and only one remaining member from my old group.  I was nervous the whole way there.  I thought I would have that shame-y feeling, like "here I am again, a failure again".  But it felt good.  Reeeaaaally good.  The chairs felt good to sit in.  The people around me (who are now my new support group) were welcoming, and I felt like I was in the right place.  The program has shifted a bit, but that's good, because it feels new.  I even found out that I weigh 10-20 pounds less than I thought I did.  I do NOT step on a scale anywhere but those meetings.  Another obsession.  I even stand backwards on the scale at the doctor so I don't have to see the weight.  Denial, anyone?  Why yes, I'll have three helpings please.  And some more cake.

After the meeting I stayed for the new member orientation.  My leader asked me why I was returning.  I told her it was because I was tired of being obsessed with how fat I feel.  I also told her I have quit before because I get tired of obsessing over the program.  And then it hit me:  which obsession is better? Duh.  She asked how I was going to keep myself from quitting again.  My husband?  I said no, he would not be good.  Hubby is so sweet and careful, he would NEVER suggest anything about my weight.  If I want to quit, he'll just quietly support me.  Even though he's so proud of me right now for trying.

So there it is, people.  That's what I need you for, and hopefully this blog will help me too.  I've never done the program since I've had my blog until now, so it might be another tool to help me.  I can update my progress on here, and keep myself accountable.  And if I'm falling off the wagon, hopefully some of you will help me climb back on.

This is a big deal for me.  Not joining WW, been there done that, but putting it out there for all of you.  I've always felt torn about talking about it.  I've even tried keeping it a secret from my family before.  It's hard when you jump into something, and people know you're trying it, and then you fail.  I do that way too often.  I've tried to do it before without telling anyone, so that if I fail they won't know.  That seems counterproductive.  So I'm putting it out there.  Yes it may mean I will have to endure comments about what I'm eating, questions about my progress, and the uncomfortable once-overs.  But I have my group to whine about that to, and in the end, that's not a big deal.  I'm doing it for me, not them.  I need to grab onto something I feel like I can succeed at.  And actually succeed.  I want my hubby and kids to be proud of me.  I want to be proud of myself and not so hyper self-conscious.  I want to feel like when people see me, they don't notice my chub first.  I want to wear cute clothes and feel good about it.  I want to feel like letting my husband really see me.  With the lights on.  I know!

So can you stick this out with me?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Easter In The Air

Tomorrow is Good Friday.  The kids don't have school.  So today will be sort of like a Friday here.  I can already tell I'm ready for school to be done.  It feels nice to have summer, when the kids can sleep in as long as they want, run around outside all day, not worry about homework.  We have baseball, and this year we start with music lessons.  That's it.  Swimming at Gramma's pool.  Grilling.  Mowing.  I have such a rough life.

Of course, by August I will be eagerly anticipating the beginning of school, but that's then.  This is now.

And Easter is this weekend.  I love Easter.  I love it because it is such a happy holiday.  It symbolizes new beginnings.  It started with the Resurrection, the ultimate New Beginning.  And now it includes Spring, new life outside, warmer weather, later sunsets, lakes thawing, birds singing, coloring eggs, family traditions, mimosas and chocolate.  Ahhhh.  And spring cleaning!

I'm hosting Easter dinner this year.  That's with hubby's side of the family.  My side of the family has Easter brunch, and this year that will be at my brother and SIL1's house.  It will be a full weekend.  I have GOT to clean my embarrassing house.  Saturday we go to Gramma's to dye Easter eggs.  This is a tradition that has been going on since I was a small child.  Every Saturday night before Easter we dye eggs.  We do a LOT of them.  And some of them get pretty extravagant.  The crayons, the steel wool, the paper towels for tie-dying.  I don't know that I've ever gone a year without dying eggs, even if I've done it by myself a couple times.  This year will be a bit bittersweet, since it's the first one without my dad, and he loved doing eggs.  Every year he would only do 2 or 3 for the whole evening, but he'd make an art project out of them. Except for one, which he would simply dye one color after writing "EGG" on it in crayon.  He thought he was so funny.

The Easter bunny still comes Saturday night, and hides eggs all around the house.  The kids will get up in the morning and run around collecting them all, and then have way too much candy before we even get out of the house in the morning.  Then church and off to brother's house, where we have brunch.  Ham and all kinds of brunch-y things.  Bloody Mary's and mimosas.  Yummy.  The kids will have no appetite because of the horrifying amount of chocolate they will have already consumed.

Then we race home to get our own hams in the oven, and do last minute preparations for the 25 or so people that will be descending on us for our Easter Dinner.  Hopefully we will have good weather, because that's what makes Easter here fun.  The kids ride around on the golf cart all evening, people sit around the fire pit, a football gets tossed around.  It's so relaxing.  More food.  Deviled Eggs.  Cupcakes.  Music.  Kids running around yelling, chasing, shooting Nerf darts, hiding, giggling.  Pure joy.

I know exactly what it's going to be like, except for the random hiccups that happen every year (Like when we found out some of the eggs we dyed were never hard-boiled--that was a fun surprise).  And I LOVE the predictability of it.  That's what traditions and family is for.  There's so much comfort in it all.  I think that's mostly why I love holidays so much, why I love having people over at my house.  I feel like all that chaos and noise echoes in my house long after everyone leaves, absorbing into the walls, adding to the happy feeling of my home.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Band Meeting

Last night there was a meeting for parents of current fourth graders about band.  Those students who are interested will start band next year, or this summer if they want to take summer lessons.  It's time for them to pick out their instruments.

As a MAJOR band geek myself, I know the weight of this decision.  I was in band.  It was the single most important decision I made, growing up, to join the band.  But in the beginning, I made the wrong choice.  When I was going into 5th grade, I chose the clarinet.  No offense to any of you clarinet-ists out there, I know it is a fine instrument for some people.  I chose it because it had so many lovely shiny valves on it, and probably because it wasn't very heavy.  But I hated it, almost from the very start.  And I had to keep it up (we weren't allowed to quit things very easily in my family) for two years.  Finally, when I started junior high in 7th grade, I was allowed to let it go.  But I really missed band.  And my brother was very successful with his trombone, and he was loving band.  He joined the marching band, and I ached to be a part of it as well.  So at the end of my 9th grade year, I joined the marching band, in the color guard (flags).  And I found my home.  I wasn't thrilled about the flags, but I loved the band.

Then, in 10th grade, I made the big decision.  I joined the drumline.  Mostly because the boy I was dating at the time was a drummer, and I knew I could just play the cymbals or something.  And in my high school, if you didn't play an instrument in the band, it was over for you once the marching season was over.  I couldn't bear that, and needed to find a way to stay in.  But something strange happened.  I picked up a pair of sticks and messed around on those fascinating percussion instruments, and discovered that I wasn't half bad.  It was the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE that I found a bit of natural talent at something.  I can't tell you how many sports I tried and failed miserably at...  but here I was.  I might have found something.  The percussion instructor recognized some potential in me, and called up my mom and told her she might want to get me some private lessons.  And I dove into those lessons.  They were hard, and I worked my butt off.  When I wasn't at school, I was practicing.  The high school I attended had an excellent marching band, state champions many times over, and I had to be good if I was going to make the line on the instrument I wanted so badly.  And I did.  I played the "quads" in the marching band, also known as tenors.  The heavy set.  I loved every single second of it.  And then when marching was over, I learned everything I could learn about concert percussion.  I fell in love with the tympani, took lessons on that.  I lettered in band my first year.  Holy cow, I was sort of good at something.  It fed me.

Then we moved to Minnesota.  I attended a high school, my senior year only, where marching band was merely an inconvenience.  They didn't put much into it.  I was very disappointed, but I soon discovered that I had found my way into one of the best high school concert bands I've ever seen.  So I was lucky to play challenging concert percussion with them, tympani, snare, any part I could get my hands on.

I attended the University of Minnesota.  My freshman year I made the drumline, on my beloved quads.  For four years I marched with them, was able to go to football games, travel to other Big 10 colleges, play at hockey and basketball games, University events, parades.  I made dear friendships.  I met my future husband.  It was everything to me.

Band gave me a home.  It gave me pride.  In my school and in myself.  It helped with my grades.  My motivation.  My discipline.  My social life.  Without it I don't want to know what my high school life would have been like.  In every way, my life has been enriched from it.

I know this doesn't have to come from band.  It can come from sports, from theater, whatever.  But I firmly believe that kids have to have something.  Something outside of the day-to-day drag of school.  For me and for my hubby it was band.

And sitting there at that meeting last night, I could look around at all these potential band members, at the ripe age of 10, and see many of their futures.  And they look bright and fun.

They need to pick out their instruments.  They can change them if they discover they don't like them much, so it's not that critical, but your instrument (if you really stay with band) will start to mold your personality.  Seriously!  Last night one of the band teachers that was presenting at the meeting was talking.  I leaned over to the hubby and whispered, "I guarantee she's a french horn."  He smiled and nodded.  Sure enough, a few minutes later, she announced that she played the french horn for decades.  Nothing wrong with the french horn, mind you.  I'm just saying that a true band member can name your instrument after only a few minutes of getting to know you.  With almost certain accuracy.  Almost like a dog owner sometimes starts to resemble their pet, a band member grows into their instrument.  It's pretty cool, actually.

I look at my kids and I can't really tell what feeling I get yet about their instrument.  But I don't think it's going to be a clarinet.