Nailed It!

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Or, What I do after spending two hours shopping for a new swimsuit.
I took Veruca with me on that shopping excursion, because she needed to return a pair of wedge sandals she’d worn once and the strap broke. She brought another $100 bill to spend (seriously, this kid is wealthier than me) and proceeded to shop for herself for forty minutes while I reminded her that we had come for me. I won’t rehash the shopping-for-a-swimsuit experience, except to say that having her along for this excursion – laughing at me in the fitting room – did nothing for my self-esteem. But at least I was able to laugh at myself.

Veruca is constantly coming up with ideas. Yesterday’s was recreating cupcakes from this cupcake book my mom gave her. Against my better judgment, and after the trauma of seeing cellulite in places that never existed before and 3-mile run to “fix” it, we had at it.

Pages and pages of great cupcake decorating ideas to rival my friend Pinterest. We decided on “TV Dinner.” Each cupcake was decorated to look like a different part of it – peas and carrots, mashed potatoes, a drumstick, and a brownie.

The brownie was easiest, even though after reading the instructions more closely I learned that it was actually supposed to be chocolate pudding. “Peas and carrots” was easy too, though I wouldn’t recommend eating it. The drumstick was tough to do. The kitchen was hotter than a New York subway, in spite of central air, so the frosting was a little too soft, and the whole thing just slid. Refrigeration might have helped, but at this point I was toast and just wanted to be done. Someone asked what the thing with the bone was supposed to be. Don’t judge. I never said I was crafty. I didn’t buy an aluminum pan to place them in, which might have looked cooler, but I improvised.

I think the mashed potatoes turned out the best, but you be the judge.

I’m thinking we might try to make “Spaghetti and meatball” today.

 

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I Was Driven By This Intense Need

I was driven by this intense need. We all have them. We don’t always want them, but we have them. My intense need had to be fulfilled. The warm summer sun on my skin always makes it more intense. And this year, as I continue to advance through my 40s, the intensity was even more elevated than in years past. I’ve heard of many women in their 40s with the very same need, so I know I’m not alone.

Today I did something about it. I showered and dressed myself in cool and easy to remove clothes, and a pair of flip flops. The last thing I wanted to be doing was struggling with shoe laces in the heat of the moment.

When I arrived, I was overwhelmed by the lights and sounds. And the choices. I told myself I was going to get lucky this time. Still, my heart was pounding and my nerves of steel went to jelly. I could feel anxiety fill the pit of my stomach. I was worried about the moment.

I wandered around trying to breathe evenly. I didn’t want to be overeager, yet I didn’t want to appear not to know what I was doing either. It took a while, but I finally made my way into the back.

Again, I tried not to appear too nervous. I was afraid people might stare. I walked slowly but with calculated steps…. I was not going to back out now. I stepped in and closed the door, preparing myself for whatever might come. The light was too bright. I prefer softer lighting for these intimate moments.

I averted my eyes as I peeled off my top, and then my shorts. The pit in my stomach grew larger. I quickly and chastely removed my brassiere, keeping my eyes lowered. This is it! No turning back now.

I felt it against my skin, tugging at my stomach and chest. It was so tight. I struggled against it, until finally I was satisfied that I had done it. I was covered in sweat. And that’s when I looked up.

The horror! Another year older, another stone heavier, and holy shitballs I need a larger more supportive different housedress swim suit!

50th Anniversary

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Copyright O.J.A., 1966

The party’s over. Months of planning, weeks of minor stress, and a few hairy last minute days all culminated into a beautiful June day. The weather was picture-perfect – the sun was warm and bright, and a mild breeze kept everyone cool under the tent.

On a cold dreary day in January, as I sat at little wicker dinette in Todd’s friend’s kitchen, I called my mother-in-law to chat about this party that was a mere date on the calendar. We talked for over an hour, while she told me what kinds of foods she’d like and I talked about how we could incorporate all those things into a manageable menu. We talked about music, and about yarmulkes stitched in gold, and flip flops for the ladies, who to invite, and whether I was sure I wanted to take this on.

A 50th anniversary party might as well be a wedding. Having personally planned two myself, this was roughly the same level of time commitment, and planning. There was the usual hmm-ing and hawing while choosing the invitation design, and then when the RSVP deadline passed and we had to chase down those who hadn’t RSVP’d. What IS it with people who can’t be bothered to just say no? This is par for the course in wedding planning, and came as no surprise… I had figured that the following Monday was going to be spent nailing down the head count.

There was no way this could be a surprise party… we wouldn’t have known all the people to include, not to mention addresses, and I know my mother-in-law would want to wear a fabulous dress and be the belle of the ball. And she was.

Todd’s parents were married on a sunny June day in 1966, in a backyard wedding. The idea to host the party in our backyard seemed apropos… except this time I planned to order a tent and tables and chairs and have my mom’s restaurant cater it. There was much ado over food, but we settled on an hors d’oeuvres table for the guests on arrival – hummus, marinated mushrooms, roasted red bells, fresh mozzarella, Boursin, deviled eggs, vegetarian spring rolls, and what my Mil called traditional-at-Jewish-parties potato knishes and pigs-in-a-blanket. (Side note: My mom’s hummus, and my great-grandmother’s deviled eggs are to die for.)

The 10 tables were set for eight each, with white linens and my Pinterest-inspired centerpieces. Special thanks goes out to Veruca and Nephtoo for placing them carefully on each table for me. The bar, which was meant to have a “tender,” was loaded with a bottled beer selection, white and red wines, sodas, and freshly brewed iced tea. While Todd and I poured a little, eventually the bar became self-serve and it was just fine that way. I chose not to have any “servers” since we had a buffet – our chef, sous chef, and Stevie B (our wayward waiter) rolled out the food and the cleanup and did a fantastic job.

The guests arrived and mingled – I welcomed everyone as I could, while Todd was nowhere to be found. It was another of our parties where the two of us barely saw each other until it was over. I love socializing, and yet am always disappointed in retrospect over missing Todd. This time we stole a few moments to kiss and hold hands, and actually look each other in the eye. It was, after all, not our party.

We hired Bobby Newton for live music, and he was ever the entertainer – though our crowd was bit too low-key and no one but my in-laws (and my dad and stepmom for a Twist contest) danced the entire three hours. I was looking forward to dancing, but never made it out there and – after just an hour of walking in my 4-inch heels (which took me two days to recover from) – was barefoot in my backyard the rest of the day.

The happy couple renewed their vows by each reading a prepared speech, introduced by our dear friend and occasional minister, Rabbi, and bartender, Robbie Radikal. The speeches were wonderful and Mil’s anxiety over her own was unwarranted. Todd later gave a toast that I completely missed. I was changing Veruca’s pump cartridge which was nearly empty (this has never happened). I’m still looking for any footage of this toast, but I’m coming up empty.

The food: Jamaican Jerk chicken, roasted beef sliced thin and served with all the fixings, poached salmon, grill-roasted vegetables over bulgur wheat, Mom’s homemade killer potato salad, and a romaine, Boston rib, and baby field green salad. We had a shit-ton of food and nearly as much left over. My in-laws took a great deal home, but we were eating the rest from our two refrigerators for a week.

And no party is a party without dessert: I ordered a giant sheet cake which was cheap and delicious and I’m not ashamed. I love those cakes. They’re especially good with coffee for breakfast the next day. And the next, and the next…

Auntie M brought a plethora of desserts – little cakes and tarts – from a place in Baltimore, and there were three boxes that never made it out to the dessert table. Mil had personally baked her killer brownies and this other dessert made with sugar cookies and raspberries to put out – and two of the four pans were never opened. I took the remainder to the restaurant for “the kids” to eat and they annihilated it before the first customers arrived for the rush.

It was a great party. Opac even dressed in a shirt and tie, with a matching fedora, for the event – though he disappeared at some point and I’m not sure whether he ever ate. Our guest bathroom looked pretty good, all things considered (another post for another time, perhaps) – and since the guy said it was filled to the top, thank GOD we had the septic tank pumped two days before. I had about two glasses of wine over the four hours so I didn’t get tipsy, although someone bumped me and I still managed to spill wine on my dress.

The after-party. My mom and Auntie M had planned to stay over. The drinking commenced after the last guests said their goodbyes, and we all changed out of our party clothes. Well, except for Robbie, who was already dressed for a Jimmy Buffett concert. For some unknown reason my mom decided to order a PIZZA at 10 p.m., which was devoured by all of us in record time.

I don’t know when we all went to bed, but it was the perfect end to a perfect day, followed by a marvelous breakfast of leftovers.

 

Dad

 

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It’s taken me a very long time to sit down and write this. It’s difficult to explain – it’s not anything bad or to suggest indifference, but I just can’t seem to put this relationship into words. Or, maybe, I just don’t want to share it with anyone else.

In brief public statements, I have often said he’s the first man who ever loved me. It’s cute – and meant to be – but it is also the truth. To a little girl, the first man to love her will set the standard for all her expectations in the future. It is an awesome responsibility and, while there are a great many who met the challenge, there are also many who fell short whether by intention or by virtue of being broken themselves. I wanted to acknowledge the latter, because I have a few friends who feel let down by the first man they put their trust in. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

I was an accident. Accident – because my mom and dad were dating and they were 19, and “apparently” they weren’t thinking about the consequences of certain actions. They were in love, I guess, and in the late 60s people got married under these circumstances. To make a short story even shorter, the marriage didn’t last.

Statistically, divorced fathers of children under the age of 5 are at a very high risk of not being involved in their children’s lives, or abandon them altogether. I was lucky.

The first man who loved me, loved me from the start. (And if he didn’t – no one ever told me any different.) I was lucky.

My dad was there for me. I never had a doubt of this – at any part of my life. I have snippets of memory of a life lived with him, when I was very small – more mundane than worth writing about, and mostly snapshots of the home I don’t remember.

He gave me the greatest, most enduring gift a father can give, besides his own love and support – he gave me my family. I am 75-and-one-quarter percent who I am because of them. They are my most valuable treasure.

Dad and I spent every Sunday together. We spent time with my grandparents and aunts and uncles. He taught me how to swim before I could walk. He taught me how to play pool and basketball.

He took me on wonderful adventures. He took me on a twin-engine plane ride. We went ice skating. We visited Washington, D.C. and New York City. We spent many summers at the Jersey Shore, and he posed for an Old-Time photo with me when I was 13.

We went away a couple of times to spend long winter weekends in the Catskills at a friend’s house, where I fed birds and deer from my hand, went tobogganing with the other kids, and walked across frozen ponds on rope bridges.

For my 10th birthday, he took me on my first jet plane to Orlando – to visit the wonderful world of Disney. The following year we drove to Orlando, making stops in Colonial Williamsburg and South of the Border, where I got a toy toilet that squirted water when I lifted the lid.

My dad took me to my first day of college, where he and my mother put aside their decade-old acrimony to smooth my transition. He supported my decision to transfer to a big city university two years later. He gave me the freedom to have no clue what I wanted to be when I grew up, so long as I chose something, which of course would never be set in stone forever.

He taught me to never be a quitter. He tangled with the tantrum years and the teenaged angst. He showed me his vulnerability when his father passed away, and it never scared me – but made me realize he was still just a [hu]man with a dad he dearly loved. He showed me how to honor family, by being there for his mother.

He walked me down the aisle of my first wedding, and gave me away to a man who wasn’t half the man he was. And when that marriage imploded, he took me into his home and gave me a sanctuary, held me when I cried, and talked me down off the ledge. He sat in the courtroom behind me. He is my greatest defender, perhaps eclipsed only by Todd today, and I know he is grateful if that’s a fact.

On the day I married Todd, he was there – silently standing at the back of the district courtroom. He didn’t walk me down the aisle, not because I didn’t want him to, but because he had taught me that I could stand on my own. On the day of our celebration, he hugged me and with a tear in his eye told me he loved Todd and was so glad he was my husband – and I knew to the core of my soul that he meant it.

We don’t get to see each other as much as I’d like, but we have frequent phone calls that I cherish for the laughter we share in those moments – the humor I inherited from him – we never have to explain what’s funny to each other.

I suppose I haven’t written about him because I cherish him so deeply, and I don’t really want to talk about it. Those who know me well, know the nature of our relationship, and I don’t have to explain it. It’s amazing. He has this ability – which I don’t think he’s aware of – of knowing when I need him, and he just shows up.

I don’t know what else to say. There’s so much more and I ramble too much. I also worry that I can’t do him justice.

He is my dad. I love him more than anything, and I am so blessed that God chose him for me.

 

9 Years

9 years today. Nine years ago last night, I went to sleep on my last night of uninterrupted sleep. Ever. It’s been 9 years since that fateful day in 2007, the day after Father’s Day, the day my 2-year-old daughter woke up lethargic and drowsy. Nine years ago I drove her to the pediatrician, who took one look at her finger stick and sent us straight to the ER.

Over the last nine years…

My daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis). While “only” 416, her blood glucose was four times the normal level. She spent a total of five days (two in NICU, and 3 in endocrine) in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

She started with a Nazi regimen of NPH insulin and Novolog, and eventually switched to Lantus and Humalog. (The two “logs” are fast-acting insulins; the other two were for managing basal glucose levels.)

At age 3, she got her first insulin pump from Animas. At the time we lived in PA, and were blessed to have Medicaid pay for all but $1000 (what our primary insurance only paid for!) of the nearly $6000 pump.

I have fought countless battles with her over shots, pump set changes, and food.

I’ve watched her sleep many nights, and I’ve awakened her hundreds of times when she falls asleep in the car.

She has endured over 49,275 finger sticks, roughly 2,190 insulin shots, approximately 1,664 site changes for her pump, and 9 complete metabolic panels. How many 11-year-olds have CMPs every year?

We’ve been told a cure is only “five years away.” Several times.

We’ve walked in two JDRF walks. My mom, and her restaurant and her wonderful customers have raised over $10,000 for the JDRF in the last 2 years.

I joined Facebook and found a handful of moms like me who understood the daily battle.  And, a few years later, I met a handful-more fellow warriors I am grateful to count as friends. Whether face-to-face, a phone call, or just a click away – they are ALL valuable to me. I can’t imagine not having this support.

She was diagnosed with yet another endocrine disease – hypothyroidism – two years ago, and has added another medication to her arsenal. She endures biannual blood tests to monitor this condition, not always coinciding with the CMP.

We moved out of state and into a new school system – nervewracking in itself but magnified by a child who requires extreme vigilance away from home. I cannot say enough how instrumental our school nurse was in smoothing the transition for Veruca and relieving my anxiety over her safety. I trusted Jane with my daughter’s life, and I’d do it all over again.

I woke up every two hours during the first four years, and after my divorce found that I only needed to wake up twice per night to check on her. So, that’s twice per night for the last 5 years. Well, except for the nights she spends with her dad… though I wake up spontaneously around 3 a.m. even on those nights.

I participated in the development of a new Maryland State Guidelines for Diabetes Management in Schools, due out July 1st. This was huge. I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute to something so important.

 

Nine years later…

CGMs are the norm with many of the children I’ve encountered, which allow a virtual window into the minute-by-minute changes in blood sugars.

The Artificial Pancreas and the Bionic Pancreas are systems currently being tested that will ultimately manage blood glucose levels without the constant intervention and monitoring by the patient.

At least two organizations are working on cell-pouch technology which would introduce a semi-permeable “pouch” containing beta cells (insulin-producing cells) which would [hopefully] effectively respond to the individual’s blood glucose levels, and ultimately eliminate the need for insulin. Via-Cyte, in partnership with JDRF, is currently running clinical trials in San Diego.

We seem to be closer than ever to a “cure,” and yet still so far away.

Veruca, at age 11, has no memory of a life before diabetes. But nine years later, she’s begun to say the words I knew I’d hear someday. She “hates diabetes.” She just wishes she was “normal.” “Why doesn’t Opac have diabetes?”

She still sneaks food or eats without bolusing (giving herself insulin to cover it). This will be an ongoing battle with her.

She attended her first birthday party without me last fall. This precipitated her first cell phone, and she used it to keep me updated.

She finished her elementary career this month, and we are looking ahead to middle school and the independence it requires.

She counts carbs and boluses for them. She knows how to change her sites, even though she still prefers I do them. She is more independent than ever with handling her diabetes, and giving me some confidence that she’s “got this.” At least right now.

 

 

Closure

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My ex and I had one pet we acquired during the marriage – a beautiful Golden Retriever we adopted in April the previous year. Rosco was intended to be the family pet, but in the end he became my dog as the early months progressed and I was the sole caregiver to him. He followed me everywhere. He slept on my feet as I washed up the dishes each night after dinner, while the kids played in the living room and their dad was out “running leads.”

Two weeks after the divorce became final, my ex attacked me late one night after I came home from working in the restaurant. I ended up leaving the home and moving into my dad’s house with the kids. I returned each morning after I dropped the kids off at school to do my schoolwork until school let out and spend time with Rosco, because I knew my ex wouldn’t be home. One day I came in and found him gone. Subsequent texts revealed only that he had been given to “a good family.” He never told me where Rosco went. I was devastated. All I could think about was that this dog had loved me – I was his person – and one day I left and he never saw me again. It was terrible and my heart was broken.

I learned later that Rosco was with my ex’s father. Good or bad, ultimately this was the best I could hope for, since my lawyer couldn’t seem to negotiate a return of the dog without it costing me even more money I didn’t have. At least I knew the kids would still be able to see “their” dog. They had no idea how I felt.

It’s been over 4 years. I have thought of him periodically, with a heart aching to see him and touch him, to wrap my arms around his big soft body and tell him I love him. For what it’s worth, I know my ex-father-in-law and despite my personal feelings I know that he loves that dog with everything he’s got. He himself got divorced, lost his home (no sympathy there, believe me), and lost all four of his Goldens to old age and illness during this time. Rosco is his constant companion. Still – I needed to see this boy and find some sense of closure I desperately needed.

By coincidence, I finally got to see him last week. Todd warned me not to expect too much. He was worried I’d be upset if Rosco didn’t know me.

In truth – I considered both scenarios. One where he recognized me and got really excited, and one where he only sniffed at me with curiosity and no memory of the “mom” he once hid behind when he was scared of something. I was mentally prepared for both. I knew that either way he was no longer mine and I was okay with that…. and I was okay with whatever happened.

Humans have these stupid emotions that dogs just don’t feel. Dogs don’t hold onto memories the same way we do. But in my mind – I couldn’t let go of the feeling that he’d thought I’d abandoned him, and I just couldn’t stand it.

The day finally came last week. I knew he was on the other side of this gate I was passing through, and I took a deep breath and willed myself not to cry. Four years I have waited for this moment.

When I saw this full-grown Golden crossing the deck, I was awe-struck. He was so big. Much bigger than he was before. He had the paws of a lion. And, when I said hi Rosco!…. he doubled back toward his daddy. He was shy and skittish. I had forgotten this about him, as it never used to be about people. I held out my hand for him to smell, wondering whether he’d recognize my scent, but he gave no indication. He sniffed briefly, and wandered back to where he could watch his daddy to be sure he’d not be left behind. He never lets him out of his sight. He was never that skittish with me. But then, his life hadn’t been quite turned upside down before that day he was taken from our home. I allowed myself this internal thought with a touch of anger toward my ex, and then with a deep breath willed it to go (no word on that yet).

Eventually he warmed up to me as I squatted down to pet another dog who was there, sitting down right next to me – giving me no other choice but to stroke his back. He would later sit next to my chair, not too close, his eyes keenly focused on his dad and what he was doing, but he allowed me to stroke his head and back and tickle his big soft ears. When I knelt down to pet him and see his gentle brown eyes, I whispered the words I have wanted him to hear since the day he disappeared. And I realized that it wasn’t for him. It was for me.

He’s okay. And so am I.

 

 

Present State of Mind

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Written to the sound of my dove calling, a cool breeze coming through the window, and Todd on the phone doing damage control on his software program.

They drove me to drink. We have a community yard sale coming up this weekend and I decided to spend yesterday organizing my crap for that, rather than wait until the night before like I always seem to. I dug in to our “office,” where I had been hiding all this stuff during the party. I’m quite proud of myself for getting this done in light of my present apathy. And, during what sounded like an airstrike coming from above in the form of my two kids already pissing each other off less than a week since school ended.

The screeching sound of Veruca’s voice, coupled with the slamming of doors and dog’s nails running across the floors above me, sent my blood pressure aloft. I took a deep breath and ignored it. Tried to ignore it. Her voice, relentless as diabetes always is, reached a fevered pitch whereby I was sure she was in some imminent danger. I stalked upstairs and there they were, in the hall, Opac wielding a hand towel, and she – standing in her doorway – red-faced and angry as a rattlesnake.

What IS it with siblings? I just don’t get it. They regularly needle each other until one is certifiably homicidal, and in summer they like to take it to the next level. I was an only child, with the exception of a stepsister during my youngest years – and we did totally “hate” on each other, though it was never violent. I have a stepbrother who is 11 years my junior, who attempted to terrorize my 20-something self with practical jokes like removing all the screws from my bed frame and stealing my remote control, and at age 23 I got a baby brother. I was never really in a position to fight with the two of them – given my adult status. Nor did I care to. Occasionally I’d like to slap my little brother, but for reasons I don’t care to elaborate on today.

Meanwhile, back in the Cuckoo’s Nest, Veruca – as expected – was climbing up my ass and, apparently, looking for a time-out. Her constant interrogations left me feeling stabby and by 6:30 last night I snapped for the second time after I told her I was not going to discuss it anymore (it was a specific topic I answered once – about 8 hours before). It is times like this she is 100% her father and I just want to scream.

Opac had football practice last night, simultaneously with a cheer meeting for the junior league Veruca is in, and I spent two hours of my evening in a car with a daughter on crack – she didn’t stop talking for HOURS. It doesn’t seem so bad until she initiates every single God-forsakened sentence with “mom” or “I have a question.” And she requires acknowledgment that you heard her. I finally got home by 8 and decided that it was five o’clock, everywhere.

So, on this 4th day of summer vacation:

Football practice has begun with a bang – Opac reported nearly half the participants threw up during runs on the soccer field. He was “able to keep it together.”

Both kids’ bedrooms were thoroughly cleaned yesterday after mom’s meltdown. (Surprisingly, they took the threat of going nowhere that day seriously.)

I’ve coughed up $55 so far for cheer stuff and there’s more to come, but I got a $10 refund from the football coaches for a cancelled 7-on-7 at the YMCA.

I’ve been living on party leftovers – jerk chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, fresh mozzarella, hummus, and poached salmon. There’s still more left – so much so that I’m taking a detour today on my way to work to drop off some to my girlfriend.

I completely forgot Opac’s physical yesterday at the doctor’s.

Veruca has been watching The Secret Life of the American Teenager. I sat down with her to watch last night and was surprised to see Molly Ringwald, Bo Duke (!!!!), and Shailene Woodley. There’s an awful lot of conversation about sex on this show. Too much, if you ask me. But – she and I have an ongoing open conversation about this subject, so questions get answered on the regular. Recently, I corrected her pronunciation of testicles (it was hilarious), whereby she repeatedly asked me to stop saying the word with even more hilarious results. The whole thing left me punch drunk and I couldn’t help repeating testicles several times, once to Todd, which left her mortified.

Go ahead, say testicles out loud. Try it. I dare you not to laugh.

 

This Is All I Got

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I’ve been sooo busy this past week, in preparation for my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary, that I haven’t been on Facebook and I haven’t had time to write. (My apologies to any fellow Geminis I forgot to celebrate.) We were finishing up the final days of school, where I didn’t even have time to pee before the next event, and stressing over the last-minute details of a backyard party for 80. AND I had to work the night before. I have an event hangover. It’s been two days, and I’m still having it.

Veruca wants to do stuff, and all I want to do is climb back into bed and sleep for 8 days. But the good news? The house and yard still look fabulous. I want to write about all this stuff, but I have zero motivation. My brain is running at below 50%, I’m sure of it, because it’s being taxed overnight during the most bizarre dreams I’ve had since my lawyer appeared as the March Hare.

I want to run, but I’m weighed down this morning by the last piece of cake I ate for breakfast. Yeah- I did. And I don’t care. Both kids are still in bed. The dove living in my back woods has been calling for four solid days and, while usually I love the occasional sound for spiritual reasons, this morning I decided that it’s slowly driving me insane. It’s all I can do not to go out on my deck and tell it to SHUT the hell UP. But I’m afraid of the repercussions. See? I AM a little crazy.

We are having the most beautiful weather. The sun is shining, the breeze is cool, the windows are open, and just a lawn mower buzzing somewhere in the distance. And that g-damn dove.

 

 

I’ve Got This (I Think)

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Life has gone to light speed as we finish another school year, and the plans for my in-laws’ 50th wedding anniversary come together. The party – hosted by Todd and me (mostly me doing the planning; he’s working on the honey-do list) and being held at our house – is in exactly 9 days, 5 hours, and 41 minutes. I think we’ve finally finalized the guest list, the tent and table rentals, and food. The backyard is almost ready. Now I’m worried that the forecast is calling for rain and, while we have side walls on the tent, the grass is still going to be wet from Friday’s expected rainfall. I just saw this forecast this morning, and it – in conjunction with my third cup of coffee – is doing a bang-up job on my anxiety levels.

Between working a handful of catering events and writing grant applications, running to and from two different schools, blitzing the house for 80 guests in less than two weeks, and the usual six visits to the grocery store, I’m trying not to feel stressed out. And then there’s the laundry, which apparently didn’t get the memo that I’m BUSY. I’ve driven the kids back and forth to their dad’s house – which – for the record, threatens to turn my entire digestive system inside out every time and before you ask – apparently there’s a lot of disturbed people out there because counselors are hard to pin down quickly. I have an appointment, and am looking forward to some unbiased advice on how to conduct myself with serenity and grace just short of drooling in a corner and without stabbing someone with a spoon.

Meanwhile, back in school…. The kids are careening toward their last day with a zeal that should be reserved only for parents on the last day of summer vacation. Opac will be busy with workouts designed to run parents ragged all summer in preparation for the highly coveted starting season, and Veruca? Well, Veruca will be busy climbing up my ass like an impatient, passive-aggressive passenger on the Love Boat. I do not look forward to this. I am definitely not nearly as perky as Julie (sorry to the young folks who don’t know who Julie is).

It is a season of milestones. This year Opac finishes his first year of high school, Veruca finishes her last of elementary, I celebrate 5 years of emancipation from tyranny and 4 joyous years of marriage to my first love, the restaurant celebrates 28 “improbable” years in business, and Todd’s parents mark 50 years of marriage. FIFTY years. Not many people can say that today. It’s amazing and wonderful.

My weekly milestones – because we should all celebrate the little things, like drinking half a bottle of scotch and waking up without a hangover (which – for the record – I did NOT do) – I found shoes to wear to the party that with my discounts only cost me $30, ran/walked/jogged 4.5 miles yesterday, performed a blitzkrieg on the bathroom formerly used by Neph, planted two more plants in the gardens, quit drinking and lost 4 pounds and didn’t hurt or maim anybody, and – most importantly – wrote my Piece to he-who-needs-to-shut-the-hell-up.

Stay tuned.