Friday, December 7, 2012

Why It Never Pays to be a Jackass, Parts I & II

And possibly III & IV.

Last week (and probably into this week), I'm pretty sure I was suffering from PMS. Just some quick background for you so you have a frame of reference for my mood.

Some additional background: I was kind of excited about my birthday this year (Thursday, Dec. 6) because I realized for the first time in memory, there was no hockey practice -- we were all going to be at home to maybe actually do something on my birthday! In addition, the neighborhood Christmas tree lighting was on the same night as my birthday. We could go watch the tree lighting at 6pm and then go out to dinner. Fun!

Anyway, on Wednesday evening, Nov. 28, after working at ski school all day, I was going through e-mail and trying to get caught up on regular work when I opened a message from the school saying that Dec. 4 - 6 would be Christmas concerts at school each evening -- two grade levels performing each night. Finn's night was Dec. 6. at 6pm.

I was outraged. A Christmas concert (requiring props and costumes, no less) with one week's notice, on my birthday, and during the tree lighting. WTF?

I replied to the message in haste (NEVER a good idea) pointing out: one week's notice, during the tree lighting, and didn't they know it was my birthday and I wanted to go out to dinner (OK, I skipped the birthday part, but I thought it).

The next morning I went over to school and the office manager, who is a friend, said they'd been receiving a lot of e-mails like mine. I was there to volunteer in the library, and over the course of shelving books, someone said something about the tree lighting being on Tuesday, Dec. 4.

Uhhhhh, what? Total ding dong. I had misread the info about the tree lighting. It didn't actually conflict with the 4th grade concert OR my birthday.

I went to the office and ate some crow. They laughed. But did point out that there was still a conflict for the Kinders and 1st graders' concert and the tree lighting.

Oh well, so sorry for the little ones, but now I could go to the tree lighting on Tuesday and out to dinner for my birthday.

Except that I realized I had to go to Denver for a work meeting on Tuesday and wouldn't be back until about 8:30pm -- the tree lighting was at 6pm.

I told my friend who worked in the office. She laughed.

So that left us with going to the Christmas concert on Thursday evening and out to dinner for my birthday.

Until the music teacher apparently contracted the plague Tuesday morning and ALL of the concerts were cancelled.

Eamonn had never coordinated going out to dinner because he thought we were going to the concert. In the end, I stayed home and ate popcorn for my birthday dinner.

I hope the Kinders and 1st graders enjoyed the tree lighting!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Tears and a Smile

My friend Jen's grandmother died a few days before I headed to Ohio in September. Jen and I not only went to high school together, but our parents also grew up in the same small Ohio town (this sounds like a John Mellancamp song), which meant even our grandparents were friends. Jen and I are linked by generations, which is a cool thing.

So anyway, it was nice that I got to see Jen in person and give her a hug while I was in Ohio, because like me, her grandparents have played a big role in her life, and she has been lucky, like me, to have her grandparents into her own adulthood. So many people don't get to have that!

When I picked up mail on Saturday, there was an envelope from Jen. In it, were two recipe cards with my grandma's name, Floriene, on them. One was typed, one was in her own handwriting. Tears popped immediately into my eyes, and then I smiled. What's that line from Steel Magnolias? Something like, "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." And it's so true. (And what the heck? Between a Laugh and a Tear: another John Mellancamp song! I swear I didn't plan this.) While Jen was going through her grandmother's things, she found the recipes that my grandma had given her grandma.

I still have cards and letters my grandma sent me over the years, and I have her recipe box, as well, so it's not like I couldn't get them out and look at her handwriting or hear her "voice" whenever I want to, but there was something so wholly unexpected about coming out of the post office on a fall Saturday morning and receiving something ao dear to you that someone else came across, thought of you, and then cared enough to put it in the mail in this age of electronic communication.

To me, it was the equivalent of gold, in both memory and friendship.

Me with Grandma and Grandpa Moffit circa 1993 -- almost 20 years ago! Eeek!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Where, Oh Where Have I Been?

Well, I did go to Ohio for about 12 days! Yes, I just up and left Eamonn and the boys to fend for themselves. OK, not really. I planned out meals, shopped, set up carpool and afterschool care, and THEN I left. People asked if the house was a wreck when I got back. Nope, not even close. It was clean, organized, and all the laundry was caught up on.

I wondered if a maid had been here hours before I got home.

Just kidding. Eamonn is really good about keeping things clean and organized.

I have to tell you, I'm not totally sure the boys missed me all that much! Which I'm OK and not OK with all at the same time. It took a load off of my mind when, a few days into my trip, I realized no one was pining for me. But then I did think, "Why aren't they pining for me?"

It really reinforced to me that as parents, we want to enjoy our time with our kids, but really, our lives are dedicated to helping them get ready to go away from us. Eamonn's cousin said something to that effect to me when Declan was just a baby, but I couldn't really wrap my head around it at the time. In fact, I bet in my post-partum haze, I probably cried into my baby's bald head and thought, "My baby is NEVER leaving me!"

Tee hee. Now that we live in a small-ish town, I often wonder how old they'll be (if they're not at that point already) before they start thinking, "I cannot wait to get out of this one-horse town and hit the city!"

Going "home" to Ohio is always bittersweet, especially at this time of year. Fall in Ohio can be dicey if it's cold and rainy, but for the most part, it's usually very lovely. The yellow aspen leaves in the fall here in Colorado are beautiful, but my heart belongs to the reds and oranges of my youth. And there is a specific smell to every season in Ohio, the smell of an Ohio fall especially brings back such vivid memories: OSU football on the radio, raking leaves, making leaf houses and paths, the smell of actual woodburning fireplaces before everyone switched to gas fireplaces, the crunch of leaves under your feet, the smell of cigarette smoke outside at a high school football game, the sound of the marching band practicing in front of the school, homemade soup on the stove...truly, it's my favorite season there.

I think another reason that going home is so bittersweet, regardless of the season, is that I find I can so easily slide back into life with my oldest and best friends. We sit down over coffee, breakfast, dinner, a beer, and in the summer, with our kids at the pool, and it's like no time has elapsed at all. We literally pick up a conversation as if we were speaking 5 minutes ago, not a year ago. "Wait, where was I? Oh, right..." Wherever you go in your life and wherever you live, you will make new friends, and they will be very good friends. But there's something about people who know your backstory already, who know all of your faults, but love you anyway -- those are the people who make up the very backbone of our lives.

One of the cool things my friend Laurie and I were talking about when I was in Ohio recently was that now our kids have become friends. Even though they only see each other once a year, the kids look forward to seeing each other and spending time together. I love, love, love that my kids are friends with my friends' kids!

On this trip, I also spent time at my Grandpa's, recording him telling stories about himself and our family. I decided to do this after I realized how much I missed the sound of my grandparents' voices. Yes, I want to preserve Grandpa's memories and stories for future generations, but I also don't want to forget the sound of his voice, his laugh, his mannerisms, the way he delivers a joke or story -- all of it. Plus, it's darn interesting to hear what a 99 1/2 year old man has to say!

So that's where I've been!

And in a very fall tradition, tonight I made apple crisp for the boys (gluten free of course!). They scarfed it down. So did I!

I love fall!

Monday, September 10, 2012


Tomorrow is Sept. 11. I always have an unsettled feeling as we approach this date each year. I think that's good. It reminds me that we should never forget the tragedy that took place on this day 11 years ago.

I know I've talked before about how we were actually in Colorado on vacation when we saw the events of Sept. 11, 2001, unfold on live TV like the rest of the world. I don't know if I've ever felt entirely safe ever since. It made me scared and sad to think that humans could commit such atrocities against one another.

If I spend much time thinking or talking about it, I still feel scared and sad.

Each year the boys ask more questions about Sept. 11, especially Finn, our question-asker extraordinaire!

Each year I'm surprised at how I don't like to talk about it, and I wonder if my grandparents had the same feeling about Pearl Harbor.

My friend's brother-in-law was a fire fighter killed when the fire truck he rolled under for safety crushed him. I didn't know him, but I think of their family in these days leading up to Sept. 11 every year.

In the days, weeks, months, and even years following 9/11, I was obsessed with watching every bit of news coverage, every bit of analysis, every breakdown of every minute of that day on every channel. Ultimately, it made me so anxious and unhappy, I had to stop watching. Now I avoid those types of shows.

Instead, I'll take some time to think about the innocents who died, be grateful for what I have, and explain to the boys that there are just some things that can't be explained. Frankly, I hope it's something they never finally understand because they experienced it for themselves.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fall Back Into Fitness Challenge -- Sept. 10!

NOTE: This post is from my fitness blog. I'm putting it over here too because several people have e-mailed me about it, and I'd love it if some of you joined us! Read on...

Fall is here. I am looking forward to it because:

1. I love the cooler weather
2. The kids are going back to school (that sounds terrible, but it has to happen so we all might as well soldier on and make the best of it)
3. I can reduce the amount of trigger foods in the house that the kids like to have as treats but derail me personally
4. I can ramp up my workouts without anyone asking when I'm going to be finsihed
5. The kids are going back to school

I may or may not have repeated some of the items I'm more excited about.

The other day I read a statistic that the average person gains 8 pounds on vacation. 8 pounds! Eeek!

We have our work cut out for us. Because I did go on vacation this summer. True, it was to Ohio. It's not like I spent three weeks traveling around Europe, drinking beer and eating cheese (flashback to summer '93 when I came home not being able to get my jeans over my knees). But Ohio definitely had its temptations (Donato's pizza, Graeter's ice cream, Grandpa's homemade ice cream, Marie's candy...).

Anyway, I've decided that when the kids go back to school, it's a great time for parents to band together in celebration and fitness.

This challenge will be similar to one a group of us did last winter. So if you already know the drill, you can stop reading now. If you need the scoop, here it is:

Fall Back Into Fitness Challenge
Just like last winter's post-holiday challenge, this challenge will be run via Facebook. I'll set up a private Facebook group for all paticipants so we can communicate without the world seeing what we're saying.

This challenge will also be Beachbody program specific. Why am I making you buy something to take part? In short, because their programs work when you follow them. And they offer a 30-day money back guarantee. So I guarantee that if you follow them, you will see results, but if you're not happy, Beachbody will give you your money back. This is a win-win situation. Yes, I sell their products. Yes, I use their products. I think they are that good. And trust me, I have tried so many different fitness/weightloss products, I am a walking infomercial.

But, the point is, we're going to work together, and you are going to see the results you want. Period.

What you need to do:
1. Confirm to me that you're in so I can set up the Facebook group.

2. Go to my Beachbody website and choose a Challenge Pack, which bundles the fitness program of your choice and a 30-day supply of their protein shake together at a discount. I can help you if you want advice on what program to choose (you'll recognize some of them, like P90X). I own and have done many of them.

3. We'll start Sept. 10. Each program comes with a schedule and an eating plan. I can help you determine how many calories you should be eating if you need help with that.

4. Post at least once a day in our Facebook group for accountability. Post how your workouts are going, how your eating is going, any questions, etc. The support from the group is huge part of our success. It will keep you motivated and accountible.

5. Follow the program of your choice and drink Shakeology, the protein shake, once a day for the 30 days (Important Note: Shakeology isn't a "diet" shake designed like Slim Fast. This is a full on nutrient-rich shake to boost your nutrition, not starve you to death.).

I will be taking part in the challenge right along with you. I'm planning a combination of workouts for the challenge. The Beachbody program I'm currently following is ChaLEAN Extreme (to me, it's like P90X for women). I'm also training for a triathlon, so I'm doing some running and swimming, too.

We'll officially run the challenge for 30 days, but I'll leave the Facebook group open for at least 120 days (or for as long as the group would like it to be open) for those of you who choose longer programs. You'll have support the whole way through!

Let me know if you have any questions. And if you’re weirded out about the whole thing, no big deal. I just want everyone to reach their goals, and this is what works for me.

This isn't just as a short-term fix. I am a big, big believer in Beachbody and their products. I would never sell you guys crap. It works. And if you decide it doesn't work for you, you'll get your money back. Period.

What have you got to lose? It will be fun, I promise!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Five Years

Five years ago tonight, Finn took his last dose of oral chemo.

We didn't have a party. We said a casual, "Hey, did you know you took your last chemo five years ago today?"

We ate ice cream (except Finn who didn't like the ice cream I made. He ate chocolate covered strawberries instead). We went for a bike ride tonight and marveled at where we live. We yelled at the kids just like we would on any other day.

Normal days are so good.

Another milestone.

Another chapter.

We continue to know how lucky we are, and we continue to be very, very grateful.

Thanks for still being along for the ride.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Again with the Cats

For long-time readers, you may remember that from a very young age, Declan was obsessed with getting a cat as a pet. Obsessed, I tell you. He asked ALL the time. I am not a huge cat fan. And to say that Eamonn isn't a huge cat fan would be an understatement. In fact, I think on our first date, a cat ran into the road and he swerved to try and hit it. Not good news for those of you who are cat lovers, I realize, but there you have it. It may also explain why his sisters lock their cats in a separate room when we visit.

Anyway, we didn't want to say to Declan, "No, you can't have a cat because WE HATE THEM." No, instead we made up, and have maintained to this day, an elaborate lie that Eamonn is allergic to cats. (I have a little twinge of guilt every time the boys and I are at someone's house and they have cats and the boys say, "Good thing Dad isn't here! His head would blow up!" The still truly believe, eight years later, that Eamonn is allergic to cats.)

But my point is that Declan, for some reason, so desperately wanted a cat. And over time, it has rubbed off on Finn, too.

One day during the summer of 2004, I was driving down Rt. 23 from our house to my Mom's in Worthington (this was when we still lived in Ohio and it is still so vivid in my mind). The boys were with me. Finn would have been about 22 months old, Declan just over 4 years old. And of course, Declan was dressed as Spider-Man.

Anyway, we were on Rt. 23, just in front of the Josephinum at a traffic light (if you're from that area, you know EXACTLY where I am), and all of the sudden, from the backseat, Declan asks, "Mommy, when Daddy dies, can we get a cat?"

I nearly drove off the road. I immediately called Eamonn and asked how he was feeling. It has been a hilarious story for all of these years.

Fast forward to modern times. The boys would still love a pet. And we don't have one, for various and sundry reasons. The chief reason we don't have a cat, is obvious. We don't have a dog because we are on the road about five months a year for hockey and who the heck is going to take care of the dog while we travel? We've been asked to buy all sorts of other creatures, but so far, we haven't taken the plunge.

So last week, I'm driving (shades of summer '04) and Finn says, "If we can't get a cat, could we get an ocelot?"

This gave me pause. What the hell is an ocelot? My first thought was that it's some sort of lizard, but somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I felt like I'd seen an ocelot...at the zoo. I didn't have Google to help me out, as I was behind to wheel of the car at the time (why, oh why, must they always ask for animals when I'm driving???). So I decided to probe for some answers.

Me: "Um, didn't we see an ocelot once at the zoo?"

Finn: "Yes! Do you remember?"

Me: "Well, not entirely, but I'm feeling like if an animal is at the zoo, it's unlikely to make a very good house pet. You know, because it has to be kept in a cage and all."

Finn: "But it's a cat. They are more like house cats than any other type of wild cat."

Me: "Wild being the key word here, I think."

Finn: "Darn.....can I get a corn snake?"


Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Inside Joke

So the other day, Finn said to me, "Mom, will you tell me an inside joke?"

Hmmm, how to explain an inside joke to a 9-year old.

I tried.

"Well, an inside joke isn't a joke you tell like a knock-knock joke or something. It's more like something that happens between you and someone else, or maybe other people, that later only you understand. So then when you refer to it later, it's called an inside joke."

I thought I did a pretty good job.

Although as I was trying to explain the concept to him by using an example, which I can't even remember what it was, I was reminded that when you have an inside joke with someone else, it's usually not even that funny except to the people involved.

I gave Finn an example of an inside joke that has existed between Tara, Erin and I since were young -- probably elementary/middle school age. It involved eating brownies on our boat in Lake Cumberland. To this day, when one of us says, "Brownie" to the others, we totally get the reference and laugh.

I told my story.

Finn did not laugh.

Instead, he gave me a blank stare.

A few minutes later, he said, "So are you going to tell me an inside joke?"

Apparently not.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Small Town Life

Remember, back in the "old days," when people used to actually come out of the gas station and pump your gas for you? And washed your windows!

Then self-serve came around, and it was cheaper, so no one, except old people had their gas pumped by an attendant. And your windows? Forget it.

So this is Corky's. It's a full-service gas station/car wash/laundromat. It has the cheapest gas in town (unless you drive 4 miles to the next town and go to Costco). You can pump your gas yourself, but why would you? Remy comes out, pumps your gas, washes your windows, chats about the weather -- I love it! I always buy my gas there, unless I have a 50 cent per gallon discount at the Conoco at the Loaf & Jug. Otherwise, Remy gets my business. I feel like it's one of the last vestiges of small town life.

I hope it sticks around for awhile.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Verdict Is In

And the majority went with "yes, we want a mall" by a 225 vote margin.

Very disappointed to say the least, but it is what it is.

I think everyone is ready to move on. I know I am.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Why I'm Saying 'No.' Again.

CAUTION: Long post ahead. And I might swear a little. And it might be boring if you don't live around here...or maybe even if you do live here, come to think of it. This was hard to write because I have friends on both sides of the issue. But then one of the boys said something to the effect of, "If you feel that way, why don't you say something?" So at the eleventh hour, I'm growing a pair.

There's been a bit of a brouhaha brewing in our little town again this year.

Remember, about 2 1/2 years ago, when I was all up in arms about the potential of a mall/"lifestyle center" being built in our lovely mountain town? What? You don't keep a mental lock on all of my ranting and raving? I find that shocking.

Anyway, in January 2010, as a town, we got to vote on whether or not we wanted this mall, and the no vote prevailed. It was only by 156 votes or something like that, but the answer was no.

I was really excited. My Dad, who tends to be a little pessimistic (or maybe realistic) and who also spent the first half of his career in real estate threw a cup of cold water in my face and said, "They'll be back. And it will be sooner rather than later." Ewww, Dad, really? Do you really have to rain on my parade? But in my heart, I knew he was probably right.

So I wasn't wholly unprepared when lo and behold, over the course of the past year, the developer brought plans again to the town board. I'll spare you all of the gory details, but the bottom line is that tomorrow, we vote again.

And I don't have a good feeling about it. People see it as the panacea, the silver bullet. The thing that will save our town from the recession. I can't help thinking about my Grandpa, who will be 99 next month and is one of the smartest people I know, who has said to me on more than one occasion over the past few years, "You cannot spend your way out of a recession. Period." Which is just what people think will happen. This mall will be built and it will generate jobs and money and it will save us.

I haven't discussed this issue with a lot of people becauase it is so polarizing around here. It has pitted neighbor against neighbor. I hate it. But I don't hate it enough to vote yes. I'm holding the line. Here's why:

If I still lived in the urban sprawl we moved here from, and my sister was telling me about this going on in her mountain town, I'd say, "How exciting! You're going to get a Target!" And she would have said to me, "I didn't move to the mountains to shop." Sitting in one of the fastest growing counties in the U.S., I would have been taken aback by that. Who doesn't love to shop? To have every little thing you want (read: want, not need) right at your doorstep! Why, why, why wouldn't you want that?

But now I get it. We left, or maybe fled is a better word, suburbia six years ago. We loved our family, friends and neighbors who surrounded us in Ohio, but after spending many years vacationing in the town that is now our home, we found ourselves increasingly sad to go back to the traffic, the overpopulation, the overdevelpment that had become our lives. We saw that there was a simpler way to live. One that didn't require Target to get by (in fact, our budget appreciates that fact that I am now 35 miles from the nearest Target). After our move, a friend said to me, "How can you stand not being five miles from a Target?" I told her I can stand it quite nicely. There's nothing there I need.

There are so many reasons I don't want this mall-thing, that I hardly know where to begin. I won't even touch on the numbers. We all know there are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics. Both sides are twisting the numbers to be what they want them to be. All I know is my very-good-at-math-and-analysis husband crunched some numbers, waved them around in front of me and said, "This will be a net loss for the town in terms of sales tax revenue, mark my words." I'll take his word for it because I'm no good at math. And let's say nothing about the fact that supporters say this will bring construction jobs. My husband is in construction. In fact, he was unemployed for nearly a year. You'd think he'd be the first one to say this valley's construction industry needs this job. But he is even more opposed than I am. The president of the construction company my husband now works for? Also opposed. The construction industry in this valley is split -- some for and some against.

Let's see. What else. Oh, bottom line, I don't want a mall in my town. The fact that we don't have a mall is what makes our town special. I don't find it backward at all. In fact, I love it. I don't want to become Anytown, USA.

Some of the arguments "for" that I want to respond to:

Will you ski, hike, camp or do any of the things in Eagle less if there is a mall? No, of course not. But when I drive past that mall, I'll hate it and always think that we sold out. I'll look at the vast expanse of concrete and be sorry that we paved paradise and put up a parking lot so to speak. Again, any town can have that.

Our revene is down. We need revenue. We have to have a mall.
This seems to be a point of contention. Some people say our finances are fine. Some say we're on the verge of bankruptcy. Again, I won't debate the math, but I've heard enough people say, including the mayor, that we're fine and that not building this mall will not be the end of our town. Like all towns, we need to work on our recovery (see next topic).

Why didn't the people who voted "no" last time come up with a plan to generate revenue. Um, not my job. That would have been the job of the town board and mayor from that time period (new mayor and some new board members now). Your constituents said no, so why didn't you immediately set about figuring out a new plan if you were so worried about revenue? Seems to me that you cooled your heels until the developer came back around. Investigate the options. What's viable? Need help? Form a committee. Ask for volunteers. But don't except the people who elected you to do all the work just because they expressed an opinion different from yours.

The old downtowns of Rifle and Glenwood are thriving even after their towns built shopping areas on I-70, away from the towns. I'm not sure how we can even compare ourselves to those two cities. They have through traffic to points elsewhere (you go directly through Rifle if you're going anywhere north, and through Glenwood if you're going south). Eagle, for better or worse, doesn't have through traffic. Unless someone is heading to Sylvan Lake, they don't have to drive through town. When someone made that comparison, I almost laughed out loud.

We lose sales tax money to other cities and online shopping.
Of course we do. And that isn't going to change. Pick up a magazine about retailing or business in general. The future of retailing isn't in bricks and mortar stores. Yes, this means horrible things for the future of our downtown anyway, let alone if we build a gigantic mall on the interstate. When was the last time you pulled off at an exit to fill your car with gas, go to the bathroom, grab a hamburger -- whatever -- and then drove into the historic downtown to see what there was to see? I don't know about you, but my reply is never. If I'm on the interstate, I'm on my way somewhere. Unless that place is my destintion, I've got to keep moving. Got to get to hockey, the airport, hockey, a meeting, hockey. You get the idea. Hockey obviously keeps me from exploring other people's historic downtowns. Maybe I'm the exception.

My shopping habits weren't any different when I lived in Ohio and apparently had everything I could ever want in a ridiculously large shopping area (and all of its traffic, noise, congestion and crime) five miles from my house (which used to be in a very nice rural area where I rode my horse growing up). And what was the result? Did this shopping center so near to home get all of my tax dollars? Not even close. I bought a few things there. I bought a few things in other 'burbs around my burb. I bought online. In fact, there was one Christmas when the boys were young that I bragged to my husband that I never once went to a store and had to deal with crowds -- I shopped entirely online. Not a single local business or giant chain with a local store benefitted from me that year. I'm guessing I'm not alone.

So, while I am now very conscientious about trying to shop locally (as in local, local, not a chain store local), will you sometimes see me skipping from the post office with a Zappos box under my arm? Of course. Actually, a bag from Athleta would be more typical. Will you see me in a store in Avon or Glenwood Springs? Yes, of course. No one shopping area can be all things to all people. Frankly, I like leaving my section of the valley for points east or west sometimes, especially Denver. I like to go have an adventure sometimes, to eat out, go to a show, go to a sporting event, watch hockey...and do some occasional shopping. And then I am so very, very grateful when I hit the foothills coming west and can leave the traffic, noise, pollution, rudeness -- everything that comes with over-development -- behind.

What will the town do for money? I think there have been a lot of ideas floated that have legs. The one that sounds most viable to me is marketing ourselves as a mountain biking alternative to Fruita or even Moab for the Front Rangers who drive right by us on their way to those two meccas. Let's face it -- those two locations are a HAUL from Denver and they're driving right by some of the best mountain biking around. My husband, a former pro cyclist, frequently comments, "Why would I drive all that way when I have all of this (right now you need to picture me waving my arm 100 yards out the window of my house to the beautiful mountains that are RIGHT HERE) as my backyard?"

Would this take work? Yes, indeed. Will the town have to put in some effort? Yes. But that's their job. I'm pretty sure we elected them to do the will of the people, which was apparently ignored last time when we said no, but there you have it. Which makes me wonder, if it passes this time, can we come back around and make everyone vote again like they've done? Democracy. Where you vote and vote and vote until you get the result you want.

Bottom line, again, because I love to repeat myself: I don't want a mall here, taking up space in a green field people took steps to have designated as "blighted" so they could proceed with all of this. I don't want my kids growing up in the mass consumerism that has, in my mind, been the downfall of our country -- a place where we eat, drink, shop and spend, spend, spend to wretched excess and bankruptcy. I moved here to get away from it, and it fucking followed me. I'm sorry to everyone who also tried to escape the long arm of the developer because I seem to have dragged it here.

And honestly, no matter what I live near, the truth is that I can't afford to shop. My budget is taken up with my mortgage and food and recreational activities. Am I missing out by not having the latest styles in my closet? Or that my kids don't have the latest video game that was just released at Target and so we need to GET THERE RIGHT THIS SECOND, or that our movie theater only has three or four screens instead of 24? No, no, no and no. I cannot tell you how glad I am to be away from that horrific over-the-top everything lifestyle. While I enjoy going back to Ohio, I no longer enjoy going to the area where we used to live because it makes me sad to see how it has become...I don't even know what to call it. A mess, I guess.

Anyway, the real reason to vote no is that having all that mall-y stuff nearby would strike fear in my husband's heart about what I might run out and buy every day now. So if nothing else, if you even like my husband a little bit, vote no tomorrow.

This is what my life needs:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Doctor...or Metallurgist?

If I had any future thoughts that Finn might be a doctor when he grows up, those thoughts are now gone.

The Scene: Right after school...

Finn: I can't eat a snack right now. I'm disturbed.

Me: What has you disturbed?

Finn: In school we were discussing ant...ant...antimy...and it's all about inside your ear.

Me: What?

Finn: You know, ant....ant....A - N - T - I - M - O - N - Y. We talked about our hearts.

Me: Antimony? What does that have to do with your inner ear and heart? And why is it disturbing?

Finn: It was just gross.

Me: OK. (totally mystified as to why one of the chemical elements is disturbing and what it has to do with body parts)

Finn: (Unpacking his backpack and finding the papers from class today) OK, here's the word. A - N - A - T - O - M - Y.

Me: That's pronounced a-nat-o-me and it's the study of the human body! No wonder you were talking about ears and hearts!

Finn: Still gross.

Can't wait until he gets to sex ed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How the Human Mind Copes

Frankly, I'd love to know how the human mind copes with difficulties beyond comprehension.

We are just past the 8-year mark marking Finn's leukemia diagnosis. The week prior, I was restless, and I really didn't know why. That happens sometimes in the weeks preceding April 7 and the weeks preceding August 5 (last oral chemo). I must subconsciously feel that something is going on, but I can't really put my finger on it until I look at the calendar, and then I have a little 'aha' moment.

To tell you the truth, the same thing happens when we have the St. Baldrick's fundraiser. It's a great organization and a great event, and I will continue to support it wholeheartedly, but I get anxious as the actual event draws near each year. Reminders, you know.

Statistically, Finn had the most treatable form of leukemia, Acute Lymphocytic (or Lymphoblastic is what I hear more these days) Leukemia -- ALL. Of course, we are grateful beyond measure that what he had was so treatable.

But the fact of the matter is, there is a percentage of children who will die. Period. And yes, that still gives me sleepless nights after all these years. There is no use telling me to relax, that Finn has done well, that I have nothing to worry about. I am a mother. It is not a reflex that I can turn off (electroshock therapy might cure that, I guess). You would be the same. I guarantee it.

What's behind this post on a beautiful day when Finn is sitting beside me doing his homework with no apparent problems of any kind?

A reminder. A reminder that life is fragile. A friend of a friend from Ohio, whose story we have followed on their blog and who we have communicated with, has gone from being off treatment to now having AML, which is very aggressive and they are in for a tough road ahead. The thought that it could be anyone still takes my breath away.

Reminders. I don't like being reminded. It's an uncomfortable feeling. But it's important. Whatever you're doing right now, be grateful you can do it.

And now, I've got to go play with my kids. And be grateful.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Why I Can't Subscribe to Better Homes & Gardens

Ages ago, when we still lived in Ohio, someone gave me a subscription to Better Homes & Gardens. I was all excited. I pulled out recipes, looked at decorating ideas, admired gardens, etc., and I felt inferior. Because my house didn't look like that, my garden didn't look like that (in fact I have a total aversion to yard work of any kind), and my family dinners didn't look like that.

The same thing happened when I started getting Family Fun magazine. Fun! For the whole family! I was totally overwhelmed. If we tried the projects, they never turned out like in the pictures and both the boys and I were disappointed (nothing ilke comparing your efforts to professional crafters, is there?).

The same went for when I subscribed to Gourmet magazine (that was way back in the 90s), Cooking Light, Martha Stewart Living, O Magazine -- you name it, it gave me an inferiority complex. (Really, the only thing I CAN read without getting an inferiority complex is People magazine. But I don't admit that I'm a subscriber because that gives me an inferiority complex.)

And then the other day, this blog post started circulating on Facebook.

I nearly wept with happiness when I read it. Now I know it's OK that I can't craft April Fool's Day food out of plasticene that looks like the real thing. Or that I didn't make the house look like it was overrun with leprechauns on St. Patrick's Day. Or that I have never made paper mache anything with my kids. Or that I can't sew a Halloween costume that looks like it came out of a Broadway dressing room.

It's OK. And I'm so relieved to know it at last.

These days, the only magazine I subscribe to is Shape. And yes, looking at all of those thin thighs gives me an inferiority complex.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Customer Service. Sort of.

So today was my last day at ski school for the season. I don't know if it's just me, but it seems like a lot of idiots waited until the last week to come on a ski vacation. Last year, that wasn't a problem -- we had a record snowfall year. This year, snow is in short supply. We haven't skiied since early March!

Anyway, because business this last week is so slow, I was the only person working in the lobby to greet customers and help them with their paperwork before their kids can sign up for lessons. It was no problem to help the few customers that came in today.

Well, it was no problem until some dude came in at 9:25am in a snit because his kids' lesson group was still waiting to leave.

Man: My kids have been standing out there for nearly an hour. Why are they still standing there? I was told to be here at 8:45am! When are they going to go?

Me: I'm not sure. You could ask an instructor if there is a problem.

Man: I don't want to ask an instructor. I'm asking you.

Me: Well, as you can see, I'm working inside here and I can't really tell what is going on out there. And I'm curious, who told you to be here at 8:45am? (The normal arrival time is 9 - 9:15am)

Man: I think you told me to be here at 8:45am.

Now, I could have just shut up and not said anything, but this was completely false. First, I waited on maybe five families this morning. This man and his family were not any of them. I had never seen this dude before in my life. Plus, after four seasons at ski school, I think I've got the arrival times down.

Me: I can assure you, there is no way I told you to be here at 8:45am unless you booked a semi-private lesson. Did you book a semi-private lesson?

Man: No.

Me: OK, well you can ask a supervisor what the hold up is. I really don't know why the lessons haven't left yet, but I can assure you that no one, including me, here told you to arrive at 8:45am.

Really, I try to have good customer service even when the customer is totally in the wrong. But sometimes I need to point out they are jackasses. Today was that day for me, and for him.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mike & Carol Got it Right

What the what? Last week I wrote and posted (or so I thought) a post about the Brady Bunch. Where the heck is it?

I'll see if I can recreate it. But it's never as good the second time around. Sheesh.


Does anyone else love the Brady Bunch? I confess, I do. Love it. I loved it as a kid, and I love it now. I have the DVR set up to record it every day and I put it on when I'm doing mindless stuff. Like folding endless baskets of laundry.

I'm finding the show pretty timeless. Even though it was 40+ years ago (eeek!). The kids still get into all sorts of scrapes and predicaments. With the exception of the clothing and the occasional "groovy," I feel like I could be watching a show filmed in this era.

I've also decided that Mike and Carol had it all going on in terms of parenting. They never shout, they tell their kids when they're total knuckleheads, and they follow through. You made a bad choice and now you'll have to live with the consequences of your behavior.

Really, I feel like there isn't enough follow through these days as I see on a daily basis right now at ski school. "Johnny, don't keep kicking the wall of ski school in your big heavy ski boots. Johnny, stop that please. Johnny..." (Parent then looks at me and smiles.) "We just flew in and he's so tired."

Personally, I think Johnny needs a big heavy ski boot up his own ass to get his attention, but maybe that's just me.

Anyway, watching the Brady Bunch as an adult has been a totally different experience than watching it as a kid (which I'm assuming I remember from reruns because the show ran from 1969 to 1974 and I'm guessing I didn't watch it when I was that young). When I was a kid, I was more into the episodes where the family was on some sort of adventure -- the Grand Canyon trip, which spanned three episodes and found the Bradys locked in a ghost town jail by an old prospector (I was cracking up watching this. They set up their tents in the middle of the street. They also had a pop up camper. Good thing they had tents, too, because how would they all, AND Alice, fit in that camper? Questions like this trouble me.).

And who didn't love the Hawaii episodes? You just KNEW Peter was asking for trouble with that tiki idol around his neck and saying, "Bad luck, come and get me!" I have tried to never utter that phrase ever since. And wasn't Vincent Price just SO SCARY?

Possibly one of my sisters' and my favorite episodes was when they went to the amusement park and Mike's architectural drawings got mixed up with Jan's Yogi Bear poster and then lost on a ride. Then the family has to run through the whole park to look for the plans and return them in time for Mike's big presentation. We loved it so much because it was filmed at King's Island, an amusement park about two hours from where we lived and a favorite summer destination. We knew that park like the back of our hands. I wonder if the old-timey cars are still there?

Anyway, I have discovered that I dig Mike and Carol's parenting style, even when they flubbed up a little. Like the time Mike punishes Marcia for sneaking out of the house at night. He's all mad at her until he discovers she did it to mail a letter nominating him for father of the year. He did get a little stern with her, but he never yelled. I'm not a big yeller myself. Unless I have PMS. We never saw Carol experience PMS.

Even when the kids really do create havoc, like the time they play all the practical jokes and end up scaring Alice so badly she breaks the bust of Mike's head that Carol made, there really isn't any yelling. Punishments and consequences are given out, but no one is beaten within an inch of their lives, which is how I might feel if I had six kids.

So maybe the Brady Bunch isn't that realistic. These was one episode where Carol is all flustered and talks about how busy she is. Um, Carol, you do have six kids, but you have a full-time housekeeper who appears to do all of the cooking and cleaning for you. And you clearly have time to make a bust of your husband, produce elaborate plays and school projects with the kids, like a film about the Pilgrims. If my kids came home and told me we had to produce a movie about the landing of the Mayflower, I'd probably send nasty e-mails to my kid's teacher. So Carol, how is it that you are so busy even though you have Alice? That part mystifies me.

One of my other favorite episodes: the one where Marsha has to try and get Davy Jones to play at her prom (even though she's only in middle school). I actually saved that one on the DVR because they put a nice little tribute to Davy at the end :) I saved it for Eamonn who was very sad about Davy Jones' recent passing.

That's something Carol would do for Mike. You know, if DVRs existed back then.

Got a favorite Brady Bunch episode? Let's hear it!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Conversations in the Car

For Declan's school this year, we have a carpool with two other families. They are kids he has known since 2nd grade, and they've now gone on to middle school together. I'm discovering that I learn a lot about my child while listening to the chatter and pretending I'm listening to NPR.

The three of them -- two boys and one girl -- remind me of Harry, Ron and Hermione from the Harry Potter series in their dynamic. And they squabble, tease and laugh like they are siblings. I've been really glad that Declan has had the two of them as they have transitioned to this new school.

So some of the things I've learned about my son is that he's a little bit girl crazy. There is a LOT of teasing that goes on about that. Apparently he always his eye on someone. Great.

I've also learned that the three of them have tons of inside jokes that date all the way back to second grade, and they tell the same stories and jokes over and over again. And over and over again. And they appear to have the capacity to laugh even harder every time. Personally, this is about the time I think about driving off the road. If I hear the "boxen" joke again, I'm going to have to put something sharp in my eye.

I think the most eye-opening thing is realizing that my eldest child clearly has a life that is separate and distinct from mine. There are jokes, stories, activities and yes, even crushes, that I am not even remotely involved in. I realize that separation will only grow greater over time. At this point, I'm still counting my lucky stars that I have that time in the car to listen and learn and laugh with them for a little longer.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

L U V Madonna!

I have been cracking up at all of the articles and comments floating around the Internet this week about Madonna's half-time performance at the Super Bowl.

I'm going to come clean here and tell you that I loved it. LOVED IT! I thought it was showy and fun, and my sister and I grooved through the whole thing.

Did she lip sync? I'm pretty sure she did (although the kids caught onto it first and had to convince us). But so what? I think it was proven by the Black Eyed Peas that the acoustics, no matter where the Super Bowl is played, just really aren't that great in these huge stadiums. Besides, I'm one of those people who wants to hear the music like it sounds on my iPod!

Did she slip? Yes, but I can't even walk in boots like that, let alone dance.

Did her back up dancers assist her when she was doing her moves? Yes, I'm pretty sure that was part of the dance routine. I don't think she was there to try out for the 2012 Women's Olympic Gymnastics Team. I could be wrong though. Think Geena Davis.

All in all I thought the whole thing was fun and entertaining, and I laughed when someone said, "I didn't get the gladiators." And someone else said, "I didn't get the pom poms." It was just a show. I don't think we were supposed to find any existential meaning in it.

But I could be wrong.

Now I totally want to see her on tour with my hair up in a bandana, black leggings, mini skirt, and arms full of black rubber bracelets. Because I L U V Madonna, and I think I always will.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Grandparents are Fun

I consider myself very lucky that I still have a grandparent alive. My Grandpa is 98. 98! I love visiting him and hearing tales of his youth or his observations on life. He's very well-read. In fact, I'm usually pretty embarassed at what I DON'T know what I talk to him.

All four of my grandparents were a very big presence in my life growing up. We lived just about an hour away from them, and I spent a lot of time in the small town where they all lived.

So I love it when my own parents come for a visit. It's fun to see the boys interact with them. My Dad just left after a visit. Here are a few pics of the fun.

Finn and Grandpa out for a snowshoe.

Me falling down while snowshoeing.

Boys out for breakfast with Grandpa. I thought I asked for a croissant, but did not receive one upon their return...

First ever picture of Grandpa and all nine grandkids.

Grandpa and the boys.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When a Child is Here...and Then They Are Not

Before Finn was diagnosed with leukemia, I didn't really think about kids dying.

And then, unfortunately, we saw it all too often.

It's horrible on every level.

Let's face it: death in and of itself isn't the greatest, but there are different levels of grieving and horribleness when someone dies. It was incredibly sad when my three grandparents died (I've got one still alive and kicking madly at 98!) at their various ages, but they had all lived long, full lives--we should all be so lucky. I hope I'M that lucky, in fact.

But when a child dies. Well, I'm at a loss.

Yesterday morning as Declan sat crunching his Honey Nut Cheerios, we had the unhappy task of telling him that a boy from his school died on Sunday. A 13-year old boy he knew, who was one year ahead of him at his very small school, died in an inbound avalanche at the same time we were enjoying a fantastic family ski day.

I cannot wrap my head around this tragedy. This family is from our end of the valley--our town. We have many mutual friends. This boy went to Declan's school. I saw his mother in the post office last week. We were skiing at that very time (different mountain). And now they are grieving.

It could be anyone. I thought maybe I was over that "so close to home" sensation that I experienced so often when Finn was sick (and even now), but apparently that doesn't ever really go away. It just takes on different forms.

Hug your kids. And be grateful today.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I Am Almost Brilliant

I have to tell you, I am the most brilliant blogger at about 11pm when I'm going to bed. But you'll never actually know this.


I get in bed. I turn off the light. I settle in. And then a whole bunch of blogging ideas come to me. And I think, "That would make the funniest blog. I'll blog about it tomorrow."

Then I go to sleep and when I wake up the next morning, if I even remember that I had a good idea, I have no idea what it was. What was that? What WAS that?

Drives me nuts.

A few years ago I did start keeping a pen and paper next to my bed for such situations. Where that really came in handy was when I went to bed and then thought of things I needed to do for work the next day. I found quickly jotting things down helped me clear my head and be able to sleep.

So then I figured I should do the same thing for potential blog topics. If I had an amazing idea as I went to sleep, I could quickly write it down so I could be witty upon awakening.

But here's the thing: I feel bad about turning the light back on and waking up Eamonn. So I decided I would write my notes to myself in the dark.

But here's the thing: I've discovered I can't really read what I wrote in the dark. Imagine that.

If I did write about what I wrote, today you would apparently have read something to do with trash cans. Alas, I'm not really sure what about trash cans I was planning to discuss with you. Also, someone's name, I'm not sure whose, is on my note page. Was I planning to blog about someone in the trash can? Am I looking for a way to dispose of a body?

(Note: According to the show Live with Kelly, how to dispose of a body is one of the top questions people ask Siri on their iPhone 4s. Maybe I was planning on doing this in my sleep. Whether it's me or someone else, the whole thought is disturbing on many levels. Can you imagine, "Siri, where can I dispose of a body? And while you're at it, how should I make sure I don't get caught?" What the heck?)

One thing is clear: I need a new system. Again. Perhaps I should put a headlamp next to my bed. Or just turn on the light.