Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I feel fine. . .

So, NaBloPoMo's prompt for today asks, "How did you feel when you lost a game?" (as a child)

Oh, perhaps a little something like this:

Checkers, Yahtzee - and Solitaire.

My fury knew no bounds.

I'm much better now.



I have a child now and she gets to have the tantrums. I'm saving up my strength for menopausal rages (aka the end of the world as you know it.)  I feel fine. ;)


Move along. There's nothing to see here. :)

Oh, thank you NaBloPoMo, for a theme that I could rename "Much Ado about Nothing"

The question for May 7?

Monday, May 7, 2012
What sports did you play as a child?

Well, that's a tough one.

There was cycling - and a banana seat bike was the best. Naturally.

Nope, that's not me, but I had that hair. Just not those siblings - or a Dad with sideburns.
Photo courtesy: www.hopelesslyflawed.com

and my Lemon Twist:

Spin it. Twirl it. Swing it around your wrist and hit someone!
Photo courtesy: www.70schild.blogspot.com

Does unpacking adjectives count?

Probably not. 

"Athletically inclined" is NOT a phrase one would use to describe me. It's not just the "only child" thing, although you know how I love to bring that up. 

It's an overall health thing - as I was rocking the hip brace before I could walk (convenient, no?) - which later led to one leg being an inch shorter and scaring the crap outta me in junior high when a school nurse (I hope) and a school employee/witness did that highly scientific scoliosis check. Y'know the one. You're in the teacher's lounge or counselor's office or some "discreet" cramped room on campus that smells like old books and decades of body odor and you're asked to take off your shirt.  You hope you've reached the age where you're wearing a bra, yet absolutely mortified. 

Of course, it's all very professional and scientific. After all, they're looking to see if you look like this (although you get to keep your pants on):

So apparently I looked like this from the back? Just call me Quasimodo.
Photo courtesy: www.umm.edu

Once they informed my parents - and me - that I was lopsided, my athletic career ended, and my geekdom was secure.  It wasn't scoliosis, but my congenital gift of hip dysplasia and its treatment (hip brace) leaving a calling card: a shorter leg (and still deformed hip joint). Lifts added to shoes, no PE classes (medically excused) - and a headstart on cellulite. It was like a booster shot to ensure my ego remained portable.  

There was that one time. In junior high. Was all sorts of cool wearing braces (important later). For some reason, we were practicing track events INSIDE.  Why? I have no idea. These were the folks who convinced me I had a hump, remember?

Anyway, I believe I was trying for a triple jump (or long jump) with the mat/pad against the brick wall of the gym. Why? I was a pleaser kid, even in PE. Idiot.  Anyway, the pad was lined up so that it was landscape, not portrait (meaning there was less pad between the jumper and the, um,  brick wall.)

You can imagine what happened next. I think I looked a bit like this. 

Aside from making others laugh and bruising my dignity, I didn't notice anything else (likely due to the concussion). I was sitting in class next period with Mr. Breed, the teacher who used a golf club as a pointer, when I was running my tongue over my teeth. (Y'know. Typical behaviour. . .right?) Well, things didn't feel quite right. There wasn't any blood (that I knew of) or any loose teeth (that I could tell), but there was wire. Loose wire. Poking the inside of my cheek and freaking me out wire. I had hoped I wouldn't have to tell my parents of my misadventures in athleticism, but I think they already knew I was not destined for the Olympics (unless they were the Special ones). 

Turns out my mouth of metal saved my teeth - and I got to share my story with my orthodontist and his assistants. 

Good times. 

I think I'll add some more Bailey's to my coffee now. I've enjoyed our little chat.. Haven't you?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Retro Romance

For those who didn't already know, RetroRenovation Rules!

When we've looked at homes in South Carolina, I'm drawn to the mid-century houses. I even nicknamed one the "Bewitched House" because the crown jewel was its Frigidaire Flair electric range. I am NOT kidding.

I think it's an addiction.

My parents have often said that I was born during the wrong decade. Granted, there was nothing any of us could do about that little hiccup - what with my conception taking place the winter before the Summer of Love (by two people my parents never met).  Adoption makes for interesting family trees - a bit like roses that are spliced together in a greenhouse. Besides, I wouldn't have become a mom if it weren't for the advances in diabetes care, BUT -

- they do have a point.

I spent today:

  • searching on eBay for mid-century modern ANYTHING (dishes, wall decor, Christmas ornaments)

  • listening to Frank Sinatra on Spotify

  •  and making meatloaf for Sunday dinner:

. . . all while wearing a dress. On Sunday. On purpose. 

We didn't even leave the house.  I wasn't June Cleaver in the pearls and crinoline, but it was a dress.

"Ward, dear, wash up for dinner. I made your favorite!"
Photo courtesy: www.muffintopmommy.com
(How brilliant is THAT name? I read her latest post - and she makes me laugh, which is ALWAYS a good thing.)

Oh, and I baked cake mix cookies.



Photo courtesy: www.cookiesleuth.com

I highly recommend, especially in Spring. :)

So, here's to today's technology that let me travel back in time for just a little while - and work on a day of rest.

In a dress.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Father daughter moment. . .

My husband works nights - and has worked nights for 13 years. Our daughter is 9, so this is her "normal" - for better or worse.

This morning, Hubby comes in from work, bringing treats from Dunkin' Donuts for breakfast. He takes Kidlet in his arms and asks, "Wanna know something mind-bending?"

Her reply: "The length of your nose hair?"

Oh, how I love this child.

By the way, the mind-bending news is that our 18th wedding anniversary is Monday, and that Kidlet is 9. Apparently, he was hoping to impress her with this tidbit.

The nose hair beat him to it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Five Fab Faves for Friday!

It's Friday - and I am thankful for a few things.

First, I actually blogged every day this week, thanks to the challenge from:

NaBloPoMo May 2012

I'm not sure how I'm doing, but I'm writing, and it feels like circuits in my brain are connecting - and that feels great.

I also like reading posts from Lauren who writes From My Grey Desk, especially on Friday. Did you see that yummy dessert on her High Five for Friday? There isn't enough spandex in the denim for me to consume all that, but it's wonderful eye candy.  I'm also happy for her cats' comfort in the new home. Our cat, Bella (short for Bellatrix), hangs out on the patio these days, which seems to have helped reduce the number of times she streaks through the house like a demon possessed (which may be entirely possible).

She doesn't look like the spawn of Satan. . .

. . .but she definitely suffers from a split personality (as most felines do). 

Second, our Kidlet was asked to test for our new school district's GT (Gifted & Talented) program. You can hope your offspring will find a cure for cancer, or win an Olympic medal, or date Charlie Sheen (well, maybe not the last one), but all you really want is for them to be happy. And successful. And not end up like Charlie Sheen:

No Charlie Sheen Allowed. No Mug Shots allowed. This looks like great parenting advice in one image.
Photo courtesy: www.amazon.com

We didn't tell Kidlet she would be tested, because, well, she works herself up over stuff like that. Where does she get this trait? Well, I often tell friends that the best part of Kidlet's arrival into this world was that she arrived via emergency C-section.   I had no time to worry, stress or freak out. I was medicated, motivated and in the maternity ward for 7 days.  If it had been a scheduled C-section,  my brain would have assured the rest of me that death was imminent. 

We won't find out the results until June, but the fact that they saw potential in Kidlet is wonderful. Sappy, weepy, Hallmark card wonderful. I told her we will be proud of her, no matter what, and that all students, GT or not, grow up - and there isn't a GT section at Target or Chick-Fil-A.  (Note that I didn't include Walmart. Ahem.)

(Still, it's pretty cool that she got the chance.)

Third, I worked as a substitute teacher again this week.  I know it sounds crazy to some people to choose to spend time with 20-22 kids you barely know - or haven't met before - but it has an even better effect on me than writing.  I absolutely LOVE working with students. It makes me indescribably happy, despite any cartoon depicting otherwise.  

Photo courtesy: www.cartoonstock.com

Fourth,  I love my Steve Madden gladiator sandals, which I wore today while working in kindergarten. They're always comfortable, and my daughter thinks they're almost as cool as her Children's Place silver gladiator sandals. Her sandals have the zipper in back, however, and are much easier to slip on. Oh, middle age, how I love what you've done with my back.

Photo courtesy: www.kaboodle.com

I admit that shoes are ALWAYS in my top five things every day (at least until I need orthopedic options. Until then, get behind me SAS Shoe Store. Thankyouverymuch.)

Finally, my fifth fave for today is the great meal that was catered today by the PTA. I knew nothing about it, so a surprise free lunch is even better.  It was amazingly good food - AND I found a new place to satisfy our craving for Tex-Mex since we moved to SC last fall. Thank you, Salsarita's Fresh Cantina, for a yummy lunch!

Yes, those are black beans - and no, it's not Tex-Mex, but it IS delicioso
(as Dora the Explorer teaches all moms).
Photo courtesy: www.examiner.com

So, there ya' have it. Five reasons for me to smile this week. The lunch was a neat surprise - and I was told today by a teacher that she always calls a substitute again when that person works well with her autistic students.  One of those students hugged me before nap today. BONUS!!!!

Have a great weekend, and if you're blogging and want to share, feel free to post a link in the comments - or leave a note telling me something that made your week better. There has to be something, even if it was someone's absence. ;)

Oh, and one more Pollyanna moment: there are only 18 days left in our school year!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

If it ain't broke, it was at my house.

A picture is supposed to be worth 1000 words, but I only have a select few and none of them can be said in polite company or in front of children (under the age of 12, anyway).

Today's assignment from NaBloPoMo? Talk about a toy you broke as a child.

Please. I've written about "who I played with" here (well, that would be "no one")

"What I did at recess" here (ummm, that would be "nothing")

If history and literacy can enlighten us in any way, let's predict what toy(s) I broke as a child.

Brief recap:

Remember that "only child" thing? In America, it's a choice, but also known as the official family unit of the People's Republic of China (think of it as Planned Non-Parenthood.)

An "only child" is usually easy to spot:

Standard procedure for cycling. . .in the driveway.

In addition, recall how I dressed as a Stepford daughter:

Yes. I dressed to land the cover of the Wish Book.
There was no greater glamour.

Because, again, the alternative was looking like THIS:

or THIS:

There was no way this chick was putting plaid on her butt in "flared pants" form. 

So, back to our question of the day: What toy did I break as a kid? 

Ummm. . .would you believe, "none"?

Not one.




I even asked my mom, because she knew every step I took, and has particular recall when it came to the missteps. Trust me.  She said, "You had that stuffed animal frog that I had to sew up all the time because you loved it so much and carried it everywhere, but that's it." 

Yep. I've got a frog whose stitching came loose.


The most dramatic moments involving toys came later when I learned Mom had cleaned out everything and got rid of ALL the toys, but I was too old to throw a tantrum then. (I saved those for the first years of marriage.)

I remember my reaction to finding my Barbie dolls lined up against the wall one day after I came home from kindergarten. I didn't leave Barbies out. No. They went to their rooms to get their beauty sleep while I was away. Someone had been in my room. Playing with MY toys. Nothing like a 5 year old suffering from righteous indignation.  

That, however, was NOTHING compared to. . .

The Barbie RV Rescue of 1976

When I innocently left my beautiful Barbie Country Camper in the driveway. (Well, it was a road trip, after all.)  My dolls earned some rest and relaxation. You be held upside down every afternoon while your clothes are peeled off or tugged on, your head is twisted backwards so dresses can be snapped,  and fall down from tree limbs, window sills, chairs, sofas, kitchen tables and the edge of the tub.)

Confession: I bought one off eBay. . .*for my daughter* 

I wasn't gone long, because the camper was my prize possession. I mean, one look and you can see why, right?  Apparently, a neighborhood boy found he couldn't resist its charms, either. He told his mom he "found" it.  I'm trying to imagine how many moms would be cool seeing their son clutching a Barbie camper back in 1976. In San Angelo, TX.  I don't remember him, but I remember my mother's reaction to it being stolen. I believe her lips disappeared into a tight little line, which I didn't see very often. . .until I hit puberty.  She rescued Malibu Barbie - and her friends - and road trips took place in the carport or back yard after that. 

I never was the type to give dolls haircuts - or even mix Play-Doh colors together. My parents weren't strict about it, and I can't remember them telling me, "Don't you do that!" when it came to playing with toys. I didn't think about it much until Kidlet came along. It's in our DNA to forget where we put toys, lose the Barbie shoes (allll the time) and leave books all over the place. If something breaks, it's because we forgot we put it under the comforter, left it in the chair, or out on the trampoline.

To me, I think, the toys weren't just things to play with. They were constants in my life and gifts that showed my parents loved me.  All children treasure those things that have special meaning, but if you have a brother or sister, you make memories together and you share that history. "Onlies" have the toys and the memories - all to themselves. It doesn't mean we create imaginary friends, but it means you tend to "humanize" the toys that you really love. For me, it was Barbie. For my daughter, it's stuffed animals. She can confide in her "pets" after a bad day, cuddle them when she's feeling lonely - and feel a little more secure until she's all grown up and past the age of "make believing."

Until then, I'll pick up the toys, line up the stuffed animals - try to hang on to the ones she loves - and Heaven help the kid who tries to take any of them away.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Play like a girl?

In order to hopefully make it to posting on Day 2 of the blogging challenge started at NaBloPoMo, I'm starting on the evening of Day 1. (If I wait until tomorrow, after substituting in PreK and stressing over my daughter's GT testing, my fingers won't crave a keyboard. They'll be searching for something a bit more substantial - with calories and carbs.)

Perhaps one of these:

Stemware not included, nor needed, is it?

Or a few of these:
Am I the only one amused that this picture was found at http://diaryofanutritionist.com? 

Either way, I'll certainly be more rested afterwards, and my carb-induced coma will render effective communication impossible.

Today's blog prompt? Describe a strong memory of recess.  The recurring memory of recess, I admit, has no winning kickball game, no first kiss, no karma boomerang.  There was no adrenaline rush of victory, nor tear-stained face of defeat.

How did I accomplish this faded watercolor snapshot of childhood? Easy. I was a girl, and determined to dress like one. . .circa 1875. In my mind, every day called for a dress. This meant I showed up dressed for Sunday school FIVE days a week:

What? Who doesn't want to emphasize the hourglass figure on a first grader?
Photo courtesy: www.etsy.com

It's easy to understand, once you compare the dresses to the PANTS:

If your legs are your best feature, why not cover them with tents?
Photo courtesy: www.etsy.com
Honestly, it's a wonder I wasn't pushed in the dirt on a daily basis.  I chose this. My own free will. Hated pants. Hated jeans. (Why no one staged an intervention, I don't understand.)  Of course, little did we know that future fashion horror loomed in the form of acid wash jeans, jelly shoes and shoulder pads. Such innocents.

My childhood clothing choices made me happy most of the time, but resulted in one teeny tiny complication: recess.  When your mom is raising you to act like a lady and mind your manners, practicing pole climbing and flying trapeze imitations in your best Sears & Roebuck fashion frock was a bit frowned upon. My memories on the playground pretty much involved swings, slides, seesaws - and skirts. With the seesaw, you're straddling a seat and offering the world a view of your land down under, but no one seemed to notice. 

In the hedonistic 70s, apparently, parents and school districts didn't concern themselves with girls' underwear. I'm not sure why, since it was on display alllllll the time. I wore tights - because I loved those, too (Really. Wasn't that a cry for help?!) - but had long legs, and hemlines were already above the thigh. Seriously, watch the Brady Bunch. Every day would have been an upskirt opportunity - and all a girl had to do was sneeze to flash the rest of first grade.  There was no panty preoccupation on the part of the school or parents. . .no reminders to wear shorts under the dress. Ever.  I just knew one golden rule: NO MONKEY BARS. Granted,  I also inadvertently flashed anyone who followed me climbing the slide - or getting a drink from the water fountain for that matter, but that was different. Hanging from the monkey bars in your Easter dress? Well, now, that's just sinning. 

Times change and certain playground equipment was eliminated (through litigation, I'm sure), but eventually, well-meaning adults decided no one needed to see Day of the Week panties anymore (at least in Texas at recess). I'm not sure why shorts, capris and leggings of body-hugging Lycra became the solution, but here they are, saving girls in their glittery, sparkly Justice wardrobe from flashing or appearing provocative.

There. Problem solved.  Don't we all feel better?

Me neither.

With any luck, my daughter's playground memories will involve the friends she knew and the games they played. . .and THAT is the way it should be.

Now I'm going to order some more jeans. And denim shorts. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

I'm Gonna Like Me

Confession: I am an only child.

Coincidence: I married an only child.

Quirky consequence: We were able to have only one child.

I joke to friends that they can smell our "spoiled kid" stench for miles  - and our inflated sense of self-importance is likely a source of global warming. 

I'm quick to comment, "It's a small world. . .and it revolves around us." 

I admit it is a bit more complicated than that:
  • In 1969, I was adopted at age 4 months. I met my birthmother through an online registry in 2000, and discovered I had a half-sister (who was a young teen at the time in Michigan, while I was in Texas).  
  • When my husband was in college, his parents stepped in to raise my mother-in-law's infant great-nephew, as his mother was young and, well, my mother-in-law LOVES babies and would likely babysit anyone under the age of 18 months for free.  

Still, our family tree isn't so much this:

A Texas live oak - gorgeous, big - oh, so twisted and gnarly in all the right ways.
Photo courtesy:www.bergoiata.org

as it is this:

Note the bow, though. We do like to look our best - and we're still twisted.
Photo courtesy: http://www.tightwadblog.com

The NaBloPoMo theme for the month is PLAY, and you may wonder why I brought up the childhood singleton status first. Simple, really. The blog prompt for today is "Who did you play with as a child?" 

It's simple to answer: friends whose faces I remember, but whose names I forgot - with a few memorable exceptions. 

You see, in addition to getting all the toys at Christmas, and being the only suspect when something was broken, marked on or never seen again,  I was also a child in a military family. My dad was in the Air Force, so we moved. Often. Not as much as some families, but certainly more than most. The memory of a childhood best friend is, for better or worse, not one I can really recall.  As I write this, there isn't a person in my life today who grew up with me - or really knew me back then. By the time I moved to what I know call my hometown - in 3rd grade - I was afraid to get too close, and preoccupied with sensing rejection. (How handy is THAT?)

To be an adopted child, who was in foster care long enough to have my photogenic four-month-head flattened on one side due to not being moved, turned over, held or rocked to sleep - and a non-photogenic bum indicating a monumentally awful diaper rash, adding a series of moves from Michigan to California to Texas tended to make me pretty protective of my feelings - a bit like slipping on a shark suit so that rejection couldn't sink its horrid teeth in me:

Add a Cindy Brady dress, tights and patent leather shoes, and it's me! ;)
Photo courtesy: http://bostithebold.deviantart.com

My mom stayed home to raise me, which meant no daycare or babysitters.  That "available friend pool"  was tiny, as in inflatable two-ring pool tiny.  

We moved from Michigan before my first birthday, but playdates likely didn't go over to well there, anyway, when snow covered the windows for months at a time, and I wore a leg brace that I popped off all by myself. Mom's solution:  secure it with black electrical tape.  (Thank you, hip dysplasia.)

This isn't me, but this is the look. Imagine the fun - and cloth diapers, too!

In California, a neighbor's two children were my first friends: Stacie and her older brother, David. David's purpose in life, I was certain, was to show me that having an older brother was a curse.  I was 5, Stacie was 4 and David was, I think, 7-going-on-"I have a death wish." He was skilled in the art of destroying any and all girlie-girl fun.  Mud pies became weapons, Barbies were hostages, and "making girls cry" was an art form.  He did seem to enjoy it when we wanted to play doctor (the preschool version), which likely means he is a successful gynecologist in Los Angeles. 

After two moves in sunny California, we headed to Texas. In San Angelo, I befriended Christy and Suara (Sue-Aura), both of whom had moms who were, shall we say, a bit less overprotective than my Mom. Christy, who was a year younger than me, was also a diabetic. I didn't know what that meant at the time (til I turned 7 and became a diabetic, too - YAY!). Apparently, her mother hadn't caught on, either, because she gave her the same chocolate chip cookies and root beer to drink that she gave me - and would kinda, sorta, y'know, forget to give her insulin. . .or dinner. Years later, my mom would  say, "I wonder if Christy is still alive. You know, if she is, it's no thanks to her mother." 

Suara, who lived next door, was the friend who knew EVERYTHING - only I was too naive to get it. She was left alone a lot, the only child of a single mom, and I don't know where she got her information. I think she was a walking Cliffs Notes version of Cosmo and Playgirl - at the tender age of 8.  She will forever be in my memory as the first person to moon me - complete with a limerick. At the time, I was a mix of Pollyanna and Cindy Brady (without the crippling tree fall or lisp), so you know what happened:

"That is NOT how you play the glad game! Kitty Carryall and I are going HOME."
Photo courtesy: http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Pollyanna

You can imagine how often I played at her house after that happened. I didn't know my mother's jaw could drop that far.  

We moved - again - shortly thereafter - and I think, by that time, my protective armor was a a bit too strong. I was less inclined to let someone in, because it hurt too much to have to let them go. Within a year, we moved yet again to a very small town in Texas, where everyone knew - or was related to - everyone else.  Winning over people with my lack of ability in athletics and lack of interest in, well, athletics, wasn't an option, so I just went on my way, wearing dresses more than jeans, reading books that I loved - and playing with my Barbies. 

By the way, if you have an only child, please try to play board games, card games and other silly things like that so your child doesn't look clueless when a friend asks him or her to play. (This public service announcement brought to you by the adult child whose best card game is Solitaire.)

So, who did I play with? A few children who stayed in my heart, but not in my life, and friends who were in my life, but I was too afraid to let too far into my heart.  Would I change things? Sure. A little less self-involvement would have been nice, but all any of us can do is learn from our history, and try to make changes that make sense.

Recently, we moved 1100 miles from my daughter's hometown, leaving the city she was born in, the house she came home to and the friends she's known since she was a toddler. She is 9. Those friends are in her heart today, and she still talks about them, e-mails them, writes to them - and misses them terribly.  Has she made friends here? A few. Are they as close as those first, fast friends who learned to read at the same time she did? Saw her read a poem onstage in kindergarten? Welcomed her back to class in second grade after she was in hospital? Sent her handmade cards at Christmas after we moved last year? No. I don't know that there ever will be friends like that for her again, but I'm grateful for what she had then, and what she still has now. These first friends still love her, miss her - and take the time to keep her in their lives. She does the same for them, because she knows how special they are - oh, and she doesn't feel the need for the sharksuit, either. 

Even today, I still get to play. With her - and her Barbies.