Friday, May 28, 2010

Club Forty

One of my earliest childhood memories is talking with my girlfriends about The Kindergarten Shot. It was the topic of discussion that summer of '75. Will it hurt? Will you cry? Band-Aid: yes or no? Eyes open or closed?

No one wanted to get the dreaded needle, of course. But without it, you couldn't get on that glorious yellow schoolbus. And, for Pete's sake, what WAS the point of living if you didn't go to school? So, one by one, whether we went to the doctor's office or the county health clinic, whether we bravely rolled up our sleeve or went down kicking and screaming, whether we brought home a yellow balloon or a red lollipop, we got immunized. Shots happen.

Other benchmark moments included losing baby teeth (proud to be one of the first), riding a two-wheeler (definitely one of the last) and jumping off the high-dive (ten bucks from Mom and the loudest belly flop the Canyon Racquet Club had ever seen).

As a tween and young teen, the girltalk turned to training bras, leg-shaving and what the school nurse called Maturation. Oh, how we giggled at those embarassing TV commercials with the butterflies and the girls in white shorts! It was horrible and fascinating.

But, one by one, whether we were ready or not, Old Lady Puberty started in on us. By the end of ninth grade, we all emerged from her clutches, humbled by acne and bad perms. Embarassed-slash-proud that we were starting to look like grown ups.

High school female chatter was all about the driver's license and the junior prom. (Don't ask.) In our twenties, we discussed getting a degree, an apartment, a job, a husband. By my early thirties, I had been to so many baby showers, I could recite hundreds of pregnancy, labor and delivery stories without ever having set foot in a maternity ward.

And when I did finally get my babies, I had all kinds of mommy mentors to guide me. Because girlfriends talk and share and warn and advise.

So, girlfriends. What's next?

In six weeks, I will be 40 years old and I'm not sure what that means. If 5 year olds go to kindergarten and 16 year olds learn to drive, what do 40 year olds do?

If you are a member of Club Forty, I would love to hear from you. I know you have some good advice for me, girlfriends always do. What do you love about this decade? Any books, workouts, products you think a newbie should know about? Any regrets? Any secrets?

I don't know if I want to kick and scream all the way or just take a deep breath and roll up my sleeve. But, I guess, like that dreaded kindergarten needle, forty is inevitable.

Red lollipop, anyone?

Monday, May 24, 2010

The First of the Lasts

I'm giving myself exactly 26 minutes to blog tonight.

I do not have time to spend on the computer. But I want to a place for all these memories while they're still fresh. So please excuse spelling and grammatical errors.

Right now, life is full. I am just trying to soak up every last day of our Bucks County existence. The calendar is packed with celebrations of all kinds and "just-one-more-time" kinds of outings. It's a month of lasts.

Jake's last concert with The Amazing Mr. Capriotti

Today was our last piano lesson. Not terribly sad.

But, earlier, we had our last pediatrician's appointment and I almost cried. It was hard to say thank you and good bye to my home-away-from-home of more than a decade.

That office kept me well-stocked with Amoxicillin and Cefzil for years. They always squeezed me in when someone had strep. And, on one particularly heinous visit with all four screaming darlings in tow, the receptionist told me that even though my kids were sick and miserable, I looked good! She made my day and I will never forget her.

A last shot of me & Danelle... I love her even though she wears a size 00.

I've had some "lasts" with my sweet friend, Danelle this week. Over the years we have been side by side in so many places--Target, baby showers, spin classes, presidency meetings, book club, birthday dinners, temple trips, visiting teaching (Oh, those lucky ladies who were fortunate enough to have us and our parade of preschoolers come spread sisterly cheer into their home each month!).

Now D and I are side by side in parallel moves Out West. Moving within days of one another. It's been fun to have someone to compare real estate agents and moving companies together. We share the excitement of being closer to families and the wistfulness of leaving dear friends. Still, these venting sessions are numbered too. We'll be in the same time zone, but probably not in the same spin class. I am going to miss her.

Another last...I discovered I'm not really a yard sale person this weekend.

Right now, I feel caught between my two realities. Am picking cabinets and carpets for a new home while still filling and vacuuming the old ones. Just because your life is topsy-turvy and there are 150,000 things on your to-do list doesn't mean you get to quit your day job.

Our neighbor's amazing backyard " Welcome Summer" bash. This is probably the last summer party I'll attend wearing a rainjacket.

Also, hopefully, the last time I ever sing all 14 minutes of Bye Bye Miss American Pie, karaoke-style. I blush just remembering.

Some lasts I am looking forward to: last ball game, last day the alarm rings at 5:03 AM, last homework assignment, last rush to catch that wretched midday kindergarten bus--which is either so early we're breathless or so late the twins have lost their shoes and backpacks.

Also hoping this is the last time Em "trims" her own hair. She has a history with self-barbering, as many of you will remember. A few years ago she looked like a young Haley Joel Osment. Now her bangs look just like her dad's.

I went over my self-imposed time limit by 11 minutes. Oh well.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Life, Numerically Speaking

Number of autographs on Luke's blue cast--37

Days until I retire from Seminary teaching--11

Consecutive days I have skipped exercise this month--13

Number of nights spaghetti has been served for dinner in May--3

Number of children who gag when served spaghetti--1

School days remaining--22

Number of cavities filled in my mouth yesterday--3 (but it felt like a lot more)

Concerts/field days/class picnics/parties to attend--16

Pounds of our stuff the movers will pack, box and truck cross-country--16,499

Ball games remaining this season--10

Days til we move--33
Books I need to return to the library--9

Normally, I hate numbers. But it was oddly comforting to total things up mathematically tonight. I guess because numbers are just so final and unemotional and don't gag when you serve spaghetti.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Alzheimer's and Yard Sales

This was my airline companion last weekend. Excellent read. So sad. The story of a young woman who develops Alzheimer's in the prime of her life. I didn't know much about the reality and tragedy of the disease, but I learned a lot. Fascinating and heartbreaking.

I recommend the book very highly, unless you are a hypochondriac. (Not mentioning names, here. You know who you are.) Because even a non-hypochondriac, like me, closes the book and becomes absolutely certain that each ordinary, airhead mistake is a sure sign of early onset Alzheimer's.

Otherwise, two thumbs up.

The other exciting development in my life is our first ever yard sale this weekend!

Can you believe we've never had one before? Completely out of my element here and needing tips, folks. Simple strategies for selling everything quick, without a whole lot of effort.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Late Breaking News

Luke is officially a man now.

Until last night, he was the only male in the family to have his original, God-given bone structure intact. And I think he was a little embarassed about it.

But, anyone acquainted with Luke knew that his days as a fracture-virgin were numbered. All it took was a late night tee-ball practice, a dare-devil move on the climbing structure and a pair of slippery sneakers.
Snap! Broken humeris and his initiation into the Broken Bone Boys Club was complete.
We're very proud.
In another health-related story, Jake's upper braces were removed yesterday. Fifth-grade girls everywhere are reporting heart palpitations.
(You haven't seen his retainer anywhere, have you?)
And, finally, I am happy to report that Emily won the flower arranging contest sponsored by her school! She will compete in the district competition later this month. Her brothers were not impressed until they heard about the grand prize: $200 cash.
Now they think it's the coolest thing you can do around here...without breaking a bone.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New House Nuptials

Brad and I headed out west this weekend so I could meet the new house.

I confess, I was scared and felt like I was going on the biggest blind date of my life.

Or, more accurately, like I was the bride at an arranged marriage.

Would the new place need a lot of work?

A woman's touch?

Or just some window treatments?

I am happy to report that the new house is lovely.

A far cry from our center hall colonial, but it has the potential for true desert beauty.
I am excited now. But, initially, there was some weeping.

Poor Brad. It was hard for me to explain that the tears weren't just about crown molding and entryway tiles. They were all tied up in leaving friends, baby furniture and peony bushes behind. Turning 40 and sending the twins to first grade. Figuring out the next chapter in my life.
And besides, all brides cry a little. Right?
I'll be just fine.
Now we're home and I'm gearing up for the final trek west.

(But it might not be much of a honeymoon.)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

On Moving and Mothers

This month, whenever I start feeling overwhelmed by the whole house-selling-house-buying-moving-far-away thing, I stop and try to channel my mother-in-law. She is a woman who knows how to move. Literally. And she's done it over and over again.

My mother-in-law with the beginnings of her darling family...circa 1970?

Brad's mom moved dozens of times around the country while her kids were little and not-so-little. His dad often had to start working in the new location, leaving her alone to raise the kids and sell the house. Of course, at the same time, she was usually Relief Society President for church and/or pregnant with another baby and probably sewing all her children matching Easter outfits.

(Also, making homemade oatmeal cookies so good that they cannot ever be replicated. I am a pretty decent cookie baker, but to this day, every time I attempt the oatmeal variety, Brad gets this faraway look on his face and wistfully says, "Y'know my mom used to make the BEST oatmeal cookies. You should get her recipe." Of course, I have been using her recipe for at least sixteen years. But they just never quite measure up to the oatmeal cookies of his past. Nana is seriously that good.)

And even more amazing than the cookies is, that even with the constant upheaval of his childhood, Brad doesn't remember his mom ever yelling at the kids or crying in her bedroom or giving his dad the silent treatment.

No wonder he finds our marriage a little puzzling.

Talking last night, Brad was reminiscing about all the fun he had growing up in such a mobile family. Watching the movers bring in his boxes of toys and setting up his new room. Taking his bicycle right off the truck and riding around an unfamiliar neighborhood, hoping to find kids his age. It was always an adventure. Always fun. And I credit his mom for making it such a positive part of his life.

Books, bangs and wallpaper--Mom and me

My own mother didn't have to uproot her family nearly as often. But she did teach me the art of making a home. Mom had an artistic flair for decorating. When I was little, she always seemed to be in the middle of some amazing home project--sanding an old table, tying a quilt or looking at wallpaper sample books. Mom really enjoyed wallpaper.

My childhood home was unique. None of my friends' houses had family names carved onto the mantlepiece. None had moms who designed furniture and got featured in remodeling magazines. None had walls covered with maps and menus and matchboxes from around the world. Or Swiss murals painted across the whole back of the house. Our home was different and interesting and surprising. Just like my mom.

When circumstances changed, and Mom had to move from her dream home to a less-glamorous model, she made the best of her surroundings. She made sure the important things were in place--a big kitchen table, a piano with lots of sheet music, comfy chairs and plenty of bookshelves. And, of course, wallpaper in every room.

Mom is great at analyzing spaces. When she came to help me after I'd had the twins, she took a quick look around and told me exactly where to put changing pads and diaper pails and dirty clothes' baskets. She sorted and outfitted my car so that I could grab everything I'd need without unbuckling my seatbelt. A week with Mom can be an intense organizational orgy.

This Mother's Day, as I attempt to deconstruct one nest and start feathering another, I am grateful for mothers who have taken me under their wings. Just being in their homes and watching them live has taught me tremendously.

I may not make great oatmeal cookies or have an eye for wallpaper, but I DO know that a loving mother can bless an entire family. And I am doubly blessed.

Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Window in His Smile

All four of my children have been last among their peers to get and lose baby teeth. This is tough because everybody knows that a gap-toothed grin is the ultimate kindergarten status symbol. So Sam was completely thrilled when his first little chopper came out at school today. Not only did the event totally dominate Circle Time, but he also got to visit the school nurse and received a plastic treasure box, a brushing chart and a sticker! Heady stuff.

Once home, he lost and found the tooth at least half a dozen times. It's hard work keeping such a tiny pearl safe until bedtime.

(P.S. I am very proud of Luke. He has been supportive and hidden his envy well. It must be tough to watch your twin excel in tooth-losing and (worse!) money-getting. Especially when you don't have even the teensiest of wiggles in your own mouth.)

Anyway, I am happy we have some tooth stories on the bookshelf. It's a fun way to make bedtime a little more special.

Little Rabbit's Loose Tooth by Lucy Bate.

A classic. I remember reading it at the dentist's office when I was little.

The Holiday Handwriting School by Robin Pulver

The twins want SO MUCH to believe in the Tooth Fairy even with all the doubtful comments from the sophisticated third- and fifth-graders in the family. What better way to comfort them than a book all about the Tooth Fairy and her buddies, Santa & the Easter Bunny?

Throw Your Tooth on the Roof by Selby B. Beeler

Do you know kids in South America throw their teeth on the roof? African children plant them in the ground. French children leave them for the Tooth Rat to find. Fun and educational. Enjoy!

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