Tag Archives: Kids

Salutations 2015

Oh! Hey there 2015! You startled me!
How are you? Five months old already? Wow. Where does the time go….
Me? Oh yeah, well, you can say I’ve been a little busy.

I don’t know if anyone told you, but I enrolled in college last summer. Adults go back to school all the time, I know, but in my case it wasn’t so much the going back thing as it was more the just going to part. I wasn’t picking up from where I left off at 19 or 20, because at 19 and 20 I didn’t believe in the future. I believed in part-time jobs, all night parties and never marrying or (shudder to think) having children. Little Niki was kind of a shithead, but we forgive her.

All these years later, my placement test slated me for college-level English and Dumb Blonde Math. About two weeks into Dumb Blonde Math I posted the following: “Quotients are welcome to shove an integer up their respective prime factorizations.” My attitude has yet to improve.

There are three remedial math classes I need to complete before tackling a mandatory pummeling in college algebra. I knocked out the first course last semester. This semester, however, I floundered hopelessly in what I believe was the equivalent of 11th grade algebra and/or Dante’s Seventh Circle of the X Y Interception of Hell. Somewhere along the way, I started to write a blog called “7F{(6u+4.2c)-13k(4M-12a+1t)+3.7h = F*ckM*th” but the title alone exhausted me and I passed out in a pool of my own dim-witted tears.

You see, I just took on too much this semester. I assumed, because I’d managed an English and Math course last semester, with an A and B respectively, that I was a not only a mega-genius but also some kind of full-time-working-mother-super-hero-lady-pants.

Which reminds me, at our marriage counselor’s office (don’t worry, we’re fine, we simply require a communication tune-up every now and then) there’s this series of mental health statements you have to rate via electronic tablet before every session. Ranging from “I feel good today,” to “I want to stab my boss in his/her yapping face hole,” – Strongly AgreeAgree; Undecided; Disagree; Strongly Disagree.
The one that never fails to amuse goes: “I feel like I have special powers.”
Yet, next time we go in for a tune-up, there will be no giggles from me. Just a reluctant admission of “Strongly Agree.”

I strongly agree that I thought I had special powers when I took on four online courses – to include Biology 100 and Dumb Blonde Math II – while still a full-time employee, still a full-time mother to a kindergartner and a 13 year old (ALL THE HORMONES), all during the months when my husband retired from a 24 year career in the military (ALL THE MID-LIFE CRISIS) and our lives changed forever. But, to my dismay, I did not manifest the necessary super human strength, and it turns out that I also need to sleep sometimes. Who knew.

Oh, guess what else? Within the framework of a self-paced online math course, it seems my individual pace is “NO.”
Intermingled with “Fuck this shit” and “I wish I were dead.”

So yes, you could say It’s been a rough five months. Far more difficult than I thought it would be, even though I’ve seen people struggle through it before. When I think of the friends and family who worked toward their degrees in similar situations, they have my eternal respect. Heroes and martyrs – all of them.

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In other news, life is good. My girls are still happy, healthy, and doing great in school, and my husband is slowly but surely navigating life as a civilian – the first step of which appears to be mandatory beard growth (which I thought I’d mind at first …but it’s kinda hot). We’re planning to move this summer. Whether that means locally in AZ or ending up on one of the coasts is, as yet, unknown. In fact, there are so many unknowns just now that if I dwell on them for long enough my chest starts pounding and it gets harder and harder to breathe so, I avoid that. I’m keeping the “future-tripping” to a minimum, and the “right now” on blast. A greatly matured yet slightly suspicious Little Niki lives on.

Also, I’m taking a break from school. Not giving up, just pausing for air. I’ll be one of the “go-backers” next year.
But, do me a favor, will you?  Please tell 2016 to be kind to me?
Thanks, 2015. You’re a peach.

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Letters to a Tall Girl: Part II – From Dad

Dear Maddy,

I can’t tell you what it’s like to not be tall.  I’ve always been tall.  It’s not always easy – clothes are too short, there’s not enough leg room, people always assume you play basketball, you have to be careful so you don’t bang your head or strain your back.  But you know what?  All sizes have their pros and cons.  And very often, human beings want to be what they are not.

My sister had super curly hair – so she wanted straight hair.  You will find that many short people wish they were taller.  Some things we can change to a degree – hair color & length, body weight, getting a tan – but height is not one of them. (Well, shorter people can wear heels or platform shoes.) If you’re tall, you are going to stay tall.  It’s part of who you are; your genetics.  Embrace it.  Be closer to the sun and the stars.  Raise your head and breathe deeply from the clearer air only tall people can reach.  Help shorter people when they need it – change a light bulb, get something from a shelf, look for their friend (or yours) in a crowd.  Hopefully, they will return the favor by crawling under the table to retrieve something you dropped or shoveling snow.

When you are old enough to sit there, you should always try to get an exit row on airplanes – they have much more leg room.  When you have a car, you will need a bigger one for the leg and head room.  Guess what?  Little sporty cars may look “cool”, but bigger vehicles hold more friends and family and stuff from your latest shopping trip.  They are more comfortable on road trips and generally safer.

You have to take fewer steps to get anywhere.  People will literally look up to you (and quite often figuratively too).  Your long arms will give more hugginess to your hugs.  Your high-fives will be higher.  When you are older and out with your friends in a crowded place, you will be able to see them easier, and they will be able to find you quicker.  You will almost always get to sit in the front seat of other peoples’ cars; that is a generally accepted social benefit of being tall.

Sometimes being tall will be awkward, or uncomfortable, but you will get past that.  You are tall.  It is part of who you are.  Accepting that and being comfortable with who you are leads to a happier outlook on life.  It’s not worth being worried about it; your height is here to stay!  Stand up straight, be proud, never let any bring you down for being what you are, and enjoy being a wonderful, lovely, sweet tall young woman.

Lots of love, always,

Dad

GraceInUpwardMotion

Vegexperiment: Day 13

Day 13 of a 30 day vegetarian (accurately, pescatarian) November, and…..screw this. Just kidding.

But I’m sad to report there’s been some serious dissension in the ranks. The eldest child (who kicked off this undertaking by announcing it on facebook) and the eldest, paternal member of the household (who rallied the family to join her in support) have been at odds. Both have confessed to meat cravings, yet both harbor differing opinions on whether or not we should continue on in our noble quest.

To my daughter, my husband said, “You need to follow through on your commitments.” And my daughter countered with, “But I’m 11. I latch onto ideals and speak passionately on all sorts of topics I don’t yet fully understand. I also haven’t the benefit of much life experience; the kind that might aid me with the follow through on such a major lifestyle change. Because, again, I’m 11.” She didn’t say that, of course (because – all together now – she’s 11), instead she sulks in pouty silence and avoids his gaze, but that’s the gist of it.

Her heart still breaks at the idea of suffering animals, but her stomach revolts at the sight of beans and tofu. She loathes them, and many other foods, with the fierce passion that only picky children can irrationally muster. My God, I presented a dish this week that was heavy on quinoa (light, tart, savory, highly recommended) and, by her reaction, you’d have thought I’d just shot her cat. No. Worse. It was like I’d taken her iPhone away. She was positively despondent. And the little one, who refused meat beforehand, also refuses all this substitute bullshit. Making my job so much more not at all any fucking easier. YAY!

Full of Beans

Still, the mister is insisting we persevere (see: stickler). Not so much for personal reasons, but as a lesson to the eldest about sticking to one’s guns, finishing what one starts, and all that character-building jazz. Though I understand and sympathize with his position, our daughter’s pre-existing reluctance to ingest about 8,000 varieties of food means she’s not ready to limit her diet further. She needs to grow past her childhood pickiness and expand her palate before she can truly commit to a meatless way of life. And she definitely needs to be down with the tofurkey on Thanksgiving – which, as of now, she is most assuredly NOT.

And then there’s me, the once self-proclaimed connoisseur of the burger; I’m the only one in the house who enjoys meat yet hasn’t had any longing for it. And that’s a big deal. Quick story…

Once upon a couple years ago, my husband, my children and I joined my ex-husband, his wife, and their small daughter for dinner. It was the first time my husband and my ex-husband had ever met, and the tension was not high but…not exactly relaxed, either. Many details of that meal went swimmingly (another story for another time), but most memorably, my husband and ex-husband’s unexpected bonding moment. I was reviewing the menu and maybe said something about ordering a burger, because my ex piped up, “Yup! Take Niki to a nice restaurant and watch her order a cheeseburger.” And my husband chimed in, “Oh, I know! The Queen of Cheeseburgers!” And they laughed together, like best buddies. Ha. Ha. Ha. (Batsards)

It was then that I realized how your ex(es) and present significant other should NEVER be allowed to convene! It won’t play out the way you think it should. Perhaps you imagine it would go something like, “Ah yes. Indeed we both agree she (or he) is amazing, in countless ways, and made a thoroughly positive, unforgettable impact on our lives. A saint and a goddess (or god), really. How lucky we are to know her (or him).” But in reality it’s more like, “Oh I KNOW! And how she (he) always does this one thing? What a dummy. And, oh wow, she (or he) STILL does THAT other thing? Holy crazeballs!”

And I didn’t even order a stupid burger during that meal. (Bro-moment havin’ bastards).

Yet the anecdote illustrates a point: anyone who knew me before 2008 would assert me to be the “Queen of Cheeseburgers.” I really do love them. And for me to not crave that flesh any longer, it says something. It says I can change. Rather, that I’m ready to. But my daughter, I think she jumped aboard an emotional bandwagon that her taste buds aren’t yet tall enough to ride. You know, she’s always disliked dairy, even cheese (insanity!), so maybe she’ll make an excellent vegan someday. And possibly, in a year or two, she’ll judge the portions on her plate not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their tastiness.

But not today.

At any rate, I’ll be stocking the cupboards this weekend and she’s asked, “Let’s just not have as MUCH meat.” Already done. And this experiment paved the way. Take the fajitas we regularly make for dinner, substituting tofu for steak went over splendidly and everyone agreed to pass on meaty fajitas in the future. A small success. And as I learn more new, appetizing vegetarian recipes that might please my children, we’ll keep taking our baby steps toward discovering a brand new way to eat.

But if you happen to see me out at burger joint (saucy juices running down my chin, something akin to celestial ecstasy in the whites of my rolled back eyeballs)……don’t judge.

Just Like Heaven

Home. He’s home. Back from a year spent in South Korea. One long damned year wherein I thought I’d write more, but every time I went to put words to keystrokes those words ran whiney. Some would say I had the right to whine and some would say I’ve had it amazingly easy, as far as military families go, and I should shut my boo-hooey trap. And it doesn’t matter what people say, I just didn’t feel like whining. Wining, as always, another story all together.

Maybe I’ll revisit those days in a later blog, but for now I’m quite content living these new days. After three weeks vacation he’s gone back to normal work-a-day duties. But even those are slight, until he gets into the rhythm of things. Which means he leaves late and comes home early. Which also means he sucks me into a crazy vortex of laziness. “Come cuddle, and eat delicious snacks, and watch more episodes of The Big Bang Theory,” he beckons. “If the kids are at school/napping we can totally have sexy grown up time, then eat more, and watch more TV….and sleep…sweet sleep. You know you want this.”

And I do. I do want this. So much. I can taste the snacks now.
It’s heaven.

In a Suburb of the Soul

I watched my two girls play in the backyard while I scrubbed soiled dishes. I watched them through my small kitchen window. My eldest, catching me spying, decided to improvise a play. The toddler, having no idea what a play is, devotedly and obediently looked to big sissy for stage direction. And mostly she just emulated her older sister’s every move. Pure idolization.

As often it does, my heart swelled at the sight of them.

At the same time I gave thought to the countless throngs of suburban mothers who have similarly watched their beautiful children at play through kitchen windows – since the dawn of the suburbs themselves – and it may sound very common, and it may seem ever so unspectacular, but that’s where you are mistaken.

Because it was, and is, extraordinary. It was singularly magical and whole.

And in that moment I knew we’d be okay, no matter how it rings of cliché (or attempts to rhyme). We’ll make it, just the three of us, while he’s away. And I can only hope these happy days, these shining moments that come alive in things like kitchen windows, take shape someplace eternal and scared. That, as they say, wouldn’t suck.