Tuesday, March 11, 2014
This morning I stopped by the office to take care of a final detail before we leave on the big journey. I reached for my phone to send Husband a text and--whoops. Guess what's still in its charging station next to my bed?
This does not bode well.
**I still have time to go home and retrieve it. Whshew.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 9:14 AM
Monday, March 10, 2014
|My new luggage|
Tomorrow I will be on my way to the nation's capital for a conference, followed by a couple of days of
I am a terrible, terrible packer. I have lived long enough and gone enough places that I know all the rules: Lay out everything you plan to take with you on the bed, then leave half of it at home. (Half the stuff, not half the bed. Leave the whole bed at home.) When you're planning what you'll wear think about the weather forecast of the place you're going no matter how hot/cold/rainy/snowy/windy/ beautiful it looks right now immediately outside your window. If you have to think twice about whether you need it, you don't.
That's what my head knows. What my heart knows is this: I might need it. And by "it," I mean the third pair of shoes, the second jacket, another book, the extra t-shirt, a second extra t-shirt, a cozy robe in case the hotel room is chilly, work-out clothes, one more book, and a rice bag. And while my heart is thinking about that rice bag (how am I going to get through a week without having it to warm my cold hands? what if I pull a muscle?) I completely forget my phone charger and earbuds, any kind of jewelry, my business cards, my refillable water bottle, an umbrella, and socks.
Now that I'm sitting here overthinking it, what about a hat? We're going to be outside all of Saturday, and I don't want to overheat. And granola bars, so that I don't raid the mini-fridge and bankrupt myself. And some homemade cookies for One and LG....
Never mind. I have my ticket and my photo ID, and anything I forget is for sale on the other end of the flight.
Watch out, D.C.--here I come!
Posted by MomQueenBee at 11:56 AM
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Omigosh, omigosh, omigosh!
Yesterday when I got home from work the postman had left a package on my front porch, and it was the MOST EXCITING THING EVER! I mean...well, let me back up a step or two.
One of the blogs I read is written by the lovely R who, much like Jerry McGuire, had me at the blogger's equivalent of 'hello.' Her site heading says she is "Another mother doing her best and hoping it is good enough." This philosophy completely nails motherhood. Completely. What sets Doing My Best apart from the rest of us in the blogosphere, though, is the second part of her heading: "Also trying to make the world a better place, one Crappy Day Present at a time."
Yes! R came up with the concept of the Crappy Day Present. Sometimes when you've had a truly terrible day, all you want is someone to give you a piece of chocolate and say "there, there." But sometimes (cough tax season cough) there is no one around to do that, so R invited the entire internet to be that someone with an impeccably organized system whereby you are assigned to send someone a box of little gifts you think she would like. Go to her blog and see how it works because I'm doing a truly terrible job of explaining it, but the bottom line is that I signed up for it, and a couple of weeks ago I sent off a box of goodies to the person I had been assigned. At about the same time R e-mailed me that I was going to be REALLY EXCITED when I saw who she had assigned to be my CDP buddy.
It isn't that I don't trust R (I mean, she has the perfect mothering philosophy, which is to say it's the same as mine) but I'm a jaded old broad, and I countered her excitement with a swoony sigh, a Greta Garbo-ish, "Of course, my dear. I'm sure you are most correct. Sigh. It's February. Whatever."
Yesterday my Crappy Day Package arrived on the porch.
OH MY GOSH!
OMIGOSH! OMIGOSH! OMIGOSH!
My Crappy Day Partner is ALEXA STEVENSON!
ALEXA STEVENSON! FLOTSAM! SQUEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!
I went from being jaded old broad to this baby in no seconds flat.
You may not be reading Flotsam, but you should be. Really. I discovered Alexa years and years ago, before she was married, and I began reading because I loved the way she writes. She was funny, and she was human, and she showed the reality of her life which included a photo of her messy apartment. I was charmed.
And then Alexa got married, and eventually she got pregnant with twins and that experience and the birth of her daughter kept me refreshing my browser compulsively to find out what was happening to the 1 lb. 11 oz. preemie. Alexa kept us updated in a way that made me laugh and cry and pray for this tiny, tiny baby and her mother even though I had never met them.
Okay, I won't spoil the story but let me just say that the baby is now in school, and the account of her entry into the world became the basis of Alexa's book, Half Baked: The Story of My Nerves, My Newborn, and How We Both Learned to Breathe. Yes, that book. A real book, printed on pages and sold in bookstores, the one that was on Anne Lamott's list of favorite books.
I read every excerpt I could get my hands on and they were funny and human and completely captured the clutch-hearted emotions of a mom who was afraid her child was going to die. I've been there; I know those emotions, but I was incoherent in their grasp. Alexa spoke them onto paper.
And when Simone was out of danger, Alexa kept writing her blog. Today she and her husband have two daughters and I feel as if I know them, because I "know" their mom. She hates the word "impactful" (BECAUSE IT IS AN ABOMINATION! YES! IT IS!) and her blog posts are tagged with descriptions such as "Deplorable Solipsism." Yesterday a box of goodies from ALEXA STEVENSON arrived on my front porch! With my name written on the box with ALEXA STEVENSON'S ACTUAL HAND!
Inside were all kinds of goodies that will make my crappy days so much less crappy, goodies that were chosen and wrapped in colorful tissue paper in spite of The Plague that was plaguing the Flotsam Family at the time the box needed to be mailed.
Really, at that point I couldn't justify opening anything from the box because does that baby up there look like it's having a crappy day? Only if literally (and I am using this correctly) dancing around the kitchen with joy qualifies as a symptom. But one of my sons had a disappointing day yesterday. It was nothing that will leave a permanent scar, but I was disappointed along with him (a mother is only as happy as her unhappiest child, you know). So I dug down in the box and pulled out a flat package that I hoped would be...
And it was for ME!
Alexa Stevenson, you can't imagine how much I admire your writing. I think we could be best friends, except that you live eight states away and are young enough to not have any idea who that swooning actress is up there, and I must admit that even I think this post is kind of creepy as I re-read what I've written. But we have almost the same kind of glasses!
And I'm sorry, Kelly who was my Crappy Day Present recipient, that there is no possible way you could be even one-gabillionth as excited about the box of goodies from the House on the Corner.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 11:02 AM
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
|My siblings and my father (and me) on Saturday. MOS is second from left.|
The other three inductees were wonderful choices--their nominators spoke of countless hours spent pursuing performance excellence with their students, and ensembles that increased in size, and top ratings in contests. Then it was time for my sister to be introduced. She started out as a music teacher, but for the past quarter century she has been an arts administrator in an inner city school district.
I won't get this exactly right, because I wasn't taking notes, but I cried when the presenter spoke:
"She has made it her life's calling to bring the the beauty of music and art to a population whose greatest common denominator is poverty," the presenter said.
Think about that for a second. Her students come in all ethnic minorities, but they're all poor. They're all ages from pre-kindergarten to high school seniors, but they're all poor. They have all configurations of families, from single parent to extended family living groups, but they're all poor.
These aren't the families who grow up like we did--a nuclear family singing four-part harmony on car rides and knowing that we would go without new shoes or fancy vacations before our parents would let us go without music lessons. The parents of these kids are running as fast as they can just to keep the rent paid and food on the table.
So my sister makes sure the students in her schools don't miss out on the important things of life. She writes grants to bring Alvin Ailey dancers to her districts, and shepherded a nationally-emulated group that brings free concerts and performances to thousands of urban students. And she isn't just good at funding--her administrative style is to pitch in and do what needs to be done. (If you know her, ask my sister about driving a compact car packed with members of a mariachi band across Kansas City, while she leaning out the driver's window to hold the string bass on the roof with her non-steering hand.)
I started this blog post thinking I would talk about how my dad and all of my siblings braved some terrible roads on Saturday to be there for MOS's big day, and how proud our mom would have been of her oldest child. I was going to say that this day was a symbol that of all the things that have held us together as a family, music is near the top of the list. Instead, I'm reminded that my sister, who could have chosen a career that was a lot less work for a lot more money, has invested her time in the lives of her family, and her colleagues, and her students who are economically poor but rich in opportunity because of her influence. The presenter summed up her powerful legacy perfectly:
"She brings joy to every room she enters."
Posted by MomQueenBee at 3:32 PM
Monday, March 3, 2014
"Yup," he tells everyone, "she's two years older than I am."
When I protest that the gap is actually less than 16 months, he uses numbers to confuse me.
"What year did you graduate from high school? What year did I graduate from high school? Aren't those two years apart? And what year did you graduate from college? What year did I graduate from college? Aren't those THREE years apart? So actually I'm giving you the benefit of the math."
"But...but...but I started first grade when I was five! And I graduated from college in 3 1/2 years!"
I sputter and count on my fingers the gap between November and March, then add a year for the actual year I know I am older, and carry the one, and numbers numbers numbers, and then I give up. I'm even more confused during December, January, and February, when the gap in our ages is two years rather than one.
So what if I'm older? Age is only a number, and even though Husband's number is smaller by an unknown amount than my number, I do not have his encyclopedic knowledge of old movies, with the parallel talent of being able to quote entire pages of script from Sons of Katie Elder and The Great Escape. I am, however, much more savvy about social media. Which of us knows that # is pronounced "hashtag" and not "number sign"? That would be me.
What I have had over the years, because I'm older, is the opportunity to train up Husband into the way he should go. I've helped him relax his standards on orderliness. (Just one example: Before we were married he kept track of every single expenditure over $1, even if he spent cash for it. By the time he had finished merging our checkbooks, he was just grateful when I recorded the majority of my checks, and that silly cash stuff? Not a big deal. You're welcome.)
Because I am older I have spoken with authority about dirty car mats, and their lack of indication of sloth. ("They're floor mats! They're made to be dirty!") I've also been able to turn him away from his pre-marriage habit of storing books in the kitchen cupboards.
And in spite of my elderly status, he has been a most excellent Husband--the picture on today's post was taken as we waited for the Boys' flights to arrive before the Wedding of the Century. It was late at night and we were exhausted and the the international airport was deserted, so of course we got the giggles, and of course I took a selfie.
Our ages aren't important. What is important is that we've shared 30 years, four sons, and two lives, and those are the numbers that count.
But today, Husband, you are WITHIN ONE of my age! Mwahahahaha!
Posted by MomQueenBee at 3:15 PM
Friday, February 28, 2014
A follow-up to the dessert conundrum: People, that was pretty good pie. The Vanilla Pecan Pie did not disappoint, although the crust was the approximate consistency of a shingle after baking once for the cheesecake part and once for the pie part. Next time I'll make my own dough, but the recipe is going into the keep file.
Sadness in my life last week: Our get-away weekend to see Boy#4 before he graduates meant that I missed the Small Town spelling bee. It was last Friday night, and apparently the major news outlets did not cover the event because I have not yet heard who won. But there's a confession to go along with the sadness: The first emotion I felt when I knew I would not be defending my title as Top Speller On One Night In The Crapshoot That Is A Spelling Bee? Relief. Because have I mentioned that spelling bees are crapshoots, and that had I gotten some of the other words in last year's bee I might very well not have won? Yes. This way I got to retire undefeated due to circumstances beyond my control.
Did any of you grow up being doctored with Merthiolate? When I was a kid that orange liquid was the cure-all for the skinned knees and roughed-up elbows that came with kid-dom. It burned with a blue-hot flame when it hit raw skin and the orange tint was a badge of bravery that didn't wash off. The other day I was telling one of the young'uns in the office about Merthiolate, which they had NEVER HEARD OF, and I Googled it so these whippersnappers could see how their pansy germ-killers that don't hurt also don't kill germs. Do you know what I found? The most prominent ingredient in Merthiolate is MERCURY. Seriously, mercury of the kind that is found in the warnings on old thermometers. After all these years I realized that my mother had been trying to kill me. Between that and the lack of car restraints (throwing an arm out as she braked doesn't count) it's a wonder I survived to adulthood.
A few years ago I discovered Cafe Bustelo. It is sold in WalMart and is the cheapest coffee on the shelves, but also is the opposite of weak and immediately took me back to my days in the Peace Corps when I was in coffee paradise. It tasted just like 3 p.m. in Costa Rica, when the whole world stopped and drank coffee together.
It turned out that I was way behind the curve in discovering the yellow can. A New York Times article in 2009 (five YEARS ago!) featured Cafe Bustelo: "Potent, cheap and with an aura of both urban exotica and blue-collar utility, it’s long been an item on the bohemian shopping list, even making it into the lyrics to Rent ('Bustelo, Marlboro, banana by the bunch')." I must be bohemiam, because if you leave out the Marlboros, that could be my shopping list.
Put your thumb way up for Cafe Bustelo. Then wrap that thumb around a cup of it, and enjoy.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 10:20 AM
Thursday, February 27, 2014
I didn't have my first migraine until I was in Costa Rica and too arrogant to wear a hat in the equatorial sun. After a couple of overheatings, though, I began to get headaches. These were unlike any headaches I'd ever had before--not just painful, these episodes were debilitating.
It was like having a bear in my head, a bear that spent most of its time in hibernation but occasionally woke up to stretch unhappily against my forehead. It would stretch and grow, getting angrier and more vicious as it found itself trapped. Most of the time it didn't bite--it just pushed, hard, but then it would swipe a paw against the top of my head, or bite the back of my eyeball. The flashes of pain were almost a relief after the unrelenting pressure.
Nothing I did appeased the bear--not ibuprofen, not darkness, not quiet, not rest. The only remedy was sleep, and it hurt too much to sleep. If I found a position on the pillow that seemed to make the bear less angry I would lock into that position, keeping my head still until my all my muscles shrieked, but still I was awake. I finally understood why trepanation had been a medical mainstay of ancient civilizations: A hole bashed into my skull would at least have diverted my attention from the original headache.
Eventually the pain would be so intense that I would vomit, which would push me over the cliff into sleep.When I woke up the pain would be gone. I'd feel fragile and easily broken, but the bear was back in its cave.
I continued to have migraines when I got back to Kansas, and as I married and we began our family. Over the years I tried to map the cause of the migraines but the bear didn't attack often, only six or eight times per year, and I never could pin down the precipitating factor. Was the bear provoked by caffeine? Soothed by caffeine? Were the headaches hormonal? Stress-induced?
I only knew that when my vision began to blur and dim, I needed to wrap up what I was doing and make sure the Boys had someone to care for them. For the next 18 hours, I would be unable to do my job.
Yesterday morning the bear pushed against my forehead when I was still asleep. I stumbled to the bathroom and took two ibuprofen, hoping to calm it back into hibernation. I had an important work meeting I didn't want to miss. Two hours later, though, I was still shaky and nauseated, and I went back to bed.
Today I'm fine but yesterday I didn't write, or work, or think. I was battling the bear in my head.
Posted by MomQueenBee at 10:56 AM