Thursday, October 21, 2010

Holy Heartache!

I feel like I am missing an appendage this week. In 6th grade, all Hopkinton Middle School students go away for a week to a camp in Connecticut. It's a great experience for the kids...they do team building exercises, science experiences, hike, do crafts, stay in cabins, and eat in a big mess hall type of atmosphere. It's one big camping trip with all your friends and no parents. Jack went last year and loved it...minus the broken wrist he suffered on the second to last day there (see my previous post on having the most accident prone child in America). It was cool though because he got to go Wendy's with the school nurse and he got attention because of his sling. Mimi comes home tomorrow and so far no calls about broken bones...so far so good. But it's been a long week....for me.

The week preceeding her departure, I think I must have told Mimi about 5 times a day how much I would miss her, followed by, "But you are going to love this!" I knew she would love it...and wouldn't miss me much. When I was working, she would basically spend the summer at the Cape with my parents, splitting her time at my sister's with her best friend and cousin Lexi. At one point she stayed there for 3 weeks straight (we had visitation on the weekends...) and she really didn't miss us. She loves to be independent and if truth be told, she is pretty much ready to move to her own apartment. So, I knew she would have no problems being away for a week. Sure, at night when she is going to bed, she will think about us and miss us but for the most part, I knew she would be fine. It was me that I knew wasn't going to be fine.

Monday came and she was so excited to go. We had the car parked and she was hugging Tim...aka, man of few emotions. She looks up at him, batting her big beautiful eyelashes and she says "Daddy, are you EVEN going to miss me?!" He didn't even bat an eyelash, "Of course I will miss you but I'm not sad you are going because I know you are going to have a great time." She hugged him really hard and then ran out of the house with tears in her eyes. She takes after Timmy...doesn't display any complex emotions in front of others.

Years ago we were on vacation and my friend was coming over to feed our cat. She called me on day 3 and said that she hadn't seen the cat at all. Because she was an indoor cat I immediately thought that somehow she must have got out and was eaten by some wild critter. I was a mess. I called our neighbors in tears and left them messages to please look for her. I'm pretty sure the messages were more like "It's Kelly....insert sobbig...Gracie...missing....please....find her....sob, sob....call me." We were out to dinner towards the end of our vacation and my friend called to say that she had found her in the basement...curled up for her final nap. I had her for 14 years and with all pets you have before your children, you treat them like a baby. This was my "first child" and she died. I was heartbroken. And the waitresses probably thought a family member had died. I went to the restroom to collect myself and when I got back to the table with my swollen eyes, Jack was curled up in the fetal position in the booth quietly crying (like I wanted to be doing) and there was Mimi next to Tim saying "Boy, these burgers are GREAT, Daddy...don't you think?!" and he was batting his lashes excessively saying "They REALLY are!" They are two peas in a pod when it comes to their feelings.

So, I was basically in the fetal position all week while Mimi was living the high life on burgers at camp. When I dropped her off at school she tried to scoot away from me but I quickly grabbed her, told her how much I loved her while squeezing her guts out. She ran away with tears in her eyes...neither of us could look at each other. I then walked back to my car...across the long parking lot, with tears streaming down my face. Later, I got a message from my friend that said "I know Mimi is okay...but how are you...are you bawling your eyes out or what?!" I couldn't respond...because I was rocking myself in the fetal position.

In all honesty, I have slept with her little guy she normally sleeps with all week...I even sniffed him because it smelled like her. Yes, I just admitted that out loud. When Jack got home on Monday I started asking him, "Do you think she misses me?" to which he responded "Ah...no, Mom...she is having fun." It was a great "opportunity" to teach him about when lying is appropriate. I explained that sometimes it is okay to tell white lies to make people feel good. He said "But you have always told me lying is bad..." so all week we have talked about good lies vs. bad lies. Tonight we had a quiz. It started with "Do you think Mimi is missing me right now?" to which he quickly responded "Oh, yes"...good, good. Then I said "Do these pants make my butt look fat?" and he hesitated and said "yes?" No, no! Any sort of questions regarding appearance require white lies...unless I would be really embarrassed in public. I said, "When I have morning hair and I drive you to the bus stop and ask 'Should I put a hat on?' what should you say?" he quickly responded "Yes, your hair is CRAZY in the morning!" Good, good. We went through several other training exercises and he passed with his final question..."Do you think Mimi is dying to see me as much as I am to see her?" Yes!

I have not had anyone to watch my "lady shows" with, as Tim calls them. On Monday nights, Mimi and I usually watch Dancing With The Stars" but this week I was watching Monday night football. OMG. Tonight Jack got to do whatever he wanted since it was his last night as an "only child". We ate steak and cheese subs while watching tv and drinking sodas. He told me, play by painful play, of every pass and catch in the flag football game in gym that made his day "awesome". I wouldn't trade that moment for anything and we all have moments with our kids that are priceless. I am grateful for the week with Jack - we have played football in the yard, had great conversations that we would only have in private, and wrestled by holding each other down and forcing the other to smell each other's dirty socks...doing things you can only do with boys. And now I am ready for my "lady friend" to come home...I can't wait to hug Mimi, see her beaming smile, sniff her, cuddle up with her, and hold hands while we sit on the couch and chat about her week.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Tradionalists' Point of View

I would call myself a tradionalist, not in my viewpoints, but rather I am one who appreciates traditions. Things need to have meaning for me. The things I keep in my house, things that I display, carry memories that are important to me. In my office I have several pieces of pottery that I made in elementary school...coil pots, pinch pots, a little bunny that is lopsided because he only has one foot. I loved creating those...I can still remember the smell of the art room. I have every piece of sea glass I have ever found. I recently put them in a bottle of sand from a beach on the Cape. I love looking at that bottle every day...it reminds me of the Cape where I grew up and all the trips I have taken with my family when I found each piece. Everything in my house has a story....a story of its own and a story of how it came to be a piece of me.

Last weekend was very meaningful for me in many ways. We spent our last camping weekend of the season in Vermont. Traveling throughout the remote VT roads made me think of a trip that Tim and I took early on in our relationship. His parents had a place at Loon Mountain and we stayed there one weekend during the fall. We spent a day driving between the VT/NH border watching fields of green diving into the sparkling blue Connecticut River. We often rode in silence, while other times we talked about building a future together. We stopped at antique stores and poked around for treasures and found quaint places for lunch and dinner. I know that when the kids are grown up and have their own lives, that is what we will spend our days doing...traveling, enjoying small town America, being comfortable in our silence, while also having fun, thought provoking conversations. Last Saturday, the four of us spent the day exploring Southern Vermont, in much the same way. We went from Bennington, to Brattleboro, to Newfane, to Wilmington, and back around to Pownal, where our campground was.

It sounds idyllic, doesn't it? I guess I'm leaving out the part about the kids watching Seinfeld DVD's and being forced to look out the window from time to time...."Look at that beautiful view!" we would say. They would try and tear themselves away from George and Kramer, quickly look, and give a quick smile just to appease us. Occasionally they would ask "Are we almost done with this?" and I would throw them some candy to quiet them down. Other times, the drive was just too long for them and at one point they broke out in a full WWF smackdown because Mimi's foot touched Jack's leg. We aren't dating anymore....welcome to parenthood.

Throughout the weekend, we also spent some time with Tim's sister and her family, and his parents, who were at his sister's new place in Wardsboro, VT. The place is a kid's dream...tons of acres to run around, a pond to fish in, little critters to catch and hunt. They had a blast, and yet they spent the day without tv, video games, and ipods. Instead, they ran outside all day, they used their minds to create games, and they explored nature. Not once did they say they were bored. This is how I remember spending my days as a child...just outside, playing with friends all day. We used our creativity to make the day fun and interesting. When we got home, Jack just wanted to go outside and play. He ran down to the stream to look for salamanders, and Mimi went out to her playhouse. Every once in awhile, kids just need to be reminded to be kids.

On our way home, we stopped in Williamstown, which truly looks like a Hollywood New England Town. It was parents weekend at Williams college and we jokingly described our arrival at their parents' weekends in the future. "Imagine your friends faces when we pull up in our RV and plug into your dorm!" I think Mimi passed out. Literally. Jack yelled "Nooo!! You wouldn't really do that would you?" I pledged to them that we would stay in a hotel while Timothy promised he would make sure we didn't run into any "sewer issues" with the RV on campus. Before we know it, they will be going off to college. That's why I love this time with them. We will forever look back on these few years and all the travels we have taken, all the experiences we have had, with great fondness and laughter. Some day, in the not so distant future, we will be sitting at parents weekend, having dinner, laughing about the time we threatened to bring our RV to visit, and then the conversation will turn to that weekend and what a great time we had in VT.

I love that every Columbus Day weekend we take our last camping trip of the season. It's a tradition for us. I love that when we get up in the morning, we need hats and gloves when we go outside. I love building a big fire at the end of the day, putting on our coats, and making smores for dessert. I love that we snuggle under thick blankets and sleeping bags at the end of the day and discuss our day in the dark before drifing off to sleep. Of course that moment, right before we drift off to sleep, is usually broken by cries of "Can you tell him to move over...he is on my side of the bed!" and "She is looking at me and I'm trying to go to sleep!" Ah, tradition...what would we do without it?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dark and Stormy

When I got back from Ohio, I was laying in bed with Mimi and she asked if I had fun that weekend. I shared with her a life lesson that I didn't want her to forget. "You will always love your family and miss them when you go away but" I said, "it's so important to take time for yourself and take time with just your husband every once in awhile." I told her it didn't mean I didn't want to be with them, but those little times when you get to sneak away are key to your happiness as a person. "Mimi, you can never forget that you are an individual and you need to make sure you take time for you and what makes you happy."

I am lucky enough to have had the opportunity to have a girl's weekend two weekends ago and then time with my hubby and friends last weekend. On Friday, Tim and I jetted off to Nantucket with 4 other couples for a sailing weekend. We didn't actually jet or sail tho. Initially, some of us (note: there is no "me" in "us") were going to sail over, while the others took the ferry over, but the weather didn't look too good so we all opted to just take the fast ferry and stay at an Inn.

Group #1 departed late morning, arriving on the island to sunny skies, around noon. I should mention that, true to form, I packed 5 pair of shoes, 6 sweaters, 6 pairs of pants, multiple tops, workout gear, and enough accessories for each wardrobe change. It's important to be prepared and look cute. It's also important to pay attention when you use your cell phone's GPS...so that you don't walk the driving directions. This can be a problem when it's warm and sunny and you are pack muling 2 bags and a purse in a complete circle.

After dropping off our stuff at the Inn, we headed to Arno's at 41 Main for a delicious lunch accompanied by a few beers from the local brew house, Cisco Brewery. Then it was off to pick up our rental jeep and head to the actual brewery for some fun. On our way, the skies opened up to some crazy wind and lots of rain. Not only were the skies darkening, but our day was beginning to turn...

While at the brewery we came across Bernie from Weekend at Bernie's. We had fun taking our picture with him laying in his adirondack chair when we thought he was dead. I think that is when his wife took notice of us and said that he was a nurse that had been on call for like 24 hours. Oh...sorry. Last call at the brewery was at 5:00. What the what??!! In hindsight, that was a good thing. Bernie probably would have ended up in our jeep if we stayed much longer.

Group #2 arrived around 5:30 and we met them at the closest bar to the ferry...because surely they would be thirsty after their travels...and it was pouring so we needed someplace to go to stay dry. The most logical place is a bar, right? This is when half of the group started downing Dark & Stormy's. It is the most logical drink to have when experiencing a rain storm, right? It's unclear (maybe not to all of us) how long we were at the bar but eventually we returned to the Inn to drop off Group #2's bags and change...except I don't think anyone actually changed. I have no more comments on this part of the day....Insert beeping of emergency broadcast system here.

We had a very nice dinner at Cambridge Street and then it was off for some dancing at The Rose and Crown where we danced to some great 80s tunes. You wouldn't think you could bust a move to "Come on Eileen" but let me tell you, it can be done and done quite well. The place began to fill up but for the most part, we had a big piece of the dance floor to ourselves. Not only were we the best dancers in the house, but we all could have been international singing stars as well. We rocked the house. In hindsight, I think we had so much dance space because we were scaring everyone else away. Have you seen white men dance? Well, we had 5 of the finest with us.

At the end of the night, my toes somehow got stuck under a table and I incurred an injury, two broken toes. It didn't slow me down much tho. While I was nursing my wounds, my husband and his brother were out hunting for the rain jacket he left someplace during the night. Turns out it was in our bedroom afterall. Lucky for him, because I was up nursing my busted toes, I was able to answer his text when he asked "Where are we staying? I don't know how to find my way home." Take it from Timmy, it's important to find out the name of the place you are staying at when someone else makes the reservations.

Day 2 arrived with beautiful sun and 10 people moving much slower than the day before. We headed for the beach around 11 but somehow we didn't arrive until about 2. Even though the island isn't very big, things just took longer for some reason. We had a "girl" and "boys" jeep. During one stop, we heard that the boys were talking about different types of trees. Guys, these are the signs that you are getting older...

We finally landed at the beach and it was a gorgeous day! We set up camp in our beach chairs, got out our educational materials (People & Us magazines), and had some food and beverages. The boys swam with the seals and then wandered off to fish. We decided to get some self-timed shots of our group, and at one point a nice man who was parked next to us wandered over and offered to take our picture. He did leave his shadow in pretty much all the pictures so although it was a nice gesture, we thanked him and sent him on his way. It was at this point we decided to take a picture of ourselves in a pyramid...but we had to do it behind the jeep so the nice man wouldn't come over and offer to help again. Imagine...we were hiding from someone who was nice. In Ohio, where everyone is nice and it comes naturally, the person would have been invited to be a part of the pyramid. But we are from the Boston area....where being nice feels unnatural so we hid.

Well, let me just say, that getting 5 ladies into a pyramid, while taking a self timed photo...while hiding from someone who could easily take our photo...and trying to hurry because the boys were on their way back and we didn't want them to see us.... can really result in potential loss of bladder control. Our "parts" just aren't what they used to be.

A few posts ago I said that even long time friends learn something new about each other each time they get together. Who knew we would discover that our friend Cori likes Celine Dion?! (And yes, Cori, I am outing you right now by mentioning your name.) Now right now you are either saying "OMG, I hate Celine Dion!" or you are saying "Oh, I like her!" There is no in between, and both reactions are strong. Really?! Celine Dion?? A song of hers had come on the radio and 1 of us, who was not like the others, said "Oh, I like that song." You have never seen 4 women turn on another so quickly. She was lucky she made it out alive. Then she started with "But, she's such a nice person..." Hey, Cori, last time we hung out, I don't recall Celine being with us.....you don't know her....let it go. We met up with the boys at the Chicken Box and we just couldn't wait to share the news..."Guess what! Cori likes Celine Dion!!" One husband said he liked her and recounted the tough life she had...his wife pointed out that was actually Shania Twain to which he replied, "Oh, I like Shania...I hate Celine Dion!" My friend Sanchez called her Salon Dalon....it might have been the beer talking. Then he said "Isn't that the African American woman who can read minds?" Ah, that's Dion Warwick. "Oh, yeah, then I don't like Salon Dalon either!" Let's just say that 9 out of 10 people in the group felt strongly that Celine Dion needed to go. Cori was lucky she got to stay.

Let's just say that the night ended with more dinner and more dancing...although there was more watching going on than dancing. A bridal party showed up after a wedding at the Rose & Crown and it was a messy, enjoyable show. I left wondering how all those people would feel the next day...probably like how we all felt when we had woken up that morning.

The next day the ladies shopped while the boys took their last jeep joyride around the island. Then it was off to lunch before heading home. A group of ten in any restaurant is likely to be loud...and quite honestly, we were just hoping not to get kicked out of a restaurant...or our Inn... over the weekend. Anytime the 10 of us get together, we make fun of each other and laugh uncontrollably. This last lunch was no exception but it was a great last moment to a truly memorable weekend. As we were leaving I asked the girls, "Do you think we will always act like this when we get together or at some point will we get mature?" There was no hesitation when everyone responded "We will always be like this." I think my friend Cori Dion said it best when she said "I am responsible and adult every day at home...when I go away, I want to just have fun and not be that responsible person for awhile." Let's raise our Dark & Stormy's to that, Cori!

It's always tough when you spend a great weekend with friends because the next few days you go through withdrawal, especially when the weather is rainy for the two days following your trip. And that is the sign that you truly have some great friends. Rather than saying "God, I couldn't wait to get home... or I couldn't wait to get away from them..." you are saying "I miss them...when can we do that again?" Here's to remembering to take time with your friends, making great memories, laughing til you "squirt", and being irresponsible even when you have reached a "responsible" age!