Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mystic in the rain

'Twas a wet and miserable day - we were all going stir crazy and decided to go to the coast. An afternoon at Mystic Seaport was just the ticket for the rainy day blues. We think rain and boats go together like peanut butter and jam, so the weather didn't deter us. Not to mention we started going to Mystic in the dead of winter when it was freezing cold and very few exhibits were open which makes Mystic in the summer seem action packed even on a rainy day.

We also took a detour on the way down to visit a big Habitat for Humanity ReStore shop....we're getting a bit closer to the kitchen renovation project and I like to check out all interesting options. The kids were patient - and we got Natty a fun game which made it worthwhile to her.

Mudpuddle joy for Sam! I think this is his first real mudpuddle experience. Note to Mom: Buy galoshes for him.  He loved it. He's actually dancing in it in this photo. He could've stayed here all day, but there was more fun to be had.

We watched a play - and then Natty got to participate! She was The Rain in a storm.
Hilarious incident with Natty when we were looking for a dinner spot:  a cool looking women's clothing store caught my eye, and I turned the stroller to go in. Natty stopped me though, "Mom, you have plenty of clothes, you don't need any more. We're very blessed. Come on, lets find dinner." What a dose of my own medicine. 

We had dinner in Mystic town, dessert at the Drawbridge Ice Cream Shop and drove home in a thunderstorm. Sam was exhausted and slept soundly in the car as soon as I handed him Lambie. A great day out - Hurrah for fabulous interactive museums.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Girlfriends....right up there with booze and chocolate.

This week was not an good one. It started off OK, small errors of judgement/memory here and there, but not enough to get upset about. But then I had a shift on L&D that made my whole attitude sour. I didn't do anything Wrong, but I sure didn't do anything Right. I left with a bad taste in my head, and couldn't shake it. I have this sweet gig at the hospital where they call if they need someone and I work from 3 am to 7 am. It is perfect for me: I don't have to get childcare (although Murray has a busy morning with the kids until I get home) and I simply adjust to the early morning by drinking more coffee. I'm tired, but not non-functionally tired - as I am if I work all night.

And this morning was technically even better than usual because Marmee took Natalie so I just had Sam - but I just couldn't shake my frustration. I haven't been treating my usual cyclical angst and exhaustion appropriately and have been snappy with the kids and Mur, avoiding exercise, not reaching out to friends and letting the house chores crush my spirit and energy. Not good, any of it. So misery has been building and this seriously kicked it up a notch.

Enter: Girlfriend power. I am blessed with many fantastic Girlfriends, but this week two in particular came through for me. Wednesday, when I was still reverberating with acute frustration my friend "Wild Woman" Maria called to ask if I wanted to come with her to pick of 5 cases (5 cases) of mangos at an Indian grocery store. Since one of my great joys is going to ethnic grocery stores I jumped at it. Not to mention, I needed the distraction, my kids adore Maria and I knew I could use an extra adult because my patience was thin, due to my own internal turmoil. Long story short: we had an awesome time. I have found a grocery store kindred spirit - someone else who buys stuff that looks intriguing  even though she doesn't know how to cook and/or eat it. In addition, I got to verbally process, Natty and Sam had a good adventure and we got delicious mangoes (and samosas, and chutneys, and lychees....)!

But my lack of competence was still eating at me. Thankfully the next day I had planned to go see a dear, dear friend from Whitworth, Court, who was visiting her mom in Newport. The ride there was a doozy. I turned the wrong way out of the driveway, realized I'd forgotten the beach stuff after driving 15 minutes, got into a big fight with Natty and missed my exit. Aaaaargh! To top it off, when we arrive at the cafe where we're going to meet Court, Natty admits in a small voice that she forgot her shoes. Oh, great. My daughter is barefoot in Newport, RI. Now I look the the harried, tired and incompetent mother that I am.

Court arrived, I got the children some food and we sat at a table chitchatting when I finally just said, "Oh Court, I've had the week from hell." and started crying. Bless her, she is a true Girlfriend. She just put her hand on my arm, kept feeding Sam and distracting Natty until I got myself back together. Then she gently listened, asked the right questions and gave great (and hilarious) commentary as we gathered the kids up and made our way to the beach.

Where we had a perfect time. I love doing things with Girlfriends because they help me be a better mom - mostly by easing the strain. She watched Sam while I took Natty to the bathroom. And protected Natty's sandcastle from Sam's destructive tendencies. And did countless other small things without making me feel like she was doing me favors - it's just who she is.

Total bonus: we saw these 3 amazing women - all grey-haired, athletic and low-key - wade into the surf, (with all the boogie boarders and other human flotsam careening around) and take off swimming into the ocean. They swam out until we could just barely see their caps, and swam laps between the outer buoys for a long time. Then they swam back in and gracefully walked back up the beach, gathered up their bags and went off - chatting all the while. That, to me, is beauty.

I'm still bummed about my work performance. When you only work 1 shift a week (at that) there's no chance to go back the next day and hit a home run. I derive a hefty amount of my self-satisfaction - if not self-worth - from doing a job well and it rankles. On the flip side, I realized that maybe it's time to leave in-patient maternal child health. I like the outpatient work I do now and it's easier on the family to have a set schedule that doesn't involve exhaustion.

The frivolously good news in my life is that I finally got my hands on "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". The luxury of a engrossing read is in my near future.

And so it goes. Another day in the life....made infinitely better by my amazing, wonderful and totally rock solid Girlfriends.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

World Cup Weekend

The whole point of the huge TV and Cable extravaganza was to facilitate a get-together with Murray's New Years crowd. I call them that because they are a bunch of friends who have been gathering every New Years since they were at college together.  There are a few of us spouses (I think I'm the newest and I've been coming for 8 yrs) whom the core group absorbed without a hitch. Over the years the numbers have doubled - the younger generation ranges from 14 years to 17 months. The kids are a whole other marvelous community - big kids watching out for little, inevitable melodramas and every year a fantastic play - produced and directed by the big kids and incorporating the little ones when they are old enough.

The adults have the house party system down to a comfortable science. We had 17 people staying here for 4 days and it was great. They are the easiest and funnest group to host. The dynamic was slightly different than at New Years because we're at a parental farmhouse in Vermont, where Caleb's parents are the absentee hosts. Therefore the organization (esp of food) is egalitarian. However, since this was at our house and I cannot relinquish control of the kitchen, the meals were for the weekend organized more or less to my plan. I would characterize my style as relaxed despotism. Which works well with a crowd of helpful hands and I felt everyone was fed and happy most of the time.

We did eat well. Here are the highlights: grilled fish tacos, a curry feast, blue cheese hamburgers, gazpacho, sourdough pancakes/waffles and a strawberry cream birthday cake. The first-comers also enjoyed a pavlova - of course. (This is my summer of Pavlovas. I'm obsessed.)

It was great to see our house live up to it's potential. It absorbed the numbers admirably. I never felt like I was tripping over people and every family had their own nook. It helped that the weather was gorgeous and we'd borrowed the mother of all Slip and Slides.

There was soccer (both World Cup and live games),

 evening bonfires, swimming in a neighbor's pool, a death march to the Buttner's pool, a 4th of July town event in Woodstock, Natty's lemonade stand,

 a production of The Wizard of Oz, a pinata,

and lots of running by the adults (in fact, I went running every day - which no doubt was a contributing factor to my enjoyment of the entire weekend).

The culminating event was a half birthday party for Natty (also my birthday). I made a pinata with the "help" of the kids, we had a cookout and the strawberry cream cake. The crowd gave me lovely silverware  - so we will no longer run out of forks when we host more than 8 people! And we actually read the Declaration of Independence which was pretty cool.

It was a fabulous time. We're all exhausted and the weather has taken a turn for the hot so we're hunkered down inside, cleaning and lounging. Recuperating from the party and planning the next.