NOLA, Jet Blue, Pete Seeger, and Carmen

1 Oct

Not all of my adventures involve my kids. Oliver and I have been to New Orleans Jazz Fest a number of times throughout the past twentyish years but during the years of having babies, we didn’t make it down there as often. In 2009, our youngest was less than a year old and we had no intention of going until I saw that Pete Seeger was playing. Pete Seeger was approaching 90 and didn’t play very often any more. He was also on my “need to see live before he dies list.”

Oliver agreed to stay home with the kids so I could go. I was able to get a buddy pass from my sister-in-law to fly down there cheap, and I shared a hotel room with some friends who were also going. The total trip would last three days, and in the end I would spend more time traveling than in NOLA, but I would have a no-kids vacation, eat and drink all my favorite NOLA things, and see Pete Seeger.

The thing about buddy passes is that there is no guarantee of there being a free seat on the plane. I left on Friday morning and had no problem getting down there. I had a fabulous time. I was supposed to leave early Sunday morning, but the flight ended up being full. The biggest problem was that my bag, including my breast pump, had already left for Boston via the original flight. I spent the day hanging out at the airport and ended up on an evening flight to Boston via JFK, but when I got to New York at 11pm, there were about ten other people hoping to get on the flight to Boston, many with higher priority passes or bigger sob stories than me. There was no way I was getting on, and the next flight, the following morning, was also full.

I have friends and a sister in NY, but it was late, and I needed to get home so Oliver could go to work in the morning. I would just have to rent a car and drive to NH. I announced my plan to the hopeful flyers to see if anyone wanted to come with me. One person agreed. Carmen lived in Lawrence, MA, and had just been in the Dominican Republic visiting family. She also had a buddy pass, from her brother who worked for Jet Blue.

We rented the cheapest car we could find, and headed out of the city at midnight. Carmen paid for half the rental and was good company keeping me awake for the long drive. After dropping her off in Lawrence, I pulled into my driveway at 5am and slept for a few hours before Oliver left for work. Unfortunately, I still had to drag three kids to Logan to retrieve my stuff.

Seeing Pete Seeger perform, with his banjo, plaid Grandpa shirt, and aging voice, was totally worth it. The story of my vaguely failed use of Jet Blue buddy passes, my breast pump going to Boston without me (which isn’t even the strangest thing my breast pump had done in an airport), and my middle of the night trip home from NYC with a stranger are a bonus.

The First Day of School

8 Sep

Today is the start of a new era. For the first time, all of my kids will be in school full-time. Two years ago, when my youngest started Kindergarten, my oldest took a break from public school to be homeschooled, so I am a bit behind in this kids in school all day thing. For the record, I love summer vacation and having them all to myself, but after nearly three months of home all the time, they need to get away from each other and they need a bigger audience than just me.

I will walk my youngest to the elementary school at 8:15 and then, until about 2:30 when the older two get off the bus, I will have six whole hours in which:

Nobody interrupts me mid-conversation screaming, “Mommy!”

I can go grocery shopping alone.

Nobody asks me to look at a stuffed animal, a Bionicle, a Youtube video, or an invisible injury fifty times a day.

If I decide to go somewhere, I don’t have to ask thirteen times for everyone to get ready.

I can come home after working all night and sleep, without guilt, and without waking up to my house trashed.

I will have time to do yoga, go kayaking, eat lunch by myself, clean my house, and make dinner.

Nobody needs my attention, immediately, the second I walk into the bathroom.

I don’t have to utter the words, “keep your hands to yourself,” “stop being mean,” “why did you hit him,” “how many times have I asked you to…” or “nobody wants to see your penis.”

If I want to, I can spend the entire day speaking to only my dog and chickens.

I have no illusions that the one hour getting everybody ready and out the door, and the several hours in the afternoon with homework, endless snacks, and end of the day exhaustion-fueled drama won’t make up for my six hours, but for those six hours, I will have me time. And by me time, I mean cooking, cleaning, working, sleeping, and checking the numerous items off my to-do list that I haven’t gotten to all summer.

The Difference Between a Quest and an Adventure

11 Aug

Today the boys and I spent a large amount of time in the car in what amounted to a five-hour trip for cannoli. Sometimes, adventures don’t go as planned.

We drove to Boston to go to the Museum of Science to see the new Pixar exhibit on a rainy summer day. In hindsight, I might have realized everyone else in New England would do the same thing.

It’s been a long time since I have been nervous to drive in Boston; this is not to say that I know where I’m going. I was pretty sure I remembered how to get there from the Storrow Drive exit, and I wasn’t totally wrong. I knew where we wanted to be and I knew kind of where we were, so technically we weren’t lost. The boys may have been humoring me, though, when they agreed to my claim that it was much more fun to have an adventure by exploring new places than to have GPS. I also taught them about driving in a city: a yellow light means speed up and you really can’t afford to be nice to other cars.

We eventually found the MOS and the garage was full. Lechmere Station lot was also full. The next garage we found cost $25 to park for just a couple hours, so we decided to abandon our original goal and go to Mike’s Pastry. Ironically, cannoli for five people also cost $25. We did three circles around the entire North End while Owen ran into the store and the rest of us looked for “the best pizza on earth.” While the best pizza on earth may be found in the North End, parking cannot. We scrapped plan B and headed out of Boston to go home and watch red box movies on our sofa bed.

We ended up eating at Bertucci’s in Woburn on our way north and Owen commented on our “quest.” I explained that the term quest implies making it to your destination, so what we were having was an adventure. Tomorrow we are planning on going hiking. Should be an adventure.

You Might Be a Mom of Boys (2015 edition)

29 Jul

I know I’ve done this before, but it’s funny and my kids are bigger, so I’m doing it again.

You might be a Mom of boys if…

You know exactly how many grapes can fit in the mouths of each of your children.

You have discovered glasses tattooed (in marker) to your 7-year-old’s butt, or butt cheeks are considered an appropriate surface for art in your house.

You have a working chainsaw, multiple assault weapons, and creatures with names like “Skull Slicer,” all made out of Legos.

You have found your 12-year-old naked, in broad daylight, jumping on the trampoline.

You routinely hear words like wiener, ding dong, poop, fart, balls.

You have things like live crickets, Legos and towel hangers that look like dog butts in your bathroom.

You find the words poop or pee on your grocery list if you wander away from your children for more than ten seconds.

You have a daily time limit set on the Minion Fart Gun.

Your kids consider the saying, “No shirts, no shoes, no service” as an invitation to go into a store without pants.

You have ever uttered any of the following words,

“Blueberries don’t go in your toes.”

“Your bike doesn’t have testicles.”

“Please don’t vacuum your bunnies.”

“Take the drumstick out of your nose.” (to anyone older than five)

“No, Owen does not have two penises.”

My Black Thumb

18 Jun

To say I don’t have a green thumb is a gross understatement. I have killed more than one cactus. I have completely failed at zucchini in multiple attempts. I am fairly competent at keeping children and animals alive, but I suck at gardening.

The irony is that I feel as though I should be a person who gardens; I compost, I raise chickens, I eat vegetarian, organic foods, I love farmer’s markets. I should be able to grow my own zucchini. Hell, in most gardens, it grows itself. Some years I have planted gardens, some years I have intended to plant gardens only to realize in June that boat has sailed. I have started from seeds, I have purchased small plants. Most of these attempts result in the same pathetic results.

In good years, I have gotten a handful of edible vegetables, usually tomatoes and cucumbers, although I tend to specialize in and enjoy the more bizarre. I plant things that are doomed to failure, like corn and watermelon, but I revel in the weird cucumber/watermelon hybrid I inadvertently created or the one giant winter squash I grew without ever planting it (compost is a magical thing).

I will continue in my misguided, often half-assed attempts at gardening. This year I bought two tomato plants, one cucumber plants, and a basil plant and planted them in buckets on my porch and I haven’t killed any of them yet. In fact, at least two of the plants are bigger and healthier than when I bought them. Maybe the key to success is lowering my standards. Or maybe I should just admit that I am the person for whom CSAs were invented.

Happiness is a Choice

5 Jun

Some days are just good days. This is one of them, maybe for no particular reason, or maybe because I have decided it is going to be.

Reasons I am happy today:

I am happy to have gotten a full night’s sleep, in my own bed, at a time of day when normal people sleep.

I am happy that today is the last Friday school day until summer vacation.

I am happy that my almost-seven-year-old still wants to hold my hand on the way to school.

I am happy for the twelve tiny cups of coffee I am drinking (only exaggerating a little) and the pleased look of excitement on Duncan’s face when I asked if I could drink coffee out of his art class mug.

I am happy to have my sunroom and for the four tiny tomatoes growing on one of my tomato plants, proof that I don’t kill everything green.

I am happy for the short walk to and from school with my kids, when some days they don’t even realize I am there and other days we giggle over silly things, like the word “excaliburger.”

I am happy that last night when I tried to make stir-fry in a cast iron skillet and set the smoke detector off, my oldest child had the polite tact to simply suggest we eat on the porch.

I am happy for yoga class later this morning.

I am happy to have a bouncy house coming to my house tonight for a birthday party tomorrow and equally happy that my kids have traded themed birthday parties with goody bags for sleepovers that require epic quantities of pancakes rather than close supervision.

I am happy to have my crazy house full of kids and clutter and animals and noise, signs of an enjoyed life.

Too ADD to Meditate

9 May

At the martial arts/fitness studio where I do kick boxing and yoga, we often meditate at the end of class. It occurred to me today, during one of these sessions, that I suck at meditating. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy it, but I don’t think I’m very good at it.

The whole idea seems to be to focus on breathing/counting and to keep your mind clear of other things. The clear mind part is where the sucking comes in; I’m fairly competent at the breathing and counting part. I know I have mentioned previously my understanding that my kids got their ADDish tendencies from me, but it is during meditation that this is the most obvious.

The conclusion I have come to is that I cannot quiet my mind, at least not as much as I think other people can. Here is me, trying to focus on my breathing and counting:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5….I wonder if my kids are cleaning up after their breakfast like I asked them to. FOCUS. 1, 2, 3, 4…Remember that cute little girl from work a couple days ago and watching the helicopter land with her. FOCUS. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Shit, I was supposed to stop at 10 and then go back to 1. 1, 2, 3….I wonder if Oliver is done running…4, 5, 6, 7…I need to remember to make jalapeño popper dip to bring to the party tonight…8, 9, 10….Should I go lock up Kerri’s chickens before or after the party tonight…1, 2, 3… FOCUS. Will the Amherst Garden Club take checks or do I need to go get cash before I go to the plant sale? 4, 5, 6…Do Buddhists get ADD/ADHD? Could meditating help my kids (hell, who am I kidding) or me learn to quiet my mind?

From now on, I am going to imagine myself meditating poorly when I think of my kids in school trying to focus on their work.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.