Time for a Change in the Time

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    I am exhausted today, and probably will be for the next week.   And it’s just an hour right?  It shouldn’t be such a big deal to move the clock up, or back an hour, but is there really a problem with daylight?

In 1895 a man named George Hudson, for very selfish reasons, started this whole thing because he didn’t like darkness after work – it limited his bug collecting time.   His job as a postal worker in New Zealand ended in the evening and as we all know, winter daylight is shorter.  There was less time for George to walk around after work with a net and catch bugs.   Now to be fair he was a big deal bug collector, but come on!   He requested  a change in the time of day by submitting a written request to the guy in charge of New Zealand and voila! That was the first country to have Daylight Savings Time (DST).   Our buddy  George was given an award in 1927 by which time the earth was rife with time changes.

In the United  States, during and after WWI and WWII,  there were some acceptable uses for Daylight Savings Time.  But, after WWII the regulation and practicality flipped quite a bit across the country.  In the 1960’s, our transportation industry was a mess because the entire country wasn’t using the same time within the time zones, making schedule keeping a nightmare so federal regulation was again put in place.  And then in the 1970’s, the US energy crisis also required DST tweaking in order reduce the need for electricity by providing more daylight evening hours.

Sine then, Scientists, Universities, and Government Agencies have spent hundreds of millions of our dollars in research to determine whether or not DST is something we non bug collectors still need.   The results are unanimous     more research is needed.

Welcome to the USA.

So let’s go back for a minute to George Hudson, one man who liked bugs and who wrote to the guy in charge.  George changed the way the planet keeps time.   I bet I’m not the first, or only person to think it’s time for another change.  Instead of back and forth with one hour year after year can’t we  just make one permanent 30 minute adjustment across the planet and put the whole business to rest?  I guess we need a man like George Hudson again.

And I need a nap.

Tyrone Zone

I’m trying to get in shape.  For me, that sentence conjures up an image of the blobby GAK product from a decade ago.  You could mold it into any shape you wanted, but, eventually it turned into a blobby slab and there was really nothing you could do about it.

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I need to think more like kinetic sand.  That stuff is amazing.  It looks like regular sand but you can mold or sculpt it into any shape and it stays put.  images

So in an effort to transform my GAK self into Kinetic Sand, I went to LA Fitness to take whatever ‘the next available class was’ last Sunday afternoon.   It was a cycle class, also called spinning.   There was one beginning in fifteen minutes and the current one was about to end.  I watched through the glass doors as the nice looking young girl hollered things to the cyclers in the room, motivating them to work harder.  I rehearsed what I would say.  “Hi my name is Helen, and I’ve never done this before.”  She would say, “Great! Newcomers are always welcome.  I’m Nancy, I’ll show you what to do.”

What happened instead was that Nancy left and the next instructor showed up.  His name was named Tyrone.   Have you seen The Rock?

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Okay he wasn’t The Rock but he may as well have been.  So  at this point I’m not at all happy now about bringing my GAK body over to The Rock and explaining that I was new.

“Are you the teacher?”

“I am the instructor.”

“Oh.”

“Why?”

“I was going to take this class.”

“Okay.”

“I’m new.”

“Okay.”

“Ummm….”

“Pick a bike,”

“Are they all the same?”

“Yes.”

“This one?”

“No, you better use this one here, right in front of me.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll show you how to adjust it.  What’s your name?”

“Helen.”

“Where are you from?”

“Middletown.”

“Okay Middletown, hop on.”

Well… how did it end?   After 50 minutes of cycle time, I had a sore butt and a burning sense of victory.   I thanked Tyrone when it was over, and despite my embarrassment, when over the loud pulsing music I heard Tyrone call out “How you doing Middletown?!”  I have conquered the spinning class.

Yesterday, after my sore “bike butt” was feeling better I showed up again.  But this time there was no Tyrone.   I know I didn’t imagine it because on the class list that is taped on the door of the spinning room,  in the space where it should say Nancy, Cyclezone 2pm.   It says, TyroneZone and nothing more.   He’s not listed as a regular teacher anywhere on the schedule.  I know that I could ask at the front desk, but for now I’m just going to think of him as my guardian exercise angel because I really could use a little magic if I’m going to make  Kinetic Sand out of GAK.

You Crazy Moms

 

 

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This morning while stopped at a traffic light I watched a mom on a rant. It was my neighbor actually, who is a great mom to a great kid, most of the time. She was clearly annoyed with her daughter, whose gaze went everywhere except to her mother’s face. I could feel the push and pull between the two of them; the mother talking and talking without pause for her daughter to speak, and the girl, waiting for a chance to defend herself but relenting to one long sigh that went nicely with her rolling eyes. It was a clear case of the mother needing to be heard verses the girl wishing mother would just shut up. Of course it’s possible, even likely that the girl was thinking about lunch with her friends, or about a boy. I’m pretty sure she burst from the car as soon as they pulled up in front of the school and she didn’t look back, except to glare. But more importantly she won’t remember a single thing that was said in the car.   Of this I am certain.

The first thing I did when the mom/daughter duo passed by me at the traffic light was smile, happy it wasn’t me. It could have been, but it wasn’t, at least not this morning. I only had a 15 second glimpse of the scene in the minivan, the mom’s hand waving in the air, her unpainted face stuck in a grimace, a mom who’d had her fill of back talk and excuses, of lousy attitudes and empty promises from her teen. And the teenager, whose body was in the car and whose mind was a million miles away.  I get it.

The fight is exhausting.

We give them unsolicited advice. We ask what they’re up to when we already know.    We make punishments ten times larger than the offense calls for, and then when we’re too weary to follow through with the consequences, we grant them amnesty “this one time.”   Is it possible that we make them as crazy as they make us?

If there were a job posted that listed the qualifications, expectations, consequences, and pay of a mom, nobody would interview. You’d have to be crazy to take that position! But maybe that’s just it. Crazy. Yes, it is crazy to expect that their agenda, at 16 years old, could even remotely match ours. It is crazy to think that she could understand how badly I want her to mature into a decent, loving and lovable human, one who makes good choices and contributes well to society. And, it is crazy to think that I can remember high school the way she sees it today. It’s all a little nutty.

So if we are crazy, that explains the scene in the van right?  Maybe. But here’s what I also know.   The same arm that I saw waving like mad as their minivan passed my car this morning is the same arm that  will hold the girl from harms way at any cost, and that same grimacing face spewing ultimatums in the car is the same face that will say “I love you, even when you make me crazy, I love you.”

So if you lose your cool once in a while, if you know a mom who goes a little bonkers from time to time, or if you look in a minivan at the school drop off and see a mom on a rant, rest assured that this is because crazy is part of the job description.

Let’s face it; you wouldn’t get the job any other way.

For Howard 10/27/1965 to 02/29/2016

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I thought I’d do a little tribute to my brother in law Howard who passed away early this morning.   He was 50 years old.  Howard had a heart that didn’t work as well as it could have, maybe that was because it was doing other work –  holding so much love.

Howard was born with down’s syndrome, a genetic condition that causes individuals to have physical and intellectual challenges as they develop and mature. Most of us humans have  DNA that is made up of  23 pairs of chromosomes for a total of 46.   People with Down’s syndrome have 47 chromosomes because one of the pairs,(pair #21) is a trisomy, or a set of three instead of two. One extra. That extra genetic material is the reason Howard’s heart didn’t work so well at pumping blood, but it may also be the reason that it was extra good at loving.

For the past 15 years or so we would visit him in Long Island NY where he lived with “the guys,”  who were his housemates. Often we’d call him and he was headed off to the movies with “the guys”, or a play, or a dance, even a hockey game.    If you asked him how the game was, he’d say “Great! Very Exciting!” with as much enthusiasm as any sports fan of the winning team.   But if you asked him who won, he’d say “I don’t know,” which was the same answer he gave if you asked who was playing.  It didn’t matter who played or what the score was because Howard was there for the joy.

It was impossible to stay in a bad mood when he was around too. You know the family parties where aunts and cousins show up with their signature dishes, or flowers, or wine?  Uncle Howard had a signature dish too, he always brought a smile and hug and a warm fuzzy feeling.   He was reliably kind, and funny, and even liked being part of the clean up crew.

We were lucky enough to have him as a houseguest twice last year. and when he came to visit us he often would pick up my husband’s acoustic guitar even though he had no idea how to play it.  That didn’t stop him from strumming and singing a love song. I’m sure that Howard thought he sounded like Elvis singing a ballad and the truth is, he did not.   But none of us would tell him that because we enjoyed every heartfelt attempt he made. And if by chance somebody said “You sound awful,” I know Howard would have said “Oh, can you help me?  Can you help me sound good?”  I never knew another person who took every critique he was given as an opportunity for improvement like he did.   He just wanted to make people happy.

Desert was his favorite, or maybe desert was tied for first place with cheeseburgers.  He also liked puppies and notebooks and new pens. He loved his mother and his brother and wished hard for good things to happen in the world.  Optimistic?  Indeed.   If you asked him how he was, he always said the same thing.   “Doing good, doing great!”  It didn’t matter if he was home watching television or in the hospital with only a small chance of recovery.  Howard was always “Doing good, Doing great!”

Trisomy 21, or Down’s Syndrome comes with a host of things like delayed development, up slanted eyes,  low set ears, and speech impairment, but I think they should add extra loving to that list, at least as one possible thing you might expect from Trisomy 21.   So Howard, if you’ve left a lesson for the rest of us still walking around it should be this – life is short, look for the joy, and listen to love songs whenever you get the chance.

RIP Howard.  XOXO

Family Meetings

 

Ah… the family meeting.  Have you ever tried to have one?  In our house we all gather around to discuss things like curfews, allowance, chores and bad behavior.  I know I could speak to them all separately about this stuff, but I’ve leaned that it’s much better to have a  witnesses because inevitably, somebody will fail at what’s expected and offer the excuse , “But mom, you never said that.”

But indeed, I did.

What annoys me the most about these family meetings is how everybody nods their heads and says exactly what I want to hear at the exact moment I want to hear it.    Do they know in advance that they’re not going to do one single thing we talked about?   Should I remain hopeful that when they look at me and nod that finally, they actually “get me?”

Let’s face it, they don’t.

Throughout the years I’ve called these family meetings and said things like this:   “I’m shutting of the internet at night;  if you want to borrow something from me you may, but only if you give me something valuable as a deposit,” and “please put things away after you’re done with them.”   You might recognize these results.


 

The internet

Me.  “No internet after 10pm because none of you are getting enough sleep.” 

Them: ” You’re right mom.  We understand.”

                           One night after I put my policy into place

Husband:  “I haven’t gotten to where I can shut down the internet by each device yet, so just leave it on.”


Borrowing

Them:  “Mom, where are the scissors?”

Me:   “I will let you have them for a dollar deposit.”

                          The next day.  

Me:  “Where are my scissors?”

Them:  “I thought I’d just keep them.  It’s only like, a buck, right?”


Cleaning Up

Them:   “Where’s the honey?”

Me:   “It’s in the shed in the back of the yard.”

Them:  “Why?  Because I didn’t put it away?”

Me:  “Yes.”

Them:  “That’s okay, I’ll just use sugar.”


I thought she couldn’t live without honey in her tea.   Seems she can.  The honey bear is still sitting it the shed in the back yard.  

I’ll get it in the spring. 

 

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Because I Said So

Theater Faces

Theater Faces

Parenting takes courage. We summon it from amazing places after our children are born.   Questions about bowel movements don’t embarrass us, interrogating babysitters becomes rote, facing off with teachers and other parents, making choices, suffering consequences, getting up and doing it over and over again.

Sometimes I’m motivated to do things because  my children are watching.  I want to lead by example because I think it’s the right thing to do.  And  because  I hated it when my mother said things to me like “Because I said so!” Of course when that happened, I immediately stopped doing, or started doing whatever it was I was supposed to, but really, is because I said so a reason?   Sometimes I wanted to say, “why don’t YOU do it?”  But that’s never a good thing to say to your mom.

So this leads me to the day I wanted my little girl to audition for a community theater show.   I wouldn’t do it, I have stage fright.   But I told her she should.   The disagreement followed and I won, but only “because I said so.”

As the years went by I remembered how I never tried out for my school plays, or auditioned for any of the solo parts in choir.  Was it fair for me to thrust them onto a stage when I never could find the courage to do that? I really had no idea what it was like to stand alone on a stage.  Why was I so scared?  More importantly, how could I get over it?

One day purely by chance I met a woman who was trying to put together an adult acting class, “a friendly atmosphere” with no auditions required. I thought okay, this may be the very thing I need. Surprisingly I didn’t hate it. But while I gained confidence, my classmates dropped out until I was the only one left in the class. But fate stepped in another door opened, but this time with real actors and a real goal – to complete an audition for a community theater production.  Egad.  I explained to this new group of experienced actors that I was doing this merely for self improvement and that I wasn’t sure about the whole audition thing.

Twelve weeks later I was literally a new me.  I was ready, monologue prepared, lights on, center stage – me. I found the courage to stand there alone, say my lines and deliver. I think I actually grew taller as the weight of that my burden departed.  I even got a tiny part in a tiny play.

Being strong for the kids is easy but being strong for myself took a little work. Even though there are no outward signs of my victory, I know I’m a better parent. I’m a better person.  Shaking off those school day inhibitions took a long time and I know it’s  cliché to say it but if I can do it, anybody can.   And frankly, I’d rather say that to my kids than say because I said so.

I Am Mom

I am your sunshine

Who’s your   sunshine?

Recently, in a somewhat spirited conversation with my daughter, I was told that giving her advice “Isn’t your job.”   Of course without missing a beat I explained, again somewhat spiritedly, that giving advice is indeed my job and I continued to list other things in my job description

I won’t repeat it for you, because you’d tune me out just like she did.  But, I would like to name the top five things that I (am moms all over the world ) do, which teenagers forget about and for which I know they are eternally grateful, even if they don’t show it.

I potty trained them.  Without me they would  probably figure it out on their own but I think I am owed a little gratitude for setting them up for bathroom success.  Not to mention all the diaper changes and ‘accident management’ that I’ve provided.

I find the phone, the purse, the keys, the money,  the shoes, the permission slips, concert tickets, and the coat, to name a few.

I braid hair, trim hair, find hair elastics,  dye hair,  put it  in a bun, curl it, straighten it, even try to french braid (even though I stink at it) because you asked me to,  and then I suffer your bad moods when I fail.

I taught you the alphabet, how to count,  how to ride your bike, even how to clean the bathroom, but I guess you forgot that last part.

I am  your biggest fan, bar none.  I  go to  recitals,  shows, sports matches, I watch your cartwheels, I love your poetry, hang your artwork, and tolerate your non-stop singing and dancing when I’d rather be reading a book.  I am the cheerleader who encourages you to try when you want to stop, and I am there to understand when you’ve had all you can stand of trying.

I am mom.

 

 

 

It’s Snow Wonder We’re Related

 

It’s become a tradition that my daughter Emily & I make snow people in the winter.  Her sisters take the hot cocoa and indoor heat route to handle snow storms which is also attractive to me,  but I really need to build a snowman first.  Usually Em & I make one per snowfall or two if the snow is really cooperative.  A few years we ago we started naming them like winter storms.   So far we’ve had Alice, Brenda, Carlos, Dug, Elsa (of course), Floyd, George, Howard, and Irene. But the last time it snowed Emily insisted we name our snow gal Ophelia, in honor of her pineapple hair.   I’m not certain I get the association but but what’s the point in arguing a snowman’s name, really.  We’ll pick up the alphabetical order soon, maybe.

What I’ve learned from all the psychology books and classes and sessions, is that we either love or hate the way our own childhood went.  As a result we sometimes we go in some insane direction with our own childhood issues to love or hate the same things. I guess I loved making snowmen.   This year, with Ophelia still standing and more snow expected tonight, I hope we can give her some company but you never know with the weather where we live, so my fingers are crossed.

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Another thing that Emily & I share every time it snows is cleaning off the cars.   This year we found a new way to clean off the tops.   As you can see, Emily really likes it.

People say that Emily & I look alike.   Whether you agree or not, we like a lot of the same things, especially when it comes to snow.

 

29 days and a lot going on…

 

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This year February has 29 days so it’s called a leap year. I set out to understand leap year via this internet but for me leap years are like technology …  I don’t really need to know how it works, I’ll just work with it.  Of course like any good Googler, I learned an awful lot about February, and pretty much skipped over the leap year bits but I found these 10 facts about February you might like to know.  

  1. A lunar cycle is 29.5 days making February the only month in which it is possible to have no full moon.  Most years February will have a full moon but in 2018 there will be none. This doesn’t mean weird things won’t happen in February 2018, it only means that we can’t blame the full moon.
  2. February 2nd is Groundhog Day, when Punxsutawney Phil will tell us if spring is right around the corner, or not.  Statistically, flipping a coin will provide the same percentage of accuracy as Phil, but that’s not nearly as cool.
  3. February frequently occurs in lists of the most commonly misspelled words in the English language.  Last year a press release from the White House consistently spelled it as Feburary.
  4. Black History Month is always the month of February and there are some really terrific movies to help educate us on this topic.  My personal favorite is Glory.  I still can’t get over the real face to face combat.  See Glory it if you can.
  5. February is also: National Pet Dental Health Month; National Canned Food Month;  Hot Breakfast Month, Potato Lovers Month. You’ll have to choose which National Celebrations work best for you since there are no days off from work or school for these types of things.
  6. President’s Day is always the third Monday of the month.  It was changed from the actual birthday of President Washington as  the result of the Uniform Holiday Monday Act from the 1968. This was signed under President Nixon.   He intended for it to be Washington’s Birthday but now we lump in Lincoln’s birthday too, and of course retail sales.
  7. Valentines Day is February 14th. There are many stories of the history of Valentines Day.  Some theories include the poet Chaucer as the person who equated Valentines day with love, but the biography that I read makes no such association.
  8. Non leap years are called common years.
  9. If you were born on February 29th you were most likely conceived on June 8th or 9th. 
  10.  Leap year babies (Feb 29th) have a special name … leaplings.

Weather Words

 

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“That was some storm,” was the consensus among those shoveling and blowing snow from their driveways and cars in my neighborhood yesterday.   It had a winter storm name, Jonas, but mostly we called it a blizzard.

In 1983 there was a Megalopolitan Storm in NJ.   Because the national weather service wasn’t naming winter storms back then there’s little other frame of reference but as far as I know, it was the only Megalopolitan storm on record.

the February ’83 snowstorm was the biggest snowstorm of record in Philadelphia, eeking out the 21.0″ snowstorm that everyone remembers from Christmas 1909.

That was a written in 2010 in a “blast from the past” article about Philadelphia storms.   I don’t want to be adversarial but exactly who, in 2010, was part of the ‘everybody’ that remembers a blizzard from 1909?   Hmmm.

In 2014 we had a fabulous snow storm that was called a  bombogenesis?    Like the Megalopolitan of 1983 it had no other name .  If you paid attention in 9th grade English you know that the word means “bomb” for explosive, and “genesis” for beginning.    I also heard it called an Exploding NorEaster but in 2014 a Philadelphia meteorologist  used the word bombogenesis in a weather report and since then the term is not so uncommon here on the east coast.

Somebody needs to think up a term for the surge of shopping that comes before a storm.    There must be some measurable atmospheric pressure changes in the supermarket right before the wind kicks up.   This is one of my favorite reactions to a weather forecast gone wonky  Crazy Weather Map