Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Week of Ups & Downs

So. This week was... interesting.

Started with me being, let go (ahem... sounds so much better than that other word) from my afternoon job. Yeah. Rather all of a sudden-like. Not going to say much more on this. No burning my bridges and all that. Do I think it was unfair? Do I not think I was given a proper chance? Do I think it's all based on one inadequately trained for - and therefore failed - day? Yes, yes, and definitely. But in truth, I knew I didn't belong there anyway. So, other than the lost income, I can't really say that I'm all that torn up about it all. But it happened, and it made for a less than great start to my week.

That was Monday day. Monday night produced for us a sick Sweetie. Coldy. Whiney. Tearful. Slightly feverish. Just all around yucky. But ask her how she was?! Of course the answer was, as always, "Great."

Sweetie, you don't always have to be great. If you're sick, or sad, or angry, or happy or whatever - it's okay to feel anyway that you feel. And now you have a cold, so I don't think you're really great.

Well, I am always great. But then there's how I really feel.

Ha! Okay, fine. So you're great. And now how do you really feel?


And thus ensued an evening of whiney tearfulness. So glad I gave her permission to feel what she feels.

Tuesday night had us attending a Destination Imagination meeting at our local high school. We were attending as much for finding out if Sweetie's involvement would be logistically feasible for us as we were attending to find out if Sweetie was even interested enough to get involved. I told her as much, as we drove to the school, and let her know that she needed to pay attention and give us her honest opinion about the whole thing.

Well when your sick, highly dramatic, very rule dependent child responds to a mock D.I. challenge with an enthusiastic "That was awesome!", you know you best be signing her up on a team ASAP. In fact, we're all very excited about this new venture for Sweetie. Hubby was even conflicted as to whether he wanted to be a team leader or not. Something he would usually SO want to do. But doing that would also make him have to miss some of Sweetie's involvement in competition. This year, we agreed, we'd just sign her up and see how it goes. In years to come, he can help out in any way that he wants.

On Wednesday I was able to attend a magic show with Sweetie at her after school program (You have to pick me up on Wednesday at 5:00 so you can see the magic show with me. - You know what, Sweetie? I think, this week, that is something I can definitely do.) Sweetie loved the show, and was honestly thrilled to have me there with her (as proven by the extra hugs and kisses I received while we sat waiting for the show to begin.) I was so happy to spend this time with her as well.

Then we were saddened to learn, toward the end of the week, about the loss of a baby that our good friends were expecting in February. A routine ultrasound found some complications, and a follow up scan proved the fetus was just not viable. A sad, sad time for this family. They do have two very beautiful, very healthy children already, but to know that another little life would not be joining their family was just heartbreaking to hear.

Yesterday we had "Movie Night" with our friends from Hubby's college years. Something we try to have monthly, but it's actually been about 4 or 5 months since we've all been able to get together. And Sweetie was excited because FINALLY she'd get to see the videos of her Daddy during his years when he and his friends were involved in a campus variety T.V. show. So exciting! She loved it! So much so that she's actually planning on bringing the show back to life, and I dare say she already has the first couple new episodes already worked out in her mind.

And then there was today. TODAY! A very well anticipated day for Sweetie, since she'd be attending the birthday "event" of her good friend (the daughter of the afore mentioned couple who lost their baby.) And what an event it was! High flying action took place and Sweetie was beside herself with excitement. What a thrilling experience! Definitely a fun-filled, happy day that all families involved in certainly deserved.

Phew! What a week it's been! I'm personally hoping for a more even-keeled week for the upcoming few days. Boring, even, might be okay with me.

The lows were certainly low, but the highs were fantastically high. All in all, I really can't complain.

How am I? Great!

And then there's how I really feel. (which, for now at least, is actually not too far from great anyway.)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Under The Influence

Everyone has something they do well. Hopefully I have at least a few things that others think I'm particularly good at. One of them, I feel confident in stating, is writing. I love to write and it's a skill that comes so naturally to me that it doesn't even feel like a skill - it's just a little thing I can do well enough without much effort - enough to hopefully entertain others and satisfy me.

So it's somewhat funny to me that, since I can write well (that is, communicate effectively through the written word), I am not at all good at speaking well. And I'm not only considering public speaking. No, I can't even always speak one-on-one with a good friend without stumbling over words or just plain not knowing how to transition from one topic of conversation to the next.

I am just a bad, bad speaker. Too quiet, too quick to get nervous/turn red over the tiniest of (self-perceived) "things", and not enough up on current events to meaningfully engage in/begin even a bit of small talk with someone.

I remember in college, in fact, thinking that my Humanities discussion class in particular was just a huge lie in that surely none of these college peers of mine truly had any real interest in discussing the philosophy of Socrates or the lessons of Camus. I saw their classroom contributions as pure BS, knowing that out in the Real World they'd much rather talk about beer and sports and the opposite sex and whatever other subject of nothingness going on immediately around them. And I - just didn't talk in class. Because I didn't care either! Or I did, but I didn't want to come off as a nerd. But either way, I didn't want to be a liar - so I just didn't say a thing.

All, I believe, contributing to my current inability to hold an interesting conversation with someone now.

Hubby wouldn't mind me saying that he too is not the best at speaking with others in social settings, and certainly not great as the sole speaker in front of many. In fact we joke together that, when at large family gatherings or other party-type situations, we often find that the people we choose to migrate toward to speak with usually roam away from us within just a few minutes.

We're obviously really that bad. It's pathetic.

So after a recent family (family!) small (small!) get-together where he and I (well, at least I, as far as I'm concerned) spent way too much time sitting in silence while others around chatted, I mentioned to Hubby that I wished there was either a course to take or a book to read about how to Learn to Make Small Talk. He agreed that that would be great for him as well.

I searched the 'net for any books on the topic, but could not see that any in existence could be found at our small public library. Oh well. Maybe someday I'll pick one up at the store.

In the meantime, another thing I know about myself is that I am able to rather comfortably speak with others after imbibing in just a glass or 2 of wine (or other some such alcoholic beverage). Mind you, I'm not saying I have to be completely drunk - just a tad bit loosened up and tipsy. Catch me then, and I'm happy to speak with you for as long as you'd like - and I'm sure we'd both find each other's time very well spent.

With this in mind, and a quick Google search yesterday successfully leading me to "12 Easy Tips for Making Small Talk," - a list of tips I shared with Hubby as well - I felt somewhat prepared to go to - and enjoy - an event last night at our church.

Wait! No... that doesn't sound good at all! Change that to "with the realization that I feel more comfortable after a drink or 2 (but not after having actually had the drinks), and with the Googled tips, I was able to go to the church function knowing what I had to do to more easily engage in small talk."

I just had to act like I was under the influence.

And you know what? I rather think that worked!

We found a small group of friends to sit with, and I felt pretty good about the give and take of our conversation. I was able to ask questions, offer information, and entertain as much as I felt entertained. At least I hope so, anyway.

And again at coffee hour today. We tend to leave pretty soon after getting a quick coffee and snack. But today we stayed and chatted with some friends we hadn't seen all summer - along with a friend of theirs they brought along for a visit. I had fun today and really enjoyed both catching up with our friends and learning something about their friend who was there with them.

So that's the trick! All I have to do is remember how easily conversation comes to me after having a few drinks - remember how I'll happily contribute stories and opinions without worrying that they don't really fit in with what's being discussed around me, but are close enough anyway. And I'm good! By no means the life of the party, but an interesting enough member of the gathering whom others actually wish to stay and speak with.

Hmmm... come to think of it... maybe I should have had a swig or 2 back in college before my Humanities classes. Then I'd have been a fascinating contributor to the class instead of a wilting wallflower.

Maybe that's what my classmates did. Yep - they weren't thinking about drinking - they were drinking!

Ahhh.. it's all so clear now. If only I'd been a bit of a wild child, how different my life would be...

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Beach Blogging Bingo

Well, okay. Not really Bingo so much as Apples to Apples. Or Quiddler. But there may be bongos, I suppose! All depends what sorts of talents/ no talents present themselves at tonight's show.

Whatever. S'all good. We're having a grand time, as expected, here at the beach. Our only real vacation this year, and we've really been looking forward to it.

Of course, it will all be over too soon. Just a quick 2 night trip away, joined with many members of our church for some fun, free time and fellowship. After a summer "off" from church (gotta love a church that values family time enough to provide you with a whole summer's worth of it each year!), reuniting at the beach each September is an amazing way to reconnect with those who really have become an extended family to us.

And the family aspect of gathering here really is such an important and comforting part to us. Sweetie is free to play and run around wherever, whether we are right there with her or not. We know that everyone here is watching over and keeping safe all of our kids - not just the one(s) who biologically belong to us. Sweetie's either outside, in a friend's room, playing in the common room or snacking in the dining hall. Do we really know exactly where she is every second? No. But it doesn't really matter - we know she's safe wherever she is, that she's not making a nuisance of herself (too badly, anyway), and that she is more than likely having the time of her life.

As are Hubby and I. Staying up late playing cards and boardgames with the grownups, collecting driftwood along the shore at daybreak, and visiting with friends old and new. Such a fabulous, fun time to stop and refresh the soul.

Looking forward to this evening's cocktail hour and the afore mentioned Talent/No Talent Show, followed by a bonfire for marshmallow toasting and s'mores.

Oh yeah. Did I say yet that I was in Heaven? Because that's exactly where I feel like I am.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

The Secret Lives of Parents

When I was a little girl I remember sobbing to my parents time after time, could I pleeeeeaaaassseee go with them out to dinner/to the movies/to whatever grown up activity they were embarking on instead of stay home with my brothers and the babysitter. I so wanted to go with them - not to be left by them. To be involved in whatever kind of Exciting Fun they were about to have instead of stay home, having a regular ol' evening with my siblings and sitter. Not that I didn't love our regular baby sitter. And my brothers didn't treat me all that badly, either. But just to be with my parents, doing the obviously amazingly fun and different and exciting thing they were about to do - that was where I wanted to be.

(Or, was it more like I simply didn't want my parents to go in the first place? Yeah - that was probably the case at least some of the time.)

So of course when Hubby and I get the chance to go out every once in awhile, there's Sweetie... skipping with joy into Nana's house, already thoroughly entranced in her Lego playing within a minute of arriving, hardly even acknowledging the fact that Daddy and I are going away for a few hours or (as was the case last night) leaving her to sleep over, since he and I will be out past her bedtime. See ya, Mom and Dad! Have a great time!

Heck! When sleepovers are involved, there's practically an enthusiastic countdown of days leading up to the Super Fun event!

I don't believe Sweetie has ever asked why she's not allowed to go with us out to dinner/ out to so-and-so's house/ to the movies/ to the wedding (last night's event - for my boss's daughter's wedding.) Even when she knows perfectly well who we'll be seeing, where we'll be eating, what kind of fun can be had at the given event - nothing. She knows she's going to Nana's & Papa's house, or possibly being watched by Grammy and Grampy, and she is one happy little bee with her assigned place in the situation.

And even though I have 7 (and a half!) years of experience with this, it seemed that last night more than ever pointed out to me what exactly adults - specifically, parents - do with each other when they are fortunate enough to have an evening away from their kids.

We talk about our kids!

Of course, Hubby and I have been out for evenings before with other friends who are not parents. And inevitably we will bring up the subject of Sweetie one or two or 10 times. But we really do try to make an effort to "leave Sweetie at home," not talking about her too much because, well, we imagine the subject of parenting is just not all that interesting to those who are not involved in it. In fact, I imagine that they imagine we as parents are excited to have an evening away and to not "have" to talk about Sweetie would be our idea of a relaxing night out.

But in truth... uh uh. We parents honestly can't get enough of our kids and are thrilled to talk about them with anyone who'll listen. And what better group of people to do this with than with other parents who are just as enthusiastic about sharing their own kids' impressive qualities/maddening habits/sicknesses/achievements/challenges, etc., etc., etc....

And now I know beyond the shadow of a doubt... when I was little and my parents went out against my wishes!... they too, no doubt, were talking about my brothers and me with just as much heart and pride and amazement as Hubby and I now apply when talking about our Sweetie.

You are a joy, Sweetie. Yes, you're also a stubborn, at times whiney kid whose ears don't always work as well as they should. But mostly - a pure joy. And even when you are not with us, please know (and I think you do) - you are always at the forefront of our minds and we can't get enough of sharing stories of our life with you with whomever we are with who cares to listen.

That's what we parents do.