Camp: the girl’s gone solo

Friday night was fairly typical of previous “the night before away camp” evenings.  There were the packing lists, the clothes strewn all over the floor, checking of the flashlights for batteries,the discussions about the pros and cons of bringing rain boots …  This is the fifth summer of away camp so my own involvement in the process is now quite diminished.

For my little one, who is not so little any more, there was sorting of the new pairs of shorts I had purchased for her earlier in the day.   The purchases had been at her request -I had been sent on a mission complete with research snapshots on my phone -when she had discovered she was short on – well, shorts -that fit.  Which store had which shorts at which price.   She also had a packing system this year, deciding an outfit per day for seven days,  putting each into a ziplock bag so all she has to do every morning is open up a bag and she’s ready!  Brilliant – and this is why she knew she was out of shorts.  And this is also why she was pretty much packed by Friday evening.

Her load was also a little lighter this year as she was bringing the red sleeping bag- her brother’s.  His has been the lighter one because he felt he didn’t need the the thickness of his little sister’s.  And while she was excited about having less to carry,  it was also bittersweet.  This is the first year of summer camp that she will be going without her brother.  The big guy is done his camp days – he’s too busy this summer with school and work.  She looked forward to camp but said it was “weird” not having him come up with us, that she won’t see him occasionally throughout the week.

It’s the end of an era for my son, but the camp adventures continue for my girl for at least for a few more years.

When we arrived at camp after the long drive, I’m sure the weirdness of the situation flew out the window the minute she spotted her cabin mates.  The girls launched themselves at each other, chattering and hugging each other excitedly.  They ran off to set up the bunk as we introduced ourselves to her new counselor.  

And thus began what we anticipate will be another stellar summer week.

It’s been a couple days now, and the boy has admitted that he misses his little sister.  

I know it isn’t that much longer until she comes home, but he’s not the only one missing her.

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Watching the days go by …

“Whoo – hoo!”  Thump.  Thump.

“Hey, be quiet up there, your sister is sleeping” the annoyed parents yelled up at the boy-man (irony, yes we were yelling at him.)

Six foot 2 inches of excitement came flying down the stairs into the family room, iphone in hand.

“I got it, I got the job! I can’t believe it!”

And with that, my boy-man progresses further into the category of man.  His first part-time job, as a swim instructor/life guard.  A perfect summer position, something I have been not so subtly pushing him toward since he first dipped his head underwater at the age of 5.  A role that seemed hard to convince him of when he decided he no longer needed lessons at the age of 12.  After all, he knew how to swim.  Why bother teaching?  What did it matter to a 12 year old boy, who had completed all the swim levels he could and was too young to progress to the lifesaving courses.  Who was also too busy playing video games.

So we waited it out.  By the age of 15, we started our gentle persuasion techniques (after my tiger-mom bullying no longer was effective).  His father brought up the fact that as a lifeguard/swim instructor, there would be other kids, it would be social.  And there would be girls.  Lots of them. Brilliant -only a man’s perspective will do in certain situations.

It worked.   Over the next year and a half, he finished his levels, CPR, lifesaving training, life guarding and swim instructor training sessions.   The training, as one should expect, was extremely rigorous. Candidates had to demonstrate swimming skills and stamina, as well as understand emergency situations, workings of the body / heart, legal liabilities associated with this role.  After every course there seemed to be another set of sessions he had to complete – but he tackled every one with determination. Begrudgingly, as the timing got in the way of  homework and more importantly friends/parties/girlfriend…but he did it.

After his aquatic interview mid-May, he was told his chances of summer employment were pretty slim because of returning students from university, and carryover from the current session.  Nevertheless, he sent a personal note to the supervisor of the closest pool, mentioning his contacts and his network, asking for consideration should anything come up.

And sure enough, a week and a bit later, he received confirmation that he was hired, and had a choice of sessions.  These sessions work perfectly with his summer school schedule.

I’m officially a proud mama bear.

They tell you that once your boys hit high school, you will see misery, complaints, grunting rather than communication, until a certain time.  Almost as if on cue, our son is hitting a sweet spot – in his third to last semester of high school. This time next year he will be looking at university applications and acceptances, hopefully in the program of his choice. He will be graduating.  I’m trying not to count semesters.

Incidentally he’s knocking these life milestones out of the park this month.  He also got his driver’s license 2 days after his first meeting with his manager.

How did we get here? My boy – our young man. He can still be a complete shit to me sometimes, but remember, he is still a teenager.  But he always apologizes and he means it. With a hug – and sometimes bubble tea.


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A doppelgänger and a book review “Mitzi Bytes”.

IMG_0604When I’d read a quick synopsis of the plot and heard that this book would be coming out in early 2017, I could hardly wait. Then it came out, I got my hands on it and was initially concerned that my anticipation had gotten the better of me and I would be disappointed.

Thankfully there was no need to worry. I was truly delighted and at some parts I actually laughed out loud. Sure there were moments when Sarah wasn’t completely likeable, but she’s totally human and witty as sin. The school drop offs, pickups, the book club, the coffee, the moms, PTA, the SUV, unflappable husband -all rather familiar to me. And yeah, I’m an old school blogger too -the only reason I didn’t rate it 5 was that I didn’t want to seem too biased. Will I bring it forward to book club? I have to go back to review my archives first LOL!!



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We the people of Walmart

The other evening my husband came home from work looking like this





Well, without the chain and the white ‘fro, the track jacket was black, and his collar was quite unzipped. His collar was screaming out for something.

Turns out he had forgotten his workout t-shirt to bring to the gym, so he improvised.  At least he didn’t do weights in his dress shoes -that would have been a look.

Of course I couldn’t help but comment,  as his naked collar demanded a remark.

“So where’s the gold?” And he pretty much commented simultaneously -he had been thinking that the whole time he was working out. We are rather connected that way after all these crazy years together. We then promptly burst into a major laughing fit. Lunatics.

The next day I went to Walmart to check out the cheese that was on sale. I’ve been a more dutiful mother these days and noticed our cheese inventory was low, likely due to the many late night grilled cheese sandwiches for the growing teenager…I’m always on the lookout for cheese deals.

As I’m standing there looking at the selection, a smaller, older gentleman comes up next to me saying, “Oh, that’s really good cheese, and a great price!”

“I’m not familiar with this brand, is it good?” I replied, and then I looked over at him :

“Oh it’s good, especially the mozzarella!  I actually had just got to my car and had to turn around and come back to get more because it’s such a deal.”

Me: ” is the mozzarella good on pizza? My kids love pizza” (and I’m freaking out over the fact that I’m having a lovely conversation about the merits of Armstrong cheese with uncle Soprano).

Him:” I don’t know about pizza, probably. Alls I know is that it’s fantastic on crackers, slice ’em up small and it’s so sweet in the mouth.”

Me:” I just noticed the expiry is rather short-it’s only good for another couple of weeks…”

Him:”Really? Where do you see that? Just freeze it, you can do that it will be fine. Me, I’ll finish it up way before that…you should get some.”

So I bought the cheese.  Because honestly, how could I do otherwise?

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I used to have pretty feet, and other middle-aged laments 

I used to love being pampered, manicured, pedicured, buffed, massaged … all in the name of getting my pretty on.  I remember one time during a pedicure, the technician commented that I had really pretty feet.  I guess it’s all relative, she’d probably seen her fair share of not-so-nice paws.  Still, I appreciated the compliment.  Especially since I was a few weeks into my second pregnancy, at a time when I could still see my toes, and I was likely glowing with the fact that I was actually pregnant again after another fertility roller coaster.  Still young-ish at 39, with a shiny happy marriage and preschooler.  Those were the days.  

Nowadays, I still love being pampered, love a massage and have discovered the shellac manicure. ( The irony of having more time but less money for such luxuries does not escape me.) But the feet – ack, they are no longer pretty.  In fact, they are pretty jacked up.  Bunions – check.  Flat feet (thanks kids!) – orthotics – check.  Plantar fasciitis-check.  Banged up toes due to aggressive workouts and bad shoes – double-check. So I get quite anxious when it comes to pedicures.  I have found a great technician who is not judgemental at all. She scolds me when I let my heels crack with fissures the size of the Grand Canyon. Gotta love her.  But I suppose it’s just another aspect of aging and life that I need to come to terms with.

The workouts that I love?  They are getting harder and harder.  I love the music, love the beat, love the moves. It’s just that at over 50 now, I lose my breath faster, the choreography is not coming to me as quickly or sticking as well, the punches that I throw are feeling weaker than they were even just last year.  My balance is totally off,  I’m heavier (although not so noticeable – it sits on me funny), I’m only sleeping 6 hours a night tops, and popping ibuprofen and Robax more than I should.

I’ve decided to take on more stretching, core-focused exercise, and am doing more Bodyflow classes, the class I started with way back when the kids were young and I was pretty darn flexible.  They are a fantastic workout, as I get pretty sweaty holding those yoga poses, and trying not to crash every time we have a balancing pose.  It’s  not as exciting as the dance / hip hop or punchy/kicky combat, though.  

One thing that helps with my balance?  

I stole my son’s obnoxious Skyzone socks for grip.

Yeah, trampoline socks for flowy yoga classes.

Isn’t it ironic, don’tcha think? 

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People watch 2017

I went downtown via subway again earlier this week for a meeting.  Look at me so adventurous again, taking public transit, whaaat?  Thank goodness I was able to get the fifth to last parking spot in the commuter lot – yes, I counted.  I was also ready to go all ninja on anyone who tried to take that spot from me.  Thank goodness for them that no-one did, just sayin’.

Since it was at the start of the subway line, it was easy enough to get a seat on the first car I saw.   You could otherwise call it a front row seat to the not- greatest show on earth.   The circus of the people on public transit.  You don’t need to watch animals to be entertained by strange behavior these days. Stupid human tricks happen in our midst everyday, apparently.

It’s been a while since I was a seasoned commuter so I naively assumed that my iPhone would be enough to keep me entertained (even without service) during my voyage into the city.  But why would that suffice when, crammed into the subway car during rush hour, despite the limited places to look, there is always something to catch your attention?

The train arrived at the standing only stage within a couple of stops.  A petite woman with a heavy parka, backpack and a rolling back pack in tow, came into the car. She squeezed in between two people standing in front of me. And then proceeded to put on the most intricate peeling-off-of-coat-not -sexy-at-all-why-the-hell-was-she-wearing-so-many-layers performance, that I have ever been witness to.  Honestly don’t know how she even did it, she shrugged off the shoulders but left the sleeves still somehow attached under her backpack straps, and slid the coat down to her hips. She then pulled out her tablet, got her balance and started to read. For about 30 seconds, then she glanced at another woman’s reader (I guess to see if the other story was more interesting ?!), spotted a clearer spot a little further down the car, and when we got to the next stop, she moved. Backpack, roller, parka, tablet and all. It was just getting interesting. And my nosy eyes followed her the whole time.  

Then I snapped out of it as I realized other people who had also been gawking at her, were now gawking at each other as in, also at me, and I got all self-conscious because I still had another 10 stops to go, and nowhere else to look.  So I stared at my no-service phone for the rest of the ride.

Oh the joys of commuting. 

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“It’s scary”

Not to start out with a crazy post for the new year or anything. I’ve just come to realize, with the holiday break coming to an end in 14 hours or so (well if you tack on sleep it will be more like 20), time is whizzing by at an incredibly fast speed.  Even though we did pretty much NOTHING over the break. Other than hang around the house, with the occasional outing to the mall, the movies -usual stuff. When I took my daughter to the Science center for the day she said, “Finally we’re doing something after over a week in the house!!!”

So how did it just whip by? And how did I let it?

The one thing that has become crystal clear to me during this episode of “staying home with the kids part deux” is that as much as the kids really need me, I most certainly need them. They don’t define all of me, but they sure are a large chunk of my identity.  How could they not be?  The tremendous efforts we (and I in particular -oh those injections -oof) made through the years to realize our dream of having a family were beyond worth it.  It’s nothing like the holidays and the simple conversations we’ve had with the kids, seeing them develop even within the last two weeks of nothingness, to highlight the scariest fact.

They are growing up. 

Last week, my son had surgery to remove a couple of wisdom teeth and was only comfortable with it if we guaranteed sedation for him.  Which of course we did. How else would his sister get hilarious video footage of him to share out on social media in order for us to make millions?  She waited patiently for 90 minutes and then filmed him  on the ride home.  Some of it was hilarious:

– the boy was really hankering for a McD’s strawberry milkshake post surgery and started crying when he remembered a precious drive thru fail to get an Oreo McFlurry. (“Who breaks the ice cream machine, waaaaah!) “Give me the chicken nuggets dude!” Whaaa?

-he was critical of a moving truck that passed through the intersection as he waited at the red light. “What kind of driving is that, why is it so slow ?”as he read the side of the truck  “Kinnngssssswaaaaay”. 

Not anything worth millions but endearing nonetheless. 

There were off camera moments as well. Apparently during  the prep, he told the technician ” I love my mom and dad.  They are so awesome”.

And then later, “I don’t want to grow up. It’s scary”. The truth. 

My heart. 

The bravado, the confidence in my 16 year old is in the day to day. When he is sedated with truth serum, more of his worry wart mama comes out. It is scary.  Lots of decisions to be made this year about what to do in life.  We are a year away from having to make choices about schools, programs, what he wants to be when he grows up. How can he know that now? How can he know what his passion is? His middle aged mom is in her own process as she writes this.

I’m loving being here to see the minutiae of their daily life. They are already different than at the start the summer when I began my break. My son is a certified national life guard and has started driving lessons.  My daughter has discovered facial masks, eyeliner, Urban Outfitters and shopping malls. 

The American Girl dolls are in semi-permanent hibernation. Thomas the Tank and friends are in a basement storage bin.

I am still committed to embracing 2017 and the changes it will bring.  I just forgot that as the kids continue to grow up they are slowly but surely moving away from me.  And while rewarding, it will always remain at least a little frightening.

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