The party’s over

I’m not gonna lie, it was a great summer. The boys are finally old enough that I can indulge my penchant for late nights and lie-ins and afternoon naps filled in with trips to the pool or the beach, two places that I adore. At those places I can now read books or yap with friends and not chase little boys around. I truly believe that these delightful SAHM summers are a reward for the long days of baby- and toddlerhood. Many of my friends are on their third (or so) baby and I get exhausted just watching them run around. God bless.

But it was great! Party party party — we had two parties and went to several others. Most fit the theme of sitting on a deck or in lawn chairs with beers while all the kids ran around crazy. We had that fun jaunt (where the above picture was taken) to WV in early June to visit Dad and Aunt Lil. We had fun company.

And now it’s fall.

My birthday was on Sunday and it had its ups and downs, as birthdays do. I had high hopes for a post-birthday fun lunch with my husband plus spending birthday money at Barnes & Noble and picking up a few things at Trader Joe’s — nice. Sadly, Michael’s untimely illness squashed those plans and instead I spent almost two hours at the car dealership getting my oil changed and sulking. It went downhill from there.

Once I snapped out of that funk I reflected on the busy-ness of my life now — homeschooling is rewarding, sometimes frustrating, and consistently exhausting. There is a certain amount of work involved in getting the little one off to school and such, but not such a big deal (thankfully). There is the general running-of-the-household stuff which I still feel quite unsuited for (and hopelessly behind in), plus my paying jobs that I took up last year when I had two in school! So, it’s not just me — it is a little nutso (add in soccer and swim team).

Now that I have embraced what is (and am getting to bed earlier) I feel more relaxed about the whole thing. Autumn in NEO is full of charms — a long warm-ish season (due to the lake effect), outstanding fall colors, Friday night football games (and the cannon going off at the high school).

But I still love summer most of all.

Homeschool lessons

Once again my child is making me a better person. It is, of course, an exhausting process.

One of the oddest compliments my mother ever paid me was after M was born and had terrible allergies and I’d given up all wheat and dairy for months in order to breastfeed him. She said that, having known me my whole life, she never would have thought that I’d have the patience! And, no offense taken, I am a pretty selfish and lazy person at heart. I don’t mean that in a bad way (necessarily) but I do like my comfort and enjoy laying around and *love* being waited on. And I do try to structure my life in such a way that I get most of my needs met.

I will say that the weight falls off of you when you don’t eat wheat or dairy (and now that diet is all the rage) but it was terrible at the time. So I learned a little bit about self-sacrifice, as mothers do.

Both my boys are very high-energy so I’ve learned to think about getting exercise every day, as well as getting ya-ya’s out before sitting-type events (or events with a high potential embarrassment factor).

So, now with homeschooling, I am forced to freelance again, which I always enjoyed. I hate the technical aspects of the home office., that’s for sure, but I love bopping around town (with company!), keeping track of hours, checking off a to-do list, and generally feeling productive and useful. Now that I am once again largely responsible for the care and upkeep of one little person, day in and day out, I am pushed into developing better habits for myself. Good stuff!

My 9/11 Story

I wrote this a couple days ago for a “where where you on September 11, 2001?” thread for a message board I’m on.  It proved quite cathartic and I’m pleased with how it turned out. If you’re curious:

I was on my way to work a few blocks from the World Trade Center (my office was right behind Trinity Wall Street). I was seven months pregnant with Miles and my boss had said I could come in at 9:30 so I wouldn’t have to be in the worst of the commuter crush.

My commuter train pulled into Hoboken where I would switch to the PATH train that took me under the Hudson to the WTC. I’d get an egg sandwich at the deli across the street and walk to work.  I was sitting in a seat that faced backward and saw one of the men on the train get up and cross the aisle to look out the window. I looked out the window too and saw one of the towers was on fire. I believe in retrospect I went into shock at that time because my decisions after that were odd. I was thinking that I would take the ferry across the river instead of the PATH because then I could see what was happening. Thankfully, they had already stopped running the trains and ferries at that point.

I walked out into a giant courtyard where there were bunches of people milling around and as I came out they all gasped at once, like they were at a fireworks show — that was the second plane.

It took me a long time to realize that people elsewhere would know what was going on and that people would be worried about me. My cell phone didn’t have a signal, and the lines at the pay phones were 20 deep and I don’t know if they were working any better. Meanwhile, poor Michael was at home in NJ fielding phone calls from my frantic mom and dad.

I went to a deli to buy an egg sandwich and a coffee because I figured I had to at least keep my strength up. [My husband laughed upon hearing this and said it was a classic New York move. I agree! The resilience they all showed was remarkable. In essence, I believe my primal actions spoke : “I may be going down, but I’m not going down without my coffee.”]

While I was waiting in line they had the radio on and that’s when they were saying all kinds of crazy stuff — the plane headed toward the Pentagon and all.

In Hoboken there are some beautiful recreational piers that go way out into the Hudson and provide a sensational view of Manhattan. Many people gathered out there to watch what was happening, and then the first tower fell. That was the worst part of the day for me.

There were tons of ambulances around, waiting for survivors. The first responders finally rounded us all up and put us on trains out to the suburbs. On the train I heard many surreal conversations between people who had been downtown for this and saw bodies and body parts falling. Others were just catatonic with shock. I got off the train in Montclair, and Michael came and picked me up.

As you can imagine, it is a very personal and painful memory for me. What’s worse, and what those who didn’t live in the area might not know, was how terrible it was in the days and weeks and months that followed. Everyone had to get on a subway or go through a tunnel or something like that to get to work and every single one of us was terrified out of our minds the first time we did it. There were Missing posters up all over the city. As time went on and they started allowing more of us back into our offices down there, you could walk somewhat close to the perimeter and see what was remaining of the towers, and the bulldozers. Everything was filthy and gray.

This cannot be over quickly enough for me.

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Let there be peace on earth! No one should have to live through something like this.

My beautiful boy turns ten in November.

Day 3

Spending the last three days doing pretty intensive school-at-home with M, I’ll say it’s been exhausting and very instructive.

My many homeschooling friends are, to a one, much more relaxed in their approach with their actual styles being all over the map. I can see the appeal but do believe it’s just what he and I both need right now.

It is fun to teach him things that I think are important like write a hand-written letter, answer the phone politely, to organize things and plans, and so forth. At the same time we’re learning all this 4th grade stuff together and being pretty far away from 4th grade myself, it is vaguely familiar and boring yet interesting at the same time.

The structure is working for me (somewhat) right now. At the same time it has given me something powerful to do. Compared to my feelings of loss and slight panic last fall, I am worn out and somewhat melancholy (loving summer and hating cold weather) but, on the whole, quite serene.

He really seems to be enjoying my company, which is a delight. When I got home from my lifeguard in-service (front active approach, rear passive approach, backboarding) I had to get my laundry in from off the line. He came popping out of the house to keep my company and offered to take some things off for me. And then ran off again.

Big D seems to be bearing up to first grade just fine. He got his first library book today and we were both pleased that the librarian recognized him — although it’s his first year at the school, he came with me once or twice when I volunteered there last year.

On the whole, so far so good. Thrilled to be coming up to a long weekend all the same.

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