Thursday, December 23, 2010

Great Expectations

Here we go- Christmas Eve tomorrow! I get so anxious worrying about the gifts I am giving and the ones my kids will get. I know that all of my family members care and put thought into what they buy, but I still get so nervous that someone will be disappointed. Expectations are always so high! "I can't wait for Christmas!! I'm going to get so much stuff!" I hear this and dread it. I'm sure everything will end up OK, but I still feel like if it's not perfect, it's all for nothing. One thing that I am proud of is the decision I made long ago not to lie to my kids that Santa is real. They have known from the beginning that people who love them are the ones that give them gifts. I also told them that it is not their place to tell anyone from school or activities that still believes in Santa that he is not real. They are pretty cool about it, and I love that! I remember feeling DEVASTATED that
"Mykolaj" was my parents!! My friend broke it to me at some Plast event. She said, and I remember it like it was yesterday, "Did your mom bring your present?" and I was like, "Huh?" and she says, "You know that your mom is Mykolaj! He's not REAL!!"
and I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. I never wanted my kids to feel like that. Don't worry, I don't blame anyone for perpetuating the story. I guess it's fine for most, but it can be a real powderkeg. And I always worry that the expectations of perfect family togetherness are high as well. I can't say that during my marriage Christmas time was particularly special, or romantic or loving, like it tends to be portrayed on TV and seasonal movies and specials. That is probably the saddest part, that my expectations lowered themselves rather early so that I wouldn't end up curled in a ball crying my eyes out. On that note, I do genuinely wish you all a Merry Christmas, and I hope that your holiday lives up to your expectations!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Teacher Gifts

I just finished making my first ever batch of chocolate truffles!! Half were rolled in cocoa powder, the other half in powdered sugar. I think they will look very nice in their individual liners inside cute little Christmasy tins! The specials teachers and coaches are getting these truffles, while the two main teachers are going to get my Mom's famous Sherry Cake. I try to think about what I (as a teacher) would like to get, and food is always a good choice. Soaps and mugs, not so much. I have a lot of those! Christmas ornaments are nice too, especially if they are home-made by the student (or their mom!) Last year we, and I use that term loosely, painted these cute wooden Santas and Christmas Trees. I admit- I try to spend as little money as possible on teacher gifts. It can get crazy if you count everyone- homeroom, gym, music, art, bus driver, coaches, paras, and Ukie school and Plast. That's why I bought all the ingredients on sale, or at Aldi's (awesome discount grocery store) a little bit each week starting about a month ago so as not to get socked with a huge bill. This is totally one of those things, one of those holiday details (gifts, Secret Santas, cards, tree decorating, etc.) that just gets done and usually falls on the mom's shoulders. The mom is the one, and usually she gets no recognition for it. Whatever. I remember one Christmas about nine years ago (ahem- you do the math as to how old the kids were...) and Mr. Dad says- "What did you get my parents?" HAHAHAHAHAHA! I said "What did YOU get MY parents??" Stuff just got done. No thank yous, no appreciation, nada.

Some of you, or rather the two of you who are reading this may be wondering what happened with the gas smell last Friday. Well, I turned off the gas when the first man left, and it slowly got quite cold in here, even for me. I took my daughter to swimming, picked up pizza and fried calamari with my son, ate that, then went back for my daughter and ended up in a freezing house. The second gasman didn't come until about 9:00 that night. It took him about half an hour to switch out the whole meter. We are gas free, and all is good- for now... What else will happen in the next week to cap off this crappy year?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Kitchen Windowsill

As I was washing dishes this morning, I took a good look at all the crap that is on my kitchen windowsill. It is such a bizarre assortment, I thought I'd share it with you! This windowsill is different in that it stretches the entire length of the side of the house. I have visions of it being decorated like in the magazines, but alas, it will never be such. If you were to stand at the sink, here is what you would see, moving from RIGHT to LEFT: two plastic sandwich containers, and their lids, that go in the kids lunch bags; a tall glass of shell shards; a wooden rooster; a small container of flour; two agate slabs of rock (one pink, one blue)that are coasters that my daughter bought at the CT Science Center; a penguin snow globe that my daughter bought at Mystic Aquarium; my son's hockey water bottle; the drumstick (cleaned!) from our Thanksgiving turkey that my daughter HAD to have; a pink "Divino Nino Jesus" candle (long story!); 4 tiny Christmas tree salt dough ornaments that need to be painted; a small chocolate milk container that my daughter made into a little house with a door that she was supposed to take to school but didn't; a Dunkin Donuts gift card; a small poinsettia; a pile of Box Tops and soup can labels and Goldfish bar codes for school; a paper mache snowman/hockey goalie; my list of items to stockpile purchase whenever I go food shopping in case we become destitute and I can only live off of what is in my pantry; coupons; receipts; a nickle; my lapel pin for donating one gallon of blood; a little box from Colombia that my daughter's kindergarten teacher gave her; a box of small envelopes; my dustbuster. Nice, huh? There is more, but that part of the sill is no longer in the kitchen, but rather over the eating area and then it extends towards the desk which I'm sitting at now. That part has framed photos, reference books, models of airplanes, and my disks of digital photos. No matter how I try, how often I clean, it never looks like I want it to. Maybe once, for like 20 minutes it looked nice.
Oh well. No one from Architectural Digest will be coming here anytime soon...

Monday, December 20, 2010

I, Enabler

Both kids got clobbered with colds in the last few days. And both got flu shots. Hmm, counterintuitive, no? I get that one may get a reaction to the shot, but come on! I did the right thing, and while it's not the FLU-flu, it's still a pain in the neck. The worst is the stuffy noses and the trails of used tissues that I find all over the house. I have little waste baskets pretty much everywhere, and they still end up on the floor. It's getting gross. Of course, when I say anything, I get groans and "Mama, that's your job!" Nice, huh? I have come to the realization that I am the kind of mom who did too much for her kids instead of teaching them to be more independent and self-sufficient. They don't make their beds, they used to put their dishes in the sink after meals but stopped, toys don't get put away, etc., etc. I wanted things done quickly instead of having them figure it out, and now I am paying for that. I have told them that starting in the New Year, things are going to change a little around here. They will have to become better citizens of this house. I can't wait to see their faces when Martial Law goes into effect!! They will hate me more than they already do!! YAY!!! But someone needs to impose the discipline and get them to stop whining and complaining. And that's gotta be me. I'm the bad guy, the bad cop. Ha- too bad.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gas Leak

So remember how I hate Christmas? I begrudgingly went to Home Depot and bought the tree, got it in the car myself, and brought it home. I put out the little reindeer that lights up, one grid of colored lights, and then I noticed a gas smell. Great.
I walked around the front of the house, smelling and smelling. Walked around the back and side of the house, smelling and smelling, and only noticed it out front, right in front of my living room window. So I called Yankee Gas and a nice guy came about ten minutes later. He poked in the ground, put in some sort of meter, nothing. Then he did it again further over, and nothing. Then he did it on some part of the gas meter and it started beeping like crazy. So, I need to have this thing replaced. The guy told me I should turn off the gas, and since I wasn't sure which switch that was, I had him come inside and look and tell me. When he saw the new boiler and tank and pipe work he was like- "Whoa. Nice tank. I install those myself. This is top of the line!" Yeah, I don't mess around when it comes to my water heaters!! Ha! Like I have any clue... Then when he saw photos of my son in his hockey gear, we started talking about hockey! What a personable man! He lamented Connecticut losing the Whalers (that's the former NHL team that was in Hartford) and we had a nice chat about that. So now I am waiting for the second guy to come with this replacement part. I guess it was a good thing I put out those decorations or it would have been an explosive Christmas around here!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rise! Shine!!

I love the moms in commercials- "Mornings around here are hectic! That's why I love "___________." [fill in: Nutella, PBJ crustless sandwiches, Eggo waffles, toaster pastries] It makes everything better and I can get everyone out the door lickety-split!!" Mornings here are impossible. I wake my kids up at 7:45. We need to leave the house at 8:15 to catch the bus. That gives them half an hour to get dressed, eat, pack up their stuff and go. That's enough time, right? Or am I totally wrong?? They lay in bed, groaning, moaning, whining. They come downstairs at like 8:03, leaving less than ten minutes to get everything done. Sometimes at 8:14 they are still eating! And there is no sense of urgency from them. They act like they just don't care. Yeah, I get that they HATE school and they don't want to GO to school and why do they HAVE to go to school, but come on! It's 8:16 and one is putting on shoes, the other one is looking through a catalogue, and I am SEETHING. Finally I erupt, they get their butts in gear, and we sprint out of the house and down the street. I hate starting the day this way. And it's even better when I come back in the house and see the saxophone sitting there on the floor, or a homework folder on the counter, or the reading log by the microwave. I'm done driving their stuff to school (except for the sax) and having to save them repeatedly. But when it's hockey or a swim meet, they are up and ready to go. Yah-it's all about what you like to do, not what you have to do.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cold Snap

It is freezing out. I guess we're lucky here that we haven't gotten any snow like over by the Great Lakes, but it's still cold. I am so cheap- I keep my house thermostat at 60 degrees. Yes, you read that right. 60. I'd love to keep it higher, but I feel like that is a flat out indulgence. The new heating system is kicking in nicely, so the heaters are working, but I can't say it's particularly cozy in my house. I remember when I lived alone back in the 90's in a great garden apartment in NJ. Heat and hot water were included and I never realized what a great deal that was! I walked around in my boxers, in the dead of winter, not a care in the world! Now, I am sitting here typing in the following garments: 2 pairs of socks, long underwear, jeans, a turtleneck, a fleece pullover, a fleece jacket and a hat. I'm cozy, not my house. My kids, conversely, could go out in this weather in a t-shirt under their parkas. It's unbelievable! Every morning, I lay out their clothes- a turtleneck with a sweater, or some such combination- and they come downstairs for breakfast in something totally different. They both hate turtlenecks, sweaters are too uncomfortable, "I get hot in gym class!", "My classroom is sooo hot!" blah blah. Should I argue? Do I fight with them? Already, at age 8 and 10?? I'm expecting I'll have thong issues and low pants and ripped jeans and sk8board fashion when they're teenagers, but now?? And never mind waiting for the bus in the mornings. That can get quite uncomfortable. The wind kicks up the main road and can be brutal. I don't want to wait in my car- that seems so wimpy. So we stand out there, freezing our toochuses. But I did go for my daily walk today. With my hat and gloves, scarf and long coat, it was bearable. Stay warm!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Issues, redux

I was never one who brimmed with self confidence. I think I can safely say I was a shy kid, I HATED using the phone, I didn't like being the center of attention. It certainly didn't help that at age 13 I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and had to go on cortico-steroids which swelled my face to gargantuan proportions. I hated the way I looked, some kids at school made fun of me, and henceforth I became very self conscious. Even when the swelling went down, I felt like people were always looking at me, for the wrong reasons. Sh** like that will mess with you FOREVER!! When I went to Spain my junior year in College, I kind of gained some courage and a little bit of self-esteem since I had to survive somehow on my own. Later, I didn't date much, prefering to stay home and eat and watch TV. When I met my "husband", I guess I looked ok, and I guess I looked ok at my wedding. Now, being single again, and constantly surrounded by what look like happily married good looking people with these mega families (4 or 5 kids!!) I want to go crawl under a rock!! I avoid swim practice because all they talk about is their families, their high powered and high paying jobs, their plans, their vacations, their homes (don't get me started about my feeling about $$!!!). I don't begrudge them their happiness-it must be nice having that spouse to turn to at night, to share a glance with over the dinner table, to have that support while dealing with an unruly child, to know that the snow will be shoveled and maybe even your car cleaned off. But it is just so hard being surrounded by this. So I'm having to deal with these feeling of self-consciousness (and jealousy!) once more. Bleh. It's like I'm 13 all over again. And I hated being 13!! And it doesn't help that I cut my hair back in October and I can't decide if I like it or not. Sheesh, will it ever get better?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blood Donation

I just got back from donating blood. I try to go as often as I am allowed, but I realized the last time I gave was back in January! I did try going in March/April, but I was actually rejected for low iron. That was the first time in about 4 years I was denied!! For those of you who have never donated, you need to go through several steps to get clearance. There is an "interview" where you are asked questions like- "In the past 6 months have you come into contact with someone else's blood?, "Have you spent more than 6 months in The British Isles?", "Have you ever had sex with someone for drugs or money?", "Have you ever had sex with a man who has had sex with another man?", "Have you ever had Mad-Cow Disease?", "Have you ever taken drugs or steroids intravenously?" and it's very hard not to giggle, but you can't because they need to screen and you must be serious and not snarky. You get your blood pressure taken, they prick your finger to check iron levels, they take your temperature and check your arms for bruises or track marks. If you are cleared, you are taken to a cot, and then they start to look for good veins. And then they take the blood! It's really not a big deal- just a massive pinch, and you can literally save a life, or even lives!! After it's over, you get to go to the snack table! I love the snack table!! Sometimes they have sandwiches- tuna, turkey, PBJ-sometimes they have pizza, or even ice cream!! YAY! I love free food!!
And there's usually a raffle of some sort, like for Red Sox Tickets, an HDTV, or concert tickets. I've taken my kids with me sometimes and tried to emphasize the importance of donating. I think if you take them with you and expose them and teach them, it can only help. Usually. Actually, they love the free food too as the volunteers who man the "Canteen" tell them they can have some cookies because they are such good kids!! So all of you who are healthy, consider donating! It's no big deal!!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Job Hunt

Gah! It is so frustrating, depressing, incapacitating, self-esteem deflating to be unemployed! I know that the economy is bad, and that there are so many people in my predicament, but I didn't think it would take so long for me to find something. To stave off a nervous breakdown, I go for a long walk every day. During these walks I talk to myself, let my mind wander, have practice interviews, cry, shout, sing along with my MP3, (and collect cans for the deposit $$!) and lately I have been questioning just about every major decision I have made in the last 20 years. My biggest regret is that I did not become a certified teacher/education major in college. While that is no guarantee, I think my options would be more varied and stable. What did I know in college?!? Nothing. You think you're all mature, that you have your life planned out, but I think few really know. So, that's a big mistake of mine. I did teach for 6 years in a Private School where a certification isn't necessary for employment. I was a good teacher and I contributed a great deal to the school community- teaching, advising, coaching, chaperoning, etc. Being out of the field for about 10 years, however, does not make for an attractive resume now. I don't think I would hire myself to teach a language that I haven't even spoken in that same amount of time. Every day care/child care/early childhood teacher/assistant teacher job I see requires a degree or working towards a degree to be considered. I guess I could go back to school, but honestly, I don't have it in me right now. I really don't. The thought of taking a Praxis (like an SAT) exam terrifies me. So, that's the big thing that sucks. The other thing, and please do not misunderstand, is that I am now questioning staying home with my kids for their first years of life. I do not, repeat, DO NOT, regret staying home with them and being the one who raised them instead of some 20 yr. old day care worker. I am just questioning whether it was the financially prudent thing to do. We didn't have a lot of money back when the kids were babies. It was a struggle, and I was (and continue to be) extremely frugal and smart with money. I think that being out of the game has hurt me. I did go back to work once a week at the aforementioned Ukrainian School when my youngest was 2 1/2. Then when she was 4 I added in teaching a baby tumbling/gymnastics class weekday mornings, then when she was 5 I became like a receptionist at her school. All 3 of those jobs found me. I wasn't even looking!! I thought I'd be on my way to something full time, or at least more substantial, but it's worse than ever. I look and apply every day online, which I guess is the modern classified ad where no one ever gets a job. So that is an exercise in futility. Many scams on there too! That's so disheartening. I applied for a teaching job with Teach for America and was rejected from that. I filled out forms for a placement agency for Private Schools and they had nothing for me. And on and on. I fear for my future!! I am 42 and do not have a job. I couldn't support myself and my children if I had to. Makes for many long and sleepless nights.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New (Old) Car

I did it. I got a car by myself. Ha! How many of you, ladies/wives in particular, know where your car's Title is? Hmm? I know, because I was the one who maintained all of that paperwork and was responsible for remembering where it all was. Anyway, the car is used, but it's awesome! My kids loved it as well. I walked to the dealer in this freezing weather and spent a little over 3 hours there taking care of everything. And I did it! So now perhaps my mind can rest a little easier knowing that when I put the key in the ignition, it will most likely start.
When I went to empty the old car, I took two photos of her. There were some significant memories there (one car seat, then two car seats, then two booster seats) but nothing like when I cried when I got rid of my first car, a Honda CRX that I got when I was 25. That was a sad day. Today, not so sad. Just happy and relieved.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dodge Stratus, RIP

It's over. Sooo over!! I got in the car this morning, and once again, NADA. Dead.
I laughed, got out, called the dealer and then called the tow truck like it was no big deal. I felt like Norm from "Cheers" when I walked into the service department-
"Hey- you're back!!" Ugh. So I decided that this was it. Time for a new car. I spoke with a salesman, got to see a few cars, and I will be making my decision tomorrow. There is something wrong with the electrical and the guys would need to go through the wiring inch-by-inch to see what's wrong. In addition to this, the tires are very old, the car leaks when it rains, the back break light is out, and I never fixed those struts back in October. So, it's time to say good bye. I really wasn't in on the purchase of this vehicle. It was kind of foisted on me, so I never had any attachment to it. I will gladly leave it behind. I'm feeling good about making this decision on my own and what will be best for me and my kids.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Parental Pride

Well, this weekend was momentous. My daughter swims competitively for our town's YMCA team. This all kind of began quite innocently last fall (2009) when I signed her up for a simple 4 Friday swim clinic. She was ok, had a lot to learn, but she really enjoyed it. When she heard talk of the swim team, she asked if she could join, so I said, "Uh, sure, I guess." Before I knew it, she was practicing three days a week, racing on Saturdays (that's a fun exercise in scheduling!) and actually winning races and shaving times! She made it to the New England Championships at Harvard back in March as part of two relay teams and I officially became a swimming mom. She swam over the summer too, doing extremely well and even though she went to sleepaway camp for three weeks and didn't practice, ended up contributing 31 of 94 points for her first place winning team! So I have been up nights worrying about her progress this year and would she be as successful again. At her first meet, she qualified (for those New England Championships) in the 25yd. butterfly!! And this past weekend, she qualified for THREE more events (25yd. freestyle, 100yd. IM, 25yd. backstroke) AND she broke the YMCA record in that backstroke!! I was so hysterical, screaming and filming her that the families around me were giggling at me. She made me so proud, I was about to burst. Cliched, I know, but really, this was the high point of my miserable few months. Because I work on Saturdays, I really cannot attend home meets as they start at 9:00 am. Away meets are easier because they start in the afternoon and I can leave work early. I am so thankful I was able to see her achieve these milestones.
My son decided he wanted to play hockey! He plays Saturday and Sunday mornings at Wesleyan University. His dad takes him on Saturdays, but I still get up at 5:00am to get him ready. Sundays I get him up at 6:00am to get him to the arena by 7:00. His sister needs to come along since it's just me. I feel bad, but he goes to her meets so she's gotta go to his practices and games. Hockey is crazy expensive too! Here's a list of what he needs to wear: helmet with face guard, mouth guard, neck guard, shoulder/chest pads, elbow pads, pelvic protector, shin pads, shorts, shirt, gloves and skates. And all of this stuff has to go into a gigantic bag. So gigantic that he actually got in it and watched a movie in there! He's just starting but doing quite well! He's talking about trying out for the travel team. That should make for fun times around here! But I am one of only a select few moms that can say that "My kids go to Harvard and Wesleyan!"

Monday, December 6, 2010

Critters Part II

So I run out of the house. I don't want to be standing there like a dolt, holding the door as a squirrel potentially runs over my feet, so I run to a pine tree out front where my kids would play and swing off a rope. I grab the rope, then tie it around the screen door handle, open the door, and keep it open from about 10 feet away. And I start to whistle- "whoot, whoot, c'mere little squirrel! Come on, come out, whoot, whoot, come on" for the next HALF AN HOUR. Nothing. No squirrel, nothing is coming out. I hear my kids' school bus go down the main road, then 5 minutes later I hear it go back up towards the school. And this is March and it's kind of cold out and I have no coat. Now, remember, my kids are still in the bathroom, and oh crap, they didn't have breakfast!! GAH!! I try peering into the house, under the sofa, behind the table, I see nothing. Now, it's really time to go to school. I come back in, make a lot of noise, open the back deck sliding door, and tell the kids to just run out. I close it, make it to the kitchen, grab their backpacks and coats, and get outta there. I make it to school, and proceed to not be able to concentrate on anything because I'm imagining this squirrel chewing my curtains, gnawing into my sofa, hiding behind the coffee maker or in the pantry- a million possibilities are running through my mind. My one neighbor teaches at the school, so I casually ask her if she's busy later and would she mind helping me get rid of a squirrel?? She told me I should go home now and see what's up. I agreed, spoke to the principal and left. I proceeded to walk around outside my house, peering in every window possible to look for evidence. Nothing! No disturbances, no mess, but no sign of the squirrel either. Eventually it was time to get the kids, so I left. I come back and gingerly open the back kitchen door and creep in, glancing back and forth, looking all over for this thing. As I turn the corner past the cabinets and look left towards the TV, I see it. It is on the floor, at the bottom of the stairs, next to a basket of toys, face in, butt out, not moving. I grab the phone, inch out, and call the nice animal control guy. He shows up like 5 minutes later. I lead him back in the house, show him the body, and run out. He comes out and says, "Yup, that's it. It's dead." How lovely. This creature chose my home for its last moments and its final resting place. Bleh. The guy got his gloves, I gave him a plastic bag, he scooped it up, and left. What the hell was that all about?? To this day, I do not know when it got in, how long it was there, how it died, NO IDEA. I guess I can laugh about it now, but it sure wasn't a pleasant feeling.

I often find myself having to "MacGuyver" it out of situations because it's just me. You remember that show with they guy who could diffuse a bomb with a paper clip, mascara and dental floss? It's like that for me more often than you'd think.
"OK, OK, calm down, breathe, what am I gonna do??" Somehow it usually works out. Makes for funny stories too.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Critters in the House

I love my house. It's small, cozy, has an awesome fireplace and is kind of nestled in a small patch of woods. It also attracts the most diverse pack of creatures!! Here are the animals that have been spotted outside: deer, racoons, a red fox, ducks, wild turkeys, skunks, and a coyote along with the typical birds and squirrels.
Little did I know that one day, I'd have an uninvited guest in here. Back in March, I woke up to a strange scratching/rattling noise coming from downstairs. Now, my daughter is very arts oriented and my first thought was that she was there weaving a potholder on one of those metal looms. When I got up to go to the bathroom, I noticed that her door was closed. Huh- strange. As I was in the bathroom, I heard it again. I leaned out, looked in towards the living room and saw that the curtain was moving quickly back and forth. Something was behind it. A bird? A chipmunk?
GAH!!! My heart started to race, I felt blood rush into my head and I ran back into my room. I got dressed super fast, and went to wake up the kids. I told them we had a critter in the house, that everything would be ok, get dressed, and wait for me. As I went back into my room, I glanced down the stairs and there it was. A squirrel. Holy crap, there was a squirrel in my house. What the heck do you do? So I called my mom. She told me to call the police/animal control. I did, and the lady dispatcher laughed at me. Nice. But she did put me in touch with a nice guy from animal control who also giggled at me but told me, "It's more scared of you than you are of it, blah, blah." Yeah right. He told me to just open the door and that it would just go right out. Huh. So I got the kids into the bathroom, they got washed up, I asked my son to cover me like they do in the army and he's like- "No- you're on your own!" So, I ran down the stairs, made lots of noise, opened the door and then the screen door and made it outside. To be continued...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ukrainian School

Talk about a ten ton boulder. My desire for my children to speak another language, read it, write it, and take pride in their heritage is the biggest pain in the ass I have to deal with in my life. No joke. In my childhood, Ukie school was tough. The teachers were mean and boring, the building itself was a pretty lousy facility, and we had copious amounts of homework. Nowadays, it really isn't THAT bad.
And yet, getting my two to do their work is a nightmare. One has to memorize a little ditty every week (among other stuff), which is great for the brain, but not for me. The other one has to read pages of miniscule print about arcane and irrelevant topics and then answer questions. I know that the teacher reads with them in class, but when dealing with a foreign language, you have to read it yourself, obviously. We all have screaming matches, arguments, attitude, all of it, whenever I want them to do the work. And this doesn't even begin to cover the frustration of getting them to speak it in the home. When my older one was a toddler, his Ukrainian was beautiful! He spoke so maturely, so correctly, it made me so proud. Now, if I ask him to repeat what he said in English to me in Ukrainian, I get sighs, eye rolls, a reluctant repetition murmured under the breath. Sometimes, I get a "Never mind," which drives me INSANE, or I get a repetition in English with a snarky tone. Nice, huh? But the most disappointing of all, is that I married someone who is Ukrainian, like me, and spoke the language, but since the separation, has stopped speaking Ukrainian to his two children and it just kills me. Absolutely kills me. I think that he never expected me to use the language in the home with the intensity I wanted. So now that he is free, he doesn't have to partake in the continuation of the heritage. Glad he has a kozak tattoo.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's December. Yay.

I hate Christmas. There- I said it. Many people can't relate. "It's the most wonderful tiiiiime, of the year!!" Many actually enjoy shopping and decorating and cooking and baking and travelling. Not me. I hate it. I used to like it, back when I had money. I could casually go through catalogues, turning down the corners to remind myself what I would get for dad, mom, and my brother. I'd stroll through the mall and get almost anything I felt like getting. And I used to spend quite alot of money back then. Not anymore. Once you have children, the whole dynamic changes, and on top of that, when money is tight, it changes even more. I think that the worst part for me is hearing my kids start with their lists in October. "I want...I want...I want..." Is it the season of getting, or giving? I have tried to teach them about humility, and possibly lowering their expectations, but kids are so egotistical that it's quite challenging. Oh- let me correct myself- the WORST worst part is that my kids have FIVE, yes, FIVE celebrations where they receive gifts:

1. The Mykolajko (Christmas program) in Ukrainian school
2. My aunt's house where we have Christmas Eve Dinner
3. My parent's house where we celebrate the 25th
4. My house when we come back
5. Dad's house and the other grandmother's house for January 7th celebrations

Doesn't that make you want to cry?? Makes me sick. It's such overkill, but that's how it is. And the kids know how to milk it. But enough of that. Back to me. I hate doing the "Christmas Card." It is easier with the digital photo way of doing things, over the computer, but I gotta be honest, the sentiment isn't there. These last 2 years have been very difficult and emotional and I feel like a phony sending
"Warm Wishes for a Merry Christmas and a healthy and Happy New Year!" YAY!! Bleh.

How many of you moms have put up the Christmas Tree alone? Not decorated, but actually:
1. Bought it at Home Depot
2. Dragged it to the car
3. Put it on the roof or stuffed it in the trunk and hoped it didn't fall off or out
4. Dragged it in the house
5. Put it in the holder
6. Spent 2 hours on the floor under the tree trying to adjust it
Hmmm? Not my idea of fun. I'll decorate it, whatever, maybe one of the kids will help, "Get over here NOW! and help me do this! and have FUN, dammit!!" I don't even think of decorating the house inside. Outside I have a reindeer with lights and a few wreaths. I confess I love the icicle lights, but someone wasn't too thrilled to put them up back then and I sure as hell am not going on the roof anytime soon. I do like the Christmas Eve dinner with its Ukrainian traditions and customs, and a chance to spend time with family members I don't see often enough. But all that other stuff- I'd pass if it wouldn't let so many people down.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My fall blues

So this past fall has been one of the worst. A VERY close second to the fall when
HE left, but back then I was skinny and had a job! Technically this all started back in June when I was laid off along with about 80 other paraprofessionals in my kids' school system. I thought something would turn up, but it didn't. So after Wildwood, I started looking for work. And then my heating system/hot water heater died. Kaput. I found a great plumber who replaced (and modernized) it over the course of three days for a cost of several thousand dollars!! Fortunately, I am an extremely frugal woman, so I had the money saved for an emergency. Back to the job search- I had an interview, but the times of the job didn't work for me (kids' schedules!) and then I had another interview scheduled but the woman called me the morning of and cancelled so fast all I could do was stand there dumbfounded with the phone in my hand. Third time- bingo! I got a job working in a high school cafeteria. My experience at Vovcha was what sealed the deal for me! Lucky!! Wahoo-a high school cafeteria! Just where I wanted to be!! So, that job was ok, but it was 45 minutes away, 80 miles round trip, and it was KILLING both me and my car. I ended up quitting that job after about a month. I really wanted it to work, but I was a zombie. I even forgot to pay an electric bill- that has NEVER happened before.
My new heater started sputtering and making all these gurgling noises...So I called the plumber and when he came over to check on it it was pouring rain outside and my kitchen started flooding. From under the dishwasher. So literally, as the plumber is looking at my heater, I am wet-vaccing my floor. Thankfully he fixed the noises without too much fanfare. Next: My Car. It's about 10 years old and it started making this disconcerting rattling noise in the left front tire area whenever I hit a bump or a pothole or a driveway. I had it checked out, and it ended up taking two and a half hours at the dealer and would cost $1470 to fix. I passed on that- not enough money after the heating costs. That night, I finally checked one of my kids who had been scratching his/her head for weeks and, sure enough, I found lice. YAY!! Not knowing how to really deal with them, I did the shampoo, combed out the live ones, sent this child to school, and promptly had to bring this child home and pick out each and every nit, by hand, from the hair. I had never known about this. I proceeded to pick for a total of about 10 hours over the course of THREE days!! I had a breakdown early on day three. Like hyperventilating-crying breakdown. My child ended up comforting ME. On election day, I get in my car with the kids to go vote and the car wouldn't start. There was nothing there. No click, no beep, no lights, NOTHING. So we had to walk to vote and to the YMCA for swim practice. I had the car towed the next day to the dealer- the same day that I was registered for a job fair in East Hartford. My mom had to come up to help and take me to the fair. Nothing came of it, but my car needed a new starting fuse. For like $50!! YAY! Monday Nov. 15 I go to run some errands and notice that my back right tire seems very deflated. I gingerly make it to the place where I get my oil changed (somthing that I did myself EVERY SINGLE TIME these past 10 years- wink-wink..)and the nice Ecuadoran man says- "Oh, jou haf a nail een jour tire." Oh- great, a F***ing NAIL IN MY TIRE!!!!!!!!!!!! I go to TownFairTire and proceed to sit there for, yes, two and a half hours!! (That seems to be the time for waiting this fall!) For a patch!! Thankfully, that only cost $4.19. But I left there smelling like a freshly paved road. Now remember, in between all of this crap, there is American homework, Ukrainian homework, saxophone practice, hockey, swimming, "What's for dinner?", raking leaves, etc. I am totally exhausted, frustrated, and scared of my car. But at least I have hot water. Now I have to go clean my gutters so the impending storm doesn't flood me yet again. Huzzah!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hello, and welcome!

Hello, and welcome, to a new blog!! After taking some months to think about it, and after talking to some enthusiastic family members at my Thanksgiving dinner, I've decided to begin writing again. Obviously, it won't be about camp food. Hopefully, that day will come again next summer when I can go back and continue Vovcha Chow.
But since people were interested in what I had to say, and were entertained by how I said it, I figured I'd give it another shot. It may interest some of you, it may not. It may interest people you know- I'd love it if you spread the word!!

So, for all intents and purposes, I am a single mother. Whoa- I probably just lost half the readership! But hang on- there will be something here for lots of people! Because not only am I a single mother (and I hate that term!), I am a Ukrainian single mother who is unemployed and trying to figure out how to take her kids to hockey and swimming and Ukrainian school and Plast (scouts) and do homework and OK- enough italics.. practice the instruments and raise those kids to be good, polite, motivated and happy. Does that sound like you? Single or not? Or maybe you are a grandmother or grandfather to kids of a single mom? Or maybe your neighbor is one? Think about it. There are about 5 million single mother blogs out there (I googled it!) and I am adding to that, but maybe my take could be something new. So, welcome all, come on down to my blog, read it, laugh, don't laugh, think- let's see how it goes!