Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Labels & Identifications

Maggie week went.  I can't say for sure that it went well, or not.  It didn't go quickly, yet it is over. The cake pops turned out great after about the 4th batch when I finally perfected the method.  For anyone interested in that, please let me know, I'll be happy to share. I used the bake pop pans and they for me at least needed some adjusting to bake evenly.  Here's a pic of our final products on it's way to Maggie's class b-day party. And a pic of her cake for her party.
Her party's theme was "Monster High" hence Skullette on the cake. It was Red Velvet with Twinkie Frosting.  I got the frosting recipe from a friend and did NOT perfect the smoothing technique to my liking, but the flavor was awesome and Maggie loved it, which was the point.
See at our house you are allowed to choose the flavor of your cake, the design is up to the rest of us and you don't see it until the candles are lit and it's put in front of you.  I find that my daughters are challenging me more each year with their choice of flavors.  I'm raising foodie children.  Take the cake pops for example.  That was Maggie's choice for her school party.  Not cupcakes, not even the mini cupcakes in the pushpops I had made for the 4th of July and Halloween - are they already played out?? LOL Nope, Maggie had to be the 1st to have cake pops and boy was her class loving it.  "I saw those on TV" was shouted over and over again.  They had so much fun choosing which pop they wanted.  So great being around that much happy energy.  It really is invigorating. 

Energy is so powerful, don't you think?  The vibe of a room can affect you so quickly, usually a bad vibe works faster for some reason.  I don't know why. Ever walk in to a room and get a chill? Or the conversation just stops and the people sort of step apart from each other and you feel the need to fill that void with conversation?  (Or OCD about if they were speaking about you)You're changing the energy of the room or the situation.  We, as individuals have so much to energy ourselves it's amazing really. 
I titled this blog entry "Labels and Identifications".  Everywhere you go there are labels, to the right of this post, there's a link for me to label this.  (I'm so new at blogging I don't even know what that means, to label a blog post.) There are labels for everything, clothes, toys, shoes, people.   Labels apparently help us identify with these "items".  But who are YOU without a label, without your identity? I'm not speaking about a Jason Bourne thing here, suggesting pondering amnesia.  So don't go over to the nearest wall and bang your head 1000 times.  I'll start with my blog, I haven't been able to catagorize it because although I am a mom, it's not a Momblog. I am also a foodie, yet it's not that either. See what I mean? 
Who are you if you take away the labels you have put upon  yourself? If you say you are a parent then you are identifying yourself with your family, if you say you are a teacher, then you are identifying yourself with your career. But who are you? Who is your true self, your true face?  Do you realize we never actually see our true face?  Only other people do.  Even in a mirror or reflective surfaces, we see only what is reflected back, if the surface is dirty or smeared, curved or mishapen? What then? A photo? Just a moment captured in time.  Who you are, your identity is what you carry with you, your true face, your true self is what others see.  

Talking to one of the other parents the other day in the school yard I mentioned something about exercise and what struck me as funny was knowing that she'd have no clue that before I was the mom in a baseball cap and sweats standing in the rain waiting for my kid, I worked in the health field, in administration, but any one who works in administration can tell you they know a lot of stuff from typing all those reports! I was also a fitness freak, working out before work, walking over three miles during lunch hour, and so on.  She's known me for over 3 years, but she looked at me like I was nuts.  I'm still me, I haven't changed.  It's funny isn't it? She labeled me.  She labeled me a stay-at-home mom, which I am, but she didn't give me a past.    Hmmm, now come to think of it, what past had I given her?

The true you is always the same, but it's how you appear that changes.  If you detach yourself completely from all the things that you have identified yourself with, you realize yourself as the pure "I" and in that pure "I" there is no difference between you and me. 

1/25/12 ~
Well no wonder I never posted this - I can't seem to express what I'm trying to say quiet right.... oh well.  Maybe you can share a thought on this thread, see if you see what I'm seeing...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Streams of Consciences

I write in my head all the time, I've kept journals most of my life and for both my daughters since pregnancy, but blogging makes me nervous.  When writing in the journals, be it the girls' or my own, I know who I am writing to and how to direct my thoughts somewhat.  I never actually know 100%  how to direct my thoughts.  Blogging?  It's more like "Hey, how ya doing, here is my latest stream of consciences what do you think?"  Then just letting it go, putting it out there and having no idea exactly where it goes.  It's quite overwhelming when you think about it.
Lately, I find myself parodying John Denver's "Follow Me"... "..follow me where I go, what I do and who I know, read my blog and say you'll follow me...".   The fact that I haven't posted the link to my blog on Facebook or Twitter or sent it in e-mails  may explain my member-less status.  The idea of doing that = terror. I'm not writing to be judged, I'm writing for enjoyment, to get some of these thoughts out of my head, to make some room in there darn it, it's crowded! 

We have a big week coming up! Maggie's turning 7! I have lots of cake pops to bake and decorate and transport to the school - edge of our seats to see how I will do that right?  I mean, who knew I lived in a place where it would take me 1/2 a day and 10 stores to find Brie.  Brie!  So it should be interesting to see what I have to come up with to store these pops after I decorate them and how I'll transport them to her school.  There's her party on Saturday and trying to figure out how to entertain 13 little girls (and possibly some parents) for 3 hours in a small house.  Then there's the making of Christmas house in the mix as well. There's my struggle juggle for this week.  What's yours?
The enjoyment I spoke of, I want to share it, it's  not just for me, it's for you too.  Since this particular blog was super short and I know you now have John Denver's "Follow Me" in your head, I've saved you the time and posted the link here for your listening pleasure.  I've chosen a version where he is in Cork City Ireland - couldn't help myself.  It's Ireland after all.

....won't you read my blog and say you'll follow me? :)


Monday, November 21, 2011

"Offering What We Are"

Thanksgiving is only three days away and my kitchen is a mess of mini-pumpkin muffins for Siobhan's Pre-K celebration tomorrow and my trial run with 'bake pops'; I couldn't let the ones for Maggie's birthday party at school be my first attempt.  While baking I let my mind go play and it went off in several areas as it usually does, to the hysterical e-mail on auto correcting text messages my girlfriend sent yesterday, to my grocery list for our Thanksgiving meal, to the people that won't be sharing it with us this year for whatever reason and to Thanksgiving in general.  I love Thanksgiving, you might think that's a funny thing for a vegetarian to say, but I'm not talking about the food, which is a funny thing for a foodie to say.  What can I tell ya, I'm a funny gal.  Of course I love being creative (and OCD) about the decorating and the menu from appetizers to dessert.  But what I love most is the feeling of Thanksgiving, it's so warm and pretty.  The last we see of the Autumn colors before they're replaced by the colors of Christmas and all it's busy-ness.  It's quiet, it's humble.  A day for reflecting on what we have and being truly grateful for it with our whole hearts.  Please remember the soldiers as you say "Grace" those away from their families this year so they can protect yours and mine and their families celebrating without them at their tables.  It begins a time of offering.  We begin by offering thanks and continues from then right through the New Year.  What do you offer during this season?  Aside from offering your thanks on Thanksgiving that is.  Do you offer yourself in any other way?  Think about it,  you most likely do without even knowing it.  Just by being you are offering.  A smile to a passerby, holding the door open for someone and PLEASE tell me you do this, because there is a great lack of just plain old courtesy these days.  Maybe you gave to the food drive at church or school, or clothes?  My sister told me about this thing, for lack of a better word, (I know really - I couldn't think of a better word than thing?, pretty sad) where you give a gift to someone else for 29 days, there's a website and everything.  http://www.29gifts.org/
I haven't really looked at the website, but I have linked it here for the curious.  The idea is that for 29 consecutive days you give a gift to someone else, if you miss a day, you start all over.  Doesn't have to be a big gift, could be something small, but you have to conscientiously give it, acknowledging that it's your gift for the day.  The idea is that to change your life or make a change in your life you  have to begin the change and at the end of the 29 days I'd imagine there is some good karma waiting for you, what you created by giving of yourself.  29 days that's a long time, a lot of offerings.  I keep forgetting to give my gifts conscientiously, after I do something I think, "Oh, I could have started my 29 days today".  Then I think the best day would be the 1st day of the month, so you wouldn't have to really remember what day you were on because it'd match the day of the month and my usual OCD stuff like that.  A good place to start would be the website huh?

I read a poem the other night, it's by Rilke, one of my favorite poets and it's called "Offering What We Are".  It is what got me on this particular crazy train, which also took me to saying "I'm a walrus" from "Breakfast Club", which then got me singing The Beatles "I Am The Walrus" which then got me wondering about the "expert textpert" line and how it fits in with texting today and what did Lennon & McCartney mean by it, were they just trying to rhyme expert?  and and and I wonder why I don't sleep. Goo goo ga-joob.  For now, for me, it's time to figure out how to decorate these bake pops.  My husband's co-workers are going to love me - they get the results of my test kitchen. Only if the product is edible of course!

I cannot part from you without sharing Mr. Rilke's poem.

 Offering What We Are
 ~ Rainer M. Rilke

Oh, the places we would pour ourselves over,
pushing into the meager surfaces
all the impulses of our heart, our desire, our need.
To whom in the end do we offer ourselves?

To the stranger, who misunderstands us,
to the other, whom we never found,
to the servant, who could not free us,
to the winds of spring, which we could not hold,
and to silence, so easy to lose.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Is it 'just like riding a bike"?

I re-posted my old blogs from "Modern Mom" here, hoping that it would help me get back in to blogging.  I hope you'll read through them and decide it's worth your time to follow this blog. 

I have so much going on in my head it's hard to know which thought to extract and make into a blog.  Actually, what's hard is extracting a thought and making it sound cohesive and sane.  I can start with my blog name.  "The Struggle Juggle"  The Struggle Juggle is how I often refer to my life.  My juggling act currently consists of, but is subject to change without notice, (unless I manage to keep up with blogging and you keep up with me, then perhaps, notice you shall have) two whirling dervish daughters, a soon-to-be 7 year old and a 4 year old, my husband, a strange little calico kitty we rescued from our yard who loves to play catch with squinkies and the apocalypse house and all that name implies that we live in.  I don't believe you need to have any of those things in your life to relate to or to take pleasure in reading my blog.  Perhaps your juggling act is similar and we can ease eachother's burden from time to time with anecdotes, advice, cocktails, etc. etc. etc.  Or perhaps yours is completely different and you are juggling schoolwork, friends, work, a lovelife (what is that again?) and in that case, I'll just live vicariously through you while you laugh along with me, learn from my mistakes and move toward a future that contains as few struggles as possible.  In any event I hope you enjoy hanging out with me.

Now for my house name.  Since I grew up here and now my girls are growing up here, I've always felt that I should give the house a name, you know, like they do down South.  A nice, proud name, I never got around to it, because I never could land on a suitable name, then it named itself by falling apart.  'Apocalypse House". There is always something going on here and it's always something unexpected, out of the ordinary and extraordinarily costly.  The latter is a major problem being that I'm a stay-at-home mom and my husband is not Bill Gates.  I've been living in this house since I was born, with a short stay in an apartment for about 2 years when I first got married.  Then after my father passed away, we decided if we were going to live in some one's basement, might as well be my Mom's.  Good idea/bad idea?  Then when she wanted a place w/o so many stairs, we bought the house.  Good idea/bad idea? If you ever buy a house from a family member, my strongest advice would be to do it the same way you would if it weren't family.   We didn't.  No inspection, no nothing and BOY was that a mistake!  Also Mom just took what she needed and moved around the corner to her nice, neat apartment.  So we still have all her stuff from 30+ years of living here, plus all our stuff.  Lots of stuff.  Lots and lots of stuff.  We've already had two dumpsters and still could fill 2 or 3 more.  Upside - my girls are sleeping in the room I slept in and growing up in the house and the neighborhood I grew up in.  I just can't figure out how with four less people in the house and less furniture, how my house seems so much smaller than it did when I was growing up?  Unless it's cleaning time, then, then it's much bigger!  Speaking about cleaning, it's Friday - every Friday is Black Friday at our house.  The big black garbage bags come out and away we go!  Somehow though it's always here, the clutter and mess, sweep it up, it comes right back.  That's when I really miss having a dog, to eat up all the fallen crumbs, to play vacuum after every meal.  Maybe in the spring time we'll get that puppy we've been imagining. "Sick puppy" has taken on a new meaning at our house.  The girls want a dog, I do too to be quite honest and hubby does as well, though he's been kind of quiet on the whole thing.  (Mainly because he'd be out there tomorrow getting one if pushed just ever so slightly, so better to be quiet.) So, we've enacted a new house rule, we are trying to live as if we had a puppy.  If we find something on the floor that does not belong there and would in essence make a puppy sick should said puppy eat it, we call out "sick puppy!" and clean up the item.   Until we can maintain a clean floor - no puppy.
Looking around right now, it doesn't look good.  Oh girls! "Sick Puppy!" 
Plus a puppy would only add another struggle to juggle.........

There goes that one! (11/2009)

I returned a book to the library late yesterday. Now you don't know me, so you don't know how detrimental to my mental health this was. This had never happened before and I was darn proud of it too. I received the courtesy notice via e-mail that the book was due, however, in my mind the date was the 6th for some reason. So I was completely shocked when I returned a bunch of books on the 4th and was told I owed $0.10. What book was late? "By the Light of the Halloween Moon".  Maggie, my soon-to-be 5 year old, loves this story. She loved the DVD we rented from the library (of course) when she was 3. Last year, the library's copy played all the stories on the DVD except that one. So this year, we decided to dip into the funds (hahahahah - there are no funds to dip in to) and buy the DVD. Amazon wanted $35.99 for it. So off to e-bay hubby went. He's really good at the whole e-bay thing. He found a copy for $14.99, brand spanking new! So we pop it in and as I'm loading it I notice it says "for the hearing impaired". I think OK, maybe it's closed captioned or something - and a small part of my brain admittedly went to a SNL skit with Garrett Morris. We snuggle down to watch it hoping it's not too scary for Siobhan who seems to hate all things Halloween except for an episode of "Little Bear". And sure enough, yep, taking up half the screen is a woman doing sign language. You can't get rid of it, there's no menu option, it's just, well - there. The girls didn't mind though and actually remembered some signs they learned when I did baby sign language with them. This is the book I returned late.
I frequent the library a lot and if some one had to guess my taste based on my rentals, they'd be at a loss because they run from Hemingway to King. H-K is not far apart in the alphabet I know, but you get my point. But in all my years of being a lendee I've never been late. This factors in to my mental health how? It's like this. In my daily juggling of my struggles. The house that never seems to stay clean or clean itself - the nerve! The kids who adore each other one second and are screaming lunatics the next, hello referee stripes. My mother who is slowing slipping into some state of dementia. The pile of bills - ok that one is less only because we've gone green and they're simply online, not less in amount due however. You get the picture, you have your own juggling act. Well, I figured that when I finally lost it, went insane, etc. there'd be a quote from somebody, somewhere that would read "I never saw it coming, she never even had a late library book."
I used to have "She never even had a speeding ticket" in my arsenal too, but that went out the window on a small country road on the way to my sister's when Siobhan was screaming her head off because she wanted to nurse and Maggie was crying because the baby was crying AND because she had to use the potty and I was crying because I was about to be pulled over. The police officer couldn't have cared less because when he got to my car, the girls were all smiles - excited by the pretty pretty lights.
So what's left? I don't know! I guess I'll have to stay sane long enough to find something.

"Me" Time (11/2009)

I was given a gift ~ Time.Sorry I haven't figured out how to get more of it, go back or forwards in it, travel between it or stop it.I'm talking about "Me" time. This doesn't happen to me very often, so I keep a folder in one of the file cabinets in my brain full of ALL the things I want to do when such an occasion arises.
Read - Always at the top of the list, especially now with that library late fee on the books - if I'm reading a library book - OCD is in hyper drive."Gotta finish this book, can't be late, what if the one I put on hold comes in and I'm still reading this one? And that one is a new one, can't renew it, only have two weeks…."
Catch up on my shows - hubby doesn't like most of the shows I do, so the DVR is always holding something for me. Settle down, get comfy, maybe a visit from my now one and only pet - my kitty Groovy. (This time last year we had two cats, a fish and a dog. We've lost a lot in the last year, but this isn't about that.) Whoops - OCD again - What do I watch? Where should I sit, love-seat or couch? Do I need a snack? A drink? Depends on the weather, mood, moon phase - whatever. Ice cream, trail mix, wine, champagne, vodka, hot chocolate, granola bar, tea, vodka, coffee, vodka? But first I'd have to straighten up the living room.
Call my girlfriend? Who I haven't spoken to in what seems like forever because I need more than 5 minutes - I WANT more than 5 minutes. The one I've been putting off calling, no that's not the right phrase, the one I've been waiting to call when I had a quiet moment.A moment that doesn't involve screaming children in the background, that doesn't reveal by my tone of voice that I may have lost some sanity or some patience, but I haven't lost that pregnancy weight - from the first pregnancy - nearly 5 years ago.
Take a bath --- always a pleasure. Two for one on this one - bring the book - and some wine. A threesome - wait that didn't sound right. But first I'd have to clean the bathtub. Plus this is my escape when every one is home.

Write in the girls' journal. Both of them! I will bring both of them up to date! But first I'd have to choose a pen - choosing pen colors is big time for me. Which color did I write in last time? Am I using too much of one color? Do I need to put in some of my cut outs, which ones?

While I'm deciding what to do with all this me time I bring the laundry downstairs and sort it.While I'm down in the basement I remember that I promised Groovy I'd do her litter boxes. Yes I promised, and a promise is a promise. And yes, that was boxes plural because we used to have two kitties - Groovy's twin brother, Timmy. It'll be a year soon that he died and I just can't seem to bring myself to get rid of the other box. She actually uses both of them too, odd little minx. OK - litter boxes done. Might as well throw in a wash while I'm here and hang up the one that's in the washing machine. We don't have a dryer. Clarification - for semantic people - we HAVE a dryer, it just doesn't work, it broke over two years ago. So I hang the clothes up in the boiler room, which is fine in the winter, not so great in the summer. Can't hang them outside in the summer (or the winter, spring, fall) because the girls' have a play set out back - and even when they didn't - the line kept falling down. I don't know why it kept falling down on me; stayed there fine the 35 years my Mom used it when she owned the house. This is one of my struggles, laundry. I'm used to it. Heading back upstairs now, just need to bring the bag of litter outside to the garbage. I wave to my neighbor which reminds me that I need Olivio - I don't know why this reminds me I need Olivio - these things are completely unrelated. But I come back inside and search for my little notepad that I keep in my purse for my shopping list which takes me about 15 minutes to locate and write "Olivio". Then I try to think of what else I need and write a few things down, call hubby, ask him if he remembers what else we need, or if he needs anything. Then laugh hysterically at myself after I leave him a message - because he didn't answer - because he's not there, because HE HAS THE GIRLS TO GIVE ME SOME "ME" TIME!!!!!!!!!!!! This is just so hysterically funny to me that I have to call my sister Mare and tell her. She's the only other person on the planet that will laugh as hard as I do at myself. Since I have her on the phone, I ask her what I should do with all this free time. We decide that no matter what I decide, I need wine. Absolutely. A fabulous idea! Except…I don't have any.That's OK. I need those few things from the store anyway and the liquor store is just a few stores down from the grocery store and some fresh air will do me good too. I call my Mom to see if she needs anything from the store, she doesn't but it's a nice day, so she'll come for a walk. At the store, I look for my list and I don't have it. And not only that, I can't remember what was on it even though I just wrote it out 10 minutes ago. Great. Well, let's walk up and down the aisles maybe that'll spark something. Not feeling particularly sparkly, but I think I got most of the stuff - let's get that wine. Good. Great. Yum.
Got home, groceries away - except for the Olivio - because I forgot to buy it, because it was on the list that wasn't in my bag.
Open the bottle, pour my glass and sure enough you've guessed by now where this was all headed - in they come."Me" time turns into "Family" time just….like….. that. And that's just fine, plus now there's wine!

Daylight Savings of what now? (11/2009)

Daylight Savings Time doesn't save me any thing! Where did that hour go? My battle with sleep is exhausting, ongoing and, I'm guessing, destined to be unending. So turning the clocks back one hour - only has my beautiful little girls up an hour earlier. They see that it's light out and assume it's time to get up. They are all excited "Mommy!! Good Morning!! Good Morning Mommy!!! It's time to wake up!!" "No, not really, sweets, even if it was a school day, which it's NOT, you wouldn't have to be up this early - it's only 5:45 a.m." I reply through my pasted on smile. I try to settle them back them and actually, laughably thought I had - but, no, they're up and up for the day.
I know what you're thinking, there's my extra hour, right there, more time with my babies. But no, no. We get up, Daddy too - head down for breakfast. I invent yet another way to get Siobhan, my 2 year old, to eat her eggs. "I called Dunkin Donuts, this is how they make their eggs, I made them just the same way, try them!" She only eats her toast. Funny. Because if they had been Dunkin Donuts eggs off the Croissanwhich, she'd eat them, but not the croissant. I've used food coloring to make eggs, blue, pink, red, green, orange. Made shapes, flowers, butterflies, hearts. Nothing. Nada. No go on the eggs. Can she still have a spider cupcake? Eh, I hate these decisions. Don't eat your breakfast, can't have a cupcake. Now, we're not normally a cupcake household, but it was the day after our little Halloween party and there were leftover cupcakes and they were awfully cute - and I did make them low-fat and healthier, before icing them and adding truffle spiders with M&M eyes and pretzels dipped in chocolate legs of course, because that makes perfect sense.
Bath time! Into the tub they go and me into the shower. Our old house - the one I grew up in incidentally - has a separate bath and shower, so I get to shower while they bathe. Get dressed and wait for Papa - we're headed to the beach to fly our kite. It was at the beach when I realized the poor choice of bath time....
Home for naptime, laundry, pick up Mom to go vote, got to vote, it's our civic duty after all - stand behind the winner, even if it wasn't your choice. Hard sometimes, but it makes for a better country in the long run. I'm no politico, that's my simple statement.
Run some errands, make dinner, sit down for dinner. Clean up after dinner. Take down the Halloween decorations. Get the kids ready for bed - which now involves another bath thanks to some sandy hair.
Get clothes out for school tomorrow and hubby's work clothes. Check that the cat has food. Settle the house for the night and get into bed.
Now, where did I put that extra hour?