Monday, December 28, 2009


Oh lord!  What happened to my clean, peaceful, loving home?  Tension on the home front is palatable.  With both daughters home for an extended period of time, the walls are beginning to close in on me.  Is it possible that I got use to the space so quickly?

As I examine the root of the problem, I’ve come to a very simple conclusion.  Kids who leave home for the first time get use to their independence.  They think that all this “wisdom” acquired in the FOUR months they’ve been gone, entitles them to come and go as they please, not help out around the house, and look at the parent units as aliens from somewhere unknown to humankind.  Geez, would it be that painful to at least pretend that life is pretty darned sweet around here?

She was doing so well too.  She was communicating openly and expertly.  Our phone conversations, texts and emails felt meaningful.  There was no second-guessing or reading between the lines.  She shared her dreams, goals and what was going on in her life and we loved it.  What happened?  It may be possible that we are better with each other when we are not living together and that is a painful possibility.  It makes me sad.  I hope it’s not the case. 

And then there are those fleeting moments of sanity, a smile perhaps, or sitting down and watching a movie with us. These moments I silently thank my lucky stars that underneath the angst she still connects with us.

Here is what I think will happen because we are not the first family to go through this transition.  As she matures she will actually want to come and spend time with us.  Our conversations will be meaningful.  There will be sweetness in her disposition as she openly recognizes the blessings around her.  She may even see beyond her own needs and say, “oh, can I help with that”?  Better yet, she will just do without asking.  I know this to be true.  I did it.  My husband did it.  My oldest daughter is doing it. 

So, the youngest will get on board too.  That is if we don’t lose it and tear into each other in the meantime.  I’m waiting.  

Sunday, December 20, 2009


“You all weed pooty good!”  With a missing finger on his right hand, that’s what my Italian teacher, Mr. Paeri (pronounced pie air ee) would point and say after we would take turns reading from the text.  Truth was, we could read pretty good, but only understood about half of what we were reading.  At least that was true for me, one of the eager students in his Intermediate /Advanced conversation class. 

Mr. Paeri had been teaching for 50 years and by teaching standards, he was very old fashioned. Every class we’d begin reciting numbers, days, months, years, and seasons.  His reasoning? To warm up our lips to “pronounce” the words correctly. Every time he lumbered to the white board, he would use a faded red marker that strained the eyes of his more mature students, me included.  No technology in this class, just good old fashioned, teacher directed, auditory learnin’! I liked that.

Mr. Paeri was incredibly patient with us, gently correcting the improper word order or lack of noun verb agreement our brains just couldn’t seem to grasp.  Rarely would he cringe when la bella lingua was butchered by the most incredibly offensive mispronunciations!  Honestly, I wouldn’t have blamed him if he high tailed it out of the classroom to get his ears away from the cacophony of sounds that seemed offensive even to my untrained ears. Even though the class was from 7 to 10 pm on Thursday nights, I wanted to go just to hear Mr. Paeri speak and attempt to improve my rudimentary Italian.

One of our assignments was to put together a little presentation in Italian and speak in front of the entire class.  I chose to talk about a recent trip to New York complete with a slideshow of photos projected on a big screen. Teachers do not make great students and that includes me.  I signed up to present last, extending the time I needed to prepare.  And I cheated!  I just couldn’t bear not having a wonderful presentation, so I used Google translator.  Truth is I probably spent more time correcting the translator than it would have taken to write the darned thing myself.  Judging by his smile and slight nods of the head, it went ok

I enjoyed the teacher, students and class so much that I signed up for the next semester’s class with Mr. Paeri.  Much to my dismay, however, it was canceled and to this day and I do not know why.  But a visit from Italian friends and a return to the country where my husband spent half of three years, motivated me to continue.

I now have a private tutor, my husband, Gary!  There are advantages to having a mate who gives you a break on tutoring fees.  We ordered a very expensive set of cd’s to listen to on the way to work each morning.  Starting with the intermediate series, I felt “pooty good”.  Gary pleased with my progress, then ordered the advanced set of cds.  Here is where I hit a bit of a roadblock that could test the most solid of marriages.  But I continue to muddle through. Gary, in his ever-patient style has endured listening to me trying to translate in English, respond in Italian, and predict what’s coming up next, all while he must concentrate on his driving during the early morning commute.  

More than once I’ve been known to throw up a hand shushing and scolding him to silence so I can concentrate. He’s not complained once when I’ve asked him to pause the cd, rewind the cd, repeat the command or grill him on phrases that made absolutely no sense to me.  Phrases like “would you like to TAKE a cup of coffee with me?” Yet there are expressions that make me feel so genteel, like “how kind on your part!” I’ve spent many a minute mouthing those beautiful words, E gentile di parte tua, fantasizing when I may actually get to use them. 

At this age, I am no longer an ideal student. But, it’s fun and challenging to learn new things, especially when there is no concern about the grade.  And beyond the learning I have the utmost respect for teachers who have their own set of challenges to endure, trying to teach well meaning, linguistically challenged students like me.    

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Beer, A Burrito and A Bit of Comedy!

Nearly comatose!  That’s my state of being on Friday nights.  It used to be that I’d come home, cook, attend a sporting event and collapse into bed, ignoring my bodies signals to recover from a long week of work and attending to house, errands, yard, laundry and family.  No complaints, here, just stating the facts. I loved going to games and watching our kids and their friends do what kids do, even when fatigue made me resemble a glazed Stepford wife at times.  It was fun because I knew these kids and had watched them grow up.

So, when my ever-energetic husband asked me to attend the local football playoffs the last couple of weeks, I gladly declined the invitation.  Why oh why in the world would I want to move my behind out of the well worn cushy couch, to freeze it while watching kids I don’t know get pounded by other kids I don’t know, all the while trying to move an oddly shaped ball, yard by excruciatingly boring yard, down a field behind a goal line?  No can do.

My new Friday night tonic to reward myself from a productive week of work and attending to the house, yard, errands, laundry and family: a beer, a burrito and a bit of comedy.  Heaven.  My brain is bathed in just the perfect amount of dopamine to put me in a very relaxing, mildly serene state.  Nothing bothers me. No more Stepford wife, just one happy, glowing working mom, who chuckles at the silly recorded shows, enjoys not having to prepare dinner for four and can roll into bed any time I darned well please.  Sound euphoric? 

The last few years, I couldn’t imagine life on Friday nights without kids to attend to. I thought I would miss the action.  This phase of life is not without adventure.  I couldn’t live happily without that.  But Friday nights now have become sacred. It’s sweet to be able to choose what to do without selfish guilt:  cook dinner, order out?  watch TV or read? go to local game, stay home? bed at 9, bed at 11? Last night choice, order out, TV, home, bed at 11!

Here it is, Saturday morning, I’m well rested and ready for an adventure!

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Curfew Conflict!

Apparently, we’ve succeeded in making home not too comfortable based on the blow up we had about curfew.  Our oldest daughter has been used to the time deemed appropriate by us for the 4 years she’s been away.  She accepts it and doesn’t give it much thought. In fact, she’s usually home before curfew. For our youngest, however, it’s a rule she is not happy to buy into, since she is, after all,  “18 and no longer living at home.”

Her arguments do have some degree of logic as she tells us that she comes and goes whenever she pleases at college.  I know freshman in particular stay out late and sleep in on days they don’t have early morning classes. It is liberating for sure to be able to make these decisions on your own.  I remember that and understand that.  Not that I like the idea though.
Reasoning with her is simply selfish.  I want to sleep and now that I’m used to sleep again, I want to keep it that way. 

All through high school, I slept with one eye open on the nights my kids went out.  They were both so terrific about getting home on time, but I still worried.  Worried about the car breaking down. Worried about an accident. Worried about drunk drivers on the road. Worried, worried, worried. 

I came to love the squeak of the door as they entered the house.  I’d roll over and say a silent prayer of thanks.  And then I’d drift off to sleep.  So when 15 minutes passed curfew rolled around the other night, I began to fret.  My imagination knows no bounds and I couldn’t temper it enough to settle me. Not willing to give up more than 20 minutes of precious sleep, I reluctantly called her blessed cell phone. The frenzied dialogue went something like this.
Mom, “Where are you?” 
Daughter, “Coming”. 
Mom, “Why are you answering the phone while you’re driving?”
Daughter, “Because you called.”
Mom, “Don’t answer the phone while you’re driving."
Daughter, “But you called.”
Mom, “Hang up.”
Daughter, “Okay.”
Door squeaks 30 minutes passed curfew and daughter implores that she didn’t know that the rules still apply.  Wow, imagine a home without rules, but I roll over return to a fitful sleep dreading the impending argument in the morning.  I know my daughter well and we will not get through this without a dose of attitude.

And it was an argument reminiscent of those in high school; daughter aggressively defending her point of view and parents desperately trying to understand the illogic of her reasoning.  The conversation broke down early on and morphed into something about the lack of trust.  Truthfully, trust was the last thing on my mind as sleep deprivation was beginning to make me sound as irrational as her.  We did not progress as I had hoped and we all pouted and sulked our way around the house, disappointed in the tension.

In the end, it took about 24 hours to pull us all out of the abyss.  But pull out of it we did.  No longer willing to let any more time pass, we agreed to a fair compromise, a thirty minutes extension if needed.  I can live with that. 

So first visit back was not without drama.  But then again how boring would life be with perfection!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Due to a quirk in their schedules and no thanks to the California budget crisis and mandatory furloughs, our daughter’s are coming home together for an extended Thanksgiving vacation. Any minute now they will come bursting through the door.  I can just see it, bags and laundry dropped in entry way as dog jumps from one to the other lapping up the love.  We’ll have to elbow our way to each with hugs and kisses, taking turns not to attend to one daughter more than the other.  It’s been months since they’ve both been home let alone home together.  I can’t wait.

I’ve prepared their favorite fall squash ginger soup.  There are fresh sheets on their beds and new candles on the nightstands each with it’s own unique scent.  I don’t know about boys, but girls love these touches and I wanted them to come home to a warm environment.  I guess I want them to want to come home and will put forth the extra effort to entice them.  I’m thinking that they don’t really need enticing, but just in case….

The trick now is to not make it so comfortable that they’ll want to stay, although sometimes I’m tempted to do that.  Away is where they should be.  We knew that going in to this parenting gig, but sometimes it’s still so very difficult to comprehend that they may never live here full time again. 

It seems so abrupt.  Eighteen comes around and off they go, on to learning life on their own, without our 24/7 guidance.  I’ve noticed that since our daughters have left, our guidance is now sought rather than shunned. That’s a nice feeling.   But one does wonder how the influence of the diverse group of kids they now live with impacts their development.

I think perhaps it’s better if I just focus on this visit.  Focus on our ever- increasing changing relationships, relationships that already feel much deeper, more mature and simply sweet.  

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pond Scum

I have this morbid fascination with the algae growing in my backyard pond.  It creates the most intricate lacey patterns beneath the surface of the water.  It clings to fallen twigs, rocks that border the edges. When tugged at it ever so gently, the scum tugs back.  I delight in spending a few minutes on a warm, or lately chilly Saturday afternoon, with my hands in the cool water watching my fingers move like a weaver trying to remove as much as possible before the turbidity of the water makes it difficult to see what lurks below the surface.  The task, clear the pond of this green, slimy, invasive form of life before it takes on a life of its own ruining the beauty of the water.  Oh, such problems!

Perhaps it’s too much time and not the pond scum that I have on my hands these days.  

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Living With A Monster Mutt!

Cesar ( the dog whisperer) would be more than disappointed in us as dog owners, he would be downright disgusted.  This 24-pound mutt of ours can be a little monster and we have been shamed by her behavior on a number of occasions.   She’s long on tricks for sure, but short on obedience.  She jumps on us, sleeps on our bed between us, under the covers with her head on the pillow!  She doesn’t come when we call her.  In order to get her to come in the house, we have to yell, “I’m getting the hose”.  And the joy of taking her to the park and watching her run like the wind is over.  She has bullied too many dogs and we just can’t take the non-verbal, evil stares by other dog owners any longer.  More than once, we’ve slinked out with our own tails between our legs.

Not that we haven’t tried to get her to obey.  When we adopted her as a 3-month-old puppy, we read books, watched shows, and went to doggie training school.  We tried the exercise, discipline and then the love approach as recommended by the experts. But, she has consistently out smarted us.  Her dominance is evident in the way she perches on top of the back to the couch like a cat!  On the back! What dog does that? 

We may have the only dog in Petaluma that was kicked out of the “doggie country club” 5 minutes after dropping her off.  Apparently she had “separation anxiety” and was trying to jump the 10-foot fence, leaving us only hours to find someone to watch her before we left for vacation.

But, we love her despite all the frustrations.  She cuddles, will only look in her dish to eat when we give her permission.  She plays “baseball” by tagging the bases, rolls over and runs around the house like a crazy dog which cracks us up every time.  The cute little tail of hers wags no other whenever she is near us.  What unabashed enthusiasm. 

So, when we weigh the troubles and the joys, it’s obvious that she’s worth it. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day in the Life of a Teacher!

There is no such thing as a boring day working with teens.  The pace is frenetic.  The moods are mercurial. The net energy output can be exhausting. But 12 and 13 year olds come up with the funniest things that never fail to make me laugh.  Some examples of recent exchanges:
“I can’t find my assignment or my book.  My dad was Feng Shuing our house.  Again!”

With 2 days left to go in the quarter.  “How can I raise my grade?”  Teacher’s reply, “I’ll tell you how you can raise your grade.  Find a time machine and go back a couple of months and redo everything.”  Even student thought this was funny.

“If I get an A in your class, my mom promises me a hamster.” 

Day after day, after day, over and over and over again these questions are asked, usually by the same kids. “Can I go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, go to the office?”

“Did I miss anything when I was absent?” huh?

“I just want to let you know, I will not be here next Thursday. Will I miss anything?”

When asked why aren’t you starting your work? “I’ll do it with my tutor.”

When asked, why didn’t you do your homework? “I was too busy.”

When asked, what were you doing? “Playing computer games.” Nice.

And my personal favorite from a very bright 7th grader to a very bright and distinguished teacher (not me):

            “You have nothing to teach me!”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Egg Salad Sandwich

I don’t know when my husband began to make our daily lunches, but I do love it.    The sandwich reminded me of my dad and an incident that happened two years ago.

My father lied to me on the day he died. 

That day was cannibalized by chores. Chores, which I unenthusiastically ticked off one right after another. Chores, which included emptying the urinal, tending to his bills, running errands.  Chores requiring me to deal with the bureaucracy of the Vets, wasting precious time trying get someone, ANYONE please, to listen to me. And this was all before noon. Any caretaker understands the patience required to help a loved one who is ill.  I would not make a good nurse.

 I did feel useful cooking, however, although getting my dad to eat proved challenging, but I persisted.

This particular Thursday, I made my dad an egg salad sandwich for lunch.  Naturally, he wasn’t hungry and wouldn’t touch it.   I tried to coax him to eat, telling him I loaded it up with salt, but he couldn’t be bothered. Imagine feeding an ailing man with hypertension, salt! His standard response, “I’ll eat it later”.  My reply, “The eggs are fresh, dad.” Again he repeated for me to put it in the cooler by his bed and he would eat it along with the fruit platter for dinner. I continued with the chores.

That day it was my brother’s turn to stay with dad. So, I wrote a note to my brother instructing him what had been done and what still needed to be done including a directive on getting dad to eat the sandwich. I reluctantly left with the image of dad lying on his bed, egg salad sandwich an arms length away.  After a two-hour drive, I came home to a family who welcomed me home, concerned about grandpa.  I carried on at home, doing all the things moms do on any given day.

It is amazing to me that my dad mustered the strength to call me soon after I returned home, but I was thrilled and encouraged.  He asked about my drive, Gary, the girls.  I asked him if he ate the sandwich. Yes, the fruit and the sandwich was eaten, thank you very much. Good, I felt better and useful, end of subject.
Dad’s voice sounded pretty strong, better than when I left him hours earlier.  We talked for a few minutes more and ended that memorable conversation with an I love you. 

The next call came at two in the morning.  In a rare moment of tears and panic, my brother told me dad had just died and he didn’t know what to do.  After calming him down, I promised him to do nothing and I would be there in two hours.  I threw my luggage, still unpacked, back in the car and with the blessing of my family made the 2-hour trek back to my dads.

 It was now four in the morning and I had time in the car to revisit the events of the day: the urinal, Vets, progress with Meals on Wheels, the sound of dad’s voice when he told me he loved me.

 I was pleased to see dad’s house aglow with lights when I pulled into the parking slot in front of his house.  Entering his room, there he was peacefully positioned on his bed by my brother.  With candles lit and the house quiet, I noticed the cooler still within reach. This time near an arm that would never again reach out for it. I walked over to the cooler and lifted the lid.  There in all of its tasty, salty glory was the egg salad sandwich and the fruit platter.  At least dad didn’t lie to me about his love.  The egg salad was proof of that.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A 24 Hour Visit!

The best part of my weekend was the walk.  It was her idea.  I hadn’t seen her in almost 2 months, 7 weeks longer than any other separation we had ever had.  It was worth the wait.

Our visit was easy, effortless as the conversation flowed from one topic to the next.  I was mostly listening, only occasionally interjecting a question or a comment.  What impressed me most was the ease at which she has made this transition.  I could tell that at times she is uncomfortable, but ok with that.  She expounded on her values, how she was raised and how grateful she is for her family.  Wow, to hear this and not wonder what the ulterior motive is was a first.

I soaked up every word because I knew the visit would be brief.  I heard about weather patterns, a child’s developing brain, World War II.  This is not the first daughter to enlighten me with her learning.  After the walk, dinner. I enjoyed preparing her favorite meal, pasta with fresh garden tomatoes. After dinner she had to study. Study?  Fantastic!  Just knowing she was tucked away in her bedroom reading delighted me. 

The next morning she was whisked off to the 49er game, her dad’s turn to enjoy her presence.  He too was intoxicated with happiness.  Not that we’ve been mourning the emptiness or change.  In fact, we’ve reveled in it.  Couldn’t be better in fact.  And here’s why, both our girls are happy.  They are productive.  They are independent.  And they are at the cusp of such potential. 

And so am I.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mothering Mothers

My mother has Alzheimer’s.  There, I said it.  Rarely do I state those words so directly.  It pains me to say it, but it feels good not to deny it.  I’ve been struggling with this for about 4 years now.  In the beginning there were only subtle clues to the interference in her brain.  She always seemed a tad overwhelmed.  She was making careless decisions about finances.  She was less confident.  And I ignored them, blaming it on her thyroid. 

Once diagnosed, true to my nature, I (and my family) took action.  She retired, moved, lost her drivers license all in a matter of months.  I began the laborious, but loving tasks of helping her set up her household, just as she did for me when I was a young adult.  We inventoried the grocery supply, we created a budget and took over the payment of her bills. Together, we practiced how to operate a new stove in her cottage. I employed family and friends to help with errands, shopping and doctors appointments. 

As the disease progressed, more hands on help became glaringly apparent.  She could no longer take the City bus.  The doctor office messages became more confusing to her. Once an outstanding cook, the complex task of reading a recipe proved too frustrating. Cooking morphed into heating food in the microwave minute by automatic minute.  For her, pushing the time button on the appliance followed by the five, zero, zero, start was just too difficult. 

But, oh the stories!  She remembered them well and delighted me and my girls in her typically understated description of her unusual childhood.  These stories I couldn’t get enough of.  It was not hard to coax her in a conversation of the past, as the conversation about a recent meal was long forgotten.  Her most favorite topic of conversation was her grandchildren, my daughters and nephews. She thinks they are all perfect as only a grandmother could.  Repeatedly she’ll ask, when will they be home next?  I ask that too. 

So this weekend, as we worked side by side in the garden, she delighted me in stories of her youth. We gossiped about the grandkids.  And she shed more light on her relationship with her own mom.  She made me laugh as I tried to fill in the gaps of the words she was trying to recall. Laugh at the absurdity of her mother’s lack of loving parenting. Smile at how she still loves her mom despite her mom’s coolness. Wonder at the care with which she still can muster up the wisdom to accept how things are in life and make peace with it, even though all the circuits aren’t firing properly.

As much as I think that I am mothering my mother, she has much to teach me.  

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Taking Time To Relax:

Up until today, I’ve been so busy that I’ve hardly had time to miss my girls.  Most likely strategic on my part as I’ve organized some event or said yes to every invitation imaginable.  So after a lovely morning enjoying coffe and a visit with a dear friend, I came home to an empty house.  It was also a clean house.  And a quiet house. What was I to do? 

Honestly, I was at a loss.  Poking around in the yard in 90 degree heat lasted about 2 minutes.  Ok, I’ll prepare for dinner early.  Marinating the salmon took 5 minutes.  I finished my book, done in 10.   The orchids needed attention.  Lab reports needed correcting. Finding chores for chores sake was becoming downright silly.

Then it hit me, stop fighting it.  Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.  So that is what I did.  I sat in the well worn, but comfy recliner, under the fan and just reveled in the boredom.  Was tempted to text daughters, but held back.  Thought of starting a new book, but decided to wait a bit longer.  Torture. 

I forced myself to just be still. When was the last time I did that as a working mom? I did notice something unusual, my mind did start to settle down.  My heart rate slowed and I cooled off.  Sounds like meditating and my eyes weren’t even closed. 

The seconds ticked by and became minutes.  I think I remained in this inert state for around 30 minutes, a lifetime in the life of an insect!  I did it though. 

Next weekend, chores.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


When the kids were little, they sold gift-wrap for their elementary school.  Our family bought it, our neighbors bought it, our friends bought it and we bought it.  I didn’t need gift-wrap then and I don’t need it now.  Partly we bought it to support the schools.  But mostly we bought it to support them and watch the excitement that each new order generated. 

Our school secretary, Mary was our best customer.  Never did she wince when we came around with the order form. She’d happily leaf through the selections, carefully selecting pretty paper for the holidays.  After years of this, she’d sometimes ask us, "shouldn’t the girls be selling the gift-wrap by now?"  The girls were thrilled with her orders as she usually put them over the next tier of “prizes” they could accumulate.  “Prizes” that we’d end up recycling before the years end. 

Thursday our doorbell rings.  It is our little neighbor coming around selling paper for the same school our kids attended.  I thought of Mary and her unconditional support.  He came in and the two of us sat under the family room fan looking through the paper that probably is not environmentally friendly, but nevertheless beautiful.  How could I say no?

After getting an update on the status of the teachers at the school and visiting with this little 4th grader, I placed my order.  Watching him mentally calculate the prizes with this new order brought back sweet memories of my girls. 

It will be years before this little neighbor and his brother stop coming by to sell gift-wrap.  And, it will be years that delight me as I go back in time to revisit these sweet memories of the innocence of youth.  Thursday, I was Mary.

Monday, September 14, 2009


Our family loves the Giants.  We’re obsessed.  Well, they’re obsessed.  When the kids were at home, Gary use to alternate taking the girls to the games, so I would attend about every 3rd one.  The routine was similar each time.  If it was a night game, dinner was enjoyed at Delancy Street before the first pitch.  Our seats, down right field line and up about 4 rows provided the perfect view of the alternating teams relief pitchers.  It was frowned upon to leave before the top of the ninth inning.  And the post game show with Kruk and Kuip was a must.
When the Giants were away the game was enjoyed on a sizable flat screen TV, while one or both daughters would enjoy the “massage deal”.  Daughter gets 10 minutes; dad gets 10 minutes, repeat.  Sometimes I would hear shouting from the other room.  Shouting at the Giants, railing against the opposing team or arguing about the merits of a certain player.  Crushes on players, fights about who was or wasn’t on steroids and the status of Barry Bonds when he playing was always a topic of disagreement in this house of ours.
So, now that it’s just the two of us, it is me filling in the space opened up with both kids gone.  I’m the one who is going to the games.  I’m the one who insists upon listening to the post game show.  I am sitting here right now watching Lincecum pitch after some time off.  It’s fun.  And what I’m really enjoying on the nights we don’t have tickets, the “massage deal”.  Yeah, I guess we’re all obsessed after all.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


The day after we took our daughter to college, we hosted a card party here for 12 people.  That meant cleaning the house, tidying the yard, preparing the food for the 6:30 arrival of our guest.  Having company was a wonderful distraction on our first day home without kids.  All went well.  The weather was warm, dinner was wonderful, the competition intense as we complained of bad cards, crazy bids and strategic faux pas’.  The laughter was cathartic.  Only minutes after the last guest left, off went the electricity!  For some unknown reason, it went out in the entire neighborhood.  Feeling completely spent and without juice, both figuratively and literally, off we went out doors.  Quilt on ground, bodies on quilt, we stargazed and said little, each absorbed in our own private thoughts and I’m sure silent prayers.  Forty-five minutes later, on came the electricity and restored energy for both of us.  The symbolism did not get by us as we began to prepare for the second night alone.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Going, going, gone!

Our last night together was sweet. We packed the car, ate dinner together, and watched the Giants in what was the most boring game of the year.  Giants lost. Before bed, in an uncharacteristic show of emotion, we heard how her dad’s humor was what she’ll keep close to her heart while away.  She actually said, “close to my heart”. Wow! For me, it was my kindness.  I like that.  Upon exiting our room, she turns and tells us that we have been very fair in our parenting.  Well, that was good to hear. It was a sweet night and it made it even harder to pass her along.  As our bedroom door closed, the tears came. I slept well.

The next morning the drive was uneventful, although back to her true nature she proclaimed we were not to take photos once at the dorms. Entire family in tow, we moved her in, helped her unpack, set her up, hooked up all necessary equipment and spent the day getting things done, including shopping for cords and a pillow that she forgot to pack. Arg! We walked for what seemed to be miles on campus in search of the bookstore and gym. 

By the time we said goodbye, we were too tired for any kind of sentimental goodbyes.  A solid hug and kiss and several I love yous would have to sustain us for the time being.  The drive home was quiet. 

Our first night by ourselves, we heated a frozen pizza, made a drink and watched the Giants.  Giants won.  It was a sweet first night.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


The roommate has been selected.  Let the texting begin.  Quite different from the college days of yesteryear when one didn’t find out who would be sharing living space until move in day.  So far the girls seem excited and appear to have a lot in common.  Who will bring the frig and who will bring the microwave got cleared up early on.  The conversations have progressed naturally from high school, to sports, to boyfriends. 

What thrills me is the potential.  Will these two who were thrown rather randomly together get along?  Will they build memories? Will they be there for each other in times of distress? Will this young woman become a life long friend of my daughter’s?  I hope so as I just spent the weekend with my college roommates and friends.  From boyfriends, to careers, marriages, children and now the illnesses or deaths of our own parents, we are here for each other.  We’ve soothed, counseled, cried and laughed with each other.  We’ve grown up together and it’s lovely.   I can’t imagine life without them. 

Time will tell if this new relationship for my daughter will endure.  The anticipation for that first meeting is exciting.  The possibilities for the future are profound.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What is in a name?

O E F as in frank , I N G E R.  This is what we say EVERY time we are asked to spell our last name.  Took me some getting used to, as my maiden name is Curtis, easy, simple,  very common but not too interesting either.  We have been called O finger, F finger, D finger, and an often very difficult to understand mumbling pronunciation from well meaning Safeway clerks.  It never annoyed me when the name was mispronounced.  It has, however, annoyed our daughter.  It has annoyed her to the point of her informing us years ago that she would change it when she was 18.  Whenever possible she would intercept a teacher before her name was called on the first day of school instructing them on the correct pronunciation.  In fact, one teacher could never get his head around the silent E in the OE combination and during roll call simply called….Alyssa, while the other students were on the last name basis. We would argue with her about this silly insecurity.  We even sought therapy around it concerned if it was a deep seeded need to not claim us as family?  She pleaded with us not to over analyze.  She loved us.  She loved our family. She simply did not want to go through life constantly correcting people.  The conversations around this were exhausting.  Finally, we gave up.  Told her if she wanted to do it, she was on her own.  We would not invest one cent or one minute of time into this name thing change.

 Good to her word, come 18th birthday, she began the process.  She saved her money, researched, called, emailed, then applied for the change, spoke to her college, informed her high school of the change, DMV, social security, bank, friends, family and others.  It was not an easy process and she did do it all on her own, knowing better than to ask us for help.  Today it’s official this new last name of hers. Thankfully, she only changed 2 letters, perhaps in an effort to temper her mom and dads insecurities.  So, I can look at it as rebellious.  I can look at it as silly.  I can look at it as an insult to our family.  Or, I can look for the truth, a strong, fiercely independent young woman who knows what she wants and will go after it.  These latter qualities will serve her well.  

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Making Progress---Until:

We have a pretty darned good partnership going on here.  After reading my call for help blog, Gary, took the bull by the horns and propelled us forward.  Bedding purchased, locks acquired, payment installments made, our to do list is beginning to shrink.  My satisfaction of feeling a bit more in control quickly waned when our daughter showing me her proposed daily schedule hour by hour went something like this:


7:30 - 8:30 get up and exercise

8:30  - 10:30 shower and breakfast

10:30 – 11:00 head for class

11:00 – 4:00 classes

4:00 -6:00 back to dorms, relax and dinner

6:00 to 8:30 if needed, homework

 IF NEEDED! Devil on one shoulder, I had to decide whether to inform her that that amount of time would cover one unit of one three unit class of her 15 units! Angel on the other, keep mouth shut and let her figure it out. Aack!  No wonder I’m feeling a tad anxious!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Things Missed

Running the dog, never missing a curfew, taking care of her grandmother, watching baseball with her dad, the funny text messages, the unexpected hug and the constant I love you, this is what I will miss most on a daily basis.  Bottle caps left all over the house, dog leash left on the table, shoes on the front porch, this is what I won’t miss.  Things missed= 8  Things not missed=  3  Not so bad. 

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Going Soon

27 days and counting!  You'd think the second go around on getting a daughter off to college would be easier.  I'm either more relaxed about what needs to get done or just incredibly lazy.  I should be ordering dorm sheets, helping her shop for things like bike/computer locks, asking for the day off to move her in, anything to move this laborious process along.   All I've done to prepare for the grand exit is buy 3 in 1 laundry soap.  Hadn't even heard of it until the orientation. As helpful as orientation was, really the best piece of advice was about laundry soap.  I even practiced using it at home.  Amazing!  Clearly I am not ready for this transition.  Help!  Teresa