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Getting Ready for the UK

So we’re in the 24 hour mark.  I can’t believe our big vacation is upon us!  I, like usual, am in chaos.  In all honesty, I’ve done a lot.  Picked up all the little things we need but often forget before a trip.  Travel bottles for shampoo/conditioner, small toothpaste, a luggage scale, snacks for the kids, earplugs, etc.  I put the travel alerts on my credit cards, notified the cell phone company, did all the check ins online for the car and the plane.  I bathed the dog, made sure we had food and supplies for the animals, had keys made for the house sitters, and made sure I have my GPS preprogrammed for the trip (it was WAY cheaper to have the rental company ship me one to use rather than deal with it over in the UK).3

I’ve also answered the same questions from the kids 80 bazillion times, so much so that I just typed out an itinerary for my daughter to follow so she knows what’s happening when.

I’m pooped.  

I still have to drop the dog at the sitters, drop off keys, feed the kids and get them showered, and then begin the packing.  Oh yes, and tidy the damned house.  Did I mention I am working tomorrow morning too?  Why NOT work right before a major overseas trip when you have tons of stuff to do?  I am rethinking my choice there.  

Packing isn’t horrible, it’s just SO time consuming.  Why? Because I have to sort through everything, pack it, and then start unpacking when I realize I’m being ridiculous and don’t need all the masses of stuff I have packed. It’s a process, that’s for sure.  Wellies? I need those.  I also need my heels for a party, and shoes to wear each day, but do I need more than one pair for daily use?  And so it begins.  A suitcase piled with shoes.  One that my husband will gaze at with lifted eyebrow before telling me I am being ridiculous.  I will realize he’s right, and begin to sift and rethink everything.  Before you know it, it will be late, so late, and I will cry from being over tired, as if I’m a little kid again.  He will tell me to go to bed, and I will gratefully do so, only to frantically get it all done in a few minutes before we leave for the airport.  I’m a last minute kind of girl.

I’m thinking it might be a good idea to get off here and go get stuff done, don’t you agree?  See you all soon!

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Quiet, Kindness and Chaos.

First snow of the season is here.  I’ll be honest, I wasn’t quite ready for it. Today was supposed to be my crazy chaos day…a crazy day at work followed by the first orthodontic session for the little one, topped of by parent teacher conferences at the big kid’s school.  I was prepped, caffeinated, and ready to attack this day and all it would entail.  I hammered out my work stuff today, ending feeling really good.  While the day was progressing, however, the calls and emails starting coming in.  Conferences…rescheduled due to the pending snow.  Orthodontist called…”can we reschedule until tomorrow due to the snow today?”.  Before I knew it, quiet and calm had fallen, along with big fat snow flakes.  I did manage to drop a return for Amazon to the UPS store on my lunch break.  Aside from that? It’s going to be a quiet night.  I can’t complain, it’s been hectic.

With our trip looming, there has been an outpouring of money, so it’s been a little tough. We needed more luggage, I needed (ok, fine, wanted) some new clothes, and we needed outfits for a party we are attending while there.  My daughter asked me if we could have matching outfits for the party.  I managed to find a dress for her that is very reminiscent of mine, a similar cardigan to go over, and similar shoes.  She’s thrilled.  I’m thrilled she wants to dress like me.  I know in a year or two, she’ll start that stage where she is mortified by my very existence, although I, like all mom’s deeply hope she won’t go through it.  She will anyway, which is why when she asks to match me, I will always say yes.  She has her own style, her own look, and is her own person.  We celebrate that.  I’ve never wanted her to be a kid who has to be like everyone else, does what everyone does, etc.  I’ve seen kids who’s parents spend a lot of time and effort to always have them keep up with whatever their friends have.  Sure, kids like to have what their friends have,  but sometimes you can see it’s a constant comparison.  I never want her to place her worth on what other kids are doing, but rather on who SHE is.  That being said, sometimes she likes the novelty of matching me, or her cousin, so I go with the flow, as long as she stays true to who she is.

I’ve commented before about the issues our school has been facing.  Redistricting brought in a lot of low income families, and the school is struggling to fundraise.  I hate to see the kids lost out, and have offered to help when possible, especially the 6th grade committee.  The PTSA and I sort of had a rough go of it, and while I love many of the women on there, I’m sure it’s best if I help in other ways.  I was blessed to have a friend of mine reach out with “hey charitable lady, need raffle prizes?” on facebook.  I emphatically said yes, and was rewarded with bags of awesome items and gift cards to donate into the school.  She also handed me a $50 gift card to a grocery store and told me to use my judgement to help someone.  How amazing is that???  I have find that many people love to help, donate, or offer something for a good cause.  They just don’t always want to do the heavy lifting of coordination, or other commitments prevent them from jumping in as they would like.  I’m a boots on the ground person, who doesn’t mind doing the work, but needs the resources.  This works well.  The fact people know I’m a doer has served me well, as you can see, because now I don’t have to beg…amazing folks just offer, knowing I’ll have a need.  It’s amazing, and I am so very lucky.  After picking up the items yesterday, my car was filled, as well as my heart.  While it sounds cheesy, it feels good to be able to put together something that helps. The gift card for the groceries…that needed a home sooner rather than later.  Next week is Thanksgiving and I wanted to be able to make someone smile.  I thought of a single mom I know.  She lost her job over the summer, and is now playing catch up.  She has always had it rough financially, but she does the very best she can for her kids.  She is always the one to be the team mom, the mom at girl scout camping, etc.  What she doesn’t have in cash she makes up for in time.  When I placed a call about needing a helper over the summer, she was the first to volunteer as my sidekick for whatever I might need.  I knew that card may make her Thanksgiving easier.  I knocked on her door and said “Happy Thanksgiving!” I explained I had been gifted the card to find a happy home for someone who deserved a break and could use a little help around the holidays.  The beaming smile I got in return made my whole day.  I’m lucky to have a friend who would donate some money to help those that need it.  I’m also lucky to have a friend who will give her time and energy to help those around her.  I’m luckiest of all that I got to be the one to help hand out some kindness and see the joy it brought.  I messaged my friend who donated the card and thanked her. She was pleased with my choice of whom to give it to.  Everyone felt a little happier last night.  Kindness will do that to a person.  Choose it whenever you can.

Then again, take no shit.  That’s a good motto too. Which leads me to:

North

So, many of you found me via twitter.  Many of you also know from both twitter and here that my family member has been stalking me online for years using fake accounts that she creates whole fake lives for.  I’ve listened to the lies, the projection of what she does on to everyone else, etc. A few weeks ago, I got a follow request (had to lock and block on all my social media) from someone that didn’t sit right with me.  I did a search, and low and behold it’s a coworker of the stalker.  I’m not mad at the coworker. She listened to what she heard and I’m sure they thought this would be a “stealth” thing to do. I think mostly, she was shocked I figured out who she was.  In fact, as soon as it clicked, I had all her info.  The internet works like that.  I messaged her, spilled all the tea, and wished her a happy Thanksgiving.  Now that being said, I’m all set.  I’m done with this.  Let me be clear.  If you come for me, my husband, or my kids, I will come back for you like it is my 2nd job.  I’m a nice person, until you make it not so.  So understand, very clearly…..I’m tired.  I’ve had enough.  The North Remembers, and Winter is Coming.

 

 

 

 

Hey stalkers, how you doing?

Yep, and now there are two.  Hi Smarpet74, or shall I refer to you by your real name, Gail.  You and Evelyn/Christa/Positive Change and the slew of other fake accounts she has are now teaming up.  Cute. Took me a while to figure it out, but here we are. If you have questions, I’d love to chat.  Really.  I have so much to tell you, and the proof to back every word up. See, what you’ve heard isn’t the real story.  Ask me, I’ll fill you in.  Want to do coffee?

 

Of course, I unlocked my account, so it was all for naught, really, wasn’t it? But it’s all good.  Locked up again, snuggly and warm.  Guess you guys can try a new one?

 

 

 

Bullies and Bears

The other day, I wrote about how my daughter chose to take one of her late grandmother’s collectible bears to school.  Off she went, beaming with happiness.  The kids who arrived home that night was a different kid, however, a kid who sat on my couch and cried.  Apparently, a boy in her class told her the bear was ugly.

Now, I knew it wasn’t about the comment about the bear per say.  It was the fact the comment hit multiple nerves.  It was a dig at her bear, sure, but to her it was also a dig at her late grandmother, a woman she has no memory of but still thinks of lovingly.  It was a dig at her very hard thought about choice of which bear to take.  It was a dig at her pride.  It was personal.

As soon as he said it, she cried.  The teacher said she may want to go to the restroom to clean up, but my daughter went into the hall to have some time alone.  I felt awful for her, and frankly, pretty pissed off at this kid who hurt her.  Afterwards, the teacher pulled them both aside to get some info on what happened, and the kid apologized.  She didn’t seem to think that the apology was sincere, and came home looking pretty defeated.

I sat feeling torn while listening to this.  The mama bear in me wanted to rage.  The honest mom in me, who knows my daughter is going through a stage where she’s not always mindful in her tone wondered if she had ruffled the kid’s feathers and he had retaliated.  Also, I knew I had to find a way to explain that some kids are just little assholes.

I asked her a lot of questions.  We talked about her feelings, and how they were deeper than the bear itself.  I asked about what led up to it, had she said anything, and we discussed mindfulness of how she speaks to others.  We also had a long discussion about how sometimes, when someone is mean to you, it’s not about you at all, but really about what’s going on with THEM.  I finished off by saying that not everyone will like her, and that’s OK.  She is great as she is and shouldn’t change to appease people.  She also won’t like everyone else, and that’s ok too, but she should still attempt to be respectful whenever possible.  It was a good talk.

I was still mad though.  I think she was too.

Then she told me the same kid had called her stupid a week or so ago.  Then I wanted to rage.

But I didn’t.

I paused to think about what to do next, to sleep on it, and make a decision when I felt less ragey.  I’m still deciding.  Do I talk to the teacher and mention it?  Do I hold off and let my daughter handle it?  I’m struggling to allow her to fight her own battles but also to not let her end up in a losing battle feeling alone or unprotected in some way.

This is where I left it.  I told her that if it happens again, to confront the boy, ask what the problem is, and tell him he is acting badly.  This made her nervous she would get into trouble.  I told her she will never get in trouble with me for defending herself and standing up for herself when someone is being nasty to her.  I explained that she has to be her own best advocate, and that I would back her up and support her.  She knows that if she needs me to step in, I will.    I also explained that people may tell her that boys may be mean to her if they like her, but not to fall for that because it is a lie.  I said boys that like you will be kind to you.

Raising kids is hard, I tell ya.

 

Teddy Bears and a Legacy

Harrods

My mother always had a fondness for Teddy bears.  As a child, I remember having a few dolls I played with, some hot wheels cars (my red VW bug was a favorite), a garage with a ramp (I spent hours playing with that) and a few other toys.  When it came to comfort though, teddy bears were my go to.  There was something about them that made me feel safe, happy, and they were the best to cuddle with at night.  I think she got me some of my favorite bears.  When I grew up, she got herself a Harrod’s Christmas bear.  Then she got a couple more over the years.  After she died, I made the decision that the bears would come home with me.

The bears were stored in my daughter’s closet.  Recently, she has taken a bit of an interest in them, especially because they were her Nana’s.  My mom died 4 years before my daughter was born.  She never got to meet my mother, and has only heard stories about her over the years.  I have always tried to share stories of my mother with the kids, as it’s the only way to keep her memory with them.  I usually try to select funny stories, which they love hearing.

My daughter’s school gives reward stickers for good behavior.  Once the kids earn a certain amount of stickers, they get a reward, and my daughter finally met the required amount.  I asked what her reward would be, and she said that she was allowed to take a stuffed animal or doll to school.    I fully expected her to take her lifelike baby doll that she adores.  Frankly, I find the doll a little creepy, but she LOVES that doll.  It looks so much like a real baby, I unfortunately had to tell her she can’t leave the doll in the car for fear someone will think it’s real and smash my windows out.  I was rather shocked when I saw her clearly gearing up to ask me something she was nervous about.

“Mama, can I take one of Nana’s bears? Nobody can touch it but me, and I’d love to be able to take one.  Would she mind?”

I fought really hard not to have my eyes tear up.  I told her of course she could take one to school, as long as she took care of it.

She spent several days mulling over which one to take, before settling on the one from 2000.  It was a special bear, with moveable limbs.  I said we should put it in a plastic bag so she could carry it easily. She looked concerned.  “Nana might not like that….is it a boy bear or a girl bear? What was the bear’s name?  Would she mind if I changed the name or gave it a name?”

I thought for a moment and responded “your Nana loved this bear.  She would be so HONORED that you would choose her bear as your reward. She would be so proud that you are concerned about how to best look after it, and she would be so THRILLED that you would love this bear for her. She would be so incredibly, undeniably proud to be your Nana, and she would love you and your brother more than anything”.

And with that, she and the bear hopped out of the car and headed to school, a big smile across her face.

Some random facts about me, in case you (never) wondered:

myself

Some random facts about me, in case you (never) wondered:

Some are silly musings, some are a bit deeper in nature.  Maybe if one is interesting I’ll blog about it later.

I talk to myself in the car, Every. Single. Day.  It’s where I work out my problems, get out my frustrations, and narrate my life to myself.  If you’re driving along side me, you’ll probably see me having a full on convo with myself.  Ain’t no shame in my game.

When I was little, I trained with olympic coaches for figure skating.  I was ambidextrous, which was desirable.  I quit after my skin split from the cold and started bleeding one night, and my babysitter at the time freaked out.  Her fear scared me, and I decided I didn’t want to skate again after that.  My parents were sad, but never pushed me into anything I wasn’t comfortable with.

Little dogs make me anxious, probably because they seem more delicate.

I lost my English accent when I was a kid, but it comes back when I am in England or talking to my family from there.  I wish I had it all the time. My brain just switches and I don’t have any thought into it.

When I was a toddler, I had imaginary friends that I would talk to every night.  I always wanted my door shut and the lights off, and if my mom came in the room I would cry she had frightened them away.  One day, I saw a picture of a couple in a book and asked my mom how she had gotten a picture of them….it was a couple who had lived nearby who died long before I was born.

I have had several experiences that lead me to believe in spirits, however I’m not religious and struggle with the concept of God. The two seem to go hand in hand but for me, I can’t reconcile it all.

I believe that the more someone tells you how real they are, the more full of shit and deceptive they probably are.  Real people don’t need to advertise it.  They just live their lives.

One of my favorite quotes is “you are never to old to be what you might have been”-George Eliot.

Self esteem is the root of many of our problems, in my opinion.  If we all believed in ourselves more, loved ourselves more, we’d make MUCH better decisions and put up with a lot less nonsense.

Ice cream is one of my favorite things.  The texture, the temperature, the multitude of flavors….just everything about it makes me happy. I rarely say no to it, and I’ll sometimes allow my kids to have it as a treat before dinner.

Someone told me today my dad was one of his heroes.  My eyes teared up and I welled up with pride.  My dad is such a quiet guy who doesn’t really share all the amazing things he does.  I wish I knew more, but he’s humble and doesn’t think to really share such things.  I’m so proud to be his daughter.

I like silence.

I have about 16 tattoos.  Most people think I have 4, (small ones).  A former coworker once sat and told me how they hated tattooed women and how they thought it was horrible.  They became very uncomfortable when I explained my husband tattoos and I have quite a lot of them.  They responded “well, at least you can’t see them”, as if that made their comments any better.  I just laughed and walked away, knowing they felt really uncomfortable.

I have a stalker. She checks my blog on the regular and created fake accounts to get notifications of when I post, to harass me with on other platforms, and to stalk others. I almost moved the blog and changed the name, but I decided for now to keep it as is.  I know her IRL.  Awkward.  On the bright side, things seemed to have calmed down, so I’m hopeful it will end.

An ex of mine was black.  I’m about as fair as it gets.  When people tell you that racism doesn’t exist, when they tell you that black people and minorities are “exaggerating” how bad racism is, they are lying or they are ignorant of what really goes on.  I never really experienced racism growing up, but I learned quickly during that relationship just how deep it goes.  Racism isn’t always in your face.  Sometimes it flows like a silent, underlying current, or it’s whispers.  Going to an event with my ex and someone white sidled up to me and whispered asked who invited the “N*****” to the party with a laugh.  I was horrified, first at the racist comment, and then at the fact the person felt just so comfortable in saying it to me, clearly because I was white.  I guess they thought that they were talking to someone in the “white club” who would share their views. Their laugh quieted very quickly when I called over to my ex and asked him to come over to introduce himself.  We then politely turned to mingle elsewhere, while that person sat looking inherently uncomfortable.  Yes, it was the classier thing to do, but looking back now I wish I had told the person off.  Then again, I think they learned at least a small lesson.  Sadly, they are probably the same ignorant racist but perhaps they will be less likely to spread their thoughts to others.  While that relationship with my ex eventually ended (on good terms as well) it opened my eyes and ears to an issue. Which leads me to:

When we know others are suffering, but we say “well, it doesn’t impact me so it’s probably not my business”, we are ignoring a basic truth that we are all people, and that kindness matters.  One day, that hurt may come our way, and we would hope someone would stand for us.  It’s not easy to stand for others sometimes, but it is necessary if we wish to raise empathetic children.

I am sometimes really awkward. I’m also generally self aware enough to know when I am being awkward, which makes me feel even more awkward.  Ah well.

When I was a little girl, a neighborhood kid tricked me into sitting in dog shit so the other kids would laugh.  That humiliation was DEEP and it stayed with me.  I’d probably punch her in the neck now if I had my chance.  Her name was Cindy.  That’s all I remember.

My best friend growing up has a dad who is a hoarder.  I’m to this day one of the few people he is comfortable letting in the house, because he knows I don’t judge.  I have a bit of a fascination with hoarding.  I believe it’s way more common than people think it is, and I’ve had several friends who have relatives who hoard. My house is messy. (I’m sure you figured that out by the blog title) but not at hoarder standards. I think the combination of working full time, limited free time, 2 kids, and a lack of organizational skills in the home is the root.  It bothers me a lot because my mom was a neat freak and I wish I had inherited at least a little bit of that.

I love comedies.  Laughing is one of my favorite things.

I often try to see both sides of a situation.  Sometimes this drives people nuts.

Being born British has its perks. For example, nobody expects me to be a very good cook.  Usually they ask me to bring plates or soda to events.  Luckily nobody expects any highly complicated dishes from me.   I’ll admit I’m not a fancy cook.  I have a few things I make pretty well, or at least well that people will go for seconds for.  That being said, I love British food, but then again, most British people probably do. 🙂

Speaking of British food, fish and chips is my comfort food.  It is hard, though, in the US to find a place who can make it JUST like it is in England.  It’s often close, but never quite right.  A Salt and Battery in NYC has it to a science. If you’re in the area, GO.  Then go next door to Tea and Sympathy for hot rhubarb crumble with custard.  You’ll thank me later, even though you’ll have to roll yourself to your final destination because you’ll feel like a fatty after.  It’s utterly delish!

I love getting comments on my blog.  Drop a line sometime.

 

 

 

 

 

Awkward

I have a big heart, but man can I get socially awkward.

Sometimes, I’m sure I don’t even realize I’ve been awkward, but sometimes, after the fact, it becomes abundantly clear to me, and then I want to crawl into a hole.  I think the issue has a few sides to it.  First, I’m British, and am not lovey dovey by nature (except with my kids and husband).  I’m not one to run around hugging everyone.  That being said, I have family members who are very huggy, and I’m getting better at doing the whole hug thing. Second, I’m not great at small talk.  I think I need a class or something, because I typically find small talk to be rather disingenuous and uncomfortable.  It feels like wasted air a lot of time, and it often can come to an awkward end.  Third, I’m fairly shy when I don’t know people.  I won’t have any urge to go seek out someone to chat with, but would rather find a task or job that needs doing and will help out that way instead.  That way, at least I’m not a lump but can keep myself efficiently busy and away from making awkward social mistakes.

It’s not easy to admit you’re awkward, especially to the internet, but here I am.

Today we had a big customer seminar.  I bumped into a lovely customer that I chatted with at length yesterday.  We both put our hands out, but I suddenly realized I had no idea what he was doing.  Was it a fist bump? a handshake?  I didn’t immediately recognize his hand movement as it begun and frankly, he clearly didn’t recognize mine either (I think he was going for a fist bump and I was going for a handshake…typically British).  What ended up happening was a weird entanglement of fingers trying to meet common ground.

AWKWARD.

I felt so awkward, I did the most awkward thing I could do, and sort of pulled him in for a “bro hug” when one hand goes behind the back and pats.

I’m so awkward I wanted to climb into a hole and have someone shovel dirt on top of me to hide my awkwardness. I realized how amazingly awkward I had made it, and I did exactly what you would expect me to do at that moment, based on what I told you above.

I. Ran. Away. CRINGE!

I have since spent a good couple of hours trying not to think about it, but being unsuccessful, leaving me cringing.

Are there classes to make one less awkward? If so, I need to sign up for those suckers pronto!