I’m sitting here in the Courtyard Marriott on an interlude from George’s wedding activities. It’s quite odd to be in a hotel on the Cape rather than at Grandma’s House or The Retreat. Not, however, bad.

Lucy and Will were quite funny on the way here, Will saying that he liked hotels because that’s where they brought you the food and you could eat it on the bed. (“To the tune of $100 for bad pancakes,” Kelley of course added.) Lucy took no time in getting to the work of scoping out the room service menu which, in this case, is actually quite slim since it is only Domino’s pizza from 11 a.m. through, well, I’m not sure since Lucy has appropriated the detailed list. For most people (like, again, Kelley) this would be an awful transpiring of events. For Lucy, however, who has inherited my odd love for Domino’s pizza, it is the cherry on top. Thus the note I awoke to this morning:

Dear Mom,

I know it is still morning, but for dinner I want a small crunchy thin crust cheese pizza and side of chicken “kickers.” [quotations hers]

Lucy

In the words of David Letterman: I’m not making this stuff up.

Alas, for dinner we are being treated to a barbeque (how the heck do you spell that??? My spell check is saying it’s wrong, but I can’t think of what else it would be) at the compound and therefore will have to forego our Domino’s room service. Now, as much as I am a fan of Domino’s, I’m a fan of big family bbq’s even more.

I’m not entirely positive that Lucy is feeling the same way, but I’m thinking at the moment she is. The thing about being with George’s family is that there are a billion (or maybe a billion and two) kids around at any given time. In addition to the Churchill kids (six of them, between George, Elly, and Jon and their respective partners [and ex-partners, I suppose]), there are various cousins and, in this iteration, the children of all the wedding party. Actually tonight, there are probably even more coming in since it’s wedding guests as well. Last night, while the adults were at the rehearsal dinner, Betsy hired a coordinator plus four camp counselors to run childcare for the 25 kids. Lucy and Will were in heaven.

Most of the kids went their separate ways today, although we were lucky enough to spend the majority of the day with Daron, Ted, Leo (Ted and Elly’s 5-yr-old) and Julian (George’s 5 yr-old). Part of that was spent hanging out on the semi-private beach, part of it sailing to and from Egg Island with George W. (Refer to title of this blog.)

Will, for as much as he really doesn’t like venturing out into the water (the red seaweed paralyzed him — not literally, of course, although you would wonder if you saw him frozen in place this afternoon), absolutely LOVES being out on boats. And it’s pretty hard to tear Lucy away from the beach, although getting her onto the sailboat wasn’t exactly hard. Before we went out to the sailboat, George W. took all the kids puttering around in the Zodiac (or, according to Will’s not entirely accurate memory of the description in the car ride down, the “maniac”) for a while, leaving Daron, Jon, Kelley and I to just hang out on the beach. And this is why it’s really hard to return to real life after vacations.

One of the other really nice things was that I felt very little guilt leaving at around 4 to come back to the hotel and walk on the treadmill, shower, check email, and write this post. The kids probably haven’t even noticed I’m not there, and although Kelley has, it may only be because he needs me to bring Will a short-sleeved shirt when I return for the BBQ. (And I don’t even feel too much guilt there because there are so many 5-yr-old boys around that there’s no chance there won’t be an extra shirt lying around if it turns out it’s really desperately needed.)

That said, I am pushing it, so I really should go. Perhaps I will be able to get back on later tonight and write about what life is like for the other half. No, I’m not talking about those lucky enough to spend their days leisurely beach-going and sailing. I’m talking instead about that class of folks that I don’t think much about when it comes to the lives they have to lead: husbands.

Until later…

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While cleaning up Lucy’s bag of papers from her desk at school, I came across her poetry notebook and must share. (Full disclosure: spelling has been corrected):

MY FAMILY

I have a mom. I have a dad.
A little brother, too. My mom is
nice. My dad is nice, too. My little
brother is annoying. He’s lovable, too.
He’s cute. He has a thousand cars.
Maybe a thousand and two. My mom
and dad are very good cooks. I
am good, too.

And from her writing notebook:

11/29/07

Dear Grandma,

Thank you for comforting me when my brother
got to watch two TV shows in a row. You gave
me a hug and comfort me. You made my
expression change from mad and sad to happy.

Love, Lucy

Well here it is, halfway into day two of this vacation, and although I can’t believe it’s noon already, I am happy with what I’ve accomplished so far. As usual, I felt mongo (is that a word? It feels like it should be) guilt for making Lucy and Will go to their respective places when I’m sitting here at home. I was therefore quite relieved when Will barely even took the time to push me out the door. In fact, he was kind of looking at me like, ‘Why, exactly, are you still here?’ Oh, how we will miss this place next year.

I was a little more worried about Lucy as it is her first full day of camp, and, although she was there on Monday afternoon with After School, I was concerned about her coming into it mid-week. As I mentioned yesterday, though, she did seem excited and, when we woke up this morning, today was no different. In fact, she was almost skipping, she seemed so happy to see her new friends. (“Mommy, I told you that I knew Karen from last year.” Excuse me – one new friend and one friend from last year.) When we got to the park, she literally ran ahead of me, so eager to start playing. Her new friend (yes, the actual new one), Hannah, saw her immediately and ran to greet her. They ran off on a game of tag, which was joined at once by Hosin (I have absolutely no idea how to spell that, or even if that’s his actual name; work with me, here), a mid-year addition to her class at school with sometimes problematic results, and Isaac, her classmate since kindergarten. As I was leaving, her good friend Mekayla also showed up and the five of them began buzzing about their field trip today to the state park.

Don’t believe me? Here is the picture I took this morning:

Lucy and friends at camp this morning

Isn’t she beaming? (And, Cathy, notice what she’s wearing?) Oh, the happy.

It definitely put me in a great mood for yet another attempt at gym-going. (O.k., so that makes it seem like I’ve been attempting on a regular basis. It has been regular, just more like once every six months rather than anything more often.) With the exception of realizing that even the eightysomething-year-olds around me were walking faster than I was, it was an excellent treadmill experience. I even burned 143.5 whole calories. Which, yes, I immediately proceeded to negate by eating 4 double chocolate milano cookies, but hey, I would have done that anyway. And now that metabolism’s pumping, right? Uh, sure.

When I got home, I decided that enough was enough and took out that stray hedge by the front door. Yes, I left all of the branch droppings on the front yard, but it’s a start. Kelley doesn’t know it yet (unless he’s reading this right now), but part of the plan for Friday will be digging out the roots. He likes that kind of stuff, though (right, Chick?), so hopefully he’ll be more on the ‘Yay, Jen, you actually got off your butt and did something!’ attitude than ‘Oy, Jen, could you just maybe leave things alone until we talk it all out first?’ one. Not that that’s a bone of contention or anything, of course. 🙂

I also did finally manage to get to some emails that I haven’t had a chance to over the last week and a half. Man, work has taken a lot out of me! It feels good to be able to start moving other things forward again, though; hopefully it will continue along these lines.

With that in mind, I will sign off for the moment and start cleaning up some of those branches. And then maybe I’ll get to work on that new chapter. Or my desk. Or, well, whatever.

Tune in again later today and find out what I’ve managed to get done. On that exciting note…

I had one of those days yesterday where everything just seemed to be going wrong. I was miserable — miserable, I tell ya — and working my way into such a state that the lack of a decent help section in our new webmail application nearly sent me into a breakdown-level tizzy. Today, on the other hand, was a definite improvement.

For one thing, it was Lucy’s last day of school, so we had planned an afternoon of hanging together. Based on promises made throughout last week, I took her to lunch, then to ice cream, and then to Target. At the last of those spots, I very deliberately let her literally walk through every aisle as she tried to decide what to spend her first $14 worth of allowance on. (A slip and slide, in case you were wondering, plus a Hello Kitty puzzle.) Then we went to the library, and then came home, made popcorn, and watched a movie. It was pretty awesome to see that the things she wanted to do on her day off were almost exactly the things I wanted to do. The bonus of it all was that, rather than being angry that we are sending her to Y camp for the rest of the week, she actually seemed quite excited. So, yay — no guilt! That’s quite nice, let me tell you.

The second part of the turnaround was that she got her report card and her reading level, which I had no doubt would be at above her actual grade level, indicates she’s where they want people to be at the end of fifth grade. Is that not awesome? I am so incredibly proud of her.

The day, though, did make me think about what I want to be doing with my life. (That and the whole, we’re-doomed-since-global-warming-is-bringing-the-world-to-the-end-so-decide-what-you-want-your-last-days-to-be-like thing, of course.) Which was where I was mentally when, lo and behold, an email came across my desk that had a job that can be done entirely remotely for a company that I think is pretty cool. For the last hour, I’ve been trying to figure out whether to actually send the cover letter that I wrote. It’s not just a lifestyle thing. I feel like the last several months have burned me out in a way that this job hasn’t before. I’d like to think that these few days off will help; the last few didn’t, though, so I’m not overly hopeful.

But is getting a new job the answer? I’m not really sure it is. I’m not sure I want to learn new ropes and meet new people. Oh, I’m sure they’re all pretty great — in fact, I spent the better part of this evening reading through blogs and twitter postings and various websites that gave me a pretty good sense of what the supervisor for this position is like. She seems pretty awesome and yet the coolness factor — that I do not in any way share — is almost tiring. It makes me feel, well, old. Who are all these 2.0 people, and can I possibly keep up with them? Or actually, do I want to invest the energy in keeping up with them. I don’t know. I just don’t know.

Not that I’m assuming that I’d even get anything beyond a cursory ‘thanks for your email,’ if even that. But if I did…

Anyway, I did write the cover letter. I sent it to myself, just to do something; I guess I’ll have to see what the morning brings.

Of course, I didn’t invest any time in doing what I had intended to be doing tonight, which was finish the frickin’ chapter I’m working on. I’ve got a whole line done — yep, sentence #1. I even have a sense of what sentences #2 and 3 will be. I just can’t actually bring myself to write them. I have a feeling that this is some major psychological block going on… And that’s about as much as I want to think about it for now.

Sigh. Now it’s past midnight and I’m tired. I was even planning on trying to get more than 6 hours of sleep tonight. It truly annoys me to go to bed, though. It’s like I’m giving up on the day. Like some big failure. Yes, I realize this makes very little sense, and yet that’s how it is.

And on that note…

Today it was hard to get energized. Being in NJ over the weekend definitely put me in summer vacation mode. Not good when I’m not actually on vacation.

Anyway, I thought you guys might like to read about the conversation on the way to dinner. I was in the mood for Bertucci’s (when am I ever not?). Kelley, being exhausted after spending six hours driving home last night (oh, after getting up early with Will — I’m sorry, Chick; not the best way to celebrate Father’s Day?), put me on notice that he would be very cranky if they did their misbehaving schtick.

When he ran inside the house to change, I said to them, “Here’s the deal — Daddy’s really tired and might not be in a good mood tonight. I would be really happy if you two behaved the way you did on Friday night when we went to Friendly’s.”

Here’s the conversation that followed:

Lucy (after a few seconds’ pause): If it’s a deal, what do we get?
Me: Um, it’s not really a deal, I was saying ‘Here’s the deal.’
Lucy: Right, so it’s a deal. So what do we get?
Me: You get my everlasting love?
Lucy (looking suspicious): What else would we get?
Me (incredulous): You mean you don’t want my everlasting love?
Lucy: Well, how much is that?
Me: It’s everlasting.
Will: Can we have dessert instead?
Me: You’d rather have dessert than my everlasting love?
Lucy: You love us everlasting no matter what.
Me (busted!): Well, yes, but that’s a pretty good deal.
Lucy (not buying it one bit): Can we make brownies tonight?
Me: Not tonight. But maybe tomorrow.
Lucy: Do you promise tomorrow?
Me (fine!): I promise.
Lucy (looking at Will and indicating that the negotiating is done): O.k. then. It’s a deal.

Sigh. I thought having smart kids was supposed to be a good thing.

Today was supposed to be my first day back after my nice, relaxing vacation. Not so much.

To start with, I didn’t get out of the shower until 7:42. Granted, I’m usually on the later side, but I’m at least usually getting myself into the day. 7:42 is twenty minutes later than usual. We’re supposed to leave the house by 7:45.

We come out of the house to find not one, but TWO garbage trucks closing in on us, one from each direction. We manage just barely to get out before the trucks made it the point of no return. At the same time, we’re definitely running later than normal. I get Lucy off with mostly no hitches. The only problem being that I completely forgot to write the note to her teacher telling her that I’m picking Lucy up early. Luckily, I’ve got eight million pens at my disposal in the car. No, wait — that one doesn’t have any ink. Not that one, either.

I finally manage to get her into the building, note intact. Off we go to Will’s school.

Well, maybe not entirely since we’re now stuck behind a street sweeper that is going just fast enough that passing it is obnoxious; just slow enough that I. Am. Going. Out. Of. My. Mind.

Fuck it. We’re driving around.

Excellent — I’m now no longer behind the street sweeper; instead, I am directly in front of it since after swerving around it and being an ass, I find myself confronted with a red light. I choose not to look in the rear view mirror to see the street sweeper driver smirking at me. 

Green light — off we go! I am happy to leave the street sweeper in my dust. Three stoplights later and we’re at the school. Will is being awesome, gives me a hug and kiss (and then a second hug and kiss when I ask for it), is all ready to push me out the door, when Patricia asks if we’re ordering any pictures. Picture day? Yes, of course I knew that — we let Will pick out the shirt for it and everything. Why I thought we didn’t have to pay for it, however…

It is now 8:20 and I am officially running too late to get to the 9:30 meeting that I need to run, my first official act back from vacay. Yet I must pick between Package A, B, C, and D, all of which are overpriced and none of which have the necessary amount of wallet photos. Fine. Package B plus Option W for a total of 8 wallet photos, 2 5x7s, and one class picture, yours for the dirt bottom price of $32. Which, by the way, I now owe to Brid since I have not nearly enough cash and no checkbook.

By the time I get to the parking lot (after more hugs and kisses and Will’s sweet “I won’t cry, Mommy. I promise”), I have realized that there is no way I’m making it to the office today. Not when I have to leave by 2 in order to get Lucy and also have hopes of getting anything done. So I call wonderful Alisa. I tell her I’m not coming in. She doesn’t freak. I love her.

After getting a very large iced coffee, I come back home. It takes me two hours to get through the messages from this morning and yesterday evening (with a half hour conference call to take the place of the meeting I was supposed to run); I’m screwed. Still, I think it was a better plan. I did manage to at least read all the emails that came in last week and even respond to some of them. I have a ton more to deal with, and tomorrow is a completely lost cause since I am in meetings for all but one hour of the day. During the dance rehearsal, however, I will continue to slog away. When I’m done writing this post, of course.

Fast forward five hours and 500+ messages later. I look at the clock and, yay, I’m late again, this time to pick up Lucy. Rush, rush, rush out of the house. No roadblocks — or at least not overly bad — so I manage to make it in a reasonable amount of time. I know I’m in trouble, however, when I see that Esneda has picked up Vanessa a full half hour earlier. Every time I think I’m old hat at this… Sigh. 

Still, we’re doing o.k. — I’ve got the video camera, the regular camera, my laptop, etc.; I know where the makeup is, have even managed to find two hair elastics. Lucy is changing — she’s SOOOOO happy and excited, having chattered her way all the way home and up to her room. Damn, we’re good! I even remember to remind her to get a snack AND a bottle of water. We get to the car — 3:00 p.m. means a whole half hour to leisurely drive there and get her hair and makeup done — she looks through her bag, and… “Mommy, where are my ballet shoes?”

Ballet shoes? You mean the ones you need for the dress rehearsal we’re now on our way to?

@*&#)!!#*(@#$$$)_@)

I try not to be annoyed. Payless is (kind of) on the  way to the high school, and they happily have a whole shelf full of ballet shoes (as I noticed when we were there on Sunday, and would have just purchased then if we’d known we were missing the shoes, but that’s neither here nor there). Seriously, in the greater scheme of things, being late to the dress rehearsal, especially when I had originally told Deb that we weren’t going to make it on time in the first place, is not an awful occurrence. And, having become more aware over this last weekend of how my reaction affects everyone else, I particularly try to make sure that Lucy is not upset on this day that she’s so incredibly excited. I force the irritation out of my voice and ask how she’s doing in the back seat since it’s so quiet. “Fine,” she says, actually sounding like that’s the case (thank goodness). “Just watching that big cloud.”

Big cloud?  As in, big, honking, 75%-of-the-sky-is-now-pitch-black-and-reminding-me-that-we’re-getting-the-system-straight-from-the-midwest cloud?

#%@^#&^@**(#@#&*

There is, of course, no parking whatsoever at  the mall, but we only lose ten minutes (and eighteen bucks) on getting the shoes. And it has not yet started raining. Now, not getting lost on the way while trying to avoid traffic would have been preferable. Happily, however, we are but one of a million cars pulling up to the high school at the same time. Granted, all the other girls have their hair and makeup done already. Not bad, however, considering. And it doesn’t start pouring (thundering/lightning/blowing trees down) until we’re halfway to the building. Without my raincoat, my trip to Dunkin Donuts is out of the question (well, depending on when her dance is). We’re not the latest ones, though, and not the only ones frantically doing hair and makeup as Deb calls everyone to the stage.

We are now seriously underway, and all appears under control. Lucy has run through the opening and closing numbers and is now out in the lobby eating her snack. We did not get hit by lightning, and, so far, the worst part of all this is that my iced coffee is out of the question. (Man, and Esneda’s family just walked past with their bags of McDonald’s takeout smelling so incredibly yummy. I will not succumb. I will not succumb.) Well, that and it’s hard to be here without Cathy and Aitana. Other than that, though, we’re doing good.

 

A few more links from today’s email:

www.readwriteweb.com/archives/why_gen_y_is_going_to_change_the_web.php

 

 

It’s 10:37 p.m. and I am falling asleep — Cousins’ Weekend 2008 has tired me out! I think I may actually turn in, although it feels entirely too early. Before I do, however, I need to note: Lucy just got a call from a boy. Five calls, actually, and he didn’t leave a message. We only figured out who it was because I finally managed to get to the phone before the answering machine picked up and, when he asked for Lucy, I asked who it was, and he said Damarcus.

!!!!!!! 

So anyway, my initial thought was — goodness, she’s only in second grade! Then my immediate next thought was — did Mean Girl #1 put him up to it? Is this going to be an analog cyber-bullying thing? Having Mommy here and egging me on didn’t help, of course. Having Jaime here, however, was immensely helpful — she totally laughed at us and said did it ever occur to us that maybe he was just calling for a playdate? 

There is no chance he’s calling for a playdate; of that, I’m sure. On the other hand, putting Damarcus up to a phone call does seem a bit too old for 2nd grade. Maybe not, as kids are definitely seeming older these days. But if that’s what was really going on, I don’t think Damarcus would have been quite so ready to talk to me. As soon as he realized it was me, he would probably have hung up; or at least sounded a little bit uncomfortable. So for now, I’ll just try and go along with Jaime’s way of thinking about things.

On another note — we had a great time today. We did the duck tours, both Lucy and Will got to drive. They were both good, but it was amazing to see Will at the wheel. He was incredibly serious, steady at the helm (literally), and, I dare say, a bit more in control than either Lucy or the other 8-year-old boy who took a turn. After the duck tour, we had lunch at Border Cafe. Then we were all very full so we didn’t do ice cream as originally planned. We did a bit of looking at shoes for Lucy for Jaime’s wedding, and then we hit Paper Source for the seating cards. From there, we just came home and hung out on the deck drinking Malibu Bay Breezes and eating cheese and crackers. (One of these days I’ll get around to uploading pictures to here or Flickr or Facebook.) Now Juno is ending, and it’s probably time to go to bed.