Category Archives: Stuff we’ve done

Finding Moments

It’s been a long, crazy weekend here.  Grateful for sun after three days of rain and the coolest spring I can recall since moving here, we kicked off the weekend with strawberry picking at one of my favorite farms.  Saturday morning was a raucous game of soccer, or as close as can be had with a bunch of three-year-olds.  And still drunk on blue sky and warm breezes, we came to realize that nothing would make the weekend more perfect than a night spent under open skies.

Really, there was no “we” in that realization.  I have this idealist vision of camping, memories of my mom cooking a huge breakfast on a griddle while my dad helped me and my brother find worms and nightcrawlers for fishing.  When I was a kid we spent a lot of time in campgrounds and took first our truck camper, and later Winnebago, all over the country.  I’ve either blocked out the bad parts, or it was AWESOME.  I dream of a pop-up camper; so far the furthest I’ve gotten is convincing my husband that sitting around a campfire and sleeping in a tent a few times a year won’t kill him.

Anyway we packed up Big Blue, got the dogs and kid in the car (J, at sixteen, was just way too cool for camping),  and headed outside the city.  Of course by the time we got there, set up camp, scavenged enough wood to start a fire, made dinner and made our way back and forth to the communal bathroom several times, T was so exhausted he was crying to go to bed even before making “fo fo’s” (marshmallows).  As the fire started to burn out and the temperatures dipped, we noticed we didn’t have the tarp for the top of our tent.  We huddled together on the air mattress that managed to spring a leak since the last time we used it, staring up at the stars through our unimpeded view.  And finally, finally, the squirrels, deer, bears, mountain lions, and other guests stopped their partying long enough for me to fall asleep…only to wake and repeat the chaos of toddler-caring, fire-making, food-preparing and the rest of it.

Batshit crazyBy the time we packed up I was more than ready to go.  T had been whining non-stop for nearly two hours, I found myself repeating and REPEATING simple directions such as “stop throwing rocks!” and “stay away from the fire, it’s hot!” and I wanted nothing more than to be home and the sweet solace of T’s naptime.  And I’m sad to say that, while I strive to use kind words and toddler-level reasoning with him every day, by the time we got in the car my frustration and short temper were starting to spread like toxic mold.

We did make it home, an uneventful trip except for the ginormous spider I found crawling on my shirt (seriously, I almost died).  A too-quick nap and T was awake and still acting up, incapable of listening out of shear exhaustion.  But as I tried to get some of the laundry started and dishes washed and camping carnage put away, I kept passing him lying, quite peacefully, on the couch, watching a movie.  And I recalled that it can wait, all of it.  I have not doubt that pile of greasy pans will still be in the sink after he goes to bed, or even tomorrow morning.  But for this moment, of T being three-and-a-few-months and just the two of us lying together, watching Toy Story, still smelling like campfire and sunshine, I have no such guarantee.  So I took it, and he put his hand on my head and smiled, and life was good.



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July? Hello??

Oh, Summer, how I hate you with your heat and humidity and ginormous electric bills.  If only you could be like Fall, so beautiful with her pretty colors and crisp air and trips to the orchard to pick apples.  Although I do enjoy your lazy weekends and  long days…

AHAHAAAA!  That’s hilarious!  The only thing I spend more time doing during the summer than sweating is wishing I’d become a teacher (or at least a professional student) so I could have them off.  More hours of daylight are great, but there is really no such thing as a long ENOUGH day when you work full-time and have kids.  Which doesn’t change my desire to make sure the boys get the full summer experience, it’s just a bit more challenging.  Luckily (for me and the boys at least, if not DH) my body seems capable of moving not only at warp speed, but also on little sleep this time of year.  So we’ve been boating, camping, and to the beach, went to visit Grandma and Grandpa, saw fireworks and an airshow, spent time at the pool, went to the fair, planted a garden, learned how to run and jump and swim, built a fort, went to ball games, made friends, saw concerts in the park, watched movies on the pier and at the drive-in movie theater (yes, we still have one!), and then I looked up and it was August.

There are times when DH catches me standing, watching, and will ask what I’m doing.  I’m just trying to remember, which is impossible of course but there are so many perfect (and even some not-so-perfect) moments that I want to keep forever so I can replay them like a video recorder.  So before I forget them all and since a good number have already slipped by, here are a few of the things from the past several weeks that I hope to keep in my mind’s eye, in no particular order:

1.  Waking up to the smell of my Dad making pancakes on a Saturday morning.  I’m not sure where he got his culinary skills and don’t recall him doing it when we were kids, but he started a trend a few years ago and I look forward to it.

2.  T, in all his toddler glory.  It’s been a month of firsts – the first time he said Mama (seriously, my heart still skips), climbed up on the couch, saw fireworks, played on swings, used the signs I’ve been showing him since he was three months old, brought me a book to read, climbed up on the couch, climbed down the stairs by himself, sat in his little rocking chair, discovered he could also get into the big rocking chair and then rode it like a surf board.  I love watching his face, the wonder and excitement with every discovery, the sounds he makes while he investigates, takes it all in.

What video games do to your brain.

3.  DH’s face when he gets to spend time with J.  Even when they are just playing video games, they really enjoy each other’s company.

4.  J finished eighth grade. I knew this day was coming but it just seems surreal, and I am definitely not feeling old enough to be stepmom to a high schooler!  There have been so many challenges and adjustments but he’s a good kid, I have faith in him.

5.  My brother brought a girl home to meet my parents.  This makes the list because it has NEVER happened.  Ever.  Unfortunately they broke up a few weeks later but she clearly did not know what a catch he is and was therefore not good enough for him anyway.

6.  Baseball.  Because it’s summer, and I love baseball!

July went so fast, and August seems to be on the same track, that there are days it seems I should remind myself to breath.  There will be plenty of time for that during the dark days of winter but here’s wishing a happy August, in case I once again fall into the speed warp.

The Griswalds vacation – minus the dogs, fighting, bathroom breaks and surprisingly light on the luggage.


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The Good, the Bad and the Awesome

I may have mentioned before that I love living in Baltimore.  I was not born or raised a “city person,” but I realized at an early age that there is comfort to be found in the chaos of urban life.  When I moved here I’d already lived in cities on each coast and everywhere in between, each with its own manner and mood.  To me Baltimore is a city of contrasts, high-strung in a laid back kind of way, with a “c’mon please love me no never mind I don’t care if you do” vibe.  It’s like the kid in high school who somehow managed to squeak into the top 10 of the class after spending four years doing homework on the bus – you don’t know how or why, but somehow the combination of minimal effort and maximum attitude create something wonderful.  Anyway, I like it and it suits me (probably because I was that kid).

He looks a lot like this, only shorter with more ear hair.

Not everything is always rosy in Urbtopia, however.  There are things about city-living that just grate on me sometimes.  For example, it seems that all things related to owning and/or operating a motor vehicle within Charm City are cause for stress these days.  Last weekend, as I was getting in my car, the grumpy old fart who owns the take-out restaurant on the corner of my street yelled out to me.  “Hey, don’t you know you’re not supposed to park there after 10am?  Can’t you READ???”  Now, this man has not spoken to me or my husband in all the years we’ve lived in our house.  Nor has he so much as acknowledged our greetings as we crossed paths.  A few other facts:  The “no parking” sign hoards is intended to reserve three or four precious city parking spaces for “deliveries,” the sign is not specifically for his business, his stupid restaurant does not even open until noon, he uses the spots as personal parking spaces for himself and his equally nasty staff since they do not even deliver (it being a take-out place and all), the food is terrible, and they only get “deliveries” like once a week, likely because the food is so bad.  To add further insult, rather than walk over it to get in my car, I’d just picked up the trash on the sidewalk in front of his restaurant (which he witnessed prior to his snarky comment), something I usually do as I may my way through the neighborhood and something I’d never seen him do.  Ever.  And so as I stood there holding the disgusting used cups and paper plates from his nasty take-out place, I found myself counting to ten so as not to shove them down his throat.   And while he was telling me he was going to call parking enforcement the next time he so much as saw my car within that block (please do, my friend – you have no idea who I am, what I do or who I know), I told him to have a nice day and sped off.  Argh. 

Later that same day, some idiot in a souped up car that should not have been souped up (like a Honda or something, come on people) started to weave into my lane and so I tapped my horn at him.  As a courtesy, as if to say “get out of my lane idiot, get off your phone and watch where you’re going.”  He proceeded to violently swerve directly into my lane, slam on his brakes, put the car in park and get out of his car.   Now I learned how to drive in NYC and I can tell you this is nothing new to me.  Of course we’ve all heard horror stories of road rage but this is Baltimore people, just get over yourself and your ridiculous vehicle and move it along, we all have places we’d rather be than sitting in traffic.  Here’s the problem, at least for him:  I had T in the car.  And if I would not have put up with this nonsense before T, I was all out “don’t you mess with this mama with her baby in the car” this time around.  I will not insult you with the tirade that was unleashed, but Mr. Man jumped back in that car like his own mama just appeared and shamed him in front of his friends.  With any luck he takes that lesson back to his buddies and tells them all to watch out for the crazy lady in the blue station wagon.  Maybe he’s friends with the old fart, I could kill two birds with one stone.*

But I guess those were both bad….the weather is good.  Any day with sun and low humidity and a nice breeze is a good weather day, and we get lots of those.

Now for the awesome (insert drumroll here): 

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Photo credit: David Williams

Photo credit: Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun

What the pilot looked like from 150 feet as he buzzed my roof.

That’s right, Baltimore hosted a Star Spangled Sailabration to celebrate the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner and events included none other than the Blue Angels.  For two days I watched them do flybys past the windows of my office building and zoom all over downtown; on Saturday and Sunday DH, the kids and I watched them buzz over our house with a deafening roar. It was beyond awesome, it was once in a lifetime!  The only blip in the sheer awesomeness was that they were so fast (and my camera so slow) that I didn’t get a picture of them as they went over my house.  But I’m okay with that.

*  No birds were injured in the writing of this blog.


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